Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Racing Year in Review

In only my sixth full year of running (for the sake of running), 2009 has easily been my biggest, most successful and most satisfying. Prior to this year, I had only once experienced the satisfaction of being the first to cross the finish line of a race (Heart Center of the Rockies 10k, '08). This year alone I won a total of seven races, easily beating any and all expectations I had going into the year, so I think it would be fair to label 2009 as something of a break-out year for myself (at the tender age of 34/35). A full break down of my finishing positions in the 23 races (416 miles) I ran go as follows:

1st: 7
2nd: 5
3rd: 2
4th: 4
Other: 5

Much of my competitive success this year has come from running in smaller fields against local runners, but even admitting that, I'll give myself some credit for being consistent across a broad range of distances, while also maintaining a consistently decent level of fitness throughout the year - meaning that when fields were weak I could capitalize.

I am well aware of where I stand in the grand scheme of things on the running hierarchy (especially on roads, where there is no hiding from the black and white of finishing times), but being able to race at the head of a field, no matter its size or talent, has added a new level of fun to the process for me.

Some runners compete almost exclusively against the clock, and that is fine, but truth be told I much prefer the heat of battle than I do the satisfaction of a new PR. With that in mind, I look forward to continuing a few rivalries that have developed this year and last, while also stirring up a few more. In addition, I am anxious to run a few races again in 2010 that I felt went sub-optimally for me in '09, the most notable of which is the race on Manitou's Big Hill - this time up and down.

With regards to times, I set a bunch of new personal records this year, some by hefty margins - suggesting that I am still on the steep section of the improvement curve (for now) - although I suspect the curve will begin to level off in 2010, but I do hope that I have a couple more years of continued improvement before age begins the slowing process regardless of the effort I put into training. Here are the personal records I achieved this year:

5k: 17:19 (split for the 10k at Harrietsham in December. I consider this to be at least 40 seconds soft).

4 mile: 22:00 (Thanksgiving Day Run).

10k: 34:48 (Harrietsham 10k in December. A reasonably solid PR, although it was run on the back end of back-to-back 100-mile weeks).

Marathon: 2:43:35 (Dublin).

50 mile: 7:03 (Collegiate Peaks).

** I didn't win a single one of the races I PR'd at.

My half marathon PR was set three of four years ago in the 1:23 range, so that is a target for 2010, as is my 5k PR which I hope to bring down to 16:30 or lower in the first half of 2010. I would also like to find a fast 50 miler to run (maybe AR50) to set a PR there. Other than that, my races were largely at altitude and on mountainous singletrack courses, where the only real measure is previous course-and-distance times. Those races that I did run for a second time this year were all considerably faster than previous efforts.

At times this year, I have felt a bit short changed at getting into the sport so far advanced into my prime competitive years, but then I think back to the fun I had playing rugby and other team sports as a kid, and I realize that I probably wouldn't change a thing - other than the hatred I had for running as a training tool, and a few years in my middle 20s where I achieved little to speak of with regards to health and fitness. I also try to remind myslef as frequently as possible to quit whining and understand how fortunate I am to even have the freedom, health and desire to get out and do what I do on a daily basis.

I plan to train hard in 2010 to continue to make the most of the time I do have left to run to my body's full potential. As such I have set some pretty lofty goals for 2010, which I won't go into here, but suffice to say that Bandera is one of a few stepping stones towards the goals I have set.

Thanks to all who have offered advice, encouragement (here or elsewhere), company on the trail, inspiration and laughs over the course of the year. Running is a solo endeavor, but I find it to be a whole lot more fun when shared with good friends - old and new alike.

See you on the trail ....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Harrietsham 10k

So I capped my last week of training before the taper for Bandera with 100+ miles and two shorter-distance races. The legs were a bit sore from the effort at Saltwood yesterday and the week prior, but they also felt a little lighter during the race than they did yesterday, so I felt like I'd be able to give a PR a reasonably honest shot. I ran the race in 36:29 last year after posting a 17:20 out and 19:09 back (ouch), and have run 35:30 (short course ~6.1 miles) since. Based on recent races, I figured that a sub-35 would be a reasonable goal.

The course at Harrietsham is all pavement and pretty challenging for a road race, with rolling hills on much of the route. The out has a net drop, while the return has a net climb, with the nastiest hill left for the last kilometer.

Jim, me and my bro lacing up pre-race.

Although there were only 350 runners in the field, the tone was way more racing focused than the festivities from yesterday. My brother had looked at the start list and informed me that a few of the guys from Tonbridge Athletics Club were likely to run sub-32, so I knew I'd be in the chase group, but hoped that I'd have a couple of guys to race with.

Got out for a short warm up with my brother then headed to the start by the church. Gun went off and I managed to keep from bolting, settling in behind a pack of 10-12 guys through the very early going. The pace felt good. By the first kilometer (they mark kilometers in 10k races in the UK, not miles as they annoyingly do in the US), I was 10-20 meters behind the lead pack of nine guys with two guys close at hand in front of me, so 12th after a first split of 3:09 (31:30 pace)! I was pretty confident there would be some carnage in front of me with that many guys at that pace, so I settled in, got comfortable and waited.

In the lead pack through the early stuff.

The next two splits came in at a more reasonable 3:23 & 3:35, which was approximately where I wanted to be, although I eased off a bit on the mental concentration through the third kilometer. I got a wake-up call from an Ashford AC runner who passed me somewhere here, and so set about re-establishing the 3:20s I wanted. The next two kilomenters were largely flat and came in at 3:28 & 3:42. I eased past the Ashford runner early and set about picking up the other two guys who had been running 10-15 meters ahead of me. I caught them both by the 5k split which posted at 17:19.

At the 5k last year (17:25), I tanked badly, and seeing the split this year I thought any hopes of going under 35 were unlikely given the course heads mostly up on the way back up. The sixth kilometer, however, had some very fast sections of drop where I was able to pick up a good head of steam, posting a 3:09 before settling in for the climb back out. With a figurative second wind kicking in and a nice literal tail wind blowing at my back, I felt strong and thought I might have a chance at picking off the eighth-placed guy who was a good 20 meters ahead of me. Kms 8 & 9 came in at 3:28 & 3:21, and just as I passed the 9k marker, I caught my final target for the race, slipping into eighth. The total split up to 9k was 30:48, so I figured I had a very good shot at going sub-35, despite the one nasty hill left to climb.

Knowing this was the last race of the year, and the last one before Bandera, I wanted to finish on a mentally and physically strong note, so I pushed the whole way in and crossed the line in 34:48 for a PR of over a minute. I'll take it. The most encouraging aspect of the race for me was my strong second half which I ran just nine seconds slower than the first half, despite the extra climbing and fatigue.

My brother, who said pre-race that he'd be happy to go under 40 minutes finished in 39:59.6!

Finishing strong.

Matt ducks under 40 mins by the skin of his teeth.

Time to rest up for two weeks to get ready for 62 miles of rolling, rocky gnarliness in Hill County Texas. After a strong week, I feel ready to give it my best shot.

Week Ending Dec. 27


AM - 10.5 miles easy to Blean Woods (black loop) and back. 1:20.

PM - 6.5 miles easy. 53. Four university laps.


27.5 miles. 4:00'ish. Stour Valley, Saxon Shore Way, Crab and Winkle.


AM - 6.5 miles easy at Blean Woods. 60 mins. Red loop and green loop. Trails were sheeted with ice. Not much fun.

PM - 5 miles easy. 39 mins. Three university loops.


AM - 17 miles easy. 2:23. Blean Woods Full Monty. All five way-marked trails: black, red, green, brown, white. Legs were pretty tired towards the end of this one.

PM - 6.5 miles easy. No watch. Four university laps.


AM - 10.5 miles easy to Blean Woods (black loop) and back. 1:22.


Noon - 5 miles. 2 mile warm-up, then BDR race.


AM - 8 miles, w/ 10k race (34:48).

Total: 103 miles (maybe 3,000' climbing).

Solid week with a very encouraging 10k on Sunday to cap it all off. Nothing better than feeling strong late into a tough race when you've already been worknig hard through the early going. Two much lighter weeks upcoming to rest the legs before the trip out to Texas.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Saltwood Boxing Day Run

Today we celebrated the Day of Boxes by heading out to the village of Saltwood for the Boxing Day Run - a three-mile cross country race I've done with my family for the last four years.

For those unfamiliar with Boxing Day, it is a national holiday in the UK which hearkens back to a time when servants and other social inferiors received gifts from their masters and got a rare day off. These days, it's more about football, beer and silliness, which probably explains why close to a 1,000 of us jam into the small village of Saltwood every Dec. 26 in the cold and rain to run through the thick mud of the Kentish countryside.

True to the nature of the holiday, the run is more about having a laugh and raising money for charity than it is about getting out and being competitive. The organizers, much like the day and the race, are a bit haphazard and never fail to amuse with the manner in which they're unfailingly overwhelmed by the task of timing the large numbers that always seem to take them by surprise. This year they were trying out a revolutionary barcode system to time the 1,000 or so assembled - more on that later.

My brother had his three kids (8,6 & 4) signed up to run, and Thomas - the eldest - was determined to beat our friend Jim this year after some gentle prodding from his uncle and dad, and a solid 26:30 recent 5k. Upon seeing Jim before the race in the pub, Thomas informed Jim of his intent and had nothing else to say before we headed off to the start, which had been relocated from the village green to the school playing fields.

The new start

With the new and much broader start location, up to 150 people probably toed the actual start line with runners 8 to 10 deep, so a true cross-country herd start. The rain started coming down just as we were set to start and the organizers decided that this would be a good opportunity to let us stew for a bit. Five minutes later and the horn went off, although I think I got out about a quarter second before that as I was anxious not to get trampled. Through the newly added S curves (to recapture distance lost from the start relocate) I settled into a spot about four back on the leaders who I had to shout back on course after 100 meters as they had missed a marker. I then proceeded to watch first and second, who were quite clearly in a different class, begin to open their gap on the rest of us.

After clearing the first big field, the course narrows on to a footpath and then back out to another smaller field before coming to a one-man-wide footbridge and the first fence/gate, where I was sitting in fifth and running comfortably behind three and four.

I was after a podium finish this year, and at this stage it seemed like I was in the hunt, with the three of us gapped behind second and also gapped to the pack behind. I chose to take the swing gate after the bridge rather than hurdle the fence, as the mud was so deep on the other side I was fearful that my shoe would be sucked off if I planted too hard in the slop. Working up the hill to the second fence crossing, I stuck behind the two guys ahead of me wishing desperately that I had a pair of spikes on, as the footing was just ridiculous. I had a pair of Sportiva Crosslites on, which, while decent in the mud, are no match for the traction that spikes can offer in the slop.

Once we cleared the hill and started across the biggest of the fields, I could sense that the two in front of me were either hurting or easing off a bit to recover from the hill, so I upped the pace to slip into third at the turn towards the woods, which is probably about the halfway point.

The wooded section is definitely my favorite section of the course, and today it offered by far the best off-road traction of the whole race. There is a quick drop as you get through the swing gate into the woods and I opened it up fully here to see if I could get a gap on the sodden but leafy trail section, and indeed I did, although it was short-lived as the slop soon returned and I was re-overtaken by my spike-wearing competition for third. He sounded like he was working hard so I was pretty confident that he wouldn't last.

Through the woods

Out of the woods, we continued almost shoulder to shoulder up the edge of the last field before I decided to try and get a lock on third by pushing as hard as possible on the last hill, which offered a pebbled and blissfully textured section of footpath, before hammering the drop to the final turn on to the road which leads back into Saltwood and the finish line.

As I made the turn, with a quarter mile to go, I shot a quick glance over my shoulder and saw that the guy I had been dueling for the last two miles had dropped about ten meters back. While he didn't look like he was giving up on third, I figured I had it in the bag. Error. About halfway through the final stretch, the spectators began to get very animated, and I realised that I was going to have to break out a full-on sprint to keep third.

Pick up your knees!

However, with 90 miles in my legs from the five days prior I just couldn't pick up my knees. In fact, I even heard someone shout at me to pick up my knees, but I just couldn't find it and I was out-kicked and overtaken in the last ten to fifteen meters. I finished in 17:50, which is a about a half minute slower than last year, despite the fact that I'm probably a minute fitter. Tough conditions.

Third place. At least it looks like I made him work for it.

Out-kicked again.

If I could have done it all over, I probably would have worked harder through the middle sections and not left it so late, as I quite simply don't have the leg speed for sprint finishes in these shorter races - I guess I'm more of a strength runner. One of these years I'm going to pick up some hardware from Saltwood - maybe in the new decade.

The timing? Another year, another fiasco. As I mentioned earlier, we had barcodes on our bibs this year. Unfortunately, however, the guy who was supposed to bring the equipment to process the barcoded bibs was a no-show, so the poor organizers had to scrape around at the last minute and ended up resorting to the funnel method for which they seemed woefully unprepared. When the main pack was back at the finish, the bottleneck through the funnel was probably thirty meters back, and extending way beyond the finish line into the last ten meters of the course. We'll see how many make it into the final results.

At the end of the day though, I don't think anyone really cares too much about the results and the timing, and those that do can time themselves. I don't know any other race that can charge so little (£5/$8), give away a medal to all finishers and still donate over £3,000 ($5,000) to charity.

Thomas failed in his quest to beat Jim, but still had a good run. My brother ran a solid race close to his time from last year - but was chicked by at least two, maybe even three, ladies. The winner in the women's race, Grace Nicholls, ran a very impressive race coming close to the course record (in the mud). Turns out she was fifth in the U-19 Cross County Nationals this year.

Second in the women's race, Helen Wheeler shows Matt how to work the downhill.

Matt on the home stretch.

Six-year-old William had a great run with his mom, while four-year-old Maddie was a bit too sick to run. Alistair enjoyed his race morning, as ever, getting out for a short romp around the school fields with his mom.

William getting it done.

William and his mom Karen.

Jim leads a procession down the hill.

Thomas at the point of realization that he'd been beaten by Jim ... this year.

I'm running a 10k in Harrietsham, near Maidstone, tomorrow to round out a great season of running. I'm hoping to finish out the decade by PR'ing and dipping under the 35-minute mark. We shall see.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

East Kent Sea and Countryside

Got out with my brother for a romp around East Kent this morning. We went from Canterbury to Grove Ferry along the Stour Valley Way, trampling across numerous farmers' fields, before cutting north for Reculver and the coast on the Saxon Shore Way.

A swan on the River Stour. The Stour runs through my home town of Canterbury.
A country house.

The Grove Ferry Inn. We cut north to the coast from here.
Pretty random.
We spent a lot of time route finding. Our first sight of the coast. Reculver towers in the distance.
By every church, there should be a watering hole.
Reculver towers. The ruins of an old Norman church sitting right on the coast.

From Reculver, we followed the coast to Herne Bay and then on to Whitstable before hooking into the Crab and Winkle Way, which is an old rail line that has been turned into a hiking trail between Whitstable and Canterbury.

Matt heading to Herne Bay.

Working the hill. Reculver towers in the background.
Beach huts and a wind farm out to sea. Herne Bay.
Funky signage on the Crab and Winkle.
Any cross-country route in the UK involves endless stile hopping.

Almost home. Outside Kent College, my old secondary school.

Canterbury to Herne Bay Pier was 16 miles, and then it was another six cold and breezy miles along the coast to Whitstable, followed by a further six back to Canterbury on the only section that I knew well. Total run was 28 miles in 4:15, with 20-25 minutes of that route finding and messing around. Great workout, and while I didn't feel like I needed to continue on and add any more miles I certainly felt like I could have. With 17 miles in the legs from the day before, this was a big confidence builder for Bandera.

The chalky Kentish mud sticks.
There is no finer post-run food.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Week Ending Dec 20

Mon - 9 miles (2,000'). HTH course. 1:49. On a scale of 1 to 10 on the fun meter this was a double zero minus. Snow was rutted, crusty and icy on the service drive and Horsetooth Trail. Westridge was just a complete nightmare with the snow horribly drifted, wet and slippery. Reduced to a hike for a lot of this. Trails are out at least until I get back from the UK in the new year.

Tues - 19 miles easy (1,200'). 2:27. Road loop from home via 38e to Taft - Prospect - Overland - Centennial - 38e. Out the door with a 14 mile out-and-back to JJs in mind, but decided after a few minutes to rack some more miles by tacking on a loop behind the stadium. No water/fuel. Was starving by the time I got home. Opened the fridge and started eating. Stopped about an hour later.

Weds - 12.5 miles (900') harder than I wanted on Redstone Canyon. 1.30. Was waiting for a work call all day and just as I was about to head out the door for a planned 16 miles, the call came in. After the call, I ended up with just 90 minutes to get a run done before I had to pick up Alistair from daycare. Frustrated, I went harder than planned on Redstone to max the mileage - probably not the best idea after going long on Tuesday. 7's up the hill and 6:30s back.

Thurs -

Noon - 18.5 miles easy (1,400'). 2:35. Redstone/Milner. Had a choice at 18 miles today: take it to the pain cave on tired legs by tacking 6 miles and 1,500' of climbing to the end of the run on icy trails or go home. I went home. A little disappointing to fold like that, but I stopped and thought about it too long at the Horsetooth parking lot. Should have followed the ultra mantra and kept on moving.

PM - 3.5 miles. Casual run before the Fort Collins Running Club Xmas potluck. Fun times.

Fri - 13.75 miles (1,100'). 1:48. Out and back to Redstone 4-mile marker, then Milner. 8s up, 7:30s back. Legs (quads mainly) were definitely achy today, but still had zip when asked. That's how I want them to feel 50 miles in at Bandera.

Sat - 13.75 miles (1,100'). 1:50. Same route as yesterday with Eric Bergman (Towers FKT holder). Eric and his wife both work for the Department of Wildlife, and he was telling me about a mountain lion study his wife is involved with.

Apparently they collared one in Boulder a couple of weeks ago and have been tracking its recent movements - five readings with one info beam down a day. In a two-week span the cat went from Boulder up to Laramie, hugging the foothills, and then headed back south (not enough tree cover on the Laramie plains), and apparently it was resident in the Horsetooth area as we were out on our run. I've definitely seen prints up there, but never met one face to face (thankfully ... I think).

Sun - 5 miles easy. Three laps of university loop in Canterbury. We were supposed to be leaving for the UK at 5:00 on Saturday afternoon, but 20 minutes from getting to Denver International we learned that our flight had been delayed five, yes five, hours because of snow in London, which meant our arrival would be pushed back to 3:00 pm on Sunday. After customs, baggage and a slow drive home on icy roads, we didn't get to Canterbury until 6:00 pm, which essentially torpedoed my goal of hitting 100 miles for the week. There was really no point in going any longer than the five shake-out miles I ended up doing, as I was tired, grouchy and ready to eat the venison my mom was cooking for dinner. So 95 miles it was.

Total: 95 miles (7,700'). One more big mileage week to come before I back off to get ready for Bandera. Planning a 24/25-miler to Ramsgate on public footpaths along the River Stour with my brother on Tuesday, then back-to-back races Dec 26, 27 before I taper down to get ready for a shot at qualifying for Western States. Felt like the legs absorbed the jump in mileage pretty well this week, so I am hopeful that the distance won't be a major factor at Bandera, but you never know with these longer races.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Classic 4 Miler

The Christmas Classic, in its 29th year, is a fun end-of-season race put on by the owner of Foot of the Rockies John Lonsdale. Santa and Mrs Claus both run the race and anyone who beats them gets a free pair of socks. In addition this year, there was a kids race after the main event so Alistair got to run his third race of the year, and once again he was super excited at the prospect.

Got out for a two mile warm up with Pete and Alex and then stripped down to a T and split shorts, which was a margin call given the cool temps, as was the choice of racing flats given the conditions underfoot. I think I was right on the shorts and T, but definitely wrong on the flats: an aggressive tread would have been a much better choice as the course was covered in patchy ice and loose, slippery slush.

Not much to say on this one really. Took off hard from the gun (got to stop doing that) and led from start to finish. I ended up running a minute slower than two weeks previously over the same distance at the Turkey Trot. Given the conditions, I'm going to call it an even effort between the two. I remembered from last year that the winner picked up a pair of Mizuno shoes, so I was pretty happy after looking over my shoulder at mile two that I had at least 20 meters on the three guys running 2, 3 & 4. Free shoes are always welcome.

Alistair's run was a short, but fun one. He's really getting into the running thing and he was smiling and laughing the whole way around.

Stickin' it to Santa.

After he finished his race, Alistair decided that he wanted to go again so he raced an extra lap solo: that's my boy!

Bonus lap!

A good turnout from the Fort Collins Running Club and also the Fort Collins Trail Runners, so a fun morning all around with lots of friendly and familiar faces. Perhaps the highlight of the morning, however, was meeting and chatting with the legendary (in the mountain running world) Pablo Vigil, four-time winner of the Sierre Zinal, which is probably the most prestigious mountain race out there. It was great to pick his brain on training and also to hear some great stories from the European mountain racing circuit. While he no longer holds the course record at Zinal (Jonathan Wyatt) he's still gone around quicker than Killian Journet - today's emerging legend.

Week Ending Dec 13

Mon - 6.5 miles (1,500') to top of Horsetooth and back. It was bitterly cold out and the conditions underfoot where terrible for running, but I just couldn't face the mill, not that I really gave it much thought. Having grown up in the UK where it's frequently wet, but rarely snowy, heavy snowfalls are still something of a novelty to me. Sure I had plenty of nasty winters in New York, but in the city snow is just annoying and nasty. In the mountains, it takes on a much more serene and peaceful beauty, so I was actually pretty excited to get out into my neighboring and untouched winter wonderland for a short trip up to the top of Horsetooth and back. The last scramble to the top of the rock was interesting under heavy drifts, but the snow was so light and dry I could just brush it away to expose the rock where necessary. Little hairier on the way down, but no major issues. Sun kept trying to poke through, but never really did. A monochromatic afternoon.

Tues - 7 miles (1,500'). Up Horsetooth, down Wathan back on Spring Creek/Falls. Fresh couple of inches overnight and continued frigid temperatures, but I still couldn't face the mill. The sun was partially out, so the decision was an easy one.

H'tooth from Wathan.
Don't usually bother, but decided to take a quick peek at the falls.
Worth the detour.
I had my own frozen falls going on (sorry, pretty gross).
But not as gross as Monday!
Wednesday was more glacier than icicle.
Thursday was cold, but not beardcicle cold.
Friday I was dressed for the 14 degrees the weather man was talking about, but with the sun it couldn't have been more than a couple of degrees below freezing. Ended up seriously over-dressed: long johns and everything.

Weds - 9 miles (2,150'). 1:50. HTH course from home. My Highgear watch found an extra 250 feet of climbing today than it has in the past. I think it was because I was moving at a decidedly slower pace than I usually do on this route, so it was better able to pick up the smaller bumps in the trail between readings. Ridiculously cold again today, although the sun helped significantly. Feet were frozen to the point where I thought frostbite might be an issue, but I started getting feeling in the toes towards the top of the first climb so decided to continue on rather than head back. Followed my tracks from Tuesday to Wathan and then cut new ones on Westridge. Probably six inches of sink with four inches compacted on each footfall: one hell of a workout. Followed what I thought were big cat tracks for a while off Herrington. The animal was clearly hunting out a resting spot as tracks led from one shelter to another. Towers had been plowed which was a very welcome surprise after my slog across the ridge. I think there was some kind of controlled burn going on somewhere up Stout beyond Herrington because the air was pretty thick with smoke.
H'tooth from Herrington. Can you see the trail?
Double the work on the ups.
Cat tracks? Maybe, maybe not. Kind of look like deer tracks from the photo, but definitely weren't. Snow was so fine and dry, the prints weren't great, but there were definitely pads and claws on the foot.

Thurs - 17.5 miles (1,200'). 2:13. Couldn't face any more trudge, so opted for roads. Out and back to end of Redstone Canyon on snow-packed dirt road. 17:30 to Redstone, then 7:54, 7:52, 7:10, 7:54, 7:50, 7:42, 6:50, 6:57, 6:48, 7:05, 7:16, 7:14, 7:16; 19:44 back up the hill. Neglected to bring any fuel or water on this run - not quite sure why. Started running out of gas about half way back on Redstone. Views of back side of Horsetooth from Redstone are pretty awesome. Yeah, I know, overkill on the pics.

Fri - 19 miles (1,500'). 2:29. As Thursday, but tacked on a bit extra with Milner loop. Been a while since I put two days like this back to back on roads. I'd be lying if I said the last few miles of today's run didn't hurt - they did. Seems my body is just not made for roads. I also got a reminder on Redstone of one of the many reasons why I hate to run roads. Coming around a blind corner I had to dive off the side of the road (into a snow bank) to avoid being hit by a truck. Also a good reason to leave the tunes at home. I was so unmotivated to do this run, however, that I felt I needed music to help get it done. 17:14 to Redstone, then 8:00, 7:58, 7:59, 8:22 (including dive into ditch), 8:10, 8:06, 6:55, 7:17, 7:26, 7:17, 7:06, 7:16, 7:30 & 32:00 slog home via Milner.

Sat - 6 miles easy (500'). Milner.

Sun - 7 miles. Xmas Classic 4 mile race. 23:03. Two mile warm up with Pete and Alex, then mile cool down.

Total: 72 miles (8,300').

Some tough miles in there this week with heavy trudge miles Monday through Wednesday then longer road miles Thursday and Friday followed by a a slippery road race Sunday. Picked up a bit of focus to my training on Wednesday as I finally decided to get off the fence on Bandera, which I have now committed to running. This will probably be my one and only shot at trying to qualify for Western States. If I don't finish top two and secure a place there then it's on to other running goals for the year. Figure I'll give myself two weeks of solid mileage upcoming and then taper down for two weeks before the race. Also got my appos in for Hardrock and Wasatch. If it all pans out then this could turn out to be a heavy 100-mile year. Of course, I could miss out on both lotteries, not finish top two at Bandera, and still be looking for a 100 miler to run. Whatever happens, I don't think it will be Leadville as I would much rather do the up and down version of Pikes Peak which is the same weekend.