Dirty 30 Recon - Pace

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I was asked by UD to attend the Runners High Fun Run.

But. There's... things about me you don't understand. I Am A Loner Dottie, (A Rebel!), so getting me to do something in a group of people is tricky. UD do a lot for me - essentially they're a huge fan of awesome things in the mountains, of which I tend to do a lot of, so going to this fun run is No Big Deal for me to accept. And the running community is accepting to weird people like me, since it's just full of weird people already. 

Along with the fun run, which was fun, since my sweetie ran with me, was the Elite Panel afterwards, which included Andrew Skurka

He's an interested character, with pretty firm opinions on technique and gear, but he also backs up his opinions with research and data. Love it. One of his articles, Pace charts for TNF 50. And how everyone starts too fast, seemed like a good one to put to the test, using my gps data from the recon run. 

His thesis boils basically down to: everyone starts too fast, and you pay for it later. The slower you are, the more you'll hurt in the end. 

I don't see myself as being an elite running, just a moderately OK one. In this race, I have to keep that in mind. Let's see my rough data, split into miles: 

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This is weird data to work with, since the pace is all over the place (I stop, I start) and the elevation changes as well. Above, the light blue line is my actual pace. It doesn't vary too too much, although there is a downward trend. My pace is fairly consistent (slow!), although I'm still slowing down at the end. There isn't a huge dropoff though. Let's simplify things: 

pace_over_time_dirty30recon.jpg
This data removes complete stops, which is weird. 

Here though we can see, in this hastily put together table, that my pace (here, in seconds) goes up, as we go through the course. It's not a huge amount, but it's certainly not a negative split. It is more than 90 seconds/mile - more like 200 seconds. Yikes. 

What to learn from this? Start out slower. My strategy may be to hike the uphills that aren't a full-on dirty road, until after the top of Black Bear trail, then start bombing. That, to me, is the turning point of the race. If you look at the simplified graph, the fastest pace is the first third - then there's a moderate slowdown of pace. Thanks, Andrew. 

5/4/15 - 5/10/15

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Monday, May 4, 2015 - Rest

The deluge of last week finally hit me. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - Green Mountain (S)

The weather has gone from cloudy to just drizzly, testing me to even want to go outside. It's not just that we're not used to such Pacific Northwest-like conditions, it's that everything is getting super saturated and muddy - I'm just waiting for the entire OSMP's to close. 

I'm also adjusting living a few miles away from Chautaugua, so doing an after work run poses some problems of where to stash my backpack. So, after work, I rode up to Chautaugua, put everything in a dry pack (including the MacBook) and just hoped no one took it! I've done this before at trailheads, but never so close to an urban center. 

This made me want to finish up my run pretty quickly and my planned two laps up Green ended up just one - helped by the blah conditions. Despite not really wanting to give it a good go, I PR'd the route up by 3:48, which is notable I guess. More than likely, just starting slower at the beginning gave me fresh legs, once the going got easier. 

Thankfully, the bag, and my Macbook were waiting for me at the bike. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015 - Bouldering @ Movement

I had planned to take a run this morning, but I wasn't down to leave my laptop there again. Thankfully work has lockers available and a shower, so I skipped the run, and rented a locker to throw my laptop in for the night, to pick up tomorrow morning. 

Instead, I joined Chrissy bouldering, and promptly hurt my left wrist again. I was actually hoping we'd be climbing on routes, rather than bouldering, which seems to be much nicer to my wrist, but alas. Did some stretching, and a short spin bike sess., so I didn't feel to lazy about things. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015 - Green (S)

Another lap on Green, this time I had little, if no stoke left in me, having stayed up too late the night before, and having the weather just be as pretty much close to uninspiring as possible - I almost passed on the entire idea.

PR'd the roundtrip (1:09:32) by about 2 minutes, which I guess is nice, but far from what I could do, rightfully stoked and without the trail being super wet - I'm thinking 10 minutes can be found somewhere in there. 

