LooseCrew-JeffO: March 2008


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

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Not This Time

I was totally "nailing it" through 70 miles. Then my engine wouldn't rev.
I power-hiked the climbs, and ran the downhills and easy flats. I walked the flats that were too deep in sand.
Like usual, people passed me uphill and I blew by them dowhill.

My sinuses pulled the same tricks it has been this whole year. My sinuses GUSHED the whole race! I had to blow and wipe every 5-10 minutes the whole race.The congestion caused by my asthma built up like it never has before. Soon after sunset, there was an older woman whole did not look like she was moving very well. I asked her how she was doing but she was worried about me. I sounded like I had the plague!
I'm "plagued" by these airway issues, but I'm not sick. As soon as I get some sleep, all symptoms are gone.

Official final: 85.92miles - further than I have ever run before, even at Leadville.

This DNF bodes very bad. What am I to make of my future prospects? My body always falls apart after 100K.
I have such a heavy schedule this year. I love running and racing, no matter how good or bad I do. So I guess I'll show up at every race and just have as much fun as my body will let me!
Uli Kamm was there. Amazing guy. I lapped him twice, but I'll bet he finished and I didn't.
it's just that we all decide what kind of ultra-athlete we want to be. I want to "run" 100 miles. I count power-hiking uphill as running for two reasons: I've passed many people uphill as they ran and I walked, and because walking uphill is harder than running flats.
I have NO ridicule for anyone who decides to hike ultras. It's just not what I want to do. I dream of a day when I can run uphill and down for 100 miles.

The first lap, though, I went out so slow, and was immediately DFL.

Right now, via a long-range phone signal from either Moab or the airport, I'm sitting in my car on the side of a mesa watching the most spectacular night-time lightening storm over Arches Nat'l Park.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Moab Wx Forecast

For the past couple of weeks, and for the terminal future, my company's firewall has and will block nearly the entire Internet. Since I work in the technology sector, I fully understand this. Video download, blogs, music, MySpace, all these sorts of sites are not legitimate for work purposes, and yet they can easily hog 60% of the bandwidth at any company.
But I'm guilty. As long as they let me, I took advantage.
So now I post via my tiny iPhone, and on rare occasions, I actually get to use WiFi at a coffee shop or bar (which seems to be broken or over-taxed half the time). So my posting will be more erratic.
I refuse to get hi-speed at home because then I might never get out and socialize. That has been a problem in years past for me.
Getting out, sometimes I get interrupted by someone who wants to have a conversation. I remind myself this is the whole point! So in those situations, my blogging doesn't get done.
I still figure this is the right priority.

The weather forecast for the Moab100 is neither good nor particularly bad, and it's all over the place. Checking daily, the forecast has called for winds between 11-20mph, and temps 37-68F, with a slight chance of rain, 50% clouds, and a little moonlight. The wind isn't epic, but we have no trees or other terrain protections. We will be getting constantly blown on predominantly in the 18mph range most of the time for as many hours as it takes.
And that's very much like it was at the Boulder100.

I'm going to have FUN!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What it Takes

I've heard it said so many times that being able to run 100's is purely mental.
So sorry, but that's BS!
We are mind, body, and spirit, and in that, we can fail on any an all levels. If it was purely mental, a 400lbs. obese person could saunter out and finish the LT100 witin the 30hr cut-off!
You have to do the training.
You have to get the logistics right, which include clothing, water, electrolytes, and calories. This part is extremely difficult! So many of us get the miles, but getting aid-station transition, the right ratio of water/electrolytes, and sufficient calories takes experience.
I put the mental stuff last. Why? Because I've repeatedly done the impossible! It's almost like I don't believe, but then I also don't have any faith in failure anymore! So what if I don't think I can succeed! I don't believe I can't succeed!
See, I'm agnostic, and agnostic works both ways. I don't believe, and I don't disbelieve. Or rather, if I believe anything - pro or con - it's always with a degree of doubt. There's always room for success or failure.
So maybe some might say, "Yeah, but you have to believe you'll succeed!"
I still argue, no I don't. I just believe in possibilities, probabilities, and logistics.
The mental question isn't, "Do I believe in myself?" It's, "Do you want this bad enough and is it worth it?"
If you want it bad enough, then you'll get the necessary training done and you won't take a DNF lightly. But if you are geting injured, and it'll kill your training schedule and next (or more-important) races, then you have to do the right thing. What do you want the most? This race or some other?
I really want to finish this Moab100 so bad, but I hope I don't destroy myself at this point in an otherwise phenominal training season. Leadville is the prize. If I bugger myself up too badly in Utah, I'll jeopardize the LT100.
Adam F has already blown up at me for being a loon with all the 50M's I'm doing before Leadville, including the Leadville Silver Rush 50 a month before. He thinks I'm trashing my LT100.
We'll see.

Fast Week

The past week is a blur with very little running.
Wednesday and Thursday, I called in sick because my sinuses were gushing. Even fully-dosed, my sinuses were running and I was sneezing. I didn't feel sick otherwise, but I couldn't go to work drowsy, buzzing, sneezing, and gushing.
So no running Wednesday. Thursday evening, a cold front blew in with 40+mph winds. DTR ran on South Table Mtn, so we got the full brunt of it. The wind was clean - no smog or dust - so it really cleared my sinuses. I walked most of the headwinds with my hands over my ears, but with a tailwind, I flew back.
Friday was spent doing laundry.
The weekend was spent with my son on a roadtrip. We slept in the back of my CR-V.
On Sunday, we saw about 100 deer.
I stopped at Monarch Pass and got in one mile of strenuous snowshoeing up a very steep slope.
Monday was John C's birthday. What a totally great party! Lost another day of training, but I guess there's more to life than running.
Tuesday, in spite of having the Moab100 coming up soon, I ran as hard as I could for 5.2M.
I only plan to walk each day until Moab.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Salida Marathon Results & Photos

Okay, so 4:58 doesn't sound fast for a marathon. Heck, my 50K PR is better than that! But with trail running, you can't very often compare different races, as far as finish times go. So this is how I look at it: This race has been done for three years. This year had the 'worst' trail conditions of the three years. Yet I still PR'd! Only by 7 minutes, but that's decent enough.
Salida Marathon Results
The photos are courtesy of Brenda and Mark Wiard. Out of the total goodness of their hearts, they each had a camera and snapped nearly simultaneously. These are the best photos that have been taken of me during a race, and they asked nothing in return! They're the BEST! Thanks Brenda and Mark!

These photos don't show the deepest snow, plus the couple of miles of the deepest would have been quite a difficult hike, and these photos were after most people had trampled it down,
but you can get an idea what the trail was like.

I love these technical, rocky downhills. That's when I let my spine rotate radically and use the cam-action of my hips. My eyes are bugged-out and I fly down. My senses are so wired! Who needs cocaine? Try trail running down rocks at full-speed!

I'm actually having to throttle back my training. I'm afraid of getting out of control. Looking at my mileage log, and heading towards the Moab 100, it would be easy to over-train.
There have been numerous stress-points on the left side. None of them are injuries, and I've stayed on top of each. An ankle tendon, my left knee, and I'm sure there are other places that haven't had the courtesy to hurt but are near the breaking point. So I'm kind of in circle-the-wagons mode. I've come far this year and don't want to risk an injury that would jeopardize this busy year of training and racing.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Wisdom today brought to you by Dove Dark chocolate.

A few details I left out about the marathon...
The RD, Jon, is an incredible artist. I've seen him draw and this guy is world-class.
There's been controversy about waste at races. I don't know who the complainers are, but they say finisher medals, shirts, etc. are wasteful. So there's been a push to get away from that.
Personally, I like medals. My son thinks it's cool to go through dad's pile. It inspires him, which is the name of the game.
Well, I told Jon, I think people would rather have one of his drawings than a medal.
So that's what they did! And 1st place male and female got the print on hand-made paper.
I was nowhere close to placing, but I have to admit that's another reason I ran harder.
All finishers did recieve a smaller print, though, so I'm happy.

This is the only race I've ever run where only one female finished ahead of me, and by not many minutes. But it doesn't mean much. I'm not sure how many people ran, but I think only about 60 finished. So many didn't show, or converted to the half-marathon, so if you compare percentages, the same percentage of women were ahead of me. This race, however, definitely favored us bulldozer-snowplow types. Wow, if only it had been a 50k! I would have kept passing, because I wasn't running low on steam.

My bib number was 69 - which is as close to kinky sex as I'll ever get.


About two weeks ago, my left knee woke me throbbing. The pain went away after poking at it.
Well last night a very similar throbbing bolt of pain woke me up, but this time it went down the back of my left knee and calf. It hit me at lunch too. It feels electrical, so I suspect a pinched nerve somewhere. Maybe it's my sciatic nerve. I'm not sure what to do about it but massage and ignore it. Ibuprofen doesn't usually help with nerve pain, but if tissue swelling is putting pressure on the nerve, then maybe it would help the cause.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Okay, this was the BEST time I have EVER had!!!! How happy and fun???? I was so happy and having so much fun I had to fight back the tears a few times! Can you overdose and die from being so happy?! OMG! Most of the time I was concentrating, but then I'd just be out-of-body and going, "Oh! Oh! Oh! OMG! Oh!" and then the tears would start and I'd, like, think to myself, "Yo - dude, are you, like, bipolar or something? Get a grip." About a third of the way I was commenting on how nice the day was and the woman next to me said, "Yeah, isn't it great?" And I said, "I am so in love with this shit!"
(That was a long, run-on paragraph.)
And it just got better...
I started the race on time and walking/talking with Cassandra. She's often DFL, but she's an awesome freind so I stayed with her the first couple of miles.
This year is supposed to be casual. I don't want to totally slack-off, but I also don't want to kill myself mentally, emotionally, or physically. Maybe next year, but this year I want to have fun.
But the jets were on. The jets got faster. The jets went into afterburn. My body just didn't fade at all. In fact, if the course had been flat, I would have had negative splits. At the 5th aid station (also the 3rd aid station), the guy exclaimed, "Holy crap! You passed like 30 people! And you're in 30th place."
Right after that, we were into some VERY narly snow. It was everything - sugar snow that was like running on ball-bearings and grease, ice, mud, mud-puddles, LOTS of post-holing with sugar snow in the bottom. Your foot would lurch forward, backward, sideways, stick on top and suddenly break through and plunge a foot deeper.
(Am I shouting too much? Sorry.)
Oh! Oh! Oh! I love narly.
I kept telling myself, "Look, this snow is no different than hills - don't fight it. You don't run by pace - you run by effort. Don't fight the snow. Same effort. Same effort. Everyone is dieing in this. I train in this. This is my element!"
Then it started getting rocky. It's got some of the most narly downhill rocks of any course I know. Only the Leadville Marathon compares, as far as I know. I just kept telling myself, "Billy goat legs! Billy goat feet! I'm the Master of Gravity!" I passed several more people along the way.
Finally the finish was in sight - and so was 23rd place! I gradually gained on him. I was definitely going to pass him. I did! And he poured it on - so did I! He jumped into a sprint! So did I! He passed me! So did - uh, well - I sped up, anyways. We were both all the way up on our toes and then I just thought, "Whatever! He spent the whole race ahead of me and the only way I'm going to pass him is if I risk a heart attack." But it was a beautiful finish for both of us.
The RD, John, asked me if it was fun. OH!!! Man I told HIM!

Thank you everyone who wished me luck, both here on the blog and at the Tuesday & Thursday runs!

Okay, I'm calm now.

I do say, I had a rather enjoyable spot of fun.

I hope everyone else out there had at least 1/4 of the fun I had. If you only had that much fun, then maybe you should calm down before you rupture a happy-vein, or something.

FYI: I have to turn on comment moderation because spammers keep posting links on my comments page and I don't always have Internet access to delete them in a timely manner. Sorry for the inconvenience. I'm sure it's temporary.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Last Hard Run During Taper

This year, every time I went running, my throat and sinuses would start to run and fill with mucus, phlegm, etc. A full-on internal assault. I took Sudafed and it worked real well. It's expensive so I looked at the Safeway equivalent and it claimed to have the same amount of the same ingredient. I've never had a problem with generics so I bought two large boxes. The stuff was inert! Even if I took two, there was no help. The problem with my airways has gotten so extremely clogged with fluid running from the membranes of my entire nasal and throat airways that it was hard to get a decent training run and would severely limit my ability to race this year. My sinuses ran so profusely that blowing my nose was good for about 15 to 30 seconds. It was frustrating.
I'm not having trouble with my sinuses when not running. They perfectly normal! As soon as I start to run, though, I'm drowning, coughing, gagging. It's weird.
Finally, I broke down and bought real Sudafed. It works. If I want to breath, I'll have to spend a small fortune on Sudafed regularly - like I already do for NutraJoint.

Had another good run Tuesday evening. Started slow and gradually built speed until I started getting an asthma attack. So I walked it out. It suddenly went away so I went into a full sprint for about 100 yards to finish.

The knee is hanging in there. Some tightness in the left calf. Not good. Been massaging it and stretching but only temporarily helps.

Walking scheduled for the next couple of days. Then I leave for Salida.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Great Run

Wow! Saturday was a great run!
After taking it easy trotting/walking Thursday and walking Friday, I headed out Saturday with the attitude of "let's just see". Started slow and built over the first few miles. I felt so good. I ran another 10 miles at race-pace.
13.2M in 108 minutes.
I felt faster than I was, though. It came out to 8:12 pace. The slower first miles figured in, and I had to walk while gagging on phlegm once, and waiting at traffic lights. Still, I thought it would've been closer to 8:00.

Not that the knee is out of the dark. Taking it easy today. Just because it didn't hurt doesn't mean it's 100%. Lots of massage and bending.
Working on upper body and core too.

After the run, I got diarhea. Not sure why.
I found an uncleaned bottle. Yikes, stuff was growing in it. I cleaned and scrubbed and blasted it with hot anti-bacterial detergent. Then I let it dry. That's the bottle I used during the run.
Then there was the left-over Italian food from Thursday night. It gave me no trouble the first time I ate it, but if anything was reaching its limit when they served it to me, then two days later might have been too much.
Then there's this bug going around - but how would I catch it? Whatever it was was caught, festered, and blew on Saturday. It came on too fast. I just didn't have the opportunity to catch anyone's stuff. But who knows?
Anyways, I drank a quart of saltwater to help flush it out, but it didn't really. It was more pain than fireworks. My gut hurt through the night and the salt water just made me pee four times, but at least I wasn't dehydrated.

Today is another GORGEOUS day! I think I'll walk and bask in the sun.

Friday, March 07, 2008

I am Challenged Individual

The other day I was running along the sidewalk through a neighborhood and out of the corner of my eye I saw a small explosion of feathers. I looked over and saw a perigrine falcon struggling to fly with a full-grown pigeon in it's talons. The kill was about 8 feet away and it landed in a tree 10 feet from me. With such a load, it wasn't going to fly anywhere, so we stood there staring at each other for several seconds.
That was so cool! Who wooda thunk I'd see such a thing in the city?

I've been trying to load up on miles leading into the Salida Marathon a week from now and the Moab 100 three weeks from now. My body has been reliable but I've been increasingly wary. No breaks and lots of mileage, and I was slowing dowwnnnnnnnnn. No speed available, even though my body has felt energetic.
Wednesday night, my left knee woke me up throbbing. I probed it to find out where the epicenter was, but found nothing. But the probing made it stop. Obviously the lack of motion caused a lack of circulation, which caused the pain. The probing massaged it and the pain went away.
This is a sure sign of over-training. So Thursday night, I walked and trotted intermittently for just over 9 miles. That helped. Thursday night I slept okay.
This evening, I walked 5+ miles. I also stood STILL and watched the sunset turn the clouds orange and red. Elizabeth happened to come along for several minutes and share it. That was nice since I haven't seen her in awhile.
Walking is good for circulation, so I may be walking my way all the way up to the Salida Marathon.
I hadn't planned on tapering until Tuesday or Wednesday, but if I don't chill out now, I'll certainly be injured. I've logged over 400 miles, but it won't do me any good if I destroy myself.

The Beth's and Meghan's "no complaining for 21 days challenge" is so easy, but not for me. Every day I fail. I'm not going to let it stop me from trying for 21 days straight. Even if I fail for 21 days straight, I'll keep trying each day. I'm an ultra-runner, so it's not like I'll be quiting. And maybe 21 days won't stop. It seems that even if I fail for 21 days straight, surely by then I will start to habitually think about better ways to think and speak.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Last days of Vacation - Days 5 & 6

Paul's and my last couple of days of vacation were spent dodging storms. Once the rain in Death Valley started, basically there was nowhere in the entire West that was "nice". But all things considered, we threaded the needle and lucked out, mostly.
We drove to the northern part of Zion National Park, but didn't have time for more than a very quick drive that made our jaws drop. It was like a miniature, red Yosemite. I do plan to return to the Bryce/Zion area in the next few years.

We slept on some slickrock west of Green River until 3am, which is when it started snowing.
We drove to the Utah/Colorado border and went for a ten mile run on the Kokapelli trail. We ended up on the cliff overlooking the Colorado River. Even this far north and east, it was mighty big and you could hear it from a thousand feet above.
We stood there in the snow, soaking up the view, looking across to the lonely valley on the other side, wondering on how to get there and camp out in the future.

Then we started to hear a sound - kind of like the sound of the river but it kept growing louder. Then the Zephyer roared by on the tracks below and we jumping up and down like a couple of kids waving. They must've looked up from the dining car at all the desolate wilderness and then seeing us a couple of wild trail runners... More coffee, they must be seeing things. Too early in the morning. Maybe they're a couple of modern Kokapelli's doing their morning dance?
Then we drove to Marble, Colorado. Last Fall, Paul won a night for two at the hotel. It was our only night of lodging the whole vacation, and cost us nothing. Wow, what luxuries: running water, hot water, a microwave, refrigerator, sink, two beds, heat. We'd neglected to bring our running snowshoes so we just packed and left early.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Taking a Break

Okay, I've got so many photos and videos my blog might be locking up your browser. So... A good time to catch up and divert.

I was able to log some decent mileage this week, although it wasn't easy. Last year, because of my stress fracture, I had only logged 77 miles by the end of February. As of today, I have 350 miles. I feel good. The knees aren't perfect, but they've been very reliable if I'm fathful to my stretching.

One month to the Moab 100. I don't intend to race this, but instead to treat the whole thing like a 100-miler clinic. I need experience at those last miles. Last Spring, my 24hr-or-100M walk ended up blistering my feet, then my DNF at Leadville, then my knees gave out at Boulder. Every failure was prudent rather than destroy myself and not be able to train and race, but how can I get experience in the latter miles if I keep quiting? So I plan to cool the competitiveness and just get it done so that I'll have some notes on actual 100-mile events, not 84.1 or 73 or 64.

I found these quotes and thought they were very good so I'm sharing them...

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” - Dr. Suess

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

"Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option” - unknown

Got these from here.

I'm such a klutz, socially. It bothers me but not nearly as much as it used to. I guess I collect others who are not so socially adept. (Sort of like "misery loves company".) If our value as people were determined by how slick we are socially, I guess I would try harder in that area and surround myself with social winners. But since all that matters is what's in our hearts, I'd rather associate with great, nice people, regardless of how slick they are. So very often, the greatest people are outgoing, in spite of being clumsy - and nobody minds because it's such a privilege to know them.
I'm so glad I have the friends I have today - not that they're all clumsy. Some are rather slick - or just slick in certain ways - but all have big hearts and they all make me rich in what counts in life.