Friday, December 30, 2011

Why Cigars Are Better Than Running Shoes

I am on the verge of a running shoe crisis I believe. One of the things that I don't like about running is having to constantly deal with and adjust to new and upcoming lines of running shoes while old favorites are discontinued and no longer available.

I mean with cigars you find a good brand, shape, and size and if it is from one of the larger more reputable houses, that cigar will ALWAYS be available. Cohiba will never ditch their Siglo line to make something different just for the hell of it. The same Siglo IV's that I bought three years ago will be just like the Siglo IV's that I buy again here in the near future... well, once I secure another source for Cubano Puros as my Swiss source got burned last year, but that is another discussion.

Back to shoes...

Right now I have three favorite pairs of shoes. Number one are my La Sportiva Crosslites. I've worn these in every big race this year over 20 miles. Hell, I even wore the damned things for 26.2 miles in the rain in the Dallas Marathon a few weeks back. They are a solid shoe. I would say that 80% of my 3000+ miles this year have been run in Crosslites.

Number two would be the New Balance MT101's. I love this shoe. For anything under 20 - 30 miles that I don't need a lot of protection for the shoes are the best. They are light and just comfortable. I love these shoes for shorter trail races but shy away from them if it is messy or wet out.

My third favorite shoe this past year has been the New Balance Trail Minimus or MT10. I have probably worn these shoes 2% of my overall mileage. Like the MT101s' these are light. They don't offer much protection at all and the pair I have now are pretty trashed and worn. But they are fun to wear when I want to do something different and they definitely make me work on or at least be aware of my crappy running form. These shoes are best for really warm days.

With these three shoes in my arsenal along with the Drymax socks that I wear exclusively I have had damned near ZERO blister problems this year. Zero. I did get blisters in the LT100 after mile 80 or so but that shit just happens and still it wasn't that bad.

So here is the conundrum... basically I have heard many unconfirmed reports from friends that La Sportiva is going to discontinue the Crosslites and only have the Crosslite V 2.0 available. I have tried that V 2.0 shoe and I don't like it one bit. The La Sportiva U.S. rep told me that they are not going away, yet on the European website for La Sportiva the shoes are no longer listed. So... I am not going to count on these shoes being around much longer. As a possible replacement I am looking at the Inov-8 Roclite 285's.

Then New Balance is doing it to me too... Well, I will be honest I am looking forward to the MT110's which will replace the 101's, no doubt. These shoes come out in January and from everything I have heard and read they are supposed to be quite the upgrade and worth the wait. This doesn't upset me as much but I am patiently waiting to see what they are like in person, try them on and run with them myself. Regardless of how much I like the 110's or not... I will have to say goodbye to the 101's as they ARE being discontinued. That is the part that I am uneasy about.

Then I have no freaking clue what they are doing with their Minimus Trail line. The new Trail Minimus, the MT00's come out in February. The original MT10's had a 4mm drop in them and the MT00's will have zero, none, 0, no mm drop in them. Truly minimalst in that department. Supposedly from what I have read too the outsole of the new MT00's' give a bit more protection which would be nice. My current MT10's can be a touch too thin on really rocky surfaces. My only concern here is that I am wondering how I might handle the 0mm drop? Also are the MT10's going to be discontinued altogether like the MT110's are replacing the MT101's? Ugh...

And lastly... yesterday I read about a totally NEW trail shoe by New Balance, the MT1010 which according to the article that I read "provides a minimal fit and feel, much like that of the [Minimus Trail a/k/a MT] 10, but with more traditional midsole heights and a more supportive upper.”

WTF?

So... We will have to wait and see how all of this plays out. If you want to read about all of the new New Balance shoes, here are some links.

MT110

MT00

And the MT1010

Just writing this stressed me out... I think it is time for a cigar and to dream of Havana.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

3016

3016 miles for the year today. Brownie beat me to 3000 but by COB I have more miles and the larger number in my blog title which ultimately is more important.

20 mile run in the wind today. Really bad out of the NW. Where in the hell did that come from.

Melissa's stopping at nothing to make sure that I have a great run in Rocky Raccoon. Her blog is here.

Still trying to get over this damned crud. Even my Dr. has it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Against All Odds... One Hell of a week!

First of all let me say that Old Man Winter can just smooch my snow balls. This is how this week played out.

80.54 mile for the week.

Monday - 20 mile run home from Monument with Brooks in the blizzard.
Tuesday - 10.10 mile run in the A.M. with the Sunrise Striders and a little extra.
Wednesday - 10.6 miles P.M.
Thursday - Two runs. 8.38 miles in the A.M. up to the top of Upper Gold Camp and then 6.75 in the P.M. with Asia.
Friday - 0 miles. I took the day off to Rest to get ahead of this cold hopefully.
Saturday - 24.69 miles spread out over three different runs. One 10+ miles with Brooks, one 9+ miles by myself, then 5+ miles with Asia on the third one. Oh yeah and that was while being oncall to boot!
Sunday - no running cause my ass is going skiing and I get to try out my new Fisher SB98 skis.

So there you have have... 80.54 miles in a 5 day training week, in the face of two winter storms while having a cold for four days, working and being on-call. Not too bad. This month I am up to 286 miles. I need to hit 333 for my yearly goal. With the outing that Brooks and I are contemplating for Monday it should not be a problem.

Happy Holiday's everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2011

2012 The Plan. Well, that's if the Mayans were wrong...

Right now training my ass off it seems like for Rocky Raccoon which is now seven weeks away. I am managing the mileage okay without too much physical breakdown. Some things are tweaky right now but I think they will either get better or just stick with me until I start to taper. Nothing is a show stopper for certain.

I have been handling the dark and the cold okay. Every run, morning or night requires a headlamp. I just accept it now. The worse part of running so much in the winter I have realized is not so much dealing with the weather but the sheer volume of fricking dirty running laundry that I have to do each week. Everything gets soaked because I have to layer up so much and then all those layers need washed. I do miss the days of summer when shorts and a t-shirt were enough.

Without a doubt though this training cycle seems to be one of the toughest I have ever been on EVER and this December will probably be not only my highest mileage month of the year but probably ever at this rate. It is just crazy. But fun.

So... 2012... if we are not all consumed in a huge ball of cosmic fire, or locusts or whatever, these are my planned races. I won't include the actual goals for all of them because right now I can't actually define those.

January
14 Fat Ass 50K Manitou
15 San Juan Solstice Registration (Not a race but still muy importante.)

Februay
4 Rocky Racooon 100 Miler

March
10 Salida 1/2 Marathon

April
21 Desert Rats 50 Mile

June
23 San Juan Solstice 50 Mile

July
15 - Leadville SR 50 (tentative, not sure, don' t know)

August
18-19 Leadville Trail 100

So there it is... a little less than last year in a way, in some ways more. I am excited because I think that overall 2012 is going to be just an amazing year all around.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So... Now What?

It has been ages since I have written anything. Actually there hasn't been much to write about. Well there is but I was also sort of taking a break the second half of November from a lot of stuff. Apparently my blog was a part of that time off.

Good news... I am happy with how the fall series turned out for me. I could have done better I think but some tactical errors on my part (Think McRibs) and some other things jacked with my last two races. But, on a good note I went to MD for Thanksgiving and PR'd in a 5K there, 18:49, grabbing 3rd in my age group and a medal to boot. That made up for me fucking up the fall series.

Ran with my friend Jenna this weekend as she completed her first marathon in the pouring rain in Dallas. It made for a fun weekend. She did the typical, "I'll never do this again," after the race to registering for another marathon Monday morning to get a better time.

I did not get into Hardrock. No surprise there... I know it isn't rigged but damn... anyway....

I am registered for Rocky Racoon 100 in February and will be running that with Dan, Brooks, and Marc. I think there is a group of ten of us who are going down there. RR100 training is in full swing now, or at least that is the direction that I am moving... 70.5 miles last week, shooting for 80 miles pretty much every week in December. With the dark, the cold, the wind, work, and the holidays it is going to be a challenge but I will do it.

I am also registered for Leadville 100 in August. Going for the Big Buckle! Hell Yeah! We have already booked a place to stay so those logistics are taken care of and it is nice to know this early in the game that all I have to do now is show up there and run. I do hope to get some good training in up there this summer as that I believe was a huge contributor to my racing successes this year.

There are some other races and other goals but I will get more into that in another post.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What a Long Damned Month

October... What a month. 216 miles for the month and finished with 2492 miles for the year. Everything was going well I'd say until the 16th or the 17th and that is when everything seemed to fall apart. Motivation went down the drain along with mileage. Burnout? The seasonal change? Basic run of the mill depression? Stress? All of the above? I don't know. I just know that I hit a wall, or the wall hit me and for the past two weeks it has been an uphill battle to get back into a comfortable rhythm.

Last night, I finally had a run that felt pretty good all around and even I had a greater sense of well being.

Regardless, the Fall Series is going well for me. I am doing much better than last year and that is exciting. One more race and it is over.

Leadville registration opens today and I am not nearly ready to commit to that. To be honest, my 2012 plans are sort of up in the air. I have a plan, it is written down but I am not ready to set course on any specific direction right now. Sort of waiting to see what happens on December 4th with the HR100 Lottery I guess. That race really is not a goal and I am not holding out to get in but if I do get in it will dictate how the year plays out both before and after July.

Asia is doing great at running. If I start getting my gear together she gets excited. If I ask her if she wants to go with me to "run" she goes nuts! She is fun to run with, even if she does look like a bowling ball with a head... and lots of teeth...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Flat

I need to start writing again but there just isn't much to write about. I have been running a lot the past couple of weeks but without much structure. I am having decent mileage weeks and getting in some good runs but without any imminent race or goal it is all rather aimless.

Hilites of the past two weeks include a new 20 mile mountain course that I have put together for training runs and a new 20 mile flat PR this past Sunday of 2:39:27. Other than that I have just been trying to make each run count and have some quality to my miles.

I've put together a loose race schedule for next year but last week I also sent my application for the Hardrock 100 lottery in. The lottery is in December this year and since it is earlier once the drawing is done then I can really firm up the rest of the year. We will see. I am not holding my breath.

Asia has been going on runs every day with me just about. Some days I take her on a separate run, just her, some days I come back shorting my own run and finish with her. She really loves running it seems and it is fun having her with me. She gets a day off tomorrow though... :)

I still need to register for the fall series and I will do that sometime this week. I think this year it will go much better for me than last.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Transitions

Summer is ending and one needs no more proof than the rain and cooler temps of the past week. Of course this time of year when the hours of sunlight decrease and the leaves change color and everything begins to turn brown is always a tough transition for me. I reckon that I tend to want to hang on to the days of summer just as I attempt to still hang on to the days of my misspent youth.

Anyway... life happens and moves on regardless so keeping that in mind I have been busy. Mostly I have been refocusing my life as I do every fall, figuring out what I want to do with the rest of the year and also looking forward to next year's running season.

For this fall I intend to run the PPRR Fall Series and some other 5K's and just try to work on speed while still enjoying the shorter and faster trail runs. I've doped out next year's running schedule and it is full. The only two months that I might not race will be May (due to the wedding) and July. However, I could end up running in July as I did submit my Hardrock 100 Lottery Application yesterday. We will see.

I got in some miles last week and this week even more. I am not sure where I will end this week mileage wise but it will be at least 60 miles I am sure. My post LT100 has been nothing short of miraculous I think.

Currently working on getting one small "project" done and once that is completed (I hope to hear back from the contractor today) I can start focusing on getting the cottage squared away to rent out. It is a nice addition to the income having that rented and I took it in the shorts keeping it vacant this month but damn it has been nice not having that last set of tenants back there. They weren't really BAD renters but they were a far cry from good renters all the same and pretty much the entire time they lived there the energy from the cottage was just weird. They were weird... anyway.... that reminds me that I still need to have Melissa go over there and burn some sage! :)

Everyone have a good weekend and enjoy the nice weekend weather while we still have it!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My LT100 Report... finally. Or... Taper? We don't need no stinkin' taper!

Running the Leadville Trail 100 miler this year was never in the plan. Sure I had planned to run during the event up to 50 miles or so as a pacer but never as a participant. This year was never about me running the LT100 again, this year. All of my races and training were to prove that when I go back next year that I can break 25 hours and get that damned big buckle.

The week before the race my mileage was 84 miles mostly in and around Leadville as I was staying up there helping a friend. The Monday before the race, 8/15 I did a 20 miler. A heavy load for that week or so but all in all I was feeling great. Actually I began to quietly wish that I was running as it just seemed that I was in awesome shape. But again... that is and was not the mission of this year. Well... things change.

Tuesday morning I am working and my boss calls me. My last ultra of the year was to be the Bear 100 later in Sept. The reason for the call was to inform me that I can't take any time off for that race, a decision made by executive mgt, not himself. In a way I was sort of relieved as I just could not get excited about that particular event no matter how hard I tried... Not such the fan of Utah... I hate driving across 80, it's a long ways a way and really the only redeeming factor for me was that the raced ENDED in Idaho which is way cooler than Utah in my book. Anyway... No Bear... no sweat...

So as we got off the phone, I sat there actually in Leadville staring at my computer and thought to myself... "the worst thing that they can tell me is no, right?" I immediately drafted a sincere and well written e-mail to the LT100 Race Director explaining that I could not run the Bear in Sept. I outlined the races any my times from the season so far and also pointed out that I am a prior LT100 finisher. I told him that I understood that this was FAR outside the normal process for registration while also acknowledging the fact that the race had been full since March. Then just basically said that if there is anyway they could let me register and get a bib number for the LT100 (four days away) I would be forever grateful.

I sent it...

I waited...

Two hours later I got the response... "We have a space for you. We are looking forward to having you run with us again."

Oh shit! Oh SHIT! Now it was put up or shut up time! After a quick consultation with my friend Brooks, then with Melissa, then clearing it with the runner I was supposed to pace (my cousin no less) I was set to get ready to run. Everybody was extremely excited to say the least and the instant support was amazing. Everybody was so confident and excited, including me.

Getting into a race 96 hours before a 100 miler is not the best way to approach one. I had to spend an extra day in Leadville... I had to stop running and rest my legs as much as possible but would it be enough? I had to go back to Colorado Springs and get my shit together and then be back in Leadville Thursday night in order to be there early enough for med check in Friday morning. Then the check in, then the mandatory pre-race briefing, then my crew had to get up there... oh yeah AND I still had work to do as I still could not take any vacation due to corporate stuff. Lots of hoops but I knew that I could get there and I did... Friday night my crew came up... I gave them all of my gear and really the only missing part was that I was not able to secure any pacers yet for the inbound trip from mile 50 to the finish. A detail that I decided not to sweat as I figured it would take care of itself and it did.

I barely slept Friday night so it was easy to get up before the alarm went off at 2:50 am to get up and start getting ready. Everybody was up and out of the house and we were at the starting line at 3:45 with plenty of time to spare. Me being the smart ass that I am decided to quote one of my favorite movies, Clerks by glibly spouting out, "I'm not even supposed to BE here today!" Sense of humor intact? Check!

The gun went off at 4:00 am and a herd of 610 runners headed off into the darkness. It felt good to be running which was a good sign however I was paying close attention to see if I could feel any soreness or anything else sinister lurking within the deep tissues of my legs. No... I felt a little tired in the drowsy sort of way but overall all systems seemed to be green. I got comfortable real quick and settled in for the next 23 miles or so to Fish Hatchery where I would actually see my crew for the first time.

I blasted through the first aid station, Mayqueen at 2:10 or so and I made it to Fish Hatchery about two hours after that. I really don't know how to explain my progress that morning but the miles covered seemed to be many more than the energy that I was expending and the time was whizzing by. The morning was beautiful. It was not cold at all, but it wasn't hot either. Just a real comfortable temperature to run in. It was even more beautiful once the sun came up. Regarding weather there were only two things to note... it wasn't supposed to get hot on Saturday at all, and there was the strong possibility of rainstorms, like 40% or so through Sunday.

I kept pushing and I made Twin Lakes which is the 40 mile mark in about 7:30. I was cooking and it was all just going great. No blisters... nothing hurt too much, I mean the normal discomforts that kick in around mile 20+ were there yes, but nothing that would stop the show. More sun screen, more sports shield and I was on my way to my least favorite parts.

The crossing of the meadow before the climb up Hope Pass I just do not like. It is always warm in there, it is flat, lots of water crossings, and it is generally unpleasant. This year was no exception. You just suck it up and get across the bare expanse and hit the timber and go on and that is what I did but on my way across I began to notice something. It was getting hot! WTF? Shit!

The heat came and the higher I climbed up Hope Pass, the hotter it seemed to get. Well until I actually cleared treeline then it got comfortable again but there were so many dead pockets of hot air climbing that it truly was miserable. Everything was going so great but now in this five mile section or so I began to fear the wheels were about to fall and the day would be ending quite soon. But as I said... once I got above treeline things got better... I did yak, twice right below the pass but that stuff happens all the time in these races and you just keep going. Down the south and steeper side of Hope Pass I was moving! This section has always given me fits in the past but this year I managed it quite well. It is still way more steep than I would like to be on and there are some tricky spots but I was moving and before I know I was at the bottom on the road and headed towards the 50 mile turn around point. And fortunately it had cooled off again!

To be honest, I did not know how the day would go. It was risky going to the line. I knew at worst I had a good 50 miles in me but past that? When I was about at mile 49 I started to really get the feeling and sense that I was going to finish the whole race. I would get another buckle and finish. It took me that long to get that. Good or bad I was thankful to be feeling that though as it did a lot to boost my confidence.

As I was headed towards the turn around a car which was coming from that direction towards me slowed down and the window rolled down. The driver yelled, "Andy you sneaky little fucker! I didn't know that you were running!" I laughed as it was my running coach that I have worked with a couple of times in the past. He shook his head and said that I looked too good for that distance but to keep going. We would see each other later when I was almost done... Regardless it boosted my spirits even more.

Into Winfield, and turned around. I found my crew and GREAT NEWS! They not only located one pacer for me but a handful of them as their runner had dropped at mile 28. Three in all. One would take me the next ten miles back up and over Hope Pass to Twin Lakes, the other from Twin Lakes to fish Hatchery, then a third one from Fish Hatchery to Mayqeen then the first pacer would run with me again from Mayqueen to the finish. I was SET!

We left Winfield and we were moving. I was not too happy with my time across Hope the first time that day but this crossing was different. We were up and over and back into Twin Lakes in 3:15... one hell of a split for that section. The cooler temps and rain shower or two helped. My feet were starting to bug me a little so I opted to switch from my Crosslites to my Fireblades at this point and that really seemed to help. It was a real quick stop as I got my new pacer, at a slice of pizza, grabbed some warmer clothes and we were out of there in ten minutes total I bet and there was STILL daylight... GREAT!

I am 43 and this cat is almost 20 years younger than me. Also he hadn't run 60 miles that day either so he was ready to go. We did a 16 mile stretch together and the last four miles of that he kicked my ass moving us constantly towards Fish Hatchery. A sustained run of any distance was out the window by this point so we could only run stretches at a time then walk... repeat. Me, I'd preferred a quarter of a mile at time, but this dude? NO. He liked a half a mile or so... I mean it worked but it was taxing and we made great time through that section.

Fish Hatchery... about mile 75 miles or so... I get a new pacer. Now for the dreadful powerline climb then up and over Sugarloaf to Mayqueen. This is a horrid part of the course as the climb takes forever, there are false summits and it is steep as hell in parts. The truly insidious detail of this section is that once on top of Sugarloaf you can see the Mayqueen aid station down by the lake all lit up and inviting. It looks so close that you could almost reach out and touch it... the reality is that it is more than six miles away and while most of it is downhill it is rocky, nasty, twisty, and treacherous. IF you have any quads left in this race... this part will finish them off. It was in this section last year where I about quit, wanted to quit, and experienced the darkest, most dreadful moment of my life. I think that you get it... This part I was not looking forward to.

But things were still clicking... My new pacer and I climbed albeit not so fast but a steady rate. Fast enough that were passing some other folks. It took forever to get to the top but once we did we were able to move and cover some ground. As much as I did dread this section to be honest we made short work of it getting to Mayqeen, the last aid station in just under four hours from fish and a whole three hours earlier (clock time) than last year. Things were going great.

We got into Mayqueen at about 3:30 am. I've been at it almost 24 hours now. Time for a little break. I sit down, eat some soup and have a couple of cups of coke. My coach who has now heard the entire story of how I ended up in the race, including my mileages from the week before wanders up to me and shakes his head and says to me basically that I am one STRONG young man and walks away. It makes me feel good to hear that but also I know that if he is there still he is waiting for HIS runners to come in yet.

I get more warm clothes from my crew for the trip around the lake and my pacer is ready to go and we take off. I tell him that I have zero desire to push it at this point. I am going to finish but there is no need for a huge push right here. It is 13.5 miles to the finish and I plan to do it at about the standard split for that section, walking/running in just under four hours. We take off into the darkness and start around Turquoise lake. It is dark and cold an there is a lot of moisture in the air. Progress seems slow but even on a good day, in daylight, that section is forever long. We keep chugging along and are all of the way around the lake before the sun if fully up. Five more miles of easy terrain mostly yet there is a 3 mile gradual hill that we need to climb before getting to town but we can do it. Walk run... walk run.. walk run...

Everything feels elongated now... 100 yards feels like 400... and to make matters worse five minutes passes in what feels like should only be a one minutes span... We want to come in under 28 hours and it is close. I know this section, I know the splits, I know the distances.... If we don't let up we should come in right under. We come into town and with about a mile ago, 1/4 mile of hill on 6th Ave. the blister on my left foot, right on the ball which is about the size of a silver dollar, well it decided to pop. I screamed. I stopped. I cried. I kept moving.

Over the hill and I can see the red carpet of the finish way in the distance. It takes everything that I have to keep my emotions contained as we get closer... It hurts... it all hurts... everything has been hurting for hours and hours and it is about to be over. I ran hard and I ran well the entire 100 miles. I am joined by crew, Melissa, Annie and Erich and some friends the last little section. They cheer me on telling me that I am doing great... I can feel the tears streaming down my face, my foot hurts... it all hurts but I am close... I cross the finish line and bend over with hands on my knees trying to keep it together. The medal goes around my neck and Marilee hugs me and welcomes me home. I hug her back and struggle to let go. I felt alone for so long out there I did not want to let her go.

Beautiful. 27:59:11.

I have my crew walk me to the med tent where they weigh me and I go in and sit on a cot. I just need a few. I sit and I cry for a few minutes cause it all hurt so much for so many miles. For so long there was me and there was that and I know that in a way that only I understand. I worked so hard and I felt it. Then it is gone. My breathing comes back to normal... I smile and I am ready to go. I crack some inappropriate joke and we leave the tent. I see some friends and say hi but right now all I want is a shower and toothbrush, and a fucking nap.

Next year I will be back. The big buckle (sub 25 hours) will be the goal and from everything that has happened this year I truly believe that I can get it. This race was the missing piece to the puzzle/picture which was this ultra season for me and I didn't even realize it till it was over. It all shows me that my work has been and is paying off and that I am truly am moving in the right direction. I can't express just how satisfying that has been to know these past few days. I can't. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wow... First of all... A Thank You...

I am still processing my Leadville Trail 100 run from this past weekend and as of yet I have no idea on how to even begin to write about it. I am not sure where to start and where to end and I want to write it out and not just regurgitate another mile by mile race report. That being said I want to first try to say thank you to everyone involved in getting me to the start line and then to the finish line.

So a huge thank you to everyone listed below. There is no way that I could have pulled this off without you all.

1. LT100 Race committee first of all for allowing me to register and even run the race.
2. Melissa who was supportive and did not try to "cut me" when I told her that I thought I might get in and run it. She managed all of the crewing functions and secured a rock solid team of pacers for me from Winfield all the way to the finish.
3. Annie, my daughter... She came up and crewed as well. It was a joy having her there.
4. Brooks who when I bounced the idea off of him to do the race or not (the Tuesday before), who excitedly and unequivocally told me to go for it.
5. My cousin John whom I was originally slated to pace. He had an AWESOME and inspiring sub-25 run which only excites and motivates me to go for it next year. Meeting him this year, talking about racing and running with him definitely reignited and renewed my own enthusiasm for the sport.
6. Bob and Tobi for letting me crash at their place up in Pb. Watching the dogs for them that week and running and playing up at that altitude for a week I am sure helped tons.
7. My pacers... Denny... What a great pacer. He took on the stretches from Win to TL then from MQ to the finish... We tore up the return trip over Hope Pass at a pace that I am still marveling over. Shawn who was SOLID the entire way from TL to Fish... He pushed hard and was unwavering in regards to keeping moving at a brisk pace. A great pacer who pushed me when I really needed it. Patrick... He was very patient on the trip up and over Sugarloaf which I was not looking forward to at all. This was where the pain really began and he rode it out with me. I still can't believe he did it in SANDALS! Denny again... awesome in the last stretch as he was dedicated to get me home. He got to see the damage and carnage as it was happening there at the end first hand. The three best pacers that I could have hoped for on this trip.
8. Coach Weber who was there and said some choice words to me (all meant in a good way of course.) Seriously... If it weren't from him I'd never gotten as far as I have in this sport. Surprise!
9. To all of my friends who were there at the race, running and or spectating, or pacing... seeing everyone truly inspires me to keep going.
10. And lastly... to myself for all of the hard work that I have put in this year... for having the courage to go to the line this year and for having what it took to drag my butt across the finish for a second time.

I will write more later... it may be this week or next but I will follow up with a more conclusive writeup as it was quite the adventure.





Thursday, August 18, 2011

Plans... Or... What to do with the lemons?

Sometimes I believe plans are there for no other reason than to have something just to chuck out the window in order to pursue other options... Let me give you an example...

My life-view as of Monday morning 7:20 looked like this...

1. I was to stay in Leadville for one more day, leaving Tuesday morning to go home.
2. I was to come back to Leadville on Friday to pace my cousin for part of his inbound leg in the Lt100 run.
3. I would train after that and run the Bear 100 in Sept.
4. I would focus on 2012 after that.

By Tuesday 12:00, things had changed to...

1. I could not get time off to to run the Bear due to the VZ/CWA strike. My request was denied by executive management.
2. After presenting my situation to the LT100 RD, I was allowed a spot in this weekends race.
3. Instead of coming back to Leadville on Friday, I have to return on Thursday to be there in time for Med check in Friday Am.
4. I go to the start line 04:00 Saturday morning.

That is kind of the gist of it all...

Can I do it? I think so. Why not? I have way more things going for me than not...

1. I am faster than I was last year, no doubt.
2. I will be going to the line about 14 lbs lighter than last year. (Of course I can' t bench 225 anymore either...)
3. Last year going to the line I had about 1550 training miles for the year under my belt. This year, 1900.
4. I have an awesome shoe/sock combo that I have run four 50 mile races this year using with ZERO blister issues.
5. I have an awesome and experienced crew for this race.
6. I know the course and have been on it (too much) recently.
7. I spent the past week living and sleeping at 10K +.
8. I don't have any injuries.
9. I am truly excited and passionate about doing this race more so than I was going into the Bear...
10. I've done it before and I know what to expect.
11. The weather forecast is for nice cool temps and no heat and we all all know how heat kicks my butt...

For the most part then the status board is mostly green... but there are issues that could be impacting and fully expect them to in one degree or another...

1. No @#$@# taper! I ran an 84+ mile week last week. I ran 20 miles (moderate effort) up in Leadville on Monday night. That being said, I won't be starting as fresh as one might want. BUT! My runs last week or so up in Pb were really strong quality runs that never left me too trashed. (a positive spin here...)

2. As well as having only a four day taper, I only have four days to wrap my head around this whole endeavor. So a very short time to psychologically prep. I am forced more into reactive mode now of just do it, don't think, just do it, which could lend itself to a more organic and natural (read better) running effort from me since I am not brain f*cking the race for months on end.

3. Timing is tight with me having to leave Leadville and get back to the Springs after being gone for a week. I have less than 24 hours (down to about 8 hours now) to get my life here caught up, get my gear together (all done last night) and run some last minute errands before heading out back to Leadville tonight. It is just stressful and more load than I would like on my system two days out from ANY race... much less this one.

That about sums it up. More in the plus than minus column for certain. I am excited and ready to go. I can't wait to get back up there and be a part of it all again.

As I told Melissa last night... When life gives you lemons, sometimes you just have to force life to bend the hell over, shove the lemons right back up life's ass, and then go on your merry way and run hard!

This is definitely one of those cases...

So I won't be pacing my cousin now but I guarantee I will be chasing him and working to catch him on the inbound. Hopefully that will push him even more. :)

So I say again... good luck to all of my friends racing and pacing this weekend. I am so excited to see how everyone does... From Brandon going for his Big Buckle to my buddy Lee who is going for his 1000 Mile Buckle... My cousin John going for his first finish and everyone else... I look forward to being out there with you on the trial again.



Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Year Later

Friday night I had a great training run. First I ran over to Brandon's place then we left there and headed down to the lake. Once at the lake we parted ways with them headed towards the dam and me headed on the single track to Mayqueen Campground and beyond.

The lake trail, I love it... I hate it. Regardless... I know it. I completely attribute my being able to finish the LT100 last year on my intimate knowledge of the 13 miles or so around the lake and into town as I ran is so much last year. It isn't a tough trail, or a bad trail, it is just a long trail. That north shore once you come around the boat ramp just seems to always go on and on forever. Friday night was no exception. My pace seemed erratic but still far from labored. I cruised through the campground to the Colorado Trail trailhead and started the climb up Sugarloaf.

Feeling tired from the night before made the run up the road and to the top of Sugarloaf tougher than I remember it being but it did reinforce my belief, that that particular climb is deceptively steep and easy to go out too fast on or go up too fast. It isn't that it is a hard climb but I think it is just easy enough to sap more out of a runner than they might realize at the moment. It was still fun running and cresting the top, seeing the full moon rising and following the trail markings.

I had my best run ever down the powerlines that night, even in the dark and with my headlamp on I still felt great coming down and I was on the hard road before I realized it with wet feet after missing the tiny footbridge in the bottom. Though I had run 20 miles the night before and then another twenty that evening and still having more to go, I was feeling pretty good. Strong.

Strong enough that I began to really wish that I were running the LT100 this weekend instead of the Bear 100 in September. I just feel so much better, stronger and faster than I did this time last year. I told Melissa Saturday night when we were bowling that I truly think that if I took this week off and rested, I would go to the line with a much higher chance of finishing than I even had last year.

That being said I looked at some numbers tonight and it stands to reason that I feel the way that I do. Last year, I went to the starting line for the LT100 with a total of 1544 miles for the year and that included the seven weeks struggling with the injury after the Salida Marathon in March.

This year... comparing to the same week as last year, I have a total of 1881 miles and I am uninjured and have not really had to manage any injuries this year at all. So just looking at the miles run and the races I've run as well, it is easy to see why that I feel way stronger than last year. Way.

But... this year has never been about coming back here in 2011 for the Lt100. No. It has been about keeping my eye on 2012 and seeing if I can come back and get the big buckle. It has been about getting faster and stronger and seeing just what I can do. I never really got to have THE race that I wanted this year for various reasons but I have had a solid season and there is no doubt that if I keep my training on track the next few weeks that if I get to actually go and run the Bear that I will do great. Right now going and running it is doubtful due to the strike and well, to be honest... driving 10 hours to Utah... well, that just doesn't excite me at all, so I might just bail on it.

I have just finished an 81.5 mile week and so far have 156 miles in for August. I am going to load this week up front mileage wise then take it easy later in the week in order to be able to give it my best pacing my cousin this coming weekend when he is running his Lt100.

And to all of my friends running and pacing next weekend I wish you all the very best race weekend!


Friday, August 5, 2011

Intuitive Training

For the time being I am on my own. No coach or anyone supervising my training for the next few months. I had brought my old coach back on this spring after Fruita, more than anything else to keep me out of trouble the next three months as I ran three more 50 mile races. By keeping me out of trouble I mean making sure that I don't over do it, take recovery weeks and taper as well. Things that I am not so great at enforcing myself.

While I enjoy being coached and having someone else doing the brainwork, at the same time I completely enjoy the freedom of training on my own and devising my own training schedules for each week as I go along.

Fortunately I found out yesterday that the impending strike at Vz will not impact me as much as originally thought so my racing and training for the next two months should not be affected too much. I still can not take any time off but I don't have to work 6x12's a week either. I did request time off for the Bear a couple of months ago and have yet to see if that was approved or not. The race starts on a Friday and it is in Utah so I HAVE to have time off to get there, race and get back. Anyway, it could all be over by then so I am not going to worry about it too much right now.

I've laid out my weekly target mileages for the next several weeks leading up the Bear. Including this week in progress, the mileages look like this.... 70, 70, 80, 80, 100, 80, 40, 10, Race. Right now I seem to be able to handle the 70 mile weeks okay so 80 should be an easy transition. A hundred mile week is just tough period. I plan on over 300 miles for August and it should be easy to get there with this plan.

Back to my original premise though, I have been enjoying the freedom of my runs this week and figuring them out as I go... It is fun to "not know" what course I am going to run some days but instead of just picking, allowing the course to reveal itself to me. For example, I wanted to do two runs on Tuesday and get about 15 miles. I wanted to do two runs. Some trails, some flat. So Tuesday morning, super early I went and did the incline (35:03) then ran up and over Rocky Mt. and then on down Longs Ranch Road and back to Manitou via Ute Pass Trail. It was just a fun run partially ran under the light of my headlamp, and it was so QUIET that early. Add the extra bonus of a nice comfortable cool temp and it was nearly the perfect run.

I'll do a few easy tonight... 20 fast tomorrow morning super early and then I get to have a fun run with my cousin John on Sunday. I will be over my goal mileage for this week. Cool.

I still can't believe it is August...

Monday, August 1, 2011

And There Goes July

Wow... I can not believe that July is already over. This year is flying by. July was a big month. We went camping. Melissa and I were engaged on July 1st. My parents came out for a visit and I ran the Silver Rush 50. Asia has been going to puppy school still, Melissa had a yard sale and that was a huge success. We have also had the chance to actually get out and do things the past two weekends and have some fun.

Work, that's another issue. Strong suspicion that the unions will strike back east this weekend and that will force my team to go to a 6x12 schedule for the duration of the strike. If that happens my training for the BEAR 100 is at risk, pacing my cousin John could be at risk, archery elk season could not happen and also even going to run the Bear 100 the last weekend of September. Not to mention that working 12 hours days is just fucking hard... 12 hours of work then you have about four hours for personal time then sleep for eight, repeat. It is bad enough on a rotating three on, four off, four on, three off schedule, but six days straight is going to be brutal. Bonus... they haven't mentioned it yet but they could even throw us on shifts... I am still in denial and keeping my head in the sand about this one and just hoping the strike does not happen.

Had a good week running last week. Wednesday was my first really good run after the Silver Rush 50. I did 70.33 miles last week and my total of miles for July was 216. Considering days lost to being sick and some weather I will take it. 200 - 250 was my goal for July so I am happy. 1722 for the year total so far. I will have some more big months but I am going to hit my goal of 2500 for the year easily and might even get closer to 3000.

Going to try to do another 70+ week this week. It might be hard to squeeze in but I will get it done. Soon I will be doing 80+ and more hopefully!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mt. Herman

Ended up running up and around Mount Herman last night. Not sure exactly why. Maybe it was because I was wanting to feel something old but somewhat familiar under my feet. It has been well over a decade since I have gone up there and ran. I used to run up there a lot when I lived up there and always enjoyed the less than crowded trails up in that area.

Maybe I decided to drive all the way up there yesterday because maybe I have just had enough of everything and I am just done. Walking into work yesterday afternoon the big screens in the lobby were blaring some news channel like always and the topic was the U.S. debt limit/crisis. I think that is what initially caused me to snap. I looked at the security guard and just said that maybe someday, the news will be predominantly good again. One can only wish.

Words and phases that I am utterly sick of... Oil prices, gas prices, house values, unemployment, debt limit, Iraq, Afghanistan, inflation, slow recovery... I am sure there are a few more than that but these seem to be the major ones that hit us every day in the news, and none of it is getting better. On a more micro sense, strike, rif, reorg, and my current favorite, "two days a week."

Maybe then it was just out of nostalgic reasons I traveled last night to run the old trails that I used to haunt. As I ascended the trail I marveled at the views while reflecting on just how different things are now compared to then, then being 1999. I miss 1999.

1999... pre 911... pre Bush-Cheney, pre ENRON and a whole lot of other messes. If there were ever a time in my adult life when the future looked so bright and full of possibilities it was then. The economy was chugging right along, we weren't at war, and you could still get a return on your investments be it in stocks, bonds or property.

Annie was five and just starting school then and it amazes me that she is going to be a senior this fall. That happened way too quickly. I can only imagine how bleak the world looks to kids her age now with the limited prospects out there waiting for them, regardless if they go to college or not.

Sure, I recognize that life wasn't perfect then but my god it did seem to be a more simple existence. I had way less weight on my shoulders or at least the weight didn't feel as heavy as it does now. Even so, then.. life was more equitable I think and everyone pulled their HALF instead of having to constantly be carried or supported or bailed out. It was easy to trust.

Maybe that is just the way that life goes. At some point we hit our apogee and that's that. I understand how the Peter Principle applies professionally but I never considered the fact that is applied just regular old life itself also.

And I will be honest... call it a mid life crisis or whatever but being 43 is no picnic. I don't fear losing my job so much because jobs are scarce and it would be hard to find another one. NO. I fear losing my job because jobs are scarce and it would be hard to find another one AND even more difficult since I am older. It is a hard feeling to describe but I feel myself becoming more insignificant and less relevant in and to the world as I keep getting older. That sucks.

So I ran the trails of my past remembering the better times and tried to enjoy the run the best I could. The scary thing about looking back and realizing that I was, is realizing the possibility that in ten years or so from now, looking back on this point of time as a time of prosperity and opportunity, that this time is in fact good. Mom always told me that life doesn't get any easier, so looking forward I just don't have the hope of things getting better anymore.

I miss 1999 and would go back in a sec... If for nothing else just to feel optimistic for a change.

On the bright-side though, I don't think that I ever ran faster up there than I did last night.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Playtime is Over

I've had a relaxing and very low mileage week post Silver Rush 50. After four continuous months of being in train, taper, race, recover, train, taper, race, recover... mode, I was ready for a break and do some other things.

I ran the Classic 10K on Saturday and that was fun in different kind of way. My time was 44:32 and I was 11th in my age group. I am so not a road runner but this was still fun to go that fast and be done in less than an hour.

Now for this week, it's back to work. I need to log some miles this week to bring my July total mileage up to something somewhat respectable. Then August is going to be a huge month for me 300+ miles for certain. I only have about eight and half weeks until the BEAR 100. So I need to get with it now and get the mileage and training volume up for the next five weeks at least.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Leadville Silver Rush 50

Some races go great, some go badly and then others turn out okay or just good. My run in the Leadville Silver Rush 50 counts as as just a good one... not great but good.

Neat points about this race and weekend. My parents were able to be there and I got to visit with my cousin John who was up in Pb training and I also got to visit with my friends Bob and Tobi. So the day before the race was a lot of fun getting to visit and socialize with everyone. Also, Saturday was when my parents found out that Melissa and I are engaged and have been since the first of July... we wanted to wait until they were out to tell them in person. It was hilarious seeing mom's reaction when she finally noticed the ring on Melissa's hand at dinner.

Synopsis of this race... it is all ran between 10K and 12k on the east side of 24 in the old mining district mostly on Jeep trails and very little single track. This course crests over 12k four times. Say what you might about other courses but I think this is probably the most beautiful course (similar to the Leadville Marathon) in the state. From certain vantage points on this course you can see nearly all of the Leadville 100 course from town, around Turquoise Lake all the way down range to Hope Pass. It is breathtaking (in more ways than one.)

I had high expectations for this race. I was shooting for sub 10 and I will just say now that did not happen. I came in at 10:17:37.

However, I did do great the first 35 miles or so. I had my splits computed and I was making them. Actually I felt great most of the day. I made it to the Stumptown turnaround a few minutes off but still way within range and then the next 12 miles back to Printer Boy Aid Station went well too. As a matter of fact I was right on time getting here. I left Printer Boy with 3 hours to do what I did in 2.5 hours earlier in the day, but that didn't happen.

The last big climb up and over 12K sort of did me in I guess. That and it got hot. It took me a full hour to do that climb with the last mile taking quite some time. The next stretch back to Leadville after that is very runnable but as I ran lower in elevation, while there was more air, it was also getting hotter and I was just done. I could not get my legs to turn over at all. I could literally feel myself slowing down as the minutes ticked by. I hit the ten hour mark with about 1.5 miles left and I just had to let it go and focus on finishing.

But that is what this ultra game is about. You never know what is going to happen, good or bad. I was having a great race yesterday until I wasn't. I don't think that I can classify this as a blow up though as things didn't get THAT bad. I just slowed down a whole lot.

As far as root cause for yesterday's (mediocre?) performance? Eh, I could point out a ton of reasons and circumstances since San Juan that may have contributed. Everything from work stress, to being sick, to just life in general. A lot of things happened in this last cycle between the two races. But that is life and you can't do anything about that.

And really... I had a good day, more things went right than not. My time is still an improvement of 56 minutes from two years ago. I can't bitch about that. I am still working on getting better and faster and stronger. It is all good.

I feel good today considering it is the day after. I had a good run, my parents had quite the show as they had never seen an Ultra event before. I got to run through some of the most gorgeous country in the world. I have no right to complain. LOL!

Next race is the Bear in Sept. Pacing my cousin John in five weeks in the LT100. Lots of great things on the horizon. I am excited and looking forward to going back to Leadville next month and running from Windfield back to the finish. THAT will be the best run of the year and it has nothing to do with me, that's the cool part. I can't wait.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Up Again

I'm back or so it seems and feeling so much better. Still no clue as what the root cause was this week but I am seriously starting to suspect total electrolyte depletion from the hot run on Wednesday. I only say that as I didn't start to really come around until I started on a cycle of Salt Stick Caps yesterday taking two caps every hour or two or so. That seemed to help a lot. Still a touch bloated this morning but nothing hurt.

Well, nothing hurt except my left knee which I just attribute to the pounding it took on Wednesday. Hurt is an overstatement though, let's just say I am aware that it is there but not overly concerned as I am sure after taking off tomorrow I will be fine by Sunday morning.

Ran five miles this afternoon but took it easy and slow. It wasn't an impressive run by any stretch but It let me know that I am going to be okay and that a day or two of rest now won't hurt me.

I have had a great day off. My bags and gear for the race are packed. I was able to have a nice phone chat with my cousin John and all around just enjoy a low stress day. Looking forward to the weekend now. I will be stopping at Pancho's on the way to the race... Gotta have my mondo-combo burrito! :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Cause as the Cure

Just did a three mile run. It hurt. Really now for the past week or so all that I can remember is pain associated with all of my runs. I haven't had a decent run since we got back from camping it seems like. Lots of pain, discomfort and tiredness.

I've been down the past few days, no doubt. We have had mandatory meetings at the office with executives who have flown in from god knows where. I have been working for the same manager now for three years and I could not pick him out of a line up if my freaking life depended on it. Why don't we start there... let me meet with a manager (leader) who actually might understand what is going on in my life work-wise and who might really get it? Anyway... a totally demoralizing and soul raping couple of days in the office this week.

So yesterday due to social obligations, other stuff and work I had to really hustle to get a run in. So I decided to run while I was at the office. Long story short, five miles through the Garden and fast at that. Oh yeah, it was hot as fuck too. Back to the office, quick shower, change then I sat in a hardback chair for 1.5 hours while receiving a sunshine enema.... I think that this was my downfall, the sitting for so long... everything,muscles, tendons, everything started to seize up.

And when I say everything I mean everything. Wrists, shoulders, BACK, legs, ankles, knees, hips, quads, EVERYTHING hurt. To put things into perspective, the last time I felt this badly was right after the Leadville 100 last year. All except for the torn up feet it was all the same, the pain, the inability to move, no comfortable position to lie down... Identical. Great Pain.

I slept fitfully last night. Up and down... could not lay on my right side as that old injury in my shoulder was screaming at me. Up and down and back to sleep again trying to find the right position.

This morning when I got up I felt 300% better. Don't get excited as everything still hurt but at least now I could walk. Things have slowly gotten better through the day due to copious amounts of water and ibuprofen and just sitting and working.

But then something happened today and made me think that maybe I am still carrying that bug from last week. I was sitting here working this afternoon and I completely sweated through my t-shirt. I mean like a heat flash I guess... What the hell caused THAT?

Thank god I am burning tomorrow as a vacation day... I need it.

Anyway... I have to do some work tonight. Stressful. I could not sit around the house anymore so I decided to gamble. I could walk easy enough. My left knee still hurts and my shoulders are KILLING me as are my wrists but everything else is relatively pain free now. So... I decided to risk it and see how I would do on a short three mile EASY run.

Well when I got back I actually felt a little better. My fingers are more flexible now and my wrists did not hurt nearly as much. Hips and knees still hurt a little, as well as my ankles I just realized but NOTHING compared to yesterday.

I can't wait till this race is over this week... Lot's of pressure around this one. My parents have flown out and the last time they came out to see me do a race was the 2003 Pikes Peak Marathon and that is and was probably the biggest blowup and failure in a race for me to date. ITB flare up on the down trip caused me to walk 90% of the way down. I came in just under eight hours... pathetic. I hope to give them a better show this weekend in Leadville on the 50.

But past that I think that I am suffering from the lower miles that I have been doing. The mode of race week, recovery week, training week, training week, taper, race week, has really worn me down the past few months. I haven't gotten any better it feels like. Anyway, I think that I need to get my mileage back up to around 70mpw or more to be more in my zone.

Maybe I am just getting too old for this shit.

Anyway, I still pulled three miles tonight... Going to rest and hope for a better next few days, a good race and so on.

As a side note, Melissa has started blog written from more of a crew/support perspective in regards to ultras' and I must say it is a crack up. Please visit (and follow) her blog here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Good Weekend

Had a good weekend this weekend. First of all had a blast keeping tabs on the Hardrock 100 race. I can't tell you the last time I watched a televised sporting event but wow... During Hardrock I was hitting the refresh button constantly on the Live Update page like a lab monkey hitting the lever to get another rock of crack.

Had a decent 3-2 run on the summit of the peak this weekend. Ran out of time so didn't get the "1" in. Still some good time spend at high altitude. Actually this is the first that I have been above 12.5K I bet all year and I was pleasantly surprised at how well I managed. Annie went up too and had a nice hike down 1.5 and back up. She is and has always been such a STRONG hiker.

Sunday I ran the Section 16, Palmer Loop in an hour and 16 seconds. I think that is a new PR for me on that stretch. I ran on Sunday afternoon after the storms had passed. One thing that I love about Colorado, or at least Colorado Springs trails in the summers... After a good rainstorm or just after, you are always almost guaranteed to have just about any trail to yourself as nobody else will be out. Love it!

Hoping to make this a short work week. I am still burning my carryover from last year and I want to take Friday off just to hang out. Saturday we will head up to Leadville for the Silver Rush 50 and I am really excited about that. My parents are flying into Denver on Thursday and are going to go up to Leadville this weekend for the race and that will be fun as they have never been to Leadville before.

Jury is still out on the Garmin. I had planned yesterday's run to fully check it out but the battery died n the way to the trail. My fault I need to charge it more I guess. I am so used to having the 205 just sit in the cradle and the 310 works differently so I need to charge it more. It did pretty good on Saturday up on the peak so I am optimistic now.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Was THAT?

This has been a strange week and I haven't been feeling well for most of it. Of course all of this I was not able to piece together until today or so.

On Tuesday I ran five miles and suffered every inch of every mile. Hell, I even stopped a few times as I just could not go. I was feeling extreme soreness in my legs which didn't make any sense seeing that my long weekend runs were days behind me and otherwise I should have been feeling better but they just felt dead. Motivation for the run was hovering around zero as well. Tuesday night I slept fitfully and did not get much rest. Wednesday morning I did not want to get out of bed.

Somehow, looking back it is all a fog now, I was able to get through yesterday with work and all and take Asia to puppy school. I still was not feeling great but muddling through. Once we returned from class I started to feel cold and achy all over. The symptoms that had been stealthily creeping up on me for three days finally ambushed me full force with a fever, chills and aches all over.

Sixteen hours of sleep later and taking it easy and I feel much, much better. I have zero clue what it was but it cost me two days of running. One day of work, and really the quality of life this week sorta sucked as I was slowly becoming ill. Regardless it feels so much better to be on the other side.

Hardrock... yeah. I just looked at the weather forecast for Silverton and Telluride for this weekend and from the looks of it this race may just be a wet one. Next year... next year. I still feel good about my decision. I doubt if I could have gotten in but it is the HR100... not the HR50. I still stand by what I told another friend today and that is that you don't mess around with 100 miles. You better be in shape (and I really think that I am) but you gotta be 100 % sure you can do it, you have to have a crew that you can also rely on 100% and they have to know their stuff 100% too. In otherwords, you can't fake it. I know that, and to go down there with a half assed plan would just be inviting disaster for me. Regardless I am excited to see how all of the runners do this weekend and read the race reports from the weekend. I wish everyone a fun and safe race.

As for me... I have to get over this crud. I am still not 100% happy with my Garmin 310xt yet and need to test it out some more. I've talked to Garmin and they are willing to replace it and that is good. Hoping to spend some time this weekend at very high altitude and just taking it easy getting ready for the next race.

All I know is that after feeling cruddy for a few days it is so nice to be feeling better in comparison!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

June and Everything After

June is done... Miles for June, 250.59. Not too bad. July is already off to a great start after being able to spend a few days in the high country training and relaxing.

As of the time of this writing, I am #13 on the HR100 wait list and after great consideration I have decided to not go down to Silverton this week to wait and see if I can get in. After running up in the mountains and the conditions that I encountered the past several days I will just say that yes, I am disappointed that I did not get into Hardrock this year but I am glad that I am NOT running it this year due to the conditions. After seeing recent course photos I will just stay at home and keep my focus on the more important and immediate goals.

1. Sub ten in the Pb Silver Rush 50.
2. Pace LT100.
3. Run the Bear in Sept.
4. Take a step back and set myself up for a good year training for the big buckle
in Leadville for August 2012.

There are other goals mixed in there but those are the high points.

Much more to report from the past few days but for now I'll call this the June update and recap.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer

Summer is finally here it seems. Melissa and I went to Manitou last night to walk around and play some skeeball and we could not believe just how hot it was for that late in the evening. Summer is definitely here.

Had a rough recovery week last week after the San Juan Solstice. Mentally I was doing well but my legs felt beat up all week and overall I just felt very tired most of the time. I slept like the dead every night it seems. Had some good runs this weekend so I am glad to report that I am bouncing back.

Nothing new to report regarding Hardrock. I did dream the other night that I got in and I could see my name on the roster in my dream. The whole situation is sort of scary. Brooks and I ran up to Barr Camp yesterday and we were talking to Neil and he told us about the time that he ran it and found out just minutes before the start that he was in... I'd be a wreck waiting down to the wire like that, but it could happen.

Reading a really cool book right now... On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony. Actually I read it years ago when I was Germany but I am going to read the entire series over again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

18, maybe...

Unofficially that is... I heard a report from a little birdie regarding a HR100 runner who got injured in Bighorn this weekend... so I should be moving up at least one slot when the new list comes up from 19 to at least 18 on the wait list. We will just have to wait and see what happens here.

Recovery is going well this week. Already scheming for the Silver Rush 50 and to be honest focusing on it rather than my chances of getting into Hardrock or not. Planning on having a great run that weekend in Leadville.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Yurt

The San Juan Solstice 50 mile run was this past weekend in Lake City, Colorado. This race had been my primary focus most of this year. I really wanted to go down there and turn out a good time. Yes there are more races on the calendar for this year but this was the one that was to define the year for me.

Before even getting to Lake City things were in flux. Lots of snow still hanging in the high country and on the Continental Divide made a very significant stretch of the course un-runnable therefore forcing the race director to alter the course. So the course that I wanted to PR on we were not running anymore. Needless to say I was frustrated by that but after a night of recomputing splits, etc, I felt like it was still going to a good run and decided to still give it all that I had.

Race day morning I was exceptionally calm. Almost too calm I felt. No jitters, no real fear, just calm and not feeling a whole lot one way or the other. Maybe looking back it was more like a calm ambivalence... In retrospect, this should have been a warning yet I had no comprehension of what it may have foretold.

The race starts and we start off and running fast. We climb the climb up Waterdog Trail on Vicker's Ranch just as fast it seems, maybe too fast, but everything is going really well. I am still not "excited" but everything is in perspective. I topped out on Vicker's Ranch at about 1:30:00 and felt pretty confident that is was exactly the pace I needed and things were going quite well but this would the last optimistic thought pretty much for the next 24 miles unfortunately.

A whole herd of us started down though the meadow running. I saw another COS runner way off in the distance and was surprised that he was even still in sight. Everyone picked up speed going through the meadow and down we went... then I realized that I wasn't seeing any more trail markers, then everyone else realized it too. There were about ten people in front of me and about twice as many behind me. Well we had all zigged right, when we should have zagged left and the end result was that everyone ran about a half of a mile off the course. Everyone executed an about face and we were quickly back to the main meadow and on the right path, but by accident now, another mile was added to the day. Hawaiian Shirt Ray and I bombed down the meadow passing many, many, many runners the next five miles to the first aid station with crew access at mile 11.

The next section consisted of a loop that basically went up a mountain, and I mean up, and then back down in 11 miles. Long story short, the climb was STEEP. Stupid steep. I am still fuming over the inadvertent detour of the morning and the precious time that it cost me. But really, the worse part was that I just didn't care anymore. I didn't want to run, I didn't want to race, I didn't even want to be in Lake City. I wanted to quit so bad. That calm ambivalence from early in the morning had turned into pure apathy if not straight up loathing for anything involving running, racing, trails, mountains, etc... I had quit and my heart which felt completely broken was just no longer in it. Meltdown.

Unfortunately, or fortunately during most ultra events one can not just stop and walk off of the course. As I was standing on top of a 11,700 foot peak and debating other options for my life I still had six miles or so of "down" to get to the next aid station and officially drop so on I went heading towards mile 22 and my first voluntary DNF in a 50 mile race. At that point I really didn't give a crap.

I rolled into the aid station and told Melissa that I was done and she in turn informed me that no I was not and that my times were good and for me to keep going. She walked with me up the road a stretch and I promised her that I would see her at mile 40 and that I wouldn't drop before then. Of course dropping anywhere in between was not an option either... Regardless I was committed to another 18 miles.

I don't like running on dirt roads for the most part, at least not long straight stretches and I really don't like running into a headwind ever but that is what the next seven miles consisted of. More non-fun for me! Yay! Not! At one point I heaved my water bottles out of boredom and frustration, just something to break up the monotony of that damned road. My friend Sharon had driven past as she was going to meet her husband at the next stop and seeing her drive by sorta picked up my spirits some as it made me feel less alone.

Finally I made it to the trail which would lead us back up to the Continental Divide. A cool thing happened here... Scott Jurek and Dakota Jones were hanging out at the aid station and Scott Jurek actually said "good job" to me. Of course I didn't think so but it sure was nice to hear. The aid station volunteer filled my handhelds and I drank probably three styrofoam cups of Mtn Dew beforre heading on up the trail on what was gong to be the biggest climb of the day up to the divide and Yurt aid station. I just had to make it to the Yurt after that I would have no reason, excuse, or whatnot to drop...

The trail after leaving the aid station was amazing. It was all in timber and on a nice cool north facing slope. I thought quietly to myself that "I am now in my element," as I started to really move up the mountain. And move I did... I started running faster and overall I was just feeling better. The funny thing is that as badly as I felt all morning, I was ahead of my projected split time at mile 31. The problem though was that splits were matching the miles but not the landmarks on the course. (Due to the rerouting) As badly as I had been feeling, I had still been holding my own for the first 31 miles. Okay, so maybe things were not a horrible as I thought.

This is where the magic starts... I see movement ahead of me. There is a runner... I haven't seen anyone for a long time and figure I must really be in the back of the pack... but there is a runner ahead of me. I focus... I gain, I pass. One! I am excited now... I passed someone. A few minutes later I see more movement in the timber up ahead... I focus, I gain, I pass... Two! The steepest and nastiest climb in the course, over two thirds the way through a fifty miler on the way to the Yurt and I start passing people! Awesome...

As quickly as it felt the entire race had gone down the drain earlier that morning, I realized on my way to the Yurt that it no longer was. I was back and proof of that was the 19 people that I passed on that climb. I was no longer lumbering, or struggling with one foot in front of the other in survival mode anymore... no. I was alive, and I was racing now. I was moving.

I ran a blistering pace across the Divide to the mile 40 aid station passing even more runners... 12 more to be exact since the previous 19. I had gained serious ground. I bombed into the aid station quickly shedding my bottles on the ground and I could tell that Melissa had realized that I am not stopping for anything. She tosses me two new handhelds and then my baggie with gels and saltstick caps which I catch out of mid-air, one-handed and I am gone... Two runners that I had passed and know were behind me and I did NOT want them gaining ground.

Ten miles to go and it is not an easy ten miles... One steep 1700 foot vertical climb which takes you up and over 11,000 feet in elevation then a long five miles back into town... The distance is right but it always just seems so much longer. I climbed Vicker's Hill in 48 minutes, six minutes faster than last year and nobody passed me... but I passed a few on the way up myself. The run down off of the ranch and back into town brought more runners for me to pass which I did. One kid right before town caught up with me though and try as I might I could not hold him off so he did pass me. Regardless it was such a great feeling to have my downhill running to be so solid so late in a race, and especially in this one.

As always though I was so glad to hit the smooth roads of Lake City for the last mile or so to the finish. I passed two more runners the last mile bringing my total for the last 20 miles to 39 passed, and only passed by one. I crossed the finish line in 12:31 which I was so happy with. It had been a tough day. I gutted through a lot of self doubt, disillusionment, discouragement, and all sorts of other mental anguish and yet I was able to still "be there" when things started clicking again and take full advantage of the situation and run harder than I may have ever run in race like this. Because of that I have nothing but good feelings and am very happy with the way things turned out.

I learned a lot in this race. One thing being that I can feel completely like crap, yet still be doing what I need to be doing. Another is that even though I have a strong fueling and hydration strategy in my races which works great, I might want to start having some more "simple sugar" types of snacks and treats around for when my mood falters. This race also reinforced in me that 50 miles is a long damned distance and a lot can happen over that span of miles. Never take for granted where you and how you feel, good or bad, because things can always change one way or the other and then just as easily change again. Be prepared for that but most importantly... just don't quit!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Official Course Change










Compare and contrast... we are running the alternate course in Lake City now (elevation profile on the left)... Not as much time at high altitude but they added another nasty climb. Maybe this one should be called Jemez II.

Kinda takes the excitement out of this weekend for me. Tempted to either bail and not go or go and be more than ready to drop/DNF when I feel like it. Crappy attitude I know, but if you have had the week (past two days like I have) you would understand.

On a good note, as of today I am at what I consider optimum racing weight of 140.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nothing But Questions

I've been sorta quiet the past few weeks, I know. Mostly just getting ready for the San Juan Solstice and focusing on that. As of today, just a few days before the race things are looking sort of complicated and if not complicated, then just plain "unknown" in regards to the next few weeks of life.

Heavy snow in the San Juan Mountains may force the Solstice course to be altered. While I don't want to run in extremely nasty conditions and deep snow up on the divide, this is disappointing to me as I have been planning to run the traditional course all these months. Even if we do run the traditional course, chances are the race will be more "wet" than it has been in the past few years.

The one upside is that the weather forecast for Lake City for this weekend is favorable for good day of running.

Hardrock... I'm #19 now... up two slots from before. It is too soon to start planning time off around the 8th of July yet but I am starting to become concerned about being selected or not. So while not as imminent as the San Juan Solstice questions and concerns... this one is still lingering out there as well.

Also, if I do run HR100 (which I know is very doubtful) then I definitely will not be running the Leadville Silver Rush 50 miler July 17. I do know that much.

Speaking of my favorite town in the high country... I just came back from six days up there and had a great time. I completely loved the silence the clear air, well as long as it wasn't smoky from the forest fires in NM and AZ. I had some good runs up there and felt pretty good overall. I can not believe how much snow is up there yet but it seems to be melting rather quickly. I did find a very, very cool trail behind the fish hatchery leading back into the wilderness area that will require more investigation when things warm up more and there is less run off.

I am still on to pace my cousin John in the LT100 and I am completely excited about that. Running the other night I was thinking about it and one of the coolest things about being a pacer is that I don't have to run down the south side of Hope Pass! :) That hill kills me!

Nothing else to really report... I am glad that summer is here and that I have been able to take a day off here and there from work and enjoy the weather and stuff. I am learning that I need to do that more often.

Everyone have a great week and I will be sure to write before SJS50 if anything earth shattering arises and if not then, I will be writing the race write up afterwards for certain.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

No More Snow @ Slum!

To all of my SJS 50 friends... the snow is now gone at Slumgullion Pass. Now let's just hope that the divide clears and the runoff in the creek crossings up Alpine Gulch isn't too epic.

Slumgullion Snow Guage Link

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rough Weekend Ahead

It will prove tough to navigate this weekend. I am on call tonight until tomorrow morning at 10:00 am then Asia has puppy school at 1:00 in the afternoon. After that I have to squeeze in a 20 mile run somehow.

Of course it will be warm once I get to finally take off to run tomorrow so to be perfectly honest a long 20 miler, in the heat, after probably not sleeping much Friday night after nearly a full day of other stuff just seems a bit too much right now.

There is a possible silver lining though... one of my friends wants to do a long run tomorrow too and if his schedule lines up with mine at least I might not have to run solo.

Heading up to Leadville in five days. I am going to be busy working and dog/house sitting but I am so looking forward to being up there and hanging out at high altitude. I won't do any big runs up there cause I will be in taper mode but still it will be fun. I do love it up there.

Just gotta get through the next couple of days! I will.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June... Already???

I can't believe that it is June already. This time in just two weeks I will be packing things up and getting ready to head to Lake City for the San Juan Solstice. It is funny how I typically view The SJS 50 as an early season race but after running Desert Rats and Jemez, SJS feels more like a mid to late summer race rather than early.

Closed out May with a total of 208 miles. I pulled way back, taking a lot more rest days while really focusing on quality the days that I did run which I think has made a difference. I am showing some signs of actually becoming faster. First sub thirty minutes ascent of the Incline in May... ran a 6:12 mile... and let's not forget having a great run at Jemez. I am happy with May.

In the "Be careful for what you wish for," department... I am now up to #21 on the Hardrock 100 wait list. There are mixed thoughts at this point on if I will get in or not. Some think yes, some think maybe and some firmly say no. Me... I'm not so sure. I know that I don't want to get so far down on the wait list that it would be stupid of me to NOT go to Silverton but make the trip then not get in. At the same time I'm not up for the going down there and playing the waiting game till the morning of the race either. It is fair to say and most agree that if I end up in the #10 slot or below that I will be going there for the start.

As of last week basically I was sitting at 29 I think and I did some math where I was guessing that maybe 20% of those on the run roster would not run for various reasons, injuries, illness, family emergencies, etc... that cleared like 28 out of the roster leaving only 112 runners... THEN I figured the same amount drops out of the wait list... 20%... which removes 6 runners and leaves only 23... I figure many on the wait list will not have planned to go, either travel, time, or money and won't make it, they can be injured, sick and or just not able to go for other reasons as well.

Regardless... Using that math, with me previously at 29 slides up to at least 23 which puts me right in there and possibly a few others behind me... Wonky math, based on guesswork as opposed to hard stats but I think it is still sorta reasonable. My overall guess is that I could get in as well as two to three other runners behind me. We will just have to wait and see. It definitely adds and element of suspense to the summer.

But I am not going to allow myself to be distracted by Hardrock at this time. The San Juan Solstice has been the focus all along this year and I am going to keep it in focus still. If I let myself get distracted by Hardrock prematurely, that distraction could easily derail my plans for both SJS and Hardrock if I were to actually get in.

I am looking forward to my trip to Leadville next week and staying up high the last few days before San Juan. I am certain that is going to help!

Monday, May 30, 2011

San Juan Solstice, Snowpack, and Stuff.

There is still a possibility that the San Juan Solstice will not be ran on the classic course due to way too much snow in the back country yet.

I've been following the snow depths at Slumgullion and the snow IS melting and should all be gone by race day. Of course that is a bit lower than up on the Divide so who knows how much snow would still be up there.

The current snow depths can be found here.

Snotel Report


There is good news though... All of this ridiculous wind may help and do some good after all. Massive amounts of dust from AZ have been blown into the high country the past couple of days with all of the high winds out of the south. This will help to accelerate the melting and subsequent run off now. An article about the dust is here.

My prediction is that the race will be run on the normal course... BUT the creek crossings in Alpine Gulch are going to be super cold, fast and ugly with the water running at peak run off levels. Just a guess but that is what I am predicting.

Everyone have a nice Memorial Day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Recovering

Had my first post Jemez run tonight. Short, three miles, sorta fast (for me) and I felt okay. I actually felt better running than I have felt just sitting around the past couple of days. I am pretty optimistic about my recovery and the fact that while some things hurt, that no insidious injuries will be popping up from my little trip to New Mexico.

Had a great dinner tonight with friends. It's the first time I have entertained and cooked in ages. It was a lot of fun. Can't wait to do it again. Melissa is gone and in Hawaii and felt weird not having her here tonight. Really missing her today as well.

Less than a month until San Juan. Well... if they have the race as snow is a concern at this time. Here is the story about the snow pack. Right now looks like 33" of the white stuff hanging on still at Slumgullion. God only knows what it is up on the Divide!

I am optimistic that things are are going to go as planned. I predict the snow will melt and the course will be mostly clear, but I venture to say the creek crossings with the run off are going to be Class V +. :)

Think I need to take tomorrow off from work... not sure if I will or not but I'll figure that out between now and then.

Have a good night!

Monday, May 23, 2011

You Want Me to Run Down THAT? RUFKM? / Jemez Race Report

I ran the Jemez 50 mile race this past weekend. Tough, tough course. The trails either seemed to go straight the hell up a mountain, or straight the hell down and steep as crap in both directions. The best word that I can use to describe the course is relentless... it never lets up. Also as I was contemplating my situation during the 50 miles it seemed to me that if one has any weaknesses, Jemez will pull them out of you and beat you severely over the head with them. And... if you have any strengths, it won't matter, this course will crush those too. Okay maybe it wasn't all that bad but it is a course that will challenge anyone and demand the respect that it so well deserves.

The race started at five a.m and never before have I began a race with so much "crap" on the brain. The week before had been tough with work and other things so I really felt tired even before we started. The first couple of miles or so were downhill, in the dark and through what I can only guess by smell was a very large stockyard. Soon there was light and soon we were climbing.

And climbing.

Oh, and we climbed some more.

Through burn areas and through the woods. Up and then down steep technical trails. All I can say is that for the first 17 miles and until that first full Aid Station at Pipeline Road, I just felt like I was the victim of a cruel joke withstanding the abuse of the trail. Then came a descent that about made me stop the race then and there and never want to run on trail again for the rest of my life. It was so steep that I had to grab tree branches as I went down to prevent me from careening out of control to my death.

Oh... then we got to run up some more.

Seriously, I struggled the first 32 miles or so. Took a big header going into the 29 mile aid station in front of god and everyone. Fortunately I did not get too hurt and bled only a little. It could have been a lot worse. One of the aid station guys wanted to know if I wanted anyone to clean the wound or look at it... I told him it seemed like it would stop bleeding and that I had work to do and that I would wait to cry over it back at the hotel. I smiled, he laughed and then I was out of there.

Even though I struggled for nearly 2/3rds of the run, I was somehow making my split times while also staying pretty much in the same part of the pack as I had been. I was not losing ground.

At the Townsite aid station, I had two cokes, a piece of a sandwich and chatted with a volunteer before taking off and heading up again. But now I am not struggling so badly. I am feeling pretty good. Starting to catch and pass a few people. I was up and down again to the ski lodge before I even knew it.

The next 14 miles or so were just perfect. I left the ski lodge feeling great. I knew that I still had plenty left to burn and that I had run smart (though it didn't feel good) the first 30 miles or so. Now it was time to really get to work.

I started passing people as soon as I left the lodge and the whole way to the 2nd Pipeline Road Aid Station. Nobody passed me at all the last 14 miles. After that I think that I only got faster. Leaving the aid station there were two people a few hundred yards ahead going up a hill. It took some time but I passed them. I actually passed a lot of people. One guy at about mile 46 I had to actually run down... he knew that I was closing in and he sped up. Now it was my turn to be relentless and I just hounded him till he gave up and went wide on a turn allowing me to pass. A few more people were passed the rest of the way in.

This might not be my best 50 mile time but I have never run a 50 miler any better than this one. I did not fade, burn out, blowup or anything the last ten miles or so. My best case goal time was 12:22 and I feel great about the 12:54 that I ended up with. I could have shaved more time off by spending less time at the aid stops but dealing with drop bags and stuff at this point that was unavoidable for this race. In my post-mortem list of things that could have been done "better" not much was avoidable.

All in all, a very tough race that kicked my ass almost every inch of the course but at the same time, maybe my best run 50 ever. Now to focus on San Juan for the next few weeks. Judging how things went in Jemez, I think that I stand a chance to get the finish that I want in San Juan and that is going to be great.

Friday, April 29, 2011

April 310 Miles

Taking a break from running tomorrow, the last day of the month since I have to work and am oncall. Total miles for April, 310.89. Did a major 30 miler today instead of running multiple days and that really bumped it up.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Journey to Ixtlan

I'm re-reading Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda for the umpteenth time and I found a new line in it that I got a kick out of.

Don Juan Matus speaking to a younger Carlos...

"I am as young as I want to be... If you dissipate all of your personal power you'll be a fat old man in no time at all."

Love it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Anatomy of a Blowup

I still haven't decided if I am going to qualify the running portion of my trip to Fruita a success or not. Getting to re-meet my cousin was definitely a win and nothing from the weekend can overshadow that. But... I did not walk away with the sense of confidence that I was hoping to get out of this race. My goal (realistic or not) was to come in under ten hours... my official time however was 10:36 and change. I was hoping this race would give me a good sense of if I can pull off what I want to do in Lake City come June. I am still uncertain.

Many, many things went well... and really not too many things went badly except for the epic slowdown which started at mile 40 and basically cratered me from mile 45 until the finish. The last climb (which I HAD been warned about) and the subsequent steep technical downhill (also warned about), coupled with the afternoon heat just did me in. Analyzing my times, etc, the last 11% of the distance ended up taking approximately 17% of my time on the course. Crazy. I don't do well in heat... that is common knowledge. And when I get tired, I can't run downhill to save my life, especially anything steep or technical, again common knowledge. This past Saturday afternoon I was slapped in the face with both of those at the end and by a big ol' pimp hand to boot.

I also think that I need to fess up and just admit to myself and to the world that I went out way too fast. I ran a great 25 mile race (4:25) but I should have rationed my "effort" through the entire course. But who knows... It is a toss up I think trying to figure out the break even point from where my conserved energy, if I had gone more slowly, would have still been affected by the heat which was sure to cause me to slow down at some point regardless.

Things that went well... there were so many things that worked! 1. Started in the short sleeved t-shirt and was a little "cool" to start but that wasn't a bad thing. 2. Kept lots of ice in the hand held bottles (thanks to Hawaiian Shirt Ray and his sister Laura). 3. Adequate amounts of sunblock so I did not get burned. 4. My shoes and socks rocked! My feet felt tired after the race and a little tender from abrasion on the soles but no blisters or any other foot issues. 4. No injuries. I did roll my ankle once but that was it. I did not go down. 5. Fueling/hydration and electrolyte protocol worked as fine as ever. I did have to drink more than usual but that was easy to do. 6. It is Tuesday after the race and I still feel "tired" but I do not feel physically beat up. I bounced back pretty quickly afterward so that in and of itself I think lends credence to the training and miles that I have put in the past few months. 7. What wind there was on the course was a welcome respite from the heat, not the knock you over gale force winds we have here in COS lately.

So really, except for my time, more things are in the plus column than in the negative. I am forced now to reevaluate my approach to the Jemez 50 Mile Run coming up May 21st in Los Alamos, New Mexico. No backing off on the training for one thing. I'm going to have to make April another 300 mile month for certain. I am going to have to load up the first two weeks of May on my mileage to hopefully taper for Jemez a little bit more than I did for the Desert Rats 50.

That is another thing that I need to take into account... my "taper" before Desert Rats was a 90+ mile week, followed by a 70+ mile week, then 20 miles the days before race... When I do taper for San Juan I intend to taper in the same fashion as I did for Leadville last year and go to the line in Lake City with completely rested and ready legs.

Hell, I PR' d! I should be ecstatic, yet something still just feels off to me.

Jemez is a tough course. I have my work cut out for me. Better get to it! :) 14 miles tonight...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fruita Surprise

This weekend my daughter Annie and I traveled to Fruita, Colorado so that I could run in the Desert Rats 50 mile race on Saturday, April 16th. I did the race of course and I will write a review of that later but this story is not about that. It is about something else entirely.

The drive to Fruita from Colorado Springs was a long five hour drive with only one stop thrown in there. We arrived about 6:00 p.m. with enough time to check into the hotel, get unpacked and settled in then it was off to the Hot Tomato for their (word of mouth) famous pizza.

The restaurant was crowded when we got in there but we were able to order our pizza and salads. A friendly couple with a table against the wall next to the register were kind and generous enough to save their table and offer it to us. Talk about luck!

As we were sitting and eating our salads I noticed the group of four that had just trickled in and ordered and were taking the table next to us. One of the guys in the group was tall, dark hair, fairly thin but obviously in good shape. Something about him seemed almost familiar but I was pretty sure I didn't know this guy at all. I let it go. Annie and I finished our pizza and got out of there as to get back to the room early enough to do the final prep for Saturday's race get some sleep.

Race day morning I am running and not more than two miles into the trail I pass the same guy that I saw at dinner that night. He asked me if I were running the 50 and I told him yes and I cruised on wanting to get ahead and put as much time in the bank as I could before it got too hot and I would begin to unravel later in the day.

Of course about mile 35 or so, this same guy passes me again. We exchange the standard trail pleasantries but I didn't think much of it past that Fruita is small place as I keep running into this dude.

With the race finished and after Annie and I had enjoyed a great Mexican dinner we came back to the hotel to attend the awards ceremony. We got there a little early to get some decent seats close to the front but also by the door as I knew I would be going in and out a lot as my hydration was coming back on line with a vengeance.

Before the presentation was to begin, this same guy that I was talking about earlier and his buddy came into the room and with so many seats taken could not sit next to each other. So his buddy sits in the aisle in front of us and he squeezes in and sits on the other side of Annie. No big deal but I thought it was funny that I saw the guy at dinner the night before and saw him during the race and now here. I also noticed he had a mild case of trail rash going on too.

When it came time to hand out the awards to the finishers of the 50 mile race, the race director said he would just call names and everyone could come up and get their commemorative rock with the race logo on it. After calling a few names they finally called mine... "Andrew Wooten." I got up and as I was walking to the front they called out the next runner... "John Duda." I about broke my neck as I turned around and he stood up smiling at me and said "I knew somehow it was you!" I just stood there and he walked over. He is my first cousin on my father's side of the family that I had not seen since we were little, whom I saw at dinner the night before, talked to on the trail and was also sitting right next to his second cousin, my daughter Annie for over and hour without anyone having a clue! I'm the older cousin by six years but we did spend a lot of time together as kids and his mom was one of my all time favorite Aunts.

We hugged and realized that it had been forever since we talked, 2005 actually, when our grandfather passed. We never got to see each other then as I was not able to make to the funeral because of working on my Masters at the time. So no way would I have been able to recognize him as an adult.

Afterward we talked some more and caught up some. He's running Leadville in August and I am going to be his pacer. I am so excited to do this.

So... quite the surprise this weekend and if anything this only reinforces the notion that nothing on this planet happens by accident, and there are indeed no coincidences.

Giving it more thought last night I realize what triggered such weird sense of recognition maybe... He has dark, dark hair and a lot of it (yeah I didn't get THAT gene) and blue, blue eyes... a darker more olive skin tone... except for the height he resembles our Papa Wooten a bit I think and I believe it was those subtle similarities that I was recognizing maybe.

Anyway, great to see you again John!