05 September 2012

Second Annual 24 Hours of Towers Schedule

24 Hour of Towers is this weekend,
are you excited?

Friday 07 September
Some of us have campsites reserved Friday night.  Ask around if you want to come up, there's probably some room to pitch a tent.

Saturday 08 September
7:00 AM First lap starts from site I53 - say you were there when it started.
5:00 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 Saturday afternoon 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.
7:48 PM  Civil twilight ends, about time to get out the glow bracelets and head lamps.  I have a ton of glow bracelets.

There are good handful of us with campsites reserved for Saturday night.  I believe we have the entire north end of the campground to ourselves.  Ask around and I am sure you can find somewhere to pitch a tent.

Sunday 09 September
5:00 AM Last Lap - if you're up for it get out of your tent or drive back up to join us in one last trip to the top and back before breakfast.  We should catch some good sunrise views.
6:07 AM Civil twilight begins
7:00 AM Last laps should be finished.
7:30 AM FCTR Breakfast at campsite I53  Even if you didn't run all night (or at all) get out of your tents or drive back up and join us!

And if you're so inclined (get it!) you can take off a little early and head up to the Horsetooth Rock Trail Race at the Upper Horsetooth Mountain Space parking lot, the race starts at 7:00 AM.  

  Last year I brought my stove and made some pancakes, I'll probably do the same thing again.  If you want to bring something to share you can.  I'll bring my coffee maker, but it's just a normal 10 cup deal so I can't promise how much there will be to go around.


  It's pretty self explanatory.  24 hours, one hill.  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 night, come celebrate Towers Road.  

We will start at campsite I53 which is right across the road from the Soderberg Parking lot of Horsetooth Mountain Park.  If the Soderberg parking lot is full you may have to park 1/2 mile down the road in the Marina parking lot.


  • 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 I53 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.

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.  If Soderberg is full you may need to park 1/2 mile down the road at the marina.  Be aware that there is a daily parking fee at Soderberg and the marina 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 if the marina lots has a gate to close at night or not.

  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.  I am unsure if fires are allowed or not.

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.

16 August 2012

Second Annual 24 Hours of Towers

Saturday 08 September 2012  7:00 AM
North End of Horsetooth Campground (across the street from the Soderberg Lot)
Fort Collins, CO
More detailed schedule to follow
You can see them from almost anywhere in town, don't you want to go up and touch them?
Can it really only be  weeks until we get to spend a Saturday together?  An entire Saturday?  For those new to this, 24 Hours of Towers is a fun, low key, cooperative, 24 hour group run on our Hill.  The Hill that helps hone the edge of a group of very successful runners who call Fort Collins home. Everyone is invited, come run what you can, every lap counts towards our only goal, the big group totals.
Horsetooth Rock as viewed  from Towers Road

As runners we're always trying to best our current PRs.  Well, the 24 Hours of Towers PRs are:

  • 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
What comes first, 100 runners or 100 miles of vert?  Come be part of it and find out.
Bring your (well behaved and leashed) dogs.  They love Towers too, and can be of help on the way up.

To help people set their own goals we've come up with some ideas to help you out.
  • The Birthday - Run your age in miles, however many laps that is.
  • The Starry Night- Run laps all night, starting Saturday night at dusk.  Slap on some glow bracelets and have fun.
  • The Solo- Run one lap up and down.  7 miles and 1700 vertical feet. 
  • The FCTR Twelve Pack - If a Baker's Dozen is 13 then a FCTR 12'er has 14 beers.  2 Laps is 14 miles and 3400 vertical feet.  That's a run worthy of a beer or two.
  • The Cool Dude - One a lap Sat morning, another Saturday evening when it's cool, and a third Sunday morning, timed to finish at breakfast time (7 AM).  Three laps is 21 miles and 5100 feet of vert, nearly a mile, all in cool weather.  
  • The Ultra - 4 laps will give you 28 miles (6800 feet of vert), that's an ultramarathon, and tougher than some 50Ks.  Bonus, we have a generous 24 hour cut off. 
  • The Pikes Peak Plus - 5 laps 35 miles with 8500 feet of vertical gain.  Pike's Peak marathon is only (Oops, there is no Only) 26.2 miles and less than 8000 feet of vert.  
  • The Meaning of Life - Run 6 laps and you'll have traveled 42 miles (and 10,200 feet of vertical gain).  If you don't find the meaning of life in your 42nd mile you're free to keep running.  
  • The Nearly Jemez - 7 laps will leave your GPS reading 49 miles and 11,900 feet of vertical gain.  We know you couldn't sleep at night being so close to the 50 miles and 12,000 feet of vert at the Jemez 50 so we won't judge you when you run out a half mile and back to get the Garmin to turn over to 50.
  • The Vermont - 9 laps is 15,300 feet of vertical gain, that's what you get in the Vermont 100.  
  • The Leadville - 10 laps will give you 17,000 feet of vert (70 miles), roughly the vert in the Leadville Trail 100.  It saves you 30 miles though!
  • The Western - 11 laps is 18700 feet of vert (77 miles), a touch more than the Western States 100 has.
  • The Wasatch - 16 laps will give you a respectable 112 miles and 27,200 feet of vert which is just a bit over the 26,900 ft of vert found in the Wastach 100.  With 12 extra miles take solace in the overall grade being less here.
  • Mr. October - Nick says he thinks 19 laps is possible.  That's 133 miles and over 32,000 vertical feet.
  • The Hardrock - 20 laps would be 140 miles and 34000 feet of vert, basically the vert in the Hardrock 100.  
  • The Honey Badger - New this year, running the Honey Badger's age in LAPS.  25 Laps to the towers and back.  If you undertake this one we'll wave the 24 hour time limit.
Even the flat boring parts are pretty
 24 Hours of Towers FAQ

Can I run as part of a team?
  Of course you can.  If you each do 4 laps you can even call it an Ultra Team.
Toughest hill on the hill, doesn't look that bad, eh?
Do I have to run for 24 hours straight?
  Of course not.  Run when you want.  Stop when you want.  Eat when you want.  Drink beer when you want.  You don't even need to start at 7:00 AM if you don't want to.  

