Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The lessons will be repeated until they are learned...

One of the reasons we train is to make all our stupid mistakes during the training runs so that we have all the kinks worked out before race day.

This weekend I did my first long back-to-back training runs of the year. I was fortunate to have Doug along the whole way on Friday and part of the day Saturday.

Friday we did 7 Rock Repeats. That was 35 miles and 7000 feet of vertical each way. We kept a consistent pace and averaged less than an hour for each out & back. I could feel my quads on the last two descents but the only thing that was bothering me were two blisters on my heels.

I started a new pair of shoes Thursday and didn't think about it- I wear the same type of shoes all the time and usually breaking them in on most running surfaces is not an issue. Except I didn't think about that fact that I'd be running something steep for 35 miles with them before they were broken in. The blisters weren't too bad and I could only feel them going uphill. I took it easy the whole way and never pushed the pace with Saturday's run in mind.

Saturday I started out early on the bike path, met Doug when I was at 6 miles, and we continued for a full loop around the city. He stopped after the first loop. I continued on to do another out and back on the bike path. We made good time for a walking pace, and I was running mostly every other quarter-mile section of the bike path. After the first loop I could feel those blisters and my feet were hurting.

I was using my house as an aid station and when I got home at 37 miles, I decided I should change my shoes and socks. What I didn't anticipate was excruciating pain just to slip my shoes off over my heels. When I peeled my socks off, both of my heels were completely covered with huge blisters. The left one was bloody and the right one was clear, but they were both HUGE.

I popped them and changed my socks and shoes, and after a grilled cheese sandwich and some soup I headed back out the door, limping for the first few minutes until I got used to the feeling of the shoes rubbing against my heels. My orthotic edges were also causing some pain like I had at Across the Years. I need to cover those with foam tape or moleskin. It was getting dark and I changed to my neighborhood loop. Dennis came out for a while and walked 3 miles with me.

I was moving at a good pace but every step was painful. By the time I hit 43 miles I had already passed the minimum mileage I wanted to do for the weekend. I realized I wasn't accomplishing much fitness-wise by continuing to walk on my painful feet and altering my stride might cause me to injure something else. I tried some running and it was okay but every step was so painful it didn't matter.

I told myself I had to do at least 50. Once I passed 50 miles I decided to stay out until I'd been going for 12 hours. At 51 miles it was 11 hours and 55 minutes of running time since I started, and I decided that was good. I managed 86 miles for the two days, I got 100 miles for the week, and I was done before 10 pm.

This morning it's snowing. I took my bike off the trainer and put it in the garage yesterday. I couldn't have planned it better.

Not a good day for snakes.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


It's Easter and I spent the whole day drinking...

Water, electrolyte mix, gatorade, Heed, orange juice.

Ten miles easy on Centennial Drive this morning. It was cold! It was 32 degrees at 11:30 when I was driving home from the reservoir. It's hard to believe I'm training for conditions that will be 100 degrees hotter. I have to remind myself to drink even when it's cold, to get into the habit.

After that I went to the sauna and did 40 minutes. More drinking. This time I tried running in place for a few minutes while I was in there. That was more of a workout than the 10 miles I did this morning.

The big news is that Steph thinks we got our permit to climb Mt. Whitney after the race! That means I'll have to train at altitude too! I hear there's a ton of snow everywhere.

With less than four months to go it doesn't feel real. Badwater still seems like some far-off dream. Once the warm weather starts maybe that will change. I don't know how I'll manage to get up any fourteeners this spring, with the amount of snow we've had. Maybe Pikes Peak, or some of the Collegiate Peaks, if we have a warm spring.

The Arizona deserts are getting warm, it was in the 90s in Yuma and getting close to 90 in Phoenix. It's supposed to hit 60 degrees here the next few days. I hope it lasts through my long run on Saturday! No blizzards, please!

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Fifty easy miles this week, two sauna sessions, and I'm toast. I need to get used to this feeling of fatigue, it's going to be a fact of life until I start my taper in June . I got a lucky break tonight, was supposed to work a night shift and it was slow so I was able to go home.

This week was uneventful. I worked and ran. I did a short run Thursday, an easy 20 mile run Friday, and 15 today where I was dragging. I was so tired, gravity wasn't helping me on the downhill stretches at Horsetooth.

I finally got to run with the Thursday night group again, it's been a long time since I had a free Thursday night. The wind was pounding us with howling gusts, the kind that knock you off your feet. It was just me, Tom, Doug and Michael, and we stuck close to the shadow of the foothills, otherwise, the dust could sandblast your skin off! Good training for Badwater! I was wishing I had my swim goggles. I used to wear those in duststorms when I was running in Arizona. They work!

I am trying to rest up a bit before next week. I plan on doing back to back long days, 80 to 100 miles total. Sounds like I'll have some company, which is awesome. Doug might be able to run with me both days. We'll see how many miles he decides to do. This Badwater training, it's addictive. I probably should have warned him before he started running with me. Today he was talking about possibly signing up for a 48 hour run sometime.

I'm sure I wasn't hallucinating.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Can I have some hot weather, please?

It's snowing again and I didn't even take my bike off the trainer in the living room!

I've been watching the paper hoping for hot weather in the deserts, but it's been cold in Phoenix and Las Vegas. All the heat is in Texas.

This weekend I changed my plans. I was going to do the Run Through Time Marathon in Salida, but the weather and roads were supposed to be bad, and an e-mail went out about the race course being muddy on the lower portions with deep snow on the upper part.

Twenty-six miles of mud and snow with 7+ hours of driving time to prepare for Badwater. Decisions...

Yesterday I ran 6 Rock Repeats. It was cool and windy, but this time the course was thawed out and aside from a couple of small muddy patches, it was dry and clear. I went all the way to the saddle below Horsetooth Rock and did 30 miles with 6000 feet each of climb and descent. Today I followed up with a couple of hours of fast walking. My legs aren't nearly as sore as they were after last week's Rock Repeats.

It would have been fun to see the other runners in Salida but I have to make the best use of my training time and energy. Not to mention the extra driving time if the roads were bad.

This past week I got nearly 70 miles in and did two 30 minute sauna sessions. Next week I am going to start lifting again. I took three weeks off from lifting weights after my shoulder started hurting again. Last summer I injured my rotator cuff the morning of the Leadville Marathon while I was closing the gate to the driveway at our cabin.

I feel like I need to get out of town, but it will have to wait until later. Next race is the Spring Desert Ultra in Fruita, a 50 miler on April 19th. Y'all send some of that heat up here...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

An Opportunity to Help

My health, fitness, and ability to run Badwater is a gift, and it's a great opportunity to do something to help someone else. While the Badwater race itself supports the Challenged Athletes Foundation for disabled athletes, I want to do something that will help people locally, in my community of Fort Collins.

My Badwater run is a fundraiser for the Poudre Valley Health System Foundation's Cancer Care Fund. This fund supports the patient navigator program, community and nurse education, and equipment for cancer-related programs.

I chose the Cancer Care Fund out of several different cancer-related funds because I felt it was the one that would most directly reach people in need. Cancer is something that affects almost everyone in one way or another, directly or indirectly.

When a person is newly diagnosed with cancer, they are taking the first step in a complicated maze of events. Patient navigator programs help people diagnosed with cancer to work through all of the things they have to do along the journey to restoring their lives and health. They help patients who might not have strong family or community support find support services, treatment services, and find ways to make those services more accessible.

Patient navigators can help set up appointments for treatment and any related therapies, find nutrition services, physical therapy, counseling, financial assistance, child care, and transportation. Cancer treatment and related therapies are disruptive to normal routines, family life, and jobs, and can cause enormous stress at a time when the patient needs to focus on their health.

Supporting cancer care is personally important to me because my sister had a bilateral mastectomy in 2006 for breast cancer, at age 35. We had no known family history of cancer and it was before she had her frst mammogram that she found it. My sister benefitted a great deal from the patient navigator program where she got treatment. My sister is doing well now and has resumed doing everything she loves to do, and is living in California with her husband and my 4 year old nephew.

One of my crewmembers for Badwater, Chris, found out he had non-Hodgkins lymphoma two years ago. At the Across the Years race in Arizona in 2005 he had just been diagnosed, but he came out and ran the race as usual, continuing his duties as race medical staff. Chris is a registered nurse and has been helping out with medical duties at Across the Years for many years. He had chemotherapy in 2006 and is now in remission.

This year Chris ran the race while serving as the race nurse, as he always does. He fixed blisters, soothed sore muscles, and helped runners deal with any medical problems during the three day event, and still managed to run 100 miles over three days. There will be more about Chris and all my crewmembers on the blog as we approach race day.

I hope as you're reading this you will consider donating to the Cancer Care Fund. For more information go to the Foundation's website or call (970) 495-7400.

If you would like to make a donation, please make checks payable to PVH Foundation and write "Badwater Race" in the memo line. Checks can be sent to:

Poudre Valley Health System Foundation
2315 East Harmony Road Suite 200
Fort Collins, CO 80528

Monday, March 10, 2008

From Normal to This...My Running Story

If you're not an athlete and you're reading this, you're probably asking, "How does a person go from normal to THIS?"

If you're a runner, but not an ultrarunner, you're asking, "How does an ordinary runner develop the endurance to run 135 miles in the blistering desert heat of Death Valley in the middle of summer? How does a runner go from 5Ks and 10Ks to ultradistances in extreme conditions?"

You want to know what drives a person to do this, and the answer to the logical question that follows, "How can I prevent this from happening to me?!!!"

I promise you it didn't happen overnight. I didn't wake up one morning with a fever and rash and go out the door and run 50 miles.

I have been running nearly 25 years and I did take the slow, gradual route of increasing my running and racing distances. I have run over 70 official marathons and ultramarathons in that time, and countless ultra-length "unofficial" races and training runs. There were many noteworthy events and people who influenced and inspired me along the way.

When I was a kid in school I was younger and smaller than the other kids. My motor development was always behind, and I never had any coordination. I didn't see very well either, started wearing glasses at age 8. If a sport involved a ball or some object I had to swing or throw, forget it. The ball would always end up hitting me. I was the nerdy kid who got picked last, and I frustrated my P.E. teachers.

I was hardly out of shape, though. At home I rode my bike all over the neighborhood and jumped on my pogo stick for hours. I had great endurance and could stay on that pogo stick forever, and go up and down stairs with it. Puberty ended my pogo stick career, as we didn't have jogbras yet in those days.

In junior high they made us start running laps and I liked that because no one could really watch you. I felt self-conscious in PE class because of my poor motor skills, and running was something that didn't require coordination or being picked on a team. The first time I ran a timed mile in P.E. class, I can remember the teacher jumping up and down by the side of the track, cheering for me. I was one of only two or three kids to run faster than 8 minutes for the mile and my teacher was completely shocked that I was capable of doing something well in P.E. class!

Somehow that year I ended up on the track team doing the 400 yard hurdles, something I SUCKED at. There really were no distances for girls to run at that age or in that time, 1975. That was the end of my childhood running career.

In high school I went out for track but again, there were no distance options and I didn't stick around long. I was the slowest sprinter and couldn't make it over a hurdle to save my life. I joined the backpacking club instead. Ten mile hikes with a 40 pound pack on the weekends were preferable to bruised shins and scraped hands.

In college, my senior year at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, I got interested in bodybuilding and joined a local gym and started lifting weights. I was being encouraged by some of the people at the gym to try a bodybuilding competition. My friend and classmate Kirk Apt was a runner and was starting to pick up his training to run his first marathon, and I started running a 6 mile loop after class with him on a regular basis.

Kirk talked me into running a 10K in Phoenix and we went to the race. I ended up getting some kind of age group award and received a trophy after the race. Kirk looked at me and my trophy with envy and said, "I'm supposed to be the runner!"

A few weeks later I was entered in another 10K and got another award, improving my time by a couple of minutes. We graduated that spring and before long I was running 10 mile races, half marathons, and in 1985 I ran my first marathon.

Kirk running with me as I finished my first marathon.

In 1987 I was living in Colorado. I was training for a marathon and was driving from Crested Butte to Breckenridge early one morning to run a half marathon race. On the way, I drove through Leadville. It was early on a Sunday morning but there was some kind of event going on downtown. I saw people who looked like runners, some were limping.

Having plenty of time, I pulled over for a moment. There was a banner that said something about 100 miles. I asked someone on the street, who said it was a 100 mile race through the mountains. I drove the rest of the way to Breckenridge feeling both humbled and charged up. I tried to imagine what it would be like to run that far. I won the half marathon that morning in what was a huge PR for that distance!

