Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Monday, May 27, 2013

"Doubling Down!" Another Fabulous Colorado Weekend

Bighorn Sheep Canyon: photo courtesy of someone else who took this picture
The weeks of school have been long and arduous for what seems like the entire months of March, April, and May.   The weekends have been short, but full of fun times.  This weekend has been no exception.  We traveled close to 400 miles during the last three days, and slept somewhere different each night.  But that's just the way it is, when there are some many adventures waiting out the front door.
After a long day at work on Friday, I cut out of work as quick as possible and headed home.  We had a lovely family dinner down at the Nature Center at a place called the "Coyote Grill."  We first ate there about a year ago, and it's a great place to enjoy a meal.  In these warmer months, it's a very "open" restaurant with a nice outdoors feel.  It was actually so warm on Friday that we wound up dining just inside the doors.  When we returned home, I got a few things together for our quick trip to Buena Vista.  I also took a few minutes to get all of my biking essentials together so that I wouldn't have to scramble around in the morning.  I find that getting ready for a bike ride takes at least three times longer than going for a run, or even a swim.  So much gear, a bike to look over, etc.  But finally I was ready for bed with everything in place for the coming day.
The Route from Pueblo to Cotopaxi
 On Saturday morning, I woke up early and had a cup of coffee and read the news.  A little after 6:30, I set out the front door, rode down to highway 50, and headed west.  I would stay on this same road the rest of the day, and depending on what time Melisa decided to leave Pueblo, I would continue riding (well, maybe the occasional stop).  Best case scenario would be that I'd have enough time to ride to Salida which is about a 94 mile trip.  At least, I hoped I'd make it as far as Canon City.  As it turned out, I didn't have quite enough time to reach Salida, but I did make it quite a ways, definitely a longer ride for me.
  The toughest part of the ride was just outside of Canon City.  There's a climb of about 6 miles up to the top of the Royal Gorge.  This little stretch took a good 45 minutes or so.  When I reached the top, I was a touch over 3 hours and so I stopped for about 5-10 minutes at a roadside RV "resort" where I downed a Sprite and refilled my Water bottle.  For the next couple of miles I had a screaming descent down into the Big Horn Sheep Canyon.  In all honesty, it was really steep.  I didn't let myself ride too far above 30 mph on the way down because I was unfamiliar with the road and the conditions.  However, it was nice to have some downhill after that climb as it gave me a little chance to rest before starting a more gradual climb up the canyon towards Salida and Buena Vista.
The full ride had a total elevation gain of about 3700 feet, but the trek up the canyon was fairly steady.  I just pressed forward making the best time that I could and taking advantage of a few rollers to pick up the pace here and there.  A few minutes after noon, I took a ten minute break at a scenic area to get some nutrition, and to rest a little.  The day was starting to heat up, and the mild headwind from the morning was starting to include a brief gust every now and then.  Nothing channels wind like canyon walls.  But it was a beautiful ride!  On my right was the Arkansas River which was running quite high.  This made the white water rafters quite happy and I must have seen about thirty boats in the river that morning, coordinating their shouts in unison with the effort they were making against the current.  Like I said, the canyon is not steep but it is narrow, and the walls rise straight up beside the highway, on the left hand side if you're going up.  For parts of the ride, I could only see the direction of the road a few hundred yards ahead as it snaked along next to the river.  Other times I would crest a small roller and a longer stretch of the road would be revealed.  It never ran in a straight line, but bent forward, and slightly upward towards the Canyon's end.  Occasionally above the cliffs, a gap would open up just enough to see the Collegiate Peaks peeking down from above.  At 1:00, after another hour of riding, I was 66 miles into the ride.  The back of my entire left leg was sore, and even though I knew I was only about 4 miles from Cotopaxi, I stopped for a minute or two to stretch.  Revived, I was back on the bike and rolling up to a small cafe right next to the highway. Time for Lunch!
Elevation: Approximately 3700 feet of gain
Checking out the gear at the BV whitewater festival
  I sat outside under an umbrella, eating my Turkey Sandwich (well, more like inhaling it!) and watching the road in case Melisa happened along.  Our original plan was that she would call me when she left Pueblo, and that I would check in with her to let her know where I was at, and where I expected to be on the route so that she would no where to look for me.  Unfortunately, it hadn't dawned on either of us that there is no cell reception in the canyon, so the only way I was going to get picked up, was if she saw me riding on the side of the road.  I went back in the cafe and quickly paid my bill, and got back out on the road.  And not a moment too soon.  Within about 5 minutes of riding, I heard the happy chirp of the Element's horn behind me.  Melisa slid over onto a turnout in the road and I pedaled the last few feet up to the car.  Total ride was 71.1 miles.  After loading the bike on back, it was on to Buena Vista and the Mount Princeton Hot Springs.  Our third trip in about two months.  I won't go into too much detail about the trip, but let's just say it involved a whitewater festival in town, pizza and beer at the brewery, and soaking in the hot springs until about 11:00.  By the time we got back to our cabin, I was ready for bed.  I would have slept like a baby too, except for the hangover that was developing.  It had been a long, but enjoyable day.  The fun continued the next morning with breakfast, followed by one more dip in the springs before heading back to Pueblo.
Waiting to start the race!
 After a couple of hours at home on Sunday, we were back in the car and headed up to Parker where we would spend the night at my brother's house before the Bolder Boulder on Monday morning.  This year was going to be a special race as our daughter Maya was getting ready to run her first 10k.  Early on Monday Morning, we awoke and had a quick drive north to the CU campus and Folsom Stadium, finish line for the race.  It was a beautiful day and rather warm in fact.   We parked the car and headed for the starting line about a mile away.
Ready to Run!
  By the time we joined our starting wave, the sun had started to beat down on us pretty good. Bu, what a great race and tradition this is!  I have done this race just about every year since I was in 9th grade and I'm currently on an uninterrupted 16 year streak.   It's such a great way to spend Memorial Day, and I can't think of anything else I'd rather do on that day.  There were around 55,000 participants this year, and there's always something to see along the way.  Maya especially enjoyed all of the sprinklers, hoses, etc. as we ran.  By the time we got to the finish line, she was a soaking wet mess.  This year marked my 25th running of the race.  Not one of my faster Bolder Boulder's, but certainly one of the more memorable.  We had planned to meet some friends for lunch but by the time we got into the stadium and sat down, the women's elite race had started.  It's been many years since we've been in the stadium for the elite race, so we decided to stick around.  After about 20 minutes, the women's leader entered the stadium to the sound of thousands of cheering athletes.  Just a half a minute later, Deena Kastor, the first American woman, came racing to the finish line and the place went absolutely crazy.  The men's elite racers finished a short while later.  It is amazing how fast they move during those races and it always looks so effortless.  We wound up staying for all of the Memorial Day celebration as well including the parachutists who land just inside the stadium.  Truly amazing.

Congratulations Maya!
Afterward, we stopped by the expo to look around.  It was shut down for the most part, but we got to add a small square to a giant patchwork quilt they are making for the Boston Marathon next year.  They plan on doing this at several races over the next 12 months.  A really cool idea and a great way to honor our fellow runners!
Maya's Picture for Boston!
