Sunday, August 29, 2010

Week ending 8/29

Well, pretty frustrating day for me overall. Turns out I'm a bit more worn out from last Saturday than I let myself believe and perhaps should have turned in for some rest instead of pushing through. Really, the long run today should have been the capstone to a decent block of training for Steamboat in 3 weeks, but what it did was create some doubt in my time goals. I bailed at 18 miles and just sat in Bear Creek for 2 hrs, which while fun, didn't accomplish what I had hoped for in 28 miles today. The wisdom in my head says that it's better to show up to the start line a touch under-trained than a touch injured. 80 miles on the week.

I'm trying not to let this go to my head, I know that the miles I put in and the summer of running I've turned in so far is a show of forward progress. I have done some great work, seen some really lofty goals come down by putting in the work necessary. I took over an hour off my PR at 50 miles (actually more, since Silver Rush is a short course), ran a decent half marry half-assed, and stayed healthy.

I have 3 weeks to tune up for Steamboat, and I'm going to start by taking two days off in a row, something I haven't done in a long time, but something I feel I need to do in order to be able to put in the quality miles to sharpen up. I'm not a high mileage guy yet, I think I wanted to become one this summer because it sounded good and everyone else is seemingly putting in huge miles. What I've come away with is that I am still a work in progress, I was not a runner until about this time 2 years ago. Since then I've gone from trying to run my first ultra on 40 mpw, to racing a 50 and logging some much higher mileage.

Being able to juggle family and everything else is tough for me, but I love my family, and won't do anything to sacrifice them. Today, I spent some quality time with my son playing in the river along with "uncle Jon". Jon is my training parter (I've dragged him along on long training runs before he even cared much about running) and he's been the best companion one could ask for out on the trail and in life. Xavier is lucky to get so much time with him.

Tomorrow, I will start my taper by playing some footy over at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Thank God that Liverpool won today, because the Padres were swept by the Phils and without that, my sporting world would have been 0-3.

Time to rest and finish my beer.

Monday, August 23, 2010

She Speaks to Llamas - A tale of pacing the Leadville 100

Here is my long account of pacing 50 miles of Pb. Leila surely has a slightly different take, but essentially we got it done.

The day did not start out wonderfully for pacing duties, with the heat and dust of the disastrous aid station that is Winfield (too much to say about that, but for another post) and Leila was going through as she would call a "low point" which makes sense after coming over Hope then having to fight cars and dust on a crappy dirt road for 3 miles. Prior to the day, I had received a spreadsheet detailing everything we'd need to take from every aid station and the basic plan for each stop along with projected splits. Here at Winfield, we were about 30-40 minutes behind the split for a big buckle. After a bit of fumbling through and not being sure of what to bring for the grunt of Hope Vol. 2 we hit the road back out where I had my first job as a pacer keeping my runner safe by slapping the hood of a truck so as to not be run over.

Side note: I like the term "my runner" as a pacer because it gives you some sort of ownership of the run, weird yes, but important to the mindset of being a good pacer, something that was sort of trial and error as the day went on but I feel as if we got better and better. More to come on this, including my mistakes and triumphs as a pacer.

Coming out Leila had a bottle of Perpeteum drink (her preferred liquid calorie) and I carried 2 bottles of water in addition to my own hydration pack with supplies. Down the road about a mile, Leila needed a pit stop which I took as a good sign, my running was getting adequate fluid. My goals as a pacer were to (1) keep her safe (2) get her to the finish line (3) hopefully come away with a big ass belt buckle. Hydration was a key to goal 1. Back at it again and making the start up Hope we got into a strong power hike. Leila is actually a far superior hiker than I, and she was rocking the climb to start though we hadn't spoken much to this point and her audible interactions had been less than reassuring to me.

The climb back over hope was just crappy to be honest, it was congested with people coming down and going up, we kept leapfrogging people in a continuous grunt up the seemingly never ending pass. Near 11.5K' Leila asked me to take the lead and we chatted a bit shortly about her race so far. Here I really started to notice that the tone in her voice and inflection had changed drastically (this I jokingly related to her a long time later) as I assume her energy levels had taken a huge hit and effort was near max. Near 12K she called out to me, which I took as a sign of warning, though she related that she was "happy". That was all, though I assumed she meant either that running 100 miles was cool, or that we were near the top of Hope. Again, her voice sounded sort of loopy, but we reached the top and I was stoked to be headed down to Hopeless aid station, but this took some time with the technical and loose aspect of the trail. Refilling bottles at the aid station and another pit stop, Leila started speaking to the Llamas (of which we spoke of earlier on the way up), things like, "hello llama, how are you?" This meant one thing to me, we need to get the eff down this mountain and back to more manageable terrain/altitude.

The way down Hope back to twin was slow but steady going, Leila making apologies for not going fast enough and me trying to assure her that everything was fine, and we're just trying to find a pace to hold steady. Once near the base of the climb, we got going much better and talking more, though it was mostly me rambling about the year and trying to keep her engaged. Soon, the Leila I know came back, and the cheery voice replaced the confused sort of quiet and harder to understand voice from up on Hope that was speaking to animals.

Across the stream and the slew of other water crossings, we made our way through the marsh trail (not really a trail, but just matted long grass and swamp) to Twin Lakes inbound (10m for me, 60m for her). I was carrying a radio and had given instruction to her crew (Hubs/Bro/Parents) for all matter of things to be set up. There was some confusion (note: my first big mistake) and I ran up the road to help get stuff ready for her, but she was not expecting that and I didn't clearly articulate that I was going to, combine that with the Zoo that was Twin Lakes, and she was confused coming through, not sure where we were until I ran back to lead her in. She was a bit upset (and quite understandably so) that I had left her, but we were soon at the chair changing her socks and getting her food bottles set up. This stop was all chaos, the sock change took what to me seemed forever and we spilled water all over her extra clothes (she didn't really notice that which was huge). Finally, after gathering sleeves and everything else we started back through the tent, then engaging the climb out of Twin.

Coming up the trail we got into a strong hike/run and were greeted to a "lookin' good" from Chris McDougall of Born to Run fame which was a bit odd, but interesting none the less. Whether that was the fuel or the fact that we were starting to catch and pass people in groups now we were moving, moving really well. The trail coming into Halfmoon was rolling uphill then slightly downhill and we were really rolling despite Leila's feeling we were still moving too slow. In reality, this is where we started to earn that buckle.

Halfmoon was my favorite aid station, there were no crews and it was efficient and friendly. Leila used the bathroom and I was treated like gold, they filled my 3 bottles in split second and had the drop bag ready (radio man set that up about 50 yards prior to the aid station) so I could make another bottle of Perpetuem grab some Powerade for myself and be ready when Leila was done, and we were gone. This is where I started to really get a good feeling and sense of grasp of my duties as a pacer. Now that it was dark and headlamps were burning, I had thought going in that I would get sleepy and tired, however, from this point forward I became hyper-focused.

The dirt road from Halfmoon to Treeline was fast and we were rocking making solid time and looking forward to keeping it on track. This was the point where I realized we still had a great shot at making it in under 25 hours. We basically needed to go 30 miles in 8 hours, easy with no miles in your legs, but never a lock with 70 miles already gone (and 20 more than ever before). Treeline meant we had crew access and that was great, Leila wanted her capri tights and we got fresh water/perpetuem and a long sleeve for her and were gone when she was finished changing. The crew stops were now getting faster and more efficient as we kept going. I think this had to do with being able to radio in exactly what she wanted and Kevin and Mike being ready and quick.

Treeline leads to the road section, easily a crappy section in a "trail race" because it's not dirt. However, roads are faster and we continued to run strong here. This was also the only time I stopped to pee (I did a far better job making sure L was stocked and nourished than I was keeping myself going, in fact, I myself ran out of water 3 separate times including the last 14 miles, but this is not important as I was fine without it). Once we got to the low point on the road, the wind picked up and we had a strong and cold headwind, so we went Tour de France style and Leila lined up right behind me so I could block the wind, then off my shoulder as the road turned up to Fish Hatchery. We ran all the way up to Fish Hatchery and were rock solid again with time. Leila ran up to the turn around aid, grabbed some powerade and headed back down to the cars. I had made sure we had her requested item (mix of redbull, emergen-c, and water), but also made sure we had a bottle of perpetuem because it was the one thing she seemingly could get down and would get down, along with another bottle of water.

