Friday, September 30, 2016

Tahoe Taper : 3 Week Lead-up to the Spartan Ultra Beast

I have some taper guidelines that I use for marathons, that I think fit well enough here for the UB:
  • Last speedwork 10 days pre-race
  • Last strength session 10 days pre-race
  • Long runs (and even normal runs) should be of a mileage equal to or less than the number of days pre-race
  • Keep things easy in the last week

Sunday, September 11:
I wanted to make up some Amerithon miles, so my intention was to do 2 hours on the bike, but I only did 1 hour, because my inner knees weren't thrilled.  But I got to do a strength session for the next 45 min, instead... my body was up for it because it wasn't wrecked from the Fort Bragg Sprint the previous day.  Prior to the strength session, I had an Organic Fuel Chocolate Milk recovery drink.  I'm normally not a sugary beverage person, but it was mid-workout, and it was delicious.  Racked up some more Deez Nutz WOD reps:
  • Plank: 4 + 3 = 7 min
  • Sit-ups: 175
  • Lunges: 70
  • Push-ups: 25
  • Squats: 135
  • Flutter Kicks: 70 + 65 = 135
  • Mt Climbers: 130
  • Plus a bit of dumbbell work
Tuesday, September 13:
Another hill session, my second, with 6 miles at 7 degrees of incline at 9:49 ave = 7:43 effort.  I wasn't feeling a long run on the treadmill that day (I've only managed that once or twice before, anyway), so I went with hills.  I figured that I probably have endurance already, and needed hills more.  Watched the Spartan Race series while doing the run.  I stuck around 6-6.3mph most of the time.  Since I was still kind of recovering, I didn't push the pace.  My right knee was a bit wonky at times.

Thursday, decided that sleep (recovery) wouold be the best thing I could do for my body, rather than trying to force a workout.

Saturday, September 17:
Last reasonably long run.  14.1 in 2:25:03, 10:17 ave on the trails at the Whitewater Center.  1026 ft of elevation gain.  Time included tying shoes twice and letting a mountain biker pass.  Went without food or water during the run.  Could've gone on for a bit longer, but 12 miles is typically what I have scheduled 2 weeks out.  It was cloudy, which was a nice surprise.  Did a bit of wall climbing afterwards.  I did improve from 2 weeks ago.  It will be fun to see where that goes, and what it does for OCR.

Sunday, September 18:
90 minute bike session, a recent-history record, time-wise.  24.4 Amerithon miles.

Monday, September 19:
My last strength session before the UB.  Deez Nutz WOD.  I've been noticing that back muscles have been coming back in recent days (they've been gone since I stopped playing club ultimate frisbee post-college). 
  • Sit-ups: 125 + 65 = 190
  • Plank: 3.5 + 3.5 + 2 = 9 min
  • Squats: 140 + 205 = 345 (with some holds for a few seconds during the first set)
  • Flutter Kicks: 90 + 65 = 150
  • Burpees: 60
  • Jumping Jacks: 110 (calves tightened in the second half)
  • Push-ups: 20 (always so hard)
Been sleeping poorly for the past couple of weeks.  Would desperately need a nap after work, which would make me stay up later as a result once I did wake from the nap. 

Thursday, September 22:
Third and last hill session.  6.0 mi at 7 degrees of incline in 57:37, 9:36 average = 7:36 effort.  Had half a bottle of water in the last third of the run.  Harder than it should've felt.  After waking in a jarring manner from a 2-hr nap.  Legs are finally feeling better again, after the Sat/Sun/Mon workouts. 

Found out that it's snowing in Tahoe!  Sub-freezing temps... uh-oh.  I had to reconsider using a wetsuit.  I tried it on, and it was surpisingly easy to move in it.  Not that bad at all.  Then, I realized that I had been trying it on backwards, the whole time... once I turned it around, it fit much better, haha.  Race-day, the temps will be upper 20's to upper 30's, plus random wind tunnels, and cold water swims. 

