Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Run Rabbit Run Race Strategy

Run Rabbit Run is now just over 2 days away so its probably time I lay out a game plan as to how I'm going to get through these 103 miles! This year my goal is to push myself a bit more. Last year at Leadville my goal was finish, plain and simple just finish. But now I feel ready to push a little more and have a more ambitious time goal. Plus there's that sub-30hr gold buckle twinkling in the distance at me! With a plan of running a bit faster and trying to run more later in the race it's important to have a good strategy so I can adapt when things go wrong and be prepared for whatever may come my way.

splits (time of day expected):
A Goal Time: sub-27:00hr
B Goal Time: sub-30:00hr
  • Mt Werner (4.4) 9:30am
  • Long Lake (10.8) 11:20am
  • Fish Creek Falls (16.5) 12:45pm
  • Olympian Hall (20.5) 1:37pm
  • Cow Creek (29.1) 4:00 pm
  • Olympian Hall (41.3) 7:14pm
  • Fish Creek Falls (45.3) 8:30pm
  • Long Lake (51.4) 10:00pm
  • Summit Lake (56.9) 12:15am
  • Dry Lake (64.5) 1:30am
  • Spring Creek Ponds (69) 2:20am
  • Dry Lake (73.5) 3:50am
  • Summit Lake (81.1) 5:15am
  • Long Lake (89.7) 7:30am
  • Mt Werner (96.1) 9:30am
  • Finish (102.9) 10:59am

gear:
  • Shoes: Pearl Izumi M2 
  • Socks: Drymax, I don't like to wear socks, but for long races they're a must and these are the only socks I race in
  • Watch: Garmin 310XT
  • Hydration: Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta
  • Headlamp: Petzl
  • Headwear: UV half Buff, I don't leave home without it!
  • Gloves: Pearl Izumi gloves, Craft glove/mittens
  • Food: EFS vanilla gel and Hammer Heed added to water and of course Coke
  • Poles: Black Diamond Z pole 100cm

aid stations:
  • Long Lake: I don't plan to see any crew here. Basically this will just be reload on fuel and go. 
  • Fish Creek FallsI don't plan to see any crew here. Basically this will just be reload on fuel and go. 
  • Olympian Hall: This is the first place I'll see crew. But it should be a quick turnaround. Just refuel, resunscreen, kiss the boy and get going.
  • Cow Creek: No crew here. Just refuel, grab a handheld for extra fluid on this stretch and get moving.
  • Olympian Hall: This is where I pick up Katie and grab night for night running. I'll pick up my headlamp, poles, bladder, long sleeves, capris, possibly my shell, full Buff and gloves.
  • Fish Creek FallsI don't plan to see any crew here. Basically this will just be reload on fuel and go. 
  • Long Lake: Another quick stop to refuel. I'll have an old pair of tights and extra long sleeve here in case it really gets cold.
  • Summit Lake: Just refuel.
  • Spring Creek Ponds: This is where I'll switch pacers. I'll also have the majority of my really warm gear here in case I need it. Battery change in the headlamp and refuel.
  • Summit Lake: This needs to be a quick stop. Just refuel and go. I'll have backup warm clothes just in case though.
  • Long Lake: As the sun comes up it should start getting warm again so I'll likely switch back to shorts and sunscreen up here. I'll also drop my poles and refuel.
  • FINISH: Alls I want here is a can of Dales! Well that and Sandra has me dreaming of margaritas and mexican food now so that is probably going to carry me for at least the last 20 miles.
pacers/crew (the most important part):
  • Katie will be taking me from Olympian (41) to Spring Creek Ponds (69). After her adventure race win last weekend I know she knows what it takes to keep pushing. Dan will be grinding it out with me from Spring Creek Ponds to the finish. It's a grueling climb and I can't imagine anyone else I'd rather have with me on that climb. Hopefully I'll be saying that same thing at the end.
  • My parents will also be here for the crucial role of babysitter! Definitely an important part in racing these days!
While this section is short it is crucial to our race. Without this amazing group of people who are willing to give up their weekend and sleep I wouldn't be able to do this sort of race. So in advance, thank you all for your hardwork and dedication! There may not be buckles at the end of the day for you but I promise you all loads Dales!

music playlist:
Anyone who knows me knows I don't listen to music while I run, unless I'm on a treadmill. But I will have an iPod ready to go if I need a pick me up during the climbs.
  • Hard Sun - Eddie Vedder
  • Blue Sky - Allman Brothers
  • Airplanes - B.o.B.
  • Southern Cross - Crosby, Stills and Nash
  • Shake It Out - Florence and The Machine
  • Never Let Me Go - Florence and The Machine
  • Dog Days Are Over - Florence and The Machine
  • Hey World - Michael Franti and Spearhead
  • Hey Hey Hey - Michael Franti and Spearhead
  • Ghosts That We Knew - Mumford and Sons
  • Lover Of The Light  - Mumford and Sons
  • Hopeless Wanderer - Mumford and Sons
  • Good Life - OneRepublic
  • I Am Mine - Pearl Jam
  • Glad You Came - The Wanted
  • Butterfly - Crazy Town
  • Start Line - Nathan Barr
  • Never Give Up - Peter Bayne
  • Green Spandex - Xavier Rudd
  • Follow Me There - Third Day
  • Send Me On My Way - Rusted Root
  • 11:59 - Michael Franti and Spearhead

tracking:
My amazing crew will be posting to Twitter so you can follow along by following @321_Miles or #321milechallenge

or follow at www.ultralive.net/rrr100/

Week August 25-31

Miles Running: 34.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 6.5

Week September 1 - 7

Miles Running: 28
Hours Hiking and running: 5.5

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Chaos and Disaster

here is your chance to find your own way. go on your own. be adventuresome. don't forever seek the easiest way. go the way you find. don't demand trail signs and sturdy bridges. don't demand we show you the mountains. see them and find them yourself. here's your chance to get lost, fall in the creek, find a beautiful place. -randy morgenson
This is what we bush whacked through

This week was my last big week of training before Run Rabbit Run and my last long run. After so many months of long run after long run it seems strange that this is the last. Not last for the year, but last of my big training. My legs have been feeling great lately and this week was no exception. I felt like I could power up every climb with little effort. Naturally I began to wonder if this meant I hadn't trained hard enough. In past years by the time tapering came around I was exhausted, completely worn down both physically and mentally. Now here I was feeling great! 

I'm hoping this means I'm really ready. I've logged more miles, more vertical and more long runs than I did last year. Hell I'm less than 300 miles from my yearly total last year! But there's always that nagging feeling that you should have done more. Well at this point if I should have done more all it is is a shoulda coulda woulda. I just have to trust my training, stay focused, healthy, rest and eat. 

After a week of great training my last run was a loop in Lost Creek with Sandra and Laurie. Sandra mapped out the route, we looked up the trail conditions, found water spots, we seriously thought we had covered everything and would have a nice easy 30 mile run. We started on the Colorado Trail at the Meadows campground. Its a pretty easy uphill from there to the Rolling Creek trailhead. When we got to RC Laurie was feeling great and decided to head back. Sandra commented that the mileage was a bit more than we had calculated and the run was looking to be closer to 34 miles. No big deal we thought, with not much vertical it should be fine. We continued to climb up the CT. It's another 6.5 miles of climbing and not an easy climb either. I somehow had put out of my mind how tough that climb can be. We finally crested the top and started heading down across the meadows. 
Brunch with Daddy

We hopped off the CT onto a couple smaller trails here Wigwam and something else. These were the ones I was most worried we would lose. But they turned out to be easy to follow and amazingly beautiful! My favorite part of the day. We cruised quickly along these flat sections and made up time quite nicely. Then we turned to head up Rolling Creek. I knew there would be some climbing, but wow it was reminiscent of climbing up Hope. It was really pretty steep, but we climbed strong and before too long were at the top. Since Laurie had agreed to get the car and come back to get us at the Rolling Creek trailhead we figured we had an easy 4-5 miles downhill. Ha...easy...yeah not so much. The top part of the trail was an old rock slide, which of course made me nervous. Monday would mark 2 years since Rob's accident and it was at the forefront of my mind. We picked our route carefully and were making decent progress when we stood at one carin with no idea where to go next.

We chose a direction and stuck to it...not that we chose the right direction though. Within minutes of making our choice we were scrambling down rocks and over dead fall. We pulled out the map but couldn't see the sign of a trail where there supposedly was one. So we kept going and we kept getting into thicker and thicker vegetation. After nearly 2 hours of going back and forth across the river, our legs shredded to bits and our minds going crazy with possible scenarios we heard a voice. We started calling out and realized we were just below the trail. We quickly popped up over a rock out crop to see an older couple staring at us like we were crazy. They kept asking if we were okay and we said yes, we had just lost the trail. I think we scared them nearly half to death, not sure if it was the surprise of two women lost in the woods or the sight of our bloody legs. 
Fun with sensory activities

It was quite the end to our training and all I can do now is hope I've done enough. I guess only time will tell. James has been doing great with communication lately. I can barely keep up with his list of signs. We still don't have James on a strict sensory diet yet, but the 'heavy work' we're having him do before he has one of his meltdowns or before eating seems to really be helping. I also notice more when he starts to seek out sensory activities and have been trying to turn it into a controlled sensory activity. James is also now full blown boy! He's kind of like a tornado that just blazes through in a glory of chaos and disaster! His favorite game is to throw his entire stack of cups down the stairs and then climb up the baby gate to watch them. He chases the dog non-stop and thankfully Seamus puts up with it pretty well. He usually just rolls his eyes at James knowing if he waits just a bit longer he'll probably get some of James' snack handed to him.The 30 seconds of attention James can give to his snacks is about the only moment of peace he allows before he goes running off hands above his head, mouth wide open screaming in joy! Then there is the occasional moment when in all the excitement of running he forgets to actually look where he's going and bounces straight off the wall. Chaos and disaster...I love life with my boys!

Week August 18 - 24

Miles Running: 64.0
Hours Hiking and Running: 13.5

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Leadville 100 Race Report - Through the Eyes of the Crew

The plan for Leadville this year was to keep it simple. Nothing fancy, nothing over the top, no outside distractions. So we arrived in Leadville on Wednesday giving us a few days to ourselves to get prepped and to enjoy Leadville. And also to get me some good training. 
Ken Chlouber photo bombing Dan


Thursday Dan weighed in 20 lbs less than he did in 2013. This past year Dan has worked harder than I've ever seen him. He watched his weight, he trained...hard, he studied the course, he practiced his nutrition, he dialed in his gameplan. Everything had been thought through at least a dozen times...and then perfectly laid out in an 11x17 spreadsheet, complete with splits, nutrition, gear and notes. Friday was the pre-race briefing. I was pretty impressed with Lifetime. They didn't try to hide all the complaints from last year. They took responsibility for the way everything went down and talked about where they had worked to make improvements. With some final words from Ken Chlouber the runners were sent off to get some food and rest. At the last minute Dan decided he didn't want to stray from our weekly diet of pasta bolognese so instead of cheeseburgers we cooked up another big batch of gluten free pasta with my almost homemade bolognese sauce. He figured if it hadn't given him food poisoning yet it was probably safe. Good thing I made a Costco size batch before we left.

Dan at the starting line
The 2:00 am alarm rang bright and early on Saturday morning. Dan double checked all his gear, adjusted his headlamp and tried to get down some good calories. As we walked to the starting line you could just feel the energy coursing through the air. If you've never been to the start of a 100 it's hard to describe the electric energy, but everything is just buzzing and everyone is super excited. It was hard not to be a bit jealous that I wasn't lining up as well, but this year was about Dan. Then right at 4:00 am the gun went off and the runners took off down 6th street. I watched as they crested the hill before heading back to the car. I needed to try to get some sleep before heading to Outward Bound. 

A few hours later I was getting all of our crew gear ready when I quickly remembered to check the runner tracking. A slew of profanities flew out of my mouth as I read Dan had blazed through Mayqueen in 2:16...well ahead of his goal times. I yelled at the rest of the crew that we had to go if we were going to make it to Outward Bound in time. I have to say Lifetime did an outstanding job of re-configuring OB. The runners weren't playing tag with the cars and they were able to file us all in pretty quickly. Dan came through OB a little bit closer to his splits, but still ahead of schedule. We quickly refueled his bottles, switched out his EFS flask and sent him off through the fields, promising to see him in 4 miles.

Dan arrived at Treeline 40 minutes later and was starting to not look so great. We topped off all his fluids and calories as the sun was really starting to heat things up. I knew the 'climb' to Elbert wan't bad, but it's not as easy as it looks either, especially when you go into it not in a great place. Dan thought he just needed more calories and would be out of his bonk soon. The rest of us headed to Twin to get setup for Dan's pit stop before Hope and to get Ben off to Winfield.
Coming into Twin

The shuttles at Twin worked great, especially with us having James! The shuttle pulled right up to our car, we loaded all the gear and were set up at Twin within 10 min. I double checked all of Dan's gear for Winfield, made sure Ben got enough food and went over Ben's directions a couple more times. We had arranged for Ben to get out to Winfield with David's crew to hopefully not contribute to the Winfield parking lot. We ended up having a long time at Twin, James made loads of friends as he ran all over though. Finally Dan came through, about 10 minutes behind his splits, but still 5 min ahead of where I had been the year before. He was not looking good. He had bonked pretty hard on the Elbert climb and his legs had been cramping so for us it was all about getting him refueled, resunscreened, and geared up for Hope. Dan was still in good spirits just hoping that the hike would loosen up his legs a bit. He was stopped in Twin longer than I would have liked, but we still got him out pretty quickly.

While we waited for Dan to take on the double crossing Jason and I had to tend to James and maybe get some sleep ourselves. I was pretty nervous after seeing Dan at Twin so there was no way I could fall asleep. I just kept checking the tracker to see if Dan had made it to the top of Hope. Finally after I saw he made it I was able to get a restless 30 min of sleep. Then it was time to feed James, get him ready for bed and head back to Twin Lakes. 
Crew setup at Treeline

This time the shuttle wasn't running so I got in a nice 2 mile very fast hike in to the aid station. As daylight started fading I was beginning to get worried. I knew Dan was with Ben now so things should be good, but I just wanted them to come cruising in. When Dan finally emerged into Twin he was looking better than he had a day. I quickly re-fueled him, cleaned his feet, changed his shoes and loaded him up with his headlamp and warm clothes. And then off into the darkness Dan and Ben went. I had a long hike back to the car. I knew the wait at Treeline would be the longest and was hoping to catch a few minutes of sleep here. Unfortunately I didn't prepare for just how cold it would be waiting. I set everything up, grabbed a Dales and curled up in the backseat to try to sleep. But now I was worried that if the tracker didn't update fast enough that Dan had gotten into Half Pipe that I might miss him. I was way to paranoid to get any real sleep. Dan and Ben came walking in and I saw them right away. Dan was beginning to look exhausted so I knew we were going to be in for a long night. 
Dan coming down mini powerline

Four miles later, around 2:00 am, I was ready and waiting to take over pacing duties at Outward Bound. Dan had decided his malto mix wasn't doing it any more and he wanted ensure and more caffeine gel. Of course we were out of these by now so I did my best to reassure Dan that we were all set for the last 24 miles. We slowly walked out of Outward Bound as Dan munched some sandwiches to prepare for Powerline. Over the couple mile hike to Powerline all I heard was how Dan was going to dominate this climb. We didn't set any land speed records but Dan kept a really steady pace the whole time. I desperately tried counting the false summits but I think I counted around 10 so I must have been off somewhere. As we were nearing the top, just like every other runner out there Dan started to get really frustrated. He was exhausted and bonking, but didn't want to eat and was ready for the climb to just be done. And then seemingly out of nowhere we arrived at 'space camp'! It was awesome! A group of guys had setup this 'aid station' at the top of Powerline complete with whiskey, PBR, coke, water and pretzels. I grabbed a handful of pretzels and yelled at Dan to eat them. The first part heading down Sugarloaf is a pretty rocky jeep road and in the dark can be really frustrating. Dan kept wanting to go faster since it was a downhill, but the reality was it was slow going. Finally we hit the smooth Hagerman road and were able to start a shuffle/run. As we neared the Colorado Trail it got really quiet behind me so I did a quick check over my shoulder before nearly falling over laughing. Dan was completely asleep standing up in the middle of the road. I shook him awake and we proceeded down the CT to Mayqueen. 

Dan and I hit Mayqueen just before 6:00 am, giving us around 4 hr to get back to Leadville. I knew that was plenty of time, but we had to keep moving. Ben met us at the aid station and I felt terrible as all Dan wanted from the array of goodies was his sunglasses. I sent Dan ahead while I waited for his turkey wrap to get finished and tried to down some noodles myself. Dan had been worried that we didn't have enough fluids so I hadn't drank or ate anything since we left OB. I wasn't exactly moving very fast so I wasn't super worried. But I was really starting to get exhausted. I needed him to keep at least shuffling so I would stay awake. 
The Boulevard

The way back around Turquoise is LONG! It seriously feels like it never ends. And thinking about how fast you ran it the morning before makes it even worse. Dan's legs were tired, he was tired and he just wanted to be done. I would make him run some and then he would sit on a tree stump insisting he needed to rub out his legs. Eventually we made it to  the Boulevard...that's where the wheels started to fall off. Apparently Dan had over looked the fact that the Boulevard is basically a gradual uphill for 5 miles. Needless to say he was not impressed. So we started playing the run to the next flag game, then everyone around us joined in and before we knew it there was a sizeable group of runners all running down the Boulevard joking and laughing. Okay maybe it was just the pacers that were actually joking and laughing. But either way it was a great time and made the miles go by a bit faster. As we turned onto 6th I shot out a quick text to the crew so they'd be there waiting. And then we crested the hill and headed down to the finish line. Dan wasn't sure of his ability to hold James as he crossed so we all crossed together, James running the red carpet!
Finisher!

Merilee may be one of the most beloved figures at Leadville. After she hugged Dan and hung his medal around his neck she pulled me aside to wrap James and I in a hug. She just stared at James, stroking his hair and then turned to look me in the eye and tell me what a an amazing and special child he is. She didn't need to say anything more, it was a moment that made my heart melt. It was the moment that makes Leadville what it is. You can't explain it, it's just a feeling that whether you're a runner, a pacer or a spectator you feel it and it keeps drawing you back. Leadville...we'll see you next year! 

Week August 11 - 17

Miles Running: 80.8
Hours Hiking and Running:14.5



No Leadville 100 is complete without cheesy fries!




James was the most exhausted of all of us!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pearl Izumi Trail M2 Review

I have covered thousands of miles, through rives, snow, dirt, mud, bike paths and monsoons with Pearl Izumi Trail M2s and I never leave home without them. They have been my go-to shoe for over a year.

My favorite aspect of these shoes is the toe box. I don't have narrow feet, especially not my toes and most shoes tend to cramp my pinky toes. I then need to have a rotation of different sizes so later in a race I can go to a bigger size to fit my toes. With the M2s I can tighten the mid-foot enough to stay tight and the toe box is wide enough to accommodate even my pinkys without having to go up too large in size. No more changing size shoes after 50 miles!

The M2s have a 4 mm drop height, but the taller stack height means they have more cushion for repeated impact than a lot of other minimal shoes. These are certainly not minimal shoes, which is why I like them so much for 50 and 100 milers, but they also don't feel like you're wearing tanks. I like this balance especially for long runs. Some people can do minimal shoes forever, but I want a little bit of cushion and support without feeling like I'm bringing the kitchen sink along for 50 miles. 

The soles are a good combination of not too soft not too stiff. Too soft and I feel like every rock I jump over is digging into my foot, too stiff and I don't feel like I can feel the rocks at all. I like to be able to feel the terrain I'm running over. The tread is pretty good in most conditions, but it really doesn't fair too well in mud. And I've also noticed some slipping on dry dirt, but that's hard to avoid as you come around a corner especially on Front Range trails in the heat of the summer.
 
I also like the mid-foot support (hence the M) as the longer I go the more support I tend to need. I have weak ankles and the extra support helps on more technical terrain and the more tired my legs get. Another reason the M2s are my go-to for anything over a 50k.

My only real complaint has been the durability. I put close to 700 miles on a pair of shoes before they need to be replaced. The M2s tend to last me 300-400 miles. The upper mesh usually starts to fall apart after 250 miles, although since they dry so fast and are so breathable this is hard to avoid. The tread and sole cushioning is what is all but gone after 300 miles.

There aren't many shoes that you can slip on for the first time and head out the door for a 20+ mile run without blistering. The M2s have been able to handle that and more. They promise to be my long distance training and racing shoe for a long time to come.

Week August 4 - 10

Miles Running: 41.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 9.5

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Outside the Comfort Zone

I've been feeling really good after having a few low mileage weeks. I'm physically running better and my head is more in the game. I've been loving training. I always like my moderate intensity, moderate distance runs, but I've been looking forward more and more to challenging myself during training. Last weekend after taking 3rd (again) at La Maratona Dan told me if I want to start winning races I need to train like a winner. Let's be honest there was no way I was going to beat Stevie last weekend, but he had a point. I need to push myself a little more if I'm going to make progress with my running. 

I've really been making a point to get my miles in lately even if it means the dreaded 4:30 am wake up calls. But this week I didn't want to just get the miles in...I wanted to train like a winner. Tuesday morning I got in my short early morning run with a good afternoon run planned when an hour into work I got a call from daycare that James hadn't stopped crying since I'd dropped him off and he was feeling warm. Turns out he had hand foot and mouth disease. That meant a lot of mom and James time this week. I still made it a priority to get my runs even if they were on the dreadmill. I got in my hill repeats by pushing James up the hill behind our house. That was brutal! That was the first hill workout I've really had scheduled in quite awhile and I'm glad I was able to stick with it and get it done. I almost always come up with an excuse not to do a scheduled workout.

Since I was still home with James on Friday I wasn't able to get in a long run which meant my weekend runs would all have to be on the long side of my short runs. Saturday I went to Staunton to get some good climbing in and felt really good on the climbs. I made an effort to push significantly harder than I usually do. I made it to the mine in a relatively good time and continued to push it. Wound up running 14.2 miles in 2:14 which is certainly a good time for me. It also feels good to work a bit harder and push myself a bit more. I have no idea if I honestly have a shot at actually winning any races in the near future, certainly not Chicago, but I'll never know if I don't try right?

I also caught James hiding some of his capabilities this week...little snot! At daycare I caught him signing all done and please. He's never signed please at home! But the worst part was when he saw me watching him he got this sly little look on his face like aw man I'm busted! And since then I've been catching him looking out the corner of his eye or poking around the corner to see if we're watching before he does something. And if Dan or I look at James and say we know you understand why we're saying he immediately looks down like he's been caught. Something tells me we may not have been giving this kid enough credit!

 Week July 28 - August 3


Miles Running: 46.0
Hours Hiking and Running: 7






Wednesday, July 30, 2014

La Maratona Verticale Race Report

Top of Copper Mountain
Photo by Vertical Runner
After a few not-my-greatest races I figured I should go back to what worked in my last good race, Quad Rock. Obviously it was the Five Guys burger I had for dinner the night before. After I got all my gear packed and took an hour nap I made a quick Five Guys stop before picking up James. I roughly sketched out some splits, but without really having anything to go off of for the course, not to mention the website claimed somewhere between 5900 - 13,000 ft of vertical gain, I figured I would just go out there and have fun. 

My alarm clock went off at the obnoxious time of 3:00 am, snoozed until 3:15 and was finally out the door by 3:45. I got to Copper around 5:15 and was greeted with a blast of cold air as I got out of my car. Cursing myself for not bringing, sleeves, gloves, or a warm jacket I nearly sprinted to check-in. The biggest advantage to the race being at a ski resort meant not only was there a place to wait inside for the start there was a plethora of real bathrooms! A luxury to us ultra runners. As I stood there watching the clock tick down I kept debating how long to wait to take off my long sleeve. And then a race official came in to say they were starting late because the paramedics weren't here yet. I spent the next hour or so eyeing up the roughly 30 runners waiting in the locker rooms for the race start. Thankfully Stevie Kremer said she was running the half, but looking at the other women left me with zero confidence. Everyone appeared to be sponsored, and most by Salomon. Well I thought, this race is just about having fun. Finally they called us out to the race briefing and to start. 
Top of Copper Mountain
Photo by Vertical Runner

Then we were off. The first couple miles were a series of switchbacks right up the front of the mountain. It was mostly singletrack and super runnable. I ran the first 5 miles at a pretty consistent pace. Then you hit the top of Reso and from there we climbed to the top of Copper Mountain via Storm King. Stevie and the lead marathon men came charging by us at that point and I was amazed how fast they were all going. I have found memories of riding this t-bar so running up was quite the experience. I tagged the flag, took in the 360 view of Vail Pass and Sky Valley and started back down. It was a scramble up the last mile and even as a good downhill runner I was reduced to barely faster than a hike over the loose rocks. I had made the first climb and downhill pretty close to my goal times and aside from a tight hip flexor I was really feeling good. 
Top of Copper Mountain
Photo by Vertical Runner

Back up to the top of Copper Mountain. I forced myself to run almost the whole way back to the top of Reso before scrambling back to the top. The guy in front of me on the scramble stopped twice to take everything in and each time he did so it was like a silent reminder to myself to look around, to enjoy the views and appreciate it all. I mean this is why we do these climbs right? Back down we went. 

I quickly began to realize the miles I had on my Garmin were not matching what I was expecting. As I crossed across Copper toward Union Peak I asked the mileage at an aid station. They said they were at 16 miles, bewildered I read 20 on my watch. I knew something seemed amiss. I had been thinking I was in 2nd, as had the guy I was running with, Jordan, but on the second climb up Copper Mountain a girl that had been nearly 2 miles behind me was suddenly ahead. For a moment I thought maybe she wasn't feeling good and was just coming down from her first climb when I was on my second. But now that I was showing 4 miles long for the course I assumed I had gotten off course. But the group guys I had been running with the whole morning had run every step I had and we had seen flags the whole way. 

Top of Copper Mountain
Photo by Vertical Runner
After another awesome downhill we traversed across toward Union Peak. It was relatively flat and not technical so I was able to keep a pretty good pace here. Clouds were starting to move in and I was really just hoping to get up and down Union as quick as possible to avoid any storms.
I still don't know what happened, but we're guessing we may have done an extra loop out of an aid station. We hit most aid stations several times so it would have been easy to leave in the wrong direction. At aid station at the bottom of Union Peak I asked again and I was still 4 miles long. I started climbing up to Union saddle and was pleasantly surprised by how runnable this climb was. I had prepared myself for a doozy. I soon spotted the girl that had mysteriously gone from 2 miles behind to 2 miles ahead of me, but she was now less than half a mile ahead. I was determined to catch her. Jordan also saw her and said there was no way he was going to let her beat me. 
Top of Copper Mountain
Photo by Vertical Runner

Now it was on and I charged down Union saddle on a mission to catch the girl. I was determined to hold onto the podium and finish this race racing. I got into the aid station at the same time as the girl. Jordan was right behind me and asked if anyone else mentioned having ran an extra 4 miles. They said yeah quite a few people have. The girl just stopped and turned saying that she was wondering how she had gotten ahead of us. I slammed a coke and took off with Jordan right on my heels pushing me to keep going faster. We quickly hit the last aid station where they said everyone had run an extra 4 miles, but that swore it was only 2.5 miles to the finish. I, in a very nice way, told them they had better not be lying. I swear all aid station volunteers lie about distance left and hills. Probably to keep you positive, but after spending the last 11 miles having no idea how much was left I wanted to know exactly what we had left. 

3rd Place
Photo by Vertical Runner
Jordan and I continued to charge downhill. From the last aid station we basically just had to make our way back down the switchbacks to the main village. I was beginning to remember each of the switchbacks from a few hours earlier and knew we were almost there. Some kids were rockin' the small railyard as we came flying down and I chuckled thinking about how many broken bones I had suffered at the hands of Copper rails. But the railyard meant we were at the village. I came around the corner from the last switchback and just took off for the finish line. I ended up with a total of 29.03 miles and 5:32:23. 

I found out a few minutes later that Stevie Kremer had decided to switch to the full so I ended up in 3rd. I certainly can't complain about losing to Stevie or Sarah, who is a former Salomon runner. Overall a great day and a great course. My goal was top 5 and sub-5:00. I figure without the extra 4 miles I would have been sub-5:00 so I can't really be disappointed by that, plus I got some extra training in. And 3rd place? In the money? That was more than I expected for a Skyrunner event. Sure there weren't very many runners, but still. I definitely have my confidence back and am now trying to figure out how to get Five Guys burgers to Steamboat for before Run Rabbit. 

Week July 21 - 27

Miles Running: 52.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 10.5





Monday, July 21, 2014

Rationalizing

Playing in the lake
It felt good to finally get back to a full training week. It was a crazy week of therapies and work meetings, but after a few low mileage weeks my legs were screaming to get back to running. It was not easy to log the miles this week. A lot of 4:30 am wake up calls to get in 3 miles in the neighborhood. Then it was either meet Dan at Apex for another morning run or head to Apex for an afternoon run. I didn't have any super exciting runs, but each day on the trail I was happy I had managed to get out.

Even though these two-a-days weren't huge workouts I could still feel it in my legs by Friday. Friday morning James had a cardiology follow-up, everything is still looking stable so just keep following-up. But it meant no Friday long run. Even without a long run this week I still managed 55.5 miles which was no easy feat! And with a marathon with around 6k of vert next weekend a week off of a long run is probably just what the coach ordered. This weekend was filled with Bear Creek miles pushing James. Dan had just done a Hope double so I was stuck with nearly every stroller mile. I kept telling myself that the extra 30lbs I was pushing would pay off at Run Rabbit. Those hills will seem so much easier when it's just me right? We did stop and let James play in the lake on Saturday. He seemed to have an absolute blast! He kept stomping in the water and was laughing like crazy.

Bear Creek Lake Park
Dan and I were also back on house duty and this time we finally got around to staining the deck. I also figure it must count for something when after a 12 mile running pushing James I spend the next several hours working in the yard. Maybe that's just my way of rationalizing not having a long run. Regardless I can't be upset about this weeks training. I got in the miles and even managed some vert. I felt really good too so I think a few low mileage weeks was actually good for my training, again maybe just me rationalizing the low mileage. But really my legs felt good and I was running fast for me times at a pretty easy effort level.

James' walking has been getting better and better. He's even starting to reach out for your hand if you hold your hand out. Seeing him reach for my hand is one of those small moments that means the world to me. Maybe it's because he's not calling me mom yet, or maybe a hundred other reasons, but reaching out for my hand and walking along side me meant the world to me and melted my heart. 

Pool Party!
Week July 14 - 20

Miles Running: 55.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 10