Monday, February 11, 2013

Training Report and My Grand Slam of Ultrarunning Training Plan (Still a Work in Progress)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Workout Types(s): Running mostly through the snow and a lil’ bit in the streets.
Miles: 20
Where: Riverside Park, Inwood Park, Cloisters
Notes: I did not make it to the mountains this weekend, but I felt trudging through the snow was a great substitute.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Workout Types(s): 5K + Easy Run
Miles: 13+
Notes: It was Rob’s first 5K and our first race together. 

Training Notes

Although my initial plans were to run Harriman State Park this past weekend, because of Snowstorm Nemo, I wasn’t sure how safe the roads would be at 6 a.m.  Normally driving on icy and snowy roads does not bother me, but I had a really bad scare Friday night leaving work, so I decided to just stay put.  Being able to sleep the extra hours was lovely.  I think this might be the first weekend of 2013 where I did not have to spend two or three hours driving to get to my long run training grounds. 

Making footprints in the snow.

In any case, Saturday’s run was fun and uneventful.  Although most of the areas where I ran were already shoveled and/or snow plowed, I was feeling a bit guilty about not driving to Harriman, so I ran through the fresh snow whenever possible.  Out of the twenty or so miles I ran, I think only five of those miles were on regular ground.    

On Sunday, Rob and I ran our first race together, a Valentine’s Day 5K, organized by NYC Runs.  It was a fun, low-key race in Prospect Park with free hot chocolate and bagels.  Oh, and stickers shaped like hearts.  Actually, this was Rob’s first organized running event and he was great, despite never running more than a few miles on a road before.  He was totally game for running over a mile to the start (We were running late and I don't like being late, even for podunky races =P) and taking a faster-than-usual pace during the race.  He is just so mellow.  He’ll be an ultrarunner sooner than he knows.  Muhahahahaha.

My ultrarunning trail buddy, Becky was there as well.  Both of us needed additional miles to finish up our training, so after saying good bye to Rob, we headed back and ran at an easy pace through Brooklyn, across the Brooklyn Bridge and then to the PATH station.  It had been ages since Becky and I last ran together, so it was good to catch up.  Becky and I parted ways at Christopher Street, and I ran the last five miles back, feeling relatively strong, despite my recurrent Morton’s neuroma issues. 

I really, really wasn’t looking forward to going back because the next item on my agenda was to dig my car out from the snow storm, but lo and behold, as I ran towards the apartment, Rob was already there, with the job almost finished.  Awwww.  Rob is pretty much the best.  Not only was he totally cool with doing a race with just a few days' notice, but even after running five or so miles, he still had enough energy to shovel snow that had solidified into ice.  

Good relaxing, running weekend, I must say.  Especially since I didn't have to shovel.  I think I would rather run for four hours than shovel for even an hour.  Actually, that's not saying much since if I were running in the woods, those four hours would be awesome, but you get what I mean.     

Grand Slam of Ultrarunning Training Plan (Version 1.0):

Here it is, as requested, my formal training plan for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning.  It is still very much a work in progress, so please . . . give me advice.  I need it.  Especially if you are a veteran runner/pacer/friend of a finisher of ANY of the Grand Slam races.

General Notes:

- I am adapting this to my racing schedule.  For example, no matter how awesome I feel after Umstead 100, I won’t go crazy with the tempo runs and speed work the following week ;).
- I drop the intensity for one week out of four, to give myself a mental and physical break.  
- Most of my gym workouts involve a lengthy sauna session afterwards.  (Heat training!)
- I am getting physical therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, and chiro work done every week.  I want to do this as injury-free-ish as possible.  
- I will be attending Western States training camp over Memorial Day weekend.

Saturday and Sunday:
Minimum of 30 miles, preferably 40 miles; one day MUST be on a real trail (a.k.a. must have long ascent and descents greater than a mile and there must be some technical elements)

(a) Cross training/recovery run
(b) Yoga/pilates

(a) Climbing stairs (minimum 300 floors or so)/15% incline on treadmill at minimum of 4.0 mph (1.5 to 2 hours)
(b) Calisthenics, calisthenics, calisthenics.

(a) Tempo Run (7 – 8 miles; 1 mile warm up; 2 miles of above average speed; 2 miles of a chill pace; 2 miles of above average speed)
(b) Mini climb: 15% incline at minimum of 4.0 mph for at least half an hour after tempo run.
(c) Heat training in sauna.

(a) Speed training/sprints up hills 
(b) Calisthenics, calisthenics, calisthenics.
(c) Climbing stairs 

(a) Cross training/recovery run
(b) Yoga/pilates

Friday, February 8, 2013

My New and Improved Race Schedule! It's Even Color Coded!

