Monday, November 21, 2011

The Week That Was...November 14-20

Were it not for the schedule-induced (er...the "I hate running early during the week") gaps, this would have been a solid week.  If not solid from a mileage standpoint, the week was solid from a quality standpoint with some tempo and a good long run.

Monday - 7.1 miles; 50:56 - Worked from the LoDo office. Got out on the Cherry Creek bike path, pressed for time, just as it was getting dark. Was feeling a bit lackadaisical, but decided to get after it a wee bit. No warm-up. Just started going.  The miles went like this (7:16, 7:00; 7:09; 7:15; 6:33; 6:20).

Tuesday - 7.2 miles; 60:00(ish) - Long day at work, but managed a trip to the rec center around 7:30 p.m.  Hopped on the treadmill.  Did five miles at 8:06 pace at 1%, 4%, 1%, 5%, 1%, than a mile at 6:58 at 1% and a c/d mile at 9:5 at 1%.  Jumped into a lower body workout post-run (squats, abductor/adductor, dumbell lunges, etc...)

Wednesday - off

Thursday - 5.26 miles; 36:37 - Squeezed in a quick run from the LoDo office on the Cherry Creek and South Platte bike paths. Just aimed for getting in five miles (7:22, 6:59; 6:35; 6:42; 6:23; .26 c/d) before I had to leave to head back to Evergreen for a land trust board meeting.

Friday - Planned on running. Even had the shorts on for most of the afternoon. Just couldn't get away. Frustrating.

Saturday - 20.48 miles; 3:03; 1,455 feet o' elevation gain - Woody A. hosted a fabulous run at his place in Highlands Ranch. A great group of 16 area runners gathered for a jaunt in the Highlands Ranch Backcountry. True to word, there actually is some backcountry there. Tons of trails, too.  I was surprised at how much there is to run out beyond and within that vast subdivision. We were treated to a post-run feast at Woody's place.  Many, many thanks to Tanya and Woody for hosting us all. It was really great to re-connect with friends and make new ones. And, it was swell to put a few new faces to blog personas - Chris B., Wyatt H.

Most of crew pauses for a pic at the tail-end of Saturday's run.
Sunday - 8.39 miles; 1:44; 1,693 feet o' elevation gain - A.M. - JP and I went to a morning yoga class, my first-ever exercise class of any kind...ever.  Hell of a workout. Tons of stretching, sweating and core work. Very satisfying, and humbling.  P.M. - Early evening run up and around the upper loop on Bergen Peak. Took Maya with me. Got about 30 minutes in and had to break out the headlamp. Ran easy due to snow/ice in the trees and upper ridge. I was amazed at how well Maya navigated the dark trail (and surrounding environs) in the dark. Sure would be great to have eyes that functioned that well in the darkness.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Week That Was...

Starting to get back into some structure and a wee bit o' consistency, albeit with some scheduling struggles. Solid week with a couple of quality days and some good runs in between.

Did all the runs this week in a pair of Saucony Peregrines. I've had these shoes since early summer, but haven't run much in them. Used them mostly as walking around kicks. Decided to try them out again since I was doing a fair bit of non-technical running (Sunday being the exception). I really like them...light weight, minimal heel drop.

Monday - off

Tuesday - Tempo - Upper Bear Creek Road - 1:13; 10 miles; 434 feet o' elevation gain. Jogged five miles up the road from the Evergreen Lakehouse, the turned around and headed back.  Stuck in two miles at 6:10 - 6:15 on the way back. Perfect chilly, sunny Colorado day.

Wednesday - off (unplanned) - Work schedule got the best of me and wasn't able to get the run in.

Thursday - Hill repeats - Quarterhorse Road - 4.64 miles; 40:18; 706 feet o' elevation gain. Pressed for time. Hauled myself the mile or so over to the bottom of Quarterhorse Road and did 3x3-minute hill repeats. Each was about .4 mile in length on a fairly steep dirt road. The plan was for 6x3-minute, but time was fleeting and had to cut things short.

Friday - Easy - Buchanan Rec Center - Troublesome Gulch - 55:20; 6.12 miles; 540 feet o' elevation gain. Easy jog with Steve F. Felt really solid and fresh. Great feeling. Hit the weights at the rec center post-run. Long series of squats, Bosu ball/dumbell squats, dumbell lunges, leg press, hip adductor/abductor machine, back extensions and calf raises.

