Defn: a human male displaying evidence of devolution - exhibits distinctive "caveman-like" tendencies. This man often dribbles in public places; cannot drink a beverage without spilling it on himself, the floor or someone else; may also run into objects like lampposts & bushes; has a definite "sloopish & short legged" running style that is slow and low to the ground, often resulting in the dragging of knuckles.

These throwback neanderthals, along with their questionable diet, should clearly be avoided.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A devil, a horse and 5 more miles

"50k is only 5 more miles than a marathon - that shouldn't be too hard".  That's what I have told a few people about what I am expecting on race day tomorrow.  Of course I have been kidding when I have mentioned it.  Because quite honestly I have no idea what an extra 5 miles is going to be like.

The Devil Mountain Ultra 50K race is in Pagosa Springs and has 5000 +/- feet of elevation gain that includes Horse Mountain (approx 9900' elevation) and the race namesake - Devil Mountain.

I have really been looking forward to the race - the curiousity of running further than I have ever before, and how that is going to feel.  Having no idea how long it is going to take me to complete it (Goal #1). 

My mind has been occupied with race strategy (I must, must, must start out slow), with potential (I would like to win an age group award) and even the weather - overnight low tonight is supposed to be in the high 20's, warming to low 60's.

I'm excited, nervous and ready to just get out and run - and enjoy the experience.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Of course I run off course

I don't think that I am directionally challenged - or I did think that.  Now I am wondering if I am not only losing my marbles, but I am losing my bearings. 

Last Sunday it was during a race - on a course that I have run before - where the pre-race instrucions were simple: "run with the reservoir always to your right".  Of course 7 miles into the race I was off course, nowhere near the reservoir, instead on a game trail, waist deep in tall grass, waking up wild turkeys who clearly had not seen any other people that morning.  I was definitely where I should not have been.  It ended up being a 1 1/3 mile detour.

Then there was today, somewhere between Manitou Springs and Crystal Park, when I was surrounded by nothing but scrub oak, not a trail anywhere close to me, sort of knowing how I got there and kind of knowing where I needed to be going.  Only I couldn't.  I heard a voice somewhere nearby yell out to me: "You're trespassing!  Turn around and go back".

I thought about dropping to the ground and hiding.  I couldn't see who was yelling at me, but they could clearly see me - hopefully not through a scope.  So I turned around and went back, I think.  I found a trail, sort of.  I meandered around trying not to trespass, trying not to be seen, trying to run.  Eventually I found a paved road and made my way back to Manitou Springs.  I had 10 miles, a few scratches and over 2 hours on the legs. 

I was a little frustrated and needed to run some more in a familiar place.  2 reasons: I wanted 22 miles on the day for my last long run before the 50K in 10 days.  The other reason: I needed to prove to myself that I was capable of running and not getting off course.

So I ran up Barr Trail to Bob's Road and back.  It's a trail that I have run on dozens of times before, one that I am familiar with, I have a comfort in knowing where it goes, how it goes and how long it goes for.

I got my 22 miles for the day in.  I ran / walked / hiked / wandered aimlesly for 4 1/2 hours.  I gained about 5200' feet of elevation.  By the time I was done I found where I parked.  I found my car keys.  I then found my way back to my apartment.  I was in familiar surroundings - not off course any more.

I have a big race coming up, I don't want to get lost and go off course on that.  It's not something to really plan for, but it is now certainly occupying space in my already occupied mind.  I was reminded today and last Sunday to pay attention to where I am when I am running.  I should look around and enjoy the scenery but also keep track of the track I am on. 

If I see a bunch of wild turkeys again or if I hear a booming voice yelling at me for trespassing - it is possible that I am having a directionally challenging moment.  I think it was Hansel and Gretl that left a trail of things behind them so as to know where they were.  Maybe I should do that to.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pony Express Trail Run

This is a lap around the Rampart Reservoir near Woodland Park that I ran 2 years ago, that was cancelled last year due to the damage along part of it caused by the Waldo Canyon Fire. 

It is advertised as a 15 mile race, but everyone I checked with had it at 14 1/3 miles - or thereabouts - with one guy getting lost and getting almost 15 miles in.

And then there was me - I did the deluxe tour.  More on that later.

