Monday, January 26, 2015

My Book, Red Rocks, Gavin McKenzie Interview, Science And More

My Book, Red Rocks, Gavin McKenzie Interview, Science and More

Well, my book "The Best Front Range Trail Runs" has finally hit the market, and I've noticed it at a few stores around town. Pretty excited, but I could not have done it without the support and contributions from fellow runners (and my wife). Thanks everyone! For those wanting to know what trails are covered, here is the list:
Front and center at Boulder Bookstore!

Fort Collins:
  • Greyrock Mountain
  • Lory State Park
  • Horsetooth Mountain
  • Blue Sky to Indian Summer
  • Sheep Mountain

  • Hall Ranch
  • Heil Valley Ranch
  • Boulder Valley Ranch
  • Mount Sanitas
  • Mesa Trail
  • Green Mountain
  • Bear Peak
  • South Boulder Peak
  • Bobolink and South Boulder Creek
  • Spring Brook and Goshawk
  • Marshall Mesa
  • Flatirons Vista
  • Walker Ranch
  • Eldorado Canyon
  • Skyline Traverse

  • Barry Lake
  • White Ranch
  • North Table
  • Golden Gate Canyon
  • Centennial Cone
  • Apex Park
  • Bergen Peak
  • Three Sisters
  • Green Mountain
  • Bear Creek to O'Fallon
  • Mount Falcon
  • Chatfield Reservoir
  • Cherry Creek State Park
  • Deer Creek Canyon
  • Strawberry Jack to Buck Gulch
  • Buffalo Creek
  • Carpenter Peak
  • Castlewood Canyon
  • Greenland Pairie

Colorado Springs:
  • US Air Force Academy Falcon Loop
  • Barr Trail and Pikes Peak
  • The Incline
  • Rampart Reservoir
  • Talon Loop/Cheyenne Mountain State Park

High Mountains:
  • Lumpy Ridge
  • Mount Audubon
  • High Lonesome
  • Heart Lake and James Peak
  • Ben Tyler Gulch

There are plenty of photos, maps, and other stuff, but really, the best are the stories and notes from all of the local runners who contributed. 

One of the challenges for training for something like Nolans or the high mountains is that you need to get in tons of vertical gain, while also working on nutrition, hydration, etc. The Skyline Traverse in Boulder is classic and makes sense, but since I work in Boulder, it is really hard for me to motivate to drive there on my off days. There are some really good alternatives near Denver when the snow melts, and I have been trying to hit up a few, but there are not big sections of vertical trail without doing laps. I've done the M5 challenge a couple times now, and that works great, but lately I've been looking for alternatives. Right now, one of my go-to "runs" is Red Rocks. I've come up with 4 different loops all ranging between 1 mile and 3.5 miles and 557' gain and 800' gain. Although it sounds unexciting, the time flies by and the workout of the constant up and down really gets to you. Last week I did 20 miles and 9,530' of gain, and this morning I did 19 miles and 8,720' gain. Nothing special, but solid work and only 5 minutes from my house. Plus the people watching on each lap is pretty good, so the time goes by really fast. The reason I like this is because it has the same ratio of miles/vertical gain as Nolans, which is roughly for every mile, you gain 500' repeated over 100 miles and 44,000' gain, so if nothing else the grade is roughly equivalent.

 Sunrise at Red Rocks

An alternative, and one that gets you up into the thin air, is running the Mount Evans road. The road is closed, and the first two miles are snowpacked, but most of the rest of the road is dry and windblown, so no traction or flotation is necessary. I ran the road a week ago, but didn't make the summit due to insanely high winds. Still, a killer run at altitude with no one around - the only time you will get all of the Evans massif all to yourself.

I caught up with Gavin McKenzie and did an interview with him about his 2014 season, Nolan's 14, and his upcoming plans. Great guy, humble, and a tough-ass runner.

There have been a couple other articles on this same topic, but basically, your mouth will sense when food is coming, tell your brain it is coming so don't worry, no need to bonk, even before your stomach even gets any of the calories and starts to process them. Key take away - swish your mouth with soda or carb drink at aid stations (or drink the stuff too) and get those carb receptors firing!

The above herd of elk live right by my place, and I see them all the time. However, when it is dark out, and my headlamp flashes across a hundred eyes in the dark, it still freaks me out for a second.

More articles on diet, nutrition, fats, carbs, and the whole mystery that science is beginning to unravel: here and here.

Went up to Area A and Area B at Mount Evans the other day. Long haul in on snowshoes, but for those wondering, one can climb right now as long as the wind and temps are right. I'll probably make a trip up there soon.

Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 Review, New Science Articles, Colorado Ultra Runners Of The Year

2014 Review, New Science Articles, Colorado Ultra Runners of the Year

It's already five days into 2015, and things are already heating up (literally, if you are paying attention to today's weather compared to the past two weeks). 2014 turned out to be a good year, and I was able to accomplish several of my goals: finish the G & T Challenge, run and rank in the US Skyrunning series, get back into climbing and boulder V9/10, have some adventures, and run some races. The one goal that I failed on was doing Nolans, which as I look back now, other then the logistical and planning errors, was also hampered by the G & T challenge. In fact, a lot of my other goals were slightly compromised by the challenge, simply because I never got to have a week off, a down week, or anything similar. Although such a challenge didn't wear me out, it certainly didn't keep a spring in my step or allow for proper rest and tapers. I've only been "running" for three years consistently, so I don't have the logs to compare to over the years to see just how 2014 stacked up, but here are some numbers.


Miles: 3,167.5
Vertical Gain: 713,897'
Hours: 559.92
Peaks: 184 summits, 71 14ers, 27 13ers, and a bunch of others


Miles: 2,747.23
Vertical Gain: 521,943'
Hours: 399.81


See here, no stats, but a narrative recap.

I want to say that I'm getting faster/stronger, but it is hard to tell that from the numbers. I don't have PR times at set distances to see if I have actually improved, but I want to say that the numbers support my perceived gains: in 2014 I was able to run 420.27 miles further, with 191,954' more of gain, in only 160.11 hours more time. My average miles per hour, however was slower: 5.6 in 2014 and 6.8 in 2013. Perhaps that extra 191,954' of gain explains that.

Plans for 2015 are still in the works, but they involve running the US Skyrunning Ultra series, with an aim for top 5 overall, attempting Nolans again (early summer), doing some other races, and climbing V12 if possible. I will be a master this year, so we will see if that means anything. I believe I have a good shot at the US Skyrunning series since it will be a major focus, and I won't have the G & T challenge to slow my leg speed down. As for Nolans, well, we will see, although I'm more confident then last year with more experience under my belt. Climbing V12 should be possible if everything stays on track, as I am now back to my 2011 strength, and V10s are regularly within my range. As for other races, I'm planning on the Sourdough snowshoe 30K, the Twin Mountain Trudge, and then trying to figure out a spring that will benefit an early Nolans attempt. I'm currently thinking something like 24 hours of Utah (March 21-22) for the all day effort experience, Desert Rats 25 miler (April 18), Collegiate Peaks 50 (May 2), then give it a go early June. I would prefer some more mountainous races, but there doesn't seem to be any around.

I wrote a recap of the 2014 Ultra Performances of the Year by Colorado runners for Colorado Runner Magazine. A lot of amazing races and performances last year, and I hope to keep track again and put together an even more comprehensive list next year. 

Obviously, I run a lot at sunrise, but that is a perfect time to get out and get in a solid run up the mountain. Hence, my sunrise heavy photos.

Finally, another set of very interesting and informative articles on running and endurance performance.