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: