Saturday, July 14, 2018

Just a good long run

Saturdays are usually my long run days. A long run for me is over ten miles and usually under fifteen. As the Anchor Down Ultra date approaches I have started doing 20 mile runs more frequently. Today was one of those days. This post is a review so I know what to do for ADU.

Eating before and during the run:

I have been experimenting with pre-run day prep and better nutrition during the actual run. Yesterday, Friday, I made sure I hydrated sufficiently now that it is summer. For dinner we went out for pasta but not to over do it or over carb load. Just a carb based dinner. During the day on Friday I snacked on bananas and whole grain bread. This morning before my run I had a coffee, granola bar, and a banana.I prepared a mix of Tailwind that I use about midway into a 20 mile run. I also had a package of peanuts also for mid run. This apparently was the right mix of foods at the right amount because I felt great and had plenty of energy until the end of the run.

The run:

Interesting how my heart rate gradually
increased as the run went on.
I was out there for the distance. Not trying for a specific time. The course I picked down to Burlington then onto New Hartford was mostly flat. The weather was a little warm but not bad. Especially since I started the run at 4:15am! I drank between 115-130ml of water and consumed two salt stick tablets. On the 2nd half of the run I must have been slightly dehydrated because I never had to urinate. Must pay attention to that at ADU. I easily maintained an 11:33 pace for the entire run. My average heart rate was 138bpm. Not bad because my goal is to stay in the 130s. Seems like my a-fib worries are probably behind me now. This run was not very fast but an easy pace to maintain. Important on the overnight at the ultra.

This was a good run for me. Easy steady pace without ever being stressed for tired. Nutrition worked. I think my longer runs are paying off. One or two more 20 milers prior to the race. Let's hope I can do this well during the ultra.

The stats

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Slowly Coming Back

Since my brief A-fib heart problem is under control I have been working on all aspects of running and my health. Going through the evaluations and tests identified problems with my diet, running training, and general health. Experiencing this scare motivated me to change bad habits while intensifying my training.

My eating habits had slipped to become a junk food eating machine. The classic sales guy issues had come back into my daily routine. My snacks were donuts, cookies, and brownies. Somewhere in my mind I justified this "because I run a lot". I hadn't noticed but my weight was going up as well as mu waistline. Too many saturated fats, sugars, and sodium. Realizing this I reviewed my daily food choices and starting accurately tracking my daily intake on My Fitness Pal. Meal choices have improved. I have a healthy breakfast of a hard boiled egg, healthy/natural cereal, fruit, and yogurt. My morning snack is now a banana or a healthy low fat granola bar. Lunch is a salad or small turkey sandwich. NO chips. Afternoon snack is a yogurt or piece of fruit. Dinner is a salad or healthiest item on the menu. I have lost weight and feel much better so That aspect of my life is under control.

My daily runs and training were just plain sloppy. Yeah, I ran a ton of miles but they were really "junk miles". During my stress test the cardiologist said my heart was in great shape but I needed to run more hills. That struck a nerve because I used to be great on hills. As I digested that info it occurred to me that since moving to Canton I ran on mostly flat roads. I now run hills when I can and have a few loops dedicated to big hill running. My weekly elevation totals have tripled. An example is below. This is my Queens Peak loop. Big elevation behind my house.

I have also started some basic speed training with track 440s and some sprinting during runs. I even tried a 100 yard dash. 24 seconds! Not great but it's mine. These efforts are producing some positive results.  The average pace on my runs is coming down slowly but in the right direction. I have run several races with decent results although still slower than my previous bests.

I have two key goals. First is to get healthy for a fall marathon, most likely Hartford. Second is to build my overall stamina so the 24 hour Anchor Down Ultra will be a success. I must complete 100K or 62 miles this year. I saw a video recently that has become my motivation for the Anchor Down this year. It is called the "Death Crawl" from the movie Facing The Giants. That scene is what I need to play in my head after the sun comes up at Anchor Down. I have given up too quickly the past two years for lousy reasons. This year a better training plan with more determination will get me through the full 24 hours.

Monday, May 7, 2018

A Couple Of Long Races

Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug Ultramarathon
On April 29th I ran the Lake Waramaug 50K ultramarathon. This was my 5th 50K, 4th at this venue.  Being just a month from my little heart problem I was unsure if I could last. I started the day with a light breakfast of cereal, egg, and a banana. This has become my standard 2-3 hours before all long races. The weather was shaky at best with a light cold rain. My pace for the first 15 miles was steady and hovering around 11:50/mile. I felt good and maybe better than expected. To stay at 12:00min/mile would be perfect and get met in around 6 hours. But during mile 16 I started to faulter.  My pace per mile started to crumble. I felt good but couldn't maintain a decent speed. So I started an unstructured run/walk. My timer was set for 7 minute runs followed by a 2 minute walk. That was manageable and productive. Even with a lot of Tailwind the legs just wouldn't hold up. Near the end I picked up some speed in the last stretch to the finish line. Got the medal and burger to record another ultramarathon in the books.
During the race I consumed 4 quarters of a P&J sandwich, some boiled potatoes, pretzels, a banana, and some deviled eggs. Reaching the aid station with deviled eggs was always my "loop" reward. One thing I learned over the years was to get through an aid station without wasting time.
I've said it many times before, this is one of the annual favorites. Great course, weather, and support people.

Spring Fling 600
The CTTrailmixers is a running group/club dedicated to getting outside and enjoying trail running. It also includes road racing and walking. It's a great group of people out to enjoy life. Many friends are made while experiencing new places to run in and around Connecticut.
This group runs two ultramarathons of their own each year. This past weekend was one of them, the Spring Fling 600. It's a 3.1 mile loop around Camp Sloper in Southington Connecticut. I like that it's local and a great course. Runners have 600 minutes to run as many or as few miles they like. The course offers dirt trails, technical trails, forest paths, and gravel paths. A decent hill with a gradual return to the level starting area. Good for all levels of expertise.

I wasn't ready to take on the full 600 minutes but used it as a long weekend run. My goal was to complete 3 loops and maybe more. Air temp was OK in the 60f and occasional drizzle. Recent heavier rains resulted in a few muddy sections. Some runners tip-toed around the muck...many of us ran through it. For convenience of for fun or both?  In the end I was able to complete 5 loops before running out of gas. Not bad for a long weekend run.  There were many friends in the race who added the right amount of humor and discussion needed to pass the time. Afterwards runners enjoyed plenty of hot and cold food while discussing their adventures. Several runners exceeded 50 miles. Annual event on my calendar? We'll see.

The status of my heart couldn't be better. I passed my stress test with flying colors. The cardiologist says I can run all I want. Interesting parting recommendation was that I should run more hills since the test showed my efficiency was reduced when on inclines. With that news I will begin some new training for the summer season.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

My Little Heart Problem

One thing we all worry about as we get older is heart problems. Up until recently I stayed clear of such issues. A few weeks ago I developed A-fib which I detailed in my previous post. Now, three weeks out, my cardiologist has looked at my data and given me some guidelines to follow. The good news is I can run as much as I want.

Since the initial episode I have been on a couple of medications and also cleaned up my diet. My bad eating habits had nothing to do with my heart except the excessive caffeine intake. I'm now down to 2 cups of coffee a day. The challenge with this change was having the second cup late enough in the day to help me stay awake in the evening without it preventing me from falling asleep later at night. My cutoff for coffee seems to be 3:00pm. I have also managed to eliminate or reduce the junk food snacks each day. I now realize that running long distances does not allow one to eat anything in any amount. My new diet consists of more salads and less saturated fats. I feel better and my weight is coming down.

Testing results...My echo showed that the heart muscle was in great shape but I have a leak in my mitral valve. Not unexpected at this stage in my life but it does impact my running performance. Not a big deal but its definitely there. I have one more test, a stress test. Both these tests are purely to determine if I have any physical damage to the muscle. It is expected that the stress test will be normal. If all clear I will be weaned off Eliquis and started on full aspirin.

All this was great to hear since the Lake Waramaug 50K ultra is this weekend. It will be my 5th 50K(4th at Lake Waramaug). I will run it but am ready to shift to a run/walk routine if needed. Going forward I will continue my running streak and running long distances. I'm OK with a little heart problem instead of a big one or some other health issue. I can enjoy running as always. just a little bit slower. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Reality Of Age

I'm 64 years old and an avid runner. This week my age caught up with me as a little heart issue hit me. I run everyday and enjoy it. Not fast by any measure but have always done well for 60+. Just last week I completed a challenging 15 mile trail run and a 2.5 race. On Tuesday after an 8 mile run there was a flutter in my chest. I checked my pulse and discovered my heart rate was very fast while skipping and having frequent spasm runs. I felt lousy all over. My first thought was a flu or catching a cold but something was different. Back the house I sat and tried to see if my heart and pulse changed...they did not. I didn't have any chest pains which I took as a good sign. After a while I called my doctor. He said to go to an ER immediately.

We headed off for St Francis Hospital not knowing what to expect. Was I crazy? Was I overreacting? Was there something serious? After registering they took me in. Started an IV, hooked me up to an EKG monitor, put on a pulse oximeter, etc. Blood and urine samples as well. My heart rate remained in the 90s. Two nurses and two doctors came in at various times to learn what had happened to me. In the middle of all this I had a chest x-ray ironically on the equipment I had sold years before when working for Fuji.

After several hours the best they could determine was that I had an atrial flutter. Basically my atria of the heart were not beating normally. One complication from this is forming clots and having a stroke or pulmonary embolus. Scary stuff. After about 5 hours they discharged me with two prescriptions and an appointment with a cardiologist. Before I left I had to ask..."Can I run tomorrow?" Chris wasn't happy but the doctor didn't say no. She did say she couldn't guarantee what might happen during the run. There was hope I could keep my running streak alive but I would decide that in the morning.

The next day I did a slow mile and some walking. Didn't feel bad but was obviously weaker. Easy runs of shorter distances were on the agenda for the week. Which leads to my run today. Saturdays are usually my long run day. I knew that wasn't happening so I decided to experiment with run/walk. A proven method of  running that allowed for less strain on the body. For no reason at all I decided to run 7 mins and walk 2 minutes. Seemed doable. I ran the first mile non stop to get my daily mile recorded then started run/walk. It's a little work to make sure the timing was right but easy after a few cycles. In the end I had a better overall pace with run/walk than the 1 mile run. Interesting

A couple of Strava screen shots are below. Mile 8 is off because I have Garmin battery issues at 7.2 miles. The first mile pace was 13:30. The overall pace using Run/Walk was 13:08. If I'm still allowed to run Lake Waramaug I will definitely use Run/Walk.

Back to the original subject of running when old. I knew that I would be slowing down sometime soon because I will be pushing 70. I guess that starts this week. I'm OK with it and accept the fact that the old body can't do what it used to do. I will keep running and walking outdoors because its my therapy. The reality of age does not prevent excersing but does require adjustments. Life goes on and I'm lucky I can still get out.