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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day - 10 thoughts

Leap day thoughts.......
1) Groan - it's windy again.
2) I really don't want to run on the treadmill - where is a place to run where it is sheltered from the wind?  Answer: treadmill.  Groan.
3) Forget the treadmill and suck it up.  Wimp.
4) My wife's birthday is Sunday - I have no idea what to get her.
5) The bottom of my left foot seems to be hurting a little - time for new shoes?  Or was it that run on Spruce Mtn a couple of days ago in the icy mess with tricky footing? 
6) Getting old sucks.
7) What should I eat for lunch today?
8) Groan - it is windy, I thought it wasn't supposed to be as windy as yesterday.  Why do I think about the weather so much? Weather forecasters can't be trusted.
9)  Hmmm, I'm kind of hungry - what did I eat for breakfast?  Did I eat breakfast? 
10) Oh look - it's leap day, or do you call it leap year?  Who cares?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spruce Mtn Slip and Slide

Now that the Winter Distance Series is done (aside from an awards Dinner on Saturday for #12 to pick up a 1st place trophy) - I am looking forward to what is next for me.  Can't look too far or too ambitiously due to 3 kids playing Spring Soccer.  Schedules are partially out and it looks like I will be able to do one of the Greenland Trail races.

I have run there the past 2 years.  1st time round was the 1 lapper 8 miler, last year was the 2 lapper 25K.  This year I had been contemplating the 4 lapper 50K - which would have been my longest run ever.   After checking the soccer schedules - looks like the 8 miler is on tap, allowing time to run and then to get off to watch Soccer.  I'm okay with not doing the 50K - my mind is not able to commit to that, my body will probably thank me for it too.

The time will come to put in a fair amount of training on the Greenland Trail course in order to try beat my time from 2 years ago of 1:04:14.  Historically that was my best results race ever - 11th overall (217 finishers) and 2nd in my age group.   It would be nice to try to beat that time this year - that is my goal.

Greenland Trail is across from my favorite place to run, a mile or so away as the crow flies - Spruce Mountain - I ventured there yesterday and it was an ice rink.  I slid and shuffled for 5.5 miles on a rough mix of ice, packed hard snow and mud, nothing smooth on the ankles, howling wind and cool temps.  It was miserable conditions and slow going for the most part. 

What a great run - I dressed well for it, enjoyed it as best I could and took my time.

Greenland Trail is probably a little less icy right now, but more exposed to the wind.  From several areas along the top of Spruce Mtn you can see the Greenland Trail course  - and while looking across to Greenland yesterday, I was glad to be on Spruce and not over there.  Kind of wish the race was on Spruce - but that would likely get more people to train and run on Spruce - where days like yesterday - I had it to myself - I like it like that.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Winter Series 4 race report

Mission accomplished.  #12 takes the 10 - 14 year old age group series win after a great rebound race this morning.  I honestly have had thoughts that maybe he peaked last year as going into this race he was 4 cumulative minutes slower - really accentuated by being 3 minutes slower than last year in Race #3.

Today - he proved his daddy wrong.  Today, the goal for the 10K was 50 minutes or better, which would have beat his last years time (50:14).  The course was a little tricky in several spots - noticeable snow and some icy areas - didn't really slow us down too much, did get the attention though to be careful.

At the start we saw the kids in 2nd and 3rd in his age group and made sure we kept an eye on them.  We easily gapped the chasers within a 1/4 mile and from there we just went to work.  We started out on the first downhill mile a little hot, realizing we may get cooked, I told him to ease back just a bit - which he did.   Still went through that mile in 7:20 - but it really was about right.

The next couple of miles we rolled up and over the hills, I was really impressed at his consistency and tenacity in keeping it steady.

By the 1/2 way point we were right at 24 minutes - with more climbing to go - especially in the next mile and a half - I was a little concerned we might fall back and not get 50.  But he stuck at it and we plugged along, at times I was hurting to keep up.

With 2 miles to go and right near the highest point in the race our average pace had dropped back to 8:05 - but that was good as only a few (albeit lengthy) uphills remained, the majority of it was downhill.

He was laboring by now, so was I, lack of training or fatigue was a little evident as we went up one of the hills and 3 or 4 people went right by us, but I mentioned to not worry about them, we were working on a course PR for him (and me too).

With 3/4 mile to go it was all downhill left and we increased the pace, reeling in people and kept going.  He finished officially with 49:22 - beating last year by almost a minute.  Both of us were really happy.  He beat the 2nd place guy in todays race by 5 or so minutes and wins the age group by about 8 minutes.

As mentioned, mission accomplished.  The kid is happy, the Dad (and Mom who is in Pueblo cheering on another kid at a soccer tournament) - is also very happy. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Winter Series Race 4 preview

Saturday / tomorrow wraps up the Series in Black Forest  - it is the closest race of any (year round) to my house (about 10 minutes drive away).  I have actually thought about running to and from the race before - but that thought ran away.

I ran it yesterday by myself in 24 degrees, with light snow falling and a steady Northerly wind blowing.  The plows had not been through yet (although they had this morning), so there was in places up to 6 inches of snow.  Approx 80% of the course is covered still this morning even after plowing, so hopefully the sun will hit a lot of it today - but I still expect it to be icy in several areas that are sheltered by trees from the sun.

The (10K) course is about 2/3rds dirt roads, the other 1/3rd is paved (going up Swan and then Herring Rds) with some good rolling hills throughout, total elevation gain is close to 450 feet.  Knowing quite well the likelihood of ice on some of the slopes is got me thinking to use the Yaktracks, or at least taking a slower frame of mind into the race.

I'll run it w/ #12, with an eye on trying to beat his time from last year - a few ticks over 50 mins - moreso, just making sure he stays upright and within sight of other kids in his age group.

Realistically, I don't think he will be faster than last year - he just seems to not be a focused on the whole thing this year, despite now being in first for the age group.  Maybe it is soccer that is occupying the mind and body, maybe something else.  In any case - I'll let him do his thing, encouraging as we go, pushing gently if I think it will help - watching the footing too.

Back to yesterday - I ran it harder than our training run on it last Saturday, wanted to see if I could break 50 minutes, but missed it by a little bit.  Weather and footing probably contributed to that, but I was still over 2 minutes faster than last Saturday.  In better conditions, including race conditions, I feel confident I could go under 50, that will likely wait till next year.

So, we will see how things go tomorrow, mostly optimistic of good things for him.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wal to Waldo (Canyon)

Tried something the past 2 days - that I have not done before.  Run the 7 mile (lollipop style course) Waldo Canyon trails on back to back days.

As the days are starting to get longer - daylight is shining off the top of Pikes Peak more...... it is hard not to see it and with that I am often easily drawn to thinking ahead to August 19th - race day.  With that as my goal race of the year, my mind has been at work a few times tossing around training ideas and training runs.  Nothing written down or set in granite just yet.  But the mind is often actively engaged. 

Aside from going up to Barr Camp once a month for the last few months - moreso just to say I have, rather than anything other specific - I am really not yet banking too many miles for specific marathon training.  Race day is still about 6 months away.

With that said, Waldo Canyon training runs are most likely going to be incorporated and used as part of training.  If for nothing other than a good benchmark fitness test.

If you include a lap of the Parking lot the distance is 7 miles and comes within a few feet of 1500' vertical gain.  From the parking lot the first 1/6th of a mile or so is stepping up several flights of irregularly placed stairs - enough to get your attention as you then ease onto the trails - which are a mix of smooth gravel, some more (wood and rock) steps, tree roots and varying different sizes of granite to traverse, plus some small creek beds in the mix also - all in all a good variety of terrain - often times quite similar to Barr Trail, but on a smaller scale.

After a steady mile or so climb, followed by a rolling traverse, right around 1.75 miles into the run - you come to the start of the loop - which is 3.5 miles.  Choose which way to go.  It seems like whenever I have done the run, if I find other people on the trail (and there are usually less on the loop than on the section leading up to the loop) most people go the clockwise direction.  I don't know if it is any easier than counter clockwise as I have done both.

