LooseCrew-JeffO: November 2008


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

Saturday, November 29, 2008


The McMillan Running Calculator says I'm supposed to be able to run 5 miles at a 7:09 pace. I assure you, there is NO WAY I can manage that at this time.
The odd thing is, I started out a few years ago poking along at 12 minute miles and managed to shave it down to 8 minute miles for any distance below 50K. And I do mean any distance, as in my 5M pace is 8min/M, and my 10K pace is 8min/M, etc. I'm flat-lined.
The good news is I'm getting faster every year at all distances.

It's currently cold and snowy outside. I finally got to use my new studded snow tires. The snow has certainly been sticking and freezing to the roads.

On Thanksgiving, I thought I'd be running with the Denver Trail Runners, but I decided to sleep-in. That allowed me an additional 2+ hours of sleep.
After lunch, I headed to South Table Mountain.
I don't know of any other place to park, except at the National Renewable Energy Labs parking area during off-hours. Certainly during off-hours, the lot is empty and I'm not hurting anyone. But the lot was roped and a sign warned that specifically "runners" are not allowed to park there. Wow! (My expletive was different.) So I slowly drove away, keeping my eyes peeled for a kosher place to park. I noticed two cars parked by the curb on the other side. The road was two lanes each direction, but it dead-ends at the NREL, and there's no need for four lanes, so even though the cars were blocking one lane, it wasn't a big deal at a virtual dead-end. But a NREL security guard was writing them tickets! There were no signs giving anyone a clue about property lines. Anyone would think the street and land would belong either to Open Space Parks, or to a city or county. NREL was an 1/8th mile away.
I gave up and drove out of Denver to Buffalo Overlook. I parked in an elementary school parking lot (probably also illegal, but hurts no one on Thanksgiving day).
The weather was colder than I had planned for my run on South Table, so I ended up wearing all my extra stuff, but it was enough.
I had my smaller Salomon Raid Revo 15 hydration pack. There were only two couples the entire 9-mile run. I got to see a small section of trail I had never been on before, and it was stunning! It was old-growth, mossy, and the trees were magnificent! There was a bit of snow-flurry, but nothing bad.
I didn't bring my camera since I had anticipated running on plain-ole South Table.

I had to work the day after Thanksgiving, but I still got a run in after work. During the time it took for me to hydrate and change clothes, a snow storm moved in. So I got my first true winter run of the season! There were only two other runners at Wash Park, and they wore coats and heavy gloves! I just wore a long sleeve shirt and a sleeveless shirt over that.
On the way there, a woman in a Subaru honked her horn at me. I think that translates into, "You crazy running idiot!! Are you insane?!"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Taking a Break

This is the funniest shit!!!
The top pieces for Jackson Hole about fear are classic!

There you are.
Facing Fear.
It's beady-eyed and hairy.
And then it occurs to you.

Hey, Fear would make a pretty good fur coat.

I don't know where Jordan is these days - haven't seen him in months. He is wacky - wackier than ME - but in a good way!

I haven't done anything. Going through some strange body reactions. My feet have been hurting, in an injurious way. Since my mileage is decreased significantly, it didn't seem logical that it could be an overuse injury. Both feet have been exhibiting signs of imminent injury. Logical or not, I decided to take a REAL, TOTAL break for several days. Not my normal "break", meaning a reduction from 50-100 miles per week down to 20, but a switch to non-running, and not even much walking, except to do errands in the 'hood.
Without my usual activities, my usual diet, sleep, and mental routines are in disarray.
I don't care if my feet hurt, it's just that if they hurt in the wrong way (too consistently), or too much, then I want to wait until the issue declines. I don't want plantar issues, bone spurs, or fractures. Stress in bodies isn't just a short-term thing. It can build over an entire season, which I think is what's going on here.

The way I've been feeling lately, looking back to the mileage I was doing in May, June and July, every day an epic weekend, it's hard to fathom. Was that ME?!?! 'Cause REALLY - I don't feel like the same guy!
Maybe it's nothing more than diet. I've been a naughty boy since the Boulder 100. In fact, I had an ice cream shake yesterday.
And Lisa Bliss says the short days of this time of year have a profound affect on mind/body. I need to try sticking to eating right and getting sufficient quantities of sunlight.
I might also join a gym. Yeah, I know, it's indoors, but that's better than staying home all the time. I still need my endorphin fix, right?

Other than that, my hair is less gray. My grayness has been an odd thing. Since I no longer spend much time looking backwards, it's now hard for me to remember when my first gray showed, but I do remember it was pre-mature grayness that resulted from me scarring the shit out of myself up on a mountain. The gray started showing up a few weeks later and eventually went away. I think that might have been in my late 20's.
That was the pattern for about a decade. Climb a mountain, scar the shit out of myself, then the gray would come, and then it would go.
But then it stopped going away. Scaring myself too frequently, stressful job, stressful marriage, older age, and the gray was there to stay. But the gray would vary from significant to light.
The current level of gray, though, is unprecedented. The gray isn't gone, but my last haircut seems to have gotten rid of most of it, and I'm wondering if my beard really is darker or if its my imagination?

Stress in my life has fallen off considerably since I started running. Or maybe it's just that running helps me cope with my pathetic, fucked-up life? Keeps me from dwelling on it.
Job situation - I used to have a high-stress machinist job. Screw up and I could get injured, trash thousands of dollars in an instant, and worst-case could lead to an airplane crash resulting in the deaths of dozens of people. My bosses and co-workers were too often jerks.
Now I have a job that allows only a tiny bit of creativity, and I have very little authority. I've even quipped that "I'm not even at the bottom of the totem pole. I'm not on the totem pole at all. I'm one of the rocks shoved up against the bottom of the totem pole to keep it from falling over." But man, they sure do appreciate me - and I appreciate them! And now that hundreds-of-thousands of workers are losing their jobs, I appreciate mine even more!
Relationships - I'm no longer involved in any jacked-up relationships. In fact, I've refused to even go there - with ANYONE! That whole arena has been such a life-time complete failure, and now I have no stress there, that I've not been willing to step up to the plate again.
I have an incredible son. He gets nearly straight-A's, he composes his own music, he designs stuff, he gets along with kids in school, and he's fun to be with.
I have at least one really good friend, and tons of acquaintances, and they are all high-quality people. There is so much quality influence on me these past few years, it seems that no matter how jacked-up I've been, if I stay-the-course, how can life go back the way it was? I'm doomed to succeed!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Colorado Trail 26.4M

Saturday, I ran errands all day. I thought I'd get in a nice 8 miles at Wash Park, but it never happened.
Instead, I went to a party at an art gallery with free munchies, wine, and beer. So I had several glasses of wine. I left feeling quite steady and not at all inebriated, but wow that was a lot of wine (no I didn't drive).
There were no tables, so it was a four-handed job to hold a cup, a plate, while eating, and shaking hands constantly. Hate to go Howard-Hughes on you, but I'll probably get sick now because with two hands, I had to balance my plate on my cup while shaking and eating - and it's flu season.
About 5 the next morning, I had to wake up and get a drink of water. Oh, the hang-over.
Then I finally got out of bed for good at - holy shit! - 9:20! That was a nice 10-11 hours of slumber! I need to drink wine more often!
The hang-over was diminishing, but I had no milk, so I started my morning driving to the grocery store.

By the time I got to Waterton Canyon, I left my car at 11:55am. That's the way I tend to do things. No early rise training runs for me! Screw that. I need to unwind and rest on my weekends.

About three miles into my run, a herd of rams in the road had attracted several people. I'm sure they were hoping for hand-outs (the rams - not the people), but I just ran through.

Colorado Trail doesn't have any winter treachery on it yet. The most hazardous things are the hunters and poachers. A couple of weeks ago, a friend was running in the area and came to a 3-way intersection. A hunter came from the way he had planned to go, but the hunter told my friend that he met a couple of creepy hunters. The usual banter elicited evasive answers and the hunter became kind of spooked. So the hunter advised my friend to take the other trail, which he did. Poachers are not rare in Colorado.

I was wearing my new blaze-orange cap and had my bear bell in my hand. The bell was not just for bears or lions, but for bikers and hunters.

One of the things I bought during my errands Saturday was a pile of DryMax socks. I've kept my eyes peeled for these socks all year and only now found them at Runners Roost.
Initially, they were no more comfortable than my Balugas. Just how comfy can socks get? They're just socks, right? But testing them dry is no test at all.
I didn't plan to get them wet. If I got them wet, it would mean I got my nice, burnt-orange Salomon XT Wings wet. I can't do THAT! They're too purty to get wet! But they did. I was too distracted by scenery and didn't notice until too late at a stream crossing. I tried to walk on water, but I must've sinned this week because I didn't stay on top (like I usually do - wink-wink). The weird thing was I could feel the water seep in on top, but as soon as the water ran down to the bottom layer, the water felt like it vanished. The bottoms of my feet couldn't tell there was any water in my shoe.
Nice test, but the ultimate test is hot, sweaty feet. That's not something I'll have until July 2009.

I ran outbound for 13.2 miles. 27.4 total for the entire day, with some side-trips.
There was a great overlook for the Buffalo Creek burn area. That fire had scalded everything! It practically sterilized the soil, it was so hot. So the area isn't "bouncing back", but it is coming back slowly-but-surely.

The weather forcast was fairly okay, but it wasn't quite right. The weather ended up being very nice, especially for mid-November. So I'm still pummeling my body, my feet hurt all the time, and my body is begging for a break.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Rim Rock Run 2008

Two years ago, my middle metatarsal cracked at the 20-mile mark. By mile 21, the bone had broken clean in two. Ouch. The last 1.5M were excruciating and slow. I could have had a 3-hour run, but instead, droves of people passed me and the time slipped to 3:12:52.

Last year, I was exhausted and stressed and didn't want to risk an injury to wreak my revenge - but I knew that only a sub-3-hour RRR would be enough to get revenge.

I did it. 2:59:21 That averaged to 7:57/mile - the fastest pace of any race in my life for any distance.

The weather was fantastic! The drive out the night before was pretty bad on the passes, with a semi-truck getting winched up after going off I-70 near Vail Pass. The temps at the start were in the mid-30's, but there was only a 2mph breeze and the sky was virtually clear, so the sun warmed us pretty well.
I had done almost no running during the week and was feeling good.
For some reason, there weren't as many runners as there have been in past years. I'm not sure why. There's new race directors last year and this, but the registration experience was the same (Active.com), the bus shuttles and post-race party were the same (except the micro-brew beer was replaced by canned Bud-light and Coors-light (YUK!) The trend with all races is that we suddenly have to register within hours, minutes, or even seconds in order to get in before a race fills. There is only one difference. No race-day packet pick-up or registration. While I can understand no race-day registration, not letting you pick up your packet on race-day is just plain crazy. I had to play hooky from work Friday, sneaking off that last hour, to get out in time.

I'm not much of a climber, plus I forgot to take my asthma meds, but I told myself it was too short of a race to matter. I pushed until it hurt and kept a steady pain-level. I got passed by several on the climbs, then as it leveled, I'd pass them back. And this continued until we topped-out and I took off like a rocket (a very old, heavy, slow rocket - like a Saturn V rocket carrying a lunar lander and rover and extra fuel, and stuff).
Then came the downhills! Yum! I concentrated on leaning forward and having clean, efficient form. No side-to-side motions, high cadence, landing with my toes directly under my knees, don't let any pressure land on my heels, but do it by landing far enough back - not by raising up on my toes (it's pavement after all).
At mile 17, a pesky blister became evident, and tried to slow me down. Indeed, I didn't push back with each step as much as I could have, and it had to slow me down, but I tried to make up for it with even higher cadence.
It wasn't looking good. i kept figuring and re-figuring and it kept looking like I was going to hit 3:07, but it's hard to figure with this race since you climb slowly the first several miles. The last, though, are screamin' downhill with 6-minute miles. So I told myself to persevere as if it was always do-able.
At mile 20, there was quite an impressive spray-pattern from someone blowing chow on the shoulder of the road. And yet, that person was still ahead of me! And a little follow-up pile a bit after. I reminded myself how lucky I was to still have all my jets firing and already into my free-fall towards the finish.

To keep the blister from slowing me, I tried the sadistic approach. I decided to see if I could TRY to make it hurt, and if it swelled and popped, I'd get brownie-points!

There are a couple of tunnels we have to run through as we drop into a canyon. At the bottom, there's smooth walls lining both sides. I couldn't resist letting out a hoot to hear it echo off the walls. (Apparently, this is a guy-thing!)

Somehow, I'd nearly caught Paul Grimm (I guess it was my taper all week). He still finished ahead of me. I was 11 seconds behind, and the last guy to get in under 3 hours.
Bernie Boettcher had a great finish in 2:18 and scoring 4th place. In past years, with a larger, more competitive pack, that still could have earned him 1st place. So 4th is deceptive - he had a fantastic pace and finish.
I don't know any of the other leaders.

Next year, I need to do more hill and speed work. I need to get rid of my sand-bags. If I can shave time off my climb, and keep the same pace on the flats and downs, I can easily shave another 5 minutes off.

This was the last race on my calendar, but there's at least one more I hope to fit in before the end of the year. I've done 23 "events" so far this year. What a year!

I forgot my camera again, so these photos are not from the Rim Rock Run, but from the 9.2 mile hike Paul, Karla, and I did on the Kokopelli Trail afterwards.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Something has been wrong with my training. Gas hit $4/gallon, so I cut out some driving. I didn't do the Thursday trail run, also because it took so much time, during the work-week. But I kept my mileage up and I ran harder, so I figured I'd retain my base.
After running through the Flatirons Saturday, I ran 10.6M hard Sunday. By Monday, I was wrecked. My quads hurt like after the Jemez Mtn 50. I hurt worse than after the Boulder 100. How could that be? Obviously my fast, flat miles aren't good enough, even if I do throw in some weekend hills and mountains.
I've been really pushing myself to log the miles. This warm weather isn't going to last. Winter is overdue. So I've been throwing so much at myself my body is now begging for winter.
Please, winter, before I self-destruct!
But wait until after the Rim Rock Run, okay? It's a bitch waiting in the frigid cold before that race.

Yesterday evening was the perfect Fall evening. The wind was blowing. Not straight winds, and not too hard, but enough to stir up the piles of leaves all over the place. The sound of wind and leaves rustling around is such a nice sound. And the temps are so warm for this time of year. It was nice walking in my 'hood. So close to Halloween, it reminded me of To Kill A Mockingbird. I could picture Scout running in the night in her costume. What a great book. I might have to dig it out and read it again.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Boulder Flatirons

Today, I ran with several Boulder area runners through, around, up, and across the Flatirons.

The weather was unbelievable!

I had never done any running or hiking in the Flatirons, so I was at the mercy of following various people and using dead-reckoning.

We started by running up Green Mountain to the north (not to be confused with Denver's Green Mtn). Then down and north and around, practically back in Boulder before skirting around east of Green. So we looped all around Green.
This first half was rather easy.

Then we took a series of trails that led south to a steep climb up Bear Mountain.

There was a very long trail (over a mile, I think) that was extremely steep, with many blocks of rock laid like steps. It was such a chug! For this second half, I was mostly with a few triathletes and adventure racers. I could barely keep up with them, but that's also the way I like it.

I didn't stop on Bear because these three guys didn't stop - and there weren't any others from the group around I could follow. And it was a good thing I didn't stop. Coming down from Bear is a near-vertical rock climb down cracked granite. It wasn't really hard, but I've never liked climbing down something I've never climbed up, especially when you can't see your feet and you're trying to wedge fingers and toes into cracks. Having someone below me telling me where to stick my foot was very nice.

While I waited for my turn down the rocks, I took a great pano shot of the distant Continental Divide. Framed by rock and tree, I think it turned out better than it would have from the summit.

Last, we climbed South Boulder Peak.
I decided to stay there and soak up the views. The fast triathletes ran off and I snapped lots more photos and talked to the people up there.
On the run down, I was alone and using dead rackoning and common sense to figure out my way back.
Overall, it was a greuling 18 miles. Very good training.
Many of us met at one of the local's homes and we had a little barbeque. It rounded out the day nicely. Good food, beer, and great company.