Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cheyenne Mountain 50K Race Report

Cheyenne Mountain 50K = An Awesome Race. 
Me, Michael, Levi

The weather forecast wasn't exactly what we were hoping for on our first camping adventure with now 3 month old Felix... windy, snow, rain, sort of cold, but we were going for it!  

Maggie, Felix and I headed to Colorado Springs Friday afternoon where we enjoyed some time with friends (Brain Dumm, JFK 1st place winner) and met up with Levi.  After getting our race packets and having some good pasta at Rasta Pasta, we headed to Cheyenne Mountain State Park to set up camp.  It is great to have camping options for races.  Our site was nice with a view of the city and Fort Carson. 

Levi and I caught up a bit and I told him the big news of deploying.  I am to leave Colorado May 8th for a month of training followed by a 6 month deployment to Iraq to train Iraqis on how to be officers.  To say the least, this has been stressful and pretty bad news for the family, for running and in general.  With only a few weeks to prepare, I've been stressed, busy and anxious.  Combine the deployment news with the fact that I missed a week of running with a nasty cold 2 and a half weeks ago and another week off before that from an injury and last, but not least, my sleep has been interval based for the last 2 months.  These factors equate to some setbacks to being ready to race.  

After having such an amazing race down in TX last month on a very hectic zero sleep night before, I may have been overly confident that I could run well no matter what.  I did have a solid 100 mile week two weeks before the race, but it also left me beat down.  

Anyways, on to the race itself; I've been looking forward to this race due to the fact it is only a couple hours from home, it is all on trails, this was Levi's debut to Ultras, the chance to win $500 and for the plain thrill of racing a trail ultra.  Everything was well set up and ready to go.  Right off the bat there were four of us in the lead pack, Levi, Michael, myself and another guy.  A mile or two into the race I passed Levi and the other guy to take the lead as I felt the pace wasn’t quite fast enough. 
From here I lead with Levi behind me and Michael behind Levi for a few miles until Levi had gas and let Michael pass him.  We were moving pretty fast, but from the first mile I was having a hard time feeling out the right pace.  In my two 50 mile races, finding my pace wasn’t an issue, I ignored the other racers (in front and around me) and ran my own race.  Today, I didn’t find that pace too often at all and not at all in the second half.  The two main reasons I felt “bad” on race day was one, that I wasn’t race ready and two, I was stressing about Levi and Michael being mere inches (sometimes less) behind me.  My go to race strategy is to run even splits and pass and run confidently in the second half.  Today, I felt confident in winning and therefore took the strategy of leading and expected no one to be able to hang-on after around 20 miles… obviously not the case. 

After going around the start/finish at just over 16 miles we were right under 2 hours, so low 7:00 minute mile pace for a pretty technical loop with lots of turning and 1,875ft or so, of climbing.  I’m confident Levi, Michael and I could have run 1:50 low for the 25K. 
The figure 8 shaped loop was pretty awesome, a lot of technical rock, forested sections, scrub oak dry plains, wide-open trail in the meadows and rolling hills.  I wish I were able to relax and enjoy the race more.  For all of the first 20 miles me, Michael and Levi, in that order were NEVER less than 2 seconds apart.  It was like running the mile in track, no one dared take a step off the pace and this made perfect sense as Levi and I, and I would assume Michael (heard he is new to trail running), are track and road racers until recently… just a bunch of jockeying “roadies”. 

Somewhere while climbing around mile 20, Levi slackened the pace to where he could no longer hold myself and Michael’s hand and that would be the last time we would see Levi.  At this point, I gained a little confidence that Michael would join Levi soon, but that wasn’t the case. 
At what would become the turning point of the race, I paused to grab my 1st Endurance Liquid Shot at about mile 23 and in that 2 seconds, Michael didn’t obviously wait for me.  Funny thing is, that after 3+ hours of close formation flying, I did see the slightest pause by Michael as I reached down for my bottle… funny, wish it had lasted just a few more seconds.  For the next mile I tried to keep confident, keep pace and hope Michael wouldn’t make a big move.  It wasn’t a big move at all, but a move regardless, late in the race, after being the leader for so long and I wasn’t able to field it.  
At around 24 miles, 8 to go to the finish, I lost contact, confidence and steam.  This disastrous event took place right at the most challenging part of the course for me: the flat, open section.  Getting passed in the second half of a race is really tough for me and this was no exception.  All hell broke loose.  Most races are decided mentally and this seemingly small occurrence, was too big for me to mentally handle. 

