Sunday, June 29, 2014

In Leadville

It's been a pretty good week this past week.  Lots of good training to be sure.  So many things have happened that I'd like to write about but I am pretty wiped and the creative/writing part of me is not too communicative right now. 

Thursday was awesome 47 mile ride over St. Kevins, up and over Sugarloaf and down the Power Lines, then turned around and went back the way I came.  That climb on St. Kevins did not get any easier over the past year. 

Saturday was a nice 26 mile run with my friend Jeff from Aspen.  He made the trek over to run something different.  It was nice to have the company.

Today was a 20 miler that sort of went to hell about mile 16 and stayed that way until the last mile.  I was able to make the last mile have some quality to it.  Damned glad when that run was over.

Acclimating to Leadville air seems to be more challenging than in the past.  But I have had two really good nights of sleep the past two nights so that tells me that things are starting to normalize.

I'll be here another week and will head back to Aspen next Sunday.  The Trek has an appointment at Velo Cycles next Monday to get tuned up and race ready for the 12th.

8:36 on the bike.  11:26 running.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting. Leadville Trail Marathon

Photo by Brandon Fuller.  I look happy... it's a lie! 

My favorite quote from the movie A Knight's Tale.

That was pretty much the line repeating itself in my head on the drive home this evening.  Today was pretty much without a doubt one of the toughest races I have ever ran in my life, ever.  From the word go it was hard and it never got easier.  My finishing time was 5:38:53.  Not what I was shooting for today... not by a long shot.

The course was rerouted due to snow around Ball Mountain. It felt a lot tougher than in past years.  But to be honest I just checked the Garmin data and the vertical gain between the standard course and this years course is damned near identical. So what gives?  If I had to guess it is the nature of the gain instead of the gain itself.  A couple places I swear were 20% grade. Stupid steep!

Last years marathon was like a dream. Yes it was tough, the Leadville Marathon I believe is probably the toughest Marathon around.  I'd put it against Pikes any day but this is just my personal opinion.  But last  year it was fun in spots.  I know I definitely ran more (again the nature of the course) and I laughed and goofed off.  Yeah, there was none of that shit today.  Back to the nature of the course, it just felt more like a hiking course than a running course... even some of the downhills proved troublesome for me today.  I believe though that even given my rough day, if the course were on the standard course I probably would have run last years time.  That means something to me.

But I will not put it all on the course.  I can't do that.  Me... well, if I had to sum it up, I would say that I was prepared but I definitely was not ready.  That little switch never clicked this week where I was pumped and excited and raring to go.  I wouldn't say that I was "flat" at the start but the idea of the day was definitely daunting.  Any confidence, optimism, ambition, and positivity was all self-generated this week by me.  None of just came to me naturally through the rest/preparation phase of the past week. 

The low points or challenges of the day... My HR was maxed from the go and I had to go with it.  To slow down anymore would have reduced me to a crawl.  There was a nasty (for me descent) that was about 1.25 miles long starting at mile 5 which sort of slowed me down.  I am slow on downhills... Cautious.  I did laugh at folks bombing down it as I don't think they realized there were so many other drops to smoke their quads on later in the race.  I also knew that particular drop which would be a climb in the inbound would be a total bitch.  And it was. Mosquito Pass... it wasn't bad going up except I think they make it longer every year.  Coming down once in the really runnable parts it was super muddy and slippery.  More self-preservation skills kicked in here.  Overall, some days you have it and some days you don't.  That's the nature of racing pure and simple and I have to say today was a day I didn't have it.  I think the nature of the course lended itself a lot more to hiking than running for me today.

But there were cool things too.  Ken Chlouber was at the top of Mosquito Pass and he gave me props for being a Leadman and fist bumped me.  It does my heart good to see him out there knowing that he not only loves it but also cares for each and every athlete out there.  Paul Doyle was out there and getting to check in with him around miles 10 and 16 and getting my fresh fuel bottles from him helped a lot.  But I guess the greatest thing thing about me for the day is that as tough as it was, I ran smart and I never let up, ever.  God knows I wanted to so many times.  As I told JT at the top of  Mosquito Pass, "The tach has been pegged all morning." That never changed despite the output. I know I did my best and that is regardless of outcome.  And even though I may be disappointed, I can sleep well knowing that.  It was also cool to leave Leadville after dinner with Paul and be home in Aspen in just an hour and half.  That in and of itself, being home with Melissa and Asia is beyond priceless.

I got through today unscathed, unbloodied and intact.  Things could have been different.  Yet more reasons to celebrate.

Four weeks now until the 50 MTB race.  That will be my next focus and I will have to put today out of my mind, or just make peace with it and move on.  Leadman is nine weeks long this year.  It is a war of attrition. One race, hell, even two that don't go stellar are not show stoppers for someone like me who is mid-pack'ish.  I have a feeling that I can make up the time lost today, and then some, in four weeks if all goes well.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fine Tuning

There only three days between now and my first race of the season for me and the first race of the Leadman series.  All of the work that could have been done is done so now it is time to rest, focus on smaller quality workouts, rest some more, and prepare to execute the plan come Saturday morning.

The past three to four weeks have been kind of bumpy.  I had a situation a few weeks ago where I just did way too much downhill running/pounding, too fast down Independence Pass on the pavement then another punishing run down Smuggler that got my knees pissed at me.  Basically running to fast and over striding leading to less stability when I would plant my foot which in turn just tweaked things a little.   That took a few days to remedy.

Then the last two weeks a lot of discomfort in both Achilles tendons.  I am not sure of the direct cause of this but it was accentuated by running up a lot of steep grades causing my calves to tighten up.  I could work through the discomfort on the runs until things loosened back up but post run my ankles and tendons would not feel all that great.

Fatigue has been an issue as well and it is still a bit present.  A symptom of that could be seen in my attitude and approach to yesterday's ride. It was to be just a short ride with some three minute max efforts thrown in but in my mind it felt like I was going out for a four to six hour grind.  But the ride went exceptionally well once I got going and even better is that the Trek is starting to feel more natural to me to ride now.  Again. I am getting used to the extra two pounds or so of bike weight and am able to climb better with it now.

So basically some structural issues due to training and then just the tiredness of training have been nagging at me.   The structural issues are gone so now just to unload fatigue and all will be fine.

The last issue and the subject of this entire writing though is weight.  I have been less than strict about diet this winter and spring but it was with a purpose.  I haven't gotten fat, or doughy, or soft so much but I have increased in weight with the addition of more lean mass.  But by eating a lot, more like a weight lifter than a skinny ass runner, I have also had more quality workouts, I recover more quickly and I don't have workouts where the tank is just empty and I have to suffer through them.  I knew what I was doing.

But the weight thing I am overly conscious of.  I have been told and teased that I am worse than most teenage girls when it comes to my weight and that is true.  A nice thing (I guess) about our apartment here in Aspen is that it is fully carpeted so I have gotten out of the habitual act of weighing myself every morning.  To get an accurate reading on the scale,  I need to go down to the garage and place it on a hard surface which doesn't exactly fit into the flow of most mornings. Because of that I don't always have day to day insight to what my weight is doing.  My clothes have been fitting right, and I haven't felt like I have gained a lot but I have.  I weighed in earlier last week and I was shocked at the numbers on the scale.  Shocked.  (I am heavier than Brooks is, again.)

So more fine tuning.   Diet.  Watch the calories diligently and more importantly be more aware of what I am eating rather than how much.  That always has more impact than just calories.  So for the past week or two, gone are all of the pleasurable and comfort foods that I like to indulge in.  I won't go over the list... I've written enough about it in the past.

And of course the weight is dropping just like it should.  So as in weight lifting or body building parlance, I have gone from a bulking cycle and am now in a cutting cycle.  It is one thing to know what to eat and not to eat for better results but a completely different thing to execute that plan. Now I am completely dedicated to the execution.  For the rest of the summer.

On Sunday I had the luxury of riding indoors.  I say luxury because when I get to ride indoors I can think as I have to do everything possible to keep my mind occupied as it doesn't have to focus on not getting killed so much.  It was then that I acknowledged that food does make me happy.  As I am sure it does for a lot people.  And not that I want to be miserable but I have definite goals for this summer and I have to be aware, daily, of what I want to get done.  Sure a milk shake today would be awesome, but I have to put that in context with, yeah, but, dropping X amount of time in X race will make me even happier.

So the fine tuning now is mental and in reprogramming my brain and body to what I consume on a daily basis.  Do I want a soda or do I want to be the very best version of myself than I can be this summer?  All I can say is that I am going to strive for the latter rather than the former.  Of course I plan to be reasonable and allow myself a treat every once in awhile.  I WILL have a Mountain Dew after the race on Saturday and hell, maybe even a Snickers bar but that will be the exception rather than the rule.

As of this morning I am happy to report that I weighed in less than I did for last years LT100 run so I am definitely moving the numbers in the right direction.  At 46 I might only have this one shot at a super summer of racing and I don't want to blow it.  I want to run and ride every race knowing that I have done my absolute best and not have any lingering questions after.  Just like last year.  The bar has been raised significantly by Lucho in my training this year and I have met that  head on.  Now it is time for me to raise the bar even more in regards to my daily routines and habits to be in alignment with the work I have done and the output I expect.  It's not a big deal... just some tweaking and fine tuning on my part.

Unrelated to running... Tomorrow is Annie's 20th Birthday and I will never be able to fully express the joy in having such a wonderful daughter who makes me so proud of her every day in so many ways.  If I was EVER blessed it was the day that she came into my life and in every day since watching her grow up into the beautiful person (inside and out) that she is today.

1997.  Annie is almost three and playing in my boat in the living room.  Ever the fearless kid who has taught me more than I have taught her I think at times.  Happy Birthday Pooh!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mosquito Pass - Leadville Marathon Course Conditions

A surprise storm rolled in when Asia and I were hiking up towards Mosquito Pass.  Not quite summer yet.
As planned we made a quick trip over to Leadville this afternoon to see what things looked like on the course for the Marathon next weekend.  The good news is there is not as much snow as I was suspecting and definitely a lot less snow than was up in that drainage this same weekend back in 2011 which was another huge snow year. 

I didn't get to check around Ball Mountain but I did get a picture.  I was hoping to get a better look but a storm blew in and reduced visibility to nill. There is snow on the eastern side as you can see in the photo.  On a good note though, the snowline is so high that the majority of the first ten miles I bet will be snow free.

Ball Mountain.  You can see the snowfield on the eastern facing shoulder.  Much of that will probably be there next weekend as it is a northern facing slope.
Mosquito Pass... well, there is snow and there is a lot of it from what I can tell.  I could not get a good look at what was above 12K really.  The road going up the pass is clear until I bet about a mile and half from the summit.  Being optimistic, this is a southern facing slope which will catch a lot of warm sunlight this next coming week and the majority of it could melt out.

The long view looking up the pass.  About mile 10.5 on the Marathon course.
A great deal of runoff coming down the road.  Asia isn't helping any.
Probably around mile 11.5 - 12 on the Marathon course.  This is the first major snow blockage on the road.  If we are lucky, even with partial melt off there should be snow-free paths on the sides of the road.

If I had to put money on it, knowing that they ran the course in 2011 when I think there was more snow I would wager that we will be running the regular course this coming weekend.  The forecast for Leadville between now and Saturday calls for 60+ degree days and plenty of sunshine during the week.  Race day, 68 and sunny which is going to feel warm. 

So there ya have it.  If I had more time and weather permitting I would have hung out more and gone up further but it wasn't in the cards for today.  After scouting around, Melissa and I went to the Grill and had dinner.  Damn it was good to be in Leadville again!

Okay week of training.  I have been feeling better as the week has progressed.  9:26 total training time for the week.  5:10 (32.3 miles) running and 4:16 on the bike.  I actually rode 1.5 of those biking hours indoors today as it was raining.  It was a nice break and fun to do something different.  Plus riding indoors goes a long ways towards keeping me out of trouble just six days from a race. 

Now to kick back and rest for the week.  I can NOT believe we are here already!  Woohoo!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bears And The Most Boring Blog On The Internet

The truth isn't lost on me that I have been writing less and less lately in my blog.  For some time now I have been only writing about once a week and even then it hasn't been anything earth shattering or illuminating.  Mostly it's just regurgitating the numbers from training the previous week.  Hell, it's even boring me to read and write about it but it is my life right now.

Scaled WAAAAAY BACK on training this past week.  The three weeks preceding this past week really put me in a hole I think.  So this past week has been very conservative in both volume and effort and even with it being a recovery week, every workout was a challenge.

The funny thing is that I don't think it was the week before last that did me as it was the week before that one.  So the training week ending on the 18th was the one that knocked me down.  That week followed by the quick round trip to the Springs and then the training week after that is what finished the job.  Plus I have had some "structural" issues pop up the past two weeks.  So fatigue and some sketchy tendon issues have sort of plagued me this past week.  That being said, I still put in some good hours this past week.  They were just carefully planned hours.

May turned out to be a good month though.  71 hours and 49 minutes of training.  35:25 running for a total of 210 running miles for the month.  Then 36:24 on the bike for 310 miles of riding. The total vertical I am not sure of but it has to be way up there.

So... bears.  They are out now here in Aspen.  I have seen two very close and personal the past week and found a huge pile of scat just today.  They aren't aggressive and I have seen enough bears in the wild to not freak out so it is kind of just neat to see them when I do.  I would post the pics but they are less than impressive.  Sort of blobsquatch'ish.  Hopefully I can get some better photos this week.

One week and six days until the Marathon.  Just judging from the snow I am hitting around here, I just can't see the marathon happening on the standard course.  I am planning a trip recon to Leadville next weekend or next Monday to check things out for myself.