October 19, 2014
Gave it what I had, and that was not much.
I had not run Denver since 2009 in my epic pants-shitting Boston-qualifying effort. So I got the bug this fall to run it again mostly just to get back out there in a road marathon. Its been since 2010 since my last road marathon. That was Boston. I crossed that line sub-3 and figured I had nothing more to ever give that distance.
Now the pressure was off. I just wanted to go run. Sure, it would be swell to prove I still had it. So after Leadville 2 months ago, I jumped right into a training plan. A few days in, I tweaked my foot so bad that I couldn't run for 3 weeks. That surely screwed up this amazing plan I had. So I tried to get after it for the 3-4 weeks left but learned quickly that my ultra-legs only know how to run ultra-pace these days. Then we had the Boulder (1/2) Marathon fiasco. Eh.
So I got to Denver at about 6 AM and parked in my same old spot from years past. Donned a trash bag and headed out into the dark to find the race start. Kind of like a zombie you just follow the loud noise (music) and you will eventually arrive at the start line for the Rock and Roll Marathon that now owns this race.
The gun went off a few minutes late because of course clearing issues but no big deal. I quickly tried to see what I could pull off as a comfortable pace in those first few miles and about 8:00 was seemingly OK. We headed west out of town and uphill over to Sloan's Lake. This course was mostly all new to me. I never looked at a map either. Part of the excitement. But it sure left like we ran uphill a lot today. +537 feet on the watch.
Had a moment at around 10 miles in where my lungs started being funky. Could have used an inhaler. But got some water and took some Advil for my tightening hip and moved on. As we got back to Civic Center Park, the crowds increased. Though there were people all over this course so you were never lonely. Part of me wanted to just veer off with the half-marathoners and be done for the day. I hate these combined races. Such a mind trip the whole time -- or is that just some ultra thing?
Then we headed out to City Park. Then back. Then out to Wash Park. Then back. Kind of the usual route from yesteryear there. Somewhere around 20 miles my legs decided that was enough for the day. They were barking from the start though but now it was getting too loud to drown out. I had nothing much to prove anyways so I couldn't find the inertia to turn it around. So I just kept it at a smooth ultra pace and coasted in to a (barely) sub-4 finish.
Given my weekly averages of 20-30 miles recently, its no surprise this finish was what it was. Not really disappointed. It quickly became more about the experience than the performance. What else you gonna do? Actually, it was cool to see so many people on the out-n-backs giving the marathon a go. Being strictly in the ultra world for the past few seasons, you forget that there are folks who are just getting into this and the marathon is the biggest challenge they have faced. I was there just years ago. I found it exciting to watch them struggle to meet their goals. I hope they had a great day out there. The conditions were pretty great. With the size of this event, I feel like road running is alive and well in Denver. And it seems to be in pretty good hands with the Rock and Roll management. They get their share of crap but it feels generally positive overall. It was my first race of theirs and I would do it again.
That's it for my season. Pretty lackluster year overall. Going to take some time away now as I alluded to post-Leadville. My legs really weren't there today. And maybe my mind wasn't either. Maybe they need a bit longer of a rest after doing this since 2005 with hardly a break. Try a bit of cross-training. Some weights. Get wet in the pool? I will not rest, but I might not run as much until 2015. Try to take the off season more seriously. Of course, I will try and stay active on the hills with the dogs. And see what I can cook up for the next phase to come.
September 30, 2014
For Sydney's birthday way back in May, I gave her two tickets to Katy Perry. Tonight was the night! She told me she was more excited about this concert than any other she had ever been to. Clearly I have tried to steer her towards my metal ways. And she does enjoy. But she is a (near) teen girl and they like their Kitty Purry...I mean Katy Perry.
Well, that was the biggest stage I have seen them fit in the Pepsi Center. Wowza. You might think I would be all hating this concert but the excitement alone from Sydney was infectious. However, I do always appreciate a good performance. Katy actually sings her songs live which is amazing for pop singers these days it seems. There were imperfections and deviations in her voice but that's what makes a live show so great.
I was sort of surprised there wasn't more dance dance dance. But that's not as much her thing. She moves but they don't break into a big synchronized dance number for hours on end. She probably spent 20+ minutes of the 2+ hour show talking to the kids. Chatter about school nights and birthdays and her garden. Those moments where I am sure Sydney thought they were just having a conversation. BFFs forever.
Given the osmosis of music in our house and car, I knew all but about the middle of the set. The slower songs I am not up to speed on. But when the girl has so many number one hits, you can't get away from knowing some of the songs.
We showed up during the opening act which was "Tegan and Sara". Who are these girls? Two identical twin girls from Canada with a backing band. I was surprisingly not gagging on their music. Turns out they are pretty good. They are Canadian sensations in fact. There most famous song (but not their best) is from the Lego Movie....Everything is Awesome! They played it. Weird but funny. I can say I heard that live.
I was excited to take Sydney to see a "mega tour" with Katy in her prime. That's gotta be a great memory. Just don't make me go to too many of these. I have a reputation to uphold!
A local review with more photos.
September 22, 2014
Fall is here. Fall sucks. It gets colder in Fall. Days get shorter. If you like that, then you are some kind of terrorist. The best season is summer. Then winter. Spring and Fall have equal suckiness. But I give the nod to Fall over Spring because of the Colorado wind. Its not runner friendly. Some day I will just live wherever it is summer all the time. And maybe travel to ski when I want some winter. That will be great.
My shin is healed. So I am back on the move. It was 3 weeks start to finish. Struggled to run 1 mile. Then 2. Then got to 4. Lots of rest days. Now its solid. Did Green Mountain Saturday. Did a 16 miler on Sunday. Money. Except that I am slow as molasses now. Maybe things will turn around quickly. If I don't hurt something else.
The Boulder Marathon (and half) got canceled 2 weeks out. Lots of bogus excuses about the flood, deaths, and other whining. Then the Internet kicked in. They found out no permits were pulled. This got enough people angry and the Boulder District Attorney is now investigating. The word on the street is that the race director is a scammer. Never pays his bills or does so much after the fact after threats. Loser. Its s shame a race that hold the title of "Boulder" turned to crap. The old race management always seemed great. This new flake is a flake. I am sure it can be recovered in later years. But I still want my money back.
I read Boston is full. I think. So my pressure to BQ next month at Denver Rock and Rolling is lesser so. But it would still be good for a 2016 Boston. But eh. We will see what the next 4 weeks brings for training.
If Fall has its way, it will crap on my plans every day then deliver a blistering hot race day. Welcome to Colorado.
September 9, 2014
Pretty excited about the line up for this show. Not a bad band involved. So let's do them in order!
Pop Evil was up first. This is a shame because they are one of my favorite up and comers. But I guess they aren't selling as many albums as the other guys just yet. They played for like 25 minutes to a smaller but passionate crowd. Had to get there at 6 to see them play! So it was a short set but they worked it pretty hard and skipped all the slow songs. I hope they won more fans. Love seeing them. Wish Syd could have gone but school night rules.
Last Man Standing
Goodbye My Friend
Torn to Pieces
Deal with the Devil
Buckcherry was up next. They have a few songs I like but I have never dug into them. The lead singer has a very Steven Tyler vibe. Like to sing about bitches, say fuck, and talk about drugs. Total rock star persona. A few new songs I hadn't heard off the new album and they were catchy. As you can see from the photo, I had escaped off the floor to eat some food while watching them. Enjoyed the performance and will be downloading a few more of their tunes.
Somebody Fucked With Me
Say Fuck It
I Don't Give A Fuck
Skillet followed. I was surprised at the level of crowd participation with these guys. I have always written them off because they are a Christian metal band. I don't care about your religion while we are rocking out. The songs aren't overtly messaged though. So even with the rest of these rock bands on the bill, these guys seemed to hold the crowd. The lead singer is pretty passionate during the performance. I kept thinking his wife was the drummer but she is actually lead guitar. Hmmm. The final move though was when he gave a shout out to Jesus Christ. Never heard that at a metal show before.
Whispers in the Dark
Sick of It
Not Gonna Die
Awake and Alive
Now was Seether. This was the reason I was there. I love them. They have been a constant rotation on my runs for years now. However, I have seen them quite a few times lately and the performances seem about the same each time. They play the radio hits mostly and then take pauses between songs while Shaun's guitar whines. I was sort of bored. Too bad. I wish they would play more of the songs I like that aren't the most popular.
Rise Above This
Words As Weapons
And the headliner! They didn't start until 10 PM...on a weeknight! The Smack is back! Godsmack took the stage after a AC/DC backed video of them coming up over the years. They have been on a break for a few years and I was sort of wondering if they would ever return. However, with a new album, they showed they haven't lost anything. I think the songs are really good and slightly different and richer. I have been playing it for weeks.
I have seen them several times over their history. Funny that the last time was in this same venue. So it felt like a flashback...in a good way. New songs and old songs interleaved. Stage show was modest but good enough.
They did their classic drum battle which I always enjoy. Sully knows how to jam. Then during Whatever, they did some of the usual shenanigans but added a new twist. After plenty of ribbing about local sports vs. New England teams, Sully brought out a cart of beer cups. Those Solo red cups. They poured into them. Then he said he would be sending them out to the crowd to test our catching skills. He hurled the Solo cups in a fashion that kept the beer in tact into the crowd. People were catching them and pounding the beer. Then he went to the sides. Long throws. He was heaving them. Beers flying all over. People were mostly catching them with beer in tact. Never seen that one before.
Cryin' Like a Bitch
Locked and Loaded
Straight Out of Line
Batalla de los Tambores
I Stand Alone
I guess that's the end of the summer tours here for me. Strong show to close out the season! I would see any of those bands again.
September 8, 2014
I had not seen this band since 2004. Holy shit. That's 10 year ago now. Amazing that I can say I saw this band in Denver a decade ago. They have been around that long and I have been here longer. Anyway, it was a cooler and slightly rainy night but it was well worth the trip. I had actually skipped Linkin Park's visits in prior years. But I stumbled on this Lollapalooza Brazil show they did on YouTube and thought to myself that I needed to go again if they return.
The stage show was pretty cool. A little NIN-esque with the video screens and playing behind them. Lots of action on stage with this 6 member band.
Mike continues to be a crazy talented musician. Rapping, pianos, singing, guitar, MC, whatever. Chester is becoming more Scott Weiland than ever. Dancing around. Must be his other gig as lead singer for STP now influencing him. Still think he has amazing range from singing to screaming. The guy really uses his voice.
I have the new album and I like it more than their last. Even their stuff from Hybrid Theory still holds up -- I might say its my favorite of all they ever did. Such a solid debut album.
Thirty Seconds to Mars was the opener. Watched a bit of it. Crowd liked it. Not my thing. I kept thinking that lead singer looked familiar though. Googled it later and figured out he is Jared Leto. Whoa. I saw him in various movies like Dallas Buyer's Club most recently. And he has a video streaming startup, VyRT. OK, that dude is crazy talented then. Acting, singing, whatever.
I actually had a seat for the show. 6th row. Enjoyed watching from a bit further back and taking in this late summer night show under the stars. Last one of those for the year. Drat. Nothing better than an outdoor Colorado concert.
September 6, 2014
Natalee and Chad are in town for the weekend. Natalee was intent on making Chad do a 14er. We had to go from Longmont so the time friendly choices were limited. Bierstadt was an easy winner. 7 miles R/T. Done.
My boy was very excited to be back in the wild. Its going to be a long winter for him. Although he loves the snow. Maybe we will do more winter ascents. Maybe.
The trail is a nice meandering class 1 jaunt. This is my 2nd time on this mountain. Didn't mind repeating at all. I was in hiking mode with my guests today. Wondered what kind of time I could do here. Would be fun to time trial it.
But don't go on the weekend! I have never seen so many people on a 14er in my life. Wild. Hoards of people constantly. Lots of rookie stuff out there. You gotta start somewhere I guess. And they start here.
Well, that's 5 uniques for the dogs so far in one summer. Hell, they are going to catch me at this rate!
Just a dusting of snow on the north side. Its not winter yet but a single night could change that. It was chilly at the summit though.
September 2, 2014
Sitting in the hospital with Reagan...Rewind a few days.
My workout schedule has rest days in it. Damn, I forgot marathon training was so nice. Kind of refreshing to not have to log miles tomorrow. But then the next day usually involves some suffering at threshold pace to make up for that!
So Labor Day weekend was going to be great. A hills run on Saturday and a long run on Sunday. I caffeined up and had some gel and hit the road for the hills. I was on fire! Running an old loop of mine at Sandstone Ranch that has 9% grades. Moving solid up the hills and blasting down. I was working well. But on the last lap, my brain was telling me to back off. Shut up. I pushed the down hard and my ankle wasn't happy. I didn't roll it side to side but more like forward. Ouch. I sort of limped 30 minutes back home in a cooldown. Stayed on it all day but woke up the next morning not being able to bear weight out of bed. Damn it. I forgot this is an injury prevention game. It felt good and I went with it. But I went too far. Again. This seems to be my yearly trend and I never learn.
I have been icing it and putting a brace on it. Putting on the brake while driving my truck is the most painful action. A few days off shouldn't kill me. Skipped the long run obviously. And every run since. I actually put my weight system back together in the basement on Sunday and figured out how to use them once again.
Last night as I was going to bed to ice, Reagan's ongoing sickness got worse and Kim ran her over to the ER. They ended up admitting her and spent the night working through it. She is having breathing issues. Diagnosis was "Acute bronchitis with respiratory asthmatic distress with hypoxia". My interpretation was she got a lung infection that caused a bunch of mucus and then she couldn't breathe. SaO2 was in the 80s. It should be like 92 for this altitude. So I spent the day shift today with her and now I am on the night shift here too.
At the Leadville 100 briefing this year, Ken went off script from prior years and said something that I can only paraphrase now but resonated with me. He explained that we are only there for this foot race. Its only a foot race. Its going to be tough but it will never be tougher than the real challenges you will face in life. He talked about sickness or issues with children, etc. Those are tough problems. Not solved simply by putting one foot in front of the other for 30 hours. However, that foot race trains you to physically and mentally to persevere through challenging situations and gives you the confidence that you can face things that you thought you could not. That other people can't fathom.
So as I sit here with Reagan tonight, I am calm and so is she. Just a bump in the road. A timeout. She will be back home in a day or so. Refueled and recharged.
Then I can go back to whining about my ankle or maybe running on it.
Thanks to all who reached out to give her a bump.
August 27, 2014
I turn 40 this year. God damn. That seems old.
In my 20s, I had fun making waves. Somewhere in my 30s, I lost the desire to do that. Less stress. Less trouble in life. Spend my time on other things. Things that mattered more. Supposedly.
And somehow through that transition, I lost a key attribute that I had previously cultivated. Getting out of my comfort zone. Maybe not with everything I do but there are a few specific things where I lost this edge.
So I think its time to face my fears there with respect to running. I need to admit I have become a slow runner. I am afraid of fast.
On Monday, I registered for the Boulder 1/2 Marathon and the Denver Marathon. Less than 2 months out. No real thought went into it other than forcing myself to go run races that I used to run. Facing my PR demons. Facing the fact that I have to practice running fast for a while. I despise running fast. It usually hurts.
Being a fast runner will benefit me in the things I want to do. The things I still need to do. I haven't run a marathon proper since Boston 2010. That's too long ago. It was one of my top 3 best executed races ever. I felt like I could step away. But now its clear that I need to get out of my comfort zone and return to the marathon to put some speed back in my running.
Will I be able to run a PR at Denver? No way. Oh maybe a course record for me there but I don't plan on breaking 3 hours by any stretch. 3:15 is the BQ time for me these days. Which is what it was before! They have since revised the times and I got older. So its net the same.
Therefore, this week I started one of my old training plans. I had to do intervals today. It sucked. I cramped out and bailed about 1/2 through. But that's just week 1. I will be back tomorrow and every day until the race. Plenty of time.
So do something that takes you out of your comfort zone today. Like holding a flaming stick. Or doing intervals. Or challenging the win at your local race. It will be good for you.
August 25, 2014
My insurance company in Leadville denied our renewal after a site inspection. We were deemed a fire hazard. You get this worksheet and you get so many points you can score. We had too many. So in order to keep my house on the up and up, we had to call in some pros to help us do the heavy lifting. We had the fire department out for an inspection. They thought we were in good shape. But if you were being picky, they gave us a few suggestions.
So we hired a forestry company. They came in with a crew and did a single day of cleanup. Removed 80 trees from the property. Mostly up around the house. Clearing clumps. Removing trees that were not healthy -- usually ones that split as they rise. Lots of trimming and pruning.
I also had them remove a large tree that was right in my line of sight from my breakfast seat to La Plata Peak. Ah, very nice now.
In the meantime, we spent the days raking our dirt to remove the pine needles that had accumulated over the years. We built a huge pile of them and had the largest bonfire in history. Too hard to haul away. And the funny thing was they didn't burn worth a shit. I had to keep pouring lighter fluid on them like crazy to make them burn. Fire hazard? Right.
So we are cleaned up and awaiting inspection #2. Hopefully this is actually a healthier forest on the property now so we can get some diversity in the species. But I doubt it. Nothing tends to grow at 10,000 feet except lodge-pole pines.
Oh and the equipment of the day -- the wood chipper. That thing would just eat any full size tree that they put into it. Amazing.
August 22, 2014
Started on Facebook via this post. Now I am bringing it here.
While I was at the back of the pack struggling with my own race in this year's Leadville Trail 100, there was something brewing up front. Rob Krar was the easy favorite in the race. Heck, our local RunColo.com even joked about the landslide prediction by making the contest about who would come in second place to him. The talk was Krar all week in town as well. Everybody loves a fresh story.
However, there are a bunch of runners in the next 4 spots that are friends of mine. They work hard. They train on course. They put the work in. So when I saw what unfolded up front by reviewing post race, I felt like somebody had to say something about this.
So what I noticed was that Rob's GPS route didn't match the course on Strava. Specifically around the Winfield turn around. That's odd.
Then I read Ian Sharman (3rd) mention Rob going off course in his blog.
Then I heard Rob on Ultrarunner Podcast and he admitted to this. He just kept his head down and cruised passed a turn. He ended up running the 2012 course that went to the campground at Winfield and then he came back into Winfield from the opposite direction. Ian speculated trail sabotage but nobody else reported as such.
Mike Aish talked about the situation on the Elevation Trail podcast. He is in a tough position. Who wants to win on a technicality? Mike works hard and I am sure he would have wanted to duel in the final miles. He knows Krar was the stronger runner that day. But that's not reasonable in racing. Shit happens. And that's why we run the race. You never know what might happen on any given day.
Talking with crews that were at Winfield during the leader's run through, they confirmed to me that Rob never came down on the road to Winfield inbound where they were crewing. Then he suddenly was going outbound on the road. Where did he come from? The wrong way.
Using Google Earth to roughly measure, Rob's path was 1.77 miles with ~500ft decline and 250ft incline, while the proper course is 0.7 miles 250ft decline and 35ft incline. So it was a harder and longer effort.
People that argue the other side give some reasons like:
1) He is a good guy. Whatever. That's not even a serious argument in competition.
2) He is an honest guy. Then he would have raised this issue prior to hoisting the trophy. If he did and it wasn't publicized, then let us know. But he did publish the Strava and had talked about it on the podcast. So he isn't exactly hiding it either.
3) He ran a longer harder course. So? You don't get to make up the course on your own. There are time and space considerations you avoid by not running the right course. You don't trip on the same rock that everybody else does. The other competitors do not see you and get to feed off your presence. Who knows what you did on the unsupervised trail? You changed the game.
What do the rules say? Leadville 100 Run Athlete Guide 2014, pg 17, Racer Code of Conduct Section:
Rule # 4: Do not cut switchbacks. You must follow the trail as it is has been marked. STAY ON THE TRAIL!
Rule # 15: Violation of any rule will be grounds for disqualification. Race Management reserves the right to bar any runners from competing in this and any future Leadville Trail 100 races
Rule #17: Decisions of the Race Director and Race Management are Final.
I argue that solid determined focus that Rob runs with and benefits him...actually did him in.
What I am calling for? Leadville Race Management needs to address this. You have a runner that went off course and did not return to the place they left. What say you? Its OK because it did not benefit him. Or its not OK under any circumstance. They rules are gray at best.
I am not calling on Rob to do anything.
Screw you if you think I am a spoil sport. This is a great topic as the sport gains credibility. But more importantly Leadville is my town and my race. People talked shit about the quality of the race last year. We came back with a better race this year. But now I feel like a real issue is being ignored. To be the reputable race that this series is and needs to be, issues need to be addressed publicly and openly. Leadville's survival depends on it.
The same day as this post went up, the Leadville Race Series issued a statement about this matter. Here it is. Basically they say the win stands. I commend them for addressing the matter directly. Per Rule 17 above, there is nothing more to see here.
However, I do hope we see some guidance show up in the future athlete handbook above leaving the course.
I will leave the post stand unedited as I still think this was a healthy debate to have. But I have edited the title and added the word NOT into it for clarity for that arrive in years to come.
Congrats to Rob and all the finishers. This was never about them. It was about understanding the rules and how they are enforced so we can have a better race next year.