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 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.