Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Part 1: Leadville 10K Trail Run Background
Leadville, Colorado, is home to some of the most grueling biking and running races in the World.
Several months ago, I decided to run the Leadville 10K Trail Race on August 14th. As a bonus, my wife and I arrived in Leadville early enough on August 13th to see the finish of the Leadville Trail 100 mile Mountain Bike race. These racing bikes were awesome. For $10,000 a copy, Specialized will build you the lightest 29" full suspension mountain bike in the world. Then you too can ride in "The Race Along the Sky".
S-Works Epic 29er does not come with pedals.
The Leadville races are serious business. The 10K is by far the shortest of the Leadville Series and is the only race that does not have a time limit. Here are the particulars of the 2011 race:
Race: Leadville 10K Trail Run
Date: Sunday, August 14th 2011
Start Time: 12:01 PM
Starting Elevation: 10,152'
Total Vertical: 1,035 feet
Maximum Grade: 20%
Surface 20% Pavement, 80% Dirt
Weather at Start: 59.0 °F and Overcast
Field: 260 (All Finished)
The starting and finish line is at the corner of W6TH Street and Harrison Avenue in bustling downtown Leadville. This photo is about an hour before race time.
Part 2: Injury Report
I am not sure I can be as jocular in this blog as those in the recent past. But I will do my best.
As I write this blog, I have a severely torn left calf muscle. I have two ice bags strapped to my right leg. My right calf is so swollen the skin is drum tight. My calf is turning a hideous rainbow of green, black and blue. My right foot is swollen from blood draining down from the ruptured calf muscles. The doctor told me I have a Grade 3 strain. He says this will take at least 3 to 5 months to heal. He prescribed pain pills, which I am not going to take. Those things make me sick.
I also have a pulled groin, pulled left hamstring, pulled left glute, stiff neck and really bad attitude.
How did this happen?
Part 3: Leadville 10K Photo Essay "Are you stupid or something?"
When I finished the race, Annette was waiting for me near the finish line. I limped toward her. She looked at me with a puzzled expression, "What's the matter? I was starting to get worried when I didn't see you after an hour." I sat down on a planter, "I think I tore my right calf. It hurts like hell!" She looks really concerned and asks "When did you do that?" I asked her, "You got any idea of my time?" She looked puzzled, "The clock said about 1:12 when you crossed the finish line. Why?" I replied, "I tore my calf about an hour and twelve minutes ago." My wife is a bright woman. She asked me in her level voice that means danger, "You ran 6 miles with a torn calf?" Through the fog of intense pain I heard myself say, "Well, it is really more like 6.22 miles." She exploded, "Are you stupid or something?" I didn't answer. As hurt as I was, I kinda thought it was a rhetorical question.
Now we need to back up the clock to 11:50AM. Annette told me she saw another runner that looked like an ex-football player. In a sea of skinny runners, the big guys stick out like a sore thumbs. The crazy people that run high-altitude mountain races tend to look like cover models on Runner's World magazine.
Here I am with my new friend, Darrell from Ohio. We chat about the weather and running. He liked the lower temperature of Leadville compared to Ohio. He was wary of the altitude.
I bought this cup at the hotel. Mountain racers enjoy gasping for each breath in a futile attempt to get some oxygen.
At 11:55 AM runners started to trickling into the starting area. I found a comfortable place to stand that was just a few rows from the front. I like to get off to a fast start. Plus, the first part of this course is downhill. I am geared up for a blazing fast start.
I have determined that, left to my own devices, I instinctively find the right spot. Darrell is standing with me. He tells me we are too far forward and we should move back to give the faster runners a clear path. At the time this made sense to me. I have since realized that where you need to start has nothing to do with your average pace and everything to do with your starting pace. I am used to starting like I am shot out of a cannon. Some big races use the wave or stagger starts. Even though I don't like big races, I always want to be toward the front of my wave.
Here we are just moments away from the start. The motion picture camera truck is ready to roll. Annette took this shot. I have just seconds to have two good legs. I am standing next to Darrell feeling very claustrophobic. I know I am in the wrong place! The countdown starts to the gun. Too late now. I am stuck!
