Defn: a human male displaying evidence of devolution - exhibits distinctive "caveman-like" tendencies. This man often dribbles in public places; cannot drink a beverage without spilling it on himself, the floor or someone else; may also run into objects like lampposts & bushes; has a definite "sloopish & short legged" running style that is slow and low to the ground, often resulting in the dragging of knuckles.

These throwback neanderthals, along with their questionable diet, should clearly be avoided.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Stump Jump 50K race report

I don't really feel like writing a race report.   Not just because I didn't have the race that I wanted to - but because me whining and complaining about my race is not worth it, instead it is rather futile and meaningless when it comes to the fate of my fellow runner. 

Falling over 4 times during the race, getting stuck in the early part of the race for miles at a time behind trains of 20 to 30 runners at a time on slow and narrow single track, getting lost and off trail - twice, once for over 15 minutes - getting a ridiculously silly looking series of scratches that begin near my belly button, goes up across my stomach and ends below my armpit - looks like I was swiped by a bear (it was really just a bramble branch about as thick and mean as barb wire fence - but just a flesh wound - with a pretty display of blood that I had for 3 1/2 hours out on the trail).

I finished the race with a grumpy mindset - one that I carried for the final 3 hours after getting lost and finally finding my way back to the trail.  I was a grump due to falling short of a time goal (5 1/2  hours) that in hindsight was easily attainable if I hadn't gone off trail - it also would have been in reach if I started out smarter, meaning further towards the front of the field instead of over 100 places deep for the first 8 to 10 miles.   I finished the race feeling grumpy and yet not feeling sore or even very fatigued.  So much so that I have run each of the days since (no more than 4 miles at a time).

I finished the race and within 2 minutes was thinking about trying to find and sign up for another 50K or even a 50 miler in the next month or 2 (I probably won't).  I finished the race and  I wanted to get out of Chattanooga and away from the race quickly so as to drive back to Nashville and hang out with my sister and her family.  I didn't stick around to pick up an age group award - instead just drove the 2 1/2 hours in stinky, dirty, bloodied running clothes.   I just wanted to get the race out of my mind.  I did have a good visit with family for the next few days before flying back to Colorado on Monday night.

When I got home I checked my email - first, one with the final results: 5 hours, 35 minutes and change.  35th overall out of 323 finishers.  1st in my age group.  I knew these things before I left the race on Saturday.  I didn't know about what was in the next email.........

I never did meet Gary Jacks.  I shared a trail with him on Saturday in Chattanooga Tennessee.  Some time after I had finished my race and already left the area - tragically, Gary did not finish that race.  He passed away while still out on the course.

I know now that I will not ever forget this race, and while I doubt I will do that race again, one thing I will do is forever to be grateful to finish a run, and I hope it will be every run - no matter how far, no matter how long, no matter how sore, or tired, or hurt.  If I finish every run - I will try to remember Gary Jacks and remember that he didn't get to finish his last run.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tip Toe-ing along the Taper Trail

Race Day is 3 days away.  Gulp.  I'm not ready.  I mean I am ready to run - I just don't believe I am ready to run my best.  I peaked perfectly for the North Fork 50K early this Summer - having a great training cycle leading up to it, being as fit as I ever have been.  I had been smart with eating, training, recovering between runs and I went in to the race quite confident of getting a good finishing time.  It worked out well and I ran a 5 hr 21 min race - a bonus was finishing 5th overall - completely unexpected but thrilled to grab.

That race was not my goal race of the year though - this one on Saturday is.....or was....or still is....but I just can't see myself pulling off a similar time as I did in June's race.  I'm not sandbagging - I don't even know what that means as I am a middle of the pack runner who happened to finish 5th in June - but that's because a bunch of fast runners were not in the race - plus I finished well over an hour behind the race winner.

My realistic goal is try beat 5:30.  If I do that then it will because the course will be kinder than it looks, the weather will be good and I will run a smart race.  That all may be possible - but when you add in the key ingredient that I have not trained as well for it as I did for North Fork - then I can't see myself doing as well.

I hate "The Taper".  My mind is soft and it often leads to thoughts like those expressed above.  Whether they are true or not, whether it is because instead of running 10+ hours a week during the real training period - that shrinks to just a few miles in this past week - and I begin to feel lazy, tired, heavier and quite honestly - completely full of self doubt for the upcoming race.

So - this taper trail I have been on the past 10 days or so - despite the mind games - has been one in which I have tried to stay out of a funk - and get some good runs in.  I did, for the most part.  Sure the runs were not as good as they could have been, certainly when comparing to the 2 weeks leading up to North Fork.  But they have served their purpose and now I am as ready as I can be.

I fly out tomorrow to Nashville - will run 4 miles or so when I get to my sisters house.  Drive to Chattanooga on Friday and run the race on Saturday.  I'll see how the race plays out, suffer a bit, try my best and really be grateful that I can and will be able to run.

A couple of Sundays ago I was in the midst of a 3 1/2 mile training run that was a ridiculously hard run - on a winding, dirt road that apparently was once named in the Guinness Book Of World Records as the windiest road in the world - that being the road up Cheyenne Mountain from the Zoo to the Summit.  I got a ride to The Will Rogers Shrine 1.4 miles past the Zoo.  I then ran the next 3 1/2 miles and 1700'+ up to The Broadmoor's Cloud Camp (excuse the shameless plug).  During the run with each step as my legs were crying out, as my eyes were drawn towards awesome views below - I had the thought that I really should be more grateful that I can run.  That I enjoy running.  That I am healthy.  That I choose to run mostly on trails and get distracted by squirrels, butterflies, flowers and some of the prettiest scenery around.  I'm grateful that I have people that care about me, that love me.  They could care less if it took me 5 1/2 hours to run a race or 15 1/2 hours.  They would still say I did great - and mean it sincerely.

Life is fickle, running is fickle some days more fickle than others.  I have no idea how Saturdays race will go.  I'll finish most likely - I may or may not do well (according to my goal of 5 1/2 hours) - afterwards I will eat to much, gain some weight I'm sure and run a whole lot less than I have been doing in the past 6 or more months.   A few days after the race I'll start running again and look for some runs to do strictly for fun - with no training purpose in mind.  And I will be more grateful for where I live, where I can run, that I am loved, that I enjoy the hurt of the run, the joy of the run, and the happy place it puts my mind into. 

And I will not taper.  That messes with my mind too much.

Sunrise from Cloud Camp - yeah I was spoiled and got to spend the night there.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Distracted by a long walk

I'm not sure if I have shared on here a bucket list item that my son and I mutually have....I'm in the midst of tapering for the Stump Jump 50K in 1 1/2 weeks - so with less time running and more time to waste get distracted, earlier today I took a few moments to look up something that I want to do with my son when he graduates from High School.  He also wants to do it, we started talking about it before he even started high school and he is now a sophomore. 

"It" is in New Zealand - where I was born but have not lived for well over 20 years.  In the years that I have lived in the US I have been back to New Zealand only a handful of times.  I have never done "it" before.   I never even herd of "it" until about 2 years ago.  If my son and I get to do this thing I am certain "it" could be one of the most memorable experiences we have ever done individually and together.

"It" has a name.  "Te Araroa" - which is a Maori name.  (The Maori people were the original settlers of New Zealand and Te Araroa translated means "The Long Walk").

In a brief video capsule - this is what it is.....

In a more descriptive form - the facts: A 3054 KM walk - from the Northern most point of New Zealand (Cape Reinga) to the Southern most point of New Zealand (Bluff). 

Average time to complete the "walk" is 120 days. 

Fastest time to do it....

Jez Bragg did it in 53 days 9 hours.  My son and I have a goal of doing it in about 75 days - give or take a week or so.  I can't wait to try it.  We talk about it every now and then - trying to wrap our heads around the concept of 3054 kilometers.  That seems oh so very long.  We make the mistake too often in looking up 3054 kilometers to see that it is just under 1900 miles.

1900 miles.

One Thousand, nine hundred miles.


That is like walking from Colorado Springs to New York City - and then still having over 120 miles to go!!!

That's not a bucket list - that's a kick the bucket list - as in "grab a shovel, dig a hole and jump in, cover yourself with dirt and grow daisies out your armpits" kind of list.

But we want to do it / try it / experience it.  We want to live it, breathe it, feel it, suffer it - LIVE it.

We spend time looking at the Official website for the trail.  We get distracted by You tube videos of it which inevitably lead us to watching other You Tube videos like this....(nothing to do with the trail itself - but quite entertaining and a little frightening also).

Its still 3 years or so away till we may try it - who knows what can and will happen between now and then.  But with a little extra time on my hands for the next few days (aside from going to work and still running a bit) - the Long Walk has been fun to revisit in my mind today.  

I'm hoping we get to do it - I expect if we do it will leave an imprint deep in my son's and my mind.

Seems like it did his.....

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The 70 mile week sandwich

I began and ended my week with the same run / 7.5 mile course.  Sandwiched in between those 2 runs were 3 long runs that when looking back - were tough to chew and swallow, but once digested - should sit well in my belly.

Sunday began with the 7 1/2 mile run I have out the back of my apartment that is a lollipop course with over 600' of gain in it.  It was a breezy start into a wind so I started out just grinding the first few miles.  I woke up eventually and got my legs under me, starting to feel strong so I pushed the effort a bit as I continued and ended up taking 1 3/4 minutes off my previous best effort.  Was pleased with that.

No run on Monday, Tuesday I was off work.  Picked up a kid and dropped her off at school and then drove to Mt Herman trailhead.  It was warm already by 9 am as I got started.  First lap was a moderate effort on the 8 mile loop for a 1:49 time.  Second lap started out okay although as always was difficult on the 1600'+ climb up to the summit starting out the lap.  I tried to stay with a moderate effort and measured pace and was doing well.  With 3 miles to go I was tracking a new PR, feeling fatigued though.  Problem was - I had 3 miles to go, and then another lap.

By the time I finished up lap 2 I had slowed and my time for the lap ended up being 1:57 - now 1 minute behind my 3 lap PR.  And by now the wheels had feeling off and I was toast.  I needed to finish this run though, trying to convince myself that even though my final time was going to suck - I needed to build my endurance and time on my feet.  Problem still was I had to gain the summit.  What a slog.  It was miserable as I was so weary.  I stopped several times - barely resisting the temptation to sit down, lie down, pass out.

I kept moving, slowly and finally got to the high point.  I meandered my way down the other side managing to run when I could.  As I made my way around the back of the mountain I ran the downhill's and flat sections - walked slowly up the uphill's.  If it wasn't for the fact that I needed to pick up the same kid from school I would have taken much longer than I ended up doing.  Lap 3 was 2:19.  Total time was 6 hours, 5 minutes.  24 miles.  Over 7000' of gain.  I barely made it to school on time to pick up the kid.  What a long day.

The one good thing about this "run" was that I wasn't sore afterwards, just weary.  Very, very weary.

Wednesday a rest day and then Thursday my next long run of the week.  13 miles on Falcon Trail.  I went counter clockwise and started out the first miles feeling slow and sluggish but as I got into the climbing section of the South end of the loop I felt better and went to work.  5 miles in and I figured I had an outside shot of getting halfway / to the high point in 60 minutes.  I had only managed that once before.  I ended up missing it by a few seconds for a 60:05 to the 6 1/2 mile mark - redlining the effort over the last /2 mile which resulted in once I crested the high point - taking a minute to walk and catch my breath.

I dialed it back while still maintaining a moderate to hard effort for the last 6 1/2 miles and ended up with a lap time of 1:54:45.  One of my faster times in recent months.  Best since mid June.  This was a good run and helped with a confidence boost after Tuesdays effort.

Friday I did a moderate effort for 18 miles on Santa Fe Trail.  Started at Northgate and went up to Palmer Lake and back.  Out in 80 minutes at 8:52 pace.  Turned - it was mid 80 degrees by now - and upped the effort to 8 minute pace for the next 3 miles.  I though about trying to come the whole way back at that effort but fatigue caught up so I gradually slowed down and ended up finishing the last 9 miles at an 8:13 average.  Total distance 18 miles.  2 hours 34 minutes.

Today (Saturday) I finished off the 70 mile week with the same run I started out the week with.  After a sluggish and slow start I dialed it up and ended up with a 63 minute lap - 65 seconds slower than last time.  A good work out to cap of a week with some really hard work in it.

So - the meat of training is over - less miles on tap this upcoming week - I'll look to work hard on most, if not all of the upcoming miles this week.  Want to stay sharp.  Still don't feel quite up to where I was going into the last 50K race in June, would like another couple of weeks of long training runs like the past 2 weeks - but will take what I have managed to get in - and look forward to the Stump Jump 50K 2 weeks from today - with expectations of being somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 minutes slower to 5 minutes faster than the last race.