Monday, March 29, 2010

Week Ending March 28 (WS - 12 weeks)

Mon - Noon: 9 miles (2,200'). 1:24. Horsetooth/Audra/Southridge. Trails were pretty sloppy and slushy, but I timed a few splits for kicks at what was an easy/steady effort: home to HTH start (6:49), to Soderburg bench (5:20), to Falls/Spring Creek stairs (8:32), to Soderburg end (7:17), to Horsetooth trail (3:57), to Wathan (12:58), to Audra (3:11), to Southridge on Audra (5:06), to Southridge/hiking trail intersection (top) and down to Hiking trail/Soderburg intersection (13:57), to end of Overhill (8:05), home the long way (9:00).

PM: 7 miles (1,800'). 4:06 to Towers, 7:32 (11:39) to Stout, 9:30 (21:09) to upper Herrington, 9:59 (31:09) to Mill Creek, 5:38 (36:47) to top, 25:18 (1:02) down. Put in a slightly harder effort than normal on Towers and pushed a bit in the second half. The track was a mess of mud, snow and slop in places, but overall not bad. Looking forward to pushing out an FKT attempt when it all firms up, maybe next week. Six to seven minutes off today's effort seems like it would hurt, but it'll be a good read on speed and fitness. I feel kind of slow right now with all the miles and climbing, so I'm looking forward to sharpening the load when the trails dry after the incoming round of snain. Got a sweet 4-mile Towers loop picked out with a 1.5 mile (900') climb to Herrington and then 2.5 mile loop around and down on Sawmill/Valley. Five climb intervals for a 20-mile outing and approx 5k climbing.

Tues - Noon: 9 miles (2,200'). Trails still pretty slushy. Got going at the start of what would turn out to be a pretty big storm. By the time I started thinking about a second run, there was already a good six to seven inches on the ground and I quickly decided better of it.

Weds - Noon: 12 miles (1,000'). Milner, 6 steady on redstone. Long way home.
PM: 6 miles steady on bike paths.

Thurs - Noon: 4.5 miles (700'). Mini Falls Loop. Horsetooth Falls were running strong after the heavy snow two days ago, I on the other hand was not. Legs super heavy to the point that I bagged a planned trip up Horsetooth in favor of a little rest with this weekend's 50k in mind.

PM: 7 miles easy on the bike paths with members of the Fort Collins Trail Runners.

Fri - Noon: 6.5 miles (1,500'). Easy trip up Horsetooth. Felt decent. Still way drifty up high and slushy everywhere else.

Sat - AM: 32.5 miles (4,000'). Antelope Island 50k.

Sun - AM: 4 miles on random desert trails.
PM: 3 miles on random desert trails.

Total: 100.5 (13,500')

Another solid week.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Antelope Island 50k

I put this one on the calendar a couple of weeks ago after doing a bit of research for a road trip out to Las Vegas that we had planned for Dana's spring break. After checking out the local racing calendar in Vegas, and coming up short - with the exception of an expensive and uncompetitive 50k - I figured I'd give the Salt Lake City area a look for Saturday events, and came up trumps with the Buffalo run.

We pulled into Ogden, just north of Salt Lake City, some time after 11:00 pm after a good six hours on the road (and beating the Google Maps' prediction by 45 mins). Stayed at an inexpensive, but very clean, Days Inn which was as close to the island as we could get without sleeping in a tent by the start.

Woke up to the sound of the hotel wake-up call after a solid, but short sleep. Scoffed a couple of glazed donuts, accompanied by some nasty cheap-hotel coffee before leaving for the island a little later than planned, which left me being rushed to get ready once we were parked up. Just as Jim Skaggs, the race director, told us we had two minutes until the start, I noticed a timing chip on someone's shoe, and then just as quickly realized that I didn't have one on my shoe. Bugger. I sprinted to the car and fumbled around with the chip - doing a really crap job of putting it on - and sprinted back to the start just in time to hear the 'go' command, essentially getting a rolling start. My chip was flapping annoyingly on my shoe - and would continue to do so for the next 32.5 miles. I also soon realized that my shoes were still tied in casual mode - not 'race-tied' - so there was a bit of slippage going on. Not an ideal start, but at least I was there.

As with every race on the road to Western States, this was a no-taper affair, and I could feel the extra weight in my legs as we climbed through the first two to three miles (600-700') of the course. About two miles into the race, we came across a herd of buffalo, two of whom had broken into a full-on charge in our general direction, crossing the trail ten meters ahead of us in pursuit of fleeing antelope. Wha?

