Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pushing into the Night

Steve Guttenberg
Steve Guttenberg (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)
Have you ever really struggled?  Have you ever just met a challenge that seemed impossible?  Have you ever tried and failed and tried and failed and then failed utterly?  Have you ever tried to complete an all day Steve Guttenberg movie marathon beginning and ending with Cocoon II:  The Return?  Have you ever just wanted to give up?  Or throw up (paraphrase of previous question?)

I'll admit I've been struggling a bit.  Had a few more down days than up of late.  Life can "feel" a bit dark and heavy at times.  Similar to being sat on by a morbidly obese gorilla without the body lice.

What to do?

A)  Give up, put on the fancy pants, and wait for the backhoe to extract your two thousand pound corpse from the living room couch.

B) Write blog posts about what you should do, think about what you should do,  do google searches for what to do, and spend your time on anything else that doesn't actually involve 'do'ing.

C) Keep fighting.

It doesn't matter how many times you've failed.  It doesn't matter how many times you've quit.  The past doesn't matter.  The critics don't matter.  Your own lies and doubts and memories don't matter.  That time you bombed out of the geography bee in 4th grade really doesn't matter.  All that matters is the next try.  The next attempt.  What are you going to do right now?  Not five minutes from now, not in the sixth hour of some potential run, not in next month's deposition to the grand jury.  What are you going to do  NOW?

Allow me to posit an answer for you and for me.

Lace 'em up.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Signing on the dotted line.

Issues in Mental Health NursingImage via WikipediaI signed up again.

I have performed this  crazy act before...

So why try again?

Why go through all the pain and suffering?  The early mornings, the late nights, the lost time for doing other things with family and friends, the mental grind, the push, the cost, the mental anguish, the endless lubrication, the sweating, the stiff joints and aches in the morning, the dread of another high mile week, the sticky pockets from stuffing food in them for multi-hour runs, the loneliness......the solitude, the peace, the putting out big mileage numbers, the sweet ache of working out hard, the pore-cleansing sweat taking off pounds, the smooth joy of Body Glide, the challenge of working for something hard, the reward from achieving that something hard, the visceral feel of moving in a direction with purpose, the thrill of the fight to say yes when everything and everyone says no, having friends and family join you in the crazy adventure, being up and out and in the wilds when everyone else is in bed...

Wait, what was the question?

The answer is, I'm in.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Shopping List

Rodeo clown Flint Rasmussen                       Image via WikipediaSo I went to the store to pick up a few things today.  There was no sale.  Everything was listed at the full price.  There were no discounts, no 10% off coupons, no buy six get one free.  There was no frequent shopper card, no volume discounts, no free dessert on your birthday.  Everything at this store costs what it costs and you can either pay the price or go home empty handed.

Today I went shopping for some new goals.

Here is what I came up with, along with the corresponding price.

1.  Goal:  I would like to change a certain number from a "2" to a "1".  
     Price:  Eat consistently right, track progress, don't fall into destructive cycles, get back to running.

2. Goal: I would like to become a meathead  (aka muscle-bound oaf)  (or at least be able to do more than one pushup)
    Price:  Learn what a Romanian Dead Lift is, and follow the plan that my olympian meathead friend sent to me.  Also, I must abandon hope of lifting my arms above my head the day after I "lift".

3. Goal: I would like to finish a 100 miler,  finish the Leadville 100, qualify and run the Hardrock 100.
     Price:  Run.  Also, run some more.  Finally, keep running and don't stop.  Then again, I might have to run.  The other thing I was thinking was that I will probably have to do a bit of  running.

4. Goal:  Run a sub 20 minute 5k.  (stop laughing)
    Price:  Speed work,  Consistency of workouts, Lose the piano  (see #1 above)

5.  Goal:  Run an ultra with teh wifey.
     Price:  Convince her having two people training for an ultra is possible while still remembering the names of our children.

6.  Goal:  Do all of the above and still be the husband, father, servant, family member, friend, and rodeo clown that I want to be.
     Price:  Find balance?

So that is quite a shopping list.  I'm not sure I can afford all of these.  I might have to pick and choose.  I might have to put some on layaway and save up.  All that being said, I have some money in my pocket and may  have to spend it on a few things.  After all, the price might go up.  The store might close.  I might not be able to afford these fun things some day.  Think they take credit?

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Friends and Family Plan

Cheyenne Mountain photographed from outside of...Image via WikipediaSo.  There have been some kewl things happening in the running world.

First of all there was this.  Chris, an amazing streak runner, finished 1000 days of running.  Incredible!  Amazing.  Having done a small streak myself I feel like I can appreciate a little of what he went through.  He had some crazy stuff happen including dog bites, sickness, injuries,  etc. but still managed to persevere.  Very inspiring stuff if you ask me.

Then there was this.    A couple of - awesome people/uber fast runners/trail fiends had an amazing race.  Sounds simple, but there is so much joy in the race report you should really check it out.  My favorite word in the whole report is the use of the term "Ahem."

Third of all there was this.    Teh wifey has been working in some runnin' and followed it with some racin'.      She competed in the Xterra Trail Half-Marathon at Cheyenne Mountain Park this past Saturday.  Let me tell you the conditions were intense.  The temperature never got above 40 degrees and it rained/snowed the entire time.  The trails were complete mud, the rocks were slick, and for whatever reason none of the aid stations had any food?!?  Despite all of that she crossed the finish line with a smile on her face and I'm quite sure she wouldn't have had it any other way.  Hard Core!

I dunno about you but I love and am inspired by seeing friends and family experiencing joy and success and I just had to share.

p.s. I started training again.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011


No, I haven't received a Driving While Intoxicated.  I haven't been pursuing a run on Dancing with the Stars by, Dancing With Intensity.  And despite the many signs I also don't fit the demographic category of Dumb Whitey Inbreds.  

