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, May 30, 2012

Off Track / Track workout

Being a little shy of running laps in front of pre-teen girls (and their parents), which would likely have resulted in my daughter explaining to her friends that the old guy running around them for an hour was not a stalker - but just her Dad - resulted in me relocating to nearby Bear Creek Park, while kids soccer tryouts took place.

At the park is a community garden and a series of nice, wide, smooth trails that meander around near it - I picked the 1 1/4 mile loop, the flattest section - yet still has some nice slopes to keep me in check draggin my wagon at times.

Legs were still weary from Sundays 20 miler up Barr Trail on Pikes Peak.  So, started off w/ an easy mile warm up - then did a tempo mile that ended at the top of the most notable uphill stretch in 6:48.  Quite happy with that.  After a recovery mile I then set to work on 1/4 miles.

8 1/4's with a 1/4 mile recovery in between each rep.  Due to the slopes the times varied.  Fastest 1/4 was 1:25.  Slowest was 1:48.  Average was 1:35.

Finished w/ a mile cool down for a total of 8 miles (577 elevation gain).  Not sure how this would translate on a track, but pleased with the effort and okay with the results.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Weekend rollercoaster

Some highs & lows for the 3 day weekend which started early Friday afternoon when my wife called me with saddening news that her horse was really ill, showing signs of getting worse. 

By the time I got home the Vet had just left and the prognosis was worse case scenario.  There was a chance she would make it, but not too promising.  The horse ("Lady") is about 26 years old - getting up there, been with my wife for over 20 years, well before I came along.  So, naturally - she has a special place in my wife's life, filled with memories.

4 1/2 years ago, my wife's other horse ("Sundance") died - that one was even more special than Lady to my wife and unfortunately he passed away unexpectedly when we weren't even in the country.  That made it even more hard on my wife.

Friday night was a long one, my wife's best friend (whose horse we also have at our house on an extended visit), came over and they stayed out in the barn all night with Lady.  Fortunately they made it through the night and Lady has shown good signs of improvement since then, still not out of the woods - but looks to be okay for now.

The weekend honeydo list took a day off Saturday so I could let my wife sleep, while I hung out with the kids and we kept watch on the horse.  Several things needed to happen - according to the Vet - that would show signs that Lady was improving.  She needed to drink, to start to eat (on a limited basis of once every hour for 5 minutes at a time), and she needed to poop.

Eating was the first thing she started to do, finally by the afternoon she was interested in drinking fluids and then at the end of the day we were never more excited over seeing a pile of crap.  My wife even decided that she would not need to spend another night in the barn - but she still got up several times during the night to check on the horses, to feed them and make sure they were okay - which they were.

Sunday started early - got up at 4:30 as my wife was just coming back inside after checking on the horse.  I drove into Manitou Springs for a Barr Trail run.  Was tired, but ready for a long run.
The Pikes Peak Marathon course (from their website)
Left the Start line of the PPM course at 5:35 am and 2:51 later, climbing up over 5600', I made it up to the A-Frame shelter just below treeline.  I was able to run all the way to past Barr Camp and thought I did quite good between there and A-Frame.

On a positive note - I did the same thing about 7 weeks ago, Sundays run up to A-Frame was about 23 minutes faster than that last effort. 

I was pleased with that - however it still shows I have some much needed work to do - as the time to A-Frame tracks to a 4 hour Summit and a 6:30 overall marathon time.  I am really wanting to be (much) quicker than that.  The good thing is that there is still 80 days away till race day.  Lots more time to get in some much needed training.

Took a nice dive on the way down, (no damage), despite running out of food (but not water as I had 40 ounces in the Camelback at start), I was able to maintain a sub 9 min pace the whole way back and finished for a total time of 4:19 for the 20 miles and total time was about 37 minutes faster than 7 weeks ago.

Got home in time for a brief rest and get cleaned up for a wedding that afternoon.  I am clearly the "unpretty" one in my family.  My son is a handsome dude, but these 2 are going to cause my wife and I grief I'm afraid.

