Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Year in Review: How Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Two thousand eleven has been a pretty incredible year and it has included several PRs at several distances. I’ll like to specific race reports for pictures and details for anyone with that much time on their hands but otherwise here is a relatively quick recap. (ok, maybe no links, my laptop sucks! The race reports are in the blog though.)

My first PR of the year came at an odd distance, 38.5 miles, but I count it as a PR because it is a race that I’ve run four times before and the race had kind of become my season opener. Sadly though the Ghost Town 38.5 closed its doors this year so I’ll have to look for something else but what a way to go. I even broke into the top 10!
January 16th Ghost Town 38.5 – 6:48:16

My next PR of the year was a huge one for me because it was my first sub-24 100 miler at Rocky Raccoon. I knew I had it in me but until this year I had been unable to put it all together.
I actually think I could have run this one a bit faster but I had a couple pretty low points but that’s to be expected. This race also contained one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen, a crystalline pine forest surrounding a steam covered lake at daybreak. It was amazing!
February 5th Rocky Raccoon – 23:47

The huge surprise of the year was my 50K PR and Mt. Si in Washington. My run that day was simply unbelievable and I wouldn’t have dared to predict it. It was an amazing experience to run so fast for so long and it really started to hurt towards the end but I was just in such a zone that I was able to push all the way to the end.
April 10th Mt. Si 50K 4:18:47

My final PR of the year was an attempt to make the New Mexico Army National Guard team to represent at the Army 10-miler in Washington DC. I missed that qualification by a full minute but still went away happy with my new PR. I may be able to shave off a minute but it’s going to take some weight loss and speed work, which I am planning both during my 2012 season.
April 16th Albuquerque Half Marathon 10K – 44:28

So not only was 2011 a fast year, it was a good year for collecting states. I picked up the following:
Tennessee - April 30th Country Music Marathon – 3:46:11
Ohio - May 1st Flying Pig Marathon – 3:44:05
Wisconsin – May 7th Wisconsin Marathon – 3:41:25
Michigan - May 8th Kalamazoo Marathon – 3:42:00
Wyoming - June 17th Bighorn – 33:11:29
Washington - October 15th Defiance 50K – 4:57:06

Not only did I pick up six states but the GeekGrl and I also ran our first Double-Double, back-to-back marathons on back-to-back weekends! As can be seen above the Double Double consisted of the Country Music Marathon, Flying Pig Marathon, Wisconsin Marathon and the Kalamazoo Marathon. I have to say of all four the Flying Pig was my favorite but each and every one of them had its own special moments.

What I loved best about the Double Double is that it just felt like I was completely embraced by the experience of America. I’m not sure how clear that may be but I guess what I am trying to convey is that at some point in those four marathons the individual experience of each began to blend into a larger impression, a different kind of experience, an experience that was defined by generalities and concepts, generalities like the size and diversity of the American landscape
and concepts like American pride, striving and the egalitarian impulse. It was a hell of a thing, far greater than the sum of its parts.

Twenty Eleven was also a time to Go Big, to hit the mountains, the high and wild places where few people tread. The mountain tour began on the GeekGrl’s birthday with the Run through Time Marathon in Salida Colorado. Run through Time is scenic and very difficult. I joked after the race that it got its name because you felt like you had aged several years by the time
you got to the end.

Of course the mountain runs were all gorgeous and tough but the one that really knocked my socks off was the Taos Valley 10K up and over. It is a straight 3.1 mile climb followed by a 3.1 mile descent with the climb and descent taking place on different gravel roads. There were parts of the descent that were so steep and rocky I actually found them a bit scary and ask anyone who has run mountain trails with me, I run some pretty gnarly downhill trails pretty hard.

March 12th Run through Time Marathon – 4:32:24
May 21st Jemez Mountain Trail Run 50K – 7:35:52
June 17th Bighorn – 33:11:29
August 7th La Luz Trail Run – 2:08:08
August 13th Taos Ski Valley Up and Over 10K – 1:17:38
September 9th Wasatch – 33:32:52

Now for the heat races, yes, that is heat as in hot, as in OMG who runs in this crap? I guess the answer to that question is…I do and I have become a sick, sick man. Just a quick rundown, Cherry Garcia 98 degrees, Chunky Monkey 95 degrees, Bear Chase 90 degrees and San Antonio 88 degrees with a topping of 50 percent humidity. While these are not the hottest absolute temperatures I have run in they are the hottest temps I’ve tried to run hard at these distances.

June 26th Cherry Garcia 10K – 52:31
July 17th Chunky Monkey 10K – 50:47
September 25th Bear Chase 50K – 6:10:32
November 13th San Antonio Marathon – 3:42:20

Speaking of runs notable for their weather, I now have some data to suggest that running in no-wind 95 degree weather is roughly equivalent to running in perfect running temperatures with
about 30 mile per hour sustained winds. The Dam to Dam was accompanied by Albuquerque’s signature “change of the seasons” hellacious winds. Fortunately the race was short enough were the wind stayed in one direction for the duration so we got both head and tail winds. I promise you, had we been out on a long bike ride it would have mysteriously been headwinds all day long.

September 4th Dam to Dam 10K – 49:43

Finally comes the 2011 miscellaneous category of races. It includes a run where I actually did run wearing a green dress. It was a kind of 1968 green mini with a sleeveless top and a chest that was cut deep and held closed with a lace. The whole thing was made of jean material and was the only loaner they had that would fit my large frame.

The really off-beat race of the year was the Acoma Seed Run, which was hosted by the Seed Kiva of the Acoma Pueblo. It was cool because we got to run on a part of the reservation that is normally closed to non-natives and it followed an ancient secret path up to the top of Sky City that the Acoma people used to take to bring supplies up when they were under siege from below at the foot of the mesa. The other neat thing about this race was that the Kiva elders stood in a line handing out the prizes and everyone who received a prize would go down the line of elders shaking their hand beginning from the eldest member of the Kiva to, well, I guess the least eldest.

March 19th Green Dress Run – 4 miles about 34 minutes
May 30th Acoma Seed Run – about 8 miles - 1:10:58
October 30th The Great Pumpkin Chase 10K – 47:31 (in which I both win my age group AND get my ass handed to me by a guy pushing a baby stroller and wearing a Tigger suit, ouch!
November 25th San Antonio Road Runners Turkey Trot – 4 mile fun run – Hmmm, maybe 39 minutes, I didn’t really keep track and ran with a friend pretty much jawing the whole way. We also started the run about 20 minutes after the official start with all the rest of the slugabeds.
June 11th Billy the Kid Triathlon – 1:23:44 – yes, my only triathlon of the year; shame on me.

So, that’s it, as if there needed to be more, that’s my 2011 season of racing. Quite honestly when I set out to write up this year in review I had no idea I had done so many races. I mean 25
races in one season? Well, that just seems excessive. However, the GeekGrl reminded me that we were trying to collect states and make up for lost opportunities we will have in 2012 because her time will largely be sucked up by her Social Work internship.

Despite the fact that 2012 will be thin on racing I am looking forward to getting in plenty of unbroken early season training because I have a monster year ahead, an ultrarunner’s dream year, and I am going to do it right. My final week of 2011 has been a 65 mile week and I’ll start the New Year with a local Fat Ass 50K followed by a week of rest and the it’ll be time to hit it.

Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Close to Normal

I’ve been away from the blog for a while mostly because I’ve been busy, gone and busy. During the month of October I ran the Bear Chase 50K which was my last post and after that I was consumed with the task of getting ready to travel to San Antonio Texas for a month of Basic Officer’s Leadership Course. Of the various things I do in life one of those things is that I serve in the New Mexico Army National Guard as a Clinical Psychologist so I’m a Behavioral Health Officer and it’s one of those schools that everyone is required to attend.

Part of those preparations involved spending a hideous amount of time doing online training about all things Army. I’m certain it would have been very valuable training had it not been such a vast sea of knowledge crammed into a thimble of time but as it was I just struggled to retain enough to take the next test and move on. However, I have since discovered that I retained more than I thought but the knowledge is kind of insubstantial like the memories of someone with early dementia. Many things are recalled vaguely and some memories can be grasped while others float away just beyond my reach.

However, the BEST part of getting ready to go to Officer’s basic was the weeklong vacation the GeekGrl and I took to Seattle. I won’t try and recap it all here but suffice it to say I spent the week wired trying to visit all the finest coffee houses in the city. We tried many and much to
my surprise the best of the best coffee in Seattle was to be found at Top Pot Hand Forged Doughnuts where I went for doughnuts, not coffee. The doughnuts were the bomb too! While in the area we also traveled to Vancouver, BC for a day where I ran the Grouse Grind, which was a freakin’ grind, and I think I made it up in 57 minutes. A pretty average time I think but I wasn’t really trying to push it. I then rand back down a dirt access road until I hit the Baden-Powell trail, which I took back to the base of the Grind where I was parked.

While in Seattle I also ran the Defiance 50K which took place on Point defiance in Tacoma. It
was an awesome race and ended up being harder than I was expecting but I had a
great time none-the-less. I ended up placing 18th overall and second place in my age group. The GeekGrl ran too but unfortunately twisted her ankle so had to drop. Other running we did in Washington included Cougar Mountain and the Hoh rain forest in Olympic National Park. That too was an awesome experience.

So the month I was away for Officer’s basic was pretty weird. The actuall stuff I did there was
all field exercise type stuff, things I had been doing back in the day when I was in the Marine Corps as a young enlisted man, stuff like shooting rifles and pistols, marching, doing land navigation with maps and compass, doing hand-to-hand combat and I even went through a gas chamber again. The gas chamber is kind of a right of passage in the military and nobody but nobody escapes their tenure in the armed forces without at least one trip to the chamber.

While in San Antonio the GeekGrl flew out twice, once to run the Rock-n-Roll San Antonio marathon with me and once for the Thanksgiving holidays. The San Antonio marathon was uninspired at best. I’m not entirely certain that a really cool course could be developed but I think a better one would have been fairly easy. That race also got really hot, really hot, and pretty much everyone melted down. By the half-marathon point I was on pace to run something in the ball-park of a 3:25 but I ended up finishing with a 3:42. I think at the half-way mark I was already flagging pretty seriously and I just decelerated from there.

The weekend that the GeekGrl came for Thanksgiving was one of the best weekends of our marriage. We stayed at the Westin on the River walk and we did nothing but kick back and
relax. We had leisurely morning coffee at Sip’s coffee house, we visited a comedy club and we had a couple romantic dinners. It was well worth the expense. I rolled back into Albuquerque on December 6th having driven straight through from San Antonio into the mouth of a winter
storm that had blanketed Southern and Eastern New Mexico with snow and ice. It was a brutal drive but I got home at like 2 in the morning and slept like the dead. Since I’ve been back I’ve just been playing catch-up at home and at work. When I logged on to my computer at work I had 980 e-mails in my in-box, I had to immediately start interviews for a position I am hiring and I was given a major work assignment that is due “at the first of the year.” I’m hopeful that the first of the year refers to the first part of the year like the first couple weeks of January and not literally the first work day of the year.

Anyway, I’m now pretty much back and settled into my routine and am engaged in planning my 2012 season and what a season it will be, a dream season. More on that later. Suffice it to say I’m back on a diet, I’ve started some strength training and I’m starting to work on building my running base.

It feels good to be back!