The Journal is Difficult/2018 Race Schedule

I find myself struggling to stay motivated to write weekly updates that are glorified summaries of my training. Although it is beneficial for me to personally recap the week, I feel the journal serves as an unnecessary step in recounting my training for a couple reasons:

  1. I can see all my training data on Strava and via my Garmin. The data I tend to put on here is imprecise at best and, at worst, paints an inaccurate picture of each day. I don't put in the effort to talk about whether or not the vertical gain was via rolling hills or one continuous uphill push---I could write about this in the description below, but honestly that seems tedious when I have two separate applications which compile that data for me automatically. In addition, while I am (obviously) interested by data, I would prefer that it doesn't consume my every waking moment.
  2. I already recount my training days in a note to my coach, David Roche. While those aren't always super in depth and are usually filled with sentence fragments and exclamation points, it gets the job done. Recapping it for a third time seems like overkill.
  3. There are only so many ways I can say, "The sun was beautiful" without sounding like a pretentious ass while I write. Trying actively to keep that to a minimum.

Because of all this, I have honestly no clue what the future of this journal will hold. Most likely random thoughts. Perhaps a bit of everything. I have a few goals in mind, but none of them are fully formed and quite honestly there are currently more important things in my life than keeping up a blog that, at this point, is only mildly interesting to anyone reading. My hope is to create something that is at least moderately interesting, but I'm not setting the bar that high yet.

If you care enough about my training, you should be able to see it all on the main homepage. And now, *drumroll please* I will present to you a fairly preliminary 2018 Race Schedule!

 

February 17: Red Hot Moab 55k. 

April 14: Rattler Trail Race 25k

April 28: Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race 50k

June 15-17: Broken Arrow Sky Race 52k.

July 22: Kendall Mountain Run

July 28-29: Audi Power of Four 25k.

August 31-September 2: The Rut 50k

October 6-7: Flagstaff Sky Race 55k.

 

Music/Video of the Week:

Well, it is officially Christmas season.

10/9-10/15

Monday: Rest day

Tuesday: 8.3 miles (1:24) 1528'

The day after a freak snow. I walk outside around at noon to hear the sound of rapidly melting snow coming off tree branches in clumps and melting into large pools of water beneath. The temperature is approaching 60, but the breeze coming off of the still remaining snow reduces this temperature to somewhere around 50. I start running with my long sleeve merino wool top on. This is dumb. I know from experience that I will take this off within minutes. I run uphill on the sidewalk for the first mile until the trail. Instead of taking my normal route around the flatter regions, I decide to continue uphill to connect a loop around the foothills.

There is snow falling all around me as I encounter more and more slush on the way up. The temperature drops, but I have taken off my merino wool top and am now running shirtless and only vaguely aware of the temperature change. I continue uphill and come to an abrupt cliff wall. Without realizing it I had missed my turn along the foothills and had inadvertently climbed toward Bear Peak. Wanting to see the peak but knowing that my legs would prefer a bit flatter terrain, I turned back from the alluring mountain and quickly found the turnoff I had missed.

It is no wonder that I missed the turnoff. No tracks. I was the first one to break trail today. My legs mushed through slush and straight puddles as I avoided the bombardment of snow crashing down from above me. The trail began to angle downwards instead of up and I watched my footing as there was still some threatening ice in the more shaded areas of the trail. Smiling, I hit the downhill switchbacks and rejoined my common path. The way had turned more to mud and less to anything resembling snow at this point. In the distance, I could see the dusting of snow that is normally visible after a cold dewy morning on a dry December, but nothing of the inches that fell the day before. 

I rapidly ascended a bit through one of the many open grazing areas and back onto pavement for my final descent toward home. A good recovery run. 

Wednesday: 6 miles (:50) 554'

These are my boring runs. The routine ones that aid your body, but don't feed you spiritually or emotionally in any way. These runs are like doing the dishes: a thing you do begrudgingly because you enjoy the feeling of having done it. Normally, these runs do offer a bit of satisfaction during the run. But they are too short to have ample time to appreciate your surroundings. At least for me. It takes a while to settle into your breath and the run and forget time. 

On the other hand, these runs prepare me physically for the longer trips. I can't say that I am always at odds with these short bursts of energy, but I can't say I am in love with them either.