Only 40 people started the race, my guess is due to all the rain in the past week, and potential for more on Sunday.  Every time there is a flash flood warning they close Highway 24 - the most direct route between Colorado Springs and Woodland Park.  For the morning though, the weather was decent - although true to form, by mid afternoon the road was closed down due to the rain again - but by that time I was home.

With 40 people in a race it was a fun and friendly atmosphere - in the pre-race anouncements, one note stood out: "Make sure the lake is always to your right".  Sounded like a good bit of common sense.

My plan was to try to maintain an even tempo throughout the race of 9 minute miles.  It was to be my second to last long run before the 50K in 2 weeks.  I have no idea how I will do on that - so I have not been working on any speedwork - just working on trying to maintain a steady pace - especially on long runs.

The first 1 1/3 mile is all downhill, dropping a few hundred feet - takes us to the waters edge - before then settling in to circumnavigating the reservoir in a clockwise direction.  There are very few flat sections, lots of water crossings, mud, a section where we ran across the dam road - and rolling, rolling, rolling terrain.  Overall about 1100' of elevation gain though, so it was a great place for a steady tempo run. 

After running the lap we would then return back up the 1 1/3 mile to where we began.  I had this in mind throughout and wanted to bank a bit of time for this to get in under my goal time of under 2 hrs, 15 minutes - which was a 9 minute pace throughout.

At the start I tried as hard as I could to stay slow and easy, wanting to not go faster than 9 minute miles - so as a result, a mile in I was only ahead of about 10 people, possibly less.  No worries though - I wasn't racing.....yet.

1 1/2 miles in we came to the first water crossing - wet shoes, mud up the legs.  Although I had not thought too much about what the course would be like, I immediately was happy.  I love playing in the mud.

As the miles and rollers progressed I was passing people.  The reservoir has lots of coves that wind around the perimeter - so it was easy to look across and see other runners ahead.  I thought about taking mental notes of other runners ahead of me to see what kind of gap they had - but reminded myself again that I was just out to run and stay steady. 

I had settled into a comfortable 8:45 per mile pace in the first 1/2 dozen miles - it just felt so comfortable and maintainable, so I went with it.  I thought ahead of the last uphill 1 1/3 mile and figured I would lose some steam up that, but would worry about that when I got there.

About 7 miles in I looked to my right across the bay and saw a group of runners ahead - my guess was about 30 to 40 seconds.  They were walking up a hill.  I thought it wouldn't be long before I would catch up to them.  I kept on going straight ahead and the next live thing I saw - several minutes later - was a group of wild turkeys - directly ahead of me on the trail.  Whaaaaat?  Surely if that group of runners had just gone through the turkeys would not be there, would they?

Besides, the reservoir was still........right.........ummmm......there????  Where was it again?  I couldn't see water.  I was following a trail up through a meadow - sure it wasn't much of a trail, it was narrower than I was on a few minutes ago, but it was still a trail.  Sort of.  The fact it was leading me into waist deep grass that clearly had not been trampled on by runners was my final clue that I had gone off course.

But hey, I saw some wild turkeys - that was fun.  So I turned around and backtracked, finally getting back to the trail proper.  As I rejoined the trail I ran into another runner whom I clearly confused as I was now running the wrong way.  I stopped, looked to my left and there was the right trail.  So I turned and off I went, mentioning to the other runner that I had taken a detour (Which ended up being 1 1/3 mile round trip).

My average pace per mile time was now up to 8:55.  Still no big deal, I really wasn't bothered because this was still just a fun long run I was on.  I did dial up the effort a bit and before long I was passing people again.  Sure it was the same people I had been passing before - but we were all having fun.

I now had no idea how many people were in front of me - so I thought that it would be fun to just see how many I could pass, all the while trying to maintain the steady pace - which I had got down to an 8:50 average by the time I hit the dam road (with 5 1/2 miles to go).

I was still running comfortably, eating my fig newtons and swedish fish (my new favorite running fuels) and every now and then I would come up and pass someone.  Many of the people I passed would ask if I had already had passed them - and I replied that yes I had, but had taken a detour - "the reservoir was supposed to be on our right, right?"

We continued on, going through about a mile or two of burn scars - sad - but some low level vegetation was starting to grow back.  Still running through water and mud, I was in a great mood and this kind of running is a lot of fun to me.

