LooseCrew-JeffO: August 2008


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

Sunday, August 31, 2008


No, G&T doesn't stand for gin and tonic - it means Grays and Torreys. These two fourteeners have been a 1-3 time per year training run for me. It's 14 miles and 5050 feet of climbing.
I tried, but honestly it was more like a 95% effort. It showed. My PR is 3:56, but today I did it in 4:02. Six minutes isn't much, but I was more interested in a steady performance and then, because my memory was working unusually well today, I remembered my times at certain landmarks. Now they're written down. The next time I'll know exactly how I'm doing and how much harder I need to push to save more time off.
It was still a great workout. When I was done, my endorphins were pumping in overdrive. What an awesome feeling.
I think a PR would have been possible even at this effort. I thought I'd need more fluids. I brought a 20oz Ultimate direction bottle that I never used. That's a lot of weight to carry for that far and that much climbing. It had to slow me down.

It rained and thundered, but it was mostly a warm rain and it felt good.

I freak people out up there. I catch a lot of comments from people who are struggling to hike their first fourteener from the trailhead at treeline and only going six miles to one summit and back. To them, I'm a freak of nature, parking all the way down at I-70 and running up the road. That effectively doubles the mileage if you climb both peaks.
On the way back, I expected to get passed, but instead I passed a Jeep and an Explorer.
It was a fun day and a good way to bleed-off some frustrations.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Still Here

A week ago, my son and I went camping.
Then Sunday morning, we went to Buena Vista. At Bongo Billy's coffee shop, we ran into Kyle Skaggs, Tony Krupicka, and a friend (I'm so bad remembering names the first time). My son was very excited to meet the fastest two ultra-runners in America - maybe the world.

Then I got to meet Meghan, Leslie, and Keith the day before their TransRockies Run started. They were kind enough to let me scope out their daily maps. It looks like a very fun set of runs. They were a very lively bunch, and Keith was hilarious!

It has not escaped my son's notice that I have a set of "mountain friends" that are very different and exotic from the types of people he's used to seeing in Denver. Hopefully this will have a positive impact on his psyche and the direction of his life. I don't believe in forcing anything on him, but if he gets exposed to many things in life, he can make his own informed choices.

Since the LT100 required much sloower speeds than I'm used to, I haven't needed any time off. I haven't been running as much, but mostly that's because my chores have been neglected, and I wanted to spend more time with my son before school. I've had to catch back up on my financial situation. An insurance payment was not made, so I had to make amends and assure the insurance company that I was both alive and healthy (boy, am I healthy!)

I've also been trying to plan the rest of my season. I've registered for several more races and there's a few more I need to get registered for.

I'm undecided about Javelina and the Rim2Rim2Rim. Arizona is SO far away! I want to see my friend in Arizona, but not sure if her busy schedule will allow it. Being the techie that I am, I hate to do anything unless its done "efficiently". That means for a trip this far, at least one race needs to be in there. So I'm thinking about taking a week and a couple of days off, driving to Grand Junction/Fruita to do the Rim Rock Run (22.5M), then drive to Zion N.P. to run. The next weekend is the Javelina Jundred in McDowell S.P. in Arizona. Then drive back.

Even though I'd be right there in Arizona, I'm not sure my friend could ever get time off to spend with me.

Also, there are a few friends from Colorado who had expressed interest in doing a Rim2Rim2Rim with me at the Grand Canyon. So there might be a group of us traveling down together sharing expenses and driving. I don't want to waste any of the desert sky by sticking a roof over me on any nights, so it would be a cheap and dirty trip - as in stinky trail-trash bodies!

So what's a guy to do? I don't want to drive or fly that way twice - it's too far. Doing Javelina and R2R2R is too much in one trip - or is it? (Is that crazy-talk?) So I'm having a hard time making a decision.

Golly, golly! Isn't life SO HARD?! We're so extremely lucky to live in this country and have the freedom and opportunities that we have.

- My right foot keeps introducing sharp pains now and then. I'm not sure what the right thing is to do - I've been pretty much ignoring them because they come and go. A real injury would hurt full-time, right?
- My left elbow is still healing from my fall during the Leadville Marathon. It didn't hurt that bad at any point - except several times when I put weight on it. If I held my elbows next to each other, the difference was obvious - the left elbow has been noticably more filled-out, and still is. I can feel a difference. There's a groove where there isn't on the other elbow, but it really never hurt very bad. Hell, it took me more than a week to even realize it was more than a simple bruise.
- My many sprains are healed enough that I hardly ever notice.
- The only real problem is my chronic pulmonary edema. It seems to be getting worse. The albuterol and Astelin combo are taking care of the asthma and bizarre naso-motor gushing sinuses. My doctor had me try acetazolimide to see if that would help with my pulmonary edema, but so far nothing has had even the slightest benefit to the problem of pulmonary edema.
Pulmonary edema is usually triggered specifically by...
1) climbing
2) from a high altitude to an even higher altitude
3) through physical exertion - you won't get it from driving to a higher altitude
So as an experiment, I'm going to run the Boulder 100. There's virtually no climbing, it's the same altitude I've been used to living. If my lungs fill with fluid, then it's more complicated than the usual high altitude pulmonary edema. Then I'll have to see a pulmoary specialist to figure out WTF.

Have fun, everyone!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I've had lots to think about since last weekend - more like, lots to deal with psycho-emotionally. I needed this LT100, and I knew I could go 100 miles non-stop, and I still know it. Whether or not I could have completed it in the allowed 30 hours is un-knowable. So much can happen in the length of miles and hours of a 100-mile race, but the closer to the finish we all got, the slower we tended to go, the less airborne we tended to get, and coincidentally the less chance of injury. I was unstoppable.
But an incident occurred on Powerline Road that gobbled up so much time, it pretty much screwed any chance I had of getting through Mayqueen before the cut-off. And so that's how things eventually did pan-out.
The person involved feels very, very badly about their part in it. It's bad enough that I lost my LT100 in such a freakish way. We're so used to the normal reasons like, getting lost, or bonking, or lost morale and the will to go on, or injury, or ... But it was none of the above.

In the aftermath, I've gone through a demoralizing process. In order to deal with what happened and how it happened, I've had to adopt a certain degree of not caring - lest I become bitter or resentful. And in not caring, I've been tempted to stop blogging or running with other people.
I skipped the Thursday trail run because I don't want to talk about last weekend. I don't want to answer any questions. I want everyone to zip it. Let's just run. So I'm hoping time will add so many other activities for others to talk about that they won't remember to ask me about the LT100, and I won't have the burden of weasling out of telling.

I might end up telling the whole story. The person involved has told me their part. So I figure I'd tell it by walking everyone through the events, with his version and my version, color-coding his paragraphs. Neither of our versions conflict, but you'd have to get both versions to see the big picture.
But would anyone care to read it? Too many details, and it would seem to me that only myself and the other person would care. I'd have to spend so much time working to shorten it to a readable length, while not leaving out too many details.

Certainly, within ultra-running circles, it is a story of epic shit-happens. Maybe there's nothing to learn from it? Maybe there is?

Either way, I'm certainly having a hard time caring about much of anything. I still love trail running, but I'm camping with my son this weekend. What I really need is a really long solo trail run and some solo camping. I need to watch the trees grow and the rocks move for a while.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

2009 LT100

Last year's problems:
1. Poor sleep the weeks before and no sleep the night before.
2. Injured my ankle on Sugarloaf coming down Powerline road.
3. All aid station trasnit times sucked!
4. My left knee was going out after Halfmoon (69.5M)

This year, I slept well. Even the night before the race, I was parked in the forest uphill from Leadville somewhere amongst mines and got a good 7 hours of sleep.

I managed to sprain my left ankle twice (same one I sprained at Estes Park), but neither was a factor.
My aid station times were decent. Most could've been better, but some of my aid stations times were only a few minutes. My longest times were when I was being helped.
I had several sharp pains on the sides of my knees, and it felt like I had shin-splints. How do you get shin-splints running mountainous trails?

The weather wasn't totally bad all the time, but it was bad enough. It rained, it hailed, it snowed. I don't know what made it harder - the extra weight of cold/wet gear or all the slipping and straining during injury-avoidance. It was hard. Roughly 2/3 of the starters DNF'd. I saw three different guys limping to the next aid station to DNF. One was on his elbows and knees yelling, both in pain and frustration.
I decided to be safe and stick to a 28-hour plan. That plan had some minor flaws, but I've edited for next year.
I was doing pretty good, until after Fish Hatchery (76.5M). That's when a situation developed. So very sorry, but this event will have to remain a mystery to my readers. Suffice it to say that my event was "altered" and there wasn't anything I could do about it. This event robbed me of at least 45 minutes and involved an extra .86M of decent/climbing on the worst parts of Powerline Road.
It was raining and cold and dark, but I was determined that even if my LT100 was trashed, I was going to go as far as legally possible. Since I had checked out of Fish Hatchery, it was legal for me to go to Mayqueen, even if I arrived very late. So that's what I did.
This was very heartbreaking to me, but shit happens and I'm not going to cry over spilt milk.
The official DNF distance was 86.5, but after adding the back-tracking, I actually went 87.4M. That is a distance record for me.
Unlike other DNF's that sting from failure, this one had nothing to do with me giving up.
So on that note, in spite of things not turning out anything like I had planned, it was still very fun.

I had the usual serious pulmonary edema. My legs were strong, but I couldn't get any oxygen to them. I collapsed in coughing fits a few times.
One weird thing happened up on Sugarlaof. It sounded like a woman who was barely alive trying to say, "Help," but it was so weak. I was shining my flashlight into the trees but saw no one. I heard it three times, but with one deaf ear, I can't hear in stereo and it difficult to figure out where sounds are coming from. Then I realized the sound was coming from the weeze in my windpipe.

Right now, the thing that hurts the most, believve it or not, is my left eye. It never bothered me in the race, but I woke up from my post-race nap and I could barely use my left eye. It feels much better to keep my eyelid closed. I've got some anitbiotic eye drops. I hope that helps.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ready To Go

I'm as ready as I can be.
Paul G is volunteering. The only outside aid is he MIGHT pace me. Wherever he might pace me from is completely up in the air, if at all.

I'm focused. This is the one race a year I care about. Every other race I do, while I intend to have a great time in them, they are all just training for the LT100.

It's great to meet all my friends from last year, and other races. There are too many to mention.

As forecast, the weather is nasty. It keeps hailing, sleeting, raining, lightening, and occasionally blowing, but the wind is not supposed to be much of a factor tomorrow.
The cold will cause me to carry about 1-2 pounds more of extra weight at any given time. That is the downside. An extra pound or two for 100 miles takes a toll.
I'm certainly way stronger, faster and more experienced than last year. Who knows how it will unfold? It's the adventure!
Last year, I'd lost so much sleep in the weeks ahead. This year, I've usually managed 6:30-7 hours of sleep, sometimes 8, a couple of times 9! So even though not perfect, I'm better off than last year.
I weighed-in at 170lbs, but that was with jeans and my polo shirt from work yesterday (slept in it and wore it half the day). I think I weigh only two pounds more than last year. This could be for a good reason. Last year I was trying a tiny bit too hard to lose weight so I wouldn't carry as much on the course. Well, too little too late! So I think I'm better fueled this year.

But none of this will matter if I don't GET myself to the FINISH LINE! Talk is always cheap.
So I'll shut up.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


The forecast for Leadville is cold, rainy, some snow.
This means carrying extra weight, of course.

My job has slaughtered me. So overwhelmed with the load I've been unable to answer the phone, read email, listen to messages. Total shutdown in accepting any new requests. It was so bad, a guy had me staying late fixing his virus'd computer, and I stood up on the middle of an install and walked off. Took my daypack, got in my CR-V and drove away. I'm sick of being one of the only three compitent techs in a building full of nearly a thousand spoiled computer users who are allowed to do things most companies won't allow.
Normally, I love my job - but not this week.
I've got 100 miles to run out the stress.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fattening Me Up For The Kill

My weight is going up through "taper". My body fat has jumped from 13% to 17%. Last year I cared and tried to get my weight as low as possible. This year, I really don't care. I'm trying to feed my body what it needs. The numbers can do whatever they want.

Friday, immediately after work, I loaded my son and gear into my CR-V and we headed to Mt. of the Holy Cross. We got there in the dark, and it was raining, so we bedded down in the back. All night long, dozens and dozens of cars came in. People spoke in respectful whispers. Some people drove in so quiet I slept right through. Then at 3:58am (I know it was 3:58 because one of the guys yelled out the time), a really noisy bunch of small-brain people drove in. They either didn't think, or didn't care that over a hundred people were camped-out within vocal range. They stood right next to each other but spoke so loud I'm certain the furthest people in the campground below us could hear ever syllable. One woman in particular kept talking so incessantly that I swear she didn't go a minute without yelling something. Maybe they were all stoned? They made noise for over an hour and a half.
But we slept pretty good before that.

Everything was very lush and green - quite a contrast to scorched Denver. It wasn't raining when we left the car. We managed not to need our rain gear until we reached our destination. I was carrying nearly everything. My son could see I was carrying more stuff, but he didn't know the half of it. His pack was bulged because of his lofted sleeping bag. My pack weighed more than twice as much. And he still thought he was gonna die! I was concentrating on being careful every step. I didn't need any stress on the knees or feet. In spite of the extra weight, the lack of airborne landings kept my feet from getting pounded. Short steps and straight feet and knees kept my knees from getting stressed.
The clouds were dancing amongst the peaks and ridges. When we first came over Half Moon Pass, I had to tell my son where Holy Cross was, because it was cloaked in a cloud. But soon it passed and you could see its jutting mass. Unfortunately, from the Pass, you can't see the namesake cross. It didn't matter - it was BEAUTIFUL!!

When looking for a campsite, I slipped on a wet log and landed badly. I now have a significant bruise along the left side of my left leg below the knee. Also, a jagged tree branch stub raked into my thigh above the knee. I expected a deep, wicked gash, but everything was so outrageously wet-wet-soakin' frickin' wet, that the jagged ends were a little too mushy to penetrate! So the bruise is the bad part. I can barely tell where the branch stub jabbed. So I was unlucky slipping, but man, it could have been way worse! It hurts today, and it will hurt during the LT100, but I won't know if it will be a factor until it is-or-isn't!

My brother, Joe, was there with his Lockheed-Martin gang. They left Friday morning, so they were camped at the base of HC Friday night, and three of them summited while my son and I were hiking in.
They tried to talk me into camping with them, but to be honest, I didn't think they were legal - not even close. So my son and I spent half an hour - because we had the time - to find a nice spot that was also legal, and 20 feet from us was a rock outcropping where we could get a very nice view.

My son and I like to sit around a campfire (no campfires though in HC wilderness), or in camp and make up stories. So we continued with the one we'd started the campout before where a guy gets sick in the mountains and comes back to town to find everyone dead. (Obviously inspired by "I Am Legend" and a story I read in college that I can't remember the title of.) Eventually he meets other survivors, each having survived a viral attack. A super-virus wiped-out humanity. The only people that survived were already fighting off a similar virus, so they already had their immune systems working at max, creating sufficiently similar antibodies to fend off the one that wiped-out the rest of the world. We made this story up as if it were an HBO mini-series. Each episode they would meet someone new, or a small group.

So that's how we spent our drizzly afternoon before heading to my brother's camp to cook and eat dinner. The rain abated long enough to have a comfortable dinner and stand around socializing a bit. We headed back to our own camp with full bellies.
I brought enough food for two people - as long as one wasn't a teenager! OOPS!! The dehydrated meals were big enough, but I'm afraid I had to tell my son to starve a couple of times before and after dinner.

We broke camp and headed back the next morning. So we really didn't do very much. It was my son's very first backpacking trip He used to freak out about altitude and get all psychosomatic, so there wasn't much use forcing him into the outdoors. But this year he's been more willing. So this was his first time venturing beyond car-camping. I wanted to keep it simple and easy. That wasn't easy in the incessant rain and drizzle, but he did great and had a very good time. We'll work on getting the pack a little heavier next time (he'll have to carry his own extra food!) LOL

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New Gear!

I went shopping.

I bought a new pair of Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultras. (Geez, does the name really have to be that long? You have to be an ultra runner just to say it!)
Then I bought a pair of Pearl Izumi Peak XCs.
I'll have a pair of shoes in probably every drop-bag, but I don't plan to take any shoe or sock changes unless there's a problem. Drop-bags are about having available options. I don't actually plan to use my drop bags very often.

I bought the Salomon Raid Revo 15. It's the smaller version of my other pack. I might do a swap at some point in the race.
I also bought another Salomon Fast Wing Hoodie. It took me months to find the name of the jacket I owned, because Salomon doesn't put the model name anywhere on the jacket itself. It is the best, in my opinion, of all the ultra-light wind-proof, breathable, water-resistant jackets with hoods. There is only one that is barely lighter, and it costs $20 more. Since it's paper-thin and not durable, why pay so much? i got my original for $30+ on sale. I'm currently kicking myself hard for not buying half a dozen. It's nearly impossible to find, and I only found it online now, and I paid twice as much for this second one.

The theory is I won't have to swap gear when I swap packs. Each will be fully stocked.

I also bought a bunch of new socks - Injinjis and Wright socks.

On the home front, my son and I are really enjoying each other's company. I know it's not natural to get along with a teenager. I have to be careful. It's not my job to be his pal. Someone has to be his parent and lay down the law. But as far as I can see, we get along because...
A) I lay down the law without budging - only on important things - and I definitely say what I mean and mean what I say. His mom says that's "brutal", but my son seems to respect me more.
B) Dad's cool for being an ultra-runner and a computer nerd.
Whatever works.
I'm not expecting it to last. I know I changed radically psycho-emotionally when I was 16 and 17. I went off the deep end when I was 16, and then I started pulled myself out when I was 17. My son will turn 15 in another month. If he's anything like I was, he still has a year before he totally flips-out. I over-dosed by accident twice. I hope he survives his teen years. I hope other people survive his teen years. I hope he doesn't get some girl pregnant!

What does this have to do with the Leadville 100?! It's proably what I'll be thinking about while I run without a pacer or crew for 100 miles through day and night.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Crown Point B-17 Crash

One of my brothers joined me in a hike to another B-17 crash site. This one is not very far from the first one near Pingree.
We had to drive through Ft. Collins, and then through Poudre Canyon.
The weather was unbearably hot, even at 8000 feet.
Our journey began with a grueling mountain bike ride in 88-degree weather struggling to pedal our bikes up steep, rocky roads. When we got to the end of the road, there were trailhead signs forbidding bikes. That was not planned. We didn't think we'd be without bikes, so we had no locks. Instead, we hid our bikes off the trail.
I had brought my ultra-light New Balance 790's. They were very comfortable, for a shoe without a rock-plate.
My brother went in his bike shoes - and it was a sore hike for him.
The hike was 4.9 miles one-way, with some hard climbs and descents, but mostly rolling uphill. The weather rumbled in and gave us some blessed relief from the heat, but the thunder kept us wondering about safety. Still, for me, it was a very nice, easy recovery hike.

The amazing thing was that 6 of the 10 crew survived this crash.

I had a fine collection of B-17 photos on my iPhone, so it helped to identify some of the wreckage.

Since the tailgunner position was intact, I would guess, if anyone was seated there, they would have survived.

You can still see the Air Force insignia on parts of two different wing remnants.