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.

Monday, July 30, 2012

PP Marathon training - the long run

When I was a kid - I wanted to be a firefighter when I grew up.  I thought they were awesome.  I'm a grown up now, I am not a firefighter - but I still think they are awesome.  Not just because they are true hero's, with selfless acts of courage and sacrifice, but because they have fire stations.

I ran past one on Saturday and was sooooo grateful it was there.

Backing up a bit to what got me there...... I met Steve (Happy Trails) for my weekly long run.  We were both being a little ambitious as the goal was 26 miles.  For Steve - his longest run ever, for me - my longest run in well over a year.

I have spent more time this past Summer on training runs on Pikes Peak (Barr Trail) - but longest distance has been 20 miles a couple of times.   With the Pikes Peak marathon now less than 3 weeks away, the week before and this week to come marks my heaviest training block.

As we started Steve let me set the pace as I wanted us to go out slow and ultimately survive a long day.  Plus, I figured it would be a good fitness test to see how I felt during and in the days following the run.  11 minute mile average seems slow and it likely is for most people - but I figured that it seemed reasonable as the 13 mile loop has over 1500' of climbing in it.  Plus, as mentioned - I need this upcoming week to be runnable.

We got started going clockwise and it was nice to go out relaxed as the chatting was easy, at one stage a few miles in I looked at the watch and we were averaging 9:20.  Backing off a bit we continued on.   I didn't carry my camera with me so for photos - check out Steve's post and photos on the day.

About halfway through the first lap I looked and learned that I hadn't put any food in the Camelbak either - water it was, fortunately I had plenty of that.  We finished those first 13 miles just under 2 hours, 14 minutes - a 10:18 average per mile which was faster than planned but we were feeling good and not too worked.

A brief stop at our cars to empty shoes, a look closer in the bag and actually found the food that I put in there and we set off this time in the opposite direction.  By this time temps were mid 80's.  Fortunately there was a steady breeze that kept the oppressive nature of the heat down for much of the run.  Aside from a few places where the topography blocked the wind and exposed us to full sun.

About a mile into lap 2 began a lengthy, mostly gradual climb, but lengthy, with some shaded areas, but lengthy, with most of the slog in the open sun, still lengthy, "when is this going to end" monotony, lengthy journey that took about 3 miles and really sapped out the energy.

Over the next 3 or so miles we had some relief in down sections, but for the most part we climbed, while the heat rose and seemingly the breeze wasn't as favorable.  As we neared the high point and half way around the loop we easily agreed upon the need to stop for a quick breather.  As we rested I began to realize I was almost out of water.

The plan was to try go another 3 miles to a Burger King (just off the trail) and stop in there for water.  Fortunately most of the trail was downhill and we even crossed a creek which allowed us to splash some relief.  As we were nearing the BK, Steve had reminded me that we had a decent climb to encounter before we got there.  I was out of water, he was too - but then it happened.

The Superhero's were having a party and we were invited.  Okay, so it was a fire station having a community open house (which included fantastic smells of BBQ).  They graciously allowed us to stumble inside and take whatever we liked from their fridge fill up our water bottles.  That few minutes out of the heat, in air conditioning and rehydrating was awesome.

We still had 3 1/2 miles to go which included that hill I had tried to forget about - but I was refreshed and managed to maintain good forward progress up it.  As we crested the top, with about 3 miles to go I did some rough math and figured I had a shot of going under 4 1/2 hours for the full 26 - but it would require sub 9 minute pace. 

A runner appeared in front of us and he was moving a little faster than we had been, but only slightly - so I picked up my pace, which I think made him pick up his pace also.

For the next 3 miles I followed, but never caught him, but also never lost him.  He was a good motivator to keep me moving.  Unfortunately I gapped Steve, later learning that he took a (mostly harmless) spill - I saw him once on a switchback and yelled I was trying to go back to the fire station for BBQ go under 4 1/2 hours.

