Monday, April 28, 2014

Zane Grey, I mean, I mean 23.5!

This weekend was "supposed" to be our comeback race at the Zane Grey 50 after both dropping in 2007. That year we had temps hotter 'n hell, so we hoped that maybe with some better weather we would get through this beast.

As race week came along the forecast was calling for temps in the upper 40's to low 50's with a possibility of showers. PERFECT! Read on...

What we missed was the RD's message the day before:

Runners, Volunteers, Crew & Pacers,
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather condition alert for the Mogollon Rim and northern Gila County.  Due to genuine serious concerns over flash flooding of Horton Creek and Christopher Creek, compounded by rain and high wind conditions, the following changes will be in place:

We are going to have both a 50K and 50 Mile option, with both finish lines being at Fish Hatchery.  Finishers of either distance are eligible for all finisher awards.  Runners do not need to decide which distance they are running until they get to the Fish Hatchery.

Because of flooding conditions expected at the Horton Creek (mile 38)  and Christopher Creek (mile 44) crossings, runners will be diverted down the Horton Creek Trail (we will have monitors here).  For 4 miles, runners will follow the Horton Creek Trail to the Horton Creek Campground.  This is where a new aid station will be setup and “See Canyon” drop bags will be located (approx. 42 mi.).  The final 4 miles is up the paved road back to the Fish Hatchery.

However, if Tonto Creek (mile 33) is swollen and impassible, all runners will be stopped at Fish Hatchery.

Thank you for your understanding,
Joe Galope
Race Director


Race morning we had the absolute pleasure to have Robert "Mongo" Andrulis drive up from Chandler to hang out and drive us to the start. This eliminated half the problem of what we were going to do with our truck in this point to point race that provided no shuttles back to the start. All we had to do now was to get back to our hotel in Payson, which is a lot easier than getting back up HWY 87 to Pine and the start.

A couple of Ultrarunning geeks at the start line

Race morning was chilly as we rose at 3:30am for the 5am start, so we hung out in Robert's car until a few minutes before.  Chilly was fine and so far no rain, but as soon as we started up the trail it began to come down. It was quite windy, too, but we should be mostly in the trees and protected from that.

Why can't those clear skies be here?

The plan was to run around my aerobic threshold HR of 130 to keep us from going out too fast. In the past when we used this, we enjoyed passing many runners in the 2nd half of the race. This went well up to the first aid station at mile 8. It was raining heavy now and we got in 30 minutes ahead of the cutoff and both felt great. In and out we went, I ate some fruit and then had a Raw Revolution bar on the way out, while Deb ate some of her potato home fry style pancakes that she put in a baggie.

Mile 8 aid station

Within minutes of leaving this aid station, the temps started to drop and the rain changed to hail...due to this, the trails became slick mud that stuck to the bottoms of our shoes which filled in all the nubs on the bottom so no grip now! Slipping sliding, struggling up the hills and careening downhill out of control with no chance of stopping made for an interesting time.

We ran into the next aid station at mile 17 hearing "You've got 3 minutes!". Wow! We lost 30 minutes in that section! As we came in they helped us get our drop bag and told us the 50 mile was cancelled due to the weather and the rising water in the canyon, the finish was to be at mile 33. Then the weather got worse when I was expecting it to get better. I kept telling Deb when it was cold and snowy that it was only 8AM and things should warm up. Well it only got colder.

The first sign of hail collecting on this uphill

By mile 20 we were both soaked to the skin, had everything on we brought (we were dressed for NH winter conditions) and were getting so cold we were neglecting eating and drinking, so we kept talking to remember to eat! Remember to drink! My fleece gloves were now frozen solid and I couldn't get my hands back into them without difficulty. Forget putting my fingers in, the finger parts were solid ice!

This was taken not long after the last photo
Things were going downhill fast

After struggling mightily with the beginnings of hypothermia (shivering while running) and slowing down because we just couldn't get up some of the hills they were so muddy and slippery that I began to think stopping at Hellgate may be best and a life saver.

I've run in New Hampshire in the middle of winter in sub zero temps and have never been this cold! I've been on the top of Mount Washington in the Winter at 40 below zero and I wasn't this cold....why? Because the rain soaked us before it got cold. I don't know the actual temps, but it had to have been below freezing.

No longer fun
I could no longer get my hands to work to take any more trail photos

After one last struggle up a real slippery slope where I had to push Deb up and then she pulled me up, we came to the Hellgate aid station at mile 23.5 at around noon and were immediately told that due to safety concerns all runners who didn't make it there by then had to stop. I said "Thank God" while Deb started to ask why! She is definitely tougher than I am. Here I am thinking of stopping as I'm coming into the aid station and she's already here and wants to continue! Even while she's standing there shivering!
If they didn't stop us and she wanted to go, I would not have let her go on alone...but they took that decision out of my hands.

Next they said "Now just walk 2.5 miles down that road to the rescue vehicles". Ugh! The road was a deep, sticky, muddy mess. We tried jogging but were so cold we couldn't get our leg muscles to work, so just walked. We were both shivering and cold and the only thing that made things a little better was the sun came out for a few minutes.

Riding to the finish in the rescue vehicle

Upon arriving at the Fish Hatchery, where the new finish was, Joe Galope, the RD gave us both a finisher's jacket because we were stopped due to weather, out of our and his control. Thanks, Joe!
A nice family of a runner gave us a ride back to the hotel and after a hot shower and a cold beer, we went out to get some food in our bellies. Robert returned from work and joined us for the evening of food binging and beer drinking.

It was a wonderful weekend with a black hole in the middle. We really wanted to get the 50 done...I guess I would have been satisfied with the 33 mile finish, but it still wasn't "Zane Grey". From what I understand, the run has never been cancelled due to weather.

To see the rest of my "not too many" photos go to this link.
For the results go here.
39 of us didn't get past Hellgate, out of 200 entrants there were only 137 starters, 93 finishers. I'm thinking many of the Arizonans decided to not show when they heard the weather that morning.

So that's it, I'm back at work, Deb's home taking care of things and our many animals. My next goal is to focus on the 5K and to try to get some speed back. It will be an interesting experiment after doing almost totally Ultrarunning since the mid 90's. I started today with four hill repeats on dead legs from the 8.5 hours total, 7 hours to Hellgate, then the walk down the road. The legs don't feel too bad, but I'm sure there's some deep fatigue still in there.
My weekly miles will plummet, but the days I do run will be focused on speed.

Another thing on the horizon for us is some backpacking in Colorado this Summer. Since neither of us are in Hardrock for the first time in 13 years, we don't know what to do with ourselves! So we'll be hiking some areas we never got to see due to always training for Hardrock.

See you on the trails (and roads)!
Steve and Deb

Friday, April 11, 2014

A new training plan'd think at this point in my life after running for 39 years (next week is the anniversary) that I would have my training down pat. But as many will find out, you have to change things as you age or will be left sitting on the sofa with tired, over-abused legs.

The past 10 years or so I've been following a mostly Maffetone training protocol that has you run at a low HR for the majority of your running. This keeps your legs and body fresh for continued training, but in order for his system to work, you need to do lots of volume. As I've been learning how to adapt to my aging body (I'm 62 with a lot of miles on me), I have found I need more recovery than training. In comes Scott Jurek's book "Eat and Run". His proclaimed recovery on the vegan diet got me to switch over to this type of eating not quite 2 years ago and I have to say I feel better than ever, but it still wasn't enough. My daily hour and multiple hours on the weekends that I've been doing for years was leaving me flat and tired all the time.

So I got into a discussion with someone I met online who had already gone through this and found a way to make training work. I found Rich through this article and more recently this one and it opened my eyes. We seniors absolutely need to inject more rest days or we're heading for disaster. It's not injury I'm worried about, but total body fatigue as the recovery times need to be increased.

Enter in every other day training...I have been dabbling in this off and on the past year with some success, but I kept making the same mistakes. As soon as I got recovered from the long runs, I'd go back to my old ways because I was now "fixed". Add to this the infection and cipro I talked about in my last post and more disaster, trying to run a road marathon in El Paso and a trail marathon in Salida within 3 weeks of each other last month didn't help either, especially while trying to recover from these while running the final miles in Salida, I decided to take the plunge and run only every other day. I will have to say that after 2 weeks of this, I'm enjoying my running better and the pace is starting to drop a bit. Not long ago my average running pace was in the mid 12's, it's now in the mid 10's and I expect it will drop further, but not as dramatically. I need to have patience through the process.
I still wear the HRM, but run by feel and collect the data afterwards for my log.

Here I will mention that I have 2 goals this year....a sub 20 minute 5K and a sub 3:30 marathon. These times are what the age grades say I "should" be able to run based on my PB's of 16:32 and 2:48 when in my early 30's. I have confidence that as I continue to improve on this training and move into the race pace phase, I'll reach or get close to those goals. The 5K has to come first in order to have the leg speed to run a marathon in a sub 8mpm pace. First I need to recover from my next event and I'll begin this journey.

Typical Zane Grey 50 trail
(in usual 90 degree heat with no shade)

The next event is the Zane Grey 50 miler in 2 weeks from tomorrow. We've been getting some good long runs with the road long runs up to 20 miles leading to El Paso through the Winter and the more recent long trail runs. Last weekend Deb and I ran 26 miles of the Jemez 50K route and I finished the run by running the last 7 miles at a solid pace (mostly downhill, but rocky and/or sandy). I needed 2 days off from that run this week, but I felt great on my 6.5 miler on Tuesday, feeling quite recovered from the long run.
Zane Grey isn't something that will help me with my goals mentioned above, but we entered last year and would like to get this one done after both DNF'ing in 2007. Zane Grey claims to be the toughest 50 miler in the country, but I'm not sure that's still true...but it's going to beat us up. I'm not planning on racing it, Deb and I are going to enjoy the day together and help each other in low spots. I'm looking forward to the journey!

Looking down from Kroger's Canteen, AKA Virginius Pass, 13,000+'
Where we announced our engagement in 2001 and could be where we sleep the first night this year while hiking the course

On another note, my friend Mark Heaphy and I agreed that I will be pacing him on his 16th journey and finish at the Hardrock 100. Mark and I spent most of the run together last year where I ended up finishing just in front of him because he and his wife Margaret stopped in the road before the finish to talk to someone. I didn't even know I went by them and would have pushed them along, if I had known it was them. We became separated when I stopped to take a 20 minute nap at the KT aid station, about 12 miles from the finish...but the nap refreshed me so much that I caught them and several others.
So I'm glad to have my Hardrock plans coming together. Deb and I are planning on hiking the whole course the weekend before the race. We'll take our time and do this in 3-4 days, either sleeping under the stars or staying at a hostel or motel in Ouray and at a friends in Lake City. The first night should be between Telluride and Ouray and we'll camp up high to watch the fireworks as that will be the 4th of July.

We are planning on doing a lot of hiking in Colorado this Summer, rather than run races as it may be our last Summer in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

So that's it for now, time to get working on our house. One more bathroom to replace and we're almost done!
Steve and Deb

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Healthy again

Had my checkup yesterday along with the accompanying blood test and the good news is the infection is gone! Finally! I've been dealing with this thing (Prostate infection) since I first woke up with a fever back in October...blood in the urine, painful urination, loss of bladder control as the day went on.
A visit to the Urgent Care with a shot in the ass of a powerful antibiotic and a 10 day round of Cipro, known as the tendon killer. Not good for runner, BTW ;-)

Another follow up visit in November showed the infection was still raging, so another round, this time Bactrim to save my tendons...and at this time my PCP told me to make an appointment with a Urologist as he is the specialist with these problems. My PCP was not only concerned about the infection, but the possibility of cancer. (Notice I don't capitalize the word as my Mother had a double mastectomy (still alive at 86) and I lost a sister to the disease back in '95.

So I made my appointment with the Urologist and it was his opinion that cancer was unlikely, but that he wanted to do another large round of Cipro, which is the only antibiotic that can get to a deep infection like a prostate infection. So even with the possibility that I may rupture a tendon or tendons, I went on 21 days of 1000mgs of Cipro...a nuke, as my doc put it. During this time I also went ahead and ran a road marathon in El Paso (a total failure) and also the Salida Trail Marathon, another failure. During both races I did have achilles tendon pains, deep in the calf where it inserts, so didn't feel like I could or should push it. El Paso was too hot anyway, so I stuck with a low HR during that race to keep from overheating and overstraining my tendons. At Salida, I actually had tendon issues in my shoulders and achilles, so I had to run easy.

How has this affected my running? Not too good....I've been working harder, breathing heavier at a much slower pace. Lately my paces have been around 12:30ish, where several months ago I was cruising in the low 10's/upper 9's. The doc said how being on this much antibiotic and as powerful as Cipro is affects everything. It kills all your good gut flora and your gut is the center of your universe, mess with it and all sorts of things go haywire! If my PSA score was still above the norm, then I would need a prostate biopsy to rule out cancer. Needless to say I was sweating out going to the doc yesterday, but it was normal and am clear to move on with my life :-)

So to get back where I was I am now running pure Maffetone (120 BPM) until I start feeling my running coming back. No speedwork whatsoever. I hope this gets me in shape to finish the Zane Grey 50 miler coming up next month.

There's still the question of how this infection came is very similar to a female getting a Urinary Tract Infection. My theory, and something I have mentioned to my doc, is that finishing the Hardrock 100 in July was my most difficult ultra yet, even harder than the Barkley fun run I did in 2001. I think being out on those trails for over 44 hours put my body into a deep fatigue and caused my immune system to get out of whack, thus I was open to illness. Add to that my late summer into fall marathon training schedule (yes, I'm a stubborn runner), there was not much recovery, even though I added in recovery days/days off, with the infection I should have been doing nothing!

I feel like I'm now back in control and like I said in the prior paragraph, it's all easy from here through Zane Grey and also after for at least a month. I then will start training for a 5K old man personal best. Eventual goal is 19:59, which may take me a year or more to achieve ;-)

See you on the roads and trails!

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Deb and I were down in ABQ on business and opted for a longish run in the Sandias for Zane Grey training.
Our day began with dropping off some of Deb's artwork for the Masterworks show at the Expo, so We got a late start, but were sure even if we ran and hiked easy, we'd be back in plenty of time before they closed the park.

We started at the bottom of the Pino Trail in the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area and ran along a nice rolling foothills trail in around 60 degree temps. It was awesome! From there we made our way over to the Tram building and found the Tramway trail at the far end of the parking lot, which said would take us to the La Luz trail. Getting on this trail was another delight, rolling around just above the foothill homes, several times we got caught on some connecting trails where there were no signs and ended up down in the housing area, but climbed back up from where we came and found the trails again.
Soon we were on the La Luz trail and if I remember right, this took us close to 2 hours. We ended up about 1.75 miles up the La Luz from it's trailhead.

There were lots of hikers on La Luz....until we reached the 5 mile point, where the snow begins and it gets colder and windier. The snow was well packed down, but we still put on our Katoola Microspikes for added traction as the trail is maybe a foot wide and angled down to the left or right.

Once up near the top after the Albuquerque Road Runners sign, the trail was now on the sunny side and more mud that ice. We reached the Tram house on the summit at around 4:45 into the run and at this point were getting concerned as to if we were going to make it back down to the truck in time before we got locked into the park.

From the Tram house on the summit (10,640'), it was about 4 miles to the Pino Trail in off and on ankle to calf deep snow, which slowed us down quite a bit. I forget exactly what time we reached Pino, but ti was somewhere around 6:30PM, 4.9 miles up from the park, which closed at 7...not good. So we made the decision that I'd go ahead and run down as fast as I could in the hope that I'd get there in time before the Ranger left. I knew my fastest time running down this was 45 minutes, mostly due to being old and some icy spots when I did that. This time add more ice and snow and several blowdowns....but I tried.
About the top third or so I had to run in the microspikes due to the ice and snow, but I had pretty good traction and with that comes confidence in not slipping. Once i got down to where I thought there was no more, I took them off and blasted down as fast as I could. Again my time was around 45 minutes, arriving at the park around 7:15. The ranger was just cleaning up and getting ready to lock the park up, but he was a nice guy and waited for Deb to come down. She was only around 15 minutes behind me, arriving around 7:30.

Once down we both thought the same thing....FOOD! So we drove on over to the Range in Bernallilo. Now I will mention here that we've both been vegetarians for quite a while, maybe 1-1.5 years for me and maybe 3-4 for Deb. After ordering my La Cumbre Elevation IPA to sip on, I ordered a juicy green chili cheeseburger and Deb got some salmon ;-)

So that's out adventure....our day began leaving the house for ABQ at around 8:30am and we got home a little after 11PM...tired, we showered, I grabbed one of my home brews, a nice stout and sat down to watch some "Big Love" ;-)

Now it's Sunday morning and we're heading to Los Alamos for some errands and a gentle hike...

See you on the trails and roads!

PS: No images, etc because my internet here at the house is lame.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Back to blogging here...

I've decided to move back to this blog for a number of reasons.
1. I'm voluntarily leaving the Wasatch Speedgoats.
    - I'm no longer running 100's, which is one of their requirements, plus I'm moving aside to make room for new members. You'll be seeing me wearing my VHTRC shirt in most of my trails races and once I move back and get settled with the Monadnock Milers, I'll be wearing their shirt again for my road races.
The Perogoats blog was more about us both being members of that team. Deb is still a member, it's just me least for now. Who knows what the future will bring for her, she's very much into painting and gardening and her training seems to get pushed aside more and more. Especially this year her not getting into Hardrock has taken the wind out of her sails.

2. Deb never posted on there, so I figured I'd just come back here. I need a place to write my daily notes about anything and post any pictures I've taken.

So far it's been a tough year....I woke up with a fever in October and my life hasn't been the same since. Off and on Cipro (the tendon killer) since then to push out a prostate infection. I just finished a 21 day round of 1000mg's of it and see my urologist on Wednesday to see if it's cleared up.
The antibiotic, Cipro, is not just a tendon killer. It also made training difficult, breathing has been heavier, my paces have been a lot slower and I just have felt overall really tired.

I had planned on running a road marathon last year to attempt to qualify for Boston again, but this kept pushing things and I settled on a marathon in El Paso last month. I even had to withdraw from a half marathon in Albuquerque the day after I woke up with the fever.

El Paso was a bust....I just couldn't get in shape and it turned out to be near or at 80 degrees that day where the average temp was supposed to be in the mid 50's. So I just wore my HRM and kept my HR at what "should" be my marathon pace HR. It worked for awhile, as I was on a 9mpm pace for the first 5 or so miles, but the closer to Mexico we got, the hotter it got and as my HR stayed at 145, my pace decreased in the heat. I ended up at 4:40, my PW in the marathon by 50 minutes. I have run in the past almost 2 hours faster than that! Of course that was 30 years ago ;-)
I won't give up the hunt for that elusive BQ time of 3:54:59. The goal is actually 3:45 to get a BQ-10 in order to register early. I know I can do it, just have to get through this illness.

Last weekend I went to the Salida Trail marathon, which I've done in the past a couple of times. It's a really nice race, very similar to a fat ass where the entry fee is low, but you do get a shirt and some good food at the finish. They were even serving beer this year, which I bought one....and nice Elevated Porter :-)

We had these views all day long at Salida 

The race never felt breathing was heavy from the start, but as it got later in the race I slowed down off my hopeful sub 5 hour pace. My 2 times here were 4:45 and 4:56. Towards the end, after 20 miles it becomes rolling hilly trails and I started to get paranoid as my shoulder joints and achilles tendons were all I started thinking about the Cipro destroying tendons and backed off to avoid a rupture. This cost me the over 60 ag win as around mile 21 the guy who did win it went by me while I walked. Well, he can finish ahead of me, but not beat my time of 4:56 from 2 years ago ;-)

Just got back from a nice rike in the forest with the dogs while Deb cleans the rental cabin. She's going to go for a run after that. Me and the dogs went on these nice XC ski trails that were mostly dry, but had mud, ice and snow in spots....but it's a nice place to bring them because it's quiet and not many people hike up there. It felt good, I'm right now trying to keep my Maffetone HR at MAF-5 in order to repair and recover from the Cipro and infection. I will, in time, move it back up to MAF +10, which is where i usually train and is 130ish.

Future plan, once we get past the Zane Grey 50 next month is to train for a 5K. Work my way from the ground theory is if I can improve that, the marathon times will follow. Once we move back to NH, I'm planning on running more road races and less trails, I'll be supporting Deb in her trail races.
It's been a long trail running period, with my first trail 50K back in 1987, my first hundred miler in 1998 and many years of Hardrock. I'll miss doing Hardrock, but that ship has passed. It's becoming too difficult to get in and I always struggle there. Got my third finish last year and in the opposite direction, so I feel complete there. I do have one ultra trail carrot dangling in front of me and that's the VHTRC's Reverse Ring. Deb's finished that and I haven' to get that done ;-)

OK, I think I'll end this here, but will be a more regular blogger....maybe even daily!
Until the next time, Happy Trails!