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I know how to pick 'em

Monday, March 28, 2011

I got to Grand Junction on Saturday early enough to go running. I was going to head down to a paved trail along the Colorado River. I ran this trail in the Fall. The trail had some rolling hills but nothing really steep. The elevati0n would be 4,700 feet so there would be more air than I am used to. I was looking forward to a fast 10K.

I never got there. Not even close.

My nephew's wife, Meghan, insisted that there were many good running trails in her neighborhood. My wife wanted to see the baby. Meghan wanted to show off little Alora. I was out voted by a landslide! I have to admit that Alora was a doll and a happy little thing.

Four month old Alora with wild blond hair and big blue eyes.

After holding the baby, making her laugh and getting drooled on, I put on my running stuff and left the house to run the beautiful trails Mehgan had told me about. I never found the trails that Mehgan had described. I did find a dirt trail. I started up the trail. Bad idea!

It turns out the trail went over desolate bluffs. This was also a technical trail strewn with boulders, rocks and loose gravel. Parts of the trail were plastered on the sides of steep hills. Other parts ran along cliffs. Here is a shot of the trail. I put some dots on the photo so you could make out the trail.

Dusty and rocky - this trail was brutal. So much for an easy run along the Colorado River.

I ran 6.5 miles on this trail. At 5.6 miles I stumbled on a rock and went down. I will spare you a photo of my bloody hands and banged-up right knee. I had dodged a hundred rocks. Unfortunately, I needed to dodge one-hundred and one!

I only managed an 11:24 min/mile pace over this mean chunk of wasteland. There were hills on this trail that were steep even by my standards at 30%+. The vertical rise in 6.5 miles was close to 2,000 feet.

I am ready to hop on a plane and go where the weather is nice, the terrain is flat and the biggest obstacle is an errant water sprinkler!

Thanks for reading my rant.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELYMWX 3/28/2011 9:46AM

    You're welcome to come up here!

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BANDMAMAPC 3/28/2011 8:00AM

    You're welcome to use my trail. Flat and the only thing you might have to deal with are garden snakes and maybe a few moms with running strollers. emoticon What a cute baby and name. I love unique names.

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MARATHON_MOM 3/28/2011 6:19AM

    What a precious baby!!! She's a doll!
So sorry the trail was so brutal and you missed out on doing the one that you REALLY wanted to do. And I'm more sorry that you got hurt in the process! Way to shake it off, though! And I don't blame you for looking forward to the only danger of a run being a sprinkler! LOL

I have a trail marathon coming up in May (my first trail one) and I am a bit nervous. I have done one trail 5K and it was something else... so this should be interesting... even though the race website says the trails are "fast and forgiving...."

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TEDDYBABE 3/28/2011 5:54AM

    Alora is a doll. Sorry about the trail from hell. Take that one off the list. Great effort though.

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SUZWARNR 3/28/2011 5:12AM

    Sorry you didn't get to go on the trail you had wanted to do. Sounds like this one was quite awful. I'm glad you survived. Sorry you got hurt. You can come to Maine and run in lower elevation We have hills too, but probably nothing like yours. BTW, the baby is adorable!

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The Battle With The Big Hill and Myself

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I live in the Rocky Mountains. I run hills. I have no choice.

Sometimes I wistfully think I would like to run where it is flat. I also would like to run where there is air. I am just feeling sorry for myself. I didn't go running today because the weather was very cold and extremely windy.

At least I don't have to run where it is hot and humid.

My wife ran early in the day before it got really cold. By the time I finished working, the weather was abysmal. She was so happy she had a great run. I just felt lazy and wimpy.

Besides, we are leaving early Saturday to go to visit family on the other side of the mountains in Grand Junction, Colorado. My nephew and his lovely wife have a new baby daughter, named Alora April Leigh Aldridge. That is a lot of name for such a tiny thing.

When Alora was born my wife called my Sister-in-law. My wife said, "Can I call you Old Granny". My sister-in-law laughed and said "Bite me!"

Grand Junction is a lot lower in elevation at 4,500 feet and, while not flat, is a lot flatter than where I live. In the Rocky Mountains, you don't run hills - you collide with them. Here is what I mean:

These are the roads by my house where I train. Look at the hill by the lakes on the right side of the photo. This is a steep hill. Ouch!

Each day that passes gets me closer to June 18th when I am going to take on a really big hill. I am registered for the highest road race in North America. The Mount Evans Ascent. What does 14.5 miles, 4,000 feet of vertical rise, and a finish line at 14,264 feet of elevation look like? A picture is worth a thousand words.

This is the last little bit of the race course. This is steep.

Here is a better shot of the summit.

