Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekly Summary: May 21 - May 28

5/21 - Rest.

5/22 - 6 miles.  1000'.  Steamboat Ski Area.  Ran 10 minutes to warm up from The Lodge thru the base area and up Right of Way to Thunderhead.  From there, I did 5-minute hill intervals on Why Not Road up to Vagabond saddle (where the tepee is in the winter) before turning around and continuing intervals all the back to The Lodge.  Pretty hard effort both uphill and down for my first "speed work" session of the year.  My aerobic base is in good order after a solid winter/early spring of gradual build ups so I figure it is time to start adding some anerobic workouts. 

5/23 - 7 miles.  700'.  Spring Creek Trail.  Nice and easy steady state recovery run in some cool, wet weather on Spring Creek.  Kept the effort on the flats and downhills at 8 min/mile and did all the climbs without any hard breathing.   

5/24 - 7 miles.  400'.  Stagecoach.  A couple downhill miles warming up at 8:30 min/mile, then 3 miles steady at 7:00 min/mile on Elk Run Trail next to the lake.  Uphill back to the house at 8-9:30 min/mile.  Solid effort.

5/25 - Rest.

5/26 - 2.5 hours. 3000'.   Howelsen Hill, Emerald Mountain - Larry's - Quarry Mountain Trail - Ridge Trail (out) - Ridge Trail - Lane of Pain -Little Moab-Blackmere Drive-Howlesen Base area -roads (in).  Tough, hilly run from downtown over Emerald Mountain on several trails and out towards Cow Creek on the Ridge Trail.  Many, many healthy climbs this day, starting with Howelsen Hill face.  Ridiculous climbing at some points. Ran some good wooded single track on the ascent up Emerald with a couple of open meadows on the way.  Once on top of Emerald there are several brutally steep climbs afterward before finally hitting a couple miles of meandering downhill on the way out to Cow Creek.  It was warm and I went through a lot of water.  Long, long downhill from the top of Emerald via Lane of Pain, Little Moab and Blackmere Drive. 

5/27 - 6 miles.  Stagecoach.  Route County Road 18. - Easy effort across the dam and down the road for a few miles.  Super windy day and a little chilly.

5/28 - 12 miles.  1980'v.  "Mad Creek" (Swamp Park) Trail.  Six miles of gradual uphill on Mad Creek until I reached it's junction with Red Dirt.  Along the way, I crossed the creek a couple of times, spotted a deer and power hiked most of the ascent with trekking poles.  About 1:15 to the turnaround 6.2 miles up trail.  I ran just about every step downhill except for the most technical footing parts.  The trail is almost entirely in the woods with only a few small meadows and follows the creek the whole way and, aside from about a dozen really technical sections, is really smooth track.  Very easy to run on. 

8 day total:  50 miles.  6080'v.

A decent amount of miles and vertical this week made for some good running.  Almost all of it on trails, which makes me even happier.  Just more or less trying to mix it up and make sure my runs are fun and challenging with a little rest and easy recovery runs thrown in.   

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekly Summary: May 13 - May 20

5/13 - Rest.

5/14 - Rest.

5/15 - Walk/jog a couple miles. Stagecoach. 

5/16 - 2-3 miles.  Stagecoach.  Some very light running on trails around the area.  Still a little sore on the downhills but recovery is going well.

5/17 - 4ish miles.  1100'.  Stagecoach Mountain.  Power hiked up to The Beach from the house and then ran the downhill at a moderate tempo.  Still feeling it in the quads a bit but not much.

5/18 - Rest.

5/19 - 12 miles.  1200'.  Spring Creek Trail.  Felt very good and did a fun, uptempo run on the smoothest single track in Steamboat.  Steady uphill from town up to Dry Lake and then some fairly good turnover on the downhill back to the trailhead, with a .7 mile cool down. 

5/20 - 4 miles.  780'.  Morrison Divide Trail.  Run/hike with Benihana was abruptly halted in the first .5 mile by a black bear that was easily 500 lbs.  Fortunately, I saw the bear before the dog and turned us around long enough for the bear to run up the trail and for me to leash the dog.  After giving the animal a few minutes of breathing room, we hiked back up the trail for a couple of miles before turning around.  I was hoping I might catch another glimpse of the bear but didn't.  I did, however, see a really nice fawn and lose my sunglasses somewhere on the trail.  So, not an uneventful outing. 

I was definitely sore in the quads for the first couple of days this week but fairly impressed with how fast I was able to recover from last weekend's 50-miler.  I have to credit eating plenty of good food, taking Juice Plus+ regularly, gradually building up my activity and the right amount of rest to getting back on track so quickly.  The focus for the next couple of months will be to continue with 3 hour-long maintenance runs during the week and getting out in the mountains on the weekends for 2-4 hour runs.  More importantly, I'm looking forward to getting out to San Francisco in a month for my wedding.  And maybe a little running, too.  :)  It'll be a sweet little vacation and I can't wait to see some family and take in some of the sights down at sea level.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Quad Rock 50 Race Reort

I caught up with Bronwyn Rittner in her motorhome at a gas station in Walden after leaving work at lunch on Friday afternoon.  She was going to be providing me with a warm shelter on wheels as well as race day crew support as I attempted my fourth trail ultra in Ft. Collins the following morning.   Some veteran runners might think that being crewed at a 50-miler is unecessary but Bron's aid proved to be indespensible at Quad Rock, especially as rain fell and temperatures dropped into the 30s the evening before the race.  She had secured a campsite within 20 minutes of the start area and after dinner and last minute preparations, we retired early in anticipation of the 5 a.m. start time.

The bright sunlight, casino-like location and multitude of people should have been a clue that things were not as they seemed, but I still panicked as I frantically looked for my race gear.  Nothing was where it was supposed to be!  I panciked more.  Who is this person laying down where I laid my gear just hours before?  Why is my dog here?  I couldn't answer the questions.  Why is there now a child wearing a leash where my dog once was?  Now, I see the motorhome driving off in the distance and I run to catch it but soon lose it in the crowds of people that have materialized.  I panic more.  I'm going to miss the start!  Damn!  What is happening?  ...and suddenly, I wake up.  It is dark.  My alarm then goes off and I realize I have been dreaming and it is now 3 a.m. race day morning.  Relief strikes me and I quietly laugh to myself.  I already miss my now-pregnant wife-to-be and want to call her and tell her about my dream but it's too early.  It's going to be an interesting day.

Bron prepares breakfast and I drink some coffee.  Outside, the rain has stopped and the ground is wet and it is very cool so I dress appropriately for my run.   We arrive at the start area a little after 4:30 a.m. and as I pick up my race number I notice elite ultrarunner Krissy Moehl is working the registration tent.  I think to myself how cool it is that ultrarunning is still so small and intimate that it isn't uncommon to see the best in sport volunteering at a race (I later saw Krissy working an aid station and, again, running back to the start area).   Without any fanfare, the race begins and about 200 runners head off into the morning darkness to complete a 25 mile loop through Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Park, at least once.

Only minutes into the race, we turn onto single track trail, headlamps guiding our way, and I get the feeling that I will be pulling over into the bushes before anyone else.  After less than 2 miles of running, the notion turns into a certainty and I find a quiet spot, turn off my light and descreetly let nature run it's own course.   By the time I rejoin the race, I've fallen back to near the end of the pack but it doesn't bother me in the least as I am determined to run my own conservative race and know that I have, literally, all day to see where I stack up.  As the sun begins to come up, I find myself working my way up past a couple of groups, never working too hard, but still able to make some progress with regards to my overall position.  Still under 4 miles into the race, the climbing begins on single track, so I patiently fall into line behind about 20 people and find a hiking groove.  The morning light reveals beautiful pine trees and rocky trails that snake steeply up the mountainside but any views into the distance are obscured by thick fog.   As we climb higher, frost and a little snow cover the plants and rocks.  After a while, we hit the wide trail up to the Towers so I surge past the group and then return to a steady hike, climbing up into the cold cloud layer.  Nearing the top, I strike up a short conversation with a Ft. Collins runner who tells me he is going to his son's soccer game after he finishes his 25 mile loop.  It makes me think about my own future child and fills me with happiness as I press upwards.  At the aid station, I don't linger too long but I make sure to have my water bottle topped off and grab a handful of food to eat.  I've started eating a gel packet every 45 minutes to help keep my energy up.  After Towers, we begin the first descent and I manage to pass a few more runners as the field stretches out.  Again, I maintain a steady, even pace.  It's much colder than I expected it to be but not quite as wet.  I hope that it will warm up as the day progress, though, so when I reach the next aid station, Horsetooth, I decide to drop off my gaiters, change shoes and, optimistically, change into a short sleeve shirt, grab new gloves and eat some food and chat it up with Bronwyn a little bit.  I easily spent several minutes in the aid station before leaving feeling refreshed.

The next leg was another climb back up to Towers via a different trail.  The climb was another steep one and I'm sure I hiked almost every step to conserve energy.  On the way up, I catch a few people and one of them is Steamboat runner, Mike Hlavecek, who has finished several ultras including last years Leadville Trail 100 in just over 22 hours.  I have the utmost respect for Mike's endurance and know that if I pass him, I'm probably going too fast.  We strike up a conversation and we run the next downhill leg together until we arrive at the Arthur's Rock aid station at mile 17.6.  Again, I take my time and I see Mike take off.  It occurs to me that I should be meeting Bronwyn here but when I don't see her, I assume it was the next aid station or something.  So, off I go on a long 7.4 mile leg back to the start/finish area at Soldier Canyon.  (Later, she tells me that I had beat her to Arthur's by five minutes.)  I'm still carrying a couple of gels but it also occurs to me that I was supposed to pick up a little more food from her (and, maybe, a long sleeve shirt).  I still managed a good pace on the leg but as I made it back to Soldier Canyon, I begin to feel my energy fading.  Before I hit the aid station, though, I am lifted by the comic scene of a fellow runner going outbound on the course again and proceeding to vomit just 20 feet in front of me.  His moment of  abject misery dwarfs mine and I laugh to myself and I run into Soldier Canyon.

Once at Soldier Canyon, I spend a good 10 minutes there getting readjusted, eating some potato chips and sweets and refilling my running vest with gels, beef jerky and some Clif Bloks.  I empty my shoes of rocks and really feel refreshed and ready to tackle the second lap as I head back out.

On the climb out, I maintain a steady hike, rarely running, and catch several runners, including the "vomitter", another guy moaning in pain and limping, as well as few people doing well but just moving slower than me.  It's another 7.4 miles back to Arthur's, a climb and descent, but it goes super well for me.  Hiking up, I eat the entire packet of Clif Bloks and the beef jerky.  On the descent, I run through the woods on a cool, rocky trail and have moments of pure bliss, engulfed by the joy of running smoothly through a clouded, frosty wonderland.  It is a pure runner's high.  As I arrive back at Arthur's, I'm stoked to see Bronwyn there and she relays the story of her getting there after me.  Again, I take my time, drink some miso soup and refill all my bottles with water and Gatorade.  I change my shoes, again, although it wasn't really necessary and leave after a few minutes, ready for another 1600' climb back up to Towers. 
At the beginning of this leg, my feet hurt a little and I'm afraid that my shoe change was a big mistake.  It also feels even colder as I hike upward into the clouds again but my forward motion is enough to keep me warm and my feet start to feel better by the time I reach Towers.  Again, I top off the water bottles, grab a couple cookies and shove them into my pockets and eat a handful of gummy bears and I'm off, down the mountain another 1600' to Horsetooth.  The downhill treats me good again but I decide to change my shoes, yet again, once I hit the aid station.

At Horsetooth, I lingered a full 10 to 12 minutes, drinking more miso soup and eating a turkey and rice burrito that I had prepared for the race.  I change up my footwear one last time and chat it up with the aid station personnel, one who even suggests a cool name for the baby.  Clearly, I'm just having a great time at the event and not even thinking about racing for a fast time or place.  Leaving, I'm amazed at how good I feel so late into the race so I just stick to the plan and power hike all the way back up to Towers for the fourth time of the day. 

After going up to Towers, I met a couple of hikers on the way back down.  They ask how far we are running and when I tell them 50 miles they are both amazed.  I look at my GPS and tell them that I am at mile 45 and I've been going for 9 hours and 55 minutes.  As I move on, I realize that if I hammer the last 5 miles, I might be able to break my own personal best time for 50 miles so I finally let myself go and begin to run hard for the first time all day.  I reel in a couple more runners and really can't believe how fast I'm able to run so late in the race.  I press and press my effort the final two miles, trying to catch two more people in the distance before the finish but can't close the gap before the race ends.  I cross the finish in 10:42:57, a new 50 mile PR by 10 minutes.  I can't help but think that if I hadn't spent so much time in the aid stations I could have finished nearly a half hour faster than I did.

Overall, it was a great training run and learning experience.  The race volunteers were awesome, the course was well-marked and ridiculously hard.   Bronwyn's help was top notch and much appreciated and I can't wait to team up with her again in July for the Leadville Silver Rush 50, where I think I will push hard for a sub-10 hour finish.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fortnight Summary: Apr 22 - May 6

4/22 - Rest.

4/23 - Rest.

4/24 - Rest.

4/25 - Run/hike with Benihana up Stagecoach Mountain.

4/26 - Rest.

4/27 - Rest.

4/28 - 5.31 miles.  1:37:54.  Mega easy effort.

4/29 - 12.80 miles.  1:57:10.  Spring Creek Trail.  Ridiculously fun session on Spring Creek with about 15 minutes of barefoot running on the soccer fields by the high school afterwards.  Ran the 5.2 miles of single track up to Dry Lake and back into town at a super solid effort.   Just over an hour to get up to Dry Lake and then rocked the downhill return in 37 minutes.  The trail was in perfect condition.

4/30 - Rest.

5/1 - 6.35 miles.  1:03:38.  Stagecoach.

5/2 - Rest.

5/3 - 5.39 miles.  :42:25.  Stagecoach.  

5/4 - Rest.

5/5 - 14.13 miles (1500+').  2:43:37.  Sarvis Creek Trail.  Easy effort long run from South Shore out to Sarvis Creek Trail and, then, 4 miles out on the trail.  It was a beautiful, sunny morning and I felt really good.  I hiked much of the uphill sections and ran moderate 8 - 10 minute/mile back out, stopping frequently to take pictures.  I've wanted to run Sarvis since last summer and it was a real treat to find the trail pretty dry.  After the first mile, I could hear the creek raging but couldn't see it through the trees.  I was stoked when I finally crossed the creek on a bridge and found that the trail stayed right next to the water for the next 3 miles or so.  I can't wait to run it again, hopefully in it's entirety.  I had the trail all to myself, except for spooking a pretty decent sized elk cow.   I should've brought a second water bottle, as it got warm and I ran out of water on the outbound and had to refill from a stream without means to filter the water (next time I'll bring a Steri-Pen).   Hopefully, I don't come down with giardia or some nasty bug, but I think the chances are pretty remote considering the source I got the water from.  It was just fantastic to run a trail in Wilderness Area again. 

5/6 - 8.16 miles (~2000').  1:37:12.  Stagecoach Mountain.  Up to the top of the mountain with Benny before taking him back home at the 5 mile mark and continuing on for some light hill running. 

After Desert RATS, I took a few days off to recover, despite feeling really good and ready to run again within a few days of the race.   I also skipped a couple of maintenance runs due to some long days at work.  It shouldn't have any effect on my fitness at this point with regards to doing the Quad Rock 50 next weekend.   Bronwyn is going to go down to Ft. Collins and crew for me and I'm grateful to have the support on what I expect to be a really tough course.   Fortunately, the long range forecast calls for coolish weather.  The funny thing is that now that trails are opening up around here, I'm less motivated to race (and rest afterwards) because I just want to do long, slow wilderness runs.  Oh well, there will time for plenty of those this summer and the races are always fun.