The field surges forward. I take off. I feel great. I have closed the distance between myself and the woman ahead of me. Everyone is moving well. Then, inexplicably, she stops. I have no place to go. Annette told me there was an odd surge then stop as the race began. To avoid a collision, I slam on the brakes. I feel a "pop" in my right calf, then an intense horrifying pain! It felt like my calf had been hit with a sledge hammer. I enter another world. The field moves forward again. I see the red timing mat that marks the starting line. The World is in slow motion. I am not even in my own body. I am floating. There is no reality except pain.
Words cannot describe the terrible white hot agony I felt as my calf muscle tore itself apart. Here is what sportsmedicine.about.com says about a calf sprain:
"A calf strain or pull often happens during acceleration or an abrupt change in direction while running. A torn calf muscle may spasm, and contract forcefully so that the toes will automatically point downward."
You may think you've just been hit in the back of the leg and hear an audible "pop." There will be sudden, sharp pain in the back of the lower leg, or pain, swelling and even bruising over the calf muscle. Most calf injuries will make it difficult to tolerate weight on the injured side and make it very difficult to stand on the toes."
"Bruises show up over the injured area as well as in the foot and ankle due to pooling of blood from internal bleeding."
I think this little blurb was written by somebody that never experienced a ruptured calf muscle. With each step, the calf muscle feels like it is being sliced open with a red-hot butcher knife, then hit with a hammer!
I ran about a 1/4 mile at a 7:19 min/mile pace and stop by the side of the road. I had tears running running down my face. I am thinking I have a cramp. I massaged the muscle and do some stretching. The massage and stretching does no good. I limp down the course.
Here is a readout from my Garmin305 for the Leadville 10K. The dark blue line is shows my pace. For those of you familiar with the Garmin Training Center, you can see that my pace is erratic. The spikes on the blue line also show where I stopped. I stopped nine times. I mostly just leaned against trees standing on my left leg. I just had to get the pressure off my right calf when the pain got too intense.
I got to the 5K turn-around at 31:55. I had been running for 32 minutes. Ordinarily, I would have been happy to get to the half-way mark. On this day it meant that I had an impossible 5K more to go. The field had stretched-out a lot. I found myself running with a little group. At the front of a the group was a very fit husband and wife running together. At the end of a the group was a young woman that was wearing a "Boulder Running Team" shirt. I generally don't pace myself with fellow runners. When "Boulder Running Team" would pass me, I would speed up. When I started to pass the honeymooners, I would slow down.
The race was endless. My gait was gone. I could not push off with my right leg. But muscle memory is a powerful thing. Sometimes my natural gait would take over and I push off with my right toe. My destroyed calf would explode in pain. One of my biggest running asset is extremely powerful calf muscles. When I am "in the groove" I love the little burst of acceleration I get when I push with my toe with each stride.
At about the 4 mile mark my right leg buckled and I went down hard! I got up and hopped on my left leg and sat down on an embankment, I knocked the dirt off my bloody knee and hand. I folded arms on my knees and laid my head on my arms. I rested just a moment. I got up and caught Ms. "Boulder Running Team" again. I had a fuel belt with one bottle of water and another bottle of recovery drink. This fuel belt was a life saver. I had some energy beans and some GU Chomps in my belt. Generally, I don't need this stuff during a race. On this day, I needed all the help I could get.
My jogging stride is about 3 feet long. A 10K race requires 11,000 steps. Every step was an eternity of pain. I finally, topped the last hill and could see the finish line. It was so far away! I had only 1/2 mile to go. 880 steps to the finish line. Due to my torn calf, I was running "improperly". I had shin splints, pulled left hamstring, pulled left and right quads, pulled left glute. My right hand was bruised, bleeding and swollen. My left knee was bruised and bleeding. My shoulders and lower back were hurting. I had nothing left in the tank. The finish line kept getting further away.
Annette took this shot. These are my legs. Do you see I just pushed-off with my right toe using my demolished right calf? This really, really, really hurt! I am moving at a 7:19min/mile pace and have 100 feet to go.
