July Went OK

You know when you have all those super high hopes for just throwing down on a mega training block?  You write it down, you visualize it, you prioritize it and you get after it!  Then... something happens and you are thrown off your game and it never fully materializes.  That is what my July was. 

I cant really complain as I did hit some milestones last month.

  1. Most vertical gain in a single week (maybe ever not including races)
  2. Longest time on feet in a week
  3. Tied for the most cumulative training hours in a month

I was just hoping for more.  Unfortunately I hit a snag.  More specifically my right ankle hit a snag back in early June and I reinjured it again in late June.  The first time was a rough one.  I was running down a fairly technical downhill on Kings Mountain and landed on a rock and the full weight of my body came down on it.  I think it popped but there was enough other noise going on with footsteps and my yelling that I cannot be 100% sure.  I nursed it back and was regaining confidence when I did it again on a social run.  I was taking it super easy on the very smooth Wildwood trail when I took a step down and it just felt like it was not there to support me and boom I rolled it again.

The second time seemed to be a little worse as I could feel it pull across the top of my foot and down into my heel area.  I even ended up with a little bruising running horizontally on the outside of my foot  just below the front of my ankle to near my Achilles tendon.  I took some time off to let things heal up again.  I even stayed off the trail for a few weeks and stuck to the roads where I could keep thing level to avoid too much wiggling around for this unstable situation.  The positive of all of this was I was spending a little more time on the roads and was able to concentrate in on some speed work which was probably needed anyway.

 July came and I knew that I was going to be walking the line with this thing.  I wanted to just go out and test it to see what it would do to see if it would hold up.  However I was performing my boy Tommy's wedding on top on Half Dome on July 22nd and could not risk being in a situation when I could not make that hike.  The good news is that the wedding in Yosemite was amazing.  We ran several times in the days before the wedding and hiked the entire Half Dome hike.  I came home and hit some more trail and climbing and ended up with a 7 day total of 77 miles and 16,000 feet of vert.  A positive week for sure.

My confidence is a little low in that ankle stability still.  I hate that.  I usually attack downhills and for now I can't quite get my head around just letting go.  I'll get there.  It is just going to take some time.  My base is good.  Speed is coming around.  Climbing is at an all time high at this point in the year.  I just have not put it all together in a training block that sends my confidence though the roof.  Good thing I have a race coming up to help me figure it out. 

Below are some pictures from my travels and training in July.

Training update and the Columbia River Gorge is Bad Ass

I've done my best to not get in a rut and keep doing the same routes over and over.  There are just so many places to go run and train that is almost overwhelming, but I have not seen everything yet so I just want to keep exploring.  I am almost in a constant state of research trying to determine how far I need to drive then run to get up to point XYZ and how many miles I'll get along the way.  I've been making new friends and following their social media posts and creating a bucket list along the way so when Jason Leman reached out to me asking if I wanted to do a "Trans Gorge" adventure run I only took a short amount of time to answer "YES!"

My initial thoughts were that we were going to "just" follow the Mark O Hatfield Trail which runs 60 miles East to West (or West to East) though the Columbia River Gorge.  However, after a planning session over a few drinks I found out Jason's plan was to also hit the high points along the way.  Perfect! This would let me start checking off the bucket list I had mentally created.  This would make the route considerably harder but I don't have any races planned until Waldo 100k in August so I have plenty of time to recover plus... I should get some good views so why not?


Jason, Jordan, and myself decided an early start was in order so we planned our meeting points and where we would drop cars.  Jordan had been fighting some injuries and had never gone this far before so we had a bail out point right around the 30 mile mark.  I parked at the end point at Multnomah Lodge, Jordan at Eagle Creek, and Jason took us to the starting point at Starvation Creek. 

I'll let the 2 videos below tell the story of what we saw on the trail and how awesome an adventure it was, but was it great! These guys are super solid and just great guys to hang with.  In the end, we cut the trip short of the 60 mile mark as getting off of the main route to summit these high points took a little more time than expected.  With Jordan being going well over his longest run as well as time on feet, Jason having a big trip to Europe coming up, and me not wanting to be too banged up to keep my training volume up we decided as a group to cut it short after we summited our  Tanner Butte.  All in all it was a 48 miles push with 12,500 feet of climb in just under 15 hours.  We saw some of the best the Gorge had to offer and had a great time doing it.  Six of the high points of the Gorge can now get the check mark by them.  I can't wait to go out and hit them again, they are just too good to not see again.

Weekly totals

62.1 miles 13,665 feet/gain 

Get on the training train

It has been a rough spring at Case De Liles.  We are still setteling in to our new Portland stomping grounds. The different flowers and pollen have really wreaked havok on allergies I didn't deal with much  before.  Lastly, my daughter seems to be bringing home colds and flus at a high rate that luckily I have mostly held off but still fell some of the effects from.

 My running has been OK. I've been consistent but the volume has not been there and the long runs have been hit and miss.  However, I finally feel right after stringing together several good weeks in a row.  We are over the hump on back on track as a household which gets me right for my hobby.  I'm sitting in that 50 miles a week range that is my "comfort mileage" zone. I can do a lot in this range as long as I keep it steady.  It is a great base number that allows me some piece of mind that I can start packing on more and handle to load. Which is what is happening now. 

I've bumped up to 60 miles and over 10k of climb the last 2 weeks. My body is responding well. I pushed a hard climb about 16 miles into a 20 miler on Saturday and could feel my fitness and muscle memory waking up.  It also doesn't hurt to have my good budy and old training partner Jason as a Portlander now as well.  Misery loves company.  Might as well "suffer" together.

The only chink in this armor is I had a small mass removed from my back this morning that is going to set me back a few days while the wound heals up. The doctor said is was just a fatty tumor which was a relief, but I have to let the location where they cut it out heal up a bit before I can get going hard again.  They said 5 days which means I should be back in business by the weekend, so I'll hit a few back to backs this weekend to keep the volume up.

photo by Jordan Carey

photo by Jordan Carey

Training Update 2/23 - 3/1

My training is absolutely heading in the right direction.  The trend line is starting to flatten out versus some of the mileage peaks and valleys that have been present since the relocation.  I landed over 60 miles and 10K of climb for the second consecutive week and my 4 week average is in the mid 50's with over 9k of climb.  I'm not one to usually look back and compare but given the circumstances this year combined with the new surroundings, I thought it would be interesting to see how my past 2 February's stacked up. For Feb 2015 total hours training are down by 2 and there is a delta in miles of -29. My climb has gone up by a factor of 1.8x or +17,581 feet (an extra 3.3 miles up).  A lot of factors are in play when comparing the two years. First for 2014 Feb in IL/MO was brutal.  Super cold temps and lots of snow on the ground.  I spent a lot of my mid week miles on the treadmill.  Meaning I could travel farther without environmental factors (cold, snow, wind, hills) at a higher pace.  This accounts somewhat for the bigger mileage last year but does not tell it all.  On the other end of the spectrum in 2015 we have had ideal weather here in Portland so getting out was never an issue and I have yet to step foot on a treadmill since moving.  However it is super hilly compared to my old stomping grounds.  For comparison my standard 7 mile route from my house in IL netted me 167 feet of climb.  From my Portland house the climb is 850 feet over 7 miles.  The best I could do in IL without traveling somewhere by car was an 8 mile route with 450 ft/climb.  Interestingly, my weekend trail runs are fairly close in terms of climb.  The difference is my old weekend runs were 15 short climbs adding up to roughly 4k of vertical whereas here that same climb can be achieved in 2-3 climbs.

What does it all mean?  Simply, I'm climbing more here during the week.  Steady climbs of 2+ miles was unheard of in IL, here I can do that right out my front door.  My in week runs that used to be flat and faster are now hillier and slower.  I am adjusting to them though as last week's 7 mile staple runs was some of the fastest I have done since being here without feeling like my effort was any higher.

Feb's Compared
Year Hours Miles Climb
2014 37 224 21,265
2015 35 195 38,846


Monday - rest

Tuesday - upped the pace a little on my hilly road route - 7.1

Wednesday - hill repeats 400 ft x 5  - 7.4

Thursday - quick spin - 5

Friday - hilly road route clockwise 7.1

Saturday - Wildwood Trail and some power hiking 12.9

Sunday - Wilson River Trail 21.6

Total 61.1 miles 10,942 ft/climb




A Down Week and Taum Sauk Mountain

After a 6 week stretch of averaging about 65 miles, I decided to pump the breaks a bit this week and take it easy on miles. I still had 7 hours across 2 runs but I was able to get some extra sleep, recover a bit from a cold, and navigate a fair amount of traveling with work. The big run was a 6 hour 26 mile rocky scramble down in the Taum Sauk Mountain State Park. Taum Sauk is the highest point in Missouri. Clocking in at a breath taking 1776 feet above sea-level. While this is not a huge mountain by any stretch, the trail to get up the thing is no picnic. There are tons of rocks and rough footing along the way with very few easily runnable sections. Perfect for working on turnover and making that proprioception work overtime. The weather was great and the views were fantastic. A really rugged and scenic area that is totally worth visiting. Just make sure you have some plans on water. We all ran out.

Moab Retreat and Training Update

Ah the new year is only just a month in and I’ve already had a great adventure! I had the privilege of heading west to Moab, Utah for a long weekend of running and talking about trail/ultrarunning. What could be better?! I can say with a fair amount of confidence that to this point, Moab might be one of the most unique place I have visited in terms of terrain. It has big mountains, the plateaus and arches normally associated with Utah, and even sand dunes transformed into stone. All of these areas are within miles of each other. It seems mostly when I visit an area you have mountains, plains, deserts, etc. and to though some of these places may exists close by each other it tends to take some travel time to move from one experience to the other. Not Moab, jump in the car and you can be in all of these varied areas in just minutes. It is really hard to put into words how amazing of a time I had seeing this area on foot with friends. Slot canyons, petrified trees, petroglyphs, slickrock, snow, ice, sunshine, scrambling… so many amazing sights and things to do! I captured a some video and pictures that I hope tells a bit more of the story.  Some photos are from my buddy Travis Trampe (we are the Travi). [youtube]

Training wise, things are starting to trend up. After being knocked down by the flu for the first week of Jan, I came back fairly strong and have averaged over 60 miles a week for the last 4. I'll move this up a bit more in Feb, but this weather that has hit the central part of the US sure has not made it easy. We have had lots of snow and lots of really cold days. Doing my best to enjoy the treadmill and make the most of my time outside. Luckily the really bad stuff seems to have missed the weekends and I've been consistently hitting the 25-29 mile long runs every Sat or Sun. These runs may have been muddy or snow packed but it all will pay off when the good weather hits. Potawatomi 100 in on the schedule and I'm going to go in fit and trying to hit it hard. Game on.