Run fast ... fall down

Run fast ... fall down

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Walker ranch sunrise run

With the glorious native American summer that we are granted this year, I got in a late season lap around walker. Since running isn't a sport, I'm clearly not a sportsman, but if I were, I wouldn't go hungry at Walker today. At the start of the loop I encountered the largest buck I've seen in the wild. I managed to get this "shot" off.

I kept my distance. I saw maybe 10 other deer and was within 10 feet of 4 little does and a button buck. Also saw 30+ turkeys on the drive up!

Don't worry guys, been vegan since last century.
7.5 miles, 1500 ft gain. 1h19m. Garmin Data

Monday, October 15, 2012

N Mount Massive

Depending on who you ask, the number of 14ers in Colorado can vary from 53 to about 59. The difference are peaks that are either too close to other higher peaks to count as a separate mountain or ones that are far enough away but the drop between the peaks is insignificant (usually about 300 ft). I hiked Mt Massive (the 2nd highest in CO) a long time ago and didn't know to care enough about walking 1.14 miles along the ridge to a bump called N. Massive. So after finishing the 14ers in 2007, it was kind of cool to still have one left.

After some serious indecisiveness, like literally on the drive from the front range, we still hadn't fully decided between Drift peak, Massive or Yale. Upon pulling into Leadville, we'd apparently ruled out Drift since we passed the trailhead, however we added the possibility of either climbing Oklahoma or Elbert. Still George and Mike were undecided and Ziva was ready to get the show on the trail, so I spoke up and proclaimed N. Massive.

We loaded up and set forth about 8:30 with only 1 or 2 other cars at the N Halfmoon Trailhead. After 1.5 miles, we passed a trail junction leading up the S slopes of Massive, a route we would come down later in the day, but first we skirted around the ridge into the valley home to the N Halfmoon lakes.

Looking up at the valley wall we had to decide where to gain the ridge.

N Massive is straight ahead. We ascended the wall to the ridge at the far left of this photo

The climb up the wall is steep.

Looking back at Oklahoma (left) from the ridge

The ridge walk is long and has a few interesting obstacles that we mostly skirted around on the N side of the ridge. A few summit shots from Mt Massive summit.

Then we followed the very steep S Slopes trail back to the junction at 1.5 miles in. Total day was about 10 miles with 4200 ft of elevation gain. garmin data

Saturday, September 15, 2012

2012 Rattlesnake Ramble

In the car on the way home from this race, I told my family this race is my favorite race. This race and Leadville.  I guess I'm not getting any faster. I don't very often test myself against my previous times. However I've done the Rattlesnake Ramble in Eldorado Springs, CO a couple times now and my times are 39:44 in 2005, 39:31 in 2011, and this year 39:54. It's a 4.2 mile race that covers the main (but not the climbing access) trails in Eldorado state park. This year was the first time that I'd run it in an even year, therefore the race is run in a different direction than my past experiences.

The honorable John Prater said go and I knew my body was about to hate me. We took off straight uphill that makes everyone annoyed. It's really tough to manage the start when the start is uphill on a serious false flat. I tried to keep everything in check but my watch was mad at me and beeping "heart rate too high," which is funny because I've never seen that error before. I think it was getting a false reading and within another few seconds it settled into 175 which was the lowest it would be for a while. I kept motoring up the road hoping to save a little for the real climb ahead. We hit the eldo trail and mile 1 done in 11:36 and I started power hiking as planned and just kept my position. I passed a runner here or there but for the most part it's just follow the leader for the next half mile.

I got my first view at the frontrunners and before I knew it was already at the end of the park/turnaround. I took the downhill pretty easy trying to lower my heart rate which was high 180s at this point. The road connector to the Fowler trail was tough as it felt very slow, is open and non-technical so road runners take off here and I was now in pretty serious anaerobicity. The savior was the amazing view running out the fowler trail with the Bastille wall and the wind tower in a little haze with sun shining down. It was glorious and I forgot that I was running a race. I need to go back at this time of day to grab a picture of this view.

