Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey Day 5K

We hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving yesterday. We tried something new. Tanya & I both ran in a local 5K race with about a thousand other people. Scott & Catrina also ran it.

It was a great event and I definitely think it could become a Thanksgiving tradition in the years to come. They also have a short "Kids Run" right after which the girls may take part in next year.

It was quite chilly and overcast, but with the right clothing...and about a mile of running under our belts, we were toasty warm.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Denver Marathon Recap

I was hoping to title this post "Boston or Bust", but unfortunately, my attempt to qualify for Boston was the bust. I needed a 3:15:59 to qualify and I was on pace for about a 3:13...then "The Wall" came at mile 22. I knew I was so close and thought if I could just push it a few more miles I would make it in time. Every attempt to pick up the pace lasted seconds before I slowed way down. It just wasn't meant to be. I came across the finish at 3:19:39.

The race was great and I had a lot of fun. Almost 10,000 runners on a warm, sunny day. I love running through downtown Denver and the city parks. One of my favorite moments was seeing a woman sitting in a lawn chair holding a sign that read, "If Palin can run, so can you!". Not to get political here...but whether you like her or've got to admit that is pretty funny!

I had so much fun this year with the marathons and other races. I'm extremely happy (and a little sad) that it's over. I'm completely at peace with not qualifying for Boston this year. I know I'll get other chances in the future. My first thought after crossing the finish line was....REST! I'm looking forward to taking it easy for awhile. Who knows what 2009 will bring?? I'm pretty sure it won't be three marathons in 29 days.

A big congratulations goes out to my cousin Scott! He bested his previous 1/2 marathon time by about four minutes. He finished with a 1:33:41. We had planned to run together, but it got so crowded at the start, that we never found each other.

A big thanks goes out to Tanya & the girls for showing up at FIVE spots along the course and the finish line. I can't tell you how cool it is to see their cute faces when you're struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Up Next...Denver!

This was a shot taken by one of the photographers out on the course of the Boulder Marathon back in September.

This Sunday is the Denver Marathon. I'm pretty excited about it because it's the closest I've come to running in a "big" marathon. They're expecting 8,500 runners this year. The atmosphere is electric and the course is really cool. The race director of the Boston Marathon is also the director of Denver, so needless to say, it's very well organized.

I've had two weeks now to dwell on the fact that I missed qualifying for Boston by 12 seconds. I'm going to give this one my all and try to qualify this time. That means I need to finish in 3:15:59. I'd like to say that I'm ready and going to do it, but I've learned you never really know what is going to happen out there, so you just hope for the best. So far the weather is looking great compared to last year.

My cousin Scott is running in the Denver 1/2 marathon on Sunday. My friend James is going to run in the San Diego Marathon (his first!) next May. The three of us are coming together tonight to get pumped up and watch "Spirit of the Marathon". It just came out on DVD. I saw this movie in the theater last May while it was on tour around the US. You probably haven't heard of it, so click on the link below and watch the trailer. Maybe it will inspire you to run one!

Spirit of the Marathon

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

NH Marathon Recap

On Saturday morning, I ran in the New Hampshire Marathon. This race is small & cozy. So many aspects of the race make you feel like you're stepping into a Norman Rockwell painting. The weather was just right for running (cold & cloudy) and my family was once again an amazing support along the course. Here are some highlights...and one big lowlight:

- The local high school band was all setup at the start playing some rousing songs!

- The race director ascended a ladder to yell instructions to the runners lined up at the start. When he raised the pistol for the actual start, he pulled the trigger and we heard nothing but a faint "click". After a few mild grumblings, he adjusted the pistol and produced the desired "BANG"!

- The first water station was sponsored by the American Legion. There were eight veterans in their seventies & eighties...all dressed in military uniforms...standing in line with cups of water & Gatorade for the runners. To add to the scene was loud "bugle" music playing from a CD player.

- About 45 minutes in, I heard someone on a bike coming up behind me. It was a man in his seventies with a bright red jacket. The words "Marathon Coach" were printed on the back. He told me, "I'm out here to encouraged you all along. I've done 76 of these, so I know a little about what you're going through!" He rode by me several more times shouting things like "Great Form" and "You're looking strong". He rocked!

- All throughout the course I was treated to beautiful leaves, chimneys with smoke puffing out, and a cool crisp breeze...there was no mistaking Fall was all around.

- When I hit the critical miles around 18-22, I overcame some hills and realized I still had some gas (the good "energy" kind) in the tank! My family was stationed at mile 21 and gave me a HUGE, much needed boost.

- When I arrived at the finish, my nieces Lauren & Dana, ran the last tenth of mile with me! Little Zoe tried to join them, but couldn't keep up!

- When I crossed the finished line, the clock read 3:16:11. I was shooting for a 3:20, so I was ecstatic to come in below that and finish in the top ten.

Now for the big lowlight:

My brother informed me yesterday that I had my facts incorrect pertaining to qualifying times for the Boston Marathon. I "thought" I needed a 3:10:59 to qualify...and that next year I would gain an extra five minutes when I turn thirty-five. No, beginning at the end of September, they opened up qualifying for the 2010 Boston Marathon and even though I wasn't 35 on Saturday, my qualifying time would be 3:15:59 now since I'd be 35 by the time the 2010 BM came around. This all boils down to the fact that I missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon by 12 seconds. Ugh.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Boulder Marathon Recap

The Boulder Marathon is in the books. It started with meeting Scott at 4:45am to begin our trek up to Boulder. We arrived while it was still dark out, but the sun made it's appearance shortly thereafter and the marathon began at 7am. Scott ran in the 1/2 marathon and was kind enough to drive us up there even though it meant he had to wait around an hour before the 1/2 started at 8am.

Those clouds you see in the background were a huge bonus for the day. They stayed around for several hours and kept the sun away while the air was perfect for running. The marathon went well. I didn't know this course at all, but enjoyed the run through the backroads of Boulder. It was very scenic as we ran on dirt roads through farmlands that featured the mountains is a backdrop.

All was going well until I hit a four mile stretch of uphill running around mile 17. It was much steeper and longer than I had anticipated. The end result was I burned through all my reserve energy and my pace drastically dropped. The last 5 miles were slow going. Fortunately, I had built up a nice cushion so I was still able to beat my previous marathon best time by about a minute. I came across the finish at 3:27:56.

Scott also had a personal record for the half. He completed it in 1:37:28. He's going to give the Denver Half Marathon a go in about a month and I predict he's going to set another PR! He also gets extra props for going straight to the Broncos game after the race...without a shower!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

78.6 miles to go...

This Sunday is my first marathon of the year. I'm going to be running in the Boulder Marathon. I've had a great summer of training and am feeling ready and excited.

This Fall I'm shooting for three marathons in twenty-nine days. It's going to be a stretch, but I think I can recover quick enough to be ready for the next one. In two weeks, I'll be heading off to visit my family and run in the New Hampshire Marathon...and then it's back to CO for the Denver Marathon.

Needless to say, my running has been a huge part of my life. It is a way to relieve stress, while feeling alive! By that I mean, it gives me the chance to use my body & mind to it's fullest extent. Running builds space into my life to relax (I know you're thinking there are much better ways to relax than while huffing it for 20+ miles). Overtime, the discomfort of running has done a 180 and now I look forward to it. I don't listen to music, so I usually have a lot of quiet, early morning time to think while I run. I have never appreciated sunrises as much as I do on my runs (the above photo was from my last training run on Thurs AM). I've come to value this "space" that is a refuge when the rest of life's demands press in.

The actual marathons are more of a celebration of the journey to get there. Thousands of runners coming together...all with unique journeys and reasons to run...all attempting to accomplish the same goal that is 26.2 miles away. For some reason the whole experience is very powerful. I'm thankful to be a part of it.

I didn't mean to give a sermon here, but thought I'd share a bit about why I do this.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Glenwood Canyon Run

Glenwood Canyon is one of the prettiest stretches of I70 in Colorado. If you've driven through it before, you know what I mean.

Well, in keeping with my tradition of going for a "fun" run on our trips, I ventured out of Glenwood Springs and followed the bike path that is nestled between I70 & the Colorado river. I didn't run the entire canyon, as that out & back run would have equaled a marathon. Managed about 20 miles instead.

My first attempt had me heading out for the run at 5:00am on Saturday. I was looking forward to an early morning run and catching the sunrise. As expected, it was dark out and as I got to the entrance of the canyon I felt like I was standing on the edge of a black hole. There were no lights and it kind of freaked me out. That combined with the fact that there was early morning lightning all around me...I decided to turn back after only a mile.

Take two occurred later that morning and it was a much better experience. The canyon was beautiful and a totally different perspective seeing it by foot versus flying through at 65. If you ever get the chance to bike it, raft it, or run it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tanya climbs a 14er!

I've been trying for some time now to get Tanya to climb a 14er with me. Initially, I got the "not in a million years" response. Well, as you can see I finally got her to stand at 14K feet with me. Sure she drove up and hiked the last 130 feet...that doesn't matter. What matters is that she has caught the bug and felt that amazing feeling of standing on "top of the world".

I'm even more excited because she has tentatively agreed to hike a 14er with me this summer! Plans are still in the works, but it will be so cool to climb one together.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Coming around this corner...I could easily look up and see the summit. More enjoyable than seeing the summit was the white furry spectators that were eyeing me down. The mountain goats are pretty famous on Mt. Evans and I had been hoping to see some.

Before the race started, I saw this guy that looked familiar. I couldn't really place him, but then it hit me...I had read about him in "Colorado Runner" magazine. His name was Matt Carpenter. He is considered to be the best high altitude mountain runner in the world. He has set all kinds of course records for races at altitude. What's his secret? Here's a quote taken from his website, "He has the highest recorded VO2 by a runner, 90.2 VO2 (average rate for non-athletes is 44-51; average for athletes is 60-84). This lung capacity test is a measurement of the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to the muscles."

Did I mention he's set all kinds of records? Here's a taste of what I'm talking about. He is the 5 time winner of the Everest SkyMarathon Tibet (4 at 14,350', 1 at 17,060') and current course record holder. Check out his full bio here: Matt Carpenter Bio

My first thought when I saw him was...what the heck am I doing running in a race with HIM!! But, after the shotgun start, I didn't see him the rest of the day. That was because he was too busy sprinting up the mountain. Yes, he broke the 31 year old course record for the Mt Evans Ascent. He ran it in 1:37:01. That would be a 6:42/mile pace!! Too bad he ran it so fast because I bet he didn't get to enjoy the scenery as much as I did!! :-)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Up, Up and Away...

I thought for sure the altitude was going to be the problem for me this race. It was definitely more difficult to breath, but that wasn't nearly as troublesome as the lead legs I developed from running uphill for so long. I slowed to a walk at several aid stations to get something to drink and couldn't believe how difficult it was to get back into a running pace again. My legs just didn't want to cooperate.

The scene above was one that frequently took place. I would come around a corner only to see a steep incline with a series of unforgiving switchbacks. That's me at the bottom and those little specks at the top were runners that were way, way ahead of me.

There were two small sections of downhill running. At mile 9 and mile 11. I got so giddy that I almost broke into a sprint because it felt so good to change it up. Those brief changes in elevation were just that...brief. They were always followed by more uphill trudging.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lucky #14 goes 14 miles to 14K feet!

When I pulled my bib out of the envelope and looked at the number...I knew I was in for a great race! Don't worry, I'm not at all superstitious. It was just a fun number to get in light of the event.

The race was absolutely incredible. It was incredibly beautiful and incredibly difficult. Nothing could have prepared me for the challenge of 14.5 miles of uphill running at that altitude. Fortunately, I wouldn't change anything! The scenery was amazing and a great distraction from the discomfort.

I was very leery to set any goals for this race other than to finish. But I couldn't resist. My goals were to: 1. Never stop running. 2. Finish with a time of 2:30:00. 3. Finish in the top 10% of runners.

Well, I succeeded with #1. Although by the end you could hardly tell I was running. I missed #2 by just a bit. I finished at 2:34:22. I didn't really come close with #3. There were so many great runners there. I finished in 71st place out of the 374 finishers.

A BIG thanks goes out to Kristi & Shannon for watching our girls so Tanya could come to the race. She was an excellent photographer...catching some outstanding scenic shots. She took so many that I thought it warranted a slideshow. The show will also give you a good taste for what the race was like.

2008 Mt. Evans Ascent from CO Runner on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

15 miles up...

I'm two weeks away from the Mt. Evans Ascent (14 miles to 14K feet). I had planned on just winging it come race day since it's a little difficult to train for fourteen miles of uphill running at altitude.

A couple days before our camping trip, I had a brilliant idea. Why not try a high altitude jog? Why not find one that is all uphill? The campground was at 8900' and Vail Pass (10600') was about 15 miles away. Both were connected by the bike path that ran right through our campground.

Let's just say my brilliant idea was more like a brutal idea. I ventured out on my run while Tanya took the girls to the outlets in Silverthorne (wait...weren't we supposed to be camping??). A few hours later she did find me totally spent at the top of Vail Pass.

This bike path is amazing. It was probably the most beautiful run I've been on to date and I'm happy to say that I'll never voluntarily choose to see it this way ever again. This shot was taken with my cell phone.

Here's my GPS log:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sniff, Sniff...

I said yesterday, that it's cool when your loved ones are at the finish to cheer you across the line. Well, it's even cooler when they give you hugs and want to stand by you even though you are drenched with sweat and smell like a pig sty.

Zoe takes it even a step further. She finds it funny to come up to me and take an up close, big whiff of my B.O. before she announces, "Yuckers, you stink!"

You'd think she wouldn't need to perform the sniffing action after doing this 10+ times...but she still does.

Monday, May 19, 2008

CO Colfax 1/2 Marathon Recap

The race yesterday was very fun for me (minus the 6am start). The weather was perfect and the newly designed course was much flatter than the previous 1/2 marathon course. I usually train on hills, so even the gentle incline felt flat to me.

About 5 miles in, I started getting the feeling that I was going too fast. My fear was that I'd run out of gas too early. Fortunately, that didn't happen and I kept chugging along. I was shooting for a 1:35:00. As you can see, I was very pumped to come under that. My actual chip time was: 1:32:37 (I know...Tanya already gives me a lot of flack about having to be exact down to the second. It's a runner's thing.)

At the finish, I was greeted by Tanya & the girls...and Nana! She's been out visiting and I give them all big props for heading out the door at 6:30am to get downtown and make it to the finish. It's such a cool feeling to be finishing a race and see the faces of your loved ones right there!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

2008 Race Season

It’s the start of race season this weekend. At least for me that is. This Sunday, I’m running in the Colorado Colfax ½ marathon. Last year I ran the full marathon and the ½ marathon the year before.

My best time for a ½ marathon is 1:43:38. That was the Denver ½ Marathon in 10/06. I’m going to shoot for a new personal record somewhere in the range of 1:35:00 - 1:38:00. That would equate to a 7:15-7:30/mile pace and is a big stretch for me. I’m not sure if I can maintain that pace for 13 miles, but I’ll give it a shot.

This race is actually a tune up for a very exciting one next month. Click on the link to check out my next race: America’s Highest Road Race