2010 Rearview…

Just keep swimming… ~ Dory

What can I say? It’s been a helluva year.

I started 2010 with one major goal: Finish the LT100. Through Rach’s unwavering support and encouragement, I was able to prepare adequately for the big event and adjust my goals accordingly. Suffice it to say, I logged a shit-ton of miles, had many learning experiences and grew exponentially as both a runner, and more importantly, a person.

Here are the digits:

  • Mileage: 2516
  • Days completely off: 77
  • PRs: 4 (100 miles, Marathon, 10K, 5K)
  • Goals achieved: 4/4
  • Best finish: 1st in Age Group – Golden Gate 1/2 Marathon
  • Most satisfying finish: 89th overall, 22nd in Age Group – Leadville Trail 100

I can say, in all honesty, that 2010 was an amazing year of running. I progressed throughout the season, learned a ton, logged 4 PRs at four different disciplines (100-miles: 24:42:40, marathon: 3:10:04, 10K: 39:16 and 5K: 18:54) and really grew as a runner as well as a person. Setting tough goals and beating those marks can really make a person feel good and well… I feel good. I couldn’t have done any of this without the consistent and ongoing love and support from my sweetie, Rach and definitely encourage anyone seeking to invest the amount of time it takes to focus on a full year of training and racing to try to find someone as amazing and patient (good luck with that). She cooked for me non-stop (quite literally), dealt with my gross gear, put up with my bullshit and kept me on the path to success at every turn. Thanks also to Patagonia for clothing support and nuun for helping with hydration this season. Two great companies you should definitely check out.

Leadville was definitely the highlight of the year. That long, difficult day teed me up for the success that followed in the Fall and early Winter races I completed on a whim and gave me the confidence to set difficult goals and hit those marks. I ran races of a wide variety of distances competitively in 2010 (5K to 100 miles – another, unwritten goal of mine) and intend to continue to run a variety of distances in 2011.

I learned a ton during my big year. One of the biggest lessons learned was to be patient and to roll with the punches. I suppose that is technically two lessons but they do go hand in hand. Allowing both training and racing to unfold and not getting too caught up in the little set-backs and hurdles along the way is imperative. During the last 12 months, I certainly had my fair share of marginal runs and races. Choosing to look at each as a learning experience and a stepping stone on the path to larger goals allowed me to move forward, build on my successes (and failures) and ultimately achieve my goals. Patience during every run and knowing when to relax during racing made for a successful, (mostly) injury-free season.

Another big lesson I learned is to never give up. This manifested itself both at the LT100 in a positive way and during the final miles of the Denver Marathon in a less positive manner. During Leadville, I was suffering badly on the climb back up Powerline at about mile 80. In fact, I convinced myself at one point that I could just drop out at the top of Sugarloaf. Fortunately, that opportunity did not arise and, though I spent a considerable amount of time walking both the up and downhill portions of this leg of the race, I soon gained new strength and was running solidly throughout the final 15 miles of the race. At the Denver Marathon, I allowed the clock to dictate my effort and, when in the final miles of the race with time statistically running out on the opportunity to run a sub 3:10 for the day, eased my effort because I couldn’t reach that mark. It turned out the course had been set up incorrectly and was long. The race organizers subtracted time from every finisher’s results leaving me 5 seconds shy of a sub-3:10 effort. Had I not relaxed in those final miles, I would have certainly finished under that mark. In short, keep going and don’t let up.

I was fortunate enough this year to have a plethora of amazing non-race experiences: Summiting Hope Pass in early June; stumbling across bears foraging for food; running with elk on multiple occasions; watching marmots frolic among high-alpine wildflowers; braving thunderstorms both above treeline and during a particularly violent storm on Boulder’s eastern plains; catching what would be Crested Butte’s biggest storm of the season for some amazing skiing in late February; seeing both my dad and friend, John get married; watching the Met Opera series in HD; the list goes on and on.

In short, 2010 will be fondly remembered. And here’s to an even better 2011.


Countdown to lift-off…

What is without periods of rest will not endure. ~ Ovid

Tues Aug 3: 00:27, 2.86 miles, Casa Trails
Wed Aug 4: 1:38, 11.71 miles, Boulder Road Circuit
Thurs Aug 5: 00:41, 3.24 miles, Janet’s House
Sat Aug 6: 3:15, 16.00 miles, High Lonesome via Devil’s Thumb
Sun Aug 7: 2:26, 13.11 miles, Mesa Trail
Total: 8:30, 46.91, 7931′ vert

Light first week of taper with a few strong efforts. Took Monday off then just relaxed on Tuesday. I felt the need to run fast on Wednesday so tossed out a pretty solid tempo run in the rain. Saturday featured a great run up high on High Lonesome and I finished off the week with a solo night run on Mesa Trail.