Friday, September 23:
Record bike session.  I managed 2 hours on the stationary bike with 33.3 miles... same distance covered per hour as my previous one-hour sessions, but held it for double the time... excellent. 

I also revisited my pack decision... rather than use a racing backpack, I decided to rig together a waist belt setup.  The benefits:
  • Less likely to retain water after the swims
  • Smaller volume, in general, to lug around
  • Chest straps won't get in the way when I'm climbing over walls and stuff
  • Lower center of mass around my waist, vs. on my back, which will help with burpees, and which will help when I lean forward heavily when climbing
The main drawback is less volume to hold additional gear.  I'll bring some dry sacks that I can use in a pinch, though.


Saturday, September 24:
Last "long run" that's really just a medium run.  8.7 mi in 1:45:52, 12:10 ave, on the Whitewater Center trails.  Ran in Inov-8 X-talon 212's, which I may use in Tahoe, to double-check that it's good.  This is the second time running in it, after the initial 17 mile trail run up Crowder's Mountain.  It was good... laces stayed tied, no ankle rolling, wide toebox.  The only thing that may cause me not to use it is that it probably won't drain water well.  Certain obstacles are guaranteed to drop you in water, which doesn't really make changing out of shoes into dry bags easy, so I may end up running in my Reebok Beast All-terrains, anyway.  I'll have the X-Talons as a mid-race drop bag back-up, though.

During the run, my legs got tired in the last mile.  Hope I didn't push too hard.  The previous late-night, I had done the 2-hour bike session.  Spent the rest of the day eating non-stop... metabolism may be high with the increased muscle mass.  Also had a short nap, which is typical on weekends.  Nose breathed during the run after the initial 0.3mi (once I remembered)... that was a good way to keep the effort reasonable.  The breathing part wasn't difficult to manage, anyways.

Sunday, September 25:
90 min bike session.  Could've pushed on for another 30 min, but don't want to overdo it, especially after training on Thurs/Fri/Sat already.

Monday, legs sore.  Focusing a bit more on nutrition this week.  Good fuel, micro-nutrients.

Tuesday, September 27:
Last run before the race!  4.5 mi in 38:33, 8:34 ave, at 2 degrees of incline = 8:12 effort.  Going at 2 degrees after doing the past three treadmill runs at 7 degrees made it feel like I was going downhill!  Right knee still wonky at times, so I'll be KT Taping it for the race. 

Tuesday, the nerves in my legs feel singed/fried.  Also started packing... packing all this gear is hard physical work!


I'm feeling ready for the UB.  The cutoffs are reasonable, too.  Glad to have the wetsuit (found on sale for $5 randomly, once... thought it could be good for paddleboarding, but it will be a life-saver here).

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

RACE REPORT: FORT BRAGG SPARTAN SPRINT 2016

Summary:
  • Asheville was not a fluke.
  • I still have things to work on. 
  • Herc Hoists stink.

I loooved the Fort Bragg Spartan Sprint course.  It was relatively flat and fast, with sandy double-track for most of the race.  This allowed me to focus a bit more on the obstacles, instead of being wrecked by the terrain with less energy available to take on the obstacles. 


I came with an 85-90% taper, ready to test myself and have a checkpoint on obstacle ability ahead of the Ultra Beast.  It felt so odd to be registering and walking through a festival with some pavement and sand, at the very scenic Smith Lake Recreation area.  The festival area was more compact than usual, and cleaner feeling than usual, and so beautiful, which made for a great atmosphere.  To get into the festival area, we had to go through Security, I guess because we were on fort property, so it was good to get there a bit early. 

The elite wave started off, and we hit a pretty big bottleneck with lots of elbows and coming to a screeching halt within the first 100m, as we went through a fence gap that wasn't even really blocking anything.  Going out harder in this case might've been a better strategy. 

The first obstacle was again the Hurdles (I've referred to them as floating beams before), and for the second time in a row, I've been able to get over them.  I think I have it down, now, which is exciting.  Most people wouldn't even blink at them, but they had been something that I failed at for a long time.  I ran into Bev from HH12HR-020 and wished her a good race.  It was cool to see other 020ers out there.  Next were moats, then over-under-through.   

As another "PR", I got through the rig, for the first time.  I typically get through 1/3 before losing grip strength.  Somehow, everything flowed.  The rig starts with a row of strung up rings that you go through monkey-bar style.  Then, a single pipe.  I started traversing the pipe looking forwards, but after swaying back and forth and not making much forward progress, I quickly changed approaches.  I think it might've actually been a facebook post from Bev that suddenly came to mind, about taking it sideways.  I used a switch grip (thanks, American Ninja Warrior), which worked beautifully, and got through to the next portion, which were hanging knotted ropes and rings.  I had some doubts in my mind the whole back half, since each foot that I progressed was one foot farther than I had ever gone before.  Would I make it?  After finishing the pipe, only a few more left, and I finally got to touch the bell.  I didn't want to risk kicking or punching it, since I wasn't sure if I had it in me, so I stuck with a still satisfying slap.  The first time you finally conquer an obstacle, you feel over the moon and can't stop smiling as you continue your run down the course.

There was the double-sided vertical cargo net, thankfully, with a solid metal frame at the top, instead of just a wire holding up a single net that you have to precariously move your body over.   There was a barbed wire crawl.  I wanted to use this race as an opportunity to try out some gear.  I had gotten some gloves with thick wetsuit-like padding on the palms.  As I started up the 7-foot wall, the gloves slipped right off the top of the wall.  No bueno.  I took the gloves off, and had no problems on the second attempt.  Another repeat of Asheville success.  I ended up keeping my gloves in my sports bra for most of the race.  Especially for such a short race with not much of an opportunity to start to wear on your hands, this was not an issue.  I had mostly brought them just to try them out, for potential uses in longer races.  Having the proprioception was better.  Plus, it's easier to grip something that's smaller in diamater, vs. larger in diameter, and the padding was thick on those gloves. 


We hit the Devil's Stairway (inclined wall followed by an a-frame), the Atlas carry, where I think I did use gloves.  I got through the z-wall for the second time ever (non-consecutive)... also very satisfying... went through it very deliberately, not wanting to slip and wanting to ensure proper footing and hand holds.  A-frame cargo, inverted wall (always enjoy that one). 



The sandbag course was flat and much easier, after having endured the perhaps 70lb of Ruck+Sandbag+Bucket+H2O at HH12HR.  I did put on gloves for the bucket brigade, which worked out.  This might've been the first time that I went through without putting the bucket down.  I did shift the weight around onto my forearms and thigh a few times, but the course was flat.  HH12HR probably helped, too.  I gripped the bucket with a hug instead of lifting it, which was a lot easier.


Then, things went downhill, and I don't mean the terrain.  Missed the spear throw, as usual.  I have a spear, and I've tried practicing with it, but I still can't figure it out.  Maybe next time, I'll try using a bit of a running start to add momentum.  Up to this point, I had been burpee-free, which I was amazed by.  Burpees.  Then, the Herc Hoist.  Since like 2014, I've been barely even able to budge them.  Maybe they had been wet, adding to the weight of the sandbags at the other ends of the pulleys.  This time, I could move them some, with great effort.  This is much harder than a rope climb, though, because... well, maybe it's because you can't use your legs easily (you could put them on the gate, but it's pretty awkward), and well... the herc hoist is just not very nice to me.  I got it maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of the way up with much struggling, and I didn't feel like I could make it much farther.  I started to let it down but of course didn't want to just drop it and risk breaking the sandbag or do extra burpees or whatever.  I did let it down gently, but at the cost of searing rope burn.  My hands weren't too bad off, in the end, but at the time, it stung a lot.  Burpees. 

