Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oregon - There and Back

The Oregon trip was great, though a little taxing.  I am exhausted, but I figure a return to the normal routine, including some regular and consistent sleep, will right the ship quickly.

We had quite the adventure getting out to Portland.  Our flight was supposed to leave DIA at 9:15pm and land in Portland at 10:56pm.  Thanks to the weather that rolled in for ONE night, we were delayed by over two-hours and ended up not landing in Portland until close to 3am.  So we began our trip sleep-deprived.

We hung out in Portland, did the touristy things like eat a Reggie from Pine State Biscuits, enjoy a bacon maple bar from Voodoo Doughnut, wander around Powells Books, and get drunk at Deschutes.  Next, we went south to Eugene, where we met tons of fantastic people and gorged on food of a primarily vegetarian variety.  This included stops at Cafe Yumm, Laughing Planet, Ta Ra Rin, Hot Mama's Wings, Eugene City Bakery, Agate Alley, 19th St. McMenamins, Pizza Research Institute, and several fine bars and pubs.  If I were a bear, I would be ready for a long winter hibernation.

Elizabeth also humored me as I let my track nerdiness fly by wandering around Hayward Field.  I excitedly watched Andrew Wheating do a warm-up on the track while Vin Lananna supervised.  Hayward Field is to runners what the Vatican is to Catholics, what Mecca is to Muslims.  I sat in the stands and marveled at the great races that have been run there by legendary, mythical figures.  It's awe-inspiring, to say the least.

Thanks to all the folks who showed us a good time and greatly appreciated hospitality!

Runner Holy Land.

Bowerman still keeps a watchful eye.

Watching imaginary, long-ago run races in my head.

Truer words have never been spoken.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Off to Oregon!

I never summarized this year's edition of Silent Trails.  I do not intend to do so now.  I am not sure if I will at all.  In lieu of a write-up, here are a couple of pictures from the race, taken once again by the wonderful Wendy Perkins.  As has become the new normal, we were fortunate enough to once again run this race during the first snowfall of the season.  And as is also the custom, by mid-afternoon, it had all melted off thanks to the mid-50 degree temps.

Perfect conditions for a 10M trail race.

Big guns.  L to R: Ted, me, Jay, Gabe (behind Jay), Jason, Nik.  Behind Nik are Nick Clark and the bastard Horsecow.

In reference to the title of this post, Elizabeth and I are off to Oregon tonight.  We have a late flight out of Denver to Portland.  She is going to spend the next few days showing me around her home.  Oh, and I get to see the Waldrons, who are now residents of Portlandia.  I'm looking forward to it.

When I'm back, I'm going to sit down and attempt to articulate what it is I plan to do regarding this whole "running" thing.  I have been contemplating that heavily lately.

Friday, October 12, 2012

New Direction

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it is I want to do with my life and my running.  An articulation of those wants is not fully complete, but I think I have an idea and a starting point.  That is as far into it as I wish to delve at the moment.

Here are a few photographs from a quick trip to Rocky Mountain National Park Elizabeth and I made last weekend.

We also saw these guys at the Bluebird.  Very fun.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Weeks Ending Sept. 23 & Sept. 30 + Jelm Mountain

Running-wise, the last two weeks have been less than stellar and frankly disappointing.  After one of the best training weeks I'd had in literally years, I lost my legs.  I planned to back-off a little before Jelm, but I didn't bounce back well at all.  After Jelm, the wheels really fell off.

My hip has been doing quite a bit better, to the point that I rarely notice it much anymore.  However, my calves are now starting to betray me.  It took me over a week after Jelm to get them to loosen up enough to feel decent over even a six-mile run.  

I wanted to keep plugging away through Silent Trails and into my 50K in Oregon at the end of the month, but given my banged up legs, I'm thinking about just phoning it in for the rest of the month.  We are supposed to possibly see our first snow of the season over the next few days, so quality running days are short.  The snowshoes and microspikes are going to be pulled out of the closet.

Here's the last two weeks plus my Jelm re-cap:

Tues. Sept. 18 - 8 miles in 1:00.  Earlier afternoon run on the Summit-Browns-Headquarters loop.  I was a little sore in the glutes from my decent down Med Bow Peak two days before.

Wed. Sept. 19 - 7 miles in :47.  I originally planned to do 5-6x5min with 1 min off cruise intervals on the Greenbelt.  I got four done and went home.  Super sluggish.  

Thurs. Sept. 20 - 6 miles in :46.  Afternoon run on Turtle Rock trail.  Again, felt super sluggish.  Only thing of note on this run was the cow and calf moose I nearly ran smack into on the southeastern corner of Turtle Rock.  I turned around and quickly exited the area.

Fri. Sept. 21 - 6.5 miles in :45.  Friday form work with Jefe.  Mi casa to the UW track.  Then 2x form drills and 4x200 strides with 200 jog in-between.  Then back to la casa.

Sat. Sept. 22 - 11.5 miles.  Jelm Mountain Run.  After a lot of shit-talking between the Caballo-Vaca and myself (El Perro Hambriento), we finally toed the line to pit our endurance running skills against one another.  Going into the race with a week of sub-par runs under my belt made me a little anxious.  Horsecow actually registered for the race under the pseudonym "Horsecow Owns-Ragan."  There was more than pride riding on this one.  Having that fucker's name like that ahead of mine in the results for all the internet to see was too much of an embarrassment to consider.  I had to do my best.

Starting Line.  Horsecow is in the speedo.  Photo by Cassandra Driver.

Great shot of folks starting the climb.  Photo by Cassandra Driver.

Great cheering crew with awesome and accurate shirts.  Photo by Wendy Perkins.

There is something about this race that just slays me.  I focused for a month on climbing and, as usual, once we started the first climb up from the start, I already felt like I was in oxygen debt.  It's hard to find a groove when your only task is to run over 2000ft in 5.2 miles.  From the start, I let Horsecow go.  I can't race the first 20 minutes of this race.  I simply have to try to get comfortable enough to not convince myself to drop the hell out.

Cool shot.  Photo by Wendy Perkins.

Horsecow initially gapped me by about 50 meters or so, and that gap grew little-by-little until the aid station about halfway up the mountain.  At that point, I woke up a little and started to reel the bastard back in.  I would never get closer than maybe 30 seconds, however, because once we started the last push to the observatory, I fell apart.  My wheels came off.  

In an attempt to not waste too much time at the top munching on pretzels and losing time to those who had already begun the decent, I packed a gel in my pocket and decided to down it right before the top so I could just grab a quick drink and head down.  In my effort to remove it from my shorts, I dropped it.  The last 150-200 meters of the climb are the steepest, and it's easy to say, "screw it" and walk.  I was running, and when I dropped the gel, I came to a complete stop to pick it up.  Holy hell was it difficult to convince myself to get going again.

Horsecow (4th to the top) beat me (6th to the top) to the top by 1:06 (45:21 to 46:27), and, as in years past, I stopped to catch my breath and down a drink.  With that kind of time gap, I cursed at myself and thought, "I can't catch him on the descent."  And I started down.

I didn't entirely give up, however, because first, I still had another runner, Justin, ahead of me. So I started barreling down the mountain.  I caught Justin about halfway between the top and the aid station.  As I passed I told him to go with me after the Horsecow, but he didn't hang (I would put over three minutes on him by the finish).  Horsecow had a sizable lead, and even with the few glances of him I got around turns, I didn't think I could do it.

Until I came off the last big uphill about a mile out from the finish.  There is a clear view of the flat below and I finally got an idea of how close I had gotten.  He was hurting, and I had made up a good chunk of time on him.  So, me being my idiot self, pressed as hard as I could.

Ugh.  Photo by Cassandra Driver.

5th is the 4th loser.  Photo by Wendy Perkins.

Unfortunately, it was to no avail.  I didn't have enough real estate to finish the job.  Horsecow Owns-Ragan finished in 1:14:34 to my 1:14:56.  I got to within 22 seconds of him by the end (a 28:29 descent to his 29:13).  

She made me a sweet warm-up shirt.  Photo by Cassandra Driver.

I wish I knew why I cannot climb this mountain in faster than 46 minutes.  And while my time was a PR for the course, it was a PR by a measly 17 seconds.  Like I said, I was actually pretty disappointed in this one.  I thought I was a little more ready than that.

It was an historic day at Jelm, with 3 out of 4 course records falling.  The big boy, Greg Schabron's CR from 2002, finally went down.  And thankfully, it went down to a newly-minted Hungry Dog, Nik Deininger, who took it from 1:10:59 to 1:10:30.  That record has been assaulted unsuccessfully the last couple of years.  Jenn Malmberg lowered her own women's CR by over four minutes (!) to 1:24:42.  And Michelle Barlow set a new female master's CR with a super stout 1:26:16.  She beat the male masters winner (our own Jefe French!) by almost two-minutes.  It's okay, Jefe.

This race is getting more and more competitive by the year.  I won in 2008 with a 1:15:13.  We put five under that time this year.

One last note:  Two of the "Big 3" Laramie trail races have CRs owned by Hungry Dogs.  Jason still has the Silent Trails CR from 2006, and now Nik has the Jelm CR.  Someone needs to show up at Pilot Hill next year and beat freaking Nick Clark!

Last week was a bust.  After Jelm, it took until Wednesday for me to feel not sore enough to attempt a run.  I made it four miles.  My calves continued to ball up.  I didn't run again until Saturday morning when Jason and I did a very relaxed Silent Trails loop.  He messed up his back pretty bad in a fall a couple of weeks ago.  He and I, we are getting old.  A little less Hungry Dog, a little more tired and sore dog.  I finished the week off with a quick run on Double Black Diamond Sunday that included a tangent up some rocks because BOULDERING!

September: 178 (22:53)
Year to Date: 1286 (151:06)

Gear: Saucony Peregrine 2 (312 miles), Asics SpeedStar 6 (31 miles)