Headlands Run 2

Marin Headlands

Another good 8 hour training run/hike in the Headlands! 32.8 miles and 5,808ft of total elevation. This gets me closer to the elevation on the G G Trail Run, which is 6,320ft. Total weekly elevation was 8,648ft and 62 miles total weekly mileage,  highest I ever recorded! I'm feeling it, too.

Marin Headlands

What's nice about trail running is I feel I can take my time and slow my pace down and see some amazing scenery, so I think of it like a run-cation. That's in my mind because it's actually harder with all the climbing. I did the 30k loop, with a killer jaunt out to Pirate's Cove. Fox trail is crazy steep: 130ft to 902ft in little over a mile. I was a little worried about water. I filled up my Camelback Rogue at Rodeo Beach and didn't see much water on this side. I managed to make 2L last the rest of the trip. Next time I will fill up an extra bottle so as not to feel like I'm rationing. I may have to upgrade to a hydration vest. I still didn't get on the right trail going up to Conzelman, but found another nice short one. Here's why you really shouldn't miss this part of the route:

Marin Headlands

Marincello was a little easier this time, with less walking breaks. This time I did the carb cycling and it was a high carb day. I used Hammer Perpetuem and the caps which worked out great. It's a complex carb so it's nice and slow burning. It has a little protein and fat to slow the absorption and  preserve muscle. I made up a 5 hour flask with 2 packets, which is 540 calories and 108 carbs. Divided by 5 is 108 cals and 21.6 carbs per hour. For the last two hours I had a hammer gel and Justin's Almond Butter to get me through the finish. I included all of that as part of my daily carb intake. On rest day before and after will do a transition, where macros are more balanced and total calories lowered a bit so as not to gain weight on rest day.  The last two miles were hard, with lots of walking, but to be expected since this is the farthest I've run in a long time and most weekly mileage record with no fall-back weeks. The muscles need to catch up! I think I would still sneak some superstarch in there to frontload next time, maybe the protein one. I like the sustaining energy effect from it. Still experimenting with what works best. All I know is I doubled my mileage from last month and this month, so something is working.


Headlands Run

Marin Headlands

Did a little course preview yesterday of the upcoming Golden Gate Trail Run. I  haven't run here in a long time so was afraid of getting lost in the fog, but was thankful for the fog because of the heat. I missed a little piece of it so will try to find it next time. It has some steep challenging bits going up to Wolf Ridge. Marincello is a slow climbing torture. Definitely took some walk breaks where I counted my steps and psyched myself to run again. The beautiful scenery kind of takes your mind off of it. Great views from the ridges, and areas with lush vegetation and wildflowers. Also, there is a lot of wildlife out there. I saw a bobcat, rabbits and scrubjays. At one point on the way to Old Springs, I almost ran into a deer. I was looking down at the trail in order not to twist my ankle on a tricky section. I looked up and a deer was crossing the trail right in front of me. The bobcat sighting wasn't on Bobcat trail, but near the riding club on Bunker Road.


Marin Headlands I had my Camelbak and it seemed to last me with a little refilling. There are several bathroom & water stops along the way; One after you cross McCullough at the roundabout, The Visitor Center, Rodeo Beach. The Miwoks stables at the bottom of Old Springs Trail has bathrooms but did not see a water fountain. It's a little tricky to refill the Camelback with the water fountains, so will bring another bladder next time just for this. I like the Globaltap water fountain at the Golden Gate Bridge Pavillion. I did stop at the stables to apply sunscreen, as there was a little break in the fog in this area. I didn't pay attention to my pace or mileage and just enjoyed the run. On the trails 12 minute pace seems to be my average. This is a slight improvement on my 14 minute 50k pace six years ago! I did the half a couple years ago with 11:30 pace.

I am wondering what the last loop will be like, it may be slower! I felt my legs could have used a  little more juice so I think I will do a bit more carbs on event day or just more superstarch. The night before I added a small sweet potato to dinner. I actually set off on my run with only a bonk proof coffee for breakfast. I made a batch of UCAN superstarch gel with 2 packets and took a sip of it. I took one big sip every hour and then every 2 hours some Hammer caps. For a four serving flask that turned out to be 60 calories and 15.5 carbs per hour. Wasn't hungry at all even when I got back after 6 hours. The fat adaptation is happening! I'm glad I finally I have the strength to run to the Headlands, do the loop and come back. I'm able to increase my mileage to new lengths. I have been doing the HFLC diet, didn't bonk and legs feel pretty good.