By the time we cleared the Buffalo, it was beginning to look like it was going to be a two-man race. I initiated a conversation with my running partner, and learned that he was a former Weber State University miler, who was training for his first road marathon. I already knew he had good leg speed after struggling to keep contact through the opening mile or two, but with the additional info on his lack of endurance experience, I figured that he'd probably be struggling late in the game.

We went through the first five miles in 35 minutes, clicking off some sub-six stuff on the downhill connector between the two loops. By the time we hit the bottom of the second loop of the figure-eight course, at the base of a 700' switchbacked climb, a third runner in red had joined us. By the top of the climb, he was a couple of switchbacks adrift and we didn't see him again.

Coming back to the start/finish/turnaround on the back side of the first loop, I was beginning to gap the guy in second and by the time I hit the spur back to the start/finish, I had maybe a half minute. I decided to stop and answer nature's call, however, as I was unsure if we were supposed to hit the spur back to the start or continue the loop onto the second lap of the course. Turns out we had to do the spur. The two of us completed the first 16.3 miles a few seconds apart in 1:52.

Heading back out on the second loop, it looked like we had a good eight to 10 minutes on the next two or three runners. I was still feeling plenty strong, so knew they wouldn't be a factor. Half way through the opening climb, I heard the whooping and hollering of the 25k start, figuring that there would be a couple of guys in that field who might be chasing us down.

After the climb back out, I had put 20-30 seconds on second (after struggling to keep pace on the first loop), so figured he was starting to bonk a bit. As the trail flattened out, I put my head down and pushed a little harder to see of I could break my competition and get a lock on the race. A couple of miles later, it looked like the race was in the bag, as I had a good three- to four-minute lead and still felt like I had plenty left in the tank. The focus now was Brad Mitchell's 3:49 course record.

I knew that Brad was running the 25k, and was interested to see if he would catch me before the finish. By the time I was nearing the top of the switchbacks on the second loop of the figure eight, I could see Brad in his yellow La Sportiva top and another guy starting up on the second part of the climb, so maybe five minutes back with eight or so miles to go. Good stuff.

This was enough motivation to help me keep the accelerator depressed, but I could see the two of them were closing on me every time I got a visual. By the marathon-distance aid station, it looked like I had maybe two minutes. I knew the long uphill connector was coming, and figured by the top of that two-mile section they'd probably have me reeled in. As it turned out, I was able to maintain a bit of a gap, and as I made the 90 degree turn toward the backside of the final loop, it looked like I had 20-30 meters on the two 25k-ers who were still running in lock-step.

I took an internal assessment here, and decided that I would jump into the 25k race to see if I could maintain the lead and take a stab at the 50k CR in the process. Digging deep, I was surprised to find the gear I was looking for and was able to pick up the pace enough to maintain my lead. By the spur, and last three quarters of a mile of downhill, I took a quick look over my shoulder and realized that I'd actually increased my lead a bit. I took a look at my watch and saw that I also had a shot at the course record. I put my head down and let it go, finishing up in 3:48, just one minute ahead of Brad's CR from two years ago, and probably 30 seconds ahead of the 25k race. Kind of funny that Brad was the motivating factor in pushing me to take down his own course record.

Closing it out

So anyway, when it was all said and done, I felt like I finished the race feeling strong and in control. I was able to dig deep late in the race and find gears and energy that last year would not have been there. There's no better feeling in endurance running than digging deep late in a race and finding reserves. I'm really starting to believe that if I can stay healthy over the next couple of months, I have the potential to be a threat in late June.

Okay, you can stop laughing now.

I plan to put in a mini one-week taper for Fruita next month, so I can go in feeling rested and ready to race and get a true read on my form versus last year. In Fruita last year I crumbled over the last five or six miles; this year I'm hoping to find a similar gear to the one I found yesterday, and I'll need it if I'm gonna give Duncan, Ryan and Dakota a race for their money.

Finally, a note on Antelope Island and the Buffalo run. The course was definitely tougher than I was expecting on the climbing front, but the track was very runnable, which allows for good predictable footing. The views of the Wasatch Mountains across the Great Salt Lake are breathtaking, and to run with the Buffalo is a truly unique experience. Jim Skaggs does a great job managing the race, and I do believe a good time was had by all. Highly recommended on all fronts.

I'll clean this post up and add some photos when I get a chance, but right now I'm off to post some recovery miles at Red Rock Canyon, before a session in the pool with Alistair and then some food, beers and gamblin' this evening. Ah, vacation.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week Ending March 21 (WS minus 13 weeks)

Mon - Noon: 8.5 miles (2,100'). Horsetooth/Audra.
PM - 7 miles (1,750'). Towers. Nice and easy.

Tues - Noon: 10.5 miles (2,600'). Falls add-on to normal Horsetooth/Audra route. Nice out - like 60 degrees nice. Trails were packed with kids and parents on spring break.

Weds - Noon: 9 miles (2,200'). 1:26. Horsetooth/Audra + extra on Southridge. Wow, tired legs. Slooow. Trails packed again.
PM - 7.5 miles (1,800'). To end of the road on Towers after finishing out FKT route in 39:20, down in a relaxed 26. Easy zoned-out effort. Legs felt better than earlier in the day, but it's always easier to climb on a dirt road than it is on trail - no concentration required.

Thurs - 12 miles (2,900'). 1:57. As yesterday noon, with Westridge/Towers loop add-on via the 'secret trail'.
PM- 6.5 miles easy w/ FCTR around Pineridge and then back to Alex M.'s for burgers and brews. Good times.

Fri - 11.5 (800'). 1:35. 6 miles on Redstone w/Miler loop added on. One last kick in the nuts from old man winter. Cold, miserable run in blowing hail/snow. Ughh.

Sat - 27 miles easy (1,200'). 3:42. Tour de Fort Collins with Alex, Pete & Mike. We had planned a double loop of Bobcat, but the snow dump from Friday scuppered that idea. As a backup, we met at Pete's and then headed up behind the stadium and ran the Horsetooth Half course and then continued on the Poudre trail to Spring Creek and took that all the way west to Cottonwood Glen and back to Pete's. First time I've run the whole Poudre/Spring Creek urban trail system in one go. Makes for a sweet long run with Centennial completing the loop. Very cold to begin with but beautiful once the sun was up. Legs solid the whole way round. Wanted some climb miles in the PM, but window of op. never appeared.

Sun - 17.5 miles (4,300'). 2:50. Triple Horsetooth to Audra: Service drive/Southridge/Audra (27:30), down on Southridge (18:51); up on hiking trail (28:22), down on Audra/Southridge/service drive (19:46); up on service drive/Southridge (28:28), down on hiking trail, then back via Spring Creek/Falls. Conditions were wet and slushy, but could definitely have been worse. A pretty easy effort all around, but I was still pleased with how good the legs felt on the first two laps after the long run Saturday. The third climb was something of a grind, especially starting out, but I got it done.

Total: 117 (19,600')

The mileage load feels like it is starting to pay off. Had a solid weekend and really didn't feel tired or fatigued on or after either run, which is a great sign that the legs are setting up well for some longer races. Looking forward to putting that to the test in April at the Fruita 50.

In the meantime, I'll be running the Antelope Island 50k out near Salt Lake City next weekend as a pit stop on our family spring break road trip out to Las Vegas where I hope to rack up a huge stack of chips and a solid week of faster miles out on the desert trails. We're staying with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and her kids - so babysitters a plenty and no excuses (except for the free beer). Hoping for some hot weather so I can get some good heat training in too.

Anyway, I don't recognize too many names on the 50k start list, but Brad Mitchel put up a 3:49 CR last year so I'll be gunning for that, if nothing else. The more interesting race is the 50 miler where Scott Jaime and Ryan Burch will be battling it out. Too close to call, although recent race results have the bookies putting Jaime in as a slight favorite.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Week Ending March 14 (WS minus 14 weeks)

Mon - 9.5 miles easy (600'). To Rim Rock on Blue Sky Trail from Soderburg.

Tues - Noon: 10.5 miles easy (800'). To Indian Summer on Blue Sky Trail. Legs felt like bricks.

PM - 7 miles (1,200') with Pete & Alex. Reservoir Ridge.

Weds - 11 miles (1,000'). 1:31. Blue Sky + Indian Summer from Fisherman's. Legs were bricks again. Felt better the faster I went, but generally just tired.

Thurs - Noon: 11 miles (1,000'). Same as yesterday. Legs fresher but still heavy.
PM - 5.5 miles (500'). Milner loop steady.

Fri - Noon: 8.5 miles (800'). To Indian Summer on Blue Sky from Fisherman's.

Sat - AM: 26 miles. (3,900'). Salida Marathon. 3:19.

Sun - Noon - 11 miles (1,000'). Blue Sky/Indian Summer. Legs were a little creaky to start, but felt great once warmed up.

Total: 100 miles (10,800').

Another solid week, with a strong race sandwiched in there. Back into the hills next week.

So there have been a few obsessive-compulsive admissions of late in the Colorado-running blogosphere. Anton confesses that he thinks about running. A lot. George comes out and follows suit a couple days later. And while I'm not about to pen a long post confessing to my running obsessions, I had a good laugh (to myself) thinking about those posts as I was listening to Lou Reed's portrayal of life under the shackles of a heroin addiction.

The "coming-up" sequences in Heroin are not only great background music for a mini, one-song fartlek session, but also a stark reminder that we all face our demons, addictions and obsessions. Some just happen to be a little healthier than others.

Hi my name's Nick and I have a running obsession.

Also check out Andy Henshaw's CR finish from the Psycho WyCo Run Toto 50k this year. Love it:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Salida Marathon 2010

Holding a March trail marathon in the mountains has to be considered something of a craps shoot with regards to conditions underfoot. Last year we got lucky and had perfect conditions on a perfect day. This year, we were told to expect this on the back half of the course:

On the drive out Friday night with Nick, Mike and Caroline, I was trying to make sure I was clear on all the bets I had riding on the race: first race of a five-race series against Ryan, one of three against Nick, and beat Brownie by more than 26 minutes for a 12-pack of beer. Okay, think I got it.

Didn't get a great night's sleep in the bunk room at the Simple Hostel in Salida, but woke up feeling decently motivated to get out and run some hard mountain miles, especially as the sun was up and it was looking like we were in for a perfect morning.

Chillaxin pre-race (photo: Caroline Soong)

From the off by the railroad tracks it seemed like 10-15 people shot out ahead of me. As there were three races taking off at the same time - 2 mile, half and full - I wasn't unduly concerned about the situation. As things settled out through the first mile or two, it appeared that one guy had taken a flier (Michael Trahan - half winner), with John Tribia in pursuit (second in half), closely followed by Timmy Parr, a couple of other guys and two women, one of whom looked like Mount Washington winner Brandy Erholtz.

The first ten-mile section of the Salida course is essentially a steady 2,000 foot climb on a dirt road. It offers the best running of the whole race, with no major grunts in grade, allowing for an honest and even pace. The half marathoners go 6.5 miles up the road and then turn around to head back down, while the marathoners head out to the ghost town of Turret where they turn around to retrace their steps to mile 18, before hitting some gnarly jeep track back into town. Total elevation gain is in the 3,500' range.

After about four miles, I was sitting in sixth place between the two races, catching slowly up to Brandy who was leading the women's race over Kim Dobson who looked to be having a good run.

By the 6.5-mile half marathon turnaround, I had eased past Brandy and two of the guys in front of me made the turn, leaving Timmy Parr and an unidentified runner ahead of me in the marathon race. Timmy had two to three minutes on me, and the guy in second had maybe 20 meters. Dan Vega was sitting on my shoulder as he had been from gun.

From here on in, the conditions underfoot deteriorated significantly. The road started to get sloppy at mile seven and by the time we hit the Turret road (8 miles) at 9,000' or so, we were dealing with a mix of mud, ice and snow. The trip out to Turret was as long and drawn out as I remembered it from last year, and at the 12-mile turn (1:30) I was about five minutes back on Timmy, a half step ahead of Dan, maybe 20 seconds ahead of the guy who had been in second on the climb (Andy Henshaw), and two to three minutes up on a hard-charging Ryan.

It felt like Dan and I kept a strong effort going on the way back out of Turret, which is where I started falling apart last year, and by the turn back onto the county road (16 miles), Dan was sitting right where he'd been all morning - on my shoulder - with Andy still hanging 20-30 seconds back in fourth. Timmy was out of sight in first.

It was beginning to look like we had a race brewing for second.

I upped the tempo on the mile or so of downhill to the turn onto the trail section of the course, but couldn't lose Dan. We hit the last aid station at the 17.8-mile turn and I got a quick fill of Gatorade, purposefully slowing to let Dan set the pace for a while. Things slowed so I figured he was breaking a bit. I was content, however, to sit back and regather.

Andy got back in the mix here, which was my cue to go by Dan and start working again. I held off Andy for a bit, but I could tell he wanted to pass. Problem was we were stuck running in narrow jeep tracks with deep snow on either side. By the time Andy found a spot to get by, Dan had fallen off the pace and it looked like we were down to a two-man race for second.

