Spencer Butte


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IMG_6914Another sunny 20° morning in Eugene.  Another trail run.  I gear up this time with the girls.  The girls hike up Spencer Butte with Karen while I run up the mile long route to the top, and then amble another 3.5 miles along Ridgeline Trail to Fox Hollow and back.


The views atop Spencer Butte are spectacular.  Clouds carpet distant valleys before reaching snow-capped peaks.  This photo shows the Three Sisters to the right of Brit and Bachelor to the left of Ellie.


Loping across Ridgeline Trail felt like a jaunt through Middle Earth.  Massive Douglas Fir trees filter the sun onto the supple dirt single track.  Very few rocks allow for fast speeds.  The rolling hills might slow down a lowlander but my heart rate barely noticed, having been conditioned for high altitude.  The rise up Spencer Butte was steep but Ridgeline Trail consists of what I would term slopes.  I likened yesterday’s run on Pre’s Trail to Austin’s Town Lake.  Ridgeline Trail is more like Austin’s Greenbelt, but without the rocks.  This is a dream run.


My trip to Eugene has been wonderful.  Incredibly, full sunshine every day.  I even got to visit some Animal House lore as they nickname the Duck’s Autzen Stadium the Animal House.  Pac-10 flags can be seen flying inside the stadium during the movie, although Faber College was supposed to be located in New England.  They joke about the rain during Duck games but I will tell you this is the coldest stadium in the country.  The announcer quipped that the temperature was 40° in the small sunny section of the stands while the rest of the stadium in the shade was 40° below zero.

Great trails.  Awesome town.  I plan to return during the summer.

Pre’s Trail


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Pre TrailheadRunning Steve Prefontaine’s Trail was first on my list of runs while in Eugene.  I got sidetracked by a little 4 mile turkey trot yesterday.  Chad and I were able to run 6 miles down here this morning.  The trail sits along the north side of the Willamette River, across from the University of Oregon campus.  If you don’t want to sound like a tourist, you say Willamette like, “will dammit”.

Pre’s Trail reminds me quite a bit of Town Lake in Austin.  Much more narrow and tree covered.  They run high school cross country races on it.  The middle leads right up to Autzen Stadium.  In fact, we’re returning in just a few minutes to attend the Oregon – Oregon State football game.  The fun never ends.

Willamette River



campbells mahoneys

I didn’t expect my first run in Eugene to be a race.  But here I am, in yet another race, the Turkey Trot Eugene, in the city referred to as Track Town U.S.A.  A 4 mile race along the Willamette River bike path.  Chad registered Brit, Ellie and me along with himself, his daughter Rachel and his son Collier, thinking we’d want to work up a sweat before feasting later.


The weather could not be more perfect.  About 30° at the start, no wind and full sun.  I run a brisk 2 mile warmup and feel comfortable running in just shorts and a single long sleeve t-shirt.  I time the warmup well as my heart rate is still elevated at the start and I run the first mile in 6:16.  I’ve never run this fast for a 5K (3.1 mile) race.  I figure this is partly due to the cold temperature and maybe the lower elevation, but also because I’m excited.  Eugene is the most storied distance running town in the country.  They invented the jogging craze in the ’70s.  And this is a Pac-12 town – home to the University of Oregon Ducks.  I’m obligated by my alma mater CU to represent and I’m in race mode.


Chad doesn’t need motivation.  He just does everything with gusto.  Here he is crossing the Greenway Bridge near the end of the race.  He might be in a hurry to get back because he’s responsible for starting the turkey.



Collier runs in close behind Chad.  I miss his photo because my glasses are fogged over.  The girls come in running together.


I slow down after my first fast mile to a 6:43 pace.  Not exactly slow for me but enough to catch my breath.  I find myself in a race after 2 miles with a guy who looks about my age.  We cross the Willamette River here on the Defazio Bridge and head back toward the start on our 4 mile loop.  The trees tower along the river, letting me know I’m in Orgeon.  Leaves as big as backyards float down onto the trail while fog steams up from the river.  This is one of the prettiest courses I’ve ever run, so perfectly fall.

I feel great, running in the shadow of Prefontaine.  I race to the end with a 6:27 mile 3 and 6:25 4th mile for a 26:03 final time and 3rd place in my age division.  Eugene is as competitive as Boulder.  The Campbells are prepping dinner now and we expect Matt and Ashley to drive down from Portland any minute to join us along with Karen’s parents who are up from Austin.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Green Mountain


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Green-Mtn-PeaksThe last time I ran up Green Mountain, above the Flatirons, my foot clipped a tree root on the decline and I somersaulted into a ravine.  Fortunately the poison oak broke my fall.  Unfortunately I was shirtless, this was 26 years ago, and I had to scrounge around the plants for my car keys.  As I climbed back up to the trail, I thought  to myself, “How am I still alive?”  After 26 years, I’m in good enough condition to run it again.

