Category: Ultras

Palo Duro Trail Run 2012: Start Videos

Here are two short videos Michael took at the start of the Palo Duro Trail Run 2012. The first is of the 50 kilometer and 50 mile race start, the second of the 20 kilometer start. It takes a minute or so for the runners to make it over to the cameras.



50M Training, Week 1: Recovery Week from Palo Duro 50K

The first few days after a long distance race are nice. You can sit back and revel in your accomplishment, bask in the happy afterglow of a job well done, and reward yourself with rest, good food, and memories of the event. Then by the end of the week you may start to feel the urge to get outdoors and run again. At least, that’s how it usually goes for me.

I generally seem to be able to run a few miles by Wednesday or Thursday after a marathon, and by Saturday I’m good to go for a longer distance. This time, after running a 50K for the first time, the recovery time has definitely been longer. My quads took the brunt of the race and they have not been bouncing back as quickly as I expected. Patience is not always one of my strengths, so giving them the time they need to recover has been a challenging lesson.

MON: Rest Day – Quads are very sore from Saturday’s 50K race in Palo Duro Canyon, though they feel better than after any marathon I’ve run. Going to enjoy my day of sloth and do nothing athletic.

TUE: Walk – 2 mi, Yoga (20:00) – Legs felt much better today, though the quads are still sore. Did some yoga in the late afternoon (hip openers), then took Nevada for a 2 mile walk, hoping to run most of it. Ha! I couldn’t even run a block! The quads definitely need another day of rest. On another note, I can’t help but wonder why it’s so warm and humid when it’s the end of October??? Oh, right, we live in Texas.

WED: Yoga (20:00)  – Quads felt even better this morning, so I started the day with some easy yoga but decided to put off running for another day.

THU: Rest Day – Decided to take a complete rest day and do nothing athletic. My quads are taking longer to recover than I expected. Even though my legs feel better than after a marathon, the soreness in my quads seems to go deeper than usual–if that makes sense.

FRI: Run – 3.1 mi, Yoga (20:00) – Met Todd at 6:00am for an easy 3 mile run at the lake. I’m amazed that my quads are still sore. I was able to run, and keep an easy pace, but I’m not where I expected to be six days after the race. This has definitely been the most recovery I’ve ever needed after a race, which I guess is only fitting since it’s also my longest distance. I think my age is also showing, because Hari has already been running for days, but it could also partly be due to the two weeks of no running just before the race. This is a good reminder that I need to do more squats, lunges, and strength training to get in shape for the 50 miler. On a brighter note, loving the cold front that blew in last night and the 49 degrees for our run this morning.

SAT: Run – 4 mi – Quads are slowly coming back. Susan and Hari met at my house at 6:30 and we ran to the top of the Katy Trail for the 13.1 Marathon WRRC water stop. It was cold! I ran with my down jacket tied around my waist and my water backpack (sans water) stuffed with extra gloves and track pants. Toes and fingers were freezing all morning. After the race, we de-layered and ran back down the Katy Trail and across Knox/Henderson to the house. We must have looked like we were coming back from an arctic expedition.

Erwin Park, McKinney Run

Susan and Me at Erwin Park, photo by Hari Garimella

SUN: Trail Run – 8.25 mi – Ran at Erwin Park in McKinney with Susan and Hari. Started at 7:30am with frost on the ground. The temperature and weather couldn’t have been more perfect. THIS is what we dreamed of all summer when it was in the upper 90’s with 80% humidity. Despite the great weather and nice trails, I felt sleepy and my quads were still stiff and sore. I looked forward to trail running all week, so it was disappointing to feel so sluggish. Overall, I just felt tired. Maybe it’s residual tiredness from the 50K a week ago, or three days straight of getting up early and not getting enough sleep, or the music from the party across the alley–or a combination of all of the above. Whatever the reason, I was happy to only run 8.25 miles. Sadly, my happy afterglow from the race seems to have finally worn off. Back to a new training plan and life in general.

STATS for WEEK 1: Run – 15.2 miles, Walk – 2 miles, Yoga – 1:00:00


Palo Duro Trail Run 2012: Race Photos

For anyone who ran the race last weekend, or is interested in seeing what it was like, here is the link to all the photos Michael took. He has photos of the 20K, 50K, and 50M runners on various places on the course.

Palo Duro Trail Run 2012

Click here to view the full collection of Palo Duro Trail Run 2012 photos.

PALO DURO TRAIL RUN 2012: My First 50K

This post has been published in the March/April 2014 issue of the running magazine Marathon and Beyond. If you haven’t subscribed already, you’re missing out!

Palo Duro Trail Run – 2012: Photos and Video Coming Soon

We have awesome video and lots more photos of the race to share with everyone. Please check back shortly!

