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.

~stubert.

Vests are handsome…

Nathan HPL-008 Race Vest
This doesn't make my butt look big.

Put on approachable airs this summer in our dapper Brisbane Vest, a breezy and brilliant choice for the 19th century gentleman’s mild-weather wardrobe. ~Gentleman’s Emporium

Since I am all laid up, I thought I’d provide a gear review for all you runners out there just dying to know what I think about stuff. So for this installment of Stu’s Reviews™ I bring you (drumroll)… The Nathan HPL #008 Race Vest. (You can stop drumrolling now.)

I had been trying to move exclusively to a bottle system for hydration but found that either I would start to chafe  from my running belt on longer runs or would simply not be able to carry enough water to get me from station to station. After talking with Charles Corfield, I decided to give the Nathan HPL #008 a try.

First impressions:
From the very first run, the 008 felt incredibly natural and comfortable and immediately felt like “my” vest. The reservoir holds 1.5 liters of water (about 2.5 regular bottles) and rides well in the pack. Little details make the 008 work really well with a small stash pocket on the back (big enough for a light jacket and gloves); a mesh pocket on the front for energy gel and a zippered pocket up front as well for a camera, extra food, etc.; and a cool reservoir retention system to help keep the bladder upright and kink-free.

Overall impressions:
After using the 008 for over a month, I have come to really appreciate the benefits of the Nathan vest system. So much so that I purchased a second vest (the larger, HPL #020). Occasionally, I will get some light chafing under my arms but this, I think, can be attributed more to using arm warmers than the vest. One note, do not cut the reservoir tube until you have used the pack a couple of times. What seems like ample length when empty, turns out to be just about right when the reservoir is full. Overall, the vest is unbelievably comfortable, keeps my hands free, provides ample storage and is a great addition to any ultra runners go-to gear.

This puppy should set you back ~$80 and can be found both online at a variety of vendors and through many local shops.

~stubert.

24-hours of Utah Race Report…

Moab at dusk
Caution: Runners on Road

I want to be more like the ocean… no talkin’ and all action. ~ Jane’s Addiction

Thurs 25 Mar: 00:38, 4.9 miles, Boulder Creek Path tempo
Sat 27 Mar: 5:13, 31.9 miles, 24-Hours of Utah 2-person 12-hour race

Back to Moab and more racing. I would say that the results this time were significantly improved over my last venture. Different course, totally different race. Good times.

First, the prelude… Wednesday went totally pear-shaped on me as it started off poorly and just seemed to get progressively worse. I had a 7-miler on deck but a snow storm put the damper on that plan and apparently the Rec Center still thinks that snow is enough of a catastrophic event to continue to close down whenever it happens. I am going to chalk that up in the “lame” column. Anyway, the day was a bit of a disaster so I am pretending it never existed. Moving on…

Thursday, I was supposed to go for a relatively easy run with some light tempo work but apparently my bod had other plans. Ended up slamming a 5-miler in 38 minutes while trying not to. I am going to not scoff at it, however. Guessing I needed to release some frustration from the previous day’s cluster, so I did. Tried out the new Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XCs. Apparently, they are speedy.

Friday, Sean and I jammed down to Moab to run the 2-person, 12-hour event at the 24-Hours of Utah ultra race. Sean offered to drive so I did a little happy dance and plopped into the passenger seat for the 6-hour trip. We stopped a couple of times along the way to eat and fuel up so it was a leisurely adventure. Rolled into Moab around dusk, checked into the hotel, grabbed some food and hit the sack early. One thing I have noticed about many Moab restaurants… very few places “specialize”. Seems like you can get burritos or pizza or whatever pretty much anywhere you go. Very odd.

Up early on Saturday to gather our stuff, check in to the race and get rolling. It was fairly chilly in the morning but clear and calm and I started us out with a couple of relatively fast laps which put us in 5th overall. This was not a good way to start the day and the early fast pace would haunt me the rest of the day. The course featured fun, varied terrain which started on dirt roads then dipped into some sandy singletrack then climbed on slickrock to the highpoint and then reversed the order on the back side of the loop (descend slickrock, singletrack, roads). Runners were instructed to alternate direction each lap which provided some variety, which was nice. Great scenery abounded for sure.

After my two laps, it was Sean’s turn and he spun a couple while I attempted to figure out how to fight stiffness and chills while waiting for his return. Not sure that mission was accomplished as when it was my turn to run again, I was seriously clunky. This would be the pattern all day: Run for a bit, attempt to not get too wrecked during the down time, repeat. Definitely a challenge.

I ended up spinning relatively even laps (well… not my last one, so much) and Sean kept the tempo during his stints on course even while experiencing some seriously horrendous stomach issues. He hung tough and I couldn’t even convince him to let me finish things out by taking his final lap. We ended up with 64 total in just under 12 hours for a 2nd place finish.

