Friday, August 29, 2008

Long week trip coming up!

Hey y'all I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya...
Allison and I are headed out for the week first to Lake Mead, NV for a friend's birthday party on Saturday and Sunday and then on up to City of Rocks, Idaho for a number of days climbing with our friends Rose and Chris. It'll be awesome. On the way, as we drive through Salt Lake City, UT, I'll be stopping to pace my friend David for the last 25 miles of the Wasatch 100 mile trail running race. I've never seen the course so I'm excited to run part of it and support David in this great race. I'll be back online in 9 days or so. Enjoy your holiday weekend.

Here's a great photo Bill took of me climbing Colossus, 5.10c, at sunset in City of Rocks, ID last time we were there.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Taos Up and Over 10k trail run, 2008-08-23

Taos Up and Over 10k
6.2 miles
2,600' vertical
Third overall, second male overall
Full results

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After last week's ascent run at Pikes Peak, I wanted to take advantage of some decent training I'd been doing recently so I headed up to the third annual Taos Up and Over (TUAO) 10k run with Allison, Chris and Rose. Rose and I both had run in the Pikes Peak Ascent last week but Rose was in wave two and had disappointedly been turned around at the A-Frame during the PPA so she was really looking for a finish at Taos.
The TUAO runs 2,600' vertical feet up the ski area and then back down via a course that's all dirt road jeep trails on the mountain. Neither Rose nor I had run it before.

This race was the complete opposite of last week's race on Pikes Peak. For one, the weather today was perfect. Also, the race is super low key and there were probably only 60 runners there. It's also much shorter. :) Just like I like it.

At the 9am start, I started in the front and quickly settled into second position at a comfortable pace. Unfortunately, though, I've come down with a small cold so my lungs were immediately feeling tight and somewhat burning. I was not optimistic about the lungs holding up but as I got higher, they felt better. My strategy was power hike on the steeps and hope those that were running ahead of me would tire out from the inefficient running up steep stuff. After about the first mile I was in fourth position and watched the first female and first male head up looking strong. The runner in third was running up the steep stuff and generally slowing down so I knew it wouldn't be long before I was able to pass him. I passed him just before the first water station where I powered down a gel and cup of water and kept the power hiking alternating with running on the lower angle terrain. At the top of the climb at mile 3 I watched the first male crest over in pursuit of the first female. I hit the top of the climb in 43:52 and hoped I'd catch the runners in front but as I looked down, I couldn't see them and figured I wouldn't catch them. The views of the highest peak in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak (13,161'), were awesome. The descent followed steep jeep roads down that were a bit loose at times so it was challenging. I was still able to run fast down though and held a 6:14 minute/mile pace for the entire 3.2 mile descent. I moved quickly and didn't expect to be caught and didn't expect to catch anyone. That's how it went all the way to the finish--uneventful and pretty quick. I finished in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 5 seconds for third overall, second male overall. For my effort I won a free day lift ticket for Taos Ski Area and now that snowboards are allowed, I'll definitely use it! Rose came in around 1:17ish which was good for third female overall. A very productive day for the Los Alamos runners!

At the start. Beautiful weather!

After the first switchback.

Finish! Note the awesome white balance of this shot. Allison used my chest for the white balancing.

Miles Fitzgerald finishes up around 1:11

Rose finishes in her matching skirt/shoes combo!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pikes Peak Ascent 2008-08-17

Pikes Peak on Sunday morning after the storms on Saturday during the ascent.

I found myself leaning my shoulder and head into the electric hand dryer in the Pikes Peak summit house, rubbing my hands together and grimacing in pain as the blood and feeling returned to my purple fingers. To the tourists walking into the restroom, I must have looked like some idiot as I continually restarted the air cycle of the dryer by pushing the side of my forehead into the big silver button.

I had just finished running my first-ever Pikes Peak Ascent in what many are calling the worst conditions ever for the race. When the race started in Manitou Springs at 7:00am, it was drizzling and the temperature was around 50 degrees. When I arrived on the summit of Pikes Peak after 13.32 miles, 7,815’ vertical feet of climbing and 3 hours, 12 minutes of running, it was snowing, the temperature was 32 degrees, the wind was blowing between 20 and 30mph and there was an occasional flash of lightning accompanied by some thunder.

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That morning, just before the start gun fired, I took off my wind shell jacket and tied it around my waist knowing I would appreciate it later above treeline. The forecast for the summit of Pikes Peak called for snow and winds up to 20mph. In the jacket pocket, I stashed a light beanie. On my body I wore a long sleeve synthetic shirt over a short sleeve synthetic shirt, shorts, smart wool socks and some lightweight trail running shoes. I had a pair of very light gloves in the pocket of my shorts. I also decided to carry a pair of cycling arm warmers in my other pocket. For fuel I carried a single 20oz hand bottle and a small gel bottle filled with about four gel packets-worth of Carb-Boom strawberry-kiwi energy gel.

The race started off well and I watched the fast runners shoot on ahead as I tried to stay towards the back of the front-runners pack. JV (Jeff Valliere) was gone and out of sight in no time on his way to his 2:53:34 finish so I locked onto friend Jeff Kunkle and made my best effort to keep him in sight for as long as I could. Not having run this race before, I was sure what kind of pace to hold down low and Kunkle had completed this race many times so my strategy was to just keep an eye on him to help pace me.
As we funneled into a single line of runner from the pavement onto the trail to reach Barr Trail, I watched Kunkle about 8 people ahead of me and tried to keep it that way. I expected it to be more hectic and tough to pass people on the trail up the Ws but it wasn’t very difficult. Everyone was very considerate and moved over if they felt someone else coming up behind them.

I set off on this race hoping to run it in 3 hours, 10 minutes. Using the online PPA pace calculator, I memorized three major split times along the course so I would know how I was doing on my way up. At the top of the Ws, I should be at 38:13. I ended up at 37:00. At Barr Camp I should be at 1:36:34. I ended up at 1:32:06. And at the A Frame, I should be at 2:15:21. I ended up there at 2:12:31. For my part, I did a pretty good job of pacing myself. I owe a lot of that to Kunkle too. I managed to keep him in sight, and even talk with him a bit, up until the Barr Camp. After that, though, he charged off to his 3:02:33 finish and I didn’t see him again until the summit.

Personally, I was feeling pretty good and on schedule for my 3:10 finish. The light rain was off and on but never very hard and the wind hadn’t kicked up. But that all changed when I came to the A Frame with about three miles to go. From here, we were out of the trees and into the full winds and snow. The trail began to get slushy from the wet snow and the winds got stronger as I got higher. When I was headed southerly it was a full-on headwind so I would tuck one hand into the pocket on my shorts and with the hand that was holding the water bottle, I’d stick it behind my back so it wasn’t exposed to the wind. When I’d hit a switchback towards the north I’d keep both hands in front of my body to keep my hands out of the wind. I had gloves on my hands but they were so light and damp they weren’t helping a great deal. I did end up using one of my arm warmers as a “mitten” on my right hand for a while which I think helped. The trail in the final few miles is trail constructed through talus so the footing got a bit slick but never too treacherous. As I got higher I could begin to hear the announcer at the finish line up above but because of the dense fog and snow, I couldn’t see up to the summit. Then, just after a volunteer standing next to the trail shouted, “less than a quarter-mile to go!” there was a bright flash of light followed quickly by a clap of thunder. This motivated me to push things a bit more and I cranked out what I could to the finish.

I was feeling good but the cold kept me from pushing it hard to the finish and I ended up two minutes behind my goal time with a finish time of 3:12:00 exactly. As I crossed the finish line I was immediately given a finisher’s medal by a volunteer (the volunteers that endured the conditions for hours on Saturday ought to be given huge stipends!) and pointed to the building where I could change and get some hot beverages. Allison was there at the finish to greet me (she had been standing out in the cold and snow for a quite a bit—what a trooper!) and give me my bag of warm, dry clothes.

En route to the summit shop, I stopped by the moving truck to pick up my finisher’s shirt. At this point, the wind was howling and the snow was blowing sideways. I quickly ran over to the summit shop where a guy yelled at me, “This building is for tourists and customers only, not for runners. There’s a building back that way where you can change.” Well, I knew that Allison was in the building and that there were restrooms with electric dryers in there so I told the guy, “I’m just going in to find my girlfriend.” With that, he gave a skeptical look and let me pass by. I found JV, Kunkle and Allison all waiting in the foyer of the building. I grabbed my dry clothing and ran into the men’s restroom inside to change. My body’s core temperature was still reasonable and I didn’t feel hypothermic but my fingers were completely numb. I had a very difficult time using the zipper on my jacket and untying my shoes. I went straight for the electric hand dryer and got to business undressing. Forgetting that I was among tourists and not fellow runners, I stripped down and threw all my wet clothes into the sink as I rubbed my fingers and hands under the welcoming warmth of the hand dryer. As the feeling and blood returned to my fingers, I grimaced in pain as another guy in the restroom stared at me probably wondering just what the hell I was doing. Runners. Yeah, we're different.

After getting into my dry clothes I headed out and found Allison again. We had heard they were considering closing the road down so we hustled out to the parking lot to find a shuttle. Allison had parked a few miles down the road at the Devil’s Playground so we hopped into a waiting shuttle van and endured a slow, tedious ride down the road to the parking area.

We got into Allison’s car and had an uneventful drive down the mountain and back to Manitou Springs where we met up with JV, Jeff, Jean, Wayne and Mark for some food and giant margaritas at The Loop.
I ended up 84th out of 762 runners in the ascent. Full results can be viewed here. Some good stories from the Colorado Springs Gazette... Peak Throws All its Tricks at Ascent Runners and Storm Pushes Many Ascent Runners Back Down.
And how about some more photos?
Hanging with the crew underneath the awning at the laundromat before the race.

The scene at the finish line just before JV, Kunkle and I finish.

JV (in blue) just after finishing. And to think he almost left that jacket at the start line!

Kunkle finishes strong sans hat or hood. What a toughie!

There I am rounding the corner to the finish line. I'm running, really!

Finishing strong! Or something.

Mount Audubon run and hike, 2008-08-09

JV power hiking up Mount Audubon when the sun was out briefly.
JV power hiking up Mount Audubon when the sun was out briefly.

I know it's over a week since I was up in the Indian Peaks Wilderness (IPW) but it was a great outing with my friends Jeff and his wife Allison so I figured I'd write up a little bit about it. Plus, JV did the hard work and posted a nice write-up on his blog so my job is a bit easier. :-)
I had never been up in the IPW but had read numerous reports and seen many more photos from the area. Bill and I were up in the Boulder area staying with JV and Allison so Bill could compete in the 5430 Triathlon that weekend. While Bill was checking in and scoping the course on Saturday, JV, Allison, their dog Sierra and I headed up into the IPW to run/hike Mount Audubon. It was a dubious weather day to start with low clouds and a cold wind but once we got going, and as the day progressed, the weather improved. The trail is well-traveled so it was easy going and offered some great views of Long's Peak and Mount Meeker to the north. "Hey JV, what's the peak over there?"

Monday, August 11, 2008

You won't see me swimming 1+ miles

But you can see Bill Geist in his first ever triathlon...a half Ironman called the 5430 Triathlon in Boulder, CO. I was up there with Bill this past weekend visiting our friends Jeff & Allison and Heather while Bill got to spend 5:17:17 swimming 1.2 miles, biking 57 miles and running 13 miles on Sunday.

I've only "competed" in one triathlon, the Los Alamos Triathlon, back in 2004 and that wasn't pretty but it was fun. The swim killed me because my idea of swim training was to go to the pool the day before the event and swim 100m with huge breaks every 25m. So it was awesome to see Bill and the other competitors jumping into the Boulder Reservoir to swim in open water like that. I would have required arm floaties to make it out alive! The full photos that I took can be seen here. The full results of the race can be found here. I'll let you know when Bill is going to compete in a full Ironman....

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What a week...

Busy at work for sure. I missed my regular, daily lunch run on Monday and Tuesday due to an aggressive project at work. But I did manage to get out today for the regular Wednesday Guardrail Grind at the bottom of the Camp May Road. This lovely quarter-mile section of guardrail beckons us each Wednesday so we can run 8 laps on the very steep paved road. A time of 2:20 or less up the .25 hill is quite good. Hard average is 2:30. My PR is 1:58 and I don't do that very often. Today was a hot day but the rain came in about halfway through the repeats making for a nice reprieve from the heat. Check out the details or just click the map below. If you want to join us next time, let me know.

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And speaking of working too much...Bill and I had hoped to leave town Thursday around noon to drive up to Rocky Mountain National Park and climb the Casual Route on the Diamond of Long's Peak in a a car to car effort on Friday. But the workload has dictated that we will not do that. But our backup plan is nearly as fun...we're headed for the Cynical Pinnacle in South Platte on Friday instead. From there we'll stay with our good friend Jeff Valliere in the Boulder area and do something fun involving mountains and trails on Saturday. Sunday Bill is competing in his first triathlon, the Boulder 5430 Triathlon long course. Wish him luck!

Now playing: Hawthorne Heights - Breathing In Sequence
via FoxyTunes

Monday, August 4, 2008

Would you eat this?

As a part of our bi-weekly Los Poblanos Organics fruit and vegetable box this week, we received an absolutely awesome eggplant! Check this thing out:

Then, we cooked up some croissants for dinner and found a matching partner for this badboy eggplant: