Thursday, August 29, 2013

I'm now old, but I have something new ... stoked!

Carrie and I are now the "2 Live Crew" on the "Axl Rows" squad.

Or are we Milli Vanilli?

I grew up in the 80s. Shut up.

That's right - we are going to learn how to "crew" or "row". Whatever they call it.

Starting September 9th and 10th through October 26th, Tempe Town Lake will host a 7-week rowing league that introduces rowing to new participants, teaches the basics of the sport, and allows rowers to show off their skills in a league championship regatta (on October 26th).

It's two nights per week for the seven weeks. It will be a good shift in the workout routine. This is another one of those things that I've always wanted to try -- so here we go.

The recovery from the Pikes Peak Ascent went well. I also turned 40 years old on the 23rd. The recovery from my 40th birthday "calorie fest" was a little tougher than the Pikes recovery. I now remember EXACTLY why I changed my diet habits. I hadn't really pigged out like that in a couple of years. Sure, I have not made ALL the best diet choices along the way ... but this was near gorging. Mass quantities of nachos and cookies do not make for a fun 24 hours.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blog: Pikes Peak Ascent 2013

I am happy I finished. This race is such a challenge that I now know about where my upper limits of performance lie. I predicted a 3:30 finish time. I finished in 4:40. Since this was my 40th birthday present to me - I am reading my time as "For Forty." To say this was "fun" is a stretch. It was interesting.

Mile 1: This mile is mostly road running. The herd left Manitou Springs at exactly 7am. We took up the entire street but there was plenty of room. I felt good through this mile. (300 feet of climbing)

Mile 2: This is where it got interesting. I guess I was naive to the lore of the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. There was very little running in this mile. It was hiking / waiting in line. (629 feet of climbing)

Mile 3: This is the second steepest mile on the trail. I felt fine. It was still like stop-n-go driving. There were jerks on the trail just like on the road. Shoving, nudging, trash talking. I had to rub my eyes a little to make sure I was on the trail rather than on the set of some fake wrestling TV program. Picture this: two dudes in their mid-40s weighing no more than 145 pounds each slap-fighting their way up the trail. I actually laughed aloud. (740 feet of climbing)

Mile 4: This was more of the same ... but this was the first mile where I did run a bit since Mile 1. It was more toward the end of the mile. (663 feet of climbing)

Mile 5: I ran even more in mile 5 and I remember feeling strong. The trail was narrow and rocky in this section. It was interesting. (585 feet of climbing)

Mile 6: This mile was fun and I won myself some space from the others. It was a much more reasonable elevation gain. This was the mile where the crew I was in formed and most of the people in this little bunch would finish fairly close together. (308 feet of climbing)

Mile 7: Another fun mile. I was passing people and pretty much ran the whole mile except when the trail narrowed and a small waiting line would form. Most of the climbing in this mile was near the end - and it got steep. (295 feet of climbing).

Mile 8: Mile 8 got real very quickly. I tripped on a root and did the whole awkward catch myself thing. I have done this several times during training. Sometimes this quick reaction causes my back to twinge a bit. It didn't in this case and I was thankful. (657 feet of climbing)

Mile 9: I guess I did mess with my back a bit - because in mile 9 is where I started feeling extreme tightness in my mid back. The trail was good in this mile. (711 feet of climbing)

Mile 10: There was more walking in mile 10 than running. It was the steepest mile and was also above tree line. My back was not cooperating at all. (750 feet of climbing)

Mile 11: The loose gravel got annoying. This was the first mile I could discern between fatigue and altitude. I usually do pretty well at altitude. Today was no different. If not for a decent ability to handle the lack of oxygen - my back pain would not have allowed me to consistently move forward. (687 feet of climbing)

Mile 12: The views from here were fun. The view down to Colorado Springs and Manitou was awesome. The view up the trail was impressive because it was a continuous line of brightly colored shirts and shoes traversing ... holy cow how many switchbacks are there on this thing? I was scrambling with hand-checks on boulders at times to climb the trail. This was the last mile in which I ran. (674 feet of climbing)

Mile 13: Yes, this was the end. It was more of a scramble and a traffic jam than a run. For a bit during this mile I thought I might actually take 5 full hours to ascend. It was very slow going. Even after the finish there was MORE climbing to get to the actual summit. Literally as soon as I crossed under the finish marker it started to snow. That was like a nature-made ticker-tape parade. It was neat. I was ready to stretch my back. (715 feet of climbing + 120 more in the last two-tenths)

If I look more closely at this from a different perspective, I am happy. I was in Ascent - Wave 1. All of the people on the trail for the Pikes Peak Ascent are hard workers and gifted runners. I am glad they have the qualification restrictions - if nothing else for some measure of crowd control.

Ascent - Wave 1 - 750 spots
Qualifications needed to register for the 1st Wave of the Pikes Peak Ascent®:
Peak Veteran of the last 3 years:
- Have run the Pikes Peak Ascent® in under 4:15:00 or
- Have run the ascent portion of the Pikes Peak Marathon® in under 4:15:00
Peak Newbie or those who have not run the Peak in the last 3 years:
- Have run a half-marathon in under 1:40:00 or
- Have run a marathon in under 3:45:00. 

It is crowded the entire time. I passed people. People passed me. In places the trail allows it ... in others you have to make it work. I guess I had envisioned sections where I would be alone in my speed or slowness.

Split Times by Camps
  • No Name:  1:07:29
  • Barr Camp: 2:01:12
  • A-Frame Camp: 3:03:06
  • Summit: 4:40:33
My moving time was 4:29:24 -- I stopped twice on the trail on purpose. The other stopping was waiting on the trail due to traffic.

I was 102nd in my age group. I think there were 130 finishers. So that is the difference of being with a bunch of speed demons. I was 940th overall -which I think puts me somewhere near the middle of the pack.

I can cross this one off my list. It was too crowded and a little stressful to call it fun. I am proud to say I finished the Pikes Peak Ascent 2013.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The cooling of the heels

So as hot as August is I am cooling the jets for a bit.

I'll still be training - just not with as much intensity as I have for the majority of the year.

12 days from right now I will be about 50 minutes into the biggest running race of my 2+ year endurance journey. The Pike's Peak Ascent. Yeah, I know I have written about it all year. It's a big deal. It's a big deal physically as running uphill at altitude is about as challenging of an endurance endeavor as you will find. It's a big deal mentally. It's a big deal metaphorically. It's a big deal spiritually. After the race, I am sure I will have to write some lengthy mile-by-mile account that will only be for my therapy.

Some PPA Basics

13.32 miles.

Elevation gain (start to summit) is 7,815' (2,382 meters); the start is at 6,300' (1,920m) and the summit is 14,115' (4,302m). The Ascent finish/Marathon turnaround is at approximately 14,050'. The Ascent (and ascent leg of the Marathon) has very few stretches which are not going uphill with the average percent grade being 11%.  (You know those signs on the Interstate that warn you about 6% grade ... yeah, double that steepness.)

The footing, or surface, of the trail does vary. In the forested sections it is primarily decomposed rock with a mixture of dirt and loose gravel on the surface with the occasional root or rock protrusion. Above treeline (that is, above the A-frame shelter) the trail is primarily loose gravel with one short section of broken rock (generally referred to as rubble) and the section known as the 16 Golden Stairs being gravel with frequent step-ups of some 10 to 15 inches (the Golden Stairs refers to the 32 switch-backs remaining to the summit). In general, the condition of Barr Trail is excellent thanks primarily to the Friends of the Peak and the Pikes Peak Trail Dogs led by Gail Allen.

Running tally for the year for me:

1090 running miles - with a mix of Stairmaster, Trail Running & Treadmill. I have done very little "flat" or "street" running this year.

I have run these 1090 miles with about 125,000 vertical feet of gain. I believe that calculates out to a 6 or 7 percent incline average on my runs. Is it enough? I hope it is.

Okay. I am done talking about it until I finish it.