Like Dan, Andy slowed soon after he passed me on a climb, so I was able to keep comfortable contact. Internally, things seemed to be firing pretty well - the legs had been feeling heavy all morning but were getting the job done, the breathing seemed good and the workload still manageable. The snowy/icy/muddy track was a real grind however. Andy and I switched on and off in the lead through the rollers in the next two to three miles, between what were probably miles 19 to 22. We both put in mini surges here and there, but neither one of us seemed able to create a gap of any significance. This one looked like it might go down to the wire.

I knew my best chance to create some separation would be on the mile or two of steep descent back into town, and I did manage to get something of a gap on Andy here. However, when we finally got off the snow and back onto dirt, maybe two miles from the finish, I had no more than a five second lead. Andy was quickly on my shoulder saying something about 'third' being 300 meters back (he had actually said Burch).

I upped the tempo and we went stride for stride for a while as the grade mellowed out, but I could tell Andy had a bit more in the tank, so with about half a mile to go Andy got some separation and I let him go.

Coming back down to the railroad tracks I took a glance over my shoulder and saw Ryan for the first time since the turnaround. He was out of real estate however, so I was able to finish out the last few hundred meters at a comfortable pace.

I ended up finishing five minutes faster than last year in 3:19, six minutes behind Timmy (3:13), just under a minute behind Andy, and 40 seconds or so ahead of Ryan. Dan ended up about ten minutes back on me, Keri Nelson maybe 20 back for first in the women's race and Nick P a minute behind Keri in seventh.

Brownie finished 35 minutes after me and I immediately put in an order for Guinness.

3 (Nick), 1 (Timmy), 2 (Andy)
Muddy day
Thanks for the Brewskies Brownie and for bringing home my Bandera hardware.

Picking up my third-place award (this & next photo: Caroline Soong)

Showing it off, while enjoying a Brownie-bought Guinness

The S on the hill is lit up at night, alternating with a red heart. 'S'hart according to Mike

All in all a pretty solid race. I was pushed for most of the race by Dan and Andy, but was able to respond when necessary (except when it counted). Andy's a tough runner, who should be a threat at most of the races he runs this year. He says he's looking to post a fast time at American River, so I'll be interested to see how he goes. If he's got the necessary leg speed for the flat course he should be in contention.

Another great day in Salida with a bunch of strong mountain runners in all the races. This is a great early season tester and definitely one for the calendar.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Week Ending March 7

Mon: Noon - 8.5 miles (2,100'). Horsetooth/Audra + add-on route. Sloppy out. Legs felt good after big climb week last week, although foot flared up a bit. Guess I just feel a bit fragile.
PM - 7 miles (1,750'). Towers. Way sloppy on connector and lower section. Good running above that. Felt good and smooth, but took it easy.

Tues: Noon - 8.5 miles (2,100'). As yesterday, but a little sloppier. Shorts and T. Beautiful out.
PM - 7.5 miles easy with FCTR on bike paths in town.

Weds: Noon - 8.5 miles (2,100'). Same again, firmer in places, sloppier in others. Hoping for 90% dirt by the weekend. Shorts and T again. Beginning to feel like spring is in the air.

Thurs: Noon - 8.5 miles (2,100'). Felt pretty sluggish today. Didn't help that the trails were pure slop in many places, but boy was it beautiful out. The woodpeckers have started attacking our house looking to build nests behind our cedar siding, which is a sure sign spring is just around the corner. Time to start hanging some CDs from the rafters. Feels great to finally be getting some solid running done now that the weather is turning.
PM - 11.5 miles (2,300'). To Soderburg from home, then Towers to top and back down to Westridge and down Horsetooth.

Fri: Noon - 8.5 miles (2,100'). Went super easy today as I was feeling a bit burned from yesterday. However, was feeling great by the end of the run. Love that feeling of being tired but strong. Really starting to feel some good fitness. Keeping the focus on June, but sure looking forward to some racin' in the interim.
PM: 5.5 miles (600'). Milner loop easy.

