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.
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?
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.
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.
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