Both (literally) have their ups and downs.  On Monday I went clockwise.  Tuesday I went counter clockwise.   4 weeks ago when I did it last (counter clockwise) I did my best time of 1:14:20.

Monday this week I did it within a minute of that time, not overly pushing too hard.  Tuesday actually felt easier and I was only 30 seconds slower than my best time.  Both days I could have gone faster, but chose not too - those day(s) when I push harder will certainly come.

So, I am feeling good about the trail, my improving fitness and look forward to running it more often - at times trying to push to see how fast I can do it, while other times just enjoying the trail and the work it produces to stay steady.
Map of the trail

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Weekend DIY

The weekend past was our last one before the madness of Spring (outdoor) Soccer and other kids activities take over.  So the Honeydo list was clearly posted.

* New Garbage disposal - took 2 days due to the clown installing it not reading some sort of fine print, 2 trips to Lowes and 1 to Home Depot - also has to reconfigure the dishwasher - which along the way decided to not drain properly - finally got everything working.
* Fixed some things on the barn.  Last week we picked up an extra horse - so some switching things around on horse stalls was necessary.
* The little one got sick, give it to her mother, gave it to me also.  Another trip in to get some medicine - kids Sudafed PE seems to work on the kid as well as the parents (if you double the parent dose).
* Ice Cream Therapy was also in order.  I am never one to turn down the healing powers of Ice Cream.  I am also one to enjoy ice cream with cake.  I couldn't get anyone to make one, so - being the Chef / Baker that I am - actually, I am not, but I do watch some of the wife's shows on the Cooking network - I baked a banana cake.  Turned out okay.  Even the kids liked it.  Went down smooth with Ice Cream.

I even got a couple of runs in over the weekend.  Sunday afternoon - feeling off (thanks to the kid and her flu type bug) - I managed some mile repeats on the Treadmill.  I'm fairly convinced that 7 min per mile pace on the thing feels the same as 6 minute pace out side.  Not that 7 minutes per mile is easy for me anywhere - but on our treadmill I am hanging on for dear life.

Saturday morning - before the Honeydo list was started - I got out w/ #12 and ran the Winter Series #4 course.  We wanted to run at a moderately steady pace - staying as consistent as we could, not starting out to fast of course, as well as finishing with a little kick (last 1/2 mile or so is a gentle descent).

So, without looking at the watch from the start - we took off and ran as planned.  Maintained throughout, had a good run that ended up being 6 1/4 miles (race is 10K but somehow we added a few steps) and averaged an 8:30 pace - with all the rolling hills not taking too  much of a toll.  We were only 3 minutes off his time for the race from last year.  So, a good and hopeful sign that that he should do good next Saturday.

He has a 2:47 minute lead over the 2nd place kid in his age group.  So, if we run this next race right - he should take first.   (Possibly) some more thoughts on that during this week, prior to race day.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Barr Camp run 2/16/12

Each month since October of last year I have been running up Barr Trail to at least Barr Camp.  It has been interesting to see the trail, trees, views and surroundings be different each time as Fall and Winter have come through.  I am looking forward to Spring - but there was not much sign yet of that when I ran it yesterday afternoon.

I parked again about a 1/4 mile down from the Cog - that gives me a 13 1/2 mile round trip.  Was sunny and 46 degrees when I started - so, it wants to be Spring, at least in my mind.

The W's really beat me up, specifically the calves - I had to stop 4 times to try stretch them out, they hurt more than normal.  Not sure why - but I drank a lot of water which seemed to help eventually.  Maybe I was lacking in fluids at the start.  I may experiment with putting a little bit of salt in my water to see if that helps - next time.

About a 1/2 mile after the W's I managed to get into a good groove, running about 95% of the way up to Barr Camp.  Nothing super fast, stopped to put on the YakTracks by the Experimental Forest - where the trail became more snow covered than dirt covered the rest of the way up.

Trail conditions were mostly hard packed snow, just a couple of icy sections, a few dirt stretches - but so much less icy than January's trip, much more enjoyable this time around.

