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Another wonderful Saturday morning trail run with the Nerds. The only exception is that I really didn’t run with them. I did however, end up running with three for a little while, but then we split up. It wasn’t anything personal today, I just felt like I needed a faster run as the Psycho race is approaching (Feb. 14). I should probably run the course, but I figured I’ll make the best of what I’ve got.

Everyone talks about the hills at the trail, so since Clinton apparently does not compete with WyCo in terms of hills, I decided to then push myself at Clinton. Everyone seemed to be in their own groove, anyway.

The upcoming race is only 10M, so today I ran roughly 11.3 or so at a faster than usual pace. I wasn’t truckin’ along, but it wasn’t the usual take-it-easy pace we usually do on Saturday. Here’s the GPS of today’s run:

Was a great run and made the best of it. And I’ll go ahead and publicly say it here on the blog: the reason for going harder today was because at Wednesday’s “beer run,” I told a few Trail Nerds I’ll do the WyCo 10M course in 1:33:00. Mind you, I’ve never been there and have only heard “horror stories” about the hills. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but I’ve heard they’re nothing like Clinton or River Front Park at all. So I don’t know what to expect, except I can promise they won’t be horrible hills, just more than I’m probably used to. All I’m saying is that I’ve been training for hills. 🙂

Will I make 1:33:00? I hope so. I’m confident, but sometimes over-confidence is my weakness, if you will. But if not, I won’t be mad at myself or feel as if I haven’t reached a goal. I’m doing it for fun and it’s a friendly bet (push-ups, I believe). Besides, these kinds of bets really fuel me when I’m feeling tired. So I cannot come out of that race saying I didn’t have motivation, because the motivation is fully-on! Whatever the outcome, I’m expecting a great time. I’ll have my first look at the course tomorrow as I’m volunteering for the Psycho 5K race, held at the same park. I might post something afterwards. Maybe a few thoughts about my observations.

Stay strong,
Mircea

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Early this morning (7:15 a.m.) Lisa and I met the Trail Nerds at Clinton Lake for our weekly Saturday run. Lisa had planned for a leisurely 10-miler while I was in it for 20 miles with Nick, Laurie, Stuart (I think that was his name), another lady whose name escapes me, as well as another fellow whose name is also sailing away at the moment–names are my weakness; forgive me.

Here is the GPS info from today’s run:

Gary was supposed to follow along, but this morning the weather was in the single digits (6 or 7) and the wind chill put it at -6º F. From my understanding, Gary is not a huge fan of the cold, and there was an issue: his hose connected to his water bladder had froze, as did mine and just about everyone else’s, so he decided since he didn’t have water to take it easy and turn around at Land’s End to make his run 10 miles.

I had shin issues early on in the race—roughly from about mile 2-6.2 (Land’s End). The bitch of it is that it’s not shin splnts; it’s something terribly annoying on the inside of my shins and it’s only in one specific area that’s relatively small in size, but painful as heck nonetheless. And sure enough it happened in both of my shins. And any runner will agree with me when I say that this kind of pain can zap your energy in no time at all. But I had to push through this. I did, however, stop to stretch then out and caught up with everyone at Land’s End.

The water issue luckily wasn’t something that had worries me since I felt pretty good up until mile 11-12 or so. Then I felt like I really needed either a Clif Shot, which I need water to wash it down with afterwards, or an energy bar of sorts. Mind you, up until that point, I had had nothing to eat or drink. I could feel that if I didn’t get something in my system soon, I would hit a wall for sure. So I decided on the Clif Bar. Problem though. It, too, was frozen solid! So I had asked Nick if we can stop for roughly one minute while I put my Water Pack inside my jacket in order to allow the frozen water to melt, and this would also allow my energy gel and bars to thaw as well. This worked, but it took about a good hour before I could get any water out of it through the tube. So what I had to do was when we got to our next rest point, I just drank from the bladder. To hell with it. I needed water, especially after having had a energy bar. When the ice in the tube finally melted, it tasted like ass, but it was water nonetheless. So I was happy.

When we made it to about mile 17, back at Land’s End, we stopped once again to pee and hydrate/refuel for several minutes. I felt a little fatigued at this point, probably because I wasn’t careful enough with my refueling methods. I’m sure having never run 20 miles before also had something to do with it, but there’s always an exception (I don’t have a lot of faith in these excuses, but it’s plausible of course–more on this at some point in the future). When I feel like this and then have to start running again, it’s always torture on my legs. But, again, I had to push through this and the pain gets placed in a special compartment where it doesn’t matter to me anymore. At least my shin issue wasn’t the only thing annoying me. But honestly, the shins at that point weren’t even as bad as they were in the beginning of the run. As I was telling Nick and Laurie, I sometimes need like 4, 5, or even 6 miles to warm up before I can start really running. It’s the strangest thing, really. It’s not *always* like this, but quite often.

