LooseCrew-JeffO: September 2008


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

Monday, September 29, 2008


I found a really cool place. I've been driving past a particular road many times, and I never drove up it. Then over the weekend, I finally went up. Not far from the pavement, I parked and went through what looked like a railroad cut through a ridge. On the other side was a waterfall pooring into a pool. Very, very COOL!
And the next thought was - I'll bet this is the BEST place to go ice-climbing in the winter! We'll see.

I grabbed my Nikon out of the car, but after two bad photos, the batteries went dead.
So I used my iPhone's pitiful camera to take a series and then I stitched them together at home with Autostitch.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Vasque Golden Leaf 2008

This year, the Vasque Golden Leaf fell on the weekend that the aspen were at their highest shades of brilliance. It is an amazing display of glowing fluorescence.
The logistics of getting myself from Denver to Aspen and then to the startline, and get a night of sleep, all in a handful of hours is not easy, but everything worked out perfectly. This is due to the friends I had in town.
I typically camp in the back of my CR-V, but it's hard finding a place around ski resorts because local law enforcement likes to scare off the hordes of transients (like me) who "camp out". My friends were juggling a dozen people in three hotel rooms, with some opting-in and some bailing-out, and new ones opting-in, and more opting-out. So I told Diane I would be "swing" in case someone bailed an she would be left holding the bag for someone's share of a room. So as I was an hour out, Diane called and told me I had a place to stay.
The hide-away bed ended up not having room for two, so I camped on the floor - which is my preferred mode of sleeping anyways.
We carpooled to the start in three vehicles.

This race has a unique, simple, set of complications that require some strategy. The race starts a couple thousand feet higher than it finishes, but there are some significant climbs during the race, most notably the start. To help spread out the pack, it starts by going up, up, up a wide road that meanders up a ski slope.

I used to say I "suck uphill". While it's undoubtedly my weakest point, I no longer "suck". I am now able to hold my own in an average way. People who are excellent will still blow by me, but I likewise will pass others.
This race attracts hundreds of short-distance runners who are WAY better on the uphills than me. So the big problem is that these uphill antelopes crowd ahead of me on the wide uphills, and then get in the way on the singletrack downhills. So my strategy was to run a few miles before the race to get thoroughly warmed up first, then allow myself to bust my lungs, drool, spit - whatever it takes to keep as many behind me as possible at the start.
It worked, but not perfectly, of course. Even though I was dosed with Albuterol and Astelin, my lungs drifted into asthma a few times, but I was able to control it.
Being used to 50-mile distance, I had plenty of reserve, so getting tired wasn't a consideration. Getting my slow-twitch body to perform a fast-twitch race was the issue.

I opted not to bring any bottle. I brought three gels, but really didn't need any. I did force one down, but really, this race is too fast and short to worry about water or food.
I wore my new Pearl Izumi's. The upper is hardly even "designed". It's just some flimsy mesh. The sole is a slab of variable density foam. There's a good instep cushion, and with so little material, it's amazing how much motion-control they get out of it. There isn't much traction, but that is rarely an issue, and proper technique usually negates the need for substantial grip. I don't think I'd want to wear it at the Leadville 100, or the San Juan Solstice 50, but this shoe was perfect for the Vasque Golden Leaf.

One runner afterwards commented to me that it is ironic that we're surrounded by so much incredible scenery, but we have to keep our eyes riveted to the trail to keep from wiping-out. Indeed, there were more wipe-outs and face-plants in this event than I can ever remember. Twice, the guy in front of me wiped out (two different guys).
About four miles from the finish, I called out, "On your left!" and started to pass a woman. There was short oak shrub on each side of the trail and my little space suddenly evaporated, leaving me running through the oaks down a very steep and turning trail. What a miracle I didn't bite it.
A few miles from the end, I was coming up behind a blond woman who ran with her hand on the side of her face. I thought, "Geez! What is it about blonds that they have to be on the phone all the time?! Even during a race!" She kept pulling her hand away and looking, so I assumed she had bad signal strength. But as I got closer, I notices it was just a black shirt in her hand, and she had a gash in her cheekbone. I told her how frickin' tough she was, doing a face-plant and still staying ahead of me. She totally killed those last few miles and was barely in site when she crossed the finish.

I missed my goal of 1:50 by a wide margin. Final...
86th out of 586
22nd in my division

The post-race is best! There's gourmet soups, sandwiches, pasta salad, drinks, cookies... And a fantastic raffle where it's hard to be present and not win something - there's so many items to give away. This time I won a pair of Chaco flops. Just what I was shopping for, too! I just have SO MANY shoes that I wasn't willing to buy them. Now my conscience is clear, and my post-race feet will feel better than ever.

