LooseCrew-JeffO: October 2006


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Canyons and Moab

Sunday morning between Canyonlands and Arches -
The La Sal mountains from where Paul Grimm and I slept.

Our 2nd night under the stars was like the 1st - clear sky and tons of falling stars.

Paul went for another dark morning run while I soaked up the views.

My legs were definitely stiff, but I still forced myself to trot along part of the way around the rim trail at the state park.

After we were done sightseeing at the park, I took Pucker Road (aptly named) down into the canyon.

Believe it or not, I'd never been to Moab, Canyonlands, or Arches.
We stopped in Moab, but we didn't have time for the National Parks.
That'll have to be another time... with my mtn bike.

Monday, October 30, 2006

More Goblin...

Paul wasn't racing because he has Javelina Jundred next weekend. He got up early and went for a run in the dark. Later, he manned aid station #1 all by himself.
The weather was almost identical to last year. Last year there was an 8 foot deep flash flood in the canyon the night before the race. This year, there was the same amount of rain, but it fell two days before and it was spread out over 24 hours instead of a couple. The Race started about 8 mintues late. I intended to stick to a 9:40/mile pace, but my GPS watch started pacing before 8am. That threw off the "average pace" function. I just ran as fast as felt comfortable and held it steady.
After two miles, I could feel the lactic in my thighs already. I knew this was gonna hurt.
After the first mile, no one passed me until about mile 14, but I passed another guy, so I held my place.
I was getting confused because last year the leaders passed me on the return when I was around 11 miles out. At mile 14, I still hadn't seen the leaders. But soon after, they came.
Eric Binder, who won last year, seemed pleased to see me doing so well. (He shaved 3 minutes off last years winning time, but still came in 2nd place, seconds behind the leader.)

At mile 17, I got my hopes up. I passed six people in the next 3 miles. It was a bonk-fest! All I had to do was keep eating and drinking
(and not throw up!) and not slow down.
I neglected to take photos down in the canyon. They wouldn't have been scenic, but just one photo would've shown the conditions well. There was lots of water, wet sand, wet gravel, some mud, but none of it stuck. It had to slow us down some, but it didn't have too much impact.
The aid stations were great. Water and Hammer Heed, pretzels, potato chips, Clif bars, candy, bananas, oranges, electrolyte tabs, Clif gummies, and more.

Last year, it was between miles 22 and 24 that my right ankle swelled and turned purple. Not this year.
However, I've always been able to tell when mile 17 comes along because that's when I feel my best; endorphin overdose. Not this time. By mile 20 I was nagging my body, 'okay, where's the dope? where's those endophins?', but it wasn't listening.
Was I bonking? My legs hurt. 'Yeah, but they're still working.' My watch said I was holding my pace. But my form was beginning to suffer - my hips weren't moving like they should.

One of the first things to go when your form fails, is you lose that little push at the end of each stride. So I started concentrating on that little push. If I could just keep that, then everything else would stay in check.

Then my hopes rose again - at mile 26, I saw the guy who passed me at mile 14 up ahead. I was gaining on him. At the last aid station, he saw me. From then on, he was determined not to let me close the gap.
But I did close the gap. It wasn't enough, though. He held me off.

When I crossed the finish, they told me I was 12th - which floored me. Couldn't be true! It wasn't. There was one tag mix-up, plus they meant 12th male. Overall, I was 13th male - 16th overall, out of less than 90 racers.
Still, the best race performance of my life.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Goblin Valley 50K Ultra!

It was awesome!

Paul Grimm and I left Denver at 10am and drove straight through.

We stopped at the Green River Coffee House for the pasta-feed and to pick up our packets.
Anita Fromm had a feast! The best was the cold pasta with fetta, tomato, cilantro, red onions, etc. This stuff was addictive.

Paul and I headed out and camped under the stars out on the caprock of the San Rafael Swell. I saw so many falling stars I lost count. I saw as many as 3 in one minute.

The weather was perfect, and about 32 degrees before sunup.

to be continued...

Thursday, October 26, 2006


My favorite Ultimate Direction hand-held bottle got ruined last weekend when it froze during my night camping near Leadville. Now I have Goblin Valley 50K Saturday and no bottle. Guess I'll have to fall back on my Camelbak.

At Goblin, I'm looking to break 5 hours. That's going to take some persistent hard work. I might not be capable. Realistically, I'd say 5h40m. But who wants to be realistic on the season's last big trail race? I want to GO for it! Don't be surprised if I have tragic news afterwards of bonkin'-n-hurlin'.

Last year, I came up lame when my Montrails rubbed my ankle wrong. By mile 21, I could barely walk. My ankle was purple and swollen. 6h3m - I was em-bare-ASSed!
So even if I don't do well, I surely ought to blow away last year's time, right?


Early Winter

I don't remember an earlier Winter. The storms just keep coming. So I guess we skipped Fall all together.
Today is a very wet snow, and it was coming down extremely hard. It was almost like getting pummeled with tiny snowballs, it was so heavy. But it's not very cold, so the roads ought to melt off in time for my drive to Goblin Valley, Utah, tomorrow. I've had my winter tires on for a month now.
It's beautiful out there.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Deep Freeze

I spent this weekend above Leadville camping in the snow.

Next morning, when I got back to my car, after the sun had been up for an hour, the temp inside my car was 15F. So that means the temps last night were probably single-digit.
It was partly cloudy all night.
Only an inch of snow dropped since sunset. I camped between two frozen ponds near treeline.

It was what my soul needed. I read Meditations from the Mat, looked at the stars, listened to the jets, er, I mean the wind!

Only two deer, a fox, and some rabbits stirred in my area. I drank Chamomille tea and ate jerky and pretzels for dinner - real gormet fare, oui?

The snow was so fluffy, no need for snowshoes. I love plowing through powder. Great weather, great night, great weekend.

Made reservations in Leadville for a two-bed room for August 17-20, 2007. It's not close to the start/finish, but the price is great. The owners are Lead-men, meaning they've done the LT100 bike and run back-to-back, but they did one better and won both belt buckles! There are 10 finishers in their co-op giving training runs to counter the LT100 Bootcamp. They seem miffed at inadequacies in the Bootcamp, so their camps are to counter what they see wrong with the Bootcamp. I might give them a try.

Live smart. See the forest and the trees.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Feeling my bones

At my desk at work.

You know you're alive when you feel your bones.
My lower back hurts after trail runs. The end-of-season won't come too soon.
I think the back pain is from back in early July when my right foot started hurting. Sharp pain right behind the ball of the foot. I ended up walking back on my heel. I'm used to walking and running on my toes, so walking on my heels didn't allow the usual shock absorption. My back got hurt from that, but it healed. I guess it wasn't healed all the way. Pikes Peak Marathon undid it.
When the endorphins are flowing, I don't feel it, but when I stop, it hurts bad for about 20 minutes.
I still have 60 miles to race this season. 50K coming up in a week.
Goblin Valley ought to be fun. Carpooling with a friend.

Trail running requires maximum twist in the torso. It also requires maximum cam-action rotation of the hips. By the time you're done twisting and rotating, there's not supposed to be much left for your legs to do. That's how you last forever. You trail-run with your entire body.
I need a one month rest. That's going to be hard. I always want to run through the woods. I dream of it when I'm asleep and I dream of it when I'm awake.

This weekend, I need to dig a hole in the snow, set up my tent, read my Meditations from the Mat, and stare at the wind.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

More snow!

First decent snow storm of the season.
Here I am at Washington Park after the run.

Only about 8 of us braved the snow, through puddles of water and slush and lots of mud, in the dark, with snow sticking to my glasses and freezing to my fleece vest.

What fun!

Other subject:
I've been wondering recently if my efforts will pay off with regards to my son. I want to show him that "impossible" is nearly always a frame of mind. When you consider not only running 100 miles, but doing so at the Hard Rock 100 at altitudes that exceed 14,000 feet, that seems impossible. If I show him it can be done, and he watches me along the way, then I hope it sinks in that you can achieve what you set your mind to.

However, he already seems to think I'm not a regular human, so maybe my running of Leadville and HardRock won't be the lesson I hope for.

He knows I climb in blizzards and that I'm comfortable in some of the harshest environments. I took him camping in the snow last year. He got to finally see me "in my element". He was almost freaked-out by camping in the woods in winter, but we were about 1/8 mile from the 4x4 CR-V, and the CR-V was stocked with jumper battery, two jacks, tow straps, come-along winch, and extra hand-warmers and survival gear. We were even within cell phone range! I dug in and built walls around the tent so the wind couldn't get to us and the walls reflected our heat back onto us. We were snug as bugs in a rug.
That night, it snowed an additional 8" and there was no wind. By morning, the trees were as totally loaded with snow as they could be. It was beautiful and enchanting.
To my son, it was just a bunch of snow, and he was wondering when he could get home to mom. He wasn't cold - I saw to that. But he had this frame of mind that kept trying to convince him that he OUGHT to be cold!
While I made breakfast, a slight breeze stirred the tops of the trees. That did it. It set in motion a chain reaction through the entire forest where the snow in the tops dropped to the branches below, which kept upsetting the snow below... The woods errupted in an amazing cascade of powder! It was awesome! And I was yelling like I usually do, "Yeah! Look at THIS!" Only this time there was someone to hear my antics. My son gave me a quizical look, like he was seeing me for the first time. Like the difference between seeing an animal in the zoo its whole life, and then taking it to its natural environment and seeing it there.

Through my life, I've seen amazing people do amazing things, but it didn't inspire me because they were not regular humans. They were gods or freaks, but I bleed, so it meant nothing to me.

I just hope this is all relevant and worthwhile, and that I'm doing something more than entertaining my son.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Silent Trails

This photo is actually from last year. I didn't take any photos this time.

Silent Trails Memorial 10-mile Run in Wyoming was fun, as usual.
I carpooled with a friend. A generous aquaintance that I met once at the Collegiate Peaks race last May had offered me a place to stay. So we camped-out on his floor.
Race day was 29 degrees in Laramie. We drove up to the Lincoln Highway/ Happy Jack exit in perfect weather.
They set a new record for number of entrants. There were about 120 runners this year.
I only managed to take off approximately two minutes from last year, but at least it's better.
Last year, I was stuck behind several slower runners during the first miles. So this year I put forth extra effort to get ahead. It paid off, but it would seem that I ran the entire race at the same speed as last year. The two minute PR was probably due entirely to my starting strategy. Bummer. That means my training hasn't been right - at least for short races.

Lactic Threshold

After my Durango Double, there was no muscle soreness. I thought for sure that after 57 miles, much of it on rugged and muddy terrain, that I would be crippled and sore, but to my surprise, there was only some minor ligament soreness that healed with my usual easy training runs around Wash. Park and the Denver Trail Runners Thursday run.
A friend pointed out that this is because I never crossed my lactic threshold. Duh! It never dawned on me.
For those who don't know, when you operate beyond your lactate threshold, lactic acid builds up in your muscle tissue. High concentrations of lactic acid end up crystalizing. This take several days for your body to clean out and is part of the usual recovery process.
You can speed this process up by getting massage (gets expensive but feels great), and/or by icing your legs.
Icing causes your muscles to contract hard (like wringing out a wet towel). This squeezes out the acid. Folow with hot/cold/hot/cold therapy and you'll replace stagnant, acidic fluids with new hi-nutrient fluids. If done right, your recovery period is a day, with no pain.
So now I'm really psych'd. If I have the right pace, I can definitely do a hundred.
Much of this ultra-running seems impossibly difficult, but actually, if you know all the tricks, nearly anyone can do it. Train smart; race smart. Brute-force isn't smart. If you're using brute-force, your training has failed.

I had thought that maybe I'd be better off running Leadville with a few long rests. Afterall, I ran the Leadville Marathon in 5:22. That pace is 12+ minutes per mile. If I ran the 100 at that pace, I'd finish in 20 hours, 30 minutes. That'd give me 9 hours and 30 minutes of extra time. So what if I took a couple of naps?

But I think that's wrong. You mustn't stop for too long, unless you're wrecked and have no other choice. A steady pace below lactic threshold is best.

This is also good for getting into "auto-pilot". In the later parts of the race, if I've been travelling at the same run/walk/run/walk pace for 20+ hours, and my mind is starting to wig-out on me, maybe I can just kick into auto-pilot and zone-out - just follow the cyalume glow-sticks through the night. Same pace, feeling nothing, just go. If I take long breaks, it could reset the rhythm and mess that up.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Durango Double Marathon

Here's another one from the 50K.

The Marathon was re-routed because of traffic control issues. So we ran it on a concrete path along the river. Totally different race than the 50K. Of course, the 50K was more fun, but don't think for an instant that the marathon was a dud. There were aid stations so frequent that I swear it averaged about one every mile. I ate and drank so much I probably gained weight during the race.

The people both days were amazing! So friendly, so out-going. I wish I could remember everyone's names. I'll see many of them again, so maybe I'll get another chance.

A ton of thanks has to go to Anita. Her vast experience and her fantastic company were a godsend.
Once when we were coming to a hill, I said, "I'm just going to creep up this." She responded, "No you're not! Come on! Let's power up!" And we did. We didn't run all of each race together (Anita had the Heartland 100 coming up), but even when she wasn't with me, I heard her voice pushing me up each hill.
She invited me to pace her at Badwater, so maybe I can return the favors.

From the time the 50K started to the time I finished the marathon, about 29 hours passed. Of that 29 hours, I ran more than a third of it!
Leadville allows 30 hours to complete 100. I feel so ready.

Durango Double 50K

It rained on us all the way down from Denver. The forecast said it would rain through the weekend. I was ready to run in it. I'd prefer clear weather, but I'll run in anything!

Tim & Anita Fromm with Pam Reed. Pam holds the women's record at Badwater (135 miles) and wrote a book.

We lucked out - we only had some mud to contend with on the Telegraph 50K...

Me, sliding down.

Tim and Anita Fromm enjoying the mudfest.

Anita mudslinging.

Anita negotiating one of the few downed trees along the trail.

See what kind of views we had to tolerate?

One of the many telegraph poles and wires that gave the trail its name.

At the beginnig and end of the 50K, we ran along the Animas River's shore. Because of the torrential rains, we had to tiptoe through a couple inches of water. During the race, the water rose over a foot! It was up to our knees on the return. I was laughing and splashing through and told a kayaker several feet away that I was kayaking too! He must've thought we were loco!
It was a fantastic way to end the 50K. It's the kind of thing that trail running is all about! I sorely wish I'd remembered to take a photo, but after 30 miles and one more mile to go, I wasn't 100%.

Friends Talon Windwalker ran the 25K and Dave Black ran the 50K.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Check out this SWAG!

The Durango Double was maybe the best time I've ever had.
Two days, two races, over 57 miles of running, lots of beer, tons of great people,... What more could you want?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Just add water

Me and my mistress sharing an intimate moment

The biggest difference between my brothers and I and most other people is, most other people crave physical comfort.
Years ago, someone was asking me about why I hike and climb mountains in winter. They were getting rather upset. Seems strange to get upset with me - not like I'm forcing THEM to do it. To each their own, right? But NO! They were definitely upset, pissed, confused. Turns out the biggest problem they seemed to have is that I obviously was experiencing physical discomfort, which made them just about bust a VEIN! Why would anyone willingly do ANYTHING that they knew beforehand would lead to physical discomforts?!?!?!?! That's insane!
Wow! I never thought of anything in life like that. Life is full of unavoidable discomforts. So why waist so much energy on trying to avoid the unavoidable? Let's say you could avoid discomfort - would life be worth living? Some people think so. In fact, many people believe the definition of bliss is the simple absence of physical discomfort.
I call these people comfort-junkies.

There are times when I wasn't in great shape. I've never been in horrible shape, but I haven't always been in good shape. When I was a teen, I used to smoke and do drugs. There have been times when I lived in Kansas and it was too hot and the terrain too flat to lure me out. When I changed careers, I had a million excuses why I couldn't - not enough time, not enough money, I was making adequate money already, even if my job was hazardous and not stable. So to cast excuses aside I had to give up some things, like exercise, some sleep, a social life, etc. I got out of shape for years. I felt really bad! The poisons build up in your body, especially your skin. Simply walking is somewhat uncomfortable. So avoiding discomfort to the extent that it leads to poor physical conditioning actually causes discomfort.
Hey, at least the discomforts I experience are fleeting! When you're in horrible condition, you can't escape it!

Comfort-junkies don't know what an endorphin high feels like. They don't know how exhilarating grand vistas are during runs, hikes, climbs, etc. They live life by fear of discomfort, so they limit their life-experiences to almost nothing. Then, so they don't feel wrong, they condemn anyone who doesn't live according to the same fear-of-discomforts. They use anything to back themselves up. If they're religious, they try to make others sound like evil heretics. If they're environmentalists, they try to make it sound like we're destroying the Earth with our activities. Whatever.
To each their own. Just wondering why they attack me. And some of them feel so very strongly that they get real ANGRY at me for climbing year-round, hiking, running long distances (often),...
It's part of a "culture of can't". (Man, I'm full of slogans today.)
So much life-force put into resisting life.
About the only thing I resist is things that fetter my freedom. I want to always be able to throw some water into my car and head out. My car is nearly always stocked with gear. Just add fresh water and GO!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Rollins Pass

I cheered-on my friend Paul Grimm at Frisco and met others I haven't seen for awhile.
I also finally met my friend Talon's new adopted son Chris. My son got to meet them, too.

Sunday was spent on the road to Rollins Pass. Some day I hope to have my own 50K race up there. There's tons of problems to solve. It'll take me years to put it all together.

If I ever succeed, it'll be an incredible historical romp through time with awesome views.