Saturday, November 3, 2012

NSC Day #1

I'm in beautiful Crystal City, VA, just outside of Washington D.C, literally just outside of DC and attending the 2012 National Student Conclave.  The host hotel, the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, is doubling as the conference center and has so far been a great venue.

Today began in the mid morning with a keynote by Steve Pepper.   The talk focused on passion.  He talked about alot of his life and what had brought him to where he is today.   It was really good; a great way to start the conference, made me think alot about when I was coaching and the power of living with intention.  Here were the big takeaway questions/thoughts.
  1. What kind of splash do I/you want to make in the world?   Where do you want to be in 30 years?   What story do you want to tell?   Your life, my life will tell a story, and every day you wake, you are writing the pages of your story.   There's no eraser, so what are you writing? 
  2. Passion: Remember the importance of passion.   We can all chase the $ and if that's what you want to do that's fine, but never, never, never sacrifice your heart, your passion for anything.
  3. Appreciate others, and make sure you let them know.   Everyone.   Your wife, the door man, the waitress that serves you, your PTA, your accountant, your patient; let others know that you appreciate them.   Be specific and honest. \
The 2nd session was on Sports PT.   Erik Meira, PT, SCS, CSCS and owner of Black Diamond Physical Therapy gave a presentation on the science and art of physicl therapy as it relates to Sports and Sports Medicine.    He did a nice job of deliniating the difference between Sports PT and orthopedic PT which I'd never clearly understood.    Basically Ortho is LB and Spine, while Sports tends to be Hip, Knee and more distal joints from there.  He talked about the settings where sports PT's practice and how to get involved in the Sports Section of the APTA.

Today was about passion for me.   It was  reminder that even while I'm in school I need to be thinking about what my passion is and looking for ways to engage there.    I got jazzed to start thinking about what I'd like to do and where I want to be in 10, 15, 20 years.   

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 Javelina Jundred - Arizona

This weekend I ate pie, humble pie to be exact, and it tastes yucky.
I headed out this past weekend to attempt 102 miles in the desert southwest.   Weather looked to be warm and sunny, clear and perfect.  The Aravapai Race directing crew, Nick and Jamil Coury, their family and dozens of volunteers, planned another great event under the October full moon! 
View to the west, JJ Headquarters, credit Brendan Trimboli
First, a bit about the course.   It’s a washing machine loop course so there’s one start/finish location and each consecutive loop starts in the opposite direction, i.e. the first loop is clockwise, the second counter-clockwise, the third clockwise and so on.   Each loop is 15.4 miles and is the loops are repeated 6 times and then the final loop is a modified 9mile loop so that the cumulative race distance ends up being 101.4 miles.  .On the clockwise loop there are aid stations at 2 miles, 8.4 miles, 12.4 miles and then the turn-around.  There’s not a ton of elevation but enough to slow the pace down for normal people.  Each lap gains and looses nearly 750’ with sharp pushes here and there with lots of rolling hills around the midway point.  The course is gorgeous; saguaro cactus dot the landscape, yucca and all sorts of other plants and cacti I don’t know the name of.  The actual trail is a mix of hardback dirt, sand with some sections of rock and most of it is single track but there are sections of 4WD road here and there. 

Lap 1: 2:20 / 6:00am - 8:20am / Mile 0 - 15.4

The race started at 6:00am under a setting moon.  It was a fairly uneventful lap; beautiful to see the sun come up over the desert.  All the runners were talkative and no one hurt too bad making it easy to chat with other runners.  I hooked up at the start with my friend Jeremy Duncan from Carbondale and for the first 8-9 miles we talked about life and all things running.  My experience on this course last year taught me to make sure and go slower than I wanted and specifically to watch the first descent down to the starting line.   It’s not that this course has crazy elevation but for whatever reason, the dry dirt, the exposure the rolling hills, it just sucks the life out of you if don’t respect it! 

First or Second Lap.  Notice the Smile. :) credit B. Trimboli

Lap 2: 2:50 / 8:20am - 10:45am / Mile 15.4 - 30.8 

Still feeling good, I slowed a bit but was eating and taking in lots of water.   I dropped off my hat and gloves at JackAss aid station which is the halfway point and inadvertently left my EFS (nutrition!) in my drop bag.    I had some backup food with me but didn’t want to do anything else but EFS for the first 3 laps, or approximately 8-9 hours.   Towards the end of this lap, it already started to get warm and I started having running cramps all along the inferior edge of my rib cage.   The cramps were uncomfortable but bearable and so I just kept going figuring they would stop.   (they didn’t!)

