Black Toes

Trail running, running, and hiking in Colorado's Front Range.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I'm virtrually moving

Well, after some deliberation, I've decided to leave blogger for another host. My blog is called Front Range Runner, and the toe-freaks can't get hits to my blog now...

Here's the new link:

If you subscribe, please change your feed accordingly!

Hope to see you over at typepad!

quickie post

Ran 5 mi today. Did 8:44/mi. Sort of windy.

more tomorrow..

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Slack ass..

With respect to running, that is. Today was crazy - I wrote a visualization program to do some analysis of my weather output, went to another on-site job interview (for a defense job in Boulder), and then followed that all up with a 2.5 hour meeting with my advisors at NCAR where I presented my results after getting them finished 15 minutes before my interview. After all that, I didn't have the energy or the time to go for a tempo run. That, and my son has been a real handful lately.

Luckily I can work from home tomorrow, so I'll be able to head out for a run - maybe even a trail run.

I figure it wouldn't kill me to miss a day and I could help my wife out since she wasn't feeling good and had a hyper infant on her hands all day. On the job front, hopefully I'll hear back next week. I'm really hoping for one company in particular, but if we can stay in Denver, I'll be pretty happy. It looks like the salaries will be all the same, too - which makes my decision easier. The last interview is next week in New Orleans with Shell Oil's Exploration and Production division. Looks like that BS in Engineering Physics is paying off finally...

on the road again

Monday was a day off for running - which was pretty handy because I had an interview most of the day. Yesterday was my 6 mile run, and it was gorgeous outside - mid 40's, sunny, and pretty dry outside save a couple of ice patches and puddles. I did a flatter course - out to Golden High School and the Juvinile Detention center (we have the county jail, an minimum security prison, and a juvi center all about 2 miles from each other). There was a slight headwind combined with a small grade on the way out, but nothing too bad. The turn around was nice because of the descent and tailwind. All in all - 6 miles at 8:35/mi. I'm pretty pleased with that, and I felt good - not out of breath or sore. In fact, the only thing that felt wierd was my leg turnover. I've been trying to get a faster cadence going when I run and minimizing my vertical bounce. Other than that, my cardiovascular system felt great.

Run summary:
distance: 6 miles
pace: 8:35 min/mi
time: 51:30 minutes
shoes: Asics Gel Evolution 4E (so I can remember to cycle it out!)

Today is a tempo run at the track: 45 minutes at 7:40 min/mi. We'll see how that goes...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A question to the RBF about treadmills

Recently my wife informed me that she wanted to get me a treadmill when I got a real job (not being a grad student!). Since they're not cheap, I figure I should start researching them now. I've been looking at many of the websites and reading some stuff in Consumer Reports, but I know some of you in the RBF have treadmills and I was wondering if you had any advice? So far I've seen that you should get one with a longer base and a good motor (~3 HP). Many of the other ones I've seen have the HR feature that I see Marisa write about. The HR feature looks like a great tool, and I think I would like to get one that has that.

So, any advice, words of warning, etc? I have about two months before I'll start work, so I figure that's plenty of time to start looking around.

I'm thinking it'll be a good tool for me because:

* we have a baby that needs watching (and we want more kids, too).

* I HATE going to gyms to run because of the 20-30 minute rule

* I really want to start training for ultra distance events (50 km - 50 mile - 100 km events) and this is one of the only ways I can feasibly train for long distances and still be a good husband/dad.

If I get one, I'm totally putting it in front of the TV so I can watch movies + cartoons while I run. No more looking at a mirror or having to look at everyone else work out.


Monday, March 14, 2005

sorry for being a slacker but..

I've been pretty busy with the whole find a job thing and getting my last experiments running.

I had an interview for a big ol' defense contractor here in Denver. I'm really hoping and praying that I get this one because it would be a really cool job and I wouldn't have to move away from here. I absolutely love Colorado- so much to do!

