LooseCrew-JeffO: June 2007


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

Friday, June 29, 2007

A Simple Goal

I have to admit I'm getting nervous lately.
Over the months, I've been listening to all sorts of advice from all sorts of 100-mile veterans. I've built a training schedule that I have hoped will address every aspect of what I need to be - in mind, body, and spirit.

I include mind and spirit, but I'm afraid the only mind and spirit training I've focus'd on is geared towards running. Overall, my mind and spirit are a bit atrophied when applied to any other aspect of life. When Leadville is over, I need to get back to basics.

The problem with advice is that it has to be taken with a grain of salt (or an e-cap?) Advice given by sub-23hr runners is of little value to me. Not worthless, of course, but skinny speed-demons don't have the same issues as me. They don't need as much oxygen, salt, food, water, etc. Too often they say, "Oh, sure, you can get a sub-25hr!" Reality check. I weigh about 30-40 lbs. more than these folks. I may not be fat, but increased weight has a significant impact on performance, especially spread out over 100 miles with considerable climbing. I don't want to sabotage myself by following "good" advice too closely. I can't get lazy that way. I have to debrief myself after every significant training and racing event to learn about ME. What are MY needs? What do I need to do at Leadville? I have to figure this out. No one can do this for me.

The August issue of Runners World has a story on pg. 18 where David Wiley tried to follow the "expert" advice of record-setting runner Ryan Hall. Result was Wiley bonked. Wiley had been running long enough to figure out what he did wrong and why, but not until he'd destroyed his race. You can take advice, but you have to totally re-apply it to yourself.
One thing Hall told him that is completely accurate is, "Run by effort rather than pace." So in training, I've tried to know what my effort is. I try to increase my pace without increasing my effort.

Of course there's tempo runs, etc. You have to leave your comfort zone to improve, but otherwise I'm learning what this body can do on long runs.
And anything changes the equations. You think you have yourself pegged, but then the temps are few degrees higher than you're used to and that causes you to miscalculate. Or it's the altitude, or the humidity, ... And if you make your mistake(s) early enough in a race, your fate is sealed. Like me not eating at Collegiate Peaks 50. Shame on me for having to re-learn what I already knew. Distracted by so many other details to keep straight.

At Leadville, I'll have pacers to help nag me about whether or not I'm hydrated, or fed, or whatever, but we're not allowed pacers until 50 miles. I hope I don't ruin my race before then.

One reason I wanted to run the LT100 is it seems impossible. I always loved doing things that seemed impossible. But this is the most impossible thing I've ever tried to do. I thought that as I trained, this feat would seem less impossible, but it still feels as impossible now as it did two years ago. I don't doubt that I can finish. But as I keep analyzing my training and race times, it's not looking very good that I'll reach the 30hr cutoff. I've met too many "unofficial finishers". I applaud them that they didn't give up. That is truly heroic. Even if they weren't physically tough enough to make the 30hr limit, it takes extra mental/spiritual toughness to continue after the race is done.

But I'm not doing this to be an "unofficial finisher".

Many years ago, when I was a machinist, I didn't have the time or money to go to school. So I gave up my social life (not much to give up there), and exercise, and goofing off, and spent every spare second of my life for about 18 months dumpster-diving for dead computers, software, and books. I built a lab in my basement and nagged myself unceasingly. "You will be brilliant! I don't care if you FEEL brilliant! BE brilliant! DO IT! FEELING brilliant is a luxury. You WILL do this and you WILL succeed!" I was brutal on myself. I quizzed-out and got certified. Then on the last exam, the bar was raised. I thought I needed 70% to pass but they up'd it to 85%. I was certain I'd fail. But then that brutal voice stepped in. "You WILL PASS THIS TEST!" It wasn't confidence at all. It was more like someone holding a gun against my temple. "I don't care WHAT you have to do inside that head of yours, but you WILL PASS!"

And I did.

A week later I was a white-collar worker. A year later, I had doubled my salary. I come home clean, there's no hazards to my hearing, fingers, no chemicals I'm exposed to, no abusive bosses...

I might have to find that voice again. I'm not sure what affect it'll have on my personality, though. I think runners - especially on teams and especially in giant public events like Leadville - should be smiling, exuberant, supernovas of positive energy. I need to set a positive example. Running as if I have a gun against my skull might get the job done, but I think it would be a negative thing for both myself and my teammates.

So, as with advice from speed-demons, even my own previous personal experience has to be reapplied to this new situation. And there's tons of details to keep straight. I need to think of a simple goal. No matter how complicated, painful, messed-up things get at Leadville, I need a simple, positive goal that's bigger than myself, or simply crossing the finish line under 30 hours.
I'll have to think about this.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kahtoola Oblongata

Tuesday, I bought a whole box of Accel gels (24). Got tired of running out of gels. That's why I bought a dozen last time, but that wasn't enough. So maybe this time my gels will last through summer.

My 19 oz. Kahtoola KTS crampons arrived yesterday. I might need them when I pace Paul G at Hard Rock in a couple of weeks. If not, then they'll definitely get used in the next few years. They're a perfect match for my LaSportiva Ultranords.

Paul said I can do 18 miles with him, but warned it'll be 18 very tough miles. But that's Hard Rock, right? I'd feel gyp'd if it wasn't hard. Should be tons of fun.

My quads are still wasted. Wednesday was Bike-To-Work Day. Biking is good for my quads. Hard to believe how deeply tired they are. I wish I could taper for Leadville already!

My left ankle hurts more each day. It didn't hurt at all on Monday. I guess it got yanked on too many times over the weekend. Now it has that sprained feeling again. It's hard to walk normal. Oddly, when I rise up on my toes and run, it feels fine, unless the ground tilts the wrong direction. Then it hurts like hell. This is not good, leading into the LT100 Training Camp. I've had this problem before earlier this year, and it healed. My taper weeks are supposed to take care of this.

My schedule:
Sat, Jun29-Jul3 LT100 Training Camp
..Fri - Check-in
..Sat - Mayqueen to Twin Lakes (26 Miles)
..Sun - Twin Lakes to Winfield and back (21 Miles)
..Mon - Night Run, Twin Lakes to Tree Line (12 Miles)

Sat, July 7 - Leadville Marathon
Fri, July 12-15 - Hard Rock 100 pacing
Wed, July 18 - massage
Fri, July 20-28 - backpacking

Then I taper!!!!

Taper will consist of lots of motion, pristine diet, with very low stress like walking and easy biking.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hope Pass

Saturday evening, I went looking for Paul G in the Winfield area. I never saw his distinctive old Pathfinder.
I slept on the ground by myself near where the LT100 50-mile aid station will be. I tried to watch falling stars, but I could not keep my eyes open no matter how hard I tried. Even when I woke twice in the night, I couldn't stay awake.

In searching for Paul, I drove to the trailhead to LaPlata Peak. My brother is taking several friends there in a few weeks. The road is in worse condition than I've ever seen. He was debating whether or not to rent a 4x4. Debate over! Definitely needs high-clearance 4x4.

Sunday, I drove to Leadville to eat a hearty (as in heart-stopping, artery-clogging) breakfast at the Columbine Cafe. I had scrambled eggs, greasy sausage patties, and biscuits & gravy. I thought, "What a dope! I'll be belching this all day!" but I didn't. Apparently it's just what I needed.
I drove to Twin Lakes and parked across from where the LT100 aid station is. I hope to be out of that aid station at 11:15am Aug 18. So I left my car at 11:17 and hoped to get back at 2:30pm.

Unfortunately, I didn't do my homework! I didn't know the way. I just thought there would be a trail. Au Contraire! I wasted I-don't-know-how-much time exhausting every possible way through the marshes and willows, trying to find some sort of viable way across. By the time I found the crossing, it was noon!
I hadn't realized how serious the river would be. There were about a dozen wet crossings, not including the river! I had my GoreTex La Sportiva Ultranord GTX-XCR shoes, and neglected to bring either sandals or water shoes. (I have to figure something out for the LT100.) I ended up yanking my socks, insoles, and gaiters off and wearing my bare shoes for the crossing.
There were two steel fence posts on the other side of the river, so I'm fairly certain I found the correct spot. I should have figured out the crossing sooner. Evergreens don't like marsh or swamp. There's a thin, mangled line of evergreens that meander across and are easy to spot from a distance, if you're using your head!
The water was chest-deep on each side, especially the other side! Yikes, that would sweep me away.
I started the crossing downstream with water over my knees until I got to shallower gravel. Then I followed the shallow gravel upstream. I went in over my knees again as I continued upstream to reach more shallow gravel. Then I was able to go thigh-deep to more shallow gravel. Then crotch-deep, and whoa-almost-swept-away for a dozen feet to more shallows, then one short thigh-deep stretch and I was across!
I ended up about 50 feet upstream of the LT100 crossing.
I let my shoes drain while I dried my feet with a bandana and put my Injinji's and outer socks on. Then I shoved my dry shoe inserts back in and my feet felt sufficiently dry - no squishies!

Finally, I was off and running!
Up the gulch, I saw a sign. Little Willis Gulch and Big Willis Gulch. Man, what a sorry bit of homework I did planning this day! I didn't bring a topo map, and thought I could just do this with my knowledge of the lay-of-the-land. Wrong! So after wasting valuable time finding the river crossing, now I was presented with a 50/50 chance of going the wrong way. Hell, I hadn't even heard of Willis Gulch, much less Big and Little! I chose Little. Big seemed to head west, but the way both trails switch-back and wind around, there's no telling. I lucked-out that Little Willis was correct.

Just above treeline, I ran into a couple out for a hike. They said they met a guy who was camped at Winfield doing a training run for the LT100, but he was going the opposite way and said the river was, "un-crossable".

On the south side of Hope Pass, I met a guy who is hiking the entire Continental Divide Trail (CDT). I'll probably spell his name wrong... Tray Corken started on the Mexican border and won't stop until he gets to Canada. He said Sunday, with his climb over Hope Pass was the hardest day so far. I gave him some beef jerky while we talked. I told him about the river crossing and he mentioned a bridge a mile upstream, but he wanted to get to Twin Lakes in time to get a room and a meal.

After losing about 20 minutes with Tray, I started down again. Near the bottom, I ran into Dan Bryant, also training for the LT100. He was basically doing a hike with his pacer.

Then I ran down to the road to Winfield. My planned run to and from Winfield was cut short because I had lost so much time! I used to be a loner introvert, and that was very unhealthy. I believe life is about people and relationships. Even setting my PR on G&T I willingly stopped for people and dogs. No problem. I can't stand people who have their priorities skewed and pass up opportunities to meet or show kindness. So I don't mind losing time here-and-there.

I turned around where the trail met the road and headed back up.
Man-oh-man, that is one horrifically steep trail! It's too steep for running. Maybe people like Matt Carpenter or Anton Krupicka can run it, but not normal folks like me. (Yeah, me - "normal" - right!) The TwinLakes/Winfield/TwinLakes stretch is supposed to take me 6.5 hours. I can say for certain that it will take me at least 7 hours, and maybe 7.5! I can lose valuable time at the river if I don't get my footwear figured out.
It took me 1h16m to climb from the road to the top of Hope Pass, without pushing too hard. I caught back up with Dan B and talked with him so I slowed considerably for a stretch, but that helps simulate the realistic speed I'll have at the LT100.

My PR on G&T the day before totally blew my quads. That helped to set the stage for my climbs each direction of Hope Pass. Until I reached the top of Hope on the return, I hadn't felt any real discomfort, but as soon as I started down, holy-cow! Ouch. Mommy. Okay - that hurts.

Hope Pass is vicious! I can see why so many people say Hope Pass IS the race.

I ran out of water right before reaching the pass. Just below treeline, there was an idyllic spot where a strong trickle of water pools and there's a tiny stone bridge. I bent over to fill my hand-held bottle and almost passed-out. I dumped two bottles into my hydration bladder and then drank several bottles while eating strawberry Twizzlers, jerky, and pretzels. I also put a nice pile of Morton Lite (3/5 potassium, 2/5 sodium) on my tongue to replace electrolytes. I keep it in an old film canister.

In the shade below treeline, it was getting cool and comfortable. My attention span waned and there were a couple of times I stopped running because I forgot. Without my mind consciously commanding, my legs just stopped. But then I got attacked my mosquitoes. And so it went. Whenever I ran too slowly, 3-5 mosquitoes would jump me. I thought of Tray and his heavy boots and pack. Poor guy! I thought of a line I read about the Danelle Ballengee story where a guy said it's all about "learning to suffer". Only I was trying not to suffer any more than I had to.

Finally I was out of the trees and heading for the river.

What awesome timing! I got to the river right when Tray was prepping for the crossing. He decided Twin Lakes was too enticingly close to head upstream for the bridge. Good thing I met him. The sun was low and the glare made it often impossible to see below the surface. We crossed together, me guiding through the gravel-bars. Tray had hiking poles, so it wasn't too bad.
We stuck together and talked all the way to Twin Lakes. He got a little mini-cabin, and he made it in time for a fancy meal.

I hit the road but stopped once between Leadville and Climax to step into the Arkansas River. That close to the headwaters, it was only a thigh-deep creek.

I wore my down jacket and drank a Breckenridge Avalanche beer. Awwwwww! Life is good.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

New G&T PR

This morning, I just set a new personal record climbing Grays & Torreys in about 3:55:20.
My old record, set two years ago, was 4:10. So I did good.
They're easy 14ers to climb, but they're a bitch to run!!!
I'm not sure I was actually any faster. I had a lighter pack, jacket, and knew I could break 4 hours, so I took less water. This is usually a one-gallon climb. This time I brought about 3/4. On the lower miles, I refrained from blowing my engines. I'm getting better at pacing my efforts. All this combined into a faster time, but was any of it from being stronger? I'll never know. I broke my record, and that's all I care about.

I love my new Salomon Raid Revo 20 pack. Wow, there can't be better.

Yesterday, I splurged on an ultralite weather-resistent jacket that wads up into almost nothing. I think it's the Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie. $40 at REI. I'm thinking of buying one of these for each of my Leadville crew.

Really liking Salomon. GoLite and LaSportiva, too. They totally rock when running on the rocks.

Sitting in Leadville at Cloud City Coffee. Heading for Winfield to spend the night. I was going to climb Elbert this evening, but I slept late and didn't start my climb of G&T until 10:06am. It's close to 5pm, now. If there's any time at Winfield, I'll go for a hike.
Paul G. is training there and I'm hoping to hook up tonight.

What a fun weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Massage Day

Most of my serious running events are done. I survived so far without serious injury.

My schedule calls for me to run 47 miles on Saturday from the LT100 start to Fish Hatchery and back. Then the next day starts at Twin Lakes and runs over Hope Pass to Winfield and back.

Since my right foot and left knee feel stressed, and I miss mountain climbing, I think I'll fast-pack up 14ers.
Maybe I'll start by trying to PR on Grays & Torreys (15 miles from I-70), then head to Leadville.
Maybe I'll start by fast-packing up North Massive, Massive, South Massive, and Elbert.
Either way, I probably will still do Sunday's run over Hope Pass to Winfield and back.

Whatever I decide, I'll camp out under the stars (or clouds), and I'll have tons of fun. I always dreamed of living and playing in the mountains, and now the Rockies are practically my backyard.
Now If I could get rid of that pesky "practically".

I got another massage today. I guess my calves felt like they were about to explode. Lucy let out a "Whoa!" when she touched them. I had warned her they "felt a little tight" in spite of me stretching and massaging.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

EPM Results

I predicted I'd be a cripple today. Far from it! I'm recovered! There was only some minor tightness that was easily stretched, massaged, and walked away.

So that means I didn't try hard enough. Which means, I guess, that I can push as hard as I want and not have to worry about over-doing. This close to Leadville, that's a good thing.

The official Estes Park Marathon Results are in. The unofficial results were nicer to me. I was told I was 26th, but I was actually 27th. Still in the top 23%. 9th in 40-49y.o. division.
Get this -
Of the top 30 finishers, 10 were males in my age division. The winner was in my division. That's how freakin' competitive my age group is!
I think what it would be like if I was in a less-competitive group. Maybe I wouldn't care as much. Part of my personality is the underdog. I never get division winnings. It would be awesome, but maybe if I won very easy I'd lose interest?

Here's my salt-encrusted cap the next day. Even though I kept dumping water into my cap during the race, it wasn't enough to keep my sweat from crusting.

I don't care as much about race cheaters as some people do. I race against myself and the clock. Not that I don't care at all, though. I just won't totally blow my cork over it. It's just a foot race - not like the fate of the world depends on it.
Now and then I pass a woman who's butt does not look worthy of being in front of me at mile 20, but she is! And she's not cheating. Looks can be deceiving, especially with women's bodies.
However, I've noticed in the past few races, that I've passed at least one guy who looked like a slow tubbie with lousy running form. I blow by them as expected. Okay, but how were they EVER in front of me? And to pass such a creature 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through the race? Looks aren't THAT deceiving! I strongly feel that these guys were cheating. No skin off my back, I guess. Even if they cheated, I finished way ahead of them. It is pathetic, though. Why would someone cheat? I don't get it? They don't accomplish anything. Maybe it's like a kleptomaniac? Maybe it's the thrill of possibly getting caught?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mt. Evans & EPM double weekend

No disasters this weekend. Couldn't even feel my blister.

I carpooled to the Mt. Evans Ascent with a guy I must've met at some point, but we didn't recognize each other. Justin was a really nice guy and we each had to leave early for different reasons, so it worked out great.
It was LOTS of fun!

I didn't want to blow my engines on Mt. Evans when I had a marathon the next morning, so I just pushed comfortably and enjoyed the scenery. Nearly all the race is above treeline, so snow-capped peaks were nearly always visible.
Last year, I volunteered at this race, so I knew what I was in for. No surprises, and it was a fantastic race.

Mt. Evans 2007 results
Finished 79th out of 262 finishers. So I finished at the 30% mark. Not impressive!
I finished 11th out of 23 in my division, so I'm a really mediocre runner for 45-49 year-old males!
Thought I'd done better. Oh well. Very fun day with no glitches at all.


Sunday, in Estes Park, I was so very unprepared that I didn't even know if the marathon was a trail race or paved, and I didn't even know what time it started.

I saw Anita F and Gayle Z. Found out the race was paved and started at 7am.

My GPS battery died right after the race started, but I guess that didn't matter. GPS info doesn't mean much when you don't know the lay of the course.

On the ride down from Mt. Evans, a guy told me the EPM was very hot and may not have any water at some of the aid stations, so I took my Camelbak.
It was record-breaking heat. At nearly every aid station, I took a slice of banana and threw 2-3 cups of water on myself. Yeehah!
I took three vanilla Accel gels and ate them all, plus 3-4 electrolyte tabs.

Anita shoved something into my hand before the race. Hammer Energy Surge is ATP, which is the final product your muscles use. I stuck that under my tongue during the final very long climb north of Estes. I don't know if it works, but it didn't hurt.

I never saw Anita during the race until I got a glance at someone entering the high school stadium track as I sprinted for the finish. Anita finished one place behind me.
The last five miles, we were blowing by bonked and sun-beaten people. It was tough.
I wasn't trying that hard, though. After last Saturday's 76 miles, and the blister, and my right foot feeling like it wants to disintegrate, and the Mt. Evans Ascent, I just wanted to chill out and survive in one piece.
About mile 24, I saw a gray-haired volunteer walking along the path. I put my hand on his back as said, "Come on! You can do it! We're almost there!" He just started laughing. He was used to seeing dog-tired, demoralized zombies. I was a refreshing difference.
I loved those final miles. From about mile 21 to the finish, I felt like freakin' Superman. I was grinning and loving life.

After leaving Estes, I stopped in Lyons to stand in the cold river. Then I went to my brother's place east of Boulder. He was renting a house but bought the house across the street. So I helped him move.
Today, I don't even feel like I ran much. Thought I'd be crippled, but I'm not feeling any discomfort at all.
I still plan to take it easy for a little while. My left knee and right foot did feel like they would crumble during the marathon.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


My weight went as high as 173lbs in the aftermath of my 76 mile training event. It's coming back down. This seems to be my body's reaction to send more nutrients to repair all the micro-tears and depletions in my legs.
Every day, I stretch, walk, elevate my legs and massage.

My blister has mostly stopped hurting, but not completely. The ones that were straight behind the big toes were deep under callous. They were on each foot but the one on the right foot was worse. Each is nearly fully healed.

The one on the side of my right foot is not going to be healed for another month, or maybe as late as the Leadville 100. I don't think it will keep me from racing this weekend.

There are occasional sharp pains and dull pains in my right foot. I'm not sure what these are. It could be the warnings before a stress injury, or it could be the build-up of fluids and concretions that need me to do a decent recovery run to get deep circulation moving.

Tonight, I will walk at Apex trail where DTR is running. Afterwards, we'll all have a BBQ.

Monday, June 11, 2007

De Feet! (Pt2)

In case yesterday's post didn't make it clear, the only reason I altered from my game-plan of just walking around Wash Park, is because of my blister. The blister came on fast and furious. Without any way of knowing exactly what caused it, I changed everything to what had always worked - what I was used to. I was used to Injinji's sox inside my thin GoldToe socks, and I was used to running.
So I put on my old Vasque shoes, my old socks, and I started running.

Talon had suggested that Washington Park wasn't an easy course because it's too flat. You use the same muscles the same way all the time. A trail race uses different muscles and body parts in different ways. Trail runs are total body efforts. I can definitely feel that some parts that are usually sore after a run haven't been used at all. My right foot is bad.

I'm not sure how hot it got - I rarely look at the weather forecasts. It was hot, though. Quite a few other runners looked like they were suffering.

1) Count on meals zapping my energy, but I have to eat. I should stick to Muscle Milk and Safeway nutritional drink, plus what they have at the LT100 aid stations. No blowing through aid stations to save time, like I did at Collegiate Peaks. I need to stop and grab enough food. My crew can provide the nutrition drinks, plus the Tostitos and Doritos seemed to work real well. During regular living/training, I think of fried snack chips as poison, but for ultra events, they're great.
2) Moisture, especially sweat in bucket-loads, is extremely bad. It leads to injurious blisters and chaffing. I need to figure out foot-taping and use anti-perspirant and/or petroleum jelly profusely. I wonder if copious anti-perspirant on my feet would've avoided the blisters?
3) My plan has been to taper off my running and gradually switch to hiking, camping, and mountain climbing the three weeks before Leadville. This will get me used to walking and altitude. I could've used the adjustment to walking before Saturday, so I shouldn't be too discouraged.
4) I was surprised that staying awake wasn't difficult. Even though I didn't go the full 30 hours, I ran 76 miles in 23 hours, with only 4 hours of sleep, and I didn't feel like a zombie. Leadville will be worse, but this aspect doesn't concern me like it had.

Basically, two things thwarted me Saturday: severe, injurious blisters to my right foot, and severe chaffing on my butt.
Yep, my butt was so chaffed, red, and inflamed I had two symetrical streaks on each side of my butt-crack that were oozing lymph. If I'd continued, they would've eventually oozed blood.
My favorite Nike underwear just didn't cut it - not when I was sweating that much.
My Nike underwear looks at a glance like bike shorts. So I can strip down to my underwear and change shorts right in front of people and they don't know. But when sweating profusely, and sweat is trickling down into your crotch and down your legs, I think I need running shorts with a net lining.
So looks like I'll have to go to the next level of shedding my modesty. During Leadville, I'm going to have to change butt-naked. Since there's kids at certain places, it'll be hard to find the right places to change. If there's no kids, then I'll have to change into whatever I figure will work best, even if there's no privacy.

Like Paul Grimm told me, any time you come out of a training weekend with a lot more knowledge than you had before, you have to call it a success. Best to learn all this before Leadville.

My weight before the event: 170lbs.
My weight after, the next morning: 166lbs.
Sunday night: 169lbs.
So my weight hasn't yoyo'd so much. Sunday night, my legs were sore from swelling. I had to keep elevating. I road my bike and massaged and did yard work.

Oh, I have to stop refering to myself as "fat". My belly fat is gone and my love-handles are shrunken to almost nothing. But I'm still "old". That hasn't shrunken at all.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

De Feet! (Pt1)

I only made it 23 hours and 76.1 miles.
I learned a ton during the experience.

My first pair of socks were fairly new. I’d worn them a few times before with no problem. Still, everything else I wore was so tried-and-true for months or years that I have to suspect the socks are what started a blister on my right foot. At mile 8, I took these outer socks off and put on some older socks that I’ve run probably 1000 miles in. It was too late.

The morning was the best part. The park was empty, I dodged the sprinklers while listing to my iPod and watched the sunrise.

I changed my shirts shoes and hats periodically throughout the day.

A volleyball tournament went on all day. I took a break and sauntered through the festival. A stand was set up for a new drink named Mix1. A Boulder physician invented it for athletes. They gave me a free bottle. It’s quite good. It’s like Odwalla but better.

I also visited two garage sales but didn’t see anything worth buying.

Biggest thanks to Talon. He brought me three slices of pizza. By lunchtime, I’d finished about 50K. It took a couple of hours to digest two slices, and two more hours to eat the last slice. I’d also brought Tostitos Lime chips, Doritos Salsa Verde, Twizzlers, Skittles, Muscle Milk, and jerky. Not a single gelpak and I didn’t miss them.

I brought about 2.25 gallons of water. I drank all of it and had to get more than a gallon more from the fountains. That’s another reason I decided to do this at Washington Park. They had tons of porta-potties, a cinderblock restroom, and two fountains.

Since it took me until 4:30 to finish the pizza, and my stomach was getting queasy, I told Caroline she didn’t need to bring me dinner. I had planned on a Chipotle burrito. What was I thinking? That’s way too much. I could’ve eaten two bites, but that’s about all.
Instead, I drank Muscle Milk. That hit the spot. No hint of stomach problems from that.

It got hot. I never saw so many runners running/walking/running/walking. I faired much better than them because had hydration systems.

I finally stopped at about mile 64 and took off both pairs of socks. I had three blisters. One was a huge bag of juice. the other two were deep down underneath the callouses.

My legs got pretty dirty. For some reason, my legs looked much dirtier with the naked eye than this photo indicates (one leg cleaned and one dirty).

In spite of me changing my shirts, hats, and shoes often throughout the day, some people still recognized me and started to point and make comments. As I passed one couple for the umpteenth time, the guy commented, “There’s one person who didn’t want to sit around the house today.” Other comments, “How many times is he going to go around?” “Look. Is that the same guy?” Some people bordered on being rude. There’s this one guy who’s short and in good shape, but every time he's seen me in the past, he looks at me like I’m some sort of oddity. But Saturday, he looked down-right horrified when he looked at me. I started to feel like a circus freak.

Since this blog is about my preparation for the Leadville Trail 100, I obviously mention all my ultra running races and training. But in regular life, I’ve learned not to mention it. I used to be proud of it, but not this year. I’ve learned to keep it to myself. It freaks people out. If you say, “I’m training for a marathon,” people react by saying, “Wow. That’s awesome!” But when you think of marathons as little training runs, and you think of 50’s and 100’s the way most people think of marathons, you step beyond what people admire. You become a freak. Everyone wants to see the humpback midget with two heads, but no one wants that kind of creature in their lives as a friend or other. So I like to keep it quiet. “I run a lot.” I prefer to leave it at that.
I once met a woman I was interested in. My friend, sensing that I was attracted to her and wanting to “help” me out, blurted out that I run marathons all the time and was training for the Leadville 100. Gee, thanks for shooting me down. That ended that.

Friday, June 08, 2007

30Hr Walk-in-the-Park

Last night I ran the Gudy Gaskill trail near Genesee. I love that trail, even though it's fairly short. It was about 7 miles.

Tomorrow morning dark-and-early, I'm starting my 30-hour Walk-in-the-Park.
I'll start it in Washington Park. There's restrooms, it's close to home, and it's easy. Also, it's easy access for any of my friends to visit and keep me company.
The main purpose is to get me used to being on my feet for 24+ hours, and get used to staying awake contrary to my usual sleep patterns.
If I manage to walk/run 101 miles before I reach 30 hours, I'll quit.

Right now, I'm exhausted. It's been real hard to keep my eyes open for the past week. Even the few times I sleep 8 hours, it's not enough. Usually I get 6-7 hours of sleep. It has worn me down. Definitely not a good way to start this endeavor.
And to top it off, I have to get up at 3am Sat. So I'll start this with only about 4-5 hours of sleep.
But this is what I might end up with leading into Leadville! This is perfect training! No matter how tired I'll be tomorrow, I need to keep reminding myself that the LT100 will have thousands of feet of climbing at ridiculous altitudes. If I can't do this at Wash Park, then don't even think of the LT100.

I haven't even been thinking much about this. I haven't psych'd myself up for this. Since there's no running required, I guess I haven't been mentally taking it all that seriously. But I should. It's going to be difficult to stay awake and still be walking.
If I get too bored, I might walk home and mow my lawn.
I'll have plenty of friends to keep me company, though. And I'm so schizo my mind doesn't hold still. I'm off in my own little world. It'll get interesting the last 10 hours when my mind starts to freak out. Better to experience it here near home before I get to Leadville.

Safety and Kindness

For those of you out there who are impatient to the point of belligerence, please, please rethink your priorities!
It's time for the Summer break. Kids are running around instead of in school, so there's more foot, bike, and skateboard traffic. People are going on vacations, so there's more road traffic, and more of that traffic is huge (trailers, toppers, campers, Winnebago's).
Especially when we're behind the wheel, our attitudes should be geared more towards safety than the rat-race. Even if you have right-of-way, a vehicle is a powerful object. Even at slow speeds it can kill or maim. Saving a few seconds isn't worth risking life, limb, or even property.
I've heard arguments about, "Well, I have right-of-way!" I can only respond, "Even if you have right-of-way, will you really feel fine about running someone over?" Get real.
Even as a runner, I try to keep in mind that if I don't pay attention, I could cause a driver to swerve into someone else.
One of the attitudes that helps me have more patience is to seek opportunities to plant positive seeds of energy. What goes around comes around. The best tool towards safety is patience, but also kind, generous consideration.
We should be paranoid enough to make prudent decisions, but not so paranoid that it shuts us down.
Live life, don't just watch it.

Here's a very painful but ultimately inspiring post by Scott Dunlap...
Demons on Mt. Diablo

Here's another inspiring runner with a positive message...
Running story from Susan W. Love

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Do we know us?

Life has taught me that few people know themselves. They look you right in the eye and tell you stuff about themselves that isn't true. Lying? No. They think it's true.
We come to know ourselves by being tested. Easy stuff doesn't test us. Disaster tests us. Near-death experience tests us.
Merely feeling thrilled because you're snowboarding or driving too fast, or riding a theme-park rollercoaster doesn't count.
Climbing mountains in blizzards or x-country skiing in dangerous conditions or storms only partially counts - because the danger is more of a "potential" nature. Still, it causes you to measure risks and make decisions and sometimes you miscalculate and end up using all your narrow margin of error.
Cancer and other disasters, which blind-side you, and were not a conscious choice, that definitely tests us. (I say "conscious choice" because many of us make lousy lifestyle choices that lead to chronic diseases.)
A lifetime of dancing with mortality helps us to know who we are. Some unfortunate people know themselves a bit more than they would prefer.

Back in the days I worked with street-people, I thought it was odd that the total-loser alcoholics were some of the most intelligent and wise people I ever met. They lacked strength and they lacked self-respect but they had wisdom in spades. While alcoholics are some of the most notorious liars on Earth, get them around other self-admitted alcoholics and they become, for awhile, the most honest creatures that ever talked. You can learn a lot from a recovering alcoholic. Mostly about priorities. Even if you're just a bystander, it makes you think how maybe you're not spreading your energies in all the best directions.

People complain that voters are stupid. I don't really appreciate such "I'm smarter than everyone else" comments like that, but I think there's some truth to it. Life in America, and most of the western nations, are becoming so structured and safe that people are no longer tested. These days people freak out about small things, because cholera and tuberculosis epidemics, are nothing more than stories in history books - and no one pays attention in history class anymore so no one knows about plagues or famine.

The "Good Old Days" weren't good. In my hikes around Colorado's mountains, I've come across dozens of cabins where they used newspaper to insulate or wallpaper their homes. Vandals tear the boards off walls to expose these newpapers from Victorian days. Today they talk like things are "worse than ever". They aren't. Things were much worse 100 years ago. Much, much worse 200 years ago. Etc. If someone says things are worse today, they expose themselves as an uninformed dolt who never cracked a book or paid attention.
What is worse is we don't know ourselves as well as they once did. If we don't know ourselves, we can't know others.
We also can't make decisions as well - like voting, like what we should be eating, like what we should be doing.

It's not all gloom. The harsher tests of yesteryear made a more self-centered individual. Survival of the fittest and everyone for themselves. They were tougher and complained less. Get a bunch of those types together with a common goal and they were a force to recon with.
You think people are selfish today? Not as bad as they were 100 years ago. Today, especially in America, it's P-C to care about saving the planet or world peace. (Of course, everyone points the fingers at someone else and wants laws to force "someone else" to fix what ever problem they've adopted.) In the old days, it was: Keep your eyes down and your mouth shut. Mind to your business. Families pulled closer together as a team.

Today, we have the luxury of entertaining ourselves with imagined problems, and shouting heroically about our fellows' woes. We can ignore the real dangers and problems right under our noses because they aren't as serious as problems used to be, or as fun as imagined ones can be.
I'm guilty too. Maybe the only difference is I'm not so unconscious of my guilt. I nag myself to be real - to prioritize, to cherish what is truly important.

I wonder if I do actually love running, or trail running in particular? Maybe there's something more going on and trail running and racing is just a vehicle that I subconsciously imagine will give me - what?
Is there a dead-end around the corner? Will I realize some day that I'm at the end of an alley with no way forward and, when I turn around, see that there's only emptiness behind me?
People go to college for years to get a PhD, and then they do something important with their education. I guess I expect myself to do something important with my running endeavors. It's got to go somewhere beyond just impressing myself or my son, or just for physical health. I'm not impressive like Dean Karnazes. People and companies won't seek me out to fight cancer in children or save the world, but maybe I can figure something out. And hopefully it won't be some imagined, P-C, fad-cause, but something real and important.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Steamboat Springs Marathon

So I made it.

Chris left very early Saturday to get a site at one of the more scenic campgrounds, but the spaces were all taken.
Then he went to Christy Sports and registered me.
I picked up is better-looking half and arrived about 1pm.
We ended up camping at Steamboat Lake right near the marathon start. Chris ran the 10K, so he was burdened with a long, tedious drive to Steamboat Springs. Sorry, Chris, but thanks so much for putting up with that, and driving me back to my car afterwards.

Brandy near the finish...
Brandy and Chris after the race...
Thanks for all the photos, too, Chris. They're awesome.

Last year, the weather was ideal and I ran very hard and did very good - for me. In 2006, 3:51:35 @ 72nd place and 9th in my age-group.
This year, I took 21 seconds per mile off my pace!
My 2007 time, 3:42:20 @ 67th place and 6th in my age-group. It will be extremely hard for me to top that next year!
I don't know how many started or finished, but last year there were 425 finishers. So 67th places me well up in the pack, but still very far from elite.

There was a snafu. The 2nd aid station was GONE! This was a critical bomb on many people's race. One of the Denver Trail Runners was extremely pissed-off. I like the guy, and I understand being somewhat perturbed, but my attitude is distance runners need to be prepared for out-of-the-ordinary stuff and just DEAL WITH IT!
Example: I brought a hand-held water bottle. I've been told by some that I don't need a bottle because they have aid stations every 3 to 4 miles. Hah!! Try "up to 7 miles" if they forget to set one up! So the missing aid station wasn't a factor for me.
Instead of throwing two Dixie cups of Gatoraid or water into my bottle each aid station, I threw in three. Since your body can't absorb water as fast as you expend it, there's no way to catch back up, but I tried.
Where some runners screwed up, is they decided the first aid station (at only about 2 miles) was too early, so they didn't load up. They opted to wait for the aid at mile 3.83. So those runners actually had to go about 9 miles without water!
Hey, it's up to each racer to decide on thier strategy and plan. mine worked, their's didn't. Boo-hoo. I'll be glad to hear the whining. It useful lessons that help me have the right plan without - hopefully - experiencing the mistakes of others. So whining is fine. Just don't go pointing fingers too angrily at the race directors.

Hey, where'd my fat belly go?
After Chris and Brandy headed back to Denver, I spent 4 hours soaking at Strawberry Hot Springs. I started by wading out into the ice-cold river and stayed there for just over 20 minutes. Then I sat down and let my legs warm up slowly for about 5 minutes before plunging into the hot bath. I went back and forth about 6-7 times, but I only spent 3-5 minutes in the cold after the initial freeze.
What a difference! At first, I was so sore I couldn't walk normal down the stairs. By the time I left, I could walk the steps fine.

I ate pizza at Beau Jo's Pizza after that and then camped inside my CR-V on Rabbit Ears Pass.
Breakfast was at The Shack. They were busy but the service was still totally grand! Pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, hash browns, coffee, and lots of water.

It was the perfect weekend where everything went according to plan and according to hopes.

After my powerful premonition Thursday night, I had an adrenalin surge when an ambulance and Emergency Response vehicles blew by me half-way through the race. Apparently someone collapsed. When he did, he cracked his head on the pavement. I don't have any idea what his status is. I only hope he's fine.

On the way home, on the two-lane highway to Kremmling, some guy driving a pickup (overloaded with a topper, and also pulling a boat) couldn't go the speed limit. He was going the opposite direction. A trucker passed him and barely had time to pull back in. Either the semi-truck trailer nearly hit the pickup, or the wind-slam nearly blew it off. Whatever, he ended up nearly tipping over right into me! Holy-schamoly! I don't know how that top-heavy piece of road-debris stayed up-right!
And I had two speed-demons that had just come up on me and were tail-gating in preparation to pass. That would've been one hellacious multicar accident! I would have been squashed in a vice from front and rear no matter what I did, if that pickup truck had tipped over.

Makes me wonder. Quantum physics says that at any one moment, several possible realities are actually occuring. Quantum physics also says that linear time, as we experience it, is actually an illusion. Was my premonition a realization of one of those realities which actually occured? Some people like to call deja vu and premonitions some sort of super-natural phenomena. I call it reality. Quantum physics is just starting to figure some of it out.
I guess one of my realities died today.
This other one is sitting back drinking chamomile tea at Kaladi's hitting the "Publish Post" button.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

About to Leave for Steamboat

I leave for Steamboat in one hour. I'm chillin' at Kaladi's coffee.

Chris is going early to get a campsite. I'm taking his more-important-half, Brandy, at 11am cuz she's working at a race.
So we'll camp the night, hopefully at our preferred 1st-choice campground. With two vehicles, logistics ought to be much easier than it was for me last year knowing no one who could help.

I know a guy, John C., in Steamboat who was involved with the race last year. I met him after the race. This year he's busy with work (on a Sunday!). He works for SmartWool.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Still hope for Steamboat Marathon

I email the Steamboat Chamber and they say they're still taking late registrations.
So why did they close Active.com?
There's still a chance I can run the marathon. Wish I had gotten my registration done for real (earlier).

DTR ran at North Table Mtn last night. It was cloudy and cool. Very perfect running weather.
Many of the Tuesday Wash Park gang were there. That was a nice change.
I went 8.9 miles.
When I plugged that into my Excel spreadsheet log, it told me I ran 200.1 miles for the month of May. I wasn't paying attention. Wow, so close. I would've been peeved if I'd squeeked under 200. 200 isn't even that much, if you run a steady 50 miles a week all month. With my seesawing training schedule, though, it's hard for me to compile that much.

I've only done 15.1 miles this week, but this is my 2nd of two off-weeks following my 101.7 mile week. And if I get my marathon on Sunday, it'll give me 41.3. That will turn my 2nd off-week into an on-week.

I've always been so lucky. Last night, I had a really bad premonition that something horrible was going to happen this weekend. I plan to drive and do everything extra-careful. Hopefully my usual luck will get me into the marathon and home safely.