Bolder Boulder Race Plan

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BB shoe

Everyone has a race plan for running the Bolder Boulder, until they run up that mile-long hill on Folsom in the second mile.  That’s when they learn that at altitude, even slopes feel like mountains.  I like strategerizing my race plans ahead of time.  My goals for Memorial Day include running faster than the year before, and to do so with a sub 7 minute per mile pace.  The fun in planning is from knowing this course so well.  I know every turn, every uphill, every down slope.  I know the third mile will very likely be my slowest and the fifth mile will be my fastest.

So another goal will be to run the third mile better.  One clever way to do that is to run slower the first two miles.  It’s not easy starting slow in such a massive race stacked with screaming spectators from start to finish.  The excitement is amped up, and my BA wave will start out fast.  I’m going to try to run the first mile a little over 7 minutes, maybe 7:05.  Rinse and repeat for mile two.  That will have me averaging over 7 minute miles, but if I can commit to race mode at the top of Folsom Street, I’ll make it up over the next four miles with a sustained surge.

The best place to start my surge might actually be half way into mile three at 4KM on Glenwood Drive.  This is near the high point of the course.  The streets undulate a bit here and continue a slight climb to mile four, which is where I historically start my surge.  It’s also where everyone else surges.  When they zig, I’ll zag.  One issue with this plan though is that the street gets crowded in the third mile as starting waves begin to converge and it might be difficult to pass other runners before mile four.

I’ll leverage that convergence at 4 kilometers.  Runners who have started 60 seconds behind me in the next wave and maintaining a 6:40 pace will catch me about here.  Surging will be easier if I can follow after a faster runner as they pass me.  The question will be how long I maintain my surge.  I don’t expect to be able to hold it to the end.  That’s fine, but I’d like to maintain it through mile 5.  And I’m not certain I can run a 7 minute pace.  I’ve only been running on weekends for the month of May, and might have lost some conditioning.  I’m certain I can maintain a 7:20 mile pace.  Regardless of pace, the plan for Monday is for a conservative start and an early, sustained surge after two miles.  I’d like to break 44 minutes.

The Lazy Gardener

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IMG_0830My strategic delay in planting this year looks brilliant given last week’s heavy spring snowfall.  The wine I drank this weekend was in celebration of my gorgeous tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, kale, spinach, leeks, lettuces, chard, strawberries, melon, and a mix of florals to bring the bees; not the pity party so many of my fellow growers wallowed in as they assessed the damage to their crops.  Sorry guys but second mouse gets the cheese.

I have to share with you the tremendous energy I have after planting.  The mud, deep under my nails, gives my fingers satisfaction they can’t find hammering away on a keyboard.  Like a walk in the woods, despite the physicality of it, I’m sitting on the porch, drinking a cold one, feeling recharged.  Gardens give life.  I get so excited just thinking about sautéing those greens.  This is going to be a good summer.

Time to Run

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It’s the weekend so it’s time to run.  Got in fifteen miles today.  I’ll target fifteen again tomorrow.  Now that I commute to work, the weekend is all I have and I want to get in at least thirty miles per week.  I’ll start working from home a couple of days a week too, after I get my legs under me at the office.  I don’t need to run every day.  I’m already in decent shape.  I just need to maintain.

The Bolder Boulder is next weekend.  I need to show up and meet expectations with a top ten finish for my age.  After that, my next big event won’t be until October, a three day run through spectacular national parks – Bryce Canyon, Zion and the Grand Canyon.  If you’re jealous and thinking about it, it’s already sold out.  I’ll need these big weekend runs to prep.  The third day will be a 19 mile run around the Rainbow Rim Trail with 1550 feet of vertical loss and 1600 feet of vertical gain.  I’m going to need to add some mountain trail runs to my weekend routine.

Marathon Photos

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I registered for the Bolder Boulder today.  I wanted to wait until after running the Colorado Marathon to be certain I would still be up for running a race at the end of May.  Marathons sometimes require a bit of recovery.  I felt fine this week though, ran 10 miles today.  These photos are gratis from the Colorado Marathon.  The one up top coming out of the tunnel is around two miles, which is about where I put away the ear buds.  I don’t always like music when I run.

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This photo above is somewhere in the first half.  The one below is around 16 miles.  I passed that lady behind me in the pink top, 32 year old Nele Lefeldt of Houston, after the first 10k.  Interesting to see she remained right behind me this far.  Ultimately she beat me by twenty minutes.  I passed other runners non-stop from the start to when I got sick in mile 22.  Probably should have stuck with the 3:30 pace sign which I caught around 3 miles, but I got irritated by the kid who commented on my age and surged past.

half

I bet not many of you promote yourself in races like I did with a shirt referencing my novel, Cyber War I.  I know a thing or two about marketing.  Not sure what throwing up through mile 22 will do for sales.

