Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The North Face Half: Race Report. Hills, Unscathed Nips, and Kashmir

Spoiler: I finished.
Was it fast? NO! 

Was it strong? Eh, Not really. 

Was it fun? YES! 

Finished a short racing year running The North Face Endurance Half Marathon in the Marin Headlands Sunday. First and foremost, it was fun. 13.75 miles (yeah, LONGER than a half marathon) of uphill and down on some beautiful trails that would have had some awesome scenery had it not been cloudy/misty. My biggest goal was to run the thing without knee issues. Goal accomplished. In fact, I was a little surprised, given the severity of the downhills, that my knee came through pretty much unscathed.

My Tree
There is limited access to Fort Baxter, the start/finish area in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, so busses shuttle runners from several locations. My pickup was in Larkspur and was uneventful. The weather was coolish and misty. Daylight was still awhile away as I settled in by my new favorite tree to relax prior to warmup. Even though expectations were low, I enjoyed some pre-race jitters while doing some light running, my knee exercises, and some stretching. Gotta love pre-race jitters.

The "gun" started for me at 8:08 am and wave 5 of 7 was off. The first quarter of a mile was uphill but that soon gave way to a nice half mile downhill stretch that nicely allowed getting in a bit of a groove. I cruised through the mile mark right around 9 minutes feeling decent and then the hills began. The first was roughly 1.3 miles long and didn't feel as bad as it looked. Already, a bunch of people began walking. I vowed, at that point, that no matter how bad it got, I would make every effort to run/jog the whole way.

Hill #1
The downhill that followed was a couple of miles long and while some spots were very steep, my knee held up pretty well. It was during this stretch that I noticed it was raining. Not full-on rain raining, just a light sprinkle kind of thing that did not let up. The clouds, I understand, obstructed some nice views of the Pacific.

I ignored the first aid station at 3.7, decided to partake of some water at the second (at 7.9 or so). There were four total. I hit the second and fourth and that seemed to work out perfectly.

At 5 miles uphill #2 began. It was about a mile and a half long and was the
The hill with no end in sight
steepest of the three hills. It was on that hill that I noticed a huge discrepancy in my mile splits between the up and down miles. The down ones were being ticked off in the 9:00 to 9:20 range; the up miles were 15 minutes + (and the + gets emphasized). I also noticed that I had taken a song on the uphill. Rarely does music pop into my racing head, but yes, Jimmy Page and the first twenty seconds of Zeppelin's Kashmir perfectly set the scene for my slow, steady uphill trudging. 

The drop from 6.5 to the aid station at 8 miles was VERY steep. I found it difficult to stay upright without losing control. I also found that the people I would pass going uphill, would fly by on the down resembling kamikaze pilots. 

At 8 miles, a guy said, "only one more hill." What he didn't say was that the one hill was about three miles long. Smart ass. Couldn't trick me, though, I studied the course guide. Steady was the rule. Halfway up, I thought, "this reminds me of Imogene Pass." Oh yeah, except that the Imogene "hill" was TEN miles long. It was also during this hill that I noticed the utter success of my Body Glide plan and my Ultra Running Company racing top. My PNS (Protruding Nipple Syndrome ) had been completely controlled and that made me a very happy camper  http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2015/06/pns-nipple-problem-runners-log-june-8-14.html.

The forest
Just before mile 11, the hill topped out and the trail led us to a gorgeous forest. Looked like eucalyptus trees, but what do I know. I still approached the steepest descent sections with caution, but really tried to move strongly on the "safer" stuff. I also decided to count the people I passed (not out loud, as to be a jerk). Ended up with fourteen and was passed by only two. I took it as a positive thing.

That half mile "get in the groove" section during mile #1 was an uphill, "break my groove" section on the way back. Nonetheless, I zipped by a few more people and finished feeling pretty good all things considered. The finish line area was buzzing, so I soaked up the juju a bit, grabbed a banana and some sea salt chips (hardly ever get THAT craving, but sure had it this time) and loaded the bus for the return to Larkspur.

My return trip was the opposite of the early morning trip. On the way, I sat next to a guy who had NOTHING to say, and that made me VERY happy. Post race, I sat next to a young woman named Paige, who had just finished her fourth half and was contemplating a full marathon. We chatted about training, and destinations, and timeframes, and it was all very nice.

I was pretty sure I'd be sore from the beating administered by the hills and was not disappointed. Yesterday (Monday), I was WAY sore. I struggled through a 3 mile jog to get
Look like on a death march.
the blood flowing, but would have been hard pressed to escape if aggressively pursued by a turtle. Today: considerably better.

Lessons learned: 1) my knee is much better than I expected. I worried about this a lot, but was pleasantly surprised. 2) I need to really hit the hills if I plan to trail race. The Squamish 50K will make this course seem flat, so it's hill time in 2016. 3) My URC shirt was the perfect anti-nip chafe solution. YAY! 4) I must have a terribly unhappy look on my face while running. My race pictures were brutal (see the one to the left).

Next up is three months of training to be ready for the Napa Valley Marathon. I'm looking forward to a fantastic 2016 and some awesome racing.  http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2015/11/look-out-nyc-squamish-and-imogene-im.html.

Run on. My Movescount Suunto "Movie" of the race....

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Ready to Go? Excited? Ha! Are you kidding me?

Tomorrow morning I leave for San Francisco to run The North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon on Sunday. It was supposed to be my ultra marathon debut, my first dip into the world beyond 26.2 miles. It will, however, be just 13.1. Not too exciting.

Don't get me wrong, 13.1 miles is a long way and I am grateful to be able to come fresh off an injury and run a half marathon. It's just that this was not the plan. And the plan has gone to hell in a hand basket.

The plan was to log three 22+ mile runs in the past six weeks, to weigh less than I have weighed in the last 23 years, to be ready to CRUSH this thing. Alas, Sunday's 13.1 miles will be my longest run in 2 1/2 months, I DO NOT weigh what I did 23 years ago, and the only thing crushable might be me. BUT, it's all good. So, honestly, I'm a little excited.

I have an opportunity to run on a very cool course in the Marin Headlands, climb some hills, and end the year on a positive note (although some of the previous sentences are not so positive). My knee has not hurt in eight days and I am knocking out some decent runs despite the snow and ice. Excitement level rising.

Beyond finishing, I have no goal. The course is tough, but unbelievably beautiful and it's a trail half so I don't know what to expect. I guess I will try to solid going up (course elevation in the pic) and work it on the downside. I want to feel like I gave a good effort, pushed myself, and earned this excursion to cap off the year. Actually, I'm pretty excited.

Saturday's 50 mile championship field is packed. It is a who's who of American ultra running. Max King, Alex Nichols, Chris Varner, Dylan Bowman, Rickey Gates, Magda Boulet, Ellie Greenwood, Rory Bosio. THAT should be very cool. Psyched!

PLUS..... the whole thing is at sea level!!!! Stoke level 7 (and that's on a 5 scale).

Wow, see what we can do? I've turned my own lemons into lemonade. See you on the other side.

Run on. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Look Out NYC, Squamish, and Imogene! I'm coming for ya!

In one week, I will run my final race of 2015, the North Face Endurance Half Marathon near San Francisco, CA. It was supposed to be my first ultra marathon, a 50K. Unfortunately, when the knee injury hit, plans got changed. I missed the Hot Chocolate 15K and the Back Country Half Marathon completely. The 50K becomes a Half Marathon. No problem, adaptability is a human characteristic and I have plenty.

With a short, broken, unsuccessful racing season in the rear view mirror, I look to ramp it up in 2016. Sixteen races make up my calendar for the coming year and they come in all shapes and sizes. Several have significance.

First and foremost, I need to get into the New York City Marathon. Nothing would be cooler than to celebrate my 65th birthday (yes, they're holding it on my birthday) running the streets of New York. SO, let the universe be aware..... I'm getting drawn in that lottery! 

Next, I registered for the Squamish 50K in August in British Columbia yesterday. The course is challenging, the course is beautiful and I am excited that I was able to get in. 

Last, I have unfinished business on Imogene Pass provided I can get in that one as well; (see http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-many-faces-of-dnf-log-week-of-sep-7.html to understand). Of course, there are others. Those, however, are the biggies.

So knowing that schedules are fluid, here's what I have planned for the coming year:

March 6              Napa Valley Marathon (this one is still up in the air)
April 24               Cherry Creek Sneak 5 mile (qualifying for a good Bolder Boulder wave)
April 30               Greenland 50K  (1st Ultra)
May 30                Bolder Boulder 10K  (redemption)
June 18               Leadville Heavy Half  (50/50 on this one)
July 3                  Vail Hill Climb (7 miles)
July 16                Kendall Mountain Run (12 miles, maybe, maybe not)
July 31                San Francisco Marathon  (have put this off forever)
August 6             Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon  (love this race)
August 21           Squamish 50K   (never been to British Columbia)
September 10     Imogene Pass Run (17 miles. Revenge sought)
October 4            Hot Chocolate 15K Denver
October 16          Denver Rock n Roll Half Marathon  (maybe, maybe not)
November 6        NYC Marathon  (it's on my birthday for crying out loud)
November 19      Nike Cross 5K  (this looked like a blast)
December 3        North Face 50K or 50 mile

So, that's it. Planning to train smarter and make it through the year without illness and/or injury.

Speaking of injury, while I am still aware that my knee exists, it has not bothered me on a run for five days. Yay! 51 miles for this week. Double Yay (I guess that would be Yay, Yay).

Run on.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

One of Those Days...

First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving. In this topsy turvy world, there is much for which to be thankful. Not today's run, however.

I awakened this morning to thoughts of a longer run, something in the 11-14 range. I even plotted a few various courses allowing for wind direction changes. I was a man on a mission. Then, I didn't head out the door. And the longer I didn't head out the door, the more my long run, became a medium run, and soon thereafter, a short or even non-existent run.

Often times the mind is willing but the body balks. Today was the opposite. My legs felt rested, my knee was fine, but I did NOT want to run. So I put it off a little more. When 9:30 came, I had no choice but to face my nemesis.

My phone said it was 42 degrees "feels like" 32. They had that right. It felt COLD. Just what a non-motivated procrastinator needed on the day before Thanksgiving. BUT, being the hardy soul I am, I trudged out into the deep freeze, risking life and limb, to log the daily run. After all, once I get running the juices will flow and I will feel great. Right? Yeah, whatever....

8 slow, miserable miles, and I was done. And to quote the philosopher Forrest Gump, "That's all I'm going to say about that."

Run on.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The UP Side of Downgrading

Suunto Ambit2 Yay!
The “final” decision was made today. I have opted down at the North Face Endurance Challenge on December 5. Originally, the plan was to run the 50K. With the prolonged knee issues and the loss of training therein, I am instead running the Half Marathon. I consider this an extreme disappointment. Yet while hovering at the bottom of that decision I have found the road to an optimistic outlook for the coming year.

Firmly imbedded in a routine of stretching and preventative exercises, I am hoping to tackle 2016 without injury or illness. The plan is as follows: 2 marathons on the road, a 50K or maybe two (roughly 31 miles) and a 50 miler. 2500+ miles run, and a few days off, but NONE of them because of injury.

Presently we’re in the middle of a 40+ mile week, the most in about two months. While the knee pain/stiffness is lingering, it is much improved each week. The hope is to be completely pain free in a couple more weeks. Long runs at this point are around eight miles and exclusively on trails. Optimism reigns supreme!

I am writing this blog post while on a flight to Phoenix. We are on our way to the Nike Cross Regional Championships as my Grandson Mason is running. His best this year (he is a Sophomore) is 16:04 so he is hoping to crack the 16 minute barrier on the fast course and be helped by the incredible competition (nearly a dozen under 15 last year).

On another note, for my birthday Linda presented me with a Suunto Ambit2, a fantastic GPS, heart rate, and everything else including the kitchen sink watch that I am absolutely loving. More on that later. In the meantime….

Run on.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Knee Stuff

The more things stay the same, the more they stay the same. Not exactly how the saying goes but it captures the current status of my running life. In the last three weeks or so, I have gotten in about 60 miles. That’s it. That is less than a normal week under normal conditions. I suppose it’s better than zero, right?

I began treatment by gimping around the house, figuring that when I could negotiate the stairs like a regular human being (not one leg leading and the other following), then perhaps I could get out again. Upon completion of that test, I graduated to a sort of speed-walk/shuffle-jog thing. First time was three miles in which 2 ½ of it was walking. Then went to 4 miles of half and half, and finally the full 4 jogging (I won’t insult runners by calling what I was able to do running).

Even during this slow return, it was clear to me that my injury was more than just Popliteal Tendonitis. The tendonitis had kind of peaked during my twenty mile run. The significant injury happened three days later when, I believe, I hyperextended my knee. THAT is what is taking forever to heal.

