Friday, December 24, 2010

Your Gifts to Me

So the current header was intended to be seasonal.  I had expected that it would last a few months and then when the snow started to fly it would have to be replaced.  Yeah, about that.  Seeing as it is supposed to be almost 60 degrees on Christmas I suppose it will do for a little while longer.

So I'm currently doing background work on a 27 part series about "not listening to the voices".  To prepare and to do research I've been listening to the voices for the last week or so.  The voices say things like "You don't need to run" and "Hey I bet we can find the last hidden stash of peppermint bark!" and "couches are a most lovely invention".

Running is lurking, but that voice can't currently be heard above the din of the mob calling for seconds of deep fried Twinkies coated with chocolate served with a cup of "schnikes! how'd I get so fat?"

On that festive note, Merry Christmas to all.  If you were still struggling with what to get me as a gift, what I would like is a nice hard run done by you, on my behalf.  Think of it as a training gift card that is good for one tempo ten miler.  That should do nicely... thanks!  (For my birthday I'm hoping for a 30 mile training run on trails, just so you know.  The ones that are under six hours are really nice.)

Merry Christmas

p.s. My coach told me I needed to post more often.  I'm not sure this is what she had in mind.
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Laziness is Good

Hello internet denizens.  How are you today?

I am lazy.  And this is a good thing.

Or at least I have decided it must be a good thing.  Here is my rationale:

I need to lose the piano (it might be down to a harpsichord) I've been carrying around for the last few years.  Add to this the fact that I am quite lazy in many regards.  My understanding is that being lazy means that you sit around and don't do anything.  Thus I should be good at NOT doing things because I have a whole boat load of practice being lazy.  Also, scientific research seems to show, that NOT eating gratuitous amounts of food will lead to you NOT having to ask for an extender belt on the airplane.   (mmmm tasty double negatives...) The problem is people don't take their laziness far enough.  They are lazy enough to sit on the couch and watch a 24 hour Pawn Stars marathon, but THEN (horror of horrors) they decide to do something like reaching over to the built in sofa fridge, pull out a mound of cheese-covered side pork, and start the very strenuous activity of noshing.  If they were really taking their laziness to the next level, they wouldn't think of making the effort of lifting their arm and grabbing something, and then raising a utensil (fingers, dive into the bowl?) to their mouth repeatedly.

Thus emerges the equation -  If L then D, which causes NE.  If you are truly lazy then you won't do things, like eat gratuitous amounts of food, which causes No Extender!  Yeah!  For the first time, not doing things, will lend themselves to my benefit!  And to the lifespan of my belt!  Here's to not doing a bunch of things.

This is what I like to call logic!  :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Housemates Have Got to Go!

Pregnant Humor!
Image via BuzzFeed

What is it about "long" runs that produce deep thoughts?  I'm sure Jack Handey has something to say about that.  During a run this last Saturday and afterwards in a "Deep Thoughts" conversation with teh wifey/coach, I thought a lot about self-doubts.  Let's be honest here, I have a lot of them  ( like, I'm not sure that I will ever be able to play disc golf for a living).  And for a long time I've let them rule the roost.  These things are powerful, they are not easily cast aside, especially when they've been entrenched for a long time and have grown comfortable in their surroundings.  (Mine have a nice butt groove going on the living room couch.)  So how do you cast them off? How do you get rid of the unwanted cohabitants? By what means do you free yourself to go and take the risks necessary to fail and grow and try again and finally "succeed"?  Why did I ever make the horrific decision to watch Coccoon II:  the Return?  All good questions.

In a coincidence, there was an article about that exact topic over at Zen Habits, a site I occasionally peruse (I also peruse this occasionally).  I liked the article, (my inadequate in-sentence summary of which is, go try, see/measure the successes you are actually having, and keep trying until you succeed more) but there was still doubt in my mind about this approach (shocking!)  Getting out and trying seems like a good first step to success, but seeing the success is where it seems to break down.  Those of us carrying around a backpack full of self-doubts (or Yoda) have a hard time seeing any success at all.  In fact what frequently happens is that we try and then at the first sign of failure, all the familiar dialogue lines come out.  "This will never work."  "There is no hope."  or "There is NO WAY I can get a gigantic X-Wing out of that mud hole by using a knobby stick and frowning a lot!"  Or even when the encouragers in our life try to help us see the success we poo poo it or pass it off as "they don't know what they are talking about!"  So what to do?

I don't have any superlative answers, but here is my three step program of what I'm going to try.

1.  Do it.  Stop waiting, procrastinating, making excuses, wasting time in distractionary activities, and engage.
2. Silence the voices in my head.  (Earplugs?)
3. If it doesn't work go to #1.  (GoTo Loops are my BASIC programming speciality)


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Personal Ads

So I normally deflect, obscure, and muddy the waters.  I ask questions, I turn things around, I ask how you are doing.  I change the subject, I make obscure references to SpaceBalls, and I determine whatever it is you're interested in and engage my curiosity.   BUT I rarely ever get "personal".

Except today.

A while back (can't give away the D.O.B. of course...) we had a major change in our family.  Our fourth child was born.  No really.  It happened.  We were all surprised, for many reasons.    "Luke" is a little bundle of miracles and cuteness.  The three year old daughter is hopefully done praying for God to "change him" to a sister.  Given all we've been through, including all the parts of the roller coaster which is life, I didn't think I would ever see this little guy, but he is here.  The coach aka teh wifey wrote a summary of her thoughts over here.  (Warning:  There are no discussions about Yoghurt, Spaceballs the Flamethrower, or Combing the Desert.  I know, I'm trying.) Though I'm probably passing the buck as usual, she expresses our sentiments pretty well.

God is good.  I have a beautiful family and they are one of the greatest joys of my life.

p.s. How are you doing?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A blog post - also, I hired a coach.

Butchers' coachImage via Wikipedia
In my preparation for doing ridiculous things like oh you know taking a second shot at the "ultra which will not be named", I have pulled out all the stops.  No stone will go unturned in my preparations this time around.  In fact I have hired a professional coach.  (no not that kind)  She is the most knowledgeable person about running I know.  She is herself extremely fast, has incredible endurance, and has a storied running career.  Plus she has coached very successful athletes including winning college athletes and one who went on to be on national teams and win Leadville.  If you want to hire her on for your own training, good luck, she charges a lot.

One of the first steps in engaging her as a coach was to agree to do another blog post (she likes reading them).  Though I don't think she thought this would be the topic. The other step was to agree to do some of the things she tells me to do.  That one may be debatable...  By the way did I mention that she is in every imaginable way hawtsawss?

I think the coaching and accountability will help.  The custom training plan she produced has some serious long runs, some races in the buildup and way more miles than I even want to think about right now.  However it is smart as well, recovery days, build up cycles, it's the good stuff.  There are forty-one weeks to go.  I guess I'd better get running.

Thanks for the plan honey*.

p.s. The check is in the mail....

* = tehwifey/spouseof12years/bestfriend/ubermom/fastestchicaIknow

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Power Pellets

Many arcade games use 3:4 portrait mode to eff...Image via Wikipedia
I think I've started again.  For someone like me there is no such thing as a casual five mile run.  There has to be a reason.  Especially when it is on the treadmill.  So what reason is there to go do this.  Today I don't even know.  As usual it probably has to come down to doing something crazy.  Right now that is mostly just changing the status quo.

The last two months have been a down hill slide.  Not one of the slip 'n slides where you get a huge running start, leap into the air and slide about ten inches and wind up with a giant rug burn on the entire length of your body.  No I'm talking that tube of death at the water park that sends you straight down at 40mph, faster than your lunch that you left flying at the top of the ride.  Very little running, really bad eating, a whole lot of apathy all adds up to a big pork loin sandwich of /fail.


The game isn't over yet.  I've still got a few quarters lined up on the machine, and I intend to master my Pac Man pattern until I roll this bad boy.

Yeah, its going to take some big changes, yeah I'll probably try something dumb like running Leadville again, yeah the odds, as well as Inky, Blinky, and Clyde are stacked against me.

My reaction?  Ready!
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Well, I've been dabbling in a new hobby of late.  They call it running.  I'm not sure if it will stick, but I may give it a try.  I hear they have some beginner races called ultramarathons that I may have to give a try.  I figure 5-6 next year with a couple of 100 milers should be pretty easy.  I don't want to push it or anything.  Anyway, if you get around to it, y'all should try this running thing...if you like being all sweaty and sore and like breathing hard and stuff.  Sickos.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Hi.  How is your running going today?

This is funny.  I had this conversation about Leadville about a million times....

(Warning there is a bad word in it.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Race Report - Leadville Part 3 of 3, No really, I end it this time

Heading out of Mayqueen, once I hit the single track I actually started to feel better.  The sun was coming up and just feeling the warmth brought back some life.  I had run this section before (at least until I lost the trail on a training run) and felt pretty good.  I knew I had to make some time up so I was pushing the pace and actually passed a couple of people in this section.  The first few miles are really fun single track on the Colorado/Continental Divide trail.  After that, you hit Hagerman road which is a long gradual incline that takes you up to the trail which takes you over Sugarloaf pass.  I actually felt pretty good on this section.  I was power hiking up the hill and felt like I was making pretty good time.  At one point as I approached the top I looked back and could see all the way to the start of the race, past MayQueen, past Turquoise Lake it was a beautiful site.  I actually was pretty happy at that moment to be right where I was, running the race and just being in some wonderful mountains.

Coming down Sugarloaf - photo by Serious Running
If the trip up was my moment of enjoying Leadville, then once I reached the top my racing brain reminded me that I needed to get a move on.  The cutoff was going to be tight and I needed to make up time.  I did NOT want to have my band cut at Fish Hatchery for goodness sake!  The run down was tough. Very steep sections along  the course and my feet were starting to hurt.  Not blisters or rubbing just swelling a bit.  It was a little disconcerting because I was only twenty miles in or so.  This section more than any I felt like not having run in four weeks was contributing to bad feelings and probably mostly my mental state.  Some of the downhill on this section was hard for me to even run do to its steepness.  Once I made it off the hill, I started looking for the Fish Hatchery aid station which we had visited the day before.   It was one of those times where you keep thinking "its got to be around this corner!" and then it isn't.  Rinse and repeat for another mile or two.  I was on paved road and a long straight section when I finally saw someone walking towards me.  It was a race official with a radio.  This fully engaged my freak out.  I was getting close to the 6 hour cutoff for Fish Hatchery, what was going to happen here?  As I approached he looked at his watch a couple times and shook his head at me.  Finally as I was passing by he said "You are right on the cusp of not making it.  You have 1.5 miles to go and a couple of hills.  IF you run HARD the whole way you MIGHT make it."    My response?


Oh and then I remembered how crappy I was starting to feel.  However there was no choice, I was not about to quit and not about to let them cut my band.  So I ran, HARD.  I wasn't moving fast, but it felt like an all out sprint.  As I approached the entrance to the aid station one of the crew was there walking towards me and yelling.  We had coached many years together long ago (wrestling) and I knew by the look on his face what kind of response I was going to get.

 "COME ON ACE YOU NEED TO GO NOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!!!  GET MOVING!  YOU NEED TO RUN!  FASTER!  MOVE IT!!!!"  I paraphrase.  It was just what I needed.  I was totally anaerobic/red line at that point and wanted to die, but he and the other crew got me through the finish line in about two minutes under the cut off.  I went through the aid station and medical check (optional I guess at that point because I just walked past,) and they "crewed" me up.  What an awesome crew!  Once again I wouldn't have made it without them.  I ran the last 1.5 miles in under 10 minutes / mile which is smoking for me.   I asked the crew when I made it, "Did I just sprint 1.5 miles so I could go another two hours??"  Their response was "Yes now hurry up!"

Next up was the long straight stretch to Half Moon II aid station.  This section was a mental battle.  The first part is the most boring part of the course, a lot of it on paved, flat roads where you can see out through the entire valley.  I was struggling mentally here to be honest.  My body was hurting, a lot more than I thought it would at this point.   My shin was acting up (though in a different spot) and another cutoff was looming.

