Valley Fever gets the better of me

Well, my streak got up to 120 or so and then I had to call it quits. I think I acquired Valley Fever right after I register for the Bataan Death March and I trained with it because I didn’t want to back out of another race. After the race I continue my streak, but my cough got to the point where I just had to do something about it. Five doctors visit and an official Valley Fever diagnosis later and I’m just now starting to feel about 75%. I’ve only been running once or twice a week for the past month or so. I’m gonna continue this until August, then ramp it up for a 4:30 rim-to-rim attempt at the Grand Canyon in early October and Javelina Jundred in late October. 

Looking forward to following Western States on Saturday. 

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100 days and counting

Running streak reached 100 days yesterday. That’s about 870 miles so far. To be honest, the streak thing has been surprisingly easy. I can run my 5-mile minimum and shower in less than an hour. I can squeeze it in after I drop the kids off for school before work or run on the treadmill at the office before I leave for the day and shower at home. I have been trying to limit doing my minimum to 3 days a week and try to get in at least 20 on the weekends. Only really had a handful of days that I didn’t want to run. But the real test will be in the next few months when we have about 120 days of 100 degrees. The treadmill is gonna get old quick and I seem to be sleeping more these days, so getting up early will be a struggle.

The rest is of the year is kinda up in the air event-wise. The only things that are certain are two trips to the Grand Canyon. Hope to do a 4:30 rim to rim in May/June, then a “mellow” rim to rim to rim in September. I’m looking to drop about 10 pounds before the rim to rim run, which shouldn’t be a problem. Also doing Gary’s 72-hour run on July 4th weekend. It should help me avoid my usual summer slump and give me a goal. Tentatively set a goal of 250 miles, which will be a struggle as it will undoubtedly be 120 degrees that day.

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64 minutes barefoot run. Rockhopping-Nik

I went out the door after reading Charlie’s race report, like a bat out of hell.  The shoes seemed so light.  I seemed to almost be falling over, forwards.  The only way to stop the fall was to run faster.  I took an unusual route down to the beach, I passed some guy and his dog, he said “Wow, you’re flying.”  It felt like it.

Decided to run along the coast into the city via the ‘industrial wasteland zone’ and see how the Merrels handle slippery beach pebbles and seaweed, now that I have worn them in.  Surprisingly well.  The Vibram soles are so hard that they lack the natural grip on rock/wet rock that rubber has.  I guess that it took a while to abrade them enough to lose that slick texture.  Beach pebbles are really hard on the feet in the Merrels, I can feel every stone.  It’s like having the soles of your feet beaten with a rubber hose.  Might be good for circulation though.

I ran the beach defenses on the way out to Salthill for the first time, as previously the Merrels were too slippy to risk breaking a leg, but finally they are doing fine.  Timed my run home from Nimmo’s Pier, which was a respectable 18 minutes even.  After the pounding I took for three quarters of the run up to that point, I feel good making the return from Nimmo’s in 18.


I needed that run.  Good to be back in my running shoes.  Confidence soars!

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Race report: The 25th Annual Bataan Memorial Death March

The schwag

The schwag

Well, that was a brutal and beautiful experience.

I didn’t sleep a wink the night before the race. But this is nothing new for me, I have not slept the night before half of my races. I got to the race at 5 a.m., they wanted people to start going to the corrals at 6, then wait for the opening ceremonies at 6:30, then start the race at 7:05. Fuck that shit. It was a cool morning. I stayed in my car until 6:25, and then snuck into my corral right before they closed it. The opening ceremony was great. They honored the Bataan survivors and even though I’m not particularly patriotic, I was pretty moved.

The start was kind of a disaster. The race is broken into 2 main races, the “honorary” race (14.5 miles) and the marathon. Then the marathon, it is broken down into civilian and military divisions AND light and heavy (35-pound pack) divisions AND individual and team divisions. Generally the military divisions go first. While I understand the race is to honor those who have and are serving, the fact remains that the military folks have to run in full fatigues and combat boots, which means the civilian folks behind them spent a large amount of time weaving through them. Also, the race was 6,200 strong this year and all the racers had to fit on a 2-lane road for the first couple of miles. So, by the time I hit the starting line, the race was already 30 minutes old.

Before I started, I ended shooting over to the scales to weigh my pack. 36 pounds on the dot. For some reason, I worried that the scale at the end would be different, so I added a pound (a big can of beans), just in case. I made my way forward in the crowd and by the time I actually started the race, I was probably in first third.

I shook hands with the survivors at the startline. One of them told me he liked my earrings. I told him he should get his ears pierce. He chuckled and said he was too old and people would think he was “weird”. I told him that he had earned the right to do whatever the hell he wanted. He chuckled again and said, “I think you’re right.” I contemplated taking out my earrings and giving them to him, but thought better of it and moved on.

I felt good and had a nice pace during the initial road section. I did A LOT of weaving in and out of people. We reached the jeep trail and I was surprised that the trail was more like wash than I had anticipated. It was loose sand and gravel with one packed area that everyone was clamoring to run/walk on. I spent a decent amount of time running in loose gravel. Lots of rolling hills. At this point I was averaging about 10-minute miles. I was eating a gel every 45 minutes.

We turned onto a road at about mile 8, after an initial downhill, the nasty uphill that everybody complains about started. I originally kinda scoffed at this. It only averages about a 3% grade, but it last for about 5 1/2 miles. Add a 35-pound pack to equation and it was brutal. During the end of the uphill section I started to worry. I was on pace to finish the first half in under 2:30 (my goal time was 5:30). Problems is, It was starting to get warm and I hadn’t done anything more than 16 miles since my Grand Canyon run. I knew I would be in danger of blowing up, like crawling to the finish blowing up. So, I decided to slow down and reserve some energy.

We made our way around the mountain and my half split was 2:37. I was feeling decent, but I could feel that I was developing a huge bruise/welt on my right shoulder for the pressure of the pack. Once we rounded the mountain, I expected a really nice downhill. Instead, it was more rolling hills, some of which were not actually rolling, but steep as fuck. I struggled and I got passed by a dude in my division. This was really the first time I actually thought about what place I might be in. I passed a lot of dudes in my division, but figured there were probably a few guys who started ahead of me who I wouldn’t catch. Judging by my time, I figured I was in the top 10.

Finally, we met back up with road that we had earlier run up. I downed two full oranges in addition to the regularly schedule gel. The 2 miles of downhill were nice, but right shoulder was fucked and at one point my right arm started to become numb. I spent a lot the downhill fiddling with my pack straps to relieve the pain. Finally, I said “fuck it” and just embraced the pain.

At mile 21 , we hit “the sandpit”. I ran for the first 5 minutes, but at some point I realized I could power hike it faster. My right arm was almost completely numb now, which kinda freaked me out. I ended up strapping my handheld to my pack and, after shaking some feeling back into my arm, pulled on the pack which took the pressure off my shoulders. The sandpit ended up being almost a mile and a half long and took me close to 20 minutes to get through. My 5:30 was now in jeopardy.

From here to the finish was pretty flat. I did the math and figured out that I needed to average 12 minute miles for the last 4 miles to finish under 5:30. It was gonna be tough, my shoulder was painful as fuck and I was running out of gas. I downed a gel and grit my teeth.

We hit the 25 mile marker and I need to do the final 1.2 in 12 minutes to hit 5:30. With half a mile left, I started my finishing kick. I also started grunting loudly. I picked up my pace even more in the last 200 yards and finished in 5:29.

I immediately took off my pack off and the pain in my shoulder started to subside almost immediately. My pack weighed 41 pounds at the end. I added 4 pounds in sweat during the run.

I didn’t really know what my placement was until I got home (after a 7-hour drive). 6th place overall; 2nd in my age group.

Great race. I’ll be back next year and looking to break 5 hours.

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Gentle Yoga-Nik

Another good stretch on Sunday.  My back continues to be sore after a killer week’s work.


50 minutes.

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Gentle Yoga. Again. Nik

Well it is clear that when I am working hard (5 days of the last 6) that I don’t have the energy left for running.  The Yoga is an attempt to take the kinks out of my back after all that toil.


50 minutes of stretching, almost didn’t seem enough this morning.


Tomorrow I am off to the National Botanical Gardens in Dublin, so no chance that I will talk myself into anything strenuous.  A good thing too.  I have noticed that the 2 days I haven’t worked this week, I have been busier than when I am working.  Tomorrow will be a rest day, with a seminar…

5 am start…

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St Patrick’s Day Yoga, before another day of tree felling-Nik

Was up at 7am this St Patrick’s Day.  Back sore from monkeying around tree tops with a chainsaw yesterday.  Wanted to do my light Yoga routine before going out for a second day of heavy work.

Just did the 50 minutes, no planks, didn’t think I would need to.

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Lightweight’s Yoga-Nik

Did my 50 minute Yoga home Yoga class and my usual planks, before heading out for a hard day of work.  

I will be cutting down tree tomorrow, so I will probably do lightweight’s Yoga again before I head out.

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Short, short run in 33:55-Nik

A nifty run.  Barefoot.  Did my stretch and plank routine.  Planks are now up to 45 seconds.  Hit Nimmo’s Pier in 17:15.  Solid negative split coming back in 16:40.  It was an ugly, lumpy run, no grace or light-footedness, but fast.

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Bataan training update

Training for this race has gone surprisingly well. Been averaging a solid 10-minute mile pace the entire time. I maxed out at 15.5 miles. I made the decision NOT to do a 20-miler with the 35-pound pack, but I did do the 15.5 mile run as a depletion run, meaning no gels, salt tabs and I only had water for the first 3 miles. I’m also buoyed by the fact that I did 3 pack runs a week and every training plan I saw for the race only had 1 or 2 runs a week.

I revised my goal time to 5:30 and a top 10 finish. The weather is a concern as the initial forecast called for 25 MPH winds. However, that forecast was revised down to 15 MPH winds today.

I bought a nice new Ospry pack and it has been a total delight to train with.

Here’s my long-ass training log:

5 miles in 37 minutes

Late run last night. 19 out. 18 back. Loving the new NBs. Mellow run.

Strava is now out for Android. After this race, I’m looking forward to hitting the various PHX trails and seeing where I land on the leader boards.

Streak: 60

12.5ish miles in 2 hours
Inside track run with the 35-pound pack. ASU basketball star Jahii Carson decided to play a pick-up game at my gym and the inside track surrounds the basketball area, so people stood and watch from the track. The workers did the best they could to make people leave, but I still ended up weaving in and out of people. Luckily he left after about 45 minutes and the place cleared out. I ate a gel at the 1:15 mark and switched directions (I was the only one on the track at this point). My pace was pretty consistent and I was kind surprised I didn’t fade. 12 laps is one mile and I was doing 45 to 50 second laps, so I figure I ran about 12 and a half miles. Feels like this is some of the toughest training I have ever done. I’m glad the race is just 3 weeks away. 2 more weeks of training, then bring on the taper.

Streak: 61

5 miles in 33 minutes
The company has started a health/active lifestyle initiative. I christened the treadmill in our new work-out room. They photographed and recorded it for the company newsletter and internal website. Vanity took over and I went a little faster than I normally would have. Awkward running on treadmill with a ton of people watching. They actually got a nice True and not some crappy Costco treadmill. Plumbing to the shower isn’t finished yet, so I have spent the rest of the day stewing in my own filth.

Streak: 62

5 miles in 37 minutes
Busy day. The wife and I ended up childless after both older kids went over to friends houses and our babysitter wanted to take the baby to the first-time parent class she teaches at a local hospital. Ended up eating at a soul food place in downtown PHX we always wanted to try. Walked around for about an hour, then the wife wanted to do some shopping. I used Map My Run to map out a 5-miler, went back to the car to throw on my emergency running gear and off I went. Hit a shitload of traffic lights and stopped for some homeless people (I brought a fistful of ones). I love urban runs.

Streak: 63

15(ish) miles in 2:30

Drank too much last night and woke up with a hangover. I was underfueled and dehydrated for my 2:30 run with the 35-pound pack. Forced myself to stick with the program. Once I was on the track at the gym, I fell into a groove. Felt great until I hit 2 hours, then I could feel the energy drain out of me and it was a slog until the finish. Tough run, but I’m pretty happy that I pushed myself and finished. 3 hours is definitely my max for these pack training runs.

Streak: 64

5 miles in 35 minutes

Would have skipped this one if not for this damn streak. Feel pretty beat up right now. Even split.

After reading race reports and looking at past results, I’m gonna say 6 hours is my goal for this race. Seems every year there’s one studly dude who runs it in 4 hours, then the rest of the top 20 is between 5 and 6:30 hours. I’d be fine with top 20. 13 minute miles puts me at around 5:45. I’ve been averaging 10 minute miles with the pack, but that’s on a padded indoor track. The race is on a fairly treacherous jeep trail through the middle of the desert and there’s a lot of uphill. I should be training on some trails, but with the pack, the risk turning a knee or something is too great.

