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"You cannot propel yourself forward by patting yourself on the back."
- Steve Prefontaine

trip REPORT: running america 2008
DateRaceDistancePaceTotal TimeWeather
Running America 2008
Photo Album
50 miles N/A N/A Cold to Cool

This was an exciting opportunity to run in Colorado with Marshall Ulrich as he continued on his journey of Running Across America (from San Francisco to New York). Marshall is in his fifties and averages over 60 miles/day. Charlie Engle (mid forties) is covering the distance on bike due to an injury.

What I think is great is these "over 40" athletes are excelling at what was typically considered the domain of younger people! For example, the woman that won the Olympics Marathon in 2008 (Constantina Tomescu-Dita) is 38. One of the Olympic Swimming competitors (Dara Torres) is in her 40's (more than twice the age of the other competitors). Being older doesn't mean we have to get out our rocking chairs and sit on the porch. If we're smart about training and recovery, we can excel at our chosen sport and activities.

As a member of USATF, I received an email telling me about the run. Since the Running America Route wasn't going through Texas or the South, I chose my favorite state in the US (Colorado) when I signed up for the run. I was hoping that running in Colorado the week before my marathon would give me some much needed altitude and hill training. On Monday September 29th, I received an email asking if I could run with Marshall that day. Of course, that was too soon, but it offered another chance on Wednesday October 1st.

I took the week off and drove to Steamboat Springs, CO and arrived Tuesday afternoon. I drove straight through and was exhausted. I stayed at the Super 8 Motel in Steamboat Springs for 3 nights. It was right next to the Yampa River and its associated running trail - a runner's paradise! I then stayed at Bighorn Cabins in Bellvue, CO for 2 nights (running both evenings with Running America), and at Lakeshore Lodge in Estes Park for 1 night (running the path around Lake Estes).

I was in Colorado from October 1st through October 5th. I ran over 50 miles in Colorado the week before my marathon. I can't help but wonder if the running at altitude was what helped me qualify for Boston on October 12th. The experts say you need at least two weeks at altitude to get a benefit, but I noticed an effect when I came back home to sea level.

Below is a synopsis and photo album of each of my runs while I was in Colorado. The beauty was breathtaking!

Colorado Run 1: 10/01/08 Wednesday AM
Location: Steamboat Springs, CO
Distance: 8.10 miles
Route: Yampa River Trail
Elevation: Min: 6686 ft; Max: 6788 ft.
Notes: Ran along the Yampa River Trail midmorning. I had my little pocket camera with me and obtained some incredible photos. This was my first run at altitude (6800 ft) and I definitely noticed the thinner air. However, the views were beautiful. In most places there was a packed dirt trail alongside the concrete trail. The trail meandered across the river and ski slopes. I had never seen a ski slope without snow before, so of course I had to take a photo of that as well. There weren't a lot of other people out on the trail, probably because it was a weekday and this was a resort town outside of skiing season. I love the outdoors, especially mountains, rivers/lakes, and trees. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven!
Photos: SteamboatSprings Album
Colorado Run 2: 10/01/08 Wednesday PM with Marshall Ulrich
Location: Steamboat Springs, CO (starting at Iron Springs Park 8:30 PM)
Distance: 4.17 miles
Route: Iron Springs Park to RCR 38 (uphill climb)
Elevation: Min: 6722 ft; Max:7641 ft.
Notes: Evening run with Marshall Ulrich in Running Across America. We ran from 8:30 PM until around 10 PM.
Runners were responsible for their own transportation back to their car. I originally planned on running 20 miles with Marshall and then calling a taxi to take me back to my car. Or I could have run 10 miles out and 10 miles back. But the 10 back would have been alone in the dark in a place I didn't know well. We ran up a mountain road that was made of packed dirt and had huge rivets like a washboard. It was gorgeous because it was inclined up a mountain and surrounded by tall trees on each side. There's no way a taxi would have come up there. In addition, I'm not sure I knew where I was or how to get back.

Luckily, the other runner's wife was following along in her car. When he had to go back, she gave me a ride back to my car. That was really nice of them since they lived in Denver and it was a little out of their way to take me back to my car. Thanks Ryan and Pam!

I tried to get photos with my little pocket camera, but it was extremely dark and the reflective gear that we all wear interfered with the photos. One of the Running America crew suggested we wear headlamps. I was so glad I keep my headlamps in the car. I loaned one to the other runner as well. It was a wonderful run - you could see every star in the sky! The photo shown above was across the street from our meeting point in Iron Springs Park.

On the way out of town, a reporter stopped us and walked along interviewing Marshall. Then two different sets of people cheered him on. One guy came running from his back yard with his dog and said that his dog wanted to meet Marshall. It was a really cute Yellow Labrador Retriever. Marshall said it made him miss his dog Moxie.

The dirt road we were running on was really steep. My Garmin showed a total ascent of 1460 feet with a total descent of 653 feet. Mile 4 was a 420 foot climb. I loved being able to run at night. It's really not safe to run in the dark here at home by myself. But on our run with Marshall, there was one other runner plus an entire Running America crew following along. It was completely safe!
Photos: Running America Album
Colorado Run 3: 10/02/08 Thursday AM
Location: Steamboat Springs, CO
Distance: 9.52 miles
Route: Yampa River Trail
Elevation: Min: 6686 ft; Max: 6788 ft.
Notes: Ran along the Yampa River Trail again. I am starting to adjust to the altitude a little better, as well as learn the entry points of the trail. I discovered I could get on the trail just by running from my hotel (very convenient). It also is longer than I originally thought. There are all kinds of places to turn off and run on dirt trails or to take an underpass and explore the trails on the other side of the main highway. I definitely want to go back (perhaps the Steamboat Marathon) and explore the running trails more.
Photos: SteamboatSprings Album
Colorado Run 4: 10/03/08 Friday PM with Marshall Ulrich
Location: Poudre Canyon Hwy in Bellvue, CO (starting at 8 PM)
Distance: 10 miles
Route: Poudre Park to Ted's Place (part of Colorado Marathon route)
Elevation: Min:5226 ft; Max: 5892 ft. (downhill)
Notes: Evening run with Marshall Ulrich in his Run Across America. Around 8 PM Marshall ran by the intersection where three other runners (Doug Douillard, Heidi, and her son) and myself joined him. It was dark, so my photos didn't turn out too well. But Doug took a great one when Marshall stopped at the RV. Another runner joined us at the RV. He was in the Air Force and going to school at CSU. He was camping in the mountains when Marshall ran by the day before, so he signed up to run with Marshall the next day. He was a really nice guy - can't remember his name...maybe Doug will remember. The lady that ran with us actually worked at the same hospital as Doug in the same department but on a different floor. They didn't even know they worked together until they talked about where they worked. She and her son ran about a mile with us and then turned around because her daughter was waiting in the car for her.

There wasn't a shoulder on the Poudre Canyon Highway, so we ran single file for a lot of the run. After about 10 miles, we stopped at a convenience store and two of Marshall's friends took Doug and myself back to our cars. It was really nice of them - we would have had to run along the Canyon road in the dark otherwise. Another crew member moved the Air Force guy's car for him so it would be near where he finished. That was really nice of them to do that for us - the web site specifically states we have to provide our own transportation back to our cars, but they helped us out. That allowed us to run more miles with Marshall in his record breaking Run Across America.

We received t-shirts that said we ran with Marshall and we also received some wonderful Sombra gel from the massage therapist that was on his crew. On this run, one of Marshall's ultra running friends that had won the Leadville Ultra (Theresa Daus-Weber) showed up and offered to help crew. Several other friends of Marshall showed up to give their support and encouragement. What a great group of people!
Photos: Running America Album  Poudre Canyon Album
Colorado Run 5: 10/04/08 Saturday afternoon with Marshall Ulrich
Location: Briggsdale, CO (starting at Crow Valley Park)
Distance:12.3 miles
Route:  Briggsdale, CO (intersection of CR-77 and CO-14)
Elevation: Min: 4823 ft; Max: 4977 ft.
Notes: Afternoon run with Marshall Ulrich. After spending time in Fort Collins, I headed to the Running Across America designated meeting point. This time no other runners showed up. That surprised me, but it was probably that the location was a little far out for many people. I was a little concerned about running back to my car alone in the dark on a secluded country road. The spot tracker on the Running America web site showed Marshall about 12 miles out.

Instead of waiting for him to arrive at the designated meeting spot, I decided to run towards him until I met up with him (miles 1-6 above) and then run back with him until I reached my car (miles 7-12 above). When I ran towards Marshall, I didn't realize that they were filming. I just barged right in. He and his crew were gracious as always. They hadn't been filming on my previous runs with him, so I didn't expect it. His ultrarunning friend Glen Turner was running with him and telling a story to the camera.

I'm outgoing until I'm on camera, and then all of a sudden I can't think of a thing to say. When they asked me (on camera) how running had changed my life, I couldn't think of anything profound/eloquent to say. I'm not really sure what I said. I'm pretty sure I looked/sounded like an idiot, but lucky for me they have the right to cut anything they don't like.
Photos: Running America Album
Colorado Run 6: 10/05/08 Sunday around Noon with Doug Douillard
Location: Estes Park, CO (starting at Lake Shore Lodge during Elk Fest)
Distance: 10 miles
Route: Poudre Park to Ted's Place (part of Colorado Marathon route)
Elevation: Min:7448 ft; Max: 7582 ft.
Notes: Early afternoon run around Lake Estes with Doug Douillard (another Run America runner) during Elk Fest. This was about 2000 feet higher than Fort Collins/Briggsdale. I noticed the altitude immediately after starting running. But it was absolutely one of the most beautiful places I have ever run. If I win the lottery, I want to live in Estes Park! They had to close the golf course because the elk (shown in the photo below) decided to take it over. I think they look better on the course than a bunch of golfers anyway :)
Photos: Estes Park Album    Rocky Mountain National Park Album