Saturday, December 19, 2009

Unsolicited Opinion: US Men's mountain running performances of the year

As a fan of list and end-of-the-year retrospectives, I love end-of-the-year retrospectives that involve lists. I am going to add to the wide range of lists out there with one of my own.

USATF MUT has been recognizing the top mountain runner of the year since 1999 (and sometimes they even get it right) and Ultrarunning magazine publishes a more official performance list for the ultradistances with voting and everything but there is no acknowledgment or analysis (official or otherwise) of the many impressive performances for short distance (say, finishing time less than three hours) mountain races (by US men) out there.

Disclaimer: I have in the past been associated with the national team but this is just my list. It does not represent anything from USATF, the Teva USMRT, or any of my sponsors. I you do not agree with the order or feel that some performance was left out completely, leave a comment. I am always interested in other peoples' perception of high performance mountain running even if those people are wrong. Here is my shot at ranking what I saw as the top performances of the year; if you like, you can think of these are the performances that most impressed me over the past year. Let’s get on with it.

10. Eric Blake’s second place on The Hill
Lost in the excitement of an outstanding performance by the winner (see below) was the fact that Quadzilla’s second place finish in 1:01:19 is smoking fast and over a minute in front of USATF MROY, Joe Gray. …and to think, this is only Eric’s forth fastest time on The Hill.

9. Matt Carpenter's ninth PPM win
Not only did the 44-year-old Matt C. win the marathon, his split time to the top was faster than the winner of The Ascent from the previous day. I would be surprised by this considering that The Ascent generally attracts a pretty good field except for the fact that this is the sixth time that Matt has run the fastest ascent time of the weekend during the marathon. Awesome.

8. Tim Parr’s win at Cheyenne Canon
The second of two national team selection races had a pretty good field (including the future 13th place finisher at the WRTC and Timmy came off of a few years of poor performances for a big win and a spot on his third national team.

7. Joe Gray’s win at Cranmore
This race had the quality field that you would expect at a race that was the USATF National Mountain Running Championship and one of two national team selection races and Joe Gray beat the lot of them.

6. Matt Carpenter’s win at the Native Eyewear 10K Spring Runoff
The day after he ran to second place in the Triumph Development Vail Pass Half Marathon (which, at 4% average grade, does not qualify its participants for consideration on this list), Carpenter smoked a smokin’ field at this minor diversion from all of the real outdoor sports at the Teva Mountain Games. Considering that he beat Rickey Gates and Joe Gray who would respectively break one hour on The Hill and win the USATF Mountain Running Championship later that month (both of whom also ran the ½ marathon on the previous day), this was a very impressive performance indeed.

5. Bill 'Rickey' Gates 5th place at Grossglockner Berglauf
Rickey’s 1:13:09 was even faster than his 1:13:38 from the previous year in this race up the highest peak in Austria. This is one of those performances that may not sound all that impressive (wow, 5th place in a race that I have never heard of, I can hear someone saying in the background…). Trust me, this was some fast $&#@.

4. Joe Gray’s 16th place at the WMRC
This is where the performances start to get really good. Joe had a fine season (good enough for his second USATF MROY award) and this was certainly his top race in 2009. 16th at the WMRC- in a field that was almost certainly the best ever for an up and down year is also some fast $&#@.

3. Andrew Bedford’s 13th place at the WMRC
Andy made a huge improvement from 12th junior in Bursa (2006 WMRT) to make his first senior national team with a second place at the Cheyenne Canon Mountain Race. He then made another substantial leap forward with a 13th place in this year’s WMRC (see comments above). Such a high place from someone so young makes me optimistic regarding the chances of the US men returning to the WMRT/C podium in the near future. I do not know what he and his coach are doing over in Richmond, but whatever it is, I hope that they keep it up!

2. Bill 'Rickey' Gates 4th place at Sierre-Zinal
Rickey’s 2:38:52 was the fastest that any US man has run on this course since the great Pablo Vigil won the race in 1982 (one of his four wins). To finish well at Sierre-Zinal, you have to be able to handle long steep climbs, fast running at (moderate) altitude, and ridiculous, technical descents. Sierre-Zinal is the best mountain race in the world and 4th place there is good enough for second on this list.

1. Bill 'Rickey' Gates running up The Hill in 59:58
I debated with myself for a while about some of the other positions on this list. I am still not sure if Rickey’s S-Z is better than Andrew’s WMRC. I am, however, sure that Rickey’s sub-60 on The Hill is the best performance by a US man in 2009. I do not feel the need to elaborate.

There it is. Was sub-60 tops in your estimation? Is 4th at S-Z better than 13th at the WMRC? What else belongs on this list? King’s win at the Xterra Trail Running "World Champs"? Joe Gray's 6th place at Skaala? Matt Carpenter's win at The Barr? Michael Spence's win at the USATF Trail 10k nats? Some other performance?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My apartment featured in Budget Traveler

Recently, Budget Travel Magazine named my current residence of Lexington, Virginia as one of "America's Coolest Small Towns".

No, my luxurious 250 square-foot efficiency apartment is not actually featured in the magazine, but my apartment windows can be seen in the photo used for the article (my windows are on the top floor of the third building down the street above the 'Art' sign). The picture was taken before I moved in- the 'Art' sign is no longer there and, of course, do not own an air conditioner unit.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My First Virginia Bear Sighting

Yesterday, I was out riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway on the climb from the James River to Apple Orchard Mountain. It is a good climb with an average of 5.1% grade for 12.5 miles. I was almost to the top when I saw a bear (artist's rendition to the right). It was small but really fat (probably due to seasonal hyperphagia). When the bear saw me it tore up a steep slope (60%) and dislodged some rocks which came crashing down onto the road right where I was standing (by this time, I had stopped and I actually had to move get out of the way of the falling rocks). After I made it to the top of Apple Orchard Mountain (the highest point on the BRPW in Virginia), I came back past the spot and there was a “Beware of Fallen Rocks” sign right in front of the fallen rock! This is my 6th lifetime bear sighting and, as the title of the post suggests, my first in VA. I have also seen bears in ID, MT, CO, MA, and VT. Oddly, I have seen bears in six different states and I have never seen more than one bear in a single state. This is also my first bear seen while cycling. The others where all encountered while hiking (ID and MT) or running (CO, VT, MA).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Place Name as Metaphor: Suck Mountain

I am fascinated by place names and, as someone who has run many painful miles on Paine Mountain (Northfield, VT), I appreciate a good toponym metaphor. My new favorite place name as a metaphor...

I can across it while producing this map for one of my labs... (Look in the southwest corner of the map to see my new favorite name for an intrusive body)

Suggested usage: example 1- I ran great in my last marathon for the first 22 miles, after that, I was just climbing Suck Mountain; example 2- My original plan of 20*400 meters on the track quickly decayed into hill reps up Suck Mountain.
Author's personal experience: I have not literally been to Suck Mountain (though I have been close enough to see it from an opposing ridge), I have metaphorically been to Suck Mountain many, many times (pretty much anytime that I race).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Training Update 18

Monday O19: AM 1:15 running- Forest Park in Portland- true fartlek- felt good

Tuesday O20: 3:58 cycling- back to Lex from the Lynchburg airport- somehow, I still managed to need over an hour to get out of Lynchburg- that place is like navigation kryptonite to me. I basically ended up doing another tour of the city! This time, though, it was a beautiful day for cycling. For the rest of the way, I was really tired and just pushed through to Lex and went to bed early.

Wednesday O21: 2:35 cycling- around the Valley and Ridge looking at field sites for tomorrow's lab

Thursday O22: 0:59 running- around campus in the dark- hit the back campus trails to 'practice' running on trails with a headlamp since I have not done it in a while- I was originally planning on doing a headlamp workout but decided against it because I was just too tired

Friday O23: PM 0:40 running- around campus in the dark and to the G-store
Saturday O24: PM 3:39 cycling- Lex to Explore Park (near Roanoke) PM 1:59 running- 60 min WU, 4.15 mile trail race (Into the Darkness) in 27:25, 32 min cooldown PM 1:20 cycling- from Explore Park up the BRPW to a camping spot in the Jefferson National Forest

Sunday O25: AM 3:50 cycling- to Holcomb Rock to look at some rocks- very cold at first PM 2:24 cycling- back to Lex from Holcomb Rock- felt really close to bonking for most of the ride.

Weekly Totals: 4:53 running (22% of total) 17:46 cycling (78% of total) Total: 22:39

Comments: My best week in a while. OK, a poor week with a really good weekend. Interestingly, all 17:46 of the cycling that I did was utility cycling! I also did my first race in a while and did a lot of riding. I will get the race report out in a few days… For now, one of my favorite local road signs...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Training Update 17

Monday O05: PM- 1:31 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail- steady

Tuesday O06: AM 3:29 cycling- up Irish Creek to the BRPW, back on 60

Wednesday O07: PM 1:38 running- back campus then athletic fields and strides on track after dark- strides felt pretty good

Thursday O08: PM 1:35 running- back campus then athletic fields and strides on track after dark

Friday O09: PM 1:02 running- back campus

Saturday O10: AM 1:05 running- back campus

Sunday O11: AM 1:05 running- back campus

Weekly Totals: 7:52 running (69% of total) 3:29 cycling (31% of total) Total: 11:21

Comments: Overall, a poor week. The running that I did manage to do was pretty good but toward the end of the week, I went into maintenance mode as I worked to get ready to leave for the GSA meeting.

