Sunday, December 23, 2012


So EXCITED!  I am just about to head off to Tanzania to attempt Kilimanjaro.  Hopefully I'll get to tick this one off of my bucket list.  I feel like I'm well prepared and in good condition.  Can't wait.

More to come soon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So many cool events, so little time and money

I was browsing events yesterday and saw some very cool one that I'd LOVE to do now that I am expanding my running and riding horizons.  Here are a few of them.

  • Steamboat Stinger -  Mountain biking and trail running in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  VERY NICE!!  My goal would be to complete the 50 mile solo mountain bike race, and then the 26.2 trail marathon the next day - to be crowned King Sting.
  • Cle Elum Ridge This 50K trail race in Cle Elum, Washington boast beautiful scenery along with challenging terrain.  There's approximately 7000 feet of elevation gain for the 50k.  I've go free accommodation, so why not?
  • Desert RATS Western Slope, Colorado.  There are so many things to do- 100K mountain bike event, a 25/50 mile trail run, and best of all, a 5 day run from Grand Junction, Colorado to  world famous Moab, Utah along the beautiful 148-mile Kokopelli trail.  
  • Firecracker 50  50 mile mountain bike race in Breckenridge, Colorado.  Sweet.
  • CELTMAN! Extreme Scottish Triathlon  3.8K swim in a loch, 202K bike, 42K run over two Scotland!  I have to find a way to do this one someday.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Jingle Bells and Iron Men

This past weekend, I ran the 2012 Denver Jingle Bell Run with the family.  I felt kind of bad for the race organizers because it has been so warm and beautiful lately and it ends up being 20 degrees and windy on the day they hold their event.  I guess if was sort of nice that there was actually a little bit of snow in the park as we ran with our jingle bells.  This was a run that I'd planned to run for time but instead ran with the family.  My wife has recently decided that she wants to complete an Ironman triathlon.  If she's put her mind to it, I have no doubt that she'll achieve her goal.  However, she's never been much of a runner to this point.  She was a competitive swimmer in high school and a has recently become an accomplish cyclist, but the running part of the triathlon was a big question mark.  She's tried a few times in the past but has always battled shin pain and plantar fasciitis.  I suggested that minimalist running may be the way for her to go if she want to try and complete a marathon.  Being on the mid/fore foot should be much less pounding on her weak spots than a heel strike.  We went out an bought he some minimalist running shoes (Reebok ZigNano) and I am happy to report that things are going well.   When we started the Jingle Bell Run, she complained of her usual running maladies, but as she warmed up and developed a stride and rhythm she felt much better.  In fact, she was able to run the entire distance.  It was great to see her take to the minimalist running and I was happy to run with her rather than against the clock.  She's since had the expected calf soreness but I told her that it will go away if she keeps it up.  Her prospects for completing an Ironman are definitely looking up.

Square Top Mountain in early December

In preparation for my climb upcoming climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro, I've been trying to get in as many high altitude climbs in the preceding weeks.  Trying to do this in December in Colorado presents some unique challenges.  Due to the lack of snow to this point, avalanches are not much of a concern at this point.  However, winter wind can be brutal.  Despite a forecast of 30 mile per hour winds and gusts up to 70 miles per hour, I decided to give Square Top Mountain off of Guanella Pass a go.  Most folks go up to Guanella Pass in order to climb Mt. Bierstadt or Mt. Evans, two of Colorado's 14ers closest to Denver.  I'd done so many times, but I figured it was time to head west from the pass rather than east.  The hike up Square Top is not particularly difficult.  From the winter road closure to the 13,794 ft summit, it is around 4 mile each way and 2700 vertical feet.  There is a good trail for most of it and a fairly gentle slope for the rest.  As expected, the wind was brutal.  If I removed my glove for even a few seconds my hand would go numb. Surprisingly, there were at least 10 other people on the mountain with me.   Fortunately, the views from the summit were beautiful and I was able to find a pile of rocks to act as a wind break as I enjoyed my lunch.  Most importantly,  I felt strong all day and wasn't even all that tired when I finished.  This bodes well for Kilimanjaro.

I didn't take any pictures but the following link has some good stuff.
Square Top Mountain info

I've also provided a link to my path and data in TrainingPeaks.
My data

Friday, November 30, 2012

Race the Train!

I can't wait for midnight tonight when the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic opens for registration.  I will be riding in the citizens tour of this 42nd edition of this amazing ride. Citizens 50 mile tour from Durango to Silverton through the stunning San Juan Mountains has 6,700 ft of  total climbing over two 10,000ft mountain passes, thin air, and fast descents. Riders take off with the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train with the goal of beating it to Silverton.  The citizens race takes place on Saturday May 25, but there are cycling events all weekend long in Durango.  No cyclist should miss this race.

Enjoy this virtual ride!

Minimalist Running

Being inspired by the book Born to Run and having dealt with frustrating tendonitis the past two years, I decided to give minimalist running a try. I had had some limited experience with it earlier this year with the marathon training plan that I followed, but it was limited and only intended to build up foot strength.  I want to make this my primary way of running but it hasn't been easy. When I first started, I wasn't quite sure where on the fore foot to strike and kept my foot so tense that I ended up running almost on my tip-toes. After a few days, the soles of my feet were killing me. After a bit of experimentation, I found that if I relaxed the foot and landed on the balls of my feet that I could run without any pain or discomfort.  In fact, it felt so good that I ran a fast 6 or 7 miles almost immediately after figuring this out. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered my calves were not ready for that kind of workout. Once again, I spent the next several days in great discomfort. I've since been building my calf strength and stretching them like crazy and am now starting to really enjoy minimalist running.  I've definitely noticed less pounding on my knees.  The next step will be to build up my mileage.  Hopefully, all will go smoothly.

Late November climb of Huron Peak.

Huron Peak is a shy but shapely peak in Sawatch Range of Colorado.  It barely peeks above 14,000 ft and isn't particularly difficult but it is one of my favorite 14ers.  On Saturday November 24, I met some friends at the edge of Denver at 4:30AM and carpooled up I-70 toward Leadville.  After a finishing stretch on a dirt road to the ghost town of Winfield, we started our climb of Huron Peak near the standard trail head but instead to an old logging or mining road to north of the standard route.  Our path is shown below:
It was fun to try an non-standard route, particularly in winter.  The popularity of climbing 14ers in Colorado has made solitude a bit hard to find, so often times a non-standard route is you best bet.  We ascended the road and wrapped around a north facing ridge line into a basin north of Brown's Peak.  While there is still not a lot of snow in the mountains right now because of the warm, dry fall, we did encounter some deeper snow in this area.  On the west side of the basin, we saw a shallow snow filled couloir leading to a ridge the looked like it would take us where we wanted to go.

 Once we reached the ridge, it was a fairly simple hike to the higher intersection ridge line leading to Browns Peak.  We were initial concerned about the jagged appearance of the ridge but it turn out the these jagged features we actually slightly below the actual ridge top.

 Upon reaching the ridge, Huron Peak finally can into view.  we contoured along the ridge and across the west face of Brown's Peak, crossing the upper end of the bowl leading to Huron Peak.  We were now at 13,500 ft. and have little more than a quarter mile to go to reach the summit.

 The trail was steep and covered in packed snow but was pretty easy with microspikes on.  The trail zig-zag its way across the north face until it emerged on the fairly small, pointed summit.

 The weather on the top was glorious and the views amazing.  You could see all the giants of the Sawatch neatly lined up to the east and the rugged Ice Mountain and Apostles to the south. After resting and refueling at the top, we finally began our uneventful descent of the standard route to conclude a spectacular day in the mountains.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tour of the Moon

This past Saturday, I wrapped up my riding season with a spectacular ride in the inaugural Icon LASIK TOUR of the MOON, Hell of the West Cycling Classic, in Grand Junction / Colorado National Monument, CO.  The Tour of the Moon was made famous in the 1980's Coors Classic and later in the 80's film American Flyers starring Kevin Costner.  This ride was the second stage in the film's fictious Hell of the West Bicycle Classic.  The weather was perfect, especially in comparison to the frigid weather that had rolled into the Front Range the day before, and the scenery may have been the most beautiful I'd ever experienced.
I rode the 62 mile route (~3,500 of climbing) from Grand Junction, up through the monument, down through Fruita and then back into Grand Junction.  My goal was to ride a sub-4 hour time even though this wasn't at all a competitive event.  I was quite pleased with my ride (I've posted my data from  I felt strong climbing and cruising and very comfortable letting it roll in the descents.  It was a great day all around on the road and I am already looking forward to doing this event next year.
Another cool thing about this ride was that I got to ride 10 or so miles with Tom Danielson, a professional road racing cyclist who currently rides for UCI ProTour team Garmin-Sharp.  He rode in the 2011 Tour de France, riding well and finishing as the highest placed America in 8th place and placed 3rd in the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge.  He is a great guy and an amazing rider.  I won't soon forget this experience.

We can rebuild him. We have the technology.

I've decided to take an even more scientific approach to training with a visit with Dr. Iñigo San Millán, PhD at  The Human Performance Lab at The Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.  Dr. San Millán is considered one of the top and most experienced applied physiologists in the world, and has worked with many elite and world class athletes and teams in sports including track and field, running, cycling, triathlon, rowing and basketball, including six Pro Tour Cycling Teams, a Tour de France winner and 16 Grand Tours podium finishers.  I figured if it was good enough for elite athletes, then it was good enough for me.  I spent the better part of an afternoon working one on one with  Dr. San Millán, suffering in the name of science.  After explaining the biological basis of athletic successes and failures,  Dr. San Millán put me on a bike and pushed my to my limits to get a good understanding of how my body works.  I got detailed information on my VO2Max (Maximal Oxygen Consumption), Lactate Profile and Metabolism and my Individual Excercise Metabolic Profile and Metabolic Crossover Point.  He then tailored a training and nutritional plan exactly for my needs.    Dr. San Millán is awesome!  I highly recommend a session with him for any athlete looking to take there performance to the next level.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Raising the Bar

After my most recent marathon, the urge to take on bigger challenges grew considerably. I am hardly a dominant marathon runner and I certain can still get much faster, but I didn't feel particular challenged nor was there any uncertainty as to whether or not not I would finish.  I have already signed up to run the Greenland 50K on May 4, 2013 but the additional six miles seems to be a fairly modest step up.  I really want to go out and tackle a 50 mile or 100 mile run.  These would be a whole new ballgame and would once again bring the uncertainty as to whether or not not I would finish back into the equation.  Fifty miles sounds more pleasant to me but I'd like to knock of 100 miles at some point even if it does sound like a death march.  The question now is how do I get ready for something like this without over-training and/or hurting myself and what event should I pick.  Colorado has several options but most of them sound kind of brutal but I'm always a bit reluctant to leave my normal training environment for I'm found that heat and humidity sometimes hit me harder than altitude.  The Leadville 100 would be awesome eventually.  I think that the Leadville 50, Run Rabbit Run 50 or Bear Chase 50 are the races I will target in 2013 (one not all three).  We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I just completed the Sports Authority Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Marathon this past Saturday, yet I hadn't planned to run it. I spent my summer climbing, cycling and traveling and had done little running in preparation of a marathon. I did run a marathon in May 2012 and I figured it was going to be it for the year. Nonetheless, when Team Refuel offed me the opportunity to run the marathon for free, I signed up. I'd run seven previous marathons and figured I'd find a way to get through it. My goal was simply to finish before the course closed and figured even that might be a challenge given that I'd run less than 26.2 miles cumulatively in the previous 3 months. Amazingly, I finished well ahead of the course closure with a time of 4hrs 43mins and never had to walk once. Moreover, the marathon felt much easier than past marathons and I never felt sorry and fatigued in the days that followed. At first, I started to think that Allen Iverson may have been on to something (practice?!?!). After have more time to ruminate on my performance, I've come to realize that my cross-training over the summer had kept me fit, I never over-trained and I stuck to my race day plan. I thinks these things had been problems for me during previous marathons, especially the sticking to my race day plan. It seemed like I'd do too much the day before, eat the wrong things the night before or morning of the race, or would forget to eat and drink at every aid station. I definitely plan to train for my next marathon, but I think I spend more time listening to my body during my training and will keep to my plan.

Early December climb of Northwest Ridge of La Plata

 Peak:  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet

 Date Climbed:   12/05/2010

 Early December climb of Northwest Ridge of La Plata   

Image #1: La Plata Trailhead
La Plata TrailheadView Larger Image

I arrived at the La Plata trailhead off of Highway 82 at shortly before 7am on Sunday December 5 and waited for a partner I met through Climbing Connection. He showed up at about 7:15am and we were soon on the trail.
Image #2: View of La Plata Peak
View of La Plata PeakView Larger Image
Image #3: Bridge at begging of trail
Bridge at begging of trailView Larger Image

The weather was surprisingly calm and mild as we started along the trail and I ending up shedding a lay about 10 minutes into the hike. The trail was was fairly well packed and easy to follow up to treeline. Given that the winter route up to the Northwest Ridge winds for a long stretch through dense trees, I would highly recommend a GPS. We made steady progress up toward the base of the ridge but I eventually decided to put on my crampons since the trail pretty much went straight up the steep hillside and I got tired a slipping. About a quarter of a mile before treeline the snow got much deeper. I wish I had brought my snowshoes for this stretch for I was postholing to the mid-thigh and the going was both slow and tiring.
Image #4: Talus slope leading to top of Northwest Ridge
Talus slope leading to top of Northwest RidgeView Larger Image

We reached the base of talus slope just above tree line shortly before 10am. After a quick breather, we started the slog up to the top of the ridge line. It was not as difficult as it looked but it was important to fan out since several large rocks did get knocked down the slope. Once on the exposed ridge top, it got colder and windier but nothing too daunting. We were rewarded with some beautiful views.
Image #5: View down ridge towards trailhead
View down ridge towards trailheadView Larger Image
Image #6: Sayres BM
Sayres BMView Larger Image
Image #7: Mount Elbert
Mount ElbertView Larger Image

The next mile on the ridge was pretty gentle and had mostly good footing. However, once we reached the point where the standard summer route reached the to of the ridge, then the route steepened considerably. We were able to follow the summer route for the most part, but we sometimes deviated from the route when snow or ice on the trail left better options off-trail. There were also spots where the trail was lost entirely due to large snow drifts. We were still able to spot the occasional cairn to basically keep us on route. The ridge was fairly wind-scoured though it was certainly not free of snow. We did out best to stay on the rocks, which made it easier but we still had to battle some sections with deep snow. The last half mile to the summit was pretty slow. We were pretty tired from the climb.
Image #8: Nearing the summit
Nearing the summitView Larger Image
Image #9: Reaching the summit
Reaching the summitView Larger Image

We summited at about 12:45pm. The wind wasn't too bad so we actually spent about 20-30 minutes resting, hydrating and snacking on the summit. The weather looked like it was starting to turn so we started our descent. Given the snow and ice, the descent was much more tiring and slow than the typical summer descent. We were fortunate to have the weather clear again once we reached the spot where summer trail leaves the ridge for the valley below. It was a beautiful walk back down along the ridge and the views of Elbert and the Ellingwood Ridge were breathtaking.
Image #10: Stunning view of Ellingwood Ridge on descent
Stunning view of Ellingwood Ridge on descentView Larger Image

The descent through the trees seemed to take forever. I was very relieved when we finally got back to the trailhead at 4:30pm. This was just about the most exhausting 14er climb I'd ever experienced. This was much harder than your typical summer climb. Nonetheless, it was very rewarding and worthwhile.

Late spring on Sneffels

 Peak:  Mt. Sneffels  -  14,150 feet

 Date Climbed:   05/29/2011

 Late spring on Sneffels   

Mount Sneffels has long been a peak I've wanted to climb. On Memorial Day weekend, my friend Rob and I headed down to southwest Colorado to do just that. We arrived in Ouray not knowing just how far we'd be able to get up the Yankee Boy Basin road, given the tremendous snowfall the state had received this year. I left Ouray at about 4:15AM and picked my friend Rob up at a campsite along the road just after 4:30AM. The road had been plowed to a spot about a quarter mile below the restroom parking area. We put on our snowshoes and started up the Yankee Boy Basin shortly after 5:30AM, ascending primarily along the standard route. Apart from a good wind in certain spots the weather was clear and not too cold. The snow was still quite deep but solid enough that we had no trouble staying on top of it.
Image #1: Yankee Boy Basin at first light
Yankee Boy Basin at first lightView Larger Image

Image #2: Looking down Yankee Boy Basin
Looking down Yankee Boy BasinView Larger Image

Rather than follow the jeep road up to the upper parking area, we went up the right (east) side of the basin which seemed to be the shorter and better route given the conditions. I was amazed by the scenery and stopped many times to take pictures.
Image #3: Gilpin Peak from approach to upper trailhead
Gilpin Peak from approach to upper trailheadView Larger Image

An hour or so after starting out, we finally reached the upper trailhead, which was still quite buried. The upper trailhead granted us our first view of Mt. Sneffels summit and the route we would follow to the base of the first gully.
Image #4: Upper trailhead
Upper trailheadView Larger Image

The recent abrupt warm-up made us a bit concerned about the snow conditions. We could see dozens of wet surface slides throughout the basin, but no slab avalanches. When we finally reached the broad gully leading to the saddle, we were delighted to find that the snow conditions were ideal (though we suspected it would soften considerably by the afternoon).
Image #5: Ascending broad gully to saddle
Ascending broad gully to saddleView Larger Image

We cached our snowshoes and poles by a large flat rock at the base of the gully, broke out the crampons and ice axes, and headed straight up the gully, reaching the saddle just before 8am. Upon reaching the saddle, we turned north and began climbing the steeper, narrower gully leading toward the summit.
Image #6: Narrow gully toward the summit from saddle
Narrow gully toward the summit from saddleView Larger Image

Seeing a set of tracks exiting the gully less than a quarter of the way up, we contemplated following, but instead elected to continue upward. It was easy climbing on good snow all the way to the notch at the top of the gully, but it was here that we encountered our first challenge.
Image #7: View down narrow gully from notch
View down narrow gully from notchView Larger Image

As we neared the notch, there was no obvious exit given the heavy snow along the western edge of the gully. The only option seemed to be a 10-15 foot rock and snow climb directly up from the top of the notch. This proved to be somewhat challenging in crampons and I moved very cautiously due to the fair amount of exposure. After reaching the top of this section, we could then see the summit only about 100-150 feet away.
Image #8: Final approach to summit
Final approach to summitView Larger Image

We made our way along the ridge leading to the summit and reached it at about 8:40AM. The views of the the San Juans were spectacular, as was the view of the Western Slope to the north.
Image #9: View north from summit
View north from summitView Larger Image

Reaching the summit was very satisfying and I was glad to have been able to do it as a snow climb.
Image #10: On the summit
On the summitView Larger Image

We did not descend the same way we had come up, for down-climbing the section at the top of the notch was not very appealing. We instead descended the southern face parallel to the upper gully and then traversed into the gully at the same point we had thought about exiting it earlier. Once back to the saddle, we chose to glissade most of the lower gully and we soon got back to where we had cached our gear. By this time (9:45AM), the snow was getting quite soft. We headed back down the increasingly warm basin the same way we had come up, reaching the car at 11AM.

Apart from a few windy areas, the day could not have been better. We were not the only ones who got to enjoy the day on the great mountain. We saw at least 12 other climbers on the mountain, most of whom were planning a ski/board descent. It maybe a few weeks before the restroom parking area is plowed and perhaps more than a month before the upper trailhead road is plowed, but the mountain is definitely accessible.

Here's a rough rendering of the route:
Image #17: Rough rendering of route
Rough rendering of routeView Larger Image

Extra Pics:
Image #11: Potosi and Stoney
Potosi and StoneyView Larger Image

Image #12: Gilpin Peak
Gilpin PeakView Larger Image

Image #13: Gilpin Peak and Telluride
Gilpin Peak and TellurideView Larger Image

Image #14: Yankee Boy Basin
Yankee Boy BasinView Larger Image

Image #15: Lower south face of Sneffels
Lower south face of SneffelsView Larger Image

Image #16: SW ridge of Sneffels and slide
SW ridge of Sneffels and slideView Larger Image