Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Leadville Trail 100 Run, The Final Chapter!

Well this has been quite an adventure with the last leg being by far the hardest. I had so much fun training for these events, its kind of sad to be done. But it was absolutely an epic journey. And I met, rode and ran with so many incredible people along the way. I can’t begin thank everyone that helped on this journey. The Leadville 100 run was brutally hard. I had to dig deeper than I thought I could many times to make it. It hurt.

We started the day at 2 am Saturday morning to be ready for a 4 am start in downtown Leadville. I had the very best of crews; Roswitha my wife, veteran of many such adventures, Jesse my son, and Shannon, Jesse’s girlfriend. Both Jesse and Shannon are recently back from 15 months in Iraq. Shannon had two previous tours. Rick Hessek, who finished 4th overall in the Leadville Trail 100 run last year was my pacer/mule for the last 50 miles.

Since I had earned the big buckle in the 100 mile MTB race by going under 9 hours, I wanted to go for the big buckle in the run by finishing under 25 hours. No Leadman had ever "big buckled" in both 100 mile races. However, I had this nagging thought in the back of my mind that haunted me throughout the race. “My farthest run this year was only 37 miles. How can I possibly hold this pace for 100 miles?” My plan was to go out at a 24 hour pace, which would give me an hour cushion if any problems developed.

Getting ready to Start

Start to May Queen 13 miles

And We're Off!

The first leg is a 13 mile jaunt to the first aid station starting in Leadville to the May Queen campground. We began with a little over 3 mile descent down the infamous Blvd. I was feeling really good and opened up with a comfortable pace. I heard in ultra-running if you go out at a comfortable pace your probably going too fast. If I was going to break 25 hours I had to take that chance. After the Blvd we climbed up a steep rocky trail to a 6 ½ mile single track around Turquoise Lake. The trail is rocky in places and can be a bit tricky running in a crowd at night. The guy in front of me stubbed his toes and tripped several times. It was just starting to turn daylight when we reach the May Queen. I was ahead of schedule. My goal was 2 hrs 12 min and I arrived in 2:05. My crew was ready, we swapped camel backs and food bottles. I dumped some clothes and grabbed my sunglasses and continued on. Very efficient pit stop.

May Queen to Fish Hatchery 24 miles

From the May Queen we jumped on the Colorado Trail to Haggerman Pass Rd. This is a very rocky trail that requires a bit of boulder hopping. I’m not very good at running these kind of trails and found myself getting passed quite a bit. Once off the Colorado Trail we headed up Haggerman Pass and Sugarloaf mountain. The same route as the mountain bike race. In previous runs, I walked a lot of this section since it is uphill and I wanted to save my energy for later. This time I ran all the way to the top. I passed a lot of people that passed me on the Colorado Trail. I did have that haunting thought in the back my head though. I knew I could be blowing the whole Leadman by running this section, but felt I had to, to break 25 hours. Once at the top we descended the Powerline. The same powerline as the mountain bike race. A long steep descent. Again I was passed quite a bit, as I am not a very good downhill runner, especially on loose rocky trails. I tried to open it up the best I could, but still I got passed. Once at the bottom, my legs felt a little beat up from the downhill running but nothing major. So far so good. We ran a ½ mile or so of rolling pavement to the next aid station, the Fish Hatchery. My goal time – 4:10, actual time 4:04. Approximately one marathon down, three to go.

Fish Hatchery to Pipeline 27 miles

At the Fish Hatchery, I dropped the camelback and any extra weight since it was only three miles to the next aid station. The run to pipeline is mostly flat to slightly downhill pavement. It’s kind of boring, but at the same time nice to be able to just run without concentrating on not tripping over rocks and roots. I arrived a the Pipeline starting to feel the effects of the running and started to become worried that I went too hard in the first 27 miles. I wasn’t feeling great and started to fear that I may not finish. I got a quick massage from my crew, new camel back, food bottle and was off.

Pipeline to Twin Lakes 40 miles

Things started to thin out after leaving the Pipeline, and we ran some beautiful trails for the next 13 miles. I rarely saw another runner and was alone for most of this stretch. I was also beginning to hurt. I tried all my usual tricks; enjoying the mountains, telling myself how much I loved running, how lucky I am to be doing this, and trying to find my "happy place". I was having all kinds of positive pep talks with my self, but nothing seemed to work, I was hurting. Finally, I just turned my brain off and ran. I ran a long slightly uphill section of dirt road that eventually led to the Colorado Trail at the base of Mt. Elbert, the highest mountain in Colorado. Once I hit the Colorado Trail I was cruising. For some reason, Jim Hendrix’s “Sweet Angel” started playing in my head:

“And i said fly on my sweet angel
Fly on through the sky
Fly on my sweet, sweet angel
Tomorrow i shall have you by my side”

Next thing I knew I was running painless and felt like I was flying through the mountains. I even started singing out loud. If anything it may have scared off any bears in the area. Eventually, I came off the Colorado Trail to a jeep road that led to the town of Twin Lakes. After a short steep descent (that I almost biffed) Jesse met me and ran with me to where the crew was patiently waiting. My goal pace 7:25, I arrived in 7:13.

Twin Lakes to Winfield 50 miles

Starting the Climb up Hope Pass

The run to Twin Lakes was just a warm up. Now we faced the notorious double crossing of Hope Pass. A brutally steep climb and descent up to 12,600 ft. I left Twin Lakes feeling about the best that could be expected, which wasn’t great. About a mile out of Twin Lakes is a creek crossing that is usually between knee and waist deep with a pretty strong current. Runners typically have to use a rope to get across. This year the creek was very low. It was now approaching noon and Leadville was experiencing record high temperatures in the mid 80s. The ice cold water felt great. I kneeled down in the water to cool off my legs. It felt so good! Climbing Hope Pass destroyed me. I started with a power hike that rapidly turned to a survival shuffle. By the time I reached the Hopeless aid station near the top, I was just concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. The Hopeless aid station is quite a sight in itself. At this point the trail is so remote that the whole aid station is packed in via llamas. After the Hopeless aid station we continued up a long single track above timberline with several switchbacks. For me it was brutal. I was digging very deep to just keep going, one step at a time. Finally, the top. Oh that hurt. The descent is very steep, rocky, and for me very slow going. It seemed like dozens of runners passed me while going down. At one point I tripped and did a face plant in the side of the mountain. Luckily I fell on the mountain side of the trail, as the other side was a pretty steep drop off. I was so happy when I finally reach the bottom. Once down we ran a approximately two miles on a slightly uphill dirt road to the beautifully restored ghost town of Winfield. Winfield is the turn-around, the half way point. I checked in at the aid station and was weighed in. My weight at the start was 163.5 lbs, I now weighed 157. I was on the verge of dehydration.

Winfield 50 mile Turn-around

Winfield to Twin Lakes 60 miles

At Winfield I took a short break. I was hurting and my moral was starting to sink. My crew was fantastic. They massaged my legs, switched out my camel back and shoved me back into the race. Rick joined as my pacer, and carried my food bottle, along with gels, and anything else I needed. It was so great to have someone to talk to. Rick was incredible and has to be one of the best pacers on the planet. He is among the top ultra runners in the country and has done his share of suffering. He seemed to know all the right things to say, and had incredible experiences to share just when I needed them most. Throughout the next 50 miles, he ensured I was taking in the proper amount of calories and fluids, carried my stuff, as well as ran back and forth taking pictures and just kept me going.

Back up Hope Pass was brutal. It was hot. Even at 12,000 feet it felt like 90 degrees with the sun beating directly down on us. Even though I felt like I was crawling, we did pass a few people. There was quite a traffic jam as we continually encountered people coming down from their first crossing. As in the first crossing, the climb practically destroyed me.

Back up Hope Pass

Close to the Top and Dragging

Rick & Me at the Top

Headin Back Down toward Twin Lakes

Again that haunting thought of my longest run only being 37 miles came back. Once at the top, we slowly descended to the Hopeless aid station. My lack of descending skills had to be frustrating for Rick, as he is an excellent descender. He kept telling me I was doing fine, but I thought “yea right, your just saying that, your really thinking my grandma could run faster”. At Hopeless we refilled camel backs and continued down the mountain. Strangely enough, I was able to run a good portion of the descent at a decent pace. I caught my foot several times and fell at least twice but only a couple people passed us, and we actually passed a couple ourselves. Once off the mountain, we crossed the creek and I laid down in it to cool off. It felt so good. Back at Twin Lakes, we met Jesse who escorted us to the rest of the crew. Again they sprang into action. Change of shoes, clothes, camel backs, gels, flashlights and we were off. We were now 14 hrs and 26 min into the race.


Twin Lakes – Pipeline 73 miles

At Twin Lakes the Crew Again Springs into Action

The route out of Twin Lakes to the Colorado Trail is a steep climb of about two – three miles. We power hiked this section and I started feeling a little better. I guess being down a 10,000 feet vs. almost 13,000 made difference. Once the trail flattened out a bit we began running again. The problem with walking is it is so hard to start running again. It took a little while to get the pace back up, but once we did we started to cruise. We were trying to get as far down the trail as possible before dark. As I ran my haunting thought came back and I started to hurt and slow down. Finally, again I just shut off my brain and ran. Nothing but focus on running as efficient and relaxed as possible. No other thoughts. Just shut up and run! We left the Colorado Trail and ran the long slightly down hill jeep road to Pipeline. It was pitch dark, but Jesse met us and ran us to the rest of the crew. I sat down and Shannon massaged my legs. It was excruciatingly painful, but I think it did some good.

Pipeline – Fish Hatchery 76 miles

Since it was only three miles to the Fish Hatchery, I didn’t take a camelback. Just a water bottle that Rick carried. A good part of that three miles is slightly uphill. It felt like a very long three miles. Again, I had to turn off my brain, dig very very deep and just run. It hurt. I was still close to goal pace though. My goal pace was 18 hrs, we arrived in 18:13.

Fish Hatchery – May Queen 87 miles

When we arrive at the Fish Hatchery, for the first time, I started to believe I might actually make it under 25 hours. Sure I was hurting, but I was seeing and hearing about a lot of other people that were a lot worse. I was on target pace and we were about to climb the Powerline. After consistently running for so long, I actually welcomed the climb because it was more of a power hike then a run. As I reported in the mountain bike race, the powerline is a long steep climb with several false summits. Rick and I powered up in what seemed like no time, passing several other runners, including Paul Smith of CRUD fame. Once at the top we ran down to the Colorado Trail. The Colorado Trail was very rough on me. My feet were pretty beat up from running on rocks all day, and this trail is very rocky and slow going. Especially at night. We made slow progress and I tripped several times. I was so happy to be through that trail when we finally exited. The trail beat me up pretty bad and my moral started to slip. Jesse met us outside May Queen, and ran us to the crew, but I was having a hard time keeping up.

May Queen – Finish 100 miles

96 Miles Down, 4 More to Go!

At the May Queen I was hurting and demoralized. I couldn’t see how I could run the next 13 miles of single track through the night to the finish. Jesse picked up on this and said “Dad you are right on schedule, you have 45 minutes to play with to go under 25, and you could walk in and still make it under 30” (30 hours is the official cut off for a finish). For some reason this flipped a switch in my brain and I was raring to go. “Cmon Rick Let’s Run!” We took off from the May Queen and ran and ran. I tripped over some rocks a couple times but no damage. We were passing people along the way that were trashed. I don’t know how, but we kept running. I was reaching as deep inside myself as I ever have and just kept running. About 6 miles from the finish the chem lights and trail markers disappeared. We couldn’t believe the course was so badly marked and went off course several times. Luckily Rick trains here often and knew the course well, but in the dark, it was sometimes hard to follow the trail without a chem light in the distance to guide us. Eventually we came upon runners that were wondering around looking for the trail, some had been lost for a while. Eventually we found a pile of chem lights and course markers laying in the middle of the trail. Someone had gone through and tore everything down. What a cruel trick at 94 miles. Rick led us out the right way and finally we reached the dam and a course marshal. We informed him of the situation and he set out to remark the course. Once we crossed by the dam we descended a steep loose rocky hill to a dirt road that led to the infamous Blvd. Rick & I continued to run, passing people who were walking. We encouraged them and tried to get them to run with us, but most said they were just going to walk it in. I just wanted to get done! We ran. The Blvd is a 3 mile dirt road climb into Leadville. In the dark it seems to never end. I told Rick “This is the third time I’ve been up this thing this week. I’m really getting tired of it”. We finally came into Leadville and walked the final hump that tore my lungs out the previous Sunday in the 10k race. Once over the hump we ran through the finish with my fantastic crew waiting for us. 24 hrs 10 min 35 sec. Big Buckle and the first Leadman to big buckle in the MTB 100 and Trail 100 Run. I was absolutely wasted. It took over an hour in the medical tent for me to recover and leave with the assistance of Roswitha and Cubby a former co-worker.

Crew, Pacer and Runner - All Glad to be Finished!

This was an incredible journey with many hurdles and obstacles as well as incredible support and friendships along the way. Just as in the 100 mile run, the Leadman Quest had many ups and downs, but the key was to keep on going. It’s what life is all about and I thank everyone who had and encouraging word, who trained with me, who supported the effort and was in any way part of this adventure. Team CRUD, ProCycling, the Urban Assault Gang in San Diego were all huge in making this whole adventure so enjoyable. Roswitha is the most incredible woman in the world, not only did she put up with all my training, but crewed at every race. Rick Hessek is not only an amazing ultra runner, he is the world’s best pacer. Thank-you everyone!

Closing Thoughts

Ken Chlouber the race founder talks about an endless well of strength, determination and courage deep within everyone of us. He talks about how in this race as well as in life we will face moments where we will have to dig deeper than we ever thought possible to pull out some of that strength, determination and courage. Then we will have to do it again, and again, and again, and if necessary, again. I found out exactly what he was talking about. The motto of the Leadville Trail 100 is “You are better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can”. I believe it. All of us are better than we think we are and we can do more than we think we can. I hope everyone following this blog takes that to heart and goes out and does more than they think they can. It’s been a great adventure. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Leadville Trail 100 MTB and 10K Run report.

This year the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race was as epic as any. Listening to the rain come down most of the night before wasn’t the most encouraging sound, but work had really been stressful this week and there were serious doubts that I would even be able to make the race. So I was just thankful to be here no matter what the weather.

The rain cleared by starting time (6:30 am) and the sea of mountain bikers was amazing. Somewhere around 1,500 of us. I was able to find a place among the first 150 or so. With Lance Armstrong starting, it was definitely a circus. A helicopter circling overhead, TV cameras, thousands of people. The Leadville Trail 100 certainly has changed over the years.

The start was fast. The first 3 miles or so is a police escort out of town to the trail head. Typically it is fairly controlled and we stay bunched up all the way to the trail. This year was smoking. It was probably the best start ever. Things were starting thin out before we even got to the trail head. Lance brought an entourage of pacers that were absolutely flying. (Most of them wouldn’t finish. Lance was using them to set a fast early pace to beat Dave and smash the course record).
So we hit the trail flying but with room to breath. I was feeling great and relaxed, probably somewhere in the first 200 riders. For some added excitement, we spooked a herd of cattle that stampeded through the woods beside us. As they were stampeding right next to us a lot of guys were trying to scare them off with their best cowboy hoop & holler imitations. They eventually cut across the trail right in front of us. There were some pretty big bulls in the group!

The climb up St. Kevins went very well. I felt so relaxed and my legs felt so good. This climb is steep, loose and rocky with only a couple of good lines up it. Today for some reason we were up in no time, and I didn’t feel like I was red-lining at all. We continued on the trail with rolling hills, loose off camber turns, fast rough descents, short steep climbs and a very fast pace. I felt relaxed and was enjoying every second. At some point it started raining, and like all rain at that altitude, it was cold. We hit a long road descent that took us to the bottom of the Haggarman Pass/Sugarloaf climb. We were absolutely flying in a group, sling-shotting off each other, and getting drenched. I began thinking this could be a long cold wet day, but I was still glad to be there.

The climb up Sugarloafin went well. I felt relaxed, the legs were strong and like the St. Kevin’s climb, it didn’t seem anywhere near as hard as in the past. As we were climbing a rider beside me said "this sucks". I thought "how could this suck? Wars, poverty, gangs, child abuse suck. Not riding mountain bikes in the Rocky Mountains by our own choice". Anyway, I diverge. I replied "Well we could be at work". The descent down the Powerline was fast and fun. Because of the rain, a very easy to follow line by the riders ahead of us made descending choices simple. Even though it was wet, I think this was one of my faster descents down the power-line.

The ride to Twin Lakes was fast and furious. The route to Twin Lakes is a series of fire roads and a little single track. I got into a four man pace-line and as we caught other riders they joined and our group grew to about 12 – 15. Most us blew through the 1st aid station at pipeline and pretty evenly spread out the work up front. There is a new section of course that replaces a short steep drop-off that used to be called the "North-Face". The single track winds down the ridge instead of dropping straight down like the North Face. It adds about 1 ½ miles to the course but was a pretty fun section. My only issue was I was cold and shaking pretty bad, making it hard to stay on the trail, almost overshooting a couple switch backs.

At Twin Lakes I met Roswitha who was crewing for me and she had everything ready to go. I was in and out in no time. Now the real fun began. The ten mile climb up Columbine! The climb starts out with some rolling hills, until we turn on to a dirt Forest Service road that climbs steadily until the last three miles above timberline. From there it turns into steep rocky jeep trails. When we hit the forest road, I temporarily felt like I was struggling a little bit, but relaxed and found my rhythm. The road was a little mushy from the rain, making it slower than normal. I began passing people one by one throughout the climb. Just as we came above timberline, Dan caught me on his single speed, but now we were hitting parts that were too steep for even Dan to climb. (On a single speed). He had to get off and push and I kept riding. The clouds were looking pretty ominous, and when we reached about 12,000 feet, they opened up in a deluge of hail. Ouch! Luckily, I was still going uphill. I thought about how painful this was going to be descending. The deluge only lasted for five minutes and as fast it came, it went away. By the time I got to the top, the sun was out and everything was beautiful.

Leadville is an out & back course, and the top of Columbine is the turn-around point. I hit the top around 4:35, somewhere around 130th place. I needed a faster second half to break 9 hours. I felt good and if nothing went wrong, confident that I could. From the top of Columbine is a high speed descent down very rough jeep trails with hundreds of riders coming up. Makes it just that more interesting. I was descending very well, and I came upon a rider that wasn’t descending as fast and got caught up behind him. With all the riders coming up, there was just no where to pass. Once we hit the forest service road, I was able to get by him and let it rip. I found out real quick though that some of the switchbacks were slick as snot and almost lost it into on-coming riders as I fish-tailed and skidded in very slick mud. The rest of the way down I let it rip, but made sure I slowed way down before each switchback.

Back at Twin Lakes and again, Roswitha had everything ready. It was a perfect pit stop. I climbed out of Twin Lakes then got with a group and we pace-lined to the single-track section. The wind was howling and at each switchback we got it from a different direction. A rider ahead of me was blown off his bike.

Once at the top of the ridge, we rode rolling fire-roads to the next and last aid station, the "Pipeline". Roswitha was there and had everything ready. Another perfect pit stop. The sun was shining and I was feeling great. Got with a good pace-line to the base of the Powerline. The Powerline is a nasty, steep, long, climb with several false summits. The first two steep pitches, no one rides, except maybe Lance & Dave. I tried it in the past, but there was a guy pushing his bike right beside me going the same speed. It’s just not worth the effort. Just like at Silver Rush, my running came to an advantage here, and I passed qutie a few in the "hike a bike" sections. Once past the two hike a bike sections, I climbed steadily, and steadily passed people. One guy hung with me for a while. It was his firt Leadville, and every time we came to a false summit he’d ask if we were at the top. After the third one, I told him we had a couple more to go with a pretty steep pitch on the last one. He replied "F&*# this" and I never saw him again.

Got to the top and let it rip. I really like this descent. It’s rocky and fun and you can really pick up some speed. Once down, the loooong road climb began. All you can do here is hope your feeling decent, get into a rhythm and start climbing. Most guys are pretty blown here. I was feeling good. I just started climbing and one by one I picked people off. No one made an attempt to stay with me, just a grunt of "good job dude". About ½ way up, finally a guy jumped on my wheel. He asked me if I thought we had a chance of breaking 9 hours. I said yes, but we would have to finish strong. He stayed with me to the top of the road and to the top of St. Kevin’s. We bombed down St. Kevin’s, and I overshot a couple of switchbacks, but nothing major. Once we hit the road outside Leadville we had a pretty flat mile or two to the notorious "Boulevard". There was a pretty stiff headwind and he left me out front the whole time. I mentioned that we should work together, but he said he was barely hanging on. So I told him to stay on my wheel and we’ll get there. I was getting a little worried though, because both legs were starting to cramp.

We turned onto the Blvd, and I made sure to stay relaxed even though we were climbing some loose rocky stuff that takes a bit of grunting. I just kept saying to myself "relax, relax, your not going to cramp". We climbed the 3 miles into Leadville, passing destroyed riders, who were just surviving. Outside of the mild cramping, I was still feeling pretty good. I thought to myself, "next week I’ll be coming up this same Blvd a drooling idiot". We crested the final hill and into the finish line. I achieved my goals of finishing, enjoying every minute of it, and breaking 9 hours with 8:45:35. My overall placing was 86th of 973 finishers and somewhere between 1,300 – 1,500 starters.

It was epic, epic, epic. And I love it, love it, love it!

The 10K Run

The following day, Sunday, was the 10k running race. The course is out and back following the last 3.1 miles of the LT100 mile course. It goes down the Blvd, then turns around and comes back up. Running a 10k at 10,000 feet is not easy. Don’t even think about time. My plan was to take it easy. My only concern was Max. There is a dog category and Max was the defending champion. I didn’t want to go hard as I wanted to save my effort for the 100 mile run next week, but didn’t want to disappoint Max either.

The race went well, Max and I took the lead in the dog class, without pushing too hard. Upon coming back, I saw we had a pretty good lead and we could coast to the finish (if you can coast running uphill at 10,000 feet)! I passed a guy on a steeper section and he asked me what age group I was in. When I told him 50+ he said "that’s what I was afraid of". Then the competitive part of me kicked in. I thought, hmm, I could be winning my age group, and then turned it into a race. I started upping the pace and running hard, which is what I didn’t want to do. Coming up over the final hump into Leadville, it felt like my lungs were being ripped out. I ended up winning the age group and Max successfully defended his title as "Top Dog"!

Next week is the big one. I’m looking forward to it. So far its been one amazing journey!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Very Good Signs

It's been a very busy couple of weeks since the Silver Rush, but training seems to be on target. After the Silver Rush, I've been reducing the volume and cranking up the intensity with some very good results. Climbed very well on the Tuesday ProCycling hammer fests. Joined the Acacia Park group ride (Colorado Springs' equivalent to what other towns call their "A" ride) and climbed with the leaders, getting my heart rate to the highest this year! Runs have been high quality, running mile intervals and tempo runs at "faster than I though I could" pace, feeling pretty comfortable. Less than a week to go for the final chapter of this great adventure!

Big Horn Sheep encountered on a run

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Silver Rush Report

Lining up for the Start

Two down three to go! I have always loved the Leadville Silver Rush and this year was no exception. The Silver Rush is all uphill and down hill. It is a high altitude incredibly fun mountain bike race that I would recommend to any one that wants a good challenge. Just to get things off on the right foot we start by running our bikes up a hill that is too steep to ride. From there we go up; 6,980 ft of climbing at an average elevation 11,100 feet and topping out at over 12,000 feet. I didn’t want to kill myself on the run up the hill, but at the same time I needed to be close to the front because we immediately jump onto a fairly rocky double track. With 486 starters, I did not want to get caught in the traffic jam.
And there off!
Dan & Charlie Lead the Way!
Nice way to start a race!
It worked out the way I planned, I was in the top 30 at the top of the hill. Even then it was chaos. The trail was dry and so dusty I couldn’t see anything. Riding pretty high speed in a crowd on a rocky dusty trail while blind. I think ZZ Top has a song about that. After a while things started sorting out an I settled in for a long climb. The first part was not very steep and my legs felt a little dead. I didn’t panic, just focused on staying relaxed and enjoying the fact that I was embarking on an epic ride in an incredible place. There were people going around me including Phil Schweizer (Of Koobi Saddles fame) who I knew was in my age group. We have been taking turns beating each other over the years with him coming out on top the most. He (and the others) looked like they were working awful hard for so early in the race, so I stayed relaxed, focused on form and did not chase. Gradually the trail became steeper and as it got steeper my legs seemed to "wake up" and I was passing a lot of those, including Phil, that had passed me earlier. Once at the top I took some electrolytes (as I did every hour) to ensure I didn’t cramp up like last year. Then it was a screaming descent down a dirt road with a few rocky sections. I was able to hook up with another guy and we kept slingshotting off each other all the way down. At the bottom of the road we dropped down a loose rocky double track for some very rough but high speed descending. We were descending together, until I overshot a switchback and skidded into the woods, but I was still able to keep him in sight through the descent. Then it was steep climbing towards Ball Mountain and above tree line. There was a group of us going back and forth taking turns passing each other until some steep loose descents off of Ball Mountain. There we kind of split based on descending skills and I was able to stay with the front, although I almost bit it. From there it was all out racing to the turn around point at 25 miles. I saw Dan Durland coming back on his single speed, easily in the top ten and Charlie Dunn also on a single speed was hot on his heels. I arrived at the turnaround and Roswitha was ready, we switched camelbacks, a new food bottle, Hammer Gel, and was off. I was told I was 25th place overall. I was feeling incredibly good at this point and knew that this race was only going to get better.
Refuled and Ready to Go!
Headin out for the second half of FUN!
Going back to Ball Mountain entails climbing some very steep loose rocky sections (The same sections that split our group descending). We pushed our bikes up this section, barely able to breath at 12,000 ft or so elevation. I was able to pass a few people here probably due to all the running I’ve been doing, but I certainly wasn’t running. I continued to be amazed how good I was feeling on the climbs and slowly reeled in whoever I saw ahead of me. At one point I was climbing a steep section and found myself grinning ear to ear, I was loving it so much. When we hit the final major climb, which was the dirt road we screamed down a couple hours before, I saw about eight riders strung out as far up as I could see. Right then and there I decided I was going to catch everyone of them. I immediately dropped the guy I had been going back and forth with all day and started closing in on the first victim. Once I caught him I rode his wheel for a second or two to catch my breath then sprint past to make sure any thoughts of trying to stay with me were crushed. I did this to everyone, and as I passed all eight, I could see more in the distance. I continued catching and passing everyone I saw all the way to the top. Then came the long, fast incredibly fun descent. I just let if fly. There are sections that are pretty rocky so I did my best to pick lines that would least likely cause a flat, but that wasn’t always possible. I was a little concerned about flatting, but I didn’t want anyone catching me either. I saw a ProCycling jersey ahead and it was Charlie. He was definitely at a disadvantage here because he could not pedal fast enough for this section of downhill. We exchanged encouragement as I went by, and I continue to hammer to the finish. Just about the same place as last year I started to feel some minor cramping. I backed off a bit and focused on riding as relaxed as possible. The last section, although predominately downhill is rolling with a couple power climbs. I relaxed through these and the cramping went away, just as someone caught me from behind. Luckily I was able go all out and hold him off and actually put a little distance on him by the finish. Finished strong, ended up 13th overall out of 486 starters, and 1st in the old guys age group. I’ve had a lot of second places here (age group) due to getting off course, cramps, mechanicals, so it was super sweet to finally win one. Today, everything went right, fueling, pacing, stayed on course, no mechanical, and only minor cramping toward the end. ProCycling did very well. Dan won the single speed divison (6th overall), I won the Masters class, Charlie was second in the single speed division, and Kara won the womens single speed.

Coming into the Finish!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Taking Advantage of Unemployment

View of Pikes Peak from top of Mt. Almagra

I got laid off Friday, July 10, the day before the Leadville Marathon. So I really got some great training and epic rides in this week. Fortunately, I found a new job right away and I start tomorrow. The timing is pretty good. I had planned this past week to consist of the most training before I start tapering/peaking for the 100s. So not having a job fit in perfectly! With that said I got almost 30 hours of training, and a couple epic rides and an epic run. Tons of climbing, tempo and speed. A perfect week!

Monday: Easy run just to get the blood going a bit. Still pretty sore and tired from the marathon on Saturday and the pre-ride of the MTB course on Sunday. Also did the normal strength training routine, focusing on the core.
Run: 0.3 hrs, 2.5 miles

Tuesday: This was a pretty incredible day. Started the morning (and I didn’t have to start in the dark) with a 16 mile run along Santa Fe Trail. I was still feeling a little tired, but still had a good run. I had planned to run six of the miles at tempo, but didn’t feel recovered enough from the past weekend. So pretty much kept a steady pace the entire run. Took a three hour break then did a hill workout on the bike, and it was hot! With the run in the morning and the marathon this past weekend, I wasn’t exactly hammering the climbs but I was climbing steady. Climbed Gold Camp, 3 * Cheyenne Canyon (ouch), Orion, Ridge Road, and Flying W for a total of 6,669 ft of climbing.
Run: 2.2 hrs, 16 miles. Bike: 4.3 hrs, 50 miles, 6,669 ft climbing

Wednesday: Ran some errands around town on the bike for an hour then some technical MTB riding in Ute Park. Recovery from yesterday.
Bike: 2 hrs, 17 miles

Riding to the top of Mt. Almagra

Thursday: Another extraordinary day! I could get used to this being laid-off. Today I decided to do my ride of truth. This is the ride I do to show myself I am ready for the Leadville 100 MTB race. I start from my house and climb through Cheyenne Canyon, Frosty’s, and to the top of Mt. Almagra, which tops out at 12,349 ft. It’s a LONG climb!

Kara on Bear Creek Trail
The plan was for me to start from home and meet Kara Durland (the queen of single speed) at the Gold Camp trail head. She arrived early and I was late (only a quarter way up High Drive) so she headed out about 20 minutes before I arrived. I rode tempo for an hour up Gold Camp trying to catch her, but still no Kara at Old Stage. I eventually found Kara waiting at Frosty’s which is right around 10,000 ft. We continued to climb for another hour or so, her on a single speed and me on a geared bike. I can say only one thing about Kara. She is a stud! She kept telling me not to wait for her, but that was not an issue. I was working pretty hard just keeping up. After 4 ½ hours of climbing we finally reached the top. The view is pretty much indescribable. You’ll just have to ride it for yourself to see. The picture at the top of this blog doesn't do it justice. This is definitely a seldom seen view of Pikes Peak. We had a little snack (Cliff Bar) and headed back down, via Jones Park/Cap’n Jacks, one of the funnest single-track descents around. I’m not sure how long it is, but my guess is at least 20 miles of single-track bliss. Once we got back to Gold Camp we went our separate ways, with me having three more climbs before I got home. These are the epic rides I live for! And Kara does them on a single speed!
Bike: 8.8 hours, 72 miles, 8,520 ft climbing.

Friday: Had a great run considering yesterday’s ride! I didn’t feel tired at all. Warmed up by running to Ute Park then headed over to the track for some barefoot running. Ran two miles barefoot, in just over 14 minutes feeling pretty smooth and effortless. After that I ran ten 100 meter stride outs across the football field. Felt absolutely great. Once I got home did the normal strength/weight workout.
Run: 1.1 hrs, 8 miles

The Mysterious CRUD Sign Appears on the Trail Again
Saturday: Another Epic CRUD run! There is no way to describe how fun this run was. Again we were like kids out on an adventure. Climbing past 12,000 feet, finding an old steam engine that used to pump water from a spring, bush-wacking, finding new trails, and incredible scenery. Runs like these are just too much fun to call training. No idea how far we actually ran. My best guess would be between 23 – 25 miles.

Run 6.3 hrs, 25 miles, 9,300 ft climbing


Sunday: Tempo ride on Santa Fe Trail. Rode tempo for 55 minutes from Ice Lake to Palmer Lake. Felt pretty good, considering such a long run yesterday, and was able to keep focused the entire 55 minutes. My time was among my best even though there was a slight headwind. Good sign! Means that even after almost a 30 hour week, I’m not over trained. I’ll taper a little this week, have a good Silver Rush, then hopefully peak for the 100s.
Bike: 3.7 hrs, 46 miles

Week Total: Run - 10 hrs, 53 miles, Bike 19 hrs, 182 miles

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Leadville Marathon Report

Leadville Marathon Start

Leadville Marathon. Ouch! I forgot how tough this marathon is. So far just about all the training I’ve been doing has been up to 10,000 feet. The Leadville starts at 10,000 and goes up from there. It has five major climbs with the biggest one topping out over Mosquito Pass at 13.100 ft. The scenery is incredible. So much so, I took a camera with me and took pictures along the way. When I got to the top of Mosquito Pass I even stopped and had a picture taken with Ken Chlober, the race director.
CRUD was there in force and we were all off for a great adventure. I couldn’t believe how good I felt right from the beginning on the long climb out of Leadville. I continued to feel great over the first three climbs including the long steep rocky climb to the top of Mosquito Pass.
Feeling Good Loving It!

However, Roswitha and I had a bit of a logistical screw up and I didn’t get any food at the 10 mile aid station, which I paid dearly for later. Although I didn’t know it, at the top of Mosquito Pass (13.1 miles) I was leading the 50+ age group and somewhere in the top 20 over all.
Mosquito Pass with Ken
I had only one gel since the start and it was 3 miles downhill to the next aid station. The descent from Mosquito Pass is steep, rocky and treacherous. It takes total focus and concentration to run it down at a decent pace. About 2 ½ miles down I bonked hard. And it was immediate. I instantly went from feeling great to terrible. I made it into the aid station cramping and incredibly hungry. I was able to get a little bit of Hammer Gel from Roswitha and a Power Gel from the aid station. The Power Gel gagged me and I almost puked. Leaving the aid station is a bit of a climb and I was really feeling bad. I kept telling myself its only 10 miles to the finish and I could tough it out. A couple times I got so light headed that I was reduced to walking and staggering. I kept catching my toes on rocks and tripped and fell pretty hard once while going uphill. It seemed like hundreds of people where passing me. I started getting negative thoughts and feeling sorry for myself, thinking I could DNF the Leadman on the first event. I finally made it to the next aid station and sucked on 4 – 5 oranges and ate some watermelon. I sat there for a few minutes thinking I had to keep going even if I had to be medically evacuated. So I headed out to the 5th and final climb, up and around Ball Mountain. At this point I was trying my best to trick my mind in to thinking everything was fine by being thankful to be out in such a beautiful place and how lucky I was to be in these incredible mountains. If anything, this was a good because it was a good lesson for the 100. Never take in too little (or too much) calories on such an arduous undertaking.

Bonked an Barely Moving

I eventually made it to the last aid station and had some more watermelon and oranges. I was starting to feel better and it was pretty much all down hill to the finish. Some of the descending was very steep and loose, but it seemed things were coming back and I was racing again. After finally coming off the trail and on to the dirt road that led back into Leadville I was pretty much fully recovered and even caught and passed one of two people before crossing the finish line in 34th place overall and 3rd in the old guys category.


Despite the bonk this was an incredibly fun race. The atmosphere, the scenery, and the magic of the mountains can’t be matched. I made some serious mistakes during this race that caused some pretty serious suffering. But just like life, serious mistakes are the ones we learn the most from. It’s much better to make these mistakes the marathon than the 100 mile race. One down, four to go! The adventure continues!



Monday, July 6, 2009

An Easy Week, On to Leadville, and Dan Durland Kicks Butt!


Monday: Today was a recovery day with just a strength workout on the docket. Even so I dawned my Vibram Five Fingers "shoes" (I'm still not sure what to call them) and took Max for a hike in Ute Park. These things felt so good I couldn't help running every once in a while. They felt great going uphill in rocky terrain, but are going to take some practice descending the rocky stuff. The thought crossed my mind to run with them all week and wear them in the Leadville Marathon, but that may not be a good idea. I'd hate to DNF in the first race because I switched shoes. I'll stick with convention for now.

Tuesday: Just another day in paradise. Up just before sunrise and ran with Max in Ute Park where we got to witness another spectacular morning. Ran a fairly easy loop around Ute and practiced running rocky descents, since there will be plenty of that in Saturday's marathon. In the evening rode easy for 1 1/2 hours to warm up for the ProCycling hammer fest. Once that came around, I rode strong and was right up there on the climbs, especially the second one. I thought about holding back and saving for Saturday, but again, the marathon and the Silver Rush are just lead ups to the 100s. I need to train through these and use them as training races with the bigger picture in mind. The 100s are where things will matter. On another note Dan Durland is kicking butt at the Breck Epic. After three days (A prologue and 2 stages) of brutal mountain bike racing, he leads the single speed class by over 5 minutes. He's a tough one. Link to news article:

Wednesday: These are the hardest periods of training for me. When I have to start taking it easy for a race. Although I'm not doing a full taper, I do need to cut back a bit the final three days before the marathon. The legs are a tired and hammering the rest of the week won't be good. Sooo another beautiful morning in paradise. I ran with Roswitha and Max in Ute Park for a couple of miles then headed to the track for 2 miles of barefoot running and 4 * 100 meter barefoot strideouts then 2 miles home. Very easy, legs felt a little tired, except when running barefoot. My legs always seem to come alive when I run barefoot. Don't Know why. Dan is holding on at the Breck Epic. He lost some time today but still holds the overall lead by one second. Today was a brutal stage with over 9,000 feet of climbing. Here is a link to an article covering today's stage:

Thursday: An easy day on the bike. Pretty much just played around practicing basic technical skills for 30 minutes, then went to Ute Park with Kevin Cahn to ride the technical sections. Kevin is a very good technical rider and he's looking for a new bike. He had a demo Santa Cruz that the shop lent him. So we put it through the test on the rockiest most technical sections in Ute Park. I think he likes it. I see a Santa Cruz in Kevin's future. Dan must have really suffered today at the Breck Epic. He came in third and lost over seven minutes to the lead. Again another brutal day with over 9,000 feet of climbing. One more day. GO DAN!

Friday: This mornng was a very easy run to try and get fresh legs for tomorrow. Legs felt signigicantly better than Wednesday, but still a little tired. Tomorrow the adventure begins. Dan wasn't able to make up the 7 minutes today but he fought valiantly and came in second. Almost 30 minutes ahead of third (over the six days of racing). Dan is a true stud. Six days of racing brutal courses at high altitude with monster climbs...on a SINGLE SPEED! Way to go Dan you are one tough hombre. Now for me it's off to Leadville!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

After months of training, the first event of the Leadman is just around the corner! This has been an amazing journey and no matter what the outcome, the journey has been so much fun, it doesn’t matter. Whoever said “It’s the journey not the destination” must have been training for Leadman. It has been so much fun and through this I've come to realize how much I love running and riding in the nature of this amazing planet. Everywhere from San Diego to Washington DC to Colorado Springs I have found great places to train. (Actually it’s more like playing than training). All the people I’ve had the privilege to run and ride with throughout this adventure have been incredible to say the least. Everyone from the Urban Assault Crew and Major Taylor Cycling Club in San Diego to CRUD & ProCyling in Colorado Springs. I’m pretty excited about getting the show on the road!

This week was another incredible week with over 25 hours of running and riding. Lots of hills and the climbing legs are coming around on both the bike and the run. I set a PR running up Barr Trail Thursday, as well as rode over 8,500 ft vertical on Sunday, feeling strong on every climb. On a long run with CRUD, Friday, which was about 23 miles with just under 5,000 of climbing I mentioned to Paul DeWitt that this may be a bit much the week before a marathon. I absolutely love his answer. “It is for normal people, we are not normal people.”

With that said, I will not be tapering much for the Leadville Marathon nor the 50 mile Silver Rush. With the five events of the Leadman spread out over a month, and the last three in the last week, it would not be a good idea to taper for every race. The two 100 milers are the biggies, so I will treat the marathon and the Silver Rush as hard training runs/rides. I feel good, it seems like I’m getting stronger each week, I’m 51 years old and weigh the same as in high school, and just love every run and ride. Let the show begin!

This week’s training (playing) log:

Monday: Recover from the weekend no running/riding, just a strength workout. Core, upper & lower body.

Tuesday: Nice early morning run with Max. Ran the Santa Fe Trail through the Air Force Academy, then turned around after 7 miles. Ran 5 miles at tempo in 36:08. Coming back got to witness an incredible sunrise with the mountains in all their glory. The perfect way to start the day. Tuesday evening ran some errands on the bike to warm-up for the ProCycling hammer fest. We rode in Ute Park and I felt surprisingly good and was able to red line it when needed. Really fun ride, short and intense! Run: 1.9 hrs - 14 miles, Bike 2.8 hrs, 29 miles

Wednesday: This morning went on a mountain bike ride with a very old friend, Ralph Bateman. We have been friends for over 20 years and Ralph is responsible for getting me into cycling in the first place. I was an injured runner, and Ralph suggested riding a bike while recovering from injuries. I took up riding and it was 15 years before I started running again.
Ralph Riding Section 16

We had a great ride getting in some good climbs in Red Rocks, Entemann Trail, 2 times High Drive/Cap'n Jacks Loop, Columbine, and the Chutes. About 5 hours of riding with almost 6,000 feet of climbing.

Coming Down Cap'n Jacks

Thursday: Got up early and did an easy road ride for just under 3 hours. I wanted this to be a recovery ride of sorts, so I just tried to keep the ride reasonably flat and the heart rate down. In the evening was the CRUD Barr Trail hill climb run. I set a new PR to the 7.8 sign taking another 5 minutes off from last week. Yea the climbing legs seem to coming around.

Friday: CRUD long run. I can't not say enough how fun it is to run with these guys and gals. Today we did Williams Canyon, Waldo Canyon, Longs Ranch Road, Hurricane Canyon, Manitou Reservoir, Trail 609, and finally Barr Trail back to Manitou. Lot's of climbing, (especially Longs Ranch) back country trails, and deep forests. We were like kids on an adventure! ~ 23 miles, almost 5 hours, and just under 5,000 feet of climbing

Rick Leading the Way up Williams Canyon


Saturday: Last week I mentioned that I really like running barefoot and wish I could run trails barefoot. Well I got an email from Tricia a friend who help pace me at my last 100. She told me about Vibram 5 Fingers ( I tried a pair on and couldn't believe how good they feel. They look pretty funky though, Roswitha says it looks like I have frog feet. I went on a six mile run today and tested them on pavement, concrete, gravel bike paths, and a little bit of trail. A real trail test will have to wait, as Ute Park was too muddy due to rain last night. I think I will get to like these "shoes" a lot. Running on concrete and pavement will take some getting used to, as there is no padding at all. The bike path and trail were great. It felt just like running barefoot. You definitely get a feel for the ground. I ran six miles with ten 100 meter stride outs and felt great. I'm pretty psyched about these "shoes" and time will tell if they will work on long rocky trail runs. I will definitely be reporting on these as I run in them more. Roswitha will not let me where them in public while she's around though.

Sunday: Tour de Hills road ride. Met up with Kelly early in the morning. We just rode every long steep hill we could find on the West side of Colorado Springs, and there are plenty of them. As I mentioned last week, Kelly is a great friend and a fierce competitor. We have been taking turns beating each other up for years. We are about even in climbing so we can really push each other when doing a climbing workout. Flying W, Gold Camp, Cheyenne Canyon, Old Stage/Hill Road, the Zoo, Star Ranch, the Zoo again. All great climbs that we were able to push each other. After 3 ½ hours Kelly had to get home so I hit Cheyenne Canyon again, Orion, Gold Camp, Ridge Road, and Flying W on my way home. I couldn’t believe how good I felt on every climb. Even the ones at the end. Ended up with 73 miles and 8,560 ft of climbing in 5.8 hrs.

Kelly Coming up Gold Camp

Total for Week: Run 9.3 hrs - 53 miles, Bike 16.2 hrs - 171 miles

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

View of Pikes Peak from Cameron's Cone

This week was a lot of hours at work, so workouts were cut short, but the weekend was fantastic! Monday, I was still pretty wasted from the previous weekend and worked late, so just used it as a rest day. Probably better to recover than force a workout.

Tuesday: Got up early and ran in Ute Park then two miles inside the track barefoot. This run felt incredible. I just wanted to run forever, but had to get to work. Ended up working 11 hours so missed the ProCycling hammer fest in the evening. The morning run sure was nice though! Run 1.5 hrs, 11 miles.

Wednesday: Great early morning hill repeats on the road bike. Was up at the crack of dawn for hill repeats as it would be another long day & late night at work. Since I was strapped for time, stayed in the neighborhood and rode 5 repeats up a .92 mile hill with average grade of 8.8% , averaging about 7 minutes each climb. Felt really good, the early morning sunrise was awesome and the mountains, as always, amazing. Just had to watch the descents because there were deer all over the place. I really felt like doing more but no time. The climbing legs are coming around!

Thursday: Another day in paradise! Got up very early this morning and ran with Max in Ute Park. It was just another beautiful morning with the sun rise and the mountains and the trails. About halfway through the run went over to Eagleview Middle School track and ran a couple of miles barefoot as well as a half dozen 100 meter stride outs. The more I run barefoot the more I like it. Maybe I'll start working on getting my feet tough enough to run on trails barefoot and not just grass. Hmmm that's a thought. We'll see. Rode my rode bike home from work. I figured with the long hours I'm working that's the best way to get a ride in.

Friday: Easy ride to work.

Saturday: Ahh the weekend! The Leadman events are getting ever closer! Two weeks from today the show begins. Went out to Breckenridge with Dan & Kara Durland. I've mentioned them before but they are worth mentioning again. These two are the toughest couple around, and in Colorado that is saying a lot. Both of them do 24 hour races, the Leadville Trail 100, and many other epics that literally chew up mountain bikers and spit them out. Dan & Kara do em all on single speeds. The non-finish ratio at the Leadville Trail 100 is very high for women on geared bikes. Kara finishes every year on a single speed. They are both studs of the highest realm. Today we went out so Dan could recon day three of the Breck Epic. This is a 6 day mountain bike stage race over high altitude and some of the toughest terrain anywhere. As always, he is doing the entire race on a single speed. Day three is supposed to be the easy day; 30 miles with 4,341 ft of climbing at an average altitude of 10,300 ft. It was a great ride.


Sunday: Cameron's Cone. What a cool run! Most of it was hiking but it was super cool. Rick Hessek, Steve Bremner and I decided to do a little adventure run up to the top of Cameron's Cone then do some exploring from there. The climb up was steep and a lot of bushwacking.

Steve on the way up

At the top we were treated to incredible seldom seen views of Pikes Peak. Instead of going back the way we came, (which was dangerously steep) we went down the other side, bushwacking and following a creek. Came upon some old cabin ruins and trails here and there that we could actually run. We eventually came out on Barr Trail near the Experimental Forest and No Name Creek. We hadn't seen a single person in over 3 1/2 hours. Barr Trail seemed like a highway of hikers after that. Incredible, amazing run. Can't think of enough adjectives to describe it!

Rick & Steve at the Top

Total for Week: Run 7 hrs, 39 miles, Bike 7.5 hrs, 75 miles

More Pictures:




Sunday, June 21, 2009

Kelly Riding up Deadman's
It’s only three weeks from the first Leadman event, the Leadville Marathon which goes over the 13,000 foot Mosquito Pass. I’ve done a ton of hill running and everything seems to be coming around. This weekend was awesome. Got up early on Saturday and the weather didn’t look too great so decided to stick close to home vs. get caught way out in the mountains in some kind of hail/thunder/snow storm. I ran about 1 ½ hours with Max in Ute Park, brought him home, refilled water bottles and took off again. I really enjoyed the run and the longer I ran the more I enjoyed it. After 3 hours figured I was at 18 miles or so which would normally be a good run, but this is Leadman training, so that is barely a warm-up. Continued on, ran up what we call the “Scar” near Blodgett Peak and got another 3+ hours in for about 35 miles. I felt really good the entire run.
Our "Secret" Trail above the Air Force Academy

Today, Sunday, was an epic dream ride. Kelly McGrew and I go back a ways and have been taking turns beating each other for years at mountain bike races. Kelly is a fierce competitor, a good friend and riding buddy. He loves epic rides as much as I do. Today we road for 7 ½ hours on back woods trails, in which we saw nary a soul. This is what mountain bike riding is all about. And even after a 35 mile run yesterday, I felt great. Climbed strong and just loved every minute of it.

5 Hrs 43 min and still Nothing but Sweet Single Track!

The rest of the week was just as epic. Barefoot recovery runs, Barr Trail run with CRUD on Thursday, in which I improved my time another two minutes. On Wednesday, the only day I didn’t take my camera, a baby bear, just a tad bigger than Max came up and stood on his hind legs just a couple feet away. Of all times not to bring the camera!
Mon: Strength Workout/recovery
Tues: AM Run 2.2 hrs -16 miles, PM MTB Steep Hill Repeats 2.4 hrs – 24 miles
Wed: AM: Recovery run .9hrs – 7 miles (3 miles barefoot) PM Road Ride 3.8 hrs – 53 miles
Thurs: PM CRUD Run Barr Trail 2.5 hrs – 14 miles
Fri: Strength Workout/Recovery run .8 hrs – 6 miles (2 miles barefoot)
Sat: Long run 6.1 hrs – 35 miles (3600 ft climbing)
Sun: Long MTB Ride 7.5 hrs – 65 miles (5,900 ft climbing)

Total for week: Run 11.5 hrs – 78 miles, Bike 13.7 hrs – 142 miles

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Good Training & Good Racing

Heading Down Into Williams Canyon
It’s been a while. Training is going great and yesterday was the first big race of the season. The first week of June was a recovery week as it was time to recover from three 20+ hour weeks. I did a local one hour mountain bike race on Wednesday that week and had a blast. I was very happy that I was able to push it on the climbs. Wasn’t so great on the descents and that’s where I lost contact with 1st & 2nd place. Good race though. High intensity and felt good.

This week was back to the hard training. A good hard 14 mile tempo run on Tuesday morning, then the ProCycling hammer til you Puke Tuesday night ride. I’ve found on these rides I just have to keep the big picture in mind, swallow my pride, and accept getting dropped by guys I know I can out climb. Hard runs in the morning don’t make for super climbs in the evening.
Wednesday morning easy 6 mile barefoot run, then some fun technical mountain biking in the evening. Thursday, 1 hour tempo ride on Santa Fe Trail. Just as I was getting warmed up, I almost ran into a very large bear. Unfortunately he/she was moving too fast for me to stop and get a picture. Those things are amazingly fast and very elegant. He climbed some huge bolders like they weren’t there. My wife also encountered a bear earlier in the week while she was out running. Thursday evening the CRUD run up Barr Trail. I only did half of the incline, to back off a little bit for Saturday’s race. Then finally, Friday, an easy 5 mile barefoot run. Ready for the first big race of the season.

Still Snow in the Mountains (Winter Park)

Winter_Park has a mountain bike series that is just a lot of fun. The competition is as good as anywhere and the courses are incredible. The series starts with a hill climb that climbs a little over 2000 feet in 5 miles. Got a good warm-up by climbing half the race course then taking some insanely fun single track back down. The first race of the season always has me nervous. How are my legs going to feel? Maybe I should have trained less during the week. Has all this running made me slow on the bike? Blah blah blah. Then the gun goes off. Five miles uphill as fast as we can go. At Winter Park they typically start the juniors with us old guys and the first few races of the year they go at a full sprint from the start. We catch every one of them within the first mile. This year was no different. There was a group of three of us that separated from the pack and we duked it out for the first couple of miles until Keith Sanders (former Masters National Champ) started to pull away. I tried to stay with him but he eventually opened a gap. I was able to open a gap with the third guy and was super motivated as I got into a rhythm. In my head I just kept chanting Go! Go! Go! I was able to keep Keith in sight for a while but could never quite close in. He slowly but surely increased his lead until I lost him. It looked like I was riding for second. When we crossed the line there were already two other guys in our race finished. Huh. Turns out they sprinted off the line with the juniors and I never noticed. So instead of second I was fourth. Ha! Great race though and a lot of fun. Sharon & I rode another 2 hours on some of the best single track in the world. Total climbing on the day - just under 5,000 ft. Very happy with the first race.

Waldo Canyon

Today, Sunday, was my longest run so far this year. I felt great most of the time. 6 hrs 32 min of mountain running, just a little over 6,000 ft of climbing, not sure of the distance but I’m guessing around 35 miles. Started out by climbing Rampart Range Rd then dropped down into Williams Canyon. An absolutely beautiful morning. Climbed out of Williams Canyon and did a loop around Waldo Canyon. Dropped down to Hwy 24 then started the long steep climb up Long’s Ranch Road. I think I may of ran too much of the climb, cause Long’s Ranch destroyed me. It was a very tough decision once I hit Barr Trail to continue climbing to Barr Camp. I had one of those little discussions with myself about how the Leadville 100 will be much harder and if I quit here it will be easier to quite in the race blah blah blah. So I continued on to Barr Camp. It was slow going but I made it. After taking a short break at Barr Camp the run back down to Manitou Springs was easy and fun. I really like this stuff!