Wednesday, November 12, 2014

First Winter Run, Ketone Bodies, Zion Double Crossing FKT, UTMB, Nanga Parbat, 24 Hours of Sanitas

First Winter Run, Ketone Bodies, Zion Double Crossing FKT, UTMB, Nanga Parbat, 24 Hours of Sanitas

Well, winter rolled in with a vengeance this week. On Monday I was running laps at Red Rocks, where I started in shorts and a t-shirt but finished with a jacket and pants. The arctic blast was forecasted to roll in Monday at around noon, but early Monday morning it was warm and sunny. I went for a quick 7,000' of gain on the Red Rocks loop, hoping to beat out the cold front. I didn't quite make it, as I watched in awe as the cold air first rolled into Denver and down Cherry Creek - a moving blanket of clouds and visibly cold looking air. After it reached south Denver, it backed up and started to come around Green Mountain, rising up and over the hogback. Then, on my 13th lap a brisk wind picked up and within a half mile it went from 60 degrees or so to around 30. I tucked tail and did one more lap before calling it quits.
 Morning sunrise tempo run.
 Sunrise from on top of the local mountain.

I ran across an interesting article the other day that may be a nutritional breakthrough for endurance sports - ketone esters and nutritional administration of ketone bodies. As the article explains, the ketone diet works, but only if you are working at a fairly low effort level. There doesn't seem to be any scientific evidence that a ketone diet works for effort levels above 70% or so. However, there may be some benefit to utilizing ketone bodies for energy supplementation during exercise. But how does one utilize ketone bodies without going into starvation mode, which is really the only way the body produces them? New studies indicate that scientists may have come up with a synthesized ketone body that is bound to an ester which allows it to be stable, while still being able to be broken down in the stomach. Yes, a ketone body milkshake is coming soon. The science is still out on whether this type of fueling will prove to be beneficial or possible, but it is very intriguing, especially for endurance athletes as it may not upset the stomach while still providing a steady and reliable source of fuel. You can read the article here (and the article they reference concerning the ketone milkshake here).

Ran up the mountain this morning. Radio said it was zero degrees out, and I would believe them. It is that time of year again...

Looks like the UTMB is no longer associated with The North Face. I'm sure it is all about the financials, but an end of an era nonetheless. Here is to hoping that the new partnership with Columbia Sportswear Company is just as beneficial.

There are two new 'zines out that I really like. The first, Like the Wind, is out of the UK and is really nice. Not your typical runners magazine, but rather a cool, art focused graphic book with stories, art, photos, and more. No ads, just page after page of really creative content. The other is Meter by Tracksmith. Again, a solid magazine, but in full newspaper print size, with double page photos, art, and excellent writing. Both of these two magazines are hands down more interesting, creative, and cool then anything I've seen on the market. Really inspiring. I wish there was something similar for climbing.

Two great endurance events took place over the past two weeks that really embody the sport. First is the new FKT on the Zion Double Crossing set by Craig Lloyd and Jennilyn Eaton on November 7 in 24 hours and 50 minutes. The Trans-Zion seems like a great run, almost better then the R2R2R these days, but the Double is just amazing. Just six days before, here in Boulder, locals Adam St. Pierre and Henry Schliff completed 24 hours of Mt. Sanitas. Wowza! They pulled of 28,000' of climbing and 70 miles during that time. Here is Adam's report, and here is Henry's. I really dig these types of efforts - low key, no publicity, just people out there pushing the limits really for their own personal reasons.

I've done my share of winter climbing and mountaineering, having summited a couple 17,000' and 18,000' peaks. However, the 8,000 meter peaks are an entirely different animal. Now imagine trying to climb one in the winter. Talk about suffering. This video really got to me. I really felt the raw human emotion in this video, especially at the end. You may not even care about climbing big peaks, but I think anyone who has pushed themselves to the limit can feel how stripped down these two climbers are.

Monday, November 3, 2014

New Roundup Of Scientific Research, Money In Mountain Running, US Skyrunning Series, 24 Hours Of Sanitas

New Roundup of Scientific Research, Money in Mountain Running, US Skyrunning Series, 24 Hours of Sanitas

I've been swamped lately working, so most of my training has been confined to the local hills. Likewise, I've been focusing a bit on speed workouts, trying to get some leg turnover going for a few shorter races this early winter (a 10K in Arvada and a Half in Westminster). Although I'm not a speedster by any means, I've been doing a session of 4x60secs on flats and 4x15secs on a steep hill, as well as some Meb style kicks (3 sets post workout) twice a week. I've also incorporated a once a week tempo run on a rolling course (1,000' of gain only) which seems to be helping. I'm going to keep working this, as well as my usual vert. days, for a bit and see what kind of speed I can pull off in these two upcoming races.
 It's called Golden for a reason - sunrise speed session photo
A car full of shoes for One World Running

Here is the latest roundup on new scientific articles concerning running:

The first three continue to build on the scientific literature concerning nitric oxide and dietary nitrate supplementation. I'm really excited to be using Red Rush as it is an all natural concentration of beet juice that tastes good and is easy to take. Although there is no real studies looking at nitric oxide and climbing, there is plenty of cross over from running, strength training, and so forth that also would benefit climbers too.

Another study looks at training volume (in terms of hours) and intensity, and found that training volume is essential, but intensity can cause some problems if not properly monitored. This makes sense, as we all know that if you want to be a better runner, you need to run more. Likewise, intensity is great, but you cant do HIIT workouts every day as some argue. To back this up, another new study has verified what we already know: to be a good runner you have to do volume, some intensity, and some threshold workouts. I've been negligent in this aspect, especially in the summer when all I want to do is long mountain runs. Hence, my focus on quality workouts with a purpose. It is all about discipline, purpose, and consistency.
Another sunrise run - early morning sessions are often the most productive

So, there is money in mountain running, just not the kind we find here in the US. Why is that? I don't quite understand the disjunction between mountain running, skyrunning, short mountain ultra running, and trail running. It seems we have too many governing bodies that spread out the field, cause confusion, and fail to allow us to really put together a solid series of races - especially as a US team on the world stage.

Speaking of which, the US Skyrunning series for 2015 came out today. I'm planning on doing the series again, and hoping for a higher place then 10th overall. Looks like I have to figure out how to budget for some travel...

Big congrats to Adam St. Pierre and Henry Schliff for their completion of the 24 Hours of Mt. Sanitas. An amazing achievement! Speaking of which, William and I, and anyone else who wants to join, are doing 12 hours of Mt. Morrison on Nov. 15 from 6am to 6pm. We are going for the M10 Challenge, but I really don't know if it is possible in 12 hours.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Red Rock Challenge

The Red Rock Challenge

I've been working a fair bit lately, which has limited my ability to get into the mountains. However, I still try and log one or two solid vertical days per week to keep my climbing legs and to prep for future plans. As such, trying to come up with fun long runs with lots of vert. is not as easy as it may seem here along the Front Range. The M5 Challenge is great, but it is more power hiking then running, and so I was looking for something similar but that allowed me to run for the entire time. In a scramble to come up with something, I devised what I am dubbing the Red Rock Challenge. The challenge is simple, run as many laps as you can/want on a 1 mile, 500' gain loop that goes directly through Red Rocks amphitheater. The run seems easy enough at first, but soon the laps start adding up and the vertical really gets to the legs, simply because there are really no walking/hiking breaks and every mile you gain and lose 500'. This morning I was able to bang out 16 laps before throwing in the towel - I seem to have a small bruise on the knuckle of my second toe that started to act up. So I ended up with 16 miles and 8,000' of gain in 2:29.

Some people may not like the idea of laps, but I've really been enjoying them lately. They are easy to deal with - you run by your car each lap, so you don't have to carry water, food, etc. At Red Rocks, there are so many people out exercising, running the stairs, etc., that you can basically people watch the entire time. I think this is a great challenge, and perfect for the upcoming winter as the loop should be dry all winter and is a good running course with little or no power hiking - I was by the last two laps power hiking the stairs, skipping every other one.

Seems like UROC is moving to California. I wonder if this has anything to do with the permitting issues noted by Sherpa John - which if true, are a real bummer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The M5 Challenge Again, New North Fork Trail, Bouldering Project, New Races, Sugar

The M5 Challenge Again, the new North Fork Trail, Bouldering Project, New Races, Sugar

More catching up... ran/power hiked the M5 Challenge on Saturday. This is really a solid test piece, and one that I want to continue to incorporate into a semi-regular training basis. Since the trail is not an official trail, it is not nearly as buttery smooth as many of the other trails out there, and mimics a more mountain trail then most found on the Front Range. I felt good the entire time, but really didn't push, just kept an even pace. I kept thinking about the M10 Challenge during the outing, but that thought quickly faded - if anyone is up for a 12 hour Fat Ass this winter, let me know and we can give it a shot.

On Monday I ran the brand new North Fork out of Reynolds Park. This is a new 9.3 mile long trail (one way) that winds along and eventually reaches the South Platte. The fall colors were simply amazing during the run, and although the trail is really smooth (it is open to mountain bikers too, so they made it "flow", which means it is somewhat tedious for runners with all of its winding and non-direct lines) it travels through some really remote feeling country. I didn't see anyone else on the full run, except for my wife!

There are more and more new races being promoted, mostly on FB. My question is, why are they promoted prior to getting a permit? A new one just went live today, a 100 miler, but since I know the area really well, I don't think they will get a permit unless the course is somewhat blah. The area is surrounded by designated wilderness, so most of the mountains are off limits from my understanding. I can see how a RD would want to gauge interest, but it seems counterproductive to promote a race, build a website, attract participants (and sometimes, even have them register) prior to getting permits.

Working my bouldering project. I've got it down to two parts, with two moves that I can still not link together. Total moves is around 22, so almost a short sport route, but I really enjoy the problem and setting, and believe that once I can get it linked, it will go at about V10 or so.

Interesting article on gastrointestinal complaints during exercise. As I noted before, I've been playing around with getting nitric oxide via beetroot juice, which so far seems to be beneficial in terms of a cost/benefit ratio and have also experimented with using multiple forms of carbohydrates during exercise, but have not been able to really nail it beyond the 8 hour window (of course, it also highly depends on race day temperatures and terrain/energy expenditure for me). Still learning, which makes it all so exciting.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Flatiron Scrunbling, Nitric Oxide, Mount Evans Wilderness, Full Moon

Flatiron Scrunbling, Nitric Oxide, Mount Evans Wilderness, Full Moon

Last Friday I got out for a bit of scRUNbling in the Flatirons before work. I cruzed up to Dinosaur Mountain and did five laps on Sunnyside Two before continuing up and hitting up another slab on an unknown formation. I then dropped north and ended up doing most of the East Face of Dum before topping out on the summit of Dinosaur Mountain. Other then sending the sport routes on Der Zerkle and Square Rock a long time ago, as well as sending the FA of the Avs Wall Traverse and some other hard boulder problems in the area, I've never really scrunbled on the flatirons on Dinosaur Mountain. They are pretty cool, and I think I've figured out a set of routes that I can put together into a fun line for a bit over 2,000' of scrunbling: TipToe to East Face of Dinosaur to Sunnyside Two to Mallory Flatironette to South Ramp on the Box to Primal Rib on the Rainbow to the East Face on Dum to the summit. I'm hoping to link this together this fall.

 Top of Sunnyside Two with the downclimb off of Dinosaur in the background

 Cave like feature near the Box.
 Looking down into Bear Canyon from the summit.
 Captured the full moon rising last night, but a thin cloud layer prevented a good photo of the eclipse.
 I picked up an old guidebook (I like collecting guidebooks, you can learn a lot of history and obscure routes from them). Found this photo interesting - I don't think there has been a June with this much snow up high in a long time, maybe since 1982!
I got the opportunity to try some beetroot juice concentrate from Red Rush. I've been reading about nitric oxide and its benefits in terms of athletic performance (see here for some new research, and here, here, and here for previous research), but have not been able to afford/find a way to naturally get it. The beetroot juice concentrate from Red Rush seems pretty good so far, and the flavor is not bad. It may seem expensive for some, but if you think of it as being the same, if not cheaper then a coffee drink, it is well worth it.

Fairly psyched to have finished in 10th place overall in the US Skyrunning Sky series. I really wanted to get to Flagstaff for the final, but couldn't afford it. Not bad for not doing any speed all summer and mostly just trudging in the mountains. Looking forward to next year to place higher, and hopefully they will have more races in the series as well.

Put in a nice long effort in the Mount Evans Wilderness the other day. Ran about 20 miles in 3:45 at a fun pace. I missed the aspens by about a week it looked like, but still found some good views and shots. I was on the southwest side mostly, on Abyss Lake and Rosalie trails. Great trails for running - mellow grades, not too rocky, excellent views - and I didn't see a single person the entire time. Not bad for being only 1 hour from home.