Monday O12: PM 1:03 running- back campus

Tuesday O13: PM 1:30 running- back campus

Wednesday O14: 1:00 running- ran to the laundromat then ran out while doing a load, ran back to my apt then added on to make it an hour. I had spent about a month looking (not very intensively) for a laundromat and I had finally found one that was a couple of mile away in the sprawly part of town that it pretty shitty for running. On the way home, I ran past another laundromat that is about two blocks from my apt (but on a street that I has not been down before)!

Thursday O15: AM 4:50 cycling- from Lex to the Lynchburg airport- hammered over the Blueridge and was making excellent time and then got hopelessly lost in Lynchburg. My planned route had taken into consideration the fact that the airport traffic is served primarily but the Lynchburg Expressway (a limited access highway where bicycles are prohibited). On the ground, I encountered the limited access road sooner than expected and I tried to make due. I knew that I was on the West side of town and that the airport was on the SE. I somehow did an entire tour of L-burgh and added at least 2:30 onto my ride! I have never in my life been so navigationally helpless! I do not know if it was the lack of sleep (I capped off two nights of getting to bed after 3:00am with a night with zero sleep) or the weather (raining- no sun or mountain views for navigation), or the layout of the town it self. One thing is for sure, L-burgh is a shitty place to ride a bike. PM 0:31 running- I missed my connection in ATL and had to spend the night in an Airport near the airport. I was wicked tired but my hotel did not have any room service and I had not eaten anything but airline peanuts in over 13 hours so I headed out to find a bite to eat. My hotel was surrounded by runways, freeway infrastructure, and check-cashing establishments. I ran about 15 minutes to a Checkers (I think that is what is was called) where I was aggressively (but congenially) propositioned (I think that is what you call it) by a pimp while waiting for my food.

Friday O16: 2:51 running- out and back on the Wildwood trail in Portland, Oregon's Forrest Park- Awesome- felt good for about 2:20 and then the travel, lack of sleep, stress caught up with me

Saturday O17: AM 0:31 running- around the streets of Portland in the dark

Sunday O18: AM 0:29 running- from my hotel to the Oregon Convention Center +

Weekly Totals: 7:55 running (62% of total) 4:50 cycling (38% of total) Total: 12:45

Comments: A poor week with two really good days. My ride to the airport- through really stressful was a great workout and the run the next day in the park was fantastic The photo to the right is of the (lack of a) peak of Mount Saint Helens. For most of the day, the view was obscured by the low-lying clouds- this was the brief break that allowed for a view of the caldera.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Upcomming Races

Since April of 2008, I have raced a whopping four times
Allen Park Memorial Hillclimb, Vermont October, 2008
CTS Cheyenne Cañon Time Trial, Colorado July, 2009
Cheyenne Cañon Mountain Race, Colorado July, 2009
CTS Sand Creek Series Race 3, Colorado August, 2009

OK, so I am no Bernie and I never will be but I am going to be racing a couple of times in the next several weeks. Here is a preview of the prestigious events that I have planned for the rest of the year. I will be keeping it low key for the rest of 2009 while I get back full strength before (hopefully) hitting a more aggressive race schedule in 2010.

Saturday October 24th Into the Darkness 4 Mile Night Trail Run Roanoke Metro, VA

This sounds like fun. It is a trail race. It is at night. It is not too far away (~52 miles). I will probably bike in on the morning of, chill out all day, run the race and then head back along the Blue Ridge Parkway part way and stop to camp for the night (I do not want to ride back the entire way in the dark). The race course is a mixture of singletrack specifically designed for mountain biking, fire roads, and gravel roads. I do way too much of my running at night and have done quite a bit of headlamp-assisted trail running at night as well. It will be interesting to see how that translates over into racing with a headlamp...

Sunday October 25th Hospice Hustle 5km, Lexington, VA

This is the day after Into the Darkness but it is not until 2:30pm, the course sounds like fun, and Hospice programs are certainly worthy of my support (in the form of my entry fee- not in the form of my celebrity running presence). Speaking of the course, it starts by the hospice in Lexington, heads through town (downhill) to Jordans Point park where it gets on the Woods Creek Trail and heads back uphill through campus (about one half of the course is on the trail) I will probably not make it out to this one but if I do not race Into the Darkness, I will definitely race here.

Saturday October 31 Living Waters 5K Race Lexington, VA

This race starts and ends at Jordans Point Park in Lexington which means that it will probably run out and back along the Woods Creek Trail- which is not a bad thing. According to the race information, the tiny $5.00 entry fee will go to support installation of water purification systems in Guatemala. If I do not go to race, I will at least go to volunteer as I am teaching a water resources course for the winter semester and I would like to speak with some of the people involved in the Maury River Mission Community.

Saturday, November 14 Domino's 50th Annual Lexington to Buena Vista 10K Lexington, VA

This is the oldest road race in Virginia (we are definitely not in New England any more) and one of the two big endurance contests in the area (the other being a road run - road bike - kayak or canoe - trail run quadrathlon called the Lexington Road & River Relay in May). As you may have discerned from the event title, the race begins in Lexington a few feet from my apartment, runs the hilly-but-flattest-road-around-here and scenic four-lane divided highway called Route 60 to Buena Vista.

Friday, October 9, 2009

GSA National Meeting

I am headed for the national annual meeting of the Geological Society of America GSA this weekend out in Portland (the western one). This is one of the two big meetings in the USA for people that study the Earth- the other being the even bigger December meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). I will be presenting a poster on what I believe to be the most interesting facet of the rocks that I have been studying for the past several years (peridotites from Nintyone Mile Creek Canyon in the Upper Granite Gorge of the Grand Canyon.) The nice thing about presenting a poster (as opposed to giving a talk) is that once the printing is done, you can sit back and relax (instead of worrying about and working on your talk). Granted, getting the poster together was exhausting but the finished product looks pretty good (that's the sound of me patting myself on the back) aside from the printer's unfortunate reinterpretation of some of my dashed lines- very odd.

Portland should be fun- I have Friday off from any official duties and I am going to relax, go to Powell's, and go for a run in Forest Park. Forest Park is reputed to be one of the world's great urban running experiences and, though I have been to Portland many times, my visits have either been for the purpose of attending a race (no need to run in the park) or using the airport (no opportunity to run in the park). My hotel is close by- not by accident.

Saturday, we headed up to Mount St. Helens for the day- also something that I have not been able to do before. Sunday, is my poster session so that will, of course be the focus of the day. Monday, I will be in meetings all day before catching a red-eye for parts East.

Course Records

A few days ago, doubleD noted on his blog that he had set 146 course records (CRs) of which 17 remain (see posts here, here, here, and here). As someone who has, for the past decade or so, committed my efforts to endurance events where comparisons between courses (PRs) are not particularly helpful, I really like CRs because they provide a means through which you can measure yourself against an event and its history. I did not count snowshoe races "CRs" as CRs because the conditions can vary so much from year to year that it is difficult to make comparisons of speed across a temporal section. While I certainly do not keep the comprehensive/ exhaustive/ meticulous records that doubleD does, here are the CRs that I have and have had from my record and off of the top of my head.

1999 McDonald's Forest 15K, Corvallis, OR (52:47, old CR 55:06, Eric Reed)
1999 Elephant's Perch Backcountry 16.5 Mile Sun Valley, ID (1:43:35, old CR 1:46:35, Carl VanCalcar)
1999 Mount Hood Ski Bowl Scramble Mount Hood Metro, OR (41:44, old CR 48:05 some guy)
2000 Salmon Run 10km, Bend, OR (31:11 new course)- probably subsequently broken
2000 Otley Chevin Fell Race, Otley, England (17:10, old CR Mick Hill 17:14)- subsequently broken by the legendary Ian Holmes
2000 Erringden Moor Fell Race, Mytholmroyd, England (58:14, old CR???)- probably subsequently broken
2001 Mt. Toby Trail Run Sunderland, MA (1:25:11, old CR ??? by ???)- subsequently broken by Michael Page (1:24:32) then Ryan Carrera (1:23:26)
2002 adidas 7sisters trail race Amherst, MA (1:43:17, old CR 1:46:xx by Matt Cull)
2003 Nike ACG 10k Beaver Creek, CO (42:19, new course)- tie with Simon Gutierrez- race no longer run
2003 Northfield Mountain Race Northfield, MA (national team trial race) (50:05, new course)- subsequently broken by (the infamous) Josh Ference-the first of three courses to be used for the 'Northfield' race
2003 Talking Turkey 6 Mile XC Race Holyoke, MA (30:04, old record 30:09? by Sandu Rubenic)- subsequently broken by Nate Jenkins (and others)
2004 Monson Memorial Classic Monson, MA (1:09:58, old record 1:10:26 by Byrne Decker)- current record 1:07:50 by Alene Reta (2006)
2006 7sisters trail race Amherst, MA (1:42:06, old CR 1:43:17 by Paul Low)
2006 Tha Rivah Andover, MA (56:30, old CR 56:42 by Dave Dunham)
2006 Borderland 16 Mile Trail Run Eston, MA (1:46:22, new course)- race no longer run

So, my total is:
14 total (including the only time that I have broken my own CR- at 7sisters in 2006)
7 current (including 2 one-time races- both of which offered prize money and not including two races where I think the record has been subsequently broken)

The photo to the right is the only pic that I could find of me actually setting a CR. It was taken by Gary Bridgman at the 2003 Northfield Mountain Race

Finally, a winter sport more obscure than snowshoeing

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are probably familiar with the relatively obscure sport of snowshoeing (aka racket racing). If you were to rank competitive winter sports by how mainstream they are (in terms of overall popularity, media coverage, prestige of major titles, olympicness, et cetera) the list would probably look like this:

More mainstream
Downhill/freestyle skiing
Downhill/freestyle snowboarding
Figure skating (female and pairs)
Ice fishing
Drunken sledding (NCAA)
Cross-country skiing
Ice dancing
Ski jumping
Skeleton racing
Ice sculpting (chainsaw division)
Sasquatch wrestling
Figure skating (male)
Short-track speedskating
Drunken sledding (non-NCAA)
Ice sculpting (non-chainsaw division)
Snowshoe racing
Less mainstream

Recently, the folks blogging for Outside Magazine have posted a video of a new sport called cross-country snowboarding which promises to dethrone snowshoeing as winter's most obscure sport. The video is a pretty good way to spend three minutes of your day and the comments section needs more input from people who do not realize that this is a mockumentary.

Above: the largest event (Curley's 2004) in the most obscure sport (snowshoe racing) in the center of the snowshoe racing universe (western Mass)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Training Update 16

Monday S21: AM 1:07 cycling- Valley and Ridge

Tuesday S22: PM 1:31 cycling- out to Glenn Maury Park in BV to recce a field stop and back- hammered and felt good

Wednesday S23: PM 0:59 running- laps around the practice fields after dark

Thursday: S24: PM 1:01 cycling- Valley and Ridge- got caught in the dark (again)

Friday S25: PM 1:50 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail (dead flat) and some roads in Lex (got too dark to continue on the trail...)

Saturday S26: AM 2:34 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail- felt good for about 2 hours, rough for the rest

Sunday S27: AM 1:05 cycling- just felt like $%!# and turned back way prematurely

Weekly Totals:
5:23 running (53% of total)
4:04 cycling (47% of total)
Total: 10:00

Comments: Not a good week at all. No quantity (10 hours?!?), no quality and messed up sleep. I wonder how much more of this I can take before I develop a Paper Street-style psychogenic fugue. The image above is a screen shot from Google Earth of the view from the pavilion at Glenn Maury Park in BV

Monday S28: AM 1:46 cycling- Valley and Ridge

Tuesday S29: PM 1:01 running- laps around the practice fields after dark

Wednesday S30: PM 2:30 cycling- out to the BRPW, South to a stop for tomorrow's lab (just before the tunnel) and back- felt good and hammered

Thursday O01: PM 1:05 running- laps around the practice fields after dark- legs felt good

Friday O02: PM 2:29 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail- felt good for the first 1.5 and pretty rough for the last hour

Saturday O03: AM 3:23 cycling- Valley and Ridge- up Goshen pass- felt good PM 1:01 running- back campus- leg felt tired

Sunday O04: AM 1:18 cycling- out to the Belfast trailhead- easy 2:43 running- up Belfast Trail past Devils Marble Yard and to the AT, left (north) on the AT down to the James River and back, - a very good run with two big climbs PM 3:02 cycling- up Petites Gap Road to the BRPW, North to 60, back to Lex (started about 20 minutes after finishing my run)

Weekly Totals:
8:19 running (41% of total)
11:59 cycling (59% of total)
Total: 20:18

Comments: A decent week- kind of like a few weeks back, though with a carp week followed by a really good weekend (F,S,S made a nice "hard work sandwich"). I am still having trouble sleeping and this is still affecting my ability to get out for AM workouts. Not only am I missing morning workouts, but I had to do two runs after dark this week- not good. The highpoint of the week was my 2:43 run on the AT. I was planning on going for two hours because I had a lot of cycling planned (getting there and back) but when it came time to turn around, I was not too far from the James River. I decided that I wanted to get out to the river crossing before heading back so that I would have a nice, long climb back up to the ridge during the second half of the run. The trail through here is fantastic, coming off of the ridge on the way out, you catch nice glimpses of the James- after the leaves fall, there will be miles of great views. The image above is of the Devils Marble Yard (the white scar on the side of the mountain) from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Training Update 15

Monday A24: PM 1:02 running- 20 min WU, 3,2,1,3,2,1,3,2,1 hard with 2,1,1,2,1,1,2,1,1, easy- felt really good and knee felt pretty good, a promising run

Tuesday A25: AM 2:20 cycling- first ride on my new ride- a good time PM 0:33 running- out and back along the creek- felt not good

Wednesday A26: PM 1:10 running- Back Campus trails- felt ok

Thursday A27: PM 1:00 running- Back Campus trails- felt hot and slow

Friday A28: AM 1:11 running- Back Campus trails- felt good PM 2:02 cycling- out and back on 39- hammered the return trip

Saturday A29: AM 4:02 cycling- to the Blue Ridge Parkway, North along the parkway, then back- felt pretty good PM 0:54 running- Back Campus trail- knee felt good most of the time

Sunday A30: AM 2:24 cycling- to the Blue Ridge, 1:11 running- out and back on the AT south of the Lynchburg Reservoir- felt good despite the heat PM 1:51 cycling- back to Lex from the Blue Ridge

Weekly Totals:
7:01 running (36% of total)
12:39 cycling (64% of total)
Total: 19:40

Comments: An ok week with good consistency and a good workout on Monday and a good ride on Saturday. A good total for the week (although I really wanted 20 hours). The picture from this week is on the AT just south of the Lynchburg Reservoir (I saw it while out looking (unsuccessfully) for a certain formation of rocks that are no where near this location- I had left my map at home...

Monday A31: PM 1:02 running- Back Campus

Tuesday S01: PM 0:57 cycling- East of Lex

Wednesday S02: AM 2:13 cycling- east of town- had to hammer back in to be back in time for a meeting

Thursday S03: PM 0:52 cycling- east of Lex

Friday S04: AM 1:41 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail

Saturday S05: AM 4:24 cycling- up to the Blue Ridge and north and then back

Sunday S06: AM 1:02 cycling- out toward the Blue Ridge- felt so rough that I just tuned back in BV

Weekly Totals:
4:07 running (40% of total)
7:15 cycling (60% of total)
Total: 12:11

Comments: A rough week with my insomnia really taking a toll on my ability to get in my morning workouts and messing with my quality (when I do not get enough sleep, I seem to lose a lot of my strength…). This week's pic is from the underpass where RT-60 intersects the Blue Ridge Parkway. While I am not responsible for this act of graffiti, I do share the sentiment of its author.

Monday S07: AM 2:28 cycling- out to look at some phantom kimberlites and back felt good but my pedal was messed up PM 0:32 running- around campus

Tuesday S08: AM 0:47 cycling- errands around Lex on the Xootr PM 1:25 running- out and back on the Cassie Trail- felt really good and hammered

Wednesday S09: PM 1:02 running- two laps of the Back Campus Trails

Thursday S10: PM 1:02 running- on the Back Campus Trails

Friday S11: AM 0:59 running- around Back Campus

Saturday S12: AM 1:34 running- out and back on the Cassie Trail- felt ok

Sunday S13: AM 1:00 cycling- on the Xootr- headset is messed up.

Weekly Totals:
5:34 running (61% of total)
4:15 cycling (39% of total)
Total: 10:49

Comments: Even worse than last week with the sleep thing and my new bike broke- the pedal broke (more later when I write a review of how shitty the Crank Brothers MXR pedals are).

Monday S14: PM 0:58 cycling- Went out east of Lex with platform pedals on my new Moto- totally stripped out the crank by the end of the ride and had to walk it in in the final mile or so

Tuesday S15: AM 1:06 running- two laps around the back campus trails- felt pretty good

Wednesday S16: PM 0:59 cycling- around Lex- first day with the new cranks and pedals- got caught in the dark- damn you, fall.

Thursday S17: PM 0:56 cycling East of Lex

Friday S18: AM 0:54 running- Back Campus trails

Saturday S19: AM 4:06 cycling- up to the Blue Ridge and around and around PM 2:08 running- along the AT south to around the Lynchburg Reservoir- felt good

Sunday S20: AM 2:55 running- along the AT north to the top of Long Mountain- felt pretty good (while running pretty slowly) PM 2:10 cycling- back home over the Blue Ridge- felt tired and dehydrated!

Weekly Totals:
7:03 running (44% of total)
9:09 cycling (66% of total)
Total: 16:12

Comments: A bit better than the last two weeks with some really good stuff and the end of the week. Actually, a pretty crappy week except for a phenomenal weekend. My 2:55 run on Sunday was not the greatest but it felt good to get out on single track for almost three hours and my knee did not feel bad at all. This weeks pic is from the top of the Incline on the morning of the BTMR.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Preamble to A brief preview for the senior men’s team race… (below)

If you read my blog, you probably already realize that the biggest race on the mountain running planet is this weekend in Italy. The first ever World Mountain Running Championship (after 24 years of World Mountain Running Trophies) will go off on Sunday, September 6th. If you are unfamiliar, this is the race that most (not all) of the best mountain runners in the USA aim for as the big race of their season/career. Ever since I started racing on mountains back in 1998, up until knee problems got in the way of my being competitive, this was the most important race on my calendar and my goal for the last several of those years (starting in 2004) was to bring home a team medal. Medals go to the top three teams so they are quite difficult to come by- particularly since, as we will see below, the gold is usually reserved for the Italian team. From 2004 to 2007, the US senior men’s team was not able to finish on the podium though we were 'close' a few times. In 2004, every individual on our squad with four first-time team members ran well and we finished 8 (two points out of 6th and 27 points out of 3rd). In 2005, we improved to 6th (18 points out of third) but our team this time around had three athletes perform very well and three athletes perform poorly. Likewise, in 2006, we finished 5th (a healthy 52 points out of 3rd) with three athletes performing very well and three athletes performing poorly. In 2007, we fell back to 9th but, unlike back in 2004 where each individual on the team ran at or near their potential, only Payton ran what I would call a good race. I was the fourth and final scoring runner for both the 2005 and 2006 teams, and was in the poorly performing half of the team in both instances. In 2005, all that I would have needed was as fairly mediocre 30th place instead of my 50th for a spot on the podium; in 2006, however, I would have needed a 15th place- which would have tied my best finish (from 2003).

Since I feel fully responsible for our team’s failure to win a medal in Wellington and partially responsible for our lack of Bursa hardware, I was very excited when the senior men’s team finally won a medal in 2008. I knew that we (when I say ‘we’ I am referring to 'we' the American mountain running community) had a good team going into the race- Simon had two top ten WRMT finished on his cv and was running well, Joe and Rickey were posting excellent performances against established competition in Europe, and Eric always runs solid. Matt and Zac had run well on The Hill but you never know how well someone is going to run at their first worlds… For the first time since 2004, everyone on the men’s senior team ran at or near their potential at the 2008 WMRT. Rickey and Joe broke into the top-20 and Simon was the final scorer at 25th place! Over the past ten years, a place on the podium requires a team score of around 80 (4 runners averaging 20th place) and in 2008, things followed form with a score of 76 points good for 3rd place! (continue below)

A brief preview for the senior men’s team race at the World Mountain Running Championships, Campodolcino-Madessimo (Italy) September 6th 2009

Alternative title- US men face an up (and down) hill battle in their attempt to return to the podium

...continued from post above... This year, it will be interesting to see if our senior men’s team will be able to return to the podium. We have a very good team with talented individuals but the competition will be, well, nasty. Below, I will look at our some of the teams that have performed well in the past and see how our team stacks up. This meant as a preview for the race and not a prediction. I say this because I think that predicting the outcome of a race is not constructive- particularly since there will be an actual race outcome on Sunday and the only way to tell whether or not someone is faster on a mountain is to race on a mountain.

The favorites:

Italy: Italy has always been top dog at worlds. In 24 years, they have won 23 times and were 2nd only in 2006 (and, had Molinari not been left off of the team they probably would have won that one too). Based on their previous record… (do I really have to finish that sentence?). This year, as usual, their team, lead by Marco De Gasperi, is scary good. If you have not heard of De Gasperi, it is because you have not been following the sport at the international level. The highlights of his bio include four world trophy wins at the senior level and one win at the junior level (all in up and down years). Earlier this summer, he finished second at the European Mountain Running Championship. For those of you who are unaware, the World mountain race is up and down in odd years and uphill only in even years while the European Mountain Champs is opposite that (up and down in even years and uphill only in odd years). If De Gasperi, who is a good but not great uphill only runner is sufficiently fit to finish 2nd in an uphill only Euros’ watch out when the course heads downhill. Backing up (or finishing in front of- we will see on Sunday) De Gasperi will be Marco Gaiardo, the best Italian mountain runner never to win the WMRT. In seven trips to the WMRT and eight trips to Europeans’, his worst place is 11th To that consistency, you can add a WMRT medal in 2003 and two wins at Europeans’. The Dematteis brothers (Barnard and Martin) have run world cross (as junior) and Bernard has finished 5th, 5th, and 4th in the 2004, 2005, and 2008 WMRT and 2nd in the 2008 Europeans’ (the last up and down year) while Martin was 14th in 2004 and 3rd in 2005. Gabriele Abate will be running on his 6th senior squad and was 7th in the 2008 Europians', 20th in last year’s WMRT and 10th in the 2007 WMTR. Emanuele Manzi has five top-10 finishes at the WMRT with a 2nd in 2001 and Marco Rinaldi, running in his 4th WMRT/C (best finish 6th in 2001) rounds out the Italian squad as the third fastest guy named Marco. Really, the race is theirs to lose.

Eritrea: Unlike Italy, where I could provide a bit of information about each of the shockingly fast individuals that comprise the team, I know nothing about any of the individual runners from Eritrea. What I do know that since 2004, Eritrea has scored a team in the senior men’s race three time and their worst place has been second. They are also the only team to win this race other than Italy (see comment above). Given their brief history at the event, I cannot imagine that they will run poorly and I will certainly expect to see them in the top-5.

Uganda: This is the first year that Uganda has fielded a full team in any of the races and on paper, this team is pretty good (and by pretty good, I mean that the team has the best distance runners in a country with some really good distance runners). Martin Toroitich was second in last year’s WMRT and has run world xc (29th and 2008 and 10th in 2007). He ran the 10k at the world track champs this year and has run 62:19 for a half-marathon. Moses Aliwa was 15th in last year’s WMRT and 13th in 2008, was 20th in world cross in 2007, 49th in 2008 and has run 62:50 for the half-marathon. Geoffrey Kusuro won the WMRT junior race in 2007, was 19th at world cross in 2009, ran at the2009 world track champs, and has a pr of 13:18 in the 5k. Simon Ayeko is a 8:18.04 steeplechaser, has run world cross twice (55th in 2008 and 46th in 2006) and also ran at the world track champs. James Kibet has run world cross twice (80th 2009 and 39th in 2007) and has run 62:07 in the half. With the runner-up from last year (Toritich) and a proven top-15 guy (Aliwa), it will be interesting how, what is essentially their national cross team will be able to step it up in the mountains. I am not usually the type who says, “so-an-so can run x for a 5km; therefore, they will crush in the mountains” but, holy crap, these guys are fast. I will be very interested to see how this team fares. They could win it or they could fill out the top-10.

Also gunnin’ for the podium: (in alphabetical order)

France: France last won a team medal in the senior men’s race in 2005 (3rd). Since then, they have had three consecutive 4th place finishes. I know that every team mentioned here wants a spot on that podium but holy $%&, after three 4ths in a row… Raymond Fontaine has several top-10 WMRT finishes on his cv (including 2 individual medals), Julien Rancon has several top-15 WMRT finishes, Emmanual Meyssat was 15th at last year’s WMRT and has been running well in the Grand Prix, and the remainder of the team is tough as well.

Great Britain and Northern Ireland: With this being the first year of the World Mountain Running Championship, it is also the first year of GBR competing as a team. In the past, England, Scotland, Wales, and NI have all run individual teams. England alone has always been tough, and, despite a recent drought, has brought home many team medals over the years. This year, they are apparently deep enough to leave Jon Duncan (4th at Skaala) off of the team. I always thought that the best of England, Scotland, and Wales (NI is just tiny) would be a formidable team and this year, the team will (predictably) consist of 5 from England and 1 Scot. That 1 Scot is Joe Symonds who was 4th in the 2007 WRMT. His south-of-the-border teammates will include Adam Grice who was 5th in 2007, Billy Burns who has five top-10 finishes, a bronze from 2001, and a win at Sierre-Zinal, Simon Baily who was 11th in 2003, Nick Swinburn (33rd in 2007, 19th in 2006) and Adam Osborne (34th at Europeans). This is an experienced and talented team but one that needs everyone to run well to get a medal.

: Like the French, the Swiss have a very consistent history of running well as a team in this race in recent years. They are the defending silver medalists, were third in 2007, and 6th and 5th in 2006 and 2005. Two podiums in the past two years; that’s not bad. They return three athletes from the team that won bronze in 2007 (the last time that the race was up and down) and they are led by the very consistent Sebastien Epiney, (17th in 2008 and 8th in 2007) who is coming off of a 3rd in the 2009 Europeans and David Schneider (10th in 2008 and 22in in 2007).

