"Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations. If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won't exist because you'll have already shut it out." -Mae Jemison, astronaut

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Flying Ultra

37 hours with a max elevation of about 11,000 mtrs. That's a decent ultra. I'll probably even get to experience some dehydration, sleep deprivation, and maybe even slight nausea. I'll pass through checkpoints they call 'Auckland' and 'San Francisco' on the way to the finish line in Calgary.

But then I'll find out that it's really just a long transition stop there, as I re-hydrate, get massaged, and head back out for another 13 hours up to 11,000 mtrs again. That checkpoint is known as Dublin.

From there, I get to change clothes (fresh clothes always feel good), check for blisters, and then head out for a short 71km burst to the finish line somewhere in the hills of Connemara. There's only 2,000 mtrs gain in that last section as far as I can tell, so it should feel pretty easy compared to the journey to get to there!

At least, that's what I'm going to tell myself.

This past Saturday had a few of us out to enjoy +800 mtrs at Walyunga over 2.5 hrs. Much easier to chase boys up hills without a head cold. But there was still a lot of chasing! All my pictures are of their backsides. The new guy got his initiation into trail running while volunteering in Nepal. I call him sherpa now (but I don't think he knows it). I'd call him rabbit, but we already have one of those in the group.

On Sunday, while most people headed out to a local 16k race, the same three of us (plus 30 others) attended a really useful barefoot clinic with a wise, fit, and witty guy named Max. Who won my heart as a trail and ultra runner, too.

Okay, it's time to go for a little walk to stretch out in the fresh air before donning my compression socks. I hate goodbyes!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Am I a Canaussie Yet?

Five months ago I sent a very large parcel of paper and a cheque to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship here in Australia. And on Friday afternoon...Permanent Residency!

Back in May 2010 after I decided to really start taking my running more seriously, I experienced many interesting side benefits (beyond the joy of better health and wellness). And Permanent Residency is a very large one I have just received. I'm really excited about this because Australia really feels like home to me now. Not only with my work and PhD, but I have so much of a tie to the running community here. I couldn't bear the idea of not being able to live here.

Next step: citizenship.

This week in review: Back to speed work and continuing with hill work. My quads have been torn to shreds and now they have a day to recover before I start all over again on them next week :) Am really appreciating my new Compressport Full Legs, which showed up just in time to trial at the beginning of the week. Rolf saw the big "F" on the front and asked if it stood for "Fast." I like that. It's a good mental boost now when I look at that "F."

Tuesday's tempo session was a bit unique. I was rather "sooky la la" on Tuesday morning about going out to do my tempo session in the rain, so Tuesday night I found myself at the track races but still needing to get 14k of speed work in. It became a Bernadette fartlek session (I don't think it'll take off). Here's how it goes:

5k at half marathon pace
race a 1 Mile
2k at half marathon pace
race a 600 mtr
2k at half marathon pace
race a 3000 mtr

And then the rest of the week was hills and long tempo. Saturday's long run was a beautiful (but quad screaming) 28k +850 mtrs at Wungong Gorge. Not butterfly season, but we had a first sighting of a herd of 15 landus roverius in the middle of the park. Today I enjoyed a great 16k in Kings Park where I had to say goodbye to two more running mates I won't see for a few months. As we ran above the river, we could see the Perth marathon racers on the far shore.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I Needed That

43k +1060 mtrs

I was initially disappointed to have no one to run with today. But the list of running wounded is high right now (ruptured tib post, strained MCL, patella femoral syndrome) and if not injured, almost everyone I knew raced the Kep Ultra last weekend. So my invitation to run 4 hrs of hilly trails didn't cause a lot of excitement!

Showing up at Serpentine (just me and the roos), my initial plan was to check out a short section of trail, I was guessing would be 4k. Then, I was going to run "the usual." 15k to Jarrahdale, top up water, and 15k return. First, I took a very short diversion to see the Serpentine Falls, which I've never gone to see. It's in a really cool little box canyon-type formation. The kind of place you'd chase the bad guy into on his horse if you were John Wayne.

After 2k I got a text confirming that my one potential running partner was not going to meet me in Jarrahdale. So, plans changed. The run suddenly turned into an exploration, which would be heaps more fun and give me a chance to check out routes for a Perth Trail Series race. I did run to Jarrahdale, but I did it on a new route that I made up along the way. I love trying to get myself lost.

So, ... Jarrahdale. You know that feeling when you're dressed all wrong at the party? Well, that's what it was like when I rocked up to the Jarrahdale General Store/cafe with 25 bikers outside having coffee. There was an awkward moment - as conversations stopped or changed - as I ran into "the party" wearing all the wrong clothes. I topped up my Nathan pack at the outside tap and threw myself out ;)

I was only 80 minutes into a planned 4 hr run, so knew hydration could end up becoming an issue (2 ltr pack). Then I headed back towards Serpentine on the "usual" route, as that's the one that gives the most elevation. At the fig-house, however, I went back into exploration mode. I found several kms of fantastic dirt single track. My legs and feet just loved it after the rocks and pea gravel I'd been on for 27k already. It was very technical, running right along the side of Gooralong Brook in Kitty Gorge, so incredibly scenic as well. These signs started to appear. I had no idea what trails they were nor their distances. Naturally, I had no choice but to run them both :)

Note: the blue one takes you out of the gorge up a cliff.

My water ran out 400 mtrs from the car.

Enjoyed my Recoverite while watching the roos mingling with the picnickers, looking for some people food. Not that I'd feed people food to animals, but I do wonder what they'd think of Recoverite....maybe spirulina would be more their thing ;)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Life as an Ultra


I never thought of how much my ultra training would come in handy for life-management.

Deadlines for PhD stuff, World Trails in 4 weeks, a trip to Canada (for my PhD) - in 3 weeks, two volunteer committees, the usual running training.... I find myself repeatedly muttering phrases like "keep moving forward" and "one step at a time." I think I need a pacer. This could get ugly around mile 80 ;)

And to top it off, I got a bit of a cold last week. I cut back a bit of speed and distance in training to make sure I was not depleting myself and that I was getting lots of recovery time. And I made some adjustments to the weekend plans - the 4 hr hill session Saturday + 15k sweep duties at Kep Ultra Sunday turned into 1.5 hrs of hills + easy 30k sweep at Kep instead. Much better plan, as the guy I ran with on Saturday said it sounded like I'd smoked a pack of cigarettes the night before! And I felt like I had.

Our recon at Walyunga went well and we've got a pretty good idea of what courses we'll set for that PTS event (of course, pending approvals). I also found out that Walyunga has about the same elevation gain as our Lesmurdie and Serpentine routes. Was nice to see this place again. I've missed it. So I'll be back there later this month for a longer outing. With two functional lungs!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Beetrooccino and Non-Fish-Fish-Oils

Was interesting to see that the latest issue of R4YL magazine has a nutrition article that features both caffeine and beetroot, two hot topics I've been researching for the last three or four months.

The juice study was one of the ones I read and blogged about a couple months ago when I decided to run my own experiment (and I'll be back on it before Worlds!).

The caffeine study was one I hadn't seen yet - just published in March - testing the hypothesis that you have to restrict caffeine intake before a race in order to maximise its effect. In fact, I'd done that in my races last year. But then I tried an experiment in my last two races (the 100k and 50k). I didn't cut back on my usual tea intake at all. Judging from the pace I managed to keep, I certainly didn't feel that I lost any performance advantage from having caffeine in the lead up to the event. Additionally, I felt much better mentally for the few days before the event because tea is a comfort drink for me. A warm cuppa has a powerful psychological "relaxation" effect on me (I used to get the same effect from the sound of a beer can opening, but times - and rewards - have changed!). It was encouraging to see that the study abstract reported, "A 3 mg/kg dose of caffeine significantly improves exercise performance irrespective of whether a 4-day withdrawal period is imposed on habitual caffeine users." Yay!

That takes me back to Beetrooccino.... I wondered "what if you combined caffeine and beetroot juice into your pre-race bevvie? And I found one guy who's actually got a recipe.

The other experiment I've been conducting over the past few months has been an elimination of glucosamine tablets in favour of omega 3/6/9 oil. I've seen a few excellent case studies (i.e., people I know) who seem to have had an excellent positive reaction on joint health by taking glucosamine. Unfortunately, there's still just not enough science after all these years to back it up. I keep reading and looking. But pills cost money. So they should come with good backing. And my liver already has enough to do, so I don't need to give it stuff to process for no good reason.

So when my glucosamine ran out a few months ago, I decided it was time to try essential fatty acid supplementation. Yeah, Scott Jurek and Tony Krupicka take it. That's cool, cuz who doesn't want to look and run like them? And we all know the Roadrunner ran on chia seeds ;) But then add to that - it's the only supplement I have heard any reputable physiotherapists/dieticians agree on ... although they usually just call it "fish oils."

Well, I've heard about the burping side effect of "fish oil" pills. Ewww. Unless you apparently get the over-processed pills that aren't any good for you in other ways.... And then a running mate said he was taking Udo's Oil, a non-fish fish-oil (i.e., all the omega 3s and 6s you need, but from veg sources instead of fish) and I admitted that I didn't even think you could get it in Australia. Wrong. If you actually look, it's all over the place.

And there's science behind essential fatty acids. Going back to at least the 1990s for athletic performance (and much further back to "the teaspoon of cod liver oil" to prevent rickets).

The "gluco-out-omega-in" experiment's been a success thus far. I have no concerns about my running energy, recovery, or joints. And a side bonus is that my usual dry itchy skin has gone. No more tubs of skin cream and lathering up after the shower.

I was so taken with it I asked them to provide product to us for the Perth Trail Series and they said yes!

And speaking of the PTS, tomorrow morning (Sat) I'm going to do some recon work with one of the volunteer RDs for the series to hopefully set one of our courses. On Sunday I head out to the Kep Ultra to sweep the last 75k runner into the finish. How cool is that?! And a great chance to see a whole lot of very happy, tired runners at the end of a big day.