Category Archives: Exercise

Smoke and Ultra Running

Friday 8th, September 2017, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Life is good and I cannot complain too much!!   EB

You can’t control everything.  Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that things will work out.  Let go and let life happen.

“Anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.”  Khalil Gibran

Well the three weeks of training in Breckenridge was fantastic. Great mountain weather with the occasional afternoon thunderstorm but nothing that would be consider “Noah’s Flood” material.  The temps were in the 70s for daytime highs and the low 40s at night.  Not too bad.   To top it all off, even after three weeks of running different routes I felt like I had only covered a small percentage of it.  This will definitely become a “to do” each summer.  All of this was to get ready for the Run Rabbit Run in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

 

Now that I am up at Steamboat, and ready to run,   I am finding that there are things that I have no control over.   Those “things” are the Forest Fires out in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and of course Colorado.  There are two fires close to Steamboat and the air quality for the last couple of days has been questionable.  This, to say the least, is creating some anxiety in me.

This picture is from Wednesday looking toward the Ski Area and Mount Werner.  The picture below is from Thursday evening in downtown Steamboat.  Now this does not look as bad as the pictures from Montana but thinking that I am going to run in and out of the smoke for about 30 hours.  Well I am guessing that this is not the best thing for my health in the long term.   So….you would think that this would be a “No Brainer” – don’t run.  But when you have put in miles and miles of training, spent money on travel arrangements, rearranged work schedules, etc…. Things become a little more complicated.   What to do…what to do??   I decided to NOT run.  And I rationalized it this way.  We live in a very toxic world that our ancestors did not have to contend with.   Those that chose to run in the smoke will take a significant “hit” to their respiratory/cardiovascular systems and they are going to go back to cities, towns, homes and even jobs, that are much more “toxic” than what their ancestors had to contend with. I do believe that stress like this can be accumulative and in the long run disease causing in the human body.  So I asked myself why risk it?  And the answer was don’t…  I want to be able to run something like this when I am in my 80s  and potentially when I am 90.  There will be other Ultras out there and I want to stay healthy enough to run them.

 

 

Friday 11th, August 2017

Breckenridge, Colorado

“Life is good and I really cannot complain too much…No one would listen!!”

Well I thought it was about time to start my Blog Post again. I think the last one was back in December 2016…Way too long to let it go. I am in Breckenridge Colorado – living in the RV for a few weeks while I get in a couple of days of trail running in preparation for the Run Rabbit Run 100. I have never done the 100 mile distance but I am hoping that the high altitude training and trail running that I do in the next couple of weeks will put me in good shape to finish this distance.

Met a guy on the trail the other day that has done this distance multi times. His advice was to take it really slow to start – to truly “run my race – besides at your age who are you racing against?” Kind of funny but this really hits home. I known this was the truth but the way Rick said it really took it to another level for me. I realize that I needed to go out as if I am going for a long walk/run and I am only interested, really only interested, in how far I can go. To walk/run at a pace that is enjoyable…to keep the breathing and heart rate down. To be mindful, really mindful of how much huffing and puffing I am doing climbing the mountain.

Rick reminded me that the 100 mile distance is a “long way and the real race so to speak does not start until after the first 50 miles.”  After doing the 50 mile distance 5 times now in races…I think that is really good advice.  Well that is probably about it for now. Hope you enjoy the trail porn and maybe I will see you out there on the trail!!

FRIDAY 8TH, MAY 2015

 

INTO EACH LIFE SOME RAIN MUST FALL
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

SOME PEOPLE JUST WALK IN THE RAIN, OTHERS JUST GET WET
– Roger Miller

Well darn they canceled the Quad Rock due to weather. The park managers decided that there would be way too much damage to the trails if they allowed the race to proceed. I guess that is always a potential for any urban trail race. Horsetooth and Lory State Park are very close to Fort Collins and Loveland. So close that they could be considered part of the Fort Collins / Loveland urban corridor. Not only did the park managers close the race to the event, they have closed both parks to everyone this weekend. My guess is that part of this closure is not just related to trail damage but also to potential liability and safety. You get a group of people out running a 25 or 50 mile race in rugged terrain with a lot of climbing, 5500 feet for the 25 miler and 11,000 feet for the 50, and add in the potential for snow and dropping temperatures in the afternoon on Saturday, well there could be some issues. I am writing on Friday afternoon and the temp in Lory State Park at the moment is 44 degree Fahrenheit. This could really lead to some hypothermic situations on Saturday.

