13 March 2013

The Vine of the Soul...

Back in 2002 when I was traveling in Europe I had a guide from Belgium that spoke nine languages and when she wasn't traveling through Europe in the summer she was doing the same through South America in the winter.  Since that time it has been a goal of mine to make it to South America.  Back then I didn't really have a reason other then it would make a epic trip.  In early 2011, I started watching Ancient Aliens and I became a obsessed with Peru.  Then in August 2011, I listened to Aubrey Marcus on the  Joe Rogan Experience as he explained his experience in the Amazon with an Ayahuasca Shaman.  I was mesmerized as he detailed his account of his journey with the visionary plant medicine. From that point my goal of traveling to Machu Picchu was put on hold and my focus switched to having a vision quest in the Amazon Jungle.


Now my vision quest is becoming a reality.  On April 1, I will journey to Peru and I will be heading into the Amazon to attend a 12 day Shipibo Ayahuasca retreat in Iquitos, Peru.  In the weeks leading up to my departure I will be documenting my preparation for this journey.

14 February 2013

February 14, Traveling Music

Creedence Clearwater Revival "Traveling Band"

Mos Def & DJ Honda "Travelin' Man"

Vinnie Paz "Cheesesteaks"
Only fitting when you fly into Philly!

Hank III "Atlantic City" - In honor of Friday nights adventure

Pryda "SW4" -Eric Prydz AC Friday Night!!!

12 February 2013

Life's Soundtrack : February 13

Life's Soundtrack : Music for your journey. AllDay.

Lightin' Hopkins "Life I used to Live"

Bob Marley "It Alright"

Led Zepplin "Traveling Riverside Blues"

The Black Keys "Goodbye Babylon"

23 January 2013

San Diego Trail Marathon

This past Saturday I returned to racing, completing the first ever San Diego Trail Marathon at the San Dieguito River Park hosted by Off Road Pursuits.  The Marathon was being held in conjunction with the San Diego 50 mile and the marathon course was run over much of the same route as the Lake Hodges 50k in reverse, with the start/finish being at the turn around of the 50k.  The goal was to run as comfortable as possible for as long as possible and remember that I was using this race as an opportunity to log long miles and practice fueling.  As I did in 2012 my plan is to run some early marathons in preparation for ultra races that I have planned later in the year.

The morning of the race I got up at 5 and had a smoothie (consisting of pear, banana, strawberries, blueberries, avocado, sweet potatoes, C20 Coconut Water and a scoop and SFH Chocolate Whey Protein),  a Bonk Breaker Bar and a Tbs. of SFH S03 Omega 3 Oil.  I grabbed my gear bag and a pre-made bottle of SFH In-Race formula and headed to the race.  I was stoked that the race was close and that I was pretty familiar with the course.

I purposely restricted my warm up to calisthenics and drills so that I wouldn't be tempted to run to hard to early.  I did just enough to be warm and feel good running at the start.  After a few words from race director Paul Jesse about the aid stations and the course markings we got going.  I started my feed timer on my watch and off we went.  Since Noble Canyon I've only been racing with a feed timer, no running time or gps.  I've found that this has been a key to my improved racing over the longer distances as it allows my to focus on how I feel and nothing else.  

Once we got rolling I settled into 8th place and stayed there until the first climb of the course, Raptor Ridge.  When I hit the base of the Raptor I began my climbing mantra "your climbing better then most" and one by one I started to catch a few of the runners that had been in front of me.  As I rolled in to the first aid station I had moved from 8th into 5th.  Since I was carrying my SFH in my bottle I grabbed to cup of water before heading out of the first aid station.  

For most of the race I ran Darren Rentch, a beast of an Ironman Triathlete from the East Coast running his first trail marathon and through the middle miles we stayed in 5th keeping 4th in our sites.  As we entered what I thought was the second aid station (10 miles) I grabbed a cup a water and the nice girl at the table kindly told us that it wasn't the 10 mile mark.  Bummer... I thought for a second, but judging by how many times my feed timer had gone off and being on a course I was familiar with I knew it couldn't be much further up the road.  Sure enough a few more minutes up the road and we were at the 10 mile mark.  Since we had already stopped for water we rolled through the aid station.   As we made our way to the turn around we passed the 4th and 3rd place runners and now it was only a matter of time until we got to see how the first two runners looked as they were heading for home.  I saw first place Igor Campos and he looked strong as did second place Damian Rodriquez. With trail racing it can be deceiving judging runners, especially if your climbing and they're bombing a descent but in this instance they both looked strong and I figured it we would be holding 3rd place until the finish.

