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.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pikes Peak Donut Run

The Pikes Peak Marathon was this past Sunday, I have run it each of the past 2 years, the Ascent I did the year before that.  After coming in a surprising 5th in my age group last year I decided I had achieved all I wanted to on the Mountain.

A year goes by, I keep a distant eye on the race website and are tempted a few times to enter and give it another shot - but don't.  The race takes place this past Sunday and throughout the day I steal time to look up the race splits in progress, wondering how I would be doing. Having come off the recent knee injury I know I wouldn't have done great - but still think a few times: what if?

So, a few days pass since the race and yesterday I have a day off from work.  I have the 50K coming up in about 50 days and the longest I have run in the past 2 months is 14 miles.  I need a long run. 

I'm also in the mood for donuts.
Somewhere high up there is a Donut with my name on it.
Admittedly I could have just gone down the street and bought a donut.  But I have gained weight in the past 2 months and need to shed some of it, so I need to exercise to get the donut.

I set out from the Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent start line at 7:15 a with a loose goal of summiting in 4 to 4 1/4 hours.  Hang out at the summit for about 10 to 15 minutes and then come down in 2 to 2 1/4 hours.  So - the overall goal / what I thought I was capable of....was 6 to 6 1/2 hours.

I took my phone, a bag of Swedish fish - which is my go-to running fuel, 2 small water bottles tucked into my hip and 1 handheld water bottle and started off.  I was walking within 20 minutes as I was midway up "The W's" - not that I wanted to start hiking so soon but just that I quickly figured out that if I was going to make any kind of progress then I would need to be conservative - especially early.

So I hiked the steep and technical spots and ran when I could and eventually made it up to Barr Camp in about 1:58.
The view of the summit from about a mile below Barr Camp.

Barr Camp - not serving donuts here.
Not a great time to Barr Camp - but not bad either.  It is usually a good indicator (at least for me) in previous summit attempts that I should double the time to Barr Camp to get up to the peak.  So - a potential sub 4 hour summit was looking possible.

I kept on with the run when I can / hike when I should-strategy as I continued up towards A Frame next.  I stashed my hand-held water bottle at the turn off to the Bottomless Pit trail - still about 1/2 full - so as to pick up and use on the way back down.  My other 2 water bottles I had filled with Skratch and began to work on those.  The Swedish Fish also kept me up on fueling.

 Surprisingly there were a lot of hikers - many of whom must have camped at Barr Camp the night before - on the next section of the trail.  I tried to run past them as I came up on them.  A bit of an ego thing.  I made it to A Frame at around 2 hrs 50 minutes.  This had been the longest I have been on my feet running (or at least moving forward) since The North Fork 50K back in late June.  And I wasn't even half way done with my day !!!
A Frame - definitely no donuts here.
No thought ever crossed my mind of turning around here though - only 3 miles and 2000 feet or so to go till my donut.  I hadn't gotten this far to turn around now.  I pressed on and for the next 3 miles I hiked about 90% of the way, shuffling into a jog only on a few occasions.  My lack of time at altitude was definitely a factor above tree-line.  I couldn't jog for more than a minute or more at a time before feeling dizzy.  I just needed to both 1) get to the Summit 2) and then get back down - so hiking was the smart thing to do.  No need to blow a gizzard.  (For reference point to those unfamiliar with what exactly is "a gizzard" - think some sort of internal organ).

At A-Frame I realized that a strategy of mostly hiking the rest of the way up would result in a sub 4 hour summit.  And that it did.  I finally made it in 3:55:25.  Not great but not bad either.  The good thing was that I wasn't feeling too awful.  The better thing was that I had bought $5 with me to buy a donut and a Gatorade.
A fat filled reward - fuel for the downward journey.
I hung out in the Summit house for 10-12 minutes and inhaled the donut, filled up one bottle with the Gatorade and drank the rest.  Took a couple more pictures and then walked back to the Marathon turn around point where I had stopped the watch.
The view from the Summit looking East.  Awesome.

The View from PPM turnaround point looking South.  Super Awesome.
So, now for the downward journey.  2 goals.  1) Don't fall.  2) Try to get near 2 hours so as to make the round trip time less than 6 hours. 

I started out slow as is customary and necessary for the top mile as it includes the 16 Golden Stairs and some technical rock hopping.  I passed a lot of the hikers that I had passed previously on the way up.  They were both encouraging and a little incredulous that I was now running back down.  I didn't take the time to stop and explain to them that I was a little crazy.

I made it back down to A-Frame in about 29 minutes - a decent and controlled effort.  Rolled my ankle a little just below there but it was minor and I kept running until the pain went away (no issues with it later or today).  Made it down to Barr Camp in about 54 minutes.   This lead to the thoughts that if I kept it up I should easily get under 6 hours.

I had picked up my water bottle and was hydrating and fueling well.   I stopped a couple of times to burp out some gas build up - that relieved a little of stomach stress.  The stomach wasn't great but descending 7800' + is not going to do many peoples innards any favors.

Below Barr Camp I really started getting tired.  5 hours in and my body was saying enough.  By No-Name Creek the temps really started heating up but I kept moving forward and got down to the Cog Railway and on to the pavement for the final mile or so.  That is such a tough long stretch after spending so much time on a trail, but eventually I got down to town, took a left turn and ran a few feet to the finish line area of the PPM race. 

Down in 1:50 and change - actually about a minute or more faster than the race last year, a bit of a surprise.  Total round trip time was just under 5:46 - plus the 10-12 minutes at the Summit.  A satisfying effort and time result.  It also reinforced in my mind that I don't need to do the race again.  But maybe I will - I don't know.  Don't need to worry about it for months yet.  What it did point in my mind was I didn't train at all for it and was only 20 minutes off my race result from last year.  If I trained for it like I trained from the 50K in June - as in doing a bunch more mileage and vertical training - I may be capable of a PPM PR.  But that would really hurt and today - the day after running the course should be reminder enough that I really am a wimp and should make the smart choice of not signing up to do it again.  But that is to be determined.....

After all - the donuts at the Summit are worth the run up to get them......

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Running with Fruit Salad

I'm not really a fan of cheese, I really do not like tomato's - however I do like ketchup.  I eat chocolate and candy way too much, although not as much as I used to.  I have always been a good eater of vegetables - aside from  pumpkin: yuck.  And I like fruit.  I like many different types of fruit and actually enjoy a good fruit salad.   A fruit salad with pineapple, grapes, apple, strawberries, melon, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries - that to me is a good one.  Lots of variety, really colorful, different textures, and not only those - good for me too. 

Sometimes I'll get a bunch of fruit and blend them into a smoothie, but I don't enjoy that as much as just picking my way through a bowl of different fruit.  Admittedly I'll add some ice cream in there at times - but let's just move on from that shall we.....

The last few weeks have a fruit salad of types for me.  Meaning - a whole bunch of stuff mixed together and most of it good for me.  Unfortunately - my running has taken a back seat - some of it by choice - other times due to other commitments and an injury.

2 weeks after the North Fork 50K I was easing back into running having recovered well and quickly - I was playing Basketball with my son and we smacked knees - hard.  Instant pain, swelling and I knew it was not good.  After much resting, icing etc it was feeling a bit better - so a week later, after having not run for a week I ran the Classic 10K - having a free entry got me there.  After a few short warm up strides my knee felt way off and I should not have run the race.  But I did and the adrenaline seemed to kick in.  I toed the starting line thinking of  race strategy I have never employed in who knows how long.  Normally I start out slow and try to either stay steady or pick up the pace.  This time I was going to go opposite that.

Due to my knee not feeling like it would hold together I thought I may as well go as hard and as fast as I could for as long as I could.  After a couple of miles at near redline effort for me my knee was doing okay, relatively speaking, so I thought I could make it through the race.  I passed the 5K mark and was only 15 seconds off a 5K PR - well on track to break my 10K PR.  I slowed a bit over the remaining 5 K but still ended up coming in 30 seconds faster than ever before.  A pleasant and unexpected surprise.

Instead of waiting 45 minutes for the shuttle to take me back to the start - I decided that I would run back.  Dumb decision as it was a miserable run back, my knee really started to ache and by the time I was done I was in great discomfort. 

No running for 2+ weeks.  I couldn't.  I had trouble walking, especially negotiating stairs. 

I saw a doctor and fortunately nothing seemed broken or torn.  Just a very deep bone bruise and inflamed area behind the knee cap.  Lots of Icing, resting, wrapping, elevating.

Finally 2 weeks ago and having now gained 8 pounds since the 50K I was done with the dumb knee.   I had enough and started to lightly jog.  Adding a few miles each day.  Having a lot of walking times during the run.  Icing after each time and trying to rest up.  I got in 14 miles for the week.  By the end of the week my knee was about 80%.

This past week it was feeling better and I added a bunch more miles on and seemed to have come out of it with the knee intact.  I did do a lap Falcon Trail from the B52 connector yesterday - 14.2 miles and my knee did okay.  Possibly a little too much mileage too soon - but the day after the run - in which I did take the day off - the knee is okay and I will hit a trail somewhere tomorrow morning.  I'm putting my knee at about 90% right now.  As for my fitness - well that has issues.  The slowest lap of Falcon in months and months.

I have the Stump Jump 50K coming up in less than 7 weeks.  I have no chance of being in my best shape before then.  That's disappointing but I will give it and training for it my best effort.  Going in with low expectations will possibly help.  Going in under trained will not.  Going in injured will not be a good choice so I will try to train smart, lose some of the gained weight and be as best prepared as I can.

In the past few weeks I have had opportunity to get a good amount of swimming in which has helped with my fitness, helped also with the knee coming around.  I should have been doing more swimming earlier in the year as I really like the benefits of how it helps fitness, strength and not such a pounding on the legs and feet.  I will look to keep on doing that as much as possible.

Other fruit salad or miscellaneous items that have happened in the past few weeks - sold my house, helped get my family moved into their new place - a few long days involved with those items.  Work at The Broadmoor has been going well.  My kids are back into soccer and doing well.  My son is starting goal keeper for the Varsity Soccer team - as a sophomore.  My oldest daughter's team went undefeated in a soccer tournament this weekend.  Pikes Peak Marathon and Ascent was this weekend and even though I said I was done doing either after last year when I came 5th in my age group - I paid attention enough to the results today to think I might have done okay in this years marathon.  So I am thinking about next year for that - but I am also thinking about maybe trying a 50 miler out which could lead to a 100K and possibly a 100 miler.  Not sure about any of that yet.

So, back to checking in with a training log for the next few weeks leading up to the 50K.....

Saturday, June 28, 2014

North Fork 50K race report

As I type this - I hurt, I'm tired, I'm sore.  I'm also not trying to wipe a huge smile off my sunburnt face.  I had a race today that worked out pretty darn well for me.

It was a cool 40 something degree start at 7 am but I decided to run shirtless because I knew it was going to warm up and I didn't want to have to carry anything unnecessary later in the race.

I positioned myself at the start beside a 50 mile runner that I knew from the last 2 Pikes Peak Marathons - who is a little quicker than me, but I figured he was going to start out sort of slower due to him running an extra 18 miles.  At the start, both 50K and 50 mile runners head out at the same time and run the same trail till almost 15 miles into the race.  As we rounded the 1/2 mile flat stretch at the start around Pine Lake I counted about 25 to 30 people in front of me.  I was hoping for a top 20 finish out of the 121 starters.

We hit the beginning of the first hill and immediately the 50 mile runner dude I was beside started walking.  End of my plan to stick with him.  I know that the longer I run without resigning myself to a walk - the better I do.  I suck at power hiking / walking.  I find it better to just keep shuffling at a slow and steady jog.  So that is what I did for the first 3 mile climb up the initial 1000' feet or so of the race.   Immediately it got warmer as we climbed up into the exposed burn scar area.

The climb wasn't too difficult as I hit the top still averaging near to 13 minute mile pace and feeling quite good.  I let people pass me without any desire to go with them, instead just maintaining a steady effort.  By the time I entered the first aid station at 4.3 miles I had settled in with a train of 5 other runners, one of which was a 50 mile runner, the others running the same race as me.

