Sunday, January 30, 2011


Really it was Saturday "schooled" when the boys dragged my sorry ass around Mt. Falcon. I even cut off the Devil's Thumb loop because I was tired of making them wait for me. Outside of the PP50K (where I didn't run may of the hills anyways) I hadn't run a hill since Hellgate. Apparently it is easy to lose that mountain fitness, but not as easy to get it back. The good thing about this is that it let me get a bit fired up about training for the new year. I thought I'd share some things that I've been thinking of over my runs for the past few weeks...

My running base is decidedly small, and I've come to believe that in light of that fact, I need to be careful about the amount of training and recovery that I allow for myself. What I mean is, I don't have the base mileage and strength that I think is needed to race strong many times a year. With this in mind I have chosen two races to go for, one early and one late with the emphasis on getting to the date in July in top shape, and more fit than I was this past December. I can't ask too much of the races that I'm not gunning for because I think it would derail my efforts at the latter races. I don't have a super man body that some do, and the mileage would take its toll. I've actually come to see this as a benefit rather than a weakness, I can work hard to attain a certain level of base fitness, but for me there needs to be a focus. Not necessarily formulaic, but determined.

I believe that I am coming closer to the running weight that is optimal for my body type and I've been careful to examine the mileage I incur in a build up to a race. Two years ago I was 185# and built much differently that I am now, to that end I've had to buy new clothes and become accustomed to wearing a medium instead of a large. However, the drop in weight has had a positive effect on my recovery and running as a whole. The pounding on my body is much less now at 160# and I feel much more nimble on the trail. With the drop in weight I have found that I need to eat along with the build up in mileage: run more, eat more.

I've planned a few races out for the year, and due to the coming child, I'll have a front loaded schedule with my racing ending in July. I know for a fact that I won't be in top shape going into Way Too Cool but it will be a good bearing of how my training is coming along. For me 50K is a great race distance because it is a distance that is within my recovery tolerance and I should be ready to go again in April. I plan to have a longer building period going into June and July with my base mileage basically building from now until the last week of June.

All of this folds into some other thoughts I've had about racing ultras. I visualize a lot during my daily runs; perhaps to avoid the monotony of the same paths, but it serves a greater purpose. I go back through my previous races or look forward to upcoming races and see areas of opportunity. Where do you make a move? What are you racing for/against? What do you do when the pain and fatigue sets in? For me it's been hard to decipher these things in the build up to a race and even at times during the run. I've been all over the map, just look at the results off to the side. I think a lot of my inconsistency has just been the immaturity of my running career, I don't have the base to truly run great times over and over, or at least I haven't yet. I think I'm closer, or I'd like to believe that.

Truly, I want to be a strong racer, someone who can compete at least on the regional level for top spots. My two best races to date have taken place no closer than 1400 miles from Denver, but hopefully that will change. It is important for me to view a course with an attacking mind, I want to say, "at mile 23 I will switch from conservation to race mode and go for it." I want to say, "I'm racing against all these other people." These are important things to have, they motivate you before and perhaps during the race, but for me it's not the crux. I think, and I say this lightly due to my inexperience, that the FOCUS is the important part. Focus is the area that answers the question "what do I do when the pain and fatigue set in?" Focus is the place where you go to detach your brain and push your body to do things only an imaginative person would believe.

Two examples from my best two results. At Hellgate, the first half of the race was decidedly loose and talkative. I interacted with other runners and really had no agenda other than to conserve and finish, but at 50K I truly began to focus on the task at hand. I don't remember much of the scenery to be honest, I was so in the moment, transfixed on pushing and pushing harder than I ever had before. It was a moment, or series of moments, that flipped the switch in my brain that I haven't been able to turn off since. How do you continue this focus?

At Sun Mountain, I was focused going into the run, dead set on running a specified pace and hitting a split until the pain really set in and I fell off the pace. I lost focus. I remember being pretty upset those last 10 miles, knowing that my goal was within my reach but I just couldn't get there. While this race was my 50M PR by a long way, I was missing something. Focus.

