Monday, June 29, 2015

Aspen Backcountry Marathon (I was wrong!)

Garmin Data from the Aspen Backcountry Marathon
This past Saturday was the Aspen Backcountry Marathon. At first glance I believed and wanted to believe that this race was actually easier than Salida.

WRONG!

This race gains about 1100 feet more than Salida does. While Salida is more of an up and down course, this one is up and down with another significant rise and descent in the last 3rd. This race has lot more trail in it that Salida does too.

For me, this was another A effort race and has been my only real focus since I got back from Mexico. Even with two nagging injuries to manage the past couple months I was still able to train and maintain the quality component as well as the volume for the most part. I went into the race trained, and more importantly rested and ready to go when it was time to race.

I didn't go as fast as I wanted but after training on the course and learning more about it I really had to adjust my goals. And since I was not so sure about the elevation gain component compared to Salida for instance I really wasn't sure. I figured 4:10 would probably be the best I could go and in the end finished in 4:23:39 which I am quite happy about. 1st in AG and 11th overall. Not a bad day. The bonus is I know I ran my absolute best, I have no regrets, and not a single "what if" about the race.

With the exception of one guy passing me about mile 20 and me passing another guy at mile 26, I was running by myself from mile 12 on... that was a weird sensation.

Sunday was an 11 hour workday with a lot of bending, kneeling, squatting, standing and reaching... Physically I was a wreck yesterday but the work helped to work out the soreness and whatnot left over from the day before. Today is an off day from running but have to finish yesterdays job still which will only take a couple of hours at most... I will go to the track in the morning and try to get the legs moving again.

I am planning on doing the Silver Rush 50 in less than two weeks. No huge effort anticipated as I am just going to get it done. I am still shocked that it is really that soon and that next weekend is the 4th of July already... where has the summer gone?

I haven't even been camping yet this year!

So.. the rest of the summer... It's going to be more ultra focused. Bigger weekend runs and stuff like that but no more of the intensity or such a strong focus. If I had to say if any of my upcoming races are a goal race it would be Run Rabbit Run 100 in September, but it is still too early for me to get wound up about that one or to come up with a goal. I'd like to beat last year's time but that's about as ambitious as I can be right now... give a few weeks and that can all change. :)

Friday, June 26, 2015

The calm before...

Sitting in the apartment, the lights are off so it is dim in here and the AC is on full blast making it quite comfortable and soothing.

This has been a shit-storm/shit-show of a week for me. Mentally I have been all over the map. I think some of it is taper stuff but other stuff was definitely externally driven.

Two awesome things today... It is now legal for People to marry People. Period. After all of the social and political bullshit in our country this past week this bit of news from the SCOTUS made my day and gives me hope. Secondly, the company that I am helping with, we got our Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business certification from the feds, so that will open a lot of doors for us to do the work we plan. Shitty week but two major wins in one day turned it all around for me.

Big race for me tomorrow... The Aspen Backcountry Marathon. I think I am faster and stronger and more solid than when I went into Salida. I'm pretty familiar with the course too so I am hoping for a good day tomorrow. Some friends and I spent some time Tuesday evening clearing deadfalls from the trail on parts of the course. Hoping that bought me some good trail karma.

But like I said, this week has been crazy so I am grateful for this quiet moment to sit and get my brain in the game for tomorrow. I'll write more after the race.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Getting Back on Track (Or Trail)

Skippy and I at the warehouse in Chicago working. I am in the green mask. Everything that we have been doing is still on the DL but in a few weeks our presence will be known nationwide. This company has a lot of moving parts and is going to go huge.
Got home from Chicago just a little before five a.m. this morning. My flight landed in Denver at 12:30 a.m. and I just drove straight through. Nasty storm in Denver though slowed me down the first chunk.

Saw two decent bears on 82 just outside of Twin Lakes this morning driving home. I'd say they were two year old's given their size. 

Did "okay" running-wise when I was in Chicago. Each day was basically a 19 hour day or so. I didn't get the miles in I wanted but I made the miles that I did do on the 'mill count. I thought that I would try to make up the difference today but I had a list as long as my arm of things to get done so cramming in another thing to cause me stress was not that appealing.

Plus, I'd rather have a quality 20-10 this weekend than a crappy 9-20-10.

Chicago was fun. In that weird way that business trips can be fun. I've been through Chicago before, but never spent any time there. Unfortunately this trip was so busy there was not any time to really see anything except the hotel, our warehouse, and the 20 miles of highway between the two.

