Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Feet

Before the amazing people at Fleet Feet took the time to go over my running stride and figured out what type of shoe (and size...) was best for me, I was apparently running with a smaller size shoe.

Today, I only have 9 toe-nails, and one of them is black.  Not to worry, all ten usually make a comeback by November/December and they all look normal before changing colors again as the season kicks off.  I'm hoping this won't happen with the new shoes since now I'm wearing the right size.

Although after I saw this picture today... seems like I'm not the only one with this problem.  :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Please oh please don't call me crazy.  Well, maybe a little.  Since finishing Ironman (I know... my life DOES revolve around Ironman, oops), I knew I had had it for a little while.  I proved myself I could do better if I tried harder and trained properly.  I have broken all my personal records in all races this year which can't get any better than that. I do feel on top of the world...

Yes... I WILL re-use this picture. Over and over again. 
So, while standing on top of the world, I ask myself... what's next?  I have said before I wanted to focus on my running and I have been running more.  I like me as a runner, I like my body as a runner, I like my smile as a runner and well, I grew up following my dad's steps as a runner.  He never took that extra step to run a marathon, but was consistent and ran a few half marathons.  For a while there, I thought I'd be the only one in the family that'd keep up with his running and while he doesn't run as much anymore, one of my little brothers is becoming quite the runner.

He's completed a couple half marathons and will be joining me in September to run his first marathon.  We will be running Denver Marathon which is one of my all-time favorite races, not only because it's the local one, but it's the people, the course, the live music, the views. It's pretty awesome.  This will be my 8th marathon... although if you REALLY think about it, I have ran 7 marathons plus 2 marathon distances with Ironman.  So in reality, it will be my 10th marathon distance run.  Exciting.

For some reason, the marathon distance run doesn't seem too daunting.  Maybe because my last marathon, the Ironman one, was nicely broken into 6.55 mile splits. Four 6.55 mile splits seem so doable so I'm up for a bigger challenge nowadays... Since a few months ago I said I'd be looking into running an ultra-marathon again soon.  An ultra marathon is a running event that involves running more than the traditional marathon length of 26.2 miles.  The most common distances are 50 km, 100 km, 50 miles and 100 miles although many events are a variation of these distances.  Most ultras are trail runs with severe obstacles, such as inclement weather, elevation change, or rugged terrain.  Also, aid stations are a little more stocked than a regular marathon, but they are usually 20 - 35km (13-18 miles) apart so it's mostly a self-sustained event.

In February of 2010, I ran my first ultra-marathon.  The distance was 55k (or 34 miles).  It was pretty epic... I got to explore Moab, Utah a little more and the trails they have to offer.  The views were quite amazing although we had to run through snow that melted halfway through the race and ended up being a crazy mud-fest.

Roughly 10 miles into the Moab Red Hot 55k

Not really knowing what I was getting myself into, I didn't consume enough food, water, salt, etc.  Let's say I didn't feel great by the time I finished, but with time, I've learned (through my mistakes) what's an endurance athlete to do.  I feel like I'm in pretty good shape and I'm ready to give ultra running a second shot, in the end, I'd like to eventually work my way up to run a 100 miler.  Whoa, did those words just come out of my mouth?  Well, yeah... I'd eventually like to do that, but not too soon.

I've decided to sign up for a beginner-type ultra-marathon.  Is there such a thing?  Since I live in Colorado and there's a lot of VERY athletic people out there, there are races for all types of athletes.  I will be signing up to run the Bear Chase Trail Race which is a 50 mile, 50K, Half Marathon and 10K.  I will be doing the 50K.  What's beginner about that?  Well, the starting elevation is roughly 5500ft and the total elevation gain over 50K is 1900ft... which makes it WAY easier than most ultras out there.  Also, there are 9 aid stations along the course which means there's one every 3 to 4 miles.  And while it is a challenging run with it being a trail run, the course is fairly fast (for ultra standards) and not overly technical.

So if you are wondering what I'm up to on September 30th, feel free to swing by Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood, CO.  I'll be getting some miles in...

"Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible." -Escher

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


The benefits of signing up for an early season Ironman are endless, but the most important one to me is the fact that when Summer rolls by, the only thing I see on my schedule is: PLAYTIME.  Well, not really, but it sorta translates to that.  

This past weekend, we decided to head up to the mountains since we had family coming from out of town to the 16th Annual Colorado Brewers Rendezvous in Salida, CO.  Simply said: a beer fest.  Given our very adventurous nature, we couldn't just drive to drink beer so we needed to spice up our weekend just a tad.  

Salida Beer Fest...

Our adventure of choice: Summit two 14,000ft mountains
Our challenge of choice: Treat is as a trail run.  Travel fast, travel light. 

We left Boulder close to 8pm on Friday night after the Boulder Tri Club Happy Hour.  Got to the trailhead at 11pm, set camp and went straight to bed.  The next morning we woke up at 5:15am, had some breakfast (Krispy Kreme deliciousness), got ready and hit the trail at 6am.  

For some reason, I felt pretty excited about the idea of running up a mountain.  The first half a mile was amazing, a packed trail and not too rocky, pretty easy to run on, but it quickly got rocky... 

Rocky trail... 

We still jogged quite a bit and started passing many groups that had started before us.  I had never really been the fast one on the mountain so it felt pretty cool.  I was getting pumped.  We hit the treeline fairly fast where roughly 5 different groups were taking a break.  Chuck even asked a lady at what time they had started and she said: "a little before 5:00".  Whoa.  We had gained a little over an hour on them.  Well, I guess they were going REALLY slow anyway.  

Starting to get some EPIC views right above treeline... and hoping the weather holds. 

As we started heading up from treeline, you could see the trail all the way to the saddle between a high 13,000+ ft. mountain and Mt. Shavano... it ran along the southeast slope of Mt. Shavano and it just looked fun to run on.  It was still a little rocky in a few spots so we just had to be careful, but we stuck to the run/walk strategy that has worked for me in the past for long trail runs.  

The clouds were parting as we were reaching the saddle... 

We reached the saddle after a last steep section where we passed a couple more groups.  From there, you could see the summit of Mt. Shavano.  We jogged to the base of the summit from where we had to walk up since it got a little steeper and maybe a little more technical although it was not too hard.  At 8:20am we reached the summit of Mt. Shavano. My tenth 14er.  

#10 - Summit of Mt. Shavano - 14,229ft. 

We took a short break and kept going.  My fingers were SO swollen and I was feeling like my balance was a little off.  It may have been because we went up a little too fast, but I didn't have a headache or felt disoriented at all, so we kept going.  To get to Mt. Tabeguache you need to descend from the summit of Shavano roughly 1000ft and then go back up.  I was careful coming down but managed to go up fairly fast.  We reached the summit of Mt. Tabeguache in 50 minutes.  

Chuck, Levi and myself at the summit of Mt. Tabeguache with Mt. Shavano in the background. 
#11 - Summit of Mt. Tabeguache - 14,155ft (Although it was not July 4)

It took us 39 minutes to return to the summit of Mt. Shavano.  where now LOTS of people were sitting at.  Some people had planned on continuing on to Tab while some others called it a day and turned back from there... which is a bummer, mostly cause you have to summit Shavano to get to Tab, so if you are there, you may as well.  But maybe smart on a day like this, since the clouds were moving fast and some gnarly looking clouds were shaping up. 

Chuck and I started heading down the mountain fast... and to our surprise, MANY people were still coming up. Once we got back on the trail on the saddle we started running and didn't look back.  I found myself blasting music on my iPod, running as fast as I could, and smiling... I could actually see how my smile was contagious since people were smiling as they saw me coming down.  That was SUPER fun.  

We hit the treeline and we started seeing flashes in the sky and hearing LOUD thunder.  We were glad we were in a "safe" area, but worried about those still up on the ridge.  Mostly those still working on going up.  Below treeline, we picked it up and were flying down the mountain.  Still, so so fun.  We were back at the car by 11:45am and were ready to go get some beer. 

Having fun running down the hill!  :) 

We started drinking beer shortly after 1pm only to realize that I don't LOVE beer.  Honestly, I'd rather have some wine or something else.  I got to try a few DELICIOUS sour beers which were BY FAR my favorites.  The brewery is called Three Barrel Brewing Co. located in Del Norte, CO.  A place I didn't even know existed, but apparently it's a town somewhere along highway 160 on the way to the Continental Divide, Wolf Creek Pass, Pagosa Springs and Durango.  It is one of Colorado's smallest microbreweries.  

The Cirtus sour beer they have is AMAZING! 

On Sunday, we went to Methodist Mountain just a few blocks away from downtown Salida and hit some AMAZING trails on our mountain bikes.  My legs were obviously trashed from the previous day's run down the mountain, but they held their ground and had me feeling fairly confident the second part of the ride although today, two days later... I'm still as sore as I could get.  Still, I wish I could re-do this weekend since it was pretty epic.  That is... without mentioning that it was our (Chuck and I) third year anniversary.  Whoa. Time does fly.  

Kevin, Chuck and I at Methodist Mointain in Salida, CO

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Partly cloudy, hot and humid...

The weather today called for a nice day today.  Scattered clouds and warm but heavier rain in the afternoon into the night.  I decided to sleep in for the first time in 6 months.  Boy, it felt good.  I had a late breakfast and cleaned around the house.  Early in the afternoon, roughly around 2pm, I finally decided to get ready and head out for a run.

This would be my second run after my Ironman and I felt pretty good.  Not only that, but I had a brand new pair of shiny running shoes that I needed to try out.  I went for a long walk with Levi before I went out only to realize it felt humid.  YUCK.  I HATE humidity.

Regardless of the wet soil along my run from last night's downpour, I had a pretty decent run and would smile every time I'd look down to my feet to see incredibly bright shoes.  I left my house in Louisville and ran East along the path.  Turned around at 2 miles and came back home for a total of 4 miles.  My average pace was 9:09 min/mile with my second mile being the fastest at 8:50 min/mile.  The first and third were around the 9 minute mark and the last was a little slower at 9:20 min/mile.

I enjoyed my run, and most of all I enjoyed running with no pain and with my new shoes.  After today, I believe these are the right choice.  I am happy that I went back and asked for a different pair than the Nike Structures.  Off to bed for now.  Happy running.

After our first run together. 

Gotta love Garmin

Found this today.  I'm sorry, but this is just too funny not to post.

Which reminds me... You should watch this video if you wanna understand what I'm into: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KTEgLKhjIw

Friday, July 6, 2012

Always wear expensive shoes. People notice.

Women's favorite topic: Shoes.  This may not be the typical shoe post, but I'd definitely like to talk about my shoes. It all started on June 23rd sometime in the morning, when as I was packing my gear bag for Ironman, I realized I didn't have an extra pair of shoes to wear after I dropped off my running shoes at transition.  I stopped by Fleet Feet and bought an extra pair of running shoes because my shoes that I was using then had well over 300 miles on them.  It was time for new shiny shoes.

While for some buying a new pair of shoes is easy, not so much for others... I've been running with the Nike Air Citius+ for a while and it's now gone.  Nike no longer makes this shoe, and my world came crashing down.  This is the ONLY shoe that I've found that doesn't give me blisters and doesn't kill my foot after long runs.  I don't get injured and overall it's a super comfortable shoe.  I've experimented some overtime, but always kept coming back to the good ole' Citius.

Here's a little piece of my life as told by my running shoes:

The Adidas TR9 was my first "serious" shoe and while it is a trail running shoe, I was convinced it was the best for me to run on the dirt path where I used to run in circles when I lived in Mexico City.  It was a 1.5 mile loop (roughly) and I used to run around it many times per workout.  Until this day, I have these shoes, since they were my "engine" as I toed to the start line of my first long distance organized event: a 10K.

The TR9s. Today, they make for really comfy slippers. 
After the Adidas, which probably ran a few hundred miles more than they were supposed to, I made the transition to Nike in 2005 and I never looked back.  I did have a pair that lasted very little since they were uncomfortable and ugly-looking.  I trained quite a bit on those, but tossed them right after my first race on 'em.  Didn't feel attached to them at all (weird, since they were my first Nike shoes), but I found the shoe that would change my life: the Nike Air Citius+.   I used a couple pairs of Citius before I became overly attached and wasn't able to toss them after their life-span and decided to keep them.

My first pair of "important" Citius
I ran quite a few races with these starting with my first triathlon although I didn't do the full distance, I did it as a relay and I was the runner. It was the 5430 Boulder Long Course before it was bought by Ironman. Also, they ran my first full Marathon with me: the Boulder Backroads Marathon in 2009. Not only that, but I ran my FIRST Denver Marathon (first of many), as well as the San Antonio Marathon.  I was incredibly attached to the shoe and still ran my first ultra-marathon with these.  Shortly thereafter, the shoes came back to the Boulder Marathon course to run the Spring Half Marathon and after it, they made the Big Sur Marathon after which, I decided it was a good time to retire.  Actually, their retirement was long due...

Boulder Marathon, Denver Marathon and San Antonio Marathon
Surviving the ULTRA

After a few pairs of the Citius, I decided to experiment and bought the Nike+ Lunarlite. Their debut was during my very own debut as a triathlete where I participated in all three legs (as opposed to a relay).  They were OK. They didn't drive me crazy, but they held their own.

Nike+ Lunarlite

We did countless training runs together and we also ran San Diego Marathon.  They retired early since I was not fully comfortable with them.  This is when I was talked into running with the Nike+ Pegasus (by experts of course).  I thought it'd be happy times, but I was mistaken.  We did the full Boulder Triathlon Series together.  Boulder Sprint, Boulder Peak and Boulder 70.3.  I was still not comfortable.

The Nike+ Pegasus

This is when I decided to go back to the Citius and I felt like a runner once again.  I ran my first race in Mexico since I became a "serious" athlete and although they gave me THE WORST blisters I've gotten in my whole life, I felt comfortable running again (note the blisters were because IT POURED during my bike ride and had to run with soaking wet shoes).  I was glad that even after a little while of not using the Citius, they hadn't changed a bit.

More Citius...

Running Ironman Cancun 70.3

Shortly after this, I completed yet another Denver Marathon in October of 2010 with these shoes on tired legs, but my feet felt happy.  It was time to rest before starting Ironman training.  While I should've known better and should've gotten a new pair of Citius to start my Ironman training, I started training with these old ones (which I think had a little too many miles already) and easily got talked into getting the Nike Frees.  I immediately started using them, and loved them.  Tried to ignore the tired feet after long runs and even the blisters.  Started running FAST races, which I entirely gave credit to the shoes.  WHO DOES THAT?

My Nike Frees

I ran the Boulder Spring Half and I PR'd.  I ran the Platte River Half Marathon and I PR'd. I then ran the Vail Pass Half Marathon and while I didn't PR (mostly cause it's all uphill), I still kicked butt.  Not only that... I ran the marathon of my Ironman with the Frees.  Result: BLISTERS.  I walked A LOT of that marathon because my feet were absolutely KILLING ME.

Note the shoes... 

Before the start of my "off-season", I pulled out the Citius once more to race in the Montana XTerra (which I placed 2nd in my age group) and to run the Denver Marathon.. yep, you guessed it, AGAIN.  Even though the Citius were old, I would never, even if someone paid me, run a marathon distance in the Frees.

Come January and with the start of Ironman training again, I bought my last pair of Citius.  The design had changed and I was now purchasing the Nike Air Citius +4. I guess I went WAY too long without purchasing this model, since I skipped #3.

The Citius 4. 

While they looked different, they were still the same shoe. I fell in love all over again. I continued the previous year's streak of PR'ing.  I raced in Ironman Oceanside 70.3 and PR'd not only my overall time, but my run as well, running a VERY respectable half marathon.  I ran the Platte River Half and PR'd AGAIN. I was feeling strong.  I learned my lesson and didn't switch my shoe over six months... AT ALL. And kept a log of miles I've run with these to promptly retire them as soon as needed. I, of course, completed my second Ironman wearing them and my feet felt WAY happier... there was barely ANY walking, and it was definitely not because of feet pain.  I also PR'd my Ironman running a marathon 47 minutes faster than the previous year.

Retiring the Citius like a true Champ... 

Now, going back to the beginning of this post, I said I had to make a pit stop at Fleet Feet in Coeur D'Alene to buy a new pair of shoes.  While I was aware at this point that Nike was no longer making the Citius, I was sorta open to new options (kinda had to), and they put me in the Nike Structure Triax+.  Not only that, but they suggested I wear a size 8.  Just FYI, all the shoes I've mentioned above were a 7.5. WOW... how am I supposed to run on a half a size bigger shoe?  Well, I did my first post-Ironman run on Tuesday, starting with an easy 3-miler only to find out that these shoes felt way too big.  

Nike Structure Triax+

I paid Fleet Feet yet another visit and after a more thorough analysis, I should indeed be wearing a bigger shoe. Not only an 8, but an 8.5.  Ok, this is outrageous... have I been running with a full size smaller shoe?  Well, apparently, but also, the structure is apparently too sturdy for me, I need a more neutral shoe. So here we go, let's try a few more shoes.  The "experts" again suggest the Pegasus.  I'm hesitant.  I finally give in and say: "Should I be looking at different brands?" They pulled out the Asics.  I try the Gel-Nimbus on and I like it.  It feels good.  I am not wearing a size 8.5, but I will try the 8... all tests pointed at a size 8 AT LEAST.  I SHOULD NOT be wearing the 7.5... that's why I lose toenails. So here's the new kicks:

My first pair of Asics

I have a few races still in the calendar this year and I know the last thing I want to struggle with is shoes.  So maybe, with letting go of Nike altogether, I will be able to move on from the Citius and try some different technologies.  After all, so many of my runner friends do run with Asics, and they absolutely LOVE them.  So Asics: get ready to kick some ass... we got tons of miles ahead of us.

PS- Yes, I still have all the shoes in these pictures.  They are really special to me and I have trouble letting go. 


VERB: Indulge in enjoyable recollection of past events.

Life can't get any better than THIS

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

180 days, 14 weeks, 6 months

It's finally July and Ironman training is only a memory.  It started on Monday, January 2nd, 2012 with a 2000m swim and it finished with a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run.  And June, the last month of training before the big day, was one of the hardest ones to get through.

I gave up alcohol on May 23rd and promised myself I wouldn't drink at all through June 24th at the Finish Line or Ironman.  I stuck to my rule and didn't have a sip of anything that had any alcohol.  I feel proud of myself because we definitely had some great BBQ's and trips where I would've loved a beer.

My main goal for June was to stay focused since the previous year I struggled with sticking to some workouts.  I managed it well and while I still skipped just a couple of workouts, I managed to do 90% of them.

My emotions were all over the place... I got mad at everyone and loved everyone as well.  I yelled at some people and laughed with others.  Man, this is ALWAYS a challenge.  Regardless, I was content with my training and kept my confidence until I walked up to that start line.

June's numbers:
Weight: While I was happy with the 134lbs, my goal for race day was 132lbs.  The morning of June 24th, I stepped on that scale to see an amazing 132.0lbs.  For the first time in almost a year, I was back to my happy place.
Swim: I swam 11.3km which is the most I've swam in one months ever.  Pretty lame, I KNOW, but I always tend to underestimate the swim which I promised I wouldn't do this year.  My swims were never SUPER long, but I kept swimming consistently, which I'm proud of.  Maybe helped kill 9 minutes off my last year's time.
Bike: I kept cycling consistently although my workouts were supposed to be shorter than previous months, so my mileage wasn't as crazy as previous months, but I still pedaled for 285 miles.
Run: Well, that's a whole different story.  While this time last year I felt so sluggish when running, this year I felt strong and completed an amazing 74.25 miles over the course of the month with my last 4.5 mile run being one of my fastest runs in the past couple of years.

And now what?  Well, I have a few other events coming up, so I will keep training and trying to stay on target with my weight goals.  July is definitely a "rest" month with no races on my schedule, but I have the Boulder Half Ironman in August, the Colorado Relay early September, Denver Marathon late September and San Francisco Marathon in October.  Gotta focus more on running starting the second week of August, and I am SO looking forward to it.  Going back to my years of just running.  Life was good (and certainly cheaper).

I leave you with a quick stat: Of the 180 Ironman training days, I worked out 144 days.  Between sick days, sluggish days and just play time, I guess I missed a full month of training... I wonder what I'd be capable of if I trained 180/180 days.  

Happy running.  ;)