Never Summer training week eight recap

The second recovery week of my spring season is done.

  • 5 hours, 44 minutes
  • 33.1 miles
  • 2146 feet D+

I ran on 5 days, but did no speed workouts, no run taking more than 90 minutes. We've added dumbells and a BOSU ball to our home gym's equipment and I used those in two workout sessions during the week. Did you know that "humpbacked", in French, is "bossu"? A humpback whale is a "baleine à bosse".

I plan to keep running outdoors, but this week I made changes to where and when that I will stick to until the pandemic is over. It's not too hard for walkers to maintain six feet of distance, they're only passing people going in the other direction. A runner, on the other hand, is passing people in both directions, and more often. So, I'm avoiding the city's popular recreational trails, including my favorite Spring Creek trail, and when in town will be running on the nearly empty feeder streets. I need hills in my diet and don't want to avoid the nearby single track, but I'm going to go out earlier than I would otherwise like to avoid other users as much as possible. I feel good about this plan and so does my family.

I feel less good about not yet replacing the missing yoga in my schedule. Although I've been practicing regularly for years, even while I was living in France, I've been doing it in groups led by an instructor and have never cultivated a self-guided practice. I've heard people say that they have a hard time working at home. This is my experience with yoga. I'm finding it hard to get started.

Massage is another aspect of my training and recovery that I will be without. A foam roller and tennis ball aren't quite the same, but will have to suffice for a while.

COVID-19 and hydroxychloroquine

The story about spurious prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine hits close to home: this drug is my one prescription medication and the U.S. Bozo-in-Chief is causing a run on it. I got a 90-day refill on the 15th and am glad I didn't procrastinate. Let me make two things clear: 1) I'd be thrilled if hydroxychloroquine turned out to be an effective treatment for COVID-19 infection, and 2) Trump should seriously STFU.

There's more about this in the New York Times business section today.

Never Summer training week seven recap

Despite it all, I'm still running and still posting these weekly recaps.

  • 8 hours, 41 minutes
  • 45.3 miles
  • 3156 feet D+

I've run 6 days in a row and I'm tired. Only one of my runs, today's at Lory State Park, had any climbing. This week was dedicated to speed sessions. Wednesday I went to the track and ran 6 5-minute intervals, one more than last week, and at a faster pace. I had to play some mental games with myself to complete that workout. Thursday it snowed and I ran in some of the worst of it with my ski googles. Friday I went out on the Spring Creek bike trail and did a pyramid workout: 1-2-3-2-1 minutes of running as fast as I could sustain with equal recovery. For the 1 minute intervals, I was running a little faster than 6 minutes per mile. My pace for the 2 minute intervals was about 6:45 per mile and I did the 3 minute interval at a 7:30 pace. No faster than last year's workout, but I feel good about getting it done in cold weather, with a sinus infection, and under the black cloud of COVID-19.

Next week I'll only run 4 days and only easy miles. The challenge will be to make the time for yoga, at home, and some strength and conditioning, at home, while working and getting the kids on some kind of remote learning schedule.

Good luck, everybody.

Never Summer training week six recap

The numbers:

  • 8 hours, 49 minutes
  • 50.4 miles
  • 4344 feet D+

A little less vertical this past week, a little more speed. Tuesday I did 5 5-minute intervals, faster than the week before, did some comfortably hard running on Friday, and then ran on the Blue Sky Marathon course at a pace 90 seconds per mile faster than I ran the race in 2017. This next week I'll be doing more speed workouts.

Are we going to be past the COVID-19 epidemic by the end of July, when the Never Summer 100k starts? I sure hope so.

Winter update

Yesterday I went running at Horsetooth Open Space in a freezing fog and saw some amazing rime ice on the pines.

Meanwhile, back in town, we're snow-free for the first time since December and our yard and garden are starting to wake up.

Free of snow, nevermind the stuff falling from the sky, it didn't stick




The news from China and Iran and Italy as the COVID-19 pandemic developed over the past few weeks has been unnerving. The stream of propaganda, lies, and bullshit from the White House has disturbed me even more. The President of the United States can't be trusted to tell the truth about the smallest of things and clearly doesn't give a damn about the welfare of anyone else. We're up shit creek and one of America's worst people, a man who you wouldn't trust to feed your cat while you're on vacation, is holding the paddle.

My Mapbox teammates are in Washington D.C. and San Francisco and started working from home last week. The team has been semi-distributed for years and so we're not missing a beat. There's definitely some anxiety at work. Social conscience is a common characteristic of Mapbox employees, so this is primarily anxiety about others and society at large. Working from home is recognized as a privilege not afforded so much by management, but by the industry and by social class. It's the least a privileged tech worker can do, and we're all doing it.

In Fort Collins, we've been waiting for more than a week for local institutions to make their moves, and they finally have. Colorado State University has closed its classrooms and will go entirely online. Poudre School District cancelled sports and trips and then announced school closure through March 29. Colorado Governor Jared Polis has published an executive order declaring a state of disaster emergency. The National Guard has been activated and Colorado is going to help with paid leave for people in certain industries. On Friday, Gov. Polis announced a strong recommendation that events larger than 250 people be cancelled. I'm not sure whether this constitutes a ban or not. Maybe it will become one. Today I read in the Denver Post that Polis asked Colorado ski areas to close for a week. A few had already done so after finding sick employees.

My family isn't shutting itself in quite yet. The kids were in school on Friday. Ruth went to a mostly empty gym this morning. I went to the food co-op for some staples, to the feed store to get a bag of grain for our hens (there's little wild stuff to eat yet), and will go out running again this afternoon. However, we're ready to stay in more and flatten the curve if needed. It may well be. I don't think we can remind each other enough that doing the right thing in this crisis isn't going to be self-rewarding for most of us. It's not going to be like going to down to a storm cellar during a tornado and coming out to see that you would have otherwise been torn up like your house and car. The lives we're going to save are across town, in other homes, people we don't even know. I hope that by now you've read Zeynep Tufekci's article (linked above) or something like it. My oldest is developing an interest in sociology, and I loved being able to point out Tufekci's work as an example of what a modern sociologist does.

Right in the middle of all of this, I have a cold. Probably the one my youngest and her school friends had a week ago. Just sniffles and a mild headache, but it's no fun.

Next week I'll be working from home, listening to NPR on KUNC, and avoiding rumors and anxiety on the hell site. The kids will be here. Ruth might close her lab and work from home as well. Wash your hands and stay safe, everybody!

Never Summer training week five recap

Week five was my biggest of the season so far.

  • 9 hours, 14 minutes
  • 45 miles
  • 5968 feet D+

Twice the climbing, 3 more miles, and an hour more time on my feet than week 5 of last year. Five runs. A long bike ride and session of lifting weight at the gym. Heated flow yoga was extra spicy with sore quads. Back-to-back longish runs on the weekend.

Tuesday I trotted from my house to the gravel track at the site which was Fort Collins High School from 1925 to 1995, now the Colorado State University Center for the Arts, and did the workout I'd been dreading for a week. After strides on the track's infield and some stretching, I ran 4 5-minute intervals at 90% effort, with a minute of recovery between each interval, then trotted back home. I'll be working my way up to 8 faster intervals of the same length by June. The first set is the hardest.

How do I gauge my effort? Partly by feel and partly by measuring my heart rate and math. I use the Tanaka equation for my maximum heart rate.

max_hr_bpm = 208 - 0.7 * age_yrs

I'm 50 years old, and so the maximum heart rate of people like me is something like 173 beats per minute (bpm). 90% of this is 155 and the heart rate monitor in my Garmin watch said I was working at 155-165 bpm during the intervals. I'm curious about getting a more scientific measurement of my maximum heart rate, though I'd be surprised if I was far from the statistical norm. When I was 25, I used to run uphill intervals at what I thought was 95% effort and could sustain 180 bpm. That was right on the Tanaka line.

In 2016, I got an electrocardiogram in France, which is a fairly routine part of physical checkups that are required to participate in club sports and ultramarathons. The doctor said my heart was fine, but also wanted me to understand that he saw a risk of permanent heart damage for older athletes who push hard. I'm trying to be mindful of this and get the benefits of intense training without injuring my favorite muscle. If I am working with a slight underestimate of my maximum heart rate, that's fine. I'm not in this for money or glory, it's all about sustainable fun and health.

Saturday I joined folks who have been training for Quad Rock for a group run from the Eltuck picninc area at Lory State Park. We went up Well Gulch, the Timber Trail, Westridge, down Howard, connected to Mill Creek, went up Mill Canyon, and then did it all in reverse. Almost 18 miles and over 4100 feet of climbing. We had beautifully balmy spring weather and pretty good trail conditions, packed snow degrading into wet slush only at the very end of the run. I ran in shorts and a t-shirt the entire time. My feet got a little wet, but I didn't blister, and only crashed on ice and snow once thanks to my screwed shoes.

The local foothill trails have been closed for two weeks but were reopened yesterday. I went out for a shorter hilly run today at Pineridge and Maxwell and after a couple of miles my legs felt great. I love back-to-back long runs and not in a masochistic way, it just feels good to simmer the stiffness away, see some different trails, and revisit some of the thoughts and ideas I had the day before.

Never Summer training week four recap

This week I ran 4 days, rode my bike outside for 50 minutes one day, did my usual two yoga classes, and tried to get plenty of sleep. The numbers are modest.

  • 4 hours, 4 minutes
  • 24.5 miles
  • 1086 feet D+

Saturday I went for 10 miles on bike trails and streets in town. It wasn't a hard workout by any means, but I took it seriously and paid attention to running with good form and increasing my pace mile by mile. Today I went for a shorter easy run on snowy and muddy trails at Pineridge. The trails must have been super sloppy yesterday afternoon but were still frozen during my run and not bad. There's still a lot of snow hanging around from storms in February and it's snowing again this evening. Getting quality miles in March will be challenging if the local trails remain muddy and partially or completely closed.

Never Summer training week three recap

Here's my week three recap. On time, not a week late like week two's recap.

  • 8 hours, 22 minutes
  • 43.5 miles
  • 3957 feet D+

I skied half a day at Steamboat on Monday, telemark style, so a pretty good workout in 10" of new snow. Tuesday I did an easy 7.5 miles on the bike path. Wednesday I flailed in the snow for an hour at Pineridge. Thursday my quads felt pretty well recovered and I did a tempo run workout on the bike path. Tempo for me, right now, is a little over 7 minutes a mile. Friday my favorite heated flow yoga class was extra challenging because of my tired legs, but I hung in. Saturday and Sunday had my first back-to-back longish runs of the season, 23 miles total. Back-to-back long runs worked for me in 2019 and I intend to stick with them in 2020.

Snow blanket on Mill Creek Trail

February has been all about running in snow. Yesterday I went for a longish hilly run at Horsetooth. I had first tracks on the Herrington Trail and was the second group through on Wathan and on Mill Creek Trail. My lower leg stabilizer muscles got a big workout in those conditions and were complaining this morning during the first mile of my easy longish run up the Spring Creek Trail in town.

Lower down, the amount of snow depends entirely on the slope aspect

Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) are nesting in Horsetooth Open Space again this year and a stretch of the Spring Creek Trail that passes by their hearth is closed. I'm more than happy to go around. What good are mountains without eagles and other raptors?

Don't mess with the eagles