I know how I feel after doing a 50 miler in good weather, not sure how I would feel after doing the same distance in challenging weather. It could become an issue of evacuation or rescue? I recall some friends that I made at last year’s Leadville Training Camp, talking about the previous year’s Silver Rush 50 trail race. According to them the race started off in good weather but towards the very end a large thunderstorm rolled in and preceded to drop what appeared to be “Biblical” amounts of rain, falling temperatures and small hail for the last hours of the race. They talked about how it became more of a rescue than a race for a lot of contestants. Or the time talking with a Steamboat Spring resident about the weather issues at the 2012 Run Rabbit Run 50 miler. Again it was during the last part of the race when a weather front moved in and dropped rain, snow, high winds and falling temperatures. Per this individual “the snow was falling sideways” and people were not prepared. Getting everyone off the mountain and accounted for was a huge struggle for race officials. A lot of participants needed to be rescued.

So what do you do when you have all the training in place, you have rested, you got off work, rearranged schedules, and you have put all the pieces in place to get ready for this one big day. And then it gets canceled!! Aggghhhhhhh!! Good question and I do not have the answer at the moment. It is like getting ready for a big wedding but then the bride or the groom backs out? Then what? Have your own party? I think that most trail races go off rain or shine, especially if the weather is good to start with. But when it starts with marginal weather to begin with, and the forecast is for it to get worse? Well then I cannot blame the park and race managers. Looking at the big picture I would make the same decision. I think tomorrow I will have my own party so to speak in Fort Collins. Maybe a 12 or 24 hour run in the city just to see how far I can go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well on a different note. I bit the bullet so to speak. Told myself that I would not pay that much for a sports watch, but what can I say? When my old Garmin Forerunner 101 gave up the ghost I needed a new GPS for training. My first thought was to just replace it with another Garmin which would have been the cheapest thing to do. But after thinking about it for a while I found what I WANTED, not what I needed, I wanted a better sport watch and that is what I got!  Wow I am glad that I did this.  I was currently using a Suunto Vector for elevation gain/loss measurements, a Polar FT4 for heart rate and the old Garmin for distance. After looking at different reviews I decided on a Suunto Ambit 3 Peak. The nice part is that it replaced all three of the above units. I get elevation gain/loss measurements, heart rate and GPS. I have been using it for about 2 weeks with running and biking and so far I am very happy with it. But this was not the best part, during the research part of this purchase, I discovered the Movescount App, the Strava App and the App called “Lose It!” All three of these are amazing apps in and of themselves, but what really makes this cool is that the Apps all connect. The watch with the Movescount, the Movescount with the Strava and the Strava with the Lose It App. I feel that I get the same kind of feedback that I would get with a personnel trainer. Pretty cool. I am guessing that in the next 5 to 10 years, all watches will be App enable and the Apps themselves will be able to communicate with each other. It will probably not be too long before we all have our own personnel trainer so to speak but it will be an AI of some kind. This gives me a weird, scary, cool feeling all wrapped up in one. Only time will tell.

Well that is it for me this week. Stay safe, but play in the rain a little. See ya out there!!

Just a quick note the Quad Rock was reschedule for Sunday June 14th!!  Yea!!

 

 

FRIDAY 3RD, APRIL 2015

 

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
– Goethe

 

The Quad Rock is getting closer and training is coming along slowly. Too slow for my likes but what are you going to do about it? Now that I am a few years over the age of 50 I find that recovery takes a lot longer than when I was younger. Doing heavy workouts day after day can take a toll when you are 25 to say the least but when you are 53 it can be a recipe for injury. Last year was an OK year but could have been better. I did remain injury free until about the middle of August, but then I suffered an insult to my left knee. I believe it was due to over training and not enough rest. This year I am trying to train a lot smarter.

Last year’s late season injury started after a successful run at the Silver Rush 50 in Leadville. There I had improved my time by one and half hours in the 50 mile distance. For me that was huge. Riding on the euphoria from this race, I was really looking forward to another successful run at the Run Rabbit Run in September at Steamboat Spring. I took about 10 days off after the Silver Rush and was feeling pretty good when I started back training. This was around the first of August. After the personnel best at the Silver Rush, I really wanted to nail the RRR. So I had it in my mind that more training equals better performance and maybe that might have been true when I was 25. The reality was that I needed to train smarter, not harder.

