Mt. Falcon Wednesday, we did time-trials. This is a 2.67M switchbacked course up Mt. Falcon. This course shows how bad I am at climbing. I pushed so hard I was drooling and spitting like a horse about to die. At least I managed to shave 47 seconds off my record. So I'm still getting faster as I get older.
On Tuesday, I started using albuterol. This has a noticable benefit for my lungs, but I'm obviously still sucking for air. There's no way around that. But at least I'm out of breath because I pushed hard, not because I'm suffocating. The surprise is that the biggest difference is that my gushing sinuses quit! So the sinuses were directly related to my exercise-induced asthma, or albuterol fixes vaso-motor problems. I still have to occasionally blow, but not much at all. I'm not sure how often to use albuterol during ultras. I'll figure out something. Also, I really can't tell yet if this will help with my lungs filling with foaming fluids.
Steamboat Springs Marathon is Sunday. I'm going to attempt to shave a whopping 12 minutes off my marathon PR to qualify for Boston. Probably a stupid dream, but I'm a stupid guy! I can try, right?!
DTR had a great run on South Table Mtn last night. Afterwards was a great party! I love my peeps! Life is good!
There I was thinking the entire 3-day weekend was blown by illness. My son slept all through Saturday. Then my son decided at 2pm Sunday that he was well enough to go camping. So we loaded up and headed out. We ate poisonous fatty junk at Wild Bill's in Leadville, then headed towards Winfield. About a quarter-mile from Winfield, the U.S.F.S. had a "Road Closed" barrier blocking the road. (They obviously forgot to have their people call my people and ask if that was okay.) So we backtracked and found another place to camp. With the sun getting low, and my son commiting wilssrness-blasphemy by playing his iPod, I grabbed my shovel and saw and ran to Sheep Gulch and then halfway up towards Hope Pass. I did some shovelling and then ran back to camp. It wasn't much running, but it was altitude.
My son and I found a huge pit and fire ring, but we just made a little fire. Then we sat around the fire for hours making up a new TV series (listen up Hollywood!) I read a book years ago and thought it could be re-written for a TV show, so my son and I verbally made the entire first and second seasons. A guy goes into the mountains and almost dies from a snake bite. As his body was fighting off the sanke venom, the world dies from a massive viral outbreak. Because his immune system was in hyperdrive, he survives the virus. He comes back to a decimated city. He appears to be the only survivor. There are Nat'l Guard vehicles around, but even the guardsmen are dead. Each episode of the first season is a new character. Slowly, but surely, a handful of survivors unite. All survivors have the same story. They each were fighting off a virus or other disease when the epidemic happened. The second season develops the storyline better. It was a great way to sit around the campfire. We had a blast and went to bed after 11pm. The next morning, we hiked up Sheep Gulch again. My son got to see the horribly steep trail and exclaimed, "You had to do this after running 50 miles?" I shoveled some more snow and sawed some trees laying across the trail. We drove back to Denver during lunchtime, so we never had to deal with traffic jams from returning vacationers. It was a great, quick get-away.
It's a beautiful Memorial Day weekend. I had three different sets of plans that were materializing, so I was definitely going to do something. But then I did nothing!!!! Except I'm doing lots of sleeping. I ended up wanting to go camping with my son. Then I got sick on Tuesday, and the crud still isn't completely gone from my system. My son got sick Thursday evening and slept nearly all day yesterday (Sat.). So here I sit at Kaladi's Coffee with nothing to report! I am, however, finally getting some work done on a little project of mine. It might bore everyone if I put it together wrong. Definitely, it will bore non-trial-running readers. I'm documenting the 7-mile Red Rocks loop that starts near the amphitheater, crosses to the Dakota "Hogback" Ridge, grinds you up as you head north, and then spits you out at Matthews-Winters Park, then up to the Morrison Slide. The hard part is cutting out photos. This trail is so twisty, windy, ridiculously rugged that I ran out of room on my camera's SD memory card with 81 photos and not even half-done (should have lowered the resolution). It dawned on me that if I don't cut photos, then one photo after another of jagged trail will cause readers' minds to just fritter-out. So the challenge is to have enough photos to give an accurate idea without overloading you.
It was this very same Red Rocks trail that is half-responsible for my love of trail-running (the other being running down after climbing 14'ers).
I have a cold. It's nothing severe, just the normal runny nose, congestion, itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, etc. i worked two hours Wednesday and then went home sick. Today (Thursday), I'm taking the day off. I'll probably go to work Friday. I went to the doctor. My Dr. Morrison is one of the sharpest doctors in the who Denver metro area. Several years ago, he teamed with another brilliant doctor, Dr. Mennick. Both these people are so freakin' smart that you feel like you're in the presence of super-brains. Morrison is in such high that I rarely get to see him. That's okay. Mennick is not only smart but one of the most startlingly beautiful women on Earth (not that I noticed, mind you, it's just a theory of mine since my blood pressure is always elevated around her).
Anyways, she says the "seizure I had when I was young and almost suffocated was nothing more than a severe incident of getting the wind knocked out of me. I've had previous doctors say that if it had been nothing but getting the wind knocked out of me, i would have gotten gradually better immediately, and symptoms would have ended within 5-10 minutes. But I barely managed to stay conscious and it took 30 minutes to start breathing again halfway normal. Mennick says if it had been a "seizure", I wouldn't have remained conscious. So this most recent prognosis... - I don't have classical bronchial or tracheal asthma. I have exercise-induced asthma, and have had it ever since I lived in Kansas 20+ years ago. Even in Kansas, moderate exertions in dry, frigid air caused severe lung issues. But ultra-running has made it progress suddenly worse in the past year. - There are numerous conditions that will cause identical symptoms of bubbling fluid in the lungs. High Altitude Pulmonary Edema is one of them, Exercise-Induced Asthma is another, and there are actually many more Mennick didn't mention but did allude to. Suffice it to say that "many stresses" may cause bubbling fluid build-up in the lungs.
Seattle Mountaineers published several books. They say that HAPE is caused by climbing more than 2000 feet in one day. Mountaineers generally operate above 8000 feet, and HAPE usually doesn't bother most people below that. It depends on the person, though. Some people have suffered from HAPE as low as 6000 feet. Some individuals mistakenly believe you can only get HAPE at the most extreme altitudes like 15,000+ feet. They should do more research.
Fact is, the more different types of stresses you suffer from, the more likely you are to have problems. And not everyone is the same, so some will suffer from some stresses when others won't. I sometimes over-hear some narrow-minded people say that, because they don't suffer from something, no one else could either. If that logic held up, then I guess no one can get cancer because I haven't ever had it! I now have an ibuterol inhaler. I have high hopes for this.
Mennick used many $30-words that I couldn't remember. I did get this one, though...
Rhinitis, vasomotor: Inflammation of the nose (rhinitis) due to abnormal neuronal (nerve) control of the blood vessels in the nose. Vasomotor rhinitis is not allergic rhinitis.
This relates to my chronic runny nose that started this year. When I'm not running, neither is my nose. As soon as I start running, my nose gushes. It takes an hour or two for the runny nose to stop after workouts. Mennick gave me a sample of steroid nasal spray. I go back in a month for a follow-up visit to see how the ibuterol and Nasonex work.
Except for Tuesday, I haven't been running. This cold has knocked me off my feet, and my lungs feel inflamed. OTC cold remedies seem to be keeping the congestion in check, so I'm not so bad, but my head is buzzing and I'm dizzy. I'm getting tons of rest, whether I like it or not.
It was said that Kyle Skaggs broke the record by one minute, but that's not accurate. The course is much harder this year, so there's no comparison. Kyle's record TOTALLY blows away his old record!
I've never been a super-athlete. I ran the quarter mile in one minute flat. And I still get upset when I don't do better, as if I'm taking my ability to run ultras for granted. But it sometimes boggles my mind - how does the human body do this? My body just keeps putting out energy when it was supposed have stopped miles and hours ago. And people like Kyle do it so very fast. Just what IS the limit?
I had some hydration issues that slowed me down, but I've gradually been hearing about other issues that people had. Some DNF'd because it was all so beyond extreme. Others kept going in spite, like Olga. On the one hand I feel lucky my run was fairly uneventful, but on the other, I scold myself for not having done better, since I have no excuses (how's that for typical type-A?)
When rounding a turn with a splintered tree trunk, I didn't quite clear it. A piece of wood sliced my thigh so barely that the blood scabbed over black, but nothing ran down. That was close!
Then coming down Guaje Ridge early in the race, my sprained left ankle started hurting enough to make me limp and slow down. But the pain mysteriously vanished soon after under all the endorphins. My nose started bleeding slightly from a sinus infection. about the same time. Issues with my sinuses are not improving. My lungs totally fill with so much fluid, that then foams up and you can even hear it - it sounds like bubbles in my lungs, it feels like bubbles in my lungs, there's so much fluid coating my lung linings that I can barely take advantage of my high-altitude lungs. I can't get oxygen. Coming down from Pipeline, when I fell, I gashed a knuckle. The thigh cut was not nearly as bad as it looked, but the opposite was true of my knuckle. It bled. I lost a nice chunk of flesh with it. I lucked out late in the race, though. When I go down really steep stuff, I habitually grab branched of trees and bushes, but I don't grip. They just slide through my fingers unless I slip and need a brake or something to steady me. Only there were these bushes with big vicious thorns on them. I wrapped my hand around and barely realize in time.
At home Monday morning, my electronic bathroom scale said I was still about 163lbs, but for the first time, it said I was a teenager again - 19. Dude! I could get drafted!
Tonight, I ran hard around Wash Park. I didn't feel like running hard, it's just that I feel like a race isn't over until I've gone back to work on time, all day, and attend my Tuesday evening runs. If I don't, I'm wimping out. Okat, I don't have to after 100, but certainly after shorter stuff. My quads are screaming again, and my lungs are jacked again. I think I have a cold, but when you know you have a nasal infection, and you're pretty healthy, it's hard to tell when you're really sick. I keep sneezing, my eyes are runny, my nose is running, but I had a decent run tonight.
I wasn't going to, but I took Friday off to drive down. I'm very glad I did. The spaghetti dinner was worth it. Okay, not stellar food, but worth it for a few reasons - it helped me to change gears from working/regular life to trail running, I got to touch base with several of my friends and see what talents were there, and I got some idea what I was in for.
I'm way too busy trying to fit in mileage. Time spent reading magazines, going to websites, is time subtracted from training. I don't know the names of many of the people I saw. I only know that they look like ultra stars, and I've seen then at many events. I will have to scope out the names on the results. Kyle Skaggs won in 8:08 (new JMT50 record?). The first time I saw him, he was pacing Tony Krupicka over Hope Pass. I met Ryan Cooper again. Very nice guy. We met at the Boulder 100 last year. For awhile, Jamie Donaldson, Ryan, and I ran together. And I finally met Olga V! She was almost swarmed (like bugs around a porch light). Shanna Armstrong kept us laughing. I met Vince, a doctor from Texas, Arron, and Jerry. Jerry knew John Marini, the man who died at the Collegiate Peaks run. He ran with him a couple of times a year, and he said John organized a Rim-To-Rim-To-Rim run one year for about 20 people. John was a very nice guy who kept involved. I probably never ran into him because John only did one 50K, not sure how many marathons, but mostly half and shorter. I digress... I looked at the Google Earth KML file, so I had some idea what the course was like in macro, but not in detail. I had no idea they'd changed the course, either. This is how I set my goals: look at last year's times. I tend to fall in the 20% to 30% from the lead. That had me finishing in 11:10, with a dream of sub-11 to push for. But I wasn't sure because I knew a lot of the runners I've run even with who finished in about 12 last year. So that spread it out to a wild 11-12 hours. I just set it in my mind: push a tiny bit harder than Collegiate Peaks, and I definitely don't want to be out there for nearly 12 hours! Get it over with!
What I didn't know until Paul G told me at the finish, is that they changed the course! Last year's stats were meaningless! I'm kind of glad I didn't know what I was in for. The course was so sadistically radical that you have to see it to believe it... And I brought my camera so you can see most of the fun. I forgot to take two very important photos. Both were two of the absurd vertical drops. You drop so steeply, it is quite possible to cartwheel if you fell. I think it possible that MOST of the runners gave a bit of blood on the first descent, and blew out whatever may have been left of their quads on the second. One runner got significantly injured, but I don't know who, where, or how. Let's just say this trail wasn't for the faint of heart. We started in the dark at 5am. I was told that 153 50-milers started. I guarantee not nearly that many finished! And I also guarantee that it's no shame to DNF this race because the danger of injury and the toughness combine to give you all sorts of "sound logical reasons" to stop while you're still in one piece. But of course, I'm not logical or reasonable, so I LOVE sadistic courses!
We dropped down into a canyon and then climbed Guaje Ridge, which was devastated by fire a few years ago.
Looking down Guaje Ridge towards Los Alamos.
Climb the ladder - that's right, the ladder is part of the course.
Betsy Kalmeyer heading up Caballo Peak. I can't emphasize enough just how many downed trees we had to climb over. There were a few spots where there were clumps of four or more trees clustered in one fall. They did absolutely outstanding work clearing the course with chainsaws, but here were just too many. And it added more character to the course, so I loved it. Betsy at the turn-around at the Caballo summit. You gotta love volunteers. They sit and stand for hours - HOURS - in all kinds of weather. But look at this photo. He was calling out, "Turn around at the small tree!" There are three trees in this photo. Which one is the "small" tree? If you guessed the little one on the right, well, that's not the one he meant. He meant medium-sized tree on the left. Not a big deal, but confusing. I lost count, but figured I was approximately 31st place at the top of Caballo. Downhill! I love my downhill billy-goat legs! Yeehah! What a wild ride down! I may not climb well, but I fly downhill with the best of them. Heading up the ridge towards the Pipeline aid station. Here's where i missed a photo of the drop-off down from Pipeline. Pipeline is hte most significant aid station. I filled a tiny stuff-sack with food. I had an orange wedge. On the way down, I wiped-out and the bag was in my hand. The worst casualty was the orange got turned into orange-juice, inside and outside the bag. I had joked in the aid station, "All these cookies are organic, right?" Well, during the fall, dirt and granules of rock got inside. So the cookies ended up being organic after all! Incldibg trukey wrap, PBJ, and orange-flavored, soggy pretzels.
In the Caldera. Very muddy road, but some of the easiest running on the course for many miles.
Looking back towards Valle Grande aid station as I started the climb of Cerro Grande. Wow, there was almost no one behind me! Look at the line catching up to me! I suck uphill, so I anticipated getting passed by multiple people. It didn't happen. I could only guess it was my billy-goat feet that held everyone off, because this was an extremely narly climb.
Look at the orange ribbons - that's the course, and it's steep! Narly! There was intermittent snow on top. We climbed a saddle, climbed the ridge, and then it was miles of blessed downhill. No one had passed me on the uphill, and I don't recall EVER being passed downhill, so I felt great! Unfortunately, this was the point I started getting dehydrated, slowly but surely. I guzzled but I couldn't seem to consume fluids as fast as I dried out. It definitely slowed me down. This downhill trail was difficult, though. I stubbed my toes viciously a few times and my arms flailed like a windmill recovering. I almost wiped-out so many times! The Pajarito Canyon aid station was so excellent! They offered me some more sun=block and I accepted. My drop-bag was offered to me. I exchanged my stinky yellow shirt for a clean one. Just as I left, another runner entered. Then another run through burned forest and a grueling climb up a ski run...
Me on Pajarito Mountain I need to buy this photo! The view of the Caldera from Pajarita Mountain. Beautiful! Then it started snowing on me. Depending on where you were, it snowed, or grappeled, or rained. Then there was the horrific straight-down the ski run to the lodge. The map shows a nice zig-zagging trail. Well, it didn't. It went straight down with plenty of mud and snow. Slipping wasn't avoidable. You just had to try to slip gracefull enough not to totally bust your ass. I dislodged a rock that rolled down the mountain keeping pace with me for about a 100 feet! That's how steep it was! Can you say, "Trashed quads?" So what! I love running on trash quads! This was the second photo I didn't take. Maybe I thought there was noway to see the angle from a 2-dimensional photo. I can't remember. I had visions of the time I broke my tailbone coming down Pyramid Peak. It snapped out loud like a dry stick. The lodge iad was also so fantastic. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to shop. As my Camelbak was filled, I downed water, Dr Pepper, Mtn Dew, and water. Then I was heading back towards the Pipeline aid station. After Pipeline aid station, we headed up Pipeline Road. It looks worst han it is, but still, I don't climb well. I looked back to see someone charging up after me. I just thought, "Yeah? Gimme some downhill and I'll teach you a lesson." But the dehydration was sapping my speed. I never got totally dehydrated, but just enough to significantly weaken me. Mile 40. Somewhere between 42 and 44 miles, Paul Grimm passed me. he was the guy coming up Pipeline after me. Suffering from dehydration, there wasn't a lot I could do but keep going. I couldn't go fast, but I could go, and not accept excuses. I was glad to find my legs involuntarily starting to run, even though my mind hadn't said to, even on uphills. This held off most of the other runners. I passed one guy and got passed by one other guy less than a mile from the finish. Oh, the finish! Say, "Ow." Mommy, did my legs ever hurt! Yeah, buddy. They damn well better or I won't let myself hear the end! 12:19:25 I was a bit horrified until Paul told me they added 1000 feet of climbing to the course from previous years. hey, I guess I did okay. Olga and I in front of the Posse Shack. Wow, photos don't do you justice, Olga! Very impressive. There was excellent BBQ and water, but I ate so much on the course that I really wasn't very hungry. I could barely finish the one serving I got. I'm a BBQ-holic. So if I can't finish BBQ, I wasn't hurting for calories.
So I've been waiting to post all my photos, but now I can't find them. My Nikon is stupid. It was hard-wired not to allow a computer's browser, like Finder or Explorer to access the photos directly. It's clunky. Then the SD card started corrupting and locking up every computer I hooked the camera to. Gotta love technology.
It wasn't the most exciting weekend. Very low mileage, very nice scenery. I post-holed for several hours in Geneva Creek trying to find where the trails were, but it was mostly a waste as far as setting a race course. There's too much snow, and yesterday the mountains got over a foot of new snow. I fear Hardrock is going to be canceled. I don't know if they ever cancel SJS50, but there's certainly lots of snow. The days aren't getting warm enough. The melt is extremely slow this year. The 90-day forecast is for Colorado to get less than average precipitation, so maybe, maybe. I hiked up the valley, then up a hillside until I was nearly at treeline, then sat and ate while soaking up the scenery. A wicked storm hugged the Divide not far away. The sky above me was clear, but snowflakes blew in from the other side of the Divide.
Tonight, I ran 7:30-7:40/mile around Wash Park. A nice taper run.
My left ankle feels tweaked, but not real serious. I feel pretty decent leading into this next 50 mile race. Walking tomorrow, packing Thursday - I'll miss the DTR run. I leave Friday morning for Los Alamos.
This week was a bit weird. I took Sunday and Monday off - completely. Tuesday, I ran 6:30 - 6:50 miles around Wash Park for 5+ miles and felt great. Wednesday, I felt Tuesday, but I took it easy and felt okay. Thursday, DTR ran at Lair O' The Bear. I love that trail and wanted to bust lose on it. Instead, I ran 3.5 miles hoping to warm up and feel good but felt worse. I felt Tuesday and Saturday all over again. My left ankle has been hurting since my snowy climb near Montezuma a couple of weeks ago, and it felt worse Thursday. Friday was a slow jog around Wash Park, followed by two laps of walking. So now it's the weekend and I would normally do something long. No way! I have another 50M in a week. Somehow I have to get my left leg (knee, calf, ankle, foot issues) back to normal in only a week. After sleeping in (getting out of bed at 8:30am) I'm now headed to Geneva Creek to scope out the eastern regions of my hoped-for race course. I really don't know how much running or hiking I'll do. At least I'll get some altitude.
Tom Sobel told me last year that if I can't finish the CP50 under 10 hours, I shouldn't think about Leadville. So last year I bonked the CP50 in 10:48, and then proceeded to DNF the LT100. So this year I did the CP50 in 9:30 and my bib# was..... 100. Oh, how I wish I was superstitious! How apocryphal.
John Marini is the runner who died. He's from Highlands Ranch, but the name doesn't ring a bell. I want to find out more.
I was looking at the Jemez Mtn course maps. Ouch. OMG! This is a 50! This terrain looks absolutely incredible. And the course goes out of its way to climb up every bump and down into every canyon. Great training for the SJS50.
Last year, I hoped to finish the Collegiate Peaks 50M in 9:30. My time this year was 9:32:?? I missed it because I missed a turn early in the race and me and another woman went 1/8 mile off-course. That's all it took. So I actually ran 50.1+ miles in 9:32:?? This official time is 1:15 minutes faster than my 50M PR.
Sorry there's no photos. I car-pooled with Todd G (he got 3rd place!) and wanted to pack light. We slept at the KOA campground south of town.
The weather forecasts leading into the weekend kept changing. Rain, wind - but we ended up with perfect weather. I forgot the hydration bladder for my Raid Revo, and chapstick. I used my Ultimate Direction bottle instead and it was fine, but my lips are PARCHED! Collegiate Peaks is two 25M laps. My second lap was nearly as fast as the first! In fact, SOOO unlike last year, I didn't start to feel discomfort until about 45 miles. Okay, I felt discomfort at 5 miles, but I didn't feel any worse at 40 miles. At the 25M turn-around, I was 20th. I finished 16th.
I got to see many of my friends - Bill the veterinarian, Kassandra from Leadville, Anita Fromm, Dan Bryant, Paige from Salida and her husband John (did I remember that right?), Jon from Salida, Reid Dilman from Gemini Adventures (Moab100, Boulder100, Laramie100), and many more. However, the numbers were way down this year. I swear there was half as many runners.
There is some bad news that has me a bit nervous. A 59 year-old guy fell dead on the course. The woman behind him was a physician's assistant and started CPR nearly as soon as he hit the ground, but there was no hope. I don't know who he was, yet. They sa it was a long-time ultra veteran who has done the LT100 and just about every other race int the valley. That means I probably know him. At least he died doing what he loves, with people he loves.
I have another 50M in Los Alamos in two weeks. Gotta get this tired, sore body rested-up.
The San Juan Solstice 50M field was increased to 200 runners for this year! I'm automatically in! Collegiate Peaks 50m tomorrow. Jemez Mtn 50M in two weeks. Not certain my legs are recovered from over-training. All I can say is they feel okay with my short training runs. I'm hoping for a 9:30 finish tomorrow.
It was three years ago that I did my first group run - the Apex Trail with the Denver Trail Runners. There have been a few people that went to one run and the impressions they had were that DTR was elitist, or not very warm, or not welcoming. All I can think is they didn't love running. The thing that unites DTR members is our love of trail running. There are some who love the outdoors, and want to socialize, and they sort of like running, but not really, but they think they should cuz they think they need to lose weight... Some of them might run with us once, or for a month. Others are trolling for mates. I have nothing against ulterior motives, but if you lack a serious love of running trails, then you tend to be less satsfied by DTR. My first run, I remember thinking and saying how great it is to find a whole group of people whole love to run trails! I didn't expect anyone to coddle me or pay me extra attention. I was extatic to be running trails and to have found people like me to do it with!
A month or so later, because they ran at Wash Park near home, I joined the Rocky Mtn Road Runners. DTR actually is an offshoot of RMRR, so many people are members of each club.
I've never been a "joiner". I'm a lone wolf. But too much time with just your own thoughts is generally a very unhealthy situation. I didn't want to hang out with normal people, though, because I can't relate to them. When I'm surrounded by people I can't relate to, I'm unable to socialize; there's no common interests to converse about. I'm not into running on pavement or in cities, but my situation doesn't afford me much choice. If I'm going to run pavement with anyone, there's no better people than the RMRR. When surrounded by these people at their races or BBQ's, a part of my brain keeps asking, "How is it possible for there to be this many outragously nice people - and all in one place? Boggles the mind. And after three years, I still haven't gotten used to it. These are the most extraordinary-ordinary people, and my dumb luck has allowed me to find them and mingle with them.
Saturday is the Collegiate Peaks 50M. Hopefully my legs are ready.