Sunday, August 20, 2017

This Week in Running 8/13 - 8/19 - Red Pine Lake Pictures

DayMileage / WorkoutComments
SundayOff8 Miles of hiking
Saturday7.25Dam Train Race
Total miles for the week: 30; YTD: 1103

Week's Summary

I felt like this week I actually turned the corner into getting back to full strength.  I did two sessions of physical therapy -- one on Monday and one on Wednesday.  The treatment has been a variety of electronic stimulus to help activate my lagging quadriceps muscles.  And it appears to be working.

I am finding that my legs -- namely my quads, glutes and hamstrings feel much stronger.  And more importantly, the amount of pain and discomfort I am feeling in my knee diminishes each day.

Early in the week I was feeling sharp tearing like pains in the patella tendon.  This would happen particularly after sitting for periods of time (even as short as driving to work) and then getting up.  At minimal, I had annoying clicking / catching feeling in my knee.  I walked with a pronounced limp and I was beginning to wonder if my running "career" was over.

I have been religiously and dutifully doing my "homework", which includes a bunch of single leg exercises and work with a stretchy rubber-band type of thing. It kept me from going insane and I think it has really helped build my body back up.

I bumped up the mileage a bit this week and had no ill effects.  I kept all my runs fairly easy -- no speed work.  I was just logging miles and burning calories.

I was also saving myself for the Dam Train Race.  While I wouldn't have been too upset had I missed it, it was a mile marker that I wanted to hit.  My performance wasn't too awful and I was just happy to be running and participating in an event I care a lot about.

I have one physical therapy session this coming week and after that, I am hoping to be done.  I haven't gone to the doctors at all this year, so I am worried how much my insurance is going to pay for the treatments and what I am going to be on the hook for.  However, the physical therapy can be put on reserve if I relapse.

Red Pine Lake

On Sunday, I opted to go for a hike rather than run.  I like the crossing training effects as I can turn it into a hard workout without the pounding / stress that a tempo run would produce.  I made the ascent pretty quickly and I was happy being able to overtake a lot of casual hikers.  You can see the altitude and hills I took while hiking (not running) to Red Pine.

The hike also allowed me to take some pictures, which I always enjoy sharing. I think this lake is the prettiest of all the Wasatch Lakes and I never tired of hiking there.  Here are some of the photos of Red Pine Lake in Little Cottonwood Canyon:

Upcoming Races

09/02: Midway Swiss Days 10K - Midway, UT (Probable)
09/09: Race to the Angel Half Marathon - Wells, NV (Probable)
09/16: Take it to the Lake Half Marathon - Ely, NV (A Stretch)
11/12: Las Vegas Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
04/21: Salt Lake City Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed (2018))

Saturday, August 19, 2017

2017 Dam Train Race Recap - Midway, UT

Me at Soldier Hollow Park post race

Official Time: 1:09:17
Placement: Soon
Results: Soon
Race WebsiteHere
Weather: 50's, no wind, sunny.
Garmin Dump: Here

Mile  Time Comments
1 9:29 Hemmed in at the start - not sure what I had
2 9:38 Some ups and downs here
3 9:03 A little bit of downhill here. 
4 9:35
5 9:57 Some difficult miles here.  Sort of gassed and hilly
6 10:08
7 9:12 Mostly downhill at this point
7.28  2:12Sprint to the finish
Total Miles: 7.28- 1:09:17


Last year, I ran the inaugural and 2016 edition of the Dam Train Race.  It was a pretty fun race on a challenging course -- and it was cheap!  I think I paid around $25 for it and for a fully supported race, I was pleased with it.

So I made a mental note that if it came around in 2017, I would run it again.  Sometime this winter they sent me an offer I couldn't refuse (I think about $20) and I figured why not.

This race isn't terribly competitive.  As far as I could tell there were no age group awards (just awards for the overall winners) but the point is to beat the train.  You basically arrive early, grab your bib and board an aging, nostalgic train and take about a 30 minute train ride along the shores of the Deer Creek Reservoir.  From there, you are dumped off at the south end of the reservoir.  After a 15 - 20 minute discombobulation period, you get a head start and when the last runner crosses the 1/2 mile marker (where you cross from one side of the trail to the other) the train begins its return to the pickup location.