Still, the goal was just to run 99.9% of the route - which was done comfortably. I'm still amazed I'm able to do that. It seems not that long ago that running up Green Mountain by any route was something to be newsworthy to me - as if it was something impossibly difficult to even comprehend. I can remember when running 5 miles on flat pavement was something that made me surprised. Or running flat pavement at a pace over 9:30.

I've learned a lot since then and maybe got a little stronger. The only route I cannot run from start to finish is the social trail behind the sunset Flatiron. It would be silly to do so, except as a challenge. A running time on that would certainly be much slow than a running/powerhiking time. 

Friday, May 8, 2015 - Bouldering @Movement

The weather has turned from bad to worse, and I skipped out on the idea of getting up early to do a massive run. Instead, I slept in, did some work, then hit the gym to do a few hours spin on the bike, about an hour of stretching, and then bouldering for another few more hours. Some fun problems, today.

Saturday, May 9, 2015 - Golden Gate Dirty 30 recon

The weather this week was sincerely getting people nervous that we were in for another flood-like catastrophe. The Quad Rock race up in Fort Collins was cancelled due to trail damage that most likely would occur if the race was held. This led many to all of a sudden have nothing to do on Saturday, and an itching to run, so Fred put together a group run together on the Dirty 30 course, which I was able to join in on. Golden Gate Canyon was probably one of the better places to be on trail, in the immediate area, but the weather just got even worse. Rain turned into snow and freezing rain, but sort of made the best of it, running around 21 miles of the course at a very casual pace. Some takeaways from the course: Most of the climbs and descents and much more mellower than what I practice on, but they seem much longer. I'll have to make sure to keep myself in some sort of reasonable pace for the first half of the race, as that seems to be the easier half, and give it more of a go at the second, hard half. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015 - Off

Off to eat pizza. 





4/27/15 - 5/3/15

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longs_from_estes_park.jpg
Longs Peak from the steps of the Stanley Hotel, Estes Park

This was a pretty difficult week to get through, as I needed to move to a new house, I had a rehearsal, then to play a show in Estes Park. My Brother was also in town for a few days, and I wanted to hang out with him, giving me another variable in an already busy week.  I knew all this going into the week and adjusted my expectations accordingly. 

Ultimate Direction Body Bottle Plus

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Somewhat puzzling, I haven't mentioned on this site officially that I'm now an Ultimate Direction Ambassador! I utilized the UD Peter Bakwin Adventure Vest on my little 14er Mountain Bike/Run shindig last year and it filled out the exact niche I needed: a pack that I could ride and run in, without being too bulky or heavy - and still make it to the end of the month+ adventure somewhat intact. This ambassadorship means a lot to me and the UD family are wonderful people. I've been able to meet many of them on my visits to the UD HQ, as well as on the trails, in the climbing gym, at the running store, etc. The lead designer has some really great ideas brewing and I'm excited to see what comes out in the future. 

One of the products I've been given to test is the Body Bottle Plus. Think of it as a water bottle (flask, really) that's made similar to a hydration pack: same flexible plastic material, but in a much smaller size, with a valve to drink out of, rather than to run a hose through. Since moving to Ultimate Direction products, I haven't used a pack with a large water reservoir as I've had in the past. 

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The big reason is those damn reservoirs always leak on me and usually in mysterious places that take forever to track down and impossible to fix. And it is a pain to refill them - something you don't realize until you find an alternative. Upfront water bottles, like the UD Signature Series have seem to work much better. I also like these bottles since they fit my bike frame's cages just fine (and I ride a lot of bikes!). 

The Body Bottle presents something a little different. Although it doesn't work in my bike bottle cages, it will work in the pockets up front on all the UD vests. I haven't used them much for this purpose, as I also like the larger capacity of the harder bottles (I tend to need to drink a ton of water). So, what to use these for? 

Two applications come to mind. As well as water, the Body Bottles work well with carrying powder nutrition. I use the Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem product often - usually chocolate flavored and caffeine-free (I add instant coffee for an extra kick and extra flavor, plus I can control the portions). 14 ounces, the amount the Body Bottle Plus holds,  is a lot of powder for mixing in with water and the Body Bottles work nicely - just throw the bottle inside my pack and go. They're easy to find again, since they have a distinctive feel, and they don't rip or break like a plastic baggy does. They also magically shrink when you take contents out of them, which keeps my pack from getting too unwieldy with all the opening and closing and shuffling of gear. 

The other application is just to use as a place to stash extra water into the back of my UD vest on long runs which don't have access to potable water. Here, a bottle would really stink, as the hard plastic would indeed hurt my back as it rubs up against it. No problem with the Body Bottle - just take it out, drink it, squish it empty and pop it back into the pack. There's a nice locking mechanism on the top of the bottle, so they things don't leak - that's pretty important, when the Body Bottles are right up against things like my rain jacket and phone. 

So let's do something with these things. 

Decided Friday was going to be a long run - I'm trying my best to get ready for the Dirty 30, 50k of single track in the Front Range! Surprisingly, this will be my first sanctioned ultra trail race - I'm just not that much into sanctioned events, and well: bikes just need to be ridden. But sometimes, I like to test out my fitness alongside others, rather than on the somewhat insane tests of attrition FKT's I dream up. 

In this run, I wanted to keep myself moving, so stopping to try fiddle with finding water and treating it was out. The route I decided on was a local test piece: The Boulder Skyline Traverse - a classic line, summiting five of the peaks just west of Boulder. I remember reading about this route on Anton's Blog way back in the day, when doing such a line sounded preposterous  to me: I just didn't have that sort of fitness, and Anton was winning Leadville 100's like it was just another daily run. But I kept it in mind as a way to mark my own progress. Would I ever be able to do something like that? Now I look back, having done a Double Skyline Traverse - essentially a doubling up of the peaks summited, and realize just how much progress I've made in such a short time. 

My variation Friday was around 27 miles, and 8,000' of climbing.I tend to need to hydrate quite often, so I had to strategize how to do this on a route that has no potable water.

I locked my bike at the Settler's Park Trailhead, and brought up just a UD Fastdraw handheld up the Mount Sanitas Trail - the first peak, and descending the newish Lions Lair Trail (long! gentle!). Once finished with the loop, I visited my bike locked again and traded out the handheld for a UD AK Vest I had stashed which had two UD Kicker Valve bottles up front, and two Body Bottle Pluses stashed in the back, along with a light jacket and gels. And off to Flagstaff Mountain I went.

I finished off my first Body Bottle on Flagstaff, and the second after ascending Green Mountain (my 48th summit of Green for the year). Finishing off another bottle on top of South Boulder Peak I then had a whole bottle left for the entire length of the Mesa Trail and back down to my bike, about a half mile north of Chautaugua. Worked out perfectly, and I didn't stop for more than 30 seconds to a few minutes at each peak to hydrate, take in the views, down some gel - great emulation of aid station stops. 

Looking back, the trudge back from the South Mesa Trailhead was probably the low point of my run. You lose at least 3000' from the top of South Boulder Peak to the Southern terminus of the South Mesa Trail, battering the ol' quads. Then, you have 7+ miles to run on the Mesa Trail and then finally needing to run down back to the bike on Pearl Street.

Happily, I found a second wind not far from the Mesa/Fern Canyon junction, finishing the run with a 13:00/mile pace. Being now a month out from the Dirty 30 50k, it's a good test of my current fitness and I can now try to polish off some of the weaknesses (which are many). Of course, I wish I was a little faster, but I'm guessing the course won't be as grueling. Although it's approx. 4 miles longer than this run, it has almost 1500' less elevation gain and it certainly can't be more technical than all the flood-damaged parts of this route. In all, that should make for a faster pace for me. How much faster is really to be seen. 

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With the help of UD and products like the Body Bottle Plus, I'm really looking forward to my introduction to sanctioned ultra trail racing! 

See you out there!