Colorado Marathon

Success!

OK, I’m not really all that excited about it. But it did go really well, and I felt good for most of the “race”. My official time was 5:02:57. Official results are here. And here’s the GPS data on Strava.

My right Achilles/calf were a little sore for the first 8 miles. I stopped a few times to stretch it and rub it. For the next 8 miles after that, I didn’t feel it at all. Then, for the last 10 miles, I only felt it when I stopped and walked. I think it was good that I cut back my training so much the two weeks leading up to the race. But the injury wasn’t too bad in the end and really didn’t slow me down much.

Margaret said she was going to run behind me so that I could pace her. But that lasted for about a quarter mile. I intentionally ran slowly at first because of my calf and I didn’t catch her until mile 16. Actually, she had to catch me since I must have passed her at one of the aid stations. We ran together, taking it pretty easy, until mile 22. At that point she was having some GI issues, and I’m afraid I ditched her. (Yeah, I feel a little guilty. But she’s a big girl and can handle it.)

I finished the last four miles pretty strong. I passed a bunch of people, and was only passed by two others. (A couple who looked like they’d been sandbagging it the rest of the race. They zoomed passed me and disappeared into the distance.) There were a lot of people walking for good long stretches at that point. I’m pretty happy that I didn’t need to do that too.

My best mile was centered round mile 23, where I actually ran a little faster than a 10 minute/mile pace. Of course, I couldn’t keep that up and settled back to just above an 11 minute/mile pace. I did speed up for the final quarter mile stretch to the finish. I guess that’s required. ūüôā

Evonne was there waiting at the finish and I gave her a high five on the way past. Apparently I sprayed her with my sweaty hand when I did that. Again, my apologies to her. Margaret came in a few minutes later looking strong. Her IT Band had bothered her on some of the long training runs we did, but it didn’t bother her at all that day. Very fortunate!

So, am I bummed that I didn’t finish in under five hours? Not in the slightest! It’s kinda fun pushing myself a little, but I find the sheer distance as the only real challange. Going fast doesn’t really do much for me. (Though, I suppose finishing sooner would be nice.)

Will I do another marathon? Quite possibly. I’ll definitely be doing more cycling than running over the summer. It’s much easier in the heat. I’d also like to do more trail running. We’ll just have to see where this leads….

Did I say something about injury?

I think I did.

Training for the marathon has gone well. I’ve had normal aches and pains along the way, but nothing major….

A week ago, in my exuberance for the last few weeks of training, I decided to ride to Ward. It’s a 22 mile, 4000′ climb from home that I do a few times a year now. I didn’t go too hard, though since I’m the lightest I’ve been ~25 years, it was still a personal record. When I got home, my right calf was a little sore. No big deal.

The next day I did a 10 mile “long run” as part of the taper. (The week before was 20 miles, so 10 no longer seems all that long.) I felt a sharp pain in my calf off and on the first half. It didn’t really feel all that bad. Also, no big deal.

Tuesday night I went for my first ever run in the dark. It was nice and cool after a day that hit the 80s. I was only doing 4 miles, so I decided to do a little speed about 2 1/2 miles into it. I ran at just over an 8 minute pace for about a mile. That’s very fast for me, and I was surprised I could keep it going so long. I don’t remember my calf hurting, but I think that that speed was a bad idea.

Thursday, I did a five mile run at an easy pace. Like Sunday, my calf was hurting off and on. The pain was sharper – a kind of burning sensation. Still, it would come and go, and didn’t seem too bad.

On Friday, walking around at home, the pain was worse. It definitely felt like burning, about six inches above my ankle. Looking it up on the web, I worried that I had a partial tear of my Achilles. Yikes!

So I’ve taken it easy the last few days. Yesterday, I only felt the pain a few times, and it didn’t feel nearly so strong.

Today, I had been planning to do a six mile run, but that seemed like a bad idea. I’ve certainly injured myself at some level and need to make sure I give it time to heal. I’ve put in plenty of miles so I figure I can still run next weekend as long as I don’t make things worse. A few less miles this week can’t ruin all that training.

But I also didn’t just want to lay on the couch for another day. Since my calf felt good all morning, I decided to go for a very easy bike ride. I’ve felt only a slight twinge of that pain in the hours since, so I think I was good and didn’t overdue it.

I’m planning to take it easy again tomorrow. I’ll either do a very short run on Tuesday or play hockey. I may do both….

