Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My First Real Television Appearance

Yesterday I had the opportunity to be this week's featured guest on the Aspen Local's Show. I had a lot of fun doing it and working with Erik Skarvan, the host, beforehand. Obviously I haven't written too much in a while but this video from yesterday's show will catch you up on everything that has been going on.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Shameless Plea For Money! :)

Hello Everyone! The Summit for Life is only two weeks away! The past two years I have participated and raised money for the Chris Klug Foundation's Summit for Life Race up Aspen Mountain. This year I will not be able to participate because of scheduling conflicts. If you support organ and tissue donor awareness and you have contributed to my fund raising efforts in the past, I ask that you please consider sponsoring my friend Lori Kret who is doing this event this year. I would really appreciate it, especially since I can not be a part of it this year. Thanks!

Monday, November 9, 2015

It's All Good! Really!

I haven't written in ages, I know. Things have been busy, crazy, but all in a good way. Life is good.

Picking up more clients... good.

Enabled Enterprises is getting more business and jobs... good.

AND... I got the job as a snow maker on Aspen Mountain. We started officially making snow November 1st. It's an eight week gig and ends on December 20. My shift is Thursday through Sunday noon to midnight. So, four days on, three days off... GREAT!

I just finished my first four day rotation, and I have to tell you... I can't believe they even call this a job. For me it is exciting as there is so much to learn and I am basically in sponge-mode while I am on shift. Then add in the fact that you have no idea as to what to expect when you go out on a "gun run" or are turning things on or off.

It works perfectly as I can work with my clients Monday-Wednesday, take care of stuff for Enabled, then work the last part of the week on the mountain. Win. Win. Win.

And the guys I work with... such an amazing collection of characters. Being the new guy there is so much for me to learn but everyone is so helpful, supportive, and even patient.

As for running... well, not much of that going on. I tried to really push it the first three or four weeks after Run Rabbit Run but it just was not working. Physically all was fine, but mentally and emotionally I was not there. I decided three weeks ago that an extended break to let everything find its own level was in order.

I am really on the fence on if I will register for the HR100 lottery. I've explained it before but to be honest, after so many years of not getting in I have pretty much lost all interest in it. That being said, I am heavily leaning towards not putting in and just going on with my happy life as it is.  And to be  even more honest, with the way my life is right now (awesome) getting into HR100 would be more of a pain in the ass than I want to take on in the next several months.

Right now I think the perfect running season next year will be to nail Salida in March, Aspen Backcountry Marathon in June, and then focus on a 21-22 hour'ish finish in Leadville come August. Right now that line up and those three races resonate the most to me.

Snow making is a tough job and very physically demanding. That's part of the reason I wanted to do it. Hiking up a steep pitch in the snow in hard shell mountaineering boots at a decent clip for 50 yards is every bit as sapping as a hard 220 on a track... seriously. So I am planning on minimal running between now and the end of the year and then picking up again after the holidays, full tilt.

So there you have it... Still here... still kicking... :) 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Run Rabbit Run 100 And After

It has been a crazy busy week and I will get into that later... I haven't really wanted to write about Run Rabbit Run 100 because basically I am not sure what to write about... Just the good parts, include the rough spots (there were many), or not write about it all.  I'll just start and see what develops...

Going into the race I felt solid. Better than I have for any 100 that I have ever run. I had zero doubts in my mind that I was in shape to run it and even better, make a go of racing it. On a confidence level of 1-10, I was at an 11 and that is an awesome place to be. But it wasn't false bravado or wishful thinking... one look at my training log for the past three-four months and seeing not only the focused and precise work that I accomplished, but the fact that I was able to keep it together made me realize just how strong I was.

This was also one of the most enjoyable tapers for a 100 miler that I have ever had. With all of the solid work behind me it was just fun to know the "hay was in the barn" and my last two weeks of taper runs I could just enjoy and have some damned fun for a change.  I did have one day that I really felt like crap and I guess that was the Friday which was two weeks out from the race... I just chalked that up to taper blues and knowing that I had been there before just chose to ride it out as I knew that feeling like shit was just a step on the path to feeling better.

I also went into this race super relaxed.... so relaxed the few days before that I was concerned that maybe I was TOO RELAXED. But once I got up to Steamboat and saw friends and knew it was happening the appropriate level of excitement and enthusiasm entered the mix of emotions.

I love this race and I won't go into all of the reasons why as it is for all of the same reasons that I fell in love with the race last year.  It all still holds true.

This was also my second hundred, and second time running this race without crew and pacers and I have to tell you that makes it a lot of fun for me. It's a mental game of sorts when you are getting close to an aid-station and planning out exactly what you are going to do when you stop rather than knowing what someone is just going to hand to you. Plan the stop, get what you absolutely need, don't waste anytime and get the hell out of there, and the volunteers are so awesome at this race, they make those fast stops easy to do.

So the race... Obviously it went well... but it wasn't until the return trip from Spring Creek back up to Dry Lake that I discovered, or at least got an idea of how well I was doing, so that was mile 73 or so I think. I was heading up as my buddy Paul was heading down and we passed and he told me that I was in the top ten. I thought he was delusional. I knew I was further along in the pack than last year, but top ten? What?

Anyway... the race... Mt. Werner... it sucks.  I won't go into the rain and sleet on the way up as it was really kind of neat. But damned that hill is steep and I still haven't figured out how to manage it. I also can't decide if it is a good feature to have so early in the race or not. On one hand if you are smart it DOES slow you down... on the other hand, if you are not smart, well, I can see it destroying someones race in the first hour quite easily. All I know is that it hurt going up and it felt like my calves were going to just rip apart a few times as it is steep and my bio-mechanics just don't do well climbing that fast on that kind of grade.

But I made it up and made it to Long Lake and I guess I was on time or really close to last year. To be honest it sort of felt like I was possibly slower but I was not sure. When I noticed that things were really different was in the run down Fish Creek Falls where I was alone 98% of the time on the trail without anyone around me. Last year I really slowed down through here and I bet I was passed by 20 runners at least. Not this year.

Olympian Hall, which was really one of my first splits that I was trying to make. I think I made it there in about 4:40 which was about 40 minutes faster than last year I think. Got in, got out and headed out for the next 20 mile loop which I was kind of looking forward to if for no other reason just to get it done, get back up the hard road, get back to Fish Creek Falls and back into the woods.

