Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Time in Colorado!

CRUD Run - Red Rocks
(Photo by Steve Bremner)

It’s been a typical March week in Colorado. One day in the 60s the next a snow storm, followed by 60s, followed by a snow storm, followed by…

This week was a semi recovery week following Bataan. I was REALLY sore on Monday, but with only two weeks until DawnTillDusk, there is no rest for the wicked, especially after seeing how hard Andy_Henshaw works out. Andy is definitely an up and coming star in the Ultra world. He makes me feel like a wimp, although he did say he considers me an OG Bad Ass (Old Generation), which made me feel a little better… I think.

Monday was a rest day. I pretty much hobbled around the office while everyone made fun of my condition. I did start stretching, something I am going to do consistently from now on. Tuesday was an easy ride home from work which really helped loosen things up. On the way, I came up on Andy and Harsha doing interval workouts and rode along with them. OK get this. Andy was nearing 40 miles as I rode along with him on one of his 4 eight mile tempo runs. Each of his tempo runs were sub 6:30 pace. I rode with him on his 4th eight mile tempo and he averaged 6:15! Makes me feel like a slacker. It was just starting to rain as I left him and by the time I got home it was snowing pretty hard.

Tuesday was an easy ride home from work which really helped loosen things up. On the way, I came up on Andy and Harsha doing interval workouts and rode along with them. OK get this. Andy was nearing 40 miles as I rode along with him on one of his 4 eight mile tempo runs. Each of his tempo runs were sub 6:30 pace. I rode with him on his 4th eight mile tempo and he averaged 6:15! Makes me feel like a slacker. It was just starting to rain as I left him and by the time I got home it was snowing pretty hard.

Wednesday, woke up to 6 inches of snow. Since I rode my bike home and my truck was at work, I had to run to work. It was pretty slow going running in deep snow, and some sections were icy. It’s just under 15 miles to work, but I took a couple short cuts and got it down to 14. Note to self: When running to work, don’t pack a bowl of salad in my backpack. It looks like it went through a blender.

Thursday, I was starting to feel recovered from Bataan, so I decided to ride some hills on the way home. Didn’t break any records but I did get three pretty significant climbs: Perigrin/Blodgett Peak, Flying W/Rossmere, and Flying W again. Legs felt a bit tired, but I was able to get my heart rate up to lactate threshold, so I must be recovering. I also stretched when I got home. (Hard to do when dinner is sitting on the table).

Friday started out with going down to the basement for strength training and stepping in cat puke. Hey at least its Friday! After hitting the weights did a very refreshing and energetic ride to work. Absolutely beautiful morning!

Saturday CRUD run. Eighteen miles starting from downtown through Bear Creek Park to Cheyenne Canyon, Section 16 to Red Rocks, Garden of the Gods, Sonderman Park back to downtown Colorado Springs. As with all CRUD runs, just too much fun. We had typical Colorado Spring weather: started in a blizzard and by the time we finished, the sun was shining and the snow melting.

Happy CRUD Runners
(Photo by Harsha Nagaraj)

Sunday - long road ride. Beautiful day today, with almost no trace of the early snow storm yesterday. Warmed up for an hour then met Kevin and we headed north for some hills on the Air Force Academy and Roller Coaster road. I felt pretty good and climbed decent, but still have a lot of work to do. After riding three hours with Kevin, continued on with some more hills and a loop around Garden of the Gods. Actually felt strongest the last 1 ½ hours.
Less than two weeks until DawntilDusk . My plan is to really hammer next week, then rest up for the first big mountain bike race of the year. Looking forward to it!!!

Training Log
Mon: Rest
Tues: PM: Bike, 1.5 hrs (Ride home)
Wed: AM: Run, 2.2 hrs (Run to work)
Thurs: PM: Bike, 2.2 hrs (Ride home w/Hills)
Fri: AM: Strength/Bike, 0.9 hrs (Ride work)
Sat: AM: Run, 3 hrs (CRUD Run)
Sun: AM: Bike, 5.4 hrs (Road - 5,560 ft climbing)

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Bataan Death March Memorial Marathon

Almost simultaneously with the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attacked several other Pacific islands to include the Philippines. After three months of intense battle, defending the Bataan Peninsula Philippines, American & allied soldiers, starving, low on ammunition, suffering from Malaria and other diseases, surrounded with no chance of re-enforcements, were surrendered to the Japanese. This resulted in what’s known as the Bataan Death March. A 60 miles forced march of 70,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war through atrocious conditions. Beheadings, cutting of throats, casual shootings, bayonet stabbings, rape, disembowelment, crushed skulls resulting from rifle butt beatings, and denial of food or water were all part of a week long march in the tropical heat. Falling down or inability to continue moving was a death sentence, as was any sign of protest. Those who fell were bayoneted and/or run over by tanks or trucks. Those who stopped to help a fallen comrade were also bayoneted. In some instances trucks with Japanese soldiers drove by with bayonets out, slicing the marching prisoners’ throats. When passing a stream, prisoners who broke ranks and went for water were executed. Thousands died on the way. Only 54,000 reached the camp. Once the survivors reached camp, conditions did not improve. They continued to be tortured, starved, and executed in various prison camps scattered throughout Japan & the Pacific. For over three years these men endured unimaginable torture, disease, and starvation. As Japan started losing ground in the war and got word of possible War Crime Trials, an order to execute all witnesses (prisoners) was given. Over 150 American POWs were herded into raid shelters, doused with gasoline, and burned alive. Almost three years after the surrender of Bataan, US Army Rangers along with Filipino Guerillas, pulled off the most daring and successful raid in US history, resulting in the liberation of 512 POWs from Camp Cabanatuan.

97 Years and Still Going!

The Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon is much more than a marathon. It is a weekend of history, emotional ceremonies, meeting and hearing the stories of the dozen or so remaining survivors from this unimaginable ordeal, celebrating our freedom, mingling with people and soldiers from all over the world (Japanese soldiers don’t participate) and running an incredibly scenic marathon on trails through the open desert.

The event starts Saturday with seminars on the history of the Battling Bastards of Bataan, the death march, and the death camps they were subject to for over three years. Then you get to meet the survivors, hear their stories, and ask them questions. A very well organized Pasta party in the late afternoon followed by a free showing of The-Great-Raid: a movie depicting the heroic rescue of the POWs from Camp Cabanatuan.

The start of the marathon was definitely unique. It began with very moving ceremony. Then we were herded in different staging areas (5,700 participants in a plethora of categories) and as we approached the starting line, the survivors shook our hands as we passed.

Once we started I was very surprised to find myself up front in a group of four. After ¾ of a mile, although the pace felt comfortable, I looked at my Garmin and saw we were running about 6:30. Way too fast. I backed off and was caught by three guys and stayed with them for the next two miles. We were still running about 6:40 – 6:45 which again I thought was too fast. (I learned a lesson about going out too fast in the Akron Marathon). So I backed off again. One of the guys backed off with me. I mentioned to him I was too old for that pace. Turned out he was in the same age group as me. For the next 4 or 5 miles we took turns taking the lead, kind of yo-yoing each other until we hit the first major climb. At that point I started to pull away. The climb was a long 5 – 6 mile (I think from miles 8 – 14) that is very similar to Rampart Range Road, a regular part of CRUD runs. I steadily pulled away and slowly started catching the two (5th & 4th places) as we climbed further. I didn’t know how hard to push because I didn’t know how long the hill was. It got the steepest the last mile or so and I almost closed on them. We then ran fairly steep downhill for a couple of miles in which they got away. I tried my best to open it up and let it fly, but my hamstrings were just too tight and I couldn’t open a good stride. Note to self, I REALLY need to do more stretching or yoga or something! By the time we got to the bottom of the hill I was caught from behind from another runner. At this point the course turned into steep rollers along a ridge line. For the next 2 – 3 miles I would open a gap on the ups and he would close it on the downs. We completed a loop by joining back on the same road we ran up about two miles into the climb. We were now running in the opposite direction of the hundreds of runners & marchers going up the hill. Most were soldiers in uniform, some carrying 35 lbs rucksacks. I began falling behind on the descent, again, my hamstrings just wouldn’t stretch far enough to open my stride. It was very cool high fiving the soldiers going up the hill as I was coming down. At the bottom of the hill we turned on to the trail that everyone talked about. The sand traps. This was a long section of very deep sand. The rest of the course was in open desert and sandy, but this was deep and slow going. I tried to run as light as possible and not power through. We were also passing the half marathoners who were mostly walking this section. The guy I ran the ridge with was now out of sight, and with about 6 miles ago, I was starting to get into the survival mode. “Just keep running, stay relaxed, don’t cramp, think positive, take in the mountains and the views” type thinking. The sand pit seemed to last forever, and finally after passing the 22 mark the trail seemed pretty solid. It wound and twisted and never seemed to end. I was passing through hoards of ½ marathoners listening to their IPODS therefore having to zig-zag quite a bit to avoid them. Shortly after passing the 24 mile marker, we passed an aid station with one of the volunteers yelling 2.8 miles to go. I don’t know where he got that, but it was a bit demoralizing. I had some doubts as to how far the finish was after that, but told myself it didn’t matter just keep running. Once past the 25 mile marker, I tried to run the last mile as fast as possible (which wasn’t very fast) and not get caught from behind. I was able to hold on and finished 7th overall and 1st in the old geezer category, in 3:19:41.

The rest of the day was filled with a party only the army can pull off. They put on a fantastic barbecue, great music, with military and civilians just chilling out and enjoying a great weekend. I couldn’t help but look around, take in the scene, and think about what our veterans and soldiers sacrifice, to protect us from the brutality so prevalent in the world so we can have weekends like this. It was truly an honor to meet and shake the hands of the Battered Bastards of Bataan.


Training Log
Tues: AM: Run - 0.8 Hrs easy, PM: Bike - 1.1 hrs (ProCycling Ride, very hard, got dropped on 2nd climb. Yikes!)
Wed: AM: Run – 1 hr w/ 3 mile time trial, PM: Bike – 1 hr ride home
Thurs: AM: Bike – 1 hr ride to work
Fri: AM: Run – 0.5 hrs easy
Sat: AM: Run – 0.5 hrs easy
Sun: AM: Run – 3.3 hrs Bataan Death March Memorial Marathon

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Looks like racing season is upon us. This weekend kicked off the Salida Marathon in which several Team CRUD members took part. The course had several ingredients to make it a classic; long steep hills, mud, snow & ice. Andy Henshaw, a young up and coming ultra running stud, who recently joined Team CRUD, has a great race description at Andy's_Blog. Roswitha ran Colorado Springs St. Patricks Day 5k yesterday also, so racing season at the DeWitt household has officially begun. Next week Jesse, Shannon, and I will take on the BATAAN Death March to kick off the season for the whole family.

Training this week went well. The weather was typical for Colorado Springs this time of year. One day in the 50s, the next snowing. This weekend a classic example. Saturday, beautiful sunny and in the 60s. Today, snowing all afternoon. Suppose to be back in the 60s by Wednesday. Next week will be an easy week, basically to recover from the previous four hard weeks and to be semi-fresh for BATAAN. Looking forward to hearing the stories and meeting the heroes who lived those stories.

This week’s Training:

Mon: Rest
Tues: AM: Run 1.8 hrs (5 * 1 mile tempo w/ ½ mile recovery) PM: Bike 1.5 hrs (Easy ride home)
Wed: AM: Bike 1.1 hrs (Easy ride to work)
Thurs: AM: Run 1.3 hrs (CRUD Hill Climb) PM: Bike 2 hrs (Ride Home w/ 48 min Tempo)
Fri: AM: Bike (Easy Ride to work)
SAT: AM: Run 2 hrs (CRUD) followed by Bike 3.1 hrs (MTB Ute & Palmer Parks)
SUN: AM: Run 1.2 hrs (Trail run & 1 mile barefoot on Eagle View Field) followed by Bike 1.9 hrs (MTB Ute Park)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Good Hard Week

Pikes Peak from Rampart Range
I said this in my Leadman blog and I’ll say it again. Colorado Springs is an awesome place to run and ride.

I took a break Monday after all the riding, running, and moving over the weekend. Boy did I feel great on Tuesday. Before work a spectacularly bright moon lit the way for almost a perfect interval run on Santa Fe Trail. Ran 12 miles to include five 1 mile intervals with 1/2 mile recovery jog between each one. Energy level was high all day at work then rode home in the evening feeling great. While riding home I was feeling good so I did 40 minutes tempo to add some intensity. Great day!

Wednesday; another recovery day with an easy ride to work, then an easy run with Max in the evening. As the temps start warming, I’m only going to be able to take Max on the shorter runs. He was looking for snow to eat and lay in toward the end of this afternoon’s run.

Thursday a hard day starting with the CRUD Hill Climb. This is a 4.2 mile climb that gains 1,480 ft of elevation. I started hard thinking I could get this year’s best time. Big mistake. You’d think after all these years of running and riding, I’d learn. You don’t start a hill climb hard! By about ½ way, my goal went from getting a best time to not walking. Still had my second best time though. In the evening, while riding home from work, felt good so added a few hill climbs. A loop around Garden of the Gods, doing all hills in the biggest gear I could turn, then up Flying W doing the same. Good strength workout.

Friday was another recovery day with just an easy ride to work.

Saturday, another epic CRUD run. Can’t describe how fun this was. A 21 mile trail run with over 4,600 feet of climbing. We reached altitudes above 9,000 feet. There is still quite a bit of ice and snow above 8,000 ft, which made sections of the trails quite treacherous. Views were astounding. Here’s a slide show,(click to bring up full screen) but pictures will never come close to doing these runs justice.

Sunday ended up being a hard miserable (in a good way) day in the saddle. I wanted to ride with a group to start getting in some intensity. I don’t think today was a good day for that. The plan was to meet at Kervin’s house (north of the AFA) and ride a hard three hour loop to Larksburg and back. I rode to Kervin’s, hooked up with Mark G, Dan D, and Beth G. Right from the beginning I was having a hard time keeping up. My legs had no strength or speed, and my body didn’t seem to have much energy. Did I not eat enough after yesterday’s run? To make a long story short, in less than an hour I got dropped. Everyone re-grouped now and then and I caught back on, but when the pace picked up, I was spit out the back like nobody’s business. Going back was against a stiff wind. Even with everyone shielding me from the wind I still couldn’t keep up on the hills. Finally, I told them to go and rode the rest of the way home alone. It was a long miserable ride, about 30 miles against the wind on roller coaster like hills. A couple times I debated calling Roswitha to come get me. But part of training for ultra-endurance events is learning to suffer. I just told myself that it’s rides like these that build character and kept pedaling.

Not sure, but I think alcohol was involved here
Mon: Rest
Tues: AM: Run (5 * 1 mile intervals) 1.7 hrs. PM: Bike (Ride home w/42 min Tempo) 1.9 hrs
Wed: AM: Bike (Ride Work) 1.1 hrs. PM: Run (Trail Run Ute Park) 0.9 hrs
Thurs: AM: Run (CRUD Hill Climb + Columbine) 1.7 hrs PM: Bike (Ride Home w/Big Gear Climbing) 2.1 hrs
Fri: AM: Bike (Ride Work) 1.1 hrs
SAT: AM: Run (CRUD Long Run) 3.9 hrs
SUN: AM Bike (Road Ride) 5.6 hrs