Made it to Barr camp in 1:52.  Not great - 8 minutes faster than January.  So, despite the slowness on the W's - I really made up my time above them.  Rested and chatted at Barr Camp w/ the caretakers for 10 minutes - then made my way back down, trundling at a comfortable 8:30 pace average the whole way down.  Round trip time was 2:49 (+ 10 mins at Barr Camp).

Took a few photos on the down journey - enjoy....

Monday, February 13, 2012

Santa Fe Trail 1/2 Marathon

Sunday morning was soooo much different to wake up to than Saturday morning.  Sunny skies and no wind was a welcome sight compared to the day before when the 5 mile race took place for the Winter Distance Series.

The family had cabin fever, wanting to head into the  Springs for some shopping so I had them drop me off in Monument - where the sun wasn't shining and it was 10 degrees colder than at home.  Where I live is a few hundred feet higher than Monument - the lower the elevation the colder the temps were this weekend.

Still ,the weather in Monument was much better than the day before, so I set out, heading South to the Springs along the Santa Fe Trail.  I had mapped it out and it was right at 13.1 miles from 2nd St in Monument to Woodmen Rd in the Springs.

Aside from some lengthy snowy sections for the first 5 miles, followed by some slick muddy spots through the USAFA - it was a fairly uneventful run, yet very enjoyable, the sun even came out for a while, before clouding over for the last few miles.

I maintained an 8 min average the whole way, clocking a few ticks under 1 hr 45 minutes for the 13.1 miles.  Just 3 1/2 minutes slower than the 1/2 marathon race the week before.  Admittedly there was 782 feet elevation drop (the Garmin worked fine this time, as opposed to the day before), mixed in there was 94 feet of climbing - just enough to get my attention.

Called the family - who had been successful shoppers while I was running - and they picked me up.  A good day overall.  I would recommend the run for someone wanting to get 13+ miles in on the trails - with a mostly downhill direction, mixing in a few short hills.

I wouldn't be surprised if I look to do that again someday.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ww Ww Wwin n n nter Series Th th three race report

Trying to empasize in the post title that it was brisk baby out there this morning.  Approx 12 degrees, light snow and noticeable wind from the South.

Couple of failures for me today - 1) the watch died .2 miles into the race.  2) I lost my kid.

Started out mid pack (where it was warmest) w/ #12, started slowly - figuring beforehand today was unlikely to produce a fast time - we just wanted to run, be done, go home.

With the watch dying before we barely started I didn't know how fast / slow we were going - but knew it wasn't that quick.  The course had been plowed but footing still wasn't great.  With the wind and snow at our back the first 2 1/2 miles the conditions were not too bad - we ran mostly in the tracks left by the plow, wind was okay behind us - then we turned around.

Before the race started we had talked about how to run the way back into the wind.  I would go in front of him and he would tuck in as close behind me - shielding him as much from the wind as he drafted.  So, as we turned we put our heads down, passed a guy and then (I thought) he tucked in right behind me.  Turns out he didn't pass that guy at the turnaround.

We kept going South, I gradually picked up the pace and he (or someone) stayed right in behind me.  With about a mile to go to the finish - I had not looked behind me since we turned around - I glanced over my shoulder and asked how he was doing.  A muffled voice said something back to me - I didn't hear what he said - that wasn't the problem - it was not the voice of #12.

I immediately swung out off the track I was in and turned around - couldn't see #12 anywhere.  Oh crap, I lost him.  I ran backwards a few steps, looking through the snow, no sign of him.  Was he lying on the side of the track, frozen in his tracks?  Did he stop at the Search and Rescue bike a 1/2 mile back?  Did he stop at the turnaround point? 

I wish I could say I stopped and waited, or turned around and went back North to look for him.   I jogged backwards into the wind for 30 seconds or so, slowing and looking for him.  I finally saw him, a good distance back, head down, still moving forward, plugging along.  Good, he was okay.  Now, what do I do, go back and get him?

Dad of the Year?  Dad of the Decade?  Dad of the World?

Uh, no - my butt was cold and I just wanted to be done.  Seeing (and easily talking myself into) he was okay - relatively speaking  - I turned around, put my head back down and picked up the pace all the way to the finish.  Not sure how fast that last mile was but I passed a dozen or more people, went straight from the finish line to the hot chocolate table and grabbed one for #12 (and one for me) - got it just in time to meet him at the finish.

Beat him by a couple of minutes, of that I am not proud.  We jumped in the car and went to Safeway for Soup and therapy.  He was okay that I lost him - at least that is what he has told me since.  He is a snotty mess since though, is already in bed (before 7:30 pm) sleeping - the kid is exhausted.

He is in first place now in his age group (for the Series) though.  I guess that is a good thing.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Winter Series race in Winter!

Race #3 coming up this Saturday, due to last week / end storm that barely impacted the Springs - but did dump on Monument - trail conditions for Saturday will be "adventurous".

Picked up #12 after he finished school yesterday to check out the (Santa Fe) trail.  Parked at the North end of the course and went South 3/4 mile and back.  100% snow covered w/ depths varying from 2" to 4".  Not too bad, going South, but coming back (slightly uphill) North required a little more effort, got a decent sweat going.

Then we jumped in the car and drove South to the Start line.  Ran 1 mile up North and then back.  The first 1/4 mile snow varied from an inch to almost a foot deep :)  Then for the next 3/4 mile the trail was clear - so we didn't cover the whole course, but where we turned around it was covered again all the way up North.

So, we have had some sun today, supposed to get more tomorrow, but by Saturday there will definitely still be noticeable snow in play for the race.

Should be fun.  Hopefully the wind won't blow - but with the course nickname being "The Dreaded Windy Course" - doubt it.  Although yesterday winds were barely noticeable.

As for the mindset of the runners..... #12 was having fun yesterday and threatened to make snow angels during the race.  I recovered fine from the 1/2 last Sunday - so I should keep up with him on Saturday - if I am feeling frisky - may even start a snowball fight, probably not.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super 1/2 Marathon Race report

Brisk morning for a race - in the 20's, but the sun was shining and only a (very) slight breeze from the South.  With 3' snow drifts at my house it was nice to run on 99% snow free trails.

Going in to the race I was a mix of curious and hopeful of how I would do.  After the race I am okay w/ how I did, would have liked to have done better - but am accepting that with the arthritis in the knees limiting the ability to train well - the race was a good reflection of my current fitness level and therefore, ability.

I wanted to go out at a 7:30 pace for the first couple of miles, then see how things were from there - gradually increase if possible.  15:04 at mile 2, doing okay - no aches or niggles but also not feeling super strong.  Maintain.  Mile 4: 30:20.  By the end of mile 4 I knew there would be no 1:35 finish (pipe dream goal).

So, I just kept on going - gradually losing a second or more per mile pace as each mile went by.  At the turnaround point I was about 65th overall.  For the next 3 miles it was a mix of being passed by the occasional runner, me passing the occasional runner. 

W/ about 3 miles to go at the last aid station 2 ladies had eased up behind me, one of them being the eventual Masters winner.   I decided to try hang with them the rest of the way in - requiring more effort but I was able to keep within 20 feet of them both for the next 2 + miles.

W/ a half mile to go, I tried to push more and caught back up to them - all the while we were catching two other guys ahead who were dropping back to us.  It was a good thing they were there as the competitive juices in me used them as targets.  With about a 1/4 mile to go I passed the 2 ladies and bridged the gap to one of the guys.  That last few minutes was a blurr, definitely accentuated by a lack of oxygen to the brain - but I managed to pass by the one guy and squeeze in front of the other guy with about 10 feet to spare from the finish line.  Spent.

1:41:27 officially, 60th place overall (367 finishers), 9th out of 59 in the (40 - 49) age group.   As mentioned earlier - a good reflection of where I am at in my physical abilities as a runner.

What's next?  In the short term - some slightly aching quads but really not too bad.  Will take a couple of days of not running, maybe some stationary bike and / or eliptical work and then run w/ #12 the last 2 races of the Winter Distance Series.  I'll run when I can, sticking to the trails, enjoying where I live and make the most of each opportunity to run.

Here is a pic of yesterdays race - w/ about 1 1/2 miles to go.  Kind of sums up where I am at w/ running mentally - I'm the guy in the middle of the photo - a little out of focus - running to keep up, running to keep life in focus.  Eh, not really - the other photo I found of me running yesterday my eyes were closed, head down, looking like I was about to cry / pass out / or both.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Dreaded Windy Course

The Winter Series Race #3 has an appropriate nickname of "The Dreaded Windy Course", it is a wind tunnel, sometimes w/ wind from the North, other times from the South and occasionally from the West.  It's another out and back course w/ less than 200' of elevation gain.  With the wind usually blowing - it can be pleasant one way, miserable going the other.

I picked up #12 yesterday after school and hopped on over to the trail.  My knee was starting to swell and I would not have run if I was going by myself, but w/ the kid it was hopefully going to be helpful, for him and me.  As we continued on the knee loosened up so it was bearable.
Wind was from the South so we had it at our backs for the first half.  We took it easy the first mile, chatting up a plan for the race in a week and a half, goal is to do it in 40 minutes or less, 8 minute per mile pace or better.  Last year the wind was thankfully not a factor, however the course was covered in snow, deep in many spots.  He timed out at 41:15 ish.

So we are running to a pacing plan as a goal this time around.  Going to aim for 8 min pace the first half, turn around and see if we can keep that up or increase as we head for the finish and I am allowed to be vocal and keep him at that pace for the first 2 1/2 miles.

Back to yesterday - after an easy 1st mile we did the next in 8 minutes, eased off for the next 1/2 mile, turned around and were hit in the face w/ the wind.  No fun at all, in fact it was miserable.  Slogged for another 1/ mile then tried to push the pace - did a 1/2 at 8 min pace, recouped for the next 1/2 and then did it again.  Last 1/2 mile we were just wanting to be done, eased back home.
We think an 8 minute pace on race day is realistic - just hope the wind will have a day off that day (Feb 11th) - if that is the case then things should work out favorably.

Going back to the knee - I was okay w/ it swelling up - recent history will indicate by Saturday morning I should be good to run.  So today I will sign up for the Super Half on Sunday.  Training for that has not been optimal - but I am determined to run hard and see what happens. 
My PR for the half is 1:36 and change - on the Slacker Half marathon course a couple of years ago, a course which drops over 2200 feet - so I kind of consider that not a real legit PR.  I would like to beat that, but at a 7:20 average pace - may be a pipe dream.  I'm going to (try) to start out at a 7:30 pace and see what happens as things unfold.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January blew by

The obligatory statement that there was a bunch of wind last month - I don't like running (or doing much of anything) in the wind.

Finished up the month w/ a total of 122 1/2 miles, only ran 17 times, gained over 11 1/2 thousand feet elevation.

Some highlights were running w/ my oldest daughter on the Rescue Run on New Years Day, running the first  and second races of the Winter Distance Series w/ my Son - plus a few training runs with him also.  I made it up to Barr Camp again - have managed to do so every month since (and including) August (for the Ascent) of last year. 

Ran Waldo Canyon a couple of times - including last Thursday when I actually took 3 minutes off my best time there.  That was nice because I felt like I could have gone harder on the way back down - but held back to conserve the hammies.  The rest of the way around I managed to run just about all of it and a consistent pace.

On Sunday afternoon, while #12 was at Soccer Practice I ran through Bear Creek Park and then up Gold Camp road to just past the end of the paved section - a gradual climb of about 1300 feet that I had not run before.  I wouldn't mind going up further some other time and meeting up w/ High Road - of the Summer Roundup 12K course - coming back down that. 

Finished the month off yesterday afternoon trying something new in training for the Super Half Marathon coming up this Sunday.  I ran with my hydration backpack - that itself is nothing new as I often take it w/ me on 8+ milers.  But yesterday I filled it up w/ water and clothes - all totalling 7 extra pounds.  The goal is by Sunday, to run a few more times with the same added weight - then without it on Sunday I will feel lighter and therefore faster.  Will see how that goes.