Denver Trail Runners went snowshoeing at O'Fallon Park near Evergreen. There really wasn't enough snow to warrant snowshoes, but since I'm thinking of doing the Turquoise Lake race, they talked me into wearing snowshoes anyways. It was overcast, but other than that, it was a very nice day. Miles away on the ski resorts, they were getting pummeled by winds. My friend, Christine, said one of the lifts at Winter Park got closed because of winds.
Friday, I guess we really went more like 8 miles - not 5. Today we went only 5k.
Thursday night, I ran 10k up and down Lookout Mountain. It was hard work with drifted snow on the trail at the upper end. I tripped on buried rocks and tree stumps a couple of times.
Friday, with a vacation day, I went snowshoeing with an ultra-running acquaintance. She had done this trail solo on Sunday, so it was a known, safe outing. Todd couldn't make it. I'm not sure what the temp was when we started. All I can say is that it got colder, not warmer, as the sun climbed higher. At least we had clear skies, for a change, but the winds were pretty high. The trail we were on was mostly on the down-wind, protected side of Mount Evans, just below treeline. I wore my Montrail Gore-tex shoes, but somehow my feet got SOAKED! Multiple layers of poly' sox saved me, but my feet got colder, not warmer. Carol is fast and has stamina I could only dream of. I'm sure she was holding back for me but I don't know how much. Either way, it was a good workout for each of us. We each wore our racing snowshoes and traded off on breaking trail. It took us about 3.5hrs to do the out-n-back (5-6 miles). By the time we got back, Carol's fingers and my toes were numb. Carol's thermometer said it was 2 degrees.
Next weekend, I might do the 20 mile Turquoise Lake snowshoe race. It would be my first snowshoe race. I've used my race snowshoes exactly three times. I had planned to start with a 5k just to see if I would like snowshoe racing, and then build to longer distances, but Fridays outing counts for an adequate shake-down trial. Cheap registration and late 10:30 start time is very attractive.
The snow on Christmas Day stopped in the P.M., but it started again yesterday and hasn't stopped. I'm not sure what the totals are. Something like 8-10" have fallen, but most places have settled or blown or gotten mushed. I'm suppoesed to go snowshoeing in the mountains, so it'll just get deeper there. It's snowing hard enough that there won't be much of a view. I'll be hooking up with a guy who's in Search-n-Rescue and a woman who's known for running 100's. They're thoroughly experienced with winter travel, so we're all in good company for this type of weather.
Christmas day, it started snowing before the sun came up, and it didn't stop until late evening. I love snow, so it would seem to be a complete waste of snow if I hadn't gone running. I ran 8 miles in and around Wash Park. The footing was not easy, but I wasn't racing so I didn't fight it. When I got back, my son was there. I said, "That was a nice run." He replied, "That was an ice run?" (I had ice in my beard.) There were about 5 other runners, some walkers, and some cross-country skiers.
Last week, I ran the usual 5.2M on Tuesday but DTR did something Christmasy: They went caroling.
I'm not Christian. I believe there's a Supreme Being devoid of gender (I've had some individuals try to convince me God is male), and history indicates there was an individual they call Jesus of Nazareth, but I don't acknowledge that individual as being the Son of God. So it makes no sense for me to celebrate Christmas in the usual way. I like a good time, I like togetherness and good-cheer and well-wishing, etc. And I like to party! Commercialized gift-giving has become a problem, but real gift-giving from the heart is a good thing at any time, not just holidays.
Back to running... There's no way I was going to grab a song-sheet and sing songs about baby Jesus and stuff, stopping every-other-house. So I went to Green Mtn instead and tried to run but it was too muddy, and icy, and post-holing deep in snow, so I gave up after 4 miles and drove to Bear Creek Lake Park and ran another 6 miles on concrete bike paths. (How's THAT for a run-on sentence?!) The running wasn't nice, but it got the job done, and the solitude of the night was good for my soul. It was nearly a full moon.
The actual full moon was Sunday. DTR met on top of Mount Falcon and ran 4 miles in the snow. The "word" was that the snow was trampled and firm. That was true - for about a mile of it. The rest was uneven and sometimes not at all trampled or packed and we were guessing where the trail was in knee-deep snow. But the Denver Trail Runners are a crazy bunch and we were loving it - laughing at how comical the conditions were - dashing through the snow in the moonlight.
Afterwards, Tania P invited us to her house for dinner. Wow, how very generous! She roasted a turkey, and made a very delicious soup with every kind of the most healthy beans there are (World's Healthiest Foods), including lima, garbanzo, white, and maybe a few others, plus polenta, which was very delicious. It was a very good time with great company and big-hearted hostess. Tania is definitely one of my biggest inspirations both as a runner and in life. Always generous, never conceited, even though she has exceptional attributes. The wisdom of her advice has never been just about running, but about being healthy in life. Even though she's one of the most competitive runners, with international reknown, she doesn't lose sight of "why" we should be doing things. When talking of peoples' talents, I don't like using the word "gifts" because it seems a "gift" is something you were born with. The person Tania is today is no accident of birth. She deserves full credit - more so than most.
I'm lucky to know quite a few people like that. Maybe I need a blog-post about that. There's a long list of people who inspire me, though. Somehow posting a list of "The Top Ten" people who inspire me sounds trite. It might trivialize the whole thing (like a count-down on the David Letterman show). So I'll have to think a bit on the approach.
Thirty years ago, I was more than a casual runner, but less than serious. I ran that way for about three years, then I stopped running when I was about 22 years old. That's when I shattered my right fibula and had surgery to sew all the ligaments together and two screws to hold the shards of bone together. I probably managed a total of 20-50M/yr (mostly hiking) from 1980-1992. Fifteen years ago, I moved to Denver. I hiked or climbed "fourteeners" every month, camped at altitude, and generally stayed active. My wild guess is 40-60M/yr. About10 years ago, I demanded that I average at least 1M/day combined biking, running, and hiking. About 4 years ago, I demanded 1M/day hiking/running combined, plus biking on top of that.
So I logged 365 miles on foot in2004. The furthest I'd ever run in my life was 11 miles. However, I had done hikes that were 15 miles long, including the 14.9 mile climb of Grays & Torreys peaks from the lower I-70 parking lot. This became one of my two favorite time-trial courses. The other one was the 7-mile Red Rocks loop.
The end of April2005, I joined the Denver Trail Runners, mostly to socialize and control my weight. Then I joined the Rockie Mountain Road Runners. I was running harder than I ever had, even 30 years ago. In June I ran an 8-mile trail race. In July I ran a 9-mile trail race. In August 2005, I paced in the LT100, racking up 41 miles in one day (2 runs). That's when I decided to get serious. I ran a 10-mile trail race in September, then followed with my first ultra in October. That was dumb because I have a history of doing too much too soon and ending up with injuries that end my physical endevours for years. Still, I came out okay and attempted a 2nd 50K but shortcutted after my ankle started swelling (unofficial race, so not an official DNF). In November, I ran the Rim Rock Run at 22.5 miles. My left knee was wrecked that first winter and took months to heal. So I lost training during the winter of 2005/2006. I ran between 600-700 miles in 2005 (didn't keep a log). I set a new distance record at 31 miles, skipping the 1/2-marathon and marathon distances.
In2006, I probably ran close to 2450M, never surpassing 31 miles. I was amazed at how quickly I had jumped my mileage from 1M/day to running marathons and 50Ks. By the end of 2006, marathon distances didn't concern me at all. It was even odd to hear some people talk about 26.2 as if it were an incredible goal to reach, but that's how I had always thought of marathons previously. Unfortunately, I had a stress fracture at the end of 2006 at Rim Rock.
In 2007, I lost mileage in Jan/Feb due to injury, and more miles due to being wrecked after the LT100 and after the Boulder 100. I tried to ramp-up to the LT100 in approximately 2 years from being a casual runner and passionate hiker/climber. That was a bit much to expect, but I figured I could pull off the impossible.
So this has been a fantastic journey of improvement. In 2007, I ran my first two 50-milers. I set a new distance record for myself of 84.1 miles. My heart was set on finishing the LT100, and I had even dreamed that I might be able to do it in under 25 hours, but a finish at least. Even though I didn't succeed, looking at the way my running career has progressed, in the wake of Guillain-Barrein 1998 (?1999?), I think I need to be satisfied, so far.
Along the way, I've gained more friends than I've ever had in my life. Not just ordinary friends, but very exceptional characters. These people have shown me how I ought to behave, how I ought to approach life, how I ought percieve and react. I've come a long way as a runner and a person, even though I've got a long ways to go yet. There are no destinations in life - only waypoints. Like an ultra, sometimes you have to live life from aid-station to aid-station, from this tree to that rock over there, and hope to finish still on your feet. Merry Christmas everyone!
I'm a lousy judge of character. My history proves to me that I am completely incapable of accurately determining if someone is a good person or not. The reptile in me can spot a murderer - I've met some. So at least in the most extreme situations I have a built-in watch-dog. But as far as conscious or sub-conscious regular judging, I suck. I have an instinct, but I know it can't be trusted. So whether my instinct is positive or negative, I like to check things out. I'm a skeptic and agnostic - my religion is to believe that doubt is the best policy - not blind faith in anyone or anything - whether concept, object, or entity.
I'm not a fan of Micheal Moore. My initial instinct was that Moore was an unbelievable liar. Upon inspection, I saw that his "journalism" was rife with flaws that my High School journalism class wouldn't even condone. Moore too often doesn't give sources. He spews without corroboration. Then he gives an emotional and nearly always inaccurate real-life interview. Between these interviews he spurts more uncorroborated "data".
Then there's the mountain of extremely detailed rebuttals tearing his stories apart with far more detail than Moore could ever hope to offer in the first place. "The devil is in the details." Moore gives just enough detail to hook you, but fails to give details that either destroy his story or weaken his point. I may not be Catholic anymore, but they taught one important lesson: The Devil gains your confidence by attracting you with truth, then gradually sifts-in the poison.
I rented Sicko, and I rented one of the rebuttal DVDs. (I'm like that - always wanting both sides of a story.) When done, it seemed fairly powerful, except I had to ask the big question: I've been insured, and occasionally uninsured, for my whole life. I've personally been involved with probably 20 different health insurance companies in my life. I hate insurance companies and especially HMO's, and so do my doctors. So... Q: How come I've never experienced anything like the stories in Sicko? Ever! A: Because his stories aren't quite right. However, there's some truth in there. And it seems from my own experience that even though Sicko isn't so accurate historically, it is becoming reality. In a way, Sicko isn't so much painting a story of what it has been like or particularly is now, but like some rare circumstances are and will become more regularly.
I received a letter from some "entity" I've never heard of. This "entity" was inquiring if the injury I went to the Leadville Clinic for was related to an automobile accident. Whether it was or not, they wanted an explanation of how the injuries were sustained, and if I was still receiving treatment. I received this letter more than a month ago. Maybe it was two months ago. I wonder if "some entity" is going to sue me or send me a bill? I'm fully insured by company insurance. This is highly irregular. I don't see that it's any 3rd-party's business to ask me about personal medical history. HIPAA only covers privacy of electronic medical records. The "entity" is apparently a 3rd-party agency that specializes in "reclamation" of "lost" monies. Our healthcare "system" is such a mess that there are millions of people who offer no medical services getting paid by our insurance dollars. Too many administrators, too many lawyers, too many marketers, statisticians, financial assassins... The company that sent me this inquiry probably bought some alleged debt from the insurance company, or they have a deal where if they save the insurance company any money, they keep a percentage. They're bounty-hunters hired to do the insurance company's dirty work. I'm sure this falls under the fine print that allows them to share certain info with 3rd-parties, but they didn't have enough legal right get this info from the physician or hospital. And it seems within my rights not to answer. But they might have the legal right to retract payments and collect from me. Too much fine-print in these matters.
So even though I haven't experienced any of the horrors of Sicko, this letter is the first hint that Sicko isn't quite as far-fetched as I had thought. Then today I found this.
Meanwhile, we're told not to venture out into the sun, or if we do we should cover all exposed flesh and/or use high-SPF suncreens. I think I'll continue doing what I'm doing. I haven't had a significant sun burn in years. Sunscreen is good. Some UVB sunlight will penetrate fabrics, and some sunscreen will get worn off in spots. So even if I wear sunscreen as many hours as I spend in the sun, I'll certainly get sufficient vitamin D.
What most articles on this subject leave out is that vitamin D is converted from vitamin C. If you're low on vitamin C, there's nothing to convert to vitamin D. The conversion process makes you less succeptible to sunburn and cancer. So to avoid sunburn, take vitamin C. The RDA of vitamin C is based on regular patterns of averages. If you're going to spend unusual amounts of time under the sun, you need to take unusual amounts of vitamin C. My Ultimate Direction bottles have little pockets. Each pocket has a tiny baggie with vitamin C, ibuprofen, and e-caps.
It seems to me that if I had to choose between forms of cancer, I'd rather have skin cancer than lung or colon cancer.
If you have one moose And add another, Then you have meese. "Not so," said Mother.
Well, if you have one goose, And add another, Then you have geese. "That's so," said Mother.
But if you have one deer And add another, You still have deer. "That's so," said Mother.
So I guess If you have one moose And add another, Then you still have moose. "That's so," said Mother.
(author unknown) ______________________________ There's only one thing goofier-looking than a moose. (God was so embarrassed, it was hidden between man's legs.) ______________________________
Colorado's black bear population is now deep in hibernation. I've never seen a black bear in this state, but I got growled at last July. Black bear is just about the only thing I haven't seen.
I've seen an ibex. Yes I know they're African and Eurasian - I still insist it was an ibex. Their horns are very distinctive. Some millionaire ranches stock exotic game for some rather unethical hunting practices. This ibex must've escaped.
Years ago, in the middle of a week-long hiking trip, my car was parked in a quiet forest and I was reading a book. For days, I was used to mountain goats, marmots, pikas, chipmunks, and snakes walking/crawling right up to me. The day before, a Camp Robber decided it wanted the last bite of my trailbar, so as I was putting it in my mouth, I had a face-full of bird as it's claws raked my chin. Ha, ha! I won! So back to me sitting in my car... The door was wide open and it was very calm and quiet. I saw movement out of the side of my eye. Something was right next to me. But so much wildlife had been getting cozy with me all week, I waited until I finished the paragraph before looking over. The only thing I moved was my head. A Pine Marten was standing on its hind legs with its front paws on the door sill. It was only a few inches away from my thigh and elbow. I had never heard of such a creature and there we were staring eyeball-to-eyeball. It was about the most beautiful critter I've ever seen, and it's an extremely shy carnivore. I was very lucky to have been that close to such a wild animal and to have had so many seconds to stare at each other. It was very cool.
Saturday, I started the day by volunteering at a 5K/10K race. Many of the people I like but don't get to see very often were running. Tania P did double-duty by volunteering, then at the last minute she stripped off her warm-up suit and joined the throngs. Very cool with her distance slow-twitch muscles that she still tried the 10K. This was her first recovery race after coming in 4th at Sunmart recently. The temps were 10 degrees pre-race, but warmed up to the mid-20's afterwards.
Then I went to a fantastic Christmas party at Shawna's (thanx Mark and Shawna).
Then I drove up towards Jones Pass and crawled into the back to sleep. I was nodding off and barely got there in time - I was SOOOOO sleepy. Even though I feel fine, my nose is running and I sneeze so hard it's like I'm going to explode. So I took Nyquil and that plus one beer knocked me out. I had never been up there. The Henderson mine is still in operation and it is huge. It has multiple parking lots and lots of buildings and runs shifts 24/7. There was too much noise to sleep outside. The next morning, I figured I'd go hiking up to the pass, but there were tons of people arriving and the clincher was the snowmobiles getting off the trailer. Okay, well, that's one of the reasons I went up there - to find out what kind of "situation" it was. I hate snowmobiles.
So I drove to Georgetown to eat breakfast at the Happy Cooker, then up to the Hermans Gulch trailhead. Only I didn't head up Hermans Gulch. Instead, I went up to Watrous Gulch. I was scouting out new places, hoping to find good winter camping spots. I didn't find any. The snow is in good condition, as far as avalanche danger goes, but that tends to vary greatly depending on what valley you're in. 100 miles away, the conditions could be lethal. Maybe even as close as higher up on the east-facing slopes of Watrous Gulch. I never trust snow, even though I love it so. On the way back I lay down and watch the wind kick up snow-devils on the other side of the gulch and soaked in the scenery.
There was no wildlife except for chickadees. Down in Denver, there are quite a few foxes. I've seen a couple that head out every evening hunting for rabbits, and people's pets. You can always tell their tracks because their hind feet tend to overlap their front tracks. Domestic dogs tend to have evenly spaced tracks. Most of the tracks I see in the 'hood are fox, not dog. In winter, people tend to keep their dogs indoors.
Ever since summer, I've had pains in my back, neck, and headaches. I'm not the kind of person who has had any history of chronic pain or headaches. It seems that the culprit with my headaches and neck pain is my eyes are doing the usual old-person thing of getting more far-sighted. I'm a near-sighted person, so that means my eyes are getting better, except that the focal range is narrowing slightly. My current prescription is a couple of years old, and my eyes have changed too much. Also, I've been using bifocals of gradual gradient so there's no lines. I have to tilt my head back too far to see out the very bottom of the lense when reading close. That's what's strainging my neck and leading to headaches. So I need a new prescription and three sets of new glasses - sunglasses for distance, regular glasses for distance, and computer/reading glasses. Maybe some contact lenses. I haven't had those in years, but maybe it's time to try them again.
As for the back - it's not my spine that hurts - it's the flesh. It only hurts when I run, and as i warm up it hurts less but doesn't quit. This, I beleive, is caused by muscular imbalances. I've been exercising my back and it has helped. Tuesday was the most comfortable run I've had since summer, even though it was difficult footing on snow and ice.
Winter is definitely here. We have a few inches of snow everywhere and it's very icy driving. Tonight, DTR runs at Bear Creek Lake. It's a very boring trail, but it allows a long run, and injury is unlikely unless I wipe out on black-ice.
January and February: Stress fracture still healing. Lost plenty of training with the LT100 only half a year away.
March: Salida Run-Through-Time Marathon - dismal performance - sprained my ankle at the end.
April: Greenland 50K
May: Collegiate Peaks 50 Mile On the one-hand, I was in great shape. I ran extremely well for 30 miles. I was so fixated on hydration, electrolytes, and pace [staring at my GPS watch] that I neglected to EAT! It was my first 50-miler. Even though I fell way off my pace, I finished okay.
June: Steamboat Marathon Flawlessly executed race, for me. My previous record would be hard for me to beat, but I beat it pretty well.
Double: Mt. Evans Ascent and Estes Park Marathon Both performances were mediocre. It was a very great weekend, but I should've tried harder and paid for it later. Instead, there was almost no needed recovery. Shame-oh-shame!
After that double, I started concentrating on the LT100 course. I ran the hardest 39-miles of the course (in lightening, drizzle, and rain), then followed it with the 3-day LT100 Training Camp.
July: Leadville Marathon The best race of my life. This is a very tough race. I came in 45th out of 318 finishers and 330 starters.
A week later, paced the last 27.6 miles of the Hard Rock 100.
August: I trained for several weeks, probably tapering too severely.
My 84.1 mile DNF at the LT100 was partly due to: - lost months healing from my stress fracture - too much taper - not enough sleep the 8 days leading into the race - kicking a rock at mile 20 that injured my left ankle & foot - and then dropping the ball during the race Try as I could, I didn't do a very good job of organizing my crew, nor did I communicate adequately during the race. My crew were all experienced runners, knew the course, but none of them had the crew experience they needed. None of us thought there was any lack of needed experience, but there was. The whole crewing aspect, from me organizing it to them executing it was far more than we could ever know. We all sure as heck know now - the hard way. The most valuable lesson: Buy complete duplicates of EVERYTHING! If I have a crew, then at the access points, I will hand off my pack, and they will hand me a fresh one. But in spite of so much going wrong and the agony of the feet, it was the most wonderful experience of my life. I keep replaying moments of it in my mind.
September: Double: Steamboat Run Rabbit Run 50 and the Lead King Loop, followed by the Golden Leaf in Aspen a week later. I held nothing back during the 50. The Lead King Loop was rough going - the way it was supposed to be.
October: Boulder 100 64.26 mile DNF The knees are shot.
November: Rim Rock Run Nothing to brag about or be ashamed of.
Now I need to work on my back muscles. They are way too weak! The imbalance will cause injury if I don't fix it. All my core needs work. I have lots of work to do at home and work-related stuff to tinker with in my computer lab at home. I need to go camping, hiking, climbing, and biking. So Chores & Cores and "active relaxation".
Monthly Mileage Log Jan = 17 Feb = 54.2 Mar = 177.2 Apr = 195 May = 200.1 Jun = 229.7 Jul = 192.1 Aug = 128.8 Sep = 137.2 Oct = 110.1 Nov = 94.6 Dec = only 20.3 so far, with 20 days left
Total miles this year = 1562 That's like running from Denver to Penn State, PA.
Many of you already know these words, and maybe I've heard them before but don't remember. (Life is such an adventure when you have the memory of an Alzheimer's patient.)
Snirt A colloquialism for a combination of snow and dirt/street litter usually found in urban areas or along the sides of roads.
Snit A colloquialism for a combination of snow and dog feces usually found in urban areas.
And here's some that I've known but many of you maybe haven't...
Graupel Precipitation formed when freezing fog condenses on a snowflake, forming a ball of rime ice. Also known as snow pellets. I'm often pelted by graupel above treeline.
Rimed snow Snow flakes that are partially or completely coated in tiny frozen water droplets called rime. Rime forms on a snow flake when it passes through a super-cooled cloud. One of the 4 classes of snow flakes. This can only form as the temps drop from above freezing to below freezing in high humidity. Often it is formed as snow or rain drops from the sky, passing through temperature gradients. It's what tends to "flock" trees with crystals.
Firn Snow which has been lying for at least a year but which has not yet consolidated into glacier ice. It is granular.
Penitentes Snow formation found at high altitudes. They take the form of tall thin blades of hardened snow or ice closely spaced with the blades oriented towards the general direction of the sun.
Suncups Depressions in the snow caused by sun melting. This is a layman's term referring to the spaces between small penitentes, but penitentes can become huge (as tall as a person).
Sublimation Transition from the solid to gas phase with no intermediate liquid stage. In other words, snow or ice can evaporate without melting. Much of our potential water-source is lost to sublimation. Sublimation is higher when trees are loaded with snow.
Ablation The removal of a substance from another surface. Ablation may refer to the melting of snow or ice, and then the evaporation or runoff of the water, or it may also, vaguely or from context, refer to sublimation.
Corn snow Snow that has partly melted and refrozen and acts like ball-bearings
Sugar snow Snow that has crystalized into granules and has the consistency of sugar. This tends to form under harder crusts of snow. When wind-packed, hardened slabs of snow break loose, the sugar and/or corn snow underneath acts like a lubricant that lets the slab pick up amazing speeds during an avalanche.
The only unusual thing I did this weekend was sleep. Why is that unusual? Because I did a LOT Of IT!!! I feel so much better.
This seems terrible to me. They're figuring out how to put our exercise endorphins into a pill to give to depressed people. I know depression can be serious, but the world's lack of exercise is more serious. Here's a novel idea: Exercise! Two birds with one stone. Okay, give it to someone who's genuinely paralyzed and can't exercise, but the vast majority choose to be sedentary, so to me they choose their fate. Giving them pills will give them even less incentive to exercise. Exercise causes poisons to wash out of muscles, and especially skin, it makes you stronger, it sends signals to the brain that structural maintenance needs to be done, it stimulates the organs and bowels to make you "regular", it makes your heart and lungs healthier (unless you've got a congenital defect), and not least of all is the release of certain natural chemicals that maintain your psycho-emotional well-being. I once knew a guy that was so sedentary he ended up with gangrene in his legs. His obese, smoking doctor told him he needed to stay off of it. I told him the guy obviously has a PhD, and I don't, but he's been staying off his legs his who life. My advice was for him to buy a reclining bicycle, take off all the resistance, and just pedal round-and-round for increasing amounts of time every single day. I warned him if he doesn't, he's going to get his legs amputated. I changed jobs and never heard how that story ended. I'll bet he got his legs chopped. Now THAT'S lazy! His whole family ate at Burger King 2-3 times every day. Sorry - I just don't get it. End of rant (aren't blogs wonderful?).