There was downhill barbed wire.  I started semi-rolling, but that wasn't quite efficient, so I started crab walking, since it felt ok going downhill, but someone yelled "ape walk", so I tried that, and it worked really well.  I should try to be more adaptive and versatile in my choices of animal movements in the future (thanks, Andi Hardy from the Spartan Workout Tours, for teaching all of those!).  I never thought I'd actually use crab walk let alone ape walk in a race.  I guess crabs could be used going down an a-frame, but ape walk?  It was perfect, here.  This terrain had been pretty downhill and rutted, with a decent distance between the wire and the ground.  Too bad I didn't start ape walking until nearly the end, but I'll know for next time.  It's surprising how something as simple as the barbed wire crawl could have such a variety of optimal techniques, depending on the type of terrain.

It was nearly the end.  Spectators were saying to give it all you had, since it was almost over.  I didn't want to, though, because I didn't want my heart racing and body in lactate mode when hitting the rope climb, which I've only made once before in a Spartan (Battlefrog ones have been fine, other than in the last lap or two of BFX).  I thought I had a chance and strategically chose a rope.  But I couldn't get up it at all.  My arms were shot from the Herc Hoist attempt.  Burpees.  Disappointing.  Slip wall.  There was someone else coming down the slip wall at the same time as me.  We had recognized each other from the HH12HR.  I think she was one of the insanely fast and strong ones.  She had cheered me on as I was doing burpees at the spear throw.  I might've broken an unspoken rule about waiting in line at fire jumps for the photo finishes (I know open heats try to do this, but Elite heat may be different), and if so, I feel bad and am sorry.  The two things that were going through my mind at the moment, though, were having two HH12HRers finish together, and the late-season Spartan World Championship coins that everyone could potentially have a shot at.  Anyway, I was pretty excited when I saw that we finished with the exact same time, down to the second.  Aside from my first Spartan, I go to these races alone, but after HH12HR, it's been cool to have so many new Spartan friends, and to be running with so many of them on this day.


I was still like 15 places off from the last SWC coin, but it was only like 4 minutes, which I could gain back by going more aggressively on the running and obstacles, and by improving on rope climb and finally getting the spear.  Even if I did get 4 more minutes, that would only work in the late season, after a bunch of others have already earned their coins, and in smaller races.  Well, something to shoot for in the future. 



I ended up doing better than half than the Elite Womens' heat, which I was surprised by.  This day ended up being a great day for many.  Lots of PRs, and some even went burpee-free.  This was an easier terrain course, granted, but I think this is confirmation that I'm getting stronger on the obstacles.

 (Such a cool medal!!!  It didn't disappoint.)



After the race, I visited vendors, hung out while watching the other finishers, and played around in the training area.  I couldn't practice the rope because my pulling arms were still shot, but I honed my pipe traversing skills on the pull-up bars.  I also flipped tires.  In my first Spartan race, I could barely budge the womens' tire.  This time, I was moving the mens' tire all around.

(2014 - Couldn't move this one)



 (Beasting it in 2016!)

It was such a picture-perfect day for spectating in the afternoon.  The lake was beautiful and there was a good bit of cloud and shade early on.  Operation Enduring Warrior was out there in force, and among them were those who were wounded serving our country.  It was incredible to watch the soldiers as they helped each other conquer the obstacles, without having four limbs.  They inspired us all, and taught us all with the warrior ethos that they embodied.  


After the race, I was scheduled to volunteer.  I still had a couple of hours, so I hung out in my hot car, drying my clothes and trying to sleep.  It was too hot to sleep in the car... there wasn't much wind blowing through the doors.  I read a little bit of an Ultra Running guide that I just bought.  Oh, while I was in the festival, they made announcements about not keeping dogs in cars or else they'd break your windows.  There had been some issues in Asheville with that.  I recalled that I had a stuffed animal dog in my car, a large one.  I hoped that it looked fake enough, but I couldn't remember how realistic it looked.  Fortunately, it was ok, haha.  Windows intact.