The next 5 miles was a down and up, 2 1/2 miles each direction, dropping 600' then going back up (a different trail 600'.  I was in the middle of the train of 5 others the whole way down and we shared a relaxed conversation and pace the whole way down.  I learnt the woman in front of me had run a 5:30 50K in Wyoming last year and so that gave me a confidence boost that I was hanging with her.

As we made the turn to head up the group stretched out and before long 3 had dropped off the back and it was just me and 2 others (including 5:30 lady).  The climb was long and yet it was steady and I just stayed as consistent with my effort as possible, after a while I gradually pulled away from the other 2. 

As we neared Aid station 2 we left the trail we were on to head across to it - about 1/5th of a mile to it, then doubled back to the trail we were just on - with the brief out and back I was surprised to see so many other runners in such a short amount of time, about 6 ahead of me and then about the same on the way back.

The next mile plus was a continuation of the uphill, albeit at a less vertical accumulation.  I passed a guy tying his shoe, then a guy who had stopped to pee, which made me realize I needed to do the same - so they both passed me again.  Then we began a meandering descent over the next 3 1/2 miles of about 1000' through some really pretty forest on awesome trail terrain.  During the descent I passed the other guys as well as several more runners - these had started an hour earlier, as permitted to do so as they were 50 milers who needed extra time on the course to avoid cut offs / dq's.

Half way down the descent the trail opened up into another burn area, allowing for nice views around the horizon of peaks - but also of the trail below where I could see for about a mile ahead - seeing 6 or more runners ahead at times.  Temperature's were also beginning to rise, but with that - a breeze was also picking up that remained the rest of the race, especially in exposed areas.  It was a welcome breeze that kept things tolerable, mostly.

Finally at the bottom of the descent was Aid station 3 and a refill of a water bottle.  14.7miles in and now a tough climb ahead.  I thought the climb was supposed to be in the burn area but it ended up not being so, which was good as it was a climb for about 2 1/2 miles and about 1000' feet of climb. 

4/10ths of a mile from the aid station the course split for the 50K and 50 mile runners - I wasn't paying attention to the signs and went left, 50' or so along I had a panicked thought that I went the wrong way - I turned around and fortunately a guy was 20' behind me in a yellow shirt - I asked him if we were on the 50k course and he gave me a convincing "yes".  So, I turned back around and started heading up, and up, and up. 

This was a grind and immediately I went to a lower gear, but the thought came to me that this is what I had trained for, on the Falcon trail and Mt Herman especially, going up, keeping moving, keeping the effort steady.  I kept running, slowly.  But not walking.  I was not ready to walk.  Along a straight section I saw a guy ahead of me and determined he was about 1 minute ahead of me.  Someone to key off.  He was also not walking.  I lost sight of him as the trail took several turns, head down - keep moving, keep the effort steady.  A mile or more later I caught him, he was now walking, I eased slowly past him and tried to say something encouraging.

The climb continued, I kept jogging.  We turned on to the Colorado Trail and finally some change in terrain.  It was a mile of rolling hills up and down, then a section of up again.  It seemed this section was also home to a boatload of mountain bikers, about 20 of them, all coming from the opposite direction.  Several stopped to let me pass, several stayed right on the trail and I had to side step them.  I tried not to grumble but it got frustrating.  Finally I hit the high point of the course at about 8100' and knew it then lead to a long downhill stretch.  As I began the downhill I quickly came up on a lady runner and breezed by her, only to turn a corner and almost collide with some slow moving bikers coming up the hill. 

The next 1/2 mile was a rolling section including a couple of short uphill's before finally heading down again and into the 4th aid station.  As I stopped to get a water bottle filled and eat some food I asked the aid station volunteers where I was - I almost choked on a fig newton when they said I was in 5th place.  I told them that was not possible, I'm not that fast.  They said I was, but was also about 10 minutes behind the 4th place runner.

The next 3+ miles was downhill through the burn scar and with 700' of drop it was here that my quads started talking to me.  Then my stomach started to feel really tight, cramping like.  It actually hurt a bit and whenever I tried to get my pace going quicker I had to back off.  My mind was now in a bit of survival mode - I wanted to keep 5th place, not much chance of getting up any higher.  5th place!  Wow!  That would be a surprise.  I wanted it.

As I went downhill the trail had several switchbacks allowing me to look back and up amongst the burnt out forest.  I tried to but couldn't see anyone, which was good because that would have depressed me.  It was however tough to see anything but burnt tree stumps.  Who knew if other runners were actually there.  Finally the downhill ended and I came out of the burn scar briefly, to turn onto the trail alongside Buffalo Creek.  Alas it signaled the start of the last big uphill climb.  3 miles with 900' of climb.  The next 3/4 mile was a gradual climb and took me back to aid station 3 (now 5).  I stopped there for a minute and downed several cups of coke, some more fig newton's and had a good laugh with the aid station workers about one of them not doing anything.  They were giving him grief because all he was doing was sitting in the shade - so I told him to "do something useful and hold my empty coke cups" - that brought resounding laughter from the others.

On to the next climb - I ran for about a minute and then could not run anymore.  I was now 24 1/2 miles in and entering not only the toughest stretch of the race, but also my low point.

I walked for 2 or 3 minutes and then tried to run again, with a little success for a while, but the uphill was winning.  I had also been in the burn scar since the aid station and it was warm now.  That didn't help.  About 3/4 mile out of the aid station I looked back, hoping not to see anyone - instead I saw the same yellow shirt guy from 10 miles earlier - and he was running, I was not.  I don't know if he saw me but I saw him and it kicked me into gear.  I muttered out loud that I do not want to finish 6th, 5th sounds so much better and I managed to get moving at my slow jog pace again.

Before too long I left the burn area and entered forest again, walking on the steeper sections but rallying to run on the more gradual uphill's.  I kept looking back but couldn't see anyone, but my line of sight was much more limited in the forest.  I was running feeling like I was being chased / hunted.  It kept me moving.

After what seemed like an hour since the last aid station, I got to the final aid station and downed some more coke and fig newton's.  3 1/2 miles to go, almost all downhill.  Time to trash the quads.

My time had slowed but I was well ahead of my previous 50K race pace still (5:42:12) which at 31:18 miles was an 11 minute avg per mile.  Between the 5th and 6th (last) aid station my avg had dropped from 9:45 to 10:15 - not great, but still well ahead of a PR.

3 1/2 miles down and it was way down, the steepest sections of the course, dropping about 1100'.  My stomach was tight again and my legs were achy to say the least.  But I managed to push.  I was running again in burnt, open areas on switchbacks that allowed me to look back and thankfully not see anyone pursuing me nearby.  A mean uphill stretch of 1/4 mile uphill at mile 31 reduced me to walking it - but then back to the steep descent.

Finally back to the lake and on to the finish.  I was ready to be done and finally I was, at 32.18 miles and 5 hrs 21 minutes and change.  I had run an extra mile than my first 50K - but was 20 minutes ahead.  I was warmly greeted at the finish line with confirmation of 5th place overall and 3rd in the 40 to 49 age group.  Note: the winner was 43 and crushed me by about 65 minutes.

I was and still are thrilled with the results, a little irked that I suffered on the big climb out of the 5th aid station - I will use that for future training motivation.  But for now and the next several days and more - time to rest, recoup and eat ice cream.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

50K Training Week 16 - A look behind and a look ahead at race day

So last week was the last week before race week.  40 miles on tap, covered over 3 runs.  The goal was less mileage on the week, but with equal or more tenacity / effort on these 3 runs.

Monday (6/16) did a Double Herman.  It's not that I've got these double 8 mile loops dialed in, but I have overcome the mental barrier of completing a lap, looking up 1600 or so feet and saying to myself: "do I really want to climb that thing again"?  Now I don't think much about it - or glance up - just keep on moving.

Monday's effort was a little sluggish - still feeling the effort of the 27 miler the Friday before, nevertheless I was able to do my second fastest double lap - (3:35) - just a couple of minutes off the previous best time.  I was hoping to beat that and in fact get below 3:30 for the 16 miles and 4680' of gain - but instead just put in a solid effort.

Wednesday I decided on a progression run for my 10 miler on Santa Fe Trail.  Started at Northgate and went up 5 miles and back.  First 2 miles at 9 min pace, next 2 at 8:30, next 2 at 8 min, next 2 at 7:30 and then a challenging 7 min pace avg for the last 2 miles.  I managed to pull it off and was pleased and a little surprised I could eek the last 2 out on rolling terrain.

Friday:  Back to Falcon Trail and using the .6 mile B-52 connector trail to get on to the trail / loop proper - I had ambitions of trying to get a new PR in for the 13 mile loop.  So I set out way too fast and ended up falling short of a new PR - but not too shabby in hindsight.- sans a PR.  Still ended up with a lap time of 1:51 which is fairly decent for me, better than almost all other efforts.

On to this week and just 20 miles to run prior to race day.  By now I can't really gain much , if anything before race day.  But I decided on Monday to see if I could put in a race day like effort on Mt Herman.  That and just to see how decent of shape I am in......

As I type this - on Wednesday - 2 days after the Monday effort - having just run an easy paced 8 miler today and feeling quite sluggish throughout - I know Monday's effort was bordering on too much.  But with that being said - I should be fine by Saturday, and will do a super easy 4 miler tomorrow to stretch out the legs a bit more.

Back to this past Monday and while I am still suffering a bit today..... I am still quite stoked about the run on Monday.  The weather was perfect and I was feeling really good as I set out.  Previous best lap PR was 1:39:50.  Previous Summit PR (set at a different time) was 33:45.  I started out for the first 1/2 mile of gentle climb at a measured / moderate effort, then the approx. 3/4 mile climb up almost 1600' began and I went to work and pushed as much as possible, even managing a jog on a few of the less steep sections.  Turned out a new Summit PR of 32:30 - a full 75 seconds off the old best and an immediate confidence boost into the run.  Still had 6 3/4 miles to go.....

I kept working hard, trying not to crash as I went down the other side of the mountain and connected to the Limbach Canyon trail.  I kept pushing as I tried to keep a sharp mental focus throughout and managed to keep up a solid pace, under PR time. 

Surprisingly there were several groups of hikers out early in the morning but I managed to navigate around them and with 2 miles to go around the front traverse of the mountain I realized I was not only well within beating the old PR - I was within reach of crushing that time and setting a new PR.

I pushed, hard, legs were complaining now - more than they have in a long time - but I was determined to succeed.  And I did - taking exactly 5 minutes off the old best - the new PR for the 8 mile loop with 2300'+ of gain now sits at 1:34:50.  A huge confidence boost going in to the race this Saturday.

And so we come to this coming race day on Saturday - without wanting to sound overconfident - I am really pleased with how well I have trained and are really excited for the race.  I have put in a lot of miles, way more than ever before for any other race.  In fact, my year to date miles are over 700 miles more than last year to date.  Way more than double.  The extra mileage per week has really helped with fitness and endurance.  I also expect that my strength has increased with a boatload more vertical.  I sit nearing almost 140,000' for the year so far  - 90,000' more than this time last year.  My Mount Herman runs have really accumulated the vertical, Falcon Trail on the Air Force Academy has been a valuable and close training ground too.

So, I have banked the work, I think I have figured out fueling and hydration - in essence: eat a lot, drink a lot of fluids and if I start to overheat or over-exert - then back off for a bit.  The weather forecast for Saturday looks favorable - mid to upper 70's which is warm but not intolerable.  The course has 4600' of climb, some of it quite exposed to the sun apparently so I will need to run smart and take advantage of the (apparently well stocked) aid stations.

I don't really have a time goal.  First priority is to finish, I will be a little irked if I don't go under 6 hours and would ultimately like to beat the time I set for my only other 50k last September (Devil Mountain Ultra) of 5:42:12.  Maybe a 5:30 finish time?  I really don't know because I don't know the course.  I guess I will find out and will look to enjoy the run throughout.   I'm excited for the opportunity and grateful for good health and good fitness going into it.