Monday, May 31, 2010

Today's Secret Word is "Hematoma"

More writeup later on Memorial Day weekend, which was fun but had some unexpected turns.

In the meantime, if you're wondering what it looks like to have a giant mass of bruise and blood on the side of your hip, you may click the tiny pics below.

WARNING: Pics may not be safe to open while eating...and possibly not safe for work, especially if you work at an eatery.

UPDATES (Friday, 4-June, One week later):
If I don't update this now, I'll forget. After this happened, of course, I scoured the internet for healing advice. Maybe this will be useful to somebody someday -- mostly, I would say it applies specifically to a hematoma above your wasteband. If it's lower, you gotta worry about femoral artery stuff; if it's higher, you gotta worry about splenic artery stuff. So be careful!

Some observations:
* If you are concerned, get it checked immediately! If you fractured your pelvis or ruptured your spleen (supposedly, both of these hurt a ton, though), you can loose a lot of blood in the pelvis area without necessarily noticing it. By the time you do (blood pressure drops, fainting), it will be too late.
* If you want to feel if you broke a bone, you need to gently move the lump out of the way, and push down on bone. It might take a couple days before you can do this comfortably. If you can stand and walk, though, that's a Good Thign.
* Another test for a "hip pointer" is a to cross your legs while sitting, move your legs away from the hematoma, turn upper body towards it (this stretches tendons/muscles out over the hip), and have someone push on your upper hip.
* A test for femoral breakage is to put your feet straight out, then let them fall together in the middle so your big toes touch and your feet make a "V." Supposedly, some sort of assymetry will be obvious if you have a broken femur.
* Push in around your abdomen area, making sure there's no unusual firmness or pain away from the site of injury -- this would be some sort of organ damage you don't want to mess with.
* If you don't have cuts/abrasions in that area, you might have hit your handlebars or had some other blunt trauma. If you slid on the ground and got some cuts, be even more careful about avoiding infection.

Healing and Treatment

* Mine has decreased in size by about half in a week, thankfully, but is still quite prominent.
* Several medical personnel and friends said this was the largest one they've ever seen (for what that's worth)
* On the other hand, less body fat = less cushioning AND less tissue to hide the swelling, so proportion-wise, it probably looks worse
* Compression has been the biggest help. If you can't or don't see a doctor, you can still go to the pharmacy and get a simple ace bandage and gauze. Wrap that thing as tight as you can stand. Then you can walk or bike without it jiggling around.
* I iced at first for pain (a day or two), now that it's lumpy and clotted, switched to heat (hot bad and baths) to help things move around, drain, and heal.
* ER doctor cut a hole in the side to drain, but it didn't get as much as we'd like. However, I found that I can sit in a bathtub and squeeze some of it out occasionally still. That is, being underwater helps.
* Took hot epsom salt baths. Felt better, but not sure how much it really helped.
* Didn't take much NSAIDs at first, as I didn't want to interfere with healing. Now that it's in a slow recovery phase, been taking mega-ibuprofen, as suggested by Dr.
* Got up to date on the tetanus shot -- not a bad idea, as I get scraped up more than an average Grown Man I guess.

* I guess this can take weeks or months to go away, or might even be lumpy after a year (ugh). I'll update this as I can
* After a day or so to make sure the bleeding has stopped (stops increasing in size, no lightheaded/dizzy feeling from blood loss), active recovery that doesn't cause undue pain seems to be a good thing. I had a hard time walking the next day, but compression helped. 2 days later, I was able to mt. bike. It took 6 days before I could run.

Recovery - 2 Weeks later
* After 2 weeks, this thing is much smaller but still present. It is a tough, moveable lump about the size of half a hard-boiled egg. Very light pain if I push it, but mostly painless.
* Compression, along with some drainage early (due to the doctor's incision), really helped it get smaller
* I really believe that active recovery made a huge difference. With compression, I was able to run after 6 days -- then I was able to run completely uninhibited. It really seemed to shrink after a week of running.
* I also swam a bit with a waterproof bandage after a week, in addition to riding a bike
* I went up to decent elevation (13,800 feet) without any noticeable effects

* I nicknamed mine "Happy"

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Summer Heat is Here...

Greyrock Hiking

Foothills / Bike Path Run

Finally, we had a weekend on tap with ample sunshine and warm temperatures. J had to work Saturday afternoon, so we thought we'd take a quick trip up to Pingree for a night of camping. This was not to be, as a lousy chunk of metal cut my tire just north of the cement plant on 287, ruining those plans, as we weren't going to risk 20ish miles of dirt/snow/mud in the dark on a donut spare tire. There are few things as disheartening as unpacking a car full of unused camping gear, but c'est la vie.

Speaking of gear, on the way out, we planned a quick stop at the Go-lite warehouse sale. That took us more time than planned, as there were a ton of awesome deals. I bought several things I've been thinking about for a few years, but have been too cheap to buy: a decent daypack with waist straps (half the price of other one's I've looked at); a running bottle-holder pack; a sun visor; and a thicker waterproof/windproof jacket. All of these are nice luxuries, granted, to help prevent the backaches/headaches/hypothermia I've had, respectively, on various trips.

Well, I had planned a light hike on Saturday and long run on Sunday, but changed those up so J and I could hike on Sunday instead. I hadn't thought of much of a route, but I've finally learned a few things year-over-year: the first long hot run of the year is tough. The last couple years, I've gotten excited about good weather right about this time of year, only to be crushed with dehydration, etc. This time, I figured on taking it easy, but spending a fair amount of time on my feet. 7 hours seemed like a good number.

Since I hadn't planned on running Saturday, I still had a bit of tightness from pushing speed on already-sore legs a few times earlier in the week, plus a medium-ish tempo on Friday. Anyway, I kept the pace dreadfully slow, around 9.5-10min miles off the bat, and headed south and then west to Maxwell, Pineridge, and the Foothills trail. I mixed trails with the dam roads, and then dropped in for a loop at Reservoir Ridge, before heading East back into town. I did some extra road miles here and then hit the Poudre trail, alternating with some of the dirt along the way.

Keeping my eye on the Poudre, I thought about dipping in for a bit, but it's blowin' right now with all that snowmelt, and nobody was in it. Finally, I reached the last footbridge before College, where a couple guys were near the rope, getting ready to jump in. I paused and watched a guy drop in, then fight quickly back to shore as the current pushed him downstream. It seamed reasonably safe, and I had company, so I took a few jumps, which felt awesome, and chatted with the guys a bit. One was a newly-minted CSU graduate, ready to travel to Guatemala and Mexico for some volunteer/mission work; and the other just moved here from the Republic of Benin (noted to self to look it up later). I had a great time chatting with them and had some great shared philosophies, and I stalled a good 20-25 minutes before running again.

Headed East to the end of the Poudre trail, tacking on all the optional little dirt loops around the ponds, etc., and headed to the Environmental Learning Center, before zigzagging back home...mostly...but then ran past it, so I could get a Mint M&M Blizzard at Dairy Queen. Mmmmm! I figured I'd walk the last mile home and enjoy the day, but I got too bored with walking, so I ran home while eating my Blizzard, and was happy that I handled that without getting sick. So I was on my feet for a good 7 hours or so in the heat, but I did waste a fair amount of time fooling around, too. Overall, though, I felt better as the day went on, and my legs actually loosened up.

Played a bit of softball/baseball, just hitting around Saturday night -- that was great, hadn't done that in years! -- then got up early for a hike up Greyrock with J.

This is my favorite time of year for that hike, as next month I'll be too anxious to get up to the higher peaks, which are still covered in snow. We were making great time on the meadows trail until we missed a turn somehow after cutting partly into the meadow. We followed a steepening social trail for awhile and thought about dead-reckoning/bushwhacking up to the front side, but the downed timber and boulders just got thicker. Begrudgingly, we turned around and lost a good 45 minutes or so, but headed back down to the meadow and the actual FS trail.

Great views and weather on the top. A good number of people and dogs out already, and even more as we were descending. Saw a couple bull snakes on the way (in addition to a couple yesterday while running)...and at least one (other) guy with a couple Go-lite branded items with him.

Anyway, got a bunch of time outside on my feet this weekend, slow but fun and my legs are feeling even better. Can't wait to camp this weekend, and get up to some high stuff all summer.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

5k, the Right Way

The wellness group at my employer puts on a fun run 5k twice a year, which is a cool way to get people out of the cubes and excited about exercising. Furthermore, Runner's Roost has a nice connection with us (and the broader community, for that matter), with some current and ex-engineers working at the Roost. Brad and Steve show up to provide great support with course mile marking and timing -- pretty sweet for a workplace fun run.

After the first few races of modestly sitting back and finishing in the top 3 or 4, I had a good string of running alone in first....until last time, when I inexplicably took a wrong turn and ran nearly 3.5 miles, even though I was all alone in the last mile. Whoops.

This time, Brad joked to me that he's certainly gotten lost on courses before, too. And it was very clearly and generously marked, so he said I shouldn't have a problem.

Normally by now, I'd be a month or so past a marathon, and I'd be doing some speedwork and sharpening. This time, I've slowly recovered from lots of LSD, on my feet and on the bike. With my hamstrings still a touch tight, I notice that I was a little wobbly when trying to put on any speed. I took it easy the last couple days, and the goal today (besides the correct route) was to run relaxed and smooth, and an even pace of 6-min miles, regardless of what was around me, until a possible last-minute kick.

We lined up at the start -- they had a Start and Finish banner! -- with a weather forecast that threatened rain, but actually delivered quite warm sunshine for a morning run. We took off, and I had a clear line to myself. Last year, someone pushed with me about 15 seconds faster than I wanted, and we both paid for it. Even splits!

Mile 1: 5:59...tick...6:00...bam! This is on the cheapest stopwatch I could find at Target.
Mile 2: A bit of a headwind and full sun, but kept charging. We cross near the Start, with some cheers of encouragement. Mile 2 in sight: 12:00...tick...12:01

Then, I heard a bit of chatter behind me. It is evident that someone isn't that far behind me. A cloud of negative thought enters my head in an instant, whispered from a cartoonesque shoulder devil: He's catching up. You're slowing down. You're going to throw up your oatmeal. You can slow down and just go for 19 minutes. This is all stupid and pointless anyway. I can't argue with the last point, but I can choose to ignore the rest.

I made it back off of the sidewalk/path and back onto the road, and decided I wasn't going out that easily. I opened up my stride and pushed, intermingling with some 1-mile walkers. I wasn't going to look back, and if anybody was going to catch me, they were going to have to work, and we'd both be better for it. I hit the last turn and cruised in: my watch said 18:40. Exactly my target pace.

The next guy -- I have to get his name, because I've met him before and am too shy to ask his name again (I need to see things written, then I remember them for life) -- ended up being 17 seconds back. I guess it felt closer than it was, but my push was in the right spot, as I gapped 6 of those seconds in the last mile.

Felt good and relaxed. Not a PR but not far off, and this is just the beginning of a phase when I'm going to add some intervals on the track this summer. Feeling good about that, and good about intuitive pacing. I'm glad I vanquished some self-doubt, but I need to work on this. I am fully aware that a huge component, maybe the largest, of the back half of a 100 is mental. Before I commit, I need some deep training to lean on and trust, and the ability to visualize the entirety of highs and lows.

Finally, it's clear that some competition nearby helps push me along (obvious), so I should hop in a local 5k one of these days when I'm ready to push my hardest at that distance. Digression: One year, we lived within running distance of the Carlsbad 5000, and it was awesome. It's a great course to run a PR, I wish I were better trained back then. The wave starts were great, and we ate breakfast at a favorite local restaurant, the Daily News Cafe, where we got to watch the elites run after we had finished our own.

Anyway, thanks to Runner's Roost, Zquila, Rustic Oven, Silver Mine Subs, and Panera for also providing some food and raffled gift certificates. Pretty fun to have a little mid-morning mid-week race!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring Weekend Trifecta

Skishoe: ~4 miles, Zimmerman Loop
Run: 18 miles flat, MUP through Boyd Lake
Road bike: 108 miles, mixed climbing and flat.

Fri night/Saturday was grey and cloudy, as promised, so we abandoned Fri night camping plans. But Cameron Pass was still getting snow. We left at dawn so we could get there when the snow was the coldest. As we made our way up the Pass, we hit light rain. Lower elevation stuff, including Big South, is significantly melting out, but soon enough, we hit the magic transition to winter wonderland: rain gave way to falling snow, and trees frosted white.

We hadn't been to Michigan Ditch in awhile, so that was our first stop, but the backside of the pass was pretty windy, and opted for the tree-sheltered Zimmerman Loop. A repeat, for sure, but still always a good one.

Besides a very faint single set of ski tracks, we broke trail through sticky snow on the way up. We took a leisurely stroll around the lake, something I hadn't done this year. We went past the wind-swept mounds where, last year, I spent a night in a snow cave. It was still enjoyable snow, especially as it was still falling, but it was just as much work coming back down as it was coming up. Glorified snowshoeing with planks on my feet. Saw no one else: just my wife and the mountains, which is pretty much all I need.

Part of the deal of getting up the canyon by 7 and done by 9:30, was to be back for breakfast at 11.

We'd eaten at Snooze in Denver before and loved it (in fact, a flight of pancakes was my last breakfast before the Silver Rush last year), so we were excited to see one in the Fort. I knew there'd be a wait since we were north of 11AM -- hipster hangover happy hour -- but we took some time to stroll around the nearby outdoor French Market.

After an hour of waiting, Jessica noticed her coworker friend Kelly sitting in the corner. As we got called for a table, the staff quickly accommodated us as a new group of 4, and we had a great time chatting with Kelly and John over a delicious breakfast.

Rainy Tempo Run
It was still cloudy and grey, with pregnant clouds threatening to break, but it was time for a run.

I've felt sore and sluggish for a few weeks now, maybe a month. I've been running more long, slow miles, than typical for this time of year...and racing more long, slow miles, for better or for worse, caught between tapering and recovering. The 50-miler beat me up, but not as much as I thought it would, and the next week's Crosier Mt. run actually beat my up about the same, in half the distance. Either way, my legs still feel a little dull, I've been shortchanging tempo runs and speedwork...and I'm overdue for adding it back.

Time to head back to known quantities. I have an 18-mile out-and-back to Boyd Lake that was my bread-and-butter weekday medium run when taking classes a couple years ago. It's got some neat symmetry and reassuring features to it: 4.5 miles rolling hills to get there; 4.5 miles on 1/4 mile-marked MUP along the lake; water fountains in the summer, and a Dazbog at the other end for water or coffee otherwise. Sure, I love being on the trail, I love being in the mountains, but constraints are reality. I decided to push the pace for the first half, and take it easier coming back. I ran shirtless through the wind and rain, and I got something back that I've been missing for a month or two: the joy of moving swiftly yet effortlessly, without having to think about foot placement -- a chance for my mind to drift off and think about whatever it wants.

That is, the 'constraint' of having to run flat and non-technical, right outside my house, can be remarkably liberating.

Ytinummoc Cissalc Century Ride

Most years, I've already done a century ride (or a few) on the road by now. More running/racing and sublimely crappy weather have put the damper on that for the most part, but I assume I can mail in a hundred miles at any time during the year, even though my legs are certainly not rested. Time to test that assertion. (Last year, 3rd week of May, I was pedaling a bike from the bottom (sea level) to the top (10k+ feet) of Maui).

Sunday -- finally! -- lived up to its name. On the road by 6, I sketched out a route that had early climbing, and late flats. Basically, I took the standard Carter Lake route via Masonville, and tacked on a Hygiene/Longmont/Mead section, then straight up to Windsor.

The morning was beautiful, and I had a bit of a slow climb up Horsetooth. I fiddled with some mechanicals, finding quite a bit of resistance in the derailleur pulleys (insert "I-told-you-so", Neil!) Loosening one of the pulleys made a significant difference. I enjoyed the alternating sun and shadow as I descended to Masonville, where I noticed an aid station.

The "Community Classic" was today, a metric century starting from Loveland. I've found myself riding large sections of organized rides at least half a dozen times now, and all but one of those times I was riding the opposite direction. (The lone exception: I caught up to the tail end of a ride up the Big Thompson canyon, and people clapped/cheered as I reached an aid station for a charity ride -- although I was completely fresh and moving, they thought I was one of the last riders! I replied: "Sorry, I'm just a guy riding his bike!", protested politely when they offered me food and drink, and finally gave in. Then, as I started moving again, I felt kind of bad but tried to cheer on the riders I past going up the Glenhaven swichbacks).

But today, again, was in reverse, which is the direction I prefer, as it gives me a chance to see hundreds, or even thousands, of folks smiling and riding their bikes. I appreciated their enthusiasm as they flew down Carter while I was climbing; and I hope they felt it the other way. And from a practical standpoint, I enjoyed the heightened driver awareness due to all the other bikes on the road.

In either case, that part of the ride was quite enjoyable. I started feeling better the more I rode.

Then, I made my way to Hygiene, and followed the map to North Longmont. Previously, I've skipped through or taken main roads, but since "Mountain View Ave" was a green line on Google maps, I went for it. It was a decent bike lane through neighborhoods, until it was time to head North.

Now I was feeling pretty good. The road I was on -- Co Rd 1 / County Line -- had no shoulder to speak of, but I still glued myself to the white line, enjoying the day in a more rural setting.

And then, something skittered in front of my front tire, as a car went by: a full water bottle.
Instantly, my naive and optimistic mind thought, "Ooops, somebody dropped something!" Then reality sunk in: somebody apparently thought it would be hilarious to take down a guy out riding his bike. Did they place bets before doing this -- will he break an arm? A leg? Will he crash into oncoming traffic and not come home to his wife? No, of course they weren't thinking like that.

What remains is a sick social construct where people can get away with dangerous activity that endangers the lives of others, empowered enclosed and protected in a car, and the virtual anonymity it gives -- what if every license plate and owner were listed publicly instead?

But I digress, and was able to enjoy the rest of my ride. I made it through Johnstown and hit some headwind. Rather than ride a hundred before coming home, I headed straight north to Windsor, and arrived home with 90-some miles down. J came down and hopped on her bike, and we leisurely made our way up to Dairy Queen off of the Spring Creek trail, one of our favorite warm-weather pastimes.

Riding the path in town was a zigzagging zoo of families out enjoying the weather -- and it was great. Serendipitiously, we saw sister Christina out for a ride, and we made a caravan of 3 to DQ. With a mint M&M blizzard, hanging out on the grass near Spring Creek, life couldn't have been much better.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bike versus Ski in May

Like most, I'm sick of the snow up high, ready for the peaks to open up. It's easy to forget, though, how eager we were for snow in October!

If you debate biking vs. skiing this time of year, this video offers a hilarious perspective...

Beginning of a plan...

Denver Marathon: J wanted to do another half this year. Price went up after yesterday, in a convoluted way (cheaper on the "13th" of every month, base price goes up next month). Less than a week after that, my sister gets married. Seemed like a good schedule to beat the legs into submission, so I signed up for the full.

It's been over a year since my last road marathon, and I'll admit, I started missing it more than I thought I would while watching the CM last weekend. But then I signed up, saw all the fees and optional accoutrements ($38 tech shirts, orange "charity" shoelaces, etc.), and then remembered things I *didn't* like about road marathons. But still looking forward to it.

Not sure what to expect. Here's the dilemma: I'm still thinking (logistics pending) about my first 100 in late August. This is the Lean Horse, relatively flat (for a 100) in South Dakota. This would be my goal race. 7 weeks later would be the Denver full. I like how the flatness will help with specificity of running a subsequent marathon...but will running a metric tonne of miles 50% slower than marathon race pace, give or take, blow any chances of a fast marathon? If needed, I can pace with some other friends, be happy to see my wife PR in the half, still enjoy the day while running slower...but that's not my ultimate preference. And, knowing the marathon is coming up after the 100, I would end up throwing a bit more tempo and intervals into some of the ultra training, which might help the 100...or might hurt.

What say you, dear reader? Any data on a fast marathon 7 weeks after a 100? I've read good things about fast 5k's and 10k's just weeks after...and I've read *bad* things about racing a road marathon *before* a 100...Just wondering what to expect here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Crosier Mountain Triple

25.5 miles
8200' climb/descent

A crosier, historically, is a curved, symbolic staff, carried by high ranking Christian officials.

A crosier was carried by the Pope for some time, but during the Middle Ages, the crosier was replaced by a triple cross:

And so ends today's history lesson, abuse of Wikipedia, and a horrible trail running segue.

The Crosier Triple has nothing to do with any of this; rather, it is a devilish invention of Nick Clark, who noted that Crosier Mountain has 3 distinct trailheads, and that doing all three gives over 25 miles and 8k of climbing above Devil's Gulch, between Drake and Estes.

After reading about it last year, it sounded like a fun challenge as soon as the snow melted out -- perfect for the 'shoulder season' before the high peaks melt out completely. Some other neat aspects of the run are that the first climb is the hardest and longest, while the subsequent climbs get respectively shorter. However, all 3 climbs have one thing in common: a beastly half-mile, technical switchback climb to the top. And, if we mention it enough in Blog's, it'll enter the Googleable trail-running vernacular.

We set out at a reasonable pace, but I was happy to let Nick open up a gap, even if we were running 'easy'. I had partly skied this trail early this year, before giving up on uncovered roots and rocks in some steeper sections, even early. Still, I remember seeing a cool little mineshaft and a bunch of mica flakes along the trail. After the first couple of miles, the trail opens up into a gorgeous meadow, followed by a descent through a burn area, around the backside of some large rock formations, and down to a creek. All very gorgeous in their own right -- let alone seeing them again 5 hours later!

We finally reached the junction for the last half-mile climb, and I appropriately sandbagged it so I didn't blow up. One goal for the day was to run every step -- I was at least able to accomplish this. However, I also wanted each climb to be faster than the last, and I failed by a minute on the last one, as I was in pure survival mode. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Anyway, the first climb felt decent, and we cached some supplies. The first descent felt great -- heart rate auto-pilot. Overall, the higher trailheads have some enjoyable smoother singletrack through sections of aspen. Soon we were down, with another climb.

I started feeling it a bit here -- a general weariness. Trying not to make excuses, but maybe I wasn't fully recovered from a 50 the previous week? Well, it's an experiment of 1, so you never really know. No matter, this was still a great workout in the mountains. We saw some folks again for the second time, who started wondering (or figuring out) what was going on. They chuckled, shook their heads, or made jokes about catching up to us later.

I pushed up the 2nd climb and tried not to vomit. Two down. Time to go down again....My quads were protesting a bit, but still holding on, and we were at the bottom. I briefly thought about the road shortcut down to the car -- I didn't want to hold Nick up too much on the next climb and descent -- but he cheerily mentioned "Only one more!" before I had a chance to consider it.

And I'm glad I did. My last climb was the slowest, but survivable. My last descent, my legs really weren't under me, and I had to be overly cautious through the technical sections, as I couldn't trust my foot placement enough from my tired legs. I was glad to make it down without anything stupid happening, but this is exactly what I need right now: more time on the trails, more elevation, and more technical running! This is a good run to be done with in May, and have some cool higher peaks in the schedule for the summer.

Overall, it was a bit tough coming off of Collegiate Peaks, but I'm very glad Nick shared this run with me and kept me going. A bit more on that: I think it's very cool when folks like him, and many of the other local running folk (too many to mention), get people out there and interested in running at all abilities, with various long runs, peak runs, handicapped races, inter-city trail showdowns, and social runs. It's certainly easier to keep your head down and just do your thing in training, than it is to create and promote a running culture like we have up here in the Fort and other towns in Colorado.

Photo courtesy of Nick Clark

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Colorado Marathon Spectating

Colorado Marathon
13.1 or 26.2 Miles -- not run by me!

'Twas a beautiful Sunday morning, with perfect running weather for a marathon. Perhaps, even better, for spectating!

The previous day, I dragged myself up and down Crosier Mountain, thrice, and the previous weekend, I dragged myself 50 miles through the hills near Buena Vista, so it was nice to take a day and watch other people run.

My top runner of interest was my wife, Jessica, who was running the half, along with her friends Tammy and Jenna. Besides the ladies, I knew several other folks running the half and full marathons, so I was hoping to catch a glimpse of them as well.

The best way to spectate a marathon is by bike. I learned this a few years ago when bike-spectating with my friend Jeff, watching his girlfriend running the San Diego marathon, where at one point we sat down in a median with some greasy Mexican food in styrofoam boxes -- good times! Anyway, a bike gives you easy and close access to the runners and various parts of the course, otherwise closed to cars, while also allowing you to carry supplies (your own or picked up from runners) and plentiful supplies of coffee.

So Jonathan and I headed out from Old Town around 6:40AM, making our way up to Ted's Place. I brought my free (as in, found it roadside) steel rigid mountain bike so I could lock it up for a few hours and not worry about it, which slowed us down a bit but ended up giving a good workout heading up 287. On our way up, we saw some of the lead half marathoner's across the way, so I rang my New Belgium bike bell and shouted like a madman, breaking the otherwise desolate silence of that section of course. I was pleasantly surprised to see friend John Mick making great time in his bright-yellow Boston shirt, as promised, and knew he was well on his way to a 1/2 PR.

Soon we were at Ted's Place: mile 4:17 for the 1/2:full course. We had a great vantage point of runners coming out of the canyon, and we were early enough to cheer on plenty of runners. It's been too long -- over a year, I guess -- since doing a road marathon, and I do miss that aspect of energy from people cheering, but it's fun to be on the other side of it as well. I wasn't sure if the marathon started at 6:00 or 6:15, but it turned out it did start early, as we were able to see the leaders coming through as well.

Shortly after, the ladies came through, looking strong but working hard, and threw their jackets and gloves at us, as it was plenty warm enough already. We were able to ride up along 287 a bit to snap some photos, and did some rolling cheers along the way. Then, we took off along 287 as they curved up Bagel Hill.

We then headed for our next planned spot: the Poudre Trail intersection with Taft. We were plenty early, so I regret not stopping at Vern's first for a cinammon roll, but c'est la vie. I locked my bike up and watched runners roll through, when all of the sudden I recognized Pete Stevenson with his trademark arm warmers! As I got in position for a picture, I saw Nick Clark shouted out as well -- Nick made it out for some run-spectating and pacing. It was great seeing those guys out there, as Pete hammered out a massive PR with a sub-2:55, exactly as he predicted and desired.

After more folks rolled through, I also saw my friend Ray Gasser rolling through right at his goal pace. Got a great pic of him, and only later noticed that Alex Alvarez was right next to him as well. Fun to see lots of folks out for this one.

Soon enough, the ladies rolled through. They were working, but still moving strong. As planned, I started running here with Jessica for most of the last 3 miles. She let me pace with her but was in no mood to talk. She kept up a good, consistent pace, running the whole way, as we headed down the bike path, and I stayed out of everyone's way so that I didn't create any extra work for other runners. I got a call from her family to find out they were near the finish line, so I told them I estimated Jess was about 7-8 minutes, and I peeled off the path before the last few turns, out of respect for the finishers, taking a shortcut to the finish.

Jess and Jenna finished strong, right around where they hoped. A good time was had by all! Including Tammy's son John, a mini camera-loving running super-fan!

After this, we headed to Rainbow Cafe for an awesome Mother's Day breakfast -- yum!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Collegiate Peaks Pics

CPTR: Nine-somethin'

Not my best day at Collegiate Peaks. Thought I'd aim for low to mid 8's, depending on the conditions (which ended up being darn near perfect), and definitely 8-something. First half was around 4:02, felt good and felt like I took it easy enough, but blew up in second half and ended up at 9-even. Oh well. First half was a trail run, 2nd half was a trial run. Not happy about the results, but I can't act like I still didn't have fun out there. More than a handful dropped out of the 50, glad I stuck it out and got my money's worth: first time I'd been on my feet for 9 hours, so good training for longer stuff, I guess.

What went well:
1. Weather/Course conditions. Middle day of 3 day unsettled weather pattern, but mostly sunny/partly cloudy all day. A few days of rain/snow before kept the sand packed (relatively). So if you're reading this from the future, and it's raining a few days before, don't worry too much about mud -- the course does drain well.
2. Course itself, mostly: Beautiful views, rolling terrain and flats gave good variety, non-technical enough to go fast but not boring. One of my favorite spots was a flat mini canyon slotted between boulders on both sides.
3. Aid: ample, with an extra surprise station (I thought) around mile 20.

What went wrong:
1. Trail running training....: Whoops! Hadn't done enough trails this year. Most of my winter/spring running is on the flat side of town, where I live. This works great for spring road marathons, not so much for trail. As a weird anecdote that proved this: I was quite looking forward to the last couple of miles of asphalt at the end, and once I hit it, I felt like I was cruising comfortably! That should not be.
2. ...including walking: I walked early and often, but not fast enough, as I noted the few times in the back half when other people walked faster than me. My wife is a pretty fast walker, so when we hike in the summer, this ends up being pretty helpful, more than I perhaps thought.
3. Endurance training: Ironically, I put in more weekly miles for this time of year than usual (maybe 80s and 90s instead of 60s/70s) -- at the expense of a long (>5 hour) weekend day of ski touring or road biking. The upside is that running 4 hours and recovering is pretty easy now, but I haven't had as much training lately metabolizing fat for fuel.
4. Frozen hands: Need to do more investigation on this, but I have poor circulation in my hands. Maybe it's partly arm position and tension, maybe a lighter bottle or something on the waist, but my hands got cold and slightly swollen, and I could barely use them to tie my shoes and even grab a handful of food. It's not elevation, as I've had this problem occasionally in the winter. Maybe my light cotten gloves actually trap moisture and make it worse.
5. Getting lost: Not new to me! The course was generally very well-marked, but I briefly got off trail at a return river crossing (seeing a couple runners up ahead helped me back on track). Then the last road section had me confused. In the morning, I was totally relaxed and barely paid attention to where we were. On the way back, nothing look familiar, as I somehow expected that I'd be able to see town. After about 10 minutes of wondering, seeing no markers or other runners, I finally saw a single orange flag. Then, I missed the last (left) road turn altogether somehow, even though my entire being was focused on finding any sign or hint of orange marking. I knew which way the finish line was, and arbitrarily took the next left, learning later (when looking at the map) of my mistake (which ended up slightly longer due to a final 90-degree turn instead of a curve). So, yup, I didn't even take the right road in. DQ!

6. Shoes: This isn't a new complaint, but my Brooks Cascadia came untied...thrice. If I were given a year and the task to design laces that untied themselves more frequently, I don't think I could beat the stock laces. Shoulda bought new ones. With cold, cramped hands, two of the times took me at least 30 seconds (counting in my head to stay focused) to tie my shoes.

Then, I switched out to my road shoes (Mizuno Wave Riders) at the turnaround. It fixed my lace problem, and mostly worked OK, but I do feel like my feet got beat up over time. Ideally, I would've stuck with the Cascadias with some different laces, and saved several minutes of frustration. In case somebody's googling, some keywords: Brooks Cascadia 4 shoelaces laces untie untied come untied tie sucks replace.


I estimate the combination of the above to have costed, unscientifically, at least 2 hours, maybe 2 hours and 10 minutes, from my time, give-or-take. Pretty much.

This is all silly anyway. I still did manage to travel 50 miles on foot through a pretty corner of the world, which is pretty neat at any speed.

More later on course, views, beer, hot springs, etc.