Strangely, I am feeling the problem in my left leg again. Retrospectively, I can tell that it is an IT Band problem. The unfortunate part of this is that I have never had IT issues. Hoping for the best.

Thursday: 8 miles (1:08) 551'

A bit longer run around mostly the same terrain as yesterday. I can feel the IT problem but don't even want to bring it up with my coach. The problem seems like such a little thing to complain about, and there are times where I feel that I am always "injured". Which is to say, not 100% healthy. I am still attempting to find that balance on when being injured is a call for rest and when it is a call for battle; to push through the pain.

Friday: 6.1 miles (:51) 515'

Same route. Most exciting thing about the run today is that I ran with clean shorts(!) for the first time in a few days. 

Other than that, kind of struggling in my first weeks of getting my new "business" off the ground. I hesitate to say business, as I am---for all intents and purposes---working as an online retailer through an already existing website. It doesn't feel like a real business. But the money is real. The possible losses and profits are real. I suppose that makes it as bonafide as it can be.

Saturday: 0

Struggling with the IT band. No clue what to do.

Instead of running, I spent my day working and I did manage to get through more of The Pale King, which I cannot necessarily say I enjoy, but is assuredly an evocative read. Much more than being about the plot, the book swims in the realm of the plot being a throwaway piece to a book that is a thinly veiled introspection into human emotions and motivations. In other words, not something I would recommend to everyone, but highly intriguing and oddly gripping.

Sunday: 1.5 miles (:14) 173'

YOWCH. Hardly worth recognizing that I ran today. The plan was to run much more than this, but when I am struggling with my IT problems and out of nowhere end up feeling the band even while doing beginning stretches, I know something isn't quite right. Would love to get this solved. The "injury" is zapping my enthusiasm as I sit on the couch instead of putting in the work.

 

Music/Video of the Week:

10/2-10/8

Monday: 0

I'm probably fine, just being extra cautious about my left hamstring/leg at this point. Took the opportunity to start back up on reading my first David Foster Wallace book, The Pale King. The beginning definitely dragged a lot for me, and so it has been difficult to pick this one back up.

Tuesday: 0

I could've ran today, just went on a small walk instead to feel out. Everything feels ok.

Wednesday: 6 miles (:50) 554'

Finally out and running. Nice to have the blood flow going through and pumping. The route was my easy, typical one from the house.

Thursday: 6 miles (:52) 557'

Same route, same basic feel. Legs feel super fresh now. I decided to go to a one night showing of "Rogue Elements", a new ski movie from Teton Gravity Research. Of course the visuals and cinematography were phenomenal, but the real killer was the soundtrack. I'll be looping that soundtrack for weeks.

Friday: 6 miles (:49) 521'

This log is getting a bit boring. It has now been 3 days in a row of the same exact route. Other than running, I've been spending a lot of time every day learning a new computer program.

Saturday: 16.2 miles (4:15) 4615'

Woke up today and planned on going through the 5 summits in Boulder: South Boulder Peak, Bear Peak, Green Mountain, Flagstaff Mountain, and Mount Sanitas. I started my run from the south side and got the steepest climb out of the way first. I didn't quite realize how steep it was going to be. The trail up Shadow Canyon averages out to around 33% until the switch off to the summit of South Boulder. I was thoroughly exhausted by the end. I went left and had to avoid fallen trees from the wind the night before and scrambled up a small talus field before hitting the top and admiring the snowcapped mountains in the distance before heading toward Bear.

While coming down from South Boulder, I took a wrong step and rolled my ankle to a point where I heard a pop and immediately felt pain. I went down and let myself sit with the ankle for a while, deciding whether or not to go on. After a minute or two, the pain seemed as though it subsided. I continued down South Boulder and up to the top of Bear Peak. As the view was roughly the same, I spent much less time on the top of Bear. 

The west ridge coming down from Bear is relatively technical and forced me to go slow as to not aggravate my ankle even more. After half a mile or so the trail smoothed out and allowed for a solid mile or two of easily runnable climbing toward Green. I still felt decent, but I could tell the muscles in my thighs were screaming at me to stop.

As I meandered up to the top of Green I ran into Dave Mackey, a sight I am becoming relatively accustomed to in these mountains. We talked for half a minute or so before I started back down, figuring out whether or not I wanted to go to Flagstaff Mountain or not.

My decision was made for me. As I ran down the mountain I could feel the weakness in my legs contributing to poor foot placement. With my already slightly injured ankle, I decided to come on down and take the easy route back home.

Sunday: 15.2 miles (2:22) 1151'

Woke up and could feel my ankle just a bit, but not enough to stop me from running for the day. I drove out to Marshall Mesa and took the relatively flat long loop. My legs felt shockingly strong, although I could tell they were tired when climbed the few climbs that were available.

Video/Music of the Week:

9/25-10/1

Monday: 10.2 miles (1:31) 846'

A bit of an abnormal day for running today. I woke up---in my now normal fashion---later than I anticipated. Although I love the bite in the air it seems to create a bit more drowsiness than I am used to. Instead of changing into my running clothes and beginning my day with a battle of wills to push through the first mile or so, I decided to go directly to my "working" coffee shop and begin writing. I was able to focus through a solid two hours of work before taking a break and observing my surroundings. Just then, a man walked in the door of the shop and asked for a sandwich with lettuce. Unfortunately for him, this shop doesn't have readily available cut lettuce, just a head of it in the fridge. He was offered arugula and he refused, getting angry. The whole coffee shop seemed to listen in as the poor cashier was bombarded by silly yells of discontent from the arugula-disdaining customer. When he turned to leave, the shop breathed a collective breath, only to be thwarted by his abrupt about-face to belittle the cashier anymore. After all this happened, although funny, I felt it was appropriate to go and continue the rest of my day.

In a rare state of content in the afternoon, not feeling stressed about getting anything done, I finally pulled on my running clothes and jaunted out around 2:00. I began running on my typical route through Shanahan and Greenbrier, but decided to check out some of the surface roads. I ended up running around Fairview High School and up a substantial hill before coming back home. Probably the best afternoon run I have experienced in a while.

Tuesday: 0

Wednesday: 8.5 miles (1:12) 387'

A flat one exploring some of the concrete and asphalt of Boulder. An enjoyable little run. My left hamstring is acting strangely. It is shooting weakness. Very strange.

Thursday: 7 miles (1:04) 1,236'

This was a good day. Had to do descending hills. 4 minute, 3, 2, 1. I really wasn't looking forward to this and my left hamstring was acting up again before the climb. I stopped for a few minutes and began pounding into the hills. My hamstring issues went away and I completed the climb with ease. Came back home on a nice 7:30ish pace.

Friday: 6 miles (:51) 518'

An easy run before a longer weekend. Hamstring still weird.

Saturday:0

Sunday:0

Two zero days in a row with some important mileage I wanted to delve into. Unfortunately my hamstring got worse. I could have ran through it, but I decided against it. I would prefer to have a healthy hamstring going into this last stretch.

 

Music/Video of the Week:

A new update on SpaceX. Some exciting new developments going on.

 

 

9/18-9/24

Monday: 10 miles (1:27) 765'

Typical jaunt right outside my home and onto the Shanahan Trail and connecting into South Boulder Creek.

Tuesday: 0

Rest day

Wednesday: 10.45 miles (1:37) 764'

Same as Monday. I'm ok with this route, although it gets a little boring to me. May have to change this up to only a once/week sort of route.

Thursday: 9.1 miles (1:12) 550'

Was going to go down on Boulder Creek but ended up waking up a little later and wasn't looking forward to competing with all the people down in central Boulder. Found some nice flats around my place and was able to work some intervals.

Friday: 6.1 miles (:54) 442'

An easy Marshall Mesa run before a longer day in Eldo tomorrow.

Saturday: 14.5 miles (3:20) 3677'

Woke up to a misty, cold morning. Put on my merino wool long sleeve, brought my Arc'Teryx rain jacket and clamored inside my car. Somehow, this was my first trip over to Eldo State Park and I have no idea how I haven't visited before today. I drove through the fog covered town and past rock-climbers trying to convince themselves that it was going to be a dry day.

I parked beside Eldorado Canyon Trail and immediately began going up; my heart rate jumped up to searing levels within two minutes of beginning my climb. As I was passing a couple, I was informed that I had just passed a large bull moose. Of course I looked back to see if I could make him out, but I had already climbed too far away to be able to see.

The climb continued into the misty upper reaches of forested mountain fog. After a few brief respites of lower intensity climbs and meter long descents I was greeted by an open view of the canyon below, spreading out into a chain of mountains whose summits I have not yet been acquainted. Somewhere in the blank whiteness beyond the mountains lay the continental divide, which remained invisible. I turned my legs back to the trail and was delighted to find a downhill trail. Technical but runnable. 

I arrived down at one of the many entrances to Walker Ranch Loop. The trail to my left held a creek which ran with the force of the rain from the night before and in anticipation of the rain to come. I turned left and began another climb uphill. The singletrack trail that had been my singular route on the Eldo Canyon route turned into a fire road. I trudged uphill and past a few struggling mountain bikers before making it to more level ground and a return of singletrack. There was a distinct change in the temperature as I turned the corner and landed on the side of another mountain. The rain began sprinkling down in small clumps and I decided to put on my rain jacket which was nestled inside my small pack.

I continued in much of the same way, gradually seeing less people as the rain hardened and the skies darkened. This is always my favorite feel. The loneliness and cold and damp and dreary feeling of being alone and feeling complete in one singular moment that means nothing except what I make it mean. This is a feeling I strive for on my runs. A reason why I don't care for the distractions of music---I also have ears that cannot fit any in-ear headphones; the moment allows me to feel free of everything except for how I feel in the moment. And most of the time, that feeling is best described as blissfully burdened by the pain in my legs and the searing in my lungs.

I made my way along one last ridge when I stumbled across some mountain bikers who were looking at a sign next to a diverging path. After a bit of discussion, we both decided to go downhill instead of uphill, and it was the right choice. The downhill was the first time during the loop that I was able to run without struggle for an extended period of time. Easy, simple, relatively nontechnical dirt. Before I knew it, I was back at the trailhead to Eldo Canyon. I climbed up as I had before and landed back in my car within the 30 minutes. I never did see that moose, but what a glorious day it was.

Sunday: 13.1 miles (2:15) 1223'

I woke up late again. This has become a bit of a habit I would like to escape from. There is a bit of life that loses in vigor when a morning begins with a stalled alarm and a head burying back into a pillow which has lost the comfort of the night. But eventually, I woke up to revel once more in the cold mountain air that surrounded me.

My coach told me to take this day "extra chill" and so I decided to go explore some more new trails under the underpass which lays next to Marshall Mesa. The Mesa is typically jam-packed on the weekend, so I was pleasantly surprised to see few cars sitting in the parking lot. The rain had pushed through the previous night and continued in a shy spit as I warmed up and began the small opening climb toward the underpass. 

I passed through to the other side of the road and began feeling the heavy clinging of mud on my shoes. The trail was a different kind of soil: a clay like substance left over from the inland sea which used to cover this part of Colorado. With shoes that easily weighed an extra pound or two, I felt heavy. Even heavier on the uphills while I slipped in my shod yet now completely unsticky soles. I was annoyed until I looked up at the cloud-covered trees ahead of me. The mountains disappeared into the clouds and left only the shadows of Ponderosa Pines and Douglas-Firs.

The run became mystical. I felt entranced by the landscape hidden behind the fog and the small details that I could see. I wound my way through trees and across a well manicured bridge which crossed the South Boulder Creek diversion canal out in the middle of seemingly nowhere which was definitely somewhere. The land felt pristine. Beyond the footprints and a single bottle a foot outside of a trash can, there was little evidence of human interference. 

The rest of the run blew by in a haze and before I knew it I was involved in an unspoken downhill race with another runner. We both knew of the race and almost involuntarily pressed the pace to our cars. Without exchanging more than a sentence or two, we arrived at our cars and began our post run routines before going back to our separate homes. A wonderful way to end the week.

 

Extras:

Two of my good friends had some sweet race results this week. My friend Jax Mariash won the TNF Park City 50 just a few weeks after she competed in a long bike race. My other friend Filippo Rossi was second in a competitive stage race in the Iranian desert.

 

Music/Video of the Week:

Enjoy. Mt. Joy has two other original songs, both of which I enjoy.