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!


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.


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:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


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,