Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tunnel Hill Loop and Aerobic Capacity between Speed and Endurance Runners

Tunnel Hill Loop and Aerobic Capacity between Speed and Endurance Runners

Did a version of the Tunnel Hill loop today as a final run before this weekend's race. Up Little Vazquez, left on Ice Hill, up Lower Cherokee, then right and up on the Tunnel Hill (water board) road, then up the old Little Vazquez jeep road to the secret trail (Upper Chickadee) and down that to Chickadee and then back down Lower Vazquez. A really fun loop - 6.9 miles. Took me 1:03 at a very casual pace. Looking forward to this weekend; hopefully I've prepared better and things will go more smoothly then the last 50K race.

On another note, I'm sure almost every runner knows that running is good for your health. But what kind of running? Is endurance running better for one's health then say track workouts? According to a new study, endurance running is the best for aerobic capacity as one ages. Not until one reaches 80 years old does one see similar VO2max levels between endurance runners and speed and track runners (on average, there are always exceptions). However, the speed and track runners still exhibited far greater aerobic capacity then those who don't run. Just another little scientific study to back up our daily habit of going out and hitting the trails for a nice long run in the mountains!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Taper Continues - Three New Studies: Cold Liquids, Beetroot, and Echinacea on Running Performance

Taper Continues - Three New Studies

As the taper continues for this weekends race, a couple new studies popped up on my radar. The first one concerns the use of an ice slurry (cold, cold drink) and impact on performance of runners prior to a 10K race. The authors gave one group an ice slurry and another group an ambient temperature drink prior to a 10K race. They then looked at gastrointestinal temperature of both groups prior and during the race. They found that those that ingested the ice slurry had a cooler gastrointestinal temperature prior to, and during the first 1-2K of the race. After that, both groups appeared to be the same in terms of gastrointestinal temperature. The authors conclude that ingesting a very cold, icy drink prior to a race, especially in hot and humid environments, can improve race performance. This makes sense, as you will want to start off as cool as possible prior to a running race - in heat or otherwise. However, as I noted in an earlier post, once the race has started, you actually want to switch to hot or ambient temperature drinks to allow for maximal dispersal of heat storage. So, cold drinks before the race, then hot or ambient temperature drinks during the race.

The second study looks at the consumption of beetroot and running performance. The reason the authors did this study was because it is a known scientific fact that consumption of nitrates can improve running and endurance performance, but only when the nitrates are consumed in their natural form from vegetables. Nitrates found in other products, such as meats or as a supplement, can actually be dangerous to one's health. So, the authors wanted to know if eating beetroot, which is full of nitrates, would improve running performance. They found that it did, but a striking 5% in terms of running velocity, as well as in perceived exertion. This could be quite an advantage, not only in shorter races between 5K and 10K, but also for longer ultras or trail races where perceived exertion can play an important role in one's performance. Now, just to find some beetroot... or alternatively, to make sure you get enough veggies in your diet to maximize your intake of natural nitrates.

The third study, which is really interesting, examined running economy and maximal oxygen consumption after a 4 week trial of oral echinacea supplementation. Yep, echinacea, that flower found all over Colorado in people's yards and used as a natural immune booster. Here though the results are very interesting, as the authors found that after just 4 weeks of taking echinacea running economy significantly improved! Likewise, they also found that for those runners taking echinacea, their VO2max and EPO (erythropoietin) also improved! So, not only did runners improve their running economy, but their red blood cell numbers went up as a result of increased EPO, and their ability to take in more oxygen also improved because their VO2max increased. For trail runners, ultra runners, or even shorter distance runners, this study might be of great interest. EPO and VO2max are critical when it comes to running, and the greater one's VO2max and EPO, the better their ability to run faster, harder, and farther. Now, the study didn't look at whether these levels were sustained in the runners after the study period, but taking echinacea for the 4 weeks prior to a race may be an idea to gain a little (legal) advantage. Besides, it will also help keep you healthy prior to the race as well!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Watch the 2012 Olympic Track and Field Trials

Watch the 2012 Olympic Track and Field Trials

Not much going on. Fires continue to burn across the state, with haze found almost all around. I'm tapering for this weekends race, so its only small 10k outings. However, the 2012 US Olympic track and field trials are taking place, and since I don't have an expensive cable package, I have to watch them online. Turns out this is great, and a welcome thing to do with a beer on a hot evening. Here is the link to all of the events.

