Run. (mm 99)

“The hay is in the barn,” said the legendary Adams State coach Joe Vigil (thanks Jeff). Time to rest and reward the body for it’s hard work. 11 months of building and focus. After so much physical and mental training, I am in much need of rest. I will probably not post any more training logs, as they will be puny and insignificant—short jogs around the neighborhood whose purpose is simply to remind the legs to turnover.

Instead, it seems appropriate to take this time to reflect on the last year. The 5am runs with Stubbs and Jay-Pop, the hundreds of thousands of vertical feet climbed over more or less 2,000 foot miles, the pushups and sit-ups and battles with The Beast. The small victories as well as the deflating moments. All the lessons learned.
It’s been pretty damn fun! Self-propulsion over beautiful landscapes with beautiful people. Not a bad way to be.

Will the training be enough? I’m not sure. As I mentioned in my last post, the odds are not necessarily in my favor (Hunger Games reference for Kelsea), but they weren’t for Katniss either. I mean, Cato was scary! Regardless, I know that I’ve put myself into a position where I have a shot—a chance to crest the final hill on the western edge of Leadville and in the distance, see the finish line. Will the hay be enough to get the horses through the winter? I sure hope so. I gave about as much as I could, and have little regret about how things went down. As long as I can be patient and rest the next few weeks, I’ll be ready.

Besides reflection on training, I once again am reminded of why I started this business in the first place—why would I choose to run 100 mountain miles?

It comes back to a simple question. For starters, let’s be clear: I’m not a big fan of life-mantras, quotes or pithy sayings that attempt to capture ones whole experience. Each of our lives is just too complex and different to be captured in a single quote.

However, even my aversion to sayings has exceptions. In my case, I’m always drawn-back to a quote that is less advice and answers and more a simple inquiry. It continues to resurface again and again.

My ol’ pal Cookie introduced me to the great poet, Mary Oliver. Ms. Oliver is an incredible purveyor of beautiful words and lines (see American Primitive, New and Selected Poems, House of Light, and others). One such line, in her poem The Summer Day, resonated deeply when I first read it over ten years ago. The timing was impeccable. I was a bit lost, wandering in search of purpose, place, meaning. The line goes like this:

“…Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

She’s not telling the reader how to live, how to find meaning or purpose. She is simply presenting the facts: we have one life; it is beautiful and precious; it is short. Presented these facts, what will you do about it? Knowing that you live but once and our time is short, how will you spend your days? No answers, just a question. Over the years I let this question bubble to the surface again and again, preferring to let it sit in my not-so-sub-conscious until an answer was either revealed, or as is usually the case, I let the question percolate until without notice, I am actually living into the answer.

In my search for meaning those ten years ago the Question presented itself when Cookie asked me to join him in a service trip to Honduras. I signed-up after the deadline, begged for donations, and five weeks later found myself on a rickety bus puttering into the Honduran outback.

Upon returning to school, I was sitting in an upper-level math class my senior year of college, and the Question whispered itself into my mind again. I packed up my books and sprinted for the door, changing all my courses to Theology and Justice and Peace Studies.

After graduation I began looking for work when the Question surfaced again. Three months later I was again on a bus, heading to Alamosa, Colorado and a two year stint with AmeriCorps. Within 15 minutes of being in Alamosa, I met Kelsea MacIlroy. What sparked our relationship, and continues to bring us closer, are conversations that continue to ask the Question. When thinking about getting married, the Question was there. When moving or seeking out new opportunities, the Question is there. Sometimes the answers are slow to come, or hard to decipher, or can be difficult to live into. Sometimes the answers are pretty damn clear.

When thinking about entering the Leadville 100, the Question was already there. It had been there for a few years. I lived into the answer that running in wild places is one thing that excites me, makes me feel alive. Life is whittled down to simple, primal needs and requires a deep focus of the mind and body. There is connection and clarity.

In the early morning hours of August 16th, 2014, I will line-up at the start line in downtown Leadville with 700 other brave souls. At precisely 4:00am, with so many friends and family watching, race founder,14-time finisher and all-around badass Ken Chlouber will raise the barrel of his 12-gauge shotgun into the air. Silently, looking West into the darkness of the Rocky Mountains, I’ll take a deep breath and smile. “What will you do with your One Wild and Precious Life?”
When the gun fires, the answer will be clear:

                              Run.

 

 

 

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week of july 21st thru july 27th, 2014 (mm 95)

The Bender, Week 4: the final throw-down

Monday & Tuesday

rested up after another big weekend in the PB

Wednesday

6 miles, 1:10,+800′ vert. Perch #60. sarah and duder joined me for a pleasant evening jaunt up to the usual spot. hung out for a few before a fast decent. put on the hoka cadillacs for this one to mix it up. legs felt peppy for both the ups and downs. great company too. i still love this route, even though i’ve done it close to 300 times in the last three years.

Thursday

Was going to run the Bacon Strip but was still feeling exhausted. I thought better of pushing it in favor of (hopefully) more energy this weekend.

Friday

11 miles, 2:30, +850′ vert. LT100 course, Start to Turquoise Lake. drove up to leadville this morning with bro and ran the beginning section of the course to turquoise lake and back. pouring rain and some really close lightning, but otherwise an enjoyable and informative outing. started the ‘pacers weekend’ off right. two and a half days of running and camping to finish out my training.

Saturday

26 miles, 7:15, +4500′ vert. got up early and ran miles 50 through 60 (Winfield to Twin Lakes) with Bro and Stubbs, then Twin Lakes to the Fish Hatchery with Jay and Jeff. Awesome day. the twin lakes/creek/swamp crossing was a bit of a (wet) mess but the section overall went great. Jay and Jeff met us in TL to cover the next section (Jay’s pacing section), which includes a very long, straight (boring?) descent toward Half Pipe and the FH. started feeling a dull-then-sharper pain on the outside of my right foot. Definitely never felt a foot pain like that before–quite concerning considering this is my last major training week (stress fracture?! plantar fascitis?! what the hell?!). I tried my best not to panic (fail…) and walked/jogged the last few miles of pavement to fish hatchery. See how it feels tomorrow…

Sunday

11 miles, 2:30, +1400′ vert. fish hatchery to may queen, LT100 course. last real day of training for the race. foot was feeling a bit better (though the pain is still present) after using jeff’s roller ball on it last night. started the section off slow (and tired, and sore) but warmed-up nicely while ascending the powerline climb with jeff. so appreciative of his knowledge and wisdom surrounding this event! felt really solid the last 3/4 of the outing and shaved about 20 minutes off my time from last week. feeling pretty well, if not a bit tired, and ready for the Great Tapering to begin. excellent weekend!

Weekly Totals

54 foot miles, 13.5 hours, +7550′ vert.  Last big week of training for the Leadville 100. Still seems strange that it’s almost August. Overall I’m feeling pretty good about this year’s training–sure, I could’ve done some more core stuff or speed training but considering I have no serious injuries to report, and I’m feeling pretty strong, I’ll take it. Will it be enough come race day?? I don’t know. But I’ll have a good shot. The LT100 has a 50% finish rate. Yep, half the people heading west on 6th street at 4am on August 16th will not make it to the finish. What’s more, rookies have a much smaller chance–something like 35%. That being said, I’m not feeling deterred. If I start slow, stay steady, can climb Hope Pass as if being chased by a ravenous grizzly, and employ the stubborn resolve that’s got me this far–I should have a chance. But for now…time to rest. 

week of july 14th thru july 20th, 2014 (mm 93)

The Bender, week 3

Monday
7 miles, 1:20,  +900′ vert. Perch #58. felt sluggish and tired all day, but 4 minutes into the run I perked-up and actually felt comfortable and smooth with a faster pace. got home just in time for the downpour.

Tuesday
10 miles, 1:50, +800′ vert. ran the bacon strip again with sarah. cooler temps with a nice breeze but i felt positively terrible. no energy or pop to speak of. ended-up walking a fair amount of the uphills which vexed me, but so it goes. i’m actually shocked at how close the overall time was compared to the two previous outings on this route. amazing how the same pace can feel so different. glad i kept plodding along and finished (didn’t really have a choice…). still feel like i’m recovering from the 33 miler last friday.

Wednesday
rest day

Thursday
7 miles, 1:25, +900′ vert. Perch #59. feeling a lot better after a day off yesterday. ran in the afternoon with sarah–perfect outside after a week straight of afternoon rain. the trail dried out nicely and the pegs felt fresh and smooth. enjoyed it.

Friday
13 miles, 2:40, +500′ vert. ran the LT100 route (miles 86 thru 93 and back) around Turquoise Lake with Duder on a gorgeous Colorado evening. the May Queen section is pretty up and down (small rollers)–80-90% runnable. Tripped about five times and took a hard fall/roll once–lots of roots and rocks and random footing. By the time I do this section Inbound, i’ll have 85 miles under my legs and have been awake for at least 26 or 27 hours. should be interesting!

Saturday
26.3 miles, 6:10, +3500′ vert. May Queen aid thru Fish Hatchery, toward Halfpipe on LT100 course. a long outing with two of the six major climbs, including my first crack at the Powerline climb (whew that first 1/2 mile of ascent is nasty!). Felt great until the last mile or two of pavement back into May Queen. started the route with Kels and duder and continued on when they turned back. Exciting to see new sections of the race route (after reading/hearing about them for years) and thinking about how my race (could) unfold. there were a lot of ups and downs (energy and mentally) today, which actually added to my confidence–knowing that the downs will always end at some point and I just need to keep moving. felt good.

Sunday
12 miles, 4:00, +4000′ vert. Hope Pass, LT100 course. started from the sheep gulch trailhead with Duder, ascended the winfield side of hope pass, then I descended the north side for a couple miles. turned around and re-ascended the north side and descended the winfield/south side to catch-up with Duder. we jogged the new CDT section of trail back to winfield and met back up with our friends. solid day in the saddle. the first ascent was pretty tough on the legs after yesterday’s outing, but like normal the soreness passed and the breath returned. finding the slow, yet steady climbing pace is pretty critical. great end to the weekend.

Weekly Totals
75 foot miles, 17.5 hours, 10,600′ vertical gain (141’/mile). Another solid training week including great recon miles on the LT100 course. the vertical gain per mile was a little low but the focus was more on rolling running miles and less on steep inclines (minus the hope pass day).  I’m now down to less than a month to go before the Race, and have only one more big training week to go.  the hardest part of training is yet to come though–the dreaded “taper weeks” when I start getting antsy and need to focus on rest. great time to figure out logistics and details not related to run-training.  getting pretty excited for the big day and all the friends and family i get to see and share the experience with. 

week of july 7th thru july 13th, 2014 (mm 91)

The Bender, week 2

Monday

much needed rest

Tuesday

see Monday

Wednesday

10 miles, 1:46, +800′ vert. the bacon strip. the first mile was tough as i hadn’t run in a couple days, still recovery from last week and had a massage. i reminded myself that the first mile is always tough after a couple days off. after the first couple hills though, my legs and knees started working themselves out and sarah and i fell into a pretty good pace for the majority of the outing. the last mile and a half i started feeling really good so i pushed the pace to the end. definitely felt better than last week.

Thursday

resting up for tomorrow’s throw-down

Friday

33 miles, 7:52, +6000′ vert. the towers trifecta 53k! starting from arthur’s rock t.h., ran south along the rolling valley trail to towers, hoofed it up and back–thrice. really, this was both a third of the mileage and ascent/descent of the LT100, and mimicked it quite nicely: a lot of joggable/runnable rolling sections, a few flats, and plenty of vertical. the day got very hot in a hurry, so the second loop was pretty miserable, but like usual, some thunderheads rolled in and cooled things off. nice sprinkle of rain for about 45 minutes on loop #3. other than a little chaffage in the netherregions which we will not speak of, (the netherregions is also where the netherlands are located) the day went well. really wanted to put in a 30+ mile effort one more time (more for mental training than physical) and today fit the schedule just right.

Saturday

rockies-twins game, hotdog with all the fixin’s, nepalese food for dinner and a beer for dessert. good rest day!

Sunday

7 miles, 2:30, +1700′ vert. Towers outing with kels and duder. had to take cover about halfway up and wait out a pretty decent thunderstorm. plenty-o-lightning. after about a half hour the skies cleared and we were treated to a double rainbow and nice sunset. great end to the week. legs and hips were still sore from friday’s run but overall i felt good.

Weekly Totals

50 foot miles, 12.5 hours, +8500′ vert (170’/mile, not bad). week two of the Bender, as the lower mileage shows, centered completely around Friday’s long outing. It ended up being like a mini-race week of sorts, with some rest, easy runs and one really long effort. despite the low mileage i’m satisfied with how the week played out and am happy that i got in one last long day’s effort. the next two weeks will include longer outings in Leadville (three days in a row both weekends) and normal weekly build-ups.  two big bender weeks to go before the Great Tapering of ‘0-14. 

Top of hope pass looking north toward leadville.

much of the LT100 is on the Colorado/Continental Divide Trail -- good choice!

much of the LT100 is on the Colorado/Continental Divide Trail — good choice!

nice lookin' hope pass selfie, if you ask me.

nice lookin’ hope pass selfie, if you ask me.

 

the view that greeted me when i cleared hope pass, looking south

the view that greeted me when i cleared hope pass, looking south

king elbert

nearing hope pass, Mt. Hope

nearing hope pass, Mt. Hope

still snow to cross above 12,000 ft

still snow to cross above 12,000 ft

week of june 30th thru july 6th, 2014 (mm 89)

The Bender, Week 1

Monday

6 miles, 1:10, +800′ vert. perch #56. waited til the sun started settin’ to head-out. joined Kels and Maya for the way up and back down to the TH, then finished it off by runnin’ home. Kept it nice and light–want to slowly make my way into this weekend.

Tuesday

10 miles, 1:48, +800′ vert. “The Bacon Strip”. That. was. hard. rolling dirt country road northeast of town with sarah. we settled into a great 9-920/mile pace and chatted as we ascended and descended a few hills. the first 5 miles or so went great and it was fun to get the legs turnin’ over for more than a mile or two at a time. but after while the hills didn’t stop and the sun started baking us…like bacon (is that how the route got it’s name?). The last couple miles were a struggle, but the kind of struggle that was good and tells me we need to continue coming back to this route. Rolling hills = good. Bacon Strip, 1. Muck…well, maybe a 1/2. great company and fun to try a new route. Actually running 10 miles in a row is a strange feeling, but one I need to get used. 

Wednesday

packed up the Soobs and drove to Leadville for a run/fun-filled weekend

Thursday

10 miles, 4:00, +3500′ vert. hope pass (via Willis Gulch trail), the ‘crux’ of the LT100. great hike with kels, mack and sarah to the bowl below the saddle. steady and long. went on ahead and got up to the last switchbacks and turned around (dark clouds rollin’ in) before ascending again with the peeps. the climb itself only contains a half dozen or so really steep sections–mostly at the beginning and at the very top. the middle portion actually has ‘flatter’ portions that, while i wouldn’t run them during the race, will provide a nice reprieve and a chance to fast hike. overall a great day, great view, weather and friends–not much more you can ask for. enjoyed it.

Friday

20 miles, 7:13, +6000′ vert. Hope Pass double crossing. Started at willis gulch again, ascending up and over hope and down the (very) steep south side toward winfield. Enjoyed the morning and concentrated on a steady, “all day” pace. as the trail gets close to the road, it splits into a new section of the CDT/CT–a pretty rolling, yet posh trail. after swinging through winfield (great little historic, mining town) and meeting up with Kels, we re-ascended hope from the winfield side, then descended again back to the car, before I added a mile or so on to make it a full 20 miles. man, the ascent back up hope is gonna be killer–especially with 50+ miles on the legs. possibly the steepest trail i’ve ever been on. #unrelenting. unfortunately there really isn’t much that compares near ft collins but Towers Rd will have to do. overall a great day again–legs and body responded well and it was great ending the day hiking with Kels. finished just before the lightning and hail started!

Saturday

20 miles, 4:59,+~2800′ vert. Twin Lakes to Loggers Trail and back on the LT100 course. recon, day three. started from twin lakes and headed north, only to go off course three times (even with the map in my pack), adding about 4-5 miles to the outing. enjoyable day though; glad I made errors today instead of later. energy and legs felt up-and-down most of the day but I suppose that’ll happen with three big days in a row. great to explore a new trail(s).

Sunday

6 miles, 1:11, +800′ vert. perch #57. capped a big week off with an easy stroll up the hill after returning to town and unpacking the car. four days of camping and running–magnificent! knees were pretty creaky today and energy pretty low, but I enjoyed stretchin’ things out. I think I’ll take tomorrow off.

Weekly Totals

72 foot miles, 14,700′ vertical gain (204’/mile…perfect), ~20.5 hours. 

Certainly the biggest week of running I’ve ever had. Almost 15k of climbing and 20 hours on the feet–that’s like having a part time job (…unpaid).  Actually pretty happy with how the body handled the work load. Certainly tired and a bit creaky but satisfied with how well The Bender got started. Leadville, as always, did not disappoint with cooler temps, afternoon thunderstorms and snow still hangin’ on up in the higher parts. Great to get to know the course a bit and see what I have to look forward to in six weeks.