Monday - an improved horse, we all slept in, a good dent in the honeydo list (complete w/ some aching quads), some grilling and a nice way to end the weekend - Apple Pie and Ice-Cream.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On a new track

Did some track work yesterday - I have run on a track probably less than a dozen times in my life.  I much prefer running off track / on trails - but are going to add it in to my mix to try generate some speed - at least going into the Slacker Half Marathon in 4 1/2 weeks.

Track running in my mind is similar to Treadmill running or mice running in those silly wheels.

I'm a little clueless admittedly - to the point where I wasn't exactly sure if 1600 meters is longer than a mile - but know that a lap is 400 meters, therefore 4 laps = 1600 meters, close to a mile and that is probably a good distance to work on, along with other less distances / fewer laps.

So, armed with not enough water (what's new), a decent case of cranky arthritis in the knees flaring up, and did I mention it was 88 degrees - I set off.

4 laps warm up then 4 laps pushing the pace - for a time of 6:28.  Not quite Olympic standards.  In fact - I think that is probably considered awful - that's how I felt after it, along with not being able to see straight.

Didn't stop there.  Did 4 very slow recovery laps, then picked up the pace again for 3 more laps.  Just to show how ridiculous this was - my average pace was 15 seconds slower for those 3 laps then the 4 lapper. 

I was a little parched / wobbly / bout ready to pass out - but pressed on and did 3 laps very slow to try to recover.  Did I mention that it was 88 degrees out?  Phew.

Next up: a 2 lapper, that's 800 meters, 1 lap less than before - surely I can do that at a quicker pace than the 3 or 4 lappers.  Answer: no.  Same pace as the 3 lapper - and I only managed to get it "down" to that pace with an all out, tongue failing sprint for the last 50 feet or so.

Wow, was I spent - I finished off the last of my water - little help that was - and stumbled / shuffled around the track 2 more times. 

I wasn't done yet - still had some suffering planned and next up was a 1 lapper.  With a bit of a second wind, my time for that 400 was 1:30 - much improved on the previous pace averages.  Just for fun - lets compare that with the World Record..

I think that makes me over twice as slow as the World Record. 

Almost done, after another easy lap, much of it walking, I did 1/2 lap at "all that was left" pace, followed by another of the same distance and effort. Finally finishing it all off with 2 different attempts at 100 meters - with some recoveries in between.

My 200's were 42 seconds and 40 seconds.
My 100's were 17 seconds and then 18 seconds.

Now I know that is about as interesting to most people as watching paint dry - likely slower than that.  But my point is - I am not fast at all and I have a lot of work to do if I want to get faster.

Or I might just quit and stick to running on trails and in the shade.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mt Herman Run

"Herminated" - (noun) - to run around in the fog on Mt Herman. 
"Herminating" - (verb) - to run around in the fog on Mt Herman, with a few "technical" spots.
"Hermination" - (adjective) - to run around in the fog on Mt Herman with Steve for 13 1/2 miles over a bunch of technical terrain, going past an active shooting range, climbing well over 2000 feet - and finishing feeling like a good run was achieved.

I'm not that skilled with grammer - so I'm not sure if the Herman___ words are nouns, verbs, adjectives or even words - but they aptly described our Saturday morning run. 

Was the second weekend in a row to run with Steve, second weekend also to run in fog / mist - which is a bit rare in Colorado.
Mt Herman - under a blanket of fog
Temps were in the mid 40's, the sun broke through the fog and low clouds several times, but there was much more clouds and fog than sun, with a bit of an occasional breeze from the North - ideal running conditions.  Steve lead the way as I had not run these trails before.

Being unfamiliar with the trails and how much climbing to expect - I wasn't pushing as hard as Steve as we meandered our way up and to the South.  One thing became fairly evident - a lot of rocks, good size step ups and around, so really had to concentrate on where to place the feet.

As the sun peeked through at times we could look across to the East and make out the town of Monument and Black Forest to the East of that.  Because we were mostly headed SW we could see the Air Force Academy also - catching a glimpse of the Chapel on one occasion.