Lap 3: 3:05 / 10:45am - 1:50pm / Mile 30.8 - 46.2 

The cramping continued and got worse.   I also started to notice the tell-tale signs of my legs cramping too, generally for me that is the adductors, ankle evertors and plantarflexors..   I increased my salt intake and that seemed to help but the stomach and rib cramping was intensifying which also made eating a bother.    All in all though, Lap 3 was uneventful, just kept going.   The heat started to amplify and I slowed more, but never felt like I was hurting, I just knew that I needed to keep a steady pace if I wanted to make it through the heat.

By the time I got to the end of this lap, it was hot, really hot.   The daytime high got into the low 90’s during the afternoon.   My pacer, Brendan, doused me with cold water from a bucket, my dad filled my bottles with ice cold water and volunteers were everywhere spraying down runners with cold water as they went by.  It felt great and honestly probably helped safe my race.   Cooling down during the heat of the day and letting the body recoup is really important. 

Lap 4: 3:20 / 1:50pm - 5:10pm / Mile 46.2 - 61.6

I don’t remember Lap 4 much.   It was hot, I was slow, my stomach and ribs were just killing me and I was grumpy.   I didn’t have any inkling of stopping, in fact, it hadn’t even crossed my mind, but I was uncomfortable and irritated that my stomach would not stop hurting.   I felt good enough to run faster but just could not pull it together so I slowed more and tried to focus on getting rid of the running cramps. From about mid way through the 2nd lap, when the cramping started, I stopped eating anything but fruit.   I ate a ton of fruit but that’s about all I could handle. 

I was also about ready to cross over to no-man’s land.  I’d never run past 62 miles, I’d never run past about 12 hours straight so this was all going to be new and I wasn’t sure how I’d hold up.   I didn’t stay long at the start/finish between lap 4 and 5 but got going.   I didn’t want to even tempt fate.   


Lap 5: 4:05 / 5:10pm - 9:15pm / Mile 61.6 - 77

I told Brendan right off the bat that I needed to slow down and probably walk some.   The short little downhills were irritating my cramping and I was tired.   The only thing I really remember about this loop is that the sun went down, we saw the leaders come by us on their way to the final loop, and I began to notice my feet hurting.

It stayed fairly warm through this lap but by 9pm it did finally start to cool down.   The colder air would fill the small draws and valleys so there was this constant flux between hot air and cold air which was a strange sensation.  

Lap 6: 4:20 / 9:10pm - 1:30am / Mile 77 - 92.4

I started out this lap strong but by the 3 mile aid station started to come apart.  I was getting cold, I hadn’t been eating and after a good 3 mile push with 11:30min/miles back to back, I was toast.   Brendan correctly deduced that I was being a weenie and hadn’t eaten and promptly began feeding me.   Just a side note – Brendan was a PHENOMENAL pacer!   He did a great job of getting me to do what I didn’t want to do.

Unfortunately it was right about this point that I noticed the medial side of my right knee start to hurt.    I waited about 10 minutes but thought I’d better mention it to Brendan.   It got worse very fast and within 15 minutes I couldn’t run anymore.   I’m guessing that my running mechanics had become so sloppy from fatigue that my knees just couldn’t compensate anymore and I got a nasty case of patellafemoral syndrome within about a mile.   I tried several times throughout the rest of the evening to run but the pain told me to walk.   No reason to jack up my knee for the next several months to save a couple hours in the long run, and I didn’t want to risk irritating it enough so that even walking was impossible. 

It had started to cool down and by the time we hit the midway point, I’d started to shiver and was getting cold.    I’d thought I’d put my jacket in my dropbag but hadn’t so Brendan convinced the aid station to give me a large black trash bag.   We put a hold for my head and my arms and I power walked for almost 9 miles in a trashbag – but – it saved me!   I think I would have probably ended up dealing with hypothermia too had it not been for Brendan’s creativity and the aid station’s helpfulness.

FINAL Lap: 2:47 / 1:30am - 4:17am / Mile 92.4 - 101.4

At the end of this lap, all I had to do was finish another 9 miles and I was done.   I was pretty bummed by how many people passed me in the final 10-15 miles but there was part of me that was okay with it too.   This was my first 100 miler, I was going to finish, and I had learned some incredible lessons.

For the final lap you are given a glow in the dark necklace so the aid station crew at the loop cutoff know that you are on your final lap.   I’ve never been so proud to wear a piece of equipment.  Your mind plays all sorts of tricks on you when you’ve been up for that long doing the same thing for almost 22 hours.   I was so tired, I just wanted to stop.  

