Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dec 17 -23

Mon-AM: 2:16, 3700' ~ 3rd Flatiron+Green Mt.
My scramble of the Third was pretty hairy with 50mph wind gusts trying to blow me off while downclimbing the exposed final pitch in running shoes (sans sticky rubber).  But I survived. To change things up, I descended the Ranger trail to the double-track that heads down to the Red Lion in Boulder Canyon and then ran back home on the Creek Path. This appears to finally be open to the public--no fences or No Trespassing signs anywhere.  Nice to really get the legs turning over for once on the long, smooth downhill.

Tue-AM: 2:49, 6500' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green+First Flatiron
Awesome morning on the mountain.  I wanted to get out and do one more big scrunbling session before the snow hits this evening and I head home to Nebraska later in the week.  I started out sort of cold and sluggish on the link-up, taking an uncharacteristically slow 17min to scramble the First, but I got in the groove soon after that and enjoyed really high energy levels this morning as I worked through the rest of the flatties.  The Fourth and Fifth had a surprising dusting of snow on them that could've been sketchy if it had been just a little heavier, but I moved through it with no issues, even setting a PR on the Fourth.  After popping up to the summit of Green, I still felt so good that I decided to hit one more lap on the First Flatiron--I couldn't let my clunky performance on it earlier in the morning be my last effort on it for the next couple of weeks--so I descended back down to its base and fired the east face in 12:05, my best time on it since I took three weeks off back in October (my PR is 10:50, but that's in approach shoe sticky rubber). Executed the downclimb in an efficient 2:45 and descended back to Chat feeling super psyched on life.  I love days like this!
PM: 1:30, 1700' ~ Satan's Slab
Parked at NCAR and hiked up to scramble the slab with Joe and Dakota. Damn that first bit up the water groove is a little thin for my liking (5.6), but we made it through. Really nice evening up on the summit. It started flaking a little while we were up there and by time we had made it back down to the car the snowcloud had moved most of the way down the mountain. Probably the last scramble for a while.

Wed-AM: 2:13, 3200' ~ Green Mt.
Up Gregory-Ranger and down Bear Canyon. Ran up to Chautauqua in the fresh snow and then broke tracks most of the way up the mountain...maybe 6" on the summit?  Really only my second run in snow in Boulder so far this season, which is pretty crazy. Really enjoyed the extra cushion that snow provides.

Thu-AM: 2:29, 3700' ~ Bear Peak
Ran up to Chat to meet Jeff and George, before heading over on the Mesa to go up Fern Canyon.  Lots of wading through drifts, especially above the Nebel Horn Saddle, but eventually made the summit. Unfortunately, I had to return the same way in order to make an appt and leave them to return over Green, which I would've preferred. Quite windy on the summit.

Fri-AM: 2:01, 3000' ~ Green Mt.
Up Amphi-NE Ridge, down Bear Canyon. Nothing very special about this outing except that it was so warm (40s) that I was in shorts and a t-shirt despite cruising through at-times shin-deep snow.

Sat-AM: 2:26, 4500' ~ Bear Peak & Green Mt.
Ran to Chautauqua then over on the Mesa and up Fern Canyon before cruising up and over Green on the way back.  While descending Amphitheater I encountered a large group marching up the mountain, which included Bill and Homie.  I carried Microspikes this entire run but ended up never putting them on due to my heavily-lugged shoes. Great run.

Sun-AM: 2:04, 1600' ~ Nebraska
It was about -2F this morning on the farm, but only a light breeze, so I got out for a tour of some of my old hills from my running roots.  Ended up doing an 18mi loop that dropped in and out of the Bazille Creek drainage and finished up with a 5:40 mile to cap off the sub-7min mile average for the morning.

Hours: 17h48min
Vert: 27,900'

Posted up a report on my Double Flatiron Quinfecta from a couple weeks back, over on the Ultimate Direction Blog.

Another week of mostly getting out and doing whatever moved me.  Tuesday was an above-average day of scrunbling, which was on purpose as I knew the snow and cold was going to move in after that. My first run back in Nebraska on Sunday reminded me of how much fun it can be to get out and just run with a quick turnover for a couple of hours...but also that it engages some different muscles even if my heart and lungs were barely taxed. Also, that Nebraska is f'ing cold in the winter!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dec 10 - 16

Mon-AM: 2:11, 3300' ~ Green Mt.
Up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Canyon from my doorstep.  This is about the flattest possible trail loop you can do in Boulder and still summit one of the 8er peaks.  Taking every single twist and switch-back on the Green-Bear trail, it seems to be almost a full mile longer than the old line.  I must admit, on a day like today where my legs were tired and I was just looking to go easy, that new buffed-out singletrack was pretty fun to cruise.

Tue-AM: 1:01, 800' ~ East Leadville
Got up early in the dark and did an out and back on 7th St before spending the rest of the day doing a film shoot with NB at Turquoise Lake and Twin Lakes.  Bitter cold, windy, and snowy all day, I felt bad for the film crew as I spent a lot of time just sitting in a heated SUV in between takes.

Wed-AM: 2:32, 4500' ~ Mt. Elbert (14,433')
I had the morning off from shooting with NB while they constructed an interview set, so I got up early and headed up the mountain--my 26th summit of Elbert all-time and 21st this year.  This might be my slowest-ever ascent (1:48), though, due to breaking trail through ~6" of fresh snow below treeline.

Thu-AM: 1:56, 4000' ~ Green & Bear
Planned on doing some scrambling, but it seems that Boulder received a bit of snow while I was out of town and there was still some ice and snow on the Flatirons, so instead I just opted for the standard Double Hump outing, heading up Bear's West Ridge and down Fern Canyon after summiting Green. Mellow easy effort today.

Fri-AM: 2:18, 4500' ~ Bear & Green
Ran from the house up the Mesa trail to Fern Canyon, which was fun because I haven't gone up it in months. Descended the West Ridge of Bear and then grunted up the 1000' climb to the summit of Green before descending the front and heading home.  Such a great loop.  28min ascent of Fern from the Mesa Trail--you'd have to be going really fast in order to make running above the Nebel Horn Saddle worthwhile (I hiked every step today)...

Sat-AM: 2:32, 5800' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green Mt.
Just did my usual outing Chat-to-Chat except that I descended Ranger-Gregory instead of the front of the mountain, adding 5min to the overall time.  I was 1:56:15 at the summit of the Fourth Flatiron (the end of the climbing...I scramble the Fifth before the Fourth), which is only a couple minutes off my PR, so I was moving pretty well despite having to check my foot placements a few times on the Fifth due to a few remaining pockets of snow and ice.  By time I made it to the top of Green the clouds had moved down out of the high mountains and a few flakes were starting to fall.

Sun-AM: 2:46, 5800' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green Mt.
Oy, bit of a rough day on the mountain.  Started out tired and sluggish and then bonked like a champ on the Fourth (and final) Flatiron.  I could tell on the climb to Sentinel Pass that things were going sideways, but then my scramble of the Fifth was fairly normal before totally cratering on the slog up the Fourth.  That flatiron alone took me five minutes longer than usual. Still marched to the summit of the mountain to finish out the day, though.  I guess each of the last five days has been a pretty solid outing and it finally caught up to me.  The real reward today, though, was the low-lying layer of clouds blanketing the city...pretty awesome to be in some heroic, exposed position on the face of a Flatiron and feel like you're just floating on top of the clouds.

