Business Travel and Triathlon Training: Denver

Last week, I hit the road again, this time for the Planningness conference in Denver, CO. Finding time to train, regardless of how busy I am while traveling is becoming critical as Ironman Arizona draws closer and the time left to prepare gets tighter. From all I’ve heard about Colorado, I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult a place to accomplish this. The only challenge I thought might present itself would be the fact that I would be staying in Downtown and wouldn’t have access to a car.

I arrived at the Denver airport at around 3:00 p.m. and caught a cab from the airport to downtown, driving across some surprisingly flat terrain and recall quoting Lloyd Christmas to myself, saying “that John Denver’s full of shit, man.” Where were all the mountains?

Arriving at the Sheraton downtown, I checked into my room and asked the front desk for the best running routes around town. I was told to make my way over to the Cherry Creek Trail right next to the Denver Convention Center where I would find miles of trail following Cherry Creek.

I started my run out of the hotel lobby and made it to the trail in just a few minutes. When I got to it, I was pleasantly surprised with a creek just below street level that had a nice bike/pedestrian path with ample room for runners, walkers and cyclists… and there were plenty. The people of Denver were out in full force exercising, commuting, and just enjoying the nice Fall weather. Heading Southeast on the trail took me upstream and I continued on the trail for 4 miles until I arrived at a Whole Foods.

I decided to stop into the Whole Foods for a gel and a water bottle that I could carry with me because seriously, Denver is DRY, my throat was parched. Another thing about Whole Foods in Denver is that I discovered my people. If I cruise the Whole Foods in Irvine, CA near my home, I feel out of place because my car, clothes, cosmetic surgery experience, and Whole Foods bill itself just don’t matchup to those around me. But in Denver, this didn’t feel like the case, the guy behind me in line had ridden his bike to the store and had just purchased the largest bag of granola I have ever seen.

After paying for my goods, I ran out the door and headed back downstream and back to my hotel. In total I got in a 9 mile run and really enjoyed the whole experience. Were I to have had a car, I would have tried to head out of town for a trail run in the closest mountains 10 or 20 miles away.

The next day I was fully engaged in the Planningness conference (which if you happen to be a strategist, digital strategist, or just love to learn and do cool stuff, is the best conference you could possibly attend) so I didn’t have time to train. After enjoying an amazing dinner after the conference, I headed back to my hotel room and logged into (United States Masters Swim) and checked out the “Places to Swim” link for pools and Masters teams in Denver. I found the University of Denver pool on the list and checked their schedule to make sure I would be able to get a lane at the times I was available.

After day two of the conference, I caught a cab to the University of Denver, paid a $10 guest fee to get into the fitness center and found my way to the pool. It is a great looking Olympic 50 meter by 25 yard indoor pool that is part of the same building housing a bunch of other sporting facilities, including a hockey arena, full gym, basketball courts, volleyball courts, and with soccer and lacrosse fields just outside… very cool.

Once I made my way to the pool, I jumped in, only had to share a lane with one other guy and managed to get in 4,000 yards before needing to had back into Downtown Denver to grab my bags and head for the airport.

Training in a place far away is never quite as convenient as home, and there always seem to be distractions, but Denver is definitely a place that you can pull it off.

The next installment of Business Travel and Triathlon Training should be about Chicago in a couple weeks. That should be a fun one, as I will have to train extra hard to make up for all of the food I am gonna eat in that town.


Sufferfest 2010: 24 Hours of Adrenalin, 8 Hour Solo

Last Fall my friend Jeff and I participated in an 8 Hour Duo race at the 24 Hours of Adrenalin at Hurkey Creek near Idyllwild, CA. In that race, Jeff and I took turns making laps around the 9.75 mile course before the 8 hour time limit ran out. Between the two of us, we made 8 laps on the 1,320′ gain course and came in 9th place.

Well this year, as I am in preparation for Ironman Arizona, I have been looking for fun ways to mix up my long distance training, because lets be honest… sometimes it can get boring, so I decided to head back up to Hurkey Creek for this year’s race but decided to do the 8 hour solo instead.

This year, myself, and two teammates, Jeff and Travis from Team Poseidon all decided to do the 8 Hour solo race, assisted by our canine mascot, Pumpkin, and crew chief and wife, Elise Wallace. The race started at Noon and then we would proceed to race the 9.75 mile loop as fast as we could until the eight hour time limit ran out. Technically the time limit is at 8:30, allowing you to start your last lap any time before 8:00 p.m. but you must be able to finish before 8:30.

The night before the race, I prepared my gear, my lights, and my nutrition. Check out this spread… and that doesn’t even include the real food, consisting of a two PB&Js, a turkey sandwich, salt & vinegar potato chips, and mini Cokes.