16 miles

Doesn’t look like I’ll be able to train much before the Bolder Boulder, but I’m in a good starting wave, BA – the 5th wave.  I suspect I’ll be able to match last year’s time of 44 minutes.  I like to run the second half of that race hard, from the high point at Casey Hill on 13th St., to the bridge over Boulder Creek on Folsom.  I don’t save anything for the final quarter mile into the stadium.  That hill isn’t worth racing up.  Two more weeks of training.  See you in Boulder on Memorial Day.

26 miles

Poudre Canyon

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A marathon is a long run.  Don’t bother fact checking that, unless you intend to run one.  In my experience, it’s also true that the miles in the second half of the event are longer than the first thirteen miles, if measured by time rather than distance.  That was true today as the 70° heat eventually caught up to me.  Still, I had a good run.  This photo of me and Karen was taken in the Cubby Room at Bisetti’s Ristorante.  We went for Italian and for some reason got sat in their most romantic setting.  It’s a private room with a fireplace.  Yes, I drink wine the night before a marathon.  You never know when it’s going to be your last.

20 miles smile

Marathons can also make for a long day.  I boarded a bus from the Hilton Fort Collins at 4:30am this morning to ride up Poudre Canyon for the 6:30am start of the 2017 Colorado Marathon.  My Weather Channel app said the race would begin at about 54°.  That was from the night before, I didn’t have a signal in the canyon.  Other people were showing 60°.  Not ideal for running a marathon.  Surprisingly, I’m still smiling in this photo at 20 miles.

20 miles barn

My buddy Chris drove out to Fort Collins to take these photos.  Can’t thank him enough.  This one is the same spot, at 20 miles.  You can see the cloud cover helped to mitigate the heat.  I ran the first half at a 7:30 pace.  Pretty fast considering I train between 8 and 9 minutes per mile, depending on the distance.  I knew this was from a combination of the nearly 1% negative grade and running with others.  This had me well ahead of my target time of a 3:50 finish.

21 miles

My pace dropped to 8 minute miles for the 3rd 10K, miles 14 to 20, still really decent.  This accomplished one of my biggest goals, which was to run the third quarter of this marathon strong.  The heat got to me right after this photo though.  You can see the fatigue setting in.  I ended up vomiting three times in mile 22, which began my slow down.  You could say I vomited a 9:30 pace for mile 22.

23 miles

Before I succumbed to the heat, I was on pace to easily qualify for Boston, and was feeling excited.  Running ten pounds over my weight from the last few years, I wasn’t expecting to run this fast.  But I slowed down to a 10:30 pace for miles 23 and 24, then an 11:30 pace for the final two miles.  After getting sick, I began to stop at the aid stations for a half minute to not only drink additional fluids, but to pour several cups of water over my head.  Seemed like the smart thing to do.  Not sure I would have finished if I didn’t stop for water.  I train with my heart rate under 150 beats per minute; the combination of this heat and my early pace gave me an average heart rate of 177 bpm.  Not used to that.

kick

I did finish, fairly exhausted and with a bit of cramping afterward.  It was good to have Chris and Karen there to help me recover.  Not sure if I’ll be able to train for marathons in the near future, now that I commute to Denver for my new job, but I’d like to run this puppy again.  Great course.  Just need to get lucky with the weather.  I thought my bib number, 537, all primes, would work some magic, but weather rules in marathons.  I’m happy with this one though.  Great run overall.  Finished at 3:42 and took second for my age.  As I was passing an Indian kid, about 20 years old, earlier in the race, he said to me in a strong, rhythmic accent, “Wow, do you mind sir, telling me your age?”  Told him I’m 55 and he said something else about being impressed.  Not sure what he saw.  My hat would have been covering my gray hair.  Apparently I look old from the neck up.

finish

In Between Jobs

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wapiti trailWhat did I do on my one day off, the start to my three day weekend, in between jobs?  Seriously?  You have to ask?  I went on a trail run.  Six miles up and down the Wapiti Trail at Heil Valley Ranch.  Gorgeous outside too, with 50° and full-on sunshine.  I wore shorts and a long-sleeve T.  The weather will turn to snow around 6 or 7 and the temperature will drop to below 30° later tonight.  Good thing I could run early.