(NOT A DOG THAT NEEDS RESCUING FROM A HOT CAR!)

Volunteering was great.  I'm always impressed by how dedicated my fellow volunteers are.  We all hustle and work hard.  People could just coast through it, but something drives us.  Is it just who everyone is, being people used to giving 110%?  Or maybe the Spartan Race / Spartan Life if something we all really believe in.  Every weekend, across the country, people are racing and overcoming challenges they never thought possible.  They turn their lives around.  They find solace and friendship and a return to a raw, gutsy, and more natural way of living.  They find strength and courage they never knew they had. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Spartan Tahoe Ultra-Beast Cramming

THE INSPIRATION

I had told myself that if I made it through the HH12HR, I'd sign up for the Spartan Ultra Beast.  This would complete my 2016 Endurance Trifecta.  This has been my biggest OCR year so far, and things have been on a roll with noticeable improvements in the Asheville Super and surviving the HH12HR and having the HH in the bag, so there's no better time than now!  I didn't want to pay up for the UB and go for the 2016 Endurance Trifecta only to not make it through the HH12HR, so I didn't seriously consider the UB until after the HH12HR.  The UB by itself has always sounded interesting, but they only host it a handful of locations.  I travel for marathons, but I've yet to take any plane rides for OCRs.  Tahoe became the obvious choice, because it was hosting the Spartan World Championships that weekend, and I love exploring the Western half of the country.

This has been a big year in OCR for me.  My plan for next year was to focus more on normal running next year, and possibly start working towards an Ultramarathon.  I've completed 6 marathons (Houston, Albany [GA], Philly, St. George, Boston, California International), so I'm comfortable with trying something new.  I want to do Comrades (~56 mi) in South Africa one day, but 56 is a big jump up, so I figured that my first might be a domestic 50K.  Prior to researching the UB in depth, I thought that it was 26 miles on the dot.  I should have figured otherwise, since the Sprints, Supers, and Beasts are all above 5K, 10K, and HM distance, and the word "Ultra" is in "Ultra Beast".  I didn't expect an OCR to be my first Ultra, but it's actually not a bad way to get started in it.  I can jump in without having to deal with excuses like picking the right 50K or waiting until I'm ready and being concerned about being 100% prepared for a good breakout ultra performance based on pure speed. 

I was extra-pumped about the prospect of racing with some of my fellow HH12HRs who I had met in Ft. Campbell.  Even if I wasn't racing with them, per se, I love the comraderie of knowing that they're out on the same course, fighting the same battle against the distance and terrain and cold.  This left me with about 6 weeks to prep.  Time to cram!  This is a recap of the three weeks spanning T minus 6 through T minus 4 weeks (August 21 through September 9).



