Sunday, September 29, 2013

Aha Moment On Independence Pass Road

Today ends my first three weeks of training, sort of geared mostly towards the JFK 50 in November but also just still rebounding from the summer season of racing.  I have been running 100% of the time in my MAF/Aerobic/Zone-2 heart rate range.  Again, to build and maintain fitness as well as beginning to build a solid base for November.

Saturday's run I decided to slog up the Aspen side of Independence Pass for a few hours then have Melissa pick me up at some point.  It was a great way to gain elevation and a chance to run something different.  I will say that I think that road will be better to run once it is closed in the winter and is hopefully packed down by snowmobile tracks.  Anyway... it was a good run but I had to focus very intently on my HR to keep it down below 145 as much as possible.

Of course running uphill below that HR is slow for me.  Not that I have ever been super fast but I am running even slower than my normal plodding pace.  It takes discipline and self control but I think the time invested right now is well worth it.

Now to be honest the other reason I am working to train at MAF exclusively is to really train my body to become a fat burning machine. My weight is pretty much what it is and unless I really diet hard it isn't going down that much but modifying my body fat percentage may still be something that I can control, especially if confine my runs to staying in Zone-2 exclusively.  To be even more clear, burning and reducing fat is about as important to me right now as my overall training so it is way up there on the priority chart.

So running yesterday I got to thinking about how when I was in my 20's and 30's I could run steady 8 minute miles on my training runs while also constantly fighting to keep weight on.  Then I realized that when I got older, in my 40's I tried to run the same intensity thinking it would help me to drop weight but frequently became frustrated when things didn't change.  I also seemed to be developing more and more of a gut and storing fat around my mid-section... yet another curse of middle age.

But yesterday it clicked!  When I was younger I could run at that rate and my HR WAS higher but it was also in my aerobic zone... (for that age.) Then when I was older, trying to run the same intensity, even though I could do it, I was always going too hard and way above my MAF training zone.  In my younger days I probably ran with my HR constantly above 155 and that worked... but I didn't know, or even realize that as I got older that changed.  Now, to obtain the same fat burning benefits of running I have to keep my HR much lower and as a result (for now as it will get faster over time) I am forced to run more slowly.

Before yesterday though I had another epiphany a few weeks ago.  This was centered around my massive weight gain last fall.  Again, the result of thinking errors in terms of fitness and running.  I trained A LOT last fall to run faster.  Lots of track work and lots of runs just going out super hard.  I was always in the sugar burning zone and therefore my body demanded (and who was I to refuse it) lots and lots of sugar to replenish.  That being said, I gained, no kidding, 20 pounds between the Leadville 100 last year and the morning of the Thanksgiving when I weighed in at 167.

It wasn't until Lucho and I started working together that things really started to straighten out both fitness wise and body composition wise.  Part of it was diet of course but I am forced to believe that a lot of it was from backing way the hell off on the intensity for a while.  

After three weeks now of strict HR training I am starting to really see results... or to be more accurate, feel them.  Fat is burning off and I am probably not lighter but I can tell a difference between the way I feel now as opposed to when I feel heavy.  I am still having to run very, very slowly but there are hints that is changing as well which is evident when I am running flats or downhills and have to really get the legs turning over to get the HR up into the zone where I need it.

I am sure I will write more about this the next few months as I am fully committed to this style of training until at least I get an idea of what my race schedule looks like next year.

Speaking of which... here are my plans which are tentative at best.

1.  Salida Half Marathon - March
2.  San Juan Solstice - June
3.  Hardrock 100 - July (I have a better chance of hitting powerball.)
4.  Silver Rush 50 MTB - July (Will probably end up doing this since HR100 is such a long shot.)
5.  Leadville 100 MTB - August (All thing being equal, I wouldn't mind training next summer with this event being my number one focus.  But this is a lottery too so we will see.)

Today's run was a fun ten miler on a newly discovered trail called the Government Trail which runs from Aspen to Snowmass.  Super awesome single track with lots of climbing and descending but nothing too extreme either way.  It would also be a great mountain bike ride when I get the chance.  Great views of Pyramid and the Bells from the trail.

Pyramid Peak as seen from the Government Trail.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Halfway Through Week Six Post LT100

I've said it at least a 1000 times but it takes me a solid seven weeks to get "right" after running a 100 mile race.  Yes I am up and functioning in a week usually but for seven weeks I just never feel like myself.  This year is proving to follow that rule without exception.

I did five miles today.  I was supposed to do ten but time was the gating factor. I'll just do the ten tomorrow in Aspen, no biggie.  But when I was running I did the math and figured out that I am halfway through week six so hopefully in another week and a half I will be back to normal.

It is funny when it happens too.  One day it is like switch gets thrown and I feel great again.  I also realize just how crappy I felt in the previous weeks in comparison.  What I find even more funny is that after a hard 50 miler, I can feel okay too but the following week to ten days I can just be tired.  Just tired like I could nap all the time.  After a 100 it's pretty much the same but lasts about five times as long.

Got new handlebars for the Cannondale today.  They are swept upwards and feel a lot better than the previous flat bars I had on there.  The other bars had a crack in them too so it had to be done.  I am going to put a different saddle on it that is identical to the one I have on the Trek.  The stock seat on that Lefty just does not work for me.  Anyway, taking it up to Aspen and am hoping for a long ride on Sunday.  Up Summer Road then south to Taylor Pass and back.  I expect Summer Road to be quite the challenge, both ways.  I want to get that bike dialed in 100% so that if I do decide to do any bike racing next summer I can be perfectly comfortable on it.

Got tickets to go back to Maryland in November for the JFK 50 and to be home for the week.  I am looking forward to the trip.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Rebooting, Rebuilding, and Retooling

It has been a long time since I have written anything.  A lot has been going on, more internally than externally as I am in the process of shifting my focus to other things.

Running, I am still doing it.  I had a solid training week two weeks ago, last week, not so much.  Factors in play included just general fatigue, and fighting a cold which while low-grade in severity, seemed to hang on for about two weeks. 

Digging Aspen.  A lot.  Living alone every two weeks, not so much.  Fortunately though the past two "off-weekends" Melissa and I have gotten together.  Two weeks ago in Fort Collins, and this past weekend she came home and spent the weekend here.  I go back up on Wednesday this week.

I am in the process of rebooting my Tri Peaks coaching business.  I picked up two new clients last week and that is exciting.  The first of the two just ran her first 10K this past Sunday and is going for her first half marathon come December.  Definitely a dream client as she is not afraid of the hard work. 

On the business front, I am also in the midst of redoing my website, It will have a new feel and format here shortly.  And since more letters means more credibility and prestige, I am also taking classes to become a certified life coach and that starts on Oct. 3.  That certification plus my masters degree in counseling will give me sure footing as I work on building my business and furthering my career in the helping profession.  In addition I am going to complete my ISSA Personal Trainer cert in the next couple of months as well... Again, more letters.

Overall I am stepping back from my running and racing by at least 80% I believe this next year.  While reflecting on training and completing Leadman, I have decided to focus as much energy towards my businesses as I did for Leadman to make everything a reality and be 100% self employed (and successful) within the next year.

Back on the home front... slowly and I mean slowly starting the process of purging and getting rid of a lot of stuff.  I filled two large garbage bags of clothes out of my closet (should probably fill a third) and will be hauling that to ARC real soon.  Next, I will be getting rid of my weights, bars and bench.  My goal is to have my basement office pretty much empty of everything except my desk, chair and a few other things within a month. 

Past that, everything else is going well.  Annie is doing great in school.  Asia is doing great and is learning so much still.  Melissa is loving her new job... it's all good.  As for me, just training for JFK, and my diet is good, not losing a lot of weight but not gaining either so I will take that.  The best part is that I have just been able to modulate my intake quite a lot this fall, not just quantity but the quality of what I am eating too.

So not much really happening on the surface but a lot of stuff in the background the past few weeks and that is what has been consuming a lot of my cycles and why I haven't actually written much. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

End of Summer Heat

Sept. 9, 2003.  Doubt it will be like this up there anytime soon.  This was my old camp at 11K.
I hate it.  The past two years I have skipped out on the fall archery elk seasons mostly because I don't have the drive to go.  Each year I struggle with wanting to be in the high country chasing elk but the past two years, especially this year I am thankful that I am not up there just due to the heat.

Call it global warming, call it climate change or shift but it does exist.  20 years ago I would be up in my camp and when I would get up in the morning it would typically be in the upper teens to lower 20's, every morning.  The last few seasons I spent up there the night time temps rarely dipped into the mid 30's.

The heat causes a tiny window of hunting in the morning and even less of one in the evenings as the elk will not even think about moving until the very last minutes of light.  They hole up all day on cool northeast facing slopes in steep, dark timber and there is no way you can even get close them in those areas.  Too many downed trees to navigate and if they don't smell you because of the updrafts from the heat, they will certainly hear you a mile off.  The heat has definitely changed how the elk behave too.  They aren't as visible and definitely not as vocal.

I wish I were up there but I know it would not be an optimum situation.  I did hear recently that due to the weather changes, the CO DOW is considering starting the seasons later.  That might help... anyway...  I still have an itch to get a tag and mess around in the GMU east and north of Aspen while I am up there.  In reality it is just "over the hill" from my old hunting grounds.  Being out there and getting to hear one bull bugle would be a blast... getting to call one in even more sweet.

I am over this heat though.  I didn't get to run until nearly seven last night and had cooled off to 84 and was 76 when I was done.  Didn't walk Asia until after midnight when it was a comfortable 66.  Probably end up doing the same tonight pretty much. Running errand at lunch it felt like Mexico hot, just without the benefit of any damned water to hop into.

I had some time last night to hammer out a plan to start getting ready for the JFK 50 which if I start on Monday I have eleven weeks to train for.  Better get at it I guess. 

6x6 Bull Elk 2008

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ute Trail and Headed Home

Had an interesting run last night.  I ran from the apartment, up Little Cloud to Summer Road, then down Summer Road to the Ajax Trail and up the Ute Trail after that.  I thought that the Little Cloud Trail was steep but Ute Trail set me right in that opinion.

You can see in the picture, Little Cloud Trail on the right and then the Ute Trail going up and down the mountain on the left.  I had to bail as I was losing light and had to head down.  My next trip up here, next week, I plan to take Ute Trail to the summit and then Summer Road down to the base of the mountain.  It will be a three hour round trip I bet.

Little Cloud and Ute Trails
I left the apartment yesterday afternoon with my sunglasses but in reality I should have packed a headlamp.  Every fall there is the one run that catches me in the dark at some point and I forget that the days have indeed become shorter with less sunlight.  Headlamp or no, Ute Trail is best to ascend and not a friendly descent in any kind of light I imagine. 

My other goal on the next trip is to ride from the apartment and then up Hunter Creek Trail to the McNamara Hut.  That will be another longish day.  I am hoping by then the weather is a little cooler too.

Leaving Aspen this evening and headed to the springs.  I turned the AC off in the house before I left last week and I bet it is just burning up in there.  I also imagine the lawn needs mowed in the worst way. If it is still alive that is.  No idea what the heat and weather has been like there or if we even got any rain.

No running or riding today.  I've hit it pretty hard the entire time I have been up here so taking today off works as it is a travel day.  I think I will make most Wednesday's my day off for a while.  Still no clear plan on when I will start training for the JFK 50 for real but soon I am going to have to start throwing some longish weekly runs into the mix.

So back over Independence Pass tonight.  I will enjoy it and appreciate the relative brevity of it because once they close that pass my weekly commutes will be at least an hour longer each way.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Aspen, Week One

Today is my last full day in Aspen for this rotation and what an interesting week it has been.  Most observations and discoveries have been extremely positive.  Some, very few, negative... like damn it is hot here!  The air temps are not bad but the sun is so strong that it just cooks you, instantly.  I just was not expecting that.  I am probably going to have a heat stroke living in the springs the next week.

That is probably the biggest negative.

My most curious observation has been that I feel like I am living a life very similar to when I lived on Air Bases.  Everything is so close by and within walking distance and that is how you get everywhere.  Walk to the Post Office, walk to the laundry, walk to see a movie, eat out, go to a bar, the store, etc.  I have not moved the Jeep an inch the past week.

Running and riding...  Just by the nature of the terrain here, not to mention a base elevation of 8,000 feet, I can only see myself getting stronger than I ever thought was possible.  Lots of vertical for both riding and running and a lot of other stuff in between.

Saturday I rode my bike from the apartment to the Fritz Fabi Huts up Smuggler mountain road.  Two hours to get there or so and an hour or so coming back.  Excellent uphill riding and even better downhill to force me to work on my downhill skills.  When I am up the next time I plan to ride to the McNamara Hut via Hunter Creek Trail/Road.  I rode about halfway there yesterday.

Sunday was a killer run to the top, the legitimate top of Aspen Mountain.  The summit is exactly five miles from the apartment taking the Little Cloud Trail to Summer Road then taking the road to the summit.  This isn't a run I would want to do every day because it is so steep and it never lets up but it will definitely be a great one to put into the training rotation to do on a regular basis, especially after I am here 100%.   The views from the sundeck on the summit are just breathtaking.  Well worth the trip.

Route to Aspen Mountain Summit.
There seems to be somewhat of a decent running scene here.  Not as over the top as the springs (i.e. no mass baby stroller parade every Tuesday night) but enough decent races to look forward to.  I will miss the Golden Leaf Half as it filled up in week last April but hope to do that next year.  But there is the Chuck Severy Cross Country Challenge on October 5th that benefits the Apsen High School Cross Country team which I will be coming up for.

The one I am really excited about is the Summit for Life Uphill on December, 7th.  It is a night run up Aspen mountain and straight up the mountain slopes at that.  They guy whom the Chris Klug Foundation is named after, Chris, rode 8:04 in the Leadville 100 MTB this year and he also won a bronze medal in the 2002 winter Olympics in snowboarding and that's AFTER a liver transplant.  The Chris Klug Foundation is the group putting on the race.  Pretty cool stuff.

The downtown area was a circus this weekend with the tourists.  It is funny though... Melissa and I walk around and talk to people in shops, etc, and if  you tell them you live here, it is amazing what people will share with you.   There is definitely a subculture of locals here and they are pretty friendly it seems like.

So it is all positive really.  We have a nice apartment that I wish were bigger but it is what it is for now.  It serves as an awesome beachhead and gives us time to look around.  I'm still wigged out over purging my stuff, moving and then figuring out what I am going to do here because no matter how great I am, (or think I am) nobody is lining up yet to pay me to ride and run all the time as a full time job.  Yet.