Monday, January 23, 2012

Coldwater Rumble 31k

Almost a year has past since I last toed the line for a competitive foot race. Finally I pulled the trigger and registered for a race. For some time I have been trying to find an open weekend in which I can run one of the trail races put on by Aravapai Running but up until this past weekend, travel plans and other commitments have thwarted these efforts.

So now on to the boring stuff. Saturday morning I dragged my awesome crew (Patsy) out of bed to accompany me to the Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Goodyear, Arizona. I was running the 31k version of the Coldwater Rumble trail races.
Pre-Race Cheesing

My plan going into the race was to stay toward the back of the lead pack, or even the chase pack and then maybe open it up later in the race if I had any gas left. As soon as the race started I think I forgot that not-so-aggressive approach and opted for one a bit more courageous. I started out in the back of the lead group of seven as the race slowly climbed up a pea-gravel fire road. The pace was a bit faster than I wanted (6:50-7:00/mile) but I was encouraged by how easily the first couple of miles went by. After about 2 miles the lead pack broke up and 2 guys began to pull away. I stayed in the back of the chase pack of three and we slowly began to catch back up to the leaders.

Entering the first aid station, I was in 3rd place so I wasted little time. The awesome aid station workers were meeting runners as we came in and my water bottle was filled before I could down a shot of coke and some gummy worms. I left the aid station in fourth and quickly caught back up to the gentleman in third. We ran together for a couple of miles but he began to labor some and I soon found myself in no-man's land. By this time I could see the leaders and caught up to them on the flat section in the back of the course. The trail widened out to a sandy jeep road and the leader and I ran and chatted together for about two miles. Soon we were joined by the third place runner (eventual winner) and they began chatting. I was feeling really strong at this point and this may be where I made my only mistake of the race. I let the good feelings get the better of me and found myself in first with about a 30 second lead on the next guys.

I was still leading when we approached the second aid station. By the time the chase group got into the aid station I was about to take off. Unfortunately they both opted to forgo any aid and kept plugging away. I quickly fell in line behind them and started grinding through the last couple of miles. It is here that the course starts going through a series of up-downs. Unfortunately for me, I have had very little hill running in my training plan as of late and started to really struggle. The leaders eventually dropped me as my run slowed to a power hike up most of the inclines. I had been running the down hills relatively well all day so I made sure to keep moving up the hills and try to make up time on the down hills.

As I crested the second-to-last climb, I rounded a corner to find the 2nd place runner lying flat on his back catching a quick nap. After making sure he wasn't in serious distress, I continued on. After checking on the "downed" runner, I noticed two others from my race that had made up some serious ground and were gaining on me quickly. Luckily, there wasn't much race left and their presence forced me to power through to the end holiding on to a second place finish.

This race went far better than I ever imagined. as I mentioned, I had only anticipated to run hard to see how my fitness was standing. I had no intention of going out as competitively as I did but was encouraged to do as well as I did. This race revealed that my consistency over the past few months has paid off and that with a little more hill work I may have a good chance of doing this well again. Below is yet another gruesome picture of toe carnage. I'll put more pictures up when I can find them. Until then...Jog on Mates!

Toe Death...Again

Weekly Jog Log: January 16th-January 22nd

Monday 1/16/2012
AZ Canal -5 miles (49 minutes)
Today marked my first day of student teaching, and I didn't have to go in because it was MLK day. Loving these teaching hours already. Patsy had to work late today so we went out for a short jog on the canal.

Tuesday 1/17/2012
Dreadmill-3.7 miles (30 minutes)
Slept in today and decided to go with the wife to the gym. Student teaching, even if not teaching is a lot more mentally tasking than a call center. I HATE TREADMILLS. Registerred for the Coldwater Rumble 31k today.

Wednesday 1/18/2012
AZ Canal-3.8 miles (32 minutes)
Someone conveniently decided to flood the canal so many of my usual off-the-beaten path routes were inaccessible. Made for a shorter run than planned.

Thursday 1/19/2012
AZ Canal-5.8 miles (45 minutes)
Quick run after student teaching. Kinda nice getting out at 2 o'clock everyday!

Saturday 1/21/2012
Coldwater Rumble-31k (2:42)

Total Miles: 38 miles
Total Time: 5 hours, 20 minutes

A little bit of a lower week this week due to yet another change in life in the Carlson household. I started my student teaching so I decided to lay off of running emphasis for the week because of the unknown of the education world. I did end up running a race on the weekend and was quite pleased with my results. Being as that was the running highlight of my week I'll save the details for my race report which will I will try to write shortly!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weekly Jog Log: January 9th-January 15th

Monday 1/9/2012
Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (53 minutes)

Tuesday 1/10/2012
AM-Arizona Canal-7 miles (57 minutes) + 5 minutes barefoot
Chilly up-tempo run on the canal this morning under a full moon. Only used the headlamp a few times. Went in the same direction where I encountered the dog last week. Even tossed a rock under the overpass before going under. This was one of those runs where you feel like something is behind you the whole time. Not cool.   

Wednesday 1/11/2012
PM-Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (49 minutes)

PM-Dreadmill Hill Workout-5 miles (48 minutes)
Due to the lack of convenient hills near our apartment I decided to succumb to the convenience of the "dread" mill at our apartment complex. Due to my lack of hill training recently this workout was going to be a struggle. And it was. Warmed with one mile jog, then alternated 2 mins @ 12% incline, then 2 mins recovery jog...or something like that. This revealed that I severely need to work on my hill running because this workout was a struggle.

Thursday 1/12/2012
PM-Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (47 mins)
      -AZ Canal-5.2 miles (37 mins)
I went out for one of my fastest runs in quite some time immediately following my bike ride home. Was interesting how easy it felt to run this quick right after a pretty quick bike ride as well.

Friday 1/13/2012
PM-Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (50 mins)
Last day of work!! Being as this was my last day of work, it will likely be my last bike-commute, of the 12 mile variety anyway!

 Sunday 1/15/2012
 AZ Canal-10 miles (90 minutes)
Went out on a easy run for Patsy's long run for the week.

Run Total: 27 miles
Total Time: 4 hours
Bike Total: 61 miles
Total Time: 4:10 hours

Was a low mileage week running-wise. I cut back intentionally because up until Saturday afternoon, there was still a possibility I was going to be running a marathon Sunday morning. Obviously that plan didn't play out. Still a solid week between cycling and running. This next week will also be a lower week because I just registered for the Coldwater Rumble 31k to be held on the Estrella Mountains this upcoming week. I'm excited to finally race again, just wish they didn't come with such a price tag.

In other-than-running news. I resigned my job on Friday, January 13th in efforts to complete my graduate degree (finally!). Tomorrow morning I begin student-teaching at a local high school. Pray that I am not eaten alive by high schoolers! I'm sure this next week will be interesting and my next post should follow suit! Until then,

Jog on Mates!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Weekly Jog Log January 2nd-January 8th

Monday 1/2/2012
Vulture Peak-3.89 miles (47:49)
Took a ride out to Wickenburg to take Patsy to her new job. I had the day off and thought I'd spend some time out here hiking, running and geocaching. Was a tough run because my body has been rather immobile for about ten days and this was the first real effort. It was a beautiful climb and visibility was very good from the top. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos because my phone died on the way out. Was good to get back on the trails.

Tuesday 1/3/2012
AM-Arizona Canal-5.49 miles (45:01) +6 mins barefoot
Just a standard morning run in the canal. Spotted an owl perched on the guard rail this morning and got to pondering what it would be like to get attacked by an owl. Came to the conclusion that it would be quite frightening. Thankfully I'm not a rodent and lets hope the owl never mistakes my headlamp for a glowing mouse!

PM-Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (53 mins)
I will be riding the bike more for the next couple of weeks since my car now drives an hour to Wickenburg each day.

Wednesday 1/4/2012
AM-Arizona Canal-5.9 miles (49 mins) + Barefoot
I'm having to get up earlier to get my miles in now since we have to leave the house by 6:30 if Patsy is going to make it to work on time. Makes for a very long day but I'm adjusting. I set out on my usual path and planned on an uneventful run but it turned out to be more eventful than I had anticipated. See here.    

PM-Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (50 mins)

Thursday 1/5/2012
AM-Arizona Canal-5.42 miles (45 mins)
Decided to head toward Bell Rd. on the canal this morning to avoid the possibility of yesterday's visitor to still be sleeping under the overpass. Figured I'd let them get their rest today. Bad news about this run is that I dropped my headlamp coming back into the house and it has yet to turn back on. Frustrating. 

Friday 1/6/2012
PM-Arizona Canal Bike Home-12 miles (52 mins)

Saturday 1/7/2012
AZ Canal--Thunderbird Rec--67th Ave-18.68 (3 hours)
Decided to opt for a flat, exploratory long run. Goal was to see if I could run from the apartment all the way to the Thunderbird Rec Area. This  can be done and this will become a long run for the future. I lacked calories at the end of this run and ended up being pretty miserable for the last 3 miles or so due to the lack of fuel.

Sunday 1/8/2012
Arizona Canal-7.8 miles (78 mins)
Nice, easy run with Patsy. Legs felt pretty good after yesterday's run.

Run Total: 47.22 Miles
Total Time: 7 hrs 23 mins
Bike Total: 49.08 Miles
Total Time: 3 hrs 29 mins

As you can see it was quite a busy week. This is true both on the running, cycling, and commuting front. Patsy now commutes an hour to work each day so we are required to get up quite early in order for me to get to work on time. I am now biking home again which allows me the opportunity to get some cross training in for an afternoon workout. I also was able to get in a good back to back longer runs in this weekend. These runs were completed almost entirely on the blacktop because there is a chance I may be a late-minute entry in the Rock n Roll Marathon this weekend. Details are still pending on that  Until then, enjoy these pictures from our Christmas trip to Minnesota.

Jog on Mates! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dogs in the Night

My run this morning turned out to be a rather eventful one. So much so that it is receiving it's own post. Over my years of running I have encountered dogs in many different capacities. Some bolt out of no where to scare you until you mess yourself but then sheepishly retreat at one harsh word. The leashed kind seem to be the most obnoxious as they jump against their owner's weight in attempts to get a piece of your calf muscle. This morning I was treated with an encounter of a new sort. About a mile into my usual course, I begin my descent into the welcoming arms of the canal that conveniently runs next to our apartment. As slow to scale down the boulder-strewn wall, a shrill bark pierces the night.  Instantly my body freezes in place and every hair stands on end. The glow from my headlamp attempts to open the veil of darkness but the source of the sound cannot be located. Finally the adrenaline loosens it's grip on my muscles and I begin to move only to be stopped by another bark. This time my eyes become fixated on two glowing eyes peering at me from under the overpass. A turning point. A decision must be made.

Do I continue and hope this animal is friendly and is just letting me know that it is there or do I turn back to the warmth and safety that is my bed?


I'll run with this rock in my hand, so if the animal does decide it would like a taste, I can do my best to bludgeon its efforts. Slowly I tip-toe past the animal and it's now visible, human companions. One of the persons begins to stir as I hasten my steps and continue on into the darkness, rock still in hand. I am still cold with fear and forget that I am now running and should be concentrating on foot placement rather than unfortunate mammals behind me. After a prayer for the individuals and their health, I am comforted that the Lord has provided man with an animal for companionship. That dog wanted nothing to do with me but just wanted to give a warning shout to both his master's and myself to make each party aware of the other. So next time you are chased down the road by someone's rampant companion, swiftly kick the animal in the jowls, then say a prayer for the owner, and thank the Lord for the companions the He has provided.

Jog on Mates!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Start of a New Year

Once again, I have not updated this in quite some time. My sincere apologies. Since my last, not-so-encouragingpost, a lot has changed. A year ended, a job began, a job ended, and many more changes. 2011 truly was an amazing year for Patsy and I. After our move across the country the time in the desert has flown by. I know that when I first started this blog I was going to limit it to just writing about running and my adventures therein. It has become more of a smorgasbord of updates and events and will likely continue in that fashion. I am more passionate about running as ever and plan on continuing to be but I have also realized an important lesson. Life needs balance to move forward. And running will always be an option but relationships are the things that are truly valuable. I am going to continue to train and plan on actually running some races this year but that is only if time and money permits. Races are becoming increasingly expensive and I have a hard time justifying spending the money on them. Enough on that.

As I mentioned, it is now 2012, and, once again, a lot has changed in the Carlson household. No, we didn’t move again…yet. Patsy just started her new job today as a primary therapist at an eating disorder facility and I am about to embark on a new adventure and might finally get that MA degree that I’ve been working on FOREVER! I know that it is tradition to create resolutions for the New Year but I have never been one for tradition. So no new years resolutions will be made except to continue to seek the Lord’s will with my life and follow His direction the best I can. I guess if there is one resolution it would be to update this blog more often.  

On the running side of things…I have been running…and falling…a lot. My legs are completely healed from the random bout of tendonitis that had me sidelined for latter part of 2011. For the last month or so I have been patiently logging 20-30 mile weeks and slowly building my fitness. I plan on continuing a slow build so as to prevent another injury-induced hiatus. I have updated a tentative race schedule on the side of this blog but as always, that is very tentative and really comes down to affording the race fees.

As I mentioned, I have fallen quite a bi as of late. I recently purchased the new Brooks Pure Grit shoes and love them. The only issue is, they are too “Gritty”. What I mean is, the traction they provide has caused me to stumble, bumble and face plant not just once, not twice, but three times in a week. That’s right, three times my knee, hands, and chest have met the ground with such force that I have only recently been rid of the scars of these events. One such bumble I blame on the rain and my stubbornness. I didn’t turn on my headlamp simply because I didn’t want to and quickly met the soggy ground with my knee. The other two instances were due to a simple laziness. I’m not going to blame the shoes or anything else except my own lackadaisical running stride. Falling does have its advantages. It wakes you up from any lull that you may be in, and it also causes more attention to be paid to stride. Thanks to these falls, I am currently enjoying a 2 week streak of no falling. *Knock-on-wood*
            In other news, I am planning on having a go at another road marathon in June. When I was in MN over Christmas Break, we traveled to Duluth, MN and I was reminded of how beautiful that area is. I am already thinking about an ultra up there but would also like to have a redeeming run at a road marathon and I think that Grandma’sMarathon would be an awesome opportunity for that. The logistics for such a run will be interesting to work out since I currently live over a thousand miles from Minnesota but it would be a good excuse to see the family again. I’ll keep this updated on that idea as well.

Well, battery is about to die! Happy New Year to all!

Jog on!