In my fifth marathon I ran my lifetime personal record, officially 3:07 but I spent 6 minutes in the portapotty early in the race so I count it as a 3:01, before the days of electronic chip timing. Regardless, I never broke that 3 hour mark even though I tried several times and it never came together. I'd always get injured one way or another.

Along the way I'd lived in Crested Butte and Gunnison, and met Dennis, moved to Fort Collins, and we got married in 1990. He was one of the top distance runners in the US and was running for Reebok, and he was on the US team at the World Cross Country Championships in 1990. Dennis is one of the mentally toughest runners I know. He'll try any distance, including burro racing, too. He's earned several nicknames for his running style over the years, including "The Truck".

By 1990 I was getting frustrated with my inability to stay injury-free. I tried orthotics, cross-training, stretching, massage, acupuncture, rest, and anything else I could find. Kirk told me he was interested in running ultramarathons, and thought it might help me if I tried running slower, long distances. I didn't know anything about ultras except that people ran slow, but I was fascinated by the idea of running so far. I saw an ad for Ultrarunning magazine in the back of Runners World and got a sample copy.

I remember riding my bike on the trainer one winter day and reading Ultrarunning. I was in awe of Ann Trason who was tearing up the record books at the time. I read that issue cover to cover. I don't think I missed a word. Afterwards I wanted to go out and run all day.

As soon as I started building my mileage up that spring, I started extending my runs beyond what I'd ever done before. In May of 1991, at age 27, I entered my first ultra, the Doc Holliday 35 mile trail run in Glenwood Springs and finished in 7 hours. I can remember the shoe-sucking mud that year and the pure joy of finishing. Someone I didn't even know came up to me afterwards and hugged me and said, Congratulations, you're an ultrarunner!

In 1991 my friends Kirk and Gary both decided to run the Leadville Trail 100 and I was going to pace Gary. Both Gary and Kirk finished. I knew that I would be on the starting line the next year.

Gary, me, Dennis, & Kirk after a 30 mile run in the Needles District of Canyonlands

I met my friends Mike "Snakebite" Sadar and Wally Prugh over the next several months, both were living in Fort Collins, and we became training partners. All of us ran and finished Leadville in 1992. I have so many great memories of Snakebite and Wally and the others who joined us for our running adventures. Dennis Werth (the other Dennis!) and Rembo lived in Denver and joined us for some of our crazy "unofficial" races.

We invented the Ph.D. run, aka the Pre-Holiday Depletion Run, the Quadrennial Quagmire for leap year & Wally's birthday in 1992, and found all kinds of challenging routes to run in the foothills west of Ft. Collins. In the summer we would spend weekends training on the Leadville Trail 100 course supported by the hospitality of Mike's parents who live in Leadville.

Above Left: Me, Snakebite, Snakebite's dad Frank Sadar, and Christine Prugh (Wally's daughter) after my first Leadville finish in 1992.
Above Right: Wally crewing me at the Leadville Trail 100 in 1996.

Center: Rembo, me, and Dennis Werth (the other Dennis!) at the start of the 1st Quadrennial Quagmire in 1992.
Below: After my first 100 Km race in Colorado Springs in 1992, Dennis & I walk back with everyone along the course. Sid Snyder is in the pink shirt second from the right.

In 1992 I ran the 100Km distance for the first time, at Sid and Gail Snyder's race in Colorado Springs. They live in Oregon now and have been great friends over the years. I do well in road races as I have the leg speed that many ultrarunners don't, and years later I found out that I set a state record at that 100 Km race in 1992. I have no idea how long that record stood but I think it did for quite a few years.

In 1993 I ran Leadville again and was in great shape. Unfortunately I didn't have my eating figured out and I couldn't get enough calories in early. On Sugarloaf that night there was a snowstorm and I got extremely cold, when I arrived in May Queen at 86 miles that morning I ended up staying in the heated tent for 3 hours before I was ready to go to the finish. I finished, but didn't improve on my time.

In 1994 I had bunion surgery, I'd been suffering too long with my painful left foot and decided to do it for my 30th birthday. I guess you could say ultrarunners are masochistic, we do crazy things on our birthday like run our age in miles, or get long-delayed foot surgery.

At some point early in my ultrarunning years I read an article in Ultrarunning magazine about Ben Jones, Mayor of Badwater, the famous medical examiner-ultrarunner from Lone Pine, CA who ran Badwater and cooled himself off with some crazy thing like an ice-filled coffin or body bag during the race. He also completed an autopsy one year, during his race, on some unfortunate hiker (not a runner) who was found near Badwater. Ben went back after the autopsy and finished running the race!

Having grown up in Arizona during my teen years, I knew what the heat felt like, and it intrigued me, hearing about this race. I had visited my parents during the summer and went running, and the heat never seemed to bother me. But at that point, I was trying to figure out how to improve on 100 miles, and 135 in the desert seemed way out of my league. I knew that someday I would do it, but it wasn't on the radar at all.

I entered Leadville in 95 but got a stomach virus three days before the race. I thought I was recovered enough but I ended up missing the time cutoff at Halfmoon at about 70 miles that year. In 1996 I went back again and finished.

Keith Frates, me, and Heidi Gabalski after my 1996 Leadville finish. Both Keith and Heidi are longtime friends and amazing athletes. Keith is a top masters marathoner and Heidi is a talented triathlete. Both of them have inspired me with their personal and athletic achievements over the years.

In 1997 Dennis decided to run Leadville and I took a break. Like I said, he is the toughest runner I know. Early that year he ran his first two ultras, a 50 km and a 50 miler. In August at Leadville, he not only finished, he ended up in third place, in under 21 hours. If that isn't enough, he perfected what our friends Kirk & Keith call "The Bagoomba Training Method". That's where you run about 30 miles a week all summer and your longest run is 26 miles, once, and then you go and run the Leadville Trail 100 and finish third. Enough said.

In 1998, I finished my fourth Leadville. In my four finishes, my time was always 29 hours and change. We moved to Arizona in late 1998 and I took a break from running long ultras. I was having some problems with my energy levels. I'd feel good for several months, have plenty of energy, and then I'd slide into this low-energy state, couldn't concentrate, feel terrible while running, and I wanted to sleep all the time. After a few months, for no apparent reason, I'd feel better and run well again.

This turned out to be a thyroid problem which went undiagnosed until 2003, and it took more than a year after that to get thyroid replacement medication right so I felt good again. From the time we moved to Arizona in 1998 until 2004, I ran a few ultras and marathons, but my performances were inconsistent and I was unable to run any long ultras during that time.

We lived in Arizona for 8 years. Perfect Badwater training, but things never worked out for me to do the race.

I went out to Badwater and paced my friend Josh in the summer of 2002. I felt tired, but it wasn't the heat. Josh did have problems with the heat. He didn't have a good race, he ended up having terrible fluid and electrolyte problems and DNFed at 40 miles. We took him to get IV fluids. I realized that I wanted to run that race and I knew I had to get in a lot better shape if I was ever going to do it and finish. I was hoping to be able to run Badwater within the next 2-3 years.

I paced my friend Ken at Badwater in the summer of 2003. I felt good in the heat, I had more energy but still was having trouble with thinking clearly, concentrating, and reading. I wanted to go back to school for nursing, but I knew I couldn't do it until I solved the problem of whatever was making me so fuzzy.

A new endocrinologist and a change in thyroid medications in early 2004 got me to the point where I was not brainfogged for the first time in about 2 years.

I decided to start the process of going back to school for nursing, something that I'd been putting off since I wasn't able to study and didn't have the energy for so long. By late 2004 I felt good enough to add a part-time job as a CNA to my personal training schedule, and was running enough to maintain a decent level of fitness. I was finishing my prerequisites for nursing school. While I was in nursing school I ran the 24 hour race at Across the Years each year, my "token" ultra, which helped me feel like I was still connected to the ultra community!

Ken Eielson and I set up our "voter registration" table before the Across the Years race in 2004. The sign says "Vote for Jack" (Menard) who missed that year's race.

I got into nursing school in 2005 and graduated in August 2006. Dennis and I had been wanting to move back to Colorado and a new hospital was opening in Loveland the following year. I came up and interviewed and got offered a job at a hospital. Dennis got a job at the new hospital and we sold the house and here we are in Fort Collins.

Over the past year I worked hard to rebuild my fitness. I ran ten different races last year, five marathons and five ultras. I ran 149 miles in my first 48 hour race to qualify for Badwater.

And here I am today, on my 44th birthday, in my hazmat suit.

It is going to be a FANTASTIC YEAR!


Early season training is always a challenge with the weather here in northern Colorado. If you're lucky enough to get a warm sunny day you have to wait until noon or so before it really warms up.

These are the conditions I'm running in now, this snow-covered road to the left will turn to mud in half an hour on a warm day. From my run at Horsetooth I can see Longs Peak covered in snow where I'll be running trails in just another 2 months.

If the weather is really bad there's always the bike, and I'm tempted to take it off the trainer and out of the living room, back to the garage where it lives most of the year, but I'm afraid I'll cause a blizzard by doing that. The trails are clear and drying out and I don't want to have to go through the whole ice-snow-mud-dust cycle again.

I walked hard for 10 miles this morning. I am still sore in the quads from my 4000' vertical run last week. I decided to take it easy and just walk. I kept a good pace and threw a little running in. It was so nice up at Horsetooth, the sun was shining and the ice is melting. The whole reservoir is almost free of ice.

I did my first sauna session today! I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a way to relax. I have never spent any serious time in a sauna before and I did 30 minutes today at 160 degrees. I drank a liter and a half of water while I was in there. I didn't really start to sweat until about ten minutes in, and the heat didn't ever feel oppressive.

I originally planned to do only 5 or 10 minutes to break in easy, but I felt comfortable and decided to stay in as long as I had water and felt okay. At 30 minutes I decided that would be good enough for my first time. When I got out I felt cold but not too bad. Driving home was the hard part, I felt so relaxed I wanted to sleep. I came home and ate something, rinsed off in the shwer, and got in bed. I took an hour nap and felt great afterwards.

I remembered to take some electrolytes in after the sauna session. As I spend more time in the sauna I'll have to bring something with me other than just water. I took some magnesium capsules, had some orange juice and we ate pizza tonight, so I got my salt replaced.

I wasn't looking forward to spending time in the sauna. I was more concerned about the time it takes to do that, when I could be running, eating or sleeping, but now I think I'm going to be addicted.

Friday, March 7, 2008

My Friend, The Rock

This week I didn't have a lot of time to run. I only had three days when I wasn't at work, and lots of errands to do.

I felt better after taking it easy last week and I went out Monday for 16 miles hard with some fast quarter miles on the bike path. Tried to get those around 7 minute per mile pace. That's my "speedwork" for the week.

Tuesday and Wednesday at work were stressful days and I felt completely exhausted Thursday morning. I planned to do about 20 each day, Thursday and Friday. First thing Thursday I took the dogs for a short run, then drove to the foothills.

My favorite place to park has glass all over the parking lot, someone has been breaking into cars up there. There was a sign posted "frequent break-ins" and the number for the Ft. Collins police dept. That morning I decided not to risk it, I didn't need to deal with someone breaking in to my car.

I drove to a different spot and could only motivate myself to walk 2 miles. All I could think about was the day before at work. I decided to go easy on myself. I went back to town and did errands for a while, and around 11:00 I felt like running. I ended up with 18 miles on the flats for the day and felt pretty good.

Thursday night I spoke with Steph on the phone and we did about an hour's worth of talking about Badwater. Time is flying by and we need to start our planning, getting equipment together, figuring out logistics, and working out the kinks when it comes to crewing from the vehicle. We're planning our first crewing trial at the end of March.

This morning I got out early and drove up to Horsetooth Mtn. park. I decided to try out my "Rock" workout for the first time this year. I do multiple repeats of the service road called the Southridge Trail. It climbs about 1000 feet and tops out a few hundred feet below Horsetooth Rock. I turn around at a saddle up there, after that the trail ascends the Rock and becomes non-runnable, which isn't a good use of my training time.

Today I only went as far as a trail junction at about 6600 feet, 2.2 miles each way. It was too snowy and the footing at the top made things too slow. I needed miles today, and in as short a time as possible. During my run the conditions varied from freezing gusts of wind and ground blizzards to heating up in the sun to about 40 degrees not counting the wind chill. Starting out there was shallow snow covering the road about half the way up, in the trees.

By my last Rock the road was a hill of mud. I powerwalked up and ran down but never pushed hard. I ended up with 22 miles and 4000 feet of vertical gain, and 4000 of descent, in 4 hours and 20 minutes. I didn't even feel tired until the last descent.

I wore my Hazmat suit on the last 2 Rocks and I got a strange look from a guy sitting in his car next to mine in the parking lot. He looked scared when I ran up, and looked perplexed when I left my car and started heading back up the trail. I should have told him not to worry, that he'd be okay if he rolled up his windows and that the crew was working as fast as they could.

I will be intimately familiar with the "Rock" by Badwater time, the Rock will be my best training buddy on all those long runs. It's a perfect workout, lots of vertical with no pavement, nice views, aid station in my car every 5 miles, no traffic, and few people to scare.

This week I joined 24 hour fitness, the newest local health club that just opened and gives a great deal to employees at the hospital. It has a younger crowd and they hang out in the weight room and on the machines. The sauna, steam room, and pool area were deserted. It's less than 10 minutes from my house and I can go any time and sit in the sauna after work, even on the weekends.

I checked out their sauna and it is HOT! I can't see spending a ton of money on a health club since I won't be using it for anything but the sauna. There's no time for cross training, and I already have all my weights at home.

I'm meeting with the Foundation on Tuesday to get fundraising started. I have to work this weekend. Next weekend is the Run Through Time marathon in Salida, it will be halfway through March and keep your fingers crossed, warmer weather!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Me and the snakes

Easy week. I ran roughly half of what I am running on a normal week. My back feels better from staying off the hills and pavement, my hip flexors still hurt from walking 12 minute miles, and my butt and quads are better. Dennis gave me a massage and it seems to have helped today.

The past two days felt like a vacation, each day I only ran for an hour around Pineridge Reservoir on the trails and then did some easy walking afterwards. I wore my hazmat shirt and hat. My hat arrived the other day. Only one guy on the trail looked at me like I was a freak. I see him out there running all the time. He'll get used to it. I took naps each day and after my massage I was asleep by 7:30 on Friday night.

Friday afternoon I went for a drive up Rist Canyon to check it out for a possible running route. It's a long climb, about 10 miles steady uphill, which would simulate Townes Pass conditions. But driving up there I remembered how narrow the road is and all those curves, and houses by the road with dogs running out, and no place to stash your water, and I'd have to drive up and drop things off, unless I got a baby jogger. I don't have time to be driving and stashing water, I need to use my time for running. Plus it's all paved now! Running back down those 10 miles would be hard on my body and not worth it!

When I got to the top I turned left and headed toward Masonville, down Buckhorn Canyon. The road is paved the whole way! I remember doing some great runs up there training for Leadville with Snakebite and Wally. We used to do this awesome 40 mile loop over Old Flowers Road to Pingree, up Pennock Pass, down Buckhorn Canyon and back. Most of it was on dirt. I thought maybe the road from Masonville to Stove Prairie would be a good alternative, but with it being paved, the tight curves, and people driving fast, no way.

As I drove back toward Fort Collins I decided my old repeat route up the service road to Horsetooth Rock would be best for my hill training if I need to get some steady climbs. No traffic, no pavement, and no crazy drivers. The scariest things out there would be mountain lions, bears and snakes. I won't be running too early or late in the day, so most likely it would only be me and the snakes.

I can park at the trailhead and have my aid station in my car every 5 miles. I can overdress and have food, drinks, and ice. It's roughly a 1000 foot climb in 2.5 miles. All I need to do is 10 repeats and I'll have 50 miles with 10,000 feet of vertical climb and the same of descent, and I'll be ready for any hill on the Badwater course. It gets warm up there, it's on the south facing slope and is exposed most of the way up. Last summer I did it 7 times as a training run for Lean Horse. I got some good speed training in on the downhills, too.

With all this in mind I went home and bought an annual park pass online.

I haven't been out to check out the health clubs with saunas, that's my project for next week.

Speaking of snakes, it was 70 degrees today! Spring is here, even if it snows tomorrow. I saw flies and bugs, and the last patches of snow finally melted from the yard. It was time for the annual spring ritual, picking up the dog poop that was hidden under the snow all winter. Two dogs worth. I've been waiting for two weeks for the snow to finish melting and every time I planned to do it, it would snow.

Today was the lucky day, and I was able to bend over and kneel down without any soreness. Afterwards I picked up the chipmunks, the hedgehog, the snake and the donut that were all hidden under the snow and washed them.

The girls are so happy, a clean yard and clean toys. If it doesn't snow tonight, which was the forecast, I will run the Devil's Backbone & Blue Sky trail tomorrow.