Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Month in Review (February)

2/2010: 100.9 miles
2/2011: 111.3 miles
2/2012: 151.9 miles
2/2013: 137.8 miles

Blizzards, Beaches, and Colds! (With a little bit of running.) Oh my!

February began with a business trip to Boston. The frequency of these trips has increased a bit, with me now traveling about once a month. Generally, I fly out on a Sunday afternoon and fly back on a Friday evening. This time, however, a gigantic nor'easter had other plans for me. I desperately tried to reschedule my flight back to Denver earlier in the day in hopes of getting out before the storm hit, but it was all for naught. Everything got canceled before a single flake had fallen. On Friday, I hunkered down in the office until the snow became heavy enough to force me to retreat back to my hotel by mid-afternoon. It snowed for 24 hours straight, winds howling, dumping about 24" of snow in total. The fifth largest storm in Boston's history. I was trapped in Boston until I finally managed to get a flight out on Monday morning. What made this ordeal all the more frustrating was that the original plan was for me to meet my wife and kids in Denver on Friday night. We'd then spend the night at an airport hotel and fly to Florida on Saturday morning. Yeah, not so much. My wife ended up having to juggle both kids by herself. She made it to Florida in one piece-- barely. I spent a good portion of my weekend on hold or talking to representatives from United and Frontier. Christina was helpful enough to text me pictures of herself lounging on the beach (while I negotiated shoulder-high snow drifts on my walk to work-- I didn't dare drive). In the end, I only missed about a day and a half of our family vacation, but... wow, it turned out to be an epic trip. At one point I seriously contemplated driving my rental car to Florida in a last-ditch effort to escape!

The office on Saturday. I was the only one at work.

Meanwhile, Ethan relaxes on the beach. (He looks very concerned that his papa is missing.)
Travel craziness aside, I feel like I more-or-less met my modest February training goals for this year. The only hiccup being a nasty head cold that I came down with on the last weekend of the month. It knocked me out of commission for a few days. My sinuses are still recovering... ugh. Due to my cold (and the fact that it's not a leap year) I came up a few miles short this month compared to last February. However, on the plus side, I did manage to run a 20-miler with my friend Jay in Boston, MA. And I also managed to escape for a 15-mile run during our family's annual vacation to Naples, FL. Both those runs were around an 8:30 min/mile pace, which felt pretty comfortable-- ah, the benefits of running at sea level.

I'm looking forward to the Salida marathon this week. I won't be in particularly good shape for it, but it should be fun nonetheless. First and foremost, Salida provides me with an incentive to train more than I otherwise would in January and February. I need a race as training motivation. If I waited until early May to run my first race, there'd be no way that I'd be running as much.

Salida is also simply a great excuse for me to log an early season long run. And if the weather cooperates (like it has the past two years), it's a refreshing taste of spring when Leadville is still buried under snow. That alone is reason enough to run it! (Unfortunately, the forecast for Saturday looks pretty grim.) Would I like to improve up my time? Certainly. Do I think that's possible? Maybe. Should I stress out about it? Probably not. So far, my training this year hasn't been radically different than last year. I shouldn't expect radically different results. I am training more consistently-- running/riding 5-7 days a week-- though my total year-to-date mileage isn't that different from last year. Will that have an effect? Hard to say. (Probably not.) I really beat myself up last year, jumping up to a 55 mile week in Florida and then running a lot of vertical on the treadmill in Boston the week before the race. It's possible that I might not have fully recovered by race day. The final weeks leading up the race this year have been more regular, without big fluctuations in effort.

When I look at the GPS data from last year's Salida marathon, it seems like I should be able to improve my time by 15 minutes or so. At least that's what I want to believe. While I ran the first half of the race fairly well (which is mostly uphill), I faded significantly in the second half. I was unable to take advantage of the downhills. The question is why did I slow down so much? In my blog entry from last year I complained about the snow and my lack of early season fitness-- mostly the fact that the race was my first 20+ mile run since October. I remember having some minor hamstring issues and feeling my IT band flare up a bit in the final miles. (I'm pretty sure I popped an Advil or two during the final miles of the race.) At the time I brushed it off, but in retrospect I should have taken my IT band pain much more seriously. I would end up being sidelined by it for several weeks after the race. I remember feeling hungry around mile 20. I ran most of the race eating gels and drinking Gatorade. Did I get enough calories? Doubtful, but how much can I blame poor nutrition for my performance? I didn't keep track of my exact calories/hour rate of consumption, so I don't have anything concrete to point my finger at.

Ah, whatever. I'm over analyzing things... It'll be great to get out for a long run on Saturday, no matter what my time ends up being. One thing is for sure: I'm certainly going to be out on the course long enough to get my money's worth!

Since my biggest, overarching training goal this year is simply to stay healthy and injury-free, the most successful running of the Salida marathon would be one that allows me to continue training well throughout the rest of March, putting me in a good position for a solid R2R2R attempt in early April.

Salida will be my last race in the 30-39 year old division. On March 25th, I'm moving up to 40-49! Yee haw!


  1. I think (from what I can gather here) this is your first trip on the Canyon.

    If you can get a LOT of down in before that ... well, it will help. Dropping 5000 plus feet in 7 miles has a tendency to shred things up a bit.

    Other than that, it is epic in every regard.

  2. Yup, this will be my first R2R2R attempt. I'm excited. I'll be running it with my friend, Alex, who's done it 3 times before, so I'm sure I'll benefit from his experience. I plan on taking it pretty easy, enjoying the scenery, and making sure I'm getting enough to eat and drink. It is very early in the season for me to be running 42 miles-- never mind the elevation gain/drop! I'm fairly certain there will be some hiking involved. But, it's all good. I view this trip as sort of 40th birthday present to myself. A chance to camp and run with family and friends. It's too nice of an opportunity to pass up even if it's pushing the limits of my early season fitness a bit... Hopefully it'll make my May races seem easy in comparison!