LooseCrew-JeffO: April 2008


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

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Climbing with Banshees

Saturday, I drove to Montezuma. In Denver, the wind was raging from the east, which is backwards! In the mountains it was raging fropm the west-northwest like normal.
I had hoped for a day of fast travel, but with the winds raging like banshees, I switched gear at the trailhead. I had full winter gear with ice boots.
The footing was tricky. If I moved too fast I'd get into trouble when I post-holed. There wasn't a lot of post-holing, but just enough to get my attention. I didn't want the extra weight of snowshoes, especially up high on the ice where crampons and ice ax make more sense.
Below treeline, the wind was okay. In fact, the trees weren't blowing around. There was a wind shear-line that began about 100 feet above treeline. Above that line, the wind was possessed! The wind-chill was extreme. Today I have frost-nip on most of my fingers.
It was worth it! The views were fantastic. The air was clean and my sinuses didn't flare up.
The cornices were astounding! I never trust ridges. My rule is to never approach any drop-off on snow. I have to see grass or rocks poking through underfoot. So I sauntered up to a sturdy-looking rock and stood on it. Right next to it, I could see a bright channel that warned me that the rock was actually a point overhanging a cliff, but the cornice all around it hid the cliff. Nice thrill. Nice lateral view of the corniced ridge leading to Morgan Peak. Collier Mountain was the opposite direction behind me.
There was a grand view of Grays & Torreys, plus Argentine Pass. I'm struggling to set the course of a race, but the warm months are spent racing every weekend. Seems I never get a chance to lay eyes on the ground. It's currently under yards of snow, most places. Only the rockiest places are blown clear.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Go Fly a Kite

Here's my Greenland photo.

Sunday, my son and I took advantage of the wind and flew our kite. We had an awesome time!

These kite photos were taken with my iPhone. If there's plenty of light, it does a good job.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Three Essentials for Ultra-Mileage

Yesterday at the party, someone asked me how it's possible for me to run such mileage. It was even suggested that it's genetic.
It's not genetic!
I was able to up my mileage from 10K to, um, 85.92M (or less), because of several factors...

Diet - squirrel food (almonds, walnuts, pecans), Knox NutraJoint powder, fish oil, increased whole foods (apples, field-greens salad, carrots, broccoli, etc.), calcium supplements. Lately, I've eaten lots of meat, but that's unusual. My experience is that my body doesn't need any more protein than a vegetarian diet provides, and my body tends to feel better on a vegetarian diet. Protein isn't as important as vitamins and minerals.
Recent tests have shown that highly concentrated, processed vitamins (especially E and A) may actually be toxic and have shown to shorten a person's life. If you take vitamins, it needs to be regular 100%-or-less RDA amounts with a meal - never on an empty stomach or washed down with coffee. Stay away from mega-dose 1000mg vitamin C or similar products.
I don't have a grain preference. I shy away from white rice and white bread, but otherwise I eat them all. I think fruit and veggies are more important than grains.

Mileage - While many say you don't have to run further than 25 miles to train for a 100-miler, and more isn't necessarily better, you still can't cheat the fact that you have to run a LOT! Some run by mileage alone, but most run by time. Elites run twice or three times a day. I prefer to get it out of the way by running once, and I prefer running later, not in the morning. Although you can "warm up" quickly, warming up is like a three-step process. My body only requires a mile to warm up to level 1. It requires 3-4 miles to get thoroughly warmed up to level 2. In order to be warmed up to level 3, it seems to require hours, not miles. So I'm better off not running until I've been awake for a few hours and moving around the whole time. And that's when I'm least likely to experience injury - when I'm thoroughly warmed up on all three levels. That's why I'd rather run after work.

Stretching - Don't leave out anything. Stretch every muscle in your feet, legs, butt, abs, back. Hold every stretch for at least 20 full seconds. Yoga is awesome, but be careful not to try to follow people who are more limber than you. Don't tweak your ligaments unnecessarily and cause injury. Whether conventional stretches or Yoga, many studies have shown that those who stretch have more injuries than those who don't. This isn't because stretching is bad for you, it's because they're done incorrectly. Snapping your tissues to maximum stretch - suddenly - is dangerous.
It should go without saying that if a muscle is already torn, stretching it beyond the natural range is going to aggravate it. Stressed or damaged tissues should be moved and massaged as much as you can without further damage. This will cause it to heal several times faster and with less scarring.
Stretching should be slow and gradual. It's not something to rush through. It's those who rush through that tend to pull the hardest, too - as if stretching too far will make up for the lack of time spent.

And the most important advice - Do as I say, not as I do!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Greenland Report

Derek and Jessica know how to put on a great race!

I ate plenty for breakfast, but I didn't have enough time to warm up before the race. There were tons of people and the porta-potty lines weren't moving, so I went back to my car a peed on the ground.

The race started two minutes late and I ended up starting moderately fast.
This race is 4 laps on rolling grasslands, with occasional oak shrub. The wind was significant, but not horrible (until after the race, thank god).
The sharp pain in my left foot was gone. That one scared me more than the right foot because tht pain never stopped, even in my sleep. But that went away Tuesday.
Today, the right foot started hurting me in two spots like last weekend. It was like an ice-pick stabbing my foot. I kept altering my form, and it was manageable. Still, it was severe enough that I wondered if I was getting multiple stress fractures and should maybe convert to the 8-mile or 25K options.
I was just too stubborn. I wanted redemption for Moab and anew 50K PR. My first lap was on-pace.

Jamie Donaldson was volunteering. She is a very impressive person. Not the slightest hint of arrogance, true=blue god person and no BS about her.
She just shattered the Umstead record.
She owns Umstead. She did Badwater last year. She's a star and you'd never know it to meet her. She's very inspiring not just for running but for being grounded and level. And she does all this juggling family.

Anyway, I was feeling better the second lap, but still fighting the pain in my foot. I could tell I was not quite on-pace, but I kept telling myself to keep pushing.
I nagged myself, "I swear if you don't hurt like hell when you're done and you can run just fine tomorrow..." Oh, I felt bad about Moab. My son reminded me my lungs at Moab were full of foam bubbles that triggering coughing fits. So, okay I was jacked-up, but I should have tried to go one more lap!
At Greenland, I kept thinking how I'd rather hurt in the short-term than lose sleep each night nagging myself about poor performance.

After 12 miles, my foot stopped hurting. It started again at mile 27, but for half the race, I was cruising.
But my pace was falling off still, so I decided to go for goal 2: under 5 hours.

Yesterday, I ate lunch at a Pizza Hut buffet. I ate like a pig. Something there made my stomach gurgle ever since lunch Friday. It wasn't a severe gurgle, but I had to use the bathroom twice before the race and once during the race (off in the oaks, which didn't help my time), and my gut cramped and gurgled all through the race. In fact, the intestines were urging me to DNF as much as my foot, but I just dealt with it.
I didn't make my 5-hr goal either. The last four miles were ugly.
Final 5:08:32
That's a Greenland 50K best for me. Last year I did it in 5:21, so after a dismal week of doldrums, and a painful foot, and the worst diarrhea I've had in probably 10 years, I still managed to shave 13 minutes off.
So mixed bag. I admit trying to do a 50K PR on this course was a lofty goal. My PR was at Goblin Valley at lower altitude and virtually no real climbing. But I can try, right?
I do think I should have done it in sub-5hr, but I guess I was very lucky after this sketchy week that my legs cooperated at all!
I had a blast!
Although, I had to stay for hours afterwards to visit the porta-potties about six more times.
My gut is finally settled. It's not 100%, but it's not cramping anymore.
Man, if it isn't one thing it's another!

Afterwards, I went to Darice's party. She really knows how to throw a party. Great food, great people, great house. And she let me take a shower! (Not that I needed one.) I will be very perturbed if she doesn't hook up with a very impressive guy. They broke the mold when they made her.

I am going to sleep well tonight!!!!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ready or Not...

Interesting week, with my legs so wasted.
I'm not bouncing back but improvement is happening.
I took Wednesday off.
Thursday night is trail running night with the Denver Trail Runners. The muscles on my legs, especially my left leg, were sore and hurt every time they jiggled. It's not the kind of soreness you get from working out too much. It's an odd sort of pain. My left foot didn't hurt particularly, so that's better. Some of the muscle pain may be because my legs have felt like wood, and massaging them takes a great deal of strength. I may have caused some bruising, but I have to kneed out the stiffness.

Tomorrow is the Greenland 50K. I can only hope my legs are there for me. I'll show up and have a good time, even if I have to quit or convert to the 8-mile or 25K. I can volunteer after that.
Or maybe a miracle will have me owning a new 50K PR?

I'll do my best.
They sold-out. 500 runners. I don't think they've ever filled their limit before.
The trail will be crowded, so a PR pace will be challenging the first lap. As soon as the 8-milers are gone, things will settle down.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Busted Buster

No, I'm not referring to myself and my sore foot.
I'm talking about Buster Martin, alleged 101 year old man, and first over 100 to complete a marathon - or not.
Sorry if you've heard this story a million times - I don't have a TV, so I don't know if this is old news.
Some say he's 94 and some say he's 101. Since there's virtually no records from the life he tells, no one can tell for sure. But however old he is, he did indeed finish the London Marathon.

Do you have your own Wiki?
Buster Martin wiki

Oldest marathoner - ever - or maybe not

They aren't saying he ISN'T 101, only that it's unverifiable.

The oldest verifiable marathon finisher was Dimitrion Yordanidis, 98, in Athens in 1976.

As for my foot, it is feeling better, and it's looking good for Saturday's race. I'll have to play it by ear, but I would like a redemptive 50K PR. The Greenland course is tougher than the Goblin course I did my 4:46 record on, and I am exhausted, but there's a slight chance I can pull this off. I'm stretching and massaging vigorously and often.

Currently it's snowing, and there's good weather forecast.

Monday, April 14, 2008


My log is suddenly filled with, "Tired & sore." "Very tired." "Very, very tired."
I've recently had sharp pain in my right foot, but then they go away, come back, go away - it's been a managable issue. I change my stride and form and I keep going. Then yesterday the same pain started in the left foot, but it refuses to be managed.
I was so extremely beat after yesterday's 18M+ run. My muscles are sore as if I've run a race. I almost felt ill. I slept deeply and felt like a train wreck this morning.
I've had to take more time stretching. My muscles are so tight, when I sit on the floor with my legs straight in front of me, I can initially only get my palms to my kneecaps! After considerable relaxation and reaching, I finally get my palms wrapped around my toes. Even though I hold this stretch for a minute, my muscles tighten back up again as soon as I'm done.
This is overtraining. The timing is okay, I guess. I have a 50K coming up on Saturday, so I'll be taking it easier than usual this week.
This body is on the verge of disintegration.
Maybe after a few days of slacking, I can get that good feeling back.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Dewey Bridge is No More!

At work, I was delivering and showing our company political advocate his new Dell Latitude XT (don't buy one!) He's a multi-sport athlete who goes to Moab even more than I do. So he changes the subject and says, "Did you hear the Dewey Bridge burned down?"
"No way! I was just there!" (Why do we say that?)
My photos were taken 6 days before it burned, but my friend had been there the day before. So it was quite a shock. We had each stopped to pay homage.
Wow, if I hadn't stopped... I didn't really have enough time - not for spending as much time in Arches National Park, not for the Dewey Bridge, not for the Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs or the long conversations I had with Kelly-from-Cedar Ridge. But I was bound and determined on that trip to take the time to experience everything along the way, even if it meant getting home at 1:30am Monday morning and had to be at work at 8am.
Running races, rushing to and from far off places, I usually arrive late, sleep little, and rush home, only wishing I had time to see all the wonders along the way. Now I'm so very glad I stopped to smell the roses.

A kid was playing with matches, and the bridge builders, in all their wisdom, soaked the bridge in creosote. So basically the bridge was made of fire-starter! Once the fire started, there was no putting it out, and it burned hot.

Kid Playing with Matches...

UltraRob's Adventures...

There is only a slight chance it will ever get rebuilt. It is the general consensus that the steel is all ruined by heat. Since the steel is the most expensive, complicated, and difficult part of construction, this is the crux of a new bridge. Not to mention, if the entire structure has to be scrapped and replaced by new material, where's the history? Like Bent's Fort, and some other places, it's just a facsimile.

Since the bridge would no longer be commissioned to carry vehicles and cattle herds, maybe it would be okay to rebuild it without replacing all the steel? There are barriers at each end anyways. Only pedestrians and bikes can manage to get onto it. So it doesn't have to be nearly as strong. Replace all the lower steel rope, and add a couple of steel rope strands to the suspension on each side. Doesn't have to be a complete redo.
The original wood was heavier, and soaked in creosote, so new wood treated with copper would probably be lighter. I think a rebuild with most of the current steel is worth it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ben Sanders

My friend, DJ, sent this to me.
Ben Sanders on Ted.com
So maybe being a nutter is a healthy bloke to be?

As for Moab, since I was able to run the next two days in a row, I obviously wasn't as used-up as I thought I was. Hence, I feel a bit ashamed of the failure.
I wasn't in danger of any apparent injuries. It's just that I did the simple math; I was moving slower (and still decellerating) than I needed in order to finish before the cutoff.
I don't know what I need to do. If I ever get into that situation again, I hope to have a fistful of caffiene pills. Then I plan to stuff my pack with food and half a gallon of water. Maybe if I eat while I stagger, I'll get my legs back? It seems like I ate enough, but maybe not? I wasn't hungry afterwards. There was no pig-out from depletion. I just don't know what else to try.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Arches Photos

Today's photos are from the day after Moab when I went to Arches National Park.

After Moab, my electronic scale said I was 20 years old. That's the youngest yet. It also said I was down to 162 lbs. This morning, I weighed in at 161 lbs. I haven't been that light in probably 20 years - but I can't remember for sure, it's been so very long. I'm not even trying to lose weight.

My lungs and sinuses continue to deteriorate. I guess I'll have to go to a doctor. I'm afraid of being diagnosed with asthma. Currently I'm not medically diagnosed, so the insurance companies can't hassle me about it. If I ever become self-employed again, they'll want my medical records, and then they'll charge me extra, or they'll refuse to insure me! So I've had plenty of reasons not to get diagnosed.
There's no mistaking an asthma attack. When you have one, and it turns you purple, and it lasts for 30 minutes, you'd have to be a moron not to be able to figure it out. That's what happened when I was 7 or 8 years old. Since then, I've had two more attacks. One was when my son was about 3 and rode his bike off from home and I went racing around the neighborhood looking for him in a panic. The other was at the 10-mile Silent Trails race in Wyoming.
So it's so rare and minor, seizures aren't the problem. The problem is that along with the risk of seizure comes lots of congestion.

As for the sinuses, I don't know why my nose is gushing every time I run. Sunday I ran with a bandanna in my hand the whole way. That's the way I'll have to do it from now on.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Salida Run

I drove to Salida Saturday night and slept in the back of my CR-V. (Where else would I sleep? - oh yeah - the ground.)
There was a nasty winter storm stuck on the entire Continental Divide. I swear, the wind was raging but the storm didn't budge.
And Leadville was socked into it. Leadville has nowhere else to shove the snow. The ice on the streets is a real problem. Residents are driving a few miles south to get out of the storm. The mountain ranges have kept the storms over the Divide and Leadville for the past month, and at the same time have left the Buena Vista and Salida southern part of the valley unscathed.

The run was just a bunch of trail runners who love to run, and don't care that the trail markings are maybe not where you might want them, and there's no aid stations. Everyone has to be back-country proficient. "Lost" should onlly mean you aren't on the run's intended course. We're each required to be savvy enough to never be in danger of being lost in the wilderness, unable to find our way back to Salida.

The run began late - about 8:50am - and ended whenever we got back. For me that was about 12:50? I already don't remember.
The course was 17.7 miles of the most awesome single-track, double-track, and no-track bushwacking you ever saw. Logs to jump over, rocks, watch those tree branches there's so many across the trail. If you're looking down and not paying attention you could get your noggin cracked. There were stretches where you had o just plow through the branches. There's a flase crater that we do an up-and-back on. not volcanic but just the weird way the rock is. The weather threatened a winter storm with a strong wind, but most of the course was protected from that.

All the legends were there, and we had pot-luck afterwards. People from Run Rabbit Run, Hard Rock, Leadville's races, Collegiate Peaks 50 in Buena Vista, ...
To aviod any possibility of confrontation with the Nat'l Forest Service, I won't mention names.

Apparently there's so much Microsoft Windows work to do in Salida, the five compitent guys servicing Salida can't keep up. They have a 3-5 day backlog. So I could move there and be instantly self-employed. But I'd still take a cut in pay, and definitely benefits. Nope, I need to wait until my son is graduated from High School before I take my life back completely. Even with all the running I do, I'm still beholden to my fatherly duties ahead of everything else.

A very fun weekend.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Moab Report (finally!)

Yes, I'm frickin' BUSY!!!!
I still haven't fixed my flat tire (story behind that.)

Got plenty of sleep the week before the race, plus Thursday night was great with a late Friday morning rise without alarm clock.

I drove out Friday morning before the race. Lunch was at Frisco, CO, but then straight on to Moab. I had plenty of time to find the race start and talk to Reed, Glen, and Alec.

I didn't go to bed all that early. I rented the DVD "Mist" and watched the beginning on my laptop. I still got a goo solid 6-7 hours of sleep.

I wasn't really very prepared. I hadn't taken this race seriously. i said it was a 100-mile training clinic. Still, things went smoothly until the night gear switch which was a total cluster-phuk for me. I was speaking Belgian, and hoping I wasn't offending anyone for speaking in tongues. But then I was finally gone with all the proper gear.

This course is beautiful. The views from the course are incredible the way only the Moab area can create them, and the course itself is equally beautiful.
You start down a hard road, then into sand and packed dirt for the first climb. Then you drop like a rock for a short ways. The footing is good, but it's slanted some and there's a precarious drop on the right that could rough you up if your feet slipped. But with good traction, it was okay.
Down into a mostly dry drainage, through some rocks, up into sand. The sand got deep - the kind you shouldn't fight. Then up onto slickrock.
Slickrock isn't slick. It isn't flat. On the one-hand, the footing and traction is normally fantastic. normally. There are cracks, some parts with rocks strewn about, some pits that take you by surprise, and of course, downhills pound your feet to hell. I hear it's harder than concrete. I'm not used to that, but the Moab Red Hot 50K+ did help warn me.
You climb to 486ft above the low spot.
I heard there's a 430ft climb. This may have been true of a previous course? I don't know. All I know is I plotted it out and I got 626ft. Times 18.6 loops makes it approximately 11,580ft. That's way more than they claimed, but much less than the LT100, so I figure it's good training no matter what it is.
I walked all the uphills and ran all the downhills - flats optional, but the sand was SWEET! Yes, after climbing on slickrock for miles, then running down, hitting the road with an inch or so of sand was BLISS! And this lasted all the way back to the aid station. The sand reeled us in.
Yes, there was pretty much only one aid station - the start/finish.
They did, however, have an unmanned water stop a couple of miles from home station.
After the slickrock, the road dropped into a creek. On the right, you can see an incredible shear-line caused by dramatically wind-worn, rounded sculpting, with bowls. Then a faultline sheared a bowl and everything else so clean the cliff is almost totally flat! And it rose up several hundred feet!
The course meandres through the creekbed, then back to a nice sandy road.
The home station had everything, with a revolving menu. Potatoes in a chicken soup, pasta, PBJ wraps, bananas, and sometimes other things or request. Reed knows how to treat ultra runners!
Here's my official lap splits:
Lap 1 - 1:10
Lap 2 - 1:10
Lap 3 - 1:10
Lap 4 - 1:10
Lap 5 - 1:10
Lap 6 - 1:09
Lap 7 - 1:14
Lap 8 - 1:20
Lap 9 - 1:24
Lap 10 - 1:18
Lap 11 - 1:25
Lap 12 - 1:49
Lap 13 - 1:35
Lap 14 - 1:53
Lap 15 - 1:48
Lap 16 - 2:45
See how consistent I was the first 7 laps? And these splits tell the story - struggling to maintain, not so bad, first 10 looking good, okay 11 not so bad...
Oh, the agony.
My lungs filled with fluid. Anyone near me could hear the bubbles in my lungs and my cough was relentless. My nose gushed so profusely that I didn't want anyone around me. I was a noise-factory of blowing, coughing (sometimes into a convulsive fit that had me doubled over), farting, belching. Hey, if you don't know me and you were out on the course, I was that noisy guy!
A woman looked to be having problems around 50 miles. I asked if she was okay. She responded, "I'm okay - how are YOU? You sound terrible!"
I gasped for air, pursing my lips on exhale to force more air into my lung's alveoli.
But I figured I could keep it up. My legs were STRONG! Several people said so, and my times for the first half of the race were good and steady.

I never felt nauseous, but my stomach did grow slightly particular. I was able to eat anything, and there was never any indigestion.
My knee issues that started in Leadville and DNF'd me at Boulder were GONE! Awesome!
The hydration was nailed - the electrolytes were nailed. I consumed plenty of callories - but enough? Does anyone consume enough calories in a 100? We burn fat. I have enough fat to run 500 miles.

So why did I nearly collapse during that last lap? Why did I DNF at 85.92 miles?
That's covered next...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Oregon Checkerboard

Monday evening I was soaking in Glenwood Hot Springs when a charming woman, Kelly from Cedar Ridge, sat beside me. She works for the US Forest Service and deals with timber sales. Apparently, timber is done differently in Oregon because of the way land was divied up back when the railroad got involved.
Maybe I have some of my "facts" wrong - so please correct me if you see anything wrong.
A large Indian reservation was stolen outright so that the railroads, timber companies, and such go do what they wanted. A recurring theme has been for the government to treat Native Americans like rats. Reservations were lands deemed worthless. If anything of value was discovered, then some pretense would be concocted to move the reservation or take it outright.
For some strange reason, the land in Oregon got divied up in checkerboard patches. Maybe the government simply gridded it and opened it up for bidding? The result was non-contiguous land ownership between companies. So the result of that checkerboard ownership is a checkerboard of clearcuts.
I need to research this further.