Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hop, Flap, Buzz, Ick: Run Log Week of August 24

Grasshoppers and August
It's late, dry, hot August. And that means one thing: Grasshoppers. The trails are loaded with the little buggers. Hop, Flap, Buzz, Ick, that's what they do. It is, in fact, the only time of the year when I am tempted to shave or at least clip, my leg hairs. It is constant: they hop to get out of the way; flap their little wings in the air; buzz my leg hairs with that flapping; and ICK! It's gross. But it's all okay, September is right around the corner. Cooler days, much less hop, flap, buzz, ick.

79 miles for the week, the eleventh in a row over 70 (in fact 834 miles in those weeks). One more in the 70's probably, then an easy week before the Imogene Pass Run. After that, serious training for the North Face 50K.

Step one was taken this week with the first 20 mile run. I don't believe I have done one of those in at least three years. It was set up with very low expectations. I didn't mention it prior to heading out the door, and in fact, didn't really commit to it until the twelve mile mark. The "plan" was to run the 14 mile loop, which had the possible extension to 20 right there at 12.  Can't  complain for the most part. Felt downright good for 18, then the wheels came off the wagon. The heat didn't help. The run began at a nice 58 degrees and ended at 84.

Given my travel schedule this week, I was not only surprised about the 20, but equally surprised about the 79. Basically ran in Chattanooga, Atlanta, Omaha and home and was able to keep the volume up. Nice.

Pretty excited about the impending climb up Imogene Pass (Sep 12). Hoping I can actually make it. We'll see. In the meantime, another week of serious mileage.

Run on.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Destination: All Over. Run Log August 10-23

Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga
The past two weeks have been busy: teaching, travel, nights away from home. In the past, these are the weeks that tend to kill any hope for mileage. This time, however, it’s been different. I guess my newfound motivation is real as in every city, on every trip, I have been able to run and keep the mileage up. I’m pretty excited about that.

My mileage presently sits at 70 or mile miles per week for 10 weeks in a row. I’m finding that to be a new norm. I’m finding that when I’m out there, five or six miles just isn’t enough. It’s like cheating or something. I suppose, like all things, that will pass. In the meantime, I kind of like it.

With my travel schedule, I have been fortunate enough to run in some cool places. No, not the Alps or Pyrennes or even the Tetons. Just the same, some nice places. It began, sort of, with my run on the Barr Trail in Manitou Springs a couple of weeks ago. Steep, difficult, exhausting, but totally worth it. 

Next came Gillette, Wyoming. It’s not like there are mountain trails in Gillette or even trails for that matter. Gillette has this area called the Fishing Lakes that sits in the middle of town and is…. just pretty, tranquil and kind of nice. It’s one of the things I look forward to when I go there.

Chattanooga was the next destination. There was an article in DIRT magazine (which is
Piedmont Park, Atlanta
kind of a subsidiary of Trail Running Mag) about Chattanooga as a trail runner’s destination of choice, so to speak. My own personal experience was limited to Lookout Mountain, but I have to say, it was awesome. Some rolling singletrack, some steep, technical climbs, everything someone trying to get ready for the Imogene Pass Run might like. I only logged one run on those trails, but it was a blast.

Yesterday I was in downtown Atlanta. This morning’s 11 mile run was destined to be a city run, but lo and behold, five blocks from my hotel was Piedmont Park. Yay. Piedmont Park is the semi-typical city park, much like Wash Park or City Park in Denver. One key thing separated it from my hometown parks: I’d never run there. It was a total exploration and just a lot of fun.

Tomorrow, I will be in Omaha, Nebraska. Given where I’m teaching and where I am staying, the options may not be as exciting. Given the roll I’m on, however, you never know.


Run on.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How Do You Like Your Ass Served?

Pikes Peak lurks over the hill
The question tonight is How do you like your ass? The context for the question is that in the last four + months, I have lost a LOT of weight, I'm consistently running 70-80 miles a week and tonight, on a simple 9 mile run: I got my ass handed to me! The Barr Trail, Manitou Springs: 4 1/2 miles up, 4 1/2 down. Roughly 2800 feet of elevation gain on the way up. I repeat: I got my ass handed to me. So much for Rich Sands, badass runner dude.

On the upside, two things: 1) I've wondered what my max heart rate is. Answer: around 175 which is not bad for a fella my age. How do I know this, cuz I spent a bunch of time trying to run uphill, dying, sucking air at 173 ish, Upside 2): Salomon makes some awesome trail shoes and my Speedcross 3's were considerably more up to the task than their wearer. 


A sort of flat section 3 miles up
Valuable lessons: 1) the Cherry Creek State Park trails are nice, but they're not real mountain trails; 2) steep uphills hurt your back if your core is weak; 3) you might think you're a pretty good downhill runner until everyone and their dog flies past you.

By the way, side note, Kilian Jornet calls the Barr Trail a "fast track." Rotten kid!

In 1979 I ran the Pikes Peak Marathon and upon completion was heard to say, "I'll NEVER do that again." Now I remember why. 

Run on

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

49 Years Running: It's Who I Am


49 Years and "miles of trials"
I know my birthday. I know my wife's birthday, my sons' birthdays, my step daughter's. I know my wedding anniversary (the first one and the present one). I'm a guy who knows his dates. I also know that on this day forty-nine years ago, I became a runner. Forty-nine years is longer, by the way, than I have done anything in my life with the exception of being alive; a son; a brother.

So, Happy 49th Runner-versary To Me!

Things change in 49 years. When I began running, there was no Nike (ah, would love to return to those days), no cellphones, no Gore-Tex, no lycra (a blessing on the run in more ways than one), no internet (in fact we didn't even know who Al Gore was). There was no GPS (you knew how far you'd run because you knew how long it took and you KNEW pace). It was different. It was also the same.

In 1966, I'd head out the door an enter a world of my own choices. I could think, I could drift. I could push it, I could GPS it (yeah GPS stood for Go Pretty Slow a long time ago). I could compete with others, myself, or I could run in total mental and physical isolation. My choice.

Today, i have the same choices. I like that.

In 1966 Bobbi Gibb ran the Boston Marathon. Bob Anderson started The Distance Running News (eventually became Runner's World). Steve Prefontaine was a sophomore.
HEROES: Left to Right, Top: Frank Shorter, Steve Prefontaine, Joan Benoit
Samuelson, Rob de Castella, Dean Karnazes Middle: Jim Ryun, Ron Clarke
Grete Waitz, Moses Tanui, Ryan Hall Bottom: Dave Wottle,
Kilian Jornet, Meb Keflezighi

I began logging my miles in 1966, mostly because Coach Pingel said I should. I had a small group of heroes: Jim Ryun, Ron Clarke, Al Ruffner (teammate and state champion during my first year of running). Today, my heroes are everywhere. Back then, my heroes were older than me, today they are considerably younger (not surprising since most runners today are younger than me). I ran because I wanted to excel, and because I REALLY liked it. It was fun! 

Social Media has made it possible to not only follow SO many races and racers up close and personal, but to also be social media "friends." There are podcasts, live streaming of events, online reviews of gear, and interviews galore. There is Universal Sports and Bein covering Track & Field and some road races. There is usatf.tv, Salomon Running, Kilian Jornet, The Ginger Runner, and a plethora of opportunities to get my running fix at any time of the day or night.

Races give medals for just showing up (sometimes you actually have to finish too). The sheer volume of my T Shirt collection is off the charts (my oldest not-quite-disintegrated one goes back to 1972 when I purchased a Florida Track Club shirt so I could be like Frank and Jack). We have gun times, chip times, but still, just like before, we have good times. Runners are typically some of the nicest, coolest, real people on the planet.
SHOES: Left to Right, Top: Bata Bullets, Tiger Obhori, Salomon Speedcross,
Middle: Brooks Transcend. New Balance 1260, Nike Air Max,
Nike Huarache, BottomL Adidas Tokyo, Nike Waffle

In the end, in spite of the many ways running has changed in the last 49 years, I still run (and as of today it's 106,970 miles) because I like it. The benefits have been eternal: friends, travel, achievements, creativity, madness, joy, despair, peace. But mostly, it's an activity that is a part of me, a part of my life.

Four years ago today I wrote this about that first day: "I began a journey that would transform my life with a simple 30 minute run. And while the travel, people and the racing have all been rewarding, I knew that first day that there was something I really liked about the act of running. I wasn't exactly sure what it was, but I felt something.

Running was/is a simple activity, cyclical in its nature. One foot placed in front of the next in order to move forward: to cover ground, to open my mind, to allow me opportunities to escape my troubles or celebrate my triumphs. Mostly, to connect me to and strengthen my relationship with this planet upon which I exist. For that, I am ecstatically, humbly grateful."

It's all still true. Maybe more today, than ever.

I am who I am because I run. I run because it's who I am.

Run On! 

How the journey began: (http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2011/08/happy-anniversary-to-me-45-years-of.html)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Georgetown Rules: Run Log Week of August 3rd

The highlight of this week was my sixth running of the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon. Two things: the last time I ran it was twenty years ago. That seems like a LOOOONG time ago. The first time I ran it was thirty years ago. My time this year was 1:56:20 and while I am not displeased with that, it is BY FAR, my slowest ever. Race Report here: 
http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2015/08/its-been-twenty-years.html

In 1985, I ran 1:29:15. The next year was 1:29:57. Then I took six years off only to return with a mediocre race in 1:34:51 in 1993. In 1995, I redeemed my self a bit as part of a month of pretty good races. 10Ks of 38:35 and 39:03 led me into a 1:29:24 at the GTIS. At that time I was a young 43 years old. The only nicer Master's month was in 2000 (at the ripe old age of 48) when I ran 3:10:33 at the Flying Pig Marathon, followed by a 1:27:33 two weeks later at the Dexter to Ann Arbor Half, followed two days later by a 41:00 at the Bolder Boulder.

Anyway, it's a race I really enjoy and I was glad to get back. Next year, we'll get it down to 1:45 ish.

This next week looks to be exciting as I am in Colorado Springs for two days and hope to hit the Barr Trail. I need some vertical before the Imogene Pass Run and that will be the launching point. The 12th will also mark my 49 year runner-versary.

So 77 miles for the week, up to 1470 for the year (not bad for missing almost three weeks with a bad hammy) and 106,935 total (65 short of turning 107,000). All in all, no complaints.
How about you?

Run on.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

It's Been Twenty Years: Georgetown to Idaho Springs Report

Wow, I knew it had been a long time. The last time I ran the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon was twenty years ago. It was August 12, 1995 and I scalded my young friend Geoff Lawton in the process. 1:29:24 for me; way behind for him (yeah, I'm still rubbing that one in, Geoff).

Today, adding twenty years added 57 minutes. Yikes (and by the way, "you've come a long way, baby" doesn't work here)!  Maybe it shouldn't have been quite that much. I guess that had I pushed myself a little more I might have knocked off another 2-3 minutes. But se la vie! 

My goals were to break 2 hours and do it without injury or incident. Mission accomplished. The start was the way most are these days, crowded, with a lot of swerving. My first mile was a pedestrian 9:23. Things broke out a bit and the second was right around 9. Then I got in this 8:40 ish groove that lasted until the last two miles. It felt comfortable.

When in the course of running 13.1 miles, the body goes through a myriad of experiences. Most of the time mine felt pretty good. Occasionally some specific area called for attention. A griping knee, a hip, a hamstring. Never at the same time, mind you, always working in close concert with one another so that I never got to feel TOO good.

I passed through the 10K faster than I had run the Bolder Boulder (which isn't saying much at all but I'll still take it). 

The course was different compared to twenty years ago.. More trail and gravel now, but neither was anything close to annoying, so while a bit surprised, it was completely okay with me. The GTIS is a net downhill course. I stress the word NET because there are a decent amount of uphills too. But actually few of the uphills were steep or long and for the most part, they were a nice muscular change from the downhill.

All in all, no complaints. GREAT weather, a nice course and lots of fit, happy people made for an excellent day. A couple of observations, however.
1. You can't run very fast unless you occasionally train fast. I knew this anyway, but today was a reminder. With speed, however, comes potential injury SOOOOO..... we'll introduce that slowly and carefully.
2. While I've lost A LOT of weight in the last four months, I have a long way to go. I began this quest to re-find me at 228.6 pounds, currently at 190.0. I'd say 25 to go. One step (and/or pound) at a time.

Tomorrow we'll see how we feel. I anticipate tights calves, but a little rolling and some light stretching should allow a better run in the morning. Next stop is the Imogene Pass Run 17+ miles from Ouray to Telluride over Imogene Pass (a completely different animal). With five weeks to go, it's time to head for the mountains. See you on the trail.

Run on.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

GTIS: Ready or Not! Run Log Week of July 27

Well, the "racing" season begins Saturday at the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon. I carefully place the word racing in quotes as, while I'll will be at a race Saturday, I don't really think we'll do much racing. 

Packet pickup was actually a week ahead of time (I REALLY liked that). It was held at the Runner's Roost in Denver and was as easy as it could possibly be. As you can see, I received lucky number 1360 (not sure if that's a lucky number, but perception is truth, right?). The T shirt was simple, but cool, so all that's left to do is run.

Being a goal-centered individual, yes, I have some goals for the "race." First and foremost (as always) I want to get from Point A to Point B without injury or incident. Beyond that, I have to confess, this is really just a test. I'd like to see what eight weeks of consistent mileage has given me. I don't expect to be fast as I have done nothing in training that would bring about that result. I'm looking to see what my push-it-comfort pace is. If I could run in the 1:50's (yeah, that's a ten minute window), I would be satisfied. Faster than that would be great, slower than that means I chose to not hurt. We'll see. That's the beauty of the race.


The last eight weeks mileage
As for the week of July 27, I logged 90 miles. That's the highest mileage for me in a LOOOONG time. For the month of July, the number was 340 miles, up considerably from the 278 in June. I also lost a pound and a half, down to 191.2. That's a 37 1/2 pound drop since April. About 20-25 more to go....

I had some very nice runs this week. I pretty much stayed in the Cherry Creek State Park all week, but mixed in some things on the Northeast end. As always, the woods were the most pleasurable area. Even there, I tried out a few side trails and reversed direction as often as possible. This week I will cut back to 60ish. Not really any kind of a race-mileage taper, more just don't want very tired legs come Saturday.

After GTIS, it'll be five weeks until the Imogene Pass Run from Ouray to Telluride followed by a trail half marathon in Granby later in September. A couple of races in both October and November (maybe a marathon snuck in there), all culminating with the North Face Endurance Challenge 50K near San Francisco on December 5. Too much fun!

Run on!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

George/Mary Ann Was Right!

It's been one of those weird weeks. Torn. That's what I've been. Torn. Yes/No, Too Old/Just Right. Shoulda/Coulda/Woulda. What's he talking about?

I've been doing two things this week: booking classes for the rest of 2015 and trail running lots of miles while focusing on getting extremely fit. Outside of those things and my wonderful evenings hanging out with my wife, Linda, not much else is happening. In a lot of ways I like that. Keep it simple, right? Well, both of those things have been going so well that the overriding theme of the week, at least in my mind, has been, "Why wasn't I doing these things twenty years ago?"

Twenty years ago, had these activities been squarely on my plate, I could have "been a contender, I coulda been somebody." Well, I was somebody twenty years ago and still am, but maybe you know what I mean. I think it can be difficult in life to find new passions in your, so called, twilight years. There is a part of the brain that says, "you're doing well, you're having a blast, but guess what? You are 63 years old and you can't do this for much longer. You missed your chance."

It's the classic devil-angel confrontation (see picture above).


"George" Eliot - Good Angel
George Eliot said, "It's never too late to be what you might have been." George Eliot, by the way, was really named Mary Ann Evans. George/Mary Ann was an author, probably most famous for the book Silas Marner. Well, George/Mary Ann not only hit the nail on the head, but showed up right on time. It is NEVER too late to become what you might have been, it is NEVER too late to have passion for life, it is NEVER too late to maximize the moment. Take THAT, devil shoulder!

So with George/Mary Ann firmly attached to the winning shoulder, here's what I did this week: I booked five classes for the remainder of 2015 AND four for 2016. I will, by weeks end, run 90+ miles for the seven days, the most in AGES. I have entered my first Ultra Marathon, the North Face Challenge 50K (31+ miles) in December. And...... I feel like I'm just getting started. Busy ass, trail running Rich.

Yeah baby, we're on a roll. And what do you do when you're on a roll?

You keep rolling.