Monday, February 25, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


It seems that the Orcas Island kick in the pants along with some gradual gains in fitness have begun to stoke the fire again.  Funny how that works itself out after a nice long break.  Plans are set in motion for the year and I'm finally feeling comfortable about how things will play themselves out.

About a month or so ago I was really searching for motivation, and voiced some concern in regards to fitness/recovery to Todd on a run around Green.  Since we've moved to the foothills my weekly vertical has jumped by about 5,000' or more per week (as a reference, my biggest month ever was June of 2011 with 444 miles and +35,473, this January I ran 250 miles and +33,685').  Needless to say, the first 5-6 months were rough on my body, and I was not able to comfortably gain the mileage I'd wanted to prior to Orcas Island, feeling wiped after every run.  Todd had mentioned a similar fatigue after moving from the Highlands to Morrison a few years previous, so it was nice to know that I was at least in a normal phase of "adaptation".

The week prior to Orcas I managed to kick out some decent runs and since then I've been waking up feeling fresher than I'd been in the past, and it seems that the body is beginning to take the vertical and mileage in stride.  Despite some lingering soreness in the days immediately following the race (4 hours in a car and 3 in a plane are poor recovery tools), I've felt great since and am looking forward to Salida.

I've seemed to nail down my race plans for 2013 as well, though I've got some considering to do on a few things.  April is a trip to the Grand Canyon for the R2R2R and is locked in!  Originally I'd planned on doing a double Buchanan/Pawnee pass loop in May, but it's likely not going to be accessible for a running option that early and will likely be pushed back to July or August.  I've been considering running Quad Rock as a tune up for Bighorn which I've confirmed for June after talking with the wife.  I am not a fan of loop courses, though I do love the trails up there and I can't make it to Jemez this year because Rachel's 5K shares the weekend.

I'm planning to recover from Bighorn through June and early July, then just have fun in the high mountains through August.  I do want to go back to the Mt. Werner 50K, but it looks to be too close to Bighorn for me and I want to make sure I'm recovered and rested before launching the second half of the year.  Late September I'm planning on checking out the Devil Mountain 50 down in Pagosa followed by Deadman Peaks 50 in October as part of a build up to Hellgate in December.  Obviously focusing on a few things: being ready and fit for Bighorn and Hellgate.  I want to leave the latter part of summer and early fall for what makes Colorado awesome, big mountain running and camping with Rachel and the boys.

For now, it's simply time to get fit and have fun in the hills.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Orcas Island 50K

What a race. What a venue. I'd had Orcas Island on my radar since racing Sun Mountain a couple of years ago, so when James sent me a tempting note, I was in without blinking an eye.  I have a special affinity for the northwest, its weather, and climate.  The only downside to coming out to race in February was that it is about 2 months early!  I did my best to get as ready as I could, but the training leading up to the race was perhaps less than ideal.  So, I insisted to myself that because I'd come down from altitude, that'd make up for the fitness deficit.  All in all, I can't complain, the race was truly amazing.

I flew in and joined the list of runners missing the early ferry to the island.  In any case, I met some nice folks from Oregon and passed the time.  After getting lost on the island I managed to settle in and grab some food and a beer before heading to sleep.

Race morning was uneventful, and as the race was underway I was quickly unsure as to how things would pan out.  I knew it wasn't gonna be an excellent day (likely left the weekend prior on Falcon, dammit) but it wasn't gonna be a terrible day either.  Dead climbing legs meant getting passed constantly on the climbs and by the top of the first big one I was essentially where I'd be the rest of the day, around 20th.  I let it rip a bit on the first descent for the most part, and that was super fun.  

Photo: Glenn Tachiyama
I couldn't get a grip on where we were in relation to the course because I was too sucked into the surroundings, the big views, and the thick old growth forest.  Attempting to gain back some time, I promptly slammed my face off the ground.  That's the nice part of the northwest though, it's all so soft and forgiving!  That kind of fall could have ended my race back home, so I counted my lucky stars and managed to stay upright the rest of the way back home.

Initially going into the run, I had hoped I might be able to hit the 5 hour mark, but that quickly fell apart with my legs around the 2 or 3 hour mark.  I lost a lot of time on the powerline climb (not too different than the Pb version, just steeper, shorter, and lower).  Towards the top of Mt. Constitution I resigned a bit,and enjoyed my hike until I reached the summit.   When Jason Louitt passed me, I tried to go with him for about 200 yards before the fatigue hit me again.  I wasn't in pain per say, just had nothing in the legs, which is pretty easily deduced to the whole training issue.  All in all, I felt good all day, never had any terrible stretches, so hopefully that means that the endurance piece is coming, if slowly.  In the end, I finished in 5:25, which is still pretty solid for a race with +8755' of gain (in reference, the fire course at Jemez "only" has +20' of gain over 20 more miles).

So, what did I learn from this? I learned that the northwest is still awesome, you should definitely make space for your bucket list races, Washington folk really like their weed, and single ply TP sucks.

Also, James (Rainshadow Running) puts on badass races.  Thanks again for the wonderful time, I'll be back for more.  Big ups to Skaggs for dumpster diving the sparkling wine at RVR, which likely contributed to some excellent dance moves.

Lastly, but not least, thanks to Drymax (yet another blister free day), and Highgear for keeping me going.  2013 figures to be a great year of fun and running.