Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A quick check-in

Life has been a whirlwind lately. I wrapped up my internship, moved out of my trailer, was homeless for a few days, raced the Pikes Peak Marathon, and drove back to Michigan, all in less than a week. Now life is more up in the air than ever. I went from the top of the world(somewhat literally- 14,115') to being a recent college grad who awoke in his childhood bed once again in his parents house. Pimpin' aint easy.

Sam and me waiting for the press conference in Manitou Springs

One of the only podiums this lowly jogger will ever stand on.
Touring the US Olympic Training Center

...or is it? Ok, just an age group award, but cut me some slack.

Praxis? We talkin' 'bout praxis?
 A real writeup on the race to follow, but for now, discharge orders for work and trying to adjust to flat ground and god awful humidity. I'll be at the North Country Trail 50, Marathon, and Half, but just as a volunteer and amateur photographer.

Thanks to the few sponsors and the many friends who have made this the best summer ever.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pre-Taper Taper

This week was one of my best training weeks here in Boulder, even if it was of unsatisfactory mileage(the truth is starting to set in - I'm a low mileage fellow and I train like a turtle). I know how to run slow and long(that's what she...ahhh nevermind). The focus has been more on intensity than mileage or time. Since I'm racing a marathon, I've trie to run at an intensity higher than what I have been for ultras. I have no idea what to expect as I prepare for 13.3 miles of uninterrupted climbing, but its still a 26.2 mile race. The advice given to first timers at Pike's is usually along the lines of "plan to take 1.5 times as long as a regular marathon." Even in that case, it would still be my shortest race of the year. Remembering to keep focus and stay present-minded while my legs and lungs burn is my demon to face in a week, and this was my final preparatory week.

I've found that my training is similar to former 100k record holder Bernd Heindrich, author of my favorite running book "Why We Run" (sorry Born to Run, I prefer less embellishing). Heindrich ran multiple times daily and trained his body to run the pace he needed for his goals, disregarding available information and continually experimenting on himself. I'm not alone in this matter, but his documentation of his training struck a chord with me. I'm not anywhere near his numbers, but I think that given my current level of newbie-ness, my 70ish mile weeks are about right. I've force out more, but I'm not sure that my body is ready yet. I've only been running "seriously" for 3 years or so, which makes me think that I don't quite have the base for high mileage running yet. I feel better now than I ever have, even when running more.

That being said, I'm spending way more time in my running shoes than ever before. My sparse running this week tallied up to be nearly 14 hours. That's what happens when your slow- you get lots of time in on less miles. I like to think it builds strength, which will eventually translate into speed.

15miles(guestimation) - Indian Peaks/Devils Thumb with Jason. While my partner in crime for unprepared, ill-equipped long runs was in town, we had to make sure we still had a knack for dumb shit. We were gone nearly 5 hours, but lots of sight seeing, pondering, and playing in creeks kept the mileage down. Still a good amount of time on our feet and some incredible wistas on the snowy ridges. I felt no fatigue after the run, which gives me a little hope for the coming adventures.

AM- 8 miles - Mount Sanitas -Goat Path East Ridge Trail up, Sanitas Trail/Mapleton home. Discouragingly slow climb, but I was feeling the high altitude climbs in my legs from the previous day. Bombed the downhill and felt like I was skiing.

PM - 4 miles - Testing out my Branca Running Sandals(review to come). 100 degrees on the Boulder Creek Path A couple speedy sections on the path, but the heat prevailed at the end when I slowed it down.

AM - 6 miles - A fairly speedy climb up Gregory Canyon to Green Man, then Saddle Rock and some of the Bluebird trail. Makeshift speedwork sesh  on the way up. When I felt myself getting fatigued to the point where I would normally walk, I sped up until I was completely exhausted, walked a few steps, then restarted the process. Worked pretty well and helped me power up those god awful sections of stairs.

PM - 6 miles - Night run on the Boulder Creek Path. Felt fast, but I wasn't wearing a watch.

AM - 5 miles - Took the Creek Path to work. It's pretty cool that I can run all the way to work without actually touching a road. I'ts mostly a paved bike path, but at least there are no cars to contend with. Held a 7:30ish pace with a 25lb backpack on at a comfortable cruising speed. Wearing a watch only occasionally has proven to have little impact on my speed in either direction. Got to work, taught an aerobics class, gave a swim lesson, and taught a weight lifting/spinning class. Failed to be a hardass and bummed a ride home from work instead of running. What a clown.

10 miles - Flagstaff trail up to the summit, tenderfoot, divide view trail, tenderfoot, summit, flagstaff trail back down. Seems like every thirty feet of trail has a name. Makes for easy navigation I suppose. This run was bit different. Since I know I can sustain movement for the 4-100000 hours it will take me to do the Pikes Peak Course, I only ran when I could run fast. When I wasn't cranking along, I simply stopped and took a breath. I want my body to become accustomed to race pace, so race pace will be run in this abrupt taper. Stopped once to realize I was standing in the middle of a herd of deer.

AM - not running, but a sprint workout with the elite wheelchair racers on the track. I served as a draft and a rabbit for 800s. To make it more difficult for me, the slob with access to gearing, I put my bike in the highest gear to trash my quads. It must have worked- my upper legs were trashed on both sides.

PM - 7 miles - Ampitheater trail, mesa trail, and royal arch trails. On uphills I ramped up the intensity when exhaustion started to set in, then stopped and waited to feel better when I got dizzy. Repeat. Probably the last really intense run before Pikes.

Columbia Muddy Buddy Mud Ride/Run
Boulder Reservoir
1 hour of running, biking, climbing, swamp crossing, and mud wrastlin'! Similar to Warrior Dashes, Urbanathlons, and other badass events.

Sam and I partered up and gave the tough course a go with matching shirts and matching hangovers from the night before(thanks, Dickerson twins). We traded off the riens of my late cousin Mike's trusty green steed Gary(I call the bike Gary not because it's a Gary Fisher, but rather named him after the snail on Spongebob).

my team mates, Samantha and Gary.

The race was tough, but it was an absolute blast. From a training standpoint, it was a great combination of speedwork and cross training. Sam and I just missed a podium by less than a minute. I playfully dunked my face in the mud in the final pit, temporarily blinding myself...ooops.

We won...4th place! Sam is a bit tougher than I.

I also got the chance to jump back in the mud for the Mini Muddy Buddy Race. My supervisor(for the next three days) brought her 4 year old son to the race, so he asked me to be his buddy for the mud madness. Helping a kid play in the mud is like helping a fish swim.
My Mini Muddy Buddy(center) and Me(muddy giant on left).
Go Jayden!
Where were these races when I was a kid in a kids body
instead of a kid in an adults body?

I kind of liked the mud in my hair, so I left it to gross people out at the store on the way home.
 Another easy 2 miler to the store so Sam could make some delicious cookies.

And there you have it, my last full week in Boulder, Colorado. It makes me sad just typing it.

70 miles or so. I feel like I really found my groove just in time to leave. Par for the course.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Seem to Dislike Numbers Lately

I've been semi-diligently keeping record of my mileage for over a year now. Some of the weeks have been good, others pretty damned laughable.

For the past couple weeks, my time on a computer has been spent responding to emails or sitting in my office(okay, OR planning which bar to go to).

Since my post about Pikes Peak Marathon, I've put up some decent days of running, but haven't really been recording it. Averaging about 10-14 miles a day, but taking 2 days off for a campout in Estes Park. A few ascents of Green Mountain here in Boulder, a nice faster effort on the trails of Chatauqua with ultra beast Ely P, and an amazingly beautiful 5 hour excursion with Jason Robillard at Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.

I foolishly left my camera in the car,
so all you get to see is the two bums that uglied up the trail.

Jason seems to have hopped on the short shorts bandwagon.

I'm in a state of shock about my stay in Boulder being over already. A mud race with Sam next weekend, Pikes Peak the next, and I'm home. A return home is comforting and terrifying all at once. For some reason, I thought I'd have life sorted over these three months. I've only learned just how lost I am, and just how I'd love for it to stay that way.

sunrise in Eldora as Jason and I left the Hessie trailhead

Monday, August 1, 2011

I've Been Invited to Do a Little Hill Workout

In the midst of preparing for my first 100 miler, I've been taught that you never know when an opportunity is going to present itself.

A couple months back, I wanted to make sure that I at least ran a couple great mountain races while I spent what could be my only summer in Colorado. I had been given the opportunity of a lifetime to pursue a career helping people find joy in sports and recreation, while training on the world's most beautiful terrain at the same time. Races provide me with a venue to meet others who are passionate about getting outside and catching a glimpse of how we used to live, when all that mattered was the hunt. When running races, I feel a flow state that is unmatched during all but the best training runs. With these things in mind, I searched for a few races of varying distances that would help me take advantage of the chance to live a dream.

The setback, as I found out, is that I'm not alone. Many of the most popular races in the Colorado area had sold out shortly after registration opened. I settled on a focused phase of training for the Leadville 50mile(as can be read in my race report, I wasn't quite as prepared as I would like to have been). This works well with regard to timing because the 50 mile mountain race would serve as a pillar of my training for the Woodstock 100 miler back home. I'd be able to continue my relaxed lifestyle of volunteering with those with disabilities, doing odd jobs to get by, and running wherever and whenever motivation and my schedule deemed it possible. I knew I'd get through a 100miler on what I was doing, as long as I worked hard and kept my mileage and training consistent.

Bored at work, I decide to check my personal messages. A message shows up in my inbox from a sender named PPM. I open it to read that it was the race director from the Pikes Peak Marathon. Of the ten available spots offered to "competitive" runners, I was offered one. I read it at least three times to make sure I was reading it right. I then checked the name of the intended recipient so I could forward it to them and correct their mistake. I checked every possible explaination before I finally had to accept what had just happened: I was invited to compete as an elite runner in the most challenging marathon in the U.S.

When I was trying to assemble a race schedule, I checked out the Pikes Peak race as a possible event to run. When attempting to register, I soon realized that I was several months late- the race filled up in just over an hour. The only way to get into this year's race was to apply for competitive entry. I figured, "what the hell? I've got some decent times. I look alright on paper." I pooled some resources and begged for some favors to aid in my attempt to convince the RD that I was a worthy opponent for an elite field. Though I knew stranger things had happened, I still felt as though I was wasting my time. I could throw a rock in Colorado and hit someone who could beat me up that peak.

A few weeks had passed and I heard nothing. The 29th was the last day for notification, and it came and went without a 13.3 mile red carpet being rolled out before me. I shrugged it off and went about my summer. Life was still great.

...What I had failed to notice was that I was looking at the wrong 29th. July 29th was the last day for elite entries. I was messaged on the 28th. Was I a first choice? Doubtful, but to be considered for such an honor didn't seem possible even 6 months ag(shit, 6 days ago).

Back to this email. I emphatically replied, accepting the invitation before anyone changed their mind. I really just agreed to run up a damned 14,000 foot mountain. As if that weren't grandiose enough, I also agreed that I had a shot at doing faster than 99% of the feild. How can a self-loather like myself make such a commitment?

Can I do it? Who knows? All I know is that there's at least one person out there who thinks so. As I mentioned before, there are several stronger runners who could fill this spot. The thing is that they didn't. I did. This is my spot now, and I'll be damned sure that I earn it. I can't promise or even predict any results, but I can lay my head down tonight knowing that I'm preparing to give it hell this time. I may never get an opportunity to do anything like this again, so ready or not, here it comes. I'll run as best I can on that given day. It's all anyone can ask, even me.

With any luck the short notice will allow me to get in some focused workouts and decent mileage before I walk into the press conference on the 18th of August.

My life has been great to me, and I'm thankful beyond words.

If this works out, the next thing added to my "action items" list is to rob Fort Knox with a slingshot.

...My first day of PPM training included a nice tumble on Green Mountain.
Don't say I wouldn't bleed for it.
(and then whine and expect lots of attention)