Monday, January 28, 2013

Week Ending Jan 27

Mon - AM: 16.5 miles (3,700') steady with Burch. From my house we went: Horsetooth (Rock/XC/Audra), ridge scramble to Westridge, Secret, Towers, Mill Creek, Arthurs Link, Arthurs summit, Arthurs TH, Valley, 38e, Grim Reaper (WS100 version), home. Started out at a casual pace for the Horsetooth summit, then scrambled the true ridge over to the middle of Westridge before picking up the pace a bit descending Mill Creek. Put in a good effort up Arthurs, took in the views and then laced the descent before hitting some good turnover through the last six miles on the valley and up 38e/Grim Reaper. Felt good to work things a bit on a longer effort in the hills rather than the usual jog-fest.

Tues - AM: 8.5 miles intervals. Workout (cemetery) was: mile, 2x800, mile, 2x800, mile. Not much motivation going into this one, and a bit tired from Monday's effort, so started out easy and then notched the effort to 5k/10k once warmed up: 5:36, 2:48, 2:41, 5:29, 2:41, 2:42, 5:27.

Weds - Noon: 7 miles (1,900') easy. Horsetooth north via Rock/North Gap, down on Audra/Southridge.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles (1,400') hill tempo. Out to the 5 mile on Centennial easy with Scott, Celeste, Mike and Mary, then back at a controlled tempo effort: 7:45, 6:44, 6:32, 5:47, 5:30. Even though the splits are all over the place, they actually represent a steady effort because of the hills: net up to begin, net down to finish. Effort was approximately marathon pace, which is about as hard as I want to push my tempo efforts right now. 

Fri - 8 miles (2,200') easy. Horsetooth north summit (South - Audra - North Gap) - Wathan - Spring Creek - Falls. Another gorgeous winter's day on the Front Range.

Sat - 15.5 miles (4,000') easy. Horsetooth north summit (South - Audra - North Gap), then Westridge - Towers - Mill Creek - Loggers - Sawmill - Stout - Towers - Spring Creek - Soderberg.

Sun - 15.5 miles (1,400') racing. I love me a bit of Frost Giant. Went up to Estes Park for the third year in a row to compete in the 34th annual Frost Giant 5k/10k double. Both courses feature a significant amount of climbing, with a mix of road and cross country terrain, all starting at 7,500 feet above sea level. And I always forget about that last part until the pre-race warm up when I start panicking about my panting. Then I remember that we're a good 2,500 feet higher than Fort Collins and that this endeavor is in fact going to be a whole lot more painful than previously imagined.

After a loop of the 5k course to warm-up, it was evident that conditions were pretty much perfect: very little snow on the ground, warm weather, and maybe a clump or two fewer on the clump-strewn paddock that makes up the cross country section of this classic Northern Colorado course. Yes, there was a stiff wind out of the west, but c'mon this is Estes Park in January. We'll take it.

Right from the off, a pack of four or five of us grouped into the lead pack as we headed up MacGregor Avenue towards the ranch. And there was some serious panting going on. The pack included last year's Quad Rock 50 runner up, Jim Rebenack, friend and training partner Mike Hinterberg, and two other guys I didn't know. After about a mile, we were down to three with Jim and a guy from Boulder, Roberto Mandje, setting the pace. I was still trying to catch my breath in third, just barely hanging on. I let Jim and Roberto go as we entered the ranch and ground up the little grunter there, giving them a five meter gap as we made our way onto the cross country section of the course. I quickly bridged on the descent to the fence line with the intention of tucking in behind as we made our way west into the heavy headwind, but then I got carried away and cruised into the lead (and wind). Roberto came with me, Jim dropped off, Roberto took off. By the time we were back on the road, I was five seconds back and not feeling much like chasing. The gap grew to about 20 seconds with a half mile to go, before I finally thought about putting in an effort to catch back up. I tried but it never happened (catching back up that is). I finished a fairly disappointing 18 seconds slower than last year, but I've got a sneaking feeling that the course was a hair longer this year as the XC turn seemed to be a little further off, so we'll call it a wash.

