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Strollers, Costumes, Mountains and Bandages

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I really enjoy reading the blogs of Spark runners that have done things I haven't done. I try to imagine what it would be like to run with 30,000 other runners. I think that running a race along an ocean would be fun. I like to hear about races where people push strollers or wear costumes. I wonder what it would be like to run with people that are having fun in nice sunny places.

I live in a different world. I am a born mountain trail racer.

I have raced on glare ice and in deep mud. I have had to dance over roots and rocks. I have bounded up slippery dirt stairs. I have had to push through willow bushes that stung my arms and face. I have raced in freezing temperatures and icy winds. I have crossed a finish line smeared with sweaty blood and needing a few bandages. I run races that are at 9,000+ feet of elevation over rough terrain. Most of the time there are only a handful of participants at these races.

I sometimes think my blogs about running and racing are remote, and not very accessible. I wonder if anyone reads my blogs says, “I know exactly what he is talking about.” I count on the support of my SparkFriends, even though I am an oddball runner. On my last blog “Up” I mentioned that I ran a "pokey" 11:36 min/mile pace for 3.25 miles. The fact is that 11:36 min/mile pace up a 20% grade at an elevation of 11,000 feet is actually blazing fast! It just sounds slow.

I could register for lighter races. I even know how to find these races.

Here is one that is on Sunday, April 10th.
3rd Annual Flying Pig 5K Charity Run/Walk

Fee includes tee-shirt, individual picture, AND pigs in a blanket” pancake breakfast

Even though flying pigs are cute, a race is a race. There is a starting line and a finish line separated by 3.11 miles. There are many races like this one every weekend. I keep thinking I should run a “fun” race. I just don’t want to.

I like mountain runners. These people are friendly, relaxed and usually very fit. There is an easy camaraderie before, during and after the race. The race is against the mountain and we are not competitors, we are a team.

The good news for me is that the race organizers always have a few bandages at the finish line.

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MAGGIENCALI 4/9/2011 11:12AM

    I run by the Bay, I run with strollers, people in costumes, and people with just about nothing on at all. I do the race thing for the comeraderie and the t-shirt, not the time. I also try to get out of the BIG city rat race and enjoy the peace and quiet of a good trail run.

Everyone has a place where they run that is brings them peace and contentment. You just keep doing what makes you happiest. :)

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ELYMWX 4/9/2011 3:09AM

    I run next to the ocean.

I've seen costumes, but I've yet to see a stroller in a race.

I run on hills, but yours put mine to shame. I probably would run more, and higher, but I live where I live.

Oh, and I read your blogs too, Bruce!

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TEDDYBABE 4/8/2011 6:52AM

    Great blog! I think alot of us envy your running area. Have to tell you I met an Ultra runner last week. He is 67 and consistently runs 50 and 100 milers. Awesome man. I had limited time to visit with him, but felt like I had met a Rock Star! He looked like he was 52. Had been running for 28 years. Awesome visit!

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KKINNEA 4/6/2011 10:35AM

    Your ankles and lung capacity are most likely far better than mine! You can tell us about the trails and we'll let you know about the roads.

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ROOT4HOME 4/6/2011 10:18AM

    I don't think I'd have much fun being a trail runner but that's exactly why I enjoy reading your blogs! You give me a glimpse of what its like and I guess, one should never say "never", huh? Who knows, one day, a good trail run could be just what I need! Keep running the races you enjoy and sharing them w/us!! emoticon

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ANMRUNNER 4/6/2011 9:34AM

    I'm a road racer and I'm always in awe of your blogs.. I would LOVE to race on a trail or up a mountain or anything else besides the road, but I live in Texas where it's flat so road races are pretty much the only thing available within many miles of me. I did a walk/run on a trail once but the only real dangers were bikers..no roots to jump over, puddles to run around, or animals to watch out for. Someday I will run a cool race and be proud of it. But for now, I'll just sit back and watch you do it. (:

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BLACKROSE_222 4/6/2011 9:17AM

    Wow, great blog! Do what you love... and if the flying pig just isn't in the cards, than that's that! emoticon

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

I found a good place to train for the Mount Evans Ascent - Mount Evans! I decided to scope out where the race will start. The race starts at Echo lake on Squaw Pass. Squaw Pass is plowed and I could easily drive to Echo Lake. The Mount Evans Road branches off Squaw Pass. The Mount Evans road is closed. I parked at the base of Mount Evans. To my surprise, I could see that part of the Mount Evans road was partially clear.

Mount Evans Ascent Race Course.


I did not intend to run but I had my running stuff with me. I found a cranny and changed. It was a bit cold and windy but I had two shirts with me. I layered the two shirts and wore my running shorts. I was plenty toasty.

I started from Echo Lake at 10,600 feet. I ran the mile from Echo Lake to the start of the Mount Evans road. I climbed over a snow bank and hopped the gate blocking the road. Oh my, that is a steep road. I ran until a wall of snow blocked my path. I started at 10,500 feet and ran 3.25 miles to an elevation of 11,000 feet.

This was really hard! My pace was a pokey 11:36 min/mile. Although it was windy and cold, I could feel the blazing sun baking my skin. I kept thinking of a line from the poem High Flight "Up, up the long delirious, burning blue". The good news is that I had no trace of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema.

This short little run taught me a few things:

(1) I got to start hitting the weights really hard. I found running up this road feels like a continuous leg press.

(2) I have lost 12 pounds since I starting training. I need to accelerate this weight loss. I need to drop another 30 pounds.

(3) I have to find a good place to train that is 10,000+ feet that is not covered with snow.

(4) I need to run hills and more hills.

(5) I got to get faster and faster -then faster.

(6) This is easy one - I got a hydration belt. I have been getting very thirsty on long runs.

This is a Nathan Trail Mix Titanium Belt with 10 oz Flasks

I need to get lighter, faster, stronger and improve my endurance. Did I miss anything?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LKEITHO 4/3/2011 10:59PM

    Sounds like you have your work cut out for you! Go for it!

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MAGGIENCALI 4/3/2011 5:55PM

    You've got your mountains and I've got my hills. Right now I'm trying to tackle Russian Hill. I've got a lot of learning to do too. It's good to experience these "teachable moments" because it better prepares us for success. You rock!!!

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TREEBW 4/3/2011 11:14AM

    Great job! A lot of my friends that run swear by those gel drinks to keep them going during marathons and such. Lots of good carbs and the like to keep you hydrated.

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MOMJMGR 4/3/2011 11:12AM

    Nothing gives you a better idea of what you have signed up for, than going TO the course site! Good job on giving it a little trial run where you could to see how it would feel. I need to do all of the same things. Great job on loosing weight!! I had a belt similar to yours, only had 4 flasks. I tend to be a heavy drinker (not the alcohol kind..lol) and decided to go with the camel pack kind....even still I get thirsty at the end of a run longer than 10 miles.

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ELISA322 4/3/2011 11:04AM

    Oh man, if you ever find a flat course race to run, you'll be flying through it!

Congrats on the weight loss!!

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SUZWARNR 4/3/2011 7:44AM

    Good luck with your training! Sounds like you have a great plan in place.

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TEDDYBABE 4/3/2011 7:38AM

    Love the way your mind works. Great planning, great progress!

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    Learning is good! RUN ON! You are doing great!

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IRONGRANNIE 4/3/2011 5:10AM


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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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