Desert Vibes

Desert Vibes
Photo: Ben Clark

Monday, April 30, 2012

April Totals and April Year-to-Date Totals


April Monthly Totals:

Miles—300
Time—52hours 09minutes
Elevation Gain—47,400 feet

Not a bad month considering I took 9 out of 30 days completely off from running. While I may have lost a bit of the consistency I gained in March I feel that the off days will be greatly beneficial in the long run. I began an acupuncture regimen this month, which led to several of the off days for recovery, but has significantly reduced some of the nagging aches and pains I was experiencing with March’s high mileage and vertical volumes. During April I drastically reduced the weekly vertical volume both as a way to incorporate some flat, fast running and a way to train specifically for my upcoming 100 mile race, which only has about 8,000 feet of total vertical gain. Even with the low mileage, April still provided some high quality runs that should go a long way in preparing me for the Zion 100 on May 11th.  
                                                                                                                                                                              

Year-to-Date Totals:
Miles—1,005
Time—202hours 51minutes
Elevation Gain—224,950 feet

Still, not overly impressive due to extremely low mileage in January and February. I’m hoping for some quality months of running through the end of the year to come in around my goal of 4,000 miles for 2012. My average pace per mile should start to drop as well with the dry trail conditions. The first few months yielded some REALLY slow miles from postholing and what-not.  
Green summit

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week in Review: April 23-29


Monday, April 23rd    
AM—6 Miles—1:12—1,650’—Flagstaff
My legs were still pretty spent from the huge bonk during Sunday’s run. I was probably still operating on a bit of a calorie deficit as well. So I ended up power hiking the few sets of stairs on the way up and took the descent really slow.  
PM—6 Miles—0:47—150’—Creek Path
Just shaking out the legs a little on this one. Held a turtle pace throughout. I ran into Jason Schlarb as I neared my apartment. He was on his way to soak in the creek so I decided to join him.

Tuesday, April 24th   
AM—5 Miles—0:43—150’—Creek Path
Just another uneventful shake out run.
PM—None—Acupuncture Recovery
Soaked in the creek for 30 minutes. Water felt noticeably warmer than last night.

Wednesday, April 25th 
AM—None—Acupuncture Recovery
PM—12 Miles—1:32—300’—Creek Path
I decided to stick to the routine I’ve developed since starting acupuncture a few weeks ago and did a flat 12-miler on the Creek Path. Held a slow, easy pace throughout and kept from pushing too hard. I had a bit of pain in my left calf throughout the run, but it slowly dissipated. I ran into Jason Schlarb about 1.5 miles into the run on his way to get a massage to work out a kink or two before running the Leona Divide 50 Mile this weekend. With the exception of a fly fisherman, I had a nice soak in the Creek after the run. 

Thursday, April 26th   
AM—5 Miles—0:40—300’—Creek Path
Legs  felt surprisingly good compared to most of my early morning runs. I decided to start breaking in a new pair of 110’s for my upcoming race in Zion by taking them on the Creek Path up to where it nears Four Mile Canyon. Followed up the run with an eye-opening early morning soak in the Creek.
PM—17 Miles—2:56—2,850’—Modified Mesa Out-and-Back with Towee and Big Bluestem
I met up with Ryan at the Chautauqua TH for a Mesa Trail out-and-back. He’s thinking about going out to Zion to pace me so we wanted to make sure we mesh well together on the trails. Pretty much the entire run was a mellow pace. We diverted off Mesa to take Towhee down to the south TH. I had some, uh, stomach issues on the way down Towhee that proved to be a nuisance. On the way back we veered off to Big Bluestem and North Fork Shanahan before rejoining Mesa. We rode out Mesa pretty easy all the way back with the exception of picking up the pace on the last big climb heading north (the staircase coming from a creek crossing about 1.5-2 miles from Chautauqua). I cooled down with a run on 6th street back to Eben G. Fine Park and soaked in the Creek.

Friday, April 27th 
AM—2 Miles—0:18—50’—Creek Path
Wasn’t really feeling it this morning. Could be that I only ate a few spoonfuls of almond butter for dinner last night after running 17 miles, who knows? I got about a mile from my apartment and decided to turn around, call it quits, and save my legs for the evening run. Had another nice early morning soak in the Creek.
PM—12 Miles—1:35—1,650’—Flagstaff
My legs felt pretty good going into this run. A little lethargic, but good overall. I took the climb up Flagstaff really easy (partly because I have a big outting planned for tomorrow and partly because I don’t think my legs would have responded if I had tried to push the ascent). Once I hit the Rangeview Trail I started picking up the pace a little. I took the backside down from Flagstaff and hit Canyon at Red Lion before cruising the Creek Path back into town. Once in town, I added a three mile out-and-back and then hit my favorite soaking spot in the Creek.

