The Big Five-Oh…

La Quinta Resort Casita
My crib in La Quinta

I feel like hammered crap. ~ me

Tues 27 April: 00:54, 6.29 miles, Wash Park Surges (Denver)
Wed 28 April: 2:08, 14.04 miles, Gunbarrel tempo (Boulder)
Thurs 29 April: 00:52, 5.25 miles, Eldora run/hike (Eldora)
Totals, April: 37.47 hours, 203.31 miles
Sat 1 May: 3:29, 18.56 miles, The Cove trail run (La Quinta, CA)
Sun 2 May: 00:56, 6.31 miles, La Quinta road run (La Quinta, CA)
Week total: 8.31 hours, 50.45 miles

Whew. That’s a lot of numbers. One additional number (per the title) is my total weight loss from my top-end digits. Sometime in the summer of 2006 I weighed a solid 211 pounds. As of yesterday, I was down to 161. Craziness.

Overall, training is going well. I currently have a bit of a cold, which is a thorough drag but I will get through this as well. Just a minor bump on the road to Leadville. There will be others, I am sure. One thing I have learned over the course of the last 4 years of running and training for ultras is to not get too hung up on minor setbacks. Progress over the longer-term is the key.

So April, though filled with little, annoying issues and lots of distractions, ended up just fine in the grand scheme of things. I certainly didn’t want to start May off with an illness but by the end of the month, am confident progress will be made.

The running highlight of the last week was certainly getting to log some miles in the California desert. I was in La Quinta for a wedding and managed to get out a couple of times for fun runs. MUCH different terrain and conditions than I am used to and great to soak in some new scenery. Even got stabbed by a cactus, which you don’t get to do every day in Colorado. Though I am pretty confident I wouldn’t want to live in the Palm Springs area, it is a decent destination for someone seeking to get in some good, warm-weather training in months when Colorado is still buried under piles of snow or suffering from the dreaded “mud season”. I even had some company on my long run with two other wedding guests, Vance and Beth, joining in for a bit of the run and Rockin’ TR leading the way on his mountain bike. All in all a great day.

Got up early the following day to get in a short road run as well. Shirtlessness in the early morning was a definite treat for someone who has been buried under layers of winter clothing for the past 6 months. I suspect I may have blinded some commuters with my frog belly, however.

It’s super windy here today but the snow has melted a lot over the past week. May be time to give the local trails a go. As always, I’ll keep you posted.


Trigger pulled…

What’s it gonna be, punk? ~ Harry Callahan

Tues 20 Apr: 00:46, 5.22 miles, Mtn. Meadows/Beaver surges
Wed 21 Apr: 2:01, 13 miles, Boulder tempo – Dearborne
Thurs 22 Apr: 00:50, 5.25 miles, Boulder Janet’s house easy

Good solid week of training thus far. Feeling fit, back to health and ready to get after it. So much so that I pulled the trigger on Leadville and received confirmation that I am in and running this year’s LT100 on August 21. Whee!

Tuesday I was feeling slightly unmotivated but once I got out, felt terrific. Just kinda went with the flow with 7 surges on our road after a short tour of the neighborhood for a warm up. Added one hill sprint for good measure and felt like it was a good, organic run. Just did my surges wherever they felt right, mixed it up a bit and had fun. The perfect kick-off to the week.

Yesterday, I jammed down to Boulder for a tempo run. Warmed up for 1:20 or so super easy and even managed to hook up with Art Ives for part of the warm up. Totally unintentionally, at that. It felt kinda cool to dump out onto Baseline right as he passed coming from a totally different starting point. So we ran together through east Boulder farmland to the start and then started our tempo together.

I was running far less than Art so I peeled off the front after about 3 miles of steadily decreasing splits and finished my 5 miles strongly with negative splits overall: 7:30, 7:15, 6:55, 6:54, 6:42. Not blazing at all but comfortable and strong for the likes of me.

Today I met with Janet and just ran super easy. We worked on a couple of wacky form items that continue to make me a bit less efficient than I might otherwise be. Talked a bit about Pbville strategy, nutrition and crew and whatnot and generally got pretty pumped for the event. So when I got home, I signed up.

Things are falling into place. Rach has me on a super-healthy diet, I am feeling really healthy and have a positive mindset. The next two weeks will be a bit goofy as I have weddings both weekends (head to Colorado Springs tomorrow for Dad’s event then Palm Springs next Friday to see my buddy, John get hitched). I’ll be working in runs during both weekends, however and hope to really keep things moving in the right direction for a good kick-off to the last 120 days before the big event.

Thanks to Bob, Lindsay, Pete, Edy, Brad and Jess for offering to crew again this year. Hoping Janet and Art will do some pacing and, as always, I can’t say enough about how much help Rach is. Amazingly supportive of all the time my training takes and keeps me incredibly well-fed. In fact, she just delivered another kick-ass meal to me as I write this. Time to eat!


Rocket Man…

Charles Corfield
The biggest buckle ever was Charles' award.

I’ve got some of this Mendocino Rocket Fuel, that’s supposed to be really… ~ Viv Savage

Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Charles Corfield – LT100 3rd place finisher, Everest summiter, and all-around great guy. Charles took the time out of his busy schedule (I get the impression that he runs at 4 in the morning every day) to meet with me to discuss some ultra tips and tricks, his experience running and his famous Rocket Fuel mix.

Charles placed third at the 2007 Leadville Trail 100 race after being talked into running it by some friends. He had no real intention of running the LT100 and so just jumped into the fray and treated it like running two consecutive 50s. Apparently that worked pretty well as he finished without a crew or pacers in 19 hours 42 minutes. Solid effort.

During the course of our conversation, I learned a lot about how to approach racing, training, hydration and nutrition and discovered that Charles really thinks things through, does extensive research and, perhaps most importantly, experiments to find out what works. He is practical as well, often offering simple solutions to common problems vs. recommending expensive or cumbersome alternatives. He asks questions and then thoughtfully presents solutions. For example, when he inquired about my ’07 LT100 attempt and what, in my opinion, went wrong, I mentioned that blisters were an early issue that then escalated to other, larger problems. His solution: Superglue a sock into my shoes to work as a gaiter and superglue the tongue to the upper to keep dirt and grit out. Not particularly elegant but cost-effective, light, and efficient.

One item I really wanted to discuss was his hydration and nutrition regimen. Charles is very scientific about his nutrition needs and calculates exactly what he will need during any given race (or training event) to be sure that he is able to consume the right amount of fuel during the event. This keeps him from getting bogged down by too many calories or bonking from too few. Charles relies primarily (in fact, exclusively, I believe) on a mixture of amylopectin (Waxy Maize) and maltodextrin which has found the name “Rocket Fuel”. I started experimenting with the mix in January this year to see if the solution worked for me and I have found, thus far, for it to be a great supplement to, if not replacement for, my “normal” on-trail nutrition. Here is the formula for 3000kCals (~750g of solids):

  • 340g amylopectin
  • 340g maltodextrin
  • 25g protein (Charles uses whey. Being a vegan, I use soy.)
  • non-sugar flavoring to taste (cocoa, Kool-Aid, vanilla, almond, etc.)
  • some electrolytes (I take care of this with nuun) and antacids (ground up)
  • ~3 cups of water (to the thickness desired)

During my initial experiments, I was mixing about 3 Tablespoons in a bottle of water. Though this worked well, it was not concentrated enough to work as a stand-alone fuel source. I checked with Charles and he indicated that he mixes his to produce a fairly thick, gel-like consistency that then can be delivered via a fuel bottle vs. in a more “drinkable” form. I subsequently tried this as well and it definitely is the way to go.

During the Moab Red Hot 50K, I used Rocket Fuel from the start. I did make the mistake of mixing it a bit too thickly and this, coupled with very low temperatures, made the fuel a bit tough to work with during the race. I should have added water on the go, but in my hydration depleted state didn’t think of that. So really, had I been smarter about it, I know that the mix would have worked even better for me than it already did.

On top of all of this great information, one piece of advice Charles had for me was to listen to what your body is telling you. If you are craving salt, you probably are low on electrolytes. If you are feeling bloated and too “full” you probably have eaten too much too quickly (there are studies that show that we can only process 240-280 cal/hour). Just listen to what your body is telling you and you should do well.



I ran. I ran until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid. Then I ran some more. ~ Narrator

Thurs: 00:34, 3.51 miles, Neighborhood recovery run

For my last run of the year, I just spun around the neighborhood in windy, cold conditions. Not much to say about that aside from, “It was great to get off the couch.” All in all, I am very pleased with how the last few months of the year have gone and that I was able to log 1153 miles for the year. Considering I was injured for most of the year, that is not too shabby. Here’s how it stacked up:

  • January – 0 miles: I was busy skiing, trying to recover from the wackiness that ended up plaguing me all year and well… just not running, I guess.
  • February – A few. Not many, however: I know I got out for one run on the Mesa trail and definitely hit the treadmill a couple of times but didn’t write anything down so whatever I actually ran, did not make it into the final tally. Less than 20, for sure.
  • March – 28 miles: Sporadic, at best. I injured my knee in late February and that pretty much put the kibosh on any real running for the month. Plus, my abs were still kicking me in the ass (don’t ask).
  • April – 102 miles: Actually started ramping it up a bit and started visiting Janet Runyan for coaching. Two good things that go great together.
  • May – 156 miles: Actually did a race in May too. Go figure.
  • June – 79 miles: Abdominals came back with a vengeance and I throttled back the miles, got an MRI, and got on the schedule for a procedure to help with the problems.
  • July – 51 miles: Going the wrong direction mileage-wise but the right direction health-wise. Sometimes one takes what one can get.
  • August – 105 miles: Ramping it back up and another race under my belt. The Wild West Relay was mellow and fun.
  • September – 137 miles: Able to keep things moving in the right direction. Relentless forward progress.
  • October – 139 miles: Got in some good runs in October and paced Chase Squires to a 3rd place finish in the 24-hours of Boulder race. (Mostly, he did it on his own.)
  • November – 172 miles: Really finishing up the year strongly with solid runs throughout the month despite crazy weather.
  • December – 182 miles: The trend continued in December with solid running over the course of the week and fairly consistent weekly mileage. Logged several 20+ days and ended up with a solid month of training despite some crazy-cold weather.

All in all, this wasn’t quite what I had hoped to achieve this year but sometimes you have to just roll with it. My goals for 2010 include: Staying healthy and injury-free (gotta get cracking on that one), doubling my mileage for the year (see #1), getting in some fun racing throughout (one race already teed up for February), doing several adventure runs (Kokopelli Trail and R2R2R are both on the list), training monthly at higher altitudes (“Define ‘higher’,” you say?), spending a lot of time on the LT100 course in July (running each section, doing back-to-backs and putting in “real-time” training on course), and finishing in the top 50 at the LT100 in August (this actually may change in the scary direction if things go well throughout the year).

Thanks to Patagonia and nuun for providing great clothing and awesome hydration. I highly encourage all of you to look first at these guys when gearing up and seeking solutions for your outdoor activities.

And I definitely couldn’t do any of this without the support and encouragement I receive at home. Rach not only keeps me moving in the right direction but provides me with unbelievably yummy sustenance to enable me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Yea Rach!!!

Here’s to a new year and new adventures.


Mixing it up…

Snow run shot courtesy of Sean.

Security is mostly a superstition; it does not exist in nature. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. ~ Helen Keller

Sat: 3:17, 21.5 miles, Boulder Backroads course avec snow

Yesterday’s skiing turned into a movie due to single-digit temps coupled with 40+ mph winds and a desire to keep Dad and Donna from freezing their tuchuses off so we went to a movie instead. Invictus, though somewhat charming (thanks mostly to Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of Nelson Mandela), was entertaining at best. The secret service/bodyguard sub-plot felt really tacked on and Eastwood has handled shooting more adeptly in other efforts (which is saying a lot, considering I am not really a fan of his work). However, Dad and Donna enjoyed themselves so mission accomplished. Sometimes you have to take one for the team.

So I mixed things up even more by moving my Long, Slow Day to Saturday this week so that I could run with a buddy of mine with whom I am hoping to do a lot of adventure running this spring and summer. We have a few grandiose plans (including the John Muir Trail, the Kokopelli Trail and a full assault of the Colorado Trail in ’11) and he is actually starting to get excited about another attempt at the LT100 this summer. So that means I may have some company along the first half of the event but am down one pacer if he decides to go for it. One takes the good with the bad (and I kid… I’d love for him to give it another shot). So I headed down to Boulder amid flurries, gray skies and cold temps to get a long run on.

We met at Sean’s place then drove out to the Boulder Res to run on the Boulder Backroads course. This is a notoriously difficult marathon course spiced up this morning by snow-covered and icy roads. Relatively fresh snow, to boot, so while it did provide some relief from the pounding one can be handed by frozen pavement and hardpacked conditions, it married this to sloppy footing and loss of traction to which I am becoming accustomed. This was not going to be a record-setting pace day, however.

We had the benefit of a crew today in the form of Sean’s father-in-law, Dave, who graciously not only drove us to the start/finish but placed drop bags along the route so we could resupply water and other goodies, loaned me his YakTrax (which I didn’t end up needing but were good to have along) and hung around after his shorter run to drive us back to Sean’s. Dave rules!

Overall, I felt pretty great and we managed to keep an average pace in the low 9s despite the conditions. The weather even broke for us within a few miles of our start and it ended up being a gorgeous day. No wind, sun shining… good stuff. We were shooting for 20 miles but mis-estimated the turn around spot on the out-and-back section of the course and ended the day with 21.5. Some minor aches and pains in the last couple of miles but those were to be expected given the poor footing we experienced throughout the run.

I am testing a couple of recovery techniques and will let you know how they work. Added full-leg compression stockings to the immediate post-run regimen and took an ice bath when I got home. I know this isn’t ideal (should tee that up immediately post-run) but thought I’d see if it appeared to have any positive effect when delayed. I tossed the stockings back on after the bath as well so now am I not only super sexy but well… I don’t really know how to finish that sentence.

Rach filled me full of amazing curry she just made up from whatever we had in the house and now I am feeling quite sated. Great Boxing Day for sure.