High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Week in Review: June 4-June 10

Monday, June 4th   
AM—None—Tried going out this morning, but the ol’ legs weren’t having any of it
PM—10 Miles—1:52—2,900’—Flagstaff and Green
When I got home from work I had all but decided to take the day off. Until my roommate told me he would be driving to the West Ridge and hiking the 1.4 mile, 850’ route up to the summit of Green. I decided to take the usual middle route via Flagstaff to the summit (~5 miles and 2,900’) and race him to the top. I didn’t beat him, but I’m pretty sure this helped get my legs out of the funk they’ve been in the past week. On the way down I decided to take Gregory and ride 6th back home due to the impending darkness. I hit Gregory Canyon in sub-8 minute pace in fairly dim lighting. Once I hit 6th street I averaged about 5:55/mile for the last two miles. Not a great run, but not a bad run.

Tuesday, June 5th      
AM—10 Miles—1:33—1,650’—Flagstaff
I decided to get in an early morning run since I had an afternoon acupuncture session. At 5:15 AM I hit the trails and started a leisurely climb up Flagstaff. My legs were definitely tired from the night before and the 20,000+ feet of vertical from last week. The original plan was to hit Green, but I decided to just ride the jeep road down the back side of Flag to Red Lion and cruise the Creek Path on into Boulder. I tacked on a few extra miles on the Creek Path to get a nice round 10 miles.
PM—None—Acupuncture Recovery

Wednesday, June 6th
AM—None—Acupuncture Recovery
PM—11 Miles—1:46—1,750’—Flagstaff
Due to the threat of nasty weather I decided to stay low for the most part. This was the first time since moving to Boulder that I have noticed any humidity. I started with a 5 mile out-and-back up the canyon on the Creek Path. Once I made it back to Ebin G Fine I made my way up the Viewpoint Trail and stopped at Panorama Point to scope out the clouds. The summit of Green looked like it had potential to turn me into a human lightening rod. So I tagged the summit of Flagstaff, headed back down, and called it a day.

Thursday, June 7th
AM—10 Miles—1:33—1,650’—Flagstaff
Legs were definitely feeling like crap this morning, but I decided to head up a little regardless. The run up Flagstaff was one of the worst I’ve had in a while. The humidity likely didn’t help. I descended the backside via the Red Lion access. Not a bad way to start the day.
PM—11 Miles—2:10—3,000’—Green
As I made my way up Viewpoint towards Flagstaff I could tell it would be a miserable run all the way to the top. So I decided to head down to the Gregory Canyon TH instead of up to the top of Flagstaff. I figured that if my legs weren’t up for running that I may as well hike some steep trails. So I hiked about 90% of the route up the front side of Green. I wanted to hike it in sub-40 minutes, but I got off trail once and lost about 2:30 minutes. I ended up meandering up an unmarked trail that splits off from Saddle Rock. Eventually, I topped out in 0:43. Once again, the humidity was pretty awful. At the summit I was thoroughly drenched in sweat for the first time I can remember since living here. I took a casual descent down Ranger and the Red Lion access road.

Friday, June 8th
AM—8 Miles—1:09—1,000’—Panorama Point and Creek Path
I headed out around 5:15 for an early morning run up Flagstaff with the possibility of continuing up to Green. Those plans came to an abrupt end about 1.5 miles up Flag when I came around a bend in the trail and noticed a mountain lion about 20 feet or less away from me. I immediately remembered what Scott Jurek had told me when we were running once and put my hands in the air to try to look as big as a 6 feet tall, 160 pound guy can look. After a split second of exchanging stares the cat took off up the hill, let out a roar (or whatever you call the noise they make since it doesn’t really sound like a lion’s roar), and then started circling around to the side of me. Shortly after I heard what sounded like the mini-roars of cubs. I was really worried after hearing that since I feared I somehow got between a mom and her cubs or something. I started talking assertively towards the lion, backed up very slowly, and eventually picked up a few rocks in case I had to defend myself. It didn’t take long for me to realize how incredibly weak my upper body is as a mountain runner. After a few minutes of holding the rocks up in the air while trying to look big I decided “F-this, these rocks are heavy so I’m going to put my arms down.” I started running again once I got to Panorama Point. I decided just to run a 5 mile out-and-back on the Creek Path. Not nearly as fun as a jaunt up Green…

