Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Red Hot 55k - Race Report

I didn't know quite what to expect of this race.  I was amped to be running in Moab, but only felt fully recovered from Bandera about 12 days prior.  I got in a few 15 mile runs in between the races, but most of my runs fell in the "I'm still feeling run down and hope I don't hurt myself" category.

Looking at the finishing times from the last few years, I felt a sub-5:30 was attainable with a solid, but not hard effort.  Once the race started, I felt like I was in for a good day, and my thoughts immediately shifted to a 5:00 goal.  Well, I split the difference with a 5:16 and given it was my first time on that course, I'm happy.

I've never had a race where I crossed the finish line and immediately wanted to sign up to run it again.  I loved running in Moab as the scenery was spectacular, running surfaces varied, elevation changes manageable, and the distance was just long enough to provide plenty of time to soak it all in.  It will be difficult to keep this race off my 2012 list.

Saturday morning's weather featured temps in the 40's with serious wind (sustained 10-30 mph...all day) and spitting rain.  Everyone was shivering and just wanted to get running to warm up.  I had picked Todd G up at his hotel and we met up with Aaron K at the start.  After warming in the car a bit, we all made our way to the start.

The rain stuck around for about an hour and a half.  The first 18 or so miles are predominantly on rough jeep roads, so we never had to contend with the slippery rocks in the picture above.  This part of the course allowed plenty of room for everyone to spread out and get in their groove.

No more than 10 minutes into the race, I bumped into Rob G.  I chased Rob for the last 15 miles of Silver Rush last year and never caught him as he finished a minute ahead of me.  We chatted for a good 30 minutes while we ran.  He's giving the LT100 another shot this year, so I tried to glean as much wisdom from him that I could.

The lady above in purple is Tressa from Boulder (5th place woman).  She was running a solid pace, so from about miles 8-25, I tried to keep her in my sights.  Every time I caught up to her, she'd shoot off and take the lead right back.

Mile 10...and we're back at the start.  Well not really, but it was cool to see how high we had climbed.  It was around now that I started listening to some tunes (first time in a race).  I enjoyed it, but felt very anti-social in the stage of the race that usually I chat a bit with other runners.  A funny moment came when somehow the "Beer Barrel Polka" got queued up and started playing.  I'm not much of a polka person, but man, I had to use some willpower to resist the urge to start dancing.  It was awesome to be having my own little Oktoberfest polka party and no one knew!  Maybe they could have seen my hands bouncing the polka.

Around miles 19-20, the race transitioned to slickrock running.  I knew this was coming, but I wasn't quite prepared for the challenges it presented.  Route finding is difficult to say the least.  They marked the course very well with pink tape, but with no "trail" to follow whatsoever, any momentary zoning out could find you way off course.  There were also many more short & steep climbs.  This stretch of the course finds you running to the south the whole time.  Well, that was the direction the stiff wind was coming from.  The resistance reminded me of running Pikes last year when the wind was brutal above treeline.

Hey look...it's Tressa again!  I would end up passing her and another guy, Jason, around mile 25.  It was a huge confidence boost to feel like I was running strong towards the end.  Well, I learned there's A LOT of race left in those last 9 miles!  I also didn't care for being the one in charge for route finding after I passed them.  It was so much easier letting them figure it out and I could just follow.

Slickrock for miles!

Getting closer to the finish now.  With about 6 miles to go, I really got away from my calorie intake.  I found myself thinking that with only six miles, I could push through anything.  With 3-4 miles to go, the lunacy of that thought came back to bite me.  I started bonking and in my now cloudy brain, I didn't think to eat something to fix it.  I fumbled along until I decided to take a gel with 1.5 miles to go.  While that started to kick in, Tressa and Jason both passed me and left me in a pool of self-pity.  I was able to kick it up a notch or two, but not nearly enough to catch back up to them!

I finally snapped a pic of one of these ridiculous looking 4X4 vehicles navigating ridiculous climbs on the rock.  I can tell you I would rather run the rocks any day...than get tossed to and fro in one of those trucks.

After crossing the finish line, I immediately grabbed the clothes in my sweat bag to layer up.  The rain started back up and combined with the wind, my body temp was dropping fast.  Lo and behold I noticed they were serving hot potato and artichoke soup in breadbowls.  Normally, I can't eat anything substantial for hours after a race.  I grabbed some soup and started wolfing it down.  It was the most delicious soup I've ever had.

Overall, I had a great time in Moab.  I'm still looking for a race where I put all the pieces together.  Not one without issues or adversity, but just where I pace myself & fuel well.  Eleven weeks until the CP50 and I'm looking forward to recovering a bit before then starting a buildup to my summer races.  I feel like the worst of winter is over, and with a little more patience, excellent trail running is right around the corner.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Red Hot 55k - Quick Update

It was a windy & rainy day here in Moab.  Despite battling 20-30 mph winds for most of the race, many people posted some nice times.  Todd G. and Aaron K. both went sub-5 hr.  I finished unofficially in 5:16.  If only it was a true 50k, I would have rocked it.  My wheels came off during the last 5k.

I took a bunch of pics during the race, but I can't get them off my camera right now.  So, here's a few I took with my phone while I cruised around Arches National Park after the race.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Buffalo Run

Daniels Park is tucked up high in between Highlands Ranch and Castle Pines.  It's not the kind of park with trails, but more of the drive up and check out the view of the entire front range while sitting at a picnic table type.  Most people think you have to head up I-70 when you get a hankering to see a herd of buffalo.  If they only knew that a bunch of the brown beasts call Daniels Park home, depending on where they live, could save themselves some driving.

A round trip run to DP nets me about a 7.75 mile run.  With slushy, sloppy trails from our 60 degree day, I opted to head up on Sunday for some smooth dirt road running.  No windbreaker, gloves, hat...or other winter paraphernalia was needed.  It was glorious to run free of the layers. 

 February in Colorado!

 There was a thin wire fence separating us.

One of favorite parts of a DP run.  Views of a majestic Pikes Peak.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sunki Mountain Running Camp

Many runners who sign up for the LT100 set their sights on the under 25 hour big buckle.  On the surface, it seems like such an obtainable goal.  But when you look at the numbers, you quickly realize how elusive it can be.  I believe only about 15% of those who started last year, got the big buckle.

This will be my first LT100 and first 100 miler.  Should I just shoot for the under 30 hour finish?  Maybe.  Unfortunately that line of thinking doesn't really light a fire under my butt.  I can tell you shooting for an under 25 finish does.  Sitting here six months away from big day, I have the luxury of time to start planning now for how I'm going to make this goal a reality.

First off, I have a lot to learn from others who have been there.  Thankfully, there are gobs of race reports and other online resources to read.  The more you read about the LT100, the more you realize how many runners that succeed on other courses come to Pb and get humbled.  Next, I need to run many miles at elevation.  That's close to impossible right now, but come spring, I need to plan to go high as much as possible.  Finally, all ultras I've run to date have shown me the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fueling.  I still feel like a rookie in this area.  I have so much to learn, test out, and dial in here.

I recently heard about a four day mountain running camp in Leadville this May 25-29.  It is being run by FootfeathersLucho and looks like they've put a lot of thought and planning into providing runners a great opportunity to gear up for summer ultras.  My interest was piqued by the small size, personal attention, focus on the LT100 course, topics for discussion, and being joined by the men's & women's 2010 LT100 champs, Duncan & Liza.  How sweet it would be to sneak away for a few days of "higher" education from some folks whose paths I'd be honored to follow.

The camp is not cheap.  I debated for a few days on just going to the less expensive training camp offered by the LT100 organization...me and about 150 other people.  I also thought about scrapping both and just getting up to Pb more to run portions of the course on my own...flying by the seat of my pants style.  When comparing this opportunity to other options, it became clear to me that the camp was a step in the right direction towards the under 25 goal...not to mention a fun few days in the mountains.

I believe they have a couple spots open if anyone else is interested!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Roxborough Run

I vaguely remember telling Patrick G back in November that I wasn't sure how I was going to maintain my trail running once the snow hit.  Well, the snow has hit and I'm still runnin' trails.  Yes, it certainly is not ideal conditions, but man is it fun!

This morning I met up with Jim P, Jaime Y, and Scott J for a trek from the Sharptail Ridge trailhead over to Roxborough SP.  We hit up the Powerline-Carpenter Peak loop before heading back.

From the first step to the last, we were on snow.  The depths ranged from 1 inch to 1 foot.  There was plenty of slipping and sliding, but overall it was a tough workout and beautiful run in the hills (especially once we got to some nice, forested singletrack on the Powerline and Carpenter Peak trails).  Descending from CP was fast and fun.  Jaime wins the award for the best wipeout (although it was not witnessed by anyone).

 The boys working the ascent towards Powerline.

 Posing on the summit of CP.

About halfway down the CP trail. 

 Wearing my new Microspikes helped me plow through this snow.

 Towards the bottom of the CP trail.  I tried catching up to those fast guys to take a pic of them running, but this was the best I could do.

Love these rocks with snow on 'em.

The Map

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Minus Twelve = Treadmill

That's what our thermometer read this morning and it's only going to get worse before it gets better.  The treadmill is a last resort tool for me, and I hopped on it this morning for the first time in ten months.

I actually enjoyed it very much.  I just cruised for six miles at an 8:05 pace with the TM at a 2% grade.  For the first time in almost a month, nothing hurt while I ran.  Hmmmm...I might be on to something here.  Recovery by treadmill.  I'll be hitting it again for the next two days and I hope my body is pleased with that decision.