How did I do?
I finished in 1 Hour, 12 Minutes and 12.6 seconds.
Chip Time: 1:12:12.6
Overall Finish: 191 out of 260 runners
50-59 Male Age Group Finish: 14 out of 19 runners
This is may be last race report this season. I have some rehab to do.
Here are some closing photos that I took during a picnic on August 13th at Turquoise lake near Leadville.
This is Annette eating a sandwich.
My favorite bird is a Gray Jay. This bird only lives at 9,000 feet+. The Gray Jay is also known as the "Camp Robber".
I don't always fall down. Here is a shot of me successfully navigating a log.
Part 4: Straw Poll - Should I have stopped?
After about a mile, I knew I was seriously hurt. I also reasoned that the damage had already done so I might as well keep going. This was a bad idea. A Grade 3 calf sprain may require surgery since the ruptured muscle fibers may have torn away from the rest of calf muscles.
I want to find out if I am sane. I am also interested to find out about you.
(1) Given the circumstances, would you have stopped?
(2) How do you know you are hurt and not just feeling some pain?
(3) What is the worst injury you have had and kept going?
(4) Have you ever called it quits because you got hurt?
In retrospect, I should have stopped when I realized I had a serious injury. Here is a description of a Grade 3 Calf strain I found on a running rehab site that scares me a bit:
- A grade 3 calf strain is a catastrophic injury. (Not nearly as catastrophic as my wife's reaction - she is still is not speaking to me)
- There is an immediate burning or stabbing pain and the athlete is unable to walk without pain. (It also make it challenging to run 10K without crying)
- The muscle is completely torn and there may be a large lump of muscle tissue above a depression where the tear is. ( I got this)
- After a few days with grade 2 and 3 injuries a large bruise will appear below the injury site caused by the bleeding within the tissues. (This bruising appeared in less than a day - my calf is amazingly tender to the touch and feels like it is about to burst open )
My doctor, wife and my common sense (always in short supply) told me I should have stopped immediately.
Thanks for reading my blog.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Part 1: Stumpy is Good
Stumpy and I went for a nice easy ride Wednesday on a nice easy trail. We did a Forest Service fire road that had just a few ruts - no biggy.
Stumpy and I did 8.22 miles in 45:30 minutes. Average speed was 11.1 mph. The fastest Stumpy and me hit was 32 mph. I had to hold Stumpy back or we would have gone much faster (sure Bruce, blame it on the bike). I managed to stay on the bike and did not involuntary hit the ground.
Part 2: Leadville 10K on Sunday, August 14th
Last March I registered for the Leadville 10K race.
When I registered for this race I figured I would train like crazy and be ready to go. As luck would have it, or maybe just my luck, about a month ago I was scheduled to go to Seattle on business the day of the race. I got pretty lackadaisical about training. Then the Seattle trip was canceled earlier this week. I made a hasty hotel reservation and got the last room in Leadville. I got in at the historic Delaware Hotel.
I tried to talk my wife into running the race. She vociferously declined saying, "I am not going to pay to run!" She actually does run races. She was just being difficult. Then I tried to talk her into going and just hanging out. She asks, "Does the hotel have a pool?" I reply, "The hotel is 125 years old. I doubt it." She then asks, "Does it have a hot tub?" I reply yet again, "The hotel is 125 years old. I doubt it." Then she asks the big question, "Is it haunted?" BINGO! I smile, "The hotel is 125 years old. Absolutely, positively, most certainly - YES!" I know I have her at that point. Then she asks, "Can I get a push-button cappuccino along the way?" Magnanimous in victory, I reply, "I will even push the button for you." She likes the sweet coffee drinks you get at convenience stores. You know, that stuff that comes from a noisy whirring machine that dumps 16 ounces of coffee and 4 pounds of sugar into a 12 ounce paper cup at a temperature of 4,000 degrees! Push-button cappuccino is her only weakness, Push-button cappuccino is the only weakness I don't have.
My wife and daughter take trips to stay in haunted hotels. They really like the Fairplay Hotel.