Oh yeah, serious hurtin' here. I did my best to keep my stride short and fast, but the turnaround didn't come fast enough. I started getting passed by a bunch of women. No guys though. On the way back I gave in and walked about 2 steps, but then threw it back in gear because I knew the downhill finish was about to arrive.

Once I rounded the curve, I was super glad to see no one right behind me or slightly in front. I was pushing as hard as I could go and didn't need external motivation to hold someone off or catch anyone. I was pushing a 5:30 pace for the last 1/2 mile as it's all downhill and again got the warning alarm about my HR. I looked down and saw 195. Ouch. Through the chute and I'm done.

Again it's better to be lucky than fast as the top few runners got their pick at the amazing prizes on the award table and then race director Bill Wright pulls raffle numbers out of a box and almost everyone walks away with some additional prize. I was hanging out here with a bunch of friends and friends of friends and I got called in about 5th place and picked up a fresh sharp pair of Kahtoola Microspikes to go with my cool tech shirt. $32 well spent.

Maybe I outta do some trackwork or something. My mile splits did get progressively faster though 11:36, 11:00, 8:23, 7:50, and 5:47 pace for the final 0.2 mi. Average HR 184.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Memorial of Indie

Sometime in April of 2002, just after moving to Colorado, I adopted a 3 year old dog from the Mile High Weimaraner Rescue. So much has happened in the last 10.5 years of my life and Indie was with me through it all. She passed away this week, and I have been reminiscing all weekend. I've gone through some pictures and pulled out ones to show some of what we've been through together.

She has traveled with me from Colorado to the Grand Canyon, Tetons, Yosemite, Glacier, Montana, several trips to North Carolina, California to Oregon, Utah, and all over Colorado.
First picture I have of us together - April 2002.
On a winter day in the Boulder Mountains

First backpacking trip. She's ready for dinner.
At the Tetons
Is that a binky?

She accompanied me on so many 14ers. Here's Missouri Mountain.

Heidi and Indie en route to Huron Peak

The worst she has ever smelled - cleaning it off in a pristine mountain lake.

Wedding Day photo. She walked down the aisle with me and stood next to us

Curious about a marmot
Running down with Heidi off of Uncompagre to beat out the thunderstorm

Kehoe Beach in N. California

She slept in a tight circle practically on top of me every night for 10 years

She loved opening presents. This is her looking in the Hanukkah box

Under the covers

Downtown San Francisco

About to become a sister

In Yosemite National Park with pregnant Heidi

Such a family girl

Christmas 2011

Starting to show her age

One of her last runs

At least memories live forever. Love ya, little girl.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mt Bierstadt - Wednesday after work

Ryan and I left Golden at 5 and drove up to Guanella Pass to try to watch sunset from the summit of Mt Bierstadt. I've done this a few times on Grays and Torreys, but this was the first sunset hike on Bierstadt. This fine September day boasted the gentlest weather I've experienced on a 14er; warm, calm, and awesome. Based on the stats of RT 7.7 mi, and 2700 ft gain, I hoped it was as runable as Audubon was on Monday. However the first mile is rather downhill such that 2500 ft is really only spread over 2 miles.  I found it was a little too inefficient to run much on the ascent.
Sun setting on the Sawtooth Ridge between Bierstadt and Evans

We made steady progress up while seeing only 3 others on the mountain (each heading down) and ended up still being about 15 minutes from the top during sunset over Square Top Mountain. Still a nice show though. Someone left a bag at the summit from WhichWich so we took our picture with it to claim a free lunch on Friday.

Sunset behind Square Top Mountain. Grays and Torreys are the 2 pyramids on the right side

90 minutes up and about an hour 20 down. We could have pushed much harder on the way down but no need to hurry today.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mt Audubon - Labor Day weekend 2012

Inspired by following the Spot GPS tracks during recent amazing endeavors on the high peaks, I was anxious to get up high and enjoy the peaks before the snow starts flying. Heidi wanted to revisit Mt Audubon as it climbs relatively straightforwardly to over 13K with less than an hour to arrive at the trailhead. Hannah spent the night at Grandma's house which afforded us the leisure to get up and go as early as we wanted.
Start of the fourmile canyon fire 2 years ago

We arrived at Mitchell Lake Trailhead at 6:30 AM and dropped a $10 bill in the envelope of the newly added self pay station and gathered our belongings. Two years ago, on Labor day weekend, we climbed Audubon and saw from above the start of the 4 mile canyon fire. We saw that it started far before the news ever admits. Here is a shot from around the time that it was reported to have started. It was super windy up high and we toughed it out.
This year, as we climbed the winds were ever so familiar and fearing deja vu, we checked for smoke clouds all day.

Navajo Peak under a full moon and clouds
Once above treeline the winds picked up more and more, and Heidi suggested turning around. I was in agreement and just happy to be out hiking that I didn't care much about making the summit. We headed down as the wind seemed to settle down.

On Monday, I got the pass to go for a hike on my own. I contemplated many options but decided I wanted to push myself and get up Audubon as fast as I could. This time I waited until late afternoon in hopes of hitting the peak at sunset in the warmth and cruising down by headlight. I arrived at the TH utilizing my same receipt from the previous day (which is good for 3 days) in a downpour. I figured the storm would soon pass so I geared up and got ready to leave just as the rain was letting up.

I took the first 20 min easy as a warmup, downed a gel and got to work. The clouds parted and displayed a full rainbow. I pushed hard and constantly had to adjust my clothes as the wind was wailing and quite cold, but would occasionally die down. I hit the summit at 90 minutes, hunkered down in the wind shelter, put on my insulated jacket and got ready to run down.

Back to the trailhead in another hour. 2h35m roundtrip.

2012 - Leadville 100

I've been intrigued about this race since 2003 or 2004 on a 14er climbing weekend, I was signaled to stop while driving out from a trailhead back in the Sawatch range. It was pretty mellow, someone held out their hand, a runner or 2 emerged from the trees, ran by me and then I was allowed to leave. No big deal in those days, no real crowds, just people running 100 miles.

Ha, so long story short, I've attempted this race now in 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2012. All ultimately resulting in unfinished business. This year (2012), I had solid training, completed the difficult San Juan Solstice in June, was well-tapered, and had a better nutrition plan than last year.

My fail of last year was a wrenched stomach between miles 26 and 45, which may have been due to eating too much at Fish Hatchery aid station at mile 23. This year my plan was to stick to liquid calories from drinking solely Vitargo and water. I've practiced this plan in training and in the SJS50.

I hit the ground running at 4AM and stayed well within myself (just barely slower than last year, but felt better likely due to better fitness and more training at running more flat miles) and consumed 500 cals of Vitargo in 20oz of water. I came into Mayqueen Aid at mile 12.5 at 2h36m, about 3 minutes behind schedule.

Nearing the top of Sugarloaf pass early in the morning.
Mayqueen to Fish Hatchery involves the first real climb of the day over Sugarloaf pass. I ran a little bit more of this climb than in the past, but took it easier on the brutal Powerline descent. I consumed another 550 calories of Vitargo and another 30 or 40 oz of water. I was another 6 minutes slower than last year but left the aid station abruptly and wasn't worried. I had kept in mind all morning that I wanted to run much more of the section from Fish Hatchery to Twin Lakes. It worked, I took it easier at the beginning and was able to jog much more.

I hit the half pipe aid station 8 minutes ahead of last year and learned from the aid station crew (who also owned the house we rented in Leadville for the weekend) that my crew had car troubles and were looking for a garage.

I called Heidi and got the scoop. Moreso I just called her to tell her I was feeling great and had made up the 10 minutes I lost in the beginning. I actually carried my phone because I have an app that allows her to see where I am most of the time. It provides my crew feedback about when I might reach various aid stations.

I continued onward managing some slight patella irritation that was expected. I also began to deal with some stomach issues where I had to violently force a burp after every sip of water or vitargo. I deal with this often, whether racing or not, but it controls my races. I need to find out how to fix this. I dropped a Gu Brew tablet into my water bottle which adds some fizz. This helps a bit as it helps cause the burps. It seems I can feel each sip hit my stomach, where it hurts for a while, until I burp, and then a few minutes later I can feel it leave my stomach and am hungry so I take another sip and the cycle repeats.

The rollers along this section felt decent and I was excited to drop into Twin Lakes at mile 38.5 to see my crew, daughter, and one of my pacers to start after mile 50. I felt pretty good and swapped my bottles for my pack and poles. I ate a few bites of watermelon, some chips, and drank a small coke. I was feeling sleepy and hoped the caffeine and sugar would give me a jolt, while the carbonation would aid in burping. I was less than thrilled that my only water source for the Hope climb was my camelbak filled with Vitargo but this was my fault as it's what I wrote in my pre-race plan for my crew to follow. After 40 miles, the taste was less desirable, and I was using my fizzy Gu Brew in one bottle to aid digestion while calories came from Vitargo (over 1500 calories at 8.5 hours in).

Leaving Twin Lakes and getting ready to use my
poles to ascend Hope Pass
I left Twin Lakes (mile 38.5) feeling okay and more than 30 minutes ahead of 2011. On Hope Pass (the big climb of the day), I hit the wall. I slowed considerably on the climb and couldn't force myself to drink. I watched the altitude tick away on my watch much slower than I "hoped". Again this year, I spent time hunched over my poles, catching my breath and letting my raging heart rate drop.

I was tempted to drink out of a stream coming down the mountain as the water looked so clean but then considered the llamas at the hopeless aid station ahead. I was hot and knew the water would be cold but I have had Giardia or something like it before and don't want to deal with it again. I passed on the stream and just looked forward to reaching the next aid station.

Summit of Hope Outbound
Eventually Hopeless Aid station came and I took a seat and downed some Ramen soup, water and coke.  My stomach instantly felt better and I was excited to see the leaders coming down the pass. I spotted numerous famous faces and was excited to watch the race unfold. I hammered on up to Hope pass and began heading down. I jogged some runnable sections on the steep downhill and dodged all the runners coming up.

I knew the next section involved a new segment of the trail to avoid the Winfield dirt road. The turnoff was well marked and reasonably flat. I was behind schedule and anxious to reach Winfield. My stomach hated the downhill and I didn't know what to do, eating was not working, but I knew I needed to. Along the trail, you can easily see Winfield down in the valley but 2 things: it's way down there, and the trail doesn't point that way at all. It keeps going up the valley. Well beyond Winfield it begins to descend and added an additional 1.5 miles to each direction. At a 15-20 minute pace, this makes about an hour difference!

Mile 52 with pacer Ryan in tow
I came into Winfield excited to see my pacer but knew I was well beyond the time to make the strict cutoffs on the return trip to Leadville. I ran through the aid station and weighed in at 138 (9.3 lbs below my starting weight!) The volunteer did not stop me, but said "better start drinking." I had my pacer grab a few things from the aid station but nothing sounded good and my optimism was low.  We left as soon as I could get going and climbed up to the new trail. I walked this whole section and was finally able to jog on and off along the new connector trail. I knew the ascent would be tough so I got as much fruit down as I could and sat down at the Hope trail to get a gel down before the ascent.

The climb was on and we were passing puking runners and felt the general pessimism of all the runners who were likely to be running their last segment. The climb continued, every bit as hard as I remember, and I did my best to keep a steady pace. I did still have to stop many times to offer reprieve to my HR and catch my breath. I did my best to get down some fluids but the stomach wasn't turning around. Daylight faded and I wasn't even over the pass yet. We offered a spare headlamp to a runner in trouble, exchanged names, and then huffed it over the pass.

The clock didn't slow down and I realized the next cutoff wasn't going to happen. I cruised down to the hopeless aid station and was informed they were out of the veggie Ramen, but had potato soup. I sat by the fire and ate cup of that. I probably sat down a little too long here and realized it was time to get on in to Twin Lakes. As soon as I started moving, the soup violently came back up. I felt much better and continued on, running as much of the downhills as I could. The elevation does not drop fast enough on this section. We made it to Twin about an hour behind the cutoff. No juice, my race was over.

