Sunday, January 30, 2011

Week Ending Jan 30

Monday - Noon: 7.5 miles (1,700') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Towers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg. Gentle cruise to mark the beginning of the taper.

Tuesday - AM: 10.5 miles intervals. Met Jane's group at City Park for an early morning interval session. Cold as all get out again, but at least no wind. Anyway, the workout went: mile, 1,200, 1,000, mile fartlek, 1,200, 1,000, mile. Jogged three miles with Slush, Sarah and Celeste to warm up, and actually felt kind of spry from the get go - which is rare. Intervals went: 5:28, 3:58 (5:19), 3:18 (5:18), 5:22, 3:51 (5:09), 3:16 (5:15), 5:31 - w/ 3-5 minutes rest between.
Noon: 4.5 miles (900') easy. Falls loop.

Weds - AM: 6 miles (500') easy. Valley.
PM: 6 miles easy. Bike paths.

Thurs - PM: 10 miles (1,800'). Towers TT. 29:26. Ran three with Eric B to warm up, then, after setting off 32 runners before me, headed out for what I figured would be a close-to-PR effort - if not time, given that it was pitch black out and there was likely ice on the trail. With the lack of depth perception that comes with running in a bubble of headlamp light, I stumbled my way across the Swan Johnson connector, but still managed to get to Towers in a very easy 2:45, which is just a hair over PR pace. I decided then to take the plunge and commit to a hard effort. At Stout I was still on PR pace at 8:43, and by Herrington I had gained a few seconds with a 16:43 split. Up to this point, the track had largely been snow and ice free and it remained that way past Mill Creek (24:45), but beyond Westridge, it was pretty icy and treacherous. Going around Kyle at the crest of the last grunt, I took a digger, landing hard on my knee, which cost seconds and energy, and then I slid a few more times before the summit. However, I still managed to top out in a reasonably controlled one second PR (29:26). Still way off Sam's 28:50 FKT, but probably pretty close to it had there been a dry track and sunlight. Looking forward to a spring assault, but for now I'll take this as a sign that I'm in great shape and ready to go hard in New Orleans.

Friday - Noon: 8 miles (1,650') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Loggers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg - home.

Saturday - AM: 8 miles (900') easy. To Indian Summer on Bluesky and back. It was so nice out, I found myself scanning for snakes ... in January.
PM: 5 miles (1,600'). Hike to Horsetooth summit with Alistair.

Sunday 15 miles (1,500').
Frost Giant 5k/10k double. Certainly wasn't going to be laying down any PRs, but felt like I got the workout I was after, which was a tired 10k effort. Warmed up with 3.5, raced 3.1, cooled down with 1.75, raced 6, cooled down with 1.75.

Total: 80.5 miles (10,550')

My legs felt great all week, which is really encouraging considering this is the first week of the taper. I still plan on cutting back significantly next week and again the week of. Probably won't run much more than 75 miles over the next two weeks, so I should really be raring to go come race day.

Great to see Andy Henshaw busting out an impressive 2:26 in Miami this weekend. He looks to be in great shape for Mad City where I predict he'll get the spot he wants on the US 100k team. Andy beat me by less than a minute at the Salida Marathon last year, which means I should be ready to rock out a 2:27 in New Orleans ... or at least I think that's how it works.

Stacy from Wilderness Running, an online retailer of quality trail running gear, conducted a 4-question interview with me the other week. You can check it out here and if you want to save 10% on gear from Stacy's St. George headquarters, then check out the link on the sidebar.

Frost Giant 5k/10k Double

I knew going into this one that there wouldn't be a great deal of feedback to be had on the marathon-performance front, given that Estes Park sits at over 7,500' and that both races involve a lot of uphill work and considerable amounts of running through clumpy paddock, but I figured that if I raced both reasonably hard I could get a good late-marathon effort out of the 10k.

Alex and I carpooled up to Estes (which is an intriguing 50k from my house) with a ton of time to spare. Ryan B was at registration as Alex and I were picking up our race bibs, so the three of us headed out to run the 5k course as a warm up. It essentially involved a 1.5-mile, 250'-foot climb out of town to MacGregor Ranch on first asphalt and then gravely dirt, before cutting cross country on clumpy and pot-holed paddock for 3/4 of a mile and then rejoining MacGregor road for the one-mile, 150' descent to the finish.

Going in, I figured I'd race the 5k hard to work up a good amount of of lactic acid for the 10k effort. However, with the uphill start and the altitude, I was laboring almost immediately from the gun. Three guys got out in front of me with last year's winner Mark Saunders trailing two other guys that I didn't recognize. It took me about a half mile to get on the back of the pack, and I figured then that I would just race the 5k for positions and not worry about running as hard as possible, so I sat back and drafted at what seemed like an increasingly easy effort. Just before the mile, Mark decided to up the effort waving for me to come with him. I did and we immediately dropped the guy who had been setting the early pace. Through the first mile of asphalt and 150' of climbing we were at 5:40.