Saturday, April 28th     
AM—24 Miles—6:55—6,050’—"Run" to Nederland
Today I decided that I wanted to spend a lot of time on my feet and moving. I didn’t really care how this was accomplished so I pretty much just ended up hiking all the way to Ned. Overall, I would say that I ran less than 15-20% of the route, which took me up Flagstaff and Green, down Flagstaff Road, through Walker Ranch, down Lakeshore Drive, CR68, and Magnolia, and on some random trails (Dot Trails, perhaps?) to finally ready Ned. My legs felt noticeably peppy all the way to the summit of Green, but deteriorated very quickly. Maybe this was due to not eating breakfast? Maybe it was due to already logging some decent mileage early on in the week? Who knows? I used this deteriorated state-of-being to stray away from my plans of an out-and-back run to Ned, which I hoped to finish in about 7-8 hours, and instead just make the hike there drag on for about 6-7 hours. Mission accomplished. Before reaching Peak-to-Peak highway I ventured off into the woods on some seemingly random trails. A wise man once told me that if you want to find new and exciting trails you have to get out there and get lost sometimes. He also said that he takes a map, compass, and plenty of water and food. I had none of these and it looked like a storm was rolling into the area. I just kept heading down and eventually reach civilization. Once in Ned I stopped at my favorite coffee shop for a chai and made my way to Wild Mountain for some beer and BBQ before hopping on the bus back to Boulder.
PM—None

Sunday, April 29th   
AM—12 Miles—1:50—2,000’—Creek Path and Sanitas
Even though my legs felt pretty good this morning I wasn’t sure how they would respond after a few miles of running. So I headed up the canyon on the Creek Path for a five mile warm-up run. After hitting the warm up in an average pace of 7:15/mile I decided that my legs were “good-to-go” and headed up Sanitas against my better judgment. I felt like I was heading up the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and kept having to wait on the side of the trail for slow-as-hell mule trains to pass by on the way down. Every weekend warrior hiker in Boulder County (and beyond) must have decided to hike Sanitas today, which made for an unbearably slow ascent. The descent was pretty fun and borderline reckless as I bobbed and weaved around all of the hikers and darted down the technical terrain. It’s fun to zoom past slow hikers. I ended the run with a two mile cool down on the Creek Path where I ran into Dave Mackey and ran/talked with him for about five minutes as he made his way towards Flagstaff and Green. If I hadn’t already ran twelve miles I might have tried running with him to see how long I could hang on. Ended the morning with a nice, cold soak in the creek.
PM—None


Miles— 101
Time—18hours 32minutes
Elevation Gain— 15,150 feet             
                                                                                                                                                  

Not too bad of a week at all. My body certainly didn’t feel like I ran 100 miles this week, which I attribute to all of the post-run soaks in Boulder Creek (thanks for the recommendation, Jason Schlarb). I think soaking in the creek definitely made it easier to get out for a few early morning shake out runs this week. Typically it’s difficult for me to get my legs moving first thing in the morning, which makes it pretty easy to justify skipping those runs.

This will likely be my last big week before beginning my taper heading into the Zion 100 miler. I’ll probably get in a few 15-20 mile runs early on next week and then take a rest day or two after a Thursday afternoon acupuncture session. Honestly, I’m not looking forward to the next two weeks at all. I hate tapering. Hate it. With the exception of injuries, nothing else running related drives me more crazy than just going out and running a few miles a day and not really pushing myself all for the sake of tapering. Oh well…
Another Green Summit
Low end of the food chain (Walker Ranch)
Walker Ranch

Gross Reservoir
Some horses on the run to Ned
More scenery on the way to Ned

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Week(s) in Review: April 9-22


Monday, April 9th   
AM—None
PM—6 Miles—0:58—1,650’—Flagstaff
All-around horrible run. My legs felt like crap and I couldn’t get my breathing under control for the first 12 minutes or so. Justin and I rested at Panorama Point for a few minutes then he headed home and I headed up to Flagstaff. Finally, my legs started to get a little pep in them and I cruised up to the top. Given how questionable my legs felt, I took the descent SLOW.