THE APPROACH

1) Recon
 I read blog posts on other peoples' HH12HR experiences, to capture notes on Gear Drop contents (perhaps the part I was most excited about planning), training, and race-day strategy.  There were valuable stories from DNFs and successes.  I also watched Youtube videos to understand what to expect obstacle, terrain, and weather-wise.  It also helped with visualization.  Here's the current plan...
  • Gear Drop:  I'll be using my bucket from the HH12HR, and putting various clear plastic bags in it, to help group like items while providing easy visibility of what's in each container.  I have one for food, one for small items (extra safety pins, sharpie, bandaids, mustard packets, vasaline, etc), a couple containers for water, a bag for extra clothes, and I'll see what room is left for an extra pair of shoes.
  • Training: The biggest regret people had tended to be not doing enough hill training.  That ended up being more valuable than straight-up running.  Noted.  
  • Race-day Strategy: Surviving the cold and avoiding hypothermia seemed to be a bigger obstacle than the obstacles themselves, although the cold water swims and dunk obstacles are what cause it.  I can't see myself enjoying running and doing obstacles in a wetsuit, so I think I'll bite the bullet and go without one.  We'll see.  Don't stop too long at the gear drop, run on anything that's runnable because most of the time, it's steep uphills and downhills where you'll be slower than the pace needed to meet the time hacks.  Be ready for 28-34 miles and 10,000 ft of elevation gain.  There are some water stops along the way, so you don't have to carry 16-ish miles worth on you.  The finishing rate could be as low as 25%, so it wasn't going to be easy.
2) Self-Assessment
To do my best in Tahoe, I must assess my strengths and weaknesses, to capitalize on my strengths, and fix or mitigate my shortcomings.  
  • Strengths
    •  Endurance... not Ultra endurance, but low-mileage Marathoner endurance
    • I can go without water or food pretty well. 
  • Weaknesses
    •  Double Obstacles.  Sometimes, they make even a single lap of the Ultrabeast harder than normal Beasts, obstacle-wise, by doubling every obstacle.  Two giant walls in a row, carry double the sandbags at one time.  I'm not the best on obstacles and can barely get through some of them a single time, so this one does intimidate me. 
    • Even single obstacles... my friend said that I should try out for American Ninja Warrior after seeing some Spartan Race pics of me, but I laughed as I explained that I don't have much upper body strength and don't have a good vertical leap, and she agreed that I may be a lost cause there, haha.  I am improving, though, little-by-little.  I think I'm the strongest I've ever been right now, thanks to the Deez Nutz HH-080 Class WODs, although I still have a long, long way to go.
  • Both (Strength and Weakness)
    • In normal running races, I consider pacing to be one of my strengths.  If I don't do even-ish or negative splits, my positive splits are usually not too bad.  The one exception was in the 2015 ATL Battlefrog BFX, though, where I did about 20 miles in 7 hours and could barely, barely even walk in the last couple of miles... rolling sideways might've been faster than the walk I was attempting.  I bonked.  I had gone out at my easy long run pace, but my longest long runs had been only a little over three hours long, and without obstacles.  I'll need to make sure to rein it in in Tahoe.  It may help to be forced to walk up most of the 8-mile hill.  We'll see.  I need to be careful, though.  
    • Hills.  In general, I'm not as good at hills as others.  To me, any slight incline is a "hill".  When I first moved to Charlotte and started running the trails at the Whitewater Center, I remarked how strong some of the other racers there were... they were hardened trail runners.  Then, I visited Colorado and met real mountains... the people there do Flatirons and 14ers as weekend activities!  How do I compete with them?  I walk when others run and get passed.  I did much better than others up the multi-mile hill in Asheville, though, which gives me hope.  Maybe my endurance and engine will win out. 
    • I do like cold... my usual motto for races is "the colder the better".  This has only applied to running races, though.  Water and mud obstacles completely change the game.  Also, I'm from the Carolinas.  My cold is probably different from Northern/Mountain cold.   
    • I'm born and bred Sea Level.   On the plus side, I felt pretty good hiking a 14er at Gray's Peak... it was easier the second time this year than when I did it back in 2009.  
 3) Training

The Delicate Balance
Training is such a delicate balance between pushing yourself hard and not pushing yourself to injury.  I have been going about 7.5 years without injury, which I'm so grateful for.  Weekly strength sessions to keep muscles in balance (with suggestions from a PT friend that I've continued to follow for 7 years) and learning from past mistakes about not pushing myself too hard (did a 12-minute wall sit back in high school to help with soccer, and my knees have never been the same since... in early college days, I used to try to PR at every training run, too... not a good idea) have been very helpful in that. One thing that I had regretted as I prepared for the HH12HR was that I didn't start earlier.  After you take away the last 2 weeks for tapering, that left me less time than I had hoped for, to really drive in training.  Gotta get ready early.