Should I be done by 7:00 AM on Sunday?
  If you want to join us for a fun campstove breakfast you should.

Do I need to sign up or register?
  No.  This is not a race, just a bunch of trail runners getting together.  We'll have a log at the start/finish campsite, I53, where you can record what you ran.
Don't take in this view too deeply or you'll trip on that rebar sticking out of the trail just over there to the left!

Will there be other things to do besides run?
  Of course.  We anticipate a crowd at the campground during the day and hopefully into the night.  Last year there was even a boat or two being around for the day.  If the usual FCTR shenanigans aren't occuring at basecamp I'll be disappointed. 
The views get even better once you get up high

Where should I park?
  The best place to park will be the Soderberg Trailhead.  There's a $7 daily fee to park there if you don't have a Larimer county park pass.  The gate to the trailhead does close sometime in the late evening though the park remains open all night.  You can also park 1/2 mile down the trail at the Marina parking lot for the same $7 Larimer county fee.

19 April 2012

24 Hours of Towers: Save the Date

Mark the date: 8-9 September 2012
24 Hours of Towers

24 Hours of Towers is less than 5 months away, just 11 once a fortnight time trial hill climbs left to brush up (including one tonight up Horsetooth).  If you want to camp you should reserve a Horsetooth campsite.  The north end of the campground is starting to fill up, with I49-I54 all reserved, hopefully all by FCTRs, but there are still some spots open down that way.

Happy hill climbing.

16 April 2012

Streak no more

I didn't run last Monday.  The streak is dead.  But that's OK, I needed a day off and I took one.  My streak was never about checking off each day on the calendar at the cost of everything else.   So how did I come to miss a day?

I came down with the flu a couple weeks ago, the evening after the last Tortoise and Hare race to be exact.  At least the timing was good.  My wife and kids were all struck down on Thursday but I was able to have a fun Greyrock run on that Friday, run Pete's final 15 miles of March with him and Cat, and then run the Tortoise and Hare race on Sunday before becoming sick myself.  I've never had the "real flu" that I remember, turns out it wipes you out. 

The week I had the flu I was only able to manage a meager 1 mile walk with Sandis and Tonks on Monday but was able to run the rest of the week with Thursday even being an easy effort run most of the way up Towers.  On Friday I was back to work and was a little surprised that I made it through the flu with The Streak in tact. 

It also turns out that laying on the couch all day (with a short run in the middle of the day) while sick is much easier on the body than going to work when you're first "recovered".  I ran but was tired Friday, kept it short on Saturday and Sunday my 20 miles turned in the toughest 10 I've run in a long time.  When I was again dead tired on Monday I decided that running was not in the best interest of my recovery and took the day off.

The decision wasn't nearly as difficult as I once thought it might be.  When I thought about it logically I knew rest was the smart thing.  My streak wasn't a compulsive check it off kind of streak, it was about getting my head back in the running game and I had accomplished that.  There were a few days during the past month that I ran only because of the streak and I didn't like that, I knew it went against the reason I was streaking and I didn't want to become a slave to the number.  Mentally I needed a day off, but was slow to accept this.

I went to bed Monday content with a good run of 167 days of running.  167 days, 1017.4 miles, tons of confidence, and all the speed I had lost, to be exact.  And Tuesday I had one of the best track workouts I've had all spring.  Seems rest can be a good thing, mental and physical rest.

Yesterday I ran for the 6th consecutive day.  I think I'm mostly recovered from the flu, though I'd like to blame my slower than desired late miles of Saturday's run on not being 100% yet.  :-)  I don't think I'm going to call this one a streak though.  I'll get up every morning planning on going for a run, a but if it's not convenient or if I'm too tired or my head's not in it I'll be OK skipping it.  Though that's the first step to being lazy and falling into a rut I think I've learned enough to head that off if it starts setting in.

Long live the non-Streak.

09 April 2012

Running is not a solitary sport

With the passing of Micah True I have been browsing back through Born To Run a bit.  Last night I came across this passage describing Scott Jurek.

"The reason we race isn't so much to beat each other, he understood, but to be with each other. Scott learned that before he had a choice, back when he was trailing Dusty and the boys through the Minnesota woods.   He was no good and had no reason to believe he ever would be, but the joy he got from running was the joy of adding his power to the pack."

I've mentioned a similar sentiment a few times before here but I really like how McDougal framed this in terms of experiencing joy by adding power to the pack.  I get that when out running with our FCTR pack.  It is what drives me to do this.  Running is not a solitary sport.

06 April 2012

Prize Money!

The Tortoise and Hare race series is put on by the Fort Collins Running Club.  It is a once a month race series (Oct-Apr) with a staggered start system where all the runners will finish at the same time, if they run their predicted time.  Each race points are handed out to those who cross the finish line the fastest, essentially to those who beat their predicted time by the largest margin.  The top 5 five in the series standings receive gift certificates to a local running store.  To be in the running for the money racers need to continue to run faster than predicted each race, to continue to improve speed-wise each month as the predictions are re-calculated with every result.  Racers also need to be stubborn enough to show up each month, or at least for 5 of the 7 races.

Though I didn't plan it this way, my slump in fitness and speed happened at the perfect time as I was running as slow as I remember in 3-4 years when I entered my first race of the series last November.  On top of running my slowest 5K in recent memory that day I suffered the embarrassment of coming in DFL and of having taken a wrong turn on the course, adding 0.1 mile or so to my race.  Since that day I've been working hard to get my fitness back though and with every successive race of the season I have beat my predicted time, and for the past 4 races I have finished "in the points".  This was enough to earn me 2nd place overall in the standings and $75 to spend at the Runners Roost.  Woo Hoo, new shoes!

I've never won anything racing before, so I'm pretty excited.  It feels a tiny bit strange to win something this year while never scoring more than the minimum 5 points per race last year as I'm running essentially at the same level now as I was a year ago, with my last 3 race times close to identical, comparing 2011 with 2012.  Still it was fun, and actually took some racing in the end to secure second place.  I passed one of the girls who tied for 3rd place overall with about 1/2 mile to go in the race and had to edge out another runner at the finish line to secure my place in the standings. 

My race wasn't the PB I set out for that morning but the 2nd place finish will make up for it for now. I finished the race in 24:45, running 7:45, 7:54, and 7:58 splits the first 3 miles after aiming for 7:45 on all of them and around 24:00 for the race. I guess that's what the next race is for. Maybe Tonks can pull me in to a PB at the Fast and the Furriest.

21 March 2012

5K with Stella

It was just a year ago that Stella started expressing an interest in running with me more.  For her first run we went out to Soderberg and ran up Towers to Stout where I had forgotten a hat along side the trail earlier that morning.  She ran the entire mile back to the Soderberg lot without stopping that day, her first day out.  Since then there are days she runs more and days she takes more walk breaks.  I think I've done a good job not pushing too hard while trying to get her out at least 1-2 times a week.   Last summer and fall she didn't go out a lot but this winter we have more, targeting the Sharin' O' The Green 5K as her first 5K.
Stella knows fashion

I was unsure what to expect for a time.  Most of our recent runs have had running portions of less than 1/4 mile before we break for a walk.  A 35:00 2.1 mile run wasn't uncommon.  I know she can run a mile without stopping though so who knows.  She could have been around 37-38 minutes and could have finished at 50 minutes and neither would have surprised me.

She was unhappy about waking up at 7:15 Saturday morning and a little chilly, but excited, as race time neared.  The 2800 person crowd made for a crazy start but we were far enough back that we ran slowly until the crowds thinned.  I think this helped Stella's pacing a lot.  We ran until 1/2 mile where I offered up a walk break.  Nah, let's keep going.  At 1.25 miles she took me up on the walk but we were running again by mile 1.5 and ran until a bit after the mile 2 sign.  This walk break was shorter and soon we were running again.  Stella was chatting the whole way and having a blast.  We took one last short walk break at the 4K point (34:00, 51 seconds ahead of her 4K time last spring) and then headed out for the final half mile.  As we got close Stella wanted to kick it in but I reigned her back, thinking she might blow up if she kicked too early as she had already run more than I expected.  I should have let her go.  When my watched beeped at 3 miles I told her to go and for a second I had trouble keeping up.  She ran the entire last stretch at an average 8:07 pace.  40:28 for a finish time and she ran progressively faster all race long.

About 1/2 mile in

Stella has fantastic theories and observations on all things in life.  Her 2 observations from the race were A) she ran so fast at the end because her legs were numb and they were just flopping around and going fast was the only way to not fall down and B) she was amazed at how she improved as the race went on.  B) doesn't seem too strange until I finally realized she wasn't amazed at running negative splits, she was amazed that her muscles were adapting and getting stronger during the race, thus the faster paces as the race went on.

At the finish, I'm not sure who is prouder
I had a blast running with her and she did too.  She was a little mad that she couldn't go run up Towers with me and Tonks later that afternoon.  I think this race re-kindled her love of running so I hope to keep it going through the spring and summer. 

Tonks got her turn later that afternoon

20 March 2012

Spring again

  Last Sunday Ean and Alex hosted the second FCTR March Madness Horsetooth circumnavigation series.  Like the year prior the weather was nice, spring was definitely in the air.  Fun was had both running and back at the Mays' afterward grilling, eating, drinking beer, walking the slackline, telling tall tales, and of course giving The Nick Clark shit. Also like the year prior I shared in a running first with Stella, this year it was her first 5K at the Sharin' O' the Green 5K on St. Patrick's Day (last year her first trail run, up Towers to Stout and back). 

The 8:00 Gang

  For March Madness I started with the 8:00 crew.  I planned on at least the 23 mile route with them but hoped to summit either Arthur's or Horsetooth along the way.  As we took off things stratified rather quickly and by the top of the first climb, about a mile or two down the road, I was running with Marie and Ean and we spend the rest of the day together.  We ran around the south end of the reservoir and through Soderberg to the Arthur's trailhead where it was decision time.  I was willing to forgo Arthur's to stick together as though I enjoy Arthur's I enjoy company even more.   Marie, of course, was all for going up and it it didn't take much to convince Ean to do the same.  The views from the top were great as always.  We hung up top a bit, ate some food, chatted, and rested from the 1200 ft climb before we started down Timber.  All reports from a week prior were that Timber was an awful mess but we were treated to mostly dry trail with a bit of slush here and there, but not much.  The run down Timber was a blast, easily my favorite part of the day.  Rather than take the swing to the west at the bottom of Timber we cut down the Wells Gulch trail where we saw our first wildflowers of the spring.  

Marie on the way out of Soderberg
  As we hit the north end of Lory we opted again for a course detour and took the trail from Satanka Cove to the boat landing by the north damn.  Trail is a generous word in some spots.  Some was trail, some a faint game trail, and some was just plain bushwhacking or scrambling up rocks.  We made our way across though, more successful than some of our other trail running buddies were at finding the route.  The run/climb/bushwack is about a mile shorter, but probably takes longer.  It was surely more fun though, and it earned us some bragging rights.

Ean coming down from the top of Arthur's
  Marie and I ran MM together last year too, and we both commented on how we felt much better leaving Lory this year than we did last.  We turned south for the last 7-8 miles and turned straight into a wind that for most of the day was light or non-existent for most of the day.  It wasn't my first choice, but what can you do.  I've done versions of this run a half dozen times, ranging from 23-30 miles, and I always have a tough time at some point along the Foothills trail, sometimes barely out of Lory, sometimes not until we're approaching the top of Centennial, but always before Maxwell.  Maxwell and Pineridge then turn into a slog back to the Mays', complete with some 14 minute miles on what really is some easy trail.  To my surprise that didn't happen this time.  Though I didn't have the same pop in my step as I did leaving the driveway that morning I did manage to keep up a reasonable pace all the way back as we pulled back into the driveway at just about 25 miles.  I was tired but not really pushing the wall like I typically am.  We did take it slower on the climbs in the park and spent a good amount of time on Arthur's and lost time in our adventure from Satanka to the boat landing, so maybe that was it.  Maybe it was conditioning, maybe it was hitting the food and drink and electrolytes just right.  Maybe it was my new batch of energy bars.  Or the PB&J on Irish Soda bread - my newest trail food of the gods.  Maybe it was just the good company.  Rating how you feel at the end of a 25+ mile run from 1-10 this was a solid 8, hard to complain about that.

Spoiling the best view of Fort Collins you can find

So back as we left Lory I commented that we were going to finish right around 25 miles and knowing Marie she would egg us on to do a bit more to get a marathon in.  As we neared the finish we all said we were OK with just 25 though.  And then 5 minutes after stopping Marie and Ean told me they were going after the last bit.  So off we went.

I went back and read my post about the 2011 MM run because I remembered it also being a lot of fun.  Everything I said then still applies, the FCTRs are still a great group of runners and friends and they more than anything are the reason I train.  I train so I can be in good enough shape to run and have fun with them. 

12 March 2012

T&H 12K, the track, Colorado Marathon

  A week ago last Sunday I ran the Tortoise & Hare 12K race put on by FCRC.  These handicap start races are fun as they give us all, but especially those improving in speed, a chance at a top finish.  I've finished in the points (top 10, but remember the handicap start) the last 2 races and hoped to do so again as I felt confident I could significantly beat Nick's predicted time of nearly 1:08.  Nick's predictions are at a disadvantage by having to include my slow 5K (including a missed turn) last November.  I felt a 1:03-ish time was in reach.  I ran 1:03:56 last year.  Of course when I made that 1:03ish prediction I wasn't factoring in having ran the Trudge the day before.

  I was a tad late getting to the park due to a road closure and detour so I didn't have a long time to warm up, but did manage to get in about 8 minutes of strides and such to loosen the legs a bit.  I would have preferred more, but you take what you can get.  For race strategy I took a page from Pete and I went out with the dash and crash mentality, knowing, and ignoring, that the out was net downhill and the back was thus net uphill.  I felt good from the gun and ran 7:57, 8:11, 8:15, and 8:20 pace (.75 miles) for a total of 30:38 on the way out.  The uphill back portion I ran in 8:24, 8:30, 8:41, and 8:38 pace (.75 miles) for 32:37 back, 1:03:15 overall.  Most of what kept me going on the back was knowing that Ean wasn't far behind me.  I passed her on the out and feared that a too fast early pace would bite me in the end of the race.  Though I slowed nearly every mile along the way I think overall I'm happy with that performance.  I was tiring but never blew up.  I was surprised to find I finished 5th overall, netting some points and putting myself solidly in the middle of a tight group vying for 2nd through about 7th place in the T&H series.  Top 5 win money.  Knowing this I'm getting excited for the 5K next month.  Nick should have me predicted at about 25:45, I know I can beat that.

This 12K and the 8K from last month have me right on the edge of what would predict a sub-4 marathon, which side of the edge depends on which prediction formulas you use.  I've also had some encouraging track workouts, doing 3x1600 the week before the 12K all around 7:30 pace and did 7x800 (Yasso lite) in times that ranged from 3:42 to 3:57 last week.  Those times put me in the realm of the 4 hour marathon.  It seems I have more confidence when running the short stuff, running out on the roads for longer runs that 9:07 pace seems awful fast.  I think I'm going to do some marathon pace work down the canyon with Marie and hope that it will build confidence.  If I can do that, bang out a 7:20 PDM in a couple weeks and shave a couple minutes off my current Towers time I think I'll be ready.

11 March 2012

Twin Mountain Trudge

From a field of 65 down to 23 nuts

The Twin Mountain Trudge is a race put on by Alec Muthig of Journeymen Adventure Enterprises.  He bills it as an adventure footrace, not a trail race, through a lot of snow up near the Happy Jack rec area in Wyoming.  The trudge around Twin Mountain seems to represent the only foot traffic of the winter in this area and completing one 11 mile loop of the course often requires anywhere from 2 to 5+ hours.  Conditions can vary from year to year, best illustrated by Alex's times which in 4 years have ranged from 2:18 to 4:09.  There are big snow years and there are years that Nick Clark is willing to show up.  2011, my first year was a non-Nick year.  Other than 1/4 mile at the start and finish the snow was knee deep or higher.  That Trudge consisted of moving your feet from foot hole to foot hole left by the racers in front of me.  I finished in 4:20, besting my marathon PB by 8 minutes.  The 2012 race approached without the ominous snow warnings that Alec sent out in 2011 so at first I thought it might be a faster course this year.  Over the 2 weeks before the race though we were informed otherwise.
Best marked course you'll ever find, if you run in back at least. 
In 2011 I was prepared for wind, as Wyoming is the word for wind in some language I am sure.  2011 spared us from a lot of wind, though there was some at the end for us one loopers, and a lot for the 2nd loop of the two loopers.  2012 had winds howling from the get go. So much so that the race was actually postponed 1 week due to 70 MPH winds (not gusts) forecast the original date.  30-40 MPH greeted us as we got out of the truck at the starting line, sitting exposed on top of a hill.  With the wind it was chilly, and I briefly wondered just what I was getting in to.  Once we starting running I warmed up quickly though and the first turn had the wind mostly at our backs.  By mile 1.5 I had stopped to shed my thicker coat in favor of my light wind shell.  It's not so bad I thought, as there was already way more of the course that was runnable than in 2011 due to windswept trails without a ton of snow on them.  Eventually it dawned on me that wind at my back now meant I would pay for it at the end of the race, but I buried that thought and enjoyed things while I could.  Mile 1 was my fastest of the day at about 14:30, and mile 2 was a 16:something.  There was a crust on top the snow and it was hard enough to hold you up much of the time so far in the race.  The toughest conditions so far, I thought, was the sugary snow that was shallow enough you thought you should run through.  This snow flowed and was slippery so every step your foot would slide what seemed like feet (but probably was just 4-6 inches).  Regardless it made for hard work.

Mile 3 things started to get deep and there was some climbing too.  We were in the trees though so the wind wasn't bad.  Mostly the snow was knee deep but a few of the waist high drifts Alec warned us of were there.  Though the moving was slow it was a bright sunny day out and the scenery was wonderful.  There are a lot of really cool rocks up that way.  I hit the site where the aid station is in years that it's accessible for the aid crew, about mile 4.5, in 1:50.  I was making good time and having fun.  I made the fence line climb and pushed towards the Devil's Loop, meeting up with course photographer Wendy (who was snowshoeing the course backwards to take pictures of us) just before heading down into it.  Here there were lots more thigh and waist deep snow patches and a lot more breaking through the crust.

This year an 8 mile course would have been about perfect.  I hit 8 miles in 3.5 hours and while tired was doing OK overall.  Here climbing and becoming more exposed to the now headwinds with every step the going got tough.  Wind in your face, waist high drifts you occasionally had to crawl out of, and very slippery sugary snow when you could run.  The last 3 miles took me 100 minutes to complete including an 18 minute mile "sprint" straight into the wind for the final 1/4 mile.  I swear I was running with track interval intensity and barely moving into that wind.  Half way through I made the mistake of telling Wendy I thought it was easier this year than last.  I paid for that braggadocio for all of the last few miles. Over the second half of the race my devolving goals went from sub-4:00 finish to beat last year's 4:20 to beat my first ever marathon time of 4:58.  I crossed the line in 4:56, which was why I was putting so much energy into that "sprint".

I crossed the finish line, stopped running, and was handed a shot of Scotch.  Things seemed better.  Though I wondered what I was doing a few times during the last couple miles I never got to the point where I thought about not coming back in 2013.  I'll be back, and I'll enjoy it, mostly.  I like things like this, a challenge mentally and physically, success not 100% dependent on how fast you are, something that most people would not do.

Halfway through, having fun

2 miles left, just want to be done

Moab Red Hot 55K

It's been 3 weeks since the Moab Red Hot 55K.  I suppose if I'm going to maintain a blog I should write about it.  I haven't though, because I was (still kind of am) disappointed in my performance in the race.  I have run another couple races since then and was going to post about them but it seems the right thing to do to tie up the Red Hot loose ends first.  I did set a course PB, beating my 2011 time by about 5 minutes.  One of my rules is that nobody is allowed to complain about a PB.  I should probably listen to myself, as I am a pretty smart guy.

I had a great time in Moab overall, it's fun seeing all the other FCTR folks there.  I know I see some of them every week, but somehow it's different all being together out of town (and state) for a race.  FCTR represented 27 of 200 finishers in the 55K race and another 16 of 138 finishers in the 33K race. Throw in some Boulder folks I recognize and there was someone I knew around every bend it seemed.  My family came along as well, they enjoy Moab too.  We had a nice stop at the Ice Castles at Silverthorne on the way over and also picked up some info on the Grand Mesa State Park to plan a summer camping trip.  We didn't do much exploring of Moab  together on Sunday as the weather wasn't that great -- the reverse of last year where the race was met with ugly weather but Sunday was nice.  My wife and kids did go to Dead Horse Point state park on Saturday while I raced and enjoyed that.

The weather this year was beautiful.  Race day started with me in shorts and a short sleeve shirt under a long sleeve.  I had on a hat and gloves by took them off a couple miles in.  The long sleeve shirt was gone by mile 13 but should have been gone sooner, I just didn't want to stop and take my hydration pack off.  It was sunny all day long and temperatures were easily in the 50s.  This was a big contrast to 2011.

Beautiful blue sky day

Also in contrast to 2011 was my mental state during the race.  In 2011 I let my mind go negative and really didn't have a great time over the second half of the race.  I felt like I was the last runner on the course, though I wasn't and was beating myself up mentally for running slow.  I am not often like this and the depth to which I went that day surprised me.  In 2012 I kept a good mental outlook all day long, even when things slowed at the end.  I've commented before that my picture quantity during a run or race is proportional to how much fun I'm having and I took a lot of pictures this year, only 2 in 2011.

I think my disappointing performance in 2012 was mostly due to 2 things.  First I am just not good at running on slanty slick rock.  Much of the last 11 miles of the course is generally downhill but on side to side slanted slick rock.  I find this surface really difficult to run on, it beats me up and I never feel comfortable enough to let go and fly.  Second, I went out way too fast and ran a stupid race.  It was so easy to get caught up in the excitement early.  Miles 2-4 are all gently downhill and I ran them in 25:20.  I ran a 5K on New Year's Day in 25:19.  That's probably all that needs to be said there.  In my defense, I was talking the whole time so it wasn't 5K effort, but it was still too fast to be running with another 47K left to go.  I'd do it again though, I really did have a good time chatting with Kemp and Mindy and Lindsey as we cruised down that hill. 

Mindy and I when were still rocking the course

I reached the top of the first part of the course, mile 10, about 10 minutes faster than I did in 2011 but I felt 10x better this year.  I ran up most of this section with Mindy and Marie, chasing Lindsey.  Feeling good I took off down down the nearly 7 miles of downhill running to the 3rd aid station.  I was bounding from rock to rock, had great footwork on the technical spots and felt strong.  Mindy and I hit mile 15 at 2:50, faster than I've run 15 miles on trails in a long time.  I hit the mile 17 aid station 15 minutes faster than in 2011 and still felt pretty good.  Over the next couple miles of steeper downhill I started to feel it in my hips though.  Pounding downhill does that to me.  I got through it though and hit the cutoff point at mile 19 again 15 minutes ahead of 2011. 
Red rocks against the LaSal range, a cool juxtaposition.

I hoped the climb from mile 19 to 22 would let my hips rest and leave me strong for the overall downhill last 11 miles.  The climb seemed harder this year than last, though I did it in about the same time as I was again 15 minutes ahead of 2011 pace when I hit mile 22 at 4:35.  I think the climb seemed harder because I was along doing it this year.  In 2011 I happened up this hill in a crowd of others and the chatter kept my mind occupied I believe.  At mile 22 I was tired, but not wiped out I thought and running an average 12.5 minute pace.  My realistic goal for the day was a 7:00 finish, which is a 12:40 pace so I was still slightly ahead of that with 2/3 of the race and the biggest climbs done.  My legs were tired but did not feel as trashed as they did in 2011.  In 2011 I remember not being able to hop down off even the smallest edges, instead needing to ease myself over.  I remember being very jealous of those who were just hopping down, barely missing a stride.  So after a few bites to eat and some Coke I forged on.  11 miles, 2:20 to run it in, no problem, right?  It seemed very possible.

It didn't take long (well distance-wise) to suspect I was wrong.  My watch beeps as it takes auto-split times every mile.  I heard a beep awhile after leaving the aid station and thought wow, 2 miles down already.  Then I looked and realized it was only 1 mile.  1 19-ish minute mile, going kind of downhill, all on difficult to run on slick rock.  I had stopped to re-tie my shoes once, but still, 19 minutes?  I am just not cut out of running on this slick rock stuff it seems.  (It is slightly reassuring to hear everyone complaining about this section of the course, even the fast runners.)  As I plodded along over the 6 miles to the last aid station I watched my chances at 7:00 slip slowly away with every mile split beep from my watch.  I did stay positive mentally though, accepting what was happening as just that and enjoying the beautiful views of the course, and come mile 15 or so, the wonderful company of Ean whose bubbly voice I heard yell out "Brian!" as she came up over a hill behind me.  Ean graciously ran with me for 6 or 7 miles before pulling away to the finish.  I'm sure she could have run that stretch faster but I did appreciate the company and conversation, it makes the miles go by so much faster when you're chatting with someone. 

Just.  Need.  To.  Get.  To.  That.  River.  Down.  There.

Anyway, this dissertation on a pedestrian race is getting way too long.  The long and short of the last 11 miles was that it took me 3:15, over 17 minute miles.  I really did try and push things a few times, especially in the last 4-5 miles on the jeep roads, but I really had trouble sustaining even a 12 or 13 minute pace for long.  Did I not eat and drink enough?   Was I under trained?  Was it all due to going out too fast?  Was it the damn slick rock?  I guess that's one of the reasons we keep doing these, to try and figure out those answers.  I do know I'd like to run that 6 mile section from aid station 4 to aid station 5 without 22 miles in my legs as that stretch has been my biggest downfall both years.

So, a 5 minute PB, I should be happy.  I'm getting there, some days.

I'm still upright, I guess that is success.  Photo courtesy of Chris Hinds.

12 February 2012

Moab, here we come

In Moab, Utah one of the marks of the coming spring is the descending of runners from Fort Collins and Boulder into the Big Horn Lodge.  This happens in mid-February every year for the Red Hot races, 55K and 33K trail races.  Once again Fort Collins runners look to be over 10% of the field with probably as many from Boulder as well.  It was a lot of fun seeing so many familiar faces out on the trail last year and should be much the same this year as well.

Photo from Alex May
I had a bad race last year, really falling apart pace-wise in the last 10-11 miles.  I can come up with some reasons why and some excuses but what's done is done.  After being disappointed last year I am hoping to run better this year.  Overall my longest runs were longer last year than this year but I still put in several in the 22-24 mile range.  One thing that has been different this year is my overall mileage.  With the streak I have been much more consistent this year and have run about 35% more mileage in Red Hot training for this year.  I have felt overall strong and free of niggling aches and pains as I've tapered down the past couple weeks, I'll take that as a good sign.

I'm still haven't come up with a race day plan yet.  It's tougher for trail races than road races as it's more difficult to compare training runs to race day performance.  This is especially true with the slick rock surface in Moab, which is difficult to approximate here.  I have not found running downhill on slick rock to be as easy as it sounds.  I've tried to include a good mix of trails, hilly harder surface runs like Centennial, and harder effort runs on hard surfaces like the bike paths.  Last year my training was much more skewed to trails.  Originally I was hoping to chop an hour off 2011, so 7 hours or about 12:40 miles.  Maybe that will still be my goal.  Some runs it seems very possible, some it still seems far off.  I still need to think about that one.  Heck, I still need to decide which shoes to wear and what to carry for water/gear.  The weather does look nicer than last year at least.  That will be nice.  Four days of work left, that's a lot of time to day dream about the details ;-)  I'm getting kind of excited to find out how it all unfolds.

Early view from the overcast and rainy course in 2011

03 February 2012

100 days

I was going to post either a geeky statistical breakdown or something sappy and inspirational, but I'm already on day 102 and haven't gotten there yet, so here it is.  100 days of streaking, 603 miles, Woo Hoo!  Congrats to Ean on her 100 days yesterday and Mindy on hers come Monday.  Oh yeah, this is all Ean's fault.  Thanks!

16 January 2012

The girls climb Horsetooth Rock

I lived in Fort Collins for 18 years before I ever made it to the summit of Horsetooth Rock.  My daughters did it yesterday at ages 8 and 10.  Towers last July and now Horsetooth Rock, way to go girls.

Sandis and Stella atop The Rock
We hiked up with The Nick Clark and his family and Rob and his daughter in the first FFCTR (Future Fort Collins Trail Runners) family hike. We all had a good time hiking with the others but also had some nice father-daughter time when we lagged behind at times.  Though the going was sometimes difficult and very uphill there was very little whining -- possibly the biggest compliment.  We will be awaiting the next one -- maybe on a peak with a little less ice on the way up.

07 January 2012

Run to work day

The Official Run to Work day isn't until 24 February, but I couldn't wait.  Actually it is something I've thought about doing for awhile.  The timing of Shannon's announcement with a busy Saturday and icy not very runnable trails made me think "why not this week?".  Like all successful grand ideas, the idea struck and enough groundwork to not be able to back out was laid down before any reality could set in.  I have found that is the best way to do stuff you might otherwise talk yourself out of doing.  For better or worse.

I first thought of the idea on Wednesday while driving to work.  I mapped it out over lunch, told a couple of my runner friends in the afternoon (so I couldn't back out), and packed an extra lunch and extra clothes and such Wednesday evening.  Thursday at work one of my friends asked me what time I had to leave.  Hmm, I hadn't thought that far ahead yet.  The route I mapped was 21 miles, give myself a leisurely 4 hours, arrive to work at 7:30 to have time to shower before 8:00, holy crap, I have to leave at what time?  Like I said above, best to commit before figuring out too many of the gory details.

Thursday night I went out to the unseasonably warm (it was so warm that half-naked co-eds were seen frolicking along the Spring Creek Trail) FCTR social run, told a few folks of my plans to further cement them, and then did my best to do some carbo loading after the run while still leaving early enough to try and get some sleep.

Friday the alarm went off at 3:00 AM.  I found myself more awake than I thought I'd be and hopped right up. I made some coffee, had some pop tarts (the trail runner's food of choice before epic adventures), and suited up.  I went with tights, a long sleeve shirt, wind shell, and hat and gloves.  After drinking the coffee and eating the Gingerbread pop tarts (my children wanted these and then didn't like them, I am secretly OK with that) I was out the door at 3:37 AM for day 74 of the Streak.  

The first couple hours went by pretty quickly as the novelty of running all alone on almost completely quiet roads was fun.  Sometime around 5:30 I began wishing for the sun to come up though.  The next 90 minutes or so before sunrise were tough mentally and my pace suffered greatly during this section.  I took advantage of any excuse I could come up with to stop and take off my pack, look for this or that, etc.  I think I was getting lonely too, as I often am able to find company for my long runs and rarely run for 4+ hours solo.  My mind of course wandered to wondering what this time of night would be like if I had 75 instead of 13 miles in my legs and didn't get to sleep the night before.  Oddly or not, I still want to find out.

Eventually the sun did peak up over the horizon.  It was an impressive sunrise and I snapped quite a few photos as the sun came up.  This all seemed to buoy my spirits  and I was able to pick up the pace some for the remaining 7 miles.   Overall it took me about 30 minutes longer than I hoped (watch not stopped for any stops/breaks), which is disappointing given my goals for the Colorado Marathon, but I have been tired all week after the back to back 5Ks and did run relatively hard for 7.5 miles the night before so I will blame that a bit.  There's still work to be done before that trip down the Poudre Canyon though.

I got around work alright as long as I didn't sit on one place for too long.  My glutes were definitely sore all day but I was able to disguise any hobble for the most part.  ;-)  I was wiped out in the early evening though.  I am sure I was terrible company during the ride home my buddy gave me and once home I nearly fell asleep on the couch while talking to Shawn and the girls.  I still think I'd rather run to work than home from work though, even though it means an early start.

I'll do it again someday, but probably not on 24 February.  I wouldn't want to kill my Trudge the day.  Next time I might sacrifice the shortest possible route to take me by a 7-11 or coffee shop for a little mid-run break and fuel as well.  I'll also have a better breakfast waiting for me at work.  The Greek Yogurt was good but the oatmeal was totally unappealing.  A nice breakfast burrito would have been a better choice.  You'd think I'd have a better handle on what I'd crave after a long run, eh?

Run to work sunrise

Alpenglow on Longs and Meeker

02 January 2012

Turning the page

A quick look at the year that was, and the year to come.

2011 Successes
  • Mileage goal: 1715 actual miles, my goal was1620 (50K/week)
  • Improvement: That's 395 miles higher than the 1320 I ran in 2010 and my highest ever
  • Goal Races: My only goal race was the Big Horn 50, my first 50 miler and my goal was simply to finish it.  I did that, and had the best day running ever.
  • Other Races
    • I set a 5K PB (24:20) in April.
    • I was very happy with my Barr Trail Race, I felt I ran a great race that day and blew away my time expectations, and I took a big fall while composing a Haiku to Gryptonite Magic, which makes a great story, and a good picture.  
  • The cool looking 'egg' on my left forearm is not visible, but there's some nice dirt and blood on the legs.
  • My first ever running streak, 68 days old on New Year's Eve.
  • Less measurable, I had a ton of fun with my trail running friends from the Fort Collins Trail Runners.  Running on the Colorado Trail (the second-best run of the year), March Mileage Madness, Greyrock, Crozier Triple, "plain old ordinary" 30 milers with Alex and Mary, 24 Hours of Moab, 24 Hours of Towers, Marathons with Marie, all the December Shenanigans, the Pineridge Downhill Miles, the many, many social runs and associated cookouts/potlucks/beer drinking, taking over the Big Horn Lodge in Moab, the Towers Time Trials, sharing my Big Horn run with so many other FCTRs and many other fun runs I am forgetting to list.

2011 Less than successes:
  • I missed my vertical gain goal by a lot.  I set out for 50 miles of vert and ended up with only 38.5 miles.  To be fair I really was unsure of what a reasonable goal was here as I had never tracked it before.
  • Missing 4 Towers Time Trials (and the VBM).
  • 2 months of not hitting 100+ miles running
  • Letting my running drop off the face of the earth in September and October (the above mentioned 2 months).  One week in October my only run was a Towers Time Trial (and it sucked!).  15 mile weeks, oddly, aren't enough to maintain fitness.
  • The loss of speed that accompanied the above lack of running. I lost 3 minutes off my 5K time between slacking (and the point right below here). 
  • The lack of blog posts between August and November.  Coincidence?
  • Gaining 15 pounds since Big Horn.
  • No big races or running accomplishments in the fall and early winter (up until Chubby Cheeks).

2012 Goals
  • Mileage goal - 10K a day or 2274.3 miles for the leap year
  • Vertical gain - 50 miles again
  • Towers Time Trials - Make them all
  • 150 miles every month
  • Have even more fun with my FCTR friends
  • 366 Days of Streaking
  • Lose 20-25 lbs
  • Race Goals:
    • Sub-4:00 in the Colorado Marathon
    • Run another 50 mile race in the spring/early summer
    • Fall 100 or another 50 or a 100K
    • Pikes Peak Marathon
    • Set new PBs in the 5K, 10K, and Half
    • Mid-Pack kind of finish in at least one 50K
  • Fun Runs:
    • Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim
    • Another overnight camping and Colorado Trail run
    • Organize the 2nd Annual 24 Hours of Towers

The mileage goal is aggressive and I may have to revisit it mid-year, but I've averaged more than the 43.5 miles a week necessary for the past 8 weeks of the Streak so it should be doable.  One thing the Streak has provided is consistency (which surprised me, but I guess should have been obvious).  Without running any crazy big mileage (15,23,18,17,8 longest runs of the weeks in Dec) I managed to have my highest mileage month ever in December 2011.

I'm excited to continue Streaking.  I have found it great for me mentally and physically.  I have been surprised at how strong I've felt, rather than run down as I thought I'd be.  I've been surprised to see the miles add up consistently, and I've been surprised at how few times (once really) that I didn't want to go out.  Having a run on the docket helps me plan out every day, often before I get up.

I'm 2 days in to 2012, 20.2 miles down, 2254.3 to go.  I can't wait for the rest.