I wanted to give up on this section, but I don't think I gave in.  After the fact you look back and ask, "couldn't I have gone faster/done more?"  but at the time I was doing my best.  I was running and walking trying to cover distance.  Mentally I was literally having yelling matches with myself about my pace and continuing on and not giving up.  The people along the way I'm sure were rather disturbed.  The crew met me at Powerline which was a huge help.  The race hits a dirt road at this point and gets back next to the trees.  I had about three miles to go and about forty-five minutes to do it.  The crew encouragement was huge.  I believed I could make it.  Despite having a shouting match with my mp3 player which I was wearing at this point, I was moving on out.  Not long after this, I unfortunately made my next mistake.

MISTAKE #2 (number is probably higher)  MISSING THE TURN

Yeah so I ran right past a turn off.  Whoops.  I was cruising along and looked up and found myself at a four way intersection WITH NO COURSE MARKINGS.  Oh no.  This is not good.  I had no idea which way to go.  I looked on my map and directions, and saw the sign for the Forest Service road I was supposed to be on and started following it.  Still no course markings.  Then I hit another intersection and saw some course markings.  Sweet, I thought, back on the course.  At least I was happy until I saw someone shuffling towards me.  As I got closer I realized it was a guy I HAD PASSED THREE MILES AGO!!  I WAS GOING THE WRONG WAY!

 AIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRHHHHHGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.  Complete demoralization.  The guy I now met had totally given up and been shuffling and barely walking just past Fish Hatchery and now I had wasted at least a half hour and probably 2.5+ miles going off the course and at times in the wrong direction.  The cutoff time came and went and a race official in a truck came by and told me I was out of the race.  Even the dejected walk of shame brought me back in about 30 minutes past the cutoff.  Just under the amount of time I had wasted being off the course.  To add to that frustration, I talked to a lady in front of me who told me she had seen me go past the turn off and was screaming at me to come back, but I had my mp3 player on and didn't hear her.  *sigh*  I also learned later that several people missed a turn in this area.  The course markings were there, but I would say that  they were not always clear, at least in my stupefied state.  I'm going to ask for giant flashing neon signs so I won't miss them next time.

So there is my race.  33 miles or so in 8:30.  The crew and everyone was waiting for me at Twin Lakes and so they had to radio ahead to tell then I had been forced out.   Disappointment.  Feeling like I had let everyone down was very tough.  Perhaps I will ramble on about the philosophical implications at some point, but here for a way to wind it up are my

Top Ten Things I Learned from a DNF at Leadville

1.  God is Good and His Love endures forever.
2.  Having good friends to help me, even in my craziness, was priceless.  (Though they refused to apply Body Glide to my "nether regions")
3.  You must dare to believe in order to have a chance of success.
4.  It hurts more to fail, when you dare to believe.
5.  I know a little bit better about what it takes to finish this race, and I didn't have it on this day.
6.  I'm still crazy enough to think I might be able to work hard enough to have what it takes.
7.  Consuming too many salt tabs without enough water, when you aren't sweating a lot to begin with = "shouting at your shoes"
8.  My wife is amazing.  (Did I mention she did all this crewing and planning and organizing while she is eight months pregnant?  uhh yeah, hard core.)
9.  I kept my promise not to quit.  You look back and always say, "could I have done more?" but I gave my best effort at the time.
10.  Did Not Finish stinks.  But as Try Running pointed out, Did Not Start is worse.  I trained hard, toed the line, and gave it my best shot.  Now it is time to regroup, reload,  and.......try again?

Part 1
Part 2

Friday, August 27, 2010

Race Report - Leadville 100 part 2 of X (where X > 2)

The gun was off and I was running in the 50 meter fun run!

OK, so that wasn't the race, but I must say that my usual starting line jokes about "This is the 50m fun run, right?" are soooo much funnier when I do it at the beginning of a hundred mile race.  At least to me they are.  There were also a lot off "see you tomorrow"s thrown out there, which doesn't happen at every race (other than my last 5k).

The race started and all was good with the world.  I was running.  The shin wasn't acting up.  We were going downhill.  I was surrounded by 650 crazy nuts with headlamps, how could it get any better?  Oh yeah, having local residents in their bathrobes swinging glowsticks on strings and high-fiving you at 4AM.  Right, that's better. I would have to say that the emotional feel of the group for at least the first hour or so was something akin to giddiness.  There was a lot of joking, and giggling, and making fun of people who were pulling off for "pit stops" in the first two miles.  (I'm not sure what the home owners thought of this...)  Seeing the mass of headlights bobbing, running through the darkness, and chortling about random comments thrown out by,  you know, OTHER people, was pretty fun.  The first hour zipped by.

I was feeling great at this point, looking at the stars, and the near-full moon, trying not to pass people and just enjoying the race.  I hadn't run the section of the race from the beginning to the Turquoise Lake, but I figured it was fairly pedestrian.  That is until I was watching the headlamps in front of me start going up and up and up, until it looked like everyone in front of me was being abducted by aliens straight into the sky.  That is when I realized there was a ridiculous hill in front of me.  This reminded me that this ain't your strange-smelling cousin's pancake marathon, this here is a trail race, in the mountains!  I struggled up the steep hill, (we passed a guy who was futilely trying to push a bike up it, he had to stop and try to carry the thing) and then we were at Turquoise Lake.

My pacing sheet had me trying to make the start to Mayqueen (the first aid station, 13.5 miles) in 2:28.  I hit Tabor Boat ramp which is seven miles in, at about 1:16.  Things were looking good, going good, and I must say even sounding good.  Some runners at the front of the loop around the lake, I guess it is a tradition, make strange hooting animal noises.  As the noises drift across the lake to the runners behind, it makes it seem like you are about to run into a cacophonous jungle full of rabid beasts.  This is strangely hilarious at 5 AM.  Unfortunately it wasn't long until all of those good times changed.

The section around Turquoise Lake I had run before.  It is essentially a sandy, smooth, up and down trail that goes in and amongst a lot of trees and campgrounds.  It was a little difficult following the very dim glow sticks they were using for markers, and I occasionally strayed from the path.  A couple of times I found myself at the front of a long string of runners, and since my $2 headlamp wasn't providing much light I would step aside and join the long train, just so I wouldn't be responsible for turning the race into a triathlon by leading  fourteen people straight into the lake.   This was where my first mistake started causing problems.


