Monday, March 14, 2016

See You In New York! Schedule Re-Revisited

With some very good news last week, my "race" schedule is once again revisited. It was Tuesday when my email arrived proclaiming I was accepted into the 2016 New York City Marathon. I have run New York in 1993, 84 and 98 and am extremely excited to do this one as 1) it's been a long time and 2) race day is my 65th birthday.

Latest schedule as set (registered races in red):

April 10               Platte River Half Marathon
April 24               Cherry Creek Sneak 5 mile (maybe 5K)
May 30                Bolder Boulder 10K  (redemption)
June 18               Leadville Heavy Half  (still 50/50 on this one)
July 3                  Vail Hill Climb (7 miles)
July 31                San Francisco Marathon  (Looking for a Boston qualifier)
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  (Probably for sure as NYC tuneup)
November 6        NYC Marathon  (it's on my 65th birthday for crying out loud)
November 19      Nike Cross 5K  (this looked like a blast)
December 3        North Face 50K or 50 mile

On other news, last week was a recovery week with only 43 miles. This one may be the same as it seems I've caught a cold (and there's no cure for that, you know). I guess I'd just as soon get the spring cold out of the way now rather than May, which is my usual time.

Also saw that Lance Armstrong competed in the Marin Ultra 50K. Placed 14th overall. That's one tough cookie especially on those hills. Good on you, Lance.

Run on.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Magnolia Road Lives Up to It's Reputation. Jenny Simpson's the Bomb!

Coming off the Boulder Canyon
I saw the Flotrack workout. I read Running With the Buffaloes. I heard the stories. I'd never run Magnolia Road.

Sunday, in some sort of a cross between self-sacrifice and stupidity, I decided that my long run should be up Mags. I had my wife, Linda, perform familial last rites, packed my car with the essentials and headed to Boulder. 

The key word here is Sunday. While I lived in Boulder for a decade, and loved it, I need a really an incredibly good reason to make the drive from SE Aurora to Boulder during the week as the traffic is usually horrendous. Yeah, I am aware that U.S. News and World Report ranked Denver as the best place to live in the USA. Obviously, the rankers did not drive around any time other than the two hours a day that are not rush hour and they never drove to Boulder (moral of this side story: despite the rankings, stay away from Denver and Colorado in general, it's a terrible place to live...). I digress.

Upon arrival in the Emerald City (I prefer that over the standard name; The People's Republic of Boulder), I found my way up the Canyon to Magnolia, negotiated the twists and turns of the early paved portion and arrived at the most important sign on the road:
Cars as far as you can see
Pavement Ends. Greeting me were no less than 20 cars and a sizable collection of runners getting ready to tackle the route. Obviously the CU Buff Sunday run was beginning. The common threads uniting the group? Young and thin.

I parked my completely out of place Boxter between two groups of young men rushing to make a 9:00 am group start. Feeling WAY out of place, I emerged from the vehicle in my completely out of place body, and began readying myself for the task at hand. Then, it happened, eye contact. "Have a great run, fellas," I said. "Thank you, Sir, you too," relied two of the guys. (Did he say SIR? While being very polite, was he calling me old? I'll bet he hasn't run 108,000 miles in his dreams.)

I said, "This is my first time up here. I'm hoping to just survive."

The reply was both smart and dooming: "Well it's an out and back, so you can turn around anytime you want." Ouch. They darted off. I greased up and headed off well behind the group.

And it begins
Two things about the beginning of this run: It's gorgeous and it's downhill. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE downhill. It's just that I didn't just fall off the turnip truck and I know that if I'm going downhill on an out and back, that part is uphill on return. Nonetheless, I set out to log my long run.

When you read about this run, it is commonly reported, and geographically confirmed, that there is a net uphill from the start to Highway 119 (the common turnaround). I, and my Suunto Ambit2, confirm that. I will also confirm is what Paul Harvey might have called, "The rest of the story." You have enough downhill stretches while climbing to sort of dread the return. It will not be up and then back down. In fact, I'm not really sure there are more than just a few flat parts to the entire run.

My downhill start is conservative. I; 1) have not run 15 miles since September, 2) Have not run this hilly a course since September and 3) have gained 20 pounds since September. The self conversation begins: "Let's see how it goes. The kid was right, we can always turn around. A ten mile run would be great. Or a six, or a four...."

After a mile, I settle into to a decent pace and while I dread the final mile upon returning, I am somewhat pleased for this opportunity to get into a rhythm before heading uphill. As I roll past two miles, I begin to see groups coming down. While I realize I am going slow, it's
Getting passed all over the place
difficult to imagine they have been to the top and are coming down. There must be some variations to the route to which I am not privy. Turns out, some begin at the top.

Then it happens. Moving strongly and quickly a figure emerges from the curve ahead. It's Jenny Simpson, World 1500 meter Champion. I wave. Jenny waves. "Well, that's cool," I am thinking. I think about snapping a picture, but decide that cooler is a better reaction than fan-boy. I pick up my pace.

The miles are actually ticking by. While continuing to contemplate an early turnaround, I'm also feeding myself a steady diet of you-can-do-it. Then it happens again. Jenny comes along side (heading back, I surmise) and says, "Looking great, keep it up." I decide two things: she's lying about how I look and I will keep it up. Very soon after, the guys from the parking area come flying down. "Way to go, sir." "Looking great, way to go." "Nice job, you're almost there."  I glance at my watch. Liars!

Turnaround ahead
Somewhere around 5.5 miles, I run out of Buffs. The road becomes long and lonely. The hills get steeper (not just in my mind, for real too). I'm thinking, they are finished. I'm not even halfway through and everyone else is finished. I was young and fast once....

Right when I need it most, I sense the close presence of Highway 119. Upon reaching the turnaround, I am drawn by the false promise of past up/down runs. I kid myself into thinking it's all downhill from here. Sometimes a lie gets all through your mind before the truth can put its pants on (sorry Mark Twain).

The run back is okay. The missing element of my story thus far, however, was the wind. STRONG headwinds on the way up. Could this mean....... TAILWIND COMING BACK?


I have to confess that my pace was steady on the return. The miles seemed to pass quickly (in my mind, not on the watch). With about three miles to go, I decide I needed a diversion and pulled out the earbuds choosing to listen to Bob Babbitt interview Suzy Favor Hamilton about running, depression, mania, and sex. Coincidentally, I am experiencing three of those right now. Not a bad diversion.

Happy to be done
Finally, the fourteenth mile is passed and I look ahead. Yep, I was right. What goes down must come back up. Where is my chauffeur when I need him? Expectedly, my pace has slowed considerably and the final hill is the worst. I could walk it in, I suppose. But I don't. Then, three hours after I began, I finish. I'm thinking three things: change my ratty shirt, get some solid food (starving), and tweet Jenny. I do all of those.

It was not an easy run, but I have to confess, I've had worse. I enjoyed the terrain, the views, and especially the fantastic verbal support from the young and the thin. I have always been a CU cross country fan and now I have reinforcement; they're just a bunch of good kids (and fast).

The rest of the day brought some stiffness. I spent the evening trying to track down my son, Ryan, to wish him a Happy Birthday (mission eventually accomplished), at an Irish Step
dance show in the Tech Center (GO, McKenzie!), and waiting to see if I had really seen Jenny or if she was a figment of my imagination. Then, like she did on the road, she emerged....

Cool. Thanks, Jenny!

55 miles for the week. Beginning to lose pounds again and looking forward to a return to Magnolia Road in a few months. Maybe after winter finally comes to Colorado (yeah, that's right winter is coming. Don't move here people no matter what US News and World says.)

Run on.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Schedule Revisited

Back on November 29th of 2015, I speculated as to my racing schedule for what was then, the upcoming year (see Now that the upcoming year is the here year, let's see where we're at on this thing.

Schedule as set (crossed out no longer running - races added in red):

March 6              Napa Valley Marathon (this one is still up in the air)
April 10               Platte River Half Marathon
April 24               Cherry Creek Sneak 5 mile (maybe 5K)
April 30               Greenland 50K  (1st Ultra)
May 30                Bolder Boulder 10K  (redemption)
June 18               Leadville Heavy Half  (still 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  (registered)
August 6             Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon  (love this race)
August 21           Squamish 50K   (never been to British Columbia registered)
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 65th birthday for crying out loud)
November 19      Nike Cross 5K  (this looked like a blast)
December 3        North Face 50K or 50 mile

Training has been progressing slowly (pace-wise), but steadily. The milder winter weather has helped a bit. Have gotten in "long" runs of 11, 12, 14, 14 since the turn into 2016. (weekly mileage noted on left - one day to go in week 10 - will be over 50).

Picked up some Piriformis Syndrome after the North Face Half that lingered for two months. Literally a pain in the ass. It is considerably better at this point and it is time to get serious.

Adding strength and core, preventative drills, and a bit less dietary junk as a part of the "serious" mode. In short, it's time.

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...