Sunday, September 27, 2015

Flatirons Tour, Andrew's Amazing Summer, Sports Hall of Fame

Flatirons Tour, Andrew's Amazing Summer, Sports Hall of Fame

In an attempt to maximize page views, I'm going to drop a bunch of big names. No, not really, but over these last two weeks I've had the honor to write about and hang with some superstars.

I've written now for almost every type of publication. It took me about 5+ years before my academic writing stated to get published. That took a lot of work, research, and effort to figure out how to write in an academic setting. It paid off, however, as I now have publications in journals, books, encyclopedias and the like. About a year ago I started to try my hand at sports journalism, something I knew nothing about. With the help and guidance of Mike Sandrock, Todd Straka, and Brian Metzler, I'm pretty psyched to have finally started to get published in that world. It's been a long journey, and I've had to re-learn the art of writing, but it has been a great challenge and something that I have really enjoyed. I finally capped off that journey last week when two of my articles were published in Competitor - my biggest publication to date in the field of sports journalism. I wrote one article on the start of the Tour de Flatirons by Satan's Minions and another on Andrew Hamilton's amazing summer of 14er records. Thanks for the encouragement and help from everyone along the way!

 I made the above map for the article, but it was not included. It shows Andrew's splits on his Nolan's 14 run. All on two granola bars, a Subway sandwich, and a ton of powdered drink!

 This is a photo I took from the summit of Mt. Harvard, showing the southern half of the Nolan's line.

 Here is looking north from Mt. Harvard showing the northern half of the line.

Then, last night, after a lot of work on the part of many, many people, the 4th Annual Boulder Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony took place. Again, such an honor to be part of the event and to meet such amazing people.

Okay, time to drop some names (left to right): Frank Shorter, Steve Jones, Loraine Moller, Benji Durden, Tim DeBoom, Lynn Hill, Jim Erickson.

Attending the event last night really put into perspective just how many amazing people call Boulder home. There were probably another dozen Olympians, World Record holders, and the like in the audience. Small fish in a BIG pond indeed!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Oh Where Does The Time Go?

Oh Where Does The Time Go?

Lots has happened since my last post. Tara and I moved out of our VW Rabbit after living in it for 3 months and we are now living the American Dream as owners of a condo in Golden. I orchestrated a coup at work and got the owners to back off, which in turn made me an official manager. As a result, my work level increased, but not my pay. My right foot has developed some sort of wonky twinge that has been bothering me for a couple weeks now - it only hurts when I run, not when I power hike. So, if you notice my strava data, it is all power hikes up Mt. Morrison, Bergen Peak, Grays and Torreys and the like. I'm just now able to run again and get back into it. We will see how that goes as the US Skyrunning Championships in Flagstaff are Oct. 2-3 and I'm all ready to go. I am working on another trail running guidebook with Adam Chase and Nancy Hobbs, so that has taken up a bunch of time writing up trails, taking photos, etc. It will be a complementary guidebook to my other one - The Best Front Range Trail Runs - as it will have different trails in it. Together, the two should cover just about every trail along the Front Range from Boulder to Colorado Springs. I continue to try and work on my journalism, writing up some articles here and there for Colorado Runner Magazine, but lately I have been too swamped to get much done. However, the real big deal is that I am in the midst of a project celebrating Boulder runners and Boulder running. It will be a full color magazine/book that will come out this January. If anyone wants to contribute photos, writing, art, poetry, or other items, please reach out to me. I've been reaching out to folks and getting content, etc., but I have not announced it to the world at large yet. It will probably consume most of Oct. and Nov. I was appointed Deputy Director of the Transpersonal Psychology Department at Akamai University, and as a result am now working a ton on revamping the program and sitting on two different Ph.D. committees. Oh, and I'm furiously trying to get into the mountains before the snow comes and the mountain running season ends.

So there it is, a major catch up in only one paragraph! As usual, I'm more frequent on Twitter, Facebook, and Strava, but I do like trying to keep this blog up. Hopefully I'll get some more time and keep it going.

 The haze from the western fires on my Nolan's soft attempt. Sadly, I'd develop a weird altitude/asthma thing after four peaks, at which point I had to bail because I could not breath. The haze from the fires has been pretty bad off and on - I'm praying for rain for the folks out west.

 Antero from Tabeguache - pretty straight forward drop from the saddle down to Browns Creek, around the western side of the lake and then straight up.

 Looking back at Shavano and Tabeguache from near the top of Antero.

 Princeton from Antero.

 The trail up Grouse.

 The sunset with all of the haze in the air - and my lungs!

 The old familiar - the Stevens Gulch road. I've been getting back into hitting up the Full Kelso route and doing Grays and Torreys. It is such a perfect line - 5,300' of elevation gain all on a nice, dramatic ridge with plenty of class 3. I'm trying to get a good FKT for the line - right now it is 4:01 roundtrip from Bakerville for the Full Kelso and G & T. Certainly can go faster, especially on the descent where I have to go a bit slow due to my wonky ankle.

 The start of the Full Kelso - just power hike straight up for a vertical K.

 Colors are going off right now up high.

 Another go at the Full Kelso FKT - still not happy with my time, but there was snow and ice up high this time, so it will have to wait until next year for a real fast attempt at this point.

Sunrise laps on Mt. Morrison - always worth it.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Tushar 93K Race

Tushar 93K Race

Last Saturday, way out in the Tushar Mountains, was the Tushar 93K race. Part of the US Skyrunning Ultra series, this inaugural race came just 13 days after the Power of Four 50K in Aspen. After the Power of Four my quads had some pretty good DOMS, and I really didn't do much running. A couple days of rest and the DOMS wore off and I was able to run a couple good runs on the local hills. I felt fairly good about the upcoming race and was excited to get on the road.

We left Thursday after work and drove out to Grand Junction for the night, then continued on to Beaver, Utah the following day. There is not a lot to the town of Beaver, and hanging out in town one thinks they are in a semi-desert wasteland. However, driving up the canyon towards Eagle Point Ski Area and the start of the race, the environment begins to change and pretty soon you are up in the desert alpine of the Tushar Mountains. I didn't really pay much attention to the course profile or description, hoping not to scare myself or get too psyched out. Rather, I tried to just go into the race as a "long day in the mountains."

Saturday morning the race got under way at 5am. It was pretty casual, and we all started mellow under the fading light of the full moon. I quickly fell into pace with Scott out of Salt Lake and we joked how our goal was to finish before it got dark again - 16 hours roughly. Little did I know that that was just about right for me.

The course was killer. It was a massive lollipop course with one serious out and back at the half way point. All of the course was either at treeline or above it, with a few sections where you dropped down to around 10,000' before climbing back up to the alpine. Most of it was on singletrack or overgrown, grass slopes, some talus, a bit of alpine tundra, with a few small sections of jeep road thrown in for fun. There is very little that one would consider "smooth, flowy trail" but rather "tight, technical, rocky trail" is what the course consisted of. The views were out of this world, the wildflowers were over the top, and the summits made the long climbs worth it. It was a true Skyrunning course.

My race went well. I stayed consistent most of the day, just chugging along trying to run when I could, but mostly power-hiking as fast as I could. As the day wore on, despite being tired, I was pretty happy with how I felt - I was able to keep moving and my spirits were high all day. I can't say that was the case for everyone, as over half the field dropped or were timed out. I didn't bring my camera, something that I cursed myself for during the race as it was so beautiful, but I've stolen a couple photos from other runners to showcase just how amazing this course is.

I crossed the finish line just as it was getting too dark to see without a headlamp, almost exactly 16 hours after starting. That's right, it took me 16:02:47 to cover 57 miles and 16,500' of gain. Good enough for 18th place overall, 3rd master. The winner took over 12 hours, so that should give some idea of how brutal a course this was. The aid stations were amazing - one had a live red-tail hawk just hanging out - and the volunteers really made the race. Without them I doubt that I would have finished.

 Views of the Swell on the way out...
 View from the start at Eagle Point Ski Area
 5AM Start
 It was an amazing sunrise that morning...
 View of the Tushars looking down at Blue Lake. We descended all the way down to the lake, then climbed up past it and to a saddle just outside of the photo on the right. This was only the 5th of 11 climbs. Photo from Scott Zipprich.
 Typical view with wildflowers on the course. Photo from Scott Zipprich.
 We ran along this for a bit - simply amazing!
 Sunrise with runners on the course. Photo from Austin Baird.
Big climb up Copper Belt Peak at the halfway point. Again, amazing views. Photo from Scott Zipprich.
 Typical views and running terrain.
 More views of the "course".
And done!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Audi Power of Four Race

Audi Power of Four Race

I went into the Audi Power of Four 50K race with a couple goals in mind: get points in the US Skyrunning series, stay steady and strong for the entire race - don't crash and burn, and use it as a build up race for Nolan's. I'd say I accomplished all three goals, but I still was a bit disappointed in myself.

I won't go into a turn by turn race report, as that really only helps those who ran the course. Instead, the quick summary of the day is that there were three major climbs, two major descents, some traversing, meandering, and then a final mellow descent down to the finish. It rained off and on all day, making the course extremely muddy and wet, but it kept the heat down which was a good thing. I've heard a lot of people gripping about the first part of the course, where we went straight up Aspen and Highlands - pure powerhiking. I've also heard some people complain about the descent off Highlands - straight down ~2,000 in just under 2 miles. I found those sections to be fun and challenging, just what I would expect from a skyrace. My complaint with the course was the last section on Snowmass where we tooled around on tedious singletrack switchbacking slowly down to get in the correct miles to equal a 50K. Basically, I hated the running part!

And really, that is where I fell apart. Going up, going down, no problem, but the long traverse over to Snowmass in the deep mud, and then the tooling around on Snowmass for over 7K to just get in some random miles really killed my spirits and I mentally threw in the towel. I guess I'm just not a "runner" deep down.

I ended up 7th Master and 37th Overall. My watch said the race was 33 miles with 11,000' of gain. Despite my mental failure, I had a great time at the race - incredible course, great aid station volunteers, and a pretty fun day out in the mountains. If there were any complaints, it would be more options at the aid stations (pretty much only water, a few had Coke, and some Clif products) and some sort of medal at the finish line. This last thing seems to be a trend with the Skyraces, perhaps because the RDs need to pay the Skyrunning Federation too much to be part of the series or something, but I know mentally I really wanted something to prove that I slogged through that course. Now I've got less then six days to continue to recover and prep before the Tushar 93K in middle-of-nowhere Utah.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Talking About Races

Talking About Races

I've had some interesting experiences lately talking about races. I'm on Strava, but don't really get too into the analytics of it. Likewise, I have a GPS watch, but don't really know how to use it, and so I only clock car-to-car times, or on Strava, elapsed time. For me, this is fine since in a race it is about elapsed time, not moving time. However, when talking to people about races or even training runs, more often than not they are referring to moving time. This is not necessarily a problem, but I've noticed that after these talks, I end up having self-doubts about my abilities or training. Below is an extreme example that I ran across on Strava from earlier this week.
Now here is an example of where moving and elapsed times are totally way off. This may be no big deal, except that I often have a hard time parsing this out in my head, and instead think that I need to run way faster, or give up completely.

For example, I'm doing the Audi Power of Four 50K race in a couple weeks. I've never done the race, but I was talking with someone who did it last year and they were saying things like "it will be really fast on the downhills, probably sub-5 min/miles." I'm like, shit, I don't know if I have ever run a sub-5 min/mile, let alone during a 50K. I'm going to get killed! But is that really true?

Does talking about races help or hinder? For me, I can't decide. I think I learn some things about the course, what to expect, but at the same time, I seem to come away from these types of conversations a bit worse off. I get negative and have self doubts about my abilities and my training. I like to think that I'm training as best as I know how given that I work full time and have other responsibilities, but I also know there are people who will be at the race who are professionals or who don't have any other life constraints except for running. I don't come from a running background, but a climbing one. So running fast is not something I can just do. I ran some fast races this winter, but now my mountain legs are back and that means I've slowed down. Anyways, I'm just not sure how good it is to talk with other runners about things unless they are totally opposite, like running in Europe or something that doesn't directly touch my life. Even talking about local runs, I often get discouraged because I don't think I will ever be that fast. However, it could just be the difference between moving and elapsed times... Just some thoughts.

 Old stuff in the Niwot Ridge biosphere - a nice hard run can be done here up through the biosphere to the ridge itself.
 Sunset in the Sawatch Range.
 This is the east ridge of Yale, which is the descent on the Nolan's line going north to south.
 This is the ridge coming out of Maxwell Gulch on Princeton, which is the ascent on the Nolan's line going north to south.
 This is the descent off Princeton, follow the ridge, turn left and down to where the snow almost ends, then off into the grass and follow the faint climbers trail to Alpine.
 I got these in the mail to try. A new shoe company with a new concept. They feel really interesting, but I have yet to actually run in them. We will see shortly.
 Long's in the distance from a run up Audubon from the winter trailhead. Why pay the entry fee when it is pretty easy to just run the trails from the winter trailhead.
 Looks, a brown object! No, a big bull moose. There were three of them in the willows just past Brainard Lake the other day. Apparently they are pretty common there right now.
 The flowers are in full bloom in the mountains right now!
 Nice perspective of James Peak's east face.
 The Continental Divide and the Pfiffner Traverse.
One of the most appealing looking sections of trail I know of! Yes, please run here.