Hours: 15h16min
Vert: 28,700'

Another solid week.  Right now, my main goal is to get out and do a lot of scrunbling if the weather and rock conditions permit, and if they don't, then do a more "normal" run.  This has been working out well, giving me a fun mix to the daily rhythm.  I'll be heading home to Nebraska to see my parents at the end of this coming week, but I still want to tick some more December 14er Grid slots before the first of the year...Longs, Grays, and Torreys specifically.  Don't worry, Homie, I'm a neophyte with only 96 grid slots (out of 708) at current.  Silly, arbitrary peak baggery goals such as that are easy for someone like me to denigrate, but the fact of the matter is, there's part of me that is a lists/numbers guy and even more importantly, these kinds of goals can motivate me to get out the door and have experiences that I would otherwise let slip by.  Once I'm actually out there on the mountain my inspiration and motivation becomes much different--it almost always transfers to being the mountain itself, not some tick-mark on a list--but lists admittedly often offer a crucial, initial, inertia-overcoming nudge.

I do have a loose goal for 2013 of summiting Elbert, Grays, Torreys, Longs, Pikes, Evans, and Bierdstadt in each month of the year.  Maybe not Evans and Bierstadt...for some reason I've just never found those peaks to be very inspiring.  Maybe because there's a road to the top of Evans? Maybe because the approach from Echo Lake is so long?  Maybe because the trailhead at Guanella Pass seems cheatingly high? But, they are on the Front Range and that's why I'm including them.  I think March will be the crux month as this is typically the most wintry month of the year in Colorado and I'll be out of the country for most of it.

Moving right along, race-wise 2013 is looking super-exciting for me.  Of course, Hardrock really has no match when it comes to being the race-that-inspires-me-most, but the Ronda del Cims 170K in Andorra three weeks beforehand looks to be at least as aesthetic of a course, and--being included in the Skyrunning Series this year--it should attract a top-shelf group of athletes. At 105 miles/40k' of techy vertical, and the sobering fact that it took Miguel Heras 30hr to get around it...there's no way it won't be an epic outing in the Pyrenees.

My second half of the summer should be equally as quality.  I'm excited to go back to Speedgoat to support Karl's directing efforts and hopefully have a proper good run there--last summer was a scantily-salvaged disaster--and then Dakota's brand-spanking-new Telluride Mountain Run (T-Rad!) is sure to be an instant classic.  I love the fact that it's an off-distance 44mi and comprises one clean loop starting and finishing in Telluride.  As anyone who has been to the San Juans knows, there's simply no way you can go wrong there, course-wise.  And the course he's devised looks to be a true monster.  Right now he's sand-bagging everyone with the 15k' vert number, but it's really more like at least 16k' and we've had some programs register as high as 18k'.  It's gonna hurt.  Seven hours will probably be super impressive. But at least the scenery will be as good as it gets.

After that, I'll be treating my attempt at Nolan's 14 at the end of August like a race effort--train specifically all summer, focus, and taper--and it's probably the thing that I'm most excited about on my calendar.  Finally, if there's any gas in the tank after Nolan's, it'll be hard to stay away from UROC given that it's the Skyrunning Series Final this year and virtually in my backyard.  It looks like Francesca and Gill have done there level-best to put together a proper mountain course whilst linking together a bunch of Colorado's most iconic mountain towns (Breck, Frisco, Copper, Minturn, Vail).

Just gotta remain healthy...

I don't post many (any) Flatiron pics because they are all some variation of this. I find it's really hard to capture the scale and angle of the rock when solo, both because I'm holding onto the rock and because there's no one else around for scale.  This is looking down the East Face from the summit of the Third during a recent enchainment.  The low-angle, slabby final pitch is in the foreground with the rest of the face steepening and disappearing below.  I guess looking straight down on the pine trees nearly 1000' below offers a little scale.
Of course, I'm still making it to the top of Green regularly; I'll be right around 200 summits this year. This is representative of a pretty typical December weather day in Boulder this year.  Wildly mild, though that might finally change later this week...
La Plata Peak as seen from the summit of Elbert on Wednesday. Lots of blowing snow that morning due to some heinous winds and fresh powder.
I know I'm way behind on the whole Beach House thing, but I'm glad I finally gave them a chance. This song and really this whole album has been nearly non-stop for me for a few weeks now.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dec 3 - 9

Mon-AM: 2:33, 4500' ~ 3rd Flatiron+Green & Bear
Got up early for a romp over the peaks before flying to Texas.  Legs took a minute to get going but once they did I cruised a really solid pace for the full loop up Bear's West Ridge and then down Fern Canyon back to Chautauqua and back down to my apartment.

Tue-AM: 1:15 ~ Town Lake, Austin TX
Steady cruise all the way around the lake with Jurker (10mi+ loop).  A surprising amount of dirt to run on right from downtown and the hot humid weather even motivated a short swim at Barton Springs in the middle of the run.

Wed-AM: 1:15 ~ Town Lake, Austin TX
Reprisal of yesterday's outing, but solo, and no swimming as it was a markedly cooler morning.

Thu-AM: 1:44, 3000' ~ First Flatiron+Green Mt.
I was hoping to go for the big Double Quinfecta this morning, but as I jogged out of Chautauqua there were a few sprinkles and then half-way up the First this changed to snowflakes, so that, combined with my tired legs made it easy to bail after the First and just head to the summit of Green and enjoy a run down Bear Canyon instead.

Fri-AM: 4:07, 10,000' ~ Double Flatiron Quinfecta
One of my favorite days on the mountain recently. Starting from Chautauqua I scrambled all five flatirons, twice, in an out-and-back fashion: 1-2-3-5-4-5-4-3-2-1.  Right away I was in a pretty good groove and that just kept getting better the longer I was on the rocks.  On the bushwhack from the summit of the 4th back to the base of the 5th (for my second ascent) I traversed straight south, snuck around the backside of a big slab and descended the south side of the 5th, thus avoiding the hideous descent down the gulley between the 4th and 5th Flatirons. Also, on my second ascent of the 3rd I crossed the dry streambed next to the Royal Arch trail and did a full ascent of the 3rd, starting at the very bottom of the rock, instead of the standard East Bench start.  By time I'd made my way back to the base of the First Flatiron there were no less than five different parties roped up and perched on the lower East Face.  I was able to climb past them quickly and efficiently, though, and thanks to carrying a bottle of water and four gels I finished feeling strong. Full time Chat-to-Chat was 4:07:17. Including downclimbs, this outing consisted of somewhere between 100 and 110 pitches of climbing.

Sat-AM: 4:31, 6200' ~ El Chubbo Fat Ass Marathon
Headed up to Ft. Collins with Joe to get a tour of Clarkie's backyard hills.  I'd never done any running in Ft. Collins (other than racing XC), so it was fun to get in some miles with friends on fresh terrain.  Very runnable terrain, I must add, making this the longest proper run I've done in exactly a month.  Legs were tired from yesterday's big outing.  Afterwards was a jovial gathering at the Casa de Clarkie, replete with food, brews and friends. Good times for sure.

Sun-AM: 2:38, 5700' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green Mt.
I awoke to dry (but cold at +18F) conditions when I'd been expecting rain/snow, so I modified some old gloves into fingerless gloves so that I could get some skin on the rock and went and laced the Five Fountains one more time.  Can't stay away, especially when I know I'm going to be out of town the next few days.  Despite the cold it turned into a very pleasant morning out on the mountain.

Hours: 18h03min
Vert: 29,400'

Not much new to report.  Things are pretty mellow this time of year and I've been embracing that by focusing on a lot of scrambling (which, at the intensity I tend to go, still gets the heart rate high and keeps it there, believe me).  This week involved a lot more "real running" than usual, though, because of the trip to Texas and then the Fat Ass on Saturday.  If it ever snows, there will continue to be more of that in the mix.