 So finally after another 120 miles of driving, we finally made it home again.  A whirlwind Colorado weekend to be sure.  As for next week, we don't have a lot of plans yet.  And to tell you the truth, I kinda hope it stays that way!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Night Run

 Short post tonight.  Around 8:15, my daughter Maya and I headed out for a night run.  It was a beautiful summer evening (even if it isn't officially summer yet).  Perfect night for running.  Not too hot,  not too cold.  The kind of night I remember as a kid, when we'd be running about the neighborhood, not wanting to come inside until the last possible minute.  Just before dark, we set out for a 3 mile run , stopping to walk every 4 or 5 minutes or so.  Our pace was easy, and our steps were light.  By the time we reached the turnaround point,  the sky in the east was a deep, navy blue.  To the west still, a pale blue that grew darker with every passing moment, like swimming to the bottom of a silent pool.  The moon shone down in front of us and streaks of white clouds, high up in the sky, blocked its light at times.  We continued running, walking occasionally, and talking the whole time.  About running, and dreams, and the future.  I told her about how I used to run at night when I was a kid, and the three mile loop I seemed to do throughout the summer.   These things I've told her before, but great to be able to share with her again.  Tonight as we walked through a dark patch between two streetlights, she reached out and grabbed hold of my hand for comfort.  Almost eleven years old now.  I know this time is fleeting.  Perfect night for running.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Colorado Weekend!

This is what it's all about.  Summer is just a few weeks away, and already we are enjoying fantastic weather and some good times! 
On Friday, Melisa and Maya went to a school function which gave me an evening with Lily.  We had a great time that included dinner at the mall Food Court (she had pretzel dogs and a blue-raspberry slushee while I opted for nachos)!  Then we took in a cute movie called "The Croods," which I have to admit was pretty funny.  It was really great to just spend a little time with my youngest daughter and a fantastic way to start the weekend.
Around 4:45 on Saturday morning, I found myself laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and waiting for the day to start.  With a century ride just over a month away, it was also time to start getting some T.I.T.S. (that's Time In The Saddle for the uninitiated).  After a couple of cups of coffee and some time on the computer, I set out on my first bike ride in about 3 or 4 weeks.  The first half of the ride was into the wind and took a little over an hour.  The return trip (with tail wind) took a little over 45 minutes.  I didn't push too hard on this ride, and I never really felt too tired or winded.  Even though I don't have a lot of cycling specific training, the 50 miler has given me one hell of an aerobic base.  During the coming weeks, I plan on doing some more challenging rides and also integrating some speedier workouts into the mix.  By the end of June, I hope to really be able to crank out some miles on the bike.  I'm also excited to get a fitting for my Boy Blue (see below) and see what I can do on a more aero bike.  At any rate, here's are some of pretty maps, graphs and charts from Saturday's ride courtesy of Strava (Note- Of all the android exercise tracking apps that I've used, Strava has to be my favorite so far.  Although, I've only used it a half dozen times, I've had no issues with it dropping mid-workout, pausing, etc.  It uploads quickly to the web site, and has some good data which has been fun to review):
First long ride in quite some time. An out and back course along Hwy 50 and through parts of P.W.
Nitty gritty details from the ride
Can you see where the Headwind stops and the Tailwind starts????
Later on Saturday Afternoon, we cruised up to Denver to get ready for Melisa's Marathon.   We arrived at Sports Authority Field for packet pickup around 3:30 and got all of Melisa's items.  I also picked up an item called: "The Stick."  It's a small plastic stick that you roll back and forth along your muscles and is useful for breaking up scar tissue, etc.  Then it was off to the Hyatt Regency at the Convention Center , and dinner at The Cheesecake Factory.  As I wasn't running, I felt it only appropriate to indulge in a couple of pints of Dale's Pale Ale, a Macaroni and Cheeseburger (yes it had macaroni and cheese on it, deep fried of course, and Chocolate Tuxedo Cheesecake (not shared) for dessert!
After a luxurious breakfast buffet at the hotel on Sunday Morning(Lily believes that the breakfast buffet at the Hyatt may be the best place in the world), we headed over to City Park to watch Melisa complete her first marathon.  It was a beautiful day and we spent a couple of hours just relaxing on the grass near the finish line.  This may be the first time that I've been a spectator at a race and not felt a twinge of regret that I wasn't a participant.   Maybe I would have felt different if I hadn't just done CPTR two weeks ago, or if I hadn't done this same marathon last year.  Either way, it was great to relax and just spectate for a change.  Melisa's mom and several of her aunts came up for the event, which was a great boost for Melisa.  After about 5 and 1/2 hours, she came running along towards the finish.  I must say that she looked great and I'm so proud of her for accomplishing this amazing feat!  Having done most of the longer runs with her, I had no doubt that she would do it, but I know what an incredible feeling of accomplishment there is in doing your first marathon.  It remains to be seen whether or not she has been bitten by the Marathon bug, but it wouldn't surprise me at all!  A few snaps from this morning:
Checking out the MLK Jr. Statue
Big smile considering that she's just run 26 miles!
Bling at the Finish Line!
Post Race Recovery Beverage Courtesy of Michelob
Next up for the family is the Bolder Boulder.  Last year, I posted a RR that said it was my 23rd time running the race.  However, as I count back, I think that it may have actually been my 24th, which would make this year the 25th time that I've run the race.  Yep, the more I think about it, it will be the 25th.  This will be a special one as well, because our daughter, Maya, will be joining us this time (I actually carried her back in 2002, when she was a baby).  Lily probably has a couple of years yet, but I suspect this will soon become a family event. 
 But before the race on Memorial day, we get an unexpected bonus trip next weekend.  A couple of friends got in touch with us last week to see if we were interested in a short trip to the Mount Princeton Hot Springs on Saturday.  They'd rented a cabin and were looking for another couple to join us them on the trip.  Would we like to go?  Absolutely.  The Salida/ Buena Vista area is my new favorite getaway in Colorado.   Since I do need to get a long ride in this coming weekend,  I'm going to leave from Pueblo a few hours ahead of Melisa and start riding west on Saturday morning.  I don't know how far I'll get before Melisa catches up with me in the car, but I'm going to do my best to get as many miles as I can in on the way up.  Once there, it will be nothing but soaking in the Springs.  The resort has a "spa" area that is for adults only, and there is a small bar located just inside of the pool area.  Oh yes, it will be glorious! 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

My Blue is red . . . Bike Photos!

You're my boy, Blue!
It actually arrived about a week and half back, but I've been far too busy to do a whole lot with it.  Over the last couple of weeks, I've carefully attached the handlebars, connected the front brake, added the pedals, elbow rests, and a done a few other tweaks and adjustments.  Because it's made of carbon, and I don't own a torque wrench, I haven't really tightened anything as I don't want to damage the frame.  Besides, I want to get a professional fit done, so that it's dialed into my specifications and it's as comfortable as possible.  Maybe at that point, I'll look at acquiring a torque wrench as well.
The Triad AL, a good looking bike, but not the right size for me.
I've been browsing triathlon bikes for the last three years when I did my first sprint triathlon.  But I really had no immediate plans to get a bike, and then I stumbled across a Blue Triad AL on closeout from all3sports in Atlanta.
 My brother rides a Blue Triad SP and likes it a lot, so I was intrigued by this bike as an entry into an aerodynamic frame.  Even though the AL has an aluminum frame, it seemed like it might be a good option given my limited budget.  I think Melisa may have finally gotten tired of hearing me talk about bikes so much, so she finally green-lit my purchase of a bike.  She refers to this strategy as "chipping away" at her will, which I suppose is a fairly apt description of the process.  But, she did say yes, and I wasn't going to chance that the family CFO might change her mind so I took the plunge and ordered the bike.  I was stoked.
This is the 2012 version of the Triad SP
 A day or two after ordering the bike however, the store contacted me to let me know that the size I'd requested was too big.  Unfortunately, they didn't have a Triad AL in the size I needed, but that they did have an SP on closeout for only a fraction more.  In this way, I'd be able to get a carbon frame triathlon bike after all.  Hey, why the hell not? Let's do it.  A few days later, a large bike box sat on my front porch when I came home from work one afternoon.  Although it arrived quickly, at that point I was in full ultra mode and readying things for my trip to Buena Vista and the CPTR 50, so I didn't get to do much more than pull the bike out of the box and stare at the pieces.  Over the next few weeks, I spent a few minutes here and there putting all of the pieces together.  Finally, this afternoon, I brought it outside so that I could snap a few pictures to share.

Photos courtesy of Maya Maes-Johnson
 I know these aren't the best pictures, but please keep in mind, my hobbies are endurance sports and beer, not photography.  Thanks to Maya for helping out with a few of these shots using her i Pad. Even though I haven't taken a single turn of the pedals yet, I really am excited about this bike.  It's so light, so aero, and when you let the back wheel spin, it just purrs like an Italian Sports car.  For my first ride, I'll take it out to the test track east of town.  It's a wide open road where I can really open it up and get a feel for it without having to worry about traffic, etc.
 This is still an entry level triathlon bike and so the components aren't the fanciest.  It consists mostly of SRAM parts with FSA cranks and a front derailleur.  The cassette and chain are from the  Shimano 105 group.  That said, all of the components are an upgrade from my Specialized Secteur which currently has Shimano Triple components.  Don't get me wrong, I have a great, reliable road bike, but it's as basic as it gets, so everything on this bike is just a little better.  For my next adventure however, I'll be riding my Specialized.  In fact, I plan on doing most of my summer riding with the road bike, and using the tri bike for more specific training.  Since my triathlon season won't officially kick off until later in the summer, I've got a lot of time to get adjusted, and when I start using it more regularly, it will be great to have the strength built up from riding the aluminum road bike.   The adage is true, that no matter the bike, it's the engine you have that makes the biggest difference. 
In terms of events, up next for me is the Mountain Top Cycling Club's 2nd Annual Experience Ride.  This ride will take place in about 6 weeks in Florissant , Colorado.  I'm signed up to do the 106 mile century ride which will be my first ride of this distance.  As you can imagine, I will be shifting my focus from ultra running to cycling now, as I prepare for this event.   I know that I have the aerobic base for the ride, it's just a matter of getting to cycling conditioning.  I'll be cutting way back on the running, and focusing more on the riding and swimming (my next running event isn't until mid-August).
 Speaking of Triathlon season, today was the kickoff here in Pueblo with the Ordinary Mortals Triathlon.  This is a sprint triathlon that's done in reverse order: run, bike, swim.  I had decided a while back not to race this event, so instead, I volunteered for a couple of hours this a.m.  I arrived at the CSU-Pueblo recreation center a little before 6:00 a.m. which is about the same time as my weekly swim.   Volunteering was a good experience and really makes you realize how much work goes into putting on an event.  Most of my efforts this morning involved posting signs, mixing sports drink, and cutting up dozens of oranges.
The Southern Colorado Triathlon Club, which sponsors the event, and of which I'm a member had a great turnout today.  I must say that I'm a little remorseful that I didn't buy the club triathlon kit, as it's pretty cool looking.  If they put another order in before Austin, I may have to get set up.
Yes, that's Doug, the family Zombie, playing guitar in the background!
Tomorrow, Melisa and the girls are going out for an afternoon "Tea" on Mother's day.  I've been feeling a little sick, but if I'm up for it, I plan on heading out for a ride in the afternoon for a couple of hours.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Race Report: Collegiate Peaks Trail Run

"Long distance runner, what you holdin' out for?
Caught in slow motion in a dash for the door.
The flame from your stage has now spread to the floor
You gave all you had. why you wanna give more?
The more that you give, the more it will take
To the thin line beyond which you really can't fake."
- Fire on the Mountain by the Grateful Dead

It was past 4:00 O'clock on a Friday afternoon, and we were running late.  I was glad that I'd packed my running gear on Thursday evening.  At least I knew that all of the essential items for Saturday morning were already packed and ready to go.  I pulled into the garage, and quickly threw a few post race clothes in the suitcase, along with my swimsuit.  Within minutes, we were headed west towards the setting sun and Buena Vista, Colorado, the site of the 2013 Collegiate Peaks Trail Run.  A little after 6:00 p.m. Melisa and I rolled into Salida where we met the rest of the family at Currents, our favorite restaurant in town.  My mouth watered as I perused the selection of beers posted on the wall above the kitchen, but I resisted the urge to sample any.  Tomorrow night, I told myself.  I went for the traditional "carbo-loading" dinner . . . well, sort of.  An Elk Sausage Orichiette Pasta fit the bill nicely, and I also managed to sneak a few french fries off of my daughter's plate as well.  After dinner, I left Melisa and the girls with Papa Alan and Mama Joyce, and stopped by Walmart on the way out of town for some last minute provisions including Bagels, Bananas, etc.  Walking through the store seemed to take forever, and I could feel the previous week of work starting to catch up with me.   I finally made it through the check out and managed to get up to the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort by about 9:15 p.m.  Unlike our last visit there, we stayed in the lodge this time which had much nicer accommodations, and was somewhat closer to the hot springs.  I managed to get into bed a little before 10:00 p.m. and so I was able to get about six and a half hours of sleep.
Race Morning:
I slept pretty well considering the day ahead and at 4:30 a.m. I awoke just a few minutes before the alarm was set to go off.  I decided to get up and start getting ready as I wanted to be at the start of the race by about 5:45 in order to get my race materials.  It took me a little longer than usual to get ready in the morning, but in the end it worked out fine and I arrived at the race starting line a little after 5:30.  This gave me plenty of time to get my transition gear ready and to take one last look at my race plan.  The CPTR has two loops,  and 50 mile runners are able to make a stop at their vehicles between loops to change gear, refuel, etc.  I set up the back of my car to have a change of shirt, socks, as well as some food and drink ready to go.  I also had a rain jacket set out just in case the weather turned out worse.  Although there was a little rain at the end of the race, it really wasn't a factor during the day.  In fact, the weather was just about perfect on Saturday. 
Extra clothes, food, and anything else I could think of!
Ultra runners are a very colorful, laid back crew, and like triathlon, it's as much of a lifestyle as it is a sport.  All types are drawn to these events.  Sitting in the community center in my Go-Lite jacket, hat, and Brooks running shorts with regular running shoes, it was fun to eavesdrop and here folks talking about the day ahead.  Many of the runners were decked out in compression socks and Hoka running shoes.  If you haven't seen the Hoka shoes, they are a sight to behold.  I had a chance to try on a pair at the Boulder Running Company last weekend, and they were quite comfortable, but maybe not quite right for me due to their minimal drop (this seems to put a strain on my calves).   For the time being, I'll stick with shoes that have a bit more drop.  I will say that after this event however, I'm probably due for a new pair of running shoes!

The Race, First Loop: 
The start of the race is just outside of the Buena Vista Community Center which meant that there was a warm, comfortable place to sit while waiting for the start.  This was good considering that the temperature outside was probably in the mid-thirties when the gun went off.  Runners were able to stay inside until about 10 minutes before the race start which was great.  Once we were shepherded outside, I made my way to the very back of the pack and with hardly a warning we were off.  It was a beautiful morning as the sun began to rise.  All of the runners were in good spirits and given our location in the back of the pack, no one around was taking themselves too seriously just yet.  We settled in at a steady pace and snaked our way north along a paved county road.  After the first three miles, we turned off of the pavement and began to climb up into the hills that would be our route for the next several hours.  At this point, I still felt really good, although I must have misjudged the location of the first aid station.  When I arrived, I was worried for a moment because I thought it was right after the first three miles.  However, it had taken me over an hour to get there.  I did a quick recalculation and figured that we had actually run closer to 5 miles and change.  Still pretty slow, but a much better distance given the amount of time that had already passed.  I took a few extra minutes at this aid station to take off my jacket, hat and gloves, and switch to my visor.   As best I could, I stuffed these items into the back of my hydrapak, and kept moving.  Just prior to leaving the aid station, I heard someone say it was another 5-6 miles to aid station #2 so  I settled in for the next bit.  Running from aid station to aid station is a great way to break the course into manageable chunks.  It continued to be a beautiful morning, but after another 30 minutes of running, I began to feel a little fatigued.  At this point, the course shifted to more climbing, and I realized that we were on the first of the two "big" climbs for the clockwise route.  I started to add more walking on the steeper parts of the course, and paused at one point to enjoy a "honey stinger" waffle that I'd placed in my pack.  This helped to boost my energy and a few minutes before 9:00, I climbed the final portion of the first climb to the aid station at mile 11.7.  The next stop was only about 4 miles ahead, and thankfully, it was mostly downhill.  I felt really strong at this point, and I was able to run the  majority of the distance between these two points.  I went rather quickly through the aid station at 14.6 and got ready for the next big climb up to 9400 feet, and the 17.9 mile mark of the course.
Course Map: Start and Finish at aid station 6
The climb up to the top of the course was slow going, with a lot of walking, but it wasn't quite as difficult as I thought it would be.  Unlike the first climb, this one seemed slightly more gradual.  I took my time, and did a good deal of walking during this climb.  I reached the top a few minutes after 10:00 in the morning, and felt pretty good to have a 3hr 40min time going into the final downhill stretch of the first loop.  Although it was still a good seven miles to the turnaround back at the community center, I figured the long descent down would get me there in just slightly over an hour.  At that rate, I would be a good hour ahead of the cutoff time and in good shape for the return.  What I hadn't expected however was how exhausted I felt during the last 7 miles back down into Buena Vista.  After a couple of miles of running, I started to wonder where the next aid station would be.  It seemed like it had to be coming up soon.  Still, it was nowhere in sight.  Added to that was the fact that there were a couple of "bumps" in the trail, so there were still a couple of short sections that I had to walk.  I finally reached the last and final aid station before the turnaround, but I didn't feel good.  At this point, I started to have serious doubts about continuing.  11:00 o'clock came and went, and then so did 11:15.  I wasn't going to be a full hour ahead of the time, and I might even be too close to the cutoff.  As I made my way down the last mile or two to the community center, I passed several folks heading back up for their second lap on the course.  It seemed like they were doing the impossible.  Rounding the final turn to the community center,  I didn't feel like I had the energy to do more.
Elevation profile for CPTR
Psychologically, this was perhaps the hardest part of the race for me.  Then, just prior to the turnaround, I saw my family cheering for me.  I waved and then diverted off the course and to the right where the Element was parked.  I quickly changed my shirt, got my iPod ready (I'm not usually one to listen to music during a race, but this was a treat I promised myself to help pass the time on the return trip), and ate and drank a little bit.  I only spent about 5 minutes at the car, but it was enough to rejuvenate me a bit.  Then it was back through the turnaround, and onto the course for the second part of the race.  It was 11:38 a.m. and I was about 38 minutes ahead of the cut-off time.
Please sir, can I have some more?
The Race: Second Loop:
In my race plan, I said that miles 25-32 were the key to successfully completing the race, and this proved to be true.  I made my back through the parking lot, across the bridge, and then up through the most technical part of the course to a service road.  Through the first mile of rocks, it was almost all walking.  Finally, when I reached the service road, I was able to get into a rhythm of five minutes running to one minute walking.  I did this through the next several minutes and reached the midway aid station still with about 35 minutes to spare.  I continued along this way for another mile or two, and then the climbing began.  On the return route, the first uphill takes you from the lowest point of the course to the highest (look at the elevation map from right to left).  I found myself walking a lot (which I knew would happen), and every time it seemed like I'd made it to the top, it turned out to be a false summit, and another steep grade awaited.  For the next hour, I only saw one other "runner," an older gentleman who said a few words of encouragement as he went speed-walking past me.  Within 15 minutes, he was a small dot up above me in the distance.  I moved on and after what seemed like forever, I finally crested a small hill, and saw the aid station at 32 miles, just a hundred yards ahead.  It had taken me just over 2 hours to cover the seven miles back up to the top of the course. 
Perhaps the highlight of the day were the ham tortilla wraps sitting in a bowl at this aid station.  It sounds silly, but the sight of them was wonderful, and I quickly ate two  of those suckers, along with a small cup of sprite which also tasted delicious.  Although I didn't want to sit down, I had to for a moment to empty the small rocks out of my shoes.  Once that was accomplished, I went back to the table for seconds.  Another ham wrap, a chocolate cookie, and a little bit of water and I was set to go.  The food was very rejuvenating and I must say that I felt a certain sadness leaving that aid station behind, but I was now only about 20 minutes under the cut-off.  That left me just over an hour to make it down to the next aid station.
Somewhere around 33 miles, I settled into a rhythm, and had some of the strongest running of the day.  In fact, the final 18 miles were probably the best I felt during the whole experience. I still walked most of the big hills, but I was at least able to jog some of the smaller, less steep hills, and I kept a pretty good pace all the way down.  Listening to music was also quite helpful.  At mile 35, I switched to my reggae playlist, and that did the trick.  I cruised to the next aid station in under 50 minutes which gave me nearly two hours to make it to the final aid station at 45 miles.
At this point, the skies started to cloud up and the wind started to blow a bit.  I really didn't mind however, and I decided not to bother stopping to put on a long sleeve shirt.  I was running almost entirely by myself at this time, occasionally passing a runner or two, and so I just ran along, listening to music, and enjoying the experience.  Being far enough ahead of the cut-off times,  I knew by this point that I would finish (barring some injury or mishap), so I didn't really have to worry about that anymore.  That allowed me to relax a bit more.  At 4:25 in the afternoon, I reached the last aid station along the course.  I had run a good bit of this part back in March, so I was more familiar with the territory ahead in the next 5 miles.  The first two miles consisted of a combination of hilly and sandy terrain.  I estimated that it would take me at least 40 minutes to run and walk that section.  Once I made it down to the main road, it would just be a matter of working my way back to the community center downtown.  The rain started a little bit at this point, but it still didn't really bother me.  Coming up the last steep hill on the trail section, I looked to my right and happened to see the skeletal remains of some animal (probably a deer) lying next to the trail.  This struck me as funny for some reason, probably because it was the last thing you'd want to see 47 miles into a race.  I chuckled to myself glad that it wasn't me as I stepped out onto the fire road and started down towards Buena Vista.
These views make this race one of the most scenic that I've done (photo from my March visit).
By the time I reached the main road, the rain had set in and wasn't going to let up.  It wasn't a downpour however, and it actually felt pretty refreshing after the long day of running.  Although I was very tired, I didn't feel as horrible as I expected I would.  In fact, I think I felt better at the end of this race, than I did at the end of the ADT Marathon in the fall of 2011.  With only about a half mile to go, I stopped for a moment, pulled out my cell phone, and called Melisa, to let her know I would be at the finish in about 5 minutes.  It seemed funny to be calling her to let her know when I'd be home!
A few hundred yards before the finish line, my daughter Maya was waiting along with my in-laws.   They were in full paparazzi mode taking pictures and recording the moment.  Maya ran alongside me for a few yards before I rounded the last turn.  Just across the parking lot, I saw the finish line.  Melisa and Lily were there and they began to cheer as I approached.  I motioned to Lily and she came up beside me.  We held hands for the final 15 yards as I crossed the finish line.  50 miles: done! 
The last few steps of a very long journey (with Lilybug).
Back in December when I set out to do this race, I really didn't have much of an idea of what I was getting into.  I thought about it briefly, signed up, and despite a mid-training injury, managed to get it done.  I met both of my goals for this race including finishing, and, believe it or not, having fun.  Okay, it wasn't all fun, but I did have a good time during much of the race.  When all was said and done, I did the race in approximately 11 hours and 15 minutes (official results haven't posted as of this writing).  My first lap took almost exactly five hours, and my second closer to six.  I don't know that I will ever attempt something like this again, although I've learned that one should never say never.  Thanks for reading!
Sitting down and taking off my shoes . . . just seconds away!