Once we hit the gravel road in MacGregor Ranch, the grade increased significantly and - not surprisingly - the pace dropped. We gained probably 100 feet over the next third of a mile before the road leveled out, and at the 90 degree turn onto the cross country section, I was able to get a look behind and saw that I'd built a decent gap on second (Peter Swank). Given that the paddock section was pretty pitted, I figured I should be careful and go easy to the road so as not to twist an ankle or do something else stupid. The 1.1 mile section in MacGregor Ranch split at 6:55.

The last mile was almost all downhill and all on asphalt, so I was able to cruise at a good speed into the finish with a 5:18 last mile and 17:55 overall. Ryan finished strong, almost picking off Peter Swank for second, but just running out of real estate.

Alex, Ryan and I reconvened shortly thereafter and went off to jog the first 1.5 miles and last half mile of the 10k course in a bid to keep loose in the 40 minutes between races. The first mile of the 10k course was very steep, with over 200 feet of climbing before dropping down for a quarter mile to rejoin the half-mile point of the 5k and then climbing back up to MacGreggor ranch for an additional 170 feet of ascending, so 400 feet of climbing in the first two miles. Nice.

From the gun, the race went out noticeably slower than the 5k, almost at a jog, so it was a fairly safe bet that most everyone in the 10k had also raced the 5k. Within 100 yards we were tucking into the first section of the opening one-mile climb, which was probably close to a 10 percent grade. Once things eased off a bit, I actually felt my legs tell me that they were comfortable and ready to run again, so I switched from just wanting to tempo the effort to feeling like I wanted to make this hard on myself to make it feel like the last 10k in New Orleans might. By mile one (6:24), I already had control of the race so concentrated on working a steadily hard, marathon'esque effort.

At the top of the second climb, which happened to coincide with the two mile marker (6:03), I was ready for some fun paddock action. The course repeated the 5k cross country section, then cut across Devil's Gulch Road at mile 3 (5:52) for two more miles of pretty serious cross country. Cutting back east up the Devil's Gulch fenceline and then south through some trees, the course climbed another 150' or so before dropping sharply through some dangerously low pine canopy and heavily pine-coned terrain. Out of the trees, the course had us run through some really tall grass with stretches of heavily off-cambered action thrown in for good measure before sending us back towards Devil's Gulch Road for the last mile of asphalt. Miss Colorado was directing traffic at the last cross-country turn, and I took it so tight that I almost sent her flying. Ooops. The splits through this section went 6:17 & 5:33 (mile 5 was obviously way short).

Once back on the road, I checked over the shoulder and saw Ryan a ways off in second. Knowing that the fifth mile was short, I took at a split at the 1 mile marker of the 5k course to see what I could push out for a last mile, which I covered in 5:25, crossing the line in 36:22, which surprised me. Figuring that the course was short then, I checked with Ryan and Alex who both had GPS watches on, and as suspected the course was .2 miles short at 6 miles. That said, the 5k course was a touch long, so I guess it all evens out in the wash. Ryan ran a strong 10k, finishing about a minute back on me and comfortably ahead of Mark Saunders in third and way ahead of the guy who had earlier beat him for second in the 5k.

I picked up a couple of pewter game trophies to add to my buffalo from the Antelope Island 50k last year. All I need now is a cougar.

Where's the Cougar?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Towers Times

With the exception of some nasty ice past Westridge, we had close to perfect conditions on the hill on Thursday tonight with temps in the 40s and not a breath of wind. Not surprisingly then, there were some impressive performances from among the 32 assembled runners. People were blowing out PRs left, right and center. This is January folks - good stuff!

So a new FKT in the women's division, with Jenn Malmberg shaving a few more seconds off her PR (35:09), while Sarah Hansen posted the second fastest time ever for the women on her first time up the hill with a 36:10. I think we'll send them out together next time for some fun racing action now that Sarah's had a chance to see the hill.

No FKTs on the men's side, but huge PRs for regulars on the hill Scott Slusher and Kyle Fanning. A one second PR (29:26) for me, even after taking a spill on the ice near the top, but still much work to be done to get near Sam's 28:50.

2011 Times & All-time PRs through 1/27/11:


Alex A....38:07..43:00..46:00..46:11..42:50
Alex M....37:49..42:34..38:27..41:04..41:03
Brian K...37:12.............37:12
Brian S...40:30..42:20...40:30............42:46
Brian W...44:55..51:10..49:04..51:21..45:56*
Chris H...43:41.......................46:45..43:41
Chris K...46:50.......................50:10..46:50
Dan B.....41:21.............41:21
Dan Bla..47:15.............50:20.............47:15
Dan J.....37:18.............37:30..39:40
Diana H..46:28..46:28
Eric B.....29:37..............30:51
Jeff K.....39:08..43:00....39:08
Jenn M...35:09..37:47....35:09
Jenn S....52:26..................................56:51
John H...49:46........................49:46*..57:22..55:24
Mary B...42:03..............44:31..51:18...47:13
Mike L....43:50..47:50...43:50..............46:23
Mike Le..44:00....................................44:00
Mike T....45:06..47:31
Mike M...42:34..............43:00*...64:43
Nick C....29:26..32:01....29:26
Nick M...35:42..38:56.....35:42
Ryan B...31:32..33:45....31:32..33:10....??
Sam M...28:50..32:59
Sarah H..36:10..............36:10..37:04
Tom K...55:00....................................55:00

Top times:

Sam Malmberg: 28:50
Nick Clark: 29:26
Eric Bergman: 29:37
Dakota Jones: 30:30
Steve Folkerts: 30:36


Jenn Malmberg: 35:09
Sarah Hansen: 36:10
Cherilyn Sackel: 37:07
Amy Hartley: 38:14
Karina HS XC: 38:20

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Week Ending Jan 23

Mon - Noon: 8 miles easy. Glenwood Canyon to Readers Cove via Spring Creek - Mason - Harmony.
PM: 5.5 miles (600') easy. Milner mountain loop.

Tues - AM: 9.5 miles fartlek. Met Jane's group down in City Park for a structured mile repeat workout. First mile on the cemetery route, then 3 x mile fartlek with hard at 5k'ish pace and easy at marathon'ish pace, followed with final cemetery mile. Four mile w-u, half mile c-d. 5:42, 5:56, 5:44, 5:52, 5:24.
PM: 10 miles (2,300') easy. To Towers via 38e/Shoreline, then Towers - Westridge - Horsetooth - Southridge - home.

Weds - Noon 10.5 miles (2,400') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Loggers - Carey Springs - Towers - Secret Trail - Westridge - Southridge - Soderberg. Looked a little overcast, but totally benign when I set out, so went with a light outfit. Within 20 minutes, the temps dropped 20 degrees and I was in a full-on blizzard with hail then snow lashing me to pieces in the howling wind. My hands froze and my face felt like it was about ready to fall off, but I stuck with the plan and got around. Ouch.
PM: 4.5 miles (900') easy. Falls loop.

Thurs - AM: 10.5 miles (1,400') steady. ~ 1:11 for 10, then .5 jog. Met up with Sarah, Slush, Tim, John L and Dennis at Maxwell for an out and back to the 5-mile marker on the HTH course. Huge full moon out hovering above the Horsetooth/Lory foothills which was pretty awesome; however, it was cold (12 degrees) and the roads were icy which wasn't so awesome. Forgot my watch, but based on others' watches, it was approx 38 mins (7:40) to the turn and 33 (6:40) coming back. The hills on Centennial always make this a tough workout, but managed to push out a solid tempo effort coming back. Half mile jog at the end.
PM: 7.5 miles easy. FCTR social run @ Pineridge.

Friday - AM: 4.5 miles (900') super easy. Falls loop.
PM: 2.5 miles on the mill. Bored and tired so got off.

Saturday AM: 21.5 miles (1,500') MP workout. 2:45. Started from Maxwell at 6:00 am with a jog out to Spring Creek trailhead, then 2x4 miles @ marathon effort to College and back w/half mile jog between. Wind was blowing hard, so this workout was kind of a bust, but just tried to maintain an appropriate effort: 6:14, 5:57, 5:58, 5:54; 6:04, 6:08, 6:06, 6:21. Jogged the 1.5 miles back to Maxwell and met a large group from the Fort Collins Running Club for a jog out to the 5-mile marker and back on the HTH course over the Centennial hills (44 out, 45 back). Ran with Alex for the most part and enjoyed some good conversation. Wind really picked up towards the end of the run.

Sunday - AM: 23.5 miles (3,050'). 3:19. Horsetooth Resrvoir circumnavigation with Brendan, Dakota and Ryan. From my house to Soderberg, then Valley trails to Lory - roads around north end of reservoir to Reservoir Ridge TH - Foothills Trail to Maxwell - dam road (Centennial) to 38e - 38e home. Glad for the enjoyable company on this one as I didn't much feel like running long again after Saturday's 20+ miles, but my legs felt fine and the run went by quickly. Beautiful morning for what was actually my first circumnavigation of the reservoir. Was pretty surprised to see 3,000'+ of vertical gain on the morning, but I guess there are a couple of good climbs up and down the hogbacks on the east side of the reservoir, and then there's a good 800' in the last three miles to my house. Excellent way to finish off this block of training for NOLA.

Brief pit stop at Lory Visitors Center. Ryan, Dakota, Brendan.

Total: 118 miles (13,000')

So that pretty much concludes the work for the NOLA build up. I'll take the next three weeks to drop the mileage with my typical taper that will go something like: 75 miles, 50 miles, 3-4 mile daily jog, with an eye on maintaining some good quality marathon-paced workouts through the next two weeks. Feeling fit and largely healthy, so no excuses. Probably going to run the 5k/10k double at 7,500' next weekend.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Week Ending Jan 16

Monday - Noon: 8 miles (1,650') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Loggers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg - home. My tracks from Sunday on the exact same run were gone once I got off the Falls loop, so re-broke trail all the way back to Soderberg. Snow had some good traction today, so could have been worse. Ankle to calf deep for the most part.
PM: 7 miles (1,600'). Southridge - Wathen - Spring Creek - Soderberg. Was going to run roads, but then remembered I had a killer pair of Atlas racing snowshoes that have been waiting patiently all fall/winter for an outing. This was actually my first ever mountain run in a pair of snowshoes, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the effort much mellower than I had been expecting. My left foot, which has a funny backswing hurt to start out as it was forced to correct with the snowshoes, but once that settled down, this was a most enjoyable outing. The traction and 'bounce' were a most welcome reprieve from the slipping and sinking I normally experience when running in shoes through this kind of stuff. Writing this, shortly before going to bed, I feel pretty beat, suggesting that this was a bigger workout than the same on foot. Or maybe it's just the cumulative effect of two hilly slogs through the snow in one day. Looking forward to running a few snowshoe races and spending some time up in the mountains with the family this winter once the marathon thing is done.

Tuesday - Noon: 11 miles (1,000') w/2 x 3 mile @ tempo on Redstone. Viciously cold out today, so had to wait until the 'warmest' part of the day to get out, but it was still in the negative numbers with wind chill and probably 5 or 6 air temp. Running into the wind my face was in a world of hurt. Anyway, down to Redstone Canyon, then out to three-mile marker at marathon effort, jog half mile, then three miles back to 38e at marathon effort. The traction on Redstone was not as good as I was hoping for, so I had to work a little harder than I would have liked with the slight slip with each push-off on the packed snow. Tailwind out, headwind back. Miles up the canyon went 6:23, 6:26, 6:23, then 5:56, 6:10, 5:59 coming back. 15:45 down to Redstone, 19:05 back. On days like today, I am truly thankful for the great Pearl Izumi gear I am lucky enough to receive.

This is my number one cold-weather item.

Wednesday - AM: 8 miles (1,000') easy. To Redstone one-mile marker and back to 38e, then completion of Milner Mtn loop and long way home. Had to wait for day to break this morning for fear that I would lose my nose. Negative one as the run got going, but warmed up to a balmy two degrees by the end. Yet to figure out how to keep my nose and cheeks from freezing, but most everything else was toasty.
Noon: 7 miles (1,600'). Southridge - Wathen - Spring Creek - Soderberg. On the snowshoes again. Probably the last snowshoe session I'll get out of this round of snow, but it was fun while it lasted. Air temps really warmed up during the day to the point that I was overheating for much of this run.

Thursday - Noon: 4.5 miles (900') easy. Falls loop.
PM: 9.5 miles (1,700'). Towers in 32:01. Packed snow on the half-mile connector, then largely clear until the last half mile where it was very slippery.

Friday - PM: 6 miles (500') super easy. To Towers and back via 38e/Shoreline.

Saturday - 16.5 mile. Frosty 10 miler (56:37). 3.5 mile w-u, 3 mile c-d.

Sunday - 24 miles (2,500') easy. 3:23. Out with Burch for the first of a series of American River simulation runs that we have planned in the build up to the race in April. From my house we ran roads to the Devils Backbone trailhead in Loveland (12 miles) via Masonville/Hwy 34. We then picked up the Bluesky trail, taking the high route to the keyhole, then lefts through the Loveland-side loops, Indian Summer and then the long way home once back in my neighborhood. Getting up to my house the long way from the north-end Bluesky trailhead is a good 700' ascent on roads in a bit over 2 miles; with the rolling Bluesky trail this is an almost perfect mini-AR simulator. Next time out we plan to take Bluesky all the way to Towers and hit that to the top at the end of the run before cutting back on Westridge, which should net a good 30+ miles. Trails were still pretty crunchy with snow and ice, but nothing too nasty. Great to be out bagging some bigger miles with Ryan. Nice casual pace today after yesterday's effort.

Total: 100.5 miles (12,450')

Good week. Managed to get to the 10 miler on Saturday with slightly less mileage (60) through the week than for the Lafayette 5k (75) last Saturday, which may have helped with the stronger comparative performance - or maybe it was just an easier course. Anyway, I'm pretty happy on balance with how the race went with one week left of training before the taper. I think I'm where I need to be fitness-wise.

Aside from the racing, I managed to get in some harder-effort miles on a very cold Tuesday, a solid Towers effort on Thursday and a comfortable long run today. All positives and few negatives on the feedback front, which is right where you want to be at this stage of the cycle. I hope to make next week count with some heavy mileage and three big workouts. Just need to get through that then the focus shifts to the three-week tapering off period, where I'll be looking to get the legs rested, sharp and ready to race. In my opinion, this is one of the most important parts of the training cycle and one that many don't take seriously enough when preparing for goal races.

While I'm still focused on running the roads in February, I'm also really looking forward to American River and the whole 2011 ultra season in general. Seems like 2010 was a great year for the sport in terms of attracting runners across a broad spectrum of abilities, and especially so at the pointy end of the bigger races. Hopefully we'll continue to see really great racing action in 2011. I know I'm looking forward to getting in amongst 'em.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Frosty's Frozen 10 Mile

There were plenty of running options on offer this Saturday. Two hours south in the Springs, the third and final race in the Front Range Fatass series was taking place, while an hour north in Wyoming some truly crazed folk were wading through waist-deep snow in what Alex is describing as the hardest of the three Trudges he's done so far. I've done two and they both sucked, so I can only imagine how intolerable this year's race was, but I was still sad to miss it.

