wildflowers. (mm 77.25)

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week of may 19th thru may 25th, 2014 (mm 77)

Monday

14 miles, 3:15, +3500′ vert. Timber-Well Gulch-Arthur’s loop. absolutely fabulous weather–downright hot out there. the Park has come alive with wildflowers, butterflies and bees buzzin’ around. Creek and waterfalls were all hummin’ as well. I stopped about a dozen times to try to capture it with the camera with limited success. stayed within a decent HR zone for the majority of the outing, though I ramped it up a few times on the ascent to Arthur’s and the climb up Timber. About 1/4 of the way down Arthur’s I rolled my left ankle and bit the dust (somewhat literally). Of course I was about as far from the car as possible, so I kept truckin’. Wasn’t too bad until I took my shoe off when I got home. Hopefully the swelling will go down by tomorrow. Overall it was fun to have the sun beatin’ down on me. Lots of good climbing as well.

Tuesday

8.5 miles, 1:45, +2000′ vert. Towers Rd. another beautiful evening of runnin’. Duder, Stubbs and I pounded’r out, with a few back-and-forths for good measure. Ran a lot of the uphills and it felt good to push it. More of these ‘uphill intervals’ are needed!

Wednesday

drivin’ to Phoenix for some outdoor sauna therapy

Thursday

10 miles, 1:59, +1700′ vert. Lots of ups and downs, sand, sun, and damn! the air is so much drier here in AZ. Grateful I brought my hydration pack and some calories–went through both (I used less water and no calories on my 14 miler with LOTS of climbing a few days ago in Colorado). There are so many trails and hills and options at South Mtn Park that every time I get to a high point, I see at least three more offshoot trails that I want to explore. I really tried to push the pace (like I’ve been doing since Quad Rock) in hopes of getting better leg turnover and power. Today felt great. Body has been responding excellently to the uptick of effort this week. Spent about 85% of the outing running, which is significant considering there was still a fair amount of climbing. Feelin’ good.

Friday

5 miles, :47, +>50′ vert. 3 sets of intervals (5 mins zone 3, 3 mins zone 4, 1 min zone 5) with a warm-up and cool-down bookending the outing. temps were in the mid 90s so after I finished I jumped in the pool. Luckily I remembered to take my HRM off at the last minute. good to force some fast leg turnover. this’ll be a good once-per-week workout, along with a tempo run or two during the week as well.

Saturday

2.5 miles, 1:00, +550′ vert. fun hike with Kels this morning before it got too hot. always the best kind of outing. 🙂

Sunday

pool time

Weekly Totals

40 miles, ~8:45, +7800′ vert (+195’/mile). Body felt great this week with the added mileage and speed/tempo. Confident that it’s time to really hit it hard.

The Dude starts his comeback. #towersroad It wasn't enough to scale it with a hydro pack on.

The Dude starts his comeback. #towersroad
Apparently it wasn’t enough to scale the hill with a full hydro pack on.

 

week of may 12th thru may 18th, 2014 (mm 76.5)

90 days til the start line in Leadville.

Monday

rest day 

Tuesday

2 miles, :18. ‘barefoot’ Nimbus 3000 run just to see how the body felt. other than a little twinge in the knee (which wasn’t present much last Saturday!), the body is recovering well. still a bit tired but not bad. gonna try to get back at it tomorrow.

Wednesday

6 miles, 1:03, +800′ vert. Perch #43. legs and body felt pretty darn good. left the HRM at home and ran how i felt, which was at a pretty good tempo. I’m guessing it was just over an hour. unlike last year at this time, where I stopped running (pretty much immediately after the QR50) for 3 months, it was great to get right back out there again and keep moving. Excited/anxious/feeling the race (the BIG one) getting closer. time is of the essence — almost every run will have a purpose and focus from here on out.

Thursday

7 miles, 1:50, +1600′ vert. Beautifully calm, cool evening with the Dude up at Lory (Timber Trail). The trail was in solid form after Sunday’s blizzard, and hundreds-ney, thousands!-of columbines bloomed. Didn’t see a single one last Saturday. Legs felt recovered and had some pop, but we kept things under control and hiked most of the way. Still trying to allow my body the rest it needs, but I’m feelin’ good. great evening.

Friday

6.5 miles, 1:18, +950′ vert. Perch #44. 3 x 2 minute hill repeats. just about puked. was shooting for 4-6 repeats but the body said no. I decided to listen, considering it’s only been 5 days since the race and I’m not fully recovered yet. next week I will not be so kind! after heading back down I had a random, unexpected visit from The Beast (whaa?!) but pushed through it. Bastard won’t back down.

Saturday and Sunday

Spent the weekend drinkin’ and grubbin’ around a beautiful, remote ranch on the CO-WY border. Hot damn I love the West!

Weekly Totals

21.5 foot miles, +3400′ vert (158’/mile…not bad for a rest week), 4:30.  I’m still very surprised at how quickly my body bounced back from Saturday’s race effort. By Monday I was ready to get back out there but, like the rest of the week, pulled back the reigns (reins? rains? raynes? hmm) to make sure I gave myself enough rest. Looking forward to kicking it back up the next couple weeks. As I mentioned on Wednesday, I’m feeling a lot better than I did at this point last year, when I hung the running shoes up until July/August after Quad Rock (and consequently felt like crap for about two weeks). I’m taking it as a good sign that the body and (more importantly) the mind bounced back after about 48 hours, ready to get back to business.  

week of may 5th thru may 11th, 2014 (mm 76)

Monday

6 miles, 1:05, +800′ vert. Perch #42. last actual run before the race. took it nice and slow. thought smooth thoughts. energy has returned so I’m hoping i’ll have plenty in the bank by Saturday. knee was ok til the last mile–it hates pavement. we’ll see.

Tuesday

slept and cleaned the house. 

Wednesday

2 miles, :20.  just gettin’ the legs to turnover without using much energy. had a massage yesterday on campus with kelly–he rocked me like a wagon wheel and today my knee and legs feel great. i’m goin’ back to that guy. 

Thursday

2 miles, :22. another leg stretch around the neighborhood. legs feeling loose and rested.

Friday

hung out with dad and the Dude and prepared for tomorrow’s throw down.

Saturday

50.1 miles, 13:43, 12,000′ vertical gain.  (note: vertical gain from Everest Base Camp to the Summit? 11,500 feet. Ha!). In short, the first half went great. The second half was a nightmare. It was the first time I actually wanted to quit a race. But I’m pretty happy I kept going and finished. Although I was hoping for a sub-13 hour finish (ideally dropping 30-45 minutes off my time from last year), I’m actually surprised that, after such a lousy 15-20 miles I still was within 20 minutes of last year’s time. My knee held up well, thank goodness, and my stomach/energy was solid. I learned a lot of lessons of course, not least of which is that you just never know what’s going to happen. second, I have got to incorporate more strength training, speed, and hill work (probably in the form of repeats, along with long ascents like Towers once a week). I definitely need to rest in the next couple days, but am already anxious to get back to training. Time is running short (2 and 1/2 months of solid training to go) for Leadville. I’m feeling an urgency that was provoked by a sub-par performance and the knowledge that Leadville will make Quad Rock look like a Sunday stroll in the park.

Sunday

yeah right. 

Weekly Totals

60 foot miles, 15:30, ~13,000′ vertical gain (217’/mile…nice).  I think i’ve written about as much as I can on what happened Saturday (see Quad Rock Report below). It was a great learning experience, to say the least.  By Sunday night and into Monday my body recovered quicker than I was expecting.  Amazing how bodies can bounce back from being annihilated (sometimes…).  My hope is that by next weekend I’ll be back to training, with a marathon-length outing within ten days.  At the very least it better be a quicker return-to-training than after last year’s QR50 (I didn’t run again for three months…)!  Thanks for all your support!

Quad Rock 50 Race Report (mm 75)

“I’m done. I gotta stop. I can’t keep going.”

“Why? Does your knee hurt?”

“Not really, no.”

“You sound like you’re pretty with it…”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Well then you have to finish. You’re finishing.”

Kelsea met me just before I reached the 40-mile aid station. I had just finished suffering through the worst stretch of running in my life. I just walked 3 miles…down hill. My body hurt so bad that I couldn’t even jog the easiest part of the course. I could barely walk it! I couldn’t go any further.

Within ten seconds of talking to Kelsea however, my mindset switched from “I’m totally shot. Done. Spent.” to “Okay—this is gonna be ugly, but maybe I can still finish.” Without Kelsea (or more specifically, her glare and harsh resolve) I would have quit.

I had been dueling The Beast since mile 27. Before that, the race went pretty smoothly. I was 5 minutes ahead of schedule at mile 10 without breaking much of a sweat. I hit the mile 17 aid station – still in good shape! A few minutes ahead of schedule and the only issue I was having was a small blister forming on my big toe. Meh—I’ll deal with it at the 25 mile turnaround. I climbed 6,000 vertical feet, descended 6,000 feet, and glided into mile 25 without complaint (other than needing to deal with the blister and maybe change shoes). Kels, Bro and Dad were stellar all day—got me supplies, popped a blister, change of shirt, butt slap and I’m on my way. They’re pros!

Around mile 27 though, The Beast came out to play—I was working my way up an1,800-foot climb when BAM! I hit a huge wall (not a literal wall of course…this isn’t one of those Tough Mud type races. We’re speakin’ metaphorically here). As if someone snuck 40 pounds of sand into my pack. Everything started to hurt. My biggest strength—powering up steep climbs—became almost unbearable. And so quickly! My legs were concrete! What the hell was going on?! I was cruising until about ten minutes ago!

I dredged to the top and sat down. Well that came out of no where. But I figured it would pass (The Beast has never lasted more than a few miles…) now that I had a nice smooth downhill to the next aid station. I was right—for about 10 minutes. The fifth of six climbs began at mile 30, and The Beast roared back to life. The previous climb and battle with The Beast was peanuts compared to this round. It started to rain. Then hail. I was alone.

Every part of my body was screaming for me to stop. So I did. I sat down on a rain-soaked fallen pine tree and began thinking of dropping-out. But I knew I had to at least reach mile 40’s aid station to get a ride outta there. So I started to walk. Downhill. A soft drizzle fell as I descended from Horsetooth Rock toward the aid station below. I was resigned to dropping out but was grateful for a beautiful day. But I definitely had to stop.

And I would have, had Kelsea been any less demanding that I continue.

When I reached her at mile 40, I was destroyed. Bottom of the barrel, baby! The Beast had taken me down. But Kelsea refused to let me stop. Can she even do that?? It was just as difficult for her to push me on as it was for me to keep moving. Actually, it was much harder for her. So…

I downed a cup of warm soup from the aid station volunteers (man oh man, those people were the best) and changed into dry clothes. Sure enough, I began to rise from the dead. I walked out of the aid station and back into the woods.

Halfway up the final 1,800-foot ascent I started to jog. Then run. I kept repeating: “Get to that next tree…get to the next bend in the trail…keep. f**king. moving.” I wasn’t planning on making the 14-hour cut at the finish line and didn’t care. But with 4 miles to go, I was feeling well enough to start calculating…4 miles, 50 minutes. It’s possible. I started moving faster.

The sun began setting behind Arthur’s Rock. With 2 miles to go I could see car lights near the finish line. Then I saw my crew. Kelsea. Andrew. Dad. They’ve been up since 3:30 this morning helping me. I was overwhelmed with emotion but tried to keep it together for the last 100 yards. 50 yards. 10. Finish line. Kelsea. Done.    …with 17 minutes to spare.

I thought this 50 miler would be easier. Ha! It didn’t matter that I was better trained, better prepared; that I had run this course dozens of times. Bad patches and bad days come outta no-where. You never know when they’ll hit. The Beast might go easy on ya one race—or for most of a race—then hop on your back for 20 or 30 miles without any tangible explanation. Either way, ya gotta keep movin’.

