Sunday, March 17, 2013

UD Scott Jurek "ultra vest"

I'm not going to turn this into a gear blog.  I'm not going to turn this into a gear blog.  I'm not going to...

So one of the pieces of this 100-mile mystery I will need to solve is what I want to carry, and how I'm going to carry it.  Hydration obviously, some food, and a very minimal amount of clothing and gear to help me deal with whatever sideswipes me out there on the trail. 

I don't currently own anything that I would consider a good solution for this need.  I have some small packs, but they're pretty unpleasant to wear while running.  I have a waistpack, but don't care for the bounce I get from something that is basically attached to my pelvis.  I really don't care for drinking out of a hose.

For some time now I've been interested in carrying stuff in front ... anything I would like access to without stopping to mess with my load, like a bottle, a snack, maybe small map & compass, etc.  I was about ready to start tinkering with a solution of my own -- partly because tinkering is just what I do.  Well, guess what.  Ultimate Direction handily ticked the basic boxes I was looking for with their signature series vests/packs:  (1) a little cargo space in the back, and (2) BOTTLES (3) IN FRONT. 

Nice!  So I ran out real quick and got one.

Alas, it turned out not to be the solution for me.  I couldn't seem to get the fit/size right, it was either too loose to stop the bottles from bouncing, or it was tight enough to affect breathing.  Worse, for me, the bottles were in exactly the wrong place ... directly over my nipples.  I completed my first & last run with the pack with my bottles in my hands, and returned it to the store the next day.  Yay Boulder Running Company for their good customer service.

I'm still convinced it's the right approach; I do want to run with bottles, and I want the front-carry option, but this specific design wasn't right for me.  I don't see a lot else out there that fits that description.  The UltraSpire Riblon looks like a promising back-carry version of the same idea, maybe I'll give one of those a try.

And I will definitely continue with some tinkering of my own!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Perspective -- yeah, that's important

I got to thinking today... yeah, it's crazy that I'm planning on 'running' a 100-mile race.  Sort of.  I mean, it's new for me, and it will be really really (really) hard and all that, but it's possible.  People do it.

Here's what's really crazy:  that I have the luxury of doing it at all.  I have the health, the resources, the opportunity.  I can worry about training periodization, and getting enough good sleep, and whether I need one new pair of shoes or two, and make all kinds of choices with my nutrition. 

All that would be so utterly foreign to the majority of people on this planet.

I'm still going to do this thing, but really ... who cares?  Is there any actual value in me having an incredible experience that stretches me in every way, and probably crushes my prior perspectives on my personal limits? 

I hope so.  I'm going to find out.

By the grace of God, I'll continue to experience the statistically rare privileges of staying healthy, training well, spending gobs of quality time in the mountains, and truly appreciating the people around me who participate, support, question, and ask me if I'm off my rocker.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Game on, it would seem

You'd be tempted to think it's game on because I went for my first long run of the year.  (My definition of "long run" is anything over 90 minutes, for now). 

I knocked down 2 solid hours in some glorious late-winter Colorado Front Range sunshine.  Mileage?  I dunno... I've been in the habit of training by the clock for several years now, and haven't got in the habit of carrying a GPS.  Strava?  Not me; maybe someday.  Yeah, I could figure it out online.  If I needed the info, I could get dig it up.  Measuring training volume in hours works dandy for me.

I got suckered by the sunshine, though.  Didn't take long to figure out the temp was actually in the upper 40s, once I was out there in my shorts and an old BolderBoulder t-shirt.  My hands got good and chilly, but it wasn't too bad.  I had the motor good and warmed up, and the rest of me felt fine.

The biggest thing for me now is to ease into the training volume.  It's sooooo tempting to dive in and overdo it.  Heck, jumping from a training base of several lunch-hour runs to a solid 2-hour go isn't exactly a by-the-book rampup.  I'll be listening carefully to the knees and ankles as I go along, and certainly won't be stretching my long run beyond the 2 hour mark for another couple of weeks at least.

My intent is that my workweek running won't be all that distinguishable from a typical 10k plan volume-wise, and on the slow side.  The real key will be the weekend 'runs' which will progress into epic territory by summertime.  Planning on lots of trail miles, with an emphasis on interesting projects like multi-summit linkups and such, and really not stressing over the actual running.  Just looking for lots of hours on foot, at altitude, gaining and dropping big elevation.  I'll be working in occasionally 'mountain duathlons' as well (approach by bike), so that I can get a half-day's load on heart, lungs, and gut, without a half-day's abuse on my joints.

But all that's just ruminating about what I think I'll be doing as summer approaches.  Here's the real story:  this is why it's really game on... 

I'm all-in now because I just ordered some SpeedGoatKarl's 100 Mile Blend!!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

So many firsts (sort of)

It's official, I've put my money where my mouth is.  I've registered for my first Ultramarathon.  September 2013 I'll be "running" 100-and-change miles through the stunning backcountry around Steamboat, CO in the Run Rabbit Run trail ultra.  My first!  Sort of...

However ... if the definition of Ultramarathon is "anything longer than a Marathon" then it's arguably not my first.  I paced the last 30 miles of the Run Rabbit Run last year, with good buddy and fellow West Longmont Soccer Dad.  I did the Aspen Backcountry "Marathon" last year, which was painfully longer than 26.2 miles.  I've done the Pike's Peak Marathon, which ain't like any other Marathon.  But.

But all that is a bundle of useless technicalities.  This is the real deal.  100 miles is far far beyond anything I've done before.  Who knows what I'll find out there?  That's kind of the point.

So what am I up to here?

I thought it would be kind of fun to track my adventures and misadventures over the next few months as I get ready for this thing.  I'll be sharing a little bit of what I learn along the way: 
  • what gear I settle on
  • what nutrition seems to work for me
  • interesting, embarrassing, or just plain dumb experiences
  • and an occasional useless opinion or two.  
Wait ... everything I just listed will be opinion.  You get it.  This is a blog.  My blog.  Don't get your hopes up too much.

Have I gone soft in the head?  No this is not a mid-life crisis.  Honestly, I think it's less disturbing that I'm going to try to hoof it 100 miles in one push, than that I've decided to BLOG about it.  Really?  I'm the guy who's been chronically underwhelmed by the internet in general ever since Al Gore invented it.  Which is funny, because my entire career has been in software.  I like the internet.  I use it every day.  But if it went away tomorrow would my quality of life go away?  Nope.  I'd write more paper checks, get away with leaving things to the last minute a lot less ... and I'd probably go buy some USPS stock.  If there was any.

Anyway, I'm just laying things out there as a starting point.  If you are stubborn enough to follow this blog long enough that you come to a point where you say "Eric, you just don't make sense"... well, you can't say you weren't warned.

So raise a glass to the start of ... something.  I'm going to have some fun along the way.  Stay tuned, maybe you will too.