OK it was just blue powerade.  Right, like quaffing a jug of Drano will "just" give you mild indigestion.  So it wasn't really the fault of the blue Powerade, but I like to think so.  When I ran the Fargo Marathon back in May, the only non-water beverage they had was blue Powerade.  At the time, this did not sit well.    And by did not sit well, what I mean is, did not remain inside my stomach well.  This was the case here, and I started getting sick.  The most likely cause is that I was hitting the electrolyte tabs regularly, but for whatever idiotic reasons I wasn't drinking as regularly.  By the time I hit Tabor boat ramp, I should have had 40 oz of liquid chugged.  Instead, I was at more like 20 or so.  In addition my first chug of Perpetuem wasn't mixed very well and I wound up swallowing a huge ball of goo.  This, in combination with the salt and, in my mind, the evil of the blue Powerade which was in my first bottle, made my stomach start doing acrobatics.

I slowed to a walk, I tried to puke, I couldn't puke, I kept stumbling along in misery, I stopped and tried to puke several more times, I still couldn't puke, then more stumbling.  This lasted for about twenty minutes.  Finally Mount Krakatoa erupted.  About eight times, plus or minus zero times.  During this process, when I was being passed by 25% of the field, I heard a couple of comments like, "Atta boy!" and "Are you OK?  Because that thing you're doing doesn't SOUND ok."  Mostly I was glad to have all that out of my stomach.  I kept trying to get back to running after the first couple of times, but running + spewing = more than a little messy.   (Reader's note, there will be no more graphic descriptions of bodily functions, for at least the next paragraph or so.  Plus or minus one paragraph.)

I basically lost about forty minutes on my pace during this time.  I also lost my nutrition and hydration plan on the side of the trail.  It was more than a little demoralizing.  I started chugging water and Perpetuem again to try and catch up on the hydration, but I knew I was already behind.  I struggled in the last few miles and hit Mayqueen at about 3:00.

The crew was outstanding!  My plan was to spend two minutes or less at the aid station (quick by my standards for ultras and all-you-can-eat buffet lines).  They had me sunscreened and bodyglided up, bottles and pack refilled, full of encouraging lies ("You look good!") and out of there in under two minutes.  I knew that statistically my chances of finishing the race when coming in at MayQueen in three hours is infinitesimally small (kind of like the size of my optimism at that point), but I wasn't about to quit.  There is no real cutoff at Mayqueen, but I was basically already within fifteen minutes of the cutoff, when I should have been forty-five minutes ahead.

I turned out of the campground and started running again.  It was time for the first big climb of the day, up and over Sugarloaf Pass.

And no, the race doesn't take place in Candyland...

more to come...

Part 1

Part 3

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Race Report - Leadville 100 part 1 of X; AKA Top Ten Things I learned from a DNF at The Race Across the Sky

Wow.  What an experience.  It has only been five days since I toed the line on 6th and Harrison in downtown Leadville, but it already seems like a lifetime ago.

The short-short version of the race report:  DNF (Did Not Finish).

The long version of the race report:

It was really a whirlwind leading up to this.  So many preparations, planning, packing, etc went into just getting there.  We rented a condo at Copper Mountain which is about twenty-five minutes North of Leadville.  So just the going-on-vacation stuff took quite a while to get together, let alone the ultra prep stuff.

Let me interrupt right now and say my wife is amazing.  Her planning, preparing organizing, getting my stuff ready for the crew to use, being the crew chief, getting food ready for 11 people for several days, packing the van, taking care of the kid-crew; the list goes on, - EPIC!  None of this ever would have come off without her.  Thanks baby.  I can't say that enough.  Plus she was a huge encouragement to me and sacrificed all along the way of the last eight months just to allow me and enable me to get to the starting line.  What a debt of gratitude I owe, it is hard to express.

We had so many good friends with us for the days we were there, some who volunteered to crew, some who were there to pace, and wound up crewing, it was just a joy to have them there.  Even though I don't think any of them had ever been to an ultra, they were the best crew I could have imagined!  They were exactly what I needed.  Thanks guys and gals.  And I think some of them might even be plotting to try it themselves next year...
Pre-Race Meeting on Friday- Packed!

So thank yous done, we drove up to Copper on Thursday and got settled in.  I love being in the mountains in the Summer and despite a whole lot of rain we had a nice relaxing time leading up to the race.  The pre-race meetings on Friday were a lot of fun.  We learned a lot, and just started getting the "vibe" of the race.  The author of Born to Run was introduced and was apparently there running?  perhaps scouting movie locations for a Born to Run movie with Jake Gyllenhal if rumors are correct.  At one point during the talk, Ken Chlouber the founder of the race had all the runners stand up and promise not to quit.  He had us repeat the phrase aloud, "I commit, not to quit."  about five times.  I know it is cheesy, but I take giving my word very seriously, and it was a meaningful moment to me.  I already knew I wasn't going to stop until they cut my band or I was done, and this just reinforced it, both personally and as a group.

Protect the Band!
During registration we were given a wristband that had our name, weight and number on it.  This is the band that, if you don't make a time cutoff gets cut by the infamous "Lady with the pink scissors".  I'm not sure why the scissors have to be pink, but so it is.  Thus my mantra for the race became, "Protect the Band" and my previously mentioned "Buckle Up, Baby".  I intended to protect my band from those scissors and never let them get close to it.

On Saturday morning we were up at 2AM, made the last minute adjustments and drove on into Leadville.  The energy on the dark street that morning as runners were getting checked in was off the chart.  It was an incredible situation.  As I stood there, I just thought back to all the work and training it had taken to get there, both for myself and the other runners who were there.  There were apparently 850 runners registered and 650 or so made it to the starting line, making it the biggest 100 miler in North America?  There were quite the cast of characters as well.  I saw some people running in sandals, someone in a pink tutu, a guy with wings on a hat, and people from every walk and stage of life.  

Just past the starting line, downtown Leadville.
As the countdown on the clock approached zero I said my last minute good byes, gave some hugs, said a prayer, and the time was here.  The Leadville 100 was on, and the runners, (hey that means me!), were off.

To be continued...

Part 2

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Monday, August 23, 2010


DNF. Missed the cutoff outbound at Halfmoon. Covered 32 miles or so. God is good

Blathering on to follow.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Story thus Far

Someone asked me to write this up so here goes...

The Story Thus Far

Hard Choices

On January 1, 2008 I started running.  Again.  I weighed three bills and things were out of control.  Things weren't always this way.  I played quite a few sports in high school and college, all semi-adequately.  Fairly fit.  I didn't like running much but was able to tolerate it in order to do other stuff like playing basketball and baseball, and eating three large pizzas in a sitting and things like that.  

When I got to grad school I hurt my legs (stress fractures?) and didn't do anything at all for many months.  I gained a 'fitty spot.  I got married.  I tried running once or twice and hurt a leg again.  I gained another 'fitty spot.  There may have been Twinkies involved.

Then I decided after waddling for many moons that enough was enough.  Or at least THIS TIME enough was enough.  As opposed to all those other times of self-loathing and starting and failing...

One day I started walking up and down the stairs in our house.  I needed to do...something.  I went up and down the stairs about 50 times.  My kids and wife thought I was losing my mind.  I thought that too after the second time up the stairs.

Then I decided to run around the .175 mile block next to our house.  I ran this loop.  I wore black and did it at night.  I thought the neighbors might call the police.  The next day I did it twice.  I did it a few more times.  A police helicopter spotlighted me.  I remembered how much I dislike running.

I did a couch to 5k program, mostly.  Right before and leading up to January 1, 2008. The couch sounded pretty good.  

Then, I decided to do the hardest thing I could think of.  I decided to run every day for a year, at least one mile continuously.  The first day was torture.  I wanted to quit.  I ran for 670 days.  I even ran a marathon.  

Then I hurt my back.  I was in bed for almost a week.  The running streak was over.  I decided I needed a new goal.  (Besides going to the bathroom by myself.)  The next hardest thing I could think of was running a trail 100 miler.  So I decided to run Leadville.

I've spent this year since January training.  It's been some successful, some not-so-successful.  I weigh a lot less than before.  I ran forty miles in one day.  Despite an injury I'm on track to start this Leadville thing.  I'm realistic enough to know that I'm probably the longest long shot out there to finish, but I'm crazy enough to try and believe anyway.

Here's to choosing and doing hard things!

Also, here's to police helicopters leaving me alone...

Monday, August 16, 2010

5 Days to Go - Never Tell Me the Odds

"After days and days and's time for Leadville."  
   - My three year old daughter, upon waking  from a deep sleep.

Buildings in downtown Leadville, Colorado, USA       

Five days to go.  I am ready.

That is a strange sensation, but it is the truth.  I'm as ready as I'm going to be and I'm ready to get it on.  Typical taper madness feelings I suppose, but this has hardly been a typical taper.  It will wind up being 3.5 weeks of no running.  A little bit of water jogging and that is it.  Hardly ideal, but I won't lack for rest.

I've had an X-ray, but haven't heard anything back.  The MRI didn't happen yet, so I'm skeptical it will at all before we leave.  The leg hasn't hurt in a while, but I haven't run in a while.  
Basically, I've done the usual; questioned my training (or lack thereof), the injury, the lack of experience, the lack of elevation acclimation, the lack of a typical ultramarathoner body type, the lack of necessary speed to make cutoffs, dehydration, physical ailments, every reason, valid and sound, that would be the cause for me to not make it to the red carpet by 10:00 AM on August 22.

Right now I say to all of that, Buckle up Baby!  Here is what I know.  I'm not quitting.  No way, no how.  They are going to either A) Pull my corpse off the course or B) cut my band because I didn't make a cut off.  That is it.  I will crawl, I will roll in the dirt, I will scratch, fight, bribe medical check people, whatever it takes to keep going.  I know mental attitude won't, by itself, get me over Hope Pass twice, but a bad state of mind could keep me from doing it as well.  There will be a thousand moments of doubt, pessimism, and surrender.  I'm resolving right now to say those thoughts are going to be defeated and destroyed.  Easy to say now, but that it the plan of attack.

I know there are a lot of reasons I might not make it, believe me I've over-analyzed them all.  I'm done with all those.  Never tell me the odds.  I'm flying into the asteroid field at full throttle.  

p.s. 3,720 to 1.

Friday, August 13, 2010

7 Days to Go - Scanning the system

Hey, I went to the doctor today.

Then I went and took x-rays.

Tomorrow I will be having an MRI.

The doc, an orthopedic specialist, seemed to think that it was most likely a shin splint, but wanted to rule out a stress fracture.  In his estimation, if I try Leadville with a shin splint, I will only "put back my recovery and the state of the injury a LONG WAYS" but if I try it with a stress fracture I could "suffer a serious tibia fracture and you don't want that."  I guess at this point my face seemed to say "enh, doesn't sound too bad" so he repeated for emphasis "YOU DON'T WANT THAT."

What was especially funny was that his wife is doing Leadville for the second time.  So I guess, as he stated, he could relate to my craziness.

So here's to a nice, normal shin splint that is mostly healed by the time next Saturday rolls around.

To replace running, I have been thrashing about in a pool.  Repeating an old high school cross country staple, I've been wrapping a "water noodle" around my waist and doing "water running".  No impact, some cardio is the idea.  Honestly I have a really hard time getting my heart rate up doing this, so I usually wind up doing some swimming (if you can call it that) at the end.  My swimming form is so poor, that going a few hundred meters actually does get the ticker going pretty well.  It also usually inspires a few lifeguards to jump in and try and save me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

12 Days to Go - Race Report! My first Sports "Massage"

Neon Massage Sauna  
I was going to start this off with the title of, Top Ten things I learned from a DNF at the Sports Massage, but I actually finished so I can't say that.

As you can probably tell from the previous post, I felt more at ease going into doing a spur-of-the-moment first time 50-miler than going to my first "Massage" session.  I even had a last minute gear acquisition run to make sure I was properly prepared.

As I stepped into the office and was brought back to the "Massage" room, somehow the whole thing seemed to fit into every bad stereotype I had of "Massages".

Lady Masseuse dressed in fluorescent flowered garb- check.
Dim mood lighting - check.
Strange, soft, Enya type music in the background - check.
What looks like a bed? in the tiny closet of a room that all of this is taking place in - check.
Candles! - check.

Diving Suit in the Vasa MuseetAce - Ready for the rub down
I enter into the room and she starts talking but my mind is racing.  "If she turns her back can I make it out before she notices?"  "Will people in the hallway be able to hear my screams"  "Are there hidden video cameras in here somewhere and is this being streamed to some seedy site in Turkmenistan?"  All of this is suddenly brought to an immediate, screeching halt when the phrase "undress to your comfort level" makes it's way through to may convoluted brain.  !?!?!!?  Comfort level?  How about a three piece suit?  How about one of those world war II dive suits with the big round helmets?  What kind of comfort are we talking about here?  Schnikes!

Everything after that is a blur of awkwardness and "going to my happy place" followed by a whole lot of hushed voices, blanket manipulation, muscle assault and ended with someone rubbing my ears.  Ears?  Really?  Is this helpful?  Will increased blood flow to my lobes help me up Hope Pass twice?  I don't know but I assume it must.

All in all it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be.  Hopefully it was somewhat helpful.  I did feel pretty relaxed, though it could be just a relative improvement from the buttery pretzel knot I was going in.

Would I do it again?  Hmmm not sure about that one, I'll just stick with my new "massage" PR.  One sports "massage" in one hour.  Pretty fast I must say so myself.  What is your "Massage" PR?

Been to the doctor:  No.  (Thank you incompetent appointment schedulers)  I will go this week.
Running of late: No.  I've been thrashing about in a pool for cardio, more on that to come.
Taper Madness: Off the Chart.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

18 Days to go - Try running?

Right so I ran today.  It was one mile.  My leg hurt.  Not a lot, but I could feel it.

I was supposed to go to the doctor today.  Only their appointment scheduler didn't bother to tell us that the location of the appointment was different than the office we called, in fact it was on the other side of town.  So no doctor.  And of course based on my usual disdain for doctors, combined with the fact that the leg has been feeling better, means I probably won't go back unless it gets worse.

All that is just background noise however, to what amounts to perhaps the biggest challenge of the entire training cycle and perhaps my entire "athletic" career.  This is a single event that has produced more fear and loathing than staring down a 100 mile run, gutting through heat sickness and vomiting, pushing through the pain of 670 straight days of running, or doing 20+ miles of hill repeats.  And it happens this afternoon...

Teh wifey signed me up for a sports massage.


I don't know why I - got signed up for a massage - I think I'll die.

I've never had a "professional" massage.  There are many good reasons for this.  The first is, I don't really care for the touching part.  And I've heard that isn't optional.  Then there are things like WHERE they might be touching and WHO might be doing the touching and WHAT I will have to be wearing (a parka?) during the touching, and for HOW long the touching will last ( one hour!!(#$@%!#$@%!@#%!~@#$%!-good googly).  Seriously.  Who invents these things?  Supposedly it will be good for me.  Right.  I would rather run Leadville with no Body Glide than do this. Anyone have any good ideas for excuses to get out of this?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

23 Days to Go - A River in Egypt

Haven't run.  Leg hurts.  That pretty much sums it up.  I'm holding off on the doctor visit hoping that the constant icing and rest will help things.  The pain has subsided a little, but it seems to come and go haphazardly.

Mostly I'm trying not to think about it.  Trying not to think about what it would mean if I can't run.  If I don't think about it long enough, won't it go away?

This is supposed to be a dial-it-down week, I just wasn't expecting to have turned the knob down all the way.

So let's talk about something else.  Favorite variety,  dark chocolate peanut or peanut butter M&Ms.  Discuss.

Monday, July 26, 2010

25 Days to Go - To Be or Not To Be

This is a replacement post.

I had a post beautifully written in my mind about having fun running, enjoying the great outdoors, getting in ~25 miles on trails in a reasonable time (under six hours for me), having renewed hope for Leadville...and then Bam!  (Madden chalkboard graphic if you please.)

Sudden pain in my shin.  In one particular spot.  And not a little bit.  Not good.  It has lasted since Saturday and only occurs when I put weight on it (rather inconvenient for running I must say).  I'm praying this is just a minor setback, but we shall see.  Never the less it put a dark cloud on what otherwise would have been me glossing on about the joie de vivre that comes from running.  You know, because that is pretty much all I ever write about.  :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

30 Days to go - Encouragement received

Hey thanks everyone for the great comments and encouragement.  It inspired me to go and run .6 miles today!  OK just kidding, except about the .6 miles part, thats another story.

There was a lot of great advice in there, and it is appreciated.  I should note that I actually have been taking the Hammer Endurolytes, though not consistently enough.  That and its always hard to tell how many to take, and if I should take them while doing other salty/electrolyte-y things?  /shrug.  I'm gonna try the more is better approach and see how that works.  The experimenting seems to be the thing to do.

Though experimenting will require more running...I guess its time to get after it!

What are you experimenting with today?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

32 Days to Go - Top Ten things I learned from a DNF at the North Fork 50.

This post may seem strangely similar to one you may have read before. 

To better service your varying levels of interest in this blog, I will give increasingly more verbose accounts of what happened at my North Fork 50 mile race.  My top ten lessons learned are at the bottom.

Race Report, the short-short version:

Ta Da!

Race Report, the short version:

I started the race.
It got hot.
I got sick.  A lot.
I was so slow I didn't make it past the 50k time cutoff.
Ta Da!

Race Report, the long, long version:

My first attempt at fifty miles.  I tried not to think about the whole concept of what I was doing.  I almost think that is a better approach, ignorance is bliss and all that.

I got up at 3:30 AM on Saturday morning for the drive up to Pine, CO.  My distrust of Google maps resulted in me driving on some crazy dirt roads with 15% grade in the middle of the night which at least kept me awake.

I got to Pine Valley Ranch Park a little before 6am which was just about perfect.  I started getting ready.  I had gotten the gear ready the previous night, but my normal pre-race freakout causes me to throw every piece of running related gear into my car, "just in case."  Be prepared and so on and so forth (yes I was an Eagle Scout...).  As I looked around I had my usual out of place feeling.  Some people LOOK like ultramarathoners.  I am not one of them.   I sort of felt like I stuck out, but I'm getting used to it.

Does anyone else have just plain ridiculous conversations with yourself prior to things like this?  Here's an example of one (of many) for me.

Freak-out Self:  Where should I wear my race number?  

Mildly Illogical Self: Uhh on your shirt.

