Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Mountain Run of 2010...

This morning, Scott, jLu and I got out for first tracks to the summit of Green Mountain via Gregory-Ranger.  Yesterday produced the first legitimate (~6-8" or so in town) snowfall of the year, and after slogging through the wintry beauty to reach the summit I was instantly reminded on the downhill just why running in the winter is so fun: it often feels like pure play.  The powdery, cushiony surface spares the joints, the absolute muffled stillness is calming, and crystalline dressing on everything inspires.  It was a fantastic 296th (350th lifetime) and final trip to Green's summit for the year.

Our goal.
Scott powering his way up Gregory Canyon...
...and eventually, the summit rock of Green.
#296: tomorrow I start over.
Scott floating the descent through Gregory Canyon.
Nothing beats some properly-garnished Flatirons.
I suppose a few closing thoughts on the year are in order.  First, the numbers:

January:     488mi, 71h 50min,   91,500',   31 Greens
February:   501mi, 75h 33min,   101,300', 36 Greens
March:        547mi, 81h 08min,   94,700',   31 Greens
April:          673mi, 101h 19min, 120,400', 35 Greens
May:            522mi, 73h 18min,   76,100',   21 Greens
June:           674mi, 102h 09min, 113,900', 22 Greens
July:            501mi, 74h 23min,   77,700',   11 Greens
August:       459mi, 88h 06min,   66,400',   12 Greens
September: 435mi, 66h 35min,   85,300',   17 Greens
October:      668mi, 99h 37min,   128,900', 34 Greens
November:  461mi, 69h 35min,   97,000',   28 Greens
December:  356mi, 53h, 01min,  56,300',   18 Greens

2010:  6285mi,   956h 34min,   1,108,100'  296 Greens
                                                                       29 Bears
                                                                         6 SoBos

That's an average of right at 120.5 miles per week and 17.2 miles, 2h37min and 3036' vertical per day.

2010 was, by almost any measure, easily my best year of running ever.  Statistically, physically and spiritually I think, after 15 years, I finally arrived at a volume/combination of miles and vertical that has allowed me to sustainably maximize running's positive bearing on each of those areas.  I know for sure that in 2010 I was racing at my highest-ever level, and due to my notable consistency (only 16 days off the entire year, most of those in December) my enjoyment of running was at its highest-ever level, too.

Best Run(s)
There were a lot.  It is natural that a race is typically a "best run" because I have typically consciously set up several months of training in order to feel really, really good for that particular run.  As such, Western States and White River were certainly stand-outs.  In both I felt remarkably effortless (save the last 20 miles of WS) and both runs were further enhanced by sharing them with good friends.

A very close honorable mention was my solo 68 mile/10:16 run around Pikes Peak in early November.  While I didn't feel particularly physically proficient during that run (I was in the midst of a period of very heavy training preparing for the TNF50 Championships), it was mentally and physically much less of an ordeal than I had expected.  Plus, it was a loop that I had thought about doing on and off for very many years.

Another honorable mention was an 8hr outing in the Indian Peaks with Scottie in July.  We covered a ton of ground, saw many incredible sights, tread many miles of sublime singletrack, spent a whole lot of time above treeline and generally took advantage of our abilities to travel all day on foot with few physical consequences.  It was a blast.

Worst Run(s)
Without a doubt, my DNF at Leadville, obviously.  I've never run myself into the ground before, and let me tell you, it's not a whole lot of fun.  I learned much, though.  While I've had plenty of other crappy runs this year, none of them were so bad as to result in me passing out, so Leadville takes the cake.

A close second would be the profoundly mundane evening jog on November 18th where I strained my calf for good and did the damage that ultimately kept me out of the TNF50 showdown at the beginning of this month.  It was the only real injury disappointment of the year for me, and it came at a supremely inopportune time.

Well, that's enough.  Let me leave you, though, with a most aptly-titled track by one of my favorite bands, The Walkmen.  I've been listening to these guys for almost two years now, but ever since I saw them at the Fox Theatre here in Boulder in October they've been nearly non-stop on my music-playing device.  Much to the chagrin of my roommates, I imagine.  But, I think the passion evident in this song should at least partly explain why.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Running Times Winter Video

About a week ago, Running Times posted a "welcome-to-Winter" video that Joel Wolpert filmed here in Boulder back in mid-December.  Joel was in town for a few days and was extremely lucky to be here for the first (and almost only) little snowfall of the season.  I am very impressed with the nice 10min clip that Joel was able to put together with nothing more than a stedi-cam and a tripod to assist him and his camera.  Great work, Joel!  The video basically showcases my daily training grounds and is a rare instance of making them look almost as good as reality.

Joel also makes a concerted effort to include local bands in his videos, so I was happy to suggest Paper Bird and The Lumineers.  Jocelyn and I have seen Paper Bird open for other acts (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) and one of Jocelyn's law school friends was kind enough to invite us to this house party where these clips of The Lumineers were recorded.  Good stuff all around, and I think Joel did an excellent job of meshing the music with the running.

I know I'm about a week late with posting this, but I was back in Nebraska visiting my folks for the Christmas holiday this past week, and, well, the Interwebs still aren't very abundant where I grew up.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Weekly Summary: Dec 6-12

Mon-AM: 14 miles (2:04) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down NE Ridge-1st Flatiron-Skunk Canyon
PM: 9 miles (1:13) Creek Path
Ran easy with Scottie in the dark. Had to be kinda careful with the calf.

Tue-AM: 14 miles (2:14) Green Mt. 3000'
Up back and down 1st Flatiron with Joe and Scott. Ran down to 13th St to meet them and then ran to the grocery store at the end to pick up a couple of things. Descended the front of Green with a CU Norwegian Nordic skier who was a bit taken aback at our precipitous route.
PM: 8 miles (1:04) Skunk Creek+3mi barefoot at Kitt
Legs felt surprisingly good.

Wed-AM: 14 miles (2:05) Green Mt. 3500'
Ran with Joe up Gregory-Long Cyn-West Ridge and then down to the 1st Flatiron/Saddle Rock and then half-way back up Flagstaff on Crown Rocks before descending to EGF and running home.  Gloriously beautiful day but my legs felt pretty terrible.
PM: 11 miles (1:38) Green Mt. 2700'
Up front and down Ranger-Flagstaff Rd all in the dark.  Didn't get out until late and then my pace/effort was pretty severely limited by a dying headlamp battery on both the way up and the way down.  As such, I decided to bail onto the road for the remainder of the descent because my light was so weak.

Thu-AM: 14 miles (2:11) Green Mt. 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman and down 1st Flatiron to Saddle Rock+1.5mi barefoot at Kitt.  Legs tired from yesterday's double Green.
PM: 8 miles (1:02) Skunk Creek+3mi barefoot at Kitt
Legs felt great slicing through the dark.

Fri-AM: 14 miles (2:03) Green Mt. 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn.  Another beautiful day, if a bit windy.

Sat-AM: 24 miles (3:51) Green-Bear-Green, 7000'
Got out for a solo lap around Green and Bear feeling good, but on the summit of Bear I decided the inch of fresh snow was going to make Fern too much of a pain, so I ran back to Chat via the West Ridge and Bear Canyon.  However, I was planning on meeting Dave, Geoff and Bob at Chat for another easy lap on Green, so through Bear Canyon and back on Mesa I injected some legitimate pace into my legs for the first time since I strained the calf (in order to make up for the longer route) and it ended up being a really bad idea.  I felt my calf tighten ever so slightly as we stood around in the parking lot and then on the very easy effort up and down Green it only got worse.  By the end of the run I knew I'd really messed it up good again, so I limped back to the house and spent a lot of the rest of the day icing.

Sun- zippo.  Calf wouldn't allow it.

-Miles: 130
-Hours: 19h 25min
-Vertical: 25,200'

Boulder Summits (2010)
-Green: 289
-Bear: 29
-SoBo: 6
Well, the story this week is pretty obvious.  I had the calf back to a place where jogging around on it--even up a mountain--was really no issue, but when Saturday rolled around and I inadvertently found myself actually running a decent pace for the first time in a long while, well, my calf protested fairly spectacularly.  It has me pretty bummed, and I'm only a small bit confident that I haven't set it back completely to square one.  All week I guess I'd kind of convinced myself that I was basically healthy, but that was a false confidence on account of the fact that I'd never pushed hard on the calf even the slightest bit all week.

If this doesn't completely rule out the Chubbilooski for me this coming weekend up in Fort Collins, at the very least it means I won't be doing anything but socially jogging around on the Horsetooth terrain.  Certainly nothing even remotely approaching a race-type effort or pace, unfortunately.  At this point I just want to get back to consistent running as quickly and easily as possible.  I'm still kicking myself over the bonehead move of running hard on it for even the shortest of stretches on Saturday.

While I went over 6000 miles on the year some time this week, what I thought to be an exceedingly modest goal at the beginning of the month--300 Green summits on the year--is beginning to look extremely touch-and-go, especially with a trip home to Nebraska planned before the end of the year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November Wrap-Up

The November stats:
461 miles
69h 35min
97,000' climbed

Which makes 5929 miles, 900h 19min and 1,051,800' of climbing on the year.

A discerning eye will notice that those monthly totals look just a touch deficient when compared to what has generally been my norm in 2010.  Unfortunately, this is not because of a particularly aggressive taper for this weekend's highly anticipated TNF 50 Championships, which, much to my disappointment (obviously), I won't be running.

For the past week and a half I've been nursing a strained calf muscle that resulted from running uphill in snow without sufficient traction, which in turn resulted in my first extended break from running of the entire year (I missed five days in a row last week, bringing my yearly tally of days off to 11).  While I'm back to some very light jogging now (20min this morning), I unfortunately won't be in Marin this weekend duking it out with the rest of the best trail/ultra runners in the world.

I know it foils all kinds of dream match-ups (Geoff vs. me for ultrarunner of the year, a Western States re-match between Geoff and I, a taste of Europe's best vs. North America's best, fast road marathoners vs. fast 50/100 milers, etc., etc.) and, believe me, I have been at least as interested as everyone else to see exactly how things would've shaken out this weekend with me in the mix.  Now, I'll just be watching from the cyber-sidelines like most people.  I've been focusing my training on this race so much this fall that I still can't quite believe I won't be lining up.

Whenever I get injured I first get really frustrated and generally pissed off at the injustices of life, but I eventually cool down and start to try to learn something from the situation so that maybe I can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.  I'm still not sure what exactly happened this time.  I first tweaked the calf on the evening of November 14th while completing lap two of a double-dose of Green Mountain.  I'd gotten out for an easy jog up the mountain in the morning and that evening had PRed on the first lap and headed up the second time at a more moderate intensity in order to just round out my planned two hours of running.  My feet had been slipping plenty in the fresh snow on the top half of Green Mt and on round two I felt something pull a bit in my calf on a particularly steep stretch of trail.  Of course, if I were to do it over again, I wouldn't have headed back up Green for a second lap that night--the PR effort on poor footing was probably more than enough strain on my body as it was.

When I woke up Monday morning my leg was definitely sore, but it loosened up after a mile or two of easy jogging and kept improving with each run the rest of the week, so I assumed I was in the clear.  However, on Thursday evening (after a pain-free run up Green in the morning) I set out on a typical flat, easy shakeout jog, and after waiting for a car to pass on a cross-street, I sprinted across the road and the next thing I knew I could barely run and ended up having to walk the mile or so back home.

Since then I've only done a very little easy jogging and lots of icing, ultrasound and acupuncture.  I can tell that it's coming around but certainly will in no way be ready for a hard 50 miles this coming weekend.  I'm sure I'll be back on the trails in the next 10 days or so, though, and ultimately, this couple weeks of rest/very easy running will probably benefit me for the exciting year of running I have planned in 2011.  I wish the best of luck to everyone on Saturday.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ponderous Posterior 50K

The final installment of the Front Range Fat Asses (preceded by the Boulder Basic on October 30th and the Fort Collins Chubby Cheeks on December 18th) will be the PP 50K (Ponderous Posterior or Pikes Peak, whichever you prefer)  in Colorado/Manitou Springs on January 15th.  Here is a map:

Click for a larger version: start at JT's house on 31st St (right hand side of map)
and proceed in a counter-clockwise fashion.

Here is a Terrain Map version for a little more insight into the topography of the route:

Looks to be about right at 30 miles.

And here is a MapMyRun-produced profile:

Should only be about 6k' of climbing, with a high point of nearly 9200'.
 And here is a link to the MapMyRun file that will allow you to look at satellite imagery and inspect the exact trails that we'll all be experiencing.

PP Route Description:
Starting from JT's house on 31st we will run a few minutes of pavement and snake through the Garden of the Gods via the Dakota Ridge and Bretag Trails.  We'll exit the Garden by hopping a fence for a couple premium miles of singletrack on the Navigators property before climbing quite steeply to the west for a half-mile or so to gain Rampart Range Road.

Run up RRR for ~3mi to the radio towers before turning left/down onto some singletrack and dropping into incredibly scenic Williams Canyon.  After a mile and a half or so of winding down-canyon the course will turn to the right up a drainage for ~1mi that will connect into the Waldo Canyon Loop at the top of the climb.  Turn right onto the Waldo trail and run it counter-clockwise all the way down to Highway 24 and the Waldo Trailhead.

Cross the Highway with care (there may be an informal aid station in this parking lot), crawl through the big metal gate on the other side, and run UP Longs Ranch Road for ~3mi and 2000+' to the high point of the course at ~9200'.  This is the monster climb of the run.  At the top, turn left/down through the Experimental Forest and connect into the famous Barr Trail at No Name Creek.  Run ~3mi down Barr Trail to Ruxton Ave and Manitou Springs and then turn right onto the Intemann Trail at the Iron Spring.  Follow the signs for the Intemann/Ring The Peak Trail traversing above town.  Eventually pop out onto Crystal Park Road for 1mi+ of paved uphill running and turn left back onto the Intemann Trail (nice big wooden sign marking the trailhead).

Run this for ~2mi until turning left onto a marked trail to connect into Red Rocks Open Space.  Run through Red Rocks (there will be a lot of hopefully reasonably marked junctions through here, but the general idea is to just keep heading down, towards the highway and the Open Space's very developed railhead/parking lot), recross Highway 24 and Colorado Ave on Ridge Rd, take a right onto Pikes Peak Ave and run this back east for just over a mile back to the Start/Finish at JT's house.


More details to come as the date gets closer, but this is a gathering open to all with the route having several shorter bail-out options---there's no need to complete the full ~30mi loop in order to take part in the fun.  The run will also adhere to strict Fat Ass Rules: No Fee, No Aid, No Awards, No Whining.

An 8AM start from JT's house is preferable, but again, earlier starts/shorter loops are certainly acceptable so as to facilitate an early-afternoon post-run lie-telling session back at JT's abode.  The idea is to get out for a friendly, possibly semi-competitive group run that showcases many of the endless classic trail options in the Pikes Peak region that many out-of-towners are probably not familiar with while still incorporating the super-classic lower three miles of the Barr Trail (W's, etc.) that everyone is familiar with.

A few images from the planned PP course:

The run starts with a view something shockingly similar to this.
A motley crew running up Rampart Range Road, with a big mountain behind.
A panoramic of the little-known Williams Canyon we'll drop into.
Photo: Harsha Nagaraj
Climbing up the connector btwn Williams and Waldo.
Photo: Steve Bremner.

The views of Pikes from Waldo can't be beat. Photo: Larry Dewitt.
Some goofballs on the Longs Ranch Road climb (our gracious host on the left).
Photo: Larry Dewitt
...which can get awfully steep at times. Photo: Larry Dewitt.
Everyone knows what descending Barr Trail looks like.
A view of Pikes from the Intemann Trail above Manitou Springs.
Red Rocks Canyon Open Space--the final terrain of the course.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Planning for 2011

Although there are a number of (at least semi-) goal races between now and Summer 2011, if I wanted the least-hassle route of keeping the Western States 100 as an option for next year I needed to cash in on my top-10 status from this year by registering and plunking down my $370 before the end of this week.  So I did.  

There is a good chance I'll be back at Western States in 2011 (not the least of the motivating factors being the matter that my $370 is non-refundable) despite the fact that I will almost certainly be entering another conflicting (in my mind, at least) lottery sometime soon (cough-Hardrock!-cough).

Little Giant Saddle at the top of Dives Basin. The creek at the
bottom of the picture is alternately mile 9 or mile 91 of
the Hardrock 100.  This mountain is only one of a dozen similar
such absurdities that must be scaled during the race each July.
Both inspiring and horror-inducing. Photo: Klas Eklof

While the aesthetic and ethic of the Hardrock 100's course is much more my style (unending gigantic alpine passes), the chance to re-engage with the top long-course mountain racers in the world at Western States is pretty hard to pass up. For better or worse, it seems that WS and the Ultra Trail du Mt Blanc have become the two can't-miss stops on the international 100 mile circuit if you are truly interested in racing the best in the world.

I, for one, know that virtually every time I run up Green Mt., an image very much like the one below flashes through my mind at least once:

A crazed yeti chases a diminutive mountain-slayer through the snow at Robinson Flat,
WS100 2010. Rickey follows behind, documenting the moment on video, while I'm
sure Geoff is just out of the frame somewhere. Photo: Mike Redpath.

But Western States and the Hardrock 100 are only the beginning of the lotteries I plan to enter in the next couple months.  The Miwok 100K, Wasatch 100, and UTMB all hold their lotteries this time of year too and are all options I would very much like to have remain in play for next year's racing season.

Like Hardrock, even the best are relegated to a hike on the
climbs at UTMB.  Kilian grunting his way up to La Flegere,
the final crushing ascent of the UTMB route, in 2009.
The scenery can't be beat, though.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekly Summary: Nov 8-14

Mon-AM: 14 miles (2:06) Green Mt., 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Cyn.
PM: 8 miles (1:03) Skunk Creek Loop+Kitt
Ran easy with Joe.  Got in 1.5mi barefoot.

Tue-AM: 14 miles (2:09) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn.  First snow clouds of the season were rolling in towards the end.
PM: 8 miles (1:01) Skunk Creek Loop
Legs felt surprisingly good.  Maybe because it was snowing the whole way; I was in full-on tights, gloves, hat, and jacket.  Lovely run.

Wed-AM: 14 miles (2:07) Green Mt., 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Cyn.  First real snow up there since April.  Maybe an inch or so on upper Greenman that definitely affected footing a good bit.
PM: 14 miles (2:00) Green Mt., 3000'
Up the back and down Bear Cyn.  Legs felt decently good--coming around after the long run on Saturday.  Cruised up Gregory-Ranger in 36min and spent too long on top so that I was stumbling around a bit coming back on Mesa in the dark.

Starting to fill in the cracks on upper Greenman.
Ocean of clouds from the summit of Green.

Thu-AM: 18 miles (2:51) 1.5xGreen Mt., 4700'
Met Joel (RT photographer) on top of Green and then we went down Greenman doing a lot of running back and forth for filming.  We started descending Gregory to meet the group and eventually turned around and ran back to the summit via Ranger with Geoff, Joe, Jeff, Brandon, Dave, and Nico.  Descended Bear Cyn and came back on Mesa.  There were a few inches of new snow and the peaks were all in the clouds today.  First real day of winter running this season.  Skipped the evening run to try and get back on top of my fatigue levels.

Headed up Green in the snow. Photo: Joel Wolpert.
Through the winter wonderland. Photo: Joel Wolpert.

Fri-AM: 13 miles (2:02) Green Mt., 3000'
Met Danny down at the St. Julien and then took him up Viewpoint/Flagstaff to Ranger and then descended Greenman-Gregory.  The snow was pretty slippy this morning and my legs were a bit tired, but the mountains looked incredible with all the frosted trees. Gorgeous clear day, too.

Sat-AM: 14 miles (2:06) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn.  Felt okay through the canyon but the slippery snow on the top half of the mountain sapped my energy a bit.  It's going to take a week or two to adjust to the new rhythm of winter running.

Sun-AM: 15 miles (2:12) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn. Enjoyed how the chillier weather is thinning out the crowds on the trails.  Also, a nice inversion layer covered the city in a sleepy blanket this morning.
PM: 20 miles (3:00) 2xGreen Mt., 5500'
#1: up back, down Bear Cyn. (34:46) 12:25, 15:25, 19:15, 23:40, 28:40
#2: up front, down back: (32:36) 6:30, 12:05, 14:35, 18:11, 22:10, 29:22
Great run. After an afternoon in the library I didn't get out the door until 5pm, so I took a headlamp with me and needed it by time I was half-way up Green the first time.  I was feeling pretty good but was definitely shocked to see I was 15 seconds under PR pace at my rock-check (start of flat terrain before lodge) because I certainly wasn't putting in much focus.  The snow started in earnest here, though, and although equal to PR pace at the cabin I was forced into a much more casual pace above the cabin because of the poor footing and ended up a little over a minute over PR.  Coming back on the Mesa trail my legs still felt great so I decided to hit another lap on Green and headed up Amphi-SaddleRock.  Despite stumbling around a bit in headlamp-light and not putting too much effort into it I was a surprising 7 seconds ahead of PR pace at the 1st Flatiron cut-off, the same at the 2nd overlook tree and despite the snow and poor footing still right on PR pace at the Greenman junction.  Above there, however, the snow became too slick to keep pushing and I mostly just jogged it to the top with the snowy surface acting as a governor.  On the descent down Gregory I am about 80% sure I saw a mountain lion staring at me from ~20yards off the trail.  I saw its eyes in my headlamp and after a triple-take (and with the help of the moonlight) came to the conclusion that whatever it was its head was awful big for a fox (one of which I had seen earlier on the Mesa trail).  All in all, pretty encouraging run as I think it was quite likely I would've PRed for both routes on Green in the same run if it weren't for the slick snow on the top half of the mountain right now (not to mention the dark/headlamp vision).

-Miles: 152
-Hours: 22h 37min
-Vertical: 31,200'

2010 Boulder Summits
-Green: 270
-Bear: 28
-SoBo: 6
I knew this week would be affected a bit by residual fatigue from last weekend's exceptionally long run, so I was careful to not force any kind of above-average effort or distance most days.  Life was especially busy in general this week, too (which will be the standard for the rest of the semester), so it wasn't hard to scale back the miles and intensity a bit.

This week also brought the true re-introduction of winter to the local trails, which means that there will be a frustrating couple of weeks traction-wise where it doesn't make sense to wear Microspikes but where standard running footwear isn't quite as satisfactory as it is on dry trail either.  Even so, I'm enjoying the change in seasons and the new flavor it brings to the daily running.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weekly Summary: Nov 1-7

Mon-AM: 14 miles (2:02) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn. Legs felt terrible lying in bed but not half bad out cruising around in the top-notch fall morning.
PM: 14 miles (2:02) Green Mt., 3000'
Up front and down Bear Cyn. I couldn't resist testing out an awesome new pair of NB kicks (the update to the 101, this shoe is essentially the mountain shoe I've been looking to design for the past six years), so of course I had to give them a run through my laboratory.  My legs ended up feeling good and I charged up the front in 31:10 (6:40, 12:30, 14:56, 18:30, 22:08, 28:40).  I started out putting in no effort just easing into the mountain, but by time I got to Greenman I noticed I was only a bit over PR pace so I tried to focus my effort a little more.  Even so, my mind kept wandering to this week's trip to Creede (sample bottles, sampling locations, collection protocols, etc.) so I was almost forgetting to look at my splits.  Despite my lack of focus I ended up only 20 seconds off of PR for my 2nd-fastest time ever. The last couple of switchbacks through the talus still had a slight dusting of snow, so I'm guessing it can't be much longer before that becomes permanent.  Went down Skunk Canyon and tacked on 1.5mi of barefoot down at Kitt before jogging home in the dark.  Great run.

Tue-AM: 15 miles (2:14) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down NE Ridge to Flag to EGF+1.5mi barefoot at BHS.  I'm ready for the time to change this weekend.  It was dark all the way until the Ranger cabin, so I was stumbling around a lot before that.  Legs felt good by the end of the run.
PM: 14 miles (2:00) Green Mt., 3000'
Bumped into Jeff at the trailhead so we ran together up the backside and ended up running the top half of the mountain quicker and harder than I would've alone for sure. My legs were definitely heavy. Jeff was pushing a quick pace down Bear Cyn as well, but it was all good as I needed to get back in time to make my 5:00pm class.  Tacked on a mile of barefoot down at Kitt.

Sunrise over Boulder as seen from Gregory Canyon.
North and South Arapahoe Peaks in early morning light.
Longs Peak with the purple morning glow.

Wed-AM: 14 miles (2:09) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn. Ran at 4am before driving to Creede, so this whole run was in the dark by headlamp.  Pretty cool, and kinda makes me look forward to 100 milers in the future (UTMB, Hardrock, Wasatch) that will require significant night running.

Thu-AM: 14 miles (2:00) Green Mt., 3000'
Nice easy cruise after a long night of driving. Had to hustle back for a conference call regarding the update to the MT101s.
PM: 15 miles (2:22) 2xGreen Mt., 5000'
Great run. Ran up the frontside for both laps with the first being a PR 30:44 (6:32, 12:22, 18:11) and the second being a more mellow but still satisfactory 32:52 (6:55, 13:02, 19:27).  Felt very strong all evening and just generally had one of those euphoric evening outings.

Fri-AM: 14 miles (2:08) Green Mt., 3000'
Ran really easy up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Cyn. Hips were a bit tired after yesterday's vertical binge, so I was just trying to make sure that I would be able to make it through the next day's long run.

Sat-AM: 68 miles (10:16) Ring The Peak circumnavigation, 13000'
Ran around Pikes Peak on the RTP route. Longest solo non-race run ever.

Sun-AM: 16 miles (2:46) Green-Bear-SoBo, 4800'
Got together in more awesome weather with Geoff, Jeff, Dan Brillon, Dave, Darcy, Krissy, Charles Corfield and Jason for a very casual tour of the local peaks just before a violent little storm cell blew in.  The pace was very easy all day and we had extended re-grouping at each summit, but Geoff, Jeff and I descended Fern at normal pace so as to not be tripping all over ourselves on the technical terrain and then it was just a nice jog back on Mesa to finish out the run.  I'd gotten out for a little neighborhood loop beforehand to loosen up my body from the day before but all in all things felt good today, just some to-be-expected heavy legs.  Always a pleasure running with good company.

-Miles: 198
-Hours: 30h 01min
-Vertical: 43,800'

2010 Boulder Summits
-Green: 260
-Bear: 28
-SoBo: 6

Monday, November 1, 2010

Weekly Summary: Oct 25-31 and October Totals

Mon-AM: 14 miles (2:05) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn.
PM: 8 miles (1:05) Skunk Creek Loop+2.5mi barefoot at Kitt

Tue-AM: 15 miles (2:08) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn. Light dusting of snow on top along with astonishingly powerful winds.
PM: 8 miles (1:04) Skunk Creek Loop
Still really really windy.  Reminds me of Nebraska in the Spring.

Wed-AM: 15 miles (2:09) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down NE Ridge to Flagstaff and then to the grocery store and back.  Still not feeling a lot of pep in my legs, but not feeling bad, either.  Just sort of average.
PM: 14 miles (2:03) Green Mt., 3000'
Ran up the front side in a PR 30:50 (6:33, 12:12, 14:42, 18:11, 21:47, 28:23). Descended Bear Cyn in the dark down to the Bear Mt. Drive trailhead where I ran back to the Kitt Fields along Broadway for a couple of laps before heading home.

