Sunday, April 24, 2011

Week Ending April 24

Mon - 0 miles. Work and kids all day.

Tues AM: 5.5 miles intervals. Workout was mile, 3(1,200, 1,000). My workout ended after the second 1,200 (for the record: 5:39, 4:00, 3:23, 4:31). Halfway through that second 1,200 rep, I cut a wet grassy corner, lost my feet and skidded straight into a metal sign post. Made impact with my left shin and felt a huge surge of pain. Got up and hobbled back to my car. Upon getting home and cleaning the wound up, I discovered that it was much worse than I had originally thought. I had a huge gash and a puncture wound that offered insight to the inner workings of my lower leg. Pretty nasty. Hopped back in the car for a trip to urgent care. Four stitches later and I felt like a lucky man. Could easily have been a broken bone, but ultimately it was nothing more than a bad gash and some bruising. That's not to say that it didn't hurt like hell. Doc told me to stay off it until at least the next day, which brings me to the second run of the day:
PM: 1 mile. Attempted six on the valley trails, but turned around a half mile in after I finally convinced myself that I was being ridiculous and that this was not a good opportunity to run through pain.

Weds - AM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls long. Woke up early and was relieved to find that my leg looked and felt okay, relatively speaking. Was expecting to see a cricket-ball-sized lump, but the swelling was relatively mild. Heading down the road, I bumped into my new neighbor Mike Enger who was also running into the park. Ran the loop together at a conversational pace.
Noon: 13 miles (2,700'). To Soderberg via 38e/Shoreline, then short loop on valley/Nomad before heading up Towers - Secret Trail - Westridge - Rock - Audra Culver - Southridge - home long. Leg throbbed on the downs, but felt like it was just superficial bruising. Definitely dodged a bullet there.
PM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls long. Second lifetime treble. Yeah, playing catch-up a bit. Felt like my second run of the day used to when I first started doing doubles: creaky.

Thurs - AM: 7 miles (1,600') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg - home long. This run was a disaster. I could barely muster the energy to maintain a running cadence on the uphills and even had to stop at the waterfall steps to gather myself (2 miles in). Felt completely wiped the whole run. Not a good sign for my PR attempt on the hill later in the day.
PM: 10.5 miles (1,900') hard. Towers TT. 30:25. Warmed up with a very easy 3.5 miles on the valley trails to see if my legs were feeling any better than in the morning. They seemed to be okay on the flats, but anything upward facing was still way harder than it should have been. Quads just felt beat. I gave it a go on Towers nonetheless and proceeded to have my arse handed to me. The opening rollers felt okay, but as soon as I got on the steep stuff it was clear that this was not going to be a good day: No power and lots of burn. I pushed out a hard effort anyway, and took what my legs gave me, which was the hardest 30-minute run I've ever had on Towers (2:50 to turn, 8:45 to Stout, 16:43 to Herrington, then pretty much gave up). Not to worry, just one of those days. Sam ran away from me yet again to post an impressive FKT of 28:32. He now officially owns me on Towers. Mrs Malmberg reset the FKT for the women with a 34:16. I'm renaming the hill Malmberg Mountain. They can have it!

Fri - Noon: 10 miles (1,400') easy. Bluesky TH to Arthurs TH + mini Arthurs/Mill Creek loop. Another day, different legs. Felt smooth.
PM: 7 miles (1,600') easy. Soderberg - Spring Creek - Heerington - Stout - SpringCreek - Falls - home long. Legs much better again.

Sat - AM: 16 miles (500') easy
. Ran 12 miles to the start of the Fast and Furriest, then ran a 21:xx with Chester, my neighbor's dog, who slipped his collar four or five times. To the amusement of many, he slipped his collar 100 meters from the off, turned around and ran back to the start. Tried to kick down Celeste in the last 100 meters, but Chester was pretty much done. 1k with Alistair in the kids race afterward.

Sun - AM: 20 miles (2,900') easy. Out with Ryan and Eric for an early morning out and back on Bluesky, picking up three of the four loops (no Wild) and coming home long.

Total: 100 miles (14,600')

Firstly, huge props to teammate Darcy Africa for dismantling (8:25) the female Rim2Rim2Rim FKT in the Big Ditch. Just last weekend Krissy Moehl and Devon C Helms took a few minutes off the record, and then Darcy cruised through and set what looks to be a pretty convincing standard. Great to see the women going toe to toe and getting competitive with these things. Would be great to see Darcy and Krissy running at Western States (as I believe they would like to), but that's a discussion for another day (or an exhausted discussion that needs no further wasted breath).

Secondly, props to Sam and Jenn Malmberg who continue to set the standard on Towers. Both were in action this Thursday, and both reset their PRs (and FKTs). The new standard there is now 28:32 and 34:16 for the men and women respectively. Impressive stuff. Really hoping these guys put together the races I know they are capable of on the Real Big Hill down south in August.

My running week wasn't the best. I started out with a zero on Monday, maimed myself on Tuesday, and then felt the need to play catch-up the rest of the week, which didn't do much but make me tired. Thursday - after a treble on Wednesday - was a disaster. I'm not sure I've ever had such tired legs, but things opened up a bit for me from there as the week progressed. I remember going through something similar last year as the miles took their toll midway through the WS buildup, but then things turned around and after a long taper I was raring to go. Hopefully things will play out the same way this year. Six more weeks of work, then three weeks to get into racing shape.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Week Ending April 17

Mon - Noon: 4.5 miles (700') easy. Falls loop.
PM: 6 miles (500') easy. Valley.

Tues - AM: 10 miles intervals. Small group this week. Workout went: mile, 2 mile, mile, 2 mile. Ran with Scott who was doing the workout at MP in preparation for his shot at a 2:49 marathon on Saturday in Rhode Island. The 6:30s felt way harder than they did on the bike path at American River, but overall my legs were just tired. No niggles really to speak of. Anyway, the digits: 6:29, 12:56, 6:08, 13:10.
PM - 9 miles (1,900') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Loggers - Carey Springs - Towers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg - home long. Legs felt good.

Weds - Noon: 8.5 miles (1,700'). Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Loggers - Carey Springs - Towers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg. Felt great - hardly any residual funk in the legs.
PM: 11.5 miles (2,500'). 38e - Bluesky - Towers - Secret Trail - Westridge - Rock - Audra - Southridge - home long. Felt a little tired toward the end of this one, but certainly no more than in the middle of a big training block. If recovery from Western States goes half as well as this, then I may even be able to race Hardrock.

Thurs - Noon: 6 miles (500') easy. Valley. Slop factor was high after overnight snow.
PM: 8.5 miles easy. Bike paths with small FCTR group.

Fri - Noon: 9 miles (1,900') easy with Aaron. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Loggers - Carey Springs - Towers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg - home long. Legs felt good.
PM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls long.

Sat - PM: 12.5 miles (1,300') steady. Out and back on 38e to '6 mile point,' home long way. 43:20 out (6 miles), 49 back (6.5 miles).

Sun - 13 miles (800') w/Jason O on the Foothills trail and at Pineridge.

Total: 103.5 miles (12,800')

Bounced back well from American River, so was able to get back after it from Tuesday. Dana was out of town all weekend, so I had to front load the week a bit and then scrap for time Saturday and Sunday. Lucky for me, neighbors and friends gave me an hour and a half looking after the kids Saturday and Sunday, so was able to get out and cover some miles. No such luck today (Monday), but that's okay. Zero days are good.

Towers is on this Thursday. For once, I don't have a race two days later so I plan to finally take a stab at reclaiming the title after what seems like a lot of jogging on the hill this year. As always, everyone and anyone is welcome to join the fun beginning at 6:00 pm from the lower Horsetooth parking lot (Soderberg). Times and other stuff from two weeks ago here.

Oh, and it would appear that July 30th has been designated National (well...Local) Towers Day. Yes, '24-hours of Towers: The Run' is on! Details.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

week Ending April 10

Mon - 8.5 miles (800') easy. Bluesky to Arthurs and back.

Tues - 9 miles intervals. Ran with Jane's group on a beautiful spring morning. Workout was 5 x 1 mile on the two hilly City Park routes, with middle three at fartlek (hard/medium) and 3-5 mins between miles. Miles 1, 3 & 5 measured .97, while miles 2 & 4 measured 1.04 (according to GPS watches): 5:22, 5:40, 5:23, 5:38, 5:18 (5:25 - 5:32 pace). After a somewhat disappointing 5k race on Saturday, I made the pledge to push my interval workouts a little harder to see if I can't make sub 5:20 pace a little more sustainable; however, with AR50 upcoming, I decided to slot into my usual interval effort for this week. Next time out I'll try to make good on my pledge (recovery from AR50 and other excuses pending).

Weds - 6 miles (500') easy. Valley.

Thurs - 10 miles (2,000'). Towers. Cruised to a comfortable 33 something ascent.

Fri - 4.5 miles (500') easy. Out and back on last 2 miles of AR course.

Sat - 50 miles (3,500'). AR50. 6:00:09.

Sun - 14 (2,000'). Out and back to Hwy 49 on Western States course from start/finish at Placer High with Ryan, Scott, Andy J-W, Jill Perry and Eric. Out super easy to No Hands Bridge, then picked it up a bit heading up to the Hwy 49 crossing. Back steady w/ Fast Eddie in 58 minutes, which is two minutes faster than I ran it at the tail end of WS last year. Felt like a reasonably hard effort, especially on post-50 mile legs, but certainly a few gears under overdrive. Running it in 60 minutes on 93-mile legs just about killed me last June. Out in 1:13. Really pleased with how good I felt.

Scott, me, Burch, AJW, Eric on the finish line.

Scott put a move on me with 150 to go that I just couldn't cover.

Total: 102 miles (9,300')

Got a little confidence back this weekend at AR after a couple of performances that I felt were a little sub-par. I'll take that and roll it into the next seven week block of mileage before the Western States taper. Probably the biggest thing for me this weekend was feeling so good on Sunday after the hard AR effort. Things were definitely a little creaky getting going, but once Scott and I picked up the pace for the last ten miles, things started feeling good. Good enough even that I was able to engage in a 250-meter kick down with Scott as we got onto the Placer High track. For the record, Scott destroyed me, so I'll have to make sure to break him early in June.

Next seven weeks will be all about mileage and vertical gain/descent, with two faster workouts per week slotted in there as well. Starting to get that tingly goal-race feeling already. Love it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

American River 50

The American River 50 is one of the big spring classics on the North American ultra running circuit, and one that I've had penciled in as a race to do for a year or two now. Having already put in some marathon training through the winter, and knowing that leg speed is important at AR, I figured this year would be as good as any to give it a shot. It would mark my second foray into the Northern California running world and my second race ending in Auburn, the self-proclaimed ‘endurance capital of the world.’

I flew out with
Ryan Burch and Scott Jaime - three-fourths of the Colorado contingent in the men’s race. We had plans to meet up with Dave Mackey, the fourth piece of the Colorado puzzle, on Friday afternoon in Auburn but due to traffic out of Oakland those plans never came to fruition.

After touching down in Sacramento we drove straight to Auburn, checked into our hotel and then geared up for a quick out and back jog from the finish line to the river for a reckie of the closing three miles of the course. Coming back up on the big climb out from the river, I was pleasantly surprised at the generosity of the grade, which seemed a fair bit gentler than I had imagined.

A quick shower and we were off to the pasta dinner and panel discussion that was being MC’d by Andy three-names Wilkins. Andy did a great job hosting the panel and fielding questions from the crowd. His concluding remarks about the simplicity of the task at hand, "all you have to do is run from Sacramento to Auburn," in a world that becomes ever more complicated by the day were well received. This sums up for many of us why we do this sport. Thanks for the reminder Andy!

Race day began with a 3:00 am alarm call, coffee, two glazed donuts, and a bus ride from Auburn to the start on the American River bike trail. Race Director, Julie Fingar, was kind enough to secure an office suite for us to wait out the hour before the race and we enjoyed some good banter with AJW, Lord Balls and his handler, Megan Arbogast (The Queen), and others over coffee. It was a brisk 40 something for the 6:00am start, so I donned a pair of gloves but decided against the arm panties, which was a good call as things would warm up quickly.

AR50 course profile

From the off, two guys went out like they were in a hurry. I quickly caught up to fellow Brit Ian Sharman and we spent some time catching up and discussing the two sprinters. He explained that one, Jady Palko, was up to his usual trick of sprinting off the front and that he would soon taper off. The other guy off the front, B.C.-based Jason Loutitt, however was definitely a contender but moving at a pace that seemed a little suicidal – somewhere in the 5:40-5:50 range, we concluded. Within three miles he was out of sight and by mile eight we were told that he’d already built a three-minute lead.

'Run your own race,' I reminded myself.

While it was nice to catch up with Ian, I had to let him go after a couple of miles as I felt the pace was just a touch too hot and I had promised myself that I wouldn’t get caught up in any of the early madness. According to his GPS watch before I let him go, we were pushing out 6:10s, but I wanted to be closer to 6:30s, which was a pace I found by mile four or five when Joe Uhan got on my shoulder and ran with me for a while.

A key element of running a successful ultra-distance race is understanding your body, assessing the signals and reacting to them before they shut you down. Through the early going, the signals I was getting were that the pace was good, but my right leg was unusually unhappy with me, especially in the groin/hip/gluteus maximus area. Annoyingly, my glute was telling me that it was ready to cramp. Even though I was on a steady diet of EFS Liquid Shot – which has a high concentration of electrolytes – I decided that I would need to supplement on this day with E Caps, so I gobbled three at about mile eight and hoped for the best.

At the mile 8.5 aid station (50:00), Joe stopped to fuel while I went straight through, so I was again running by myself. The sun rising directly to the east was blinding at times, but it was also quite spectacular with the rays cutting peacefully through a nice early morning layer of mist rising from river. As painful as running a marathon on a bike path as a warm up for a 20-mile trail race sounds, the beauty of the river sets a stunning scene which really helped pass the time.

By mile ten I heard footsteps coming up behind. I assumed it was Joe catching back up, but it turned out to be Dave. He eased by quickly and then settled in ten meters or so ahead of me. I took a quick peek back and was happy to see that Scott was equidistant behind me in fifth. We ran like this for a while, before Dave jumped into the bushes for a pit stop. Then at mile 18 (1:51) the course crossed over the river on a big road bridge before ascending sharply on a short stretch of trail onto the bluff above the Nimubs Dam. Dave and Scott both caught up to me as we crossed the bridge and Dave took the initiative on the climb up to the bluff by leading us up the loose, rocky singletrack. The course soon dropped back down and we were again on the bike path. Crossing the bridge, I had a good line of sight on Ian, who was probably 90 seconds ahead in second. Looking back, Jacob Rydman was hanging in sixth a similar distance back.

On the second, longer stretch of rolling singletrack a mile or two later Dave took off on us and looked like he was ready to pull Ian back into the fold. Scott stayed close a few meters back in fifth. After probably two miles on this second stretch of trail we once again found our way back onto a crushed gravel section of the bike path, passing through Negro Barr aid station at 22.6 miles (2:26) and headed for the marathon marker. There was a big balloon deal marking the marathon distance, which popped at just over 2:49 – a little slower than planned but about where I wanted to be.

Soon thereafter we were at Beals Point, the southern end of Lake Folsom, which is where I got my first refill on water (yup, one bottle through the marathon), and then ducked into the bushes for a long-awaited moment of bladder relief. Coming back out of the bushes, I saw that Scott was right there, and then heading out to the dam, I could see that Dave had closed the gap on Ian considerably. So with the marathon in the bag, it was Jason way off the front (he went through the marathon in 2:39), with Ian, Dave, myself and Scott all within a few minutes of each other in second through fifth.

The next section to the 31.5 mile aid station was a mix of crushed gravel, dirt two track and, I think, singletrack. We got our first taste of what was to come through here in terms of underfoot conditions, with some good boggy patches of dirt in the lower-lying sections of trail. At approximately mile 30, the trail gave way to a recreation area and a four-way intersection with no flagging. Bugger. Knowing that Scott wasn’t far behind and that he had run the course before, I decided to wait for him rather than take my chances scouting the four options. Unfortunately, Scott was none the wiser and we ended up picking the wrong option before fortunately being escorted back on course by a lady who thought we should be headed in the other direction and then a guy on a bike who was certain of it. That was a frustrating four- to five-minute waste, but all part of the game. Quite clearly the markings had been pulled down, as they had been exemplary up until this point.

Coming into Granite Bay Aid (31.5). Photo: Bob MacGillivray.

Once back on the scent, Scott and I were soon through the 31.5 mile Granite Bay aid station (3:32) and then tucking into some surprisingly technical (and sloppy) singletrack as we made our way north along the west side of Folsom Lake. I filled up again at the small Buzzard's Cove aid station (34.7, 3:58) and saw that Scott was now out of sight behind. The trail through here continued its rolling theme with jabbing, wet and technical bumps to bop up and down.

By the time I hit Horseshoe Barr aid at mile 38.1 (4:26), I had been solo for a long time. My energy had been good all morning, and while my legs had been feeling 'off' through the first 50k, they were finally feeling a little looser and ready to charge. I got another water refill at Rattlesnake Barr (4:48, 41 mile) where I was told that third was three minutes ahead. This had been my first time check since mile 27, and honestly I was a little disappointed as I felt like I had been moving well for the last few miles. Nonetheless I wasn't ready to throw in the towel, especially with my energy levels still perky, so I got my head down and attacked the
singletrack which had now become significantly less technical, but continued on the rolling theme.

The penultimate two-man aid at Manhattan Bar came quickly (43.9, 5:07), and I started doing the math for the sub-6:00: 6.1 miles & 1,000 feet of climbing in 53 minutes. The guys here told me that third was just one minute off. Game on!

Given that I had closed a couple of minutes in the last three miles, I was expecting to come up on third quickly, however, it wasn't until a final ribbon of
singletrack before the turn up from the river to the finish that I caught sight of Ian, who was now no more than 45 seconds up on me. The opening half-mile section of the last 3 miles of the race is easily the steepest sustained climb on the course, and as I rounded the corner to make the turn, I had a good visual on Ian who had now dropped to a powerhike. As soon as he realized that I was on the hunt, however, he was back running but he again dropped to a hike a minute later as the terrain continued to steepen. I passed the 3 to go sign in 5:38:21 still feeling like I had great energy, so a running cadence was a must.

Up this initial
grunter I halved the gap on Ian, and by the two-to-go sign (5:46:20) and the asphalt I had picked him off and eased into third. I made sure to stay strong as I made the pass and refused to take a look back for at least a half mile, at which point Ian was far enough back that I thought I had a lock on third. I stole another glance two minutes later and to my surprise Ian was motoring, clearly not buried yet. I found another gear to fend off his challenge, and then rounding a bend near the one-to-go sign (5:53:20), I was surprised to see Jason slogging away 100 meters up the road. After running solo for hours, I was all of a sudden in a mad sprint for podium places.

Hurtin' at mile 49 with Ian in hot pursuit behind the fence.

I ratcheted the pain levels into overdrive (why does it always hurt so much coming into Auburn?) and threw down with whatever I had left. With a half mile to go, I had more than halved the gap on Jason and he still hadn't seen me. Then he did the shoulder check and quite clearly sped up. I was still gaining however and on the very last grunt before the short, flat road section into the finish he was within spitting distance. One more shoulder check from Jason and he started sprinting. I was tapped from trying to catch up, so I had to let him go.
I crossed the finish line with a wry smile on my face in 6:00:09 for a closing three miles and 900 feet of gain of 21:48.

Results with splits. You'll no doubt note that Colorado put four in the top six (two from Fort Collins), and the Brits came home with gold in the women's and third and fourth in the men's.

Julie Fingar (RD), Ian, Dave, me & Jason.

Overall I was pretty satisfied with my race, especially the way I closed it out. The bike path miles were a little frustrating as I felt like I was working harder than I should have been at that pace and my legs just felt tight. But on the positive side, this was perhaps my best-fueled race ever. Normally in 50s, I fuel well through 30-35 miles then get lazy. Today, I was sucking down the last of my three EFS Liquid Shot flasks (400 calories each, 200 per hour) at mile 47, which had me feeling great all day.

The post-race shandies went down well and it was a ton of fun catching up with friends for a few hours. After four or five bottles of recovery nectar, it was back to the hotel for a quick shower and then to the Auburn Ale House (with a Double-Double pit stop at In & Out) for hand-pulled IPAs, continued banter and more food with a most enjoyable cast of characters.

A half marathon the next day on the Western States course to Hwy 49 and back rounded out a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

Scott visualizes his June finish.

Eric, Scott, Andy, Jill and Ryan at the WS finish line.

The spot three miles from the finish where I passed Kilian last year. A painful memory.

Cruising out to No Hands Bridge.

No Hands.

Hwy 49 Aid Area

American River.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

American River 50 Thoughts

Headed out to Sacramento, CA tomorrow to go run on a bike path for 30 miles. This will essentially be my first ultra of the year. I know that 50ks are considered ultras, but I really don't think the 50k distance is long enough to truly dig yourself a hole or a trench the way you can in a 50 miler or a 100 miler. And the potential for hole digging looks particularly good at American River.

Just about any advice I have received on running American River begins with the words 'don't go out too fast.' Given this race is in its 32nd year, I'll assume that there is enough combined wisdom to believe those words are probably sage advice. It looks like the front of the pack covered the bike path miles in 6:18-6:25 pace last year, which is 2:45 to 2:50 marathon pace. I think I would be more comfortable in the 6:30 range, but this is a race so we'll see.

Once off the bike path for good, at about mile 30, the race proper begins. For some, the last 20 miles will be about hanging on, but for others it will be about reeling in overzealous marathoners. While the prospect of running hard on the bike path for so many miles is unappealing, to say the least, I am intrigued by the tactical aspect of this race. For the most part in 50 milers, you tend to slot into a rhythm, an effort and try not to die too badly over the last 5 to ten miles. Nearly always, the terrain involves big climbs and big descents but a fairly consistent effort level. At American River, you essentially have a road race followed by a rolling trail race, requiring two different skill sets and two different effort levels.

I feel like I am in decent road shape (for me), so hope to be in contact as we hit the trail, but really have no idea how those last 20 miles are going to play out. I haven't run beyond 35 miles since Wasatch last year, and I have certainly never run 20 miles hard after laying down a 2:45 marathon, so I guess anything could happen - from the sublime to the disastrous. Six hours is a definite time goal, but this one for me is more about the race, so whatever that dictates pace-wise (within reason) is where I'll likely be.

Competition looks good, with some familiar names mixed in with less familiar names. As is typically the case in ultras, a few guys won't be making it to the start line but of those that are fit, the front of the pack will probably look something like this: Jason Loutitt (low-2:20 marathon guy); Dave Mackey (who claims to be undertrained: you've been warned); the Sharminator (who has similar/slightly faster marathon legs than me and the ability to run 100 miles fast on the flats); Jacob Rydman (who is local and just starting to make his mark); Joe Uhan (who ran well at Chuckanut); Erik Skaden (a former winner); Ryan Burch (the 50 mile specialist); AJW (too fast/short for him?); Michael Buchannan (ran with Andy Henshaw in first on the bike path last year, then seemingly bonked hard over the last 20); Senior Jaime (who is secretly a road runner); Matt Hart (might be lost without a pair of skis and skins), Graham Cooper (former WS winner), and others I am sure. Ellie Greenwood and Kami Semick will be mopping up bonking male egos from mile 30 onwards, so watch your backs gentlemen.

See you in Sacramento!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Week Ending April 3

Monday - PM: 14.5 miles (1,400') easy on the Red Rock 'Scenic Highway'. Didn't have much time, so chose to run the road route around the canyon. Still a great run with mind blowing rock structures and strata to check out. Legs were pretty achy towards the end, but held up well enough considering.

Tuesday - PM: 8 miles track. Met up with some folks from the Las Vegas Track Club and Shad from the Saturday Morning Ultra Team (SMUT) at a local high school track and jumped in with them on a 6 x kilo workout. I was able to put in a reasonably solid effort, although definitely some residual stuff still in the legs from Antelope Island: 3:20, 3:19, 3:20, 3:18, 3:16, 3:14. Killer pink fluffy cloud sunset behind the silhouetted Red Rock hills as we worked our way through the session. Felt awesome to be running comfortably in a singlet. The desert has really grown on me these last couple of years, but there's no way I could live in Vegas.

Weds - Noon: 11 miles (500') easy. 1:22. Ran on the Beltway Trail in windy 80 degree weather. The wind kills me out in CO, but in Vegas it's pleasant enough. The bike path, which runs parallel to the 215 Beltway, is not so pleasant however.

Thurs - 12 miles (1,500') easy with Josh on the Grand Circle trail at Red Rock Canyon.

January: 440.5 miles (45,850')
February: 304.5 miles (39,200')
March: 469.5 miles (67,100')

Total: 1,214.5 miles (152,150')
Avg: 405 miles (50,717')

Fri - Off. Driving all day from Vegas to The Fort.

Sat - AM: 10.5 miles. Poudre Rive Run 5k. 3 mile warm up 4+ mile cool down with Pete, Sam and Jenn.
PM: 4.5 miles (800'). Easy cruiser on the Falls loop. Legs felt like bricks.

Sun - AM: 3 miles easy setting up T&H 5k course.
PM: 7.5 miles (1,500'). To the top of Horsetooth to check out the fire situation in Redstone.

Total: 71 miles (5,700')

Things are starting to get a little crazy out here on the bone-dry Front Range. As most people who reside in the Front Range know, the potential for devastating wild fires is huge. There is abundant fuel, which is dry to the core, and the predictions are for another dry spring.

This weekend, it has been the turn of the Loveland/Fort Collins area, with what has been dubbed the 'Crystal (Mountain) Fire,' which is currently 5 percent contained but largely under control thanks to a couple hours of snow in the morning (we got lucky). I checked it out from the top of Horsetooth this afternoon and it looked to me like there was still potential for things to go up again with heavy winds. Last night it exploded from 30 acres to 4,500 acres after sustained 50 mph winds.

It isn't exactly clear what the extent of the burn area is, but the fire started on private property on the south side of Crystal Mountain toward the Dunraven Valley. It seems that last night's winds blew the fire east northeast into Buckhorn Canyon, over Stove Prairie and into Redstone Canyon. From my vantage this afternoon on top of Horsetooth, I could see pockets of smoke coming from areas on the west side of Redstone and large amounts of smoke billowing from Buckhorn. I know these areas well and there will assuredly be property damage. We'll see soon enough what the situation with the Forest land is, but judging from initial reports it seems there'll be significant burn down Buckhorn Canyon east from Crystal Mountain and also on the Dunraven side too, which is a huge bummer. Five or six years ago, Bobcat Ridge went up in flames too. Bobcat is five miles from my house and probably ten miles due south of the current burn area, so clearly the fire risk out here is high. Rain would be nice.

Crystal Mountain to the left, Lookout Mtn to the right (taken last year from Box Prairie/Buckhorn Canyon)

How it looked last night from the Carter Lake area near Loveand.

We got an hour or so of wet snow this morning, which helped the firefighting efforts considerably, but more importantly the wind was light all day. It has picked up here in the last few hours, but nothing crazy like last night. I took some footage from on top of Horsetooth at 6:00ish and there was still a lot of smoke, which means the fire still has potential to grow if the wind starts blowing again. Given that the nearest pockets of fire I could see were no more than four miles from my house, I'm pretty nervous going to bed tonight. However, the county lifted the evacuation order for all areas recently, which leads me to believe that the fire authorities on the scene are a little more confident of the situation than I am.

Vid of the burn areas from Horsetooth summit.

On the running side of things, I took things pretty easy and just ran as and when I felt like it/had time. I had a ton of work to get done while in Vegas, so was happy to run less and relax with the family. Got a couple of trips to Red Rock Canyon in, with a loop on the scenic drive and then a trip around on trail with Josh. Been feeling a bit lethargic for the most part, but hope to be ready to run well at American River. I'll be flying out there on Friday with Burch and Fast Eddie, we'll race on Saturday, and then we hope to run a few miles on the Western States course Sunday morning before our flight. Should be a fun weekend.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Poudre River Run 5k

After a 14-hour drive back from Vegas yesterday, I decided this morning to make up for the zero day by blowing off a bit of steam at the Poudre River Run, a local 5k supporting the Animal House Shelter.

The course was a straight out and back on the Poudre bike path (one 180 cone turn at the half) and the weather was pretty much perfect. Given the course and conditions, I figured I'd have a decent shot at running in the 16:30 range.

John, the race director, had already told me that Mike Chavez, Japheth Ng'ojoy and Mark (Horsecow) Lonac were running -- all guys who should beat me handily in a 5k -- and then warming up on the course, I saw that Sam Malmberg was also there, which was good as he is typically around my pace.

As expected, the race got out fast from the gun, and by the time we were off the Cache La Poudre High School track and on to the bike path there was already a pack of four guys putting a gap on me. Through the first, ever so slightly downhill mile, I was pretty surprised to be keeping Mike and Japheth reasonably close, but even more surprised to have split a 5:10. Through this first five minutes, a couple of the guys in the lead pack came back to me, while Horsecow (who was sporting a nifty pair of cow-print speedos) and another guy I didn't recognize went by. I think I was in fifth at the turn, which I hit in 8:10.

As I was hanging close to Horsecow's bovine cheeks through the second mile, I figured I was holding a decent pace, but splitting a 5:29 I was clearly paying for the hot first mile. The third mile was a process of reminding myself to keep pushing and then forgetting that I was supposed to be pushing before hitting the gas again and then once again forgetting (conveniently) that discomfort was a good thing. I figured I'd split 5:30 again for the third, but alas the slide was bad today and it hit in a sludgy 5:37. With the 35 second final .1, I crossed the line in a disappointing 16:52 for my worst-paced race in quite some time: 5:10, 5:29, 5:37 (8:10, 8:42).

Mike Chavez won easily in 15:20, followed by Japheth 20-30 seconds later, and third (Brooks Cowan) in 16:16. Horsecow, who I assume is out of shape right now, put a few seconds on me towards the end, finishing in 16:41. Pete scored a PR with a solid 18:20 while Jenn Malmberg picked up some cash (later donated to Animal House) for her second place finish. Her husband Sam was a few seconds behind me.

Warmed down with Sam, Jenn and Pete for four additional miles and 10 on the morning/60 on the week. I don't plan on running much tomorrow, so thankfully I've been able to keep a lid on the volume this week as I get ready for American River next weekend. While I didn't run what I wanted today, I was pleased that my legs felt significantly lighter than last weekend. It sill feels like there's some sludge in there, but I'm hopeful that they'll be good and peppy after another lighter week next week.