Me, I ran ten miles on a bike path in Denver.

Frosty's Frozen 10 Mile has one of the sillier race names out there in addition to a thoroughly uninspired course, but it was a fun morning nonetheless. The course was essentially a five mile out and back on Denver's Platte River bike path, with a small loop at the start. There was a very gentle net downhill of maybe 100 feet to the turnaround and then a gentle climb on the way back.

I carpooled down with the Slushmeister, Nicole and Sarah Hansen, and enjoyed some good banter which made the drive fly by. Sarah was looking to run 65 minutes, Slush was hoping to hang on to her coattails, while I figured that I'd be happy with anything in the 56-57 minute range. Nicole was just looking to get a race under her belt after a long post-Ironman layoff.

Me, Sarah, Nicole, Slushstenstein

After a gentle 3.5 mile warm up with the Fort Collins crew we lined up and got going. Off the start, I spotted Jonathan Huie, who beat me pretty convincingly in December at the Xmas Classic 4 Miler where I had a horrible run; this after I'd beaten him by a few seconds at the T-Day run in November. For the third time in three months then we'd be racing. In addition, Senor Jaime had filled me in the day before on some guy (Kenneth Foster) who was using this race as a tune up for the US Half Marathon Championships in Houston in two weeks, saying he was good for a sub-50 (per the RD). I told him I'd eat my shorts if anyone went sub-50 today. I also recognized Peter Maksimow in his Inov-8 outfit, after hearing his name called for second place in the five-mile race, which was run 75 minutes before the 10-miler. He'd be doubling down on the morning then, so I figured I might have his number.

Through the first few turns of the opening half-mile loop I took my time getting up to race pace. As we hit the bike path, I was running in fifth with Peter. Two guys - Ken Foster running for US Army and a guy in a Team Nebraska top - already had a good-sized lead, while Jonathan and A.N.Other were a few meters up in third and fourth. The first mile clicked at 5:38, which was right at the pace I wanted to be running. The effort felt very controlled, so I decided to put a little weight on the gas in a bid to keep third and fourth close. Not long into the second mile, it was evident that fourth had gone out way too hard, and I was soon around him sitting ten meters behind Jonathan, with Peter still on my shoulder.

The 5:24 second mile split seemed a little hot on paper, but felt good aerobically. My legs weren't feeling too spry, which is never a good sign early in a race, but I felt strong enough that I made the decision not to ease off, rather just hang in there and see how long I could hold on. Through the third mile, I got some separation on Peter but could see myself losing ground on Jonathan, so settled in and concentrated on hitting the tangents of the curvy bike path.

The third mile clicked at 5:29 and the fourth at 5:27, while the gap on third in front and fourth behind grew. It felt like there was a slight uphill pull on the fifth mile, and there were also some decent patches of snow and ice to negotiate, which caused the pace to slow just a touch. Somewhere before the turnaround, I also began to feel the lactic acid take hold in my legs and knew that the real work was just about to begin. However, having come away from the 5k in Lafayette last week with the sense that I 'd run a weak race mentally, I was bound and determined to give the Central Governor some attitude today.

Mile five, just before the turnaround, clicked at 5:39 for a front five of 27:39. I took a gulp of water at the 180 degree turn and then immediately felt the headwind. Ughh. No wonder that front five had seemed easier than the digits suggested they should have. With Jonathan still in sight 30-40 seconds ahead, I at least had a rabbit to chase in hopes that he would tie up, so I got my head down for the grind to the finish.

Coming back against the traffic, I saw Scott closely followed by Sarah who was running in sixth, not far off the girls directly in front of her, but certainly out of reach of 2008 marathon trialists Paige Higgins and Kara Roy who were running one and two. We exchanged mutual words of encouragement as we crossed and then it was back to the grindstone.

Mile six hit at 5:43, and given how I was feeling, the 5:20s and 5:30s were clearly history. It was now just a matter of hanging mentally tough and muscling as good a time as possible and maybe reeling in third. Mile seven came in at 5:49, and while the wheels felt like they were loosening, it didn't feel like they were going to come off entirely.

The mile eight marker seemed like it took forever to materialize, and in fact it never did, presumably blown down. Miles 8 and 9 combined for an 11:37 (5:48) split, and while the math wasn't coming easy, I finally figured out that I was essentially running at what I hope to be marathon pace in four weeks. As I contemplated this reality, while trying to muscle enough strength to stay on pace, I thought about the increased oxygen that would be on offer in New Orleans, the fresh tapered legs, and the fact that I was going to run a sensible evenly paced race that would involve zero miles below 5:30 pace. Okay, one more mile.

"Is third getting any closer? Uh, maybe, but you're not going to catch him. Keep squeezing for seconds."

While I maybe could have pushed a little harder in the last mile, I doubt I would have earned much more than 10 seconds on my final 5:47 split, as I was feeling pretty tapped. I ended up running 56:37, which was on the upper-middle end of the pre-race goalometer. Ideally I would have liked to have seen 55:xx on my watch, but 5:40s were really where I thought I would be.


If I manipulate, cajole and massage various different performance equivalency calculators enough, then accounting for altitude this performance (54:31 sea level equivalent, apparently) is good enough for a 2:32 in four weeks time.

Calculators smalculators, I say, but this is the first time I've got one of these stupid algorithms to show me a number I want to see. But then there's a reason why we run the races. I'm not giving up on the 2:29 just yet, but my mind is increasingly coalescing around 2:33 as the number.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A New Year, a New Towers

Well not really, although we have hit the reset button on Towers-related statistical accumulations for 2011...but it's still the same old grunt. In 2010, we had a total of 104 different runners attend at least one of the 20 sessions on the big hill, which ain't bad considering the gruntworthiness of the course. Our biggest turnout of 32 runners was on July 15, and the smallest turnout of 8 runners was the inaugural April 8 session.

I handed out a few Pearl Izumi goodies last week at the Thursday night social gathering for those who showed the greatest dedication to the hill.

On the men's side, Pete Stevenson managed to make more appearances than your humble run-director in 2010 with a total of 18 Thursday summits, followed by me (17), Brian Walter (15), Alex May and Scott Slusher (14). For the women, Mary Boyts (absent last night) was a model of consistency with 16 appearance, followed by Celeste (Slusher?) (15) and Cat Speights (14).

Top times were as follows:

Sam Malmberg: 28:50
Nick Clark: 29:26
Eric Bergman: 29:37
Steve Folkerts: 30:36
Dakota Jones: 31:26


Jenn Malmberg: 35:09
Sarah Hansen: 36:10
Cherilyn Sackel: 37:07
Amy Hartley: 38:14
Karina HS XC: 38:20

This year got off to a good start with a solid 20-runner turnout. The conditions were predictably slow given the recent white fluffy dump from the heavens, but they could have been much worse. The half-mile connector to Towers was decently packed down, and then most of the actual road had been plowed, with the exception of the toughest part of the route - the half mile from Westridge - which was a slippery white mess. Results further down.

So we'll continue the bi-weekly schedule through the winter and on through the year, hopefully with a full 26 sessions in 2011. Once we revert forward to longer days in the spring, I am hopeful that we'll find the opportunity to switch locations a couple of times to include time trials on Horsetooth, Round Mountain, Greyrock (?) and maybe even Crosier. Other suggestions welcome.



Alex A....38:07..43:00...46:00
Alex M....37:49..42:34..38:27
Brian K...37:12.............37:12
Brian S...40:30..42:20..40:30
Brian W...44:55..51:10..49:04
Dan B......41:21..............41:21
Dan Bla..50:20..............50:20
Dan J......37:18...............37:30
Diana H..46:28..46:28
Eric B......29:37.............29:37
Jeff K......39:08..43:00..39:08
Jenn M...35:09..37:47....35:09
Mary B...42:03..............44:31
Mike L....43:50..47:50..43:50
Mike T....45:06..47:31
Mike M...42:34.............43:00
Nick C....29:26..32:01..29:26
Nick M...35:42..38:56..35:42
Ryan B...31:32..33:45..31:32
Sam M...28:50..32:59
Sarah H..36:10.............36:10

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Week Ending Jan. 9

Mon - AM: 8 miles (1,500') super easy. To Towers on 38e - Shoreline - Swan Johnson, then up and across via Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg. Started my new running reality this morning with a brisk (9 degrees) jog at 6:00am. A lot of my running is going to have to occur before the 9 o'clock hour with the way the family schedule now works. The whole getting out of bed and running thing is not my favorite, but once I get into the routine I'm sure it will be fine and full of rewards that I don't get at noon, like a daily sunrise.
PM: 9.5 miles with Jason from his house to Pineridge, full loop and back. Freakin' cold out with the wind. Felt like we were running low 7s to high 6s, which is a faster than I would have liked for an easy day, but as cold as it was, it felt good to stoke the internal furnace a bit.

Tues - AM: 5.5 miles. 6 x 1k intervals. Met Jane Welzel's group down at City Park for a 6 x 1,000 meter workout around the lake. It was bitterly cold out, so it took a while to get the pistons firing, but got up to pace by the third rep: 3:41 (5:55 pace), 3:31 (5:39), 3:27 (5:33), 3:22 (5:25), 3:21 (5:23), 3:20 (5:21). Mile warm-up/c-d. Not the greatest workout, but given the conditions, I'll take the bonus man points for heading out and getting it done.
PM: 8 miles (1,500') super easy. To Towers on 38e - Shoreline - Swan Johnson, then up and across via Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg.

Weds - Noon: 8 miles (1,650') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Sawmill - Loggers - Herrington, Spring Creek, Soderberg - home. Still plenty of snow on the ground, but also some patches of dirt. Nice day.
PM: 10 miles+ bike paths. 1:10. Snuck in some miles before the Fort Collins Running Club board meeting. Ran 6:50s to max the miles without overly taxing the system.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles (1,400'). 1:16. Met up with Sarah Hansen, Tim Hebert, Dennis Vanderheiden and John Lonsdale @ 6:00am for an out and back to the 5-mile mark on the hilly Centennial Road section of the Horsetooth Half course. Jogged out with Dennis in 42:20 (8:30) and then upped the tempo coming back to catch Sarah and Tim (34:16 - 6:50). Tailwind out, headwind back. Fun strength workout with the hills. Good little group, so will look to make this a regular addition to my schedule. Oh, and if you're looking for a great half marathon to run in the spring, then I really don't think there's a better option than the Horsetooth Half: Fantastic views of the foothills, a challenging course and perhaps the best after party in NoCo road racing.
PM: 6.5 miles easy with FCTR. Good sized group for this run and every single one of us was over-dressed. Warm out.