Turkey: Turkey was 5th last year and has placed as high at 3rd in 2006 when they set up a two-month-long training camp at the Bursa WMRT site complete with assessor personnel (such as, but not limited to a chief!). The team is lead by Ahmet Arslan who is quickly becoming one of Europe’s top mountain runners. Arslan won the last three European Champs and was 3rd at the 2008 WRMT. Selahattin Seluk was 4th at the 2006 WMRT and, well, it’s four to score.

USA: This brings us to the senior men’s team for the United States of America… After a long history of excellent individual performances in the WMRT (Johnson, Dunham, Gall, Vigil), the US men began running well as a team in 2004. We had reasonably good performances from 2004 to 2006, had an off year in 2007 and won bronze in 2008. Four of the athletes from that 2008 team are back this year with Eric Blake and Simon Gutierrez (who is officially retired from downhill running) missing. Everyone on the team has been to a world trophy before including Andrew Benford who will be running in his first senior men’s race after become the first US athlete (male or female) to make both the junior and senior teams. Rickey Gates, in his 4th trip to the WMRT/C in four years is the veteran of the team and Tim Parr will be running in his third WMRT/C after a few year hiatus. Matt Byne, Zac Freudenburg, and Joe Gray will all be running in their second WMRT/C but in their first up and down WMRT/C. While this is a deep team, Joe and Rickey are definitely the ones to watch. Rickey broke 60 minutes on The Hill this June (which is awesome) and then ran poorly a week later at Cranmore (the USATF Mountain Running National Champs). Joe ran ok on The Hill (3rd) and turned around to win Cranmore. Both runners have been in Europe for a while now and have raced well with Rickey running faster than (his excellent performance) last year at Heiligenblut and running an excellent 2:38 at Sierre-Zinal. Joe has bested Rickey and Rickey's Sierra-Zinal-weary-legs in their last two meetings at Skaala and Susa and I expect both of them to perform well this Sunday. Both are in potential top-10 shape and both could finish top-20 without running their respective best. Matt has been all over the place (geographically) winning the LaSportiva Mountain Cup Series. He ran well again on The Hill, finished a close third (9 seconds back) to Zac at Cranmore, and beat Simon Gute in the rarefied air of Nederland. In Simon’s defense, this was after his official retirement from downhill running. Before he ran 62:21 on The Hill last year, I had always thought of Zac as a long distance runner (due to his good performances at Jungfrau and the PPM a few years back). Since then, he has finished 36th in the WMRT and 2nd at a well-attended USA nationals in Cranmore. He also ran a few minutes faster at the PPA this year than in 2008 (albeit while getting crushed by Tim Parr). He is consistent and has the endurance to run well here. Tim Parr ran well at the WMRT back in the day (36th in 2005 and 38th in 2004) and he walked away from the competition at the Cheyenne Canon Mountain Race (where the common comment from spectators was that he looked as though he was not running all that hard). Three weeks ago, he won the PPA in 2:12:32 (a pretty good time) and two weeks ago, he won the Leadville 100. Timmy is definitely on fire and if he can recover from Leadville, he will run well. This is not a schedule that I would attempt and I wish Tim luck with it. Andrew made the team by snagging the second automatic spot at Cheyenne Canyon ahead of some pretty fast runners. He prepared specifically (and quite well) for the Cheyenne Canyon race and I expect that he has prepared for the WMRC with the same specificity and determination. I really have no idea how he will run and I look forward to seeing his (and everyone’s results).

So, the summary… The US senior men’s team has two studs (potential top 10ers) in Joe and Rickey, two solid guys in Matt and Zac (potential top 20ers) and two question marks* in Tim (Leadville legs?) and Andy (just plain young) *the phrase ‘question mark’ is not meant to be derogatory in any way; rather, it indicates that I really do not know how either of these guys will run- both have the ability to run very well on Sunday. All that it takes is for four men to put it together on the same day and run well. There are eight very good teams listed here and only three medals. This, of course means that many good teams will not make the podium! Sunday will be an interesting race… What do you think?

If you would like to know more about the team, please visit the Teva U.S. Mountain Running Team website

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Training Update 14

Monday A17: AM 1:43 cycling- rode out to my storage locker to get the lock and check out. Along the way, I managed to break one of my pedals. You would think that with a broken Crank Brothers pedal, you would not be able to pull up but your shoe/cleat would still sit nicely on top of the platform. Wrong. My right leg got a really good workout, though! PM 1:19 running- W&L XC course with 8*100m strides

Tuesday A18: AM 2:03 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail- felt pretty good

Wednesday A19: AM 0:56 running- W&L XC course PM 1:11 running- W&L XC course- knee felt good and then bad and then good again- 8*100m strides

Thursday A20: AM 1:43 running- out and back on the Chessie Trail with 3,2,1,3,2,1,3,2,1 hard zith 2,2,1,2,2,1,2,2,1 easy- my first speed workout in possibly a decade! I actually felt pretty good on this one and the cooldown was difficult which is always a sign that I paced a workout well! PM 0:29 running around campus

Friday A21: AM 0:10 running, 1:29 deep water running, 0:10 running- my first "run" in the Maury River- a most certain improvement over the pool!

Saturday A22: AM 0:58 running- W&L XC course PM 1:02 W&L XC course with 8*100m strides

Sunday A23: AM 2:20 running- I started out this run planning on river running (aquajoging) but my knee felt pretty good and so I decided to run instead (I to to the river and so the decision was made en route). 20 minutes into the run, my knee felt so bad that I decided to pack it in and run home. On the way back, the knee started feeling better and so I decided to add on a little bit to make it an hour but then I tried to do a road loop and ended up at 2:20. I felt good for the entire run (this ties my second longest run since early spring!) Later in the day, my knee felt like absolute shit- it was difficult to extend my leg entirely- very discouraging...

Weekly totals:
12:31 running (80% of total)
1:43 cycling (11% of total)
1:29 pool running (9% of total)
Total: 15:43

Comments: An interesting week in that the total workload (15:43) was quite low but the overall running was my highest in quite some time. Despite the higher amount of running, my knee was not noticeably worse- it still hurt, just not any more than last week. I also managed to get out for my first pool run since the spring semester. For this, I ran down to a park along the Maury River 10 min from my apartment where there is a dam pond and I knew that the river would be sufficiently deep for deep water running. This was really quite a good spot for DWR- I was able to "run" up river for 45 minutes and then came back in 44. There was no one on the river and the scenery was great (if you like trees and rocks), no one stole my running shoes, and no leaches (at least I have not found any yet.

The reason behind the higher than usual amount of running at the expense of cycling was because my bike (xootr) is not doing well. The headset is messed up and I lack the tools, knowledge, or combination of tools and knowledge to address the issue right now. On top of this, my pedal breaking at the beginning of the week really put the bike on the DL. To make things worse, I am unable to remove the good pedal from the crank. I actually left the house early Sunday morning with mismatching pedals (one crank bros' and one platform); I made it about three revolutions before realizing that is was a bad idea... Fortunately, I just got a new road bike (actually a cyclocross bike) and so next week, my cycling should be back on track.

The picture this week is a view of the White Mountains (NH) from the fire tower on Monadnock Mountain (VT). This should go without saying, but the picture does very little justice to the majesty of the actual view- particularly of the meandering Connecticut River below.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Training Update 13

Monday A10: AM 1:30 running- around Mount Snow (made it to the top) with K PM 0:37 running- up M&M North, back on Tom's trail with Ned

Tuesday A11: AM 1:35 running- up Mount Lincoln with Ned PM 1:03 cycling- up Gulf road, Meetinghouse road and back down on 202- HOT!

Wednesday A12: PM 1:01 running- back campus trails- felt predictably awful

Thursday A13: PM 0:59 running- out and back on the Maury River Trail

Friday A14: AM 1:00 running- back campus trail with a medium pack PM 0:50 running- out to my storage locker PM 0:32 cycling- back from my storage locker with a large duffel full of stuff

Saturday A15: AM 0:44 running- out to my storage locker AM 1:20 cycling- back from and then to and from my storage locker PM 1:02 running- back campus trails and 8*100m strides on the track

Sunday A16: AM 3:52 cycling- my first real road ride in VA- A very pleasant ride even with the very hot final hour!

Weekly totals:
9:18 running (58% of total)
6:47 cycling (42% of total)

Total: 16:05

Comments: I knew that this week would be a difficult one for training as it involved me moving my stuff and myself from Vermont to Virginia. The week started out alright (since going from southern VT to western Mass is really not that difficult) but then 11:00 on Tuesday night, I left for Virginia and drove through the night. I arrived in one piece the next day but I was pretty tired for a few days as a result. The added stress of the travel plus trying to find a place to live (I do now have a place to live) also detracted from both the quantity and quality of my workouts this week. The highpoint of the week was the ride that I did on Sunday morning. While it did get a little bit hot at the end (and I only have one water bottle holder!) but the route was great- rivaling the rides that I enjoy so much in Central VT and Western MASS! I am really looking forward to the road riding here in Rockbridge County and the local trail running, while not as extensive as I have been used to since leaving Mount Pleasant, is pretty good as well. A word about the heat... I was mentally prepared for the heat (in that I knew that it was going to be hot down here in the dirty, dirty south; however, my runs down here have really not been much worse than the runs that I did in B-town with Ned earlier in the week. There are also fewer biting insects here.

This weeks picture is of the exterior of my new apartment on Main Street in Lexington, Virginia taken from Google Street View. The two upper left-hand windows are mine. The store front below is undergoing renovations and I am not sure what the new store is going to sell.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Training Update 12

Monday A03: AM 4:04 cycling- mountain biking in Cheyenne Canyon- I suck at mountain biking PM 1:02 running- steady out and back in Williams Canyon- felt really good despite the past few days

Tuesday A04: AM 2:15 cycling- around Red Rocks PM 1:35 running- Williams, Waldo, Ute steady

Wednesday A05: AM 2:22 cycling- around Red Rocks PM 1:00 running- Out and back on Intemann

Thursday A06: AM 2:35 cycling- through Red Rocks and up to Cheyenne Canyon and back PM 0:52 running- up and down Red Mountain with K

Friday A07: PM 0:30 running- from the Burlington Airport to the Penske dealer PM 0:59 running- Paine Mountain loop (second half in the dark)

Saturday A08: AM 1:39 running- Paine Mountain PM 1:34 cycling- to and from Big Shaws

Sunday A09: AM 2:46 cycling- Moretowm Gap, Mad River, Roxbury Gap

Weekly totals:
7:37 running (33% of total)
15:36 cycling (67% of total)

Total: 23:13

Comments: ...a decent week considering the disruption caused but the first (and easiest) leg of my move. Next week will not be as good. My Monday run up and down Williams Canyon was absolutely spectacular and my final ride (for a long time?) in the Mad River Valley was very nice as well.

This week's picture is a stylized image of a purple trillium taken on Monadnock Mountain in Vermont (not to be confused with the more well-known Monadnock Mountain in Southern New Hampshire).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bill Gates 4th at Sierre-Zinal (OK, Ricky Gates 4th at Sierre-Zinal)

...let me be the first (on this side of the Atlantic) to congratulate Bill 'Rickey' Gates on his excellent performance at the 2009 Sierre-Zinal mountain race. For those of you who are unaware, S-Z is the top mountain race in the world. In order to perform well at S-Z, you must be a complete athlete! It requires runners to climb steep (1 mile vertical in the first 10 km) then run well on fast tracks (the European word for trails) at high altitude, and then run a tough decent into Zinal. 2:39 and change is the fastest that any USAian (I am specifically not saying American so as to exclude the ageless Ricardo) since the (correct me if I am wrong) great Pablo Vigil.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Race Report: Camichael Training Systems Sand Creek Series Race 3

With my knee slowly coming back into running condition, I have been riding my bike quite a bit and over the past few weeks, I have added some mountain biking into the mix as well. When K told me (on Wednesday) about a local race on a Saturday (August 1st) that we were in town, I was interested in giving it a try. I looked into the course (the Falcon Trail at the Air Force Academy) and most reviewers reported that it was relatively non-technical so that was a plus. We got to the race a little bit late (after leaving the house a little bit late) to find a long line at registration (with 30 minutes to race time). Thankfully, they moved the start time back 30 minutes and I managed to get in a few minutes of a warmup- but not a extensive a warmup as I could have used. 10-minutes before the race start, they called us up to the line in groups starting with the pro men and leading down from there. After we were lined up in the appropriate order, we sat around loosing the effect of our (in my case) already inadequate warmups. Groups went off in 2-minute intervals starting with Pro men, cat(egory) 1 19-29, et cetera. I was back in cat 2 30-39 along with about 10 other riders starting with 6 or so cat 2 19-29 riders.

After we (finally) took off, the course traveled up a slight uphill over a lane wide enough for 3-4 riders before heading onto the singletrack. I did not get a very good start (my competitors were hammering to get a good position) but I was not too worried because I did not really know where I should have been in the field anyway. I settled in to a comfortable pace right behind some riders who were going slower than I would have been going if I would have had an open track. I passed a few riders and then got passed back on a short downhill portion of the course. We traveled down through some rocky stuff and a few stream crossings before heading up for the major climb of the ~12.5 mile lap. I climbed well reaching the front of the cat 2 field (finally) before I flatted near the top of the climb.

#$%@! My tire just went flat (after the race I had a look at the tire and it had just split- no puncture). Pretty much everyone passed me back while I stopped to change it and I got back on the trail with the caboose of my category plus the cat 2 40+ and cat 3 (both of whom started with an additional stagger behind me). I then realized that I was at the top of the major climb and tried my best on the smooth but really twisty singletrack descent. On the second and smaller climb, I caught a few of the riders that had passed me and I even held a few of them off on the final descent to the finish. I went through the first lap and ditched my inner tube and one of my water bottles and headed out for my second lap. For the first small climb, I got caught behind my cycling opposite, he was slow but steady on the climbs, flowed over the rough stuff like water, and descended like a fast guy on a bike. I, on the other hand, slam up the hills, manage through the rough stuff and point it downhill and liberally apply the breaks. I finally got around my opposite and headed up the major climb for second time. I had a good climb and passed a few riders on the way to the top and had a good initial descent holding off the riders that I had passed though the top of the second climb. I was still flustered from my flat on the first lap but I was feeling pretty good about my riding at this point. I gambled a bit with my speed and had a minor crash then had another minor crash on a downhill switchback. This second crash managed to alter the function of my front brakes and I quickly unhooked them and sped off.

It took about 25 meters to realize how bad an idea this was and I stopped and quickly adjusted the brakes as best I could managing to make them functional but much more sensitive than before. This became an issue a few minutes later when I was speeding down a hill and I looked ahead to see that the trail turned to go around a tree. I applied the brakes an appropriate distance from the tree; however, in my haste, I pulled on the front brake without taking into consideration the new sensitivity. I locked and buried my front wheel in the loose gravel, launched over the handlebars, and faceplanted in the dirt. Luckily, no one was right behind me so I had time to check myself for catastrophic injury. Sensing nothing was terribly wrong, I got up, re-attached my visor, and got back on my bike. At this point, my race was over, I had about a mile to go and I got passed by four riders without any fight. I could feel my lip was fat, I had (lots of) dirt in my nose and when I would spit, the stuff that came out was really dark (I was hoping that it was dirt and not blood). I kept my speed under control and rolled through the finish line 8th out of 10 in the cat 2 30-39. After the finish line, I rode around for a few minutes looking for K before stopping to fix my bike and get a drink. Upon removing my helmet, I found that several of the vents were full of dirt (later, I would discover that my inov-8 racing t-shirt had a nice rip in it as well.) I found K, and we took off for Manitou post-hast.

Even though I did not race very well (getting caught behind other riders, crashing, having two mechanicals, riding poorly downhill), I am glad that I did the race. This was a trail that I think that I would really enjoy training on (either cycling or running) but I am just not ready to race on it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Training Update 11

Monday J27: AM 4:10 cycling- mountain biking above Chyenne Canyon PM 0:44 running- from Peter and Nora's on Intemann

Tuesday J28: AM 6:00 cycling- from Manitou to DIA with K- rode pretty easy but this is still a long time in the saddle

Wednesday J29: AM 4:00 cycling- out and back on the New Santa Fe Trail PM- 1:00 running- out and back on Intemann

Thursday J30: AM 1:01 cycling- easy around the GOG PM 1:01 running- out and back in Williams Canyon

Friday J31: AM 1:03 running- out and back on Intemann PM 1:15 cycling to and from Pro Cycling

Saturday A01: AM 2:50 cycling- 25 mile mountain bike race in 2:16 with a short warm up and cooldown PM 0:38 running- easy out and back in Williams Canyon with Gute

Sunday A02: AM 2:30 running- up Barr Trail with Gute- ran to about 1.5 miles to go and then seriously bonked- stopped the watch and just walked

Weekly totals:
6:56 running (26% of total)
19:16 cycling (74% of total)

Total: 26:12

Comments: It was an interesting week with a great day of mountain biking on Monday (4+hours) followed by a 100-mile road ride on Tuesday and a 4-hour ride on Wednesday. Wednesday pm, K e-mailed me a link about a mountain bike race at the Air Force Academy and I decided to do it. I took Thursday and Friday relatively easy and rode hard on Saturday (and have the scars to prove it!). The most notable workout of the week was my (attempted) run up Pikes Peak on Sunday. I started at 7:30 with Gute and pMax at a pretty good pace. It was pretty warm at the bottom and I was sweating quite a bit (I sweat a lot when running uphill regardless of the weather). pMax peeled off at the top of the Ws and Gute and I charged on. My knee hurt a little bit for about a mile below Barr Camp but then worked itself out (magically). With about 3.5 miles to go, I let Gute go (I could no longer keep up) and then I ran pretty well to the 2 miles to go sign. With 2 miles to go, (this is still a long way to go on Barr Trail) I started to feel really rough and I was still passing hikers and other runners but I was slowing down quite a bit. With about 1.5 miles to go, I stopped my watch at 2:30 and stared walking- not speed hiking but walking. Slowly. It took me almost an hour to walk the rest of the way and many hikers passed me along the way! Even though I was walking quite slowly, it was still very difficult moving forward. I am not sure if my bonk was more the result of glycogen depletion or the high altitude (I am sure that both contributed) but I am sure that it was very, very humbling. Nevertheless, it was a good way to end a high-volume week and I am happy that I made it to the top of Pikes for my third time ever and my first time since 2003.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Training Update 10

