Sunday, January 31, 2010
Tues - 4 mile (500') tester run at Reservoir Ridge with FCTR. Foot felt decent, if not great.
Weds - 8 miles (1,700'). Horsetooth/Audra route. Foot felt much better, but the whole run felt a little bit too much like hard work, as if I've lost some fitness.
Thurs - 8.5 miles (2,100'). Horsetooth/Audra with extra up on Southridge and Hilltop added. Felt like hard work again, but got easier as the run progressed. Foot was hardly noticeable, which is a huge relief. Felt the achilles a bit though.
Fri - 8.5 miles (2,100'). As yesterday. Things felt a little more fluid, but still like I'm missing a step and a lung.
Sat - 10.5 miles (2,000'). Twin Mountain Trudge.
Sun - 17.5 miles (1,200') easy with Eric B, who informed me that the Mountain Lion his wife had tagged as part of a Wildlife Service project had been shot somewhere near Laporte a couple of weeks back - just north of town - and then dumped off the side of the road in Evergreen. Seemingly someone shot the cat and then decided they needed to dispose of the evidence far away.
Couple of miles hiking with Alistair to Horsetooth Falls in the afternoon.
Total: 53 miles (9,600').
January: 252 miles (33,700)
Legs feel like they did significantly more than 53 miles this week, which tells me I'm far from recovered from the Bandera/Ghost Town double. Not really sure where to go from here. Two weeks until yet another long race, which looks like it's going to be fast - a concept that feels pretty foreign to me right now.
I definitely feel like I need to be training more and racing way less. After Moab, things calm down significantly, so hopefully I'll be able to get into a better rhythm with the whole training thing. I'm also beginning to think it might be an idea to skip Moab altogether and figure on getting some consistency going. Guess I'll see how the week goes and then make the call on race/no race.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Alec and Cathy Muthig started their little 'adventure race' six years ago with a mission to challenge the Wyoming running folk to even tougher conditions than they already have to deal with up there in the land of the frigid wind. The course is an 11 mile snow loop around the Twin Mountain massif; flotation devices and whining are grounds for disqualification.
Last year we had significant wind, but the snow levels were considered manageable compared to 2008 when 'runners' were wading through waist-deep snow. This year, the snow was definitely worse than '09, but we had a picture perfect morning: zero wind accompanied by glorious sun. With three layers on top, I was overheating within five minutes of the off.
Whereas last year a good 20-30% of the course was dirt, this year there can't have been more than a hundred yards of dirt and it came at you in patches of one or two steps: worthless. Undoubtedly the running was harder, but for the weather we had it was a fair trade.
A record 39 runners toed the line, with 14 - including myself - signed up for the double loop. Unlike last year, however, I wasn't committed mentally to the second loop from the start, instead I went in with a wait-and-see approach ... er ... the-second-loop-probably-ain't-gonna-happen approach.
Our small band of hardy souls got out at a trot from Alec's 'off' and I was soon breaking trail with a couple of other Fort Collins'ites: Ross Kontz and Mike Hinterberg. My first of many spills came early with a foot unexpectedly sinking knee deep into the abyss, followed by a face plant into the sugary snow. Pull yourself back up and start trudging again, that essentially was the MO for the remainder of the run.
By the time we hit Devil's Loop and the south side of Twin Mountain, I was losing interest in any thoughts of two loops and trudging in general. Ross had taken off and was soon out of sight, my energy levels were low, my foot was starting to hurt a bit, but hey, at least the wind wasn't blowing. The south side of the run seemed to take forever and the snow was unrelenting: crunch, crunch, posthole, stumble; crunch, crunch, posthole, fall.
I finally made the climb out of the Devil's Loop, missed a couple of turns and then was back up through the rocks and into an area with more exposed views. I caught sight of Ross a couple of minutes ahead and figured that I would give chase. My thinking went that if I could catch him by the end of the first loop, I could stop and still claim a win for the short course without having to go two loops for a win and a perfect January - all the incentive I needed.
With a couple of miles to go, we hooked into a snowmobile track that had crusted over nicely: finally some firm footing that was reliably runnable. I caught Ross with a half mile to go and cruised into the finish, happy to call it a day after a total of 110 race miles in January. Ross came in a half minute behind me, grabbed a couple of cookies and then proceeded to put me to shame by heading straight back out for his second loop. Alec had beers to hand, so the shame was soon forgotten.
I passed a good couple of hours shooting the breeze with the fine folk of the southern Wyoming running community and those that had come up from the Front Range, before heading back south with Alex and Michael to the comfort of a 48 degree Fort Collins afternoon.
On a side note, Patrick Eastman added a couple of growlers of Library IPA and porter to the post-race beer pool. If you ever find yourself in Laramie, be sure to stop in at the Library Sports Grille and Brewery to check out the brews - really good stuff.
So another fun run outing in Wyoming, and great to see so many people coming out to enjoy the silliness of Alec and Cathy's trudgeathon. Three more years and I earn the jacket.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
am - 2.5 miles (500'). To Bench on Soderberg and back.
pm - 5 miles (700'). Falls/Spring Creek loop.
am - 2.5 miles (500'). Bench and back.
pm - 6.5 miles (1,700'). To top of Horsetooth and back.
am - 2.5 miles (500'). Bench and back.
pm - 6 miles (1,500'). Horsetooth/Audra.
am - 2.5 miles (500'). Bench and back.
pm - 6 miles (1,500'). Horsetooth/Audra.
Sat - 20 miles (800') easy w/Alex and Kemp. Roads from JJs along dam to Centennial, then Horsetooth Half route to Overland and back to JJs.
Sun - 0 miles. Some significant pain in the ball of my foot under the second toe in the latter half of this week. Ran through it, hoping it would go away, but after 20 miles Saturday it was pretty evident that this was more than bruising. Bagged a planned 13 miler with Eric B.
Total: 53.5 (8,100'). Next week may well be a goose egg. My foot feels like it will need time to heal (see Sunday) - possibly an inflamed tendon, and praying it is not a stress fracture. Either way, I'm going to give it the time it needs and not do anything silly this early in the year.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Any time the pre-race dinner is preceded by a Greek dance performance illuminated by stars and candlelight, you can bet you're not at your average trail race.
After a trip on Saturday from our stop-over in Santa Fe, which included a visit to urgent care to attend to poor Alistair’s fingers that had been pinched in the car door (nothing too serious, but some major pain for the wee nipper), we were more than ready to decompress once finally at our destination.
Showing off his war wounds
So after the dancing and the feast - lashings of pasta from Susan and her band of tireless volunteers, plus an assortment of pot-luck contributions (a real family affair) - we were treated to three or four minutes of ancient Greek verse (recited from memory) by Susan’s husband Tom. As I said, an event in and of itself with a run thrown in for a little extra fun.
The race is essentially an off-road marathon sandwiched between two road 10ks - one uphill the other down. Race morning came bright and early, with approximately 100 runners assembled in the brisk 6:00 am air.
Not really in the mood at 5:30 in the morning
Paul Grimm sporting a pink Snuggie
Lighting was required for the first six miles up the hill to the dirt-road turn-off, and Andy Jones-Wilkins, myself, Pete Stevenson (a fellow Fort Collins’ite) and Rochelle Wirth settled into an easy pace through the opening few miles, getting up the six-mile climb in the social manner typical of ultra races. Andy and I opened a bit of a gap on the other two through the last couple of road miles and then once on the dirt Andy dropped back a bit, and I was left to run alone, which is essentially where I remained for the rest of the race.I hadn’t run a step since Bandera, eight days prior, with the exception of a two-mile shakeout run the night before, so I wasn't sure how to approach the run from a racing standpoint. The no-run thing was partly crazy schedule, which included a jammed three-day work trip to New York mid week, and partly a sore overextended knee that was slow to heal.
Eight miles into the race and my legs were already feeling the way they had after the first 50k at Bandera, so I knew the run was going to be a slog, but I welcomed it as useful mental training. Being out in the lead so early, I didn’t really know if I wanted to try and push for as fast a time as possible or just do enough for the win. I ended up straddling the two options, pushing at times and taking it easy at others.
Coming into the Vista aid station (I think), a couple miles from the turn
On the way back from the turnaround, both Andy and Pete were a lot closer than I thought they would be - six to seven minutes - so I was forced to up the tempo as I knew they would be pushing each other hard. Pete was no more than 20 seconds behind Andy and he looked hungry (in a predator-type way) and I was sure that he would be coming home in front of Andy. The fourth-place runner - Rochelle Wirth - was also looking very strong, and while Jamie Donaldson was evidently running Ghost Town as a training run, it would have taken quite a run to beat Rochelle who ended up destroying the previous course record.
Going into the race, I had been thinking that a five-hour run would be a good goal, and after a bit of mental calculation from the turn, I figured that if I could get to the road and the last six miles in 4:20, I would give it a shot. I got to the road in 4:23 and was actually pretty thankful to be taking it easy through the last six miles, which I ran in 46 minutes for a 5:09 finish and a new course record.
Heading out on the last six
Alistair and Dana were waiting at the finish and I got to cross the line with Alistair in tow, which is always special.
For winning the race, I got a beautiful turquoise and coral necklace (huge chunk of turquoise), a $50 Fleet Feet voucher and a big thing of local Hatch Chiles - love it!
Andy ended up fending off Pete with a 41 minute last six miles providing - as he put it - the crusty cheese filling in a Fort Collins sandwich. Pete continues to get stronger each year he runs this thing and looks to be in great early season shape as he prepares for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning this summer. He and I will be sharing more than a few miles on the trail this winter/spring as we build up to an exciting 2010 of racing.
The weekend was rounded off with as much fantastic homemade food as one could get down - enchiladas, corn bread, soups, cookies and on and on and on - good conversation and a few (too many) brews from home.
Tireless race director, Susan Reynolds, and I at the post-race dinner
The Ghost Town weekend is a cult classic that has to be experienced to be believed. Sign up early if you want to run in 2011; this year sold out in a day - maybe two.
On a side note, a few minutes after we got back from the 11-hour haul home, we welcomed our newly adopted Rhodesian Ridgeback mix to the fold. More on Teio in a later post.
Tuesday - Off (NYC)
Wednesday - Off (NYC)
Thursday - Off (NYC)
Friday - Off
Saturday - 2 miles
Sunday - 38.5 miles (4,500'). Ghost Town.
Total: 40.5 miles (4,500').
My knee was suspect all week. Felt like I overextended it at Bandera. I get this frequently at races, but the pain is usually gone within a couple of days. This time, the pain lingered through the week and was still sore the day before Ghost Town, but was never really an issue during the race. Barely felt it the next day. Funny how that works.
After a crazy start to the new year, it's time to get some serious training done. I'll be looking to build back up slowly into the 70-90 mile zone over the next couple of months, with most everything at a comfortable training pace and a few races to stay sharp, before cranking again for the Western States build up beginning in April.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
The overnight weather forecast was for low-teen degrees, which is some kind of multi-year low for the San Antonio area.
While the low teens are cold in Colorado, something about the moisture in the Texas air made the cold that much colder than the dry cold of home. I wasn't looking forward to camping.
At the pre-race trail briefing, a friend of Brownie's - Mike - introduced himself to me, and told me to swing on by his friend's camper to stay warm before they all turned in for the night. Offer gladly accepted.
As the sun came up, the car thermometer was reading 10 degrees. Blimey, what to wear? I decided to put tights on over a pair of shorts and suited up with a hat, two Ts and a jacket. Despite knowing that the de-layering process was going to cost me time during the race , I just couldn't face numbness through the opening hour or two.
From the gun, a pack of six or seven of us headed out on the short jeep road to the trailhead and the first climb of the day where we were immediately greeted by the loose rock that would be the theme of the day, with some good step-ups and step-downs thrown in for good measure. I set the pace - trying to keep it honest, but comfortable - to the first aid station at mile 5.6 (47). The four of us in the lead pack at aid one all shot straight through without stopping, and soon after Chikare Omine from San Francisco eased past me and took up the pace, stepping it up a notch as the trail smoothed out in a section of the course that provided some respite from the rock hopping. Somewhere in here we lost the fourth runner in the pack, and it was just me, Chikare and Dan Vega from Colorado Springs.
We went through aid 2 (11 miles) in 1:27 as a pack, and it seemed like it would be the three of us sparring for the two Western States spots that we had all come down for. Somewhere on the way to aid three at 16.9 miles I had to stop and unload my early morning coffee, giving up 30-40 seconds on Dan and Chikare. I didn't bother trying to catch back up, realizing that there was a long, long way to go and the extra effort would be wasteful, so I just sat back and kept on the pace we had been running, getting visuals every now and then to confirm that I wasn't loosing any more ground. As I came into Cross Roads, aid 3 (16.8 miles, 2:13), Chikare was just heading out and Dan was in among the drop bags. I scoffed a couple of oranges while an aid volunteer filled my bottle and took care of putting my jacket in my drop bag. I was able to get out in front of Dan and maybe two minutes behind Chikare on the five-mile loop from, and back to, the Cross Roads aid station.
Dan caught up to me quickly and we settled into a rhythm together for a while. A mile or two down the track, we managed to miss one of the best-marked turns on the whole course and ran about a quarter mile before coming to a trail intersection. The course had been so well marked up to this point that the fact that there were no trail markings told us immediately that we'd gotten off course (one of these days I'll complete a trail race without getting off course). We turned around and headed back the way we had come, thankfully finding the turn sooner rather than later. Dan seemed pretty agitated by the mishap and upped the pace. I let him go, as we still had over 40 miles to race and I just didn't want to burn energy unnecessarily.
The mini-loop section from and back to Cross Roads had a fun couple of climbs and descents, and I was able to get visuals on Dan a few times, but nothing on Chikare. I had to keep reminding myself to stay patient and stay on pace rather than chase the WS places. Coming back into the Cross Roads aid station (21.8, 2:51), Dan and Chikare were both gone so I didn't linger, passing straight through.
In the next four miles, the course was pretty technical with just a ton of rock, steep grades and general nastiness. I figured I would probably make some time here, but continued to maintain a consistent effort, reminding myself to keep on top of the fluids and nutrition. I had a 10oz gel flask filled with First Endurance Liquid Shot taped to my water bottle, so I was able to keep on top of my calorie intake with a minimum of fuss and fumbling. I was also supplementing the Liquid Shot with oranges at the aid stations and as much coke as I could imbibe.
At the second aid station on the second loop, I was still by myself and anxious to see if the extra effort had earned me any time. I asked how far ahead the lead was: five minutes with second having only just left. Wow, right back in the mix.
About two miles into the next section, I caught a quick glimpse of a red shirt ahead. Dan. I was actually a little disappointed to see Dan's shirt as I really wanted us to go Colorado one-two, but it was what it was.
Dan hadn't seen me yet, and I was still only getting glimpses until a long straight gentle uphill opened up. Dan dropped to a walk and looked like he was dealing with cramps. He took a quick look back, saw me and immediately started running again, but I was still catching him. As I passed him, I told him to hang in there and not give in as there was still a long way to go and plenty of time to rally.
By the time I came into Cross Roads for the first time on the second loop (48 miles, 6:56), Dan was out of sight behind and I was told that Chikare's lead was down to three minutes. I was really beginning to smell blood now, and it looked like I would have the real estate to get the job done. I was getting pretty tired, but felt like I was working hard enough to close the gap. By the time I got back to Cross Roads (53, 7:46), his lead was down to 90 seconds, Sean Meissner informed me. Surely just a matter of time with nine to 10 miles still to go.
And so it was, on Lucky Hill, the gnarliest and steepest climb of the whole course that I finally got a sight of Chikare's blue singlet. He was working very slowly up the hill, which was all the motivation I needed. This is one of those hills that can be run, but is pointless to do so. I got my hands on my knees, hunched forward and broke out a super-hard power hike. By the top of the climb I was within five meters and Chikare still hadn't seen me, so I decided I needed to pass then and do it decisively on the steep, steep scree drop. By the bottom of the drop I had a solid lead and continued to push on the flats taking a few quick glances over my shoulder with nothing in sight behind.
By the time I hit Last Chance aid (57 miles), I was pretty confident the win was in the bag if I could just keep up a steady pace and continue to run every step of the climbs.