Friday - AM: 8.5 miles super easy on the bike paths before meeting with Scott J and Pablo V to talk Sierre-Zinal.

Saturday - AM: 14 miles. 3.5 warm up, 3.1 race, 7.5 c-d.
PM: 3 miles hiking with Alistair. Falls loop.

Sunday - AM: 2 miles easy marking the T&H course in the snow. 30 showed up for today's 4k race despite the snow.
PM: 8 miles (1,650') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Sawmill - Loggers - Herrington, Spring Creek, Soderberg - home. I had originally planned 18-20 bike-path miles before the T&H, but when the alarm went off at 4:30 it was immediately silenced and reset for 6:30, meaning I would have to sneak an afternoon run. I ended up being granted a 90-minute window and enjoyed a serene outing in the fresh powder and still-falling snow at Horsetooth, which of course was way more enjoyable than 20 pavement miles at 5:00 in the morning.

Total: 101 miles (7,700')

Will look to go easy in the second half of next week so I can toe the 10-mile line down in Littleton on Saturday with moderately fresh legs. Will still look to get a workout in on Tuesday with Jane's group, and then again on Thursday with the first Towers TT of the new year. The week after that will be the last big week before a planned three-week taper. I didn't quite get done what I wanted to get done this week, so I'll be cramming a bit. My final three workouts will probably look something like: 8-10 x 1 mile @ 5k pace on Tuesday, 2 x 6-8 miles @ marathon pace on Thursday, and then a 22-23 miler on Sunday. If I can get through that week, then I'll feel like I've done what I can, and just have to hope that the taper works its magic.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lafayette 5k

For a race taking place in the dead of winter, the Quaker Oatmeal Festival does a great job of bringing out the runners for this annual 5k, both at the pointy end and among the masses. I think someone said there were 1,200 signed up to run today. Given the mild mid-30 degree temps, strong sun and proximity to New Years (resolutions), I guess I'm not that surprised. Apparently all it takes to bring out the big guns is a $400 prize purse, but I suspect that it's more about the chance to run against competition than it is the cash.

The later 9:30 start allowed for a reasonable lie in, despite the 60 minute drive down to Lafayette. Burch and I carpooled down, and after a brief $160 dollar pit stop courtesy of the local constabulary, we got to the start with plenty of time to run the course as a warm up. Bumped into Zack at packet pick-up, and he joined us for the leisurely course preview. The course was a little hillier than I was expecting, but the 90 degree turns were nice and wide, and the 180 turn looked okay, so not the fastest course out there, but fair.

Lining up at the start, Bob Sweeney asked me for my over/under prediction on how many women were going to beat me. He'd called three for himself and I called one, hoping that I could take down at least two of: Tera Moody (2:30 Chicago), Nan Kennard (2:35 on a tough Baltimore course) and Fiona Docherty (2:32 Chicago).

For once, I managed to control myself out of the gates and eased up to race pace. The first km involved a decent uphill pull followed by a nice descent. Knowing that the course was marked at the kilometers (makes sense for a 5k) rather than the miles, I was working on a goal of 3:18 pace or 16:30. Hanging a few steps behind the lead three girls, who were in a tight pack, I went through the first km in 3:15 feeling like things might be a touch hot.

Through the second and third kilometers I let the lead trio of ladies gap me by a few meters, and found myself slowing to a fair degree with the hills. Fiona had set out the zippier of the three, and was setting the pace, but from the looks of her form she wouldn't be holding it. Tera and Nan looked very smooth. My second and third kms, which were net uphill, came in at 3:25 and 3:33. Seeing the 3:33 on the 3rd split, and feeling decently in control, I decided I needed to up my game and embrace some pain if I was going to dip under 17.

With the exception of one mini-grunter, the last two kilometers were flat to downhill, so I was confident that the sub-17 was going to happen. I went by the last guy within reach on the final uphill and then set my sights on trying to run down Fiona who had now dropped a good five to ten meters off Nan and Tera. The fourth km came in at 3:19, and soon after I watched Nan put a strong race-winning move on Tera through the last two turns into the home stretch. As for me, I never could reel in Fiona, but finished feeling strong with a 3:18 last km, which was good for a time of 16:51 (5:25) and seventh overall (in the men's race).

As it turns out, the trail and ultra crowd were out in full force. John Tribbia was a few ticks behind me, and then in the ultra-guys-running-the-roads race, Bob S beat out Aaron, who out-kicked Ryan who in turn beat Scott Jurek, with George somewhere in the middle. With Joe Grant on course taking pics, there was a highly unusual concentration of ultrarunnners on hand.

Post-race we headed out as a pack for seven to eight additional miles at an easy warm-down pace. Having won the race within the race, I didn't feel the need to prove myself in the extracurricular rope climb contest - or, for that matter, in the proposed pull-up contest. A fun morning.

As far as where a 16:51 at 5,000 feet leaves me in regards to a marathon time at sea level, I am still highly unsure. I'm hoping for a stronger performance next weekend at the 10 miler in Littleton, as I plan to take two or three very light days beforehand (compared to 75 miles M-F this week). If I can run 5:40s or better there then I think I'll have the chops to hold 5:50s over 26.2 miles on rested legs at sea level in February ... or go down trying.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Beer Mile Wrap

Picked up my Frozen Vertical Beer Mile trophy this evening at the bi-weekly Trail Runners' social, and it has since been awarded pride of place on the mantel.

Get training for next year 'cos Big Daddy ain't giving this puppy up easy!

Official results

Nick - 18:25! (Big Daddy)
Alex - 19:50
Celeste - 27:28! (Mountain Cat)
Brian - 29:40
Scott - 29:41
Relay - 34:00
Pete - 29:10 (with a penalty quarter for blowing chunks, and while Pete's time looks suspiciously faster than Brian and Scott's, the ruling on the field (of last place) still stands.)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Week Ending Jan 2

Mon - 8 miles (500') easy'ish with Jason O. Felt pretty stiff and tight from the faster hardtop long run on Sunday. Jason had no sympathy and dragged me around faster than I would have liked. Something about payback for a couple of bonks I put him through this summer.

Tues - 12 miles (1,200') easy. Soderberg to Lory Visitors Center on Valley, back on Well Gulch - Overlook - Valley. Legs still a bit stiff from Sunday long run.

Weds - AM: 8.5 miles (700') easy. From home to Lory fence on valley trail and back.
PM: 7.5 miles (1,800'). Horsetooth Summit hard (23:50 P.R.) w/Rob, then back down via Wathen - Spring Creek - Falls.

Thurs - Noon: 14 miles (4,000') easy. Got out with Ryan B who is back in The Fort after his stint up in Gunnison. Great to have him back. We hit the Horsetooth sections of the Chubster in big flaky snow and slippery conditions. Cold out. Horsetooth - Summit - Horsetooth - Soderberg - Spring Creek - Stout - Herrington - Spring Creek - Towers - Westridge - Wathen - Spring Creek - Falls.
PM - 5.5 miles (1,500'). Vertical Beer Mile.

Fri - 12.5 miles easy (1,200'). To Redstone Canyon 4 mile and back. Very cold out, but needed this run to hit 4,100 miles on the year to keep up with Mr Consistency himself.

Sat - AM: 6 miles (500') easy. To Towers/Swan Johnson and back. Cold.
Noon: 8 miles (1,650') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Sawmill - Loggers - Herrington, Spring Creek, Soderberg - home. Good amount of snow on trail, but can't see it sticking around too long. Nice out with the sun poking through.

Sun - 22.5 miles easy. Bike paths. Was going to do the last seven at MP, but I bumped into Bryan G, who I hadn't seen in a long time, coming the other way early in the run, so turned around and ran 15 miles of the loop with him in the opposite direction than originally intended. By the time he peeled off at Shields, I couldn't be bothered upping the tempo so just kept running at what was probably a 7:30 pace the rest of the way on the Poudre trail and then back to the car on Overland.

Total: 104.5 miles (13,250').

First two days of the week were a write off as my legs were very stiff in the hamstrings from a faster-paced long run on Sunday. As a result, I didn't get to the track this week, but I did get in a hard effort up Horsetooth on Wednesday that somewhat compensates. That said, everything else was largely easy paced, so I need to get after the speedwork a bit this coming week. Glad I went easy on the long run today as I should be nicely rested for a hard session at the track on Tuesday. I'm thinking 3 x 3 mile at marathon pace.

Decided to bail on the two New Years 5k races as I didn't see the point in trying to run hard in the snow and ice. As a make-up, I'm thinking I'll head down to Lafayette on Sat/Sun (not sure which day) to run the Oatmeal 5k. Looks like they're putting up some cash, so there should be some speedsters to chase, which will hopefully help in posting a decent time.

Got an exciting running schedule figured for next year, I think. As with last year, the focus through the first half of the year will largely be on Western States. With so many other great races and adventures to experience in future summers, I'm pretty sure this will be my last WS for the foreseeable future, so I fully intend on going hell for leather if I'm fit, taking a few risks and seeing what I can do. As build up races, I'll be running New Orleans in Feb, Salida Marathon in March (love that race), American River 50 in April (I'm probably more geeked about the prospect of running AR than WS), and then maybe Jemez (or something else) in May. I mailed in my Hardrock appo this week, so that is floating out there as a post-WS possibility, but really the second half of the summer will be all about UTMB and Sierre Zinal, two races that I am super stoked to be running.

With the addition of Stella to the family and with Alistair starting big-boy school tomorrow, my running routine is about to be shaken up considerably. However, with the races I'm hoping to run in 2011, I'll just have to roll with the punches and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that I do what I can to stay fit. I'm predicting a lot of (very) early AM runs this year.