I hung around at the finish for the rest of the Fort Collins gang and then headed out for a very slow two-mile jog with Slush and Sarah (victorious in the ladies race). And then, all too quickly, it was time for the 10k. As in years past, this one got out at about 50 mile pace with nobody wanting to get after it at all. No great surprise really, as the 10k course starts out with a big fat grunter of a hill and nearly everyone in the 10k has run the 5k. Nonetheless, and despite the extraordinarily lackluster start to the race, I somehow found myself leading and then feeling quite good as the course leveled out a bit. On the last bit of climbing up Bighorn Dr, before the descent back to MacGregor Ave, I figured I'd squeeze the pace a bit to see who had what. Nobody but Jim came with me. On the descent to MacGregor I reapplied the effort and built a small lead, before settling back into a comfortable effort and building a good 20 second pad on Jim and significantly more on Roberto by the end of the first mile of cross country. I would essentially hold that gap as we made our way around the extra three miles of pasture that made up the 10k course, before slotting into a strong push for the finish over the last mile of road. I ended up one second and one position better than last year on a course that was again a hair longer than it has been in the past.

A short jog to cool down, 5k/10k awards and then off to Ed's Cantina for brews, burgers and tall tales of gale force winds and rodent holes the size of Kansas.  
Running west alongside Devils Gulch Rd on the first cross country section of the 10k race into a heavy headwind (not pictured). All pics: Lane Eskew.
Through the woods at roughly the high point of the course (7,900')
Just a mile to go on (yet) another Colorado bluebird day.
Total: 81 miles (14,600')

Was looking for 85 miles this week, with a full 20 on Sunday, but somehow we didn't get the planned warm down in after the Frost Giant races. No biggie though. We're still in January. Based on the Frost Giant results, it would appear that my fitness is at about the same place as it was last year. I'm not quite sure what to make of that, so I guess I won't make anything of it, other than to remind myself (yet again) not to get too carried away with the mileage in January, February and March like I did last year.

Qaud Rock 25 miler sold out last week, but we've still got spots in the 50 miler. And talking of Quad Rock, we're planning an 'official' training run for April 6. This will involve: running (duh), drinking, eating, and a chance to test ride the new Pearl Izumi E:Motion kicks (see images above for a look at the N1 trail racer). We'll also have EFS Liquid Shot and Ultragen Recovery drink for pre, during and post-race.

Race number five of the Tortoise & Hare race series next Sunday. This one is a 5k starting and ending in Fossil Creek Park (I think). The race director is a bit absent-minded though, so it might actually be a 12k starting and ending in Spring Canyon Park. Check out the Fort Collins Running Club website to be sure.

Could use some snow...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Week Ending Jan 20

Mon - 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls loop.

Tues - AM: 9 miles intervals. Phew, this was a cold one. The minute I stepped out of the car and my face started hurting, I questioned my sanity. Low-single-digit air temps are not ideal for interval workouts, to say the least. Nonetheless, six of us showed up and so we got on with it. Workout was: mile (cemetery), broken 1.5 mile (3x800 with 20 meter jog between 800s), mile (cemetery), lamp post 1.5 mile (hard/medium fartlek effort from lamp post to lamp post within the cemetery). Given the cold, I kept this at pretty much a tempo effort, running with Miler Ben the whole time: 5:40, 9:00 (2:46, 2:44, 2:47), 5:28, 8:40. Brrrrrrrr.
PM: 6 miles (1,000') easy. Milner loop. Felt like I needed to shake things out a bit from the morning so jogged a nice easy six.

Weds - Noon: 6.5 miles (1,900') easy. Horsetooth north summit via north gap, Rock Trail up and down. Beautiful day with temps in the mid 50s; so much better than yesterday.

Thurs - AM: 9.5 miles tempo. Jogged to Spring Creek bike path from Maxwell, then 20 mins out and 20 mins back at tempo. Ran this one a little slower than marathon effort - 10 secs slower coming back (slightly uphill).

Fri - Noon: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth north summit via Southridge/Audra/North gap. Just another beautiful day on the Front Range. Wowzer.

Sat - 25 miles (5,300') easy. Headed down to the Springs early with Slow Aaron Marks to run the third and final installment of the Front Range Phat Ass series: Ponderous Posterior, although technically Fort Collins' 31 miler was the only real Fat Ass of the ultra series. Anyway, we were greeted with bright sunshine and balmy temps for this scenic tour of the Cheyenne Canon area. I was super impressed with the trails and vistas down in the southern Colorado Springs foothills. The country back there is noticeably more desert-like than it is just two hours north up around the Fort, and the hills surrounding the always impressive Pikes Peak are just a lot bigger, giving a nice sense of perspective to the area. The run ended up being super casual, both in terms of the average grade and indeed the overall pace, which made for a really pleasant morning of running. Ran with Pedatella, Jurek, Ricks, and Dave Phillips through the first half, before mercilessly dropping Jurek & Pedatella and continuing on with Ricks. So anyway, a super fun morning shooting the breeze with the boys and then kicking back and enjoying a few brewskies at JTs after. Ah yes.

Sun - 12 miles (3,000') easy. Blimey - a bit bruised from yesterday's casual outing it seems. I ended up procrastinating on today's run until the last possible minute, finally getting out the door a little after 11:00. My left knee, it seems, has developed a bit of old-man syndrome (a strange disorder where random parts of your body hurt for a few weeks before settling down and allowing the pain to relocate elsewhere), while my quads were noticeably sore. Just some early season seasoning going on, I hope. Anyway, started out with a hobble up Horsetooth for a north gap north summit, then headed north on Westridge/Secret, Towers, Carey, Loggers, Stout, Spring Creek, Falls. Finally felt warmed up after the Horsetooth climb and enjoyed a nice cruise around the park, before I was rudely interrupted by, and forced into polite conversation with, Slow Aaron Marks from the Falls back. Another gorgeous day on the Front Range.

Total: 80 miles (14,000')   

I fully feel like I am back in the training groove after this week. I'm still working hard to ensure that I keep things under control through these early weeks before the real madness begins in March/April/May. It felt good to get a couple of 3,000'+ runs in this past weekend, and for as achy as I was feeling on Sunday it was really encouraging to feel things open up after a couple of miles.

Quad Rock: the 25 mile loop is sold out - wait list is open. The 50 mile still has a good number of spots left, but we expect it to sell out by the end of next month.

I've got this crazy race in Nicaragua coming up next month. It wasn't part of the plan until a few weeks ago, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I'm really not quite sure what to expect from the course, but the two volcano climbs look really gnarly and I'm fully expecting a solid ass-whooping. Apparently 11 hours is the mark to beat, so I'll be shooting for that I guess.

Not much else going in my running world right now. Work is busy - and just got a whole bunch busier - which is going to add an extra level of challenge to this year's campaign, but we'll make it work. Up at 4:00 am, if I have to...

Monday, January 14, 2013

Week Ending Jan 13

Mon - AM: 6.5 miles (1,000') easy w/hill pick-up. Milner Mtn loop. Still jetlagged, I was up and at 'em early again this morning. Did a quick Milner loop, pushing the 500 foot hill from Redstone to Overhill at marathon-type effort. Felt really smooth.
Noon: 7.5 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth north summit via north gap. First summit of the new year. Went nice and easy enjoying a beautifully crisp and clear day. Packed snow most of the way, with good sections of dirt on south/west facing slopes. A little labored, but to be expected given that this was my first climb (at altitude or otherwise) in over three weeks. Felt great to get my hands back on some rock in getting up the north gap.

Tues - AM: 9 miles of intervals. First real speed session since Thanksgiving, which went surprisingly well. Workout was 4 x City Park mile (2 or 3 50ft hills per mile, depending on direction) with quarter mile jog plus additional minute or two standing rest between miles. Mile one and four were steady, miles two and three fartlek (hard, medium, hard, medium, hard on the five segments that make up the mile loop). Opened the first mile at a pretty casual effort, picking it up a bit towards the end. Fartleks I tried to really work the hard segments and recover on the mediums. The one thing I feel that I need to improve the most in my running is my leg turnover. I've just never been that fast - same story in my rugby days - so I'll be looking to really work that with form and shorter distance rep workouts (100, 200, 400) through the winter and early spring for a go at a 5k PR some time in March/April. Last mile was a bit of a slog, but I was just about able to hold form. Overall, I felt surprisingly good aerobically, if a little labored in the leg department. Reps went: 5:33 (5:22), 5:20 (5:26), 5:31 (5:24), 5:18 (5:24) (mile 1 & 3 was the 3-hill direction which is slightly over a mile (~ 1.02), and 2 & 4 the 2-hill direction @ just under a mile (.98)).  

