Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Look Back at the Moscow World Championships

Kiprotich bringing the pain
Mad competition on the Moscow track last week. Some genius mind even developed a cellphone app so that nerds like me could follow the competition and real-time results during office coffee breaks or while traveling to a wedding in Telluride. Technology is something else.

You know what else is something else? Marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda who repeated his gold medal performance from London. Absolutely brilliant that the underdog of London who brought down all of team Kenya over the last 7km of the Olympic marathon, would return to Moscow only to dismantle all of team Ethiopa and one Kenyan challenger over the last 7km of the World Championships. That's the stuff of legend right there. I'd love to see him run New York. Team America was overmatched but ran bravely, running 13th, 27th, and 37th. The American women ran even better led by Olympic medalist Deena Kastor in 9th, teammates in 18th and 23rd.

Lap of honor for Mrs. Simpson (Go Buffs!)
We had solid performances in the distances but came up short for a podium spot. Galen Rupp ran to a 4th place in the 10,000m, Shalane Flanagan 8th in the women's final. Bernard Lagat ran to 6th in the 5,000m final, and we advanced all three of our 5,000m women's team into the final, led by Molly Huddle with finishes of 6th, 7th, and 12th. Evan Jager was a strong 5th in the Steeplechase one second off the medal hunt. It was the middle distances though where we finally broke through. A medal from each event - Nick Symmonds struck first with a silver in the 800m, followed by Jenny Simpson (Go Buffs!) with a silver in the 1500m, then Brenda Martinez with a bronze in the 800m, and finally Matt Centrowitz with silver in the 1500m. Simpson and Centrowitz were repeat medalists from the Deagu Championships in 2011. It's likely that Team USA even left two or three medals on the table with a few sub-par performances. Gonna be super strong over the next four years in Mid-D. Yay America, yay Rocky, yay stone-cold marathoners that run without fear.

Related Posts:
  - '12 Olympic Marathon Recap
  - '12 Olympic 1500m Recap
  - '12 US Indoor Track & Field Championships - Abq, NM

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Man's First Foray Into Cycling

Pistol Pete celebrated his first birthday earlier this month and one of his many gifts was a new bike helmet from mom and dad. Another was a sharp new bike-seat to cruise the bike paths and run errands with his father without the car or the jogging stroller. The seat clips on and off my different bikes. I can speak into his ear and point out dogs as we ride along, and I can hear him argle-bargle baby babble and ooh-and-aahhh as we pick up speed on the downhills. So awesome.

And now for some shameless pics of a ridiculously cute baby cyclist:

Peede and Dad rockin' the Acequia Trail

The helmet is an XS Giro model that we picked up at REI. The bike seat is an iBert safe-T seat, made and designed right here in the mountain west - Cody, WY.

View Acequia Trail - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map

Thursday, August 8, 2013

La Luz Trail Run Recap - 2013

Marvelous day on the trails of La Luz this Sunday. The big news was Houghton's win over Gutierrez, Simon's first ever loss on the course going back to the late 90's. Houghton had won the gap races over the last few years when Gutierrez didn't compete, then was beaten soundly in their first head-to-head battle last year. But he arrived fit and focused this year and brought the pain to the legendary climber.

The men's leaders (look closely) pass through the rock slide on their climb to the Crest
- photo courtesy of Jim Thompson and the Abq Journal
Hearing this, I envisioned a series of attacks between the two as they ascended the switchbacks, but talking with both runners at the top it sounded more as though constant pressure and pace eventually created a gap that Gutierrez couldn't quite close. Evidently Houghton got to the trailhead in front. Gutierrez then shadowed closely all the way up to the rock slides. By Gutierrez' admission, he felt he had a few missteps in the rock slides, a couple choppy foot placements, which allowed Houghton some separation. At one point Gutierrez felt he needed to cover the gap and position himself back on Kris' heels, but the move was too much, his system red-lined. The gap now closed, Gutierrez couldn't maintain contact and ultimately fell back to recover leaving an even greater separation that could not be regained.

Simon was gracious in defeat but clearly would've preferred the win. It shouldn't escape notice that he spots Houghton 15 years in age, 47 to 32. That's nearly as unbelievable as his streak of victories now come to an end. Houghton was ecstatic in victory. This his fourth La Luz win, he claims that he considers it his first since it is the only one with Simon in the field. Houghton, a 2:20 marathoner, trains with the Dukes Track Club who showed up en masse to sweep many of the top positions in the race including both men's and women's titles (Alexandra Darling topped the women's overall at 1hr58min). Their cheering section could be heard a mile below the Crest as each of their runners went through the finish.

Tony Sandoval at left, and Tom Kirchgessner at right
As for my own run, I started well and felt pretty solid on the road. My split at the trailhead was about 17min30sec. I can't remember if that's good but it slotted me in about 30th for the switchbacks. Miles 3 and 4 are steep, and I struggled to find a rhythm. The first ridgeline was passed in 40min, and the La Cueva Overlook at 60min. Up through the rock slide and in the higher elevations guys started to struggle and move backwards much faster than the pace of my own fade, and I made up several places. I got past four runners in the last stretch below the finish including one who I went by on the Stairs of Infinite Sadness. It made them less sad for me, but maybe more so for him. I was actually able to run the complete flight of stairs which may have been my race highpoint (other than chatting with Tony Sandoval). Counted each step as I went up, there are 37. Finish for me was 1hr45m37s, good for 24th place.

an interview with the two dueling champions - courtesy of R. Cuellar

Full race results can be found here
A terrific photo album by Jim Thompson of the Journal can be found here.

Related Posts:
  - La Luz Recap - 2014
  - La Luz Live Blog
  - La Luz Registration Window Opens

View La Luz Trail Run - Albuquerque, NM in a larger map

Friday, August 2, 2013

La Luz Trail Run - Live Blog

Stairs of infinite sadness
I'll be out chasing fools up the La Luz Trail this Sunday. Getting after it by God. This being the granddaddy of New Mexico trail racing, the one with the greatest prestige and the one that boasts the literal chronological history of New Mexico's greatest champions. Happy to be a part of it once again. My current fitness foreshadows little but pain and humility - but a bit of grit, a stubborn will, a forced cadence and a barrage of ascending profanity - and I'm sure to show that mountain what time it is.

So I'm trying something different here. I thought it would be bad-as-hell to post updates, photos, and results as the race unfolds, so I rigged the Twitter feed below to capture traffic tagged with #laluztrailrun. In theory it ought to capture others' race observations and posted images too, something new compared with the usual race report, results list, or comment section activity. Make this badboy come alive I say. If it fails to do what it's designed to or if you're out-of-pocket on Sunday morning, you ought to be able to follow race updates here.

Race day favorites? Simon Gutierrez is on the entrants' list and aiming for a 12th title (yes, it feels awesome just to write that). Three time champ Kris Houghton will challenge. Dark horses are Ryan Fenton and Dustin Martin. There is actually a third champion on the men's starting list: One Anthony Sandoval of Los Alamos. He'll be re-tracing his victory and then course-record from 41 years ago, because the guy is a badass. Between them, these three own 30% of all men's La Luz titles over the last 49 years. The women's field appears to be wide open this year with the absence of Rachael Cuellar and Erica Baron. I'll highlight Vegas' Katrin Silva and Abq's Jean Herbert since these two can flat out climb.

Hasta Domingo.

Gutierrez' comical results page over at ultrasignup

2013 La Luz Trail Run

Related Posts:
- La Luz Trail Recap - 2013
- La Luz Registration Window Opens
- 2011 La Luz Results

View La Luz Trail Run - Albuquerque, NM in a larger map

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Come Hell or High Water - Monsoon Season

Hail piled a foot high at the office
August is here and July is past. It will be remembered as a month that brought weather that was juuust a bit north of the cray-cray. I will recreate some of it here.

It begins with severe drought conditions and a near statewide closure of the National Forests, then swiftly proceeds to be one of the wettest months in years. Then armageddon paid a visit to Casa Dirt around mid-month, bringing 1.25+ inches of rain cascading down in a twenty minute period. Along with the downpour came a hard driving blast of blueberry-sized hail which shredded all plant life. Hail cover accumulated on the ground like super-mean-spirited-hostile-snow before the rains melted it down and washed it away. Unexpected would be a fine way to describe it.

End result:  Rain barrels filled-over with water sitting mere feet away from a garden now torn asunder. A whole fence line of grape vines (and grapes), no mas. An entire plot of happy green chile plants reduced to stems with roots. Now if that ain't a step-back kick in the junk. I didn't cry, but it did get me thinking about how other men sometimes sob and cry and carry-on and that all sunk my spirits some. Then I remembered that there was some cold IPA in the fridge and that was that and now here's August.

Front porch geranium took one for the team. Sorry bro.

The St Francis underpass did not fair well. Took a day to
drain and dry then a crew from the City came in and swept it clean.

High water mark from the tunnel flood reached just above the crossbar of my bike. That's no joke. 

And some downstream video of the biblical event:

The Arroyo Chamisos in flood mode - near Camino Carlos Rey

Related Posts:
  - Arroyo Chamiso Bike Underpass Nears Completion
  - More to Dirt than just Trails and Adventure

View Gail Ryba Trail - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map


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