Friday, November 28, 2014

On and Off

The day after Thanksgiving is an odd one. I don't eat like a fool on Thanksgiving so I am usually ready to do something on my feet. is was On and Off for 7 miles. I ran from Boulder to Gunbarrel and snagged a ride home.

On and Off runs are fun and mentally easy. Run mile 1 easy and then drill mile 2 and then recover on mile 3 and then kill mile 4 and then breathe through your eyelids on mile 5 and then coast on mile 6 and then I did medium pace for the final mile. I finshed the run with an 8:13 avg (including an emergency bathroom stop). It's the off season so my fast miles were 7:06, 7:08 and a 7:10. I can run faster and will. For now, it's late November and I'll accept it.

Excited for the weekend. Thinking of Boulder to Gunbarrel to Coot to Eagle to Wonderland to Boulder. First I have a BUFFS game to attend!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Grip of Death

Racing can be fun, spiritual and sometimes downright nasty. I have had my share of all aspects of racing from cycling to tri to running. Great days when the course seemed made for my strengths, to days when I have rolled back to the parking lot with a blow-out tube hanging from my jersey pocket deflated (me and the tube). I have been pushed (and pushed back), punched, yelled at, wrecked, trashed talked and almost thrown-up on! Out of all of these aspects of the race the one aspect I enjoy is the Grip of Death…also know as G.O.D.

The grip of death is not exclusive to me, nor can I always pull it off. I've used it mostly in running. It takes a great deal of strength and confidence to get it right. Failure to do so can lead to embarrassment and frustration. Bjarne Riis used the G.O.D. in the 1996 Tour, on stage 16 in the mountains. Here is how the grip works:

If you are in a break away, or mano-a mano with a competitor (best used here) the G.O.D. can be a handy tool. I taught myself to use “The Grip” during 5K and 10K races. It also has worked well on the bike. If you can’t seem to lose a fellow competitor, especially one with the same age group written on their calf as you, I would try this trick. While running side by side start with a little surge of maybe 5% over current speed. I like to use this in the corners as it seems to catch people off guard. Then idle back and let them catch back up. You don’t want to upset them…you want to destroy them.

After about another minute or two, try another little surge. Upping the tempo on a little hill works well. The goal is to not make the surges look like attacks. The goal is to get the competition to think they are fading. This is the “Grip”. If you can put doubt in a competitor’s mind the battle is almost won. If you piss them off…the battle has just begun. I know this from telling a Clydesdale I was impressed with his use of his weight and gravity on a downhill during the bike leg of a tri in Georgia. It pissed him off and for 45 seconds he kicked up into the red zone to chase me down for a mile or so and then did an “M-80.” Oh yeah…he blew up!

So, now that you have a little doubt seeping into the mind of the competitor it is time to bring the “Death” part of the equation. When you have fully recovered from the two surges, drop back a few inches from the field of vision of the competitor. Let him forget you are there…he may think you are the one that is fading. Now s-l-o-w-l-y pull up next to him (a look of ease on your face helps) and lengthen your stride and hold on for a good minute. You don’t have to go into the red but you will be working. DO NOT LOOK BACK! Just keep going. In four minutes or so sneak a peek as you round a corner. If done correctly, the G.O.D. should have been too much for the competitor and he/she will be gone. If at this point your competitor is still in your zip code you have a fight on your hands. Start cooking the corners and making slight gaps. It will annoy the crap out of them.

Remember: gaps=doubt. If you still have company it will probably go to the finishing sprint. Don’t start the sprint from front. Stay at the competitor’s side and wait until they start the sprint. At this point give it all you have no matter how much it hurts. The pain will be gone 45 seconds after the finish. The disappointment will last for hours…or until you get to the nearest bottle of beer.

By the way…if you try to “Grip of Death” me I have another little “something” I guarantee you will not like.

Friday, January 20, 2012

2-Week's Notice

I hope that title is punctuated correctly. I don't want the author of "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" to come after me. Anyway, the picture to the left is what it looks like to finish a 50-mile run. I've titled it "Banged" because there's nothing left at the end-you're shot. You're covered in salt, gels, drink and stink! Who wants a hug?

OK - on with the show. In two weeks I should be on a plane heading to Texas to knock out my 3rd 50 in under six months. I'll be invading the Rocky Raccoon 50 with my teammate Davo. It's going to be exciting to hear how he enjoyed his first 50-miler. He's a 3:00 marathoner and I'm wondering how the extra 23.8 miles are going to treat his legs and his mind.

I say mind because it's not all about legs once you get over 3-4 hours of running. You need to be mentally strong (and a little crazy). The little aches, pains and stomach bugs start playing with your head. It's not really fear that sinks's more like desperation. Most people can suffer through a marathon. It's when you have to double the distance that a new level of "spirituality" comes to the forefront. I've seen the faces of runners pulling out 30 miles into a race and they are marked with despair. They've trained and have been dreaming of this day for months and it's falling apart. They would trade just about anything to be able to finish and get that medal.

This is where the bargaining starts in the brain. OK legs...get me up that next rise and I swear I will give you a month off from running. My personal favorite: Come on body-just keep chugging to the finish line and I swear I will stop drinking beer and even stop cursing (not easy for us Irish).

You know, for all the crap Tim Tebow gets for praying as a football player I would like to remind us all of some of the prayers we have put forth.

Who hasn't thought/said the following prayers?

1. Dear God, please don't let me crap my shorts!
2. Oh God, please don't let that be a bear.
3. God can you make this pain in my knee go away for just another 4-hours?
4. Please God please let that be an aid station at the top of this climb.
5. Lord Almighty can you please help me push negative splits to make my PR?
6. Can you give that guy that just passed me a cramp? Just a little calf cramp...

Do any of these sound familiar? Care to add any?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Shiz(not)

Sometimes I run so much I forget that nobody really cares if I'm a runner. It happens in a lot of sports. Surely if I am spending 14-hours a week running some one should not only care but probably be paying the bill. I can't believe I'm paying for my own running shoes...what the hell?

And so it goes with us "half-letes" these days. Since we chose to dedicate our lives to something for OUR OWN good we must be looked up at, paraded around as talented and thus treats of shoes, visors and socks should fall from the sky. ALL HAIL THIS MIGHTY ATHLETE!

But...who cares? And who the hell should? Go for your run, swim or bike (yes, tri-geeks I know that is not the proper order) and then get back to work or whatever you do. I don't need to be lectured, Tweeted at or Facebooked that you went for a bike ride...
Want to send out an important Tweet? Let me know the next time you are going to the grocery store so I can have you pick up some frozen pizza for me. I don't care that you are the Mayor of Starbucks in Boulder.

And for God's sake have fun while you are out there! Say "hello" to another runner or walker. Wave at a cyclist. I find it so amusing that I can look you right in the eye and say hello and you just ignore me. NEWSFLASH: You're not on a Wheaties box so you can at least be polite. Stop taking yourself so seriously-it's just running.

XOXO-The idiot that likes to be social (in person) and is enjoying every minute of it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Darn Tough and Damn Good!

I won't lie...I have a reputation of being a bit of a Diva when it comes to racing and my gear. I've been known to have shoes waiting for me halfway through marathons as well as calls to my coach placed for me in the middle of an Ironman. My wife/support crew knows I have a reputation for being a little no brown M&M's backstage Van Halen picky.

So when it comes to socks and shoes it's best to stay as far back as possible and not make eye contact. There must be a picture of me behind the counter at the Boulder Running Company. Lookout for this freak! My wife, not at all deterred by my wrath, brought home some Darn Tough wool running socks for me to try.

The Diva in me already spotted the toe seam from across the room. My wife had brought home some socks from the OR Show in Utah and was excited for me to give them a try. I was not so excited. But she prodded that they came with a Lifetime Guarantee and are what a lot of ultra runners are wearing. OK...(insert askew glance here) I'll try them.

For starters I like black socks. Long ago I heard pro basketball teams used black socks and footwear to make their running look slower than it actually was and trick the competition. I thought it couldn't hurt in running to perhaps lull some of my age groupers to sleep. With size 13 feet black socks and shoes also make for smaller looking feet and these paddle boats need all the help they can get.

I like thick socks so the high density cushioning on foot bottom was a welcoming feel. It's not overly cushy but it gave me confidence that 50 to 100 miles would be run better in these socks. The ribbing above the ankle is comfortable and ensures a proper fit. The socks have a reinforced heel and toe (and they say "Darn Tough" right on the toes. A nice bit of inspiration when getting dressed). Elastic support around the arch keeps the sock in place and gives some support. The wool version is 65% Merino Wool, 31% Nylon, 4% Lycra® Spandex.

So into the black wool abyss I sink my ugly toes. I was trying the 1/4 cuff style and I'm not a big fan of looking like my Dad cutting the grass in 1960 so I folded the 1/4 cuff over (did I mention I was picky?) and received a nice little surprise-Darn Tough has the size sewn into the ankle cuff. This is a nice touch. So many times I've tried socks and can't remember what size I purchased. When you are a 13 you fall between Large and XL all the time. Now I will know what I am wearing a year later and get the right size.

I ran a trail marathon in the socks right off the bat (insert "Gasp" here). If they were so Darn Tough we were going to find out with a big test. Well...26.2 evil miles later I didn't have one blister or even an angry toenail. In fact I kept my eight remaining toenails! I was so sold on these socks I went and grabbed 4 more pairs. Preach on Darn Tough - I'm converted! I wore these two weeks later for a rain-soaked 50 miler at Steamboat and again found my feet to be in great shape (no pruning or blisters) at the finish line!


*An amazing sock right out of the packaging. Made from merino wool and backed by lifetime guarantee.

*Size label in the cuff.

*Even though they were wool I did not feel I was overheating in them.

*They keep their shape and size even after being in the dryer.


*I did feel the toe seam on my second run. I switched the offending sock to the other foot and I was good to go.

*At $16 these socks are not cheap (but they are going to last).

*Some people may find these a little on the warm side above 65 degrees. It's weird-they feel warm for the first 4-5 miles and then they feel fine. I never found myself thinking I was going to have a puddle of sweat in my shoe. I also run a lot in compression sleeves and that could be contributing to my warm feet/legs. Not an issue for me. After running in 9 hours of rain without a problem I will take a little warmth. Darn Tough does make a Coolmax version for warmer weather that I have not had the pleasure to test.

I'm giving the Darn Tough 5 toenails out of five for standing behind their product and delivering a blister free run. They also are pretty snappy with the Twitter replies. While the cost may deter some that are used to $9 3-packs at Sports Authority. The $16 price tag is worth every penny.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pony Express 50 Miler

As we crept down the dirt road towards the start the sun was just arriving in pink waves behind the mountains. It was cold and I was quickly handed a goody bag and my number. Thankfully it was a small number (hint to other race directors) and easy to pin to my shorts. With the changes in temperatures I knew I would be shedding layers so a number on the shorts is a must.

Soon dancing feet were gathering at the start line and we received our last bit of directions. With that we were off and running. I went off the front just a few feet to give my wife a good giggle and my teammate a scare...soon I was back where I the pack.

The course was going to be easy to follow-just follow the Pony Express. As forewarned, a few hunters blew past in a cloud of pathetic glory with their hunting limos (ATV's) in tow and their loaded weapons primed for the unarmed animals of the wild. If you want to impress me you need to run the animal down.

*Support Report*
From the comfort of my car I was armed with video and digital cameras, gallons of water, bags of food and running clothing suitable for any weather. I was looking forward to making sure my two runners had exactly what they needed to keep running comfortably....for 50 miles. As I stopped three miles up the course my guys, happily smiling, didn't need a thing, but I knew it wouldn't be long before they'd raid my loaded car.

Soon a hopscotch pattern of support vehicles fell into rhythm and it was easy to see who was in the lead by the clouds of dust on the horizon. As the early miles ticked off I kept remembering the haunting words about mile 18...something about "mentally challenging."

My teammate and I were singing 80's metal songs as we approached the infamous miles from 18-36 and we were mentally ready. Ripping through Bohemian Rhapsody we hit the 25 mile marker in 4:05 and of course my initial thought was the odds of pushing it for an 8:10 finish...

And then there it was..."The Climb"...Not daunting because of its size, just the only real elevation on the course. it was a welcome sight after the long drags. We power walked up the climb and were met at the top with the news we were the 19th and 20th runner through. What wasn't mentioned was it was including the early starters so I guessed we were sitting around 8th and 9th on the road. Just a guess.

*Support Report*
I made stops every 2-3 miles, sometimes more frequently to shout encouragement, snap photos and shoot video. First priority was always making sure my two runners had filled water bottles and gels ready to grab. I think they enjoyed the ice cold washcloths I provided as well. The weather was heating up and they were often engulfed in the dust from passing cars. Still, the goal was no stopping, boys! They grabbed what they needed and headed off again. I was eagerly awaiting the moment when I could yell, "Single digits, guys! Single digits!"

There were a couple targets up the road and I could feel a good amount of giddy-up in my legs. And with the faith I had in my training and knowing I had the best support crew out there I hit the gas with 10 miles to go. This was going to hurt.

My first mile of the final push was a 9:21 and then followed up by a 8:47 bringing me into the 8 mile range to finish. I realized if I kept up a good pace I could break 9 long as I didn't break down first. I started to filter through some 100 milers and early 50 mile starters. I was even lucky enough to catch a few targets I was thinking about. They were nice and we would exchange words of spirit. With salt accumulating on my shirt and sweat pouring off my head I was nearing the end.

The out and back added a little more excitement for the day as I was smiled at by an oncoming speedy looking 50 miler after the turn around...could he actually catch me with the finish in sight? Dig, dig, dig! I told myself and kept pushing. With one last glance over my shoulder I grabbed the Colorado flag from my wife and trotted colorfully across the finish line in 8:49 and 5th place overall! My teammate was soon to follow in 7th place and we took a long well deserved sit near the cookout.

*Support Report*
The opportunity to act as support crew for my husband and friend is an experience I will never forget. Most races do not include the option to follow runners for 50 miles. I felt like the coach, chef, photographer, videographer, nurse and cheering squad. Needless to say, I'm their biggest fan and watching them cross the finish line in great spirits ended my day perfectly!

At the end of the day we both accomplished what we traveled all the way from Boulder to do. We ran a solid race and represented Colorado the best we could. A special thanks to my wife-the woman who makes me believe I can do races like these. THANKS for all the support!

See you out there...just listen for Bohemian Rhapsody.

Pony Express Video Link