Palo Duro Trail Run 2012

Palo Duro Trail Run 2012

Palo Duro Canyon Trail Run 2012

Palo Duro Canyon Trail Run 2012

Palo Duro Trail Run 2012

Palo Duro Trail Run 2012

You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

I ran for three years before I had any desire to run a marathon. I thought people who ran 26 miles were crazy. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why anyone would want to put themselves through that much pain.

Six marathons later, I’m training for a 50K.

Training for a marathon and a 50K trail race are similar, but there are differences. I’m new to trail running, and it’s definitely not the same as running on pavement. Other than the obvious difference of concrete versus dirt (and roots, rocks, and stumps), I’ve been surprised to discover a few things I’ve never experienced in marathon training.

Lake Grapevine

Run, don’t walk:

The biggest surprise happened this past Sunday, when my friend Hari and I ran 23 miles on trails. We started slower than usual. Complete darkness, no moon, and huge spiderwebs–with spiders–spanning the trail forced us to slow down. Later on we took walk breaks and walked the steeper uphills. The last few miles of the run, when I was bone tired, I was surprised to discover something I had never experienced before.

For the first time ever, even when I was exhausted and ready to be done, running actually felt easier and less painful than walking.

This was huge. My brain normally begs me to walk those last few miles of a 22 miler or a marathon–and walking feels good. This time I was not only able to start running again, it actually felt physically better. I’ve read about this from ultra-distance runners but never experienced it myself before Sunday.

Hari at Grapevine

Something salty, please:

I alternate drinking water and Gatorade in a race, but only because it’s there. I’ve never craved Gatorade in a race, even when it’s humid and warm, and I’ve never noticed it having any effect on my performance. On the trail, however, especially this summer in the extreme heat, Gatorade is like an elixir that brings me back to life. I keep it in a cooler with ice, and crave it’s salty sweetness until I get back to the car. It seems to make a difference in my running and energy level, so it must be replenishing my salt levels. Potato chips after a run are good, too, but not like an ice, cold Gatorade.

I’ll take dolmas with that pizza:

My stomach tends to shut down on both very long runs and marathons. I completely lose my appetite, so figuring out what to eat is a big concern of mine. On the trails, I’ve discovered that real food gives me much more energy, before and after the run, than GU’s, gels, and Honey Waffle Stingers. My best run so far was when I bought dolmas at the Greek pizzeria the night before and brought them on the run. They were easily digestible, tasted delicious, and seemed to give me much more energy. I had a sandwich after the run (my friend Susan’s post-run meal of choice) and felt great the rest of the evening.

Last week I didn’t bring real food and had the opposite experience. I ate only chocolate GU’s and Honey Waffle Stingers and could barely choke them down by the end of the run. I brought a sandwich for afterwards and barely made it through the first bite. Not eating enough made me feel sluggish and spent the rest of the day and evening.

Eating real food seems to give me the most energy, but it’s hard to force myself to eat when my appetite is gone. Maybe I should try pizza next time.

Rockledge Park, Lake Grapevine

Rainy days and trail runs always get me down:

I never “zone out” on my long trail runs like I do on the streets. I focus so intently on the trail, and on not tripping, that it’s mentally exhausting. My legs feel amazingly great the day after my Sunday long trail runs, but my mind seems to take a beating. My Mondays, and sometimes Tuesdays, too, can be kind of gloomy. I feel like I have nothing left in the tank. My first run on the road after a long trail run always feels so easy, mainly because I don’t have to concentrate so hard.

I have to wonder if this is also tied in with figuring out the best nutrition for these long runs, or if it’s nothing more than extreme tiredness. I know it’s common to feel somewhat down after a marathon, so I’m wondering if it’s a similar syndrome. Any post-marathon depression I might have experienced in the past was merely a result of accomplishing a goal, and feeling somewhat aimless until I jumped into training for the next race.

Running is running, right? One foot in front of the other and just keep moving. Not quite. It’s not that simple, and moving up to a new level is teaching me that this old dog still has a lot of new tricks to learn.

Trail Running at Grapevine

50K Training, Week 10

Halfway through the training plan! The stomach virus that made last week’s trail run so tough hung on for most of the week, but by the weekend I felt great. It was a good running week, and we were rewarded with especially cool temperatures on Saturday.

MON: REST DAY – I am so glad it’s a rest day. Yesterday’s 20 mile trail run was the toughest run yet. Stomach virus continues to hang on. Quads and calves very sore today.

TUE: Run – 4 mi/treadmill – I seriously considered taking another rest day because of my sore muscles, but decided to run on the treadmill at the gym and stick with the training plan. I kept the pace very slow and easy, and took a few short walking breaks. I think it actually helped. My legs felt less sore by the afternoon. I was still feeling weak and tired from the stomach virus and did no strength or yoga workouts.

