Really stupid...

If an idea is good, it's on the verge of being stupid. ~ Michel Gondry

I have always had this theory… get a group of people in a room, throw out a bunch of ideas and at the end of the night, look at your list to find the most idiotic and that's the one you should do.

This blog was spawned from one very stupid idea - run the Leadville 100. I gave that a shot in the summer of '07 - completed 73 miles - and survived. The blog lives on...

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Hungry for more...

I've got ants in my pants! I'm discombobulated! Give me a calmative! ~ Grandpa Simpson

Wed: 1:32, 10.5 miles, East Boulder tempo
Thurs: 00:40, 4.6 miles, Boulder Creek Path recovery
Sat: 00:40, 4.14 miles, Neighborhood surges
Sun: 4:12, 26.24 miles, North Boulder backroads

A crazy week got in the way of updates so I am playing catch up a bit. Things have been going relatively well... I am still nursing a tight hamstring and mildly sore knee but that doesn't seem to be holding me back too much. Wednesday's run was a bit of a cluster. My splits were okay but by the end, I was really just done and my knee hurt and so I cut that one a little short. Thursday was a bit faster than I should have been running but I felt okay so just cruised. Saturday was a squeeze run early. Went to the opera mid-morning so it was good to get out for a quick run while it was still quiet and calm. Sunday was the mad man of the week...

Headed to Boulder early hoping to get in a few miles before meeting up with the crew but that didn't happen so we started together shortly before 9:00. We wound our way around part of the Backroads course and I ended up way north on CO66 before heading back to Boulder. Not too much to talk about other than really working on managing lingering ailments and getting in the miles. For the most part, I was successful. After 3 hours things started to get a little ouchy for sure but nothing that sparked tremendous concern – mostly just the standard fatigue and soreness that comes with the territory when logging that much time on one's feet. These small increases every week are paying off, however. I am feeling super fit and recovery happens quickly.

People ask about nutrition during ultra running a lot and aside from some of the standard items (gels; "real" food like pb&js, wraps, fruit; etc.) I have started working in some fluid-based nutrition as well. I have been using nuun exclusively for the past year or so and find it to work really well. I recently started working Charles Corfield's famous "Rocket Fuel" into the mix. I'm trying to get more info about that so check back for a full report. Thus far, however, it seems to be working really well for me both during and post running. I have been using a 1:1 mix of Waxy Maize and Maltodextrin coupled with a tab of nuun per bottle. I have the feelers out to Mr. Corfield (3rd place in the '07 LT100) and will let you know what more I find out.

Most of the top talent whack down gels throughout the races. I am not quite sure how they handle this but it seems to work well for them. I will supplement with gels and do use gels exclusively during shorter, faster events like marathons (maybe that is the key – make 100 miles short and fast and you are golden!) but for longer runs, I tend to stick with more solid fare and try to work in as much real food as possible. When I did the LT100 in '07 and the Silver Rush in '08, I relied pretty much exclusively on real food. For the LT100, I relied on food my crew made for me: PB&J wraps, avocado wraps, bean burritos, fruit, trail mix, tomato/avocado soup and the like. I had decent success with this and found, for me, the avocado wraps worked really well (1/2 of an avocado and some pink sea salt wrapped in a tortilla). Being a vegan, I didn't want to rely on aid stations and didn't want to get into a situation where I needed nutrition but was unable to find anything that suited me.

I took a slightly different approach to the Silver Rush in '08 (mostly because I wanted to approach this event more casually to take some of the pressure off) and actually did use the aid stations which provided chips, pretzels, fruit (melons and bananas) and soda. I made the mistake of filling up with some energy drink at one of the stations that did NOT go down well, so definitely beware. I supplemented with my own food for the start (pb&j and avocado wraps) and put more in my drop bag for resupplying at the turn. The best practice is to well... practice! Grab a burrito and go for a run. See what works well for you. Be prepared for wacky cravings during events but try to stick with foods and supplements with which you are familiar and have tried in training. Nothing worse than stomach problems during an event.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010


It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness. ~ Seneca

Wed: 1:34, 11.25 miles, Snowpacked and icy Boulder road tempo
Thurs: 00:20, 2 miles, Treadmill session with Janet
Sat: 00:32, 3.4 miles, Treadmill surges
Sun: 3:47, 23.5 miles, North Boulder Hygiene loop
Tues: 00:50, 5.86 miles, Boulder Creek Path surges

Playing a bit of catch up after a hectic week and jam-packed weekend. Still have some residual tightness in my right glute/hamstring I am trying to sort out but have gotten in several great runs despite the wackiness.

Last Wednesday, I missed hooking up with the crew due to work obligations and had to wait until later in the afternoon to get in my scheduled tempo run. It was pretty chilly (15°F or so) and snowing when I started from central Boulder and made my way west on the Creek Path. I tried to keep my heartrate below 150 (and actually, at the time, thought I was doing an okay job of this) but the splits don't lie and I guess I pushed it a bit on the warm up. Not a big deal given the weather. Had to keep the blood flowing for sure.

Once I reached Eben G. Fine Park, I headed onto surface roads and started my tempo after about 35 minutes of warm up. It was definitely game on after that as I rolled up 4th and dropped down Kalmia. One thing I do love about Boulder is that they tend to pay more attention to bike paths than the streets and Kalmia was a bit of a mess. Lots of snow-covered ice and slippery sections made for interesting and exciting running – particularly at tempo pace. I fared quite nicely, however and ended up with a solid effort for the day. Blew up just a smidge toward the end after getting stuck at a light or two, losing my mojo a bit and getting a bit chilled but all in all, a great run.

Thursday, I had a session with Janet Runyan and, given that it was all of 7°, we opted to hop on the treadmill instead of driving around with her windows rolled down. Janet has me pretty dialed in at this point and I showed her a couple of new tricks I have been employing to try to help drive my hips forward and she pointed out a some other techniques I could use to relax a bit more and get a bit more grounded. I can't really say enough good things about where she has gotten me over the past 9 months. My form has improved, my fitness is way up and, though I am still nursing a few goofy aches and pains, I am feeling like I am definitely on the right track for a great year in 2010.

Saturday, Rach and I went to see the Met's broadcast of Der Rosenkavalier. Fantastic opera and amazing performances. We even managed to get home in time for me to jam over to the gym for a quick run on the treadmill. Only did 32 minutes and 3 surges but it shook out some of the kinks from sitting most of the day. Glad to have that resource available for sure.

I met with the group on Sunday this week for my long, slow run. We hooked up in north Boulder and spun a quick loop on clear surface roads and snowpacked side roads then headed west and back north to Hygiene. These roads are quite familiar from my days racing bikes and I never even conceived that one day I would be running the same routes on which I spent so much time perfecting my sprint and chasing down breaks. Pretty cool, actually.

I actually felt amazing for the first two hours of the run and spent most of that time spinning sub-10s and chatting comfortably with Janet and Art Ives, a top-five Leadville finisher and all around nice guy. He also coaches runners and is never at a loss for amazing stories and solid advice about how to improve my game. We burned a lap southwest of Hygiene then Art headed back to Boulder while Rebecca and I spun one more circuit then followed. By this point, my heartrate was staying up for some reason but I felt okay so am guessing there was some interference or something. Maybe I was working harder than I realized but I was breathing comfortably so I am not sure what was going on. I was pretty ready to be done once we got back to the cars, to be honest, but it was a great run for sure.

I was a little sore afterward and had a good soak in an ice bath once I got home. Stretching, compression socks, lots of fluids and some killer grub from Rach did the trick to get me feeling much better very quickly.

Mild soreness on Monday dissipated by Tuesday and it was a gorgeous day for a run. I was down in Boulder anyway and took advantage of the spring-like weather (mid 50s, sunny, no wind) for a jaunt up the Creek path and some surges. Felt maybe a little clunky to start but kept a mellow 9:15 pace for my warm up then did 8 1x1 surges. Dropped back down for a sub 9 finish that felt really amazing. Almost mechanical in how I was turning over the legs with power and efficiency. Hoping that I get that feeling more and more as the season progresses. Really a fun run.

So that brings us up to date. Sorry for the lapse... hectic has been the word that best describes my world right now. But getting out for a run always seems to bring everything back into focus.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ups. Downs...

Nothing more foolish than a man chasin' his hat. ~ Tom Reagan

Sat: 00:40, 4.3 miles, Treadmill surges
Sun: 2:23, 14 miles, Boulder slow run
Mon: 00:45 weights
Tues: 00:48, 4.9 miles, Neighborhood surges

If I have learned anything over the past several years of running, it is never a good idea to obsess too deeply over any given day's effort. Certainly there will be times when your performance does not match up with your expectations – I am not saying you shouldn't invest some time trying to sort out the why – but I have found that beating yourself up about an off day is rarely productive.

After Friday's day off (intended to ski with my dad and his fiancée but the weather didn't cooperate), I got back to business on Saturday with a good ski with good friends and a quick run to shake out the cobwebs a little bit. Pete, Edy and I hit the Basin in the morning and conditions, though still wanting, were a lot better than the last time I was up. More terrain open which meant I was actually a bit sore the next day from using muscle groups that haven't gotten a lot of action over the past 8 months. I hit the treadmill on the way home and felt like I was ready for Sunday's effort.

Janet asked that I try to tone it down a bit for Sunday's run since the last three efforts were a bit higher than prescribed so the goal for Sunday was to keep the heartrate down and just have fun. I headed west along a route that took me to the far western edge of Boulder then worked my way south along city streets, eventually meeting up with the familiar system of Boulder's vast network of trails. These were snowpacked and icy for the most part so I donned my YakTrax and made my way up Enchanted Mesa to Mesa then down Bear. Other than residual soreness from Saturday's double-up, I felt pretty great. I was able to move at a relatively steady pace without spiking the heartrate. Just steady, relaxed and easy.

I made my way back northeast, via Boulder's equally awesome network of bike paths and wound my way back to my car with the plan being to use this as a staging area to refuel. As you have read, I have had some ongoing issues with knee pain in the medial posterior region of my right knee. This cropped up again on Sunday's run and it was really bugging me by the time I made it back to my car. I also was experiencing some unbelievable chafing for some reason and these, combined with a storm quickly moving in from the west and my having ditched my jacket at Pete and Edy's place early in the run (temps were much milder than I expected), pushed me to the decision to call it a day with only 14 miles and 2:23 covered out of a projected 24/3:50. Not a shining moment but one on which I refused to dwell (especially given that the skies opened up with a serious snowstorm no more than 10 minutes after I called it a day).

I was still a bit sore on Monday and went to the gym to work in some upper-body weights just to knock the rust off a little bit and try to get more consistent about full-body strengthening. Yesterday, I was back in action with a nice little run around the 'hood on snowpacked and icy roads. I then found a relatively flat section that was also dry on which to do some surges. These felt a bit harder than normal (mostly because the odd numbered surges were slightly uphill and into a headwind) but I really focused on staying relaxed and using good form over blazing speed (which, you are probably aware, is not really in my skillset anyway). It felt great to get out and I was able to work on some stride adjustments throughout the run that appear to relieve some of the wackiness I have been experiencing with my hamstring.

Today's planned group run was kiboshed by work priorities so I'll run solo this afternoon and get in some good tempo work. Planning to continue to test this new form to see if it is something I should work into my regular stride. I am sure Janet will have some recommendations and feedback when I meet with her tomorrow.

All in all, though last week was not my finest effort (only ran about 30 miles), I learned a lot, had fun and continue to be consistent which, at this stage of the game, is probably more important than actual numbers. I feel that I continue to make progress and that is the key.

See you out there.


Friday, January 1, 2010


Let food be your medicine. ~ Hippocrates

Iskiate, or chia fresca, is a popular topic these days after appearing prominently in Born to Run, Christopher McDougall's book about ultrarunning, the Tarahumara, and the physiology of running - particularly running stupid distances in a single push. McDougall speaks about its use as a natural energy drink in his book and I have been experimenting with it the past several months to see how to incorporate it into my regular race and training diet.

There are lots of ways to use chia seeds (yes, of the Chia Pet ilk) as a dietary supplement and I have been using Iskiate as a pre- and post-run addition to my nutrition with decent results. I have not been particularly scientific about my use of the chia seed but definitely have done a little experimenting with how best to incorporate its use into my regular regimen and have found it to have a refreshing effect.

Chia seeds can be purchased online or at many natural food stores. I have definitely found the best deals online, but if you want to pick up just a little to try it out first, many stores have chia seeds in their bulk or raw foods sections.

Chia seeds have a remarkable ability to soak up liquids and when introduced to water or another liquid, open up to absorb up to 9 times their original volume of water to form a gel. This gel can be consumed in a variety of ways and not only is a great source of energy but helps to keep a person hydrated. The seeds are rich in calcium, Omega 3 and 6 and when in gel form, provide a slow-release mechanism for carbohydrate absorption so you don't get as much of a spike as you would from a glucose-based energy drink but more of a slow burn energy release.

Chia gel can be made in a variety of different ways and can be stored for use in the fridge for a week (I have heard up to 3 weeks but I like to err on the side of caution). I mostly have been using it as an addition to juices (grape, apple, orange) and will pour a glass, add a couple tablespoons of chia seeds, stir vigorously, let sit for 10 minutes or so to let the seeds soak up the juice, stir again and drink.

A more traditional Iskiate recipe calls for lime juice, sweetener, water and chia seeds and I have found this to be incredibly tasty and refreshing before, during and after exercise. Take the juice of 1 lime, combine it with 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of sugar, agave or sweetener of your choice. Add a couple teaspoons of chia seeds, mix it up, let it sit for a bit for the seeds to soak up some of the liquid and get good and plump, then drink up!

Iskiate is a bit too thick to flow through a standard water bottle valve so you may have to slow your pace a bit and drink from an open top if you plan to use it during exercise but other than that, I have found it to be a great addition to my regular nutrition/hydration. nuun is still my go-to solution for hydration but I have definitely used Iskiate (even in combination) to provide a natural energy boost to compliment the regular use of nuun tabs during training and racing.


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