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Monday, May 30, 2011


USD - Does that mean US Dollar?  Well to many around the world it does.  But to Brian and myself it means the University of San Diego.  We met as fellow Toreros (Bull Fighters) on an August afternoon in our university's outdoor walkway to the cafeteria.  Brian was with his lovely parents and I had just ate lunch.  I had also come back from a 15 mile run and my eyes were blood shot and Brain thought I was high.  Well I wasn't and I thought Brian looked to be a #5 or #6 runner on this year's Cross-Country Team.  I was new and so was Brian.  The Previous year I ran cross country for the 8th place Notre Dame Irish Men.  I transferred to USD and became a Torero because I have asthma and the cold weather of Northern Indiana was not suitable for my lungs; henceforth, I transferred to Sounthern California.  Some say for the women.  Some say for my asthma.  But low and behold it was for USD!

I was Brian's captain for 3 years at USD on the cross country team.  I ran to a second place finish twice at the West Coast Conference Championships and ran the 1500 meter metric mile in 3:52.  I then became Brian's assistant cross-country coach.  That was fun. 

Running is in Brian's blood.  And so to in mine. 
My name is Carlos Antonio Lopez III, I go by Antonio, and I'm part Mexican, Native American, Spanish, Portuguese, and from the colleges I went to (Irish, Lobo (UNM Summer School), Wildcat (UofA Summer School), and Bull Fighter.  I would say that my favorite mascot is probably the Lobo.  I'm New Mexican.  Born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico - The Duke City - or Burque'
Lobo is really my last name - LOPEZ - Lopez derives from Lupine or Lupus - Latin for Wolf - As the story goes the Moors whom conquered Espana (Spain) for 400 years said that the clan that fought to the death like the wolves shall be named Lupus - then it derived to Lopes - then as it hit the land of my ancestors it became Lopez.

Enough about me.  What about my friend Brian whom asked me to compile my thoughs, half marathon I've created, and photos of running in NM - and include it in his blog . . . Well he's a chatter box when least expected and that will sometimes get all of us in trouble.  Other than that, he knows a lot about Life.  Just ask him.  Life as one wants to be free.  I'm 30 so that must make Brian around 28 or 29.  Yet he has found the perfect solution to life.  Live it how you want to!

Back to that first day I met Brian.  He was cautios of the New Mexican he just met.  I convinced him to have his firt beer that first weekend in San Diego.  He was a So-Cal boy . . . Didn't they all drink?

One thing was for sure that first weekend . . . We both could not find the beach in his Nissan Truck that he still drives . . . Bri-Guy come on now. 

Nonetheless we got new running shoes and probably put about 3840 miles in as friends over the next 4 years.  As his captain and assistant coach, Brian had more talent in his small toe than I had in my body.  I tried to have him run 100 miles a week with me, but he hovered around 60 to 70.  I believe Brain is finally realizing the optimal state of a runner's mind at his current 100 mile per week regiment.  I just got off the phone with him and he is happy to be moving from Colorado back to the Mother F_____ woops . . . shut your mouth . . . I meant to say Mother Land.  CALIFORNIA.

Brian my advice is to find a new trail once a month in Cali - instead of everyday.  That will keep your batteries going.  As for advice, that's what I do for a living.  But I first took a quick 4 year trip to NYC.

As the story goes I went to NYC to become a playwright after San Diego.  I went to the Actors Studio Drama School Graduate Program.  Some of you may have seen "Inside the Actors Studio" on Bravo in the past where James Lipton interviews cool people (Coolest person while I was there was Morgan Freeman).  Well that was my class on Tuesday night at 6pm.  Our artistic directors were Al Pacino, Robert DeNiero, and Ellen Brystyn.  Quite the experience.  Then I landed a job on Wall Street; my grandfater was dying in Santa Fe, New Mexico (If you ran the Chicago Marathon in 2010 my story is in the program and illustrates how my grandfather is my inspiration for running) so I came back to my roots in NM in 2006 bought a condo, became a financial advisor, and today I'm a vice president at Merrill Lynch and manage approximately 62 million for approximately 100 clients.

As for running I've run 8 marathons with a PR of 2:32 in the 2007 San Diego marathon.
I still can't PR in the marathon after trying numerous times.  Any advice is needed.  If you recall the protagonist in "Once A Runner" says " I run to let the Demons out " and I don't have the book in front of me its in my office . . . I guess I run to let the Gas . . . I mean Demons out too.  At the end of a day or beginning of the day its nice to be in nature and see what God has to offer.  Oh, yes, USD is a Catholic School.  So is my belief in God good?  Why yes.  Here it goes.  If creation occurred then it had to come from something.  EVOLUTION . . . Well that came later.  But God must have had something to do with the beginning.  Therefore if the beginning was the start and that energy is in you and I; then conclusively God = YOU.  Well maybe there's just a small part of god in you?

Nonetheless this is a running blog.  So I married the love of my life whom ran the 10,000 meters in college and has run 5 marathons with me . . . and almost beat me in one.  We have a cat "Kishka" and she does not like to run.  She just sleeps and eats.  She is our Demon!  HA!

Last weekend my sister had her 40th Birthday at a Hyatt Resort in Bernallilo called "Tamaya"  and we ran by the Rio Grande River:

This memorial weekend, I thought a lot of the 2 biological grandfathers I lost in WWII and my inspiration for running, Cayetano Casados - whom married my nana when my mother was just 5 years old and he was also a WWII veteran.  He fought at Normandy, France and off the coast of Heroshima, Japan when the bomb was dropped.  He was a gun captain on the USS Quincy and had to shoot down a kamakazie plane in the South Pacific.  Too All Those Veterans Across the country and in the Afterlife I tip my beer to you!

Here are a few pictures of the Caja del Rio Trails in Santa Fe sitting at about 6,000 feet above Sea level that we ran yesterday:

Then today we ran at 10,000 feet above sea level on the Windsor Trail:

All in all we hope to be up to 100 miles per week in the middle of July.  We have the same problems and inspirations you may have, and life if great one step at a time!  Or shall I say while we're running!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Green and Flagstaff Mountains AND BUNDY

Ah this run kicked my butt! I guess doing the Tuesday Tempo Run/Race two days ago and doing a double on Mount Sanitas yesterday was just asking for my legs to feel bundy today. Before starting my run my plan was to run around 6 hours total, since I had the time. Today was my last day of work WOOHOO and I only had to work a half day! I shot straight home and headed out on my run. In my mind I was thinking about summiting Green via Amphitheater Trail and Saddlerock (which I did), and then down Bear Canyon and then up Fern Canyon (nope), and if I was feeling awesome I would give Shadow (big nope) a shot too. Well I was feeling BUNDY from the start. It was way rough going up to Green, I won't allow myself to walk that, but sure did I want to. That was easily my toughest summit of Green, I couldn't believe how much sweat was pouring out of me!

Getting to the top of Green I thought maybe a long downhill to the intersection of Bear Ridge Trail and Bear Canyon Trail would boost up my energy, so I didn't even stop at the top of Green and kept going, I wasn't ready to give in to my bundy legs. When I got to the trail intersection of Bear Ridge and Bear Canyon my legs were still feeling bundy, and I was definitely weak-sauce on the downhill. At this point I finally began to accept that today just wasn't my day. I made an executive decision to go back up towards Green, and then take the Ranger Trail over to Flagstaff Mountain, and use all that downhill to Flagstaff, and then descend Flagstaff all the way down to Ebin G. Fine Park, and then like a big woose take the streets home from there. I just had zero energy on uphills, and all around for that matter. But the way I look at it is I trained super hard the two previous days and my body just needed some rest from those days.

Where the Bear Ridge Trail and Bear Canyon Trail intersect there is a little meadow that is one of my favorite parts of the Boulder Mountains that I have seen. Since I was also feeling horrible at this point I took a solid snack break.

One of my favorite trails in Boulder

Ugh I was feeling bundy here! It's going to be absolutely beautiful when those Aspen in the background bloom!

Heading up towards the Ranger Trail I came across 3 deer

Look at my red beard! (And the deer in the background) Going to be shaving that sucker when I get into AZ to visit my parents on the way to San Diego, too hot there for a beard!

Once I hit the Ranger Trail I used the long descent to my advantage, and also hit the peak of Flagstaff Mountain. When I was almost all the way down Flagstaff I came across two more deer.

If you look closely at the deer on the right you can see two small antlers. Maybe that is his wife with him!

This run was way rough and didn't go well, but I was still out for 3 and half hours so a solid effort. I have tomorrow off, BECAUSE I AM DONE WITH WORK, so I'm planning on doing another long run. And then guess what? Hitting up Left Hand Brewery tomorrow afternoon to visit my buddy Coey who is a tester there. He said he could hook up some cases of beer for the road trip out to San Diego!  But he said I have to drink them while I drive...hmmm that doesn't seem safe! Tonight I'll be splitting a 6-pack of Dog Fish Head Indian Brown Ale with my roomy James. Thanks for the beers Mr. James! I've actually been to a Dog Fish Head restaurant in the greater DC area near Deanna's parents house, turns out it is brewed in Maryland.

Hopefully tomorrow my 2nd long run in as many days goes well! I'm also thinking of doing another on Saturday and Sunday and Monday and Tuesday, no joke, seriously. We drive out of this town on Tuesday so I'm hitting the trails as much as I can!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ultrarunning / Weekend Warrior Status / Happiness

I love backpacking and immersing myself in nature as long as possible and seeing as much of the outdoors as possible. Unfortunately I can't go backpacking for 6 months of the year as I so often dream of doing, such as doing the PCT or the CDT or the AT. I love backpacking on the weekends, but I always wake up on Sunday morning from a weekend backpacking trip feeling at a loss. At a loss to see more, explore more, and cover more ground; I always feel like I didn't see as much as I wanted to. This is where ultrarunning comes in for me.

Luckily I am fortunate enough to be able to run long distances and explore like crazy for hours on end. Being able to do a quick weekday reconnaissance to the trails for an hour and half or a long run on the weekends helps soothe my detachment from the outdoors. By no means does it completely satisfy my hunger to be in the wilderness, but it is satisfying to the point of a quick exploration trip. Sometimes on my long runs I cover up to 40 miles in a single day and see lots of different ecosystems and trails. Ultrarunning has the "quickly see as much as possible" aspect that I like. Maybe I am just looking for a sense of daily personal accomplishment.

Ultrarunning is one of those sports that is completely excessive and pretty much straight up mental. You definitely have to have a few screws loose from the "normal perspective" on life. That being said, ultrarunning definitely fits my personality! Somehow the rigors of running long distances has a calming effect on my mind. I often talk with Deanna about the meditative effects running has on me. And then if I combine running with being in the wilderness I reach a complete relaxed mental state that has great effects on my mental being. I always come back from running energized and upbeat, even though I typically run after work has beat me down mentally for the day. It's awesome how running for so long and being out in nature produces some sort of chemical effect on my brain making me a happier person. This mental state is very hard to understand, and I may even be addicted to it, but I don't see anything wrong with being addicted to happiness! Running daily is something my mind and body crave like food. This connection of body, mind, and nature makes me feel in tune with the world, which in turn is my medicine for being happy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Last Tuesday Tempo Run with the Boulder Trail Runners

My official date of arrival in San Diego is June 6th!

Tonight was my last Tuesday Tempo Run (TTR) aka Tuesday Tempo Race. Meeting up with this group on Tuesdays has been the base of my strength in my training. Tuesdays are always my hardest day of the week and by far get me into the most oxygen debt. It's a well organized group that comes ready to party on Tuesdays. It was from this group that I really started honing in on my downhill skills. Every week for our 30 min tempo there is always a combination of make you puke hills and super technical downhill.

