Monday, June 23, 2014

Western States Training and preparation

Western States 100 trail
Training for Western States

Western States endurance run race week has finally arrived and I am anticipating a great adventure on June 28, 2014.  It has been a dream 2 years in the making to arrive at the starting line of this prestigious event.  I came to Squaw Valley early to make the most of my experience and attend a medical conference Tuesday (6/24/2014) and  Wednesday (6/25).  The meeting is called "Medicine and Science in Ultra-Endurance Sports"  and I will be posting about what I learn that may be interesting to the endurance athletic community.  Later in the week, I intend to post about the race week activities.  My last post about Western States will be a post race report.
My training in earnest began on Jan 1 with base building.  I decided to hire a coach and he sent me structured workouts starting on the first week of January.  I did 6-8 miles on weekdays with longer runs on Saturday.  On Sundays, I did "tempo" longish runs with "tired legs" from Saturday's run.  During the early training weeks, my coach had me do "hill repeats".  These consisted in finding a stretch of trail with 10-15% grade and climbing as fast as possible for 3 minute intervals.   I would rest for 1 minute and then descend as fast as possible back down. Rest another minute and repeat.  Initially, I did 4 hill repeats and when it got closer to the race I was up to 6 hill repeats. I did the repeats on a Jeep road off Robinson St. on the way to crazy cat mountain.  It was not ideal as it was very rocky and technical, but it is pretty accessible. The weekly mileage was about 40-50 in the early weeks and by the middle of May, I was up to 100 miles in a week.  This was accomplished with twice daily runs on weekdays (AM 9 miles and PM 6 miles). The Saturday long runs were at the most 40 miles followed by 10 tempo miles on Sunday. 
In March, I ran Caballo Blanco 50 mile Ultra for which I did not taper and completed that race in 12 hrs and 30 min.  My recovery from that race was fairly quick and I was able to run as early as Wednesday after the race. 
Everything was going well until Saturday, May 17 when I was scheduled to run 18 miles and decided to go from the Lost Dog trails up to Tom Mays and up to North Franklin Peak and back.  In the descent from North Franklin, I got a bit too enthusiastic and went down too fast. I was jumping and heel striking and came away from the run with a sore ankle.  The pain was predominantly in the calcaneus or heel bone. I iced it overnight and it felt better.  Unfortunately, on Sunday, I was signed up to do a 5K race with my children and I was racing my oldest son, Javier, who is 16 yrs old.  The whole run, I was in pain, but I did it in 21:55 (7:18 min/mile).  I lost to my son who ran it in 19:35 but the effort cost me dearly. I had severe pain and was unable to walk, much less run.   I self diagnosed clinically, since I did not have any imaging studies, with a calcaneus stress fracture or pericalcaneus bursitis with ligament strain.  The treatment is not to run and allow time to heal.
I had been scheduled to go to a Western States training camp over the Memorial Day weekend and had to cancel my trip.  Instead, I went to the pool, learned to enjoy the elliptical machine and started cycling again. I also went for the first time to hot yoga sessions which were fun and good for heat acclimatization.   For 3 weeks, I could not run at all.  I bought some Hoka shoes which are like "moon shoes" with a lot of heel cushion and started walking with them.  I did training walks in the 100 degree heat of the afternoon with the hydration vest to get some heat training.
With 3 weeks to go for the race, I started slowly to run again on the road with the Hokas.  I did 2 miles, then 4, and by Wednesday, I was running 6 miles with Run El Paso Club.  My distance was up to 51 miles at its peak before I started tapering for the race. My last long run was up to McKelligon Canyon for 15 miles on Saturday and then 6 miles on Sunday before leaving for Squaw Valley, California on Monday (6/23).

Race preparation
I have been meticulously studying the race course since I have never done this race before and did not get to attend the training camp over memorial day weekend.   I have enlisted a crew person recently, but I had been making plans without crew.  There are 10 drop bags allowed along the course including at the finish line in Placer High-school in Auburn.   I made use of a race pace/split calculator from, the link is here:  Western States 2012 race calculator  I found this site helpful since there are so many climbs a consistence pace is hard to maintain.  I copied onto an Excel spreadsheet and will be using this to guide my slow pace and keep track of the aid stations and drop bags.
Projected pace for Western States 100

Western States course profile

Additionally, I read a great review of the course on by Joe Uhan with the ominous title, "The Western States Killing Machine".   My race plan is to go slow from the beginning to save by legs during the long downhill sections to have energy left to go the last 20 miles at a decent pace.  
As I get settled here in Squaw Valley, my plan for tomorrow is to attend the conference and at the end of the day, I will blog about what is discussed. On Thursday and Friday, will post about the pre-race activities, including the Beer mile on Thursday. 

1 comment:

  1. Good luck Juan!

    I lived in ELP for almost 4 years. I left in the fall of 2012. I wish I had known there were other people like me! I met mostly road runners through Up and Running. I usually ran around the mountain by myself.

    I'll be tracking you. Rooting from afar!