After about 5 3/4 miles - the last mile of which was a good bit of climbing in which I resorted to my "barely call it a run but if I was to walk then I would be even slower" running style - we made it to Mt Herman road.  Briefly stopping for a fuel break - we saw a couple of signs.....
"No Shooting" sign - with approx 20 bullet holes in it
I had carried my Camelbak - was prepared for the weather with an extra jacket, knit hat, gloves - but Steve had not told me I needed to bring a bullet proof vest and helmet.   He assured me that the range where we were hearing gunfire was "another ridge over", so off we went with another 1/2 mile of noticeable climbing and a few turns that I'm sure took us closer to the gunfire.  I was running and ducking at the same time.

As we began our descent into Limbaugh Canyon, thankfully being able to pick up our pace, a wonderful ricochet from the gun range spurred us on even quicker.  As the gunfire noises became more distant we were behind Mt herman and cruising along the single track in the meadows, involving some nice creek crossings, much smoother trails.  Was really pretty and unfortunately I didn't get any photos of that stretch.

About 9 1/2 miles in we came to what Steve informed me was called "Inspiration Point" - this was when the fog had just started rolling back in from the North.  Another quick break to eat and take some photos before we moved on.
Palmer Lake in the fog in the distance (about 11 o'clock)
By this time we had been going almost 2 hours, after a little more climbing we did the gradual descent back to the trailhead.  I was glad Steve had been on these trails before - I could have only guessed the way back and with my luck - found the shooting range again.  
Nice little pond / rock outcrop about a mile from the end of the run
But we made it, going nowhere near the gunfire, on much smoother trails and almost all downhill, in a slightly misting rain as we were finishing - certainly a run I would do again - would definitely be nice to avoid gunfire next time and now that I know what to expect as far as the rock hopping terrain especially for the first half - would be able to enjoy it even more.  It was definitely a good run.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Greenland Trail - Jog in the Fog

Sunday morning was yet another attempt to get a (8 mile) lap under 60 minutes, likely the last go at it till next year.

The Happy Trails Crew were there to witness the suffering.  Kathleen started off before us, then in the thick fog and a slight breeze from the West - which later switched to come from the North - Steve and I set off.

At the 5 mile / high point of the loop - I was in good shape as far as time went, 40:15 - I believe that is the quickest I had made it to there.  We passed Kathleen there and with 3 miles to go and it mostly downhill - 60 minutes for a finish time was out of reach - but 61 minutes looked doable.

Earlier in the week on Tuesday I had set my PR of 61:19 - doing the last 3 miles in 20:48.  Yesterday - I thought I was pushing it but ended up being about a 1/2 minute slower.  Finish time was 61:32.  Missed a new PR but still beat the race day time.

Oh well.  I'm okay with the effort and the results from the past 3 attempts (in the past 8 days).  To run the same course and finish within 70 seconds is a consistent result that I will take.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Running Lost in Open space(s)

Trail running is fun and adventurous, takes us to places near and far, sometimes new and unfamiliar, other times takes us back to where we "find that happy place".  Living in Colorado allows runners, hikers, walkers, bikers and those who just want to get outside and enjoy the sights and scenes - a seemingly endless amount of trails and places to run.

I'm a bit of a creature of habit, sort of settle for comfort in my surroundings and do what I am familiar with - when it comes to running, but also with other things as well.

For running on trails - I like to run where I am familiar with the trail, so I know what to expect, how long it is from point "a" to point "b" etc.  As a result - despite living near so many different trails and places to run, I stick to just a few.

Those are (in no particular order): Barr Trail, Waldo Canyon, Santa Fe Trail, Greenland Trail, Spruce Mountain - these are the places I run most often.  There's a few other places and trails I occasionally go to - but not many.

This week, in a truly adventurous attempt at, gasp, trying something new - I ran on 2 different trails that I have not been on before.