Last year, I believe I was one of the first finishers to lose to the train.  I definitely wanted revenge.

The problem is that I have been injured for the past several weeks and my running has been minimal.  So I didn't think I would have it to run well today.

The Race 

I was one of the first ones off the train and I had to use the restroom -- bad.  There was a line-up on the train and I figured I would have 20 minutes or so to kill before the start.  I knew that the bathrooms were in the parking lot of the south side of the trail.  I started making a casual walk and it was definitely a LOT longer than what I remembered it being last year.

I turned around and saw dozens of people doing a slow job in pursuit of me.  Uh oh... if I wanted to go, I was gonna have to run.  So I picked up the pace (much to my knee's discomfort) and was glad to see that I was third one there.  I quickly used the restroom and headed back.  On the way back, I saw literally a hundred people all heading towards the restrooms.  Unfortunately, there were just 4 of them, so I doubt all of them got a chance to use them before the race (unless they used the bushes).  I am so glad I took care of business right away.

I killed about 15 minutes at the start and dropped off my bag at the gear check.  Most of the people weren't at the start yet and I figured that would bode well:  with all the returning people, it would mean that the train would likely get a delayed start.

After a National Anthem, we started at 8:00 AM despite a lot of the people not being there (a few were in the bushes taking care of "business").

I started off conservatively on the path.  I wanted to see what my knee would do.  Despite its initial protestations it felt fine -- in fact, it held up nicely throughout the race.

While it was recommended faster runners started in the front, I found most really didn't heed that instruction.  It took a while to get to my desired pace.  I didn't mind too much but there is only about 6 feet wide of trail (often times with scrub running down the middle of it) so passing was challenging.

It was stated that the train generally head a 9:10 minute per mile pace.  That is a doable pace for me, but running at 5300 feet and on hilly terrain meant that it would be a 50-50 shot at me beating it.

The trail is mostly hard packed dirt with some gravel that will slowed me down -- it felt like running in sand sometimes.  However, it is not technical and I was never really worried about falling or having to slow down to navigate the terrain.  There were several switchbacks and long grinds up hills.  This race isn't for people expecting a fast time or "easy" race.

I was feeling pretty good until about mile 3.  The hills, while present, seemed unrelenting at this point.  My "7 mile-ish" runs haven't gone particularly well on account my endurance has dwindled.  But I hung in there and took the uphills easy (and luckily my knee was agreeable) and powered down the downhills.  Fortunately, I know the course and I knew what to expect so I could prepare myself accordingly.

Few people walked up the hills.

Around mile 4 or 5 I turned around and saw the train in the far distance.  I am not sure how much of a lead I had on it, but the knowledge that it was chasing me down (on the much easier / shorter route) made me stay strong.  I almost felt like I was running for my life.

I was counting on the fact that the last mile is primarily downhill.  I was definitely holding back and once I saw the edge of the north side of the reservoir, I turned on the jets.  I wound up passing a few people that I had been playing tag with through the race.  It felt good to finish strong rather than a dying gasp.

And I am happy to report that I beat the train by about 10 minutes.  Granted, the train took longer to get started and the course's start line was moved up about a quarter mile compared to last year's.  In fact, last year I ran 7.5 miles, this year, 7.28.  So not quite a 12 KM.


I had carried my own hydration, so I didn't need the two water stops (they were only serving water from what I could tell).  I don't think the first one was quite set up, as I saw runners opening bottles of water and pouring themselves a cup.  The second one was ready for customers, but I was happy sipping on my Gatorade.

There seemed to be a lot more people this year.  I think the low price and positive vibe attracted a lot of people.  I heard rumors it was listed on Groupon as well.  While this led to a clogged initial start (and there seemed to be a bit of a bathroom issue) I was happy to see this event well attended and growing.

The finish line food was also better compared to last year's.  There were chips, granola bars and water.  I was hoping for a recovery drink (even Gatorade) but alas, just cold water.

The finisher's award appears to be the same as last year.  It is a cork medal.  I liked the shirt, but it is a cotton one.  I'll probably wear it more than last year's hat.

The train post race

I wound up socializing with a number of runners (and I think a few of the race's workers recognized me since I wrote favorably about the race last year).  After about 30 minutes I decided to hit the road and head home.

