Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Summary

Numbers, numbers, numbers.  Part of me doesn't want to log another statistic and just go out and run.  But in the end, I do like to compare my progress over past years.  Then I figure it is good to share the numbers since I also like to see what others do in their training.  My non-running friends still can't believe me when I say I know many people who run nearly twice the mileage that I do.  Really it is just finding that balance that works for you individually, so I have no intentions of ever trying to break 3000 miles or some other magic number.  Besides, "total miles" is not that important of a statistic when it comes to trail running.  So here are the numbers for me in 2011.

2400 total miles with 83 miles of climbing (2010: 2281, 65)

Trail: 126 runs, 1717 miles, 66 miles vertical, 373 hours
Road:  45 runs, 320 miles, 1 mile vertical
Treadmill:  40 workouts, 190 miles, 16 miles vertical
Track: 30 workouts, 173 miles
Weight room:  119 workouts (approx 100 hours)
Rest days: 128

Monthly breakdown
January: 221 miles, 6.5 miles vertical
Februrary:  208, 6.2
March:       211, 6.3
April:         244, 7.9
May:          225, 8.2
June:          251, 7.2
July:           177, 6.4
August:      172, 6.5
September: 118, 4.6
October:     188, 6.7
November: 187, 6.3
December: 198, 10.3

Pretty consistent year with really only one down month in September.  I guess it was only fitting that I ended up exactly at 2400 miles for the year (didn't plan that) since I seem to hover around 200 miles a month.  With over 10 miles of vertical in December I think it is safe to say that Hardrock training has already begun.

Summits tagged in 2011:

Horsetooth Rock (elev 7208ft), 26 times
Arthurs Rock (elev 6772ft), 8 times
Round Mountain (elev 8458ft), 4 times
Greyrock Mountain (elev 7613ft), 3 times
Pikes Peak (elev 14,115ft)
Mount Meeker (elev 13,911ft)
West White Pine Mountain (elev 10,302ft)
Crosier Mountain (elev 9216ft)

Final reflections on 2011:

I'm really happy to see another year where I have been able to set a bunch of personal training records despite another year of wear and tear on the body.  This year was by far my biggest year of trail running.  At 373 hours (over an hour per day average on a trail), I feel like I am finally taking full advantage of the great resources I have here in Fort Collins and doing what I love to do most.  Winning my first race ever was a huge highlight for me as I thought it probably never would happen.  But it was no comparison to the biggest highlight of my running year, which was completing the last quarter mile of the Black Hills 100 with my daughter Madison.

Looking ahead to 2012:

Obviously, the Hardrock 100 will be the focus for my next 7 months.  Not that I needed any extra motivation to get out and run up mountains, but I know how privileged I am to be able to compete in this epic event and I want to give it everything I've got.  I have also put the Pikes Peak Marathon on my 2012 schedule.  I feel I still have a much better race in me for that mountain and if the rumours are true, I would love to witness what could be one of the most historical events in the sport of mountain running.  Kilian vs. Matt?

Racing is really just a tiny morsel of my trail running life and, as always, I look forward to exploring many new trails and summitting new peaks in 2012.  It is fantastic to see the trail running community here in Fort Collins continue to thrive and grow.  I expect the new Quad Rock races in May to be a true celebration of this.  Finally, I greatly appreciate the friendships and support of the other trail runners I have gotten to know over the past few years.  Happy New Year and see you on the trail!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Chubby Cheeks 2011

Another great day on the trails with old and new friends at the 2nd annual Chubby Cheeks.  I don't know the exact numbers, but I'm guessing we had somewhere around 50 runners today.  They came from all along the Front Range from Laramie, Wyoming down to Colorado Springs (CRUD showing up strong again) and as far west as Aspen.

I took off with the early 7am wave knowing that the pace would be a little slower than last year when we had clear and dry trails.  I was expecting to be out there about 8 hours today for the 50K (7000+ feet of climbing) and I was just about right.  In fact, no one went under 6 hours on the 50K this year.  I pretty much ran the first 14 miles to Arthurs Rock with my CRUD friend Rick (early favorite for the Quad Rock 50) and off and on with fellow FCTRs Kyle and Sarah.  Plus a few other out-of-towners who I was glad to play tour guide for.  Unfortunately, everyone opted for shorter courses so I ran alone for the next 7 miles around Lory State Park until getting back to Arthurs trailhead and our one aid station.  I hung out there for quite a while chatting with our awesome aid station volunteers, and then quickly lots of familiar faces started to accumulate from the various start times and course options.  I finally convinced the crew that it was getting a little too chilly standing around, so I took off with Pete and a strong group of 8am 50Kers.  I pushed along with them for a few miles before realizing I was working harder than I really wanted to today.  It wasn't long from there, however, until we were all back at Nick's warm house drinking beers, stuffing our faces, and giving our best excuses for running slow this year.  I thought the trails were just perfect today, but I don't think everyone agreed with me.