The Checkpoint/Rehearsal
I must admit I like collecting cool medals.  I don't have a Spartan Military Sprint medal yet, so I signed up for it.  It's three weeks out from Tahoe, which give enough time to recover.  It'll give me some event-specific training (obstacles), and it will help me test out gear, too.  I wanted to somewhat "train through" it, because my end-game is the UB, not the Sprint, but as I got closer to the Sprint, I decided to taper and not continue to drill in the training.  I didn't want to show up on the starting line and not perform.  I know there's controversy around having people who aren't super fast running in the elite heat, but in the womens' races, there's still plenty of space in the womens' elite heat, I'm pretty sure I don't get in anyone's way on the course, and I like running in that heat, so I do it.  And since I am doing it, I want to give it my reasonable best. If I still have lots of energy and body durability after the race, I guess I can make up for the mini-taper then.

Nutrition
I like to try craft beers every now and then, but for the 6 weeks, I decided to abstain.  Shalane Flannagan avoided it in her marathon prep so that her sleep and recovery wouldn't be negatively impacted, so I will, too.  My nutrition isn't really changing.  Whole grains, low-fat or skim dairy products, eggs, fruits and veg, dark chocolate, peanut butter, and less healthy treats (potato chips and vegan cookies).  The only time I really eat meat is when I eat at a restaurant and don't have to make the food myself, which is rare, in which case my recent favorite is BBQ Pork. I did start having workouts at the gym that were long enough that I did start getting hungry enough to want to go home, so I learned that I needed to start bringing food with me.