At noon on the dot, the race started with a LeMans-style start with all racers on foot. The run course did a 600 meter loop through the campground and then ended back through the timing tent where we mounted our bikes. Last year, I did the Lemans start for my two man team with Jeff, and had the not-so-bright idea to run it barefoot. I thought to myself, “I’m a triathlete, I can run barefoot into transition, and crush all of these cyclists.” I did have a lightning fast run, but it was longer than I thought, ran partly on rough asphalt and gave me the gnarliest blisters on my feet for the next couple of weeks that were so bad I could barely walk… lesson learned, I wore shoes this year. I made quick work of this year’s run and got onto my bike.

The course winds through campgrounds for a quarter mile before hitting single track and then quickly getting into a two mile long climb. This climb is toughest on the first lap because there are so many racers all starting at the same time. Getting stuck in a long line of climbers doesn’t help. Once through the first climb, I was able to pick up the pace. I was trying to be conservative on the first few laps to make sure I left enough in the tank to handle the 8 hour long race, but still managed to put down a 56 minute first lap.

Laps one through three were all pretty similar, and I was making great time. About half way through the third lap is when my teammate, Travis caught up with me. He was looking strong and slowly pedaled away from me as I was starting to have some breathing trouble and was fading a bit. I made it through lap three and stopped briefly at my pit where crew chief Elise hooked me up with necessary hydration and food. She told me then that I was looking a little shaky and maybe needed to rest for a bit, but I didn’t listen and headed back out onto the course.

By the end of lap 4, I wasn’t breathing well, and took her advice to take a rest. I decided to rest as long as necessary for the ibuprofen to kick in for my lungs and for my stomach to settle. About ten minutes after I sat down, my teammate Jeff came into the pit. He said he was having some cramping issues and was planning on chillin’ for a little while… fine with me.

We hung out for another 30 minutes or so and then decided to head out and do our fifth lap together. We rode it together and kept an easy to moderate pace. Jeff was having some trouble with the small ring on his crankset, forcing him to spend more time in the middle ring, further aggravating his cramps so he never fully looked as strong as we knew he could be. Towards the end of the fifth lap, his cramping came back and I left him to work out his cramps. I came through my pit without stopping, just slowing down enough to trade a bottle and grab a gel and a Clif bar.

At this point I was really starting to feel my second wind coming on.  I got it in my head that if I rode hard and consistent enough, I could probably get two more laps in and salvage some of the time lost during the long break after lap 4. I was feeling great, motoring over all of the tough technical climbs and making pretty good work of the descents.

When I came through my pit after lap 6, I yelled to Elise to grab a me a bottle and a Livewire caffeinated energy chew and meet me on the other side of the timing tent. If I was going to make a 7th lap before the time cutoff, I couldn’t afford to waste any time. By this point it was totally dark out so I was grateful I had taken the time to throw on my light before I started lap 5 and didn’t have to worry about it now.

I went as hard as was necessary for lap 7, made all of the tough climbs, descended well in

the dark, and then with about 2.5 miles to go, I was taking a sandy corner as hard as I could and washed out into the sand. Luckily the fall wasn’t bad and it only wasted a few seconds but it was enough to worry me just a tad. I didn’t want to trust my watch so I just assumed I had to go fast as hell from there on out to complete my seventh lap before the time cut off.

I ended up coming across the line with 5 minutes to spare to an awaiting wife/crew chief, dog, and a couple of great teammates. It was a great day. If I had to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t have changed a thing… except for maybe how long I took during my break after lap four. But even still, that rest was pretty beneficial.

My final result was a 6th place finish, completing seven laps in 8 hours and 25 minutes. That made for 68 miles and 9,240 feet of pretty technical climbing.

My official splits were:

Skyler Wallace

Lap 1   :56

Lap 2   1:01

Lap 3   1:05

Lap 4   1:57   (this lap includes the 40 minute rest)

Lap 5   1:10

Lap 6   1:06

Lap 7   1:08

I had a blast at this race and look forward to doing it again. My team, Team Poseidon had a great showing in the 8 hour solo category as well. Travis Clater was on the podium in third place with 7 laps in 7:27, and Jeff Lewis made the top ten with 6 laps in 7:29. I’ll definitely be back next year to improve my time or maybe even try my legs at the 24 hour solo division. I’m inspired now after watching the movie 24 Solo fifteen times and by fellow Orange County man and Troupe Racing team member, Mykyta Yurtyn who took first place with 16 laps at this year’s race.

I wasn’t the only one worn out from the race: