May 23, 2016

Weekend adventures

A nice, semi-mellow weekend is sometime just what is needed. While I was gunning for the podium at the Original Meowler, the weekend was also a mother-daughter trip we haven't done in a while. With a Subaru loaded full of bike and run gear, we headed out to Gunnsion for some fun. Something different for both of us.

View from the Four way out in Hartman Rocks
Friday afternoon found us at the Four-Way for a very easy ride. Mom hasn't ever ridden at Hartmans and I knew just the loop to take her on. A little tech to get a taste of the rocks on Skyline, then onto Evans loop - Broken Shovel, Lost Dog and Sea of Sage. Nothing huge, nothing scary - just flowy trails in open fields of sage. I took some time to dial the line on the rock garden and then we headed down Skyline. Slowly. Very slowly. Her brakes were getting a workout! We turned up Broken Shovel and Lost Dog - fun and easy. And then came Sea of Sage - I anticipated that it would be a good little descent for her. We stopped to wait for two groups - a mom and her little girl and dad with an even littler girl. I pulled over both times but no high five. They were concentrating too hard to take hands off bars! It's the perfect loop for learning to ride, which meant it was also the perfect loop for Mom... I did have to laugh at the similarities but differences between me riding with Mom and the moms riding with their kids. One of the little girls was super excited that she'd ridden over one of the little rocks on Broken Shovel - super excited. Her mom had told her the exact same things I'm always telling Mom!

Full moon over the KOA - it was a quiet weekend in our little Kamping Kabin
Saturday was Mom's race. She was doing the Sage Burner 25k, opting for the shorter distance instead of trying to conquer the 50k. Given that the 50k is pretty much the second lap of the Growler course, I think she was pretty smart. I'm sure I'd be begging for my wheels about halfway through that race.... I drove up to the base area to drop her off, then headed up. My plan was to watch the runners go through, then ride Rattlesnake, Tailpipe and Ridge. I'd get a good techy ride in that way, be out of the way of the runners and be able to stay out of the heat. Watching the serpentine line of runners winding up Jacks was pretty cool. So many bright colors and funny outfits - they had better not ever say anything about our spandex and enduro colors... Mom was near DFL when she reached the top of Jacks, so I knew it would be long day for her. Time to go ride. Up Main Street and down Rattlesnake - once again, picking my own lines and finding my own way so I'd know the track come Sunday. I was pretty happy with myself when I was able to ride everything that trail offers without having to think or panic once. Such a difference from a few years ago. Then came Tailpipe and Ridge. I could see the line of runners off in the distance on Top of the World - yep, it would be a long long day for some of them! I only missed two things on Ridge trail - because I was too chicken too try without a spot. After my ride, it was time to head back to the KOA and get organized while Mom was running. I knew I had plenty of time. Turns out someone can win her age group and be DFL in the entire 25k at the same time! Perks of getting older....
Runners winding their way up Jacks

Heading out onto Tailpipe.
The full race story from Meowler will be coming soon, but that was an interesting day! Mom spent all day out on course - volunteering as traffic and course marshal at two different spots. She had great time, out in the sage, watching us crazy cyclists come through. Yes, both times we saw her, we were on our bikes... So I'd say it was a successful trip!
Choices, Choices - Meowler, Half Growler and Growler 1st Lap go left - Runners and Grower 2nd Lap go right. That was pretty confusing to some people..

May 19, 2016

Getting ready

There is always the edge to balance when getting ready for an event. Have I done enough to be fully prepared? Or too much and arriving fatigued and tired? When the legs don't respond and a workout seems out of the question, the fear of overtraining looms large. As I prepare for the Meowler, it's no different. I had two big weeks of training, both volume and intensity wise. Some very long runs, hard rides and long interval sets. And then there was chasing the guys around... Sometimes I think that might be a better workout then all the intervals! Chasing the guys involves hard riding both up and down - not just down as most people do for intervals. It was a lot and I entered the last few days of hard work I was ready for it to be over. Ready for the taper and for the shorter, faster sets that peak the form. 

Only problem was - the rest didn't seem to kick in as quickly and I was still dealing like a burnt peice of bread. Panic mode - it's easy to go into a race under trained and survive, but not so much if over trained. Had the last few long rides and runs pushed me just enough over the edge? One solid run later - the kind that feels so natural and smooth and the panic was squelched. Not gone completely, but much less. I just needed a little longer recovery this time. That was confirmed when I finally got to Gunnison. Sure it was a very easy ride - but the legs were there when I needed them. And I'll be needing them for sure Sunday! 