The next 8 miles were very interesting in retrospect.   I completely shut down and clocked a few 10+ minute miles on the climb up to the turn around, but Michael must have been hurting too, in gaining only 2 and half minutes on me.  I wasn’t bonking like I did at North Face, the 1st Endurance EFS kept me fueled and I was hydrated, I just didn’t have the mental and physical energy to keep up race pace.  Levi was at least 2+ minutes behind me but managed to cut the gap by the finish to less than a minute.  I think he could see me sand bagging it on some of the open sections in the closing miles, which motivated him.  In hindsight, I wish I would have just stopped running at the beginning of the climbs around mile 25, caught my breath, stretched, re-set and then started running again. 

By the last two miles, my strength was back and I was running fast, but Michael was too far away. 

Michael 4:09
Schlarb 4:11
Levi      4:12

Along with accepting my reality (not being race ready), I learned a couple great lessons in Ultra racing.  The race itself was awesome and Andrea (RD) did a fine job on putting together a top-notch event.  I plan on being back next year. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weekly Summary for 4/11-4/17

AM 1:39; 12.03M; 901Ft; 148Av Hr; Flatter Wonderland Trail E-Run.  Still feeling weak from the cold I had.  Av Hr was pretty high.  Great to see the return of the Great Western Meadow Lark to my Wonderland trail runs!

AM 1:17; 10.41M 530Ft; 150Av Hr; 10 x 90 seconds on, 2:30 jog on the Boulder Creek Bike Path.  This was my first day feeling relatively “back” from my nasty cold.  Taking the side trails up the west end of the bike path I averaged a humbling 5:50 something pace on my 90 second repeats.  Was happy to see low 4:50 pace on the way back. Low 5:20 average pace for 15 minutes of hard on the less than flat west end of the bike path Good to be running fast.     

My body-work with Marcus Allen was Saturday this week.  We discovered I need to do some hip strength work.  

AM 1:44; 12.07M; 1,180Ft; 141Av Hr; Hillier Wonderland trails.  Good to see the Av Hr down from Monday’s similar run.  Saw 32 deer in one area grazing next to the trails.  Really enjoying being back on the trails.  

AM 2:09; 10.86M; 2,840Ft; 144Av Hr; Snowy Time Trial run up Bear Canyon to Green Mtn.  After a surprise 5” snow, I was excited to run in the fresh pow with Aaron.  I was breaking trail up Bear Canyon all the way up and then down Green Mtn.  The snow was very wet and there were many trees and bushes bent over and across the trail.  At least a half dozen times, I had to either crawl under trees, or go off the trail.  On the way up I also had to just stand and guess (didn’t stop the watch) where the trail went.  Aaron fell down into the creek scratching his ankle and arm.  When I saw him on the peak he was bloody… not to mention how ridiculous it looked that he was in shorts, T-Shirt and a baseball cap.  To his defense, it wasn’t that cold, but I would have been.  There was at least 10” of un-cut pow on top of Green.  The character building push up Green (one of the most challenging) took 38:47.   

PM :34; 4.2M; 130Ft; 149Av Hr; Easy run on the bike path with general mobility.  Av Hr was higher due to the general mobility.  

Aaron on the way down Greenman

Serious Pow at Green's summit
Aaron sporting "Rocky Mtn Spring Running Gear" 

AM 1:46; 12.28M; 1,247Ft; 137Av Hr; Hilly Wonderland Trails.  I continued to feel better every day this week.  On my third time at this distance, location, appx time and gradually more climbing (900ft, 1100ft, 1200ft) my Av Hr went from 148 to 141 to 137.  

AM 3:24; 24.01M; 2,487Ft; 149Av Hr;  Long run from Heil Ranch parking lot, to the top of the “overlook”, Wild Turkey trail, to Picture Rock trail and then about a mile into Lyons.  After a bad week of sleep with Felix, Friday night was the worst, maybe 4ish hours of sleep.  The bad sleep combined with getting over the cold and a decent week of running made this long run pretty challenging.  The first maybe eight miles of trail on this run are pretty technical, not steep, but technical with a lot of rock and loose rock.  I tried out Aaron’s Gregory hydration pack on this run along with taking 3.5oz of EFS liquid shot.  The pack, the EFS and the weather were perfect, but I was pretty tired.  Once I got to the end of Picture Rock trail I ran a little over a mile on a bike path and then on the side of the road.  The plan was to go 12.5M out for 25M total… after a quarter mile on the side of a road, I felt horrible and settled for 12 out and a nice stretch.  Miles 10-14 were very tough being out in the open and road… amazing how not being on the trails in the forest compromises me mentally.  Once back to the forest I was OK, until the last 2 miles where I was ready to be done.  In my tired haze, I managed to drop my ID and CC when I took out my camera for a picture.  Two separate people found my cards.  I am really impressed and thankful for these awesome people.  They both contacted me via email… I think the blog made this possible??  As I do after all my runs, but even more so on Saturday, I was very excited for my Ultragen recovery drink while I stretched by the trickle of a creek.   

Near the start of my long run at Heil Ranch

Old car along the picture rock trail
Glory meadow looking towards the pass 

AM 2:01; 14.31M; 1,673Ft; 141Av Hr; Boulder Creek Bike Path, Boulder Canyon Rd, Boulder Link Trail, Betasso Loop Trail.  After not being able to join some friends for this classic Boulder Mtn bike ride, I decided to do it as a run today.  This will make a great alternative to a Wonderland run.  I also finally figured out what the huge building/complex was up in the hills of Boulder… Betasso Water Treatment Plant. 

Mystery solved.... Betasso Water Treatment Plant

14:34 Total Time Running
101.1 Total Miles
10,988 Total Climbing
144.9 Av Hr

The week started with a compromised body that was still battling off a cold, but finished well with some solid training.  I didn’t keep track of mileage during the week, nor plan on finishing with 100.1 miles… I thought with just one double and a conservative long run I’d maybe break 90, not 100.  Cool.  Av Hr was high this week due my body fighting off the cold.  Climbing was a bit less this week.     
I’ll keep Monday and Tuesday regular, but do a mini-taper Wednesday-Friday in prep for the Cheyenne Mtn 50K next Saturday.  I won’t be in the kind of shape I’ll be in for the summer, but I’m still confident Saturday’s run will go relatively well.    

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race 25k/50K

I found/stumbled upon a cool 1st year 25k/50K in Colorado Springs on 4/23 that looks pretty cool:

"The Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race":

-New(er)/very nice trails.  I believe they finished the park right before I left the springs, but I had a chance to run on the trails, they are very nice.     
-Faster course, maybe 1,500-2K of climb per 25K loop
-Good scenery!  Forested, wide open, on Cheyenne Mtn, nice views, etc...
-Not sold out (300 cap)!
-Accessible (on the South end of C.Springs)
-$500 for the first 50K man and woman
-Almost 100% single track trail I believe (a road crossing or two)

-LASTLY, but MOST important:  an opportunity to actually get some of the MANY iconic trail running legends that live in Colorado to RACE... IN COLORADO, imagine that!

It has been a rough week battling a nasty cold that has kept me from running.  While this song's lyrics have nothing to do with running or the anxiety of not running while having a cold/injury, the title "Wait So Long" makes me thing about how waiting for this cold to end has felt like eternity.  Also, the feverous pace at which these guys jam, captures my antsyness to get back on the trails. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Great Week With a Disappointing Finish


AM 1:31; 11M; 130 Av Hr; Elliptical; Sunday at the end of my long run, my Achilles started to bother me… Tuesday Marcus Allen checked it out and there was no sign of any stress to the area and then Wednesday I realized it was most likely just dry skin where my sock ended and my shoe rubbed my skin.  With the extreme dry lately, this chaffing makes sense.
I had to get a picture of this unique scene biking home...


AM 1:17; 10.63M; 499Ft;  142Av Hr; Season opening tempo… and it showed!  I have decided to reserve Tuesdays for tempo and speed on flat(er) terrain.  After a solid long run and big first week back, my legs were not spry and my lack of any speed work since last year made a direct impact on my 5 mile tempo pace.  My tempo route is slightly up hill from the start to about 4.5 miles (300ish up) and uses a little bit of the trails of wonderland as well.  Average pace was 6:23 with my heart rate hovering around 160.  A good first tempo.  On the track I believe it would have been just under 6 min/mile pace.

PM Took the second run off under the false pretense that my  Achilles was needing a break.

Massage with Marcus Allen; We worked on my hips, which are really tight and need some regular attention.  Looking forward to the efficiencies of loosening these critical joints. 


AM 1:31; 11.24M; 890Ft; 137Av Hr; Wonderland recovery day. 

PM :32; 4.24M; 48Ft; 144Av Hr (General Mobility!);  Barefoot at Kitts field followed by some General Mobility/Strides.
The First Flower in our rock yard this spring!


AM 1:56; 12.02; 3,129ft; 147Av Hr; NEW GREEN MTN MIDDLE ROUTE TT RECORD!  Met up with Levi and Aaron for a time trial (TT) effort run up the middle route to Green Mtn.  After a month plus away not doing any timed ascents, I wasn’t expecting much of a performance today.  Warming up to the trail head, I actually couldn’t recall my times up the middle route and guessed a ludicrous 34 or 35 min. time.  Mile splits went: 11:56, 9:23, 13:04 and 1:51 for the last bit for a total time post to post of 36:04.  My legs and body felt pretty good on this TT.  Normally for TTs my calves burn, my mouth waters and tastes acidic and I nearly pass out and fight off dry heaves at the summit.  This morning, only my quads caught fire and  while I was spent, I didn’t feel as bad as normal on top.  After I got home, and checked the FKT link, I realized my old best time was 37:51… a minute 47 besting!  Levi came through in 40:05, which is a big best time for him (and as fast as I could run the route Pre-2011), Aaron rallied through with a 45:06 best time too.  Overall an encouraging day for all!  GZ ran the next morning and posted a new blazing best of 43:17. 

PM  :26; 3.5M; 120Ft; 133Av Hr; Easy run around the hood.  My watch ran out of juice on the way home.


AM 1:41: 12.04M; 1,207Ft; 138Av Hr; My new “hillier” Wonderland route today. 

PM In anticipation of Geoff’s long run Sunday, I took the afternoon off.


AM 1:27; 10.15M; 1,649Ft; 147Av Hr; Easy run on trails North of Eldorado Canyon, into Eldorado Canyon and back.  I only ran 10 miles today in prep for Geoff’s long run Sunday.

 PM  Went for a hike on the trails I ran this morning with my little brother, Jaxon and my Dad.  At the end of the 6 or so miles, where my brother and Dad ran back to the car, a muscle below my calf became really tight and sore.  I iced it in S.Boulder creek, but it still wasn’t happy. 
My brother Jaxon on our hike
Felix's feet were sore, so he enjoyed his first icing with Dad!


OFF; After an “emergency” visit to Marcus Allen Saturday night, it was determined I shouldn’t do a 40 mile, 10K+ climbing, one way trail long run.  While not running afforded me the opportunity to spend the day with my family and not to mention the fact the weather went from 80s Friday to windy and snowing Saturday, I still couldn’t help staring off at the flat irons with a longing and depressed stare. 

74.82 Miles
10Hr 21 Min

A great week with a disappointing finish.  I got my first tempo in this year and a new best time on Green.  In hindsight, had I done the long run Sunday with Geoff, Scott, Joe and Dakota, I would have been at 115 miles for the week with two workouts… a touch more than I should do right now.  My calf muscle is totally healed, but I couldn’t avoid the nasty cold Maggie had last week and have been forced to taking Monday and Tuesday totally off.  I hope to be back running easy tomorrow. 
Regardless, I have enjoyed having my family here and the extra time to be with them and Felix!

I really enjoy the smooth tunes from The XX and the video for their Islands song is pretty powerful...