Monday, December 14, 2009

Mid-December

Well, last Thursday I developed some sharp pain in my left knee. Pretty frustrating how this is unfolding but I'm taking some more time, about a week, to let that dissapate.

Otherwise the week was fun, capped by a nice little run at Flying J with ERC. It was good to see Leila, Jon, Mary, Roy and the others out in the surprisingly warm weather. Conditions on the trail were idyllic minus the frozen creek which reminded me why I never go ice-skating. I'm not sure what's better, half an inch of fine powder or half an inch of pine needles, either way, it was soft and beautiful.

My knee felt really sore initially, felt good, and slowly drew back the sharp pain near the end of the run. It really has been killing me not being able to get out for a long run or run hard without pain or worrying I might re-aggrivate the IT Band. I hope that after this is all over and I'm healthy I can look back and not take my running health for granted.

In about 10 days my parents will be out for Christmas and I'm holding out hope for snow. Merry Christmas World...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

No Dancing Here

Well, the 2010 Western States draw has come and gone and I'm on the outside looking in. All in all I feel OK, since I'm working even to get back to full health it's probably best in the long run (no pun intended). For now I'll reconsider the distance of February's race, I'm not sure I'll be ready to tackle an ultra that soon, but there are 17 and 35K options so I'll at least get a taste of the fun I hope. I think I'll toss out the idea of the Free State 100K as that would be soon as well, not to mention a 9 hour drive.

Here's what I feel for sure though. I think I'll for sure be out at Sageburner again, love that race. I do believe Jon and I will be headed out to Big Horn to run the 50M (Jon's first ultra) a race I'm really, really excited for. I've never had the chance to run a point to point race or a net downhill race. STOKED! Not to mention, Jon's family is in Sheridan and has a cabin just outside Dayton. I also plan on running one of the distances at North Fork, the closest race to home I'll get here in Denver. I'll be excited to get out and run some the course in spring months (Leila, you in?) Collegiate peaks would be fun, probably the 25M but I'm going to keep my options open and take my time getting back to full distance running.

The WS draw has made me consider tackling the LT 100 this year, but I want to be prepared so I'll see how my knee progresses. If I don't get in, I'll still be up there for sure pacing/crewing. For now, I'm going to consider some other late season 100's as well just in case I need a bit more time and feel good about how this is progressing. But right now it's time to shovel some snow...

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Mouth is Frozen...

Well, let's just say it's been a bit cold lately. My jaunt through the park last night was all of 13*. But there are some good things about the weather, here's my list:

*No yuppies! The only other people out are nuts just like me.
*Quiet, When the snow falls it really dampens the sound.
*Sights, man is it pretty with a light dusting of snow, really gets you ready for the Christmas season.
*Street Cred. All of your co-workers and anyone who sees you out knows that you are certainly tougher than they are...

Enjoy the weather!

On a side note my knee is feeling less tender, still slow short runs, but I'm just glad to be out right now...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Frustration

Last week I was heading out for a Sunday run and about 6 miles in I started feeling soreness in my knee again so I decided to shut it down and call it a day of 8 miles instead of 10. It was frustrating because I was feeling that I was gaining strength in that knee and I was going to be able to move forward. Then on Tuesday I went out for a chilly run after work and had some serious pain in that knee again. I decided to walk the last mile of the run and take a few days off. I only ran once in Texas, 5 miles on a pretty fun little trail actually and it felt good, sore but not the same pain I had experienced before. So I'm taking another day off tomorrow and I'll sort of restart the easy running on Tuesday and hopefully I'll be able to continue forward again.

On another note, I'll be looking forward to this weekend because it's the draw for Western States. I'll be stoked if I get in, but if I do It might change any race plans I had drawn up. If I don't get in, it might be a welcome event, as this recent soreness has made me worry a bit on the timeline of my full recovery.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gaining Traction

Over the past week I've been out logging consistent if not short milage in the quest to regain fitness and endurance. Mostly I've been in the realm of 5-7 miles with moderate to harder intensity.

This is what I've realized so far. While training to recover from injury, I need to be extra focused on how hard I'm pushing my body. Perhaps I should work on gaining milage rather than pounding out fast mile after fast mile. My knee was a bit sore after my 58 minute 8 miler yesterday (fast for me) so I've decided to let my longer runs or those of 7+ be slower than my adrenaline is telling me.

So, for now, I'm going to enjoy a bit of time to myself and get a few trail runs in before I go down to join the Fam in TX on Wednesday.

Happy Thanksgiving All...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Holiday Shopping

This year my holiday shopping list revolves around the thing I love doing most with my free time, ultra's of course!

I've decided to list a group of events that I'm mulling over for next year's racing schedule. First things first, December 5th will help shake some things out, that is when I find out if I've survived the numbers to enter Western States. I have about a 16% chance of making it through, so I'm not holding my breath, but if I don't get in I'll be able to run some races that I've really had my eye on.

Gunner and I have talked a lot about the Big Horn 50, which sounds like it just might be his first go at 50 miles. He's got family in Sheridan, WY so it would be simple for us to get in and be comfortable. It's a point to point which I've never had the chance to do but have always wanted to try.

Of course there are the two races I most want to get back to, Sageburner 50K and Run Rabbit Run. Depending on how things shake out, both could be possible.

I'm for sure (barring injury) running the Woodside 50K in Woodside, CA when Rachel, Xavier, and I head out to Salinas for a short vacation. This race I'm excited for for a few reasons, it's in Redwood forest, it's fast, and it's at sea level. The only time I've raced below 7,000 ft was in TX for my first ultra which I was grossly unprepared for. Needless to say I won't be unprepared for this one :)

My goals for this winter are to get consistent, solid training on trails. Secondly, I want to work on running long uphills which we fortunately have plenty of. I'll work on running to the top of Myers Gulch from Lair O' Bear park (6 miles all uphill). Also, I'll run Mt. Falcon from Morrison which is sufficient to kick anyone's ass. Third, I plan on getting down and running with CRUD once a month. This will help me spend some time with big time ultra runners and learn a lot. I think I'm soon going to be ready to make it down for a Saturday long run with them.

As for today, Xavier and I are going to play out in the cold. Happy trails.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jonathan's Run

Here are some Pictures from Gunner's big run at the Denver Marathon. He finished strong in 3:45ish if I recall correctly and looked as if he'd just gone for a training run. Talking with him post race there was a great line where I asked him if he could have gone faster/further. His response? "Oh, I think I could have gone at least 6 more, no problem..." Uh oh, ultra world here we come ;)


Actually, this was just prior to the first Gunner sighting, Dazbog Coffee, and PBR(s)

Dude, he totally beat Headband Guy with the sweet deep V-neck

Striding out to the line!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In the game again... Sort of

It's been almost a month since I've posted anything, and for that I'm sorry. The reason for the haitus is that it's directly followed my running haitus. I just started running again after the frustrating layoff forced by the IT-band problem. Also, just as the weekend of Zion was approaching the family rather instead took to a bout of puking where we, like dominoes made our way to puking up everything we'd eaten for the past 2 days. I got the ball rolling, with Xavier and Rachel to follow. I am however running again, not far, but I'm running. I put in about 21 miles last week and am hoping to continue the baby steps towards recovery. For now I've decided to scrap Rocky Raccon as it's too soon to be ready for and run the Woodside 50K on February 6th. We've got our trip booked to CA already and Rachel, my Dad, and maybe my Bro-In-Law Joe will run the 10K version. I should be back to a normal posting schedule if you care to follow my coming adventures into the further depths of ultrarunning...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Win some lose some

Well, I went to the Orthopedic yesterday and had X-rays taken on my left knee. I've been running once in the last week and it was painful so I shut it down and called the doc. Good move. I've been having IT-band pain and swelling in my knee so much so that it's hurting when I walk around. However, the pain is going away the swelling is a bit down now too, and when the Doc gave the all clear on X-rays I was much relieved. Apparently I've simply severely aggravated my IT-Band and caused swelling in the bursa sac in my left knee. I've been prescribed 3 weeks of total rest (no running) as well as anti-inflammatory meds and stretching.

I'm bummed because it means I'm out of the Denver Marathon (which I've already paid for) and Pure Zion. Two events I was really excited for, but if I'm honest with myself, my real goals won't come until next spring/summer so it's best that it happen now so I can get rest and recover in time to start some proper training.

This Sunday, I'll be putting all my efforts into making the Denver Marathon an enjoyable experience for Gunner. I'm crewing for him so-to-speak and making breakfast. The race starts a mere 200 yards from Gunner's front door so it'll be nice to just wake up and walk over. I'm going to pick up my race stuff anyways (I paid for it!) and now at least I won't feel bad sporting it.

In other news I got a promotion yesterday at work which was a nice little buffer to my injury set back. Gotta love those little boosts, it helps keep you going. I've had a nice afternoon in with Xavier and Gunner, and I'm going out for $1 tacos at Vine St. so no complaints here.

Cheers, Paddy J

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Foam Rollers and Soft Course Records...

Last night I bought two things.

1. New Nike Swoop XC flats for running the Denver Marathon and various other stable, flat, surfaces! Stoked, I've never felt shoes so light.

2. Foam roller.

As I mentioned earlier I've got an IT band issue and I've been rolling my way towards recovery. Did my first set last night and will continue today. I'll run tomorrow night and see how she feels, but I think this rolling business is really gonna help. I'll keep posting on how it feels leading up to and following DM.

Oh, and as it turns out I am the only and therefore fastest 24 year old male to toe the line at Run Rabbit Run! This means I have a course record! Woo Hoo! Although, I'm pretty sure anyone who had half a brain could go out there next year and break it by 2 hours! Proof is here.

Good day today, I got confirmation that Gunner will run an ultra next year... STOKED!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Eeahhh, Well, that's that I guess...

Things come up and you deal with them. The weekend and past week were intermittently filled with not so joyous and joyous occasions.

First, the bad: I've developed a bit of ITBS (Itiolabial band syndrome [spelling?]) which means I've got a sore left knee, and have been taking it easy on the leg (little to no running) and makes me wonder how it'll hold up a week from this coming Sunday at DM. Then, Liverpool lost to Chelsea which put me in a bad mood, and THEN the Chargers lost on Sunday Night Football to the Steelers. Although they did make a valiant comeback after playing horrible all game.

Otherwise, the weekend was nice. We had people over on Friday night for Tortilla Soup. I had a nice run on Saturday morning with Keith and Gunner. We took it nice and slow, and my knee felt decent but not good, leading to my decision to give it some more time. I hope it feels good come race day. I got to hang out with Xavier all day on Sunday, and that was fun. Went to the park and Target to get him some winter pants. All in all it was a good day (minus all of my sports teams losing).

For the weekly total, I made it all of 15 miles, felt poor the first two runs of 5 and 3 miles, but better the 7 miler after a few days off. I'll continue that, do some stretching and rolling while taking Ibuprofen to reduce some swelling (not much at all, but just to get it all). So the best thing to do is rest up and not worry too much about it I guess.


***late addition***
I forgot to mention that Keith shall be hence be known as my elite ultrarunner paced short distance runner friend. Sorry Keith, I will not make the mistake again...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A bit too much!

The past week was mostly spent recovering from Run Rabbit Run, but I had committed to running a 22 miler on Sunday, just a week after a 50 miler! Someday, I hope all these newbie mistakes will pay off in a truly kick ass performace that doesn't leave me hobbling!

I ran about a mile and half on the Monday after RRR and felt just beat down, again after my antics a few days prior I wasn't expecting anything else.

Tuesday I rode my bike down to my buddy James' house to proctor his CFP exam (only the big one left buddy!) and continue recovering by drinking Coke and eating cookies.

Wednesday I managed to get myself out the door for my first short run of 5 miles which didn't go as poorly as I had exptected and started feeling good about 4 miles in so the run ended feeling great. I soaked in a nice hot bath afterwards to continue to loosen up my hamstrings which had been really tight after the race.

From then on I took off, doing no running with the intention of hitting 22 with Gunner on Sunday. When the day came, I was not feeling great in the legs, but decided to give it a go anyways. We started off too quick but settled into a good pace about 3 miles later. The highline canal trail is easy, smooth hardpack trail with little elevation change so we were cruising along and chatting. About 10 miles in my legs started locking up a bit and I made tough work of the next mile to the turn around. We stopped and stretched a bit because I was cramping a bit and wanted to work it out.

What I realized about 3 miles later was that my legs were just beaten down, sore and achy. I shouldn't have made it out this far, it was too soon. In any case, I gave the Garmin to Gunner and told him to finish off after we agreed on a meeting spot. I just shut it down, jogging and walking back to mile 20 (19 for me though as I cut the trail on the way back). I was a wreck, not in a bad way, just sore. I need to be more specific in my recovery procedures.

So far, I've not run this week, but plan on playing some BooshBall a bit later tonight and maybe a short run. I'm going to ease right back up to the Denver Marathon with no taper whatsoever. Don't need it. I need to get back to a steady slow routine with gradual increases, and I think I have just the time to get ready for DM.

I'll be getting some new shoes this week and tomorrow I get to officially put my name in the hat for Western States. I have been getting that butterfly feeling in my stomach today just thinking about it. I'm ready *I think* to commit to such an endeavor...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The View From Steamboat

I thought I'd post some pictures from race day and the rest of the weekend, some of them are from our little camera, and the real action photo's are from Leila's husband Mike who was in the action just outside of Dumont! Thanks Mike! Enjoy:


Our little home for the weekend


Hanging out before the race!


Coming into Dumont 2 (Photo curtosy Mike DeGrave)

Little bit further on! (Photo curtosy Mike DeGrave)

Leila coming to the line! (Photo curtosy Mike DeGrave)


Running to the line with Xavier!


Happy to be done :)


Nothing short of the best! A finisher's award!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Race Report - Steamboat 50/Run Rabbit Run

The mountains were on fire.

At least it seemed as such; it's fall in Colorado and there are few places that show the beauty of fall colors in the Rockies better than the Yampa Valley.

Rachel, Xavier, and I made the 3+ hour drive from Denver to Steamboat Springs Friday afternoon and were treated to sprawling high altitude prairies turned to impressive craggy peaks. As the land started to undulate a bit more, and the colors started to pop, we came upon what had to be Rabbit Ears Peak, and a sign listing Steamboat Springs 26 miles away fit the plan. So after scoping out Gondola Square (where all race events would take place) we drove just outside of town to check into our little cabin we'd rented. It's a neat little place with kids play areas and right next to the river.

After getting settled and playing on the slides for a while, we drove back over to The Bear (think ski lodge) for a briefing and packet pickup. I dropped off my drop bags that I had planned on using. Two: one for mile 13 to leave my jacket and grab some "Just Plain" GU, and the other to drop my Camelbak for a handheld. I wouldn't end up using the second, but plans are made to be ruined. Fred, the RD, gave an extended briefing and threw out all sorts of goodies from Black Diamond headlamps to Smartwool products and even a 2 night stay in a suite for next year's race. There must have been 30+ giveaways no joke. I landed a pair of Smartwool PHD socks during the sock throwing portion of the giveaway, but alas they were woman's size large, so I gave them to a lady sitting near me.

Throughout the meeting I sat with Leila and Mike DeGrave, friends I've made through Ultrarunning who live up in Evergreen. They were able to meet my wife and son which was really cool. Leila and I also ran the Silver Rush 50 up in Leadville, both of us finishing our first 50 miler. So, after the meeting was done, we said our good byes and headed for bed.

My alarm woke us up at 5 AM, and I rolled over, slipped on my clothes and walked out to the bathroom. After making sure I had what I needed we got the little man loaded up and packed into the car. We were quickly back to the square, so I grabbed a kiss and headed to check in. I was set to go, or was I? I realized as I got to the starting line that I had not eaten breakfast. We all make mistakes, this was a big one, but I pounded a GU just as we were sent climbing into the darkness.

Run Rabbit Run is brutal, that is a fact. The first 6 miles are uphill; 3500' to be exact. Imagine standing at the base of a ski area, looking up and realizing that's what you're about to run up. Perhaps like Western States, I'm not entirely sure. It's nasty. I mixed in running with power hiking and had a great time taking in the view once the sun came up. Really, the course is spectacular, with the most fiery aspen colors on this opening 6 miles. It was upon reaching the summit that I realized that the deadness in my legs I'd previously mentioned wasn't gone. In fact, I just didn't feel all that great, and I let it go to my head.

Normally, I would consider myself a fairly mild tempered and rational person, but for some reason, only 6 miles into this 50 mile race, I was doubting myself. I've never doubted like this since my first ultra, I was already wondering if I had the stones to finish. It was in the midst of one of these bad mind games that I had my first "moment." One moment I had just made a move to distance myself from a few folks and the next I was falling. I landed fortunately in the less rocky section of a fairly technical downhill section, and I landed face first wondering what happened. So, I did what all utrarunners do, I picked myself up and kept going. I was sore, but the pain helped submerge my doubting thoughts, well until I ate it again! 12 miles in, 2 falls. As I type, I'm so-o-o-ore! I'd managed 2+ years without falling, now it was twice in a day.