The five numbered Flatirons on the east face of Green Mt here in Boulder.
A salty duo rehydrating at Clarkie's after El Chubbo. Photo: Rob Timko
Definitely worth 15 minutes.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Nov 26 - Dec 2

Mon-AM: 1:50, 4000' ~ Green & Bear
Got out with my college bud Dan Kraft (Imogene Pass winner this year) on a morning of freezing drizzle.  I was hoping to show him some scrambling but the glaze of ice over everything relegated us to the trails, which were also crazy slick in many spots.  My first time on the West Ridge of Bear since the fire this summer and the small re-route of the trail near the summit is actually quite nice. Also, I've been neglecting Fern Canyon for too long; love that descent.

Tue-AM: 2:07, 4500' ~ Mt. Elbert (14,433')
Up and down the NE ridge. Got up early and drove up to Leadville for some thin air. Hardly any snow and reasonable winds.  At least compared to the hurricane I experienced on Longs a couple days ago.

Wed-AM: 2:21, 4500' ~ La Plata Peak (14,336')
Up and down the NW ridge. Cold start (+5F at the trailhead) warmed up eventually until I crested the ridge at 12,700' or so when the wind kicked in. Not quite as snow-free as Elbert, but still distressingly dry.
PM: 0:43 ~ BRC Group Run and Ultimate Direction Signature Series Launch
Cruised a mellow loop on the creek paths with a couple hundred other folks before showing off the packs that we've been working on for the past nine months--and that are now available!

Thu-AM: 2:26, 5500' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green Mt.
Awesome day in the Flatirons.  I did the usual link-up, going 1-2-3-5-4 before grunting to the summit of Green and running back down to Chat via the NE ridge.  My scrambling skills were perfectly on-point today and I was moving really well all day long on both the climbs and downclimbs.  I tagged the summit of the 4th 1:54:35 from Chautauqua, so if I'd descended back to Chat from there I would expect to have done the full car-to-car link-up in 2:12 or so.  Still 10+ minutes off of Buzz's FKT, but I can take 5min alone off of my ascent to the summit of the First, so I might get there eventually, even without Buzz's downclimbing shenanigans on the 2nd and the 5th.  Right now, this is by far my favorite "run" to do in Boulder.  It offers over a vertical mile of ascent in probably less than 8mi of bipedal travel.
PM: 1:00, 1500' ~ Climbing: The Matron w/ Joe.
Parked in Eldo Spgs and hiked up Old Mesa to the Matron.  Joe led the first (sand-bagged 5.5) pitch after which we packed the rope and gear and just soloed the majestic East Face (5.0-5.2).  This is definitely one of the proudest rocks in the Boulder area. Our late start meant that by time we'd gotten to the second set of rap bolts it was basically dark already and definitely dark by time we were on the ground, which made for a frustrating stumble back down the boulders and through the woods back to the trail.  The whole outing ended up taking nearly 3hr--the 1hr timeframe was just the approach and descent.

Fri-AM: 2:01, 3000' ~ Third Flatiron+Green Mt.
Nice easy day.  Jogged up to Chat and the base of the Third for a super casual scramble and downclimb before tagging Green and descending Ranger-Gregory.
PM: Climbing w/ Joe.
Got in a quick cruise on The Owl on the Dome in Boulder Canyon.

Sat-AM: 2:32, 5500' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green Mt.
I'd wanted to go up Longs Peak this morning, but it was forecasted to have 85mph winds, so opted for a bunch of scrambling instead. Starting from Chat, I linked them all together in the usual order: 1-2-3-5-4.  I was right on my splits from Thursday until I got to the 5th where I decided to take the North Buttress route instead of my usual East Face North Side line.  The latter stays maybe 20-30' left of the north arete before joining it at an airy shoulder, and by doing so, avoids a ~30' section of slightly steeper 5.6 climbing with thin holds.  Today was my first time negotiating that in running shoes, so it took me a little longer.  Went to the top of the mountain after #4 before descending back down to Chat in sub-21min.

Sun-AM: 2:30, 5000' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta
Longs was still supposed to have 50mph+ wind gusts, and with the beautiful weather in Boulder it wasn't hard to convince myself to take advantage of the unseasonably warm temps and sneak in some more scrambling before heading down to Texas for the next three days. Decided to mix it up by going in descending order this morning, which allowed me to scout the descent off the top of the Fourth back down to the Royal Arch trail and then do a proper full ascent of the Third Flatiron (the standard route starts a couple hundred feet high on the face, from the East Bench).  I ran into Bill Wright at the base of the Third who was out linking up a bunch of Gerry Roach "Classic" routes, and then at the base of the First I ran into Dr. John Hill (medical director of the Leadville 100)--who helped me a lot with a knee injury a couple years ago. Good to see folks out enjoying the gorgeous day. The warm weather left me pretty dehydrated though, and by time I did the downclimb off the First I was bonking in spectacular fashion and couldn't find the motivation to ascend the extra 1000' to the summit of Green.  This hardly diminished the outing for me, though.
PM: Climbing with Joe.
Third Elephant Buttress, Standard Route, in Boulder Canyon.

Hours: 17h30min
Vert: 34,000'

I could feel myself starting to get some mojo back this week, even though I had a heavy emphasis on scrambling--or, "scrunbling", as Joe has dubbed the hybridization of running and scrambling.  This spate of weather won't last forever, so I've been trying to squeeze in as much rock as possible before it gets covered in snow and ice.  Especially as the weather turns, I'll be working more continuous running back into the routine, though, as my first couple of races in 2013 are very runnable affairs that will require a little turn-over, for sure.

Summit of La Plata Wednesday morning.
The lovely Sawatch.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Catching Up: Nov 12 - 25

Mon-AM: 2:31, 5300' ~ 2xGreen Mt.
Both laps I went up Gregory-Ranger and down the NE ridge.  Not a particularly inspired effort this morning--I seemed to be bonking pretty hard on the second climb--but got it in. Still waiting for encouraging signs of fitness; kinda feel like I'm in some doldrums right now.
PM: 1:06, 2700' ~ Green Mt.
Up 1st/2nd Access and down NE ridge. Started this one pretty late, so that when I got to the base of the First Flatiron I decided the combo of soloing on icy holds in the dark was probably not very wise.  Just ran the trail to the top then.

Tue-AM: 1:00 ~ Creek Path
Got up at 5:00am for an easy hour mostly in the dark before flying to Tennessee.  This was the most pathetic run I've had in a while.  I usually reserve this kind of shuffling for the week after a 100mi race, but I think I woke in the middle of a sleep cycle or something because my legs would simply not function. Literally 10min/mi pace.

Wed-AM: 0:50, maybe 1000'? ~ Percy Warner Park, Nashville TN
Went out for what would've been a nice jog with a big group in the peaking leaves in Nashville except that I was coming down with flu-like symptoms and I felt absolutely terrible.

Thu-Sat: SICK
Suffered through the flight/bus home on Wednesday and spent the next three days bed-ridden.

Sun-AM: 2:10, 2500' ~ Satan's Slab & Fifth Flatiron
Parked at NCAR with Joe and hiked casually up to Skunk Canyon, enjoying the beautiful fall day. Changed into rock shoes at the base of the imposing slab and started up.  The first stretch up the water chute held the crux of the day with some semi-desperate weird little thin pocket holds on a slightly steeper stretch.  The 5.6 climbing there was legit.  Above that gaining the ridge was more moderate and the south ridge itself was a spectacular arete.  The next crux was the negotiation of a big boulder that had some wild exposure on steeper than average rock.  Not a slab.  The rest of the climb was a romp, finishing with consistent 5.4 to the fantastic summit.

Hours: 7h27min
Vert: 11,500'


Mon-AM: 1:51, 3000' ~ 5th Flatiron+Green Mt.
After yesterday's outing with Joe I returned to the Fifth to try out what was supposed to be an easier line on it's east face--East Face North Side--so as to be climbable in running shoes. Turns out it was a heavily-sandbagged rating in the guidebook (check the comments on the mountainproject link), and it isn't really any easier than sticking to the North Buttress route that we climbed yesterday. Some tense moments as a result, but I got through it, and after completing our downclimb (on the south side of the rock--the usual sneak is on the north side), I continued on to the summit of Green before descending.

Tue-AM: 2:52, 5000' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta
Awesome day out with Joe.  After feeling so sketched yesterday on the Fifth I advocated starting with the First so as to get my confidence back up (even though it contains, by far, the hardest climbing of the whole link-up).  After lacing together the first three Flatirons we descended to the Royal Arch trail, humped over Sentinel Pass, and decided to do the Fourth before the Fifth, poo-poo-ing reports that the descent between the 4th and 5th flatirons is truly heinous.  Climbing the Fourth was fun (only my second time ever) despite the grubby upper piece of rock and then we suffered and swore and grumbled our way down that gulley; I'll never go back there.  Finally, at the base of the Fifth I confidently led the way up the route that had given me the willies the day before with zero issue.  Joe and I were both bonking pretty badly at this point and were quite dehydrated on the ridiculously warm fall day, but 23min after leaving the summit of the 5th, we were back at Chat.

Wed-AM: 2:27, 4000' ~ Angels Way+5th Flatiron+4th Flatiron+Green Mt.
Joe and I were back at Chat this morning for another epic scrambling session.  Jogged the Mesa trail over to Skunk Canyon and quickly dispatched of Angel's Way--an extremely aesthetic ridge of rock but with only occasional 5.0-5.2 difficulties more of a hike than anything. From the top of Angel's we bushwhacked over to the base of the Fifth Flatiron where Joe climbed the North Buttress and I went up the East Face North Side.  Descended to the base of the Fourth, climbed the whole thing, and then I told Joe that I was either going to tag the summit of Green or climb the full east face of the Third (we were both pretty parched again). He chose Green, so we headed up there before descending back to Chat.

Thu-AM: 2:40, 5500' ~ Flatiron Quinfecta+Green Mt.
Starting from Chat I linked up the five Flatirons again: 1st-2nd-3rd-5th-4th.  Switching the order of the last two avoids the heinous bushwhack down the gulley between those two rocks.  And for me, today, it left the highest flatiron--the Fourth--for last, putting me the closest to the summit of Green at the end of the link-up. After this morning I have some new respect for Buzz Burrell's and Bill Briggs' extremely strong efforts on this enchainment.  Buzz has the FKT at 2:01:xx, but chose to downclimb the 2nd and 5th Flatirons--to make the 2nd more interesting, and to save time on the 5th, I imagine. This is impressive style and may be necessary in order to break the record, but something in me definitely appreciates the symmetry of actually ascending the east face of each rock.  If I had simply descended back to Chautauqua this morning--instead of continuing on to the summit of Green--I think I would've been in the 2:25-28 range for the full car-to-car link-up, so I definitely have some work to do. Going 2hr-flat definitely requires a higher level of fitness than I currently have, too.  Either way, a particularly fantastic start to Thanksgiving Day.

Fri-AM: 2:00, 3200' ~ Third Flatiron+Green Mt.
Ran to Chat and then up the Royal Arch Trail to the true base of the Third Flatiron.  The standard East Face route starts a couple hundred feet up the rock from the East Bench.  I always thought that was kind of strange, but after this morning's scramble I don't mind it--there wasn't really any interesting climbing below the usual start.  After downclimbing and tagging the summit of Green I descended Greenman-Gregory.

Sat-AM: 4:45, 6000' ~ Longs Peak (14,255')
With Joe, ascended via The Loft and descended the Keyhole. It was so windy in the parking lot that we almost decided not to even attempt going up the mountain. but of course resolved to at least go to treeline to suss the conditions.  At treeline I suggested we head up to the Loft because I thought it would be a little more sheltered from the wind.  As we neared the top of the Loft couloir we clearly saw the easy ramp to the left that exits onto the Loft but instead donned crampons and scrambled up a more direct 4th Class line of exposed ledges and popped over the headwall to find a party of two building an anchor to rappel what we'd just climbed.  Our route-finding blunders weren't over yet, though, as I inadvertently led us the extra 700' up to the summit of the Beaver only to be stymied by the Notch, of course.  After dropping 1000' back down to Clark's Arrow we finally crawled our way up the Homestretch slabs to the summit of Longs--it'd taken us a ridiculous 3:35 to get there, losing nearly an hour alone on the headwall below the Loft--and descended the Keyhole uneventfully (other than the hurricane-like winds) in 1:10. Yet another learning experience.

Sun-AM: 2:16, 4000' ~ 5th Flatiron+4th Flatiron+Green Mt+The Spy
Ran up to Chat and took the Royal Arch Trail to the base of the Fifth.  Linked the two flatties, tagged Green, and then headed down to the base of the First Flatiron to scramble The Spy. It's a very short climb (300'), so if it wasn't such a cool position on a narrow, hyper-exposed ridge, it wouldn't even really be worth doing. Felt strong on the run home, nice to finally be feeling some energy again.

Hours: 18h52min
Vert: 30,700'

Even before I got sick out in Tennessee 10 days ago, my running wasn't going very well.  Ever since I got back from South Africa in mid-October I'd been low on energy.  For a couple of weeks I crammed in the volume and vertical, trying to build strength and fitness and confidence, but, of course, the harder I tried, the more forced and sluggish things became.  Pretty classic case of end-of-the-year burn-out.  So, when I finally came down with the flu and was relegated to laying in bed for several days, it was obvious my body was trying to tell me something so I decided to quit forcing things and just get outside on feel, with no goal-oriented ambitions.  I called off competing in The North Face 50mi Championships and for the past week have instead done a lot of scrambling in the Flatirons.  I'll keep up this schedule of running (/climbing) once per day at least until the end of the year, and probably beyond, before I truly begin to build up for a fun-filled spring and summer season of racing and summits.  I'll definitely continue to get out and tag peaks, but it will be with low expectations and probably a lot of slow, non-race-specific snow-slogging.  The best part is that I'm healthy and I feel fortunate to be voluntarily choosing to scale back the running instead of being forced into it by injury, which so often seems to be the case.

Picking my way up a crux on Satan's Slab last weekend. Photo: Joe Grant.
An airy perch hanging out over Satan's east face. Photo: Joe Grant.
The fantastic North Arete, just below the summit of the Fifth Flatiron. Photo: Joe Grant.
Summit of the Fifth last Sunday. Photo: Joe Grant.
North face of Mt. Meeker as seen from our perch in the Loft couloir Saturday morning. Photo: Joe Grant.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Week Summary: Nov 5 - 11

Mon-AM: 2:11, 3200' ~ Third Flatiron+Green Mt.
Really nice cruise up the mountain with a descent of Bear Cyn. More energy than expected.
PM: 1:04, 1600' ~ First Flatiron
Started this in the dark after a late-afternoon massage with Jeff Staron, who worked on my fibula/peroneals.  Climbing the First in the dark by headlamp was more than a little spooky, especially with the strong winds that I found on the North Arete.  For some reason not having a sense of scale for the exposure (due to my sight being limited to the cone of my headlamp) was more unnerving than scrambling it in broad daylight.  Pretty sure I won't make this a regular practice. Really slow, tentative run back down to Chat after the downclimb.