I arrived at the finish line and just stood for a moment.   Completely overwhelmed with exhaustion and emotion.  I didn’t start crying…until I called my wife, and then because the first thing that crossed my mind was the little girl that we are adopting in 3 months and I couldn’t contain myself.   Weird, but after 102 miles of running the first thing that crossed my mind when I heard my wife’s voice was our coming child.   Amazing how things change.


It takes a team:
I couldn’t have done this without my crew chief, my dad Matt, and my pacer and friend, Brendan.    My dad drove the whole way out to the race and back and allowed Brendan and I to sleep in preparation and in recovery.  He covered meals for us and overall made sure that all I had to do was run and not stop.

Brendan knew from experience how I would feel at varying parts of the day, what my moods would be and knew how to handle them.  He was able to coax me to eat when necessary and knew when to back off and let me be.   He blended the perfect amount of encouragement with quiet support.

I had no idea what I was doing
Back to my humble pie comment, 100 miles is nothing like a 50 miler.   I put together this elaborate pacing chart and had a solid A, B and C goal for finishing but in the back of my head was pretty sure I’d be able to hit somewhere between my A and B goal for sure.   Maybe I would have been if my knee had stayed together but irregardless, my mental picture of how hard a 100 miles is was drastically shy of reality.    A 100-miler is a beast of it’s own.   Now I understand that.  

Cool-down in the Heat of the Day
Don’t be afraid to stop and get your core temp down if the weather is hot.   You are not going to loose that much time in the long run and it can save your race.   This is only my first 100-miler but I imagine it’s similar to the advice I give the triathletes I train, don’t go out to hard in the swim, it’s probably not where you are going to win the race, but if you go out too hard, it’s certainly where you can loose it.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Eating and Replenishing Liquids
I ate and drank a ton of water and overall thing I did a pretty good job but in the heat of the dry desert, did not take in enough salt to replenish what I was losing and to keep a balance with the amount of water I was drinking.   This is something I need to continue to work on in training.

Oh, and
Make sure you have a jacket, hat and gloves in your dropbag! 


Time: 22:17:01 
Average pace: 13:11min/mile.
Overall elevation gain: ~4800’
Place: 24th overall and 21st in my gender and 10th in my age group

Monday, July 30, 2012

Speedgoat 50k

That was hard.

That was really hard.

Never before in the middle of a race have I openly shouted an obscene word at the race director (no he was not around, I was entirely by myself) until this race.   And then of course nearly hugged karl Meltzer at the end, the RD, for putting on a great race and a brutal course. 

I had no idea what I was in for at the Speedgoat.    One of the most fantastic fields I've ever raced in with the likes of Max King, Ricky Gates, Kilian Jornet, Anton Krupicka, Nick Clark, Nick Pedatella, Brendan Trimboli (gonna be one of the top runners emerging) was a stacked field.  

The race started out uneventful enough.   I drove up from Pagosa on Friday night and arrived at the Cliff Lodge at Snowbird at 12am.    Up at 5:00 for a 6:30 race start.  Tired but not overly.   I got plenty of sleep the days ahead because I knew it would be a long travel evening prior too.

Race starts with some undulating climbing up the first 8.4 miles to Hidden Peak.   Following that was a drop through the most incredible field of wild flowers I've ever seen.  No joke, they were absolutely incredible.    It was the most amazing smell and sight.   Hopefully I'll be able to snag some pics to add to the blog but right now, they will live in my mind as one of the highlight memories of the run.

I could already tell that something seemed off in my legs as I started getting the early early warning signs of cramping in my hamstrings and adductors.   Usually not a problem early on, this has been an issue later in 50mile races for me the past couple years. The descent down to the turnaround is not with out a few steep efforts scattered in.    31 miles and 11K of elevation gain means that there's not alot of time for flat but that you have lots of steep descending and steep ascending.    I didn't feel like my body would be able to handle quick descending and so I held back a bit.    At the turnaround, mile 15ish, I could tell that I was going to have a long day.    I wasn't able to get anything out of my legs for the 1 mile flat section to the Pacific Mine aid station at the turnaround and that should have been an easy thing to do at that point in the race.   

There is an incredibly long moderately steep climb out of that aid station, that takes you back to Larry's hole Aid station.  At this point, I had no idea what or where the course went so I had no idea what to expect.   I did have to power hike everything with incline at this point.   I was using my new Black Diamond Z-poles and was very glad to have had them along for this run.  I don't even know how long the climb was but by the time i got to Larry's Hole I was beat.   My legs were both cramping, I wasn't even running and my Left Fibularis Longus and Brevis had also started to cramp so my foot wasn't hitting quite flat during stride anymore.    Hate that!