We walked out of Fish looking forward to Powerline and being off the road, but I forgot potatoes so I had to run back quick and grab those and get back to Leila so she could eat and get ready for the climb up Powerline. Once down off the road, I led the climb and really tried to push her, I knew we'd still be close to time and wanted to make sure we didn't lose time dallying on the climb. This was about the only way I forced her to go faster than she was ready to, but she always responded and though the pace was quick, we got through the steep stuff and she seemed to be doing much better, running pieces and passing people.

After we finally topped out on Powerline (the climb is so frustrating because of all the false summits) Leila had another rough stretch, I believe this was due to calorie lull, basically a short period of not taking in enough calories caused a section of time of low energy which in turn does not promote optimism. She had not realized we came away from Fish with perpetuem and was glad to hear we had some which helped a bit and she was able to take that in slowly. Someone passed us here, and she was pretty upset, not wanting to be passed (this was awesome to me, just a fighter instinct at its core, 80 miles in, feeling rough and the one thing on her mind is not getting passed) I tried to remind her that she could only control what was going on with her and that the best thing to do was to focus on taking in calories. This to me was super important, she was having a tough time running the downhill on the rough road leading off Powerline in the dark. When we did this 2 weeks earlier, she was at the front of the group nailing this section, but with fresh legs you don't realize the difficulty of seemingly "fast" sections that tired legs will give you.

We made it off that section and onto the better grated dirt road, then again onto the singletrack above Mayqueen. This section is deceiving in a number of ways. First, it's technical in they daytime, making moving through at night 80+ miles in really dangerous, and the noise from Mayqueen aid bouncing off the lake made it seem way closer than it was. I convinced her that we needed to take it easy, and make sure to hike quickly so as to not end our day on that trail. This was the keep her safe part, a broken ankle and we would have been toast, obviously. However, she was able to keep up with me (me moving in a fast walk, averaging about 16:00/m walking, we had a purpose and I was going to make sure we had a shot at that big buckle). We radioed in for gatorade and that was it, then ran strong down the road into Mayqueen. One of the best things I did was get her through the tent and out as fast as possible, we didn't stop for anything. She didn't notice, but that place was a deathtrap, it was warm and there were runners all over the floor and in cots. I knew we needed to keep moving and get back out, so we got through, she used a bathroom and I got a bottle of gatorade, dropped a bottle with Kevin and Mike and we were back on the go. Basically, we did not stop for anything but a bathroom here.

I convinced Leila that we could powerhike the entire section to to Tabor Boat Ramp because it was more technical and we could make up time on the other side of the lake, I did the math in my head and knew for the first time that we were going to get that big buckle as long as we kept moving. I had Mike and Kevin set up 2 Gatorade bottles because that's all she wanted now and I knew we could make it from then on in with her only taking in fluid calories. The stop at Tabor was all about the crew efficiency at it's finest. We had now done this enough to know that we had exactly what we wanted and were gone, Leila did not stop at all going through here and all I did was pick up bottles make a few comments to Mike and Kevin and get back up the trail to Leila.

Route finding was tough as always on the Turquoise Lake trail because there is no real defined trail and at night it's even tougher to see. I realized my light was going dim but just as that occurred we hit Matchless boat ramp, caught a bunch of folks and Leila used the bathroom while I swapped batteries on my headlamp. She got out kept rolling as I finished, and then I was back in business, my light was rocking the trail like it was noon again! We were super careful on the short powerline trail coming down off the lake because it's nasty and steep, but from there we ran strong, me blocking another strong cold headwind and then we were along the railroad, then to the bottom of the boulevard. This is the last steep climb and we set a rocking hiking pace up that thing, probably as fast as the night run 2 weeks ago.

By this time, the cheery Leila was back in action and we were basically in celebration mode knowing we had done the hard work and we were coming home with plenty of time to spare for sub 25. We chatted with a guy going after the Grand Slam but along with a group of about 7 others, we left them behind because Leila's pace was too hot. To the football field with a mile left we picked up Mike who came down to run it in with Leila. From here, she picked up the pace, and picked off everyone in sight and held off a late charge by another guy. I was super proud of her for going sub 25, even more so for being behind on splits, having a rough time even through 60 miles, but then smashing her projected splits thereon in to make up all of the lost time.

