Monday, August 24, 2009

Last few runs . . .

It was a quiet week. Nothing special. Decided to buy my first pair of trail shoes. Went Montrail Mount Masochist. They've gotten great reviews, so I figured what the heck. It feels like running in clogs. I tried them on a one hour jaunt in Mission Trails on some of the rockiest stuff I could find. It was great not to have to watch my step. But they felt really weird on the fire roads. I did another 4 hour night run in them in the mountains on Sunday. Liked them a little better. The run was fantastic. Did the Cuyamaca ascent and then turned it around and did the Stonewall Peak climb, went down the backside in the dark with my backup light and then back around to some more trails behind Paso Picacho. From Stonewall I saw a fantastic sunset between the Cuyamaca peaks and it was beautiful, red and purple. And from Cuyamaca at night, the entire Milky Way was out. Looking back, I saw the lightning flashing every 10 seconds over the desert in distance. The way back was populated with lots of kangaroo rats. Super cute with big eyes and ears. I was even able to pick one up and hold him before he hopped away. A fantastic run, but I"m still not sure about the shoes. They are so damn stiff. Picked up a new pair of my cheap ass Addidas just in case. The run is less than 2 weeks away. I'm nervous as hell. Crap.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

NFL Predictions, Part 2

So the taper is going fairly well so far. Did 1:45 yesterday at 6 AM. Legs were really sore at first from the 50K the Sunday before, but felt better as I went along for a few minutes and worked out the kinks. I will go for night runs for the rest of the week to practice, and then back to early AM runs for the 2 weeks before the race.

Now, back to the NFL . . .

NFC East:

1. Eagles

2. Giants

3. Cowboys

4. Redskins

I think the Eagles have upgraded the offensive line which was already good. They should have some depth now at running back, and I think will play some inspired D all year for Jim Johnson, although they will miss his game adjustments and scheming. The Giants have a great OL, and that will be their strength, running the ball, but I can't see Brandon Jacobs making it a whole season and they lost Derrick Ward. In addition, without Plaxico, they just don't have the receivers, and Eli is terrible at keeping hold of the ball. Completley overrated. The Cowboys will be the same old mess with Wade Phillips in charge and Romo at the controls. And I don't know what to make of the Redskins, but they are a revolving door of free agents that never seem to get it together. I think Jason Campbell will be improved, but I don't think it will be enough.

NFC North

1. Minnesota

2. Green Bay

3. Chicago

4. Detroit

This was a hard one. I think this is the best division in football. Minnesota was missing a QB and has one now along with the best line, defensive line, and running back in football. If Percy Harvin can come through, they could be really dangerous, even though Favre will turn the ball over and his arm is becoming a noodle. I think Green Bay has an improved DL and will produce points. I like Rodgers, GB's OL, and the receivers there, but the OL isn't as strong as teh Vikings. Chicago will be improved on the OL with Pace, the QB with Cutler, but their defense has been declining and is more reputation than anything. And Detroit, well will be Detroit, but I think they are going to be better and can't lose 16 games again. Kevin Smith is going to be a fantasy stud.

NFC South

1. Saints

2. Falcons

3. Panthers
4. Bucs

I think the Falcons may benefit from having balance and experience. It depends on if Matt Ryan can keep growing and if Roddy White keeps playing after getting paid. I'm suspect. I think Turner is going to get dinged up after so many carries last year. Add it all up, and I see the Saints maybe scoring as many points as last year, maybe a few less, but with Gregg Williams running the D, I think they tighten things up. The Panthers D will get them places, but Delhomme is too streaky, and the runners both had career years. I don't see that happening again. As for the Bucs? Pathetic. I'm too disgusted to talk about it.

