Monday, September 21, 2015

Boring Week: Log September 14

YAWN....... Quite the boring week. While boring, several things of note:

1. Fourteenth week in a row over 70 miles. 1905 for the year. I just don't seem to be able to stop. Any run less than 6 or 7 miles doesn't seem worth doing and most of the time I'll be on an 8 or 9 mile loop and add on. There are worse problems to have....

2. Seem to be healed up from Imogene. Took it easy this week, stayed off the hills and did a plethora of things to help my stiff, spasmed back. Still a little tight, but already began getting back to the strength and core stuff for prevention.

3. Imogene magnet. Within two days of returning from my DNF (see http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-many-faces-of-dnf-log-week-of-sep-7.html) I have decided I MUST go back next year and redeem myself.

4. Down to 185 pounds. That's 44 lost since late March. Looking for 15-20 more by mid- November. Eventually, we'll see (I weighed 139 in high school!).

5. Put my DNF blog (see link above) on the Imogene Pass Run Facebook page. YIKES! Normally one of my posts gets 40-50 views. This time: 386.

6. Traveling all of this week. We'll see how the miles stack up.

So that's my boring week. Run on!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Many Faces of DNF: Log week of Sep 7

DNF: Did Not Finish. That was/is my final status at the 2015 Imogene Pass Run. I don't take dropping out of races lightly. In fact, in 49 years of running it's happened less than a half a dozen times. My drop out rule is simple: if I am hurt to the point where I believe I will be doing considerable damage by continuing, I MIGHT drop out.

This year I reached mile 6 of the 10 mile uphill that begins the 17+ mile journey from Ouray to Telluride in pretty good shape. Clicking off 12 and 13 minute miles, my legs felt okay, my spirits were good. Then, very quickly, my back began to tighten. By seven miles it was spasms. At the Upper Bird station, I was determined to press on knowing that with the top, came the downhill (and I LOVE running downhill). Very quickly, it became walk five steps, stop and stretch my back; walk five steps, stop and stretch my back; repeat, repeat, repeat. After 8 miles I couldn't even walk. It was time to stop. I walked back down to the aid station where a wonderful fellow with massage therapy experience tried to do a little magic. When after some maneuvering, he said, "There's a knot or bulge in here that's huge," I decided to stop for good. Sorry IPR, not this time.

DNF: Did Not Finish. But also:
Start line serious

DNF = Did Not Focus. My lack of race experience over the past decade shows. Not having much recent racing has left me without the proper pre-race rituals in place. I've been forgetting little things prior to races and this time it was Advil. And I sure could have used some Advil. I also picked the wrong hydration pack wearing the vest instead of the waist one. Never really felt comfortable in it.

DNF = Did No Fast. I've run a lot of miles in the buildup to this Run. The problem is that while I have a nice base, I have nothing beyond that. No hard hills, no tempo runs, nothing to really prepare me for hard running or the discomfort that is the result of tough workouts.

DNF = Did Not Flex. I began this "serious" running with a consistent routine of strength and core work. It lasted about a month then went to the wayside. So did stretching. If I truly want to be a trail/mountain runner, I need to be stronger and more flexible in my core. When in distress, the biggest issues arise in your weakest places.
Steep in the 6th mile

DNF = Did Not Face. I did not face reality. One of the downsides of 49 years of running is that I have a long past, full of some pretty good performances. Unfortunately, I often evaluate this Rich against younger, faster Rich. Unrealistic expectations are worse than none.

DNF = Did No Fun. I had little or no fun in the week prior to this Run. Doubt and apprehension ruled the days leading up to the start. It needs to be excitement and fun.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be overly tough on myself or dwell on the negative. I'm just trying to take a realistic, analytical look at what went wrong so that I am armed with the information I need IF I am truly wanting to be a serious racer. The other option is to be an old guy who participates in races with little or no expectations. Enough said about that.

Let's move on.
Never quite made it to the top

On the upside, I finished the week with 70 miles, and ran "with" Emelie Forsberg, (http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2015/09/ive-fallen-down-and-i-cant-catch-up-my.html), saw some GORGEOUS scenery in Ouray and Telluride, met some very nice people, and didn't do any unrepairable damage along the way. Can't beat that, I guess.

Run on.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I've Fallen Down and I Can't Catch Up: My Run "With" Emelie Forsberg

"I saw that going differently in my mind," said Will Smith's character in the movie Hitch. While he had seen his Ellis Island date turning out much better than it actually did, I too had envisioned my run with Mountain Ultra Trail running superstar, Emelie Forsberg. 

I figured that at some point in what I thought would be a 6-8 mile run, I'd get a chance to move up along side and ask my two questions: 1) What could a chicken old man do to get a little more fearless on the downhills and 2) What parts of Kilian have rubbed off on her to make her a better runner and person, and what has he received from her.

Then reality happened. First the 6-8 mile run I had expected became a 20 minute jaunt. Really? In afternoon runs, it takes me a half an hour just to catch my breath and warm up. I'm a morning guy. 20 minutes? Next, the unthinkable (but completely predictable) occurred. Just after a downhill which led to a sharp turn and a bridge, I tripped. Down. Boom. Like a ton of bricks.


Startled and embarrassed, I popped up immediately. There were some gasps in the group, along with the usual "are you okay's." One guy said 8.5. I guess I didn't stick the landing. Some skin tore and frankly it looked way worse than it was which is always a good thing (it's the whole sympathy without injury thing) . Nonetheless, my visions of chatting during the run were over. I struggled to maintain contact with the group (and unfortunately that had more to do with fitness than any injury) and finished the 20 minutes feeling incomplete. SO, what do we do when that happens? Well, I go for another twenty in the way I usually do: alone.

My own issues aside, Salomon and Runners Roost put on a very nice event. I'm guessing either side of 80 attendees. After the run, Emelie signed posters and did a Q & A. The event was a catered Bar BQ with a typical picnic fare of burgers, potato salad, a fresh green salad and fruit. All were excellent.


Salomon had easily a hundred pairs of trail shoes at the site. I remember thinking, this is A LOT of shoes, are they for sale, and wait, some of these are dirty. Then it dawned on me, you could test run the shoes (yeah, I didn't just fall off the turnip truck). But what a cool idea. Test running shoes at an event. Nice job Salomon.

And then there was Emelie. After three races in three days in Montana, she found the patience and graciousness to be wonderful to one and all. She smiled with the fast runners, the slow runners, the kids and a couple of dogs. She was, in short, delightful. And in a sports world where many of the most elite are anything but delightful, she brought fans back to a great place: having the stars of your sport who seem awesome, actually BE awesome. Thanks Emelie.

Thanks again to Runners Roost and Salomon and especially Jenny Taylor, their marketing manager. A fun event.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Mt Bierstadt and the Week of August 31.

Less than a week to go until the Imogene Pass Run (Sep 12). To work a little on the impending vertical of that Ouray to Telluride journey, I decided to tag a 14er this week, Mt. Bierstadt (14,060).

I've lived in Colorado since 1978 and have run many miles while here but I have to confess that this week, this 14er, was only my second. Yep, number two. In 1979 I ran the Pikes Peak Marathon and now this.

The drive from my lovely dwelling in Aurora was simple and about an hour and a half to the top of Guanella Pass and the trailhead. Once there, I loaded my hydration pack (H2O, Clif Bar, Honey Stinger gels, a jacket and gloves) and headed up the trail as soon as possible. 

The first half to three-quarters of a mile is actually downhill. This was/is a two edged sword. While the downhill is nice and it allowed me the opportunity to warm up a little and get into a bit of a rhythm, the nature of this run was UPhill, so the early descent was, at best, misleading.


The top is just ahead
The first mile or so of uphill was moderately gradual. The area was highlighted by a singletrack trail surrounded by four foot high bushes. I named it the "bush trail" (yeah really clever, I know). Once emerging from the bush trail, things got steeper, a little rockier, and more interesting. There were several sections during this transitional area that were downright tough. 

Like most mountains, the higher it goes, the more challenging it becomes. From about 2 1/2 until 3 miles up, it was pretty steep and plenty rocky. Several sections had me wondering how the descent might be. Once 3 miles hit, the trail pretty much disappeared and running or even really hiking gave way to rock scrambling. The key in these tough terrain situations, I believe, is to keep moving. Keep moving, keep moving. 

Finally, after about a bit less than two hours, I hit the top. I took a few pictures, did the Chevy Chase Grand Canyon look around and began the descent. As bad as going UP the rock field was, going down really made me nervous. You see, I've been known to trip over blades of grass on a trail. For some reason, and I'd like to attribute it to savvy running and incredible conditioning, this time I navigated the danger zone unscathed.


My new best bud
Then it was time to go DOWN. Some of the descent seemed so steep that I became mildly impressed that I had made it up in the first place. Mostly, it felt nice to be going down. About halfway down, I noticed a grey haired man walking up and waving. So I said, Hello! He says, "Can I ask you a question?" I say, "Sure." "How old are you (at this point I am noticing that it sounds like he is from India)?" he asks. "63," I respond. Then he says, "God bless you, sir. My friends in Southern California don't think anyone our age can even walk up one of these. I'm here to prove them wrong. God bless you and keep you safe!" I was, to say the least, touched by the warmth in his voice. SO, we had to get a picture.....

I rode that little high all the way back to the car. All in all, it was both challenging and fun. I'd like to go again before the snow hits now that I know what to expect but also have my sights on a few others too (Grays, Torreys, Elbert, maybe Lincoln). An observation: while I've lost 42 pounds in the last five months, Lance Armstrong was right: you become a better climber by weighing less. So maybe another twenty pounds (or more) is in order. Well, actually that goes without saying (writing). 

In case you're interested, my video/documentary of the run can be found at https://youtu.be/g4fRBbZJ6Jc . CAUTION: this is 11 minutes of your life you will never get back.


The week ended with 70 miles logged, the twelfth week in a row over 70. I'm close to 1800 miles for the year and could easily hit 2700 for the year as long as I can stay consistent and healthy. That would be my best year since 2000.

So, I'm sort of looking forward to the ten miles up Imogene Pass this Saturday (in a weird way), but first I'm excited about a Labor Day Bar BQ and trail run with the great ultrarunner Emelie Forsberg (a.k.a. Kilian Jornet's girlfriend) sponsored by Runners Roost Denver. Should be very cool to meet Emelie! In fact she just won The Rut 50K today and will be here tomorrow (Monday). Yikes.

Have a great week. Run on.