Monday, May 13, 2013

Quad Rock 2013

Well, the last really long day before Bighorn is now behind me and I feel pretty good today.  While I had a mediocre finishing time (for me, I suppose), I had a great time out on the Quad Rock course.  The thing with a course like this is that if you don't have great legs, or you're tired, the amount of extra time you add on is exponential.  What I really wanted, after some internal realistic discussion, was a solid long day.  That was precisely what I got and in the end I'm happy with that.
Finishing up.  Photo: MH
Just one year ago, I had peaked and had a smashing day on the Jemez course.  The thing was, Jemez was not my goal race and while I had a good result, I put myself in a grave doing so which translated to may of the problems I had prior to DNF'ing at Bighorn just a few weeks later.  While there are many folks who can race hard multiple times in a short window, I am not one of those people.

Car! Photo: MH
So, onto the race.  Mike was kind enough to put me up the night before thanks to Clarkie's absurd starting time!  However, once we got going, I settled into the climb and ran with a mix of folks and found what appeared to be a comfortable effort.  Horsetooth came easily enough and I was feeling OK despite the seemingly normal lack of pop in the legs (a product of my training, perhaps more on that later).

Cool shot of the Grass/Burn dichotomy.  Photo: MH
I had enough sense to break the course up mentally and for once I managed to forget the miles and simply run.  On our way up Arthur's the first go around, I latched onto Tom from the Springs and we had a great chat about all sorts of things pretty much the whole climb and descent into the turn.  It's funny how company makes the time pass, and before long we were watching the leaders come back through us.

I must say, as an avid opponent of loop courses, this was surprisingly easy to negotiate (mentally) even though I knew what was coming (a long ass climb).  I plodded my way back through the Arthur's climb and back through the Arthur's aid station where I started my routine of slamming coke at every aid.  From here on out it was the same old story, moderate running downhill, and a mix of hiking/jogging uphill.  I can see that it would be fun to make a course like this your focus and just try to hammer the climbs and hang on through the downs.  But that was not this day, this day was about surviving...

And, after what seemed like an eternity, and a bit of hail, I popped out on the valley trails and meandered my way back to the finish line.  Now, I had prepared to kick Nick in the balls for starting so early, but he so graciously cooked up some Ultragen and I let it slide.  I must say that this race was seriously top notch.  The production, the aid, volunteers (good to see my friends out there on the course), and pretty well everything that goes on there was great.  This is not because I consider Nick a friend, but rather, this was a GREAT event.  Even though I was slow, I had a great time.  Beautiful trails, tough climbs, and fun descents.  The biggest praise I can give my sponsors is that my feet feel awesome today; no blisters and no sore feet!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Gas Station Coffee*

Don't get me wrong, I love great coffee.  I appreciate the quest for it, the places you find it, how it smells as it is roasted, and the careful balance of flavors when prepared in delicate secultion.  I used to consider myself a connoisseur of great coffee, and looked down my nose at anything else.  There was only one problem:
I fucking love gas station coffee.  There, I said it.
You might ask, "why?" And, while there may be a simple answer, the truth lies a bit below the surface.
Finding locally sourced, gourmet, whatever the hell special coffee is easy in Denver, as it is in many places.  However, one is often limited to the local coffee house whose clientele aren’t often up and sipping cappuccinos at 4AM.  Certainly the coffee house crowd isn’t typically demanding a five star latte as they prep for a 12 hour drive to the Grand Canyon, and you can bet your ass that cute little shop isn’t on your way out of town.

While there are always exceptions to the rule, particularly if you already live in an outdoor paradise and City on a Hill is your local joint.  As for me, I’ve always found that gas stations are the best place to grab the cup of black gold before the sun comes up.
The thing is, gas station coffee is often the precursor to outdoor awesomeness.  You wake up, stumble out of bed, it's 4:30 in the morning.  By the grace of god you make it down the stairs without breaking an ankle, throw your pack in the back of your buddy's truck and hop in.  And that when it starts.
You stop, fill your cup with some concoction of "hazelnut/vanilla/odd shade" roast and grab a donut that was likely made in the attendant's basement about a month ago.  Now, chances are you've got to give it a minute in the car, because gas station coffee is usually served at about the same temperature that the core of our earth sits at.  But then, all possibilities are open.
I’ve taken off to all kinds of crazy places, driving 22 hours to run in my hometown coastal mountains, 12 hours into the desert, or 7 hours into the Rocky Mountain wilderness.  While the logistics may change, one constant remains, gas station coffee. The truth of it is this: if you wanna be awesome, you're gonna need some gas station coffee.  And some beer, don't forget the beer.

*I'm working on this a bit.  I told myself I'd write and submit a short for the Dirtbag Diaries, and this is the first idea I've written anything on.  So, this will likely expand and contract for a while.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

April 2013

361 Miles
+51,876' Vertical
58 Hours
3 Days off
Two big days:
Cedro Peak

Justin exchanged some good advice and insight into my training deluge post Cedro Peak that I probably was choosing to overlook.  The basic premise revolves around expectation and goal setting.  This month was deliberate in its purpose and the purpose is preparation for Bighorn, plain and simple.  I missed my arbitrary goals, but not in a significant way, and I had 3 days off.  The days off were necessary and unavoidable (12 hours in a car two days to and from GC, day post CP).  I've since done some tempo work, nothing special, about and not real tempo either, but rather more in the line of what I'll need for longer ultras.  I've taken it easy since the GC trip to let my body recover, and I'm just now feeling like my legs are responding.  However, I need to take it easy still this weekend and into next week to hopefully have some pop at Quad Rock.  Talking with Scott at the PI shoot, I mentioned that I'd like to be somewhere in the 8:30-9:00 range, which would be a good honest effort, but not something that would lay me out.  Obviously the real question is going to be weather, as there is a legitimate chance it could be 80*F, or it could snow...

Last weekend was good times hanging out at the Cheyenne Mountain 25/50K.  Wifey was top-10 in the 25K and JT managed to break 10 hours.  Both impressive.