Saturday, June 9th        
AM—15 Miles—3:59—5,200’—Grays and Torreys
Got an early start and left Boulder around 5:45 with JV. We made our way to Bakerville, geared up, and headed towards the trailhead. If didn’t take long to confirm my suspicions; Jeff is a helluva uphill runner (even when he’s taking it easy like he did today). The run up to the TH left me gasping for air since it was my first real high country effort of the year. I was able to run about 75% or so (likely less) of the approach to Grays, but once the uphill kicked in a bit I was forced into hiking the rest of the way. Jeff was waiting for me on the summit of Grays. Due to the frigid winds we didn’t spend too much time up there before heading to Torreys. The summit of Torreys provided a little relief from the wind as I downed a Vi gel real quick. Sometime during the descent of Torreys I blew out the upper of my left 110. To be honest I saw that one coming. The shoes had 400+ mountain miles on them, about zero tread left on the forefoot and midsole, and were due to be retired shortly. Once we got past a brief snowfield and connected with the main trail the descent provided a nice, casual stretch of running. Not too far from the main TH we came across some of JV’s R2R2R friends and chatted with them for a bit while walking a short section. The last push of the descent down the TH access road felt great to me. The relaxed pace allowed me to finally get my breathing fully under control for the first time all day. I’m looking forward to many more trips up 14’ers this summer. 
PM—9 Miles—2:28—3,000’—Green
Thought I was recovered and rehydrated from Grays and Torreys this morning…I was not. I chose the front route up Green and about midway up Saddlerock I bonked hard. For some reason I decided to keep pushing to the summit. Once on top I stumbled upon a couple of picnickers and bummed some water from them. On the way down I bummed some more water from a couple at the Flagstaff parking lot near the Ute/Rangeview trails. I eventually made it home, but the run was an epic disaster.

Sunday, June 10th     
AM—17 Miles—4:22—5,400’—A Good Old Fashion Boulder Mountain Marathon (Almost, Not Really)
I decided to do a Boulder skyline traverse today. The short climb up Viewpoint and the southbound jaunt on Mesa all felt great, but as I neared Shadow Canyon my legs began to quiver at the thought of the ascent. I chose to cut off several miles of the southern portion of Mesa and begin the Shadow ascent at the northern most access point at 1:30 into the run. The climb up Shadow was some running and mostly power hiking with a little gasping for air thrown in the mix. I eventually topped out on South Boulder at 2:20 and proceeded to down two Vi’s to try and bring some life into my legs. After a few minutes on the summit I tiptoed back down (I decided to wear the blown out shoes from Grays and Torreys for some unknown reason). I was on top of Bear at 2:38, downed another Vi, and bummed water off a hiker who was undoubtedly trying to lighten his load. Why else would he offer me water unsolicited? Descending the first quarter to half mile down Bear was somewhat difficult in shoes with absolutely no tread and one blown out upper. So I casually hiked down this steep, rocky section until reaching the smooth single track that continued down to Bear Canyon and all the way up to the West Ridge Trail. I stood atop the summit of Green at 3:28. I reached into my pocket to get the last Vi I brought, but the damn thing wasn’t there. I’m pretty sure it fell out of my pocket on the Bear summit. Hopefully someone found it and gave it a good home. The pace down Ranger was very slow since I was flirting with a full-on bonk from lack of calories, dehydration, and overall fatigue from a pretty hard day on Saturday. I summited Flagstaff via the Ute trail at 3:54. The decent down Flagstaff to Ebin G Fine Park gave me plenty of time to talk myself out of tagging Sanitas and eventually I gave in to the voice telling me not to do it. My legs were beat, I was thoroughly exhausted, and I just wanted some water. So I called it an early day. It happens.   

Time—20hours 55minutes
Elevation Gain— 25,550 feet                                                                                                                                                

Not a bad week at all. I got over the 100 mile mark for the first time in a while. The high vertical volume left my legs in a constant state of fatigue, which resulted in quite a bit more hiking that usual. To be honest, I love the feeling of going out on dead legs and still being to hammer out some decent climbs. This week also saw my first taste of Colorado 14’ers, which has me chomping at the bit for what the rest of the summer holds. 

On Sunday I found out something pretty cool. I’ll be running the Estes Park Marathon on Sunday, June 17th. My sponsor, Vi Endurance, has graciously provided me with entry into the race. My only hope is that I don’t seem like too much of a fish out of water while running 26 miles on roads (that’s more road miles in one run than I’ve logged cumulatively in the past year).

The approach to Grays and Torreys
Mountain goat (or maybe it's Jeff) on the way up Grays. He made it look so easy...

View from the summit of Grays

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Week in Review: May 28-June 3

Monday, May 28th       
AM—13 Miles—2:33—2,900’—Flagstaff and Green
A pretty horrendous run up Flag and Green. I chose to come down Bear Canyon via West Ridge and Green Bear to tack on a few more miles. Legs felt absolutely horrible so I needed the extra downhill miles to make me feel a little better about myself. Oh well, it’s always a good day when you can get to the summit of Green.

Tuesday, May 29th     
PM—8 Miles—1:09—1,050’—Creek Path, Red Rocks, and Sanitas Valley
After yesterday’s horrible run I decided to keep it pretty flat to see if my legs had any life in them. So I did a five mile out-and-back up the canyon on the Creek Path and averaged about 7:15 minutes/mile. The perceived effort felt more like normal than the past few days. I decided to head up-and-over Red Rocks then up-and-down Sanitas Valley. The small climb in Red Rocks felt like I was climbing up Shadow Canyon or something. I pushed on anyways and hit the ~1 mile climb up Sanitas Valley in 8:29 minutes. The return trip was slow and painful since the tape I had on my heel blister came off on the climb. I ended up barely walking the climb back up Red Rocks. It was a definite relief to finally get my shoes off.

Wednesday, May 30th   
PM—10 Miles—1:53—2,600’—Green
As I was leaving work I made plans to meet Alex at the Gregory TH for a run up Green. I ran up 6th street to save some time and get in a decent warm up since my legs have been feeling like crap lately. I averaged 7:30 minutes/mile on the warm up, but my legs just didn’t feel good.  Regardless, we began our ascent up Gregory Canyon. Once I got my breathing under control my legs seemed to feel a bit better. I was still a little timid on my right ankle after rolling it on Monday so I slowed pretty significantly on the more technical sections of upper Greenman (both on the ascent and descent). We saw a bear on our way down Gregory, which was pretty cool. First time I’ve seen a bear in the wild here in Boulder and of course I left my camera at home. Oh well, next time…

Thursday, May 31st   
PM—10 Miles—2:01—3,100’—Flagstaff and Green
Met up with Jon (guy I randomly met in the coffee shop at Leadville last weekend) for a nice run up Flagstaff and Green via the middle route. My legs were still feeling pretty crappy so he dropped me on the steep section of upper Greenman. He seemed to enjoy the greenery that trails below 10,000 feet provide. After chatting on the summit for a bit we descended down the back side. The pace was fairly casual on the flat, easy sections and the pace was a little quicker and more fun on the steeper, techy parts. Of course, no visit to Boulder is complete without a stop at Mountain Sun. Looking forward to getting up to Leadville and joining Jon on some more runs.

Friday, June 1st   
AM—3 Miles—0:26—200’—Creek Path
Early morning shakeout run with Jon before parting ways and heading to work. I love running along the Creek and feeling the brisk early morning air.

Saturday, June 2nd       
AM—20 Miles—5:00—5,000’—Partial Ring the Peak Route
I decided to join the Team CRUD runners for their annual Ring the Peak run. It surely wasn’t what I expected. After some emails back-and-forth with the organizer it seemed as though everyone would go out at a casual pace and shoot for a finish of 17 hours or so. Right from the start I could tell that wouldn’t be the case. Everyone who knew the route took off like bats out of hell. On any other day I would have followed, but after a week of mentally preparing for a casual 62 miles I couldn’t force my body to move fast enough to keep up. So I just went at my own pace, which happened to be 15.5 hour pace through 20 miles and decided I had enough for the morning. The leaders came through the 20 mile station in 12-13 hour pace, I believe. Next time I’ll be more prepared mentally to go kick some ass.
PM—4 Miles—0:57—2,100’—Manitou Incline Loop
Once my roommate and I got back to the car he opted to go eat and drink beer while I figured seeing what the Manitou Incline is all about was the best decision. At first sight the Incline is daunting and it just gets worse the further up you go. I ran the first ~1/4 mile until the steep section started and then fell into a power hike for all but the last 200 meters or so. Eventually I topped out in 34:54. Not bad I guess for having just done 20 miles and 5,000 feet of vertical earlier. The run down the Barr Trail was a blast especially with little, if any, tread left on my shoes after 500+ miles on them.

Sunday, June 3rd    
AM—14 Miles—3:29—3,800’—Manitou Incline and Barr Trail to Barr Camp
Rolled out of the Subaru around 7:30 AM and started making preparations for heading up towards Barr Camp where we would decide whether to keep heading up or turn back. After yesterday’s 20 miles of carrying the weight of a small child on my back I decided to go minimal on this outing. This meant packing a few gels in my pockets and tying a jacket around my waist. I hit the Manitou Incline with the intent of breaking 30 minutes but missed and hit it in 31:13. I’m pretty sure that if I had a week or two to practice I could hit sub-25 on it. The rest of the trip up to Barr Camp was just a hike, which I found to be rather boring since my hiking skills are horrendous unless I’m hiking up stairs. After some R&R at Barr Camp we made our way back down at a slow trot. The drawstring on my shorts broke so I had to hold them up with one hand the entire way down to prevent them from dropping to my ankles. No doubt, this made for a miserable descent. I kept feeling like I was some ghetto rapper out deciding to run trails for the first time…

Time—17hours 34minutes
Elevation Gain—20,550 feet                                                                                                                                    

Not the mileage I was hoping for, but it felt good to get over 20,000 feet of vertical again. I’m starting to feel like my legs might be recovered from the effort at Zion. This is the first true week in my training push for the Leadville 50 in July and ultimately the Leadville 100 in August. Moving forward, my main goals aren’t that much different than usual: lots of miles (100+/week) and lots of vertical (25k+/week). The only difference is that I intend to start doing a bigger portion of that volume above 10k feet. I’m pretty excited for what the next 5-6 weeks leading up to the Leadville 50 have to offer. 

Ring the Peak Trail Marker

Sun Creeping Up Over the Mountains

First Good View of Pikes Peak

Manitou Incline

Looking Back at the Climb I Completed