High Lonesome is still one of my favorite places to be and it was great to get up there again. There were a ton of people up there, enjoying the scenery and beautiful weather. The double Mesa run was a lot of fun as well. I felt really strong on the way out and then managed to spin negative splits for the return trip. No kitty or bear sightings but I did see a rattlesnake who was a little displeased with my presence.

In taper mode at this point. One more medium weekend, then full rest, lots of eating of Rach’s awesome food and final prep for the race. Good stuff.


Ah July…

Hope Pass looking South 1 August 2010
Dawn on Hope Pass

Figure on your time at the summit of Hope in-bound to be about your half-way time. ~ John

Mon 26 July: 00:47, 4.88 miles, Casa Trails
Tues 27 July: 00:54, 6.50 miles, Boulder Creek Path
Wed 28 July: 2:58, 12.53 miles, Gregory>Green>Bear>Mesa
Thurs 29 July: 00:39, 4.13 miles, Casa Trails
Sat 30 July: 4:45, 30 miles (est), LT100 Start to Treeline +
Sun 1 Aug: 8:11, 38 miles (est), LT100 Winfield to Mayqueen +
Total: 18:15, 96.04 miles (est), 14,000′ vert (est)
Total – July: 63:22, 318 miles (est), 46,700′ vert (est)

Capped off the LT100 training with an interesting week. Highs and lows, as one might expect but overall I feel that I have put in a solid effort to give Leadville a go in three weeks. I spent a ton of time on the course, took good care of myself (thanks in HUGE part to Rach’s efforts and support) and a lot of quality miles leading up to this race. Not sure where this will all take me but I have definitely enjoyed the journey.

Things have just gotten crazy busy. This is a combination of running out of time to prepare for the race, logging longer and longer runs and some business developments that have kept me in negotiations and planning much of the time over the past several weeks. I had a couple of fairly blah runs this week that, while certainly not encouraging, really did allow me to focus on shrugging things off when they aren’t going exactly to plan and working through adversity. By the weekend and Camp 2: Hello Faddah, however; I was ready to rock.

The highlight of the week prior to heading up to Pbville was definitely either Tuesday’s effort (simple surges but just a great overall run) or Wednesday’s jaunt up Gregory, Green and Bear. The latter was significantly more unpleasant as I experienced stomach problems throughout the run but still managed to get the circuit completed on time. I considered abandoning the effort at several points along the route but stuck with it through the prescribed time and, though my distance was a bit off, left the day behind me with something to chalk up in the “win” column. A decent way to enter the weekend and my final Leadville Camp: Hello Faddah.

Jammed up to Leadville Saturday morning to run the first few sections of the course. The weather was perfect for a run and I started in town and quickly made my way down the Boulevard and on to Turquoise Lake where the course switches from dirt and paved roads to fat singletrack that meanders around the lake. Lots of people were out this weekend, checking out the course in preparation for both the run and the mountain bike race which share some common ground. I was a bit quick down to the bottom of the Boulevard (00:30 – probably 2 minutes fast) for my prescribed time to Mayqueen, but was feeling strong so just kept things mellow as I spun easy miles along the edge of the reservoir. No press, just super relaxed running.

I made it into Mayqueen a full 10 minutes earlier than I had planned (2:05) but still just felt great. Filled up the hydration pack and headed back along the course. I have run the first 23 miles of the LT100 course 3 or 4 times this year in prep for the race so I know it pretty well at this point. Just ran really comfortably up the paved road out of the Mayqueen campground and made quick time to the Colorado Trail section. This portion of the course is a little more technical and rolls at first then settles in for a short climb up to Hagerman road. I made quick work of this section and spun an easy 9-minute pace up Hagerman to the first major climb of the course – Sugarloaf.

The north side of Sugarloaf is honestly not too bad. It is all easily runnable but I settled into a familiar run/walk cycle for the trip up and quickly summited without any real effort whatsoever. Probably averaged 11-minute miles on this section to the summit (3:10) and felt great. I dropped down the south side, which is significantly steeper and made my way to the Fish Hatchery in a blazing time (3:55). I still felt super strong and so I just motored the next segment to Treeline in 37 minutes or so to finish the day’s run in 4:32.

Since I was about 1/2 hour early, I had some time to kill before Sean came to pick me up. So I put my feet up, took a little nap and then jumped in with a nice guy named John who was running an out-and-back on the course to cover about 67 miles. He was moving slowly, heading in-bound on the course so we just jogged along and swapped stories about past races, amazing performances by elite athletes and the usual banter. I put in about another mile or so before Sean arrived. I bid John farewell and was off to grab a shower and some food then to hit the sack.

Sean was kind enough to agree to drive me to Winfield in the morning where I started my run. He had a shorter day in store and timed his start so that we would hopefully arrive back in Leadville in close proximity to one another. The first mile out of Winfield was pretty clunky then I found my running legs and, once again, was off on another adventure. I settled into an easy pace down the road then just hoofed it up the back side of Hope Pass. This section is steep. And relentless. It demands that you just pick a gear and grind. So that is what I did. I made it to about treeline before having to stop for some first aid treatment on badly chafed thighs then continued my assault of Hope Pass. I summited in about 1:23 and just let it flow down the north side. I got a little lost after crossing the creek but quickly found the right path and made quick time to Twin Lakes (2:28).

After getting fresh water and treating my legs, I jammed out of Twin Lakes and up to the Colorado Trail. I am least familiar with this section of the course but have run it now both ways a couple of times. Once you crest the initial climb out of Twin Lakes, it rolls along for a bit then drops onto a new section of the course that is flat and fast. I made one wrong turn in here which cost me a little time but figured out my mistake fairly quickly and continued on to the new Treeline crewing station in good time (4:39).

After mucking about getting gravel out of my wet-again shoes (there used to be a bridge or culvert crossing of some sort over the creek at Treeline that has recently been removed), refueling, and doing some more first aid on my thighs, I headed out to Fish. This used to be one of my most dreaded sections of the course but, having participated in a few road races and training on roads all winter, I no longer fear the slab. I made good time to Fish (5:32 with that long transition at Treeline) and, though completing a couple of run/walk cycles in this section, was still feeling strong for the climb up Powerline.

The thighs were getting progressively worse but I settled into a strong hike on this section, only stopping a few times for short breaks. The first section is a bear so mentally, once you get over that, all the rest of the climbing is way less arduous. Don’t get me wrong, this whole section is a bitch but for those of you seeking a mental pick-me-up, thinking of each of the false-summit sections individually will really help and knowing the first one is the worst of them will make this climb much more tolerable. I hit the summit in 6:49 and made my way down toward Mayqueen.

I was definitely slowing down a bit at this point due to the chafing and started to really pay for it. I ran out of water on the descent and was reduced to a painful walk down the Colorado Trail. I did manage to run a lot of the downhill to Hagerman as well as the mile or so on Hagerman itself but really lost a lot of time on this section. Draining the water reserves didn’t do me any favors and I finally reached a creek on the CT and refilled, took a break and assessed my condition. I then continued down the trail to Mayqueen (8:11) and assessed.

At this point, I was actually still feeling pretty strong and knew I could make it in the rest of the way. I just wondered about the value/quality of that effort and decided to call it a day at this point. Just didn’t seem prudent or beneficial to walk in the remaining miles and increase the damage to my poor thighs. So I conferred with Sean who agreed to come pick me up and called it a day.

All in all, it wasn’t exactly what I had planned but I feel good about the weekend. I decided to pull the plug on the final day’s run due to the dreaded chafe and really feel comfortable where I am at this point. I am working on some preventative measures to keep the problems at bay during the race and am really looking forward to the 21st where it will all be put on the line. Now I will start my taper and enjoy the next few weeks in the run-up to the race.


Post-camp rest…

High Lonesome
High Lonesome living up to its name.

Hey, careful, man, there’s a beverage here! ~ The Dude

Mon 12 July: 3:58, 21.54 miles, Hello Muddah: Day 3 Betasso laps
Wed 14 July: 00:32, 3 miles, Casa Trails barefoot
Thurs 15 July: 00:36, 4.11 miles, Janet’s house surges
Sat 17 July: 2:00, 11.20 miles, Casa Trails exploration
Sun 18 July: 3:30, 16 miles, High Lonesome
Total: 10:38, 55.85 miles, 8,924′ vert

Finished up Camp One: Hello Muddah with an easily supported effort in Betasso that fed into some night running. It was hot, even at the 6:00 start but my legs responded quickly to the effort and I fell into a nice rhythm spinning laps just over 30-minutes long. Ate shit on lap 3 and cut both elbows, my left hand and my back and landed heavily on my right hip. Such is life… hopped back up and continued, albeit bloody and dirty. Maintained a fairly steady pace throughout only walking during the final laps as my legs got tired and it got dark. All in all a successful end to a successful Camp. Feeling more and more prepared for the race, which is great.

The next several days were all about rest and recovery so I took Tuesday completely off, did a very mellow run on Wednesday barefoot then just rolled some easy miles with a few surges with Janet on Thursday. I was back at it Saturday with 2 hours in the woods. Didn’t feel great but did find a new trail to keep me entertained. All in all, I felt better as the day progressed, so that was encouraging.

