Saturday, June 16, 2012

6 days to go

Jan-Nov 2011
I now had almost 3 months of solid pain free running under my belt. I had a coach to get me through the training, and a local running group to lean on when running times were tough. I formulated my racing schedule with the help of my coach and January 1st I set it all into action.

The schedule was simple on paper.
American River 50 mile in April
Rock N River Marathon (Reno) in May

Simple to write but considering, as of that date, the farthest I had ever run was 32 miles and that was nearly a year earlier in March of 2010. This was going to be a big task. My first trail race (13 miles) was just a year and a half earlier.
I also had the weight issue, though I was not as concerned with that. I’m not much of a foodie, if given the option, I would take a pill for all of my nutrition needs. There are very few things I crave food wise. Although as I would learn, with the uptick in miles per week, I would start to enjoy food a bit more. I put myself on a somewhat strict diet of about 2200 calories a day. I figured, that, coupled with attempting to run 7 days a week I should be down around 200lbs by the time I hit my 100 mile race. I was starting at 221 and was shooting for about 3-4 pounds a month or 1 pound a week. Again, sometimes naivety is a blissful thing. Lets put it this way, 2200 calories and 50-70 miles a week running just does not jive. I lost weight in a hurry and with it, my long runs started to suffer greatly. By the time March hit, I was already down to 190 and eventually I would hit 182 before I had to go get even more help.

I went to visit Joe Dibble at Sierra Strength and Endurance. My training was going great but I could not run for more than 3 hours before I just died. Any run no matter the intensity just turned into a walk fest. He quickly diagnosed that I was just not eating enough. He put me on a 3300 calorie a day diet during the week and 4500-5500 a day diet on the weekends. Just a week before the Hilo Marathon I completely changed how I eat. It was a huge epiphany, and I actually started to look forward to food. I ended up leveling out about 195lbs which is where he thought I should be given the still substantial (for a runner) bit of muscle I had. To put it into context, as an 18 year old senior in high school I was 5’9” 202 pounds, and now at that point I was 33 and 195, kinda crazy.

The Hilo Marathon resulted in a PR time of 3:58. I ran an extra 6 miles (3 before and 3 after) because I was scheduled for 32 that day. I was heading into the meat of my season with no foot pain, no weight issues, things were going swell.

I had made a switch in shoe companies which I credit for the lack of foot pain. I switched from the traditional shoe types to oversized cushy clown shoes. Hoka One One, shoes are amazing and I can not imagine ever running in anything else. They will get an in depth review on this blog someday, but they are like taking a bit of heaven and wrapping it around your foot.

I arrived back on the mainland with tons of excitement. I was now almost 6 months into running with no setbacks or injuries. I was starting to think I was ready for my first 50 mile race. I got the schedule for the week prior to the race from my coach and once again he shocked me. No time off? What, I’m going to run my first 50 mile race and you want me doing a hard tempo run 3 days before…..this dude was NUTS. What about tapering? Do I not need to be rested for this huge output of effort?

The explanation I was given, taught me that everything I thought I knew about training from my other sports, was wrong in regard to this one. He asked me what my goal race was…obviously the 100 miles. He then told me why would you want to peak now in April for a race in July? I would not, but why race when I am so tired?

His reply is so obvious now but was so foreign then. “How do you think you are going to feel that second 50 of the 100?” Probably pretty tired, I said. Bingo! Lights went on, of course! I needed to feel what it would be like to go 50 miles on tired exhausted legs. No wonder this guy was such a badass, he was an animal.

I ran what is still to this date, the best race of my life at American River. I was in control all day, I moved steadily up the field and when I got to the point where coach told me to let it all lose I passed a gazillion people. I finished in 10 hours and 25ish minutes and ran from Sacramento to Auburn.
Only some 4 hours an change after coach finished, so close!

The best part about the day was getting to see a couple of friends from Reno Running and Fitness finish their first 50 mile race as well. We all triumphed that day. The running joke (excuse the pun) of the day was them telling me “congrats Brandon you ran just fast enough to run 100 more miles in July”.

A little tidbit I have so far left out, though I was signed up for the race in July of 100 miles I still had not qualified.  Not only did I qualify for the upcoming race, but, I was officially qualified to enter the lottery for Western States in 2011! I had to run this race under 11 hours to do that, and I beat it by nearly 40 minutes.

I ran the Reno Marathon (Rock n River) as a training run. I ran about 38 miles that day and ran as many people from Reno Running and Fitness into the finish as I could. I felt awesome and I was ready. However Silver State would turn out to be the toughest race of the year.
I started the Silver State 50 only minutes from my house, I knew this course like the back of my hand. The race is on Peavine Mountain. Silver State is considered a mountain 50, American River was not. I did not realize the true impact of all the extra climbing.
Lots O climbin!

Boy did I not know what I was getting into. Unlike American River I went out faster than I should have, blew up at mile 33 and basically had to walk it on in from there. It was a tough pill to swallow; maybe I was not ready to run 100 miles in the mountains after all.

A couple of great things happened at the race though, when I finished I saw the president of the Western States board. This was the same guy I saw give a lecture at the motivational clinic I went to. It turns out he was part of the Silver State Striders the same group who mans the Foresthill aid station at Western States. The Striders put on the 50 mile race I just got my ass kicked by. I quickly befriended him on Facebook. Now I also had an “in” with an influential and clearly experienced board member of Western States. Times were getting good.

I also got a pacer for my run in Tahoe a month or two later. My friend agreed to pace me. He had just run his first 50 mile race at Silver State and finished top 5. He is still to this day, not only one of the most kind and generous individuals I have ever been fortunate enough to meet, but he is also one beast of a runner…..all 12 pounds of him!

My running was doing great and I was just days from running my first 100 mile race. I intend to do a report on that as well. Lets just say the day had it’s challenges and from mile 67 to 93 I pretty much had to walk the entire time. I finished 44th out of 110 people in a time of 31 hours and 50 minutes.
Photo Courtesy of Scott Cozad one of my exceptional crew members.

Not once did I sleep, and I only sat down for about an hour or so. I finished a run in the mountains….I ran 100 miles and now I was ready to put my name into the lottery for Western States. 
Getting my first buckle from George and Dave! I can barely stand upright.

I had roughly 5 months to recover, then I’d need to be ready to hit the ground running!