Saturday, July 7, 2012

Belford & Oxford in the Clouds

I've had a long hiatus from blogging, mostly because 1) I've been uber busy and blogging falls very low on the list of to-do's and 2) I haven't had much to blog about on the outdoor adventure front, which has been mostly running for the last year or so.

Since my last post many moons ago, I ran the Rudy's Boulder Spring Half Marathon at the Boulder Res.  I had a less than stellar performance, clocking 1:36 on dirt roads with 646 vertical feet of elevation gain (according to my gps).  I was actually running reasonably well until the last few miles, when my left knee just completely gave out.  It had the feeling of being loose, if that makes any sense.  Regardless, that should have been a sign of what's to come. 

In May, I headed north for this guy's inaugural trail race, the Quad Rock.  I opted for the 25 miler, which I felt reasonably prepared for.  I wasn't going into the race thinking of competing (not that I could anyway).  I really looked at it as a training run, as I hoped to throw in a road marathon later in the summer.  My GPS showed me running 25.12 miles and 6179 vertical feet in 5:04.  I felt good throughout the race, with the exception of the pounding my knees took on the descents.

That brings us to the last 2 months.  Following the Quad Rock, I felt surprisingly good.  I had little to no soreness.  I had also set a goal for myself to run every day this year.  So, the following day I went on a run with my wife.  It wasn't a hard run, but we did something like 5 miles.  The next day, Monday, I met my occasional morning running partner for a much harder effort than called for.  The following evening, I headed from the house on a casual jog and I barely made it a mile before my knees were on fire.  I decided to walk home.  Of course, I couldn't let my steak die, so I headed out the following day, with the same firing pain.  After going thru this same routine, run a mile in pain, walk home for the remainder of the week, enough was enough.  I needed some time off.  So I decided to get on the old road bike.  The pain wasn't as bad, but it was definitely not normal.  I finally decided to take a full week from running and cycling, heading to the gym for daily swimming.  After one week off, I took the next week alternating swimming and biking.

After 19 days without running, I went on a run with my wife.  It wasn't pain free, but my knees were improved.  I decided that running every day was for the birds!  I'd try to alternate running with biking, swimming, weight training, and the like in an attempt to get healthy.  So I've pretty much been on that routine for almost a month.  Before today, my longest run has been in the realm of 5.5 miles. 

That said, Thursday morning I drove my wife and daughter to the airport for some much needed rest and relation with family in Michigan, which meant I had the weekend for a mini-adventure.  After working late Friday night, I left Lyons around 7 PM and headed into the mountains.  My tentative plan was to scout Mt Belford for a company team building hike later in the summer.  Since I'm leading it this year, I didn't feel comfortable not having some experience with the trails.  I car camped Friday night, enjoying the sound of the rain pounding the window as I fell asleep.  I awoke to clouded peaks, but I thought I'd head up above treeline in hopes of bagging the peak.

My sleeping quarters for night
Mt. Belford at 14,197 fasl is quite steep in it's short 4ish mile ascent.  I headed up the trail eager as it's been far too long since I've been in the hills.  I topped off Mt. Belford just before the 2 hr mark.  Then the dilemma, should I knock out Mt. Oxford (14,153 fasl) while I'm so close!?!?  Of course.  I headed down the trail, but at a junction I was unsure of the direction.  I chose wrong, back tracked and finally made my way down the short but steep slope to the saddle between Bel and Ox.  After the bump up to Oxford and subsequently re-summitting Bel, I headed back down the mountain. 

Early on the trail, still in the valley on the runable terrain

All the peaks were socked in
 Unfortunately, my knees really flared up!  The steep descent did a number of them and by the time I was back to car they were really tight and on fire!  This was very discouraging.  I'm starting to think I should get a professional opinion.  It's been too long since I've enjoyed pain free running......I crave it. 

Regardless, it was fantastic being in the mountains.  I've missed the high peaks and it was a special treat to be up car camping in one of my favorite old spots and playing in the hills. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Summary - 2/19

Well, not much to say here other than I've struggled to get runs in! My life has been busy to say the least, running from one thing to another and trying my best to love and care for my wife and daughter in the process. My hope is that things are somewhat slowing down, work wise, which means I should be able to connect more with Christine and Maddie and also get some much needed running in.....not to mention some time to reflect.

I was able to string together 2 decent 10+ mile runs, both of which my average pace was below 7:30. The pace felt easy and I had the feeling that I just wanted to keep going. Those are some good signs that I'll be able to get my fitness in line for the Quad Rock in May. My hope for next weekend is to string together another 2 runs, one of which I'd like to see in the 15ish mile range. We'll see what happens, as right now my goal is to be as flexible as possible and not be too selfish with my time. If I have to continue to run in jeans or get my "trail" run in by hitting the dirt roads west of the house because that's what is most efficient and can allow me the most time to spend with my wife and daughter, then bring it on!

Lastly, I've still managed to keep my streak alive, running at least 1 mile each day thus far. Cheers to keeping it going!!

Feb 6
3.82 Miles - AM loop with Jason

Feb 7
1.37 Mile - Late PM just to get my mile in

Feb 8
2.02 Miles - Another "just to get it in" loop around the block

Feb 9
4.38 Miles @ 620 vertical ft - Rabbit Mtn
Was able to sneak out for a lunch time run and hit Indian Mesa which has some nice vertical and is only a few miles from work. Definitely have to start hitting the hills or Quad Rock is going to be painful!

Feb 10
3.02 Miles - Neighborhood Loop - Late PM

Feb 11
4.01 Miles - Neighborhood Out and Back - Late PM

Feb 12
11.2 Miles @ 482 vert ft- Double Lagerman Loop

Feb 13
4.0 Miles - AM loop with Jason

Feb 14
1.61 Mile - Late PM "get 'er done" mile to keep the game going

Feb 15
4.0 Miles - Lake Mc with Jason

Feb 16
3.3 Miles - Late PM - Arezzo Loop Intervals

Feb 17
1.5 Mile - Late PM jog back from Eric's house on his 40th!

Feb 18
10.67 Miles @ 489 vert ft
Lagerman Loop

Feb 19
11.46 Miles @ 523 vert ft
Lagerman Out & Back

Christine and Maddie got me a new camera for Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, most of my runs these days are in the dark......either early in the morning before sunrise or late at night just before bed. I was able to snap a few pics during my Saturday and Sunday runs, so check em out and see if the quality is there.

Thankful for dirt roads! My current "trail" running!

Lagerman with Haystack in the background

Meeker, Longs, and Mt. Lady Washington can be seen through the haze on the far right

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Summary - 2/5

Overall, not a stellar end to January. I managed to get at least one mile in each day, but there was a handful of days which I barely ran. This was due to having a super busy schedule coupled with the scare of a stress fracture in my right tibia. Based on some pain in my shin area both during after my runs, I felt it necessary to take it easy for a week and then gauge whether I should totally take some time off. After a week with some easy miles, I was encouraged by how the shin felt. I figured I'd give it another week for ensure all is good and then begin ramping things up a bit.

In other news, I signed up for the Quad Rock 25. This very well may be a precursor to another road marathon in early June as I try to get a BQ but nothing's official on that front. I'm super excited about running Nick Clarks new race and hopefully finishing the 25 in ample time to see a number of guys running the 50. This means I have to start getting some more vertical into my training regemine and begin alternating a long run with two semi-long back-back runs on the weekends.

Monday, Jan 16
3.93 Miles - AM with Jason

Tuesday, Jan 17
2.11 Miles - Late PM

Wednesday, Jan 18
1.5 Miles - Late PM

Thursday, Jan 19
1.04 Miles - Early AM

Friday, Jan 20
2.52 Miles - Late PM

Saturday, Jan 21
8.02 Miles - Mt. Sanitas

Sunday, Jan 22
8.74 Miles - Midday

Monday, Jan 23
3.98 Miles - AM w/Jason

Tuesday, Jan 24
2.01 Miles - Late PM

Wednesday, Jan 25
3.92 Miles - AM w/Jason

Thursday, Jan 26
2.56 Miles - Late PM

Friday, Jan 27
4.04 Miles - Early PM

Saturday, Jan 28
10.11 Miles - Button Rock Res

Sunday, Jan 29
8.8 Miles - Midday

Monday, Jan 30
3.84 Miles - AM w/Jason

Tuesday, Jan 31
1.04 Miles - Early AM
Quick jaunt before flying to Houston

Monthly Totals
150.69 Miles
19,892 Vertical Feet of Climbing

Feb 1 @ 1.5% - AM
5.0 Miles
Treadmill at the hotel in Houston

It's been so long since I've been on a treadmill, I had forgotten how slowly the minutes pass by. Fortunately, I was looking out the window of my 18th story hotel.

Thursday, Feb 2
4.0 Miles @ 0% - AM
A few early miles on the mill after staying up past midnight working.

PM strength training with a 1.0 mile slow shake-out. It actually felt good to be hitting the weights in the hotel gym. It's been much too long and I'm certain I need to do it at minimum once per week.

Friday, Feb 3
4.0 Miles @ 0% - AM Treadmill

Saturday, Feb 4
7.15 Miles
Enjoyed getting out on some snowy North Boulder trails with my wife. My mother-in-law is in town and she graciously agreed to let Christine and I sneak away. Not only did we get a run in, but we were able to go out on our second date since Maddie was born over 4 months ago. Christine and I thoroughly enjoyed our night at Sugarbeet in Longmont. I ate entirely too much but loved every bite.

Sunday, Feb 5
9.08 Miles
Got out for another run with Christine at Pella Crossing then tacked on another 5 around Lagerman Res.

The shin is definitely feeling better and I think I should be good to increase the mileage in the coming weeks. As I was heading back to the house this evening, I couldn't help but think about how fast the Quad Rock is approaching. It's been a long time since I've spent a considerable amount of time on my feet but I feel confident I can be ready in just over 3 months. I'd really like to find a half marathon in mid to late March to use as a gauge for my fitness level.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Summary - 1/15

It's been a good start to the year and I'm hoping to return to considering this a training blog.

I was able to enjoy some nice downtime in Michigan with my wife's family for a late Christmas celebration of the birth of Jesus. I was also able to get a few miles in every day thus far.

Sunday, Jan 1
5.42 Miles @ 271 vert ft
Neighborhood loop with Christine, plus a quick 1.5 mile solo sprint at the end.

Monday, Jan 2
8.02 Miles @ 1318 vert ft
Button Rock Res loop with Jason plus some. Great morning to be out before sunrise and running a trail with someone. I've come to really enjoy my runs with Jason and it's been fun exposing him to a little of the trail, which he's quickly taking a liking to. He told me he bought his first pair of trail shoes recently.

Tuesday, Jan 3
2.23 Miles @ 165 vert ft
Woke up late so this was all I could get in while still managing to read a chapter in the Word, have breakfast and get to work.

Wed, Jan 4
4.01 Miles @ 265 vert ft
Neighborhood Loop

Thurs, Jan 5
1.03 Miles @ 128 vert ft
I actually headed out for a quick mile in jeans in the early morning hours, as I knew I wouldn't have a chance to run with cramming a full day of work into a half day plus flying to Michigan. This was a test to see if I'm really trying to get a minimum of 1 mile in daily. So far, so good.....I think!?!?

Fri, Jan 6
4.49 Miles @ 209 vert ft
Allendale, MI
Tired and sluggish from traveling and getting in the bed late. Cruised up to Grand Valley University from my Sister-In-Laws house. Nice weather for Michigan standards!

Sat, Jan 7
9.28 Miles
Ludington MI Beach + School Forest
Headed out with Christine for a loop around her parents neighborhood and then by the beach. Christine loves the mountains, but really misses the water. I can understand why. Lake Michigan is definitely beautiful. Christine dropped off at her parents house and I continued on to make a loop at the School Forest which is where Christine ran cross country. It was fun being there and thinking about her running here so many years before we knew each other.

Sun, Jan 8
7.02 Miles
Ludington School Forest

Mon, Jan 9
7.42 Miles
Ludington School Forest

Tues, Jan 10
4.0 Miles @ 702 vert ft + Family Hike 2.53 Miles @ 630 vert ft
Ludington School Forest + Ludington State Park
We've made a Christmas tradition of Cross-Country Skiing when we're in Ludington each year, although this year there was zero snow. Seriously, is this really January in Michigan. We settled for a short hike.

Wed, Jan 11
4.0 Miles @ 200 vert ft
Late night miles after getting up at 3:30 AM MST, getting delayed in the airport, and going straight to work. Got some miles in none-the-less in 11 degree weather.

Thurs, Jan 12
2.29 Miles @ 133 vert ft
Neighborhood loop....not very motivated.

Fri, Jan 13
3.91 Miles @ 292 vert ft
Early AM run with Jason

Sat, Jan 14
AM - 7.67 Miles @ 2220 vert ft
Set off to do a loop around Lumpy Ridge in Rocky Mtn National Park. Once I headed around the backside, I was post-holing and had trouble finding the trail. After slogging a bit, a turned around. This will be a great loop without the snow. Looking forward to giving it another try in the Spring. My VP called when I was almost back to the trailhead and needed me to send a report. I cut my day short and headed back down the mtn and get some work done.

PM - 4.74 Miles @ 1346 vert ft
Button Rock Res
After sending the report, I was itching for more miles so I headed to Button Rock for a loop.

Sun, Jan 15
4.37 Miles @ 1486 vert ft
Mt. Sanitas Loop
I headed to Boulder today and picked up a pair of the New Balance MT110's. At Boulder Running Co, they only had sizes 10 and 11. When I handed them back saying they didn't fit, an older gentlemen told me a guy had just returned a 10.5 and he'd give me 15% off if I was interested. Heck yeah I'm interested. The guy told me he was keeping them for himself but gave me the break. A big thanks to whoever brought them back.

As for the shoe itself, I'm very impressed. My wife and I both went through a number of the MT100's, really loving the shoe. I was excited about the MT101, although I was really disappointed in them. I personally liked the 100 much better. When I ran Longs Peak last year in early Summer, the Home Stretch was wet with snow. I was fearing for my life, clinching to the wall as the 101's were so slick I had virtually no purchase. I can already tell the 110 is a completely different shoe. The upper feels much more like the 100 although there's more stability in the heel, more room in the toe box and the material looks to be more durable. The 4 mm drop seems to be perfect. As for the outsole.....I cruised up a muddy, slick, icey, not to mention technical Mt. Sanitas with ease. Overall, I'm really excited about logging some quality trail miles in them.

2011 YTD:
Total Miles 82.43
Total Vertical 13,449

Here are a few pictures from the beginning of the year:

Button Rock Reservoir - Lyons Colorado

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Year In Review

As we enter a new year, one can't help but tally the numbers and reflect on what has been accomplished and even where one fell short.

Children Born = 1
Total Miles of Running = 1735
Total Days of Running = 273
Mileage Per Running Day = 6.36
Longest Run = 26.3 Miles
Vertical Gain = 195,477 ft
Most Vertical Day = 5,959 ft

This was actually the first year that I've tracked most of my miles and vertical gain. Even though my total mileage was minimal compared to most of the training blogs I follow, I feel that I was more dedicated solely to running this year than any single activity in any single year of my life.

I was pretty consistent throughout the year, logging 883 miles the first 6 months while slipping to 852 for the second. I was please with the following graph, showing a slight improvement in my average pace per run throughout the year.

Overall, I would consider the year of 2011 both encouraging and a learning experience. Encouraging from the fact that, despite my racing times being less than stellar, I feel confident I can improve upon these. I had glimpses of my potential in training runs and know that, given a more disciplined approach, I can accomplish my goals. It was a year of learning that I can devote myself to a physical activity that rids myself of technical gear and complexity and boils things down to simply placing one foot in front of the other. And I've learned that I can actually enjoy it!

That brings me to 2012. I have absolutely no idea what the year will bring, but I'm certain it will be interesting. First of all, I've been given the opportunity to step into an interim position at work. It doesn't come without it's challenges as I basically have 6 months to "perform" or I'll basically be "re-assigned." A re-assignment doesn't factor into my 2012 plans, so I'm going to give it my all. That said, beside the fact that I've been deeply hooked by the running bug, it also fits well into my busy schedule of balancing being a good husband and father with a demanding career. Running has to be the most efficient of activities for me at this stage in my life.

As far as running goes I plan to do another marathon. My primary goal would be to break the magic 3:10, but I plan to train for a 3 hr. My plan will be to go about it a bit differently this year. I hope to commit to a half marathon in the early spring to gauge my fitness and ramp up for an early summer marathon, possibly doing the Steamboat for a second year. By the end of the summer, I hope to be ready for a 50K. This is somewhat of a bucket list thing that I would like to check off in 2012.

The key for me is to actually commit to these races. Sign up, drop the $, and put it on the calendar. One of the small commitments I'd like to make is the one this guy did a year ago. Maybe these small goals are the keys to the larger ones.

Cheers to 2012!