When we hit the turn around I grabbed a cup of water and a cup of Rocket Fuel (coke the liquid kind of course) and off we went with 13.1 to go.  I know coke isn't the cleanest fuel but it works and never seems to upset my stomach when I race.  The plan was to negative spilt and since the legs were still feeling fresh I upped the pace to see what I had in me.  We started rolling and after the race Darren noted that we were running in the 6:30's on a few of the flatter sections. Even though I knew I could handle the rest of the race without fuel I continued to fuel every 15 minutes with my SFH In-Race.  We rolled into the final aid station at the bottom of Raptor, I was feeling content with the pace and was prepared to run rest of the way at a similar clip. 

I had finished my SFH and decide to grab another Rocket Fuel before hitting the climb.  The final aid station was manned by fellow ultra runners and neighborhood training partners Dax Ross, Chris Sigel and Cory Chapman they told us "2nd looked like he was hurting a bit and was 3-4 minutes up the trail."  Hearing that Darren said "We're getting him! I know you want to take it easy but were getting him!"  With that, the switch was flipped and I decided to see what I had in me over the final miles.  No sooner did I start the climb did Every Single Day come on the iPod.  

At this point I was climbing like a man possessed hell bent on pushing myself to the limit, grinding until the wheels came off.  From Raptor Ridge until the finish a ran solo using my mantras whenever my my would wander or tell me to ease up.  When I got to the finish I was pleasantly surprised to see the clock  at 3:15:47.   It was a great day on the trails and the weather was awesome, a great reminder as to why I live in San Diego.  Finishing the SD Trail Marathon has left me hungry and excited for the 2013 race schedule!  Many thanks to RD Paul Jesse for putting on another epic event with Off Road Pursuits.  I'd also like to thank all the volunteers at all the aid stations for making the race such an unbelievable experience.  Here's to another epic year of racing! StopMe

24 December 2012

Training 12/17 - 12/23

Monday: Strength : Pull up 5 x 5, Single Arm Row 5 x 10, Step up 2 x 20, Bent over row (straight bar) 5 x 15, Sit up 5 x 25 (circuit style not for time)
Run : 1 mile warm up, 800 in's & out's (Progressive straight away, walk the turn), Technique Drills.  10 x 100 meter run with 100 meter walking recovery.  1 mile cool down & stretch.

Tuesday: Strength : Press 5 x 5, 65# - 5 x's 10 DB Hang Power Clean, 10 DB Front Squat, 10 DB Push Press @ 25#
Run : 4.5 miles along the coast in Encinitas

Wednesday: 1h:43m ride, from Encinitas to San Marcos

Thursday: Strength : Deadlift (DE) 4 EMOM for 7:00 @ 135# - 3 x's 80m Farmer Carry w. 40# DB, 20 Step up 24", 20 KB Swing 53#
Run: 48:00 on the coast in Encinitas, the running legs are coming back, felt good to run again. knee pain was minor. Running slow hurts, simple run faster!

Friday: Strength Front Squat : 5 x 5 @ 155# then Tabata (8x :20/:10) Airdyne rest 4 minutes, Bottom to Top Squat resting in the bottom position.

Saturday: Run : Track 10 x 200 in :36-:34 (fast running = no knee pain)

Sunday: 1h:00m run around Encinitas Ranch (2.2 mile loop in reverse)

All in all it was a good week.  I know my body will thank me down the road but after three weeks off from running I felt pretty shitty running those first few runs.  Glad to be back on it and look forward to the SD Trail Marathon at the end of Jan.  The plan is to use it as a hard long run but you know how the goes once you toe the line and the gun is fired.  My self control will be tested.  Another good opportunity to practice race fueling.  Merry Christmas and here's to a healthy, happy productive 2013!

16 December 2012

Training week of 12/10-12/16

With a slight pain in the left knee still,  I decide to hold off one more week before resuming run training.  I figure with the racing I'm planning on for 2013 there's no need to rush back into training.  This also allows me to focus more on strength training as 2012 closes out.