Huge thanks to Nick and family for opening their home again to a bunch of smelly runners.  I hope everyone had as much fun out there as I did today and it was great seeing you all!  I'm already looking forward to Ponderous Posterior in January.

All photos here.

On top of my favorite rock.

Rick Hessek crushing the climb on Stout Trail.

Kyle and Sarah trudging through Mill Creek Trail.

Rick and Brad enjoying the scenic Howard Trail.

Taking in the views from Arthur's Rock.

Aaron fixing everyone up at Arthurs Aid.

Top 50K woman Shannon finishing strong on Westridge Trail.

Complete certifiable results below (Young Money's 50K course record performance of 3 hours flat under review due to accusations of severe short-cutting of the course)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Latest Chubby Conditions

No waist deep snow drifts or breaking trail like on Sunday.  Conditions actually were pretty good today.  Some ankle deep fluffy stuff, some nice compacted snow, some bare and dry trails, and not much mud or ice.  If the temps stay cool as expected until Saturday, we should be in pretty good shape for the 2nd annual El Chubbo.

Well Gulch Trail

Overlook Trail

Valley Trail

Mill Creek Link Trail

Howard Trail

Timber Trail

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Silverton Bound

I felt such a calmness as I stood atop Horsetooth Rock this morning.  Fort Collins sitting below me in a frozen quietness.  The first light of the day exposing the glorious snow-covered Front Range.  I often like to pause and spend a few moments soaking it all in and thinking about how lucky I am to enjoy these Colorado mountains on my well-travelled feet.  The Hardrock lottery would be later in the morning and while I was hoping this would be the year, I told myself I really can't be disappointed if the outcome didn't go in my favor.  These Colorado mountains would still be here for me to enjoy regardless.  Well, as it turns out, I am #4 on the wait list.  I will be in Silverton on July 13, 2012, ready for the experience of a lifetime.

Enjoy a few pics from the morning.  Trail conditions will be a little different this year for Chubby Cheeks, but really just an excuse to run a little slower and take in the awesome scenery.  At least no one should have to break trail by Saturday (I took care of a fair amount of that this morning).

Fort Collins is going "ultra" on May 12, 2012 (should be snow-free).  Registration for the Quad Rock 50 (and 25-mile option) opens this Wednesday, December 7.

Audra Culver Trail

Westridge Trail

Mill Creek Trail

Getting the legs "Hardrock-ready"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hardrock Odds Updated

I just got my hands on some data courtesy of Hardrock legend Blake Wood.  These were the data I was missing when I approximated the odds of getting into Hardrock a couple of weeks ago (posted here), although it turned out that my assumptions then were not that far off.

As of November 28:
32 automatic entries taken from the capped field of 140
278 applicants with 1 ticket
219 applicants with 2 tickets
73 applicants with 3 tickets
30 applicants with 4 tickets
12 applicants with 5 tickets
14 applicants with 6 tickets

There are 1199 tickets in the hat for the remaining 108 spots.  Hopefully, not too many more applicants came in before today's deadline.  I doubt there will be enough to lower these odds very much.  So using the methods outlined in my earlier post, and assuming 30 get into the race from the wait list, here are your chances:

1 ticket = 12.2% chance of being at the starting line in Silverton on 7/13/2012
2 tickets = 22.9%
3 tickets = 32.3%
4 tickets = 40.6%
5 tickets = 47.9%
6 tickets = 54.2%

Drawing starts this Sunday at 10am MST.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Summary

The numbers for November:
Total Miles 187
Total Vertical Miles 6.3

12 Trail Runs, 124 miles, 4.7 vertical, 25 hours
5 Road Runs, 34 miles, 0.1 vertical, 4 hours
4 Treadmill Climbs, 18 miles, 1.5 vertical, 4 hours
2 Track Workouts, 11 miles, 0 vertical, 2 hours
12 Resistance Training, 9 hours
7 Rest Days

Almost a carbon copy of my October with the exception of a couple more road runs (including a rare road race).  I've already eclipsed my total miles and vertical for 2010.  Hardrock lottery this Sunday.

