High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

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   
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.

Thursday, April 5th    
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  
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.

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.

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.

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