LooseCrew-JeffO: January 2007


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

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Bullshit Factor

Most people are full of shit, to some degree. It's part of being human. It's not necessarily even a bad thing, as long as it's limited. It can even add to the entertaining and enjoyable quality of a personality - as long as your bullshit isn't out of control.
Bullshit is even a commodity. It can drive an industry. Marketing is nearly all bullshit. Chutspa, shpeal, hype, etc. Sell yourself: get the job, get new friends, get laid, ...
The fear is that we can get blinded by our own bullshit. Then we never realize we're out of control and about to crash-and-burn.

My season was a success. I ran 9 official races between 22.5 and 31 miles, plus 3 unofficial marathons, plus 3 half-marathons, and some little 6-10 mile races. [edited] The whole time, my speed and endurance both increased. I shrug my shoulders at 31 miles. The only concern is how fast I can run, not whether or not I can finish. But my season ended with a broken foot.
Seems my entire life is like that. I "go for it".

How strong is a stick? Gradually apply force until it breaks. Now you know.
If the stick doesn't break, you'll never know exactly how much force it can take. But if you apply sudden force, it will break under less force. The trick is to apply force so carefully that you can hear it start to crack. It is wise to be satisfied with knowing that you're very close to the breaking point, and not get greedy about knowing exactly how strong the stick is. This way the stick isn't destroyed.

Life, goals, relationships can be that way.

Friends & Success

Here I am at my favorite coffee shop, Kaladi's.

In recent days, I've been thinking a lot about friends and purpose or motive. I want the product of my life to be good. There are sometimes things I try which fail. When you fail at something that doesn't involve other people's input, like working on computers, or solo mountain climbing, then you have total control over improvements to your methods; you can re-steer and change the outcome. It's total control.

When I met my sometimes-climbing-partner, Phil, I was on a solo climb of Wilson Peak in late-spring snow. Phil's party camped nearby, at the low camp. My high camp was completely above treeline at the northwest base below Rock of Ages Pass. The next day, I woke up at about 3am and was cramponing up the frozen snow in the dark. By the time I descended, Phil's party was just then reaching my camp.
They didn't summit. The more people you have involved, the least likely you are to succeed. Climbing parties move at the pace of the least common denominator. That's why many parties split in two for the final summit push. Phil's party even did that, but too late and the summit party never made it.

Relationships are like that. It takes two to tango. If one person refuses to participate, it's not going to work - no matter how much the other tries.
Or maybe they each participate, but one demands more involvement than the other is willing to give.
Hopefully, when one level of relationship fails, they can ratchet-down to the next level below and keep cruising. The healthiest people can do this, but sometimes there's hard feelings that cause total severance. What a shame. That's why so many fear "going to the next level".

My dream is to inspire people to be more than they are. Some dream of wealth or power, some dream of romance and security. I dream of inspiring others to be the most that they can be.
My relationships tend to be shallow and fleeting. This is partly because I'm trying to "touch" as many people as possible. I hope to gain as much as I give.
I don't want people to "be like me". I don't think I'm great, so I'm not worthy of being emulated. But I do think I can show people that their "limits" are nearly always self-imposed, psychological phenomenon. The weakest among us are actually very powerful, but they don't or won't realize this fact.
Doing amazing things doesn't mean you're totally amazing. It can mean you're a normal person who does extraordinary things. Normal people can fail, and end up doing total shit. And they can succeed and do amazing things.
Whether we succeed or fail, it becomes history. We shouldn't get stuck in the past. What you did yesterday was yesterday. This is now. So failure can't hold you back, and success doesn't absolve you from trying to be amazing each new day.

Friday, January 26, 2007

LT100 confirmed

My confirmation for LT100 came in. It's a done deal.

My foot feels weird. It often doesn't hurt at all, and then it feels like it's about to break again. It's real hard to figure out what the status is. The x-ray looked good. The halo around the break is solid bone, but define "solid". You can't see through it, but is it rigid, or somewhat pliable? It feels like is not so solid.

Been relying on my heals like I haven't ever before. I hope that doesn't end up hurting my back. I ran Tuesday, but Thursday didn't feel right. Neither does today. Maybe I'll get some exercise in this weekend.

Or not. Got my new computer (totally in peices). I need to assemble it. I'll probably mod the case. I'm thinking I'll paint it gloss dark red with some matte-red flames. I'll call my new computer Diablo. I hope that doesn't make it run too hot - I have lots of fans.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Green Light

Dr. Atkins said I'm healed.
I just have to build up slowly and rest in-between.

The Moab Red Hot 50K is 3 1/2 weeks away. It doesn't seem likely I'll be ready. if i do it, I won't be "racing" it! I'll find some slow, amicable, straggling soul to hang with and throttle me back. Then I'll enjoy my return to racing.
(Man, they better have some good swag.)
One of the problems that led to the injury is my habit of running entire races, no matter how far, on my toes. Running on your toes means your knees, hips, and back are far less likely to injure. Also, your quads take less of a beating, so you recover MUCH quicker. I never missed the Tuesday run after a weekend marathon or 50k. While this is all great for the entire body above your toes, it means your metatarsals take it all.
I had an annoying tweak on the left side of my right foot. I rolled slightly to the right to alleviate. That ruined the equalibrium and put too much stress on the middle toe. After four months of running like that, the accumulated stress crumbled the bone.
With only 2.5 miles left in my season, if I had only drunk my NutraJoint once a week during those four months, that alone would've gotten me through the season.
So close. So frustrating.
But I'm running now. Not as a bandit, but with the approval of my podiatrist.
It's like running the Salida marathon - so long, so rugged, through the woods and hills, never seeing Salida, never having any indication how much further. Then finally, that glimpse, and you know everything that lies between you and the finish. Only what I'm seeing now is Leadville is going to be a reality. There's some tough, careful training (each race before is just training) that needs to happen, and my fracture can still disintegrate, but I can do this. I've been fucked-up enough to know what I need to do.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Frosty's Frozen Five

The name of the race says it all. It was snowing hard the entire morning, but these aren't normal people. You gotta have some screws loose to show up in blowing snow for late race-day registration, but that's what happened. Several dozen people signed up! I love Colorado!
Here's Darrin Eisman setting up the finish line. He does JDEvents timing. Darrin also does the Mount Evans Ascent. The highest race in America.
There was snow all over the tables.
The race was at Chatfield Resevoir and was put on by JDEvents (Jessica and Derek Griffiths). Jessica is the editor of Colorado Runner and Derek is the mascot. No, wait, actually he's the photographer! (I remember now.)
Best trail running mag there is. Unbelieveable how good a job they do with just two people working on it. It's better than most national publications.

All I did was volunteer.

Last year, Paul Grimm and I did a Greenland 50K aid station. Now we're immortalized on the website (scrunched banner at the top):

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bear Creek

Wow, I just plotted out Thursday's run at Bear Creek Lake. I thought it was 5-6 miles. It was 7.7 miles. I can't believe I successfully did that with my foot, and on un-even snow and some post-holing, too.
But my podiatrist doesn't need to know this. I see him again on Tuesday.

Dark, Winter Running

Many people have asked me about Winter running. Questions are usually about either lighting or clothing.
So here's a photo of one option I use.
This is a cheap $3 pair of fleece gloves with a pair of bike gloves over, and my Petzl Zipka headlamp trapped within the bike glove strap. I do this without the fleece for lighting during warm months, but the cord tends to cut into my skin.
Without the glove strapped around, the headlamp will flop around uncontrollably.

Around my waist is another Petzl headlamp with the head strap replaced by a reflective cinch strap I bought from REI. So the belt reflects very brightly while providing a 2nd source of light.

To keep my ears warm, I use a Gore-tex/micro-fleece Elmer Fudd cap (Mountain Hardwear) with a cap over it. My Black Diamond headlamp goes over that.

I also have an $18 plastic Brinkman that uses zenons and two 3-volt lithium batteries. Zenon bulbs gobble up batteries, and each one costs about $7, but this palm-sized flashlight is freakin' bright! I use it on rare occasions when I want to see something farther away that my softer L.E.D.'s can't handle.

Except for the lithiums in my Brinkman, all the other batteries are AAA NiMH.

One of my peeves with running garb manufacturers is that they skimp on reflective hi-lights. Reflective thread and copious reflective logos, stripes, spots, etc. should be the norm. I have some new stretch pants that use reflective thread. It's not real reflective, but better than matte-black.
Reflective stuff not only helps keep you out of trouble, if you were to get into trouble anyway, and be far from help such that there was a search & rescue, if you were wearing tons of reflective stuff, you'd shine back like a spotlight if a helicopter searchlight pointed your way. And that would be true from more than a mile away. From a helicopter, it's virtually impossible to recognize anything as small as a human, even if flying directly over you and looking right at you. There's four reasons to launch helicopters at night. One is to use infrared, another is to look for fires, and the victim might shine a flashlight or, even if the victim is unconsious, reflective clothing will reflect back. Even without a searchlight, reflective clothing will shine back at an infrared source. the average runner won't care about this, but ultra runners might be miles from civilization.
I like to wear a tight UnderArmor top and a long-sleeve tek-shirt over that. My fave shirts are from the Salida Marathon and the Goblin Valley Ultra, both from 2006.
I usually have my fleece vest on. The nice thing about a vest is, when zipped, they provide great warmth for your core, but unzipped it's so airy it's like you don't even have it on. So it provides a great variation of comfort.
I like vests snug. I wear size large shirts, but my vest is size medium. It's not too tight, but there's absolutely no room left over. This is a great 1st layer under coats. When mountaineering, I put a thick down coat over the vest, and a Mountain Hardwear Gore-tex parka over the down.

By necessity, in the past I've been a penny-pincher. I've always "lived within my means" so I know about tight budgets. I'm not going to bullshit you into thinking all this stuff is "affordable". It all depends on your income, your obligations, and if enough is left over for luxuries like hi-tech running gear. I'm sporting nearly $200 worth of lighting. The tek-shirts come from races, but the UnderArmor and spandex pants are outrageous and practically never go on sale.

My foot seems to have weathered the Thursday run, but I really did push it to the max. I was flirting with over-doing it. I just now sprinted across the street to avoid traffic. If I had actually over-done it, there would've been some sharp pain during the sprint, but there wasn't. Whew! But that doesn't mean I don't feel some discomfort.

Friday, January 19, 2007

I'm a trail runner again!

I ran about 5-6 miles last night. Scott was nice enough to run slow with me, even though I told him I knew the way and might not be able to keep up. We were post-holing through snow near Bear Creek Lake for awhile.

The popular Jim Romero and Connie Ahrnsbrak ran together and turned back earlier. Jim will be leaving to run the Antarctic Marathon soon. It's summer down there. Jim ran the Kilimanjaro Marathon last summer. (The snow is virtually gone from the peak!)
Connie has been running for decades. Although she trains slow and careful, she can be impressively fast in a race. Jim and Connie nearly always win their age group in races.

My foot hurts. Not sure last night was right or wrong.

Decades ago, I shattered my right ankle. I had surgery and ended up with 2 screws in my fibula and my ankle was purple for about 8 years.
Just weeks after I had surgery, the man who was teaching me Chinese boxing had a serious car accident. Mr. Lough had a shattered left shin and shattered pelvis. He was running months before I was.
I thought that any pain was a sign that it wasn't healed yet, so not ready for activity. What I've learned is that it's going to hurt no matter what, and that injuries won't finish healing without some applied stress. If I wait three years, it still won't be healed. Proper therapy will send me through gradually-escalating stresses. I'll need to rest it properly between stresses. I need to eat properly, drink my Nutrajoint+cocoa every night, stay hydrated, and get plenty of sleep.

Last night after the run my quads were so sore, but this morning I feel much better. I was going to climb Bierstadt, but now I think I need to stay off this foot so it can recover from Tuesday and Thursday.

Only 3 days left of my Matrix membership. I'll hit the eliptical on Sunday or Monday.


This is cool...



So far, all I can find is "reviews" that say, "Hey this looks cool," and nothing like, "Hey I bought this, tried it, and it works great." I won't buy until I see some real reviews.

The rear kit sold for $300 until the end of 2006. The new tag is $400.

The front skid is $200, but I'm not sure I want a solid skid. There's too much variation of terrain, even in frigid winter, from snow, ice, rock, dirt, and pavement. I would want a skid that goes around a tire so that on pavement only the tire touches. The penalty would be a much heavier bike, but I just can't see having a solid skid.
Overall, the setup pictured might actually be lighter. You lose weight from the front and add some to the rear. In spite of less weight, it looks to me like you need twice the effort. There's too much drag. Still might be worth it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Running again

I ran 2.5 miles Tuesday night. Even after running thousands of miles in 2006, after several weeks of minimal exercise my thighs hurt after a paltry 2.5 miles.

