LooseCrew-JeffO: December 2008


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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chillin' in Leadville

I returned my son to Denver and have ventured out again to Leadville, alone, to recharge.

I'm letting myself be very, very lazy. I'm sleeping as much as I can stand. The days don't last. I must be sleeping them away because they seem like quarter-days, they are over so fast. But I do feel rested.
It is C-C-C-COLD! And sleeping on the cheap in my CR-V and in the snow allows me to feel the full brunt of it.

But life is yin and yang, right?

When I think of everything life has to offer, I HATE work! Did I mince words? (Sorry.) But when I think how we all have to have a job, and I'm not just lucky to have "a" job, but I'm specifically lucky to have the job I have, in the company I'm in, with the people I'm with. Double that, considering how many people are losing their jobs these days. And I have skills beyond most in my profession that allow me to have a job in virtually any city or town in the world. Okay, not just luck - I worked exceptionally hard to gain my skills. But no matter who you are, there's always luck in life.

If I had to live in the snow every day - ouch - that would be harder. But since life is mostly city, I can appreciate Mother Nature. The harshness has beauty. The shapes in the snow and ice that nature sculpts can't be adequately imitated. And the beauty in nature isn't just visual - you can only experience the full beauty if you're in it over a span of time, alone, undistracted. There is no song on an iPod that can compete with the sounds of nature, especially the wind in the winter at night near or above treeline. This is Primal Beauty. This is the Voice of Nature. This is the voice of my Best Friend talking straight into my Soul without using words. It's the Yin to technology's Yang, and I listen as much as I can.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Winter Camping with my Son

My son and I drove to Leadville and then up the hill to the end-of-the-road. It was my usual late start, so we didn't get there until after dark.
The weather was cold, of course, but otherwise very mild.

I loaded up the sled and then we went a ways up the road and then off into the snow. We happened to find a convenient deep depression in the snow. After some shoveling and lots of stomping, we had a flat, hard surface to set the tent up on.

You could see stars through a thin haze overhead, but somehow it snowed all night! It wasn't a heavy snow, but it was amazing that there was never a point where you couldn't see stars, and there was never any puffy clouds - just that haze. So how did we get 6" by morning?

During the night, we each had to get up. Before my son came back in, he shined the flashlight straight up into the night and the falling snow. The snow was way more crystalline than usual, and extremely glittery. He thought that was just the coolest thing and if nothing else, that experience made the whole trip worthwhile.

We ate breakfast at the Provin' Grounds coffee shop, then headed back.

On the way, I stopped to check out the waterfall which I think will be premo' ice-climbing. No doubt it is! It looked extremely high-quality. Now I need to see if I can rope a brother into teaming up with me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

New Drymax Socks

Last night, my Drymax socks arrived. Bob McGillivray from Drymax said he'd ship me some of their new Maximum Protection socks. Along with it, came a hard-bound book detailing the design/construction, and the technology in all their socks.

Very cool!
With the socks I bought previously, i now have three different models of Drymax socks; six pairs total.
While I was volunteering at Rudolph's Revenge, my son apparently read the whole book - as in "studied" the whole book. I was doing research on the 'net and he was just babbling-off all sorts of stuff like he already knew far more than me! Heck, I should be consulting him!
Any ways, I'm not sure how much "data" to give. As a computer tech, I used to be guilty of giving too much info to people. If you do that, people's eyes glaze over right away. If you have a very awesome presentation, you can go further. My documentation/instructions for computer-users is much simpler these days. I've learned that if it can't be said in one or two pages (with images) then it's too long to get into. So I need to choose the right images and words to report on my findings.
The Drymaxsocks website already is the best source of info. A full website is easier to present info. You structure your site such that links and presentations allow deeper investigation (for geeks), but don't bother people who don't have the time or interest in TMI.
A blog post is a bit harder. The info I have is a bit wider, not just about socks. Not only will I discuss hi-tech fabrics, I'll also discuss surfactants, which are used extensively in more products than you would ever think. I'll put something concise together, soon, that I hope people find useful.

Rudolph's Revenge 5K & 10K

Friday night, I went to a friend's house for a very nice Christmas party. It didn't last too long, so we all went home at a decent hour.

The next morning, my alarm went off. I went to turn it off, but missed in the dark, hitting snooze instead - and fell asleep again. So ten minutes later, it went off again. This time I turned it off - and fell asleep again! And over-slept until 8:30. So I got a late start.

The Colorado Runner Magazine Winter Distance Series began today. The weather was clear, cold, and much nicer than the blizzard of two years ago.

This year, instead of helping with registration or Start/Finish, I helped along the course where the 5K runners turn, and the 10K runners go straight. Even though I'm not running much these days, I still enjoyed getting some mileage walking to and from.