On another note, another new study has been published looking at the acute effect of running on knee articular cartilage and meniscus magnetic resonance relaxation times. Looks like there is an alteration in water content and collagen fiber orientation of the articular cartilage. Likewise, after 30 minutes of running the authors found greater changes in relaxation times of the medial compartment and patellofemoral joint cartilage, which indicates greater load sharing by these areas during running.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Not Allowed to Upgrade, Sourdough, Barefoot Running, and Carbohydrate Drinks

Not Allowed to Upgrade, Sourdough, Barefoot Running, and Carbohydrate Drinks

We drove down to the front range the other day to try and fix my car. However, I found out that there was some rust, so I could not get a new windshield. As a result, I was not allowed to upgrade and saved over $250 dollars (plus now with the rust, I'm looking at a lot more as I have to take it to a body shop first before anyone will install a new windshield. That and the cost of new tires, etc., I think it is time to find a new beater car). As we were down in Boulder, we got in a good ~10K run in the heat, which was great practice. I did an old loop that I used to do after work (South Boulder Creek, Mesa, Shadow, Mesa, Upper and then Lower Big Bluestem). It was good to run this loop again, as it allowed me to get a little gauge on my fitness and do a run in the heat. I ran it in 43:23 which was better then I used to do.

After, we camped up at the Sourdough trail and ran that the next day. The Sourdough is pretty easy, as it is more rolling then climbing, but still a nice run with lots of shade between 9,000' to 10,000'. I ran it in the morning and didn't see any bikers or runners. It is about ~12.5 miles from Rainbow Lakes to Brainard and back (you can extend it to Beaver Reservoir and beyond if you want), and it took me 2 hours and 4 minutes. I was trying out my new Brooks as adidas decided to discontinue my shoes and I had to find a new pair. The Brooks Adrenaline ASR 9 seems to be a good shoe. Lighter and with a slightly wider and less-reinforced toe area then the adidas Supernovas, the Brooks felt light and fast. They also seem to have a slightly smaller heel, which allows the foot to strike more evenly; closer almost to a flat or front foot strike. We will see how they hold up.
Elevation profile for the Sourdough trail

Speaking of barefoot running, a new study just published indicates that although the research is still nascent, barefoot running (or the style of forefoot/front foot running versus the heel strike style) reduces ground reaction forces, ground contact time, and step length.This is in line with a higher cadence where your steps are smaller but you have a quicker turnover, as well as keeping your center of gravity more directly underneath you then with the classic heel strike pattern that has greater step distance, but also higher ground reaction forces. The authors do indicate that in terms of injuries, the jury is still out between barefoot running and classical running.

A second study just published deals with sports drinks (Heed, AlciMate, Gatorade, etc.) and bone resorption in endurance runners. The authors of this study looked at how well endurance runners recovered after an overload training program. Using a control group (water only) and a test group (carbohydrate drink), the authors found that those drinking the carbohydrate drink during and after the training period may result in less bone resorption, providing better recovery during intensive training. This is already fairly well known, and I'm sure some makers of sports drinks will use this information to their advantage, but for us runners, it continues to show the importance of proper fueling and fluid intake before, during, and after races and training. So, not only is it important to drink sports drinks of some kind during a race or training run for the simple fuel, electrolyte, and energy aspects, but also after to continue to allow the body to efficiently flush the blood and increase the turnover rate of bone and cartilage in the affected parts of the skeleton after races and runs. They don't give any indication of how much sports drink a runner needs, just that they consume some form of carbohydrate drink during and after.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Compression Tights and Natural versus Commercial Carbohydrates

Compression Tights and Natural versus Commercial Carbohydrates

Two new studies of note.

First is a new study on the use of compression tights versus regular running shorts. I've never used compression tights, let alone compression anything, but I see people wearing the socks and tights in races, so there might be something to them. As a new study seems to indicate, there is. Entitled The Effect of Graduated Compression Tights, Compared to Running Shorts, on Counter Movement Jump Performance Before and After Submaximal Running the study looked at jump performance in runners after a period of running. They found a significant difference in jump height in those wearing compression tights versus those just wearing running shorts after the period of running. They also found that those wearing the compression tights perceived a lower level of exertion in the jump exercise then those with just running shorts on. Now, jumping does not have a ton to do with running, especially ultra or trail running. However, I can think of a couple examples where this might play into ultras or trail running. First, if a run/race has a lot of steeps, wearing compression tights might help. Likewise, if the race is close at the finish, having more energy in the legs (or perceived energy), could be of benefit, especially if you have to do any kind of "sprint" at the end. So there may be something to wearing compression tights versus the standard running shorts. If you watch any of the fast races in track and field, all of the athletes wear compression tights. Perhaps as more studies come out indicating their benefits over the usual running shorts, they will start to become more regular on the trails and in longer races.

The other study of interest is one entitled Natural versus Commercial Carbohydrate Supplementation and Endurance Running Performance. As the title suggests, the authors looked at the differences between natural carbohydrates (in this case raisins) versus commercial carbohydrates (sport chews) in athletes during endurance running. They found that there was no significant difference. As the authors conclude: "Raisins and chews promoted higher carbohydrate oxidation and improved running performance compared to water only. Running performance was similar between the raisins and chews, with no significant GI differences." This is good to know. Many runners tend to either eat only real food or  rely 100% on goos and sports bars/chews. It is good to know that rather then the specific type of carbohydrate you ingest (both of these are high glycemic carbos so they digest very fast), the important point is to ingest carbohydrates regularly when doing long runs. I tend to switch between pure sport chew/goo and "real" oat bars on my longer trail runs, and that seems to work for me (plus plenty of water). What works for you might be different, but at least you don't have to worry that someone popping sports chews and goos every 30 minutes will have any advantage. Not as long as you do the same with your carbos. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Byers Peak - Full

Byers - Full

This morning I ran the full version of Byers Peak (12,804). Byers is the dominate peak in the valley, and I love running this peak. However, this time I did the "full" version, in that I started and ended at Creekside, which adds a significant amount of miles and vert to the peak. I ran up Creekside, then jumped over to Deadhorse and up the secret trail to the Byers trail, and from there up the standard north ridge. Once on top, I got to enjoy another solo summit in the Byers Peak Wilderness (combined with the Vasquez Wilderness and the Williams Fork Wilderness, this is a vast area that sees little in the way of people). Then it was time to head down and make my way all the way back to Creekside. I wanted to get in a semi-long day as the North Fork 50K is in a week and a half, and I am still working on my fueling after my disaster bonk at the Sage Burner. I tried to eat every 30 minutes or so, and that seemed to work. It was really hot, and although I had two hand-helds and a hip belt with 20 ounces, I drank all of it and sure could have enjoyed some more. The full version of Byers Peak is 20.9 miles with 5,159 feet of climbing. It took me 3:48 today, and I did take a few pictures and do several hat dips in the streams.

A nice elevation profile
The ptarmigan just hung out on the rock as I went by...

Looking south at Summit County and beyond....

Looking northwest towards Steamboat...

The fun Byers Ridge part of the run...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bottle Peak - Another Day, Another Run

I seem to be addicted to running Bottle Peak these days. Today I ran it again from the Fraser research station up the secret trail and then up the regular route. This is the 3rd time I've run Bottle Peak since last week. As today is Sunday, I did this run instead of a couple other options because I knew I would not see anyone, and I didn't (except on the way down some people at the Byers trailhead). The top was really windy, and I had to hike the last bit above treeline with my head into the constant 20-30 mile wind. Still, after yesterday's 10K race, the run was great and my legs felt pretty good. It took me 2:21 today, with some stops for pictures.
 The opening trail section - hidden in the woods
 Blurry flowers in bloom
 Bottle Peak trail...

 Looking across the Valley to Longs, RMNP, and on the right, the Arapahoes and Indian Peaks
Super windy today!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Habitat 10K and Live High Train Low Study

Habitat 10K and Live High-Train Low Study

Today was the Habitat 10K run up here in Winter Park. I've never done the run, let alone this distance (this is my 3rd race so far), but do have a fun loop of Creekside to Flume with a tag of Fools Creek that is around 7.2 miles. On these shorter races I figure there is always going to be a couple speedsters that will just take off and blow away the rest of us. No different here, except that I turned out to be one of the speedsters. The morning was hot with no shade, and the race got started at 9:00 in a very casual manner. This is a fundraiser, so it is very casual and quite fun. A group of us took off from the start and kept together for the first 3 miles, at which point I was in 4th with one guy out front and two others next to me. At the turn around I pulled away from the other two runners and kept my pace going the rest of the way. I never looked back, but could hear there were others behind me (no idea how many or how far), so I was motivated to keep pushing. I focused on my cadence and leg speed, noticing that if I tried to open up my stride (thinking I would push a little harder to get some distance), I would actually slow down. So I worked on much quicker strides that almost felt closer to a very fast shuffle then big strides in a run. This worked, and I was able to stay in second for the finish in 41:39. I have no idea if that is a good time for this distance, but I figure it is decent for a race at 9,000 feet. I'm excited to start feeling more confident during a race, which is obviously helping. That, and getting my fuel and drinking down is also helping. Now back to some longer distances before the North Fork 50K in two weeks.

In other news, a new study just published looks at the Live High-Train Low idea that has been around for at least 20 years or so. The general idea is that if you live high your body must adapt to be able to process oxygen better (as well as increase efficiencies in lactate thresholds, VO2Max, and blood/oxygen flows, among other things). Then, when you train at a low altitude, your body is more efficient and with the extra oxygen you are able to train harder then if you were at altitude. Well, this new study says that idea holds no scientific merit. At least not if you only do it for four weeks. They found that there was no noticeable muscular or systemic capacity for maintaining pH and K+ balance in athletes that spent four weeks Living High and Training Low. Now, this study only looks at pH and K+, and not at VO2Max, lung capacity, oxygen ratios in the blood, etc. Similarly, it was only conducted for four weeks. I personally Live High and Train High, but that changes the stresses. So, a two week crash course of Living High and Training Low may not be worth the effort. Whether spending the summer at altitude will improve your running is another question. I think it does, and by the number of runners who move up to Leadville, Silverton, or somewhere else seem to indicate, others do to. However, they are also Living High and Training High.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Resistance Sessions to Protect Skeletal Muscle From Damage

Resistance Sessions

Running, and especially endurance or long distance running, puts a lot of stress on the body. Therefore, it is always important to try and find ways to help the body either protect itself from the stresses induced in a long ultra run or day in the mountains on trails, or to find ways to help the body recover quickly and efficiently after long runs. I learned this lessons the hard way after totally failing to take in any fuel during my first race - a short 50K trail ultra. I've been working on the fuel issues, and have found some success (basically eat 100 calories every 20-30 mins). However, what else can one due to help prepare the body for such runs? A new study just published called Effects of Repeated Bouts of Squatting Exercise on Sub-Maximal Endurance Running Performance offers one idea. The idea, basic as it may seem, is to incorporate some resistance exercises into your training. You can do this via specific running exercise such as polymer jumps, lunges and squats, speed work, hill workouts, and the like. Or you can add in some cross-training or even weight training. The reason that this seems to be important, at least based on this one study, is that resistance exercise helps to protect the skeletal muscle from the detrimental effects of exercise-induced muscle damage, which in turn has a big impact on one's endurance running performance.

Basically, running in ultras or on long trail days in the mountains causes a fair amount of muscle damage (which we all know). However, as this study seems to indicate, if we want to recover faster, and not damage ourselves as much during these runs, we should incorporate some resistance exercises into our training. And not even a lot, just once a week or even once every two weeks. As the study found, one resistance exercise (squats in this case), helped to protect the skeletal muscles two weeks later from damage. Amazing! So, next time your buddy wants you to do a track day, or some hill workouts, or whatever, jump at it (literally). One session every two weeks and you will be that much more able to protect your body and recover faster after your next ultra or long run. Happy running!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Baby Nystrom

Baby Nystrom

This morning I ran the Mt. Nystrom trail up past tree line to the obvious high point (called Baby Nystrom). This is a long, mellow climb of a run that switchbacks up the slopes of Mt. Nystrom from the north. Mt. Nystrom is a rarely visited peak, and coming from the north side you can expect to see zero people (Mt. Nystrom is more often climbed from the Jones Pass side or even St. Louis Pass). There is a ton of high country up here, with several possible long loop runs (you can get in over 20+ miles all above tree line). I finally got my hip belt so was able to take some pictures, but obviously I need to work on that as most of the ones I took of flowers turned out all blurry. Either way, I felt good, working on continually drinking and eating to stay hydrated and fueled. Seemed to work well, as I got back to the car and still felt fairly fresh, especially after yesterday's run. This run involves 2,872 feet of climbing, 2,872 of descending and 14.1 miles round trip. I did it today in 2:42.
 As you can see by the sign, you can connect this to Winter Park (18+ miles above treeline!) or go over to St. Louis Pass and beyond.

 Vasquez Peak is the high one on the skyline...

 Looking down into the valley and the trail...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Update and Some New Studies - Toe Force and Ankle Flex

Update and Some New Studies

Quick update on the training and running. After doing St. Louis Peak, I did my "fast" loop to continue to work on form and foot placement. It went well, but it was harder to run continuously at a steady state on the fronts of the feet when tired. I kept finding myself wanting to open up my stride a bit (instead of the quicker turnover associated with frontal running), as it felt more relaxing in my slightly tired state. However, when I do that I notice instantly how I would slow down just a touch and begin to slightly strike the heel. The subtle difference between the two is really noticeable on flatter terrain over longer distances. On hills, I always land on the fronts and use a quicker cadence. Its the flats and downhills where I need to learn to make up time.

After a day off, I ran Bottle Peak again this morning. I really love this run, as it involves a nice opening trail and some fun climbing at the end. I felt pretty good, although I attribute eating out for lunch yesterday (sadly, a burger and fries) resulting in my slightly un-energized speed. It took me 2:16 today.

Speaking of running form, a new study published called The Potential of Human Toe Flexor Muscles to Produce Force is interesting, especially if you are into the barefoot running or even the more frontal running style (as opposed to the heel-toe style). The study looked at what point does the long and short toe flexor muscles produce force in relation to ankle flex. The long and short toe flexor muscles are the ones that help "push" off around the big toe and area. The researchers wanted to know at what point during a foot strike were these muscles producing the most force, i.e., when did they give you the biggest push/benefit. They found that the biggest push/benefit from your toes comes when your ankle is at 0-10 degrees dorsally flexed. What this means is that if you are running with more of a frontal strike pattern, then your toes will help contribute to your push off (and thus momentum) almost at the exact moment when you strike (when you ankle is flexed 0-10 degrees and your foot is on its upward journey), while if you are more of a heel-toe striker, you will not get quite as much benefit from your toes pushing off, primarily because your ankle will be already flexed beyond 0-10 degrees dorsally. This under utilization of your toe force will increase the wider your stride is because it will change the angle of your ankle flex. So, what this means in layman's terms is that you want to try and have a slightly smaller stride (and most likely higher cadence) so that when you push off you do so with a minimal bend at the ankle. If you land flat or slightly on your fronts, and immediately begin to push off, you will have the most force to propel you forward. If you open up your stride, that force will decrease (at least in the toes, it may increase in terms of other muscle force expenditures) because your ankle will be at a slightly greater angle.

This is something to think about, especially on longer trail runs or during ultras. To keep up a good pace, it seems you want to have a higher cadence with a more flat or frontal foot strike to help keep the forces you are generating in pushing you forward. If you have greater ankle flex, then you will not be using your maximum force, which over time could result in some serious time or distance variances. I'm not an advocate for the barefoot thing, but I think that working on one's form is essential in improving one's running. So, next time you are out, pay attention to how you are landing, at which point you "push" off, and if you can tweak that a bit. It might improve your time by just enough to make a difference.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

St. Louis Peak and Drinking Hot Liquids

St. Louis Peak

Ran St. Louis Peak this morning. St. Louis Peak is a nice 12,241 foot high peak behind Byers at the head of St. Louis Creek. There is rarely any people on the peak, and with the possibility of hooking St. Louis up with either Byers or Nystrom to form some really nice alpine loops, this is an excellent run. I want to park at the Deadhorse trailhead and make a loop out of St. Louis Peak, Bills Peak, Byers, and Bottle. Hopefully next week, as I've been waiting on a hip-belt from Ultimate Direction now for a little while. As it is, no pictures, but here are some of the run to St. Louis Lake, which is the same run except for the last 1.5 miles. The St. Louis Peak run is about ~13+ miles with 3,612 feet of elevation gain, and another 3,612 of loss. It took me 2:27 today at a casual pace.

On another note, a recent study has been published looking at body heat storage and consumption of either hot or cold water. This is particularly important for trail runners or endurance athletes. The study looked at how well a body got rid of heat (heat storage) during physical activity after consuming either hot liquids or cool liquids. They found that the body got rid of heat better after drinking the hot liquids, primarily due to thermosensors in the esophagus/stomach. So, for trail runners or endurance athletes, this means that drinking air temperature liquids during a race or training is actually better then drinking iced drinks. We all know that when we are running, nothing tastes better then an ice cold drink, but as this study seems to indicate, that might not be the best in terms of actually cooling the body down. Instead, we should be drinking air temperature liquids (or even slightly warmer) so that they will trigger our thermosensors to release heat from the body (via sweating), allowing us to stay cooler longer. This can prove to be critical during a race, especially if it is hot out. Something to take note of. Here is the link to the study, called Body Heat Storage During Physical Activity Is Lower with Hot Fluid Ingestion under Conditions that Permit Full Evaporation.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lower High Lonesome

Lower High Lonesome

Ran the quiet, rolling lower High Lonesome today from Meadow Creek reservoir to the Devil's Thumb trailhead and back. This is really a very nice run, with some gentle hills and about 7 miles of perfect singletrack. The section near Meadow Creek reservoir goes through some beautiful mountain "parks" or meadows, and enters thick forest with sporadic crossings of smaller meadows. Here are some photos of the run from two falls ago. The out-and-back is 14.1 miles with 1,813 up and 1,813 down. It took me 2:21 today at a casual/recovery pace.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bottle Peak

Bottle Peak

Ran Bottle Peak today from the Fraser Experimental Forest research facility. The run felt really good. Worked on my form the entire time, trying to stay on the fronts of my feet more for both the climbs and descents. Seemed like this helped keep me on a better pace. I tend to sit back a bit on the descents and wander off in my mind, which usually slows me down a bit. I'm trying to take what I learned in the last two races and start to apply it to my training. Therefore, I tried to keep my momentum up on the descent as I would in a race more. I didn't go at race pace, but still want to incorporate some of the lessons learned. Beautiful day, no wind, no people, nothing. Love these kinds of runs - just you and the mountain. I did it in 2:08 today, with ~11.8 miles and 2,978 up and 2,978 down. Here are some photos of a run up Bottle and Ptarmigan Peaks from last year.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Recovery Run

Recovery Run

Just getting back at running now after two days of rest. Back to back races was a little hard, especially since I had never raced before and the extra effort expended during races adds to the need for smart recoveries. Just did a quick ~7.5 miles on relatively flat trails (Creekside, Flume, Leland) in 1:03. Tried to work on faster turnover, more running on the fronts of the feet, and sustained stamina (ironically, an interesting article on stamina training was just posted). Felt good on the run, and was able to keep the pace fairly well. Running on the front of your feet (rather than a full heel-toe strike) forces you to lean slightly forward, which helps to keep a good pace. Something to work on and think about. I do like the sustained effort, as that is something you encounter in a race, yet rarely force yourself to do if you are just trail running for fun.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Balarat 21K - Second Race

Balarat 21K

After four days of semi-rest from the Sage Burner 50K, we did the Balarat 21K out of Jamestown. We knew we were not going to post any amazing times, as both of us were still in recovery from our massive bonk at the 50K on Monday. However, we need race experience (this was our second race ever). There are so many aspects to racing as opposed to just trail running that if we want to even have a decent time at any upcoming races, we needed to get some more experience in.

The Balarat 21K was pretty fun. Some decent ups and downs, on some nice trails (much more "technical" then the Sage Burner - roots, rocks, grass, etc.). The race was basically a figure eight, with several well stocked aid stations (Power Bar was a sponsor, so they had random power-stuff at the aid stations). At the start, I went out much better with the shot of the gun then on Monday, but I almost instantly noticed that I was tired and hot (despite training at elevation, I noticed slightly heavy legs, quick heartrate, and labored breathing) on the first climb. Obviously I was not recovered. After that, I was able to get into a better groove, but could not push on any of the hills. My fueling was much better, and my start from the gun was good so that I was positioned in a good place once we hit the single track. I did the 21K in 2.07:45. Not good, but not bad considering. More lessons were learned, and slowly I am getting the whole race idea figured out. Looking forward to the next one!