LooseCrew-JeffO: January 2008


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

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Decent Mileage Weekend

Instead of one long run (20 miles+) and one short run (less than 10), I opted for two medium runs (10-20 miles each).

The weather both days this weekend was unseasonably warm. Saturday I ran at Waterton Canyon, and then up the Colorado Trail. The trail was snow all the way and very difficult footing. I thought I might go beyond 20 miles but the narly footing put an end to those aspirations.
I had the heebie-jeebies about mountain lions, being solo. I went most of the way on the trail carrying a small branch from a tree. It wasn't heavy, but cats aren't geniuses. Maybe it would confuse it just enough, and it made me look bigger.
Only one set of fresh tracks ventured ahead of me from earlier in the day. I ran across some two-day old deer tracks from a couple of young does. Not much else stirred.
I started at 2:40pm and it started to turn dark before I got off the Colorado Trail. I put one headlamp around my hips and the other around my chest.
My car was parked in a dark lot and I'm not sure that was okay. I looked for and didn't find any signs saying not to park after a certain time, or even over night, but there was a big gate. I was expecting a ticket on my windshield from an unsympathetic ranger, but I lucked-out.
17 miles.

Sunday, I stuck to my 'hood and ran Washington Park. I ran into a friend, Mark W, and did a lap with him. Then two more laps solo.
The trail around the park is crap - mud, ice, puddles. The next time it snows, I need to head to the park with a good shovel and do some community work. A little work in select spots would save several weeks of people running on the grass and widening the trail. Wish someone with a riding mower would drive once around with a blade on the front when it snows.
11.8 miles
Nearly 29 miles for the weekend.

Friday, January 25, 2008


After hearing about how bad clear-cutting was in Oregon on Meghan's blog, I thought I'd check it out on Google Earth. I didn't have to hunt. Even before you zoom in, you can see the entire state is a patchwork of clear-cutting.

I'm not against logging. Anyone who lives in a wooden structure has to chill-out when they complain - although it's not like there's any steel and/or concrete homes available for us to buy. The vast majority of us are only given one choice: buy a house made out of wood, or rent an apartment/condo/townhome made out of wood.
There's a responsible way to log, though. Some ways are a bit ridiculous and expensive. I don't think logging companies should have to follow guidelines that are too extreme. But the clear-cutting that's been done all over Oregon is horrendous.

I won't go hugging any trees, though. (Not that I have anything against trees - some of my best friends are trees.)

It goes without saying that you shouldn't clear-cut an area too steep and prone to erosion, but they don't seem to care.
I was under the impression that the USFS went around marking and okay'ing trees and areas for logging. Maybe that's wrong?
I've hiked through forests where trees were marked for cutting. It was very limited logging with no clear-cutting.
Of course, it's not like the government owns all the forests. There's quite a lot of land in private hands. They do what they like.
Personally, it seems like if I owned lots of timber land, I would want my "cash crops" to grow back as fast as possible so I can cut them down again.
I'm not and expert on this subject. It seems to me that clear-cutting too wide of an area runs the risk of ruining the land for growing timber in a quick-regrowth fashion. Too many trees grow too closely together. Unless you regularly go through thinning out the young trees, cash-able trees will not grow back in a reasonable amount of time.
Maybe that's what they're doing, though?
Anyone loggers reading this that can shed light on it?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More Snowshoeing

On Sunday's race, I was 77th out of 281. So I did better than I had thought.
For those of you who want the latest fashion news, I started the race wearing black and gray with a blue hat and red gloves. Then it warmed up so I took off my gray shirt. My rust-colored top totally sent the fashion-police after me (I'm still hiding out).

Monday, I went snowshoeing near Guanella Pass. I hadn't realized they closed Guanella for the winter. It used to be open year-'round. I just parked at the end-of-the-line and hiked until I was above treeline and then headed back.

My schedule is finally getting set, but there's still much to do.

This is my firm schedule so far:
Feb 16 - Moab's Red Hot 50K+
Feb 16-24 - Death Valley vacation
Mar 29-30 - Moab 100
Jun 21 - San Juan Solstice 50 (was at #43 on wait-list - now #42)
Jun 28-30 LT100 Training Camp
Jul 5 - Leadville Marathon
Jul 20 - Leadville Silver Rush 50 (new race!)
Aug 16-17 - Leadville 100

There are other races, of course, that I want to do, but I'm already registered for these above.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Snowshoeing - And 1st Race

Saturday, I dragged my son kickin'-n-screamin' from his mom's lair to go snowshoeing. He procrastinated so much it took him two hours to get ready!
"I need to wash some socks."
"No you don't - you're going to wear these synthetic ones."
"I can't find my shirt."
"So - you're not wearing cotton. Wear these."
Then he had to eat lunch. That took over an hour because his 14 year-old body was burning it almost as fast as he was eating it, in spite of his sedentary life.
Then his mother tried to give him gloves that don't breathe. "Nope! He's using these!"
FINALLY! It was 2:51pm by the time we left the car at the trailhead near Mt. Evans.
The wind was absolutely possessed. I chose a trail on the east side where the wind couldn't reach us.

In general, I don't like dragging kids into the outdoors. You can't force kids to like altitude, forests, snow, cold, wind,... Trying usually backfires. But my son spends most of his time either playing music, screwing with his massive Hot Wheels collection, playing computer games either with me or with his friends, or doing homework. It's all sedentary. I don't drag him often, and when I do I go out of my way to make sure it's not a traumatic event. He usually returns to his mom with tails of adventure and how awesome it was.
Saturday, he loved it. I wasn't sure how it would go-over. We only did 2.3 miles, but with snowshoes, it was something a little more.

One of the reasons I wanted to run 100 miles was to show my son that "impossible" is usually nothing more than a frame-of-mind. But it can't get in the way of spending time with him. So keeping my priorities straight, spending time with him will necessarily take a bite out of my training. I guess that's too bad. If reduced training ruins yet another year of trying, I'm sure my son will still benefit from time-with-dad, plus seeing me try so hard might wear off on him. His mom became sedentary the day she married, and his friends are all typical sedentary computer-game junkies, so it's up to me to influence him to balance life with physical activities. Kids are like water - they tend to take the easiest paths. Sedentary living is easier.

Since my carpool ride to the Ghost Town race failed to pan-out (he has a tender knee), I decided not to spend over $100 in gas and most of my 3-day weekend driving. So I ran Frosty's Frozen 5 at Chatfield Reservoir. There's 5-mile and 10-mile options. Heck, my shortest race last year was 13.5 miles at the Aspen Golden Leaf. I'm totally not used to racing at this distance. But it was very fun to do something new, even if it didn't last long.
My knees were fine! I felt good. Actually any race hurts, especially if you're not used to it, but all things considered, my off-season - with lots of stretching - has put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.
I don't know how many hundreds of runners there were, but I came in 77th. Since short stuff isn't my thing, I'm quite satisfied how I did.

It was a fun weekend - and it's not over - I get Monday off! What will I do?!?! I think I'll climb something tall.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cold and Windy

Wednesday, I ran 8.2 miles at Wash Park in 11 degrees and slight breeze. I felt energetic and eager, and my mind wanted the rythmic solitude. Indeed, there were only four other souls dumb enough to head out.
One of them was George Z from work. I'm his tech-support guy. He's slow but has been faithfully jogging for years. He only goes 1-2.5 miles, but he does it 1-6 time a week. That's about 1-6 times a week more than 95% of the US population. It shows - he's 15 years older than he looks.
My body, eager as it was, was bitching to me about the cold. My arms were freezing! I must be getting old. I was so cold my mind kept trying to talk me into only doing one lap instead of two. But the other half of my brain kept saying, "But you're already out here! You're already dressed-up! What's another lap? What will you think tomorrow if you only do one lap? (Besides - Meghan just posted about running in the frigid weather!) Suck-it-up!"

Thursday night, the usual 5:30pm leader was at the Rocky Mtn Road Runners annual banquet, so I took over. Nearly everyone was at that banquet.
The Denver Trail Runners ran at Green Mtn - and it was WINDY! Only one other person showed up - Caroline. We froze our faces off. The wind chill was really bad. Seems like I've frozen my cheeks so many times in the past couple of weeks the skin is going to start coming off.
I guess I still love it or I wouldn't do it, right? I think I must be crazy like eveyone says.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Time to Crank

Saturday, a friend and I tried to climb James Peak via St. Mary's Glacier. This glacier has been created over a span of many hundreds of thousands of years. The mountain ranges naturally funnel the prevailing westernly winds between two ridges. The valley curves downward. Natural aerodynamics causes low pressure, which causes the wind to release suspended particles. So basically it's like hiking in a wind-tunnel.
The ground-blizzard was extremely intense. I figured it would be, but it was even worse than I had hoped for.
I had both a compass-&-map, plus a GPS watch with log./lat. read-outs. So there was no getting lost.
Visibility was only about 8 feet, but contrast made any visibility worthless. The ground was white with blowing white snow. The glacier gets extremely uneven, lumpy, dippy, with runnels and ridges. We were constantly stumbling because we couldn't decern the ground.
The temp was forcast at 5 degrees and -25 wind-chill. I think that was fairly accurate. Carol and I had neoprene face-masks on but our eyewear was frosting over. We eventually gave up just one mile from the car.

So we drove several miles away to Stevens Gulch below Grays & Torreys and finished our snowshoeing workout there. It was just 20 minutes from St. Mary's but it was partly sunny and calm. We ran out of time when we reached about 12,400 feet.
Combined, we logged 11.7 miles.

I know I'm 1/10th the athlete Carol is. Not sure if she's slowing down for me or just doesn't care (recently) to haul-butt. So far we've kept easy pace with each other.
When it comes to heading out into extreme situations, like St. Mary's Glacier, I'm hesitant to go with someone I don't know. In fact, I might have gone further if I was solo (but not too much further). When exploring new elements, you should push the envelope just a little bit at a time. Even if individuals know themselves, new team-members don't know each other. When you're teamed with an unknown, you kind of have to step back and start over again. If we work-out more, we can, as a team, push further, safer.

Last year, because of my stress-fracture, I had logged 3 miles. This year I've already got more than 70 miles without any ambitious training. It's a good start.

I often travel the World with Google Earth. In case you don't feel lucky enough, take a gander at Grozny in Chechnya. There are Google Earth photo icons that show the way things used to look. Even from the sky, you can tell the whole city is a bombed-out wreck.
43 18N / 45 41E

Friday, January 11, 2008

Missed the SJS50

I thought I had gotten into the San Juan Solstice 50, but I didn't.
Only 150 people are allowed to run this because the National Forest Service won't allow any more than that.
At this writing, there are 90 people (and counting) on the wait-list. I'm #43 on the list.
Most races have a 20% drop, from illness, tragedy, or whatever. So out of 150 people, there may be expected a statistical 30 people who drop out. IF every single one of those are kind enough and able to convey that to race officials, then 30 people from the wait-list will get in. But usually fewer than half will notify race officials, so I estimate that only 10-15 people on the list will get in.
So I will almost certainly not be running the SJS50. (@*$#&! AAAAAH! GAH!!! UH! [nashing of teeth]) But I don't mind - really. I didn't really want to run the stupid race - not much anyways. I just (AAAAH!!! [apoplectic gutteral animal sounds]) - it's fine. So...
If I had a TV I could watch televised knitting.

Woah! What if I had a 60" plasma?!?! Then I could REALLY watch other people have fun!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Road Trip!

This season is getting a great kick-off. After destroying both of the last two winters with injuries, it's nice to be in one piece from the start. My knee problems were all caused by tight muscles, not over-use. I just have to do the correct stretches - frequently. Like once a day when I don't workout, and 2-3 times a day when I do.

I've already had my first snowshoe race. I learned a lot and got a fantastic workout.
Next is the Ghost Town 38.5 Jan. 20 in southern New Mexico. This breaks my rules of not doing anything that requires more than a day's drive, but I'll be carpooling with Dave B, so there's two of us to split the driving. What is normally two days for one driver will be one day for two drivers.

Then a real fun week of vacation planned. Seems like any trip with Paul G is quite an adventure.
First is the Red Hot 50K in Moab Jan. 20. I've never done this. Last year I-70 was closed due to high winds and I never made it. Hopefully this year will work out.
Immediately after we finish, we're skipping the awards at the Mondo Cafe and heading for Death Valley (yes I'll stretch first).
Paul will participate in a bike clinic and I'll ride and hike. Then we'll take a rambling canyonlands ride back to Denver. Maybe a stop in Marble.
If that vacation doesn't wear me out, nothing will!

During the week, there will be an eclipse.

Last night was a fast pace at Wash Park. Best tempo run I've had in months.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Turquoise lake 20M Snowshoe Race

I hope everyone had a great, adventerous weekend!

It was an extremely awesome winter experience.
I met up with five other runners at a Park-n-Ride. We were going to take one 2WD van, but the weather reports made us change our minds to split into two 4WD. Good thing.

We drove to Leadville with plenty of time.
Near Leadville, the other vehicle drove to the side of the road for a potty break and they didn't realize that two feet of the shoulder was sculpted snow over a ditch, so he got stuck. We each had shovels, so we started digging. Then a guy with a Jeep came by and towed it out. We still had plenty of time.

It was snowing pretty good - nothing extreme. Visibility was hampered even more by the fact that the entire county was inside the clouds. So there were only pockets in the woods that were somewhat clear.

Most of us took a pack with a hydration bladder. I had over a liter of water, four gel-paks, and two pairs of gloves. I apparently brought all the right stuff.

After more than a mile of following some powerlines, and some rambling through the woods, we came out onto the frozen lake. The course heads north.

There were fishermen out with their tents set up and heaters going inside. The snow on the ice was about a foot deep, but there were some slushy spots. The claws on my snowshoes iced up extremely bad. I was walking with an additional 4 inches of crud stuck to either the front or back or both as the ice would sometimes come off but mostly not. So each step was an adventure as to whether my foot would tilt forward, backwards, straight-but-high up, maybe high on one side maybe the other. It was catawompous!

On the lake, the wind wasn't real bad, but we were travelling across it and the snow was in our eyes and we inhaled it and would sometimes cough as flakes hit the backs of our throats. There was lots of walking with our faces down and following the person in front.

I had somehow politely let everyone by at the beginning so that I only had five people behind me in the woods, so on the ice, I had to pass dozens of people. I ended up in the middle of the pack and could see that people ahead were turning drastically to the left. I thought they were going parallel to the north shore and I figure we were going to shore nearly a mile from where we were supposed to.

When we finally got back onto a snowy road, we went up to a junction. We could go left or right. Heck, visability was so bad I had no idea. A guy I know has run it several times before said to go left, but after a mile or so everyone ahead was coming back the other direction saying, "Wrong way! It's the other way!" Okay, it's FUBAR, then. So we start going back and we're mostly thinking, "Wow, we went way too far west and now we have to backtrack east."

Here's what REALLY happened! (I love this part! You had to be there!) The leaders somehow curved left in the windy blizzard out on the center of the lake where they lost track of the barely-visible trees on the shores. Us in the back, we could always look forward and see clearly that everyone ahead was veering to the left, but if you're up there at the head, there's nothing but white-out all around and you're doing your best. But apparently some shifting of the wind tricked the leaders into believing they were going straight across when they were actually doing a nice big horseshoe all the way around until they went to shore ON THE SOUTH SIDE!!

So there we were thinking we were walking east on the north shore, but it didn't seem right to me. In the old days, I had a mysterious sense of direction that was down-right supernatural. Then I became a computer tech, code-monkey, hacker-n-cracker and lost my senses. Technology is the opposite of nature. In the past few years, though, my sense of direction has been coming back. So since my head couldn't figure it out, I told myself to stop thinking and ask your instinct. Suddenly I called to Paul and said, "Try this on! We're heading west on the south shore!" He just said, "No," like that was preposterous. So a couple miles later, there's a sign saying May Queen is a ways off! Doh!

We figured we were all DQ'd and didn't care. No one tried too hard after that. Many walked 100% of it after that.

Paul and I treated it like a training run, so we pushed on until Paul met a friend. Then I forged ahead by myself.

I went pretty close to 17.6 miles, plotting it out on Google Earth.
No Photos because the visibility was ridiculous.

I learned I need to either remove the claws on my snowshoes, replace them with plastic ones, or polish them with my Dremel tool until they shine. Then spray PAM on them before and during races.

In spite of the way things turned out, I didn't hear a single person complain. It was cool to be in a race, in a region, with so many crazy outdoors people that there's no way the race will get cancelled. In spite of the visibility issues, the lake is ringed by a paved road. Even if you're "lost", you stick to the road, you'll see something recognizable.

I had about half a foot of snow on my car when I got back. The drive back was treacherous, but I have studded walnut-based snow tires and drove cautiously. Thank goodness we didn't take the van!
That night, I slept for nearly 10 hours! Those were some HARD miles! A great workout.

Here's the latest snow in Silverton. Colorado is really getting dumped on. I hope Hard Rock doesn't get cancelled.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Years bash

New Years was spent in Grand Lake with Christine and Don. It was about 0 degrees and hundreds of pounds of ice was hanging off the edges of some roofs. There were too many snowmobiles for me to want to live there, but it was a great place to spend NYE. There was a fantastic fireworks show you'd never guess a tiny town like Grand could afford.
New Years Eve, I-70 and Berthoud Pass were closed due to raging winds and icy roads, but it opened up in late afternoon. Still, most people invited bailed on us. So it was just my brother, Christine, Don, and moi. That was enough. We cooked shish-kabobs on the fire and then bar-hopped until the fireworks started. At last call, we headed home around 1am.
The next morning, I think I drank too much. It looked like a dog was driving an SUV.