I had to finish Quad Rock. The time didn’t matter. What mattered was that I found the bottom of the barrel—and still found the finish line. If I stopped at 40 miles, how was I going to mentally take on the Leadville 100? No way! Never. Stop. Moving.

“Appreciation” doesn’t really cut it when I try to describe how I feel about my crew on Saturday: my incredible (and fierce!) wife Kelsea, my steady and always best man Andrew, my encouraging and cow-bell ringin’ dad John, and the always “ready-to-jump-in-for-a-quick-“twunt”” Mr. Jay Bowers. You, my friends, saved the day. And with it my hope that 100 miles is still possible. Thank you. And thanks to Ella and Haddy for bein’ at the finish–I really appreciate your support!

All right, then. Three more months til Leadville, where The Beast will be waiting.

Test #1: the Quad Rock 50 (mm 73)

“Make friends with pain, and you will never be alone.”                                                                    -Ken Chlouber, founder of the Leadville 100

It’s race week. As I mentioned in my last post, April was pretty inconsistent. I’m feeling a bit unsure and a little uneasy about how things will go down on Saturday at Quad Rock, but more than anything I’m hoping my knee stays steady. Despite the last month, I’m still excited to go after another 50 miler, with Kels, Dad and Duder helpin’ throughout the day just like last year. It’s always exciting to know they are waiting at the next aid station.  Dad with his cowbell (you can’t have enough…), Kels and Dude all business, Maya licking my legs.

But doubt is creeping in. I actually just looked back at last year’s pre-race thoughts/mileage and I was actually feeling the exact same way.  My weekly mileage was just about identical, though this year I’ve got 3-4 more months under my belt. I’ve really enjoyed running this spring and am hoping to just relax and enjoy the day. If things don’t go well, it’s alright.  I still got three more months of fun before tapering a bit.

These are always the weeks where I end up asking myself the big Why. Why am I doing this? It’s good to question these things. Especially when they are big things, that take up a lot of my time and energy.  Is running really what I want to continue spending my “life energy” on? What is it you want to do with your one, wild and precious life? Then I remember what I wrote back in August:

mountains. sunshine. pine trees. single track. wind. movement. sweat. effort. dust. silence. grit. laughter. water. breath. rest.

In these 17 words I’m reminded that yes, I want to continue moving over wild ground, through forest and streams and find my “stillness point”, where movement is effortless and there is only the sound of birds calling and wind blowing. It’s not necessarily about racing or running so much as it is about spending hours and days moving through mountains, jumping over rocks and dodging trees.

I’m never convinced that I’ll finish a race I’m about to start, but I always seem to find the finish line, smiling, grateful to be done but a little sad that I can’t continue on. So I keep coming back for more.

photo by kelsea macilroy

photo by kelsea macilroy

week of april 28th thru may 4th, 2014 (mm 72)

Two runs during this first rest week, totaling 12 foot miles and about 1600′ vert.

6 miles, 1:02, +800′ vert.  Perch #40. windier than a jack rabbit the last few days. really didn’t want to go out but kelsea gave me the boot–she always knows when to give me a kick in the pants. Usually not more than a couple times a year…but effective! After about three steps out the door I was instantly in a good mood and felt a smooth, easy flow despite the strong wind gusts. The run felt down right amazing. tryin’ to figure out how to bottled this outing and release it the morning of the QR50.

6 miles, 1:11, +800′ vert. perch #41 on the year. Kept this one slow, walked a lot and stopped to stretch a few times. Just trying to keep the legs moving without using too much energy in the next 9 days. still trying to figure out how best to deal with the Hoka blisters, besides not wearing them at all on race day. they sure are nice on the knees though!

April Summary:

This last month has been all over the place.  Two solid training weeks and two very inconsistent weeks.  Three long, pretty decent outings, but some tired/sickness as well.  It was the best of times, it was the…

Hoping the base I’ve established in the last 6 months, mixed with lots of rest the last week or two will get me to the finish line at the QR50. Still three big months of training ahead.