Friday, February 27, 2015

Updates, Grays Peak, Bouldering, Snow Running, And More

Updates, Grays Peak, Bouldering, Snow Running, And More

It's been a busy and fun month. Although I have not been able to put in the time or miles I would necessarily like, I feel like I've had a solid month and things are shaping up well for spring. I don't go into my training much here (although sometimes I think I should, simply to put it out there, maybe get some feedback, and to hold me accountable), but I am slowly and consistently working my way towards my goals for 2015: Nolans, Skyrunning series, climb V12, work on my writing, and possibly do some other stuff. Below are some highlights over the past couple weeks:

 Found this book in a used bookstore. It's great that we have freedom of speech.

 One of the many sunrises I see, as most of my runs take place early these days.

 Got out and worked on some problems up on Dinosaur Mountain during one of the "summer" spells we had this month. Lots of good stuff up there - undone lines, hard projects, and relatively few people.

 Sunrise from one of the weekly runs up Apex and Lookout Mountain.

 I was challenged to do a President's Day Bouldering Challenge by Moja Gear. The goal was to climb 43 problems V5 and under in one try, all different, all under 2 hours. I succeeded, doing it in 1:43. 43 problems is a lot, and it was a lot harder then I thought originally, but super fun to step up and try and complete. 

 Looking back at the Lookout Mountain road. I've grown to really love this run. The grade is perfect for continuous running at a hard effort. There is a nice 13 mile loop, and hammering up and then down seems to be a really solid workout. Perfect for Skyrunning type races.

 I ran up Grays Peak (14,278') the other day before this last set of storms rolled in. I was testing a pair of snowshoes for Backpacker Magazine, so it had dual purposes. At the time, the snow levels were lower then last year at the same time, but that might have changed now. My roundtrip time from Bakerville was 4:14, including some fumbling/testing of the snowshoes.

 This picture is taken about 100 yards west of where the fellow was killed in an avalanche earlier this year. It is a common slide zone, and a key part where the winter trail differs from the summer trail.

I had the honor to talk with three-time Olympian Lee Troop a couple weeks ago and write up an article on him and the Boulder Track Club. Really nice guy, and what he is doing with the BTC is pretty exciting.

A nice set of photos from the original running of Nolans 14 here.

I really love the below movie. I used to surf way back when I was a pro snowboarder, but what I like is the vibe, old-school edits, and the music. I would really dig a movie set like this, but on running.

Palmera Express from Vissla on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

2015 USA Cross Country Championships And Sourdough Snowshoe Race

2015 USA Cross Country Championships and Sourdough Snowshoe Race

I don't have a lot of wisdom concerning cross country, having never run an XC race before (but wanting to now), but I do have one thought that has been going through my mind. I had the honor of getting a press pass so that I could sit right at the finish line and take photos and notes from the runners. It was an amazing experience to be able to be right there when the elites came across the line, and then to be in the midst of the chaos as athletes collapsed to the ground, officials directed runners to certain areas, press people surrounded the winners, with people on the sidelines yelling their hearts out at teammates. Some runners came across and seemed to recover quickly, while others fell apart and had to be dragged over to the tent and in the shade. The level of effort left out on the course was inspiring. My one thought has to do with the current scientific thinking around fatigue and what I witnessed out on the course. Science has shown that we never really run out of energy, and that it is not our muscles or the actual build-up of lactate or other bi-products in the muscles that cause fatigue. Rather, the current thinking has to do with the idea of a "central governor" that controls our efforts and monitors our body. When we start to get out of homeostasis the central governor begins to shut our muscles down to preserve itself. Fatigue in this model is really a trick, a trick our brain plays on us to preserve itself. What I saw during the race is that the Juniors and some of the Elite/Open men and women seem to be able to overcome their central governor and push one level beyond. This was especially evident among the Juniors, as many of them came in to the finish line and instantly collapsed, blacking out for a brief moment, and taking some time before they were able to walk again. The Masters and many of the Elite runners did not reach this level of effort, they ran using their mind, while the Juniors, young and throwing it all out there, somehow were able to run past their mental limits and push into that zone of pure physical limits.

So, my thought, quick and unformulated as it is, is that as we become better at our sports, we develop mental attributes that allow us to be better runners - knowing how to pace, pushing through hurdles, training smarter, etc. However, this mental development also hinders us at a critical point, the point where we need to push beyond all of our known limits and find one more gear. The Juniors, still young and running on physical and emotional strengths don't have that mental limit yet - they simply have not reached it - so they go all out and simply collapse at the end. Spectacular and something to think about. How often do you really go all out? Probably not as often as you should.

Photos from the race (some more good ones on Boulder Running here).

 Kaitlyn Benner and Val Constien out front (no central governor holding them back)

 Kaitlyn Benner winning in spectacular fashion.

 About to collapse...

 The aftermath...

 Conner Mantz winning the Junior Men's race.

 Paul Roberts from Lyons showing what it takes to go to China (no central governor again).

 CU's Paul Miller pale and dazed - but going to China (no central governor)

 Women's Open at the start.

 Laura Thweatt and Sara Hall dueling it out at the start of the last lap.


 Men's Open start.

 Chris Derrick making a surge.

 Derrick making the "3-peat goggle" sign at the finish.


Does this man exist?

In other news, I ran the Sourdough 30K Snowshoe race last week. "Running" 18+ miles with snowshoes is !*$king hard! Great time, but I failed with my nutrition and lost four places within the final 2 miles. Totally my fault, and something I will focus on next time. Still, great time. Finished 9th overall in 4:16.