Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New race, same old story...

             Steamboat is my favorite mountain town in Colorado, I spent a summer there while living in one of the flat and humid midwest states and decided I'd pretty much sell my soul to live here.  When it was announced that there was going to be a 100 miler in the Yampa Valley, I knew I'd be at the start line.   I had high expectations for myself coming into Run Rabbit Run, I was injury-free and fit, and had not thrown up while running since I started taking more Endurolytes. 
             I was hoping for, and perhaps naively expecting, cooler weather - my stomach seems to hold up much better as the temperature drops. Still, at Olympian Hall (21.5) I thought to myself "geez, it's hot out and I feel great, this is a pleasant change" .  As it was, I dropped at the very next aid station, I'm at a loss as to why my stomach stops absorbing and I end up puking 1 or 2 hours worth of food all over the trail.  Short of literally stopping, I could not have gone slower on that section, or weaved across the road more often to stay in the shade.  

                                                          Some notable facts:

-I ended up with the unenviable distinction of being the first person to drop out of the Run Rabbit Run 100 (ever!).   
-ShotBlocs and Gu are expensive!  If I threw up 2 hrs worth of food, we're looking at:                                               1 pack of Shot Blocs 1.90     
                                             2 gels                         2.10      
                                             4 Endurolytes.             .64     
-Five dollars at of Wendy's will get you 25 nuggets!  This is exactly why I need a sponsor.  People wonder why I dropped... I can't afford to pay $2.50 an hour to puke!

-My pacer, Andy, ended up picked up another runner to spend the night with, and ended up running more miles than I did.  In fact, many people did. 

My goal in this is sport has been to run ten 100's in ten years, and I'm thankful that this year is not over.  Fall is a great time for running, and a week ago I thought I'd miss it to recover from Steamboat, so I've got nothing to be upset about.  Once I put together a course and date, I'll share it with any interested runners.  You can be sure it'll be on a day with cool weather.


Friday, June 29, 2012

San Juan Solace


On a hot, smoky and dusty day in the San Juans, I was forced to settle for my C- goal of gutting out (pun intended) a finish.  If anyone knows the Vickers family please tell them that I’m sorry, and promise next year I’ll carry a barf bag.  Also, to anyone who saw me emptying my stomach, well, I just hope it wasn’t contagious.  My race wasn’t always going so badly, in fact my race plan lasted longer than usual, a whole 20 miles!    

There isn’t too much to say about the first 4.5 hours of my race in terms of running.  I chatted with Doug and enjoyed the morning, and was ecstatic to avoid getting my feet wet, I even avoided tumbling off the narrow logs that allowed for my dry passage.  My only goal was to make the first climb and descent feel effortless, regardless of the pace it required.  I saw my friend (and rival for the season) Brian at the Williams aid station (15) and learned he had dropped due to a shoe malfunction.  This was significant because it meant that I could catch up in our cumulative season race time contest (he established a 40 minutes lead at the Salida Marathon, Speedgoat is next).  All I’d have to do is finish - easy enough, right?! (For the record, had Brian’s insoles remained in tact, I’d have been a long way back.)  On the dirt road that connects Williams and the Carson section I accepted that the heat would prevent me from achieving my (probably unrealistic) time goals.   

Things started getting interesting on the climb to Carson.  I noticed the heat as the road took us into the sun, and that it was only 9 in the morning, and that the streams I wanted so badly to avoid at 6am seemed rather appealing now.  Doug pulled away, slowly at first but then in a manner that suggested I would not being seeing him again for a long time.  JT passed like a man on a mission and then then I lost count of the rest.  However, something interesting and awesome happened at the end of this section; the aid station appeared much earlier than I expected.  They had sunscreen, Coke, race-website worthy views and the breeze above treeline was refreshing!  Just like that my mood and energy turned around.  I wasn't making great time up the remaining climb to Coney Peak, but I was happy to be moving well again.  Andy caught up to me while I was playing in a waterfall and scooping snow for my hat, and the next 2 miles passed rather quickly.  I turned to pee on the last switchbacks (last chance to add to the Pacific Ocean!) and he was out of sight.  When I reached the summit it was empty.  I'm too much of an exposure wimp for many summits so I went the 20 yards out of my way to tag Coney.  What it lacks in grandeur it more than makes up for in cairn height and views, both of which were impressive.  

