Monday, December 31, 2007

Monday Dec 31, 2007

AM- 24 miles (3:24) Garden-Intemann-Bear Creek-Monument Loops (Nike Waffles)

I got about 10 hours of sleep last night and it really helped.  I woke up this morning unsure how I would feel after being so wiped out yesterday, but within a block or so I could tell that things were pretty chipper.

Because I slept in and my legs were feeling pretty good, and because I like to eat a lot of food, I decided to just do a single 3ish hour run today instead of splitting it up into my usual Monday of 2hr/1hr runs.  This ended up being great because I got to enjoy one of my favorite trails--Intemann--instead of just tooling around in the Garden.

The only real thing of note about this run--other than the blustery, cold nature of the weather--was exploring the brand new trails just on the other side of 21st street in Bear Creek.  They probably only added about a mile onto the run, but new trails are always fun.  Also, I would've preferred to finish off the run with some barefoot--the weather hasn't allowed any barefoot running for me since August--but there was still a good bit of snow on the infield of the track.  However, there's supposed to be a decent stretch of warmer weather later this week, so hopefully I can get back out there again, soon.

2007 Year in Review
Well, first the pure numbers, I guess:  5412 total miles for an average of just under 15 miles per day and 105 miles per week.  However, I missed basically five months for two major injuries this year--my meniscus in May and June and a metatarsal stress fracture for all of September, October, and November.  If I were to throw out those months (just for the pure interest of it), when I was healthy I actually averaged nearly 170 miles per week.  Obviously, a big goal for 2008 will be to be a bit more disciplined in limiting periods of super high mileage and thereby being able to actually run for the whole year instead of just two-thirds of it.

In terms of racing, it wasn't bad despite the two injuries.  The two 100 mile races I did--Rocky Raccoon and Leadville--were both pretty solid, except for the fact that they were both prefaced by only 5-6 week build-ups because of sickness or injury (mono before Rocky and the meniscus before Leadville).  I will say that 16:14 at Leadville is a quite a bit more impressive performance than 13:32 at Rocky.  

I'm excited to see what I can do with a little less hurried, more consistent block of training before a big race.  Even Rocky this time will have an accelerated build-up once again because I'm coming back from the stress fracture.

Analysis like this always seems so self-evident and crystal clear---hopefully I can learn something.

All in all, though, 2007 was my most enjoyable year of running to date.  Particularly, the five or six weeks of running this summer in preparation for Leadville were an absolute blast.  There were so many incredible runs in that time period that it would be impossible to narrow them down to just a handful.  I can only hope for an opportunity like that in 2008 where I can live my life exactly the way I want to for a certain period of time. 

Week Log 12/24-12/30

Mon-AM: 16 miles (2:05) in Nebraska
PM: 8 miles (1:06) in Nebraska

Tue-AM: 16 miles (2:02)~5x1min, 1xmile in 5:11, 10x1min
PM: 7 miles (1:01)

Wed-AM: 30 miles (4:05) Verdigre and back

Thu-AM: 4 miles (:36) in Nebraska

Fri-AM: 10 miles (1:25) in Nebraska

Sat-AM: 45 miles (6:05) Garden Loop+Mt. Buckhorn+Monument

Sun-AM: 30 miles (4:33) Bear Creek to Intemann to Manitou to NNC and back through the Garden

Total: 166 miles (22:58)

It's kind of funny to look back at the week and realize that I only did two doubles this week.  I guess that's just the way it goes sometimes.  All in all, it was a pretty good week considering the crappy weather in Nebraska and the fact that I basically took Thursday off.  The weekend's runs were a great first step in attaining 100 mile fitness over the next month.  I hope to follow up that 6hr run with a 7hr run next week and then two 8hr runs before tapering.  Obviously, I need to keep my eye on my shin, though.

Sunday Dec 30, 2007

AM- 30 miles (4:33) Bear Creek to Intemann Trail to Manitou to No Name Creek (Barr Trail) and then back through the Garden via Ridge Road (sz 11 Slingshots)

I woke up this morning with the intention of meeting up with the Incline Club in Manitou, but several factors (tight hamstrings, slippery ice, stomach issues, etc.) conspired to make me almost an hour late getting to Memorial Park.  The first few steps down the street were pretty laughable because my hamstrings were so tight from yesterday's run.  My left hamstring has been chronically tight for almost two years now, and it was really noticeable this morning.  My right shin (actually the posterior tibial tendon) was tight but didn't really seem to be any worse than it's been, so I mostly just ignored it.

After taking it pretty easy through Bear Creek, I hopped on Intemann and took it all the way to Manitou where some homeless-looking guy in a van honked at me and I was obliged to converse with him briefly.  It was actually my good friend Carl Leivers--assistant cross country and track coach at Emory University--who was home for a couple days for the holidays.  After realizing that I was going to miss the Incline Club, I decided to make use of the fact that I was in Manitou and try to get some vertical in.

Going up Barr to No Name Creek was characteristically beautiful, and I ran into Dan Vega and Matt C coming down from Longs Ranch Road.  The trail is really starting to get icy--coming down I wished I had some screws in my shoes.

The run back home was actually pretty rough.  I had plenty of gels, but my legs were just plain tired from yesterday.  I navigated the climb up Ridge Road through the Garden just fine (never hurts to get a little pavement in the legs--good preparation if I ever want to jump in a road marathon), but the last 45 minutes or so of the run I was really bonking and just trying to keep moving.  But, that's what Sundays are all about--simulating the fatigue of a second half of a 100 miler.

I got home just in enough time to grab a shower before heading to work at noon, but I was only able to put a couple energy bars in my pocket to eat, so I spent the day at work thinking a lot about what I was going to eat once I was off at 5 and also about how much it sucks to have to stand up for 5 hours after having run 30 miles.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday Dec 29, 2007

AM- 45 miles (6:05) Garden of the Gods loop, then Mt Buckhorn and a bunch of Monument Loops (PC II)

This was a weird run.  I set off this morning with intentions to run 40+ miles in an out and back on Rampart Range Road, but once I started moving through the downhills in Garden of the Gods my right shin got pretty tight again, to the point that I was actually favoring it.  After sitting on a rock for a while (plenty to pick from in the Garden) contemplating what to do, I decided to just run back to the house and call it a day.

However, by time I got back to Monument Valley, my shin was feeling great again and I couldn't think of any reason why I should stop running.  After running a couple small loops in the park (I was now at about 18 miles) I decided to do my usual run through Bear Creek to the top of Mt. Buckhorn and back.  This turned out to be a fine decision as the shin never really protested again the rest of the run, and, aside from the uncharacteristically strong wind, it was a beautiful sunshiney day with temperatures solidly in the 30s.

Coming back from the mountains I really got rolling--I'd been feeling good energy-wise all day--and hit a string of miles back to CC all in the 7:00 to 7:25 range.  It was pretty heartening to be moving that quick after 5 hours or running.  But, the last 45 minutes of this run ended up being pretty rough.  I slowed to 9 minute pace and just tried to finish up the last 5 miles as comfortably as possible which really wasn't comfortable at all--my legs were finished.  That's good,'s time for them to get used to the longer stuff again.

I just really hope that I don't look back on this run with regret in the next day or two and wish that I had gone a lot shorter so that my shin isn't jacked...but, I'm optimistic and think it's going to be fine with some more diligent icing and stretching.  Also, should've worn a long-sleeve t-shirt instead of just the Moeben sleeves with my was just too windy today for it to be truly warm.

Friday Dec 28, 2007

AM- 10 miles (1:25) past Cookie Corner out and back (sz 11 Slingshots)

More of the same-old, same-old.  The shin and achilles felt quite a bit better this morning, but the shin was definitely still tight.  It was cold and windy; surprise.  I took it easy and decided to just do my typical Friday run instead of trying to catch up because of yesterday.  I think it's much better to ensure health at this point.  

I ended up putting two new snow tires on the car, because one of my rear tires won't hold air anymore.  It went flat out in the Springs, and when I went to get it plugged they couldn't find a hole, so I just aired it back up, but then it went flat again back in Nebraska, so the seal was probably crap.  Anyways, the new tires held up nicely on the drive back to Colorado, so I can't complain.

Thursday Dec 27, 2007

AM- 4 miles (:36) Kevin Barta's out and back (sz 11.5 Slingshots)

God, this run sucked.  It was -2F this morning, and with the wind and the moisture in the air, it was cold.  I don't know, but I think the fog made it feel colder than the -11F that I ran in in Bozeman.

Anyways, my ankles/shins/achilles were all really sore from all the snow running yesterday, so since it was so miserably cold this morning I decided to just make it a really easy day and let my body recover so that I could live to run another warm day instead of suffer through more of this crap.  Wow, winter sucks.

Wednesday Dec 26, 2007

AM- 30 miles (4:05) Devil's Turntable to Verdigre to Bob Liska's to Sparta to Franek's to McManigal's then home (sz 11.5 Slingshots)

This is the longest run I've ever done in Nebraska.  Completing this loop had kind of been a tacit goal of mine ever since the 8th grade or so, so it was kind of neat to finally actually do it (although, a 30 mile run is surprisingly unremarkable for me anymore).

The first five miles were pretty rough because I was breaking trail through all of the new snow, but after that I was in a new township, so the road was already plowed.  I was wearing the brand new Slingshots because they didn't have any holes in the toes, and even though they seemed a bit big they at least didn't bruise my toenails.  

I actually had a lot of fun cruising up and down all of the hills into Verdigre.  The surface on Highway 84 was the worst of the whole run because it had been plowed and the 1/2" of snow still on the road was a crappy ice/slush mix.  After running down the main street of Verdigre I hopped on the creek road over to Bob Liska's, and it was gorgeous: all the new snow plus the moisture in the air had covered everything in frosty white.  It really looked like Christmas.

I ran into Rory Liska plowing the road heading up out of the valley, so that helped the footing, but that mile-long climb is still tough no matter what.  I took a gel at the 3hr mark when I got to the high-point of the run over by Pavelka's, and then I decided to head home from Sparta on the township roads instead of the county roads because they are more intimate and scenic, even if there was more snow.  I was doing fine until about the last 30 minutes when my legs got really tight and I had to just kind of ease it in instead of feeling strong the whole way.  All in all, a great run.  

Tuesday Dec 25, 2007

AM- 16 miles (2:02) incl. 5x1min-1xmile in 5:11-10x1min all with 1min recoveries (PC II)
PM- 7 miles (1:01) Pastures (sz 11 Slingshots)

I woke up early in the dark to get the workout in before gift opening.  There was a sharp north wind, so I waited until I was on the way back home before starting the fast stuff (which I started at the highway corner).  The fast mile was the one from the Cookie Corner straight-away to the silage pile, so it was even a net uphill.  Overall, I felt really good on all the hard stuff, probably because of the tailwind.  Either way, it's good to know I can still get the legs moving when I need to.

The second run was actually at 1pm so that I would be done running before eating a big Christmas dinner mid-afternoon.  Mom's cooking is incredible.  I don't think I ever want a Christmas without dumplings and home-canned sauerkraut.  This run was basically in a raging blizzard--we ended up getting 5" of new snow.  Weather like what there has been here at home makes me appreciate even more the Colorado Springs climate.

Monday Dec 24, 2007

AM- 16 miles (2:05) Grocery store and back in Niobrara (sz 11 Slingshots)
PM- 8 miles (1:06) Canyon out and back plus some pastures (PC II)

Sunday night I drove back to Nebraska to visit my parents for Christmas, so I was out on the farm--and away from the internet!--all week; thus, the delayed update.

This morning's run I took it nice and easy and just ran to town and back to pick up a couple packages of Ramen noodles for my Mom so that she could make a cabbage salad.  I think my legs were feeling the weekend's long runs because although 8 minute miles were easy they felt quick.  I added on out the Colwell Road to get the full time.  The weather was pleasant enough to wear shorts, but I was reminded of how much a factor the wind is out here in the hills---it's rarely something I even think about in Colorado.

In the evening, I didn't get out until the sun was going down, but I got to see a great sunset and a pretty magnificent full-moon rise as well.  My legs felt nice and spry, so, despite the biting wind, this run was well worth it.

Week Log 12/17-12/23

Mon-AM: 15 miles (2:07) Garden
PM: 7 miles (:53) Garden

Tue-AM: 9 miles (1:10)
PM: 18 miles (2:02) incl. 5 mile tempo in 30:11

Wed- 0

Thu-PM: 30 miles (4:11) Buckhorn-Diablo-Red Rocks

Fri-AM: 15 miles (2:02) Garden
PM: 8 miles (1:06)

Sat-AM: 35 miles (5:11) Diablo-Buckhorn-Sect 16-Intemann-Garden

Sun-AM: 27 miles (4:10) LRR-Bobs-Barr Camp-Williams Canyon
Total: 164 miles (22:52)

Another very good week.  The tempo on Tuesday was tough and seemed to really stress my lower legs, thus the mid-week scare, but I came back with three very good long runs the 2nd half of the week.  I just need to stay consistent: consistent with the mileage and consistent with getting in the quality stuff.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sunday Dec 23, 2007

27 miles (4:10) UPT-LRR-Bob's Road-Barr Camp down Barr Trail then out and back up William's Canyon (PC II)

This was a pretty good run.  The Incline Club run was Waldo Canyon today, but I figured that since I'd taken the trouble to drive the 10 minutes to Manitou that I might as well get some legitimate vertical and altitude in, so I headed up Longs Ranch Road instead.  There wasn't too much more snow than last week until I got to Bob's Road, which was much worse than last week.   The 2nd day in a row of post-holing through knee-deep snow without socks or tights was...frustrating.  

After I finally emerged onto the Barr Trail, it wasn't a whole lot better because of all the drifting.  It was a pretty big struggle to get to Barr Camp.  After thawing out a bit there and eating a pancake I headed back down the trail (much easier, ha ha), and then headed up the well-packed William's Canyon trail to get in the extra time/distance.  I took my second gel with only 25 minutes or so left in the run.  I normally would've just gutted it out, but I wanted to be sure to be alert for the tricky footing on the small ledges on the Williams trail.  It ended up being a gorgeous day; I was able to strip down to shirt-sleeves for the last part of the run.

After the run I immediately jumped in the car and drove the 10 hours to my parent's house in Nebraska for the holidays.  Driving that far with a 4 hour run in the legs is sure a lot of fun...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday Dec 22, 2007

AM- 35 miles (5:11) El Diablo-Buckhorn Loop to Section 16 Loop to Intemann to Balanced Rock (Garden) then home (PC II)

This was my first real long run of this build-up.  It started out pretty chilly this morning after last night's blizzard (which really only netted about an extra inch of snow in town), so I had to turn around after about 5 minutes and get a stocking cap.  Also, after feeling so terrible last night I wasn't sure how long I was going to be able to run this morning, but in the first mile I could tell that the legs were feeling good so I grabbed a water bottle and a couple gels in anticipation of a longer run.

It's always incredible to me what a good night's sleep will do for recovery.  Last night, I didn't feel like running another step, but this morning my legs felt great and the run was completed without a hitch.

After an uneventful jaunt through Bear Creek, I headed up El Diablo with quite a bit of fresh, trackless snow.  Things were slow-going for sure.  Traction was tough, and for some reason I hadn't even worn socks this morning.  Right before the final creek crossing before the Buckhorn turn-off things got really dire.  I was post-holing through knee-deep snow and was still deep enough in the canyon that the sun wasn't getting to me.  The run quickly went from "hey, this is a great mountain adventure" to "jesus h. christ, I'm f'ing cold and dying and can I please just get some love from the sun?"  Once I climbed onto the Buckhorn ridge, I found some song but I also struggled through thigh-deep drifts that the wind had whipped up the night before.  Despite the agony, it was still early in the run, and by time I had made it back down to High Drive I was mostly thawed out.  

Next, I tackled the moderate Section 16 climb.  This great 5-6ish mile loop is a favorite among locals, so it generally stays well-packed and completely runnable all winter long.  I took my first gel (at 3 hrs) at the top of the climb, rocked it down to the Intemann and trail, and then took that all the way over to Manitou (instead of dropping down into Red Rocks).

I even took the Intemann Trail past Crystal Park Road all the way to where it becomes discontinuous because of some private land for about 1/2 mile.  This is a great little trail that it seems like not many people use because it dead-ends.  Hopefully, this trail will be continuous some day soon so as to connect Bear Creek/Cheyenne Canyon to Manitou and the plethora of great trails over there.

After running down Crystal Park Road, and stopping to use the restroom at the Sinclair, I took the road up into the Garden and then hit up the usual Siamese Twins, Buckskin Charly, and Niobrara Trail circuit before heading home via the Mesas.  I took my 2nd gel at 4hrs, and finished up the last hour or so of the run with that satisfyingly spent, creaky old man, don't want to do nothing but lay on the couch and eat ice cream and drink hot chocolate feeling that I so value after long runs.

Unfortunately, I had to spend the rest of the afternoon fixing a flat tire on my car, instead.  Although I felt useful and undeniably manly, I would've much preferred the ice cream/couch option.

Finally, the Pumas worked great on this run--I've been wearing them for the majority of my running and love them.  I'm seriously considering racing in these at Rocky.

Friday Dec 21, 2007

AM- 15 miles (2:02) Garden of the Gods (size 11 250s)
PM- 8 miles (1:06) Monument Loops+streets (NB152)

Today was a psuedo-recovery day.  I usually take Fridays really easy with just one 1:20-30 run, but since I took Wednesday completely off, I figured I could afford to get in some extra miles today.

Or, so was my theory.  It was a pretty rough day of running.  This morning was still really warm--almost 50F degrees at 6am--so it was great weather, but my quads, lower legs, and ankles were all pretty worked from the longer run yesterday evening.  I'm still just trying to get into shape, that's for sure.  I took my southern loop through the Garden (Ute Trail to Niobrara Trail) and gradually felt better and better as the run went on, but was glad to be done by the end.  Also, the fantastic sunrise/alpenglow in the Garden is absolutely worth noting.

I didn't leave the CRC until after 2pm, and by then it had actually started snowing.  The high for the day was definitely in the morning.  By time I got out to run, it was 25F and a full-blown blizzard with quite the windchill.  The main thing about this run was just how uncomfortable my legs were.  My ankles and shins hurt so I just took it as easy as possible.

Upon finishing I started scavenging for any food I could find.  All I'd eaten all day was a banana and a granola bar, so I was pretty hungry.  I don't want to go to the grocery store because I'm going to be heading home this weekend for the holidays, so I've been surviving off all the food (not much) that Jocelyn and her roommates left in the house.  I ended up finishing a bag of stale tortilla chips with moldy queso salsa and eating some cereal using water-diluted Half & Half as milk.  Quality stuff.

Thursday Dec 20, 2007

PM- 30 miles (4:11) Mt. Buckhorn-El Diablo Loop to Intemann Trail to Red Rocks to Garden then home (PC II)

What a great run.  I didn't run before work this morning because I was taking Jocelyn to the airport, and then I didn't get off work until 2pm, but it didn't matter because it was ridiculously warm this afternoon--61F degrees!  On basically the shortest day of the year!

I started out feeling awkward and tired because of the day off yesterday, but within in a couple of miles I knew that my ankle tendon wasn't going to be a problem--it's always nice to have some affirmation that a day off does some legitimate, simple good.

By time I made it through Bear Creek and into the mountains, though, I had found my groove and chugged to the top of Mt. Buckhorn.  I was feeling good and loving the weather, so I kept going and took the Buckhorn trail along the ridge all the way over to the 666 (El Diablo) trail.  The trail through here was a lot more clear than I'd expected.  Running down El Diablo was great, with the snow offering extra cushioning, and by the time I got to the bottom I decided to just extend my run an extra hour instead of doing the late-night two-a-day I had originally planned.

Even though it was getting legitimately dark, the run over to Red Rocks on Intemann was fantastic and I had a blast on the Sand Canyon trail--my favorite singletrack in the Red Rocks system.  After sucking down a gel (I'd been running for 3hrs), I ground up the tough Ridge Road climb and then hopped on the panoramic Niobrara Trail in the Garden of the Gods.  This is one of my favorite trails in the Garden because it's the name of my home town, but also because it runs right along the precipitous spine of the ridge formed by the Niobrara geologic formation on the east side of the Garden (by the way, my hometown, Niobrara, NE, is the type-location for the Niobrara formation:  there are miles and miles of chalk bluffs/cliffs lining the Missouri River there).

It was great finishing up the run in the moonlight.  My legs were definitely tired by the end, but it's runs like these that make all the difference for me in 100 mile races--the first 3 hours are cake--basically pure fun--but because I usually do a 4hr run with minimal caloric help (read: gels) the last hour gets a little uglier and it's a great opportunity to rehearse the fatigue that occurs during the average ultra race.

I can't emphasize enough how incredible it is to be back running here in the Springs.  I know it seems redundant, but to be able to do a 30 miler like this literally from my front doorstep with less than 2 miles of pavement and ~3000' of climbing with such stunning and varied scenery is an absolute gift and privilege that I feel so lucky to be able to indulge in.

Wednesday Dec 19, 2007

No running today.

Today was a rare (somewhat) voluntary day off for me.  The pereoneal tendon above my left ankle was really tight this morning along with my calves, achilles tendons, and quads, but I was basically just worried about the ankle tendon.  I've had problems with it in the past, and I'm hoping that one day off now will save a lot of grief later.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday December 18, 2007

AM- 9 miles (1:10) Mesas and Monument Loops (NB152)
PM- 18 miles (2:02) Pikes Peak Greenway North out and back
5 mile tempo in 30:11 (6:27, 6:01, 6:08, 5:38, 5:55) (NB240)

The morning run was nice; I haven't really been up to go running before 8am since I've been back in the Springs, but it's a beautiful thing with the alpenglow on Pikes Peak. I just took it nice and easy and enjoyed the warmish weather (wore shorts). I noticed my left ankle tendon (the pereoneal tendon, I think?) was a tiny bit tight at times...really need some new road flats.

After getting off work at the CRC at 1pm I immediately went out for what I hope to be a Tuesday routine of a flattish/up-tempoish run straight north and back. There are new mile markers every half-mile on the trail, and for the most part they seem to be on---as you can see, my 1st mile and 4th mile seemed to be a bit off.

The Pikes Peak Greenway trail runs from Fountain, CO (a suburb of Colorado Springs) at the south to Palmer Lake (another suburb of Colorado Springs) at the north end for a total of ~40ish miles of trail going straight through the heart of Colorado Springs. Palmer Lake is at about 7200' and Fountain is about 5500', so the trail enjoys a very gradual downhill from north to south. I've found that this makes it a great venue for running tempo workouts at altitude--in the past I've been able to do 10-12 mile marathon pace/tempo pace runs at a reasonable effort because the slight downhill makes the pace doable despite the altitude.

I was plenty happy with this run since I've really only been running for a week or two; there were times that I felt smooth and times I was struggling a bit, but all in all I just need to start consistently injecting some 6min-pace-or-faster running into my schedule every week. I did notice by the end of the run that my left ankle pereoneal tendon was a bit upset by the quicker pace as were my calves and achilles tendons. Finally, the weather on this run was absurd. It was about 50 degrees and by the end of the run I was drenched in sweat. It seemed a lot more like a spring day than a winter day. All in all, a good run.

Monday December 17, 2007

AM- 15 miles (2:07) Garden of the Gods (PC II)
PM- 7 miles (:53) Garden of the Gods road loop from Old Colorado City (NB152)

This morning I took Jocelyn on my standard 15ish mile loop in the Garden of the Gods--a good long run for her and a perfect recovery day run for me. It was weirdly warm out--we were in shorts and a t-shirts--and it was just a great day to be out on the trails. On the way out through the Mesas we had seen a Nathan hand-held water bottle in a snow drift and when it was still there on the way back I stopped to pick it up. We soon realized that it was full of beer and decided that some runner hadn't just left it there in the middle of run! However, the first thing Jocelyn and I said to each other was, "Hmm...has Alex started running with beer now, too?" As it turns out, that's exactly what had happened.

The evening's run was a quick-paced run through the garden with Julian. He thought we were only doing 7:30ish pace, but I'm pretty sure we were going faster. Anyway, it was a lot of fun to be slicing through the night with him, but my New Balance 152 flats are basically completely shot. There's almost a hole worn all the way through the bottom of the right one. The hard running on pavement (Julian is nursing his plantar and didn't want to run on the snowy trails) was a bit taxing on my shins/ankles.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Week Log 12/10-12/16

Mon-AM: 15 miles (2:00)
PM: 4 miles (:30)

Tue-AM: 7 miles (1:00)

Wed-AM: 15 miles (2:03) Garden of the Gods
PM: 7 miles (1:00) CRC run

Thu-PM1: 23 miles (3:02) Mt. Buckhorn
PM2: 4 miles (:34) CRC Holiday Party

Fri-AM: 10 miles (1:35) Red Rocks Canyon

Sat-AM: 30 miles (4:20) Garden-Intemann-Sect. 16-High Dr-Gold Camp-Stratton

Sun-AM: 20 miles (3:06) LRR-Bob's-Barr Camp
PM: 7 miles (1:01) Monument

Total: 142 miles (20:11)

Obviously, a great week. First real week of running in a long time; if things can continue to go this well, Rocky will be fun. Also, I am now 100% completely injury-free!

Sunday December 16, 2007

AM- 20 miles (3:06) Longs Ranch Road to Bob's Road to Barr Camp and down to Manitou (PC II)
PM- 7 miles (1:01) Monument Loops (New Balance RC152)

This morning was a great run with the Incline Club. I didn't run over to Manitou because I had to be to work at noon and because I decided I should split up my 4hrs of running today just to be on the careful side.

After getting a couple minutes late start because I was stripping off my tights (correctly anticipating a warm day in the mountains) I spent the run up the Ute Pass Trail (UPT) catching up to and passing a lot of runners, including Dan Vega and Kelli Lusk.

Once I turned onto LRR, the powdery ankle-deep snow and steep terrain had me grunting and cursing, and despite the wind I was soon grinding along in shirt-sleeves. At the top I took Bob's Road over to Barr Trail and up to Barr Camp. After the snow and radical incline of LRR, the packed down Barr Trail felt positively flat. It is amazing to me that I can still run to 10,200 feet (because the trail was so well-packed) on trails in December---it's hard to beat the Pikes Peak massif for training.

After chatting with Neal and Teresa Taylor (the caretakers at Barr Camp--Neal finished his 10th Leadville 100 this summer), eating one of Teresa's scrumptious pancakes, and quaffing a free Gatorade in exchange for carrying a bag of trash back down to Manitou, Steve Bremner and I enjoyed a brilliant run back down to the city on Barr Trail. I love that trail.

In the evening, Jocelyn and I went for a quick jaunt around Monument Valley Park in the dark (we didn't get out until 7:30pm). My legs were a bit tired (mostly from standing up all afternoon working at the CRC), but mostly I noticed that my New Balance flats are on their last legs (they only have about 360 miles on them, but pretty soon I will have worn a hole completely through the bottom of the right one). All in all, a great day of running.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday December 15, 2007

30 miles (4:20) Garden-Intemann-Section 16 (steep way)-High Drive-Gold Camp-Stratton (PC II)

What a great great run. Runs like this are a huge reason why I moved back to Colorado Springs. Even though there was only about 3000' total climbing (split mostly between two successive ~1500' climbs, Section 16 and High Drive) this run still offered awesome scenery, very little asphalt and completely runnable, mostly packed trails (despite all the snow) right from my front doorstep. High Drive was actually a little rough because all the wind last night blew some big drifts into the packed down trail, but all in all it was a great run. Oh yeah, and even though it was about 10F last night, I was able to wear shorts and strip down to shirt-sleeves for the second half of this run because the sunshine was so brilliant. After Bozeman, I will never take seemingly insignificant details like that for granted again.

I felt really good on this run, too, despite being up pretty late last night. My legs were peppy right from the start (started out with Ashley and Jocelyn) and I kept a much more honest pace all day than I usually do on long runs. Also, the Pumas are a great shoe. I almost want to wear them for Rocky...

Friday December 14, 2007

AM- 10 miles (1:35) Red Rocks Canyon+Intemann Trail (PC II)

This run is a testament to the great trails in Colorado Springs. Red Rocks Canyon is a relatively new open space that was saved from development (it's prime real estate with great views of the Rampart Range and Garden of the Gods), and with it being only a 5 minute drive from downtown (you could run there completely on trails, but it would take an hour or so---or, 30 minutes on the streets), Jocelyn and I were able to go put in a stunningly scenic run for my weekly easy day. I am so lucky--just click the link and check out some pictures of the place in the gallery. Even though the run was a little cold and breezy, it was neat to be able to watch the snow clouds progressively come down from the mountains. They never quite made it all the way to town, though.

Afterwards, we went out and enjoyed a peaceful afternoon at Agia Sophia--a quaint little coffee/book shop on the west edge of Old Colorado City (and, just across the highway from Red Rocks). Although I could do without its ubiquitous Jesus iconagraphy, I really like the hushed atmosphere, the plush leather couches, and the reasonably-priced menu.

Thursday December 13, 2007

1PM- 23 miles (3:02) Mt. Buckhorn (Puma Cortland II)
6PM- 4 miles (:34) Colorado Running Company (CRC) Holiday Party Run (PC II)

Today's first run was such a delight. Mt. Buckhorn is an ~8300' peak near Bear Creek Canyon; this run is the basis of my training in the winter time because it offers a ~2000' climb (over about 3.5 miles) in the middle of a 3hr run from my front doorstep in downtown Colorado Springs on a gravel road (High Drive--closed to cars in the winter) that remains runnable basically year round because it sees lots of foot traffic. The final mile or so to the summit of the mountain is on the Upper Captain Jacks trail from the top of High Drive.

The base of High Drive is also an excellent gateway to the plethora of trails in Bear Creek/Cheyenne Canyon (Intemann, Section 16, 666 (El Diablo), Captain Jacks, Gold Camp, etc.). After being in Bozeman, I can really really appreciate the easy access opportunities these trails provide, even in the wintertime. It takes about 1hr of running (completely on trails from downtown COS---this is huge) to get to the base of the climb in the mountains, but this is usually how much warm-up time I require before really being ready to tackle the uphill.

Anyways, I didn't get out the door to run until this afternoon because I was working at the CRC from 9am-1pm and because when I went to go running this morning at 5am I couldn't find the key that is needed to unlock the front (and back) doors from the inside. Yes, these doors require a key to get out of the house...a little strange. I ended up feeling pretty great for this run (even though I hadn't eaten anything but an apple all day), and then only had about an hour or so until I went back out for the CRC run prior to the Holiday Party.

The CRC Holiday Party is a great running community get-together...I'm pretty sure neither Runner's Roost nor the Boulder Running Company do anything similar, but some of the guests really underline the fact that the CRC is a wonderful ambassador of trail running--Nancy Hobbs, Matt Carpenter, Cindy O'Neill, and Kelli Low were all in attendance.

Wednesday December 12, 2007

AM- 15 miles (2:03) Garden of the Gods (Sportiva Slingshots)
PM- 7 miles (1:00) Colorado Running Company Social run =Shooks Loop (Puma Cortland II)

It's so great to be back in Colorado Springs! Even though COS has gotten a decent amount of snow the last few days, everything was packed down enough to make running very was even warm enough to be wearing shorts! The run this morning in the Garden was gorgeous: there aren't many things I enjoy more than a jaunt through the snow-covered red rocks and evergreens there. I felt so privileged to be back on my favorite trails.

The evening's run was an easy loop on the standard Shook's Run Loop. It was great to see some of the familiar faces while having a beer afterwards.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday December 11, 2007

7 miles (1:00) Painted Hills Connector (Raceblades)
Geezus, it was cold this morning. That's really about all there is to say. Ran at 5:30am before class so I could hit the road right afterwards. Legs felt awkward in the Race Blades. Right hip flexor also tight.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday December 10, 2007

AM- 15 miles (2:00) Sourdough to Sundance Trails out and back (Puma Cortland II)
PM- 4 miles (:30) city streets to the grocery store and back

This morning's run was crazy. It started out tame enough, but about 30 minutes in the skies opened up and it snowed maybe the hardest I've ever seen for the remainder of the run. When I began there was a negligible skiff of new snow, but by the end ~4 inches of powder had less than 2 hours!

My foot was pretty much the same on this run: started out a little tight, but completely fine the second half. It was a lot of fun to explore the Sundance Trail...I'd never been on it before and it's a nice little trail tucked in next to a spring. Even though my legs didn't feel great this morning, I was in a great mood. By the end, I was belting out Animal Collective's
Winter's Love at the top of my appropriate little ditty considering the conditions (if you click the link, be sure it's with an open mind and wait until at least the 2:35 mark before giving won't regret it...).

In the evening, I decided it was time to do my first two-a-day, mostly because I'll be shortening my run tomorrow morning (in order to get on the road for a long day of driving), but also because I needed to go to the grocery story to get some trail mix (so I don't fall asleep in the car tomorrow). I tried out my (drastically altered) Race Blades for the first half of the run, but they weren't really happening, so I changed back into the Pumas for the 2nd half. Despite the slick footing, it was a very peaceful run in the dark.

The last seven days have been 115 miles, so I think it's safe to say that I'm back! However, it's crazy how this amount of mileage barely even feels like training to me. I'm certainly not in good shape, but I think my body has undergone some type of permanent adaptation as a result of the several bouts of extremely high mileage that it's experienced over the past three years--here's to hoping that I exercise a little discipline in the coming weeks and months!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Week Log 12/3-12/9

Tue-8 miles (1:07)
Wed-13 miles (1:42)
Thu-18 miles (2:22)
Fri-15 miles (2:03)
Sat-20 miles (2:43)
Sun-22 miles (3:01)
Total: 96 miles (12:58)

Obviously, a good week. Wow, way better than I'd expected actually...I didn't know I was that close to 100. Next week I plan to maintain through the first half of the week (assuming the foot stays fine) while moving back to CO, and then hopefully pick it up with
CRUD tempo on Thursday morning and some fantastic MOUNTAIN runs on the weekend!

Sunday December 9, 2007

22 miles 3:01 Cherry River-Painted Hills-Peet's Hill (Puma Cortland II)
I guess I was getting tired of doing the same exact run every day, so I passed up the Story Hills and headed out to the Painted Hills single track after making my customary loop down by the East Gallatin. The morning started off brilliantly cold (-5F) but seemed to warm up pretty quickly and by the end I was stripping off my hat, gloves, unzipping the jacket, etc. My legs started out feeling pretty good, but I was definitely getting that great achey feeling in them by the end.

absolutely cannot wait to get back to Colorado to check out my old haunts of High Drive, Mt Buckhorn, 666 Trail, Garden of the Gods, and Section 16. This isn't a case of thinking the grass is greener--I know the grass is greener in Colorado Springs. Put it this way: I didn't move to Montana for the running, and I was sad to leave Colorado back at the end of the summer because in my mind (even then, when I was living there) west-side Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs offers an almost unbeatable variety of trails, basically year-round. And, at this point in my life, running is larely what I do, so the venues are pretty important to me.

The foot felt pretty much the same today. It always feels basically 100% the 2nd half of the run. As long as it doesn't get any worse (in fact, it seems to be getting ever so gradually better) I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Saturday December 8, 2007

20 miles 2:43 Cherry River+Story Hills (Puma Cortland II)
The wind made it plenty cold this morning. My foot felt great after an hour or so, and I had a lot of fun exploring up in some new areas of the Story Hills. There wasn't really anything significant about this run except that it was finally of decent length with my foot still feeling fine.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday December 7, 2007

15 miles 2:03 Cherry River+Story Hills (Puma Cortland II)
God, it was cold this morning; 7 degrees, but up in the hills the wind was blowing like no other and I didn't have a jacket on so things were getting pretty dire. This morning, my ankle seemed a little bit more sore than usual, but the foot was a little better--for some reason I'd rather have the ankle hurt than the foot. Pretty tired this morning--probably because I didn't run until the afternoon yesterday and didn't get to bed until late last night, so the pace was considerably slower than yesterday. Still, all in all a good run, but I'm already getting tired of running these same trails over and over because everything good is completely snowed in. A major plus was running through the very narrow, forested trails down by the East Gallatin River---I felt like I was in a painting the way that the snow was stuck to everything like giant tufts of cotton.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thursday December 6, 2007

18 miles 2:22 Cherry Creek to Story Hills (Puma Cortland II)
I didn't run first thing this morning because I had to get an early start on polishing some rock samples before being able to look at them on the scanning electron microscope (SEM) later today. However, when I woke up it was dumping snow, and I was kinda glad to put my run off until the early afternoon.

As it was, I got out the door at 1pm. It had stopped snowing and a fresh 5-6" had turned everything back into a glorious winter wonderland; I love how pristine everything looks after a fresh snowfall. This ended up being a good run. For the first hour or so I was a tiny bit hesitant about my foot, but around 1:20 it felt completely fine and basically didn't hurt the rest of the run. That happened around the 1:20 mark yesterday too, so I don't know what's going on. The climb up the Story Hills gravel road was solid and it was a blast floating back down the trail in the fresh powder. All in all, I kept the pace very honest on this run.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wednesday December 5, 2007

13 miles 1:42 Story Hills (Puma Cortland II)
This was a good run. The foot never really got worse, but there were some occasional tweaks in there; however, only after some serious self-discipline did I decide to not go the full two hours. I just figured I'd rather go a bit shorter today and still be able to run later in the week.

It was a lot of fun exploring around up there---there is a solid amount of nice little cow paths, pickup doubletracks, etc. but it seems like a fair amount of it might be on private land. Anyways, hopefully the improvement continues with the foot.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tuesday December 4, 2007

8 miles 1:07 Peet's Hill/Lindley Park/Gallagator Trail (Puma Cortland II's)
Ended up just sort of tooling around on the nearby trails. The foot seemed okay on this run. The run didn't make my foot feel any worse--there's just a little twinge in there anyhow--so I'm just going to try to build up slowly the rest of this week and not stress it too much.

There has been a minor melt here in Bozeman...temps have been in the 30s the last couple of days so now there's tons of slush and ice covered in water, which just might be the slickest surface I've ever experienced.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Western States Lottery Results and...a Rant.

As anyone who might be reading this blog already knows, the Western States Lottery was this past weekend. I won’t get into the specifics of the process, nor the history of the event as perfectly good accounts of both can be found other places. However, also as many already know, a number of who some might consider to be “top runners” (most prominently, I suppose, being Karl Meltzer, myself, and Leigh Schmitt) weren’t picked in the lottery nor allowed entry by the race committee.

Why am I writing about this, and why might this be considered troublesome? Well, it’s my blog and the nature of blog writing is inherently selfish, so I’m going to write about whatever concerns me. And, I guess the main reasons that me not being allowed into Western States concerns me is A) for the selfish reason of my wanting the opportunity to test myself against the stiffest competition available in ultra running, and B) because I love the sport of ultra running and think that some of the actions of several race committees, including Western States, across the country are somewhat hurtful to the sport in general.

I’m not really one who is typically content with the status quo in any situation, and for me, ultra running is no different. I yearn to push the boundaries, explore my limits, and hopefully, be allowed a more intimate glimpse into the core of my being in the process. And all that other cliché stuff (seriously). Although ultra running offers that opportunity to me on many levels, racing is a unique experience. To paraphrase Jenn Shelton, “Running is a way of life, and racing is a celebration of that life.” And, to me, the unique thing about racing is the presence of others—be it spectators, a crew, a pacer, media, other competitors—sharing in that wonderful yet heart-rending experience of plumbing the depths of the soul.

So, my first point is that without sufficient competition a race loses a whole bundle of its meaning for me. In order to inspire my absolute best performance, in order to truly fulfill my potential, in order to be allowed that aforementioned privileged view with the utmost clarity, I need others of equal or greater ability out there pushing me to step as close to the edge as possible, to achieve the most pristine look afforded to only the truly brave (or, stupid, maybe). I need to be prodded to that terrifying territory where one knows for sure that an inch further and nothing but the great, yawning abyss awaits.

I have only been there but once thus far in my (so far, very short) ultra racing career. It was at 11,400’ on the top of Sugarloaf Pass at about mile 80 of the 2006 Leadville 100. I’d been doing everything in my power to continue simple forward motion ever since leaving the Fish Hatchery aid station at 76.5 miles and having my crew tell me (wrongly) that Steve Peterson was only 20 minutes behind me. As shitty as I was feeling, I knew that if I wanted to maintain my lead I needed to go as hard as possible. All I’ll say is that crazy things happened on top of that mountain, and if you’re an ultra runner I don’t really need to tell you about them, because you already know. But, the point is, I never would’ve accessed that raw, primitive, unadulterated portion of my being if I hadn’t been forced to by the (albeit, false) pressure of knowing that a 5-time Leadville champion was hot on my trail (Steve was actually nearly an hour back at that point).

The two other 100 milers that I’ve had the pleasure of finishing since that first finish at Leadville have done far less to throw my psyche into such a clarifying frenzy. They were both certainly a measure more comfortable, but consequently, a touch less fulfilling. (But, only a touch…a very, very light touch.) Maybe the experience of a first 100 mile finish can never be regained, but I do know that I have disappointingly been unable to give my absolute best effort at either subsequent event because of a lack of competition. So, I primarily plan my racing schedule by looking for the competition that will force me back to that rare position on the edge of the precipice.

Western States clearly offers the competition this year to provide that kind of race, but it saddens me to think just how great the field could be at Western States in 2008.

The second part to all of this is that I think not promoting the top competition possible at any given ultra is actually a disservice to the sport and the mid- and back-of-the-packers that compose the majority of any race field. What, you say? Aren’t you being a bit elitist by calling for all these concessions for the top athletes? Yes, I can see that point of view, and I think that I understand the importance of essentially treating all runners in a race “the same.” There certainly seems to be a noble egalitarianism in it. Plus, I have spent many years as a mid- and even back-of-the-pack runner. The only thing I need to do to ever get humbled is go jump in the average big-city road marathon or even the average NCAA Division III Cross Country meet. The depth of decently good runners in this country is absurd and I am nowhere near the top.

However, even though I am a mid-packer in either of those types of races, I don’t feel any such sentiment that, in order to treat me more “fairly”, the race directors should block the admittance of the truly top runners. In fact, one of the coolest things about going and running a big-city marathon for me is that I get to toe the same line as any of the East African runners—the best runners on the planet—and run the same race as them. That is the essential beauty of our sport.

This type of fraternity is magnified in the ultra running scene because the top runners in ultra running are just normal dudes (and chicks) and don’t have a hard time relating to slower (but no less committed or passionate) ultra runners. I don’t really understand how giving other ultra runners the opportunity to be in the same competition while something historic occurs up front is treating those mid-pack runners unfairly. Some day, I would love to be running in the Berlin or London or Chicago marathon at which the world record is being set.

I think the same sort of thing is true in ultra running. When the tight-knit community finds out that some big face-off is going down (e.g. Scott and Karl at Hardrock last summer, or Uli and Matt at the TNF 50 this past weekend) everyone gets excited and wishes that they could be there so that when they finish their races a few hours later they might actually have the opportunity to share a beer with them or ask them how many gels they ate per hour or if they had any rough patches and what they did to get through them. The ultra running community is a wonderfully intimate one and I don’t think allowing more heated competitions to occur more often is going to change that.

Now. As for the current Western States field, it’s going to be a barn-burner. Here is my list of notable runners currently in the race (I really hope I didn’t miss anyone):

Bev Anderson-Abbs (2nd Woman and 13th overall last year)
Meghan Arbogast (1st overall at Where’s Waldo 100K this year)
Michelle Barton (2006 Javelina Jundred Champion)
Annette Bednosky (2005 WS Champion)
Chrissy Ferguson (too lazy to look anything up...)
Devon Crosby-Helms (2007 US World 100K team)
Nikki Kimball (2007 WS Champ and 8th overall…among other things…)
Caren Spore (perennial top-3 finisher in races)

Josh Brimhall (2nd at 2006 San Diego 100, 1st 2006 Zane Grey)
Graham Cooper (2006 WS Champion, 3rd 2007 WS)
Mark Godale (2007 Burning River 100 Champion)
Hiroki Ishikawa (8th 2007 WS, 1st 2007 Grand Slam)
Andy Jones-Wilkins (4th 2007 WS, 1st 2007 VT, 1st 2007 Teton, 2nd 2007 JJ)
Hal Koerner (defending WS Champ)
Sean Meissner (damn you, laziness...)
Zach Miller (2007 Mt. Masochist Champ, 2nd 2007 JFK…never worse than 2nd in a 50)

Brian Morrison (<300y from 2006 WS Champ)
Glen Redpath (6th 2007 WS, 1st Master)
Erik Skaden (2nd 2007 WS, 2007 MUC Champ)
Michael Wardian (2007 JFK Champion, prolific 2:2x marathoner)
Mike Wolfe (2006 & 2007 White River 50 Champ, 2nd 2007 Bighorn 100)

Of course, there are many other possible entries with the remainder of the MUC series…but right now a top-10 finish in this field makes you one heckuva runner (right now, I’m going to say Zach Miller for the win…).

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Week Log 11/26-12/2

Mon-7 miles (1:00)
Tue- 9 miles (1:13)
Wed-10 miles (1:24)
Thu-15 miles (2:05)
Fri-17 miles (2:23) Beacon Hill to M Trail
Sat-22 miles (3:00) Bozeman Creek Canyon
Sun-6 miles (:50)
Total: 86 miles (11:55)

Obviously, this was a great week. I became a real runner again and even though the first half of the week was spent feeling awkward and worrying about my ankle, the second half I started feeling really good on all of my runs. Now, it's just a matter of listening to my foot and becoming 100% healthy so that I can be ready to do some real running once I move back to the balmy climes and clear trails of Colorado Springs in 10 days.

Sunday December 2, 2007

6 miles 50min Story Mill out and back (Puma Cortland II)
Brilliant sunshine and -7F degrees this morning. I started out today with the intention of taking an easy day because I've increased the running a whole bunch this week, but I actually ended up going even a little shorter than I'd planned because my tendon in my left foot was protesting a fair amount. It never really got worse as the run went on, I just decided that there was an unacceptable level of discomfort there and that it needed a break. I'll just keep listening to it and see how things feel over the next couple of days. Iced afterwards.

In any event, running shorter than planned this morning has given me some extra time to finish writing my term paper for my Tectonics course.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Saturday December 1, 2007

22 miles 3:00 Sourdough Trail to Bozeman Creek Canyon out and back (Puma Cortland II)
I woke up this morning to -9F temps and falling snow. Gotta love Montana, I suppose. I felt really good on this run despite the chilly weather. I was getting decent purchase on the squeaky cold snow, and because it was the weekend there were very few people up and moving about yet. There are about 4 miles worth of roads to get to the canyon, but then running in the canyon is nice because it's protected from the wind. The trail was about what I expected--probably 6 inches or so of packed snow and a couple inches of new snow. It made for punchy footing, so I only ran about 2 1/4 miles in (there are mile markers) before heading back to town.

I took a gel with me on this run in case anything like yesterday happened, but today I was strong the whole way except for my left hamstring (chronically tight) and my right hip flexor (also been a bit of a problem the last couple of years). Sometimes I think I should give in and just devote myself to a consistent yoga routine...but the thing is, I'd always rather be out running for an extra half hour or hour than stretching.

The ankle was completely fine on this run, but the top of my foot was a little tight every now and then. It's definitely something to do with a tendon there, but at this point it's not really limiting me, so I'll just keep watching it. Iced my whole foot in a cooler of snow-water after the run.

Finally, my name didn't get drawn today in the Western States 100 Lottery...maybe some day I'll find the time to vent my views on the current situation in ultra running of race entry, depth of competition, race fees, etc., etc., but not right now. All I'll say is that I'm not convinced yet to try and qualify for WS by running one of the Montrail Ultra Cup races (Way Too Cool 50K, American River 50, Miwok 100K). Right now, my opinion is that I won't fly across the country to only run 31 miles, AR is too asphalty and flat, and I want to do the Zane Grey 50 instead of Miwok. I'm thinking of maybe entering the Massanutten 100 in May and then hitting up the San Juan 50 in June. Or maybe I'll do just the Bighorn 100. We'll see.

In other news, apparently Uli beat Matt today out at the TNF 50 Championship race. That isn't super surprising to me, but I did expect Matt to come out with the win. Maybe he is finally getting old after all...I'll be interested to hear his take on the race. Unfortunately, I haven't heard any further results from that race, yet.