Saturday, January 6, 2018

2017 Year in Review

I didn't write a 2016 year in review because honestly, I was a little depressed. To address the elephant in the room first, I'm not going to write a 2016 review, but I will say why I was upset, because it sets up 2017. Climbing Mt. Everest was pretty great, but I did it sucking bottled oxygen, and for the seven years leading up to Everest 2016 (since 2009 in Pakistan) I planned to do it without oxygen, and that was definitely a buzz kill. I've got to be one of maybe 200 people in the world that climbs Mt. Everest and is disappointed how easy it is. On top of that, I kind of failed at my 24 hour race in September and did a lot of soul searching in September and October 2016 about whether I would even continue running. Unfortunately I partly define myself by what I do, and that includes running, and I didn't really have a great race in 2015 or 2016 and that was really hard mentally. Plus, as much as I like my job, it is pretty awesome, I am, and have been, struggling to live in the middle of nowhere.

Enter 2017... I'll skip around and keep this shorter than 2014...

Running actually went quite well. I ran four races, a half marathon, a 100k, a 15k and a 24 hour race. The half marathon I won by like three minutes, the 100k I became the 2nd person at the USATF championships with a 7:10:42, which is 6:56 pace. I slowed quite a bit the last 30k, but overall, it went quite well. My training was not even that great leading up to the race, good, but not great. My 15k I went into with a little knot in my hip, and that made it worse of course, but I recovered, thanks in part to a massage therapist. Then two weeks out from my 24 hour I had a little hip issue, and then in my 24 hour race I went out too fast in the heat of the afternoon, and got into the cycle of crashing and recovering, which is not nearly as effective as consistently eating and slowly running. The best part is that I had a great training cycle leading into it, and I attempted to set the American record. It's the first time I've ever attempted something so grandiose, and it was an honor to think I even had the chance. Stepping to the line thinking that 160 miles is "nothing" is a mental place that I quite enjoyed.  I realize how limited my time on Earth and my time to attempt these records is, so every chance to make the attempt is quite valuable.

Small town living has been quite the struggle. I went to Colorado six times this year! My house was robbed. The local coffee shop is not open Sundays. I went out this past week with my sister's friends, who I had never met before, and who I have no idea that I will ever see again. We discussed our jobs, and location came up. I remember a scholar's bowl question from high school that my friend that went to MIT got right, "What are the three Ls of real estate?" The answer, "Location, Location, Location." I remember looking at him like he just spoke Urdu. Now, at age 31, I get it.

I grocery shop at War-Mart. It's actually not that bad, they have eight flavors of hummus, organic vegetables, and decent salmon. Fortunately there are some trails about seven miles away from my house to run on, and there are few sidewalks, so I end up on the road with drivers who don't know what to do with a runner. Bicycling is even more dangerous as I end up on roads where people drive 70 miles an hour, and there are no hills or mountains to ascend.

Taking flight lessons has been quite the adventure. If you want to get your private pilot's license here are my recommendations:

  1. Do it as quickly as you can, like take a month of vacation and fly every day.
  2. Have a plan, and specifically a plane, that you will be able to fly after getting your license. Many people get their license, and then lapse, or become non-current within a year.
I soloed, I've done cross countries, and I've practiced IFR flying, and I like it all. Except spins, or anything close to a spin, that's pretty terrifying. I'll be trying to finish that as quickly as I can in 2018. 

Financially this was the best year I have had! My income was actually a little less than 2016 due to a moving bonus in 2016, however compound interest is starting to work for me, and the stock market went up something like 23% in 2017. The biggest thing is, I paid off my student loans!!! I am so blessed to have what I do. My heart goes out to those in Rwanda, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, and Nepal that I have seen, and the billions more I have not seen, who will never have the chance to have the financial wealth that I do have, and the comfort that comes from that wealth. I mean, I fly airplanes for fun!

I had a great trip up to the Bugaboos with a good friend! Wow that was a blast! I would gladly go again! I also had six trips to Colorado and climbed something like 9 14ers this year! By the way the Ouray 50 and 100 are insane races! Super steep, more of a hike than a run.

On the dating scene, I didn't go on any dates in 2016, and I went on three in 2017, with two different women. I know that probably sounds pathetic to a lot of people, but I know what I'm looking for, and what I am not looking for, and for the better (I think) I can often tell in a few minutes that it isn't going to work between us, so why even go on a date? On the upside of that mildly depressing dating life: Umm... you never know... 2018 could be very different. There are many wonderful women in the world, and I'm just looking for one that I can share my life with and share in her life. 

