Monday, January 30, 2012

The Week That Was...January 22-28, 2012

A great thing about having a hobby, such as running, is that you get to learn a whole new set of acronyms. Acronyms are great. They enable a sense of elitism, or clubbiness. They confuse the uninitiated. And, they allow us to further render unintelligible the English language. So, let's try a few out:

HR (two meanings to this one)
PB (two meanings to this one, too)

...and so on.

The beauty of acronyms is that they are endless. There's always a new one to learn. In recent weeks, I've learned a new one, and one I sure as hell wish I had no cause to discover:  ITBS.

Yep, iliotibial band syndrome.  In other words, that damn thing that's making the outside of my right knee ache when I run.  As such was my week...

Monday:  Easy - 5.75 miles in the dark on the Custis Trail in Arlington, VA.

Tuesday: Speedwork - 9 miles. Hit the Washington & Lee High School track in Arlington, VA. This great facility is about three blocks from my organization's office. The plan was to do a ladder workout (400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400). Through the first half of the ladder I felt like I was flying. Worked my way up to the mile and run it at about 5:39. Everything was feeling great. Running hard, but not redlining. No doubt about finishing the workout without dropping off. Then, about halfway through the second 1200, the right knee started a-hurtin'. I pulled up 2/3 of the way through the 1200 to stretch and chill. Got mad...then got going again. Did two more 400s (each around 70 seconds) and called it a night. Jogged back to the hotel. Frustrated to feel so good fitness-wise, but end up hobbling.

Washington & Lee High School Track in Arlington, VA
Wednesday:  Off

Thursday:  Off - went to see a PT guy in Boulder about the ITBS. He did a bunch of ART (another acronym! - active release therapy) and used KT (another!) tape to try and tackle the problem.

Friday:  Off

Saturday: Long(ish) 16.53 miles. Early morning run with JY, WA, CB and JZ from Matthew Winters Open Space through Red Rocks, along the Hogback, a lap around Green Mountain (Lakewood) and back to the Hogback and Matthew Winters. Great time running with some great guys. Knee was solid until the descent down Green Mountain. Let the others continue on and walked the climb back up the Hogback on the Zorro Trail. To my surprise, those that didn't have a pressing time commitment waited at the top of Zorro and marched the rest of the way back with me. Good guys.

Will keep at the stretching, icing, rolling to address the ITBS. And, will, of course, take it as easy as is required. I'm also going to try some deep tissue massage to see if I can get things loosened up in the hips and legs (ouch).  Moab 55K in February is looking dicey at best.

Crap...that's another acronym - DNS. I hate that one.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Week That Was...January 15-21, 2012

Decent week, all-in-all. Getting a bit frustrated by the on-again, off-again ache in the outside of my right knee. Weird how it comes and goes on a given run, even on a long 32-mile run. There's nothing consistent about the pain. It just comes and goes.

Sunday - Off - taking it easy after the PP50K the day before. 1.5-hour Bikram (hot) yoga session in the a.m. New sweat volume PR. Felt markedly better after this session than I did pre-yoga. Growing more and more convinced of the recovery value of yoga following a hard run (provided, of course, one doesn't push the body too far stretching-wise). Best of all, JP and I do the classes together. So great to see her in action. She is the star of the classes...strong, steady and so flexible the teacher looks at her with envy. I'm happy to be the "before" example to her "after," when it comes to yoga (and so many other things).

Monday - Soda Creek Loop - 8:01 miles; 1:14; 1,234 feet o' elevation gain. Squeezed this one in before picking up the kids. Pleased to feel very solid after the hard run on Saturday. Right knee - good.

Tuesday - Off - schedule

Wednesday - Treadmill - for the first-time ever, all the treadmills (and even the elliptical machines) were full. I wandered around trying to decide what else I should do. Finally a 'mill opened up and I hopped on. 2 miles@8:00 w/u; 1 mile@5:52; .5 recovery; 1 mile@5:49; 1.5 mile c/d. Was planning on doing 3x1-mile but the first two wrecked me. On the second mile repeat, I was literally counting steps, ticking off the 1/100ths over the last 3/10s of a mile. Couldn't believe how hard these were. One of those sessions, I guess.  Knee - quiet.

Thursday - Mt. Sanitas - 6:38 miles; 1:09; 1,571 feet o' elevation gain. Lunch run from the office to the summit of Mt. Sanitas via the backside. An easy 21:38 from trailhead sign to summit marker. Lots of people out on the mountain today dressed as if it were summer. Knee - quiet until road run back to office, then a few pains.

Friday - Off - decided I would run the Southside 50K Fat A** on Saturday so opted to dodge the stress of squeezing in a run on a crushing workload day and conserve some energy for Saturday.

Saturday - Southside 50K+ - 32.35 miles; 5:19; 3,319 feet o' elevation gain. Got the tip early in the week from SY about this run. A group o' folks was planning to run a 50K route through the open space around Superior and Boulder. With 60+ degree temps forecasted, it wasn't a hard decision to make this another long training run to bookend last Saturday's PP50K. A nudge from fellow Evergreen-er Jason P. was all it took to seal the deal.

The run was a lot of fun. Wind was a bit of an issue through the rolling grasslands of Marshall Mesa, but not too bad. The run had a bit of everything...rolling, flat, hills...dirt, mud, snow, ice, name it.

Jason and I arrived just before the 7 a.m. start. Met a bunch of new folks from the Boulder/Lafayette/Niwot/Longmont netherworlds. Even managed to lure GZ out for a few miles. Funny moment...when I walked up to the start area, a burly looking guy steps out of a group of runners and marches straight at me with a very angry look on his face. For a few anxious seconds I was working hard to remember who I might have pissed off. In no time, I realized the burly-ness was actually a down jacket and the anger was a charade pulled off with great skill by non-other than GZ. Got the bear-hug rather than a smack in the kisser. Great poker face on that cat. Beware.

Ran pretty steady for the whole 50K. Had more than a few minutes the last five miles or so where I got to wondering what the hell I was doing. Running a long time doesn't always feel all that whippy. I found myself questioning whether it's worth it. A few hours later, I decided it was...for now.

Knee was solid most of the run, but barked a bit on the steady flat stuff that comprised the final 5-6 miles. Annoying.

For the week:  52.75 miles; 8:48; 6,123 feet o' elevation gain.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blowing in the Wind

Man...that was one hell of a windy night. I was awoken multiple times as violent wind gusts rocked the house. I could actually feel the house flinch as I lay in bed.

92 mph wind gusts in Boulder.

The wind drove me to the rec center treadmill Wednesday late afternoon for a bit of monotonous fun. Six miles at one percent grade (2 miles @8:00; 1 mile @5:52; .5 mile @8:00 recovery ; 1 mile @5:49; 1.5 miles c/d). The second mile repeat hurt something fierce. Was literally counting footsteps the last 3/10ths of a mile to assure myself I was going to hold on. Was wasted for the last 1.5 miles. Not a great run, but glad to have gotten in a couple sub-6 miles, even though they were hard. Lingering effects of Saturday's long run?

Followed up the running with three sets of Romanian deadlifts, kettleball swings and a mad dash to pick up the kids on time from school.

Oh, and (knock on wood) not a peep from the right knee. Fingers crossed.

Looking out the office window here in Boulder at mid-morning, it looks like things have calmed down substantially. Thinking a jaunt up Sanitas might be in order late this afternoon.

Jogged from the office to the summit of Mt. Sanitas. 6.38 miles; 1:09 roundtrip; 1,571 feet o' elevation gain. 21:38 from trailhead sign to summit marker. Lots of hiking. Trail conditions were near perfect, just a bit of wetness here and there. Lots of people out, and dressed as if it were May, not January. Beautiful day!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

(Yet Another) Ponderous Posterior Re-cap, Plus the Week That Was...

Definitely the highlight of the week was the Saturday morning trek down to Colorado Springs for the second annual Ponderous Posterior 50K. I can't say enough good things about this little jaunt around Manitou Springs. Great weather. Great course. Great people. Great organization.

Beyond the PP50K, the week was so-so. Had a couple days off and a couple of good runs. A quick run-down:

Monday:  Soda Creek -  6 miles; 49:21; 838 feet o' elevation gain. Easy jog through this hilly 'hood.

Tuesday:  Chautauqua - Mesa - Bear Canyon - Green Mountain Loop - 8:23 miles; 1:46; 2,887 feet o' elevation gain. An auditory celebration.

Wednesday:  Off - work/family schedule ate up the day. About 7 p.m. I pulled into the rec center parking lot after driving up from Denver, got out of the car, took 10 steps in the freezing cold with my quads barking loudly at me and called it a day. Went home. Quads were aching from the hard run down Green Mountain on Tuesday - my first use of Micospikes this year.

Thursday:  Off - not enough time in a busy day to get out. Good thing, too. The cold and wind were ferocious.

Friday:  Elk Meadow Open Space - 6 miles; 1:10; 844 feet o' elevation gain. Thursday's wind had kicked up a lot of snow. This was a slog of a late afternoon run. Knee-deep snow drifts were everywhere. Ugh.

Saturday:  Ponderous Posterior 50K - 29.15 miles; 5:47; (5:24 running time); 6,788 feet o' elevation gain. Ran to the car to lose the tights as people were gathering in JT's yard for the 7 a.m. start as warm weather was expected. By the time I got back to the house, everyone was gone. Nothing like a bit of tempo to start a 50K!

Caught up the the back of the pack as we entered Red Rocks.  Slowly worked my way up to the lead group over the next mile or two. Had a great time running with PG, JY and TG, plus a host of new faces from across the Front Range. The pace was easy and the views/temps/company were perfect.

My right knee pretty early let me know that it wasn't happy. It was aching and occasionally bitching at me. I started thinking about dropping after the Incline. I'd never been up the Incline and really wanted to make the 2K climb up. The climb was tough, but manageable at our laid-back pace. Once up top, I decided to continue on to the aid station at the mouth of Waldo Canyon and see how things went.  I took the descent down snow-covered road through Longs Ranch way easy.  Knee was still grumpy, but holding up fine.

Starting up the Incline. Photo: PG.
A few folks were gathered at the truck taking on water and fuel (and PBR...not sure if that's water or fuel).  Never really contemplated dropping at the truck. Figured it would take longer to wait for a ride than it would to finish the run. I nudged TG and off we went for the climb up Waldo. We pretty much ran all the dirt and hiked the icy sections as we made our way down into and up Williams.

I really enjoyed Waldo/Williams. We just ran/hiked steady and before we knew it, we popped out on Rampart Range Road for the final descent down to the Garden of the Gods and back to JT's place.

I was pretty happy with the run. No rough spots, no wrong turns and we finished strong. Knee was no worse for the wear, although the discomfort was/is frustrating.  Hitting the foam roller, icing and stretching regularly to keep at bay what I suspect is some IT band stuff.

Great time catching up with folks back at JT's house and enjoying some fine post-race food and beers.  Many thanks to JT for hosting and for everyone that took the time to mark the course. The CRUD South gang puts on one hell of an event!

Learned this morning that a large group of the 7 a.m. starters, including me, missed the out-and-back up Red Mountain, which explains why we ended up a bit short of a true 50K. Bummer.

Early Sunday I morning, I joined JP for my third-ever yoga class. This time is was a 1.5-hour Bikram yoga class, which meant even more sweating than the previous two sessions I've done this winter. I am convinced yoga is a great long run recovery activity. I feel so much better after these classes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sounds of the Trail

Running is a treat for the senses...the sights, sounds, temperature, wind, footing and smells all stimulate some aspect of our five senses, whether we think about it or not. Sometimes, though, a particular sense is activated and for a given run, that sense dominates.

So was the case on Tuesday's jaunt up Green Mountain as I was struck by the sounds of the mountain.

The run began around 3:30 p.m. from Chautauqua, climbing the old paved road to the Mesa Trail. The trail was, as expected, a mix of snow, ice, dirt and mud. No traction required (on the ascent).

I made my way over to the junction with the Bear Canyon Trail and started climbing. The further up I went, the more aware I become of the few sounds around me.

First, it was the pleasant gurgling of Bear Canyon Creek running beneath a layer of ice and snow, reminding me that even on the coldest days, our mountains remain invaluable water factories for the plants, animals and human communities that surround them.

On the climb up Green-Bear, I paused to listen to the distant caw of a crow, it's call forlorn and almost out of place on such a beautiful, sunny day.

Soon I was standing on Green Mountain's summit rock, marveling at the fact that there was no wind. None. It was perfectly still. I noticed then the constant, low rumble generated by the 97,000 or so souls moving around and going about their days down below in Boulder. Their collective sounds rolled up, combined and enveloped the mountain in a strangely comforting auditory embrace.

Green Mountain's summit marker. Photo: Brandon Fuller
Just then, the whistle of a train dropping down the side of Eldorado Mountain echoed through the hills, adding a new dimension of sound to the bass line of the city. The train's sound reminded me of hearing as a kid in Kansas the same distant whistle in the summer through my open bedroom window. To me the whistle is as much a warning as it is a reminder of movement, of going in running.

On the run down Green's frontside, the dominant sounds became of my own making -- the scrape of Microspikes on ice and rock, or the satisfying "squench" when spikes found a solid purchase in firmly packed snow, propelling me around a sharp switchback.

Once back at the now dark Gregory Canyon parking lot, the sounds became those of others. A car driving down Flagstaff Road, a dog barking in the backyard of a house in the neighborhood adjacent to the open space.

The low rumble of humanity I heard atop Green's summit now was just the usual collection of individual sounds. The crows were quiet, and the train's whistle now was drowned out by the immediate din of the neighborhood.

Running is, indeed, a treat for the senses.

Distance: 8.23 miles
Time: 1:46 (Green descent - 20:57)
Elevation gain: 2,887

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Week that Was - January 1 - 7, 2012

Ah yes...a new year. The time when many make new resolutions, big plans and look back to take stock of the year that just ended. I am definitely a big fan of that stuff. Thus, my resolution is to make some big plans as soon as I finish reviewing 2011.

Until then, I'll try to keep up the daily ultramarathon of work, family, running and volunteering.

So, the week that was:

Monday: Steady - 10.38 miles; 1:38; 1,105 feet o' elevation gain - Hiwan - the Ridge - Kittredge. Met up at DW's house and ran through two local 'hoods and snuck over to the dirt road that leads down into Kittredge. Ran down to Bear Creek, east down Bear Creek Canyon. Climbed back up via Kerr Gulch. Took the upper sneak back into the Ridge and retraced our steps to DW's house.

Tuesday: Tempo - 8:59 miles; 1:16; 384 feet o' elevation gain - Upper Bear Creek Road.  Met up w/ Steve F. for this one. Two mile w/u jog up the road, then two miles of uphill tempo (6:31; 6:20). Actually, I did about 2.25 miles of tempo because I missed the prominent mile marker post. Turned around and did a mile easy, then two more miles of tempo (5:56; 5:55). One mile c/d.

Wednesday:  Climbing - 5:12 miles; 1:06; 1,513 feet o' elevation gain - Flagstaff Mountain. Started late afternoon from Eben G. Fine and climbed up the trail to the sign that marks the loop atop of the mountain in 33:24. Trail conditions were decent, with constantly changing mix of snow, ice and dirt. Most of the descent was in the dark. Naturally, I had no light. Took me 32:50 to get down (a whopping 34 seconds faster than the ascent).

Thursday:  Easy w/ hill fartleks - 9:23 miles; 1:18; 1,279 feet o' elevation gain - Ran a slightly abbreviated version of my 10-mile loop through the Soda Creek subdivision. Got in an extra mile on the bike path around Bergen Park. Toward the end of the loop my right knee started hurting - a very noticeable ache on the outside. Walked the last quarter mile.

Friday:  1 mile; 8 minutes - treadmill, Buchanan Rec Center. 6-7 miles was the plan, but my right knee objected. After some tense negotiations, I relented and headed to the weights. One and a half sets of squats was about all the knee would allow, so I scrapped that too and setting for a series of core exercises on the soft floor around the climbing wall where jP and CP were climbing. Frustrating, but was able to watch a lot more of the kids rock climbing that I would have otherwise.

Saturday: 23.25 miles ; 3:32; 2,137 feet o' elevation gain - Hooked up with CB for some early morning jogging. Started at the dirt parking lot at the Morrison exit of C-470. We headed north to Green Mountain running on the bike path along C-470, noting that the mountain ahead looked tantalizingly free of snow. As we drew even with the mountain, we called an audible and hung a right and did a loop around the southeast side of the mountain. We continued along to the snowier/icier north side before climbing steeply up to the signal towers (after I made a rather unglamorous butt slide down a steep, icy section of trail). We descended the west side of the mountain and ran the C-470 bike path back to the cars. I bid CB adieu (family commitments) and headed out for a nine-mile bike path/road loop through Bear Creek Lake park. My knee felt a little twingy now and then, but held up fine.

Lakewood's Green Mountain in the distance. From near Mt. Carbon. 
Road down from the Bear Creek Lake dam, looking southwest.

Total:  67.49 miles; just shy of 10 hours; 7,253 feet o' elevation gain. Overall a very solid week. The knee issue that cropped up Thursday, and forced the day off on Friday was frustrating, but seems to be manageable (as it held up OK on Saturday's long run). Fingers crossed that it was a fleeting protestation.

On Sunday I sweated my way through my second-ever yoga class with JP. I sweated so much over the hour-long class that my fingers were pruned and I regularly found myself laying in my mat's very own private sweat pond. I feel like these sessions are great for long-run recovery. I felt so much better post yoga work-out than before. Hope to make these a somewhat weekly affair. After the class, I went home and read the NYTimes Magazine article on the injury risks of yoga. Good reminder to take it easy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Closing Out the Year

Running-wise, the last two weeks of 2011 had their ups and downs. The ups...some very nice runs. The downs...helping Santa unload a table tennis table and tweaking my back. He better get his truck lift fixed before he tries to deliver something heavy again here at Chez Jim P.!

The highlights:

Fairview High School Track - Boulder - hit this track late afternoon on December 20th before heading out to dinner with a good friend. Arrived feeling flat, not sure what I wanted to do. Thought about mile repeats and 800s. Problem was I felt tired, and miles seemed too long and 800s seems just a little less so. Settled on 8x400.  Ran them all fairly strong, but started seeing stars at the end of the last few. Still, ran 'em all at a consistent pace (75, 75, 76, 76, 75, 75, 75, 74), which is something like a 5:00 pace.

This run was followed by some really, really good food at Pizzeria Locale on Pearl Street. Highly recommend this joint.

Bergen Peak - Evergreen - the annual Adamowski Christmas Eve run actually took place on Christmas Eve this year. Once again, a large group of runners from across the Evergreen area and beyond met up Saturday morning for a variety of local runs. Groups split up based on time/speed/interest. The nearly three feet of snow we got a few days prior made this an interesting run. I joined up with a group of eight heading up Bergen Peak. By turn-off for the Bergen Peak trail, we were down to six people off the front, with a pair of snowshoers leading the way, including Travis M. and Jason P. (let the Hardrock training begin!), as well as a few other locals. 

Mid-way up the mountain the deep snow was taking its toll and I was starting to think snowshoes would have been the way to go. Meanwhile, the snowshoers and Jason were a couple minutes ahead and out of sight. After gaining the upper ridge and running along a bit, I saw the snowshoe tracks heading left directly up Bergen's flank. I opted to stay on the barely tracked trail and slogged my way to the overlook near the summit. I saw some snowshoe tracks there, but no people. I finished things up by making first-tracks over to the summit sign at the true summit. 

After tagging the sign, I retraced my steps back down the mountain and ran straight home to jump into family stuff. Fortunately, our plans for the day weren't too vigorous because the slog through all the snow up Bergen Peak wasted me. 

Beyond those two memorable (for me, at least) runs, it's been a series of road and treadmill runs here in Evergreen and from my dad's place in Kansas. 

Looking forward to staying healthy and working hard in 2012 in the build-up to the Leadville 100 in August.