From then on, I tried to focus on finding a groove and getting comfortable. It never really came, but the trail leading out to the rabbit ears was really something special and I tried to take it in. We passed 3 alpine lakes and a few streams which took some care to step on rocks without falling in. Really the middle portion of this course is extremely runnable, and a few spots offer the speedsters over a mile or so of flattish terrain.

By the time I made it into Dumont 1 (mile 22) I had already noticed the signs of bonking. I think this had as much to do with my lack of steady training going into the race as it did not taking in enough calories. In any case, I was unable to run strong, and had to take frequent walk breaks. Pushing out of Dumont I knew there were 3 miles to the turnaround, but looking at the Rabbit Ears on the way into town made me wonder about the possibility of the climb being tough. The course profile must have not included this climb (seriously, I'm not making it up). It's by far the steepest portion of the course, and the last 500 feet or so are super tough, steep enough to make my Cascadia's slip out on a number of occasions.

Regardless of all the work I put in, I got to the top and had to come right back where I'd come from. Not long on the way down, I saw Leila and gave a big hello, she was looking strong. Then in my way into Dumont 2 I gave a big smile for Mike as he was photographing the whole race, he was everywhere! From here on however, I had a rough go. By mile 30 I was in full on blow-up mode, my legs were shot, and I could hardly run. My body was not happy, I tried eating and drinking to get some energy, but what I got in its stead was sloshy stomach. I plunged through Long Lake aid, grabbing some watermelon which allowed some relief for my stomach, but the short high I got was relieved again my the debilitating pain in my legs.

Somewhere on the latter half of the 4 miles between there and the next aid station I was caught by Leila, she was cruising and was kind to slow for a bit while we talked. I did my best to keep up with her, and quite honestly it really lifted my spirits. It was nice to see someone you know when things are going poorly, so I tried to match her pace and keep in contact to the next aid station. From there I knew it was only 13 miles to the finish. When we came into the aid station, I was well taken care of, had my Camelbak filled and sat on a log to chug a cup of Gatorade. Leila cruised out of there strong as ever, what a great run! I on the other hand, just started grinding out my way to the last aid stop. All I knew was that the last aid stop meant 100% downhill to the finish.

This is when I started to have those short bits of recovery and "I'm gonna make it" spirit to power out some moments of brilliance. Believe it or not, I turned out some of the best bits of running in the 7 miles to that final aid station. I would walk a few hundred feet, then take off flying, pushing through the pain and reciting my mantra "gotta be strong, gotta be tough." This really helped make up some time. I also started doing math in my head. I had figured that if I made the final aid by 3:00 then I could still break 10 hours.

When I got there, the lady with the cowbell said, "welcome, it is now 3:18, what do you need?" To that I replied,"I'm good, thanks." In my head I thought 6 miles, 42 minutes, downhill. I can do it. I was flying, absolutely hammering. Here I passed about 4 people in the first 2 miles, and I kept at it. Unfortunately I started laboring badly with just about 2 miles to go and was forced to walk backwards a while before continuing on. 6 miles and 3500' of descent will beat the shit out of your legs. I was hurting, but I knew it was only for a while and I wanted to see that finish line so bad. Coming downhill there were a few spectators out giving congratulations and I was able to take in the moment a bit.

This ultrarunning business can be quite unnerving and emotional, but I held back the tears. A short moment later I saw the line, and more importantly I saw my wife and my son waving to me. I was STOKED! I ran down, grabbed my boy and jogged across the line to a huge group of spectators! It was so cool, there were probably 100 or more folks not to mention the hundreds of people out for Oktoberfest cheering me! In a short span I shook hands and gave congrats to those who finished right around me before heading into the bear to get some lemonade, a slice of pizza, and some beer.


Truly for me, this race was fun, I enjoyed my time out on the trail even when it sucked. It was so beautiful, the smell of fall in Colorado is not something to be taken for granted, and the perfect weather was just icing on the cake (especially since it's snowing now!). More than any of the other races I've done, Run Rabbit Run has the most beautiful course of all, by a long way, and really showcases Colorado's forest.

So, after going back to the cabin, showering down and taking a nap we headed back to the bear for more pizza and awards. It was really cool to just sit around chatting with new friends and hear the stories on how everyone's day went. Walter the city councilman actually took a wrong turn and led a guy from Spain all the way to US-40 where they hitchhiked back to the start (bummer!). It was all good natured though and the Spaniard picked up the inaugural "dumb bunny" award for following an American politician! Apparently he asked multiple times if they were going the right way and Walter kept saying yup! Ryan Burch took it home again in a killer time of 7:26 (!) so he'll be back next year to defend again.

I managed to cross the line in 10:09, not bad considering my shenanigans out there on the course. I'm happy with how it turned out. Leila killed it all the way in to finish in 9:55! Congrats Leila, that's awesome!

I have some pictures from the weekend I'll try to get up as soon as I can! I also think I'll reflect again on things I've learned and compare it to my post Silver Rush sentiments... but that'll be a few days. One thing's certain, next time I won't forget to eat breakfast!

Til then, I'll be hobbling along!

Patrick

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pre-Steamboat Update

Thought I'd write up a bit about how I feel physically before driving up to Steamboat tomorrow. I feel better, not running this week has been tough mentally, but the deadness in my legs is starting to subside a bit and I'm hoping that I'll have the natural spring back in my legs before 6 AM on Saturday morning.

Otherwise I feel good, physically I've got no aches or pains. Nothing that I'm worrying about, which is good, I can wait to deal with that until mile 30!

Mentally I'm sort of in the place I was at before Silver Rush, but with one minor difference. I'm not scared about the distance. Funny, I know. But really, 50 miles is 50 miles is 50 miles. Now with the good potential of 100 hanging over my head in February and June, the point seems as Joey would say, "moo." Like moot, but different. Better. I've read Karl Meltzer saying "100 miles isn't really that far." I think that's a good way to look at things; not a disrespect, but a different perspective. If you're always looking at a certain distance or challenge as unbelievably hard, it will be. If, however, you convince yourself that you are hard core, and that anything is possible. It is.

Weather for race day looks to be ideal (but this is Colorado right?) with 40's in the am rising to the mid to lower 70's. Good day to pound some trail... For Gunner - My selected mantra will be out of a prior post, "gotta stay strong, gotta be tough." It's 50 miles through the Rocky Mountains, and it shall be as Denny Green has said "what we thought they were." Hopefully...

Until Sunday evening or Monday morning, I'm signing out.

PJ

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Gamble, A Chance

I've never done a steep taper before, never severely chopped miles, but I can't say that again! This past week's total tips that scales at a mighty 22.5! Whew! Needless to say I'm just wiped, torn to shreds (insert sarcasm font). But to be perfectly honest, my legs do feel just a bit dead, but I digress, I'll explain that later. More along the way of not having the time or energy, this week and last weeks running were fortunately placed that they could be considered "tapreing".

I got up to Green Mountain with the intentions of running 2 laps, but with the approaching lightning storm, I decided it was time to head home. Good bye 30 mile taper week, hello 22! Actually, it may have been a good decision because I find it hard to not push the pace there, it's just so inviting the last 4 miles, like the trail is saying, "you can do it, just a little faster!"

I spent the other runs/hikes this week focusing on what will be a very important factor: the opening 6 miles. To do this I ran/hiked twice up some really steep stuff with Xavier on my back and was actually able to establish a good rhythm. Not to mention he LOVED it! He'll be an ultrarunner before I know it. I know that the distance is 50 and to focus so much on one aspect, especially so early on, is a bit foolish. Still, the biggest most significant climb by a LONG way is the first 6 miles, roughly 3500' of ascent. From there is seems, I repeat as I have yet to go there, SEEMS to be relatively moderate in terms of gradient. So, by not killing myself, setting a good tempo, I should be able to really focus for what I feel will be the telling signal of my race: miles 28-44.

I think that those miles are mostly uphill, but never steep, thus I could fall into an easy habit of feeling like I'm moving along, but actually going absurdly slow. I don't think I'll make up a huge block of time that final descent, I think I can hit it solid, as that's the strongest aspect of my running, but still. I want to be able to run well for miles 28-44 and stay steady. As I've never done it yet, that will be my biggest task. That and of course the mental aspect, gotta stay strong, gotta be tough.

I've got one other motivator, since this is a young race (just 3 years old), I've got a chance to set an age course record. For the first time ever, a 24 year old male will toe the line, actually 2 will. All I've got to do is beat that other one and I'll have my first (and probably only) CR. I know it's not a real big deal seeing as it's probably not going to be fast, but it will be cool for me.

So, here we go. Only one thing is certain, I'll be coming down that final 6 miles way out of control with all guns a-blazin'

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stars and Cars

Quick update here. Two things I'm excited about:

Number 1. Gunner and I went out for a night run on Wednesday which was pretty great, the run was nice and easy with a decent effort on the uphills. But the kicker was the observation point on the about 1 mile west of where Lair o' the Bear Park runs into O'Fallon. We stopped and watched the stars, chatting on life mostly, and it was really cool. Looking out at virgin Rocky Mountain forest with absolutely nothing but starlight was pretty damn cool. This will become a more normal occurrence after a very short discussion on the matter.

Number 2. I've booked a slot for Gunner and I at the first ever Pure Zion trail running adventure this November in Springdale, Utah. I am SO stoked for this, it sounds like the perfect weekend running vacation. Check it out at:
http://www.wildernessrunning.com/index.php?page=pure-zion-2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Consideration

Admittedly, this was (again) not a great week of running for me, but I had planned on it being poor all along. I've sort of fallen into a fall relapse from hard running, and for the first time it's on purpose. I have no great plans to run an impressive time at the Steamboat 50; I would just like to come back home in one piece under 11 hours. My goal is to go moderately hard up the initial ascent and see what happens from there, hopefully holding on to a 10 ish mile pace for as long as possible and then, who knows. I could see myself matching my 9:14 from Leadville, and I could see myself pushing 11. My training has been lax, but fun, sort of what I've meant it to become this time of year.

I was in Wyoming for the majority of the week and prior to that I had my inlaws in town, so my running was very minimal, and when I looked back at my week, it was 25 miles total with a longest run of 10 miles. I've started though, to shift my focus from numbers, as I've found that it just adds pressure to my routine that is not needed. As a 24 year old husband and father of a 16 month old child, I've got enough pressure to deal with.

I guess I can take this time to explain also why I've planned to let my training slip into a less intense state. The reason is that I've all but signed up for the Rocky Raccon 100 in February. This along with some other non-decided races, will be a hopefully strong attempt to get my butt in gear for either Western States or Leadville. The 100 mile mark is something that I've been getting more and more excited about, to find out what it's like for the next 50, what it'll take to drag my butt across the line and hopefully get a sweet buckle. I've continued to wonder what I could have done post race at Silver Rush, I was more composed and felt better then than I did finishing any of the 50K's I've done.

With that said and a long winter seemingly on the way, I'm excited, for this upcoming race, and for the not so far out future.

Cheers all,

PJ

Monday, August 31, 2009

Back in the Game

This was a good week of training and I do feel a bit fried from the effort. Sort of a good fried though, sore, not hurt.

Tuesday was a good reflection of some of the tempo work I've done, knocking out fourteen miles negative split with a really hard last mile effort.

Took Wednesday nice and easy with Rachel and X at the park, and Thursday was a moderate 10 without much effort.

I was able watch my wife race on Saturday morning, which was great and for a good cause. The E-Race Homelessness 5K and 10-K was put on by some top class people and turned out some quick times, I think the top 2 males broke 16:30 and there were at least a few 10K'ers that broke 36 minutes. Better than I (WAY better).

Sunday was a day for me to get in a long run, and Gunner and I headed over to Golden to run up the saddle, but about a mile in we were hunkered down by lightning and thunder which brought out some impromptu speedwork and a 6:50 mile back to the car where we booked it out of there.

I was really bummed because I had been looking forward to that run all week, and I'd already run twice on the Highline. But any run with Gunner is a good one and we were chatting and laughing for a good portion of it. All in all it was 49 miles for me, most at a decent pace, and though I had intended to break 55 miles, I feel that the effort I did put out was more than worthy... Wyoming this week, here I come!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Life's other Adventures

Sometimes life changes things up. Such was the case this week. I had known going into the week that I was not going to be able to run Saturday and Sunday due to one of my really good friend's bachelor party in Ft. Collins Saturday night. Intending to take Monday off I errantly missed Tuesday's run for some good catching up that needed to be done with my aforementioned friend over a Guinness.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday brought out medium runs with decent pace minus Friday where I felt horrible, pukey (not sure if that's a word), and slow.

Wednesday I ran twice, once with the Runner's Roost and then again by myself at the park. Thursday was 4 loops at Wash Park where I almost lost my mind but ran faster to get the "looping" done with and felt good about my fitness. Friday had an OK run at work on the treadmill next to a big boss lady who is really cool.

Saturday I allegedly did some running after last call. I will neither confirm nor deny any actions. :)

Total running: Measly 33 miles.

Big week coming.

Also side note, bruised the bottom of my left foot pretty bad. Sat and Sun helped, will take today to finish icing/rest and hit it back tomorrow.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Stars Align


What a great week of running! Saturday I went out with the Evergreen Runner's Circle at Flying J and brought the wife and little man. It was a good run, with a decent turnout. Mary was back for the first time in a while, Joanne, John, and Norm all joined in as well. John's gearing up for Leadville next weekend, good luck man! It was a fun run, did a couple loops with Xavier in the jogging stroller and capped it off with a run by myself in the opposite direction.

Sunday saw Gunner and I heading off to do Evergreen Mtn. from the Dedisse lot. It was a great 16 mile loop run with some great climbing and moderately technical descent. Weather was perfect, nice and cool with a slight breeze and we didn't have to use the headlamps too much because of all the stars. On the way down we decided to take a loop around the lake because we'd cut the trail up in Alderfer by a few miles and it was a wonderful decision.

Coming around the south side of Evergreen Lake, just past the boarwalk, it was starting to get pretty dark but as we passed this man I just caught a glimpse of a man and I knew it had to be. It was Rusty, a great member of the ERC who's been gone for quite a while. He'd had some trouble landing a teaching during the end of last school year, but went up to direct his summer camp, so no one had seen him for a few months.

Turns out, he had just gotten back into town and landed a sweet teaching job in Golden, CO. This makes me super happy for a number of reasons, mostly because Rusty is one of those guys who just GETS IT. Running, life, and everything else. He's bursting with passion and is as nice a person as you'll ever meet. We ended up catching up and talking for about half an hour before we decided to head back home.

On a side note: Rusty makes the best pancakes ever. EVER. Seriously. If you told me there were better pancakes, I would tell you that you were a liar. Because that's what you would be.

My week in full:
Monday: Off
Tuesday: 7 mi @ Cherry Creek Res
Wednesday: 8.5 mi @ Matthew Winters Park
Thursday: 7.5 mi @ Green Mountain
Friday: Off
Saturday: 9 mi @ Flying J Ranch
Sunday: 16 mi @ Dedisse/Alderfer

Total: 48 (all on trail!)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Purity Week

Let me explain.

A normal week has me running trails once, perhaps twice if the goods come around and I can manage to get out.

However, this week has seen a shift, as ALL of my runs have been and will be on trails. Wonderful. I ran at Cherry Creek Res on Tuesday, Matthew Winters (see pic) on Wednesday, and again last night at Green Mountain.

Both the C.C. and GM runs were quick, pushing the pace sub 8ish minus the real climbs at GM which were right around 10:30ish pace. However, the MW run was awful. Not in the fact that it was on trail or hard, just how I felt. I mistakenly drank a protein shake prior to running in the heat (90ish) and was miserable. I pushed the pace hard up Zorro (1 mile/900 feet) and was zapped at the top. I trudged through the top of the hogback, was humbled up Red Rocks trail and was just grinding through the Morrison Slide uphill.

I had the awful bloating sensation. It was bad. Yet funny in retrospect. I chatted with Jon as we were heading out to GM last night about the ill affects protein shakes can have if you drink them pre activity. I was laughing so hard I almost choked.

In any case. Life is OK now, a bit busy with birthdays, weddings, batchelor parties, and the like. Otherwise, it's life, enjoy it.

And run trails.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Not-So-Bloody Sunday


[Photo is of Black Canyon in Gunnison, CO]

Today was a truly wonderful day to run. We had warm weather, but not hot, with a nice cool breeze to help you along. I joined my friend Hillary for her long run (20 mi) on the first and last 10 miles of the Boulder Backroads Marathon course. Now, typically I'm not one for running on roads, but most of the BBM course is run on dirt roads, so if you're gonna do it, do it that way. She wanted to go for a slower steady run as she's getting into final preparations for race day at BBM in a little over a month. We ran 9:18's pretty much to the T the entire way, and it was filled with beautiful scenery and some surprising rolling hills. Certainly the hills were not tough, and I didn't feel taxed on any of them, but it would be hard to go out and run "fast" on that course comparatively to others I've looked at. I felt fresh the whole way, actually only feeling "good" after about 16 miles and our run finished right at 3:03:00. I think I'm mostly recovered from Silver Rush, only a few signs of sluggishness to remind me it's only been 2 weeks since I first ran 50 miles without stopping.

I'm excited now for Steamboat, and I'm going to start ramping up my preperations with some kick ass climing starting next Saturday. Anybody feel like knocking out 20 miles with 7,000' of gain next weekend? I'll be slowly making my way up Mt. Falcon 2 times with a variation of trails interconnected.

For now, my week in full:
Monday: 7 mi @ Green Mountain
Tuesday: 0 mi ~ 1 hr Bike
Wednesday: 7 mi tempo (almost pooped my pants, don't do speed work after dinner)
Wednesday: 1 hr Bike
Thursday: OFF
Friday: 10 mi @ Cheeseman park, including BBQ/Beers(2)/Jurassic Park movie in the Park
Saturday: 0 mi ~ 2 hrs Soccer/1 hr Bike
Sunday: 20 mi @ Boulder Res

Total: 44 mi + 3 hrs Bike

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Looking Back


A funny thing happened today as I was flipping back through Photos of the Sageburner 50K. I saw this photo, it's just after you hop off the 100 meters of road during the race and climb back up into the sage.

This was why I initially recognized Harsha during Silver Rush, I had run behind him for a while during the race and he wears Addidas road shoes, the kind with bright colors on the sole, so that's what I remembered first.

My buddy Kyle snapped this shot, and by chance captured an oddity. How small this ultra world is!

On a side note, I did speedwork for the first time in months yesterday and I'm feeling good. I think I'll be ready for Steamboat; I'm taking care to review what worked and did not work for me at Silver Rush and I'll be much better prepared this time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Moment of Brilliant Light

Last night Gunner and I cruised out for an evening run at Green Mountain just out of Lakewood, CO. The air was cool from the late afternoon rain we had just recieved but warm enough for shorts and a tee. I decided to break out the Saucony Grid A2 racing flats that I've been using for roads and give them a run at some rocky trail. I've been contemplating going straight to a low volume shoe for trail running and wanted to get a feel for what it might be like. Starting up Box o' Rox trail I took the front spot because Gunner had yet to run here and settled into a good climbing pace, we'd run uphill for about 1-2 miles to start the run and my legs were finally feeling recovered from last Sunday's mauling. Up and up we went through the cool frontrange air until we crested near the top of Green Mountain.

We stopped to take in the view and watch the city lights. It was clear and you could see from Parker to Boulder; we chatted about the perfect breeze, the lights, and the potential for good wiping material as I had forgotten TP. In the end we decided it would be best to just hold it as there was nil in the way of large leaves. Back on the trail we picked up the pace, and though I didn't have a watch I'd put it quickly somewhere around 8 minute miles. Both of us were feeling good and we talked conversationally while the sun set over the Rockies. Getting on Green Mountain Trail we coasted down, took a right and flipped on the headlamps. We'd have rolling singletrack all the way back to the car and we confided in the hollow pattering of footsteps. Miles passed quickly and we were back at the car before we knew it; I felt as if I could run forever. It was a short run, but one of my favorites in recent memory (7 miles, in about 1 hour).

Here was my last week of training, a small reverse taper:

Monday: 2 miles - Stiff, sore.
Tuesday: OFF
Wednesday: 5 miles - Wash Park Loop, heavy legs
Thursday: OFF
Friday: 5 miles - Wash Park Loop, quicker but still heavy legs +2 hours cycling
Saturday: OFF - Crankworx Colorado!
Sunday: 7 miles - Harvard Gulch Park and Wash Park Loop - winded/slow, heavy legs

Total: 19 miles

I'll be back into a normal training week this week.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some things I've learned

Others prompted me to make a list of the things I learned while running 50 miles the first time. It's a great idea, so without further adieu, here's my list:
  • Train harder than you'll be racing - I should have done more hill training to be stronger on the later hills.
  • Buy a thin rain coat - I was close to hypothermic by the time I finished and it could have been avoided by a simple rain jacket. This could be a Colorado thing, but seriously, get one.
  • Have dry/warm, comfortable clothes ready at the finish line - Another thing that would have been way better. Preparation is key. Possible items include sandals/dry shoes, socks, t-shirt, sweats/shorts, jacket.
  • Mix it up - one thing that really helped on the long climbs was mixing in different styles of walking. I twisted a bit to the side and stepped over, this helped engage different muscles in my legs.
  • Stay positive - the hardest points of my race were when I was embracing negative feelings; be it my legs or general exhaustion. What helped was thinking about all the reasons I had to finish the race: my son, my wife, all the hard work I'd put in, it would be awesome, etc.
  • Just keep moving - This is easier said than done, but when it hurts, you just need to keep moving. Walking is ok, stopping doesn't get you anywhere.
  • Smile - This goes along with staying positive, but when you smile, you're more likely to have fun. When I was stuck under the blowing over tent with volunteers, I smiled, and the enthusiasm helped me run out of the aid station and embrace the adventure.
  • Take it in - Running 50 miles is cool, enjoy the ride. I ran for over 9 hours through the most amazing scenery this planet has to offer, what a cool thing to do for a day.
  • Thank people - The volunteers at ultras are top notch, they deserve your gratitude. The guy who took my bottles at the last aid station and filled them, and then the guy who joked and talked with me while I tried to eat a GU were really helpful and left a lasting memory of why I do this. I love this. People are more genuine in the mountains, life is easier, more simple.
  • Be simple - Work hard, train hard, love your family hard.
  • Follow your dreams - I realized that I want to do everything in my power to take care of my family. I want to live where I can smell fresh air, where my neighbors can't see in my windows from inside their home, where my son can play on the trail and in the dirt instead of with video games.
  • Buy a visor - I think it would be nice.
  • They say that being a parent prepares you for anything, and now I can say that it's true. What I failed to mention in my race report was that I got SUPER BAD chafing where my shorts liner fell on my skin. Down there by the boys (sorry ladies) I have 2 big scabs now, but they're better than they were. After the race I had a hard time walking because of the chafing (and the sore legs) but my son's diaper cream took all the pain away. SERIOUSLY. It was amazing. I'm not afraid to say it, runners with chafing problems need to buy diaper cream, you'll thank me later.
  • Make lists - This really helps!
So, I guess I have BurtonRW from my frequent forum for this. Thanks Burton. I've learned a lot from those who've been there before, and I'm going to try to continue to respect this most amazing sport by learning as much as I can and never thinking that I know it all.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rocky Mountain Revelation


Sunday July 26th marked the 2nd annual Silver Rush 50 Mile Trail Run in Leadville, CO. Rachel, Xavier, and I had driven up to Silverthorne on Thursday to spend some time in the mountains while staying at a great cabin that belongs to my brother in law's aunt and uncle.

The alarm went off Sunday morning sharp at 3:55 am and I dragged myself downstairs to drink some coffee and have a peanut butter bagel for breakfast. At 4:30 am Rachel and I were on the road to Leadville (the X man staying behind with Ann and Ray) and not 15 minutes into the drive the rain started to fall. Throughout the drive the rain became progressively harder and was pouring pretty good when we arrived at the starting line. Rachel waited for a few minutes and then left me there at 5:30 so I huddled under the tent with a few other runners until everyone started piling in.

At the start of the race (roughly 10,200 feet above sea level), all the runners were under the tent about 20 feet from the line until over the loud-speaker came 5-4-3-2-1 and we all scrambled to the line to be a bit frightened by the man firing a huge shotgun just after the anouncer finished (this is Leadville of course). All 170 or so of us started our dash/hike up dutch henry hill which has no trail and is basically just scree at a 20% gradient for about 100 -150 yards. I filtered somewhere in the middle of the front group only to be quickly dropped into about 30th-ish place once the race really got under way.