There are probably more Green Mountains in Colorado than there are Beaver Creeks.  There’s a popular Green Mountain in Lakewood with ample paths, but this has to be the most famous Green Mountain for trail runners.  I started out late afternoon from the Chautauqua parking lot and ran over Ski Jump Trail to reach the Gregory Canyon trailhead.  From here it’s about a 3 mile, 2300 foot climb.  I took Gregory Canyon Trail to Ranger Trail, which averages a 17% grade.  I’d call the lower third 30%.  The top half was mostly snow and ice.  I was unprepared with my 1000 mile trail shoes and no nano spikes.

peaksI met a couple in their young twenties at the top.  They were hanging out next to this peak finder, viewing the Indian Peaks and getting stoned.  Weed is certainly more convenient than carrying up a six pack.  They told me they came up E.M. Greenman Trail.  I figured if they could navigate it stoned in tennis shoes, it might be less dicey than the death trap I just ascended and made a loop out of it.

It was worse.  I had to commit to a forward lean, about like skiing.  If my ascent was a shuffle, my descent was a controlled slide.  Only fell once but honestly I think I was running slower down than on the ascent.  Conditions improved half way down and I was able to run a fast final mile over the cushy, pine needle carpet.  I reached my car just as the sun sank over the Flatirons.  I’m going to start running this trail more now that I’m in shape for it.  But with my nano spikes.

Oregon Trail


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Pre Memorial

Guess where I’m spending Thanksgiving?  Eugene, Oregon, where I intend to run as many of their world-renowned, urban running trails as possible.  Especially Pre’s Trail.  This is a tremendous bucket-list thing for a trail runner.  Oh, and I expect to visit family over the holidays who moved to Eugene a year ago.

Spencer Butte

Second on my list will be to run the Ridgeline Trail, ideally from the Spencer Butte Trailhead.  There’s a 1000 foot climb that I can run either over a .6 mile route or a 1.1 mile path.  This trail runs around half the city.


Then there’s beer.  Eugene is famous for its brewpubs.  Comment with suggestions.  Otherwise I’m looking at the Falling Sky Pourhouse and Ninkasi Brewing Company.


In case this isn’t enough, Animal House was filmed in Eugene.  I understand the Delta House has since been demolished, but I bet there’s a $5 tour to be had.  You might not be a fan, but this movie captures my memories of college.  I even own the Animal House edition of Trivial Pursuit, gifted to me by a buddy.

Karen’s sister will have her house decorated festive for Thanksgiving, a comfortable respite from the daily grind for watching multiple days of college football.  Brit and Ellie want to drive to see the coast.  My focus though will be on the soft bark trails of Eugene.  Can’t wait.


Fast Fall Run


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Paris Family

The prettiest family in Prospect showed up in force to run this year’s Longmont Turkey Trot – the Paris-Hendershots.  Joey ran a 7 minute pace in the 2 mile event.  Half my neighborhood was out running either the 2 mile or 10K today.  The weather started out cool, in the 40°s, but warmed up quickly with no wind and full sun.  Times were fast with such ideal running conditions.


Coach Jabe ran the full 10K, lighting up the course in fashionable green.  Keith and I warmed up with a mile before starting out.  I’d have warmed up with 2 or 3 miles if planning for a fast start, but I was just looking for a good workout.  I was hoping to run a couple of fast miles in the middle, but surprised myself by running a fairly constant pace.  The course isn’t the most exciting.  It’s a lollipop design that begins running north up a half mile stem, then runs clockwise around a square with one mile long sides, before returning back south down the stem.  All through mostly flat farmland.


I ran my first 4 miles in 6:58, 6:57, 6:55 and 6:50.  Almost perfect consistency while marginally improving.  That faster 4th mile taxed me a bit and I slowed down to 7:01 on my 5th mile, while running 6:59 for my final 6th mile.  I doubt I’ve ever run a more consistent pace.  I finished in 43:13, just 3 seconds slower than this year’s Bolder Boulder – yet more consistency for my only two 10Ks in 2015.  Abbie and I both took 3rd in our respective age divisions.  A nice morning on a perfect fall day.



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sole mates 5KThe French have their wine.  Russians have their vodka, the Brits their gin.  Runners have beer.  We think of it more as a food source than hydration, but like the libational cultures listed above, we drink it mostly for its communal properties. Say what you will of Colorado’s highly cultivated strains of indica and sativa, before the Internet and Facebook, beer invented social.  So it should come as no surprise that this morning’s Sole Mates 5K and Brewfest actually began last night during the race packet pickup at Shoes & Brews.

If you don’t already know this, life is better with beer.  Beer is better with friends.  And beer with running is a dream team. That Ashlee and Colin decided to open up a specialty running shoe store with a taproom surprised no one in Longmont. They think they were so clever. I think they were idiots for not doing it sooner.  Imagine walking into a pub where absolutely everyone is dressed like a runner, sports an unusually small ass, and even smells like a runner. No pretentious bullshit in this taproom, unless maybe you start discussing patrons’ times on the 800 meter beer board.


Ask yourself, how many packet pickups have you attended in a taproom?  Oftentimes they are arranged along with a vendor expo, sort of like walking through the gift shop at the end of a Disney ride.  But a taproom loaded with runners?  And the next day’s race isn’t scheduled until late morning at 10am?  This is the genius of Ashlee and Colin.  Karen joined me in the taproom since we picked up my race packet on our way to dinner.  She was happy to discover they also serve a Chardonnay.  I drank the one beer they brew onsite – a Lumbersexual Flann-Ale.  Think an Urban Woodsman meets Northern Brewer.  Tastes and smells like a musky hipster sleeping in your malt room on a cold winter’s day.  I stole that description from their menu.  Karen and I continued on to dinner, meeting up with Brit and Ellie at Tortugas.  Then Chris and Renee showed up and joined us.  After dinner, we gathered with more friends at 2020 in our neighborhood.  At some point I switched from beer to wine, but I don’t think that challenges my metaphor for this weekend’s race.


This 5K runs from the Left Hand Brewery on Boston Ave., to the Shoes & Brews Taproom.  And they are pitching it as a brewfest.  Despite the cool 40° weather, well over 300 runners line up.  Good call as there is little wind and full sun.  If I were running farther than 3 miles, I wouldn’t bother with tights.  But I do wear running tights, a long-sleeved Under Armor jersey and running hat.  Feels perfect.  Chris and his daughter Julia took these pictures as they volunteered as road marshals around the 2 mile point.


Either they didn’t do the math or they didn’t care about squeezing 300 plus runners onto a hike & bike trail, but Keith and I weren’t able to start anywhere close to the line.  This forces us to run slow the first half mile and I can’t complain.  I end up running a PR 19:54 – a 6:25 pace – and took first for my age group.  The slow start no doubt contributed.  I wasn’t even tired at the end, even though I finished strong.  Warming up with a slow start and gradually increasing your speed results in the best running experience.  I’m surprised I was able to do so well with such an exceptionally slow start.  I didn’t wear my Garmin and wish I knew my mile splits.  Doesn’t matter, felt great.

keith kick

Not sure if Keith ran a PR but he ran well too.  That’s Longs Peak in the background above as Keith kicks it in.  That’s assuming you’re even looking at Keith and not that girl’s glutes.  I consider well-formed runners more art than sport.  Susan seemed to enjoy her run along with Abbie and Heather.  Those are all the friends and neighbors I saw.  It doesn’t take long to finish 3.1 miles and by 10:30am, we’re all gathered in the Shoes & Brews parking lot listening to live music and drinking tap beer.  I begin with a couple of Introvert Session IPAs 4.8% ABV from Left Hand Brewery.  Before long, I’m drinking their Milk Stout Nitro 6% ABV.  It’s not nearly noon and I’m lit up like a firefly.  Fortunately I’m not driving as we leave for lunch.

abbie and susan

Abbie is on the left and Susan the right in the above photo.  Abbie ran with her sister-in-law Erin.  We lunch at yet another brewpub – Longs Peak Pub & Taphouse, where I quaff a couple of F.Y.I.P.As.  Yes, that stands for Fuck Your IPAs.  It’s an adult menu.  I miss the initial joke but somehow I get served water in a kids cup and so they think it’s funny to continue serving me in kids cups.  I seem okay with it.


Defying Age


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I’m comfortable aging.  Mostly.  I know women think it’s funny to say guys don’t mature much after college but I’m not sure that I have.  I feel young.  To feel young running though requires a little speed.  Racing in Colorado requires age-defying momentum.  My races planned for the rest of the year will be shorter distances and I’m going to need to quicken my cadence to be competitive.

aging runner 2

I’m not a nostalgic person – rarely do I ever reminisce here in my storytelling.  I get nostalgic during runs though.  The final two miles in long races, or simply workouts, triggers my memory like an autonomous muscle and I think back to high school cross country.  Our races were still two miles long in Texas.  I think they moved to the 5K distance a year or two after I graduated in 1980.  I relive these high school races during the remaining two miles of a 10K or marathon.  I often recall the state cross country course at Southwestern University in Georgetown Texas – it’s held in Round Rock now.  It’s an extremely hilly golf course and one year’s event finished at the top of a huge hill.  I finished second, by maybe only two seconds.  When I relive the event, I find a way to win racing up that final hill.

aging runner

I’ve gotten fast enough that I oftentimes find myself racing against youth in my weekend events.  I get a kick out of it.  I’ve learned not to leave anything for the final kick.  Not that I don’t have the speed but I’ll strain my hamstring sprinting at the end.  I learned this in last year’s Colder Bolder 5K.  I should probably avoid 5Ks.  I have to warm up with a 3 mile jog if I expect to run 3.1 miles with any speed.  Sort of ridiculous but I figure it’s a 6 mile workout.


I’m thinking about this because my buddy Torin caught me from behind with two miles to go on my training run yesterday on the LoBo Trail.  I ran 8 and I think he only ran about 5, but I was a little bit ticked.  Partly because I had been running fast.  Torin caught me when I was starting to cool down.  Naturally I had to speed back up so we could could chat for a mile.  It also irritated me because he’s my age.  Boulder County must have the fastest fifty year olds in the freakin’ country.  I don’t mind get passed by the shirtless CU Cross Country Team when I run the East Boulder Trail, but I feel like I sort of own this section of the LoBo Trail.  I don’t like being passed on it, especially by fifty year olds.  Time to begin some speed work.

Performance Enhancers


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pickleI’m no better than Lance.  If I think something will give me an edge in a race, I’m going to try it.  Within reason.  I won’t wear compression socks because they make me look like a school girl in knee-highs.  So maybe I am different than Lance.  Let me share with you my knowledge and experience with performance enhancers, starting with Cialis.

It just so happens that I have a prescription for Cialis.  I don’t expect I’ll still need any six months from now but between you and me, I’ll probably think of a reason to tell my Urologist why I require a continuation of my prescription.  My blog stats that report the search terms readers use who stumble upon my content report numerous queries for the affect of Cialis and Viagra on running.  Out of curiosity, I finally searched these terms myself.  Turns out Viagra was initially promoted as an athletic performance enhancer.  Long story short, it’s the latest thing as there are currently no tests or bans.  Brandon Marshall, an ex-Bronco wide receiver, is quoted here speaking on the pervasive use of Viagra as a performance enhancer in Pro Football.

I continued reading the Internet until I found some actual studies.  The non-brand name for Viagra is Sildenafil.  This is a PDE5 inhibitor that works by relaxing blood vessels which in turn allows blood to flow more easily – whether in the penis or the lungs.  This first study is an extensive read but goes into great detail about just how Sidenafil works to enhance oxygen absorption at high altitudes.  This second study is a much more concise read and suggests more clearly that these effects only occur at very high altitude – around 13,000 feet and higher.  Pair this with the first study reporting that not everyone responds to these benefits.  Oh, and consider that these drugs can affect your heart.  I can actually think of races I’ve run at 13,000 feet.  The Imogene Pass Run comes to mind.  Mostly though I will rarely be in an event where this could possibly come into play.  Same goes for you.  And how embarrassing would it be to explain why you died from a heart attack due to taking Cialis or Viagra for your run?  Perhaps most important to know, this drug is fairly expensive and only partially covered by insurance.

I carried three 3 ounce containers of pickle juice with me during the Denver Marathon. I struggle with cramps, typically near the 23 mile point, in marathons.  I’ve had success by managing my electrolyte intake, but I still tend to cramp afterward. Drinking pickle juice is said to counter the effects of cramping quicker than anything else you can do.  Supposedly within 90 seconds of drinking the stuff.  Clearly your stomach hasn’t processed anything in 90 seconds, so it is suggested that the juice triggers nerves in your throat.  Who knows?

I felt my legs come close to cramping late in the Denver Marathon and drank my pickle juice before the onset of actual cramps in an effort to stave them off in a preventative fashion.  I swear to you this worked.  I also drank some afterward as I was cramping and my cramps dissipated within seconds.  Stuff works.  I bought the 3 ounce containers at REI in their camping gear section for a couple of dollars and filled them up with standard dill pickle juice.  This will be part of my marathon gear going forward.

Cannabis is a worthy topic considering I live in Colorado.  I find this hard to believe but the World Anti-Doping Agency classifies weed as a banned performance enhancer.  Seriously?  Fast Times at Ridgemont High didn’t show Spicoli winning any track races.  Apparently some study was conducted that indicates cannabis might enhance airflow to the lungs.  In other words – pot is a bronchiodilator.  I refuse to believe this but then there are other factors.  They claim THC decreases anxiety (Indica maybe but certainly not Sativa) which can help athletes remain relaxed.  So maybe marijuana helps some athletes in specific sports.  Ricky Williams was certainly a fan of playing football stoned.  Running is different.  There is nothing specifically technical about running where focus or anxiety matters much.  I do believe in the purported analgesic qualities of cannabis, but ibuprofen is likely more cost effective.  Granted, pills aren’t organic.

My position is that cannabis is an experience enhancer.  You might enjoy running more stoned than sober.  Indeed, running creates natural endocannabinoids in your body, along with endorphins.  Clearly, not with the intensity of a bong hit.  I advise considering trails over high-traffic, urban areas when running stoned – to avoid cars.  I just can’t accept cannabis as a performance enhancer for runners though.  Nobody talks about it being a problem with elite runners.  Anything that takes the edge off is fine for recreation but won’t help you win any races.  If you think it helps you run faster, you’ve been smokin’ something.  If they don’t dope race horses with it, then it’s not a performance enhancer.

Finally, I think listening to music is about on par with smoking weed.  It’s an experience enhancer.  I’ve actually studied my Garmin stats from running with and without music and my results overwhelmingly demonstrate that I run slower with music.  Both in races and for training runs.  I found that my pace was less consistent on runs while listening to music.  Apparently I speed up to some songs but then slow down.  I haven’t heard of others reporting on their measured experiences.  I know everyone thinks they run faster to music, but tell me if you’ve actually recorded your stats.

Lastly, for anyone wanting to challenge my observations as unscientific, as anecdotal at best; let me just point out that you’re the one reading some inane blog for performance advice.  You’re no better than Lance.

A Hard Run


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4 miles90% of marathons is half mental.  The other half is the course.  The Denver Post reported Monday that massively slow times in the 2015 Denver Marathon were due to the hard cement course.  Apparently, unyielding cement impacts the legs much more so than asphalt.  Who am I to argue?  This was a hard run in more ways than one.  The fatigue so familiar to the final six miles came to my legs a good ten miles early.  I found myself walking 100 meters or so every mile after 20.  I nearly completed mile 26 without walking, until I slammed into a lady toting her suitcase in the street.  Some marathons are fated to suck.  This first photo above is at 4 miles, the photo below is at 23 miles – both on the never-ending river of concrete.

23 milesI conveyed my disappointment in my earlier blog on the marathon last Sunday.  I can tell you I’ve already forgotten about it.  The trick to sports is selective memory.  I just completed 8 fast-paced miles in the cold, October rain, and that’s all I remember.  Quickly forget the bad runs and move on.  Really, all runs are hard.  Some are just slower than others.  The experience would be lost though if you don’t take away some lessons learned.  For me, I will try to avoid cement hike and bike trails in future marathons.  I suspect cement is a poor choice for the half marathon distance as well.  I struggle enough as it is on asphalt roads.  I train exclusively on cinder trails.

finish lineMaybe there are other lessons to be learned.  I wore my camelback for the third time and as usual drank about 20 ounces.  That’s about half what experts say I should drink but I didn’t cramp during the run.  I cramped a bit afterward.  There’s part of me that thinks I should make an effort to drink more but I drink to thirst and my belly feels full.  Not sure if my light fluid intake is an issue.  I’m curious if wearing cushy bottom shoes mitigate fatigue much on hard surfaces.  I avoid big-bottom shoes because I try not to land on my heel.  I like to maintain a short stride.  I believe this reduces my incidence of injury.  Right or wrong, my legs suffer from ridiculous fatigue in road races.  I appreciate comments on this but suspect I just need to experiment.  The next event that I know will be on a mix of asphalt and cement (and snow and ice) is the Colder Bolder in December.  That’s only a 5K but maybe worth trying some soft shoes to race in.  I see a trip to Shoes & Brews in my near future.

finisher photo

South Platte River



logoI trained this summer with the intensity and focus of an obsessive-compulsive with Asperger Syndrome.  Friends and family questioned my sanity.  I sweated out ten pounds in the High Plains heat of July and August.  My end goal was the Boulder Marathon.  I was satisfied with that run, it was my best marathon from the ten I have run since 2010.  Call me greedy, but I just can’t let all that training go without squeezing in another run – and today is the Denver Marathon.  I know my training is no guarantee of a good marathon, two of those previous ten went horribly wrong.  I hit the proverbial wall in the Austin 2011 and Steamboat 2013 marathons and took over 4 hours to finish.  I developed arthritis in my symphysis pubis from the Denver 2010 race.  I think about all my previous marathons, good and bad, as I ride the shuttle to the race start at Adams County Fairgrounds.  Marathons can be brutal, but I feel good about this one.

It’s not enough that the Denver Marathon is run at a mile high in altitude.  This year’s course is entirely uphill from start to finish.  I was initially irritated by this as I only learned of the course change after registration.  I’m maintaining some optimism now after more careful study of the elevation chart.  It only rises a little over 200 feet, maybe 600 feet total elevation gain, over 26 miles.  With the exception of what appears to be a sizable hill after 9 miles, I probably won’t even visually notice the incline.  Hope my heart rate is equally blind.

The major difference over previous years is that rather than running through beautiful and classic old Denver parks and neighborhoods, this year’s course runs upstream along the South Platte River – from Brighton to Downtown Denver.  The marathon will launch from a section of trail termed the Colorado Front Range Trail – part of a proposed 876 mile path stretching from Wyoming to New Mexico.  Despite the cynicism that accompanies age, I’m hoping for a picturesque, fall-colored, riverfront experience.  On paper, the 18 mile South Platte River Trail flows through significant industrial parks and waste treatment facilities.  It might be more aptly named the Commerce City Marathon.

I left my iPhone at home so I won’t have any photos.  Just as well I show the Denver Marathon logo to note that this will be the final Denver Marathon, at least for the Rock and Roll series.  They can’t get approval for the requisite road closures.  They’ll continue to run the Half.  I start out feeling good and on pace.  My goal is to run under 3:30.    My first 10K is nearly perfect at 47:50 – about a 7:50 pace.  I maintain this for the half, again running almost perfectly to plan at 1:45 with an 8 minute pace overall.  Problem is, I start to feel fatigue at 10 miles. I run miles 9, 10 and 11 at 7:53, 7:51, and 7:50 respectively, but slow down to 8:13 for both miles 12 and 13.  And this is where the wheels begin to fall off.  I slow down to 9 minute miles by mile 16, and the 3:30 pace sign passes me.

I begin running a 10 minute pace by mile 18, slowing down eventually to a 13 minute pace after mile 20.  I walk parts of the final 10K and finish in 4:05.  My 3rd worst time ever and my 3rd marathon over 4 hours.  The fun was over by the half way point and finishing was pure hell.  My legs, specifically my glutes, had zero power after 13 miles.  I feared this in the back of my mind because my runs have been like this for the last two weeks.  I might have strained my glutes in the Jamestown Hill Climb.  I’m pretty disappointed but happy I finished.  I don’t take these marathons for granted.  You can be in the best shape ever and run a poor marathon.  I know that.

I suspect strained muscles as my biggest issue, but there could have been others.  My age division ran horribly.  My Boulder time would have finished 3rd here.  I still finished 17th which is hard to believe.  The winner barely broke 3:30.  So maybe it was the heat.  It warmed up into the 70°s and the course had no shade whatsoever.  General consensus from talking to others afterward is that this course sucked.  It felt so long running out in the farmland north of Denver.  Things hardly improved in Denver.  Pipes spewing industrial waste into the South Platte were pervasive.  And the smell running past the treatment plant was disgusting.  This course essentially ran through Denver’s toilet.  The South Platte Trail running through Downtown wasn’t exactly spectacular either.  Denver’s urban trail system is awesome, but this course wasn’t the showcase.

Maybe I’m being bitter because I had a bad run.  Or a bad second half.  But then there was the idiot lady who walked in front of me with a metal suitcase at the 26 mile sign without looking.  I hit her suitcase hard.  Still can’t believe I didn’t go down, but it was a momentum killer for sure.  There was no kick after that.

Might take some time off from running to heal.  Absolutely everything hurts so much right now.  I might be burned out on running.  Winter sports are calling me.  When I think I can do stairs again, I’m going to check out my snowshoe and snowboard gear in the basement.

Coal Creek Trail



startI lived in Louisville during the mid ’90s.  I always considered it more of a suburb of Boulder than Denver.  I appreciated their ample hike and bike trails but never ran on this particular trail along Coal Creek.  Of course, that was back when I could count my annual runs on one hand.  I get out a little more often nowadays.  I’m out here this morning at Louisville Community Park to run the Louisville Trail Half Marathon on the Coal Creek Trail.  Karen captures this first photo here about 100 yards after the start.

4 milesThis second photo is the same spot but on the return from the first 4 mile loop.  That’s 44 year old Grant Nesbitt running on my heels, where he remains the entire race, finishing 22 seconds behind me.  There’s a 10K and 5K sharing the course with a different configuration, but the half itself is a decent size with 180 runners.  Being a fall race in Boulder County, I expect it to be competitive.  It is as I find myself behind 20 runners by this point, and it’s a large gap between me and number 20.  I run my first three miles in 7:17, 7:18, and 7:19.  I’m happy for the steady pace but had a loosely defined race plan of starting out at an 8 minute pace.  I’m not looking at my Garmin, it’s in my pocket, but I know I’m running too fast because I’m in oxygen debt.  I consider slowing down but the sound of Grant’s footsteps has me in race mode.

4 miles farmThis photo is just a few steps past the previous, and captures the typical landscape view.  This trail is really nice.  It’s mostly groomed cinder with a bit of cement near bridges.  Since I’ll be running the Denver Marathon next Sunday, this is just a training run for me.  Being a race with other runners, I do expect to run somewhat harder than I might working out by myself.  That’s the point of registering for these events – a good workout – but shoot, this pace is fast for me.  I run mile 4 in 7:05 and mile 5 in 7:06.  I know I’ll slow down eventually and that’s fine.  Just looking for a good distance workout.

kick 1Immediately after the 5th mile, the course’s one big hill begins.  And it’s fairly sizable, about a 400 foot rise over a quarter mile.  The far side drops in half the distance.  I pass one runner on the ascent and another on the descent.  I’m surprised because they were out of view for the last couple of miles.  This slows my 6th mile down to 7:27, I figured at the time, since I wasn’t checking my Garmin, that I slowed down to an 8:30 pace for the rest of the run.  Instead I run 7:17 for mile 7, 7:32 for mile 8 and  7:47 for mile 9.  The photos above and below are on the final kick.

kick 2I get passed by 55 year old Chris Levine at mile 9.  I can tell by his gray hair that he’s about my age.  I really don’t feel like racing, I just want to coast in – so I let him go.  I end up passing him back though as we return over the massive hill, which slows me down on mile 10 to 8:03.  Chris is slowed down from some cramping.  I keep this pace to the finish running mile 11 in 8:20 and mile 12 in 8:19.  The course ends up just short of 13 miles but my final stretch is at a 7:40 pace.

2nd place awardI finish in 2nd place for the 50-59 year old division with a time of 1:37:23, and add another pint glass to my collection.  This is about the time I was expecting although I didn’t expect it to hurt quite this much.  The weather was hot for an October race, in the 60°s.  I run into Bob Kania afterward, a work colleague.  His wife ran the half.  Bob’s a few years older than me but he’s always been extremely fit and could pass for 10 years my junior.  In addition to being a good training run before next weekend’s marathon, this race reinforces for me the need to start out slow.  I’ll target an 8 minute pace for Denver next Sunday.

Cross Border Data Flow


The U.S. completed their Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal yesterday.  If signed by Congress, this will lower trade barriers to the import and export of physical goods.  How quaint in the Information Age.  Today, the European Union Court of Justice declared the U.S. Safe Harbor policy for demonstrating compliance with the EU Directive for Data Privacy to be invalid.  EU 1 : Pacific Rim 0.

I don’t know of the availability of any stats that show the value of global trade in information vs physical goods bought and sold, but I’m willing to guess data is at least more strategic if not already more valuable.  Explaining the details of the EU Data Privacy Directive, Safe Harbor, and this new ruling isn’t my objective here.  Much of it is very legal in nature and over my head.  My goal with my cyber security series is to offer a basic primer on topics I deem of interest.  At issue here is data privacy, specifically personally identifiable data or PI.

My 13 year old daughter is uncomfortable with the notion that data can never be fully erased with any certainty.  I don’t know why or how she developed this very specific concern, likely something to do with the proliferation of online photos.  She is totally aware of the EU’s Right to be Forgotten ruling wherein citizens can demand their online references be deleted by digital firms such as Google and Facebook.  Understand that the EU considers personal privacy to be a basic human right.

The irony here is in the arrogance of any U.S. citizens who think we invented personal privacy.  Indeed, the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”  Or stated more plainly, “Each man’s home is his castle.”  Well that was written over 200 years ago.  Post-911, the U.S. has conceded leadership on the personal privacy front to Europe.

I probably shouldn’t reveal what I really think because I suspect I’m on the wrong side of history here, but I will.  I don’t believe in personal privacy.  I want it to a degree but I certainly don’t think of it as a basic human right.  I can assure you there was little to no personal privacy when humans were living in caves.  Were Adam and Eve not born naked?  And yet I do like the 4th Amendment.  I believe we need a balance between personal privacy and the benefits that the sharing of personal information ascribes to a society – like security.  An example of that is the Patriot Act.  This latest EU ruling impacts a more commercial benefit, such as advertising.

I don’t think I’m alone on this one.  Anyone reading this is online and therefore highly likely also surrendering a large degree of their personal data privacy to social networks.  You’ve probably granted Facebook complete digital rights to more family photos than your parents ever collected in photo albums.  There are benefits to sharing.  And I don’t believe we ever, ever had complete personal privacy; so I don’t think of it as a basic human right.  No man is an island.  In the end, I imagine personal data privacy will be determined more by technological capabilities than regulation.  Your data is only as secure as your encryption.  I’m interested in comments.



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mercThe roads are wet this morning from overnight rain as I drive up Lefthand Canyon to Jamestown.  If you’re a biker, then you’re familiar with Ward and Jamestown – both popular bike ride destinations uphill from the Greenbriar north of Boulder.  Ward splits to the left on the drive up while Jamestown is 9 miles uphill to the right.  The road actually continues all the way up to the Peak-to-Peak Highway.  I stop though and park across from the Merc in downtown Jamestown.  The town is covered in clouds but they begin to clear by the start of the race, revealing patches of blue sky.  Awesome running weather with 50° and no wind or precip.

Grossen bartThis race really started last night at the Großen Bart Brew Pub.  Chris and I quaffed a couple of drafts while we talked running.  That qualifies our outing as a strategy planning session for this morning’s 2.5 mile, 1000 foot hill climb.  I drank a Chin Curtain IPA (7.7abv) while discussing my tactical plans for charging up the hill.  I later drank the Friendly Mutton Chop Marzen (6.6abv) while strategerizing with Chris on future marathons.

BalaratThis is the inaugural Jamestown Juggernaut Half Marathon and Hill Climb.  All proceeds (of which they generated over $4000) go to local flood victims.  The starting line is drawn across the road at Howlett Gulch.  Joe Howlett was the previous owner of the Merc and lived at this spot until the raging 2013 flood carried him away, still in his house, down the gulch.  We honor him with a moment of silence before singing the National Anthem.  The race starts off with a 12 gauge shotgun blast at 8am.  This is a mountain town.

hill climbI run the hill climb rather than the half, partly because I want a good hill workout and partly because I don’t want to be too tired for the CU-Oregon game later tonight.  Karen and I are meeting Jed and Gretchen at 5pm at the Backcountry Pizza and Tap House.  We’re eating early to make time for the Wolfe’s tailgate outside the stadium.  Game starts at 8pm.

I have a decent start, running my first mile in 8:35.  The road turns to dirt after this, and much steeper.  The average grade for the entire 1000 foot climb is rated at 7.1%, but I suspect the second mile is over 10%.  I run my second mile in 11:46 and hold that pace to the end for a total 25:24 over the 2.5 mile hill climb.  Most of the Boulder High School boys cross country team finish ahead of me, but I passed a couple of them during the final mile.  They are rated 4th in Colorado and 16th nationally.  I think I could walk on if I were to focus on these shorter distances.  Awesome fall run in the mountains.  How was your morning?

Silver Linings


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Papa and GrandmaAnyone who has ever talked to me for more than five minutes will tell you I can appear obtuse.  Like a child not listening to his parents, sometimes my focus is elsewhere.  But after awhile, even I can take a hint.  Saturday’s WSJ had an article on aged travelers.  The lead story in this weekend’s Barrons is on financial planning for aging parents.  And my aging, 80-plus year old in-laws drove up 1100 miles from Austin to spend the weekend.  80 is the new 60.  This is them in the photo above, today in Grand Lake, Colorado.  So this blog post is about aging runners; something I can speak to from experience.

Tip number one for aging runners, dress your age.  Cover your glutes and wear a freakin’ shirt!  You might be proud of your flat abs but old man skin has a sheen somewhere between dull and nauseous.  Think of the children.  Golfers wear a collar.  It’s not cricket for runners over 50 to go shirtless.

Make no mistake, older runners are competitive.  And fast.  A 50 year old, Johannes Rudolph, took third place overall for men in last weekend’s Boulder Marathon in 2:52:05, while the first 20 year old finished close to four minutes behind me.  This might be more anecdotal than scientific, but I find race results to be much more competitive in the 45 to 65 year old age divisions.  It makes sense that we regain our lives back after the kids become self-sufficient and the career plateaus.

Karen and Papa

Next tip is to race in the same shoes you train in.  I’ve learned that even when I intend to run hard, there’s no sense in wearing minimalist racing flats.  There might be exceptions in some 4 mile cross country race where spikes are needed, otherwise your tendons don’t need the stress.  You’ve probably learned by now it’s better to wake up at the same time every morning, even on weekends, than to sleep in.  Maintain consistency in your shoes too.  This photo above captures Karen with her Dad.

My return to running the last few years already makes me feel young.  Races transport me back to high school.  I don’t have to compete with younger athletes though on every level.  They can run shirtless.  Let them run barefoot.  My focus will remain on mitigating injury.  Taking off six weeks to recover is the same nominal stretch of time for kids as it is for seniors, but we lament the time lost as if we may never return to running again.  There’s a desperation with age, like sand pouring through the hour glass while Dorothy wears her red slippers.  I know that I cherish my runs.

Injury happens though.  Make the most of it.  I could only walk for five weeks last year after my prostatectomy, and had to limit my running distance to just three miles for another five weeks after that.  I came back six months later to run my fastest marathon ever.  That time off was arguably good for me.  Prior to surgery I developed a worsening knee injury.  My physical therapist, who was supposed to be teaching me how to urinate again, instead focused on my running concerns – at my request.  I tell you this in confidence so don’t share that with my insurance provider.  She taught me several exercises for my abductors and adductors, which I continue to perform nearly daily, that strengthened my knee.  If you have to abstain from running, use your time constructively to strengthen your core or other muscle groups you typically ignore.  Of course, it doesn’t have to be injury.  Work or other life events can also take you out for weeks or months at a time.  Know that three weeks won’t impact your conditioning.  If longer, you’ll need to do something.  You can do planks anywhere, anytime.

Grand Lake

As you can see in these photos, we drove up to Grand Lake today over Trail Ridge Road to view the turning Aspens.  Gorgeous day.  You might notice I finally stopped trying to look young and whacked my hair off.  I had a business trip that sort of required a more professional look.  Had it been to the west coast, I’d have kept it long, but it was to the east coast.  I’ve decided to grow a beard though when I turn 60.  I never have before because it grows in colored patches.  That looks as bad as it sounds.  But my hair should be entirely gray in a few more years.  Silver linings.


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