Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Daniels Park

Yes, I actually did something last weekend, but I've been too busy to get it posted.

Paul G was training for Across The Years and decided to do a Fri-midnight to Sat sundown run on the high ground from Daniels Park south of Denver. Some people are quiters. Paul doesn't know WHEN to quit!! So I met him after sundown Saturday night and we went several miles. I left him for a bit and did 3-sets-of-3 1/8 mile hill repeats that hurt like bloody hell. Oddly, the last set didn't hurt any more than the 1st.

Somehow, I haven't seen or spent much time with my friends since summer. Tim F is in Afghanistan. Anita F I finally saw again at Rim Rock and I realized I've been remiss. So I spent time with Paul Sat night, and then again Sunday morning (yeah, he was still going). And I'll be car-pooling to Pueblo with Dave B this weekend for the Rock Canyon Half Marathon.

I did hill repeats Saturday night, then intervals Monday night, and track workout Tuesday. Rest and massage tomorrow. DTR run Thursday (I plan to be a slacker).

Monday, coming home from work, a black fox with a white-tipped tail crossed the road in front of me. These are usually teenage Red Foxes that are full-grown, but not fully matured. Very rarely, they retain their black coat through life. I'd never seen a black fox, though, so this was a very cool thing to see. And it was only about 50 feet away.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

DTR Thanksgiving Day Run

We were supposed to meet at Noa Noa coffee shop, but I was running late. Then I took the wrong highway west from Golden and ended up on the wrong side of Centennial Cone Park. But it didn't really matter. I met up with the group 20 minutes later.

The wind was raging, and the temps were frigid. Thankful it wasn't -36 like it was in Leadville this morning!

I gave blood on Tuesday, so my legs weren't getting oxygen. I wasn't light-headed. It was as if I had just finished a race two days before. My legs just weren't cooperating. But I still got some decent miles and time-on-feet.

This is where everyone headed back, and I continued for some longer miles.

Mine were the only tracks for much of the way.

I saw two adult bobcats, a hawk that flew out of the grass a dozen feet away, a Rocky Mountain Bluebird flew across the trail in front of me, and whitetail deer tracks - a doe and two fawns. Unusual to see two fawns with one adult. The fawn tracks were so small they must've been the size of a medium dog.

James Peak on the horizon.

In all, 17.2 miles.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rim Rock 2010 Re-assess

I was pretty hard on myself for taking longer than 4hr to finish the Rim Rock Marathon. No doubt, I'm not exactly in great shape. However, looking at the stats, I still managed to finish 3rd in my division, and 58th out of 174 finishers. That's exactly the 33% mark, with 2/3 of the racers finishing behind.

I stopped "racing" at mile-marker 25, when I looked at my watch and saw 3:53 race-time. In order to reach my goal of a sub-4hr finish, I would have had to run sub-6min pace. I wasn't moving that fast down the steepest decent! So I "jogged" it in, not even caring that Sarah Labrec passed me near the end. I was more than able to re-pass her, but wasn't about to ruin what was apparently a very triumphant photo-op finish for her. I missed my goal and so nothing else really mattered but finishing. No doubt that final jog padded my time by over a minute.
However, compared to the whole pack, and the fact that I've been injured, I compared decently.
If I had not taken my camera, then finishing sub-4hr would have been guaranteed. Check out my special photographer running technique...

There was plenty of that, stopping, running backwards, even backtracking for the right angle a couple of times.
But I still tried hard, and with every stop, that's a bit of rest, and so not every second of stopping was actually a second lost. I was always able to run a tiny bit faster after each photo break.
So even though I'm still not satisfied, I'm not as upset as I was.

Check out this running form video/photo analysis...
"Bounce" in and of itself is not bad. It's "vertical" bounce which is bad. Cheap elastic energy refers to your springiness. This is good, and leads to reduced injury and increased efficiency. This much is left out of this gait analysis. They do mention "range", but not "spring".
I already have the correct landing angles, and my hands don't cross over, but I'll bet I bounce vertically quite a bit. Last night, I tried to mimic the Ethiopians, not bouncing as I ran. What I found was that in order to avoid vertical bounce, I had to alter the gyrations of my hips. This tired me out very quickly. I also discovered that in order to pull off the type of leg motions with that lack of bounce, I had to move much faster. Since I'm not in great shape, moving that fast, with that running form, killed me in a quarter mile.
On a ragged trail full of rocks and tree roots, much of this falls apart. It is not lost completely, though.
When Adam Feerst first re-taught me to run five years ago, I went through the same ordeal - running the way he taught wore me out in a quarter mile. But the end-result, once the required muscles had been retrained, was that I was much faster and less prone to injury. The knees I ravaged through over-striding were healed and my pace dropped precipitously.
You have to watch closely where in the stride they measure the angles. Many of the Africans will reach forward with their legs, and if you measured when their foot is several inches above the ground, it would look like an over-stride. But it only counts when their foot contacts the ground. As Adam taught, your foot should already be moving backwards when it contacts the ground. The Africans reach forward, and then arc back, contacting with a backwards-moving foot, and the shin is angled back far enough to place the toes directly under the knees.
This video analysis doesn't negate anything that Adam taught me, but it does add a significant morsel, i.e. vertical bounce. I was not able to take all of Adam's clinics, so maybe some of this would have been included? Anyway, very glad to see this, and passing it on to all of you.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rim Rock Marathon 2010

This was my first running of the marathon version of this race, which used to be the 23.5M Rim Rock Run.
My "training" pretty much ended at the Boulder 100, which was followed by a cold, then epic allergies, blending seamlessly into another cold. Neither cold was very severe at all, but it did keep me from breathing. Add tons of work on the exterior of my house and the only training I had for weeks has been the Denver Trail Runners Thursday night runs, once a week, and one Boulder Flatirons run.
So I knew I'd suck. I figured if I could finish under 4hrs, I could be satisfied, under the circumstances. Unfortunately I missed it by 4 minutes. So I'm not satisfied with my marathon finish.

The rest of the weekend, though, was incredibly enjoyable and relaxing. I enjoyed the ride out, the people, the weather, the scenery. I even enjoyed the snow storm on Vail Pass coming back so much I parked at the Pass and slept the night there to prolong the winter experience.

The final shot is Eisenhower Tunnel, at a red light, waiting for the hazardous fuel tanker on the right to drive through by itself. Winter is here, in the high country.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bear Peak and Mesa Trail

After two weeks of allergies and colds, with about three intermittent days total during that time of health, I finally went for a halfway decent weekend run. It was low intensity, but it was still extra running on great trails with great company.

I hooked up with Eric Lee, Kari Frasier, and Mike Poland from Boulder. Unfortunately, my camera was set to the wrong settings - I'm still clueless. It must've been trying to take "portraits". My Bear Peak summit shots were blurry, washed-out, and the Rocky Mountains blended into the clouds such that you couldn't see the peaks. I'm not sure why the pano turned out, but even that needed some retouch.

The free tools I use are Paint.NET and Autostitch.

I have Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2, but I hate it!! First, the install didn't go smoothly, and it kept wanting to go to the Internet. Second - and this one really sticks in my craw - advertisements pop up when I launch it. I paid for this app, and they have the nerve to spam me while using it! If it was freeware, I could understand that, but bought-and-paid? I also had to hack some garbage out of the Startup routines. I swear Corel is as bad as HP when it comes to crapifying your computer with startup shitlets, but at least HP's are easy to hack out. Corel has gone through great efforts to keep you from hacking them out. They want to take over your computer and remove any choice in having Corel contact and interrupt you at-will. I'll never buy Corel products again. Period.
I loved Paint Shop Pro, when it was owned by Jasc, but when Corel bought it, it got ruined by the marketing department and Corel management. I guess I'll just keep using my ancient version of Paint Shop Pro 5.
But honestly, Paint.NET does 95% of what I could ever want a graphics app to do, and it's totally free and totally supported with multiple updates a year, plus plugins.
Paint.NET runs on the Microsoft .NETFramework engine, so it doesn't come in a Mac or Linux flavor. That's the only downside. On the plus, it has a rotation function that is superior to any graphics app I've ever seen. I even have PhotoShop on one of my older machines, and it can't compare. For rotations, Paint.NET rules!

In order to get Autostitch to do what I want, I found I have to change two settings, Output Size and JPEG Quality, to 100%. This requires a lot of CPU speed and computer memory, but my computer is a beast, so no problem. If you use Autostitch, and have a slower machine, you can set these two settings a little lower and still get good results. It's better to leave photos at max resolution before stitching, even if it's slower. I prefer to crop lastly, because I often need to correct some tilt out of the pano, and zoom-crop. Reducing the image size to between 1-2MB is the last thing I do.

I haven't done a great many panos, so I only use this a few times a year. And when I get the hang of my new camera, I won't need it - my camera has a panorama function built-in. I just need to learn how to use it.

Half the time, though, all I want to do is paste a screen-capture, crop, and put red boxes around stuff to highlight. For that, my favorite is the ultra-simple MSPaint. I sometimes prefer there not to be any fancy features that slow the launch down. Using the keyboard and mouse, I can create entire images, with edits, in seconds. Any of the other apps mentioned would take 5x's longer.