Tonight I run with my trail runners. Running in snow hurts my foot, but I like trails far more than pavement.
I need to make sure I don't give my foot too much. A couple a weeks ago, I ran on Wednesday and snowshoed on Thursday. At this stage, I can't do that. I have to give it just a little and then rest it.

I'll tell our fearless leader, Scott, that he might as well run without me because I'll go slow and may turn back at any moment. But At least I'll get some mileage. You have to learn to jog before you can run.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Oh God...

I've been under a grand degree of stress at work the past three weeks. And I've had to work too many holidays. Now I'm starting to crack - up. I'm feeling silly. Yes, even a bit more than usual.
And now a friend sends me this mp3 that just about made me blow!
Those who know me well know that I'm not a fan of religions. I don't like to bash religion. I feel that none of us is as smart about such things as they think, and the more likely you are to proclaim yourself "saved", the more likely you're damned.
This mp3 though, I think, can be appreciated by both non-religious and many religious people.

If you split a side, it's just God trying to get back at you.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Still Frozen in Denver

Friday, I had the best work-out I've had since Rim Rock. Yes, my foot hurts, but not much.

Got another 1/4" of snow today. I still don't hate snow.

I can't wait to run! I want to run for hours!

Only a week and a couple of days left on my Matrix membership. The place has gotten so boring since last Spring, I won't miss it. Most of my workouts can be done anywhere. I have dumbells at home, I can do pushups anywhere, the Matrix sauna has been broken as often as it worked,...
I'm so sick of taking it easy and staying in-doors.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Not very bright

Several years ago, I had Guillan-Barre Syndrome. It's where a virus in your body has protiens in its skin similar to your own nerve tissue. Your own immune system coincidentally attacks your nerves along with the virus. Even after the virus is gone, the white blood cells are still there, still eating away. I was nearly a quadraplegic. My hands and feet were useless. I could barely move my fingers at all.
I recovered, but this is the best analogy to describe what happened and my current state...
Say you have a multi-strand wire - like 50 fine wires inside some insulation. It's hooked to a light bulb. Now you start taking the wires away until the light goes out. If you have a 50-strand wire, and you take away half the wires, you probably won't notice any difference in the brightness of the bulb. Take away 45 strands and you might notice some dimming, but maybe not, still! Take away 48 strands, and you will notice.
The difference between removing the 1st wire and the last is profound.
So saying "I've recovered" is a relative thing. It could be said that I've only got about a 5% permanent loss, but that doesn't mean I have 95% of my nerve tissue rebuilt. It's the analogy-equivalent of rebuilding maybe three of those 50 wires, and the result being a 5% dimmer bulb.
I've lost most of my nerve tissue. I'll never have that nerve tissue back. I'll always be weaker no matter how hard I try.
When it's cold, when my electrolytes are low, when I'm dehydrated, I can feel the strength ebb in my hands. Since I don't use my feet for very dexterous activities, I don't notice, but the same thing must be happening there, too.
It's amazing how rarely I think about this, even though it's always there, always trying to limit me.
When I was recovering years ago, everyone gave me sympathy. I hated that! All the messages I got were that I was lucky and it was too bad and I shouldn't push myself too hard. That was horrible advice and I'm glad I'm not easy on myself. I pushed myself as hard as I could - and I still do.
Realistically, I can consciously say I don't think I'll ever win a race, but the type-A reptile part of my psyche doesn't heed those messages. I'm only going to find out what I can achieve if I concentrate on how I could win a race.
There are personal trainers who've ridiculed me for not training right or hard enough, and for sure if I tried harder, the concept of winning a race would be more realistic, but I'm not willing to sell my soul for it. There's a certain balance that has to be maintained. If any one, single thing dominates your life so totally that it destroys the other parts of you, it defeats the purpose of "winning".
But without losing sight of balance, I intend to keep on refusing to be realistic.

Monday, January 08, 2007

2007 Schedule

I have a cold. (Happy b-day) That's what I get for running Wed., snowshoing Thur, Matrix work-out Fri, all on 5-6 hours sleep each night for several days in a row during flu season, while not drinking enough fluids each day. So far, the symptoms aren't very bad.

Saturday, my friends all met to celebrate Carrie's and my birthdays. No photos because Shawna and Kelli were exhausted from skiing and running late and forgot to bring my camera. And my new smartphone is a lousy 1.3mp with no flash and bad light pick-up. But let me tell you, the wimmins were looking very fine! (Just happened to notice that.) But I was feeling tired (no wonder - I was coming down with this cold) and left at 10:30.

Last week at work, and continuing this week, work is a stress-mill. That's technology for you.

Sending my Leadville Trail 100 registration today. I'm not superstitious, but I always hate early registration because it seems like a jinx.

Here's my tentative 2007 schedule (which seems ludicrous sitting here with a broken foot):
Sat, Feb 17 - Moab's Red Hot 50k+ (almost certainly won't be ready for this)
Sat, March 17 - Salida Run Through Time Marathon (here's hopin')
Sat, Apr 14 - Greenland 50K
Sat, Apr 21 - Spring Desert Ultra
Sat, May 5 - Collegiate Peaks 50 Mile
Beginning of June - Steamboat Springs Marathon (optional)
Sat, June 16 - San Juan Solstice 50Mile
Sat, June 30, July 1-2 LT100 Bootcamp (optional)
Sat, July 7 - Leadville Marathon
Fri, July 13 - Hard Rock 100 pacing (Probably conflicts with Badwater pacing prep)
July 23 - Badwater 135M pacing - get confirmation from Anita
August 18-19 - Leadville Trail 100 (mandatory stuff Fri, Aug 17)

There are other events I'd like to do after LT100, but I'm not going to plan anything until I'm done with this schedule. I would like to do Golden Leaf, Bear 100, and Goblin Valley, but I'd hate to repeat the past couple of years ending in injury.

But right now, I think I'll go home and sleep off my cold. I had to get up and come to work, though. It always screws up my body-clock when I don't do my routine and then it's hard getting back into things.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I thought today was my last doctor visit, but he wants to see me yet again. I got some good x-rays, though. He seemed to think everything was optimal, but I kind of freaked.

I didn't know how severe it was. Also, I thought it split length-wise and was maybe a kind of green-stick fracture. However, it apparently broke completely in two right behind the joint. So I ran my last 1.5 miles at Rim Rock with a broken foot! Holy shit, I'm feeling the pain all over again. It's amazing what endorphins can do for you.

I'm no expert, but the x-ray doesn't look like the break is ready for me to run on it. I just ran 1.5 miles last night. I was going to run again tonight, but I think I'll just snowshoe.

I have another appointment in a couple more weeks.

If I screw this up, the LT100 won't happen this year. I hate not being able to run! But I need to keep my mind on my goals. That way my stubbornness to succeed will overwhelm my desire to run right now.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Running around

I've been very busy (been on vacation). So haven't gotten around to posting. I haven't had a "routine" in over a week. Had one gym workout, but all other workouts have been shoveling snow and sledding with my son.
I feel real bummed that I didn't get any climbing in over my vacation. The snow clogged the roads with too many traffic jams, and I don't like heading out so soon after major snows. Too many avalanches.

So I wasted hours shoveling and going through my mp3 collection sorting things out. I swear no one has a bigger mp3 mess than me! I have about 20GB all mixed up, plus too many duplicates that aren't exactly identical enough for iTunes or anything to peg as duplicates. So I have to sift through... Man, life in the fast lane is TOUGH!

I'm going to try running for the first time since I fractured my foot. Tonight is the DTR Full Moon Run in the snow. If it doesn't feel right, I'll just go snowshoeing. We have a party afterwards. I miss my other peeps. Been two weeks. But I get to see them two nights in a row, so I'll get caught up.

Tricia Lehman froze to death near Rockie Mountain Nat'l Park. It kind of freaks me out. She was tough and experienced. A real smart trekker. How the hell did this happen? It doesn't make sense. I hope they figure it out. The knowledge could save lives.
My heart goes out to those who were close to her. I hope I leave as much positive energy in my wake when I die. She was a powerful soul.