March Madness Animal House Fundraiser

For the past year I’ve been volunteering for Animal House helping to take some of their more active, energetic dogs out on runs a couple times every week. And over the past few years, I’ve continued to find fun and interesting ways to challenge myself and push the limits of my running ability. But other than running local 5k charity races and chipping in a few bucks for dozens of different Teams In Training, Fight for Air Republic Stair Climbers, or any other odd fund raiser like Runners Without Borders and the HPBT, I’ve never actually organized a fundraiser myself. Running is definitely an effective way to raise money so I figured I’d finally put my miles to good use and try to raise some funds for Animal House.

The plan is pretty simple. I’m putting my entire running volume up for pledging for the month of March.

My goal for March is to run as much as I possibly can.

My biggest month of mileage so far has been 500.5 miles. I think with a consistent focus on daily volume over the full 31 days of March, 600 miles should be a reasonable target to aim for.

And just to make sure I don’t get lazy and run a ton of easy road miles all month, I will welcome pledges for total vertical feet or specific challenges. The only restriction is that I won’t be running very fast this month so pledges related to any speed performance at races or time trials won’t be very helpful.

I will consider any reasonable challenge for volume and difficulty. And I’ll probably even consider most unreasonable challenges for volume and difficulty too:-)

My only rules and limitations are that I need to stay healthy and uninjured to continue to run every day, I need to keep up with my full time work schedule, and all miles will be outdoors – treadmills don’t count. I won’t be doing any huge 24 hour or 100 mile efforts that will require too much time to recover from. My longer runs will be around 30-40 miles and I probably won’t run any single day over 50-60 miles. I also plan to keep up with my volunteer running and will aim to get out with the shelter dogs for at least 3-4 runs per week.

Here are some stats for a frame of reference for pledges.

Largest Month: 500.5 miles
Largest Week: 222 Miles
Recent volume: Feb – 273.25, Jan – 274, Dec – 322, Nov – 328.75, Oct 405

Vertical PRs:
Largest Month: 89,667ft
Largest Week: 43,935ft
Recent Volume: Feb – 25,380ft, Jan – 32,503ft, Dec – 42,294ft, Nov – 59,876ft
Greyrock: 6 loops. 45.25 miles, 15,361ft, 13 Hours 59 Minutes
Sanitas: 13 loops. 40 miles, 17,339ft, 14 Hours 24 Minutes.

Some ideas for pledges:

  • Cents per Mile (i.e. 5 cents would be $20 at 400 miles, $25 at 500 miles, $30 at 600 miles)
  • Flat Donation for a specific goal (i.e. X dollars for 500 miles, X dollars for 600 miles, etc.)
  • Dollars per 1,000 Vertical Feet (i.e. 50 Cents per thousand would be $20 at 40,000ft, $30 at 60,000ft, $45 at 90,000ft)
  • Dollars per local Peak (Horsetooth, Arthur’s, Greyrock, Round Mtn)
  • Dollars per mile or per dog that I run with from Animal House

Feel free to be creative and set limitations if you need to place a cap on your maximum donation.

If you’re short on funds and still want to contribute to the cause, come run with me!

I already have several offers to help drag me out for 5am and 6am starts before work. With the volume of miles I’ll be running, I’m sure that at some point during the month, I’ll have an opportunity to run with anyone who wants to join me.

To send me a pledge or invite me out for a run, email me at:

I will publish all pledges and fundraising totals in a Google spreadsheet online here. My mileage and vertical will be recorded based on the measurements from my Polar G3 GPS. My daily running log will be updated regularly on Attackpoint and I will post regular blog updates with my weekly progress.

Click here for a current list of pledges and progress.

Moab Red Hot 55k – 2012

This year’s Moab Red Hot 55k was the perfect way to kick off 2012. We had the most incredible weather in Moab this last weekend – the best since I first ran the race in 2008. The course was in great condition with fewer soft sandy stretches than I remember last year and the jeep road sections were really nicely packed, smooth, and fast. But as usual, the Moab Red Hot course delivered plenty of punishing technical slickrock and terrible course markings to make things interesting. This year’s course flagging was a pink and black striped pattern. The pink blended in nicely with the red rock background and in the right shadows, the black striping made the flags almost completely invisible.

Going into the race, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but hoped to break 4:30. So I figured I’d just go out, push hard, and see what happens.