The first 2 miles are rolling with flatish sections and it lulled me into a false sense of security because the next 8 miles are uphill to just over 12,000 feet. Through this stretch I grouped up with Harsha from Team Crud, Jennifer, and one other runner (sorry, I forgot your name!). This was actually a great time for me and I chatted to keep myself from pushing too hard; come to find out Harsha had been at Sageburner too. Here I recieved the best possible, most simple line of advice I've ever recieved. As we were running Harsha turned and said, "you know, in these things, you really have to run your own race." It resonated, and about a mile later, I let the three of them pull out ahead as I mixed in more walking than they had.

When I reached the first aid station at mile 7ish I ran straight through with the plan to skip ever aid station until the turnaround at Stumptown as I had a 70 oz bladder in my pack that also stores 2 20 oz bottles on the sides. This plan worked to perfection as I had just the right amount of water to get there. Near the top of this first big climb the pitch is very steep and rocky, so I took my time and popped out on top feeling good. From here was a 3-4 mile downhill to Printer Boy aid station that I went through at 2:26 flat for 21st place. Continuing on there is another long section of downhill on really fun singletrack. The bottom of the hill marks "Oro City" where gold was first discovered in Colorado.

Climbing out of Oro city is tough, steep, and long. I ran into Nate from Texas who was having a rough time, and not carrying any liquids at all. We talked and ran for a while together but he told me to go on and he ended up dropping later on (it was a tough day). I was starting to feel the altitude a bit when we got above treeline and I came into the 3rd aid station alone, continuing to the last summit on the way out (or so I thought). As it turns out this is a false summit as you come off, descend about 500-600 and then get shot right back over at 12,500 feet. The descent to Stumptown (the turnaround) is seriously steep and hard to run at least until it flattens out about 2 miles from the base. Here I had a hard time running into the aid station and was passed by a few people.

When I came in I was at 4:24 for 22nd place but was quickly passed a few times on the uphill back out. I had grabbed an orange slice and filled my bottles so I went to work on the hill but struggled to hold any sort of "hiking" pace and logged a couple miles in the 20 minute range. After reaching the summit I had my first "holy shit" moment as I contemplated the 22 miles I had left. Not one to sit and ponder, I kept going, putting one foot in front of the other. I had a long descent back down to Oro City but my quads were already starting to pound in pain so I couldn't push as hard as I would have liked to. On the climb back to Printer Boy I had to walk pretty much the whole way and was passed yet again. Halfway up the climb there was a huge crack of thunder that had me worried (if you've ever been in the Colorado high country during a storm you know). Immediatly it started pouring, sometimes so hard you could only see about 15 feet in front of you, and then it turned to pea-sized hail which hurt like hell.

I jumped into the P.B. aid station for the second time at 6:36 for 25th place. It was hailing and windy, so windy it took a volunteer on each post to keep the tent upright. I put on a long sleeve and gloves, grabbed a pb&j square, topped off my bottles and jumped out into the middle of the fury to keep going as best I could. At the start of the final climb I was caught by John from Georgia and two others, and at this time I was beat. I felt like someone had beat me up, and then put my quads through a meat grinder; I was seriously doubting my ability to run the last 10 miles. However, as fate would have it, the cold wind and rain numbed my legs and I started to feel ok as I turned onto the downhill 10 miles to the finish.

I decided in my mind that I wouldn't let anyone pass me on the run into the finish and I could hold my spot in the top 30. I pushed it and was running around 9 minute miles, but by the time I reached the aid station I realized I had a shot to break 9 hours if I hustled (though my math was a bit off in my state of mind!). I held my 9 minute pace until I say the girl who passed me just before it started hailing; it was the first time I got the "hunter" feeling. All day I had been passed, only catching people at aid stations just to be caught again. I was going to give it everything I had. For me, I put the hammer down and started running my ass off, right around 7:50 miles and I quickly caught the first target, but I kept pushing. I was not going to give in until I passed out or hit the finish line. Less than a mile from the finish I caught Jennifer (and her funny friends who were out encouraging her) and then John from Georgia about a quarter mile from the line. I pushed hard over the final climb and ran hard through the line crossing at 9:14:22 for 24th place overall just 26 seconds from the 2 guys ahead of me and placing in my age group (if only the race had been just a bit longer!).

I was elated, a bit teary eyed, but mostly cold! I was congradulated by everyone including Harsha and his family, and went to find my fleece which had been sitting out in the rain. I had beat my goal of 10 hours, but also beat my wife and son to the finish line. They arrived 40 minutes later and I was shivering, purple lipped, and sort of coherent. I quickley shed my wet clothes, put a parka on, grabbed my bratwurst and we headed back to our cabin. My first 50 miler! I'm still sort of taking it in, but I can't wait to do it again!

A look back at my training leading up to Silver Rush:
6/8 - 6/14 : 52 miles
6/15 - 6/21 : 60 miles
6/22 - 6/28 : 45 miles
6/29 - 7/5 : 61 miles
7/6 - 7/12 : 40 miles
7/13 - 7/19 : 35 miles
7/20 - 7/25 : 10 miles

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Packing and Hoping

I'm drinking a protein shake while I write this post and desperately trying to remember what I've left out of my bag for the weekend. In just a few hours I'll be heading up to Silverthorne to spend some time at altitude with my wife and son before the big showdown on Sunday. I'm excited. My coworkers pretty much stopped working when I told them I was taking Friday and Monday off to go race 50 miles in the mountains. Mostly, I don't think they understood, but that's ok (not many people do). What do I hope to gain from this race? A finish. Some more confidence. It'd be nice to have a bit of swagger back; something I haven't had since collegiate baseball.

Wish me luck, I just may need it.

Happy Trails,

Patrick

Sunday, July 19, 2009

tapertapertaper

This past week has been tough on me mentally. I've been a bit grumpy and moody in the middle of my taper. I would like to attribute that to not getting a trail run in the week prior. I HATE not getting into the mountains, it's one of the things I look forward to most. Add on the fact that my family was in town from Friday through Monday, we were crazy busy. This week has been a bit of a wind down week as we all recover from the socializing. On a whim I decided to enter into the Evergreen Park and Rec 10 mile race at Alderfer/3 Sisters park. This place is one of my favorite places to run and my main goals were to stay fit (not get hurt) and put in a decent effort that didn't over tax my legs. I think that I have succeeded in that. I ran a 1:31:33 which for me is a pretty good pace, though I did have some stomach cramping issues after only about 4 miles which was somewhat scary, but I walked it out and did some stretches to alleviate the problem. I think it was attributed to the stupidly fast pace I went out with, looking down after about 1 mile and I was on 5k race pace. Albeit it was mostly downhill, it was dumb nonetheless, so I really took the foot off the gas from miles 4-7 and just cruised back to the finish line. I'm glad that this happened though, because I think it will help me stay within myself next week in Leadville. Overall, I feel confident and nervous about the upcoming race, mostly excited to see how things will pan out...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Update!

I've been pretty busy as of late and haven't gotten around to writing an entry. Since the middle of June I've put in some good training runs. The week of June 22-28 found me with 3 hard days back to back to back starting on Tuesday. I did 13, 13, and 19 (the latter of which was intended to be 25). During the 3rd day I got lost on the side of Red Rocks park and ended up way off the trail I was attempting to find. I felt totally defeated and my body felt pretty beat up as well. So, taking the advice of a friend I decided it was better to take some rest days and try to put in a good week after recovering, after all it's best to show up to a race a little under trained than a little hurt.

This past week was a queen week for me, 3 weeks out from Silver Rush and a bit of nerves are starting to act up! Monday I ran home from work and Tuesday I ran in, both runs being sluggish in nature and I was questioning myself quite a bit. Thursday's run at Horsetooth Mountain Park in Ft. Collins probably would have been better if I didn't eat 8 strips of bacon right before I left. I almost puked 2 or 3 separate times on my way up to the Rock, but felt good for the last couple miles. The highlight of the last 2 weeks was my long run Saturday morning with my new friend Leila who I met though runner's world online and we ran 23 miles on the Colorado trail from 285 to Georgia Pass and back. Along the way we crossed fields of indian paintbrush, lupin, and some yellow flowers that were blooming. The final push brought us to the summit of Georgia pass that had amazing views of Breckenridge below and A-Basin. It was really nice to have some company for a long run for once and we held a good pace throughout.

Ultimately, I'm feeling nervous but confident about Silver Rush and I'm sure that I'll be having some trouble handling my own thoughts as the race comes nearer. Luckily, I've got my family coming into town this weekend and that should help curb the antsy feelings... 19 days left until my first 50 miler...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Windy Saddle


One of the most fantastic places to run in the greater metro area is a series of trails that begins right across Highway 6 and the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. This convenient location made it easy for me to be on the trail by 6:15 and all alone. Starting from the beginning of Chimney Gulch trail is a demanding task as the trail really hits you in the face with steep climbing for the first 3 miles.

As is usual for me, it took me a while before I was even awake and I ran/hiked the majority of the first 4 miles pretty slowly before I began to get in a groove.

After reaching Beaver Brook trail, I used my best focus to get through both boulder fields and navigate some extremely hairy cliffs. From there I really got into a smooth rhythm and drank in the beautiful scenery. Turning onto Clear Creek overlook I had to pinch myself to be sure I wasn't dreaming. It was almost like the final chapter of Peace Like a River where the fields are full of wildflowers and I was running through them effortlessly. There were loads of Columbines, Indian Paintbrushes, and Lupin scattered through the high grass as the view cascades out over the canyon walls. Turning back up Beaver Brook took me right to the peak summit of Windy Saddle where I took in some views and started back.

I ran into a few folks on the way back, more than a few that were startled by me running on their hiking trail as well as a few mountain bikers after I got back on Chimney Gulch trail. Before long I had made it back to the smell of hops and I could feel myself being lifted back to my car. I thought a lot about how cool it would be to hold a race here and run a huge out and back to Chief Hosa. Overall it was a wonderful day that was capped off by a visit from some old friends. My buddy Jacob and his wife Caellin are in town for the summer, or at least in Ft. Collins, so I'm stoked to be seeing them some more.

My week in Full:
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 13 AM, 13 PM +/- '4000
Thursday: 5 in a heat suit
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 20 +/- '6200
Sunday: 9 flat trails

Total: 60 miles, my biggest week ever.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Back to the real world

This past week was a tough one, going back to work is never easy. But I ended up ok, got in some decent mileage and got back on track for Silver Rush. My week of running went as follows:

M 5 easy
T 5 moderate
W 5 hard tempo
T 7 easy
F 5 easy
S 18 moderate +4400 mostly at '8100 Trying to get more altitude before Leadville.
S 7 recovery

For the most part my legs were actually really sore all week, this could be due to not taking a day off which I always do. I'm gonna take tomorrow off for sure and at least another day this week, but I'm going to try to push the mileage up to about 55 for the week.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beaches are a good thing



I ran a bit the last few weeks, went on a honeymoon in Mazatlan, and ate lots of octopus. Rather than post a bunch about what I did, it was simple, I ran to the hill out in the distance every morning and then sat on the beach all afternoon with my wife. It was awesome.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Race Report - Sageburner 50K

Having never been to Gunnison before, I was really excited to see the town and hang out for a bit. As there was a mountain bike race the day following hosted by 6 time Leadville 100 MTB champion Dave Weins, the town was in race mode with adventure seekers in abundance. I had convinced my buddy Kyle to come out for the ride and we set up camp just outside of town in the Dry Gulch camping area. The weather forecast called for scattered thunderstorm and rain showers throughout the weekend with highs in the low 60's, and it did not disappoint. We were lucky to have set up camp quickly upon arrival Thursday evening and got to work cooking up some fajitas in style.

Friday morning we headed back into town after breakfast to check out the little downtown area and grabbed some coffee at The Bean, a local coffee shop we would eventually hit up 4 times in 3 days. After some great joe we walked the main strip, dropped in a few shops and headed out to see Hartman Rocks and get a feel for how the race was to be set up. I was really impressed with the layout and was glad to be able to see the last few climbs of the course before the final descent to the finish line (though I would underestimate the technicality of the trail). After a short jog around to check out the terrain we headed out to the Black Canyon to see some sites and hike around. Gunnison truly is beautiful and the Black Canyon is not to be missed, we stayed for a few hours taking pictures, eating lunch, and taking in the beauty of the canyon. Soon enough it was time to head back into town for some carbs at Mario's Pizza. The pizza was delicious (double pepperoni Chicago style if you care to know) and was washed down by a Mirror Pond Ale. Then it was off to camp to catch some z's before the race.

Race Day:
I woke up at 5:50am and immediately started taking inventory; making sure I had everything I needed. I had premade two water bottles with GU20 and stashed 5 GU's in my bag. After checking the temperature I decided to toss a light long sleeve shirt in my bag just in case (I would've added gloves, but I forgot them at home). It was chilly, maybe high 30's low 40's and a bit of drizzle. We quickly packed up and made it to The Bean at 6:30 for coffee and a bagel with peanut butter. I began to visualize the race and my strategy there and grabbed a few cups of water before we headed out to Hartman Rocks.

The start area was buzzing with anticipation and the runners really turned out for this year's event. Last year the total finisher count was at 64 between both the 50K and 25K, this year however the race had filled to capacity at around 175 racers total. I caught a glimpse of the oldest runner in the field, Bill Dooper, at 74 years old he seemed ready to go with bright blue tights and a matching jersey. At 10 til 8 everyone started lining up and I was near the front, eventually ending up next to local studs Duncan Callahan and Tim Parr (it was the last I would see of them until the award ceremony).

As the gun went off, I filed back into about 40 or 50th position and began the first of many climbs and tried to get into a groove. The first 5 miles or so were pretty bunched up as the 25K runners wouldn't split off until 5.5, which meant I had to slow down on some of the rolling descents and push a little harder on the uphill sections to keep my position in the line. After the break I was suddenly alone as the 7 runners directly in front and behind me were all doing the 25K. I could see 1 or 2 runners about 500 yards ahead of me so I started to get into a better groove. At mile 8 the course dips out onto a road for 100 yards or so before taking you back up onto the single track. This was where I caught the first runner who was ahead of me, I remember him passing me early on, but he seemed to be struggling with some of the uphills which were muddy or rocky, but always tough.

10 miles in I caught a preview of how tricky and technical this course was going to be as there was about 40 feet of boulders and rock face to navigate and I ended up using my hand quite a bit to stabilize myself as I scampered through the rocks. At the next aid station I caught two other runners in front of me, and I quickly filled up my water bottles and took in some GU. I made it out before one of the runners and passed the other on the long gradual uphill out of the aid station. Following that was a long rolling downhill section that took you right into the nastiest section of the course. It was sort of a shock after the downhill section, but there was a figure 8 style 1.5 mile loop that demanded all of my attention to escape without falling or breaking something. This is the same course that the mountain bikers would tackle the next day and I was constantly thinking to myself, "holy s***, you've got to ride your bike down this?" I was shifting and jumping over logs dodging nasty boulders and a few times taking multiple rock dropoffs by simply jumping from one to the other and praying I didn't misstep.

Coming back out of this death trap was a steep, rocky, jeep trail that zaps the legs so I took in some more GU and washed it down. From here was another section of rolling single track and yet another descent through a beautiful aspen grove. But what goes down must come up and the sun had come out to heat up the course a bit so I took more fluid and tried to even out my pace. I hit the next aid station and the awesome volunteers met me down at the bottom of the hill leading up bringing Gatorade and filling up my water bottles. I chowed down on some potato chips and m&m's and took off again up the rocky switchbacks. From here the course follows a rocky ridge line for a while and I was made sure to be focused again as yet another technical rocky section warranted a sign for mountain bikes to dismount for their safety (and for good reason), it was steep as hell and solid rock.

Making it out of this section I was caught off guard as I suddenly heard someone behind me. I had been alone without seeing anyone for 10 miles and this guy came out of nowhere to pass me. We were probably at about mile 21 or 22 and I was starting to feel my legs tighten up to that familiar dull pain returned to my thighs. I hadn't planned on the technical nature of the course (at least the constant technicality) and I had probably over exerted myself early on. None the less I decided to push the pace when I could and run as much of the hills as possible. At the last aid station I made my one big mistake, taking only one water bottle for the last 5 miles. The final stretch of the course is pretty much one smaller descent, two biggish climbs, and one steep descent back down to the finish. I started to really struggle up the last hills and I was clearly dehydrated as I staggered through some really technical, rocky uphills and somehow survived without dying.

As I summited the final hill, I could see the finish line, but still had some work to do as the last mile is down what the locals call "collarbone alley" as it claims many a collar bone during wipeouts. I somehow made it down the hill with out falling and swervingly ran through the finish line where I promptly staggered, and fell over. Luckily my buddy was there with cold Gatorade and I was brought back to life in a few gulps. The nice volunteers came over and gave me congratulations and my finisher shirt. My finishing time was 5:17:55, which put me in 14th place overall, 11 minutes faster than my last 50K which was on a far less challenging course.

