Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Training Post Cranmore Hillclimb

After Cranmore, I have been focusing on running hills and lots of them.

I want to better get my body ready for the tough 50 milers I have this Fall. I am feeling stronger each day and with using Strava.com, I can gauge my mileage, the percent grades of steep roads I train on, and assess my paces as I run these tough efforts.  I have run really great runs with tons of great pictures too:

(Looking at Cortland From the top of Pendleton Road)

Lovely countryside

Lake Cayuga in Ithaca

Cortland, NY hills!

Cortland, NY countryside

On top of Tower Road 1,996ft

The top of Tower Road

Another big climb!

Training has been very consistent with my morning runs before work consisting of steep sustained 5% grades up to 10% on the hills around Cortland.  I have been running for about 80 minutes each day and anywhere from 10.5-14 miles.  I have been hydrating with my Scott Jurek Ultimate Direction Light Handheld and I have been using my fuel belts to carry my cell phone and gels/chomps.  Training while in a fatigued state helps the body adjust to what a runner can experience in an ultra.  Ultras are known for compounded fatigue and how you handle the situation is what puts you on top above the rest.  I have seen it from the best ultra runners this country has to offer and they have mastered nutrition for their bodies and learning how to run strong while truly exhausted.  There are not many secrets to running an ultra fast.

*Use the training as simulation for the races: If the training is hard, the race will be not as bad.

*Incorporate long sustained uphill and downhill training.  The more repetition of running consistently uphill will allow for the muscle sets associated with uphill running to be stressed more so than with a short sweet hill.  The scenario is the same with downhill efforts.

* Practice sampling nutrition in training efforts to decide what works best come race-day: Testing out gels and jelly beans, Kit Kat bars, or peanut butter, finding what works is also a beneficial aspect to have when it comes to race-day.

*Mix it up and have fun---Running is a continuous process where we challenge our bodies each and every day and running different paces, different terrains, uphill, downhill, flat, different nutrition, will all add that spice and variety to the running.

*Running should not be boring-run new routes, challenge yourself to specific routes for personal records. Example, I run a nice series of climbs on Pendleton Road up to Tower Road and the Radio tower at 1,995 feet which is one of the highest points in Cortland County. The views are spectacular and my current 32:53 record is a tough one that I did do in Hokas.  For the 5 mile out loop which gains 1,264 feet which means I can almost get about 2,500 feet of vertical in 10 miles!!! This is my staple hard uphill FKT time trial. Not to mention that Tower Road is a constant 11.3% grade!!  I am looking into doing the same for some other loops out in the Virgil area where some of the steepest road sections await!

Races Coming up:  Virgil Crest Ultra and Can-Lake 50 miler!!!!!

I have been putting in the mileage using my Strava application on my Iphone to target the toughest climbs in the Cortland, NY area.  I have found a new passion for the ultra distance.

Check out My Ode to My Sponsors as I examine and review what makes my Sponsors....THE BEST!

Karhu FLow Trail
Karhu Flow Trail!

UPPER: The Karhu Flow Trail has a nice sock-like fit and feel that is very soft and holds the foot in place properly.  Karhu's upper reminds me of the new Nike Flyknit designs. The ankle is padded to hold the ankle in-place so that you do not ever get those horrible blisters on the back of your ankle near the Achilles tendon (Runners out there you know what I am talking about). Because the upper has a hexagonal weave pattern, the upper is able to flex with the foot, allow for a sufficient foot-splay without having hotspots generate.  What I also love is the bottom portion of the upper contains a water resistant layer that allows for wet grass, puddles, and creek crossings to not even phase the shoe. Often, running in a soaking wet shoe for miles on end takes the fun out of trail running but thanks to Karhu's design, you never have to worry about that problem.
(Great Traction for trail and road--Hybrid shoe)

This shoe has great multi-directional lugs that provide great traction moving uphill or down and provides a nice smooth ride on road surfaces. I took the shoes for an easy shake-out run from my trip back to Oklahoma and the shoes navigate well on off-road sections but still feel smooth like the Scott Kinabalu on the roads.  The cross-directional lugs surprisingly do not feel awkward on the roads and really gives uniform traction.  When it comes to solid trail training, I look for a shoe that is an all-surface shoe.  That means the shoe should be able to act well in every form of terrain: road, soft trail, mud, creeks, grass, gravel roads, rocky passes, wet leaves, steep uphills and blazing downhills.  The Flow Trail does just that; it can hold its own in a variety of settings.  Is this shoe a technical trail runner?  I would say "No" but where this shoe shines is its ability to function better than the competition when looking at technical trails to road surfaces.  This shoe shines on well-groomed single-track and the road/local trails though could work on some technical trails.