The finish line was awesome, she ran through and got a few quick pictures, but the race staff grabbed her and ushered her to the final med check where she was basically within a pound of starting weight which was awesome, but I think her core temp had dropped a lot. She ended up in the med tent under blankets for a while to warm up before we hobbled back to the cars to grab some sleep at her cabin.

Again, huge congrats to Leila for rocking the crap out of the LT100. Full results here. Leila was F6 and 80th overall!

This is what I learned most about being a pacer: make sure your runner is tough as nails. Never once was there any hint or speak of not finishing, EVER. While there was a short period where we thought we might not make sub 25, it was short lived. Congrats to all who toed the line at 6th and Harrison, truly a brave and heroic act in itself.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quick Note on Pb

Full report to come, but some highlights:

Unofficial results here. Lucho 6th overall. 8 of top 10 from CO.

Leila was 6th female in 24:36:20 which as you know is good for one BIG BUCKLE!

DC took the win (2nd win now, Gunny wins the last 3 titles). Notable DNF's included 7 + pages, but Anton and Hal were scratched, not much about details, but rumors were that Meds pulled Anton at Fish with a huge lead again.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Love Affair...

Don't tell my wife, but I'm in love... with a burger joint. Park Burger is walking distance from my house and after way to long saying, "I want to eat there", I did. It was awesome.

First off, if you're going to go at prime dinner hours, there will be a wait, but 20 minutes isn't bad especially considering the options they give you.

Option 1: Give them a cell number and take a stroll through the neighborhood or down Old South Pearl. Love it. Spend some more time outside, this is an area that the fam walks quite frequently.

Option 2: Drink awesome beer on tap. They had a number of beers availible in can/bottle form and apparently excellent wine, but the tap list was just special: Dale's, Alaskan Amber, Hoptober, and Sunshine Wheat. Really, when Dale's is on tap it's a non-decision. Easily my favorite beer at the moment.

Need I say that I went with option 2?

Burgers were excellent and not overcooked, and the sweet potato fries were first class. I had a great server, and kind wait staff that were on the ball even though it was a packed house. Another great option (though I didn't utilize it last night) is their patio, about 5 tables with umbrellas. I love patios.

This is an excellent neighborhood haunt and represents well the character of our little place in Denver. Easily, when someone asks me where to get a good burger in Denver, this is the place.

I enjoyed a Burger with Jalapenos (I'm mexican, come on), guac, and queso while the wife/son worked on a bleu cheese, carmelized onion, and bacon delight. Can't wait to go back...

Check out the menu for more good stuff (in particular the excellent non-draft options for beer)...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Run in to Steamboat V.50

Halfway through the training block designed to gain some strength and be able to peak for Steamboat and I'm feeling OK so far. From 8/2 to 8/15 I ran 136.6 miles in 22:11:09. Some good elevation, climbing, and tempo work thrown in there, and this has been a good effort.

The next two weeks is where the chips really count. 50 mile pacing duties on Saturday/Sunday have the mileage and time on the feet there, getting some mid week quicker turnover should allow me to maintain some resemblance of speed, but the HM last Saturday gave me the confidence boost I needed in regards to turnover.

The plan after that is to knock out a 90 mile week capping it with a "tempo" 50K (mix road and trial from the house) and then taper sharply and rest. That should have me at 50, 40, 25 going in to the 18th. I am planning on trying to solve the chafing issue I've dealt with on long runs/races by going to a short tight. Sort of look like a goof, but I don't want bloody thighs like at Sun Mountain any more no matter how stupid I look.

This weekend, Oh man, this weekend is gonna be epic. I wish I could be a million places to see all the fun racing taking place, but I will be in the best possible place of all, in the passenger seat for the 2nd 50 miles of Pb. HERE. WE. GO.

All you racers, It's time to Cowboy up.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Georgetown to Idaho Springs Report

Short story is that the race is organized well, and easy course, perfect temps and overall a great day.

At $35 bucks, Half Marry's don't get much cheaper, so I signed up a long time ago to get a tempo test in before Steamboat in order get a better feel where I can expect turnover to be coming in and going out of Dumont. To be honest I kind of forgot for a while that I had signed up for this race, but it came up quick and I didn't have any time to do any real training for it, which is fine since it was never really a goal.

Having not run the course before, I knew it was downhill, that there was an occasional dirt section, and that it was supposed to be fast. All this is true. There are a few "hills" but nothing to break your heart, and if you're a trail runner you probably won't realize you're on one until someone around you comments on it.

So, I caught a ride to the race with Heather Utrata (2009 and 2010 Colfax Marathon winner) of the Runner's Roost Race Team along with some other team members, and got some insider knowledge on the course and a good warm up. Got to Idaho Springs, sat in a gigantic line for the bus, then started a short 2 mile warm up with some strides and short faster than race pace bursts to get my heart rate up and walked into the chute right as the starter was getting going (so far, I had a good warm up *check* and right on time).

I ran with my watch to make sure I held and even pace and after mentally challenging myself and then realizing to stick to the plan I backed off my 6:15 pace about .75 mi in and let some folks pass (not here to win, just here to work). Settling in with about 4 others we evened out and then settled right around 6:59's, a pace I found conversational, things were going well, not really and effort and the downhill course was working it's magic.

Halfway through I managed to take water at an aid station and drink pretty well without spilling (win) and noticed I'd picked up a few more seconds and cut the average down to 6:57's. I made a mental note, felt great, not sure what my heart rate was, but I felt like I was out on a normal weekday easy run, good stuff. Mile 9 came and I decided to pick the pace up a touch to see if I could hold it, not much, just a touch and I settled in dropping the average to 6:55's and then did some poor math in my head figuring I could sneak under 1:30 while just maintaining pace. My math was a bit off and I came across 1:30:34 while feeling solid, like I could run another 13.1 at that pace. Perhaps I'll start shooting for BQs when child 2 comes ;)

Overall, good workout, nice test to the tempo and I think my training is starting to turn fruitful which is nice because for the last 2 weeks I've just felt sluggish, including Jon handing me my ass at White Ranch last Wednesday! Brutal! Looking forward to 25 miles and 2x Hope Pass tomorrow, that should get the heart rate up!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Weekend Racing

Well, I'm gonna show up to the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon this Saturday. I feel about as unprepared as a runner could be to attempt thier first half marathon and am preparing myself to be underwhelmed! In fact, the only thing I know I have going for me is that I know Beau Jo's pizza is next to the finish line and I'm not sure anyone could be unhappy finishing and then finding excellent pizza and beer nearby (however, I have been reading some links from GZ's blog that are roadie related, I really like the malmo manifesto).

What do I expect? Well, I expect to run pretty slow compared to the others who will be wearing our team singlet that's for sure. I can't remember the last time I've done any speedwork, and I'm pretty sure the fastest mile I've run lately was the 3rd or 4th mile of Sun Mountain (7 flat maybe?). I think I could run somwhere in the 1:35-1:40 range, though it's pretty much all guessing here, I've got no idea what I'm doing in a road half (or a trail half for that matter as evidenced by BTMR).

Here are some things I think will probably happen:

1. Don't warm up well (I don't even know how to warm up, in ultras I just take it easy for a mile or two IN THE RACE)

2. Go out too hard

3. Look like a kook (Spilling gatorade all overmyself? Oh yeah, I don't do the cup thing well)

4. Be the only person with duct taped/superglued shoes (NB's fault, not mine)

5. Constantly thinking about my Hope Pass double crossing coming the following day (wanted to do it the night before, but commitments came up).

That's about it, stay tuned as I report back from the world of roadies!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More Pb

Gathering things, I'll have this on a placard to make sure I know where we are!

More things to come, I'm thinking of getting to know the course a bit better soon ;)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pb night run

Interesting run last night from FH to Leadville. Rain/cold and the first feel of fall creeping into the high country was a nice entrance into what to get ready for come "pace day". Leila, Woody, and I met at the El Rancho park and ride and made the trek to Leadville to meet some other folk who were getting ready for the 100. We hitched a ride with Greek and Ryan to FH and found the others and soon we were on our way. I had no idea what kind of pace the group would be shooting for and it was pretty brisk I felt for a group who were 14 days out of (mostly) their first 100. I ended up leading the first section of Powerline which I thought was a poor decision given that I wasn't even racing so I stepped over and everyone sort of stayed in a slow jog/power hike up most of it to Sugarloaf.

Pace heated up a bit coming down the pass and then we finally got onto some real trail which was nice, though with the rain and the rocks we made pretty slow work of it so as to not do something stupid and break an ankle. Coming down into Mayqueen we stopped and collected folks, getting nice and soaked through. I was a bit cold here and my stomach wasn't exactly making friends with me (not sure why). From Mayqueen on Ryan set a strong pace that kept us on our toes and we made to to Tabor quickly, stopped and rested, then moving on to Matchless where I promptly used the facilities which made me feel awesome for a few miles. The course from there was pretty weird and I got pretty disoriented once we hit the last long dirt road coming back into town (at this point I was on my own having tried to walk a bit to calm my stomach, losing contact with Leila, Ryan, and Greek but ahead of Chris and Woody). For a while I was sure I had missed a turn, but soon enough I was at the high school.

I'm really glad I came to run this section, because it will serve as a good reminder come pace day that we've got work to do and there is no carrot to chase until you get to the high school. You'd have no idea Leadville was close (you're headed up and it's forested) until it's within a mile. The last piece of road into town is tolerable and I walked it in with Leila, Greek, and Ryan. I think the key from Mayqueen in is to just make progress, that's all. I'm sure it'll seem like forever, but once that high school comes into play, you're gonna make it.

Post run, Ryan hooked me up with a ginger candy that took care of my unhappy stomach (along with some Mountain Dew) so I'll have to thank him when I see him again and remember to pack some for future races. Pb is coming, I'm excited to see how many dudes Leila will dominate! I know my job... get her to the finish line, and stay outta the ER.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


That's my planned build up for Steamboat in terms of miles. I don't expect fireworks, but I'm hoping to not embarrass myself like last year. I think I can run under 9 hours and who knows from there. Like Sun Mountain, I know where to hit the gas, for steamboat that is from going to and coming from the 23.5/27.7 aid station known as "Dumont". The trail leading into and out of Dumont is flat and fast and I plan on keeping the pace near 7:45/m if I can.
I feel that with a mostly solid spring/summer of miles under my belt, I am much better prepared for Steamboat this year. I'm also glad that I will be embarking on a bit of a vacation thereafter by heading down to San Diego for my Grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary. That's 30 times as long as my son has lived! While I definitely won't run the week after Steamboat I'll likely be back on the bike loosening out the legs and getting ready for my first ever Cyclocross event in October. The great thing about cyclocross is that I can train on stuff I'd like to run and even get a bit of running in. While in San Diego though, I may have a hard time not venturing up Cowles Mountain which lies just a few miles from my Grandparents in La Mesa.

Initially I thought I'd get some thoughts towards racing the end of this year and early next year like January and February. However, to be honest, I'm a bit tired from the structure and I think I'll relax this winter and keep the miles in control while maintaining a base. In December, I will retool my race plans depending on what happens with the States lottery. If I get in, I'll be stoked, but if not, I may sign up for Pb or forgo the 100m distance for a more reasonable 100K (Waldo perhaps). With thoughts of a second child in the air (we will have more, the question of when is getting closer and closer as Xavier gets older) I have a feeling that my shot for a legitimate chance to train for 100 miles will be 2011 and it's on the life list so that could be a factor in my decision.
For next year, I'm leaning towards races I think will be fun, rather than returning to races I've done (unless for some reason my wife lets me buy a single speed 29er in which case I'll be going after Leadman [LT Marathon/Silver Rush 50M Run/LT 10K/ LT 100 Run/ LT 100 MTB]). If that is the case, I'd like to try out the trail marathon in Pagosa "turkey track" or get out to Portland for the Forest Park 50K.

Pretty much everything else is wide open. Like skipping my run to play boosh ball with my buddies last night ;)
(a particularly sweaty me grabbing some coffee post run in Casper)