There was more traffic than I would have normally expected, so the race really caused some trafffic issues for drivers. I felt bad about that, but it was a sanctioned event. Since I wasn't at the finish, I don't know what the results were, but the weather seemed to really cooperate.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Surprise Aid Station

Tonight, Adam Feerst and I conspired to arrange a surprise aid station in the snowy dark on North Table Mountain.
I haven't been running with the Denver Trail Runners in several months. So no one was expecting to see me at all.
I used a whole can of Nestle Rich Chocolate Cocoa in a 2-gallon cooler. Right after work, it was mixed, then I drove out an hour ahead of the group's ETA for that location.
In a cooler-chest, I had cups, Keebler Pecan Sandies, and Peppermint Schnapps. In my backpack, I had extra winter clothing, in case the forecasted 18mph winds blew in, my backpacking stove, and the 2-gallon cooler full of cocoa. In my one free hand, I carried the back deck of my CR-V, which Honda smartly designed as a fold-out table.
I set up, called Adam to give him my exact location, and then strolled around listening to Pandora.com and looking at the night-time scenery. There's obviously LOTS of wildlife of every size scurrying around North Table Mtn.

They were easy to see long before they arrived. Most had headlamps. I kept mine off until the first people saw me. Several cups were set out with just Schnapps in the bottom, but then I started pooring hot cocoa into them and handing them out, warning people about the Schanpps, and pooring a few for those who don't do alcohol.
It was a hit, and very different than the normal DTR runs where we just head out, run, and come back.

Afterwards, we all headed to a member's house and had our annual Chrismukah holiday potluck party.

Wow, I didn't realize how much I missed them - nor how much some of them missed me. It was good to be back with my extended family. It was very warming to the soul. All around a very good evening.

Other note: NurtaJoint is now back down to $14. It was as low as $11 a couple of years ago, then it went all the way up to $38 - and I refused to buy it. It's supposed to be $14 at my Safeway store until next spring. So I'm stocking up on it.

And finally, here's a photo taken during the Rock Canyon Marathon...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

2009 Schedule

2008 was supposed to be the only crazy schedule, but it's looking like I'll be running all the same races in 2009 - plus Zane Gray and maybe GTR50 or 100. I'm already registered for Zane and Jemez. About to send in my Collegiate Peaks 50 reg. I'm torn between Mtn Air Marathon and Lead King Loop 25K. They're usually on the same day, right after Run Rabbit 50. I just hope real life doesn't interrupt and keep me from running any of these.

Friday, December 12, 2008


There is little doubt that my season is over, whether I want it to be or not.
- Last weekend turned my feet into blister-fests.
- I've been fighting "runners knee" where the patellar tendon below the knee hurt. I've been massaging it and coaxing it ever since July.
- I fell during the Leadville Marathon and cracked my elbow. Very minor. took about 5-6 weeks to heal. Fine after that. Until the beginning of this month. Somehow a tiny speck of bone is floating around in my elbow and when I rest my elbow on a desk or chair arm the wrong way, the pain goes from zero to 100mph in .0001 flat! Since this seemed healed, and now I've got something floating around, my guess is this is permanent. It's not worth surgery.
- I have a sharp pain on the inside/front of my knee. This spot is where the Gracilis and sartorius attach to the tibia and is collectively called the "pes anserinus".
Of these ailments, the last one is the worst. I'm hobbled. I even have to be careful just walking. Prudence says I shouldn't run a step the rest of the year. I hope I can be prudent. I need to go on long walks and hikes to keep myself from going cuckoo.
So far this year, I've gone well over 2300 miles.

I'm trying a 30-day free membership at 24-hour Fitness. So far, the location sucks, it's WAY too crowded, and even though it not expensive, I don't think I'll get my money's worth.
I need to try the Wash Park complex. It's not large, but membership is apparently free, and it's on the way home from work. So even though the complex doesn't have a huge lot to offer, the location and price are primo.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

More on the Rock Canyon Half

I was so self-absorbed, when writing my Rock Canyon report. I didn't actually say much about the race!

This was my 23rd race this year as a direct entrant. There were a few others where I paced, or it was an off-the-grid event.

I highly recommend this race.
Things I like about the Rock Canyon Half:
1 - It's less than two hours drive from home.
2 - It's low-key. The people there clearly love to run.
3 - VERY stiff competition. There were some very impressively fast runners there. It brings out the best in yourself.
4 - In December, it's hard to find races. Sure I prefer ultras, but I've discovered that even 10K's are very important training runs for 100's. The only way to push your muscles to become more efficient is to do speed-training. So, because of (3) above, it's great to find a great training race that pushes me beyond my limits.
5 - The scenery was good, following the Arkansas River below the Pueblo Reservoir. Okay, it's not SJS50 or Hard Rock, but it's way better than more loops around Wash Park.
6 - It didn't cost much: $25 for early reg., $35 on race-day.
7 - The course is fast, with only one pitifully short climb.
8 - Good organization and volunteers.

The weather this year was ideal. I can imagine this race getting the brunt of the worse December weather can dish out. It would be very challenging - and therefore even MORE fun!

Things not to do to Drymax socks

The air in Denver is very dry. In winter, it gets drier than dry.
I'm a "Computer Mad Scientist", as a friend defined me after seeing my lab. You know in the movies, or in TV shows, when they show a super-geek's home (a.k.a. "lab"- because for a true geek, "lab" = "home"). More than a dozen computers, many with the guts hanging out, parts and pieces everywhere. That's my living room.
Dry air is horrible for static electricity. Static electricity can mean death to electronics. So I have an ultrasonic humidifier.
Still, my clothing clings without mercy when I take it out of the drier. So I started using Target's knock-off of Bounce in the drier. This stuff works!

And it ruins Drymax socks.

Drymax didn't fail miserably at the Rock Canyon race. I failed to follow the directions on the packaging that clearly states not to use fabric softener. Yes, I did read the packaging. No, that info was the furthest thing from my mind late on a Friday with the clock ticking and me having to drive to Pueblo in the dark, and still find a place to sleep in the back of my CR-V, and get to the race on time the next morning - a place I'd never been to before.

How can something so minor cause such a drastic performance/behavioral change in socks? The answer is all in molecular chemistry. I've opened a can of worms. Being a techie, and an agnostic, when I get hold of a mystery like this, I'm like a dog with a bone.

So I'm not done testing and racing in Drymax. I mistakenly ruined the molecular behavior of the product, so it wasn't a fair test. Basically, I rendered a high-tech sock down to the level of a cotton gym sock. I'm a bull-in-a-china-shop!

So now I'm doing homework. I'm looking at all kinds of things that have been foreign to me: Valence bond theory, covalent bond, van der Waals force, London dispersion forces, etc. My head is spinning and I only just started. Problem is, you can't define most of these terms without using several of the other terms - which I also don't understand. It's like trying to learn a foreign language by having someone speak to you in the foreign language you don't understand. Yikes. My brain hurts. But like with racing, it's supposed to hurt!
I just hope I don't have fabric softener on my brain, lest I get brain-blisters.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Rock Canyon Half Marathon

This was not on my schedule, but I wanted to do it.
My freind Jerry L. put me onto this, but I didn't see him there.

I drove down Friday night and found a quiet dirt road 10 miles from Pueblo to crawl into the back and sleep. I woke up after only three hours of sleep and then started thinking of stupid stressful stuff. It was hard to shut that out. I probably wasted two hours of sleep. Total sleep: 5hr. And I was SOOO sleepy when I went to bed!

I ate 4 pancakes at IHOP for bnreakfast.
Note to self: Stop at three, when you're about to run a fast, short race!

The park was easy to find. I didn't know anyone, but runners are runners, right? I felt at home.
It was cold before the start, but there was no wind and the sky was clear. I pulled the forecast up on my iPhone and it said the start temp would be 29 degrees, and the finish would be 45. Without any wind, and the sun on you, 45 feels almost perfect!
I ran in shorts and a sleeveless shirt.

I forgot my running shoes! Being paranoid, and a boyscout, I always keep a pair in the back of my car. They're Gore-Tex, and weren't necessary, but they were good enough for a half marathon.

This was my first race test of my new DryMax socks. Let me tell ya - THEY FAILED!!! My feet are MANGLED! I have the biggest, sorest blisters I've ever had in my LIFE! Good to find out at the end of the season with a little race, right? I'll stick with Injinji's+Wright socks for racing. I'll still use the DryMax socks for training.
In the photo, the extent of the blister is marked in red.

The blisters started just half way through. It felt kind of like sand or little gravel got in, but there wasn't any. That was just the skin separating.

I remembered to dose with Astelin and Albuterol, but I still had two asthma attacks. One was at 10 miles, and the other was just after the only real climb on the course. I had to slow, concentrate on form, and chill out.

Even though I didn't place well, I set another milestone! The Rim Rock Run was my first average-pace below 8min./mile. Well today I dropped the average pace to 7:45/mile. I know - the shorter the race the faster your pace SHOULD be, but mine hasn't been. It was like anything between 5K and 50K was the same pace, no matter how I tried. I've done two 10-mile races this year that were barely slower than 8 min./mile. So to do a half-marathon at 7:45 means I've finally broken through my plateau.

I need to push it down to 7 min./mile this winter!

I've got a few tweaks bothering me - all on the left side. Two on the knee and one on the heel. I didn't want to really take time off, but these blisters demand it. So I'll take an extended break - like two whole days! LOL!