Sunday, I headed up to one of my favorite routes, High Lonesome. This trail peaks at about 12,000 feet on the Continental Divide in the Indian Peaks Wilderness northwest of my house. I started at the Hessie Trailhead after a deep creek crossing on my motorcycle, which was exciting (and wet). The King Lake trail is fairly mellow and I made quick work of the ascent, feeling strong and fresh. Hit the High Lonesome trail in about 1:20 then headed north along the divide to amazing scenery bursting with color. The wildflowers are amazing this time of year and seeing them up high makes it even more special.

Spun a couple miles on High Lonesome then dropped down on the Devil’s Thumb Lake trail. There was one large patch of snow with which to contend but it wasn’t a huge deal. Then I made my way down, past Devil’s Thumb Lake and decided to burn a little more time by heading back up to Lost Lake. I usually spend quite a bit of time in the Lost Lake area in the winter so it was cool to see it un-frozen and devoid of snow. Found our standard hike-out area and poked around up there a little bit before heading back down to the moto where I packed up and headed into Ned to meet with Pete to discuss crew logistics for the race.

All in all, a good week off the heavy lifting with some fun miles thrown in for good measure. We are now about 5 weeks out and I am feeling strong, fit and healthy. All good ways to be.


Hello Muddah…

Yeah, well… I’m married now. ~ Brian Bellamy

Mon 5 July: 00:41, 2.96 miles, Red Plow barefoot
Tues 6 July: 1:00, 6.2 miles, Thorne Lake surges
Wed 7 July: 2:32, 12.65 miles, Casa Trails
Thurs 8 July: 2:06, 7.76 miles, GGCSP hike/run
Sat 10 July: 4:08, 22.69 miles, LT100 Start to Fish Hatchery
Sun 11 July: 7:59, 30.6 miles, LT100 Colorado Trail to Double Hope
Total: 20:44, 82.87 miles, 15,712 vert

Great week of training. Rolled right into the LT100 Camp One: Hello Muddah.

The week started with fairly typical, mellow running. Just logging hours and getting comfortable at a sustainable pace. Nothing really too interesting aside from dodging some weather, getting a little wet at times, and enjoying spending time in the woods. On Thursday, I decided to mix things up a bit and did my run sporting a heavy pack (well, the hiking portion of my run). Then ditched the pack and ran up some terrain that previously had not been runnable by me. Good stuff. I was a bit sore after but it was worth it for sure.

LT100 Camp One: Hello Muddah

Friday I spent the day getting organized for the weekend’s adventure then jammed up to Leadville with Brad and Jess on Saturday to start the first of two planned running weekends on the course. We had a leisurely start and after shuttling a car to Mayqueen, Brad dropped us off at the start.

We headed out in the rain and made quick time back to the campground where we rendezvoused with Brad, saw the weather break, and continued on to Mayqueen with beautiful conditions. I bid my companions fairwell at MQ and continued on to the Fish Hatchery. I really felt great all day and made quick work of Sugarloaf. All told, a successful day on course.

Jess and Brad met me at Fish and shuttled me back to the cabin where I grabbed a shower and some food then jammed into town to get some food for Brad and Jess. There we met up with Sean, who is also running the LT100, had a beer and got psyched for the following day’s adventure… the infamous double crossing of Hope Pass from Twin Lakes to Winfield and back.

Day two started early with a quick pick up of Sean at his hotel and drive over to Twin Lakes. Sean and I headed up the Colorado Trail toward Treeline and I spun around after about an hour ten to meet Jess and Brad in Twin Lakes after 2 hours of running. From there, the three of us made our way across the river to the base of Hope Pass then jammed up the hill. It was another gorgeous day and we jammed up the pass to the Hopeless aid station where Brad and Jess turned around, leaving me to carry on solo to Winfield.

I summited in just under 2 hours (cumulative 4 hours), a mere 5 minutes after a bear apparently did the same (according to a hiker I met on the trail). Then rolled down to the Winfield road. From here, it is the longest 2.5 miles you have ever experienced up to the ghost town of Winfield at just under the 5 hour mark where I dumped rocks out of my shoe, read the historical plaque detailing the mining town’s past and then jammed back down the road to the base of the pass.

The south side of Hope is unbelievably steep and I power hiked the whole section. I summited at about the 6:39 mark then rolled down the north side of the pass and back to Twin Lakes in just under 8 total. That made for a sub-6-hour double crossing which is not too shabby, not too shabby at all.

I headed back to the cabin where I showered, ate dinner then jammed back home to see my lovely Rach. She hooked me up big time with massive amounts of tasty and nutritious food for the weekend. I can’t say enough about how helpful she has been throughout all of this. I honestly could not do this without her.

All in all, this was a confidence-building week and it was great to get out on the course with good friends. I finished up Hello Muddah on Monday (more about that later) and feel like it was very much a success.

Good times, good times.


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