Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tier 2 meet-up

Great end to the week.  Up Waterton Canyon on Segment 1 of the Colorado Trail with a bunch of the other "Tier 2" guys - GZ, Wyatt, Brownie, Ryan, Paul, Shannon, Wes, Rick, Brandon, etc.  Everyone seemed to have his own turnaround point - Brandon and I ended up putting in 27ish.  I log a ton of solo miles, so getting to share a big day with others is always a treat.

Almost 7 miles of road before you even get to the...

Friday afternoon turned out to be a mini-adventure of its own.  Armed with just a water bottle, I bit off a bit more than I could chew on my way up and down Mt. Rosa.  I ended up doing quite a bit of postholing - some of it hip-deep - through Frosty Park and down the back side of Rosa.  I can't wait to get up that way once it melts out, though.  I continue to be astounded by the options we have here in the Springs.

High point of 10,999'

Another 70ish mile week in the books, a little over 12k of climbing thanks to the Friday and Sunday runs.  Badger Mountain is on Saturday.  The entrant list is filling in nicely.  Sharmin is sick fast.  Yates finished 10 minutes back of Michael Wolfe in a 50k last fall.  A couple other guys look to make it a pretty fun day.  I'd love to have a strong performance, but there will be no backing off this week.  Collegiate Peaks is just over a month away, so I plan to keep hitting it hard for another couple of weeks.

This year YTD
Mileage - 749 mi (last year 636 mi)
Elevation - 99,000' (last year 50,000')

If this video isn't badass, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A riddle

Meet Bob.  Bob is your average, everyday ultra runner.  (all oxymorons aside, please)  His weekly schedule is pretty steady:  he runs about 5 days a week.  A creature of habit, he runs the same 30-mile loop every weekend for his long run.

Bob's weekly mileage for the past two months:  70, 70, 70, 70, 70, 70, 70, 70.

Meet Bob's brother, Billy.  He runs with Bob every single weekday. He does the same long loop with his brother when he can, which is every other Sunday.  (Billy works one day every weekend, but that day alternates every week)   On the weeks where he works on Sunday, he simply does the long loop on Saturday instead.

Billy's weekly mileage for the past two months:  40, 100, 40, 100, 40, 100, 40, 100.

How is this possible?

And furthermore, what lesson can be learned here?

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Don't ask

Sitting here on a Sunday night with a cold Alaskan Amber, and I'm thinking I could use more weeks like this last one.  Unseasonably warm weather, an awesome kid and girl, a school year just about to hit its peak, and clean dogs(this rarely happens) top the list this week.  I encountered a running milestone this week as well - my first 80-mile week since 1997!

80 miles.  Small potatoes to some in the ultra community.  Heck, plenty of folks competing in distances as short as 10k put that kind of work in regularly.  Elite marathoners like Jake handle 140-150 mph.  Even the dregs of society put in an occasional 80.  So what's the big deal, right?  Simply put, it's MY 80 mile week.  Yeah, it's just a number, but I feel it reflects the quality of training I've been able to maintain over the past few months.  In college, 80 miles - none of which were mountain miles, either - would wreck me.  I feel great today.  Wrapping my head around 100+ during the summer is no longer difficult.

As for the Lemonade.  I had been planning (somewhat) on doing the 13.1 at Salida on Saturday, but my himming and hawing came back and bit me, as it filled up by the time I decided to do it.  Kinda gave myself some lemons there.  Melissa had already planned out a whole day's worth of Cale activities, so I had the time...I just needed a plan.  Enter good ol' Brooks, who also had been shut out of Salida due to his own lack of sign-up ambition.  He shared his plan of an all-city-park run, where we would hit most of Colorado Springs's urban trails in one fell swoop.  Sign me up - this is just the type of thing I needed to turn the Salida snub into something sweet!  Marc joined us for the last 20 on what proved to be just a great run on a bluebird Colorado "winter" morning.

The 8 park 8 pack
I'm currently dealing with a change of perspective I find quite interesting.  Saturday's run marked the fourth time this year I've been 26.2+ for a training run.  Comfortably, with hills, trails, altitude, etc, we clicked away  the first 26.2 in about 3:40.  Today, I enjoyed a long afternoon in the foothills that included a comfortable ascent of the Incline.  The day after a 29-miler.  Really?  The cardinal rule of marathon training, according to gurus like Mr. Higdon and such, says never ever ever ever exceed 20 in training, as the recovery cost is simply too high.  After my first mary, I couldn't walk for a week!  I'm just fascinated at how one's perspective can change.  In order to succeed at a race like Leadville, I really had no choice.  Lucky it's just kind of been a byproduct of doing something I love.

As I said previously - give me a bunch of weeks like this!

Monday - 11 miles / 1,700' up Gold Camp Rd.
Tuesday - 10 miles / 500' (4 miles 6:40's to 6:20's)
Wednesday - 7 miles / 200'
Friday - 10 miles / 1,600'
Saturday - 29 miles / 2,300' (a few 2-4 minute pickups to 6:30's)
Sunday - 14 miles / 3,200' (Incline 28:00ish)
Total - 81 miles / 9,500'

I love falling in love with an album - it only happens once or twice a year.  El Camino has been my baby of 2012.  This song especially.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Why Cave Dog's record will stand and what to do about it

I've been accused of Cave Dog worship by more than one person over the years.  I wouldn't necessarily go that far - heck, I've never met the guy - but I am beyond amazed at the feat he accomplished in September 2000.  As my fitness at ultra-distances and familiarity with Colorado's high peaks increases, my appreciation of just what it took for him to summit all of the state's 14ers in less than 11 days subsequently grows.  I would love to give it a shot myself, but there are two extremely compelling reasons that keep me from doing so.

Logistics/resources  Cave Dog had a dedicated network of friends and family who were all willing and able to commit to an extremely long "day" of crewing.  Imagine how difficult it would be to get 4-5 people to agree to "Hey buddy, any chance you could take two weeks off of work, go without sleeping or showering for days on end, and sit around in a car bored out of your skull for me?"  Cave Dog had the additional carrot of "Oh, and by the way, this effort is likely to be a record that will stand untouched for years.  Would you like to be a part of this?"  This is not the type of endeavor one can just "do."  I honestly couldn't justify putting other people out for that length of time simply to fulfill a selfish goal of doing it.  Unlike a course record on a once-a-year race, Cave Dog put the record so far out of reach that no one has even attempted it since.

The its safest
Risk  In 2011, there were ten deaths on Colorado's fourteeners.  Twelve people died 2010.  Admittedly, the summit-to-death ratio is quite benign when compared to Annapurna or K2.  Thing is, all it takes is a something like a sprained ankle five miles from a trailhead with a severe storm approaching to make things...interesting.  The most impressive part of Cave Dog's feat IMO was the sleep deprivation he endured.  I just can't get myself to imagine myself crossing the knife-edge or catwalk, descending the hourglass (above the snowfield in the picture), or topping out on Sunlight's summit block half-asleep.

Despite the fact that I've resigned myself to foregoing any attempt like this, I still feel compelled to challenge myself to some sort of tangible goal/race/FKT/"thing".  Something that removes the constraints of depending on others.  Something that lessens the risk of falling asleep and dropping off a cliff face.  I've been putting a ton of thought into this, and thus far have come up with two "alternatives."  

The Fourteener Speed Grid.  Some people have heard of the grid.  Fun concept, but ridiculous at the same time.  The "season grid" is a much more attainable goal (each peak in each of the four seasons), but not one that interests me.  Instead, I propose this.  Cut out the sleep deprivation.  Cut out the time constraints.  All one has to do is track how long it took to get from trailhead to summit and back on all 58 peaks.  3,000' rule must be followed from TH to first summit.  This encourages link-ups such as the Crestone Group and Collegiates.  Once you have times recorded for all ascents, tally 'em up.  Don't like one of 'em?  Do that peak again.  Track only your fastest.  How quickly could it be done?  Cave Dog spent 7 days, 7 hours, 51 minutes on the trails.  With sleep, fresh for each one, could the total time be cut down to something in the 6 day range?  Maybe even into the 5s?

Tour de Fourteeners.  This bastardizes the concept a little less, but would be more challenging.  Similar to Le Tour de France or the TransRockies Run, this would be done as a stage race.  (preferably beginning on the same day as Le Tour's prologue, of course)  While the exact order of days would be up to the competitor, the number of days and the groupings would have to remain constant.  Following would be a sample schedule - one that includes easy/hard cycles and limits logistical challenges:
  • July 1 - Eolus, north eolus, Sunlight, Windom
  • July 2 - El Diente, Mt. Wilson, Wilson Peak
  • July 3 - Sneffels
  • July 4 - Redcloud, Sunshine, Handies
  • July 5 - Uncompahgre, Wetterhorn
  • July 6 - San Luis
  • July 7 - Challenger, Kit Carson, Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, Humboldt
  • July 8 - Lindsay, Blanca, Ellingwood, Little Bear
  • July 9 - Culebra
  • July 10 - Snowmass, Capitol
  • July 11 - Castle, Conundrum
  • July 12 - Pyramid, Maroon, North Maroon
  • July 13 - Holy Cross
  • July 14 - north massive, Massive, Elbert, La Plata
  • July 15 - Huron, Missouri, Oxford, Belford, Harvard, Columbia
  • July 16 - Sherman
  • July 17 - Yale, Princeton
  • July 18 - Antero, Tabeguache, Shavano
  • July 19 - Democrat, cameron, Lincoln, Bross
  • July 20 - Quandary
  • July 21 - Grays, Torreys
  • July 22 - Evans, Bierstadt
  • July 23 - Longs
  • July 24 - Pikes
I've been mulling over the former option for over a year, but the latter didn't come to me until a few weeks ago.  The more I think about it, though, the more excited I get over the prospect of not just attempting it, but seeing how many other twisted souls would also try their hand at it some day.

So...are you in?