I love this course.  It is challenging and a good workout.  There are some many beautiful shots here.  I took less pictures this year on account I wanted to beat the train.

Course support was acceptable.  For $20, I got a cool train ride, a shirt, a finisher's award and refreshments afterwards.  Parking was a bit of an adventure, as one had to park about 1/2 mile away.  They had shuttles to the start but it looked like you were on your own to make it back -- so it was a long walk.  The bathroom situation wasn't totally thought out and I think a lot of people were delayed at the start.  I suppose one should use the train's restroom (I was taking it for granted that last year the race started near the parking lot where many bathrooms were located).

I would love to see age group awards on this one or even a special medal if you beat the train.  Either way, I was happy with my experience, especially given the very affordable price.  I would do this race again as well.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This Week in Running 8/6 - 8/12 + Sunset Peak Hike

Yours truly at the top of Sunset Peak

DayMileage / WorkoutComments
SundayOff6 Miles of hiking
WednesdayOffPhysical Therapy
Total miles for the week: 21; YTD: 1073

Week's Summary

This week was getting used and seeing what my knee would tolerate.  If you've been following me, you know I've been dealing with a bit of a knee problem.  In short, a doctor told me that I had quite a bit of scar tissue built up on my knee and as a result, was causing me a lot of pain.

I have been going to physical therapy and so far have been having good results with the treatment.  I have also been doing my homework in that I've been doing all the crazy exercises they have given me.  This involves some one-legged squats, 4-directional leg swings with a theraband attached to a stationary object and icing / stretching.  My neglected hamstrings, glutes and inner thing muscles have taken a beating as a result.  And when I run, I definitely feel stronger. 

Physical Therapy treatment (I've gone twice) involves some exercises, electric stimulation, Graston release and more exercises.  I really enjoy it -- although definitely not looking forward to the medical bill (insurance seems to cover so little these days).  While at the beginning of the week I was in quite a bit of discomfort, I am finding that as time progresses, it *is* getting better.

That being said, however, my knee is still having issues.  It isn't so much during my running, but it is after sitting for periods of time, which I do a lot of at work.  When the tendon is suddenly expected to have weight put on it, it complains -- often loudly.  I get a very sharp pain -- sometimes from bone on bone.  So I walk with a bit of a pronounced limp. Once I am warmed up, though, generally I feel good.

So I was given the green light to do some easy 2 - 3 mile runs so long as the pain wasn't bad or it didn't alter my stride (too much).  And I took advantage of it and didn't abuse it too much -- with the exception of Saturday.

I feel almost like I am starting over in terms of building up my endurance.  Saturday's run started out promising and I was holding a decent pace for 5 miles.  After that though, the heat and a lack of carbohydrate in my system slowed me down.  I also had a growing pain in my hip, which is a result of me changing my stride to brace for any knee problems (I also torqued it during a PT session).  I am pretty happy though that I was able to get some miles in and start building back up.  I want to be ready to run some quality half marathons this fall as well as get ready for Vegas (no other marathon plans right now).

I should be good to go for next weekend's Dam Train Race.  It won't be a stellar performance by any means, but I'll be able to cover the distance.

Sunset Peak

Since I couldn't run early on in the week, I took my training to the trails.  I did a power hike from Brighton Utah to the top of Sunset Peak (Garmin route here).  Initially my knee wasn't happy but after warming up, I was cranking up the trail.  I wound up hiking the 3 mile route in about 70 minutes, which is cruising given the elevation and hills I had to conquer.

I love power hiking, as I can really work out without stressing my joints or my knees.  The thinner air, the climbing and distance all talk their toll.  It was a beautiful day for a hike and I got a lot of good pictures.  This is one of my favorite hikes as there are people on the trail, which is reassuring, and sections of it are highly runnable / fast walkable.

Enjoy the photos:

Upcoming Races

08/19: Dam Train Race - 12 KM Race - Midway, UT (Confirmed)
11/12: Las Vegas Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
04/21: Salt Lake City Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed (2018))

Saturday, August 5, 2017

This Week in Running 7/30 - 8/5

Me, post physical therapy

This Week in Running

Well another week of wishing I could run.  My knee pain, while not good last week ratcheted up a bit.  It wasn't because I was running either.  It just seemed to hurt more than usual.

I did finally go to the doctors on Tuesday and after a physical examination, an ultrasound, and x-rays, I was diagnose with a pissed off knee.  Otherwise known as a patellar tendon with a ton of scar tissue on it.

It was interesting to see the ultrasound.  The doctor (who was brilliant) showed me the photos of healthy sections of my tendon versus the worn down one.  If you google "Patellar tendon ultrasound" on Google Image search you'll see samples.  Basically, you'll see lines that look like healthy tendon and then see a fuzzy / cloudy section.  Well, I had a big old chunk of it.

So the anti-inflamatory routine that I was doing was pretty much worthless.  There wasn't much inflammation.  I just need to strengthen the areas around the knee joint (I was very weak in some sections) and seek physical therapy, which is what I did.

I haven't been to PT in a while -- the last time I think was at least 7 years ago when I had achilles tendonitis.

I arrived early on Thursday, got another examination, and was given some exercises to do.  I quickly made friends with a thera-band and did various exercises under the constant eye of my therapist (another winner).

Then he did about 5 minutes of Graston Technique to break up the scar tissue.  It wasn't terribly painful, just a bit odd.

Finally, we wrapped up with a bag of ice and an electric stim.  I was hoping for a bit of ultrasound on it, but no dice.  I was in there for a long time before being taped up with some KT-tape.

So I've been diligently doing my PT exercises and refraining from running.

I have been given the green light to do a little bit of mileage, but right now the pain is off and on.  I have been walking and usually my walk starts off with a little bit of a hobble.  Finally the knee relaxes and I hardly know it is injured.  However, particularly after sitting for periods of time, my knee really, really hurts.  The tendon fires up like it is ripping and I almost fall to the ground.  Luckily that hasn't happened yet.  So I am still hobbling around and that means I am definitely not ready to run.

Some days are better than others and on Thursday I was wondering if I had turned the corner.  Friday it seemed worse.

I don't have a time table for this injury to heal.  I don't want too much time to go by otherwise I'll lose a lot of my hard earned fitness / endurance.  And -- I have to actually watch what I eat.  Now that I can't burn through 800 calories after work so easily, I have to be more mindful.

My exercise right now is about 3 - 7 miles a day of walking.  If this injury does continue, I'll likely pony up for a gym membership so I can peddle on a bike or grind out some weights.

Being injured sucks and to be honest this one has me worried.  I have a bunch of races I'd love to be ready for this fall and not being able to at least maintain my fitness is frustrating and worrisome.

I have another PT appointment this week and I am hoping for the best.  In the meantime, though, I'll diligently do my workouts.

Upcoming Races

08/19: Dam Train Race - 12 KM Race - Midway, UT (Confirmed)
11/12: Las Vegas Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
04/21: Salt Lake City Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed (2018))

Saturday, July 29, 2017

This Week(s) in Running 7/9 - 7/29

This Week in Running

Well, I haven't updated my This Week in Running in nearly 3 weeks.  What's going on, you ask?

Well, not a whole lot.

I had reported in my previous post that I was having some knee problems -- and they haven't gotten much better.  I've been wrapping it up, icing it down, resting, taking anti-inflamatories, researching it.... and it has consistently let me down.

I am getting in a few runs each week and managed to survive the Handcart Half Marathon but I am not getting in any quality training.   Lately, I've been hitting about 15 - 20 miles a week, which I guess isn't too bad but considering I am used to a minimal of 40+, it is a set back.

I believe the patella tendon isn't situated right on my knee cap.  Generally after warming up, my knee settles in and I have very few gripes with it.  Afterwards -- particularly after periods of sitting -- the patella tendon appears to rub against my knee cap, causing an audible popping / creaking sound.  The pain level isn't too bad -- but I know that it can't be good.

So this Tuesday I have a doctor's appointment.  I have a feeling I know what I am going to be told: rest (longer), do what I am doing and potentially physical therapy.  On the outside, if there is something worse going on (torn meniscus for instance) then I can take steps from there.

In some ways I am happy about the injury in that it forces me to take a bit of time off.  I've complained for a while of being overtrained and chronically tired.  Also, it is blazing hot out and running isn't a lot of fun when the temperatures are pushing past the mid 80's.