Overall, I felt that this race was awesome. Gunnison is gorgeous and the race was well organized with some amazing competition. Tim Parr ended up winning in 3:46, and I came away with an age group victory (because Tim and Duncan finished in the top 3) and a really cool handmade mug with "Sageburner 50K 2009 20-29" engraved on the side. I'll be back next year for sure, this was one of my favorite races I've ever done.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

PR week!

This was a fun week. It all culminated today with Xavier's 1st birthday, which he slept through the first 45 minutes of! We had fun, it was all just family and a few close friends. However, the day started with Rachel, Robert (my father in law, Dr. Bob), and I going out to Golden to run a 5K. Both my wife and my father in law love running short distance road races and had planned on doing this for a while. A few weeks back I thought I'd join in the fun and make it a whole family affair. It's a small local school benefit race so the competition wasn't very deep and I took 7th place overall. I didn't want to run really that hard, but I did sort of want to make sure I beat my father in law who was coming up from sealevel. In the end I ran a 19:59 (a personal PR) and Rachel ran a 24:35 (a personal PR). Robert ended up finishing between us at 22:28 (far from a PR for him as he is a big time runner and has been for a long time now).

For the week total that left me at 50 miles:

M: 5 Miles easy on the Highline trail with 1/2 mile pickups to finish
T: AM: 13 Miles to work PM: 5 Miles around Washington Park
W: Rest
T: 17 Miles at Deer Creek Canyon, 2x Red Mesa and Eagle Point
F: Rest
S: 5 Miles around Washington Park easy
S: 5 Miles including my 5K PR of 19:59

I had a great time during my long run on Thursday. I wanted to push the pace and see how my race effort would feel like, how my legs would respond by pushing on tough terrain. The run turned out fantastic as I managed to hold down 9:33 miles with 4790' of elevation gain. I'm excited and hoping to run really well this coming Saturday. I'm planning on not tapering really for this race and just do some normal days before the race.

If you want to see race results for today's 5K (to check to see if I'm lying!) you can go here:
http://www.boulderroadrunners.org/results/GALLGROVERES.HTM
Rachel was 36th overall!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pre-Race Contemplation

10 days until Sageburner and I'm really starting to itch. I know that this happens every time I race, but still I thought I'd be better prepared this time. I get anxious. Not nervous. Not scared. Anxious. It's annoying because I can't control it, and I truly think that all things in life should be savoured, sort of like that first cup of coffee in the morning. Smooth. However, with 10 days to go, I find myself wishing it were here already so I can run it and get it over with. I really don't want to think this way, and I certainly am not trying to run these races to put a notch in my belt (it would look like a scratch really anyways). I want to take in the whole experience, the race, the post-race, mingling, the mountains. I still think that it will happen, and I'm gonna be up in Gunnison for the rest of the weekend with 2 friends. I haven't been out with the guys in over 2 years. It will bring back some freshness that I feel I've been lacking, and I fear sometimes I may take that out on others, my family in particular. In any case, there are a few things that make me think that this anxiety may go away. Most importantly, my son turns 1 this Sunday and we've got family coming into town that I haven't seen in quite a while and for that I'm grateful. I still can't believe that I've been a father for a year and I'm not 25 yet. Also, my wife, father-in-law, and myself will be running a small 5K the morning of the party and it will be really fun. I've been really happy to see my wife start to really enjoy running, she's so damn cute when she hops out the door. She'll be heading for a PR hopefully, and certainly I will be as well. I haven't run a 5K race since I first started running for fun 2 1/2 years ago and I think my PR was (and I guess is) 23:22. Now I can run a 21:00 without sweating and I'll probably shoot for 19:59 just because, though I'll back off if I don't feel well. No reason to get hurt in a 5K. In any case, I'm glad to be running, I'm glad it's warming up, and I'm really glad to be alive and well.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Two Weeks Out

I think it's funny how the body responds to time off, both good and bad. Last week I did my long run to Bergen Peak, which was a long hard day, then I ran Mt. Falcon the next day and my legs were tired all week. This week, I decided that I needed to stay within myself and only do what I feel is easy on my body. With the Sageburner 50K two weeks from today, I thought it wise to not push it and make sure I was able to toe the line with fresh legs. That said, I still got a good week overall. Here's how it broke down:

Total: 50 miles

Monday: 3 miles, slow recovery with Rachel and Xavier
Tuesday: 17 miles, 13 on the way to work, hilly and consistent, 4 post work on highline with R & X
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 20 miles, Green Mountain and it was a warm beautiful day *NEW SHOES TOO!
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 10 miles @ 7:24 pace, consistent good effort but not really working hard, gives me outside hopes of BQ'ing soon, maybe at Boulder Backroads...
Sunday: Mother's Day, gonna be with the fam all day, might go for a hike!

Running to work on Tuesday I felt sluggish, I had pushed really hard at the end of last week and it was still wearing on me. Regardless, I pushed through it and made it to work in time to take a long hot shower.

Thursday's long run was a tough one. I hadn't planned to go out and do it but I've been trying to make more family decisions and ask Rachel which day works best for her as I head out the door for a few hours. In this case I was a bit under-prepared and I only had 2 GU gels to my name. I decided to take a few bananas and call it good, only one problem with that. As I was leaving early as it was, I decided to fill up my camelback that night and strap the bananas to the cinch tie. In the morning I grabbed my bag, noticed it was a bit wet but didn't think much about it (that was stupid mistake #1). When I got to the trail head I shook out the jitters and threw my pack on and headed out. About 5 miles in I reached around to my pack for a banana and they were gone, I hadn't bothered to check them to see if they were secure before I left (stupid mistake #2) and they were no where in sight. I made a decision to just keep going and ration my GU gels. However, about 9 miles in I noticed that my water supply was gone, the lightness of my pack didn't trigger anything in my head until it was too late (stupid mistake #3). Luckily, I was at one of only 2 places on the trail where you can divert into a neighborhood and I took my chances. As I neared the first house, to my delight there were two people on the deck. I asked them if I could use their hose to fill my water and they said that was fine. It was like a dream, the water came out of the spigot ice cold, and I filled my 70 oz bladder to the brim and took off again. The remaining miles were much better, one hard push to the summit at Green mountain and then a lot of rolling single track back to the car.

When I finished, I downed a liter of Pedialyte and a protein bar while I hopped in an ice bath. I felt great. I think I'll be able to keep up a good pace for Sageburner, and I'm starting to get really antsy. But for now, I'm going to spend all of tomorrow with my 2 biggest fans:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Sunrise at Bergen Peak


Total: 55 miles

Mon: 5 mi 5K at 5K race pace
Tue: 12 mi easy
Wed: 7 mi moderately hard
Thu: 5 mi trail run +2200' pushing the little man (see pictures on the trail running partners thread)
Fri: Rest
Sat: 21 mi trail run to Bergen Peak +5700' felt good, strong on the latter half, should get another one of these in soon
Sun: 5 mi trail run +1300' pushing the little man (REALLY SLOW)

This was the biggest week I've run to date, and I can feel the heaviness in my legs. The good think is that my legs are just that, heavy, not hurting. I took an icebath Sunday night and that was the best decision I made all week. The Saturday long run I got in was really good, it was a chilly start and the fog reduced visibility to about 15'. To be honest it was such dense fog that I took two wrong turns on my way up to Bergen Peak trail, ending up at the upper parking lot once, and almost back to the lower lot the second. Once I woke up (it was 5:30am) and got on the right path I settled into a moderately slow climbing pace I started to liven up. The trail gets more technical the higher up on the Peak you get and I needed to stop and tighten up my shoe as I felt my left foot start to develop a hot spot while sliding around a bit in the toebox. I took in 2 GU (just plain) gels and drank some GU20 near the top as I was trudging through the packed snow at the summit.

Once I turned around I began tearing down at a blistering pace. The one aspect of my trail running that I feel is really accomplished is my ability to run smoothly and extremely fast over technical terrain. I think this comes from my mountain biking days and learning how to pick lines on the fly. The descent is long and steep and I felt a bit out of breath as I got back to meadow view trail. From here on out the trail is rather non technical with only a small amount of climing. I met up with Roy and Joanne from the Evergreen Runner's Circle for the last lap and cruised in at comfortable pace. I'm excited for May 23rd in Gunnison and I think I'll be able to turn out a good time, probably better than Prickly Pear despite the massive difference in terrain and altitude.