Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Happy New Years everyone! 
Cold.  Referring to the noun and not the adjective, as in I have a cold right now.  I've been having some weird symptoms for a week now, sore throat, light ear ache, some congestion and drainage and I thought that I had gotten over it but after yesterday's run it seemed to hit with a vengeance.  I am disapointed as I was going to start piecing together some higher mileage weeks starting this week.   That will have to wait.  Some allergy attacks, colds, and URI's  I can generally push through if I am careful but I am not going to take any chances with this one so for the next few days I will definitely be doing little to nothing and just taking it easy.

But running has been going well.  I haven't been trying to hit any training goals but I do attempt to get close to and hour and half in each day on interesting terrain or trails and while I am not being 100% strict about it, there is still a token focus on MAF and just taking it easy.  Yesterday was the warmest day we have had in Aspen for a bit, I think it got up to 31 degrees Fahrenheit and the first day I was able to run without a jacket or two on as outer layers.  I wore three long sleeved shirts layered and that was plenty enough for yesterday.

For most of the stuff I have been running, Micro Spikes are mandatory.  I don't notice them so much now but at the beginning I could really feel the weight of them on my feet.  I usually leave the house with them in a small pouch which I carry in my hand until I hit the trail and just slip them on real quick.  Pitkin County, or the city of Aspen, I am not sure who exactly does it but they do clear half of one side of the Rio Grand trail which stretches from Aspen all the way to Basalt.  They leave the other half snow covered for cross country skiers or folks snow shoeing.  But the trails here and around Aspen are just as awesome for running in the winter as they are the summer, even if you have to have the extra traction.

2013 reflections.... Probably my best year ever I have to say.  2001 miles of running, 2024 miles of biking.  That comes out to 384 hours of running and 218 hours of cycling and this is with at least one day a week off each week. I finished Leadman, big buckled in the LT100 Run. I pulled off a 50 mile PR in November though it wasn't as strong as I would have liked it was still a PR and I have managed to pretty much stay uninjured and healthy throughout the year. Those are the highlights, I could throw in more, but for now that is enough.  I am leaving 2013 on a good note and without any remorse or "coulda, shoulda, woulda's" lingering back there in the debris of the year.

2014 is completely up in the air.  Part of me has the faint desire to do Leadman again and though it is not part of the plan it is on the board as a last resort if I do not get into the LT100 MTB Lottery. (However a 2015 run at it is quite possible.) I have to also pull of a qualifying 100 in 2014 to stay in the Hardrock Lottery and deciding which one to do has caused me a bit of angst but I am pretty confident to say that I have settled on the Run Rabbit Run race in Steamboat, September 13th. 

I chose that race for a few reasons.  It was either it or the Bighorn 100 in June.  Run Rabbit Run won out because to be honest, I don't want to go into 2014 knowing everything else that will be happening in my life, (the layoff, selling the house, moving, etc.) while also training for and staring down a 100 miler in June.  Also, from Aspen, Steamboat is about 3 hours while the drive to Bighorn is around nine.  I am not a fan of post August big races and that is and was still a factor but the driving aspect swayed me in the end.   Also, the terrain here in Aspen really lends itself to the race in Steamboat in regards to the nature of climbs etc.  Anyway, I plan to register on Jan 4th when it opens up.

So for now, the schedule looks like this.

March 15 America's Uphill

April 19 Desert Rats Marathon

May 2 18 Hours of Fruita MTB 

July 12 Silver Rush 50 MTB - If I get into the 100 MTB

August 9 Leadville Trail 100 MTB - If I get in. 

September 12th Run Rabbit Run 100

There might be some others thrown into the mix like another couple of MTB races in May and the Golden Leaf Half Marathon in late September, but for now those are the ones that I am looking at. 

Melissa and I are going to the Wheeler Opera House tonight for a New Years celebration.  Between now and then I just plan to rest and medicate myself as much as possible. I'll be primed for the party after all of the Nyquil I consume today.   I am looking forward to the fireworks over Aspen Mountain tonight.

Happy New Years Everyone! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Grand Slam of Ultrasitting On My Ass is done.

I ran yesterday.  My first run in 19 days but really I have only ran one other time in the past 24 days.  It has been a nice break.  I think.  Two miles... average HR was super low in the 120's.  Super easy effort.  Tonight's run will be about the same just longer.

I am still not overly motivated to run right now as I am not really invested in it anymore past just doing it for fun and to keep from becoming just another fat-ass American.  No racing plans for 2014 as of yet.  Really.

I feel like I am wedged between a rock and hard place though.  Since I didn't make the cut in the HR100 lottery and since my 2013 LT100 finish will not count anymore for the HR100 lottery, I need to do some qualifying 100 this year if I want to stay in the lottery.  If I don't and take the year off from 100's then I will be starting over again with only one ticket in the HR lottery in two years instead of having a potential 32 tickets. One of my friends got in this year with 64 tickets.  I don't want it to take that long especially if I have to start over, so I feel the need to stay in the game somehow.  I really would like to do Hardrock while still in my 40's and at this rate playing the lottery every year I would have 128 tickets when I am 49.

My only solution to this dilemma is to run the Bighorn 100 next June.  I am thinking of that one because it is in June and after that I can just focus on the bike and the LT100 MTB for the rest of the summer.  Downsides... I have to train for a 100 through the winter months and right now even with six months to go I can't say that I am ready to buckle down and train for a race that my my head and heart aren't exactly enthusiastic about.  Also if I do Bighorn, I won't get to go to Lake City for the San Juan Solstice as it is the same weekend.  This will make the second year of missing the SJS50 then.

The second option is the Run Rabbit Run in September in Steamboat.  I've paced on that course I know what it is about and I also know it is no joke.  And it is in September which means still sorta training and having to stay focused when everyone is traditionally done with the season.  Also I want to bowhunt elk next September and after missing this past season I don't want to sit out another one.  A September Ultra would guarantee no hunting pretty much. 

The Bear is not even on the table as an option.

Whatever I decide it will have to be soon.  Rego for the Bighorn 100 opens on January 5th and I imagine there are others like me who are going to have to hustle to stay in the HR100 lottery game and will be trying to get in as well.  It will fill quickly if I had to guess.

So... that kinda covers my running scene right now.

In other news, I am in Aspen until January 2nd and so glad that I am here and get to stay for such a long duration.  So at least I am in a cool place to get the running thing going again.   The streets here are all completely covered with ice and snow and if I have to guess they will stay that way until late spring which is fine with me.  We are supposed to get another storm later in the week which I am really excited about.  I have been getting my back country skis and everything in order and hope to get out on them some more this weekend.

Melissa bought me some used Black Diamond Cult 167 back country skis which are the old school, non-waxless, kind of skis meaning they don't have scaling on the bottom surface in the kick zone.  I picked up some kicker waxes the other night at Ute Mountaineering and will have to reeducate myself on which wax to use during which temps and conditions to be able to kick and glide without losing grip.  They are fatter skis too so they should have some awesome float if I need it.

I still haven't made it to the top of Aspen Mountain yet on my skis and I hope I can do that this weekend.  I am going to have to get up super early to do that as I think it will take me between three and four hours to get up there and I have to be up at the summit by 9:00 AM per Aspen Mountain Uphill rules.

Now this... this is going to be awesome!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Weekend: Summit for Life Race

Getting close to the summit.  I had another racer use my camera and snap the photo.  I only took my gloves off to get my camera out, I didn't go up without them on.
I have run a grand total of five races this fall/early winter since Leadville.  This fifth one though was the one that I was looking forward to the most.  I really don't know why, but it just sounded like a lot of fun when I learned about it in September on my first trip to Aspen.

The start at the base of Little Nell. The gondola station would be to the left of the frame.
The Summit for Life is a race put on by the Chris Klug Foundation.  It's a forty dollar entry fee plus a $100 minimum donation collection.  There are two waves to the race.  The recreational division that takes off at 17:00 from the base of Aspen Mountain next to the gondola, and the competitive division which takes off at 18:00 from the same place.  The race is 2.5 miles in distance, and 3200 vertical feet gain.  You can ski up, snowshoe up, run up, hike up, take your pick.  There was a pretty even mix I think between the groups.  Seems the skiers went up faster maybe.  Waiting at the summit at the Sun Deck Lounge were lots of good food, drinks and post race awards and a very festive party. 

My first priority for this entire event was my fundraising efforts and I can't thank all of my friends and family who made donations enough.  Thank you.  My goal was to raise $1000 which I thought was lofty and in the end I raised $1300, even more awesome.  As far as the race goes?  Eh... I wasn't prepared to race it and didn't plan to race it.  Really.

Well, that isn't entirely true.  The weather and whatnot really influenced my decision.  Teens and snow at the base and snowing, and colder at the summit (I think it was two degrees Fahrenheit when I got up there) made me decide to dress for comfort rather than speed.

Vasque leather hiking boots, micro-spikes, ski pants, gore-tex gaiters, two shirts, insulation layer and my heavy jacket.  I had to be wearing 20 lbs in clothes I bet.  Others, more experienced to this kind of thing were dressed a lot lighter and when I do it again I will probably take that approach too but again conditions will ultimately dictate that.

The race... decided it was going to be a slow and steady hike and try to keep my HR down and not blow up.  And start slow I did...  I swear I was the last person over the top of Little Nell climb or at least it felt that way.  I just figured no big deal, just keep taking steps and get a rhythm going.   I did pick this race to try something totally different than I have ever done before and that was that I used poles on the ascent.  Except for my arms getting really tired at times I think they really made a difference especially after I learned to use the loops as opposed to the handle for pushing down on the poles.  Plus, going up in that snow, besides some added propulsion from my arms and not just my legs, the poles were extremely beneficial in maintaining stability on the way up.  So poles might be something I look into in the future for racing but only in places where they might come in handy and actually be warranted.

I only had my Garmin set to display altitude as I knew that was the real measuring stick of progress on this mountain.  The first 1000 feet gain just sucked pretty much mostly because it was just a shock to my system to be climbing like that.  I wasn't totally efficient yet, and really had no idea where I was going.  But after that first 1K of gain I started feeling better.  I also started passing a lot of people.  It seemed like a lot of people who went out too fast were slowing once they got into Spar Gulch.  Spar Gulch is steep and when it isn't steep it's damned near vertical.  Vertical enough that I was actually kicking steps it seemed a few times.

After passing 1600 in gain I was feeling better just knowing I was halfway there.  We passed the second and last aid station at 2000 in gain and after that is when it really started to get cold.  I had to zip my jacket up, put my face mask on to protect skin and close the vents in my jacket.  Fortunately it wasn't too windy as that would have made it worse but it was definitely cold.  It also seemed much more dark the last 1000 feet to the summit also.  Not sure why but it was.

I finished in 1:48.  I was hoping for something more like 1:30 but for my first time I am okay with it and really I just wanted to have fun and enjoy the trip up.  I would definitely do it again next year.  Also I get to do the same race again pretty much in March when I do the Americas Uphill on March 15.  Video of the Americas Uphill course which is the same as the Summit for life course.

Side note.... I wore my HRM but did not keep an eye on it all and only tried to maintain my level of effort by feel.  When all was said and done and Melissa and I were going down the gondola back to town I told her I bet my average HR was maybe 152.  I was surprised to find out when I downloaded everything that it was only 147 so I did a good job on keeping it damned near in the MAF zone the entire time just by feel.

Past that... a tough, quick, turnaround weekend.  It was my first time up in Aspen since Nov 13 and seemed like forever.  The drive up Friday night was not fun.  Today's drive back was only slightly better but I damned near bought it when a jack ass cut me off on Vail Pass.  I got lucky.  Damned lucky.   So back in the springs for another five days and then to Aspen again on Friday but this time I get to stay for three weeks.  Melissa and I have not spent more than week together at a time since July so it will be nice. 

Coming into the finish.  The 100 yards or so of flat terrain was a nice break.   Melissa rode the gondola up and waited at the top and took this photo as I was finishing.
I am still on my running break.  The "lottery results" of this past weekend have left me feeling even more unfocused, disenchanted, and less motivated than ever before.  The earliest I might run will be Thursday but I doubt I will.