Coming back to the parking lot felt amazing, simply because I was glad to be done. Up until the point we finished, pain had not entered my mind, but I knew once I was done and stopped, it wouldn’t be nice to me. When I finally reached the parking lot, I needed an immediate stretch because I could already feel leg pain coming on. Fortunately, it wasn’t all that bad (very, very manageable), but once I got in the car, my face was burning because it was so cold out there. I did feel bad that Lisa had to wait an hour for me after she had finished running, but she didn’t mind so that made me feel a tad better about it.

Overall a good run with good people. I always enjoy our Saturday runs and I can see my miles increasing. I may take tomorrow off to allow my legs time to recoup. However, after a bit of stretching , a great lunch at the Mirth, and some hydrating, my legs are already feeling pretty good. So I may wait until tomorrow to decide whether I’ll run or not.

Stay strong,
Mircea

Last night was a great run with the group and also a great time post-run at Free State. I’m starting to look forward to Wednesday runs, regardless of the mileage (it’s usually not bad anyway, but I’m just sayin’). I honestly couldn’t ask for a better group of people to run with. Everyone is awesomely supportive and friendly. This kind of attitude, IMO, is necessary in a sport like endurance running because so much of it is mental that we all need a boost every now and again. And I couldn’t ask for a boost from a better group of people.

Gary had sent me a link to insanely awesome photos from Hard Rock 100. With the physical aspect of the race aside, that race is AMAZING. Let me repeat: AMAZING! If you’ve never seen photos from the race, check them out and if you’re at all an outdoors person, you’ll immediately fall in love. Guaranteed.

Bringing the physical aspect back into perspective, this is a race I’d eventually like to run. I’m always up for these types of challenges. I’ve never been the type of person to take the “easy road/way out” (not that other 100M races are an “easy way out,” but let’s be honest, some are “easier” than others. Running a 100-miler will definitely test your soul; let’s not kid ourselves. But there are some 100-milers that will test your soul to the absolute core and then come back for more just to really see who you are. It’s these types of races that I’m somehow drawn to. I’m no doubt starting with what’s manageable for me, but we should all have long-term goals, and these are mine. To me, running 100 miles is never about “Let me see if I can do this.” No. I know it’s possible and that I can do it (maybe not tomorrow, but, physically and mentally for me, it’s possible at some later point). For me it’s more about, “How far can I mentally and physically push myself before I find out who I truly am?” So I wouldn’t walk away from a 100-miler saying, “Nice! I finished 100 Miles!!” Sure, it’d be amazingly awesome, no doubt, but it’s more to me than simply the accomplishment of the finish. There’s no mile limit to testing oneself.

Maybe it’s how I’m wired, I don’t know; but I’m never complacent in my achievements. There’s always more I can be doing, or something better than could have been done. There’s always another limit than can be pushed and overcome. This is my journey. This is who I am.

Some photos from the recent HURT 100 race.

http://community.webshots.com/user/akabill

Stay strong,
Mircea

What I had intended to do was add the GPS image of my full course run at River Front Park, but something strange is going on with the upload to MotionBased.com. Not sure what’s going on. Anyway, today was my first full course run there. Usually I just use it to do a quick 5-6 miles, but had extra time to do the entire thing. From what I have seen in another map of the park, the course was something like 8.89 miles, but my Forerunner told me it was 8.3 (and I even had it set to get GPS info every second, so I’d imagine the accuracy is something like +/- .1). Someone’s info is wrong, and I wish I knew whose it was. The only way to determine this is to run it again (or a few more times) and see if there are any discrepancies.

Anyway, the run was nice and the pace was pretty relaxed (1:28:00). I even stopped to look around a bit at the turn-around point at the end. I like seeing floating ice in rivers. Something peaceful about seeing water flow slowly and change in front of your eyes. And two of the same things (H2O and the solid form of H2O), yet in different states, together as one and working together moving into unknown territory. This, to me, is peace. After all, this is one of the reasons I trail run; to get away from it all and see and experience things that I probably would not have if I were either road running or not running at all. The trail was a bit muddy, but it feels good to go through the mud once in a while (especially since our instinct is to NOT go through mud in our daily routine).

This reminds me of an ad for Inov-8 shoes I saw today in Trail Runner magazine today that said, “Once it gets into your blood, off road running is a powerful narcotic…” How true this is. I sometimes wonder how I’ve gone on with my life without it in the past. How was I satisfied with myself? How did I really know who I was if I never pushed myself beyond my limits? How did I test my soul? I guess I really never knew myself in that sense. And, to be honest, I’m still learning about myself and I’m sure I’ll continue to learn who I am and what my limits are (as I surpass them!).

Stay strong,
Mircea

OK, so as of now, it looks as if Goggins will finish 4th in the H.U.R.T. 100 (unless something terribly drastic happens). I still can’t believe how strong Geoff Roes finished (20 hours 28 minutes). The guy must’ve been running his heart out. What an extreme performance. Amazing work, Geoff.

Goggins has just under 7.2M to go. He, too, did an amazing job this year in the race. Way to go to Goggins as well.

Before I turn in for the night, I wanted to put a link to the H.U.R.T 100. There’s a link on the sidebar of my blog, but I thought I’d remind anyone reading to check live updates!

My call: Watch for David Goggins. He’s not human, he’s a beast. I don’t think he’ll win (possible, but I don’t think so), but he’ll be top 3. No questions asked.

Stay strong,
Mircea

I’ve decided to take a day off today since Saturdays are my long(er) runs. it seems to work well for me if I take the day off before a long run. I still try to stay as active as possible, but still relax at the same time. I typically hydrate and eat well so tomorrow I’m properly hydrated and fueled. Admittedly, I do feel lazy on these days, but I know they’ll help me out in the long-run (no pun intended, really).

Having a running log is something interesting because when the week is almost over and you review the log, it’s hard to fathom that you haven’t run more than is logged. Not that this is bad, but for example this week I was looking over my log and thus far I’ve logged 17 miles. It’s not that I feel terribly sore and therefore feel as if I should’ve logged more, but there’s something about it that doesn’t feel right. As if I should be at least at 25 miles or so. This number of course will increase dramatically with tomorrow’s run and Sunday’s lighter run, but it’s still hard to believe I’ve logged so few miles. I wonder if anyone else encounters this issue, even if in reverse (you feel as if you’ve run fewer miles than the log states)?

One thing I started doing is not being so concerned about distance, but more so with time spent running. I recently picked up a book titled The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running and here’s an interesting thing it noted, and why I started on this time and not distance kick:

The measure of time is often more meaningful than distance because, assuming a relatively constant level of exertion, unlike the constant of time, the distance covered will vary dramatically, depending on factors such as changes in grade, altitude, footing, and weather condition.

This is somewhat comforting for me since there are days when I go a bit easier with my running than others, and I would like a way to convert that time into something more meaningful. Trail running is invariably slower than road running, so this makes a lot of sense to me. I also highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it and has any plans of possibly converting to trail running. Great intro book.

Stay strong,
Mircea

School starts soon and I always worry about training time. Of course training is a “priority,” but it’s important to me as it’s part of me now. Moreover, I’ve grown even more addicted to trail running, and I worry about the early hours of running on the trail. I’ve got a headlamp, so I’m not sure why I worry about it. If anything, it should be a peaceful experience. Speaking of which, I think I need to see when they open the gates to the trail. The other option is just doing some training on the indoor track/treadmill at the gym on campus.

I think I worry a bit more than usual about my training because I’m planning on defending my thesis this semester. So, needless to say, I will need a lot of time to square that away. But on the bright side, I prefer running early in the morning and therefore can work throughout the day and into the early evenings. As long as I can get my mileage in, I don’t care how long I stay in the lab. In fact, hard running in the morning will probably clear my mind and could in fact help me in writing my thesis (in theory, of course). But even theory aside, I feel better after hard/long runs.

Enough of that. I think this semester will be just fine. I just think I’ll need to tighten my daily schedule and be a bit more rigid with it. All will be well. No doubt.

As mentioned in my last post, I’ve been running on trails this week. As a matter of fact, I even joined a local group called the Kansas City Trail Nerds. As their names implies, they’re trail runners and they’re a great bunch of people. They run the local trail here in Lawrence, River Front Park (RFP), on Wednesday nights and other trails around the KC area throughout the week. I’ll join them at other trails when I can. One of those times will be tomorrow at Clinton Park, also here in Lawrence. Tomorrow will be my long run for the week: 10 miles.

Unlike RFP, the trail is supposedly much more technical and I think the hills are a bit meaner. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing because I was convinced by Gary, a Nerd member, to do the 10-mile trail race in February (Valentines Day, actually). I haven’t signed up yet, but I’m pretty sure I will (as long as I discuss this again with Lisa and make sure it really is OK to do it). I think Lisa was thinking of going to Springfield, Missouri for the weekend. But I think we can leave Saturday after the race, maybe around noon or so. Again, I need to recheck.

I do have to admit that since running trails, I’m feeling leg muscles I haven’t felt in the past just running road or track at the gym. For one, my quads are a bit sore. Hamstrings–oh, hi…I forgot about you guys. And I’m still having shinsplint problems. This crap doesn’t seem to go away. I’m really tired of it. And lately its been getting pretty extreme during any run, but 20 minutes after the run, it’s as if nothing ever happened. After Wednesday’s run with the group, I had a pretty rough time walking because of that pain (and we only ran about 7 miles or so). So I’m trying different exercises to strengthen my shins on all sides.

I hope tomorrow’s run goes well and 10 trail miles won’t kill me! Nah, I doubt it, but I hope I have fun (and stay warm because it’s supposed to be about 20 degrees tomorrow morning!).