Wednesday, November 30, 2016

RunAspen.Com Updates

I am beginning to generate content on RunAspen.Com and now I have a grand total of THREE articles over there... The number three sort of makes me cringe because on - I have written 593 articles in just over two years... I have a very long way to go! :)

But anyway... I plan to divide the articles on RunAspen.Com into a handful of categories to start with. For instance, I intend to write a ton of articles on Leadville 100 training and coaching specifically and I began that today by writing this article...

Leadville 100 Trail Run Coaching Basics – Mileage

The other two articles are about recovering after taking time off and another specific to winter running which is geared more to winter running in and around Aspen but can be applied anywhere that winter is an issue for runners.

One of my specific end-goals for my blog on RunAspen.Com is to have it be the central clearing house on the web for ALL of the information that anyone wanting to run the LT100 (or any 100 for that matter) that is second to none... That's a tall order right there... but over time I think I can do just that.

You can help! (Please) If you like the articles and want to share them, please do. Please comment as well. All of that goes a great deal towards making this new site more valuable in the eyes of the interweb god known as Google. ;)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Cat Is Out Of The Bag


What the heck HAS Andy been up to since Leadville... after all, he has been kind of quiet...

Sit back and I will share with you the full story...

Much of what happens in my life is a nifty combination of both accident and design and I do not think that my newest direction in life is any different.

For most of my life I have worked with other runners as much as I can to help. After all, that is what this blog was initially about, sharing what I mostly learn the hard way, etc.

And just about every year or so I "adopt" a project runner and help him or her reach his or her goals in the sport of running. It's been fun and it's been a neat side-gig of sorts... heck, I've been flown first class to run marathons with people I have worked with and even put up in some fancy lodging for the weekend on top of that.

Anyway, this summer I found myself in a situation where I was balancing four such athletes, coaching them nearly daily. One runner - I had been working with her since the beginning of the year to run her first trail marathon this past August.

Maybe what sort of pushed me over the edge was being a guide at the Leadville 100 Training Camp this summer. Even though I have to admit it really didn't register with me at the time, it was truly a demarcation point that marked the beginning of me moving in a different and unexpected direction.

You see... that weekend I had the best weekend of my entire summer. I got to help people... I got to run... and I got to help people running!

At any rate, move fast forward to just after this year's Leadville 100 and in my post race ennui - and contemplating the big "What's next?" question... it all sort of came to me...

Now... now it is time for me to step up and to begin coaching runners professionally. I have trained under the best, Weber and Lucho, and along the way even have developed my own best practices the past two years being self-coached 100%. My skills and knowledge are there otherwise how could the runners that I have been working with be doing so well, right?

So the big question then became do I really want to do it? Do I want to take this on as a new job, a new business? My number one fear if I had one was this, I did not want to end up like the guy who loves fishing so much that he buys a bait and tackle shop, only to discover that he never gets to go fishing anymore... I love running so my challenge was to figure out and convince myself that I can run both businesses (well) and still run for myself. I can. I know I can, and that is what I am going to do.

But I bounced the idea off of many of those I consider "close" to me who I knew could and would be objective about the idea. Or be realistic at least... and to a one, everyone was over the moon supportive. However, what pushed me over the edge was a completely out of the blue email that I received in early October from one of the training camp attendees who had finished the Leadville 100 and wrote to thank me for all the help I had given him before the race.

I took that as a sign, fully committed and have been moving forward on the project ever since.

RunAspen.Com is formally an LLC in the state of Colorado and that was my first step, actually creating a living and breathing legal business entity.

Next came the website and digital footprint design of it all and the website is up and I posted my FIRST article there today geared towards people running in Aspen during the wintertime. But there will also be a ton of Leadville specific articles as I add more content through the following months.

So there you have it... at least the broad strokes... Happy to say though that today, looking at the website traffic... things are very promising.

As for me... personally... things are good. Not much running lately due to a cold and a slight hamstring pull.... we started snow making last week (nearly three weeks late) and that will be a solid push until year-end I believe. And then, well, all of the work on - I think that catches you up to now.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Time To Chill

Running up the backside of Aspen Mountain last week.
I have yet to regain what feels like balance post Leadville 100 but I feel as if I am getting closer.

The third week after Leadville I really began to feel good again. And actually the Saturday, three weeks after, I felt AWESOME. My regular Wednesday morning running buddy and I went out and did a run that Saturday like our typical 12-14 mile Wednesday morning runs that we did all summer and I felt fantastic throughout the entire run.


But the week after that I paced at Run Rabbit Run and ran with my runner a solid on the nose 40 miles which put me back to square one it felt like in terms of recovery.

Started running again last Wednesday as it felt like it was time and I was trying to take my temperature to see if I really wanted to jump into a local 10K which was this past Saturday. Knocked the rust off... got the legs moving again and ended up probably running one of my best 10K's ever and even managed to take 3rd overall.

Looking to run a cross country 5K this coming weekend and am excited about that.

Wyatt wrote a little about what's next for him in terms of running in 2017... I am nowhere near ready to even try to define that yet for myself. Two races I am certain about (mostly) but Hardrock is the wild-card and will ultimately drive the bus for next season.

If I do not get into HR100 I will have to do a HR100 qualifier next year. As much as I love RRR100, after running it twice and pacing it twice, right now I do not think that I want to consider it for next year. The Mogollon Monster has always interested me since its inception a few years ago and that might provide me with some motivation as it is all new. Plus, I like running a 100 in September... it makes summer seem to last longer.

As for my big what's next question... I have found myself backed into a corner (in a good way) about another line of business. Everyone that I have talked to has loved the idea and even those whom I thought would be more "realistic" about it. Anyway, lots of work to get done and done quickly before I launch that hopefully by the end of October. I read something recently that said "Do It Pro From The Get Go" and this is my train of thought with the new venture...

I did 3000 pushups in September.  And I have to tell you, it was kind of hard... My goal for October is now 4000 and on top of that just keep/get my running to a point where I am just fit... Why all the pushups? Snowmaking begins on November 1st and my first shift will be on November 3rd... I want to be in shape for that.

Time to chill.... temps have officially dropped here in Aspen. Should have worn gloves during my mid-day run today... summer is officially over, at least here.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

An Old Job

Summer 1993, Colorado. I am camped high in the Rocky Mountains with a coworker, P.M. P's a salty older guy, ex-Navy, and it only takes one look at him to see "spook" written all over his face. We work together on an aerospace defense contract but that weekend is all about fun. P's already dragged my sorry ass which is 30 years younger than his all over various drainages that evening showing me "his elk." P's basically giving me his old hunting area which unknown to me will become my stomping ground for nearly the next 20 years of my life.

Camp is meager. We have eaten and I build a small fire in a one foot diameter hole that I just dug up. I laid my pad and sleeping bag out and and proceed to get comfortable as I feed small pieces of fuel into the flames.

P who doesn't really talk a lot out of nowhere just says, "sort of reminds you of sitting over pile of burning yak shit in Afghanistan, eh?"

I am sure he can see that all of the color has washed out my face as I stare back at him blankly and begin to recall an earlier day...

In my entire life I had never seen so many stars in the sky. There was no moon which made the stars even more brilliant above the stark and barren landscape. "Mars" I thought to  myself. "This is what Mars must look like."

Well except for the goats which would randomly bleat in the night. Unless of course Mars has goats.

It was late in the year, early winter 1988 and "the team" was well within the borders of Afghanistan. The Soviets had already began their exit from the country but there was still a strong presence there.

Regardless, it was a lot easier to move around the countryside watching and observing.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan provided a cornucopia of intelligence and information for our country to assess their forces. For nearly a decade "we" got to watch them play war (and lose) and subsequently catch hell from the Mujaheddin. It allowed for honest assessments of troop strengths, weapons technology, tactics, and wartime doctrine. A lot of information "walked" out of Afghanistan on its own accord but sometimes, well sometimes, we had to go in and get it.

We had been in-country for three days marching towards our objective. Our herd of more or less 20 tame goats were our cover. Five seemingly unarmed men with a herd of goats in those remote regions would barely raise any concern if viewed from afar. The goats provided cover, served as sentries at night and well, to be honest... a meal or two.

It was about an hour before sunup as the team was concealed within a pocket of boulders backed by a cliff. I was on post allowing everyone else to sleep and I was freezing my ass off. I could feel the wooden stock of the Dragunov just sucking any and all of the heat out of my hands though my wool gloves. A goat was moving and apparently kicked a rock causing me to jump. Damn I was going to be glad when that night was over and I could get some sleep before we started moving again. I was so tired that I was staring to feel nauseous and buzzy in the head but it was worth it to allow the rest of the team rest.

Steve, our team leader finally roused a bit earlier than usual and moved over to where I was sitting and told me to catch some Z's. He and I had only been working together for a year and though he was only four years older than me chronologically, he had been in the game long enough to appear to everyone as the seasoned and wise old pro that he was. We switched positions and I climbed back into the rocks and crawled under my blanket and easily slipped into a deep and dreamless slumber.

The job was really an easy one as jobs go. Our team was to meet a Soviet Air Force officer who was "retiring early" as it were, defecting actually, and we were to escort him out. Easy right? A small invading force of five, in a country invaded by a much larger force, helping one of them leave, get across to a safe border, and to do all of this undetected, caught or killed. 

The getting killed part really never bothered me. For starters, being so young my mortality was not something that I had yet to experience. For me it was about the dying in a place where I technically wasn't. But it is a really strange sensation being somewhere you aren't suppose to be, should be or could be on so many levels. No ID's, no papers, nothing that would or could betray the origins of our little band of merry makers. In a sense, we were nobodies and non-existent.

Steve came over and kicked my boot letting me know it was time to get up and go. Someone had put together and managed to cook a huge pot of oatmeal so I was lucky enough to get the leftovers and down about half a canteen of water before we started moving. Fortunately we were only a few hours from the meeting point and an easy walk with the only real challenge being keeping all of those damned goats in order and at least give the appearance this wasn't our first time as goat herders. 

Again the thing about the terrain was just how bleak it was. Yes there were mountains but almost in a way everything seemed prehistoric. Even worse for me was the fact that it all just looked the same.  Boulder, boulder, boulder, sand, dirt, dry stream bed, boulder, boulder, sand, dirt, dry stream bed...

When we finally found our stopping point, I really had to look around because I could have sworn it was the same damned place we started from just three hours earlier!

We set up trying to look like just what we were trying to look like except for Josh who tucked himself up higher with the Bren SAW with that ridiculous damned magazine sticking out the top end of the receiver. When it got closer to show time I would be up in the rocks with him behind my Dragunov to increase our odds if anything hinky happened and to put us at some tactical advantage if we needed it.

Fortunately, that never became necessary.

Soviets... Russians... I swear I have never met a more dramatic, passionate, romantic, and in a weird way almost flamboyant bunch of people. Because bigger than shit from across the valley and headed straight towards us, wearing what we would call his Class A's or full dress uniform, and on a damned white as the virgin snow horse that anyone can see for 1000 miles in this god forsaken landscape is our man coming right towards us.

So much for subtlety...

All of us were speechless until he arrived. Each of us looking at each other in total disbelief. Can this really be happening? I mean the guy on a horse I understand but fucking white? And what is with the uniform? Damn. I am looking at the sky expecting to see helicopters, Hinds, at any minute circling above our pos.

The rider finally arrives among us and Lou who is our best linguist starts interrogating him. Mostly because I am damned sure Lou wants to know just as much as the rest of us just what the hell this joker was thinking. Secondly, because none of the rest of us can speak Russian worth a damned and then only enough to really insult someone's mother. Not very useful in the current situation.

Lou and the rider (a Colonel) talk back and forth then both burst out laughing. Now we are really confused. Lou senses this and turns to the team and explains that the base where the Colonel rode from had a military parade that morning, hence the horse and the dress uniform. After the parade the Colonel had told his aide that he was going for a ride outside the fence and would be back later. 

After thinking about it for a second, it actually seemed rather smart really.

We unmounted our new ward and sent the horse off running in another direction. We had a change of clothes for him and after collecting his uniform to burned later we began on our way.

It took three and a half days for us to get in but we were going to be taking a much faster approach to getting back across the border and to safety. Two days at a double time march pretty much while all the time hoping the damned goats can keep up. Eventually we would kick them loose but they still had their part to do. 

The Colonel proved to be rather fit and didn't have any problems keeping up. He and Lou stayed together side by side in the middle of the group in case there had to be any hasty communications.

Once we crossed the border there was a group waiting for us as well as two trucks. Some nondescript man in a burgundy wind breaker greeted the Colonel and they went into one truck while the five of us climbed into the other for the long drive followed by even a longer flight back to Germany followed by a few well earned days off.
I turned away from P and tossed another stick into the fire while feeling my pulse drop a few beats and just said to him, "I don't know what you mean..."

"Good night..."

Note: The camping scene in 1993 happened... as for the rest...

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Bouncing Back / Recovering

Gotta tell you... as far as post 100 recoveries go... this one is a bear.  More or less did nothing the entire week after Leadville except for a short mountain bike ride this past Saturday to loosen things up.

Started running again on Monday, an easy six miles on the trails around town... no real effort. Surprisingly enough, the legs felt better than I expected... everything else... meh...

Tuesday I went to the track and ran 8 miles which I just went ahead and turned into a MAF test just to make it interesting and to give me some motivation to keep from stopping. More or less about 20 seconds per mile slower at a HR of 145 than a few weeks ago. Makes sense to me right now...

Rode today... ugh... it took all that I had to put to the kit on and get going but I have to admit, after about an hour of riding I was feeling a lot better and was almost enjoying being on the bike for a change... okay, maybe I had more fun than that.... ended up riding a little over two hours with a 1200 calorie burn... Most of the riding was up in Hunter Valley and it is pretty up there now... it is amazing just how much the foliage is changing already...

I don't feel so tired overall, like throughout the body.... it's not a physical exhaustion so much as it seems to be more of a spiritual one. If I had to sum it up, it just feels like my soul is tired... I can't explain it any other way right now. It feels a little and maybe even presents itself as depression but i know that's not it...

It is amazing how 20 - 30 hours of hard effort can wreck the body and mind in a way that takes weeks to recover from. I mean a 50 miler, eh... I am off-kilter for a week maybe ten days... but a 100 miler takes many more weeks to recover from it seems. I guess it just goes to show what the cost of those miles after 50 or 60 miles really is.

But I must be doing something right during this recovery phase as my body weight has not gone up at all! I figured after taking all of last week off I'd had gained ten pounds at least... so that's a win! :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Leadville 100 Run - Post Race

So... the race happened... final result... 22:43 and change, depending on what you look at... 29th overall.

In a nutshell...

I trained my butt off this year.

I ran my heart out in the race.

It hurt.

A lot.

It is still hurting.

Being here - post 100 mile run - before I know it's going to take patience and time to bounce back. I just need to ride it out.

I am reticent to write a full blown race report on this one... Mostly because I don't know what to say but also because I don't feel like documenting a mile-by-mile regurgitation of the thing.

Also, for me, the race this year was personal. The work that went into it and the race itself was for a lot of personal reasons which I feel that I want to solely hold and know for myself. But if you are interested of what sort of motivated me, you can read about it here.

I will share the one thing that I learned in this race and the lesson is this... They always say that you never know who is going to show up for a race... I think most of the time we think of that in terms of other competitors who may or may not toe the starting line... but what I learned this weekend was that you also never know who is going to show up and that includes which version of yourself.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Leadville 100 Training Block #4 - July 20 - August 19

Well... I am done. I did my last training run, if you want to call it that, yesterday morning. Just three easy miles with my Wednesday morning running partner.... Today and tomorrow, no running. It's funny, two days off in a row... I don't remember the last time I went two days straight without running. Weird.

So training block #4... All running. NO bike.

259 Miles - 49:12:34 Running time.

The past few weeks have looked like this...

Week of 7/18 - 100 Miles - 18:48 Running Time - 23,009 Vert.
Week of 7/25 - 81 Miles - 17:38 Running Time - 16,759 Vert.
Week of 8/2 - 60.3 Miles - 11:14 Running Time - 12,910 Vert.
Week of 8/9 - 31.1 Miles - 5:03 Running Time - 6,040 Vert.

This week will be a 100 mile plus week... it's just going to look different... LOL. Easy four miles on the track Tuesday morning with some strides thrown in and then yesterday's easy three around town.

So... physically... yeah... I believe I am ready. From a mental POV... not quite there yet. I started struggling with the idea of actually running 100 miles this past Saturday morning when I woke up. No matter how you slice it... 100 miles is a longed damned way and though I have done it several times before... it still seems huge.

Goals... Sub-25. Beat 23:18. Beat 23:18 by a huge margin... Hint - consider the time delta between my 2014 and 2015 Run Rabbit Run results. Then of course... there is always the "just finish the damn thing," goal.

I read a neat quote yesterday that I have kicking around in my head...

"Big occasions and races which have been eagerly anticipated almost to the point of dread, are where great deeds can be accomplished." - Jack Lovelock

I can't say that I am dreading this weekend but I am ready to get it done. Or at least get started...  I have questions that need answering and the only way to find those answers is to get the first 13-30 miles behind me on Saturday.

I have plans for the race but we all know about plans and god laughing... and especially plans as they apply to 100 mile races... As one of my friends is fond of saying... "everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."

I know that it will be in the first two hours when I find out if I even have a chance at reaching my goal. It's either going to be there or it's not - a rather binary situation really. The speed I need will be there or it won't in accordance to the level of effort (heart rate) that I know I can sustain for 100 miles. If it is... great. If not... I know I will still do well but I WILL have to peacefully accept and adjust my expectations accordingly.

Yesterday, I wrote an article, Why We Fear Success, which delved a little deeper into my thoughts about this year's LT100 and everything that has gone into it.

On the surface it seems easy... each split that I want to hit during the race I know that I can do on any day... easy. The question is can I make those splits segment after segment for 100 miles. And if I fall off on pace how hard do I push it to make up time or to get back to where I want to be, etc?

One of the biggest things that I can not control but actually looks to be strongly in my favor for this one is the weather. It is going to be cool in Leadville this weekend with the highs only in the 50's on Saturday. I am excited about that!

In regards to the "being there mentally" thing... one thing I do have to consider is that maybe it isn't that I am "flat" or not psyched up or just not excited about it all... maybe it is just that I am relaxed about the whole thing, and if that is the case, relaxed is good.

A funny observation... yesterday I packed all of my stuff for the race. When I did the race in 2010 for the first time, we had the back of the Cherokee crammed full of stuff just for me for the race... Tons and tons of crap. When I finished packing yesterday, basically everything that I need - clothing, fuel, bottles, all of it, fits neatly into two reusable shopping bags. Definitely a case where less is better and I am sure Melissa and Annie are grateful for that.

Anyway.... not much else to say on the subject... I do intend for this to be my last LT100 run... Yes, I know I have said that before... but this time I mean it. REALLY!!! I love Leadville and the races and I always want be involved in some fashion, but from here on out I think I want it to be in more of a support role be it crewing, pacing, volunteering etc..

This is to be the last one (I think) and I want to go out on top... whatever that may end up looking like. When it is all said and done the only thing I can do is to do my best and no matter the outcome, as long as I know THAT - it's all good.

See ya on the other side!