I've got some more work to do to figure out how to master these hundred thingies.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

San Juan Solstice 50 mile run - June 23, 2012 - Lake City, CO

This race is pretty hard and I got to witness it on the summer solstice weekend of 2012. The beauty of it being on the solstice means one can run 16 hours with no need for a headlamp. Some call it the hardest 50 in the US, it's also called the baby Hardrock, and I remember at about mile 30 thinking it was truly brutal, but now looking back it's probably not that hard.

I signed up a ridiculously long time ago (January) when the registration opens and all 200 slots get filled in about an hour. It hasn't been a major focus of my training (which is still Leadville), but it's  been in the back of my mind that I'll need to get in some good elevation training this year. Since I don't write much about training, I can recap:

After the North Face San Fran had a patella/VMO annoyance in my right knee that kept me from running most of Dec and all of Jan. Gone by Feb.
20 miles a week in Feb
25-35 mpw in Mar
30-40 mpw in Apr
Then in mid May I rolled my ankle pretty badly (actually rolled it earlier in the year too, with pretty quick recovery)
I began acupuncture/dry needing therapy with Allison Suddard who works on quite a few ultrarunners/endurance athletes around Boulder.
Got in one more 30 mile week before catching a bad fever after returning from travel for work. June 7-20 I either had a fever of 102, was totally lethargic, or hacking up a lung. Things fell back into place on race week until 2 days before where I rolled my ankle again at a softball game landing on a base.

The day before the race, my ankle was swollen and bruised.

But, nonetheless, I signed up in January, paid my entry fee and have wanted to race this course for years.

The girls and I made the drive down to Lake City on Friday, and pulled into our motel for the weekend. This was the view from our porch.
We enjoyed the pre-race dinner which also turned out to be our 5th Wedding Anniversary dinner. I'm pretty sure the 5th anniversary gift is supposed to be wood or silverware, but we had bland spaghetti with fine plastic ware on Styrofoam plates in an Armory. That counts, right?
We ran into a couple that had race shirts on from the 1999 edition of the Lake City 50, so we were chatting them up about logistics when I found out they were a couple rooms down from us in the same motel. I asked for a ride to race start which enabled the girls to sleep in rather than join me for the 5 AM start. I slept well, although woke up many times in the night to check the time. I eventually rolled out of bed at 3:45 on my own to avoid hearing the alarm set for 4 and ate a pair of Barbara's famous cinnamon rolls, drank half a cup of coffee, got dressed and headed to the start with the neighbors. The whole motel was bustling at 4AM with doors slamming, showers going, chatter, etc.
Like it's no big deal at all, everyone left the armory, headed one block to third street and someone said go. The first 3 miles were dirt roads heading out of town and I settled in at the back of the pack. The pace felt mega quick and I wore my heart rate monitor today and noticed I was in the high 160s. I'd like to be 20 beats lower, but I was only ahead of 10 runners. Everyone said it slows way down in a few miles so I just focused on that. The first climb is a nice easy grade up ~4000 feet from town (8500) to over 13K. It included about 18 river crossings and is infamous for making your feet numb. I patiently waited at each crossing and got my turn on the log crossing to keep my feet dry the entire time. I appreciated it and wasn't concerned at all about the lost minute here and there. There was a lot of friendly conversation on this climb and it was great meeting my companions for the next 15 hours.

We headed up and up and eventually heard a pack of dogs barking which was Alpine aid station manned by Mad Dog. We were now in the sun and it was warming up quickly. Above Alpine was a beautiful alpine environment with a trail hugging some high ridges and peaks.

If you look closely, you can see runners all along the ridge in this photo. The trail skirts the big peak on the left.

Next came a merciless drop of all of that 4000 feet back down to 9000 ft. at Williams Creek. This descent started as high singletrack and ended as a rocky jeep road with lots of variation in between. I was careful to avoid rolling my ankle and carried trekking poles to soften my landings. It worked reasonably well and I was welcomed by Hannah and Heidi with loud, beautiful, ear piercing screams. It was great to see them, all systems checked, and I knew I wouldn't see them again for a long time.

Headed out of 15.7 aid and followed a dirt road for a few miles before starting another relentless 4500 ft climb to Carson.