Finally got my act together and formalized my race schedule for the year.  Red = already completed; Orange = registered; Yellow = not registered yet; Green = no need for formal registration.   
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Workout Types(s): tempo run; treadmill climb (set treadmill at 15% incline and 4 mph)
Miles ran: 8 miles of temp; 2 miles of climb
Notes: My Morton’s neuroma bothered me a lot towards the end of my run, so I started climbing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Workout Types(s): climbing; calisthenics
Floors climbed: A little over 500 floors
Notes: Easiest climb ever, especially because I was reading Robert Jordan.  I think I need to start wearing a weighted vest. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Workout Types(s): easy run; treadmill climb (set treadmill at 15% incline and 4.0 mph)
Miles ran: 7 miles of easy running; 2 miles of climbing
Notes: Feel like a climbing machine!

I have an official race schedule for 2013.  For those who were familiar with my previous schedule, you can see that I have upped it up a notch, thanks to my Grand Slam of Ultrarunning attempt.

This year has already changed me.  This is the first time in my life as a runner that I have a race plan!  And not just a race plan for a few months!  A race plan for the *entire* year!  

In fact, my ultra career began because I was so used to making last minute decisions about races.  I wanted to run the Philadelphia Marathon for my birthday, but by the time I got around to actually signing up, it was sold out, so I ended up running the Knickerbocker 60K instead.  And this is a bit embarrassing, but only two summers ago, a few days before my first 100 miler, I had to email the race director of the Summer Beast of Burden to beg him to let me in.  I think my message went along the lines of, "ALL MY FRIENDS ARE GOING TO BE THERE AND IF I DON'T GO, I WILL BE SO SAAAAAD."  I probably wrote in caps, I was so desperate.  

Unfortunately, with the types of races that I am interested in doing, I can no longer be so higgledy-piggledy .  Now I set up reminder emails and calendar notifications to make sure that I am at my computer when on-line registration starts.  For instance, Umstead 100 sold in minutes.  Minutes.  Can you imagine - hundreds of people, sitting anxiously at their computers just because they want to have the opportunity to run a hundred miles in some random North Carolinian state park?  I always use Umstead as an example when I try to explain to people how popular ultrarunning has become.  Vermont 100 sold out in less than a couple of days; it was only because I declared myself a Grand Slammer that I was given a provisional entry.

Some of the races are so popular that they need to involve a lottery system.  Leatherman's Loop 10K, Western States, and Wasatch all have lotteries that people wait anxiously for.  As it happened, I just signed up and completely forgot about each and every one.  Apparently this seems to be my lucky method of winning these lotteries, but now that I know this, I can't do this anymore because how does one remember to forget?  Western States' lottery even involved a live web broadcast, which is how my friends found out I got in before I did.  

Anyway, back to my race schedule!  I am really excited about each and every race, for different reasons:

Valentine's Day 5K: My first official race with Rob!

Febapple 50K: So many cool people are going to be there!  Including my friend Robin, who is practically my race twin this year since I will be seeing her at the NJ Ultra Festival, Umstead, Three Days at the Fair, and Vermont 100.

Zombie Apocalypse Training: Okay, this isn't a race, but helloooo, I get to learn cool post-apocalyptic survival skills, such as hotwiring a car and using a crossbow.  Thanks Cheryl for setting this up!

Umstead 100: Although I ran Umstead last year, this will be my sorority little sister's first ever 100.  I am absolutely stoked that the two of us are now ultrarunners, considering we completely hated running in college.  Also, this is my dear friend (and one of my running inspirations) Kino's third attempt at Umstead and I am confident that his third time will be a charm.  He has already run other, more difficult 100s, this race just happens to be his bugbear.

Leatherman's Loop: Yes, it's just a 10K, but it's a 10K with lots of mud and water crossings.  

Bear Mountain 50 Miler: It's a gnarly trail race with a generous time cut off.

Brooklyn Half Marathon: My brother and I are going to run this together.  I already have ideas for matching tshirts . . . hopefully they will be better than the not-so-running-friendly cotton tshirts I made for our last marathon together.  Also, this will be my first official half-marathon!

Mayapple 50K: My last real run to stretch my legs for hours before Western States.

Western States 100, Vermont 100, Leadville 100, and Wasatch 100 (a.k.a. The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning): No need to explain why I am excited for these races.  

Stone Mill 50: For $35, I get to run a 50+ mile race?  Awesome!

If you have been paying attention, I have no races scheduled for October and December.  Apparently everyone is getting married in October.  Yay for Mike and Jill and Elizabeth and Matt (Oh, and Rob's friend in Chicago)!  And December, I am just going to do absolutely NOTHING, except maybe plan for 2014.  

So, that's it.  My first-ever, race schedule planned out in advance.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mount Beacon: Perfect place for mountain repeats! (Except when it is covered by ice!)

Mount Beacon: Perfect place for mountain repeats!

Saturday, February 2, 2013
Workout Types(s): Trail running, road running
Miles ran: 18ish
Where: Palisades Interstate Park
Temperature: High 20s
What I wore: Elita turtleneck, Northface fleece, random vest, elita thermal leggings, Adidas leggings, 2XU calf sleeves, smartwool socks, Bondi Band
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Happy
What I thought about while running: Life is good.
Food consumed: Zico coconut water, two zone bars
Notes: Ran from my house to the Palisades, ran along the Palisades, and then ran back.  Totally bumped into my gastroenterologist, who was out hiking with his wife.  Cool.

Sunday, February 3, 2013
Workout Types(s): Mountain repeats
Miles ran: 20ish
Where: Mt. Beacon
Temperature: High teens, low 20s
What I wore: Elita turtleneck, Northface fleece, random vest, elita thermal leggings, Adidas leggings, 2XU calf sleeves, smartwool socks, Bondi Band, microspikes
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Pretty good.
What I thought about while running: I could spend all day doing this.
Food consumed: Zico coconut water, one zone bar, dduk boki (Korean food).
Notes: Why can’t this mountain be closer to me??!!! 

Monday, February 4, 2013
Workout Types(s): Recovery run
Miles ran: 6
Where: My neighborhood
Temperature: Low 20s
What I wore: Elita turtleneck, Northface fleece, Adidas leggings, random ankle socks, Bondi Band
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Brrrrrisk.
What I thought about while running: Don’t recall.
Food consumed: Nothing.
Notes: So hard to get out of bed this morning.  Good thing I wore my running clothes before I went to sleep. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Nothing yet.  Will probably climb, run, and strength train tonight.

This weekend was fantastic because I was able to stick to mostly running in the woods.  On Saturday, I ran the Long Path in Palisades Interstate Park.  The Long Path begins at Fort Lee Historical Park, parallels the Hudson River in North Jersey and makes its way all the way up to Albany.  For those unfamiliar with the Palisades Interstate Park, it's a park that hugs the Hudson River and starts about a half a mile south of the George Washington Bridge and extends all the way past the New Jersey/New York state line.  It is easily accessible via public transportation from Manhattan and so it is a common training ground for some of my trail-loving Manhattan friends.  The park has two major trails, the Long Path and the Shore Trail and a few little trails that connect the two.  The Long Path is on the cliffs and the Shore Trail is, you guessed it, on the Hudson River shoreline.  In between the trails is Henry Hudson Drive, a popular road for cyclists and road runners.

From my house, it is about a 5K, mostly uphill run to the Palisades, which made me nice and toasty by the time I hit the Long Path.  I ran six miles on the Long Path and then took the Huyler's Landing trail down to the Shore Path.  Since I was pressed for time and I was not running the Shore Path as fast as I would have liked, I had to leave the trail, climb a short distance to Henry Hudson Drive and then book it as fast I could back home.  

Sunday's run was a lot more interesting.  When I first found out that I got into Western States and started asking around for advice on where and how to train, nearly everyone said that I had to practice long ascents and descents, the longer the better.  This worried me, because besides Harriman State Park with its Bear and Bald Mountains, I didn't really know of any longish climbs in the area.  

Fortunately, an ultrarunning friend and Leadville-veteran, Michael Oliva told me about Mount Beacon, which is located in the Fishkill, NY, only an hour drive north from my house.  There are a couple of approaches to the peak, but the fastest and steepest (and best for my Grand Slam training) route is via Mount Beacon Park in Beacon, NY.  Using the red blazed "Casino Trail," you start at an elevation of 200' and finish at 1400' in less than two miles.  Once you get to the top, there is a fire lookout tower that you can climb for an additional 200 feet of altitude.  It sounded perfect for mountain repeats.  Mike said I should be able to climb back and forth easily at least ten times in order to prepare for Leadville.  That Sunday, I decided that I would do five to get an even twenty miles.  

Getting to the trail was easy.  The Mount Beacon Park parking lot is located right at the trail base, so I just drove, parked, threw my backpack on and started running.  And then stopped almost immediately because I saw a very curious tree that was dotted with colorful balls.  When I walked closer, I realized that the balls were actually pieces of gum left by hikers throughout the years.  Cool, but gross.  

The gum tree.

After taking a few photos of the tree, I kept going and then stopped again because I encountered some stairs.  In my limited research of Mount Beacon, I didn't realize the first part of the ascent involved climbing about two hundred steps to the actual trail.  But since the stairs were going in the right direction, I went up and finally saw my first red trail marker.

Hello, trail marker.

So I bounded up the trail.  It was steep, but definitely runnable.  However, I resisted the temptation to just run and focused on practicing my speed hiking, a very useful skill to have in trail ultramarathons.

Easy peasy.

Hello, itty bitty rocks.

The ice was getting annoying, so I threw on my microspikes.

Hello, annoying ice.

After less than twenty, twenty five minutes of hiking and taking pictures, I reached the first major lookout point.  According to my quick wikipedia search, back in the 1900s, this very spot used to have a popular casino and there was a railway that went up and down the mountain; at that time, it was the world's steepest funicular.  Everything is now in ruins, but the view was still pretty nice.

The view.  Hello, Rob.

Abandoned railway funicular stop.

Inside the old railway.

After taking a few photos, I kept on following the trail.  Although this ascent wasn't nearly as steep, it was definitely icy:

My microspikes came in handy during this part.

And then I was at the top!  At the top of Mount Beacon was a fire lookout tower which offered 360 views of the Hudson Highlands.  Unfortunately, the entrance was padlocked.  

The fire lookout tower!

Should I climb it?

This may or may not be a view from top of the lookout tower.

This also may or may not be a view from top of the lookout tower.  Look at those itty bitty trails!

While I was happy to be at the top, I was a bit sad because I wanted to take some photos of myself and there was no one around.  However, from where I stood, I could see a group of hikers on another peak, about a mile away.  This will sound crazy, but I just knew that they were Korean.  And if they were indeed one of my brethren (I am Korean), at least one of them would be more than happy to take my photo! 

If you squint really hard, you can see a group of hikers.

So I ran, ran, ran over to the next peak.  And by golly, I was right.  They were Korean!  And they were cooking something that smelled delicious.  As soon as I said hello, they told me to sit down and eat with them.   Turns out they were cooking ddeokboki and it was spicy and delicious.  After I ate a few and thanked them a million times, one of the women was nice enough to snap my photo.

Hello, my people.  
Hiking photo: Achieved.

On my way back, I could see the lookout tower, and more importantly, I could see little figures just hanging around the top.  If I ran really fast, I could get there before they left and they could take a photo of me at the peak!  So I ran, ran, ran back as fast as I could to the top of Mount Beacon. 

A view of the lookout tower from the other peak.

Unfortunately, I just didn't move fast enough and was less than a quarter mile from the lookout tower, when I ran into the folks hiking back down.  However, by this point, I realized that there would probably be more hikers, so I contented myself by power hiking up and down Mount Beacon until I encountered another group of people.  After all, I was there to train, not to take pictures!  

But finally, I ran into a cool couple from the area and they were more than happy to take my photo:

Jumping photo: Achieved.

The rest of the day before the sun went down was pretty much the same.  Up and down and down and up.  Climbing up was pretty easy - I am starting to think all my stair mill workouts are actually accomplishing something.  However, going down was not as productive as I would have liked, mostly because I could never get a good rhythm going for more than a minute.  Parts of the trail were just much too icy and at certain points, I needed to sit and slide down because running down was just too dangerous, even in microspikes.  But sliding down was a lot of fun, even if I didn't reap any training benefits.

Finally, at around five o'clock, I decided to call it quits.  My iPhone was dying and it was growing dark and I was getting cold.  After saying good bye to Mount Beacon, I drove to Beacon's downtown area and looked for the nearest cafe so I could drink something hot.  The only thing I could find was a wine bar and it was deserted because apparently the Super Bowl was on.  Oops.  I totally forgot about the Super Bowl.  Oh well.  The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning is my Super Bowl ;).  

Time to go home.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Running on ice is (not) good for you.

I find out how good my Microspikes really are.

Scott and I decide to slide down the ice!  Note: the trail is actually a lot steeper than it looks.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Workout Types(s): Hiking trails
Miles ran: 12ish
Where: Harriman State Park
Temperature: High teens, low 20s
What I wore: Elita turtleneck, Northface fleece, random vest, and random windbreaker, elita thermal leggings, Adidas leggings, random ankle socks, Bondi Band, microspikes
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Happy
What I thought about while running: I wish I could go to a real trail every day.
Food consumed: Zico coconut water, two zone bars, oatmeal
Notes: Mileage was low, but that was because the terrain was difficult with all the ice.  We spent at least four hours on the trails.

Sunday, January 27, 2013
Workout Types(s): Recovery, Roads
Miles ran: 13ish
Where: Central Park
Temperature: 30ish
What I wore: Elita turtleneck, Northface fleece, elita thermal leggings, random ankle socks, Bondi Band
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Solid.  My neuroma acted up half way, but it was fine.
What I thought about while running: Felt like I could run forever.
Food consumed: Zone Bar
Notes: Didn’t feel cold – hooray!

Monday, January 28, 2013
Workout Types: Physical therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractor work

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Workout Types(s): Trails, 6 a.m. and midnight workouts
Miles ran: 7ish
Where: Neighborhood, Flat Rock
Temperature: 20ish
What I wore: Elita turtleneck, Northface fleece, elita thermal leggings, random ankle socks, Bondi Band
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Solid. 
What I thought about while running: Gosh, I’m tired.   
Food consumed: Zone bar.
Notes: I should go back to doing my midnight runs in Manhattan.  Jogging after midnight in the suburbs is kind of scary.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Workout Types(s): Tempo running, climbing, strength training
Miles ran: 7.5 miles of tempo running, 1 mile of climbing.
Where: The Gym
What I wore: Honolulu Marathon tshirt, elita thermal leggings, random ankle socks, Bondi Band
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315, Dr. Scholl’s foot bad for my neuroma issues.
How I felt: Solid.  Wearing the foot pad gave me a blister.  The funny thing, it's been so long since I've had blister issues that I wasn't sure what I was feeling at first.
What I thought about while running: I wish I could run faster.
Food consumed: Zone bar.
Notes: My weird neuroma needs to go away.  Stat.

Thursday, January 31, 2013
Workout Types(s):  4:30 a.m. run. 
Miles ran: 6ish
Where: Road/Flat Brook
Temperature: 50ish
What I wore: DWG 50K Shirt, elita thermal leggings, random ankle socks, Bondi Band
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Sleepy. 
What I thought about while running: I think I am a morning person.   
Food consumed: Nothing.
Notes: I think running at 4:30 might be better for me.  Less stress in the mornings in terms of getting ready for work and such.  In this case, I only got up because I had to drive my parents to the airport at 6 a.m. and by the time I got home, I had fifteen minutes to shower, dress, and book it to work. 

Friday, January 31, 2013
Workout Types(s):  Normal morning run.
Miles ran: 6
Where: Road/Flat Brook
Temperature: 30s
What I wore: DWG 50K Shirt, Northface fleece, elita thermal leggings, random ankle socks, Bondi Band
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Worried.
What I thought about while running: Where should I run this weekend?   
Food consumed: Nothing.
Notes: Friday morning runs are the way to go.    

It's been a busy week, so I did not much time to post this.  But as busy as I was, I still had time to train, so train I did.  

My only cool training day was running the trails at Harriman State Park last weekend with Scott Martin and Garth, two ultrarunners from New York.  For those who know me, I have a natural talent of getting lost and following imaginary trails.  But thanks to Scott and Garth, they kept me on track, so I had a good, but slightly cold time along various sections of the park.      

Our run was generally uneventful, but I did have one moment of hilarity.  We had to do some ice/water crossings and most of the time, I was cautious and avoided the ice like I was playing the lava game.  Unfortunately, towards the end of the run, we came across this ice section that had dog foot prints.  I saw the dog a bit earlier and he looked sizeable, so I figured the ice was safe for me to walk on.  However, I neglected to consider that he was on all fours and was able to distribute his weight on a greater surface, and I was tromp, tromp, tromping on my Microspike-clad sneakers.  So my feet fell through, but fortunately the water wasn't deep and the ice water felt great.  Bonus: My Roc-Lites did a great job at shedding water, so my feet were dry by the time we got back to our cars.  

That's all I have time to write for now.  I still haven't decided where to run this weekend, so if you have a cool idea, let me know and I will be happy to join.  I just found out yesterday that I have time to do some long runs this weekend.  As of now, I will probably do Harriman super duper early tomorrow and the Long Path in the Palisades on Sunday.  Or maybe the reverse, I don't know.  We'll see what happens when I get up in the morning.   

Where my foot fell through the ice.  Tee hee hee.
Scott and Garth! Garth said he has been using those same gloves for two decades now.  Now I don't feel so bad for wearing the same thermals for fifteen years.

My silly iPhone decided that it was too cold to behave and kept on turning off even though it had more than enough battery, so I didn't take as many photos as I would have liked.  Next time, I am bringing a real camera.