Monday: 90+ minute spin through the hills of San Marcos
Strength: 5 x 20 Russian KB Swing 53# w. 1:30 rest, 5 x 15 Goblet Squat 53# w. 1:30 rest, 5 x 10 Bulgarian Bag Shoulder to Spin (5l/5r) 36# w. 1:00 rest, 5 x 5 Good Morning w. Bulgarian Bag 36# w. 1:00 rest.

Tuesday: Strength only DB Press 5-5-5-5-5 (35# set 1-3, 40 set 4 & 5) rest 5 minutes then, 10:00 AMRAP 10 KB Swing(russian), 10 Burpee, 10 Sit Up (first Met-Con in months) 6 rounds + 3 KBSwing.

Wednesday: 1:40 Ride through Encinitas into Rancho Santa Fe and back.  Tough climbs in these parts. Stretch and ice.

Thursday: Strength : Back to basics Deadlift 5 x 5 @ 155 (first time pulling from the floor since late September or early October).
Conditioning: AirDyne Max Cal 10 x :30/:30 (still trying to wrap my head around 300 cal in 10:00.  How people average 424 watts for 10:00 is unimaginable right now.  Some day!)
Yoga: Yoga Tropics in Encinitas 60 minutes Warm.

Friday: Strength : Thruster (DE) 65# 4 EMOM for 8:00 then 3 rounds 10 Wall Ball 18#, 15 Slam Ball C & J, 20 Push up (hand release)

Saturday: Rest Day

Sunday: 2:05 Ride through Encinitas into San Elijo, lots of climbing fueled by the soothing sounds of Hi-Fi Mystery School.  Definitely felt my knee on some of the steeper climbs today.

All in all it was a solid week of training but after three weeks of from running I'm certainly ready to start logging some miles again.

11 December 2012

December is for down time.

Now that the 2012 racing season is over for me, it's time to circle the wagons, regroup, rebuild and gear up for the 2013 season.  After a complete week of rest, post Quad Dipsea I returned to training with a week of light strength work and cycling.  Now into my third week of no running I've upped the intensity of the strength training (Mon, Tue - Thu, Fri) while keeping the time in the saddle about the same (90 minutes every other day).  The goal through December is to rebuild my body and regain strength lost during the last four months of volume training and racing three ultra marathons.  Training and racing really came together in 2012 and although some of the races with be different in 2013 I'm going to use the same template to prepare as I did in 2012.  

Early in the year the focus will be strength and speed specific with lots of focus on heavy lifts and track work with shorter races on the calendar.  As the season progress strength training will transition to Max Effort Black Box approach as well as an increase in volume of my running and the distance of my races.  Finally as race day gets closer on the calendar, strength training will transition into maintenance phase and run training will be very event specific for two months leading in to the start on priority race number 1.

Priority race number 1 will come in July, when I take another crack at running the 20in24 Lone Ranger, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.  The 2011, 20in24 was my first attempt at ultra marathoning.  84.5 miles in 19+ hours, falling short of my goal of either running 100 miles or completing 24 hours.  Falling short of those goals has stayed with me ever since, so close yet so, so far away.  The need for redemption at the 20in24 burns even more then it did for NC50K or the QD.  Even though both those races broke me I still managed to finish them. The 20in24 forced me into submission after the 10th, 8.4 mile loop.  This years event I will have an added bonus of having my brother as my partner in crime.  Though thick and thin we've been through it all and now were going to run to hell and back, with a smile on our face the whole time.

05 December 2012

Mantra: Are you present?

In my Quad Dipsea race report, I touched briefly on how I used my mantras to keep me present throughout the race.  Simple put a Mantra is a sound, syllable, word or phrase that is considered capable of creating transformation.  Mantra origins can be traced back to India and the Hindu traditions and is commonly practiced by Buddhist and others.

When I first started doing this in 2010, I couldn't believe how well it worked.  Some of my first mantras were phrases like "don't force, don't chase" and "smooth is fast". Over and over for miles upon miles these simple things would quiet the voice in my head that told me to slow down because I was hurting.

I've had several mantras since, some worked better then others and some have been more spiritual then others.  Because of the success of using mantras during races, I now find myself using them on a day to day basis.  If my thoughts begin to wander to events of the past or to dreams of the future I refocus on the present by repeating my mantra until my head clears and I'm satisfied that I've returned to the present.  To often it becomes easy to think about good/bad times of the past or to day dream about plans for the future but the only thing that matters is the here and the now.  When you're thinking about the past or the future you're not focused on the present and if you're not present your missing out.  Life's to short to be missing out.  Find you Mantra, stay present and do epic shit!  After all; If not now? Then when? StopMe

Currently I've been using a phrase I picked up from Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh; I have arrived. I am home. In the here. In the now. I am solid. I am free. In the ultimate I dwell.

03 December 2012

RunningWOD @ Gunx CF

This past weekend I ventured back to the East Coast for my final RunningWOD Clinic of 2012.  On Saturday I spent the afternoon at Gunx CF in Gardiner, NY teaching run technique to a dedicated mix of endurance athletes and crossfitters.  The gym had ample indoor space for drills and allowed use(me) to stay warm!  As we worked through the drills it was great to see the athletes movement patterns improve.  It's never a quick fix or an overnight process and I reminded the group that the drills are something that I still practice on a regular basis.  I usually incorporate the drills into my warm up for interval work and other harder efforts.  Remember  Practice does not make perfect.  Only perfect practice makes perfect.  -Vince Lombardi

Contact RichAirey@gmail.com to schedule a RunningWOD clinic in 2013

28 November 2012

Quad Dipsea 2012

2012 was my year for redemption at the Quad Dipsea. No matter how crazy it has been at some points, my focus on the Dipsea trail never swayed.  Training had gone great leading up to the race; early in the year  the focus was racing at shorter distances(In February I even ran an indoor 1600 finishing in 4:47).  May, June and July I ran Marathons as my long runs, finishing all three in just over 3:00.  The focus there was controlled hard running and fueling.  In August I ramped up the milage and added some back to back long days with a good deal of climbing on the legs.  During the final tune up I ran 50k's in September and October. One with a good deal of climbing the other flat and fast.  My training log over the last three months can be found at RunningWOD.  This also includes my strength training as well.

All was good until Thursday morning.  I was finishing up my run and with less the 400m to go my right calf cramped.  I immediately stopped and walked back to my car. As the anxiety started to set in all I could think was, is this it?!? All this build up down the drain, am I going to have to tell everyone the Dipsea didn't happen?  When I got home I immediately downed a bottle of water and doubled up on the Nuun and went to work with the foam roller and the peanut.  This has happened to me before and it's put me out for a few days, so to say I was panicking was a huge understatement but I tried not to think about it and enjoy Thanksgiving.

When I woke up Friday morning my calf was still tight but mentally I felt better heading to the airport.  I was stoked to be flying Virgin America and I highly recommend it if you have the opportunity!  After landing and checking in to my hotel I headed to Old Mill Park to check out the start and the infamous steps.  I walked the steps, all 684 of them, hung out at the top to enjoy the sunset, take some pictures and thought about what tomorrow had in store.  My confidence was a little rattled but I knew if my calf held up it was going to be a good day. 

Saturday arrived and after I picked up my number I started my warm up.  5 minutes into my warm up I felt a slight twinge in my calf but tried not to focus on it.  I tried to relax and zone out to my music.  From my run I transitioned in to my dynamic movement drills being careful not to over do it and with 20 minutes to gun time I said to myself stop thinking about it and just go until you can't go anymore.  With that it was out of my head and I headed to the car to gear up and hit the bathroom one last time before the start.

The Quad is a race like no other, it offers some of the most challenging terrain I ever run but  it also has some of the most amazing, awe inspiring views I've ever laid my eyes on.  The race starts and within 200 meters you hit a wall of steps that is so long you can't even see the top.  As we hit the steps I over heard a spectator cheer for the runner next to me and his response was, "they can run the steps all they want." That runner ended up being Runner Up Justin Morejohn.  I agreed and decided there was no need to smoke myself within the first two minutes of a 28.4 mile race.  Once I had hiked the 684 steps I began my journey to Stinson Beach.  I had an overall memory of the course and a few select gnarly sections burned in my brain but for the most part didn't remember much course from last year.  All I remembered was that it was extremely difficult and when I crossed the line I was a broken man.  Knowing I was better prepared I still played it cautious during the first half of the race.  As we hit the first descent I heard footsteps rapidly approaching I moved to the side of the trail and three runners blew past me putting 100 meters into me in less the ten seconds.  At that moment I had two thoughts 1. How do people run that fast downhill without killing themselves and 2. I'll see you again as we climb to the top of Cardiac.  It was still very early in the race and the most important thing I've learned over the years is that first and for most it's a race against yourself. Once you start racing someone else's race your dead in the water.  Too many times I've ruined races by racing others and not myself. I race my best when I block everything out and battle myself.  