As we neared the end of the lap of the lake and turned onto the 1 1/3 mile long road section back to the start, I saw another runner about a half minute ahead of me.  Good, someone to try to pace off and catch.  I was still at 8:50 average and felt good - so I put my head down and gradually began to reel her in.

But she was determined, cause she had seen other runners ahead and was chasing them.  I eventually caught up to her, but in the process we both passed 4 other runners in that last stretch.  As I caught them I actually got faster and dropped the average per mile a couple of seconds.

Crossing the finish line in 2 hours 17 minutes - taking about 8 minutes off my previous time that I had run the race.  Surprisingly I had managed to pass about 2 dozen people after my detour and ended up in 10th place overall.  My first top ten finish ever that I can remember.  Sure if I didn't get myself lost I might of actually come in 5th or 6th - but I really didn't care.

It was a fun, muddy, long run that I had completed while maintaining the same steady pace throughout.  Goal achieved.  Plus I got to see a bit more of Colorado in my 15.6 miles - along with some startled turkeys out for a Sunday morning stroll.
Photo: Tom Dewane

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Falcon Trail - clockwise PR

Soggy conditions underfoot this morning - but I love running in this weather - if I am wearing enough clothes.  I thought today I was wearing too much, by the time I was done.  I was soaked from head to foot and mud socks were in full effect also.

I went clockwise and wanted to get after it - but was actually feeling a little sluggish throughout much of the run.  I think that is likely a result of a lot of miles under the belt in the last few weeks.  Conditions probably slowed me down a little bit too - but not too much.

Stream crossings were much higher than I have seen before, one was even an inch over a bridge.  Fortunately the trails are mostly sand and granite - rather than mud - so not a lot of sticking to the bottom of the shoes.

60:53 to the half way point, which is faster than I have done before, but in order to PR an overall fastest time I needed to be under 60 minutes.  I had some good reserves in the tank though and pushed the second half and finished with a 1:53:55. 

That's a new clockwise PR - about 4 minutes faster than my previous best, and 65 seconds off an overall PR.  So I am happy with the effort and the result.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mt Herman

It's not the Incline in Manitou Springs but it is a good quick climb in a short distance - and it is closer to where I live.  With it raining this morning I almost stayed inside and ran on a treadmill - but decided instead to just enjoy the rain.

I added a layer and a woolly hat so as to not catch a cold and headed a few miles up the way from where I live to Mt Herman.  Parked in the lot at the North end of it and started my watch.  I had hiked on this trail once before a few weeks ago - although I did lose it once and ended up bush-whacking my way up to the Summit.   I kind of knew where I was going and knew it was no more than 1 1/2 miles to the Summit.

The rain actually made for good footing, the normally dusty and loose trail was quite firm and I really didn't slip much at all - going up or down.  I was able to pick up the main trail both up and down this time too.

The climb up was a good one - just over 1.25 miles, 1660 ' elevation gain.  I made it in 33:15.  Coming back down I was a little tentative, not wanting to slip - so I held back a little bit, but really not much.  Making the descent in 19:27.  Round trip time was 52:43.

So I now have a solid baseline time established for myself.  I'm not going to chase after beating it any time soon - but I would one day like to challenge a sub 30 ascent, maybe do a sub 15 minute descent.  Sub 45 minute round trip would be a challenge for me for sure.

It was a little wet, but quite enjoyable and a good bit of vertical training - albeit being only just over 2 1/2 miles for the round trip.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Barr Trail and Elk Park Trail

Got my 3rd marathon distance in the past 4 weeks with this run.  Started at the Pikes Peak Marathon start line in Manitou Springs and went up to Barr Camp via Barr Trail (approx 7.5 miles), then took a right turn onto Elk Park Trail (for another 5.5 miles).

I have not been on this trail before, it was quite varied with a couple of stream crossings, a few rocky sections, a good climbing section for the last mile and more up to the Elk Park parking lot - right at tree line.  But my favorite sections were traversing along the side of the mountain, in the trees, along soft, dirt single track - made even more spongey by many years of leaves and pine needles falling on the trail.

It was a good long run, getting in just over 6000' feet of elevation gain, maxing out about 100' below 12,000' elevation.  Taking the pace nice and easy for a 5 1/2 hour round trip and really enjoying the Elk Park trail which I had all to myself - aside from a few Marmot's and other little critters.

After getting up to the parking lot, I turned and went back on the same trails and finished up with just over 26 miles on the day.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

American Discovery Trail Marathon

It was a clearly defined goal / responsibility: Finish in just under 4 hours, all the while maintaining a steady and consistent 9:07 - 9:08 average pace per mile for 26.2 miles.

At the start line in Palmer Lake there was just a slight breeze, we started at 6:30 am and got going just before the sun came up.  The first mile included a lap of the lake and it was a slow one due to the early race congestion.  Not to worry, as we finished the lap of the lake (empty of water for the past few years) we settled in and by the end of mile one I was on track with a 9:07 pace.   

Beside me was Bob from Minnesota - today was the last of the bucket list marathons day for him.  His 50th state to run a marathon was our state of Colorado and this was the race he chose.   Although he fell off the initial pace - he did finish.  Congrats to him - an awesome achievement to run a marathon in all 50 states.  Also along side was Carl from Colorado Springs and Gunnar, aged 73 from Arizona - who was born in Norway and was a ships captain.  Needless to say - not a lot of altitude training for him.  Both Gunnar and Carl also finished the race.

As the miles started clicking by and the sun crested the horizon I noticed our shadows running alongside us.  Several times I looked beside me and to my surprise I was towing a group of about 20 runners with me.  I carried a small flag on a stick with me identifying the pace goal of a 4 hour finish - it was a magnet early in the race for people to line up beside and just behind me.  Needless to say I was feeling a little popular.

The first few miles were very conversational as I got to know some of the other runners, with the gradual slope downhill the pace came very easy.  In my mind this was a 4 hour training run, with the added responsibility of being an encouragement to those around me who had much more definitive goals and ambitions in this race.

I wanted to stay well fueled and hydrated - carrying with me fig newtons and swedish fish for my calorie intake along the journey.  They worked great.  I had no issues with bonking, getting hungry or any stomach issues throughout the run.  I had left my water bottle in my fridge accidently - but with aid stations every 2 to 3 miles I didn't need it, plenty of water and gatorade available.

The middle section of the course, beginning just North of the Air Force Academy air field has several rolling sections in it and unfortunately many of those who were following me started dropping off the pace through these miles.  I really wanted to slow down at times to try to keep them latched on to me - but I needed to stick to the pace.

At halfway the time on my watch showed 1:59:20 - right on target.  By this time only a handful of people were beside me unfortunately.  People were still spread out though in front of me and most were moving well.  We continued through the Air Force Academy and eventually made it to the Woodment Road aid station at mile 17, my son was there handing out water, so I got to briefly chat with him which was good.

A mile or two later we came up to a group of people holding up hand made signs, the one that was brightest was "Free Hugs!!" - I couldn't resist and got a great big hug from a complete stranger - I'm sure she is a lovely lady.  The couple of guys that I was running with commented in jest that I needed to do less hugging and more 4 hour pacing.  I agreed and kept going.

BY now it was getting warmer and I had began noticing that my mile splits on my watch were .05 or slightly more miles longer than the mile marker posts on the course.  So, I realized that I should plan on tracking a 26.3 marathon distance, which for sub 4 hours the pace needed to be closer to 9:05 - 9:06 pace. 

By now I was passing people more frequently as my pace stayed steady, but those others were starting to drop off a little.  The common mood was less joyful than it had been at the start of the race where it had seemed people were happy to be with me, now as I began to go past people they were muttering and telling me off for passing them.  I had to stick to my task though and tried to be encouraging to those I passed.

The 4 hour sign did however seem to be a motivator to a few people and for the last 8 or so miles 2 people leap frogged just ahead of me as they tried to stay ahead of the 4 hour pace goal.  As they would start to slide closer to me I would encourage them, occasionally pass them, but kudos to both of them, they didn't quit and managed to both finish  a minute or so ahead of me.

By mile 22 I was able to get a good read on mile marker signs verses my gps mileage and saw that I was tracking right at a 3:59 pace.  My quads were talking to me with some fatigue by now but it was manageable. 

As I entered America the Beautiful Park and the finish area it was a fun atmosphere I got a lot of "Good job four hour pace guy" as I ran the last 1/2 mile and crossed the finish line with a chip time of 3:58:59, gun time of 3:59:22.  I had completed my task, achieved my goal - and was not too worse for wear.

All in all, a good long run that was a little more than a training run, it was an accomplishment that left me feeling satisfied and good about the days work.