Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 year review

I started officially running in 1995 which makes this the completion of my 20th year.  2014 was an interesting year, no PR’s and in most measurements never the best but far from the worst year of running.  I think the main reason for this was my real life.  I went from being a teacher back into an office job.   I sure many other thing affected my running to but really I am not complaining.  I am very happy with the year I had and not every year has to be better than the previous.

I keep a lot of statistics and track all kinds of data.   I love being able to look back and compare what I am doing now with any previous time in my running.     My running log contains my last 15 years of running and includes over 16,000 miles.  Below are a few of the more important stats that I track, next year I hope to have 1st next to each.

2,201 miles, 3rd best year
234 Days run, 5th best year
360:03:16 total running time, 2nd best year
141,084 vertical climbing, first year recording but I am sure it would be the most of any other year

11 Races
I had a pretty good year of racing.  The main focus of the year and the highlight was the Indian creek 50mi.  The whole year was about training and running tough mountain ultra.    Running all those slow miles on the trails was probably the reason for the lack of PR’s this year.   Also this year I got to pace my first marathon the 4:00 group at Colfax.    I love running new races and this year 6 of the 11 race that I ran were brand new to me.

7 - Marathons, fastest 3:27:55 3rd best marathon missed my PR by 55 seconds
1 - Ultra Marathon, 2nd 50miler but this one featured 11,000ft of elevation gain
1 - 10k, 41:32 2nd best 10K
3 – half marathons, fastest 1:33:28 2nd fast half marathon

Streaks were the first statistic that I tracked when I first began my running log.  At western State I ran 117 days in a row for a total of 1,104 miles, over 9 miles a day over 4 months.  I don’t run endlessly like that anymore without breaks but I still find streaks useful in tracking my consistency.    over the years I have noticed that consistency in running in very important.  Here are some of my running steaks that I continued in 2014.  (I track about 45 streak stats)

4 years – 2000 total miles
5 years – 200 days run
58 months – 100 total miles
48 months – Long run of at least 15 miles
132 weeks – Run at least 2 days

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Indian Creek 50

13:20:46 – 52.6 miles – 11,000ft elevation gain

 All that was left on my list of 2014 goals was to complete a 50 miler (my second). I originally planed on completing this goal at the Leadville Silver Rush in July. But over the summer I got burned out and decided to not even sign up even though I had been training for it since the start of the year. I overcame this burnout with some fun fast half marathons. When it came time to get back to business I set my sights on the Indian Creek 50 miler. A brand new race from a brand new race company, it would be their second official race. I was worried about the November date because it could be nice and warm or a blizzard. It didn’t matter, I was in and this time no bailing out.

Loop 1: Off we go
The race started off started off with a “clink”, rather than a gun the race director starts the race by hitting a rock with a pickaxe. I was still fidgeting with my gear so I walked casually across the string line and at least the first minute into the race. The race started in the middle of a national forest at 6am. It was dark, one of my favorite memories was looking up the trail and seeing the long line of headlamps in front of me. We ran up hill for a few miles in the dark and when we reached the top we were treated to an awesome view of Denver still asleep. The sun rose as we started down the mountain, this was the most dangerous time as the half-light hid obstacles. I turned and ankle on a steep section and while attempting to catch myself from falling slammed the side and top of my foot into a rock or a stump. My ankle stung for a few steps but then quickly got better while the side of my foot felt like it had been sliced open.

Once at the bottom of the hill I took a second to take off my jacket and headlamp and put them in my backpack. It was cloudy and probably around 60F a perfect day for running. The second half of this loop was all uphill climbing over 1,800ft between miles 8-14. I had only brought my backpack to carry extra clothes, I don’t like carrying it around and I use a hand held for hydration. I was running with my friends Meaghan and Dave we were having fun, sharing stories and enjoying the amazing trails. I had decided earlier in the week that I would stay with Meaghan for the first 50K of the race. It was her first 50K and I was excited for her become and ultra-marathoner. Running with Meaghan also benefited me because the time passed quickly I wasn’t thinking about pace or how far I had to run today.

Loop 2: Still enjoying the trails
Back at the finish line I spent a moment refilling supplies. The weather was nice so I decided to ditch my backpack and stuff my pockets with SCaps and food. Leaving this aid station we were treated to some more awesome trails and a lot of downhill. I think it was about 6-7 miles to the Waterton aid station with 2,300ft or so drop in elevation with a few small climbs along the way. This course is all up or down never flat. Leaving the Waterton aid station (mile 22ish) I noticed the first signs of trouble. I was falling behind on my food intake and at this stop I tried to catch up. I had some quesadillas, turkey sandwiches and I finished of my bottle and refilled it before heading off. I was doing good with my salt intake of 1 SCap per hour. I had a huge hill ahead so I took some more food with me to eat while I hiked (more turkey sandwiches). This hill seemed like it would never end and after a mile or two up the group I was with all went silent which meant everyone was suffering. My heart rate was crazy high just hiking up this section and I was sweating a lot. I reached the aid station and ate more sandwiches, grapes and refilled my bottle. Leaving the aid station we had a good section of runnable downhill terrain. The group I was with ran a solid 3 miles without walking (miles 26,27 & 28)   That’s when we hit another huge climb. The second loop of this race was the toughest of the 3, it was about 21 miles long with 2 major climes of 5-6 miles each.

