Sunday, August 23, 2015

Volume...

A picture is worth a thousand words...

A rocking week of running which has been the theme all summer...

And so many other awesome things happening in life...

It is impossible to live my life anymore without expressing extreme gratitude every waking moment...

But yeah... volume... It's all good.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Audi Power of Four 50K Trail Run (A Cautionary Tale)

I'll get right down to it and not belabor the point. If you have thought of coming to Aspen to run in a race my advice is to skip this one altogether. Save yourself some money and do the Four Pass Loop which is a crap-ton more enjoyable. Or come up and run the Backcountry Marathon which is an awesome course. But this one, this one I can not recommend.

Here is the deal as I see it... The Power of Four Skimo race is the foundation of the Power of Four race series in Aspen which takes you across all of the ski mountains. They followed that up with the Mountain Bike race which really I think was an afterthought of sorts. They followed that up with a recklessly put together trail run with a route that I described simply as "unnecessary."

Anyone can make up a hard race and I do enjoy tough races but there has to be at least some element to enjoy at one part or another, or at least some interesting feature as part of the course. All out "hard" from beginning to end is just not fun. Whoever thought of this race does not understand runner psychology at all. The first race sign on the course was just past the Aspen Mountain summit. It had some pithy running saying and then it said "45KM To Go." A 5K sign would have been a lot more inspiring I think than that one considering you had just climbed 3200 feet in that first 5K. Yes, 3200 feet.

And it wasn't just hard climbing, there were a lot of downhill grades, especially the straight line down Aspen Highlands that I did not like and have heard others complain about as well. It was wet grass and mud so it was even a dicier proposition to run down.

To be fair let me throw this out there... I came into this event tired. I planned it that way. I wanted a long run that was fun to add to training volume and miles. Sure I expected a hard day but I wanted it to be fun at the same time. Or at least mildly entertaining... This was not.

Someone described the course as doing Hope Pass Double 2x followed by doing Powerline/Sugarloaf on top of that 2x as well. Over 12K of Climb in 32.2 miles is just excessive with most of the terrain not even being runnable.

Thanks to the support people who were out there for being there but what they were given to offer at the aid stations was less than paltry. Some aid stations even ran out of water but let me put that into context for you. 90 some runners on a cool and rainy day and they ran out of water in places... it would have been a complete shit-show if it were in the 80's and completely sunny.

The course marking was okay for the most part but there were sections which were very frustrating. Long segments without even a confidence marker to let you know you were on the right path. Once on Snowmass Mountain the course marking became severely lacking. I had one guy bomb down through an open meadow as he was lost for and hour or so and he happened to see me. Young strong guy too, and we ran a bit together but when he saw the trail was going up again he said he had had enough and proceeded to bail down one of the ski runs.


And the trails... ugh... Dear Race Director... there is a difference between a trail, what is real single track, and a rut. Really a lot of the "trails" between Buttermilk and Snowmass are just that... they are not really trails as much as narrow trenches about 10" wide where water just drains through. Tough to run on/in when dry, much more so when they are just greasy mud. And there is a reason I say go and do the Four Pass Loop instead, because there you can see things... this race has you running, hiking, climbing, etc, with your head down all the time that you don't see a thing, and the nature of the course offers no interesting vistas. I had a hard day out there but also at the same time I was bored out of my skull.

The scene at the finish line was as equally underwhelming as the rest of this race experience. Their timing system was fouled up and when I finished they had to ask me (even though I had a bib number on) who I was, what wave I started in etc. No food, no after race party like atmosphere... just blah... 

As a runner I just expect more from a race especially given race fees these days. As a local to the Aspen area, I am downright appalled and embarrassed for what was put on this weekend to pass as a race.

There are so many great races in this state to pick and choose but this is not one of them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Your Job Really Does Not Suck...

This is real and something that I wrote a while back to a coworker when I was still in IT... Sorta funny... ;)

So...

I think my job sucks.

I think your job sucks...

But wait a second.

Last night when I was getting ready to go for an 11 mile run I turned Animal Planet on.

They were showing jobs that REALLY suck...

The worst being an elephant artificial insemination technician.

No shit.

First the guy has to get the sample. Yeah... so basically he has to jerk off an elephant.

They showed him doing it!

And if that is not bad enough... he has to "catch" it it a container.

He needs to get 11oz for a good "donation" to get another elephant knocked up. So basically a beer can full of elephant goo if you will.

As if that is not bad enough... He has to transport it!

Imagine going through airport security and having to explain what is in the box... worse yet... how you got it.

THEN!!!

And THEN!!!!!

He has to deliver said payload.

They showed him, will with basically a special "turkey baster" for female elephants filling her up....

But it gets better... or worse. While he is doing this... doing his part to foster bringing another beautiful elephant life into the world...

She takes a big dump... a juicy one at that, and it lands right on his shoulders and back...

So... maybe our jobs don't suck THAT much... :)

Kinda puts things into perspective, eh?

Monday, July 6, 2015

My Summer Bucket List Ride

All along my plan has been to switch over from training for the Aspen Backcountry Marathon to a more ultra focused type of training once the race was over. As part of that plan and to keep training volume high while minimizing abuse on the body I had also planned on really incorporating the bike more once I made the switch.

And I've been doing that the past few weeks actually. Mostly riding to mitigate this sore tendon in my foot but to also build up some strength on the bike again. That being said, the expedition of a ride that I took on yesterday I knew would be a stretch but at the same time felt that it would be quite doable as well.

I hatched the plan for this ride months ago. Basically a loop leaving Aspen, over Independence Pass to Twin Lakes and then shoot down 24 to Buena Vista where I would hopefully be able to stop at Pancho's for a burrito. After that, things get challenging again with a ride up Cottonwood Pass, then down the backside to Taylor Park where I would take the Taylor Park Road nearly all the way to the end where the Taylor Pass Road turns off of it. Taylor Pass road goes up to Taylor Pass and from there I could drop down Express Creek Road to Castle Creek Road and bomb home... easy, right.

Anyway... I did it and had a blast. I even got the burrito for breakfast. Did the entire ride solo and except for stopping at Pancho's everything else that I needed I had in my pack.

133 miles of riding with 17,599 feet of gain, in 13:38:23.

Here are some pics...

03:21 start in the morning. The bike is ready to go.
The first obstacle, Indy Pass. Not so bad going up but I damned near froze to death the whole way down to Twin Lakes.
Got my order at Pancho's just after 8 in the morning. Mondo Combo Burrito Please!
Love these things!
Ready to get going again... Next... Cottonwood Pass!
Made it up but it was damned hard. Headwind the first half up the pass which posed a challenge. The ride down the Gunnison side of Taylor Pass was a riot! 
In Taylor Park looking up towards Italian and Lambertson Peaks.
The same peaks zoomed in some.
Ready to head up Taylor Pass. It was bad. I have been on this road before and forgot just how horrible it was. Let me put it this way... I would not take my Jeep up it and ended up pushing the bike most of the way. Would not want to ride DOWN it either! I was at about 112 miles here.
From the top of Taylor Pass looking east towards Taylor Reservoir and Cottonwood Pass. I rode that whole valley.
Just one more fun drop to go down Express Creek Road to link up with Castle Creek Road and then to home. 16.5 mile to go and it took me 1:08.
Yay! Finally home! My biggest ride ever as well as the most vertical gained in a day ever too. But most importantly it was a blast, I had fun, and it was exactly the little "adventure" that I have been needing.

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!