(With it laced and unlaced)
The FIT:::: The Karhu Flow series provides footwear that fits like a glove yet is not too restrictive. The butter-soft uppers that the Flow Series provides really helps to place Karhu on the map. The mesh is lovely and the shoe fits better when the laces are adjusted. It may take a little to gain that ideal lacing scheme but once that is done, then the shoe fits incredibly well.

Overall Thoughts: The Karhu Flow Trail is a great door-to-trail shoe that feels great on off-road surfaces even slick rock and even remains fairly soft and smooth on the roads.  The Fulcrum technology from Karhu does such a nice job in terms of the transition into sound forward energy return and momentum. I have loved the Fulcrum and it has allowed for me develop a love for a smooth midfoot transition-point such as what can also be seen with Scott, Hoka, and some others.  The "rocking" component seen in footwear is what Karhu founded and does the best with.  Think of a see-saw. As weight goes down the other side shifts forward.  With Karhu, the initial energy that is experienced upon foot-strike gets positioned forward as the fulcrum shifts the energy in its optimal direction for running. What is experienced as a result is a fast smooth "POP" that gives you a glide as the foot leaves the ground. The sensation is something similar to flying.  The Flow Trail is able to meet my demands that I look for in a trail shoe: VERSATILITY, FUNCTION, AND STYLE.  The Karhu Flow works well on all surfaces and for a cross-over shoe, the model is light and nimble but also cushioned enough for the rigors of 50 mile-100k ultra racing but also sleek enough to run in the shoe and then rock it with some jeans at a coffee shop. That to me is a solid shoe!

Check out the new Karhu Steady Here:http://www.karhu.com/fluid-steady-launching-sep-10th



This race pack is able to carry more than 7 liters worth of gear. It is light, functional, and totally worth the investment.  I have used the pack for the majority of my long training runs at Virgil Mountain Forest Area near Cortland and the pack holds more than what I use on a standard training run. If I were to do a Adirondack peak summit I think the pack would be at better use to myself though it still holds its own as a top-level pack.
GOING FOR A RUNNING PICNIC?  This pack succeeds.
SUMMIT A MOUNTAIN?  This pack excels!
Mammut makes some of the best designed and durable products out there. This pack is so good that I have yet to fully push the pack to the max. I think the reason is that I just do not need to. The MTR 201 pack just takes care of business day in and day out. That is how a sound product should work.

Fits Socks!!!!

Imagine the finest merino wool ever used for a sock. Imagine the best fit and the cushiest sock ever.  Imagine a sock that gets the job done day in and day out.  That is a Fits Sock!  Being sponsored by Fits is a true privilege and they really do make the best socks around. If you like cushion and a durable and perfect contoured fitting sock, Fits does the best. 

Think of the softest, best fitting, and durable socks out there. Fits accomplishes this task with the BEST FIT and the perfect sock for hiking and trail running. For some, their merino wool socks might feel like to thick or too  much, but they are made it keep that foot feeling great and performing at its optimal levels with the best levels of comfort a sock can provide.  The no seam toe feels so great and the overall FIT of a Fits sock is the best around. Think a gentle tightness-the right amount of form and hold of the foot, arch, and ankle.  The ankle-hold is the best out there.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

2013 Cranmore Hillclimb--USA Mountain Team Down-UP Year!!!

I am a week away from the Cranmore Hillclimb!  This is my first time up this slope and  I am very excited to have the chance to run up this incredible slope with the BEST competition at a USA Mountain race ever. Not only will runners such as Max King, Joe Gray, Matt Byrne, and so many others but tons of fast road racers are giving this race the shot at making the team.  Whether I make the USA team or not, that is not my worry, I am going out there to compete and to have fun. Recently, I have really taken a liking of the ultra distances and though this race is a mere 12k, it incorporates some great elements you could feel in an ultra.  With tons of ups and downs, this race is very exciting and I look forward to another fun competition. Heading out to New Hampshire at least once every summer has become a starting tradition for me. With Acidotic Racing, one of my gracious sponsors, heading to New Hampshire feels more like a family reunion. I am so excited about the race and with smelling some of that fresh mountain air.  I will provide more with pictures and a full-race recap when all is said and done!

What a weekend! I did not have my best race probably one of my worst honestly considering my fitness, though I slugged through and had a nice time! The race went out super hard and I think that hurt my quads a little bit. Also, being pushed in knee-deep mud is always enough to stop a runner right in their tracks.  For me, I ended up tweaking my back enough that I felt like my back was tied to a huge wooden plank.  I was a stiff as a board attempting to run uphill as all I could muster was a fast power-hike. I lost a lot of time from around 20th place to 40th place or so.  It is in races like these that I appreciate ultra races more so and really feel like my strength lies in ultras.  I can run a pace for a long time and playing with endurance is a fun aspect of the ultra distances. You are always trying to figure out how to run as fast as possible while still leaving a little left.  With Cranmore, my 4:50 first mile placed me around 17th as the top 5 probably split 4:20 down the mountain which is just Crazy! It is because of reasons such as that where I have not done the specific explosive training to excel at a race such as this one.

The journey began as  I drove out early Saturday morning and man the weather was wonderful. The drive was a long 7 hour drive but it was scenic and really not a lot of traffic.  I drove through the scenic Southern Vermont section winding up and down through the Green Mountain National Forest, then I passed Keene, NH one of my favorite places and then off to the White Mountains.  I pushed straight through on the drive and made it to North Conway just around 3:30 and by that time my legs felt stale from being cooped up in the car.  I got an awesome milk shake at McDonalds then proceeded to my camp site.  Once I settled in, it was time to go for a nice shake-out run. I had forgot my watch and toiletries so I knew that I would need a Walmart run.  I ran through the awesome state park,  White Lake State Park and got to hang out there for the big day.  After my nice 70 minute run, I decided to get cleaned up and then head to Walmart.  This is where my adventure begins.

I load-up into my car and all of a sudden, I type in the GPS Walmart.  It gives me the location in North Conway which I was about 10-15 miles away from Conway.  I got into my car and off I went.  I followed the directions as they asked for me to turn onto a particular road.  Soon the road becomes a gravel road and the sun is going down, my gas light is coming on and I get diverted to Walmart road in the middle of the woods on a private road.  I am lost.  The GPS signal is bad as I find my way to a gas station in Conway as the sun fully sets and I have just 5 miles before I am expected to be empty.  Pretty wild stuff.  I then look up the Walmart location and find the store in North Conway with ease.  I grab some goodies without ever eating dinner and then head back.  I make it home near 10pm after leaving around 8. What an adventure.  I microwave up some frozen dinners and eat the pizza lunchables for dinner. Around 11 it is lights out as I crash into a deep slumber.

I wake the next day around 6:30 am, take a shower, grab some Dunkin Doughnuts and then off I go to the race.  I was still very tired but ready as I could ever be for the race.
I headed to the race and had the chance to meet everyone from my Acidotic crew to the Sorokas who were hosts to me and my family when I ran Mount Washington 2 years ago. I made it to the registration by 7:15. I got myself all checked-in, I had the chance to talk to everyone as this year the race start was at the top of the mountain and taking the gondola up to the top was a fun experience. I am not normally scared of heights but let me tell you that taking gondola when it is windy up there and no railing to hold you in is a little scary. All it would take is one big gust and I would be flying down 2,000 feet to my demise.  So yes, I held onto the back of the chair with a mighty grip because you never know.  The views were incredible having the chance to see the whole entirety of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. 