Last year when I ran it, I started up Fish Creek Falls trail right at dark. So one of goals was to be ahead of that this year and I was. It was also in this section that I got to see one of the coolest things ever that I have seen in a race.

I was just above the falls proper and the sun was setting on the flat horizon in the west, so directly behind me and at the same level as I was. The orange cast of light from the sun behind me colored everything in front me, bathing it all in this amazing glowing vibrant shade of orange. It was mind blowing and just so beautiful. In all of my years in the mountains even I have never seen anything quite as magical as that and if any memories linger with me from the race it will be that one singular image I am sure.

I made Long Lake for the second time in about 12 hours and 15 minutes give or take. It was cold so I carefully selected layers and exactly what I would or should need for the rest of the night and got out of there. I did spend a few minutes to joke with and flirt with Jenn Shelton some who helped me with my bag and that was fun for me.

This race had two modes too it... the first half where I was running but constantly checking with myself to make myself relax and to measure if I was going to hard or not, or if I needed to back off or not.... Again, I knew that I was doing well enough and around mile 28 had figured out two things... either I was having a great day or I was heading towards an epic blowup and there was no way to tell so I might as well keep going.

Now comes the second part of the race and things getting tough... My allergies kicked in when I got to Steamboat on Thursday and I took a 24 hour Claritin. I should have packed one for Friday afternoon but didn't. As a result I started to get a lot of drainage which had a huge impact.

See, starting around hour 13-14, I started puking. Nothing would set on my stomach. My fuel, gels, any solid food, anything. It would all come up. The drainage was hitting my stomach and my stomach would rebel so a lot of puking during the night.

I tried to temper it by eating bland solid food at every aid station. Mashed potatoes and ginger ale were my food of choice and it would set long enough I guess for things to absorb some but after a while it would come up. Hey... I was in in the military, so I know how to puke I guess. I never felt sick, but would start feeling it wanting to come up and then wait until there was no other choice for it to come up, let it fly, then get on my way... I managed it. I also switched to straight water which did allow me to keep my hydration right... trust me, I did keep checking it every time I peed.

So the running mode of the second half was completely different... instead of having my foot on the brakes, I kept pushing myself to put the foot on the gas. I kept telling myself if you can run this section then you better damned well run it, and obviously that is what I did.

When left Summit Lake the second time I really wanted to make the math work to finish in under 25 hours. Goal wise, I was no longer even on the CHART in regards to my expectations and I was just winging it. But I knew the math and the terrain would not allow it to happen. Why? The section between Long Lake and back to Mt. Werner has a lot of damned climbing in it on the inbound and it just ate me up. Well, no, it didn't, I had a faster split all the way in from Summit Lake to the Finish than last year but I could not make up that amount time no matter how hard I tried and I did try.

Just as I can't decide if Mt. Werner at the front end of the race is a good idea, I am pretty sure that I don't like the idea of running down the Mt. Werner Service Road for 6.5 miles to the finish at all. It just hurts and it was probably in the section that I did the most damage to myself.

I gave up two places between Long Lake and Mt. Werner, I could not hold these guys off and about halfway down the service road, I looked back and behind me were what looked like ten guys bearing down me.  No! Not the F today! I told myself and I kicked it into high gear, and by high gear I mean sub 7-minute range or as close as I could hold it the last three miles. I was not going to give up another spot and if any of these guys were going to catch me they were going to have to break something in order to do it.

25:14:44. Just call it 4.5 hours faster than last years time. In reality I was looking for a solid 3 hour difference.  In EVERY regard expectations were greatly exceeded in this race. No regrets, no what-if's... nada.

I told Melissa when I got home that I wanted to get a belt for that belt buckle and actually wear it. Those who know me know that I NEVER wear my buckles as I see it as kind of gauche really, but anyway, this one I want to wear as symbolizes so much to me, not just the race but whole entire summer of training, consistency, trade-offs, being smart when otherwise I might not, and then the execution of the damned race, even with all of the puking...

A week later and I still don't have the belt... This buckle will rest along with the others.... :)

Recovery wise this has been the strangest recovery week ever. The first day was nothing but pain. I almost could not go to sleep Sunday night. But Monday I was busy working all day and night which I think went a long way in loosening things up. I have also pounded a ton of calories this week and have been getting 9-10 hours of sleep every night so each day is better than the previous.

Tuesday I will go to the track for our last track workout as a group.... No structured running for the rest of the autumn... now it's time to rest, recover, and just reflect on what has been such as awesome summer of running.

Photo Credit: Steve Bremner

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Save Money - Make Your Own Fuel

We are between "tasks" on our Aspen Rec Center contract today and I don't have any clients scheduled so... I have the afternoon off! Taking the time to pack and get things ready for Run Rabbit Run 100 this weekend.

To get ready, one of the things I need or needed to do was to make a couple batches of "fuel" for the race.

Over the years I have used many different products. Pepetuem and Heed from Hammer, Carbo-Pro, and even some custom-made-to-order stuff that was okay. Personally they all work for me... well, except for Heed but that's another discussion. What DOESN'T work for me is the damned price of it all.

So over time, since 2012, I have been working on and making my own fuel. Originally it was plain Carbo-Pro mixed with diluted liquid Gatorade of either orange or lemon-lime flavor. Then I started mixing the Carbo-Pro with powdered Gatorade (again orange or lemon-lime flavor) in varying ratios. Then thanks to Lucho, I bought a 50 lb bag of Maltodextrin from which I have been using forever now.

The last change to the formula happened last summer when I quit purchasing MAP by the bottle and started mixing FundAminos into the concoction. I made that switch only because this way I don't have to carry and take 5 MAP every hour. Not to mention that fishing out 5 MAP every hour and taking them while on the bike can be a challenge. Instead it is just part of the mixture now and in the end Fundaminos are cheaper than MAP too.

This stuff works and is dirt cheap and I figure it costs me pennies to the dollar in overall cost compared to what I used to spend. And remember... this mixture got me through two series of Leadman - not mention all of my races this year. Well, except for that damned Power of Four 50K but that day I just wanted to eat normal stuff, and that was only thing that made that day endurable... ;)

The mixture is quite simple. I used to mix two scoops of maltodextrin to one scoop of Gatorade but I tweaked it to personal preference and now I mix three scoops of maltodextrin to two scoops of Gatorade which makes the real ratio 1.5 to 1. 

Maltodextrin on the left, Gatorade in the Center, and Fundaminos on the right. That is the Rubbermaid tub that I mix and store it in and a tub will usually last me 3-4 weeks of training.
The Fundaminos I add 1.5 scoops of that to every six scoops of scoop of maltodextrin to four scoops of Gatorade.

As I mix it. Three scoops of maltodextrin on the left to two scoops of Gatorade on the right with the 1.5 scoops of Fundaminos in the center. I will add an additional three scoops of maltodextrin and then two scoops of Gatorade to complete the ratio.
I just keep adding more to that ratio and mix it as I go with a fork. In the end the color in the tub should be fairly consistent.

Then I just do the same process again but this time using orange flavored Gatorade in a separate tub.

When it comes to race time... or any training run exceeding two hours I do the following... I drink 1.5 scoops mixed with water per hour and have one gel per hour. My personal preference in gels for the past two years has just been orange and chocolate Gu. If I were really industrious (read less lazy) I'd use my maltodextrin and make my own gels but even my frugality has its limits. As for preference of Gel, these are what I like and works for me... your tastes and preferences might be different. And THATS okay... :)

Really, this is all I race on... I put the fuel into small snack sized baggies and carry them with me when I have to and refill the bottles with those and water every two hours.
I drink approximately one bottle per hour with one and half scoops of my mix added to that. What I really do is every 15 minutes I take 2.5 sips out of my left handheld, and then 2.5 sips out of my right handheld to keep things even. Every hour on the top of the hour I have one gel. That gets me about 280 calories per hour, every hour. And like I mentioned, every long training run or race over two hours this is exactly what I do. Period.

30 baggies of mix for this weekend's race. 30 hours of fuel... I won't need that much though... ;)
This is actually something that I have wanted to write about for some time... With what everything costs nowadays... anywhere savings can be found is good. Because after all, the more money you save the more race entries you can pay for or buy more shoes, right?

Hope it helps!

P.S. As a side note, I do usually have other things on the course like this weekend I will have other treats packed in my drop bags. But those are treats and things to look forward to if I start to struggle. I do not rely on them for fueling or count them as a part of the plan. Sometimes I have extra things but most times I don't. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Last Minute Packing

Hoka Stinson ATR's on the left, the older Stinson Men's Trail Shoe on the right... The red ones are so much better. It's the first time I have ever been displeased with a Hoka product after four years of running in them.
When it comes to getting ready for trips I am one of those people who pack the very last minute and not a second before. I have never figured out if it is because I am lazy or just so damned efficient that I don't need to start putting all of my shit in a huge pile days or weeks before going somewhere.

I vote for efficient....

Maybe it was because once upon a time I was on world-wide mobile team and always had my stuff packed and ready to go for the most part and when it was time for me to go, I went. Maybe it's because I keep all my things in order already - so pulling it all together to go somewhere is not a chaos inducing exercise. Maybe it's because I have done this so many times for races, vacations, business trips, hunting trips and so on that I am just a pro at it... who knows... I just never feel the pressure to pack prematurely.

Less than a week before Run Rabbit Run 100 and the only thing I have really done in prep this past week is to FINALLY decide on which shoes I am going to wear. Really, that's it. I am going to wear the older version of the Hoka Stinson Men's Trail shoe. Last year I bought two new boxes of them and have kept them in the boxes until this week when I broke one pair out.

I am not a fan at all of the new Stinson ATR's that Hoka put out the last year or so. To put it simply, they suck. The older model is a much more robust and supportive shoe compared to the new model which is so scaled down... read, "they really skimped in putting that one together." I have run in the Stinson ATR's most of the summer and I can tell you two things... the upper sucks... and the mid-sole sucks too... it used to be I could easily get 400 miles (usually more) out of a pair of Stinsons, now... maybe just around 300 before the midsole collapses to the point that running in them is a sketchy proposition. I don't even get to wear out the outer-sole out anymore!

I toyed with the idea of running in the Hoka Challengers as that was an awesome shoe for me for both the Aspen Backcountry Marathon, and the Leadville Silver Rush 50, but I just can't commit to them. I like the idea of running the race in a lighter shoe but I don't want to sacrifice foot protection either... I know the Hoka Stinson Men's Trail will get me through it as that shoe has proven itself time and time again for me. It isn't the Challenger's fault that I don't have the same level of trust, it's a good shoe, just too unproven for over 50 miles for me to be comfortable with. Anyway...

Packing... I'll get it done... sometime... this week. Today I start supervising a remodeling job at the Aspen Recreation Center which will last a few days. It is a contract that the startup company that I am working with/for has. It isn't a big job but it is definitely a complicated job. It will be fun to do that and it will take my mind off of race stuff. I'll still have time to pack too...

Looking ahead... I priced out a snowboard/boot/binding package yesterday that will be awesome for this winter. It's a bit pricey but it will be worth it. I have some friends who are trying to get me a snow making job for the early part of the season. I want to do it because it is an evening/night job and it will give me my daytime to write, work with clients, and do other work for the startup. Timing wise, it will work as both my business and the startup are going to hit critical mass in about four months...  It is really good money, and the bonus is you get an annual pass out of the deal. It's damned hard work though... But I think it could be a fun adventure to do at least once though. :) I want that pass!

Easy ten mile run this morning with some folks, five tomorrow... then just an easy four mile shake out run on Tuesday morning... I'm bouncing back pretty good and am really excited to get up to Steamboat next week. It's going to be a blast! :)

P.S.-  I think Hoka might have fixed the problems with the Stinson ATR's in the newer Stinson model the Stinson 3 ATR but I have to get my hands on an pair to be sure.

P.S.S. -  I started reading John L. Parker's new book, Racing the Rain last night and so far it is as completely awesome as both Once a Runner and Again to Carthage are... if I could just write like that...

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Training is Done

Running up Maroon Creek Trail early this morning.
So even though this was my first week of tapering, I am officially calling today the end of my training for Run Rabbit Run 100 in less than two weeks.

More by accident than design... I've logged 310 miles the past four weeks. 80, 100, 80, and 50. This week would have been 60 but I gave up a day (In the end I am sure it did more good than harm! ) to volunteer for the Grand Traverse run yesterday.

When I designed and planned everything out in the beginning of July, I knew what the mileage for each week would be and I had a specific plan in place for what I wanted the end results of each week to be... The "accident" if you will which isn't anything horrible, is just I never added up the total to see what the overall volume of these past four weeks would have been.

I hit some low points the past three weeks but there was never a point that I felt I could not bounce back. Everything proved out rather solid last Tuesday morning on the track anyway... the speed and the strength is definitely there, but so was the fatigue which is evident in my low HR that last hard two mile segment.

This week is a light 30 mile week to start unloading fatigue and there is a fair share of that to get rid of. But all in all I am confident for my preparation this summer for this race.

Goals... Eh... I can't say I have one for certain... Finish it... just run the damned thing the best I can... come in under 29:43 and get another big buckle and beat last years time... anything more than that and I will be pretty happy. I've thrown some numbers around in my head but then I consider the course and the distance of that course and I think there are just too many variables to get any expectations dialed in with any great precision. 

Pretty excited to get up to Steamboat. The trees are starting to change here in Aspen this week but just a little bit and I am guessing since RRR100 is a week later this year we will see a lot more color in the run.

Regardless, I just plan to have fun and enjoy it all. :) 

Sunday, August 23, 2015


A picture is worth a thousand words...

A rocking week of running which has been the theme all summer...

And so many other awesome things happening in life...

It is impossible to live my life anymore without expressing extreme gratitude every waking moment...

But yeah... volume... It's all good.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Audi Power of Four 50K Trail Run (A Cautionary Tale)

I'll get right down to it and not belabor the point. If you have thought of coming to Aspen to run in a race my advice is to skip this one altogether. Save yourself some money and do the Four Pass Loop which is a crap-ton more enjoyable. Or come up and run the Backcountry Marathon which is an awesome course. But this one, this one I can not recommend.

Here is the deal as I see it... The Power of Four Skimo race is the foundation of the Power of Four race series in Aspen which takes you across all of the ski mountains. They followed that up with the Mountain Bike race which really I think was an afterthought of sorts. They followed that up with a recklessly put together trail run with a route that I described simply as "unnecessary."

Anyone can make up a hard race and I do enjoy tough races but there has to be at least some element to enjoy at one part or another, or at least some interesting feature as part of the course. All out "hard" from beginning to end is just not fun. Whoever thought of this race does not understand runner psychology at all. The first race sign on the course was just past the Aspen Mountain summit. It had some pithy running saying and then it said "45KM To Go." A 5K sign would have been a lot more inspiring I think than that one considering you had just climbed 3200 feet in that first 5K. Yes, 3200 feet.

And it wasn't just hard climbing, there were a lot of downhill grades, especially the straight line down Aspen Highlands that I did not like and have heard others complain about as well. It was wet grass and mud so it was even a dicier proposition to run down.

To be fair let me throw this out there... I came into this event tired. I planned it that way. I wanted a long run that was fun to add to training volume and miles. Sure I expected a hard day but I wanted it to be fun at the same time. Or at least mildly entertaining... This was not.

Someone described the course as doing Hope Pass Double 2x followed by doing Powerline/Sugarloaf on top of that 2x as well. Over 12K of Climb in 32.2 miles is just excessive with most of the terrain not even being runnable.

Thanks to the support people who were out there for being there but what they were given to offer at the aid stations was less than paltry. Some aid stations even ran out of water but let me put that into context for you. 90 some runners on a cool and rainy day and they ran out of water in places... it would have been a complete shit-show if it were in the 80's and completely sunny.

The course marking was okay for the most part but there were sections which were very frustrating. Long segments without even a confidence marker to let you know you were on the right path. Once on Snowmass Mountain the course marking became severely lacking. I had one guy bomb down through an open meadow as he was lost for and hour or so and he happened to see me. Young strong guy too, and we ran a bit together but when he saw the trail was going up again he said he had had enough and proceeded to bail down one of the ski runs.

And the trails... ugh... Dear Race Director... there is a difference between a trail, what is real single track, and a rut. Really a lot of the "trails" between Buttermilk and Snowmass are just that... they are not really trails as much as narrow trenches about 10" wide where water just drains through. Tough to run on/in when dry, much more so when they are just greasy mud. And there is a reason I say go and do the Four Pass Loop instead, because there you can see things... this race has you running, hiking, climbing, etc, with your head down all the time that you don't see a thing, and the nature of the course offers no interesting vistas. I had a hard day out there but also at the same time I was bored out of my skull.

The scene at the finish line was as equally underwhelming as the rest of this race experience. Their timing system was fouled up and when I finished they had to ask me (even though I had a bib number on) who I was, what wave I started in etc. No food, no after race party like atmosphere... just blah... 

As a runner I just expect more from a race especially given race fees these days. As a local to the Aspen area, I am downright appalled and embarrassed for what was put on this weekend to pass as a race.

There are so many great races in this state to pick and choose but this is not one of them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Your Job Really Does Not Suck...

This is real and something that I wrote a while back to a coworker when I was still in IT... Sorta funny... ;)


I think my job sucks.

I think your job sucks...

But wait a second.

Last night when I was getting ready to go for an 11 mile run I turned Animal Planet on.

They were showing jobs that REALLY suck...

The worst being an elephant artificial insemination technician.

No shit.

First the guy has to get the sample. Yeah... so basically he has to jerk off an elephant.

They showed him doing it!

And if that is not bad enough... he has to "catch" it it a container.

He needs to get 11oz for a good "donation" to get another elephant knocked up. So basically a beer can full of elephant goo if you will.

As if that is not bad enough... He has to transport it!

Imagine going through airport security and having to explain what is in the box... worse yet... how you got it.


And THEN!!!!!

He has to deliver said payload.

They showed him, will with basically a special "turkey baster" for female elephants filling her up....

But it gets better... or worse. While he is doing this... doing his part to foster bringing another beautiful elephant life into the world...

She takes a big dump... a juicy one at that, and it lands right on his shoulders and back...

So... maybe our jobs don't suck THAT much... :)

Kinda puts things into perspective, eh?

Monday, July 6, 2015

My Summer Bucket List Ride

All along my plan has been to switch over from training for the Aspen Backcountry Marathon to a more ultra focused type of training once the race was over. As part of that plan and to keep training volume high while minimizing abuse on the body I had also planned on really incorporating the bike more once I made the switch.

And I've been doing that the past few weeks actually. Mostly riding to mitigate this sore tendon in my foot but to also build up some strength on the bike again. That being said, the expedition of a ride that I took on yesterday I knew would be a stretch but at the same time felt that it would be quite doable as well.

I hatched the plan for this ride months ago. Basically a loop leaving Aspen, over Independence Pass to Twin Lakes and then shoot down 24 to Buena Vista where I would hopefully be able to stop at Pancho's for a burrito. After that, things get challenging again with a ride up Cottonwood Pass, then down the backside to Taylor Park where I would take the Taylor Park Road nearly all the way to the end where the Taylor Pass Road turns off of it. Taylor Pass road goes up to Taylor Pass and from there I could drop down Express Creek Road to Castle Creek Road and bomb home... easy, right.

Anyway... I did it and had a blast. I even got the burrito for breakfast. Did the entire ride solo and except for stopping at Pancho's everything else that I needed I had in my pack.

133 miles of riding with 17,599 feet of gain, in 13:38:23.

Here are some pics...

03:21 start in the morning. The bike is ready to go.
The first obstacle, Indy Pass. Not so bad going up but I damned near froze to death the whole way down to Twin Lakes.
Got my order at Pancho's just after 8 in the morning. Mondo Combo Burrito Please!
Love these things!
Ready to get going again... Next... Cottonwood Pass!
Made it up but it was damned hard. Headwind the first half up the pass which posed a challenge. The ride down the Gunnison side of Taylor Pass was a riot! 
In Taylor Park looking up towards Italian and Lambertson Peaks.
The same peaks zoomed in some.
Ready to head up Taylor Pass. It was bad. I have been on this road before and forgot just how horrible it was. Let me put it this way... I would not take my Jeep up it and ended up pushing the bike most of the way. Would not want to ride DOWN it either! I was at about 112 miles here.
From the top of Taylor Pass looking east towards Taylor Reservoir and Cottonwood Pass. I rode that whole valley.
Just one more fun drop to go down Express Creek Road to link up with Castle Creek Road and then to home. 16.5 mile to go and it took me 1:08.
Yay! Finally home! My biggest ride ever as well as the most vertical gained in a day ever too. But most importantly it was a blast, I had fun, and it was exactly the little "adventure" that I have been needing.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Aspen Backcountry Marathon (I was wrong!)

Garmin Data from the Aspen Backcountry Marathon
This past Saturday was the Aspen Backcountry Marathon. At first glance I believed and wanted to believe that this race was actually easier than Salida.


This race gains about 1100 feet more than Salida does. While Salida is more of an up and down course, this one is up and down with another significant rise and descent in the last 3rd. This race has lot more trail in it that Salida does too.

For me, this was another A effort race and has been my only real focus since I got back from Mexico. Even with two nagging injuries to manage the past couple months I was still able to train and maintain the quality component as well as the volume for the most part. I went into the race trained, and more importantly rested and ready to go when it was time to race.

I didn't go as fast as I wanted but after training on the course and learning more about it I really had to adjust my goals. And since I was not so sure about the elevation gain component compared to Salida for instance I really wasn't sure. I figured 4:10 would probably be the best I could go and in the end finished in 4:23:39 which I am quite happy about. 1st in AG and 11th overall. Not a bad day. The bonus is I know I ran my absolute best, I have no regrets, and not a single "what if" about the race.

With the exception of one guy passing me about mile 20 and me passing another guy at mile 26, I was running by myself from mile 12 on... that was a weird sensation.

Sunday was an 11 hour workday with a lot of bending, kneeling, squatting, standing and reaching... Physically I was a wreck yesterday but the work helped to work out the soreness and whatnot left over from the day before. Today is an off day from running but have to finish yesterdays job still which will only take a couple of hours at most... I will go to the track in the morning and try to get the legs moving again.

I am planning on doing the Silver Rush 50 in less than two weeks. No huge effort anticipated as I am just going to get it done. I am still shocked that it is really that soon and that next weekend is the 4th of July already... where has the summer gone?

I haven't even been camping yet this year!

So.. the rest of the summer... It's going to be more ultra focused. Bigger weekend runs and stuff like that but no more of the intensity or such a strong focus. If I had to say if any of my upcoming races are a goal race it would be Run Rabbit Run 100 in September, but it is still too early for me to get wound up about that one or to come up with a goal. I'd like to beat last year's time but that's about as ambitious as I can be right now... give a few weeks and that can all change. :)

Friday, June 26, 2015

The calm before...

Sitting in the apartment, the lights are off so it is dim in here and the AC is on full blast making it quite comfortable and soothing.

This has been a shit-storm/shit-show of a week for me. Mentally I have been all over the map. I think some of it is taper stuff but other stuff was definitely externally driven.

Two awesome things today... It is now legal for People to marry People. Period. After all of the social and political bullshit in our country this past week this bit of news from the SCOTUS made my day and gives me hope. Secondly, the company that I am helping with, we got our Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business certification from the feds, so that will open a lot of doors for us to do the work we plan. Shitty week but two major wins in one day turned it all around for me.

Big race for me tomorrow... The Aspen Backcountry Marathon. I think I am faster and stronger and more solid than when I went into Salida. I'm pretty familiar with the course too so I am hoping for a good day tomorrow. Some friends and I spent some time Tuesday evening clearing deadfalls from the trail on parts of the course. Hoping that bought me some good trail karma.

But like I said, this week has been crazy so I am grateful for this quiet moment to sit and get my brain in the game for tomorrow. I'll write more after the race.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Getting Back on Track (Or Trail)

Skippy and I at the warehouse in Chicago working. I am in the green mask. Everything that we have been doing is still on the DL but in a few weeks our presence will be known nationwide. This company has a lot of moving parts and is going to go huge.
Got home from Chicago just a little before five a.m. this morning. My flight landed in Denver at 12:30 a.m. and I just drove straight through. Nasty storm in Denver though slowed me down the first chunk.

Saw two decent bears on 82 just outside of Twin Lakes this morning driving home. I'd say they were two year old's given their size. 

Did "okay" running-wise when I was in Chicago. Each day was basically a 19 hour day or so. I didn't get the miles in I wanted but I made the miles that I did do on the 'mill count. I thought that I would try to make up the difference today but I had a list as long as my arm of things to get done so cramming in another thing to cause me stress was not that appealing.

Plus, I'd rather have a quality 20-10 this weekend than a crappy 9-20-10.

Chicago was fun. In that weird way that business trips can be fun. I've been through Chicago before, but never spent any time there. Unfortunately this trip was so busy there was not any time to really see anything except the hotel, our warehouse, and the 20 miles of highway between the two.

One thing is for certain... if I lived in Chicago full time, I'd weigh 300 pounds, and be dead of a heart attack by my 50th birthday. Everyone knows that I like to eat bad food and that place is the capital of it. You can not throw a rock in Chicago without hitting a Dunkin Donuts, I kid you not. And I guess that unless you are really out in some nicer suburb, running options are really limited. I did see a lot of people pounding the sidewalks though. A funny thing is that we went into one running store... not a trail shoe in sight.

But for the most part I resisted the temptations to eat like a fiend there. I did have two huge meals, lunch on Wednesday and dinner before I left, and though I ate a lot it was all clean food. No net gain or loss on the scale from when I left compared to when I got back today.

One of business partners who runs a little bit convinced me to register for the Silver Rush 50 in July and I signed up for that today. No serious effort planned for that one, just a long day on the feet running with him as it will be his second 50 miler. (Of course we all know SR50 is really only 47.)

The leg thing is still there and happening but still manageable. It feels like my Hokas are breaking down a lot more quickly these days, and like my left one is folding inward at the heel. Of course that stresses the tendon that is unhappy. I have two pairs of the older Stinsons in boxes and I am really fighting the temptation to break a pair out to see if that is truly the case.

Three weeks from tomorrow until the Aspen Backcountry Marathon. I think I am right on track and right where I want to be for it. I ran the last 9 miles of the course last Sunday and it it not easy. I'll see what it feels like this Sunday when I do it again.

It was a hell of a week. The 72 hours from 5:00 a.m Tuesday until 5:00 a.m. today was a challenge but worth it and to be honest I am really no worse off for wear. But now that I am back it is time to get back at it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My Day Today In Pictures

It began at 5:25 with a track workout at the Aspen High School Track.
Everyone showed up to run but I started early and had to leave early.
I drove through Leadville past 6th and Harrison where 'the magic happens."
I drove a lot and saw a lot of snow in the mountains.
And it ends with a sunset in Chicago.
Here for a couple of days for meetings and stuff. Looks like I will be treadmilling here in the mornings at the hotel. I fly out Thursday night and get back to Aspen more Friday morning than Thursday night.

Still not sure how GZ does it!

Pretty strong workout, progression run done in two mile intervals.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

And There Goes May

I haven't written anything running related in a bit probably because I have been more concerned about running (and being able to run) rather than writing about it.

This has been the strangest May that I can remember when it comes to weather. I know part of it is that I don't live on the Front Range anymore but even taking that into consideration it has been weird. Today, Sunday the 31st, is the first day, well the morning anyway, that it actually felt WARM when I went outside. Aspen gets 2.1 inches of rain on average in May but this year for May we got 4.0.

Still working around that injury/tendon thing in my leg but I think I have it figured out and it is feeling better and better each day. I did a speed workout on Thursday (hill repeats) and after that it seemed to finally let go and loosen up and has felt great ever since. I have also switched back to the Stinsons and that seems to be helping a lot. I guess for some reason the Mafates just don't work for me.

But even with the weather and injury management this month I still had a good quality month I believe. 238 miles running with an additional 11 hours on the bike.

Three weeks and six days until the Aspen Backcountry Marathon. I still maintain that it is not as tough of a race as Salida but I think given the nature of some of the trails, it might be slower, at least for me... We'll see.

A treat of a view yesterday morning up in Van Horn Park. Looking SW. The bells are just left of center.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

No Rain... No Rainbows...

A surprise rainbow Saturday night when I took Asia out.
No Rain... No Rainbows.... which is all fine and good unless it rains all the damned time in which case you are just screwed.... and wet… and not in the happy fun way either. Lots of rain here this week if you haven’t figure that out yet.

So... to come clean... I had a great mileage week two weeks ago and pushed through many things to make it happen. What I failed to mention is that I was also trying to push though what was becoming a nasty tendonitis issue in my left leg or shin to be more accurate. If I ran, the tendon would warm up and feel fine, but after it cooled off, normal motion was uncomfortable. Since it wasn't getting any better, I decided to play it super-safe so the week of April 20 was a total rest week with zero mileage.

Since things were not feeling a whole lot better at the beginning of this week but not wanting to have another zero week I decided to fall back to walking. What that means is instead of running on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I walked instead; Six, Eight, and Six miles respectively. Saturday morning I saw a PT first thing, he “worked” on it, and the leg felt great afterwards.

I got the usual lecture about how I am older and I need to do more “stuff” after my runs, etc… get massages… etc… and so on. You know, all of the things that I have neither the money nor the time for right now, or really, ever.

Anyway… went for a nice ride on Saturday after spending some time tweaking and tuning the bike. I have not ridden since the end of October on a day that was right before the weather turned. Honestly, I had no idea how I would feel on the bike and I was quite surprised that once I started riding that it felt as if I had been away from it only days rather than months. Even my technical skills seemed to be intact which I found to be strange to say the least. Turned out to have a nice 26 mile ride up to the Maroon Bells and back and only got caught in one little rain storm on the way up.

I need to embrace the bike. It kept me healthy for two years. So maybe now riding is more mandatory than optional if I am wanting to stay "in the game."
The PT that I worked with suggested that I run today so I got out for an easy, flat (for around here) run on all dirt path. I took it easy to warm up the first mile and then maintained a MAF effort for the next five. A rainstorm and wind moved in the last two miles and made it cold… hence my rain references above.  I “guess” it felt okay and it doesn’t seem like I lost a lot of fitness but I was sore again in that same spot when I got home. I worked on the pissed-off tendon as the PT showed me how and as if by magic the damned thing loosened up again and felt fine.

Even with taking that last full week off in April, it turned out to be a 203-mile month of running. Of course, I count those miles of walking those three days into the equation.

What is next?  I don’t know. I have already had to reboot my training plans 2x for the Aspen Backcountry Marathon and am not sure right now how I am going to proceed for the next few weeks leading up to that. If I had to describe my course of action it will be to train for a Marathon as if I were only training for a Marathon instead of training for a Marathon while still trying to build a solid ultra-base at the same time.

The other thing that I am going to have to do which I have been ignoring is to incorporate the bike in more. Actually when things started feeling funny two-three weeks ago, I should have stopped running and picked up the bike then instead of being a typical bull-headed runner trying to run through an injury. Of course, THAT thought didn’t occur to me until half-way through yesterday’s ride. Hindsight… I know…  But in my defense, the conditions around here to ride have not been favorable until the past few days and the thought of going and riding inside never really occurred to me.

This is a super busy week so time to do anything is going to be precious. I plan to ride tomorrow in hopes of keeping that calf and tendon loose and then run three days, ride Friday, run Saturday, and then ride on Sunday, and just pray that I can keep it all together this week. No real mileage goal yet as I want to wait and see how things play out the next several hours after today’s run.

There is hardly a more miserable creature than the injured runner who is not able to run and the past two weeks I have proven that. The disturbing thing is that I have no specific idea what may have caused this injury but I have identified about ten irritating factors that may have come into play. It probably was not one single one but a combination of 2-3 or maybe more, I don’t know. For now, I am just left to deal with it and hope that I am on the mend, and have faith in the same.

It could have been mid-injury, delusional thinking but I did get a crazy idea last weekend. I am supposed to run the Power of Four 50K in July. The day before that is the Aspen Valley Marathon which is a Boston qualifying race. I don’t and I never plan on ever going to Boston to run but the idea of having a qualifying time I do find appealing. So, back to that delusional thing… I might see if I can run the Marathon on Saturday, get a qualifying time of 3:25 or less, and then to the Power of Four the next day.

It would definitely make for a weekend of exceptional volume… We’ll see…

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Somehow Kept It Together This Week

This was to be a 70 mile week with two days off. Really not that big of a deal but the weather... the @#$#@@!!%$ weather had other ideas.

Tuesday was nice enough and actually the nicest day of the week. 10.5 mile run in 1:22:33. All in all it felt pretty good.

Wednesday things started to change... for starters it was COLD and the wind was actually ripping which for around here is rare. Turned into an epic 14 miler with 3563 feet of gain and I was out there for pretty much three hours.

Thursday, not too bad with the weather yet. Not as bad but windy with it being a cold wind at that. Another 10.5 in 1:25:51. Slower than Tuesday but a much more substantial headwind on the way back.

Saturday.. ugh... It is winter all over again. We probably got 15" of snow between Thursday night and Saturday. 25 miles was the goal for the day and I pulled it off but I had to do it in two segments.  11 miles and then a 14 miler later in the day. Total time for both runs was about 3:52.

Sunday was actually nice. Lots of snow but nice. I was joined by a runner who was not officially here and we had a lot of fun just out exploring more than just running. Super slow run, lots of picture taking and goofing off.

It only looks like I am doing what I am not doing.  Actually I am looking at a pine squirrel to my right. Lots of snow.

So I put down 70 for the week with 11K of climbing.

I really hope that this is the last storm as this last change in weather wrecked my motivation and spirits. I am ready for DRY trails which we were just starting to see segments of, and just running in warm weather in general.

Going to rego for the Power of Four 50K Trail Run in July. This will be a fun run with some other local runners. Our plan is to go out slow and hold it there. More of a training run than anything else.

9 Training weeks until the Aspen Backcountry Marathon.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Still Here... Still Running...

There has been a lot going on these past few weeks. The week after Salida I took it easy but still managed a 63 mile week. My time in Mexico allowed me to get two good runs in but I bailed on the third one later in the week for two reasons:

1. I was tired and fatigued from two hard days of running mixed with two long days of spearfishing.
2. I think I was coming down with something.

And come down with something I did... I spent my last Friday in Mexico never far from a toilet. I thought it cleared up but my little intestinal souvenir came home with me and gave me grief all the way through last Monday. Knowing that the good bacteria in my stomach and digestive system were probably all wiped out I ate a ton of yogurt on Monday to set things right and thankfully it worked.

Tuesday I started running again and logged 60 miles for last week. I did make one mistake and that is that I had a meeting that was supposed to happen on Friday get moved to Saturday morning. So because of that I ran ten on Saturday then twenty on Sunday rather than the 20 and then the ten. I was definitely feeling Saturday's run during Sunday's run but it all went well.

I have found myself presented with a very unique professional opportunity here. It has been in the works and has been gestating for well over a month now but something has found me and given me a new direction in life that I could never had planned on. In short, it's a job, and the funny thing is that it found me... 

I will not go into great details for now, but for me it feels like everything that I have done or learned in my adult life has built towards this and the bonus is that I still get to focus on helping and coaching people. That is what my meeting was about on Saturday.

Today I guess was my first day on the job in a way. Some of the things we are doing will be doing will be contract based and we are in the process of doing a lot of proof-of-concept types of work as well as defining processes and procedures. On the surface, very simple stuff, but at the same time very exciting to be a part of.  I promise more details in the future as things progress.

12 Weeks until the Aspen Backcountry Marathon. Now that the weather is getting nicer, training for it will be a lot easier than it was for Salida.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Salida Project

The Salida Project started back in January at the end of my first week of running in several weeks. That Saturday I did a 15.5 mile run up to Ashcroft then back down a bit before Melissa picked me up. That run put me into the hurt locker but not too deep as I ran ten miles on Sunday and was actually feeling pretty good. It was actually on that run that I hatched the plan to go and race the Salida Marathon this year.

In my mind, I would just head over on Friday night, maybe crash in the Jeep, do the race on Saturday then come home right afterwards. Simple enough.

When I got home from that run I told Melissa of my idea of running the race and she suggested we just make a weekend of it and stay there. So basically within 15 minutes of getting home we had that discussion, I registered for the race, AND we booked a hotel room at a hotel so we could even take Asia.

That sewed things up quite nicely and I was from then on committed to the race.

Training in and around Aspen in the middle of the winter is iffy at best. Having about eight weeks until the race I decided on four more solid weeks of base building and trying to get the weekly mileages up while focusing solely on running at MAF or at zone two. No speed work was allowed at all until the week of the 16th of February. It was also in January that I finagled a trip to Moab, Utah to run some dry trails.

Those four weeks went well and then came the speed work. I was basically left with only two weeks to really focus on that then a week to back off just a bit then a week of resting and taking it easy leading up to the race. The fist week of specified training I handled pretty well and in way it was fun to do those focused and concise workouts again.

The second week, I felt a little jagged around the edges but still managed to do okay. By the week before the race, the speedier workouts were showing results and few more running gears became available to me.

I also rediscovered that little sweet-spot of fatigue after the second week of speed work... I would feel tired and struggle to get motivated to go out and run each day but after a couples miles into the workout I felt fine.

Wanting to show up and do my best for this race I got a little more serious than usual about my diet.  Nothing crazy but I cut out a lot of crap and each week my weight dropped a pound or so. (I still resent the fact that I have to watch what I eat in order to lose weight.) But the loss in weight payed off significantly for me on that five mile climb on the road between miles 8 and 13. I could literally feel the difference.

Taper week was fun like all taper weeks. The week started off with me feeling rather crappy but I knew it was just my body going into repair mode since the volume and intensity of the previous few weeks had gone away. But by the end of the week when it was time to go to Salida for the race I felt fine and ready to go.

Now, I had a plan for the race... I had been monitoring my heart rate rather diligently and figured if I could go out and keep it between 155 and and 160 and end the thing with a 155 average at the end I should have a solid run. With that level of effort I should have been able to start off at a reasonably fast pace along with a reasonably strong level of effort and maintain both through the entire race.

Well, you know what they say about plans...

The race starts and off I go. Legs feel fine, cruising a little faster than I had anticipated, yet I was still comfortable. However, my heart rate was about ten beats per minute higher than I was planning run it.  Decision time... Do I back off and play it safe, or do I risk it and see how it turns out?

I gave myself about five miles to sort it all out. My heart rate was not dropping, but I was also feeling really good. The internal dialogue went a little like this...

"Well Andrew... if you are going to be dumb ass today, then you are going to be a dumb ass until the absolute very end...  when you start to feel like crap and want to back off, tough shit... you are committed now."

So I did commit and ran all out the entire race and it worked out obviously. In the end my average heart rate was 165. One of my goals, knowing there would be mud and snow in the middle section of the course, was to run fast enough so that when I got to the mud and snow it might be still setup and frozen from the night before. With the exception of that first quarter or half a mile or so past that mid-way aid station, mud was not really an issue.  As for the snow, it sucked, but I have a ton of experience from running around Aspen all winter which allowed me to handle it better I think.  I could read the nature of the snow, and know exactly how hard to hit it or how to approach it.

But I have to say, that second to last long section of snow that had an uphill angle to it, about nearly did me in.

It has been a long time since I have ran in Salida and I forgot just how technical those last few miles are. I've been wondering in my mind which race might be tougher, the Aspen Backcountry Marathon which I will run in June, or the Salida Marathon. I have never ran the Aspen one, but I am pretty familiar with the different sections of the course and right now I will say that I believe that Salida is just tougher due to the technical portions.

In the end, I have never been more proud of my preparation for a race and also the execution of the race.  Each training run, each speed workout, and each rest day were fully taken advantage of. And though the weather sort of gummed things up at the end of February I still made do. There isn't a part of my training for this race that I wish I had done differently. The same goes for the race... I have no regrets. There is nothing that I could or would change. No wishes or "only if's" at all.

That is a pretty good feeling.

You can see the course map, elevation profile, and my data here on Training Peaks.

For now... Taking some time to step back a bit. Working on getting the legs moving again this week.  We leave for Cozumel on Saturday, and then when I get back I will start focusing on the Aspen Backcountry Marathon. For now it looks like a month to a month and half of nothing but more basebuilding and running at MAF before I reintroduce speed work around the first of May more than likely.

P.S.  This was my fastest Marathon ever and a new PR. Note: I have never run a fast road Marathon ever.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

One Foot On The Gas And One Foot On the Brakes

Another solid week this week.  Backed off a bit but increased intensity just a touch more. The weather was seriously crappy the first part of the week up until Thursday but has been rather nice the past two days.

I have definitely discovered (rediscovered) that sweet spot of fatigue this week.  I am familiar with it and it tells me that I have been training hard enough to get worked but not so hard that I am digging a crater that I can't climb out of.  The most obvious symptom is that before every run I really do not want to go run. But once I am out and have a couple of miles done I feel great and there isn't any issue.

The week broke down like this...

Monday - Mandatory rest day.

Tuesday - 9 Miles - 1:16:30. MAF focused run.  Cold, snowy, and actually windy for up here. It felt pretty good though. It also felt a little fast but it all worked out.

Wednesday - 12 Miles - 1:39:46 - As bad as last weeks 12 miler went, this one was the opposite.  Went into it tired and not knowing how it would go but after a couple of miles it felt great.

Thursday - 13 Miles - 1:46:02 - Two Mile warmup, 5x1 minute easy hill repeats, then nine miles in Zone 3 or M effort. I went into this one feeling the tiredest all week but the run unfolded and turned out pretty good. It was also the first nicer day of the week which was a treat.

Friday - Mandatory rest day.

Saturday - 9 Miles - 1:09:02 - Two mile warmup, 3 miles in Zone 3 or M effort, .5 miles MAF, then another 3 Miles in Zone 3 followed by another .5 miles at MAF to finish.  Beautiful day. Not quite warm enough for shorts but still pleasant.  I even saw two guys on 82, east of town, riding their road bikes.  Spring must be close.

Sunday - 10 Miles - 1:21:47 - Easy ten miles at MAF effort. Felt a little off but I think that is partly due to yesterday's run, accumulated fatigue, and I got up at 4:30 this morning so I can counterbalance the effects of switching to DST and be able to go to bed on time tonight.

So that was the week... 53 Miles for the week. 7:13:07 for time. And 4829 feet in gain.

Today was my birthday and a nice one. No real shenanigans to report as I figure on just waiting until I am in Mexico in two weeks to really celebrate.  I had a nice mellow day and wrote another article for my work blog. Plus today's run in the sun was good enough for me.

But right now I am tired and ready for bed and definitely looking forward to my rest day tomorrow!