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.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Inside a runners rambling mind...

When someone you sort of know finds out that you are one of those “runner people”, inevitably the ensuing conversation will lead to a question from that “not a runner - but somewhat curious and at least polite enough to ask some sort of question to demonstrate some sort of interest – person” to you the runner: “Wow, you run a lot, so what do you think about when you are out running? 
When first posed with this question I often times will be at a loss for words – not because I don’t want to talk to this non runner person, but because when I run I don’t think at all.  At least I don’t think that I think.  I think.  But I think that maybe if I did think while I am out running then what exactly would I think about?  Would I have enough things to think about?  Would I think about running things?  About non-running things?  Would I think about things to think about?  Would I get bored?  Will I run faster?  Will I run slower?  Will I run further?  Will I fall off the trail because I am not thinking, or thinking too much?
What a dilemma!  Why am I thinking about this now?  Why can’t I now stop thinking about it?  Have I scared myself away from running because I am too afraid of the consequences of thinking and running at the same time?   What can I do, where should I go?  I can’t ask my friends who are runners for fear that they will tell me that I think too much, or don’t think enough?  I dare not ask a non-runner because they clearly have too much to think about.  Or do they think about not running as much as I have apparently begun thinking about thinking, while running. 
Being overcome with clearly thinking about all this way too much I approached my next run soon after these thoughts come into my mind.  I can’t sleep the night before.  I am unfocused as I try to eat some breakfast and catch myself trying to spread peanut butter on my cereal when I thought I was eating a bagel.  I forget where I am going and miss the turn off to the trail head – by 16 miles.  Finally I arrive at the trail, a nervous wreck.  My mind is racing, my heart is clearly over-elevated and I am not even wearing one of those funny looking heart rate monitor thingys. 
What will happen on this run?  Will I be able to think and run at the same time?  Will I be able to run at all?  Will I be able to think at all?  Did I remember to bring my shoes?  Will other runners pass me and say something like “clearly you are thinking and running at the same time”.  Will that encourage me?  Will that discourage me?  How will they know that I am thinking or not thinking?  How will I know if I am thinking?  Should I carry a pen and paper to write down any thoughts that come into my mind? 
Finally I get out of the car, making sure my shoelaces are tied, I start my watch and start running.  And I run.  I run some more.  Miles go by, I keep running.  Eventually I turn around and run back to my car.
I am asked later that day a question by that non-runner person: “So how far did you run today?”  I politely reply with how many miles I ran.  They respond with: “Wow, that’s a long way.  What did you think about when you were running?”
“Not much, I just enjoyed my run”.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Speed work is not my friend

I managed to complete another 40 mile week - albeit 45 this week - with a speed session yesterday afternoon.  I realise that speed is relative for each person.  6 minute mile pace comes easy to some.  9 minute miles is tough for others.  For me - I consider myself a plodder that can every now and then go a little faster than I usually like to. 

I have a competitive nature though and would not deny that I would like to be faster - faster than most others.  But I am equipped with dna and body parts (short legs) that don't allow 6 minute pace to come easy and certainly not often.  I have learnt though that if I focus on working at getting faster - I can marginally get faster.  It hurts though - so I often don't follow through with it for long.

Yesterday I talked myself into a speed session, an 8 mile run with 1/2 that distance being an attempt at speed, the other half with attempting to recover and see straight.  I parked at the Air Force Academy North Gate entrance and ran on the relatively flat section of Santa Fe trail that heads South for just over 2 miles.  Went down 2 miles and back, then did it again.  It is slightly downhill on the way out and there was a slight breeze behind me on my way back.  It balanced out well.

First mile was a warm up at 9 minute pace and then I went into a 7 minute mile which is about my limit right now for a mile.  I did okay and held to schedule.  I turned and did the next mile at a 9 minute pace again and then went to work on another 7 minute mile.  I could have done with more of a tailwind to help - but I managed to hold on and nail the 7 minutes spot on.

By now I was back at the start and tempted to call that good - but abandoning sound reason and better judgement, I turned around and headed South again.  The next 1/2 mile was at a 9 minute pace again, followed next by a 1/2 mile at 6:30 pace.  Eeeeek, that was not fun at all and yet somehow I managed to push through and get there.  After another 1/2 mile at 9 minute pace I was on tap for 1/2 mile at 6:30 again and by now my legs were getting jittery in an uncomfortable way.  But I somehow managed to get through the 1/2 mile at the desired 6:30 pace. 

As I turned with 2 miles to go I was now thinking of doing 1/4 mile repeats - faster than the previous longer ones.  Now with only a 1/4 mile recovery, I then set out on a 6 minute paced 1/4 mile and great googily moogily was that not fun, nor easy at all.  But I did it.  I walked 1/2 of the next 1/4 mile and then did the same 6 minute paced 1/4 mile again.  I walked almost all of the next 1/4 mile.  By now I was shot and even though I wanted to do 2 more 1/4 mile repeats at the 6 minute pace again my body declared that I was not capable of that - they ended up being at 6:08 pace and the last at 6:14 pace.

My version of a speed training session was over and I was reminded why I don't do these often - but was encouraged by hitting all but the last 2 repeats on time that I might do it again - or not.  I may just stick to nice and slow 13 mile long runs - they hurt too but at least I can see where I am going.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Winter Series Race - a surprising result

This was a race that I was fully expecting my 14 year old son to beat me by at least a minute.  At the start he shot out with reckless abandon that both frightened me that the beat down was going to be greater than I expected - or he was going to blow up.  I, on the other hand tried to start out at a steady pace on the 1/3 mile paved section to start.

As we entered snow packed trails and began the climbing section I was quickly passing people and moving quite well.  The race was basically 1 1/2 miles of mostly rollers rolling up, the last 1 3/4 was mostly downhill rollers.  So my plan was to try to maintain a steady effort till the turn around and then push into discomfort land on the head for home stretch.

As I was nearing the turn around alas I saw my son starting to come back to me, it was clear that he was struggling and I would catch him.  The thought entered my mind to stay behind him and hope he would shake out of whatever funk or ailment he had.  Or I could come up alongside him and hang with him the rest of the race.

I caught him, asked if he was okay to which he replied he had stepped wrong and jammed his leg but he would be fine.  So I eased passed him and encouraged him to hang tough.  He did.  I finished ahead of him and turned back after the finish line to watch him come flying home passing people with great determination.  I was super glad for him.  So, our races were done but we had more peeps to cheer in to the finish.

Both his sisters were also running.  My 13 year old was running alone and my 8 year old was running with her Mom.  So I started jogging back up the trail to cheer them in and run in with the older one.  I kept going and didn't see her.  The further I went up the trail I was expecting to see her - yet she wasn't there.  And then my youngest came by just ahead of her Mom.  Mom told me they had passed the older one and she wasn't doing well.  So, I went further up the trail and finally found the poor thing, exhausted.

We ran together to the finish and I walked her straight to the car where she could sit down.  Poor kid was tired from a busy week of school and some late nights.  I was proud she gutted out a finish.  As for my baby - wow.  Not only did she beat her older sister, she won her age group (1-9 yr olds) and set a new age group course record for that age group!!  Ice cream celebration time!!!

Race 2 in a couple of Saturdays.  My son has revenge with me in mind.  My oldest daughter wants to catch her younger sister and as for the little one: well she had more energy than all of us after the race.  I am looking forward to seeing how the next 3 races play out for her and the rest of us.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Racing with my son

For the past 4 years I have run the Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter Distance Series - 2 years with my son, one year with my oldest daughter and although I would love to take credit for them winning age group awards - they ran them, I just hung out beside them and tried to encourage them, or lie to them by saying we were almost done.

Of course there was the time I did lose my son on the 3rd race a few years ago - in a blizzard - but I think he has healed from that.  I am still a little worse for wear about it though.  My only task that day was to run with him and at the half way point he was right behind me as I boldly sheltered him from the wind.  Or something.  When I finished he was still behind me, I thought right behind me still sheltering - alas he was over a 1/2 mile away.  Ooops.

Moving forward now to this year where the young man is now 14 and able to fend for himself in all kinds of weather and life experiences.  I am releasing him into the wild for him to run of his own accord, according to his own pace, using his own tried and true training methods (rolling out of bed and deciding to run - or not).  He is racing this year in an attempt to win another age group award, without me running alongside trying to tell him he is looking good, looking strong, looking unbeatable.

And I release him with great joy - because this year I release him with a big fat target on his back.  One that I will be aiming for.  You see the smelly little disrespectful upstart punk kid beat his father in the 5K Rescue Run just over a week ago.  Humiliating his father by passing him on the initial hill and holding on to win by over 30 seconds.  Since that day where I gave it my all just to try to catch him, while he just sauntered along on nothing but teenage testosterone and Lucky Charms for breakfast - the gauntlet has been thrown.

The race is on - 4 series races.  3+ miles, 4 miles, 5 miles and a 10K to finish.  Whoever has the fastest accumulative time at the end of the series wins.  Whoever does not win does not come second - they lose.

With my 40 mile training weeks I am sure to be highly trained, well prepared and intensely focused for this show down.  He, on the other hand is a mere teenager, overwhelmed with homework, preoccupied with incessant texting, unable to focus on anything except for when he eats everything in sight because he is "soooo hungry", and clearly distracted with his finely manicured hair not ever being put out of place.

The prediction: If all goes to plan and I don't have to cheat and resort to pushing him off a trail - he will win the first 2 races, I'll take the second 2 and the time separating us will be minimal.  I may be older and slower, he may be younger and faster - but in the end it will be just awesome to race him, to watch him race - and hopefully celebrate at the end together with him winning another age group award.
Racing together 2 years ago at the first race.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sliding out of 2013 via Stanley Canyon

I haven't posted anything for a month or so, been a little pre-occupied with a new venture that I'll keep under wraps for a bit, just in case it burns out. 

I have however kept up my 40 mile running weeks which I have really enjoyed - I'm up to about 7 or 8 weeks in a row now with 40 miles and it has become really fun to do.  I have tried to vary distances and how often I run each week. Some weeks I did back to back to back 2 hour runs.  One week I ran a 20 miler and only 2 other times.  Each week I have done a loop of the Falcon Trail and seen my time get quicker as my fitness improves.  I have also tried to get up Mt Herman each week which has helped add up vertical gain.

I finished the year with over 1500 miles and just over 190,000' of elevation gain.  Both of these are noticeably different than 2012 numbers.  I expect to improve on those in 2014 and are considering increasing my weekly mileage up to 45, maybe even 50 miles.  It all depends on my legs, feet, back etc.

I had a weekend where I could get 2 good last long runs in this past weekend - so on Saturday I did my fastest lap of Falcon Trail in recent memory (ie before Pikes Peak Marathon) with a 1:56.  Then on Sunday I wanted to add onto that by exploring Stanley Canyon - which is a trail that comes off Falcon Trail, halfway into the 13 mile loop.

What a fun experience, it had snowed the night before up to an inch in places on the trail which makes it really pretty.  The trail was steep and very rocky for the first mile.  I really had no idea where to go at times and ended up following the rugged canyon / creek bed up.  This lead to a few adventurous moments when I realised I was on frozen waterfalls, covered in snow and with little to no traction - resulted in some slipping and sliding.

Eventually the trail levelled out and lead to Stanley Canyon Reservoir which I didn't even know existed.   I thought about going for a slip and slide on it but thought a wiser choice would be to not tempt fate.  Past that I continued on a rolling trail that lead me who knows where - but I ended up about 4 miles from the trailhead.  Of course by this time I was out of food (didn't have much to begin with) and water - but I was able later to refill in the creek where it wasn't frozen over.

The journey down was slow and I was tired, the highlight being a frozen waterfall that I slid down on my butt cause I couldn't figure out an easier way of doing it.  21 miles once I finally finished, almost 5 hours and 3300 something feet gained. 

I'll look to do the trip again but likely wait to the snow and ice has gone - for obvious reasons.  Here are some pictures from going up and down through Stanley Canyon - as well as on the trails above it.