Wednesday - Stratton Open Space is near where my firstborn has soccer practice.  Unfortunately I forgot to bring my Garmin to keep track of how long and where I went.  I did print the map out and carried it with me - so I sort of knew where I wanted to go.  Parking at the trailhead at Cheyenne Mtn High school there was a map also - was a little different than the one I had printed out.  The online map seemed less complete than the trailhead map.  No big deal as there seems like a lot of trails are not on any map.

I set off, did carry my phone with me so I would at least be able to keep track of time.  In the little bit of online research I did, I learnt that the area was popular w/ Mtn Bikers and Dog walkers, I also learnt that the "locals" called the area "SOS", which was fitting - cause I have no idea where I went, how far I went to go where I didn't know where I was, or what trails I was on during the hour I was on the trails. 

But it was fun, kind of nice to just go for a run on a trail to see where it went, take some twists, some turns, some uphills, some downhills, at no great pace and with no great purpose.  Saw a lot of bikers, some runners, some walkers, plenty of dogs, made it up to Gold Camp Rd, ran past a couple of reservoirs.  Ran for an hour, guessing somewhere between 5 to 7 miles.  If I go back there I may be able to retrace my steps to track the distance - but don't really feel the need to.  A nice run, a little crowded in places.

Thursday - during another kids soccer practice - parked at Black Forest Regional Park where I have run several times before - and meandered around the trails there and found where they joined into the Cathedral Pines trails.  I have not run in there before.

Did a 4.6 mile loop of Cathedral Pines which is a nice double track trail that has some rollers, some good views of Pikes Peak and the Front Range and also goes through a lot of pines - it is after all, Black Forest.  The trail is nice to run on, it is a little sandy in a few places. 

It does cross over a few roads - unfortunately the road crossings are not well marked in places and the trail does not start up directly on the other side of the road - so, at a couple of the road crossings I did make a few wrong turns trying to find the trail, but eventually figured out my error, turned around and then found the trail again.  There are signs on the trail, at the intersections of other trails that cut through the neighborhood - however, on the main loop, the connectors crossing the roads are not easily identified.

One thing about the trail - it is not well used.  On the 4.6 mile loop (called Pikes Peak Loop) I only came across 1 other person (Mtn Biker) and 1 wild Poodle. Okay so the Poodle wasn't wild - he just came out from one of the houses to say hi.

7.3 miles on the day and 650 feet elevation gain - could have made it shorter or longer depending on which set of trails through Black Forest Park to get to Cathedral Pines.  Was definitely a nice run, one that could get added to the short list.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Greenland Trail redemption run

Nothing like peaking at the right time for a race - 3 days after the race took place.  After Saturday's (8 mile) race I was left with asking myself "what if".  I had not run well as I wanted to and therefore had not achieved the time that I thought and hoped I could pull off.

Late yesterday I got some answers to the "what if's".

"If" it wasn't so warm, "if" I had carried water and "if" I had run smarter - meaning not so fast at the start - what time could I do?

Yesterday it was about 10 degrees cooler than race day, I carried a water bottle and didn't go out quite so fast. 

Comparing splits from race day to yesterday:
- at Kipps Loop, 3 1/3 miles into the course, the turn off to do the climb up the saddle - yesterday was within 5 seconds of race day.
- at the top of the saddle, the 5 mile mark - was 12 seconds faster than race day.
- race day finish time = 1:02:23
- yesterday's finish time = 1:01:19
= 64 second PR

So, the lesson learned is really one of hydration I think.  Race day with 3 miles to go I was cooked and hanging on fumes to finish.  Yesterday, felt much better and it showed by busting out the last 3 miles noticeably quicker than race day.  Plus, after I finished yesterday - although feeling quite worked, I recovered really quickly.

It was not the 1 hour goal time I have been aiming for - that may not ever happen.  I might give it one more shot this weekend, or might just be happy and call it good until next year.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Greenland Trail race report

This could be titled (Running in an Easy Bake oven).  I'd been focusing on this race for months - had it all planned out.  Thought I was ready.  I knew the course.  I (thought) I knew what I was capable of.  I had an "A" goal.  Didn't have a "B" goal or any other goal.  1 hour was the target.  I had my goal splits memorized, knew exactly where I wanted to be on the course at what time.

I was hoping to finish the race and be happy with "how I ran" - not caring "how I placed".   Instead - I was asking "what if?"

What if the temparature didn't really get so hot?  In the 100% exposed to the sun trails with only a very slight breeze - temps were pushing 70 by the time the race was over.

What if I had got more water at the 1 and only aid station?  Barely 1/2 a cup there was clearly not enough.  If I had carried even a small water bottle that would have helped me out.  Instead I have never ran so dehydrated in my life.  Knowing what fluids I drank after the race, along with food (I forced myself to eat and drink a lot to try recover) - when I got home I was still 4 pounds lighter than I was before the start.

What if I didn't start off so fast?  I have no business running sub 7 miles, especially on rolling terrain, that I have no hope of maintaining.  Yet about 1/3rd of a mile in I look and see my avg pace is 6:42?  I almost yelled out loud to myself how much of an idiot I was.

I did back off the pace, but still not enough - instead jumping in behind 3 others, I convinced myself that I was drafting and it would save some energy.  It may or may not have helped some.  At 2.75 miles in, at the top of the first noticeable climb I moved passed them all so I could try to stick with a goal pace (was wanting 7:40) there. 

At Kipps Loop, 3 1/3 miles in, the only water station I had got the time avg down to 7:35.  Entering the water station I asked for 2 cups.   The wonderful volunteers obviously misheard my New Zealand accent, combined with heat suffering, slurred speach - and they heard something like "put 2 cups in 1 hand, then tip out half of one and all of the other".   It didn't play out like that, I just didn't slow down enough to grab enough water, was all my fault - the volunteers at this and most races are fantastic to give freely of their own time and I truly do thank them.

In any case - I got 1/2 a cup, probably 2 or 3 ounces of water.  My fault for not slowing down, not carrying any water w/ me.   I cooked myself.

So, a recap so far - too hot, too fast, too dehydrated.  Too bad I then had to go up the saddle.  I was down.  A 1/4 mile into the climb I knew I was cooked, both figuratively and literally.  I was in survival mode.  Surprisingly no-one passed me until just before the top of the saddle.  Was 1 of the 3 guys that I had tucked in behind just after the hot start.

By the time I crested the high point, w/ 3 miles to go, several thoughts had been baking in my head.  1) - try to stay with that guy ahead.  2) - if I lie down and die, it will be okay.

I pressed on - but I was hurting, incredibly thirsty, struggling to breathe and even see clearly due to my overheated self.   I had been looking over my shoulder on the climb.  My son was behind me the whole way, gaining on me as the climbing continued.  I don't think he was ever more than a minute behind throughout the whole race - but he was pushing me forward.  I'm not ready for him to beat me yet, it's coming - but it wasn't happening on this day.  At the start we lined up together and I told him what I usually always do "don't race me, race your own race".

As I managed to gain some steam on the next downhill stretch - catching up to and tucking in behind the guy who had passed me on the final stretch of climb - I had 2 new goals, try to beat my son, try to beat the guy I was just behind.  I didn't know if I could do either.

I'm not going to search much for photos taken during the last 3 miles of the race - I was a mess.  I could feel the white, salty, crust completely encasing my lips.  Felt awful and no doubt looked ridiculous, probably looked like a circus clown.  Needless to say - I was parched.

For the next 2 miles where there was a few rollers, the guy I was with pulled away on the climbs, I closed the gap on the downhills.  Finally on the last downhill section I caught back up, we joined on the track where the 50K and 25k runners were going back out.  .9 miles to go and it felt like my eyes were doing some sort of reverse cross-eyed thing.  I glanced behind me and knew if maintained my pace I could hold off my son.

3/4 mile to go and I decided if I didn't stop running soon I would self combust - so instead of slowing down, I decided to try and get it over with.  So, I found another gear, a faster one.  Going past the guy he said "well played" - I guess it seemed like I had raced him well - saving a good kick to the end.  I mumbled: "famks, juss tryna fish" - translation for those unable to interpret "why thank you, I outraced you and now you will pay for my superior racing talent" "thanks, just trying to finish".

I pushed on, full survival mode, suffering and finally crossed the line.  Chip time was 1:02:23.  12 second PR.  16th place overall (377 finishers).  My son came in 29 seconds later for 19th overall.  That kid is awesome - He took just over a minute off his best time, won his age group and then later that afternoon played a soccer game.  Am I bragging about him?  You better believe it.  Next year will be an upset if I beat him.

There were some "what if's?" - I know I coulda, woulda, shoulda done better.  But what if my son didn't stay so close behind me?  In reality he pushed me to finish.

Then what if the winner of the race, Andy Ames, didn't win but came in 2nd or later?  But he did win, he is in my age group, so by him winning that allowed me to win the 3rd place prize for my age group.  A bonus for sure - really helped ease my baked mind and body.

Post race - sat down for about 5 minutes trying to get rehydrated and trying to see straight.  Finally got some sea legs under me and started back up the trail to wait for my wife to finish.  Didn't have to wait too long, she also PR'd, so a good day for the Knuckledragging clan. 

While waiting I recognized Kathleen of the Happy Trails Crew and introduced myself.   Steve came in just over 2 hours for a new PR (on the 25K) course.  Very exciting for him.  Got to spend a few minutes chatting with them, reliving the race and planning on some future trail runs - was great to finally meet them.

And now it is Monday - I wake up and it is snowing at my house.  What if we had that weather on race day?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday Tue Doodlings

Warning: The author of this blog has been caught playing with numbers and hereby advises any and all readers of this post there is math involved.  A quiz will be asked at the end.

Not sure if it is an old farmers saying or old wives tale - referencing "April Showers bring May Flowers".  But with the year 1/3rd over already and Spring doing it's springing thing - April was a good month running for me for the most part.  I'm hoping May will show the results.

* April: 17 runs, 170 miles, just over 20,000' vertical gain.  (2nd month in a row over 20K vert).

Comparing this year so far to last year 1/1/11 thru 4/30/11 - I have totalled 17 less miles this year than last - however I have run 8 less times than last year, so this year my average run is a longer distance.  However, the big difference is this year to date I have clocked almost 63,000 vertical gain - compared to last year at this time only 26,500. 

What those numbers tell me is that I have done better than last year.  Duh.  What they don't say is what I will say - I also feel better, I think.   I think I am healthier than I have been in who knows how long, definitely lighter, with less around the belly.  However I maybe a little more senile as well.

In doing some more vertical work I think the result has definitely made me feel stronger.  Also a more focused effort of core work - stretching and exercising routines on the midsection - 4 to 5 times a week for 30+ minutes a time - has profited me also.

I hope the payoff for a good first 4 months of the year will be this Saturday's Greenland Trail 8 miler - which is now full.  420 people registered, over 100 more than finished last year.  I'm expecting a good time for myself - which may result in a good result.  Trying not to focus on the (placing) result though - instead the journey itself.

And now for the math quiz.  I warned you.  Here is the link for who has signed up to run the 8 mile (1 lap) race.  Do some clicking and you will see that the 3rd oldest runner entered in this years 1 lap race, ran the race last year in a time that the top 2 runners in the 25K race (2 laps) ran a faster overall time to beat his overall time.   But he was not in last place, so congrats to him for despite being one of the oldest runners on race day, he was not the slowest.  (Hint: that has little to do with the question).

The winner of the 2 lap race had a winning time better than 42 people who finished the 1 lap. 

So, the question is:
How many people this Saturday will run 1 lap slower than those doing 2 laps?
a) 1 - 20
b) 21 - 40
c) 41 - 60
d) Mr Knuckledragging runner has spent waaaaay to much time obsessing over who is running the race(s) and instead should just be concerned about his own flippin race.

ps - my answer is "d".