Sunday, February 28, 2010

Week Ending Feb. 28

Mon - Noon: 7 miles (1,750'). Up and down Towers. Road had been plowed to halfway, and then just as I was getting ready for the second half trudge, a chained 4 wheeler came up and set tracks for me. Great running almost the whole way. Beautiful out.

- PM: 5.5 miles. Bike paths. First double in a while. Super creaky getting started.

Tues - Noon: 7 miles (1,750'). Towers again. Conditions still good for running. Clear with a few slips to Westridge, whereafter it was post-hole time. Wore a watch for the first time in a while to get a baseline for an easy effort up Towers: 42:30 up & 25:30 down. Felt smooth and easy - just where I like it. Just as soon as things melt and firm up, I plan on taking an early season stab at the FKT & getting up in under 30 minutes.

- PM: 6.5 miles (1,200'). Reservoir Ridge with FCTR group.

Weds - Noon: 7 miles (1,750'). Towers. Conditions were slippery and the legs were heavy.

Thurs - noon: 7 miles (1,750'). Towers. Still plenty of snow, but the big melt continues.

Fri - AM: 6 miles (1,200'). In Boulder for PI-Smith team summit (more on that in a later post). Got out in the early morning for a photo shoot and casual trail run with the team and others from the Pearl Izumi office.

Sat - AM: 15 miles (5,600'). It doesn't take much to accumulate vertical in the foothills of Boulder. Everything is pretty steep and with three peaks on the day it racked up pretty quickly. Headed out with the PI team in the early AM and did a route that involved getting up Flagstaff then across to Gregory Canyon and down on Saddle Rock (I think). Then met up with Nick P shortly after at the Chautauqua TH and we re-did Gregory Canyon to the top of Green and then came down the backside to summit the next one along (Bear, I think), before careening down the front side of Bear in pretty treacherous and very slippery conditions.

Bumped into, or spotted, a bunch of Green baggers on the way - Tony K on the first go around, followed by Brandon F, Jeff Valliere and Darcy Africa (PI teammate) on the second trip up. Brandon was screaming down the hill, right near the bottom, and put the skids on to say hi. We checked in with him again near the top of Green as he was topping out on his second lap.

There's some kind of chatter on Brandon's website about a FoCo - Boulder showdown. I'm still waiting patiently for the Boulder folk to find the time in their busy schedules to commit to some races. I'll throw the Horsetooth Trail Half out there (normally early June) as a possible FoCo venue. I hear there is some kind of Basic deal in Boulder that might serve as the Boulder venue - just need that third neutral venue. Longmont got any hills?

Sun - 17 miles (4,300'). Hills at Horsetooth. H'tooth trail - Westridge - Towers up - Towers down - Towers up - Westridge - Southridge. Trails were rutted, icy and crunchy for the most part and somewhat post-holey on Westridge. Towers was mainly good, but icy and sloppy in places. Put in a moderate hard effort on the Towers up and went 34 mins from the gate at Shoreline to the very top. Felt really good today.

Total: 78 miles (19,300').

In a bid to fast-track the fitness, I ramped up the climbing this week and will look for something similar next week. Salida Marathon the week after is a solid 10-11 miles of climbing right off the bat, so I've been looking to get the legs into shape for that as well.

Had a great time in Louisville/Boulder Thurs, Fri & Sat checking in with PI-Smith teammates and the Pearl Izumi headquarters in Louisville. I have to say that I came away from the visit highly impressed with the PI operations, professionalism, creativity and energy, while also being thoroughly impressed with how seriously they take the whole running-team concept, both as a means of promoting their brand and, more importantly, as a means of improving the product they have in the marketplace. Input from the team was encouraged, listened to and taken seriously. While biking is quite obviously the cash cow for the company, they take the running side of the business equally seriously and have made huge strides in recent years in terms of the products they have out there - shoes in particular. From what we saw of the 2011 line things are only getting better.

Team PI-Smith: (l to r) Kody Riley, Darcy Africa, Matt Lonergan, Ashley Nordell, Josh Brimhall, Scott Jaime, Nick Clark, Nick Lewis. Photo, Aric Manning (Team manager).

Calf has felt close to 100% all week, although an old and nagging (but manageable) groin issue has been making its voice heard with the extra vertical. That's a trade off I'm more than happy to accept.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Week Ending Feb. 21

Mon - 5.5 miles (1,000'). Soderburg/Falls. Leg still nagging on the hills. Ho hum.

Tues - 6 miles (500'). Soderburg TH to Arthurs and back. Wow, major slop on the valley trails. Leg felt okay, but still gimped up a bit after four or five miles.

Weds - 8 miles (2,000'). Horsetooth/Audra. First time in over two weeks that I've been able to get up Horsetooth. Pain from yesterday's run was negligible by dinner time, which had me thinking good things about today's run. Woke up with no pain so was raring to go come noon (my standard midweek run time). With nothing but a dull pain in the calf for most of the run, I was actually able to enjoy being outside rather than being entirely preoccupied with the signals coming from my right calf. To cap it all off, I felt reasonably fit, at least fitter than I've felt gimping around the last couple of weeks. Salida is looking increasingly likely, and I may even be able to give Burch and Pedatella a run for their money - if not Parr.

Thurs - 8 miles (2,000'). As yesterday. Same dull pain there. The cold, snow and wind made me feel like I was getting serious about training again.

Fri - 6 miles easy. Bike paths.

Sat - 8 miles. Two-mile warm-up, then 5k, followed by 5k warm-down.

Sun - 10 miles (2,200'). Soderburg - Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Towers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Wathan - Horsetooth - Soderburg. Enough with the snow already. Had originally planned on running long with Nick P today but considering the conditions we postponed (again) for a future weekend. Spent the morning at home getting stuff done and watching the relentless snow dump. Couldn't face the mill, so finally made the call in the early afternoon to get out and do what I could at Horsetooth.

A gray weekend in Fort Collins

Got into some good snowshoe tracks on the Falls/Spring Creek trails, but they mysteriously disappeared halfway around on Stout, so I was forced to break trail in shin to knee deep powder to Towers.

Plenty of traffic through on the Falls trail

Got off 'trail' a couple of times and ended up thigh to waist deep in places. Towers had seen some decent traffic, so things were far improved up to Herrington where it was back to the deep stuff through to Spring Creek. I was surprised to see snowshoe tracks heading up to Horsetooth on Wathan, so I got into those and hoofed it up that way.

Horsetooth from the top of Wathan

I was out for more than two hours and covered a measly 10 miles (if that). Just can't catch a break with the snow. We get close to good trail and then another big dump. This stuff will be here for at least two weeks I'm guessing, then we'll go through crusty ice, sloppy mud and another dump I'm sure. I am well and truly ready for spring.

Total: 51.5 miles (7,700').

Good to get back above 50 miles. While the calf is still noticeable at times, I feel like I'm ready to restart the mileage buildup. The challenge right now is to find somewhere to run. It's looking like roads for the next couple of days.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Run for the John 5k

I wasn't sure if running a 5k today was a particularly good idea given my recent calf issues, but I wanted to get out and at least try and get a read on my current fitness. I figured if things didn't feel right with the calf then I would just run easy.

Got to the race venue a half hour before the start and jogged around a bit to see how the leg was feeling. It felt pretty good - a dull throb, nothing more - so I figured I would go out easy from the start and assess from there.

The conditions were not good with snow coming down, dusting over patches of crusty ice which was particularly prevalent on the many turns. There can't have been more than 100 runners assembled at the start, so I wasn't expecting much competition, although Mr. RunColo had made the trip up from Denver to keep me honest.

A guy in a 2007 Barr Trail T-shirt set the pace from the off and I sat 10 meters back through the first mile or so. There was barely any strain in my calf at the up-tempo pace, so I decided to push a bit harder somewhere towards the end of the first mile, taking the lead and then sitting on a comfortable pace for the remainder. The lead bike broke his chain at about the two-mile point leaving me to lead the train. Fortunately the course was sufficiently marked and marshaled that I was able to follow it. Until, the last .1 that is.

I had presumed when I rounded the last corner back into the Moby Arena parking lot that the finish line would be in the same location as the start line, but the finish line was nowhere to be seen, so I took a detour into the first line of parked cars looking for it. Seeing nothing, I detoured back and then saw the race director frantically waving at me to keep going to make another turn, around which the finish line was hiding. I crossed (breaking the toilet paper finish line) in 18:08 with Simon a few seconds back in second. The effort was about where I had wanted it to be given the conditions, my leg and current fitness. I didn't wear a watch, so didn't get splits, but it felt like I was getting progressively faster as the race went on.

Check out the blistering finish:

Run for the John 5k Finish 2010 - Ft. Collins, Colorado from RunColo on Vimeo.