I made it to the top and just hung out and jogged around waiting for the women's race to begin.  At 8:15am the ladies were off.  It was fun to watch them compete as I had no idea how I would do.  I had not done the exact type of training I should have done for my overall fitness for the event. I had run up and down my local ski resort Greek Peak only three times before the race so I was feeling alright with my confidence but soon would learn of my improper preparation.  As the last few ladies were finishing we hit the line which was a massive drove of men all piled together.  THIS WAS CRAZY! The start was going to be dangerous as we crest the first hill and then bomb downhill to the base of the mountain.  On your marks and "BOOM" we were off.  I tried to settle into a rhythm with the massive group of people.  I spotted Jim Johnson who I have run with before so I tucked in behind him and followed his lead as we headed downhill.  We were flying down as people were passing me flailing arms and all from all directions. It was chaotic. The pace through the first mile was around 4:48 and I was in about 20-30th place.  That meant that the top guys were running sub-4:30 down a technical, rock-littered, muddy and patchy downhill. That is INSANE!  I settled with Jim Johnson mimicking his every move as he knows how to race mountains; he has it with this type of terrain.  We hit the climb together and he exclaimed, "COLE FROM OKLAHOMA!!!!"  I responded with a "THAT'S ME"!!!!  It was fun running tough with Jim.  Then coming up the last climb I was a little behind Jim. I felt pretty solid and was ready for lap 2.  I was sprinting on the downhill ready to make up ground and I was stride for stride with a Mexican national athlete. We were running side-by-side for the whole second loop until midway through the loop through the mud section.  He wanted to cross past me and got tangled up with myself.  He gave me a little nudge and BAM!!!!!  I fell into knee-deep mud collapsing on a rockbed of granite.  It hurt.  I bounced back up to continue and everything seemed fine until I crested the next big hill in the woods.  My back began to tighten as if I had a Wooden Board attached to my back.  I had no climbing strength.  I used everything I had and the steep grades killed my back as  I groaned in pain.  Now my running became a powerhike then a walk.  I thought if I just survive this  I could drop out after 2 laps.  People started passing me left and right.  My race was shot.  I ended up walking all the climbs the last lap being passed by other people and finished around 45th place.  I felt that I was about 20 places away from where I could have finished on a solid day but today I was just not having it.  It is from races like these that you could be angry at yourself and throw in the towel with running.

That is not me.  I feel that every race and competition is a test for oneself to see what one can do on that given day.  I learned a lot from the day and I will take the lessons I learned into both the Virgil Crest Ultra and the Can-lake 50.  I am poised to get back to the ultra distances where  I feel I excel.  I cannot wait to prove my worth out there and to redeem myself from last weekend's race.  With the Virgil Crest, the race is right in my own back yard in Virgil, NY and I hope I can run a solid sub 8:23 performance on the course to set a new course record and to get myself ready for the sub 6:19 record attempt at the Can-Lake 50 miler that will be October 12th.

Running through a state park

Gotta love the trails!

Great place! White Lake State Park

The campsite and the lake with the White Mountains in the distance

New Hampshire terrain

My race gear!

THe start here we go!

Suffering with a bad back but still having fun

The push to the finish!

My gear laid out

Mammut MTR 201 and Fits Socks handeld the race so well!  

Mud on my feet!

Team Acidotic Tent

The Drive back

Team Acidotic Racing

My Mammut gear

The race venue

The steep uphill section of Cranmore

I would like to thank my sponsors for being the best out there: Mammut, Karhu/Craft, Acidotic Racing, Fits Socks, Dion Snowshoes, my family and friends for the continuous support.  

I am on my way and I would love to thank you all for giving me the drive to train hard day in and day out and to work to pursue the dream for excellence. Without you, I would not be where I am today. Thank you!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Projections---Racing and Running

My list of races I am totally doing will be the Cranmore Hillclimb, The Virgil Crest Ultra 50m or 50k and the Can-Lake 50.

I have been running some serious uphill and downhill efforts to be better prepared for the USA race.  It is going to be super competitive and I hope to have another solid finish. Heat has been a factor here in NY and I might be prepared to race with a 10oz bottle for hydration.  This will ensure that I am properly cooled and hydrated for the 12k which is not anything long but being on exposed ski slope in Summer means that it will be hot regardless unless we get graced with a cloudy day.   The race is going to be FAST, so I have to run smart and get pulled along from all the top guys out there.  I have 2 more weeks and it should be a great time Racing Acidotic and spending time with my fellow friends in New Hampshire!

