Monday, June 25, 2012

Colorado On Fire!

Waldo Canyon Fire Courtesy of Kelly Mcgrew
It seems that all of Colorado is on fire right now. I believe ten wildfires at last count. We have a huge one just west of Colorado Springs burning up some of our favorite trails and stomping grounds. It is in its third day and has spread to over 3,500 acres. Temps have been in the high 90s and even reached 100 F on Sunday.  11,000 people were evacuated from their homes including the entire town of Manitou Springs. Over 450 firefighters along with 7 – 10 aircraft have been working in this heat around the clock. And miraculously no structures have been lost so far, even with the fire skirting dangerously close to a major subdivision.   Talk about ultra-endurance. These guys are heroes!

Of course with all this fire, Colorado Springs is covered in a haze of smoke making riding and running a questionable activity. Everything smells like a campfire and the mountains are hidden with a smoky haze.
Scene from I25  crossing Garden of  the Gods Road.

After deciding not to run on Sunday, I finally got restless Sunday evening and went for a run wearing a painter’s mask. I thought “The Leadman is an extreme event that requires extreme preparation” and ran for a little over an hour on a smoky 95 degree afternoon. Since all parks are closed I was force to run a good bit on the roads and with my mask, I definitely got some looks. This is a good week to take it easy though since the first event, The Leadville Marathon is this Saturday. Oh yea there is a fire just outside of Leadville too.
I stopped in my favorite running store the Colorado Running Company for some new shoes. John presented me with a pair of Hoka OneOnes. I said “That is a really ugly shoe.” His reply, “Have you looked in the mirror lately?” That made sense and I bought them… A perfect match!

I was pretty tired this week, stretching a normal three week period into four, so I am really ready for an easy week, which just happens to be the week before the first Leadman event, not to mention Colorado Springs is a hazy smoke pit right now. For those here in Colorado Springs, Care & Share is taking donations of energy bars, water and Gatorade for the fire fighters. Definitely worth doing!

This week's Training Log

Mon AM: Core Strength, crunches, reverse crunches, back bends, and trunk rotations
Tue AM: Ran hills in Ute  Park practicing running down rocky technical descents. Went in by  hotel then run up and down the three major  hills in the park. Felt good and ran the downs better than usual. 1.7 hrs, 10 miles
Tue PM: Pro Cycling ride. 30 min warm-up then up Gold Camp. Legs felt really tired but was able to keep  distance pace, kind of in a no mans land between the 1st and 2nd group. Flatted going  down Orion so rode the rest of the ride alone. Slowest time up Cheyenne Canyon yet 24+ min. Start a second climb but  legs were shot. Headed back to the shop. 2.1 hrs, 30 miles
Wed AM: Easy recovery run - Hanks loop. Legs felt very  tired. Then rode to work. Went as easy as possible but had a strong head wind, so had to push a little. Legs felt pretty shot. Run 0.5 hrs, 3.1 miles. Bike 0.7 hrs 8 miles
Thu AM: Tempo Run. Easy pace  to Woodman/Santa Fe Trail head then tempo from Trail Head to AFA South Gate: 1.6 miles in 12:22, easy past Ice Lake then tempo on AFA hill climb: 0.8 miles in 8:26. Ran relaxed but fast down hill then third tempo from AFA south gate to Woodman Trail head: 1.6 miles in 12:24.. Easy run back home. Ran with new HOKA shoes. Definitely heavier, but softer and will  take some getting use to. Legs felt pretty tired.1.5 hrs, 10.1 miles
Thu PM: Ride with Kevin around AFA counterclockwise from work. Legs were pretty tired and had a hard time keeping up on the climbs. Winds were pretty brutal coming out of the south. Once finished went back to work, grabbed my pack and rode home. Legs are really tired right now. 2hrs, 28 miles
Fri AM: Ride to work. Legs were pretty much dead, so just took it easy and rode as easy as possible. 0.7 hrs, 8 miles
Sat AM: Felt pretty good today. Decided to do some climbing but start tapering for the Leadville Marathon next week too, so only road for a little over 4 hours. Went up Flying W/Rossmere climb in about 8 min, then Gold Camp in 23 min, then 3 * Cheyenne Canyon in 25 min, 24 min, & 23 min. Actually felt better each climb! Rode home through downtown/Santa Fe bike path. Total climbin 5,920 ft. - 4.3 hrs, 54 miles
Sun AM: Ran late in the afternoon/early evening because of  Waldo Canyon Fire and 100 degree temp during the day. Air is very smoky so I wore a painting mask which definitely got some looks from people. Oh  well, Leadman is an extreme event so one sometimes has to do extreme things to train for it. Ran Hank's Open Space, did the hills and practiced running down them, then Santa Fe to Woodman then home. 1.2 hrs, 8 miles

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Racing in my Front Yard!

Raced the Ute Valley Pro XCT Mountain Bike Race Saturday and it was a certainly a shock to the system. I think it’s the first bike race under four hours I’ve done in years. Needless to say it was a sprint right out of the blocks and I was dangling toward the back with my lungs ripped out and legs screaming right from the beginning. The course being practically in my front yard; I know it like the back of my hand. I just haven’t rode at that intensity in years. I’m used to the long stuff! By the second lap I was finally able to adjust to the tempo and get into a rhythm, but the damage was done, I was definitely out of the hunt for top spot in the 50+ age group. I started catching people and focusing on staying relaxed while going fast, especially on the short power climbs. By the third lap I was feeling stronger and reeling in more when I flatted. I had no tools because I thought the race was so short that any mechanical would end the day. It was close to the end of the lap so I rode it flat to the ROTOR tent and re-inflated the tire. It seemed to be holding and off I went. I caught about four more riders in the first half of the fourth and final lap and then another flat. I had nothing to fix it (silly me I left my tools back at the ROTOR tent) so I rode the last half of the lap very slowly and carefully with a flat. Everyone I passed over the last two laps passed me back and I ended up dead last. It was still a lot of fun and just under 1 ½ hours of pure anaerobic hammering; a great workout and an intensity I rarely experience any more.  Just wish I hadn’t forgotten my heart rate monitor, I’d be interested to see how the ol ticker did. Great seeing all my old racing buddies again!
Steve heading up our Mountain

Come dad you're holding us up!
Throughout the day the dogs stopped to take in the view too
To completed the LeadMan sandwich, on Sunday Steve Bremner, Max & Chewy the dogs, and I took a nice 29+ mile jaunt on Pike’s Peak. We got a nice early start at 5:30 am and ran/hiked Barr Trail to the top. We took a different route down, starting with the cog railroad then to an old wagon trail that eventually led to a series of reservoirs.
Following an Old Wagon Trail
The reservoirs were a good thing as it was warming quite a bit the lower we went and the dogs definitely needed water at every opportunity. Both Steve and I eventually ran out of water having to drink from the creeks. At one point we made a right when we should have made a left and ended up in Albequrque. No wait that was bugs bunny.  We ended up at McNichols Reservoir behind Mt. Baldy. We were way off course and had to backtrack until we eventually found the trail leading back to Barr Trail. We came out at no name creek in sweltering heat and had another three miles to the bottom and the next source of water for the dogs. We kept a good pace and the poor dogs were dragging quite a bit. I was super worried for them as it was in the  vicinity of 95 degrees. We had not planned on being out this long but there was nothing we could do now but try  and get them to water as soon as possible. We eventually made it to the bottom where they both headed into the creek and practically laid down in the water. Just a quarter mile more and we were at Steve’s house and finished a truly epic run. Max was pretty shot the rest of the day but he's looking like he may be fully recovered now on Wednesday. As a matter in fact he was very disappointed when I didn’t take him running this morning. I think I’ll give him a couple more days.
Chewy & Max Cooling Off
This week's Training Log

Mon: Core Strength, crunches, reverse crunches, back bends, and trunk rotations
Tues AM: Worked on downhill running this morning. My greatest weakness. Went to Ute Park and ran tempo of various rocky hills then ran as fast as I could down them, focusing on looking ahead and relaxing. Did the NW Corner, the Ridge behind the school, and the no bikes section from the valley. Felt good the whole run. Definitely need to work on downhill trail running at least once a week. 9:37/mile pace. 1.3 hrs, 8 miles
Tues PM: Tues ProCycling shop ride. Felt extremely good today, very reminicent of my old self. 22:18 up Cheyenne Canyon which is about 1 1/2 min faster than last week and I didn't feel like I was pushing it that hard. Felt super strong op Gold Camp also but didn't clock it. HR going up Cheyenne Canyon 149/156. 10:17  up Orion with HR 141/153. HR for entire ride 119/157. 4441 ft of climbing. 2.2 hrs, 30 miles
Wed AM: Tempo Run with Max. Easy pace  to Woodman/Santa Fe Trail head then tempo from Trail Head to AFA South Gate: 1.6 miles in 12:19 @ 7:37/mile, easy past Ice Lake then tempo on AFA hill climb: 0.8 miles in 8:12 @ 9:55/mile. Ran relaxed but fast down hill then third tempo from AFA south gate to Woodman Trail head: 1.6 miles in 11:57 @ 7:24/mile. Easy run back home. Overall pace 8:35/mile Felt really good this morning, running with a big smile! 1.4 hrs, 10.1 miles
Wed PM: Easy ride home from work on mountain bike. Took Santa Fe Trail then an easy loop around Hank's Open Space. Felt pretty tired. HR 102/130. 0.8 hrs, 9.3 miles
Thur AM: Rode over to Ute Park and did a lap of the race course before riding to work. It's kind of flagged so I think I got it right. Felt good riding the course, but felt a little tired riding to work. HR 108/141 1.3 hrs, 14 miles
Thur PM: Worked on my bike to get it ready for race Saturday.
Fri AM: Very easy recovery run with Max - Hank's Loop. Felt kind of stiff and sore at the beginning but limbered up after a mile or so. 9:36/mile, 0.5 hrs, 3.1 miles.
Sat AM: Ute Valley Pro Tour MTB Race. Big shocker - very fast start and I was close to the back right from the start. Too bad I didn't have my HR monitor. Really suffered 1st lap (even though did a 6 mile warm-up including a lap of the course. Felt better on the 2nd lap and started catching people. Flatted on the third lap, stopped at the pit and filled the tire. Unfortunately it was a sidewall tear with a slow leak and went flat again about 1/2 through the 4th lap. Had no CO2 so had to ride last half of lap with a flat. Everyone I passed earlier passed me. Kelly got me right at the finish and I got dead last in the 50+.  1hr: 21 min time.  30 min warm-up, 3 mile cool down after. Total 2.3 hrs 26 miles
Sun AM: Run to top of Pikes Peak then down tracks to Windy Point. Cross Country to old toll road but made wrong turn and ended up at McRenolds Reservoir.  Back tracked and eventuall got back to Barr Trail near No Name Creek. Bar Trail down. 95% when finished, very rough on the dogs Max and Chewey.  8.9 Hours, 29.3 miles

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Weekend in Leadville

Travelled to Leadville with Steve Bremner this weekend for some high altitude biking and running. Steve is a Leadman contender so part of the reason we went was to show him sections of the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike course, and get some good Leadman training. We spent about 7.5 hours on the course so Steve got a good taste of what he signed up for. We’ll go over the rest of the course the day after the Leadville Marathon in three weeks. I’ve mentioned Steve many times in the past as he is an incredible ultra-endurance athlete, a good friend, and has accomplished just about everything under the sun, except mountain biking. Quite a feat to take up mountain biking at 56 years old and signing up for Leadman! If anyone can do it, Steve can.  
Steve Heading Out of Leadville

Sugar Loafin Inbound

Back in Leadville after 7 1/2 Hours on the Trail

We stayed overnight with the intent to run from Twin Lakes over Hope Pass to Winfield and back. We started from a campground so we could cross the river over a bridge vs wading across it as the current was strong and high. The campground was a few miles up the road. We got a bit disoriented and ended up doing a 23 mile loop on sections of the Continental Divide and Colorado Trails instead. It was an incredibly enjoyable run on pristine single track, amazing scenery, and for us new trails! What impressed me the most is I never knew there was so much incredible single track in Leadville. I definitely have to come back here with gang on bikes. As an added bonus we came upon the ruins of InterLaken, a huge resort built in the 1800s and abandoned since World War I. Most of the resort is still in very good shape and the main house has been restored by the US Forest Service. Quite an unexpected treat!

Crossing the River via the Bridge

Pristine Single Track Continental Divide Trail

A Land Owner with a sense of Humer
Moutain bikers and hikers are allowed

Steve Refilling his water bottles

These two days combined with the ProCycling leg buster and lung blaster, tempo runs & rides during the week provided another incredible week for Leadman prep. Three weeks until the first event: The Leadville Marathon!

Training Log June 4 - 10, 2012

Mon: Core strength and rest. Still tired from Ring the Peak
Tue AM: Run with Max to AFA and 1 * up AFA Hill. Did three tempo runs, one north on Santa Fe Trail to south entrance of AFA 10:02 @ 7:36/mile. The second up AFA Hill 8:04 @ 9:59/mile, then from AFA south gate for 7:29 @ 7:47/mile. Overall run avg 8:55/mile. Felt really good considering the super long run on Sat. 1.5 hrs/10 Miles
Tue PM: Shop ride. Legs were tired but still was able to maintain a steady pace and keep the HR where I wanted. Was even able to accelerate a couple times when duking it out at the end of the Gold Camp  climb. Took it easy up Orion. 23:41 up Cheyenne Canon with HR 147/154. Overall HR 122/158 with the 158 reached on the Gold Camp Climb. Total climbing 4,507. Even though tired was able to push it and get my HR where it needed to be. 2.2 hrs/29 miles
Wed AM: Easy run with Max. Hank's open space loop. Walked the uphills. Just wanted to do an easy recovery run. 9:52/mile  0.7 hrs/4.1 miles
Wed PM: Very easy ride home. It was pretty windy so rode a lot in a very small gear just spinning and not fighting the wind. HR 96/117  0.6 hrs/7.6 miles
Thurs AM: Ride to work via MTB Ute Park then  Tempo from north of Costco to North Bridge (Gate) of AFA on Santa Fe Trail. Tempo was 39:45, 9.9 miles, HR 136/143. Overall HR 118/143  1.2 hrs/22 miles
Thurs PM - Ride Home very easy. Went South Gate of AFA then Santa Fe Trail to  Rockrimmon Trail. Went out for run when I got home but was very tired. Legs were dead. Went to Hank's and back. 9:37/mile  Bike 0.7 hrs/8.6 miles, Run 0.4 hrs/2.4 miles
Fri AM: Very easy ride to work. Felt really good and the ride seemed really easy. Went CostCo route 0.7 hrs/8 miles
Sat AM: Leadville training ride with Steve. Great ride and I got a lot of extra climbing in by going to the top of some of the climbs then going back down and riding the rest of the way with Steve. Rode from start to Pipeline and back. HR 120/154 and 8,604 ft of climbing. Mileage was a little high from going back and forth during the ride which is great for training. Climbing Bonus! Definitely need to  look an different tires for the race the current ones are very scetchy! Total  time was > 7.5 hrs actual rolling time 5.9 hrs/62 miles
Sun AM: Leadville training run with Steve. We decided to start from the NF campground rather than Twin Lakes so the bikes would be safe, with plan to run over Hope Pass to Winfield and back. Got a little turned around and ended up running portions of the Continental Divide Trail & Colorado Trail. Incredible trail and incredible run. Scenery was magnificant and we got a bonus of discovering Interlaken, a late 1800 resort that is now a ghost town in still excellent condition! 6,175 ft of climbing. 5 hrs/23 miles

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ring the Peak Run

Its pouring down rain mixed with hail, thunder & Lightening, we’re up above 10,000 feet and now someone is shooting at us. CRUD’s annual Ring the Peak Run was all about adjustments this year and adjust we did! For me it started out with a flat tire on the way to the start. So once the tire was fixed, I  headed to the first aid station at 20 miles (womaned by Jill Hessek and Roswitha) and ran the course in reverse until I joined up with the rest of the starters coming the opposite way. There were approximately 15 starters with seven actually completing the entire 66 mile loop. Because of missing the start I completed 51 miles.
Meeting the leaders heading for the Crags
Jill & Roswitha's "Aid" Station

From the first aid station at the Crags we headed up the trail to Pancake Rocks. I’d never been there before and the rocks really do look like giant pancakes! From there we headed down to the road where we met up with our next aid station hostess, Crissy and her kids, and stocked up on food and water.
The Gang of Eight at Pancake Rocks

Once we left Crissy, our first major adjustment was made after an irate KOA campground owner went ballistic when we were cutting through the campground. I didn’t quite understand it because he was the nicest guy in the world last week when we pulled up on mountain bikes. He opened up the store, let us use the bathrooms and was just out right friendly. Today he was screaming, threatening, cussing, and just crazy with rage! We adjusted and went around.
We continued down the road and eventually to trails that led us to Bison Reservoir. The trail from Bison led to private property that we had to cross to get back to the National Forest and the rumor was the owner was adamantly against anyone traversing “his” land. We were attempting to go around the backside of his property when he saw us and tried to hunt us down in a pick-up truck. We had to adjust and scramble over a ridge and try to go around the front side of the property. We came down the ridge and started climbing another at about the same time a thunderstorm complete with hail broke out. So now we are trying to be elite stealth commandos in bright colored rain jackets! As we were climbing the next ridge we heard three shots. This took our minds off the rain, hail, lightening, and miles in our legs. Making our way over the ridge we came to an opening with about 100 meters of open space, through a field, uphill, that we had to cross to get to National Forest property. All eight of us lined up and made a dash for it. If you ever wanted to see the slowest 100 meter dash in history, that was it. Being above 10,000 feet, with over 40 miles in the legs, running uphill, it was not pretty, but we made it.

For the rest of the run it was your typical mountain running. Steep rocky climbs, the jeep road from Hell as Steve calls it, long rocky descents and just running along in paradise. Eventually we arrived at Frosty’s Park, ran the Pipeline Trail to Jones, then Bear Creek to High Drive where we met Gina Harcrow with her kids for our third aid station. We had stayed together up to this point and kept it together up Palmer Trail to the top of Section 16. At this point darkness was approaching and we were like horses heading for barn. The descent down Section 16 split us up and we all finished within a span of 16 – 17 hours, with Harsha and me finish right at dark.

Incredible run, incredible adventure!

For a bonus Steve Bremner took some video  footage and posted at this link:

Training Log May 28 - June 2 2012 Bike Bike Run Run
  HRS Miles HRS Miles
Monday 2 sets Core 20/reps upper and lower body 12 - 20 reps 2 sets        
Tuesday Ran with Sunrise Striders this  morning in Garden of the Gods. Absolutely great workout. Start at Kissing Camels parking lot, run the trails to Rampart Range Road then did 8 min tempo up, 4 min recovery  down, 8 min tempo up, 2 min recovery up, 8 min tempo down, then easy run back to the parking lot. I was very surprised to be in the top ten of the tempo runs. Felt really good and stayed relaxed on the runs. Tempo - .99 miles 8:07 pace, .96 miles 8:36 pace, 1.4 miles 6:09 pace. 8:44 overall pace with 1,617 ft of climbing.      1.2 8.3
  ProCycling Shop Ride. Felt pretty good considering this past weekend and this morning's workout. Went with the second group and was in the top 3 of each climb (Gold Camp, Cheyenne Canyon, Orion). Tied for first on Gold Camp. Tried to keep HR  below 155. HR 123/158, 4071 ft of climbing. 2.1 29    
Wednesday Easy recover run with Max. Hank's Loop. Felt pretty good. 9:37 pace.     0.5 3.2
  Easy ride home from work. Rode with Steve to Manitou then rode home. Tried to keep hills to a minimum and just ride as easy as possible. HR 104/137 2.1 26    
Thursday Ride to work with Tempo. Rode MTB to work today and did tempo from Critirium Bike Shop to Oracle turn off. Temp stats: 31:37, 7.3 miles, HR 134/142. Felt a little tired but was able to get my HR where it needed to be without too much effort. I could feel fatigue in my legs on each of the hills. Over all ride HR 119/142 1.1 13.5    
Friday Easy run with Max, Hanks Loop. Felt a bit tired this morning. 9:38 Pace.     0.5 3.2
Saturday Ring the Peak. Missed the start due to flat tire, but went to the Crags and ran in reverse until I met the leaders and ended up with 51 miles. Incredible run and adventure. Pretty beat up at the end though. Was in a lot of pain, but felt fairly good on Sunday.     13 51
Sunday Recovered from RTP run yesterday        
    5.3 68.5 15.2 65.7
        20.5 134.2

Ring the Peak Bike

There is a trail system (although not totally complete) that rings Pikes Peak. The official route, which include roads is approximately 75 miles. Other routes that include existing trails through private property covers about 62 miles give or take. This weekend a group of hearty mountain bikers namely my good friend Kevin Cahn, Paul DeWitt of Ultra running fame and no relation to me, Carol Gerber – ultra runner and ultra-biker, Steve Bremner the mountain man of mountain men, and myself set out to “ring the peak” on mountain bikes. We took the official route.  Although all of us were at pretty much the same fitness level, there was a pretty big span in skill level, however, we still had a great ride and experience. Where sections were too technical there were alternate routes that the less skilled riders could ride. I highly recommend the ride to anyone who wants a great challenge and stunning scenery. The trails range from dirt roads, to fast smooth single track, technical descents, and hike a bike climbs. A bit of everything a trail can throw at you. When all was said and done we finished in approximately 10 hours, 75 miles and thousands of feet of climbing. My Garmin battery died after 7.5 hours which was at > 10,200 feet of climbing. It was definitely an epic ride, one which I don’t think any of us will soon forget.

Carol on Sweet Single Track!

Passng by Catamount Reservoir

Steve in the Meadow

Paul & Carol lovin it!
So on Sunday the day after Ring the Peak I started on a run with Max to complete my weekend “Leadman Sandwich”. I thought it was going to be a short run but I felt so good that I didn’t finish until a little over 20 miles later! I even added an extra hill up Flying W at the end. After all one of the keys to Leadman training is to get the back to back long ride & run sandwiched between two rest days. These kind of weekends are very good for confidence building which is a big part of completing something like Leadman.

Training Log 21 - 27 May 2012BikeBikeRunRun
TuesdayRun with Max in Ute Park. Took it easy, legs feeling pretty tired from last weeks Gentlemens Ride.  10:35 pace, 1,212 ft of climbing. 10:35 pace1.37.5
ProCycling shop ride. Felt surprisingly good this evening. Went with second group and was between 3rd and 5th on each climb. Gold Camp, Cheyenne Canyon, and Orion. HR 124/162, 4,068 ft climbing.2.328
WednesdayEasy run with Max, Hank's Loop. 9:55 pace.0.53.2
ThursdayEasy run with Max and Primus to Ice Lake Parking lot and back. Had to make a lot of stops with Primus peeing and pooping ans sniffing along the way. Felt really good. Best I've felt on a run since back from the bike trip.1.48
Ride home from work. Now have Garmin on Autostop so only ride time is measure. Avg speed 11 MPH HR 96/132. Started to do tempo ride on Santa Fe Trail but legs were trashed, so just did easy recovery ride back home. Need to save it for Sat.111.4
FridayEasy ride to work on Road Bike. Went up new section of bike path instead of CostCo. Felt good.0.68
SaturdayRing the Peak Ride. Great Ride, but a lot of waiting. Felt good pretty much the whole ride, but was ready to be done. Ride was with Steve Bremner, Paul DeWitt, Kevin Cahn, and Carol Gerber. Great group to ride with. Took Gold Camp back as it was not a good idea for Carol to ride Frosty's/Jones/Bear Creek trails since here technical skills were questionable. Still a great ride and great workout.10.575
SundayEasy run that turned out to be longer than planned because I felt good and I know I have to do these LeadMan sandwiches to get effective training in. Ran with Max to Ice Lake and back then dropped him off since it was hot, then ran in Ute Park for a couple of hours. Added the Flying W hill for an extra climb.3.620.5