Monday, May 20, 2019

NORAD Trail Marathon; Back on Track?

Had a very solid race on Sunday at the NORAD Trail Marathon at Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs. Put on by Mad Moose Events, it's a figure-8 course with 4,000 feet of climbing that you run twice. Cheyenne Mountain is where NORAD is located--hence the race's name. So a pretty cool location.

I know the course quite well as I've run several races there over the years (including the Cheyenne Mountain 50K and the Xterra Trail Marathon), meaning going into Sunday I knew where to press it hard and where to take my foot off the gas pedal. Experience was on my side in spades. That said, I've kind of tired of the course over the years--there's just nothing on it that is new to me. But it is beautiful and on Sunday I really tried take it in.

My decision to enter the race was pretty last-minute...as in I registered at the table the morning of the event. I had checked with the race directors a few days earlier and they confirmed I could register on-site. That said, when my alarm went off at 4:30 on Sunday morning, I decided right then and there to bag the race and get some more sleep. It had been a busy week at work and I needed more rest. So I turned off my alarm and closed my eyes.

But then regret crept over me and I got out of bed and went through the motions of getting ready. I ate breakfast and had my coffee and then out the door I went, driving to Colorado Springs with very low expectations and, quite honestly, not a great attitude. The temperature on the drive down was in the high 30s. That's what I call "no excuse racing weather."

In truth, what was really holding me back was my flagging confidence as a runner. It has been a tough two years, and the last thing I wanted on Sunday morning was to drive down to Colorado Springs and endure a 26.2-mile death march where I hated every step because I can't race the way I used to race.

I am so glad to ran the race! Right out of the gate--trying to use my experience to my advantage--I opted to keep my effort at MAF and only allowed myself to exceed MAF if I was toward the top of a climb and knew I'd soon be on a descent. I was quite strong over the entire race, actually running the second loop stronger than the first. I lost no strength; in fact, I got stronger with the miles. I was especially strong on the descents and I was quite surprised by my climbing. My average heart rate for the entire race was 138. On a few climbs, I allowed by HR to get into the 150s but only near the top when I knew I was able to level off.

Running the whole thing at MAF was a good decision. Back in my 30s and early 40s, I had the fitness to go out hard and know I could hold it. I am still fit but not like I was in my 30s and early 40s. So it's better to go out conservatively, hold the effort at MAF and let the race come to you--which is what I did on Sunday. I passed several runners during the second loop.

I finished 6th overall out of only 38 starters, with a time of 4 hours and 20 minutes. Not bad for a course with 4,000 feet of climbing on rocky trails! I even got a 90% finish on Ultrasignup! Good to be back into the 90s!

Just like that, I'm feeling good about my fitness with the Burning River 100 now about two months away. I just put in my second consecutive week of 70+ miles. I just started Optygen and it seems to be kicking in. I am confident that, going into June, a couple of weeks of 80+ miles and at least one week at 90+ miles is all feasible. Hell, I might even be able to squeeze in a 100-mile week if I play my cards right (not counting on it).

That should set me up nicely for a Burning River 100 that I can run with confidence...and at MAF :-).

Friday, May 17, 2019

Aging

I am going to admit that I'm struggling with aging. I have friends who seem to be aging like a fine wine and yet here I am really struggling with it.

A few weeks ago, I ran a 19:07 5K--the first time in a LONG time I have not broken 19 minutes in a 5K. Admittedly, my 5K was run in Atlanta and it was super humid that day. Plus, the course had some rollers to it. But I always break 19 minutes and it wasn't that long ago that I was consistently breaking 18 minutes. Now here I am running 19 and change, barely able to hold sub sub-6-minute miles. It's hard to deal with...even though in that 5K a few weeks ago I was top Master's Runner and finished 3rd overall and walked away with a nice medal. Three or four years ago, it would have been an outright win as the winner, who was a teenager, ran mid-18 (which is slow for a 5K winner).

I definitely think I can break 19 again. I've restarted hill repeats and tempo runs--gotta use it or lose it as you age, as they say.

And then there is the Burning River 100 on July 27...... Ten years ago, I would have been thinking about winning or podiuming this race (I was always very ambitious and sometimes it paid off). In my head, I still feel like those are realistic--and yet in actuality they are not. Some guy who runs 100+ miles a week and is 28 year-old will win. I will be in the mid-pack. I am 45 and slowing down. In 2009, one of my closest friends, Tim Clement, won Burning River at age 47. I am not Tim. If I break 24 hours at Burning River this year, I will be thrilled.

My biggest regret in life is working too hard in a "real job" and being too responsible when I was in my 20s. Knowing what I know now, how I wish I'd gotten into ultrarunning when I was 24 or 25. When you are that young and training hard, it is amazing what the body will give you. Even at ages 35 or 36, my body gave me so much. It almost never failed me and it responded so well to the training load.

Jim Walmsley is on another planet as far as talent but, when I watch him run, I see the beauty of youth. Jim is 29 and he runs like a gazelle over distances of 50 or 100 miles. It is incredible to watch.

So I am struggling with aging. It's not easy. Oh, it has its benefits. I'm so much wiser than I was...more wise in life than on the run. When I see a "young person" making a mistake, I want to help them and usually I can if they are receptive to it. But I have not (yet) reached the point as a runner where I can use my wisdom and experience to compensate for my physical decline. Which is a nice way of saying I'm a bit of a head case at current.

I hope my ability to use my life experience in positive ways on the run comes. Right now, I'm in transition. Mentally, I still feel like a fast young buck. I need to accept what is happening and leverage my experience as a runner and recognize that experience has pluses to it just as fresh, young legs have pluses to them. I feel that experience can be leveraged to compensate for aging, to an extent, but I have yet to figure that out.

I am excited about Burning River and overall my training is going well. Come Memorial Day weekend, I'll have a little more time to train, giving me about 6 solid weeks to hit it hard and get ready.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Training Update / Inspiration from Yiannis Kouros

Training for the Burning River 100 (July 27) is going well so far. This week marked my third consecutive 60+ mile week and third consecutive Sunday with 20+ miles. Building the base....

Plus, I've dropped a few pounds, which is nice as over the winter I got up to about 173 pounds. As you age, the battle of the bulge is real! I think the pounds have come off for two reason: I'm running more, and I'm watching what I eat. Hummus is now a go-to staple. Back when I was running competitively, I ate a ton of hummus.

Also, I'm back to daily planks and I can tell they're working!

All in all, I'm feeling good.

I anticipate I'll be at 70 miles/week next month (May) and 80+ in June. I am hoping for at least one week of 100+ miles, which I feel I can do but it'll require some lunch-time runs at work and probably a day off (not easy with my schedule). I'm gradually introducing quality into the mix. All of this should be enough to have me ready for the big race on July 27.

I really believe that I can finish Burning River in under 20 hours...if my stomach holds together.

It's nice knowing I can train for Burning River off my doorstep! But I am getting the itch to hit the trails in a week or two. It's mud season in Colorado and we're still getting snow now and then, leaving the trails nasty. I'm not much for mud running so I imagine it'll be May before I'm hitting the trails with decent frequency. I'm envisioning some great runs in my favorite locations--Mount Falcon, Deer Creek Canyon, Roxborough State Park, Indian Creek loop and various sections of the Colorado Trail. But since my big 100 is flat and fast, no pressure to train in the mountains. Just go when I want/can.

It's not easy training for 100 when I have a full-time job, a family and ever-increasing responsibilities on the home front--I feel pulled in many directions every day. As children age, life becomes more complicated and problems more consequential. For the most part, it's easy when they're little. Not so easy when they become pre-teens about to enter middle school. It's because of all of that and more that I decided last summer that I can't run Leadville anymore--or at least for the next few years. It requires too much time away from home.

Last night, I watched "Forever Running," a super inspiring documentary about Yiannis Kouros. It has been a while since I'd watched it. Says Yiannis in the documentary: "The verb ‘endure’ is not a physical verb, it's a spiritual one. Endure means to withstand…you must be patient and then do solid training. Without patience, you will never conquer endurance."

So true...and so inspiring:

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Burning River 100, Here I Come

Yeah, I realize I fell off the wagon with my daily run updates. This happened for two reasons:

1) I have been really, really busy and posting daily updates just hasn't been a priority. Plus, I've been traveling a fair amount but am back home and, wow, does it feel good.
2) There were few clicks on my daily updates. No one, it seems, reads blogs much anymore, which is sad. That said, my Syncroblogger entry got tons of clicks.

So I signed up for the Burning River 100, which is July 27. Burning River was my first 100 in 2007. Except pacing some friends in latter years, including my old pal Tim Clement to his overall win in 2008, I have not raced an inch of that course since 2007. Due to some construction going on in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, some major changes are coming to the course this year--changes that are not ideal as the course temporarily goes to out and back versus point to point. Yeah, sucks. Then again, Burning River just "feels" right and I can't explain why. I'm sure it has to do with going back to where it all started for me and at the same time seeing old friends. I weighed it against Javelina and Tunnel Hill and Burning River just feels good and the timing is perfect.

To say my training since January has been inconsistent would be an understatement. I have gotten out and run every day but I've been "consistently inconsistent" in terms of how I feel on a day to day basis--a product of aging. So we'll see how my training for Burning River goes. I tend to start feeling consistently better once spring is upon us and the weather warms up. As of now, I am not prepared for Burning River. But, I have a very deep base and something to work with.

I have 3 months of solid training I need to get in! That is not much! But, as Burning River is a "flat and fast" 100 (with very little technical terrain compared to what we have here in Colorado), I feel like what I need to do with my training is attainable. No pressure to go to the mountains to run. No pressure to hit the hills. Yeah, I'll be doing all of the above but only for pleasure within my training--not because it's "required." To execute a solid day at Burning River, I will need two things:

1) Lots of endurance
2) Economy

Oh yeah, and enduring heat and humidity.

On a course as flat at Burning River, there is going to be a lot of running required. There will be some hills but not many--really just speed bumps compared to what we have in Colorado. This will be about who can run 100 miles. I have done that before but it requires a lot of conditioning--a lot! So, time gods on my side, I plan to get my volume up to over 90 miles per week on peak weeks. If the time gods really cooperate, it would be awesome to get in at least one 100-mile week.

Currently, the only race I have signed up for between now and Burning River is North Fork 50K on June 1. I may up it to 50 miles--we'll see. I may also add Cheyenne Mountain 50K in late April. Both of these races involve way more climbing than Burning River but finding flat ultras in Colorado isn't exactly easy. They will help condition me and I will make the best of them.

Although I have struggled mightily with the 100-mile distance in the past two years, I really believe I have a few more decent 100s in me. I just have to pick the right courses and do the work to be ready. Burning River feels right.

So it's on!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Today's Run - Sunday, 2/24

My folks are visiting and we wanted to go to church so I got up earlier than usual and busted out 12 miles in 99 minutes. A little sluggish and the long grind up Canterberry Parkway worked me over. The trails are all covered with snow so had to stay on the roads.

Then in the afternoon went to the gym with the wife and got in another 4.5 miles on the treadmill. Felt very fresh on the treadmill.

Ended the week with 60.1 miles. Another 60+ week. Would like to get a 70 or two in March.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Runs for 2/19-2/22 - Cold!

Overall, I have felt solid this week, even as it has been really cold.

Tuesday: 7 miles in 56 minutes on the dot on the treadmill. Was about 10 degrees and icy outside so opted for the 'mill. Last mile in 6:58--easy effort.

Wednesday: Once again opted for the treadmill as it was 6 degrees and icy outside. 6.7 miles in 56 minutes. Didn't feel as great as Tuesday but a solid workout.

Thursday: Decided to get outside and ran 6.7 miles in over 57 minutes. Holy crap--it was cold. That was the coldest 12 degrees I may have ever felt! Plus, the wind...… Just tried to stay upright and alive.

Friday: Oh, how the "warmer" 19 degrees felt so much better. 6.8 miles in just under 57 minutes. Felt good and fresh.

I also managed decent walks with the dog on Wednesday and Thursday nights. I am trying to get in more PM walks to de-stress from work, help the family dog see the world and burn some calories.

My big problem right now is that I'm getting out the door too late in the mornings. Between having to gear up for the cold and just not being into the cold and dark, my cheerfulness with heading out to get in at least 65 minutes per run just isn't there. This is about discipline.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Then and Now: What’s Changed in Ultrarunning in the 10 Years Since the First Synchroblog

I have been invited to participate in the latest "Synchroblog" project. How exciting!

What is the "Syncroblog" project? Craig Thornley, aka "Lord Balls" (who is also race director for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run), explains here on his "Conduct the Juices" blog. The topic for this latest Synchroblog installment is "Then and Now: What's Changed in Ultrarunning in the 10 Years Since the First Syncroblog?" and joining in this topic are Craig, Scott Dunlap, Andy Jones-Wilkins and Sean Meissner. As far as I can tell, the first Synchroblog published on January 15, 2009.

Those who have been in ultrarunning since 2009 know A LOT has changed in the last 10 years, starting with the emergence of social media--now a dominant force in society. I ran my first marathon in 2004 and my first ultra in 2005 and in those days social media didn't really exist. In 2009, a growing number of folks were starting blogs and joining Facebook.

Putting aside the many changes that have occurred in my own running life in the past 10 years--namely going from a 35-year-old runner consistently putting in 100-mile weeks, running sub-3-hour marathons, and competing for wins and podium finishes to a 45-year-old dude who, while still fairly strong (all things considered), is definitely slowing down--I am going to focus this entry on...the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run.


I am going to show--or at least try to show--that 2009 was a pivotal year for the Leadville 100--a year that changed the course of the race for at least the next decade. But it wasn't just the year that changed the trajectory of the race; it was also a specific history-changing day: May 5, 2009.

Further below, I am also going to list some proposed improvements that I hope the Leadville 100 organizers will consider to make the race even better in the next 10 years.

But first, let's go back in time, shall we?

What Happened on May 5, 2009?
In 2009, Leadville locals Ken Chlouber and Merilee Maupin co-owned and operated the Leadville Race Series. They founded the Leadville 100 run in 1983. As the "jewel" in the spectacular Leadville Race Series "crown," the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run in the 2000s annually drew about 450 starters--among them uber-competitive athletes. These were the days of Anton Krupicka's dominance. Anton's legend grew from his shirtless, seemingly effortless wins in Leadville. He reportedly slept in a public restroom the night before his 2006 win.

The course back then had some key differences, though fundamentally it remains the same. Back in those days, you ran through the Halfmoon Campground (about miles ~25 and 75) and up and back down the dusty Winfield Road (miles ~48-52). Plus, the Leadville National Fish Hatchery was an aid station at miles 23.5 and 76.5 (it has since been replaced with the Outward Bound station). Quick aside on the removal of the Halfmoon section: a fatal Blackhawk helicopter crash, only days before the 2009 race, forced this change. I have never understood why the course has never gone back to the Halfmoon section.

So what happened on May 5, 2009...a day that marked a new era for the Leadville 100--an era that some say has been good and others say has been bad? On May 5, 2009, a blockbuster book by journalist Christopher McDougall came out. Entitled Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, the book would go on to sell over 3 million copies.


I will spare you a detailed overview of BTR--because you have probably already read it--but among its many stories were tails of some truly legendary Leadville 100 races in the mid-1990s, when Ann Trason endured epic showdowns against huarache-wearing Tarahumara Indians for the win. Adding to the intrigue, the book also told the story of how and why the Leadville 100 was founded in 1983.

Born to Run not only delivered Leadville to a mass audience; it also launched the relatively short-lived barefoot running boom. Anyone who ran the Leadville 100 from 2010 to about 2014 can recount many runners on the course wearing either Vibram FiveFingers or huaraches...or perhaps nothing on their feet.

The fame and intrigue that Born to Run brought to not only the Leadville 100 but also the town of Leadville could not possibly be overstated. A phenomenon, McDougall's book captured lightening in the "Leadville bottle." And this is reflected in the race registration numbers. In the 2009 race, with BTR only out 3 months, the Leadville 100 drew 498 starters--not far off from average but still the highest number in its history up to that point. Here's what happened in the next 9 years:
  • 2009: 498 starters
  • 2010: 647 starters (I registered in May)
  • 2011: 625 starters (closed out in January)
  • 2012: 795 starters (closed out in January)
  • 2013: 943 starters (closed out in January)
  • 2014: 672 starters (lottery instated))
  • 2015: 637 starters (lottery)
  • 2016: 650 starters (lottery)
  • 2017: 606 starters (lottery)
  • 2018: 712 starters (lottery)
As you can see, the Leadville 100 experienced a huge surge in registrations starting in 2010--as well as in web interest. From 2009 to 2010, it saw a 30% increase in its starting field. The 2013 race saw nearly double the number of starters as compared to 2009. If you're wondering why the precipitous drop-off in numbers after '13, we'll get to that shortly..... But the surge in interest was so steep that in 2014 the race instituted a lottery, now drawing thousands annually.

New Ownership
The surge in registrations for and interest in the Leadville 100 was only part of Born to Run's impact. The book almost overnight increased the "value" of the Leadville 100 and larger race series to the extent that suitors stepped forward with interest in buying the budding enterprise owned and operated by locals Chlouber and Maupin since 1983. Among those suitors was Life Time Fitness, a publicly-traded fitness club company.

In 2010--my first Leadville 100--Life Time purchased the race series from Chlouber and Maupin for an amount I have never been able to confirm. I ran in the last Maupin/Chlouber-owned Leadville 100 run on August 21, 2010. Quick note: Also in that race was the CEO of Life Time, who came up short in finishing the 100 in under 30 hours to score Leadman distinction.

Overall, Life Time did a solid job with the 2011 and 2012 races, though in 2012 it made a significant last-second course change, subbing in a new trail section between the near-bottom of Hope Pass and the Winfield aid station (where you turn around). While this change enhanced runner safety, the organizers announced it only a few days before the race, angering many runners who felt blindsided.

2013 Race
The 2013 race, which ended up being one of my best Leadville 100s, brought disaster to the "brand." Probably eager to cash in on the race's 30th anniversary and ongoing interest from BTR, Life Time let in many more runners than in previous years--a rumored 1,200 registered, with 943 at the starting line the morning of the race. Not only was the out-and-back course super crowded but many aid stations ran out of water and other key provisions. Plus, with many newbies on a course that is not appropriate for inexperienced ultrarunners, littering proved a problem. The 2013 race was a disaster.

In the aftermath of the 2013 race, the Hardrock Hundred dropped Leadville as a qualifier, accusing Life Time of failing to adhere to good practices related to "environmental responsibility, support of the hosting community, and having a positive impact on the health of our sport."

Understand that, going into 2013, there were rumors of Life Time marketing the Leadville 100 in its clubs nationwide. It also had instituted some really questionable promotional programs, such as a "CEO Challenge." Life Time had made the huge mistake of trying to further democratize a high-altitude, mountainous race that was/is really more appropriate for experienced runners, not your garden-variety gym rats. I am not saying that to be condescending. I am merely being straight-up that there is hard and even really hard...and then the Leadville 100. 

Transparency
In the wake of the 2013 running, Life Time instituted a lottery and began "capping" the field but few still know what the cap really is. Whereas with races like Western States and Hardrock, you know the caps, with Leadville you do not. My guess is around 775 to 800 starters, understanding that 10%-20% will no-show.

Additionally, with the lottery, which began with the 2014 race, Life Time never really explained its criteria, as compared to Western States, which is very transparent with its lottery. The Leadville lottery has never taken place in public. It is a process that, in my opinion, is in need of more transparency.

Life Time Bought
In early 2015, private equity firms TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners purchased Life Time Fitness. With this purchase, Life Time became a private company.

Today, the race series is still owned by Life Time but rumors of its sale abound. Meanwhile, strange and seemingly off-brand sponsors have come on board, like Century Link, making some of us wonder if Life Time's investment in the race series has been cut, or maybe its interest has waned, forcing the series to seek sponsors to keep it afloat. I guess only insiders know the low-down.

A few years ago, the race also institute group registration for the lottery, angering traditionalists who decried such moves as akin to the Rock 'n' Roll marathon series.

Despite question marks about its ownership, the Leadville Race Series is still uber-popular, with many being denied entry via the ever-crowded lotteries for both the 100-mile run and bike ride, but some would say it's lost a bit of its mystique. I definitely believe its removal as a Hardrock qualifier cost the Leadville 100 some major prestige points.

The race still attracts quality runners, but is far below Western States, Hardrock and UTMB in terms of competitive fields.

The Next 10 Years!
Although it could be plausibly said by the purists that the essence of the Leadville 100 has deteriorated since Life Time purchased the series, it is still a great race that I love. It offers an incredible weekend in the mountains--an experience pushing you to the edge of your limits. While there are some concerning things going on with the race series, overall the Leadville 100's brand remains in tact...and I think that's largely because of the town, Ken and Merilee's ongoing involvement (thank God for that), and, of course, those mountains.

The race is still coasting a bit on Born to Run fumes. Rumors of a BTR movie have been circulating for some time, and quite honestly I hope it's never made. These days, you hardly see barefoot or huarache-wearing runners in the Leadville 100. It is now the age of Hoka.

Some really positive changes have happened, too, such as the new "surprise" aid station toward the top of the Power Line climb. The Mount Elbert water station, added in I believe 2011, was also a very positive change. Plus, the volunteers at the aid stations continue to be exceptional. Another thing that hasn't change is just how hard the race is! Plus, the town...it's awesome!

Summing up much of the above, opportunities for improvement in the next 10 years, in my opinion, include:
  • Create more transparency with the lottery, including a public name-drawing event similar to what the Western States Endurance Run has at Placer High School every December. It's a great way to build community and instill trust in the process.
  • Lock in the course and minimize changes. The section between the bottom of Hope Pass and Winfield has changed too much in the last 6 years. There needs to be more stability with this particularly critical section.
  • Create a board. I have been beating this drum for years but I really believe the Leadville 100 run needs a board of directors with some power--likely not going to happen so long as Life Time owns the series. If such a board exists, I know nothing of it. Look no further than Western States as a prime example of the importance a board can and should play in protecting the integrity of a historic race. If you're getting tired of me pointing back to Western States as the gold standard, sorry but it is the gold standard.
  • Institute a qualifier requirement. Leadville is a tough, tough race and one should be required to have completed at least a 50-miler--preferably a 100-miler--in the last year to enter the lottery. That alone would narrow the field of entrants.
  • Remove the CEO/Executive Challenge. It's ridiculous.
  • Remove the group registration feature. It's ridiculous. This is Leadville, not a Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.
  • Move registration to Ultrasignup or another platform that is part of the ultra community.
  • If possible, return ownership of the race to the community. This is a race that locals should own. At the very least, it should be owned by Coloradans.
  • Stop with the random stupid things, such as denying Jim Walmsley a spot in the 2019 starting field because he didn't get in through the lottery. Save a few spots for invitations for the best.
  • Add an aid station at Tabor Boat Ramp inbound (mile 93). As hardcore as I tend to like things, I think an aid station at Tabor, which is about halfway between Mayqueen inbound and the finish, will enhance runner safety.
  • Create a prize purse. Unless I am mistaken, Leadville has the freedom to throw down a prize purse for the top finishers. Why not do it?
What changes have you seen in ultrarunning in the last 10 years? Comment to share, please.

Check out what my fellow Synchrobloggers have to say about what's changed in ultra in the last 10 years!

Today's Run - Monday, 2/19

With it being snow and single digits outside, I hopped on the treadmill and powered through 7 miles in 56 minutes. Felt good. Last mile in 6:58. It is going to be a very cold week.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Today's Run - Monday, 2/18

Easy Monday. Hopped on the treadmill for 4.25 miles in 40 minutes flat. Goal was to keep it very low-intensity, as in 10-minutes/mile. I always get a bit impatient going that slow so after the first mile cranked up the speed just a bit.

A little sore from yesterday's 20-miler but by the time I got off the 'mill I was feeling good.

Had a solid stretching session before and after.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Today's Run - Sunday, 2/17; Very Solid 20-Miler!

All winter long I have been struggling in my long runs and in most cases my daily runs. I have felt off. I have felt achy. I have felt slow. My ankles have hurt. I have felt labored. Some days have been better than others. I have barely been able to run beyond 15 or 16 miles. It has been a tough winter on the running front.

But then this morning I got up and out the door and I ran 20.1 miles in 2 hours and 39 minutes. I hadn't planned to go 20 but halfway through I was feeling good--so good--and decided I'd go 20. My feet were light. My legs were responsive. My ankles were great! My breathing was on. It was close to perfect. 1,400 feet of climbing.

Oh, and on my 20-miler I had a small flask of plain water and no calories. Before my run, I did eat a breakfast burrito, though.

It is hard to believe that in my mid 30s I was busting out "easy" 20-mile long runs in 2 hours and 25 minutes. But that was then...that was at sea level and I was younger and fast. Today, I'm 45 and I live at altitude. So, when you factor all of that in, today's run was freaking awesome. Every so often you get those great days and when you do you must seize them! I am going to create more of them!

Ended the week with 61.4 miles. 382.1 miles on the year.

In reflecting on this morning's run, I am trying to determine if I did anything that set me up for success. Yesterday I did eat a whole can of wild-caught salmon. Maybe that helped? I slept well, too. I'm sure the good sleep helped. Who knows? But I am hopeful that today's successful long run was a breakthrough, both mentally and physically, after what has been a physically difficult winter.

***

I really enjoyed Billy Yang's podcast interview with Jason Koop. I believe Billy is one of the top content creators and artists in the sport of ultrarunning today. I loved this conversation with Koop and the call-in element was great. In particular, I found what Koop said about reducing intensity when you are increasing volume to be interesting. It was nice to hear an expert say that because it is hard to keep up with the intensity when your volume is high!

I continue to think about my 2019 schedule. I am eyeing the Colfax Marathon on May 19. I am signed up for North Fork 50K on June 1. I am eyeing the Leadville Trail Marathon on June 15. My Colorado Trail adventure would then be in late June. Burning River 100-miler in late July. Or maybe Javelina in the fall. I think I am leaning toward Burning River. I am about 85% there in signing up for a 100-miler. I think I am ready to make that investment.

Need to pull the trigger soon!

All these years later, this intimate portrait of Anton still gets to me (in the best ways).

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Today's Run - Saturday, 2/16; Colorado Trail Planning

Got out for 10 miles in under 82 minutes this morning. Two of those miles were at 6:40 pace. I felt good for a Saturday and this was my first 10-mile Saturday since before Leadville back in August.

At this point, I'm planning 18 tomorrow morning.

Later in the day, some snow blew in, dropping about 2 inches where we live. We're at 6,200 feet so I'm sure we got more than Denver.

I am well under way in planning my Colorado Trail hike this summer. The plan is to go from Waterton Canyon to Copper Mountain Ski Resort in late June--about 120 miles. I am willing to pay top dollar to go "light." As of now, between a backpack, tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, stove, etc., I am at 10 pounds. I am probably going to "need" a solar-powered charger for my phone--it'll cost me about 1-2 pounds. Then there are other "essentials." My goal is to keep my pack under 25 pounds, which is not going to be easy but it's doable. Less is more so long as you're carrying life-saving essentials.

There's just one problem with my CT planning: I still need a partner. I really don't want to do it alone. I am very experienced on the trail. I'm very fit. I'm resilient. What I am not is experienced with backpacking and backcountry camping. Could use an experienced partner/partners.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Today's Run - Friday, 2/15

Didn't feel like battling the dark and cold so got on the treadmill and ran 7.5 miles in and hour and 1 minute flat. Felt good.

Intrigued to learn more about Bronco Billy's strength-building routine. What that guy is doing at his age is nothing short of amazing.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Today's Run - Thursday, 2/14

6.4 miles in 55 and change. So nice to see the sun rising earlier and earlier but it's still pretty dark. I have pretty much resolved that, as an aging athlete, the cold is harder on my body than it used to be and so I just need to bide my time, stay in decent shape and, above all, remain healthy.

This morning I wrapped up an interesting interview on the Rich Roll Podcast Show. It's with Todd Herman and he's talking about the "alter ego effect." I get it, but if in this world we all had alter egos then I think it would be a pretty crappy world where few people could trust each other. Just because Bo Jackson, for example, had an alter ego doesn't mean we all should. In this world, one of the keys to happiness, I think, is integrated living and authenticity. Nothing against Herman but I'm not buying it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Today's Run - Wednesday, 2/13

6.7 miles in just under 58 minutes. Did the "Riva Ridge loop," which I always enjoy. Admittedly, I woke up in a bit of a foul mood and was not really sure why!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Today's Run - Tuesday, 2/12

Got out for 6.3 miles in a little over 54 minutes. My Garmin has me in "unproductive" mode right now. It seems to have a good pulse (no pun intended) on when I'm not feeling great. My stomach was still bothering me. It is so nice to see the sun coming up from the East earlier and earlier. Will enjoy it and then after Daylight Savings Time it's back in the dark for a short while.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Today's Run - Monday, 2/11

Easy Monday - hopped on the 'mill for 4.3 miles in 37 minutes and change. No issues but legs were a bit tired. Stomach is still not great--must have a bug of some kind.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Today's Run - Sunday, 2/10

Intended to go for 18+ but pulled the plug at 16.1 as my stomach was jacked. Not sure what the deal was but I got insanely bloated about 5 or 6 miles in and had to stop and walk for a short bit. Pace was slow as I battled gut issues. Stomach never rebounded and bothered me for the rest of the day. A really off day.

Ended the week with 53 miles. Another meh.

While I ran, I listened to Joe Rogan interview Alex Honnold from a few months back on his podcast show. I don't get the hype with Joe Rogan. He's entertaining but...… His constant cussing, combined with the fact that he seems to never do his pre-homework on his guests (e.g., didn't even know Honnold has a foundation focused on solar), just kind of leaves me disappointed. He just doesn't seem that informed. Plus, during the Honnold interview, Rogan went on a tangent about supplements and wasn't even able to answer some of Honnold's questions about them. Meh.

The more I dig into the Colorado Trail, the more I realize that my initial goal of doing the first 120 miles from Waterton Canyon to Copper Mountain in 3.5 to 4 days, while feasible with a backpack, may not be a good idea. If I were running, yes. But with a pack on and with the logistics of setting up and breaking down camp daily, it may be cutting it too tight. I have been advised to consider more along the lines of 4.5 to 5 days.

Bottom line: What I am being told is that backpacking those 120 miles will be harder--a lot harder--than running them. That's OK. It's the backpacking and backcountry camping experience that I want. So if I need to carve out more time, OK. I just can't carve out too much time as it's limited.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Today's Run - Saturday, 2/9

Felt good for a Saturday. Usually I'm pretty tired and hungover from a busy week at work. Got in 8.5 miles in 70 minutes and change. The majority of my miles were below 8-minute pace. Did the "Tomahawk loop," which offers some nice rolling terrain on dirt roads.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Today's Run - Friday, 2/8

6.4 miles in 54 and change. Overall, felt reasonably good but it was cold--about 9 degrees. I am really getting burned out on the winter.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Today's Run - Thursday, 2/7

With it being minus 3 degrees when I woke up this morning, I hopped on the treadmill for my run. I have a rule against running outside when there is a fatal factor involved, such as this morning with below zero temps combined with ice. Ran 7.1 miles in 57 and change. Felt good. Last mile in 6:58--hardly worked for it. All good.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Today's Run - Wednesday, 2/6

Managed to get in 8 miles in about 62 minutes this morning. Really jazzed to get in 8--my old standard for weekday morning runs. Did 4 intervals of a 1/2 mile each at about 3 minutes per. Sprinkled in 2 minute recoveries. While I was definitely on the slow side, I felt strong. I do think the dark and the ice slowed me down a bit.

A few days ago, I decided to double my daily consumption of branched chain amino acids. I first started on aminos a few years ago when I learned they were a key part of Paul Terranova's recovery between races during his very successful Grand Slam. Anyway, I'm now taking four capsules daily and I think it's making a difference as I'm noticing better recovery between runs. Only time will tell if this is the real deal.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Today's Run - Tuesday, 2/5 - Colorado Trail Adventure in the Works

6.6 miles in 55 and change this morning. My legs felt responsive--maybe the day off helped? I was tempted to get after it but will save that for tomorrow. The air was moist and had a bite to it. We have snow rolling in tomorrow.

I have been talking for years about a Colorado Trail adventure and I think I'm getting close to doing it. This would not be a run but rather a hike with a big pack and backcountry camping.

Recognizing that I don't have a month to take off from work and do the whole 486-mile trail in one go (I could only wish), I think I could do it in 4-5 big chunks over a period of a few years, starting with the first 120ish miles from Waterton Canyon to Copper Mountain, which follows some incredibly beautiful trail. I think I could do that stretch in 3.5-4 days, preferably in late June (might encounter some snow but all good).

Such a hike would be incredible training if I pull the trigger on a 100-miler this summer or fall.

More to come but it feels like this is becoming real.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Day Off - Monday, 2/4 - Mountain Lion Attack

After an 80something-day running streak, I took the day off on Monday. Kind of regretted it but more because I knew I was breaking the streak. Then again, why obsess over a streak?

Very glad this runner is OK. About five or six years ago, I happened upon a mountain lion on the Barr Trail going down Pikes Peak. This was a little past Barr Camp. It ran off so fast that it took me a few seconds to process what I'd just seen. It moved like lightning and yet was VERY big. I was terrified and didn't know what to do except just stand there. I inched my way down the trail over the next several minutes and then began jogging, looking back incessantly. It was a truly terrifying encounter because I worried that the mountain lion was stalking me and would eventually pounce, which it never did. When you have encounters like that, you are reminded of your vulnerability in nature and of the importance of staying alert, and yet trail running is supposed to be a release.

Also once saw a bear up near Indian Creek Campground. Possible encounters with wildlife are chances you have to take as a trail runner in Colorado. At Bighorn a few years ago, I will admit that I was a bit nervous about grizzlies.

Anyway, I agree with Nick Clark (quoted in the article) that rattle snakes are far more terrifying. I have had a few lunge at me over the years. They are scary.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Today's Runs - Sunday, 2/3 - A Seesaw Day as Far as Motivation

Not sure what the deal was this morning but I hated every step of what was intended to be a 17-miler. I just wasn't into it and so I decided to pull the plug and ended with a paltry 10.7 miles, feeling sorry for myself. The fact that none of the trails are runnable right now (they're mosh pits from the snow melting) isn't helping.

Over brunch, I told my wife I just didn't know what happened during my run this morning and I also told her I have been struggling with a lack of motivation all winter. I'll feel motivated the night before to run but then when I wake up...not so much.

I am sure some work-related stress I've been carrying around hasn't helped. It's not "bad" stress per se. We just have some gigantic projects on the horizon and, oh yeah, we're a short-staffed in a few key areas and trying to get those open positions hired. Being in charge of it all, it's hard for me not to feel stressed and--dare I say--anxious at times. The fact is that I do deal with occasional bouts of anxiety but that is because I'm one of those people who feels highly accountable and is driven to achieve big results.

So this morning, after brunch, I felt content that I was in fact burned out and needed to take a few weeks off to recharge.

And then the afternoon came and the sun was out and I decided--what the hell--to go for another run. 6.7 miles and enjoyed--no, loved--every step of it.

So maybe this morning my problem was just that I was feeling off. Maybe it's screwing with me that in the morning it's dark as hell and cold as Siberia (not really). Maybe I'm suffering from seasonal effect disorder and just need more sun. The good news is that it's February and in Colorado in February the sun starts coming out big time.

So 17.4 mores on the day (not bad) and 60.2 miles on the week (not bad, either).

Still no races on the calendar this spring/summer/fall except North Fork 50K. I may upgrade to the 50-miler but we'll see.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Today's Run - Saturday, 2/2

I'm pretty sure the results of this study are highly questionable. Dog owners walk 21 miles a week? Nah--unless they live in Florida during the winter. I have lived in many places and it never fails: Come winter, very few people, including dog owners, venture outside. Then when the spring comes, everyone is outside and there are dogs everywhere. This study appears to have been self-reported. No way it's accurate. People are lazy during the winter, staying inside.

Got in two runs today:

AM: 8.5 miles on one of my favorite loops--the Tomahawk loop, featuring dirt roads and nice rolling hills. Felt good thanks to 9+ hours of very solid sleep the night before.

PM: 4.1 miles, with some of it on a local trail that was insanely muddy. Felt good. Weather was sensational--50s and sunny.

I am conducting an experiment and have doubled the amount of branched chain amino acids I'm taking to see if they give me a recovery boost.

Hope to hit 17+ tomorrow morning.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Today's Run - Friday, 2/1 - Western States Announces Transgender Entrant Policy

Woke up feeling better than the last few days and got in 6.5 miles in 57 and change. Now that it's February, there is hope for more sun in the mornings (and evenings). Looking out east, I can start to see it rising by 5:50am or so.

I am really starting to get the itch to run some trails but, alas, they are either snow- or ice-covered or insanely muddy. In a few weeks...…

***

The Western States Endurance Run has announced a new Transgender Entrant Policy. As expected, there are (disturbing) elements of the ultra world, which is supposed to be an inclusive community or so I thought, going bananas over the new policy. The comments on WSER's Facebook feed made me really sad. As with several things in life, I really question how many of the naysayers actually read the policy and thought about it--you know, using critical thinking skills--before rendering reactive judgment.

First, the numbers: According to what I could find, about .06% of the population identifies as transgender. That percentage is going up. If you carry that percentage into your average starting field for Western States (370 runners, give or take), we are talking about 2 runners who may identify as transgender and run in the gender division with which they identify.

The naysayers are mostly naysayers because they have a world view steeped in dogma and, as per usual, lack critical thinking skills. When they see something they don't agree with, they immediately get reactive and spout off their world view without really thinking through the issue, turning it over in their brains, and actually considering viewpoints other than their own.

Plus, do they pray over these issues? I do and what I hear from God is to be inclusive and welcoming of all who live in good faith. It is not my place to exclude; it is my place as a human to love, include and support others who are seeking to bring their best selves.

All that to say, the naysayers are a reactive bunch and what is being spewed on WSER's Facebook feed on this issue is just more of the same as far as what's going on in America.

In closing, it is a thoughtful policy. The essentials of the policy:
  • "A male-to-female transgender entrant can register for the race as a female provided the runner has been undergoing continuous, medically supervised hormone treatment for gender transition for at least one year prior to the race."
  • "A female-to-male transgender entrant can register and compete as a male with no restrictions. The only exception is female-to-male transgender runners can no longer register to compete as a female if they have begun hormone treatment related to their gender transition that includes testosterone or any other banned substance."
All in all, a very thoughtful policy.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Today's Run - Thursday, 1/31

6.2 miles. Once again cold, icy and dark. Starting to really struggle with the cold and dark. Getting time for some trail running.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Today's Run - Wednesday, 1/30

Not much to report except that I ran 6.2 miles in 54 and change and it was cold, dark and icy. The conditions this time of year just aren't inspiring.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Today's Run - Tuesday, 1/29

7.3 miles on the treadmill this morning. Woke up and it was 7 degrees and super icy outside--no thanks. So opted for the 'mill. After 2 miles of warm-up, turned up the speed to 8.6 (6:58/mile) and held that pace for 3 miles and then upped it to 8.8 (6:48) for the fourth mile, and then did a one-mile cooldown. Felt good.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Today's Run - Monday, 1/28 - Jim Walmsley falls into the Leadville "Road Race" Trap

Snowing like crazy when I woke up and eventually got on the treadmill for 4.1 miles in under 36 minutes. Mondays are almost always easy and short. Felt good--no issues from yesterday's 16 miles on concrete.

We got way more snow than the forecasters said we would. I had two shoveling sessions, which is good exercise so I'm not complaining (though the commute into work was horrid). When I shovel, I always pile as much as I can around our trees so they get water. In Colorado, "we need the moisture," as the saying goes.

Final note: Walmsley has fallen into the trap of thinking of the Leadville "Trail" (as he air-quoted it in his recent Ultrarunnerpodcast interview) 100 as a "road race" (my eyes are rolling). It is worth repeating: the Leadville 100 has served as a day of public reckoning for many great ultrarunners over the years. As he eyes Carpenter's course record (which he absolutely has the ability to beat), I really hope Jim's view of the course will change to one of profound respect when he does his recon this summer, because it is a course that will destroy you. The course's runability, combined with the altitude and--oh yeah--those mountains, will put a hurting on any runner who fails to bring respect to the starting line.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Today's Run - Sunday, 1/27..."Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" Followed By Too Much Concrete

After dropping the boy off at the bus stop for his ski club, we went back home and I chilled for about 90 minutes in front of the TV (while eating some full-fat yogurt), for some reason glued to "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." Yesterday, I happened upon the original "Wall Street," an iconic film from 1988 that I hadn't seen in some time, and so today I decided to watch the second installment, which I had never seen.

The original "Wall Street," as noted above, was/is iconic. It's a disturbing telling of the materialistic lust of the 80s. Who can forget what the antagonist proclaimed at a shareholders meeting in the movie: "Greed is good" (it was actually a pretty good speech, especially when he talked about the US's crushing trade and fiscal deficits and the lack of accountability among many management teams). Few times in cinematic history has there ever been a villain quite as cutthroat, with a few parts "art of war"-type philosopher (that's just enough to make you wish you didn't like him), as Gordon Gekko. Among the greatest cinematic villains, Gekko ranks in the top 5...on my list anyway. He says really cool stuff like, "If you're not on the inside, then you're on the outside." What guy doesn't find that kind of stuff cool?

Gordon Gekko, a legendary cinematic villain. Source: New York Times.

Unfortunately, in the second installment, Gekko, who is now out of prison and still cutthroat but this time with a peeler and not a full-on machete, wasn't given the platform to show his malicious wares that he had in the first "Wall Street." While the original film was/is a classic, the second one is overall entertaining (especially Gekko's run-in with Bud Fox) but is a swing and miss. It needed way more Gekko.

I just think that when you capture lightning in a bottle the way Oliver Stone did with Gekko in the first "Wall Street," it is pretty hard to keep that lightning in said bottle and then unleash it a second time.

As I was watching both movies, I was reminded that in the end the bad guys do usually lose. In this world, that's hard to remember because so often it seems the good guys finish last.

After getting through the first 90 minutes of "Money Never Sleeps," I went out for 16.1 miles, most of it on concrete paths in our town. Beat the ever-living sh%t out of my legs, too. I would have gone to the trails but still too much snow.

Then recovered with some "Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview."

Ended the week with 60.2 miles. Not bad.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Today's Runs - Saturday, 1/26

First day with two runs in a short while. Got out this morning for 8.5 miles. Still pretty icy and cold in Parker. The snow doesn't seem to be melting...…

After lunch, got on the treadmill for 3.6 miles in a little over 30 minutes. Easy pace.

I'm going into tomorrow with over 44 miles on the week. Around this time of year, I like to start putting in 60+ mile weeks (except on weekends we ski).

I put in for the waiting list for a 3-day expedition to summit Mount Rainier. I found out a few days ago that I will likely get into the expedition if I am willing to have 2-3 weeks' notice. I have some big work stuff going on this spring so will play Rainier by ear.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Today's Run - Friday, 1/25; The Wasatch Speedgoat

Really awesome article about a living legend: Karl Meltzer, known as "the Wasatch Speedgoat." In 2006, Karl won six very stout hundred-milers, including Hardrock and Wasatch. I love that the author, Andy Jones-Wilkins, is on what feels like a mission to tell the stories of the greats.

Karl is, in my opinion, clearly one of the greats. Even at age 50 now he's still getting after it. As mentioned in the article:

"Looking back on that season now, 13 years later, Meltzer made several observations. First, he said he never did any training runs longer than about 15 miles. Mostly he just ran on feel and went from event to event. Additionally, while he worked hard on his climbing, often hammering 2,000- to 3,000-foot ascents, he kept his training steady. 'I knew I just needed to keep it even keel. I knew the fitness was there.' Finally, Karl felt like he had momentum on his side and he wanted to take advantage of it, 'You just never know what might happen, so I just kept it going'.”

Really good stuff.

6.2 miles in about 55 minutes this morning. Was very cold (15 degrees), very dark and very icy/slick. Main goal this morning was to stay upright.

Planning to go 18-20 mile on Sunday.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Today's Run - Thursday, 1/24

7.1 miles in about 56 minutes this morning. Despite icy roads, I decided to get after it a bit and did 4 half-mile intervals, each at about 3 minutes. 2-minute recoveries. Just too icy to go much faster. Felt pretty good this morning. Really stoked about the spring...Yikes, it's only January!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Today's Run - Wednesday, 1/23

Got out the door at 5:25am for 6.3 miles in about 55 minutes. A chilly 18 degrees. I didn't realize until I got to work this morning (in Denver) how much more snow we got in Parker Monday night/Tuesday morning. Where we live in Parker is about a thousand feet above Denver and it showed in how much snow we got. My biggest focus on my run this morning was, quite honestly, staying upright. When I got into a neighborhood that is about 150 feet above where we live, I noticed even more snow.

All good.

Last night, I signed up for the waitlist for a 3-day expedition to summit Mt. Rainier. At this point, I would say my chances of being selected for a 2019 expedition are slim to none as all slots are full. But it is something I really want to do. Long-term, would love to climb Denali.

On my runs, I think a lot about the issues of our time. My viewpoint is just that--my viewpoint, my opinion, how I see things. What I most love about running is that it seems to have magical powers as far as giving me the "time" to examine things from different angles and really deconstruct what I'm thinking about. All that said, I really feel that as a country we are fighting over the wrong things and getting fired up about stuff that really doesn't matter. We are fighting over symptoms of a much larger problem and not coming together to address the problem. Even the littlest of issues get blown up on social media and before you know it we're feeling crisis, division and despair.

We should set the bar much higher as far as what really matters and what really deserves our time and attention.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Today's Call - Tuesday, 1/22; My UROY and UPOY Picks

With there being a blizzard in the making, I hopped on the treadmill for 7.4 miles in 61 minutes. Got on at 5:25am--good. Pretty much a steady-state run, staying at the same pace the whole way. Felt pretty good, though a little sore from last night's upper body weight session.

Here are my picks for North American Ultrarunners of the Year and Ultra Performances of the Year:

UROY:
  • Female: Courtney Dauwalter
  • Male: Jim Walmsley
Note: Some say it was a weak year for male UROY, as Jim had only 2 ultra wins and a DNF at UTMB, but he was/is clearly the top male ultrarunner in North America. I actually applaud Jim for maintaining a reasonable race schedule.
UPOY:
  • Female: Camille Herron - Desert Solstice 24-hour (162.9 miles)
  • Male: Jim Walmsley - Western States 100 course record (14:30)
I really think Camille's 24-hour record will stand for generations. It is an insane record.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Today's Run - Monday, 1/21

With it being MLK Day, and my employer (University of Denver) being closed, I slept in a little later than usual ('til 6:30am) and, after enjoying some coffee and full-fat yogurt, got on the treadmill. Meanwhile, my son was still asleep. Decided to run about 5 miles and kept the first 4 at a very easy pace of 8:10. For the last mile, I jacked the 'mill up to 15% grade and power hiked at 15 minutes/mile with a few jogging intervals at a higher pace mixed in. That last mile was a grinder and my heart rate got up to over 140, but overall I handled it well. I am clearly out of shape with climbing!

My hope is to put together a solid week, which means 60+ miles. We do have some nasty weather rolling in tonight so tomorrow morning may be another run on the treadmill. I am very grateful to have a nice treadmill that gives me what I need.

I am feeling a bit mal-content of late. Not sure what's going on. At Copper Mountain all weekend, I kept daydreaming about running the Colorado Trail (it runs through Copper). I still feel very pulled to the trails--just not to the Leadville Trail (anymore). That said, every time we take the Copper Mountain/Leadville exit off I-70, I can't help but think back to the many memories I have of my "Race Across the Sky" finishes. It is getting time to settle on a 100-miler in 2019.

This past weekend, I also found myself talking with one of the lift operators at Copper, a nice guy in his mid-20s, I'd say. He stays in the Edge, which houses Copper employees right there in the Center Village, and pays about $340/month. He spends about 36 hours a week on the mountain operating lifts and the rest of the time skis and hangs out. I told him he's "living a dream life." Not a bad existence...…. My one regret in life is living way too responsibly in my 20s. If I had it to do over again, right out of graduate school I would have dirt-bagged for a few years. I told my son he's allowed to dirt bag but only after he gets his college degree and only if he limits it to 2 years (unless dirt-bagging is part of his chosen profession).

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Runs - Saturday, 1/19 and Sunday, 1/20; Weekend at Copper Mountain

Spent the weekend at Copper Mountain with the family. MLK weekend is typically the busiest ski weekend of the year in Colorado and we certainly saw it--long lines, everywhere, including in the back bowls. Got out for a very tame pre-ski 4.1 miles each morning. Despite being in an absolutely stunningly beautiful area of the Rocky Mountains, the diesel fumes from the buses at Copper are always a bit tough to endure when out for a run. Even in super fit Colorado, I got a whole bump of stares from folks driving into and through the resort.

Anyway, nice to get out for a few miles before hitting the slopes. Skied the back bowls on Saturday, hitting several black and double black runs and even went off the cornice (though I went off a bit easier section). Tamed it down on Sunday, though we still hit a few black run. The bottom of the Mine Dump run really threw me for a loop today--bumps got huge (as in the size of a Volks), steep and deep.

All in all, a fun weekend.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Today's Run - Friday, 1/18

Another 6.2 miler and felt like crap. Definitely fighting some kind of bug. Ugh. Going up to Copper Mountain tonight for a ski weekend. Might use that time to really dial back the mileage and give my body a little reset.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Today's Run - Thursday, 1/17; Walmsley Denied

Another less than stellar run. 6.2 miles. Definitely not 100% but good enough to get out and move the legs a bit. The Garmin is still saying I'm in "unproductive mode." Years of experience tell me to just keep showing up daily and maybe don't push it too hard as I fight whatever it is I have right now (a bug?).

I saw that Jim Walmsley didn't get into the Leadville 100 via the lottery. Seems like a missed opportunity for Leadville. If Jim is in that race, all of a sudden it's world-class again. All eyes are on Leadville that Saturday as you'd have a legit run at Carpenter's legendary course record. It's certainly a good argument that, if Jim really wants into Leadville, he could certainly practically jog his way to a token via one the race series events, such as the marathon, but that may not align with what he wants to do this summer (note: Leadville Marathon is 2 weeks prior to Western States). Athletes of his caliber choose their own path and so I really think not letting him in was a missed opportunity. We'll see what's next.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Today's Run - Wednesday, 1/16

6.2 miles this morning. Another sub-par run and my Garmin is now saying I'm "unproductive," which means something is likely up. I haven't been feeling 100%, so will monitor closely.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Today's Run - Tuesday, 1/15; An Epic Day in the Blogosphere

Was feeling a little soreness from Sunday's weight session so only got in 6.2 miles in abut 55 minutes this morning. Was cold as a well-digger's ass, if you ask me. For some reason, I love February in Colorado as by then we're starting to get more daylight. These dark mornings suck. Bring on February!

Today something epic happened. The "syncrobloggers" made an appearance and it was fun. For you new kids on the ultrarunning blog train, today we saw this, this, this and this. I personally feel that back in the day those were four of the best ultrarunning blogs out there. Who can ever forget Lord Balls' thoughts about the sport we all love(d) as told through an enlightening conversation with Inside Trail Matt, aka "Guy"? I wonder what happened to ITM? Or how about when AJW nearly set the shed on fire with his blog about DNFs? Nevermind when AJW posted a critique of "Unbreakable," pointing out muling that may or may not have been happening on camera.

Those are just a few examples of the amazing content--content that actually had substance to it and, yes, occasionally got others pissed off--that was being put out there on a daily basis back in the day, when people actually read and commented on blogs and didn't have to display their lives in shallow Instagram and Facebook posts. Just click on those links above and read some great long-form content until your heart is happy.

So today was a good day, my friends. Here's to hoping the ultrarunning blog returns!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Today's Run - Monday, 1/14

Very easy 4.1 miles in 37 minutes on the treadmill this morning. I don't think my heart rate ever went over 115.

Woke up pretty amped up about a busy week at the office (dare I say the stress level was elevated), so I was tight when I stepped on the 'mill. One of the gifts of early-morning running, though, is that it provides an opportunity for me to mentally organize the day, set my priorities, problem solve, map out conversations I need to have, think about what's important (mainly the art of listening) and basically wrap my head around big issues my team and I are grappling with. So by the time I stepped off the 'mill, I was in a better place and able to engage the second I walked in the office.

I don't know what I would do without the gift of running and the discipline to wake up early and get after it. I think about all the folks who wake up in the AM, rush out the door and walk into chaos at work, completely in reactive mode. Not saying I work in chaos; I don't. But lots of people do. By not moving/exercising in the morning, they are not allowing themselves time to plan out their thoughts and actions for the day.

Was a little sore this morning--but not too sore--from yesterday's weight session.

All good.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Today's Run - Sunday, 1/13; Thoughts on the Obesity Epidemic

After dropping off the boy at the bus stop for his ski club early this morning, we drove back home and I lounged for about an hour before getting outside for some miles. I am letting the winter get to my head when it comes to motivation to move. But it's not winning the battle; I am getting out there daily and getting after it. I especially enjoyed shoveling the deep snow yesterday (seriously).

16.3 miles in 2 hours and 19 minutes on icy roads and paths. Slow. I started to fade in the end, not because of lack of fitness but rather because I think the cold got to me as I started the long, steady climb back into my neighborhood.

Then in the afternoon the wife and I went to the gym and pumped some iron. For me, push-ups, arm stuff, shoulder stuff, and some leg stuff (including single-leg squats). When we left the gym, I felt like I'd tightened the bolts pretty well. Will keep at it this winter.

My watch, a Garmin 935, is now describing my fitness as "peaking" and telling me that with my VO2 max of 56 I could run a 2:56 marathon. Hmmmmmmmm. About 4 years ago my VO2 max tested at 63, which is actually pretty damn good for a guy in his 40s. Back to the 2:56...… I don't know. I think the watch is full of it, or does it know something I don't? Or do I mentally limit myself? I am kind of eying the Pueblo Marathon next month but am not going to force anything. The fact is that I have yet to run 20 miles all in one go in several months. Before I allow myself to register for that race, I need to have two 20-milers under the belt. Would be kind of cool to get a Boston qualifier, though.

***

So I read this and a few other articles on the subject. Essentially Americans are getting heavier (fatter) but not any taller. Maybe the most depressing obesity stat I know of is this: Today, Colorado's adult obesity rate is about 22.6%--the lowest in the nation. And yet if you took Colorado's obesity rate today and applied it to 1995, Colorado would be the most obese state in the nation. Go here to see for yourself.

Yikes.

Seems no one is immune from the obesity epidemic--not even the military, where about 1 in 5 soldiers is obese. If you read that article, essentially you'll see that the military is taking a page from  big collegiate athletics and will be focusing its menus more on foods that are closer to the source.

Yep, you can't just exercise yourself to weight loss. And yet there are all kinds of snake oil salespeople out there pushing that message.

As informed as I think Dean Karnazes is on this subject, I have to disagree with his "solution." Focusing on outcome--losing 50 pounds--and not process will get us no where. Whenever someone throws a big outcome out there--with no process--I cringe.

Not a lot of people are taking the obesity epidemic seriously--even though it's eventually going to bankrupt this country. These days, we all pay for each other's bad habits.

As a guy who lost nearly 60 pounds--about 40 pounds on diet changes alone and the last 20 from running (daily)--I feel like my viewpoint is one of personal experience. It all starts with what you put in your body. Every Saturday, when I go to the grocery store, I see what I believe is the truth behind the obesity epidemic in this country--at least the epidemic among suburban folks. I see carts full of processed foods--garbage like Texas Toast, frozen pizzas, frozen dinners, boxed this, boxed that, etc. Oh yeah, and lots of sugary drinks. I see the truth every Saturday.

Not saying what I buy is all perfect. It's not. I love my Tostitos, too (but in moderation). I have my vices. I'm just saying that the truth of the obesity epidemic, at least as I see it, is on full-display at grocery stores--you just have to look in people's carts (and maybe your own, too). The truth is also on display every morning when I drive by McDonald's and the drive-thru is backed up. Same with Starbucks, where folks just gotta have that 400-calorie latte.

A few weeks ago, I was pumping gas at 7-Eleven going into work and saw more than a few people coming out with big sodas and packs of donuts. Not judging. That was me back when my diet consisted of KFC, Wendy's, daily mocas, etc.--along with Marlboro Lights.

The larger issue, as I see it, is that we are busy and we make deals with the devil to create convenience, meaning we buy lots of processed foods. And yet I don't think we're as busy as we think. I think we have more free time than ever? Back in the day, you had to hunt and gather and get your shelter solid or else you and your family were dead.

We need to eat like our great-grandparents did--lots of veggies and, if you eat animal by-products, make sure the animals were raised the way they should be (e.g., grass-fed). The problem is that this way of eating isn't cheap.

Off my soap box now. This is a topic that evokes my passions!

***

The thought of a 100-miler this summer is getting more and more palatable. I really think it could be the Burning River 100.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Today's Run - Saturday, 1/12

Got our first proper snow of the winter and so got after it a bit this morning. Actually, I almost opted for the treadmill but then I remembered how strong running in the snow will make you. I am really trying to rebel against life's comforts--they make us weak! So I suited up and hit the road and local trails. 8.3 miles in 71 minutes. Ran a few trails with some deep snow in places. Beautiful morning.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Today's Run - Friday, 1/11

7.1 miles in just under 56 minutes on the treadmill this morning. When the treadmill got down to 21 minutes remaining, I decided to give myself a little challenge - cover at least 3 miles in those final 21 minutes. So I jacked up the speed a bit to 8.7 miles per hour (6:53 pace) and got it done. I would describe the pace for those final 3 miles as comfortably hard and nothing I should be feeling tomorrow as far as ill effects.

Really happy it's Friday. Look forward to relaxing a bit this weekend!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Today's Run - Thursday, 1/10; Thoughts on Mindfulness

After a nice little break over the holidays, life is starting to get really, really busy again. The demands on my time are immense, to the degree that I have to actively seek out conscientiousness and mindfulness.

In my job, one of the things I really try to impress on my people is to feel empowered to pause when feeling overwhelmed, to step away and reflect, and to gather information before responding. The benefits of pausing and reflecting, even in the face of what feels like a crushing deadline, far outweigh the drawbacks associated with reacting! In this world, that is not easy. The struggle is real. We are bombarded seemingly every second of every day with "information" and it's hard not to be in constant reactive mode, divorced from your true inner self, which I believe can be a catalyst for depression.

We have to be very intentional in finding moments--even moments in chaos--to pause, reflect, take stock of our thoughts and feelings, and gather information before responding. The key is thoughtful response, not impulsive reaction.

Again, not easy. I have to work so hard on this every day.

But this is an area where I feel I have improved a ton in the past few years, though I continue to have struggles now and then. And now I'm not only holding myself accountable but also helping others to do the same.

Running is great for all of this! But there is more I want to do. I am considering taking my efforts toward greater conscientiousness to the next level. I am intrigued by the thought of a silent retreat.

6.3 miles in a little over 54 minutes this morning. Really struggling to get out of the house in time for at least 60 minutes. The comfort of my cup of coffee and computer screen is winning me over. Need to take back control! It'll be much easier to get outside when the temps warm up and there's more sun in a few months, but I can't wait that long. Discipline!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Today's Run - Wednesday, 1/9

Felt pretty good this morning. After a few miles of warm-up, ran 2 miles in about 12:40. Felt good throughout and was holding back a bit. Took a half-mile breather and then put in a mile at 6:45ish pace. Legs responsive. This early in the year, just easing into more focused workouts.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Today's Run - Tuesday, 1/8

6.5 miles in a little over 54 minutes this morning. Got out the door late--need to move faster! Legs felt fresh but I held back a bit to save it for tomorrow, when I plan to do some focused work. Was very, very dark this morning and a bit gusty.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Today's Run - Monday, 1/7; Opinion on Goggins' Book

Monday is always easy and usually a treadmill day. Hopped on the 'mill this morning for 4 miles in a little over 36 minutes. Wanted to keep the heart rate very low--mission accomplished. All good.

Finished up Goggins' book. Despite my initial praise, I would say this book was solid yet flawed. My main beef is that it seems Goggins spends the first 80% of the book speaking about the merits of his approach and mental outlook and yet in the end he more or less says it all came crashing down on him, when his body rebelled on him to the extent that he thought he was dying. The answer to his ills was then....stretching? Not sure I finished the book "buying" what he was selling. He doesn't seem like a particularly happy guy who forged strong relationships over his lifetime. Maybe it's just me but, without strong relationships and happiness, life ain't much.

So I kind of took what happened to his health as his central thesis being fundamentally undermined. A fun book. A pretty good book. I love his commitment. Definitely inspiring. But a flawed book. Personally, I feel like it could have gone through a few more edits. While I am no Puritan, I also think the cursing in the book is over the top.

A few posts ago I was very critical of Runner's World. I will say that in its latest issue RW did a nice job with its articles on Rob Krar and Dave Mackey.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Today's Run - Sunday, 1/6

What a beautiful Sunday. Not too cold and very little wind. This time of year, it's hard to be motivated going into a long run. 17.1 miles in 2 hours and 22 minutes, good for about 8:19 pace. Ran the whole thing at MAF and felt good, though my ankles were a bit achy (nothing new there). After running the Legend loop, I turned west and then went down to the Cherry Creek Trail and then back up into my neighborhood (a long, steady climb that only gains about 400 feet but is a grinder). A solid effort today and I'm happy with it. Unless I'm mistaken, I'm pretty sure this is my single longest run since Leadville, which is crazy. My goal is to crank out a 20-miler by the end of this month. After showering, out on my CW-X socks and went down to Egg and I with the wife for lunch. Missing my son, who is up at Copper Mountain today skiing with a group of kids.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Today's Run

Beautiful and cool but not cold Saturday morning. Woke up with a stiff lower back. Too much sleep (about 10 hours, which I thought I needed but maybe my back didn't)? After about a 2.5-mile warm-up, did seven quarters at 84, 84, 87, 80, 86, 87 and 88. Recoveries in between were quarters, as well, except for the second recovery, which was a bit longer due to a loose dog (didn't want to zip too fast by it). People who allow their dogs off-leash in Parker...ugh. Form started to break down a bit on the sixth quarter. Lots of work to do to get faster and more efficient (and stronger!) but, overall, a solid session as I start to build. Weird indigestion thing that's been plaguing me the past few years appears to be better but is still there.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Today's Run

6.5 miles and about an hour this morning. Was planning to do fast quarters but ran into Mike about a mile in and we joined up for a chatty run. Good to catch up with him and discuss the hot topics of who should get the male and female UROYs and UROYs. Still battling this crazy heartburn thing but it might be better today. Legs so-so. Will plan to do my quarters tomorrow morning. Was reading Goggins' book last night and he heavily intimated that his first 100 was harder than anything he endured during Navy SEAL training. Not sure I buy that. But it's quite a good book.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Today's Run

6.7 miles in a hair over 1 hour on surprisingly icy roads this morning. Overall felt decent but went slow to stay upright. Wasn't expecting so much ice as it was warm enough yesterday, I figured, to clear away the muck. Still a bit of a winter wonderland in Parker, though. Been battling a nasty indigestion thing the last 24 hours and it plagued me on my run this AM. No fun and no clue where this came from. A mysterious bug? Will plan to get after it with some fast quarters tomorrow.

Now on chapter 6 of Goggins' book. Very good listening. Not for the faint of heart and very hard-edged.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Today's Run

While I am not sure if this is feasible/sustainable, I am going to try to start posting quick recaps of my daily workouts. Again, this may fall off in time but I'm going to give it a try. Here goes.....

With it being 7 degrees and icy outside, got on the treadmill around 5:25am for an hour (I will run in the extreme cold but not if it's ice AND dark at the same time). Worked out next to my wife, who was cranking it out on the cycle. She had the fan all to herself so I got a bit hot while running! Opted for the "cross-country" workout on my treadmill--a bit over 58 minutes and 7.1 miles with the incline going from 0% to 6% the whole way. Not easy! Listened to David Goggins' awesome new book, Can't Hurt Me. Legs felt better than decent but not great. Need to get back to being more efficient in the morning and aiming for at least 60-65 minutes of running before work.

Interestingly, yesterday my Garmin, based on how it's reading my fitness, projected a 3:00:04 marathon time. As I have run some sub-3s in my day and know what they take fitness-wise, not sure I believe it.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year's Resolutions and 10 Things About Ultras I Wish Would Come Back

So long, 2018! On the running front, one of my more memorable experiences happened in July, when I was in New York City for business and spent days running to and around different parts of the city (in absolutely sweltering humidity). This is a photo of the 9/11 Memorial. I can't remember which tower this is, but the experience was powerful and deeply emotional, as you can imagine:


During my trip to NYC, I remember texting my wife that running is such a gift because it provides an easy way to explore and experience different places. Had I been in a car, there is no way I could have seen as much of NYC as I did on my own two feet!

***

Today, as I type this post, I'm feeling more and more motivated to finish a 100-miler in 2019. For me, success toward this goal requires three things:
  1. The right timing. Due to work commitments, whatever 100 I run in 2019, if in fact I do run a 100, can't happen before July or else I run a huge risk of burning the candle on both ends (and in the middle, too).
  2. My family's support. A must. I can't embark on training for and finishing a 100 unless I have my family's support. Fortunately, I always do.
  3. An ironclad commitment to finish. This is the one that's TBD as of yet. If I realize the commitment, then that commitment will fuel my daily progress toward training for a 100 and my resolve to ultimately finish the race. For me, commitment drives process, and process, when well-executed and fueled by commitment, drives positive results. Motivation is nice but is in no way a factor in the big picture. Motivation comes and goes. Commitment is what counts.
Which brings me to the so-called "News Year's Resolution." Seems everyone is putting their resolution(s) out there today. Many of them are really inspiring! Anecdotally speaking, I'm seeing some old ultra friends who have been out of the sport a few years start talking about coming back into it. Love it!

It's not like I don't also have things I want to do in life, on the run and in work. I have lots of stuff I want to do in 2019, including getting my stress levels more stable. Stress, I think, has been a huge drag on my athletic performance over the past year. It's not "negative" stress per se. I've just got a lot on me and I need to learn to handle it better. A lot of that comes down to the choices I make. My choices need to revolve around 1) more simplicity and 2) greater clarity of purpose.

Anyway, whenever someone puts a resolution out there--and most resolutions are very outcome-oriented, e.g., "this is what I will achieve in 2019"--my question is always around process. The desired outcome is great, but what are the steps you will take to achieve it? If all there is to a resolution is an outcome, then how do you define progress toward the outcome? What are the daily actions, the milestones, and other indicators of success and/or need for tweaks to approach to achieve goal? 

***

On my run this morning, I was thinking about the ultra community and basically how I've lost some of that special connection to it that I once felt. My connection to the community is still there; it's just not as strong as it used to be, and a lot of that is probably attributable to where I now am in life. I started running ultras in 2005, when I was in my very early 30s, and there are some things I definitely miss about the "good old days," namely:

1) Blogs. Back in the day, it seemed everyone running ultras had a blog and the universe of running blogs provided for great daily reading. Blogs I most loved to read included but were certainly not limited to those by Anton Krupicka, Karl Meltzer, Fast Eddy, AJW, Nick Clark and Geoff Roes. There are still some great blogs out there that are updated almost daily (examples here and here) but it seems blogging is no longer cool? I have also seen a trend where there has been more centralization of written "media" within the ultra world. It was a lot more fun back when everyone had their own blog and put their own content out there, on their own terms, on an almost daily basis. Those were fun days and I wish they'd return because ultimately we humans love great stories. This was once one of the more popular ultra blogs and I have let it tail off. Maybe I need to step up my content creation?

2) Anton. Anton, you made ultrarunning so damned interesting not only in your daily training and race performances but also in your blog. For those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about, here's one example of the epic content Anton would put out there when he was racing ultras and running 200 miles per week. He has a "new" blog that he still updates with awesome content but I miss his daily posts.

3) When Western States was the biggest race in the world. I still think many hold Western States to be the "Super Bowl of Ultrarunning," but I definitely think UTMB and Hardrock are gaining ground, which saddens me. UTMB is, in my view, overrated--the weather is almost always bad. Hardrock? Badass for sure. Call me old-fashioned but ultra is about running, not hiking, and Western States is a course that pits the best runners against each other. I realize people are gonna read this and get all fired up defending UTMB.

4) When the focus was on story-telling and not just showing, telling and impressing. I miss the stories shared via blogs, message boards and even the Ultralistserv. Nowadays it's just short-form content pushed out through social media accounts without much depth. A lot of it to me is all sizzle and no steak. I miss the steak.

5) When Runner's World magazine actually told good stories about ultrarunners. I have been a subscriber of RW for 15 years and this year may not renew. Its decline is saddening to me; the magazine to me now lacks soul and depth. It used to be RW put out some really interesting, albeit controversial, content on ultras, such as this article about Scott Jurek from 2010 (which pissed a lot of people off), that article about Rick Trujillo and his feud with Matt Carpenter from 2008 (again, which ruffled feathers), the infamous Dean piece from 2006 (which started a near civil war in my running club at the time) and several others. Back when RW actually had depth to it, it was a decent magazine that got people in the community talking. Nowadays it's mostly about pushing fluff and how-tos.

6) Marathon & Beyond magazine. The loss of M&B was, in my opinion, crushing. It put out such great content, such as this awesome article about Matt Carpenter. It was a very scholarly magazine that probed deeply into and geeked out on important topics.

7) When you could actually enter a race the day of. Back in the day, you could oftentimes show up on a Saturday morning and register for your race right then and there. No more. Nowadays, we have lotteries requiring contingency plans and advanced planning out the wazoo.

8) The (perceived) innocence of the sport. I'll be honest: I worry PEDs and cheating have infiltrated ultra in ways few want to imagine. Let me be clear: I have zero facts to back up this concern. And it could be the sport has always been infiltrated by PEDs and cheating. I really don't know. But I do know that it's very naïve to assume that people use PEDs only when money is on the line. I think ego is a much bigger driver of poor decisions than money.

9) When longevity trumped flashes in the pan. Ultra has always had epic talent come and go like the wind but it used to be that longevity was more appreciated than it is today. Rather than get all lathered up over who's crushing it here and now, I think true greatness is measured by longevity and that's why in my book the greats are those who excelled for years and years and actually trained in ways that sustained and built on excellence (e.g., Scott Jurek, Ann Trason, Yiannis Kouros, Tim Twietmeyer, Meghan Arbogast Laws, Darcy Piceu, Karl Meltzer and Hal Koerner to name a few).

10) When we were individuals, not brands. Seems today everyone has to have a brand and use social media to push it out. That's a really exhausting proposition, my friends. Brand ambassadorship has gone overboard. I get the power of brand. I really do. It's not like this blog wasn't at one time influenced by a desired personal "brand." I could easily be a brand ambassador now but why? Who cares what I like, use, etc.? I just miss the days when we were like-minded members of a cohesive community who enjoyed running a long way and didn't focus too much on pushing brands on each other. 

In re-reading my 10, I've noticed 6 are "media"-related. Interesting (to me, at least).

Don't get me wrong. It's not like I don't love some things going on today. I think we are in a golden age of ultra (and extreme sports) filmmaking (Billy Yang's work is exhibit A--quite possibly the most talented storyteller in the sport today). I think Ultrarunning Magazine is still a very strong curator of great content. We have awesome podcast shows, led by Ultrarunnerpodcast.com, Trail Runner Nation, Billy Yang's show, etc. And I think iRunFar's pre-race and race-day coverage of the major races, especially of Western States, is exceptional, though I'm not a fan of how it's now the home base for folks who I wish were blogging on their own platforms. Still so much to love. But there are things I miss and quite frankly wish would come back.

Here's to a great 2019!