That stretch of trail wasn't flat and was a struggle on the uphills, finally making it back to the parking lot and within a few ticks of 4 hours, 30 minutes.  Lap 2 was just over 2 minutes slower (moving time) than lap 1.  Quite happy with that and doing +/- 9 minute miles for the last 3 miles - the terrain and elevation change was a good challenge that my body seemed to handle.

2 days now since the run and the results are favorable.  I have recovered well, taking Sunday and today off from running to let the body rest and recover fully - I honestly could have run each of these days, but won't as I want the rest of this week to be full of effort, leading into another final long run on Saturday before tapering.

I'm getting excited about race day.  I'm happy with my fitness.  I have no idea really how I will do on race day.  But, I'm thinking that I should be fairly well prepared.  I'm also enjoying the training - suffering at times, but thinking it should pay off.

 A couple of Steve's photo's during the run.....

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pikes Peak - 3 key training runs

Call me inspired, motivated, scared or whatever - but after seeing Simon, Matt, Ryan and other top locals putting forth stellar training runs last weekend - they were working hard and moving uphill so strongly.  It caused me to consider how hard I have been working in training / how hard will I work on race day?

Answer: ain't been working hard enough which means unless I get working harder now then on race day I likely won't work hard enough.

With 3 weeks to go, I'm thinking this is the key time to get the most work in.  I built myself a training schedule a few months back - tweeked it a bit this week to up the work / effort load.

Tuesday: Based on The Incline Club workout - I started at Memorial Park (PPM start line) in Manitou and did a warm up jog up Ruxton to Hydro Street (approx 1.25 miles).  Then continuing along the course I went 1 minute full effort, followed by 1 minute recovery (walk and try to breathe) - then repeated for a total of 20 times (40 minutes).

Wow, soooo tough.  It certainly doesn't help that the first repeat is on the steepest stretch of the whole course.  Plus, it doesn't get much easier after that for a while.  Made it further than I thought I would, but not as far as I was hoping - ending up just below the Balanced Rock.  Took it easy back down, total of 8 miles and 2290' elevation gain.  I should have been doing this run in the past few months.  Will do it again next week.

Wednesday: Tempo / ladder run.  Was initially thinking this should be a moderately easy day.  But decided I needed to stretch the legs.  Ran on the Santa Fe Trail through the Air Force Academy (From Woodmen Rd, North 4 miles and back).  This is a good stretch of trail with some noticeable rollers to keep the focus.  1 mile warm up, 2 miles at 8 min avg, 2 miles at 7:30 avg, 2 miles at 7 avg - then a mile cool down.

Thursday:  High Altitude training.  Drove up to Pikes Peak Summit.  Ran down 3 miles (to A-Frame) at 9:30 avg pace, then back up 2 miles.  As I started back up I initially struggled to get into a good breathing routine - but settled in eventually and managed to keep plugging forward.  I tailed off towards the end of those 2 miles but still averaged 16:45 pace.  I then turned and went back down a mile (9:15).  Left with 2 miles to get back up to the Summit I was by this stage suffering. 

Mentally though I was yelling at myself saying that I need to put in the effort.  Result was a mixed bag - next mile was 18 minutes, last mile was just over 20.  Was hoping for better, although if I can pull those on race day it will be good.  8 miles on the day and over 2700' elevation gain.

Rest day today and then a long, long run on Saturday.  I'm questioning that I haven't trained hard enough, could do with another month, but grateful that with 3 weeks to go I can still get some (harder) work in.  Will this week help by the time we get to race day?  I don't know, but it hurts a little more than previous weeks.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pikes Peak Ascent / Marathon prize increase

While not reflected on the race website yet - a significant increase in awards was announced at this morning's press conference (I was in the neighborhood and curious).

1st place (for male and female) Marathon = $3000
1st place (for male and female) Ascent = $2000

New prize awards for Ascent course records = $2000
New prize awards for Marathon course records = $2000 ($4K total if they break the Ascent CR also, while doing the Marathon

What was described as the "Ascent Bounty": $5000 to whomever (Male) breaks 2 hours, (female) breaks 2:32.

They announced the potential prize purse is $54,000 and guaranteed prize purse equals $22,000.