Tue-AM: 2:32, 5300' ~ 2xGreen Mt.
Went up Gregory-Ranger and down the front both times. First lap was with Dakota and I think this, unfortunately, pushed me to go a little harder than I should've and I ended up running the second climb slower, which is really rare for me.  Good to start reintegrating some running ascents of the mountain (as opposed to my now-usual running/scrambling/grunting/hiking affairs) back into the routine. Race specificity.
PM: 1:00, 2000' ~ First Flatiron+
Joe and I led Dakota on a casual scramble of the First from Chautauqua. We'd had hopes of getting in a couple other objectives, too--and even thrashed around looking for the base of the Spy in the dark--but the dynamics of group scrambling had us moving a little slower than usual and darkness came too quickly to get on anything else without headlamps.

Wed-AM: 2:10, 3200' ~ Third Flatiron+Green Mt.
Up the Third and then down Bear Canyon and back on Mesa.  I really like this loop...a nice mix of scrambling, steep hiking, and cruiser scenic singletrack.  My legs were fairly tired this morning--I've been going at it hard non-stop for the last 10 days or so with no easy day--so I just took things mellow. Try to rest up today for either a legit long run tomorrow or another lap on Longs Peak.

Thu-AM: 4:43, 8100' ~ Green-Walker Ranch-Eldo Cyn-Green
Started out by heading up Amp-SR-Greeman on the frontside of Green and then ran down to Walker Ranch for a CCW loop before heading back through Eldorado Canyon and back up to Bear Canyon via the Old Mesa Trail. Finished by descending the frontside of Green and running home.  This loop is my standard race-prep long run, and I'll add an extra lap on Green (so another ~5mi/2500'/1hr) each of the next two weeks as progression. This is the longest continuous run (other than the first 42mi of the LT100) that I've done in the past two years, so it was really good to get it in.  I wasn't climbing particularly well, but not badly either, and overall kept a pretty high pace, definitely not just jogging around...this is somewhere in the 30-32mi range. Really fun day out; I've missed being healthy enough to do these kinds of runs.

Fri-AM: 2:06, 3800' ~ 2nd+3rd Flatirons+Green Mt.
Didn't have shoes with sticky enough rubber to comfortably negotiate the first few hundred feet of the First Flatiron so I scrambled both the Second and Third instead before heading to the top of the mountain and descending Gregory-Ranger.
PM: 1:32, 3000' ~ Flatiron Trifecta
Was originally planning on just heading up the First Flatiron and then to the summit of Green but after I felt really good on that original scramble I made the on-the-fly decision to link-up the Second and Third as well. I did the First downclimb and the full scramble of the Second before having to finally switch on  my headlamp and then enjoyed a fully-in-the-dark scaling of the Third.  I must say, it was much less nerve-wracking than my headlamp ascent of the First earlier in the week.  Should've been well under 1h30 for my Chat-to-Chat time, but I was lazy on the final techy descent in the dark.

Sat-AM: 2:13, 3200' ~ Third Flatiron+Green Mt.
Still had some tired legs, so just jogged up the hill and was happy to sneak in a final scramble on the Third before the snowstorm---flakes started falling about half-way up the face and I started worrying a bit about wet rock, but I made it up and then down the SW Chimney with no issues. Descended Bear Canyon.
PM: 1:01 ~ Creek Paths
Wow, first run I've done like this in a long, long time.  Didn't feel like mucking around in the drizzle and dark up on the mountain so just cruised around the flatlands. Too many runs like this and I'll have to start tracking miles again...

Sun-AM: 2:00, 3000' ~ Green Mt.
Up Gregory-Ranger and down Bear Canyon. the new, crusty shellacking of snow on everything made for a nice change, but the wind on the ridge was pretty biting. Legs finally felt "back" after Thu's long run.
PM: 1:02, 2700' ~ Green Mt.
From Chat went up ASG and down the NE ridge. Didn't have to employ the headlamp until the downhill, which was nice. Arctic frigid wind ripping on the summit.

Hours: 23h34min
Vert: 39,100'

Kind of an up-and-down week for me in the lowlands of Boulder.  Fatigue finally caught up with me mid-week after ten days straight w/o much rest, so an easy day there set me up for my first legitimate long run in a long, long time on Thursday.  It went well enough and reminded me of the joys of moving continuously and quickly over easy terrain...a different kind of kinesthetic experience from all the scrambling and off-trail travel that I've spent much of the last six months pursuing.  Races demand specificity, however, which is probably a good thing for my fitness.  Weather shut down any weekend plans for high peaks, so I'll likely make an effort to get out tomorrow before I visit Nashville for a Fleet Feet speaking visit on Tue/Wednesday.  I'm still only very fleetingly confident in my trail running fitness, so hope I can increasingly bolster that over the next two weeks.  We'll see, this time of year feels so unnatural for having any kind of killer competitive ambitions.

All five Flatirons set in stark relief this morning.
Summit of Green, with Bear Peak in the background (the West Ridge trail is finally open!).
Dinosaur Mt (at the mouth of Bear Cyn) always looks to offer so many promising scrambling opportunities.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Week Summary: Oct 29 - Nov 4

Mon-AM: 1:37, 3300' ~ Third Flatiron+Green Mt.
Most of the snow was gone, so enjoyed a nice day on the hill. The wind on the last pitch of the scramble made it feel really sketchy on the downclimb, but I made it through.  Took a long descent down Greenman and Gregory and was really psyched to feel nothing in my fibula.  Jeff's massage seems to have really worked.
PM: 0:41, 1600' ~ First Flatiron
Cruisy quick lap on the Flattie before the sun set, from Chautauqua.  Leg felt great, really nice warm evening.

Tue-AM: 2:16, 4500' ~ Mt. Elbert (14,433')
Up and down the NE ridge. Ugh, kind of a rude re-introduction to altitude.  It's been six weeks since I've been over 4000m (well, I haven't even been over 2500m in the past six weeks), so the uphill was definitely a struggle today.  The truck said it was 12F when I woke up, but I was sweating in the sun on the climb and generally enjoyed a comfortable day weatherwise...very little wind.  Really fun to get back up in the high country, very little snow up there still.

Wed-AM: 2:58, 5000' ~ Longs Peak (14,255')
Joe and I started from the East TH and took the Reveley Route over the shoulder of Mt Lady Washington to the base of the old Cables Route on the North Face where we donned crampons and headed up the relatively short, iced-in dihedral that goes at 5.4 in summer conditions.  I was in a pair of steel Kahtoola KTS crampons and was very impressed at their lightweight performance on both steep ice and rock. Descended via the Keyhole before cutting back over the shoulder of MLW and back down to the trailhead.  Weather conditions were ideal with reasonable temps, moderate winds, and clear skies. Metal traction was only mandatory from Chasm View to the summit.  This happened to be my 100th 14er summit of the year and my 14th summit of Longs Peak this year (but June was the first time I'd ever been up Longs, so my 14th summit ever of the mountain, too.).

Thu-AM: 2:04, 4500' ~ Flatiron Trifecta+Green Mt.
Linked-up the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Flatirons before heading to the top of the mountain and running back down to Chat via Ranger-Gregory. Haven't completed this enchainment in a couple of months, so it was fun to string together what ends up being ~2500' of scrambling.
PM: 1:08, 3000' ~ First Flatiron+Green Mt.
Quick spin up the hill, with a snappy 12:45 scramble of the east face. Timed it perfectly to get back to Chat right as it was getting dark.

Fri-AM: 2:31, 4500' ~ Torreys & Grays Peaks (14,270' & 14,267')
Parked half-way up the road and summited Torreys via the Kelso Ridge before bopping over and tagging Grays, too.  Conditions were pretty nice, frigid on the summits, but not terrible and the snow wasn't too troubling on the ridge.  My energy on the uphills, however, was rock-bottom.  I had nothing.  But, on the downhills my legs seemed to have plenty of pep, so maybe just the altitude affecting me?
PM: 1:00, 700' ~ East Leadville trails
Nice, peppy cruise at sunset (which was amazing).  It was fun to feel good after feeling so wasted this morning.

Sat-AM: 2:53, 6000' ~ Belford-Oxford-Belford (14,197' & 14,153')
From the Missouri Gulch TH. Seriously seemed like maybe September conditions. I took Microspikes but never needed them; any snow was either powdery and trivial or nicely-packed and my shoes gripped fine. Took me a long time to get into the sun, but once I was it was warm...unless there was a breeze. Then it got cold real quick. Overall, a beautiful morning, though.
PM: 1:07, 2200' ~ Mt. Sherman (14,036')
From Iowa Gulch. Got this in quick, finishing just as it got too dark to really run. Felt really good on the uphill, which was encouraging because I've been really struggling with energy above treeline this week. Once on the ridge it was crazy windy (and cold) but manageable. Pretty cool to be watching the sun setting over the Sawatch from the other side of the valley.

Sun-AM: 2:56, 5000' ~ Mt. Massive (14,421')
Started from the Half Moon TH and went up the east slopes before descending the southwest slopes.  Not too much snow to deal with ever, but the wind above treeline was pretty bad.  Lots of hunkering down in my hood just marching up into the gale. The run down was much more pleasant and it was fun to do the run as a loop instead of the usual out-and-back that happens on 14ers.
PM: 1:20, 1700' ~ Stairway To Heaven
Started from NOAA with Joe and jogged up Skunk Canyon to the base of the Stairway To Heaven rock ridge on the north side of the canyon. Found some exceptionally good rock in places with wild exposure (typical of the flatirons) and then just some 3rd-4th Class scrambling in other spots. The summits of Like Heaven and Heaven were totally worthwhile, though, especially with the stunning views of Satan's Slab immediately to the west. Getting off the rock was a touch hairier than expected, but the downclimb will be way easier doing it a second time. Jogged back down to the car after some casual exploring around.

Hours: 22h31min
Total: 42,000'

Well, this marks the first week back to full activity after my three weeks of doing mostly nothing.  Much credit must be given to Jeff Staron, who largely fixed my fibula/peroneal injury with one incredibly painful visit last Friday.  When Rickey Gates first recommended Jeff, he claimed he was a miracle worker.  Now I believe it.  I also finally moved into an apartment this week after seven months in the Roost.  Of course, I then promptly went on a three-day trip back to the big mountains.

My efforts at altitude this week have been all over the place.  Except for Longs Peak on Wednesday and Mt. Sherman Saturday evening I have invariably felt like an utter sloth when trying to go uphill above treeline.  I know that shouldn't be surprising, but in past instances of re-acclimating to altitude it hasn't been this sluggish of a process, so I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I'm dealing with a bit of an iron deficiency.  I'll probably give it another week before I become truly concerned.  Either way, it's been a blast getting back to the high country, and nice to experience the big mountains in a different season.

Some video footage of our ascent of Longs on Wednesday, courtesy of Joe.

North Face route on Longs ascends directly to the right of the Diamond.
The Knife Edge on the upper Kelso Ridge of Torreys Friday morning.

Belford summit Saturday morning.
Lenticular cloud ripping over the south summit of Massive Sunday morning.
Summit of Massive.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Week Summary: Oct 22 - 28

Mon-AM: 0:44, 1600' ~ First Flatiron
Mellow scramble, but my peroneals/fibula acted up right at the end on the run down the hard-packed dirt back to Chautauqua.
PM: Climbing with Jenny.
Did the Owl on The Dome at the base of Boulder Canyon. Funky roof on the final pitch but overall lots of fun.

Tue-AM: 0:45, 1600' ~ First Flatiron
Same as yesterday morning except I descended Saddle Rock to Amphitheater, which seemed to be nicer on the fibula as it only tweaked slightly right at the end.
PM: Climbing+Gym Climbing (Eldo and Movement).
Buzz and I got on Calypso down in Eldo and after the second pitch traversed the ledge over to the bottom of the final pitch of Wind Ridge so that we could top out on Wind Tower. Fun stuff, especially the downclimb on the descent.  Immediately afterwards I met Marissa for a couple hours of climbing plastic at Movement, which was a first for me, plus pretty frustrating considering I was already pumped from the couple of hours spent on real rock beforehand.  Also, gym ratings are so bogus.

Wed-AM: 0:48, 1600' ~ First Flatiron
Standard run up to the base, scramble and downclimb and run back down to Chat. Peroneals didn't hurt at all, which was nice.
PM: 1:00, 1600' ~ First Flatiron w/ Joe.
Did a casual hiking scramble of the Flattie, snuck this in right before it started raining...clouds were swirling on the summit and we got a little wet on the walk back down to the car.

Thu-AM: 1:10, 1000' ~ Gold Hill
Ran in the cold, fresh snow from Joe's house.  Predictably, the fibula was totally fine for 45min but then tightened up after that. Full-on winter run here at between 8500' and 9000'.

Fri-AM: 0:50, 500' ~ Gold Hill
Another snowy run from Joe's house, but this time we got above the clouds, which was as beautiful as one might expect. Fibula acted up right at the end again.  Got a crazy painful massage from Jeff Staron afterwards that left my lower leg immediately sore but hopefully did some good.

Sat-AM: 1:41, 3000' ~ Flagstaff+Green Mt.
Met up with some friends to get back to the basics in the Boulder hills. Kept it super mellow all the way to the summit of Green, but it was nice to catch up with people I don't always make time to run with.  I was just testing out my peroneals, so after hitting the top of the mountain I ran back down Ranger and Gregory Canyon, pretty psyched to have no pain, just soreness from the massage yesterday.  Gorgeous day with all the snow.
PM: Climbing w/ Joe.
Did three laps on the Umbrella Tree top-rope near Crown Rocks on Flagstaff.  Was able to send the direct line, which is allegedly 5.10 but seemed a bit soft for that.

Sun-AM: 1:18, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up Gregory Canyon and down the trail between the 1st and 2nd Flatirons for the descent.  First time I've run Gregory Canyon (and Ranger) in quite a while. Though a proper trail the whole way there are still some legitimately steep sections in there. Tough. All in all, feeling awkward and out-of-shape these days.  Ice turned much of the descent into a tentative walk without Microspikes.
PM: Climbing w/ Joe.
Parked at the Elephant Buttresses near the bottom of Boulder Canyon and just top-roped from a set of anchors on that big jumble of rock between the parking lot and the actual Buttresses. Got in a couple of laps before the sun was gone.

Hours: 8h16min
Total: 13,500'

This week started out tentatively and was turning in a depressing direction as my fibula/peroneals were still giving me a bunch of trouble, but then the massage with Jeff on Friday morning seemed to magically fix the issue and I'm now running basically as much as I want, pain-free.  Incredible.  I got in a lot of rock climbing this week, and I plan on keeping that up, but after two weeks completely off and this third week of very low volume I'm feeling pretty fat and out of shape. It was a break I needed, and my fitness should come back quickly, but maybe not as quickly as I'd like.  I'd still like to race one more time this year...

Sussing the final pitch on The Owl, Dome Rock. Photo: Jenny Jurek.
And, in the spirit of election season, a catchy little tune written by an old college friend.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Week Summary: Oct 1 - 7 (+ an off week)

Mon-AM: 2:19, 3300' ~ Refugi Sant Jordi
Ran the quiet, bucolic road from our hotel (Ca l'Amgata--truly amazing hospitality; honestly, it blows my mind) ~30min to the start of the trail up the canyon to the Refugi.  Nice mellow trot up the incredibly scenic climb for the third time in the past week, and then ran the last 12K of the race course back into Baga.  Took a while for things to get loosened up at first (left achilles, mostly), but then everything felt good except for my right big toe joint/extensor on the extended downhill.  Really fun to see these mountains on a nice sunny morning instead of having them hide in the clouds.  Spent the rest of the day meeting with BUFF designers and touring the factory just outside of Barcelona. I had no idea that all of their production is right there, nothing in China. The apparel (as opposed to headwear) is manufactured in Portugal, but everything else happens there in Igualada.

Tue-AM: 1:30, 1100' Basreny River out and back
Nice early 6:30am start in the dark under the very bright light of the moon before an all-day photo shoot up near Pedra Forca.  Legs felt way better than yesterday, including my toe.

Wed-AM: 1:52, 1800' ~ Collserola Park/Tibidabo
Run in Collserola with Nacho and Pol from New Balance.  Really tired legs.
PM: 0:58 ~ Barcelona Beach
Ran down through the Gothic district from my hotel down to the beach and back. Tired legs and tough negotiating my way through crowds of people nearly the entire way.

Thu-AM: 2:04, 4000' ~ Montserrat
Run from Montsellero with Just Sensio and Nacho.  They took me on a ~25k route of an old race course that climbs from town to the summit of the mountain and back down.  Awesome line that finishes with a really steep grunt up a canyon to the summit, complete with a couple of fixed ropes. Legs felt good and it was a ton of fun on an awesome mountain.
PM: 1:00 ~ Barcelona Beach
Much better run down along the beachfront. Found a more direct route and legs felt quite good.

Fri-AM: 2:12, 1700' ~ Collserola Park/Tibidabo
Ran from the hotel up to the forest/hills/trails.  Spent some time contouring on the Carretera des Aigues where I ran into a couple of familiar faces--Richard and then later, Allesandra.  The 25min of noisy, polluted, crowded street running on Balmes on either end of the run wasn't very pleasant, but so it goes when exploring a city I suppose.

Sat-AM: 2:33, 5000' ~ Montseny Traverse
With Nacho and Roberto Sancho.  Started from Coll Formic at 1100m above the town of Montseny and linked together the three main summits in the park, which included a pair of ~2000' climbs plus a couple other bumps followed by a screaming 4000' descent back down to Montseny.  The second climb was a very fun scramble up an aesthetic ridge to the summit..."La directa!"
PM: 1:01, 600' ~ Park Guell
Ran up to this iconic park where Gaudi has several impressive tile mosaics.  Legs were tired so I just stumped along through the streets and then enjoyed the art and views of the city from the park.

Sun-AM: 1:40, 1500' ~ Tibidabo Cathedral
Was running by 6:40am, which isn't early but feels really early these days now that it doesn't get light until after 7:30am.  The run up Balmes to the park was interesting in that I got to see all kinds of people still out after a long night of raging. Nice run up and down the trails in the park and then back on Balmes to the hotel.  My right leg really started acting up on this run, to the point where I was definitely favoring it and limping by the end--really weird, nervy peroneal/fibular pain that shoots up and down my whole leg at odd times.  Hurts more to walk than run, and it's a really weird feeling...not usual muscular tightness/soreness at all.  Feels almost like something having to do with a nerve, not muscular.

Hours: 17h09min
Vert: 19,000'

My legs came around quite quickly after the race and my local mountain runs near Barcelona on Thursday and Saturday were of a much higher quality than I could've ever planned on my own.  Many thanks to Pol, Nacho, Just, Roberto, and Dani for all rallying and showing me the two main playgrounds near (within 45min driving) Barcelona--Montserrat and Montseny.  Both were top-notch outings that I will definitely make sure to not miss the next time I'm in Barcelona.

Last week ended on a bit of a down note, though.  On my last run in Barcelona (Sunday morning) before catching a plane (and enduring 30hr of transit) to Cape Town, SA my right leg started acting up in a really weird way...not sure how to describe it except it feels like my peroneals/fibula, but it doesn't feel muscular at all.  Much more nervy.

I thought a day of rest whilst traveling would help set it right, but on my first attempt at a jog in Tonaika Forest in Cape Town on Tuesday morning it worsened and I had to walk back to the car after only 20min.  The wonderful folks at New Balance in SA got me right in for an appointment with a physio at the Sports Science Institute that afternoon, though, and it seems I aggravated a nerve (the sural nerve?) and it needs a few days of rest to quiet down.  This all meant that I had to miss the Otter Run and came back to Boulder a couple of days early, which was obviously a bit of a bummer, but I'm also happy to be back and look forward to getting back into a regular daily routine and getting fully healthy.  I'm taking this ill-timed niggle as an opportunity to rest for a week or two and recharge the batteries before hopefully getting in a nice block of training before the TNF50 Champs in San Fran on December 1st, which I'm looking ahead to with a lot more confidence after my run at Cavalls.

On Montserrat with Just. Photo: Nacho Puig.
Summit of Montserrat on Thursday morning, a 1000m climb up and out of the clouds. Photo: Nacho Puig.
La Sagrada Familia--Guadi's vision still being constructed nearly 100 years after his death.
Barcelona at dusk as seen from Park Guell. Mediterranean Sea in the distance.
On the first summit of the day at Montseny outside of Barcelona, looking at the next peak in the distance.
Final scramble to the summit of the second peak in Montseny.
Roberto reaching the summit after the scramble.  Pyrenees on the horizon.
Chapman's Peak overlook at sunset, near Hout Bay in Cape Town.
Camps Bay from the summit of Table Mountain.
Cape Town.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Week Summary: Sept 24 - 30

Mon- off, traveling to Spain.

Tue-AM: 1:34, 3500' ~ Pedra Forca
Drove with Dakota, Frosty, and Nuria to the foot of Pedra Forca near Baga (the start/finish town for Cavalls del Vent), which is a very dramatic rabbit-eared shape mountain whose base we run along during the race.  Ran to the summit--including some fun, optional scrambling on the excellent limestone--before descending between the rabbit ears on some not-optimal scree.  Really nice introduction to the Pyrenees.

Wed-AM: 1:20, 2700' ~ Refugi Sant Jordi
Ran from approximately km67 to km78 on the Cavalls course with Phillip Reiter, Emelie, and Frosty, which included the last two major climbs of the loop--a 600m (2000') run up a gorgeous canyon to the Refugi and then a small descent followed by a 200m (700') bop up to the final pass with incredible views of the cliff faces on the south side of the range.  Gloomy, humid conditions and all in all it was a gorgeous morning out. The first climb felt quite gradual, but the final bop will definitely have some hiking in it come race day. Really seems like it will be a mint course, judging from this small taste.

Thu-AM: 1:27, 2200' ~ Queralt Monastery
Ran up to the monastery on the mountains above Berga from the house and back down. Really nice mountains behind town with lots of trails, wish I could explore more.

Fri-AM: 0:34, 800' ~ Queralt Monastery
Drove up to the monastery with Anna and Dakota and went for a short, flattish out-and-back. Cool, gloomy day. Would be good weather for tomorrow, but it's supposed to rain all day, which is fine, too.

Sat-AM: 8:49, 19,600' ~ Cavalls del Vent 84K
2nd place, 7min behind Kilian. Both of us were under Miguel Heras' previous course record. Really cool to have Dakota round out the podium.  Pretty crazy bad weather conditions...only 183 of the 900 starters finished, many succumbing to hypothermia.

Sun-PM: off.  Wanna make sure I recover, but things feel fine except for my big toe joints. Weird.

Hours: 13h44min
Vert: 28,800'

Taper week in Spain leading up to Cavalls del Vent.  Not much else to say; the race went well.

The view from our house in Berga, at the foot of the Pyrenees.
Berga, from the Queralt Monastery high on the mountain.
Pedra Forca (Forked Rock?) outside of Baga.
Summit of Pedra Forca with Dakota, Frosty, Nuria and a Catalonian flag.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Week Summary: Sept 17 - 23

Mon-AM: 3:23, 7000' ~ Grand Teton (13,770')
Not many mountains are more inspiring than this one. Driving in early in the morning over from Dubois there was a crazy amount of smoke settled in the valley and I could barely see the peaks most of the way, but once I got, such proud summits. I'd heard there was some ice in the chimneys on the Owen-Spalding route, but conditions seemed perfect, so I figured I'd go give it a shot, even if I was turned around only a few hundred feet from the top.  Had pretty decent legs on the run up Garnet Canyon and the climb from the Lower Saddle to the Upper Saddle felt shorter than I remembered from July.  It was cold and blustery on the OS, though, and once in the chimneys there was indeed some ice, not to mention cold rubber that didn't seem to want to stick to the rock as well as I remembered, nor gloved hands that wanted to grip very well either.  I passed a couple of roped-up parties, but had the summit to myself, which was really nice. The descent went well and I mostly just enjoyed being in one of the more special ranges in the country.  Lost probably 6-7min roundtrip due to the ice in the chimneys, but I ascended in 2:08 and descended in 1:15.

Tue-AM: 8:46, 8700' ~ Gannet Peak (13,804')
One of my favorite days in the mountains this season. New FKT.

Wed-AM: 2:05, 4500' ~ Flatiron Trifecta+Green Mt.
After getting up at 5:00am to finish the final 3hr+ drive home from WY, I went straight to Chat and got on the rocks.  My legs were surprisingly minimally affected by yesterday's effort, so on my jog out of the parking lot I decided to hit all three flatirons.  The First went well with a reasonably quick 12:45 scramble and 3min downclimb. On the descent to the base of the Second I could definitely feel all of yesterday's boulder-hopping, but the scramble went well in 11:30.  More boulder-hopping over to the base of the Third, and I laced that in an only-10sec-off-PR 7:30 before a quick 5:50 downclimb. The march to the summit of Green was a bit of a slog, but I held it together and back down at Chat in 1:57 I rounded out the day's time with a mile of barefoot on the lawn there. Awesome morning.
PM: 1:18, 3000' ~ First Flatiron+Green Mt.
I was feeling lazy and just kept the whole outing leisurely with a 16:30 scramble and a mellow effort on the rest of the mountain. Amazing sunset from the top of Green, though.

Thu-AM: 4:37, 6500' ~ Audubon (13,233'), Paiute (13,088'), Toll (12,979'), Pawnee (12,943'), Shoshoni (12,967'), Apache (13,441'), Navajo (13,409')
Started from the Long Lake TH with Joe. Ran the 6min on road over to the Audubon TH and headed up the mountain. The pace seemed pretty mellow, but I could tell my legs were still pretty haggard from the past three days. I was really uncoordinated on the ridge traverse of boulder hopping from Audubon to Paiute, but seemed to find some dexterity on the descent down to the north ridge of Toll.  Mount Toll was awesome.  Joe and I located the sneaky ramp on the west side which ends in an even sneakier, exposed, cruxy step-across.  It doesn't look like it's going to go, but it does!  Which would become a theme of the day.  Pawnee was a simple talus walk-up, as was Shoshoni, but then the real fun began as we engaged the airy, sometimes loose 4th Class ledges of The Chessmen that guard the traverse over to Apache.  This section was magnificent, high above Isabelle Glacier and despite my low energy we were having an awesome day out.  The final climb from Dicker's Peck to the summit of Navajo looked quite intimidating, but for seemingly the dozenth time all day, once on the face it was actually very fun 4th Class with enjoyable route-finding and an impressive summit. From there we dropped into Airplane Gully (a plane crashed in there in 1943, there is still wreckage) and made our way back down to Lake Isabelle and the trail back to the car.  Awesome day out on some of the most fun, inspiring terrain anywhere.

Fri-AM: 2:02, 3200' ~ Third Flatiron+Green Mt.
Ran from Eben G. Fine Park up to Chat, scrambled the Third easy in 8:55, downclimbed the SW Chimney and tagged the summit of Green before descending Bear Canyon back to Chautauqua.  This has to be my favorite easy day loop, such a fun variety of terrain from flat running, to scrambling, to steep hiking, to fast descending through the canyon.

Sat-AM: 2:06, 3200' ~ Third Flatiron+Green Mt.
Ran up to Chat and then to the base of the Third, scrambled it in 8:35, downclimbed, grunted to the summit of Green and descended Bear Canyon again. The downclimb took 5min longer than yesterday because of the complete lack of sticky rubber on my shoes.  More exemplary fall weather, though.
PM: 1:05, 3000' ~ First Flatiron+Green Mt.
Awesome evening out on the hill where I PRed to the top of the First (22:32) by taking it easy to the base (11:42) and then PRing on the actual scramble (10:50 East Face). Did the downclimb in my usual careful 3:50 and then continued on to the summit of Green before running back down the front back to Chat.

Sun-AM: 2:14, 4700' ~ Flatiron Trifecta+Green Mt.
Ran up to Chat and then laced together the first three Flatirons in sequential order. I was feeling quite on point with the scrambling today and had East Face splits of 12:35, 11:10, and 7:55 for the First, Second, and Third, respectively. I still need to try Buzz's route on the Third of not crossing over the gulley at the beginning.  It does seem like it would be a lot faster. Continued on to the summit of Green after the Third before running back down to the Creek. Awesome last morning on the mountain for a few weeks.

Hours: 27h36min
Vert: 43,800'

This was the last week of hard training before heading overseas for Cavalls del Vent and the Otter Run, but I hardly viewed it that way.  Instead, I was just trying to cram in as much autumnal fun as I could knowing that conditions will likely have changed drastically in the high country by time I get back in mid-October.  So it goes, though, and I'm actually really looking forward to the change in seasons. CdV should be a ton of fun as I expect there to be a group of at least five really solid competitors going for it at the front of the pack (Kilian and Miguel, Dakota and myself, and Tofol Castaner), plus probably plenty of other legit but lesser-known Euros.  I'm excited for what is billed as a very tough course and my introduction to European mountain racing.

The Black Dike and Upper Exum Ridge (leading to the Grand Teton summit), as seen from the Lower Saddle.
Looking south from the summit of the Grand on Monday morning.
The view looking east from the summit of Gannet Peak.
On the summit of Shoshoni, considering my immediate future: Apache (center) and Navajo (far left). Photo: Joe Grant.