This is stretch of road on Mount Evans. The weather can be really bad.

Tomorrow in Grand Junction I am going to do a really long run. Just posting these photos has scared me again. Here is my favorite mountain movies quote to motivate me.

Quote from Jeremiah Johnson (1972):
Bear Claw Chris Lapp (Will Geer) to Jeremiah Johnson (Robert Redford)

"Can't cheat the mountain, pilgrim.
Mountain's got its own ways."

On Mount Evans there ain't no way to cheat, there ain't no way to quit, and there ain't no place to hide.


Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELYMWX 3/27/2011 4:23PM

    Wow! That's quite the name!

And wow, that's quite the hill! Nay, a mountain. While I do tend to run a lot on the flats, I also run on my local hills. People find out how much I do so, and think I'm hardcore. But I run where there is air. You, sir, are truly hardcore, and I bow to your altitude-adjusted fortitude.

I hope you had a great run...


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RAINTHIEF 3/27/2011 8:32AM

    That's pretty awesome! Even though you have to battle those hills, I'm sure your health is better for it! emoticon

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NEVERMIND2010 3/27/2011 1:55AM

    This is funny! Your hills sure do look like mountains to me. I can NOT run hills. I live in the desert - where it is flat, very very hot, and very humid (go figure). There is air, but it is like breathing pea soup - laced with fine sand - in the summertime (basically, May-October).

Enjoy your runs!

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RWALTON730 3/26/2011 2:04PM

    Congrats on the newest member of the family! And yes, that is a lot of name for such a tiny girl.

Your runs look very intimidating, but I know emoticon

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TEMPEST272002 3/26/2011 2:02PM

    I really enjoyed your blog. Made me LOL at several places - especially "I also would like to run where there is air." I often complain (mostly to myself) about having to run hills. But there's hills... and then there's hills. Wow. Your pics have scared me too. Next time, put on layers, windscreen & a hat and do your run. Good practice for your crazy mountain race! Thanks for helping put my own hills in perspective.

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BANDMAMAPC 3/26/2011 12:36PM

    That is scary! I see a tiny hill and I already get anxious,

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ELISA322 3/26/2011 10:56AM

    Double yikes. There is no way I would last out there. Where I run is almost completely flat, we're talking an elevation gain of no more than 185 ft!

Good luck and have a nice visit with your family.

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MOMJMGR 3/26/2011 9:38AM

    Wow Wow WOW!!! That is very steep! I have to hunt for hills in KS...seriously!! I go to the rolling hills in the country that are probably baby hills to you. Great job and good luck with your long run and race!!!!!

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    Oh boy! I'd be scared looking at those photos too. Achee, Machee! Very intimidating. That's when I get to the grind and say "Power On" and just keep moving.

It looks like an amazing challenge.

Enjoy today's run Speedy!


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10 Mile Hill Run

Monday, March 21, 2011

I have found there is nothing more motivating than registering for a race that is way above your head - literally! On June 18th I hope to be on the starting line at Echo Lake (10,600 feet) and making it to the top of the big hill 14.5 miles away (14,264 feet). I know two things: (1) I have to lose weight and (2) increase my training distance. So how am I doing? I am down nearly 10 pounds. I am gradually increasing my mileage from 15 miles a week to 30 miles per week.

I went on a 10 mile base run today. Here are the particulars.

Place: Park County Road 72
Temperature: 41 degrees F
Wind: 10 mph - gust to 25 mph
Average Elevation: 8,350
Vertical Elevation Gain: 2,700 feet (That is quite a bit of "up")

I wanted to keep a good steady pace under 13 min/mile. My pace was actually 12:27min/mile. I know that sounds slow but the hills were steep. The maximum grade was 28%. And the hills were long. Here are some photos:

Long hills take a toll. This hill was several miles long.

This is really steep. I hit 5K at 31:10 and 10K at 1:15:01. I had climbed over 1,200 feet to reach the 10K mark.

What is that guy doing? Is he being chased? These deer are pretty used to people.

This hill hits 28%. I know it doesn't look steep.

Guess what I can see while I am training? Yup - that is Mount Evans. That is a big rock!

Here is another shot of Mount Evans. That ridge on the right is where the road runs. This is not going to be easy.

Thanks for looking at my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MOMJMGR 3/26/2011 9:47AM

    That is a serious incline to train for. I see deer on almost every long run. I love watching the wildlife as I am out on the country roads.

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TEDDYBABE 3/24/2011 6:15AM

    You picked yourself a great piece of motivation. And you can do it!

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    Wowser! Good for you, it all looks very intimidating to me and I do runs hills. (Or so I thought)

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ELISA322 3/22/2011 3:01PM

    Yikes! That's amazing you ran 10 miles out there, I don't think I would have lasted 5 minutes.

Great pictures!

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RWALTON730 3/21/2011 9:22AM

    Hills are not my favorite, but out here they are hard to avoid. Love your pics. Keep on runnin', you can do it!

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CAROLCRC 3/21/2011 8:12AM

    Great job on the run! A lot of hills, and you are already at altitude... I'm impressed. My upcoming 10-miler will be really flat in comparison.

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SUZWARNR 3/21/2011 5:56AM

    Kudos for you for completing such a challenging run. I think your pace sounds great for it. And I love that you are able to find surprises in nature along the way.

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L3DESIGNS 3/21/2011 1:52AM

    That is a tough run! Lots of hills - great job

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ELYMWX 3/21/2011 1:11AM

    Look up! Way up!

Those deer look more content than the marmots...

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Running High - No Joke

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I had gotten complacent in my training. I got comfortable running odd ball mountain races. I like running on dirt much better than running on pavement. I like shorter races much better than longer distance races. I was not training very hard and was kind of stagnating. I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone in a huge way. So I plunked down $75 to register for the most extreme road race I could find, the Mount Evans Ascent.


Prior to registering for this race, I weighed the pros, and the huge number of cons, of running a race that is 14.5 miles, all up hill, at extreme elevation. In end, I just figured nothing ventured, nothing gained. This has work like a charm. I now am paying a lot closer attention to my nutrition and training.

I was looking for a photo of the Mount Evans road for visualization purposes. I have found that the thought of racing 14.5 miles up an icy nightmare of a road is making me creative. I found a good photograph that I have burned into my mind's eye. Here it is:

I hope it is sunny on race day.

This is the Davidson Mesa trail in Louisville, Colorado - a piddling 5,700 feet of elevation. As I ran this trail I kept thinking that I have to be in a lot better shape to take on Mount Evans. I saw this dirt trail as the highway up Mount Evans.

I ran on the Davidson Mesa Trail doing a long slow distance. I ran 6 miles at consistent 10:30 min/mile pace. Six miles is an increase in my training mileage. I could have kept going but it got dark. I usually go a heck of a lot faster for a much shorter distance. I resisted the urge to go faster. I stayed well below my aerobic threshold. I plan to gradually increasing my training mileage. As the snow melts I have to start training at much higher elevations. Right now it is hard to get much above 10,000 feet without running into deep snow.

I found a website that allows people to rate their travel experiences on the highest paved road in North America. Here is a quote from a post by couple from California relating their experiences on Mount Evans:

“Amazing view but watch out for that Altitude!

We had an amazing time up there. The view was wonderful and breathtaking. HOWEVER, my boyfriend definitely got hit hard by the high altitude and barely could walk that quarter of the mile from the parking lot to the top...14,000 ft is pretty high for us, San Diegans. I was getting a headache and I was definitely exhausted after being up there even though we didn't do much trekking."

The headache and fatigue these people experienced is no joke. I think they were dramtically underestimating the seriousness of what was happening to them. The symptoms of fatigue and headaches that the lady describes are typical of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). AMS is thought to be caused by swelling of the brain!

Due to modern high-speed travel, it is conceivable that our friends from San Diego can be at sea level in the morning and at 14,000 feet in the afternoon. The human body is not designed to adjust that quickly to such a massive change in atmospheric pressure and lack of oxygen. A person can acclimatize to high elevation, but is takes a long time.

Now if our intrepid pair stays at the top Mount Evans the symptoms can get much get worse.

The mild first symptoms that our friends from sunny California experienced can progress to High Altitude Cerebral Edema (Hace). The first symptom of Hace is mental confusion. As the condition worsens, a person may have a difficult time keeping up with others. (think about the lady's boyfriend "getting hit hard by the high altitude") As Hace progresses, a person's walking and coordination become impaired. As the brain continues to swell, the person becomes more lethargic. If left untreated, the person will go into a coma and eventually die.

I wonder if our pair of adventurers from the warm shores of Southern California had any idea that the climbing to the top of the earth to take in the "amazing view” could be deadly.

The only problem that I have had when running at high-altitude is Hape (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema). Hape is caused by the body shutting down the parts of the lungs that are no longer absorbing oxygen. This shutdown is a survival response. Unfortunately, without proper blood flow, fluid starts to accumulate in the lungs causing shortness of breath, gurgling sounds when breathing and hacking up white frothy stuff. Hape can lead to respiratory failure. As a result, breathing is no longer possible and it is "lights out". I can tell you that Hape hurts really badly. Forunately, all I have to do is stop running and my lungs will start working again.

I have a really good boiler room. For my height, I have realtively stubby legs which is a giagantic advantage. I have a long torso with great lung capacity.

If I haven’t bored you enough already, I will tell you about one other little problem that indicates that activity at high altitude puts a lot of a strain on the body. There is a condition called High Altitude Retinal Hemorrhage (Harh). Harh is a fancy way to say your eyes start to bleed. Blood vessels rupture in the retina and can cause permanent eye damage or vision loss.

Here is a sign on the summit of Mount Evans that describes the dangers of high-altitude sickness, lightning and hypothermia. I am now training like there is no tomorrow.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TEDDYBABE 3/21/2011 6:16AM

    Okay half the battle is knowing your opponent. So, good job my friend in doing your homework. Put me in your fan club. Good luck with the training.

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    Wow! What an interesting blog. I wish you the best Speedy.

This sounds too scary for me. I've hiked in CO and we did not realize that the Altitude was such a problem as you describe. We did get very "out of breath and tired" and it was a strange thing to us since we were in such good shape. I might have had second thoughts had I known all this.

I am curious about how you will train for this. What elevation do you live at? What elevation do you start feeling it?
I will definitely stay tuned. :Dee

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LKEITHO 3/19/2011 2:05PM

    Glad you have time to get well acclimatized! These issues would be no joke to deal with just on a leisurely visit, never mind when you are going to run up to that height!

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GLADGAD 3/18/2011 8:12AM

    Good for you for taking on this challenge to get you out of your running rut! Coming from Florida, I, for one, don't do well at altitude. I become breathless at a few thousand feet and can't walk more than a few steps when I have to stop and rest.

CLVRock - To answer your question about why do it - because it is a challenge. It's not detrimental to your health if you train properly and it sounds like SpeedyDog knows what he's doing. If you think about it, all of the best marathoners in the world train at altitude. People from around the US move to Colorado to train at altitude. It's actually a huge advantage.

You GO SpeedyDog. I'll be cheering you on from my 18" elevation.

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KELLEE46 3/18/2011 1:06AM

  Yes, I'll say you have some planning & training to do, this run is in June! Keep us posted & happy training.

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RUNNER12COM 3/18/2011 12:50AM

    Wow, what a goal!

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BANDMAMAPC 3/17/2011 9:11PM

    One question, Why? I know it's a way to challenge your stamina, but this all looks scary and detrimental your health.

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Dirty Running Shoes

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chapter 1: Dirty Shoes

My wife decided my running shoes needed to be washed. My shoes have been over many dirt trails and had never been washed. I am not convinced that washing running shoes is a good idea. She told me that the shoes were totally soaked and that washing the shoes would extend their life. I didn't think they were all that dirty.

My shoes look like this a lot.

Here are my poor shoes in the washer. I hope they are OK and have not been drowned.

Chapter 2: Mount Evans Race Training

I may use the Jeff Galloway training method for half marathons, which means a lot of walking. I figure there is no way I can run the whole way up Mount Evans (14.5 miles, elevations between 10,600 and 14,200) . I went to the local track to test out the idea of running and power walking. I ran 1 to 3 ratio of running to walking. I only did 2 miles. My average pace was 11:42 min/mile. I hit 5:28 min/mile on my running intervals. My walking intervals pace were between 13 to 14 min/mile. I was doing this at 8,040 feet. But even at this low elevation, I think I have a strategy for maintaining a 15 min/mile pace during the race

A section of the Mount Evans Road. Don't trip!

This is a resident of Mount Evans. A Yellow Bellied Marmot is watching crazy people running up the road.

Race site:


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELYMWX 3/15/2011 11:27PM

    I, too, have washed my shoes (to get off kids' vomit - I know, TMI) and it worked out fine.

And now I'm trying to decide which I would rather have as an audience, your marmot, or SDJ's rhinos.

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LKEITHO 3/15/2011 3:00PM

    That is a gorgeous view from the road! But I can understand why the marmot thinks you're a little crazy!

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RWALTON730 3/15/2011 8:06AM

    WOW! Running up Evans is quite an endeavor. I don't know if I could hike all the way up. I know you will be great! Hope your shoes are okay. I've washed mine before, too and they came out just fine. Be sure to let them air dry though.

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TEDDYBABE 3/15/2011 6:46AM

    I like the Jeff Galloway approach. The Yellow Bellied Marmot will be impressed with your sparkly white shoes! lol

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SUZWARNR 3/15/2011 6:40AM

    I washed my shoes before too! They come out just fine. Although I've only ever put them in a mesh laundry bag and then put them in the washer. Let them air dry and they are good to go! Good luck with training for your race.

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