I took a breather at the AS and took in some water, watermelon and grapes.    I must say that the AS's were all incredibly well stocked and the volunteers were fantastic.   They knew exactly what to do and were very attentive to the needs of the runners.  From this point, there is a long climb up to Baldy Peak before a drop back down to Tunnel AS.    This is where I cursed Karl.    Here's how it went down....

Climbing....climbing....oh, there are people on top of that peak, that must be it....climbing, hurting....climbing....oh, I have to go down that road before I can get back up to the people cheering me at the peak....^)(#_#...okay....descending....descending....ouch....and then....volunteer points up the side of a cliff and says...with a devilish grin...."up.".....%)*& Karl! And then a hands and fist, literally, climb up the side of this gulch to the top of Baldy.   I had to keep stopping because my legs weren't working.  It was horrible.  The only redeeming fact at this point was that I thought this was the last climb and that then I was going to be able to recover and go down.   What was I thinking?   The top of this climb is Baldy Summit, from there you traverse a ridge to a saddle and then...descend down back into the same area that I just came up, which is on the opposite side of the mountain that I want to be on if i'm going to be descending to the finish.   

That for me was the most down part of the run.  I had my hopes set on recovering during a descent and realized that it wasn't over.    So I dropped down back into the valley on the Southern side to Tunnel Aid Station.    This was a great stop for me.  I took 5 minutes, sat and just relaxed.  I needed to regroup and get my legs back.  I didn't realize that "tunnel" literaly meant tunnel.    At this point the course goes back through to the north side via a tunnel in the mountain...pretty cool.   

So I'll spare the rest of the details except to say that following this AS, there was about a 400' descent before a climb back up to Hidden Peak which was in truth the final climb.    From there it was a slow descent.  I did finally seem to come around with about 3-4 miles left and was able to get some speed into the finish but it was a bit late for me to break 7 hours.    My A goal had been 6:30, B goals 7:00 and C goal was to finish.    This race...I feel like hitting my C goal was a solid job well done!

A shout out to all the wonderful people I met, wonderful volunteers, great RD'ing by Karl and my car trip buddy Brendon Trimboli.    Max King, my good friend from Bend, OR took 3rd on the day and put in a fantastic race and it was great to spend time catching up with him.   Believe it or not, I will definitely go back and do this race again.   It's a pain and suffering thing I think.    Plus, I want to hit my A goal still.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Clinical Rotation Week 1

This first week was a mixed bag for me.   The atmosphere and location are fantastic and it's wonderful to see how relaxed and happy Anna is up here with the dogs just relaxing.    This is truly a gift to spend my first 2 month rotation with my wife in such beautiful country.    The clinic was both fantastic and challenging.   One on hand I saw a ton of new stuff and am amazed at how much of the learning from the past year is coming out when needed.   On the other, I'm reminded of my stubborn streak and that asking questions to enhance learning as opposed to just saying "uh-huh" is difficult for me.   Especially when my brain is full already.  

I don't really have anything super eye-opening to write about the first week.  It went well.   I think I was expecting it to be jaw-dropping excitement and it wasn't.   It was steady, constant and intense.   My goal for this coming week is to ask more questions, and to do 45 minutes of research every night related to something I saw or had a question about.  

Turkey Trail Marathon

I couldn't have asked for a better day!   The weather was great, the smoke from the fire just north of the course wasn't a factor and conditions were perfect.    The 4th Annual Turkey Trail Marathon is held just outside of West Pagosa on a section of local trails and forest roads.    GECKO puts it on which is a non-profit that works to give children an opportunity to get outside and experience the outdoors.   They put on several races in this area this year from running and mountain biking to a couple of new CX races coming up this fall.  

The course was a 13.5 mile loop that we did clockwise and then counterclockwise (marathoner's).   I had 13.5 on each trip so I'm pretty sure the course was slightly long, which at the end always matters.  The race started at 9am, an hour later than originally planned but giving enough time for morning winds to clear out any smoke that might have settled in the area from the fire.   

