LooseCrew-JeffO: March 2009


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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2009 Moab 100

The injury I feared did indeed ruin my race. I tried hard. I so totally wanted to finish this. So it had been nearly two weeks since this mystery "injury" showed up one morning. I don't know the cause. My mileage has been low. I stayed off it with NO RUNNING for 10 days, but I could feel it only two miles into the race. By 7 miles, I could tell it was going to be a factor. By 40 miles, it was excruciating. I dragged on, limping until 80.55 miles. Sunday, I could virtually not put any weight on it. This was dumb. Now I'll lose training time. I should have stopped at 40-50 miles. I have way too much money riding on two-dozen race registrations to trash my whole season. I should have stopped, but it's not really part of the ultra-philosophy. Anyways, it wasn't part of my mind going into this.

It was SO MUCH FUN, though!!! Yeah!

Reid Delman and wife Michelle were there, of course, and Alec and Kathy Muthig from Laramie. These are some of my favoritest peoples.

The weather was almost perfect. It was so cold that I actually started the first lap with my down coat on, and tied it around my waist only after going a few miles.
Chris Gerber was there, and quite a few others who I know-but-don't-know but somehow they remember my name easier than I remember. I hate getting old. One couple informed me that I had met them at the 24 Hours of Frisco. I remembered meeting a couple, but for the life of me I can't remember the faces and names. I'm usually in sensory-overload during ultra events, so it's very hard for me. Suffice it to say it felt like a really big outdoor party celebrating what we like to do most.

Even though I didn't finish, this was not a waste of time. I was sure I had the whole hydration/nutrition thing worked out. I certainly consumed the right amount of calories. Hydration was perfect. I peed every hour, even through the 60-degree, cloudless sunny day with extremely low humidity. Last year was not the case. I stayed behind the curve all day and only caught up at night.

Maybe I need to back off on the calories a tiny bit? I'm not sure. I never got naseous, but my gut did a few cramps and I had to use the porta-potty twice. Maybe I'm exceeding the max? For some people that would mean a barf-fest, but for a professional eater like me, it means gastro entertainment.

I also did extremely well on wearing the right clothes. I was never too hot or too cold, even at night when the temps dropped below freezing and some breezes brought the comfort-levels down.
I did screw up forgetting my spare socks. I had two spare pairs of shoes, but I was wearing the only dual pair of socks I had.
I wore Drymax Maximum Protection inside with very thin socks outside for extra slip. I found this works pretty good during training. It doesn't seem like it matters what brand I use, as long as I double-up my socks.
I ended up with a hellacious blister on my right heel, but that, and some other pains, were caused by my "injury" and the over-compensation in other areas as I limped along.

Slickrock is brutal. The sand was luxurious. Every time my feet hit that sand, as fine as powder, my feet went "AAAAAHHHHH!!!YESSSS!!!!!"
This is one race where I believe the extra weight of gel inserts would be worth the weight in gold. Seriously.
My left ankle swelled. I couldn't rise on my toes. On slickrock, it's suicide to let your heels touch while running. But I couldn't stay up. The pain was mind-numbing. So my left heel got hammered. I was worried about my back, but my back seems fine.

My right leg got quite a workout as it tried to take most of the work. As I ended up walking, I had to point my left toes outward so my ankle wouldn't bend as much and pull my injured area. That's what caused the heel blister on the right foot.

This is how the race went for me. I nailed the clothing, hydration, and calories. I nailed the proper mindset. My left leg wasn't up to the task, even though I tried to work past it.

This is the only DNF I don't really feel emotionally bad about. I feel very confident that I did more than I should have. No tail between my legs. I had an exceptionally great time, learned a lot, failed because there was no physical way, and didn't wimp-out at all. Even in my agony I had a good time. I'm really lovin' this ultra stuff.

Zane Gray 50 in four weeks. It'll be a miracle if I can put Humpty-Dumpty back together again in time.

Meghan Of The Desert

The race started March 27 and ends March 6.
They've already finished their 3rd day.
The website is so poorly updated that some of last year's 23rd race is still there. Very confusing when they say Avril 2 is the start, and then a couple days into it they anounce that it already started.
Sorry I'm not up on this very well.
To write a competitor, go here.
Use the drop-down to write anyone!

Monday, March 30, 2009

24th MdS Update

The competitor list has been updated for the 24th Marathon de Sables. There are over 800 people!!

I don't know the whole skinny on how Meghan got involved with this, but I kind of figured that Meghan met Lisa Smith-Batchen and hubby Jay Batchen during or before the Grand Teton Races a couple of years ago. Then, nearly a year ago, Meghan announced she had been accepted into the 24th MdS.
Lisa and Jay run Dreamchasers Outdoor Adventure Club, which specializes in helping individuals and groups with several international sporting endeavors.
I don't know Lisa and Jay. I corresponded a few times trying to get into the 2008 GTR and found them to be extremely friendly people.

I hope the links I give come through okay for everyone. If it comes through in French, and you don't speak French, you should be able to turn to English by clicking a little icon near the top-right corner (if present), that looks half USA flag and half British flag.

The following links (hopefully) will take you to the "Live" links for Meghan and friends. I'm not sure if they are all on the Dreamchasers team, or if Meghan is solo. Bryon's link says his team is Dreamchasers, but none of the others, so I'm a little confused if they're all teamed, or what. The 24th MdS site is still being edited, though, so things keep changing.

24th MdS Live for Lisa Smith-Batchen

24th MdS Live for Gerald Batchen

24th MdS Live for Bryon Powell

24th MdS Live for Meghan Hicks

A couple of days until the race starts.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Marathon De Sables

I have a friend heading to Morocco for the Marathon De Sables. Meghan Hicks and her friend Bryon Powell will be running the 24th Marathon de Sables across the Sahara Desert starting in a few days. It's a 7-day stage-race that is 250km. Each person has to carry all their gear and food for the week on their backs as they navigate. Fluids get restocked each day, and a tent is waiting each evening.
This is one of the major world events, like an EcoChallenge or the Tour de France. This is the shit! And these folks are the pinnacle of human adventure. Wish them luck.

If you go to the weblink, hover the mouse over the Marathon de Sables tab and the drop-down will have a "Live" link. At the time of this writing, you'll still get last year's stats, so Meghan isn't listed yet - not until the race starts. Some of these pages are for this year's 24th running, some are still for the 23rd. You have to pay attention to whether it's still listing for the 23rd or 24th.
First race-day is April 2nd. They'll be quite busy in the days leading up to this start, but that's when the race begins.
We can actually leave messages for Meghan during the race via sat-link in the desert. through the "Live" link. Each evening, she will get her mail.

This is a very complicated process, getting accepted, getting prepared, getting registered, checked, getting yourself all the way there and getting all the official requirements right. There are many critical things each person must do and have. If any one of these things is amiss, they won't let you even start the race. I never did like red-tape. I'm nervous for Meghan and the race hasn't even started! But she's more of a pro with these sorts of things than I ever plan to be, so I probably worry for nothing.

Maybe some day when my son is graduated from High School I'll go galavanting myself. But until then, I just watch people like Meghan and Bryon in awe.

Prep for the Moab 100

I actually have done some homework!
I'm so tired of being too busy to prepare for races, especially races I've never done before.
I did do the Moab 100 last year, and DNF'd at 86 miles. The next day, I ran 7 miles. I never forgave myself for that. Last year's Moab 100 could have (and should have) been my first complete 100.
This year, I plan to do better at consuming the max theoretical absorption quantities of fluids from the time the race starts until an hour after sundown. My theory is that I always get behind on fluids during the sunny hours, and even though I never get critically dehydrated, getting behind on anything during a 100 will make you pay for it later.
I won't be as totally prep'd the way I was at the Boulder 100, but I will be better prep'd than I was last year at the Moab 100.
Like I did at Boulder, I have my 1-gallon bags with my calories, fish-oil, calcium, vitamin C, electrolyte capsules, gelpaks, Dark Chocolate peanut M&M's, etc. It's just that I don't have enough bags for all the laps.
I can't remember how many laps there are.
I don't know exactly how far each lap is.
Last year, I used the info from the website, but the website hadn't been updated for the new course. There is WAY MORE climbing per lap than I had been mentally prepared for. Now I know. There's approximately 11,268ft of climbing. The LT100 has "roughly" 14,000ft of climbing, so the Moab 100 is significantly harder than Boulder, but the lower altitude means it's easier on some people.
Being used to high altitude, running at lower altitudes has not produced any benefits to me.
Overall, the Moab 100 ought to be approximately midway in difficulty between Boulder and Leadville. So I can extrapolate and insist that if I hope to finish Leadville this year, I need to finish Moab in under 27 hours.
So there's my goal. I've gotten extremely little training. I'm not in good shape. I have managed to take off a couple of those extra pounds I packed on after the Bandera 100K, so I'm not feeling "fat", but I still jiggle a little.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


This season has been more fits than starts. Every time I try to crank up my training, something goes wrong.
First, my left knee started hurting.
Then there was a minor pain in my right foot.
Then a significant pain in my left foot between my ankle and toes.
Then I hurt my back while sleeping, of all things.
Then I got a cold.
Now I have an injury on my left calf. It's minor, like all the others. All I have to do is walk it off. But that's not running - it's not training. Like so many other injuries, I have no idea what caused this. I ran the Salida marathon fine. The next day I walked two miles of errands - no issues. Heck, normally my feet hurt some after a hard race. Not this time. Then I woke up Monday with this pain between my calf and my Achilles that feels like a bruise. This is the second injury in a row that didn't exist when I went to bed Sunday night, but was there Monday morning.

One week to the Moab 100.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Salida Marathon PR

Looking at my finishline photo, one thing comes to mind... Man, I'm FAT! It must really suck to get passed by a guy as big as me.
But I didn't pass anyone who hadn't already passed me at the beginning.

Planning was crazy. Starting out, I was just going to drive down, sleep in the back of my CR-V, race and go home - the usual thing.
Then Anita and Tim F said they wanted to split a room. That would be fun!
Then Paul G called and said he wanted to carpool. Okay.
Then his and my plans kept changing every couple of hours for two days.
Then I woke up Friday so sick with a cold that I almost called in sick from work. I told Paul I might not race, and that I should probably do the "wounded-animal thing" and drive off to sleep in the hills so I wouldn't spread it around. I even sent Anita an email she never got in time telling her that.
But then at 2pm Friday, I noticed my throat was okay. I didn't feel okay, but I could tell my body was kicking the cold.
Then suddenly Paul couldn't carpool because a friend was deathly ill with the flu. He was going to drive out the morning of the race.
Then he couldn't even do the race at all!
So I drove down to Salida after work, tried to eat in Salida at several decent restaurants, but someone forgot to mention the recession to Salida. It's not even tourist season and there was a 40-minute wait in my preferred restaurant, and shorter waits other places. I finally gave up and ate at Pizza Hut.

It was nice to be able to hang out with Tim and Anita, swapping stories.
We woke up at, I don't know - it was dark. Coffee. That was the only thing on our minds. I had some cherry pie and some great, dense bread from Anita.
The temperature was somewhere in the low teens, but the forecast was for the temps to shoot up to 58 degrees.

We got our packets, met all our friends that we only see at races, and walked out over the bridge and railroad tracks to the start line.

I wasn't sure how I felt. My cold was mostly gone, but I wasn't feeling very energetic. Immediately, everyone but a handful of people ran out ahead of me. Hardly anyone was behind me. I figured, so what? It's a great day to be running! Just run by effort - you know what your effort is. Put the needle on the mark and hold it.
Last year was the worst course conditions yet, and I PR'd. This year was the best conditions yet. So even though I was recovering from the last of my cold, I figured I still ought to be able to PR.
So I just kept pushing and hoping.
In spite of my cold, and the effort of the race, I continued to recover from the cold during the race. There were infrequent coughing fits that made me walk bent over while I coughed-up a lung, but otherwise it was okay.
So I thought, my PR was just under 5 hours, and a quarter of that is 1:15. Since most of the steepest climbing is the first quarter, if I can make it to the half-marathon turn-around in less than 1:15, then I've got it made.
I made it in 1:12, and the course levels-out after that. Sure there was plenty of climbing, but it was intermittent with lots of rest between. I made it to the halfway point in about 2:19. It was in-the-bag by then. My cold became less and less of a factor as the miles passed.
As usual, being used to ultras, I was still fresh and steady the last quarter of the race, so anyone who wasn't steady got passed.
There was this woman ahead of me. I don't know who she was. I never caught up and never fell behind. I wasn't really racing her, but most women don't blaze down the jagged stuff as well as me. I expected to pass her in the crags, but I never closed the gap on her through the worst of it. I was impressed.

I finished in 4:41:45, shaving about 16 minutes off of last year's time, and setting a new PR for myself at Salida.

Oh, wait, I don't seem so fat in this photo!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lots of birthdays this week

This seems like the week for birthdays. Sunday, Alene Nitzky ran 45K, which converts to 28 miles. So... is she 28 or 45? I'm not tellin'!

I should have posted Sunday evening, but I was really tired. I'm not a morning person, plus it was Daylight Savings Time and I got up at 6am, which used to be 5am. But I knew I would regret missing a golden opportunity to run 28 miles with company, plus get to meet several Ft. Collins runners. It was well worth it. I got to meet Ping, Felix, Nick, and several others.
Check out Alene's site - she has the mostest and bestest photos. I damaged my first one.

One reason I haven't posted until now is that I keep forgetting to bring my camera in from the car. So, yeah, I can drive all the way to Ft. Collins and run 28 miles and drive back, but I'm way too lazy to walk 40 feet to my car to retrieve my camera. I never said I make sense!

This whole Daylight Savings thing is so moronic. Time is supposed to be a standard. If you dink with the standard, it ceases to be "standard". Some countries do DST, some don't. Some compromise and only go 30 minutes. On top of that, we changed it to a few weeks earlier and later. Is it just me, or is this whole situation completely retarded? Hey, if it's such a good idea, then why don't we let it be voluntary. Instead of screwing up the clock, the government can simply "suggest" that all entities, commercial, governmental, academic, and otherwise, should start an hour earlier.

Anyways, I digress... Wednesday morning, my alarm didn't go off. Gee, maybe that was because I stepped on it the night before and broke it? Maybe? And the other one somehow still wasn't changed to the new time. So I woke up at 7:30am, exactly one hour after I was supposed to!!! The good news: I got 9.5 hours of sleep. Normally I'm only caught up on sleep on Saturdays. The bad news: I now have a cold. No wonder I couldn't wake up.

I still ran 7 miles with the Denver Trail Runners tonight, so I'm not THAT sick. Which is good because I have the Salida marathon Saturday. I'm sick enough that it will slow me down if I don't get over it. How long does a cold take? First symptoms on Tuesday. Am I screwed?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


This year is fizzling. I had an easy winter off-season, and now my body is not rising to the occasion. It's taking me 2-3 days to recover from my training runs. I keep ending up with injurious pains that can't be ignored. This was my first winter without a full-blown injury, but it might be even worse than the ones where I was hurt.

Sunday night, I woke up with a hurt back. It was almost nothing. Monday morning, at work, I was mostly okay until I stood up after a couple hours of sitting at my computer. My back was SOOO STIFF! Ouch! I was crippled. And it got worse through the day.
I wish I could remember the dream I must've had! Maybe I dreamed I had sex with a contortionist! That would have been worth it!
I logged a little more mileage in January than last year, but February was about 20 miles short. And that's with last year being a slow ramp-up!
So this year is looking very very bad. I have about 16 races planned, most of which I'm already registered for.

Tonight, at Wash Park, I arrived early like normal to get an extra lap in before the regular Tuesday run. It took me half a mile of repeated false-starts before I could get running and stay running. My back kept spasming. It's a muscle or ligament on my lower back, left side. Once I got going, I was moving okay. Still about a minute per mile slower, but able to pound out the miles with proper form. Except that I couldn't do fast-feet. After Monday, I feel fortunate that I was able to still get my miles.
Tomorrow ought to be better.

Less than two weeks to the Salida Marathon. Also known as the Turret Marathon. Aslo known as the Zeb Pike Marathon (his great-grandson is still alive and hosted the first running). Also known as the "Run Through Time Marathon". I don't think I've ever heard of a race with so many names, but I like them all. I especially like the way the race starts out on easy improved dirt road, then tends to get snowy and icy but still tame until you get 3/4 of the way. Then it starts to get wild - and wilder - and then really narly, and REALLY NARLY!! It is such an awesome end to a trail marathon. I just love it.
But I need a good back for it. There's lots of radical body twists on the jagged descents.