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, December 4, 2012

Been a fun run, thanks

I am signing out of blog world - got some things happening in my life that are far more important. 

It's truly been fun to write, share and read other people's blogs.  How or why almost 9200 visitors and or robots have stumbled across this knuckle dragging runners attempts at trying to be interesting, mildly entertaining and have the occasional mention of my running antics - beats the snot out of me.

I may or may not read other people's blogs still on occasion.  I am genuinely interested and often inspired.  I may one day come back and restart this one.  I don't know.  I'll still keep running and maybe even race here and there.  Pikes Peak Marathon is a huge draw to me and I would love to do it next year.

I have truly appreciated the encouragement and friendships as a result and I will look to continue those in some shape or form somehow.  I'll leave this post up till the end of the week and then remove it and the rest from the blogosphere - if I can figure out how to do that. 

(EDIT - I can't figure out how to remove the blog, eh - no big deal - maybe it has some use to someone out there - if that is the case - then go for it.  I am not one to claim to be all that smart). 

The blog has had a fun place in my life.  Time to run along on a different trail.  I hope to see you out there.......

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Rock

For illustration sake, think of a large rock.   Here's the thing about a rock.  You can hide under it.  You can be squashed by it.  You can climb it.  I'm sure you can do several other things with it too - but for this post I am focusing on the 3 items mentioned.

I've been hiding under a rock for a while.  Have posted once in the past month and read only just a few of other people's posts.  That's not because I have not been interested in doing either of these - it's just that the rock I have been hiding under has been squashing me a bit lot.

Realizing this is a running blog - admittedly where there is often less about running and more about other stuff like my family exploits and the seemingly odd science experiment that is my creaky, broken, old body - this post is a tough one to hit "publish" on.

If you are reading this - I guess I did post it - if it is just me reading it, then I am just writing it for therapy for myself.  I am a very private person - so in putting this out on the World Wide Web - admittedly to an unknown amount of anonymous people and very, very few that I know is a public step of awkwardness on my part.  Am I crying out for sympathy, for acknowledgement, for help, for understanding?  Yes.  No.  I don't know.

My wife and I have filed for divorce.  That is the rock that is squashing me.  Yet for a few years I have been hiding under a rock and avoiding what is going on at the home front.  Colorado rules mandate that it takes about 90 days or so for it to come to official.  So, by early February - unless her heart changes - I will be divorced.  That will suck.  I don't want it to happen.

Right now the rock that is squashing me looks unmovable, unavoidable.  My 3 kids will be greatly affected by this.  That sucks even more.  One thing that I have realized during this time is how much I love them and what they mean to me.   The other thing that I have realized is that I have turned my back on another rock.  Because of the world we live in I won't mention names of who that rock is - but I will ask that those of you who call upon the One who has a name that includes "The Rock" - I ask you to include me in that conversation.  Thanks.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Running with Birds and Bees

(Conversation from a few weeks ago......)

Dad: Hi, ummmm Son (name removed to protect the innocent, poor kid from any further embarrasment from his dufus Father), I, ummmmm think it is time for us, ummmmm, to ummmm, have a, ummmm, talk.   (Really, I wish it was your Mother who would do this - it was her idea after all and she has been bugging you to do this for months and months now.  Why should I do it - I'm just the poor kids Dad - my Dad didn't have a very good talk with me about this - at least my memories of it aren't good at all).

Son: Sure Dad.

Dad: (Oh crap - I was hoping he didn't hear me or was too busy having too much homework to do).  Ohhhhh....... cool.  What do you want to talk about?

Son: Huh?

Dad: (Groan - I was hoping he would start.  This is not going to be easy).  Ummmm, I mean, I kinda think we need to, ummmm, talk a bit about ummmmm, you know......

Son: Know what Dad?

Dad (Well, this is going well so far you idiot - if you don't stop saying ummmm and sounding like a cow - you never will.  Step up you coward).  Weeeellll, I think we need to have a talk about, ummmm (again, really?), Soccer.  (Huh?  this is how you are doing this.  Nice job).

Son: Why?

Dad: I don't know.

Son: Okay.

Father and son talk about soccer for a few minutes.....

Dad: Okay, that really wasn't what I was thinking we should talk about.  (Okay, it's go time, now or never - I choose never, wait.  I choose your Mother to do this.  Wait - I have to do this).  Let's talk about SEX.

Son:  Ohhhhh Kaaaay

Dad: Yeah - this could be fun huh?  (Fun?  I feel like I am about to fall off a bridge).

Son:  Ohhhhh Kaaaay.

Dad: Yeah, fun is probably not the right word.

Son:  Ohhhhh Kaaaay.

Dad: Want some ice-cream?

Son:  Ummmmm, sure.

Dad and son get some ice cream - absolute silence for a few minutes as Dad has no idea what he has started, what he is doing, or what he is supposed to say.  Finally, ice-cream is eaten.  The moment has arrived.  Dad will talk to son about........SEX.

The Son can't wait for this to be over.
The Dad can't wait for this to be over.
The Son can't believe this is about to happen.
The Dad can't believe this is about to happen.
The Son can't wait for this to be over.
The Dad can't wait for this to be over.

Dad: Soooooo, what do you think about, ummmm, girls.

Son: Ehhhh, they are wierd.

Dad:  I know right?  Who is the wierdest girl you know?

Son: My sister (name also witheld to protect the innocent).

Dad: Okay, who else?

Son: My other sister (name also withheld).

Dad: Anyone else?  (I hesitate to ask - knowing what is coming next).

Son: Mom does some wierd and crazy things at times.

Dad: No kidding (like making me have this talk on my own when clearly I have no clue about what I should be saying here).

Dad: How about kids in school?

Son: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (name withheld to protect the wierd girl in middle school and just in case her parent ever reads this).

Dad: Why is she wierd?

Son: Cos she's stupid.

Dad: Why?

Son: Cos she is.

Dad: Is she pretty?

Son: Huh?

Dad: Is she pretty?

Son: No.

Dad: Why is she stupid or wierd?  (Dad is looking for any excuse not to talk about sex with his Son).

Son: eeeeh, she does does wierd stuff.

Dad: Oh.

Son: Yeah.

Dad: Hmmmm.


More silence.

Dad (Crikey, now what?  Maybe that is enough for today?  Unfortunately not).  Soooo, are there any pretty girls in school?

Son: No.

Dad: Really?

Son: No.

Dad: Surely there are some pretty girls there - I have seen some.  (Oh God - now I am starting to sound like I have been stalking 8th grade girls.  I really haven't).

Son: Nah - not really.

Dad: So, no girls in school are pretty?  Do you think any girls are pretty?

Son: Ehhhhh.  Naaaaa.

Dad: Not even your Mom?

Son: Sure she is pretty.  But she is Mom.

Dad: I think she is pretty too.

Son: yup.

Dad: How bout your sisters?

Son: What about them?

Dad:  Do you think they are pretty?

Son: No - they annoy me.

Dad: Aren't they cute?

So:  Ehhhh, I guess.

Dad:  So, Mom is the prettiest girl you know.

Son: Sure.  Can I get some more ice-cream?

Dad:  Sure. (maybe I should take up drinking alcohol).

Dad: What do you think about Mom is pretty?  (Oh oh, this could get wierd to have your kid describe his Mother).

Son: She is just pretty.

Dad: So, if there were any pretty girls around, what would make them pretty?

Son: (with look of befuddlement on his face) Ummmm....

Dad: maybe their face?

Son: maybe.  I guess.

Dad: Their smile?

Son: Sure.

Son is thinking "what am I doing here"?
Dad is thinking "what am I doing here"?

Dad: Anything else that makes a girl pretty?

Son: If they can play soccer.

Dad: Okay, (this could be another chance for a rabbit trail - hold it together Dad - try to go somewhere with this), not sure about girls playing soccer that makes them pretty.  But, do you see any pretty girls playing soccer?

Son: Ummmm, I guess _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (plays on US Womens Soccer team but name withheld cause it's wierd my Son thinks she is pretty - I just don't see it).

Dad: How about _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (also name withheld in case she ever stumbles across this blog and files a lawsuit against me for being a creepy old man).

Son:  I guess she is pretty.

Dad:  Okay, good.  Why do you think she is pretty?

Son: Ehhhh, I just said that to stop us having this conversation.

Dad: Nice try son.

Son giggles

Dad: Try again.

Son: Cos she pays soccer.  (Giggles some more).

Dad:  Nice try again.  What else?

Son:  Cos she is pretty.  (Now laughing)

Dad: (where is your Mother?  I am getting nowhere).  Son, you are not making this easy on me.

Son: (laughing).  I know.

Dad: Punk kid.

Son farts

Dad: Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh nooooooooooo !!!!!!!!!

Son laughing uncontrollably.
Dad is gagging.
Finally, after a few minutes of rough housing......

Dad: Let's get serious.  We need to have this talk.

Son farts again.
Dad farts too.
More gagging and rough housing.

Dad: Alright kid.  Lets talk about sex.

Son: Can't we talk about soccer?

Dad: I wish, but your Mother won't let me.

Son: Just tell her that we did.

Dad:  Okay.  No, wait.  We need to have this talk.

Son: Don't worry Dad, I heard it already at school in class.

Dad: You did?

Son: Yeah, it was gross.

Dad: Did you learn anything?

Son:  Waaaaaay tooooo much.

Dad: Like what?

Conversation withheld to protect the Safe For Work blog that this is (or was).  After a while - conversation is over.

Son: thinking - phew, glad that is over.
Dad: thinking - phew, glad that is over.

Mom: somewhere else is thinking - I bet he didn't have the talk.

Dad: thinking - there is no way she is going to believe me.

Son: thinking - there is no way Mom is going to believe Dad.

(What has this got to do with running you ask?  Nothing - it has taken me 3 weeks to sort of get over it.  Thinking I needed therapy to get it out of my head - realising that running helps clear my thoughts - but that conversation will never run away from my mind though).

Friday, October 26, 2012

Spruce Mountain Snow Run

Long awaited Snow on Thursday, so - following is the internal dialogue.......

Do I still want to get out and Run?  (It is snowing after all, and it's cold - below 30 degrees out, and if you really don't want to - then just don't do it, cause you are not training for anything anyway).

Okay, running it is then.  So is Spruce Mtn still your favorite place to run?  (Especially when it is snowing).

Should I take my camera? - Because according to your hair-brained running plan you came up with, you are still walking further than you are running (Thursday was walk 1.7 miles, then run 1.4 miles at 8:30 to 9 min pace).


Post walk / run thoughts..... "Dummy, was there ever any doubt that you should have gone running and that Spruce Mountain was the perfect place to run in the first (measurable) snow of the season?  Sure it was going to be cold and would snow on and off while you were out there - but you are a runner after all - or at least you want to be?  Stop arguing with yourself and go home now"

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Space Jump from a runners perspective

Yesterday (Sunday morning) my son and I stumbled online to the Space Jump.  For those (like us) who had not heard of it - a Skydiver, w/ 7 years of planning, sponsored by Red Bull and with an organizational effort that seemed NASA-like supporting him - floated in a capsule tethered below a helium filled ballon to the outer limits of the earths atmsospehere to an altitude of over 128,000'.   Why?  To jump.

We quickly found it on TV and watched it for the last hour of it.

Admittedly at times, as the Ascent was happening, it was as interesting as watching paint dry.  But as the guy (Felix Baumgartner - 43 years old from Austria) started the checklist to ready himself to jump - including undoing his seatbelt and then opening the door to see just how high he was - my son and I watched with increasing interest and wondered out loud what could happen - both good or bad. 

And then, when the jump happened we sat and watched cheering like we were at a sporting event, while being freaked out watching if the guy was about to jump to his death.

24 miles above the earth - almost a full marathon - took about 2 1/2 hours to get up there.  Then he jumped - free falling for over 4 minutes before his parachute opened up.  Exceeding 800 miles per hour during the descent.  Amazing camera views of him descending, tumbling, spinning, seemingly out of control, then slowing down and coming out of the spin as he got closer to Earth because the atmosphere became thicker.  Talking to the mission controllers as he was plummeting downward.  It was amazing as we both watched.

My son mentioned later that he covered about the distance of a marathon faster than than most can run a mile.

He landed as though he was steeping off a ladder.  Softly, easily as though it was routine.  But I guess it was - that was the easy part.  My son and I looked at each other.  He said with such amazement "That was awesome".  All I could say was "Wow.  Wow.  Wow". 

The training, the journey, the dedication that Feliz Baumgartner put into the project must have been huge.  From a guy who enjoys running, including running in races - my favorite being the Pikes Peak Marathon - it was hard to comprehend and understand.  I sometimes look at elite athletes and are jealous of not just how good and fast they are - but of the training they do. 

I think what if I could train like them, what if I can run like them - what heights can I reach?  Or, shall I be content with what I normally do?  I'm not about to take up skydiving and especially not about to float in a balloon 24 miles up - and jump.  But, after watching that yesterday - I was inspired to try to do better, train more and see what happens.  I'll never be even close to elite - but I want to be faster, maybe even reach new heights (for me).

I also said to my son "Don't ever do that, please.   But if you do, don't let your Mom know".

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 5K's

Not a lot of logic went into this concept.  Most likely has been done before but I don't care. 

Why?  I want to / need to get back into running.  But I need to be careful to not jump back in and hurt myself by doing too much, too soon.  So - I came up with this.  I don't think I can be accused of coming back too fast, too soon if I can follow through on this.

I started this on Monday and here is what I am doing.....

Day 1: Walk 3 miles then Jog .1 miles
Day 2: Walk 2.9, then Jog .2
Day 3: Walk 2.8, then Jog .3
Day 4: Walk 2.7, then Jog .4
Day 5: Walk 2.6, then Jog .5

For the first week the walking is about an 18 1/2 minute per mile pace.  As each week goes by, walking pace will hopefully get faster - but really don't care if it does or doesn't.  For this week the jogging will be at a pace no faster than 10 min mile avg. 

On Saturdays and Sundays - nothing resembling the walk / run 5K plan.  Activities will include wandering around watching my kids soccer games and working on doing honey do lists.  I will also be doing some eliptical work and stationary biking on one or both weekend days.  As each weekend goes by, more time on Eliptical, more time on bike.

Week 2 - the pattern continues with each day being .1 mile less walking, adding .1 mile jogging.  This week I will be jogging a little faster on average - somewhere between 9 to 10 min mile pace.  If I find that is putting too much aches and pains on the back.  Then I will pull the plug and probably just shut it down.  Hopefully though, by doing the increasing ever so little at a time - I will be okay.  I guess I will find out.

Week 3 - same pattern, so by the end of the week (Fri, Oct 26th) - which will be 5K #15 - that day is 1.6 miles walking, followed by 1.5 miles slow running.  This week the pace goal will be 8:30 to 9 min mile averages.  (Likely still doing the same Sat / Sun routine)

Week 4 - same pattern, now I am running faster and further than I will be walking.  Average running pace goal during these 5 days of a 5K per day will be 8 min to 8 1/2 min mile pace.

Week 5 - likely to be colder by now and possibly snow on the ground.  Although my desire will be to doing each 5K outside - I may have to resort to the treadmill.  Will still be following the pattern of decreasing walk length, while adding on run length.  So, on Monday I will walk 1 mile, then run 2.1 miles.  Tues: Walk .9 miles, run 2.2 miles - and so on..... Average pace this week will increase again and be faster (I hope) - aiming for 7:30 to 8 min average.

Week 6 - nearing the end and surely by now I will have either quit, forgot what I was planning on doing, or got bored and decided to climb Pikes Peak (not likely to happen).  But just in case I am still on track and still following my ridiculous plan - by Friday of this week it will be 5K #30.  I will just walk .1 miles and then run 3 miles at a 7 to 7:30 minute mile average pace.

Week 7 - or more specifically: the goal week.  Monday (November 19th) will be 5K #31.  No walking, just running the whole 5K.  Don't know how fast it will be.  Don't know if I will have followed the plan to get there.  If I can - I will try to go sub 7 pace.  If I can't - I won't.  If I do - will be happy.  If I have made it that far by sticking to the plan - I'll be a little surprised.

If it works out - a few days after 5K #31 - I will then run the local YMCA Turkey Trot 5K.  That may be with one or more of my kids, or maybe just by myself.  If I do run it - at least I know I should be able to finish.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Regretable 5K

I have never counted calories and never wanted to - not just because math is not a strong suit of mine.  On the odd occasion that my children ask me for help with their homework - I first ask them if it is for math then they better ask their Mother.

Side note - they also go to her for Science, Social Studies, History, Language Arts.  I get the occasional question on Geography for some wierd reason.  That's when I get to show off my knowledge.  Math however - most recently Algebra homework for the 6th grader and the 8th grader - makes me leave the room.

I actually eat okay - I think.  Sure there is the occasional binge eating of Ice cream, Razzleberry pie, oatmeal and raisin cookies, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, shortbread cookies, chocolate cake, plain cake, red velvet cake, banana cake, in fact -all kinds of cake.   Then there is soda, jelly beans, chocolate, brownies, chips, Chinese food, Mexican food, New Zealand food, big greasy burgers - but usually not all on the same day.

While waiting for the Chiropractor earlier this morning I was reading about a 2000 calorie per day diet being something that was good.   There was a list of "5 foods to avoid" - top of that list was sugar.  Curses.  I hate lists.

Top of the list of "5 foods to enjoy" was Olive oil.  Followed by Spinach.  That got me thinking about Popeye of course.  Which then got me thinking of Popeye's Chicken.  Chicken is supposed to be good, but Turkey is better some would say.  While dwelling on Turkey my mind easily went to Thanksgiving - Yummmm.  Before I knew it - I was starving.

Then came my chiropractic adjustment and I asked the Doc how my back was doing and what is the plan for continued improvement.  Secretly I was hoping he would say something like not starting to stress it out yet by doing anything to crazy.

He told me that my back is improving really well, that things are lining back up into place and that the bulging disc is noticeably "unbulging" (my word, not the Dr's).  Now that the spinal column and the discs are getting back to where they should be, I need to start some new exercises / rehab therapy to help things get stronger.  

Dead bug exercises are what I get to do for the next few weeks, along with.....(noooo, don't say it Doc!!!  I just want to eat everything in sight)....walking more and even a little light running.

So the (guessing) 5000 calorie weekend, possibly all that on Saturday, are now behind me - admittedly I now have an approx 10 pound larger shadow behind me too.  Play time is over.   Time to get to work - this is not only what I need to do - I really want to.

Today I will walk, the goal is 3 miles, trying to jog up to a 1/4 of a mile - after lunch of course. 

You're Fat (Dr Phil)
I can't get back into this exercise thing "cold turkey" - hmmm there I go getting distracted again thinking about food.  When is Thanksgiving?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Easing back ain't easy

Came across one of the better New Zealand videos on Youtube.....

As for my back - I have been cleared and encouraged by the doc to start exercising again - limited to walking and easy stretching exercises for now.  Hoping to start some light jogging by next week sometime.

Went for a 2 1/2 mile slow walk w/ my wife last evening - by far the longest distance I have done in weeks, in fact it was only the second walk of over a mile.  While walking, she asked me about a return to running - which got me to thinking and realizing that the further I get away from running the bigger the pendulum swings.

On one extreme is a desire to get back into it with increased effort, amping up weekly mileage above what I have ever done before, run longer distances and do bigger events / races.

Yet on the other extreme is a desire to do absolutely nothing except get fat and lazy.   It sure is easier to put on 5 pounds than to lose 5 pounds.

Admittedly - while not running it has been easier to do the 2nd option.  However, while doing nothing but eating and being - the result is that it sends me down the mental path of mild guilt - which then swings the mental pendulum over to a desire to get out on a trail and run for 6 hours.

On a side note - w/ Fall in full swing and snow likely tonight - I am missing one of the prettier and favorite times of the year to be out running trails

An upcoming "dilemma": I am supposed to get a new pair of shoes next week to do a 3 week "wear test".  Not quite sure how I am going to pull that off - wondering if and how a "long run" is going to be viewed if it is only a slow jog down my driveway.

I think what I am likely to do is let another week go by of uselessness, chocolateness and fatness - then when I get the shoes next week - is to (at least try to) start running again.  Treating myself like a brand new runner.  Mapping out a 4 or 5 week schedule of gradually working back into a running routine.  Building back up a running / fitness base - while working off the waist base.

I was born and raised in New Zealand - but have lived in the US for 20 years now.  Like this running break - the longer I am away from New Zealand the bigger the pendulum swings are between an intense desire to drop everything and take a 1 way flight back there.  To the other extreme of wondering why would I ever want to go back "home"?

Well - to avoid songs like this:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Caveman or Pirate

Full disclosure - when unable to run, the exercise of the mind is a terrible thing to do instead of hill repeats waste.  In other words, with my back out of whack, I'm going (more) nuts.

Bear with me for a trip down a less travelled trail..... Lets just say that this world is really a SyFy channel original movie.  You know, the movies that have ridiculous titles, along with hilarious descriptions / summaries of the movie.  For example: Jersey Shore Shark Attack - "Albino bull sharks are no match for attitude, fist pumps and spray tans".  Or the classic(?): Sharktopus - "A half-shark, half-octopus creature creates terror in Mexico".

With that exercise in mind numbing mush behind us - lets just call everyone in the world either a Caveman or a Pirate.  For the lovely female reader(s) of this poor excuse of a blog, forgive me for just a moment - Replace Caveman for Cavechick, Pirate for umm, hmmm, Pirate I guess.  This is my blog - so your either a Caveman or Pirate.  But before you call me a cavemen because my blog is about a so-called "knuckledragging runner" - it is simply titled that because knuckledragging pirate dot com was taken (or eaten).

You may be asking: "which is better"?  Well, thanks for asking.  Let me help you with that by going to where we always go for answers we can trust: the government the internet.

I'm done with Google for a bit and so I typed into Bing: What is a caveman?  It took a few pages before a few photos of legendary shirtless Ultra runners popped up - we won't post those here.  Instead - the Wikipedia page refers to Cavemen as Neanderthals and also refers to them as a "troglodyte".  Excuse me?  A trog what you say? Frankly - that bothers me a little, not sure why - although it seems like a good title for a SyFy movie.

As for "what is a pirate"?  Leaving wikipedia (cause the pictures are boring) and exercising (see, I may not be running, but I am getting in my exercise) our way through cyberspace - we come to Yutube for better pirate and caveman definitions, and by that I mean fun videos.....

Unfortunately - for me at least - I searched for movies depicting these Cavemen and Pirates and while for most people the movies that first come to mind are

Let me be the first next to credit the caveman for introducing us to music: .
However, the pirate has their very own language:
Crikey - what a stupid post this is - but I've got this far so I'm gonna try to bring it back to something to do with running......

So, Caveman or Pirate?  Which is the better athlete? Well, I already referenced those legendary shirtless ultrarunners, not saying they look like cavemen or anything - but they don't look like this guy. 
I would think that it is likely that the "Caveman Athlete" was truly a remarkable multi sport athlete - a prehistoric decathlete even.  Sprinting after his potential lunch all the while trying to throw a spear at it as he jumped up and over a rock.

However, the "Pirate Athlete" would surely have to be considered as an impressive dude also.  Travelling to far away destinations to embark on seemingly unfathomable conquests for mere mortals along poorly marked trails and to be rewarded - even if they do waiver off the trail - they get first place and the prizemoney treasure.

This post has sunk to a new low - I have no idea what I was writing about to get to this point.  

Oh yeah, who wants to be a Pirate?  Or a Caveman?  Ummm, not me (okay maybe just a little).  But, I give up, falling in line with those who are politically correct and don't like to be called names, or pidgeonholed into being described as one thing or another....... I admit, we are not all Pirates or Cavemen, or even Cavechicks. 

We are just plain old people who are stuck with being who we are.  Or are we? 

In a round about way - I guess the point of this post (aside from revealing the easily distracted niff norf that I am) is that in the past 3 weeks or so, since the last time I was able to run - I've been thinking about running, wondering what I can or want to do next.   I will not admit to thinking about running the Pikes Peak Marathon next year dressed as a Pirate.   I will admit to thinking about running differently - not Pirate-like - but doing different things related to running. 

I like to run, I have missed being able to run.  Admittedly, writing a blog post like this is the most exhausting thing I have done in 3 weeks.  I have enjoyed eating a little more than before but admittedly have done so with wanting to get back running with something to do and work on.  With those thoughts comes a desire to try to run a 5 6 minute mile, to run a 50K, or 50 miler even.  Those are not a reality for me though, at least not for now.  Maybe one day, I still have to / need to wait a couple more weeks before I can go running again - so in the meantime, I'm thinking about writing a SyFy original movie.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Running Bulge

From the files of "running can be dangerous for your health", comes an update on my back.

After pretty much suffering for over a week and only experiencing minor improvement on the back pain, in other words - not enough improvement with anti inflammatories, regular icing, chiropractic adjustments etc - it was time to find out more of what was causing the problem.  I had an MRI late yesterday.  The MRI itself was a first for me - when I had my knee scoped they actually used an ultrasound type of device to see the inside of the knee and the torn meniscus.  Yesterday I got to experience the big and scary machine.  I decided I am not a fan of an MRI machine - very loud and a little claustrophobic, while having to lie completely still for about 20 minutes.  Not too unbearable but not comfortable either.  But, I made it.

Anyway, got the results this morning and learnt I have basically a good case of a bad thing.  Meaning what is wrong with me is not great, but could be a lot worse.

I missed most of the technical stuff (L5 - S1 something blah, blah) - but caught that I have a bulging disc in my lower back, it is bulging on the outside of the disc and compressing into a nerve that runs across my right hip into my thigh.  The bulge is somewhere between minor and major in size.  It is in a location that causes a decent amount of pain - no duh.  But if it was more centrally located (on the disc) or on the inside of it - it would then be more difficult to treat without having to resort to surgery.

So, treatment for this is a mix of chiropractic, some specific exercise therapy, many more ice packs and I should start to see noticeable improvement within 5 days or even less.  Encouraging news to me for sure.  If no noticeable improvement then I could need a shot in there of cortisone, but the doc is confident that it should get better without that.

I knew this next part already, but he confirmed that no lifting much of anything for a while and sadly, no running either.  But eventually - in about a month or even less I could / should be capable of doing the running thing without any damage.

Of course my question is "how did it get this way?"  Simple answer is that we don't know.  However, some likely contributing factors could have been the downhill running of the Pikes Peak Marathon.  A couple of weeks after that on Labor Day I hiked up to Barr Camp with my 2 oldest kids, carried a backpack that starting out was almost 20 pounds.  Going uphill was fine, but carrying it back - even though it was lighter - may have had something to do with it also. 

According to the doc, it's possible that it took a while to surface as a problem in my back because I was so fit and my back muscles and nerves had tensed over the problem - then a few days after that hike was when the disc had "room to go nuts".

So, I have a bulging disc, treatable and likely able to get back to full health.  I have to be careful with downhill running in the future - the doc said I should possibly consider not doing the PPM again - but fortunately that is a ways off.

It's nice to know what is wrong.  It's better to know that it can be (most likely) fixed.  I think and hope that I can be patient with this.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Huge appreciation and many thanks to those who have read and written encouragement.  Your kindness and thoughts are sooooo much better than ibuprofen or any other pain pills right now.

Here's where I am at.....
Started taking anti-inflammatory pills on Wednesday - those have helped in a couple of ways.  They have helped me relax a little better.  Because of the pressure and tenseness along my spine and hips - no position I could get my body into felt comfortable.  Over last weekend into the middle of this week was 100% ouch, 100% of the time.  Getting the hips and spine and the things that connect them a little relaxed has allowed me to find a few moments in a comfortable position - so I can rest.  They have also eased the intensity of the hurt.

Unfortunately I don't stay comfortable for too long - and moving hurts.  Sitting, especially in a car seat is the worst position.  I can and do still drive around - but are limiting that as much as possible.  Walking is a little better, but that ends up putting too much downward pressure on.  So, lying down with my feet elevated seems to be the most helpful.  Although, rolling into and out of that positon is problematic.

Lots of ice packs, pills - although not really wanting to, but realizing they are helping - taking those regularly, and chiropractor visits twice a day: these have helped noticeably.

Prognosis: not sure.  The pain should start to become less within about a week, especially as the inflammation decreases.  We will get another X-Ray next week to see what / if anything has changed and hopefully got better aligned.  The adjustments help the most with the release of pressure.  However, the doc wants an MRI next week also if it doesn't feel or look much better.

Lets say it does get better within a week - meaning the pain is noticeably reduced and I feel better: then I should still expect 4 to 6 weeks of not being able to really do much of anything exercise related.  Meaning not running, lifting anything etc.  That in my mind sucks, but I have already mentally commited to doing at least that.  At least I was until I looked out the window this morning to see snow covering Pikes Peak above treeline.  (Unfortunately - I will stay away)

The Dr is confident we can get things much straighter / more properly aligned - once we get to that point (within this next week or two) - we should be able to identify if it just the anatomical structure of my body that has gone off track.  If that is the case, then it is an (relatively) easy fix - the 4 to 6 week thing.

That's what I am hoping for.  The X-rays revealed my hips and spine to be way off normal / where they should be.  An X-ray just identifies bones though.  The next step / alternative is getting an MRI - which could potentially reveal a damaged hip disc / cartilage / joint / muscle / nerve thingy or thingy's.  Some of those things could be infected (ie: like an infected tooth needing a root canal), or something could be torn.  Could be a few other things.  Those would most likely need surgery.

Getting cut on is not an option now, I'm not in a hurry at all to do that.  I'll certainly endure through another week to see if getting things straightened out leads to me feeling better.  My mind is in a better place.  I have my family which is awesome - even when it comes to helping me put on socks.  And thanks again to you who is reading this for your encouragement.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stepping back

Normally, I'm not a person to ask for help and really don't like to share much of what is going on with me personally.  Sure I wrote a lot about my bum knee last Summer, but in reality - that had an end I could see in sight that was favorable.  And I guess blogging is about me too - but I prefer to view that as sharing about what I (and my family) do - rather than writing what is going on with me on a personal level.  So, I'm somewhat hesitant to post this, but kind of need to be picked up a bit, or to vent - or both. 

This time last week I started to notice my lower back hurting.  Nothing new really - it has hurt to some degree for many years - probably over a decade.  But the pain increased quite suddenly last week for no identifiable reason and fairly quickly became quite intense and unbearable.  It was located at the base of my spine and hips area. 

By Friday morning I went to my chiropractor.  I've been seeing him regularly for a couple of years after a car accident that dinged up my neck - and that has helped.  X-rays have never shown anything of concern or a major problem in my lower back and hips though.

Kind of hard to describe what we have found out in the past few days what is going on.  In essence - I can't actually stand up straight.  I'm leaning about 10 degrees to the left.  My hips have rotated due to some hip disc thingy that used to resemble the shape of a pepperoni slice - now looking like a wrinkled pringle chip.

The pictures of the damage are clear.  Things don't look right at all.  I have seen xrays and other body type scan pictures before - but have most times needed to have things pointed out what is the problem.  In this case - to see how non-level my hips are and as a result the angle of my spine as a result - no wonder I hurt the way I do right now.

Worst case scenario - surgery.  We don't know if the disc is infected, don't know how it got to be like that, we do know it is sooooo highly inflammed and pressured right now.  I do know that for about a week I haven't been able to get comfortable for even a short length of time sitting, standing, slouching, lying down in any position.  I haven't been able to sleep much.  I can't put socks or shoes on and need help putting on pants.  Sharp pain, dull pain, constant pain - nothing really seems to lessen it.

Ice packs every hour, finally resorting to anti-inflamatory drugs - but they don't seem to help much either.  Twice a day to the chiropractor is about the only thing that is providing any kind of relief - but even that is temporary.

My chiropractor knows the body well and has seen a lot more than just backs and necks out of alignment - now that we have seen as best we currently can what the issue is - he can treat it better.   I'm putting a lot of hope in him.  No running upcoming for me for quite a while.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Help wanted: A Mother

I enjoy writing race reports, it's fun to reflect on a race and how it went.  I write about them and how I did, what I did and why I did the race.  Then often are left to wonder: "who cares?"

I'm just about to finish a different race, it was kind of a relay where my part was 5 days long and now I am about to pass the baton back to the other runner in the relay.  Her role in it is a lot, lot longer than mine.  The last 5 days I got to experience some of the race she does.

My wife's sister is getting married later this year - my wife has been out of town (in NY) with our youngest kid for the past 5+ days helping her sister get ready for it and throwing a Wedding Shower.  That left me at home with tweedle dee and tweedle doo.   (Not the greatest of nicknames for our children - and we don't actually use it very often).

No Soccer games over the Labor Day Weekend, but the last couple of days of a school week still meant getting kids up each morning, making lunches and sending them off to school.  After school are soccer practices, carpools and each day taking care of 2 needy horses, a stupid dog and an even more stupid cat. 

I had a plan - sort of.  Fortunately I am a highly trained parent, full of expertise and wisdom when it comes to taking care of my children when left alone - a plan that involved meals of pizza, ice cream and cereal, each available at whatever time of day (or night).  We could sit on the couch watching movies or football all weekend long.  If we got bored we could always go for a run together, or go watch a movie - surely we could pass the time.

Actually, I didn't have much of a plan, was really just going to wing it.  We survived the whole experience and I think we all still like each other.

Friday after school we went to the USAFA Womens Soccer game at the Academy.  The coach of that team is also co-coach of my oldest daughter's team - and the team was invited to walk on the field pre-game with the team for the National Anthem.  Quite cool.  We then stayed for the whole game - which went to overtime.  And then because we were already there, we watched the Mens team play.  These games are free and for the close proximity to where we live - is good value, especially for the soccer crazy people in my house.  We might go back a few more times.   By half time of the men's game, it was dark out - we figured out it that I was also responsible to feed my children.

Great job Dad, keep your kids out late, don't feed them and then send them to bed 2 hours after their bedtime.   Actually, we did eat, then because I felt bad for not feeding them, the sugar rush from ice cream therapy kept us all awake a little bit.

I had a plan for Saturday, sleep in.  We did okay and then we decided it was time to go for a hike.  My son and I convinced his sister that Barr Camp was doable and she would like it.  She actually did.  We all did.  A fun hike up although she did keep on asking us when we would get there.  We told her it was only about a 10K to get there - and she has run one of those before (admittedly on much less steep terrain).   It was her first time there, my son's 4th time.   Took us about 3 hours to get there, under 2 hours to get back to the car.   We jogged much of the way back and the look on my daughters face when we got back to the car and telling her that we had just covered 13.7 miles - more than a half marathon - she was beaming with delight.

The next 2 days were "hang around the house and work on the list that the taskmaster had left us".  A good chunk of the list was erased.  We had a bit of a scramble to clean up the house before Mom gets home later this afternoon.  Overall, some good, fun times had by all of us.   Waking them up to get them on the bus this morning was even okay.  But then it was tempting for me to go take a nap. 

Being a Mother I'm sure has it's rewards - but it is exhausting.  I am ready to pass the baton back to her.  It's her turn to take over in the race.  However, she doesn't write race reports for the things she does in the race of raising children.  However, after 5 days of seeing it a little closer, I'll tuck along beside and try to be a better support crew member.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What is this running thing?

2 different directions in this post.  1) A "report" on my first run since the Pikes Peak Marathon.  And 2) What is "it" about running?

1) The goal race of the year is over and I didn't run for over a week after.  No rush to get back to running.  No training runs that were urgent enough that if I missed a run, I was trying to figure out what to do to get that missed time / opportunity back.  No urgent "need" to run.

I recovered quite well after PPM, better than I thought I would.  I was definitely sore and downright uncomfortable for about 2 days after.  By Wednesday though, I could move fairly well and actually went for an hour long walk while 1 of my kids was at soccer practice.

I had thought about and kind of wanted to get a run in on Saturday and / or Sunday, but didn't due to kids soccer, the house honey-do list and some other excuses that were pretty lame.

Was kind of wierd, the longer it was that I hadn't run, the more I wanted to get out and run.  But, the easier the excuses were to come by to not actually run.

Monday afternoon - I ran.  All day long I was looking forward to it.  I wasn't sure where I was going to run, or for how long or how far.  As the day rambled on, my ambitions grew.  At one point I actually decided I wanted to run part of, if not all of the PPM course that day.  Fortunately that thought passed as I figured out I didn't have time - or for that matter, ability.

So, I decided on an easy 6 miler.  Parked at the trailhead at Woodmen Rd and got on the Santa Fe Trail, heading North into the USAFA.  I set out on an easy 9 min mile pace because that felt about right.  That felt a little slow but I decided to stick with it and before I knew it I had 3 miles (if I turned then would make for a 6 mile round trip).  But, that felt a little short.

So, instead of turning I kept on going, and going.  This was nice, and fun.  At 6 miles in I was still moving fine w/ no stress on the pace or apparent weariness on the legs.  However, smart person that I am, I finally realized that for every mile out I had run, I had to run back to where I started.  I was faced with now being half way in to a 12 miler - after not running in 8 days.

The run back was fine, I even picked up the pace to 8 min average for the return 6 miles (tailwind and more downhill than uphills).  The run was fun, not planned out, nor expected - I was a little sore after and definitely weary.  But what a fun return to running.  Which leads to.......

2).....what is "it" about running?
I'm assuming the readers of this running blog are runners to some degree.  For every runner I'm sure we run for a different reason or reasons.  I know there are probably some similar themes and motivations common to each of us, along with varying layers of abilities and accomplishments.  But when it all boils down to "it" - we / you / I run.

Some runners run with a style more noticeable and recognizeable than others.  Some styles resemble an unfortunate shuffle of 2 left feet at your first middle school dance.  Others run looking like they are being attacked by bee's while trying to dodge acid puddles.  While others are a picture of smooth efficiency - when observed makes you not only drool and long to emulate - but also cause you to take your eyes off where you are running and run into a tree.

Someone smart would say that you can't spell R-U-N without U in it.  To those so gifted at spelling I would like to point out that you also can't spell U-P-H-I-L-L without H-I in it, or for that matter I-L-L.  Some run smarter than others.  Some run longer than others.  Some people run in cold weather, some in hot weather, others don't like to run in the rain while some think running in the rain is a good excuse for a shower.  Some enjoy running in snow, or on a beach, or on a "beautiful, twisty, singletrack trail" in the mountains.  Others stick to the track or the pavement.  We have our favorite places to run - some we like to keep to ourselves, other running places we willingly share with other runners (or hikers, bikers, horses and wildlife).

We run.  Those that run are marketed to by the "running industry" (Those that don't, but should run, are also marketed to).  We buy products to help us run.  We read books and magazines about running.  We spend money to run.  We travel to run.  Running takes time.  Running takes effort (for most).  Some people blog, tweet, post, write, share photos and brag about their running exploits, achievements and adventures.  I can be accused of many of these.

We run because it makes us happy, helps us get distracted, helps with weight and personal appearances.  We feel good when we run (some times).  We run to get from point A to point B, or from point A, go around in circles for a while to eventually back to point A.

After not running for 8 days - coming off the hardest race of my life and before that the hardest I have trained for a run in my life - I was "over" running for a while.  However, it didn't take long for the seed to develop again and grow.  After neglecting and excusing it for a few days - I ran.  When I ran, I kept going, not because I didn't want to stop - but simply because I was just plain old "running".  It felt right, it was right.  So, I ran (insert Forrest Gump reference here).
So, in answer to my question:  what is "it" about running?  Could be many things and do we really need just one reason?  The best reason I can come up with is: "just because".

Thursday, August 23, 2012

PP Marathon - for better or worse

Final wrap up of the race.  What went right?  Wrong?  What can be better?  What was I thinking?

After the race was over my wife asked me if I wanted to do it next year.  I immediately answered "no", because I think I "maxed" it out and ran as best as I could.

While it's still a long, long way away - after a few days of thinking about it, I think I could do better if some things were different.  I'm rolling out the 360 day training plan for next year.

Immediately after the race I was a little disappointed with my Ascent, but the complete opposite - scrape me off the ceiling excited about my Descent.  But, in hindsight, that too I could have done better.  Not by much, but still possible I think.

What went right?
* I signed an agreement to not blog about a shoe test I signed up for several months ago.  So, without being specific - I got them a few weeks before and had 30 something training miles on them.  The best shoes I have ever used - on any race or run.  No debris inside during the race.  No blisters or black toenails after.  My feet did not hurt during or after the race.  To not even have to think about my shoes or feet during the race really helped. 
* Side note on that - my knees did not hurt at all during or after the race.  Those funny looking things have been my biggest issue on just about all of my runs in the past few years.  Why they didn't hurt is beyond me - but I am so grateful they didn't.
* I carried a 12 ounce water bottle that I tucked into my shorts.  Still drank fluids at aid stations but between them, especially the distance between Barr Camp and A-Frame - I didn't run out.  That was good and I didn't worry about thirst or dehydration at all during the race.
* I carried fingerless, Mtn Bike gloves that I put on and wore from A-Frame up and all the way back down through to the finish.  The 2 spills I took on the way down had minimal damage because I used my hands to break my fall and the gloves protected me (Thanks again GZ).
* Training: Doing the Slacker Half Marathon 8 weeks before the race really helped my downhilling on race day I think.  I did a good number of downhill training runs on the trail also - so my legs were used to the pounding.  They still suffered - but I think the quads did alright - and post race have really not hurt as much as I thought they would.

What went wrong?
* The dozen or so times that my calves (mostly the left, but also the right) had the momentary shot of hot, stabbing pain is a mystery to me.  It has never happened before.  After the race in the recovery tent I mentioned it to the medical crew there and I don't remember much of what they told me.  They checked my hydration levels and said I was fine.  I drank mostly water, or water with GU in it during the race, not a lot of Gatorade though.  I ate a decent amount of food during the race including gels, a banana at Barr Camp each time through and at the Summit.  Maybe I should have eaten more?  On the 360 day training plan I will experiment more with food on the run options.
* Did I taper correctly?  3 weeks out I ran 50 miles.  2 weeks out I ran 40 miles.  The week before I ran only 15 miles in 3 runs.  Each of those runs was mostly a fairly tough run.  I didn't feel fatigued at all beginning the race (or early on), but am wondering if I didn't quite get it right for the taper.  Will be hard to experiment with that one.

What could be better?
* Was the training plan right?  I made it myself based on a combination of what I thought I was capable of, what I have read related to the race (Skyrunner, race website, etc) and from what I saw on other people's blogs / websites.  While in general I think the majority of my training runs were purposed correctly - they didn't get me to the Summit in a time that I thought I was capable of.  Maybe that is because of me and my 44 year old body.  Or maybe I needed to do more.  One run that I didn't do that I will likely do next year (should do several times) is a run all the way to the Summit (and then hitch a ride back down, or hike down, or run it even).
* One of the main reasons to enter next year is to win something.  That would be awesome.  Next year I enter the 45 to 49 year old age group and while I don't like getting older, my chances of winning an age group award notably increase (at least for a year) when I leave the 40 to 44 year old group.  I was 12th this year in my age group.  My finishing time when compared to the 45 - 49'rs would have put me 2nd this year.  Silly me - I compared the last 10 years results and 8 out of the last 10 years I would have won an age group award.  I usually do fairly well putting those thoughts out of my mind on race days - that may be a downfall in races to come.
* Race day weather could not have been better.  Let's order that again.
* Race organization and volunteers could not have been better.  Thanks again to all involved.

Finally, what was I thinking?
* Race photos are coming out and you will not see a link to them here.  I do not take a pretty photo.  I have seen one of me just below the Summit on the way down with half a banana sticking out of my mouth.  Other photos I am left to wonder what was going on in my head.
* The 16 Golden Stairs were crowded on each trip through.  On the way up I let the people around me yell that the runners were coming through.  On the way back down, I was yelling just about the whole way for that 1/3 of a mile - way too much and way too obnoxiously.  Plus I was running pretty close to out of control and almost wiped myself and other runners out.  Did I really need to go so quickly through there?
* And what am I thinking for next year?  If I do this again I will say now that a 5:30 finish is the goal and would be disappointed if I don't achieve that.  5:15 would be the realistic target.  5 flat would be awesome (in reality: not likely).

360 day training plan begins.......

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

PP Marathon - post race

It's the day after the day after the race.  The dust has settled and the DOMS has settled in.  OWWWWWWWW !!!!  I hurt.  I ache.  I hurts to sit, to walk, to stand, to lie down, to go up stairs, to go down stairs.  But I can't stop smiling.  It is soooooooo worth it. 

Boastfully speaking - I rocked the downhill.  I'm proud of my race and especially proud of the results.  While trying not to come across as so selfish and prideful - it's hard not to write a race report or blog post in which the main focus is yourself - and not have it read by others and received as a guy saying "look at me, I'm awesome".  I'm really not.  So, some random stuff about other things that went on over the weekend in Manitou Springs and on Pikes Peak.

I'm not awesome.  Race winner (Kilian Jornet) beat me by 99 minutes.  In a post race interview he said the ".....the race was really hard because it was flat....."  Great Googily Moogily.

Kim Dobson had the most awesome race of the weekend.  To not only beat a 31 year old record, but to beat that by 8 1/2 minutes not only is deserving of the $8,000 prize money - but probably more recognition.  I'm curious to think what time she could have made if she continued and did the marathon course.  Sub 4 hours seemed likely which would have beaten that record too.

I'm also curious what kind of time Kilian could do if he ran the way he wanted to.  As in, straight up / off the trail above treeline.  It was clear and not too subtle in pre-race interviews that he is not a fan of the switchbacks.  I really don't blame him as that is what he is used to in the European Mountain races.  Trail-free, I'm sure he could go under 2 hours for an Ascent.

At the pre-race news conference it was kind of funny that he and the Womens Marathon winner (Emelie Forsberg) both noted that they were surprized to see the Summit house at the top of the Peak.   Thinking about it - it is a little odd that on the Summit of one of America's most iconic peaks - is a store selling t-shirts and donuts, with people walking around outside who have not hiked up it - and are smoking a cigarette.

Full disclosure - I don't smoke but have bought and eaten plenty of donuts there.   They are greasy, I'm sure they are full of fat, oil and other bad stuff for the body - but they taste great, especially after a run.  No doubt I will eat more donuts there - and enjoy them.

Back to the race.  Here is a Marathon result that is as impressive as just about any other on the weekend.  I don't know her, have never met her, likely never will meet her and was not there when she finished.  I wish I was there to see her finish.  Kathleen Morrow, 69 years young, finished with a mere 3 seconds to spare before the 10 hour cut-off time.  She has finished either the Ascent or Marathon 10 times.  Mrs Morrow - you are awesome, congratulations.

It was also awesome at the finish line for me to see some awesome people.  While my wife and kids couldn't make it due to a Soccer tournament, people showed up and cheered - for me?  Coming down Ruxton Avenue towards the finish line the crowds got bigger and the noise got louder as the runners get closer to finish.  Were they cheering because they knew each of the runners?  Unlikely.  Were they cheering because of what we had just done?  Sure, some of that.  I'm not much of a cheerleader - but on race day I was super grateful that hundreds of people were yelling and cheering as I finished.  It was such an encouragement.

When I crossed the finish line I immediately sat down on a chair - for at least 5 minutes.  While the world was spinning and the volunteers were making sure I wasn't about to pass out, I heard my name from behind and turned to see Brad (who had PR'd in the Ascent the day before), as well as Steve and Kathleen - who had literally finished a trail run and then driven many miles to watch the end of the race.

Thanks to Steve and Kathleen not only for this and other pictures, but to have run with Steve on several training runs, covering many miles and hours and then to come out and genuinely be as excited as I was about my race - that meant a lot.  Brad, Steve, Kathleen - thanks for being there.

After the race I was a mess - I looked like a mess, I spoke like a babbling 2nd grader, an emotional basket case almost crying several times, I felt like crap and yet I was feeling like I just conquered the world.  

I laid down in the finishing tent and was royally treated by 2 wonderful Physical Therapists.  As they rubbed my aching calves they got to listen to me ramble on about the race.  I must have seemed like a clown, or a flirt or just an idiot - but they kept at it and really helped me get back on my feet.   I saw somewhere that about 600 people volunteer over the weekend.  There are not enough thank you's to be said to those who had any part in the races.  Thank you so much.

After staggering out of the tent and chatting with Brad, Steve and Kathleen, picking up my drop bag and finishers shirt, getting some photos, and then seeing the initial results posted - and being instantly more upbeat with my placing - I wandered across the bridge to the Park Pavilion where the food was, where the awards were given out.

I didn't win any awards, didn't expect to.  I was there to eat food.  However, I really wasn't very hungry and I'm kind of wondering why in the 2 days since the race I have not had much of an appetite.  I have almost forced myself to eat because I know I need to.  Probably just the beat up system needs time to readjust to the enjoyment of food - and being able to chew and swallow while not running.  Trying to eat during the race was adventurous, certainly not easy.  It's necessary I know and I should try to figure that out better.

Razzleberry Pie is one of my favorite bad things to eat.  I'm the only one in my house that likes it and 2 days into it - it's getting better, can probably stretch the rest of it out another 4 days or so.  By the time I'm done with it - I'll be okay.

My mind is wandering and Jelly Beans seem very appropriate also.  I may have to mix them in with a salad later.  Let's just skip the salad and go straight to the sugar.

Back to the after race scene..... I had met George for the first time about 3 hours earlier that day.  It was mid race, about 12 miles up the Mountain and 7000 feet higher.   He was cruising downhill and I was leaning uphill.  So, it was good to finally meet up with him in the Pavilion and sit down and chat for about an hour, along with Jeff V (5th Master) and Dave M (7th overall) who GZ introduced me to. Thanks for chatting and the encouragement George, was great to finally meet you and I look forward to doing it again.

Finally I staggered back to my car - only about a 1/2 mile away but what a long, slow and painful walk.  My family called me as I was walking - my son spoke first and congratulated me (I had texted them shortly after I had finished w/ quick results).  As I am walking down Manitou Ave, with tourists and some other runners wandering around, me looking like I had just bathed by a snotty Camel (think: a slobbering mess) - I started crying.  My race was complete.

I drove home, hugged my family, lay on the floor for a while, took a shower and hugged my family some more.  My running is taking some time off now.  Kids Soccer games just about every Saturday (and 1 Sunday) for the next few months.  I've spent hours and hours running these past few months.  I've missed my family and they get priority now.  When you have a wife and 3 kids as great as mine are - I'm looking forward to spending so much more time with them.

I don't know when I will run another race.  Nothing is planned.  I will not run for at least a week as my body needs to recover.  I'll probably just run a few times a week in the months to come and will look to get out with some fellow runners to enjoy the local trails when I can.

As for next year?  Pikes Peak Marathon 2013?  Dunno.  This post has gone on long enough.  I'll save those thoughts for next time.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pikes Peak Marathon 2012 Race Report

Where to begin?  America's Ultimate Challenge.  Toughest race of my life.  High's, Lows.  Pain never felt before.  The best race result of my life.   Grab a beverage - this is a long post.

I guess the best place to start is at the start line......

Photo: The Gazette

Pre-race feelings were a mix of excitement, nerves and curiousity.  I was happy with my training plan, feeling like I had prepared well, was hoping to do well, yet I didn't know what that would be.  My goal time was 5 hours, 30 minutes.  I would have been a little disappointed if I missed that.  And so 772 runners began as the gun went off along the first 1 1/2 miles or so on pavement.  I was thinking the first stretch along Manitou Ave before Ruxton was a place to kind of get a good start - it barely climbs at all and I didn't want to be too far back in the pack, to avoid being too slowed once we entered the single track trail on "the W's".  

From the roundabout on Manitou as we started going up Ruxton - the true climbing begins.  By the time we get to the Cog Railway it is clear that the mountain means business.  Shortly after the Cog we go past Hydro street and enter the steepest part of the course.  It's not too long, but it is steep, many runners walk it.  I have done this part of the course many times and although I can walk it just about as fast as I can slow jog it - I commited to run slow jog it.  It's really a mental thing as I have found in training runs that the more I walk down below, the more I resort to walking further up, especially in sections that I can and should be running.

Then the W's begin, 13 switchbacks of varying lengths, that if a runner thinks the Hydro Street stretch was really not that bad - this part of the trail will change your mind.  I have found in training that if I can run through them without walking (aside from a few rock step ups) - then I can usually run to Barr Camp.  On race day, I was succesful in running up the W's and got to the top of them just under 40 minutes.  That was one of my pre-race goals.

So far I was feeling good, not comfortable by any means but certainly confident that because I had run so far without too much suffering, I should be able to continue forward quite well.  Throughout the W's and beyond, the stream of runners was beginning to thin out.  No stopping and starting due to overcrowding like there was in the Ascent race last year - where admittedly there is at least another 1000 more runners doing it.

After the top of the W's I settled in and my focus during this stretch was to maintain a consistent effort, balancing the steeper climbs with a steady effort that matched the "flatter" sections above "No Name Creek".  In fact, the flatter sections I was able to stretch out a little and took advantage of being able to increase the pace, while maintaining that effort.

The miles were going by, I stopped at each aid station for quick bites and water bottle refills.  Legs were feeling good, head was in the game and I was making progress.  I had commited before starting the race to not look up at the Summit.  It's visible from the trail in several places - each time I have looked up before it seems so far away, so high and out of reach and honestly depressing.  I was determined that I needed to be mentally focused this day.  That meant not looking up, that meant running when I should be and moving forward always.

Barr Camp is a great place, almost like an Oasis in that it is in the middle of nowhere, yet when you are there it is the coolest thing that ever could be there.  Its cute, quaint and quiet - but on race day it transforms into an aid station, full of excited and cheering volunteers who load you up with food and fluids, but fill you up with encouragement - for the journey up and just as much for the journey back down.  I needed both.

Another pre-race goal was met as I got to Barr Camp just under 1:45.  According to the Skyrunner Pacing Calculator this was tracking me for a 3:27 (or thereabouts) Ascent time.  A quick refill of fluids, a mental check and I was feeling decent and still confident - then off again.

The stretch between Barr Camp and A-Frame I found in training runs to be one of the most testing stretches of the trail.  Approx 2 1/2 miles with approx 1800 feet of gain.  Aside from the stretch just below the Summit known as the "16 Golden Stairs" - this part of the course is the most rockiest.  Simply put - it's tough and the part of the course where I struggle the most with mentally and physically.  This was going to be a challenge.

The mindset going into it is: just keep moving.  You can run some of it.  You should definitely be walking some of it just to keep the energy levels in check.  It's the part of the race course that is the longest between aid stations, so it is important to fuel up at Barr Camp.  My pre-race plan was to add 2 gels to my water bottle at Barr Camp.  (I struggle to get them down if they are not mixed w/ water).  I was planning on getting some food in my system there also.  For some reason I didn't.  That might have been a factor later.

By the time I realized I hadn't eaten anything there I was already a 1/4 mile up the trail - too late.  I was hopeful though that the 2 gels in the water bottle would carry me through to A-Frame.  Pressing on I was commited to run as much as I could.  By this time there were more walkers than runners.  A couple of guys just ahead of me were running about as much as I was though - so I could keep my eye on them and that helped.

Eventually I made it to the A-Frame aid station - where new to this year's race was a timing station to record chip times - 2:28:48 for me.  That was about 5 minutes faster than my last training run up to that point - so with a new best time so far, one that was tracking for a 3:29 Summit - I was encouraged.   I ate some food.  I was actually feeling confident still because I had done several training runs from the Summit down to this point and back up and was feeling confident that I could do this stretch in an hour or less.

I left the aid station and took a step up on a rock and something happened to me that I don't ever recall happening before.  For a split second, on my left upper calf, I felt a burning surge of pain, like a spasm, felt like being jabbed with a hot knife, but only for a moment.  I had no idea what it was, it hurt and then it was gone.  I pressed on and tried to not think about it.

Above treeline the wind picked up, several gusts from the North, fortunately they seemed only noticeable in the mile above treeline.  I put my head down and kept running as much as I could, walking when I had to, passing more people, making my way closer to the Summit.

Photo: The Gazette

About a 1/2 mile above treeline, the eventual race winner, Kilian Jornet came surging past looking very strong.  About 5 to 6 minutes later, local runner Alex Nichols came through.  Was nice to see a local guy doing well against a top field of National and International runners - he held on to second place.

As for me - as runners started to pass me I was keeping a mental count, wanted to know where I was in the race.  As I went further up the trail I got more frustrated though.  It wasn't the other runners coming down, or the other runners I was gradually passing on the way up - it was that I was walking sections that I had trained on that I had taken note that were runnable.  Instead,  I was walking them.

On top of that mental battle I was getting into - the calf spasms kept coming and going.  I had no predictor of when they would come and none seemed any different than the other - they would just be a moment of hurt - I yelled out each time they hit me.  By the time I got to the Cirque Aid Station I committed to getting a lot more fluids down and realized that a 3:30 Summit wasn't likely.  This was my mentally lowest point of the race.

I'm a stubborn person though, I had trained for this race - a lot -and I didn't want that to go to waste.  So, leaving the Aid Station I kept moving forward, trying to run as much as possible and walk as hard as I could when I was reduced to walking. 

Just above the Cirque sign - a place that makes me weak in the knees at the thought of falling over the edge - I met a guy that I have been waiting to meet for a long time.  I had previously thought I would have met him already before now, maybe at the beginning of another race, or in a parking lot of a trail.  So, I wasn't really expecting or planning on meeting George 12 miles in to a marathon that at that stage of it was about 13 1/2 thousand feet above sea level.  He was on his way back down (eventual 3rd place Master finisher = Awesome!) and as he came by I recognized him - and yelled out "Hi George, I'm Craig and I'll see you at the finish".  A few moments later I heard him yell back "Go Knuckledragger!!!"

Good encouragement - at least for a few moments for me - I pressed on.  More and more people were coming back down now.  By this time I had given up and lost count of them.  As I got to the 16 Golden Stairs the jamming of the trail with runners coming and going started.  I was curious before the race as to how much of this would happen.  Downhill runners get the right of way - so to let them past - uphill runners pull to the side of the trail and often stop.

More frustration on top of that was now both calves were doing the spasm thing.  Not having ever experienced that before I started to wonder how much worse that it would get.  I was also ready to start the descent and as I neared the Summit and the cheering, supportive crowd and race crew spurred me on - helping run some more.

Summited in a chip time of 3:32:27.  17 minutes better than last year's Ascent which is good, but about 5 minutes slower than I really wanted and thought I should be.  Looking at the race results and split times - it looks like I was in 101st place at the Summit.  I stopped there, added my last gel to the water bottle, drank a few cups and ate as much as I could in a hurry.  I needed to get going but fortunately had the presence of mind to eat and drink - knowing in essence that I was about to begin running the hardest part of the hardest race of my life.

Sure, getting up to the Summit and by doing so: gaining 7800 or so feet over 13 miles is an incredibly difficult thing to do.  But then turning around, hurting and exhausted and going down again - as fast as possible - this part of the race was at least as difficult as the first half.  Plus, if I wanted to beat my goal time of 5 1/2 hours - I was already behind schedule.

I took off, now I was facing the runners coming up, there were runners in front of me going down also.  Add to that, we were in the 16 Golden Stairs where the trail is very narrow, rocky and technical.  In training for this approx 1/3 of a mile stretch I have never been able to get through it fast and although I didn't keep track of time on race day through there - I know I went down faster than ever before, to the point of almost losing control - I didn't, but I was flying.  I pushed hard and according to the race day splits - only 22 people went faster than me between the Summit and A Frame on the way down.

I got to A-Frame and I realized I had probably pushed too hard.  That same rock on the way up that I had stepped up on and my calf had spasmed - did it to me on the way back, causing my leg to buckle a little but I stayed upright.  I grabbed a quick drink and something to eat at the aid station there and kept moving.

By this time almost all of the uphill runners were now at or above treeline.  I had passed a bunch of people in the first 3 miles but they were thinning out, so by the time I was back in the trees on the trail - it seemed like no-one was on the trail.  I would run for what seemed like forever without seeing anyone.  Suddenly a runner going down would pop up in front of me, I would pass him and then was instantly alone again.

The next difficult phase began for me here - my stomach began to hurt.  I stopped to try to pee to see if that would help.  I couldn't, so I stretched over to touch my toes - that didn't help much either.  So I kept moving but my pace was slowing - thought I was going really slow but would still be passing people going slower than me.  That encouraged me - not that someone was going slower - but that I was going fast enough to pass people. 

A trip and a stumble over a rock or root that swung me off the trail onto a large boulder woke me up - I didn't fall completely over and it really didn't hurt me too much, just twisted me around and stretched my lower back.  I stopped again to catch my breath, bending over again to try stretch the back out, reminded myself that I needed to stay focused - and pressed on.

Made it back to Barr Camp where I could now describe my condition as at best: "wobbly", in reality: "bloody awful".  I held on to the Aid Station table, eating and drinking I felt like I was about to throw up.  Teresa, one of the Barr Camp caretakers asked me if I was okay and I said that I just needed to burp, or throw up.  She said either of them is fine if it makes you feel better.  I burped.  It did feel better and my stomach wasn't much of an issue the rest of the way.

About 6 miles to go, the flat sections on the way up now were on the way back and they were uphill.  They were tough, my legs were tired but each time I pressed forward - it was hard, but I felt better just doing a very slow jog than a walk up them and I knew that after a climb or flat section was a downhill.  Plus, I was still catching up to and passing people.

I had made a point to stop looking at my watch after the Summit, I knew that a 5:30 finish time was requiring an overall average pace of 12:30 miles.  At Barr Camp I was still above 14 minute average.  Mental math didn't work at all for me there in my state of mind - all I could figure out was that I needed to press to meet the goal.

With rapidly tiring legs, gradually passing the signs indicating how far to go, getting a little warmer the lower down the trail I went, downhill runners popping up seemingly out of nowhere - passing them and wondering if they would then pass me back - but they didn't.

Finally, the top of the W's and about 2 1/2 miles to go.  Gravity: please help me now.  Brain: stay alert.  Legs: don't give out on me yet.  Finish line: where are you?

There's an aid station at what is known as the 12th "W" - right up along side the Incline.  These volunteers haul the aid up there.  Other volunteers pack in supplies to the other aid stations.  Literally hundreds of wonderful people support us crazy runners achieve crazy dreams of running up and down the mountain.  They are out there for hours, some are there for twice as long as we are on the trail - these volunteers are awesome.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

I had a brief conversation with the ones at that aid station on the W's.  A few steps before it is a rock step down.  As I stepped down my calf went nuts again and instantly I was on the ground, almost at the foot of the aid table.  I was wearing gloves though (thanks again GZ for that recommendation after my last big tumble on the trail).  No real damage, A slight scrape on my elbow and knees, plus a decent trail rash on my hip that I found later.

I crashed right in front of the volunteers.  Wonderful.  Immediately they were asking if I was okay, if I needed water to wash anything off.  I managed to say something like "unless you see a bone sticking out, I'm gonna finish".  So, I picked myself up and ran.  I was so tired, so ready to be done.  I made my way down through the W's - trying to be careful with the rock hopping sections, yet still trying to push as hard as possible, passing still more people, not looking at my watch for fear of falling or being depressed that I would miss the 5:30 goal.

Finally, the last W.  I passed 2 more guys right there, one I recognized as someone that is in my age group, that always beats me in races - was this my time to finally beat him?  I wanted it.  He is faster than me, so I was expecting him to just latch on a few steps behind and then dust me at the finish.  But I had a new purpose - to beat him.

Photo: The Gazette

I pushed harder and finally hit the paved road with just over a mile to go.  Now was the steepest section.  I have read the Course description so many times and remembered this part how it says something like "by now your legs are shot - just let them go, you are almost done".  So, on the steepest part of the course I was pushing as hard as I could - couldn't help but briefly think how much it would hurt in the days after (it does).  But I wanted to stay ahead of the 2 guys I just passed so I knew I needed to just go.

Past the Cog, 3/4 miles to go and people started populating the sidewalks - they didn't know me but they were cheering as though they did.  As I passed them I would listen to when they would start cheering for the next person behind me.  Was someone right behind me?  I couldn't tell.

With a 1/3 mile to go to the finish line, the crowds were full and they didn't stop cheering - amazing - but, I still didn't know if there was someone right behind me so I pushed even harder.  Finally, the last corner came up and with just a few steps left I was almost done.

Photo: Steve
With a dizzying head, legs throbbing, chest pounding and heart racing - I crossed the finish line in 5:19:05

No more than 3 steps after crossing the finish line I went straight down onto a chair and watched the world start spinning around me.  This is what it feels like to be truly exhausted.  It felt AWESOME.

As I was sitting there in the chair, literally dazed as the world was spinning, trying to catch my breath and get to grips with what I had just done without breaking in to tears - the guy I thought was right behind me finished over 30 seconds behind me.  Victory. 

I looked at my watch - descent was 1:46:33  Checking results later: was 26th fastest descent on the day.  I passed almost 50 runners on the downhill to finish in 52nd place (739 finishers).  The disappointment I had at the Summit was gone - I had just run the best race of my life.

Photo: Steve