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Archive for the ‘running’ Category

My most recent outdoor weekend started with a post-work trail run with Brad out of the Doudy Draw trailhead. We covered a semi-hilly 8 miles at a mostly conversational pace. Our main topic was the outdoor efforts we were planning for next year and how we could support one another in those endeavors.

Saturday I spent the day out-of-doors, but largely in my backyard as I built my first retaining wall to level out our side yard for a future garden plot. The work was a lot of fun and took me back to my days of regular trail maintenance and should be the first of many such projects.

And on Sunday I decided to metaphorically combine the prior two day’s activities by running and hiking a marathon on my first Boulder Trail Runners “Church Run”. The Church Runs are usually all-day affairs involving a lot of elevation gain. Today’s all-trail loops at Heil and Hall Ranches near Lyons were notable for being particularly runnable. The pace and elevation gain turned out to be perfect training for my Tecumseh Trail Marathon sweep role in a few weeks. Three of us (out of the original 8 runners who started) finished up the full distance for the day and with plenty of hydration and food I’m not sure we ever really hit the wall.

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The Rattlesnake Ramble trail run’s original 2013 race date clashed with the September floods that closed numerous mountain roads outside of Boulder, Colorado and Eldorado Canyon State Park. After the park re-opened the race was on for Nov 9th.

I had no particular race goals but to have fun and try to push myself to run a decent race. To that end I didn’t start out too fast and plodded along up the main road to the Fowler trail. I was keeping pace with a couple people including the first place woman and followed them on a couple passes on this first out-and-back stretch.

Back on the main road I threw my windbreaker under the aid station table as we went by and ran the road fairly steadily, pacing Bill Wright (race director) in this section. The big climb up the Eldorado Trail came up quickly and I did a little jogging through the lower section of this climb, passing a couple competitors and gradually my pace morphed into a power walk (Bill Wright’s pre-race announcements included a story of jogging this trail only to be passed by a hiker), jogging only a few of the less serious inclines. The lead runners were bombing down the hill while we made our way up but the climb ended earlier than I thought. Someone said “this is the top” and at first I didn’t believe them only to find myself running downhill on a short stretch to the turn-around.

I’m a fairly fast downhiller, so I let my legs reach a quick turnover while still trying to stay within my comfort range for the rocky terrain. Towards the bottom I got behind one slightly slower runner and had someone else on my heels. The three of us hit the bottom of the trail and wider road together and the fellow behind me passed both of us. I locked onto his pace and fell in behind and we pushed the pace down the dirt road for a mile towards the finish. Once again a third runner caught up and joined our pack and using the Bastille rock formation as a guide I launched an early finish-line sprint (Strava claims I hit a 4min/mile pace for a [very] brief moment).

My final kick lost steam with 50 feet or so to go to the line, but looking over my shoulder it looked like I had enough of a margin to coast in ahead of my two competitors. My run is posted to Strava for viewing. My run was good enough for a 25th overall finish and a time of 36:27.

Tara came in a bit later, feeling pretty good on her run and made the podium for the Masters Women division.

Preliminary results, a large collection of photos, and the race director’s report are posted online. The post race prize table was deep and full of runner/climber goodies. We even helped ourselves to a post-race donut (ssssh, don’t tell everyone else in Boulder!). There’s a good chance this event will make it onto our calendars for next year.

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For the first weekend in November, Tara and I traveled a slow and snowy I-70 out to Utah for some warm days in the desert. Our main goal was Saturday’s Moab Trail Marathon, of which I was facing up to my actual fitness level and moving to the half marathon course and Tara would be running the 5k for the 3rd year straight. I hadn’t run much for the week before the race, so my body should have been well rested, but I wasn’t feeling super strong going into the event. My “A” goal was to have a fun and enjoyable race.

So I guess it was good that I started in wave 3 of 5 and spent the first 4 uphill miles jogging well within my comfort zone, passing other runners who went out way too fast and generally settling in to my form and pace. Full race GPS track right here. Toward the later half of the Pritchett Canyon climb I started to pass more and more runners, especially on some of the steeper scrambling sections of rock. For the slight downhill into the first aid station from miles 4-5.5 I took it easy and ran with one or two others and chatted. A quick swig of sports drink and I started semi-hard on the rolling terrain that followed, passing quite a few runners, including one sporting a I believe in The Blerch tee.

Sometime between miles 6-9 I got frustrated with the number of runners I was having to pass on semi-technical trails until I remembered that I was the main problem, starting in wave 3 (which may have made sense for a half-marathon effort, but didn’t for my quicker half pace). I will say this course is beautiful, but technical enough that I didn’t get to look around and enjoy the scenery.

Coming into the 9.6 mile aid station I ran into Chris and Brad who were out looking for me and found themselves helping an injured runner descend some steep cliff bands. With their cheering I took another hit of sports drink, then turned right on the half course for a bit of a road climb that I ran semi-hard.

Our next bit of trail had us passing some mountain bikers (on a technical downhill that they were walking their bikes), then in and out of the Kane Creek (cold and mid-thigh deep in spots on me). With only a couple miles to go I was getting into full competition mode, the constant passing of other runners fueling my speed. The creek definitely slowed everyone down (it’s hard running on completely numb feet!), but as we moved out of the creek for the final road and last trail sections I started to push my pace even faster. I also got a little spiteful, picking out runners ahead and passing them for minor reasons (“he’s wearing tights, can’t let him beat me”, “that guy with the hipster ‘stash is getting passed”). Not entirely proud of this behavior, or the two ladies who I sprinted past in the last 50 meters, but the 2:13:16 time felt good for this technical and hilly of a course. This was also the US Trail Half Marathon National Championship, which I guess means my 138th place finish sorta means I’m the 138th best trail half marathoner in the country (if you can believe that). Full results right here.

Other than the cold creek crossings, this was a wonderful course. I’d certainly consider heading back next year and seeing if I can’t compete at the full marathon distance.

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Tara and I volunteered to help crew and pace Chris at his first 100 mile ultramarathon, the Leadville 100. The race started at 4am from the town of Leadville, an event we missed as we were still sleeping in another mountain town over the divide then. We easily found the Pipeline crew access point (2 miles north of the Half Pipe aid station – no crew allowed there) and met Brad and others crewing for Chris and soon our runner showed up.

He was in and out pretty quickly and our group packed up to head to the 40 mile point of the race at the town of Twin Lakes. There we setup on the edge of town with the gear we could haul to the site from a mile or so out of town, which was the closest we could park.

Chris came in looking good prior to the big climb up and over Hope Pass to the halfway point of the race.

He was a little disappointed that we didn’t have any of his pre-cooked tortellini for him saying “But I always eat tortellini when I climb over passes.”

Prepped with various non-tortellini foods, Skratch labs drink mix, clean socks and freshly bandaged blisters he headed out in good spirits.

Pacers are allowed for the second half of this race and Brad had already selected the soul-crushing climb back over Hope Pass from 50-60 miles to pace. Now that we were all gathered I organized the other pacers for the remaining 40 miles – Kristoffer, Tara, myself, Erin, and Michelle. Since I hadn’t really run in nearly 2 months since severely spraining my ankle I was hoping to get off with a small segment to pace. Due to the way schedules shook out, I ended up with the 10 mile leg between Outward Bound and May Queen aid stations that would involve a 2,000 foot climb up Powerline to Sugarloaf Pass. At least coming 3/4ths of the way into the race I figured Chris wouldn’t be moving too fast.

Brad, Tara and I quickly left Twin Lakes to drive around to Winfield not realizing what a traffic mess the roads around Winfield would be. With 2.5 miles still to drive to the aid station it was looking like we’d never get there in time to meet and pace Chris. So Brad and I loaded up a couple backpacks with food (including tortellini this time), clothes and water, plus Brad’s own gear to pace, and set out on a forced march up the dirt road. Tara eventually parked the car off the road and hiked in to join us as well. Chris came in looking a little worn out but Brad’s company soon brought him around and he passed many people going up Hope Pass on the return trip and threatened to outrun Brad. Tara and I scored a ride back down the 2.5 miles of road to our car then drove around to Twin Lakes, ate a bit of dinner and were soon surprised by an early arrival of Chris and a worn out Brad. Kristoffer took over pacing for the next 12 miles and the rest of us scattered to Pipeline or other more comfortable places to nap through the night.

At Pipeline I concentrated on eating and staying hydrated knowing my pacing leg was coming up and tried to catch a little sleep in the field as runners came through to meet their crews. Chris arrived feeling sluggish (the downhills were hurting him by now) and dehydrated. Tara had the next 3.5 miles to pace and force liquids on him while I drove ahead to Outward Bound and got ready to “run”.

Tara had done her job well and Chris had consumed 20 oz or so of water in the hour jog and hike to Outward Bound. There we put him in a chair with his legs up, got him to drink some broth and eat a bit of real food while he started to come around a bit more. In fact, by the time we left the aid station he was fairly chatty and I was able to keep up a conversation on ultras and other adventures as we motored up the steep and sandy Powerline trail to Sugarloaf Pass. Chris was able to eat and drink through this segment and even run some of the flats and gentle downhills on the way into May Queen. There Erin took over pacing and Tara and I fought to get out of the mess of a parking situation and tired crew members. We barely located and reached the Tabor boat ramp by the time Chris hiked the 6 miles there to give him his last opportunity to switch layers and access his gear. Michelle took him the final 6 miles into town for a ~28.5 hour 100 miler. As much as Tara and I would have loved to be there at the finish, we were simply too exhausted after pacing all night and found an empty gravel parking lot to throw some sleeping bags down and sleep for 3 hours as dawn arrived.

Chris’s performance was inspiring and motivating – I’d be lying if there wasn’t an ember in me now burning to train for another ultra next year.

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Towards the end of February, Tara and I took part in one last ski orienteering race, this time up at Snow Mountain Ranch. Besides the score-O format (picking up controls in any order), they added a biathlon scoring bonus for accurate shooting of a marshmallow gun. Tara out shot me (getting 2 minutes taken off her time vs my one).

Overall we both won our respective distances (I took the small medium course field, beating one other participant, while Tara rocked the stacked short course). Full results. I’m looking forward to the next events in March and April when we’ll be off the skinny sticks and able to run.

The first weekend in March saw us visiting the Lost Valley Ranch for a full, but relaxing weekend filled with plenty of eating and horse back riding. Two other couples joined us for the fun and little Emma adopted us for the weekend.

Somehow I motivated myself to go for a 3.7 mile run after our second trail ride on Saturday. The trails were muddy, slushy and snow covered and I went out too hard forgetting I was about 2,000 feet higher than Boulder. Still it was a fun run and helped to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Spending the weekend near the gateway of the Lost Creek Wilderness reminded me how much I need to get back to that spot. Already dreaming of a return trip during the fall’s aspen colors.

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In the middle of the month, Tara and I spent a weekend in Houston visiting relatives of hers. On the sight-seeing agenda was the Beer Can House.

Unfortunately the Orange Show was closed for renovations, but we did get to the Cullen Sculpture Garden and nearby Ginger Man pub.

Back home we engaged in a bit of running we also made it out downhill skiing a few days at Eldora and then had a two hour class to learn the fundamentals of curling.

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To start off the new year, Tara and I ran the Resolute Runner 5k in nearby Arvada, Colorado. I had written down a goal of running a sub 24:00 5k and was a little surprised when I turned in a 22:17 on this fast course. Guess that’s one New Year’s goal I can check off early. Full race results.

For the rest of the week I kept active, taking part in a ViPR fitness class, putting in some maintenance miles, and hitting the rock gym with Tara (my it’s been a long time since I’ve been climbing). Come Saturday it was time to hit the trails and do a little hiking with Tara and other friends up in Rocky Mountain National Park. We hiked through a series of frozen lakes (Bear, Nymph, Dream, and Emerald) while enjoying the sun and occasional wind-driven snow exfoliation.

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