26 December 2012

2013 Race Schedule

It will be another condensed year of racing for me with my Guard commitments. Nonetheless, I'm feeling that excitement to train hard and explore different areas of fitness in 2013. As usual I will be running. The past few weeks I've begun to flip the switch from hibernation training to higher volume fun training. This has consisted of back to back 3+ hour weekend runs in Lory/HTMP with lots of vert. The recent snow/ice has commenced "Frisky Summit Season" on Arthur's and H-Tooth. I will also be spending more time in particular on Mill Creek in 2013. This is the 5th (out of 6) climb on the Quad Rock course. It's the crux of the race and kicked my butt last year. I'll be running it from valley floor to beyond Towers (start of Secret Trail) to add a layer of tough to it...and then come all the way back down! I'm looking to find a new friend in the familiarity on this stretch of dirt.

In addition to the running I've been doing my military workouts 3-4 days/week that are: various types of pushups, pullups, tons of core, and other body weight exercises. My goal is to max out my APFT score. This test measures: the amount of pushups in two minutes, the amount of situps in two minutes, and a timed two mile run. A maximum score of 100 points in each event will give you a total score of 300. Currently I've plateaued in the low 280's. I can max the situps and run but need to crank out at least 15 more pushups. This will prevent me from showing up to fire academy with a bird cage up top. I'll be more balanced in my total fitness for 2013. Weight wise I'll be running 5-7 lbs stronger compared to last year. I'm slower on the climbs but am curious to see what the magic number is that retains strength and running performance with the training load I'm on. It's not even 2013 and I've already planned out half of my weekends through May! And that's only with races and Guard weekends on the docket...

February- Moab's Red Hot 55K

March- A Run Through Time Marathon

April- Lake Sonoma 50M

May- Quad Rock 50M

End of May to Mid September- Firefighter Academy in Texas

September- UROC 100K

October through December- ?

Have a Happy New Year! Resolve to be better in at least one way...then do it!

30 November 2012

Quad Rock Registration Opens Tomorrow!!!

Ladies and Gents,

Registration for the Quad Rock 25 and 50 mile races opens tomorrow! Don't miss out on securing your spot to run the beautifully challenging trails that connect Lory and Horsetooth. The top three male and female finishers from the 50 will be returning to defend the podium. I'm looking forward to a deep field and some runners who could take the CR under 7 hours...Dakota, Tony, Sage...would be fun to see what you could lay down! And the post-race will be epic as well!

23 November 2012

Turkey Trottin' 2012

This past Wednesday I flew out to Wisconsin to enjoy Thanksgiving with the Burch clan. While waiting for my flight I bumped into Zeke. Check out his blog and welcome him to the blogosphere! It's always fun to run into friends unexpectedly and catch up a bit before the birds take to the sky.

Thanksgiving morning came and I was already properly stuffed from the previous evenings meal and the wondrous cooking of my Aunt Robin. Needless to say I was well fueled for the ensuing 5 miler. Lasagna and brownies stoked my fire... This was my third running at the 5th Annual Eau Claire, WI Turkey Trot. Two Turkey Days ago I finished second (30:32) on a snowy/icy course in cold and windy conditions. For 2012 I was going for the win!

Unseasonably warm temps brought forth a dry course and a faster field. While packing on Tuesday night I threw in a pair of shorts and a s/s shirt to wear around the house, never anticipating that I might run in them. Maybe I should have taken 20 seconds and checked the weather. But this was late November in Wisconsin. I've experienced near frost-bite winter running here before. My nose, ears, fingers, toes, and other digits can fondly remember the sweet stinging sensation that comes with rewarming.

7:30 AM. The outside thermometer on one of the local banks reads 55 degrees. Twas a scorcher to say the least. Now I felt overdressed in shorts and a tee. After the singing of our National Anthem I looked at the competition and knew I had my work cut out for me. There were a handful of youngsters that fit the part of having been current or post grads from the UWEC x-country team.

After 2 miles I had sweated out my shirt and was running in the 10th spot. The jack rabbits cruised along while I worked on picking off the over zealous starters. With a mile to go 4th place was 30 seconds in front. Crossing the finish I cut the margin to 20 seconds. My 28:34 was nearly a two minute PR on this course from two years ago. Finishing 5th I was the final runner to win a frozen turkey. All finishers received a 5" personal pumpkin pie. It was nearly 60 degrees. Thanksgiving was off to an incredible start.


Here's to a happy and healthy start to your Holiday season.

04 November 2012

Heart Center Half Marathon

On Halloween a friend asked me if I wanted to run one of the Heart Center of the Rockies races. The treats to choose from were a 5K, 10K, or half marathon. Originally I planned to do the 10K as a prep for the highly anticipated Eau Claire, WI Turkey Trot 5 miler that has become a Burch Family Classic. During registration a black cat crossed my path and meowed, "Half and Half." It was a sign...

I think it's been over three years since I've done a road race longer than 5K...not counting AR50 in that category. It was a random scratch to itch and I looked forward to pushing the pace for 13.1 It would be another great gauge on fitness and a chance to wear a roadie costume for the day.

My goal was to go sub 1:20. Lately I've done some highly specific training for this race; running really mellow up and down Horsetooth with friends and one speed workout on the track. I knew I had it in me! I figured I could also set a PR. The existing benchmark was a 1:20 split at the 2009 CO Marathon.

Race day came and I felt good. I wore compression socks to fit in with the crowd but knew my inner trail runner was sticking out like a sore thumb when I donned a hat, gloves, and a longsleeve. Compared to the rest of the front row I looked like an overdressed newbie as they stripped down to shorty shorts and singlets. I seemed to have forgotten how much heat I can produce when I run fast. I was out of my element.

The race started and I found myself in the 6 spot chitchatting on a beautiful morn with the guys next to me. It was fun to run hard for over 3.1 miles. I began thinking how good the half-marathon distance could be for ultra training. It doesn't beat you up like a road marathon. It is a great sustained high intensity cardio workout. And on the simple side you don't have to worry about eating or drinking during the race.

Through 6 miles I was at 37:xx. Through 10 I was at 1:01:xx. With 5K to go I could tell I was beginning to close the gap on a few of the runners in front of me. Shortly after mile 11 I found myself in the 5th spot looking ahead at Heather Utrata who was about 30 seconds up in 4th with 3rd place 10-15 seconds up on her. I put the remaining pedal down but knew I would run out of real estate for the two in front of me. I crossed the line in 1:19:19 achieving my goals for the day.

I had a ton of fun out there on Saturday! Running hard and throwing down some hotcakes postrace. Seven weeks removed from Basic and the exuberance for running continues to spill out my cup. An unnamed friend (living on Overhill Dr) enjoyed pointing out the fact that I got "chicked." I thoroughly did as only a true man can admit with pride and a smile. Running is fun.


16 October 2012

Basic Training: Part 1

Getting ready for the 2 mile, #207, right of the yellow stripes

July 2nd to September 14th. During this time I spent 10 weeks in Fort Benning, Georgia experiencing all that comes with Basic Combat Training (BCT). I did my research and had a pretty good idea of what I was in for. Little did I know of the perspective to be gained upon completion of this adventure. Choosing to join the National Guard was yet another decision in my life that I would have never seen myself doing at earlier junctures in my life. Then it happened. The same can be said for many of my interests throughout life: aggressive inline skating, powerlifting, ultrarunning, and now the military. They each share some type of physical challenge, very unique cultures, and have received looks of befuddlement when I tell people where my life is going.

