Training Break #155

26 06 2009

Somerset Maughm once wrote that in each shave lies a philosophy. I couldn’t agree more. No matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act.

— Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Badwater is heating up

25 06 2009

It’s supposed to be 118 degrees at Furnace Creek in Death Valley this coming Monday. That’s hot. And I recently received the E-Mail Of Alarming Mindfulness from a fellow race crew member, reminding us that Badwater is less than three weeks away. Man, this air conditioning really feels good right now.

At least the runner we’re helping to crew sounds ready. Running in 115 degree heat, Nattu recently completed a training run from Furnace Creek to Panamont Springs — a 56-mile jaunt — in 12 hours 39 minutes. He was looking to finish in 14 hours. Not too many weeks ago, he also finished a 100-mile race in Florida in a little over 21 hours.

So, our runner is definitely ready. I just hope I’m ready for him. I’ve never been in temps above 106 or so, and I’ve never served anyone as a crew member before in any circumstance. But I’m an experienced ultra runner in race distances up to 100 miles, so at least I know the basics of staying properly hydrated, fed, and adjusting to the mental/emotional/physical peaks and valleys over 24 hours or longer. And my fellow crew members are a mix of Badwater and ultra veterans, so I know I’m going to learn a lot more. The most exciting part is there is always more to learn.

And I’m going to be inspired. In addition to Nattu’s amazing example (and his third Badwater appearance), Badwater 2009 will feature some of the world’s most famous long-distance athletes. Dean Karnazes, Jorge Pacheo, Pam Reed, Monica Scholz, Marshall Ulrich, and Jamie Donaldson will be among the big names toeing the Badwater start line this year.

One hundred and thirty-five miles through Death Valley and up Mt. Whitney, in the middle of July. I’m pumped and proud to be playing a bit part behind the scenes … and giving back to the person who inspired me to start ultra running a few years ago.

The week in training, 6/8-6/14

17 06 2009

Someone flicked a switch and turned on summer. It’s hot again here in Texas. Some violent thunderstorms and flooding forced a change in the weekend running from trails to roads.

Still small increments of progress, steadily accumulating. 3 hours 15 minutes on Saturday, 1 hour and 40 minutes on Sunday. Both runs were routine, but I was tired afterwards and sluggish much of the weekend. Getting acclimated to the heat is always part of the June routine. It’s a slow, perspiration-laden build to my races this fall.

As part of my Badwater crew planning, I asked a fellow veteran crew member what works best in terms of clothing for Death Valley. Here’s what he had to say:

“When I’m pacing, I wear the white pants, long sleeved white shirt and the Legionnaire’s hat. After I run, and when I am in the van or doing non-running duties, I take off the pants and have running shorts underneath. I found I sweat more (less evaporation) when I was not covered up and in the van. I was cooler when I was in motion, and covered … being covered is paradoxically cooler than not being covered. When your body temp is 98.6, and the outside temp is Hell-5 degrees, you actually need protection from the outside … The nights are gorgeous. Stars brighter than you’ll ever see. Temperatures at night are very comfortable.”

I took his advice and splurged on the full “Badwater Nerd” costume from this website, including some SPF 65 sunblock. It’s going to be an interesting adventure for me, a great way to at least partially pay back Nattu for his advice and assistance over the past few years. And I’m definitely looking forward to seeing a night sky largely free of artificial light pollution.

I took a salad to the zendo on Sunday for all of the sesshin participants to share – there’s a 7-day sesshin this week that I can’t participate in, but I felt I should provide a little food anyway. Sitting and staring at a wall for a few hours makes you as hungry as a 3-4 hour run, and I know how much I appreciate the good food served during silent meals at the sesshins I’ve attended. I figured it was karma payback time.

One of these days, I also want to volunteer for aid station duty at an ultra rather than race it. Those who prepare and serve food during sesshins and ultras make all of our sitting and running possible. Let’s try to remember them in some helpful way this year, and every year, if we can.

6/8 Yoga 35 minutes
6/9 LHHS track, p.m. 4 x 800, 45 minutes total
6/10 Neighborhood, a.m. 1 hour 15 minutes. Yoga 25 minutes p.m.
6/11 Fitness Center, noon. 26-minute tempo run @ 7:50 pace, 46 minutes total.
6/12 Yoga 40 minutes
6/13 Neighborhood-Lake loop, a.m. 3 hours 15 minutes.
6/14 Neighborhood-North Creek Trail, a.m. 1 hour 20 minutes. Yoga 30 minutes.

Yoga For Athletes: new spiral-bound companion book

15 06 2009

A very practice-friendly companion to Sage Rountreee’s Yoga for Athletes , titled The Athlete’s Pocket Guide to Yoga, is coming out in just a few weeks, and you can view some samples from the book now. The new book is spiral bound, so it’ll lie flat beside you on your yoga mat as you learn the poses through following what appears to be excellent color photography.

Sage’s original YFA gave me the direction and inspiration I needed to switch from strength training to yoga as part of training. She is a highly respected yoga coach and a triathlete as well, so she certainly understands where us “weekend warriors,” as well as more serious runners and athletes, are coming from and where we need the most help.

I pre-ordered a copy of the new book months ago, and can’t wait. A shorter routine I cobbled together from several poses in YFA really aided my recovery from a couple of longer, much warmer runs this past weekend. It’s getting harder to imagine my day without at least a few minues of yoga via YFA.

Highly recommended.

Training break #154

12 06 2009

Honour necessity; honour sufficiency.

Nothing is compulsory, but some things are necessary.

No judgements are made: we accept you as you arrive.

There is no mistake save one, the failure to learn from a mistake.

Freedom from like & dislike is our first major freedom.
Some people here you will like, others not.
Some people will irritate you.
No blame! You will also be irritating them.
Please act towards others with goodwill and with courtesy;
Otherwise, be polite.
Honour the role, respect the person.

You are not asked to accept any direction that violates conscience. Although we are asked to act from conscience, this assumes the virtue: to act from conscience is a considerable freedom.

You are not asked to passively accept any idea presented to you. Rather, you are encouraged to test ideas you find surprising, to establish the veracity of those ideas, or not, for yourself; and to adopt a position of healthy scepticism, while participating in a spirit of critical goodwill.

— from “Guitar Craft Seminar: House Rules,” by Robert Fripp

The week in stepping back and deciding, 6/1-6/7

10 06 2009

Last week was a step-back week in terms of training, so nothing much to report there. I am running some of my runs during late afternoon, in the pitiful delusion that I can be more prepared for this when I help crew Nattu at Badwater next month.

Perhaps the biggest part of the week was deciding on races for the Fall. I opted for the tried, the true, and the new. The tried and true are the Palo Duro Canyon 50 Mile in October (I decided I couldn’t stay away; it will be my fourth consecutive October in the canyon) and the Rockledge Rumble 50K in November (a well-organized, friendly but nasty little local ultra run on a gnarly trail system). Then, there’s this new (for me) 24-hour thing in Austin in December. Any race Joe Prusaitis is involved with has the Ultrarunner Seal of Approval, as far as I’m concerned.

Better get busy, I suppose.

Training break #153

5 06 2009

Sometimes when I would complain unreasonably, my father would say, “You’re lucky to be alive.” I thought the old man was just rehashing his aphorisms. Now after studying a bit of biology, I see his point. You are indeed lucky to be alive. Moreover, you’re incredibly fortunate to find yourself in a made-to-order dojo with a splendid teacher. Now the ball is in your court.

— Robert Aitken, Miniatures of a Zen Master


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