Virgil Crest---

I am still debating about running the 50 miles or the 50k.  If RD Ian Golden proposes a potential 500 dollar prize purse for the top 10 finish at Cayuga Trails and a win at Virgil, then I am running the 50 miler. If not, the 50k will be a distance I can run hard and still have the three weeks to recover for the Can-Lake 50 mile record attempt of 6:19:08.  That pace averages 7:34 a mile which is a quick pace and I hope that I can run at least 7:33 a mile come race day!  Virgil is a race I wanted to do last year but my Race across New Hampshire had me too lagged to run the race. This year, I look to make a statement at my "home" course since I train on the trails this race is run on every weekend and is only 7 miles from where I currently live.  THis course is rugged and that is how I like it.  With my awesome sponsors by my side, I know that I will be able to feel comfortable and be able to perform at the highest level.  A sub 8 hour finish for the 50 and a 3 hour 30- 3:50 hour finish for the 50k would be my goals for the course which would be scintillating.   It is official, Ian gave me the go-ahead and I am running the 50 miler for Virgil.  The course is tough and rugged and with training on the trails, a 50 miler sounds like the only way to go.  I hope I can run close to a record without totally destroying myself before the Can-Lake 50 but with 3.5 weeks to recover after the race, I should be alright.

Can-Lake 50----A road 50 miler???  Not what most of us expect but I am excited about the design of the course and the fact that this has the potential of being my fastest 50 miler.  Bopple Hill excites me and the thought that running some sweet hills is a fun challenge and running around the whole perimeter of a Finger Lake is a great thought too.

After these races, I do not have much in terms of a full structure for my racing schedule. Come December, begins snowshoe season though I would like to get in a Rock/Creek Series Race either the Upchuck 50k or the Lookout Mountain 50 miler at the end of November and December.  I would like to have the chance to race a little more across the country and hopefully with some solid performances, I can work to get the chance to race at other great race locations. Idaho, is one of my goal locations to check out. I also would like to have a crack at placing top 3 at Bandera. It would give me a chance to head to Oklahoma territory and a chance to mix it up with the best!

Training has been coming along great!  With the semi-heat and definite humidity here in Upstate NY, I have been running in the 7-8 am range for my training and have been able to run comfortably with a hand-held bottle and do pretty well. I have been running a ton of uphill and downhill training and have really honed in on some solid technique. Just yesterday, I ran up to Blodgett Mills and ran the illustrious  28% grade road. How do I know the grade???? The sign at the midway point tells all.  I climbed up that bad boy all the way through a solid pace without walking/power hiking once let alone a shuffle.  It was awesome. The 2 mile stretch took me 14:48 which to many may not seem fast but up that grade it is a trick. I finished the run flying downhill from the run and felt great. Another solid training run in the books. 

This is what my running has been lately. I step out the door 7-8am, take to the roads or the trails and get in solid 12-15 mile efforts.  When it comes to running well with technical trail running, running as much unique terrain and paces and distances is a must. I have calculated my weekly mileage since Cayuga Trails and Vestal XX and I have been running approximately 87 miles a week for the past month. Some weeks I am closer to the low side of 80 while others have been in mid to low 90's. In other words, I have been out there running tough in the summer heat.  I try to run fairly early to ensure I can beat some of the heat before it alters your running performance. I am really excited about my fitness as I always shoot for optimism as living life positively often allows for positive effects to follow.  So far so good I would say. Just a matter of time before I have the chance for my races to showcase my fitness.

One of my recent projects at work has been to organize a trail running group for Binghamton, NY. I now am equipped with a Garmin to hopefully map some of these hidden trail sections of the city.  It is a really exciting endeavor and I am happy to make it happen. For one of New York State's prime cities or metropolitan areas, Binghamton has from what I have heard great trail systems. It is just a matter of finding out where the trails are and of course where they go.  Hopefully come Fall, we will have a group and all these trails mapped.

For some of the best gloves out there! Confluence Running is looking to have some Mountain Hardwear Momentum Running gloves in their arsenal to keep the chill out come winter. Check these out along fall/winter.