Saturday, January 22, 2011

Race-to-Driving Calculator

In light of the 2000-mile-plus distances I accumulated in the Calico 50K drive, I decided to set a formula to calculate whether or not a race is worth the expenditure. Alene N has been using a formula for years. I can't remember what her's is, but it's probably like mine.

I figure divide the driving distance (one-way) by 10, and the race distance better be equal or greater. So for a 50K distance, I better not drive more than 310 miles.
The Red Hot 55K is coming up. I'm allowed to drive 341 miles. It very barely qualifies, since the race is north of Moab and I sleep in my vehicle 1/2 mile from the start area.
The Goblin Valley 50K is too far.
Jemez Mtn 50M is well within the limit. So is the San Juan Solstice 50M.
The Silent Trails 10M race near Laramie is well beyond the limit, but 140 miles is close enough, and I hardly ever see my northern friends, and so I made a judgment-call to go beyond the rule. Since I camp and hike additionally, not to mention 1-3 miles of warm-up before the race, I actually get more than 10 miles of travel out of the weekend.

This formula has a lot to do with arguing when people insist on doing races well beyond these limits. So here's the deal...
For a 50K, I'm willing to drive 310 miles for myself, and I will pay for that much gas. If one person carpools with me, I'm willing to go 620 miles, and pay for half. And for three people, 930 miles, but still only pay for 310.
So this 2000+ mile trip to Calico, with an added excursion to Ely, NV won't be happening again, not even with four people in the car. It's just not worth it, no matter how great the race was.
If they start doing a Calico 50-miler, and I get three passengers, then it would be worth driving that far.
The Bandera 100K is 903 miles away, so I will have to have someone to carpool with to make it worth it again.

Flying is out-of-the-question, since there's no such thing as splitting the cost of one ticket, or taking turns getting frisked by TSA. Although everyone on a plane is plane-pooling together, in a sense, planes are horrendously expensive and burn so many thousands of gallons of fuel that even after factoring in per-passenger, each passenger is causing the burning of a LOT of fuel.

Yes, in spite of leaning right politically, I am a bit of an environmentalist. I've been surprised by how many ultra-runners will run through pristine wilderness, appreciating it, and complaining about wear-and-tear, litter, etc., but they think nothing of burning horrendous quantities of fuel annually driving hither-and-yon to all our races.
There's another aspect too... gluttonous cost. Sure I can "afford it", but to me there's more to the equation than pure availability of cash. There's a certain amount of, "Should I be expending quite this much on my hobbies?" It's not like my passion is working to cure cancer, or bringing about world peace. I just like to run a long way, and races allow a support system for my long runs. So the money spent on races and traveling is pretty much purely selfish. I'm not Ghandi - I will allow myself the luxury of running races, but not without limits.
To a certain extent, I have to run. Keeping your life in order is too often not a matter of being perfect. We all have flaws, and I think ultra-runners might be the extremists they are because they are "odd". Being successful - not a train-wreck - is a matter of managing your tendencies. I manage my tendencies by redirecting all my unhealthy energies into running. Since I have a lot of unhealthy tendencies, and even quite a lot of unrequited healthy ones, I redirect all this energy down the ultra-rathole, instead of becoming a bitter alcoholic, or drug addict, or anything else.
Management requires rules and limits. Even with good things, nothing is healthy without limits. (Boy am I gonna get flamed for this!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Calico 50K

I had my arm twisted a bit to run this one. It's too far away, but it was still a good time.

I carpooled with Dave Black and his son. We slept on the ground - never once getting a motel.

First night was near Ely, Nevada, at a friend's place in the mountains. We spent the night in a shed at around 7000+ feet. It was 30F at that altitude, but only 17F miles away in any valley, so we lucked-out.

The next day was spent driving south, stopping in Pioche for lunch. I've never heard of Pioche, but it is a very cool little dot of a mining town.

We arrived in Calico at dinner time. The pasta dinner was very good - not the usual cheap pasta but some hardy gourmet stuff.

I never thought of California as a friendly place, but we were all surprised at how incredibly nice everyone was. not just the other runners, but Calico Ghost town employees, rangers, sheriffs, volunteers, etc.

I didn't race with my camera. For one thing, the vast majority of the terrain was very repetitive desert lifeless distant hills and creosote. The rugged parts were very rugged, but most of the race course is very runnable dirt and sand 4x4 roads.

We couldn't have asked for better weather. It was 47F when we woke up and probably 50F at race start. I was wearing a short-sleeve shirt, shorts, and a cap. No fleece, layers, or gloves! I also wore my Mizuno race flats. This ended up being a very wise decision. I didn't need better protection, since most of the course is sand. The small amounts of rock were very rough, and often scary-steep, but these shoes kept me nimble. By the time I reached 30M, my legs were fresh and I was sprinting full-speed towards town.

Joe Black got 2nd in his age group in the 30K, and an award! His coach is Jamie Donaldson. Not a bad deal!

I came in 20th overall in the 50K. Here's where I'm extremely confused...
They had the awards, and they completely skipped the 50-59 age-group. The guy in my age group who won asked and got his award. I simply looked at the board and it appeared I was clearly 4th. But the posted stats on the Internet today say I was 2nd male 50-59. So I guess they screwed-up the awards presentation and I have an award in California. Would have been nice to receive, since I was standing right there, but at least I had a great time and took that home with me.

On the way home, the good weather finally came to an end - We barely made it over Vail Pass before they closed it, and spent hours in a traffic jam creeping up to Eisenhower Tunnel. It took 4 hours to drive what is normally 50 minutes. But at least we made it home alive.

Calico Ghost town, in spite of being an incorrigible tourist-trap, is a fun place. I wish I had been given the time to explore it.

If I lived in California, I'd definitely run this every year. The race was fantastic, and again, I wish I could run it again, but it is just too far away to justify spending that much gas driving to and from. The Bandera 100K in Texas is slightly closer, and twice as long of a race, and just as well supported, so it's a better value. But Bandera is too far also! I'm glad for the experiences at Calico, though, and the great people I met before, during, and after the race. Maybe if I can go in the future, and spend time there, with my son and others, then it would be worth it. I can only hope. Maybe when I get older, I'll move around, like a transient, living a different place for a year at a time?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hardwater Snowshoe Race 2011

I think wearing feathers is cheating. It's an unfair advantage. But I found a feather on the ground and stuck it in my cap. So there!

Started with my fleece vest on and expected to have to take it off a quarter mile into the race, but the race start coincided with a cold-front and precisely matched my warm-up. So I was perfectly comfortable the whole race.

I fell down multiple times, but no injuries.

Minimal ice build-up. My duct-tape repairs totally failed. Lucky my shoes didn't disintegrate.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Leadville New Years 2010/2011

Cross country skiing on the Mineral Belt and the Leadville railroad

East of Leadville

Mt of the Holy Cross