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.

And the rest of December

Surely after that long last post there couldn't be much of December left, right?  Since then ...

We decided to adopt another dog as a family holiday present.  The girls have been wanting another dog, and I admit I am jealous of all my friends who have dogs who can go out and run with them.  Our dog Sirius does love to run but a) he's terrible on a leash and b) he has a problem with one of his legs and if I take him longer than 5 miles he'll limp around for a day or two afterward.  I took a day off work the Monday before Christmas and we headed out.  First to Animal House, as Pete as done a good job advertising the dogs he runs with while volunteering for them.  Thanks to Pete's posts I fell in love with Zorro, and I never even met him.  As it turns out Animal House is closed on Mondays though.  After a brief stop at Larimer County Humane Society we ended up in Longmont where they had several dogs we liked.  We ultimately chose an almost 2 year old Doberman mix, then named Emma Louise, renamed Tonks to stick with the "wizards who died in the Harry Potter books" theme.  Tonks seemed pretty well behaved, knew basic commands and performed them even for Stella, and did well when jogging around with me, including having 100 times more of a clue than Sirius on what heel means.  Tonks has lived up to the name as she proved to be a bit clumsy, acquiring a spiral, or green tree, fracture in a bone in her front paw within 10 minutes of coming home.  Her running debut will be delayed 4 weeks (now only 2.5!) but the vet told us she should fully heal and still be able to run.  She and I both anxiously await.  

On the 29th the Fort Collins Trail Runners had the first annual Toast To Towers, or FCTR Winter Formal, or just another crazy running shenanigan with the best bunch of runners and friends you could ever hope to meet.  Call it what you want.  We were told to wear our formal wear out for the last trip of the year up our favorite hill.  I thought about it, thinking maybe I'd find a bow tie to wear with my tech shirt and tights, but didn't really think it would much beyond that (and never looked for that bow tie).  If I've learned something though, it's that I shouldn't underestimate the FCTR.  Runners showed up to run through soul-sucking deatheater mud and up icy hills dressed to go out on the town.  Dresses, coats, ties, buttom up shirts, tiaras, scarfs, even high heels made appearances.  I felt woefully underdressed, but was overwhelmed by the spread Ean and Alex whipped up for us.  A table with table cloth, cheese and crackers, fresh baked cookies, some bubbly, christmas lights, music, you name it, all hauled up the hill by Alex and Ean.  I don't think I'm going out on a limb in thinking a tradition has been born.  

Then came New Year's Eve.  68-ish days ago, when Ean decided to streak until the end of the year (and inspired several of us to follow suit) I suggested that the Resolution Run 5K would be a great way to celebrate our streaks.  And we did.  Many dressed in the formal wear they wore up Towers, and me in a shirt and tie and jacket too this time.  I won't underestimate this group twice!  All in all about 12 of us ran the 5K.  I ran a good race for where I'm at, 41 seconds off my 5K PB isn't bad wearing a jacket and tie.  My 5K time is closing in on what would predict that sub-4 marathon.  Now to stretch that out to longer distances.  Happy Streaking to Ean, Mindy, and all the established Streakers who were out there on NYE.

Celeste, Jennifer, Mindy, and Ean at the Resolution Run

And New Year's Day (not December, but pretty darn close).  The Runners Roost in Fort Collins hosts a 5K on New Year's Day every year.  I've never run the race, but have heard it's small, fun and there are great sales afterward.  Two 5Ks in 15 hours time?  All the cool kids are doing it, so why not?  9 or 10 of us who ran the night before showed up, leaving the formal wear and opting for the standard running garb this time.  After coming close to my PB the night before I was hoping to be even closer this time, but I instead came in about 15-20 seconds slower.  My legs, especially my hips and hamstrings, were a little tight and my 0.9 mile warm up was not enough.  Next year I'll either bike or do a longer warm up to get things loose before starting.  I also tired sooner in this race than the night before.  Shocking, I know.  It was yet another great day out with good running friends.

All in all December was a fun, friends, and shenanigan-filled month.  As I did in July, I still ♥ FCTR.