Saturday, May 29, 2010

23.4 miles, 5000'+ vertical, 5 hours of running. 2 hours enjoying the beautiful weather and company. Mad Creek/Swamp Park to Red Dirt to Saddle Trail to connector road then out and back on Hot Springs trail. A very special run that I don't want to write much about. Just remember.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


The weather has finally turned the corner and it looks like spring has finally arrived in the 'Boat. Sunny skies and drying out trails got me excited to run in my Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs). Basically a foot glove, the VFFs allow you to run so that your feet strike the ground as if unshod. This, supposedly, allows for better technique and strengthening of the feet.

Tuesday, I did the hill climb to Second Vista with Benihana. I immediately noticed a shortening in my stride, a reduction in speed and more careful foot placement. The VFFs do offer plenty of protection but the whole idea of barefoot running is to run lightly and not strike the ground so hard. This reduces overall stress on the legs as you run and allows you to run longer, both in mileage and in years. Roughly 4 miles of hills and :55 of running. I felt great afterwards and decided to do a longer, proper trail run on Wednesday.

Left the Mad Creek trailhead at 5:06 p.m. and ran the familiar and fun 4+ miles to Elk Park before turning around. My total run time was 1:34 and I could DEFINITELY feel my feet getting tender as I ran the last mile downhill to finish. My stride was very short at the end and I just straight up walked when the trail got too rocky. No serious pain, though. Just the familiar feeling of new muscles being woken up. I felt great in this morning and even better, some plantar fascitis that was developing in my left foot has actually subsided since I've been barefoot running. No shit! Even after today's light hill workout up to First Vista (2.66 miles, +600', :44), I'm doing well.

Looking forward to a mega long run with Katie tomorrow much further up Mad Creek (a.k.a. Swamp Park) Trail into the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area. I'm positive we'll be the first ones that far up the trail this year. Barefootin' is fun, but I'll be wearing shoes for this one!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Been off the blog for a little while (having some computer issues) but the running is going very well. I was recently asked to pace for my friend Katie at this year's Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run. I gladly accepted and plan to meet her at the turnaround at Winfield and run the entire 50 mile course back to Leadville with her. My goal will be to make sure she keeps eating and drinking and generally watching out for her through the night of running. If possible, I want to help Katie get to the finish line by 5 a.m., so that she finishes in her goal of under 25 hours. But I think that goal will be secondary to just finishing.

I suffered through a few days with a stomach bug last week and didn't run a step for five days. I've rebounded now and ended last week by run-commuting to work, a super fun way to get a workout in, save some time, stay motivated and save some gas. Two seven mile runs on back to back days, a little under an hour each time.

Saturday, I did a doubler, ran with Benihana for an hour in the morning on the trails up past Second Vista and turned around at a spot I call "Cowboy Coffee." Good hill work followed by an evening run up Spring Creek Trail to the 10th bridge that crosses the creek, which I figure to be about a half mile from the end of the trail at Dry Lake. About 9 miles or so for the round trip. Much of the trail was really good to run but there are several sections that are still very wet or flooded and a few downed trees and a little snow along the way, as well. Immediately after the 10th bridge, the snow is still too deep to navigate. If temperatures climb into the 80s this weekend, as is forecast, Spring Creek might be good to go end to end. I ran at dusk, hoping to use my headlamp some, but made it back before it was very dark. A nice two-hour effort, for 3 hours of running on Saturday.

Sunday, I drove down to Wolford Mountain Reservoir, just a couple miles north of Kremmling. Creeps had suggest that I go down there if I wanted to run some dry trail and he was dead on. A short 45 minute drive and I was running on dry, desert like trails with not a jacker in sight. Everything was alright!

Being my first time here I wasn't sure what to expect. I carried a 21 oz. bottle of water, a couple of gels and an energy bar for what I was hoping would be a 3 hour run. Started out around 10:30 a.m. under sunny skies. I ran about a quarter mile across the dam to the trail head and immediately started climbing as I proceeded around the southern side of Wolford Mountain. After about 200' the double track trail flattened out a bit but then began rolling smoothly and some great views of snow covered peaks in the distance revealed themselves as I cruised along. The wide open views allowed me to easily circumnavigate my way around to the backside of Wolford, even though there were many tributary trails. I passed a single hiker and continued for a few miles on a quiet dirt road before hitting the biggest climb of the trail, a 400'rise on the double track that snaked it's way up Wolford's northern side. (Ate a Honey Stinger gel here and noticed my water supply was going to be tight by the end of my run.) An equally impressive downhill followed and I enjoyed the speedy, quad pounding descent. I met four dirt bikers on the trail and they were all very cool about sharing the trail, slowing and waving as they passed. I followed the trail down almost all the way to the reservoir before cutting back uphill and running the meandering and up and down trail along the western side of the mountain. Cool breezes off the reservoir to my right kept me cool as I saw the loop's end coming up after a couple more miles of wide open running. As I ran down the trail to finish the loop, I checked my watch and had finished it in 1:27. The challenge was set to run the loop again and finish in three hours, so I started climbing once again. I followed the exact same route until I was coming back around the western face and tried to take a higher trail, through the trees. This ended up being a mistake as the trail went up but then started to back track in the opposite direction I need to go. I ended up doing about a half mile of bushwacking to get back on the original route. I didn't add much, if any, significant distance to the run by my detour as I finished the loop and ran back across the dam as I heard my alarm signal the third hour. Finished my run in 3:01.09, not sure of the actual distance but I estimate about 9 miles per loop, the total 18 miles or so. Great weekend where I got in a total of six hours of running.

Wolford Mountain would be a good place to bring Bob's GPS on a run. It would tell me not only my linear distance but also vertical distance. All in all, I'm definitely sold on running there. There are many more miles of trail options, including a summit route and there's considerably less snow here during the year than in Steamboat, so the trails will be available a couple more months out of the year. Superb place to mountain bike, as well. Fast but also moderately technical due to the loose rocks.

Today, I ran road hills around the neighborhood for about 45 minutes. Climbed to the top of Laurel Lane and worked my way back home. I did run hard at times even though it was supposed to be a short recovery run at an easy pace. I'm actually more sore this evening from running hard on the road than I was after running easy on trails for 3 hours yesterday. Go figure.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Holy Craptastic Weather, Batman!

Man, I don't even want to really write about this week. I'm all ready for spring, like most people 'round these parts, and it's been cold, rainy and snowy all MONTH! This week took the cake, as I was finally worn down by Mother Nature's unfair hand and just did not want to run unless it was dry. Tuesday, I went out for another rainy ass 4 miles and just couldn't deal. To make matters worse, top of my left foot started hurting. Sheesh. Wednesday, I stayed home and watched the weather get even worse as it just straight up snowed all evening. Thursday, we got a reprieve in the weather and I was so happy for decent weather that even after a full 8 hours at the shop, I managed a 1:53.13, 13.5 miles out-and-back up Hwy 40 towards Rabbit Ears Pass. I turned around after climbing about 800' up the pass at an awesome vista overlooking the Yampa Valley and stopped for a minute to take in the view. My stomach started feeling really queasy during the run but it subsided and I didn't think much of it until I didn't have an appetite last night. Some strange gastro-intestinal issue that has been lingering through today. Because of that, I decided to rest again (and it rained) and just get in some quality miles this weekend. I really need to get a Rec Center pass so I can swim on days when I can't or don't want to run.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Just a couple training notes from the past few days. Saturday, I tried to get a long trail run in and went to Mad Creek in the morning. The weather has been either rainy, snowy or generally shitty for May. The trails were in good shape in plenty of spots but overall, they aren't quite ready yet. I ran up Saddle Trail to Red Dirt and it was a virtual stream in some spots. Once I got up to Red Dirt Trail and started climbing the trail was, again, good in most spots, but plenty of snow still remained and I had to turn around after only a mile or so due to deep snowpack above 9000' or so. At this time, however, Benihana decides to run off into the woods. I ran the same damn section of trail back and forth for 20 minutes until he came back. When he did, he was too tired to run fast and we slowly ran about 5 miles back to the truck. Thanks for vibing my run, little guy. I ended up running about 2 hours that morning and went back out that evening to run about 40 minutes until I was satisfied.

Sunday, I didn't run because I went down to Boulder to get my tattoo worked on. I would've liked to run before my appointment but it was at 10 a.m. and it's a 3 hour drive.

Monday, I ran just over 5 miles around the mountain neighborhoods at a quick pace finishing in 40-something minutes (too lazy to go look it up). It was a chilly fucking 41 degrees and pretty much rained steadily on my ass the entire run. I may have run a little too fast, though, on the long downhills. I'm feeling some odd, sharp pain in top of my feet today. I actually tried to talk myself out of running on the way home from work, but went out anyway, and felt off the entire time. I turned around after a couple miles and took it easy on the way home. Don't know if it's the weather (tonight was light rain and cold again) or my body but I suspect it's a little of both that I need a small break from. I'm ready for some sunny, warm weather.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Recovery Week

Man, I've enjoyed a couple great runs this week as I bounce back from the little 25 miler last weekend. I was very curious about how long it would take for me to feel strong again and I really believe my training cycles are paying off because I was good to go early in the week.

Sunday, was a rest day, for sure. The soreness from the race really settled in and I could primarily feel the lactic acid build up in my quadraceps and hamstrings. Below the knees, I felt great. The soreness was evenly distributed throughout my upper legs and felt like the result of hard running, not injury. Very good pain. Monday, felt better but not enough to run, so I took another day off.

Tuesday, I was still a little sore, but felt a little like running anyway. I hiked/ran a couple hills with Benny, amounting to 1.5 - 2 miles, which I considered more of an active rest than a run. The legs were happy to get moving, although sluggishly.

By Wednesday, I felt ready to run properly and headed up to Mad Creek after work. Getting there just after 5 p.m., I was the only person in the parking lot and started the gradual uphill at an easy pace. Once I felt warmed up, I picked up the pace a little and really enjoyed the trail. Only a few sections of snow or mud and the rest of the trail was nice and tacky. I ran to the Wilderness Area boundary and back out while the weather remained overcast and a little cool and windy. As I finished the last half mile or so, I passed a couple mountain bikers, then a pack of about 8-12 trail runners, heading up the trail. I found out later that it's a local club of runners that meets on Wednesdays. I wouldn't mind running with them sometime to make my running a little more social. Finished a great 8 mile trail run in 1:07, with only the slightest tightness in my left quad.

Thursday, I was feeling really good despite a full day of wrenching and took it out on the road. Ran the flat, straight stretch of Hwy 40 towards Rabbit Ears, for 5 miles and turned around. When I started my run, I told myself I would try to maintain an 8:00 min/mile or better pace. I hit the turn around in exactly 40 minutes and decided to push for negative splits on the way home. Finished in just over 78 minutes, good for a 7:48/mile pace, and my fastest 10 in a long, long time. Thanks, health. Quite amazed I was able to maintain that kind of pace (felt fast for me) for 10 miles just 5 days after running 25. I'm encouraged, though. I thought I would have to run much easier this week but my last two efforts felt incredibly good and I'm really starting to see and feel the improvement in my running. Verdict? Still addicted.

I got an incredible offer this week, as far as running opportunities go. My neighbor, Katy, is running the Leadville Trail 100 this August and asked me to pace her. The Leadville 100 is one of the classic ultramarthons in the United States, taking place in Leadville, Colorado at elevations over 10,000'. She is allowed to have someone run with her late in the race(after 70 miles, I believe) to help her keep her pace and to look out for her safety on the trail. Leadville is one of the 100-milers I've been considering as my first, so this is a great chance to run on the course (at night, no less) and get a feel for the race. I was already considering going to the Leadville 100 training camp at the end of June and will almost assuredly do it now. I'm am super stoked and looking forward to helping get Katie across that finish line.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Collegiate Peaks Trail Run Race Report

Collegiate Peaks Trail Run

The weather over Colorado has been pretty ugly for the last few days, but it cleared up and was absolutely perfect for this morning’s 20th running of the Collegiate Peaks Trail Run in Buena Vista. The race started at the Buena Vista Community Center, promptly at 6:30 a.m. and the skies were clear, the air cold and the wind that had been plaguing the area the night before was gone. I had a motel room at the Topaz Lodge, just a little ways from the start and I ran to the race start to warm up. Christian had rolled down with me the night before and was going to meet me at the finish with the dogs . I got to the start, took a couple pictures and heard somebody yell, “Go!” and we were off.

About 300 people (purely an estimate) started the race which consisted of 25 mile and 50 mile racers, all starting together, the 50 milers repeating the course in the counter-clockwise direction. (I was there for the easy day, only 25.) The early morning was cold in the high mountain town sitting at 8000’ but the sky was clear and everyone knew the sun would be making it‘s appearance soon enough. We started on a dirt road and funneled onto a single track trail before hitting the road for a couple miles. By the time we turned off onto the next dirt road, we were pretty well strung out and it was easy to find a comfortable pace and room to run.

The early part of the race was awesome. Cold air but the body was warm. I wore a light jacket and a pair of wicking shirts, one long sleeve one short, and shorts, gloves and a beanie for the first six or seven miles. When it got warmer, I stowed my jacket but put my gloves and beanie back on a couple times. The scenery was beautiful and the course not technical and easy to run on lots of rolling hills. I bypassed the first aid station because I was well supplied and kept running. I checked my watch afterward and saw I was already too far (:17) behind the pace to finish under 4 hours. (Something told me I was going to be happy just finishing.) I decided to just run my own race and ran the next leg fairly hard. At first, I was worried about fading at the end but then I just accepted the fact that it was going to happen because I just didn’t have the legs I was going to need in the 3 to 4 hour portion of the race. So, I put my head down and just had fun with it.

The race course continued to provide vista after vista of the gorgeous Collegiate Peaks (Mt. Harvard and Mt. Princeton, both 14,000’ peaks) and I ran with my camera to capture a few of the scenes. I did walk/hike a couple of the steepest hills but less than a few hundred yards for the entire race and feel like I can claim “running” the entire 25 miles. I do have the soreness to prove it. I passed every aid station except the last, #5 at 21.8 miles to refill my water bottle and grab a handful of potato chips and M&Ms.

The notable climbs came between miles 7 and 10 (800’) and miles 14 and 18 (1000’), but both climbs were on dirt roads with only a couple steep sections. Very runnable. The down hills were long and fun and mostly on wide enough trail that you could get some really good speed going, if you were so inclined. That is, until later in the race, after 20 miles, when they hurt as much as the up hills.

As I knew would happen, I started to fade in the last 7 miles . I was trained well through the half-marathon distance but a few more miles after that my legs started getting harder and harder to lift. I could see how the better trained athletes were pulling away from me in the later miles and they looked STRONG. But that’s why I was here, to build my endurance so I can eventually run like some of these amazing athletes. I saw some very impressive running today. Particularly from the lead runners in the 50 mile race. They looked so fresh as they passed me going the other way. I was really inspired by how much these runners had obviously prepared for their long day.

The most technical part of the course was some single track at the end, which wound about with many curves and switchbacks, and lots of roots and rocks to watch for. As I descended the trail and finally heard the river below, I knew I was in the last mile. The trail parallels the river and I started, thankfully, looking for the bridge which I had to cross before running about 300 more yards to the finish. I could hear Christian yelling my name from across the river and I perked up and was able to pass one more runner before I got to the bridge. Turned on the jets to finish strong at the end and crossed the finish line at 4 hours and 21 minutes. A super solid effort I am proud of and a really fun race course. Definitely a full-on mountain race, from the weather to the thin air and hills. I didn’t attend any of the post-race festivities but there were events and a good crowd of people had attended the race.

I can’t imagine running the 50 today. I was relieved to finish the 25 and was calling the 50-milers “crazy” the same way people call me crazy for wanting to run them! I’m such a hypocrite. The weather was getting a little colder and windier as I was finishing and I wouldn’t have wanted to be out on that course for another 5+ hours if it got much colder. Today, I opted for sanity. J

Anyway, big Up to the Buena Vista Optimist Club for putting on a great race. Creeps and I had a cool time visiting BV and the dogs loved the parks. I had a great time. Even the drive there and back was beautiful. I wouldn’t be surprised if I go back there next year and do the 25 miler again. I really liked that distance. You can run some fast down hills but you have to save something for later in the race, too. I’d like to arrive there in better condition, too, and get that sub-4 hour time I think I’m capable of getting.

I have the usual post race soreness from glutes to the Achilles’ but feel like I will be ready to run again in a day or two. This will be an easy week but I’ll be back to double digit mile runs by next weekend. Hopefully, by the following weekend, the trails will be thawed out enough in the high country to do a long run of 20-25 miles on one of the trails around here. Otherwise, I think I’ll be going down to the Front Range and run trails around Boulder.

Last week of April

Sunday, I attempted to run Spring Creek Trail to it’s end at Dry Creek on Buffalo Pass. I left Benny at home and once I saw how muddy and puddle-ridden the woods were, I was glad that I had. The skies were grey all day long and it traded off between raining, snowing and cold windiness. The sun took the day off. I figured that I would have the trail pretty much to myself and I was right. The crappy weather was keeping most people at home. Much like Mad Creek, however, there was still a lot of snow covering the trail, especially on north facing aspects and above 9000’. I got lost for a little while and did some exploratory running for about 15 or 20 minutes but found a high line trail next to a canal and was able to bypass a lot of snow by running the trail higher and on the south side of the ridge. Eventually, I worked my way back onto the proper trail and found some nice, runnable sections through some aspen stands but I spent a while running in deep snow. After nearly an hour of self-imposed torture, I decided to bag the attempt to make the trail’s end and turned around. On the way back, I stayed on Spring Creek trail rather than going back to the high line and, much to my horror, found the entire lower trail to be in deep snow. The last (and first) couple miles of the trail, however, are in great condition and I finished with a great rhythm and had plenty of legs to go longer. Officially, 1:50 for my run time but it was essentially 2 hours, which felt amazing after yesterday’s 1:56 at Mad Creek.

Earlier in the year, I thought it might take me until April to get back to back two hour runs, so I am very happy that happened and that my low mileage running in February and March has built up the strength in my legs so that I’ve been able to add mileage weekly and stay injury-free. I’m actually behind where I wanted to be training-wise. I should have already done a 4 hour run in preparation for this race, but now my race this weekend has become that long run. I like the way it’s worked out more than what I planned anyway. My next goal will be to build more time-on-the-run and mileage until I am able to do back to back 4 hour runs on the weekend (or a solid 6-8 hours in one day) while still grinding out my 6 - 10 miles/day during the work week and not getting injured. Those really long runs will consist of ventures into the Zirkel Wilderness and weekend trips throughout the state and longer races, 50K and 50 Mile, throughout the rest of the year. If all that goes well, I should be in shape to make an attempt at my first 100-miler (Leadville, Tahoe, Moab or Bighorn) next year.

Monday’s run was the start of the pre-race taper in my training. The air was very cool and sky cloudy. I still felt amazing and started with what I felt would be my race pace for Saturday. Ran just shy of 5 miles along Hwy 40 on the way to Rabbit Ears Pass in :43.24 and figure my marathon pace (on the road) is about 8:36/mile. I turned around and picked up the pace to a comfortably fast 7:30/mile and ran that for about 4 miles because it just felt great. The sun beamed through the clouds on a couple occasions and shafts of light shot down on a select ranch in the valley. I slowed a little and ran home along the bike path, the run about 9.9 miles in 1:22.11.

Tuesday, I ran next to the road up Bear Drive and over to Ski Trail Lane, under the gondola. It’s a fun, hilly run that I’ve come to enjoy with the low to no traffic. Ran easily and comfortably, mentally checking my form and body sense, as usual. A fun 4.5 miles around the Mountain’s neighborhoods in :40 at 8:48/mile pace.

Wednseday, I just chilled. I have been strategizing a little for Saturday and set some concrete goals. First, run the whole race. I was thinking about taking it easy, walking some hills and just finishing but fuck that. If this were a 50 miler, I would expect to be doing some walking to save something for later in the day. I know I can finish a marathon distance race but not if I can RUN the whole distance on mountain trails. I owe it to my legs to punish the shit out of them, anyway. So, no matter how slowly, keep running. Next, I’m going to shoot for a sub-4 hour finish. I only need to maintain an overall 9:36/mile for the race to accomplish that, which is doable. I’ve worked out the following times that I need to arrive at each aid station based on that pace: Start - 0miles - 6:30a.m., A.S. #1 - 5.7miles - 7:20 a.m., A.S. #2 - 11.7miles - 8:20 a.m., A.S. #3 - 14.6miles - 8:40 a.m., A.S. #4 - 17.9miles - 9:20 a.m., A.S. #5 - 21.8miles - 9:55 a.m., Finish - 25miles - 10:30 a.m. I want to limit my aid station stays to under ten seconds, if I stay at all. I’m carrying a water bottle, a mini bottle of electrolyte and some gels, so I won’t really need to stop. Maybe for some food later in the race. Race conditions should be cool and cloudy, if not rain/snow (30%). The course should be tacky, if not full-on muddy in sections, with some new snow possible. No deep snow, though. The course is on dirt roads and single track trails and is supposed to be entirely runnable. Bring it.

Tonight, I‘m just enjoying feeling good. All my little training aches and pains have subsided and I am jazzed and ready to run on Saturday. Got Christian and a couple dogs coming down with me. Good support crew. I’m watching Avatar (again) tonight. It’s a good movie but the first time I watched it, I watched it with a runner’s mind and I thought it was amazing. The first thing Jake Sully does in his avatar body is run. When he joyously takes off barefoot running through a field, it gave me the goosebumps because I understand how he felt. People run, on a primal level, for two main reasons: out of fear and out of joy. The joy of running is something we all share, even if we don’t realize it. Later in the film, in a voiceover, Jake talks about being able to run farther everyday, feeling his energy, feeling his body getting stronger and learning to trust it, as a result of his training. Again, this is fundamental to a runner as the more you do it, the stronger you will get. Training is running increasingly harder, but listening to you body to avoid overdoing it. A runner needs to listen to his or her body . More importantly, a human needs to listen to their body. When you feel like shit, that is your body talking to you. Learn to listen. I’m learning to listen and my body says, “Eat well, sleep well, respect yourself and run far!”