Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Marathon Man

I found this picture that my father sent me earlier in the year. It is an article of him on the front of the Aspen Times Weekly. Is this what I get to look forward to in 30 years? His advice on how he beats his competition is that he "outlives them". In just over a year he is going to turn 70, and we are going to go run a few races together, like the Imogene Pass Run.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Street Scramble At The Market

I participated in my first street scramble. The Street Scramble at the Market is a popular holiday event, and was sold out with 300 people registered. A lot of people brought their families and kids for an enjoyable walk/jog around town looking to answer 32 clues relating to statues, murals and holiday decorations. We got our maps a half hour early, and I spent the time writing a few street names onto the map and plotting my route.

When we started, I found that I was running with Roger and Yumay for the first seven our eight checkpoints. I eventually headed up to the hospital to get one of the far-lying checkpoints, whereas Roger decided to skip it (to his later regret when they finished almost half an hour early with only that one checkpoint missed). My path took me up to Capitol Hill, back to downtown, over to Seattle Center and back. I pulled back into the Market Street Theatre in 1:32:45 with lots of time to spare. Nikolay Nachev, a fierce orienteering competitor who wins some of the local O' Meets, arrived only seconds after I did. Wow. My sheet was quickly taken away and the final time written on it. I hope I circled all the answers. My hands were so cold (it was barely above freezing) that I had a hard time using the pen, and some of my circles were chicken scratches. I always worry that points are going to be deducted for illegibility.

It turns out that they could read all my answers, however, and I finished the course with all 1000 points in the fastest time. I am now the proud owner of a small blue ribbon and a few
words of congratulations from Eric Bone, the course designer and orienteer extraordinaire.

The course was very enjoyable and the navigation was minimal. Adding some of the street
names to the map ahead of time was very helpful. Knowing the area also helped a bit - I never felt like I really needed to rely on the map to tell me where I was. I planned out my complete path before I started, wrote it down as a list on the side of my passport, and I stuck with it the whole time. During the race, I enjoyed an inside look at a bunch of the different sights around downtown and a fun and festive race. Thanks Eric and Terry!

Here is the order in which I visited the checkpoints:


Running with Brock

Brock Gavery is a machine when it comes to running. When he asked me to go run 20 miles with him at Discovery Park yesterday, I jumped at the chance to socialize and get to know him better. Apparently he used to be a huge whitewater kayaker, and is good friends with Bryan Smith, who was an instructor with Body Boat Blade when I first took classes there. He has also run several back-to-back 100 mile weeks recently. I asked what race he was training for - he said it was just for fun. I ran my first 60 mile week this week, my longest ever. Now I feel like a slacker.
In any case, don't get into an endurance race with Brock. Even if you can get ahead of him, it's not a matter of if he catches up to you, but when.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Beast Race Results

Beast Race results are here:

Looks like we were 2nd. Wow. The people that snuck a minute or two in front of us at the end skipped a few of the biking checkpoints (50 minute penalty), and the people in front of them got a wrong answer on one of the checkpoints, which cost them a 15 minute penalty. We lucked out a bit. I guess it's not over until it's both over and all the points are added up. Second place is good. Out of 41 teams, too.

The MOMAR guys beat everybody else by 45 minutes, and they looked really well-dressed as well. What studly Canadians. MOMAR is a really good AR team, so I guess it should be expected that they were way out in front.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fall Beast Race

The Fall Beast Race was today. The weather was memorable. After a few inches of snow yesterday, temperatures were hovering just above freezing with snow and sleet coming down as I headed out to Lake Youngs for the Fall Beast Race. My partner was Dave Russell from Hood River, a steady, solid racer that Aaron hooked me up with. I think that we fit really well together.

After almost wiping out on my bike going from the car to the picnic shelter, I was worried about using the new clipless pedals that I put on my mountain bike, but I'm glad that I had them.
I'd highly recommend Crank Brothers Eggbeaters if you are going to find yourself in mud and slush, as they don't gum up like Dave's SPDs seemed to be doing, are they are very easy to clip in/out of (even for a newbie like me). Not to say I didn't crash - I did a couple times - but snow is very forgiving as long as there are not too many pokey things underneath it.

On our way from the picnic shelter to the official start line across the highway, we passed by an SUV that had skidded off the road and over a berm, taking out about thirty feet of fence, and landing almost in the bike path. Conditions did not look favorable for a twenty mile bike ride today, and I think that I would have rather been in bed right at that moment, but you can't take the adventure out of "adventure race" without losing a little something.

We originally planned that I would navigate, but a mapboard malfunction at the starting line left my mapboard useless, so Dave nav'd the first half of the bike section while I handled the passport. I set us back what felt like ten minutes when I misread the clue for B11 and thought we were looking for another streamer, although in the back of my mind, I was wondering how the race organizers had put a streamer on the inside of the fence in the watershed... It was disheartening to see several racers pass us as we backtracked, looking for the wrong thing. Then we missed the turn off to B12 because we were too hasty, but realized our mistake quickly enough not to lose too much time. After that, we simul-navigated the rest of the route, agreeing on where we were and where we were going, and we finished the rest of the course without error.

My bike was very unhappy, however. It only wanted to shift into half of the gears available at any given time due to slush buildup, and the brakes decided to throw in the towel by the time we hit the single track trails. After accelerating down a hill and into a snowbank, I learned my lesson, and rode the downhills on Cedar Mountain with one foot out as both an outrigger and a brake.

By the time the bike section was done, I was soooo ready to get off my bike. We were completely soaked from riding (in the rain) through two inches of slush that melted into muddy pools and rivulets. Now we can _run_ in the rain through the slush. Much better....

Running is much more relaxing than biking, though, as I can read my map easily while I run, and I have a lot of "run energy". We harnessed this by setting up a tow between me and Dave, and I got to run as hard as I wanted without worrying about getting too far ahead, and this helped us keep up a solid pace and pass a few other teams along the way. We had no run navigation problems, and our bushwhacking havigation was dead-on on T3. Going to T10 I got momentarily confused as to whether we could cross an out-of-bounds area on a road, and after a few minutes of wasted discussion and weighing our options (go back on long, hellacious trails, go forward on short, easy road) sanity prevailed. I think that we were both pretty tired pulling into the finish - I know I was.

Lessons Learned:
  1. Test out your gear ahead of time - I just got my mapboard minutes before the race, and it failed, leaving me in a worse situation than if I hadn't had it in the first place.
  2. Find way to manage passport better. Passports get wet in rainy conditions, so we tried to take it out as little as possible. Also I crumpled it up a lot inside its bag while holding it while riding our stuffing it in a pocket, causing the misread at B11. Better to have it in a see through folder with a grease pencil.
  3. Clipless pedals are great for slushy uphills and straightaways. I'm glad I tried them. On the downhills, I was afraid of skidding out, and sometimes unclipped at least on side, which also worked fine.
  4. A well thought plan can sometime go by the wayside when we see someone else ride passed us heading in a different direction. I should be more prepared up front (Dave brought highlighters and straightedge) and maybe mark important turns with a different color highlighter (e.g. missed turn to B12)
  5. We should have seen our planned path going through an out-of-bounds zone at the end and asked about allowability of going on a road. Or maybe someone did ahead of time, but we weren't listening to instructions.
  6. Clothing - I wore my biking tights and gortex pants, wool socks w/ seal skins over them, wool long sleeve, poly thermal over that, gortex jacket. I was a bit warm on the bike, but I got soaked through and was glad I had everything. On the run I wore the same without the gortex. I had biking gloves on bike and light poly gloves on run, light poly hat. I tried the glacier gloves before the bike - they kept my hands from getting wet, but made my fingers cold after a while due to constriction.
  7. Tow rope worked well. It not only helped Dave keep pace, but then he and I were always within talking range, and we could chat while moving. That helped us make sure that we both knew where we were and what our plan was. I liked that
I really appreaciate the efforts that Aaron V. and Matt Hayes put into setting up the race, and the other volunteers who also helped. They turned a messy, soggy day into an adventure.

Western States Lottery --- Not

The lottery for the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run was yesterday. There were only 191 slots available (166 more were filled by "automatic" entries) and 1,350 applicants. The odds of me getting in was about 16%. I didn't make it. It looks like Brian Morrison and Devon Cosby-Helms are running (Devon ran a great race at the Herzog run). Good luck to them. As for me, I'll have to wait until next year.