LooseCrew-JeffO: April 2009


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

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Zane Gray 50 - Part II

Holbrook is not a good town to spend the night. Like the night before, trains sang me to sleep all night. The winds on the drive down were pretty bad for trying to go 75mph with mostly a head-wind. I don't think my CR-V was designed for 100mph+ sweeping across it. And the cargo topper didn't help. But it wasn't long before I dropped below the Mogollon Rim where the winds couldn't get to me.
I had never seen it before. It's not so impressive,but I've read several western novels where the Mogollon played a part.
The race finishes several miles from where highway 260 drops off. I stopped to check it out. I hiked down the trail about a kilometer and erected a stick to tell me the next day when I was almost done.
Then it was on to Payson to find Tiny's Italian Restaurant (packet pick-up). Once I pegged it, I drove to the start near Pine. There's plenty of places to park, and no fees or hassles about it. I then checked out about a kilometer of the beginning of the race.
I met Louie Telles from New Mexico. He's a really nice guy. Met him at Jemez and other races since then.
I went back to Payson for my packet and dinner. Got to meet Olga and Larry, and several other friends, but being so far from home, I didn't know as many people. I went to sleep around 9:30pm and had no trouble sleeping.
Wake-up was 4am. The race director was setting things up. I dropped off my dropbags and signed in. I noticed several DNS's on the list, but not sure how many starters. For a 50, there were quite a few DNF's at the Hatchery aid station.
The race started at 5am in the dark. Not much commotion. The RD simply said "go".

Here's some beta: Get warmed up before the race and get ahead. This race has some of the worst single-file traffic-jams of any race I've ever done. I had to have lost a good 20 minutes the first 8 miles until Geronimo aid station. But I was in good company, and I never do so well the first time on any course, so I just tried not to bump into the guys ahead.
After Geronimo, we climbed some more, and I got stuck one last time in another jam. But this time I think I only lost 4-5 minutes. We climbed pretty high, and the veiws began to really pay off.

Oh yes, there were lots of rocks. It was exaggerated, though. True, this is a very rocky course. The rockiest? That's what I heard. If you're a billy-goat like me, the rocks weren't such a bad thing. Even on the course, someone told me it was worse than Bandera. I'm not so sure. Probably, but so comparable.

There was the usual desert cacti, but they weren't the toughest vegetation - not even close. It was these bushes that grew especially thick in the burn areas. The branches on virtually any tree or bush are normally pliable, and you can brush past. Not so with this wicked-tough brush. You try to brush by a little branch and it grabs and almost stops your leg. As your leg powers through, it scratches little gouges in your shins. So we all had some pretty narly legs when done.
One guy was obviously a veteran. He had cut off some tube-socks and wore the tops above his regular socks all the way up to his knees. That way, if a branch grabbed the socks, the tube would only turn while protecting his skin.

Here's some clips to show you what the burn areas were like. In the first one, you can see some of the wicked brush, but with dead limbs. The dead branches were even worst; hardened and bleached by the sun.

It was tough, and it was FUN! This all made me feel like a kid again.

Here's Larry King right before he passed me the first time. We traded positions a couple of times, but ultimately he blew by me in the last few miles with enough speed to get 5 minutes ahead.

I got very dehydrated in the middle of the race. I tried to use two 20oz bottles. It wasn't enough. At Hatchery A.S., I had to use my hydration bladder. I left with 2 liters of water, plus 40 ounces of sport drink. I downed two e-caps, drank a V-8, and ate potato chips and banana. Three gels and nearly a gallon of water... I had to re-hydrate. My calories were good. My electrolytes were good. I was just dry. There's a couple of significant climbs after Hatchery. Climbing with nearly a gallon of water is a hike, but I had to reverse the damage. Somewhere around mile 40, my legs came back.
I DNF'd too many 100's to forget the lesson. You ain't "done". Just load up and keep going.

Here's the last aid station, See Canyon, as I left, I stopped for a photo. The aid stations were fantastic. They really did get us through fast. I love these people!!

The furthest I ever got lost was about 10 feet off-course. It was a hard course to mark, but they did it flawlessly. I've heard that this race wasn't well-organized, but that isn't true anymore, if it ever was. Since this is my first running, and the 20th year of the race, I have no experience with what it used to be. All I can say is the only hitch is getting away from the finishline. You're left to your own methods. There is an $18 shuttle available if you plan that much. I'm not sure how that can work, though. There's no cellphone coverage from the finish area. And who knows when they'll finish, for sure?

Lucky for me, I met Erin S last year at the Leadville 100 Training Camp. She showed up with her boyfriend, Rafael.

I was 34th out of 76 finishers, and I don't know how many DNF's. It was a lousy showing, but I think this year will be that way. I've had too many injuries to get any real training. So i had better get used to just enjoying running.

Just in case, I also somewhat hooked up with Larry, Olga, and Angie.
After reading Angie's blog for 2-3 years, I finally got to meet her. Let me tell ya, her blog doesn't do her justice. You have to meet her to get the "Angie-effect". Angie is the most "real" person I think I've ever met. Somehow, I have to meet her again, even if just moments at a time at aid stations during the Javelina Jundred.

I'm going to have a part three - my day wasn't over!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Zane Gray 50 - Part I

What a Weekend!! I had SO much fun.
I had my ass handed to me during the race, but I still did okay, considering my inability to get any decent training this season.

I left straight from work Wednesday night and parked off I-25. The spot was not fenced, and was closer to some railroad tracks than a fence 80 feet away. Still, just as I was about to get comfy, a pickup rolled up in the moonless night and told me I was on private property. I apologized but said it looked like railroad land. He asked if I was camping. I told him I was sleeping in the back of my CR-V and hitting the road when the sun comes up. He abruptly told me it was okay and drove off. Three trains woke me during the night, 30 feet away, but I fell asleep instantly.

The next day, I headed down to old Fort Union. This fort is one of the more important ones that shaped the West, and played an important role in the Civil War.

I'm surprised that there's very little left of it.
Also, it is one of the few forts that was built three times. The first one was thrown up quickly, as most forts are. But so was the second one, with apparently even less skill. It was the third fort that was made "well", but since they used adobe, there's not much left.

Then I went on to see the Petrified Forest in Arizona. The last time I had seen the Petrified Forest was 31 years ago, when I was 8. I-40 didn't fully exist. My family took the original Route 66 for much of the way.
I'd forgotten the indian ruins and petroglyphs.

The trees were stunning. There were so many thousands of them, and that's only the few that errosion has uncovered so far.

This little rascal was hired by the Park Service to clean up any food dropped by tourists.

The colors are purely coicidental. Funny how they seem to match the colors of a typical Poderosa Pine, but the color of petrified organisms is determined more by the minerals in the surrounding sediments. But the apparent close match sure does have a spooky-eerie realism. I wonder how many pioneers and Native people threw a rock log in a fire, refusing to believe it couldn't burn?

I knew I wasn't going to get another chance to bathe before the race, and I stank already, so I splurged for a motel in Holbrook, AZ.

Race report next time.
Wow, what a contrast between these photos and my last post!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Red Rocks Slush "Run"

Okay, so there wasn't much running, but it was a very good workout in some of the densest snow I've ever traveled in. There was often puddles hidden under the snow, too.

I sorely wish I'd remembered my camera. I know - I have a habit of forgetting. Guilty again. The best shots, in the densest snow were missed. Afterward, I went back with my iPhone and did my best, but the snow had turned to rain, and the snow in the trees was already significantly melted. I tell ya, there's a big difference an hour made!

I was a little late, but it didn't matter since Pete's 2-wheel-drive car couldn't handle the first parking lot. I met him driving out and followed him to a different lot, almost as bad.

We ran to the trailhead and then promptly switched to plow-hiking through 12-15" snow on the steep road up the hogback. On top, the snow was so heavy in the trees, several trees were split down the middle and limbs were broken off. At one point, there were several lumps that were actually 6-7' tall trees bowed down by hundreds of pounds of snow.
Want a drink? Just grab a little slush off a branch!
Ours were the only footprints.

This made 7 days in a row of running without injury. I'm running out of time to get training before the race season onslaught. Just about every weekend from now until the end of July.

Friday, April 17, 2009

There's Something Awesome...

...about running in the snow, while great big giant blobs of snowflakes are falling.
Last night, it was freezing rain. The Denver Trail Runners doesn't run on muddy trails, as a group. Normally 30 or more people show up. Imagine the destruction. So we ran up Lookout Mountain Road, on pavement all the way. But only about 10 showed up.
I wore too many layers, and I wasn't very motivated. I overheated often, and kept walking. Finally, up high, as the rain was turning to snow, I ripped off two of my five layers. AWE!!! Then I started running much better.
My run down was very fast. A car full of college kids drove by as thunder and lightening struck higher on the mountain. They honked their horn and yelled out the windows as dope smoke drifted out.
Only English John and I went out to eat afterwards.

Tonight, I ran around Wash Park. Pete Link was there. What a coincidence, since we had exchanged emails this afternoon about running the 7-mile Red Rocks/Hogback route tomorrow morning. We're both hoping the snow is really deep and the going tough!
This is really good training for the Zane Gray 50. The slush and density of the snow causes us to really use all those little lateral-stability muscles.
I've been running every day. Next week, I run only Tuesday at Wash Park. Monday off. I have to start packing.
I'm driving out - two days of leisurely, safe driving. I'm supposed to meet up with Angie, Olga, Larry, and Erin, and maybe Erin's boyfriend.
I hope to get a hike in of the big meteor crater, if they'll let me in.
This could end up being a really great long weekend!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Health Kick

My ankle has been getting better, and I've been getting better and more runs. Last week, I ran nearly every day, even if slowly and with stops to massage and stretch.
Sunday, I went 14 miles in 40f degree drizzle and 7-10mph north wind.
I've been eating well. My body has demanded certain things on certain days, and there was no refusing. One day, I strongly craved yoghurt and grapefruit - lots of it. Then I still craved lots of fruit the rest of the week. I've never been good about eating proper quantities of fruit. Fact is, too much of a good thing, like ultra-sweet fruit, can be a bad thing. I just figured if my body craved it that bad, there must be a reason, so I indulged. Pineapple, red, purple, and white grapes, apples, grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries. Yum.
Monday, I did a bad thing - Pizza Hut buffet. A salad and four plates of pizza. So after work, I did interval speed-work. Eight miles of intermittent anaerobic runs with aerobic recovery jogging between. Stretching, massage, and a 9th mile of walking.
And I didn't feel my injury. That's not a surprise, since I didn't feel it Sunday until I'd past 10 miles.
I ran the Steamboat marathon last year at 8min/mile. Where is my speed? Bodies have memory. It is easy to trigger your body to return to where it once was. It's much, much harder to go where you've never been before. So if I keep up the speed-work, I ought to be back to my 8min miles, and I can start whittling it down to 7:30's. If I could manage to run a marathon that fast, I'd be down to 3:17. I can dream. Gotta have a goal.

This will also increase my VO2Max. This will ease the stress on my lungs, and should reduce the lungs filling with foam during 100-mile races. It will also allow me to go uphill with less effort. Both are vital during long, high altitude, mountainous ultra-runs.

Not to break the string of misfortunes... Now my left heel hurts. Plantar fasciitis. So not all the pain during the Moab 100 was from bruising. So I've been more religious about icing, ibuprofen, massage, and stretching.

I'm still fat at 173lbs. I jiggle around the love-handles. Still 8 pounds over-weight.
They say you shouldn't weigh yourself very often. I disagree. No, what you should do is not trust the numbers. Weigh yourself often, at different times, to learn the natural fluctuations your weight does. This can sometimes let you know that you didn't drink enough fluids with a meal, because your weight should have shot up much more. Very important to hydrate well with meals so your food can digest properly.
Or it lets you know after a run just how severely dehydrated you are. You can figure out how many ounces of water to drink to get back on balance.
And in the long-run, it allows you to figure out whether you're a pig or if you're headed in the right direction overall.
Maybe if I can keep getting some mileage, I can burn the fat off, instead of staring at a stagnant number.

Tomorrow, I should get on the bike and give the pounding a rest.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Back On My Feet

Tentatively, I'm a runner again. I haven't missed a day this week. I have 33 miles in four days. My runs have been mixed, with both fast running and plenty of walking. Have to stop periodically to massage and probe my ankle, and I'm not much good beyond 6 miles, but slowly-but-surely getting my legs back under me. I think I'll do fine at the Zane Gray 50.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Running Again

My "injury" - or whatever it is - is finally melting away. I'm still not sure what it was. It felt, looked, and acted like a blunt-trauma. It felt like someone hit me with a baseball bat. Maybe I got clobbered by a rock coming down one of the chutes during the Salida Marathon and I was so busy with footing that I didn't notice? Then why did I not notice afterwards, including the entire next day? Still a mystery.

Therapy was wrapping with Ace bandage, icing, and staying off it.
Then lots of massage throughout every day, plus walking.
Thursday, I started with the 5:30 group, and was able to walk the entire 7-mile route in time to finish with the 6:15 group.
I only walked a mile or two the next few days after that.

Saturday, I was supposed to run the Salida Scramble fun-run and pot-luck. But instead, I waited for the plumber, who was supposed to show up between 10am - noon, but instead showed up at 4pm. It took him a couple hours.
Then I took my son to the annual auto-show downtown. We stayed until it closed at 10pm.

Monday, I went out for a shake-down cruise. I ran 4 miles slowly, stopping often to massage and probe to make sure I wasn't doing something stupid and putting too much stress on too soon. I walked the last 1.4 miles for a total 5.4 miles.
Tuesday, I ran! The usual 7.8 miles - three laps around Wash Park.
Today it doesn't hurt, so I'm heading out for what I hope ends up being 8 miles.

I can only hope this ridiculous string of misfortunes is finished and I can actually start getting some mileage in.

Friday, April 03, 2009

More Marathon de Sables

The Marathon de Sables website is one of the most confusing hodge-podges of jibberish that I ever tried to decipher, but after five stages, Her Meghan-ness is at an astounding 42nd place - out of nearly 900 starters!
As far as I can tell, she is the 2nd-place female, with 3rd so far behind there's no chance, and first not to far ahead in 33rd.
And Bryon Powell, well, that guy is obviously not mortal. He's in 19th place!!!
I can't wait for the final tally. These two are a couple of the greatest athletes on this planet. I bow down and worship.