Potentially, the winner of the Marathon could win $14,000.  (I missed the math breakdown of that part while I was trying to figure out how to shave 1 hr and 50 something minutes of my last year Ascent time to get under 2 hours - sigh, that's not happening).
(Full disclaimer - I'm not in the Media at all - but local TV and other news outlets were there - once they get their report(s) up, I'll link them here.....)
Colorado Springs Gazette story (updated)
Pikes Peak Sports web story

Should likely attract some speedy runners in the years to come, beginning this year with these on the competitive entry list and past winners who have yet to commit - but still can before August 11th.

Monday, July 23, 2012

PP Marathon - defending champion is racing

Just my hunch, but when I saw Matt Carpenter near the Summit yesterday - he was not out for a Sunday morning stroll.  More on that later in the post.

With less than 4 weeks now till race day weekend, it's crunch time for training.  Not just for me, but for all involved.  So, Barr Trail was loaded with people yesterday - I recognized quite a few of the elite local athletes hard at work.

Saturday I ran the local "Classic 10K" race - setting a new PR (of 43:20).  While I am very pleased with that, I know that with specific training for that I could do better.  That's not my focus right now.  However, looking at the results of that race - there was a lot of speedy people - had to run sub 7 minute miles to get 140th place.

After attending an outdoor wedding Saturday afternoon and getting drained by the heat, I went into yesterdays run tired and lacking energy.  But I need the high altitude and Barr Trail familiarity - especially up top.  So, I drove up to the Summit.  The goal was run down 6 miles, then come back up.

The highlight of my run was not in any way what I suffered through and was able to do - which in itself was good for me and hopefully will pay off - but it was who I saw on the trail and the work / effort they were putting into it.  Several elites I definitely recognized - others I saw I could just tell they were good and surely will be near the front on race day(s).

About 1 1/2 miles on my way down - the only runner that passed me (the same way I was at the time going) that day came cruising by.  Not sure who he was, I saw him later on his way back up, just above Barr Camp - might have been Sage Canaday, but I'm not 100% sure. 

I wanted to get down the 6 miles at about a 10 min per mile average - so as to a) not trash the quads, b) see if I actually could, c) not fall like last weekend.  Answer: success to all 3.

Just over 2 miles down the trail was when it got really interesting.  Simon Gutierrez was cruising up - impressive to see and almost unfathomable to realize how fast he was going, until no more than 2 minutes later Matt Carpenter went cruising up the trail - almost effortlessly. 

I'd be really curious to know how the rest of those 2 guys runs played out.  If Matt caught Simon, if Simon had just passed Matt.  If they even knew they were both on the trail.  Above tree line you can see a lot of the trail - I'm guessing they were very aware of each other there.  It was very interesting to see them putting such a good effort into it.

As of now, Matt is not on the Competitive entry list.  But I'm convinced that it is only a matter of time, plus, with him being in the race - I'm looking forward to seeing the marathon field in action on race day.  It's going to be tough to not just stop and watch the action instead of focusing on what I need to be doing - that is: me still going up while they are flying down.  The other thing I'm curious to see is when GZ updates his prediction list, or posts a poll as to who can guess what race number Matt Carpenter will wear.

Back to my insignificant run..... As I got below tree line the next 2 other speedy locals of note I saw were Peter Maksimow (in full, woolly beard - very impressive and hard to miss) and a little later, my pick to win the Ascent, Ryan Hafer.  Literally dozens of other speedy people out there too - men and women, masters and young guns - all putting in great work.  As mentioned: inspiring and yes I am jealous of many of them.

So, down 6 miles I eventually arrived - went down to the "1/2 mile to Barr Camp" sign, stopped for a moment to empty the shoes and eat.  As (somewhat) easy as it was to come down, the complete opposite went into effect as I tried to go up.  I eventually made it, not a spectacular or even impressive showing at all - I'm attributing it to being a little weary from the race and the heat exposure the day before.  I hope to do better on race day (in both directions).