Sat: AM - 25.5 miles (6,200'). 3:58. Up Horsetooth from home, then across on a snowy Westridge to top of Towers. Then descent of Towers + two more up and downs, and home via Shoreline/38e. 56' to Towers (1), 25' to Soderburg, 39:49 up (2), 26' down, 38:30 up (3), 25' down, 25:45 home w/add on. After a big climb week, felt surprisingly good on this quad-burner of a run. Decided to fuel as I would a race (EFS Liquid Shot), which I rarely do in training, and that really helped with good energy the whole way around. I felt so good in fact that I finished the last three miles at tempo effort. Tested out a Nathan waist pack with a one bottle/one gel flask set-up. The waist pack felt good with very little jiggle, but the gel flask was a bit cumbersome to get in & out although better than ripping gel packs. Will try it again at Salida as I really want to find a hydration system for WS that doesn't involve carrying hand-helds. I also have a two-bottle deal that needs testing, but the one-bottle seems like it will work out okay - certainly for shorter legs between aid stations - which is a good start.
PM - 3.5 miles easy setting up T&H course. Legs felt good after a creaky start.

Sun - 4 miles while T&H was ongoing. Ended up running the last two at 6:15 to make sure I was back before the first finishers. Kind of dumb as I was only trying to get a couple recovery-pace miles in.
PM - 6 miles (1,300'). Up Southridge, down Horsetooth, around on Spring Creek to Falls. Met up with Dana and Alistair and hiked the last mile home.

Total: 113 miles (22,700')

Very encouraging week. Way more miles than I had planned on at the start of the week, but with 50k in the bag by Tuesday, I decided to grind out some volume to get the WS train officially in motion. All my running windows stayed open this week and I was even able to carve out some bonus time by getting up very early on Saturday. Outside of running, I was also pretty productive at work and with the family. Hopefully I can keep the balance going through the next three months.

Everything this week was about climbing and moving well on the descent. I don't really ever plan my training beyond reserving time slots to run, but I have something of a plan for Western States, which looks something like this: run lots. I guess I'll be looking to keep the mileage as close to 100 per week as possible, but that may or may not be plausible from a time and wellness standpoint. Currently I'm thinking that 14-day hill blocks, followed by 7-day flatter/faster blocks sounds like a plan, so I suppose I'll go with that until I change the plan again.

With two 20,000' weeks in the bag, the week upcoming will be about resting the quads a bit and working in some faster stuff in preparation for Salida on Saturday. There are a couple of guys running Salida who are at about my pace (Ryan B & Nick P) and one who is faster (Timmy P), so there should be some good company to help push out a hard effort. Looking forward to it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Some Rivalries for 2010

The Burchmeister and I have decided to throw down for 2010. In a recent phone conversation, which inevitably centered around running, we realized that we'd be seeing quite a bit of each other at various race venues across the Mountain West this year. As we run at a similar pace and a similar level of intensity, we figured we'd make a little side bet of things over a five-race series beginning at Salida ten days hence.

The last time we raced, Pilot Hill 25k, I destroyed Ryan (right, with another foe, Michael Huntington, left).

While Salida will just be the beginning of the series between Ryan and I, I also have a bet riding on the Salida race with the Brown Man from Colorado Springs. I have graciously given Brownie (aka Jon Teisher) a 26-minute handicap (the differential from last year's race), with the loser buying the winner a 12 pack of their choosing.

Back to the Burch showdown. The calendar looks like this:

Salida (26.2)
Fruita (50)
Jemez (50)
Pikes Peak (26.2)
An as-yet-undecided fifth race, which will likely be the Speedgoat 50k or the Breck Crest Mtn Marathon.

The stakes are mainly about bragging rights, but the loser will be taking the winner's family out for a slap-up dinner at an as-yet-undecided venue. Although Burch is currently 3-2 over me in our head-to-heads to date, recent race comps suggest that I'm in with more than a fighting chance and, quite frankly, I'm yet to be beaten this year. So Burch, you better be bringing your A-game!

Another blogosphere racing brawl that I've been trying to instigate is with Denver resident and fellow RunColo contributor (and Western States pacer), Justin Mock. Justin and I will both be running Pikes in August and have thrown around the idea of making that the tie-breaker (or victory lap) of a three-race series. Justin is more roadie than trail runner, so I suggested we choose one venue each for the other two races, thereby increasing the likelihood that Pikes will indeed be the tie-breaker. My choice is the Horsetooth Trail Half in early June (if I don't beat him there then I won't beat him anywhere), but I'm waiting on confirmation - so Justin, consider this a publicly stated call to arms.

Oh, and I don't know if this one will ever get off the ground, but the FoCo (area) vs. Boulder (area) hill climb challenge series is still hanging out there, but is in need of some serious organizational and scheduling commitments.

Anyone else?