Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Eldorado Springs

I try not to drive to run, but my little Honda 250 gets 80 miles to the gallon so I don't feel so bad about it; I just feel like a bad example going 50 mph in running shorts and a T shirt. At least I wear a helmet; the odd thing is, I do take the precaution to put sunblock on exposed skin before I mount the bike. Oh, and I wore running shoes on the bike and on the run.

The area around Eldorado Springs has some nice single track. I only ran 8.3 miles there today, but that included about 1500 feet of vertical. I don't have much to say about today's run other than it was about 90 degrees (although the heat index would probably reduce that a bit because of dry air and a breeze). If I can get 12 miles tomorrow I'll have my first-ever 200 mile month.

The photos say everything else there is to say.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Expensive Socks Cheap Running "Shoes"

I decided to try the $6 Walmart Sand and Surf shoes today for a longer outing. The miles in them ended split up because I took Elliott out for 3.5 miles in the Baby Jogger in the late morning, brought Valerie to work at the cart, and returned to do 6.7 miles in the early afternoon on open space trails. I had bought a three pack of Pearl Izumi socks earlier in the week and found them to be too thin to wear with my Asics so I thought I'd try them with the Sand and Surf shoes. The "slippers" and socks worked fairly well together. (the irony is that each pair of socks costs the same as the "shoe" I ran in) I experienced a little slippage when there was a perpendicular slant to the trail or significant ascent or descent. The plus is that the slippage was given up between the socks and the insole of the slipper instead of my skin separating from the flesh of the sole of my foot as with the FiveFingers on inclines and cambers.

I finished off the day with a late afternoon run in Asics of 3.6 miles with Elliott in the running stroller again for a total of 13.8. I could have easily gone another five or six but it is difficult to justify running for three or four hours in a day when there are other priorities.

Friday, June 25, 2010

At least there's no Humidity

Often in the summer my runs get pushed to the hottest part of the day because of other pressing priorities. I know; it's hard to imagine. Today's hottest part of the day was 99 degrees. It was 93 yesterday; at this extreme, six degrees make a lot of difference so today I mixed up a half liter Gatorade to bring along. I filled the bottle full of ice and added water and Gatorade mix to fill up the remaining space; in less than two miles there was no longer any ice to clank against the plastic bottle. At three miles I decided to drink it; at least it was still refreshing. At five miles I dipped my head in an irrigation canal which coincided with the approach of much-appreciated cloud cover. From there it was all downhill, really. Arriving at the house, the iphone indicated 6.9 miles for the run which put me 2/10ths over my first ever over 60 miles in a seven day period.

Do you have Claustrophobia? ...maybe

Last Sunday, on Father's Day, I was scheduled for an MRI on my shoulder. The doctor was fairly certain I had a torn rotator cuff. I didn't think so; I felt there was some other cause of impingement. They had already ruled out a bone spur with an Xray. The doctors asked if I had injured it in some way. I told them that the pain began after the initial muscle pain of this year's seasonal flu shot subsided; I was left with not being able to lift my shoulder past a certain point similar to how it would be if you were to insert a stick of wood between a door and it's jamb. They poo-pooed the flu shot connection.

I arrived at the hospital, signed in, and was sent to the waiting room. I told them I would leave if they didn't change the channel to something other than Fox "News". I was able to stay.

I filled out a questionnaire related to medical history and MRIs. One of the questions asked if I had ever worked with metal tooling and another asked if I had ever had anything removed from my eye. Turns out the questions were intended to be related, but since I had worked with metal (30 years ago) and had a splinter of wood removed from an eye 35 years ago they felt an Xray was in order. They convinced me, rather easily, that I didn't want the magnet to draw a buried piece of metal through my eye to the surface. My eyes were fine so we proceeded.

I answered all the other questions with "no" except for the one that asked if I had claustrophobia. For that one, I made my own box with "maybe" and put an X in it. I'm OK with small spaces until I can't move or free myself and I didn't know whether that would be the case or not. Once I saw the unit, something akin to a big fat doughnut, I figured I would be able to handle it. It didn't look that confining; after all, I was certain that persons with larger girths than mine had to fit in there. Although the taper of the doughnut hole gives the illusion from the outside that there is more space than there is I soon discovered that I would be able to wriggle myself out if I wanted to.

Before being slid into the tube I was given earplugs to reduce the "jackhammering" sound and a panic button was put into my hand. Suddenly I was asking myself if I would panic, and started to panic a bit about that. That didn't seem fair. I was told it would be about 35 minutes and the technician slid me into the machine head first up to my thighs which left my hands at the outer edge. After about five minutes of lying in silence trying to decide whether I would deal with the confinement better with my eyes open or closed the technician's voice announced through a speaker that the machine had been warming up and was about to start. I called out asking whether that was included in the 35 minutes or not. No answer. Great, so she actually couldn't hear me. I'd try again, with a different question,"How much can I move?" No answer. Oh no, my nose itched; could I reach up and rub it? I could certainly crinkle it; that certainly couldn't mess up the imaging for my shoulder, but it really didn't make the itch go away either.

Then the noise began. It wasn't like a jackhammer, but rather what a loud repeating high voltage pterodactyl zapper might sound like. Did I have the genes of my grandmother who was tortured by a faucet dripping? Definitely. I was ready to give up secrets to the enemy. Thirty-five minutes? Had it even been a minute? All my innate time-keeping instincts were experiencing interference. OK, so I didn't have claustrophobia, but the question of amplified water dripping wasn't asked. Could I find my "happy place"? Should I squeeze the panic button. I decided to imagine being on a run, although that might be considered torture for some, a thirty-five minute run would be short. But, how would I know how far into it I was? I don't even like music when I run though and this was incessant. Suddenly, the noised stopped. That certainly wasn't 35 minutes; maybe it was the under promise - over deliver concept, tell them 35 minutes when it's only 10. No. Now it was time for the jackhammer.

To me it sounded more like a diesel on fast idle. Now I had something I could relate to; lying trapped under a low-rider semi. Could I ride this out? I still felt as if I were trying to endure a torture. The evilness of many tortures is that they allow uncertainty and fear to interplay with the subject's own mind. The worst of it here was I knew I was secure from everything, except my own mind. Then I noticed something; some time had passed and I felt almost meditative and numb as if I were about to doze off for an afternoon nap. The idling diesel was like a mantra. I was totally relaxed, as if floating in a sensory deprivation tank although I don't really know what that is like. I went with the flow; I was enjoying it. the diesel sound started a stopped three or four times and I was able to stay in the pleasure state. The voice came through the speaker again, announcing I was done.

The results came in the mail today: ...some tendinosis within the distal supraspinatus and suscapularis tendons with a little interstitial longitudinal tearing...the inferior joint capsule demonstrates significant thickening and edema throughout the capsule...the deltoid muscle is unremarkable (ouch, did they really have to throw in an insult!).

So, speaking with the doctor it sounds like, it sound like there is nothing to repair surgically, but things are somewhat of an inflamed mess in there. I have an appointment for Monday; I think a steroid injection might alleviate a lot of this; I think physical therapy is just going to irritate it more.

Going up a Level

I feel as though I have made a breakthrough in my running. There have only been two days so far in June that I haven't run and there have been several days when I have run twice. The exciting part is that the plantar faciitis seems to have abated. I don't know if this is from more minimalist running, more running in general, or as my sister says, PF seems to go away after a year all by itself.

If I run 8 miles today (very likely) I will have my first-ever seven day period of 60 miles. I ran over 10 miles each of the last two days with lots of hills and temperatures over 90 and it was easy. Right now I feel as though I could run 10 miles or more everyday. Today is supposed to reach 95 degrees; if the temperature goes higher than that I need to run near water to dip my head in occasionally.

I do feel some twinges in my knees occasionally, like when I push in the clutch while driving or when I put down the kickstand to the motorcycle. At least this is a warning sign I can monitor; if it gets worse I can rest it or ice it or medicate it or all over the above.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Joe Colton's Off Road Adventure Run

For someone who runs a lot, I don't participate in many races. Here in Colorado they cost too much. I like this race because of the longer distances measured in miles. There is a 5, 10, and 15 miles version. The race starts in Rollinsville, Colorado and goes west through an ever-rising valley toward the Continental Divide. The scenery is picturesque Colorado but I have to admit that my eyes mostly fell on the compacted dirt road.

It was already warm in Boulder when we left the house at 7:40; I said to Alex that if we get out of the car at 8400 feet and it doesn't feel cool, running is going to feel hot. There was no chill in the air when we stepped out, but maybe because of a slight breeze running was tolerable although we were under a cloudless sky.

All the runners started together, but since I was in the 15 mile race I was OK with starting toward the back. Also, with chip timing I would know my true time which ended up being 11 seconds faster. Even though I started toward the back I still found myself working my way through the crowd for a while. Alex started somewhere up toward the front.

Sadly, I came across Alex at about mile 4. He was struggling because of asthma possibly triggered by the altitude, although he had used his inhaler. Also he hasn't been sleeping well because of allergies. I was going to ask him if his deltoids and biceps were weighing him down because he has been doing lots of landscaping and his upper body is quite fit. He's had to deal with this on other occasions so I knew he would be OK although it would be no run. He stuck it out for the other six miles and ended up winning his age group and a $25 prize because he was the only one in his age group. No one under 20 ran the 10 mile race and nobody under 30 did the 15 mile race.

The course takes a gradual climb from about 8450 feet above sea level to 9200 before turning around. I felt good in every sense and enjoyed the running. After about six miles it seemed our positions had pretty much been settled; occasionally someone would go by me when I stopped for refreshments but I'd eventually catch them again. By the time I reached the turn-around it felt like I was alone on the road. I could see a person about a quarter of a mile ahead occasionally when the road was straight but I couldn't seem to close the gap. With about a half mile to go I did catch two people on a hill and then pushed on, feeling rather good, to the finish.

I finished in 2:18:37 which was a 9:16 per mile pace. It would be interesting to know how that would compare to sea level. I was 4th out of men 50-54, although I could also say I was last out of men in that age group. I finished 43rd of 73 overall. It may seem like nothing to be excited about. Running a race is always about competition with oneself, not with others, although I do like to think of myself as beating all the people who didn't run. That way, I feel closer to the top and not the bottom...but of course, that's not important either.

I encourage everyone to get out and put one foot in front of the other then repeat, and then do the same the following day, but either go a little farther or a little fast or both.

Friday, June 18, 2010

700 Miles

I reached 700 miles for the year today with an uneventful run. It was 85 degrees and dry, conditions I like to run in. I did come across a five foot long snake that I have yet to investigate what species it was. Tomorrow should be a rest day or a Vibram FiveFingers day because Alex and I are planning to run the Joe Colton Adventure Run. I'll do the 15 mile run and Alex says he's up for the 10 mile version.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Anemone Trail

I helped Valerie set up our jewelry cart; she was going to work it for the afternoon. I had worn the FiveFingers so I decided to do a quick mountain trail run before heading home. The first mile was a gradual uphill of Boulder neighborhood sidewalks. From there, things get serious right away. The next leg of the run was only a mile and a tenth but had an elevation gain of 800 feet. I didn't know the trail well and assumed that if I continued on further I would begin to loop back down, but instead found myself running to other little summits. I finally asked a hiker if he knew whether the trail loop around and he said that it didn't. Oh well.

I turned around and headed back from where I came. The trails were rather rocky and sandy, but no where near as brutal as Sanitas or the trails on Bear Mountain. No jammed toes today and no shattered iphone. The ascent took about 30 minutes and the descent including going the wrong way for a while was about 45 minutes. I've been feeling tenderness at the metatarsal-phalangeal joints to the little toe on both feet; I presume this is because that is where most of my bare footfalls are and the stone-laden trails exacerbate the issue. I don't notice it while in regular running shoes.

I've started the week off easy; Sunday I didn't run at all and yesterday was easy four mile jog with Elliott in the running stroller. I'm hoping to ramp up the miles here tomorrow and Thursday. Alex said he would do the Joe Colton Off-Road Adventure with me Saturday. It starts in Rollinsville at 9000 and gradually goes up. We did the 10 mile version a couple of years ago; it's a nice run. I want to do the 15 mile version this time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Six Dollar Running Shoes

Ruth has been dragging stuff out of storage for our neighborhood garage sale this weekend and found a pair of "Sand and Sun" shoes that I bought at Walmart a of years ago. I decided to give them a try. I went for a 3.3 mile pavement run with my running buddy (pictured) and they were fine, much like running in the FiveFingers, although they don't have great traction so I wouldn't recommend them for trails that require good grip.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bonus Day

I was anticipating a day off from running today, partly because I had already run the past ten days and felt a little spent after yesterday and it was supposed to reach 96 degrees today. We had a quick thunderstorm pass with some rain about 5:30 that cooled things off nicely. It hadn't reached the nineties anyway, but with the rain shower the temperature dropped to about 70.

We had dinner shortly after the rain ended; when Alex works we tend to eat early because he comes in hungry from doing heavy landscape work all day. I went out for a rare post(spaghetti and salad)dinner run and felt rather good so I ended up getting in 8.3 miles by the time the sun slipped behind the Rockies bringing my miles for the week up to 35.8 with Friday and Saturday left to go. I felt like I could have run forever with the lower temperatures, but maybe I'll do that Saturday since it is not supposed to get out of the fifties and be rainy.

The pictures are of:

1. Elliott playing chef on the kitchen floor just before catching his fingers between the cabinet door and the jamb.

2. The blogger mid-run

3. Longs Peak (a fourteener) visible in the single track trail at sunset

4. The plains of north-central Boulder County

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Miles are Miles

I understand the concept of junk miles, but I never feel like my miles belong in this category. At fifty-two moving the mass a given distance is work. Muscles move, calories are burned, and joints are jostled. It's all good, as they say. Today I squeezed in miles where and how I could. I had intended to run trails near Eldorado Springs for a couple of hours but my time ran short.

I rode my motorcycle over to a trailhead just east of Eldorado Springs, slipped off my jeans, switched running shoes for FiveFingers and headed out. I climbed about 500 feet over 2.1 miles of single track. It felt great, but on the way down I detected a blister developing on the ball of my foot at the base of the big toe. I was able to favor it the rest of the way down. I decided to switch back to the Asics but realized my time was running out so I got on the bike and rode home.

Ruth had an appointment so I was able to squeeze in 4 1/2 more miles along my old plodding ground of The Boulder Creek Trail. Later, Elliott was needing some time out of the house so I managed to tack on another 3.4 miles with him in the stroller. I ended the day with 11.8 miles pero no al estilo que esperaba. Oh well.

Yesterday's four miles involved pushing a running stroller and wearing running shoes. The day before that saw temperatures of 94 degrees; it was a nice opportunity to sweat a bit and put 7.5 miles in the books with some hill work to boot.

Today was the tenth day in a row that I've run since the rest day on the day before the Bolder Boulder. Maybe tomorrow will be a rest day and I'll be able to go for that two hour run on Friday. I need to locate the inov8s or NB 100 because, although the VFF are a thrill to mogul run up and down in they are not being kind to the bottoms of my feet.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hot, Inclined, and Crowded

Valerie and I worked our jewelry cart on the Pearl Street Mall today. It was the day of the annual Jewish Festival. At about 12:30 I decided it was sufficiently hot (85 degrees) that I needed to go for a run. Being closer to the mountains than I am at the house I felt that some vertical was in order. Mt. Sanitas was the closest and most accessible so I headed off in that direction. From where I was it was a gradual uphill for about a mile before the rocky trail up the mountain begins.
I ran everything I could and climbed the parts that were too treacherous. I had one misstep, stubbing my little toe that was already purple from a similar incident on Tuesday. Unfortunately, I lost a firm grip on my running companion and he went face first into the rocks; I understand that the iphone glass can be replaced. Total elevation gain on the trail was about 1400 ft. in 1.4 miles. The 2.3 mile run took 45 minutes. Oddly, the return trip was longer by about three minutes, I think because this type of running is somewhat like climbing a tree; it is easier to go up than come down. There were lots of hikers huffing and puffing; they must have thought I was crazy out there in FiveFinger slippers.

I feel some twinges of pain in my spine. I think this type of run, although fun just has too many possibilities for catastrophe. Just before the iphone did a face plant I was wondering if it would be prudent to wear a helmet. Certainly, my toes have been lucky so far. I think I will stick to more fifty-something-friendly trails.

The apparent rockfield in these pictures is truly the trail. Vista photos look over to Bear Mountain and down to Boulder and the University of Colorado.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hitting on Anton Krupicka's Mistress

I was waiting for the Bolder Boulder to be history before I began more adventure running. I decided to get acquainted with Anton Krupicka's mistress while he was resting on level ground somewhere. I decided the gentle approach was indicated so I wore my Vibram FiveFingers. In hindsight she is more the steel-toed hiking boot type. A helmet would even be prudent. She is hard and unforgiving. She has some impressive curves though, mostly of the 20% incline variety. It took an hour and fifteen minutes to summit Ms. Green. OK, enough of the mistress metaphor. From my starting point at Chautauqua Park to the summit was 2.73 miles with 2411 of rather technical vertical. I started out at an elevation of 5666 ft. above sea level and reached the summit at 8077 ft. above sea level. The descent was just as challenging and was slightly steeper because I took a route that was only 2.52 miles. (The highest point of the mountain in the background is the summit)

(Photo taken from about half way up looking down toward Boulder)
I am truly amazed that someone can run this up to four times a day and do each trip two and a half times faster than I did. Anton also often adds up to 25 additional mountain trail miles sometimes day after day.

(Photo taken from the summit looking over to the summit of Bear Mountain)

I was fortunate to just hyper-extend my big toe slipping on a large flat rock on the ascent and receive a rather curious bruise on my little toe which I didn't notice until this evening when I submerged my feet in an ice bath. I think this occurred when I momentarily glanced away from the trail. The balls of my feet feel as if they could have become one big blister if I had gone much farther. Although I came away relative unscathed and I had fun barefootin' this highly technical trail I consider myself lucky; more serious footwear is definitely indicated.

Bolder Boulder Report 2010

Monday was a beautiful Colorado day for the 32nd Bolder Boulder. I believe this was the 20th time I've participate since 1983. The sky was sunny and clear and the temperature was in the high 50's at 7AM. Like it is for so many of the 48,405 finishers, the Bolder Boulder is a Memorial Day tradition for Alex and I. As one can imagine, getting to the starting line with 50,000 people converging at one point and wanting to use a port-a-potty, although spread out over a couple of hours, can be a challenge, but Alex and I have it down. We drive to a little-known side street half way between the start and the finish and jog about a mile to the start leaving ourselves a handful of minutes to make sure bladders are empty and find our respective start waves. Alex started in the fifth wave and I began in the seventh wave so the starting pistol fired for us shortly after 7AM.

The Bolder Boulder is a good excuse for a morning party for anyone who lives along the race route. Runners are entertained by multiple amplified live bands along the course as well as belly dancers, bacon fryers, folks offering free beer, and even medical marijuana bong hits. I just took advantage of cups of water to dump on my head to keep refreshed.

My first two miles were right on target for pace but I let the third mile go 14 seconds over the goal somehow. The fourth mile was on target and they last two were a combined 45 seconds slower than anticipated although I thought I was cruising nicely. I ended up crossing the stadium finish line at 49:11 which was 37th out of 313 for 52 year old males. With so many runners in the Bolder Boulder, each age is an age group. Alex (bib # BB133 as pictured) finish in 45:36 and was happy with his time and reported that he had an enjoyable run.

We sat for a few minutes in the Folsom Field stadium taking in the scene and then headed down on foot to Le Peep for our traditional post-race breakfast although neither of us had the appetite we usually have. After omelets, buckwheat pancakes, and sausage we ran back to the car to reapply sunblock and then decide to drive home to check in to see if we were needed; Valerie had been at a sleepover and we didn't know whether she would need a ride.

We returned to the race about 10:45 and watched some of the final walkers head up to the stadium. We decided to watch the female and male elite races from the street and then run up to the stadium to observe the finale activities from inside. An Ethiopian woman was about two minutes ahead of the next closest runner at kilometer nine and most of the other runners were even farther back than that. In the men's race, three Ethiopian runners passed by shoulder to shoulder with only one other runner (from the Colorado team) in sight. As a team, the Colorado runners finished second, nicely beating out the Kenyan team.

Some people criticize participation in the Bolder Boulder as a self-indulgent Boulder-type diversion on Memorial Day, but it is when I feel most patriotic. Along the way I say many runners run with the names of fallen veterans pinned to their backs. Once in the stadium, most people are much more connected to their emotions after forty-five minutes or in some cases two hours of exertion. They are primed then to hear the song "I'm Proud to be an America" and of course The National Anthem, as well as listen to an elderly Congressional Medal of Honor recipient speak. Skydivers also paraglide into the stadium, each with a banner of a branch of the military with the last one trailing the American flag (as pictured). Air Force jets fly over timed to the end of the National Anthem performed powerfully by a selected local.

I did not feel as spent as I have in past years after the race. I think all the miles I put in this year helped in that regard. I think a little more goal-oriented training would have helped me run another ninety seconds faster, but I am content.

my split times

mile 1 7:30
mile 2 8:00
mile 3 8:14
mile 4 8:02
mile 5 7:52
mile 6 8:00
last .2 1:33

I was 3354 out of 22554 males and 4149 out of 48,405 finishers
Alex was 1811 out of 22554 males and 2098 overall