I know this is long, but stay with me. I'm not sure if this is the same with marathoning but suspect it is, you need to get to a place in the race where you are going hard but able to really dig deep and focus on the task at hand. Mile 20 for a marathon, mile 23 for a 50K, mile 40 for 50 miles... The point is the same, if you are truly racing, you need to be in a position to truly race the crux of the race. My goal for the year is to be in a position to do great things, and to me that means being at the front of a race and maybe even winning one, but to do so I've got to be ready and willing to focus during the crux of the race and not give in to the fickle mind.

Cheyenne Canyon, Big Horn, and North Fork. These are races that I truly believe I can win. Perhaps that's just in my mind when I'm daydreaming through my daily runs, but belief is a major piece of finding that focus. I won't win a race if I don't believe that I can. Perhaps more importantly, I've found some success that I can hopefully build upon. To build upon it, it is the hard work. Squats in the gym, tough mountain runs, tempo runs, and recovery. Diligence in all things to get to the next level. I am working on the focus and the belief that my better days are ahead of me. I look around me and see guys crushing it that are older, more wise, and more experienced than me and I say, "one day I'll run that way, and to get there I'll do the work." No one takes shortcuts and gets better. Time to go to work.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Knee = Good / Invitation

So far this week the knee (right IT band) has held in check and I haven't noticed it at all which bodes well given that next week I begin a short build of mileage in front of Way Too Cool. I've got a bit to say on some thoughts I've had on some recent runs, but I'll save that for a post this weekend probably. Most of my mid-week stuff has been solid, easy but not too easy, sort of right where I want it to be for the building period. I hit some weight last night, and I tweaked my right hammy a bit (was tight initially, and I didn't warm it up well) so it was not so intense, but these will build throught he summer.

Oh, and if you want to join TG, BF, JY, WA, JP, and I on a cruise of Mt. Falcon we're running it at 7am this Saturday. See ya there.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Decision of Leadville

Today my final decision to run or not to run the Leadville 100 was made easy for me. I will not be running the 2011 version, but rather I'll be training to be a father of two. Rachel and I are going to be having our second child way too close to LT to follow the rules of Joghard (of which I'm a full on subscriber). I'm super excited for our next child, and though I've been telling Rachel I think it's gonna be twin boys, I'll be stoked for whatever comes our way. Leadville will be waiting, and I'm not sad to see it go by for another year.

Right now I'll look over the rest of the summer, most likely it'll just be Way Too Cool and Big Horn, but who knows. My right knee has continued to give me a bit of guff ever since the PP50K, and I'm certain it's the IT band. Of course this means that the best way for me to get rid of it is to stop running, see the doc for a cortisone shot, and relax for a while. Way Too Cool though is right around the corner and I'm not planning on missing that. I'll do my best to stretch, ice, and ibuprofen my way through and then see the doc if things haven't progressed. I'll have a nice layoff in August/September or so to deal with it if it's still there then.

Now I get to look over race schedules to see if I can fit one more in July, but I may just plan some big epic solo run there and then begin building a base for the 2012 season. Perhaps I'll be ready to take a shot at Bandera next year or Rocky Raccoon. In any case, I'm stoked to be a dad again (not bad for 26 eh?)!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Crew

This is my crew (minus XG a few folks). I can't wait to hang in Lan Diego this summer with some beers and some footy.  We'll be welcoming another little homie in a few short weeks.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ponderous Posterior 50k

This past Saturday I joined about 90 other crazed ultrarunners for a jaunt through the foothills surrounding Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. I had the pleasure of making some new friends as seen in the photo (Brooks and James) as well as catching up with what was seemingly most of the CO ultra crowd. Brooks and I proved that the best way to get to know someone is to not train for 5 weeks and then fumble your way through 32 miles of snow. I'd say that the best measure of the success of the event is by measuring how much I laughed; I laughed a lot. Thanks to JT for opening your house and for the CRUD boys for the maps and organization. It was cool to run with big guns Tony, Joe, and Scott for a mile before stopping to pound a PBR. I did tweak my IT band on the right knee so I'm gonna take a few days off and ice/stretch to get on top of this.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A New Direction

