Month: May 2007

At the airport…

If you’ve never flown out of Long Beach on JetBlue, I would highly recommend it — it took a total of 10 minutes from the time I parked at the offsite lot to when I sat down at the gate.  Also, the flights are pretty comfortable — more legroom (although I don’t really need it), and 36 channels of DirecTV. 

I keep feeling like I forgot something important (like my shoes), but am trying not to think about it since it’s too late at this point.  I did (finally!) make a travel/race checklist though, that I hope will come in handy during the rest of my season, but then again, I may have forgotten to put everything on there that I’m going to need.  Well…I’ll find out soon enough I suppose.

So I have 3 goals, depending on how things go during the race.  My ideal “things can’t get any better” goal will be 22 hours.  If my splits start slipping (say that fast 3 times), then my second goal is sub-24.  Then finally, if I end up doing a death march, then it’s going to be the obvious 28 hour cutoff to finish.

Ok…plane’s boarding soon.

Starting to get the pre-race jitters now…

At the airport…

If you’ve never flown out of Long Beach on JetBlue, I would highly recommend it — it took a total of 10 minutes from the time I parked at the offsite lot to when I sat down at the gate.  Also, the flights are pretty comfortable — more legroom (although I don’t really need it), and 36 channels of DirecTV. 

I keep feeling like I forgot something important (like my shoes), but am trying not to think about it since it’s too late at this point.  I did (finally!) make a travel/race checklist though, that I hope will come in handy during the rest of my season, but then again, I may have forgotten to put everything on there that I’m going to need.  Well…I’ll find out soon enough I suppose.

So I have 3 goals, depending on how things go during the race.  My ideal “things can’t get any better” goal will be 22 hours.  If my splits start slipping (say that fast 3 times), then my second goal is sub-24.  Then finally, if I end up doing a death march, then it’s going to be the obvious 28 hour cutoff to finish.

Ok…plane’s boarding soon.

Starting to get the pre-race jitters now…

Message from Dot…

Date:  Mon, 28 May 2007 13:26:25 -0500 (CDT)
Hi all, sorry for the first empty send.  Hopefully this flies.
You are on this list for one of a few reasons: you want to be, you’ve been great support, you are one of my home/work/pet providers, you are a media contact that has shown interest.  I will be honing down (or up) my own personal media blast list.  Some of you are on the Blue Planet Run blast list. That should be working by the end of the week. A new webmaster was hired and has been redoing the entire Blue Planet Run website.  Let me know if you want to be off MY list.  You can sign off the BPR list any time you receive an email and are sick of it.  You can always check on our progress at  After this week, I will still have email contact, although sometimes sporadically, but I’ll have much less time to communicate, so using a list like this allows me to stay in touch more “globally.”  PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO ANYONE YOU THINK WILL BE INTERESTED WHO IS NOT HEREBY INCLUDED.  I don’t have access to every one I might like to tell our story to. Thanks.

With that said,  I am in my third day at the Olympic Training Center for “boot camp” in Lake Placid.  Some of our team members were delayed and our teammate from India has yet to arrive because of some visa difficulties.  Melissa from New Zealand came today. We are in intense training for emergency response, communication, all the logistics, medical,  team massage, team psychology and team building, how to’s of working the technology (cellphones, radios, computers, GPS software – a super challenge for me).  Last night from 8:30 to almost midnight in the cold rain we practiced night-time transitions with all the gear including testing of the GPS and radio contact equipment. We are each running with a communications radio and the baton as well as hydration needs etc. The baton has been redesigned so that it screws apart at the middle and turns into two small vessels to hold water. The incoming runner and out going runner will toast with water in those vessels and drink it before passing off.  Very special, and at each of some 1478 exchange points we will be reciting the special poetic piece in several languages with the theme Water is Life.  I will be reciting in English and German, and perhaps occasionally Spanish. My first reading in Deutsch was difficult but it worked!

I have the time to write now because most of the team is on a tour of lake Placid, the ski jumps, Olympic stadium etc.  Having been here so often, I stole the time to do some stuff on my own. We will have computers with the GPS program in each of our vehicles and be blogging, communicating individually etc. as much as possible. We have over 1,000 events planned along the way, amazing events.  We have a team doctor with amazing credentials.  I’ll have to write down all the details as I go becuase this week we are just being enundated with information.  And lots of media time.  They’ve redone and are redoing all the portrait shots as they have changed the webmaster, now have new outfits, etc.  Kind of a fresh start to the presentation but a good one it seems.  The commitment to the CAUSE is intensely imbedded in everyone we are working with.  They are all passionate, emotional and highly motivated and committed.

We have done some team building exercises that have drawn us all together as a family already.  As the matriarch, it is so amazing to me to experience the youth and the talent of the other runners.  My first subteam is the Green Team. We’re calling it the Vermont Green Team since one of the members with me is Simon Isaacs who grew up in Norwich, Vermont, has been living and working in Rwanda.  The other two members are Jason from BC and Laura from Brazil  We are good together. Read more about them on the website. Amazing personalities, and lots of fun. We will be together as a sub team for at least 15 days.

The Green Team runs from NYC to Boston, I believe, in the third slot. This means we will run from 3pm to 9pm on Friday coming out of New York. We will be staying over in New London Conn. and then after running into Boston will fly immediately to Ireland. We have the day off in Ireland to drive from Shannon across the country to the ferry to the UK.  I’m so excited to have that day time in the Irish countryside, even if it will be mostly in a car. Then we ferry to UK and stay somewhere over there. The details will be on the website, although things like the exact hotel will prbably not be on the public site, just available to us to tell folks like you who might want to come find us on the way. As we go along and start working smoothly, there will be much more flexibility for hooking up with folks.

Again, if you don’t want to be on this list, just let me mknow.  I would appreciate updates from you too.  I did read the VCM results and saw the great performances from so many of our Vermont friends.  Happy summer everyone!  I’ll stay in touch as much as I can.  This is a phenomenal odyssey already.  Dot

It’s almost time…

In two days, I’m on a plane headed to Woodstock, VA to begin my quest for the Last Great Race — first one up is the original Old Dominion.  Btw, don’t you think it’s odd that the Vermont 100 is also held in the city of Woodstock?  Also, what is up with 3 100 mile races (MMT, OD Memorial, and OD) back-to-back all in the same location?

Ok, I’m already about 95% packed, which is unusual for me, since I typically don’t do it until the very last minute — I think I’m just anxious to race, since it’s the waiting and anticipation that drives me crazy.  Once the gun goes off, then I’ll feel much more comfortable, which in fact, is only 3 days away!

I also just withdrew my entry into Hardrock this year.  :-(  Hopefully I’ll get picked again next year, which was when I really wanted to run it.  I did actually think about doing it along with my other races briefly…that would’ve been too crazy, esp since it’s only a week before Vermont.

I love the week before/after big races, because I basically just sit around and do nothing, or eat without feeling guilty. 

Have a good (short) week…ok, where’s my doughnut?

The power to vanish

High-altitude runner Matt Carpenter leaves foes gasping for breath

By Brian Metzler, Special To The Rocky
May 29, 2007

Put Matt Carpenter at a sea-level running race and he’ll probably finish near the leaders. But give him the chance to race in the rarefied air of high altitude and he’ll leave everyone in the dust.

Carpenter has been the most dominant trail runner in the United States for the past 15 years, virtually unbeatable in races that start at high elevation and go up. He holds numerous course records in Colorado and has run the world’s fastest marathons above 14,000 feet and 17,000 feet.

What’s the secret to his success? Tests at the U.S. Olympic Training Center determined that Carpenter had an astronomical VO2 max of 90.2 milliliters of oxygen burned per kilogram of body weight per minute, which mean his 5-foot-7 1/2, 122-pound frame is ultraefficient when it comes to burning

oxygen. His score is the highest mark ever recorded at the center, eclipsing even Lance Armstrong’s 85.

Secondly, he trains like a fiend, mixing high mileage with mountain runs and speed workouts. He hasn’t had a day with fewer than two hours of running since Sept. 13. His longest running streak without missing a day is five years, 57 days. (It ended July 9, 2002, the day his daughter was born.)

“It’s kind of old school,” he said. “I believe there are a lot of ways to train. I’ve gotten to a good level with a lot of different ways. But the key is, whatever way you’re going with, you have to be consistent with it.”

Yet he also has refused to run a race or avoided being eligible for taking prize money when he has had philosophical differen- ces with a race director or organizing body.

“He’s got the most stringent set standards of just about any runner,” said Boulder’s Adam Chase, president of the All- American Trail Running Association.

“He’s absolutely pure in sticking to what he believes in and his approach to training. And that’s what makes him the runner he is.”In a nutshell

• Name: Matt Carpenter.

• Age: 42.

• Primary sport: Trail running.

• Home: Manitou Springs.

• Originally from: Hattiesburg, Miss.

• Family: Married to Yvonne; has 4-year-old daughter, Kyla.

• Amazing feats: Has won virtually every high-altitude trail race in Colorado at least once and is the course record-holder for more than a dozen events across the state.

Most prolific success has come at the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon, where he has recorded 12 victories (five in the ascent, seven in the marathon) and owns both course records (2:01:06 in the ascent; 3:16:39 for the marathon).

In 2001, became the only person to win the ascent and marathon in the same year. Last year, won the marathon when it doubled as the World Mountain Running Association Long Course Championship.

Has the world’s fastest recorded times for a flat marathon held at altitude (2:52:57 at 14,350 feet and 3:22:25 at 17,060 feet).

Made brief foray into ultrarunning in 2004-05 and set course records for San Juan Solstice 50-mile race in Lake City (7:59:44) and the Leadville Trail 100 (15:42:59).

In the past two years, has won the 10-kilometer trail-running championships at the Teva Mountain Games in Vail and should be the favorite for the race Friday.

In total, has won more than 110 races from two to 100 miles since moving to Colorado in the mid-1980s.

Co-founder of Incline Club running group and the 12-mile Barr Trail Mountain Race staged in mid-July on the lower half of Pikes Peak.

In his own words

• On heading west: I grew up in Hattiesburg, Miss., and I first came to Colorado in the summer of 1984 because my aunt invited me out for a nursing convention she was attending. I ran the Piney Lake Half-Marathon in Vail, and I just fell in love with the place after that run. In fact, I had a picture taken after that race, and I took it back to Mississippi and stuck it on my cork board and said, “I’m going to move to Vail.” So I spent the summers in Vail while I finished out college. I got my credits to graduate (with a degree in computer science from the University of Southern Mississippi) but I skipped graduation just so I could get to Vail quicker.

• On making the move: I moved from Vail to Colorado Springs in 1991 to train for the 1992 Olympic trials in the marathon. There was not enough flat running in Vail, and more importantly, the trials were at the beginning of the year, and there’s almost no good running in Vail in the winter. The plan was to come and work with the Olympic Training Center because I had some testing done there with my VO2 (oxygen utilization) the year before. I was going to work with Dr. Peter Van Handel, but he died in a plane crash in Colorado Springs. I ran 2:19 and ran in the Olympic trials, but at the same time I was a little aimless.

• On marathon running: I ran a 1:05 half-marathon during one of my marathons, and to me, that shows more of my potential than my actual marathon time. I did a handful of marathons but I never got to focus completely on one, and I still have regrets about that in a strange way.

• On running with family: I run 13 times a week, and probably 10 of them are with the “Kyla jogger.” We don’t call it a Baby Jogger anymore, because Kyla is 4. We use the jogger for what we call the park circuit. I’ll run for a half-hour, and then we’ll wind up at a park. I’ve done up to 200 laps around parks when she plays for however long, and then we’ll go to another one. Kyla loves to go to the parks, so we can combine the two.

• On being a lab rat: My high VO2 max score means I have a good capacity to utilize oxygen, but when I did that test I had a very poor economy. I had a Porsche engine, but I had the poor gas mileage to go with it, so I had to work on fixing that with some specific workouts.

• On staying young: I’ll be 43 in July. That’s a real concession, but I’ve found and proven to myself that I can be just about as fast as I was when I was younger. The difference is that I have to be a lot more careful and treat nagging soreness or injuries. I’ve always treated nags like cancer, but now it’s even harder to heal the nags. The big change for me was after running the Leadville 100 in 2004, I went and bought a quality weight machine. It hasn’t made me any faster, but it’s made me stronger, and that helps with my recovery.

• On the Incline Club: Every Sunday morning, that gets me out the door. And to see 60 to 70 people taking off into the mountains, that’s a charge. We do a lot of running, and there is a lot of passion there. We have 60 training runs a year, and about 40 are up on Barr Trail. We have slow people and fast people, but most of them are dedicated. I’ll take someone who is slow and dedicated over someone who is fast and not dedicated any day.

• On eating: I’ve never had any alcohol or coffee. I try to avoid a lot of junk food, but the occasional doughnut or ice cream is not a problem with the amount of mileage I put in. Sometimes my problem has actually been not being able to gain weight. I actually get benign exercise-induced hematuria (blood in the urine) if I cut out too much fat, so I live on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during the day just to get a little fat in me.

• On his favorite trails: I love the top three miles of Pikes Peak. They’re not too steep, but they take you right to the edge, and you have that fight, if you’re tired, of whether you’re going to bonk or not. I’ve been fortunate to run in a lot of places all over the world and I just always pine for Colorado. We live in an awesome place, and there is so much variety and great weather.

Tips from a pro

Matt Carpenter has won dozens of high-altitude races in Colorado and around the world. Here’s some of his advice for high-altitude mountain running.

1 Don’t focus too much on mileage at first

If you’re just getting into it, I would recommend throwing away your mileage log and just running by time. I find up here that it can be really frustrating if you do something really rough and you can only write down a few miles. That can mentally mess with you. And if you’re used to running by distance, then you can run too far or too short. I find that if you go by time, the distance you need kind of takes care of itself. For example, I run up the old incline railway grade and I would have to write down 1 mile for that, even though it’s 25 miles of death.

2 Take it steady when it comes to the mountains

You’ve just got to focus on your cadence. I think a lot of people really try to grind it up hills. Let the terrain dictate your pace, but if you can keep the same cadence overall, it should take care of itself. If the terrain gets too steep, by all means, walk. The key is, don’t go into it with a hardheaded attitude. Even I have races where I have to walk. If you can just relax and do it, that’s OK. You’re going to do a lot better than the guy next you who’s fighting and trying to run when walking would be better.

3 Learn to deal with high altitude

If you can, take a vacation at altitude to learn what hypoxia feels like. That’s 90 percent of the battle, because there’s really nothing you can do. If you don’t live at high altitude, your best defense is to get in the best shape that you can. The first time every season, you’re just buzzy and you’re dizzy and you can’t even remember your own name. But if you know that’s going to happen, that helps.

You can do it

Want to run in a trail race close to the metro area? The La Sportiva Front Range Frenzy series has races (June 23, July 21 and Aug. 12) from 4.5 to 12.7 miles on challenging courses in Golden. The July 4 Scar Top Mountain Run 12-kilometer and Spruce Canyon 5K are run on up-and-down dirt road courses in Coal Creek Canyon. The Indian Peaks 10K on Aug. 4 follows a mix of dirt roads and singletrack routes at the Eldora Nordic Center. Visit and for more details.

Mark your calendar

Who are the best trail runners in the country? That will be determined on June 30 at the USA 10-kilometer Trail Running Championships in Steamboat Springs.

• The race will start and finish from the gondola base station at Steamboat ski area, sending runners on a loop that varies in elevation from 6,900 to 8,000 feet.

• At stake is a $5,000 purse and an opportunity at representing the United States in the world championships in September in Ovronnaz, Switzerland.

• For information, visit

Our top 10 so far

• Chris Davenport, alpine skiing.

• Mike Kloser, multisport.

• Gretchen Bleiler, snowboarding.

• Ian Adamson, adventure racing/paddling/orienteering.

• Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, mountain biking.

• Seth Wealing, Xterra off-road triathlete.

• Brad Ludden, white-water paddling.

• Matt Carpenter, trail runner.

To read about our previous featured athletes, visit

Copyright 2007, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.

Ultra family member passes…

Lisa Conover, who ran in many local SoCal races passed away suddenly a week ago.  You may have seen her running recently at the Wild Wild West 50K, Leona Divide, or the San Juan 50K.  Her favorite race was the AC100, where she recorded a PR of 28:20 just last year. 

Tuesday evening, May 22, 2007 Lisa J. Conover died unexpectedly at her home in Neenah, Wisconsin. She was born in Denver, Colorado on June 11, 1958 and grew up in North Dakota. She earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Montana. She is survived by her husband, Gary G. Conover, her two sons, Eric and Chad Kempen, her mother and father Cleo and C. James Cieminski, two sisters and one brother, Judy Cowan, Patti Lunak, and Cort Cieminski and two step sons, Zachariah and Joshua Conover.

Lisa was passionate about her running and the deserts and the mountains of the Southwest. She also liked people. Since 1996 she had completed 103 ultra marathons which included thirteen 100 mile runs and she successfully completed the Grand Slam of Ultra Running. Her favorite 100 mile race was the Angeles Crest 100 in the mountains outside of Los Angeles. She taught herself to swim so she could do the Ironman Triathlon in Madison, Wisconsin in 2002.

She married Gary Conover on March 26, 1991 in Harris County Texas and he introduced her to the deserts in Southern California where he grew up. Lisa loved running in the deserts, even when it was well past 115 degrees, and particularly liked hiking and running in Joshua Tree National Park. When she only wanted a short 10 or 15 mile run she would run up Mt. Eisenhower in the Living Desert which is in Palm Desert. She was planning to move to Palm Desert, California, so she would be able to train every day in the desert she loved. She was also pursuing the idea of starting a running company in Palm Desert. Her husband crewed for her at all her races and was always encouraging her and protective of her. Many times he would tell her to “pick up the pace” just to make her smile. During her races their mantra was to have fun, do the best you can in this race today, and not get hurt.

She will be remembered by her family and friends and fellow runners for her smile, her positive attitude, and her pony tail swinging as she ran. And her husband will always remember her tender eyes, her beautiful smile, and their love and friendship.

A memorial service to celebrate Lisa’s life will be held at the Wichmann Funeral Home at 537 North Superior Street in Appleton on Tuesday, May 29, 2007 at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers her husband requests that donations be made in her name to the Living Desert at:

The Living Desert
Attn: Shirley
47-900 Portola Avenue
Palm Desert, California 92260-9817

First time…and last

Yesterday, I ran the 41st Annual Mt Wilson Trail Race for the first time — interestingly enough, it was after I moved away from Sierra Madre where I used to live, which was about a 5 min jog to the start line.  The race was first held in 1908, only 3 years after the Dipsea (the country’s oldest trail race) was born, but there was a hiatus between 1912 and 1929, then resumed in 1930.  It was held sporadically until the late 40’s, then abandoned completely, and finally revived in 1965.

The course is 8.6 miles — from downtown Sierra Madre, to Orchard Camp and back — 2100′ of gain in 4.3 miles, which is a 9.2% grade.  This reminded me a lot of the Mt Baldy Run to the Top, which is the same distance, but instead of an out-and-back, it’s an 8 mile climb to the peak, not to mention a few thousand feet lower in elevation.

The race is well-organized, but it’s just not my kind of event — too short, too fast, and too crowded.  Baldy would be the same thing if they made everyone race back down to the start — can you imagine how dangerous that’d be?  I’m actually really surprised that no one gets seriously hurt because the course is primarily singletrack, with very little room for 2-way traffic.

The winner was Kevin Koeper, who has won the race a few times, beating out the second place guy by 3 seconds — wish I could’ve seen that finish.  The women’s field was dominated by Sharon Pevsner, who I used to see quite often in the neighborhood, since she’s a local resident.  Their times respectively — 1:00:27 and 1:16:32.  Full results here.

Well, I did this race for the first time this year, but I also think that it’s going to be my last — just not my kind of event.  But then again, I said the same thing about Baldy a few years ago too.

Ok, time to get ready for OD, and also our little Memorial Day get-together tomorrow.