Tuesday, April 10th    
AM—5 Miles—0:41—150’—Creek Path
For some reason my legs just felt crappy this morning. I decided to get in a quick shakeout run on the Creek Path to bring some life into them. Didn’t really seem to work…
PM—18 Miles—3:18—3,150’—Viewpoint/Mesa Out-and-Back/Roads
This was the second day in a row of my legs feeling blah. I hit the climb up to Panorama Point in about 11:45 or so, which isn’t terrible, but it felt like I had to work much harder than usual. The descent down to Baseline/Chautauqua made me feel like a drunk idiot and immediately let me know that it was going to be a long run. Ran into Alex at the parking lot and did the out-and-back with him. Eventually my legs started feeling strong on the climbs, but I restrained myself and kept from taking off on these sections. We had a fox come within 5-10 feet of us on the next-to-last switchback heading up from the South Mesa trailhead (of course I didn’t have my camera). We rode out the rest of the run at a pretty mellow pace.

Wednesday, April 11th  
AM—None—Tired
PM—None—Acupuncture Recovery

Thursday, April 12th    
AM—None—Acupuncture Recovery
PM—None—Acupuncture Recovery

Friday, April 13th  
AM—None—Acupuncture Recovery
PM—7 Miles—1:14—1,700’—Flagstaff Summit and Rangeview
After a few days off I decided to take an easy run up Flagstaff to shakeout my legs a little before Saturday’s long run. Nothing particularly special about this run. I took the descent really easy at almost a snail pace.

Saturday, April 14th   
AM—30 Miles—4:40—1,950’—Creek Path/Bobolink/South Boulder Creek Out-and-Back, Flagstaff
I went into this run wanting to cover 40-60 miles, but some pain in my left ankle told me I better cut it short at 30 miles when I stopped to refuel at the apartment. The first 21 miles were an out-and-back on the Creek Path, roads, Bobolink, and South Boulder Creek Path (all of which are flat and unbelievably boring). Most of my upcoming race is flat or a gradual descent with two climbs (from the elevation profile it appears that one is about like Green Mountain spread out over a few more miles and the other is similar to Sanitas). For the last 9 miles I headed up Flagstaff to get in a little climb. On the way up I ran into my roommate at Panorama Point and chatted for a bit. About 5 minutes or so later I ran into Jenny (Scott’s girlfriend) coming down Flagstaff and talked to her for a while. I eventually hit the four-way at the top and made my way down Rangeview with some surprisingly energetic legs. The last five miles or so was all downhill via the Tenderfoot loop jeep road to Red Lion and the Creek Path. I could have kept going since the pain in my ankle subsided after about 5-10 minutes of moving, but I didn’t see any point to risking long-term injury. My pace was really slow since I ran with the intent of covering a lot more miles.
PM—None

Sunday, April 15th
AM—None—Resting Left Ankle
PM—None—Resting Left Ankle


Miles— 66
Time—10hours 52minutes
Elevation Gain— 8,600 feet                        

                                                                                                                                                  

Monday, April 16th   
AM—None—Resting Left Ankle
PM—None—Resting Left Ankle

Tuesday, April 17th    
AM—None—Resting Left Ankle
PM—None—Resting Left Ankle

Wednesday, April 18th  
AM—None—Resting Left Ankle
PM—None—Resting Left Ankle

Thursday, April 19th    
AM—None—Resting Left Ankle
PM—None—Resting Left Ankle

Friday, April 20th  
AM—None—Resting Left Ankle
PM—5 Miles—1:06—1,650’—Sanitas via Red Rocks/Dakota Ridge/East Ridge
After taking way too much time off over the last week or so I decided to get back out on the trails and see how my left ankle/foot was feeling. As I made my way to Settlers Park I veered up through the Red Rocks area rather than staying on the Creek Path for a flat run as I had planned. It felt a little weird to be running after taking five days off in a row, but once I got to the Sanitas TH my body/legs felt pretty good. I didn’t intend to run to the top of Sanitas, but my legs felt great so I continued onward at a casual pace and topped out in 35:06 from my apartment. While at the top I felt as though Green Mountain was calling me from a distance. To my surprise, I was able to exercise a little self-control and not push on towards Green. The left ankle felt pretty good throughout the run today. I’ll just have to see how it feels tomorrow morning before hitting the trails.

