Monday, August 31, 2009

August Spending/Miles

August Spending:

Aug 1 - RMNP 80 miles - $8
Aug 2 - Pikes 280 miles - $13 ($20 from Carl)
Aug 4 - Track 25 miles - $2.50
Aug 11 - Track 25 miles - $2.50
Aug 14 - Pikes 280 miles - $32
Aug 15 - Food and stuff - $10
Aug 22 - Tank of gas to, from, at Leadville - $45
Aug 29 - Up to RMNP & back - $10
Aug 30 - Breckenridge Marathon reg - $55


Spending .................. $178
Mileage ...................... 282
Spending per mile ... $0.63

YTD Totals


Jan ......... $456
Feb ......... $284
March ...... $30
April ........ $318
May ......... $498
June ........ $366
July ......... $106
August .... $178
To date .... $2,228


Jan ................ 265 (33,000 feet)
Feb ................ 259.5 (40,350 feet)
March ........... 302 (32,050 feet)
April ............. 247.5 (31,300 feet)
May ............... 513 (67,000 feet)
June .............. 268 (46,150 feet)
July ............... 228 (50,650 feet)
August ........... 282 (56,700 feet)
To Date ......... 2,365 (357,00 feet)
Monthly ave .. 296 (44, 625 feet)

Spending per Mile: $0.94

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mummy Mania

The Mummy traverse, or Mummy Mania as it is commonly called, is a peak-bagging trip across the north-eastern boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. The traditional route is to start at the Chapin Pass trailhead (10,600'), three quarters of the way up the Old Fall River Road, and follow the Mummy Range northeast, taking in six peaks along the way: Chapin (12,454'), Chiquita (13,069'), Ypsilon (13,514'), Fairchild (13,502'), Hagues (13,560'), and Mummy (13,426').

Chad and I had been planning on running this route for quite some time, so we were pretty excited to finally be heading up to the Mummies when we met up at five on Saturday morning. We parked up at the Chapin trailhead and were ready to go by 6:15 or so. We had a super clear morning, and the early morning light from the east was as beautiful as ever.

A little later in the morning from the top of Chiquita (I think)

The plan was to get the traverse done as quickly as possible in hopes that we could get all six peaks bagged and be back down to the Lawn Lake trailhead in under 7:45, which was the fastest time for this trip that we could find on the internet (on Peter Bawkin's website). To be honest, we thought it would be a breeze and were actually thinking more along the lines of getting it done in five or six hours. However, thoughts of an FKT soon became irrelevant as we somehow managed to miss Mount Chapin (by far the easiest peak of them all) on our way to Mount Chiquita, although we didn't figure this out until we found the summit register on top of Fairchild ... thinking we were standing on Chiquita. Doh!

From Chapin to Lawn Lake (with all six peaks) it is approximately 16 miles and 6,500' of climbing, with most of the work between 12,500' and 13'500'. We didn't have much beta on the footing, so assumed it would be a mix of tundra running, boulder hoping and climbing, which it pretty much was, but with way more boulder action than tundra - so to call this a 'run' would be a stretch of epic proportions. With the exception of the first mile or two of trail to Chapin Pass and the last 6 miles on the Lawn Lake Trail, this route is a solid hike. We put in a few token running efforts on some of the less boulder-strewn sections of tundra, but it was hardly worth the effort in terms of making time.

Putting in a token run

Setting out from the trailhead, it was a fairly steep climb on the trail that led straight to and up Mount Chiquita. Somewhere here we should have made a quick cut up to Mount Chapin, but missed it and ended up bagging Chiquita as our first peak. Chiquita was pretty straightforward, with an unmaintained cairn trail all the way to the summit.

Longs from Chapin Pass

Estes Park's southern skyline: Twin Sisters, Estes Cone, Longs

Longs from summit of Chiquita

From Chiquita, there was decent tundra to move on through the saddle to Ypsilon, and we took the peak down in fairly short order.

Spectacle Lakes from the ridge over to Ypsilon

Chad on Ypsilon

The trek over to Fairchild was much more strenuous, with endless rock hopping and plenty of grunting. The climb up Fairchild was also pretty stout, and involved a fair bit of class III maneuvering


A well-camouflaged ptarmigan on the rocks between Ypsilon and Fairchild

Topping out on Fairchild

The saddle between Fairchild and Hagues offered some respite (once off Fairchild) from scree and rock hopping, with some lush ground cover. The tundra was still littered with rock, however, which made running particularly hazardous. We soon gave up any hopes of serious running on the traverse and just settled in for a solid hike the rest of the way.

The saddle to Hagues (the best and most strenuous climb of the day)

Hagues was another stout climb, with some fun class IV climbing near the summit. As we peaked out on Hagues, some weather started moving in and light snow started to fall. It was still relatively warm, and there was next to no wind, so we didn't worry too much. The weather soon passed, although it looked pretty ugly to the south over Longs. We didn't stop long on Hagues, pushing on across the rocks to Mummy Mountain.

Nothing but rocks on the way to Mummy Mountain

The actual climb up Mummy Mountain was pretty straightforward with plenty of rich red vegetation making the footing much easier than on the boulders that had been the main theme of the day.

A nice view of Lawn Lake from a notch in the ridge near the summit of Mummy Mountain

After hitting the final peak of the day, we eased down the southeastern face of Mummy Mountain on a blanket of beautiful red ground cover, which was an absolute blessing after the unforgiving rock we had been bouncing around on all morning.

Mummy Mountain was blanketed

Chiquita, Ypsilon and Fairchild from Mummy

After the big descent down Mummy on our red carpet, we hooked in with a drainage channel and made our way down to the Black Canyon Trail, where we could finally break out a full-on run. It felt great to be running, and we soon picked up the Lawn Lake Trail and ran the six miles down to the trailhead for a total outing time of 7:27.

I think it would have been touch and go on the record if we had taken in Chapin, although I am sure we would have pressed harder if it was in the cards. Once we realized, on Fairchild, that we had missed Chapin, we were fairly deflated, so pretty much decided from there to make it a solid hike on the day rather than push for any time goals. We'll do it up properly next time.

We hitched a ride back up the Old Fall River road from a sweet young couple from Ohio. Our original plan was to run the eight miles back, but then we had also thought we'd get the traverse done in under five hours, so opted to save our weary legs for another day.

Splits if you're interested:

Chaquita: 0:58
Ypsilon: 1:30
Fairchild: 2:59
Hagues: 4:15
Mummy: 5:24
Hit trail: 6:33
Lawn Lake TH: 7:27

Week Ending August 30

Mon -- 11 miles (2,000'). 1:40. To Soderburg TH, up Towers, across Westridge, down Horsetooth, home. (Vas).

noon - 6.5 miles (1,700'). Horsetooth Rock FKT attempt. 26:17 up, 17:36 down, 43:54 round trip. (CLs)
pm - 5 miles track. One mile warm up, then 1,600 @ 5:34, 800 (2:36), 200 easy, 400 (75), 200 easy, 400 (74), 400 easy, 800 (2:42), 200 easy, 400 (73), 200 easy, 400 (72). One mile cool down.

Weds - 8 miles easy on treadmill. (Vas)

Thurs - 14 miles (1,100') to JJs and back. 1:40. Two miles easy, then 10 miles at LT pace (31:40 down to JJs, 34:35 back up). It took me forever to get myself out the door for this one. Not only was it 90 degrees out, but the wind was blowing hard and all 14 miles were on the roads. For me this is the perfect storm of nastiness. Thought I would be able to get by without water, but was feeling dehydrated by about three miles into the run. Got home and weighed in at a puny 134.7. Within 20 minutes of rehydrating and eating I was up to 139. Tough run.

Fri - 8 miles easy(1,650'). Horsetooth/Audra. (Vas)

Sat - 16 miles (6,500'). Mummy Mania with Chad. (WCs).

Sun - 0 miles. Had planned an easy 20 on Blue Sky, but just wasn't feeling it.

Total: 69 miles (13,000').

Sunday was a bit of a disappointment, but also a realization that I can't be hammering the miles week in week out this late in an already long season. Beginning to feel that time goals for Dublin need to go out the window, so I can relax and enjoy the remainder of the good running weather without stressing about hitting mileage goals. The plan from here through October is to get a couple of quality workouts in each week and then run by feel for the remainder.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Horsetooth Rock FKT Attempt

Horsetooth Rock

I run at Horsetooth Mountain Park on pretty much a daily basis, yet I have never timed myself from bottom to top and back, probably because it is just too stressful to do for no decent reason. The catalyst for my speed attempt was a chat last week with Joe, who mans the booth at the upper parking lot. We chat on a regular basis and the other day as I was ambling into the parking lot he called me over and asked if I'd ever timed myself to the top of the rock. I told him no, to which he responded that some guy had asked him the other day what the record was and if his time might be the record. I asked him what that time was, and after learning that it was 46 minutes and change (up only) I told him that people have probably hiked it faster, and that I was confident that I could round trip it in less time.

Although he didn't know the precise route this other guy had taken, I decided that the logical route to take (although by no means the fastest) would be straight up the Horsetooth Rock trail, from the map at the upper parking lot hiking trailhead (by the restrooms), staying on the hiking-only trails to the highest point on the Rock, which is approximately 2.5 miles and 1,500 feet of climbing, with a short stint of class III scrambling up the Rock. This route is mostly rocky, rooty singletrack, with a short stretch of service drive, some stair climbs and some rock running at the base of the Rock. A quicker route would be up the Soderburg and Southridge service drives and around the back via Audra Culver.

One of the stair climbs

So anyway, I set off from the trailhead and hit the Soderburg bench in 4:55, the Rock singletrack in 8:00, the "two-mile point" in 19:45 and the summit via the north side of the Rock in 26:17. I turned straight around and headed back down retracing my steps in 17:36 for a round trip of 43:54.

After consulting Jonathan Vigh's Fort Collins FKT site, it looks like my time is an 'open' fastest known time (FKT) for the longer north side. It seems the standard FKT route is the faster service drive/Audra Culver route, for which the official FKT was 27:05 up, 17:32 down and 44:37 round trip (Matt Bedoukian). With an 'unofficial' shortcut, the ascent record was 26:58 (Matt Bedoukian). Jonathan Vigh still holds the open drop record with a 15:36 descent - 2 minutes quicker than my drop. Jonathan also holds the Horsetooth South records: 43:36 (rt), 15:23 (down).

If you've done it faster or know of somebody who has, then let me know. Until then, I'll put my ascent of 26:17 and round trip of 43:54 out there as Horsetooth Rock FKTs. Now, go beat them!

At the summit earlier in the summer

Monday, August 24, 2009

Leadville '09

Enjoyed a great, but exhausting two days in Leadville this weekend. I was out there to pace Harry Harcrow through the last 25 miles of his bid to break 19:30. As is often the case in these races, things didn't quite go as planned, but I ended up being amazed at the ability of the human body to overcome severe stress in obeying the commands of the cranium. Further evidence that if the mind wants it enough, the body - if physically possible - will oblige.

Dana, Alistair and I rolled into town soon after seven on Friday. We were all excited to be up in the mountains, looking forward to the epic day ahead. After talking a bit of race-day strategy, Harry was soon tucked up in bed, and the rest of us weren't too far behind. I set the alarm for 4:45 in order to be at Mayqueen to watch the lead runners and other friends pass through in the early going.

By the time I got to Mayqueen at 5:30 it was still pitch black out. There were probably six guys in the lead pack, although it was so dark I didn't get a read on who they were. I hung out for another 20 minutes to see how others I was pulling for that day were doing. Nick Pedatella came through a few minutes after the leaders, looking fresh and ready. Harry followed soon after that, and Ryan Burch a few minutes later.

The early morning scene at Mayqueen

Ryan picking through the goods on offer

After watching the lead action through Mayqueen, I high-tailed it back to Leadville to grab some breakfast and pick up Alistair and Dana, before heading back out on the road to the Fish Hatchery, aide #2 on the day. We were just pulling in as the lead runners were arriving. The lead pack had been whittled down to Anton Krupicka and Timmy Parr, who were pushing hard on the road out to Half Moon. It was good to see them pushing each other, but I couldn't help thinking that the pace looked as if it might be a bit too hard. The sun was just coming up above the mountains at this stage and it was looking like it was going to be a clear, hot morning.

Anton heading out from Fish Hatchery

Nick P coming into Fish. Note the smile: good sign

After watching Nick, Harry, Ryan and Corey Hanson file through, I met up with Bryan Goding and we jumped into the truck and headed out to Twin Lakes.

Justin Mock
was already there hanging out watching the action with Karl Meltzer and a few others. Justin had just been out for an easy training run in preparation for his big adventure in the week ahead at the Transrockies stage race. Karl was settled in, kicking back with a cooler full of some nasty-looking beer (NatLite, I think), waiting for the action to unfold. After chatting for a bit, Bryan and I headed out to the top of Hope for a look at the action from on high.

Hopeless Aide Station

From the top of Hope

We got to the top of Hope in short order and were rewarded with picture perfect weather - for spectating. It was getting hot, even at 12,600'. Tony was the first to summit, and was hiking/running hard. Tim was about five minutes back, but moving slower and apparently suffering from cramps. Third through sixth were between 30 and 60 minutes back on the lead two.

Tony power hiking on the pass

Up and away

Tim working up Hope

Anton on Hope, in addition some close-up trail footage (!)

After watching the top five come through, I jogged down with Nick P for a bit before taking off to meet Dana in Winfield. Nearing the bottom of Hope, I passed the two lead runners coming back up. Tony looked like he might be hurting a bit, while Tim said he was feeling much better. The gap looked to be about the same. The rest of the top five on the Winfield road were already a couple miles back.

I hung out for a long time at Winfield watching the top 30 or so runners come through. There was some definite carnage, and a number of people DNF'ed here. The sun was now very strong. Harry pulled in right on schedule, and was soon out on his way back up Hope towards Leadville. Ryan B was in soon after Harry and was still looking great. I was beginning to think that he was finally going to get the 100-mile monkey off his back.

By the time we got back to Twin Lakes, the lead runners were already through. We hung out there for a long time waiting for Harry, and watched a bunch of runners who had been behind him at Winfield file through. Not a good sign. Ryan came through and told me that he'd passed Harry sitting on a rock complaining that he was exhausted. By the time Harry finally arrived, it was evident that he was in a bad place. He was trembling uncontrollably and was having a very hard time getting anything down. In addition, he had emptied his stomach somewhere on Hope - classic signs of heat stroke. He took 20 minutes at Twin Lakes before finally heading back out.

Harry (Jr) and Alistair oblivious to the plight of Harry (sr) at Twin Lakes

Who needs toys when you've got a big pile of dirt to play with!

From Twin Lakes, Dana, Alistair and I headed back to Fish Hatchery and fed the fish, chatted and generally killed time waiting for Harry. I got a call from his wife, Gina, saying that he was running again, feeling better and just three miles out from the aide. Coming into Fish Hatchery, he looked to be in a better place, but said he still felt like crap. With the big climb up Sugarloaf Mountain ahead, I had a feeling that I was in for a long 25 miles of pacing.

We ran the road out of Fish Hatchery at a moderate pace and then settled in for the long hike up the Sugarloaf powerline cut. We settled into a pretty strong hike and were soon passing Jamie Donaldson, second in the women's race, who was moving very, very slowly. About half way up powerline, Harry stopped abruptly and emptied the contents of his stomach, which didn't amount to much, but included everything he had attempted to get down at Fish Hatchery. Oh, boy!

Despite the latest of Harry's many puking sessions, he was soon moving again, although a little more gingerly now. The top of the climb did of course finally come and we were soon jogging down the jeep road to Hagerman road. Harry managed to run this section without too much trouble, albeit at a very slow pace. By the time we hit the Colorado trail and the last mile or two before Mayqueen, things slowed considerably, to a walk in fact, even though we still had gravity working in our favor. Maybe a mile before Mayqueen, the lowest of Harry's many low points that day left him hugging a big rock in the middle of the trail dry heaving what bile was left in his gut. There was pretty much nothing I could do at this point, so I just stayed close and attempted to sympathize with his plight. He was telling me that he had no idea how he was going to finish, to which I responded that the finish line was unimportant; we just needed to find a way to get him to Mayqueen. Once the stomach contractions stopped, Harry managed to get to his feet and we walked the remainder of the trail to the road, after which we were able to break out a jog into the aide tent.

After weighing in 10 pounds light, and failing to get much food down, the nurse on duty told Harry that he needed to take a nap and then reassess. We gave him 45 minutes on the cot, and at midnight woke him up. The nap, it seemed had worked wonders. Harry was alert, talking up a storm and inhaling potato soup and electrolyte drink. A further 20 minutes later and we were up and running (literally). We ran almost every step of the Turquoise Lake singletrack, passing well over ten runners. By the time we emptied out onto Dam Road, Harry was running out of juice again, but we were now down to 10k to go, so it was just a question of keeping forward momentum and mental positivity.

Having been through the travails of a 100-mile race, I know how impossibly far the last 6 miles can seem, but somehow Harry found the legs to get it done, and even managed to pass a few more runners up the Boulevard, pushing out a run when the grade allowed. The finish line finally came into view, and despite the brutality of the day, Harry was able to cross in a still-respectable 23 hours and 10 minutes.

At the 83 mile point of my first 100 miler this year, I was telling anybody that would listen to me that these races are complete and utter insanity. After watching Harry go through the depths of despair up and over Sugarloaf Mountain, I was reminded of that moment, and also how relatively easy I had actually had it in Wyoming. The only issues I really had to deal with were severe fatigue and some moments of major doubt somewhere in the middle of the night. I'm still not sure I ever want to do one of these events again, but I'm sorely tempted to give a fast course, such as Leadville, a shot just to see what I can push out. I told Harry on Sunday that he is now indebted to pace me sometime in the future, and I'm beginning to feel like that might be Leadville 2010.

Finally got to bed at close to 5 in the morning after waiting for Harry to regroup for an hour in the med tent. Although I was desperate to get to bed, I was lucky enough to find a stash of beers, four of which I put away while watching Brooks Williams, PitBrownie and Corey Hanson, among many others, cross the line. Good times. After getting back to the rental house, I was immediately asleep, only to be awoken three hours later to the sound of screaming kids. Life goes on despite the stupidity of us adults and our ridiculous undertakings!

Congrats to Timmy Parr on pushing through and getting it done (and proving me right in the pre-race predictions game). Congrats also to Nick P for meeting his sub-20 goal and his strong sixth-place finish; to Ryan B for finally getting the LT100 monkey off his back; to Corey Hanson on completing his quest for Leadman status; and to the many, many others who got the job done.

If after reading this you have any doubts about how hard it is to run 100 miles up and over mountain passes at high altitude, take a read of Anton's blog and his shot at Matt Carpenter's course record. On a cooler day, I think he may just have gotten the job done.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Week Ending Aug 23

Mon - 8 miles (1,650'). Audra/Horsetooth. No watch as I figured I'd take this one good and easy after the effort on Pikes two days prior. Legs, however, had other ideas, taking me on a zippy ride through my daily runner. Legs felt about as fresh and peppy as they have since Bighorn. Not quite sure what to make of it, but it sure felt good to be moving that easy after two months of laboring through my training runs. (Vas)

-am 8 miles steady with Ryan. Pineridge. (Vas)
-noon 8 miles steady (1,650'). 1:12. Audra/Horsetooth. Creaky start, but felt good once warmed up. (Vas)
-pm 5 miles track. Wasn't setting any speed records at the track tonight, but then again it was the third workout of the day. Two lap warm up, then 800 @ 2:40, followed by 4 x (800, 100 easy, 300, 400 easy) @ 2:42, 58; 2:44, 60; 2:45, 60; 2:43, 59. Two lap cool down. Had to work hard for these mediocre reps.

Ran three sessions today as a motivator to start getting serious about cranking the miles in preparation for Dublin. If it doesn't happen soon, it ain't gonna happen at all. Or something like that.

-noon 8 miles easy (1,650'). 1:15. Audra/Horsetooth. (Vas)
- pm 8 miles easy w/ Chad (1,300'). 1:18. Coyote Ridge to Indian Summer junction and back. Saw a big prairie rattler on the way back between Blue Sky Ridge and Coyote Ridge. Chad was running point and totally missed the snake, who was off to the side of the trail. I shouted and had Chad jumping out of his skin. Nice. Snake was totally disinterested in us as we gawped for a bit. Stay vigilant out there FoCo runners. (WCs)

Thurs - 8 miles easy (1,650'). Audra/Horsetooth. (Vas)

Friday - Off

am - 10 miles (3,800') Twin Lakes to Winfield. Leadville. (WCs)
pm - 25 miles (2,600') Fish Hatchery to Leadville pacing Harry. (WCs)

Sun - Off

Total: 88 miles (14,300')

Attempted to kick start training for Dublin with a 100-mile week. Ran out of juice and desire through the second half of the week. Running is starting to feel a little too much like hard work. Looking forward to November and some rest.

Wildcats: 166 miles
Crosslites: 124 miles
Vasque: 117 miles

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Leadville 100 Predictions

I won't be running myself, but I will be in America's highest incorporated town this weekend with the family following the action in the early going before pacing Harry Harcrow to a sub-19 hour finish through the last 25 miles. Sub 25-hour runners get the big dinner plate belt buckle, but the real challenge is the 20-hour mark. Here's a quick look at a few of the names that could, and maybe should, be getting back into Leadville before midnight.

The Contenders

I'll start with the front of the field and the headline match-up: Tim Parr vs. Anton Krupicka. There is absolutely no doubt that Parr is fit and ready, having just won the US Mountain Running qualifier at Cheyenne Canon a few weeks back, in addition to destroying the field just four days ago at the Pikes Ascent in a blistering 2:12. He trains at high altitude, has surely been running high mileage, and will surprise a few people who maybe haven't heard of him before and think this race is all about Tony. Which brings me to Krupicka, two time winner and second fastest ever over the course. Not only has Tony won the race twice, but he also lives and trains through the summer months in Leadville. He set a very impressive course record at the USATF 50 mile championship a few weeks back, and appears to be in great shape. If I were a bookmaker, I'd have to make Tony the favorite, but I certainly wouldn't be offering any better than 2-1 on Tim.

My pick? I'm gonna stick my neck out and say that Parr wins this duel, but not necessarily the race.

The other contender for the win? Dennis Flanagan. He came from nowhere to win the Leadville Marathon, setting a seven-minute course record in the process and beating Tony by a convincing eight minutes. For whatever reason he didn't show up for the Leadville 50, so there might be some injury doubts, in addition to doubts that he can go the distance (having never run a 100 miler before - as far as I know), but he certainly knows how to run trail and how to run trail fast. Definitely a wild card.

The Chase Pack

Nobody is giving much love to the defending champ, Duncan Callahan, in discussing this year's race, which is a mistake. He may not have the ability to run 16 hours, but he'll be in the vicinity should the lead runners crumble and whither under too hot of a pace. Duncan had a solid run for third at the Leadville Marathon, in addition to a few other races through the season, but his focus appears to be 100% centered on Leadville. He trains hard, has a strong competitive spirit and will be ready. Look for him to beat his winning time of 18:02 from last year.

Zeke Tiernan was third last year in a strong 18:37. I have no idea how his season is going, but based on last year's finish, he has to be considered for a top five this year.

Andy Jones Wilkins has been running well this year, as he seems to do most years in the 100-mile category. He won Rocky Raccoon, placed 10th at States, and then followed that up a couple weeks later with a very strong run at Hardrock. You can count on Andy to sweep up any carnage that comes his way through the last 25 miles. Top five.

Harry Harcrow is another steady 100 miler who knows how to get it done. He's shooting for a PR, so anything under 19:30. I'll be pacing him through the last 25 and will be wielding the whip. I hope to get him home in under 19 hours, but first he's got to get to Fish Hatchery in one piece and on pace.

Nick Pedatella has been logging some big miles in training and says he's hoping to go under 20 hours. He is more than capable of going under 20. Nick, you should be looking at the 19-hour number!

Ryan Burch. Well, all I can say about Ryan and Leadville is that he proposed to Megan, his wife, on top of Sugarloaf last year on the way back to Leadville, all while blowing up big time. This followed a similar disappointment the year before (the blowing up part). That said, he keeps pushing out impressive 50-mile performances, including wins at Leadville and Jemez Mountain this year alone. He's pretty steadfast in his desire to 'get it done' in under 25 hours, all while not suffering too much, regardless of how much I've been prodding him to run competitively. If he can get to the turn and back over Hope in good shape, he might mount a late charge, but don't look for him to be running too hard; he just wants the monkey off his back.

Charles Corfield has had a couple of strong finishes at Leadville. Look for him to run under 20 and challenge for a top five.

Jeff Beuche has gone under 20 hours before and finished top three in '06. No idea what kind of shape he is in this year, but should run strong.

Glenn Steckler has had some good 50-mile finishes this year, including a fourth at Fruita and fifth at Collegiate Peaks. He ran Leadville in the 22-hour range last year. Has the potential to go faster.

Jason Koop has run Leadville in the 22-hour range. Could be there again for a top ten.

Other names I recognize that could run well

Todd Ganglehoff
Garrett Graubins
Scott Klopfenstein
Ryan Cooper
Bryon Powell

Shout outs

Kirk Apt is running his 15th (or something like that) Leadville this year. He won way back when in a record-slow winning time. The trails were rivers that year, apparently.

Jonathan Zeif is a friend, local trail runner and member of the Fort Collins Running Club looking for the big 1,000 mile belt buckle this year. No doubt in my mind that he will get it done, it's just a question of how fast he will go.

Doug Nash is another friend and member of the Fort Collins Running Club. He's had two good finishes at Leadville and is dogged enough to pull off a third, despite a sketchy training build-up.

Corey Hanson is another local trail runner and occasional running partner. Normally I would put him higher in the rankings as he is a fast runner, but he's been dealing with some Achilles issues and is deep into his bid for Leadman'dom. With a finish on Saturday/Sunday he becomes a Leadman. No doubt in my mind that it will happen.

Jeff O'Reilly has had a nightmare season with injuries, and he dropped from last year's race. He hasn't run much, if at all, in the last two months, but I'm pulling for him to save his season by getting a finish at Leadville on Sunday.

Brooks Williams is Anton K's former room-mate, landlord, and all around nice guy. This will be his first 100, so I hope he's been getting some good advice from Anton.

Jon Teisher, aka PitBrownie, will be looking to set a PBR consumption record over the course of a 100 miler. I believe he put away three at Hardrock in addition to a shot of whiskey and a fat cigar. I know he can do better at Leadville. Oh, and he's looking for some redemption on his DNF from last year. Go get it Brownie!

Top ten prediction

Tim Parr
Anton Krupicka
Duncan Callahan
Zeke Tiernan
Dennis Flanagan
Andy Jones Wilkins
Harry Harcorw
Nick Pedatella
Jeff Beuche
Charles Corfield


The women's race looks to be a three-filly affair with Darcy Africa, Jamie Donaldson and, to a lesser extent, Anita Fromm in with a shout. If I had to pick a winner, my money would be on Darcy, but Jamie is a very strong and experienced 100 miler. Coming off her repeat win at Badwater a few weeks back, she should give Darcy a run for her money. Anita is much slower than these two, but should be good for third.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week Ending August 16

Mon - Off. Sore from Longs.

Tues - 8 miles easy (1,650'). 1:15. Horsetooth/Audra. (CLs).

Weds - 8 miles steady with Ryan B (1,650'). Horsetooth/Audra. (CLs)

Thurs - 6 easy Pineridge, then paced Amy at Mtn Ave Mile (5:32). (Vas)

Fri - Off

Sat - 1 mile warm up, 13.3 miles (7,800') up Pikes. (CLs)

Sun - Off. Legs felt great, except for an overextended right knee. Decided to rest rather than join FCTR for a planned easy 20 miler.

Total: 36 miles (11,100 vertical feet)

Wildcats: 123 miles
Crosslites: 124 miles
Vasque: 77 miles

Not exactly a stellar week on the mileage front, although vertical still over 10k with the big effort on Pikes. Time now to start getting serious about jacking the miles back up for Dublin, in addition to hitting the road for faster marathon-paced runs. Ugh! All being well, September will be a big month.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pikes Peak Ascent - Bubble Boy

In tournament poker they have a nickname for the guy who is the last one eliminated before people start getting paid: bubble boy. Today on Pikes Peak, I was that guy, although we're talking shoes, not cash!

In the days leading up to this race, I wasn't feeling too motivated by the prospect of running 13 miles and 8,000 vertical feet to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain as hard as I could; at the four-mile point in the race, I was sitting in 20th place feeling even less enthused about what lay ahead, swearing to myself that I would never be back. Sitting here writing this blog post, I'm plotting my return and thinking about some unfinished business up there on Captain Pike's mountain. Running's a funny old game.

So I got into Manitou Springs shortly before seven, just in time to pick up my bib and to take a quick walk into town to see if I could find a coffee shop that would be open early enough for coffee at five. I couldn't. Lucky for me, I bumped into George Zack - Mr. Pikes Peak of the blogosphere - on my way back to the car, and he was kind enough to offer me a bunk for the night in the spare bed of his room at the Silver Saddle Motel. The room had a coffee maker, meaning my caffeine dilemma for the morning was resolved. The added bonus was that I wouldn't have to sleep in the back of the truck. Worth two minutes off my finish time? Maybe. Thanks, George!

After shooting the breeze and talking Pikes for a bit, I got down for a great night's sleep. Got up, made the coffee, downed two glazed donuts and got ready for the off.

Photo: George Zack

As usual, I bolted from the gun as if I was in a mile race, but soon found my pace and settled into a second pack of runners behind a lead group of Simon Gutierez, Tim Parr, Alex Nicols, Payton Batliner and a couple others. In the video below I'm on the curb in the big chase group at the turn for Ruxton.

By the time we hit Hydro Street (8:43), I was sitting in 13th place, looking at an already sizeable gap to the lead runners. By the spur to the Barr Trail, I was probably 15th and beginning to feel like it was going to be a long day. My legs didn't have the zip I wanted and things felt labored. I remember thinking to myself that I was probably in for something of a suffer-fest and that all bets were off with regards to pre-race goals.

Tucking into the opening few switchbacks, through the steepest section of the course, I was sure I was in for a miserable morning. My legs felt heavy and the runners in front looked to be moving effortlessly. Somehow, however, I managed to keep my place in the pecking order through the 'W's, but was soon passed by a slew of guys as things leveled out a bit at the top of the 'W's. According to my count, I was running in 20th by No Name Creek (43:13) and losing ground. It was still early in the race, and I knew the real action wouldn't happen until after Barr Camp, so I actually felt good about getting out of the claustrophobic pack, even if it left me with a ton of work to do if I was going to meet my goal of a top-ten finish.

After taking a quick glance back on one of the longer stretches, I now realized that I was essentially on a training run; there was no one in view behind and not a soul to follow in front. This was the turning point in my race.

Through the rollers to Barr Camp, I felt the weight lift from my legs and finally began feeling like I was warmed up and ready to race. Not far from Barr Camp, a couple of singlets started coming into view. First a neon yellow one, then a red one, then a green one. I recognized them all as belonging to the pack of guys that had stormed past me at No Name Creek. Game on.

By Barr Camp (1:15:48), I had caught 19th and was soon easing past two other guys who were still moving well, but obviously slowing. Okay, I thought to myself, three down, seven to go. And so it was, all the way up to A-frame, picking off guys who had overextended themselves in the early going. By A-frame (1:49:02), I was sitting in 12th having just passed Gerald Romero, the last of the guys who had gone by me earlier. However, while the others I passed were soon out of sight behind, Gerald was hanging tough and pacing off me.

Immediately above tree-line, with three miles to go, I caught sight of a runner in an orange singlet, 11th place. Hmm, maybe a top ten was still in the cards. I was feeling strong and all I needed was two more runners. As I'm thinking this, I get a surprise from behind as Gerald eases by me looking like he's found a new gear, putting me back in 13th. I watched from afar as Gerald laid down the hammer and quickly caught the orange singlet in 11th (Johannes Rudolph). I, however, was gaining ground on Johannes very slowly. As best I could judge, he probably had 90 seconds on me at the two-to-go marker. When I saw the 2:05 split I realized that a 2:30 wasn't going to happen, so 2:35 quickly became the new goal. Top ten was still a reality as far as the race was concerned, although I was beginning to feel somewhat resigned to 13th.

Between miles two-to-go and one-to-go, there is a long straight stretch across the face of the peak that allows for unobscured views of the trail ahead. I counted four guys that I could maybe catch, Gerald included, but I'd pretty much given up on him as he looked to be getting stronger and stronger, now running in 9th. Johannes looked to have picked it up a bit and was probably moving at about the same pace as me in 11th, while the guy now in 12th (Batliner) looked like he might be slowing, and by the time I got to the switchbacks at the end of the traverse it was apparent that he was, while the guy in 10th (Zach Thomas) had been reduced to a hike and was being overtaken by Johannes and Batlinger.

I knew I had the two immediately in front, but also knew that I wouldn't catch Johannes. There was a shot of beer on offer from Pit Brownie not far from the end. Knowing my fate was now decided, I reached for the beer, but fumbled the hand-off. It was probably Pabst Blue Ribbon, so I wasn't too sad to watch it hit the ground as I continued on.

And that was the race. I picked off Thomas somewhere around the one mile mark, and Batliner just before the Golden Steps, finishing 11th in a time of 2:35:40. I was able to close the gap a bit on Johannes, but just couldn't reel him in through the last mile. Tenth was worth a pair of La Sportiva shoes (~$100 essentially), but even with that motivation I couldn't get it done.

Almost done. Photo: John Garner

Stick a fork in me, I'm done!


Hydro ........ 8:43
No Name ... 43:13
Barr Camp . 1:15:48
BP .............. 1:27:48
A-Frame .... 1:49:02
2 to go ........ 2:05:24
1 to go ......... 2:19:16
Finish ......... 2:35:40

Tough race, good times, and I hope to be back for the up and down version next year for a spot of redemption. On a side note, Johannes was the winner of the inaugural Blue Sky Marathon last October, which is put on by members of the Fort Collins Trail Runners. He'll be back this year, as will I, so it'll be fun to see how it plays out on an entirely different course.

Oh, and congrats to Tim Parr, who's 2:12 is reportedly the fastest (Matt Carpenter excluded) ascent since 1997. And thanks to the race organizers who put on a supremely well managed event.

Results here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pikes Peak preview

I've been finding it hard to get excited for this Saturday's jaunt up Pikes Peak as the race wasn't really on my radar until a couple of weeks ago when I decided on a whim to put in for a competitive entry.

So when word came that I was in, I was able to find a bit of enthusiasm, but mostly because I'd be running against some of the best mountain runners in the country, not because this is something I really want to do. Having run up this monster at a decent clip a couple of weeks back, I have no misconceptions about what's ahead: 150 minutes+/- of extended hurt. After a tiring season, that kind of burn is hard to find motivation for. In addition, my training has been pretty lackluster since Bighorn - in and around 50-60 miles per week - which means the run is probably going to hurt that much more.

Don't get me wrong, I know full well that my competitive juices will ensure that I max out on the race, I'm just not looking forward to it that much. My mind is more preoccupied right now with enjoying some sweet high-altitude adventure runs than it is with hyperventilating for two miles and then burning my legs and lungs endlessly uphill for a further 11. I mean there are worse things that I could push myself to do on Pikes, like nudging a peanut up the mountain with my nose - as one guy apparently did 10 years ago (it took him three weeks) - but still it does seem like something of an exercise in futility.

Okay, general lack of motivation and poor-pitiful-me whinging aside; as far as race strategy goes, I have revised my original plan of caning the front half as hard as possible in favor of a more measured let-the-race-dictate-the-pace approach. My goals are twofold: finish top ten and run as close to 2:30 as possible. Considering my current level of fitness and the competition, I consider both of these to be stretch goals. So anyway, I'm going to try and go out with the top couple of packs, while remaining vigilant of my place in the race. Hopefully, I'll be able to run top 15 through the first half and then up the pace past Barr Camp to pick off the guys I need to pick off in order to get into the top ten. My top-end speed is probably weaker than most of the guys shooting for strong finishes, but mountains are great speed equalizers, and I'm confident that come the last few miles I'll be passing some of the early guns, especially as the air thins. So we'll see.

Research on the competition for the Ascent has been done by others in the Front-Range, trail-running blogosphere, so rather than duplicate their efforts, I'll just point anyone who is interested in such things to the previews of Justin Mock and George Zack (both of whom are looking good for top-ten finishes in the Marathon on Sunday).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Longs Peak

After a pretty lackluster run at the Rat Race 10k on Saturday, I decided to try and get a bit of mojo back for Pikes next weekend by putting in a solid run/scramble up Longs Peak, the most dominant of all peaks along Northern Colorado's Front Range. Due to its proximity to urban centers and Estes Park, this mountain is heavily trafficked, probably the most trafficked in Colorado.

Heavy traffic coming up and down the 'Homestretch'

Not surprisingly then the range of abilities on the mountain ranged from serious climbers (although not too many of those in evidence today) to casual hikers who had no idea what they were getting themselves in for when they agreed to take on Longs. I saw some genuine fear in a few people's eyes on some of the sketchier stuff near the peak. This is after all a serious mountain with no sympathy for the trivialities of human existence. Considering the log jams we encountered through a few of the crux areas on the mountain, I was surprised to learn from the rangers once we were done that there had only been five serious accidents this year and just one fatality (heart attack).

Getting back to yesterday's 10k, I was disappointed to put up a fairly pedestrian 37:22. With some pretty strong winds, my splits ranged from a 5:17 tailwind-assisted mile to a 6:15 last mile into a howling headwind! The winner, Cliff Campbell, still managed to run a 33:xx, which, considering the conditions, was pretty impressive.

Feeling pretty deflated with regards to Pikes after yesterday's race and a poor run to Barr Camp last Sunday, I was ready to get out and have some fun running up to Longs' Boulder Field and then hiking/scrambling the last mile or two to the summit. Got a ride to the TH with Ryan, where we met Nick P and got started. The trail up to the Boulder Field is very well maintained, so the run through these first five or six miles was pretty relaxed and uneventful. Got up in 1:19 and then hopped across the boulders heading towards the Keyhole - a notch in the ridge between Longs and Storm peaks. It was blowing pretty hard by the time we got there, but not too bad.

Nick posing on a boulder under the 'Keyhole'

The terrain beyond the Keyhole is definitely more serious than anything leading up to it, and it is this last stretch that I am sure gets a few people into trouble every year. We traversed on ledges around the peak following red and yellow bullseyes towards the Trough - a large gully that ascends towards the summit of Longs - where the traffic was heaviest. By this time we were well above 13,000 feet and many of the people we passed looked to be working very, very hard. Because much of the terrain on the Trough is loose, the most serious danger here is probably falling rock from those above. Near the top there was a slightly more difficult section to negotiate, and there was litterally a line of people waiting to get up or down.

After we finally got up the little notch section at the top of the Trough, it was a short jaunt across the Narrows - an exposed ledge - to the Homestretch. Ryan and I pretty much ran the cracks up this last section for a summit time of 2:01 and 5k of climbing. The weather was pretty good on top - just a bit windy - and we sourced a nice spot on the east side of the summit that was free of people, sheltered from the wind and bathed in sunlight as we waited for Nick to get up.

Looking east from the summit to Chasm Lake

A well-fed Marmot scrounging for food at the summit

We were very casual in getting down and actually took 5 minutes longer on the descent than on the climb for a round trip of 4:07. One serious-looking hiker (lots of expensive gear) called us show-offs (!) as we eased past him at the Boulder Field, while a lady with a kinder disposition labeled us her idols as we neared the end of the run. Whatever, just getting a workout in, as Ryan explained to disgruntled hiker-man.

Stopped for a photo op at the bottom of the Trough

On a sidenote - saw my buddy Eric Lee from the Fort Collins Trail Runners coming down from the Keyhole. He was well on his way to finishing the 'Radical Slam' (solo) having started six hours earlier at 3:30. What's the Radical Slam? Well it's a climb and traverse of all 7 peaks in the Longs Peak Massif region; Meeker, Longs, Pagoda, Storm, Lady Washington, Battle Mt, and Estes Cone. Phew! Funny sometimes where you bump into people.

Eric at the 'Keyhole' (in the red hat)

Eric was soon hopping the talus up Storm

Wore the Wildcats on this one, and they held up really well on the rock. The grip was great and the shoe, despite its minimalist toebump, was totally solid in protecting the foot on rough terrain: front, sides and bottom.