But on the other hand, it makes me nervous -- how long is this injury going to last?  Is my year over?

In the mean time, I run a little when I can, walk when I can't and I've certainly curtailed some of the extra calories.

My New Pet Oreana

One of the greatest gifts running has given me is the countless people I've helped, met, and run into on my various runs.  But one that is extra special to me is my pet cat, who I found and ultimately rescued off the bike trail.  I have fed the ferals for the past year or so, but this one appears to somehow gotten used to humans.  My guess is she got lost or abandoned and was living on the bike trail.  She and I were instantly bonded when I started feeding her every night...

As you can see from the photo above she has made herself comfortable in our house and is now something that I look forward to interacting with on a daily basis. So far, she's been a great pet and has adjusted well.

Upcoming Races

I did miss the Glowstick 10K.  I was all set to do it on a Friday night a few weeks ago but when I got home, my knee clearly had other ideas.  It wasn't a terribly expensive race but I hated not attending.  Up until the last hour, I was on the fence about going.  Luckily some friends said it was probably best to rest -- particularly if I was in doubt.  So I sucked it up and went to bed (missing the 11 PM start time).

Right now, I am holding off on entering any more races until this knee situation has settled.  Hopefully the doctor on Tuesday will give me a diagnosis and an estimate as to when I can expect to be at 100% again.

08/19: Dam Train Race - 12 KM Race - Midway, UT (Confirmed)
11/12: Las Vegas Marathon - Las Vegas, NV (Confirmed)
04/21: Salt Lake City Marathon - Salt Lake City, UT (Confirmed (2018))

Monday, July 24, 2017

Farmington Canyon / Creek Trail Hike - Farmington Utah


The other day I was looking for a new hike.  During last week's hike, I had gotten turned on to some of the trails in Farmington.  So I sort of went back to the well and decided to see what else was out there.  It was then I stumbled upon Farmington Canyon (or Creek) Trail.  

This trail is located on the east side of Farmington, about 30 minutes north of my house.  It is also a mere 5 minutes off the freeway, so it was a pretty easy decision.  You can get directions to the trailhead by using this Google Map location.

The initial ascent looks daunting but it is short lived

There was a good amount of parking here and the trail did have people on it but it wasn't super busy.  The trail head is on the north side of the parking lot and involves a steep 15 yard or so climb before leveling out.

The trail is a steady climb but not overwhelming.  It was a good workout but it wasn't a quad burner by any means.  The trail was actually easy to follow and well traveled.  In fact, this would be one trail that I would certainly consider running on.  

Heading eastwards (you can follow along on my Garmin route), you are in partial shade most of the way.  You'll also hear the babbling of Farmington Creek, often times well below you.  Skyline Drive -- a dirt road that wends its way up to Frances Peak is above you.

After about .9 of a mile you'll come to the first set of falls.  It is a bit of a grotto and when I visited there was a good amount  of water coming down.  It wasn't anything like Adams Canyon, but a place to easily relax after a fairly easy hike.

Crossing the stream you head further in and you come to Corduroy Creek after about 1.75.  This is another very small waterfall and a more secluded place.  Along the way you'll be treated to views of the Great Salt Lake, the Farmington valley and some decaying cars that went off the cliff above you.  

At Corduroy Creek the trail splits.  I presumed the north fork would go to the campground, so I opted to go south and east and continue to hug the Farmington Creek.  After a very short distance, you come across the Farmington Falls.  They are spectacle to see.  Someone had attached a rope to a very steep decline to get to the base of the falls, but I wasn't feeling particularly brave, so I passed.

The trail also forks here, continuing to hug the river.  Taking the main attribute takes you to Sunset Campground.  There you will find a very stinky bathroom and likely campers.  This is about 2 miles from the start of the trail and according to my Garmin, about 1000 feet of climbing.

At this point, I opted to turn around and come back.  All told, the trip took about 2 hours, including breaks and picture taking.  One can certainly do this trail a lot quicker though.

I didn't see any wildlife other than an occasionally snake or lizard.  One should be careful on this one for rattlesnakes, as I suspect it would be prime territory for them.

The trail is mostly shaded but is probably best attempted during cooler temperatures.

This was a very enjoyable and surprisingly pleasant hike.  I would definitely do this one again.

Enjoy the photos: