Monday, May 28, 2012

Bolder Boulder 2012

Micah, Maddie and I ran our 6th Bolder Boulder 10K this morning and this might have been the best one ever.  We managed the 4:30 am wake up and 5:15 departure without much trouble and parked just steps away from the start line.  I ran in the B wave based on my 43:28 finish time from last year.  I had no big expectations for this race since I have been doing no 10K specific training and I ran 21 miles and a lot of vertical on the trails yesterday.  I felt okay as I warmed up and as I stood on the start line, so I hoped for a fun race and a decent finish- maybe close to 40 minutes.  The gun went off for wave B at 7:03 and I took off at a conservative pace thinking this could be a good race to work on running negative splits.  I hit mile 1 in 6:24 and all was well.  Mile 2 was 6:22 and the dreaded uphill mile 3 was a surprisingly quick 6:20.  I started to feel the effort here, but I reminded myself that there was only 3 miles to go and the next mile had some good downhill.  Mile 4 was 6:19 and mile 5 was 6:18.  Just over a mile to go and if I pushed I could actually run an all negative split 10k.  I dug deep and worked for mile 6 which clicked off at 6:15!  I ran in to the stadium and across the line for a 40:15 finish, my fastest Bolder Boulder ever.
I grabbed my lunch sack and ran the mile back to Micah and Maddie at the start.  Maddie's friend and fellow Blevins Bolder Boulder racer Megan was there with her family getting ready to run her first 10k.  We walked over to the start and in to the corral for the MC start where we met up with the rest of the Blevins team, all excited and ready to go.
Running with the kids was an amazing 97 minute whirlwind of yelling, laughing, sling-shoting, marshmallows, sprinklers, Doritos, slip and slides, cotton candy, leap frog, dancing and blue cupcakes.  We had a great time out on the course and then found a place in the stands to watch the elite race and the Memorial Day Tribute before heading back to the 29th Street Mall for our traditional post BB lunch at Daphne's and then home to rest.  Bolder Boulder has become the mark of the beginning of summer for me in Colorado and I love every second of it- crazy crowds and all.  Thanks Micah and Maddie for doing this with me.  It was a great day.
Micah, getting psyched up for the run

Maddie and Megan too

Marshmallows at mile 2.2

cotton candy at mile 3


the notorious slip and slide

new this year, blue cupcakes on Pearl Street

some inspiring signage at mile 5.5

racing in to the finish

taken by a former Blevins Bruin we met at the finish line

Micah heading in to the stadium for the finish

It's good to have a big brother

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Quad Rock

A steady rain fell on Friday night as Maddie and I sat in the Runner's Roost and gave out t-shirts and parking passes for Fort Collins' first ultra.  There was a quiet excitement in the air as the trail running community from the Front Range and beyond prepared to run the inaugural Quad Rock 25 and 50 mile races, organized by our very own trail running super stars, Nick Clark and Pete Stevenson

On Saturday morning, I woke at 3:00 am after a restful night's sleep, ate a bowl of oatmeal, drank a cup of coffee and then drove over to pick up Cat and Brian and head to the start.  We were greeted at the entrance to Lory State Park at 4:20 am by the second place finisher at last Sunday's Colorado Marathon, Sarah Hansen, who wished us well and pointed us towards a place to park.  There is something wonderful about standing around in the predawn darkness with all of your friends getting ready for an amazing adventure on the trails. After we picked up our race numbers from Mary and took off our warm clothes, we walked to the start line to hear Nick give final race instructions.  It was pretty cold so I went with long sleeves over my Fort Collins Trail Runner shirt and then I saw Sam in just a singlet and made a last second decision to toss the long sleeves and commit to some suffering.  I also forwent a headlamp figuring I could get by with the light of the other 200 headlamps on the trail for 20 minutes until dawn broke.  Both of these decisions ended up being good since the 7 minute pace we went out at warmed me up quickly and lighting was fine.  A few minutes in, we turned off the park road on to the winding East Valley single track and I took a look back to see the surreal sight of of hundreds of headlamps moving in a single file line steadily along the trail.

I ran with Kyle and Justin and we clipped along the Valley and across the border into Horsetooth Mountain Park.  We hit the turn on to Sawmill and I joked with the runners around me saying, "Here's where the fun begins," knowing that the 21+ miles ahead were all straight up or straight down.  I ran the Sawmill, Stout, Towers climb pretty well and arrived at Towers aid station in 1:08. Aid station captain Chris Hinds and his crew filled my water bottle, gave me some encouragement and sent me on my way down Spring Creek.
Kyle was just ahead of me through here and Scott passed me going down hill looking very strong on the first lap of his 50 mile adventure.  We ran past the falls and came into the Horsetooth aid station (mile 10.4) in 1:38.  This was another wonderful aid station captained by Rob and staffed by good friends.  Pete was there telling me to keep pushing for a sub 4 hour finish.  Betsy helped me fill my water bottle and gave me a chunk of peeled banana and some gummy bears.  Mike (running the 50) appeared as I was heading out and he also seemed to be having a great day.  I left the aid station heading up towards the rock thinking, "I really only have 15 miles left?"
The climb up the rock trail was fun and I hit the beginning of Westridge with Mike and Kyle and a couple others.  Westridge has been difficult for me in the past with some steep uphill sections and lots of semi technical downs.  Today it felt easy and I ran it comfortably with Mike and before I knew it, we were back out on Towers Road heading back through the Towers aid station.  From here we went down Mill Creek, another technical down hill that I have struggled with before, but I knew that today this descent was mine so I let it go and enjoyed the ride.
I felt good all the way down to the Arthur's Rock trail and my last aid station of the day.  I was glad to see Mindy and Lindsay and others dressed in tu-tus and helping tired runners.  I gave Mindy my gloves, filled my water bottle and mixed in the Gu Brew powder that I had been carrying to get some electrolytes in me for the final climb up the Howard Trail and then the descent of Timber to the finish line.  I was a little tired, but there was only 7 miles to go.  I headed up the trail just behind Mike and we traded positions a few times as we zig-zagged back and forth up the Howard switch backs.
photo by Erin Bibeau
I got to the top of Arthur's still feeling great and now I knew there was only about 4 miles to go and it was all downhill so I gave it everything I had left.  This was absolutely the fastest I have ever gone down Timber and I was keeping an eye on my watch.  It looked like a 4:10 was going to be really close and I knew all I could do was run.  I wasn't too worried about it either.  In fact I was having such a good time that I was wishing the end was not so close.  With a mile and half to go, I could hear the finish line, the trail smoothed out and I ran hard.  A quick glance at my watch showed 6:40 pace which was as fast as I could run and some quick calculations of remaining distance and time told me that I was going to be just over 4:10.  I finished in 4:11:40, 11th place and am very happy about my race.  Just a few weeks ago, I thought a 4:30 was a really ambitious goal for this race and I ran nearly 20 minutes faster than that and it felt easy.
photo by Marie
The rest of the day, I bundled up in all the clothes I had (it never warmed up) and helped and cheered for 50 milers at the turn around, talked and laughed with friends, ate, drank, met Scott Jurek, and enjoyed a couple hours of volunteering at the Arthurs/East Valley Tu-tu (2.2) aid station.  Molly finished her shift at Horsetooth and picked up Maddie on her way to the post race festivities.

Me and Scott                          photo by Cat
Sam, Kyle, Justin, Jen, Laura, Brian, Tim, Shaun and Cat all ran amazing races in the 25 with fast times, high places or a lot of grit to get it done.  Mike, Scott, Ryan, Steph, Kristel, Chris, Kris, Phil, Katie, Brian29 and Chris ran the 50 and all finished very well meeting and exceeding goals they had set.  It was one of the better days I've had in a while.  Nothing beats spending the whole day outside in a beautiful place with all my friends running, laughing, playing, cheering, suffering, eating, drinking and living life in the moment.  Pete and Nick put on a great event that already has a reputation of being a race not to miss.  The Fort Collins/Front Range running community is a wonderful, supportive family that doesn't hesitate to jump in with both feet to support their friends whether it is volunteering for their race or giving them a hug and and listening ear during tough times.  Quad Rock is now without a doubt my favorite race ever.  Can't wait until next year.
Laura, Jen and Cat showing off their post race fashion

SAM working the finish line with a smile

TNC giving out the 25 mile awards

Cat took 1st place masters and 5th overall . . .again!

Leah, Maddie and Sarah enjoying the finish line fun

50 mile winner and course record holder, Ryan Burch with a smile just after his finish

Kyle ran an amazing 25 mile race with a 4:05 and 2nd place masters finish,
but got crushed in the half mile kids race. Maybe he's not a short course specialist afterall.

Sam, Brian, Maddie, Cat, Jen and Ryan

Hinterberg coming in strong in the last 100 yards of the 50

8:49 and 10th place overall.  I think that equals a 17:30 and top 10 finish next month at WS.

Lindsay, always with a smile at the Tu-tu aid station

Steph, with 2.2 miles to go to her 2nd place finish

Steph trying hard to get some fluids and calories down

Brian29 had an outstanding race in the 50 with a blazing last 2 miles and a 10:19 finish

Cat, Mindy and Lindsay cheering runners and trying to stay warm

Katie, after 48 miles, still had some spring in her step on her way to an 11:11 finish for 11th place!   Wow

RD is a tough job, especially if you also mark the course, run an aid station and sweep the course

Eric put in 50K worth of sweeping, cheering, taking photos, all in his lovely pink tu-tu
Quad Rock's official cake baker

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spring Warm-Up Ride with Micah

This morning Micah and I rode the Spring Warm-Up Ride hosted by the Fort Collins Cycling Club.  The event featured rides of 12, 26, 43 and 62 miles all starting and finishing at Spring Canyon Community Park (our park).  Micah and I signed up for the 43 mile ride a few weeks ago and I have been looking forward to it ever since.
We got up early and each ate a hearty bowl of oatmeal, put on our cycling attire, filled our water bottles and rode the 1 mile stretch down the street and through the park to the start.  We checked in, picked up a map of the route and were headed north on Overland Trail by 9:00 am.
ready to ride             photo by Ean
The route took us north on Taft Hill through fields and farms on a beautiful stretch of road that I'd never been on.  The road rolled along and Micah and I talked, joked around, discussed the various interesting smells that noticed as we passed horse ranches, cattle pastures and some place that smelled a lot like beef jerky.  We both did really well considering that our preparation for this ride consisted of nothing more that riding back and forth to school a few days a week.

Micah, the careful navigator
After 16 miles, he course turned east and a couple miles after that we reached the first of the two aid stations set up for the ride.  We took a short break to fill up or water bottles and eat granola bars and then we headed onward.  Before long we turned south and then veered east in to Wellington where we stopped at the park set up with the second and final aid station at mile 25.  There was a nice group of other riders here and we enjoyed a slightly longer rest with bagels and almond butter.  The weather was perfect today with warm sunshine and a pleasant breeze.  We talked with a volunteer at the aid station who told us that it snowed on the day of the ride last year. 

The May Team

With only 18 miles to go, we continued south towards Fort Collins past the Budweiser plant where we added barley and hops to our collection of interesting smells of the ride.  Micah and I talked about going out for rides like this more often and maybe looking for a 100 mile ride to train for.  The miles continued to slip by as we rolled back in to town and on to the Spring Creek Trail for the final 8 miles.
racing towards the finish
We were getting tired by this point and I asked Micah if he wanted to take a break, but he said he was fine and we should keep riding for the finish.  Before the ride, we had estimated that we'd average around 10 miles per hour and finish the ride in 4 and half hours.  To both of our surprise, we rode quite a bit faster than that and with only a few miles to go, we could see that we'd be done in under 4 hours easy.

what a nice day to be out ridging bikes in Colorado
We rolled back in to the park after 43.5 miles at 12:45 pm.  There was a great lunch set up with sandwich fixings, chips, veggies, soda and cookies.  We sat down for a nice lunch and commented on what a nice group of people these bike riders are.  Definitely a different culture than out trail running group, but still great people that enjoy spending time together playing outside.
My handsome, talented and wonderful son enjoying the post ride lunch at the park

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I'm not afraid anymore

April was an incredible month of running for me.  I set huge PRs on Towers, Horsetooth Rock, The Horsetooth Half  and  for 50 miles.  I had amazing runs on Round Mountain, the Quad Rock course, solid track workouts, back to back long runs and through it all, I have felt great, amazing even.  My legs seem to have a sharpness and spring to them that I haven't felt in running in a very long time.  Running has been fun, exciting, rewarding, healing and rejuvenating in ways that it has never been before.  Many of my friends, family and running companions have asked me, "what's going on?" and "what is the secret behind all these PRs and running breakthroughs?"  I have thought about this a lot as well.

So . . . I have lost a little weight and I have been putting in some solid training and I know that helps, but those things don't even begin to explain what is really going on.  I have been forced to look inside recently and really reflect on who I am and how I have been living and I realized that for a long time, maybe my whole life even, I have been controlled by my fears.  Fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of falling down on a rocky downhill section of trail.  These fears and so many others have been a suffocating weight on me and have held me back not only in running, but in all aspects of my life.  Realizing this and being faced head on with what these fears and my response to them is doing to me and to those whom I love around me has been a tremendous shock.  Giving in to my fears has made me a stressed, controlling person, reluctant to take risks and always worried about things that I really have no control of.  The answer to it all was simple though.  I needed to just let go.  And I am learning to do this.  My friend, Micah True, said "Don't fight the trail, take what it gives you."  And this is what I am learning to do.  I credit my new life in running to learning to let go.  I am running down technical trails with carefree abandon now that a couple months ago I took overly slowly and cautiously, one careful worried step at a time.  And I am having a blast.  I feel less affected by the painful burn of steep uphills and fast paces.  I am finding that I can be not only a better runner, but far more importantly, a better father, a better teacher, a better friend and a better person by letting go of my fears and anxieties.  I am not held back by pain and fear and worry that I need to fix things or be in control of the situation anymore and this allows me to run and live more completely.

I don't have it all figured out yet.  Not even close.  I have some major challenges ahead and some deeply personal struggles and weaknesses to work through.  But I know that I can do it and I can face what ever comes with confidence, with love, with an open hand and with a smile because I am not afraid anymore.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything - anger, anxiety, or possessions - we cannot be free.” 
― Thich Nhat Hanh