This time the climb was mostly a jeep road, the heat was out in full force and I just focused on using my poles to push myself up. At the next aid station, I needed a little energy and settled on Mtn Dew. It went down well and was a nice alternative to my unflavored Vitargo that I'd been drinking all day from my camelbak. I loaded up on salty watermelon and looked forward to the high alpine ridge where I'd spend the next 12 miles above 12,000 feet. That's a long time at altitude and the usual San Juan gorgeous views were a bit hampered by smoke from the Weber wildfire near Mancos.
Runners all along the high ridge (with no views due to smoke in the air).

The climb progressed and I kept checking my watch to see how close I was to the course highpoint at 13,400. I finally hit it at about 8 hours on the day and basically a marathon under my belt. That's a slow marathon! Here's me at the highpoint, looking a bit worn from the big climbs:

I followed the never-ending ridge making good conversation with whoever was nearby. At mile 32 we hit an aid station just as I started having trouble with my patella/VMO thing that I dealt with last December. After fumbling with some Duct tape at the aid station, I decided to use an ace bandage that I brought with me that I intended on using on my ankle. I wrapped my knee super tightly and felt like I was about the cut the circulation off. However it seemed to do the trick and took some pressure off of the patella. I had 9 more miles to go to see the girls again and rumor was that the time cutoff at mile 40 was 6PM. I meticulously paid attention to my pacing and calculated that 20 min/miles would get me there in time. Since the course is mostly downhill-ish, I was able to walk sub 15 min/miles and arrived at Slumgullion Pass (mile 40) with about an hour to spare. Again I was greeted by my cheering family and took a seat to consume some calories. Hannah told me stories about their whole day and I found out they hung out at this aid station for 5 hours watching almost every runner go through! That's dedication. I shared some freezer pops with Hannah, loaded up with the remainder of my food and headed out knowing that I could just walk it in and still make the 16 hour cutoff. However there was one huge hill between me and the finish. The course sent us down some crazy runoff, bushwacking low country before crossing a private property sign at the Vicker's Ranch which began the final 1700 ft climb of the day. This climb was brutal after everything before. However the aspen grove was unreal. Gorgeous.
The climb was never ending and my watch died at mile 40, so I was stat-less and it was killing me. I just kept up with the rest of the field and no one passed me. Eventually - seemingly after a looong time - we crested a hill and it was smooth sailing downhill to the last aid station. I was at relatively low altitude (<11,500) and the trail was easy enough so I got in some good jogging that I didn't know I really had left. I eventually caught a few runners and cruised into the last aid station where they told me 4 miles to the finish. I was at 14h2m and figured I could break 15. 3.5 miles of trail into town followed by about a half mile through the city to the finish. I pushed hard and ran for miles. I saw no town nearby. Kept running and running. Felt like I easily covered 4 miles from the aid station and found myself on a nasty, rocky jeep road heading into town. My knee was screaming at this point and I was so annoyed by people that lie about distances to runners (if you're gonna lie, overestimate, don't underestimate, please). It felt much farther than 3.5 miles for sure and I pushed so hard to break 15 hrs. Eventually I made it to town but was still quite a ways from the finish line, well over a mile. I gave up on my 15 hr goal and just walked it in until a few blocks away when they radioed in my number to the finish line. I knew my girls would be waiting and cheering for me, so I picked it up and ran. About a block from the finish Hannah and Heidi ran out to me and Hannah started blabbing non-stop about how long it had been since they last saw me. She was full of stories and was running by my side. We started sprinting and she held my hand through the finisher's chute and was as cute as ever. I had waiting for this moment all day. It was awesome. A day later and I still don't really know or care what my exact time was. It was in the low 15s.

All in all it was a great toughening experience that I hope to be able to draw from in the future. I was perfectly happy with my pacing, energy, etc. When all the dust settles in the next couple of days, I'll see how my patella rebounds. I got asked several times, what was my favorite part of the course. My mind wasn't in that mindset. I was focused so keenly on not rolling my ankle, making it to the next aid station, eating, and wrapped up in conversation with whoever was nearby that I didn't find the time to really take in the beauty. I'll need to focus more on that in the future, but I treated this as a training run the whole time and hope to get a lot out of it.

Link to my Garmin data which cuts out at about 40 miles.