I suppose I should mention work. I work on drivetrain design engineering, so gears, bearings, castings, forgings, heat treating and all of those things take time, which can be frustrating when you spend close to two year working on a project and you are still looking at another year before there are parts in production. A couple things I learned this year, I am a huge fan of tribology! It's the study of surfaces, lubrication, and wear. It's incredibly detailed and we often don't understand it, in fact I had an email conversation in 2017 with two Ph. D.s in my company trying to find a lambda value, and neither one was able to provide much help! Talk about a difficult subject! I learned I like statistics. I never studied it in college, but it's really interesting, and very applicable to my life. What is the chance I am injured or die on a mountain, or in any activity I do? Third, I took a big step forward in project management, leading people. I have two people that I delegate most of their work to them, even though I do not directly supervise either one. I really like the mentoring role. I don't have all the answers, but I'm not a bad teacher, plus both of the guys I work with are excellent! I mean really, sometimes I look at our little team of three and think, 'those guys don't need me.' Which is a good thought because it shows how strong of a little team we are.

In other work news I traveled to India for the first time and South Korea for the second time. I had a great time at both places, just not when my house was burglarized and over $5,000 of my belongings were stolen. I also made a trip to Mexico and a few trips to Iowa, although those are more like going home than an actual business trip. I also had two weeks of training in Colorado, and yes, I about cried both times when I got on the plane to return to Kansas. 

What is ahead for 2018? 
  • Finish my pilot's license.
  • Build up my emergency fund which suffered due to replacing the items from my break in and paying off my student loans.
  • Get healthy, I have a little behind the knee tendon/calf issue right now.
  • I'm debating an expedition...

Friday, December 29, 2017

I Soloed an Airplane Today!!

After something like 30 hours, in two planes, with two instructors, over more than a year, I finally flew a plane without anyone else in it! Not only did I not die, I actually had three good landings! Without anyone else to touch the controls it actually flew a little easier than with two people touching the controls.

Woohoo!!! Next up, finish up my private pilot license!

My Shirt Being Cut Apart!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Desert Solstice 2017: Training and Preparation

There are so many things that could go wrong in an ultra, and have gone wrong for me in ultras so I approached this race with a thoroughness and detailed plan beyond what I have ever bothered to put in writing. Back when I was in high school my cross country and track coach would write out the workouts for the whole season and post them outside the locker room. We knew from the beginning what was expected of us. As I got into college, and then coached in college, there are quite a few people that get intimidated by a three month long schedule so workouts were usually shared daily or weekly. Personally that frustrates me to not know the arc of the season, so I like seeing the whole schedule laid out. 

Back in July, I wrote out a schedule for myself to get ready for this race. Here is my training plan:

Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
9-Jul
long recovery
3x mile at 5:40, 400 in 2:00 rest
short recovery
long recovery
20 min HMP tempo
short recovery
Medium Long Run
16-Jul
long recovery
15x short hills
long recovery
short recovery
15x200 at 34-38 with 200m jog rest
short recovery
Medium Long Run
23-Jul
long recovery
12x400, maybe with Jake
long recovery
10k tempo at MP
long recovery
recovery/ Drive to Colorado
Drive into mountains/ Bierstadt
30-Jul
Yale/ Columbia
Yale/ Columbia
Capitol normal route
black canyon climbing?
Lizard Head Peak
short recovery
Pace Jeremy in Ouray
6-Aug
recovery/ Drive back to KS
short recovery
4x mile at 5:30
long recovery
15x short hills
long recovery
Medium Long Run
13-Aug
long recovery
15x200 at 34-38 with 200m jog rest
long recovery
11k of 1k 4:00/ 1k 3:30
long recovery
long recovery
Medium Long Run
20-Aug
long recovery
off
8 mile tempo at medium pace
short recovery
12x400 in 75, 200 jog rest
long recovery
Long Run
27-Aug
long recovery
long recovery
Medium Long Run
13k of 1k 4:00/ 1k 3:30
long recovery
recovery/ Drive to Colorado?
Colorado?
3-Sep
Colorado?
Colorado?
9 mile tempo at medium pace
long recovery
4x mile in 5:30, 400 jog rest
long recovery
28 mile Elk City Lake trail run
10-Sep
long recovery
15x short hills
long recovery
15k of 1k 3:55/ 1k 3:30
short recovery
long recovery
Long Run 20+ at 6:55 with pace variation
17-Sep
long recovery
off
10 mile tempo at medium pace
long recovery
6k HMP tempo
long recovery
Long Run 20+ at 6:55 with pace variation
24-Sep
Medium Long Run
long recovery
long recovery
15k of 1k 3:45/ 1k 3:30
long recovery
long recovery
FlatRock 50k
1-Oct
short recovery
off
10 mile tempo at medium pace
long recovery
5x mile in 5:30, 400 jog rest
long recovery
Long Run 20+ at 6:45 with pace variation
8-Oct
Medium Long Run
12x400 in 75, 200 jog rest
long recovery
17k of 1k 3:45/ 1k 3:30
long recovery
long recovery
28 mile Elk City Lake trail run
15-Oct
long recovery
off
12 mile tempo at medium pace
long recovery
20x200 at 33-37, 200 jog rest
long recovery
Long Run 20+ at 6:45
22-Oct
18-28 mile Elk City Trail Run
6x mile at 5:30, 400 in 1:45 rest
long recovery
19k of 1k 3:45/ 1k 3:30
long recovery
long recovery
Tulsa Run 15k + Medium Long run
29-Oct
long recovery
off
HM tempo at medium pace
long recovery
8k at HMP tempo
long recovery
Long Run 20+ at 6:45 with pace variation
5-Nov
18-28 mile Elk City Trail Run
Long Run
long recovery
21k of 1k 3:45/ 1k 3:30
long recovery
long recovery
Long Run 20+ at 6:45
12-Nov
long recovery
off
long recovery
6x mile at 5:20 with 400 meter jog
long recovery
long recovery
short recovery
19-Nov
Route 66 Marathon
long recovery
8x400 in 75, 200 jog rest
long recovery
HM tempo at medium pace
long recovery
Long Run 20+ at 6:30 with pace variation or 28 mile trail run
26-Nov
long recovery
off
long recovery
6k HMP tempo
long recovery
long recovery
15 miles at 6:45 with pace variation
3-Dec
long recovery
short recovery
6k tempo at MP
short recovery
short recovery
short recovery
Race!
10-Dec
Race!
off
off
off
off
off
off

Hard Long Run
20-30 mi; 5:55-6:30


Medium Pace
MP+3-10%


Moderate LR
20-24 mi; 6:30-59


Marathon Pace (MP)



Long Run
18+ miles, X<7:30 font="" pace="">


Half Pace (HMP)
MP-3-6%


Medium LR
14-17 mi or X>100 min


Short Recovery
X<60 font="" minutes="">






Long Recovery
60


Here is my actual training:

Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
9 Jul
off
off
off - recovering form Bugaboos
33m
33m
32m
1h 29m
16-Jul
53m
25m
48m
50m
57m
33m
48 min, 27 min
23-Jul
10x short hills, total 4.8 miles
31m
8x400 in 81, 400 jog rest total 8.1 miles
1h 4m
off
58m
Bierstadt 7.5 miles
30-Jul
Princeton 12.3 miles
off
Columbia and Harvard 21.5 miles
Mt. Yale 9.2 miles
Mt. Shavano 12.5 miles
Mt Antero 15.5 miles (KOM Strava descent!)
Pace Jeremy in Ouray 50 mile, 6.6 miles in 3:42
6-Aug
off
off
48m
off
51m
1h 9m
15 miles at 7:30
13-Aug
56m
off
15x200 at 36-37 with 200m jog rest total 10.3 miles
49m
7k of 4:00/3:35 total 9.6 miles, 34 min
56m
73 min, 63 min
20-Aug
76 min, 24 min
off
10k progression run in 39:30
57m
1h 18m
47m
15.7 miles at 7:39
27-Aug
off
41m
41m
24m
49m
32m
hiking 2 hours
3-Sep
1h 1m
Korea - off
33m
50m
46m
off
1h 46m
10-Sep
off
off - tired from Korea and India and broken house
31m
5k of 4:00/3:40 total 10.7 miles
1h 5m
48m
20 miles at 7:23
17-Sep
1h 20m
46 min, 39 min
57m
19:43 5k total  9 miles, 30 min pm
56 min, 33 min
1h 10m
22.4 miles including 2.8 mile race in 16:40
24-Sep
1h 7m
36 min, 59 min
35 min, 48 min
28 min, 46 min
off
part of pikes peak 92 min
21 miles at 7:40
1-Oct
1h 35m
1h 6m
52m
24m
57m
1h 18m
20.1 miles at 7:36
8-Oct
1h 44m
10x400 in 76, 45 s walking rest, total 10.7 miles
1h 45m
7k of 3:45/3:30, total 12 miles
26 min, 104 min
1h 34m
20.2 miles at 7:42 pace, 51 min
15-Oct
1h 43m
8k in 29:44 on the track, total 13.2 miles
1h 12m
mile in 5:34, 1200 in 4:05, 800 in 2:40, 400 in 76, 400 jog rest, total 10.5 miles
52m
58 min, 78 min
off, spent the day rock climbing
22-Oct
climbed a 14er in Colorado, 65 min in pm
36 min, 67 min
73 min, 25 min
5x400 in 82 on trails at altitude, 5x160 in 30 total 10.7 miles
off
32m
Tulsa Run 15k in 55 min + injury
29-Oct
off
54m
1h 5m
46m
off
1h 35m
31 min, 94 min
5-Nov
20.4 miles at 6:51 pace, 33 min
1h 47m
1h 36m
65 min, 25 min
21k of 1k 3:54/ 1k 3:38
34 min, 83 min
20.1 miles at 7:10, pm 42 min
12 Nov
1h 46m
off
1h 46m
2x mile at 5:50, 2x800 at 2:54, total 10.6 miles
51m
1h 35m
33 min, 81 min
19-Nov
solo marathon in 2:58, tot 30.6 miles
1h 20m
8x400 in 81, 400 jog rest tot 11 miles, 28 min in morning 
48 min, 36 min
51 min, 85 min
43 min, 74 min
56m
26-Nov
1h 4m
off
31m
35m
41m
47m
48m
3-Dec
1h 38m
53m
35m
44m
35m
27m
Race!
10-Dec
Race!
off
off
off
off
off
off

Overall, it went quite well. Between the Bugaboos, my India and Korea trip, and a week in Colorado my training didn't quite go as planned. I had much less speed than I anticipated. I mean, when I expected to be able to click off 5:30 miles, it never really happened. Partly because of the warm weather in southern Kansas, partly because I don't really put in the effort to work on my speed like I used to when I was training for the 10k and shorter. 

I am very excited I had a 100, 112 and 120 mile week, which is a good level, I think over 110 is probably a little much, but mentally it feels so good, and I do recovery quite quickly when I am training at that volume. 

The plan was to do a trail 50k, a marathon and a 15k in the build up, but I ended up only doing the 15k because I didn't really feel fit enough for the other two. 

Unfortunately I did far fewer workouts, like tempos and track workouts, than I planned. For example, on my India and Korea trip I basically went three weeks without a formal workout. I more or less failed at mile repeats. I had quite a few on the schedule and none of them really happened. Ugh, it's a struggle to run 5:30 pace! My favorite workout is alternating kilometers roughly 5s/k faster than marathon pace, and recoveries at 10s/k slower than marathon pace, and because of the heat I only had that workout go really well once, with another time it went okay. Also worth mentioning it was 57F and dark when that workout went well. 

All of my long runs were 7:20+ pace until November, when they finally went more like what I had hoped. Running in Dubuque was a much different challenge than running in Independence, KS. In Dubuque there are maybe six weeks were the temperatures are too hot to do workouts or fast long runs, but where I live now, that's more like three or four months. October still have humid 80F days! I did not realize how much the temperature matters to my running until I tried to run through these last two summers. 

The highlight workouts are November 9th and 19th. Those were clearly my best two workouts. While many of the other workouts weren't that good, doing 20 miles sub 7 pace, or an 8k sub 6 pace is still a solid workout. 

The only thing I would really change would be to add in long medium pace tempos, or at least actually do the ones I planned. I did several 10+ mile tempos at 6:15 pace or so before North Coast 24 in 2014 and because I was tired, lazy, or because of the heat, I didn't do any this time. The longest plain tempo was 10k. There was also essentially no pace variation in my long runs. In other words, no marathon pace or medium pace running the second half of my 20 milers. 

Hopefully this will help others get an idea of what goes into a 24 hour race, and what generally works for me.