Sunday, July 26, 2015

Somebody stop me!

Actually, don't stop me.

After another great week of running, I'll have to stop myself. After one more. I promise.

At least this week I didn't try to kid myself. I've been working on a backing off a week for a few weeks. Unfortunately, I get to the middle of the week and change my mind. This week I held no such illusions. I planned on running 80 miles from the get-go (does get-go get hyphenated?). Ended with 81. Also nicely set up to have the month log about 310-320 miles.

Nothing overly eventful. Lots of trails in the CCSP. Solid days of easy, and decently paced running AND..... more weight loss. I'm down 37 pounds in 3 1/2 months as I weighed in at 191.8 this morning (Sunday). I can tell the difference (I would hope so), mostly I can feel the difference. The goal is 167 by November 6 (I weighed 167 on my 40th birthday almost 24 years ago). After that, who knows, I might get so thin that if I turn sideways and stick out my tongue, I'll look like a zipper.

I've also carved out a bit of a race schedule for the remainder of the year (with some additions to come). Here it is:

August 8             Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
September 12     Imogene Pass Run  (17+ miles)
October 4            Hot Chocolate Run in Denver (15K 9.3 miles)
October 18          Denver Half Marathon (OR run the full as a long run)
November ??      Some Marathon somewhere
November 26      Denver Wash Park Turkey Trot (4 miles)
December 5        North Face Challenge San Francisco (50 K  31.9 miles)

Also began reading The Ultra Mindset by Travis Macy. Not bad. Cool stories and so far (halfway through) some good life/running lessons. Once completed, I'm moving on to Hal Koerner's Field Guide to Ultra Running in preparation for the North Face 50K, my first Ultra.

Also discovered and enjoying Great shoe and gear reviews, cool interviews and some awesome short films, mostly about ultra running.

And of course, what would the week be without an awesome Kilian Jornet video. So, here it is:

Feeling very focused about pretty much everything at this point. Ready to knock out another great week. How about you?

Run on.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Five in a Row, but Who's Counting? Run Log Week of July 13 "O" Week (no not you Oprah)

Last nine weeks since hammy recovery.
As a youngster, I learned how to do math by calculating batting averages, earned run averages and other extremely important baseball statistics. "Baseball is a game of numbers," they said. And I suppose they're right. But running, obsessive running, is as much so or more. Mileage, PRs, heart rates, all a part of the daily running routine. In honor of the numbers, I submit 70, 75, 70, 74, 73: the mileage for the last five weeks.

I separate Runner Rich from Jogger Rich when my mileage gets into the 50's and 60's. Once the 70 threshold is crossed, I become Serious Rich. For others the numbers are completely different and they were much different for me forty years ago. But for now, at the ripe young age of 63, I'll take five straight weeks of more than ten miles a day and take it with a smidgeon of pride. Mostly, it means not sick, not injured, probably losing weight, highly motivated.

S Burma Trail
This week opened with a few runs at home and then OFF TO SEA LEVEL! I love the occasional journey to sea level (this time North of the Bay in Vallejo and Benicia) as I get to experience how the people who can breathe easily get to do it. Normally if I hit the GPS switch on my watch during an easy run (which does not happen very often), I'll see 10-10:30 pace. On Wednesday afternoon's run to the Benicia State Park, I casually glanced down and captured a look at 9:10 pace and could not hear myself breathe. 

"I LIKE oxygen," I said to no one in particular. And so the O week began.

The highlight of O week, thus far, was Friday. Based on the suggestion of my Brother-in-law, Blane, I headed for the hills. He said, "You might want to try Annadel State Park. It's a runners paradise. 5000 acres. Redwood and Oak forests. Plenty of climbing." So, I met him at the Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa. He was right on all counts.

Elevation according to the park map
Blane rode his mountain bike, I ran. There were sections that were open wide trails, smooth as they could be, and sections that were downright CRAGGY (my favorite trail word), and everything in between. Lots of rocks, lots of hills, 1700 feet of climbing. Mostly, there was oxygen. The four mile climb just past the midpoint, while I would not say I smoked it, I ran it well and never spent time struggling for air. "I LIKE oxygen," I said to four deer. 

The hills were fun, the scenery was wonderful and a good time was had by all (or at least by me). In all, just a hair under fourteen miles, run comfortably.

Upon arriving back at the ranch, I decided to throw in another five miles so that Linda wouldn't have to run alone. Nineteen for the day. Not too shabby. AND...... it convinced me of two things: 1) that it is here, in the Bay area, where I will tackle my first Ultra Marathon later this year. More on that another time, and 2) I LIKE oxygen.

The numbers look good. I'm loving my runs. And three more days to soak up the O!

Run on!

Monday, July 13, 2015

So Much Inspiration. Log Week of July 6

Kilian Jornet winning the Hardrock 100
It's such a good thing (sometimes) to be connected to/on social media. The escape, escape from my own unexciting life, can be interesting and often inspiring. This was the case this week as much of my weekend was spent glued to the computer screen following two great events: The Hardrock 100 and the final days of Scott Jurek's run up the Appalachian Trail.

Hardrock marked the return of the incomparable Kilian Jornet to Colorado for what is annually one of the toughest ultra marathons in the world. In 2014, he made "easy" work of the field and the terrain to set a new course record by an hour. This year, fresh of a record setting victory at the Mount Marathon in Seward, Alaska, Kilian ran and hiked to another course record, again by nearly an hour (it should be mentioned here that the Hardrock course is run in opposite directions every year, so actually, there are TWO course records).

Kilian is a marvel. He wins races all over the world, sets FKT's (Fastest Known Times) on Summits in every continent, and remains grounded in his simple love for moving in the mountains. A world class mountaineer, skier and runner, he seems capable of almost anything and is limited only by the restrictions within his imagination (and he has a BIG
Anna Frost overcomes
imagination). A short bio of Kilian can be found at His website is sure to amaze and inspire anyone visiting.

The Hardrock women's race was exciting as defending champion Darcy Piceu and New Zealander Anna Frost ran together, traded leads, had good and bad patches, with Frost emerging the victor.

Mountain and trail running attracts runners of all kinds. Tracksters and marathoners move up, slow folks move in but the culture of the mountains and trails seems to breed one thing: good people. At the Hardrock awards ceremony, the T Shirt of 10 time finisher Billy Simpson said it all, "Train hard & Be Nice." Can we pass those out in Washington DC?

Scott Jurek celebrates
Sunday afternoon was spent hitting refresh hoping to catch the moment when Boulder's Scott Jurek would finally hit the peak of Mt. Katahdin in Maine ending his record attempt of the Appalachian Trail. Yep, the AT. 2189 miles long and Jurek would average just over 47 miles a day. He would fight everything a runner can imagine from exhaustion, to injury, to sickness only to keep moving until the goal was accomplished. Amazing.

Then, from the stories of the amazing, to the story of my running week. Well, for the fourth straight week, I ran 70+ miles. My longest run was a trail run Sunday of 13. As always, most of my time was spent in the Cherry Creek State Park. The CCSP is a wonderful place in the South end of the Denver Metro area surrounding the Cherry Creek Reservoir. It is a refuge of the country in the middle of the urban sprawl which the Front Range has become. I consider it a blessing.

This next week will be spent primarily at sea level. One of two things could happen: an easy recovery week, or some take-advantage-of-the-oxygen mileage week. Hopefully a run up Mt Tamalpais will be included either way.

Four short weeks until the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon and four more after that until the Imogene Pass Run. Excited, but much training left to do, and pounds to shed. Down to 195.6 which is a drop of 33 since the beginning of April. I would like to be at 185 by Georgetown and 175 by Imogene. Then will see where it goes.

Run on!

Monday, July 6, 2015

La Sportiva Vail Hill Climb; Week of June 29

We closed the book on the first half of the year this week. All in all, it was a consistent week where I had hoped to back off the mileage some. Didn't happen. Still logged 70, but a pretty easy seventy. Spent the first four days in the Cherry Creek State Park for my runs. 7 on Monday, 11 Tuesday, 8 Wednesday and 13 on Thursday.

At days end on Tuesday, not only was the month up at 278 miles, but the six month total was 1023. While I had hoped to be around 1250 for the first half, I can't complain as I missed three + weeks with my hamstring problem and ran poorly in January and February with my "ain't got no motivation" problem.

Friday I ran early and then headed to the mountains to go fishing with my youngest son, Ryan. Mid-fishing I decided to sneak in a nice trail run along the South Platte River and break in my new Salomon Speedcross 3 trail shoes. Both experiences were excellent.

The Speedcross 3 is a fairly lightweight, aggressively treaded but surprisingly cushioned trail shoe. My feet took to them quite well with no "break-in" effects, so I immediately decided they'd be okay for Sunday's Vail Hill Climb.

Saturday I thought about an easy day, but couldn't bring myself to running 4 or 5 miles just to rest for a "race" that I wasn't really racing. So, I ran 10.

Sunday, I was up at 4 am and off to Vail. As nice as it might have been to spend the night before in a cushy Vail hotel, I kind of like the jump in the car, drive two hours and race thing. It reminded me a little of college racing (that's by the way, where that similarity ended). I arrived in Vail without incident, picked up my number and headed for Lionshead as that would be the way off the mountain post race.

It never ceases to amaze me how "race mode" sets in when you slap a number on a shirt. Old feelings nestle their way into this old body and I'd swear I was 18 again. Warm up was an easy two, some light stretching (as Rob DeCastella once said, "do they give gold medals for that?") and a couple of strides. Nothing fancy or particularly effective, but accomplished just the same. 

At 8 am sharp, the guy yelled GO and about 400 of us set off to climb Vail Mountain. The first mile was a combo of town and the transition to the hill. They made a big deal out of some course alterations, but having never run the old course, it meant nothing to me. I ticked through the first mile near the back quarter of the pack around 13 minutes.

I had three goals coming into the day. 1) I wanted to make it to the top, 2) I wanted to run the whole way (no power walking or even non-power walking) and 3) place in my age group. Two of my goals died by halfway. It was obvious very quickly  that there were some skinny, fast mountain goat dudes taking off from the start. Goal 3, gone.

I ran comfortably through 2 1/2 miles, heart rate staying steady in the 157-162 range and then a steep-ass section hit. My watch went from estimating my pace at 14:50 ish to 17 AND everyone around me was walking and PASSING ME. Goal 2, gone. I walked on three other occasions when it seemed walking was faster than the shuffle jog I was using up the hill. Oh well.

After roughly 5 miles, I could look up a few switchbacks and see people finishing. I had two thoughts: 1) I thought this was 7.5 miles so they must be tricking us up there and 2) God, I hope they're not tricking us up there. Turns out no trick. Final distance about 10K (6.2 miles). I shot a video as I finished (seemed like the right thing to do at the time), said hi and thanks to a few people I had run with from time to time, and headed down to the car to change for a little cooldown run, and hoped to beat the Independence Day weekend traffic.

First a quick stop at the Salomon store to thank them for the Speedcross recommendation (and by the way, they were awesome shoes), then on the road. An hour and forty minutes to Vail, three hours and forty-five home. Really sucked. All in all, as mentioned, ended the week with 70 miles, the third week in a row at 70 or more.

So, lessons learned: 1) I had no problem whatsoever with the altitude. I was extremely happy about that. Imogene will be a little higher, but we'll deal with that later. 2) I've lost about 30 pounds in the last three months and it is CLEAR that I need to lose the next 30 before there will be any serious race results. Fat guys cannot climb, 3) it's still fun to throw on the bib and run the race.

No ill after effects today (Monday), but may still back off a bit this week. Or maybe not.

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...