Loop 2: Losing my mind
Hiking up the final miles of the 2nd loop I decided it was time to part ways with my friend Meaghan. There were 2 major reasons behind this. I could tell we wouldn’t be able to motivate each other and I knew she could finish from here. The second reason was that I was dangerously low on fluids. Meaghan is a great friend and I know that if she noticed that I was out of water she would give me some of hers. This was her first ultra and I could tell that she was struggling. I couldn’t let her sacrifice her chances of finishing because of my unpreparedness. So on I went and within minutes I finished of my last of my available fluids somewhere between miles 28-29. Not long after that came my scheduled hourly SCap which I decided to dry swallow. Looking at my watch I realized I still how far I had to go which sent me into a panic, “How can I possible run 20 more miles”? My mind continued to descend into doubt and anger and just about every other emotion. It was a downward spiral that I couldn’t stop. At around mile 32 I dry swallowed my second SCap still climbing and hoping the aid station would come soon. My mind kept spiraling until I was thinking up excuses to quit at 50K. I finally came to the concluding that I don’t need an excuse I am just done and who cares what anyone thinks. Eventually the aid station came into view and zombie trotted my way over to my crew. I had been without water for about 2hrs all while climbing nearly 2,000ft I was finished.

50k Aid station
My body went into auto pilot and my brain quit sending orders. My friends Mitch (support crew) and Barrett (pacer) quickly got me fluids, fed me, refilled my supplies and gave me fresh clothes (I changed my shirt and socks). Before I could really think what happened my Barrett and I had heading off for the final loop. Leaving the aid station I did turn around just in time to watch Meaghan cross the finish of her first ultra. Over that quick pit stop I drank 20oz of coffee, 20oz of Gatorade and a shot of whisky. I also made a big change that was a little bit of a gamble since I was going to be trying something new (Don’t change anything is usually rule #1). But at this point all the chips were out on the table and I and nothing more to lose. The change was going from 1 to 2 handheld bottles. No more switching hands and now it would be more difficult to eat and mess with gear but I would be carrying twice the liquids. Without my friends Mitch and Barrett at this aid station I would have called it a day right there. Thank you both guy, I owe both of you bigtime.

Loop 3: The real work begins
The 3rd loop of this race started off with an easy 2 mile climb followed by a long well deserved 8 miles of rolling downhill trails. My stomach was swishing from all the fluids and food I just ate but 15 minutes later I was climbing better I had been in hours. The first 4 miles of downhill (miles 37-40) I managed to keep about a 12:00/mi pace. I came into the 40 mile aid station feeling better than I did at mile 30 or even mile 20. I filled up both bottles and ate a snickers before heading out. In ultra running you don’t avoid hitting the wall you just hit the wall multiple times and learn to deal with those highs and lows. In the early 40’s I again was suffering and barely able to walk up some of the steeper inclines. I was paying the price from my race day change, my arms were really tired. Running down the switchbacks of the Colorado trail all I could think was “How could I possible get back up this a few miles from now”. Barrett and I arrived at the final aid station just before sun set. My head was in a fog and all I knew was I eating magical watermelon because nothing had ever tasted better in my life. I ate so much that the volunteer cut had to some more for me, the race the volunteers were amazing. I ate as much as I could and then packed a few more pieces for the road. All that remained was an intimidating 6 mile climb to the finish line.

Loop 3: into the dark and on to the finish
I have run races with tough finishes but this was brutal the last 6 miles climbed more than 2,000ft out of the canyon up to the finish line. Not to mention along the way included some nice sized down hills. The first 2 miles out of the canyon were the toughest (1200ft climb) but I was running on special watermelon and I actually ran a lot more than I thought I would. With about 4 miles to go we were running with headlamps in the dark not dusk dark. But I felt a strange comfort running in the dark, maybe because I knew I would finish now or because I run in the dark most days. Perhaps my brain only had enough energy to process not falling from the 2’X2’ section of visible trail in front of me. Whatever it was those last few miles were actually enjoyable. I kept thinking I was seeing people up the trail only to find it was a glow stick once we arrived at the spot. Over the last 15 miles Barrett and I kept making predictions on where the finish would be which varied between 51 and 56 miles. Now that we were getting close we both agreed that it would be 52-53, the debate helped pass the time. Coming around a corner I suddenly recognized that I was in the campground and the finish was just around the corner. 2 minutes later I was crossing the finish line in a very empty field. The race director congratulates and shakes the hand of every finisher as they cross the line.

Post Race
I sat in a lawn chair and had some amazing chicken soup, run far enough and anything you eat is awesome. The guy in my carpool finished less than 5 minutes in front of me so that worked out great, the other guy I bought finished an hour earlier but had he family take him home. Getting out of that lawn chair and walking up hill to my car was an interesting challenge as was driving my car home. I left my house around 4:00 am and I got home around 9:00 pm which I then spent telling my kids stories of my crazy adventure that day. As tired as I was I didn’t want go to bed yet and I need a shower.

I didn’t know it at the time but I won the DFL prize which stands for Dead F*@king Last. At first I didn’t know what to think about that because I have been so competitive in the past, it did mean that I got a free race next year and I get to keep the bottle of whiskey. After a few moments of letting it sink in I started to really embrace it. That was a hell of a race and to be the last survivor across the finish line is special. I called my kids over and showed them the results followed by a good talked about what it means to win or lose. For years I have been asked by friends, family and coworkers “Did you win the race”, at times in my life I have been pretty fast and do you know how many races I have won… try 0. I don’t feel like I “win” or “lose” describes running at all and especially not ultra-running. I would prefer to describe this day with words like persevere, challenge, fear, adventure and community.

1. I have some awesome friends and I can’t wait to support them in their crazy adventures.
2. I learned so much about myself today. Those darkest times were driven by fear, fear of failure.
3. My hydration strategy needs an upgrade.
4. My body was tough. No muscle cramps, no major blisters and no chafing. My feet complained only a little while my knees, ankles and hips never complained once.
5. My mind was no so tough today. Personally it’s been a tough few weeks that I had no control over but I am optimistic that things are going to get better.

And finally some picturesI didn’t take any and these are downloaded from my friends Facebook posts, let me know if you want credit or a cut of the money that my blog rakes in ($0.00 so far).

Start of the race

Roxbrough state park

I think this is about 20 miles into the race

I can’t imagine a place I would rather spend 13hrs

Running out of sunlight

And my favorite the finish

Sunday, October 19, 2014

2014 Rock n’ Roll Denver

26.2 mi – 3:50:55

Goals for this race (in order of importance)
1. Run easy enough so I can recover before my 50miler on November 1st
2. Run Sub 4hrs
3. Have fun

Pre Race
I do a lot of things that other runners would call dumb, within my track club I have the reputation being “that crazy guy”. But I am not that crazy and I take on challenges that I think I can overcome. This race on the other hand had me questioning my sanity. A marathon 2 weeks before a 50 miler that is stupid. It’s not a good sign when you are questioning yourself add to that the pressure of all my friends running or spectating, a streak that I can’t let die (goal #2) and a rough training schedule that I just finished a week earlier. It was obvious that there was no way that I could hit all three of my goals.

0 – 10, 10 miles – 1:27:29, 8:45 pace
Right of the bat my legs felt like crud. I have found that when I am training hard I can go week to week without soreness but as soon as a take some time off all that fatigue catches up with me. This week and last week was my rest break. The 5 weeks of training before that was brutal with 5 long runs over 20 miles. It didn’t help that they changed the course this year and significantly added a lot more hills to the early miles. By mile 10 my legs felt like they could cramp up at any moment. At least the weather was perfect it was in the 50’s and overcast.

11-20, 10 miles – 1:29:07:29, 8:55 pace
One thing that I did have going for me was the amount of friends and family running and spectating. Knowing that I was going to run slower I backed up into coral 6 and ran with a friend. As the day got hotter he had to let me go on without him but we ran a good chunk together. I slowed down too but not at much as the entire race seemed to slow. Because I started in corral 6 I kept catching up to friends which I would chat with for a moment and then be on my way. I am amazed that was able to find so many people within the 12,000 runners. At mile 12ish 10,000 of those runners turned off our course to finish the half marathon. The course was a little more lonesome, just the way I like it. I had to go to the bathroom pretty bad but I told myself that I would go when I saw an open pot-a-pottie. Unfortunately that didn’t happen until mile 15, I always go by this rule and sometime it takes until mile 18-20 before I don’t have to wait in line. My calfs still were threating to cramp and I was feeling warm, I was no longer coasting and I knew that was going to have to work now to keep my sub 4:00.

21-24, 4 miles – 35:42, 8:51 pace
The clouds rolled away and the sun came out raising the temp up to about 70F. I was still holding my pace pretty steady. At this time I was flying past people who were destroyed, which was most everyone. My kids were waiting for me at their usual spot where they could see me twice and I was happy to see them as usual. In addition to my family I probably saw a friend spectating every 2-3 miles along the course. One of my goals this off season is to repay the favor and cheer my friends on in their races.

25-26.2, 2.2 miles – 18:38, 8:28 pace
With only 2 miles to go I lifted the self-imposed speed limit. Late in a marathon if you can hold your pace you pass people like crazy, speed up and it’s like they are standing still as you blow past them. This race has really grown and the finish this year was awesome. From about a half mile out you are running through a tunnel of cheering people, it was so loud. I actually had a final kick in me that felt fast my gamin said 7:30 pace for the last 0.2, at least it was enough to outsprint superman. Later my son asked me “why didn’t superman just fly to the finish?

Goals Revisited
1. Run easy enough to recover. Check, today (Wednesday) I ran 7 miles @ 8:38 pace for my easy run
2. Run Sub 4hrs. Check, and the streak continues to 10 sub 4’s in a row.
3. Have fun. Check.... Well sorta, that was a lot harder than I planned so there wasn’t much time to stop and smell the roses.

A few stats
21st Marathon/Ultra
8th fastest marathon
10th consecutive sub 4:00 marathon (excluding ultras and trail 26.2’s)
4th Denver Rock n’ Roll Marathon (I have also run the half 2 times)
6th marathon of 2014

21.5 miles into the race and I am having way to much fun

This one is at 23.5 miles. I just gave my daughter a high five, I look determined.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Peak week of training

I finished training for the Indian Creek 50m with my hardest weekend of training ever.

Saturday – 21 mile trail run with 4500ft of climbing (Deer Creek)
We started off at 6:00am on the trail with headlamps. This was my first time running in the dark up a trail with headlamps. The beams of light from the different runners bounced off the rocks and casts weird shadows. About 3 switchbacks up I started to feel dizzy because of the lights. We watched the sunrise around 7:00am. I dropped my friend off in the parking lot at about 8-10 miles and then headed up the mountain again for lap 2.

Sunday – 16 mile trail run with 3700ft of climbing (Mt Falcon)
My legs and feet ached when I woke up and I started the run very dehydrated. I took in lots of liquids and ate a lot on the trail. After a few miles I felt much better but the overall tiredness stayed with me. Just like yesterday I ran with my friends and then dropped them off in the parking lot around 10 miles and then headed back up to the top of the mountain.