A 3 hour round trip (1 down, 2 up).  By the time I got back up to the Summit, I was starving - donuts seemed right, so a couple went down nice and quick.  While enjoying those I think the altitude got to me and I decided to get a little more suffering in.  So, I went back down the trail another mile and back.  Figuring I was already there, that it takes time and money to get to the Summit and I need all the training I can get.

Surprisingly - I didn't leave any dna samples on those 2 miles.  But coming back up, especially those 16 not so "Golden Stairs" - I was hurting and seriously considering what benefit I was trying to achieve and tacking on 2 more miles - that ended up taking 35 minutes.

All said and done - it was a good day of training and people watching - with close to 5000 feet of elevation gain and 3 1/2 miles on the race course.  Getting excited about race day - but recognizing for sure that I have much more work to do.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

PP Marathon Training - Summit 6 miles

Drove up to and parked at the Summit, arrived shortly after noon to a Thunder / Snow shower.  Waited a few minutes and went down to A-Frame (approx 3 miles).  Was a bit slickery, especially up top.  But, it emphasized 2 things to me.  1) Run the parts you can and should run, walk the parts that you should walk.  If you do that, then 2) you shouldn't fall over.

30 minutes down to A-Frame.  By this time it was quite sunny so I shed my jacket, took a quick breather and went back up.  Managed to maintain a decent pace.  Running as much as I could and walking the rest, but overall ran (albeit slowly) much more than I walked.

55 1/2 minutes back up to the Summit.  I think that is one of my better times.  I know any time under an hour for me is really good and I will be happy w/ that on race day.

After Saturday's tumble - when according to my Garmin (if I am looking at it right) I was going sub 7 min mile pace when I crashed - I am really grateful it seems as though nothing structural went wonky.  Just a flesh wound.  (Okay, maybe a 1/2 dozen flesh wounds).

Monday, July 16, 2012

PP Marathon Training - A Frame

This past weekend was 5 weeks till race day weekend.  So, training has been needs to have been in full swing.  Things were going good according to plan the Saturday before was a great hike to the Summit and back with my son.  The 8+ hours, 25 miles of hiking and climbing over 7000 feet did take a toll on me, so I took the next day off. 

Woke up Monday morning and was wandering around the house for a while getting going with my day - bent over to pick up something and my (lower) back went out.

Don't know why or how it went out - but it hurt like crazy - to the point that I was short of breath and of course couldn't hardly stand up.  A trip to the Chiropractor helped the back into place a bit, he recommended that I take more calcium (he calls it Nature's "muscle relaxer") - to help with the pain in the lower back muscles.  Wednesday I saw the Chiro again and it also improved some more.  Gradually over the next few days the pain got less.  I gutted out a couple of slow runs during the week.  Continued to do lots of back stretching and by Friday I could stand up straight and take full breaths without hurting.

With that - I was ready to go again, so I met up with Steve (Happy Trails) at 6am in Manitou Springs to run up a good chunk of the Barr Trail / Marathon and Ascent course.  The plan was to watch Steve suffer as payback for prior runs near gun shooting ranges run with Steve at least up to Barr camp, assess the situation and probably go on to A Frame.
I'm quite familiar with the trail up to Barr Camp, but really need to get more familiar with the 2 1/2 miles from there to A-Frame.  So, we took it easy (sort of) and got going.  It was good to run again w/ Steve as our last run was before the Waldo Canyon Fire, (he and his wife Kathleen were evacuated for several days but fortunately their house was spared).  So, as the day started and we got rolling we had plenty to talk about.

I didn't take a camera with me, did carry a handheld water bottle - trying to figure out if it would hurt or hinder on race day.  More on that later.  Steve did take his camera and writes a great post  (click on his link above in this post) on our run along with thoughts on the Waldo Canyon fire and impact.
Early on in the W's - notice my nice clean shirt, more on that later too....
Fortunately my back wasn't complaining as we began the tough early stretch up Ruxton, through the W's and beyond.  Steve lead early and then let me pass soon after to set the pace.  Lots of people already on the trail - much more than the past weekend.
We made good time up to Barr Camp - just under 1 hr 55 mins.  The last few miles my back was acting up again - not allowing me to really run with any kind of strength.  But we still managed to keep it more of a run than a walk.  Was a good and productive effort I think overall.  We rested for a bit at Barr Camp - which was already very crowded at 8 am.  I was out of water so Steve filled me up - then he set off back down as a necessary precaution to keep his head / belly from getting worse.  The altitude is a great equaliser / showing no respect for anyone - Steve made a good choice to turn around.