Sean’s stomach problems continued into the night so I went to Zax for quite possibly the worst $20 “large” pizza of all time. Yeah. Don’t go there. We got up early the next day, hit the Jailhouse for breakfast (Sean’s stomach still not cooperating) and then jammed back home. Aside from the nausea, it was a great trip.

Some tidbits:

  • Pacing: Figuring out how to pace these types of events is a challenge. One gets the Devil/Angel thing going on with the Devil telling you, “Rip it up, man. You only have to run 5 miles.” And the Angel keeps screaming, “Dude! You’ll log over 30 by day’s end. Slow the fuck down!” Well, as usual, the Devil won.
  • Pacing Part 2: Having logged virtually all of my mileage this winter on roads, my ideal of a “reasonable” pace is still thoroughly out of whack. Running 11-minute miles just doesn’t feel right. This… will need to change.
  • Run/Rest Cycles: Honestly, this format is for the birds. I had fun, but taking 45 minutes to 1.5 hours off between efforts is not the way to get things done.

Overall, it was a great race. It was cool to meet Ben Dunn, who won the men’s 12-hour solo race and logged as many miles in 10.5 hours as the two of us managed to crank out in almost 12. Also congrats to Sonja Wieck who tore up the field with her 21:58 100-mile solo effort. Her first 100-miler too!

All in all a great weekend of running in the desert.

~stubert.

No track mind…

Snow at the Casa
Plonk.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. ~ Lao Tzu

Tues 23 Mar: 00:47, 4.25 miles, Treadmill surges

An upslope storm rolled in last night and dumped about 18″ of fresh stuff on the Casa del Critters. Standard operating procedure for the Front Range this time of year. What is significantly less standard is my “meh” reaction to the whole thing. Typically, I would be standing in a line with a thousand other yahoos waiting for the lifts to start churning. This year, not so much.

Lots of factors contribute to my blah reaction to what would normally be unbridled enthusiasm for blower pow conditions. The death of my friend, Jonny Copp, in an avalanche last Spring certainly isn’t getting me overly thrilled to go out and tackle the backcountry and the shitty snow conditions we have experienced all year aren’t helping either. I tend to get into patterns of behavior and if things don’t line up, I move on.

I am a bit bummed that I bought passes again this year that have remained virtually unused. And I think my bummed-ness comes less from the money I spent on the passes than from the loss of enthusiasm for something I once cherished. I have been trying to look at it all from a more Zen perspective (with mixed results). Over the past 10 years or so, I have racked up an average of about 60 days per year. So over the long haul, I have gotten my money’s worth. I think that the overall change in attitude has to do with the quality of running I am experiencing this year. All season I have been telling myself that I would rather go for a good run than a mediocre ski and now, well… I think that I would rather go for a good run than a good ski.

Perhaps next year things will change. If the East Wall at the Basin will ever open up, maybe my attitude about skiing this year will come around. But I really only look at that as a way to cross-train for running. Apparently, I now have a no-track mind.

~stubert.

Week in review…

The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Tues 16 Mar: 00:46, 4.69 miles, Casa trails surges
Wed 17 Mar: 2:08, 13.5 miles, Dearborn tempo
Thurs 18 Mar: 00:32, 3.11 miles, Snowy trails slog
Sat 20 Mar: 00:40, 4.35 miles, Treadmill surges
Sun 21 Mar: 5:00, ~30 miles, Long, slow Boulder run
TOTAL: 8.75 hours, 55 miles

This was a pretty solid week of training, actually – especially considering how I felt most of the week. After last Sunday’s effort, I was a little beaten up going into my normal schedule and though I was able to keep up the plan, I was definitely feeling it this week. On top of that, I donated platelets/plasma on Wednesday and that took it out of me a bit. Thursday I had to drag myself out on my run but, as experience is proving, once I got out there, I had a great time. I did modify my route to be more about entertainment than running (post-holed for much of the “run” in deep snow drifts) but sometimes that is what you have to do. Mix it up. Enjoy.

By Saturday I was feeling pretty much all together again and Sunday’s run was another tour of way North Boulder. Amazing how the miles just tick off. By hour 4 I was getting a little tired but finished up relatively strongly (even if getting a bit sore) and managed to come away from the whole experience feeling very positively about the effort. I must admit that I am a little sore today but am sure that will pass quickly.

While running multiple hours on end, one has the opportunity to do a lot of thinking and one item that comes up fairly often for me is the philosophy that there is no such thing as a bad run. Sure, some are more productive than others, or hurt less, or have an overall quality that surpasses others, but really, there are lessons to be learned from each and every experience. Sometimes the lessons are big (remember to drink, don’t step on rusty nails, punching yourself in the face is not a good motivator) and sometimes they are as simple as, “I can do this!” Regardless, I have discovered that getting out there, even if the end result doesn’t feel especially “good”, is way better than not getting out there.

Enjoy.

~stubert.