About a week ago, I returned to see Dr. Carly, the wonder-woman, who dry-needled me and gave some drills and exercises to do to quicken the process and strengthen the area (as well as the surrounding accomplices). Slowly, on it’s own lazy timetable, it is coming around.

I missed the Hot Chocolate 15K and, unfortunately, it looks like I will miss the North Face 50K, my Ultra Marathon debut. My knee is still not comfortable on the run. Sitting for long periods of time (like this moment blogging on an airplane) seems to be the worst. And it is consistently less stable in the morning. The lack of running has halted the weight loss and, in fact, I feel like I have gained about 100 pounds in the last month (okay slight exaggeration). In short, if I wasn’t working a bunch right now, I would be absolutely miserable.

On the bright side, I turned 64 today. In one more year and I will move up an age group (always a good thing). I’m excited to open my gift from Linda tonight, which is a Suunto GPS run watch. And, as usual, I’m excited about the future. I can run that 50K later, I can re-lose whatever weight I have gained starting right now. I can keep doing my exercises AND be a better stretcher AND be better at monitoring my body. In short, as Scarlett O’Hara said, “tomorrow IS another day.”

Run on!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Long Run, Darkness, Cool Trails, Bad Knee: Two week log

Awesome trails in Tabernash, CO
This two week period has been marked by the extremes. Consistent running, an good twenty mile run, some awesome trails and an injury.

First, a week ago I logged 83 miles. It was my fifteenth 70+ mile week in a row. Unfortunately, I didn't know how abruptly the streak would end. Spending most of the week in Idaho, the challenge was the morning run. With Idaho on the western edge of the mountain timezone, sunrise happened late; like 7:30 late. So, half of all the Idaho runs were in the dark. Problem? Nope. With my bright Black Diamond headlamp, it was clear sailing each and every morning.

Idaho Falls running was confined to the Snake River greenway, but all in all, I can't complain. Three days, five runs. All good. Then came Pocatello. The City Creek trail was the highlight of my two runs there as it was one of those out/up to back/down runs. Arriving home for runs on Friday and Saturday set up the Sunday twenty miler.

My knee was a bit stiff on Saturday, but felt okay for most of the Sunday long run. I ran easy, at a decent pace, and enjoyed a new loop. The heat got to me a bit the last two miles but all in all, it was a nice effort. Then came Monday.

Pain behind the right knee which I hadn't experienced since the speedy days of college created the need for injury evasion tactics: sticking to the trails, slowing down, and ice. My run went okay on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday, I ran some gorgeous trails at the Devil's Thumb Ranch in the mountains and while tight was still okay. Then, at home on Thursday's run, one small misstep changed everything. I was cruising along and didn't notice a depression in the path. Boom. Right leg snapped down excessively hard and the back of my knee immediately gave in. I gimped my way home (luckily not that far). Knew instantly it was time for help.

Friday I saw my miracle worker, Dr. Carly May who upon careful examination, poking and prodding, proclaimed "Popliteus Tendinitis." She gave me a therapy routine, some exercises, and I was good to go. Unfortunately, what followed was not good at all. That afternoon, while traversing the course at my Grandson Mason's cross country meet, I found my knee VERY tight, quite painful and massively unstable. After the meet, we sat through the awards ceremony and when I tried to stand up, my knee would not hold and down I went, like a ton of bricks (although I did manage to save our camera from harm). Very embarrassing. The one hour + ride home was extremely painful. It was clear I was done running for a while.

So yesterday (Saturday) I gimped around the house (barely) with a crutch and the therapy was intensified. It was NOT a good day. Today, I was something I never am, an all day football watcher. Progress, however, was noted today. Very little pain, still lots of stiffness, BUT it doesn't feel nearly as unstable. In fact, I walked about a half a mile this morning, of course with my trusty crutch. Could be worse.

My expectation is being able to run again by the end of the week. While I am not happy about this development, better now than later as I am hoping my 50K debut in December is still safe. We'll see.

All in all, it's been a wild couple of weeks.

Run on.

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.

Running Bucket List? Yeah, I've Still Got One.

June has arrived and the weather has made a change to FABULOUS. Moisture and chilly was much of May (sounded like Yoda said that), but the w...