Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Leadville 100 Training Block #3 - June 20 - July 19

The first day of my Aspen Mountain Double-Double Crossing weekend.
Training block number three is done and the numbers look like this.

Training Block #3 Actual Miles Ran = 360 - 79 hours and 33 minutes of running time.

Training Block #3 Miles Riding the Mountain Bike = 134 - 13 hours and 53 minutes of riding time.

A note on the bike. I did not spend too many days on the bike just the days that I HAD TO in order to help mitigate the injury that I was dealing with. Once I could run again it was all back to that as I learned that I am really not fond of pushing a lot of time on the bike, at all.

Some game-changers and neat things that came into play during this training block...

1. Trekking poles - Bob Africa spoke highly of them in the Leadville 100 Run training camp and I listened. Personally I have always wanted to give them a go but feared they might prove awkward and maybe even a waste of money. For the past week and a half, I have been using them a lot on my big vertical days and all I can say is I sort of feel silly for never trying them earlier as I took to them like a duck to water. I got a pair of Black Diamond Carbon Distance Z Poles 110cm on Ebay for $117. WORTH EVERY PENNY. To be clear, as far as I am concerned this is the greatest discovery or change I have made since switching to Hokas back in 2012. In a weird sort of way I think they are fun to use. They WILL be part of my Leadville strategy for certain.

2. I did a huge 32 mile long overland altitude run (LOLAR - and yes I made this up) last weekend and there was no running or potable water anywhere along that route. Instead of packing a ton of water in my pack I packed my old First Need Water Filter  for the trip in my pack and it was great. A fraction of the weight of a liter or more of water and I was able to continually get cold water for the bottles and the bladder when I needed or wanted as there were many streams around. The bonus thing that I learned is that the attachment connects to both my Ultimate Direction water bottles as well as the opening to the Osprey water bladder in my pack so it was super easy to use.

3. I did a 20 mile run last Thursday afternoon and it was warm out and I had to carry water in my pack so that I could mix fresh bottles after two hours. Not wanting to have warm water or mixed fuel in my bottles the last part of the run I got the brilliant idea to put in a freezer pack, you know those gel packs you put into the freezer for small coolers or using on injuries, in my running pack with my water bladder. Of course I was not happy about the extra weight but damn it was nice to have cold water when I filled my bottles after two hours. So if you run with a running vest or pack with a bladder and don't mind some extra weight to keep your water cold it's well worth it.

All in all things are good. This week is my last big week (100+ miles) before I start chopping the volume down and I can say that I am honestly ready to just that. Looking forward to this weekend as Melissa and I are going over to Chaffee County and Friday I am running my last 30+ mile training run on the Monarch Crest Trail. The rest of the weekend is dedicated to just goofing off and having fun as really I am on vacation this week from working as I do need the break but I can also focus on this last big week without any distractions too. It's a win-win.

But yeah... we are in the last training block before Leadville... all of the big work is done except for finishing out this week. I just keep telling myself that all I have to do is make it to the 25th (next Monday which will be a rest day) intact and I will be good to go... Just have to make to Monday.... :)  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

June And Everything After - Video Blog

So... not that I am being lazy but there is just too much to try to write out in one article and not wanting to write multiples... I thought I would do a video instead. :)

I hope that everyone is having an awesome summer!


Monday, June 20, 2016

Leadville 100 Training Block #2 - May 20 - June 19

Our camp in Leadville last week. Five days of wonderful peace and quiet!
Just completed my second training block for Leadville. Two more blocks to go. You can read how I have broken up my training from April to August and the structure of all of that here.

First the numbers for this training block which was from May 20 until June 19th (yesterday.)

Training Block #2 Miles Planned = 275 (Note: This number became obsolete during training block #1 and pushing a lot more volume that expected.)

Training Block #2 Actual Miles Ran = 391 - 69 hours and 34 minutes of running time.

Training Block #2 Miles Riding the Mountain Bike = 28 (And this just happened yesterday.)

So there is a third number in the mix now and that is the biking and I will explain that in a bit.

This past week was okay... I feel like I fell off a bit but I understand why at the same time. 81.3 miles of running, in 15:41. Throw in the bike for 28 miles of riding, in 2:19. About 13K in climbing running and 4K climbing riding.

So last week... I learned (relearned) a very important lesson in training and that is do not compromise a week's training with a single workout. My Tuesday morning track workout I was bound and determined to nail all of my 2 mile intervals in under 13:00 each. My motto or mantra going into the workout was to make every step count, make every lap count, make every mile count... and I did.

Nailed the workout... compromised the week.
At first after the workout I felt "okay" worked but not bad but as soon as I got home that was when the wheels fell off. It took about four hours to get my energy level back to where it should be and well... shit just hurt... all of it from the waist down. If I had to describe it, it felt more like I raced a hard marathon like Salida as opposed to doing morning workout on the track.

Wednesday I ran here in Aspen early in the morning and felt "okay" but not 100% either. Pressed for time, I shortened my 15 mile morning run to 12 in order to get home and get ready to leave to go camping in Leadville later that morning where we would be staying through father's day. Ran another five up in Leadville Wednesday night and still felt okay but still not great.

Thursday though was when I felt it all hit me. I went to run the section from the treeline towards Twin Lakes, an out and back totaling 15 miles. It was hot, and nothing felt right... I had the stride of a 90 year old man, and I know my form is nothing great but that day it was worse... More or less felt 100% and totally depleted throughout the run.

But I got to do my good deed for the day and that was this... About a mile out (outbound) from where the Halfmoon II aid station would be I ran into two guys who were walking and looked absolutely more miserable than I was... they were lost.

Two soldiers form Fort Carson had climbed Elbert early that morning with their company and on their way down they took a right down the Colorado Trail (instead of left and down to the parking lot/trail head) and subsequently bushwhacked until they found the road where I met them.

After talking to them and figuring out where they were parked, their route that morning, and everything else, I walked them to the Colorado Trail turn and explained to them exactly how to get back. I hope they made it.

I would really like to call/write the base commander at Fort Carson and have a talk with him about sending his troops into the big bad woods so damned unprepared. No maps... no compass... no radio... and relying only on cell phones (which didn't work) for comms? WTF? I won't even go into their gear or lack of. I was friendly of course and helpful as I didn't see this as these guy's fault (totally) but I did tell them that if they have a suggestion box in their unit that maybe suggest the next time they take off on an outing like this they at least have a radio for each team of two...  These guys had nothing and were headed in the wrong direction and with all of those fire roads out there they could have wandered a full day if I hadn't had found them... Anyway...

That run ended about as it started... rough. And Leadville was HOT that day.

Took Friday as a forced rest day. Legs still felt trashed and I was just tired. Spent the day eating everything in sight as I know carb depletion happens much more quickly at altitude plus I wanted to have a good 30 miler on Saturday, which I did.

Saturday I took off from Sugarloafin' to May Queen, up and over to the Power Lines and back for a 30 mile round trip that went pretty good. Did it in 5:54.

But after the run I was still feeling lots of aches and pains decided that now it is time to mix in the bike and since Leadville go so hot so quickly Sunday morning, I decided to wait until I got back to Aspen yesterday afternoon before setting off on the ride.

(Ache and pain inventory as of Sunday morning - left knee, left calf, left hamstring, right calf. Most of which I feel is the result of Tuesdays workout compounded throughout the week.)

Good ride yesterday which is causing everything to feel a lot better today and I mean night-and-day better... So I have plan! :)

This week was supposed to be a 100 mile week running but I am not going to run it all. I have a 35 mile run planned for Saturday but everything else this week I am going to ride. (That is unless I just can not keep myself from the track Tuesday morning as that is routine and habit now. But even then no speed work, maybe just a MAF test for fun.)

So here is the deal... the age old question and debate... how many miles of riding equals one mile of running? How do you compare the two? Some people like to throw numbers out there like it is a 2:1 ratio riding to running or 3:1 but nothing definite, just bro-science and speculation... Of course I could look historically at how many TSS (Training Stress Score) points are used up in a week of running looking back on Training Peaks, and I think that might be close... actually probably pretty damned accurate but I have simpler idea...

Instead of relying on some ratio that may or may not be accurate and instead of relying on TSS points which might be more accurate but still, who knows... I am going to gauge this week by calorie burn mostly.

I burn on average 100 calories per mile so in 100 mile week that is 10,000 (roughly, it's a target) calories burned. My hypothesis if you will is that will also come out to 1400 - 1500 TSS points which is again consistent with a 100 mile week at least by Training Peaks standards.

So between riding a shit-ton this week and Saturday's 35 miler, I still expect this to be my biggest week of the year which will be followed by an 80 mile recovery week next week.

And to be honest I am excited about this week as I see it a challenge to cram in so much time in the saddle for six of the seven days. But it will also allow me to range out further and see a lot more stuff around here that I have yet to see or have not seen in awhile. Plus there is the overall benefit of giving my body a week off from running impact for the most part which as much as I might deny it... I know that I need right now.

I had a pretty bad wreck on my skateboard last summer at the end of July and because of that I could not run (could barely walk) for about a week and half. Banged my right ankle pretty bad landing on impact going about 30MPH.  But I could ride just fine and be totally pain free and when that week and a half was over and I did start running again it was pretty awesome how I felt. I am expecting those same results after this week with such a heavy bike focus.

We shall see...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Breakthroughs And A New Metric For Fatigue

Thank god for dirt! As I have been waiting all spring for trails to clear out I have been pushed into running a lot more harder surfaces than I would have preferred. Of course all of that resulted in not what I would call injuries but more like shit that just bugs me from time to time, shins, calves, some knee stuff, etc. Nothing serious but "there" nevertheless.

As things have been melting and clearing out quite rapidly these past three weeks, I'd estimate that 90% of my weekly mileage has been on trails and I noticed last week that every little ache and pain has magically dissipated. Like I said... Thank god for dirt!

Last week was a pretty cool learning week for me though both in my running life and I guess in a way in my professional life as well. The cool thing first...

When Melissa and I first moved here or when I spent my first weekend/week here in August of 2013 I ran and I rode a lot. One of the first things I realized that here around Aspen, up is UP... the terrain while not impossible is definitely challenging and more challenging than I was used to. I told Melissa back then that if I were to live here and to be able to train "right" here that there was no way in hell I was not going to get stronger.

But for the past two years I realized that I have been fighting the terrain, or the terrain has been working against me... or I guess me working against it... Or in other words it has been a constant source of "stress" in my workouts that maybe limited me a little bit.

On Thursday's run though I realized that was not really the case anymore. That I am actually able now to work with the terrain in my favor in any part of a run. That the third climb in a run isn't so much an obstacle but more like a feature... maybe that makes sense... maybe it doesn't. Sort of hard to explain.

The other thing I learned or really put together is how fatigue affects my work especially my professional blog. Writing typically comes rather easy to me. (Though editing does not) And most days when I write my daily article, once I settle on a theme, a subject, or a concept, the words just flow out rather effortlessly. But some days I struggle and last week on Tuesday after an especially hard morning run and a crappy night sleep, writing was damned near impossible.

It has been something that I have experienced a few times the past two to three months...  At times I feared it was lack of creativity or that "the well" was going dry but no... it's just some days I am tired and on those days writing is a challenge... Just something else for me to be aware of going forward.

The hardest day of training last week? Friday. Why? Because I had to force myself to take a complete and full total day of rest and do absolutely nothing! Last week I ended up getting ahead of my miles and in order to keep to the structure I needed to bleed off a day a running so Friday was that day. I took advantage of the day to get a massage, just on my legs, and that was nice. But sitting around and not doing anything or getting out was a challenge. But it was worth it as Saturday's 30 miler turned out rather awesome.

Elevation Profile For Saturday's Run
Headed up to Leadville on Wednesday to camp through the weekend. I am NOT doing the Leadville Marathon, nothing to be gained there for me but will be running on the 100 course some. I have a plan. It will be nice to get out of Aspen especially since the Aspen Food and Wine event is this coming weekend. (I'll keep my socio-political comments about that particular local event to myself.)

Anyway.... good week last week... 92 miles of running, 16:17 time, with 18,067 feet of vertical climbing. My biggest week of vert this year and that will continue to grow as I can range out even further and higher as things continue to melt out.

Monday, June 6, 2016

And the Beat Goes On

Up at Four Corners. This is the ridge that divides the Hunter Creek drainage from the Woody Creek drainage at about 10,000 feet. Still a bit of snow up high.
As predicted, summer finally arrived in Aspen last week on Wednesday... a day earlier than forecasted. YAY! Without going into my total lack of appreciation, understanding, or comprehension of winter sports (putting wood on your feet and sliding down a mountain as if it is fun) I will just say that from now until October is MY absolute favorite time to live in Aspen. THIS is when it is a paradise.


Good training week last week. Was supposed to back off a bit but I followed Saturday's 30 miler with a fifteen miler instead of just five. BOTH runs felt pretty good. I was amazed on Saturday when I hit mile 20 just how great I felt and how much I was NOT dreading the next ten miles. All of THAT waited until about mile 24 to set in. Still a win.

As for Sunday I gave myself the freedom to run whatever I felt like. If I felt like only five, fine. If I wanted to go further, then fine again. I did handicap myself by only taking one water bottle and one gel on purpose as so to limit my range Sunday morning but the truth is if I had another bottle... following Saturday's 30 with a 20 would not have been a huge stretch.

In all this training for Leadville I have had a plan but I have deviated from it somewhat and have been doing a lot of volume week after week with no clear idea of direction or an absolute end result in mind. Just enjoying the volume (running a lot) and being where I am in training I guess.

But yesterday it occurred to me that I needed to get things dialed in a little tighter. There must be structure! After a wonderful chat with GZ this morning and ruminating on all of that information, on my run at lunchtime I came up with somewhat of a heavy yet still periodized schedule and structure that I think is manageable and at this rate sustainable.

The beauty of it is that I KNOW what the last five weeks going into Leadville are supposed to look like and that doesn't vary... the awesome thing is that what I schemed up over my run today dovetails perfectly into that. The next 11 weeks are fully and perfectly planned out.

Was it by accident or by design? Was my inner genius guiding me along all this time? Who knows... LOL!

Haven't weighed myself in over a week. But I will say this... this morning I washed my cargo shorts and decided to wear my jeans instead, they are 31x30. At first I figured foregoing the belt... but as it stands, the belt was mandatory instead of optional. Another win.

Took the Trek to the shop today too for a tune-up and to get the old sealant out of the tires and to put new sealant in them. I figure in another two weeks I will begin to mix the bike in as things melt out further... Not quite ready yet.

Anyway... that's about it... here's a perfect quote I found today on training that is totally true.

"If you under-train, you might not finish, but if you over-train, you might not start. - Stan Jenson

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


It is finally starting to look like spring around here!
May is finally over... close enough at least. This has to be the coolest and wettest May that I can remember and definitely of the three springs that I have spent here in Aspen, especially so.

But things are going well.

Mileage for May - 357 miles with 59:11:49 running time. I'm too lazy to figure out the actual vertical but it is good. But the monthly mileage is not a great concern or metric of mine since I have broken down my training until Leadville into specific blocks or cycles with this, the second one ending on 19 June... I'll see where I am then.

Last week was my best week yet this year though... 94.2 miles, 12,900 in gain, in 15:36 running time. Pretty good weekend with a 25 miler where I ran to the top of Indy Pass and Melissa picked me up then we spent Saturday and Saturday night in Leadville. "Easy" 14 mile run on Sunday morning from town down to the lake and back detouring through all of the campsites. TQ Lake trail still has a bit of snow on it BTW.

Finished the mother of all track workouts this morning. I have been working on 2-Mile repeats the past few weeks. (Thanks Kiki and Wade!) I started doing a 2M WU, 3x2M with .25 RBI, then a 1.25 mile cool down or so. I was doing 4x2M and today jumped up to 5x2M. My splits are off (but not significantly so) from the past couple of weeks but I am attributing that to the fatigue carrying over from last week. Still an awesome workout and I am feeling a touch beat up at the moment which I guess is the desired result of such a thing.

Sort of backing off this week and throwing some rest days in there. I really don't know if I really need them or not but I would rather take them and not need them than find myself so cooked that a break becomes non-negotiable.

But things are looking up... starting tomorrow we are supposed to be seeing 70+ degree days on a consistent basis so hopefully it will finally and really warm up around here. There is still a crap ton of snow that needs to melt in the back country before it is runnable.

Planning a 42 Mile trail/dirt road training run on June 25. I guess the average elevation for the day will be around 11K. If you are interested let me know and I can fill you in on the particulars. A couple other guys from Aspen will be going along too. Figure about a 12 hour day.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Leadville 100 Training Block #1 - April 18 - May 19

Keeping it short...

I trained up solid for the Salida Marathon in March. Kept up the miles somewhat after that and at the beginning of April devised a plan for attacking Leadville.

In a nutshell I worked backwards, creating four different training cycles or blocks.

I April 18 - May 19
II May 20 - June 19
III June 20 - July 19
IV July 20 - August 20 (August 20 is race day)

Each training block (or month) has target mileages and within those target mileages for the month, mileage targets for each week. That last block I really can not predict how it will look as my targets for those weeks will be very structured, as well as the rest for that matter. Basically I plan those last few weeks going into Leadville to closely mimic the last few weeks going into Run Rabbit Run last year... That could change but that formula worked fabulously last year so why eff with it if it ain't broke...

As of today I'm a bit off course but in the right direction.... :)

Training Block #1 Miles Planned = 250
Training Block #1 Actual Miles Ran = 358

I am playing with a few new concepts here... first, since I was able to hit a plateau of high mileage weeks I intend to stay there as "in theory" it is easier to maintain a plateau than the work it takes to get there.

Of course I can NEVER talk about any serious race preparation without whining and bitching about my weight, losing weight, and dieting... So the other and really right now primary reason for such high mileages is to promote calorie throughput so I can go into this thing in August carrying the least amount of body weight needed to get the job done. I am at 145 today. Ideally five more pounds to go to reach my goal.

Structurally I am feeling fine... sure some aches and pains here and there but all manageable. There is some fatigue but that is to be expected but I am far from being a zombie day to day.  Since I more or less got my sleep pattern dialed in last year, I am taking full advantage of that to aid in recovery from day to day.

I am pushing for something here... To either break down or to breakthrough, and whichever happens in training this year, either one is a win.  If I break down... just hit a run that I can not finish no matter what... great... I found my breaking point and I pushed myself to my limit. I will rest and back off accordingly then get back at it... What I am hoping for is a total breakthrough where I just keep "ascending" in my training and ultimately show up at the line on August 20th a completely different a runner than I have ever been in Leadville.

My other goal for this summer is to just have some fun too. I live in an awesome place with so much more for me to explore and run on. That is as soon as the snow melts! :)  I am hoping for my first foray from Pitkin County over into Gunnison County (Taylor Park) sometime around the third week of June.