One thing is for certain... if I lived in Chicago full time, I'd weigh 300 pounds, and be dead of a heart attack by my 50th birthday. Everyone knows that I like to eat bad food and that place is the capital of it. You can not throw a rock in Chicago without hitting a Dunkin Donuts, I kid you not. And I guess that unless you are really out in some nicer suburb, running options are really limited. I did see a lot of people pounding the sidewalks though. A funny thing is that we went into one running store... not a trail shoe in sight.

But for the most part I resisted the temptations to eat like a fiend there. I did have two huge meals, lunch on Wednesday and dinner before I left, and though I ate a lot it was all clean food. No net gain or loss on the scale from when I left compared to when I got back today.

One of business partners who runs a little bit convinced me to register for the Silver Rush 50 in July and I signed up for that today. No serious effort planned for that one, just a long day on the feet running with him as it will be his second 50 miler. (Of course we all know SR50 is really only 47.)

The leg thing is still there and happening but still manageable. It feels like my Hokas are breaking down a lot more quickly these days, and like my left one is folding inward at the heel. Of course that stresses the tendon that is unhappy. I have two pairs of the older Stinsons in boxes and I am really fighting the temptation to break a pair out to see if that is truly the case.

Three weeks from tomorrow until the Aspen Backcountry Marathon. I think I am right on track and right where I want to be for it. I ran the last 9 miles of the course last Sunday and it it not easy. I'll see what it feels like this Sunday when I do it again.

It was a hell of a week. The 72 hours from 5:00 a.m Tuesday until 5:00 a.m. today was a challenge but worth it and to be honest I am really no worse off for wear. But now that I am back it is time to get back at it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My Day Today In Pictures

It began at 5:25 with a track workout at the Aspen High School Track.
Everyone showed up to run but I started early and had to leave early.
I drove through Leadville past 6th and Harrison where 'the magic happens."
I drove a lot and saw a lot of snow in the mountains.
And it ends with a sunset in Chicago.
Here for a couple of days for meetings and stuff. Looks like I will be treadmilling here in the mornings at the hotel. I fly out Thursday night and get back to Aspen more Friday morning than Thursday night.

Still not sure how GZ does it!

Pretty strong workout, progression run done in two mile intervals.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

And There Goes May

I haven't written anything running related in a bit probably because I have been more concerned about running (and being able to run) rather than writing about it.

This has been the strangest May that I can remember when it comes to weather. I know part of it is that I don't live on the Front Range anymore but even taking that into consideration it has been weird. Today, Sunday the 31st, is the first day, well the morning anyway, that it actually felt WARM when I went outside. Aspen gets 2.1 inches of rain on average in May but this year for May we got 4.0.

Still working around that injury/tendon thing in my leg but I think I have it figured out and it is feeling better and better each day. I did a speed workout on Thursday (hill repeats) and after that it seemed to finally let go and loosen up and has felt great ever since. I have also switched back to the Stinsons and that seems to be helping a lot. I guess for some reason the Mafates just don't work for me.

But even with the weather and injury management this month I still had a good quality month I believe. 238 miles running with an additional 11 hours on the bike.

Three weeks and six days until the Aspen Backcountry Marathon. I still maintain that it is not as tough of a race as Salida but I think given the nature of some of the trails, it might be slower, at least for me... We'll see.

A treat of a view yesterday morning up in Van Horn Park. Looking SW. The bells are just left of center.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

No Rain... No Rainbows...

A surprise rainbow Saturday night when I took Asia out.
No Rain... No Rainbows.... which is all fine and good unless it rains all the damned time in which case you are just screwed.... and wet… and not in the happy fun way either. Lots of rain here this week if you haven’t figure that out yet.

So... to come clean... I had a great mileage week two weeks ago and pushed through many things to make it happen. What I failed to mention is that I was also trying to push though what was becoming a nasty tendonitis issue in my left leg or shin to be more accurate. If I ran, the tendon would warm up and feel fine, but after it cooled off, normal motion was uncomfortable. Since it wasn't getting any better, I decided to play it super-safe so the week of April 20 was a total rest week with zero mileage.

Since things were not feeling a whole lot better at the beginning of this week but not wanting to have another zero week I decided to fall back to walking. What that means is instead of running on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I walked instead; Six, Eight, and Six miles respectively. Saturday morning I saw a PT first thing, he “worked” on it, and the leg felt great afterwards.

I got the usual lecture about how I am older and I need to do more “stuff” after my runs, etc… get massages… etc… and so on. You know, all of the things that I have neither the money nor the time for right now, or really, ever.

Anyway… went for a nice ride on Saturday after spending some time tweaking and tuning the bike. I have not ridden since the end of October on a day that was right before the weather turned. Honestly, I had no idea how I would feel on the bike and I was quite surprised that once I started riding that it felt as if I had been away from it only days rather than months. Even my technical skills seemed to be intact which I found to be strange to say the least. Turned out to have a nice 26 mile ride up to the Maroon Bells and back and only got caught in one little rain storm on the way up.

I need to embrace the bike. It kept me healthy for two years. So maybe now riding is more mandatory than optional if I am wanting to stay "in the game."
The PT that I worked with suggested that I run today so I got out for an easy, flat (for around here) run on all dirt path. I took it easy to warm up the first mile and then maintained a MAF effort for the next five. A rainstorm and wind moved in the last two miles and made it cold… hence my rain references above.  I “guess” it felt okay and it doesn’t seem like I lost a lot of fitness but I was sore again in that same spot when I got home. I worked on the pissed-off tendon as the PT showed me how and as if by magic the damned thing loosened up again and felt fine.

Even with taking that last full week off in April, it turned out to be a 203-mile month of running. Of course, I count those miles of walking those three days into the equation.

What is next?  I don’t know. I have already had to reboot my training plans 2x for the Aspen Backcountry Marathon and am not sure right now how I am going to proceed for the next few weeks leading up to that. If I had to describe my course of action it will be to train for a Marathon as if I were only training for a Marathon instead of training for a Marathon while still trying to build a solid ultra-base at the same time.

The other thing that I am going to have to do which I have been ignoring is to incorporate the bike in more. Actually when things started feeling funny two-three weeks ago, I should have stopped running and picked up the bike then instead of being a typical bull-headed runner trying to run through an injury. Of course, THAT thought didn’t occur to me until half-way through yesterday’s ride. Hindsight… I know…  But in my defense, the conditions around here to ride have not been favorable until the past few days and the thought of going and riding inside never really occurred to me.

This is a super busy week so time to do anything is going to be precious. I plan to ride tomorrow in hopes of keeping that calf and tendon loose and then run three days, ride Friday, run Saturday, and then ride on Sunday, and just pray that I can keep it all together this week. No real mileage goal yet as I want to wait and see how things play out the next several hours after today’s run.

There is hardly a more miserable creature than the injured runner who is not able to run and the past two weeks I have proven that. The disturbing thing is that I have no specific idea what may have caused this injury but I have identified about ten irritating factors that may have come into play. It probably was not one single one but a combination of 2-3 or maybe more, I don’t know. For now, I am just left to deal with it and hope that I am on the mend, and have faith in the same.

It could have been mid-injury, delusional thinking but I did get a crazy idea last weekend. I am supposed to run the Power of Four 50K in July. The day before that is the Aspen Valley Marathon which is a Boston qualifying race. I don’t and I never plan on ever going to Boston to run but the idea of having a qualifying time I do find appealing. So, back to that delusional thing… I might see if I can run the Marathon on Saturday, get a qualifying time of 3:25 or less, and then to the Power of Four the next day.

It would definitely make for a weekend of exceptional volume… We’ll see…

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Somehow Kept It Together This Week

This was to be a 70 mile week with two days off. Really not that big of a deal but the weather... the @#$#@@!!%$ weather had other ideas.

Tuesday was nice enough and actually the nicest day of the week. 10.5 mile run in 1:22:33. All in all it felt pretty good.

Wednesday things started to change... for starters it was COLD and the wind was actually ripping which for around here is rare. Turned into an epic 14 miler with 3563 feet of gain and I was out there for pretty much three hours.

Thursday, not too bad with the weather yet. Not as bad but windy with it being a cold wind at that. Another 10.5 in 1:25:51. Slower than Tuesday but a much more substantial headwind on the way back.

Saturday.. ugh... It is winter all over again. We probably got 15" of snow between Thursday night and Saturday. 25 miles was the goal for the day and I pulled it off but I had to do it in two segments.  11 miles and then a 14 miler later in the day. Total time for both runs was about 3:52.

Sunday was actually nice. Lots of snow but nice. I was joined by a runner who was not officially here and we had a lot of fun just out exploring more than just running. Super slow run, lots of picture taking and goofing off.

It only looks like I am doing what I am not doing.  Actually I am looking at a pine squirrel to my right. Lots of snow.

So I put down 70 for the week with 11K of climbing.

I really hope that this is the last storm as this last change in weather wrecked my motivation and spirits. I am ready for DRY trails which we were just starting to see segments of, and just running in warm weather in general.

Going to rego for the Power of Four 50K Trail Run in July. This will be a fun run with some other local runners. Our plan is to go out slow and hold it there. More of a training run than anything else.

9 Training weeks until the Aspen Backcountry Marathon.