The remainder of the divide section passed in a rather predictable pattern - I ran the flat and downhill sections, and hiked when the trail turned upward.  My stomach was stable and I didn't feel like I was force-feeding myself, but the altitude and heat were doing their best to sap all the energy I had.  This was the first time in a race where I just wanted to take a nap (this wouldn't end until I finished).  Even Leadville's 4am start and full night of moving didn't put me in the zombie like state I felt.  The panoramas stretched on forever, and soon it felt like this section was too.  I was already running low on water and aid station was nowhere in sight.  I was antsy at first, and then annoyed, anxious and annoyed again.  Where was this place!? It seemed like I could see the next 2 miles of trail around some meadow, surely I had to be closer than that.  Finally, the tents and food revealed themselves around a corner, tucked behind some trees, well before the meadow.  

I left the aid station with a stomach full of watermelon and broth.  In an effort to keep everything down I decided to walk for three minutes.  Three minutes turned into three minutes and the next course marking, then three minutes + the next course marking + the top of this hill, etc... I was lethargic and down.  It was no longer possible to ignore the smoke that hung in the air, so I was glad to have trained through the High Park Fire.  If nothing else, I was smoke-acclimitzed.  On the course profile, this section looks like one long downhill for 9 miles, but I found it to be much different than the graphic on the back of the race shirt.  I kept waiting for the course to head back to the valley and finally it did, but I found out that running downhill wasn't as easy as it seemed it my mind.  Eventually I found some semblance of rhythm and thought that I'd turned my race around.  I ran into the mile 40 aid station and a blur of activity, I was out with Dakota before I really knew what hit me. 

The last 10 miles....where to begin...  The puke fest started as the trail exited the trees of Vicker's Ranch and directed us across a large, hot field.  It would not end until 6 hours after it started, in the garage of the Lake City Clinic with an IV in my arm.  Part of this story is funny, because I spent 4.5 hours walking 10 miles.  It's funny because I threw up, uncontrollably, and a lot.  It's funny because I shot watermelon out of my nose as a snot rocket and thought that was funny when it happened and consciously thought "oh, watermelon is great when I'm puking because it tastes just fine coming back up".  It's funny because I was with Dakota, who, in his entire life, has not been passed as many times as we were passed.  It's funny because Dakota kept commenting on how hot it was without the helicopters providing a constant breeze.  It's funny because I sat at an aid station for 15 minutes to keep food down, walked 100 yards and puked it all up.  To paraphrase Ryan Burch - I was watching people walk past me and just wished I could walk as fast as they were.  All this is only funny because I finished and at the end of the day I was healthy.  None of this shit was funny while it was happening though, in fact it was a little scary because I had no idea how to fix it.  I was working just as hard, if not harder, to just get up from a log after puking than I was while running the Divide section.  Yes, it sucks when the most effort you can give is a measly walk, especially when you are walking downhill, but when it’s all you can do, it’s all you can do.  

14:40+ minutes and no injury is still better than last years DNF and plantar issues, so I guess you could say I'm improving. (a BIG thanks to those who were concerned about me on the trail and after the race, next year I'll figure out how to finish and enjoy beers at the end).

                                            San Juan Solace - Photo: Brendan Trimboli (3rd!!)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Scissors beats Paper, You beat Rocks.

With the Quad Rock right around the corner, I figure someone has to offer a practical preview for people like me.  Burch, Clark and Pete have offered their perspective, but here's how I'd run this one.

Friday night:
Fort Collins has some great breweries (in case you haven't heard...) but most aren't open late.  Check out Equinox for the best brews in town, it's open until 9pm.  If you can make it to FoCo early enough I recommend the O'Dell/Equinox double.  If you're wondering "well geez, should I really drink heavily before Quad Rock?" the answer is yes.  Let me put it this way, you aren't going to beat Gunshow Burch on his home trails, and there is no prize for 68th place.  We've got a lot more to offer than trails here (ie; beer). Indulge in both.  (What's that thing Killian says, "more hangover, more fun"?) 

Race day:
* From what I understand (I've not attempted a QR loop) the course starts with a few runnable miles. Enjoy them.  Our little climbs might not look like much compared to the more drastic profiles of San Juan Solstice etc... but they will add up.  (The climb up Mill Creek is intimidating enough that in 2 years of living here, I've never run up it.  The climbs up Saw Mill and Horsetooth aren't that bad, but they aren't that nice either.)  At least you'll get to go down them next time around.  My advice: Once the trail turns upward, start hiking.  Repeat.  

* Hiking poles are "illegal" in this race (The Great Nick Clark don't need no stinkin wizard sticks, and neither should you!), for a small fee I'll happily stash your poles a hew hundred feet up the first climb before the race, and collect them from the top of the last climb after the race.  A little civil disobedience never hurt anybody, right?

* In my experience, the key to a successful long run in Horsetooth is patience and food.  You'll have to supply the patience, but the aid stations should be stocked up.  Anything you don't eat will end up in Nick's belly, and a fat Nick is a slow Nick.

* If you follow the course markings closely you'll probably only get lost once or twice.  Don't freak out when this happens, you won't end up in RMNP or Wyoming as our trail system is self contained.  Just keep going until you find an aid station (don't look confused when you get there) and pretend nothing happened.  

* Fort Collins isn't Boulder, so for most of the race you won't encounter people that aren't with the race.  The exception to this rule is the Southridge/Horsetooth climb.  These people will go into shock if you tell them you are running 50 miles, so don't.  We wouldn't want the ambulances wasted on weekend hikers.

I'm not encouraging anyone to leave the race scene early, Lory will be a wonderful host for a post race picnic.  Pateros Creek will have 3.2% beer at the finish line, but after running 50 miles you might be interested in some watered down libations - New Belgium is open until 6 if you can get there in time.  My favorite post race food is pizza, and your best bet in town is Beau Jo's in Old Town (which happens to be about a block from Equinox!).  For those of you who are cheap like me, try Lucky Joe's as your post race bar - the atmosphere is chill and the peanuts are free.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

4 Guys, 2 Bears

4 guys, 2 bears; As the title suggests, this was a nauseating day on the trails.
The signs were pretty obvious - violent heaving for 24 hours between Wednesday and Thursday, a Friday night weigh in that confirmed I was still down about 6 pounds, and a still, inexplicably, buoyant attitude Saturday morning.  I try to exercise a lot of caution when dealing with illness or injury.  Usually I bide my time and let things clear up.  It was clear that the only thing working in my favor for our planned 3 Bears route was that I really wanted to run.  So I did.  In a sport where attitude is everything, it was clear that my head was going to have to convince my legs to make it through this day.   
We left Chautauqua and headed up the paved section of the Mesa Trail.  Usually this would be an easy jog and a great place to conversate with friends. Instead, I was concerned with the rapidity that I started sweating and the fact that even on this gentle grade, I couldn't find the space in between breaths to chide Steve for my stereotype of lawyers, formed by this scene, which I watched for the umpteenth time the previous night. 
The section of Mesa Trail seemed to stretch much longer than the advertised "few" miles.  The shortest steep pitches required Euro-style hiking.  The world seemed to have shrunk to the space between my eyes and the trail.  A strange thing happened though, instead of wallowing in pity, I tried to just enjoy the fact that even on my worst day, I could still move through the Boulder trails with some (albeit plodding) consistency.  There wasn't a point where I "decided" to go slow and smile the whole time, it just happened as a result of there being no other option.  Until Dave Mackey was lurking behind me.
As our group left South Boulder Pk, I quickly fell behind.  I suck on technical piles of rock to begin with, whilst lightheaded my lack of speed is a joke. While leaving the summit, two figures came darting past me in the opposite direction, JV and Dave Mackey, two guys with admirable running and climbing talents.  Hellos were exchanged and very quickly they were back on my heels.  JV and my three amigos slowly pulled away, and Dave was left at my heels.  I insisted that he go ahead, but he refused.  I wanted to explain that I felt like crap and blah blah blah, but I didn't have scratch paper to illustrate this graph:   
Happy Running!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Week of (insert dates here).

Only 10 weeks until Solstice!

Monday- Day off. I don't run on Monday. Call it a tradition, superstition or laziness, but Monday is my day off. Rest is underrated. For all of you who run 7 days a week ("streakers," I believe), consider this - even God took Sunday off.

Tuesday - I was supposed to run 6 easy miles but I only ran 5. It was hot and windy, my IPod ran out of juice and I got bored with my weekly pavement run. With a long day planned for Saturday, and prime numbers being preferable, it was easy to justify cutting some miles...

Wednesday - Ran "Brian's Loop." I'm sure Brian wants to know how this loop came to be named after him. Well, it was his GPS watch that determined the distance as 7.5 miles, and it's the only run that I can put an exact mileage on. If this loop were 9 miles, I'd run 9. Instead it's 7.5 and that is good enough for me. Also, this loop is about as long as I like to run without water. (an astute reader of my blog has already learned several great excuses for shortening runs, but this is my favorite. Who can argue with dehydration?). If I round the 7.5 down, I'm left with a prime number!

Thursday - 4 miles at practice, flat and slow. (I told everyone in the FCTRs that it was 5 miles, to sound cool). 2 miles w/u for HTTT + 5 at HTTT. Summit in 28:57 via Rock trail and Soderburg shortcut. Total of 11 for day, (solid prime number). I stood on top of the rock for 10 minutes, during last years HTTT I couldn't handle the exposure for 10 seconds. Exposure training is paying off, but I don't see Long's Peak in my future. Perhaps if I took off my high heels, I'd feel more stable (yes, I understand that this may be offensive to women.)

Friday - Friday is like Monday, with the addition of a few miles. The goal is always to make the weekend easier. Sometimes this means running a few miles, sometimes it means standing for 7 hours at a track meet - this week it meant doing both. 3 miles - and another prime number!

Saturday - Most of Golden Gate Dirty Thirty course. Thanks to the ingenious State Parks service, who has decided to mark trails with footprints rather than names, I learned all about the feet of Mule Deer, Snowshoe Hares, Mountain Lions and Black Bears. This was a fun day with 2 people who'd probably rather not be associated with me, and will thus remain nameless. If the Forest Service rangers followed the Bush Doctrine they would have preemptively sent search and rescue, based on how many times we showed up at their huge pick-up trucks, lost and asking for directions.

Sunday - I forgot to turn off yesterday's 5:45am alarm so I was up atypically early. I ran for about an hour, I'd guess it was 7 miles (I need 7 to hit my mile-goal for the week, so 7 it is). Once home I immediately fell back asleep. Woke up at noon and had a typical American lazy Sunday. It was great. Prime number!

Summary - I ran 6 days this week, and managed to hit 5 days of prime numbers. This is an arbitrary way to measure success in running, but I've found that if I measure in miles, time or effort I end up disappointed. By choosing to make prime-number-mileage-days the most important factor (pun intended) of a running week I've totally removed the incentive to run fast or far. I just plod along for 3,5,7,11,13,17,19,23,29,31,37,41,43,47 or 53 miles. If I hit one of those numbers, SUCCESS!

Am I excited that Run Rabbit Run actually measures to 101 miles?! YOU BETCHA.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

APB - La Sportiva Wildcat, size 44 - made in VIETNAM

According to La Sportiva, 28% of their shoes come from China, and 12% come from Vietnam. The first time I bought their shoes, I must have hit the jackpot and gotten a Vietnam pair. They fit like a glove. I wore those shoes until they were in several pieces, and then bought my next pair. This time the roulette wheel of cheap manufacturing came up China, and the difference was noticeable.
The shoes showed signs of wear much earlier, and a simple size comparison showed that they were indeed slightly longer and more narrow. I'm no zenophobe, this is not a complaint about the relative merits of Vietnamese and Chinese craftsmanship. But I need a size 44 from Vietnam, ASAP. Today I've called some shoe stores and sounded like a total "American" (you know what I mean) by requesting shoes from Vietnam, rather than China. No dice.
So, here is your mission, if you choose to accept it: Find me some shoes from Vietnam. Chances are you'll be going into a running store in the next few weeks. All you have to say is "I have a friend..." and no one will think you are the jingoistic one. My feet need this! I will reward the first person to get me these shoes with a box of stale Peeps, unlimited compliments and my Netflix username and password.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten

This blog is not intended to be taken seriously, so yes, I understand that this movie is disturbing. That being said, it is a hilarious screenshot.