I must of got a second wind after the rest stop at Barr Camp and was able to run at least 2/3rds of the way up to A-Frame - taking just under 50 minutes to cover that stretch, easily my best ever time and I really hope to do that on race day.  With 10 miles in, I was even tempted to go a little higher - but instead decided that I should work on getting familiar with running the stretch down to Barr Camp.

WARNING / WARNING / WARNING / WARNING - I'm gonna post a photo that has got nothing to do with anything, WARNING / WARNING / WARNING - below that will be photos of what happens when you are running at full speed, downhill, on rocky terrain and.......... (if you get grossed out, exit now).

An Ice Cream Burger - the next photos are a different kind of hamburger.
A brief rest at A-Frame and then I started down.  The trail is very technical in several places, lots of rocks and roots of various sizes.  It's really hard to go at a decent speed for any length of time as the moment you come to a somewhat smooth stretch, you then come to a rocky step down, or up or sideways.

So, my first half a mile down was kind of slow, was maintaining a decent pace, but not too fast.  It's a series of switchbacks that gradually get longer as you go further down the trail.  The long one is about 3/4 mile long and in several places allows you to pick up speed, so I did, glancing every now and then at my watch to see my average pace was getting much faster.

At 1.15 miles down the trail, at close to full speed, I stopped running.

I then started crying.  Not just because I had ruined one of my favorite shirts.
In a display of spectacular and memorable wipeouts - I crashed, harder than I ever remember before.  I walked the rest of the 9 miles down.  Training day was over.

I stopped several times on the way down the trail - sympathetic passers by helped me wash out the wounds, provide Neosporin and bandaids.  Those didn't stick on for long and were mostly too small.  The Neosporin seemed to help a lot keep things clean.

My water bottle was in my left hand, that protected that hand.  The rest of my body took some good hits.  (If you have made it this far to look at the pics - here, you can have them).

Lessons learned:
1) Considering running covered in Bubble wrap.
2) Considering not running down a trail.
3) Consider not looking at your watch while running down a trail
4) Consider not running.
5) My back doesn't hurt so much any more.
The morning after - this one hurts the most.
(ps - 20.15 miles on the day w/ 5656' elevation gain and 5hr 38 mins of (sort of) forward progress - the journey down took longer than the journey up).

Monday, July 9, 2012

Conquering Pikes Peak Summit

With the Barr Trail Mountain Race being cancelled due to the recent Waldo Canyon fire, the knuckledragging boys went to Plan "B".  We were going to do it last Summer - but due to the knee injury - couldn't.  It was time to conquer Pikes Peak.

So, Saturday morning we set off, parking about 1/2 mile after the start of the Pikes Peak Marathon start line - our goal was to hike the whole way up and then walk / maybe jog a little on the way down.

We carried with us plenty of food and fluids and set out at 6:15am.  It was cloudy and quite humid.  Quite a few people on the trail already, some were going up, while some others were already coming back down "the W's" after going up "The Incline".

We really didn't know how long it would take us to get up to the Summit.  Several times we were even tempted to run - fortunately that feeling went away quickly, mostly because we knew we were in for a long day of hiking and getting up to the Summit at 14,115 feet.

As we got going the clouds were settling in - so we really didn't get to see the Summit for the first few hours.
Somewhere way up there is the Summit covered in clouds
We made good progress up to Barr camp, where we stopped the clock for 5 minutes for a quick break.  The caretakers told us of a 60% chance of a storm on the Summit - we wanted to keep going though to get up there.  We did decide that if we heard the thunder and lightning - we would turn around.