Monday J20: AM 4:10 4:10 cycling- Granby to Berthoud pass (11,300') out on the Frasier to Granby Trail, back on 40- felt ok PM 0:32 running- flat Manitou loop following a long drive

Tuesday J21: PM 1:08 cycling- from Manitou to the top of Cheyenne Canon and back to the start of the mountain race PM 1:21 running- on the CMTR course with K

Wednesday J22: AM 2:20 running PM 1:40 cycling- to Bristol Brewing to meet up with a group ride (no one was there) so I rode up Cheyenne Canon and back down and when home

Thursday J23: AM 1:05 running- to Manitou High track, 8*100 meter strides with 100 meters rest, back home PM 1:01 cycling- mountain biking up and down Ute Trail (for the last time)

Friday J24: AM 0:30 running- flat Manitou loop PM 0:33 running- flat Manitou loop with Gute

Saturday J25: AM 0:38 running- with Gute along the river in CoSprings after his master's win in the Classic 10K PM 0:35 running flat Manitou loop with Gute- met up with MattC

Sunday J26: AM 1:42 running- 0:30 warmup; Cheyenne Canon Mountain Race in 54:23; 0:18 cooldown with RyanH PM 2:17 cycling- above Cheyenne Canyon

Weekly totals:
9:16 running (45% of total)
11:16 cycling (55% of total)

Total: 20:32

Comments: An interesting week for sure... It started out with a great road ride to Berthoud Pass and back and then progressed to the point that I decided to run the Cheyenne Canyon Mountain Race at the end of the week. My running during the previous week (up in Granby) had been pretty good and I thought that my knee could handle a mountain race without any (additional) permanent damage. The race did not go very well but I am glad that I did it. It was also good to take a few days easy (before the race) although I am not sure that it helped me very much for the three climbs of the race. A race report will follow shortly.

Training Update 9

Monday J13: AM 1:06 running- up and down Red Mountain with some additional out and back on Intemann trail PM 2:30 cycling- over to and out and back on the New Santa Fe Trail- a good ride aside from the horrible storm in the middle

Tuesday J14: AM 2:44 cycling- up to Divide "summit" and back down- felt rough and slow on the way up but I think that it may have been because I was riding into a strong headwind PM 1:21 running- around the Solvista Resort in Granby, CO- felt terrible at first but after I warmed up, I flet pretty good

Wednesday J15: AM 3:00 cycling around Granby, CO and then to Rocky Mountain National Park and back- felt pretty good but holy s$%# it was cold! PM 1:00 running- with K- slow

Thursday J16: AM 1:34 running- out and back on the Granby-Frasier trail- rolling felt good but my knee felt pretty bad afterword PM 2:18 cycling- out and back on the Frasier to Granby trail

Friday J17: AM 1:24 cycling- from Granby toward Tabernash on 40, around the YMCA of the Rockies, back on the dirt roads behind Sol Vista PM 1:10 running

Saturday J18: AM 1:35 running- on the nationals xc course partially with K PM 1:26 cycling- around Granby and Sol Vista with a good climb at the end- felt pretty good

Sunday J19: AM 1:03 running- up and down one of the Sol Vista Ski hills- felt ok PM 2:51 cycling- 40 to 125 and back- felt good

Weekly totals:
8:49 running (35% of total)
16:13 cycling (65% of total)

Total: 25:02

Comments: ...another very good week with some hilly running and some good cycling in there as well. I managed to get in two workouts every day despite a packed schedule helping K at the USAC National Mountain Biking Championships. We were staying at ~8,000 feet and everything that I did was up from there so that was good. I feel like I am pretty much acclimated to medium altitude. My knee felt OK when I was able to treat it properly (ice and stretch post run) and felt pretty rough on the day that I ran, did not ice, and then sat at a desk for a while. No single workout stands out as being the highlight of the training week but the final ride of the week (out and back on 125) was great- an absolutely beautiful road ride with low traffic and only a little bit of hail.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Race Report: Carmichael Training Systems Cheyenne Cañon Time Trial

On Saturday, July 11, I rode the Carmichael Training Systems Cheyenne Cañon Time Trial (CTSCCT). This is my second bike race ever and also my second uphill time trial ever. My first was the Allen Park Memorial Hill Climb last fall in Irasville, VT (traveling up the Appalachian Gap) where I finished 9th overall in a small field riding my Swift Folder. The CTSCCT is a little bit bigger of a race and, having been on my bike quite a bit this spring and summer, I was a little bit better prepared (plus, I have ridden the course a total of five times prior to the race). The course description from the race's official website is a follows:

Starting at the corner of N. Cheyenne Cañon Road and W Cheyenne Blvd. This challenging hill climbs 3.1 miles to the top of Cheyenne Cañon reaching the flat dirt parking lot at Gold Camp Rd. The total elevation gain is approximately 1,250 feet. The course follows N Cheyenne Cañon Rd. with no road changes. The final 1000 meters is a constant 10% grade.

So, that makes it 7.6% average grade over 5km which is not terribly steep but certainly challenging enough. I seeded myself at 19:34 which was exactly two minutes faster than I had ridden in my fastest training ride (riding pretty hard during my second of two reps). My seeding did not take into consideration the fact that K brought home a faster race bike for me the day before the race. That's right, instead of riding my 20"-wheeled folding bike, I would be racing on a hand-me-down Specialized S-works carbon fiber bike with Shimano Dura-ace componenets. The rig was a bit banged up but was wicked light and fit well after a few adjustments on the morning of the race. I do not remember very much about the race. I pretty much went all out from the start, passing several riders (the race was staggered at 30-second intervals). I think that I paced myself pretty well with maybe a little bit too much effort in the first half of the race.

The race was won in 13:38 by Garmin Slipstream's Tom Danielson who missed his own "course record" (in quotes because it was set during practice) of 13:34. If you have not heard of Danielson, he is one of (if not) the best climbers in the nation. He has the CR at the other Mount Washington race (49+ minutes) which is ~1 minute faster than Tyler Hamilton's old record. Lance Armstrong (a reasonably good cyclist) has also ridden this course in just over 14 minutes. I finished well back in 18th with a 16:28. This was good for 1st in my division, the utterly arbitrary 35+ category 4 (I was the 7th fastest 35+ rider in the race). All in all, it was a fun race and it would have been tough to pass up given nature of the race and its proximity to K's apartment. Post-race was great too with the awards ceremony at the new (and massive and beautiful) Carmichael Training Systems building. There were great beverages (gratis with no line!?!) from Bristol Brewing and some as great food (gratis with a long line) as well and the racers that I met there were genuinely friendly people.

...also, I have to add the new CTS building to my growing list of places without appropriate dedicated bicycle parking...

Training Update 8

Monday J06: AM 1:56 running- from USAC to Manitou through the GOG- felt ok throughout despite the heat (longest run since the post-post surgery flare-up PM 1:11 cycling- around the GOG

Tuesday J07: AM 2:16 cycling- to Cheyenne Canyon, up and down the 5km climb twice (1st time in 22:55, 2nd time in 21:34) PM 1:04 running- out and back on Intemann trail- felt pretty good

Wednesday J08: AM 2:13 cycling- to Cheyenne Canyon, up and down the 5km climb twice (this time, I did not time myself- I did not want to push myself too hard) PM 1:00 running- up and down Williams Canyon

Thursday J09: AM 0:29 cycling- to Cheyenne Canyon AM 1:06 running- Cheyenne Canyon Mountain Race Course with RyanH AdamR + 2 24:27 for the runout and the first lap, 18:17 for the second lap, and 23:55 for the third lap and run in. 0:37 cycling- back to Manitou

Friday J10: AM 1:05 cycling- very easy around the GOG

Saturday J11: AM 3:00 cycling- 1:00 warm up to and around Cheyenne Canyon, Carmichael Training Systems Cheyenne Cañon Time Trial 3.1 miles with 1,250 feet of elevation gain averaging 7.6% grade in 16:28, 1:20 cycling cooldown and then 20 minutes back home from the awards venue. PM 0:30 cycling- to and from Peter and Nora's- easy

Sunday J12: AM 2:23 running- 0:07 warm up up Ruxton, incline in 21:50 (slow), 0:05 cool down at top of incline, waited for the BTMR gun to go off at 7:00 and then ran from the top of the incline to Barr Camp in 40something minutes, took splits for the BTMR and then ran down (easily and carefully) in 1:10 PM 1:09 cycling- easy around the GOG

Weekly totals:
7:29 running (37% of total)
12:30 cycling (63% of total)

Total: 19:59

Comments: This was a good week with a low-key race thrown in to mix things up a little bit. The race (see related post) went well but the best workout was actually the next day when I ran hard up to Barr Camp (albeit with a long break in there) for the first time in, well, a while. I was volunteering for the Barr Trail Mountain Race and my job was to run to the top of the incline (at my leisure) and then wait for the gun to go off before I ran over to Barr Trail and up to Barr Camp (the race's turn around) fast enough (hopefully) to beat the first runners through with the stopwatch that I started at the top of the incline. It meant that I had to run 4-4.5 miles while the leader was running 6 but I still did not want to take it easy and risk getting passed on my way to the turn around! Now that I have done it (run to Barr Camp and back), I now have the courage to (carefully) do the up and down workout in on Barr in the future.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Training Update 7

Monday J29: AM 1:08 running- up and down trail in Williams Canyon- Williams is beautiful and one of my favorite easy runs around here- it is a narrow canyon (could be called a slot canyon in places) and is usually deserted PM 1:36 cycling- around the GOG- even in the height of tourist season, the Garden is a great place for urban riding! I am really starting to feel the fatigue of altitude acclimation. Even small, easy climbs today where leaving my legs burning.

Tuesday J30: AM 1:15 cycling- over to meet Nancy with some additional stuff up into the canyon. AM 1:00 running- met Nancy at the start of the second national team trial race (in late July) and ran around trying to figure out how to lengthen the course so that the winner of the men's race runs for at least 50 minutes (just under 60 would be perfect)- there was lots of starting and stopping but I did manage to get in some quality running as well- and yes, I did feel like a slug at altitude AM 0:45 cycling- back to Manitou from the race site. PM 0:58 cycling around the GOG

Wednesday J01: AM 2:03 cycling- to Cheyenne canyon, up the canyon and then back around on High drive PM 1:02 run up Cave of the Winds and back down Williams with MattC- felt good

Thursday J02: AM 0:59 cycling- in the GOG PM 0:32 cycling from Manitou to Cheyenne Canyon PM 1:11:00 running- tour of the trial race course with RyanH- run out and first loop in 25:32 second inner loop in 20:36, third inner loop in 20:00, run (including the extra lollipop loop in 4:52 (1:11 total) PM 0:33 cycling back to Manitou from Cheyenne canyon

Friday J03: AM 6:51 cycling- from Manitou Springs to Breckenridge- a 100 mile ride over three major passes (Divide 9,136', Wilkerson 9,507', and Hoosier 11,531')- this was a good ride and I felt pretty good until I got to the bottom of Hoosier Pass- the final four miles of climbing was not terribly steep but it was the highest that I have ever cycled and I was really struggling

Saturday J04: AM 1:11 running- on ski mountain slop in Breckenridge- tried to find the flattest trails that I could (with limited success)- did not feel very good PM 2:15 cycling- out and back on the Breckenridge bike trail- very crowded but a very fun section of trail (hilly and winding with a beautiful view)- felt not so good

Sunday J05: AM 2:53 cycling- from Breckenridge to Vail Pass (elevation 10,662)- felt pretty good considering the altitude PM 1:02 running- with pMax up and down Williams Canyon- felt bad at first but then got better once we entered the canyon.

Weekly totals:
6:34 running (24% of total)
20:40 cycling (76% of total)

Total: 27:14

Comments: After last week's travel-related disruption, this was a good week of training. Friday's ride was certainly the best workout of the week (it was a tough ride and I paced it pretty well). The weekend in Breckenridge was fun (Kelli had to be up here for the Firecracker 50, the mountain bike "marathon" national championships) and I managed to get in some good riding and a pretty good run as well. I hope that the weekend up here (almost 10K' will help me to more quickly acclimate to the altitude down in Manitou (6.5K'). This week was also an unusually social week for me running-wise in that I had running partners for 4 of 6 runs (this is a lot considering that I will often go for months without running with anyone else).

Monday, June 29, 2009

Training Update 6+/-

...just catching up on the training log here... I skipped a few weeks (with poor records) so I will just start back at the beginning of the month.

Monday J01: AM 0:58 cycling- to the Randolph train station PM 0:30 cycling- from the Amherst train station to Ned & Amy's PM 1:00 running- vampire loop with Ned
Tuesday J02: AM 1:01 running- out and Back on the BLT with Ned 2:15 cycling around the Catskills
Wednesday J03: AM 0:42 running- around Windham, NY with K PM 5:23 cycling- in the Catskills
Thursday J04: AM 2:28 cycling- around Windham, NY PM 1:14 running in Amethyst with K
Friday J05: AM 1:00 running- vampire loop with Ned 2:18 cycling- around Shuts-Lev-Pel-B-towns
Saturday J06: 1:58 cycling- to and around Quabbin Park
Sunday J07: AM 3:50 cycling- ride around the Quabbin with some additional outs and backs- felt good PM 0:34 running- around B-town

Weekly totals:
5:31 running (38% of total)
19:40 cycling (62% of total)

Total: 25:11

Comments: This was a very good week- the first week that I have been happy about in quite some time. If I could manage this volume of cycling with just a little more running (and with a considerable amount of quality thrown in), I think that I could get fit enough to race!?! The best workout of the week was the 5:23 ride that I did on Wednesday

Monday J08: AM 1:02 running- M&M trail north- felt good in my first run on hills and rough surfaces
Tuesday J09: AM 1:00 running- M&M trail north
Wednesday J10: AM 1:03 running- M&M trail north
Thursday J11: AM 0:25 cycling- to UMASS PM 0:35 cycling back from UMASS
Friday J12: PM 1:15 cycling back from UMASS and then up to Leveret PM 0:52 cycling back from Leveret
Saturday J13: 1:00 running- vampire loop with Ned
Sunday J14: AM 3:46 cycling- ride around the Quabbin- felt good

Weekly totals:
4:05 running (37% of total)
6:53 cycling (63% of total)

Total: 10:58

Comments: This was not a good week for running/training. On Friday, I (successfully) defended my dissertation and so the week was spent preparing for and recovering from this once-in-a-lifetime event. The best workout of the week was the ride around the Quabbin. This was the first time that I had done this ride in over two years and it is just fantastic- beautiful, low traffic, nice hills, and a good challenging length.

Monday J15: AM 1:00 running PM 1:01 cycling
Tuesday J16: AM 0:59 running PM 1:00 cycling
Wednesday J17: AM 2:04 cycling up north and then into UMASS PM 0:33 cycling- home from UMASS
Thursday J18: PM 1:07 running- home from UMASS in a pouring (but warm) rain
Friday J19: AM 0:58 running with Ned- road loop in B-town PM 1:57 cycling
Saturday J20: AM 9:46 cycling- from Belchertown, MA to Northfield, VT- my legs felt pretty good throughout for this 150 mile ride and my only complaints were that I left too late in the day and that my pack (15.8 pounds) gave me butt, arm, and hand problems (at least more so than I would have expected without the pack)
Sunday J21: PM 1:02 running- Paine Mountain Loop- my legs actually felt a lot better than I thought that they would considering yesterday's ride.

Weekly totals:
5:06 running (24% of total)
16:21 cycling (76% of total)

Total: 21:27

Comments: This was a lackluster week with one really good day (the long ride).

Monday J22: AM 1:01 running- Paine Mountain Loop- felt good PM 2:30 cycling from Northfield to East MontP
Tuesday J23: AM 1:45 cycling into and back out of MontP PM 0:50 running- around some residential neighborhoods in the dark with pMax
Wednesday J24: PM 0:50 running- around some residential neighborhoods in the dark with pMax
Thursday J25: PM 0:42 running- to the rail-trail in Lawrence, KS, out, and back with pMax- I felt pretty good and the fireflies along the river were the highest density that I have ever seen!
Friday J26: AM 1:02 running- to the rail-trail in Larwence, KS, out, and back- I felt pretty good on for the first 45 minutes (aside from feeling like I was going to melt!) but then my knee began to tighten up and hurt a bit.
Saturday J27: AM 3:00 cycling- from Manitou to Divide (9136') and back with some additional riding in Manitou at the end. I felt pretty good but I was getting a bit light headed toward the top.
Sunday J28: AM 3:04 cycling- west of Manitou on and around Woodland Park PM 0:56 running to and from the store in Manitou

Weekly totals:
5:21 running (38% of total)
8:34 cycling (62% of total)

Total: 13:55

Comments: This was a tough week as I was traveling (almost) across the country (VT to CO). At least, I had a good training partner along (pMax) since the runs were often in less-than-desirable places. The best training day was probably Monday- I felt great for my last run on Paine Mountain in a while and the longer-than-expected bike ride was pretty nice as well. The running highpoint for the week was the run along the rail train in Lawrence- the lightning bugs were amazing! The non-running highlight was, of course getting to see Kelli on Friday night!