Weds - Noon: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth north summit via Southridge/Audra & north gap. Beautiful out again. Felt a little sluggish from Tuesday workout, so kept things super easy. 

Thurs - AM: 10 mile (1,400') hilly tempo w/ Mike, Mary, Celeste, Pete and Slush. Out and back on Centennial from Maxwell to the 5 mile mark of the Horsetooth Half course. In an attempt to avoid racing the return five miles and keep this to a legitimate tempo effort, I ran this one as a progression run with a goal of running the last four miles at an effort somewhere between 10k and half marathon, with a build from the two mile to the five mile point from 50k to Marathon to HM effort. With no HR monitor, it is quite hard to regulate perceived effort on a hilly course, but I felt like I was able to run in the zones I was after without crossing the line too much; I might have run the hills a little too hard at times. Nonetheless, I think this was a more beneficial workout than jogging for five and them hammering for five. Tuesday is for the 5k-5 mile efforts, so it is key to keep Thursdays disciplined, and discipline is my mantra for the 2013 running year. This was a good start. Miles 6-9 were approx: 7:45 (up north dam hill), 6:45, 6:30, 5:50, which is 20-30 seconds  per mile slower than I typically run that stretch at 10k (ish) effort.

Fri - Noon: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls loop.

Sat - AM: 16.5 miles (4,500') easy. Hopped a ride with Burch out to Captain Corey's house just outside the north entrance to Lory Sate Park and ran Timber for an Arthur's summit, then down the rock trail to the Arthurs TH; a full Mill Creek ascent to the top of Towers, secret trail to Horsetooth's west ridge and then up for a north H'tooth summit. Left Corey and Ryan at Wathan and ran home on Southridge. Couple of inches of snow underfoot over top of some ice in places. Reasonably easy effort, but still felt a bit labored. Work to do in the hills. Super cold out.

Sun - AM: 15 miles (2,200') easy. With Pete at Bobcat Ridge on another super cold morning. Waited until 11:00 to get out in hopes things might warm up, but nah, another single digit run. Pooped out on a planned Powerline climb after doing the Ginny - DR loop, and jogged around on the valley trails for a while instead. Kinda disappointing. I'll blame the cold.

Total: 76.5 miles (13,700')

This felt like my first real week back in training. With two workouts and a couple longer weekend runs, my body can definitely tell that we're not just jogging around anymore. It's going to take a couple more weeks to really get into the swing of things again, accept the leg fatigue, the niggles, the creaks, and then you just get in a rhythm and before you know it you're running in shorts and a T again.

So, I have dubbed 2013 the year of discipline. Discipline in keeping mileage sane early in the year, discipline in holding the heavy mileage when the time comes in April and May, discipline in holding appropriate paces during key workouts, discipline in the ice cream isle at the grocery store, discipline in taking rest seriously and sticking with the plan. Last March I ran 500 miles with 450 mile months on either side and then kind of pooped out in May. This year, I want a much more controlled ramp of mileage for a properly timed peak in June. In addition, I hope to make use of the lower early season mileage by really focusing on breaking through on the speed side of the equation. I gauge this at the 5k distance primarily, as it's the most convenient race distance to jump on a race. Last year in March I ran an altitude 16:46 on a slightly long course; this March I want to get that comfortably under 16:30. If I can get there by March, I should feel confident going into the key months of April and May.

In other news, registrations for Quad Rock are bouncing along. At this point we have just 30 spots left in the 25 mile race and about 100 left in the 50 mile race. It's looking like we'll be fully sold out by the end of February at this point.

