Sunday, March 3, 2013

"A warning shot across the bow"

"During the 18th Century, a warning shot (in nautical terms, often called a shot across the bow) could be fired towards any ship whose "colours" (nationality) had to be ascertained. According to the law of the sea, a ship thus hailed had to fly her flag and confirm it with a gunshot. Warning shots may still be used in modern times to signal a vessel to stop or keep off and may be fired from other ships, boats, or aircraft."  Wikipedia

My warning shot this week was to alert my body of the incredible intensity that is to come starting in about 3 weeks. After 16 miles and 6000' of vertical at Rapid River, I found myself back at the old standbye measuring stick...the Jim Jones Kool Aid Hill! The place of toil and sweat and pain. The place I have been dreading to compare my current fitness to my personal record time of 7:26. I remember how bad that effort hurt and how deep I dug to attain it last year. Was I up to the ego check it was sure to bestow upon me now? Only one way to find out. The ego was bracing for failure and already had the excuse ready of the tired state it was in from the hills it had been climbing all day.

All this drama for 3/4 mile...

I remembered my strategy from last year...easy to the 1/4 mile tree at the trail more than 160 HR to there. Let the HR go up to 165 through the mid-point easier grades, then all out to the grave...a la muerte. I began what felt like a really slow cadence up the opening steeps toward the fork- 15-20% grade for a short pitch.  HR rose to 155 and energy already was tanking. Low HR and high perceived exertion (PE) is a definite sign of exhaustion, so things were not looking good- the ego was making concessions with each step.  The HR stuck there as I worked harder and sweat streaked my face, so maybe I could break 8 minutes today.  That would be a victory- right?  The ego and its 100 heads are so sneaky in the way they convince you that GOOD is good enough.  But GOOD is the arch enemy of GREAT.  It is settling for GOOD that makes GREAT unreachable for us.  I fought this battle 3 times already in the first 1/4 mile.  This is why I love running so much.  Nowhere to hide.  You either do it or you don't.  

You either talk about it, or you BE ABOUT IT.  

Suddenly, I realized during all this thinking that the next 1/4 mile had slipped past and my stride was really long.  It still felt slow, but the knees were coming up, the hip extension was solid and I was making 5-6 foot strides.  Maybe 7:40 was possible?  That would set me up to PR within the next month!

Then, I tasted it.  Acrid bile and copper coin flavor.  The ammonia smell in my nostrils of Anaerobia...the state of cardiovascular pain that I haven't enjoyed since last autumn.  Careful Jerful.  A quick check of the vitals...shins are cool, calves are good.  The T2K's are flying.  That last Vi gel I took seems to be burning hot.  100 yards and this thing is toast.  A marker in the sand to build on.  7:30 will be mine.

I pushed and swung my arms.  All that pool running I've been doing had a noticeable effect on the velocity of my arm swings- they felt like pistons.  HR up to 170.  Pretty high for me.  I panted and hacked as the breaths became less and less useful.  I rounded the crest of the hill and loped towards the grave for the final 30 yards and stabbed at the lap button...7:05.  A proper warning shot.  21 seconds shaved off the PR...a 5% improvement.  Now the task of convincing the ego that it can go 6:30 by June.

Lots happening this week, but my camera is really crapping out so the pics don't do it justice. I'm sending it to Panasonic for some warranty service- so no pics for a while.  Getting really hungry to go fast.  I'm probably racing later this month- low-key.  More on that soon.

  Got some verty on the Treadmill this week.  Been mixing many more strides and fartleks into the base runs as the time nears for speedwork.  3 strength/stability/core sessions and 4 hours of shoveling on top of this.  I'll take it.  

Rapid River TH
Few climbing pics from Red Rocks.  


  1. You either talk about it, or you BE ABOUT IT.

    Love that. Well done.

  2. Thanks, GZ.

    Forgot to mention, I ran right up on a wolf just 1 mile from the Rapid River Trailhead. I had my iPod on, and the river beside me was raging, so it was super loud in there. I heard this sound like boulders were rolling down the river. I looked to my right and a big gray Lobo was tearing ass across the thigh deep water, not breaking stride. Boulders were in fact being dislodged from his powerful running. He climbed the 30 deg hill above the bank for a few hundred vertical feet and was gone before I could blink, let alone take a picture. I saw tracks all day...basically everywhere I would see deer and elk sign, they were close by. The deer and elk winter in there and that makes winter the fattening time for wolves.

  3. I was seriously tempted to drag out an 80s song about wolf hunger.

    More seriously, while I have heard of coyote on human attacks (even in my town), I imagine they are pretty rare with humans? (I guess I could look that up).

    1. Yes, Duran Duran knows exactly how hungry wolves are.

      I have spoken with several game officials and wildlife researchers about wolf attacks. They have unanimously stated that no attack has ever occurred on a human. Everyone has an agenda on this, but I tended to trust the credibility of at least one of these people. However, if you ask anyone who "hates" wolves, they all have been surrounded by them and had to shoot their way out. They all know someone who has watched wolves kill entire herds of elk just for sport- didn't even eat them, etc. I have heard this BS story from several people. They also claim that the wolves were stocked from giant Yukon wolves reaching over 250lbs, not the smaller native Yellowstone wolves that the government approved for re-introduction. Game officials deny all of this. The extreme hardliners have shirts that looks like a Marlboro ad, reading "I smoke a pack a day" and there are cross hairs on a wolf.

      My encounters have been fleeting and very special. I have been close to 5 of them and seen tracks on most of my runs in the mountains. You see them out of the corner of your eye as a flash. Focus quickly, because they will be gone in a second. They seem to hate humans even more than the ungulates. The attacks I do know about have been on people's dogs- like coyotes, bears and lions. For this reason (and rattlesnakes) I strongly discourage anyone from bringing a dog into the mountains of Idaho.

      I really love the wolves. However, I feel they were left un-hunted for a few years too long and their numbers exceeded what officials intended. For that reason, I bought a wolf tag last year. I felt responsible for helping to reign them in, with as much time I spend out there- even if my chances were slim to none with a bow. I failed to have a single encounter last hunting season. I recon they are quite skittish to let humans anywhere near them now after being rifle hunted for a year, so sightings should be harder to come by now. I'm not getting a tag this year.

  4. Replies
    1. Someday, I'll get lucky and catch one with my camera. I'll send you the pic for your blog header. I hope it's a black one- like the Gmork...

  5. My favorite part of this post:

    "The ego and its 100 heads are so sneaky in the way they convince you that GOOD is good enough. But GOOD is the arch enemy of GREAT. It is settling for GOOD that makes GREAT unreachable for us. I fought this battle 3 times already in the first 1/4 mile. This is why I love running so much. Nowhere to hide. You either do it or you don't. You either talk about it, or you BE ABOUT IT."

    I'm working to mentally pump myself the next two weeks. This is the exact kind of stuff that I love to read about and see unfold. You inspire me to carry on, regardless of circumstances. More often than not, when I am slipping into that "good is good enough" place, it's the tape reel in my mind that's etched it's way in to a groove....a groove that's gotta go! Thanks for the post Jeremy.

  6. I always love reading your posts Jer. You write very well with a style that inspires and leaves desire in one's soul. Rock on buddy :)

  7. Definitely appreciate the bit about the ego and its 100 heads. Wrestled with that in Georgia big time this past weekend. Great PR run too - I'd be curious to hear more about the base work and build up to more intense work and what those sessions will look like (I've never had any sort of organized, but found I crushed my PR on the hill by my school (nothing like the one you're running!) after ditching my watch for a couple of months from September - November). Keep at it and stay strong.

  8. Come on Jeremy, Jornet could run that hill in 5:49. You have some work to do. Well, while you are tackling the trails, I'm perfecting my road running skills. Jim Jones "koolaid" on the NNU 1/4 mile track. Keep up the good work.