I've been wavering back and forth between posting this or just keeping it to myself, but I've decided to go ahead and throw it out there. Mostly this is just a personal thing, a mindset really, and something that Geoff commented on his 2008 season. Not that I view this coming season in the same way, but perhaps on a far smaller scale.

The past 5-6 months I've been more and more committed to the belief that I have an untapped potential that I think will begin to unfold in the next year or two. Hellgate certainly brought a lot of that out in me, and even Steamboat to some degree. I realize that the base of my running career is extremely small, and that as it has increased I've been able to see marketed gains in both performance and endurance. I beleive that I still have a long way to go, but I've started to feel the hunger of competition grow in ways I've never really thought I'd get to, and especially not this quickly.

In my short history I've always been an above average athlete, though this athletic talent was always channeled towards team sports, specifically baseball. It wasn't until I developed a focus and a desire to get better (about 14/15 for me) that I was able to really make strides and become a great player. While I wasn't the best, I was able to turn myself into a pretty decent D2 hitter and an ABCA Division II All-West Reigion player. Apart from perhaps those years from 14-17 where I played essentially year round on various teams, the past year has produced the most focused athletic training that I've ever done. As I observe others in the ultrarunning world, most have a far longer history of running, especially in the upper tiers. The one thing I do have on my side is a bit of time; I just turned 26 on 12/31 (I really started running around 23-24). I'd like to think that by the time I'm 30 I could be winning or finishing on the podium in many races. Perhaps that is a stretch, perhaps not.

I think that there are some people out there who do not want to attempt to find the best possible versions of themselves for fear that they might not live up to what they thought they "could" be. It's easier to be able to say "I could have done this or that" than it is to say "I wasn't able to do that even though I tried." I want to be able to say the latter if what I'm shooting for doesn't work out. I look at Steamboat as an example of what didn't work out, I went for it, made some bad decisions, and paid for it. I can, however, say that I wasn't afraid to fail. It sucks, but I'm ok with that.

Initially at Hellgate I was mostly reserved, and it wasn't until about 50K that I decided to really hang it out on the line. Perhaps that was smart, but at the point, I had no idea if I could withstand the last 20 miles. The craziest thing about the finish of that race; I was running up the road to the line thinking to myself, "I could still run more if I had to." I was tired, but not fully finished racing. That thought, and the 30 caffinated gels I ate had me wired until about 11pm that night after not sleeping the night before.

When I look at this season, I think I can place well in almost every race I intend to run. While I'm unsure of what I can do at Way Too Cool, I believe I can win in Wyoming, and I'll comment on the rest of the summer later. I'm also looking at the courses in a far different manner then I did a year ago. As I look at WTC, I look directly to 28K and see an opportunity to attack the course. In the past, I've looked at areas where I would struggle and view the rest of the course as simply something to get through. Now I see things differently, and I look at the course in a manner of "what do I need to do so that when I hit 28K I can really turn it on and catch some people?"

In any case, I beleive that I am stronger runner than I currently am, or I at least have the potential to be. I beleive that I can show up to many races with a shot to contend for a top spot as ludacris as that may sound to some. I'm ready for competition, and I'm hungry for the next level.


I believe the key to attaining whatever success may come in my future (or not) lies in a focused approach to this season and the next few years. This entails (but is not limited to) a focused goal in training, proper planning of races, proper planning for rest, and the ability to keep the desire to get better in the front of my mind.

I'm not going to be in top form come March, but maybe perhaps I'll be able to peak sometime say in August... maybe...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dogfish head 90 minute IPA.

More where that came from folks!