Workouts
  • Tuesday, August 23: 1st run after the HH12HR.  7.0 in 58:42, 8:23 ave, at 2 degrees of incline = 8:02 effort.  Rucked 1 mile round trip to the fitness room.  Ran while watching Spartan Race coverage, which was awesome.
  • Friday, August 26: Deez Nutz WOD strength session.  
    • Ruck: 1 mile
    • Plank: 4+3+3 min
    • Sit-ups: 305+95
    • Lunges: 75
    • Flutter Kicks: 50+40+40+30
    • Push-ups: 25+25
    • Squats: 100
    • Mt. Climbers: 100
  • Saturday, August 27: Trail run at the US National Whitewater Center to help with race specificity.  This doubled as a virtual race to celebrate the National Park Service's 100th anniversary.  13.1 in 2:14:12, 10:15 average.  No Tahoe-style elevation changes here in the Carolinas... I got in 430 feet of elevation gain... 1/20th of Tahoe, haha.  Oh, my.  I was excited that the four trails that I randomly strung together happened to very nearly 13.1 miles on the dot.  Did it with no water and 2/3 of a 100-cal mini Clif bar. I do pre-load with water, so that I don't have to carry water with me.  I will carry water with me in Tahoe, partly because it's mandatory, and partly because I will need and use it, but I do want to not be dependent on it.  I don't plan to use a hydration bladder, since I've never practiced with it before.  Nalgenes are simpler for me to manage.  Later that day, after a whitewater rafting session and a bit of rock climbing, I did a 1-hr stationary bike session, plus the 1 mile ruck.  I was soooo excited about the UB and pumped for training that day, haha.  That day was so great... a taste of the training life. 
  • Monday, August 29: Time for some hill training on the treadmill.  I started off thinking I'd do a 15 degree incline, but the angle was too much for my ankles to feel good about, so I backed it off to 10 degrees.  I alternated 1 mile sans ruck with 0.5 mile with the ruck, for 3 sets.  4.5 mi in 1:04:20, 14:18 average.  My hill conversion chart doesn't list paces that slow, so I don't know what the equivalent flat-land effort would be.  I still had energy and enough leg integrity afterwards, so I did a 1hr bike session, both to get in a wee bit more cardio, but moreso to rack up more miles for the Amerithon challenge
  • Tuesday, August 30: Deez Nutz WOD
    • Ruck: 1 mi
    • Plank: 4 + 3 min 
    • Flutter: 45+35+55+45 = 180
    • Lunges: 60+100
    • Sit-ups: 405
    • Squats: 125
    • Burpees: 60
    • Mt Climbers: 100
    • Push-ups: 20+20
    • Plus ~ 5 min trying out a knock-off TRX for the first time.  I considered stationary biking, too, but I was hungry (decided that I need to bring food with me to the gym in the future), and it was getting late.
  • Thursday, September 1: Normal run... don't want to lose the ability to run a decent normal run, in the midst of the other kinds of training.  8.0 in 1:07:48, 8:29 average, 2 degrees of incline = 8:07 effort.  I let the pace float.  I had to start slower than usual (6.7mph vs. 7.0mph), but I finally started warming up and feeling more normal at around mile 6.  Got hungry, too, which could be caused by the training, or hormones, or other stuff.  Glad I brought my Clif Builder's Bar for afterwards, having learned from previous gym sessions where I hadn't brought anything.
  • Saturday, September 3: Trail run... wanted a longer one.  I figured that I'd have 2 shots at longer runs... one a week before the Ft. Bragg Spartan Sprint, and another the week after Ft. Bragg.  The Whitewater Center's trails were closed that day, which was a day after the hurricane brought rains to our area.  It was a good excuse for me to branch out and go to Crowder's Mountain, where I got in 17.0 miles in 4:02:48, 14:17 ave, with 2,765 ft of elevation gain.  I normally stop my watch on traditional long runs when I have to stop to tie shoe laces and stuff like that, to get an idea of true pace.  But here, when I got a bit lost at the summit of Pinnacle Mountain or was exploring or re-filling my mini-bottle from my Nalgene, I decided to let my watch continue running, to better mimic time spent on obstacles.  I didn't do burpees or anything like that during the run, though... I'm not that specific about my training at this point in my OCR "career".  I did see a fellow trail runner with a Spartan Trifecta tee, though, which was pretty cool.  By the way, the max elevation of my run was 1,564 ft... it's hard to imagine that it was only about a tenth of 14ers.  The run was hard, and it blows my mind that it's only half the distance of the Ultrabeast, 1/4 the elevation gain, and obstacle-free.  Doing this twice, at twice the elevation plus all of the obstacles... hard to imagine. 
  • Monday, September 5: Deez Nutz WOD
    • Sit-ups: 100+70
    • Plank: 3+2.5+2 = 7.5
    • Lunges: 300 (in 30 min)... after maybe messing up my knees a bit in HS, I've lacked the confidence to do lunges except when forced to, but I've recently gained that confidence back through the WOD and the HH12HR, so this was a record for me.
    • Push-ups: 20+30
    • Flutter: 65+60+40 = 165
    • J-Jacks: 150+150
    • Squats: 330
  • Tuesday, September 6: One hour on the Recumbent bike, while watching Youtube videos of Tahoe Beasts & UltraBeasts.   Didn't push too hard.  Trying to visualize and learn from the videos.  No way I could've run today, with the shape my legs were in after the WOD the previous day.
  • Wednesday, September 7: Hill training.  If I was 100% tapering for the Ft. Bragg Sprint, I wouldn't have done hills the week of the race, since I'm not really used to hill work.  Since hills are not a strong point for me, I need to work on it, though.   I did a milder 7 degree incline run (as opposed to the previous 10 degree mostly walk but tiny spurts of running from the previous week), with 6 miles in 58:30, 9:45 average,7 degrees of incline = 7:42 effort.  I started at 6mph and stayed there most of the time, but built up to 7mph towards the very end.  This workout was easier than expected, and a confidence-builder.  1 bottle of H2O was necessary.  The next two days, I felt good enough to have biked and/or run, but I held it back.  So tempting to go out, but I want to be tapered for Ft. Bragg.

NORMAL LIFE/FUN IN THE MEANTIME
  • Exploring churches in a city you've just moved to is interesting.  It makes you think about what's most important.  The variety that's out there has amazed me.  
  • One of my cousins and his parents visited from Taiwan!  It was fun to show him my city and Southern BBQ.
  • Tried to go fishing for crabs in a creek with my dad.  All we ended up doing was feed the crabs with our bait.