Quite comically, the 18:08 is good enough to keep my 2010 winning streak alive, extending the record to four. However, I'm pretty sure the streak will end next month in Salida when I go up against Ryan B, Timmy P and Nick P, among others. But that's all fine, as the only real goal in Salida is to beat Brownie by more than last year (26 minutes), thereby securing a 12 pack of some local delight.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Week Ending Feb.14

Mon - 1 mile. To mail boxes and back. Leg felt pretty good during the day, so wanted to get out and stress it a bit on a run - actually, just wanted to get out and run, so indulged myself with a mile. Felt okay, but certainly would have been a mistake to take it any further. Slowly, slowly.

Tues - 2.5 miles to bench in park and back. Felt decent for the most part.

Weds - 5 miles (800'). Two or three miles into this run things felt pretty strained, but got around without limping too much. Sore afterwards for most of the day.

Thurs - 5 miles (800'). Woke up with next to no pain from yesterday, which was very encouraging. Beginning to think that I might be able to run through this thing, but I'm going to have to be very cautious. Strapped heavily today and I think things felt better than yesterday, although similarly strained through the last mile and a half. A proper run is still out of the question with the way things feel. Hopefully another incremental improvement tomorrow.

Fri - 8 miles easy. Leg was pretty painful after the run yesterday and I was certain I wouldn't run today, but as seems to be the pattern with this injury, I woke up with very little pain and so talked myself into running - but no hills. Ran on the Spring Creek bike path in town, and for the most part felt pretty good. Pain is still there in the calf but it seems to be manageable. Hills still hurt a lot, so the current plan is to stay on the flat and easy to maintain some degree of fitness until the pain is (hopefully) gone and I can get back in the hills.

Sat - 3 miles easy w/Justin M as a cool down after his 5k in town.

Sun - 10.5 miles on Spring Creek bike path. 1:09. This felt like my first proper run in quite some time. Leg felt close to perfect in the morning, so got into town with a 10 miler in mind. Started out at a comfortable pace for the first few miles with no undue pain in the calf (although when your mind is as focused on one area of your body as mine was during this run, it's always hard to really tell). Decided to pick it up on the back half of the run to really test the leg. Definitely felt it coming back, especially through the last two miles, but decided to keep pushing the mid to low 6s as it felt good and, well, I guess jogging around on bike paths all week was getting a bit tedious. Post-run, the pain is definitely less than after the easy 8 I did on Friday, but it is also pain, which I need to pay attention to. Anyway, I am beginning to feel quietly confident that if I can avoid getting too carried away too soon that this bout of injury/gimpiness will be nipped in the bud by the end of next week.

Total: 34 miles (1,600')

Another low-mileage week, but that is fine. Fitness felt good, if not great, on the 10 miler today, so when I'm able to fully tuck back into some serious training, I'm confident that I won't be totally out of shape. Hills are definitely still an issue with the calf, so I'll have to stay on the flat again next week, but hopefully I'll be ready to get back into my usual routine at Horsetooth soon after that. Still hoping to run Salida next month, although I'll have no problem dropping the race if I don't think the leg is up to it.

Kind of happy I didn't go out to Moab in the end as I got a ton of backlogged project stuff done around the house, including the fireplace tiling project that had been on hold for a good four to five months.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bits and Bobs

Although I'm not running the Red Hot 50k this weekend, I did do a little prediction write-up for RunColo based on the current entrant list. You can view it here. I've also done a couple of local trail reviews over there, which are available here, if you feel like checking those out.

I've been back and forth on whether or not to run Red Hot the last couple of weeks, even thinking about dropping down to the 33k event. As it turned out, the decision was an easy one after two failed attempts to run last week.

Got out for a mile to the mailbox and back yesterday. Felt some residual soreness, and am hoping it was just that rather than continued nastiness. I'm planning a 2.5-mile run with a bit of climb for today, which is a distance that should offer some good feedback. If all goes well with that, then hopefully I can slowly build back up to some kind of training volume.

My good friend Ryan Burch, who recently abandoned Fort Collins to relocate to Gunnison and the big mountains has joined the ultra-blogosphere. You can check out his site out at

Me and Ryan on Crossier Mtn last summer

I took another look at the Wasatch start list this morning and noticed that Karl Meltzer had snuck onto the roster. Karl schooled me pretty good at my first 100-mile adventure in the Bighorns last year, so I'm hoping I can keep him a little closer come Wasatch. It's a tough ask considering he could probably run the race blindfolded - he's won it numerous times and it's essentially in his backyard - but it offers up a good challenge. Other guys that look like they'll be in the running include 23-year-old geophysics-doctoral candidate, come endurance-stud Nick Pedatella (not an overachiever at all ;-)), Matt Hart, Kevin Shilling, Jared Campbell, Luke Nelson, Erik Storheim, Brian Becksted, and others I'm sure, so it actually looks like it could be a pretty good race if a majority get to the start line. But that's a long way off.

Um, the Weather Gods appear determined to keep the trails iced and snowy for the duration this winter. While the inch count wasn't that high, it did snow for close to two days Sunday through late Monday afternoon. Some people dig snow-packed, icy trails - not me. Maybe it'll all have melted off by the time I'm ready to post some trail mileage. Weather forecast says sun and 40s for the next 10 days, so good chance we'll be back to 80% dirt by the weekend. Just in time for a solid dirt outing, I hope.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Week Ending Feb 7

Mon - 8.5 miles (2,100')/ Hoorsetooth/Audra+.

Tues - 8 miles (2,000'). Horsetooth/Audra. To top of Horsetooth with Fast Ed. Calf issues on the way down. Could barely walk in the evening. Iced, wrapped and elevated all evening.

Weds - Off

Thurs - Off

Fri - 4.5 miles (800'). Soderburg to Spring Creek and around with Amy. Leg felt decent the morning of, but the pain was immediately there ten meters into the run. Should have bagged it there and then, but kept going - mainly to keep Amy company.

Sat - Off

Sun - 4.5 miles setting up T&H 10k course. Leg pain was significantly there after a mile or so. Hurt most the rest of the day.

Total: 25.5 miles (4,900').

Frustrating week. Leg obviously needs more time, so another light week ahead. Red Hot is 100% not happening next weekend, so the goal right now is to get healthy for Salida in March and then to hopefully log a good run at Fruita in April.

Although it's hard to get excited about running and future races when you can't get out and run, my race schedule firmed up significantly after this weekend's lotteries. Simply put, Wasatch is on for September and Hardrock will have to wait for another year, which means I'll probably head out to Salt Lake City at the end of July to run Karl's Speedgoat race. Fine by me.

Not sure how they do the Wasatch start list, but if the current list now online is the final list then the race looks to be wide open for a handful of guys, myself included. Of course, if past winners can add their names at any time (Roes, Meltzer) then it could be a completely different story.

Anyway, the goal right now is to get healthy and then hopefully move towards some kind of consistency within the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sweet Sunnies for You, a Layoff for Me

If you're in need of some great sunnies for the upcoming season, then the fine folks at Smith Optics are in a giving mood. All you need do is head on over to the Team Pearl Izumi-Smith site and wax lyrical for a few lines.

I'm a big fan of the Pivlock V90s

Continuing with the PI-S theme, I had the pleasure of taking teammate and Phoenix Marathon masters champ, Scott Jaime out for a quick trip up Horsetooth last night. Scott was in town flogging pharmaceuticals to the local medical community, and like the dedicated trail runner he is he found time in his busy workday to pound some dirt and hills for an hour or so.

On a not so positive note, somewhere in this run something gave in my lower right leg. There's been a dull pain there for a couple of days, which I assumed was achilles related, and that flared to something a little more concerning on the way down the mountain yesterday. I've definitely been compensating for my foot the last week or so, and finally when the foot issue seemed to be resolved, the compensatory effects appear to have taken hold. Anyway, pretty sure it's some kind of tear in the lower calf, and not tendon related, which according to my internet sleuthing should be at least a week to FULLY heal. The key here is to have patience - which for me (and most runners) is easier said than done. So I guess the plan now is to properly rest the lower right leg so I'm not out running a modified stride and transplanting the stress elsewhere up or down the body.

The problem for me, however, is my seeming addiction to racing and the upcoming Moab race weekend in a week and a half, which looks like it will be fun on a number of different levels. Not only does the event take place in an insanely beautiful part of the country, but it is also shaping up to be a competitive one: Ryan B, Karl. M, John Anderson, Tim Wagonner, Jared Campbell, Ty Draney and more I'm sure.

In addition, there are a bunch of people attending who I was looking forward to either meeting or just plain catching up with. The trail running community is a funny one and races are as much event as they are an opportunity to catch up with friends that you may only see once or twice a year. So it's a tough call, but I know for sure the sensible way to approach this, and it's just a case of drumming that into my thick skull until it sticks. Writing this little rant is part of that process.

Sorry about the whine, and enough about me and my woes. Get yourself over to the PI-S website and have a go at winning some cool gear!