Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Closing Out 2014

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

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

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

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

Happy 2015 everyone.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Special Kind Of Special

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 22, 2014

Finally Better

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

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

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

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

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

The San Juan Solstice is now a lottery? WTH?

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

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

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

Thursday, December 11, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 29, 2014

300 Pages

That is a statistic that I read last night has me reeling a bit today.  "Traffic generation jumps significantly once a site achieves 300+ indexed pages."  This is relevant only in the sense that in building my business and adding content to my business webpage I still have a ton of work to do to start showing up as a significant player out there.

I had a big running goal for November but between tweaking my knee and some of the weather we have had the numbers just are not there.  Throw in the usual fall/winter lack of goals or sense of urgency in training and it comes up to be another light month.  On a good note, I feel great! No lingering aches or pains or anything, so if/when I have to start training in earnest next month I will be set.

This is going to be a big week for me.  I discovered that Aspen does not have a divorce recovery support group of any kind.  As many of my clients are going through that and rebuilding their lives I have stepped up and have created a local divorce support group here.  The first meeting of the Aspen Divorce Support Group will be this coming Wednesday the 3rd in the Pitkin Country Library Meeting Room at 6:15.  I am excited and a bit nervous.  I have run groups before it has just been a long time.

Still doing the Summit For Life race on the 6th.  I have made two trips up the mountain on the course this week.  My plan is to do a trip up each day for the next four days.  Thursday I will cut the vertical down, Friday I will rest, and Saturday I will race.  There is still time to make a donation and any amount is appreciated.

Mixed feelings about getting into Hardrock or not. I know I will be disappointed if I don't get in, but at the same time I have a lot of other goals that I want/must reach this year and I am not sure if I can do both.  If I get in I will make it work and it might be good for me to have that out there to balance the constant sensation of being consumed by "self-employment" that is ever present these days.  I am not where I want to be yet but each day I know I am getting closer.

On a fun note, the Roaring Fork Vally CRUD group is growing, sorta.  The mail list is growing and the Thursday morning thing is picking up.  There was a crew of us who went up Aspen Mountain Thanksgiving morning.  I think it will be a strong group in numbers come springtime.
Thursday-Thanksgiving group on top of Aspen Mountain.
I am not writing as much here these days as I am more focused on creating quality content elsewhere.  I imagine if the Lottery Gods smile upon me next weekend that will change as well.  The next several months could be quite the adventure to document.

Eh... what am I talking about?  This is my life... the next several months are GUARANTEED to be an adventure regardless of what happens next weekend!  :) 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Backed Off A Bit

For a short haired animal, Asia certainly loves the snow. 
I guess it was the week before last when I was running down Smuggler road that I turned quickly and sort of twisted my right knee a little bit.  Maybe a two on a scale of one to ten.  Through the weekend it was manageable but by Saturday's long run my right knee and right hamstring were both less than happy with me.

Rode for a bit last Sunday as I knew that would be the last day I would be able to do that in comfort outside for a few months and instead of helping I think it irritated the situation.  Muddled through the week and even ran up Smuggler Mountain for the Thursday Morning Hill Climb but things were becoming even more uncomfortable in my right leg.

A short run on Friday to test it and a long conversation with my soon to be a Physical Therapist daughter Annie convinced me to rest things up this weekend and even take Monday, tomorrow off.

I am happy to say that everything that was bugging me is now feeling a lot better so I think the time off was beneficial.  Sometimes you can work through these things and other times you can't.  

No doubt it is winter here in Aspen now.  If I had to guess I would say that we have had a foot of new snow since last Monday.  The temps are going to be super cold the next three days before the next storm.  All of the snow that we have now will be with us through April-May in town I believe.  Sorrels are now the footwear du jour. 

Other stuff... I plan to pick up a light pair of snowshoes for training this winter.  I am thinking of registering for the Salida Marathon but I am still waiting until the Hardrock 100 Lottery in less than three weeks before I commit to anything for next year.

I am doing the Summit for Life on the 6th of December.  If you would like to make a donation to sponsor me in this race to raise organ and tissue awareness I would really appreciate it.  Thanks.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Getting Back At It

October turned into a very low mileage month for me. 85 miles running total for the month.  Zero miles or time on the bike.  I could not guess when I had such a low mileage month in the past but I think that it was February - March 2012 maybe.

October was a good break.  I needed it.  I have been back at this past week logging 68 miles for the week.  For some weird reason I want to try to pull off a 300 mile month this month.  It has been some time since I have done a month with that many running miles.  I really don't have a reason to do it past just wanting to get that strong again.  I did a 22 miler yesterday and followed it up with 15 today.  I am hoping to log some decent 30 mile days later in the month.  I am just not there yet.

Today's 15 miler was tough too.  I carried enough fatigue into it from yesterday that after only a few miles the miles seemed to become longer and take way more time than they should just like in the later miles of a ultra.  I wanted to do 20 today but shut it down at 15 as I was really starting to get bored and I felt like I had done enough. 

I have been test driving a new running pack this past week.  My Nathan HPL 2.0 is getting too worn and I wanted to get something that I can carry some more stuff in.  I settled on getting an Osprey Rev 6 and so far I like it a lot.   It fits well and I can carry all of the extra stuff that I want in it. The downsides.... The front pockets are not that big like on the Nathan Vest and the bladder... Osprey did a fine job over-engineering the bladder and already I am having issues getting the cap back on.  Also, it is only a 1.5 liter bladder.   I'd like to wedge a 70oz or maybe even a 100oz CamelBak bladder in it if I can.  But besides the bladder thing, I really do like the pack.

 That's about it.  Just happy to be running again. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Life. Some Disassembly Required.

After a full two weeks in Colorado Springs I am finally back in Aspen.  The rest of my stuff that I needed to move has been moved and everything else to be sold, donated, given away, or just discarded is now out of my life and gone for good.

Both the house and cottage are rented out and I believe I hit the jackpot with the tenants that I found. 

It was a tough two weeks there with every day becoming more challenging as more things kept going out the door.  The last two nights I commented to myself that I had more "luxuries" the month that I lived in the tent in Leadville this summer than I had in the house.

But disassembling a life is a chore.  Even with all of the stuff that I got rid of early in the year it seemed that I still had a ton to deal with the past two weeks.  Piece by piece and day by day the house which was my home for over nine years became just an empty shell.

I did not run one day while I was there.  It was just easier to skip the runs to focus on what I needed to get done.

The upside to the trip was that I got to catch up with a lot of friends.  This also meant that I got to out to eat just about every day and hit all of my favorite places.  That was a lot of fun.  Never got to King's Chef as someone was a total flake. 

Anyway, that is all done and I am glad to be back in Aspen and doubly glad that the pass has stayed open allowing me a double crossing on Sunday with the UHaul and an easy trip back yesterday.

Today the running started again. Shad Mika is visiting and we got out for a good 12-13 mile run today which allowed me to visit some of my favorite trails and show him around as well.  It would have been impossible to ask for a better weather day for late October.

I lost some fitness over the two weeks and I am fine with that.  Before I left I had to run up something damned near vertical to get my heart rate to go up.  Now I can run flattish stuff and have it be where it sort of should be. Being rested now I can start to build up again.

Talking to my friend Jeff here about an informal 100 miler in January.  No planned course or location yet but it will probably be something lower and more desert like.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Taking Another Break For Now

I have been in Colorado Springs since last Thursday.  I have successfully found renters for both the house and the cottage in that time and now I have to focus on liquidating the rest of my furniture and moving what few things I have left here to storage in the RFV.  If I still had my old F-150 I could probably move it but I am going to have to rent a van and do a quick out and back trip in a day.  I will be out of the Springs 100% by the end of next week.

I have not run the first mile since I got here.  When I got here last Thursday it was raining like crazy so I decided to not go.  Friday the weather was nasty and a scheduled day off so I bailed that day as well.  Saturday was nicer but I was doing so much work around the house and getting stuff done that time just slipped away from me.  I think that I intentionally let it slip away to be honest.

My mind completely recoils from the thought of running here.  Let's just say I am going to give myself a pass until I get back home to Pitkin County.

At first I felt bad about it because I was beginning to build some momentum and get a rhythm going again.  But after thinking about it I decided that another week or two off might not be a bad thing in the long run.  Last year I took two-three weeks off after the JFK 50 then started running again and had a really solid two weeks where things were going well.  Then I caught a nasty cold/virus at the end of December that knocked me out for another two weeks.  When I got back to running after that I felt a lot better than I did before I got sick.  As much as being sick sucked I had to admit that in the long run it proved to be beneficial.

So I am on another break for a spell.  It will do my mind good and relieve a lot of stress given everything that I have to get done in the next week and half. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

50! Wow!

I took the long way home on Monday after coming back from El Jebel.  Asia and I drove up to Ashcroft and just took in the scenery for a bit.  I stood there so long just looking at the mountains that I got a little sunburned.
50... that is the sum total of miles that I have ran the past two weeks.  25 miles two weeks ago and 25 miles last week.  I am still not out of the woods yet in terms of recovering from the summer but I am getting closer.  I figure another three weeks I will be back to normal, or whatever in the hell passes as normal for me.  Shooting for a 40 mile week this week with two days off thrown in there.

I ran the Aspen TNT this past Saturday and I am happy to say it went well.  I placed 4th in my age group and 20th overall out of 160 or so.  I am skeptical of their results as the printed results say that someone crossed the line when I did and that is not true.  I dropped two guys in the last quarter and there was nobody ahead of me on the straight stretch to the finish line.  And those two guys I dropped crossed together but not for like 10 seconds after I did.  

I don't think I have ever run a 10K so hard in my entire life.  It was hard.  My average HR for the race was 176 and I topped out at 184.  Basically I ran a 10K at what I would call my 5K effort.  But it was fun in that weird way that races like that are.  I was pretty sure that I was going to blow up around mile four but somehow was able to hang on.

Sunday I got to do my last run up Aspen Mountain (Ajax) via summer road.  That was the last day that the gondola will be open for a bit.  Living in Aspen that is sort of one of my favorite runs, regardless if I run up the front side or the back side I get a huge kick out of riding the gondola down for free.  You have to pay to ride up but they give you pass if you get up there on your own.

The bears are out in numbers here in Aspen this week.  I am seeing one to two a day.  I get a kick out of it but I don't dare walk around at night without a flashlight. I did bail out coming down the Hunter Creek Trail yesterday evening on my run as it was too close to dark and I didn't want to be in the brush with limited visibility that close to dark and run into one.

Headed to the springs tomorrow (Thursday) to take care of business and I will be there for a week or so.  If anyone is up for a run or lunch let me know.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Now It's October

I wasn't really ready to see snow this week.  There is more higher up.  I heard of guys skiing up on Independence Pass this morning.
October is here and in Aspen there is no way of pretending anymore that winter is not imminent.  I have mixed feelings about fall in general.  Part of me really enjoys it as the stress of races and training from the rest of year are done and I can just go out and run without any real purpose or direction.  Yet on the other hand, the cooler temps, and shorter days, are just a constant reminder of what is next.

So the big news of the week is that Leadville has gone to a lottery system.  Wyatt had a pretty good rant about it all.  I do question if "The Book" is actually still relevant in terms of influencing runners and those up and coming in the ultra game.  Three to four years ago, maybe... now, well, I just say look at the shoes most people are wearing and how footwear has really gone the other way.  Anyway, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.  Will it drive up demand or will it stay about the same?  Now that it is a lottery, will people look at other races? I guess if I were forced to say one way or the other I think they should have gone with a qualification standard first instead of going full blown nuclear with the lottery. 

From a personal standpoint with five finishes and after doing every race that Leadville has to offer at least two other times and being done without any desire to ever go back, it really does not have any impact for me.  One question I do have though is how will this affect people who are attempting certain slam series such as the Rocky Mountain Slam or the other one... (Don't want to say it lest I get sued.)  Anyway, I can see it making things hard to finish those series, that's all. (As a side note, with my chances of getting into HR100 increasing every year, I do sometimes entertain the idea of the Rocky Mountain Slam but don't tell Melissa I said that.)

I pretty much gave myself the summer off from working.  With the exception of working with established clients and classes and working on the requirements for my certification for the business, growth, or the activity of business building was put on the back burner.  I think more accurately it was wrapped in foil and put in the fridge.  Now that summer is over and there isn't anything big or serious on the horizon, all of that is now 95% of my focus in life.  So, I have been busy with that.  Of course building a business is nothing that I have ever done before so there is a great deal of learning, and learning, and then the work that goes into it.  In a strange way I view all of this as my next race or my next Leadman.  My belief is that if I can train for Leadman (twice) and finish (twice) I can take the same exact level of focus and effort and have my business humming along beyond expectations within a year.  So, that's what I am doing.

But that does not mean that I have given up on other plans or dreams, I did register for the Hardrock 100 Lottery on Wednesday.  Let's see where 16 tickets gets me this year.

And I do get to run a fun 10K here in Aspen tomorrow.  It is the Aspen Town and Trail 10K.  It is a small race and I ran it last year in it's first running.  I have been feeling better this week so my plan tomorrow is to actually race it.  I figure it is going to go awesome or I am going go down in fireball of glory around mile four.  Mostly I am just looking forward to it and having fun.

Of course one way or the other, I am sure it will make for a fun story.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Coffee Shop Hell

My digs for the day.  No, that is NOT a coffee but a hot chocolate.  I'm just here for the WiFi.
I am by far not a fan of coffee shops.  Not a fan at all.  For starters I don't even drink coffee.  The vibe has just never set well with me. 

But today I am sitting today in the Starbucks in El Jebel.  I'm only here for the WiFi.  At least I can get work done while I am waiting on Asia to get out of surgery.  Yeah... about that.

About three-four weeks ago she mysteriously came up lame on her left back leg.  The same leg that she had ACL surgery on back in January. The short story is she has/had an infection in there and we hoped that a strong round of antibiotics would knock it down.  It helped and she bounced back but that course ended last Tuesday and by Friday she was limping again.  So the next step is to remove the plate that was put in when she had her ACL procedure with the thought/suspicion being that is what is holding the infection and where it is borne from.  There are more sinister theories but I am refusing to consider those at this point. Just hoping for the best here. Of course we won't  know anything for sure until the culture from the plate and biopsies come back as to what is really going on.  It will be a waiting game for sure.

It was about a year ago that I published the The Little Book of Happiness - Breaking Through the Abundance Threshold.  I never gave Amazon my bank account information back at the time.  So... a few days ago I got an actual royalty check in the mail.  It wasn't that much but the concept of it all is just so cool.  I made something geared to help people and it sold!  To me that is just very exciting. 

I actually ran yesterday.  My first run since Run Rabbit Run.  It was slow and uncomfortable.  A lot more uncomfortable than I was anticipating.  I guess it is going to take a few more days until things start to turn around.  I am not in a hurry.

At least I have been able to write a new blog for the Tri Peaks Website.  It is called Ack! Overwhelmed! and is all about helping clients get unstuck when they are overwhelmed and just don't know how to proceed.  It's pretty cool 

I wonder how long it will take before they kick me out of here?  Maybe I had better order lunch. ;)

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Fog Is Lifting

It has been a very strange week.  I have been busy and have gotten a lot done.  Just don't ask me what though, I probably don't remember.

Most of this week I have just been super-duper tired.  More tired than I can ever remember actually.  Post RRR100, physically I think that I took on way less damage than in the past, and have just been super tired instead.  I feel about 90% better today though.  After waking up it felt like someone turned the lights on in the dark room that I have been living in all week.  The joke is I didn't realize it was that dark.

I plan to start running again in a few days, definitely after the weekend.  I will run the Golden Leaf Half Marathon with Melissa next weekend and I think that I am actually going to run the Aspen TNT 10k on the 4th of October to see if I have any speed left at all in me.  But for the rest of the fall, I plan to keep it on the light side in terms of volume and plan on only 40-50 mile weeks.

Asia is going to the "spa" (boarding kennel) tomorrow and Melissa and I are going to spend the day and tomorrow night in Glenwood sort of as a mini-vacation.  Eat, drink, soak, repeat.

Looking forward to putting in for the HR100 lottery and I am even more excited now that there will be 12 more slots for the never started group.  I have a suspiscion, which could be wrong, that with people not getting into the lottery from other races that are no longer qualifiers for HR, the pool might shrink some.  I will have 16 tickets which doesn't seem like a lot but I guess it is way better than starting with just one.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Run Rabbit Run 100 (107) - It Feels Good To Feel Good!

I registered for Run Rabbit Run 100 on the fourth of January with the sole intention of just doing a race this year that would help me to maintain my qualifying status for the Hardrock 100 lottery since they dropped Leadville as a qualifying race.  Back then the decision came down to Run Rabbit Run in September or Bighorn in June.  The more I thought about it, I did not want to be staring down a 100 in less than six months, having to train through the winter, and with all of the upcoming life changes that were developing... Bighorn just did not fit the bill.

Since I did not get into the Leadville 100 MTB, I ended up doing Leadman again but that information, the lottery result, was not available until March, at which time I decided to do Leadman.  That meant that after the LT100 run I would only have three weeks and six days between the races.

Run Rabbit Run was not a total unknown to me.  I had paced my friend Ben there in 2012 from Dry Lake to the finish.  My opinion after that experience was that no way would I ever go back and do the full race. Ever.  But as outlined above, necessity dictated otherwise.

In July, during the middle of training and racing the Leadman series, I found myself, quite to my surprise, becoming excited about the prospect of doing Run Rabbit Run.  The more I studied the course and tried to visualize a plan for it, the more I looked forward to it.  I had a total shift in thinking.  Yes, Leadman finished in August but it wasn't the end of my summer. Twisted enough, that last week in Leadville was my last big training week for Run Rabbit Run in my mind.  Afterwards, I recovered, got the legs moving again and started getting serious about going to Steamboat and doing well. 

To spice things up, I was going to do this one without any support or pacers. I decided to have three drop bags on the course at places that I would go to at least twice and that was it.

Then things really got interesting.  On August 22, I was working out my plans for the race and this picture pops into my news feed on Facebook.
Run Rabbit Run had introduced a sub 30 buckle instead of just the standard finisher buckle.  "Ooooh!  That's the one I want!"  Planning then got a lot more serious.

So the goals for this race are starting to shape up in varying degrees. Get the race done to stay in the HR100 lottery was goal one.  Pull off a 100 so close after Leadville.  Do the race solo, sans crew and pacers. Then finally run my ass off the best that I could to get that pretty and shiny gold buckle.

That's a pretty big order right there...

The race... I loved it.  I don't know if I will do it again myself, but I highly recommend it for anyone who is in Colorado or close to Colorado who runs 100's.  The field size is small'ish, the aid stations are awesome and the volunteers are just simply amazing.  And the course?  It's pretty damned challenging.  (As a side note, I don't necessarily agree with the decision that dropped the LT100 from the HR100 qualifying race list, but I definitely believe that RRR100 is more appropriate of a qualifying race than Leadville.)

Running the first 40 or so miles of the course I felt great and really enjoyed running it.  My mantra for the day was "it feels good to feel good!"  Seriously, this is the best I have felt in forever.   Nothing hurt, I wasn't tired, and I wasn't dogged by the fatigue that had plagued me all summer.  It was also fun to run with and meet a lot of new people.

The late night hours though things started to change some.  I think that I experienced some weird slow down between Summit Lake and Dry Lake and I was also starting to slip into some low point without realizing it.  When I got to Dry Lake I was rather done.  I had to hang out a few minutes longer to eat some real food and regain my composure.  Not long after that though I started to feel a lot better.

The sun came up when I was almost back to Summit Lake which would leave me with 20+ miles to finish.  I knew it would cost me time but I took a break there after dealing with my drop bag and ate a ton and even sat for a few.  I was behind schedule but I thought that I could come in under 30 hours if I really pushed it and when I left Summit Lake, that is exactly what I did.

I had a great run from Summit Lake to Dry Lake but then started to struggle again between Dry Lake and the Mt. Werner Summit. I had not realized just how much climbing there was in that section and it just seemed to go on forever.  I was still on pace to come in under 30 hours but just barely.  What I really wanted was a nice time cushion to jog down the steep Mt. Werner service road and take it easy but that was no longer an option.  So I did what I had to do and hammered down the best I could the last 6.5 miles telling myself to keep going and that I can feel good some other time.  I pulled it off and crossed the finish line in 29:43:09.

This race seems like a total game changer for me.  Going into it I believe that I put to use all of the years of ultra experience and knowledge that I had gained and there is no way I could not have done it without relying on that.  The same goes for the actual execution of the race.  Being out there solo, you have to have a high degree of self-awareness as to everything that is going on, both external and internal.  Self-care becomes even more critical too, such as knowing when eat more, or back off just a little, or push just a little harder.  There is so much more that I wish I could explain.

Now for some rest!  No running for a while but I will probably get on the bike in a week or so for fun rides only.  I will run the Golden Leaf Half with Melissa in two weeks but I am running that solely to help her.  After that I might start looking at some smaller races through the rest of the fall and early winter.

And of course, I will be putting in for the HR100 Lottery! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Packed For Steamboat - Run Rabbit Run 100

This is what I am in for this weekend.  Lots of climbing but I think if I just gear down and keep it steady it will be a lot of fun.
I am notorious for waiting to pack for trips until the last minute.  Okay, maybe not the absolute last minute, but more like the second or third to last minute before a trip.  Getting everything together for Run Rabbit Run this weekend was no exception.

Part of it is that packing for races has become a lot easier over the past several years.  When I packed for my first ultra ever, The San Juan Solstice in 2009, I packed more for it and had more stuff in my drop bags that I had packed for a seven day, fly in, bear hunt in northern Saskatchewan that I went on in 2005.  When I ran Leadville in 2010, I think the entire back of a Jeep Wrangler was filled with my stuff. This year, I handed Melissa and Annie three little duffel bags.  Guess I have simplified it some.

The logistics though for this race have been a fun challenge for me.  I am doing it without a crew and without pacers so that means I have to have drop bags. But then the questions of how many bags, what to put in them, etc, etc, comes up.  I settled on only three.  One at Long Lake which I will go through three times, one at Olympian Hall in town which I will hit, twice at miles 20 and 30, and then another one at Summit Lake which is the aid station for miles 56 and 81. 

Then I had to figure out the timing of it all.  How many of X in each bag based on when I might arrive, etc.  Where do I pack the warm clothes, headlamps, extra goodies and snacks and so on?  And again the question of quantity came into play, with how many packs of drink mix, gels, etc, based on hours to get to each aid station and to the next.  It has been fun and I am damned glad that I sat down two weeks ago and sort of hashed out that rudimentary pace chart to give me something to go by.

Anyway, packing is done. 

As far as everything else goes, I am really excited for this race.  I feel great, nothing is hurting, and I think I am going into this one way more rested than anything I have done the past few months.  I am not going into it with the thought of still being beat up from Leadville or anything like that.  Seriously, Leadville? That is so 3.5 weeks ago!  I talked to Melissa about it last night and I told her that in my mind Leadville is deeply rooted in the past and so far back now that at least in my mind it has no bearing on anything else.  Even if it was less than a month ago, it is still that far back to me.

Looking at the past three weeks though it has been really interesting.  The first week, well I didn't really do much of anything except walk around town, eat, drink and sleep.  The second week started on the bike and some runs and EVERYTHING still hurt. But all of that dissipated by the third week where all of my workouts were relatively short but had some ass kicking intensity thrown into them.  My longest run was the Sunday before last when I did the loop from the apartment, up Sunnyside Trail, to Hunter Creek and then down.  It took 3.5 hours and was a long day on trails.  That ended a 45 mile week of running too.

I am relaxed and definitely more confident than I have been in quite some time. I have no delusions or misconceptions that this race is going to be an easy one.  Not by a long shot, but my plan is to just go into this thing relaxed, keeps things conservative, but steady and just have a good time.

It is 100 miles... anything can happen. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A New Kind Of Limbo - Getting Back Into Running

I pretty much took all of last week off.  Rode for an hour at the ARC on Sunday and that was a challenge to keep the HR up in the MAF zone.  Legs were not too happy either.  Yesterday, Monday, I ran six miles, super slow and today I did eight with a bit more effort.

Structurally things feel about 90% there.  Still some tweaks here and there but overall okay.  Running the past two days was fun though as it was more about running than training.  There was some structure involved but more like framework than actual targets to hit during the run.

But this phase I am in now... recovering from Leadville and staring down Run Rabbit Run in just over two weeks.  I am recovering, resting, tapering, all the while prepping for a race, a long race, just right around the corner.  I've never done back to back 100's a month apart so this is all new territory.

One of my concerns the past few months has always been what would my mental outlook be like between the 100's?  Would I be so beat down from the summer that RRR100 would just be this dark and ominous thing looming on the horizon or would I actually be able to get excited about it?  Thankfully it is the latter.  Actually I started getting excited about the run in Steamboat BEFORE the 100 bike even.  Now I am really looking forward to it.

It is something new and there are other twists.  No pacers, no crew and I doing it totally solo.  That adds a new level of adventure to it all.

More awesome good news!  I have a contract on the house now and it is set to close on the 12th.  So, I am going to have to go to Colorado Springs next week and be there all week getting the rest of the stuff out of the house.  The final pages to the chapters or book of my life of living in Colorado Springs is finally - after all of these years coming to a complete close.  I look forward to no longer being bound energetically to that place and not having any more ties whatsoever.  A complete and total clean break. 

I was digging through my files earlier today looking for a document for a colleague of mine and I ran across this.  A few months ago a college professor in Denver asked me to write something for her and her class about running after a break.  I enjoyed reading it as it spoke to me today in the sense that I need to be careful about everything I do the next two - three weeks, especially in the expectations department.  Enjoy.


Getting back into running after an extended break due to injury, illness, or in some cases, just life, can be both challenging and discouraging.  If you take into consideration the average runner can become 100% detrained in about twelve weeks it is easy to see that it just does not take long until you find yourself at square one and starting over.

As a general rule, it takes about two weeks of running to make up for one week lost to get back to a certain level of fitness.  For example, if I caught a cold and that kept me from running for two weeks solid, I could expect it to take four weeks after starting again to be back to where I left off.

Here are some rules and guidelines to consider when starting running again.

  1. If you had to stop running because of an injury make sure that you are healed and ready to run again.  If you can not walk without pain or the without aggravating the injury keep taking time off.  When you can walk without pain then try to run.
  2. Walking is good if you are injured and can walk pain free but can not run pain free.  A few years ago I was injured in a marathon in mid March and could not run more than three miles at a time without my knee completely giving me fits.  However, I could walk pain free, so that is what I did, every day.  Instead of running the miles for my workouts, I walked and after seven weeks when I could run again I felt pretty good and estimated that through those seven weeks of just walking that I was able to keep at least 80% of my fitness.
  3. Be realistic.  If you dropped a sub 40 10K last summer but have taken a few months off since, don’t expect to automatically be able to do duplicate that effort, speed and pace from the get go.  Set realistic goals for your self.
  4. Be patient.  This goes along with being realistic.  Don’t beat yourself up for being slower or if you are not able to run as far as you previously were.  It takes time to build a base.
  5. Be kind to yourself.  This follows up and includes both being realistic and being patient.  Again, don’t beat yourself up but rather be glad that you can run and for wherever you may fall on the fitness scale.
  6. Do not try to do too much too soon.  Don’t try to log a heaping ton of miles your first week back after an extended break.  That is just inviting an overuse injury.  The same goes for intensity.  Start off slow and warm up slowly and allow yourself to time to cool off too.  This will also prevent burnout and the need for taking more time off.
  7. Focus on staying within your aerobic zone when first starting over.  Dr. Phil Mafetone wrote the book, literally, on heart rate based training and how to use it to stay healthy.  When starting over it is best to stay in zone two to rebuild the aerobic engine and base fitness.  “Nobody ever gets injured in their aerobic zone.”
  8. Observe the rest day and keep it holy.  You only become stronger after stressing the body and allowing it to adapt to that stress and that only happens when you are resting.  Make sure you get lots of sleep.
  9. Be aware of any overtraining symptoms and adjust accordingly.  Look out for maybe a depressed mood, inability to sleep, elevated resting heart rate and loss of appetite.  If you feel like you were making progress and all of the sudden feel as if you are going in the opposite direction, take an unplanned day or two off to unload the accumulated fatigue.  If you keep running the only thing you will end up doing is running yourself into the ground.
  10. Even though we might like to think we could, 99.9% of runners are not paid to run.  It’s not our job which puts food on the table.  Keep this in perspective if you become frustrated.  This is what you do for fun and enjoyment, don’t forget that.  If the fun goes out of running it is a sign that something is amiss.  Pay attention to that.
  11. Running can be a cruel sport in the sense that what we love, running, usually causes our injuries and the only way to get over those injuries is to refrain from doing what we love.  But running should be about health and wellness and not just about medals and PR’s.  Don’t forget; never go to the start line injured.  Being tired is okay, and maybe being a little under trained is okay, but starting a race injured is just asking for problems which could result in more time off.
  12. Assuming there are no injuries or other outstanding issues, consistency is key.  Stick to your training plan and stick to your rest days.  Don’t try to get creative switching runs and days around if you don’t understand the impact it could have. Just try to have one good training day at a time, one good training week at a time and after you string a few good weeks together, that’s when you are doing something.

After more then twenty years of running these are the 12 things that I always consider after a break or even during a breakdown in training.  When working with athletes I can usually narrow a problem down to one of the items above unless there are other issues such as nutrition, hydration or just a lot of life stress.  Follow these guidelines and you should have a fun and healthy experience in running and training be it for a 5K, The Marathon, or any other distances.

Andy Wooten
Life Coach and Author

Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Pass SWAG Run Rabbit Run Pace Chart

Since nothing like this exists that I could find I sat down and sort of doped this out.  I didn't include EVERY single aid station for Run Rabbit Run as there are so many so I chose to just do splits for the larger chunks.

I am in the Tortoise category and supposedly the fastest in that group should come in around 24 hours so I just started from there using the predicted times based on the 2014 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile distance and aid station guide.

My goal is to finish in under 30 hours for this one.  Based on my LT100 finish time, I could come in around 28.5 hours so that is why I have that split.  But I computed the rest in 1.5 hour increments all the way from 24 to 30 hours just to have more information.  I included the 36 hours predicted splits in case things really go sideways.  I did not compute anything between 30 and 36 because after 30 hours the ratios begin to get too wonky for me to want to fiddle with.

Anyway, it's more of a guideline I guess than a hard super detailed split chart but I think it is accurate and usuable and can at least give someone a guide of where they might be if they are on pace for under 30 hours.
Rudimentary, but I think it is at least a good guide to start from.
Still recovering this week.  Lots of walking but nothing else. My left knee (MCL) is the last  thing that seems to really be bugging me but it is getting better.  Seems worse in the mornings than in the afternoon and evenings.  I suspect it will only be angry for another couple of days and will go away.  Headed to the ARC to go spin on the bike for a bit and get the blood flowing again.

Running to Glenwood this evening to run errands and soak at the hot springs.  That will be nice!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Picking Up the Pieces

Two Leadman Trophies.  Two Awesome Summers.
The week after Leadville is always messy.  Lots of gear and stuff to sort, put away, wash, put away, etc.  Even with my minimal amount of stuff it is still a chore that takes time. But it is nice having the apartment look like the apartment rather than a running/cycling shop that puked up all over itself.

No running yet this week and that has been nice.  I log into Training Peaks each day and I really enjoy seeing the sea of nothing on the horizon for the near future.  That won't last long as I have to start gearing up for Run Rabbit Run but between now and then it will only be active recovery and hell, a taper if  you will.

Eating like a fiend this week too.  What else is new. Not sure how much of it is post 100 miler eating or how much of it is I don't care and just want to eat.  Regardless, I am enjoying that too!  :)  

Post Leadman II thoughts... First of all.  I could have never done this without the full support and buy in from Melissa and Annie.  I dragged them through the ringer last summer with the first go around.  And even though I tried to minimize their direct involvement this year I know it was drag on them as well. They endured months, especially since March with me fretting, planning, training, whining, scheming, etc.  No way could I have done my first Leadman without them, doubly so for this one.

Leadman II... it was hard.  A lot harder than I remember last year being.  For starters it was a lot more stressful.  See... to do Leadman once, you have to finish five out of five races.  To pull it off twice, ten out of ten.  In my mind that drove up the risk of something happening during a race to knock me out exponentially.  Especially when it comes to the bike where the risks are even greater when things like wrecks, bad mechanicals, or something like that can just happen.  So a lot of stress there.

The first time I had a certain amount of excitement fueled by the fear of the unknown that I did not have this year.  I believe that had an impact as well. I just never felt as "fired up" as last year.  Other factors play in here as well, as last year we had a really solid core of athletes training together and supporting each other from June until the Finish.  This year, not so much.

This year has has also been a major life change year for me.  Moving, changing careers, going into business for myself, each of those being great things but I know the stress from all of that weighed me down considerably regardless of how much I tried to minimize that truth from myself. I don't think it hampered my races but it was just more on the mind, at least in the back of the mind.

Do I think I could have done better this year?   No.  I gave each race in the series my best and walked away from each one knowing that.  I might not have done as well I wanted but I did my best.  I just want to be clear that I am not making any excuses for anything or sitting here lamenting over what I fucked up, or was fucked up, etc.  I don't have any excuses or reasons for excuses.  I'm not looking back going, "only if..."

As a personal growth journey is concerned, I believe I gained WAY more from the series this year than last.  Many lessons in patience, humility (not humiliation), and being humble, were gained from this summer.  Also a very renewed sense of gratitude just for my life and all of the wonderful things that I am able to do and can do. 

There will not be a third go at Leadman.  At least not anytime soon.  Two years back to back with basically everyday consumed by it was a lot to go through and endure. I want to do other things now and focus on other races.  Run Rabbit Run for instance, as well as hoping to get into Hardrock next summer.  But past that, there are so many cool races over here on the West Slope and just around here in Aspen to keep me plenty busy, both on the mountain bike and running.

I have five LT100 Run finishes now and I am happy with that.  Not saying that I will never go back.  I've learned that lesson.  But I can't see myself going back for a bit.  Like I said I want to do other things.  I love Leadville, I love the races, but it is time for a break after running races up there for seven years.  The 1000 mile buckle has never been in the plan and even though I am halfway there right now it still does not resonate with me.

The newest addition is on the far right.  I think I have enough Leadville Buckles now.  Especially considering I would never wear any of them! 
My second Leadman finish, my second Big Buckle in the run and finishing tenth overall in Leadman seems to me to be the perfect time and way to walk away.  I'm good with that.

Time to eat...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Leadville Trail 100 Run

Hugging Merilee at the LT100 Finish and getting my medal  24:51:25.  JT was still on the Powerlines busy getting chicked by Amanda.
Saturday was the fifth and final race of the 2014 Leadman Series.  The Leadville Trail 100 Run.

In short it started out fine but once I started running down the powerlines, everything just started to feel off.  It was then that I started to suspect that I was feeling the effects from the bike ride the week before.

By the time I hit the Outward Bound Aid Station (Formerly Fish  Hatchery) everything really began to unravel on me.  Pretty much everything from the waist down just felt shattered.  My mood, energy level, general outlook on life, all of that just evaporated.

I have never been in a dark spot like that for so long and so early in a race.  The next 16 miles to Twin Lakes was just pure hell.  I got myself through it but damned if I know how.  When I arrived at Twin Lakes at mile 40 I was just a total wreck.  All I wanted to do was to crawl under some shady spot and cry and wish it all away.  I got to Twin Lakes in about 7:45, about a half hour off of where I wanted to be.

Melissa did a great job "handling me" and getting me to where she was set up.  She was stern yet empathetic as she pretty much just ordered me to keep my shit together.  She asked me if I wanted anything past what I needed to pick up and I said ibuprofen and a Mountain Dew.  I took three of the IB's and slammed the Mountain Dew before leaving the parking lot.  Now to jog across the clearing to start the climb up hope pass.

I was able to start motoring again and by the time I was to the river crossing after going through some other deep water crossings I was starting to feel a lot better.  Actually I was looking forward to the climb up Hope Pass as it doesn't wreck  havoc with me like most.

I had left Twin Lakes in 194th place.  When I got to Winfield I was in 119th.  Things were getting better.

I picked up my pacer Paul D. at Winfield and we did not waste anytime getting out of there.  Annie had taken him there while Melissa had stayed at Twin Lakes.  I told Annie to tell Melissa that I was definitely feeling better.

Paul and I had a great climb and descent off of Hope Pass.  It was bout halfway down to Twin Lakes that I started to do some math in my head.  We would be hitting Twin Lakes about about 15 hours.  I was kicking it around in my mind wondering if we could do a sub 10 hour return the last forty miles back to town.  I was definitely feeling better and was seriously considering this.

So I broached the subject with Paul.  He thought it was doable.  We would just not have any room for error, or time to waste stopping and anything that was runnable would have to be ran. Period.  We started hatching our plan and figuring out what to do.  There would be no real stopping at Twin Lakes on the inbound now.  The tape job on my feet seemed to be holding up so no need to waste time changing shoes, socks, tape, etc.  Of course that introduced some risk as I did not know if the tape job could hold another 40 miles.  But by the time we were at the river crossing we had decided to go all in.  We were out of Twin Lakes at 15:05 and I was in 106th place.

Of course we would have been plenty safe enough to just cruise in and take it easy to finish in the 27 hour range possibly, but with the prospect of actually getting the big buckle out there, even with the ridiculously narrow time margins, made it a race again and not just a run.

Paul and I ran our asses off and by the time we were back at Outward Bound, I was in 82nd place and 18:16 into the race.  This was where I picked up my pacer Jeff M who would take me the rest of the way in.  Melissa had already briefed Jeff that this was going to be an all out effort so when I got him he knew what the game was pretty much.  Except for hiking up the Powerlines, Jeff and I ran pretty damned near the entire rest of the course all the way to town.  We left Mayqueen with about 3:20 left in order to come in under the 25 hour mark.  We knew it wasn't going to be easy but we pushed it.  We made that in 3:13.

And I pulled it off in the end.  86th overall and  24:51:25.  Another big buckle and Leadman #2 done.

But this run... this magical last 40 miles was unlike anything I have ever accomplished. It was a gamble on so many levels.  But it was also a black and white, pass or fail situation.  Binary.  Either we pulled it off or we didn't.  There was no room for close, almost, or maybe.

And it was fun.  Fun in that weird sort of way.  My pacers could have coddled and babysat me for the last forty miles and we could have been relaxed and just goofed off and still got it done.  Little did they know they would be part of much bigger effort.  I am guessing it put a bit of pressure on them but it also made things more interesting I am sure.

I don't think I have ever been more proud of a run and for me putting it all out there than this one. Ever.

I will do another write up about finishing the Leadman Series. It was definitely different doing it a second time.

Here are the aid stations, my placement, and splits for the run.

MQ    114 2:08:26
OB    147 4:27:37
HP     153 5:38:41
TL     194 7:45:04
HP    133 9:53:58
Win   119 11:15:35
HP     93 13:24:11
TL     106 15:05:26
HP     96 17:03:48
OB     82 18:16:30
MQ    82  21:38:36
Pb      86 24:51:25

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


This is starting to look like a problem... I aim to expand the Pb buckle collection by one more come Sunday.  They are actually in order of the year that I raced.  I am particularly fond of the old school LT100 buckle on the far left.  
Still powering up from the weekend.  It is a slow process for me.

Yesterday, Monday, just rode the bike around town running errands and getting some things done.  Took it real easy just to get things moving again as that was the only goal.

Today, sort of the same thing, just a walk with Asia, walking to run some other errands and then I did an easy 20 minute MAF run just in the neighborhood around the blocks around the house.  Kept it flat and simple.   For the most part everything feels fine.  Okay, maybe not fine, my legs are still tired and I am still tired, but nothing hurts in a sinister like fashion to cause me any concern.  I feel like I am really right where I am supposed to be.

I do know that things hurt a lot more last year at this point.  My right knee area especially as I was icing and compressing it like crazy the 48 hours before the run.  This year none of that is going on.  I do wish that I remember what my energy level was like the days before so I could compare it to this year.  If I had to guess I was probably just as tired as I am now.  I just wish I had written some notes to reference.

I am definitely looking forward to getting back up to Leadville in two days.  The bike race is fun and all of that but the crowd, the participants, the mood, and energy of the two events is totally different.  The run is just more authentic in my opinion, the runners more mellow, and the overall experience just a lot more relaxed. 

Now for a twisted POV on the big picture... this week?  Yes it is the LT100 run, and yes it is the last event in the Leadman race series... but it is also my last BIG training week before Run Rabbit Run 100.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

LT 100 MTB And 10K Weekend

Races three and four of the Leadman series are now over and in the books.  I am back home in Aspen and sitting on the couch where I pretty much plan to reside until going back to Leadville next Thursday before the LT 100 Run.

Going into this weekend I had a lot of mixed feelings about the bike race.  I just had no clue how it would go one way or the other and to be honest it wasn't until about five minutes before the race started that my head actually got 100% into the game.

Taking everything this year into consideration I knew that I was definitely strong enough to finish the damned thing. No doubts there, but what that would actually look like I didn't have the foggiest idea.

But something clicked right before the start and I decided to go for it.  Go for sub nine and see how I feel.  I had the splits in my head and knew what I needed to do.  The question then came to execution.  Did I have the balls to pass people on the hard road before getting to the first dirt road section?  Could I sustain that agressive effort around the pasture for another 2.5 miles to the base of St. Kevins and not cook myself?  How about the Powerline?  If I got out front with faster and better riders could I manage that drop and not wreck?

As I said I decided to go for it.  Standing there waiting for the start I realized that I was maybe only 10% as stressed about it all as I was last year at the start.  My courage, optimism, confidence and all of that finally showed up.  The gun went off and so did we.

The ride from the start to the top of St. Kevins was nothing like last year.  I was calm, comfortable, and fast.  Way faster than last year.  We were at the top of that first big climb really before I realized it.  I was shocked.  As for the powerlines, I had my best ride down there ever from the top of Sugarloaf to the bottom road in 15 minutes.  I've never ridden it as smoothly as yesterday, EVER.

I made pipeline right at 2:17 I think.  Perfect.  I kept the pressure on all the way to Twin Lakes and beyond and began my ascent up Columbine.

This was definitely one of those cases where it was definitely going great until it wasn't.  Once we started up the Columbine climb my right quad started cramping.  If I would stand on the pedal or if I was mashing the pedal with too much force it would scream.  It was on the inside of my right quad right above the knee and I have never had that happen before.

But it was manageable.  I could feel it coming on, hop off the bike, push the bike, let it relax, hop back on and keep going.  This is where I started losing time.

But the down trip from Columbine!  It was awesome!  Smooth and fast. Sub 9 was out the window but I was definitely in the Sub 10 range.

Between Twin Lakes and the Pipeline Aid Station I was doing great and making great time.  Still had to be aware of the right leg cramping but it wasn't acting up too bad.  But once we made that left turn out of the trees and started heading straight towards the Pipeline Aid Station was where we got the first blast of wind.

This wasn't your typical Leadville afternoon out of the north headwind that is so common.  No, this was a horrendous force coming from the north and west depending on the moment.  The ride from there to Fish Hatchery where I was back in the trees was worse than dealing with any sort of cramping issue that I might have been having and probably cost me more time.  I could not wait to get to Powerline, get off the bike, push some and be out of that damned wind.  Sub 10 was definitely out the window now.  Still had the cramping thing going up the Powerlines, but I just managed it the best I could.

The rest of the race went well.  I passed and caught up with a ton of people the last 13 miles or so.  I don't think I really backed off any.  My finishing time was 10:13:25.  A full 15 minutes faster than last year.  I am good with that.  But that damned race is hard.  There just is not any other way to describe it.

But I am still learning.  After all this was my fourth bike race ever.  I learned some really important things yesterday.  1.  I can ride fast.  I do actually have that potential. Now I just have to learn  how to sustain it!  2.  My skills and comfort level on the bike are so way beyond where I was last year.  3.  In a long race like yesterday, sometimes just getting out of it alive is a pretty damned good thing.  That might be second only to the confidence and knowledge that you can actually do it as well.

Today was the 10K.  I took it easy and just ran it with my heart rate capped in zone 2, MAF.  It wasn't bad and I ran okay.  There doesn't seem to be any real residual damage from yesterday, just a crap ton of fatigue.  Actually when it was over I felt better.  I think the 10K really isn't that hard, but the thought of having to do it is just worse than actually having to do it.  Since I took it easy I was about five minutes slower than last year.  No biggie.

So now on to the big show!  The Leadman Finale!  Only 100 miles now separate me from my second Leadman Trophy and my fifth LT100 run finisher buckle. 

Bring it on!

After a lot of rest this week of course!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Think I'm Done Now. Really.

The bike on top of Taylor Pass after riding up Express Creek Road.
Monday was a day off and I certainly needed it after the long day on Saturday and some light walking around and a short ride on Sunday.  Yesterday though I had an awesome long (in duration) run up Midnight Mine Road to the summit of Aspen Mountain (Ajax) and road the gondola down.  The first hour wasn't so great but as I got higher up Midnight Mine Road I started to feel just fine.

Ran the entire thing, kept everything in check and in the MAF range.  8.95 miles with 3976 feet of gain.  Felt solid the entire run... well, except for the warmup that is.  My brain is becoming engaged now and thinking of "other things" past Leadman.  Definitely a good sign.

The route from the apartment up to the Sundeck.  It was pretty rainy from mile five on.  Glad to ride the Gondola down!
Today was to be a long ride. With all the rain we have been getting it was rather sketch if I could pull it off or not.  Fortunately the weather held, I mean it rained some and it did get wet for a spell but nothing nearly as bad as it could have been.

Ambitious would best describe my plan for today's ride.  My goal was to leave the apartment, head up to Ashcroft via Castle Creek Road, catch Express Creek Road up to Taylor Pass then Richmond Ridge Road North all the way to the top of Aspen Mountain then just bomb down Aspen Mountain on Summer Road.  My goal time for all of this was five hours.  I did it in 5:21 and that includes a good portion of dicking around time and even stopping once to clean the chain and re-lube it.  I made the Sundeck right at five hours... it only took me 21 minutes to get down off the mountain and home.  I was flying!

Anyway, 34.38 miles, 8107 feet in gain and I did it in 5:21:32.  Avg elevation was 10585 for the day.

Today's loop up to Taylor Pass and back to Aspen.  I rode it counterclockwise.
And for s's and g's, here is the elevation profile for today's ride.
The past two days have been huge confidence builders for me.  I am going to need all that I can get to get through the next three weeks.   As far as the bike goes, today proved to me that I am more than strong enough to finish the 100.  Speed?  Well, I'm just going to have to wait and see how that plays out for me on the 9th. I'm still working on the bugs in the programming...

But past all of this?  There is still RRR100 in Steamboat on the 13th of September.  THAT is actually my endgame for the summer.  Survive the next three weeks, recover and then do what I have to do to get ready for that race.

Really RRR100 has been lodged waaay back in the back of my mind these past few months, even if I did register in January.  But now it is slowly moving to the forefront which is good.  It's another sign of my confidence rising.  I can look past the next three weeks and see myself on the other side and then getting ready for Steamboat.  Actually I am starting to look forward to RRR100.  Again, another good sign.

But for now, I am done.  For the next 17 days or so, no more big workouts.  No more big runs, and no more big rides.  The past three months at least I feel as if I have been on the ragged edge of training, always exhausted and always fatigued.  It has shown in my races for sure.  But now I am feeling way stronger, not as fatigued, and with this window of rest opening up for me now I can't see my confidence, my ambition, my drive, and my optimism going in any direction except for up.

Nope... no last minute desperation training here... :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Four Pass Loop And A Lot Of Other Fun Stuff For The Week

This has probably been the most fun week of the summer.  A lot of training but a lot of time and opportunity to do some fun stuff the past week and a half as well.

Snowmass Lake looking east from the second pass, Trail Rider Pass.
The big day was yesterday doing the Four Pass Loop in the Maroon Bells Wilderness Area.  This run has been on the docket for several months at least.  I had the idea to do it then when I was in the Springs, Paul D. brought it up at lunch one day that he and Shannon wanted to do it.  I hatched the plan to do it in late July when the passes were clear and hoped to get in as a long training day as well.  In the end there were four of us in the party, Shannon, Paul, my friend Jeff here in Aspen and myself.

The Four Pass Loop... all I can say really is that if you have not ever done it is well worth the effort.  It is hard.  My GPS showed 27.5 miles of travel with 9,286 feet in gain.  The average elevation of the day was 11,193 feet. 

It is remote wilderness so everything that you might need you will need to carry with you.  I had a full daypack with enough gear to stay out overnight if it came to it.  I just prefer to be prepared.  I had two handhelds (22 oz each) and a 100oz bladder all full when we started.  When we were done I was down to my last five sips out of the bladder.  Just enough.

As as I said it was difficult.  The climbs were steep, the descents seemed even more steep.  We did the loop counter-clockwise and doing the passes in order of Buckskin Pass, Trail Rider Pass, Frigid Air Pass, then lastly West Maroon Pass which is followed by a very long, very long, VERY LONG, seven to eight mile descent back down to Maroon Lake and the start.

All that I could think about all day was it felt like I was doing Hope Pass, over and over and over again.  Both sides.  All day.

The first pass, Buckskin was a steep climb and felt like the steepest one of the day.  The drop down into the next valley surprised me.  I failed to really grasp that portion of the elevation profiles that I had studied and was under the assumption that the trail stayed higher than it did on the way over to Trail Rider Pass.
The drop of the back side of Buckskin Pass.  Photo by Jeff Marshall.
The climb up Trail Rider pass did not seem that bad.  I think mostly because about halfway up the climb you are treated with just awe inspiring views of Snowmass lake.  It definitely took the sting out.
Shanon, Paul, and Jeff taking a break on top of Trail Rider Pass.  Snowmass lake is in the background.
The descent off of Trail Rider pass gave me the most fits.  Lots of loose rocks and very steep.  I don't know how many times I slipped on the way down and I even busted my ass once really good.

Approaching Frigid Air pass was forever long.  There was an awesome waterfall along the way but past that the trail ascended slowly through winding willow thickets no view of the pass to be seen which left me wondering just where in the hell we were going.  But once I saw the pass it was startling as it was a very steep climb with switchbacks up out of the valley.

An amazing waterfall on the approach to Frigid Air Pass.
Between Frigid Air and West Maroon Pass is the shortest segment of the day between passes.  It only took us 54 minutes to get from one to the other and it was probably the most runnable section of the day.  The final climb up West Maroon was very steep again.

Shannon, Paul and myself sitting up on West Maroon Pass before our final descent.  Photo by Jeff Marshall.
Lastly the final descent or home stretch back to Maroon Lake.  Being tired and the nature of the trail made it very slow going.  That section actually ate a lot more time than I was expecting but we just did it one mile at a time until we were done.

But leading up to Saturday we had a really fun week. Monday we went white water rafting on the Roaring Fork. It was my first time on the water in probably 12 years, and 15 years after my "accident" up on Clear Creek.  It was a lot of fun and although we were in a raft as opposed to a kayak, I was surprised to just how well I could read the river and how natural it felt.  The day left me wondering if I might want to start kayaking again.  The jury is still out on that as of yet.

Tuesday evening we went to a very nice birthday picnic at the East Maroon Portal.  Wednesday, Melissa and I took the Jeep up Express Creek out of Ashcroft up to Taylor Pass then made our way back to Aspen via Richmond Ridge Road.  We also got to see the newest Planet of the Apes movie this week and that was awesome!

The Jeep up on top of Taylor Pass.
Training wise it has been a good week.  Good runs and good rides both.  It is good to be home in Aspen and getting to ride and run trails that are not clear most of the year.