Sunday, February 27, 2011

Looking back at Red Hot Moab and on to the Future

The trip to Moab was fantastic for a million reasons. My whole family came along including my mom all the way from Southern California. My amazing wife ran the 33k, her first long trail race, and she did amazing and had a great time. There were so many of my friends from the Fort Collins Trail Runners and the Boulder Special Idiots that we occupied 40 of the 58 rooms at the Big Horn Lodge and they recognized us on the marquee.
There were so many of us at the start and finish and along th course that it felt like big trail runner social event.
Post race we filled the whole back room of the Mexican restaurant in Moab and we must have fully depleted Moab's supply of fresh limes and tequila. It was a great weekend of fun, friends, beautiful rocks, trails and mountains and great margaritas.

The only thing about the weekend that was less than fabulous was my race time. I went in to the race feeling pretty confident. I had run training miles like never before in December and January and then I tapered for the three weeks leading up to the race. I felt good on race morning and I didn't worry too much about the windy, rainy weather as we started up the trail. I started conservatively up the hill in the first mile, talking to some friends and being careful of the icy patches on the dirt incline. I hit mile 1 in just over 10 minutes feeling great. I ran along with Brian S. who was running his longest race ever, previous longest race being a 10K. We cruised down the hill after the first mile and hit miles 2 and 3 in 7:50. I knew this was probably a bit fast, but it felt easy so didn't worry about it too much. Mile 4 started up the hill towards the first aid station and the 9 mile loop that goes to the high point of the course and the rim above highway 191. Miles 4 -20 all felt good and averaged close to 9 minutes each. I was running well and was on pace to run 5:30 or better. I stayed fueled eating gels and a Tiger's Milk Bar. I stopped briefly at my drop bag at the mile 17 aid station to drop my wool hat and sun glasses and grab some more food. I was still feeling good and running pretty strong on the long slick rock climb up to the aid station at mile 23. From that point to the finish, was 10 miles of mostly downhill over rock, rough trail and sand and this is where my race started to fall apart. I didn't feel terrible and I never totally bonked, I just kept on at PR ruining 11-14 minute per mile pace. I felt okay, I just didn't feel like I could go any faster over the rough rocky path.

I have had this problem before on technical trails and I'm not really sure why. Maybe I lack the leg strength necessary to bounce down the steep off camber descents or muscle my way up the rock steps. Maybe I am just too afraid to fall and scrape my knees or crack my skull. Maybe it's a combination of these and other factors. Anyway, it is something I am determined to work on before the summer season of technical trail races.
First however, I need to focus on some fast road miles to prepare for the Colorado Marathon on May 1. I took this last week very easy running only 37 miles all week mostly slow and flat. I did have a wild run up Towers on Thursday night with the group. The sky was partly clear and the temperatures were in the 40s when I left the house but by the time I started up the hill the snow was coming down so hard I couldn't see more than a few feet ahead of me. As we came down the hill 45 minutes later there were 2 inches of fresh snow on the trail and the temperature had dropped to 20. It was our most epic Towers ascent of the season.
On Saturday, I ran a decent fast finish 10 miler on the Spring Creek trail with miles 5-9 going 7:43, 7:27, 7:13, 6:58, and 6:45 miles, but that 6:45 was hard.

The weather looks good next week and I feel fully recovered physically if not mentally from Moab, so I am going to work to put in a solid week of running with some longer runs, some speed work and the Tortoise and Hare 12K next Sunday.

Next time you are in Moab, make sure to stop at the Love Muffin Cafe for the locals breakfast burrito and a bacon and blueberry muffin

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fort Collins goes to Moab

Just 3 days until my family and I along with close to 40 other Fort Collins Trail Runners head out to Moab, Utah for the Red Hot 33K and 55K trail races. This will be my third time running this race. Tlast two years, I have approached this as nothing more than an early season race and a great chance to travel to warmer, less snowy trails and have a nice long run. This year has been different for a few reasons. First, I have had a much more solid, high mileage winter training season than I have ever had. I ran 300 miles in December and 345 miles in January. I ran plenty of hills, a little speed and several races. Secondly, I usually wouldn't taper for a race like Moab, but by the end of January after successive, 70, 80, 85 and 90 mile weeks, I was pretty beat. I was feeling tired with dead legs on every run. After the 90 mile week at the end of January, I cut the next week back to 70 miles, then last week I ran only 55 miles. So far this week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I have run only easy 4-5 mile runs. As of today I am starting to feel rested again. I am hoping now that my fatigue forced taper will pay off with a great race on Saturday.
Last year at Moab with the snow, I ran 6:04. In 2009, I ran 5:52. I think I should be able to run 5:30 or better this year. That works out to an average of exactly 10 minutes per mile for the 33 mile course. There are many sections of the course where 10 minute miles or better should be no problem, but there are also sections of slick rock climbing and technical descending where I know I'll be lucky to keep up 12-14 minute pace. The slick rock is my greatest challenge. If I can run well and maintain a steady pace on the slick rock, I should have a good race and a great day running trails in Moab with all my friends.

Monday, February 7, 2011

HPBT and T&H 8K

Cold weather and tired legs made this a much easier and lower mileage week which was probably a good thing. I got out for a run every day and even a good night run on Reservoir Ridge Tuesday night when it was 6 degrees below zero.

Saturday morning, I ran though Pineridge to the Maxwell TH and ran the 10 mile out and back on the Horsetooth Half course with Nick, Pete, Scott and Sarah. There were some good snow flurries on the way out, but the 30 degree temps felt mild after the single digits and below earlier in the week. We ran the dam hills at a pretty good clip and with the run back home through Pineridge I got just over 15 miles.

At 11:00, I met up with a fun and wild crew for the 4th annual Human Powered Brewery Tour. This included an easy 4 miles of slow running and probably a bit too much of the malted beverage. It was a lot of fun and I was especially glad that Ean got out of class early and made for 5 out of 6 of the breweries on the tour.

Sunday morning Ean, Maddie and I ran the Tortoise and Hare 8K. I was not feeling great after Saturday's shenanigans, so although I hoped for a fast showing on the out and back 5 mile course, I was doubtful. My splits were 6:26, 6:21, 6:33, 6:38, 6:02 totaling 31:57 for the 4.92 mile run. I was pretty happy with that considering how I was feeling and I made an oath to abstain from adult beverages for the next couple weeks.

In all it was a 70 mile week which was a bit lower than I had planned, but not too bad as I am still averaging better than 10 miles/day for the year. I got an email a couple days ago from Reid Delman of Gemini Adventures saying that I won the trivia raffle for a free entry to this year's 24 Hours of Utah the Run, so I have added that to my race calendar. I ran the race in '08 and '09 as a solo competitor, but I think it would be a lot of fun to run as a Fort Collins Trail Runner team and so far I have 5 interested potential teammates.

Just two weeks left until my first trip to Moab for the season and I'm looking forward to a good race and fun trip with my family and lots of Front Range friends.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cold Day

The phone rang last night at 6:30 and caller ID said Poudre School District. I held my breath as I answered and listened to the recorded message and then let out a celebratory yelp when it said that all schools would be closed the next day due to severe weather. The weather stations had predicted highs today of 6 to 8 degrees below zero and lows tonight of 15-20 degrees below with wind chill to minus 35. It has turned out not to be nearly as bad as predicted and Ean and I just got back from a very nice 5 mile run around the park and in to Pineridge under sunny skies and a balmy 6 degrees with only gentle breezes. This was a welcome day off on a not so Cold Day.