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, September 24, 2014

Distracted by a long walk

I'm not sure if I have shared on here a bucket list item that my son and I mutually have....I'm in the midst of tapering for the Stump Jump 50K in 1 1/2 weeks - so with less time running and more time to waste get distracted, earlier today I took a few moments to look up something that I want to do with my son when he graduates from High School.  He also wants to do it, we started talking about it before he even started high school and he is now a sophomore. 

"It" is in New Zealand - where I was born but have not lived for well over 20 years.  In the years that I have lived in the US I have been back to New Zealand only a handful of times.  I have never done "it" before.   I never even herd of "it" until about 2 years ago.  If my son and I get to do this thing I am certain "it" could be one of the most memorable experiences we have ever done individually and together.

"It" has a name.  "Te Araroa" - which is a Maori name.  (The Maori people were the original settlers of New Zealand and Te Araroa translated means "The Long Walk").

In a brief video capsule - this is what it is.....

In a more descriptive form - the facts: A 3054 KM walk - from the Northern most point of New Zealand (Cape Reinga) to the Southern most point of New Zealand (Bluff). 

Average time to complete the "walk" is 120 days. 

Fastest time to do it....

Jez Bragg did it in 53 days 9 hours.  My son and I have a goal of doing it in about 75 days - give or take a week or so.  I can't wait to try it.  We talk about it every now and then - trying to wrap our heads around the concept of 3054 kilometers.  That seems oh so very long.  We make the mistake too often in looking up 3054 kilometers to see that it is just under 1900 miles.

1900 miles.

One Thousand, nine hundred miles.


That is like walking from Colorado Springs to New York City - and then still having over 120 miles to go!!!

That's not a bucket list - that's a kick the bucket list - as in "grab a shovel, dig a hole and jump in, cover yourself with dirt and grow daisies out your armpits" kind of list.

But we want to do it / try it / experience it.  We want to live it, breathe it, feel it, suffer it - LIVE it.

We spend time looking at the Official website for the trail.  We get distracted by You tube videos of it which inevitably lead us to watching other You Tube videos like this....(nothing to do with the trail itself - but quite entertaining and a little frightening also).

Its still 3 years or so away till we may try it - who knows what can and will happen between now and then.  But with a little extra time on my hands for the next few days (aside from going to work and still running a bit) - the Long Walk has been fun to revisit in my mind today.  

I'm hoping we get to do it - I expect if we do it will leave an imprint deep in my son's and my mind.

Seems like it did his.....

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The 70 mile week sandwich

I began and ended my week with the same run / 7.5 mile course.  Sandwiched in between those 2 runs were 3 long runs that when looking back - were tough to chew and swallow, but once digested - should sit well in my belly.

Sunday began with the 7 1/2 mile run I have out the back of my apartment that is a lollipop course with over 600' of gain in it.  It was a breezy start into a wind so I started out just grinding the first few miles.  I woke up eventually and got my legs under me, starting to feel strong so I pushed the effort a bit as I continued and ended up taking 1 3/4 minutes off my previous best effort.  Was pleased with that.

No run on Monday, Tuesday I was off work.  Picked up a kid and dropped her off at school and then drove to Mt Herman trailhead.  It was warm already by 9 am as I got started.  First lap was a moderate effort on the 8 mile loop for a 1:49 time.  Second lap started out okay although as always was difficult on the 1600'+ climb up to the summit starting out the lap.  I tried to stay with a moderate effort and measured pace and was doing well.  With 3 miles to go I was tracking a new PR, feeling fatigued though.  Problem was - I had 3 miles to go, and then another lap.

By the time I finished up lap 2 I had slowed and my time for the lap ended up being 1:57 - now 1 minute behind my 3 lap PR.  And by now the wheels had feeling off and I was toast.  I needed to finish this run though, trying to convince myself that even though my final time was going to suck - I needed to build my endurance and time on my feet.  Problem still was I had to gain the summit.  What a slog.  It was miserable as I was so weary.  I stopped several times - barely resisting the temptation to sit down, lie down, pass out.

I kept moving, slowly and finally got to the high point.  I meandered my way down the other side managing to run when I could.  As I made my way around the back of the mountain I ran the downhill's and flat sections - walked slowly up the uphill's.  If it wasn't for the fact that I needed to pick up the same kid from school I would have taken much longer than I ended up doing.  Lap 3 was 2:19.  Total time was 6 hours, 5 minutes.  24 miles.  Over 7000' of gain.  I barely made it to school on time to pick up the kid.  What a long day.

The one good thing about this "run" was that I wasn't sore afterwards, just weary.  Very, very weary.

Wednesday a rest day and then Thursday my next long run of the week.  13 miles on Falcon Trail.  I went counter clockwise and started out the first miles feeling slow and sluggish but as I got into the climbing section of the South end of the loop I felt better and went to work.  5 miles in and I figured I had an outside shot of getting halfway / to the high point in 60 minutes.  I had only managed that once before.  I ended up missing it by a few seconds for a 60:05 to the 6 1/2 mile mark - redlining the effort over the last /2 mile which resulted in once I crested the high point - taking a minute to walk and catch my breath.

I dialed it back while still maintaining a moderate to hard effort for the last 6 1/2 miles and ended up with a lap time of 1:54:45.  One of my faster times in recent months.  Best since mid June.  This was a good run and helped with a confidence boost after Tuesdays effort.

Friday I did a moderate effort for 18 miles on Santa Fe Trail.  Started at Northgate and went up to Palmer Lake and back.  Out in 80 minutes at 8:52 pace.  Turned - it was mid 80 degrees by now - and upped the effort to 8 minute pace for the next 3 miles.  I though about trying to come the whole way back at that effort but fatigue caught up so I gradually slowed down and ended up finishing the last 9 miles at an 8:13 average.  Total distance 18 miles.  2 hours 34 minutes.

Today (Saturday) I finished off the 70 mile week with the same run I started out the week with.  After a sluggish and slow start I dialed it up and ended up with a 63 minute lap - 65 seconds slower than last time.  A good work out to cap of a week with some really hard work in it.

So - the meat of training is over - less miles on tap this upcoming week - I'll look to work hard on most, if not all of the upcoming miles this week.  Want to stay sharp.  Still don't feel quite up to where I was going into the last 50K race in June, would like another couple of weeks of long training runs like the past 2 weeks - but will take what I have managed to get in - and look forward to the Stump Jump 50K 2 weeks from today - with expectations of being somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 minutes slower to 5 minutes faster than the last race.

Monday, September 15, 2014

70 mile week in the books

Longest week of mileage since way back in the last week of May.  The theme for the week was double's.  As in double loops of local trails. 

Sunday: started the week with an easy shakeout run of 4 1/2 miles in 40 minutes on the trail behind my apartment.  A crisp 43 degree morning, beautiful and sunny skies.  The run was just a shakeout run from the heavy workload of the week before.  That week was more than just covering 60 miles, it was about working hard on just about all of those miles.  As a result I was tired - for days afterwards, including this morning's run.

Tuesday: took a rest day the day before and then did a double loop of Falcon Trail.   26 miles in 4 1/2 hours.  Still felt slow and weary throughout, caught up to me in lap 2 and so I ended up walking a lot of it.

Wednesday: A double loop of Mt Herman.  16 miles in 3 hours, 49 minutes - with 4700'+ of gain.  Felt better on this run than the day before, yet was still a very physically taxing effort.

Friday: took a needed rest day on Thursday.  Friday morning woke up to this....
First snow of the season.
Drove up through Palmer Lake to the Greenland Trail and did 2 laps.
Not as much snow here at the Greenland Trail parking lot.
First lap was a slow and measured effort for a 1:08 loop (8 miles).  Then I pushed harder on the second lap and did a 1:06.  The last mile I decided to really push and managed a sub 7 effort.

Saturday was a long day - drive a kid up to Steamboat Springs for a soccer game.  I got in 5 miles on Santa Fe Trail before we left for the 3 1/2 hour drive.  Got there early for the game so I managed to get 2 1/2 miles in along the Yampa River while waiting for the game to start.  Steamboat is a nice town - Mt Werner overlooking  it was impressive, the Run Rabbit Run race going on while we were there.
Mt. Werner.  Would like to have had time to run / hike up it.
70 miles for the week without the intensity of the week before - but feeling sluggish on almost all of the runs.  One more week of 70 miles on tap for this week.  Hopefully will feel a little stronger.  Still don't feel ready for the 50K coming up and I may not get to the start line fully where I want to be - but should hopefully not be too far off.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Doubling up

Double trouble.  Double the fun.  The Daily Double.  A Double take.  Double or Nothing.  Double Vision.  Double Down.  Double Up......I could go on.  Lots of things to reference with Doubles.

The last two days I pulled off a noteworthy double double of sorts for me.  Not just because it was something that I haven't ever done before.  But because it was really good endurance training - for me at least.

Not that it all went well.

Tuesday:  I am fortunate to live just a few minutes from the entrance to the Air Force Academy where the Falcon Trail is a favorite trail of mine to train and run on.  When I tack on a loop of the parking lot it is a 13 mile run - with 1300'+ of elevation gain that gives added work to a good 2 or so hour run on a really nice trail that is usually not very travelled upon during mid-week.

I had run only once since last Friday - that one run was just an easy and short-ish effort.  So I expected to go into this Tuesday's run with some pep.  Didn't happen.  I started out feeling tired, not really feeling slow, but just feeling fatigued.  Maybe not enough sleep and/or not eating well the previous couple of days.  I stuck to what felt like an easy to moderate effort and ended up with a 2:05 lap going counter clockwise.  In hindsight this was too fast.  But it didn't feel too fast - it just felt tiring.  I possibly should have stopped, but I had the day off work and wanted a long run. 

I turned and was now heading clockwise for a 2nd lap.  I tried to be conservative and really slow down the effort in order to keep moving without walking.  It seemed to work for almost 4 miles - then I couldn't muster any effort or desire to run any further.  So I resorted to walking, a lot.  Every now and then I convinced myself to run / jog.  Sometimes I even ran for a mile or so.  I also walked for larger sections.  I seem to bonk each and every time I try a Double Falcon run.  Don't know what it is - I'm sure the 26 miles has a lot to do with it, but I also believe I have a mental roadblock built into it.

What had the potential to be a new 2 lap PR (old one is about 4:15) quickly went by the wayside.

I kept moving alternating walking with running and feeling like I would never make it back to my car.  Finally with 3 1/3 miles to go of almost all downhill with the exception of the last 1/2 mile I convinced myself to move - and maintained a slow run / shuffle all they way to the end, including the last 1/2 mile of misery.  2nd lap was 2:25 almost for a 4 1/2 hour total for the 26 miles.

I lay down on the picnic table in the parking lot after I was done - and if it wasn't for not having any fluids left - would have gladly stayed there and easily fallen asleep.

Wednesday:  Much better sleep the night before.  But woke to rain and 46 degrees.  I waited until just after 9 am - had the day off work so I could afford to get a late start - the rain stopped as I pulled into a parking area at the foot of Mt Herman. 

I started out slow - way slow - really wanting to pace myself for this days effort.  I wasn't feeling too sore or even overly tired from the day before.  I also wasn't feeling overly peppy either though.  The 1700' climb up the first 1.3 miles was and always will be a wake up and get it over and done with section of the 8 mile loop.  The trail was a little slick in places but by the time I reached the summit the clouds had lifted and the sun came out.

This brightened my spirits and I continued over the Southwest side of the mountain and onto the lap.  I felt okay and managed to get into a steady rhythm - finishing the first lap only 30 or so seconds slower than last weeks first of 2 laps.  Today I was also doing 2 laps - but last week I had not been out for 4 1/2 hours and 26 miles the day before.

Needless to say my second lap - particularly the climb back up to the summit was slow.  The weather was good and clear now and I had shed a full layer of clothes at the beginning of lap 2.  After I came back down the mountain and neared the approach to Limbach Canyon I ran up on and passed 3 mountain bikers struggling up the trail.  I saw them from about a 1/4 mile away and they worked as a good motivation to keep me from walking. 

I always have a sick satisfaction of passing people on bikes - gives me an ego boost thinking that my foot power is stronger than their pedal power.  It may be the case on steep uphill terrain - certainly not on downhills though.  In any case - I passed by them, cheerfully saying good morning and trying to make it look like my effort was so much easier than theirs.

Minutes later I was heading downhill - moments after that they came flying by me.

Fun was over - just keep moving.  I did, fairly well even.  It wasn't till about 2 miles to go that I let my mind give way to my weary legs and resorted to walking some of the uphills.  I didn't walk too much though - I had more of an attitude of just get this done with.  So my second lap ended up being only a couple of minutes slower than lap one.  Overall time for the 16 mile, 2 lap effort (with over 4650' of gain) was 3:49.

For my double double I did a combined 42 miles, over 6300' of gain and 8 hours, 19 minutes of movement on the trails.  I have never run this back to back workload in the space of a 2 day period ever.  I'm thinking it was a good investment in the endurance-o-meter bank.

Needless to say - was quite tired afterwards.  Glad it was over.  Looking forward to another good night sleep and a rest day tomorrow.  I have another double lap of a nearby loop in mind for early Friday morning. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

A good week of training hard in the books

With now less than 4 weeks to go till the 50K this past week was a tall task for me.  Started with pacing the American Discovery Trail marathon on Monday and maintaining a sub 8 minute pace for 26.3 miles.  That really worked my legs as well as that mental wasteland that is my brain for the 3 1/2 hours.  I possibly benefitted more psychologically than physically due to the need to stay focused on pace, effort and being engaged mentally throughout the entire run.  Afterwards the legs were cooked quite well as well as my brain.  But I was encouraged - despite missing the mark by a mere 6 seconds.  I had run better than I thought I could and would.

Took a rest day Tuesday and then Wednesday jumped back into it with a lap of Falcon Trail on The Air Force Academy.  This 13 mile loop with over 1300' of gain in it is a trusty training ground for me that really keeps me honest.  I hadn't been on the trail for several weeks and managed to pull off a halfway decent 2 hour and 3 minute lap.  Legs were still quite sore and I kept the effort moderate to easy - yet came out with a surprisingly faster time than I thought I would do going into it.

Thursday took a 5 mile jaunt along Santa Fe Trail - out easy and back at 8 minute pace to try and loosen up the still a little sore and quite weary legs.

Friday I woke to a steady rain and not a huge desire to get out and run.  But I had planned on getting up early and doing a good hill run before work.  2 laps of Mt Herman on tap.  16 miles and over 4650' of gain.  The first lap was a wet slog in which I was drenched before even a 1/2 mile into it.  I learnt the jacket I was wearing was not waterproof in any way, shape or form - so it was a nuisance.  Shed it after a lap - it had stopped raining by then - and did the 2nd lap 4 minutes faster.  Overall time was 3 hours 42 minutes.  Legs were more sore later in the day and the day after than after the marathon effort earlier in the week.

So, Saturday was a much needed day of rest from running.

60 miles on the week - in just 4 runs.  3 of which were good quality.  This week and next I look to do more miles in an attempt to try and recapture the fitness I had going into the 50K back in June.  I still feel like I am about 3 - 5 weeks behind where I was then and hence where I want to be.  But I am happy with the progress and hopefully if I make it through the next couple of weeks I can taper right in time to get a decent effort in for the Stump Jump 50K.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

2014 American Discovery Trail Marathon

16 hours prior to the start of the race I didn't know if I was running the race.  I had signed up several months prior to pace the 4 hour group - having completed it close to perfectly last year.  However earlier in the week before the race I was notified about doing either the 5 hour group or the 3:30 group.  I really wasn't wanting to run for 5 hours as I didn't really think it would help for the 50k training as much as a 4 hour marathon run.  I had not trained at all for a 3:30 marathon, a 4 hour one I thought I could probably pull off - not easily as I am still not in my best shape.  But I thought I could do it.

On the afternoon before race start I went to the race expo to pick up a race packet and see what the race coordinator would see.  They didn't even have it confirmed that I would pace.  We talked for a few moments and then settled on a time.  Alarmingly, it was now going to be 3:30.  8 minute per mile pace.  Gulp.

Some history with me is needed here - regarding previous marathons as well as previous races on this course.   3 years ago I set out to run a 3:30 marathon here.  I trained for it.  I started out fine, did great for about 16 miles, then held on for another 3 or 4,  Then bonked, faded and eventually finished somewhere in the 3:38 to 3:40 range.  I had run 1 other marathon since then that I set out to beat 3:30 in - in Utah, 2 1/2 years ago.  That I did break 3:30 in - by just over 10 minutes.

So, after not sleeping much at all the night before the race, knowing I was not prepared well, nor with a good history on the course, and required to run less than 11 minutes off a PR - I lined up with butterflies in my stomach, and a weight on my shoulders.  I was also surrounded by people voicing their intent to break 3:30.

It was a crisp start to the day - a beautiful Colorado morning.  I was afraid that I would not be able to look up and enjoy it much at all - instead as we started I barely was even watching where I was running, instead just fixated on my watch - the part that displayed the average per mile pace.  I was glued to it - trying to settle in as quick as possible to 7:58- to 7:59 pace.
That's me on the left holding the flag - a daunting task ahead.
The first quarter mile was slow - I was at 8:50 average when the crowd loosened up and allowed me to pick up the pace.  I sped up too quickly and soon saw the average was at 7:45 - arrgh.  I was failing before I was even 3 minutes into the race.  I slowed down and finally the watch said 7:58 average. 
Whew, I let out a long breath.  I settled in to a rhythm.  As I did I couldn't help but see the shadows beside me as the sun was coming up.  A train of 20+ people tucked in right behind me.  Watching me, relying upon me.  I felt a pressure to perform that was far greater than last year, far greater than in any other race I have been in.

The pace felt okay.  I felt like I should be able to carry it for at least halfway without having to really work too hard at it.  In hindsight running the Pikes Peak Marathon course 10 days prior - spending 5 3/4 hours on my feet, plus a 22 miler I had run on Wednesday - that at the time was miserable and slow - but had helped me get a bit of endurance training in me.  I hadn't however run 8 minute mile pace for any length of distance in many, many weeks.  So I was hoping to just rely upon some built up reserves in the past few months.

But it is pretty hard to rely on wishful thinking for 26.2 miles.  It also requires some hard work.

The miles clicked by, I stuck metronomically to the 7:58 pace - slowing marginally for the few rolling hills and occasional short and sharp climbs over the first 13.1 miles.  I hit halfway at 1:44:20.  My knees were complaining a bit but it was tolerable.  I was hydrating and fueling well also.  The group of runners with me at the half way point was now less than a half dozen.  The pressure was still on me - but all but one of the other runners seemed like they were able to hold the pace.

Sure enough, as we made our way through the Air Force Academy and eventually onto the paved trail South of Woodmen Road - it was just me and an Air Force Academy Cadet.  We had been talking on and off all morning and I had learned that he had run the Pikes Peak Marathon Course 15 days prior - in 5:18.  Kudos for him, but also encouraging for me as it was only a minute faster than my peak time 2 years ago.  I recognized a runner of similar ability as me and in reality instead of me being the pacer - he was really motivating to me.  We ran together for almost the entire race.

The last 10 miles of the course is not really enjoyable to me at all.  Way too much pavement - which after running 16 miles on trails is not kind to the legs - at all.  There are a couple of rolling stretches too that really suck a consistent pace right out of me.  This days work was starting to take it's toll.

With 4.2 miles to go I was now down to a 7:59 pace and really working quite hard to hold that.  Struggling with increasingly sore quads now but even more frustrating than that was a headwind that had started as a breeze about 2 hours prior - now was a steady wind in my face.  I was supposed to be carrying a flag showing the 3:30 pace - but each time I tried to hold it up above my head it would start blowing from side to side as well as slow me down.  So I just rolled it up and carried it for most of the 2nd half of the course.

The end was nearing, but so was my end.  I was tired, so ready to be done and not quite sure how I was still at a 7:59 pace.  However - I hadn't really been looking at the mileage markers as I passed them to mentally sync them with my watch.  Until mile 25.  It was then I realized 26.2 miles on my watch was not going to be enough.  I would need to go further to finish the course.  The problem was I was now at 8 minute flat pace - and my legs were toast, butter side down.

I tried to push that last stretch, my legs were just not listening however.  26.2 miles came and went (in 3:29:25) but the course wasn't done.  I pushed hard one more time only to see the clock tick past 3:30:00 as I came up short.


Grrr.  Not blaming the course at all.  Blaming me.  Fortunately no other runners were with me as I crossed the line - in fact the Academy Cadet had dropped the hammer down at mile 25 and finished a full minute ahead of me.  I was stoked for him.

It felt like I failed, because I really did not finish before the time limit.  Close is nice.  6 seconds was only a dozen or so steps.   Even a day and a half later - in which my quads are still very sore - I have mixed emotions about the race.   It was my second fastest marathon ever.  A course PR.  I came 39th overall (out of about 330 something finishers.  Oh and 2nd in my age group gets me an award - which I will pick up later this week.   So all that feels nice.  It surely was a help for the 50K coming up in 4 1/2 weeks too.

But I missed the time goal by 6 seconds.  The highs and lows of a runner......sigh.