I could go off and run again today, but I won't. Instead I will go jump in the bay for a bit. Ending the training week with 56 miles of running and 6,978 feet elevation!


Training for 50k

 One of my goals this year/next year is to run 50 miles, but I was having a hard time increasing my mileage because of some PF in my left foot. I still trained for ORF but a solution had to be found. I did several things which helped which I would love to share: I took a break, changed shoes, started using a standing desk every day and changed my diet.

Break: Well, not really a break, just gave the foot a break! I ran a lot less and instead cycled more! I trained for some century rides and that took some pressure off my feet. The feet enjoy cool swims in the bay and massage.

Changed shoes: I had switched to NB Fresh Foam for the long runs, but after about 250 miles felt they were too soft, so I got some Brooks Ghost. It's been about 250 miles in these and then I will get some trail running shoes. I stay on trails and dirt as much as possible, which is better for my feet, and use the calf compression sleeves. During the day I walk around in my NB Minimus or NB Zeros. At first I thought that shoes with a lot of support and cushioning would be best, but my feet like being able to stretch out and flex, especially combined with...

Standing desk: I use a standing desk everyday because my legs do not like sitting in chairs.  It cuts off the circulation. I have a hard time if I have to sit on a plane or at the movies. At home I use a yoga ball. I run in the morning, bike to work, and don't have the urge to sit down. If I want to rest my legs I like to lay down and stretch them out! I started using a balance disc, and this also has helped strengthen my legs and feet.

Changed diet: Contrary to all runner logic I switched from a high carb diet to a low to moderate carb diet lifestyle. For the past month I have been trying keto, I dropped sugar and grains and have been eating 60%-70% fat. Not less calories, just more fat. This makes no sense to me either but the benefits I have experienced are: weight loss, not hungry, less inflammation and therefore better recovery, more stabilized mood and energy levels and running on less fuel without the bonk.

I can increase my mileage more easily and have less pain, so this is going to be a great solution for my ultra training! I just did about 50 miles for the week which I haven't done in 3 years! Also, I've been doing hills back to back, which would normally be unbearable. This week I did 4k elevation, which I am going to try to double to reach my training goal. For my long runs, I just try to stay on top of my electrolytes and I started using superstarch. I like it because it doesn't have sugar, which is rare for sports nutrition. I have a little PF in my left foot after my long run, but the next day after a good night sleep feel fine and can walk on it no problem. I put a rest day before and after my long runs. In the evenings if I have time, I'll do a short relaxing swim in cool water of the bay to cool everything down.

More about the diet in a future post.

Training for the 50 miles seems doable now, but the first step is to get to 50k.

How to cure Plantar Fasciitis in 1 week


Run Week and Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers Recap: I don't do this race every year, but I really like this course and wanted to top off run week by doing a fun run. This race is very festive with costumes, music and party atmosphere and there's a lot of walking and stopping in the middle of the course to take photos and selfies. There is no designation of walkers on one side and runners on another side, it's basically running wild in the streets. There are a lot of new runners and one-time runners, which is great. This event is how I became interested in participating in races.

At the expo I really enjoyed the Sambazon Acai, the Go Raw snacks and the new Clifbar Organic Trail mix bars, especially the dark chocolate one! 

On race day I parted with my friend that had never run before who was going to meet some friends in Corral D.  I was in Corral C, but I noticed that I passed a bunch of people that started much earlier than me. I didn't take that many photos as everyone is taking pictures with their cel phones and I just wanted to keep running. My favorite part is reaching the top of Hayes Hill and looking behind me and seeing all the colored dots of people all the way down, and flying downhill through Golden Gate Park. It was foggy and cold at the finish line, and it was hard to get to the food. I had an apple, clif bar, some almonds and some chips. There was no band playing on the huge stage when I finished, so I went to the coffee line and grabbed a coffee, walked a bit then ran home. I had thought about running up to the Cliff House and accessing the trail from there, but they had it all gated off and we had to go back through the park. Also the beach was gated off.  I have really noticed a difference in the atmosphere of the race over the years. I think the starting line was more fun. They should provide some entertainment there as people are stuck waiting. We seemed to provide our own entertainment with throwing tortillas and gawking at costumes. Official Time 1:11:10 Pace 9:33, Strava Splits

My non-running friend finished the race in almost 2 hours.

Since I was doing alot of bike training and swim week, I went from 0 mile running weeks to 29 miles last week, which is odd since I hadn't run in a while. I am temporarily switched to a HFLC diet to experiment with it in training. I noticed that it gives me more energy and a little easier recovery. I tried it on the bike, cold open water swimming and running. It's a little hard to get going but once I warm up I feel like I'm revving on a steady supply of energy. I feel a little heated running on fats, which is great for the cold open water swims, and not so great for running if overdressed. It all started with a cup of bonk proof coffee (1 1/2 c. coffee, 1 T Kerrygold butter, 1 T  coconut oil). Now to focus on increasing the mileage even more!


Swim Week and Alcatraz

After last week's Century, I swam in the bay almost everyday to build up the mileage and get ready for Alcatraz #9 with Water World Swim. Swimming in the bay is great for sore muscles and active recovery. I swam without a wetsuit, so by the time I used the wetsuit it felt really warm and easy to get in. As a coach I went in as swim support with my orange SaferSwimmer buoy. This just makes you more visible and also acts as a floatie in case someone panics and just wants to hold on to it until a boat arrives. It has a dry bag also, so I carried a radio and my phone with GPS app inside. It was about 57 degrees most days but today felt a little colder. The beginning of the swim the water is a little wilder way out there by the Island, but by Alcatraz standards it was calm. I've been on the boat support many times and have seen all kinds of conditions out there. We had some nice swells and a few waves. I stopped to help a couple of swimmers, we got behind and were repositioned with the rest of the group. When you get repositioned it can be frustrating because depending on your pace you may not have time to get yourself in position to make the landing, whereas if you were swimming continuously you might have been able to make some navigational adjustments. You have to do what the swim directors tell you. As we were headed toward the St. Francis Yacht Club from the middle of the bay I had the Golden Gate Bridge on my right breath and Alcatraz on my left breath, with the city skyline in front of me. It was awesome! A bit later we were repositioned a second time because our jump was a little late and a boat race had started, so we were moved closer to shore. This was frustrating because I was practicing navigation on a new building and now I have no idea if it would have worked or not. Usually, if you can swim a mile in 40 minutes, then you can make it. The ebb was pretty strong though so it was a challenge even for the 2 mile per hour swimmers. Even though it was a fun swim I have to bring up all these potential factors because you have to be prepared for other things to happen and be flexible. Safety is a priority. You get a good idea of what this swim entails. It's a great feeling to swim up to shore and feel the sand underneath your feet.

The beginning of the swim is where a lot of people get in trouble. They are not expecting the cold, the swells and waves all at once. If you are jumping off a big boat, then there is that drop underwater and adrenaline rush. It can be a little overwhelming. It can take a few minutes to gather your breath, warm up and get your swim groove on. When you jump off the boat, you can't stop because the ebb will take you off course. The best thing to do is to put your head down and get swimming right away. Try not to think too much because your mind is going through a lot of self-doubt at this moment and it will pass. Here are a few things I do to get going:

  • Deep breaths
  • Blow bubbles underwater
  • Hum underwater
  • Believe in yourself and take control of the situation
  • Get some water inside your wetsuit to stretch it out a little and give you room to breathe
  • Count your strokes
  • Focus on your landmarks
  • Don't go out too fast
  • Find your happy place
  • Get a song you like in your head and play it
  • Relax your effort and enjoy. This is not something you get to do everyday!
Know that you are well-supported and you can get back on the boat, but that's not what you came here for. The best thing to do is to train in open water conditions similar to the event. Taking a clinic helps so you know what to expect, and coaches are there to help you. After you do it several times most of these roadblocks disappear and the fear turns into excitement, but it's different every time. Enjoy the ride!