Tuesday, January 25, 2011
On Jan 10th - Rhonda left a comment on my page:
I would love to do a mountain run sometime. Let me know when something comes up.
I will certainly let you know when there is a quirky little mountain race being held. In my opinion, the best mountain races are the Long Scraggy Ranch Race and the Lake George Flatlander (which is not flat - BTW). These races are not advertised and are usually in May. Both races are really small with 30 to 50 participants.
You might like these races. There is a reason why these races tend not to be well attended.
The Long Scraggy race is between 8,000 to 9,000 feet. The hills are deadly! One segment of the course climbs 300 feet in about a 1/2 mile. However, this segment has 5 separate hills. The hills are about 175 yards apart. On each hill you climb 100 feet then run downhill 40 feet; then you start climbing up the next hill. Actually you climb 500 feet and run down hill 200 feet. Just take my word for it, this is really hard! I ran the 4.25 miles in 42:56, which is a 10:06 min/mile pace. This is a really fun race.
The Lake George 5K is at 8,200 feet and has rolling hills and some really nice flat spots. I got a 27:36 at Lake George with an 8:52 min/mile pace. The strangest thing about the Lake George course is that it has about 5 flights of rough stairs made of railroad ties! These stairs are about at the 2.6 mile mark and turn your legs into rubber for the last 1/2 mile.
There are races in Conifer (8,275ft) and Evergreen (7,820 ft) during the spring, summer and fall. These races tend to be fairly large. There is at least one race in Pine Junction (8,448 ft) each year.
If you want to get serious and are in the mood for highly organized and difficult races that cost bunches of money, check out the Vail racing series. The good news is that these races tend to be at decent altitudes of 10,000ft +.
Does any of this sound good to you?
I run some races down in the Denver Metro Area. Even these town races tend to be a bit hilly. I like the Aurora Trails Day 5K race at the Aurora Reservoir. This race is usually in the first week of June. I am not a big fan of heat and this race always seems to be HOT (85 to 90F in the shade, and there ain’t no shade!) The course is a nice dirt trail, which I like.
I have some tips for mountain race training when you are training on the flat.
(1) Run faster: Ok, I know that sounds stupid. What I am saying is you need to do a lot of training at the limit of your aerobic endurance. A lot of runners train at an easy pace adhering to the time-honored LSD or Long Slow Distance training philosophy. However, doing nothing but LSD is not optimal training for mountain racing. To train for mountain races you have to push yourself to the point where you are breathing extremely hard. If you run out of breath and have to walk, you are doing well. Sometimes this is called interval training. Another form of this type of training is called Fartleks. Fartleks add 60 to 90 second bursts of speed during a normal run. These strategies improve your anaerobic metabolism. Anaerobic means without oxygen. During a mountain race you will be running without oxygen frequently.
(2) Run Longer: Increasing the length of base runs improves VO2 max, which means maximal oxygen uptake. I know this all sounds like a contradiction. Running faster and further is the point right? This where it gets tricky. On some days you run a long ways. On other days you run fast.
(3) Learn to vary your pace: Mountain running is lot more variable that running on flat ground. A steady pace works on flat ground. Keeping up a steady pace running in the mountains is nearly impossible. For example, running up a steep hill may slow your pace to 13 min/mile. Then on a downhill stretch you may need to hit a 6 min/mile pace. On a dangerously steep downhill stretch you may have to slow down to a 10 min/mile pace. On anything that is flat you need to really roll! To learn to vary your pace you want to run at a fast pace and then go faster. About the time you are out of breath, slow way down to a gentle jog. When you catch your breath, take off again.
(4) Get stronger: During a mountain race you are lifting your body up hills against the pull of gravity. In essence you are lifting weights. Anybody that says running doesn’t build strength is likely running at low altitude on flat ground. Leg strength is very important. Squats, leg press, straight-leg dead lift, calf-raises, leg curls and lunges work wonders. Upper body and core strength is also required.
(5) Increase your stride rate: Find a hill. Jog up the hill then run back down the hill. When running down hill, do not over-stride. Strike the ground with a flat foot. To run fast down a hill you will need to take short and fast strides. To slow down, reduce stride rate, not stride length. To speed up, increase stride rate. This stride technique will make you fast going downhill.
(6) Stay tall when running uphill: If you bend your knees too much running up hill, you will bounce and get really tired. We are not talking about little hills, we are talking about hills that you collide with.
(7) Caution: The highest elevation I have done a sustained run was 11,500 feet. When running hard at extreme altitude, you can sometimes experience distorted vision and start hacking up a white frothy stuff. Both are signs of high-altitude hypoxia and pulmonary edema. Even at elevations as low as 8,000 feet the lungs can start to fill with fluid. Your lungs and throat feel like they are on fire. Oxygen deprivation causes blurred vision, tingling in the extremities and disorientation. You could have trouble running in a straight line. When that happens, you need to stop.
Here is Red Cone trail. Note the lack of trees. This is above timberline. Does that look like fun? A 10 minute mile on this trail is an Olympic pace!
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
I saw a shirt in a local store in here in Colorado that had the following printed on the front:
Bring Your Own Oxygen"
I just started running again - and I really suck! I am just getting over a bout with Bronchitis. For some reason I have always been susceptible to Bronchitis. I live at over 8,000 feet. There is not much air up here. The hills are steep. High-elevation mountain runners consider a 10min mile pace to be really cooking along.
I have had to revert to the tried-and-true Couch-to-5K running program to get back in shape. I am on Week 1 of the program. In the vernacular of the C25K program I am on W1D1. My average pace, which consised of walking and running, was a rather embarrassing 13:30 min/mile pace. Yikes!
I looked back at some of my old running accomplishments and kind of cringe.
April 24th, 2010
6.2 miles (10K) in 1:05:37 - Average Pace 10:30 min/mile
Location: Bailey, CO - Elevation 8,120 feet
Course: Mountainous - 20+ percent grade
I was a bit faster at lower elevations:
June 8th, 2010
6.6 miles in 44:45 with an average pace of 6:37 min/mile
Location: Des Moines, Iowa - Elevation 950 feet
Course: Flat with slight rolling hills
What did I do last time I ran?
January 2nd, 2011
1.88 miles in 25:23 with an average pace of 13:30 min/mile
Location: Bailey, CO - Elevation 8,120 feet
Course: Mountainous - 20+ percent grade
I suppose I should be happy. I don't think I can get much slower. I was really hurting after my last run. My hands and face were tingling from lack of oxygen. My lungs were on fire.
I just got to keep at it.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
This blog is a collection of incoherent ramblings. I apologize in advance.
Part 1: Fast For an Old guy
For those of you that are not sports fans, we are in the middle of football season. I officiate high school football. As hard as this is to believe, officiating football requires running. There are parameters for the fitness level of football officials. An official has to be able to run a standing 40-yard dash in 8.5 seconds. There is also a flexibility requirement. An official has to be able to bend over at the waist and pick up a football.
Nobody takes these parameters very seriously, except me. I put myself to the test and found that I could run a standing 40-yard dash in 5.9 seconds! Bending down to pick-up a football was a piece of cake! When I told my crew about my 40-yard dash time, they thought I was crazy.
Running around the field during a football game suites me. I am really good at bursts of speed.
Part 2: Cure for Tendonitis
I was diagnosed a few months ago with acute tendonitis of my left hip. My hip really hurt. The doctor prescribed fairly large doses of Naproxen (Aleve). Aleve helped somewhat. But what really cured me was beer! I am still trying to figure that one out!
Part 3: Halloween 5K and Ex-Wife
After being divorced for 25 years, my first wife, Linda, I have become, much to my surprise, friends. What is more surprising is that my second and final wife, Annette, has become friends with Linda also. What does this have to do with running and fitness? Linda asked me how I lost so much weight and got back into shape. I told her about the Couch-to-5K ® Running Plan and sent her the URL:
My son Benny came over to my house yesterday so we could run together. He told me his mom was running her first 5K on Halloween. Benny told me she followed the Couch-to-5K program to the letter. Linda was never very athletic so I was pleased and surprised to hear she took the program seriously and was going to run a 5K race. I said to Benny, "Hey lets go down and do a race day registration and run the 5K with your mom,” Benny scowled, "Dad, this is a Halloween race. Everybody is going to be wearing weird costumes! I am not going to run in such a silly race!"
This really is not my kind of race either. I like trail races. I missed almost all of the mountain racing season because I was sick. A low elevation race at 5,280 feet might have been fun, costumes and all.
I was planning to run a race this summer along the Arkansas river. This photo shows part of the race course for the “Run the River 4 Mile Race”. You can see the trail on the other side of the river. These are fun races, rocks, tree roots and all. These mountain races tend to be a lot smaller than races in Denver. I just couldn't make this race.
Part 4: Fast 2 Miles
Benny wanted to run a fast short distance. We just ran down my road. The road is dirt and hilly. I really cannot keep up with my son. I tried anyway. We ran 2 miles in a touch under 13 minutes! I wish I could carry that kind of speed for 3.10685 miles (5k).
I ran faster than should trying to keep up with this guy
Part 5: Photo of Speed
My daughter keeps this photo on the top shelf of her closet with her ribbons and medals. This photo was taken during the 4 x 800M relay at the Colorado State Championships. She is the tall redhead in the lead. She is running the third leg of relay and is closing in on the handoff zone. Can she hang on? These three girls are flying and are among the fastest in the state. Perhaps you can see the pain. 800 Meters is a dang hard race. The rest of the pack is way behind these three speedsters. These girls have almost nothing left and are running on guts. They are running stride-for-stride with each other. I think this is a great photo. Who won? They all did!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wow, it has been a long time since I last blogged! I took a break from SparkPeople. At the beginning of Summer I came down with Giardia. About the time I got over Giardia some Iowa egg farmer gave me Salmonella food poisoning. How lucky can a guy get?
I am feeling much better now.
Anyway, I missed most of the mountain running season. Yes, in Colorado there is a mountain racing series. I managed to run only two mountain races. There are still regular races down on the flat that I could do. Even the "flat" races in Colorado can be hilly.
Of course, I am tremendously out of shape. I have also been remiss in recording what I eat. The good news is that I haven't gained any weight. I have not lost any weight either. I have started lifting weights again. I can barely muster about 1/2 of what I had been able to do before I got sick. I am trying to take it easy so I don't hurt myself, which is a new attitude for me.
All is not lost! I can still muster questionable judgement about running.
I went running yesterday for the first time in a month. My common sense told me to find some relatively flat place and take it easy. I did not listen to my common sense. I decided I needed to run in an interesting place. I found a set of trails that were cut into an extinct volcano. For the few of you that don't run up volcanoes, the best words to describe the experience are: steep, rocky, treacherous and fun.
Here is the summary from my Garmin:
Maximum grade: 48% (First 1/2 mile - I am not kidding - that what it is)
Maximum Elevation: 6,080 ft
Distance: 3.6 miles
Average Pace: 12:30 min/mile
A 12:30 pace is not fast. The terrain was very difficult. I guess a 12:30 is not that bad. The 48% grade may have cost me some time. I could not run all the way up that bad boy. I had to walk about 1/2 of it. I had to dodge a lot of rocks too.
I think I can find a place to run that is not so insane. But I am not sure I want to. At least I didn't fall this time
Monday, August 02, 2010
I have not been active on SparkPeople for over a month. Somewhere along the line, my friends nominated me as a motivator. I am humbled to be named as a motivator. I could really use some motivation now!
Six weeks ago I came down with Giardia infection. Recovery takes 6 to 8 weeks. I went through two rounds of powerful antibiotics. I still felt terrible. My doctor told me the antibiotics had likely killed off the beneficial flora in my digestive tract. He recommended acidophilus. I am now feel good enough to start running again.
My vacation from running allowed me to heal from a variety of injuries. Unfortunately, my left hip still hurts like a red hot spike. The pain is actually is above my hip and doesn't feel like Iliotibial Band syndrome. I have had IT issues before. This pain is a whole lot worse. I think I may have ripped the tensor fascia latae ("TFL") muscle. The pain is at the top of my pelvis where the TFL muscle connects. When I press on the muscle it really hurts. I guess six weeks was not long enough to heal the hip.
I am running anyway! I can stand being hurt. I just can't stand not running. Besides, the pain doesn't seem to be getting any worse when I run. I can live with that. I am doing some stretches that seem to help.
Last week I was in Atlanta on business. I knew my fitness level had declined. I figured I would get back to running while I was in Atlanta. The 1,000' elevation in Georgia is a lot lower than 8,500' of Bailey, Colorado. I was hoping that more air would be a good thing. I found a nice place to run near the hotel called the "Big Creek Greenway Trail"
The Big Creek Greenway looked like a jungle to me. As far as I know, Colorado does not have any jungles. Here is a shot of Handcart Gulch trail in Colorado. (Trailhead Elevation: 9,019 feet - Top Elevation: 12,081 feet)
This is what seems normal to me.
I really liked the change of scenery in Georgia. I put on my running stuff, did some stretching and took off down the Big Creek trail. After a mile I was soaked with sweat. Oh my - it was HOT! I found out later it was 96.8 °F and 97% humidity! For comparison, today in Bailey it was 63.7 °F and 44% humidity.
I did not run very well in Georgia. The best I could do was 28:59 for 5K. I have a lot of work to do to become Speedy again. But I am on my way back.
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