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!