As it turns out I'm much better at going up then I am at going down and as we hit the base making our way up Hogsback I began to use my mantras.  My mantras are quick and simple things that I say to myself to keep me focused and present.  I use them so my mind doesn't wonder and to stay positive as the climbs gets steeper or when it has no end in site.  They keep me moving forward and when your running an ultra, moving forward is the name of the game.  The first one I used was "I am not the body. I am not the mind. I am something divine." Over and over I repeat this to myself, step after step.  A lot of times this does the trick, I stay focused, I stay positive and I get to the top.  At races like Noble Canyon or at the QD when the climbing can be relentless I pull out the big guns.  When I'm really hurting I picture my brother Jim (my pit crew) cheering for me saying over and over "you're climbing better then most Dawg!"  In the past, at times when I have tended to be negative, it's always my brother that helps me see the positivity of any situation and it's at those points on a climb when it can be so easy to get down on yourself, I use this.  

As I suspected by the time I had reached the top of Cardiac I had moved past the runners that had passed me early and sure enough as we ran down into Stinson they eventually caught and passed me again.  It was still early and the steps on the back side of the course are way more gnarly then the steps at the start and again, they disappeared into the forest in front of me.  When I reached the turn around I was in fifth, I handed off my bottle to one of the volunteers for a refill and mixed my SFH*.  I was feeling good, took a deep breath and headed back towards Mill Valley.  It's tough to say which direction is more difficult, both are equally challenging and the climbs are step. I continued on with my strategy of walking the steep sections of steps and used my mantras when I was running on the climbs.  I moved up to fourth on climb back to the aid station at  Cardiac but by the time I had returned to Mill Creek Park and made the turn to start the second out and back I had slipped back to sixth place. 

I refilled my bottle and headed back up the Dipsea Steps, again I walked.  Once at the top of steps I set my sight on getting to the aid station at 18.7 miles, focusing on my own race knowing that if I kept moving forward I was pretty sure I would catch the guys that passed me on the downhills.  One of the cool things I had noticed was the feeling of the pine needles under my feet as ran through the wooded sections and even though I was suffering on the climbs, I was enjoying myself.  I had moved into fifth and I was pretty sure my mantra of "you're climbing better then most Dawg" was on point and true as entered the aid station.  

A while back I read Sabrina Moran's blog (about her 24 American Record) where she had waited until 17 hours before she allowed herself to used her ipod and since last year I was over my ipod 10 minutes into the race I decided I would hold off until the later portion of the race.  Once I hit the aid station, I refilled my bottle and decided now was the time for some music.  I had just suffered over the highest point of the course and had a good stretch to push the pace before the steps and then the turn for the final 7+ miles.  If there was ever a time for a little musical fuel injection now was the time.  I made sure I put some effort into my playlist but didn't arrange the songs in any particular order.  However I did make sure that this was the first song I would hear.

As I hit play and headed to Stinson I was once again reminded that my pit crew is always with me and new I was good to go!  To the beach I went.

It might have been the music but I honestly felt like I was bombing the descents much like the runners that danced away from me early on in the race.  As I got closer to the turn I saw the leader and eventual winner Brett Rivers, this time he was all alone out front, smiling as he headed back to the finish.  Justin Morejohn had moved into second and the third place runner at the time looked like he was hurting pretty bad.  As we passed each other on the trail I smelled blood and when I hit the aid station at Stinson I told myself "you can get third if you run this last 7"

My strategy on the way home was simple hammer on the runnable sections, hike up the steep sections of steps and use my mantras to get up and over the climbs as efficiently as possible.  As I climbed back up out of Stinson Beach I had third and fourth in my sights as I got closer to entering the woods.  By the time I hit the steps I had caught fourth and each time I got to a level section a ran to the next section of steps trying to time into fifth place.  The wooded section heading back up to Mt Tamp is something out of a movie it's the most epic running I've ever encountered.  Even though steps there are ridiculously hard I was feeling good and was making ground on third.  Shortly after I saw third place  walking on one of the switchbacks and again "you're climbing better then most Dawg" gave me the push I needed to move into third.  When I arrived at the aid station at mile 23.7, I new the worst was behind me.  I knew I still had to roll in order to maintain third but I had a long descent I could bomb and one climb that was minor compared to what I had already done.

When I handed my bottle to a volunteer for a refill he said, "you look great, you're in third. second place has a sprained ankle and was limping pretty bad and first place fell and hurt his shoulder." I said really? No way your F*ck!ng with me!?! He smiled and said "yup!"  Traditionally something that would have caused a WTF Dick!,  reaction but those negative vibes don't do anyone any good.  I smiled grabbed my bottle mixed my SFH and took off running.  As I left the aid station this shot into my ears and I blasted off for the finished, determined to get a podium finish.       

Descending down Cardiac I was completely focused on moving forward using my matras and the music to push as hard as I could.  With just my feed timer going off every 15 minutes* and mile marks(which I wasn't looking for) on the course I had no idea of my time or or the distance covered or remaining.  Not having my GPS allows me to run on feel rather then worry about what sort of pace I'm running or what pace I think I should be running.  If your racing for results pace is irrelevant.  If you finish with a good placing your going to be stoked and any improvement in time is an added bonus.  With that being said when I passed the 3 mile mark I knew I had less then 30 minutes of hard running ahead of me.

With 3 to go my only concern that I was putting enough time into Greg Benson in fourth, so that I could avoid almost killing myself again on the steps at the finish.  Last year I fell, holding off the runner behind me on the Dipsea steps 400 meters from the finish.  When I hit the steps I gave a quick look back to make sure I was in the clear.  At that moment I was sure third was mine and I had secured a spot on the podium! With one hand I the rail I did my best to get down the steps as quickly  and safely as possible.  I hit the road and crossed the bridge finishing with a little fist pump checking the clock as I crossed the line.

When it was all said and done I had finished 3rd place over all running 4:41:57.  Mission accomplished! I moved up from my 18th place finish in 5:04 from 2011.  

*As I mentioned early I only ran with a feed timer that had set to remind me every 15 minutes to fuel and hydrate.  For fuel I used Stronger Faster Healthier In-Race formula Lime flavor.  Every 15 minutes I would take in 4-6 oz. of fuel and carried additional single serv. packets with me in my race pack to refill at the aid stations.  SFH has been my go to fuel source for all my marathons and ultras in 2012 (3 marathons and 3 ultras) 170 miles of racing fueled on protein and fat!

Here's the Track from my play list and the order they play from Mile 18.7 until I finished
1. My Brother the Gun - Mariachi El Bronx
2. Music Sounds Better With You - Stardust
3. The Night Out - Martin Solveig
4 Kick Out The Jams - MC5
5. Time Will Tell - Bob Marley & The Wailers
6. Recipe For Hate - Bad Religion
7. Trip (Teen Daze Remix) p Vacationer
8. Pyramid - John Dahlback
9. Bigger Than Kiss - Teenage Bottlerocket
10. Fire In Your New Shoes (feat Dragonette) Kaskade
11. Now is the Time (2020 Soundsystem remix) Layo & Bushwacks
12. In a Big Country - Big Country
13. Fu-Gee-La - The Fugees
14. Broken English - Rise Against
15. Vicarious - Tool
16. Cold On The Ceiling - The Black Keys
17. Nutshell (Live) - Alice in Chains
18. Next Girl - The Black Keys
19. Hard Times - Cro-Mags
20. Percolator (Claude VonStroke Remix) - Cajmere
21. We Found Love (feat Calvin Harris) - Rihanna
22. I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow - The Soggy Bottom Boys
23 Paper Wings - Rise Against
24. Your Worst Mistake - Strung Out
25. Beautiful People (feat. Benny Benassi) Chris Brown