Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Terrapin Mountain 50k: Lesson learned

This past Saturday my family and I made our way to Sedalia Va. So I could run the Terrapin Mountain 50k and my wife could run the half marathon. As the race was approaching my nervousness was increasing. As you may have read, I ran the Arkansas held race the Sylamore 50k trail run and it went great I improved my time by almost 2 hours and post race was fantastic as far as walking and talking goes. The Sylamore 50k has an elevation gain of around 6000 feet but with no climbs higher than 1000 feet so it is up and down the whole way. I figured up and down what is the difference, I can run a 6:20 maybe a 6:40 cause of the elevation. Well,  Lesson learned.

Right before the gong
      The Terrapin starts promptly at 6am at the Sedalia center in Sedalia VA. At 5:30 I was crawling out of my skin for the sound of the gong (a signature start of the race by director Clark Zealand). I have not been that excited in all my runs. So once the gong was banged we were off at a nice respectable pace. We start out on road for about 1mile then turn right onto some gravel and begin the 2500 ft climb in just 3 short miles. This is where the mortals walk/run. So we did at a pretty good pace. My wife and I came into camping gap in about 1 hour on the dot, 10 minutes slower than I anticipated or guessed. You see I have never climbed that high in my running career, so 10 minutes wasn’t bothering me. We filled our bottles, kissed and off we went. She climbed another 1000++ feet and I went flying down 5 miles and 2500 feet of gravel road to the other side at Goff Mountain rd. I say flying because I made it down in 45 minutes, with 2 pee breaks and a bottle fill up before hitting the second aid station at the bottom.

At the Goff Mountain road aid station, my quads were obviously concerning me, having never done that before. I had some weird sensations in those puppies. Luckily for me we had to climb up again, so I could rely on other parts of the legs. As we started our accent up Goff mountain Rd, I had yet another scary thought, "if I walk this section it is going to take 12 hours, better yet if I walk all the hills I am certain to be left out here". So I followed a couple of guys in technique. Run from flag to flag then walk from flag to flag. It breaks up the monotony as he said and was working quite well. We jumped onto some single track after a while and I felt right at home. You see I am back in Maryland by way of Little Rock, were the stride is a little something like stride, stride, stride, hop, jump, stride, hop, you get the idea. In Little Rock once you master this you can be an accomplished runner. After a successful technical decent I was back at the horse trail aid station.

Now all I have to do is run back up to camping gap for 3.1 miles and something around 2000 feet, I think? Here we go from flag to flag. I met a guy at Goff Mountain Rd and we had been chatting off and on since then (I am pretty sure his name is Kenny) in conversation he mentioned that I was going to get tired of seeing camping gap. To be honest at the second visit, I wanted to kiss and hug the station, this feeling continued throughout the day.  It marked the next step and another step complete. Despite not agreeing with Kenny he provided me with some distraction and turned out to be great trail company. So if you’re reading Kenny, thanks for the trail company. I must be honest I made up a nickname for Kenny in my head strictly based on his hiking technique and skill. Every time we hit a steep one I knew I wouldn't see him until the downhill, my specialty. To me Kenny will be forever known as the "Billy goat". As we made our way through "WHORE LOOP"(I am not sure why it is called this but that is what they called it) I hit a low point on the climb up to the first orienteering point. These hills seemed relentless and I thought we would never get to the top. We did and I promptly used that down hill to regain my momentum to finish. At the orienteering point there was a lot of bathroom breaks and snacking. I used that time to pass up a lot of people and I wouldn't see them the rest of the race. 
Post race meal with dad

Sore, tired and hungry,

Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekly Fuel: A Guilty Tasting Dinner

As I have mentioned previously I have been using my family as guinea pigs. Ever since my wife and I began running it has sparked quite and interest in all around improvement of health in the family. So while I am here we have decided to go for it and all get to that optimal health together, under my guidance. Even people I did not think would be on board are on board. So I was inspired to post this because of the comments at dinner. Over the past week I have been guiding the family as to what should be eaten for breakfast and lunch, all the while teaching what certain foods can do to your daily caloric intake, as well what wholesome food can do for your belly. Now for the comments: mmmm... Wow...., what is this...., and most important, I feel so full on such a small portion. Well I got news, it wasn't just your belly that was full, it was your mind as well. that fact that the food tasted rich and unlike the misconception of "health food"  tasted good. It tricked you mind into thinking that you ate something guilty and satisfying. These types of dinners are not magic it's just a home cooked meal with conscious choices for ingredients and portion size. So enough ranting and down to the nitty gritty. The good stuff.  I’m fairly certain that the star of the night was the spaghetti squash, along with that was a simply sautéed piece of chicken breast and a tomato salad.

All of this packs just; 300 calories, 8.2 grams of fat, 17.4grams carbs and 28.3 grams protein.

sauteed chicken breast
serves: 6
3-8 oz chicken breasts
slat and pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
3 thyme sprigs for each side

Place one breast at a time into a heavy plastic zip top bag, pound it out to 1/2 inch thick with a rolling pin. once all chicken is pounded, place on sheet tray. Crack fresh pepper and sprinkle garlic powder onto. put thyme sprigs on each side and let sit for and hour. heat a non stick pan to med-high heat and then spray with pan spray. season the chicken with salt just before it goes into the pan. cook on each side to a golden brown and until its cook through. let rest and portion by cutting each breast in half.

Spaghetti squash gratin.
serves 6
1 spaghetti squassh
4 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp parmesan cheese
1/3 cup fat free sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

heat the oven to 375
poke hole all over the squash with a fork, bake in a 375 oven for about an hour or until the squash is soft.  once cool enough to handle remove the steam in and split in half long ways. remove seeds with a spoon careful not to remove too much flesh(you will lose a little this way). now using a fork scrape the flesh out completely and put in a bowl with spinach, sour cream and cheese. mix throughly and season with salt and pepper. place into a 8x8 pan and bake for 15 min on 375, then put on broil for 3 to 4 min until the top browns slightly. after 10 minutes of rest cut into.

Tomato salad
Serves 6
12 large capri tomatos(quartered)
1 avocado(sliced)
1 red bell pepper(julienne)
1 tbsp aged balsamic
1 yellow onion(sliced 11/2 inch thick)
2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

heat oven to 375
Lay the onions on a sheet tray, spray with pan spray and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until soft and sweet.
once onions come out of the oven, rough chop and put in a bowl, mix that with all other ingredients and let sit for one hour. season with salt and pepper and serve with chicken and squash.

Terrapin Mountain 50k live stats

Hey friends and family race director Clark Zealand set up live stats for this race so follow along with us tomorrow. The first link is my race and the second link is Siobhan's race. Of course stay tuned for the race report. Go Team cookrunBeer!!!

John Leonardis Race BIB #169
Siobhan Leonardis race BIB #350

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wild and Wonderful


    Recently while sitting in my parent's living room, I over heard my youngest sister on a phone conversation. The conversation did not seem so to go so well, upon hanging up she sorrowfully lets me know she will be heading back to school the following day at 1 pm. Now as a big brother I couldn't have this. She clearly did not want to go back 1 day early. So I swooped in with a plan in mind. You see, my sister attends school in West Virginia. Trail runner in training for 50k with a good bit of mountainous climbing and a sister in need of a ride to mountainous West Virginia. Not mention my cousin also lives in Morgantown. This plan seemed to be working out beautifully, I could stay on a couch and not in a college dorm room.