Saturday - Easy - Buchanan Rec Center - Elk Meadow - Troublesome Gulch - 1:28; 9.01 miles; 928 feet o' elevation gain. Early morning run around the Meadow View trail in Elk Meadow followed by a run down Lewis Ridge Road and up Troublesome Gulch to complete the loop.  Ran with Steve F. and Steve G. Wind really started kicking up the last couple of miles.  Major stop-in-your-tracks gusts testing our mettle.

Sunday - Moderate - Bergen Peak Upper Loop - 1:35; 9.41 miles; 1,868 feet o' elevation gain. From the house, ran up the neighborhood access trail to the upper lot at Elk Meadow Open Space. Ran the upper loop clockwise. Trail conditions were pretty good with the icy sections confined to the dense tree sections. Hit the Summit Trail intersection in 49 minutes flat. Steady, but not hard effort. Felt great.  Back down via Too Long, Meadow View and Painter's Pause. Finished up in the dark with a mile of pavement.

I really enjoyed and respected Aaron K.'s pursuit of the Free Fall Marathon course record. Not only did he nab the CR, he also set a marathon PR in the face of some fierce Colorado winds.

With a month and a half to go in 2011, is it too early to declare the top 25 beers of the year?  Apparently not.  My favorite most-feared...the Mangalitsa Pig Porter, brewed with five cold-smoked pig heads and a bag of pig bones.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Weekend Jogging

I'm trying to recommit to working on my body's weaknesses, which pretty much means everything. So, at least twice a week to the rec center gym will be part of the routine through the winter and into the spring.

I did this two years ago, and had some good results from core work and over all strengthening...fewer injuries, form holding up longer during epic runs, etc... This past year, well, not so much...

So, a new commitment.

In that spirit, I hit the gym twice this week, but really only hit the weights once, which was Saturday evening. After a six-mile treadmill run (8:30; 7:30x2; 6:30; 8:30x2), I stepped into the squat rack (3 easy sets of  10 reps at 135 lbs), 3 sets of lunges with dumbells, then onto the hip abductor machine and the quad raise machine. (Then the sauna.) Figured that was enough for a start. Didn't want to be too sore for the Sunday morning long run.


Today's long(ish) run was 16 easy miles (2:34; 1,672 feet o' elevation gain) with Steve F. looping southeast from Elk Meadow's lower lot through the Ridge subdivision and into hills above Kittredge via an unmarked connector. Once down to Bear Creek, we ran a few miles through a neighborhood and into O'Fallon Open Space before ascending Kerr Gulch Road and sneaking back into the Ridge via another unmarked connector. Jogged back to the cars via roads through the Ridge and Hiwan 'hoods.

The pace was very easy, but it didn't feel that way. After the first six miles, my glutes and groin muscles were barking at me, "Why the squats and the hip abductor machine before a long run, you idiot?!"

Still, made it through the run. Everything will feel much better, and I'll be glad to have the first workout soreness bit done. Eager to see if I can stick with the plan. I'm sure it will pay dividends by the time summer rolls around. Wouldn't mind some additional muscle strength for that double crossing of Hope Pass.


Headed out in mid-afternoon for a hike in the Mt. Vernon/Beaver Brook Open Space off the Genessee Exit off I-70 with J and C, along with Cisco and Maya. We did a bunch of exploring down an old two-track, which C named the "Old Bridge Road" for the rotten remains of an old bridge we came across.  We probably hiked a good four miles with a significant amount of on and off-trail elevation gain. We had a really great time...letting the dogs roam, romp and explore while we did the same. Good times.

Juniper berries. Photo: CP 
C & J and Cisco.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Knowing Your Limits...or Not

So, yesterday I posted that signing up for the Leadville 100 trail run scared me. It isn't Leadville, per se, that scares me. I'd likely feel much the same had I signed up for any other 100. And, it's not the distance that scares me, although I certainly have a healthy dose of respect for it.

What scares me about the 100-mile distance is the mental aspect.

I think I have the mental toughness to grind out 100 miles, mind you. I worry, though, about whether I have the perspective required to know when to quit.

Last year at the San Juan Solstice 50, I out-ran my training and finished better than I should have given the work I'd put in. In the process, I ended up a shaking, shivering, aching mass of skin and bones at the finish line. I could barely move. The woman offering free massages at the finish ordered me off her table into a chair and she practically force-fed me electrolytes. My piss was a lovely earth tone color. Not good.

A few days later, I spent two days in a hotel room bed in D.C. wracked with the worst flu I think I've ever had. A few days after that, I was having an MRI on my cervical spine to try and figure out why I had intense pain that felt like someone had dumped hot lead on my shoulders and let it drip down my arms.

Fast forward to November and I'm still recovering from a gem of an auto-immune-connected brachial plexus neuropathy, which basically means my body turned on itself and started treating nerve cells in a nerve cluster beneath my right collarbone as the enemy. In the process, I chewed up some of my very own (and important) nerve cells, causing all sorts of issues down my right arm...loss of strength and fine motor skills, odd tingling and the long-since-gone pain.  Fortunately, the body has slowly been doing its repair work and things are 85 percent or more back to normal.

Did I miss during the run signs that I was doing more than the usual damage? Did I find my limit and kept going? Or, did I simply get a dose of bad post-race luck, picking up a virus thanks to an immune system depressed by the exertion of running 50 miles and hitting the jackpot in terms of the rare auto-immune response to the virus?

No real way to know.

Undoubtedly, though, it's all connected to the race.

So, will I put in the time and effort to get to Leadville in the kind of condition necessary to meet my yet-unstated goals? Will I manage to run to my potential, or better? Will my body endure the torture without another rebellion? Will I have the mental strength to quit if the signs point in that direction?

You know...come to think of it, answering those questions is exactly why I signed up for this race.

Nevermind. I'm not scared, I'm excited!

P.S. 8 miles yesterday late afternoon in Elk Meadow running the Meadow View-Plus route in the mud, slush and snow.

Friday, November 4, 2011

This scares me.

When my beautiful wife got home tonight, I told her I'd done something that scared me (and it had nothing to do with the $15 "service fee."

More to come.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


There's little doubt that consistency is a key to running success.  I have been incredibly consistent lately when it comes to running.

The problem is that what's been consistent is my inconsistency.

Work/family commitments have kept me running in place...kid activities, work projects, board meetings, late nights, early mornings... It all adds up to fewer and fewer places to squeeze in the daily run.

So, I've been trying to make the most out of the times I can run.  Most runs, when they happen, fit into the "quality" category - tempo runs, intervals, long runs, etc...

Last week, for example, during a trip to Washington, D.C., I got in a nice 20-mile jog from my hotel up into the upper reaches of Rock Creek Park.  Two days later, on Tuesday, I ran did an eight-mile bike path run with 4x800-meter repeats (3:00; 2:50: 2:50; 2:39) in the middle.  Got in a couple local jogs, too.

So far this week I managed a 14-mile hilly jog on Sunday and the first treadmill workout since last winter.  I actually enjoyed the 'mill yesterday.  I did 2 miles@7:30 w/u followed by 1x1 mile at 5:49; 1x1 mile at 6:30; and, 1x2 miles at 7:30; 1x1 mile at 8:30 and wrapped it up with a half-mile speed hike at 14 percent grade. Nice workout, but I could feel effects of the inconsistency and depressed mileage. My plans to do three mile repeats under 6 were scrapped after the first one. My fitness is just too far off.  Felt good, though, to sweat. And, the local rec center has new treadmills. The one I used can go up to a 30 percent grade. Very solid, impressive machine, as treadmills go.

I realize I need to make a commitment to getting up and running early in the morning, at least on the day's when JP's and my schedules align and the early mornings are available. Consistency takes commitment...and that's what I need to work on.

Looking Ahead

I've also just begun thinking about what I want to do running-wise next year. I've been mulling over giving the Leadville 100 a shot. I remain interested in tackling a 100-mile race. I'm not excited about the course, but it's local(ish) and logistically much easier to manage.  By the time I make a decision, though, I'm sure the race will be filled.

I also might toss my hat again into the Wasatch 100 ring and see if the Lottery Gods like me this year.

Or, I might just stick with the marathon (Pikes Peak) and 50-mile distance (Run Rabbit Run). It's looking like I will not be around in June for a return to the San Juan Solstice. That's a bit of a bummer as I'm keen on trying to break 10 hours on the non-snow course.  There's a good chance, though, that I will run the Safaricom Marathon in Northern Kenya at the end of June instead. Fingers crossed on that one.

Time to go for a run.