Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Running Sick

Started feeling sick halfway through my overnight shift Saturday into Sunday.  Ironically, I had volunteered to cover for a colleague who had to call out sick for several day (a painful sacrifice on my part, but to be rewarded with 2 fewer overnight and weekend shifts in December).

I often feel off during my overnights, or when I'm just really short of sleep, or have been working too much recently or too long at a stretch.  I can get nauseated, my stool loose.  I can feel dizzy to the point that my gait is a little unsteady.  So it wasn't 100% clear that I was really coming down with the stomach flu that hit my kids the week before, or being affected by what I'm always getting bombarded with in the course of my work-- germs.

After a few hours post-shift sleeping in the call room, I couldn't get back to sleep.  It was time to go home.  I hadn't driven to the BART station the night before, and my wife was at the gym with the kids, so I would have to cover 3.7 miles by foot.  (And okay, I confess that even if she were home, I probably wouldn't ask her to pick me up.)

With my work schedule and my kids getting sick in tandem, I had only had a few hours to run since Firetrails 50 (on Saturday the 9th).  On a couple of runs I thought of intentionally holding back to try a really relaxed pace-- one that I would be able to continue for 24 hours.  But no matter what, I couldn't settle into anything slower than an 8:30-minute mile.  With limited time, I decided I should make the most of the limited time I had to train, so would give up and pick up the pace.

Heading out of the station on Sunday morning, I thought my illness might give me the chance to do some better pacing practice for my upcoming PCTR race.  I looked at my Garmin through a light drizzle and found myself settling into a 9:45-minute pace.  I wasn't breathing very hard, but indeed I couldn't go any faster.  There simply was no energy.  Curiously, I didn't feel like I was going to throw up or pass out.  However, I knew I was sick, because sleep deprivation and Circadian disruption normally doesn't slow me down this much on my shortest running commute.

By the last mile, my average pace had upped to 9:55 minutes per mile.  If there was an initial immune system boost from being outside and breathing some fresh air, it started to be undone.  Pretty soon, my body was telling me it didn't like my decision.  Anything over three miles is TOO MUCH.  Some hint that if this continued much longer I would throw up or pass out.  You are overdoing it!

To put this into context, 10 minutes per mile in a 24 hour race is 6 miles per hour which calculates to 144 miles, a very respectable pace and distance, and more than Brian Krogmann's San Francisco One Day course record set last October.  So the effect of this particular virus =  nausea without diarrhea + malaise + fatigue + chills but no fever + headache + the cumulative decelerating effect of running 24 hours around and around in an oval real damn fast.

I think I'm finally fully recovered, though I still feel like sleeping more than normal.   The only day I have to get in a run is Friday, but being the day before the race, guess I'm not.  HUGE unintentional over-taper.  

Well, I guess I get 24 hours this weekend to make up some mileage.  As long as my immune system holds up, should be a blast!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Post-Firetrails Decision

To prevent Firetrails from being added to my list of long overdue blog reports*, I'm going to try a new approach this time.  Instead of trying to finish the whole thing and then publish, a task I can't see happening anytime soon, and maybe not before my next race in two weeks, San Francisco 24 Hour, I think I will go through different themes and knock them off one by one in manageable portions (and then index them here).  This will be easier for you readers to digest also.  We're all busy, right?

Your feedback always appreciated.

* list includes:
STORMY 100 (2008)
Fear and Loathing 50k (2008)
Mohican 100 (2009)
Cascade Crest 100 (2009)
Hundred in the Hood (2009)
Headlands Hundred (2010)
Angeles Crest 100 (2010)

I actually have at least few interesting things to write about each of them.

Yes, Firetrails is only half the distance of each of the above races (aside from the 50k), but a lot of stuff came up today.  I thought it wouldn't, but it almost always does.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pre-Firetrails 50 Thoughts (#4, so miles 150-200)

Lake Chabot, around mile 46 or 47

This is sort of weird.  Despite the minimal hassle-- no drop bags, real short drive --in a way I'm more nervous about my next race, Firetrails 50 tomorrow than I have for any of the 100-milers I've done this year.  A few factors:
  • The 22.5 miles I ran on Tuesday was probably too much, though I tried to go easy, and I've done worse not tapering.
  • I haven't run a 50-mile race since Quicksilver in May of last year.  In fact I haven't run a non-100 mile ultra since this April.
  • I haven't run Firetrails in three years.
    • 2008-- Ironman Sports Medicine Conference in Kona 
    • 2009--had just run Hundred in the Hood, leaving my family for the weekend.  Still, I swung by Chabot and took photos of some of the 50 milers and marathoners close to the finish (click for link to Picasa album).  But I regretting not having registered and run myself.
  • Thick field looking at the entrants list (almost 300 registered-- a record).  Not that I really care that much, but if I went from 3rd place overall (2007) to 13th or 30th place overall this year, well, that would make me look so over-the-hill.
  • I think I might really be over-the-hill, so maybe just as well.  I'm a little nervous about how far over the hill I've descended.
Age-group-winner wine bottle awards, 2006 & 2007.  Highly unlikely to get another this year. 
For newer readers, blog report from 2007 detailing my close end-of-race duel with the 2nd place masters male.

Okay, I'm actually not trembling with fear.  Looking forward to a really beautiful day on the trails and hanging out with my ultra-peeps at the post-race picnic.

with co-RD and ultrarunning goddess Ann Trason at the finish three years ago

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lost Stuffed Puppy Bonus Miles

Despite the hangover and lack of sleep, the unofficial post-reunion party brunch we attended Sunday morning was a lot of fun-- grazing on a great spread in my friend's beautiful house catching up with a some of my high-school classmates.  (In fact, I had to travel to southwest Ohio to finally see a friend (3rd from the right) who lives in the Bay Area.)   My family was among the last to leave after we stragglers took a short walk in the neighborhood.  Well, almost the last-- my hosting friend sent me a message on facebook, which luckily I soon saw:
I found (your son's) kitty and a striped hoodie. Call me or give me your parent's address and I can run it over. Good excuse to take out the Porsche.
Of course, it was an even better excuse for me to get a quick run in, so I replied for him not sweat it-- I'll be over.  It took only 22 minutes door to door to retrieve the goods with one last goodbye.  I decided to take a roundabout route to get back to my parents, including a few short detours to run the athletic fields of my alma mater and some trails in an upscale neighborhood.

When I got home, I put the bundle on the kitchen table, but my wife noted that there was no kitty (actually I think it's a puppy, but I'm no veterinarian) wrapped in the hoodie.  Probably after I picked up a stray golf ball (bad habit of mine, especially as I rarely golf), and while fiddling with my iPod Nano, it fell out.  Somewhere.

"You better find it, or someone will be upset" my wife warned me.  My son was still napping.  There was still time.

My mother wanted to come with me and see my friend's house we were raving about.  I tried to explain briefly that I couldn't look for the animal by car, and even if we drove that it might be up to 7 miles one-way before I found it.  But in the same way that it is futile to try to make her understand the ultrarunning addiction-thing, I doubt she understood why I had to go by foot. 

Out the door I went to try to retrace my steps.

You'd be amazed at (1) how much litter there is even in the nicest of midwestern suburbs, and (2) how many paper cups, napkins, and bags look like they might be a small stuffed animal from the distance.  Plus, not having planned on losing it, I wasn't sure exactly what I was looking for.

what I was looking for, next to toddler's hoodie for scale

Luckily I found it in the high school field, 2.6 miles out; then took a different way back to my parents' for another 3.3.  So I extended my 10.5 mile run by 5.9 miles / 40-something minutes for a total 16.4 miles and 2 hours 11 minutes, not including five minutes between the two reconnaissance missions.  About right for six days before Firetrails 50 (though I might have blown it by running over 20 miles on Tuesday).

Anyways, it's an even better weekend when my wife tells me I have to go back out and run more!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


We went to the Air Force Museum in Dayton.  Interesting for my wife and me,  a little too advanced for my kids to appreciate.  I let my dad drive back, and fell asleep during the afternoon ride back, missing the drop-off en route so I could run home along the Little Miami River trail.  I mentioned this regret to my wife, who told me I should just run so she wouldn't have to hear me whine later, but I felt I should be a good daddy and take my kids to a nearby playground, which I did until the sky was almost dark and past their grandparents' usual dinnertime.

The missed workout, along with having slept in this (technically now yesterday) morning and consuming too much dark chocolate for dessert (the fruit tart pulled out of the freezer needs a full day to thaw) set me up for trouble sleeping.  On top of that lots of stuff my brain keeps trying to process.  In addition to just finishing a fun weekend of high school reunion festivities, I have all this stuff in my bedroom from my past lives.  Made the mistake of flipping through albums and boxes of photos.  (Among many questions-- what do I do with all these photos of ex-girlfriends, anyways?)  Those of you reading this who think I'm this simple Forrest Gumpian guy who just loves to keep running-- my apologies!

So now I'm paying.  And I don't have any Ambien on me.  It's either midnight + 1/2 or 3:30 in the morning depending on which time zone you pick.  Maybe I'll go and start running now.  Running at 3:30 a.m. isn't just a Calfornia thing, right?