Weekend totals for the last 2 runs
37.4 miles
8:11 total running time (13:10 pace)
8,200ft of climbing

It helped that I was spoiled with great trails and great weather.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

2014 Equinox Half Marathon

Ft Collins Colorado
13.1 – 1:36:30

This is going sound less like a race report and more like a training diary. With my ultra marathon looming in the future this half marathon that I signed up for months ago just felt unimportant. I haven’t done any speed work in weeks and I really needed to get in another ultra marathon training weekend, the solution… race sabotage.

Saturday – Long run
It was my son’s birthday and we were due at chucky cheese by 10am. I had to skip the group run from home to save time. I got up at 4:30 am with the goal of running as much as possible by 8:30am. I left the house around 5:30 so I basically had 3:00 or about 20 miles. Early on I was grumpy and nearly called off the run at 10 miles when I stopped back at the house to get a new bottle. On my second loop I bumped into my friends and then ran with them from about 17 to 19. They are training to run twin cities in 3:15 so we were running pretty quickly. I ended up running 21 miles in about 3:07 the entire run felt like a giant progression run. No food on this run only liquids.
0-7 miles @ 9:42 pace, Grouchy and thinking won’t have time to get 20 miles done
8-12 mi @ 9:03 pace, Feeling better and the sun came up
13-16 @ 8:35 pace, now I was attacking the course and making up time. 20 miles is looking possible
17-19 @ 8:09 pace, trying to keep up with my friends for 3 miles they were 8 miles into their run
20-21 @ 7:54 pace, burst through that pain barrier, my friends turned around and I somehow went faster back home.

Sunday - Race
It was about 30 minutes before the race when I bumped into an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years. She convinced me to run a short warm up with her up the canyon 1.7 total miles. My feet freaking ached during this short warm up but my muscles felt really good. The original plan was to take it easy and hope for a sub 2:00 but now I had this stupid idea that 1:40 would be pretty awesome.
Miles 0-4 Avg 7:28 min/mile
Not planning for the race at all I had no idea what pace I needed for 1:40 and I still had my Gatorade bottle which I wouldn’t have minded at 9:00 min pace. I calculated in my head that I needed about a 7:35 (actually I needed 7:3 and I knew that my watch would be off so the plan was to run in the 7:20’. My feet hurt so bad those first few miles but my breathing was easily in check. They didn’t have an aid station till mile 4 so it was handy having my own drink at mile 2. I ended up tossing that bottle at the mile 4 aid station.

Miles 5-8 Avg 7:21 min/mile
Now that my hands were free my shoulders relaxed and I felt much faster. This course is in a beautiful canyon that drops 800ft from start to finish. The clouds and the canyon walls blocked us from most of the sunlight. My feet stop complaining in this section and everything seemed perfect.

Miles 9-12 Avg 7:22 min/mile
At an aid station near mile 9 I ate my only gel of the race. The road started to flatten out and the clouds went away. The temp went up a little but it was still an awesome day. I began flying passed people and I looked and my watch and I was only running even splits but everyone else was falling off the pace. Around mile 10 was first time I felt out of breath. From then on I felt like I was working really hard and actually in a race.

Miles 13 and the last 0.1 Avg 7:04 pace
Suddenly I realized I had a little over a mile left and I dramatically picked up the pace. I was surprised to hear a friend of mine cheering me on, I didn’t know she was going to be there and she didn’t know I was running. I ended up clocking the last mile in 7:09 and then kicking it into the finish at 6:10 pace for the last bit. The 35th mile of the weekend was the fastest.

No pictures this time so I borrowed one from the main page of the race website. Most of the race looks like this but sometimes the canyon walls were vertical cliffs. This was by far the most scenic half marathon I have ever run and it’s very fast. I might have to come back next year and go for a sub 1:30.

Monday, September 1, 2014

American Discovery Trail Marathon

Colorado Springs, CO
26.2 – 3:41:24 

Pre-Race, Goals and Strategies. 
I was sick off and on all last week and I cut both of last weekend’s runs short because of stomach problems. During the week I thought I was getting better but Saturday and Sunday were not good, I felt like I was pre-race hydrating with pepto bismol. Needless to say any plans and goals I had made for this race were off the table. I didn’t take any medicine after about 3 pm the day before the race because I didn’t know how it would react to long distance running and I don’t want to run races that way. 

Surprisingly I woke up race morning feeling good. Because of the point to point course I now had a 30 minute bus ride to figure out today’s race plan. I decided that I needed to go out fast enough that a PR would be possible but if anything went wrong just back off and call it a training day (no gutting it out today). Really I decided that I would make the call on the run but I want to keep that PR door open. I was ready for a nice flat fast marathon… 

Miles 0-8 (8:02 pace) 
I saw my friend at the start of the race who was pacing the 3:45 group. I looked at his pace chart and saw that the mile spits were all over the place to account for the hills. I did look at the race profile and saw that it dropped 1200 ft over 26 miles. I was pretty shocked that there were any hills on this course. My buddy reassured me that they were small hills but to watch out for mile 9 and 22. I took off running many of the first miles under 8 min pace. If I hadn’t stopped at the bathroom this section would have easily averaged sub 8:00 pace. When I got out of the bathroom the 3:30 group had caught me and I spent the next few miles near them. The course had been 100% dirt so far but it was not the nice hard packed dirt I was also expecting. It was soft and almost sand like in places, other runner and I shifted back and forth across the 8ft wide path trying to say on hard packed dirt. The course featured a lot of little hills very short but steep hills. Enough to knock you off your comfortable pace and make to need to accelerate to get back on pace. With the hills, trail surface, possible illness and warm weather I called it off right there and started enjoying my day. 

Miles 9-20 (8:32 pace) 
As my friend warned mile 9 did feature a long slow climb. But to tell the truth I would gladly take this over those short steep climbs. The short hills kept coming but now that I was in cruise control they didn’t bother me so much. This part of the course went through the air force academy it was gorgeous out there lot of trees and huge mountains. The race began to spread out and it got a bit lonely it felt like just another long run. I forgot to mention all those short steep hills where also accompanied by a short steep downhill’s. The downhill’s might actually be harder on your quads then up but downhill fatigue sneaks up on you and all the sudden I noticed at mile 18 that my legs felt trashed. 

Miles 21-26.2 (8:50 pace) 
Suddenly the race wasn’t so lonely and I was running with people again (only about 400 in the race). The final miles were on a bike path in town which was paved at times. At this point I was feeling pretty good although overheated. I was thinking that I could run 3:38-3:39 if ran a little harder. All that was left was another mystery hill at mile 23. It was a big hill and this time I attacked passing a bunch of people on the way up all while laughing at the handmade signs. The signs were staggered every 20ft or so with 1 word per sign “Shut”, “UP”, “Legs!” it was just so fitting. After the hill I coasted down an equally big downhill and then some flat miles to the finish. I kept trying to calculate how fast I needed for 3:39 but my brain refused to work. I actually had a small kick coming into the finish my watch said 7:35 for the last 0.2 miles not much but it felt good to know I could speed up. 

Post Race – and pics 
Mini milestone - this was marathon/ultra #20 when I joined Loseit I had 2 completed. 
Lesson Learned - I run lots of hills and trails but not at that pace. This hills shouldn’t have caught me off like that, I should have done my research and known what was on the course. 
End of the day - After the race I felt about as tired as a hard long run which is fine because I have other long races I need to run this fall, “Live to fight another day”. 

I think this is at about mile 8. Good shot of the loose dirt I was talking about. 

I took this one around mile 12 while running 

On the pavement somewhere around mile 22 

I only look like I am walking, still moving at sub 9:00 pace 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Evergreen Town Race 10K

6.2 Miles – 41:32 (6:42 pace)
32nd overall and 7th in 30-39 men’s

First off I have a confession. I have gained back a chunk of weight and I have been in denial but I am ready to own up to the fact that I need to fix my diet. I am proof that you can’t out exercise a bad diet, I ran 230 miles last month and put in some good races recently. My running fitness feels really strong and it makes me wonder how fast I could be if I weighted as much as I did last year at 180lbs vs my current 196lbs.

I had a crummy running week and decided to write this race off as a workout. On Saturday I felt good and ran a hilly 10 mile course at 8:15 pace not something you should do the day before a race, but I wasn’t going to race. I should know when I am lying to myself I cannot “not race” but it does seem to take the pressure off.

Mile 1 – 6:28
I feel very marathon geared and not 10K geared. I decided that the best strategy was to go out at PR pace and then see how I feel. I wasn’t sure if I was in shape for a PR but I wanted put myself in the right place that I could get a PR (40:45 on this course in 2011).

Miles – 2 & 3 (6:45, 6:47)
That was a blazing fast first mile, my fastest single mile this year was 6:14 and I was paying for it the next 2 miles. I just tried to hold on to a decent pace while suffering. The crowd began to thin out and everything just kinda relaxed. This course has a fair amount of downhill and I was defiantly taking advantage by coasting and recovering. I completed the first 5k in about 20:41 not bad at all but I would be hard to match.

Miles 4 & 5 (6:54, 6:42)
Running a 10K (and shorter) is a lot different because pacing is so different. I feel like you take what each mile gives you and try to do the best you can each mile. After the 5K mark I defiantly felt recovered from mile 1 but now the course was harder and hotter. They started this race a 8:45 am, I think I was blind the majority of the race from all the sweat in my eyes.

Mile 6 & 0.2 (6:41, 6:05 pace for the last 0.2)
Like a lot of the races I have run, if you can hold your pace even you are going to pass a lot of people eventually. In this last mile I was passing people like crazy but looking at my watch I saw that I was going exactly the same speed. When I hit the last mile marker I did speed up a little but there was no sprint to the finish today.

I felt like I had slowed down a lot during the race but my second 5K was only 0:10 slower at 20:51. I missed my PR by 0:47 seconds but I can’t help but think that I could have beaten that time if I was lighter. Looking at the guys I finished around I am least 40lbs heavier than most of them.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Roxborough – Scouting an upcoming race course

I logged 68 miles last week which was a little more than I planned on running. I wasn’t planning on running a double long run this weekend. On Sunday our trail group split in two a short group that was looking for 8 miles on out and back section and the long group who were going to run the entire loop (14 miles we thought). I wanted 10-12 so I stuck with the long group on this huge loop that ended up being 16 miles. Another runner and I stopped our watches at 15 miles and walked the last mile to the car we were out of water, exhausted and agreed that we had plenty of miles for the day. This week I have another 60 miles planed but next week I am going to break the streak with a rest week.

Hope you guys don’t mind a few trail pictures:

Here I am around mile 5, it was my first time running this trail. We were doing recon for a possible race this fall that uses this 16 mile loop.

We are heading down to those red rocks in the valley. I think they are about 1000ft below us at this point. Once we got there we took a left and climbed over the mountain back to our cars on the other side.

Here is one of the smaller red rocks from the previous picture. We turned before we got the really big ones (I have run that section before). I think his one is about 50 ft tall, the bigger ones are hundreds of feet tall.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

2014 Slacker Half Marathon
13.1 – 1:33:28
46th/1100 and 4th in age group

In 2009 I ran the slacker half marathon as my first race back to the sport. I weighed about 220lbs and finished in 2:15:30. I was pretty happy with that time because a few years earlier and I couldn’t run faster than 12:00 pace for 3 miles. 2002 was the last time I was a competitive runner but even by then I had gained a fair amount of weight and lost a lot of speed. 
The slacker HM is an interesting race it starts up at 10,800ft and drops 2,300ft over 13.1 miles to Georgetown CO at 8,500ft hence the name Slacker. But that name is a little deceiving because the race also has some uphills and on any flat or uphill section you quickly remember that you are at high elevation. 

Miles 1 – 10 1:11:55 (7:11 pace) 
It was freezing at the start 28F and the roads were wet from snow that had fallen over night. During the week and the on the way to the race I decided to scrap my plans of running a 1:40. I still had some sore muscles and I was a little worried about pulling something but after a few successful workouts this week I felt confident in running 1:35. That would be a 7:15 pace but that’s not what happened when the race started I had no problem running 7:00-7:10 except on the hills. I got into this rhythm of attacking the hills and then recovering on the downhill. With every mile I felt stronger and stronger. I kept getting flashbacks of how I felt at that exact same location on the course. Each flashback ended with a tingle in my spine, my body telling me “let’s go faster” (probably adrenaline). My emotions kept growing as the race continued as well. I found my getting choked up thinking about all the battles I have overcome to get to this spot in my life. At this exact spot (mile 10) 5 years ago I was melting in the heat, my quads couldn’t handle any more downhill and I wishing for it all to end. Today I was running 3:00/mi faster and holding back, I was attacking the hills up and down and enjoying every bit of the race. I wiped away a few tears (of perhaps just sweat) and decided it was time I showed this race what I was made of, I wasn’t holding back anymore. 

Miles 11 – 13.1, last 3.1 in 21:14 (6:51 pace) 
-Mile 11 started with a portion of uphill but I was so fired that I went for broke. This would be my first sub 7 mile of the day. 
- Mile 12 had an amazing downhill with nothing uphill or even flat. If your quads survived this long then you could really crush this mile. My quads hurt a but I didn’t hold back and ran this downhill mile in 6:33 
- Mile 13 was mostly flat and this is when I remembered that I was still at 8500 ft. I was in the zone but the best I could manage was 6:57 pace. The last 0.1 was uphill and at the pace I was running it was a real lung burner. 

Post Race 
I had been feeling burned out the last few months and this race was exactly what I needed. I needed a reminder of how far I have come and why can’t stop now. I feel like I am right where I need to be to kick of my training for my goal half marathon in September. The goal is to final break the 1:30 mark. 

Elevation profile. Crazy Downhill

Here is my picture from the 2009 race at 220lbs. Race report

Uphill to the finish

It was so cold I had to wear my finisher shirt after the race around town

Saturday, June 14, 2014

2014 Leadville Marathon

26.2 miles – 6:35:48 (not a PW, Last year at Pikes Peak finished in 7:03)
6,021 ft of elevation gain with the lowest point on the course at an elevation of 10,184 ft

So this was an interesting adventure. About a month ago I realized I was in full mental burnout. I had a couple of hot long races in May that spelled doom for my trail marathon and ultra-marathon over the summer. Letting my friends know that I was out was the hardest part and they ended up convincing me to stay in the marathon, after all I was trained up for an ultra so I could easily handle a marathon… 

Trip out to Mosquito pass, miles 0 - 9 
Any marathon is tough and if your mind in the game it it’s going to be a rough day. Add to that brutal climbing and crazy elevation and you have the perfect recipe for misery. The race started in Leadville CO, which sits high in the mountains at 10,180ft. First climb on the list was 2,000ft of vertical over the first 5 miles of the race. I was walking 1 mile into the race which wasn’t too surprising and I was the only walker. My body felt fine but my mind just couldn’t seem to get into race mode. In those first 5 miles most of my friends left me in the dust. Going downhill I could easily run 90% of the time. I kept an eye on the giant pass in front of us that we would eventually have to conquer. 

Mosquito pass, miles 10 - 17 
From the aid station it was about 4 miles and 2,000ft vertical to the turnaround point. I walked up the whole thing which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Trees don’t grow above 11,500 and without them the wind was very strong and cold. It was so loud that I was unable to talk with people right next to me. Hiking became so hard that I had to start pacing myself (Hiking!). It’s a little scary when it feels like your breathing is accelerating uncontrollably (like you can’t catch your breath), it’s not a good feeling so you slow down. But I am happy that I never stopped moving, I continued on with relentless forward progress. Nearing the top I was so cold especially my hands I couldn’t wait to get off that mountain. Coming down wasn’t much easier the trail was so technical and in places covered with mud or snow. I tripped and almost went down, I caught myself but my already tired ankle and knee got twisted. They both felt funny as I spent a minute walking it off and then I was back running but now a little more cautious and slower. 

Back to town, 18 – 26.2 
Arriving back at the aid station I felt good about the race or the first time. I had survived the pass and I was heading back to town. In the back of my mind I knew I wasn’t out of the woods yet because there was big climb around 20 miles. I enjoyed the downhill this time, no more giant rocks so I could free my mind and enjoy the scenery. The climb at mile 20 was very hard even though it was only 1,000 ft again I ended up walking the majority of that section. Arriving at the final aid station I felt relived I knew the finish was 5 miles away and almost all downhill with one little blip along the way. This was my best section of the race. I recorded my fastest mile running back into town mile 26 was a blistering 8:50 (and my only sub 10 min mile). Over the last few miles of the race the clouds rolled in and about an hour or so after I finished my friends and I got snowed on at the finish line. 

While reflecting on this adventure and reading my own report I feel the burnout really shows. So many times in this race I was weak and willing to just go with the flow. This has to be the least competitive I have ever seen myself. One by one my friends passed me and I didn’t even try to chase them down. At the same time this race showed me that perhaps I am stronger than I think. For six and half hours Leadville striped me down to nothing. During that time I was more miserable than I have been in a race in a long time. But quit never crossed my mind. 

At the start of the race with my friend Tim (he won this crazy race) 

Course Profile 

Just out of town 

Mile 9, Mosquito pass in the distance 

Halfway up Mosquito pass 

Almost to the top 

Top of the Pass 13,170ft 

Heading down the pass 

Mile 26, fastest mile of the day 8:50!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 Colfax Marathon

26.2 – 3:58:48 (1:12 under my pacer target time)
Marathon #18, Colfax Marathon #4, Marathon Pacer #1

The Colfax marathon is my favorite marathon and it’s near my home in Denver. At this point running this marathon has become a yearly ritual and I just fit other races around it even if my schedule gets ugly. This year I decided to run the Colorado marathon which is two weeks before Colfax but I figured I would be fine since I did the same thing last year (Colfax and Deadwood). Over the last 6 months I have become much more active in a local running club which supplies the pacers for the Colfax marathon. I volunteered to pace between 3:45-4:45 but asked specify if I could have the 4:00 group (9:09 pace). I felt happy and lucky when I was granted the pace group that I wanted most. A few years ago I would have killed to run a sub 4:00 now I was going to help others accomplish that same dream. 

Last year I ran 2 marathons in 14 days nearly unscaled running both within 10 minutes of my PR, 3:31 at Colfax and then 3:37 two weeks later at Deadwood. This year while attempting the same combo I felt like I pushed myself much harder at the Colorado marathon trying to get a PR. I came off of that race really beat up and dehydrated, neither of which would go away. In my experience recovery is slow painful miles that you need complete. It seems like you need a set number of miles regardless if you take time off or not (sometimes you have no choice). The next weekend I went for a 12 mile run with my friends only to have my calf locked up out on the run. I walked back the running store with my confidence in the gutter. I spent the days leading up the Colfax marathon running easy. Every run my calf felt a little better but they never got back to 100%. 

Start 0 – 6 miles 
I slept terrible the night of the race. I was so nervous and anxious, it felt like my first marathon again. Anything slower than 4:00 or faster than 3:57 would be a failure. I lined up in my corral and was immediately greeted by many strangers introducing themselves and then asking about pace strategy, aid stations my marathons stats etc. These questions carried on into the race and I didn’t mind because it was keeping my mind off my calf. The pace felt really easy which was a good confidence boost. We started a little slow because of crowding but we were on target pace by the end of mile 2. I knew we had to take advantage of the downhill over the next few miles and build up a little cushion of time. After the stadium it gets pretty hill so at best we would run on pace. As planned at the Broncos stadium (mile 6) our group came in around 1 minute ahead of schedule. 

7 – 16 miles 
Right after running thought the stadium the course creeps uphill for the next 9 miles. On the first hill I could again feel that twitchy calf. It felt like every step could be my last. On the flats the feeling would go away but I couldn’t stop thinking about how quickly those cramps came on and ended my run the week before. Today that I could not happen because I would probably really hurt myself by continuing on to the finish. Talking with runners again helped my put that into the back on my mind. I warned the group that the toughest part of the race is miles going up a big hill around mile 16. Every year that I have run this race this location has been my toughest spot. I forgot my own advice and at the bottom of this hill I gave my pace flag to another runner and said “I got to hit the bathroom can you keep pace for a bit?” Once I started running again I looked up the hill and couldn’t see my group and then I panicked. I charged up the hill and caught them within a mile, I think I had to run about 8:00 min pace to do this up that darn hill and beats me up every year. The good news was I caught them at the top of the hill so I could now rest the bad news my calf was screaming at me. During this hilly section time we ran right on pace keeping our 1 minute cushion. 

17 – 21 miles 
This next section is an awesome its 4 miles of gentle downhill. I didn’t enjoy that downhill so much this time around. I knew that we had to take advantage of this downhill and get a little more time in the bank. I didn’t want to speed up but that’s what the group needed. We picked up the pace by about 10 seconds per mile and by the time we passed though the stadium at mile 20 we earn another minute. My calf was crying with each step. A few times I contemplated passing on my flag and letting the group go without me but I couldn’t, I committed to a time and I was going to meet it that time if it killed me. At mile 20 I let the group know that we had a 2 minute cushion and if you feel good go for it and if you feel like crap you can run 9:30’s and still break 4:00. 

22 – Finish 
Our group went silent. The folks with energy to talk pulled away and the rest of us suffered in silence. I wanted to be a good cheerleader but I was suffering in silence too. Any other day I would have called it off miles ago and walked into the finish. But today it wasn’t about me and I had a job to do. My friend AL coordinates the pace groups and over the last few months I have become good friends with him. His personality reminds me a lot of my grandfather (AL is a little younger). But this is also why it was so much harder to back off when I was hurt. I thought a lot about AL in those final miles I kept thinking “I promised AL I would hit that time so I better hit that time”. The last few miles of a marathon always hurt but this one hurt more that it should. Over the last few miles the group lost almost 1 minute but that what I was expecting. In the final miles our group swelled as we caught up to runners that had fallen off their pace. At this point in the race no one was happy to see me I kept hearing “Ah crap the 4:00 guy caught us”. My calf continued to feel on the verge of injury but it held strong. Crossing the finish line felt amazing almost like it was my first. My watch read 3:58, success. 

Post race 
I was immediately meet by runners thanking me for keeping pace. Everyone had a unique story to tell me about their race. Some had not ran with me but kept me in their sights the whole race. Also at the finish were tons of my friends from the running club. They all wanted to ensure me that I was crazy for taking on a 4:00 marathon 2 weeks after coming within 1 min of my marathon PR. A television crew interviewed me another pacer. I also bumped into countless old friends and even my high school cross country coach. It was my best post-race experience ever. 

This is the majority of the full and half pacers 

Mile 20, you can just see the hurt. The longer the race went on the lower that sign was. AL said he was worried when he saw me at mile 25 nearly dragging the sign. 

Happy to have finished 

My friend Bruce completed his first marathon. He ran with my pace group for a good portion of the race. Next time he will have no problem getting under 4:00 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

2014 Mothers Day in Denver

Last week I talked about how hot it was at the end of the marathon. It was probably in the 70’s which is hot for a race, later in the day it did get up into the 80’s. One week later the high on Sunday was around 40 with lots of snow. It snowed all mother’s days and most of Monday too, this weekend when I pace the temps will be back into the 70’s.

2014 Mothers Day in Denver

Sunday, May 4, 2014

2014 Colorado Marathon

26.2 miles - 3:27:53 

Comparing this race to my PR marathon I am not as fit, I weight 10 lbs more and the weather was much hotter (I don’t do well in the heat) yet I was able to come with in 1 minute of that PR time. How is this possible? The course might be part of it because it has lot of downhill but the heat probably canceled out that benefit. I think the biggest change is my confidence, I wanted a PR and I was willing to risk hitting the wall to get that time. In the past I have been too conservative and scared that I don’t run to my potential. 

Miles 0 – 16, 2:04:06 – 7:45 pace (900ft of elevation loss) 
10 minutes before the race I got to meet Bill Rogers. This race is a beautiful point to point course that starts up in the canyon and runs all the way back to town. The only down side to this is you have to catch a 4:30am bus which meant I was up around 3:30am. I knew it was going to be a warm day when it was already 55F at the start (usually under 40F). The race had 1300ft of elevation loss and 900ft of that was in the canyon. The downhill weren’t steep it was just perfect amount of downhill. I felt like I was coasting down and round the corners. The scenery in the canyon was amazing and the walls kept us in perpetual shade. During these early miles I felt great and little warm but happy that I was clicking off the miles. My watch wasn’t so happy in the canyon I had to rely on overall time and mile markers (old school). My original goal was to run 3:20 pace to give myself a little room for a PR. At times I ran at that pace (7:38 ) but I could tell it was over my threshold because I would get out of breath. I decide to slow down a bit, 10 seconds per mile (7:48 ) felt so much easier and was still on pace for a PR. In case you’re wondering I do spend my marathons endlessly calculating pace times, finish times and what if times. 

Mile 17-20, 4 miles at 7:48 pace (225ft of elevation gain, 100ft of elevation loss)
Coming out of the canyon we were no longer shaded in fact now we were completely exposed for the rest of the race. Spectators are not allowed in the canyon so many of them wait at the bottom. I was happy greeted by a wall of spectators as we ran up the first hill of the race. This section contained a few hills that weren’t all that big but when you hit them at 7:40 pace they can put you in the red zone real quick. I remember checking my watch at the 20 mile marker and saw 2:35 my fastest ever in a race or training. In my head I said “you got this”. My friend Alex was also at 20 so I got a double boost of energy. 

Mile 21-24, 3 miles at 8:08 pace (150ft of elevation loss) 
But then everything started to come apart. I actually started to slow down on mile 20 but I told myself that I just needed a mile or two to recover. I ran about 7:55 for 20 and 21 a little off pace but this was just the start of bad. The heat was really bothering me and I realized I was in trouble. I couldn’t calculate needed times anymore and I ran past my family at mile 22. I have never run past my family without noticing them, I was so focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I ran miles 22 and 23 in 8:09 and 8:21. I didn’t know if a PR was still possible I didn’t care I just wanted to finish and end the pain. 

Mile 25-26.2, 2.2 miles at 8:58 pace (150ft of elevation loss) 
I don’t remember much about these last few miles other then I was hot and miserable. My muscles had gone stiff and I felt like each step could set off a cramp. I didn’t walk, I didn’t look at my watch I just kept moving forward. I told myself “I can do anything for 20 minutes” I ran mile 25 and 26 in 8:34 and 9:21 with my finishing kick 0.2 also around 9:00 pace. 

Post race 
I am happy with my finish time which ended up being 0:58 off my 3:26:55 PR. But I had the guts to go for it and commit to a hard goal, I left everything I had out on the road and it hurt. I feel like if it hadn’t been so hot I could have held on and finished in 3:23. This has been a huge motivator and now all I want to do is go get that PR. I am already researching fast fall marathons. After the race I realized how dehydrated I was my lunch was 2 slices of pizza with 2 glasses of water and 2 glasses of root beer (and a Gatorade, bottled water and frozen coffee between the race and lunch) 

Weird Stat 
Actually my 3 fastest marathons are separated by 58 seconds. 
3rd 3:27:53 – 2014 Colorado Marathon 
2nd 3:27:27 – 2012 Colfax Marathon 
1st 3:26:55 – 2012 Rock n Roll Denver 

A few pics 

Here is where I past my family around mile 22 

My favorite spectators