Today, I'm in my home-away-from-home Leadville, posting from the Provin' Grounds coffee shop. Just chillin' and wishin' I'd brought my mtn bike.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Equinox Leftovers

Reid Delman told me after the race that the course was actually 6.6M. That feels about right.
However, they have me down as having completed 8 laps @ 48 miles.
Not to mention there was a 6M and 12M race on the same course - not a 6.6M and half-marathon.
So I wonder... what did I do? 52.8M or 48M? 'Cause 10% is a pretty significant difference.

The Nordic Center near Frisco

The night before and after, I camped near a squatters village. This campground was probably illegal because there's rules about spending consecutive nights in one spot in open federal lands, but that's the way it's done. You have these expensive ski resorts that need waiters and waitresses, and some others, who can't afford to rent or own a home in the area. So they squat.
I parked less than a quarter mile away, but could hear much of what was going on. There was a big campfire, some guy with a gun, and drunken revelry. When it calmed down, I heard this eerie sound. It was like dogs barking and coyotes howling. I wondered what had all the canine so riled? But the sound was ceaseless.
The night after the race, I returned. I heard the same sound again. Okay, this time I wasn't buying that it was dogs and coyotes. It was like a looped recording played loud. Some wiseguy made a recording and played it constantly throughout each night to ward off bears. Not a bad idea.

I was more tired after this event. I'm not sure why. Maybe I do have a chest-cold? If so, then it must be a virus my body already fought off in the past and all it had to do was kick the antibody production into high-gear. I definitely wasn't having the best day. I ran the MountainAir marathon the week before, but I hadn't tried at all. I treated the marathon like a roving cocktail party where I socialized (mingled) along the way. So I wasn't over-trained at Frisco. So at the least, my - what - rhythms/bio-rhythms, or whatever, just weren't right for the day. Or maybe I did have a cold?
But today, Wednesday, I still feel run-down. I don't feel sick and I don't feel tired from running. I don't know what it is. I'm taking the day off. Maybe my body needs it? Or maybe it's not my body? Maybe I lost my mind and need to find it? Yeah, I think that's it.

I've been so busy, and my company blocks Blogger.com, and my iPhone is such a pathetic piece or electronic garbage that it locks up frequently. More often than not, I can't even get the blogger comment pages to load, so I can't comment on mine or anyone else's blog without several retries. And I'm seldom ever home, and I haven't been going to coffee shops or the WiFi bar very much, so my blogging is has dropped off significantly.

There's almost no time to drive out west Thursday evenings for trail running. Just overwhelmed with too much "busy". Maybe that's why I'm tired? I've been racing, traveling, packing, unpacking like crazy nearly every weekend for months. When I don't have a weekend race, I feel lost, empty, and bored. But inbetween races I'm out-of-control and need to get my keel back under me.

But not this weekend! Vasque Golden Leaf half-marathon from Snowmass to Aspen, with gourmet food at the finishline! I LOVE THIS STUFF!!!

Salomon Equinox 12 Hours of Frisco

This was another last-minute sign-up. I heard about this race Monday and signed up Tuesday. I prepared Wed/Thur.
This is a loop-race. See how many loops you can go in 12 hours. If you finish a loop after the 12Hr mark, that lap didn't count!
The website was out-of-date. There was no hint of a new course. It said it was 6M.
I figured there was actually a chance in hell I could win this race - because there aren't many other entrants!!!! Is that pathetic, or what?! At least my age division. First-place in every division gets a free pair of Salomon XT Wing trail shoes! I WANTED THOSE SHOES! So that was my goal for the race - win a pair of shoes!
I drove out Friday night and drove up Tiger Run until the road petered-out on federal lands. I didn't sleep as well as usual. I woke with the upper resperatory feeling you always get right before a chest-cold. "Oh, crap," I thought, "I've got what all my running friends are getting, no matter how healthy they are."
I'm not a morning person, so I liked the late start: 8:30am. I had plenty of time to get breakfast, COFFEE, and gear-up.
I didn't know many people. I met Jamie Donaldson, and a few others I knew.
I visited a similar race at the Frisco Nordic Center a couple of years ago, but was mostly confused where to stage from. I actually put my stuff about 15 feet too far away.
The race started on time. We ran across athick grassy field, and then into some crappy marsh/rock field/clumps of grass/holes. Then onto a road.
The course heads into some hills on a penninsula that juts into Dillon Reservoir. The first lap seemed to go up, and up, and, well, how was a mountain hidden on this little penninsula? Are we going to break treeline?! Geez. The odd thing was, all the other laps seemed the opposite. Even when tired, it seemed somehow that I spent more time coasting downhill than chugging up. What a great feeling! But the bad news was there was tons more climbing than I anticipated. Also, the course seemed longer than 6M. I chalked it up to all the climbing, descending, climbing again, descending, climbing, etc., etc., etc.
We had to swipe a bar-code card at the end of each lap. They gave us two cards, "because sometimes they don't work". So right off, I wasn't confident in their little cards. The first lap, someone was behind a glass door and nodded at me. The second lap, there was no one, and I had no solid way of determining that my swipe "took". Same for the third lap. So when I swiped the fourth time, and the lady behind the glass held up three fingers, I held up four, and said, "Right?!" She just shrugged. Oh, great - now I REALLY have no confidence!
My first lap was 1:09. Yikes! There went my plan. How could it take me that long to go 6M?! It must be the chest-cold. My second held steady, but I had to waste time moving my stuff closer.
The Nordic Center was set up for racers to eat, drink, etc., but I didn't set foot in there until the race was over. I had a BIG gym bag full of everything I would need. I had peanut M&Ms measured out and put into baggies (18=~210cal.). Several bottles were full of water - I forgot to mix sport-drink powder into them! Mistake, but I had easy-poor flasks ready, and a 2qt bottle pre-mixed, and a store-bought bottle of Gatoraid.
Each time through, I took a long swig of my V-8, grabbed gels, grabbed bottles, and took off.
I peed right before the race, then during the first lap, then the third lap. Then I didn't pee for five hours. So I slowed down and started grabbing extra - a bottle in each hand - at aid.
When it became obvious I was going to be barely too late for an additional lap, I kept running strong. A woman going the same pace asked my why - I looked like a man-on-a-missiomn. Heck, downhill is my thing, and why not push hard? That's what I'm there for.
I lapped a guy. Wow. Then I got lapped - Christian Hendrickson. Crap, if he's my competition, I've no chance for first. I quickly calculated that at the rate I was fading, he would lap me again before the end of the race. Then I lapped another guy. Then I lapped the first guy again, but this time I actually had to reel him in, unlike the first time when I blew by him. Then just about the time I expected Christian to lap me again, Jeff Beuche passed me. Oh - they were a "team" - not my competition. Yeehah! I still had a chance at some new shoes.
The weather had been ideal all day, but after 5pm, it started threateding. On my last lap, it started raining, and the sky opened up with fury. I STANK! There is very little this planet can produce that stinks worse than me after several miles of ultra. It was grand to get a free shower. I could taste the salt running down across my lips as it washed away. It was dark, I had my headlamp around my waste, I was running fast downhill, and lightening was striking all the higher peaks in every direction and the thunder was loud. Even though the lightening was only hitting the higher peaks, there was fair potential that it could strike anywhere on the course.
When I got back to the Nordic Center, they told me the race was called-off. No awards - but we each got a consolation prize of free shoes.
So I achieved my goal - free XT Wings! I just didn't do it the way I'd hoped.
The stats are posted. I came in 4th out of 12 runners, so not so great. Heck, first finished 11 laps. How did I not notice him passing me - three times?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mountain Air Marathon

I wish I could say this race was fun, but...
Yeehaw, what a great consolation prize after missing RRR50.
Anita F left Steamboat very late. I let her call me repeatedly all night. Especially after the motorcycle accident, the last thing I wanted to hear is that Anita fell asleep at the wheel and died or got hurt! Besides, she had just done 50M and was going to run a marathon! If I lost sleep, big deal! I had the EASY end of the deal! So I kept giving her logistical support through my iPhone/GoogleMaps until 2:12am.
I was parked high on a ridge at the end of a county road. A very great place to spend the night. Unlikely to have anyone interrupt me and tell me to move. The coyotes yapped a few times during the night. If I had to put up with the yapping regularly, I suppose the novelty would wear off. Instead, I loved it. Few critters sound as ridiculous as a hillside or desert full of coyotes all trying to out-do each other with silly sounds.
Frost was on my windshield in the morning. I overslept by 10 minutes - and paid for it.
I rushed to Gunnison too late, but Anita was on the bus and had the bus driver pick me up on the way. I was so disorganized. At least it was only a marathon - and paved too. Then she gave me coffee! Aaahhhh!!!!! So I helped Anita through the night, and she helped me in the morning. What a DEAL!
At the start, I met some friends from Denver. I met several new people, too. I was very irreverent. Surprised, huh? (OK, so you're not surprised.) I spotted a cute young thing and had to rib Anita - "Oooo, Anita, she's even cuter than you! No doubt. Look at those LEGS!" My god, she had Leslie-Legs! I'm not kidding!
I met Michelle from Virginia, Paul from Phoenix, Muguin?sp? from Denver, and - I'm so bad with names - John? from Denver. I've run with these two guys before, but they run with the 6:15 DTR group and i do the 5:30 group, so we haven't spent much time together. And Joyce! Let's not forget Joyce. i get to see her again at the Boulder 100 in a month.

The race. Okay, I didn't race. I stuck with Anita the first 12 miles and talked incessantly. I bragged how I didn't feel any of Saturday's 50 miles! We did trail trash talk. But at the first uphill, she told me she needed to listen to her "devil-music", which I took as my queue that I was going too fast and her tired legs needed a break.
S O kicked it up and caught up to Michelle Smith. Michelle is BIG! Very full-bodied and as tall as me. Get this - she was sucking wind because of the altitude, and came in 2nd!!!! I stuck with her and tried to pace her. There was lots of slight uphill in the latter miles of the race. Nothing we Coloradans would notice, but enough to sucker-punch a Virginian. It was like me on Sugarloaf - hypoxic from foam in my lungs, but the leg muscles were not taxed. So she totally amazed me. She came in 2nd and would have been even faster if she had been acclimated! GEEZ!
Anita, after running 50M the day before, won her age-division!
The views were very fantabulous. Maybe even stupendiscular! The temp at the start was a windless 30-something that warmed up to about 60 at the finish.
They had big horse-drinking tanks at the finish filled with ice-water for us to soak our legs in. What an awesome idea.

Okay - I'm back on an even keel after the Leadville debacle. Ready for my ususal race-every-weekend mode into November.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Monarch Pass

Since I had a previous obligation, I couldn't run the Run Rabbit Run.
Anita F said she was doing it, then the Mountain Air Marathon (Crusted Butt to Gunnison) the next day. I asked her to grab my RRR50 shirt, pretty please, and then I begged the Mountain Air RD to let me enter. I got in! I hadn't even thought about this marathon because I had planned on soaking at Strawberry Hot Springs on Sunday. At least I have a consolation event.

So I drove out in the afternoon, Saturday.
Just west of Monarch Pass, I came around a curve and bunches of people waved me to slow down and stop. A motorcyclist had crashed. No one knew how. Her bike was laying in the right-hand lane and she had slid off the highway, under a guardrail. She was barely on the other side of the rail.
There was a nurse there. Nurses have more medical training than me. I have more search&Rescue training, and generally slap-'em together and transport. So I ended up having to stop and help.
She was face-down in the gravel.
Her left humerus was so shattered that there was no sign of any structure between her elbow and shoulder. It also looked like her radius was also broken.
She remained conscious the whole time, but she was unable to talk. Her helmet was off, and the visor was scraped. She obviously took a ride across the pavement face-down. Maybe the helmet bounced off? No one could figure out how it came off. Maybe her jaw was broken. Not sure why she couldn't talk, but she sure was able to communicate pain and squirm around.
I grabbed a bunch of new white hand towels from the CR-V. I'd just bought them days before. Towels always come in handy and I usually have several. The nurse worked one towel under her face, and then wiped dirt, blood, and gravel from her nose and mouth.
Gunnison volunteer S&R showed up first.
We cut her jacket off and moved her arm around. The S&R guys worked a cervical collar onto her. She had an engagement ring on her left hand.
Someone found her wallet - or half of it. Someone else found her phone and went to call some numbers, since service right near the accident wasn't good enough.

Then an ambulance showed up. Since I've never appreciated spectators (really sadistic, creepy, and irritating to me when people slow down in traffic to gawk, or hang around just to stare), as soon as it was obvious they had enough expertise, I hopped in my vehicle and took off.
The entire way to Gunnison, emergency vehicles kept coming, even as I pulled into Gunnison. I hope there wasn't a follow-up accident from someone not slowing down or stopping.

I don't know if it's really possible to send positive energy to anyone, and actually do them any good, but I sure have been trying.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Red Rocks PR

Tonight, I set a new PR for my Red Rocks loop. It's 6.8 to 7 miles of jagged trail. Lots of climbing and plenty to trip and crash on.
The temperature was PERFECT!
The Celsius conversion is: PERFECT!
I wore my New Balance 790's, Wright socks, and flimsy running shorts. I took a 20oz Ultimate Direction bottle, but I should ditch that next time.
I was gasping so hard, drooling, spitting... At one point, I somehow got the rhythm of my breathing and swallowing wrong and half threw-up, but I caught it, and swallowed it back down. It tasted like broccoli, cauliflower, V-8, carrots, cranberries, apple, and sport drink. A bit got down my windpipe. Heavy coughing followed.
When I was finishing, I was gasping and sprinting to the finish. If I had been a horse, you would have taken pity on me, laid me down and put a bullet in my brain. But it was worth it!

My old PR was 1:13:51.
My new PR is 1:08:00, exactly!

Now this is Justin's chance to say, "Yeah, but I did it in 40 minutes, dude!"