SEALs in from the water.Image via Wikipedia
Instead I was reading through some random news articles and I was reading a story about Navy Seals.  A team of Seals was conducting an informational and inspirational talk and were describing some difficult situations during a recent deployment to Afghanistan.  The term that they commonly used in describing how they pushed through the ridiculously hard challenges was DWI.  In this case DWI stands for Deal With It.  There wasn't a detailed methodological formula as to what this meant.  None was needed.  

It caused me to think about the fact that, too many times when faced with the inevitable difficult or challenging situation we come up with far too many excuses, or complicated plans, or overreactions based on fear, or rationalizations or just plain analysis paralysis.  I think running is like that.   We can either linger on the fear, uncertainty, and doubt, or just keep trying, keep pushing, keep running.

Around the same time I was reading a race report from Ryan Burch about the Run Rabbit Run 50 miler around Steamboat Springs, CO.  Apparently the weather turned bad, and the wind and rain and sleet and snow and hypothermic temperatures made for a rather challenging day.  But what I liked about Ryan's description was that there was no internal dialogue about quitting or making excuses or wishing he had brought different gear.  The bottom line was, deal with it and finish the race.  Which he did.


Haven't followed the training plan for the big race faithfully?  DWI

Haven't pushed away from the Godfather's buffet early and often enough?  DWI

Plagued by fears and doubts that you will never achieve your dream?  DWI

Made mistakes, failed over and over, got knocked down and don't want to get up?  DWI

Miss out on the Lombardi trophy and need something to do in the offseason?  DWI

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2011 Leadville Race Report - Ultrarunning is life.

Hello friends and welcome to another edition of my Leadville 100 trail run race report.

I don't think it will be as long as last time, but there are no guarantees.

For those who like to skip ahead, I missed the Twin Lakes outbound cut off by thirteen minutes and thus completed 40 miles in 10 hours and thirteen minutes.

For those who like a few more of the gory details, read on.

Honestly, I'm not sure what I'd like to say at this point.  The prevailing thought that I have come away with from this last weekend and really the entire year is that training and attempting an ultramarathon like Leadville is a lot like life.    I spent about ten months training for an event that, for me, lasted only ten hours.  When I was standing at the start line at 4AM on Saturday morning with a couple of friends, I remarked that "this race is going to be over in the blink of an eye."  I think due to my propensity for sarcastic humor they thought I was joking about how long thirty hours might feel, but I wasn't.  I was really commenting on the fact that all of these months of training, all of the long runs, all of the preparatory races, all of the organization, all of the packing supplies, and planning crew, and asking people to come, all of it was going to be over in one short moment.  This was my experience from last time.  It seems like it takes so long to come, but then when it does, it's gone before you know it.

And depending on how you look at it, that moment can define a lot of things.  Going through a DNF  (Did Not Finish) can be catastrophic.  All that investment, the time, the money, the sweat and tears and what is the result?  Failure.  And there is at least an entire year to wait to try and achieve redemption.   This race and life outlook is one that I have been tempted and probably occasionally succumbed to.  However I'm not going to do that today.  I could tell you about the splits (2:39 to MayQueen yeah!), and the puking (it was so loud people thought I was dying), and the race approach (don't stop moving), and the hydration problems (is black goo in your hydration pack a bad thing?), and the struggle up the hills (where did those hills after Half-Pipe come from?  Yowser), and more of the puking (Krakatoa would have been proud) , and the cramping for many, many hours (running with one leg entirely straight looks funny), and the leg locks (you know, besides the break dancing), and the mental battles (do you want my styrofoam peanuts?), and the heartbreak of just missing the cutoffs (some film crew caught it on tape). But I'm going to tell you about something else today.  I'm going to tell you about the sheer joy of being there and enjoying the final step of a long journey.

Before I started my run, I decided to enjoy each moment and here are some of them:

- Physically standing in a parking spot on Harrison street while one of our crew vehicles drove back to get a forgotten item.  We had some interesting conversations with folks who wanted to park there...

- Praying with a good friend before the race (we got it right this time!)

- Standing at the starting line with two other good friends who were running the race, and just soaking up all the energy and excitement.

- Running by folks cheering us on in the early morning sections.  Our pattern was that my friend would ask them for a cigarette and I would ask for a revolver.

- Smokin' it to Tabor Boat ramp in about 1:12.

- Seeing the alien swarm of headlights rise up into the night at the first hill.

- Hearing the traditional hooting and hollering and pretend animal noises echo across the lake.

- Looking up at the stars in the sky.

- Running past the spot I spent thirty minutes puking last time...and only dry heaving...

- Getting cheered by other runners for the volume and intensity of your burps.

- Holding back on the May Queen section conserving energy but still moving fast.

- Coming into May Queen with lots of other people around me within my goal time frame (2:30-2:39) and not being mentally defeated already!

- Dancing along the rocky single track which starts the hill up to Sugar Loaf.

- Puking so loudly I caused a race official to scramble down from Hagerman road to see if I was still alive (it was funny).

- The amazing view towards the top of the hill where I could see Turquoise Lake shrouded in fog and see the town of Leadville in the distance.

- Getting to the top of Sugarloaf pass!

- Not having my quads die from running down Powerline.

- Passing people, and staying ahead of them.

- Not having to sprint into Fish Hatchery  just to make the cutoff.

- Taking my time to browse the buffet of eats at the aid station.

- Not having a mental breakdown and shouting match on Half-Moon road this time.

- Coming across a random runner laying in the middle of the road doing pushups.

- The wondrous feeling of "making good time."

- The wondrous feeling of thinking "so you're saying there's a chance."

- Not giving up, even with some crazy leg cramps.

- Not getting lost!

- Having an awesome unbelievable crew that got me through every aid station faster than anyone else.

- Seeing new parts of the trail.

- Feeling like I was a little, tiny bit "in shape."

- Not having to stop at Half-Pipe aid station.

- Unsettling casual hikers with your insane adventures.

- Descending the last little hill into Twin Lakes (I'd only seen others do it in videos up to this point.)

- Running the last few steps of my race, hand in hand with my best friend, while hearing the cheers of so many good friends, and as the official cut my band, having one of my little children sprint over and give me the biggest hug in the world.

Thanks to all those who shared these latest steps in the journey with me, crewing, preparing to pace, coming out to run the silly thing and just having great fellowship.  Thanks to the family for checking in on me after the race.  Thanks to teh wifey for encouraging me and putting up with me all along the way and being the best crew chief and wife and mother ever.

God is good to me.  My life nor my race is not defined by individual moments, but by the entirety of the journey.  I'm going to try to live each step that I am blessed to take, to the fullest.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Final Weigh In

My eyes are bleeding from looking at pacing spreadsheets.

I tweaked my knee and it feels like I strained a ligament.

I am second and third and fifty-fourth guessing all of my gear, training, and general personal hygiene choices.

We have more packed than will ever fit into two vans.


It must be time for Leadville.

364 days of training and waiting for another shot are just about upon us.

God is good, and getting to this point is success.  There are a whole lot of friends coming and pacing and running and it will be fun just to be there.

Right now I choose to believe.  I choose to toe the line and give it my best.  I choose to not quit, to speed up when it hurts, and to faithfully honor those who have supported me by doing everything I can to cross the line at 6th and Harrison in under 30 hours.  If it was easy, it wouldn't be fun.  :)

See you at Hope Pass.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

20 Days to go - Last Long Run

The evolution of Sprite bottlesImage via Wikipedia, Carbonation via high fructose corn syrup.
Is this a normal thing for a four year old daughter to say?  "Mama, when I get older I'm going to do a fifty mile hour run, so when I get done I can take a really long bath."

Context is everything I suppose.  I was doing my normal torture training by sitting in an ice bath following today's long run and she was begging to get in.  I suppose having parents who run does have an impact on impressionable young minds...

So that's it.  There are no more long runs to go.  No more 60+ mile weeks (some of which I make, some I don't).  There are no more trying things out, or figuring out the gear, or experimenting with more hydration options (I've settled on a trail running-friendly IV unit, as soon as I find one).  There is only the countdown.  I got in a four hour run today.  Did it intentionally in the hottest part of the day to do some analysis of my sweat rate (measured in gallon buckets) and try out the final approach for food, hydration, and salt (twinkies, whiskey, and licking my arm, respectively.)  There was no puking so I will call it a success.

I was joined by the best pacer any one could ask for.  AKA teh wifey/coach/co-conspirator/inspiration/friend.  She was trying out our pacing system and kept me going up the hill (are hill repeats in the heat a bad idea?) for many miles and even came by later with the support crew in the urban assault vehicle.  My six year old son jumped out of the van and sprinted to me with arms open wide to give me a huge hug.    Does it get much better?  Oh yeah, the ice cold Sprite and the soundtrack of the Imperial march (my running looked more like a death march) to keep me going.  Score.

And so now we wait.  We try not to spend too much time obsessing about things, we resist the urge to go do multi-hour runs and we refer to ourselves in the royal third person.  We should do this more often.

Here's to us having a great time going through taper madness!  (Since we're royalty it will probably just be chalked up to in-breeding.)

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Flashbacks and Running Advice

English: Vladimir Bystrov. 2006 Russian Premie...Image via Wikipedia,  Faux Injury via Russian Soccer player.
About 360 days ago, I wrote this post.  Strangely enough I should probably post it again.

I have today, very exciting news.  I was all set to go start my re-re-re-redemption try again tour part four when I suddenly have pain in my shin again.  In the same spot as one year ago.  The pain isn't as bad, though I also seem to have a slightly sprained foot which causes me to limp.  This is good stuff.  No really.  I am a newly born optimist.  All these things can come to good.  The shin pain, which I'm assuming will go away with a few days of rest (optimism) will only prevent me from doing crazy things like trying to run 50 miles again, this weekend, and force me into a normal taper.  This is good.  If I didn't have these last minute injuries I would probably go crazy and try to hit eighty mile weeks when at this point it does me absolutely no good.  So.  Let the taper begin.

Also let the running advice begin.  Look there are a LOT of things you can read about running.  There are a lot of things you can read about ultras.  There are experts, and coaches, and pfffbbbtt people talking who've actually finished races, but when I need the bottom line, rock solid, no doubt about it running advice, there is only one source to go to.  My perpetually dancing, prancing, and smiling  four year old daughter.

Here are quotes from tonight's dinner about the running strategy I should use..

"Don't sit down by the side of the road and quit."
"When you get tired, just walk for a while."
"Start slow, then get faster."
"When you get to the end, run as fast as you can."
"Don't you quit Daddy!"  (said with a half serious/half grinning face)

What else do you need to know?
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Drinky Drink

Ok.  Enough of that nonsense.

The honesty and critical introspection phase of the blog is over.  It lasted 24 hours longer than I like.  It's time to run.

Try #2 at 50 miles didn't go so well, I figure, why not try again?  So I'm going to, on Saturday.  70 miles this week, 50 miles on Saturday, location TBD.  Why don't they have 50 milers every weekend instead of 5ks?  I'm not pretending last week didn't happen because I have to learn from it and get stronger.  Whoah sorry sounds a little self-helpy.  I'll leave that to this guy.

I've been reading AGAIN on hydration and all of that.  Here is an interesting article on the Succeed site.  I particularly like the chart which shows various symptoms that might be experienced while working out and  how it positions them by Low, Medium, High levels of Hydration and of electrolytes.

Here is an excerpt of where I find myself most often, usually after about five minutes of running...

"Hydration: LOW
Electrolytes LOW
Hyponatremia with dehydration
Likelihood:  rare
Weight is down a few pounds or more
Thirst is high, and salty foods taste good
Mouth is dry, can’t spit
May have cramping
Skin is dry and may tent if pinched
May have dizziness on standing up
Causes: insufficient drinking, no electrolyte 
What to do: Take electrolytes and drink 
sports drink or water
Copyright SUCCEED! Sportsdrink LLC, 

Thus I am reexamining my hydration strategy.  One particular item that I often see thrown about is the statistic of how much liquid your body can absorb in one hour.  I see it over and over again stated (almost universally without a reference to actual research) that you can only absorb 32 oz / hour.  Now I assume there must be some research to support this but I sure would like to read this myself.  Any hydration researchers out there?

Finally, here is my random Leadville Race report of the week.  I can not help myself when it comes to reading these things.  If I'm an expert at anything it is Leadville Race reports, because I've read hundreds of them.  I enjoyed RUTrunner's because of the great detail he put in on each part of the race, very informative!

Monday, July 18, 2011


Colorado LeadvilleImage via Wikipedia

There is no reason to believe.

There is NO reason to believe.

In fact there is a mountain of evidence to suggest you should not believe.

I've started six ultramarathons and finished one.  The one I did finish I was DFL and it took me over nine hours to do 31 miles (16:49 pace if you are keeping score at home).

The other races I have missed cutoffs because I slowed down and quit or just quit outright and dropped.  I've puked multiple times, gotten blisters, had breathing problems, knee problems, plantar fasciitis, and generally been dehydrated in every race I have run.  In fact it may be impossible for me to stay hydrated.  I've never peed during a race (a normal sign of proper hydration) and I probably sweat more than my stomach can possibly take in.  My knees sound like Rice Krispies every time I bend them.  Sometimes my nose/throat swells up while running and it feels like I am "breathing" through my ear.  No really.  I'd say I wear orthopedic shoes and get sick just smelling booze, but that would be piling on.  Physically I am weak.

I weigh 250 lbs.  Enough said.

I don't run fast, in fact I probably couldn't run under 28 minutes in a 5k.  My marathon PR is 5:15 and I've been as slow as six hours on a course with no elevation gain.  I've never run more than forty miles and the time I did I thought I was going into shock afterwards.

I'm not a good climber, even power walking.  The piano on my back slows me down.  I don't have the strength or will to power walk (more like stumblin', runblin' and bumblin') and thirty minute miles going up hills are not abnormal.

I don't run fast down hills.  My knees/feet hurt after a few hours and I'm too tentative to gain back much of the time I lost ambling up the hill.

When I'm on level ground I go slow and slower.  If I start off doing five minutes of running for every one minute of walking, it isn't very long before that trend is reversed and I'm walking five times more than I run.

I'm a quitter.  Evidence has shown that I'm not willing to endure the pain and push through the bad patches.  My willpower wanes when things get tough and many times all I can think about is quitting.

I'm a perfectionist.  The first time anything happens which could vaguely be interpreted as bad, or a mistake, I jump to complete and abject failure.  I accept defeat.  In fact I rush to defeat, I embrace it, look for it, make friends with it, and translate anything that happens to mean defeat.  Mentally I am weak.

I'm five weeks out from Leadville and had another epic failure at an ultra.  At the North Fork 50 yesterday I did worse than I did the previous year.  20 miles, fell apart after two hours, had some strange breathing problems, stumbled around for a few more hours and dropped.

Bottom line: I suck at running, and have no business trying to do ultramarathons.


My response to all of this?


I believe.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wyld Stallyns

Be ExcellentImage by Looking Glass via Flickr
I am ready to go.

Someone asked me the always asked question of, "Are you ready?" in reference to Saturday's North Fork 50 miler.  The way my brain worked, I instantly tried to think of a reason for why I'm not.  I couldn't think of one.

I don't have a ton of miles but I've had some good hard runs.  I've put in some relevant mileage.  Other than a few shin twinges my legs feel fresh and ready to tear up the mountain.  I could be a lot lighter but I'm on my way down.  I'm leaner and meaner than I was last year.  I know how I will feel after nine hours in the heat.  I know I will want to stop, but right now I'm preparing to do what is necessary.  I will feel pain, I will want to quit, I will want to slow down, I will want to give up.  I will not.

Instead, I'm going to have fun running 50 miles in the mountains.

Bill S. Preston, Esquire would demand nothing less.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

40 Days and 40 Nights

A Mountain Dew can.                          Image via Wikipedia  Caffeine via I.V. 
The countdown is getting serious now.

40 Days to go.

220 miles of training to go.

Two more "hard" weeks of training to go (e.g more than 60 miles per week).

320 hours of quality sleep to go.

2,347 bypassed cans of Mountain Dew to go.

40,000 net calories to go.

23 lucid dreams about Leadville where I'm either running naked or get lost, to go.  (Wait, are those dreams?)

Losing a four year old child off my back to go. (buh bye poundage)

One fifty mile ultramarathon warmup redemption race to go.

One stroll on the red carpet at 6th and Harrison to go.

I'm really not obsessive compulsive about this thing, it just sort of sneaks into my mind every two or three seconds.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

354 miles to go - Dear Diary

Buildings in downtown Leadville, Colorado, USAImage via Wikipedia
Dear Diary,  -err  Running Journal,

It has been 220 miles since my last blog post.  A few things have happened.

Some mountains have been run.  Some miles have been logged.  Some shoes have been worn out.  Some sweat has been oozed.  Some flight miles have been logged (30,000 or so).   Some running on other continents has occurred.  Some craziness has been engaged in.  Some twenty and thirty mile runs have been done.  Some thousands of feet of elevation have been climbed.  Some sixty mile weeks have been trudged through (OK just one).  Some coaching has been received.  Some low spots have burned.  Some high spots have inspired.   Some running has been done.

Forty-six days to go to Leadville.

That pretty much catches you up on things.

Once again we are on the home stretch.  The North Fork 50 miler is in eleven days. It is the next stop on Ace's redemption tour of failed ultramarathons.    I've actually been feeling pretty good of late.  A Pike's Peak ascent and descent on Saturday actually felt pretty good.  There have been some minor breakthroughs on pacing as well that are encouraging.  I'm still working on downgrading my piano to a harpsichord (i.e. lose more weight)  but progress is slowly being made.

So I hope all your crazy dreams and goals are progressing well and that they involve twinkies and runs in the mountains.  Wanna do 50?  (twinkies that is...)

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

574 Miles to Go - 50 and 50

So this post hasafewprecedents...

Check it fools!  I done run fast.  Thirty-one miles fast.  You like that?  You want some more?  Chew on it for a while running suckahs.  You feeling my speed, my amazing endurance, and sweet aroma (just go with it)?  Yeah you like it, I know you do.  That's why you keep coming back for more.  I pity the fool that tries to get me on that plane...

/end Mr.T inspired rant

You probably didn't know it, but there was a very elite race today, run out in the boondocks of Colorado.

It is called the First Annual Streakrun.com No Puke 50k.  And hey I was the winner and also set the course record!  Pretty sweet for me. The race was, in fact, so exclusive that I was the only runner.  But hey, it made race management much easier.  Though that one guy did complain a lot.

I ran fifty kilometers today.   My time was 7:14 or so.  That is around one hour and forty-five minutes faster than this other 50k I finished.  Admittedly today's course was much easier, (2500' of elevation gain?) but hey a "PR" is a "PR", especially when it happens in a "race", right?  The big change today was there was no eruption of Mount Krakatoa.  I basically drank three to four swallows of water every eight to ten minutes and ate a Gel every thirty minutes.  On this day, it worked perfectly.  My shoes were clean and the side of the road had no liquid fertilizer.  It helped that the extreme wind kept things rather cold (optimism at fighting through the sand storm?) so I didn't have to try and figure out additional salt.  Also I ate bacon.  Eating bacon always results in fast times, guaranteed.  It's a universal truth.

Today I really started visualizing Leadville.  It helped that I started running this morning at 3:45AM.  And I actually felt encouraged.  My time was almost suggestive that I might even make a few cutoffs.  This is nice.  Here's to 50ks under eight hours and weekly mileage totals over fifty.

p.s.  Do you think a mohawk would enhance my professional work appearance?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

605 Miles to Go - Getting the band together

There are exactly 87 days until Leadville 2011.  After looking at version seventeen of my training plan today, I was reminded that the time available to actually prepare for this ridiculous idea of a run is rapidly diminishing.  If I have a five week taper or so, that leaves about eight weeks of hard training.  Eight weeks.  Since the training plan started back in October of last year, you can understand why I might be feeling a little bit of increased pressure.  There is also the fact that there are seventeen versions of the training plan because I generally haven't done a very good job of following the plan.  Skipping runs, getting sick, being lazy, reading blogs about running, and being generally unmotivated get in the way of logging miles.

All that to say: there's no turning back.

It's go time.  There can be no quitting, no stopping, no giving in, just moving forward.  There are no guarantees that any of this will produce the result, but I'm committed to this course and I will pursue it.

Every day for the next eight weeks I have to remain focused on the goal.  Having been a high school sports coach I am prone to cheesy motivational activities.  So a few months ago I "bought" something that was gouda-flavored.  

It's hard to see but the band says Hope ^2 or Hope Squared.  Then there are some mountains on both sides of the words.  What does it mean?  Well for me there is a spiritual component to my hope and there is a running component to my hope.  The underlying principle of both is that hope has to be lived out practically.  If I place my trust and faith in God or on anything else, (like the idea that I could finish a 100 mile race in the mountains) then my actions will match that.  If I believe in the possibility of earning a buckle, then I necessarily will run.  And train.  And stop trying to relive episodes of Man vs Food at home.  The other layer of meaning for Hope ^2 is of course that to finish the race you must go over Hope Pass at 12,600' of elevation.  Twice.

So why wear a bright green, glow in the dark (ok, I love that part, it will help guide me on the trails through the night, right?  Also, it freaks out teh wifey :)) piece of silicone?  Well for me, it's like a string tied around my finger.  It is there to remind me.  I need to be reminded of what my goals are, what I need to do to try and get there, and most of all to remind me where my hope is placed.

Cheesy?  Yeah, go cut a slice.  Hopeful?  I am.

Where is your hope?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

665 Miles to go - An Ode to my DNF at the 2011 Greenland 50k.

ODE-Abzeichen                                                               Image via Wikipedia

My tiny trot around the Greenland trail
did not proceed as far as once was thought.
I should have stopped and brought along a pail,
to have a place that spew and chunks be caught.
My inability to hold my drink
has once again confused and vexed my mind.
This inauspicious tale is not so fun
Although it gives a show to those that think
the shouting at my shoes is still unkind.
The rub?  I stopped. Defeat.  I should have run.

The course was long but many held the line
and pushed along four loops of windy fare.
Eight mile repeats, green lands, the heat did shine
and blisters grew and raged in my footwear.
All this belies my fundamental fall,
to listen to the voices of despair.
I stopped and pondered each refrain of doubt
and gave ear to lies of comfort, there's the gall.
I will not linger in this place of care,
It's time to tie the laces and run...out.

Race Report Summary:  Three laps (23 miles), puking, dehydration, giving up, regretting it, resolving to try again.

p.s. In honor of this disgrace to the English Ode, all comments should be in Iambic Pentameter.  :)
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Friday, May 6, 2011

697 Miles to Go - Greenland 50k eve

Well I'm running tomorrow.  I've run exactly three times since the race two weeks ago.  I hadn't planned this but the severe congestion I came away from the race with has been lingering and making me sick.  I also hadn't planned a taper, but I guess it is my blessing in disguise.

The cutoff for this race is eight hours.  This is one less than Cheyenne.  That is only 4mph.  This is very doable.

I've made a few changes in the hydration/nutrition plan.  I'm back to hitting Perpetuem as the primary source of calories.  I dropped some electrolyte tabs in my hydration pack, and I'm going to try SCaps instead of Endurolytes if I need them.  The forecast says 80+ degrees so I assume I will need them.

Mantra of the day is don't stop moving.  It's a law of averages.  If I keep moving, albeit slowly, the average stays up.  Stopping kills the average.  Must keep moving.

It's time to drop two letters and turn last year's DNF into a F.  Maybe a F!  Maybe a Fast Finish!  Maybe a Flaming Fast Five Furious Finish? F's all around.  Even DFL will be fine.

Game on.

Monday, May 2, 2011

700 miles to Go - Time to Run

TimeImage by Rickydavid via Flickr
It's only a matter of time now.  The training plan used to take up most of an entire sheet of paper.  There are fewer and fewer relevant lines on the spreadsheet.

The overall status is that I'm behind the plan but ahead of last year.  Coming away with some chest congestion and sickness from the last race hasn't helped but maybe I just needed some rest?

There are exactly 700 miles in the training plan left.  I could look at that and feel some dread, but I think I'm going to try and enjoy each mile.  It would be easy for me to hate the fact that I'm going to have to invest so much time and effort into trying to do this, but I think that would be wasting all of that time.  I don't want 700 junk miles, just so I can check some boxes; I want to maximize each moment.  I want to treasure the blessing of being able to run and train.  I want to maximize the pleasure and usefulness and life contained in each step.  I don't have 700 miles left to run, I ONLY have 700 miles to enjoy before the race!  Someone asked me how I would walk into my job tomorrow if I was really passionate about doing the work.  I told them I wouldn't walk.  I would run!

And I'm not guaranteed one more step.  The future is uncertain, the past is murky.  All I have is the right now.

It's time to run.

    "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me; 
    For now hath time made me his numbering clock: 
    My thoughts are minutes; and with sighs they jar 
    Their watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch, 
    Whereto my finger, like a dial's point, 
    Is pointing still, in cleansing them from tears. 
    Now sir, the sound that tells what hour it is 
    Are clamorous groans, which strike upon my heart, 
    Which is the bell: so sighs and tears and groans 
    Show minutes, times, and hours: "

Act 5 Scene 5,  Richard II.  W.S.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Top Ten Things I Learned from a DFL at the 2011 Cheyenne Mountain 50k.

First of all, here is a quick recap.  Here is my ultramarathon history thus far:

1.  May 1, 2010.  Greenland 50k  - DNF.
2.  July 17, 2010.  North Fork 50mile - DNF.
3.  August 22, 2010.  Leadville 100 mile - DNF.

Thus out of three tries at ultramarathon distances I was a big 0 for 3.

Crossing the Finish Line...
As of today I am now 1 for 4.

Race Report, the Short Version:

I ran the inaugural Cheyenne Mountain 50k and finished.

I also won an award.  :)  (I was D.F.L.)

Race Report, the REALLY Long Version:

The Prep

The training going into this race was not particularly strong.  I only had one recent 20+ mile run in the bag and the best word to describe my running would be piddlin'.
The Pre-Race Meeting.

However that wasn't going to stop me from giving another ultramarathon a try.  Having been reminded of the gnarly nature of the course I knew it would require a big effort, but hey why not give some pain and suffering a try?

During the drive in I heard the weather forecast, 30's to 40's with likely rain and snow showers and strong winds.  Awesome.  If you're going to go do this ultramarathon thing, who wants it to be easy?   If you were going for easy, you'd be doing the "running" game on Wii Sports by duct taping a wii-mote to your dog and yelling at him while lying on the couch, or something...

So I got there, met up with one of my Leadville Partners in Crime (I need a good pseudonym for him) and got geared up.

A quick note on the race.  This was the inaugural instance of this race and I would have to say it came off very well.  The dedication and performance of the volunteers will be elaborated on later, but things went very smoothly and evidence of good planning was clearly seen.

I had hoped to finish in about 7:30 or 7:45.  I knew the course would be open for nine hours so I wasn't too worried about not being able to finish.  About that....

The Start

The start signal went off and I, in the very back of the pack, took off.  I recognized a few familiar faces right away.  I saw the nice lady who was screaming at me at Leadville to come back and get on the right course (MP3 player prevented me from hearing her) and I also got to meet the legendary Ulrich Kamm.

Ulli, is simply amazing.  He has competed in over 220 ultramarathons.  He has finished Hard Rock ten times.  I first heard about him in a Leadville report (something about him recommending panty hose as a way to prevent blisters?!?).  One part of the Ulli legend is that he walks.  He walks these ultras and does not run.  However, I can attest to the fact that his walking is incredible.  He is literally a machine.  His incredibly fast walking pace does not slow for rough terrain, or hills, or weather.  It is just a constant bruising pace that is relentless.  Plus he seems to be a really nice guy.  He and his wife were laughing and smiling and joking at the start, very nice folks.

That being said, I knew having Ulli around would be somewhat like having a pacer.  The speed would be constant and I could judge how well I was doing by where I was in relation to Ulli.   So on a downhill stretch I went past him and tried to make up some time.  In fact I became a little bit obsessed by the idea of beating Ulli...

Here is some rare video footage captured from early in the race....

So for the first two hours I was pushing HARD.   In fact probably way too hard.  Many times I caught myself with a heart rate out of control and heavy breathing (this time I was running).  Not good for so early in the race.  I finished the first 10k in 1:20 which probably seems slow to most humans, but for the course and conditions and especially for me that was way too fast.   That would have been a 6:40 finish pace. I would come to pay dearly for this later.

The Trouble

In fact I was about three hours into the race when I started to feel not so good.  In fact I didn't even realize how badly I felt, until I stopped for a moment to stretch out my hamstrings and back by bending over and started to feel Krakatoa erupting.  Krakatoa is the technical term I use to refer to my stomach rejecting all of it's current contents.  This occurred shortly after taking my second endurolyte tablet of the day.  This was unbelievably frustrating.  I did feel much better after shouting at my shoes for several minutes, but it also made me realize how badly I had been feeling before that.  I was also not even half way and for this to occur at this point was rather demoralizing.  I was having the same eating/drinking/hydrating/salting/polluting the side of the trail problems as I had had several times before.

Around this time Ulli blew past me and I had to watch his pink fanny pack bounce away as I shuffle-walked along the trail.

Snow is coming...
I finished the first 25k in 4:02 or so.  The second half of the 25k loop of the course was VERY tough going.  There were some brutal climbs and up on the top of the ridges the snow and wind were coming in hard.  Teh wifey/coach and the whole family were there (for six hours on a nasty weather day!) and gave me some much needed encouragement.  Having kids is really not good for my desire to quit.  I look at those little faces and the lovely face of my best friend and I see so much belief and hope in me (of all people!) and I just can't let them down.  So I kept going.  I really didn't want to.

The first half of the second loop was in the words of that cultural epic, Wildcats,  U-G-L-Y, and no, I had no alibi...two and a half hours of just a slogging torturefest.  Every time I took a salt tab I would throw up some more.    Then after not taking salt for a while the cramps would hit like a knife in my thigh.  It was not a pretty picture.  I was still run/walking though I wasn't sure why.

The Cutoffs

At the midway point of each loop you come back towards the starting area.  It was getting to be about 6:20 into the race and I called teh wifey/coach to let her know I was coming in so they could see me.  When she answered the phone she had a terse and urgent message for me.

"They just decided that if you aren't at the next aid station in ten minutes they are going to cut your band (Leadville talk for pull you from the race) so you had better start running and get your butt down here NOW!"

This caused a slight panic.  I did not want another DNF.  I did not want another /fail on the list.  I did NOT want to write another post about the Top Ten things I learned from a DNF.  Learning stinks some times.  I started running as hard as I could.  At first I thought I was pretty close and that it wouldn't be a problem to make the cut off.  I could hear "the crew" singing encouraging songs (you know they are sheer awesomeness right?) through the trees and thought it was just right around the corner.  Then the trail turned.  Away from the starting area.  It was farther than I thought it was.  I wanted to cry.  I became convinced I wasn't going to make it.  The part of my mind that wanted to quit was assuaging me saying, "that's OK, now you'll get to stop, take a rest, relax, it's out of your hands..."  I kept running.  A race volunteer met me on the trail and said "You're gonna have a 90 second window either way if you keep running AND if you look like you can finish."  Great, I thought, now I have to be an actor as well.

Is that a gang sign?  Also, this makes
it look like I'm not in last place.

I ran the rest of the way to the aid station, wiped the puke off my mouth, puffed out my chest, and made it there in exactly 6:30.  I grabbed some Heed and water and calories and moved on.  Strangely enough I asked the same sort of question I spoke at Leadville because the situation fit again.  "Did I just sprint so I could have the privilege of running 2.5 more hours?"  Answer? Yes.  Now get going.

The last eight miles were slow as you might guess.  There are a number of places on the course were it would have been very easy to take a different turn and cut off a few miles but I covered every step.  (Rumor was there was someone out there who was taking a few shortcuts....)  The sweepers caught up with me and ran me in.  The volunteers were great, very encouraging, and tried to provide everything they could just to get me to the finish.  Thanks Mary, Jane, and Keith!  I felt very guilty that I was keeping them out there that long, but their attitude was of pure generosity and service.  Amazing!  There were some fun moments even on that last lap.  The snow started coming down very heavily and it was a beautiful sight just to be out there in it.

The Wrap Up

And so after much meandering I finished.  9:05 approximately.  The race director ruled it an official finish, though they had already broken down the timing mat and race chute so I'm not on the official results page.  However I did earn a very prestigious honor by finishing, and that was the D.F.L.  If you're not familiar with the term, it stands for Dead F*$@ing Last.  It was nice.  There were even some quite nice prizes for being the D.F.L.  including shoes, a trail running magazine subscription ( I think they're hoping reading it will make me faster) and some chiro sessions.  Someone asked me if i minded being the D.F.L. and in the true spirit of Eddie the Eagle I said, being the DFL is better than a DNF.

And so I say thanks.  Thanks to Andrea, the race director for putting on a great race, and letting me push on even though it meant you and the crew had to stay out in the rain for a while longer.  Thanks to my sweeper friends and the other race volunteers for the encouragement and supplies, and patience.  Congrats to my Leadville partner-in-crime who finished in 6:36 for his first marathon AND ultramarathon finish!  And especially thanks to teh wifey/coach and the fam for enduring an incredibly long day and giving me everything I needed to keep going.

I'm not going to linger on the implications of finishing in such a pitiful time, I'm just going to linger on a finish.  I'm not going to worry about what this means for other racees I have signed up for, I'm just going to enjoy crossing the line.  I'll probably continue to think about my hydration/nutrition/gastrointestinal challenges, but not today.

Today I'm smiling.

The O'fer is over....

Top Ten Things I Learned from a D.F.L. at the 2011 Cheyenne Mountain 50k.
  1. Teh wifey and fam' are the best support crew ever!
  2. Pink fanny packs are very motivational.
  3. I should include a mid-race sprint in all of my training runs to simulate the desperate rush to make cut-offs.
  4. Running in the snow is always fun.
  5. Gravity is not my friend.
  6. Cougar Shadow and North Talon trails, you are not my friends.
  7. Endurolytes are often not my friend.
  8. I need more friends.
  9. I'm an official ultramarathoner.  (I know, I know, it was only a 50k, go stick it!)
  10. Finishing is worth it. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Yes, I'm Manly

So a while back I traveled to Australia for work.  It was nice.  They have kangaroos there, and Veg-O-mite.  The kangaroos like most other rational beings do not like Veg-O-mite.  The picture here is from a trip over to a place called Manly Beach.  It is a little beach town that exudes a rather touristy vibe.  Also featured in this picture is "Gary" but that explanation deserves a whole different series of posts.

The best part about travelling to Manly Beach, besides a sunny day on the ocean, is the fact that Manly beach is very, well, manly.  There is no prissy, wimpy, wussiness allowed here.

They have Manly kebabs and other food items.  (Note they sell food in "buckets".

They have Manly jewellers.  (A wide assortment
of Mr.T chains no doubt.)

And of course a Manly pharmacy.  You'll have to
use your imagination on that one.

Naturally being a Manly type runner I fit right in.  What does it take to be a Manly runner?  So glad you asked.

My definition of a manly runner includes, but is not limited to the following characteristics:

  1. No full body pink spandex.
  2. No Yanni, John Tesh, or other pan flute artists on the mp3 player.  Jazz flute might be ok?
  3. No whining.
  4. No quitting.
  5. You must have Big Hairy Audacious Goals.
  6. You must do races where at least once during the race you question your own sanity.
  7. You must enjoy long runs on the beach, while watching sunsets and -err scratch that, skip this one.
  8. You must want to make it hurt.
  9. You must use the subjunctive tense in many sentences consecutively.
  10. You must compete and sprint the last 100 meters for the 463rd spot out of 465 runners, just because you can.  And because you don't want to get chicked by your great-grandma.
For the record these particular "Manly" qualities could apply to anyone regardless of gender.  So welcome all of you to my Manly Running Club.  See you at the beach!

Anyone else have any other qualities of "Manly" runners to share?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

20 at 13, Cheers!

So I ran twenty miles on Saturday.

I believe I have run more than twenty miles on exactly thirteen occasions. That really isn't very many. Three failed ultras (35, 31, and 23 miles), two official marathon finishes (26.2 each time, go figure :)), and now eight training runs of more than twenty miles with the longest being forty (does that count as two twenties?). I had not run more than twenty miles since this memorable moment, and that was eight months ago. Time flies.

There is something satisfying about breaking that barrier of twenty miles.  I guess your speed and pace matter even less than normal if you've gone at least twenty miles.  There is less speed mockery when you can come back with, "well yeah but I went twenty!"  It's nice.

The course was all on trails and some dirt roads.  Most of it was in Homestead Ranch Regional Park.  There were some pretty decent climbs and there weren't a lot of pancake-flat sections.  Other than a water/dehydration mix up I felt pretty good throughout.  I'm not in good shape, but I'm finally building up a bit of endurance.  I had been sort of doing the internal debate of even running, but thanks to some "tough love" motivation from teh wifey/coach I did it.  Thanks G.E.

What does all of this mean?  It just means I have 18 more long runs to...enjoy...

Here's to twenty milers! Cheers!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Final Countdown

So my revealing confession of the day is that when I was in high screwl I was in band.  And not just in band, I played pep band.  I played a LOT of pep band.  I did a lot of different activities in high screwl, but none more consistently than playing in the pep band.  Having been in pep band there are a few songs which are permanently scarred into my subconscious.  This is one of them.

And thus the twisted connection in my brain is that the final countdown has begun. There are 177 days and ten hours until the 2011 Leadville 100 Trail Run begins. I am signed up. Again. This is good since the race has filled up a few months earlier than last year.

There is something even more twisted about signing up a second time. The first time, you are fairly ignorant as to the level of pain and suffering you have wrought upon yourself. The second time, you have a much better idea of what doing this will bring, and yet you sign up anyway.

Here's to embracing the pain!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Marketing Based Bemusement

Diabetic SocksImage by Seth W. via Flickr
So on the current visit to my nearly defunct running blog, I was greeted by an adbrite ad for diabetic socks.  For those who have diabetes this is not funny.  For someone like me who has at times equated running with a last ditch effort to avoid morbid obesity this is both sardonic and motivational in a twisted sort of way at the same time.

I have run.   Not a lot, but I am working the plan (which has to be revised by teh coach on a weekly basis.)  Plans are being formed.  Ridiculous, big, hairy, audacious burritos are NOT being eaten.  And there is a general, vague effort being made towards improved fitness.  All of course to the end of potentially facing, the race that will not be named?  Time will tell.  For now I'm sticking to the drymax, and hitting F5 to see what new surprises will come.*

* (While adhering to all applicable TOS's everywhere...)

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Friday, January 14, 2011

2010 Year in Review - where I suddenly become an optimist. /snicker

Right.  So here we are.  Having this talk again.

Last year started with this.  I made some goals.  Let's review.

Goal:  "1. Be X-50"    Analysis: Right.  Next.

Goal:  "2. Run a 50 miler"  Analysis:  I actually tried two ultras; a 50k and a 50 miler prior to Leadville.  Results  FAIL and also, FAIL.

Goal: "3. Do whole body training"  Analysis:  Does vigrously moving my mouse a lot count?  FAIL.

Goal: "4. Run a 100 miler"  Analysis:  We all remember this, right?  FAIL.

Goal: "5. Enter the application for Hard Rock" and "6. Run the Race"  both N/As due to the aforementioned FAILs.

So to summarize, what we have here is a failure to communicate.  And achieve any goals at all.

However I was consistent. (OPTIMISM ALERT)

Honestly I know there was some sense of value from attempting these nut ball activities.  There was enjoyment to be had, good memories with friends, meeting some new folks, (POSITIVE SPIN?--- OPTIMISM) as well as a lot of puking, injuries, ultrasounds, approximately 1,324 Cliff bars eaten, more puking, promising to never run again, following through on that promise for about three months, puking, body glide stains on clothes, and lastly more puking.

The numbers say I made 905 miles for the year.  That is the most I've ever had!  (OPTIMISM)  Of course I had 740 by the end of July and one entire month where I did not run a step.  Ouch.

Needless to say, I'm back at it again.  Teh coach would rightly point out that I'm behind schedule, but I'm working the plan.

Tune in tomorrow for the unveiling of a new list of goals that will crash and burn in a raging death spiral,  (but close to a fire station so it won't take them too long to put out the blaze and thus save the surrounding countryside from an overwhelming conflagration.  (OPTIMISM!))