      The only set back is that my wife and I were set to go to a party, where it was sure to be the pre tapper steam blow off that I seem to be making a habit when training. I assure you, that is exactly what it turned out to be, and what a great time it was. Before we headed out to the party we did make sure to get in a nice 16 mile loop at a local trail, so feeling good about my self I let the kettle boil for as long as I could. The next day brought moms famous gravy and pasta with meatballs and sausage. This on top of the two hours left of moving furniture my dad and I did left next to nothing in the tank. So after several cups of coffee and a long personal debate weather or not to leave at 9 pm or the next morning at 3, I went to bed, where I laid wide eyed and tossing until 3. Then off we went as scheduled at 3:16 in the morning.

      Working on no sleep we finally made it to Morgantown, West Virginia and had breakfast at the Eat and Park(by the way I find this request of the restaurant pretty impossible, I would much rather park and then eat. Call me old fashioned if you like). I knew that I was planning on running shortly there after, planned... right? I had some mediocre at best, whole grain pancakes and egg substitutes, what could I have possibly expected? After a hard last hour of driving with the window down hoping that the mountain air would keep us awake, we arrived and I napped for two hours. I said my good byes and headed back to Morgantown. My cousin and I  tinkered with her car bit and finally by 4:30pm i was arriving at the Cooper's Rock State Park. I guzzled a G1 aka Gatorade Prime, and i was off with no clear map or direction.

     I started my run on the cross country ski trail. That little quarter mile stretch ended up at a three way intersection. Advanced cross country ski trail.... Tempting, a trail with no name, and the road side trail, which sounds boring but underneath that sign was another that read Cooper's Rock overlook 2.8 miles. Sounds good,  at least we have an overlook and 6 miles of trail running as a start. I headed down the road side trail feeling surprisingly good fueled on a G1 and 2 hours of sleep following a night of partying. The trail ran along the road of course, just as described. There were a good amount of climbs as one would expect on the way to an overlook. Once at the overlook, I paused for 5 minutes or so to take some photos. I love an overlook with a river running through the valley.

Being that this is a run and not a day hike i put away the Droid and stopped pondering the meaning of life and back tracked out to the road were I noticed a few other trail heads. I went with the most dangerous sounding one. The Rattlesnake Trail. This was by far my favorite trail it shot down below the overlook and climbed up just as quick through the rocks, and back on to a trail. By far some of the most technical running I have done, considering I was trying to keep a 10:00 minute mile going.

        This is the point where I have no idea where I ran but I got some amazing pic's. I believe I was on the ridge trail for a while, as well the eagle, rock city, a couple of places that were not blazed and the raven something for a short out and back. All of the trail was beautiful and I would say a great excuses to visit family or vise versa. This was that kind of trail run that brings out that internal music that you hear when all is good and you cant help but to grin from ear to ear. It is an experience you can only get out in the woods all alone with your internal mp3 player making songs you've never heard but that sound good. I passed a few people and over heard one of them say, "The air is so fresh and crisp up here", thats right and it cause all the gates in the park are locked and only the people who are willing to hike or run in are up here and from the looks of it, that is not many people. Thankfully for us, right? I had to write about this because it reminded me of a run in Little Rock that inspired me to start this blog in the first place. I think I forgot why I started it and this brought that back. So onward and forward with more running entries. Now its out the door for a light run. I have 9 days until the Terrapin 50k a part of the Beast series of trail running. I am hoping to beat last months 50k time of 6:20:14. Enjoy the pic's and Happy St. Patty's day. For more pic's follow the link

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sylamore 50K trail run: Race Report

This was the only pic of race day I have.
                     First off let me stress how much I love this race in northern Arkansas. This is such a beautiful area of the country and despite what people may think; there are some knarley climbs and fast descents. Not to forget the creek crossing which is my favorite part. Every year you pay attention to the rain fall, melted snow ect. you just never know how deep it's going to be. It builds mental toughness right off the bat. I would also like to shout out to New Balance for the MT101. This is my shoe of choice from now on. It has rid my stride of bouncy, sloppy trail running, as well the turned ankles and braces are nonexistent. So thank you New Balance, I can't wait for the Minimus to hit the shelves.