Anyway, I went for my 10 miler yesterday and had a blast. The first five miles were the slower ones, as there was plenty of hill work do be done - a fact of life of living where I do. The good thing was that although I was almost always on some incline for the first couple of miles, I managed to average 9:05/mi for the first half. If I can swing that for my half next month - I'll be under 4:00!! And I know for a fact the upcoming race is pretty flat with a net descent of 120' over 13 miles.
The next 5 miles were significantly faster - in the mid 8/mi range. This was because I was running on flats for most of it (the descent was short). All in all I felt as if I could have kept going, but I felt as if the 10 miles would never end. Our awesome weather of Saturday came to an abrupt end as a big continental polar air mass crashed into the mountains from the north east. When that happens the cold air sort of sloshes up against the Rockies and gives us up-slope snow and generally cold temperatures. We have a couple inches of snow outside, but my run was pretty pleasant. It was one second off from last week's long run, but I think the hills were harder than the headwinds last week.

One thing I've been amazed with this week is Coach Benson's pace charts from the latest Running Times. My intervals were off by ~ 5 seconds / 400 meters, and my long run (which was supposed to be at 60-75% PE) were pretty much dead on (between 9:41/mi and 8:17 mi). I was nearly right on the center at 8:53/mi.

Slaker-ella, I mean my wife went for her run yesterday, but has yet to update her blog about it... She did pretty well, and ran on an indoor track since she's not all about bundling up and running in the cold. I really get a kick out of it. Probably why I really like XC skiing, too. As if yesterday weren't cool enough - my wife found the latest issue of Marathon and Beyond magazine at B&N yesterday before we went to Mass. It has a great article about balancing life, career, family & distance training AND it's funny, too! Plus, on the way home from Mass, John didn't even so much as cry a peep. He just slept all the way home (which is a first in the last couple of months). All his baby clothes now smell of incense, though.

Today was my off day - I went to my interview all day and played with the baby. Since he's a tiny giant at 24 lbs. I count playing with him as weight training. He's toned my arms pretty well in the last couple of months (really!). I took her down to Littleton to get her some quilt supplies. There's an awesome running store in Littleton (the Boulder Running Company), and I found some trail running shorts 40% off! They'll come in handy as soon as the weather goes back to sunny and warm.

Tomorrow - I don't know what I have to do, but I do know I have to run. Should be fun. I'll get some work done since I have two more interviews coming up, too. And I'll have to finish the second DVD of the first season of the Kids in the Hall. Brynne also informed me that when I get a job she'll get me a treadmill! Rock! I'm so stoked! I can run & spend time with the family. I'll be able to bang out runs to Family Guy, Futurama, KITH, Simpsons, etc.

Congratulations to Jon on his race this weekend, and good luck to Jank on his tri training. Best of luck to all y'all in your training endeavors this week!

Run summary:
10 miles
8:53 min/mi

Saturday, March 12, 2005


I went for a morning group run at the local running store. It was pretty fun, but few people showed up because there is a largish race going on here in Denver. We ended up doing about 3.3 miles at 9:41/mi, which was fine, because it was super easy! After that, my wife and I walked around downtown Golden running errands and having fun. We're about to have a massive cold front pass through, so there was some fantastic lenticular cloud formations being caused by the mountains.

Here's one caused by Lookout Mountain & Mt. Zion:

Here's another one caused by some of the foothills between here and Boulder.

After out five miles of walking (the baby slept through most of the afternoon), we went down to hang out with some friends of mine from college. It was a nice relaxing day and I'm feeling pretty good for my 10 miler tomorrow morning. I wonder just how much snow we're going to get (we're forecasted to get 3-6 inches tonight). Funny that it was in the 60's this afternoon. Gotta love frontal passage.

Friday, March 11, 2005


Here's some pics from today's trail run at Betasso Preserve:

Some broken farm equipment from earlier this century - at the trailhead:

Some conifers at the trailhead, looking west towards Nederland:

Looking north towards the Lyons formation. This is the direction that the loop is:

Here's a picture of a tired me after the run. Ok, not really tired, just sweaty from wearing too much Coolmax:

And finally, a beautiful mountain wave that I caught coming out of work this evening:

Tonight was great - the family went down to the local NY style pizza place here in downtown Golden. It's pretty good - and quite busy on a friday night with Mines students (where I went to college) and locals. Pizza is really my weakness. At least it doesn't take time off your life like cigarettes. Pizza is one of the main reasons I run (that, and it's fun).

Springtime in the Rockies!

It's days like today that make me want to never leave the Front Range. It's in the mid sixties today with calm winds. I took advantange of the the fact that:

a) I'm a graduate student - and can take time out during the day (because I work until 2 am most days)

b) It's freaking beautiful outside!


c) one of the RAID drives is acting wack

and decided to go running at Betasso Preserve over lunch. I wore my longsleve running shirt, but I seriously considered taking it off at some points on the run and shocking the poor old couple on the trail with my frightful cyclist tan. I didn't.

The trail was sloppy in parts, but all in all, quite dry and packed down. It's a nice little climb (~300-400 ft vertical) and 3.2 miles around. I don't know how long it took me, because my Forerunner ate all its batteries after 1 mile, but that's probably all the better. Sometimes it's fun just to go out and run - nothing but shoes and clothes.

Anyway, it was wonderful - there was almost no-one else up there, and the skies were blue and pristine. A great lunchtime trail/altitude work-out (it's at ~7000 ft ASL).

I took some pictures, but I don't have access to a USB port right now since my laptop is down and my camera is still in my backpack. I'll post them later tonight. I did get to see some nifty mountain lion paw prints on some of the muddier parts of the trail. Those things ar enormous!

Yesterday I took the day off from running. Didn't sleep well the night before and my knee was bothering me. I think it was just a slightly tight IT band - I did 2 minutes on the roller and all was well with my legs. Tomorrow is the group run with the Lakewood Runner's Roost group. It'll be a good 4 miles - and since it's a social group it'll keep my pace down. I want to keep it slow so I can do well on my 10 miler this Sunday.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Pretty toes, pretty black toes, pretty toes to eat = porn?

I took a look at the referals to this blog. I had high hopes that most of my links were due to

a) The St. Blogs parish (a grouping of Catholic blogs)


b) other running blogs in the RBF...

I was so wrong. Apparently, it seems that many of my hits are due to people looking for pretty toes, pretty black toes, or pretty toes to eat.

If you're looking for toe porn or pictures of toes, you've come to the wrong place. Maybe I'll post a picture of my black toe, though. Half of the nail just fell off. And I'd hate for all you pretty/black/pretty black toe searchers to come away empty handed (so to speak)...

I think my favorite search that lead to this blog was pretty toes to eat.

That's awesome.

fun with intervals tonight!

Went to the rec center here in town tonight to do some intervals. I was looking towards the experience with some trepidation, as my last attempt at intervals failed some 3 minutes into the endeavor. I warmed up with a 0.25 mile run at a nice 8 min/mi pace before breaking into 0.25 mile intervals, punctuated with 0.125 mile walking breaks in between. I ended up doing 6x400 tonight; I'll ramp it up each week until I'm doing 10x400. I was pretty fun, and I stayed quite consistent through the entire ordeal. I averaged 6:13 min/mi for my laps (I measured each 0.0625 mi splits). All in all I was quite happy, and it didn't even feel like I was doing low sixes! I thought I was doing medium 7's or somewhere around there.

Check out Brynne's site for her fun workout, tonight...

After that, we headed up to Boulder for Boulder Running Company's Spring Women's night. Brynne got her makeup done, and saved lots of money on running clothing - even getting free Hind runnning shorts that are really nice. The only sucky thing was that men weren't allowed in - even though there were 20 mph winds and several fathers with small kids/babies that were milling around outside.

An awesome end to a great day!

bottles & buses

Has anyone else tried out the new Ultimate Directions Fastdraw?

I really like it, and it doesn't leak like the older ones did. Plus, you can close it by bending the little nubbin with you lips and it closes back up, and it just looks plain nifty.

And for you viewing pleasure, here's a picture of a repair truck from a bicycle repair shop in Denver - I like the Yellow Submarine theme:

Shoely goodness

Yesterday's run was awesome. In the recent issue of Running Times they have an article about pacing by Coach Benson. It's a pretty good article and it has information about how to pace yourself by percieved exertion. I think I found my proper pace grouping, and I tested it out last night. Yesterday's run was a nice & easy 6 miler at a 9:05/mi pace. I was feeling pretty good for the whole run, and could have kept a pretty good conversation going (if there was someone to talk to). I also checked by breathing during the run and it wasn't labored at all. So I think ~9 min/mi is a good pace for my easier runs. Today I have to do 9x400s at the Rec Center here in town. I'm hoping to do 7:30/mi, which I think would be pretty feasible for me. We'll see what happens.

Happily, my new shoes arived yesterday afternoon and I got another pair to rotate out. It finally happened: I have multiple pairs of shoes for training and racing since I run on 2-3 consecutive days. I'll have to recycle my old Asics Gel Evolutions to make some space.

On the job front, I also got some good news. I've heard back from another company here in the Denver Metro area (also in the defense aerospace field), so that might give me another option for sticking around the front range. As of now, I have a site interview next Monday morning, Tuesday morning, and I'm flying to New Orleans the next Monday for a site interview. I hope a good offer comes from all this travelling.

While I was running yesterday, I started thinking about Divine Madness, a Boulder CO based runng cult. Their leader eschews normal medical exams, and instead determines all he needs to know by pulling on their arms. They do lots of ultra races around the US, and one of their runners died two years ago after a 200 mile race. How many towns have an ultra running cult? It's pretty creepy - since the leader tells the members whom to sleep with for optimal performance. Whenever I'm running on the trails around Boulder I wonder if some of the really dazed looking greyhound types speeding by are one of the cult members :)

Lastly, I've addded a Bloglines subscribe button at the bottom of the side bar. Feel free to click on it to subscribe to me, hint, hint.

Monday, March 07, 2005

On the seventh day I rested...

Today was a rest day (finally!). In looking back at the past week, I think I went out to fast on Saturday's run and ended up paying for it yesterday. I did a little 5 mile recovery walk with the family today (actually, I walked while Brynne ran whilst I pushed the stroller). Plus, we got money back from the IRS (not like past years...).

It was a beautiful day today - sunny and warm, albeit a little windy - but that's to be expected this time of year in the Front Range. My new shoes also arrived - the glorious & stable Asics! To top it all off, Brynne cooked a lovely whole chicken in our rotisserie with mashed potatoes. It was all quite healthy and tasty.

Tomorrow I'm going to run, but looking at the weather forecast, I might be running on the little 1/16th mile track at the recreation center here in town. I don't feel like bothering with 20-30 mph winds. It also looks like I'll be doing the Greenland Trail 12.5 km (instead of the originally intended 50 km). It'll be a nice recovery after the half marathon in Littleton on the 3rd of next month.

As it is now, my models are running at a supercomputer at NCAR and all is well with the world. I just need to get a couple more chapters done for my thesis and everything will be peachy. I also have another site interview - so there is a decent chance I may not have to move from Colorado - which has really become my adopted home state (I've lived here longer than anywhere else).

Have a good night and have a great training week!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Misplaced priorities

I was reading some of the blogs in the RBF about looking back at the past year and assessing how people judged themselves versus their goals. I think I've been pretty good about my running this year (and last year). I've been sick twice, but each time climbed back on the trail and kept going. One thing I've noticed though is that I always seem to make time for running and what-not, but have not been very good with regards to spiritual matters - which are more important.

I think if I have the time to go running and get my things ready for the run, then I should have time to say a Rosary or read the Bible a bit. I go to Mass each week (I wish I could go to daily Mass), but I feel I've been sort of just going through the motions - go to confession, go to Mass, etc. It is Lent and thus it's a good time for self-assessment - seeing how we're doing living. On a good note, we got rid of TV entirely (the only thing we watch is movies we get from NetFlix - no broadcast anything). I can honestly say giving up TV was a great choice.

On a more running focused note, my long run went decently today. I headed out to the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt trail (again!) for my run. It was pretty nice out today - mid 60's, with light winds. Unfortunately, those light winds became strong winds after I turned around, and the strong headwind messed with my run somewhat. I definitely slowed down my pace for the last 4 miles or so. All in all though I was quite happy as I ran my 9 miles at a sub 9 min/mi pace. I think I may have been a little to excited yesterday and should have tempered my speed a little better last evening. Oh well, things to fix for next week.

No runs tomorrow - just playing with the baby in the pool...

Run Summary
Distance: 9 mi
Pace: 8:52 min/mi (woo-hoo! Sub two hour half marathon? Who knows!)
Time: 1:19:48 hours (79 minutes and 48 seconds). Would have done better but strong 20 mph headwind during last half of run. Stupid northerlies that shifted to westerlies...

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Pizza Power: is pizza an alternative & untapped fuel source?

Two pizzas in two days! To whom to I owe this pleasure: my wife.

Yesterday was awesome - A good meeting with my advisor and the discovery that my REI dividends were usable. I got a nifty REI backpack for day hikes and commuting. It fits all my running gear + other goodies. I was supposed to go swimming last night, but that fell through when I got to the pool only to discover it was closing in 15 minutes. Instead we went to a new NY style pizza place that opened in downtown Golden. It was awesome and as good as some of the little local places I ate at when I lived in the Village growing up. In some freakish turn of events I was absolutely ravenous last night - and ate most of a large pizza. Probably because it had no meat and was pretty thin. I was even amazed at how much I was able to eat. I attribute my success in todays run to yesterday's pizza.

Today I was supposed to do 6 miles. Luckily, my wife needed some yarn for a new project, and that meant I could persude her to go running at Washington Park in downtown Denver. So, we hit a couple yarn stores and went to the park. I didn't jackrabbit this time, and was able to stay fairly consistent over the 6 miles. I was able to do them in 49:33, so that's pretty good for me - it was an endurance run, and I felt really good. No stiches, no pains, no breathing problems. That means I've dropped my times by more than a minute in less than 6 months. I may be able to break 2 hrs on a half marathon now.

It was gorgeous and there were some southerlies at the park, so it made for an effort in some spots, but was better than the winds in Golden. They have a crushed gravel trail that goes around the park and is 2.65 miles around. It's pretty soft, so I think I'm going to try to run there once or twice a month.

The second pizza was homemade. My wife made organic pizzas with garlic, tomatoes, chicken Italian sausage, and fresh mozzerella cheese. Quite a good way to replenish calories after a nice run.

Run summary:
distance: 6 miles
time: 49:33 minutes
pace: 8:17 minutes/mi

PS: April - I downed 4 liters of water before my run and had no problems. I think if anything I was very well hydrated before my run.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Another good run!

I had an active recovery day today. I decided to relieve Brynne of the baby for 40 minutes and took him running with me while she ran on her own. We went on the Wheat Ridge path again, but this time I pushed John in his stroller. It was pretty nice not having to negotiate any hills in it. As for my pace, I think last week was sort of a fluke, because I took it pretty easy and was able to manage 8:56/mi for 4 miles. I didn't even feel out of breath or tired at the end. Maybe this means I will reach my goal of breaking under 2 hours for my half marathon a month from today. I certainly hope so...

And the day was made even better by dinner and desert. Waffle fries and Quorn nuggets (mycoprotien formed into chicken nuggets -they're awesome). I followed that off with soy vanilla ice cream on top of girl scout cookies. And I checked my email tonight and found out I have been invited to another interview. Maybe getting a decent job in industry isn't that far off.

So, what started off as a crappy week has turned pretty awesome. Maybe I can bang out my 9 miler this Sunday at a good pace, too. Oh, and my son fell asleep on me tonight, which was great. I love it when he does that.

Run Summary:
distance: 4.48 miles
time: 40 minutes
pace: 8:56 min/mi

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Tempo day

I always look towards days where I have tempo or interval work with a sense of excitement and dread. Excitement that it'll in some way make me a faster runner and dread that it'll probably suck at sometime. Today was a tempo day, and my needed running time was 40 minutes, so it wasn't too long. I remember doing 60 and 70 minute tempo runs that were kind of hard -especially since there was usually some extended climbing involved.

Today I decided to run on the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt trail. It's basically a trail that runs from Golden out to Commerce City (think industrial ghetto: lots of porn shops, junk yards, and bars) and down to Cherry Creek (think the antithesis of Commmerce City - the place where they have $200,000 Maserati's parked in the mall and valet parking to boot). What's especially nice about this path is the the lack of any topographic features - it's pretty flat and has pleasant scenery around it.

So - after an exciting day of doctor's appointments and doing some work, I headed down to one of the trailheads at dusk. It was pretty nice, and I got to see the beer train!

Toot, toot - here comes the beer train!

It was pretty nice and empty on the trail, save for many rabbits. Perhaps they were running from me because I was wearing my bunny shorts (the new Nikes).

Besides, where else can your run take you past enourmous silos of hops and one of the largest beer factories?

All in all it was a good run. I jackrabbited the first part of the run and went out too fast initially - 7:45/mi for the first mile and half. I found a good pace and was able to keep it in the low eights for the rest of the run. All in all, I was pretty happy with my pace.

I don't think I'll be very sore for tomorrow's run. I'm pretty excited about my decreasing paces, because earlier this winter I was doing tempo runs in the low 9:00/mi range, and I've almost dropped a minute in 3 months. Pretty good for 6000 ft in my book.

Run summary:
distance: 4.83 miles
pace: 8:17 min/mi
time: 40 minutes

I've created a monster!

Apparently getting the nifty running clothes for Brynne started something. We went to Boulder Running Company and she proceeded to get some pretty nice shorts and tops. Including pieces of running clothes that were not in pink. It's funny that she convinced me to start wearing Coolmax and other wicking fibers when she had none of her own. Luckily, this sad situation has been resolved, and I think she has quite a nice wardrobe. I was also floating off the ground when she told me this afternoon that running is adictive.

Man, did I marry the right woman or what?

obeisity in the NFL?

Not so much related to running, but rather about athletics in general. According to an article to appear in JAMA, obeisity is rampant in the NFL. I've heard anecdotal evidence that the average lifespan of an NFL player is slightly higher than that of lifespans in some underdeveloped countries. I know a lot of those guys life weights, but a lot of them look just plain fat.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

New shorts!

I got two new pairs of running shorts this week: some Coolmax running shorts from Brooks and some Nike DriFit runnig shorts. Both are really comfortable, but the Nikes are really comfortable. It's like they took the softest part of the softest animal...

and skinned it.

Then used it for the liner in these shorts.

It's Nike, so I wouldn't put it past them to make their shorts of out bunnies, but they're so comfortable that I'll still buy them.

A spectacular morning run

I finally dragged my lazy butt out of bed at 5:50 AM this morning to go running. Knowing that today would be really busy, I decided to just knock my run out in the morning instead of trying to squeeze it in later on (especially since Brynne has to go running today, too).

Anyway, I head out after digging around for some cold-weather gear in the dark at about 6 am. Just in time to catch the sunrise over the mesas that demarcate Golden from metro Denver (and blog the smog, too!). The thing about running in Golden is the hills here. It's not gently sloping like Boulder - Golden is very hilly, since it's situated in a valley and you basically have to climb everywhere in town. Which made me that much happier when I looked at my splits today. I did my first three miles at 9:14/mi, and my last three miles at 9:15/mi. Pretty good considering the wacky topology of the course I was running. I did an urban (if you can really call Golden urban) route today, running near places where I used to live, and around the school. I also got to see the CC team from the local HS running too, which was kind of cool. All in all, it was just a nice brisk morning run, and I think I'll have to repeat it tomorrow when I do my tempo run for the week.

I also realized something during my run: I only have two regrets in my life - taking Spanish in high school instead of taking Latin, and going out for wrestling instead of running cross country. Oh well... could be much worse in the whole scheme of things. The run was nicely capped off by coming home to playing with a very happy 8 month old (it's his 8 mo. birthday today) before heading off to work. And I even brewed an awesome cup of coffee with my French press! It wasn't watery like yesterday.

All that would make this day better would be a job offer, but I think those are still a ways off...

Run Summary:
distance: 6 mi
time: 55:25 minutes (supposed to be 55 min, but just wanted to watch my Forerunner tick over to 6 miles)
pace: 9:14/mi (first three miles), 9:15/mi (last three miles)
elevation change: +/- 300 ft or so.