I would have enjoyed taking a week off between jobs but CenturyLink wanted me to start as soon as possible.  They were going to have me fly to DC the first day but they couldn’t pull that off for a new hire.  Would have been nice to meet all the team face-to-face but sort of glad because it likely would have required traveling on Sunday and I want my three day weekend.  Just sort of hanging out now, setting up my new Mac Mini, merging photo libraries from various other machines.  Fun stuff.

Big Blue

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IBM BookshelfMomentos from twenty-three years at IBM sit on my bookshelf.  Maybe more are hiding in my desk drawers.  I might have lifted my stapler from the office.  My history with IBM began when I drove a forklift working on their packaging line the summer of 1981, as part of the production of word processors manufactured in their Austin, Texas facility.  I later worked as a computer operator as an intern in 1990 while obtaining my masters from CU in Boulder.  I then started my 23 year run in 1994 with their wholly-owned subsidiary ISSC.  I forget what that stands for now.

My stash includes a coffee mug from that first gig with ISSC, various recognition things, a passport with all its pages full of stamps, a sticker making fun at me for an attempt to write a motivational blog when times were bleak – made me laugh even though the joke was on me – and the ubiquitous Think logo.  Not pictured, the stapler because I use that.

Karen and I have always considered it ironic that my career was so steady while she averaged three W2s and 1099-misc forms annually from her contract jobs, because our personalities suggest the inverse.  She’s cautious and I’m the risk taker.  But I was generally satisfied, doing really cool things.  When I did begin to think of departing, other life events got in the way.  And my searches were always passive, meaning I only responded to recruiters contacting me first.  I could enumerate a half dozen reasons for finally leaving but the primary logic is that sometimes stimulating professional growth requires a new start somewhere else.  So that’s what I’m doing.  New job begins May 1st.

Funniest thing is that, because I turn 55 on Monday, tomorrow, three days before my last day on the job, I qualify for retirement.  Specifically, the retirement benefits IBM makes available to departing employees based on certain criteria of age and years of service.  I get to take my pension with me and roll it over into an IRA.  And I get future health benefits that I’ll be able to apply toward medical insurance premiums after I’m retired for reals.  I didn’t plan this, it’s all bonus.

Meeting retirement criteria though, actually accepting the benefits, on top of turning 55, is enough to make me consider that I might have reached middle age.  I didn’t pay much attention to turning 50, but 55, well, it has twice as many fives in it.  Karen arranged for a few friends to come over next Friday evening for a happy hour to celebrate both my birthday and changing jobs, and it has the undeniable feel of a retirement party to it.  My fault I suppose for working so many years at IBM before moving on.  I’m not normally very introspective.  Very few of these blogs ever wax nostalgic.  But saying goodbye to so many colleagues and the events of my last days has given me pause to reflect on my career.

I’ll be 70 in another fifteen years.  Safe to say I’ll be retired before then.  I simply don’t feel that old.  I run a marathon in another two weeks.  I’m still youthful, in my mind.  Granted, I grip the stair rail walking down in the morning, to support my delicate knees and ankles.  But that’s just because I run so many darned miles.  After sporting a buzz cut throughout my 40s, I grew my hair out, and it’s not all entirely gray.  It still grows like a weed.  I will admit to listening to relaxing music, but that’s my acquired taste.  I still wear blue jeans and t-shirts.  I still do new things.  Published a book.  I’m taking on a new job.  I’m not dead yet.

Neither is IBM.  It might seem like I’m leaving a sinking ship.  Five years of shrinking revenue.  But I’m not leaving because of that.  Like most people still there, I believe in their strategic imperatives, and I understand their business will diminish before it picks back up.  That’s simply the way creative destruction works.  Other than say the phone company, IBM is perhaps the only American technology company still around after 100 years.  If I say IBM, you hear computers.  IBM is synonymous with technology.  IBM will be fine.  By the way, I have a half dozen IBM-logo button downs from working as a booth-babe at trade shows if anyone is interested.

Marathon Nerves

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Ever train for and run a marathon?  Since 2010, the upcoming Colorado Marathon will be my twelfth.  First time to run this particular event, although I did run the 10K associated with it last year.  It was a dream run in the May snowfall.  This photo above is of the marathon from last year running through Poudre Canyon.  If you have run a marathon, then you can likely appreciate my current state of mind.

A marathon on your calendar is like waiting for a hurricane to roll in from the sea.  Like being called into the principle’s office as a kid after ditching class.  Like prepping for a colonoscopy.  You know you’re going to get your ass kicked.  The closer I get to May 7th, the more completely preoccupied I am with thoughts of the final 10K.  Those last six miles when the legs attempt forward motion without the benefit of glycogen.  I know I can run twenty miles, I’ve reached that distance in my workouts.  Regardless of conditioning, completing 26.2 miles is never a sure thing.  Generally training builds confidence, but marathons don’t care.

Part of my nervousness likely stems from not having run a marathon in 18 months.  And knowing I’m ten pounds heavier than I was in my last four marathons.  My pace will be slower, I’m predicting 9 minute miles.  That doesn’t bother me.  Being able to hold that 9 minute pace after twenty miles is what I think about in all my recent training runs.  I expect the first half, the first thirteen miles, to be enjoyable.  The big question is at what mile running stops feeling comfortable.  And how I’ll deal with it.  I’ve never not finished a marathon.  I’ve had some go south and done my share of walking.

There’s a sizable hill after 18 miles.  That’s unfortunate placement because that’s right where runners typically hit the proverbial wall.  When there’s no more fuel to burn.  Cramps tend to occur around twenty miles too but like a flat tire, those can be fixed; whereas an empty tank can leave you stranded.  If I have to, I’ll walk that hill and try to fire the engines back up on the downward slope after the top.

Oh well.  I should stop thinking about it.  I’m committed.  I have one more week of decent training.  My taper starts Monday.  I probably won’t even run the final week.  I’ll be commuting to a job in Denver and don’t expect to have time.  Won’t matter.  Can’t fall out of shape in a single week.

The Perils of Trail Running

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picture rock gang

I was all set to run my final twenty miler today but instead received a tempting group text last night from the running gang to run Picture Rock.  I can run twenty miles tomorrow.  My marathon training plan is flexible that way.  I haven’t run with the gang in quite some time.  It was great seeing everyone for Easter weekend.

We all started out together the first couple of miles.  This trail is uphill non-stop for nearly six miles.  Keith and I left the larger group after two miles and continued at our pace to the top.  The grade isn’t steep so it’s not as difficult as it sounds.  It is at altitude though.  I run so regularly on a flat trail that it challenged me.  We ran up fairly aggressively, but took a cautious approach on the return down.  My legs were sufficiently fatigued and I didn’t want to risk hurting myself before my upcoming marathon.

Jen Louden

Jen was less cautious and took a spill.  I wasn’t there to see it but she didn’t seem overly concerned herself.  Her response was, “minor raspberries really.”  The surprising thing was that not more of us fell considering the size of our group.  Picture Rock is fairly technical with all the rocks.  I’ve fallen three or four times on this trail.  Usually on the way down.  Falling hurts at my age.  Still, trail running is worth the risk.  It recharges your body and soul like few things can.  Happy Easter everyone.

Change is Good

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Beth in Paris

I got nothing this week, so I’m posting this photo of my darling buddy Beth after completing her Paris Marathon this morning.  Paris France, not Texas.  My buddy Chris will be running the Boston Marathon in another week, on a Monday actually, Patriot’s Day, just before taxes are due.  Training for marathons is decidedly less exciting than running them.  I need to slog it out for another four weeks before I get my day in the sun.

I need to keep up the boring mileage for the next two weeks before I can start to taper.  I’m changing that training strategy though.  The long runs wear me out too much for the shorter runs.  My average pace, long or short, is over 9 minutes per mile.  I’m going to keep my long runs at 10 miles or less from now on.  Ten miles actually feels short to me now.  I can maintain a strong pace for that distance, and the next day my legs aren’t so fatigued that I can run fast again.

I would need to run close to an 8 minute per mile pace to qualify for Boston.  I can see now that’s not going to happen, but I’d like to work on speed somewhat over the next few weeks to be able to run under a 9 minute pace.  That will give me a finishing time under 4 hours, which I’m always happy with, especially if I can run comfortably at that pace.

In addition to keeping my legs fresh for speed, shorter runs will enable me with more energy and time for stretching afterward.  That’s arguably as important as the miles.  Avoiding muscle overuse injury becomes important this close to the race.  My knees and ankles have been weak and should enjoy the respite.  I’m not a slave to routine and am always flexible to change.  Change is good.

The Waning Days of Winter

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My week of vacation is waning with the final days of winter.  I know it’s been spring for the last week, but the mountains celebrate seasons on their own time.  Yesterday I ran 15 miles in 50° weather.  Today I ran 17 miles in 40° and pouring rain.  Tomorrow I’ll run 20 miles in 30° and snow.

The free time has been great for my other hobbies as well.  I’ve read a couple of cyber crime books.  I’ve been prepping for a book promotion and fighting with my distributor, Ingram Spark.  Not sure who lost but I ended my Amazon ebook contract with them today and published directly to that venue using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).  Ten times easier and highly recommended.

I have very little good to say about Ingram Spark.  They’ve been a nightmare.  They have zero quality control.  They don’t don’t check to see if retailers have successfully uploaded content from their portal.  They don’t check anything.  Everything is totally self serve.  My experience leaves me finding very little reason to use them for my next novel.  The self publishing tools at Apple and Amazon are significantly better.  KDP even spell checks your manuscript.

Chair Lift Fail

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Ever fall off a chairlift?  Me either.  Until today.  I’ve been skiing for 35 years and today was my first chair lift fail.  The Painter Boy lift is extremely close to the ground and my board caught its edge before leaving the base.  I flipped over the front of the lift and grabbed the chair to keep it from cleaving off my chin.  I held on long enough for some clearance before dropping and rolling out of the way.  Ellie didn’t miss a beat though.  “I’ll wait for you at the top Dad!”

Still, I had one of my best snow boarding days ever.  The morning started off snowy with powder too deep for Ellie and me to easily navigate, but the sun came out soon enough and the conditions turned out to be spectacular by noon.

We ended up eating pizza for dinner at Secret Stash on Elk Street.  Hard to describe such an eclectic place, our booth was set against this wall of books, but I can tell you the food was awesome.  And they served an IPA by Irwin Brewing Company.  I’d tell you the name of the beer is 11, but the waiter wasn’t clear on that, it wasn’t on the menu, and Irwin Brewing is having issues with their online presence.  I can however quote the waiter with confidence in saying this is the best and only good locally crafted IPA in Crested Butte.  Look for it.

Trail Closed

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Ellie and I cross country skied today through Slate Valley.  Quite possibly, all of Slate Valley.  Trail maps suck.  With less than two miles to go, so close we could see the end, we were faced with a trail closed sign.  Turning around meant maybe another two miles.  We didn’t turn around, we skied right past that sign.  A couple of hundred meters later, we were faced with a washed out bridge.  I thought we could have jumped it, Ellie is more cautious than me.  Failure to make the jump cleanly might have led to hypothermia.  We ended up skiing a good eight miles, but enjoyed every minute of it.  I love nordic skiing.  It’s like trail running but so smooth and graceful.

The Crested Butte Nordic Center is off 2nd Street in downtown, so afterward, Ellie I and strolled around Elk Street taking photos.  We met up with the gang later at Lil’s Sushi for dinner.  Incredibly good but the really special thing is their fantastic happy hour.  People queue up outside waiting for them to open.

sunny in Crested Butte

This town has great dining.  The night before was super good Italian at Marchitelli’s.  And the night before that at Coal Creek Grill, where the lovelorn working girl Liz threw herself to her death in the icy street below the hotel back during the gold rush.  Hard to pick a favorite, it’s all good.

Crested Butte

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Brittany was only five years old the last time we visited Crested Butte.  She’s not here with us twenty years later.  Someone had to stay home to watch the dogs.  So I got to board with Ellie instead.  Her first time to Crested Butte.  She’s become a much better snow boarder than me.  She was carving the snow up today while I was lucky to get on my toes by the end of the day.

We used to come up to Crested Butte with Karen’s family in the early years of having moved to Colorado.  It’s a pretty cool town.  The downtown is as cute as any mountain town in Colorado.  There’s no highway cutting through town like Breckenridge or so many other towns.  We’re up here this spring break with good friends.  I survived my first day of snow boarding and hope to report improvement before returning home.

Peak Fitness

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active-aging

After twenty years of chasing my career and raising kids, I began to redevelop my personal hobbies again in my upper 40s.  Probably true for many as your kids became independent and you began to realize some me time.  For me, that meant a return to running.  I picked up some new hobbies as well, like hiking, backpacking and snowshoeing.  I was thrilled each year that, while I was aging, I was also becoming faster.  It’s just really satisfying to know you’re improving at a sport with age.  But is there is such a thing as peak fitness?  After about five years, my stomach was finally flat, but I also stopped achieving PRs.  I plateaued.

I’m fine with that.  Peaking in terms of speed is no big deal.  Tracking my improvement was fun while it lasted but I’m more than happy with maintaining.  Besides, peak fitness isn’t even a real term.  It’s associated with high intensity interval training.  And it’s the name of about one out of every three fitness gyms across the country.  But it’s not an actual thing.  If I can run the rest of my life.  Shoot, I don’t even have to always run.  If I can hike around in the mountains in my senior years, I’ll consider myself blessed.  And I’ll be happy.  Looking forward to spending this coming weekend up in Crested Butte, so add snowboarding to my list of activities.