I am now part of the 1 percent. But not the 1 percent that wears diamonds on their soles. Our First Sergeant said that 1 in 4 Americans have the ability to graduate Basic Training. Less than 1 percent of Americans choose to serve. I had always thought the military was much larger...the perspective begins to change.

2nd Platoon: "Death Dealers"

I was assigned to Delta Company 3/47 Infantry Regiment, 2nd Platoon, Roster Number 207. After a restless first week in Reception I was anxious to get the real training going. Reception is all of your inprocessing. You get your shots, haircut, uniforms, fill out paperwork, hurry up and wait, eat, and perform no physical activity.

The bus stopped. Just like the movies a Drill Sergeant stepped on board and began yelling at us to get off the bus. Welcome to Basic. Running through the sand with duffel bag on my back, backpack front loaded and laundry bag in my arms. They call it Shark Attack. Lots of yelling, lots of in your face, lots of intimidating to see who will start to breakdown.

The first night we were introduced to the Shower Drill. Take 50 dudes and line them up in a row with towels around their waists and shower shoes on their feet. Push them through the bathroom like cattle. Start the stopwatch. One minute to brush the teeth. One minute to shower. In less than 15 minutes our platoon had completed personal hygiene time.

Loving the applesauce in my MRE

The Food:
Being a vegetarian I wondered if I would have to give up this lifestyle choice during Basic. I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was not an issue at all. Out of the 20+ Meals Ready to Eat (MRE's) there were four vegetarian dishes. In the chow hall the meat eaters would get meat and potatoes while I would get potatoes and potatoes. I often supplemented protein with chocolate milk, cottage cheese, and the very hip peanut butter packets that had an eerie resemblance to a gel pack. I was beginning to feel at home. Random fact- I had scrambled eggs 70 days in a row. You eat what you're served.

Meal times were hilarious. Total awkwardness. It would have been awesome to be an outsider looking in on this phenomenon. We had to look down at our food at all times. No talking. No eye contact with others. Our only utensil was a small shovel. If my favorite Drill Sergeant was there we had to keep one hand on a glass at all times. All of this was done for a simple purpose. Eat and eat fast. A simple task of refueling. 10 minutes of no manners whatsoever. Shovel, chew, swallow, repeat. The cool thing is how your body adapts. At first it was hard to get everything down in our alloted time. Three weeks later and 10 minutes felt like a sit down meal. I now understand why a number of ultrarunners who have served are so good at eating challenges...

Gotta love the socks!

The Running:
My life lesson of 2012 has been that of letting go. Major changes occurred in my personal life that caused me to reflect and reevaluate who I am. It was time to let go of my wants, needs, and desires for a season. A season of losing myself with the hope of finding myself anew. Since my first ultra in 2006 running has gradually changed from a hobby to a lifestyle for me in 2012. It is a large part of my identity that is outwardly visible but doesn't define who I am. Basic was the time to let go of it for 10 weeks and see what I might learn from voluntarily putting a passion on the shelf.


In all I guesstimate that I ran about 80 miles during Basic. The moments I could run were pure joy. They were moments of freedom when I could break away from the structure, supervision, and homogenized bubble that surrounded me at all times. I would sneak in 20 laps around the track when other soldiers had remedial PT. These were my long runs.

While others trained for Hardrock, Speedgoat, Leadville, and Steamboat I trained for the 1 and 2 mile. It was a successful summer of "racing" for me. 4-O. At 32 I was the oldest and fastest out of the 200 Delta Co soldiers. The Drill Sergeants shook their heads. Who was this old man who didn't eat meat that was leading the pack against teenagers nearly half his age? It didn't make sense. In the 1 mile I ran my first sub 5 minute mile clocking a 4:59. Word spread to the Lieutenant Colonel that an old dude could run. A challenge was presented. I earned the 192nd Brigade Coin of Excellence. However, it would be taken away if anyone beat me during the three remaining PT Tests and presented to the new victor. I whittled away at my two mile time with each test: 10:53, 10:44, and a 10:37. I can now add a coin to my ziploc bag of finishers medals/awards that have their home in the "Running Box." It's easy to run consecutive PR's when you don't have a previous benchmark!

Coaching on the range

Apparently the military has had to reduce the running volume during Basic Training. More and more soldiers were getting injured. The government did some research and discovered that the Play Station Generation simply had weaker/less dense bones than their older and denser counterparts. They were seeing more stress fractures etc at Basic while Airborne School was seeing a lot more broken bones! Kids need to move more.

I missed regular running. I knew I missed it when I would get excited to run 40 minutes around a track in all the heat and humidity that comes with Georgia in the summertime. I would finish looking like I had just exited a swimming pool. Never have I sweated like I did in Georgia. Walking away from the track I wore a smile.

Upcoming: Basic Rifle Marksmanship, the Gas Chamber, Communication, Appreciation and more!

07 October 2012

Bluesky Marathon Homecoming!

Lots to get caught up on. 1st- I've been back in CO for the past three weeks. Got some great perspective at Basic Training. I have put some good thought into my experience and will be dedicating a post to my 10 week adventure at Fort Benning.

2nd- I ran the Bluesky Marathon today and won! I can't tell you how great it feels to be back home and running again. It totally has brought tears to my eyes on many occasions hitting the familiar stomping grounds after work. Trail running is woven into my DNA. After letting it go for 10 weeks it has been incredible to rekindle the simple act of running outside on dirt. So damn good. Bluesky was amazing. I so missed the crisp, brisk, and dry CO air. Feeling it chill my skin this morning refreshed my spirit. I simply ran. It didn't feel like a race. It was a homecoming. It turned out I was in better shape than I thought. At Basic I ran about 80 miles in 10 weeks. I had two long runs of 5 miles on the track. 12 miles was the longest distance I covered on foot. I gained 10 lbs of muscle. Returning home I had three weeks to work with. I got out and ran. The first few runs I felt like a tank. The footwork was slow and heavy on the trail. There was no speedwork or structure to my training. I picked a trail and ran. Almost everyday. Guided by two feet, a happy heart, and lungs full of contentment. It's the simple things. They are good. More to come.

01 July 2012

Georgia on my mind...

Well it's off to Georgia for Basic Training. I will miss a summer of mountain running but am excited to challenge myself in new ways. See you in September. Ryan

27 June 2012

Western States: Getting My Money's Worth

You know you're getting your money's worth at Western States when:

-The last 15 miles takes you 6:44! I had 7 hours to go 15 miles to earn a Silver Buckle...and I knew it was going to be tight!
-Other walkers start passing you going twice as fast! I was getting crushed!
-AD Thornley tells you to leave some food for the other runners at the Michigan Bluff Aid Station. They also need fuel!
-A high step involves lifting your foot 1 inch off the ground while your hip flexor barks at you.
-You start singing along to the AS music. Freebird!!! AS volunteers happily pull out lighters and phones as you do your best Skynyrd Serenade. "And this Burch you cannot change!"
-Your pacer starts hallucinating.
-You start asking AS cooks for one of those "dang k-suh-dill-ahs" in your best Napoleon Dynamite voice.
-You miss your time goal by 6 hours and Tim Olson beats you by 9 hours.
-Your family and friends get worried when you are hours behind schedule. Thinking you are injured, off course, having an allergic reaction...when the reality is you're just moving really really really slow.

