Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Grin and Bear It Trail Race

This Saturday, my wife and I ran the Grin and Bear It trail race up in Crested Butte. It was a fun little race, in a beautiful area, with a great vibe. The race started in town and worked its way up about 1700 ft. over 4.65 miles to Green Lake, which was super beautiful. Then you ran back down the hill back into town for a total of 9.3 miles. The course was mostly on singletrack, with a little rocky stuff up top, but mostly runnable.

The short story is that I got 10th.

Longer version is that I was in 3rd at the turnaround, but they had a special prim available to the first runner who was willing to jump into middle of the lake to get it. So of course that’s what I did. Only problem was that I didn’t take off my shoes, the lake was really cold, and it’s really hard to swim in mountain lakes when you’re exhausted, out of breath, and wearing shoes. It was a decision I immediately regretted, but once I had gone in, I figured I had to get it. Better to be the idiot who jumped in the lake to get the prim than the idiot who jumped in the lake but didn't even get the prim. Either way, the little excursion easily added an extra five minutes to my time, and totally zapped me of any energy to compete.

When I was out of the lake, I was in 8th, instead of 3rd. And I wasn’t really in the mood to bomb back down the hill. The swim made me appreciate the challenge of triathlon transitions. Three more people passed me in the first mile or so down, as I was barely shuffling at first. I got my running legs back a couple of miles down the hill and caught one guy who had passed me, but I suck at even moderately techie descents and that was all I could muster. 

Anyway, all told the race was encouraging from a fitness perspective and good fun. I got a $50 gift certificate and a six-pack of Eddyline for my swimming excursion. Since the race entry fee was only $30, and there were plenty of delicious burritos and Eddyline tallboys available at the finish, I’d say, in poker parlance, that I ended the day a little ahead.

Wife had a good day, too. Finished slightly ahead of mid-pack, which ain't bad considering she only averages 10-20 miles a week. 

I suspect I’ll be back. Other than two 5ks I ran a few years ago, I hadn’t run a race shorter than 25 miles since college. But I enjoyed the more middling distance—it was a good test without totally killing the whole day and wiping me out for weeks. Feels more my speed these days. 

Next up is the Aspen Backcountry Marathon August 12th. Still nursing a little tendonitis, so I'll have to be cautious in training, but hopefully I can have a better day than what I pulled together at the Run Through Time.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Rito Alto Four Pass Loop?

Sending out a general invite to see if anyone wanted to join me for a long day in the Sangre de Cristos on July 22nd. Thinking of doing the Rito Alto Four Pass Loop, which I had never heard of until recently but it looks amazing, from the few reports I've seen.

Link here:

I live just off the Rainbow Trail, so I don't think the trailhead is super far from my house (an hourish, I suspect).

Anyway, shoot me a comment or an email at Kieran.McCarthy@gmail.com if you're interested.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Update and a Return to Racing

We just reached the six-month anniversary of our move to Salida, and life is good. We’ve settled into the community, we’re doing well professionally, and we’re enjoying the small-town vibe. The more time we spend here, the more I realize I wasn’t cut out to live in the city. The small town life suits me.

The move has definitely had a positive impact on my running. A year ago this time, I was averaging 20-30 miles a week mostly trotting around Wash Park, with an average of 4-5 hours of total running a week. Right now I’m almost through with a three-week training block with an average of over 60 miles a week, with more than 10 hours a week of running, and an average of about 8,000 ft. a week of elevation gain.

Easily more than double what I was doing a year ago.

There are just so many great places to run around here in summer, it’s made me giddy. Forgive me if this is obnoxious, but within 30 minutes of my house, there’s the Bear Creek trail, Pass Creek trail, Green Creek trail, Browns Creek trail, Fooses Creek trail, Monarch Crest Trail, Turret Trail, Boss Lake, Hunt Lake, Waterdog Lake, Stout Lake, the Methodist Mountain Trail System, the Arkansas Hill Trail System, thirty miles of the Rainbow Trail, fifty miles of the Colorado Trail, and twenty miles of the Continental Divide Trail.

It’s trail-running heaven. I still feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface.

Anyway, I’m running a lot more than I was before. And with all that running, I figured I’d sign up for a few races this summer: The Grin and Bear It 9 mile out in Crested Butte next Saturday, the Aspen Backcountry Marathon in August, and Imogene Pass in September. There’s an off chance I might also do the Creede Mountain Run on Labor Day weekend, but I’m playing that one by ear, as it's the week before Imogene. They all seem like fun, relatively inexpensive sub-ultra trail races within a couple of hours of where I live. That’s what appeals to me in races now.

I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since Leadville 2012. It's all relative, of course. I joined the Chaffee County Running Club for a July 4th run on the Continental Divide, and three college kids, including local phenom Taylor Stack, dropped me in the first 200 yards. Oh well, at least I was able to keep up with Taylor's mom (not as easy it sounds). Either way, I’ve managed to ramp up the mileage and intensity without serious injury. (Knock on wood—I’ve got a little tendonitis in my left Achilles but I think it’s manageable).

But thinking you’re fit and showing it on race day are two separate things.
I know this because I ran Salida Run Through Time Marathon in March and I stunk up the joint, running more than a half an hour slower than I had hoped. I won’t go into too much detail other than to say I probably should have run the half marathon that day. I wasn’t in trail marathon shape, and it showed in my performance. 

I’m certain I’m more fit now than I was then. But there's a chance my own estimation of my fitness is still higher than my actual fitness. But I guess that’s the point of racing in the first place. To put yourself out there and test it for all to see.

I turn 40 this fall, and so this is a bit of prelude to what I see as a ramp up of fitness going into soon-to-be masters racing. The last time I was anything resembling a competitive runner was as a teenager. There’s some appeal to seeing if I might be able to pull off something similar on the other end of the age spectrum. There’s a satisfaction knowing that I was once very fit, that I lost fitness completely, and that now I’m starting to get some of it back. Exactly how much of that youthful vigor I can recover is yet to be seen. This isn’t the first time I’ve discussed lofty ambitions of getting fast on this blog—every previous time I was pissing in the wind.


All that’s to say it’s easier said than done. But I’m excited about the challenge and to have something to push for.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Calling Out Nike’s BS Lack of Response to Oregon Project Doping Allegations

It’s been more than two years since the BBC came out with a report accusing Alberto Salazar of systematically abusing prescription medications and supplements to enhance performance. The report featured detailed stories of former athletes and coaches, including Steve Magness and Kara Goucher, who claimed that Salazar was constantly seeking an edge with supplements, pushing the boundaries of what clean sport allows. They claimed that Salazar used medical doctors for performance enhancement, not to address health issues. Since that time, the allegations just keep getting worse and more detailed

How has Nike responded to all this?


As an attorney, I strongly believe in the due process of law. No athlete or coach should be publicly accused without an appropriate process to respond.

But at this stage the weight of allegations is just too much for Nike to keep ignoring this or pretending it’s not happening. We’re past the point where Nike and Salazar can keep sending out milquetoast press releases and maintain their credibility. Salazar’s manipulation of medications is the biggest open joke in the running community, but Nike keeps pretending it's a non-issue.

This isn’t a Duke Lacrosse situation, where three athletes were publicly defamed because of the false accusations of one deeply troubled and unreliable witness.

Right now, there have been allegedly 17 former Oregon project athletes and staff who have accused Salazar of inappropriate behavior. Last week, Propublica published a report alleging that Oregon Project medical records may have been altered. Two days ago, the New York Times reported that the main Oregon Project doctor has received formal notice of allegations of anti-doping violations.

And still from Nike we hear nothing.

The longer this goes on, the worse this will be for Nike. If the allegations against Doctor Brown and Salazar are true, then Nike’s highest profile running program may have engaged in a conspiracy to commit and hide doping violations. But even if that isn’t true, at best, it would appear that the Oregon Project systematically engaged in borderline unethical behavior with respect to medications and supplements.

The one real allegation that Rupp and others violated anti-doping rules is telling in this regard. According to the leaked USADA report:
Galen Rupp’s lawyer handed over a worksheet from the pharmacy that prepared Rupp’s IV that the lawyer may have not understood. USADA thinks he thought it vindicated Rupp as he thought it referred to a “45 ml injectable” when in reality it referred to “four (4) 100ml IV infusion bags” each “containg a concentration of 9.67 grams of L-carnitine per 45 milliliters.” They also have evidence that Dr. Brown altered medical records or intentionally withheld information unlawfully to cover his ground and make it seem as if the amount of the infusion was legal. Rupp’s lawyer handed over a worksheet from the pharmacy that prepared Rupp’s IV that the lawyer may have not understood. USADA thinks he thought it vindicated Rupp as he thought it referred to a “45 ml injectable” when in reality it referred to “four (4) 100ml IV infusion bags” each “containg a concentration of 9.67 grams of L-carnitine per 45 milliliters.” They also have evidence that Dr. Brown altered medical records or intentionally withheld information unlawfully to cover his ground and make it seem as if the amount of the infusion was legal.
When you consistently push the absolute limits of what is legally allowed, even if you do not intentionally violate the rules, you make it much more likely that you will unintentionally violate the rules. Perhaps that's what happened here. And if so, it has the potential to cast a shadow over the entire extraordinary career of perhaps the greatest American distance runner of all time.

This is not just about whether Salazar technically violated WADA rules—even as evidence is mounting that he may have done so. Nike needs to address the way the program dealt with supplements generally, even if it is true, as they claim, that no rules were ever violated.

Here’s what Nike needs to do:
  • It needs to suspend Alberto Salazar and Dr. Jeffrey Brown, effective immediately, pending the results of the USADA investigation.
  • It needs to hire an independent, third-party law firm to systematically review the way the company’s athletic programs handled supplements and prescriptions, to determine who knew what when, whether any abuses took place, and who is responsible. If they find fault, the company needs to create a series of recommendations to improve processes so this does not happen again.
Until Nike addresses this issue head on, all Oregon Project running performances will be under suspicion. Right now, the Oregon Project is synonymous with bending the rules and doping abuse. To the extent that there might be clean athletes in the program, this is not fair to them. To the extent that they aren’t clean, it isn’t fair to rest of the world.  


Either way, it’s past the point where Nike can pretend it’s not an issue. The longer Nike plays pretend, the more it starts to make sense to point fingers at not just Salazar or Brown, but at Nike on the whole, CEO Mark Parker, and the Company’s Board of Directors.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Weird fruitarian ultrarunner guy in the news


Well, I think he's in the news again. But not for his diet or ultrarunning.

I was reading a legal blog called the Volokh Conspiracy, and there was a story about a New York businessman being prosecuted for allegedly falsifying judicial orders. The businessman's name was Michael Arnstein. I went to the website for the business in question, and yeah, I'm pretty sure it's him.

According to Volokh Conspiracy:
Michael Arnstein runs the Natural Sapphire Company. Upset at some allegedly libelous criticisms of his company, he filed a lawsuit and got a court order requiring a defendant to take down those criticisms. He then sent the order to Google, asking Google to deindex those URLs — to hide them from Google search results (as Google often does when it sees such a court order).
And then Arnstein submitted 11 other orders to Google, each mentioning a new allegedly libelous URL (or list of URLs), each in the same case, and each with a different order date. Unfortunately, they weren’t really orders — they were apparently forgeries, copying the caption to the case and the judge’s signature. (1234567891011.) Google did indeed apparently deindex some material, relying on some of these orders.
Not good.

I don't practice criminal law. But I've actually stumbled upon this phenomenon before. Forging a judicial order is a great way to get someone to do what you want. But when you get caught, well, let's just say that judges don't tend to be too lenient with people who fake legal orders for profit.

If true, this dude's in a lot of trouble.

Might be a challenge to keep up that whole fruitarian diet in prison.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Salida

Two weeks ago my wife and I moved to Salida.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to live in the mountains. Now we do. It’s totally surreal.

I know that I’m biased, but I think this is about the coolest little town on earth. The vibe is great. Tons of culture for a town this small – plenty of places to eat and socialize. Still in the baby stages of developing a social circle, but everyone we’ve met has been warm and welcoming. It’s exceeded all expectations.

Salida’s a crazy fun place to be a trail runner. There’s a link to BLM land that connects from my house to the Little Rainbow trail, which connects to a bunch of other trails, which then connects to both the Arkansas Hill Trails across Highway 50, or, if you want to get really ambitious, to the Rainbow Trail, which can take you all the way to Westcliffe to the East or to the Monarch Crest Trail to the West, the Colorado Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail, which can take you to either Mexico or Canada. Plus all 14 Sawatch 14er trailheads and 4 Sangre de Cristo 14er trailheads within an hour of my front door. 

After ten years or running circles around Wash Park, it feels like running heaven.

I like it so much I feel guilty -- just super lucky and trying to appreciate that fact. Still, there's no guarantee that my business will do well here, so I'm just trying to enjoy each day and not think too far ahead. 

This morning we joined the Chaffee County Running Club for a jog. Impressive at it sounds, it was only six of us, and that includes me and my wife. I got to run with snowshoe and burro-running legend Tom Sobol for most of it, which woke up the fanboy in me. Man, that guy has some stories to tell. Like the time when he debated signing up for Hardrock the night before the race ($70 entry fee at the time). Super humble and friendly guy. And he can definitely still run.

The move even inspired me to sign up for a couple of races -- first time I've signed up for anything longer than a 5k since 2012. I’m doing the local trail marathon in March and then I put my name into the SJS 50 lottery for June. Figure I’ll be spending plenty of time at elevation, so not a bad time to get back into it. I won’t be setting any competitive goals for either. Just looking to get back to spending a lot of time outside and up high.

With all that said, if you read this blog and you know me, shoot me a message the next time you’re down our way. One of the only downsides of being here is that we’re so far from most of the people we know. So we'd the love the company if you're ever in the area.