Sunday, November 27, 2011

Week Ending November 27

Mon - 6 miles (700') easy. Valley Trails. Pretty stiff from the weekend. Went super easy with Sam.

Tues - AM: 7.5 miles. City Park workout: 1,200 x 2, 1,000 x 2, 800 x 2, with second of each 1,200 & 1,000 as fartleks. 800s were actually .6 of a mile. I was feeling stiff and full of leg crud from the weekend, so started out easy and then upped the effort for the last few: 4:23 (5:50 pace), 4:21 (5:48), 3:14 (5:12), 3:22 (5:23), 3:09 (5:15), 3:02 (5:03).
PM: 3.5 miles (700') easy. Reservoir Ridge Loop.

Weds - 6 miles (700') easy. Valley trails with Sam.

Thurs - AM: 11 miles. Thanksgiving 4 Mile Race. 21:38. 5 mile w-u with Slush, 2 mile c-d.
PM: 6.5 miles (1,700') easy. Beautiful afternoon, so snuck out for an easy summit of Horsetooth before cooking T-Day dinner.

Fri - AM: 9.5 miles (3,200') easy. Up Round Mountain with Pete and Alwesir. 38 mins to 3 mile, then notched the effort to get up in under an hour. 58:50.

Sat - AM: 21.5 miles (5,500') easy. With Pete and Alwesir on JV version of El Chub. Windy out and just a little fatigued there towards the end. Fun morning.

Sun - AM: 18.5 (5,800') easy. Double Crosier with Pete, Alex and Eric Lee. From Drake TH to summit, then on to Glen Haven TH, back up to summit and then down to Drake. Legs felt pretty beat up, but still plenty in there to grind on Crosier for a few hours. Beautiful day out, which made the views from the summit even more outstanding than usual. Best 9'ner on the Front Range.

Total: 90 miles (18,300')

Made the last-minute call to register for Western States last night. There goes another $370. Whoosh. Pains me beyond belief to register for these things so far in advance, but I guess it's the nature of the beast. I was going to wait until Bandera - see how things played out there - and maybe take a qualification spot from that, but there are other people running Bandera that I know want to run Western, so I felt guilty potentially taking a spot from the Bandera qualifying pool.

Moving right along. Here's an event that won't break the bank ... coz it's free. December 10. Email, comment, whatever, if you have any questions. But essentially, we will be following exactly the same arrangements as last year (detailed in link above). And of course, this is the free teaser for bigger and better things to come on May 12, 2012. Registration for Fort Collins' first ever 50 miler opens December 7. Website goes live December 1 (or so).

A Horsetooth taster from Saturday:

Stumbled across this vid the other day. Fell running looks like a lot of fun - love those cross country starts.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day 4 Mile

This year is our family's fifth Thanksgiving in Colorado and indeed my fifth consecutive year running the Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day run. This has to be my favorite road race in Colorado, and not just because I've got the streak going, but because it's the largest race in town on a fast course that always attracts a stellar field and loads of my local running buddies. I've even got a simmering rivalry going with the fastest lady in town.

Two years ago, I got caught up in a very close women's race, essentially pacing the lead pack of four through the first 3.9 miles before watching Adriana Nelson produce the strongest kick for the win and the cash, beating me and the other ladies by a second or two. Fast forward a year to 2010 and Adriana won the women's race again. This time, though, I was able to put her away midway through the fourth mile, thereby avoiding the need for any kind of unseemly sprint down the home straight. So the scene was set this year for the rubber match on what was turning out to be a perfect morning for racing.

After a four-mile warm up with Slush and a pause for a very well executed rendition of the national anthem, it was time to race. As always, the field was stacked with many of the state's fastest guys and girls, and it was immediately off to the races. Within 10 strides, it looked like I was about 20 strides back on the lead pack.

The first mile or two of these sprints are just hard for me, and it takes forever for me to get my breathing under control. A half mile in and it looked like I was running in about 30th place. Then just like that Nuta Olaru and Adriana come cruising by - one already an Olympic marathoner (Olaru) and the other looking to qualify for the US team in Houston early next year, after recently being cleared to run for her adopted home country. Watching Adriana cruise effortlessly by me today, it was evident that she's in great form right now.

I got on the train and tried to hang on. The first mile popped at 5:17, which was a touch hot for the 5:20s I was hoping to run, but then the first mile is always hot in this race. Grinding up Mulberry, I slowly watched Adriana pull away and settled into what I thought was a sustainable pace. Brian Goding was in his usual spot watching near City Park, and he jumped in to run with me for a quarter mile or so, just as I was starting to feel a little more comfortable with the pace.

Turning the corner into the park on Bryan Ave, I was starting to reel in and go by a few guys who had pushed by me early in the race. The second mile up the hill came in at 5:22. Feeling strong and finally in control of the run, I thought I might have a shot at my pre-race goal of going under 21:30. Horsecow Lonac, who had gone by me shortly after Adriana, was coming back a bit and I was still passing guys as we made the turn onto Mountain Ave for the long mile and half down to College Ave and the finish. And, wait, maybe Adriana was coming back a bit too, albeit from about 20 meters ahead.

Mile three popped at 5:24, just I was beginning to feel my form break down and the pain set in. I was now firmly stuck in no-man's land and with nobody to race it was time to work on the mental game. I found myself drifting in and out of wanting to keep pushing. I knew I was losing precious seconds. With a half mile to go, it looked like I might be able to reel in Jonathan Garcia - a regular at the Tuesday Night Track workouts - so I made that the motivational goal to keep pushing. With 50 yards to go, on the College Ave turn, I was by Jonathan and ready for the finish line, which came eight seconds late for my goal (5:33 last mile) but was still an 11 second PR at 21:38. Good enough.

Adriana found me soon after the finish to rub a little salt into the wound, informing me that I had been smoked. And indeed I had. Her 21:14 (5:18) at altitude is impressive and a good indication that she has a good chance of being in the mix for one of the three London spots up for grabs next year.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Week Ending Nov 20

Mon - 7 miles (1,800') easy with Sam. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Herrington - Spring Creek - Sdoerberg - home long.

Tues - AM: 9 miles intervals. Cemetery work out with the cemetery gang: mile, 800, 1.5 mile, 3x800. 3min rest between first four intervals, then 20 sec between 3x800. Tough workout. I was able to hang on at a decent effort for the most part, but definitely faded on the 3x800 at the end on short rest: 5:16, 2:34, 8:09 (5:18, 2:51 (ugh!)), 2:41, 2:36, 2:42.
PM: 7.5 miles (1,400') easy. Two laps of the Reservoir Ridge route in the dark with a fading light. Easy, easy.

Weds - 7.5 miles (1,800') easy with Sam. Horsetooth summit - Wathan - Spring Creek - Soderberg - home long.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles (1,400') hill tempo. HTH5MO@B. Chilly out, but little to no wind made it bearable. Driving down and jogging out I was feeling supremely unmotivated after a sleepless night of Stella wake-up calls. Out super easy with Pete, Sam, Slush, Celeste and Lisa in 41:45, with the thought to come back at a steady rather than hard effort. Coming up the north dam hill, I was largely able to stick to that plan, then Sam decided to notch up the effort and I couldn't resist tagging along, 10 meters adrift. Bridged the gap through mile two and then pushed past going up the hill on mile three. As usual, Sam blew by me and my short, stubby legs coming down Monster Hill and then it was off to the races for the last mile down to Maxwell. Was happy to keep Sam within 10 seconds by the finish, which popped at 30:20 (6:04). Splits went: 7:45, 6:14, 5:56, 5:34, 4:51.
PM: 7 miles (1,700') Towers steady. Started out conversational with Slush until Herrington and then opened it up a bit as I was feeling surprisingly smooth despite the morning session. Beautiful evening out, and probably 25 degrees warmer than 12 hours earlier. Well over 20 of us on the hill, which is pretty impressive for mid-November. Up in 34:02.

Friday: 8.5 miles (2,100') easy. Soderberg - Spring Creek - Wathan - Rock - Audra - Southridge back up to Rock - Rock - Soderberg - home long.

Saturday: 18.5 miles (6,300') hills. Double Round Mountain. Bit of a sketchy drive out to the Round trailhead with an icy downfall during the night. Trail conditions were decent enough though, with not much more than a skiff of snow, with some ice hidden in places underneath. Ran most of the first climb at a pretty casual pace with Dakota and Slush, then soloed the descent and subsequent ascent/descent. Just managed to sneak under an hour on the first summit (which required an absurd sprint through the last 200 meters), then right on 59 mins for the second climb. Both descents were slow (45, 43) due to the sketchy underfoot conditions, and I was generally feeling tired and a little bonky second time up. Good group out: Kristel, Justin, Toto, Pete, Celeste, Ziggy, Steph, Chris, Pete and Dakota.

Sunday: 27 miles (6,200') long. 4:22. Out with Ryan for an elevation-gain fact-finding mission. Ran the full 25 miles of the May race route, which my Highgear altimeter clocked at a whopping 5,800 feet (11,600' for the full 50). This thing really is going to be a ball buster. After yesterday's Round Mountain session, I was feeling pretty worked towards the end, but by and large was able to maintain a constantly steady and comfortable pace the whole way around. The 25 miles took almost exactly 4 hours, so we're thinking anything under 3:30 in the 25 mile and 7:30 in the 50 mile will be pretty stout, with the 7:30 being the tougher target in my opinion. Ryan thinks we should name the race 'Relentless 50,' as the climbs just keep coming, but we already have a name (and almost a website). Registration opens within the next couple of weeks.

Total: 102 miles (22,700')

Another big weekend in the books. Not sure I can remember my last 6,000'+ double weekend. I certainly didn't feel stellar on either run, but by the same token I was able to run through both runs at a steady effort without feeling a great deal of deterioration, which has me feeling pretty strong if not particularly sharp. Just grinding 'em out and hoping to have some good fitness for Bandera in January.

Thinking I'll put in a mini taper for the Turkey Day race just to rest things up a bit and not get too carried away on the volume front. The summer racing season is still a long way off and I'm no spring chicken. Got to take care of all the moving parts.

Friday, November 18, 2011

UTMB Flash Back

I had some pretty mixed emotions watching the video below. From a racing perspective the trip to Europe was pretty much a Fail, but as an overall experience it was fantastic.

The race scenes from the video take you from the start to the finish by way of St.Gervais, Courmayeur, La Fouly, Champex Lac, and Trient. The scenes of me are St.Gervais, Courmayeur and then my final implosion on the way up to Col Forclaz just above Trient. I remember the camera guys being on me there and just feeling like I wanted to disappear. I can tell you now that I look way better in that video than I felt, but check out that walking cadence. Barely moving.

Good times. The guys did a great job with this video, and it's awesome to see Scott, Darcy and Richie finish - something I missed on the day.

I know for sure I won't be back next year, but maybe 2013.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Week Ending Nov 13

Mon - 6.5 miles (1,500') easy with Sam. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg.

Tues - AM: 9 miles intervals. First City Park winter workout of the season. Love these sessions. Warmed up with Sam, Eric, Sarah, Celeste and Kyle, then headed to the cemetery for the workout which went: cemetery mile (.97, but runs like a track mile because of tight turns/footing), fartlek mile from cemetery to Jackson (wheeled mile), fartlek mile on east side of park (.97), 1,200 around Club Tico (.72): 5:24, 5:34, 5:21, 4:00. Ran mostly with Chris Mc, feeling a bit slow so not able or willing to hang on to Sam and Eric.

Weds - Noon: 8.5 miles (1,700') easy with Sam. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Loggers - Carey Springs - Towers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg.

Thurs - AM: 11 miles (1,400') hill tempo. HTH5MO@B with Sam, Celeste & Slush. Beautiful morning out with a big full moon to the west and an orange glow to the east. Out easy to the 5 mile in 40:55 feeling like I didn't want to crank the return too hard. Ran the North Dam hill at a good clip with Sam and then decided to latch on and see how things felt. Passed Sam going up the long hill in the third mile and then decided to let things roll from there. Sam blazed by me coming down the last two hills, but I was pretty much able to hang on to his coattails for a 4:55 last mile. Back in a PR of 30:33 (7:28, 6:17, 5:57, 5:53, 4:55).
PM: 6.5 miles easy on the bike path with FCTR crew.

Fri - Noon: 8.5 miles (1,700') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Loggers - Carey Springs - Towers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg.

Sat - AM: 18.5 miles (5,100') easy. 3:15. Rock - Horsetooth summit - Wathan - Spring Creek - Mill Creek - Link - Valley - Sawmill - Loggers - Carey Springs - Towers - Westridge - Southridge - home long. Super windy out, but really mild at the same time. Just an easy cruise with three different climbs to the top.

Sun 22.5 (4,000') easy. 3:10. Ring the Rez with Eric: Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Loggers - Mill Creek - Link - Valley to Lory Visitors Center, then 25G, Centennial, 38e around north, east, and south side of the reservoir. Wind was blowing again - sometimes at our back and then sometimes fiercely in our face, especially on the east side of the reservoir. Went easy to steady for the most part, but pushed the last two hills up to my house.

Total: 91 miles (15,400').

Another good week in the books. Pretty structured again, with an interval-type session on Tuesday morning, a tempo effort Thursday morning and then two longer runs on the weekend. I don't really have much on the calendar to warrant the training, but a few things are starting to line up and, quite frankly, I'm already thinking about that all-important base for next summer.

But before all that happens, I've got the Turkey Day 4 miler here in Fort Collins; probably the most competitive road race in Northern Colorado. I've finished successively faster each of the four times I've run this race since we moved to FoCo, so I hope to keep that streak alive this year. That will require something under 21:49, which shouldn't be too tall of an order.

Speaking of race-improvement streaks and future running plans, a little pattern began to emerge after this year's Western States, where I finished third (15:50) after a fourth (16:04) in 2009. That is enough of a trend to leave me thinking hard about next June. If my calculations are correct (and I'm sure they are), I should be bringing home a cougar in 2013 in something close to a course record. But in order for that to happen, I would need to suffer through another round of cougar-less punishment next summer. Two weeks to make the call on that then.

What else? Well, I hear Dakota's been dishing out some vertical beer mile smack talk, but c'mon, I've got 20 years of drinking experience on the kid (and we will be checking IDs at the trailhead). The Grand Canyon R2R2R record is all good and well, but I feel confident in predicting defeat for the curly headed wunderkid on Dec 15 (and 10th for that matter) .

Planning on taking a crack at the Bob Graham Round when I'm back home this Xmas. It's going to be somewhat weather dependent, but if I get a nice window, then I'm definitely going to give it a shot. The Round is a tour of 47 peaks in the Lake District region of northern England, with a staggering 27,000 feet of vertical over an estimated 70 miles. Throw in some winter gnar, and it promises to be quite the challenge.

Pete and I got approval from Lory State Park for the 25/50 mile race this week, so assuming that the county follows suit with approval for the Horsetooth section of the course, then we're full steam ahead. Mark your calendars for May 12 - it'll be an ass whooping.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Week Ending Nov 6

Mon - Noon: 9 miles (1,900') fartlek. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Loggers - Carey Springs - Towers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg - home long. Felt good, so pushed hard from Herrington.
January: 440.5 miles (45,850')
February: 304.5 miles (39,200')
March: 469.5 miles (67,100')
April: 427 (62,000')
May: 509.5 (92,500')
June: 323 (54,900')
July: 303.5 (79,700)
August: 297.5 (70,000')
September: 202 (37,500')
October: 373.5 (68,150')

Total: 3,650.5 miles (617,000')
Avg: 365 miles (61,700')

Tues - Noon: 5 miles (1,100') easy. Falls long.
PM: 9 miles track. Met Eric, Sam and Kyle at the track feeling like I really didn't want to be there. Plan had been to do 2x3 or 2x4 mile @ 5:40, but that all sounded highly unappetizing. The others really didn't care what we did, so we compromised on the workout with a 1 x 2 x 1 at no particular effort w/400 jog between reps: 5:27, 10:56 (5:30, 5:26), 5:27. Really need to start pushing the envelope a bit on these.

Weds - PM: 5 miles (1,100') easy. Falls long after another big, wet snow dump.

Thurs - AM: 10.5 miles (1,400') hills steady. Out easy (40:22) w/ Slush, Eric, Sam, and Sarah, and then back pretty much solo without really pushing anything (33:58). Considered pacing with Sam at a faster clip, but decided to let him go and save things for Saturday (7:55, 7:03, 6:30, 6:31, 5:55).
PM: 7 miles (1,700') easy. Up (39:40) and down Towers with the group. Conversational both ways. Sloppy at the bottom, trudgy at the top, icy in between.

Friday - 0 miles. Had to work on a rental all day, which a tenant had kindly left in an ungodly state. Didn't even come close to finding time for a run, but made awesome progress on the house. I'll take the trade, plus I'm racing tomorrow, so the down day should be beneficial.

Sat - 19 miles with 13.1 race sandwiched between w-u, c-d. Opened with a 5:38 mile and then kind of faded from there. The mile markers on course were all over the place, so I never really got a sense of where I was on my pacing, but the effort seemed reasonably steady. However, I didn't have any real desire to work too hard once I started getting tired around mile 8/9, which tells me I'm a bit burned out on the racing right now. From the best I could make out, I slipped into the 5:50 range from about half way and stayed there through to the finish for a disappointing 1:17:low

Sun - 12.5 miles (3,100') super easy with Eric and Ryan. Rock Trail to the summit, then Westridge - Mill Creek - Loggers - Sawmill - Stout - Spring Creek - Falls. Felt pretty tired after yesterday's road effort, and found myself on the deck twice. Clumsy.

Total: 77 miles (10,300')

After a really lackluster effort at racing the half marathon distance on Saturday and generally feeling highly unmotivated at the prospect of traveling out to California in December to race myself into the ground, I've decided that I'm going to enjoy Bryon's iRunFar coverage of the TNF 50 miler from the sidelines here in Colorado. However, I am excited about other things.

We had another solid turnout at the Tortoise and Hare race on Sunday, the second in the series, with abilities across a broad spectrum, and enthusiasm for the sport at a general level of stoke. In addition, we had close to 20 runners on the Big Hill Thursday night, despite cold weather and nasty conditions underfoot. I've given up tracking those results on the blog, but we will soon have them up on the Fort Collins Trail Runners website (currently under construction), and that will be the new locale for all things FCTR.

In other news, Pete and I have permit applications in with the state and county for a 25/50 mile race that we hope to host on the trails of Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Park (aka, my backyard) in May. We had a very positive conversation with the manager of Lory early last week and are already on good terms with the county, so I feel confident in making this little pre-announcement.

We are going to use a 25-mile loop of the two parks for a total of 5,500 feet of elevation gain on 90% singletrack terrain. For the full 50 miler, runners will do the second lap in reverse and climb a touch over 11,000 feet once it is all said and done. I'm guessing that anything under 7:30 in the men's race will be pretty stout.

I won't go into too much more detail about what we have planned, but will say that we hope to make this a true celebration of the sport and Front Range trail running in general, rather than an event that people come to in order to score an early season assisted long run. We plan to be online with a website in two weeks (permits pending), and be opening registration in early December for the May 12 race day.

But, before all that happens, I've got to defend my title at the Vertical Beer Mile - perhaps the most important date on my racing calendar. Yes, the race is still over a month away, but believe me the training is well advanced.