Sunday, November 14, 2010

Highlands Ranch Backcountry Wilderness Half Marathon
Clip from the Boulder Running Company, Greenwood Village
On a whim last week I decided to race the Highlands Ranch "Backcountry Wilderness"Half Marathon. I wanted to race something before the North Face 50, and I reckoned a half would be the perfect distance to get the legs tuned up a bit before starting a slow taper for TNF in 3 weeks. I am definitely one to choose quality over quantity what with the number of miles in my legs over the years.
I had no expectation as to the course and didnt , check out course map online and was actually looking forward to surprises along the way to keep it adventurous. I also knew nothing about the race series except that my pal Mark Bockmann at Racerite would be taking over the timing from my other pals, Darrin and Jill Eismann at Racingunderground.
The title of the race is a mild oxymoron, but nevertheless I came away pleasantly surprised at the high quality trails and race series they have down there, wedged between Denver and the Springs surrounded by thousands of homes. The course was a combo double and single track, and about 2 miles concrete path, with a sneaky 1800 total climb over the course. The race started out at a quick sub six minute pace, and my goal was to stick in about 6th through 10th place and then just wait and see how things unfolded and how my body reponded to speed. I felt comfortable on the inital mile and was in 7th place, and as the rollers hit one guy in green, Danny Mooch, pulled ahead. I picked guys off and Danny pulled about 30 seconds ahead, knowing that if he kept extending the lead I wouldn't even bother and battle it out for second. His lead stayed at thirty seconds until we got through some sweet single/double track around mile 6 that let my imagination play games to forget the pain and pictured being on my mountain bike on the nice, man-made dirt rollers every 10-100 feet apart. As things got more rolly and technical, I started reeling in Danny before the short turnaround section. I never lulled in my pace as Danny flagged a bit and I was able to out a couple minutes on him before the finish. (Turns out he had made the unfortunate mistake of running Green mt with Tony K the day before)
Overall, loved the race (not just because of winning) and found new respect for the suburban trails hidden just south of Denver. The HRRA puts on a fine tight, race, well-marked and race schwag, and good homey vibe. I was pleased with my performance given a lack of summer racing and training. I am hoping that I am near some sort of "peak" given this fact. Good to catch up with Scott Jaime, JT (Brownie), Kevin Dieghan (met him at the Italian SkyGames in 2000, and Scott Swaney (my old adventure race teammate).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon, fatigue, and the North Face 50

Emily Baer, me, Peter Bakwin, and Galen Burrell..BBMM 2003.. a snow year. Note the mud on my leg due to wiping out a dozen times in my tennis sneakers

BBMM 2003.. me on the top of SoBO Peak (Buzz Burrell photos)

The BBMM in 2003.. Big Gulps are excellent fuel

The past few weeks have been full of peaks and valleys in training, what with our (my family and I) temporary return to Boulder and the fine running and running partners it has to offer. There is a planetary alignment right now with the men's mountain ultra running elites making Boulder their home. Geoff Roes, Tony K, Scott Jurek, and Joe Grant have moved here relatively recently, and I am happy to get out with them regularly to keep the vibe going. Just north of Boulder the youthful Dakota Jones and ex-pat Nick Clark are also residing. Visitors come into town all the time to train, as Krissy Moehl was just here and Frenchy Nico Mermoud is here this week. These are just a couple of the guys who live here, and there are dozens of others I could mention including 20 women. Two weeks ago , the annual Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon was hosted, and what coul have been a bloodbath of competition, as it sometimes was the case 10 years ago, turned out to be a nice social run, with Tony pushing the pace at the top of each peak. As mentioned, the BBMM used to be somewhat of a "race" in the "2000's", with various individuals attempting to oust each other and take the coveted BBMM title. I "won" it once or twice and even was able to claim a podium performance bonus from a sponsor for it. Galen Burrell, Travis Macy, Dan Brillon, Geoff Williamson, Emily Baer, Buzz Burrell, Kurt Blumberg, Christian Griffith, George Zack, Jeff Valliere, Adam Chase, Bill Wright, Kraig Koski, Darcy and Bob Africa, Steph Ehret and Peter Bakwin.. (and others.. the list goes on) all these folks would gun for the W to varying degrees. All the while, the OSMP mountain rangers would post sentries along the course and try to take names, record on video, try to intimidate, etc and dissuade from our efforts to go out and have a good time being competitive in the lovely Boulder Mountain Parks. As we all know, competitive races aren't allowed in Boulder Mountains; the one sanctioned race was the Cardiac Arete in October of 2003, which I and other runners thought was a fantastic success in mixing competition and giving back to the the OSMP by volunteerism; the conservative OSMP Board of trustees would heartily disagree (of course) and base this race on grounds for no more competitions.

Which brings us back to the BBMM last week..
This BBMM, even though stacked with talent, was so fun and low key, with some little pushes on the uphills and one screaming downhill by individuals just to test selves on various sections but not to defeat the others. It was a run to remember. (Man, am I getting melancholy? Signs of aging..) The "hosts"of the run (located at an address not to be specified but between 807 and 809 10th st), put on a nice gathering of folks afterwards, which allowed an awesome time to catch up with the mountain running denizens and legends.
So now, the weather has finally turned crappy today (I just got back to Boulder two weeks ago but heard it's been indian summer) which is fine because I am dog-tired of running hills and only ran 30 minutes today. I have been experimenting in footwear and somehow trashed my legs yesterday on a 3 hour run, so that is probably why I am sore . I am a believer in the day in/day out running style of few days off, and it has caught up with me the past few weeks. Maybe I am not recovered from my last race, or it could be that on Sunday I had the best 2 hour tempo run of my life in my Newtons and I am not recovered yet. Anyway, I am locked into running the North Face 50 Endurance Challenge in December, which will be the "most competitive 50 miler"ever... I am not kidding, no race has even come close to this one. Last year my NF 50 performance sucked %@# for various excuses I could mention but won't, so this year things are going to be different for me and I think I will have a good race Dec 4th. This may not matter because there are 10 other guys who can also have killer days and what happens won't be in my control. The one thing I do have going for me is that I have history of excellent runs in the Bay Area and Marin has become a second home to me, especially since we currently live there for grad school. We'll see though.. man I am excited about it!