Hopefully, this was really just another minor bump in the road. Coming just a week before the marathon, it still freaks me out. We’ll just have to see….

Time to taper

Well, it’s been a while. I did indeed sign up for the Colorado Marathon, and it’s now just three weeks away. Training has gone pretty well. I’ve managed to get in two 20 mile runs, along with lots of other long, slow distance runs over the last five months or so. I’ve totaled 523 miles since the beginning of November!

Both 20 mile runs we’re part of the Rocky Mountain Road Runners marathon training series. It’s been really nice doing a long run like that without carrying a Camelback. There’s nothing impressive about my results. Well, except that I finished both without any real trouble. I did experience some rather painful chafing on the first run, but some bandaids, compression shorts and butt cream solved those issues just fine. Yesterday’s run was slower than the first one, but I blame the wind. It was really strong on the second lap.

For the past week, I did 4 runs for a total 38 miles. That’s my max ever, and is just what I was hoping for for my peak training week. I also did a bike ride with the CyclingBoulder folks on Thursday. (My friends seem to be getting much faster. I had to push really hard and still couldn’t quite keep up.) And I played hockey on Tuesday. (I usually play once a week.) Altogether, a tough week, though I don’t feel all that worse for the wear.

With only three weeks to go, it’s now time to taper down my training. I’m rather happy about that, and I’m looking forward to riding my bike more. Indeed, I may find myself riding so much that I ruin the effects of tapering. But I think I’ll be ok with that. I’m not looking to win anything here.

I am hoping to finish in under 5 hours. Based on my training runs, that looks quite doable. I expect that only nature or injury would prevent it. But we won’t know for sure for three more weeks….

A Year of Running

One year ago tomorrow, on Halloween, I went on my first run. The intent was to give me an easy way to exercise over the winter from home, without spending as much time in the cold on my bike. It worked out pretty well, and I’ve come to enjoy running.

Since that day, I’ve logged 270 miles, 235 of it this calendar year. In May, I ran the Bolder Boulder, a 10k “race”. After that day, I didn’t run again for two months. (Though I spent lots of time on my bike.)

Since starting back up, I made a simple goal of running ten 10Ks, and doing at least one 10 mile run before the end of the year. (I was including the three 10Ks I did in the Spring in that goal, so I only needed to run seven more.) At this point, I’ve accomplished all that, including one run of 13.2 miles – a half marathon!

In the month of October, I’ve really picked it up, running three times each week, and totaling a bit over 80 miles. I’ve also tried to do a trail run each week (snow this past week foiled that plan) to help work on leg and foot strength. Hopefully, that will help prevent injuries….

Here are a couple of shots from my first trail run on October 5th, on Rabbit Mountain, about ten miles from home. It was a lot rockier than I expected (though the pictures don’t show it), and has a killer (for me) mile climb at the start.

It had a rather wonderful view to the west.

Sadly, shortly after returning back home to work I heard the news of the passing of Steve Jobs. It’s hard to imagine what my career and life would have been like without this man. I’ve worked at Apple the last twelve years, and spent about that long working on the Mac before that. I never met him, though I saw him many times on the Apple campus, and have many coworkers who have stories they could tell….

A week later, I ran around the Eagle/Sage Loop at Boulder Valley Ranch. This was a much easier run, though a bit longer. Here’s a nice view towards Boulder Reservoir to the East.

And looking back South from the little lake just visible at the left of the picture above.

And finally, some shots from my “half marathon” last weekend.

About three miles in, I began thinking I should have picked a less hilly route.

Here’s a view of Haystack mountain as I approach it from the North.

And here I am at the furthest point from home, 6.1 miles away. Haystack Mountain is right behind my head, to the East.

I couldn’t resist taking another shot of the Haystack, but this time the Flatirons are in view even further South.

These cows were not amused by my presence. At this point, I was a bout 3 miles from home, and passing the distance of my previous longest run. My legs weren’t so much tired as stiff. They really didn’t want to go any further, and had nearly locked up. Still, I made it home, “running” the whole way. I only stopped to take pictures, though I did linger a bit at the halfway point.

Of course, once I got home, I was completely spent. I stopped running when I hit my driveway, and had a very hard time walking the rest of the way into the garage. Lifting my legs to climb the two steps into the house was ridiculously hard.

As the day and evening wore on, I was able to move a bit better, though I limped around the house and couldn’t quite stand up straight. I was very glad that that didn’t continue over the next few days. I was only marginally sore, and played hockey the next night just fine.

And yeah, I haven’t signed up for one, but I’m thinking about running a marathon. The Colorado Marathon in May. If my training doesn’t go well, I can always do the half marathon or 10K instead….

Mount Evans. Epic.

On Saturday, I rode Mount Evans from Idaho Springs with a group of friends. Mount Evans is one Colorado’s many 14,000 ft peaks. (And one of only¬†two, I think, with a road to the top.)

This really was one of the rides from my bucket list. (No, I don’t have a real bucket list, but I certainly have a list of rides I want to do. Sometime soon. Long before I die!)

The ride went well. Not fast. (I’m never fast.) I did finish the climb strong, and I’m really happy with that. Overall, the climb is 27.5 miles, and 6,700 feet. It’s hard to not call that epic!

Here’s the data on Strava. It took 4:20 to do the climb (plus 1:40 of waiting, resting, socializing and eating), and about 1:10 to come back down. There were eight of us in the group, making it a nice social ride. At Echo Lake on the way up, we had two long breaks, pigging out on hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls. And we had another long break at Summit Lake. Dan G. put a bunch of pictures up on picasaweb.

And here are a few of my own.

Neil and Mike, and Alma on our first little break about half way to Echo Lake.

Randy and Mike take off.

Dan G. serving up one of many cinnamon rolls.

Neil, Randy, Frisco Dan, Don, Alma and Mike.

The road as we pass tree line at about 11,500 feet. Some of the cracks had been improved upon by marmots. I almost ran over one sticking his head out through the pavement.

Here are Randy, Dan, and Don approaching the first switchback past Summit Lake.

At the top!

Above 14,000 feet! The real summit is about 100 feet higher, but none of us wanted to hike it in our cycling shoes.

Neil and Frisco Dan got to the summit well before us. They had decided not to wait at Summit Lake. I passed them near the top when they were on the way down after waiting up there for a half hour or so.

Arrival shots of the second summit assault group:

Don.

Dan.

Randy.

Alma and Mike.

And here’s one more shot of Dan in front of the rather weird shelter. (An old building burnt down in 1979. The new shelter is built in and around its remains. It’s actually rather cool.)

Why did I call Ron Paul an “immoral prick”?

On twitter, earlier today I retweeted an article from NPR, and yes, I called Ron Paul an “immoral prick”. Sure that’s a bit harsh. After all, he’s not the one who yelled “yes!” when asked if we, as a nation, should let people without health insurance die when they’re sick. He did say that local charities and and hospitals should take care of these people.

I’m sorry, but I still see that as immoral.

It’s a cop out.

It ignores the ramifications that come with such an attitude.

Yes, I agree that in the absence of a better system, hospitals have a moral obligation to help the sick whether or not they have health insurance. It’s hard to argue against that. And I hope most people would feel that way.

Ron Paul also said that people have a responsibility to buy health insurance. I agree with that too, as far as it goes. But he said that a person who decides not to buy health insurance gets what they deserve. That’s the immoral bit.

People don’t always get what they deserve. Some people are poor and simply can’t afford health insurance. They’re poor not because they’re lazy, but because of other circumstances beyond their control. The assumption that everyone’s situation is due to their own choice is simply wrong. If you think this way, you lack empathy. You’re the one who’s flawed, not the poor person.

But what happens when a hospital is located in a poor area, where there’s a high percentage of people without health insurance? Well, the answer can be all too simple. The hospital could go out of business. And in the less simple case, it could send the sick, uninsured patients away. Either way, that’s bad.

We can do better.

We should do better.

We, as a nation, as a people, have a responsibility to take care of those around us. We’re a rich nation. This is well within our means. If we take care of this as a nation, rather than pushing the responsibility down to the states or cities, we can do this more cheaply, and more efficiently.

Ron Paul sees everything that government does as something that individuals, churches or localities could do better. I understand the frustration that he, and many others, have with government bureaucracies and their inefficiencies. But simply shirking the responsibility is not the answer. It really is a cop out.

Government is what we make it. Let’s make it better, not destroy it. Let’s do things as a nation, as a people with many shared goals and ideals. Let’s not assume the answers are all isolated and fractional. Let’s solve some problems together.

USA Pro Cycling Challenge

After 23 years, top-tier professional cycling is back in Colorado. It’s been a long time since the Coors Classic/Red Zinger Classic bicycle races. It’s been nice watching the Tour of California (and the Tours of Georgia, Missouri, and Utah), but bicycle racing belongs in Colorado.

The days of Lemond, Hampsten, and Phinney are a distant memory. The days of Leipheimer, Hincapie, Zabriski, Vandevelde, Danielson, and Van Garderen are now. And those are just some of the current top Americans.

I had a great four days of following the tour around the state. OK, really, I just stayed in Breckenridge for three days and came home Sunday morning for one last quick view of the finish in Denver.

On Thursday, my friend Steve and I went to watch the Vail Time Trial near the finish line.

We rode our bikes over Vail Pass from Copper Mountain. Despite what they said on TV, the finish line was about 1000 ft below the summit of the pass. Still, that made for quite a climb for them in 10 miles. It was really impressive watching how fast these guys could climb. But the suffering on their faces was even more impressive.

Here’s a shot of Levi Leipheimer on the climb.

I put a few good pictures of the stage up on Picasa.

Friday morning, we drove to Avon to watch the start of the race to Steamboat.

This was far more fun than I expected. We got there to watch most of the rider sign-in, which included lots of interviews. Many of the riders were also signing autographs for the fans. The crowds were not too bad, so it would have been pretty easy to get an autograph if I’d been so inclined. (I wasn’t.) Here’s the rollout:

From US Pro Cycling Challenge Videos

I also put a bunch of pictures up of the sign-in interviews and such.

Saturday, the race finished in Breckenridge. We decided to go for own bike ride in the morning around Dillon Reservoir, up the Swan Mountain Road climb, and back to Breckenridge. This climb was being billed on TV as a big deal for the stage. It really isn’t all that hard. The descent off it doesn’t seem like much either. I’ve done it a bunch of times. On Saturday, I hit 42 mph on the descent. Andy Schleck was leading the race when he did the descent and hit 68 mph. Holly crap, that’s fast!

We met up with some friends from the¬†Cycling Boulder group I often ride with. Here’s a bit of the climb showing Alma, Kenny, Steve, and Eric on his EliptiGo:

From US Pro Cycling Challenge Videos

And me and Steve at the top.We got there long before the crazy crowds, though you can see that there were still many people who’d camped overnight. There were also lots of people writing words of encouragement on the road in chalk.

Once we got back to Breck, we had some time to kill, so we made a quick stop at the Breckenridge Distillery Tasting Room.

And, of course, we took a few passes through the Expo.

This was a great stage where Andy Schleck really went for it, winning the most aggressive rider jersey after the stage. I didn’t get many good shots of the race, but did manage to get him leading the pack around the final curve onto Main Street in Breckenridge.On Sunday, the race finished up in Denver. I thought it would be ending around 3pm, but it turns out that it was closer to 1pm. Consequently, we only got to see the last two laps through Denver. But I brought Tim and Emily down for this. We at least had a good time hanging out at the Expo after the race and got lots of free swag.

Here’s the main pack coming around near the end of the second to last lap. I’m impressed how close Levi is to the front. He was obviously taking the day seriously. (He’s third wheel in the picture. There’s one rider out of the frame another bike length or two further ahead.)Emily and Tim had a good time playing with the Smash Burger noise makers.

While we didn’t have the best race viewing in Denver, the crowds were just outrageous. I’ve never seen so many people in one place. I’m so glad everyone came out. We already new the race was coming back next year, but if we keep getting crowds like this, it’ll be around for much longer!

Appendicitis

Early, this past week, Scott started having a dull pain in his abdomen. It didn’t seem too bad, and it didn’t seem to slow him down too much. (Though really, playing video games isn’t all that straining.)

By Wednesday, it was getting worse, and definitely seemed more localized. We decided we’d probably make an appointment with the doctor the next morning. That night we went to his grandmother’s house for dinner. He had a really hard time getting out of the car. So, we said, maybe we’ll head to urgent care that night.

When his mom showed up, she looked at him a bit. Then looked at the web a bit. And decided to take him over right away.

After a few hours of waiting, and an ultrasound, the doctor confirmed that it was probably appendicitis. They scheduled him for surgery that night.

All went well. The operation was quick, and they removed the useless appendage through one of three tiny holes they cut into his belly.

Scott’s now recovering well, and having little pain. The only medication he’s taken is a little ibuprofen, and that, rarely. He was out of the hospital by 5pm the next day – less than 24 hours after he got in. Here’s a shot of him eating his first solid meal Thursday afternoon. It was the last requirement he had to fulfill before they’d let him out.

The next week or so will need to be slow for him. He missed the first day of school on Friday. He probably won’t be able to march with his sousaphone for at least a week. I just hope walking from class to class won’t be too much tomorrow.

Get your elbows off the table!

I woke up Friday with a sore and swollen elbow. It was obviously infected, though I don’t really know why. There was a small cut on it, so I put some antibacterial ointment and a band aid on it, and didn’t worry about it much.

By Sunday, the swelling was pretty much gone, but a much larger area was all red. Uh oh. That kinda thing can be bad. I marked the area with a pen, and resolved to go to the doctor if it grew any more by the next morning.

Yup, it was bigger on Monday. I got a nice big shot of antibiotics (I won’t say where), and instructions to monitor it more. If it grew more, I’d get two more shots. Luckily, it’s getting better and I only have to go through a normal course of oral antibiotics.

So, what was it? It started as bursitis. The swelling in my elbow may have just been caused by leaning on the desk in front of my computer. I’ve had some swelling a number of times over the years. We don’t really know why it turned into an infection that aggressively spread, but at least I didn’t wait too, too long to deal with it. (Well, I probably¬†should have gone to urgent care over the weekend.)

Now, I need to keep those elbows off the table.

B Strong Ride

Another weekend, another ride. (Actually, it has been a year with more long weekend rides, and fewer weekday rides.)

My friend Barry hooked me up with this ride benefitting LiveStrong (organized by friends of his). It’s the inaugural year for the ride. Apparently, there were around 1200 riders, though most must not have been doing the 68 mile mountain route that we did. They set a first year event fundraising record for LiveStrong of over $250,000. Cool!

The ride made a loop from Celestial Seasonings in Gunbarrel, up Left Hand canyon to Ward, and back through Lyons. That’s a pretty popular ride around here. It was fun riding with Barry most of the day. We tried hard to keep our pace reasonable on the climb, and made good time on the decent to Lyons.

However, about half way up the climb I met an ambulance and a bunch of people stopped on the side of the road. On big rides it’s all too common to see an ambulance attending a crash, but I’ve never seen one on a climb. In this case, a rider who had passed me not long before¬†(in distinctive Cervelo kit) had had a heart attack. A race organizer was there and grabbed me to help direct traffic.

It turns out that the very first rider to come upon the victim was an EMT with an emergency kit and a radio. The second rider to arrive was an orthopedic surgeon. This guy may have picked the luckiest place of all to have his heart attack.

I’m not sure when they started, but I soon noticed that they were giving the man CPR. (I don’t think they were doing it when I first came on the scene.) CPR is more than a little surreal. It looks nothing like the movies. It was nothing like I remember from training in high school. Giving chest compressions is violent. This man’s (dead) body shook like a huge lump of jello. That sounds weird, but it looked even weirder. It wasn’t long before they stopped. I thought that he really was dead and that they’d given up. I also thought that I heard one of them say “I’ve got a rhythm”. I didn’t believe it at the time, but I think now that I heard correctly.

It was quite a few minutes before they got him into the ambulance. By the time they did, two more had arrived, and a motorcycle cop and a fire truck. They had a hard time figuring out where they could get a helicopter in to medivac the guy out. I was quite surprised that none of the emergency personnel knew the area very well.

In any case, they really did revive the man. I don’t know how his recovery has gone, but he was alive when he was taken away. The Daily Camera has some minimal coverage of it.

Later in the ride, as Barry and I were leaving Lyons, we hooked onto another group and let them pull us along for a few miles. Leading the group was a big guy with fanny pack full of medical gear. After a while, he apparently asked if someone else wanted to pull for a bit. There were no takers. Another of his friends said something like “Ah c’mon. Help him out. He saved a guy’s life today!” (Barry told me this after the ride. I’m not sure I could have done much of a pull, but had I known, I would’ve given it a go.)

Anyhow, mister EMT, thanks for saving that guy. I’m so glad you were the first to arrive, and not me!

And thanks for the pull!