I shouldn't be nervous about this. It's just my kind of event. Hard and technical mountain biking on some of the best trails in Hartman's Rocks. Self supported for gear and planning. And a nice long run in the middle of the ride just to break things up. It's what I love doing - trail running and riding. Yet I don't feel like I've done enough prep for gear and logistics. I have a multi-sport watch, yet I haven't even tried that function. I've been using one computer for my bikes workouts and my watch for my runs. I've done plenty of rides with shoes in pack so I know I'm good there - but the actual transition? Not as smooth as it used to be. I used to have fancy elastic shoe laces for events like this - not anymore! I'll actually have to tie my shoes... So while I'm a little worried about having overtrained, I'm also stressed by the logistics. I just have to trust and be smart. 

Even more stressful? This is the first race without Nick in 5 years. I don't have my pit boss to help me and calm me down!

May 12, 2016


It seems like such a random number on the surface. Twelve. To most people it's a foot, or the number of eggs in a dozen. Nothing remarkable, just a number.

But that number has come to mean so much more to me - 12:00. As in five miles per hour or ten hours to cover 50 miles. And there comes the significance - 10 hours of moving time, plus however long it takes me in the aid stations to take care of things. Will all that add up to under 11:00 hours or is having a goals at the first attempt nothing more then a pipe dream?

I've been doing good with logging the miles over the past few weeks, with three runs over 25 miles - including the Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race 50k. I've headed up into the mountains in search of long and steep climbs and technical running. I've taken what I learned in the 50k and applied it in my last long run. Taping the back of my shoes to prevent hot spots and then blisters. Trying to eat early and often. I even did my last long run with my little hand held in addition to my pack to see if I could tolerate it. I set out for a 30 mile solo adventure on Saturday with the goal of as much climbing as I could find and maintaining that elusive sub 12 pace. Success on both accounts - with 29 miles covered and nearly 5k feet of climbing. I meandered through Bear Creek and power hiked up Section 16, passing families that reminded me of my childhood - minus the phones and selfies. I realized that hikers aren't generally rude - just completely oblivious to everyone else and that its super easy to get in over your head. (Flip flops? Skinny jeans? No food, no water, snakes everywhere?) I also saw that no matter how hard some cyclists try to nice, there some people that will go out of their way to be offended.

Coming down 666 - I didn't realize I had my personal photographer waiting for me!
The run-hike up High Drive wasn't much slower then riding as I decided that walking at 17:30 and being able to eat and drink instead of running at 13:00 was much smarter. After all, it's all about averages... My griddle cakes from Feed Zone Portables filled with chocolate, coconut and almonds were yummy. I was tolerating the hand held well and still making good time. It seems the middle of the trail is a great place to picnic, as I hiked up Buckhorn and interrupted two groups enjoy lunch - and I didn't even get offered a bite! The knowledge of the trails I have from hiking as a child and riding now was valuable to people too cheap to get their own maps. Yes, the top of Buckhorn is a long way from middle Columbine... And as I got further out, then numbers dropped yet the people got weirder. The snow is hanging on up high, with a few stretches of upper Jacks still covered. All the while, the miles ticking by and the time slipped over that magic number 12:00. Could I maintain that average with all the climbing and descending and still have the legs to run when I hit the regional trail in Bear Creek? I was worried about that as I ran down High Drive - my quads were feeling the run and the ride of the day before. I was under 12 as I started up Stephanie's and determined to keep it there.

A cool action shot from Nick - the bridge and creek are clear, but I'm fuzzy with movement
They all say that you should have no goals other then to finish the first time around. While that's reasonable, I think it sells you short. You can set goals based off training and history - as long as that training mimics the course you're racing. And so I've set goals. Perhaps unachievable, but it wouldn't be the first time. And as Lazarus Lake says -"If you're going to face a real challenge it has to be a real challenge. You can't accomplish anything without the possibility of failure." Setting goals allows for the possibility of failure and my goals resolve around that magic number - 12:00. Five miles per hours - 10 hours of moving time...

May 2, 2016

Lessons on foot

After finishing the Chyenne Mountain Trail Run 50k, I was filled with mixed emotions. First being - wow, I just finished that - running 31 miles or almost all the way to Pueblo. Then second - oh crap, I still have 20 miles to go! I know the mentality of approaching Sheep Mountain will be very different then this race because of the elevation and the distance. But the lessons in a 50k are still quite applicable for the 50m

1) shoes are a given and I have time to get the perfect pair and make sure they are broken in but not broken down. But will that perfect pair still be perfect at mile 40? Should I have another pair in a drop bag?

2) socks - wool socks were the ticket for this race - my swiftwick Pursuit zeros made my feet happy. Even with a raw spot on my heel from my shoes, my socks keep my feet happy. With several stream crossings, the wool will once again be key at Sheep Mountain. So the only question there is the zeros that I normally run in or perhaps the ones? The slightly taller socks might reduce the risk of having pebbles in my shoes. 

3) drop bags - I actually had a bag packed with spare socks, a different shirt and some goodies. I was planning on stopping. But I was carrying food and had enough liquid in my pack to make it around the course again and race circumstances precipitated me not wanting to stop. I'm not gonna be able to pull that off at the 50m so I really need to sit down and think about that I want and need in those bags. 

4) my pack - I'm wearing my Osprey Rev 1.5 for sure. It's super comfortable and with just enough storage. The bladder carries enough - I won't need to fill it up completely. But will I get tired of the same thing to drink the entire time? I was really happy to have the aid stations with cups of water at CMSP. I worry about not having cups ( a much greener idea) or wanting to have something different. I have a really nice little handheld that I'm planning on using for the Meowler. I'm debating that as well, with the knowledge that I might have to toss it in the pack for awhile.

5) food - Always the great question - what will my stomach tolerate for 12 hours? The gummies, my rice bar, and waffle were good but will it be enough? Or should I really not worry about it and hope that the aid stations are the smorgasbord I've heard about? And hope that it's something I'd want to eat. With the drop bags, I don't need to carry an entire race worth of food either. But I like having that one or two extras with me. Just in case...

6) bad weather gear - the one thing about my little pack - there's not much room for oh shit gear. Thin hat, gloves inside and a rain jacket strapped to the outside. That's not a lot if things go south like they so quickly can in the Colorado Mountains - just enough to get me to an aid station - I hope. And yes, I can put more layers in the drop bags. But that doesn't do me much good between resupply points.

So much to think about and play with in my upcoming long runs. And July will be here before I know it. 

Apr 30, 2016


Last year, something new was added to the Growler family of events - the Meowler bike-run-bike duathlon. Ride out to the base of Skull Pass, drop the bike for a running tour of Aberdeen, then finish out the rest of the Growler loop. It sounded like fun, a different kind of challenge - but I was already committed to the Full Growler and the Meowler was on the same day. So there was no way I could do both. I also figured that until I didn't want to do the Full Growler, I wouldn't be able to do the Meowler. To my surprise, this year the Growler and Meowler were separated, with the Growler on the traditional Memorial weekend and the Meowler now the week before with the Sage Burner Trail runs. It would be possible to do both if I wanted to. That seemed like a lot of racing and a lot of travel, so I again put the Meowler on the back burner. My focus would be on the Growler, like it had been for the past few years.

Then my mother brought up traveling to do a marathon with her the weekend after Growler. Not the best time for a marathon, but that got me thinking. With all the running I've been doing, this would be the perfect year to try my hand at the Meowler. With the Sage Burner the day before the Meowler, there was a good chance that she would be interested in that. It was a 50k/25k trail run - something that she would be able to do.  Maybe... 

And yes. Time to change up my training just a little! Still doing the running workouts and the bike workouts for my individual races - Growler and Sheep Mountain - but modifying the schedule just a little so my single sport legs are ready for a multisport event. In addition to that, there's the logistics of the race to practice. Like carrying my running shoes and running gear - which pack? Everything fits in the Rev 6, but does the Rev 12 ride better? There's only one aid station on the run - do I need a better, more comfortable hand held in case it's a hot day? Which also means getting used to running with a hand held, something I'm not that good at. And the most basic of multisport things - comfort running in my cycling clothes! It's a fairly long run, but I need to get back on the bike right way, so some Tri-tricks won't work at all.  So many things to think about and prepare for! It's going to be a different challenge and something new. Here I thought I was done with multisport stuff...