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.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Still Here... Still Running...

There has been a lot going on these past few weeks. The week after Salida I took it easy but still managed a 63 mile week. My time in Mexico allowed me to get two good runs in but I bailed on the third one later in the week for two reasons:

1. I was tired and fatigued from two hard days of running mixed with two long days of spearfishing.
2. I think I was coming down with something.

And come down with something I did... I spent my last Friday in Mexico never far from a toilet. I thought it cleared up but my little intestinal souvenir came home with me and gave me grief all the way through last Monday. Knowing that the good bacteria in my stomach and digestive system were probably all wiped out I ate a ton of yogurt on Monday to set things right and thankfully it worked.

Tuesday I started running again and logged 60 miles for last week. I did make one mistake and that is that I had a meeting that was supposed to happen on Friday get moved to Saturday morning. So because of that I ran ten on Saturday then twenty on Sunday rather than the 20 and then the ten. I was definitely feeling Saturday's run during Sunday's run but it all went well.

I have found myself presented with a very unique professional opportunity here. It has been in the works and has been gestating for well over a month now but something has found me and given me a new direction in life that I could never had planned on. In short, it's a job, and the funny thing is that it found me... 

I will not go into great details for now, but for me it feels like everything that I have done or learned in my adult life has built towards this and the bonus is that I still get to focus on helping and coaching people. That is what my meeting was about on Saturday.

Today I guess was my first day on the job in a way. Some of the things we are doing will be doing will be contract based and we are in the process of doing a lot of proof-of-concept types of work as well as defining processes and procedures. On the surface, very simple stuff, but at the same time very exciting to be a part of.  I promise more details in the future as things progress.

12 Weeks until the Aspen Backcountry Marathon. Now that the weather is getting nicer, training for it will be a lot easier than it was for Salida.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Salida Project

The Salida Project started back in January at the end of my first week of running in several weeks. That Saturday I did a 15.5 mile run up to Ashcroft then back down a bit before Melissa picked me up. That run put me into the hurt locker but not too deep as I ran ten miles on Sunday and was actually feeling pretty good. It was actually on that run that I hatched the plan to go and race the Salida Marathon this year.

In my mind, I would just head over on Friday night, maybe crash in the Jeep, do the race on Saturday then come home right afterwards. Simple enough.

When I got home from that run I told Melissa of my idea of running the race and she suggested we just make a weekend of it and stay there. So basically within 15 minutes of getting home we had that discussion, I registered for the race, AND we booked a hotel room at a hotel so we could even take Asia.

That sewed things up quite nicely and I was from then on committed to the race.

Training in and around Aspen in the middle of the winter is iffy at best. Having about eight weeks until the race I decided on four more solid weeks of base building and trying to get the weekly mileages up while focusing solely on running at MAF or at zone two. No speed work was allowed at all until the week of the 16th of February. It was also in January that I finagled a trip to Moab, Utah to run some dry trails.

Those four weeks went well and then came the speed work. I was basically left with only two weeks to really focus on that then a week to back off just a bit then a week of resting and taking it easy leading up to the race. The fist week of specified training I handled pretty well and in way it was fun to do those focused and concise workouts again.

The second week, I felt a little jagged around the edges but still managed to do okay. By the week before the race, the speedier workouts were showing results and few more running gears became available to me.

I also rediscovered that little sweet-spot of fatigue after the second week of speed work... I would feel tired and struggle to get motivated to go out and run each day but after a couples miles into the workout I felt fine.

Wanting to show up and do my best for this race I got a little more serious than usual about my diet.  Nothing crazy but I cut out a lot of crap and each week my weight dropped a pound or so. (I still resent the fact that I have to watch what I eat in order to lose weight.) But the loss in weight payed off significantly for me on that five mile climb on the road between miles 8 and 13. I could literally feel the difference.

Taper week was fun like all taper weeks. The week started off with me feeling rather crappy but I knew it was just my body going into repair mode since the volume and intensity of the previous few weeks had gone away. But by the end of the week when it was time to go to Salida for the race I felt fine and ready to go.

Now, I had a plan for the race... I had been monitoring my heart rate rather diligently and figured if I could go out and keep it between 155 and and 160 and end the thing with a 155 average at the end I should have a solid run. With that level of effort I should have been able to start off at a reasonably fast pace along with a reasonably strong level of effort and maintain both through the entire race.

Well, you know what they say about plans...

The race starts and off I go. Legs feel fine, cruising a little faster than I had anticipated, yet I was still comfortable. However, my heart rate was about ten beats per minute higher than I was planning run it.  Decision time... Do I back off and play it safe, or do I risk it and see how it turns out?

I gave myself about five miles to sort it all out. My heart rate was not dropping, but I was also feeling really good. The internal dialogue went a little like this...

"Well Andrew... if you are going to be dumb ass today, then you are going to be a dumb ass until the absolute very end...  when you start to feel like crap and want to back off, tough shit... you are committed now."

So I did commit and ran all out the entire race and it worked out obviously. In the end my average heart rate was 165. One of my goals, knowing there would be mud and snow in the middle section of the course, was to run fast enough so that when I got to the mud and snow it might be still setup and frozen from the night before. With the exception of that first quarter or half a mile or so past that mid-way aid station, mud was not really an issue.  As for the snow, it sucked, but I have a ton of experience from running around Aspen all winter which allowed me to handle it better I think.  I could read the nature of the snow, and know exactly how hard to hit it or how to approach it.

But I have to say, that second to last long section of snow that had an uphill angle to it, about nearly did me in.

It has been a long time since I have ran in Salida and I forgot just how technical those last few miles are. I've been wondering in my mind which race might be tougher, the Aspen Backcountry Marathon which I will run in June, or the Salida Marathon. I have never ran the Aspen one, but I am pretty familiar with the different sections of the course and right now I will say that I believe that Salida is just tougher due to the technical portions.

In the end, I have never been more proud of my preparation for a race and also the execution of the race.  Each training run, each speed workout, and each rest day were fully taken advantage of. And though the weather sort of gummed things up at the end of February I still made do. There isn't a part of my training for this race that I wish I had done differently. The same goes for the race... I have no regrets. There is nothing that I could or would change. No wishes or "only if's" at all.

That is a pretty good feeling.

You can see the course map, elevation profile, and my data here on Training Peaks.

For now... Taking some time to step back a bit. Working on getting the legs moving again this week.  We leave for Cozumel on Saturday, and then when I get back I will start focusing on the Aspen Backcountry Marathon. For now it looks like a month to a month and half of nothing but more basebuilding and running at MAF before I reintroduce speed work around the first of May more than likely.

P.S.  This was my fastest Marathon ever and a new PR. Note: I have never run a fast road Marathon ever.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

One Foot On The Gas And One Foot On the Brakes

Another solid week this week.  Backed off a bit but increased intensity just a touch more. The weather was seriously crappy the first part of the week up until Thursday but has been rather nice the past two days.

I have definitely discovered (rediscovered) that sweet spot of fatigue this week.  I am familiar with it and it tells me that I have been training hard enough to get worked but not so hard that I am digging a crater that I can't climb out of.  The most obvious symptom is that before every run I really do not want to go run. But once I am out and have a couple of miles done I feel great and there isn't any issue.

The week broke down like this...

Monday - Mandatory rest day.

Tuesday - 9 Miles - 1:16:30. MAF focused run.  Cold, snowy, and actually windy for up here. It felt pretty good though. It also felt a little fast but it all worked out.

Wednesday - 12 Miles - 1:39:46 - As bad as last weeks 12 miler went, this one was the opposite.  Went into it tired and not knowing how it would go but after a couple of miles it felt great.

Thursday - 13 Miles - 1:46:02 - Two Mile warmup, 5x1 minute easy hill repeats, then nine miles in Zone 3 or M effort. I went into this one feeling the tiredest all week but the run unfolded and turned out pretty good. It was also the first nicer day of the week which was a treat.

Friday - Mandatory rest day.

Saturday - 9 Miles - 1:09:02 - Two mile warmup, 3 miles in Zone 3 or M effort, .5 miles MAF, then another 3 Miles in Zone 3 followed by another .5 miles at MAF to finish.  Beautiful day. Not quite warm enough for shorts but still pleasant.  I even saw two guys on 82, east of town, riding their road bikes.  Spring must be close.

Sunday - 10 Miles - 1:21:47 - Easy ten miles at MAF effort. Felt a little off but I think that is partly due to yesterday's run, accumulated fatigue, and I got up at 4:30 this morning so I can counterbalance the effects of switching to DST and be able to go to bed on time tonight.

So that was the week... 53 Miles for the week. 7:13:07 for time. And 4829 feet in gain.

Today was my birthday and a nice one. No real shenanigans to report as I figure on just waiting until I am in Mexico in two weeks to really celebrate.  I had a nice mellow day and wrote another article for my work blog. Plus today's run in the sun was good enough for me.

But right now I am tired and ready for bed and definitely looking forward to my rest day tomorrow!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Chronic Snow Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Snow Fatigue Syndrome, CSFS, also known by it's street name Can't Stand F*cking Snow is not in the DSM but it should be. I might have made it up but I know it is real because I certainly have it!

Pretty good week this week. Even with the onslaught of winter weather I was able to miraculously fit my runs in between storms. Most of the workouts were a touch slower it seemed (except for Saturday) and I think the weather along with road and trail conditions were to blame.

The week broke down like this:

Monday - Mandatory rest day.

Tuesday - 9 Miles with hill repeats - 1:27:50 - I was not sure how this run was going to go. We got a lot of snow Monday night and I was not sure if the path on Cemetery Lane would be clear or not. I waited until mid-afternoon before heading out and the path was indeed clear. Unfortunately I had waited to late in the day and the sun was behind Red Butte, so the hill-repeat section was in the shade and cold. The workout went well but the three mile cooldown was very slow as my heart-rate was still elevated and I had to go slow in order to keep it lower.

Wednesday - 12 Miles - 1:59:56 - I didn't sleep well Tuesday night and I suspect the workout from Tuesday had me a little beat down. Melissa and I had gone to Glenwood early in the morning to run errands and soak and she dropped me off on Lower River Road and I ran from there the 12 miles to Aspen. It was a rough run, slow, and I was so tired. But even if the run went sort of crappy, I took it as a solid sign that I am indeed getting stronger.

Thursday - 9 Miles - 1:16:22 - Progression run broken into two mile segments. 9 Mile Progression run in 2 mile increments. #1- HR 135-145. #2- HR 145-155. #3- HR 155-165. #4- HR 165+. #5- 1 mile MAF/cool down. I found myself procrastinating as it got closer to lunchtime and time to run as I guess I was fearing what was in store for me. The same as last week. BUT! As badly as I had suffered the day before on this run I felt as if I had just floated. The overall time for the run was a minute slow but that is more due to more climbing than the week before.

Friday - Mandatory rest day. I really don't remember Friday. I know I was glad for the day off.

Saturday - 20 Miles - 2:52:59 - I had three plans going into Saturday's run. The first was to just get it done, stick with the heart rate at MAF and get it done. Then on Friday night or Saturday morning I started getting a little more ambitious and thought that I would run only the first six in Zone 3, marathon pace/effort. When I left the apartment that was the plan but as I got closer to mile six I decided that I wanted to see if I could hang on for the entire 20 miles. And I did! 20 Miles, 2:52:59, avg hr 155, 2710 feet in gain, avg elevation 8106. Hell of a confidence builder. Just one hell of a confidence builder.

Sunday - 10 Miles - 1:32:41 - Treadmill - I figured that I would just stick with the treadmill this week just like last week. My legs felt fine on Sunday morning after the 20 miler but damned if I did not feel tired. Just that overall sensation of fatigue in the body that comes with a few hard weeks of training strung together. Treadmills are not fun but we got a lot of new snow last night and everything was WAY too messy outside to try to do any serious effort running. 

So that was the week... 60 Miles for the week. 9:09:49 for time. And 6076 feet in gain. 

Total miles for February, 255.5. 

The Hoka Mafate Speeds are an awesome shoe. I have liked them so much this past week that I have already ordered a second pair for when these are done.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015


I think specificity has to be one of the coolest words and that is what this week as about... being specific in terms of running.

The four weeks previous were admittedly a very aggressive base building phase where my weekly mileages really jumped. This was me just throwing numbers (miles) at the problem (my fitness or lack of.)

The week of January 12 - 35 Miles
The week of January 19 - 58 Miles
The week of January 26 - 42 Miles (Because I dropped that Sunday run after driving home.)
The week of February 2 - 72 Miles
The week of February 9 - 73.5

Each week had two days off in them except for the January 26 week which had three. All of those runs were done with a very strict MAF focus.

This week I switched the focus some to include speed work which I could tell I was needing. So the plan for this week became very regimented and very specific in regards to workouts and my desired outcome.

Monday - Mandatory rest day.

Tuesday - 9 Miles with hill repeats - 1:22 - I did about a two mile warmup and then ten, one minute - hard uphill efforts then jogged back to the bottom. After the first one I was I questioning if I could hang on for all ten which is pretty normal for me to do.  The 8th one was my strongest. Overall the workout went well and I was happy to have it done. Did about a three mile cool down after the repeats.

Wednesday - 12 Miles - 1:53:11 - Ran this one at MAF and just cruised. Things definitely felt tight and my stride took a while to stretch out but after warming up everything was fine. I could feel the work from the previous day but it was not a show stopper.

Thursday - 9 Miles - 1:15:44 - Progression run broken into two mile segments. 9 Mile Progression run in 2 mile increments. #1- HR 135-145. #2- HR 145-155. #3- HR 155-165. #4- HR 165+. #5- 1 mile MAF/cool down. I found myself procrastinating as it got closer to lunchtime and time to run as I guess I was fearing what was in store for me. The workout went really well and I was able to maintain an avg HR of 175 for that last 2 mile stretch.

Splits for the Thursday progression run.
Friday - Mandatory rest day and I definitely needed it! My legs took a thrashing on Thursday and all day they felt shredded.

Saturday - 20 Miles - 3:37 - Saturday was just one of those long runs that you have to do in less than desirable conditions that you know you can run faster but the elements dictate otherwise. I ran up Maroon Creek Road past the T Lazy 7 Ranch but once past the gate the snow was not runnable like it had been in the past few weeks. Turned around after two miles of step, sink, slip... step, sink, slip running. When I finished it was not so much that I felt like the run put me in the tank physically as much as I was just done with running in the crappy weather. - The week must have been taking a toll because when I went to bed Saturday night I started reading and maybe, maybe read three pages before my eyes were closed and turning the light off. I rarely go to sleep that easily.

At the end of 20 miles on Saturday.
Sunday - 10 Miles - Treadmill - As a general rule I loathe treadmill and will do anything I have to do in order to not have to run on one but today was an exception. 1. After being in the elements yesterday, I looked forward to being inside, warm, and dry. 2. Given the deteriorating road and path conditions with all of the new snow, a treadmill is just safer today. But I believe there are truly benefits to running on one. I don't suggest running on one all of the time but I think it has its own ways of making a runner stronger if used on occasion.

So the week ends up looking like 60 Miles for the week. 9:39:22 for time. And 4621 feet in gain.

If I had to generalize how I am feeling today after this training week I would definitely say that I am tired. Tomorrow, Monday, is a rest day and my goal for this coming week is to identically duplicate this past week.  The weather might have other ideas though.

I am over the weather by now. Yesterday when I was running I was thinking to myself that there is just a time when winter needs to be done. For me that is now. I knew that I was setting myself up for disappointment these past three weeks with all of the warm weather we have been having. My fantasy of an early spring has now become the reality of yet another return of winter.

There are no other options for me now than to push through it the best I can. I have way too much momentum built up now to allow the weather to really derail me. It is just part of the price I have to pay to live where I do. In another few months there isn't a more idyllic place to train and run in my opinion. You have the altitude, the terrain, and very comfortable temperatures, even on the hottest of days. I'll stop bitching now.

I wore the Hoka Mafate Speed's for the first time yesterday. After wearing the Stinsons exclusively for the past three years the new Mafates definitely felt different. So far I love them though. Great fit, awesome traction which I damned well needed yesterday, and they are comfortable. I have to give props to any shoe that you can take straight out of the box and then go do a 20 miler in without any break in period. The downside to them is they have a much stiffer sole than the Stinsons and harder surfaces are little too hard but I think they would kill it on any dirt or trail surfaces. At any rate, I am committed to them for the next two - three months of running to give them a fair shake out.

Three weeks and six days to Mexico... :) I have already booked two days of spearfishing for myself when I am down there. Can not wait to be eating some fresh trigger fish!