            Training for Sylamore went so well this year, I got in quiet a few long runs, and by suggestion of my ultra running doctor I took up daily yoga sessions. Top all that off with a twice a week crossfit work out, I was stronger and lighter than I have ever been. I paid close attention to my hydration and diet. opting for a lower than usual calorie count, I felt light and fresh every morning. For pre race dinner I roasted a chicken with thyme and olive oil, accompanied by a roasted sweet potatoes and a salad of grapefruit and point Reyes blue cheese. Two of my weekend race buddies Jake Edge and Adiel Looney joined me for dinner at the pinewood cabins and offered a nice red wine from Chile. My number 3 and consistent training partner Ben Mansur was long behind and I am not sure how he made it out of bed. I am however very proud of him for pulling out a 6:40 for his first 50k and I think first race period.

            On the morning of, I woke about 4:30am and prepared breakfast for Ben and I (egg whites, whole wheat toast with apple butter). after the pre race foot greasing ritual we headed out. We arrived at the anglers restaurant at about 6:30 and hung out and I was anticipating a morning movement. Unfortunate for me it never came and this will go on to haunt me all day. We all lined up at around 5 till 7 checking watches, chit chatting, bouncing nervously awaiting the horn, and then at 7 on the dot, we were off. I am sure we all were thinking the same things (do I have everything?, do I want to do this?, are my shoes tied the way I like, and is that a pain in my groin?). Taking off heading up to the trail head Ben and I were feeling really good trotting along at a slow comfortable pace. Our plan was to make that first 6.4 miles feel like 2 miles. We settled  into a group that was run-walking and it was hard to control ourselves from jetting around and flying past the 15 people in the trail conga line. Once we reached Blanchard springs A.S. I asked Ben if he wouldn't mind filling my two water bottles while I give the morning movement one more try. With a little success and Ben waiting right outside door, we were off up the steep climb on the way to gunner pool.

            On the way to gunner pool we hike/ran up the hill and then we flew down the opposite side. Staying a course with my hydration and nutrition plan all of this felt flawless. Our Plan was a Power gel and Hammer nutrition electro tab per hour washed down with 2-8oz btls of water. At the aid stations I dined on oranges and Gatorade and a few handfuls of M&M's. It was fueling me just right. Gunner pool had wonderful views of the creek down below and great fast downhill sections. I did not stop to enjoy the view as much as last year because this year I was shooting for a time of 7:30:00 a 30 minute improvement from last year. as we push along, we began passing quite a few people. I also noticed that we were making the aid stations in about 1 hour. this felt really good but a little uncomfortable, seeing as how I felt like shit at this point last year and a race volunteer jokingly let me know that at the turnaround.

once we hit Gunner Pool I was feeling so good. we were at the aid station for about 4 minutes then back on the trail. this was a killer for me last year it seemed like a long slow accent to a rolling section that involved a lot of walking. but not this year we ran 90% of this I was feeling very good minus the stomach discomfort.

            once we reached the turnaround I hit the bathroom once more, just in case the sun aligned with the moon but no avail. I filled my water and a handful of M&M's and headed back to the finish. I took long enough in the bathroom to have to catch the 10 people I had lead and caught 3 times before. I was feeling amazing so I took off and pulled off a 6:00 minute pace down into Blanchard springs (thanks to gravity, of course). I felt strong until after I left Blanchard springs where I started to cramp a little due to a miss calculation of my water needs, running out 3 miles before the finish. once I hit the road with 1 mile to go I rallied and pulled off a 7:30 pace all the way across the line for a 6:20:07 finish. 1 hour and 43 minutes better than last year.

I would love to thank all the volunteers for a great race support and Steve Appleton and Greg Eason for putting on a great race yet again. and thanks to all the people who pushed me into this wonderful sport and all the friends who run alongside me and support what I am doing. I have chosen my nest race and I will be running the Terrapin Mountain 50k in Sedalia, VA