Thu-AM: 15 miles (2:16) Green & Bear, 4200'
Easy effort up the back of Green and then finally felt warmed up heading along Bear's West Ridge. Gorgeous day and my legs felt good descending Fern Cyn.
PM: 8 miles (1:02) Skunk Creek Loop
2.5 miles barefoot at Kittredge Fields

Fri-AM: 14 miles (2:09) Green Mt., 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman and then down Greenman to Flagstaff and EGF.  Noticed an odd puff of smoke over on the north side of Flagstaff as I entered Gregory Canyon and by time I was half-way up Green it had turned into a full-on wildfire over on the summit of Anemone.  Very very smoky coming home on the Creek Path but barely anything up at the house.  Also, I felt terrible on this run.  Going so slow up Green that it felt like I should've just hiked it.

Sat-AM: 25 miles (4:05) Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon, 7200'
Ran over to Phil's house and then up Flagstaff very, very easily with a big group.  Things spread out a bit on the run up Ranger to tag Green and by time we were headed down Bear Canyon there was a solid, jovial group of myself, Dave, Jurker, Geoff, Joe, Nick, Dakota, Jeff, Ryan Cooper, Johannes Rudolph, Brendan (?) and maybe a couple of others all just cruising along very casually and enjoying the beautiful day.  Took Mesa over to Bluestem and down to the South Mesa TH before making the 3000' climb up Towhee and Shadow Canyon to the summit of SoBo.  I waited on top for everyone where we spent a long time chatting and enjoying the glorious day before bopping over and up to Bear Peak for more of the same.  Here Dave suggested that we head back over for one more summit of Green (instead of the prescribed descent of Fern Canyon and back on Mesa to the finish).  I was game as it would represent my 250th of the year. After a final re-grouping on top of Green I led Dave, Dakota, Joe, and Nick down to the NE ridge where Dave decided to rip the vintage route in spectacular fashion.  Joe, Dakota and I stuck right on his heels through the kamikaze descent, however, and it was a great way to finish out a fantastically enjoyable day in the Boulder Peaks.

Standing around at the start, scoping Nick's hot new PI Peaks. Photo Eric Lee
Getting in some "mountain jogging" behind Mr. Clark and ahead of Joe, descending SoBo Peak. Nick Pedatella ascending in the opposing direction. Photo: Eric Lee

Sun-AM: 24 miles (4:02) Guinn Mt. Ski Hut from Nederland, 5000'
Started at Geoff's house at 8500' just above Nederland with Joe, Dakota and Patrick and took singletrack trail right from his backyard up and over 10,000' Tennessee Mt, down to Eldora, and then up the Jenny Creek trail to the ski hut at 11,000' just below Rollins Pass Rd.  The last 30min or so of uphill was mostly a nearly knee-deep slog through snow, but the way back was a blast with the downhill assisting us in our trek through the white stuff.  I felt pretty crappy the first two hours, but really felt a lot better the second half of the run.  This was definitely my last high country run of the season.  I'm going to enjoy the dirt down in Boulder as much as possible before snow finds its way down there, too.

-Miles: 160
-Hours: 24h 07min
-Vertical: 31,400'

October totals  were 668 miles, 99h 37min and 128,900' climbed.

2010 Totals
-Miles: 5468
-Hours: 830h 44min
-Vertical: 954,800'
-Green: 250
-Bear: 27
-SoBo: 5

All in all a good week.  It was satisfying to hit a PR on Green on Wednesday and the Basic on Saturday was a true pleasure, but my lack of pep on Sunday was a bit of a bummer.  Even with the unpredictable energy levels I'm confident that my plane of fitness is starting to become fairly high.  After this weekend's get-together here in Boulder I'm definitely looking forward to the Fort Collins edition at the Chubby Cheeks 50K on December 18th.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chasing the Sunset

I spent all afternoon sitting in the Bookend Cafe on Boulder's Pearl Street (semi-) dutifully attending to my studies while hunkered in the corner with a steaming cup of spicy chai to take the chill off the brisk October afternoon and legitimize my wi-fi usage.  My running has been feeling a bit sluggish for the past week, so I was surprised when I finally stepped outside at 5pm, walked to my locked bike to gaze at the western horizon (notably, Green Mt.'s summit) and felt a tangible pull towards its upper ramparts.  The sun was moments from dipping behind the skyline and I immediately resolved to bike home, make a quick change of clothes and hopefully charge to Green's summit in time to witness a vibrant sunset over the Indian Peaks.

Clouds concealing the Indian Peaks at dusk.

Running up the street towards Chautauqua there was no magical spring in my stride, but my legs were more or less accepting the effort, which is more than I have recently been able to say about them.  I climbed the Amphitheater trail at a moderate pace, determined not to force an undue effort but definitely interested in what my initial split (the junction with the Saddle Rock trail) would yield: 6:33 it turns out.  Decent, for me, but not blazing.  Despite not feeling any exceptional strength, my legs weren't faltering either and I was surprised when I passed the 1st Flatiron cut-off trail only 5:39 later.  Anything under six minutes for that stretch is remarkably quick for me.  

I kept the effort steady as I passed the Greenman junction in 18:12 and was given a spurt of energy by both the ensuing flatter terrain and the fact that I could now briefly see the glowing western horizon.  I knew I likely still had another 13 or 14 minutes to the summit, though, and would miss the best part of the sunset, but I was also on PR pace for the ascent so I figured I might as well keep on pressing.  I attacked the upper stretches of the mountain with renewed motivation and after passing the upper railing in 28:23 gave everything I had through the upper switchbacks in order to ensure a sub-31min clocking.  Sure enough, I arrived at the summit post in exactly 30:50, 38 seconds under my previous PR.  Maybe if I hadn't been carrying the camera in my waistband I could've found that extra second to break into the 30:40s...

Of course, by the time I arrived on the wind-whipped summit and had regained my wits the sunset had devolved into a slate and ash amalgam of curling clouds roiling over the Divide rather than the orange and purple explosion I had been chasing, so I only took a few moments to snap a couple of pictures before dashing down Bear Canyon in the quickly dwindling light.

First time I've seen Longs Peak in almost a week.

Even though I didn't quite catch the sunset, I did snag a particularly timely and satisfying PR, which isn't a bad consolation prize.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weekly Summary: Oct 18-24

Mon-AM: 15 miles (2:37) Devil's Thumb, Indian Peaks. 3000'
Awesome morning with some lightly falling snow and zero wind. Ran from the Hessie trailhead at 9000'.
PM: 14 miles (2:03) Green Mt., 3000'
Up the front and down the West Ridge and Flagstaff Rd, plus a trip to the grocery store.  It was raining lightly, but my legs felt great so I charged up the front in 32:11--I was having a great run but the falling darkness caught me on Greenman and prevented the sub-32 effort.  Took the road down because I didn't want to stumble around on the dark trails.  Awesome run, but all the downhill pavement beat up my feet/ankles a bit.

Tue-AM: 14 miles (2:09) Green Mt., 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Canyon.  Easy day before a long run tomorrow.

Wed-AM: 38 miles (5:41) Almagre-Mt. Rosa-Section 16, 10,000'
Awesome run down in Colorado Springs with Joe.  Parked at 6300' in Bear Creek and headed up 666 to Jones Park to Pipeline to the secret trail up North Cheyenne Creek (extremely steep) to Stratton Reservoir and finally to the radio tower, 12,350' summit of South Almagre.  From there headed down the road to Frosty's Park up 11,500' Mt. Rosa, dropped 4000' down Buffalo Canyon, past St. Mary's Falls to Gold Camp and then up over Buckhorn, down High Drive and then I added on the final bonus 1200' climb/loop of the day up and around Section 16.  The weather was perfect and there was only the slightest dusting of snow on the north-facing side of the canyon, otherwise it was basically summer conditions even above treeline.  Felt strong all day, four gels.

Climbs of 6k' (Almagre), 1500' (Rosa), 800', and 1200'.
The Frenchman cruising Rosa's 11k' ridgeline.
Perched on Rosa's 11,500' summit, looking at 12,350' Almagre (left) and 14,115' Pikes.

Thu-AM: 15 miles (2:18) Green Mt., 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Cyn.  I just took it nice and easy today and was definitely feeling a bit worked from the long run yesterday.  Ankle/post-tib is still a bit sore from the road Monday night, so with my accumulated fatigue I skipped the evening run.

Fri-AM: 14 miles (2:05) Green Mt., 3000'
Up the back and down Gregory Canyon.
PM: 8 miles (1:03) Skunk Creek+2mi barefoot at Kitt
Nice rain falling on an awesome fall afternoon. The colors in Boulder are incredible right now.  JB was along getting some footage from the bicycle.

Sat-AM: 16 miles (2:20) Green Mt., 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Cyn with Scott, Joe, and JB.  JB was getting footage the whole way so there was a lot of back and forth for me, resulting in the extra time/mileage for this loop.
PM: 6 miles (:48) SoBo Creek Path
Out and back from Bobolink with Jocelyn. This was a sweet run completely in the dark and with a spectacularly gigantic and orange rising moon.

Sun-AM: 14 miles (2:16) Green & Bear, 4100'
Didn't get out until late morning with Joe, and after a desultory ascent up the backside of Green we bailed on our plans for a longer run and decided to just bop over and hit Bear as well before calling it good.  Took it really easy and just tried to keep a positive frame of mind while navigating all the crowds on both peaks today. As blustery and brisk as it was up on the peaks today, I really kind of enjoyed it as a break from the perfect sunshine and temps that we've been having. I'm sure I'll get more of the same soon enough, though.

-Miles: 154
-Hours: 23h 20min
-Vertical: 32,100'

2010 Boulder Summits
-Green: 242
-Bear: 25
-SoBo: 4 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Early Season Snow

Joe, heading into the clouds over the Continental Divide.
When I woke up this morning I was surprised to see it wasn't raining/snowing yet (as was forecasted), and the sun was almost shining, so I gave Joe a quick early-bird call and asked if he wanted to cruise up to Eldora for some alpine action.  After about three seconds of waking up/being convinced he jetted over and we headed up to the 9000' Hessie trailhead.  
(Over the phone, however, he had mistaken "Eldora" for "Eldorado" (as in, the fairly low-altitude canyon just south of town), but didn't realize this until we were half-way or so up Boulder Canyon on the way to Nederland.  So, despite being fairly unprepared for above-treeline conditions (only Nike Streak XCs in the trunk, no longsleeve or gloves), he was, of course, still game.)

This trailhead ~30min from Boulder is notoriously crowded in the summertime, but on a grey, gloomy and damp weekday morning we had the trail more or less to ourselves.  The run up towards Devil's Thumb and the Continental Divide was, in a word, idyllic.  Neither Joe nor I had a lot of pep in our legs, so we just bopped along, chatting, jovially surveying the surrounding beauty and expressing delight at the snow and silence falling from the clouds.

A sampling of the scenery as we headed up the basin.

The last 10+ minutes or so of effort in the climb comes in the form of a steep trail up the valley headwall.  This reach of terrain was blanketed in reasonably consolidated shin-deep snow this morning that transformed our running cadence into an arduous pow-hike bee-lining for the ridge crest as we were determined to reach the Divide itself.  Once on top of the modest 12,123' high point on the ridge, we were treated to the usual expansive views down valley and over into Winter Park, an atypical windless calm (ideal for Joe's cotton-clad limbs), and that general sense of rightness that comes only (for me, at least) from gasping for lots of oxygen and gaining a lonely summit.

Joe cruising at 12,000', nearly to the top.
Finding the alpine action I came looking for.
Not nearly as cold as it looks.
Happy at the summit.
The descent unfolded in much the same way.  We blitzed down the initial 1000' drop of elevation only to turn around and see our ridge become engulfed in snowing clouds and then continued on down the valley into more of the same.  

Joe floating the drop.
Two hours and thirty-seven minutes after we'd left, we were back at the car.  There aren't too many more days like this left in the high country, so it was a treat to sneak in maybe the last one of the season for me.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekly Summary: Oct 11-17

Mon-AM: 14 miles (2:02) Green Mt., 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Cyn.  Slow and easy.
PM: 8 miles (1:06) Skunk Creek Loop+Kitt
Really miserable stomach issues on this run.

Tue-AM: 16 miles (2:14) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn. First snow of the year! Got a later start with the rain, and above 7600' or so there was a light dusting of snow.  The cool, crisp, and damp conditions invigorated me and I cruised at a solid pace. Tacked on another 2.5mi down to the bread store and back at the end.
PM: 6 miles (:50) Skunk Creek Loop
Ran late (7:45pm) after class and had some more crazy stomach problems reminiscent of the night before.

Wed-AM: 15 miles (2:25) 2xGreen Mt., 5000'
Did my usual neighborhood warm-up loop and then went up the back and down NE Ridge/Saddle Rock for both laps--37:20 and 35:55 for the climbs.  Felt great on this run and just generally had a blast.  I certainly didn't expect to run that fast on the second one.  It really felt like I turned a corner on this run and that I'm getting back to my old self.
PM: 8 miles (:59) Skunk Creek Loop+2.5mi barefoot at Kitt
Most energy I've had on an evening shakeout in a long, long time. I felt great and kept on just wanting to do more barefoot laps around the field.  Was bummed to bike down to 13th St only to realize that the Wednesday night Farmer's Markets are done for the year.

View of the newly snow-capped Indian Peaks from Green's summit.

Thu-AM: 15 miles (2:25) 2xGreen Mt., 5000'
Same exact run as yesterday except my climbs today were 37:35 and 35:35. Another beautiful morning with a great sunrise and perfect temps for running hard.  Technical footwork was particularly adept today.
PM: 8 miles (1:04) Skunk Creek Loop+1mi barefoot at Kitt

Sunrise from Gregory Canyon.

Fri-AM: 14 miles (2:03) Green Mt., 3000'
Ran up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Canyon.  Easy effort before a longer run tomorrow.

Sat-AM: 35 miles (5:04) Green-Walker-Eldo-Green, 8200'
Good long run after not going long for almost a month. Started with a moderate effort up the backside of Green before heading down into Bear Cyn and then cruising over to Ethel Harold via Bison Drive.  Ran around Walker counter-clockwise and was keeping a quick, but relaxed effort that had me rolling up a pack of four serious-looking mountain bikers headed up to Crescent Meadows.  Refilled my bottle at the Eldo Visitor Center (the Eldorado Canyon trail has to be one of my favorite in the county) and then went out Fowler and down the secret trail into town before hooking up into Old Mesa and then Mesa back to Bear Canyon. I still had a lot of good energy headed up the canyon and dispatched the final 1000' climb up to Green with surprising ease.  Descended Greenman-Gregory to home.

Sun-AM: 15 miles (2:11) Green Mt., 3000'
Up the backside and down the NE Ridge to Flagstaff to Eben G. Fine.  Cruised the creek path to Boulder HS where I got in a mile of barefoot on the turf before heading up the hill back home.  Tired legs as expected, but I just bopped along at an easy effort and enjoyed the continued exemplary fall weather.
PM: 8 miles (1:05) SoBo Creek out and back from Bobolink TH
Did the 12min/3.5mi (18min on the way back) bike commute out to Bobolink in order to get a 100% soft surface run and a little change of scenery. Added an out and back on the Cherryvale trail to get the extra mile. Easy jogging.

-Miles: 162
-Hours: 23h 28min
-Vertical: 30,200'

2010 Boulder Summits
-Green: 236
-Bear: 24
-SoBo: 4

Ah, this week my legs finally felt like they knew how to run again.  It's been a while.  Since Leadville, really.  Up until this week, almost any effort on an uphill was labored and my effort levels were not at all commensurate with the resultant splits on my watch.  For whatever reason, that finally changed this week.  Wednesday and Thursday morning's sessions on Green were especially enjoyable in that I actually felt stronger each time on the second lap.  Likewise, on Saturday's long run I was hitting splits on that loop that were very comparable with what I was doing this spring/summer when I was building/at my peak fitness for Western/White River/Leadville.  It was a rough six weeks or so, but at least things turned themselves around.

Here are a few pics showcasing a little late-autumn scenery on Green Mountain.

Golden leaves dapple the upper Greenman trail.
Perfect pine needle tread on a vintage piece of singletrack. Part of my favorite descent route off of Green.
...which eventually leads to this ridgeline fork: left=Saddle Rock, right=1st Flatiron
The rest of the route may redefine your notion of a trail: looking back up at some of the fun I just came down.
Looking downhill at a section that's a little bit more trail-like.
Looking back up at the final stair section on the bottom of Amphitheater.  Running up this can, at times, feel like more of a plyometric workout than anything.

Finally, I'm looking forward to seeing these guys at the Fox this evening: