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.
Friday, June 18, 2010
I need a few days off from running or exercise. I clobbered myself on Monday while running on a steep and rocky trail. I hiked the same trail on Tuesday so I could snap a few photos for my “Ouch” blog. Wednesday I did cardio on my elliptical and lifted weights. Today, Thursday, I went for a run at noon near Boulder, Colorado. Boulder is at a "low" elevation of 5,500 feet.
I ran up a rutted and uneven trail. The temperature was a blazing 90 degree F. I forgot what I was doing and lost my concentration. I tripped over a rock and did additional damage to my hands and left knee. This tumble was on top of the face plant I did on Monday on the Ben Tyler trail.
Damage inventory, includes:
Multiple cuts and scrapes on left hand
Bruised and swollen right hand
Cuts on left knee
Bruised right calf (This happened when I fell down on Monday - how it happened is a mystery!)
Sprained right ankle
Bruised left elbow
IT Band Friction Syndrome
I don't know how much more of this I can take! I think I may be over-training. Even though my clumsiness is a family legend, I am taking a lot more of a beating than usual. I may need to heal before I go running again.
I think I am a good runner, albeit a clumsy one.
I am a good skier also. I can ski bumps, steep and deep - you name it. Over the years I have had a few skiing injuries. I broke my right wrist. I took out my right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). I destroyed my left posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).
My biggest skiing crash was at Breckenridge. I smacked the ground really hard. I got a quadruple concussion; tore my neck muscles and ligaments; broke three ribs; and had internal bleeding. I did three more runs before I started hurting too much to ski. I got to ride in ambulance. Ambulances are loud. I learned some medical terms including, anaphylactic shock and intubation. I also found out what happens when an EMT calls for paddles! I spent 10 days in the hospital on a morphine drip. I was in rehab for 6 months. I am much better now.
I may live a bit too close to the edge. Tripping over a few rocks while running seems like small potatoes.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I need to find a race to run. I have been holding off registering for a race because of a slightly sprained ankle and a hurt Iliotibial band. I read someplace that inadequate warm-up and hill running can cause Iliotibial band injuries. Inadequate warm-up and excessive hill running pretty much describes my training strategy!
I want to find a nice little out-in-the-boonies race with excessive hill running. I know this may sound crazy. I am just very good at running hilly courses.
I went for a run Monday, June 14th, on the Ben Tyler trail near my house in Colorado. This trail is not an easy run. Just to prove I am not making this stuff up - here is a description of the trail from the Mountain Travel Guide:
"Ben Tyler Trail #606
Rated Most Difficult, the 11.4 mile Ben Tyler Trail begins at an elevation of 8,260' and reaches its highest point at 11,650'.
Beginning at the North Ben Tyler Trailhead, Ben Tyler Trail climbs steeply via a series of switchbacks. The trail becomes less steep after the switchbacks up to a crossing of Ben Tyler Creek, after which the trail gradient increases and the valley tightens."
Another review calls the trail, "extremely rocky and rough"
I didn't run 11.4 miles up the trail. In fact I only ran 1.6 miles up the trail to Ben Tyler Creek. My total distance was 3.2 miles. I was not happy with my time for the 3.2 miles. Here are the specifics:
Total Distance: 3.2 miles
Maximum Grade: 46% (That is what the Mountain Travel Guide means by "climbs steeply")
Average Grade: 25%
Average Pace on Ascent: 13:46 min/mile (I know that is slow but this trail is really steep!)
Average Pace on Descent: 9:58 min/mile (I know this is slow but I was trying to dodge rocks, roots and fallen trees so I wouldn't do a face plant! I was not entirely successful!)
Starting Elevation: 8,260 feet
Highest Elevation: 9,575 feet
Total Time: 37:24
Average Pace: 11:41 min/mile
I started running up the trail at 5:00pm. The temperature was 47 degrees F. This trail climbs up through a series of really nasty switchbacks. The Forest Service put in some nice guardrails made of native trees so you won't tumble off the trail and hurt somebody below you.
This trail is rocky steep and treacherous. I had a blast!
I stopped to hydrate at Ben Tyler Creek. The water is pure and crystal clear. I turned around at the creek. I was going down the steep trail skillfully dancing over rocks and tree roots. I was completely please with my grace and skill. I kept going faster and faster. According to my Garmin I was blazing down the trail at a 7:24 min/mile pace. I slipped on some loose gravel, caught my foot on a tree root and did a spectacular face plant! As I was falling down, I thought, "Oh no - not again!" and "How am I going to stop!" I banged my left knee really hard! Yes, my left side has the bad IT band. My sprained ankle was caught on the tree root. I got some gravel in my left hand. I got scraped-up quite a bit.
I didn’t fall while I was running in Iowa last week. I really am not that clumsy.
Here is what I am thinking – I might as well run a few races even though I am not 100%. A race course is likely to be less hazardous that some of these trail. I may be able to find a good mountain race on July 4th. For training, I am planning on running Burning Bear trail and Slaughter House trail.
Not much of a sign on the highway. Very easy to miss.
Here is the trail head. Doesn't this look inviting!
Lots of information on this sign.
This is really steep. The surface is rough. I did not find this easy to run.
Some trail sections have very loose gravel - very slippery.
I really think that a 13:46 pace up this trail at 9,000 feet elevation is not all that bad.
Here is Ben Tyler Creek The water is cold and pure. Please note the high-tech bridge.
This would be a bad place to trip. The trail is narrow and cut into the side of a hill. A tumble off the side would really hurt.
My left hand is taking a beating. I had already dug the rocks out of my hand when I took this photo. I think only one face plant on this trail was doing pretty good.
There is my car! I am almost done. A total time 37:24 for 3.2 miles is not spectacular. I did survive and hardly lost any blood.
Hmmm - was I wilderness wise? I will let you be the judge.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
I am in Des Moines, Iowa right now (Wednesday, June 9th). Almost a week ago I started writing a blog about a run in the Rocky Mountains on Kenosha pass. I found it difficult to capture the essence of the experience of running at an elevation of 11,500 feet. I didn’t want to sound like a braggart or a fool. I only wanted to share my unique running experience.
This week I have been running in the lush green countryside of Iowa on the Saylorville-Des Moines River Trail. The trail is paved and immaculately maintained. On my first run in Iowa I tooled along having a lot of fun. My Garmin showed I ran 5k in 26:32 at a pace 8:30 min/mile. I did 10k in 53:32 at about the same 8:30 min/mile pace.
As I ran along this great Iowa trail, I thought about my high-altitude run on Kenosha pass. As I ran through a tunnel of green leafy Iowa trees, my run on Kenosha pass took on a remote and surreal quality. I started thinking some of my fellow Spark runners might not easily relate to running at extreme altitude. Now that I am in Iowa for a week, I am having trouble relating to my own high altitude running experience. For better or worse here is my story of my run on Kenosha Pass.
The High and the Mighty
I once gave blood in college many moons ago. After taking a couple of gallons of my blood, the nurse told me to avoid alcohol and strenuous exercise. What did I do? I hit the bar and drained two beers down my gullet. I then went on a long run as fast as I could go.
I was pretty toasted after only two beers. I got really light-headed during the run. I just wanted to see what would happen if I ignored the nurse's stern warning. I had fun. I don't recommend such foolishness. Heck, I was 20 years-old, 10 feet tall and bullet proof!
Unfortunately, I still act the same way.
On Thursday June 3rd, I went for a run. Not any old run. I went on a really hard run. If you follow my blogs, you know I was struck down with a blown left IT band some weeks ago. I was not a happy camper. I tried to rehabilitate my IT band with physical therapy and a hiatus from running. I was trying to be good. I can be good for only so long!
I have been wanting to test myself. I promised myself when the snow was gone from the Colorado high country, I would run the Colorado trail from the top of Kenosha pass. Here are the details of my run:
Date: Thursday, June 3rd 2010, 5:00pm
Distance: 10K (6.22 miles)
Starting Elevation: 10,049 feet (That is pretty high!)
Maximum Elevation: 11,583 feet (That is even higher!)
Maximum Grade: 40% (That is really steep!)
Surface: Rocky with fallen trees. (That maybe a bit dangerous!)
I knew this would be a hard run. I knew this run was the worst thing I could do to my IT band. I did not care one wit! I had been itching to run the Colorado Trail for months.
As previously noted, this trail is high and steep. At high-altitude the air pressure is much lower. Less oxygen is absorbed by lungs. Blood oxygen saturation drops. Another phenomenon is that arterial pressure is reduced, which means less oxygen is exchanged between the blood and the cells. At 11,000 feet these effects are severe. A runner at 11,000 feet is getting 40% to 50% less oxygen than at sea level.
I am pretty well acclimated to high altitude. Part of this acclimation is a reduced heart rate. My heart rate during my high-altitude runs is about 102 beats per minute. The slow heart rate is a response to less plasma in the blood.
I started up the steep trail, or rather, I collided with the trail. The trail climbed at a 30% to 40% grade. I pushed up the trail and I ran as hard as I could. I struggled for every breath. Each step was a victory. Nothing mattered except one more step! I didn’t even notice any pain in my left IT band. My legs and lungs hurt so bad that any pain in my hip did not register. As I neared 11,000 feet the trail flattened. I was 2 miles into the run. All of a sudden my lungs and throat caught fire. I started hacking up white frothy stuff. My old friend, High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), had decided to visit me.
I got this definition from a medical website:
HAPE Definition : “Acronym for High Altitude pulmonary edema, the accumulation in the lungs of extravascular fluid (fluid outside of blood vessels) at high altitude, a consequence of rapid altitude ascent, especially when that ascent is accompanied by significant exercise.”
An accent from 10,000 feet to 11,500 feet in 24 minutes probably qualifies as “rapid”. I wimped-out and decided to turn around and head for lower altitude. I fell going downhill only once, which is a miracle.
My time for my high altitude 10K was:
12 minutes; and
(That is another way to say “SLOW”!)
Average Pace: 11:44 min/mile
Fastest Pace: 6:12 min/mile (downhill)
When I got finished with my run, I felt physically terrible but mentally elated. Runners understand these feelings. How do you know your limits unless you try to push past them? For every runner, anywhere, each step is a victory!
At 11,500 feet there are not many trees. Trees struggle to survive at extreme altitude. The trees that are up there are scrubby and stunted. The massive green deciduous trees of Iowa just amaze me!
There it is! This is the trail sign. If you want a bit of a challenge, I can give you directions.
I think they don't want bikes to damage the fragile ecosystem at extreme altitudes. The forest service is not too concerned about one winded runner will do much damage!
This is the start of the trail and about the only part that is flat. I feel this is a bait-and-switch tactic.
At least the area is scenic. Harsh perhaps, but pretty.
Here is the last evidence of civilization on the whole trail. Kind of a pretty little bridge.
My pretty new shoes are a mess now. I read in Runner's World magazine that a runner has to generate 10 to 20 percent more energy when going up an incline. Is that all? Seems like it takes more.
I fell. I tripped over a big rock on the way down. I am much better now.
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