So, we hiked on and eventually made it to the A-Frame Shelter.  By this time we not only were at treeline, but we were at "cloud line"
A Frame shelter just below treeline

Looking up - we can see the Summit (just to the right of center)
With the slight break in the clouds - we were thinking now that we should be okay to attempt the Summit.  1 1/2 hours later we made it - stopping only briefly at the bottom of the "16 Golden Stairs".  We hiked the whole way, but with a 1/2 mile or so to go - the journey and now the altitude was giving us a bit of the wobblies.

We pressed on, the clouds were now rolling in and it was getting cooler.  Finally we made it up, crossing the train tracks in 4 hours, 50 minutes.  Not bad for hiking the whole way.  We treated ourselves to a reward.
We had 4, took 2 home.
We also enjoyed a big sandwich each and gatorade.  We had plenty of food and fluids for the whole trip.  After resting and refueling for 20 minutes, we wandered around outside for a few minutes for photos before heading back down.
We did not share any donuts with this guy

Tempting to catch a ride on the Cog for the ride down - but we didn't

Proof we made it

Somewhere way out there is our house, many miles away
As you can see by the last photo, we were surrounded by clouds, it was about 40 degrees - didn't feel like raining, but we didn't want to wait around for long so we started our way down.  The plan was to walk some, maybe jog a little.
The clouds were really thick
Walking in the clouds, we could hear our voices echo because it was so thick and quiet.  We couldn't see much of anything, so we just walked and eventually got lower down the trail back towards treeline.  We jogged a mile or so every now and then - nothing fast at all, just trying to make the time go by a bit quicker.

By the time we got back to Barr Camp we finally heard our first rumbles of thunder.  So, we stopped only briefly to empty our shoes, grab a quick snack and kept heading down the trail.  We jogged again on and off for the next few miles, hearing the occasional rumble of thunder, amazingly all day we never got rained on.

The last 4 miles or so was tough.  Our feet, knees and hips were by now aching and sore - we were looking forward to finishing.  Finally, we made it back to where Dad had parked the car. 

Within 5 minutes of getting back to the car and taking off our shoes - this was me.....
What a long day
Thanks to my son (13 years old) - that was one of my best days and experiences on Pikes Peak.  25 total miles.  8:05 for the round trip.  7867 feet of climbing and 2 very tired dudes.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Barr Trail Mtn Race is cancelled

Got this e-mail from the RD in the last couple of minutes.....

Link to the Race website - where they have updated status also.

Dear Runners, After a great deal of consideration, the Barr Trail Mountain Race (BTMR) committee has come to the painful decision to cancel the 2012 edition of the BTMR. As we are sure you are all aware, our community is in the midst of experiencing what is being called "the most devastating wildfire in Colorado history." The impact of the Waldo Canyon Wildfire on both Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs has been incredibly severe. To date, over 17,000 acres have burned and nearly 350 homes have been destroyed. We realize that while Barr Trail has remained unscathed by the fire, countless other trails and open spaces along the front range have been directly affected. Because of this, both El Paso County Search and Rescue and the US Forest Service have been busy focusing their efforts towards helping contain the fire and deal with the destruction which has already occurred. We as a committee, and involved community members, believe these organizations should continue to direct their energies and resources where they are most needed, i.e. helping with the Waldo Canyon Wildfire. We recognize that the wildfire crews are making significant progress and the percentage of containment continues to jump on a daily basis. However containment, even full containment, does not mean extinguished. And as the fire continues to burn, the quality of air along the front range remains less than ideal. We would like to thank our sponsors and look forward to working with them in 2013. We know they too are hoping for the best possible outcome for this situation. Since the BTMR is a non-profit race, meaning 100% of entry fees are put directly back into the community, you will have the choice to either: 1) Have your race entry fee be donated to the original BTMR beneficiaries: El Paso County Search and Rescue, Friends of the Peak and Barr Camp. 2) Request your entry fee be donated to the Colorado Red Cross. 3) Defer your race entry to 2013. If you opt to have your entry fee be donated, you will be guaranteed a slot in the 2013 BTMR. Please email the race director at........
Waldo Canyon - taken January 11th this year while I was running it