From the start, Shannon took the lead and a chase pack of about half a dozen other guys fell in behind at a brisk pace. After a few miles, the pack thinned out and other than a couple words exchanged with Karl around mile 2, I pretty much ran the entire race solo. I was a little disappointed that Slush couldn’t make it out for the race this year – it’s always so much more fun to run these events with good friends to pace with.

Moab Red Hot 55k Start (Photo by Chris Hinds)

From the start my legs felt pretty weak on the climbs and my quads didn’t feel up to really hammering the downhills very hard. But I managed to catch up with Shannon on the ridge at the top of Metal Masher and pulled ahead on the next downhill into the second aid station. And none of the other guys from our starting pack looked like they were catching up.

The jeep road going back down on the back stretch of the first loop was much, much easier without the nasty headwinds that hit us last year so I made good time back to the base of Gold Bar. I figured Shannon or some of the other fast guys would catch back up but by the time I started the climb up onto the second section of slickrock, there wasn’t anyone in sight behind me.

I kept my momentum all the way up to the aid station at the top of Gold Bar. I caught up with Stephen on the way up the climb. He was having some bad muscle cramps and I gave him a spare S-cap and continued up the hill.

After the Gold Bar aid station, I started to fall apart. Last year I remember running this section of slickrock from mile 21 to 28 much better. I think the flagging may have been a bit more noticeable and last year I remember seeing more 33k runners spread out at convenient intervals to help spot the route. This year I ended up out on my own through most of this section and I kept losing sight of the flagging and had to come to a complete stop to look around about half a dozen times. My quads were already fried so it was really hard to keep stopping and starting and changing direction. I was pretty sure that someone would easily catch up with me before I made it back out of the slickrock. Looking back at my 2011 splits, I only ran this section 27 seconds slower so I guess I didn’t do quite as poorly as it felt.

Running across this slickrock is brutal but the scenery is incredible. (Photo by Laura Backus)

33k runners on the slick rock "trail" (Photo by Kristen Alvarez)

After I made it past the last aid station and out of the worst of the slickrock, my legs were completely trashed. For the last 5 miles, I just kept my focus cranking my legs over. I didn’t have any final finish kick left in me but I managed to hold on and grind out the last few miles to finish in 4:35. Good enough for 5th place and a new PR by 9 minutes and 13 seconds.

The final push to the finish line. (Photo by Chris Hinds)

While the end result turned out extremely well, I can’t say that this was my best run. Running fast and running well aren’t always the same. I managed to finish well and did the best I could with the training and preparation I had going into the race. So I don’t have any complaints or regrets. My speed on the flats was better than it’s ever been. And this was the first race I’ve run where I’ve been able to consistently get down a high volume of calories – 800 calories from start to finish. My friends over at Vi Endurance have developed a pretty good formula and I’m really happy to finally have something that I can run with that doesn’t make me want to vomit. I’m just a bit disappointed in my hill climbing and technical downhill running – it just wasn’t up to the level that I’m used to running. But it’s February and I have the next 3 months to get back in top shape for the Bighorn 100. So after this weekend, the rest of 2012 looks very promising.

It's always a good sign that you ran a hard race when gravel feels comfortable. (Photo by Stephanie Lynn)


The best part of the event - just a few of the FCTR's at the race. (Photo by Jennifer Swanson)




Wow! Another year has gone buy and I can’t say that I have any regrets that I missed out on anything or could of, should of, would have done anything differently.

By the numbers:

  • 4,100 Miles – 400 more than 2010 …like adding a 13th full month of training.
  • 700,404 Vertical Feet – 164,638ft more than in 2010 …which is more than I ran in my first year of running in 2007.
  • 494 runs in 365 consecutive days. Today will be my 414th day of my current streak.

Behind the numbers, these last 4,100 miles have been a grand total of 862 hours, 59 minutes, and 51 seconds of fun and adventure, quality time with my best friends, and personal time with myself and my dogs.

Sheba turned 11 this year and has really slowed down but still managed to run 467.25 miles with me. I finally had to start splitting Baxter and Sheba up on runs and ran an extra 113.25 miles with Baxter. Most days we start together and I’ll turn back to drop off Sheba after 1 to 3 miles before heading back out on the trail for a longer run with Baxter. It’s been a bit sad to see Sheba slow down and start showing her age and I’m sure Baxter isn’t too far behind. These two are the reason I started to run.

