Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Red Hot 55KM Race Report

     Been looking forward to this race for several months. Signed up with my friend Lauren to do a run together. This was ideal to see where my winter training had yielded. The plan was to run together and then push the last several miles.

Race morning up and wide awake by 6:00am. Solid night of sleep and nerves were calm. We arrived in the Gemini Bridges parking lot a bit after 7:00 am for an 8:00 am start. Looking up at the mesa in front of us was amazing. Once we had our bibs we relaxed for a bit before heading to start line. Right on schedule RD Chris Martinez counted us down and then we were on our way.

Start area with the first climb in the background
      First mile out was a brief climb on a jeep road that placed us between two huge mesas. Then it was several miles of flat running. I snapped several pictures while meeting a few runners. Some runners provided me insight on some spectacular views. With another quick climb we were arriving at the first aid station (5.5 miles in 58 minutes). A brief refueling and we were back out.

First climb of the day

Looking back on the first 3 miles

   Next few miles were some brief up & down run able sections. Then came a bit longer climb that placed us on the rim of mesa now looking down on our car. Arches National Park was across the view too. Snapped a few more photos then switched to video mode for the downhill section that would be leading us to the next aid station. Feeling great I ran a sub 8 minute mile while taping. Reaching the second aid station (13 miles 2:20). Here we noticed my left knee had a quarter size blood stain. Not sure how that happened. Which I had a cool story like a gecko bit me or a snake, but no idea of what was the event that caused it.

Red rock running
       Moving on it was still a continual downhill section. It went by rather nice and the day was warming up nicely. Reaching the third aid station (17 miles at 3:05).

Beautiful day for moab running
     Mile 17. Snapped pictures with Lauren, Keith, and Bill. Then headed down jeep the road back to the split. Working our way from aid station 3-4 via Goldbar. From the bottom, it was a 3 mile climb to the next aid station. Now were running on slick rock from cairn to cairn. Occasionally a small tree or shrub would also have a trail marker. Views were getting more spectacular . Checked into aid station 23 mile (4:15).

New trail friends (Keith & Bill) with Lauren and me Mile 17
      About 2 more miles of climbing up and down the top of the rim, finally we started a descent descend. The tempo seemed comfortable ensuring foot placement, not to be tripped up on anything. Hitting the bottom of the canyon the sand got deep for a short section. Then the next 3 miles became a slick rock series of domes. Up and down was the theme for 45 minutes. Reaching the final aid station 29 mile (5:55).

At the bottom of the long descend; now ankle deep sand

Slick running up & down

        The final leg started out down a gently jeep road that shortly dipped over the first few miles. I was getting hot and had now removed all 3 layers. About mile 31, a mountain biker was next to me. I offered him some free shirts to escape the weight from that point I wanted to see what my legs had left. The pace quickened to a sub 8 minute mile and I ran the last four miles with all I had in me. A few photographer were in the last mile, so I made sure I had good form as I approached. With the last mile being a steep curvy downhill, that you can get a lot of speed and with all the cheering, it brings a lot of excitement to the finish.

      Finished up at Poison Spider next to the Colorado River was incredible site. Tons of people were hanging out and sponsors all around showing off the new year. What a great first ultra of the year!

Finish area aka Poison Spider

For the entire photo collection of the race:


Friday, February 10, 2012

Choose your own adventure...

Where you go in life is determined by the route you take, which route will give you the most??

     The other day I was out running an old route that I haven't been on for a few years. It almost felt all new to me. Then I started to think what if I turn down that street or maybe at the next block take a different turn. So the next several miles I started to ponder why do most of us take the same course "as usual?"

Is it for comfort?
Or is it the prescribed route we all take?
Because it is easy?
That's how I always go?

     The times that I have ran in a completely new area have been the most exciting. At Maybury I have explored more spurs of the main trail than anyone I know. Because of that some of my friends enjoy running there with me because each run is unique and they never know what is next. Last December I stumbled on to a new bridle trail at Maybury and to my surprise I came across an 8-point buck. The first time I saw this deer was back in 2009; now almost three years later by exploring a new way I was re-united with him.

    Also whenever I get the chance to run with others on there routes I find it far more exciting. Every step is new direction in which we travel. Most of those runs I take in the surrounding area and enjoy the companionship of my friends.Sometimes it is harder and other times not so hard.  It challenges me because I never know what areas will be the easiest for me so some moments I have to dig deeper and push on during the run. Those times are rewarding looking back when it is all over.

   2012 is already planned out for racing so traveling to just run in other areas isn't really a full open option. So what I am doing is incorporating some additional local runs. Next weekend I will be in Utah at the Red Hot 55K. I am hoping that it works out so that I can run Friday at the Canyonlands National Park, race Saturday and then run at Arches National Park on Sunday. I am not looking for a high amount of miles just some quality running in new & beautiful areas of the world. In August coming off of Leadville will be my chance to stop by the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs to a quick "run-through" tour of the area.
In addition, this summer I am taking a family roadtrip (Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and West Virginia). Each day I will try to get out and just take in a quick six miles or so.

    Next time in life you have an option to stay the course or branch off into the unknown take a chance and see what comes from it. You might just be surprised!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stowe-Away Weekend

     Over the weekend I jumped a flight to Burlington,VT for some "winter experience." Friday night I arrived and Kelly took me downtown to see the local winterfest. Had a great farm to table meal at local restaurant then did some window shopping and sightseeing.

   Saturday morning up and going. Looking out the window I could see the fresh snowfall that occurred overnight. The temperature was a "real feel" of 4 degrees. Now I was excited to run in the snow but not so keen on freezing temps. After a quick breakfast we headed out for a 12 mile run. Once we got on the trails we soon discovered there was a thick layer of ice under the snow. The downhill sections were a bit tricky to keep traction and not fall. I hit the ground twice without any major damage. I was quite impressed to see some mtb tracks on the trails too. You could tell they had some difficulty in some section too.

          In the afternoon we headed on a road trip to Smuggler's Notch. There is a seasonal road/pass between Smuggler's and Stowe. So we parked the car and headed on to the road. It was a gradual climb of 800' over the 1.5 mile to the top of the pass aka Top of the Notch. Along the hike there were several areas you could see ice climbers, snowboarders in the back country and snowshoes taking in the day.

Ice climber is the black speck towards the right center top

View at the TOP OF THE NOTCH
           Sunday I awoke to the big day, not the super bowl, but skiing at Stowe!! Another single digit morning but there was no way I was going to miss this day. Once I was set with all my gear for the day we headed into the lodge for some breakfast. Kelly is a ski instructor at Stowe so we sat with the instructors eating breakfast and talking.  Looking out there was not a cloud in the sky and even with the single digit temps I was ready to go. Since I have not been on the slopes for six years we started me off with a easy run. After two runs at it I was ready. Kelly went off to teach for the day and I went off to find bigger runs. The first intermediate hill I found was off the sensation lift. The lift was the longest ride I ever had and as I neared the top the pines were all covered in a blanket of powder. Still not a cloud in the ski and just the most pristine views for miles!

I skied the first half of the day all off runs of sensation. Sensing my confidence building I wanted to take on some back country powder. So my last run before lunch I figured I would take on a diamond. Making my way on to Whirlaway I took a second glance at the caution sign and glanced down the narrow 15' wide trail then committed myself to going. The first part was scenic and easy then I saw what was ahead and stopped on the run. Nervous a bit that this could be a bad choice I hesitated and changed my mind. It took only a few minutes to side step my way back to the top. One reason I picked it was that I saw no traffic on it all morning and figured it would be a better choice for me. I was back at the top and no one came through that entire time.

Well I then stopped joined Kelly for a quick lunch at the lodge. She said that I should spend the second half of the day on Mt. Mansfield so that I can take in both parts of Stowe. My legs were still feeling good and my confidence was hanging in there for some more challenging runs. So off to Mansfield I went for the a few hours.

View looking at Mt. Mansfiled
  I took the gondola to the top and more amazing views of the area and powder were all around me. It felt like every minute the day was just getting better and better. Heading down the first run I could feel the trails getting faster from the morning runs. A few passes down the mountain and I was enjoying it more and more. Then I took the double to a point on the mountain and came across another narrow chute of a trail. After backing down from the Whirlaway I said to myself, "step it up." So I dropped my tips down and took the plunge. It was a fast run with a few moguls. I was able to maneuver it and made it back to the bottom.

The day was amazing and here are a few more pictures I took. (In total I took 95 pictures).......

Making moves on Mt. Mansfield

Looking up at the very top of the Mt.
Kelly and me starting off the day

Riding the double to the top of Mt. Mansfield