Monday, November 24, 2014

More Mt. Morrison, New Trail Guidebook, 10K Race, Grays Peak, Cerebral Oxygenation Among Kenyans

More Mt. Morrison, New Trail Guidebook, 10K Race, Grays Peak, Cerebral Oxygenation Among Kenyans

One week ago, on Saturday, William and I had planned on doing a big day of laps on Mt. Morrison, going for twelve hours if possible. Sadly, mother nature had a different idea for us that day. We started at 6am and made it to the top of the first lap for a beautiful sunrise. However, starting on our second lap the storm that was supposed to roll in that evening arrived early. We were in good spirits and challenged mother nature to bring on the snow and cold. On the third lap, it started to really blizzard and the trail in sections started to get really slick (the rock section at the top and the initial .5 miles that is pretty steep and loose). We continued on our way, but as conditions continued to deteriorate and the trail became less and less manageable, we thought it best to save ourselves from a possible ankle-twisting slip and call it a day after four laps. Still a great time, and given the conditions, not bad: ~16 miles and ~8,000' of gain.

 Looking west from the summit at sunrise
 Above the storm clouds at sunrise looking east
The summit on lap three, storm raging below

Over the past year+ I've been hard at work on a new guidebook to trail running along Colorado's Front Range. Well, on Monday I finally received two advanced copies of the book. Published by CMC Press, I'm really happy with how it turned out. It was a ton of work, running all of the trails (many multiple times), taking hundreds of photos (over 150 in all), checking and re-checking stats, information, etc. I was pretty burned out on it and kinda not into it by the end, but now that it is done and in print, I'm really excited. I also had a lot of great help from fellow runners, who contributed nice bits throughout the book to help break it up. I'm really thankful for their generosity and for CMC Press for publishing it. Copies should be hitting stores in a couple weeks.

On Saturday, I ran a fast road 10K. Having never run a road race of this kind, and coming off a summer of mountain slogging, I wasn't really too sure what to expect. I had a vague idea of trying to beat :40 minutes, but I really had no idea if that was possible for me. The course consisted of 800' of climbing, with the first 3/4 mile following a gently uphill dirt service road before hopping onto a bike path and rolling along around the Arvada Reservoir. About 2.5 miles in a solid 500' climb went up onto the mesa behind the reservoir before turning east. I went out right behind the lead pack, figuring I'd just try and redline it from the gun, holding a bit back for the end. I felt pretty good once I got off the dirt road and started to get into a groove, and then caught a few guys on the climb as that is my strength. Up on the mesa, I was able to pull in two other guys before having to battle a fairly decent headwind for about two miles. The lead pack was up ahead, and it was just me and some dude in Newtons fighting it out - no idea on position, but just pushing each other. I took over the lead and responsibility of breaking the wind at mile 4, and then tried to make a little break at mile 4.5 at the start of the final climb of 200' or so. I was maybe twenty yards ahead, but the wind and effort started to get to me, and Newtons started to pull me back in. He caught back up and then drafted for a bit, at which point there was a final climb up and then a rolling section to the finish line. He made a move on the final couple meters of the climb, and then very subtly pushed a bit harder. I had nothing to respond with, and just tried to hold on as best I could. I crossed the line in :41:51, which was good enough for 9th place overall, 3rd in my age group. I was pretty pleased, since I had no idea what to expect given the distance and racing against some fast roadies.

Making my move with Newtons on my tail

New article on how some Kenyans are able to maintain cerebral oxygenation during maximal self-paced efforts. Interesting stuff, although as Dr. Samuele Marcora noted, we don't have any data from others to compare this to.

Nice video of Jennilyn Eaton and Craig Lloyd's new Zion Double Crossing FKT.

After sleeping in and not wanting to do anything as it seemed windy outside, Tara and I finally rallied and we went up to Bakerville to give a go at Grays and Torreys today. I have not been back since completing my challenge, and with the howling wind and blizzard like conditions, I instantly got PTSD. "Running" up the snow covered road, I kept thinking how I had run this damn thing every week all last winter. This sucked - it was cold (around 6 degrees), windy, snowing, and I could be down on the Front Range running on some nice dry trails. However, pretty soon I had reached the summer trailhead, my PTSD had mostly vanished, and I was ready to put on my final layers to try and push through the brunt of the storm above the willows and into the open tundra. Climbing 14ers in the winter is great if you can deal with the cold and snow, as there was no one else in the entire basin. Once again I got into my power hike and just put my head down and broke trail. Conditions never got better and after passing the Big Sign and the Kelso ridge turnoff, it got really cold and windy. My jacket started to freeze into a single frozen icicle and I started to get a blistering headache from the pure, cold wind. Needless to say, after tagging Gray's summit, I elected to get the hell out of there before I completely froze, not tagging Torrey's summit.

 Lovely conditions up there

 It's only 4,700' down and about 7 miles to get to the car...

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.