Pearl Izumi is back on board as the presenting sponsor for 2013, which means high quality form-fitted tech race T shirts, PI shoes for age group winners from the new E:Motion trail line, gear discounts at packet pick-up and opportunities to test ride the new PI shoes at the April 6 training run. In addition to PI, Cornerstone Mortgage has again stepped up as a major race sponsor, allowing us to bump the cash purse to $1,400 with the opportunity for 50 mile winners to take home up to $550 (with time and CR bonuses). We also have great stuff from Smith Optics, Highgear, Ultraspire and Runners Roost to give away as age group prizes and in the raffle, while First Endurance will again be providing a gel flask for each runner, with refills on course and Ultragen recovery drink at the finish. Pateros Creek will also be providing a recovery nectar with a batch of their special '51st Mile' English Mild for the post-race BBQ, while Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists will be on site for post race PT and massage. We're also grateful to local runners Cat Speights & Justin Liddle for their support through Cat's Countryside Vet practice & Justin's dental practice. Other fun stuff to announce as we move along, but for now things are shaping up for another fun race day.

Results from Chubby Cheeks soon.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Week Ending Jan 6

Mon - AM: 7.5 miles easy. Giles Lane - Tyler Hill - C&W - Park Wood - Station West.
PM: 3 miles easy. 2 x uni loop. Wet and windy (what a surprise).


January: 330 miles (45,200')
February: 445 miles (58,500')
March: 501.5 (79,600')
April: 430 (66,800')
May: 387.5 (70,700')
June: 297.5 (48,500')
July: 369 (71,100')
August: 330.5 (67,100')
September: 344 (65,000')
October: 211.5 (48,400')
November: 227 (55,400')
December: 245 (38,300')

2012 Total: 4,118.5 (714,600')

2011 Total: 4,264 (729,400')
2010 Total: 4,100 (655,850')
2009 Total: 3,451 (486,600')

2012 Avg: 343 miles (59,550')
2012 Summits (241):
Horsetooth (7,255') (105)
Mount Elbert (14,443')
Longs Peak (2) (14,259')
Mount Belford (2) (14,197')
Mount Oxford (14,153')
Missouri Mountain (14,067')
7 x 14ers
Pacific Peak (13,950')
Emerald Peak (13,904')
Crystal Peak (13,852')
Atlantic Peak (13,841')
Iowa Peak (13,831')
Hagues Peak (2) (13,571')
Ypsilon Mountain (13,514')
Fairchild Mountain (13,502')
Mummy Mountain (13,425')
McHenrys Peak (13,327')
Pecks Peak (13,277')
Whitney Peak (13,271')
Powell Peak (13,208')
Taylor Peak (13,153')
Mount Chiquita (13,069')
16 x 13ers
West Mount Sheridan (12,952')
East Desolation Peak (12,949')
Julian (12,928')
Stones Peak (12,922')
West Desolation Peak (12,918')
Mount Ida (12,880')
Point 12,820' (Chorier Point)
Chief Cheley (12,804')
Cracktop (12,766')
Terra Tomah (12,718')
Hallet Peak (12,713')
Otis Peak (12,486')
Mount Chapin (12,454')
Flattop Mtn (12,324')
Marmot Point W(12,005')
15 x 12ers
Marmot Point E (11,909')
Twin Sisters (11,420')
Mount Baldy (11,068')
Estes Cone (11,006')
4 x 11ers
Hidden Peak (10,992') (2)
Dark Mountain (10,859')
Lookout Mountain (10,626')
McGregor Mtn (10,486')
Needles (10,086')
7 x 10ers
Storm Mountain (9,918')
Pierson Mtn (9,803')
Lily Mountain (9,786')
Lion Head (9,740')
Rams Horn (9,556')
Kruger Rock (9,355')
Panorama (9,284')
Crosier Mountain (9,250') (4)
Emerald Mtn (9,237')
Gem Peak (9,140')
Giantrack (9,091')
18 x 9ers
Sugarloaf Mtn (8,980')
Eagle Cliff (8,906')
Prospect Mountain (8,900')
Castle (8,834')
Pilot Hill (8,829')
Mount Olympus (8,808')
Pole Hill (8,603')
Mount Ethel (8,471')
8,415' (Leila Peak)
Triangle Mountain (8,415')
Buckhorn Mountain (8,341')
Round Mountain (8,250') (4)
Palisade Mountain (8,225')
8,194' (Giant Boulder Point)
Alexander Mountain (8,144')
23 x 8ers
Blue Mountain (7,888')
Spruce Mountain (7,781')
Sullivan Stump (7,778')
Turkey Roost (7,734')
Green Ridge (7,402')
Green Mountain (7,335')
7,260' (Ziggy Point)
Red Mountain (7,105')
7,098' (Poll Mtn range)
Table Mountain (7,074')
128 x 7ers (incl 105 Horsetooth summits)
Arthurs Rock (6,780') (6)
Milner Mountain (6,893')
12 x 6ers
Morril Benchmark (5,791')
5,773' or 'Aggie Peak'
5,740' (Hwy 34 B4 Narrows) (1)
5,740' (Off Masonville Rd) (2)
Reservoir Ridge (5,735')
Goat Hill (5,604')
6 x 5ers
Aitxuri (1,551 meters)
Aizkorri (1,528 meters)
Aratz (1,443 meters)

Tues - AM: 10.5 miles (500')  w/5k race (17:09, 1st). My fourth and final parkrun race of the UK visit in the company of 7 other Clarks, no less. Ran over to Whitstable from Canterbury, picked up my old mate Jim along the way and then learned that we were going to be running an all pavement version of the course this time around due to the super soggy underfoot conditions on the Tankerton Slopes. From the off, I slotted in behind the same young lad who'd led out the run on Christmas Day and let him set the pace for much of the first lap (8:25). I led the second lap and felt myself fading up the hill and into the wind on the final kilometer and a half. Thought I might sneak under 17, but came up a bit short. Doubled back once I was done to catch up with Alistair. He ran in for a six minute PR (29:37).

Weds - AM: 6.5 miles easy. Giles Lane - Tyler Hill - C&W Park Wood.

PM: 3.5 miles easy. 2 x uni loop w/around the block add on.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles (500') easy. To Chestfield and back on the Crab and Winkle with Anthony, a local runner who'll be running his first 100 miler this summer. Anthony has been following the ultra scene for a few years now and it was interesting to hear his take on UK ultrarunning. By all accounts, the sport is currently exploding in popularity much the same way as it has been in the U.S. over the last decade. I was excited to hear that Anthony will be running the North Downs 100 this summer, which is about as local a 100-miler as there is in the UK to my home town of Canterbury. It runs point to point from Farnham in Surrey to Wye in Kent on the North Downs Way, a long distance hiking trail, stopping just short of Canterbury. The route passes through bucolically scenic terrain over gradually rolling hills, and I would highly recommend the route to anyone considering an ultra in the UK. I was actually planning on doing the Canterbury loop of the North Downs Way on my visit, but given the current ground saturation, the 45 mile route through farmers' fields and the like would have been more misery than fun, unfortunately.

Me and Anthony outside my parents house. 

Fri - Off. Flying back to Colorado.

Sat - AM: 20 miles (1,800') easy w/ Mike, Slush and Sarah. It was good to reconnect with friends on my first run back in Colorado. We ran from my house down to Redstone Canyon, which we out-and-backed before finishing up with a loop of Milner Mtn and a few tack-ons at the end to hit the magical 20 mile mark. Toe-numbingly cold before the sun hit the canyon, but just a beautiful morning once it warmed up.

Sun - 9 miles easy on the bike paths setting up the Edora Park 8k T&H course, among other things. Still jetlagged, I was up at 4:00 am and ready to go, so I headed out the door and got a run in. It was incredibly cold in the dark (my car said 2 degrees), but with no wind and minimal humidity it was fine once the internal furnace kicked in. Standing around registering runners for the race was a different story, however. Brrr.

Total: 70 miles (2,800')  

Looking at the 2012 numbers, it is (vaguely) interesting to see that I posted essentially the same yearly mileage and vertical total as in 2011 and 2010, despite the low 200-mile months through the last three months of the year. I'm a big believer in consistency over the long haul and those numbers state just that. With a mellow October through December, I feel like I'm ready to harness that three-year base and really get after it in 2013; maybe my last serious year of running and racing before looking at different ways of utilizing my energy in future years.

In other news, I'm going to be running on the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua next month for the Fuego Y Agua 100 km race. I'm excited to say the least. Ometepe is a volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua, an inland freshwater lake, with not one but two volcanoes, the higher of which - Concepcion - is still active. The course - which takes in both summits - looks incredibly challenging and fantastically scenic. I'm counting my blessings.

Ometepe Island
Volcan Concepcion 
Volcan Madera