NFC West

1. Arizona
2. Seattle
3. 49ers
4. Rams

I think Arizona is the best team in the division. But that's not saying much. Kurt Warner is the fantasy football version of musical chairs. When the carousel stops, and Kurt ages 30 years overnight, don't be the one holding the bag. Seattle still has Hasselbeck and has other talent around, but an aging offensive line, a questionable running game, and a bunch of medicore receivers. Their defense is OK, but I can't see them doing better than 8-8, maybe 9-7 considering their division. The Niners will be better, and I like their new philosophy to pound the ball, but they are still a few years away. But the Rams - they may be the worst team in the NFL. No receivers, an aging Bulger, no line, a suspect defense - the Rams have no hope anywhere in their future.

Wild cards? I'll say Falcons and Green Bay. And I'll say Green Bay goes to the Super Bowl. In your face Favre.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Let the taper begin . . .

So, I'm on my second day in a row without running. I will run again tomorrow, but for now . . .

NFL Predictions!

AFC East
1. Patriots
2. Jets
3. Dolphins
4. Jets

OK, consider me an unbeliever. The Dolphins have that "we were good once, but with a harder schedule, we will struggle to go .500" like the Bears a few years ago. I think the Patriots are older and not what they used to be, especially on defense, but I think they are the class of the division. I like the Jets draft and I love their line, but I think think they are a year or two away yet. Rex Ryan is the Lane Kiffin of the NFL.

AFC North
1. Steelers
2. Ravens
3. Bengals
4. Browns

I always think the Ravens are going to be better than they are because of their defense and their running game, two elements that I always overvalue. They might miss Rex Ryan in the end, and with a sophmore slump QB and no receivers, I just don't think they have it. I like the Bengals who have a good offense and have improved their defense, but there just isn't the character to make a serious turn around on the team. I think the Browns are a joke, and I'm not a fan of Mangenius. Too many mediocre QB's, RB's and DB's.

AFC South
1. Indy
2. Houston
3. Tennessee
4. Jacksonville

This is a hard division to pick. I think Indy will miss some of the coaching they've lost, and I don't think Anthony Gonzalez is a Marvin Harrison, but they still have Manning, and I think they've improved their defense. I think they are in a crap shoot with the Texans. If Schaub can stay healthy, they finally have a go to running back, and their defense has made big strides. Tennessee I always underestimate, but Fisher always does a great job. I just don't think they have enough receiving talent and a questionable quaterback in Collins who doesn't seem to come through in the clutch. Jacksonville doesn't have a plan other than hand the ball to Jones-Drew and has lost too much along the defensive front to be competitive.

AFC West

1. Chargers
2. Raiders
3. Broncos
4. Chiefs

No doubt Chargers are the class of the division. Yes, I'm biased, but they are teh super bowl favorites and better play like it. Too many people are down on the Raiders. Yes they are a joke of an organization. But they have a decently stout defense and a good running game. A-ha, those two magic elements again. Unfortunately, Russell is a joke and will turn the ball over too much as for all of his talent, he is a terrible decision maker. The Broncos will need a while to make whatever changes they need to make, and they will miss Cutler and who knows what is going on with Brandon Marshall. The Chiefs have been the worst team in football the last 2 years. I can't see anything changing this year.

Wild Cards - Houston, Tenn
AFC Champ - Chargers

Tomorrow - the NFC!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Goofy as Hell 50k

Good last weekend! On Saturday, I knocked out Cuyamaca Peak after doing trailwork that involved a climb up Stonewall Peak, which is a nice 2 mile climb up to a place where you can view the entire SD 100 course which really puts it in perspective. Trimmed a bunch of brush on the way up, then made it back by noon to do Cuyamaca Peak. Knocked it out in 1:12 and did the 2.7 mile 1700 foot climb in 49 minutes. That put my hopes up, but last week my long run was difficult.

However, today was a different story. I did 3 of the 9.3 mile loops. Temperatures were perfect, low 80's with a breeze. First, I figured out that what I eat the night before is apparently not influential on my results. Last night was a chargers game, so my preparatory meal consisted of about 7 pieces of spicy fried chicken, half a container each of dirty rice and mac and cheese, 3 biscuits, and 2 or 3 beers and a giant mountain dew. The only adverse effect that I could tell was I had burning farts during the run that were slightly uncomfortable, but not as much as for someone who would have been running behind me.

Lesson 2: No Gatorade. I'm a big supporter, especially as they every bottle sold means money in the pocket of Urban Meyer and the boys. However, it seems to make me feel a little off every time I drink it, so I think that's enough of that, at least for now. I think at GTR 100, I will skip out on the carb drinks and just go for water, salt tabs, and Rocktaines, which is an expensive proposition as those things cost 2.50 a pouch. Apparently made with liquid gold, it sits well with my system and always seems to stay down. I could care less about the freaky amino acids or whatever else they put in there that's supposed to be helpful. As long as it sits in the stomach, I'll keep shelling it out.

Anyways, the run went great. Did my 15k loop 3 times and a 5k loop after that. Total run was 50k with 5000 feet of gain in exactly 7 hours. My pace was 13.5 minute miles. I was aiming for 14 to 14.5 minute miles, so obviously I was successful. That puts me in the back of the mid-pack for some of the 50k's with similar elevation gain, and this was a training run, so I was encouraged by that. I wanted an 8 hour run, but that did not seem to make sense after getting through 31 miles. I figured better to underdo it then push it at this point only 3 weeks out. I kept thinking that it was great knowing that this was exactly 50k (actually I think it is actually a little bit over as the 15k loops I think are more like 9.6 miles than 9.3, but whatever), but who the hell would run a race where you loop the same trails 3 times and then do a 5 K that covers the exact same course. Pretty goofy. Good practice for me, but I can't see this race catching on. But if anyone wants to shoot for my time, well, there you go.

Philisophically, I'm not sure whether I should be this excited, because while I pushed it, I never felt lousy or had to push through anything extraordinary, so not sure if it toughened me up. However, it was really good for my confidence, which goes a long way for me. Did the last 5k with 200 feet of gain in 30 minutes, so finished strong and felt like I had some left. We'll see if it means anything come race day.

The other thing that was notable was on my 3rd time up South Fortuna, some guy passed me like he was standing on an escalator. I don't know who this guy was, but he was clearly a runner and clearly a hardass. Whoever he was, if he's not on top of trail races right now, he will be soon.

Now, the taper begins. Let the laziness erupt!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Final Push

So, the final push is here. Kicked it off on Sunday with what was going to be 3 loops of my Mission Trails course. Didn't turn out that way, unfortunately. The first loop went well and did it in 1:55. Then it started getting hot. I was drinking as much water as I could, which led to my feeling sick. My body couldn't process enough water to keep my hydrated, so I ended up with side cramps and feeling bloated and sick the whole run. Even with that, I finished the second loop on pace, at about 4:15. On the third loop, I got to the bottom of the last climb in 6 hours, pretty close to on pace for my goal of 25 miles in 6 hours. However, I was feeling really sick, so I laid down. Just then I stumbled across a pair of lost runners, so I guided them back to the visitor's center, which still gave me two climbs, but much different than pushing up South Fortuna one last time. Sort of disappointing. After doing the climb and run into the visitor center, I hiked the last climb and the road back to the car. Total time about 7:30. Total miles was probably about 30. Not bad, but not as strong as I would have liked.

Monday was a day off, then Tuesday was an 1:45 with Gator in the Canyon at a decent pace. Pretty fun and good to run with the Big G, who was a superstar. Yesterday was 3 hours without a break in Mission Trails. Did the Quarry Hill, South Fortuna, down the saddle and game trail up to Telephone Line Hill, then out to Mission Trails Dam, then up Oak Canyon back to the Saddle Trail which I took up and then up to N. Fortuna (which is about a 900 foot climb in 1 mile) then down through Shepherd's Canyon, up an unnamed hill to the rim trail, which I think is one of the hardest trails in the park but is still one of my favorites, then down the trim trail back to the car. Not sure of the mileage, but I'd guess between 2500 and 3000 feet of climbing.

My legs are tired today, but not too bad. Short run planned, then Saturday will be a repeat of the Cuyamaca climb. Last Saturday did this climb after a morning of trail work, which is identical to the biggest hill in GTR , in 1:15 up and down, a great time. I will try to match that. Sunday wil leither be Vivian Creek, or another 8 hours in Mission Trails. Then comes the Taper! :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Catch up time . . .

When last you heard from me, I was talking about the glory of Monserate. So what have I been up to? Well, glad you asked. On Thursday, it was an easy run with Justin E. A lap around the Piedras Pintadas trail (actually less than a lap), and we decided to call it a day. As a result of this, Justin has pledged to get in shape. As an incentive, I've offered him a dinner at Donovan's if he runs twice a week between now and October 1. How hard is that? We'll see if he accepts . . .

Friday was 2.5 hours on the trails of Mission trails. I did the Gorge Trail and Hill, the Fortuna double, down through Shepherds' Canyon, bushwacked up to the top of Portabello Hill, then out the rim trail. Not too fast, but satisfying to be out there and still feel strong.

Saturday, I decided to do Mt. San Jacinto. This is the second highest peak in Southern California at 10,840 feet. Originally, I was going to do Mt. San Gorgonio, the highest peak. However, the main access trail, Vivian Creek, was closed due to "bear activity". When I hear this, I think about 1000's of bears running all around the trails, doing bear like things like eating picnic baskets, shitting in the woods, and generally causing mayhem. Apparently, the real story is that there was one bear who was threateningly hanging out a lot. They don't really know how to deal with bears in So Cal . . .

So anyways, San Jacinto it was, via the Marion Mountain trail. On the drive up, it was 70 going through Hemet and after my 20 min. drive to gain 6000 feet to Idylwild and the trailhead, it was 73. Huh? Gotta love microclimates.

This trail is a 12 to 14 mile (depending on who you believe) slog with 4800 feet of gain. The first two miles are horrific, but really, it doesn't relent. Most of the first 2.5 miles is on broken single track with lots of fallen logs and loose dirt. Then you go through a series of switchbacks covered in pricker bushes. Then through a campground and the last switchbacks up to a scramble to the top. There were some groups, but the top was crowded with all the people who had taken the easy way on the tram from Palm Springs and then 4.5 miles from there. San Jacinto tops out at 10,800 feet, pretty good for So Cal. Took me about 2:45 to get to the top.

I don't know about a hard hat. I'd rather have a rocket up my ass to help get me to the top.

Great views from the top. You can see from the Pacific on a clear day all the way through Joshua Tree and out to the Salton Sea.

I spent 10 minutes at the top eating a sandwich. I had actually brought too much water (it was a very comfortable trip up), so gave out a couple of frozen bottles to people at the top who were grateful for some refreshment to cool them down. Then back down. Had hoped to get down in an hour, but took about 1.5. Felt like I was going decent, though. I always wonder just how long this trail really is.

The drive back is through Hemet, which may be a fine town for all I know, but I sincerely doubt it. It was about 96 going through. Hemet is a collection of stoplights specifically designed to slow your progress and frustrate you to the point that you pull off at one of the chain restaurants and drown your frustrations in a plate of fries. My favorite spot there? The Colonel's Buffet. That's right. All you can eat KFC. And the best part? It has a drive thru. I'd like 14 buckets of chicken, 43 biscuits, extra gravy and a diet coke. To go.

Sunday was a fun 2 and half hours in the evening. Was going to do the loop, but wanted to get some actual running after the climb on Saturday, so did the Spring Canyon to Oak Canyon loop. This is a long run up the canyon with a real gradual elevation change, then a climb up to the roads that run on the military base for a quarter mile, then a drop back down and back under the bridge to Oak Creek Canyon. The run down Oak Creek is a ball where you get back that subtle climb the whole way. Nice to strech the legs and ran the whole way, taking a 1 minute walk break every 10 minutes, just like I plan to do in the race.

Monday was a day off and Tuesday and Wednesday have been good runs in the Canyon. Trying to rest up for a big push this weekend. Only 1 month to Grand Teton!