Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Skiing and Leadville

To start things off, I think I’ll focus some (wasted) energy on a certain online message board that claims to be about running. In reality, this message board, which I won't dignify by using its name, seems to attract a lot of (anonymous) haters who dislike ultrarunners. I rarely visit the message board, mostly because its vitriolic rhetoric is a waste of my time. Occasionally I take a peak at the carnage, like when Paul Ryan, shortly after joining the Romney ticket, was exposed for lying about his marathon time. Afterward, I usually feel like I need to take a shower.

Anyway, I don’t understand why people, cloaked in anonymity, enjoy being jerks while they hide behind their “computers.” Many of us have had a few bad moments online, but there are a huge number of people out there who use said message board to bash and ridicule others--a certain high-profile Spanish ultrarunner, who seems like an awfully nice kid and has lungs the size of beach balls, is the latest victim. Frankly, I find such behavior disgusting and really just the sad, pathetic result of mostly insecure people who are miserable with their own lives and seek to pick on others. It would be great if the online anonymous hating, like what we often see on said message board, just disappeared in the name of people being nice to each other. This message board is, as one friend recently said, a "toilet." I don't know about you, but I'd prefer not to hang out in a toilet.

The larger point I’m trying to make is that our world is filled with too much negative energy. From websites like said message board, cable news and talk radio shows to the local headlines and mean-spirited gossip (which many of us find ourselves engaging in now and then—I caught myself doing so on Sunday), negative chatter seems to be the new American way. Anne and I have been debating turning off our cable service, but then I would miss the Tour de France in July. I am very glad I have the opportunity to get away from the noise and spend time alone and outdoors, doing what I love, which is running. And, of late, we can add skiing to my list of loves.

On Saturday, we ventured up to the mountains to get in some skiing. This was my first time skiing in many years. I’d been avoiding the slopes all year because I’ve never been good at it and didn’t want to risk injury. Truthfully, the last time I skied was maybe 1996 (at either Seven Springs Resort in Pennsylvania or a remote mountain town in Bulgaria while an exchange student—seriously), when I was starting to get fat, out of shape and happy on cigarettes. I did snow board a few years ago, but that doesn’t count.

So on Saturday, I swallowed my pride and took a beginner ski class, quickly discovering that maybe years of trail running have helped me develop the balance, strength and overall athletic prowess to ski decently. Within a few hours, I broke off from the beginner group and hit a few slopes, gradually upping the ante with every descent. While I still have a long way to go in achieving speed and nimbleness, I couldn’t have been more pleased with how things went on Saturday. There are few things more fun that skiing down a 12,000- or 13,000-foot mountain, especially when it’s with your wife. The whole experience kind of lifted me, literally and figuratively speaking, out of the reality of everyday life. I can’t wait until the little guy, who is still learning the fundamentals, is able to hit the big slopes with his mom and dad. I have every intention of being the kind of dad who is still able to kick some butt when I’m 50, 55 and maybe even 60, versus a dad who’s broken down and can barely get out of the recliner.

The bottom line is this: I believe I have a chance at being a good skier and I credit ultrarunning. Saturday's experience in the mountains just reaffirmed my long-held belief that trail ultrarunning, especially when it involves huge rocky descents, narrow ridge lines and other dangers, requires some real athletic skills--skills you won't develop on the road. And I say that with nothing but love for the road. I enjoy road running, but at the end of the day trail running is the best.

So add me to the huge list of Coloradans who love skiing. I see it as a great way to truly enjoy the mountains in the winter and early spring, bond with your loved ones and get in some really solid cross training.

My base-building for the Leadville 100 continues to go well. I just wrapped up my sixth consecutive week of 70+ miles. My emphasis right now is on doing lots of runs but no single runs that will break me down (the longest I'll go right now is 14-17 miles). I'm now going to start stretching my long run, though. My aerobic efficiency has definitely improved, though I’m noticing some allergies, which can sometimes reduce my breathing capacity. I'm not taking in any calories on my runs--with MAF, the emphasis is on fat-burning. I’m planning to stick with the Maffetone Method through April, including the Cheyenne Mountain 50K at the end of the month, and then begin working in some quality in May. The key for me is to get a huge aerobic base, and big mileage, established and then gradually introduce quality. I don’t want to get in shape too soon and then go stale. I’m really pumped about getting to the trails and working in some big climbs.
At this point, I’m leaning toward adding the Leadville Trail Marathon in late June to my schedule. This would mark my fourth straight LT Marathon. For those who have never done this event, it’s seriously hard. You crest 13,185-foot Mosquito Pass at the halfway point and then turn around and run back to town, which is situated at 10,000 feet. The good news is that the last 3-4 miles are basically all downhill (on rocky trail). But you won’t find many marathons that are going to kick your butt harder than the one in Leadville at the end of June. It will make you cry for your momma.

It's good to bring your A game to the Leadville Marathon, especially Mosquito Pass:


  1. I have never understood the hating/bashing and yes ultras seem to be a target often. It seems strange that most of those commenting are not elites but just other recreational runners. Not sure why but suspect it has to do with how some of those people define themselves and there running.

    The online forums are the worst when it comes to road running. Personally I don't bother with them anymore. I gave up after being bashed for being anti road racing. Funny given I teach a clinic for mid level and first time marathoners. Best just to ignore that crap.

    good luck with the training

  2. The message boards at are for comedic purposes only. It's more important to come up with a funny insult than to actually know what you're talking about. They rip on Paula Radcliffe all the time, and she has a somewhat decent marathon PR for a chick.

    That said, the regular letsrun page is hands down the best coverage of marathon and below racing.

    And the guys who run the page have a sense of humor as well. Their April 1st edition called the typical LRCer a 26 year old virgin.

  3. I do not understand hating or trashing another person's love or passion.
    I personally am in awe and inspired by the Ultra Runner's I realize that by reading their posts that my goals are achievable.