Streak: 65

9.5(ish) miles in 90 minutes

Felt like shit all day yesterday, but was still planning on running for 2 hours with the 35-pound pack. About 30 minutes before the run, I tweaked my back while playing with the baby. Decided to cut it to an hour. Hit the gym and actually felt pretty decent when I started. Got to an hour and still felt solid, so I added another 30 minutes. Talked with a woman training for a pikermi during most of the run. She’s 50 and her husband was a hardcore (sub-3:00) marathoner who died at 45 while running. She’s the second woman I have met while running whose husband died while running. We were clicking off sub-50 second laps, so I would guess I did 9.5 miles. Good run and my back feels decent today. 10 miles tonight.

Streak: 66

5 miles in 35 minutes

Left the house after 11 last night. Even split with no finishing kick. Definitely feel like I’m hitting a low spot in my training. Think I overdid it with the pack the last couple of weeks and now I’m paying for it.

Streak: 67

13(ish) miles in 2 hours

Killed it tonight with the 35-pound pack on the indoor track. Just solid with no fade. A “I can run forever” night. I contemplated just leaving my car at the gym and running home, but knew that would be a hassle for the wife in the morning. Went through about 36 ounces of Gatorade and a gel. I needed this after a shaky couple of days.

Streak: 68

5 miles in 35 minutes

Morning run after I dropped the kids off. Lots of bluehairs of the canal, but they kept with canal etiquette (get the hell out of the runner’s way) and I didn’t have to punch any of them. Even split.

Streak: 69

7.5 miles with 2,400 feet in elevation change in 63 minutes

Fuck! Had a sub 60 dead to rights, but got stuck behind some horses in a narrow section of the trail. By the time they pulled off the trail, I knew a sub 60 would be impossible, so I cruised to the finish. Still, an enjoy run on a beautiful day.

Streak: 70

10 miles in 93 minutes

Had planned on another 2 hour run with the 35-pound pack on the inside track, but I’m starting to worry a bit about heat on the day of the race, so I changed my plans. Hit the canal with the pack at mid-day and decided to run my 10-miler at about 80 percent effort. It was already 77 when I left. Felt solid the entire way and briefly had dreams of finishing in 90 minutes, but a nasty headwind picked up in the last 3 miles. I managed a dinky quarter-mile finishing kick. 46 out. 47 back. Great run. I had worried that my runs on the indoor track were spoiling me a bit. Perhaps it’s the “muggy” conditions of the gym and the rather unforgiving track (it’s not spongy like outdoor tracks), but the outdoor runs actually seem easier. 2 hour pack run on Tuesday, then the taper begins.

Streak: 71

5 miles in 35 minutes

Wife and kids are on spring break, so I didn’t have to go through the usual morning routine before my run. Relaxed run. Even split. No finishing kick.
A kind soul from a message board gave me his Garmin info from last year and the “monster” uphill in my race really isn’t that monstrous. Looks like an average of about a 2% grade over 5.5 miles. While it certainly won’t be fun with a 35-pound pack on, it’s hardly a killer.

Streak: 72

12.5 miles in 2:02

Hit the canal with the 35-pound pack. Felt great, turned around at 1:01 in hopes of running a negative split, but got hung up at a couple traffic crossings. Nice little finishing kick to bring home an even split. Gonna push my luck and do a 2 and a half hour pack run on Thursday. Probably should be backing off now for the taper, but I’m still feeling weary of this race and know I have been undertraining mileage-wise in an effort to save my back. So I’m gonna reduce my taper to one week and pack on some more miles this week.

I think a 6 hour goal race time and a top 20 finish is sandbagging it a little. I’m gonna revise it to 5:30 and top 10 finish.

Streak: 73

5 miles in 36 minutes

Left too late last night (after 11) and it kinda felt like a drag. Even split. No finishing kick. Gonna do 2 and a half hours tonight with the 35-pound pack, then the dreaded uphill Towers run on Saturday. That’s a shitload of tough work this close to the race, but I plan on completely shutting it down (just doing my 5 miles) after Sunday.

Also, the forecast for the day of the race is calling for 25 mph winds. This shit is gonna be fun.

Streak: 74

15.5 miles in 2:35

Still feeling a little shaky about not doing a 20-miler with the 35-pound pack before the race, so I decided to do a 2 and a half hour depletion run tonight. I had a granola bar for breakfast and a can of chicken noodle soup for lunch, then skipped dinner before my run. At the last second, I kinda realized I hadn’t really drank anything all day either, so I did decide to take a bottle of water with me, which I drank all of in the first 3 miles. The run went pretty well, but as expected I had cottonmouth for the entire second half. With about 2 miles left, I started to fade. No finishing kick. This wasn’t as good as my last few pack runs, but I feel good that I still averaged 10-minute miles without fuel. I’m ready for this fucking race.

Streak: 75

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