WED: Run – 9 mi, Strength (upper body) – 20:00, Yoga (forward bends and twists) – 40:00 – Ran a loop around the lake with Hari, who was also feeling sore from Sunday’s trail run. It was incredibly warm and humid at 5:30am (84 deg with 65% humidity) and was a tough run. It’s getting harder and harder to stay positive about the heat. Felt good enough to do some arm weights, then later in the afternoon two short yoga sessions–which felt great. Still feeling tired from the stomach virus, though a two hour nap in the afternoon helped.

THU: Run – 3 mi/hills, Yoga (back bends)- 20:00 – After some rain last night, the temperature was 12 degrees warmer this morning than yesterday. What a treat! It was still very humid, but it’s good to be reminded what a difference running when it’s in the 70’s can be. I was starting to feel disheartened from the heat. Did 20:00 of yoga later in the day.

FRI: Yoga (back bends) – 20:00 – Running rest day – I always look forward to my Friday rest day! Did some easy yoga in the morning and enjoyed the rest of the day off. Looks like it may be nice and cool for tomorrow’s 10 miler. Sunday is another story, however . . .

SAT: Run – 10.5 mi – 74 degrees at the start and it remained cool the entire run. What a great run! Kept a 9:12 pace, which is the best I’ve run all season. I may pay the price on tomorrow’s 22 miler, but today I felt great. I needed a good run!

Legacy Parks

Hari, me, and Susan after the first of three loops

SUN: Trail Run -21.5 mi – River Legacy, Arlington – Another brutally hot, long trail run. Started out at 84 degrees at 6am, with 41% humidity (it felt more humid), and was around 99 degrees when we finished. Hari fell for the first time ever on the trails, but did no damage. Susan and I both fell twice. We loved the flatness of the trail, but there were a lot of stumps that tripped us up.

I definitely felt the effects of running too fast the day before, and what started out as a small nagging hurt around my left achilles traveled up my calf and turned into pain bad enough to cause me to limp by the end of the run. I hope it’s nothing more than a little tendonitis and will apply RICE this afternoon and tomorrow. I made the executive decision to not take the last loop and cut the run short by .5 miles. Since I ran an extra half mile the day before, I was fine with that. I’m just hoping I haven’t sabotaged the rest of this week’s training by not stopping earlier.

Except for the pain in my leg, I feel much less fatigued than in the past after a long trail run. I think drinking Gatorade on our breaks and eating real food immediately after the run (half a salami and cheese sandwich and a few dolmas) made a huge difference. Had two brisket tacos and some rice for lunch, then quinoa with stir-fried veggies and ground pork, and I felt much less fuzzy-headed than in the past.

And it only took me six years to figure this out!

Fun Town

STATS for Week 10: Run – 48 miles, Strength – 1 upper body workout, Yoga – 3 workouts @ 1:20:00

50K Training, Week 9

Vacation’s over, time to get back on track with the training!

MON: Travel day – After spending the night in Ogalalla, spent the day driving through Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

TUE: Run – 6 mi/treadmill, strength workout – Because of getting in late last night, and the extreme heat outside, did the unthinkable and ran on the treadmill at the gym. Anyone who knows me knows how much I detest the treadmill, but surprise surprise, it wasn’t all that bad. I think I was just happy to be running again after my time off in Wyoming. I felt so good I even ran an extra 2 miles. Did some upper body weights afterwards, and a bit of squats and lunges, being careful not to be overzealous.

WED: Run – 6 mi/hills, yoga (forward bends)- 20:00 – Ran the hilly path with Hari at the lake, which was overtaken by mosquitoes and gnats. My face felt like the windshield of a car. I was really looking forward to a yoga session afterwards since I did no yoga at all on the trip (except for some silly yoga poses on a hike with my daughter).

THU: Run – 2 mi/treadmill, strength workout – Left quad was feeling very sore, so I decided to do a very slow, easy run on the treadmill at the gym. Came home and did an upper body weight workout. I’m hoping my quad will be up for the 20 miler on Sunday.

FRI: Yoga (back bends) – 20:00 – Running rest day – Quad feels a little better, but still sore. Yoga felt great.

SAT: Run – 8 mi – Met the group for our first day of “official” marathon training, despite the fact that I’ve already been training for 9 weeks. Kept the pace nice and easy because of both the sore quad and tomorrow’s 20 mile trail run. Felt nauseous after the first three miles, probably because of acclimating to the heat after the trip to Wyoming, which meant I had to forgo my usual breakfast beer. Yes, folks, that’s how we recover here in Texas.

SUN: Trail Run -20 mi – Grapevine – There was nothing pretty about today’s run. There wasn’t even anything cute about it. 20 milers are always tough, but running 20 miles on a trail can be brutal. It was our hottest run yet, with a starting temp of 84 degrees at 6am and 64% humidity, and it was 97 degrees by the time we finished. The previous day’s nausea had turned into a full-blown stomach virus by late Saturday night, and I felt puny the entire run. At times, my stomach felt like it was full of needles. Not a pleasant way to put in 20 miles.

In hindsight, I probably should have shelved the idea of running 20 miles feeling as bad as I did. I had to walk the entire 2.2 mile last leg of the run. I simply had nothing left. I told Susan and Hari to run ahead without me, feeling bad all day for slowing them down, and they came back and met me on the trail with an ice cold Gatorade. I’m lucky to have such great running friends.

Tetons from the tent

This is where I wish I had been rather than on a hot Texas trail on Sunday.

STATS for WEEK 9: Run – 42 miles, Yoga – 40:00, 2 Core/Strength workouts

Reading My Way Through Training

I’m reading two books about ultrarunning. The first, Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich, is mostly about his run across America, in which he tries to average 70 miles per day. That’s more than two and a half marathons per day!

This is certainly a fascinating new world to me (because I’ll NEVER run across America).

I love to read about other people’s experiences with running, especially when they’re so different from my own.

Here are his Ten Commandments of Endurance, which any runner at any level can use:

  1. Expect a journey and a battle.
  2. Focus on the present and set intermediate goals.
  3. Don’t dwell on the negative.
  4. Transcend the physical.
  5. Accept your fate.
  6. Have confidence that you will succeed.
  7. Know that there will be an end.
  8. Suffering is okay.
  9. Be kind to yourself.
  10. Quitting is not an option.

The other book I’m reading, Running Through the Wall, compiled by Neal Jamison, is a gathering of various ultrarunners’ stories about ultras they have run. Here is a passage from the book that stood out to me:

In the process of completely exhausting myself, I connect with an inner part of me ordinarily veiled by the everyday distractions of life. During that short time spent on a trail in the mountains, my life is reduced to its simplest terms. Most ultrarunners are people who find goodness and joy in difficult times, who see beyond the misery to the beauty of nature, and who truly realize the elemental and important aspects of life.

(Keith Knipling)

Everyone has their reasons for becoming runners, and they may run long distances for completely different reasons. The reasons can change. I started running because I liked the challenge. I kept running because I fell in love with it. I continue to run long distances because of both the challenge and the love, but also because of the way it keeps everything so simple.

Move, breathe, sweat.

All I have to do is move my legs and keep going. Everything else is optional.

50K Training, Week 1

Our first official week of  ultra training is behind us. We’re off to a great start. I managed to run every single mile on the training plan, running 32 miles for the week, added two core/strength workouts to the plan, a little speedwork and some hills, and did five yoga sessions totaling two hours and twenty minutes.

I haven’t run 32 miles since last September 2011, so I’m pretty proud of myself. Most satisfying is that my legs feel great despite the mileage. I attribute this to yoga. After a hard run, or a lot of miles, 20-40 minutes of easy yoga does wonders.

My current favorite yoga DVD is A.M. Yoga for Your Week with Rodney Yee. It has five 20 minute sessions, each targeting a different area.

For post-run stretching, my favorite is the Forward Bends. It’s great for stretching the hamstrings, calves, and hips. The  Hip Openers segment is also great for runners.

I can’t say enough great things about doing yoga, especially for runners.

The toughest run by far this week was Sunday’s 12 miler. Our plan calls for back-to-back runs on Saturday/Sunday, something I’m not used to doing.

Saturday’s 6 miler at 6:30am was very humid and warm, and everyone in the group struggled. My six miles felt like 20.

On Sunday we started at 6am, and the temperature was already 74 degrees with 88% humidity. It was 81 degrees when we finished.

The heat is one thing, but high humidity is the worst.

We took walk breaks, and at the halfway point stopped off at a grocery store to fill up our water bottles with ice-cold water. Even though we weren’t running on a dirt trail, we worked on slowing down and taking breaks when needed.

Nothing beats seeing the sun come up on a long run.

We sweated buckets. And because Hari was in charge of the route, there was a hill at the end.

It was all worth it, though, because I got to run with two amazing runners. And best of all, Hari’s wife, Nirisha, had breakfast waiting for us when we were done.

I’m excited to hit the trails soon!

Here are the stats for the week:

MON: Yoga – 20:00
TUE: Run – 4 mi/incl speedwork + core/strength workout
WED: Run – 6 mi easy, Yoga – 40:00
THU: Run – 4 mi/hills, Yoga – 20:00
FRI: Core/strength workout, Yoga – 20:00
SAT: Run – 6 mi (9:22), Yoga – 20:00
SUN: Run – 12 mi, Yoga – 40:00