25 December 2011

December Fun

It's been awhile since I've posted it seems.  Day 42 was so 3 weeks ago!  Today, Christmas Day, I got out for a nice 7.5miles at Coyote Ridge, marking day 62 of the streak.  I ran easy today, soaking in the sunshine and enjoying the chance to run in shorts on snow covered trails, not paying too much attention to how much the snow can slow you down.  The first couple miles were well packed and somewhat runnable, but on the back side of the ridge there was some mud and there were a few spots that were almost Trudge-worthy, though they were very short.  It was the second day in a row the weather was just about perfect, sunny, temperate, no wind, and great views of last week's snow.

Only about half way up to my knee here, it would be an easy Trudge.

Last week the Fort Collins Trail Runners had a Festivus run, ironically to view Christmas lights at the Gardens on Spring Creek.  I love my FCTR buddies, but some of them do not know what a social pace is when the surface is hard and flat and it is cold outside.  It wasn't long before I was at the back, totally dusted by the rest of the group.  Fortunately a few of my kind of runners were in back with me, and with some company the run was enjoyable.  The lights at the Gardens were pretty cool, I liked the Preying Mantis the best and there were several cool displays.  No pictures of these though as a couple weeks ago my camera died.  Overall the run was over 10 miles, a good reminder that I need to start working a longer mid-week run into my schedule as Moab nears.

The run was just the appetizer though, as we had Chili, and corn bread and chili, and beer, and chili once we got back to Cat's, and then we were treated to a great dance routine by the ladies of the FCTR - choreographed and directed by our own Victoria.  It was entertaining, especially the second time with Scott and Pete joining in.  I love the FCTR community, it was so much fun hanging out with everyone after the run, eating, drinking, swapping tale tails or training tips, just catching up, whatever.  And a special Thanks! to Dave, Cat's husband, who brews beer for us and doesn't complain when we invade his house just hours after he returns to town from a long business trip.

The Thursday before was the 2nd running of the VBM.  Warning: Not all the images at that link are safe for human eyes.  The VBM, I had to miss it as it was not run on the traditional last Towers Thursday of the year.  I was bummed to say the least, but it's your prerogative when you're So Damn Fresh, you get to change well established race days to suit your personal travel schedule.  From the stories I've heard I missed every bit as much fun as I thought I would.  Congrats to one of my kind of runners, Mindy Clarke, for taking home the women's title though, with a new course record to boot.  She beat some formidable competition.

The Thursday before that some of us FCTRs joined the Fort Collins Running Club for a holiday lights running tour and potluck.  Thursdays are where it's at, eh?  The runners in the FCRC are fast too, but they didn't take off at quite the speed the FCTR runners did so I was able to hang with them, mostly, for 5 miles. The last 2 miles Ellen kindly hung back with me and humored me by telling me she too hoped she could run under 4 hours in the Colorado Marathon this spring.  Those road runners have a lot more desserts at their potlucks.  I think they remind them of GU.  They have about the same amount of beer though, so I won't complain.

And this brings us to the big event for December, the Chubby Cheeks JV/Marathon/50K, held on Dec. 10th. This is So Damn Fresh, should be UROY, Nick Clark's fat ass-style race, in it's second year.  2011 provided much more snow than the 2010 version.  I opted for the 7 AM start again, because I'm slow.  I was kind of hoping to run the marathon course but knew going in that the 21.5 mile JV course was probably the right choice.  My last 20+ mile run had been in August, afterall.  Anyway, I had until Mile 12 to decide.  I ran nearly all day with Marie, Mary, and Laura, though there were big chunks of the day that others were with us as well.  We had a good time, listening to Marie needle everyone in to running up to Arthur's rock with her (which was on the marathon route, not the JV).  I secretly wanted to run to Arthur's too, and maybe cut off some elevation gain on the return. That was exactly how things turned out.  I'm not sure how I worked that one, while keeping mostly silent, but I was glad to work some magic  This is not the turn you are looking for.

The running was hard in El Chubbo this year.  I mean it's difficult any time as Nick has us running up and down and back up nearly anything that looks like a peak in Horsetooth or Lory.  Now throw snow, 8-10" of snow, and ice on top of things (like the entirety of Horsetooth Rock) and it's down right slow.  7:40 slow. That's 7 hours, 40 minutes, our time for the 23 mile JV+ version (5000 ft vert) Marie and I ran.  Last year it took us 7:20 to run the marathon course, which was an extra 3 miles and extra 500-1000 ft of vert.  It was fun though, as almost any day on the trail with my fellow FCTR runners is.  We had good conversation, good laughs, and good views.  And the weather was pretty nice as well.  My camera broke about 9 miles in, so I didn't get a ton of pictures, but the ones I did snag are below.  Hopefully I captured some of the magic that was out there that day.  There were times it seemed almost magical running on lightly used trails throught the trees in nearly pristine snow.  After the "race" we hung at Nick and Dana's place and had a potluck, of all things.  People think we like to run a lot because we're nuts, but really we just like to eat.  And evidently we're all pretty good cooks.

So, while I haven't been posting this month, I have been running.  And eating at potlucks.  December will be one of my bigger months of 2011, due mostly to the consistency the Streak provides, not any huge runs.  As I mentioned up top, my run today was day 62 of the streak. On the 15th I hit my 2011 mileage goal of 1620 miles (50K/week) and Monday I should hit 1700 miles for the year.  And the year isn't over yet, six more days of running, surely some shenanigans, and one race, the Resolution Run 5K, are left. 

It is time to start thinking about 2012 goals ... 50 miles a week sounds too daunting.  Maybe run my age every week, 43 miles a week seems possible.  Or maybe just a nice fat round number like 2000.  I've got a few days to decide.  One goal I know I'll keep is to eat healthier and lose some more weight.  I'm feeling better with the little I've lost, but know if I can lose the rest then I can hang up with fast kids instead of being in the back for the 2012 holiday light tours.  Another goal I'll keep is continuing the Streak.  It's been great for keeping me consistent and for getting my head back into the game of running.  It also helps with overall planning.  I'm glad Ean came up with this idea and inspired me to jump on board.

Heading up Audra Culver
There are some great views on the infrequently used Audra Culver Trail.  
Horsetooth Rock up close and personal
Longs and Meeker, always looking over us.

This snow was sooo sparkly, it was like there were diamonds littered about.


05 December 2011

The Ultimate Question

Today was day 42 of my streak.  Naturally I assumed when I went out for my run this afternoon I would return knowing the the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.  Well, not the answer, everybody knows that, what I hoped to learn was what was the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.  Things went well.  It was a lovely afternoon today, clear, calm, and about 4°F when I headed out with a co-worker, a fellow streaker.  We headed out for the "Feather Ridge 2.5" mile route, decided to veer off on the "pi" route, a 3.14 mile route, and then again took another turn to run the "Bernice 4" route (now known as the "6 X 9" route).  Running a bit faster than normal in the chill air the small talk slowly gave way to a wonderful transcendence I didn't want to end.  Unfortunately time didn't permit another detour and we returned to the plant site and back to our normal plane of existence. We were stronger, a little colder, and wiser.  I'd tell you what we discovered, what the question is, but then you would have no reason to start you own streak, would you?  

Long Live The Streak

30 November 2011

November Ramblings

  I just logged my miles for today's run and tallied up the month of November.  I ran 10 more miles in November than I did in October, and September, combined.  Long live the streak.  Really just long live the recommittment to running, as that was half the reason for the Streak.

  The Streak really is the story for November.  I finished November at 37 days straight, 187.5 miles over those 37 days, just over 5 miles a day average.  My previous longest streak was 6, maybe 7 days, but then I never tried to streak before.  At 1525 miles I am already past my 2010 mileage total and am 43 miles ahead of pace to meet my 50K/week goal of 1620 miles in 2011.  Most importantly I have looked forward to my run every day, I haven't yet had a dread run.  I'm also feeling good, sure I have little aches and pains here and there, but nothing major, nothing lingering.

  I ran 2 races in November, a T&H 5K and the Thanksgiving Day 4M.  Both were a bit disappointing, neither close to a PB, neither close to what I was running like last spring.  The 35:30 in the 4M was almost a minute faster than my 5K time from 3 weeks earlier would predict, but I was shooting for 35:00.  This year my time was 1:59 slower than 2010 and 8 seconds slower than 2009 when I running with a seriously pissed off IT Band.  Ugh.

  It's frustrating to be slower than I was only 6 months ago and getting harder and harder to ignore a factor bigger than my September and October slacking on the running front, and that is the 15 lbs that I've let creep on since Big Horn.  I'll be damned if it doesn't make it more difficult to run fast.  Who knew?  Well I did, I do, and another part of starting the streak was gaining some momentum to start eating better.  I think it's time.

  December brings on another T&H race, 10K this time.  McMillian says I can run a 56:23, seeding off the Thanksgiving Race, so I guess that's a good goal.  Ugh, that's a far cry from my 51:39 PR.  Run like the runner you are, not the runner you want to be, right?  Must.  Banish.  Negative.  Thoughts.  On the positive front, this will by my second T&H time of the season and after that my handicap will be based on this season's results, not last seasons.  It will be more fun to start further up in the field, where I should be, in the January race and not have to worry about being DFL (as I was in Nov).  The T&H format really is fun if you're seeded right and are in the thick of things come finish time.

  Well, that's enough rambling for now.  Long live the streak!


19 November 2011

Bonus Snow

Sandis got up this morning, looked outside at the fresh snow, and immediately asked if she could go outside to play.  No surprise there, that's what kids do.  I remember how exciting it was to wake up to fresh snow as a kid, how I couldn't wait to go sledding down the hill beside our house.  And it was extra exciting when you weren't anticipating any snow, when it was a total surprise.  As a kid, it seemed most anticipated snow stormswouldn't live up to what I imagined, but the surprise snows, they were pure bonus.

So I woke up this morning, planning on a boring 5-6 miles on the roads before Shawn headed to work.  When I looked out side though, Bonus!, snow on the ground, and it was still falling.  It was time for a change of plans.  I put on my running gear, grabbed some coffee, and headed out to Coyote Ridge.  Running snowy trails, instead of the roads, was surely going to mean fewer miles in my limited time but you can't pass up a chance to lay some fresh tracks.  The trail was very peaceful today.  Other than some rabbit and coyote tracks, and a couple mole trails, the snow was a beautiful undisturbed white blanket.  There was a slight breeze, not enough to make it cold, and birds chirping as the only sounds other than the inimitable squeaky crunch of running shoes on fresh snow.  This morning's run was so much more than I thought of when I went to bed last night.  It was fun to act like a kid again.

After the track Tuesday and Towers Thursday (and 26 days of streaking I suppose) I'm still feeling a little tired.  The legs were a bit heavy this morning.  Tomorrow I'm heading out with some fellow FCTR folk for some good vert on part of the Chubby Cheeks course.  After that I think I'll take it easy for a few days so I can give the Thanksgiving Day run a good go.  I think something around 35 minutes is within reach, maybe 34 if the stars align.  At one time I was hoping this would be the year I finally break 32, but I'm just not there right now.  I'll run hard and be happy with that, whatever it is.  

17 November 2011

Dear Towers

Dear Towers, 
 While you technically still have the upper hand, I'm gaining ground on you. Tonight's time was not a Personal Best, not even close, but it was over 5 minutes faster than my last trip up. And it felt good. Yes, I enjoyed every uphill step. I'm getting my running Mojo back. If I were you, I'd be scared. 


 P.S. I'm already thinking about 24 HoT. The side of your building is going to be sore after I'm done slapping it.

15 November 2011


So it takes 21 days to create a habit? Yesterday was day 21 of streaking for me. Streaking would be a new habit I suppose, but running is not a new habit. I don't yet feel I've taken on anything new, more just re-dedicated myself to running the way I want to. I look forward to the remaining 47 days of the year (and beyond?) to see if my perspective on this might change.

13 November 2011

Road map

Buried in the comments of a post below is my Colorado Marathon goal of sub-4:00.  There's still a lot of time before that day, nearly six months, and that's probably a good thing.  I have a lot of ground to cover, so to speak.  I punched a 3:59:59 marathon into McMillan to see what my minimum goal times for shorter races should be if I want to achieve a sub-4:00 marathon.  Given the 28 min 5K+ (the race director really should mark the course better) I ran at the Tortoise and Hare series last weekend it's easy to be discouraged.  Being a glass half full kind of guy I like to remember that I ran 1M and 5K distances faster than those paces last April and was within a minute or so at the 8K and 12K distances last spring.  And if I really drink the kool-aid I could take my Pineridge Downhill Mile times and Towers times and convert them to marathon potential using the FCTR correlations.  My PB's on these courses suggest a 3:45 would be possible.  Clearly the correlation falls apart as runners get slower.  3:45?  That's crazy talk.  I'll wait until March to think about that.

I believe I can get to sub-4 though.  It's good to have a road map with some check points on it to track progress and help set goals, so mine is below.  As the Tortoise and Hare series winds down in the spring and as the spring racing season starts I hope to be crossing off all these distances and times.

1M 07:06 07:06
4K 19:17 07:46
5K 24:37 07:55
4M 32:12 08:03
8K 40:34 08:10
10K 51:08 08:14
12K 1:02:23 08:22
Half 1:53:47 08:41
PDM 07:20 07:20
Towers 49:28 14:20

11 November 2011


  I'm streaking.  A little earlier I went for a run for the 18th straight day. I have never thought of streaking before, I always thought it was not for me.  The spark of doing so just happened at the perfect moment, and here I am.  One could make a convincing argument that I am incapable of saying No to things suggested by my crazy running friends (it's true, but at least it's reciprocal), but this goes beyond that.  I'm not doing this as a stunt, or just because I can, but because it is what I need to do.

  Two weeks ago on a social run with the Fort Collins Trail Runners there was a buzz regarding a running streak planned by Ean.  During the run that night I thought about it, at first I had no intention of joining her, but as I continued to run and think I realized it was exactly the thing I needed to snap me out of the running funk I was in.  After that run I read Ean's post about it, read about Ashley's recent streaking, and thought about some things Pete has said about why he streaks.   It didn't take long and I was all in.  I knew this was the way back to the running they way I wanted to.  It's funny how things can click together so quickly, in a couple hours or less I went from not even thinking about a streak to being fully committed.

  I've typically cut back on mileage in August and September, I just get tired of running in the heat.  This year the mileage cutbacks and some weight I've put on left me losing fitness faster than normal.  That led to slower paces out running, slower times up Towers, and that all led to me feeling sorry for myself.  Throw in some kinks in the my normal running schedule and before I knew it I was as slow as I can remember being in a long time and not running much at all.  It's not that running wasn't fun, but thinking about running wasn't fun, and I blew off more than one Sunday run so as not to have to face the facts on how much I had lost.  It's a downward spiral I tell you.  I needed to get my running Mojo back.

  So I decided to start a running streak.  I started the next day, Friday.  Or maybe the Tuesday before, as I'd already run 3 days in a row.  I've been counting the extra 3 days because I'm not (always) a purist.  I wanted to keep things simple and accessible, not set the bar too high.  I was afraid I'd end up saying "fuck it" someday, and then throw away a 30 day streak and end up back on that downward spiral.  The single parameter of my streak is simple, run at least 1 mile every day.  I plan on an average of  at least 4.1 miles a day as that is where I need to be to hit my 2011 total mileage goal but that is really secondary.  I also plan on taking Pete's advice and am not making the streak about training.  I'll celebrate a 65/68 day streak by running the Resolution Run 5K on the evening of December 31st, hopefully with some fellow streakers, and sometime between now and then contemplate what 2012 will bring.

  As I said up top, I'm sitting at 18 days.  I've definitely found some of the same things Pete mentioned, mostly that it takes some planning and discipline to get a run in every day.  I have run at night a couple times because I just didn't make time during the day but have yet to really put it off.  This has been a good thing though, and I find I focus more on everything, not just running.  I've also got a few recruits at work on the streaking bandwagon.  After mentioning it to a couple of my running buddies at work they got on board too and the word spread around.  As of Wednesday this week there were 7 or 8 who had some sort of streak going.  I don't know if they will all keep going until the New Year, but it's still kind of cool to see them get excited about running.

  Long live the streak!

09 November 2011

The Track

I went to the track and ran intervals last night.  Honestly I don't remember the last time I went to a track and did that.  I'm pretty certain this was a 2011 first, and I didn't go much last year.  Really I haven't done much fast stuff since I hurt my IT Band in October 2009.  Before that I ran intervals nearly weekly.

The decline in interval work started as a way to not re-injure myself.  I found I kind of liked skipping them though.  I ran hills, because our trails aren't flat, ran hard up Towers every other week, ran tempo runs on the road fairly often, it's not like I totally ignored speed.  Running a lot of miles you can fake it relatively well, as long as you aren't trying to bang out a sub-3 hour marathon or something crazy like that.  I ran a 5K PB last April on no speed work, for example.  But I haven't been running a lot of miles recently.  And faking it is getting tougher.  My T&H 5K last weekend, even without the missed turn, was not a PB.  Was not within 3 minutes of a PB.

My Tuesday evening runs have me starting 1/2 mile from the CSU track, and I got a little push by Alex mentioning he was doing some 800s yesterday, so I did it.  I went to the track.  And it wasn't as bad as I remembered.  I started small, 2x400, 4x800, and 2x400 last night.  Faster than I normally run for sure, but I probably can take off 15-20 seconds from my 800s with a little more focus and grit.  I plan on keeping the Tues night intervals on the schedule, hopefully the speed comes back as fast as I remember it does.  Someday next May I'll be running down the Poudre Canyon and I'll look back on last night and think, "that was a good idea".  Right?

01 November 2011

When life gives you lemons

Sometimes it's nice to find the lucky horseshoe up your own butt

So this afternoon I was kicking myself for not getting my streak run in earlier in the day.  (Yeah I said streak run -- my long, rambling, and potentially profound post on this hasn't been published yet -- because it's not done)  Anyway, I didn't run before work even though I knew it was unlikely I'd find time during work with a long staff meeting this morning.  I knew this was going to push the run off until after Sandis' soccer practice unless I convinced Stella to go along, which was unlikely with a cold front coming in.  I realized this meant I was going to be running right about when the rain was forecast to start -- should have looked closer at the weather forecast for today .  I figured this would be a lesson in the planning that goes into a successful running streak.

And then it started snowing.  The run I thought was going to be in the rain turned into a fun run in the snow.  Big fat beautiful snowflakes.  Lemons -> Lemonade.  Awesome.  I'll let you know in a few weeks if I learned that lesson.  I like to think so but ...

Streaking, this was day 5 of purposeful streaking, 8th day in a row going for a run.  Someday I'll get that other post done but for now I'll just thank my friend Ean for the inspiration.

06 August 2011

There is no "only"

What started as a crazy, laughable idea became reality last Saturday.  24 Hours of running up and down our big hill, the hill that makes the Fort Collins Trail Runners stronger, Towers, the antenna farm, big sucky mountain, or whatever else you may call it.  I was simply blown away by the participation.  I expected a total of about 25 runners, maybe 20 to start the morning and a core group of 10-12 throughout the day.  Instead I witnessed the Soderberg lot fill and a mass of 56 runners descend on the campsite / starting line Saturday monring.

It got hot fast, temps were above 90 from roughly 10 AM until 6 PM.  The Lory weather station reported a high of 92, but it sure felt hotter than that on the exposed trail, especially with zero cloud cover.  Most runners seemed to adapt and maintain good spirits.  There were some slower than anticipated laps, some adjustments made to the amount of water carried, some trips home for hydration packs, some extra rest, and yes there were some lessons learned about running in such heat.  I spent a lot of that 10-6 window in the shade drinking water and enjoying the company of FCTR.  As temps cooled there was a fresh assault on the hill, culminating in a group of 12 or so heading up for a lap at 10:30 pm.  After that the number on the hill dwindled to 3 and then a solo runner for an hour or so before morning hit and numbers grew for a final lap.

The best view of the rock can be snagged from Towers
Great views of Meeker and Longs if you poke through the trees

A nighttime view of the Fort through the trees from the Westridge junction.

The family lap was also a bigger hit than I expected.  I didn't get an exact count but there were 6 or 8 groups that went out as couples, runners with children, or both, maybe 20+ of us?  Some made it all the way up, some turned back sooner.  I hope everyone else enjoyed sharing this hill with their family as much as I did.  Several husband/wives made it to the top with runners and 4 children of runners.  Sara Speights, Micah May, and my kids Sandis and Stella.  Sara may be hooked, I hear.  Micah did admirably well for a teenager.  Sandis and Stella complained until they had some canine companionship then marched the last 2 miles to the top without a complaint.  Stella was youngest to summit that day and at 7 years old she hiked her age in miles!  She sings and dances and burps and likes to get dirty, I think she's a trail runner in the making.

The families spread out at the beginning of the family lap and my kids on their trip up during the family lap.   

Back to that idea of 24HoT being crazy and laughable. Few, if any, of us would have set out to run laps on Towers in 90+ F heat on our own.  Had this been our plan for the day we likely would have altered the route to hit some shade on Timber or Howard or the Lory Westridge.  As a group we not only worked through a bunch of vert and bunch of hot miles, but we had fun doing it, building on a group mileage total with each lap complete.  Working together, supporting each other, sharing water, accomplishing huge things, and having fun; these are things that make the Fort Collins Trail Runners so awesome.  One great thing about the day was that it was not a competition.  There was not a lot of trying to out do that other guy, but there was a lot of supporting each other.  In the afternoon when many were taking a break a common question was "how many have you run?".  The responses started to come out as "only 3" or "just 2" but soon the group dynamic had numerous people responding to that with "There is no 'only', 3 is a lot of a work", etc.  That was one of my take home moments from the weekend, "There is no only".  It's easy to find someone in our community who has done more than you, and it's easy to lose sight of how great our own accomplishments are.  It is wonderful that the FCTRs create an environment to remind us all of that important point, "There is no only".

The final statistics:
  • 78 different runners
  • 210 laps completed
  • 1502 miles
  • 367,500 feet of ascent (69.6 miles)
  • Average per runner:
    • 2.69 laps
    • 19.25 miles!
    • 4712 ft. vert. 
  • 25 runners with an "ultradistance" day, 4+ laps
    Yeah, that's right, 78 people averaged a 19 mile day on Towers in that heat.  That seems incredible, and awesome!  (I am a child of the 80's, I'm allowed to say awesome)

    And though it was not a competition, congrats to Cat for completing a 24HoT best 8 laps and Celese, Alex, and Pete right behind her with 7 each.

    28 July 2011

    I ♥ Fort Collins Trail Runners

    Alex and Ean - they made this trip happen
      Monday and Tuesday this week Alex and Ean May organized what will hopefully become an annual Fort Collins Trail Runners event, an overnight camping trip with a day long run along the Colorado Trail.  My family and I had a great time.  Without getting too sappy, I ♥ Fort Collins Trail Runners.  What a fun time the trip was. 
    Brian 29, Mindy, Celeste, Ean, Alex, me, and Mary at the end of our epic run

     Mindy, Celeste, Alex, Ean, Mary, Brian 29, and my family all met at the Kenosh Pass campground (between Fairplay and Bailey) on Monday afternoon.  We heard stories from Celeste and Mindy's big bike rides the weekend prior, took a walk down the start of Segment 5 of the Colorado Trail, and shared dinner in a low key relaxing evening.  Tuesday morning we woke as the sun was just peeking over the horizon and had a trail runner's breakfast of coffee and poptarts.  By 6:30 AM we were starting down Segment 6 of the CT.
    Beautiful mountains 5 Minutes into the run.  This does not suck.
    There were wildflowers everywhere

      Segment 6 of the CT runs from Kenosha pass, 10,000 ft, up over Georgia Pass (and the Continental Divide) at 11,800 ft, and then down to 9200 ft.  It is about 33 miles long with about 4500 ft of vertical gain.  It's also beautiful.  Within 5 minutes we were witness to wide open vistas with huge mountains looming on the horizon.  Other times we saw meadows full of wildflowers.  We ran through lush forests you would have thought belonged in the Northwest, and we ran across open tundra at treeline on the Divide.  Did I mention the flowers, they were everywhere.  Alex told us it was a scenic segment and we were not disappointed.

    Mt. Guyot in the distance

    The trail down off Georgia Pass and down into Breckenridge (which can be seen just to the right of the top of that post)
    Wildflowers on the way down into Breckenridge
      I ran with Celeste and Mary for the first 23 miles and a formidable team we were.  We laughed, joked, frollicked, ran, hiked, and had a great time.  We all had high points and low points and we shared our excess energy when needed to get eachother through.  

    Mary, Celeste, and Me.  Photo by Mindy 

    And then we met up with Mindy and Ean and the energy level went up 3 notches for the last 10 miles.  I'll tell you what, no matter how bad you feel (and for awhile I felt downright bad), you cannot help but smile when your running partners are skipping down the trail singing at the top of their lungs  (♫♪ Running on-running on empty, Running on-running blind ♪♫).  And smile I did, even when feeling the worst I am smiling in all the pictures.  That has to be some sort of metric indicating a good run.
    Me having fun - photo by Mary
    Ean having fun - photo by Celeste
      I am sure I didn't do the day justice in this writeup, but wanted to get it out there before the memories fade with new ones from 24 Hours of Towers, so it is what it is.  If you need more evidence the day was fun, you need look no further than Facebook.  Between myself, Mindy, Mary, and Celeste there must have been 150 pictures up on facebook within 24 hours of returning to Fort Collins.  Yeah, I think we all had a blast.  I really do love this trail running community I've found.  We run together and we play together.  We support each other and help push each other to do things we would not believe possible on our own.  And we drink beer.  What more could I ask for?

    Nearly done and all smiles!  Photo from Celeste


    23 July 2011

    24 Hours of Towers Schedule

    1 Weeks until 24 Hour of Towers!  Are you excited?
    Yes, it really is that friggin' beautiful
    A Tale of Warning
      So one winter evening last March, bathed in the euphoria of having recently run a 24 hour relay race (and the euphoria of local microbrews) and quite possibly still oxygen deprived after the first Pineridge Downhill Mile, someone thought it might be fun to run up and down Towers Road for 24 hours.  Not just thought it, but spoke it.  If you run in the same circles I run in you know that if a crazy idea is spoken, it will eventually have to happen.  No matter how ludicrous it might be.

    24 Hours of Towers
      Here we are four months later about to embark on this silly feat.  In the past 4 months the idea has gone from ludicrous to possible to fun.  Fort Collins Trail Runners kind of fun.  Come and commune with the big hill, she who makes us stronger, she who litters race leaderboards with the words "Fort Collins, CO".  Come join like-minded trail runners, be it for one lap or to run all through the New Moon night, come celebrate Towers Road.


    Towers Road elevation profile, courtesy of Pete Stevenson
    • There really is just one rule, Have Fun!  
    • If you're going to count laps to brag or to add to our communal totals they must be done between 7 AM Saturday and 7 AM Sunday.  
    • We will define a "lap" as one trip from campground I54 to the corner of the service building in the first grouping of towers, following Swan Johnson and Towers Road, and then back down.
    • We'll have a clip board or something at the campsite to record laps so we can sum up totals at the end.

    Saturday 30 July
    7:00 AM First lap starts - say you were there when it started.
    6:30 PM  Family Lap - Have you ever wanted to show your significant other or kids or grandma or friends what we go GaGa over every other Thursday?  Bring them out at 6:30 pm Saturday for a low key, casual run/hike/walk up and down the hill.  Depending on pace lights may be needed for the end of the lap.
    8:47 PM  Civil Twighlight, about time to get out the glow bracelets and head lamps.  I have a ton of glow bracelets.

    Sunday 31 July
    5:00 AM Last Lap - if you're up for it get out of your tent or drive back up to Soderberg to join us in one last trip to the top and back before breakfast.  We should catch some good sunrise views.
    7:00 AM Last laps should be finished.
    7:30 AM FCTR Potluck Breakfast at campsite I54  Even if you didn't run all night (or at all) get out of your tents or drive back up and join us!

      We'll provide pancakes for sure at the breakfast.  Please bring whatever you want to share in a potluck breakfast with your fellow trail runners.  We have electricity at the site so if I figure out how to brew large amounts of coffee we'll have that too.

    Where is 24 Hours of Towers?
      We'll be starting right across the street from the Soderberg parking lot. Driving directions to the Soderberg lot.  Parking should be at Soderberg unless you have a campsite.  Only 2 cars are allowed per campsite so only pull into the campground if you know you have a space.  Be aware that there is a daily parking fee ($6?) at Soderberg if you don't have a Larimer County Parks pass.

    Night access
      Horsetooth Mountain Park is open all night long but the Soderberg lot gate does close during the night.  I keep forgetting to check the exact times.  If you are in the lot when the gate closes you can still leave by pulling up to the exit as the exit gate is automatic.  The upper, main, Horsetooth Mountain Park lot is remains open 24 hours a day.  I am unsure about the Blue Sky lot but suspect it closes like Soderberg because there is a gate at the entrance.

      If you are staying at the campground or are in the campground please observe campground rules.  Some of these include quiet hours of 10 pm until 6 am, 3.2 beer only, and no glass bottles.  8 people and 2 vehicles are allowed per campsite, along with 1 camping unit and 2 tents or 4 tents with no camping units.  Daily parking pass or Larimer County pass are required in the campground just like at Soderberg/Blue Sky/Horsetooth Mountain Park.

    Do I have to run all night?
    This is probably the most often asked question I receive.  NO, you do not need to run all night.  You can run 1 lap, walk 2 laps, run only at night, do whatever you want.  Remember, there really are no rules.  If you want to come out and meet some fellow trail runners please to so, anything you add to our totals is gravy.

    I probably forgot something.  Ask questions on the list or in the comments section here.  See also my other posts on 24 Hours of Towers.

    The Best Day Running ... Ever

    Finishing my first 50M race with my daughter Sandis

    Here is my very late and way to long Big Horn race report.

    18 June 2011
    Big Horn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run
    50 Mile Race
    Dayton, Wyoming

        I had decided a year ago that Big Horn would be my first 50 miler after hearing recaps and seeing pictures of the 2010 race from my trail running friends.  I ran my first 50K race last summer, and trained through the winter with this race in mind.  As spring went on I put in the miles I had planned and was feeling good until one particularly hard run, a 25.5 mile day with 3 summits of Crosier Mountain from 3 different trailheads.  This was a big day with lots of vertical and it left me wiped out.  This was the most enigmatic run I've ever done as it left me feeling one moment very confident for having finished it another moment feeling entirely unworthy of a 50M race as that run was barely half the distance and it felt like the hardest thing I had ever done.  This lead me to running through the entire gamut of emotions in the month leading up to the race.  In the end, thanks to some good advice and support from friends and ultrarunning veterans Alex and Marie I felt relatively confident I could accomplish my goal which was to finish and have fun. As we drove to Dayton and spent the afternoon and evening before the race I was surprised that I never did get much of a case of the nerves.  

      My race goal was to finish.  I hoped to have fun and feel good while doing so.  I anticipated a 13.5-14 hour finish based on results from previous years and my typical position in the race field.  I had no set time goal though, I just planned on going with the flow, however the day evolved.  Some secondary goals I had were to eat and drink enough and to take pictures.  The latter isn't something I can control as much as an indicator of how I felt.  Feeling good equals more pictures.  Feeling bad means I stop taking pictures.  On the food I planned on eating more than I have for any of my long training runs.  I think in a couple of them I was close to bonking towards the end.  Being on the race course from 6 AM (and up a few hours before that) until 8 pm means I need to fuel my run but also am missing 3 meals.  I planned on eating a bar or pack of shot bloks or something else around 200-250 calories every hour from my pack and in addition eating something substantial at every aid station, 9 of them in all.  I also planned on 1 S-Cap every hour.  250x14 + 9X200 = 5300 Calories.  

      Saturday we awoke at 3:00 AM, had some coffee, chatted a bit and then at 4:00 AM headed over to the buses that would take us to the starting line, the Dry Fork Aid Station this year due to a snow re-route.  The bus ride went pretty quick, as did the standing around before the race start at 6:00 AM.  There were a good number of Fort Collins runners in the 50 so I had no trouble finding someone to talk to.  This was a good thing, it kept me from getting too nervous.  Early on the port-a-potty lines were long so I skipped them, but I noticed a short line close to race time and jumped in line.  It still took a bit longer to get in than I anticipated and I listened to the National Anthem in the can.  I couldn't help but laugh as Alex told me he had a similar thing happen last year.  I did make it out in time for the start though.

    Dry Fort to Footbridge
      The course was roughly 3 equal sections.  The first was Dry Fork down to Footbridge, 16.5 miles and most of it down hill.  This was not the normal first leg, though it is downhill like the normal first part.  I was reminded right from the start that I am not a good downhill runner.  I was working on that this spring until I hurt my arch.  After that I backed off the downhill pounding.  I'll need to do more of that for next year.  I ran with Mary, whom I often train with, for much of the early part of the race.  We ran down the hill, keeping things conversational and enjoying the many spectactular views and cheering on the 26-30 hour 100 milers (several who we knew) who were passing us in the opposite direction about that time.  I ran into a girl I know, Lisa, running her first 100 at Cow Camp.  She was at about mile 70, smiling but obviously tired.  I found myself taking note of how the 100 mile runners looked, knowing someday I'll be there.
    Running up a hill between Cow Camp and Bear Camp
      It was not long into the race before we were treated with our first water crossing.  With runoff going strong there were lots and lots of water crossings, and lots and lots of mud.  After the inital shock of wet feet they were fun.  The couple 50Ks I've run have not had much for water crossings and I equate water crossings with real ultras so I was happy.  On the mud, it seems it is almost always muddy somewhere on the Big Horn course. 
    Mary going through the first of a few really muddy patches

    Two thirds of the way to the Footbridge aid station we started down "The Wall".  The wall is 3.5 miles long and drops 2200 ft in elevation.  This is steeper than Towers Road and it's more technical.  With a mud river in middle of it.  Good stuff.  As we headed down the wall we started seeing the front runners in the 50M race coming back at us.  Man were they flying.  We arrived at Footbridge in just under 4 hours, which was a bit over 30 minutes ahead of the cut-off.  We were in good shape because this cut-off was more aggressive than the others.  After 15 minutes or so we had refueled, lathered on some sunblock, and were ready to head up the wall.  I was feeling so-so at this point, not feeling bad but not feeling super.  I anticipated a little faster pace, but between the mud and the downhills being a bit tougher than I hoped I was OK with where we were.  I drained my water about 1.5 miles from the bottom of this section, pretty good timing and I was glad I was drinking.  I was doing well eating even though I didn't feel I needed to eat so early in the run.  I've fallen prey to this before, so I stuck to my plan to eat early as once you know you're behind it's too late.
    Glad there was a footbridge, the river was rocking!

    Footbridge to Dryfork
      The normal course runs this section as we are to run it now, uphill.  The Wall was pretty much a big hike at that point, but a beautiful hike.  There were so many flowers it was incredible.  I commented that it was like running through someone's flower garden.  Striking "Big Horn Sunflowers" and purple lupines were littered everywhere.  

    The Wall Flower Garden - photo courtesy of Pete Stevenson
    View from just above The Wall
    Almost lost to the flowers were the views across grand valleys of lush green.  The views here alone are worth running this race.  A little after the wall I hit my low spot for the race, which really wasn't that low.  Around Bear Camp I started slipping off Mary's pace.  For the next 13 miles or so I kept her in my sights or close to it, but never could quite catch up.  I didn't feel terrible but seemed to have trouble making the legs go faster.  I ate my first gel here and pushed on, keeping the mind out of the negative spaces.  By Cow Camp I was feeling better.  The gel may have been what I needed, quick energy, or maybe it was just coincidence.  At Cow Camp I snagged another piece of bacon, had my hydration pack filled, and moved on for the push up to Dry Fork.  I pulled into Dry Fork just as Mary was leaving.  I was tired though and sat down to change shoes and socks and let Chris and Mindy take care of me.  I ran most of the mile long hill up into Dry Fork when maybe I should have walked it.  I was feeling it though so I went with the running.  I entered the aid station at 9:00 even, 4:45 for the climb back up.  Time flies when your sitting at an aid station being taken care of.  By the time I got going I had spent nearly 30 minutes there, 15-20 minutes longer than I planned on.  I drank about 3L of water in this 16.5 mile stretch and was looking forward to eating now rather than forcing myself to do it.  As I left the aid station I took some lasagna casserole and a helping of potatoes with me to eat on the road as I started into No Man's Land.  I was still taking pictures and thus feeling good overall.  I was tired, of course, but nothing hurt.  

    Dry Fork to Tongue River Trailhead
      From Dry Fork on marked the start of the last third of the course, 12.5 miles to the Tongue River Trailhead and 17.5 miles to the finish.  It also marked the start of No Man's Land, as it was further than I had ever run.  Lastly, it was the best segment of the race for me.  I felt absolutely awesome in this stretch, I was close to giddy through much of it.  My pace wasn't terribly faster, but my spirits were high.  
    Summer soltice in the Big Horn mountains.  
    This segment is about 5 miles rolling, 2 miles of climb, and 5.5 miles of down.  The down is steep.  Like 3000+ ft steep.  Some of it too steep for me to run well.  Yeah I need to work on that.  I continued to eat and drink well.  I had developed a strategy of eating one shot blok every 10 minutes, that comes to one pack in an hour.  I don't know if the "slow drip" of food helped or keeping my mind occupied with snack time every 10 minutes or what but I liked it.  
    Beautiful single track dropping down to the Upper Sheep Creek aid station
    At the Upper Sheep Creek aid station I asked how far until the finish and was told 12 miles.  I heard myself reply "only 12 miles, excellent".  That tells you how I was feeling.  I hit the Tongue River Trailhead at 13:02, an hour ahead of the cutoff and leaving myself 2 hours to move 5 miles on dirt roads to the finish.  

    The last climb of the race, "The Haul".  

    Tongue River Trailhead to Finish Line
      This 5 mile stretch was the toughest of the race to keep going on.  I knew I was going to finish, thought there was a good chance it would be about 14 hours, but found the running tough to do.  I pushed on though, stopping to walk for just a couple brief seconds. My GPS wasn't working well in this section so I had a difficult time determining my pace, but it felt slow as molasses.  I blamed it on the consistent motion of running on smooth level ground rather than the dynamic stride used on the trails, coupled with 45.5 miles and 13+ hours of fatigue. I got to the Homestretch aid station and grabbed an Otter pop and some Pepsi and asked how far to the finish.  1.75 miles.   Watch check, 13:40.  OK I have 20 minutes to break 14 hours.  I ran as hard as I could from that point on.  That's of course a relative thing, probably looking funny as heck, but I pushed on.  Slowly the pace increased, and for the last half mile or so I was running around 9.5 minute miles.  For me at that time of the race that was blazing.  And it was fun.  As I came around the corner with a quarter mile to go my many Fort Collins companions, including my wife and kids, all cheered me in.  I had little left in the tank when I finished, but I finished strong and it felt great.  Looking back I think part of the reason the last five miles were so tough was that it was my fastest running of the day.  The surface played a large part, but I ran the 5 miles in 54 minutes.  I ran my fastest miles of the day for the last 5 of my race.

    Just outside of Lower Sheep Creek aid station.  I was feeling just plain giddy.

    Post Race
      After the race I was flying high.  Well once I sat for 10 minutes and recovered at least.  I had a beer, a burger and other picnic fare from the post-race picnic, and congrats from lots of friends.  We all sat around and swapped stories for awhile and it was just such a cool feeling, a cool group of people to be a part of.  There were 100 mile finishers, pacers who ran  the longest runs in their lives, 50 mile finishers, 50K finishers, and 30K finishers.  Everyone accomplished something great that day and everyone there was more interested in hearing about someone else's day than talking about their own.  I am truly lucky to have found such a great group of runners.  

     A month later I'm still flying pretty high.  I am not prone to post-race blues anyway, but have not had a hint of them from this race.  I'm looking at the rest of the year, not sure if I'll do another big race or just enjoy running in the high country, doing a segment of the Colorado Trail, or doing some of the "classic" trail running loops up and over local peaks.  I just want to have fun, just want to have as much fun as I did running Big Horn.  It truly was the best day running ever.