While finishing a great trail run behind Fort Collins, I decided to push the last few miles a little harder than usual. And it was that decision coupled with a lot of running the weeks before that started the cascade. After the run my left knee hurt a little but nothing too painful. That should have been the first warning sign to back off. But did I listen to my body, nope, told myself that I needed to run the next day and besides the weather was beautiful. That next morning my knee was still hurting, so I told myself that I would still get out and run – but just make it an easy one. I told myself the same thing the next day and the next. Just do an easy run when what I really needed was rest for a few days. Not only did I not listen to the continued soreness in my knee, I was not getting a lot of sleep – telling myself that I would make it up later. The interesting thing was the knee soreness never really got any worse it just persisted – until about a week later. Well you can probably fill in the rest of the story. Sad to say but it took a good month and a half for it to heal.

So when I started training this year I wanted to do it smarter and just by chance one morning my wife told me about a new book that had just come out, called “FAST AFTER 50” by Joe Friel. Joe used to write an exercise column for the Fort Collins Coloradoan years ago when we first moved to Colorado and being an enthusiastic reader of the column back then – I immediately looked it up on Amazon. Man am I glad that I did. Since his early days in Fort Collins Joe has written and coauthored several books on training and nutrition for the endurance athlete. This new book shows that experience and the research that has taken place in the last 20 years on the older athlete. I am now into my second reading of the book and that is saying a lot. I cannot recommend this book enough. Especially if you are over the age of 50. I would even go as far as to say if you are over 30 then this book can help you. It is for all endurance athletes. Easy to read and easy to apply the principles in training.

Funny – I am not a religious man or even what you would consider a spiritual one but sometimes the “Universe” moves in strange ways. I wasn’t even looking for a new book on training, especially one for the older athlete – denial has always been one of my go to defenses against getting older. I just figured I would look through some of my older books and magazines on running, and see what I could learn and relearn about proper training. But there it was – the door opened – and just what I needed was offered up by the “Universe.” Crazy! I will keep everyone updated with how the training is going over the next several months. This year’s races are: Quad Rock in May, the Leadville 100 in August and the Run Rabbit Run September. Depending on how my training is going and how I feel I might add the Silver Rush 50 in July. But that might just be wishful thinking…. My mother had a saying when she was in her elder years: “Old age is not for Sissies” and she was right.

Well that is all for me this week. The pictures are from running the last few days. The top one is in the Running Deer Open Space looking west towards Long’s Peak, the second one is the Pelican Marsh Open Space and the third one with the Mule Deer is off of the Poudre River trail – all in the city limits of Fort Collins. Hope to see you out there!!

FRIDAY 27TH, MARCH 2015

 

ONLY THOSE WHO RISK GOING TO FAR CAN POSSIBLY FIND OUT HOW FAR THEY CAN GO.
– T.S. Eliot

 

 

Why do I run Ultras? That is a good question to ask. I mean why spend hours upon hours in training, so you can run 50 to 100 miles in a single race. To be so sore the next day that you sometimes need help just getting around. What is that about? Really? Have I gone crazy? Hmmm. I came late, so to speak to the Ultra Running scene. But from about age 25 I have always had the idea to do one but never had the time. Thinking back, it might have been related to age and a single button that changed it all. The big 5-0 transformed me – there are things that you tell yourself you will get around to, but getting around to them might not ever come if you wait too long.

When I hit the half century mark I was working at a Management Job in Health Care – it was not good for me. Very long hours in a position that has been likened to: “Trying to Herd Cats.” In the process of doing this job I gained 30 pounds in two years. The eye opener came one morning when I went to button an extra-large shirt and it did not fit. I am not a large man – 5’5″. So to be wearing an extra-large shirt in the first place should have been a warning sign. But we have a tendency to rationalize things. Luckily it was that one single button, midway between the abdomen and chest that got me to pay attention. So that was it – no more “feeling like a dog chasing its tail.” Made a plan to quit the management job, revaluated priorities, decided I was going to do an Ultra. Just that simple? Of course it is never just that simple but that can wait for another story.

My first Ultra was the Run Rabbit Run at Steamboat Springs in September 2013 – the 50 miler. I was 51 years old and scared to death. I had read several books on running Ultras, surfed the web for information, and subscribed to Ultra Running Magazine. AND I had trained. But the mind wanders into dark corners. I was nervous enough that I did not sleep the night before, almost talked myself out of showing up. The only way I got myself to the starting line was taking it one small step at a time: Just get dressed, make and drink some coffee, eat a muffin, just get in the car, drive, etc…. I eventually made the start. I was actually early.

Because it is September the 50 mile race starts in the dark. And if you are slow enough like me, it finishes in the dark. The day before the event – the race director Fred Abramowitz had a pre-race briefing. The one thing he said that stuck in my mind was “For you first timers, at about the 30 mile mark you are going to look down at your running shoes, which may be covered in vomit, and say to yourself why the hell am I doing this? That is the moment you must not quit. If you can get through this point you will make it.” This point or moment came for me at the Rabbit Ears turn around. I so wanted to quit. I had just run 25 miles and the realization that I had another 25 to go made me nauseated. But I remembered Fred’s words and continued – believe it or not – in a few miles things actually got better.

By the time I got to the top of the ski hill (Mt. Werner) it was dark and I was exhausted but there was only about 7.5 miles to go and all of it downhill – about 3000 feet of downhill. At this naive point I felt that I could finish this. That it was actually going to be a reality. That was until I started running downhill. In the back of my mind I remembered someone telling me that the downhill parts in the last stages of an Ultra can be the hardest. They were not kidding. Wow – I would run a little ways, walk a little ways, and run a little ways. There was pain in this descent, intense pain, but not pain like an injury. It could be more described as a “powerful soreness.” A soreness that you have to experience because words fail to describe it. When that finish line came into view, I became what can only be described as jubilant, euphoric, enraptured, and ecstatic. I have never felt this way with any other activity, except well, maybe a cardinal one? In Ultra’s there is a boundary you cross that you do not realize is there. When you successfully cross it your world changes. I wanted to dance, to sing, to shout out to the world that I did this and I am invincible! I felt on top of the world, nothing else mattered! Civilization could end tomorrow and I did not care. After that experience I was hooked on doing Ultras.

Of course, all of this only lasted for about 30 minutes and then I needed my daughter’s help to get back to the car and for her to drive me back to the motel. The picture below shows me at the end of the race in 2013. I was second to last in finishing and it did not matter. I had crossed the boundary!

Well, that is about all for this week – hope to see you out there!!

 

 

 

 

FRIDAY 20TH, MARCH 2015

 

“WHAT LIES BEHIND US AND WHAT LIES BEFORE US ARE TINY MATTERS COMPARED TO WHAT LIES WITHIN US.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

My youngest daughter has been on Spring Break this week and we have been doing a little downhill skiing. On Monday we were up at A-Basin. Beautiful spring conditions, temperatures between 30 to 40 degrees, mild wind and brilliant sunshine. The resort was a little crowded but not too bad. The lower lift line was only about a 5 to 10 minute wait at the most, the upper lift was 5 minutes or less. Really could not have asked for more – well I guess you could have asked for a powder day. But, oh well you cannot have everything. The other nice thing about this type of spring skiing is that you do not need to be up at the crack of dawn to get first chair, you can sleep in a little bit. And actually getting there early can be detrimental due to the freeze / thaw cycle that occurs. In the AM the ski slopes are usually icy and as hard as concrete. But wait a few hours and they have softened up to a hard butter like consistency. Perfect for making beautiful sweeping turns. The picture above is at the top. The elevation at this point is about 13,000 feet. On Monday when this picture was taken, there was no wind for several hours and temps in the 30s. Hard to believe. In Fort Collins this same day, the temp was close to 80.

March in Colorado can always be a little unpredictable on the Front Range. One day you can have snow and temps below 30 degrees and the next day it can be sunny and 70 out. It can make life a little interesting at times. Fortunately that has not been the case this week. The Front Range has seen mild temperatures, cold in the morning (30s) and warm in the afternoon (60 to 80 degrees). Add in a little sun, clouds and some much needed rain and you have beautiful running weather. So when we were not out skiing, it was back to training for the Quad Rock in May. It was nice to not have to use the running tights or a jacket this week. The picture above is part of a trail run right behind Fort Collins in the start of the foothills. There is an initial elevation change of about 500 feet. You run up one hog-back and down the other side to Horsetooth Reservoir and along a trail that goes down to the East side of the lake. There are multiple trails in the area and you can make this a 5 to 20 mile plus run if you want. I am looking North to Northwest in the above picture. In the one below I am in the same position but look East out over Fort Collins. These pictures were taken yesterday on Thursday – the temperature was about 60 degrees, with clouds and sun in the area. And strangely enough – no wind. Simply just beautiful. I feel very fortunate to have this resource right in my backyard.

Well that is it for me this week. HAPPY VERNAL EQUINOX!! And have a great weekend – hope to see you out there!!

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 27th, February 2015

 

“YOU’RE BETTER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE – YOU CAN DO MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU CAN.” – Ken Chlouber (Founder of the Leadville Trail 100)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yea!! I finished the 2015 Birkie as a classical skier!! It took me about 7 hours to get it done but I finished. The Classical course was 55 kilometers or about 34 miles with somewhere between 3000 to 4000 feet of vertical. In the above picture I am standing at the highest point on the trail, which is about 1700 feet at this point. Not the mountainous hills of Colorado, but don’t let that fool ya – there is a lot of climbing. You could not have asked for better weather. It was a cold day but not unbearably so. The starting temperature was about 10 degrees and it climbed up to about 15 during the course of the race. Throughout the day there were clouds, sun and even a little extra snow at times, but the wind was nonexistent!! That was truly the best part – no wind. I was a little worried earlier in the week when temperatures on Thursday morning were down in the minus 20 degree range and below. When it gets to that point I have to ask myself – “Why am I doing this!?”

There were skiers from around the world at the race and of every ability level, from the Olympic Athlete to the recreational skier like myself. My favorites were the men and women that were 70 years old and older doing the race. These racers were my inspiration to keep going when things got a little tough. Pretty amazing to see these guys moving along the trail. I hope that I am still able to do something of this magnitude when I am that age.

In order to get the full spirit of the Birkie I believe a little history is important. The race is named after the Norwegian Birkebeinerrennet, a cross country ski event in Norway which commemorates an important historical incident in Norwegian history. In 1206 a group of Birkebeiner party soldiers, who fought for Sverre Sigurdsson and his descendants in the Norwegian civil war, smuggled the illegitimate son of Norway’s King Hakon Sverresson from Lillehammer to safety in Trondheim. This event took place in 1206. For Norwegians, the survival of the child Hakon (he was named after his father) led eventually to the end of civil war in Norway. Hakon succeeded to the Norwegian throne in 1218. His reign lasted for a successful 40 plus years and is considered to have been Norway’s golden age. The painting below honors this historical event and is called “Skiing Birchlegs Crossing the Mountain with the Royal Child.” It was painted in 1868 by Norwegian painter – Knud Bergslien.

The commemorative Birkebeinerrennet ski event in Norway has been held since 1932. In the Norwegian event, skiers still carry packs symbolizing the weight of an 18 month old child.

The American Birkie was started by Wisconsin promoter Tony Wise in February of 1973. The race is held every February and now attracts about 10,000 skiers each year.

Well that is about it for me this week. Time to get some Alpine Skiing in before the snow melts and to continue training for the Quad Rock 50 in May. But before I go I would like to give a huge THANK YOU to all the volunteers that helped to insure the success of the 2015 American Birkebeiner. They are without a doubt the unsung heroes in an event of this magnitude.

 

Wednesday 4th, February 2015 – MY FIRST BLOG POST!!

I felt sorry for the commuter traffic this morning. I am sure that it was a mess getting around the tri – city area of Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland. I have had those days. Stuck in stop and go traffic – snow pouring down, stressed because I am going to be late to work and worried because I am afraid of being hit by the crazy person speeding on ice covered roads. There is always someone going too fast. Not sure what that is about? I want to shout “slow down” you are only going to be early for your own funeral!! (And maybe mine as well) My words if they could be heard would probably be wasted on deaf ears. Oh well – today was not one of those days.

It was not my turn to be at the day job. Got to stay home and savor the snow coming down. Did not have to worry about it. A good day to read, to write, to meditate and exercise. But I believe that the cat had the best idea for the day. The cat’s business for most of the day, every day, is just doing nothing – three hundred and sixty five days of the year. And true to her style that is what she did. There is something to be said for just laying around a hot wood stove savoring the heat and doing nothing. So I followed her example. Well if truth be told, for just part of the day. It was a nice snow day in Fort Collins.

After a little reading and writing the next order of business was “Exercise.” And on today’s menu: Running and walking the bike trail. The route that I took today included parts of the Power line, Spring Creek and the Poudre Trail for a total of about 8 miles. Very nice temperature of about 30 degrees, setting sun with broken clouds and no wind. It is days like today that remind me of how lucky I am to live in Fort Collins. In my opinion the trail and open space program in Fort Collins and Larimer County is second only to Boulders. I grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas. A city that for all of my youth did not have any bike or running trails except around the high school track. I have a great appreciation for what we have after coming from a place that had nothing. Just a note: Wichita Falls does have a limited bike and running trail now but plan to add more in the future.


Well this is my first Blog Post – I really do not have a plan at the moment to where this will lead – if anywhere? My feeling at the moment is that we all have a need to be acknowledged by the wider world in general. So this is my shout from the darkness so to speak. I hope that you the reader find the content interesting and feedback is welcome. This has been something that I wanted to do for a while – to tell a story about my life, where I live and the events that take place around me.