Tomorrow morning's forecast: Blowing snow, windchills in single digits (bring it on December!)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day Run 2011

So every now and then I get an itch for competition.  An itch to see if I can turn back the clock and pound out some 5 minute miles, okay 6 minute miles, and find out if I can still hold my own in this world of singlets, short shorts, and flashy racing flats.

The Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day 4 miler is probably the biggest and most competitive road race our town offers and it had been 16 years since I had truly "raced" this event.  I've done the race many times since then behind the wheels of a jogging stroller with one or two cheerleaders along for the ride.  Starting from the back of the pack of 1000 plus runners/joggers/walkers with a double-wide stroller is a whole other sport on its own.  "Hold on girls, we're jumping this curb and going for the sidewalk!"

It wasn't until Tuesday night that I finally decided to commit to this 20 plus minutes of pain.  Believe me, I am much less intimidated by a full day (or more) trail running event than a road race of any distance.  Seeing so many of the trail running crew signed up for the race as well really pushed me over the edge.

So what was the goal?  I have been regularly pushing the lactate threshold a couple times a week on the track, inclined treadmill, or on my time trial runs up to the "Rock" or "Towers".  I clocked a 6:03 on the last interval of a 4x1600 meter track workout just last week.  I figured that I should be able to run close to that pace for 4 miles on rested, race-ready legs.  So even though I was coming into this with very little training on the roads, I didn't feel totally unprepared.  Still unconvinced, I ran 4 road miles only somewhat uncomfortably at 6:40 pace Monday (the day after a 3 plus hour trail run).  Then another 10-mile "tempo run" on the roads Tuesday, where I was running under 7's on each of the last 4 miles, and I decided to submit the registration.  A sub-25 would be satisfying and a sub-24 might get me some pie to bring home for my "old farts" age group, but I knew better than to even entertain the idea of a PR.

I don't really know what it means to "taper" for a 4-mile race, but I was feeling fresher than I usually do on a typical Thursday.  An easy 90 minute trail run Wednesday and nothing too crazy in the weight room this week.  My prerace jog had my legs feeling pretty good, but my abs were quite sore from a workout on Tuesday.  Figured I was good to go.  I found some of the guys at the starting line (I was the only one wearing trail shoes) and we were off.

Mile 1 was painful, erratic, and not much fun.  Between battling for space and trying to find some kind of rhythm, I expected to see 7 plus minutes at the split.  A 6:15, however, had me just about where I wanted to be.  I thought I was holding pace in Mile 2, but a 6:40 split told me otherwise.  Okay, let's turn it loose down Mountain Avenue to make up for that last mile.  The legs refused.  A 6:39 and a 6:46 and I crossed the finish line in a depressing 26:20.  No pie today, as I finished 9th in my age group and 105th overall out of a huge field of 1772.

I can't really figure it out.  I think I just need to do more of these races to get faster again, but I don't plan on that.  Oh well, at least the girls thought I looked fast coming into the finish line.  That's really all that matters on this day.  This race makes for a great start to a Fort Collins Thanksgiving with friends, family, and too many extremely fast runners that I will just have to continue to chase.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Hardrock: What are the chances?

Been seeing a lot of chatter on the interwebs lately on how bleak the chances are of getting in to some of the increasingly popular big events for 2012 (namely Hardrock).  With the lottery soon approaching (December 1 deadline on the applications), I thought  I would crunch some numbers to see just how bleak my chances are for a July 13 date in Silverton with my 2 tickets in the hat this year.

Disclaimer:  I am not a professional statistician but just pretend to be now and then.  Feel free to comment on any of the BS below.

As of November 5, there were 427 applicants for the 140 spots.  Some projections I have read put the final number in the 700 to 800 range.  I'll assume 800 applicants on that final list.  Of course, some of those applicants are already in with automatic entries.  I'll project 30 of those.  That leaves 770 applicants for 110 spots, however past history shows that about 30 more will get in from the wait list.  Therefore, 770 applicants for 140 spots (110 plus 30 wait-listers).

This problem sets up nicely as a hypergeometric probability distribution, however we have another issue to deal with here.  The 770 applicants may have anywhere from 1 to 6 tickets in the hat.  I expect the distribution of the number of tickets per applicant to be skewed, with probably at least half of the applicants holding just 1 or 2 tickets.  I'll assume a mean of 2 tickets, giving a total of 1540 tickets in the hat.  Since a person can only take up one spot in the race, once their name is drawn any remaining tickets they have in the hat are excluded from the analysis.  Therefore, after each unsuccessful draw of your name, the next draw will have, on average, 2 less tickets in the hat (increasing your chances slightly with each draw).

The math:
If you have 1 ticket
P(not getting drawn in the 1st 140 draws) = (1539/1540)*(1537/1538)*(1535/1536)*...*(1261/1262)
                                                                   = 0.905

P(getting drawn) = 1 - 0.905 = 0.095 = 9.5% (about a 1 in 10 chance with 1 ticket)

By the same equations,
P(getting drawn with 2 tickets) = 0.182 = 18.2%
P(getting drawn with 3 tickets) = 0.260 = 26.0%
P(getting drawn with 4 tickets) = 0.331 = 33.1%
P(getting drawn with 5 tickets) = 0.395 = 39.5%
P(getting drawn with 6 tickets) = 0.453 = 45.3%

Feeling lucky?

I would analyze the Western States lottery, but I'm not even qualified to throw my name in that hat.  Go figure.  Qualified for Hardrock, but not Western States?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cougar bait?

I've never been too worried about the mountain lions choosing me as their breakfast.  No doubt they see me a lot more than I see them, especially when I'm hopping along in the pre-dawn hours with my headlamp.  I've had two previous encounters with lions while trail running in Fort Collins.  I saw my third one this morning.  I got a good long look at this awesome creature from about 10 feet away, through the window of my car.  Bad news was that I was spitting distance from the Soderberg trailhead where I was planning to trudge up Towers Road.  Also bummed I didn't have my camera.  Well I cancelled the popular 4:30am wave for Towers Thursday and decided to head on up to the Horsetooth Rock trailhead instead.  It was a more preferable run than Towers anyway, and the way the lion was looking at me, I thought it best to not invade his territory.  With our second major dumping of snow in the last 8 days yesterday, it was just a beautiful morning on the mountain!

Monday, October 31, 2011

October Summary

A solid month in the books.  I passed 2000 miles on Sunday, about a month earlier than last year, and have already exceeded my 2010 vertical of 65 miles.  In fact, this was my strongest month of vertical since June.  I'm finally seeing progress in the weight room again, as I hit it pretty hard this month.  I also endured the pain of several track and incline treadmill workouts.

October was about the daily grind, without really any blogworthy adventures, except for my Buckhorn run.  I can relate to Geoff's post a few days ago about the "daily run".  Why get up so early to run some trail you've run a hundred times?  Especially, knowing that it is still gonna be dark when you get back to the trailhead.  It's because I know that at some point midway though the run after shaking off the sleepiness, I'll look up at the star-filled sky, take a deep breath of the fresh air, flow effortlessly along the singletrack, and think of how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing at that moment.

October by the numbers:
188 miles, 6.7 vertical miles

Trail (11 runs), 127 miles, 4.4 vertical, 23 hours
Treadmill (5 runs), 27 miles, 2.3 vertical, 5 hours
Track (4 runs), 22 miles, 3 hours
Road (2 runs), 12 miles, 2 hours
Lift (15 workouts), 10 hours
Rest Days 9

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monument Gulch/Flowers Road/White Pine

This is kind of becoming a Columbus Day tradition.  Last Columbus Day I hit this area in full autumn glory (and no snow).  This time most of the aspens were past their prime colors, but still a gorgeous fall run.  It's hard to beat the Buckhorn region for a trail run this time of year.

Except for a couple miles of singletrack on the north slope of the White Pine mountains, this run is all fire road/jeep trail.  I did meet a couple of Jeeps but these roads are closed to ATVs.  This time I made a clockwise loop of it (as Pete and Nick did last year) starting from the Buckhorn Ranger Station and running to Monument Gulch, Flowers Road, and then up over the pass of the White Pine Mountains and back down to the Ranger Station.  Just under 17 miles with the added tag of the summit of West White Pine Mountain (elev 10,305 feet).  It was quite the trudge getting up the mountains with probably 6 inches of snow left from Saturday's storm.

16.68 miles, 3917 feet climbed, GPS data here

Sunday, October 9, 2011

First Snow

The first snow of the season here in Fort Collins yesterday.  Well actually it was only rain in town, but just a little frosting on Horsetooth Mountain.  I had planned a loop over White Pine Mountain (a great fall run), but the storm was significant enough out there to change plans.  I'm never disappointed, however, running the local trails in Horsetooth and Lory Parks.  The cool air this morning felt great!  I even had some company near the end of my run when I hit the Soderberg/Spring Creek junction.  My second bear sighting this year in Horsetooth Park.

Just a week ago we were pushing 90 degrees at the Blue Sky Marathon.  I've added some photos to my sidebar (they are also on the race website) as I once again enjoyed hanging out at the Towers Road aid station.  A great opportunity coming up to run some Fort Collins trails on October 22 and save a life.

A successful controlled burn on Tuesday.

Friday, September 30, 2011

September Summary

The totals for September:
118 miles, 4.6 vertical miles

The breakdown:
8 trail runs, 84 miles, 3.8 vertical miles, 22 hours
2 road runs, 13mi, 0.1vm, 2hrs
2 track workouts, 10mi, 0vm, 2hrs
2 treadmill workouts, 11mi, 0.7vm, 2hrs
9 weight lifting, 9 hrs
16 rest days

I took 12 straight rest days in the early part of the month due to a bad cold, easily making these my lowest monthly totals all year.  I can't remember the last time I took this many days off in a row, but I felt like crap and had no need to rush back into it.  It definitely gave me a renewed vigor as soon as I stepped foot on a trail again.

I love this time of year, except for the late sunrise.  Only 2 of my runs all month involved daylight.  Hopefully, I'll get up for some more alpine scrambling and peak bagging before it gets buried in the white stuff.  I've also got to get out to some of the great foliage areas (i.e. Flowers Road/White Pine) which are peaking right about now.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nightfall on the Wild Basin

I had the rare opportunity for a late afternoon/evening adventure in the beautiful Wild Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park.  I took off from the Wild Basin trailhead at 5pm Saturday with the goal up getting up high enough to take in some sights and scout some future peak routes before dark.

I was not accustomed to the crowded trailhead and steady stream of hikers, mostly families heading up to (or back from) the Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls.  I normally tend to be the first one to a trailhead in the morning.  However, the crowds thinned quickly as I opted to head up toward the Lion Lakes.  The last person I saw was at the trail split for Lion or Thunder Lakes at 4 miles from the trailhead.  It was then just me, the beautiful mountains, and the dwindling daylight.

Staring at Chiefs Head Peak on the final piece of singletrack approaching Lion Lake #1.
After passing by Lion Lake #1, the largest of the Lion Lakes right at timberline and 6 miles from the trailhead, there was no more real trail to follow.  I had some thoughts of trying to obtain the North Ridge and loop around the summit of Chiefs Head, but I think that route would be better approached from Sandbeach Lake and Mount Orton.  There is also a very nice trail up to Sandbeach Lake that I hiked several years ago and would love to get back to.  What was really gaining most of my attention, though, was the awesome looking peak of Mount Alice.

Mount Alice as seen from Lion Lake #1.
I meandered a bit, taking in all of the scenery and slowly gaining some altitude up toward Lion Lake #2 while passing by some really cool waterfalls.  I then thought it would be nice to hit the pass between Alice and Chiefs Head in time to catch the sunset.

Waterfalls draining from Lion Lake #2.

As I continued to climb and the sun continued to set, I admired the late evening hues reflecting off Chiefs Head and was even more captivated by the spectacular face of Mount Alice.  I had made my way onto a ridge to the west of the lakes that allowed for a nice route to the pass with a mix of stable boulder fields and soft tundra.

Last bit of sunlight on Chiefs Head.

Mount Alice.

A nice ridge approach to the pass.

I reached the pass (8 miles from the trailhead) shortly after sunset, but still had a pretty sweet view of the red sky to the West.  There were also nice views of McHenry's Peak and I could make out the Spearhead poking up over the horizon to the East.  Chiefs Head was still obstructing any views of Pagoda or Longs.

Looking West from the Continental Divide.

McHenry's Peak (another of many great 13ers in the Park).

The conditions on the pass were perfect and pretty amazing for late September.  No wind and I had yet to put anything on over my t-shirt.  Just a week ago there were winter conditions up here and several inches of snow.  I broke out my headlamp and a long sleeve shirt and toyed with the idea of still summiting Alice.  It turns out to be a fairly technical route getting Alice from this side, at least as far as I could tell from my headlamp.  I scurried up a little ways in the dark, but thought better to come back another time.  I played it safe and returned my same route and was back at the trailhead at 10pm.

I didn't even mention the nice colors from the aspens down nearer the trailhead as Fall is in full swing.  Without a doubt, there are lots of great adventures to be had in the Wild Basin.  I think a traverse of all the peaks surrounding this basin would be pretty epic, but of course there are also many great options for breaking it into a few smaller loops/traverses as well.

Tonight's run/hike/scramble:
16.48 miles, 4247 feet climbed, GPS data here