I'm going to miss the Boulder Trail Runners. It is a free group run through Yahoo Groups. People just post runs on the Boulder Trail Runner's Yahoo Group and it's open for anyone to meet up. Sometimes regular groups form like the TTR group or the Tuesday Night Run Group or the Church of the Holy Trail Group or the Wednesday Morning Group. I wish San Diego had a running group like this. There are running clubs and groups in San Diego, but from my online research I haven't found anything quite the same, although I have found some groups I want to join, but they have membership fees BOOO.

One running group in San Diego that catches my attention, because I heard good things about it way out here in Boulder is the San Diego Dirt Devils. The group does cost $50 to join but they have a hook up at San Diego Running Institute where you get 20% off of each pair of shoes you buy, so essentially you get the $50 back if you buy a few pairs of running shoes a year, which I definitely do.

Ah if only I could move the trails of Boulder to San Diego. Don't get me wrong Southern California has great trails too, the difference in Boulder is I can access the trails right out my door and run up to the top of 5 different mountain peaks, if only I could have that ease of trail access in San Diego. I'm looking forward to running and camping in San Jacinto and San Gorgonio this summer and also doing some runs on the PCT up in Mount Laguna.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Marathon Calorie Consumption and Geoff Roes Podcast Interview

Consuming calories during your marathon is a huge factor to running a successful time. Since most runners peak for a marathon, and not train through it, it is probably not wise to rely on gel packs and other calories passed out as you run the route. Instead you should take control of when and how you get your calories. I recommend taking 5 gel packets and safety pinning them to your shorts. I did this for the first time for my last marathon and it worked wonders for my energy levels during the race. When I was first told of safety pinning the gels to my shorts from my buddy Antonio I was definitely worried the 5 gels would cause my shorts to fall down during the marathon, but this can be prevented, and my shorts never fell down during my marathon ha. Safety pin the gels to the outside of your shorts so that they are hanging down on the outside of your shorts. Then fold the gels over your waistband and down into your shorts. This will prevent your shorts from falling down.

Now the reason I recommend 5 gels: I recommend taking one at miles 5, 10, 15, 20, and 24. You might even want to have a 6th gel in your hand to take a few minutes before the race starts, which personally I would rather eat an energy bar at that time to get more calories in my system than a gel provides and to also get calories in my system that take a while to break down, unlike a gel. I enjoy Lara Bars for my pre-running snack. Now you might be wondering how the heck do I unfasten the gels from the safety pins as I am running. If you hold the top of the gel packet and the safety pin with one hand you can rip the gel right off the safety pin with the other hand, super easy to do, and the safety pin will stay on your shorts. That way you don't even have to worry about opening the gel, you can just squirt it straight into your mouth.

I leave you with a podcast interview of Geoff Roes, ultrarunner of the year in 2009 and 2010:

I had the fortunate experience of running with Geoff Roes up in the mountains of Boulder. He was out with Dakota JonesJoe Grant, and Scott Jurek. I ran into the them at the top of Bear Mountain and linked on with them to the top of South Boulder Peak, and down Shadow Canyon, where I parted ways. In the interview there was a lot of talk of Western States this year. This year's Western States 100 is going to be a huge competitive race, it may be the biggest ultra race this year. Hopefully it happens with how much snow is up in the Sierras still, if it is deemed too dangerous it can be cancelled.

I run therefore I am!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jamestown Camping

Camping happened Saturday night! We initially were going to camp near some OHV area in Lefthand Canyon, but when we saw the dirt road we said NOPE. We continued up Lefthand Canyon and stopped in Jamestown. Jamestown is a super small mountain town up at 6,800 ft. There is pretty much a church, a mercantile, a park, and some houses. We stopped in the mercantile for some advice on life and a little on camping. They pointed us to a national forest road that ends at a gate, but with a short walk we would find some meadows to camp in. They also mentioned they were having some live music starting at 7:30. Our informer said he wasn't exactly sure what the law was on dispersed camping or on campfires, but he assured us that Jamestown is too small for law enforcement.

We followed the given directions and found the campsite piece of cake! We went camping with our buddy Dana and he brought Talah along. We were a bit nervous of the weather at the campsite, because the weather report called for a thunderstorm to be passing through from 6-8. We did get some minor rain, but nothing more! It was actually a beautiful day and the temperature was perfect.

Arrival at our campsite

Talah gathering firewood

Talah helping with the tent setup

Deanna fixing up the rainfly

Dana setting up his tent

Time to get the fire started!

Campfire jam out session!

Talah decided to rock the Mexican poncho, she is always doing things like that!

Of course Talah and her Mexican poncho would be drinking Pacifico

After enjoying the fire for a bit and cooking up a big feast it was time for some live music at the Mercantile aka the Merc. Music started at 7:30 and we left to walk down there around 9:30. Upon arriving at the Merc it was awesome how packed the place was, absolutely amazing for such a small town, it was as if every single resident was there rocking out! After ordering some drinks we rocked out to live bluegrass and then suddenly the party was over. What the? Turns out the live music was done at 10 as it was time for the Merc to shut down. What a bummer! No worries though Jamestown is hip like Spongebob Square Pants. The band continued its rocking night in the park. They took out their acoustic instruments and played for another hour and then they all decided to transfer up to a campground up at 8,600ft, brrr too cold for us, so we headed back to our campground. We were all amped on how cool Jamestown was! Everyone had been super nice to us and they loved their live music! Deanna was so amped on Jamestown that she was ready to take up full time residency!

Music in the park after the Merc shut down

The three amigos

The next morning I woke up earlier than everyone and went for a solid morning run. We definitely camped on the side of a mountain, because the trails I explored went straight up and were super steep, I was up on my toes the entire time going uphill and releasing gallons of sweat from my dirty sticky camping pores. With the uphill being so steep I was pumped to rock the downhill. I had a blast running here! I love exploring new trails and seeing where they go. I never saw a trail map of the area or talked to anyone about the trails so it was blind exploring. I didn't want to be gone too long from the campsite, but I was having such a blast on this run and I kept on wanting to see what was around the next bend of the trail that it was a tough decision to finally turn around. After running for about 55 mins I decided it was time for a long downhill ascent. The downhill was brilliant with all kinds of technical terrain for me to navigate. I had an utter rocking session on my run and wanted to keep going, but I knew Dana and Deanna were probably up and ready for some breakfast.

Upon arriving back to camp Dana and Deanna said they had just finished packing up and wanted to head to the Merc for some breakfast. Luckily they weren't waiting long for me. Ah the Merc, and our new friends! Ordering our breakfast at the Merc Deanna fell more in love with Jamestown. The Merc was all about gluten free and dairy free cooking. We all had massive "make you fall asleep" meals with Dana shoving the most food down. Deanna loved their gluten free food so much that she bought a huge piece of gluten free chocolate cake that was about the size of a cow's face. Jamestown was great, what a shame to stumble onto this friendly mountain town a week before moving away from Boulder (this is where I should type in a sad face). We even mused what it would be like to live there, but the truth is that the winters would be way harsh and Jamestown doesn't even have a grocery store. Maybe just for the summer?

After breakfast we walked back to our campground and laid around a bit to let some food digest. Deanna and I went for a hike after a little digestion while Dana and Talah hit the road back to Boulder. Deanna and I ascended up the mountain and found a beautiful meadow. We were still feeling drowsy from the big breakfast so we laid down in the meadow and took a nap. We were awaken by a crow going nuts in a tree nearby letting out ugly crow sounds. We turned our heads  in the direction of the crow and saw a beautiful red fox about 10 feet away from us! Wow it was like a crow alarm system for fast approaching foxes!

Our Jamestown experience ended with the hike back to the car. Jamestown was one hip town! Next time we're in the area Jamestown is on the list. AND they have live music every Friday and Saturday night! Soo easy with free camping nearby!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Taking off for Camping at Lefthand Canyon

We were about to head off to camping yesterday when a massive thunderstorm rolled into Boulder and dumped hail and rain like crazy. I was in the car and on the phone with my mom for part of the storm and she could hear the hail hitting the car, it came down hard! The storm passed pretty quick in about an hour, and we were still in debate about going camping, but Deanna got a call to meet up for happy hour with her old roomy from college, Tab. They decided to head to Mountain Sun Brewery and that was the dagger in our plans! We ended up staying at Mountain Sun till about 9. Today we are definitely heading out for a night of camping, even though another thunderstorm is supposed to roll through from 6-8. We're thinking maybe we will cruise into the small town of Lyons for a couple hours when the thunderstorm is supposed to hit. I changed the background of my blog to rain because of all the rain we have gotten this past week, With this looming t-storm I guess we won't be starting a fire till after 8pm! Anyways here is what I was going to post yesterday:

Taking off for camping at Lefthand Canyon this afternoon. The weather report has gotten worse, going from a 30% chance of rain to a 50% chance and usually when it is 50% it definitely rains. As I mentioned in my previous post, if the weather causes us to be stuck in our tents our campsite is close enough to home that it will be easy to bail. AND now I have two "no" votes saying camping won't be happening. O YOU GUYS! I wish I could see who these hooligans are voting against my fancy camping weekend! The poll gadget I have up does not tell me who voted, but I hope eventually you two will be reprimanded! The weather isn't bad now so we are definitely driving out tonight, but tomorrow will be the real test to see if camping through the weekend actually happens.

I wanted to share some pics I came across from the PCT email forum. These are of some dude that did the John Muir Trail recently, he posted his pics on May 10th, so he was probably out on the JMT starting in late April. He did the JMT by both hiking and skiing. Notice how he cached food for himself to keep his pack weight down, plus resupplying at this time of year is difficult because nothing is open yet like Red's Meadow or Vermillion Valley Resort. Caching was very smart with already having to carry all that heavy winter gear. This guy has some solid winter back country skills, I had a rough time getting through the JMT at the start of June in 2009. He also rocked some awesome sun glasses! Check out his photos:

Lastly I wanted to mention Deanna's awesome dinner last night followed up by chocolate pecan teff cookies for desert! This dinner was great and didn't go bad despite my massive tardiness from my run. I went and did an interval workout up at 7,000ft at the top of Linden Road with the Boulder Trail Runners. This workout was absolutely hard! The group included two local women phenoms: Maria Petzold and Kim Dobson. The workout was run by Scott Elliott, he drove his car around yelling out encouragement and splits. It's so cool to run with a group like this for FREE. Yeap, being a member of the Boulder Trail Runners is FREE! Each interval was on a massive incline and the whole time I felt like speed wasn't an issue because it was impossible to even generate any speed. It was more about just running to the top at a credible clip. We did 6x800m uphill intervals with an 800m rest. After the first two I was feeling brilliant, then starting on the 3rd my legs started feeling bundy and by the 6th it was a massive grind with soreness already killing my legs to the extreme. I have never felt that sore DURING a workout, usually the soreness settles in the next day, and I consider myself to be in solid shape right now. At the end of each one I felt like I had nothing left to even finish strong. I even got a bit dizzy while running the 6th interval HARDCORE! When I got home super late from my workout I expected Deanna to have given up on me and a cold dinner to be waiting, but instead she kept the food warm and waited patiently, and a bit nervously. After such a hard workout I was beyond grateful that she did this and then surprise there was desert too!! WOOHOO!!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Going Camping in Lefthand Canyon

We debated between doing dispersed camping in Lefthand Canyon, which is free, or camp at a regulated campground called Camp Dick. Camp Dick is up around 8,600ft, while most the dispersed camping in Lefthand is around 6,000ft. With the way the weather has been it was decided on Lefthand. It has been constant rain the last two days with a slight chance of rain tomorrow, so up at 8,600 ft I'm sure some snow is falling! Some info on dispersed camping in Lefthand Canyon can be found here. The weather is supposed to be a lot better than last weekend with a low of 42 and a high on Saturday of 63. BUT I gotta say I don't trust the weather report completely. The weather has been super unpredictable this past week. Lefthand Canyon is only 20 mins away so if the weather gets bad and causes us to be stuck in our tents we can always bail. My other worry is the mud. With dispersed camping dirt roads are always involved. Neither D nor I have a 4wd vehicle, although I do have a putzy little pickup truck, which will be used for this weekend's reconnaissance. Hopefully the roads dry up tomorrow and no rain hits over the weekend while were camping so that my truck doesn't get stuck in some mud!

I do want to give a shout out to whoever voted "no" on my poll if camping will happen. I have no way of seeing who voted which sucks, but it definitely gave me a good laugh, whoever you are I like you style!

On top of all the rain we have been getting I went through my first tornado warning yesterday. Right above the city I work in, Broomfield, a swirling thunderhead formed. My school was shut down for about 20 mins, as the swirling thunderhead passed by. Being in a two story building the administration had everyone down on the bottom level and all were told to get under a desk if a tornado cut loose. Luckily it never did form a spout, but it definitely made for an exciting day for me with it being my first ever tornado warning!

Hasta pasta! Camping manana!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

HOW TO TRAIN FOR YOUR FIRST MARATHON (or your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or how many ever)

I have now run three marathons and my times have dropped considerably with each marathon: 4:00, 3:09, 2:43. By no means am I some expert on marathons, but I do have some beef with the conventional wisdom that goes into marathon training. My third marathon I found a training formula that works great. This post is for the runners that are looking to run a great marathon time, not just finish it. There is a huge mix up of how to train for a great marathon time. This mix up happens from running magazines posting articles that give marathon training programs. My marathon training plan supposedly goes against conventional wisdom from what I see posted in running magazines, but I am positive they are WRONG.  Training is all theory, and yes everyone's bodies are different, but my general plan works for all runners looking to run a great marathon time AND be able to celebrate after, not just finish and then be disabled for the next week. It is no fun finishing a race and not being able to walk around to even celebrate. How about finishing and being able to walk all around town and enjoy your massive accomplishment instead of being relegated to the couch? In this post I break up my training plan into four parts: weekly miles, the long run, hard days, and recovery days.

In a lot of magazine articles on marathon training programs I see a "less is more" training approach. "Less is more" never works! Running 26.2 miles is a rough deal, you should prepare your body aptly, not under prepare. First off lets start with overall mileage. A marathon is a lot of miles, therefore your body needs to get used to that stress. Averaging at least 10 miles a day is the first key. This means running AT LEAST 70 miles a week. If you can do more, that is even better, less is not more! The time constraint on this is difficult of course, but remember you did sign yourself up for the marathon in the first place. If time allows I highly recommend building up to 90, 100, or even some weeks at 120 miles. I know this means running everyday, which doesn't happen every single week, you get sick or you have an ache that you don't want to run on. I recommend not scheduling off days but letting them happen. If you get sick, then obviously you can't run. When I mean sick I mean ailments that are below your neck. If you have a head cold you can keep training, but if your lungs are involved don't run. Having an ache that needs some rest is another reason to take a day or two off, or even three. Overall I try to train everyday, but if something comes up, I always try to at least to run 4 times (40 miles) for that week. Sometimes if I have a really bad ache I will take 3 days off one week, hopefully Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and then continue my days off into the next week to get a good amount of rest. Obviously you can never predict when your body will need a day off. Point being MORE IS BETTER. Don't fall for that "less is better" junk. More miles run will mean better success. Also remember that nothing prepares you better for a marathon than the act of running itself, cross training is great, but should never be substituted for a run.

Now the long run. If you talk to a marathoner most will say never run the full length of a marathon in training, most marathoners won't recommend doing more than 22 or 23 miles for a single long run in training. I TOTALLY DISAGREE with this! Think about if you're training for a 5k, you run more miles than 3.1 miles in training. Same for a 10k, 10 miler, and half marathon. The human body is great at adapting, but in order to adapt, the stress has to be applied. I think it is critical to do a few 30 mile training runs when training for a marathon. The physiological, plus the psychological, effects of doing some 30 mile training runs is massive in order to do well in the marathon. People act as if past 26 miles your body will shut down for weeks on end. This is definitely not true. And just think about if your body is used to 30 mile long runs, then rocking a marathon will be no problem! The long run is the most important part of training for a marathon. Once you build up your endurance, focus on hitting the latter miles of the run the fastest and possibly the last mile the fastest of all for your long run. For my 2nd marathon I was great with doing hard days, but the volume of my mileage on long runs and on a weekly basis was low. For my 3rd marathon I did lots of volume on long runs and lots of miles on weekly basis, I still did hard days of course, but didn't do them with the same intensity or as frequently as my 2nd marathon and my 3rd marathon went brilliantly. I'm not saying don't do hard days, just pointing out that the endurance factor is more important.

The third part of my post is about hard days. Hard days are important too, just not quite as important as long runs. I try to do two hard days per a week, usually one tempo, and one interval type workout. I also try to throw in some strides once or twice a week on recovery days. Motivation for hard days is the hardest for me, but at the end of a hard workout I am always happy that I did it, plus I usually get a great endorphin high from hard days. In a lot of training plans I see that hard days are supposed to be done at marathon goal pace. I disagree with this. I say do hard days as hard as you can handle, and definitely faster than marathon goal pace. In my track workouts leading up to my last marathon I was pacing about 45 seconds faster per mile than the pace I ran my last marathon at. Why not get your body used to running faster miles? That way your marathon pace on race day will seem that much easier and supplemented with the endurance from 30 mile long runs you'll be rocking! If motivation for your hard days is hurting try getting away from the track. Track workouts cause too much microscopic analysis to occur. Maybe try going to a park and setting up interval laps and then do the intervals without ever looking at your watch, just go off of intuition. Start your watch at the start of your workout, starting with your warm up, keep going into the intervals, and finally with a cool down and then finally look at your watch when you press stop at the last step of the workout to see how long you ran for the ENTIRE workout. Track workouts are so motivationally tough because it is so easy to analyze every lap. Another tip is to constantly change up your hard days so that you don't have much to compare to. Run in different locations, or do a totally different workout in the same spot. For example, last week you did one lap around the park hard, then rested with a short jog, well then next week try doing 2 laps hard with some rest between intervals. Constantly changing your workouts up is the best thing you can do to get in better shape. The body will continually try to adapt to different circumstances, and by constantly tricking your body you will get into that much better of shape. If you do the same workout over and over your body will adapt and the benefits will hit a limit.

Lastly recovery days. My pace on recovery days is usually all over the place depending on what my legs allow me to do. If they are feeling bundy then I take it easy and don't do any strides. But if my legs are feeling great then I push the pace and definitely do some strides at the end of my run. My strides are usually done at the local park and I try to sprint as hard as I can for about 200 meters, then jog back to where I started without ever walking or resting. I never count my strides, I usually do as many as time allows, which I'm guessing is anywhere from 4-10 strides. Recovery days are obviously for recovery, but if the legs allow for it then recovery days shouldn't be done at an awful slow pace, recovery days for the most part can be done right around the point where you can't talk anymore while running (as I mentioned unless your legs won't allow it). If I'm feeling good on a recovery day I push the pace and enjoy the good feeling!

By no means am I a marathon expert, I have only run 3 marathons, but typical marathon training just doesn't make sense to me. To get your body properly ready, your long runs should be longer than 26.2 miles and your hard days should be done at a faster pace than what your marathon goal pace is. Recovery days doesn't mean to run super slow, you can still recover while maintaining a decent pace. Taking days off each week isn't needed unless your body is telling you something. Listening to your body can be the hardest of all, but it will pay massive dividends! My last bit of advice that I live by with my workouts, also which keeps me motivated to keep running is BE INCONSISTENT. The only consistency I have in my workouts is to be inconsistent, that is a mantra I live by with running: my only consistency is INCONSISTENCY! If you do the same routine over and over YOU WILL get sick of it. Do hard days on different days each week. Change up the location of your hard days and long runs. Try doing two long runs on back to back days. Never get yourself into a routine. Keep your body guessing, and thus adapting!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Merrell Trail Glove Review

I've long been a fan of minimal running shoes. The last two years I have trained in shoes that were neutral and very light, the lighter the shoe the better! I typically won't buy a shoe that is heavier than 9oz, but would rather keep it below 8oz. I feel that the heavier the shoe the more it causes your legs to unnaturally swing like pendulums and possibly causing injury.

Before buying the Merrell Trail Gloves I trained solely in the Nike Free 3.0v2's for 3 months putting on loads of miles (around 700 miles), my review of those is here. When the Nike Free3.0v2's finally gave out on me with seams ripped to shreds I went with the Trail Gloves. I had debated between the Trail Gloves and the New Balance Trail Minimus, but ultimately decided on the Trail Gloves because they have zero heel to toe drop, while the Trail Minimus has a very small heel to toe drop. Human feet naturally have a zero heel to toe drop and I'm down for a natural feel. The Trail Gloves seemed to offer the most natural ride out there.

Ah the Trail Gloves. I got these shoes right in the middle of my Boston Marathon training, and in fact I used these to train through some of my hardest training for Boston. I put two consecutive 120 mile weeks in on these shoes and by the end of the 2nd week I could barely run, especially after doing a couple 4 hour runs. My body really needed to adapt to these shoes, which has never been the case with any other running shoes to this extent, granted all running shoes take a little getting used to. My legs felt completely disabled, it was amazingly horrible. I guess the Nike Free3.0v2's did nothing to prepare my legs for these bad boys! They were nothing like the Nike Free3.0v2's and made my calves and the tendons of my feet super sore. No biggy though I'm always down for my body to adapt, especially if it was for a more natural running shoe and thus ensuring I am running with a more natural stride and hopefully preventing injury. The current theory on running shoes is that the huge heel on running shoes unnaturally makes runners heel strikers, when naturally humans should be landing on the outside middle part of our feet and rolling onto the ball of our feet. This rolling helps distribute the pounding and preventing injury. With heel striking all the pounding gets concentrated right into the heel and causing problems like stress fractures and shin splints.

The main problem I was having with the Trail Gloves was downhills. Before moving to Boulder I used to always take downhills slow in training because I figured downhills cause a lot more stress with more pounding and I didn't want to cause injury. Living in Boulder I saw how other runners blasted downhills relentlessly. The crazy downhill speed with the technicality of dodging rocks and boulders seemed like a lot of run to me so I started doing it in my training. I have definitely become way more fond of downhills and enjoy the rush I get from bombing down hill. The problem with the Trail Gloves is that they have zero meat on the bottom of the shoe, all there is between your foot and the ground is a thin piece of Vibram Rubber. I figured that my feet just had to get used to this and build up some calluses.

After wearing the Trail Gloves for 3 weeks it was time for a half marathon. I was still feeling super sore from the Trail Gloves and decided to take the day off before the race, which if I have the time to run I always go running unless I'm hurting, even the day before a race. I was entered in the Boulder Spring Half Marathon and I wanted to run sub-1:23 to automatically qualify for the New York City Marathon. I ended up killing the 1:23 time and ran 1:18:37 with ease and finishing 9th overall.

The Trail Gloves were my kicks for the race. Unfortunately, during the race I developed some harsh feelings towards the Trail Gloves. The race is an "out and back" race all on dirt roads. On the way out it is mainly a gradual uphill and on the way back gradual downhill. The downhill killed my feet! This was a dirt road, not crazy sharp jutting rocks like what is found on most Boulder trails. I wanted to bomb the downhill and cruise away, but instead I felt like I was prancing around every little pebble on the ground. The small pebbles actually are what I felt the most through the bottoms of the shoes.  At the finish line I ripped the shoes off and could barely walk around, my feet were bruised like crazy MO-FO's! This was definitely no bueno for my running style. Right then and there I decided, since I kicked butt in my race, I was heading to the running shoe store pronto (after hitting the free beer stand for all runners) to buy a pair of shoes with more meat on the bottom allowing me to bomb the downhills like I now love to do and settled on getting the New Balance MT-101's.

The Trail Gloves are now my "everyday" shoes. I wear them for casual use and work shoes. I enjoy walking around in them and being able to feel the ground through the thin piece of rubber underneath my feet. The Trail Gloves are a great concept for natural running, but if you want to run like a psycho killer down rocky hills then they aren't for you. If you prefer to take the downhills easy and prance around little pebbles and rocks then party on! Wearing the Trail Gloves as my casual shoes fits my needs, and at least aesthetically they have a better appearance than the Vibram Five Fingers, because pretty much they are just about the same concept except the toe separations. I definitely feel like the Trail Gloves work the muscles in my feet, which I think is important for running. Humans have lots of muscle in their feet that can atrophy with all the sitting around we do. The muscles in our feet can also atrophy from modern shoes, with their loads of cushioning, not allowing feet to naturally workout while walking and running. It was amazing how my foot grew a size and a half on the Pacific Crest Trail, which is a very common occurrence for hikers on the PCT.

The Trail Gloves are expensive shoes for casual shoes (and obviously from my previous post I'm not a fan of expensive running shoes), but I felt guilty returning them after 3 weeks of use and never wearing socks with them once. I'm 100% positive I could have returned them since I got them at REI and REI lets people return anything in any condition, but my conscience got the better of me. This brings me back to my post from yesterday: UGH you running shoes are so expensive!

Conclusion: The Trail Gloves are casual shoes I plan on wearing for a long time. Durability seems to be a non factor. The Vibram rubber on the bottoms looks brand spanking new and I have had the Trail Gloves for two and half months now. As for casual shoes the only minor issue is they get stinky! I have to keep them outside of my bedroom, otherwise the bedroom smells like a locker room. This could be from the fact that I didn't wear socks with them when I used them to train in. For my casual use, yes I do wear socks with them! Here are some pics I just took of my Trail Gloves:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Why are Running Shoes so Expensive???#$@#$^^%

UGH I can't understand why running shoes are soo expensive. Most shoes run (get it? Pun on RUN! and now a rhyme drop!) around $100, which is absolutely insane! The last pair of running shoes I bought, New Balance MT-101s, cost $75 and I felt like that was a relief on my finances, but in reality I don't even think running shoes should cost $75. Running is the most simple and natural sport yet these running shoe companies blast the price of running shoes because they swear they did some crazy lab technology junk to make the shoes the best ever, and of course this happens about every 6 months. Notice how Nike constantly is coming out with new models. This is a great business plan because it keeps the consumer buying the new models, while the old models become "classics" to be released 5 years later and then again the consumer buys the classics. It's like the never ending evolving IPOD, they got us roped in! Yet Nike continues to boast each new shoe as the best ever with all kinds of lab technology put into them. My opinion is that running is simple, therefore the shoe should be too. A shoe should be light and offer protection from rocks and other debris on the ground and that's it. All the extra cushioning, support, and stabilization that go into modern running shoes just create an unnatural stride in my opinion.

My other issue with running shoes is how bad they are for the environment with all their rubber and crazy glues. I HATE when I open the box to a new pair of running shoes and take in a huge whiff of some nasty synthetic rubber smell!

All this combined with how fast I go through running shoes really irks me. Maybe running shoes should be completely biodegradable, made of such materials as hemp, bamboo, and cork. OR even kombucha. I know of kombucha as a tea brewed from a live bacteria culture. The stuff looks pretty nasty, kind of like drinking tea with snot in it, and the taste is a bit weird to some people. The "snot" seen in kombucha is live cultures of bacteria floating around ready to be ingested. For me I enjoy kombucha. Supposedly it has some great healing effects, check out the health claims (on wikipedia) by clicking on the kombucha link above. Kombucha is super easy to make too, as long as you have a mother culture. My friends Andrew and Rachel make their own kombucha, known as "Boochie". It's amazing how easy boochie tea is to make, yet it sells for around $3 a bottle in stores for 16 oz. I guess because it has to be in a refrigerator during the entire shipping process, but don't get me started on how I think boochie is wayyy over priced too. UGH RUNNING SHOES AND BOOCHIE!

Anyways another great use for kombucha is it can be dried out to make a leather-like substance. Check out this video on making kombucha clothes. I guess there are people out there working on ways for people to "grow" their own clothes:

Now back to running shoes. I'm thinking it would be way cool to make shoes that are 100% biodegradable, made of bamboo, cork, hemp, and boochie or any other natural substance that is durable. This is definitely a project I want to pursue after moving back to San Diego. Once I master a good shoe model and learn many lessons and make lots of cruddy shoes, hopefully I can come up with a 100% biodegradable running shoes that don't cost $100. Durability will definitely be a huge factor, but it will be fun exploring different ways of making a durable biodegradable running shoe. And even trying to "grow" my own shoes like in the video. If you have any suggestions for materials that might work let me know, especially some sort of natural adhesive, I'm thinking honey or dried out oatmeal hah!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Camping at Vedauwoo, Wyoming

Went camping this weekend at Vedauwoo (pronounced Vee-da-voo). Vedauwoo is only about a 2 hour drive away so we went for it. Vedauwoo is known for being a climbing spot, there are huge boulders everywhere to climb on. Going camping was a bit of a risk with the weather looking to be scummy, but we went for it anyways. The group for the weekend was Deanna, Austin, and myself. Luckily Austin was able to borrow his dad's Toyota 4Runner for the weekend, that way we had a car that could handle some off-road and has a high clearance. We knew we needed a vehicle like that because the main campground was still closed for winter, but there are dispersed camp spots off of some dirt roads in the area, and if the weather gets bad turning the dirt roads to mud we had the right car!

Driving out to Vedauwoo was interesting since this was the first time I have driven to WY from CO. I have been to WY before, but not since I was a little kid and no where near where we would be camping. Driving out we mostly were in rolling prairie that seemed to go on forever. The prairie looked awesome because there were huge patches of snow riddled all around the prairie making it look like a huge golf course with massive sand bunkers.
The prairie of Wyoming. Doesn't the snow look like huge sand bunkers from a golf course? Is this what you picture mountains to look like? This is around 8,000ft.

The prairie seemed to continue indefinitely and then suddenly a forest appeared and some huge rocks, giving us the signal that we were just about there. It was very odd how the forest just started, it was as if someone drew a line and said "LET THERE BE FOREST". Vedauwoo is at 8,200 ft which seems absolutely deceptive to me. It's crazy that there are these massive prairies at 8,200 ft. It didn't even seem like we were in the mountains one bit, instead it was more like we should be at sea-level, except the fact that it was a little bit tougher to breath than what we are used to. 

With Vedauwoo being close to Boulder we were able to get there with ample amount of daylight and drive around a bit until we found a camp spot that fit our needs. We found a spot that already had a fire ring, some huge rocks for bouldering on, and plenty of structures to block the wind. The southern part of WY is known to be super windy!

Upon arrival we quickly set our tents up while Deanna fired up the grill. The menu for the night was grilled Mediterranean flat bread pizzas! With a fire blazing, great food, and some drinks we chatted into the night. Well actually I fell asleep next to the fire while Austin and Deanna hung out. I was a sleepy mess all weekend, falling asleep everywhere, usually I do just fine with low amounts of sleep, but I think my body is still in recovery mode from Zion since I never really let myself rest.

The bad weather was supposed to hit on Saturday night. Cold temps came in during the night, mid-20s, and settled into camp with us. Somehow I slept warm, was practically too warm, but definitely felt the chill as I crawled out of my tent on Saturday morning. 

Great spot except the spray paint

Austin climbing the rock above our camp

Austin's camp setup

Austin again on those rocks above our camp

Austin and Deanna goofing around in camp


Eating breakfast we decided we would pack up camp and drive around the area to find some rocks to climb and settle down in a different location after we expel our energy on a climbing fiasco. As we were driving around and exploring we were able to monitor the temp with the outside temp reading from the car. The temperature wasn't too thrilling, it seemed to hover around 32 and there was also a cold wind slicing through the area.

After driving around we found a massive rock outcropping that appeared to rise higher than anything in the vicinity and we all knew that we had to get to the top of it.
Deanna hiking up to where we were going to climb

Deanna taking in the beast that we would be climbing

A warm up climb! Actually D and I had a competition to see who could climb up this first, and I lost. Once again Deanna kicked my butt at climbing!

Austin leading the way to the start of the climb

Austin taking a pic mid-climb

This part proved to be a bit nerve-racking: Deanna got herself into a position where she couldn't really go up or down, and neither Austin nor I were close enough help out.

Deanna debating what to do. Up and over the rock is a huge drop off, so she must slide down somehow.

Is Denna sliding down the rock or hugging it?

Don't slide off the bottom of the rock!

Austin climbing up

Almost at the top. Time for a snack break!

Deanna near the top of the WORLD

Climbing up turned out to be a lot harder than climbing down. We were all convinced climbing down was going to take wayyy longer. Also we had a new foe: the weather. As we were heading up the pile of rocks it had started to snow and the weather report called for T-storms. Knowing that T-storms were a possibility we didn't stay long at the top being completely exposed. We were also worried about the snow making the granite wet and thus slippery and very sketchy for the descent. Luckily the snow didn't pick up much nor did a T-storm come through yet. Back to the car we drove around and checked out the area some more.

A giant must have placed that rock up there!

While driving around we were also looking for a new campsite. We got out several times to walk an area to see if it would be a good spot. Nothing seemed better than where we camped the night before, so we headed back to the the spot of the previous night's sleep. Getting out of the car we all found the wind to be picking up more and the temp to be dropping more. An executive decision needed to be made: should we stay or should go? I can be very stubborn in this situation since we were already there, and thus didn't give much of an input on the decision making process. But the reality of the situation was that we would most likely be stuck in our tents all night and not really be able to hang out, so we decided to drive back to Austin's house, which has great hiking trails that we could hit on Sunday.

Driving up to Austin's house it started to snow big time justifying our decision. Austin lives at about 7,800 ft, so camping at 8,200 ft would have definitely meant hunkering down for the night. At Austin's house we had a great cookout and then watched a movie. Of course I continued being narcoleptic and slept right through the movie. This is after sleeping in super late that morning and sleeping during the whole drive home.

On Sunday we woke up after sleeping in big time again and did some hiking.

A deer taking a look at me through the fog

A family of 7 deer saying hello by perking their ears up.

Next weekend it's camping time again! Haven't decided on a spot, but probably something in the area within a 2 hour radius. The only worry is that the weather is supposed to be dicey again ugh! I know the area needs some moisture for fire prevention but come on weather it's mid-May!

Highlight of the weekend: seeing my first moose and her calf! Is it called a calf? How about a moose and her baby. First time I have ever seen a moose, now I have seen two!