I started out with a fairly quick pace.   The first 6-7miles is a relatively quick descent and I was feeling pretty good.    There was a group of 5-6 half marathoner's in front of me but I was pretty sure I was the only marathoner in the bunch.    I picked up a couple of them along the way to the turn around and passed a really quick local runner that was having an off day.  He eventually dropped but would have been a strong contender for the marathon.  I couldn't really tell how far of a lead I had and until I hit the turn around I wasn't actually that I was in the lead.    I hit the turnaroud at 1:43:12.  

The return trip was relatively uneventful other than just painful.   It was hotter, the climb, though slight, was rough and I had some cramping in my left leg that slowed me down.    My return split was 1:51:42.   My official time was 3:34:59.


original artwork from a local guy

It felt pretty good to win my first trail marathon.   I ran well and felt strong throughout most of the race.   My goal to really push the last 6 miles didn't necessarily play out the way I'd hoped but I'm not complaining!   I'm getting more comfortable with being out in the lead pack more often and how to create my own race strategy as the race unfolds.   

All in all, it was a great day.  My wife, mother-in-law and brother in law and his wife and their son all got to be at the finish and the awards ceremony which was an extra special treat!  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pagosa Springs Clinical Rotation #1

In the course of the three year DPT program I will spend 34 weeks in clinical settings, taking the knowledge that has been stuffed into my head and put it to action.   One rotation will be in an acute care (inpatient) setting, one in a neuro setting and a third in an orthopaedic sestting; that's the one I'm in now.   We get to choose our 4th as an elective and I am planning on doing a more sports specific ortho rotation.  

I thought I'd describe a little bit about the experience as I go.   I just finished my second day and before some of my early thoughts ellude me, wanted to capture them on paper.   

The clinic I'm working in has two locations in Pagosa Springs.   There are two other small PT offices in the town as well which is actually kind of surprising given it's 2009 census of just under 2000 population.   I switch between each clinic every day and will do so for the entirety of my rotation.   Currently I'm working with one therapist for the first two weeks before switching over to work with another for the remainder. 

I've seen a fair number of patients already.  Most have been post-op rotator cuff rehab or TKA's.    There've been a few interesting anomalies but so far pretty straightforward.   It's been a weird transition from the classroom to the the clinic.  I knew it probably would be but it's hard to really know how strange it's going to be until you are in it.  

For me, the most difficult thing has been bridging the gap between what we've learned and been taught and what we are being instructed to do in clinic.   Already there have been several situations where things don't line up and I find myself in immediate inner conflict.   I tend to get locked into a way of doing things and have a hard time adjusting, especially when it is seemingly so radically different from what I've learned.  

I'm sure this will smooth out over the days and weeks ahead and I'm confident that I'll adjust but if there's one thing I need to make sure and do, it's keeping an open mind and a willing spirit to soak up as much as I can.  I would imagine that my classmates are going through some of the same emotions as well.   

So far so good - more to come...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Acoma Seed Run

View dropping into the valley
I got up early this morning to head out to Acoma Pueblo to run the annual Acoma Seed Run.   This is one of those rare gems of a run that I was blessed to find out about from Jim Breyfogle, a local ultrarunner and race director.   The Seed Run is every year on Memorial Day.   

The course is relatively straight forward but not without difficulty.   The initial 100m or so is a sprint down asphalt to a sharp turn onto sandy dirt road.   The road turns steep and heads up and over the top of the mesa that the old Acoma pueblo is located on.    The terrain is extremely sandy and it's hard to get purchase of any kind.   Matt and I were in the lead but immediately passed by a local runner who eventually won the event.    At the top of the climb there are a few rocky notches just large enough for a human body and then a bombing descent through sand and scrub bushes to a dirt road.   Dirt roads with long sandy stretches are the mainstay of the first 5 miles of the race.    There is a 3.5 mile stretch on asphalt that takes runners back to the finish and is mostly flat except for a slight incline back to the finish line.  
ABQ Road Runners Representing!

The race is 8.3 miles long and a fast trail run.  1st and 2nd place finishers in every age group, divided by 5 year increments, receive a handmade piece of Acoma pottery.  3rd place finishers receive a medallion, though smaller, no less impressive in craftsmanship. 

My favorite part of the race was the community.   It seemed like many of the locals came out to cheer us on and meet us at the finish.   The Pueblo Fathers were at the finish and at the awards ceremony to pass out the pottery and to shake the hands of every finisher.    There were folks selling burritos and cold drinks and kids and families everywhere.   The race had an incredible family feel and appeal and I really enjoyed the laidbackness of the whole thing.   

I had never been to Acoma and it's a place I'd like to go back and explore again.   The terrain is unique and beautiful and it was a great way to spend a Monday morning.

Dale, the RD and me after the run.