Since Baxter and Sheba don’t run with me every day any more, I started volunteering for Animal House to take their shelter dogs out for exercise, training, and socialization a couple times per week. In the past year, I ran 305.25 miles with Alphie, Angel, Benji, Benny, Buzz, Byron, Chief, Draco, Empress, Frieda, Happy, Harley, Jill, Kendall, Leon, Max, Mia, Mickey, Misty, Nitro, Paul, Raquel, Rocket, Rocky, Trish, Xara, and Zorro. Fortunately most of these dogs have gone to permanent homes already. Alphie, Chief, Nitro, and Harley are still available. For 2012 I hope to do more to help Animal House. Kim, Ali, and I are already brain storming about possible challenges and fundraising events.

I did pretty well racing in 2011. The Hardrock 100 was by far the experience of a lifetime. I had a rough time at the race but ended up finishing well. But what was most memorable was spending the most amazing week in Silverton with my mom and my best friends.

I ran new PR’s at Ghost Town and the Moab Red Hot 55k and I won my first race at the Antelope Island 100k. I dropped my Towers PR down to 32:24, ran my first sub 5min mile ever, took over a minute off my Thanksgiving 4 Mile time in 23:22. And I even dropped my 5k PR under 18 minutes to run 17:56 in my last run of the year at the Resolution 5k.

But I think I enjoyed pacing and crewing at events just as much as I’ve enjoyed running my own races. I’ve had a lot of help from a lot of great friends over the years and am glad that I finally had a chance to try to return the favor. I’ve also learned that pacing is incredibly hard ….and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best pacer ever. I can’t sing like Celeste. I don’t think I’d have the same effect wearing a tutu like Tressa. And I don’t have Eric’s unique ability to cheerfully maintain a one-sided monolog for over 12 hours, overnight, after running around crewing and volunteering all day. But I hope that I managed to play a role helping David finish his first double ironman triathlon and getting Eric to the finish line of the Bear 100. Unfortunately Victoria and Mike didn’t make it to the finish line at Bighorn and Leadville this year but both made very wise decisions to stop before seriously hurting themselves. I’m sure both will be back even stronger next year.

Outside of race events, I finally got a chance to do some more exploring.

I had the opportunity to knock out a few more fourteeners while helping to crew Eric’s epic journey over 9 fourteeners on the Nolans’s 14 route. Only a handful of people have finished the entire Nolans 14 route and I don’t think anyone has completed 9 or more since 2003. If Eric has the time in his schedule to attempt the full route next year, I’m sure he can do it and I will definitely be there to help – it’s be quite an accomplishment that I won’t want to miss out on.

And I finally crossed the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim run off my list. This was such a fun trip with great friends and I can’t wait to go on new adventures to explore more amazing places. Hopefully Zion, Bryce, Escalante, and a few other parks will fit into my travel plans in 2012.

The Blue Sky Marathon was another huge success this year and Nick and I started a new race business to launch the Quad Rock 50, Fort Collins’ first 50 mile trail race. We still have a LOT of work to do to pull this event off but it’s been very exciting to see our plans start to come together. It’s only the start of January and we already have 102 registrations!

I also started coaching this last year and had a lot of fun helping my friends meet their racing goals. I’m really looking forward to continuing to help my friends in 2012 with strong finishes at Western States, the new Steamboat 100, and the Vermont 100 with some new PR’s along the way.

Next up for 2012…… I haven’t set many plans in place yet but the Bighorn 100 will be my major goal race. I really love this event and after taking a pretty good beating in my 2009 finish, I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do out there with 2 more years of experience under my belt. On the way to Bighorn, I hope to run new PR’s at the Moab Red Hot 55k and Colorado Marathon. And pending lottery results, I’d like to finally go back to the Northwest to run the Cascade Crest 100. I spent 8 years living in Seattle – mostly as an out-of-shape work-a-holic and never really got to fully enjoy the incredible outdoor environments. Hopefully this year I’ll have an opportunity to go and take a proper tour of the Cascades.

And speaking of running in 2012, I need to get after it. It’s warm and sunny in Fort Collins today and I’d better get out on the trails before the next snow storm comes through this evening.

Chief, Draco, Nitro, Raquel, and Zorro

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted about any Animal House dogs. Since I last worked with Mickey, Animal House has been turning over a lot of adoptions so I really haven’t spent a lot of time running with any one particular dog. Over the past few months Angel, Rocky, Kendal, Benny, Xara, Buzz, Benji, Happy, and Frieda have all been adopted.

But here are a few great dogs who are still stuck at the shelter. I’ve spent some time with each of these dogs and really think they’d make great companions with the right owner.

Chief (Photo from Animal House)

Chief has been at the shelter since last July. I’ve been out running with him a couple times and he learns very quickly and really wants to work with you. He gets very attached to people and has some separation anxiety issues so he’d probably be best with someone who can spend more time at home with him. His only other issue is purely cosmetic. You can’t tell from the photos but half of his hair is missing. Evidently it’s a genetic condition, blue hair alopecia, so other than regular brushing and feeding him high quality food, there isn’t anything you can do about it. Anyone willing to take home the funny looking dog that no one else wants is going to end up with an incredibly loyal companion.

Draco is one of my all time favorites. Animal House brought him in from some other shelter that wasn’t feeding their dogs enough and when I first met him, he was all skin and bones. He’s super friendly and loves treats and attention so he was very easy to work with. He loves to run and the first time I took him out on the trails, he just fell in naturally to bound along at my side. He’s in a foster home now and is doing extremely well learning basic commands. He’s even learning how to run nicely next to a bike. The only problem is his name. I guess the volunteers were on a Harry Potter streak assigning names and he got stuck with the mean kid’s name. It really doesn’t suit his personality. His foster mom has been calling him Drake which is a bit better.

Skinny Draco happy to be out on his first run at Reservoir Ridge.

Draco looking much better at his foster home. (Photo from his foster mom, Abby)

Nitro (Photo from Animal House)

Nitro is another one who could use a better name. Kim asked me to take him out for the first time just a couple days after I ran the Antelope Island 100k. My legs were still pretty wobbly from the race and with a name like Nitro, I expected to get dragged all over Reservoir Ridge. But Nitro turned out to be a pretty good dog. We had a bumpy start …mostly because it didn’t seem like he’d had any practice on leash and didn’t quite know how to behave. But once we got things sorted out, he was really easy to run with. He has a lot of energy and has plenty of moments when he gets super excited and occasionally spins around in circles. But he responds really well to both positive and negative voice commands. Just tell him NO when he’s in mid-jump and he’ll actually stop himself and settle down ….my own dogs won’t even do that once they get wound up! I think he’ll do extremely well if anyone takes the time to pay attention to him and give him consistent directions. Nitro is living with a foster right now and is doing great. He gets along with another dog in the house and chases the cats around, but not maliciously. For a lab mix, he’s on the small side so I think he’d be a great dog to take anywhere traveling around running, hiking, and camping.

Raquel has a ton of energy but is really very easy to run with. She’s very responsive and loves attention and treats so she’s super easy to train. I honestly have no idea why she’s still at the shelter. Other than her high energy, she has a pretty impressive vertical leap …maybe she’d make a great frisbee dog? She’ll be a lot of fun for anyone who stays active and runs and hikes regularly.


Zorro really shoudn’t be on this list of dogs that have been difficult to adopt out. He’s hands down the best behaved dog that I’ve run with yet. He walks and runs on a slack leash at your hip and pays attention to voice commands. He’ll follow behind you on narrow single track and if you tell him to go, he’ll run out in front as fast as you want to go. But he doesn’t pull and will come right back to your hip as soon as you tell him slow down. (I would love to try skijoring with him!) He knows how to sit and he is very patient and gentle taking treats. He hasn’t quite mastered “down” yet but he will gladly roll over for a tummy rub. For a Malamute mix, he’s really quite calm and gentle …definitely not your typical alpha dog. But despite his nearly perfect behavior and temperament, it’ll probably take some effort to find him the perfect home just because he’s a Malamute and it’ll take a lot of work to take care of him. He’ll need a lot of exercise, he’ll shed a ton, he’ll be miserable in our summer heat, and he sings. But anyone who thinks these are all lame excuses to pass up a perfectly good dog is going to love this guy.


If anyone is interested in adopting any of these dogs, please contact Animal House. The Animal House staff will have a lot more detailed information about each dog. Nitro and Draco are currently living in foster homes and Chief has been in and out of fosters homes and is currently back at the shelter. Some have even worked with volunteer trainers.

I would be happy to answer any questions as well. And anyone interested in meeting a dog to can always come out and join our Fort Collins Trail Runners social at 6pm every Tuesday at Reservoir Ridge. I always bring a dog from Animal House to the run.

365 Days

I just finished my first year of streaking today.

  • 365 days
  • 491 runs
  • 4,124.50 miles
  • 690,726 feet

I’m looking forward to day 366 tomorrow.