Dialing it in…

This is out of our range and it’s grown. ~ Kurt Cobain

Mon June 21: 00:29, 2.87 miles, Casa Trails barefoot
Tues June 22: 1:06, 6.68 miles, Janet’s house
Wed June 23: 2:55, 16 miles, Zoo Loop GGCSP
Thurs June 24: 2:17, 7.92 miles, Arapaho Glacier Trail
Sat June 26: 2:34, 13.88 miles, Casa Trails + barefoot
Sun June 27: 7:46, 37.66 miles, LT100 Start > Twin Lakes
Total: 17:08, 85.01 miles, 11,815 vert

Interesting week of running with highs and lows throughout. Overall, I am feeling fit but still have some work to do before the LT100 if I am going to perform well there. It’ll come.

The first runs of the week were really business as usual and I have been feeling really great on all my shorter efforts. I have been tossing in big ascents up to altitude every week and those just feel better and better the more I do them and the higher I get on the mountain so I’ll keep throwing those in the mix as they seem to be working well for me. It is gorgeous up high as well with tons of marmots running about and the wildflowers really starting to pop.

The big event for the week was Sunday’s self-supported effort on the first 38ish miles of the LT100 course: Start to Twin Lakes. The day started early with my alarm waking me at 3:45 for the drive up to the course. I dragged my trailer up with my motorbike to make the self-support system complete and, after stashing provisions in a couple of locations along the course (and a couple of misguided attempts to find a shortcut back to the highway), made it to Twin Lakes, got the bike off the trailer and headed back to the start in Leadville. Gear stashed, shoes on and I was ready to roll around 8:15.

I actually felt great and had a little bit of a tough time going slowly enough to meet my prescribed splits. I was a little fast into Mayqueen and Fish, then didn’t have any real set times for the rest of the day. Nice, easy running throughout. I felt strong on the section between Fish and Treeline, stopped to refuel, then made my way onto the new section between Treeline and the Colorado Trail.

This was the only section of the course with which I was not familiar and it is relatively flat and fast. Not a lot of coverage, which actually probably won’t be a big problem on race day given when I will be hitting this portion of the course, so I am not too worried about it. I continued to run well but as this section progressed and I approached the Colorado Trail, started having some stomach problems when contributed to my eventual downfall on the day’s run.

By the time I reached the CT, I was feeling pretty crappy with a stomach that wouldn’t empty and (subsequently), legs that just didn’t want to go anymore. So I walked. And walked. Really demoralizing, to say the least. The CT continues to climb quite a bit more than I remembered as well with a couple of short, steep downhills but what seems like a fairly upward trend for quite some time as one makes one’s way toward Twin Lakes. I tried alternating run/walking but really walked a solid majority of the last 5 miles or so into TL. I did pick it up for the last mile, which is decidedly downhill but that didn’t leave me feeling particularly strongly about the day overall despite a decent finish time.

I think there are a few elements that contributed to these problems:

  • Solo effort: It’s tough being out there all alone for that period of time. My self-support system worked well (decently spaced drop off points) but running solo for that long takes a toll. So there was a big mental component to it for me. This should be much less of a problem during the race and the training I am putting in now, solo, will pay off during the event.
  • Fuel selection: The self-support contributed here for sure as I only had a few choices in my drop-kits. Need to provide myself with more variety during these solo runs in order to be sure that I have some options. Rice milk/protein drink was not working well for me on Sunday. I think that as the protein sits, it becomes a bit bitter so on race day, if I decide this is something I need/want, I’ll have my crew mix it up when it is requested vs. having it sit around.
  • General mental attitude: This was a challenging week for me mentally. Redford, one of our bunnies died on Friday, which was really tough. I am sure that contributed to some of the lows I experienced in the later stages of the run.

Overall my time into TL was decent and considering how much of the final hour and a half was walking, was really quite strong. Though I felt pretty down about the run in the hours after finishing, upon reflection, I am okay with it. Wanted to finish with significantly higher quality but there is still time to work on my pacing, patience, consumption and mental/physical fitness.


Rest week…

Though the streams are swollen, keep them doggies rollin’. ~ Frankie Laine

Mon June 14: 00:23, 2.48 miles, South Beaver Creek night run
Tues June 15: 1:01, 5.84 miles, Secret to Thorne surges
Wed June 16: 2:00, 13.45 miles, Dearborne tempo
Thurs June 17: 2:32, 9.43 miles, Arapaho Pass/Glacier Trail run/hike
Sat June 19: 1:57, 10.75 miles, Casa trails easy
Sun June 20: 4:09, 21.93 miles, Boulder Foothills/Mesa
Total: 12:03, 63.88 miles, 8,258 vertical

Good, mellow week of running. Felt strong and rested and worked on getting the slower pacing down. No major, or even minor troubles to report at this point. Just gearing up for the race and getting supremely focused.

I even came to the realization this week that I am psyched to get through the event… wait for it… so I can run. Yes, there is nothing really okay with that. This thought came to me while actually ON a run as well. So essentially, I am excited to complete the training (running) for Leadville so I can run some more. Not right at all but amusing. I think I am missing a bit of the spontaneity that comes with not having a fixed goal to which I am focused. It will be fun to have some flexibility for sure so I can go on a big run on, say, Friday if someone has something wacky planned.

The highlight of the week was probably my trip up Arapaho Glacier Trail. This was a scheduled run/hike and so I jammed up 4th of July to the trailhead for Arapaho Pass. The trail up high was still snow covered and a little punchy until I turned off to go up the Arapaho Glacier Trail where conditions were mixed but the snow was a bit more firm when it needed to be crossed at great length. Lots of water flowing up there as well which made for soggy feet but I didn’t really mind. The wind was howling up there, however, which made going a little tough but fun. I am learning to appreciate everything nature has to throw at me and take it all in stride.

One item of note for the week: Early morning runs are pretty sweet. I got out on the trails by about 6:15 on Saturday and all was right with the world in that moment. The birds were singing, there was a peacefulness and tranquility that one just doesn’t seem to find at other times of the day. Even when I am alone in the woods, there is a certain “buzz” one can sense when other people are active in the area. I may go hours without seeing anyone else but during the day, you can just feel the activity. Early in the morning, this same energy is missing. In a good way. Coyote are yipping, the sun is making its first impact on distant hillsides and the cool air makes each exhale visible.

Good times.


Horribly remiss..

Hope Pass
Hope springs eternal.

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. ~ Leo Tolstoy

Mon June 7: 00:30 2.87 miles, Casa Trails barefoot
Tues June 8: 1:00, 5.96 miles, Casa Trails
Wed June 9: 2:40, 14.95 miles, Big Zoo loop GGCSP
Thurs June 10: 3:00, 11.47 miles, Hope Pass hike/run
Sat June 12: 1:30, 8.51 miles, Casa Trails
Sun June 13: 7:03, 35.60 miles, Pbville Course
Total: 15:43, 79.36 miles, 13,770 vertical

I have been terrible about updating this past week due to… well… running a lot and work. Seems that is what it comes down to at this point. With just over 2 months to go until show time, I am getting pretty focused and made it up to Pbville twice this past week for training runs.

The week started a little slowly as I recovered from the heat debacle but then I fell into full swing by mid-week. After a couple of nice trail runs on Tuesday and Wednesday, I hit the road Thursday to go to Gunnison and since Leadville is right on the way, stopped to take a gander at the north side of Hope Pass.

The river is raging right now so I headed upstream to cross via the Willis Gulch bridge. Turns out that was badly damaged by high waters so plan B was put into effect. I headed farther upstream to Pete’s Campground (if memory serves) and the camp host alerted me to that bridge being closed due to the rushing water. Plan C. I happened to see another small (yet substantial) bridge between Willis Gulch Trailhead and Pete’s and that became my entry to the Hope Pass trail.

I ran about 1.5 miles east until the junction of the Hope Pass trail then decided to get in a little more warm-up by heading down to the race-course crossing to check things out. Yeah, that water was flowing and I would not have wanted to cross it in those conditions. I spun around and headed up Hope for the first time since ’07. The trail was in really good shape and I made quick work of the lower, steeper sections and made it to Hopeless in under an hour. Since I was so far up, I decided to just go ahead and see how far up I could go before turned around by either snow or time. I did have to cross several very punchy snowfields but made it to within about 50 feet of vert from the summit before being turned by one last snowfield that just didn’t seem worth the effort. Ran back down and finished fairly strongly in 3 hours.

Sunday, I headed back up to Leadville to log some time on the section between the start and the base of Powerline. It rained and snowed the night before so conditions were a bit soggy. I thoroughly lucked out with the weather, however and only got rained/snowed on briefly while running around Turquoise Lake. The Colorado Trail section was super sloppy with a couple inches of fresh, wet snow but Sugarloaf itself was in pretty good shape. A few inches of snow up high and lots of water running throughout but overall it was great to get up there. I summited then dropped down to the pavement on the south side then spun around and headed back up the steep side. This was the first time I had climbed back up Sugarloaf and I have to commend those who can run this thing. It’s a bitch.

I felt a little tired heading back up and was reduced to a diminishing run/walk cycle for the remainder of the run. Not super confidence-inspiring but whatchagonnado? Ended up cutting off the Colorado Trail and Turquoise Lake sections on the way back to try to speed my return to Leadville. I had planned to head back up the Boulevard but given my tight timeline, I decided to stay on the tarmac in order to improve my chances of hitching a ride if I was unable to make it all the way back to my car in the prescribed 7-hour time limit. After run/walk cycles up the hill, I reached the cut off and started walking/hitching. Was picked up fairly quickly by a nice guy from Jamestown who dropped me off at my car after about a 1.5 mile ride.

Overall, I am feeling fairly well. I need to get better control of my starting pace and my focus. The word for the week is “patience” and I am going to work on putting it into play on each and every run from this point forward.


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!


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