Monday, June 28, 2010

A week of recovery

A week after Big Horn, I am feeling fresh and strong. I took it real easy this week, running only 43 miles and doing some cycling. It was bike week in Fort Collins and on our drive home from Wyoming last Sunday, we decided as a family to leave the car in the driveway all week.

We stayed on track Mon-Friday which meant riding with Maddie the 5 miles each way to track practice, Ean and I rode to the Tuesday night run, then to the Trailhead Tavern and then home in the dark. We rode witht the trailer to do our shopping at Sam's Club and we rode to the Gadrens at Spring Creek for the Bike and Jazz Concert on Friday evening. Wednesday was Bike to Work Day and there were an amazing 57 breakfast stations set up throughout the city where cyclists could stop in between 6:30 and 9:30 for a free breakfast. Since Micah and I had no work to ride to on Wednesday morning, we decided to ride around and eat all the free breakfasts that we could. Micah drew out a plan that included 32 breakfasts, but a little math showed that we would have to ride and eat very fast to complete that route. We left the house at 6:15 to make the first spot by opening and continued through town eating pancakes, bagels, breakfast burritos, muffins, cinamon rolls, fruit and coffee (at one spot, I topped off my coffee with raw milk from a cow that stood a few feet away) for three hours. We ate 16 breakfasts (we took some to go) and had a great time. The paper reported record participation in the event this year with over 6000 people out riding to where they needed to go. I love Fort Collins.
More later.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Big Horn 50

I celebrated my 36th birthday yesterday by running the Big Horn 50 mile trail race. It was a tough run and a long day. I had hoped to cut half an hour off last year's time to finish in 11 hours, but I was not quite in the shape that I needed to be and I finished in 11:31:45. All in all it was a good day and I toughed out a few rough patches. The weather was nice and the course was beautiful even though the trail was a bit muddy.

The day began with a 3:15 am bus ride from Sheridan to the finish in Dayton and then up to the start at the Porcupine ranger station. I woke up feeling pretty good. Maddie sang me happy birthday, Micah wished me a good run and Ean drove to the bus. I got a little sleep on the way up to Porcupine and we got there with enough time for me to wait in the porta potty line right up until the 6:00 am start.

I ran with fellow Fort Collins trail runners, Terry, Tim and Adam for a while. This was Adam and Tim's first 50 and Terry a veteran of many ultras including Hard Rock was along to encourage Tim through. The first 5 miles were very marshy and muddy, but not nearly as snowy as I expected. We all laughed and had a good time mucking through the marshy parts of the course and enjoyed the beauty of the early morning sun.

I felt good through the early miles and kept right on my goal pace. I arrived at the Foot Bridge Aid Station at mile 18, the first drop bag location, in under 3 and half hours. It felt great to rinse off my feet and put on dry socks and shoes. I filled my water, ate a PB&J and headed across the bridge and up the first and biggest climb of the course fondly referred to as "the wall". I caught up with Adam after a few minutes and we walked and talked our way up the climb, admiring the fields of wild flowers. I pushed on ahead and made it to the top in just over an hour, but I was feeling pretty spent. From the top of the wall, the trail rolls along for a while though a wooded area and I took this whole section pretty slow.

I went through the next couple of aid stations pretty quickly and started feeling a bit better. I passed Marie who was running the 100 and her pacer Paul just before Kerns Cow Camp at mile 28. Marie seemed to be doing well and I had a chance to talk to Paul about his summer racing schedule which includes the Western States 100 next weekend, the Badwater 135 two weeks after that and the Furnace Creek 508 bike race in the beginning of October.

I had a short stop at Cow Camp and continued on to the second drop bag location at Dry Fork (mile 34.5) You can see the aid station from over 2 miles away across the valley and it is a long slow gradual climb to get there. I passed Kiwi Rob running the 100 with his wife Cecili pacing. He said he was having some ankle trouble and just hoping to make the cut offs. He still seemed in good spirits and encouraged me to "keep going mate". I found out later that he had made it to the turnaround in 12 hours and in 20th place then twisted his ankle in the mud just after 50 miles. Rather than drop, he walked all the way to the finish and made it just under the cut off in 33:36- very impressive.

I kept up my steady pace and walked the final hill into the aid station in just under 8 hours. The aid station volunteers were very helpful with getting my drop bag, filling my water and offering me a chair. It felt good to sit down and I checked my blood sugar with a test kit I had in my drop bag. It was a perfect 111 and I was feeling good. I stuffed my hydration pack into my drop bag, decided not to change socks and shoes, walked into the food tent for some pretzels and a tortilla roll up with turkey and avocado- it was great- and walked out on to the road glad to have less than 18 miles to go.

I continued on to Upper Sheep Creek feeling tired but still able to maintain a reasonable mix of walking and slow running. After the Upper Sheep aid station at mile 39, there is the last real climb of the day which is very steep but not nearly as long as the wall. I walked the whole climb and was very glad to get to the top of the ridge knowing that there was only about 11 miles to go and it was all down hill.

This is the part of the course that I felt great on last year and made really good time. The course travels down a green hillside and along a stretch that looks down the valley all the way back in to Dayton. I didn't have the legs left to run as hard as I would have liked here, but I kept on going glad to be getting closer to the finish.

Terry flew past me just before the Lower Sheep Creek aid station with about 8 miles to go. The trail smooths out here a bit and I hoped to stay with him, but my legs didn't quite have it. The lst section of trail runs along the Tongue River and is really nice and runnable. I enjoyed this section and smiled and waved and a kilted man playing bagpipes on the side of the trail. Before I knew it, I was at the cheery Tongue River Road aid station. I filled my bottle ate a little and checked the sign on the way out that said there was only 5 miles to the finish.

The last 5 miles run along a dirt camp ground access road that rolls through some farms and horse properties in to the small town (population 658) of Dayton, WY. I went through the first mile on the road in about 9 minutes, but couldn't keep up the pace all the way in.

I was glad again to see the home stretch aid station where a volunteer met me in the road with a grape otter pop and the news that it was only 1.7 miles to the finish. I walked just long enough to eat my otter pop which tasted really good and then ran the rest of the the road in to Dayton, crossed the bridge over the Tongue river and crossed the road in to Scott Park. I saw Ean and Maddie as I rounded the corner and Maddie ran out to meet me. Micah jumped out of the car and the three of us ran the last 100 yards in to the park while Ean snapped some pictures.

It felt good to finish and it was very nice to have my family there to greet me. I took off my shoes and stood in the river to wash off 52 miles and 11 and a half hours of mud from my legs. The cold water felt great and Shadow came in to join me.
We stayed at the park for a while and enjoyed the picnic and watched our friends finish their 50 and 100 mile adventures. It was a great day, I enjoyed the run and a the trail and the whole experience. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my birthday.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hewlett Gulch

Ean, Shadow and I went for a great run today in Hewlett Gulch out in Poudre Canyon. The drive up the canyon was exciting checking out the Poudre at its highest flow in 10 years. The Hewlett Gulch trailhead is on the north side of the river just past Poudre Park. It is a beautiful trail that rolls gently along a small canyon crossing back and forth over a stream about 20 times.

I tried to step carefully across the streams on the rocks and keep my feet dry for a while, then decided to just follow Shadow's example and slosh through the water. I figured it would be good prep for Bighorn to get used to running with wet feet. After about 3 miles, the trail climbs up to a meadow where there are some houses and horse property visible to the north then loops back around and drops down a steep rocky trail back to the gulch about two miles out. The whole run was an 8 mile lolly pop loop that took us about 2 hours with lots of stops to enjoy the scenery.

Pineridge Run and BBQ

Since late February, Ean and I have been hosting an every other week run and BBQ on Thursday evenings. We meet out at Spring Canyon Park down the street and run the 5 mile loop around Pineridge Natural Area. After the run we head back to the house and BBQ veggie burgers, drink beer and talk with whoever has come out for the run. It has turned in to a great event and it is often my favorite run of the week. There are a few regulars and always a few new runners to the group. Last night we had 23 people come out for the run and a few more family and kids that came for the BBQ. This has been a great way to build some community within the Fort Collins Trail running group as long time members have an opportunity to sit around and talk and new people coming out have a chance to get to know the group. The conversation ranges from recent or upcoming races, to training and nutrition plans to international politics. The run is casual, the food is good, and the company is always great. Next Pineridge social run is June 24 at 6:00 pm.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bighorn Trail Run 50- I'm in!

So, I sent my registration in for the Bighorn 50 mile race back in March and waited patiently for confirmation that I got in. In mid May after a couple of emails, I was informed that my registration was received after the race was full, but if I wanted I could go on the wait list and see if a spot opened up. Well after an anxious month of waiting, I just got an email saying that I am in. With the race just 10 days away, I can just take it easy and make sure I hit race day rested and healthy.

I have done a lot of good running over the last couple weeks including a comfortable 42 minute Bolder Boulder 10K, a 38 minute Towers Road run, and a tough trail run this past Sunday at the Teva Mountain Games in Vail. I haven't really done the focused 50 mile training that I would have liked, but I think I have the preparation that I need to have a good run and maybe even beat last year's time.

I have also set out some running goals for the summer and fall. My biggest challenge is to run/fastpack the first half of the Colorado Trail, from Denver to Buena Vista. I am still working out the details on this, but I am looking at the first week in July- more to come on this. Some other goals include, running 1000 miles between Memorial Day and Labor Day (9 days in and 82 miles run), running up and down Towers Road in under 60 minutes, and running a 100 mile race, possibly the Grand Mesa 100 on July 24-25. I also registered for the Denver Rock and Roll Marathon which will be my first road marathon since Boston in 2006.