Running in 2018

I ran 195 times in 2018, including 3 local races: April's Horsetooth half marathon, May's Quad Rock 25 mile, and September's Black Squirrel. I accumulated some good numbers.

  • 198 hours and 18 minutes
  • 1,111.1 miles
  • 84,770 feet D+

I've never run more miles in a year since I started keeping track in 2015. I ran 934 miles in 2016 and 903 in 2017.

December was my biggest month of running since August 2017 when I was training for the Blue Sky trail marathon, and my second biggest ever. If everything goes according to plan, I'm going to go far into new training territory in January, February, and March of 2019. My body feels fine so far, though I did feel a bit pounded after my last 14 mile run along the ridge east of Horsetooth Reservoir. To try to keep my legs fresh I went to Altitude Running and added a new pair of Hoka One One Speedgoat 3 shoes to my collection.

https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7829/44744093290_b2baba2fba_b.jpg

I took them for a spin around Pineridge and Maxwell on New Year's eve. It's a much different ride than my old favorite Nikes, but I like it. They're bouncy.

Station identification

Hi, my name is Sean Gillies, and this is my blog. I've been writing here since 2005 and more often in the past year as I've weaned myself off Twitter. I'm going to write even more in 2019. What about? Generally: life and work. You can subscribe to either or both of those feeds if you like, in case running or standards wonkery bores. More specifically, I write about running, cooking and eating, travel, family, programming, Python, API design, geographic data formats and protocols, open source, and internet standards. Mostly running and local geography. I live mostly in Fort Collins, Colorado, and sometimes in Montpellier, France. I work at a startup called Mapbox, building location data services and products.

I hope you'll subscribe or continue to subscribe. I love to get comments on my posts via email. You can find my address in the "about" page linked at the top of this page.

Training week five recap

This was my hardest week of training yet. My weekend long runs added up to 24 miles and I did my first serious speed workout on the day after Christmas: running as fast as I could maintain for 5 minutes with a 1 minute rest, repeated 4 times. I ran at the CSU intramural fields. One loop around the light posts is about 4/5 mile. My pace for the intervals was about 7:45 per mile, a bit slow. I blame the cold and holiday excess. I'm going to try to pick it up on my next workout, tomorrow, which will have to be indoors on a treadmill since it's going to be too cold to run outdoors. Indoors, New Year's day, probably not a recipe for record breaking pace, but we'll see.

My family gave me a Garmin Forerunner 35 as a gift. I've enjoyed leaving my phone behind on shorter runs and have been using its heart rate function to modify my long runs. If Garmin's model of my maximum heart rate is correct, I've been going too easily on the flat or downhill sections and too hard on the uphill sections of past runs. On Saturday's long run I flipped this around to keep my heart rate mostly in the 70-80 percent range (lots of D+ meant going over a bit) and increased my overall pace compared to my previous shorter run on the same route. I'm going to continue to try to make my long runs easy, but not too easy, as the miles increase in future weeks.

I didn't do any significant amount of biking last week, but did 50 minutes on an elliptical machine at the gym listening to France Inter programs, and did two one-hour strength and conditioning workouts, one at Become Fit (squats, dead lifts, box steps, etc) and one heated flow yoga class at Raintree. I missed my favorite deep stretch yoga class.

The numbers:

  • 7:55 running time
  • 42.2 miles
  • 3389 feet D+

Training week four recap

I had a light week. I only ran on four days and traded one run for a long bike ride on the brand new sections of the city's Fossil Creek Trail extension.

Saturday I ran the backcountry loop at Bobcat Ridge. There was a dusting of fresh powder on top and only a few pockets of ice, good running conditions, but the natural area needs more snow than this to continue recovering from the High Park fire.

For the week:

  • 5 hours and 51 minutes running
  • 31.5 miles
  • 3310 feet D+
https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4814/31508110027_d28ecf121f_b.jpg

View from the top to Mahoney Park

Training week three recap

Mild weather continued this past week and running remained a pleasant chore. I did my first intervals of the season and two long runs. Yesterday I drove to the Arthur's Rock trailhead in Lory State Park and ran a route simulating the third and fourth summits of the 50 mile Quad Rock route, which are the same summit in opposite direction. I ran up and around Arthur's Rock and down the Timber Trail to the race's turn-around point, then back up the Timber Trail to Arthur's Rock and back down to my car. 12 miles and 2600 feet of elevation gain. The weather was beautiful, calm and balmy, and the trails are much less icy than they were at the end of November. Today I did another long run on nearby singletrack at Maxwell and Pineridge in shorts and a tee shirt.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4809/31405187037_2bb4f5aebe_b.jpg

For the week:

  • 7:47 total time (hours and minutes) running
  • 41.2 miles
  • 4167 feet D+ (dénivelé positif in French)

This is half of what will be my peak training volume at the beginning of April 2019. I'm daunted but it is starting to feel more and more feasible.

I got on the web and registered for the Quad Rock 50 mile and a trail marathon in Salida in March last night. I'm looking for some other local events this winter. There was a "fat ass" run at Horsetooth Mountain Park today, but I didn't hear about it in time.

On Tuesday during my interval workout, I hit a milestone: 1000 miles of running for the year. I'm going to be training much harder in 2019 and will be running more than 200 miles in each of February, March, and April. I might hit 1000 miles next July if I don't break down.

Next week is an easy week and I'm looking forward to some quality time with my family and my foam roller.

Training week two recap

Week two of my training ended today. I spent 5 hours and 45 minutes running 31.1 miles and gaining 2812 feet of elevation on 4 different days. I was sick in bed Wednesday evening and all day Thursday, missing my favorite small group training and an easy run. I did lift weights on Monday, however, and made my favorite yoga classes. By going relatively long on Saturday I was able to hit my mileage target for the week.

I ran at Reservoir Ridge twice and at Maxwell and the singletrack east of Horsetooth Reservoir once. We had snow on Thursday, but only an inch or so, and dry, so the trails are still mostly dry with some packed powder in the shade. Good conditions for running.

Saturday I saw a Canyon Wren at our Maxwell natural area for the first time. I've seen them many times in the Southwest, but they're rare here. Maxwell has a little bit of red sandstone, so they should probably feel at home.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6050/6385658831_3c4b11a1c5_b.jpg

Canyon wren (Catherpes mexicanus) by Noel Reynolds https://www.flickr.com/photos/29237715@N05/6385658831/

First training week recap

I just wrapped up my first week of training for the Quad Rock. I spent 5 hours running 29.4 miles on 5 different days and did another hour of cycling (not counting all commuting) and 40 minutes of non-running cardio exercise (rowing and elliptical). I pushed myself hard in a small group class at Become Fit (my favorite gym), adding a little more weight to my split squats. I did the deep stretch "yin" yoga at my local fitness center on Tuesday after my cardio workout and did the heated vinyasa "flow" class on Friday, my no-running day. The weather has been cool this week, but mostly dry and sunny, so I've enjoyed being out on the paved bike path and on the singletrack in the city's Pineridge and Maxwell natural areas.

Thursday night I waited until after dark to run; I'm going to have to do more running in the evening to get in my miles, and the sooner I get accustomed to this, the better. I also expect to be running the first ninety minutes, and first big climb and descent, of the Quad Rock in the darkness before dawn. I got a new headlamp and it works just fine. It's fun to look up as I run down the Spring Creek Trail and see the glowing beady eyes of raccoons.

My winter running gear for dry to light snow, 25-35 °F conditions consists of Patagonia Crosstrek pants (two thumbs up) that I bought at the REI store in Fort Collins and the Quechua softshell trekking jacket I got at the Decathlon store in Montpellier (1 thumb up, could be more breathable). On paved trails, I'm wearing Aisics Gel Kayanos, and on dirt and snow I'm wearing Nike's Terra Kiger 4. I took my New Balance Hierros out last weekend and found them to be terrible on ice. The Nikes have a grippy "clown puke" sole and I've got one pair in orange and one pair in a blue forest print.

Quad Rock Training Starts Tomorrow

In 2018 the 25 mile Quad Rock (May 12) was my big running event. I built my winter and spring training plan around it. I showed up and finished in 6 hours and 15 minutes. Tomorrow I'm going to begin a 24 week training program with the goal of finishing the full 50 mile Quad Rock on May 11 2019. If I can get in good enough shape to finish the second lap in less than 7 hours and 45 minutes (there is a 14 hour cut-off), I'll be a 50 mile finisher in the year I turn 50.

2018's Quad Rock was my third attempt to run more than 25 miles. I'd previously finished both of the two marathons I'd entered. I'd run 20 miles or more eight times in training. I'd survived crazy steep trail runs in the South of France. I knew the course well. Despite a half-assed winter of training interrupted by work travel and illness, I knew I was going to be able to make the cut-off. I'm not so sure about the 50 miler.

I was cramping and suffering and going backwards in the last 3-4 miles of last year's race. I wasn't going to be able to run another 25 miles in 7:45. I'm going to have to train more and better this season. I'll need to fix bugs in my gear. I'll need to build more muscle, find a good massage therapist, and learn to digest solid food while running (I suspect I'll be a natural at this). I'll need to lose some flab, which might mean cutting back on IPAs. Ouch. I'll need to learn to run well in the dark, for training as well as on race day. Making time for stretching and sleep will be super important. A little luck would help, too, and I feel like I'm due for a race where it's not snowing or raining and I'm 100% healthy.

Managing time is going to be my biggest challenge. In the peak of my training, I'm going to be spending 14-15 hours each week on the trail. That's like a part-time job. I'll need to get 60+ hours of sleep and put in a full week of work as a software engineer (relatively light duty, but still). I don't want to miss out on family stuff like skiing, concerts, school conferences, and soccer games. I've identified the personal activities that have to take a back seat: social media (which I've already curtailed), spectator sports (Pro soccer, etc), soccer coaching, arguing with people on the internet (everybody wins), and open source projects.

I've just completed my 3 best weeks of running since July and am feeling ready to go.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4836/46002820782_1628e52e6d_b.jpg

Fort Collins from Arthur's Rock 2018-11-25

The Kind of Hits That Whitaker Took

The newly appointed Acting Attorney General of the United States is completely unqualified for the job and people are chortling over a tweet this morning that reiterates the point.

It reminds me of an interview on NPR last Friday in which a friend of Whitaker says:

HAUS: I think that if you know Matt, as I and a lot of other people know Matt, you will know that this is a man who has a very strong core. Again, harkening back to the '80s, you don't play tight end for the University of Iowa and take the kind of shots and hits that he took and get up and get back in the game if you're not a person that's got a very strong core. You know your purpose, and you know your job.

The kind of shots and hits Haus is talking about are the ones that briefly knock you out, make you see stars, make you temporarily lose the feeling in your extremities, erase your memory, and we now know that these hits are implicated in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease.

People clearly learn and grow from playing football, as they do from playing other team sports. I don't think that playing through concussions and hiding brain injury is a good lesson. This is not the definition of character. We're still in an era where people argue that exposure to brain trauma qualifies a person for stressful intellectual jobs. I hope we're reaching the end of this era.