Overall this was one of my more memorable finishes. From a performance standpoint it was a rough and tumble day. 10 miles into the race I felt the "ultra-ache" in my legs. This feeling first occurred for me at mile 25 during Leadville 2008. When I experience this I know it is going to be a long day. I knew I could fake it for 50 miles. Everyone was telling me, "You look great!" "Smooth and relaxed!" Inwardly I knew the wheels would slowly start to fall off.

I began to analyze why I might be feeling this. I had only raced three ultras in 2012, accumulating 112 race miles compared to 2011's 210 race miles leading into States. Then it dawned on me. WS was my 4th ultra in 7 weeks. On paper it looked like a piece of cake. Two 50K's and one 50M with a few weeks rest b/t races. I had been running well and winning some races. With this confidence I decided to run Golden Gate Dirty Thirty last minute and go for three wins in a row. The decision made total sense at the time...and it was only a 50K, I'd basically start my taper after the race. Racing is really fun when you're winning. I wanted to squeeze out my fitness gains one last time before States. I squeezed a little too much. In hindsight I lost vision of the big goal- competing well at WS. This decision impacted my day from Squaw Valley to Auburn.

Shortly after Robinson Flat (mile 30) the ultra-ache began to slow my roll. I had been leapfrogging with Riddle, Bitter, and Diboun for the first third of the race. We'd been running comfortably. Aerobically it felt like a jog but my legs were heavy and aching. Here's a look at the path of destruction I experienced.

Juxtaposition. Above the waist I felt like a champ! Below the waist I had been TKO'd with many miles to go. I was two people running. Mentally I felt like the strongest runner on the course. Physically I was Old Man Burch creaking down the trail. What I was most impressed with was my attitude. On a number of 100's I have turned into a hangry, rock kickin', f-bomb droppin', slow movin', monster. During the race I was slap-happy, Mr. Positivity, joke crackin', and enjoying myself despite my physical condition. I was hydrated, well fueled, and electrolyte balanced. If only I had some legs!

I love the part of the movie Into the Wild when McCandless is in the ocean with the waves. He says something to the effect of, "It's not about being strong, but feeling strong." Our minds are so powerful. I experienced that Saturday in a physical state that was less than stellar. There's something to that experience I'm still digesting, and it is deep. Concurrently I felt a pull to the finish that I've never felt so strong in any other race. At Foresthill I knew I would finish. I knew it would be tough. I knew it would get ugly. I knew I would get it done. I visualized myself going through the course and being led to the finish. I was led by the thousands of finishers who came before me at Western States. I was led by Gordy. I was led by Tim, Ann, and Scott. I was led by the strength of finishing. No matter how fast or how slow it is, you can't take a finish away.

Emotion. I'm standing at the crossroads right now. In a few days I head off to Georgia for Basic Training. Western States brought with it a lot of finality. My last race and finish for awhile. My last time to see a lot of friends. A lot of changes and things to think about as my life begins a new chapter.

My family and I road-tripped it to the race. Mom,dad,sister and me just like growing up. Great to have them share this experience with me. It was fitting to have them finish with me. As I hit the track Sean and I waited for the rest of the team to assemble. First I saw my sister running towards me. Then I saw my mom walking slowly to us. Last it was my dad coming from the other direction with a skip in his step and a smile on his face. As one team the five of us walked hand in hand the last 250 meters to the finish. Pretty special. Even better when Thornley placed the finishers medal around my neck. He had seen firsthand everything I went through the year before when I dropped at mile 70 with airway issues. He could see the significance and meaning of this finish.

Thanks. To the family. Sean- your pacing was a tremendous boost! Awesome having you share stories and slow miles with me. You deserve a medal!

John Tidd- Congrats,heck of a race! Didn't know I was famous...especially in Uruguay...thanks for saying hi. Likewise to Josh Katzman...the world is a small place with the Web...great job!

10 June 2012

A few pics from Memorial Day Weekend

Freezing on the Roof of Colorado. Mt. Elbert.

Gisler fired up! Mt. Oxford.

Gisler, Lee, Stefanovich.

CO splendor in May!

After running the past two days in 90+ degree temps higher terrain is a refreshing sight! I've been taking advantage of the high temps to heat acclimatize for States. Friday was a good vert session at HTMP. Saturday I entered the Republic with Doug for a great run/climb loop starting at NCAR. Up the 2nd, Green Mtn. summit, and a descent in which I found my 100 mile stride. Here's to the taper!

03 June 2012

Dirty Thirty: Bringing Balance to the Force


After driving home from the race yesterday two titles came to mind for my run. The other being, "The Beauty of Karma and One Wrong Turn." The second one foreshadows my race better while the stated title brings everything full circle. As a Libra balance is an important aspect of my life. Yesterdays race brought the scales to a closer equilibrium.

Our story begins at the 2008 Run Through Time Marathon in Salida. It was an especially snowy year that left sections of the "trail" buried by 18 inches of snow. Jedi's Parr, Callahan, and TGNMP led the charge through 17 miles. The trio missed a critical turn while young Skywalker made the turn and broke trail through the crusty snow. I left a blood path from my lower limbs that guided the following runners to a safe finish with no added mileage. It was a unique set of events that led to my first career win.

Our story fast forwards to 2010 Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50M. Mexifast and I leapfrogged each other all day long throughout the course. We were within 1 minute of each other at all times. Then a shift occurred. Imperceptible to those unaccustomed with the Force. Vader's mind powers temporarily clouded Obi Wan's vision leading him past the finish turn and into the parking lot. Young Skywalker yelled frantically as he watched in horror as the Jedi Master's Runner was being pulled farther from the finish by the Dark Side. Skywalker had a decision to make. Looking back he's unsure if it was the right one. Young he was and took the victory he did while Obi Wan cleared his mind and made it safely back home a minute later. The plot begins to thicken as the scales begin to tip.

Lightspeed ahead to yesterday, 2012. Young Skywalker starts the race and notices the huge pace difference between a 50K and a 50M. The first few miles he sits in the 7th spot as the leaders have thoughts of a Benjamin dance through their heads. By the time he hit the first AS at mile 5 he had worked into the 2nd spot with Ricks a $100 dollars happier 20 seconds ahead. Skywalker closed the gap and assumed the lead around mile 7. From here he began to build his lead ascending the rock strewn trail and descending at a good clip. Then another shift occurred.

Skywalker came to an unmarked trail junction. He knew the 3rd AS had to be close. The Garmin Light Saber read 16.5 miles. Aid was at 16.8. The next chain of events speak a lot about how to live life. Sometimes we misinterpret their meanings when the answer is in front of us. Skywalker studied his options. The Emperor whispered through the trees, "Go the Right way, do the Right thing." Skywalker accepted the first voice he heard instead of truly listening to the Force. Right he went. Downhill. Out onto a paved road. Next to a bridge. "This ain't it," he so elegantly remarked. Two hikers were coming up the road. "Maybe these two hikers who have no idea that a trail race is going on will know how to direct me back on course." He desperately asked the question he already knew the answer to. The hikers responded, "Not sure where the race goes but the Visitors Center is a mile behind us."

Skywalker thanked them and retraced his steps uphill to the trail junction as Ricks sped by. His 5 minute lead was vaporized just like that. As he got back on course Obi Wan appeared and reiminded him to contemplate the following: Take the High Road. When in Doubt Go Higher. The Hardest Thing and the Right Thing are the Same. Skywalker centered on knowing the correct definition of Right. Lesson well learned. He kicked himself for taking the Easy Way Out and going down the Path of Least Resistance. The answer was in front of him all along.

Now back on course he had to let go of the deflating thoughts that tried to imprison his race. On the other side of the equation he knew Ricks had been given a huge boost to regain the lead by simply Staying the Course. Skywalker fought hard and kept his head in the game as the duel intensified. Ricks had opened up a 30-40 second lead by mile 20. Coming into AS 4 at mile 23 Skywalker had slimmed it to 10 seconds. Game on! Towards the base of the final climb up Windy Peak Skywalker had bridged the gap. Unexpectedly Ricks pulled off the trail, motioning and telling Skywalker, "Go ahead, I hate this last climb." Skywalker knew what he had to do. Put in a strong climb, tag Windy and bomb down to the finish.

The heat increased. Skywalker was sweating. His legs were feeling the drain of already ascending 7000 feet in the last 4 hours. The final grind to the top was steady, not spectacular. After the summit Skywalker started downhill with a 20 second lead. The pins were a bit crampy. Ricks looked like he was done. Skywalker kept the cramps at bay through the techy initial descent off the peak and found himself cruising down the buffed out singletrack shortly thereafter.

Footsteps. The long drawn out foot falls of someone on a mission began to reverberate in Skywalker's ears. "Crap!" Skywalker glamourously muttered. He began to recall the events of the day. How hard he had worked to get back in the race. And now it was slipping through his hands. Ricks was getting closer and closer. Skywalker accelerated. Ricks was breathing down his neck. Skywalker accelerated. Then a shift occurred.

Ricks hit Lightspeed and blew by Skywalker like he was the Millenium Falcon down for repairs at mile 28. The final AS came and went. Less than 3 miles to go! Despite Skywalker's downhill strength the crevasse widened. Soon it was swallowing buses. Then houses. And finally Skywalker's hope of making it three in a row. Dust in the Wind.

Yoda, Obi Wan, and the other Jedi runners who have lost a race while going off course accompanied Skywalker those last few miles. "It's part of trailrunning," they instructed. Skywalker sat with this simple yet profound statement. "Yes it is," he agreed, "The trail presents us with many turns. Our attitude towards the trail defines our journey along it. And running the trail is just more fun!" Yesterday, 2012 balance was brought back to the Force. Full balance shall resume during Skywalker's 2014 race season. It is an even year.

Extras: This was one of my favorite 50K's. Beautiful course, a variety of terrain, lots of inspiring CO singletrack. The post race was awesome! I made sure to plan ahead for this one and brought the camp chair and my huge bowl and spork. Why? 'Cause they were sauteeing Noodles on sight and I mos def had to get my grub on! RD Megan Finnesy and her troop of volunteers did an incredible job of orchestrating a great race and a stellar post race which is the icing on the cake for an event. Thanks to all who volunteered and made the race a great experience. And to the disgruntled hiker who was removing markings near AS 3...I shake my fist at you!

Congrats to Justin Ricks! A hard fought battle he won. It was really impressive watching him close out the race. His 2:22 marathon PR was evident in the leg speed he exhibited those last few miles. In three miles he put a minute on me. I was crawling at 5:55 pace compared to his 5:35s. Awesome.

20 days until Western States.

20 May 2012

The Pain Cave

This weekend at National Guard training I took a journey into the pain cave. Pain is part of the human experience. We will all deal with it during our journeys. Sometimes it is physical, sometimes it is emotional. Pain can result from forces beyond our control and most often it is a direct result from the choices we make on a daily basis. In our culture of comfort and convenience pain is often overlooked and something to avoid at all costs. Why is it we learn more from our pain/failures/defeats than our successes? I think the answer is found when we choose to rise above and overcome our situation. It is empowering to face the antagonist face to face and pass the test with additional wisdom and strength.

I am interested in what I can learn from my pain. How can I embrace the suffering? What lessons are learned from adversity? When will I get through it? These questions assist me in understanding what I am experiencing. Often these same questions are asked during an ultra. The reward comes when I finish and gain perspective on the battle I endured.

So after the existential intro and philosophical wax, let me get real. Pain can really suck and yesterday I drank from the fire hose. My opponent: Oleoresin Capsicum AKA OC Spray. Here's a similar video of what I went through (the meltdown increases intensity at 3:30).

As an even keel gent I don't get too high or too low from my experiences. I wasn't nervous or anxious watching my fellow comrades get sprayed and seeing their response to the stressor. Knowing my physiology I knew I'd be in for a treat. If you've ever seen me eat Mexican food you can confirm the steady flow of sweat beads that run down my brow with even the most moderate amount of spice. Now take a look at where OC stands on the Scoville Scale. The odds were stacked against me...heavily. So I channeled my inner Rocky and called out the Heat.

I toed the line and got sprayed. It's not a confidence booster when the first thing you hear from the crowd is, "Ohh, he got a lot, direct hit!" It was obvious to see when others hit the wall. The OC would enter the eyes and BOOM! the fireworks would start. Mine began almost immediately when I opened my eyes. Some likened the feeling to pouring the hottest hot sauce in your eyes. Others to the pleasant feeling of hot lava gently boiling on your eyeballs.

My task was to get sprayed and then work through the 5 challenge stations with a full on OC exposure within 90 seconds. The OC hits the skin and eyes with an inflammatory response. Redness, swelling, pain, heat, and loss of function are the cardinal signs. I was blinded from the beginning. Sprayees are instructed to speedily strobe their eyes open and shut to activate the tear ducts and clear the OC. All I wanted to do was clamp my eyes shut as tight as I could. When I would attempt to open them it hurt worse. My eyes became super sensitive to the sunlight and as they swelled inside the sockets it was excruciating to flutter the eyelids even for a millisecond. Sprayees are instructed to avoid touching the face with the hands. All I wanted to do was rake my face. This would lead to cross contamination and additional soothing side effects.

Further discussion described the sensation as burning sand grinding in your eyes or the calming thought of placing poisoned tip needles in your pin cushion like eyes. I staggered to the first station where I started unleashing knee drives to the opponents padded midsection. Then I was handed a baton and instructed to protect my head in a defensive posture as I lurched along to the second station. Here I alternated baton jabs to attackers in front and behind me. Stumbling to station 3 I used the baton to block pugil stick swings. Inconsistently swaying into station 4 I had to drop my padded Sargeant with an arm bar takedown. The final 5th test was to identify a Sharpie's color by its colored cap.

The marathon was complete and the ultra was just beginning. Now began the decontamination period. Wash the face with soapy water. Rinse. Flush with clean water. Repeat. Repeat. Rpeat. Stand in front of fan to dry out the eyes and remaining OC. Try to regain full onobstructed vision...the next 12 hours. I forgot to mention that when I was sprayed gravity did its inevitable job. The OC trickled down my cheeks and entered my mouth. Now my lips burned and I started coughing fire. A few times I almost puked. Other decon tips included taking an "L shaped shower" so any residual OC would not go down on your unmentionables (insert colorful stories involving both genders here). During my shower I reactivated the residual OC on my face. Now my face and ears burned. Hurts so good! Spray protocol advises the user to saturate target from ear to ear across the browline. Checkmate!

So I overcame adversity. I ventured deep into the pain cave. And what was my grandiose epiphany? Goggles are GRRRREEAT! With that said I earned my OC Certification and never have to repeat that again in my military career. I wish I had video/pictures of my experience; they're out there somewhere. Give me a shout if you find them. Stellar.

16 May 2012

The Quads Rocked!

Photo: Erin Bibeau

The day started early. 3:30 AM to be exact. Stefanovic rolled in shortly before 4 and minutes later we were headed to the start serenaded by The Bear. I slept great and was wide awake despite the o'dark thirty morning. After pinning the bib I did my typical wavering on race wear. Since Mother's Day was soon to be I thought of my mom and added gloves and arm warmers. Thanks mom!

Hanson feeling right at home! Photo: Eric Lee

Toeing the line is always a good time. You get a few minutes to say hi to the existing friends and meet a few new ones. I was really glad that Riddle and Rydman and any runner new to these trails could make the trip. I love running in Lory and Horsetooth and sharing these trails with others who are experiencing them for the first time.
Rydman. Photo: Eric Lee
Riddle. Photo: Eric Lee

The race started and we were off. I soon settled in with Crandall, B. Goding, and Malmberg. Half way up the first climb as we gained the Stout Trail, D. Goding and Riddle joined the party. No one would have guessed but Dan Goding has been battling injury and had only run once in the past two weeks leading up to the race. He won the 25 miler! Anyhow, up Towers we climbed and down Spring Creek we descended.

Arriving at the Horsetooth AS DBO provided live Transvulcania updates. How cool is that! I'm running through the AS, filling my bottle, and learning that DJ Money just shocked the world! I wonder if B. Powell was giving him and Kilian QR50 updates? Most likely I'm sure!

Koop. Photo: Eric Lee

Then it was up Horsetooth and across Westridge. I caught up to a younger guy who was running the fastest I've ever seen anybody run in Five Fingers on technical trail. Soon it was down Mill Creek and I caught up to the Wise Sage and Fan Favorite. Fast forward a bit and I finished my first lap in 3:36. Marks and Funk resupplied me and it was time for Round 2!

Jaime, Malmberg following. Photo: Eric Lee

Back up Timber I was running well. I had a 10 minute lead starting the second lap. It was great seeing so many familiar encouraging faces as I ran against the traffic. Descending Howard was its usual fun and soon I was at Arthurs Aid with a sense of dread beginning to set in. I had already begun to think about the climb up Mill Creek. This was one of the game changing points on the course and I knew I was in for a grunt.

Coming into Arthurs Aid. Photo: Eric Lee

The Mill climb started out o.k. Then I began to encounter the low point of my race. First I began steadily slowing down as I ran. Then I shuffled. Followed by power hiking. Trumped by hiking. And finishing with a peppy walk. My legs were powerless. I was dizzy and thought I might faint at times. Such an awesome place to be when you're half way up the climb! I kept moving at my scorching clip and eventually made it to the Towers Aid. I must have looked terrible because no one said a word as I stumbled in. This climb alone cut my lead in half.

Stewart. Photo: Eric Lee

Two cokes later I began the Westridge traverse. The legs were getting a bit crampy on the climbs. After muscling through the roundabout traverse I was pointed downhill on the HTR Trail. Once I hit Southridge I was cranking. Miles later and a quick stop at the Horsetooth Aid, DBo informed me I had a 7 minute lead. It was time to keep truckin and finish it out. As I descended the single track to the base of Spring Creek I could see Rebenack charging down Southridge. The lead had to be only 5 minutes.

Spring Creek was my redemption climb. I rebounded after my Mill Creek melee and ran 90% of this one. Soon enough I was at the top downing two cokes before the downhill bomb on Towers Road. This was by far the fastest I have ever descended Towers. The moisture gave the road added tack for extra control and traction. Gone was the usual dust and loose top layer. The Stout traverse came and went followed by the technical Sawmill drop. Now I was in the valley. No more trees to hide in and fully exposed to the hungry hawk eyes of Rebenack and Co. My goal at this point was to crest the ridge at Arthurs Aid without being seen.

Once I made the crest BG gave me the thumbs up and verbal confirmation, "No one is in sight, don't worry about a thing." From here it was 2 miles and change to the Finish. I put it in cruise control and enjoyed my valley tour home.

Rebenack finish. On my tail all day! Photo: Eric Lee

Looking at the fog all day made me think about Gorillas in the Mist. Jane Goodall enjoyed her first ultra. I was supremely relieved that I won. Anything less than 1st would have seen TNCRD lose his house. Dana and the kids would have been pissed. Felt like I made the world a better place with this run.

Joking aside it was a flawlessly organized race. Awesome job by Pete and Nick. They directed an inaugural race that was planned out like it had been going on for years. A huge thanks to their army of volunteers and everyone at FCTR for their cheers, support, and all around positivity.

Streaks! Still alive is my undefeated record in ultras in the backyard! Still alive is winning ultras in the Bajadas! And 2012 marks the 5th consecutive year with a 50 mile win! It's always fun to include the most random streaks/FKT's you can think of to inspire and propel your training to the next level. What are your current streaks?

13 May 2012

Quad Rock Results

A fun day on the hometown trails! Results here.

More to come in the next few days!

06 May 2012

Welcome to the Quad Rock...

In your best Sean Connery impression say out loud to yourself, "Welcome to the Quad Rock." Makes you smile doesn't it? Make sure you emphasize your pronunciation of ROCK. The chatter and the temps have been heating up in preparation for next weekends inaugural running. This will be the second ultra to call Fort Collins home alongside the one and only year of the Bluesky 50K. With that said I am looking forward to putting my "undefeated record in ultra races occurring in my hometown" on the line. It is equally impressive as my: Walk to Avo's, eat two tempeh burgers, talk smack with the boys, walk back home, FKT of 2:32:45. And there will be the X-Factor to contend with at QR. More on that later.

Here's a look at the boys in the 50 miler:

MIA- Mike Foote, Jason Schlarb

1. David Riddle- 2011 JFK 50 champ and CR of 5:40! Hands down the speedster and naturally gifted runner of the group. His strength is his speed. Most of his results are 50K's with a few 50M and 100K finishes. He wins nearly everything he has raced. The unknowns: his performance at "altitude" and racing a tough 50M with lots of up and downs.

2. Jacob Rydman- He's having a great 2012 with 2 bronze medals at the Cali Spring Classics of WTC and AR. QR will be the toughest 50 he's raced. Running on all cylinders he'll be one to watch.

3. Paul Terranova- he races a lot of 50K's with a few 50 mile/100K finishes. At Bandera he was right behind Clark this year. He could surprise a lot of runners.

4. Jason Koop- More long haul experience (races 50M and above)than the top three runners combined. He's running strong this year- 2nd at RTTM, 2nd at CM50K, and QR will be his 3rd ultra in 4 weeks. Jason and I battled it out last weekend, won't surprise me a a bit if we're side by side with only a few miles to go.

5. Corey Hanson- Bellvue's Best. He knows these trails better than anyone. His house is a 1/2 mile from the start/ finish. He's got the freshest legs of the bunch with QR being his first race of 2012. Reports from BG indicate that he's running strong. His high muscle glycogen stores are a result of years of GHB fueling.

6. Ryan Burch- (let's see if I can pull off this writing in the 3rd person awkwardness). He's put in consistent training this year with weekly track workouts, solid long runs, a 5K PR, and consecutive sub 30 minute PR's on The Hill. He's only raced one ultra in 2012 with a solid run at CM50K. Next to Corey he has the blueprint memorized for these trails. His best distance is 50 miles. The unknowns: is he fully recovered from CM50K to put forth an A effort? How will he handle the hometown pressure to put a W on the board?

7. The X-Factor. This contender can take out anyone racing next weekend in the blink of an eye. Going unnoticed in nearly every race this deadly force can strike at a moments notice. Look out for the Quad Rock Rattler! My Friday and Saturday runs saw my left foot come within 10 inches of two different rattlesnakes. Friday I was off the race course on the Foothills trail when I ran by a disguised rattler next to a yucca plant who started his battle rattle as I passed him. Way too close! Saturdays encounter was even more alarming. I was ascending the summit rock of Arthur's. 10 feet from the summit coiled up in a small depression on the rock I passed a small two footer who was eerily quiet in the shade. I "woke it up" to distance the snake from the most popular hiking destination in Lory and alerted the ascending groups of hikers on my way down. Needless to say...good luck and watch your step next weekend!

29 April 2012

Cheyenne Mountain 50K

Photo- The Gazette, Jerilee Bennett. Post race interview. It was a fun day of racing at the second annual CM50K. I had originally planned to race Zane Grey but had to change the schedule because of National Guard commitments. I had run each distance at CP the last two years so I decided to change it up and find a new race in Colorado to get a measure of my spring fitness level. The morning started out cold. 40 degrees with 20 mph winds. It really bites the skin when you're in shorts and a singlet. I knew I would warm once I began running but the time leading up to the start was filled with shivering and goosebumps. 7:50 AM, still sitting in the car with the heat on. 7:51-7:56, standing inside indoor bathroom. 7:57-START, acting like I wasn't shivering while talking with Koop. By far the best pre-race warmup I've ever had! The race began and I was feeling sluggish. It took a few reminders to tell myself I was racing and not on a training run. Koop and I weaved through the opening miles of undulations and hair pin turns on the trails of Cheyenne Mountain; Colorado's newest State Park. I led the race the first 14 miles with Koop always within 5-20 seconds. He took the lead as we wound down the low grade trail with the finish line in sight to complete our first lap. Jason had a few seconds on me as we clocked the first lap in 1:57. The opening undulations came at us for round two and I was content running a few strides behind him. Jason's stride looked effortless. It's a bit deceiving; he's moving so smooth it doesn't appear like he's going fast..and that's the artistry. Did I mention he ran Zane Grey last weekend- 50 miles of gnarly mountain trails?
Photo- pikespeaksports.us, Tim Bergsten. Spot on AS support- Brandon Fuller. At the 20 mile AS I passed him while he took in some fluids. At this point I tried to create a decent gap and get out of sight on the wooded trails. At mile 23 I couldn't see him when I looked back and thought I was leading by a minute. The next few miles he would get closer and closer as I looked back. I was running consistent and it appeared like he was going faster and faster. At the top of a climb nearing mile 26 he was 5 seconds back. I started envisioning us throwing death moves on each other during the final 5 miles of primarily descending terrain. I foreshadowed the finish being an all out sprint and then puking upon completion. The pain cave looked me right in the eye.
Photo- The Gazette, Jerilee Bennett. Coach Stefanovic expected a win so I knew I had to gut it out. Get on with it! I pushed the descents and put in a solid 5 miles thinking he was just behind the bend when I would look back. Thankfully I created enough of a gap to cancel my foreshadowed ending and crossed the line in 3:57:35 and a second lap split of 2:00. Koop finished 1 minute and change behind me. Overall I had a fun time at this event. The course was flawlessly marked and you can't go wrong with a hot catered meal and post race massage/ART awaiting your finish. This race would be a great choice for anyone considering their first ultra. Great markings, aid every 4-5 miles, a two loop course to gauge pacing, and a good post race area to relive your success! Brandon Fuller's report. In other news...a huge shout out to Dylan Bowman for droppin' the hammer at Leona! Welcome to the Big Dance my friend!
Photo- pikespeaksports.us, Tim Bergsten.
Photo- pikespeaksports.us, Tim Bergsten.

07 April 2012

Totally Epic Proportions

I really tried to psych myself up to run the "Round Up" this year. After a lengthy match of mental tennis going back and forth with the pros and cons of this run I'm glad I chose the alternative today. The "Round Up" is only for the hard core runner who enjoys self-flagellation. El Jefe Mejor refers to it as his annual session of "mental callousing." The numbers speak for themselves: 30 miles, 10,000 ft. vertical gain. Here's the kicker- that 30 miles is run on only 4.5 miles of trail! It is literally vertical suicides to each mile marker and back to the bottom as you incrementally ascend Round. Absolute madness I tell you! I myself overdosed on the "mental callousing" running suicides on the b-ball court from 4th-7th grades. The other kicker- (I shouldn't have even asked this question...but I was curious) RB: What time are y'all starting? NC: 5:30 AM. RB: Leaving your house at 5:30? (Another question I just had to ask) NC: No, running from the TH at 5:30. So I did the math. This meant leaving the warm and friendly confines of my residence at approximately 4:35 AM. In the battle of Sleep vs. Round, Sleep handily won.

The alternative. I then had to figure out my long run for the weekend. With Quad Rock quickly approaching I figured I should get a few more laps on the course before the Big Day. Last November Clark and I ran a loop of the course from his door with the addition of both Rock summits. 27 miles, 4:22, 9:45/mile. Today I ran a lap from the door of Bellvue's Best also with the addition of both Rock Summits. 27.6 miles, 4:38, 10:05/mile. Less than 1 mile of repeated terrain, shorter drive time, "mental refreshment",a Goding sighting, and a 10:45AM start time...PRICELESS!

Clark and I were discussing what a superhuman effort on the 50M course would be. It got as low as 7:15. As I look at my times above that were run at steady conversational efforts I'm thinking that only a handful of runners will break 8 hours. 7:30 breaks down into two 3:45 laps...and there will be carnage on the second lap especially if its hot so there will be no negative splitting on this one. If I compare apples to oranges on other two loop 50M courses I've run, the closest lap splits I've had were still 21 minutes apart. That came at CP last year - my best time at Fruita came with at least 40 minutes difference between lap times. To break 7:30 at Quad Rock I'm predicting that the first lap will need to be at least a 3:30 to come back in 4:00. And Quad Rock has significantly more climbing than CP and Fruita. The more I think about it sub 8 sounds more realistic. Nick's CR at Jemez of 8:07 is run on a course with approx. 1000 ft more climbing and at higher altitude. I'm curious to see what time will set the inaugural bar...and pray for sub 80 degree temps on race day!

18 March 2012

March Madness

Early miles. Tiernan (in white shirt) looking directly at Horsetooth Rock.

Stevenson, Tiernan, Pedatella. Horsetooth Rock summit.

Pedatella, Clark, Tiernan, Burch. Horsetooth Rock summit.

Group. Arthur's Rock summit.

Tiernan, Pedatella, Stevenson, Kosick. Arthur's Rock summit.

Arthur's Rock view. Horsetooth Reservoir below.

Group. Arthur's Rock summit.

The finish line. 5 men. 37 miles later.

Wow! I am a happy man with the time change and the BEAUTIFUL weather that has sun kissed the Front Range. It has been a huge gift having the extra hour of light and the warmth to run in shorts and a shirt. Ladies and gentlemen Spring Fever has arrived! I've also noticed that people in general have been more apt to smile, say hello, and overall are friendlier on the trails and in town.

The above changes have prompted me to make a few changes of my own and ponder a few others. 1. The 70 degree days have put a solid dent in the snowpack which made for treachery free running on Round Mtn this past Friday. The extra sun after a day at work is calling me to run some of the local peaks that are a little further to get to...and being able to finish without a headlamp...priceless. 2. With the extra warmth I've pondered running shirtless on multiple occasions. However, with the complexion of a surrender flag I have done just that. 3. For those that know me and my complexion well I am proud to say that I have already applied sunscreen twice this past week and doing so crushed my numbers from last year. 4. I'm learning more from nature and applying some of these principles to my life. Snakes shed their skins. Other mammals shed their fur. With the changing of the seasons coming quickly I got out the clippers and took off my winter coat. This is crucial for the heat that will come at States and the hours it could save. 5. It's just great to be outside when it's nice. Dinners on the porch. Riding the bike. Walking the town. Driving with the windows down and the volume turned up. The smell of BBQ's. Awesomeness.

So yesterday I had an awesome run at Lory. One of those runs where you could run effortlessly all day. I felt content doing one of the activities I love in a familiar place that has cultivated that passion. The run was 16 miles. 16 miles for the soul and 16 miles knowing that I would be running at least 35 the next morning.

Usher in Sunday morning and the FCTR version of March Madness. The run circumnavigates Horsetooth Reservoir primarily on dirt. Runners choose either the 23 or the 35 mile option that adds mileage summiting Horsetooth Rock and Arthur's Rock. Pick your start time and enjoy a great group long run for the day followed by a BBQ hosted at Alex May's house (and a huge THANK YOU to Alex and fam for their hospitality).

Around 7:45 I embarked for the day's journey with Clark, Tiernan, Pedatella, and Kosick. It amazes me time after time how much easier and enjoyable it is to run long distances with a group. The collective energy makes the miles and minutes tick by so much faster. All of a sudden we were back at Alex's house! Stats: 37.1 miles with a Westridge bonus. 5:52 run time, 9:30/mile, 7000+ vertical gain, 700 calories, 2 summits, 1 big reservoir run around.

On another note...my first two weekend trainings with the Guard have been great! It has been positive to get out of my comfort zone and experience military culture firsthand. It's refreshing having a time in my life to enter a new world and all the new experiences that come with it. I'm really looking forward to challenging myself in new ways and experiencing so many things that can only be experienced if you choose to serve. Last weekend I got to battle with pugil sticks. I played dodgeball for extra PT. I have needed a job where I can use my mind and my body. The Guard helps tremendously with that need. How many employers want their employees to be fit and actively help them do that? It's encouraging having an employer that expects me to sweat and stay in shape. So far I've been able to do 49 pushups and 41 situps in a minute. I'm also working on improving my mile PR with no warm-up which currently stands at 5:20. New challenges. Good stuff.

11 February 2012

Didn't want to go trudging...

so I ran on the man made surface today. After being spoiled with so much dirt and mild temps this winter I think it made me a bit soft. Now that the snow and "normal" temps have returned I haven't been as inspired to be the "trudging through knee deep mountain hardman." Wait, I'll take that back just a smidgeon. I had a blast this past Thursday on Towers in absurdly slow and choppy conditions.

But this morning I didn't want to wallow in the pow. During my time shoveling the light and fluffy this morn, I brainstormed the HARDEST paved loop route from my front door. Ironically as HARD as this paved route was it had 75% less vert than my average long run in Lory/Horsetooth.

So I retired the shovel for the day and laced 'em up. From my place on the north side of CSU's campus I made my way to Lee Martinez Park where I gained the Poudre Trail and headed west. (I love the fact that no matter how much it snows the bike paths are meticulously plowed before any of the motorized streets.) My shoes grabbed the cement just like Jeremy Lin has grabbed the heart and hope of every Knicks fan. My quads began to quiver with the imperceptible change of grade. I was running uphill, barely.

Soon enough I popped out onto Overland and connected to the Behemoth known as Bingham Hill! I was soon faced with the inevitable question. Do I tuck tail and turn around or do I run out into the abyss of Bellvue and the Fort Collins countryside? Minutes later I found myself hurtling down the other side of the Behemoth! It was the point of no return.

As the adrenaline subsided I made a hard left onto Centennial Dr. I had heard legends about a Dam Hill that had pulverized the fittest men and women. Now at the base I tilted my head all the way back with mouth agape in horror. Could it be climbed? In winter? The conditions were horrible. Hard packed ice and snow. I could see the tracks which led to the wreckage of at least 17 automobiles. And all I had to guide me was a thin layer of foam and rubber underfoot.

I summoned the courage from my third Shot Blok and dug in. Minutes later I was at the top! Holy cow, what a relief! My footwork was spot on and kept me from submerging into the dark depths of Horsetooth Reservoir. I ambled along the rollercoaster road. Soon I saw all the trails I could have been trudging in. But not today, I was on a mission running the HARDEST paved loop from my front door.

In the clouds on Centennial Dr I looked down and barely noticed the coliseum of Hughes Stadium. Minutes later I had another choice. Do I descend to the level of mere mortals or do I climb to the heights of the Bouldering Gods above who inhabit the Piano Rocks, Torture Chamber, and Duncan's Ridge? It must have been a sign.

In the swirling clouds above I saw the silhouette of a lone runner ascending. A right turn it was! Another gnarly climb looked down on me condescendingly. I gritted my teeth and waged epic battle once more. Minutes later I was at the top! It was all downhill from here. I had slayed the dragon!

I saw the lone runner again. This time he was running at me. Up the hill he had just descended. Madness! Who in their right mind would have the bravery to rouse the giant again. As our eyes met I knew the Knight who was up for this challenge. He also chose the surface less taken today. It was Pete the Punisher! With his experience I knew he had the resolve to overcome a challenge of this magnitude. After a Braveheartesque inspired speech I wished him luck on his journey.

I was sent screaming down to the intersection of 38E where I Tokyo Drifted making an insane left turn! From here it was cruise control. I made another left onto the new bike path connector off 38E that will see you through to the Spring Creek Trail. Once on Spring Creek I wound around Rolland Moore and dipped under Shields. Then I gained the Walsenburg connector that spit me out in the neighborhoods south of campus.

The homestretch. I mustered up my last milligram of strength and wobbled through the heart of campus with onlookers gawking as I bobbed and weaved. Soon I saw the construction cranes above me with Laurel St. appearing more and more majestic.

I did it! After the cars passed I crossed Laurel victorious! I just completed the HARDEST paved loop from my front door! I soaked up the moment and highfived all the cheerleaders during my cool down walk. I sat on my front porch a man content. After untying my shoes I knew the run was over. But it shall now go down in history. These words shall give it life for generations to come.

Addendum for the Running Nerds:

Time: 2:44:03.6
Miles: 21.1275
Pace per mile: 7:46.2
Calories: 200.000001
Water: 0.0000000001 (ml)
* I got one snowflake on my tongue which impacted my calorie and water intake for the day*

05 February 2012

Superbowl Sprint

I got out today for my 3rd running at the Greeley Superbowl 5K. This is a local classic for a number of reasons: 1. The race starts and finishes at Bells Running, the hub of the Greeley running community. 2. The race benefits my alma-mater, Greeley Central High School and its XC Team. 3. Age group winners receive pies or a dozen cookies which can be brought to the Superbowl party you are attending in the afternoon. 4. A stroll down memory lane- The course winds through the neighborhoods and houses I used to tee-pee late at night as a boy. 5. The ageless wonder Doug Bell. At 61 he beats most men half his age. Case in point- turn back the clock 3 years ago to this race. I ran 17:23. Doug ran 17:10. Enough said. Always good to spend some time and catch up with the legend.

Coming into this years race I was thinking I'd finish with a PR. My once a week track workouts with Stefanovic and the occasional Ruehle have kept me honest. The extrinsic motivation of two tempeh burgers awaiting me after these circle sessions sealed the deal! My first two runnings at the GSB 5K were consistent. At my first 5K ever in 2009 I ran 17:23. Two years older I came back and ran a slightly slower 17:26. This year I got it done and escaped the 17:20's by running a 17:17. A new 5K PR at 32 years young! That sub 17 minute goal is still in my mind. I would definitely need to get some specificity to hit that...the love of the trails seems to kick that goal to the curb a bit.

The race was very spread out. Each of the top three finishers ran in no man's land all day; nobody close to push or pull you along. The winner was a Windsor HS runner in 16:40. I earned the silver and Doug picked up the bronze in 18:23. Four peanut butter cookies later I was at my parents house. Now it's time to watch the Olympics of Advertising...along with some football.

29 January 2012


C- Contemplate life. Concentrate on the present.
H- Happiness. Humility.
A- Answers. Adjustment. Alertness.
N- New life.
G- Gratitude. Grace.
E- Energy.

2012 is the year of change for me. Currently I am going through some significant changes in my life. The joy of running has given me ample time and thought to digest my situation and gain some clarity.

Life had become mundane. On its most basic level: eat, sleep, work, run, be with people. I needed more. I needed to get out of my comfort zone and routine. I needed to learn and try new things. I needed to lose myself in order to find more.

Two weeks ago I joined the National Guard. A choice that will guide me for the next eight years. Many friends and family have asked, "Why?" In no specific order I answer: to serve my country/community, to be part of a team, to experience a different culture, to learn a new trade, to honor my grandparents and other relatives that have served, to find new purpose, to earn extra income, and to improve the number of push-ups I can do.

In July I ship out to basic training for 10 weeks. Originally I had planned on running Salida and Zane Grey before Western States. With the change came another change; my race schedule. With various weekend trainings before BT I am looking at Cheyenne Mtn 50K and Quad Rock 50M. States will be a race to celebrate; marking the transition into a new phase of life. After boot camp and once I get some miles under my belt I want to jump into 1-2 more races before years end.

I have been grateful for the support from family, friends, and the folks at Montrail and Mountain Hardwear during this time of shaking things up! With all the change running has been great to process and stabilize each day. When the voice of change began to whisper, three things I learned: Answer it. Let go. Move forward.

01 January 2012

2011 Review, Genesis 2012

Welcome to 2012. A New Year, a new beginning. Here's what my last year of running consisted of:

Miles: 3386.5 Per week: 65.1 Per day: 9.27 Per run: 11.1
Time: 525:40 Per day: 1.4 Per run: 1.7
304 days of running, 61 days off

Jan: 411.3 mi, 0 days off. Feb: 319.4 mi, 0 days off. Mar: 337.1 mi, 3 days off. Q1: 1067.8 mi, 3 days off
Notes: Ran half of my races for 2011 in the first 3 months of the year- 4 5K's, 1 4M, 1 10K, 1 50K+
Motivation for running was at an all time high. I started running with the Montrail Team. I was unemployed at the time which led to running during the best times of the day on my favorite trails for however long I wanted to go. As cool as it sounds it is not sustainable and was a stressful time during the job search. Running was an outlet and stress relief. I must have been REALLY stressed in January; I raced 4 times and ran the most miles I ever have in a month. Megan and I moved back to Fort Collins from Gunnison to add to the many changes kicking off 2011.

Apr: 347.6 mi, 2 days off. May: 327.2 mi, 4 days off. Jun: 239.2 mi, 7 days off. Q2: 914 mi, 13 days off
Notes: I ran great at American River and awesome at Collegiate Peaks. Coincidentally, I peaked at CP. I have never run with such rhythm and ease during a race like I did at CP. Going into Pocatello I was fried and fatigued and ground out a finish. I tried to rest and recover as best I could before States. I was having an ok race when the unexpected led to a DNF. The short of it: poison oak/ivy won round 1 by KO. Humility before honor.

Jul: 274 mi, 4 days off. Aug: 293 mi, 9 days off. Sep: 96.2 mi, 21 days off. Q3: 663.2 mi, 34 days off
Notes: July and August were my favorite months of running. I got back to my roots and what brought me to this sport in the first place; running high peaks with friends. Loved it. These outings led to and inspired me to run Longs as fast as I could. Leadville was my redemption race for the year. I got the 100 mile monkey off my back and didn't come completely unglued during the last 30 miles. Steamboat was run on grit. I was beat up going in and beat down after. More than half of September's mileage was run through the toughest conditions I've ever raced in; thanks for the company Geoff.

Oct: 213.3 mi, 4 days off. Nov: 275.3 mi, 2 days off. Dec: 252.9 mi, 5 days off. Q4: 741.5 mi, 11 days off
Notes: Worked out most of the accumulated Old Man issues after a long season of fun running and racing. Great company and culminating long run at Chubby Cheeks. Tuesday night track and tempeh sessions begin alongside Thursday night tempeh and non Towers weeks.

Races: 14. 1 win. 1 CR. 7 podiums. 455 race miles. $1031.25 in entry fees.

Peaks: FC Area- Round Mtn: 4, Crosier Mtn: 2, Grey Rock: 2, Horsetooth: 9, Arthur's Rock: 27, Towers Rd: 11
RMNP- Longs: 2, Alice, Chiefs Head, McHenry's
Indian Peaks/Boulder- Sanitas, Sawtooth, Algonquin, Buchanan, Audubon: 2, Notabon, Pawnee, Toll, Paiute
Other 13ers- Matterhorn, Mascot, West Elk Peak Almost- Point 12,964
Other 14ers- Redcloud, Sunshine, Handies, Wetterhorn, Uncompahgre, Yale

Strength: 6,830 Pushups. 14,420 Crunches/Core. 2066 Pullups.

2012 News: Ran the New Year's Day 5K in 17:25 taking home the Bronze. Felt good to dust off the 5K legs. Not bad for January. Michael Jackson took the Gold with Towers Sam Malmberg earning Silver even after racing New Year's Eve as well!

Last but not least: Many people had a good chuckle when I told them my New Year's Resolution was to START drinking. Well it is official. I am fully resolved for 2012. After 367 days I tasted that sweet nectar once again. Once the track workout was complete Brian, Grant, and I toasted with a Longs Peak Raspberry Wheat. Here's to a happy and healthy New Year!