Monday, January 26, 2015

The Moab Weekend

I escaped Aspen on Friday and got to spend the weekend in Moab, Utah. It was nice to get away from the crowds and the X Games hullabaloo. Moab was perfectly quiet.

The goal was two days of simple and uncomplicated running. I was hoping for a big day on Saturday and then see what I could follow up with on Sunday.

The weather was not as warm as I was hoping or fantasizing about. I will have to wait until March in Mexico for that but the trails were all dry and clear which is something that I have not seen since mid-November.

Saturday we ran what I guess is the first part of the Moab Red Hot 55K. We parked at the junction of Highway 191 and Gemini Bridges Road. I ran up Gemini Bridges, did the Metal Masher loop and then back to car. That got me 23.25 miles and about 3200 of gain for the day. I felt worked but not trashed and decided that I wanted to hold it there so that I would be able to run on Sunday too.

Sunday the weather was nicer and we headed up to the Slickrock Trail. I've ridden this trail tons back in the 90's and always thought that it would be interesting to run. I think I saw a grand total of four cyclists out there. It was quiet, somewhat warm, and of course it was beautiful to look at.

Running it was another story... We ran it counter-clockwise and while it was fun to be able to grip so well on the rocks while climbing, the constant amount of climbing began to wear on me around mile five and lasted until around mile seven. When I finished it felt like I had done over two hours of hill repeats. Finished feeling fatigued but all in all pretty good. 9.5 miles for Sunday with about 950 feet of climbing.

For the past nearly 20 years I have always said that someday I would like to run the Slickrock trail and I am glad that I finally got to do it but I doubt I will do it again as once was enough. 

Ended the week with 58 miles done and about 5900 feet of climbing. This is my best week since the end of October/beginning of November and Saturday's run was the longest since the end of October as well.

Today when I was walking around I noticed that I am feeling pretty good overall. I think the volume from this weekend was perfect. Just enough to stress me but not so much that I came home and have to look at a week to get over it all.

The forecast for Aspen this week is WARM which I would normally be very happy about but in reality it will make things messy with all of the melting snow (turns to ice at night) and mud out there. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Starting Over.. Really...

I completely cracked up when I read JT's Blog today...

"Runners often cry over bring out of shape, definitely myself included.  "Christ, I went 19:45 for that 5K, I'm so out of shape."  Or, "I really struggled on that 20 miler, I need to get my ass back in shape."  But you do the Incline with office folks who really are out of shape, like no-physical-activity-whatsoever-for-decades out of shape, and it puts things in perspective."

I got a good laugh out of it because I have been having the same kinds of discussions via internal dialogue all week with myself.

November was a good running month. I was determined to be set up to start training in December if things went well for me on the morning of the 6th. They didn't, so that caused a loss of momentum for sure. In addition to that I got that damned cold on the 8th which knocked me down for a good two weeks. Two weeks without any significant activity at all.

After I started to feel better I got some weird itch to do a lot of vertical. It was a distraction of sorts I guess. Something different but in the end I think it did more harm than good fitness-wise in regards to running at least.

Then I got sick AGAIN on the 1st of January. It was the flu which made the cold in December seem likes child's play. So there goes another two weeks. Ugh.

This week I have been finally able to get back at it. All running, no silly vertical and no time on the bike. I did not make it into the Leadville Trail 100 MTB lottery so I am dropping the bike for a while. At least until this spring when the roads and trails clear and I can ride it for something else to do to add volume.

None of the runs this week have been easy. Legs feel heavy and there is a sort of discomfort deep within the muscle tissue in my quads that I am not familiar with. This has to be the most detrained that I have been in years. So yeah, it does feel like starting over from square one.

Of course as JT pointed out it is all relative. 35 miles for the week, six hours and twelve minutes of training time with 4321 feet of gain. All of this was done with a strict MAF focus. For me this feels out of shape.

This week will be better. We have good weather in the forecast AND I am going to Moab on Friday to run there and hang out for the weekend. So I am excited about all of that.

Toying with the idea of the Aspen Backcountry Marathon here in June. It isn't a slouch of a race at all. Actually knowing the parts of the course that I do know makes it is quite intimidating. But the upside to that race is that it is here and I don't have to travel. It could be fun.

Eight weeks and six days to Mexico. God I can't wait to be warm. I told Melissa she can kick me hard the first time I complain about the heat! :)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Cold #2

It started the evening of the 1st with a couple of more than just clearing my airways coughs. Yesterday on the 2nd, as much as I did not want to believe it, I sneezed too many times and I could feel that weird scratchy sensation between the back of my sinuses and my throat.

We were supposed to go to Junction today but when I woke up and we discussed it the unified decision was to stay home. So now I am back in bed.

I can handle getting one cold a year. I sort of expect it, but two and in such close of a proximity in time? I blame Aspen 100%. I got sick last year over the holiday season and ended up doing it again this year. When you live in a town that has a capacity for 5-6,000 people and then the population ends up close to 30K for a week, you can bet some nasty bugs get imported here and just being out amongst the masses you are doomed to catch something.

Anyway, started popping the zinc yesterday and hope it helps. If it is just a head cold and does not get into my lungs again I will be ecstatic. But the flu is widespread here in the RFV right now so I can't rule that out either. I hate being sick.

I WAS having a good week training. Two trips up the front of Aspen Mountain, then another longer trip running from the house and up the back side. 5:37 in time, over 10K of climbing, 15 or so miles. With this cold, this training week is over.

For everyone who reads this and if you are interested, let me know if you would want to go to Moab the weekend of the 23rd of January.  I need to get out of here to someplace that might be warmer and less crowded and that is the perfect weekend to go as it is X-Games weekend here in Aspen.

No plans or structure for that weekend, I just want to get in some longer runs, relax, and have fun. I have not been to Moab since 1997 and I am scared to go back as I am sure it is NOT the same place we used to go to a few times a year back in the 90's. I wasn't planning on taking a bike but if I get into the 100 MTB via the lottery, I will probably take one.

I would at a minimum like to run the Slickrock trail. I've ridden it dozens of times and always wanted to run it for some reason but never have. So if I have a goal for that weekend, that would be it.

Kicking around the idea of the SJS 50 for some reason. I can't seem to find when they would do the lottery drawing though.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Closing Out 2014

The view this morning looking southwest from the Aspen Mountain summit.
The new year is here tomorrow. So far, no huge plans for 2015 yet. I expect that to be firmed up in two to three weeks after the LT100 MTB lottery. I am not hugely invested on if I get in or not. If I get in, fine, if I don't, fine... I will have PLENTY to keep me busy.

Run Rabbit Run is starting to feel like a real A Goal race for me regardless of what happens. 

Ending my second week after being sick. Not much running but a lot of hiking, snow shoeing, and skiing uphill.  HUGE vertical focus. Between the three activities in the past nine days I have covered a total of 20.46 miles. 20,035 feet of gain in 11 hours and 28 minutes of time.

Next week I will start running more consistently and back off on the vertical a bit. I have just been having a lot of fun these past several days doing other things to work out instead of running. I have to say it has been a nice break.

Happy 2015 everyone.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Special Kind Of Special

The Gear
My plan Tuesday morning was to get up at 5:45, get ready and then snowshoe up Aspen Mountain. I rolled over and checked the outside temperature on my phone and it was -2 Fahrenheit here in town so it had to be even colder up on top. I turned off the alarm, milled around the apartment for a little bit until it really got too late to leave to go.

Melissa is off this week and wanted to ski Tuesday morning so I asked if I could hitch a ride with her to Midnight Mine Road, which is off of Castle Creek Road. The temps had warmed up a bit and I wanted to do something a little different which was to ski with climbing skins up the road to the summit instead of going up the front face.

I have only been dabbling again with back country skiing the past few years. Nothing like I used to do when I was in my 20's when I was out most weekends and was doing a lot of hut trips. But I prefer it to area skiing if for nothing else for the solitude.

The trip on Tuesday I will have to say was one of the best days out on BC skis that I can really ever remember. I saw elk tracks, moose tracks, and even fox tracks along the road for a bit. After about mile three I was breaking trail as no snowmobiles had gone through there yet. It was quiet and pretty out.
Looking back from breaking trail.
The trip up was 5.3 miles with 3100 feet of gain. It was challenging. It took me 2:55 to get up to the Sundeck after I started and when I got there I was beat down tired. But happy. Very happy.

I went into the Sundeck and hung out a bit. Actually I devoured my granola bar and my Larabar and drank the water in my Nalgene bottle, well after I broke through ice cap that had strangely formed on top. I contemplated skiing down but I was too pooped and decided to just ride the Gondola down.

I get a kick out of riding the gondola and Tuesday was no different. I was riding down and watching the carnage on the slopes below me and to be honest, it just looked damned cold out. It all just looked miserable to be honest.

Then it hit me... I am a special kind of special, you can figure out what that means on your own. I bet by skiing three hours up a damned mountain alone and riding the gondola down afterwards that I had a better time than most people out there. Or I just had a better time because I just do things differently than most. I don't know.

Anyway you cut it, I had a great time. I think will take the same route tomorrow up. Today I went up the front side and it was fun but it only took 1:38.  I want more time out there I guess.

I have pretty much decided that I am going to race the America's Uphill on March 14 and train exclusively for it until the race. So for the next couple of weeks I want to go up the mountain every day before I start getting focused on the training. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Finally Better

It was dumping all night on Sunday night.
The cold ended up being a total drag which lasted two weeks. One week with it in the head, one week in the lungs, with the second week being the worst of the two. I only got to run/workout twice in those two weeks, both times on the Thursday morning uphill. I felt better after this last Thursday but decided to give it until today to start pushing it again.

And that is what I did this morning. We have gotten about a foot of fresh snow in the past 48 hours, so I decided that it would be a snowshoe morning up Aspen Mountain. Moderate effort and I made it up in 1:37. It was so weird because there are usually other people either hiking or skinning up each morning but today I had it all to myself it seemed. Conditions near the top got a little epic with the wind blowing the snow all around but it was fun. What was more fun was the gondola ride down with the wind rocking it every which way.  It definitely felt like flying this morning riding down.

I still don't know why I get so geeked out over riding the gondola but it is one of my favorite things to do.

So... race goal number one for 2015 will be the America's Uphill on March 14th. My goal is to go under an hour. I plan to solely focus on that for the next 12 weeks.

I did put in for the LT100 MTB lottery. The nice thing is that I will know in mid-January as opposed to the first week of March this past year if I got in or not.

The San Juan Solstice is now a lottery? WTH?

From a work perspective things are on point. I had one of my blogs on picked up by yesterday and it drove traffic through the roof. That was kind of neat.  

No great plans for the holidays. Melissa is on break until the 5th and it is great to have her home and getting to do normal stuff together. Annie is coming up from Fort Collins on the 28th and staying until the second of January and we are really excited for her to visit.

I hope that everyone has a great Christmas/rest of Chanukah!  

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Nothing really to write about.  I am still breathing but not very well.  I've been fighting some strange cold thing since Monday and I still don't have a clue which direction it is going.  I feel better today but not sure if that will be the ongoing trend or will it be one of those things that lasts for weeks...

The Summit For Life went well for me.  I didn't raise as much as I wanted but then neither did anyone else for the most part.  The race itself went a lot better than I thought.  I made it up in 1:07:50 and had an average HR of 174.  Basically holding what would be my 5K effort for over an hour.  Sunday I was hurting.

No real plans for 2015 yet.  Usually after the thing on Saturday, I go through week or two of mixed emotions bouncing between relieved and disappointed. I guess after five years of bad luck it just goes straight to disappointment and stays there.  I am #45 on the wait-list so at least I got on that this year! :)

I have some ideas for next year but nothing has ignited a consuming fire within me yet. There is a long list of things that I DON'T want to do, Leadman #3 being one of them.  I figure it will be a couple weeks before things start coming to me that interest me.  The rough draft is LT100 Bike to ride on a team and help out (no PR attempt), pace the LT100 Run, and maybe, maybe RRR100 solo again.  Maybe.

The weather here in Aspen has been nuts.  Sunny and high 40's everyday the past two weeks.  Maybe a storm coming this weekend but so far there are no advisories and it isn't at watch or warning status so we probably won't get much.  I just thought for sure when the weather started coming in November that would be the norm until April.  So far it has been a very light winter.  Glad that I am not a big skier.  I think they are all pissed by now.  At the present rate if I was someone traveling here for the holidays to ski I wouldn't be too optimistic.  With all of the snow that is melting, consolidating, and refreezing every night, once we do start getting significant snowfall again, the avalanche danger is going to be extreme.

I've been on the snowshoes twice so far.  Meh... they are okay.  I mean for snowshoes I am sure they are fantastic as they are super light and I don't really know they are there.  But for me there really isn't any difference than going across snow with my Hokas and microspikes.   I am sure the more that I play with them and in different conditions I will grow to appreciate them.

Just over 14 weeks until Mexico.  Now that is something that I can get excited about.  I am also still considering a trip to Moab the 23rd of January to escape the X Games crowd.  I might make that a little longer than a weekend trip.