Monday, June 4, 2012

Week Ending 6/3 (Golden Gate Dirty Thirty)

Monday: mountains
AM: 7.45 miles in 2:06 at Mount Bierstadt, a 14,060-foot peak outside of Denver. Very cold and windy. Had a great time with Bob and Scott. A few snow fields here and there but nothing bad. Pretty strong on my descent (wore my Salomon Crossmaxes), though my quads did tire just a little about halfway down. Awesome adventure and the views from the top were spectacular. 2742'.

Tuesday: easy
AM: 7.8 miles in 1:02 on the local trails. Legs a little tired.

Wednesday: easy
AM: 7.1 miles in 55 minutes on the local trails. Legs still tired.

Thursday: easy
AM: 7 miles in 55 minutes. Legs a little better, but still not 100%.

Friday: very easy
AM: 4.85 miles in 40 minutes on the local trails. Legs much better.

Saturday: Golden Gate Dirty Thirty
What else to say except this was an off day for me, even as my intent was to cover the 31 miles as a training run and not a race. I finished 34th overall with a 6:06. Not good; I really wanted a time under 6 hours (by comparison, the winning time was 4:47). This course is no joke; you're at over 9,000 feet for much of the way and are constantly climbing or descending, often on rocky trail. The total climb is about 7,000 feet--not exactly a walk in the park.

From the moment the gun went off my mind just wasn't into it; I actually wanted to DNF when I got to the first aid station, having taken a nasty fall that took a chunk out of my left palm, but I stuck it out in the name of finishing what I start. My legs were tired and flat and lacked speed. I didn't feel motivated to attack any of the climbs or bomb any of the descents. Descents were a major problem for me--not because of skill, but rather because my Hoka Stinson Evos just didn't work well for me on rocky downs (good to find that out now versus at the Leadville 100). They're too high profile for a tall dude like me (6'2") and I found that my ankles were very unstable on the downs, causing me to hit the breaks and run the descents like an amateur. Yeah, I was really missing my Salomon Crossmaxes, which I wore at the Cheyenne Mountain 50K, where I ran the downs very, very well and finished 5th overall with a time I was/still am proud of. You live and learn.

On the good side, I finished pretty strong and never felt really that tired, though the altitude did get to me in a few areas, like the climb up to Windy Peak. More thoughts below.

Sunday: off
Took the day off completely. The most I did was walk to and from the pool with my family and wash both of the cars.

Totals for the week:
  • 65.1 miles
  • 11 hours, 45 minutes
  • 11,500 feet of vertical
  • Average pace: 10:50
  • 7 total runs
  • Lots of core work, push-ups and upper body weight training
Totals for the year:
  • 1,460.7 miles run
  • 118 miles biked
  • 6.55 miles walked

The Golden Gate Dirty Thirty left a bad taste in my mouth. It was a mistake to even enter that race. The course is hard enough to totally kick your ass if you're not feeling into it. I entered via the waiting list four days before the race, which means I had no time to mentally prepare. I more or less just showed up with tired legs and struggled mentally and physically for the entire 31 miles. Not very often are the letters D-N-F floating around in my mind five miles into a race, but on Saturday they were. Two-thirds of the way through I was dehydrated, unmotivated and pissed off, but I put my head down and got through it all, somehow managing to finish strong. Oh well....

Taking Sunday off was a good decision. I didn't miss running and instead had a great time hanging out with my family and doing stuff I rarely have time to do, like wash our cars and sit on the front porch with Anne sipping lemonade. We also went to our neighborhood pool and had a nice time together.

For whatever reason, my ability to recovery after workouts has diminished. I saw this with my bad tempo run last Thursday. I saw this in my tired legs after the Bierstadt summit on Monday. And, of course, I saw this at Saturday's (shitty) 50K. Bierstadt should never have done to my legs what it did--it's just 7.5 miles and 2,700 feet of climbing. So what does this tell me? It tells me that I'm flirting with over-training, which is why I took Sunday off completely and will kind of go easy this week with more emphasis on cross training over the next few days (cycling and walking) to get myself back in good shape and ready for the next nine weeks of training.

As for my Hoka Stinson Evos, they're great on smooth trail. But when I'm descending rocky trails, like what you have at the Golden Gate Dirty Thirty, they're freaking awful (for me, at least). I've now had two bad rocky trail experiences with Hokas. Never again will I wear them at a hardcore trail race. Do I still love Hokas? Yes, they're great on smooth trail and road. But for me they suck on technical downs. With my height, I need low-profile shoes for technical descents. Period.

Now, I'll quit my bitching and move on, with my goal still being to crush it at the Leadville 100. It's good I had this opportunity to vent. Thanks for "listening," and please feel free to offer feedback if you'd like.


  1. You can't always have positive experiences. You have to take the rough with the smooth. The important thing is you finished it. Don't you think you're going to have some low points during the Leadville 100? You're not going to be able to do the Leadville just on physical ability, but mental and emotional as well. Maybe this race was going training from that point of view. You didn't give up before you had even warmed up, you got some good altitude training in. Look for the positives and be proud that you completed it.


  2. Dirty Thirty is a great training run for Leadville. Much better than anything else you would have done. You're just lucky I didn't feel like kicking over the final mile!

  3. All great points, guys. It's all about perspective.

    GZ, it's been a tough few days. I think I'm a head case when it comes to mountain races. I need to learn how to psychologically attack mountain races. That said, it may be time for me to take a year off from ultras and try to recharge. I think the miles take a toll after a while. I've always wanted to do a bunch of marathons in a year and so maybe that's what I'll do in 2013, starting with Phoenix and maybe including Big Sur, Grandma's, Pikes Peak, Columbus (my old fave) and a few others.