Friday, June 19, 2015

Dan's Quad Rock 50 Race Report

Cheering for Dad
I love Quad Rock, so as we were planning our race schedules this year this was a tough one to let go. But I knew it would probably be a struggle for me to get through even the 25 in May, much less at the re-scheduled June date. And as much as I hate running in the heat it was still a bit sad to watch everyone else run these beloved trails. So needless to say this year was Dan's turn to run Quad Rock...and what a year for that.

We knew it would be hot, everyone knew it would be hot, its Fort Collins in June...that just means hot. But I'm not sure how many people were really prepared for the heat. It has been a crazy spring and went from snow to 90 seemingly overnight. But we knew what to expect. We got up to Fort Collins Saturday afternoon, took James on a short hike around Horsetooth and packed Dan's gear. The early 3:00 am wake up call came Sunday morning and Dan was ready to go. Sandra picked him up, I waved goodbye and hoped I could catch a few more minutes of sleep. Being left to watch James all day by yourself is no easy task, pretty much a toss up between running Quad Rock and being on toddler duty...Quad Rock easily winning the quiet, peaceful side of that argument. 
3:45 am gearing up

James must have known what the day was bringing because he was up and at 'em early and ready to go. We headed to the Horsetooth AS at mile 10 to go meet Sandra and Dan. Sandra arrived about 1-2 min ahead of Dan and both were looking good. Granted it was only mile 10 and 60F...everyone was still pretty much looking good. James was in heaven cheering for every runner that came through. And by the time Dan left and we were packing up he was in full blown toddler tantrum mode that we were not staying. After Horsetooth we headed to Arthurs at mile 17.5. James was ready with his cowbell making sure no runner was missed as he ran up and down the trail cheering. Dan came through still on a great pace; we loaded him up and promised to see him at the turnaround. By now James was getting the hang of it so no tantrum leaving.

As we waited at the start/finish, mile 25, James shoveled sand into the fire pit, through a fit when he wasn't allowed to play with the charcoal, and the temperatures rose. Dan came through at 5:25, basically right on his target, but with the heat there it was going to be tough to keep up that pace. We covered Dan in ice, down his back, in his pack, his hat, literally wherever you could get ice we tried to put it. We refilled calories and fluids, James gave lots of hugs and kisses and cheers and then Dan was back at it, heading up into the mountains. 
25 mile turn-around

While Sandra and Dan headed out into the heat of the day James and I headed back to the cabin for a nap...well according to my plans we were going to nap...according to James a 20 min nap on the ride was sufficient. This was about the time the day was turning for all of us I guess. After a failed attempt at getting James back to sleep we were back waiting at Horsetooth. By now it was really hot and runners were much fewer and farther in between. In case Dan stayed on pace we got there early, but as expected he had fallen off so we were waiting awhile. 

Of course this ended up being the highlight of my day as we met a young girl, Margo, waiting for her mom. She was immediately taken with James, I mean  how could you not be. But she was in love and James loved playing with her as well. At one point James was on her lap and just looked at her and asked where Dad? I was ecstatic that he had verbally asked, he signed Dad as well, but it was a verbal question. It took her a couple seconds and then she said he's coming, he's coming from up there and pointed up the trail. James smiled and kept looking for him. Margo looked at me and said you know he's kinda hard to understand, but if you just listen you can totally get what he's saying. I knew she had no idea how the impact her innocent words had on me, but it was all I could do not to cry and hug her. If only all kids and really adults for that matter, could take the time to listen and get James and what all he has to say. I was never sure if Margo knew James was delayed at all or how to explain Down syndrome to her so I just let it go for the day. Just let them have fun and be innocent kids without any of the extra labels. 
Arthur's TH the finish line is in sight

When Dan finally made his way down the trail James was ecstatic showering him in hugs and cheers! Margo was amazing as she immediately became the babysitter in charge, making sure James didn't run into the parking lot or throw rocks at any of the dogs while I geared Dan up for the last 10 miles. I can't tell you how much easier she made things by spending a bit of time with James so we could get Dan in and out. Dan was definitely looking a bit more ragged as the heat had taken its toll, but he had 10 miles, there was no way I was letting him quit now. While we waited it had been a steady stream of reports on people who had dropped and what I was hearing was the drop rate was somewhere around 40-50%. The AS was littered with runners dropping or debating dropping so I just wanted to get Dan back on that trail. 
Guess I need to find some toddler
Pear Izumis!

Then it was back to Arthur's, at mile 48, where James pet his first real horse. He was definitely taken aback at how big it was, but not too scared. We listened to more numbers being called out over the radio of drops and the rate was now definitely about 50%. I got a message from Sandra's sister that she had  just finished in 3rd which was totally amazing! She had pushed hard all day and deserved a podium finish for her effort! Dan came through and we pushed him off toward the finish line you could see in the distance. He seemed less than pleased that this wasn't already the finish line, but it was at least in sight. 

The finish line was crazy...there were so few people left. Normally at this point its full of weary runners drinking and the music kicking into gear. But there were so few runners finishing even James wasn't too excited by the finish...there was no one to cheer for. Dan came through a few minutes later, about an hour behind where he had wanted to finish, but that was what seemed par for the day. Nearly everyone that had finished previously was an hour behind their times which tells me Dan was right on where he wanted to be. And regardless finishing a race in those conditions with a drop rate that high is a huge accomplishment. And really the heat wasn't anything a little hamburger, beer and a nice shower couldn't fix. All in all it was another great Quad Rock, easily one of the best run races I've every ran or crewed. I can't wait to be back next year. It also got me really excited to be able to get back to training soon. Some 14 weeks until RRR100...time to step it up and get excited about racing again.

Week June 14 - 20

Miles Running: 28.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 6
25 mile turn-around


Heading back out for the 2nd lap

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dinosaur Stomp and Magic

This week I felt like I was starting to get back to consistent running. Well consistently slow, low mileage running. I feel like I've been tapering for months and am starting to get antsy. No long run since Cheyenne...will that be enough? Really I think I have this fear no matter where my training is at. Technically my mileage is still slightly over where I was last year, I've had more quality long runs and I've even done hill work. Granted that was months ago, but that is certainly more than I did last year. All I can do now is stay consistent, trust that a long, very long taper will end up being good for my legs and trust that I will be able to get in some really fun treadmill and stroller miles this summer. 14 weeks until Run Rabbit Run...
Light reading before bed

I did also finally get back to Apex and logging some vertical this week. That was only slightly depressing. I mean really my times are only about 4 minutes slower on the uphill to the top of Apex, but man it feels so slow. The best part was I was able to get out in the mornings to avoid the heat. I love getting in those morning runs! It just seems to make everything better!

And in James news our terrible two year old transitioned to a terrible three year old. Man this age is exhausting! Its super fun to see his personality come out....but...well let's just say by the end of the day I really wish I could have a beer or three or five. Last week I got the eye roll and a whatever!!! On one hand I was near tears hearing him say such a big word and having almost a conversation leading up to the whatever, but really when did my 3 year old turn 13? I thought I had a few years before this set in. James has been super vocal lately. He's requesting things...and not just music, but he'll request certain songs, certain foods, toys, sometimes even bed! 
Dinosaur stomp...and yes now anytime James sees
Klennex boxes they get put on his feet...
 

And in the long drawn out saga of preschool I've finally made the decision not to send James to public preschool next year. In a way it's defeating. After all the horror stories about IEPs I really got what I wanted for James in terms of the classroom and amount of therapy. But the only spot open in the district for him is an afternoon class. The teachers said he'd adjust to no nap...I don't believe it, but not only that I won't adjust to no nap for a 3 year old. That's aside from the fact that the school has two tier 2 classrooms in the afternoon. Granted I only saw this year's classes, but one was as expected 16 kids, 6 on IEPs. The second classroom was 6 kids...all in IEPs. That's not a tier 2 classroom! And of course the only boy with Ds in either room was in the 6 kid room. So yes they're technically following the laws about a tier 2 room, but it's not. It's not the environment I want for James or think is best for him. That's why I didn't want him in tier 3. And of course you don't get a say in which room your kid is in...it magically happens. So magically it just worked out that the 6 kid room has 6 kids in IEPs...sure...magic. After a lot of internal debate and talking to multiple therapists, the pediatrician and the pediatrician and social worker at the Sie Center I decided the best thing for James was to keep him right where he's at. It's more work for me, to get him to private therapy and do more home therapy, but I have no doubt this is what is best for him. It's tough because it feels like for the past 3 years I've been preparing to send him to public school for preschool. That's what you're told you're supposed to do. You fight for an IEP and then off he goes. But then you get there and realize maybe that's not the best option, maybe it's not the only option. There's no easy answer and probably no right answer. So I'm just going to stick with my gut and I can always change things if they aren't working later. But James dressed up like a dinosaur at school and roared and stomped with all the other kids...that's massive progress for him so damn it I'm sticking with it!

Beautiful morning run at Apex

Week June 7 - 13

Miles Running: 37.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 7.5
Rockin' our EKG...and refusing to take off the stickers...they came home with us

Making progress on the long road back to eating

Ironkids training!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cheyenne Mountain 50k Race Report

I went into the Cheyenne Mountain 50k with a very different mindset than is typical for me. This race wasn't about a PR or a podium, it wasn't about running fast...it was about finishing. Not because it was early season, I wasn't injured or burned out...nope this was just a different race...it was all about forward progress and proving I could do it.
Podium finish at Cheyenne Mountain 50k

I stood at the starting line inching further back trying to determine where was a good place to start. I wasn't used to lining up like this. Hugged Sandra, wished the other PI runner, Josh, good luck and then we were off. As we climbed up the road a bit I tried to remind myself to keep my heart rate slow and steady. We filed onto the single track and I managed to find my rhythm. Sandra and Josh both went on ahead and I sat back ready for the steadiest day of running ever...or so that was my goal. I cruised up the first climb pretty well and then headed down a short downhill before the trail started rolling. Another little climb and a good downhill back to the start/finish. Okay so far so good. Not a stellar pace, but I was still feeling good and moving fairly well. 

As I left the aid station and headed out passed the little park I saw a guy standing on the side of the trail looking straight at me. I don't know who that woman is, but someone needs to pull her off the course. I would never let my wife be out here like that! I just smiled and waved as I prepared myself for the next climb. It was starting to get a big hot as we wound through some exposed terrain before the climb really got going. Really this climb isn't much, but compared to the rest of the course this is the big climb. After a couple miles we tucked back into the cool comfort of the trees. Just passed the next aid station I caught up to the woman in front of me. As we looped around back to that aid station we chatted a bit and I knew I was doing well. I could hold a conversation easily so my heart rate and breathing were right where they needed to be. A quick glance at my watch and I realized I was going to hit the mid-point ahead of my 3 hr goal time. But I felt good so I was going with it. Back at the aid station I left the woman behind as I easily cruised back down to the start/finish area. This was a perfect downhill. Soft trails, great grade everything that makes running easy. 

Dan and James were waiting for me at the mid-point. Briefly on the first loop I had begun to question if I was overdoing it and should I just stop at 25k and call it a good run. But I got into the 25k mark at 2:50, ahead of schedule and feeling like I could keep going. So I thought I'll keep going. If things start falling apart I can always stop at another point. Just keep going as long as you feel good and your legs can keep moving forward. 

I caught up to Josh a mile or so back up the trail. He was having stomach issues and I walked with him for a minute, told him puking was just part of it so get it out and keep going forward. No need to drop because of a little puke. By now I was still running okay, but I was definitely feeling it. I walked a few of the uphills and I began to wonder again if I should keep going. I did a once over check, heart rate still low, breathing okay, legs a bit tired and definitely aren't climbing like they used to be able to, but really no reason to stop other than that I was being whiny. And I thought...you know there are a lot of people out there who wish they could be in my shoes, who would love to keep moving forward no matter how uncomfortable it is so why am I here complaining? Its a great day, great trails, everyone other than the park guy has been amazingly supportive so just keep moving forward for all those who can't. So that's what I continued to do. 
Coming up the finish line

I was pretty sure I was in 4th with no chance of catching the next woman, but I was fine with that. Fourth was better than I expected and as long as I didn't come in last that was fine with me. So I just kept trucking along. Dan and James were waiting for me at the knuckle before I headed out for the last 8 miles. Nothing like a little James hug to motivate you to run a bit faster. It was nice to run a race where you could take an extra minute for a bear hug because you weren't worried about time. I chugged some coke, refilled my fluids and headed back out for the final climb. I hit the aid station at the top with lots of high fives, rounded the top loop and started the downhill. I normally would love a long downhill to the finish, crave it actually and just bomb down. But in my current state downhills have been reduced to a slow and controlled braking. I hate it. I just want to cruise like normal. But that was not happening so I made my way down the long decent and wound through the scrub brush before I found myself gleefully running across the bridge to the finish. 

I was smiling ear to ear as I crossed that bridge knowing I had proven I could do it. It wasn't fast and it wasn't pretty, but 50k at 30 weeks...check! And then Sandra came over with a hug claiming I was 3rd...what? really? no that's impossible...In any other year this slow pace would have barely put me in the top 10, but I guess you never know who's going to show up or what will happen if you just get out there and run. 

Since the race my motivation has dwindled and I've started my couple month taper. Not to mention the monsoon that has hit Colorado, wiped out trails, bike paths, roads, obliterated every trail runners motivation and left the trail running community in a pit of despair. Needless to say my mileage has been lackluster and I long for the day I can run smooth and easy again.

Week April 20 - 26
Miles Running: 46.0

Week April 27- May 3
Miles Running: 26.0

Week May 4 - 10
Miles Running: 25.5

Week May 11 - 17
Miles Running: 36.0

Week May 18 - 24
Miles Running: 27.8

Week May 25 - 31
Miles Running: 30.0