Long time running…

Guess who’s back. Back again. ~ Eminem

Still working out some kinks in the site but hoping to be more active and on the regular up in this joint. Quick catch up:

  • 2013: NYC was a bust. I experienced a heel problem which led to a hamstring problem and I shut down my quest for an NYC finish. At least for now. The remainder of 2013 was spent trying to get uninjured.
  • 2014: Injuries persisted in 2014. When the heel/hammy started feeling ready to run again, I broke my ankle bouldering. Literally came off the wall a foot and a half off the ground and popped my ankle. Whee. So more recovery and I pretty much switched to riding mountain bikes for the year.
  • 2015: Back at it in 2015. Running pretty well. A bit off my game from day’s past but still having fun. Even entered a few races which didn’t go well. Just trying to figure things out and stay happy/healthy.

More to come, I promise.


No Such Thing

Not “bad” meaning “bad but “bad” meaning “good”. ~ Run-D.M.C.

During my training for Leadville (the second time), I learned to appreciate any run and after a run that was less than stellar, to tell myself, “There is no such thing as a bad run.” Now this isn’t 100% accurate (Rach even pointed out, “What about the runs where people get hit by cars… or eaten by bears?”), sometimes hitting your targets is incredibly important, the sentiment itself is something which I have really taken to heart. Every run has merit and something from which you can learn and grow as an athlete. So in that regard, every time you drag your ass off the couch to log some miles, there is something to be gained.

Today’s run was a bit of a bust. I had hoped to get in 7-8 miles on the treadmill and, if I was feeling up to it, log some faster paced repeats in there as well. Yesterday’s run in the woods was fantastic. Post-run, however, I noticed a twinge in my left ankle. Running on snow packed trails can cause some irritation and ankle-twisting and apparently I had fallen prey to a minor tweak of some sort. So I tested the waters and after a mile, decided a day of rest would do me (and my ankle) some good. So I shut things down and chalked this one up in the “less-than-perfect” column.

Even on the worst of days, there is much to be learned:

  1. Listen to your body: If things seem “off” there is no shame in taking a bit extra rest. If I have learned anything over my years of regular training, it’s that there is always going to be another opportunity to get out there. And the sooner you can heal an injury, the quicker you will return to full form. Too many runners jump back into the fray too soon and end up losing WAY more time to injury than had they simply taken a couple of rest days earlier vs. later.
  2. Be happy with what you get: People get wrapped up in the “all or nothing” approach to life. Where, if it can’t be done 100%, then it shouldn’t be done at all. Needless to say, I don’t subscribe to this point of view and feel that though that may be a way to keep oneself motivated, it isn’t really practical. Life happens and some days one just can’t get the scheduled workout on the books. Be happy with whatever time you get to spend doing the activities you enjoy most. And don’t get down on yourself if things don’t go exactly to plan.
  3. Look for the lessons & stay positive: In virtually any run, there are opportunities to learn from your experience. If your legs felt “dead”, relish in the understanding that you have now experienced what it feels like to run on dead legs so it won’t phase you as much if it happens in the later stages of a race. If you just weren’t feeling it on that particular workout, take pleasure in knowing you got out there and put in some effort, even if it wasn’t your best day.

So get off the couch, get out there, and enjoy the small things if the bigger ones aren’t working for you.




Dave’s a mess. ~ Johnny Upton

Since the demise of NYC, I have not been the best/most consistent runner of all time. Frankly, I have been taking a bit of a break – particularly from structured, “must-do” training. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been out there, in all kinds of wacky weather, logging fun miles. I have just been less focused, less enamored with logging miles, and just “running for fun”. My project this winter has been to continue running trails. In years past, I have bailed on trail running for a number of reasons: too much snow, too much cold, spring “A” racing on the schedule. This year we have had very little snow, above average temps (for the most part), and I currently am not planning a distance A-race for the spring. These factors have contributed in my logging a big chunk of my winter miles on trails near my house. Good times.

The result of this is that I am slow. Much slower than this time last year (when I actually won a 5K). That’s okay, however. I have been enjoying my journey, feel like a mega bad-ass when I get out in 0°F weather to burn a lap or two in the woods, and have appreciated running abandoned, snow-covered trails that I normally only see in the summer months. Not sure how all of this will translate when I get back to trying to run fast, long races… but for now, it’s all good.


4-Pass Loop

Maroon Bells at Dawn

That was… beautiful. ~ Edwina “Ed” McDonnough

Sometimes, you just need to lean on your friends to get you back in the swing of things and Caleb definitely upped the ante by recommending we tackle Aspen’s famous 4-Pass Loop as a main summer goal (Note: My Garmin blew up at mile 25 due to my turtle-esque pace). I knew this had the potential to be both an incredible adventure and a serious effort. I was up for both. (Here’s a link to the full gallery.)

4-Pass Loop Map 4-Pass Loop Elevation Profile

We decided that a weekday trek had the best potential for success so penned in the 24th as the day we’d tackle the route. This is a popsicle loop of about 27 miles that summits 4 passes: Buckskin (12,532), Trail Rider (12,412), Frigid Air (12,398) and West Maroon (12,469) on a route that circumnavigates the Maroon Bells. We jammed up to Aspen on Monday, stopping briefly to hike up to Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon (well worth the effort) and car camped at the trailhead.

Caleb Melamed on Buckskin Pass Caleb Melamed on Buckskin Pass

Up before sunrise on Tuesday to start our adventure, Caleb and I grabbed some breakfast, packed up our gear and headed out just as the sun was kissing the tops of the Maroon Bells. What an amazing start to a proud adventure. We made our way up the technical singletrack toward Buckskin Pass and fell into a decent rhythm of steady forward progress. the route climbs steadily upward through aspen groves to treeline where we were greeted by incredible views. One final, steep pitch through fields of incredible wildflowers and we made our first summit (about 4.9 miles into the run).

Snowmass Lake Caleb Melamed on Trail Rider Pass

We headed down the steep, northwest side of the pass and made our way quickly into some of the most incredible singletrack running on the planet. This section drops down below treeline and makes its way toward Snowmass Lake. We got a little off-piste for a bit while trying to navigate what was described as a bit of a hidden turn but soon were back on track. (If you do this loop, turn left at the log footbridge under the beaver ponds rather than taking the somewhat obscured path above the ponds.) We quickly made our way to the unbelievably gorgeous Snowmass Lake (words do not describe) then pushed up through even MORE amazing fields of wildflowers above the lake to the summit of Trail Rider Pass at 11.75 miles into our day (probably more like 10.75 for those who don’t get off-route). More amazing views. This could never get boring.

Waterfall on Frigid Air Pass Frigid Air Pass

The southwest descent of Trail Rider was STEEP and my knee got pretty grumpy on this section but we soldiered on, stopping to fill up with water from a small stream about mile 14. The approach to the next pass, Frigid Air, is long but we were treated with decent running through a variety of ecosystems and were treated to more incredible vistas and scenery. We navigated a section of blow-down just before reaching a large waterfall about mile 16 that set the stage for a short, steep pitch just below treeline. The trail then climbs steadily through one of the most beautiful mountain valleys you will ever see on the final approach to Frigid Air.

I really started feeling it once we got back up above treeline on Frigid Air. My knee was grumpy, my stomach abandoned me and I resorted to some old Leadville tricks to keep things moving. 100 steps, stop, 5 big breaths, repeat. Eventually, I summited Frigid Air (about mile 19) quite a bit behind Caleb who was still moving well. From the summit, you can see Crested Butte and we ran into our first day-hikers who had made the climb up from the CB side of the pass (Schofield, if memory serves). Most of the traffic we encountered up to this point consisted of backpackers who normally take 3 days to complete the circuit. Needless to say, they found our 1-day shenanigans to be either impressive or idiotic or both.

One pass remained and I had pretty much run out of running juju though I was still hiking pretty quickly. We descended just a bit on the trek over to West Maroon then I went back into 100-rest-repeat mode for the final steep push up to the top of the pass. I summited well behind Caleb (again) on what was definitely the most trafficked section of the route (lots of people on West Maroon, about mile 21) and we headed down for the final 7 miles of our journey. Caleb was moving well (better than I, for sure) and I ran a little on the descent but that made my knee and stomach unhappy so I just decided to hike it in. Caleb stopped several times to check on me and I finally cut him loose since I didn’t want to extend his day any further. Since there was a lot of foot-traffic at this point, it was safe to split up.

I hiked the remaining few miles. Stopped briefly to talk with a Ranger at Crater Lake (about mile 26) and just got the rest done in a slight (and welcomed) sprinkle of rain. Saw some blue grouse at the end of the journey just above Maroon Lake and shortly thereafter found myself back at the car.

Caleb was all cleaned up and ready to go so I quickly scrubbed off the worst of the day’s grunge, tossed most of my stuff into his truck (with the exception of a pretty much new pair of shoes I donated to the Trailhead gods on accident), and we made our way back to the Front Range. All in all, a fantastic day out of the trails. I definitely didn’t perform as well as I had hoped but we bit off a pretty big chunk and I didn’t really have the time to get trained up for a 7+ hour push so I don’t feel bad about the effort. It really showed me how specificity of training works (I’m speedy for efforts up to 3-4 hours but after that, I start to fade) but also made me really happy to have been able to accomplish this type of run on what fitness I had in the bank. I also feel really blessed to be able to get to see some of the more remote parts of our state. Not a lot of people get to experience this stuff. I’m super lucky to be able to do so.


Thinking about running…

Okay, here we go. Focus. Speed. I am speed. One winner, forty-two losers. I eat losers for breakfast. Breakfast? Maybe I should have had breakfast? Brekkie could be good for me. No, no, no, focus. Speed. Faster than fast, quicker than quick. I am Lightning. ~ Lightning McQueen

When people find out I am a distance runner, the question I usually get first (after the look that says, “This guy is nuts.”) is, “What do you think about while you are running that long?”

I have pondered this question and realized recently that when I am having a good run/race, what I usually think about most when I am running is, well… running. Certainly my mind wanders a bit but ultimately when things are going well, I am pretty focused on what I am doing: Form checks, body assessment, relaxation, pacing, terrain, where the contours benefit/hinder my progress, if there is a moose waiting to pounce on me around that next corner, etc.

So there you have it. I think I’ll go for a run.


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