Freak-out Self: But what if I have to change my shirt, because it so salt encrusted that it is rubbing raw wounds into my cheest?

Mildly Illogical Self:  Uhhh on your shorts.

Freak-out Self:  But I've never done that before, what if the pins rub into my leg and cause me to bleed profusely, that may impair my hydration?

Mildly Illogical Self: Uhh on your hat.

Freak-out Self: But what if I have to turn my hat around.  Then I will be violating the rules for displaying your number, and I might get kicked out of the race, and then I will sit on the side of the trail and cry, and people will be disturbed by the big, strange guy crying on the side of the trail, and what about my number, should I fold it up into a small square before I pin it on like all the uber guys, or is that too pretentious, like I actually know what I'm doing? or what about-

Mildly Illogical Self:    Shut your yapper!

Right.  So I finished the preparations.  Made three additional trips to add more stuff to my drop bag, "just in case"  (and of course I used exactly one item from my drop bag the whole race).  And got to the line.

First Ten Miles.

The first ten miles went pretty well.  As referenced in some really nice race reports from fast people, the opening section was a tough climb.  A lot of power hiking was involved.   I was feeling very good, but I was determined not to go out too fast.  "Start slow, and get slower" as I have heard it said.  I resisted the urge to pass people (mostly) and felt like I had a good, slow pace going.  

The course was tough.  Several miles of uphill, followed by several miles of downhill, rinse and repeat.  There was some shade, but there were also some really long sections through exposed burn areas.  I had chosen to leave the hydration pack in the car and just carry two bottles.  Big mistake.  Because the longest stretch between aid stations was 5.8 miles I thought this would be sufficient hydration.  Not so much.  Also  I wasn't really used to running with two bottles, so though I got a good bicep workout, it didn't feel comfortable.

During the first ten miles I kept a good pace through the second aid station.  9.9 miles in about 2:15.  This is really slow, but it was pretty much within the parameters of what I was trying to accomplish (don't kill yourself early).  

At the second aid station they had bacon.  No really.  Freshly fried bacon.  I don't know about the nutritional value of bacon while ultrarunning, I haven't done the research.  But my mind thought something like, "bacon is salty, you need salt, eat the bacon."  So I did.  It was good.  I've never eaten bacon while running.  I like new experiences.  I kept running.  As a side note, the twisted knee I suffered while cooking bacon the day before the race, was not a problem.  Bacon won't keep you down.

So I kept running.

Second Ten Miles.

Did I mention it got hot?  The accuweather for Pine, CO said it got up to 102 degrees.  I'm not sure exactly how hot it was on the trail, but it felt rather warm.  I started to feel...not so good.  I ate some more stuff at the next aid station, (PB&J, chips, Mountain Dew?!?) and kept going.  I started to feel worse.  I started puking all over the trail.  Repeatedly.  Hey it was a new experience, heat sickness and vomiting while running.  I like new exp....uh yeah.  Needless to say I wasn't moving very fast.  My whole hydration/nutrition plan went out the window, (actually more like on the side of the trail, but you get the idea.)  I was feeling pretty light-headed and was not moving quickly at all.  I spent a lot of time thinking of all the things I would rather be doing at that moment than running that race and feeling like that.  There were no wrong answers to that question.

If I had thought I could drop I probably would have.  But with the way the course was laid out, I knew I would have to sit at an aid station for many, many hours, or somehow stumble my way back, so I kept going.  My nature is such that I would rather push through the pain for six more hours than inconvenience anyone so there wasn't really an option.

The second ten miles took me nearly five hours.  Ugly.

Third Ten Miles.

I knew my race was over.  I needed to be to the 50k mark in 8 hours and 15 minutes, and there was no way I was going to make it.  That was pretty tough to deal with.  I was also feeling bad because one of my pacers, Mr. Try Running had come all the way from Denver, and was waiting for me, wondering I'm sure, whether the previous day's bacon injury had done me in, and I knew I had wasted his time in coming down.

I switched to water and Gu, and an electrolyte tablet or two when I thought about it in hopes of keeping some liquids and calories down.  This worked a bit better, and eventually the stomach revolt ended.  I got back to doing some running, and despite getting lapped by the fifty milers who were twenty miles ahead of me (ouch), managed to keep moving forward.  Finished the last ten miles, was reminded that I needed to get off the course, and did the final waddle of shame.   9:35 or so for 50k.  I didn't quit, but it was still a DNF.

Can I just say, having to run into the finish, and not getting to run through the finish chute to the line is kind of a stinky feeling.  I've done it twice now.  It only gets worse.  Especially when the people hanging around in the area are like, "Oh yeah someone's finishing! Oh wait, he's dropping/missed the cutoff, oh yeah, stop the clapping, kill the band, just look away or something..."

So finally we end with my top ten lessons learned.

1.  Bacon, Mountain Dew, and Giant pickles aren't on most people's nutrition plan for ultras, for a reason...
2.  I don't like the heat.
3.  The heat doesn't like me.
4.  Ginger candy doesn't help my stomach, unless you count the "good feeling" you have immediately after emptying your stomach contents on the side of the trail.
5.  Basically I'm constantly dehydrated during these things, and need to figure something else out.  Do they have IV things you can run with?
6.  Next time, I'll pass on the blisters, kthxbai.
7.  Isn't it bizarre how it only takes about twenty-four hours to go from despising all things running, and promising/planning to never run again, to feeling like you can go do that same race you failed at, right away?  Is that psychotic?
8.  Also, I don't like the heat.
9.  The only hallucinations I had all day were that mountain bikers were coming up behind me and were going to run me off the trail.  Oh wait, that wasn't a hallucination...
10.  It could have been better, it could have been worse.

So that makes me 0 for 2 on ultramarathons thus far.  Someone kindly suggested that, "you will get it in your next race", but they had no way of knowing my next race is Leadville.... but then again why not try?  (Don't answer that.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

39 Days to Go - Giving into the urges

Hey I tried something new today.  I ran.  Amazing.  I didn't even forget how to do it.

Thus since I've had two runs in the last nine days, and the knee is still recovering, naturally I signed up for a last minute/impulse 50 miler.

I had really been wanting to get one in, just to have the mental confidence that I can go that far.  The longest run I've had in training so far has been 40 miles, and that had some mental toughness boost that came with it, but...I'm just feeling like I need a little more.

Thus I signed up for the North Fork 50 mile trail race.  Somewhat  like the last ultra I tried, this one tries to play down the difficulty, and even suggests it is a good choice for your first ultra.  OK.  Whatever you say.  It basically is fifty miles of trail running, with approximately 7200 feet of elevation gain.  It is essentially half the distance and half the elevation gain of Leadville.  Of course it never goes above 8600' in elevation, so you don't quite get the altitude sickness and pulmonary edema risk that you get with the race across the sky, but I feel like it should be somewhat similar.

 (funny this looks like my heart rate after 10 yards of running)

     It is also looking like I might be joined for the last 19 miles by one of my pacers for August, Mr. Try Running.  I normally try to avoid running with ridiculously fast people like him, because it makes me sick to my stomach, especially when they are all humble about it.   However in this case I will make an exception.  As long as he is willing to pack a satellite dish and portable refrigerator with chilled beverages during the Leadville run.

I'm a little hesitant about running that long of a run only five weeks before the main race, but I would be trying to do a long run anyways, and hopefully some success here will build up the mental toughness quotient.  Hey, I might go crazy, make the cutoffs, finish the race, and even be able to call myself an ultramarathoner.  That would be pretty kewl...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

40 Days to Go - Running? pssht

I used to run every day.  Now I run, no days at all.  It is a pretty good plan.

The knee is still attached to my body.  Thus things are going well.

I think I might run this week.  Seeing as the next two weeks are supposed to be my highest mileage of the thirty-two week training plan I have been on, I probably should go at least a couple of miles.

Who knows, maybe I should just run a race?  That would be perfect freak-out logic.  Knee hurting?  Not sure if you should be running at all?  Sign up for a last minute race!

Works for me.

57 miles two weeks ago.
3 miles this week.
Therefore, 70 miles this week should do.

Who else is in?

Friday, July 9, 2010

42 Days to Go - Less is More

Let's just get this over with.  I haven't run in six days.  No really.  I had my Sunday and Monday following Pike's peak running tagged as days off, and then on Tuesday, I started feeling some aching in my knee.  Not good.  Sort of feels like the overuse stuff I have had problems with in the past, albeit in the "good" knee this time.  Thus I haven't done anything, besides icing and such.  I'll probably go ahead and test it out today, but it does not bode well.  That being said I'm still planning on getting in 30+ miles on Saturday, ha.

On a much more exciting note,  Hardrock is on!  Check out live progress for, what seems to me, one of the kewlest ultras out there!  As of this moment, Scott Jaime is leading the way for the men and churning some serious mileage!

Also, if you need your fix of strangeness and bizarre motivation, you should probably go here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

44 Days to go - The Other Side of the Mountain

Was all that I could see.

Hey.  You know that whole thing about being freaked out because there were only fifty odd days until "the" day?  ROFLCOPTERZ!  That was nothing compared to how I feel with only 44 days to go!  Seriously.  The psychosis has already set in.  And it is only going to get worse.  Here are the characteristics of an individual who is going through "pre-first 100 miler, at Leadville, at elevation, with very little training, and questionable sanity to sign up, and never having finished an ultra, and not being very good at running in the first place, pre-race craziness" looks like (and I haven't even started the taper! LOLROFLCOPTERZSPINAROUNDONFLOOROFWORKPLACELONG

51 Days to go - ponders buying every piece of running gear known to man, just in case they might "need" it
50 Days to go - buys a bunch of it
49 Days to go - gets informed by a pacer that the pacer is being deployed out of state and won't be able to pace
49 Days to go + 5 minutes - pulls self off floor and says, "that's nice",  cries a little, on the inside, in a manly, blubbering sort of way...
48 Days to go - Runs up and down Pike's Peak with one of the pacers, decides running really isn't for me...again
47 Days to go - Checks the training plan, just to see exactly how many weeks behind the plan they are; throws up in mouth
44 Days to go - Returns from blog silence to post another rambling miasma of freak-out craziness.

(The next parts are speculative, seeing as I haven't got there yet...)
40 Days to go - Ultra blog reading and research reaches a new pitch, decides herbal remedies are the route to a sub-30 hour finish and replaces every stick of Body Glide with balls of bat guano.
30 Days to go - gives in to urges and signs up for a fifty mile trail run two days before Leadville, "just to make sure I can run that far."
25 Days to go - Mental state devolving;  decides that a couple two hundred mile weeks would do wonders.  Actual running: two hundred yards.
20 Days to go - puts in a bid on Ebay for Michael Jackson's hyperbaric chamber to do elevation acclimation.
15 Days to go - Full taper madness and the ultra freak-out coalesces.  Runner is found hiding in the trees behind his house, with various flavors of GU smeared on his body as war paint.
10 Days to go - coma.
5 Days to go - Runner finds peace and tranquility.  Mostly by recreating scenes from Man vs Food reruns.
1 Day to go - Accepts the ridiculousness of the task and prepares to run the race.
0 Day - Alarm clock has multi-level meltdown and runner sleeps through the start.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

51 Days to Go - Really?

I don't have anything enlightening to say.  Nor anything motivational, or useful, or informational, or even strange or attempting to be humorous.

I ran sixteen miles.  Sixteen miles is still a long ways.  Sixteen miles doesn't, I think, ever stop being a long ways, even when you run lots of miles.  Maybe for Mr. 200+ mile training weeks, sixteen miles barely registers, but for me it is long.  I think I thought that at some point, sixteen miles would not seem like a lot.  It doesn't seem like a lot, talking about it, but it still seems like a lot when I'm doing it.

To be honest I wouldn't have run that far without teh coach (aka teh wifey) telling me I had to.  I would have stopped after the first seven.  Thanks coach.

Assuming I listen to teh coach/crew chief/wifey I should hit sixty miles this week.  It is supposed to be more than that, but I'm behind.  The long run will include a Pike's Peak marathon course plus a couple of miles (28? hopefully), so my power hiking ability will be tested.  I've never done the Pike's Peak thing, and I will have a couple of my pacers for the race with me so it should be fun (standard running is not "fun" disclaimer). Come on out and join us if you're interested in some nice elevation gains.


16 in 3:18.