I came through the finish, throwing out a few high fives, in 9:16 for the win, a new course record and a date at The Big Dance in June. Mission well and truly accomplished. Chikare came through four or five minutes later, followed by Dan (who must have rallied) in 9:26. A long, tough, but satisfying day on the trails.
The folks down in the Austin/San Antonio area have a good thing going in their running community, which is just great to see. Super friendly and dedicated folk. The volunteerism at the event was off the charts, and Mr Joe Prusiatis has to be one of the best RDs in the business. A huge thanks to everyone for putting on a first-class event and being out there with enthusiasm in very trying conditions.
Tues - 6 miles easy on Redstone with Amy. 46:30.
Weds - 6 miles easy (1,500') up Horsetooth to Audra turn-off with Eric B. Snowy and cold.
Thurs - 5 miles easy w/Amy on Redstone. Cold, cold, cold. Brrrr. 37:30.
Fri - 0
Sat - 62 miles (6,500') Bandera 100k
Sun - 0 miles.
Total: 85 miles (9,900).
Thursday, January 7, 2010
The race director, Joe Prusaitis, appears to be fully on top of things down in Hill Country Texas and offers a website jammed full of easily accessible and relevant information on the race, the area and all the happenings surrounding the weekend. In addition to the 100k race, there will be 50k and 25k races being held in the Hill Country State Natural Area on Saturday. 50k runners are eligible for MUC points but no WS spots.
Joe has been staying on top of the entrant list with regular updates, so I figured I'd offer a quick pre-race primer on the guys I think will be in the hunt in the 100km event.
While the field doesn't appear to be particularly deep, there are definitely some talented guys who are going to make a serious race of the top five or six spots, and I'm pretty sure that Matt Harrington's 2004 course record (9:25) will go down. If I were a bookie, there would be two guys I'd pick as favorites based on their form at big races across the years.
Probably the most proven guy is Zach Miller who has finished second at the JFK 50 twice, finishing in the low six-hour range. In addition, he ran sixth at Western States last year in an impressive 17:34 and second at the USATF 100k Trail Championship (and WS100 qualifier) in Oregon, coming in 29 minutes behind Erik Skaggs. There'll be no WS-qualification pressure on Zach, so I assume he's heading down to Texas to rack some points for the Ultra Cup.
Chikara Omine has been tearing up the Northern California trail running scene for a few years now, winning numerous events - typically against weaker fields - and finishing well in bigger events. He was third at the American River 50 mile last year (ahead of Tim Parr and a few seconds behind Dave Mackey), and ran an impressive eighth at the North Face Endurance Run a couple of months ago in San Francisco, finishing five minutes ahead of Mackey in 7:22, but 50 minutes off Steidl's blistering course record pace. He was among the favorites going into Western States last year, but I believe he ended up dropping.
I would probably insert myself as the next guy down the list, followed by Colorado Springs resident Dan Vega, who ran second at Leadville the year Matt Carpenter destroyed the course record.
Jamie Cleveland is a former Canadian National Ironman champ and has previously won Ironman Florida. He won the Bandera 50k last year, but seems somewhat unproven over longer distances - a definite wild card.
Glenn Mackie is back defending his title, but I think he'll have to improve on his winning time of 9:53 from last year if he's gonna get the job done this weekend.
I've definitely got my work cut out for a top two, but the nature of the course should slow things down a bit. The short, yet sharp ups and downs, combined with the technical nature of the track will make it more of a strength runner's course than a speedster's, which should play in my favor, and while I don't much enjoy running loose rocky trail, I tend to do well on it.
Sixty-two miles is a long way to run, and typically in these longer races there tend to be some blow-ups among the faster runners, so while I'm not going in as a favorite for the top two spots, it is well within the realms of possibility. I'm fit, confident and ready to race.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Somewhat selfishly, I am primarily interested in breeds that will tolerate daily runs from 8 to 20+ miles. I guess I get a bit lonely on longer runs, and as I'm planning a lot of those this year I figured some dependable company on the trail would be nice. Ideally, I want a dog that is not genetically predisposed to sniffing around and can focus on forward progress. I've run with a number of dogs in the past that have tugged around and become endlessly sidetracked with scents, birds and other animals, which is pretty frustrating when trying to achieve steady forward progress.
Aside from running considerations, the dog needs to have a friendly attitude towards young children, while a smaller breed would be a preference.
After a number of conversations and some research on the interwebs, we have developed something of a shortlist of breeds that include:
So I figured I'd throw this one out there in hopes of some feedback from runners with dogs. Any and all advice is welcome.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Just so we're clear - and I'm sure the fact that I've gone to the bother of keeping track of my run-related costs makes it abundantly clear - I attempt to minimize costs and reduce waste as much as possible, so I'm sure these results are not typical of your average, yet mildly obsessed runner.
A couple of things that helped reduce my costs this year:
- I was fortunate to develop a relationship with the fine folks at Wilderness Running mid way through the season, which helped significantly in reducing my shoe costs.
- Of the 23 races I ran, I received 5 comps from Simon at RunColo, while also gaining a competitive entry into Pikes and winning entry to Jelm Mtn by winning Pilot Hill, meaning that I only had to pay for 15 races (Twin Mtn Trudge was, and remains for 2010, free to all).
- Unless I am traveling to far-flung races with my family, accommodation costs are cut from the equation as I will either camp or sleep in the back of the truck. I could certainly drive a more fuel efficient car, or endeavor to carpool more, so there is money wasted there (not to mention the environmental cost).
- I don't eat gels or any other type of race-fuel product in training, thereby reducing those costs significantly.
- I tend to avoid too much travel, but do enjoy getting out of the state to run every now and then.
- Finally, I am decidedly disinterested in spending money on running gear, gadgets and clothing. The treadmill purchase was my wife's decision (for her use), although I included it as a cost as I have used it a bit. But beyond that gear costs were limited to $100 worth of watch and sunglasses. All my running clothing is either from races, bummed from my wife, found (gloves especially), won or being stretched to the outer limits of raggidiness.
Where'd It All Go?
Race Registrations: $851
Car Miles (gas only): $630
Gear: $398 (Treadmill, sunglasses, watch)
Air miles: $275
Travel Food & Beverages (beer and coffee): $260
Parks Pass: $65
Run Fuel: $50
Race Winnings: ($200)
And for the record:
Dec 4 - Christmas Classic registration - $15
Dec 12 - To race - $5
Dec 17 - To Running Club Social - $5
Dec 18 - Flight to San Antonio for Bandera - $185
Dec 22 - Harrietsham entry - $8
Spending ................ $218
Mileage .................... 331 (20,400')
Spending per mile .. $0.66
Jan ......... $456
Feb ......... $284
March ...... $30
April ........ $318
May ......... $498
June ........ $366
July ......... $106
August .... $178
Sept ........ $50
Oct .......... $407.50
Nov ......... $11
Dec ......... $218
To date .... $2,922.50
Jan ................ 265 (33,000 feet)
Feb ................ 259.5 (40,350 feet)
March ........... 302 (32,050 feet)
April ............. 247.5 (31,300 feet)
May ............... 513 (67,000 feet)
June .............. 268 (46,150 feet)
July ............... 228 (50,650 feet)
August ........... 282 (56,700 feet)
September ..... 309 (39,000 feet)
October .......... 191 (12,500 feet)
November ..... 255.5 (56,700')
December....... 331 (20,400')
Total ............... 3,451 (486,600 feet)
Monthly Ave .. 288 (40,550 feet)
Spending per Mile: $0.85
Tues - 10.5 miles easy, no watch - Blean Woods.
Weds - 5 miles easy, no watch - Blean Woods.
Thurs - 6.5 miles easy, no watch - Blean Woods.
Fri - 13 miles in the slop around Bewl Reservoir with my brother.
Sat - Back to Colorado. Three movies on the plane: September Issue, Funny People, 500 Summers. Funny People was crap, the other two were decent.
Sun - 1.5 miles setting up T&H course (33 runners). 5.5 miles up Horsetooth (1,300').
Total: 42 miles (2,000').
Nice easy week. Probably easier than I would usually do two weeks before a goal race, but with just a two-week taper and lots going on last week, it felt about right. Legs have been feeling decent, if not great, so should be good to go with another week of rest.
Looks like there will be at least three runners in the field at Bandera who would probably expect to beat me, but I'm going in confident and ready to run for the win. More on the competition later in the week.