Monday, December 9, 2013

You sure are fast! - Yeah it's because I'm four

I went to surprise my nephew and mom 2 years ago for their birthdays (they share the same birthday) and while visiting with Braden we were walking to our rental house and he was doing these little sprint bursts down the road. I told him "wow Brado, you're really fast" and his response "Yeah, that's because I'm four". So in the spirit of speed I'm deterring from my recent philosophic ramblings and I'm going to talk about my new fast trail shoes I just got.

I don't know if my new shoes are really the "speed demon makers" that I think they are, but if you consider them under the realm of my total "quiver" of trail shoes they make me feel fast.

My first pair of trail shoes were Mizunos. I just did a quick check and I couldn't find the exact shoe anymore, but my guess is they are similar to the Wave Ascend 8. My road shoes are the Mizuno Wave Alchemy and I've had good luck with them on pavement. They've been good at alleviating knee pain on longer runs and hold up pretty well. I apparently turn my knees in so these shoes correct it. It made sense that I would then get a similar pair of shoes for my first pair of trail shoes. I really liked them, they are sturdy and strong and I felt good running in them. However, as I progressed in my running I found them to feel clunky and slightly unstable running downhill. The instability is probably from the more structured base of the shoe. I felt pretty separated from the trail and not in a good way in a "I'm not sure what's under me" way. However, I am very pleased with this shoe as my initial trail shoe and it's proven to be a great hiking shoe in its second life.

PROS: good intro to trail shoe, sturdy
CONS: heavy, felt less connection to unstable terrain

My second pair of trail shoes are (because they are still pretty new) the La Sportiva Helios. I initially wanted a shoe that was a little less focused on over correcting my weird running style and also lighter than my current shoes. I tired on a pair of Altras, but they did not have the correct size for my freakishly small feet. They did have the correct size in the Helios and I immediately fell in love with how light they felt. I've been running on them for about a year and am overall pleased with their lightness underfoot and the closer I feel to the trail and the ground. Unfortunately...they started to wear immediately. There is a piece that comes over the toe and after one day on the trail it was already peeling off of one of my shoes. Now  I know that trail running is going to result in stuff getting dirty and ruined. But I was disappointed that it happened so quickly. It was like buying a new car and then someone door dinging it the first day you park it at the grocery store. I am pleased with the weight and the swiftness I felt running, but not pleased with the overall construction of the shoe.

PROS: light weight, responsive to the trail
CONS: started falling apart after the first run. <---I will note that it hasn't fallen apart any more so I guess it is good construction after it sort of fails...

My current and newest pair of shoes are the Pearl Izumi EM Trail N1. This is probably a way premature post on this shoe because I've only run on them twice (and one time was on the road), but I really really liked the shoe right off the bat. It is light weight but still has a sturdy sole. It responds really well to whatever your foot lands on. And it is freaking FAST down hill. I'm serious! I didn't believe the guy at the running store (Denver Run House on Tennyson shop local!!!) that I would notice a difference but I did. I flew downhill in these shoes to the point that I felt like the shoe was just running downhill and I was along for the ride. Beyond that I also felt really strong on the uphill. It's true that I'm better at running uphill, but I do believe the way the shoe is constructed it allowed me to strike the ground at mid foot which allowed me to use my butt and quads more on the uphill and rely less on my calves. I'm really excited to to see how they handle for the long haul and will get my chance in March at the Salida Marathon!

PROS: light weight, responsive to the trail, good foot striking
CONS: I didn't get them for free :(

Monday, December 2, 2013

Desert Runners - Why we Run

I was lucky enough to attend a screening of the movie Desert Runners at the Denver Starz Film Festival a few weeks ago and wanted to take a moment to encourage anyone I can bug to see it when it comes out on digital media in December. If you want to check out the website and trailer here you go: Desert Runners. Don't accidentally try and download Dessert Runners, which would be an awesome movie too. If it doesn't exist yet I am willing to help make this happen because running and desserts go hand in hand in mouth.

The movie follows 4 runners as they attempt to complete the Grand Slam, running all four desert races in a single year. This was the first time I had ever heard of any of these races let alone that there was an added challenge to doing all four in a single year. Each race is 250K (155miles) and goes across the Atacama Desert in Chili, The Gobi Desert in China, The Sahara Desert in Egypt and a specialized loop course in Antarctica.

I'd rather have you watch the movie to see how it all plays out, but something that really stuck out for me was the one woman they followed throughout the movie. Samantha from Australia is a badass. Plain and simple. She was the most exciting person for me to watch throughout the movie and had to overcome some huge hurdles that touched the core of what it means to be a runner. There was an incident on the race course in the Sahara that changed the tenure of the rest of the challenge and no one would have questioned her dropping out. The story is best left to actually watching the movie so please do if you are able.

After the movie, the director did a short Q & A for people in the audience. One question really stuck out for me, someone asked her if she's signed up for a race yet herself. She acknowledged the feeling you get with runners at races, being part of a family, and that she got about 60% there to signing up for a race but hadn't. Her main reason; she said she lacked the "why". Following the runners that she did during this movie, she said each had a very compelling "why" that came out during the most difficult parts of races and that why helped them keep going or make the tough decision to stop. She said without that why she didn't think she could muster up the toughness needed to finish a race.

It got me thinking about why we run and why I run. I know I've touched on it some, probably in every post. But her answer made me think about what my "why" was.

Running isn't something I did when I was in high school or college. Running was a secondary thing I did to further some other athletic goal; tennis, softball, ultimate, etc. I ran my first race in 2002. I was living in Washington DC at the time and my roommate invited me home for Thanksgiving in Connecticut. We ran a 5 mile turkey trot, further than I had ever run in my life. I cannot remember my time, but I remember feeling like that was the hardest thing I had ever done. Flash forward to 2006, I was living in Breckenridge and started participating in the Nike Summit Trail Running Series. I wouldn't say I enjoyed the running, but I did enjoy the happy hour deals on snacks, the drink tickets, and the raffle. In 2007, as I was finishing up my internship and trying to plan my next steps I decided that I was going to run Grandma's Marathon. This was a race that I grew up with so it seemed like a fun adventure, besides it was in my hometown and I was going to be home anyways.

Choosing to run a marathon because you're going to be in an area anyways seems sort of silly. Marathons takes months of training and do a number on your body. Plus I had never done a race longer than 5 miles so I tacked on some additional shorter races to do to see how it felt. Side note I still cannot run through water stations to drink, I have to stop walk and gulp. But I ran that marathon and have been racing/running consistently ever since.

There are a lot of people in the racing community who run because they lost someone to a specific disease, or they are battling internal demons, or they wanted to get in shape and running transformed their lives and their health. A lot of people run to give back, to raise money for a charity, or to prove to themselves that they can do it. I cannot pinpoint a special moment or inspiration that made me start running. Beyond the convenience of a race being in my home town and having several months of unemployment to occupy my time.

But why do I keep running?

This question is harder for me to answer because there is not one thing that keeps me running. There are many things and most are tied to a specific race or goal which is constantly changing. That being said, I was able to come up with a sort of list on why I run.

1. Tradition

I run Grandma's Marathon because it was my first exposure to a race. I remember cheering for runners as they passed. My favorite memory is leaving an all night frisbee tournament to go down to the corner of 21st and London Road with my friend Matt to pass our friend James some Jolly Ranchers as he ran by. The crowd at this race is one of the best crowds ever and I keep coming back because being there feels like tradition. I give a nod to Lombard street as I run by in memory of my grandma and boompa, and I am still chasing the illusive sub 4 hour marathon on the way to Duluth from Two Harbors.

2. Fitness

I've always been athletic. I started playing sports so early I don't really have a memory of not being on some sort of organized team/league. Therefore I never took up running to get in shape or lose weight. However...I've never felt in better shape for life then after I started running. The year I started training for my first marathon I noticed a considerable improvement in my ultimate game, especially with defense. Running has helped me stay in shape in the off season and has kept me focused on being active year round.

3. Identity

Running has become part of who I am. It's more than just putting on shoes and putting one foot in front of the other. I've encouraged friends and family to start running. I volunteer at races or help crew/pace. A lot like ultimate, running has become a community that I am thankful to be a part of. I keep running not because I'm afraid of what would happen if I stopped, I keep running because it's just part of me now. If I wasn't able to run, I'd still be a part of running in some capacity. Much like an artist will always be an artist, once a runner always a runner.

To conclude, the director of Desert Runners is right that having a "why" to get you through the tough part of races is important. But lots of us runners make that why up on the spot in the race. Whether it's something deep like doing it for a lost friend or something superficial like "I don't want that person wearing the barefoot running shoes to beat me". Heck, sometimes you keep going because it's shorter to just finish than it would be to drop out. And sometimes, you don't keep going. You drop out (DNF) and no matter what your inspiration is that got you out there, sometimes you don't finish. But that doesn't mean you hang up the shoes for life.

In conclusion; the why isn't what helps you finish a race, the why is what keeps you going out for runs whether you're wearing a bib or just out in your neighborhood for a short jog.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Home isn't the first thing you think about in regards to running. Actually home is usually referenced as a place to run away from. Despite the initial disconnect between home and running, I've been giving a lot of thought to the sense of place and what home means on a larger scale; both in terms of running and life in general.

I recently traveled home for my grandpa "Boompa"'s funeral. As I typed that I realized that I still reference Duluth, Minnesota as home, despite having lived in Denver now for nine years.

Duluth, MN just a little village on a hill next to the greatest lake of them all

I've been away from Duluth for most of my adult life. Yet I still always say I'm going home when I travel to Minnesota and I always label it as home in conversations. The message of home popped up a lot in the few days I spent with family. My nephew Braden asked when I was coming to see his new home, my mom asked when my sister and I would be home after drinking at the local watering hole with my shiny headed friend Matt, the priest at St. Paul's read a passage from a small bible given to Boompa before he went to war about home, and everyone asked if my home in Denver was underwater.

I feel blessed that I have a lot of places to call home, but I also feel like home extends to the people and activities I am lucky enough to be a part of. They are not always in the same place, but the act of being there or participating in it feels like home to me.

For many runners the act of running is home. The feel of moving your legs, pounding your feet on pavement or trail, it has a familiarity to it that evokes the idea of home. You can be running anywhere in the world and the constant will be the simple act of running. When I struggle in a race or training run I find the most success focusing in on the simpleness of running. One foot in front of the other, lift your knee up, keep your torso straight don't hunch over! The repetitiveness and expected helps tune your body back to what it needs to do to accomplish it's task. Sometimes we all need to go home to the mundane and expected to re-tune ourselves to the task at hand.

There are moments in races that feel home to me. Just like home, which can sometimes feel unsteady or exciting, the start of a race brings up the same feelings. For example, the start of Grandma's Marathon has been in the same place every year I've run it. You get on a bus and it drops you off at the Sonju Two Harbors car dealership and you slowly make your way from the biffys to the starting corral. Every year I'm nervous, excited, a little unsteady. But all those feelings are comforting in their familiarity. Home isn't always rainbows and sunshines, but there is comfort in its familiarity.

Beyond running I find home in lots of things in my life. Molly Brown is my ultimate home. Dale's Pale Ale is my home beer whenever I am at a liquor store or random bar in Frisco, Texas. My purple Patagonia Hoody with thumb holes is my home apparel whether runnings, skiing, frisbeeing, hanging, working, etc...

At the closing of Boompa's service, the priest described Boompa's home as being in his chair, with his pipe, and a dog at his feet. Home can mean a lot of things, but it's often the place you feel the most able to be yourself. Or rather you don't really think about yourself because you're able to just be. There's no limit on how many "homes" you can have, and if you are lucky you have many.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Trust is not super lame*

Since running training is currently on the back burner due to Ultimate Frisbee season I wanted to write some more about my awesome team, Molly Brown.

Molly Brown has been a team for four years (this is our fourth season) and we came about as a joint effort between Rare Air and Box two Denver/Boulder women's teams. We've been blessed with an awesome coach: Catt Wilson and our new addition Jeff "Bev" Berget*. This season we experienced some turnover so our roster is pretty raw in terms of Elite tournament experience which meant we had our work cut out for us on day one to hold our Pro status with USA Ultimate.

We've just completed our regular season of play which involved participation in three tournaments: Terminus in Atlanta George, Colorado Cup in Colorado, and the Pro Flight Finale in Davis California. We are gearing up for regionals this weekend in Colorado with the season ending at Nationals in Frisco, Texas. Don't be fooled by the term "pro status" as it does not translate into million dollar contracts and episodes of MTV cribs (is that still a show?). We started off the season without a true gauge of where we were and what we needed to do to get to where we wanted to be at the end of the season. With three tournaments under our belt I think we've got some of that figured out and more.

Things had been rough. There was frustration. There were close games we lost, games we should have won, games we came together and won, but it all came down to something our team had to do as a whole to turn the page; trust. A few weeks ago our team met with Scott Gurst, a sports trainer who focuses on the mental as well as the physical aspects of sports. The biggest piece out of our discussion was trust, and trusting our teammates unconditionally without them having to do anything to earn our trust. With a lot of new faces it was hard for each of us to trust that our new teammates where in it the same way we were. I believe this underlying lack of trust resulted in tentative playing and split second, second guessing in early games. I really think the first time I felt that we as a team turned the page was at our last tournament, the Pro-Flight finale. Our pulls which haven't been one of our strong skills were on point, our deep game was being utilized, and we came back on Sunday after going 0-3 on Saturday to win our last two games and finish 5th. It's hard to pick a defining moment, but you know it when it's there and for Molly Brown it's there.

This is the time of year when I really love my team - not that I don't love them the rest of the year. But this is the time of the year when we (a) have no choice but to love each other because we're together so much and (b) everything comes together for some beautiful post season ultimate. We've also figured out how to win as a team and that is only possible because we trust each other. It's beyond, "I trust that Cuz is going to layout for any disc within a 10 foot radius of her body", I trust that Cuz is doing everything she can to make us successful on the field and off the field.

And she looks really good in her USA gear.

Physical prowess often trumps all other aspects of athletic endeavors when assessing a sport/game/race. "She's a faster runner, he has the most accurate throws (and throws 7 touchdowns to completely kill me in fantasy football), that team has won nationals 5 (6,7..i've lost count) times in a row". So when an underdog wins it's hard to grasp how they did it. Underdogs win because they trust and that trust allows them to play the best they can at that moment which means sometimes they beat the better team/person who is not playing the best they can at that moment.  I honestly feel my team is on the verge of that perfect combination between trust and physical ability. We may not be 100% there, but with each tournament, game, and point I believe we chip away at the barrier of performance loss.

Trust is also trust in yourself. Think back to when Usain Bolt won the 100 meters at the Olympics. One piece that almost everyone remembers is him turning back, milliseconds shy of crossing the finish line in Beijing, to celebrate. While this showmanship to some seemed careless and risky as well as a mockery towards those behind him, I invite you to think about it from a different perspective. Bolt's an amazing athlete, the fastest man alive, no one doubts his physical ability. Some may say that if he wasn't so fast he wouldn't get away with that show of bravissimo. But what's overshadowed is while Bolt and the world know that he is fast, know that he as the physical ability to beat anyone on any day on the track is that Bolt completely unconditionally trusts his ability. His last second slow down at the end of the 100 meters showed just how much trusts in his ability. Now I agree that it was sort of a dick move, but tell me you don't wish you had that same trust in your abilities to do something like that?

As Molly Brown heads into Regionals tomorrow and beyond I can honestly say I trust my team and teammates unconditionally. I know that BTown's roller pulls are going to roll out giving our Fiona Trap the position it needs to get a turn on the first pass. I know that Bev and Catt are going to call the best combination of pods to get the disc back when we're on Defense. I know that when I'm trying to catch my girl going deep that I'll hear 16 voices on the sideline telling me exactly where I need to go. Most of all I trust that everyone of us will put on our Molly Brown Jersey and USA Ultimate approved accessories and step out into the rectangle and do the best we can at that moment with no second guessing. Who's Town is it?

*Talk to Bev about super lame - he'll teach you the ropes

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Simple Joy of Running

With Ultimate in full swing I haven't had much chance to do a lot of running outside of practice. I try to get out at least once a week, but my schedule has been spotty. I've missed so many podcasts of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me it's killing me! I managed to sneak a run in between the storm clouds and it was great.

I forgot how great it is to run when you are not trying to make a cut, catch a frisbee, or chase someone on defense. You really get to notice what is around you and the clouds swirling to the North and South were amazing. I did my normal route around the lakes, one which takes me right by the Lakeside Amusement Park. They just finished redoing the paths around the lake and there's a great gravel/dirt path on the side you can run on which is heaven for your knees and makes you feel like you're not running right next to I-70. As Peter Sagal made another terrible listener limerick challenge pun I looked to the East and saw arcs of lightning and I looked to the West to see (and hear) people screaming on the wild chipmunk. It felt good to be in the city and a part of the city without anyone or anything making me run. No races I've signed up for so this run was just a run to get my muscles moving, the blood flowing, and some piece of mind.

This run reminded me that I'm part of a bigger community, not just of runners, but of everyone that is out and about in the city doing what makes them happy. Running can be a pretty solitary endeavor so it's great to be reminded that there are other humans out in the bigger world.

I've found it's easy to forget the joy of running or working out because so much of it is tied to specific goals. While going on a run is part of a bigger plan of working out and being fit to play ultimate, I didn't let that dictate why I was out there. It was just me using my feet to be part of the cityscape.

I love any reason that gets me outdoors; whether skiing, frisbee, hiking, running, or biking and each has something different to offer. Molly Brown is headed to our last regular season tournament of the season over Labor Day - The Pro Flight Finale* - and there I'll get the chance to play around in the rectangle. Sure there will be a purpose and a reason I'm there, but this run reminded me that the best part is using my two feet to be part of something bigger.

*If you want to follow the action at the Pro Flight Finale go here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Local man gets lost in woods, runs 100 miles

Besides running races I also love to help out at races. Whether it is the aid station at the North Fork 50 or cheering on runners like Jeremiah in races. At the end of June I was fortunate enough to crew for Jeremiah in his first 100 mile race in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We had a great group of pacers and all around crewers for the race so first off THANK YOU to Tower, Donnie, Cassidy, and Hannah for not only keeping Jeremiah going but also helping me be the best support I could be.

If you've never crewed before it's a neat experience that takes some prep work that you have to be willing to throw out as soon as something changes with your runner. Here's my guide to being a good pacer,crew member with some  "what to do better next time" advice.

1.  Let your runner dictate what he/she needs before, during, and after the race

Anyone training for a race whether it is a half marathon or a 100 miler has a lot of their own preparation to do. There's the training part, but there's also the figuring out fueling and clothing, researching the course and the weather. Jeremiah had a unique problem in the previous two years of the race had pretty much every possible weather you can think of. It's best to trust that your runner has planned out what he/she needs and it's your job to remind them that it's there (extra shoes, long sleeve shirt, various snacks).

2. Except when you have to make the runner do what he/she needs to do

In retrospect I should have pushed the sit down/rest/recover piece more. Since this was Jeremiah's first 100miler we were all learning what to do and he was learning what to do and not do. The last 17 or so miles of the race were pretty tough according to the bearded wonder. He struggled with fatigue (he said he was "sleep running" for awhile) and really nasty blisters. As I noticed some of the other runners come through aide stations and there were two women who made an impact. First of all, they spent almost the entire race slowly catching up to Jeremiah (one was running the other was a pacer). They eventually passed him at the second to last crewed aide station. Her crew made her sit down at every aide station, brought her food, and provided changes in clothing.

Jeremiah's a little stubborn and when he's feeling good he likes to keep going and pushing. He's been pretty remarkable in running through most of anything so it was pretty easy to believe him that he didn't need to stop and he could just keep pushing through. It's hard to think that didn't catch up to him at the end. I also feel like I should have pushed for a shoe change much earlier. He finally changed at mile 94, probably a good 30 miles past when we could have addressed and stopped some of the major blisters that definitely impacted his ability to run.

3. Try and sleep

Try, but you're probably not going to sleep much. I had a chart of expected times at each aide station so the most I could get was 30min here/1hr there. It's was rough, but not as rough as Jeremiah had it. I say try and sleep because unless you have Beth making up a comfy bed in the back of her Prius you might just fall asleep in your chair at the aide station (which I did despite there being a bed in the Prius).

4. Bring Friends

Having friends around at each aide station made it so much better! Kudos to Hannah for keeping me company for most of the evening. We even managed to catch a blue grass concert in Nemo with the four-wheel festival and acquired a new favorite party song called Parking Lot Party. I didn't think I needed it, but it was really nice to just have people there with you as you try to prepare for your runner and then have your runner blow through the aide station so quickly you didn't even finish throwing away the old gu packets. A big kudos to Beth who drove me around all night and made me eat food. Otherwise I would have missed pacing the last 5 miles.

5. Have fun

I know, pretty generic, but you're going to be out in the woods for 27+ hours so you might as well have fun. You especially need to find fun if you're the last pacer because your runner is probably just going to want to stick his/her head down and finish. Don't get me wrong, Jeremiah was great the last 5 miles, I couldn't believe he was still running after I saw what his toes looked like. But he was having a hard time finding the fun in the last stretch so I figured as long as I kept moving he'd keep moving too and to keep moving I had to find joy in things. I got to see an amazing view of Sterling, we got to pass through some cow herds, I got to wisely convince Jeremiah not to eat a jolly rancher he found on the trail...etc.

All in all it was a great race and I was so proud to watch Jeremiah run through the last stretch to finish and get his belt buckle. It strengthened my reserve to sign up for a 100 miler in the next couple of years and I can't wait to crew/pace again.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sageburner 50k

Well writing the recap of my 50k took longer than the race and probably all the training leading up to it. I have had a draft on the back burner for awhile, but as soon as the race finished I was informed that I would get to play on Molly Brown (ultimate frisbee team) for the 2013 season and just hit the ground running - except this time in cleats. More on that in a future post but for now I do want to recap what my first ultra marathon was like and whether or not I'll do it again.

I did it. I finished. Put a big check next to 50k on the running resume. Also move it to the top of the list of the hardest things I've ever done. I did a lot of thinking over the 7 hours and 15min I was out roaming the Gunnison wilderness and one thing is for certain a lot changed from the start of the race to the finish. As runners we often see changes in ourselves over a longer period of time and in a way that is so subtle it can often be missed. You're running and, if almost by accident, you realize that you've just run 15 miles without really thinking about it. The long road of training helps mold our mind and bodies into a runner able to complete a race. It's important not to discount the changes we experience as we run a race and let me tell you - you can cram a lot of changing into 7hours and 15 minutes.

Here's a list of things that changed for me during the race:

My stomach

I used to think one of the perks of running longer races is the joy of a healthy appetite following a race. Usually I'm starving and want to eat everything that I see. Not always immediately following the race, but typically within a few hours. However after this race I didn't want food. I forced myself to eat some stuff, but I really wasn't hungry and remained that way for several days. I literally could not eat a meal. I have a couple theories on why this race affected my stomach so much and the biggest one was probably the sun. Almost all of the race course was out in the sun - no shade in sight. Just being outside for that long made it hard to eat during the race and it is not too hard to imagine that effect lasted beyond the finish line.  I also consumed way more Gus then I ever have in that amount of time so perhaps I was fueled by Gu for days after.

My legs

I've hit the wall plenty of times in a marathon and even in some half marathons. You don't have much of a choice if you are going to continue or not because the choice for most runners is simple: you finish it even if you are shuffling the last mile. During this race I experienced a wall, I climbed over the wall and then I hit a 6in steel reinforced wall. I learned early on in trail running that if you don't know what the trial ahead has in store (and even if you think you do) just assume it goes longer and goes uphill. I pushed every thought out of my head regarding how much time I think I had left, how many hills I had left, and who was behind me gaining ground. Ok I did think a little bit about how close the person behind me was but just as a motivator. I realized that my legs can do a lot more than I ever thought possible. Especially after it feels like they cannot do any more. I went through every stage of leg fatigue twice and came out still running at the end.

My approach to a challenge

I started the race a bit faster than I anticipated I would. I've always been worried about starting out to fast and having it negatively affect me later on. What I found out was the pain comes no matter how fast you start out and it's about how you overcome that challenge mid-race that makes a difference and you can overcome a lot more than you think (see above comment regarding legs). Sure there's a balance and I still believe you can start something in a way that makes your finish harder to reach, but it was eye opening to me to know I can start faster - blow up a little bit - and keep going all the way to the finish.

Not everything changed during the race some things did stay the same and I'm grateful for that.

Here's a list of things that didn't change

I love Dr. Pepper and I don't know why I don't drink it after every race.

My old patagonia running shorts are and will always be the best running shorts I'll ever own. I can cram Gus, M&Ms, pretzels, oreos, probably another pair of shoes in the pockets.

My love of running - seriously. Despite the pains I cannot wait to do another race. I love ultimate so it's not a bad switch to go into that, but I am already planning my race schedule for next season and hopefully I'll be able to find a race I can do in October after nationals. I doubt I'll do this race again. Logistically it was fine, but the course itself was not my favorite and I felt underwhelmed at the aid stations.

As I noted above I'm now transitioning back in to Ultimate Frisbee season. Another activity you can do for 7+ hours at a time. You can follow us on twitter @mollybrowntown and find us on Facebook. You can also read about our team on our website Molly Brown Ultimate.

Until then here's a picture of me at the Sage Burner 50k with a big goofy smile on my face as I ran the final stretch into the finish. Look at all that crap in my pocket! Why didn't I eat it?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Quad Rock Re-cap

First off - another amazing race put on by the Gnar Runners. Seriously, if you are looking for a great trail race these are the guys to look for. They put on a variety of races through the season and from my experience it will be great. Well marked, well staffed at aid stations, and just an all around awesome time.

Despite this being one of the hardest trail races I've run, I have the most fun running it. I managed to put together a great race which I'm pretty proud about. Here are some of my highlights:

1. 6:01:19!

I am super pumped about my time. I managed to knock off close to 30min from my time the previous year. I attribute the success to two things: more long runs during training and hill repeats. I cannot say enough about how much hill repeats have had an impact on my over all running. They've made my legs stronger and more ready to tackle hard hills later in the race, but also the downhills which often get neglected because "gravity" does a lot of the work.

2. Conquering the "hill"

There are a lot of hills, aka mountains, in this race but I really wanted to run this one section well since it has given me trouble in the past. This hill is part of the second big climb (there are three total) and you start with a long road. As with any trail race I've learned it is best to assume things just keep going up so I knew that there was a longer sustained trail uphill following the road. I was able to run almost the entire thing with a few brisk walking breaks for fuel and quad relief, but it was significantly better this time around. Additionally I was able to run the last climb just as strong making the final push after the unmanned aide station a success.

3. The Course

This really is a great course. It is also super hard, but for anyone who wants to challenge themselves with a tough run and follow it up with beer and music after you should do it. (Although for non meat eaters I wouldn't recommend the veggie patties. As is sometimes the case they get neglected for their meat counterparts and in this case ended up charred on the outside and froze on the inside. I did put together a good cheese/lettuce/tomato bun sandwich). While the elevation climb is a challenge,  there are plenty of long mellow uphills to allow you to actually run. The scenes of the park are breathtaking, from the sun rising over the reservoir as we start off in the morning to the birds eye view of nearly everything at the tops of climbs I cannot blame all the runners who added their cameras to their water packs. Seriously, if it wasn't such a fun course would I be smiling during the last climb:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Quad Rock 25 pre-race

Quad Rock!

This weekend is the Quad Rock 25/50 miler put on by Gnar Runners up in Fort Collins. Checking the weather is doing little to prepare for the race since it changes daily between a 40% chance of rain to a 0% chance of rain. I'm just really hoping I can wear shorts because I love the pockets in my shorts. I can fit a lot of gu in those pockets.

They've changed the course a bit because of the fire, but I anticipate the overall feel of the course will be pretty similar to last year; lots of climbing, lots of downhills, painful downhills at the end. When I ran the race last year I ended up running a good chunk of it with a girl from Fort Collins and it'd be nice to have some other friendly faces/running buddies again. It really kept me motivated during some of the wet/foggy/cold parts. I remember coming to one of the mid race aid stations and you could hear them cheering people on, but you couldn't see them because of the fog. It was a bit surreal, but it was neat to feel like disembodied voices cared about your running.

I tend to have moments of panic before a race and instead of focusing on all the good leading up to it. I remember the week I didn't get in enough runs, the times I didn't get on a trail and got on the road instead, and how my hamstring was tight all last week. It's not worth the worry now, I can't do much within the next 24 hours to change something from weeks ago. No that doesn't mean I'm not nervous for the race, but I am going to focus on what I can control - eating some good meals today, drinking lots of water, and trying to get to sleep tonight.

Going to sleep the night before a race is sort of like Christmas. Except in addition to the present of getting to run an awesome race, you're also a bit scared. I don't think I was ever scared about what my presents would be Christmas morning.

I'll work on a recap of the race next week but for now here are the facts/goals/details going into this race:

Training - Got in some good long trail runs (including a trail marathon and a good 23 mile run two weeks ago). I had a 150mile plus month last month so I feel good about the miles I've put in. Hills have really helped my strength so I'm looking to have some more energy going up those big hills.

Goals - Last year I ran it in about 6:30hrs so I'm trying to beat that time. My big goal would be to get close to 6hrs, but honestly in this race I'm just happy to finish in under 7! A micro goal is to run well on a section just after the aid station where all the drop bags are. There's a road you run up for a long time that switches to trail. I remember having a tough time once it got to the trail part so I'm going to shoot for some strong running in that section.

Weather - currently supposed to be mid 60's with a small chance of rain. Pretty ideal temps so I'm planning on running in shorts!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Running Makes you Do Crazy Things

I know a lot of people who would clarify that title and say that the running part is the crazy thing. So I ask that you agree with the premise that the running part is normal, but that the running part can sometimes take you into weirdness.

If you've gotten into the habit of running and signing up for races, you're probably already doing crazy things like going running in the snow, when it's -20 degrees, with 30 mph wind gusts. That stuff comes with the territory because you don't really get to take a lot of off days if you're trying to be consistent. You also do not get to pick what the race day forecast will be so it's helpful to be prepared and practiced for just about anything. The crazy things I'm taking about are things like the Beer Mile, or Running the Grand Canyon (rim to rim to rim), or running to your friends' bonfire instead of driving. The last of which I decided to do the other week.

As I've been progressing on my training I have been excited about the fact that I'm far enough in my training to have already run a marathon. I'm typically still building up to that distance by this time of the running season so I'm pumped that I've already crossed over that bridge (mountain?) already. Meaning I am already able to stretch my runs a bit longer during the week than I'm normally accustomed to. It is also great to have much more sunlight after work to run in. I've been able to put in some good 8ish mile runs during the week which is letting me ramp up my weekly mileages. A couple Thursday's ago my friend decided to have a bonfire at their house and I got this crazy idea that I would run there.

It's really not that crazy of an idea. It's actually really really smart. Jeremiah was going to be heading over early from his post work run so he was already going to be there and it's silly to have two cars there. I could run over, there would be food and beer waiting for me, and I could ride back home with Jeremiah. Perfect. I made the plan, double checked the mileage and gave my eta. Right now I can see you nodding your head in agreement that this plan was logical. All I had to do was run to my friend's house in Golden, 14 miles away. That is the sort of crazy part. Who runs to their friends' house 14 miles away, after work? I guess I do?

It only seems crazy if you haven't given much thought to using your feet as modes of transportation. I've always opted to walk over driving if at all possible. It's amazing how much ground you can cover, and you can cover even more if you are running. It can also be a tool to break up your training routine if you feel like you've gotten in to a rut. When Jeremiah and I trained for our first marathon we lived in Breckenridge. With the snow cover it made sense to do a lot of runs on the cleared walking/hiking paths through town. There was a path that went to Frisco (it actually goes all the way to Vail) which is about 9 miles away. One night we ran to Frisco and got dinner then took the bus back. We did our first "urban hiking" trip in Duluth, walking from my parents house to the Lakeshore and back (stopping a long the way for snacks and to dip our feet in the lake). Sure it takes longer, but you don't have to worry about parking and you see a lot of stuff you tend to miss in your car.

Running can really open up your world and all the money you save on gas can go to new running shoes and race entries.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Thoughts on Boston

I wanted to comment on what happened in Boston as soon as it happened, but I wasn't really sure what I wanted to write.I still struggle with what thoughts come to my mind and I am sure we all will as the whole story continues to unfold.

What happened was horrible. As my friends and I watched the incoming news coverage, tweets, rumors, speculations all we could keep saying and thinking is why would it happen at a marathon. But I realized that's  me saying it because it's an area and an event that I'm all to familiar with. It's no less horrible for kids to be shoot at school, at a movie theater, on the corner of their street in Chicago. It's no less horrible for a bomb to go off at the Olympics, a building in Oklahoma City, or Damascus. Violence is horrible, where ever it takes place and there doesn't need to be a good answer to the "why" question for us to feel pain, frustration, and anger. It's easy to imagine events happening to other people for reasons unknown to you because we are taught that if we do good we can avoid the unimaginable.

I felt an uncomfortable closeness to what was happened. I had friends running in the race and another friend cheering runners on. Thankfully they were all away from the finish line when it happened, but the thought of someone being that close was chilling. I still get goosebumps thinking about my own goals of qualifying for Boston some day and the image of the first blast going off and the time on the race clock, 4:09 which is close to my typical marathon time of 4:06.

What really impacted me was how it made me feel about the experience at the end of the race. Anyone who has run a race, whether it is a 5k or an 100 miler knows the feeling you have when you are truly on the homestretch. All the training, hydration, gu shots choked down can only get you so far. It's the crowd that somehow manages to make your legs run just a little faster, your feet feel just a little lighter. The pain you feel in that last stretch, even if you've been feeling it for the last 10 miles, can melt away when you hear people shouting. That last stretch in a race is truly magical and to think that for so many runners that last stretch was ruined, or they did not get to make it to that last stretch, because of selfish bombers who chose an event and an location based on people and media coverage really makes me sad.

I know all of us have made commitments, whether in public or personally, that this will only make us continue. We will continue to sign up for races, we will continue to run hill repeats in the cold darkness of Green Mountain, we will continue to stick around after crossing the finish line to cheer on fellow runners, we will continue to man aid stations and fuel runners with cheers and recharge. If there is one thing I know about this community it is that we've never let much get in our way to make a race successful - whether it be running, cheering, volunteering, or all of the above. That is why I'm proud to call myself a runner and proud to be part of this community.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Salida Run Through Time Race Recap

I did it, I finished my first trail marathon and I lived to tell the tale.

My goal going into this race was to get in under 6 hours. I had revised my previous goal of 5:30 due to potential weather complications and my lack of confidence in my training. The weather proved to live up to it's forecast. The morning started out dry, with a cloud hanging out towards Monarch Pass. Here's a picture of how things started out:

That guy looks like he's trying really hard to keep up with me doesn't he? It started to "sprinkle" snow as the race continued, but the real snow started once I hit the backside, about mile 10. The snow continued until about mile 18. Back on the front side of the mountain the weather cleared up a lot and it was pretty dry for the 2.5mile sprint back down the hill.

The course was about as I expected. It has about the same elevation change as the half marathon, but spread out over a longer distance. I actually think that the marathon was "easier" in terms of the layout than the half. The half has a lot of steep up and down while to me the marathon felt a lot more gradual. Everyone who had run the marathon before me warned me about "the road". Therefore when I got the road I was ready to take on the challenge. Especially since there was an aid station at the bottom with peanut butter m&m's. As I was filling my water bottle the volunteers asked if I needed anything and I grabbed handful of m&m's and stuck them in my pocket to "take on this hill". The road took FOORRREEEEVVVVEEER.

Literally it felt like it took forever. I think it took me about an hour or so to run it. But I am proud to say I ran it! I ran the whole thing. I was so excited that I was able to do it. There was about 2" of snow on the ground and it was pretty chilly. I was dressed for it, but nothing can really help snow pelting your face. There were some pretty intense rocky sections. For the most part I really enjoyed the course.

I had some knee issues during the race, probably at about mile 15 or 16. I experienced similar pain during one of my long runs. I was on the road so I thought it might be more related to pavement, but I definitely felt it during this race. I had to stop and stretch a few times and walk a little bit just because it hurt so much. It really got me pretty disappointed because I thought it was going to set me back a lot. I kept a mantra in my head during this "all you can do is keep going" so that's what I did. As I came into the last aide station, checked my watch and learned I had 2.5 miles left I knew I just needed to go. I am not sure what happened, but I was able to get in the "zone" and just go. I ended up finishing in 5:32:38.

Having had about a week to think about the race I've come away with some goals and ideas as I prepare for  my next race: Quad Rock. I'm excited that I finished this marathon almost an hour quicker than I ran Quad Rock last year. While Quad Rock is a tougher course, I was really psyched about my uphill work this marathon. The hill repeats have helped a lot with my overall uphill running ability and I think that will translate well into Quad Rock.  With daylight savings giving me more light in the evening, I am going to put in more mid week trail running. But really, but biggest goal is to get in a lot more long trail runs. I think it would mentally put me in a better space for both Quad Rock and War Eagle in June.

I was really excited about my ability to push past some pain and finish the marathon strong. Learning that I can keep going when I feel like I'm unable to is going to make a big difference in future races. I've done it before, but I was able to do it and get to a place where I felt strong again. I know that there are always times in races when you feel less than awesome, but it's a big deal to feel that and then feel strong and able to really kill it in the home stretch.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Salida Marathon - Pre Race

Here's my pre-race entry for the Salida Marathon.

Race Day Details:
Weather - Current high predicted to be 43, winds 10-15mph, 70% of precipitation (2" of snow accumulation possible)
Distance - duh 26.2 (give or take some since it's a trail race)
Elevation - 4750 gain/4750 descent
My goal time - under 6 hours.

Here's the deal, I think my original goal time was 5:30, but I'm revising a bit. I haven't been super confident about my training leading up to this race and the weather is also giving me some concern as far as performance. A lot of it will depend on snow/ice on the trail which tend to slow me down. I'll be happy to get under the 6hour mark for this race.

So for my benefit I'm going to put some things into perspective.

Things I cannot control for this race:
Weather, elevation gain/descent, distance, food available at aid stations, trail conditions, other runners.

Things I can control for this race:
What I wear, fluid/fuel, my attitude.

I can't change the weather, but I've run in crappy weather before. A couple weeks ago we had a pretty snow run at White ranch and I survived with a decent enough time. I can't change the layout of the course, I've got to travel 26.2 miles and I have to travel it in the way the race designates so all I can do is go forward. I can't tell them what food to have at aid stations, but they usually have something I'm willing if not eager to put in my mouth (like a pbr). If there's ice I still have to get past it and to save myself from a bruised butt I might have to walk. There's other runners on the trail and they don't matter because the only person who can finish this race for me is me.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't care what the weather was like. I really do wish it was going to be 65 and sunny without a speck of snow on the trail. I also really do wish I had gotten in more trail runs, longer trail runs, and just more runs in general. Because I know I didn't prepare in the way I would have liked I'm adjusting my expectations. I feel like the hill repeats will mean I can run some of the up hill sections stronger than I may have without hill repeats. I'd like to try and run as much as I can during the race. I know there will be some steep parts where walking will be a faster choice, but I'm going to do what I can to keep tiny footing my way up as many hills as I can. I am also looking to run the last 3 miles strong. The last 3 miles are switchbacks that go down the front side of the mountain (you run up them to start the race). I want to run those strong, even if my body is hurting.

I'm still conflicted about my wardrobe, but I'm sure I'll wear the same outfit I wear in weird/cold/wintery weather. My thicker Backcountry Magazine grey hat (I got it in a raffle), my old black running pants with ample pockets, some sort  of capilene t-shirt under my green/blue long sleeve smartwool shirt with thumb holes (or my purple patagonia with thumbholes if it is really cold.  In addition I'll have some thin liner gloves and my green lightweight jacket. I'm going to choose the warmest option, I doubt I'll have any reason to de-layer. Despite knowing this, I will admit I packed my shorts and capri tights just in case.

My attitude is really the biggest player in the race on Saturday. I am making a decision now that I am going to enjoy it as much as I can. I am going to wear smart clothing so I don't get too cold so the only thing I can focus on is just moving forward and enjoying the time it takes me to do it. I'm also bringing a boatload of Gu's (I have no idea how to pluralize a gu, because it would either be gus or gues....)

Stay tuned for the Post Race Recap next week!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dealing with Disappointments

Running can be a lot of really positive things, but sometimes you can get really disappointed. There are varying levels of disappointment; a bad training run, some missed days of running, or a bad race. A race day disappointment is usually the one the lingers the most. Why wouldn't it be? A day after a bad training run you're pretty much over it because you've moved on to the next training run. But a race is THE RACE that you were training for and the next day you've got nothing but sore muscles, a t-shirt, and a medal to keep you company. There might be another race, but it's just far enough away to make you question whether or not you can get a refund for your entry fee.

In thinking about why race disappointments weigh on us more than training disappointments I started to think about my mentality going into a race vs a training run. In the training run you are thinking about your work and approach towards a race. Your miles are little nuggets of goodness that you bank, and on the day of the race if you did your work, you have enough nuggets to get you through (and you work hard enough that you use all of them). So if you have a bad day running, those are still deposits into your race day bank account. Sometimes bad runs are even better, because it teaches you as a runner that you can push your body through something and finish. I know I've relied on that at the end of the race, reminding myself how bad I may have felt that one training day and I made it. So a bad day running is just that; a bad day running. You take a shower, you eat some food, you move on.

A race, on the other hand, seems like so much more than just a bad day running. A race is the totality of all your running and training up until that point. So it's not so much a disappointment in a run, it's a disappointment with the weight of months of training on your shoulder. It's not one disappointing run, it is disappointment of all your runs. You question what you did or did not do. Having a bad race hurts more because in our minds we make it a lot more than just about that race. You wonder, did you invest all your foundation nuggets into sub-prime mortgages? In short, it really sucks to think you didn't do all that you could do before a race and you question any missed runs, any runs cut short, or even wonder why you skipped some of the fun stuff to go running.

How do you deal with these disappointments? As runners, we obviously figure something out because we continue to sign up for races and run in the rain so the trick is using the disappointment to your advantage. There are two types of race day disappointments; those you feel after the race and those you feel during the race. I've been "lucky" enough to experience both, and both have translated into something positive here's how:

1. Disappointment at the end of a race...

Let me first say you sort of know when you're going to be bummed at the end of the race. Something in your brain or your body knows that when you finish you're not going to finish in the way you imagined. Last year I ran the Canyonlands Half Marathon. It runs along side the Colorado River through the Canyon into Moab. It is a beautiful race and fairly easy. It is on the road and mostly downhill with a section that cuts through town. It's a great race to get a PR and I think a lot of people go into the race with that mentality. I was super excited to run it well. I had finally broke 2hrs for a half marathon the spring before so I was focused on getting somewhere around 1:50. The weather was so/so, no rain or snow but a pretty heavy wind ripped up through the canyon so that was going to be a challenge. At some points it was so strong I had to literally hold on to my hat to keep it from falling off and disappearing behind me. I didn't feel super well as I got started, but after about 2 miles in I fell into a groove. I was sticking with my pace I needed, even a bit faster so I felt ok despite my body not really feeling awesome. I remember I kept going through waves of feeling fast and great to feeling slow and tired. The last one hit as I came out of the canyon onto the road and it stuck. I knew I was cutting it close pace wise, but it didn't really set in until I saw the clock at the finish line and it was already at 2 hours. I knew I didn't have enough of a "gun time" cushion to even get me under 2 hours so I crossed the finish line feeling really bummed out. At least they had some fun chips to snack on and I nursed some of the disappointment with beers and disc golf in the evening.

At first I blamed the typical offenders - the weather sucked, the wind was really strong and it meant I had to work harder to go forward, I felt crappy to begin with so it just "wasn't my day", and that stupid section along the highway is a pain in the butt. Those are all factors that played into how I did, but I started thinking more about my training. Yes I had a goal of under 2 hours (preferably near 1:50). Yes I ran leading up to the race so I had the miles in. But...on all my training runs I never really made an effort to train for 1:50. I just trained to run a half-marathon. Most runners know that after a certain point you have to switch your training from being "just finish the race" to a goal time. This requires more than just saying your going to run it in this amount of time, you actually need to incorporate that into your training runs. So really, I finished the race exactly how I had trained for it. In fact I probably did a little better than I should have considering I never really trained to run at the pace I did. End of the race disappointments are tough, but they put into prospective what you expected to happen at the end of the race. I know now if I want to hit that time I need to do some pace runs and train to run it that fast not hope I can pull out that fast of a run.

2. Disappointment during the race...

It's really hard to get disappointed during a race and even more so when you have a lot more ground to cover before you can finish. I haven't had to face this feeling at mile 1 of a marathon thankfully, but I have gone through it and I think it's made me a stronger runner, especially with trail runs. I have heard that some people will just quit a marathon if they are no longer on their Boston Qualifying pace. I have no problem with that, we all run for different reasons. I don't think I could ever be that person just because if I've come that far I'm going to finish the race because I at least want to eat as much of the snacks at the end as I can. There are also some races where you don't get your t-shirt unless you finish and I like to hoard t-shirts.

When I was running Grandma's Marathon last year I wanted to badly to break 4 hours. I had been trying to the last couple years only to shave a minute or two off my time. I had done several trail races and felt like I was pretty strong and could do it. I started out with the pacer and was sticking with him for most of the race. But I got to about mile 18 and things started to go downhill. My legs stopped working and I was finding it harder to catch up with the pacer after the water stations. I finally couldn't do it and I knew that I wasn't going to be able to keep the pace I needed to break 4 hours. I was bummed, and I let myself feel bummed for about 2 minutes and then I kept going. I passed a bunch of college kids cheering the runners on holding out beers in a feeble attempt to get us to take a swig and I thought "what the heck" so I ran over and downed a beer. Once I did that I decided to just have fun the rest of the race and not worry about it. I'd be lying if I said my legs didn't hurt the rest of the way but the 4 hour number didn't seem to bother me that much anymore. I still managed to finish with an identical time from the year before and while I didn't hit my mark I turned the rest of the race into having fun and it worked. Yes I still want to break 4 hours, but sometimes you just got to let it go and drink a free PBR.

My point for all of this rambling is, we all get disappointed at some point running. Whether you're just out there on a Saturday going for a run or you're doing a race. You can plan perfectly for a race and get slammed at the start line with snow/rain/wind/stomach cramps/you name it. Bad races can teach us what we need to do in our training (that we might not see unless we blow up during a race). Bad races can also remind us that it's not all about your fastest time or breaking your PR it's about enjoying yourself for the 1/2/3/4....9 hours you're out running and you don't have to be anyone but you running. You don't have to make copies or fold your laundry. You don't even have to pick up after yourself (unless you're on the trail dude, leave no trace!). It's rare in life that we get that much undisturbed time to be within our selves and only for ourselves and if someone gives you beer along the way; bonus.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Race Update

In my rant against Google and their silly decision to have no way to recover draft emails I mentioned writing an update on upcoming races and mileage. So here it is.

My Mileage has been so/so. I started a new job in December and that threw my running for a bit of a loop. I took for granted the leisurely runs I was able to take anytime I wanted to during the day. But I'm proud to say I've stuck with Hill Repeats and have kept up enough of a running schedule to feel like I'm not too far behind in the marathon training. Which brings me to races:

I wasn't able to do the snow shoe race in January. It ended up being the same weekend as a hut trip. Here's a picture:

It's probably for the better since I had never done a snow shoe race and I was able to instead get out on my new skis. My new skis which are totally awesome and I love them and can't wait to ski on them more.

I made the decision not to do the Moab Half-Marathon nor Grandma's Marathon this year. The Moab race just ended up conflicting with the Salida race and in choosing between the two I wanted to focus on the Salida Marathon as opposed to a road half-marathon. Which is good considering the additional races I've committed myself to.  It was harder to not do Grandma's Marathon. It's such a special race to me for many reasons. But I know I'll be back so I'm not too bummed. I was planning on doing it if my sister had signed up, but we picked a different race instead. Again timing was a big factor. Jeremiah is running a 100 miler at the end of June and we're traveling to Virginia in July for his brother's wedding so a fall trip to Minnesota will be easier to coordinate provided I can fit it into the ultimate season...

Here is why my race outlook for this spring looks like:

Salida Run Through Time Marathon
Distance: 26.2miles
Date: March 9th, 2013
Goal Time: 5:30hours

I'm excited and nervous for this race. I haven't gotten in as much trail running as I would have liked for this race. But I have improved my uphill running via Hill Repeats so that's a good thing. I've gotten in one good 15ish mile trail run and I'm planning on getting in at least 2 more long runs between 15 and 20 miles which will be tough cause they will need to happen in the next two weekends. (news alert, I did get an 18mile road run in this past weekend so that made me feel a lot better!). My goal time may be a little ambitious considering my training, but I'll see how my next two long runs go and may need to adjust. I do think I can do it. My last two half marathon times for this course were in the 2:30hr range so giving myself an additional 30min buffer should be ok. The Quad Rock 25miler took me 6:30hrs last year, but it's a considerably tougher race. I think 5:30 is a good goal, but as long as I can get under 6 I will be happy.

Quad Rock 25miler
Distance: 25miles
Date: May 11th
Goal Time: 6:15hrs

I think this will be a really good race for me this year. Knowing the course now I can anticipate when I can run and when I need to walk. I remember there were some steep sections and it helps to know it and know roughly how long they are so I can feel comfortable walking. I just really like this race and had a blast last year. They had a local brewery at the finish and a bonfire so I am looking forward to hanging out to cheer Jeremiah on as he comes in for the 50 miler. The course will have a different look since they dealt with some pretty gnarly forest fires in the park last summer.

War Eagle Races 50K
Distance: 50K (31.25miles)
Date: June 2
Goal Time: 6:30hrs

So this is my "big race" of the season. A 50k which marks my first toe dip into the ultra running circuit. I know this because when I registered I got an offer to subscribe to ultra running. I'm actually really excited about this race. It was either this one or a 50k in Gunnison and because my sister decided to sign up for the 25k I signed up for the 50k. It's in Arkansas so I have the whole altitude "blood doping" thing to my advantage, but I'm still nervous. That's 5 miles longer than I've ever ran before and at the end of a marathon I could hardly think of running another 5 miles. It's hard enough walking the half a mile to my parents car parked at the Methodist Church. But I've already put the feelers out to people who have done some of these runs to figure out my training and my food intake for the race. Despite what my friend Ryan does, I think I'm going to not opt for the "all gu" nutrition and eat the shit out of some gummi bears and pretzels at the aid stations. I have an ambitious goal time. After the Salida race I may tweak it a bit. But really, my only comparison race is the Quad Rock and Jeremiah keeps saying that one is way harder than [fill in the blank with any race you can think of] so I think this is an ok time to shoot for. I have a while to train and I will have already bagged to long trail run/races before hand at altitude so really...what's 5 more miles between friends?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Running On Vacation: or a devil, another devil, and a demi-god

Running on vacation is hard. Basically anytime you get out of the rhythm of your "normal routine" it is hard to get back. For anyone who struggles with staying on a schedule of regular running, vacation is guaranteed to throw you for a loop. Basically there are three ways to look at running on vacation:
  1. The devil on your shoulder
  2. The other devil on your shoulder
  3. A demi-god (or demon, or idol, or joe bag o'donuts)
The first devil on your shoulder is the one that makes you feel bad for not running while you are on vacation. Of course you don't want to run while on vacation because it is much more fun to sleep in, roll out of bed and drink coffee in your pjs and hang out with your vacation friends/family/or no one. Maybe you'll go shopping, maybe site-seeing, maybe it's been an hour since you last ate so you go eat more. Basically vacations have their own timelines so it is hard to go against that timeline because sometimes you just "go where the wind takes you". You also don't want to be the buzz kill that ruins the vacation schedule because you are going out running. Sorry everyone, that trip to see the brewery sounds fun, but can you all wait 2 hours I have to go running. The devil on your shoulder says things like "you better go running, your family will be around when you get back", and "wow second breakfast, you better run that off later".  If you listen to it you probably miss out on something everyone is doing, or you pass on that 3rd game of wii bowling and a 4th Bells IPA the night before because you have to run 15 miles the next day. But that devil reminds you as you strap on your shoes while everyone else is going to wander around Main Street "go on that run because if you don't you'll feel it at mile 22 in  your next marathon".

The second devil doesn't give a shit if you run, in fact it encourages you not to run. It also wants to roll out of bed and watch that cable TV you don't get at home, those donuts that just appear on the counter from your dad, the craft beers only available in the Central Time Zone. You shouldn't run because you might miss something really really fun. Impromptu air rifle shooting in the backyard, a trip to Town to get food, a visit to some iconic place/statute/brewery. It reminds you that you can afford to miss a couple days of running so you should just live large and really embrace vacation. This devil says things like "why run when you can drink some Growler Beer and play yatzee" and "you spent all this money and time to visit your family/friends/place why do you want to spend it running?". If you listen to it you will probably  have a lot of fun, and maybe a hangover. You will also have a hard time getting back in your groove when you get back home. When you have the small inclination to lace up your shoes that devil reminds you "don't go on that run, if you do you might feel better at mile 22, but what will you miss in the process?"

The demi-god/demon/idol/Joe Bags isn't powerful enough to sit on your shoulder like a devil or an angel. Joe Bags just sort of hangs out and throws out other options. Of course you don't want to spend your whole vacation running, but you also don't want to come back and realize you forgot how to tie your shoe laces. Old Joe Bags says "hey your nephews are taking a nap you could squeeze in some hill work", or "your sister wants to go on a run so you could do that with her". Joe Bags doesn't care how many miles you run, just fit it into when you have time and it works with what's going on around you. Joe Bags never gives you a disapproving look if you have another beer, but he does laugh a little when you slog through a short run the next day because of it. Don't mistake Joe Bags for a softy, if there is a time and a place to fit the run into your vacation he'll remind you of it. But he won't try and manufacture time if it's not there. He'll be there at mile 22 in your next marathon helping you forget the pain in your legs saying "Remember when you visited such and such place, how much fun it was?"

You can really choose which one you listen to. A lot of it depends on what you are trying to get out of running. If you are sponsored by Newton and you're trying to win part of the purse in the next race then you might error on the side of Devil 1. If you still have a long couple months of training to go before your race you might error on the side of Devil 2. But a lot of us run because we like running. We sign up for races because it helps us keep running on days we don't feel like it, we love new shirts, we love to visit new places, or we love hearing 100's of watches beep simultaneously at each mile. Running and training can feel like a job sometimes, so it's not a bad thing to take a vacation from running or just a vacation from a strict schedule. I remember taking a trip to Arkansas before my first marathon for my nephews baptism. The trip fell the weekend the training plan scheduled the long run, the 18 miler. There really was no opting out of that, if you've ever run a marathon you know how important it is to knock out those long runs, especially at the end of your training. But the heat of Arkansas in the summer required the run to start early and it also got me out of having to do picnic party prep. Alternatively, I just went to visit Arkansas again at Christmas and didn't stress out about staying with my running schedule. I was still able to run a couple days and didn't feel like a total dud when I got home. The miles sort of felt like "bonus" miles that I didn't have to do, but got to do.

Missing a couple runs will not ruin your race, nor will a couple of days a marathon champ make. It's your whole training schedule and the totality of the runs you've done. No don't be a total slog and do nothing for 2 weeks just because your on vacation. But you can make your running part of your vacation and if you can you should.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What could have been...

I couldn't wait to finally start adding new posts after such a long hiatus. I started several new posts and in my undying devotion to google figured saving them as a draft email would be the best way to keep them safe and at the ready when I wanted to do a new post. Simply copy, paste, edit and BAM amazing post. Unfortunately...just before I decided to do that I thought I should delete another email draft that was no longer necessary. In my lack of focus I deleted the draft that contained everything I had written...If you want I could just post the now unnecessary carpooling email I drafted and no longer need to send, it mentions Thules and leaving work at 5.

Searching google (on how to fix something I messed up in google) only turned up that once you delete a draft it is gone forever. PEOPLE, THIS IS THE ONLY TIME IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD THAT IF YOU DELETE SOMETHING ON THE INTERNET IT IS ACTUALLY GONE FOREVER. Not like gone from this thing, but saved somewhere else. Not like "I made this picture on facebook private" but it still makes it way into every nook and cranny of the internet. Not I put my number on the do not call list and still get solicitations via phone. GONE FOREVER. I had some great stuff missed titles like: "Dressed for Success", "Disappointments", "Running on Vacation", and "Hill Repeats".

Here's the thing, stuff in my head is rarely GONE FOREVER so it will all come back. Probably in more coherent, grammatically correct sentences, but losing all that native, unhinged creative juice is a little heart breaking so I need a second to recover.

I've got my work cut out for me. I still need to add all my mileage in from 2012 and what's happened so far in 2013. The Colorado General Assembly started their new session and I have lots of opinions on what's happening with that. There's also skiing and some races I've signed up for and am thinking of signing up for. So I promise you I will get back in the saddle and rewrite my pure genius that Google lost (GONE FOREVER!?). So for the rest of you, keep this in mind next time you "save" something in gmail drafts...when it's gone it is GONE FOREVER!