Sunday, September 25, 2011

Interstate Park Adventure Run--Short

Had been thinking long and hard about participating. My right knee was still making funny noises and I had an appointment set up with Dr. Abraham at HP Como. Should I really risk messing it up even more? I had not done anything in 10 days except some roller skiing during my Sisu class. But I decided it would be worth a try and as a compromise I would do the short distance instead.

The drive out to St. Croix Falls and the Wisconsin side of Interstate Park was uneventful, traffic was less than would be expected on a weekend where the fall colors were nearing their peak. This was making me think that our canoe trip in mid-October would again be in more drab surroundings. Oh well, at least I would be enjoying the leaves today.

After I arrived I had already second thoughts on making the right decision on the short run. Instead of switching to long, I did the whit/yellow course as a warm-up. No problems, not even with my knee. I finished with some stretches and waited for the start.

The adventure run format is basically an O-race with a mass start. At the pre-race meeting Todd Peterson told us about the intricacies of the not-quite-O map and we were off. As I was heading for CP1, I passed Ian, who was walking because of an Achilles-tendon issue. He was walking and I was running but somehow I could not lose him. This shows what a superior orienteerer he is over me.  CPs 2-5presented only slight to moderate difficulty though I managed to hit a barbed wire with my shin (thanks to the gods for gaiters) while dropping into the valley after CP3 and I stepped into a hole after CP5, weding my foot between two rocks and spraining my left big toe in a bad way.

Slightly of kilter from the pain in my right shin and my left toe I headed for CP6, which seemed more difficult than the previous ones. I did find CP6, but then, going for 7 I made my big mistake of the meet: I headed north, looking for the trail I should cross. I missed it and ended up at the bridge across the creek heading out of the wetland. I decided to go for the trail crossing the wetland to retrieve CP7. I met a guy and a father-son team who were coming towards me. I e-punched 7 and passed both again. In hindsight, what I should have probably done is to head south to County S and follow it NE to the trailhead. After I recovered I knew full well that I missed my chance to beat Ian. He arrived a few minutes before me and was just telling the folks at the finish how even crippled by injury and walking he had beaten a runner.  He is right, my results were nothing to call home about.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Orienteering at Chester Woods Park, Eyota, MN

Brand-new map in Chester Woods Park, near Eyota, MN, less than 20 miles E of Rochester. On a gorgeous Saturday morning I drove down there from the cities. Quite a few MNOC runners made it down here, from the looks of it a few were camping here, too. I chatted with Andrei about his August packed with a trip to Utah (hiking), South Dakota and Wyoming (orienteering). The pictures posted on FB were gorgeous and made me want to go.

After gearing up, I ambled to the start and got going. To get to CP1, it looked like I needed to round the northern arm of the lake. I am saying "it looked like" because there is a bridge from the first parking lot inside the park. I noticed the bridge where the park road goes along the lake and I even remembered having seen it when entering the park, but by then I felt it was a wash to return or continue on around the lake. In hindsight, I should have checked the map again and returned, I think I cut have cut a couple hundred meters from my first leg. Other than that, CP 1, 2, 3 and 4 did not present any challenge.

Andrei, who had started behind me caught up at CP4 and went straight up the hill where I decided to follow the trail, making a hairpin turn and climbing more gradually. I followed the left fork of the trail till where it exited the dark green on the map. here, I followed the vegetation boundary and got to CP5 without too much delay. I rejoined the trail, missing the remnants of another trail heading straight for CP6. I eventually found the trail and went straight for the CP, passing it a couple of times without seeing it. This is probably the one place where I lost most time. Instead of looking for the overgrown trail, I might have been better off to follow the contours N from the open area. but who knows, the woods were pretty thick here, too.

I also wasted some time at CP7, but not too much. CP 8, 9 and 10 weren't too difficult either. It was exhausting but also pretty cool to run through the prairie, with grasses higher by a few inches than my 6 ft towards CP9, a very obvious single tree. I might have been better off following the trail closing in and coming back out. Again, hard to tell. CP11 did not present any navigational challenges either but again, the last stretch through "open" terrain was the hardest. Here, very tall yellow flowers probably Jerusalem artichokes grew even taller than 2 m grasses I had encountered earlier. The understory was formed by some kind of golden rod, in keeping with the theme of yellow and green. More striking even than the the yellow were a few blotches of blue, soapwort or closed gentian. The air was filled by the buzzing of many bees and other insects and butterflies were lazily fluttering through the sun-heated air. All of this impeded my progress but delighted my senses.

CP12 and 13 were easy, this time I DID take the foot bridge. CP14 and15 weren't that difficult either, but I was slowing down. I had not worn my Inov-8 Mudclaws since the spring and, together with the thick socks I was wearing they started two nasty heel blisters.

All in all, I am glad that I did not completely mess up any of the CPs. One of the advantages taking it a little easier on tempo, but probably also a testament to the somewhat easier course.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group: S-K-I-Hab Workout Series at United Hospital

When:  Tuesday Sept 6th, 7:00pm  
Where:  United Hospital (Map)
What: Injury Prevention, Flexibility, Core
Coaches: Dr. Chris Leisz and PT's

Coach Ben organized this session with Sister Kenny Institute's Running and Endurance Sports Injury Clinic for all Sisu year-rounders. After a brief intro by Dr. Marie-Christine Leisz, she and the PT staff of the institute led us through a series of xc-skiing-specific stretches and core strengthening exercises.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was mighty sore from the Y boot camp and was happy tor the guided stretching session.

Stretches included some very easy to execute and rather effective ones including

  • Piriformis
  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Towel Roll Snow Angel (shoulder, mid- and lower back)
  • Feldenkrais shoulder circle (that stretch is a gas)
  • Kneeling hip flexor (works quads, too)
  • Soleus Stretch (from lunge position)
Core strength exercises included
  • Core Stabilization stomach
  • Prone Goalpost (to work muscles that pull shoulder blades together)
  • Alligator push-ups
  • Side-lying plank
  • Side-lying single-leg lift
  • Star hops
  • Theraband pull-down (this one added to my sore muscles, a new group)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Boot Camp, Labor Day 2011

I had wanted to start some strengthening exercises for some time and somehow I had never gotten around to kick this off. One idea was to sign up for the weight room orientation at the Midway YMCA and then put together a program of XC skiing specific exercises. The other thought was to join one of the Ys strength or cardio/strength oriented classes. The Boot Camp in particular intrigued me, however the times at my local Y did not accommodate my schedule. I was looking for a class very early in the morning and, if not at the Midway Y, not too far out of my way to work. So I systematically checked all the metro locations and found a possibility at the Southdale YMCA in Edina. They have a 6:00 AM class on Mondays and a 5:15 class on Wednesdays. The Labor Day holiday class had been moved to 8:00 AM, a good opportunity to check it out.

The Y advertises its Boot Camp exercise class as a rugged workout to improve strength and stamina. It appeared that the sequence of exercises would work on both the explosive muscle movements and my respiratory and cardio capacity. Coach Ben later confirmed that this type of workout is an excellent complement to my training plan.

I left the house with what I thought some time to spare, unfortunately I got to the back side of the Edina Y and had to snake my way around the neighborhood to make it to the entrance. I missed my chance to check in with Tom, the instructor and struggled to get ready by assembling my collection of weights, mats and other miscellany.

The warm-up consisted of a serious of running exercises like carioca steps, high heels, high knees and on all fours across the gym including a push-up, and jump sequence at the change of direction and holding light hand weights all the while.  We cycled through the drills three times.

Then the main body of the class began. Using a barbell, we went from deadlift to shoulder press to behind the neck press and back, 15 reps, followed by push-ups, a jumping exercise and an ab exercise. We cycled through this sequence three times, 10 and 5 repetitions after the initial 15. The we increased the weight on the bar bell and did the sequence again, increasing weights and sequence one more time.

The last sequence was a circuit of jumping jacks/push-ups, running in place while tapping a punching ball and another jump sequence.

I was drenched within 15 minutes of this and, not being the most coordinated of people, I had trouble with some of the motion and step/kick sequences. My fear that the unaccustomed motions and exercises would result in some seriously sore muscles did  come true, similar to after the Sisu Year Round Group's first session. I scheduled easy jogs for the remainder of the week and Sisu's session with Sister Kenny Institute's Dr. Leisz and PTs came at an opportune moment.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Long Workouts

After the last reviewing my last benchmark results Coach Ben complained that my work concentrated too much on mid range effort at the expense of base line and the high end work. Since then, I have been increasing my distance for those low-intensity long workouts. Until now, my long runs were 10-12 km, at an intensity that Ben would characterize as mid-range. My first longer run was a 10-miler (16 km) when dropping off Colin at university in Iowa City (see here). I did 18 km lat week at the prescribed heart rate (i.e. around 130) and 20 km this morning where my HR was a little faster but only because a woman passed me while going around Como Lake and I just had to see what her pace was. At 130 bpm I feel like I could keep going and going from a cardiovascular perspective. My legs feel tired after 20 km but with 20 minutes of stretches even that goes away. How far should I run for a long workout? Do I need to get tired or is the idea to just get accustomed to make a run like this feel more like a walk in the park? I put these questions to Ben who suggested I gradually increase the time of the workout to three hours.

8/25 Long Run on opening day of Minnesota State Fair

9/1 Long Run

These long workouts do bring a new side effect: chafing. While it seems only light for me, mostly between my upper thighs and my nipples, but it is still uncomfortable. I invested in some new running shorts which work much better than my old ones. My form-fitting Sisu t-shirt works better than the lose ones I have. At this point I am simply going to watch it before taking more drastic measures.