I personally have a binding blanket agreement with all ghosts - I refuse to believe in them and they refuse to believe in me! Check out the haunted Leadville site.
Go down the page a little and you will see all about the haunted Delaware Hotel. My wife is going to dig this! I am pretty sure the main ghost at the Delaware Hotel, Mary Coffey, is a signatory on my binding mutual non-belief agreement.
Part 3: Race Course
This will be the first time I will run a Leadville race. Because I neglected to train for this race, I was worried about the course profile. The starting line is at 10,200 feet. I was concerned that the highest elevation of course would be 12,000+. I have not trained for 12,000 feet. I was relived to find that the highest point in the race is the starting line. Then it dawned on me that this is an out-and-back race. The first 5K is mostly downhill. The last 5K is mostly uphill! Darn! This could be a hard 10k.
Part 4: Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race
Today, August 13th, is the 100 mile "race of all races". As I write this blog, the MTB 100 started 6 minutes ago.
I was thinking that me and Stumpy could do some mountain bike racing. I am not talking about a 100 mile event that draws the best bike racers in the world.
Check out the video on this page:
Pretty jazzy! However, a race where Lance Armstrong has to walk his bike up hills may be a little over my head! I am pretty sure I can find a few local amatuer bike races.
There is a race in where I live called the Bailey Hundo. The race is over the trails where I ride. Unfortunately, the Bailey Hundo is also a big international 100 mile invitational race.
What is this world coming to? Bailey? A bike racing mecca?
This drawing is pretty cool. Here in Bailey we use mostly crayons.
This is the Buffalo Creek trail profile. It is a tad hilly.
At least I don't have to push Stumpy up the hills. Here is an elite racer pushing his bike, Sometimes I think it would be wiser to push than to crash. I generally reflect that pushing would have been a good idea right after I am picking myself up off the dirt.
Thanks for reading my blog.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
I read a blog posted by PRINCESSRUNNER7 called "Triple Brick = 1,500 calories burned!"
She explained that a Brick was a combination of biking and running. On Sunday, August 7th, I decided to try a brick. I wanted to bike 12 miles and run 4 miles.
The results? My bike, Stumpy, is in the bike hospital. And I got to use my brand-new first aid kit. Poor Stumpy! Here is my photo essay:
I decided to go to ride and run the Colorado Trail near Buffalo Creek. The Colorado Trail runs 500 miles from Durango to Denver with numerous offshoots along the way.
I started by the Little Scraggy. The pinkish areas represent recent forest fires. The trails are marked in yellow.
Just so you can feel sorry for me, here is the temperature when I left for my brick.
The temperature got up to 85 degrees F at about 4:30 PM. I know that some places in the country my be a tad hotter.
I grabbed Stumpy and loaded him on the bike rack. My wife wanted me to weed wack some of the native grass that has grown quite tall. Fat chance on a nice day!
Stumpy is healthy and happy. He is ready to hit the trails. With 30 speeds, Stumpy can climb a tree in low gear or fly down the road in high gear passing anything in his way. Stumpy is awesome!
The Colorado Trail is well marked. The segments are numbered. Theoretically, you can tell where you are by know the trail segment.
I am getting jazzed. The weather is perfect!
This segment of the Colorado Trail is described as "fast single track with a few technical segments". Fun!
Bump over a few roots down a hill and across a little bridge. There is a gulch under the bride that is about a yard wide and a foot deep.
There are a few roots and rocks along the way. The technique for handling these roots requires perfect timing. You compress the front forks to store energy. Then at the right moment you pull up on the handle bars and jump the roots. When the forks rebound, Stumpy sails over the roots in smooth air.
On the way back down the trail I jump over some big roots. I am not watching down the trail because I am timing my jump. As me and Stumpy clear the roots, I see a guy stopped in the middle of the trail not more than six feet away. Me and Stumpy are airborne. I jerk ol' Stumpy sideways. We miss the guy but hit the embankment on the side of the trail and go down. We don't hit hard so there is no damage to me or Stumpy. I look over at the guy as his wife pulls up. He says, "Oh, sorry!" He is an old guy like me. I notice he is riding a comfort bike with skinny tires. Not an optimal bike for this trail. I think he was going to wisely walk his bike over the roots when Stumpy and I came roaring up the trail. I forgave him. Besides he and his wife were out there doing it.
I took a detour off the Colorado Trail and rode into the Buffalo Creek burn area.
The fire in Buffalo Creek was 16 years ago. Fires are strange. A burn will leave some trees untouched and scorch others.
The undergrowth is pretty. The forest that will spring up from this burn area will be beautiful and healthy.
I came back to the Buffalo Burn Trail for the running part of the brick. This trail was pretty flat with only 680 foot elevation gain in 4 miles. My bike ride gained only 1075 foot in 8 miles. These trails are pretty flat when compared to other trails in this area.
On the way back with Stumpy we had a big crash. This is hard to explain but there are certain obstacles that you can handle going one way that are deadly going the other way. The army uses a thing called a tank trap that is one-way. At any rate, I hit a ditch and went "high-side". High-side meant I went over the handle bars.
This is not me. But it should give you the idea. When I saw the ditch I was going too fast. I couldn't stop and I knew this was going to hurt!
Here is part of the damage. I am now black and blue from hitting the ground. Poor Stumpy has a bent front wheel.
I bought this first aid kit a week ago. Little did I know I would be needing so soon!
I cleaned the open wounds on my elbows and left leg. I pretty much used up a kit that is supposed to last 2 hikers for 3 days. I had to dig a lot of dirt and gravel out of me. I also sprained my right wrist and left thumb. I have bruises on my right thigh, left forearm, right ankle and left shoulder.
After I patched myself, I went for a 4 mile run. By the time I was done the sun was going down.
I burned up a 2,640 calories during this torturous brick. My average speed on Stumpy was a modest 7.2 mph. I had to slow way down with a badly bent front wheel. My top speed on my bike was 19.2 mph. My running pace was an abysmal 11:42 min/mile. I stopped to get a Qdoba Steak Burrito on the way home.
Post brick meal included a Moose Drool beer. Of course, I log onto SparkPeople and there is an article on the evils of drinking beer.
So I took this article to heart and only had two beers to dull the pain.
This is a shot of my home office. I have lots of computers. This is the place where I sit and think up new and creative ways to hurt myself in the name of fitness and well being.
I took stumpy into the bike hospital. The bike doctor declared Stumpy's front wheel to be hopelessly bent. Stumpy is getting a new front wheel, Stumpy is an expensive bike with expensive components. I think I am actually buying Stumpy again one part at a time. The front wheel for Stumpy lists for $249 but I got it for $180. The wheel has the following components:
Shimano XT M785 Front Disc Hub from Japan: $60
36 DT Swiss Champion 14 Gauge Black Spokes from Switzerland: $63
Mavic EN 321 Rim 6061 Aluminum Alloy from France: $60
$45 Labor – Mount, Tune
Total : Wheel $183 + Labor $45 = $228
I think I need to be more careful. My wallet is now injured too! I get Stumpy back tonight. But I think Stumpy and I need a rest.
Saturday, August 06, 2011
Inspired by Bill's (ELYMWX) July stats blog: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
and Jerome's (JMERLAU) July stats blog,
I decided to post my July 2011 states from my Garmin Training Center.
Count: 16 Activities
Distance: 91.4 miles
Time: 15:29:58 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 17,950 ft
Average Elevation: 8,935 feet
Avg Speed: 5.7 mph (10:31min/mile pace)
Fastest Speed 10.5 mph (5:42 min/mil pace)
Avg HR: 116 bpm
Peak HR: 166 bpm
Calories: 17,318 Calories (Adjusted for Elevation and Vertical)
Avg Distance: 5.71mi
These stats surprised me. I seem to run uphill a lot. I had no idea I climbed nearly 18,000 feet in a month. My calorie burn rate is 189 calories/mile compared to a low-elevation calorie burn rate of 139 calories/mile. That means I can drink a Big Sky Moose Drool Brown Ale (177 calories) instead of a Bud Light (110 calories) as my medicinal post run beer. Running hills in thin air has its perks!
I read that the low heart rate is a high-altitude phenomenon, I haven't figure that one out yet. If my heart rate gets any lower I will probably be declared legally dead.
I am off to a slow start in August. So far I have zero miles. I sometimes take a long time between runs because my body is too battered. I ride my bike. Or do cardio on my elliptical. I have started lifting weights again.
Yum, what great beer!
I was really trying to be serious and report my July running faux pases, er, I mean accomplishments. My legs are getting vascular. I think it looks cool. My wife tells me it looks gross - like there is something I can do about it!
Moose Drool time. I am still coherent, for now! Tah - Tah.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
On Saturday, July 30th, I really wanted a nice easy run. I wanted to run while it was warm. I wanted to run at a "low" elevation of 6,000 to 7,000 feet. What I found was a difficult and dangerous trail along Dinosaur Ridge called Zorro. Zorro started off easy and became a rocky nightmare. I was too stubborn to turn around. See my previous blog "Clumsy and Fearless - First Aid Kit Required" for a description of the "nice easy trail" called Zorro.
Why was I looking for an easy run?
Because on Wednesday, July 27th, I ran 10k on a very steep trail; in the cold; in the dark; while it was raining; at nearly 10,000 feet of elevation. I ran the the Mule Trail near Shawnee, Colorado. Here is the story.
This is not really a trail sign but a warning to watch out for road apples.
At least the sign says "welcome" while advising that you could run into large foul-tempered beasts. There were no warnings about snakes or unexploded artillery shells, which is a plus.
I started up the trail at 8:00 PM. I took a photo of my car before I started up the hill since I knew it was going to be dark before I got back.
Hopefully, if my wife reports me missing, they would find my Corolla and send a mule after me. She only reported me missing once, but that is a different story.
The trail starts at 8,650 feet of elevation and climbs 1,155 feet in 1.1 miles! FYI - that is steep. The average grade was 20% to 40%.
This steeper than it looks in the photo. The trail starts off in a gentle climb and gets really steep.
The temperature was 52 degrees F. You can see the mule prints on the trail.
The trail is getting steep. Again, the trail is steeper than it looks in the photo. The trail tops-out at 9,805 feet. I still have a 1/2 mile to go to the top.
There are some mule signs on trail. This hill is not easy. I have a technique where I fall forward going up a steep hill. As I am falling forward I catch myself with my next step. This technique is called "falling uphill". This technique allows for a fast ascent but requires extreme coordination and lightning fast reflexes. There is evidence that I am deficient in both these characteristics, so "falling uphill" could easily become "rolling downhill". No guts - No glory. I am getting good at running up hills. I am also passable at applying bandages.
The hill is relentless. My mantra is simple, "step, step, step..."
I took a photo from the trail looking down at Highway 285 where my car is parked. This is shows what an 1,150' climb looks like.
I am on top of a mountain and it is getting dark. I need to run 2 more miles before I can start down.
I hopped this gate and kept running. The little spots on the photo are rain drops. I am wearing shorts, shirt and a waterproof shell. Stream is coming off of me!
I get to the end of the trail and turn around.
This is what it looked like as I started back. The trail is about to pitch down. The trail is muddy and rocky. It is also getting dark.
I took a detour down another trail so I could make sure I ran 10K. What the heck - in the middle of the wilderness was a porta-potty! I have about 2 miles to go and it is dark.
How did I do?
I did great! I covered 10K over bad terrain and steep hills in 1 hour, 6 minutes and 51 seconds! My pace was 10:44 min/mile at an average elevation of 9,558 feet. This was everything I had and then some. This exhausting run is why I was looking for a nice easy run the following Saturday. That is when I found the Zorro trail that ate my lunch!
I think I will be ready for another run tomorrow. Yesterday I lifted weights and did cardio on my elliptical. I am feeling better but the Shawnee Mule Trail and the Zorro Trail beat me up pretty badly.
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