Saturday, April 21st    
AM—20 Miles—3:20—3,000’—Marshall Mesa TH to Eldorado Canyon, Old Mesa/Mesa
Not knowing how my legs would feel after all of the off days I decided to keep the run fairly flat and headed out to Marshall Mesa with my roommate. Even with the mellow pace it seemed to take me forever to get my breathing in check. When we hit Goshawk I finally started to feel in rhythm. The hike up Old Mesa was horrendous because I have the hiking skills of an overweight weekend warrior hiker. The running on the Mesa Trail back to Chautauqua was pretty effortless.
PM—None

Sunday, April 22nd  
AM—16 Miles—3:36—3,100—Sanitas, Wonderland, Hogback, North Foothills
This morning I ran up-and-over Red Rocks to the Sanitas TH to meet Jason Schlarb and Dane Mitchell for run. We started off with a quick climb up the backside (they topped out in 19-something and I topped out in 20-something), which trashed my legs for the rest of the climbs on the run. Eventually, on a few mile out-and-back on North Foothills I began experience some stomach issues (likely from being severely dehydrated) and told them to go on without waiting for me. The issues subsided in about 20 minutes or so and I began running again. Not long after the dehydration/lack of calories really set in and I bonked pretty hard. So began the death march back to my apartment…
PM—None


Miles— 41
Time—8hours 3minutes
Elevation Gain— 7,750 feet                        

                                                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                               

Obviously the last two weeks weren’t too pleasing. After my Mesa Trail out-and-back on the 10th I started experiencing swelling and pain in my left ankle. I didn’t recall any specific incident that may have contributed to this, which left me even more confused about things. After an acupuncture session and a few days off I hit the trails again only to experience the same pain to a slightly lesser extent. This led to five days in a row with no running as a preventative measure. After the off days and a few decent runs this past weekend my body is feeling pretty good for once. This coming week will be my last big push before I begin a voluntary reduction in mileage leading up to my 100 miler on May 11th
Community Ditch Trail heading towards Eldorado Canyon

Looking back towards Eldorado Canyon from the top of Old Mesa

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Week in Review: April 2-8


Monday, April 2nd  
AM—None—Rest Day and Blister Healing
PM—None—Rest Day and Blister Healing

Tuesday, April 3rd   
AM—None
PM—12 Miles—1:45—300’—Creek Path
I’m not sure if it was the nasty weather or what, but I decided to just do a really easy flat 12 miles on the Creek Path today. Ran into Rob Timko about 3 miles in and ran with him for about 6 miles. The conversation was great and definitely helped to distract me from the fact that I was running on the Creek Path.

Wednesday, April 4th  
AM— 4 Miles—0:39—650’—Creek Path and Viewpoint Trail
I hoped to get in a 10-15 mile run this morning, but my legs just felt like crap and the heel blisters still hurt a little. So I called it quits early. Very disappointed in this one.
PM—None

Thursday, April 5th    
AM—None
PM—12 Miles—1:26—300’—Creek Path
Decided to stick to the flats today in an attempt to not undo anything that was accomplished in yesterday’s acupuncture session. I held a conversational pace throughout the run, which happened to be around 7:14 minutes/mile. As much as I hate flat running I think I will keep at least one flat, tempo’ish run in my weekly schedule. I think I’ll be averaging sub-7 minute miles on this 12-mile run in another few weeks.

Friday, April 6th  
AM—None
PM—8 Miles—1:17—1,900’—Flagstaff, Rangeview, Tenderfoot Loop, Gregory Canyon
Decided to get in a little run before joining the group to remember Caballo Blanco. My legs felt the best they have in a few weeks with the exception of my left Achilles, which took a mile or so to loosen up. I’m hoping Allison and I can get this figured out soon. I took most of the climb up Flagstaff pretty easy and then hammered out the ascent on the Tenderfoot jeep road. When I reached Gregory Canyon my legs were loose and felt great. So I decided to run a little faster than usual on the descent, which was a blast. I ran from the Gregory sign post down to the parking lot (about 1.5 miles) in 11 minutes flat. Without-a-doubt that was the fastest technical downhill running I’ve done since injuring my ankle.

Saturday, April 7th   
AM—29 Miles—4:46—6,000’—Flagstaff/Green/Walker Ranch/Eldorado Canyon/Mesa
I hit the roads at about 6:40 AM to head to Chautauqua to meet up for a nice little run that turned out to be a gathering of quite the all-star cast of characters; Scott Jurek, Jason Schlarb, Dane Mitchell, Jim Rebenack, Drew Bock, and me (not sure how I got grouped with these guys). It didn’t take very long for me to realize that we weren’t going to be running the relatively flat route I had hoped. Sucking wind up Flagstaff and Green was a pretty good indication of that...When we hit the West Ridge, Flagstaff Road, and Walker Ranch sections I was able to keep up with relative ease (relative compared to the previous few miles). I must say that it was pretty fun to watch these guys float down some of the more technical descents. Eventually the guys started pulling away on the climb up Eldorado Canyon Trail. I caught up again at the visitor’s center before heading toward Old Mesa. This is where the guys really turned it on. Scott and I stayed back while the others took off at a pace that made it seem like we had been standing still the previous 15ish miles. Scott wanted to just cruise into Chautauqua (I use the term cruise lightly because he is an elite runner with a cruising speed that is faster than most people’s racing speed, mine included). I kept up for a while, but eventually told Scott to just go on as I couldn’t handle running the climbs any more. When I rolled into the Chautauqua lot the fast guys had been there for about 10 minutes or so (I think, maybe longer) and I’m not sure how much Scott beat me there by. After a little chat with the guys I ran the last two miles on the roads back to my apartment. Definitely the hardest (fastest) mountain run I’ve ever done.
PM—None

Sunday, April 8th
AM—13 Miles—2:20—3,750’—Viewpoint, Green Summit via Backside, Bear Canyon, Mesa
I headed out around 8 AM with my roommate for a run up Green. Immediately upon starting the climb up Viewpoint I realized that my legs felt good. Damn good. I kicked up my pace a little up Viewpoint and got to the top about 1-2 minutes or so ahead of Justin. I continued running at a pretty good pace down to the Gregory Canyon parking lot where I ran into Stacey. She was getting ready to do a couple laps on Green and was going up the same route as me. So I decided to follow her up the mountain and push myself to keep up, which is easier said than done considering how strong of an uphill runner she is. We eventually reached the summit in 42:36, a PR for me as I have never timed myself on that route. Once Justin reached the top we took off at a somewhat quick pace down Green Bear and Bear Canyon. The run on Mesa to Chautauqua was pretty mellow without being too slow.  I eventually slowed to a hike on part of the last climb back up to Viewpoint on the way home. Not a bad Sunday recovery run.
PM—None

Miles—78
Time—12hours 44minutes
Elevation Gain— 12,900 feet             
                                                                                                                                                                         

A pretty disappointing first half of the week turned into four days in a row of pretty good running. I think the lack of volume this week was somewhat compensated by the quality of the 60 miles ran Thursday through Sunday. It certainly did seem like a bipolar week of running with the low mileage Monday through Wednesday caused by some nagging heel blisters (and a rare rest day that wasn’t a result of injury) and the back-end heavy Thursday through Sunday.

This week presented several great runs that significantly boosted my confidence. On Friday I did a typical run up Flagstaff then descended Gregory Canyon with some fresh legs. I hit the Gregory lot in 11 minutes flat, which wasn’t blazing by any means but was still a pretty quick pace on that technical of a downhill. Since falling down Shadow Canyon and rolling my ankle twice my technical downhill running ability has come into constant question. It felt great to finally get out there and prove to myself that I still have it. Now it’s just time to get faster. On Saturday I ran with a ridiculously talented group of guys. It was a humbling experience to be busting my ass to keep up with these guys who were running at a conversational pace. This run gave me a glimpse at the level of running talent I want to achieve and the amount of hard work on the trails that it takes to get there. Now it’s up to me to get there…On Sunday I intended to run/hike up Green at a casual pace but ended up running the entire way up the backside with Stacey. I was pleased to see how well my legs responded (and how springy they felt) after the hard effort on Saturday. This gives me a little faith that my legs will still be there for me in the later stages of a 100 mile race.

I’m continuing to see dramatic week-to-week improvements from my acupuncture sessions with Allison. My hope is to have some of these nagging leg pains dialed in within the next session or two. With the exception of both of my Achilles areas my legs feel pretty great. So I don’t think it’s too unrealistic to expect these pains to be under control soon.

As of Sunday, I have about four weeks left to prepare for my first 100 miler in Zion. Admittedly, the nerves are starting to kick in a little. The inevitable self-doubt is starting to surface and I keep asking myself, “what the hell were you thinking when you signed up for this?!” Strong runs like I had this weekend have somewhat helped me in dealing with this doubt. I’m hoping to get in a few more key confidence boosting workouts over the next 2-3 weeks. Ultimately, it’s just going to come down to gritting it out for 100 miles and not being a huge pansy…

Relaxing by the Creek after Saturday's long run
Anatomy of a trailrunner's legs:
1. Really high tan lines (caused by ridiculously short shorts)
2. Fresh wound/blood from not being able to stay on own two feet
3. Gross Feet
4. Black (soon-to-be-missing) toenails



All of my shoes eventually get blood on them.