High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Week in Review: May 20-26

Monday, May 20th
OFF—Slightly hungover…

Tuesday, May 21st
OFF—Travel day from NYC back to Boulder

Wednesday, May 22nd  
AM—7.7 Miles—3:35—3,400’—Peak One Bailout, Mount Victoria, and Mount Royal
A ridiculously picture-perfect morning made the drive up to Frisco even more scenic than I remembered. I met Mike Ambrose for an attempt to summit Peak One and Peak Two of the Ten Mile Traverse. There’s still a considerable amount of snow, which made getting above tree line a bit of a chore. We opted to take a more direct vertical route up the mountain by plowing through the snow versus trying to follow any sort of switchbacked trail. From the weather station to the last false summit before Peak One was pretty easy. Ultimately, a cornice on the false summit and watching a mini avalanche persuaded us to call off bagging the peak. On the descent we hit the summits of Mount Victoria and Mount Royal and cruised comfortably back to Mike’s place. My legs were pretty trashed from the knees down from the post holing. It felt great to be back above 10k feet and have perfect shirtless running weather. Excited for the high country to open up this summer.
PM—1.8 Miles—0:46—850’—Second Flatiron Bailout
Full of the excitement of a kid on Christmas morning I picked up my newly re-soled 110’s and took them out for a test run on the Second Flatiron. In my rush to shimmy up I failed to notice the gloomy clouds indicative of an impending storm. About halfway up the rock a huge crash of lightening scared the holy hell out of me and triggered some of the fastest downclimbing I’ve ever done. It’s amazing how fast you can downclimb when any potential fear of falling is completely replaced by a fear of death by lightening. I pushed pretty hard the rest of the way back to my truck in Chautauqua since I really didn’t want to get soaked. About 30 seconds after I reached my truck the skies opened.

Thursday, May 23rd
PM—5.9 Miles—3:15—2,850’—Second Flatiron and Green Mountain
Finally, I got my first ascent of the Second Flatiron! I had no idea where the route began or ended. So, I just wandered around aimlessly to the top. I decided to start closer to the north (right) side of the base since it allowed gaining a decent amount of vertical without the outright exposure of the south or middle areas of the face. There are also several points in the first half or so of the climb where you can still bail on the route by stepping off the side or doing some easy down climbing back to a step off so I wanted to stay close to these opportunities. Overall, the climb was pretty uneventful (which is great). Just a lot of rest stops and route finding errors that required down climbing. After stepping off I proceeded on to the summit of Green via a bushwhack versus the faint trail that exists. I debated descending the front side, but changed my mind and made my way to the middle route down Gregory Canyon. The Gregory Canyon trail segment was a blast in my sticky rubber 110’s that provide a little more cushion than normal and great grip on the rocks. I finished the Gregory Canyon segment in right around 9 minutes, not a PR, but great considering the only parts I ran hard were the technical parts. Oh, I blew out the goddamned upper in my right shoe on just the second outing. I hate the fact that the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn has the durability of wet tissue paper.

Friday, May 24th
PM1—2 Miles—1:50—1,250’—Second Flatiron
With a few hours to pass before my buddy Robbie Pike arrived in Boulder to run I decided to shimmy up the Second Flatiron. Of course, I had no idea where I was going per usual. I took a lot of rest breaks on the way up in an effort to stay calm and keep my hands from getting too sweaty. On the way down I heard someone yell at me from behind and turned to find Peter Bakwin. He had just got done with the First Flatiron. We both exchanged how pleased we were with our newly resoled 110’s and how they handled on the rock. I joined Peter for the rest of the descent to Chautauqua. He’s always great company to have for an outing in the mountains. Such a wealth of knowledge residing on top of his shoulders.
PM2—9.9 Miles—3:36—4,100’—Green Mountain and Bear Peak
Robbie told me he wanted to come to Boulder and bang out a lot of vertical in about 12 miles. After a brief 20 minute post-Second Flatiron intermission we headed up the 1st/2nd Flatiron access trail and bushwhacked to the summit of Green tagging the East Green summit along the way. My legs felt pretty shitty during the bushwhacking considering how great they felt on the access trail. From Green we headed over to Bear Peak. I was running pretty well until we got to where the climb really begins. From there it just turned into the type of shit show that can only result from thorough dehydration and a severe calorie deficit (it was around 4PM and I had about 200 calories and some coffee up to this point in the day). Slow going down Fern Canyon to hit Mesa and ride it out to Chautauqua. I felt like absolute crap after the run and couldn’t seem to drink enough water.

Saturday, May 25th
AM—2.5 Miles—1:57—1,400’—Second Flatiron
I had the usual problems with route finding, of course. Near the beginning of the final pitch of climbing I took the same route I’d been using the past few times, which is possibly low 5th class terrain at worst. I’ve been disposing of this pretty easy the last few days, but today my legs and body just didn’t have any energy. In the last few moves on this section I started getting the Elvis leg, my hands seemed to be losing all grip, and a fall seemed inevitable. For the first time ever while climbing I felt an extreme rush as my heart rate shot through the roof, breathing become heavy and uncontrolled—panic was starting to take over. I kept the panic in check briefly and escaped the immediate troubles to the refuge of an area large enough to sit and collect myself. I spent at least 15 minutes here, head in hands, body trembling, trying to regain some composure to finish the last pitch of climbing so that I could get off the goddamned rock. On shaky legs I stumbled up the last pitch, walked off, and took the access trail back to Chautauqua. Ugh…A lot of lessons learned today, though.

Sunday, May 26th
AM—20.8 Miles—4:47—5,050’—Green Mountain and Backside Loop
Pretty easy effort for the entire day. I waited until about 10:30 AM to start the run with the intent of suffering through the hottest part of the day. Turns out, it never really got that hot. From Chautauqua to Eldorado Canyon (~13.5 miles) I managed with a single handheld bottle and two VFuel gels, which were much needed considering I didn’t have anything for breakfast other than coffee. I ran into Jorge at the park information office in Eldorado Canyon re-filling my water and decided to tone down the effort a little and run with him. We parted ways at the Bear Canyon split-off where he hit Green and I headed back to my truck at a slightly more strenuous pace. Great day of just getting out and covering some miles on tired legs.

Time—19hours 50minutes
Elevation Gain—18,900 feet                                                               

Well, I didn’t really cover many miles this week, but I did spend a lot of time on my feet. Slogging through knee-deep snow and learning how to scramble/route find in the Flatirons sure do contribute a lot of time and vertical, but not many miles, to the weekly totals. Right now I’m both building my scrambling skills and attempting to dial in routes in the Flatirons. These factors are leading to ridiculously slow times on my ascents of the Second—around 1:15 is my fastest so far. In my defense, I am taking a super casual approach while up on the slab in an effort to minimize down climbs and getting into terrain that’s out of my league. I’ve decided to use the Second Flatiron for no other reason than the ability to step off the top versus down climb or rappel. I’m pretty excited to watch my times plummet as comfort in both my abilities and my chosen line is developed. 

Summit of Green Mountain on a hot day (Photo: Robbie Pike)

Descending Gregory Canyon after scrambling the Second Flatiron and summiting Green

View of the Third Flatiron from the Second

I was in the middle of the Second Flatiron when this rolled in and provided a little lightening to encourage me to get the hell down

Peter Bakwin persuaded me to get one of the many pairs of 110's I have re-soled for some decent scrambling shoes. Couldn't be happier with the result.

Heading up Peak One with Mike Ambrose before calling off the summit attempt due to a large cornice and witnessing a mini avalanche.

On top of Bear Peak with beautiful Boulder in the background

Friday, May 24, 2013

Falling a Little Behind...

Week in Review: April 29-May 5

Monday, April 29th
AM—14.5 Miles—3:34—4,800’—Flagstaff, Green, Bear, Green
I made plans to meet David Ponak at Chautauqua for a little fun in the mountains. We didn’t really know our route going into the run. So we decided to head up Green via Flagstaff then onto Bear and go from there. My legs and lungs felt like absolute crap all the way up Green; finding a breathing rhythm was nearly impossible. We cruised down Green Bear and grunted along the Bear Peak West Ridge until finally reaching the meat of the climb up Bear, which David graciously allowed me to lead. I have no idea how long it took us to summit, but it felt like a somewhat brisk pace. My perception is skewed though with my lack of acclimation. When we reached the junction of Bear Canyon I persuaded David to get in another summit of Green. It didn’t take long to realize that my legs had a little left in the tank and we proceeded to cruise up the Green Bear climb before power hiking the steep sections to the summit. The Greenman descent was pretty casual due to snow/slush, but once I hit Saddle Rock and Amphitheater I decided to test out the ole footwork on the steep descents. Footwork was perfect. Of course, about a tenth of a mile from Chautauqua, while running on the smoothest trail we had seen all day, I fell flat on my face. Figures…

Tuesday, April 30th  
AM—13.5 Miles—3:29—4,800’—Green, Bear, Green, Flagstaff
After my morning coffee at Trident I decided to head over to the Gregory lot for a run. I wasn’t really sure what, though. Naturally, I decided to head up the front side of Green and see what happened. The climb sucked. A lot. My legs felt like total crap after yesterday and it seemed to take everything in me to hike up the front side. At the summit, I gazed over towards Bear Peak and couldn’t resist heading over. After a casual descent I eventually reached the base of the climb and made my way up to the summit of Bear in about 11 minutes. With most of the snow melted I decided to push it down the steep, technical terrain on Bear until I reached the smooth trails of the West Ridge and just entered “coast” mode. The second climb up Green started really well with my legs seeming to be full of pep. Eventually that went away and left nothing but the lingering fatigue of about 30k feet of vertical over the last seven days. I hiked quite a bit of the climb up Green. At the summit I met two guys who asked about coming down via Flagstaff. So, rather than explain I decided to join and show them the way—a few extra miles, right? While descending I would coast on any smooth sections of trail and then burst to life on any technical sections—jumping over series of steps, swinging around trees near sharp turns, and basically just running without any regard for anything really. Since I’m still sucking on the ascents I seek out as much amusement on the descents as possible.
PM—4 Miles—1:11—2,200’—Green
With about four hours rest under my belt I decided to get in one more lap on Green before the impending snow storm rolled in and blanketed the trails. I power hiked pretty much anything that was vertical and ran the flats. Made it to the top 5 minutes faster than this morning. I’m ready for the upper portions of Greenman to melt off so I can put in a decent effort for the entire descent.

Wednesday, May 1st     
AM—5 Miles—2:48—2,400’—Green
It’s always hard to resist getting up Green when it’s covered in fresh powder. This trip was even more irresistible since it had been a year or so since my last trip up a white Green Mountain. I slogged up Green via the front side and descended via the middle route. I’m not sure I ever even ran a single step during the day, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. My hair, jacket, and pants were all covered in ice by the time I reached the Gregory parking lot.  

Thursday, May 2nd  
OFF—Recovery day after pushing things pretty hard during my first week back in Boulder

Friday, May 3rd  
AM—10 Miles—2:27—2,650’—Green
Super-slow ascent due to the snow and stomach problems. Ran into Fred on the summit and chatted for a bit. Then ran into Jim Rebenack on the summit and joined him for the descent via Bear Canyon. It didn’t take long into the descent for the stomach problems to show again. Jim dropped me somewhere on the Mesa Trail as I dealt with the stomach issues. Pretty “blah” day. Great to catch up with Jim a bit, though.

Saturday, May 4th  
AM—26 Miles—5:45—6,300’—Flagstaff, Green, Walker Ranch, Eldorado Canyon, Mesa
I met Von Bortz at Ebin G Fine where we proceeded up Green Mountain via Flagstaff and the middle route. With a little lingering shin/calf pain from the snow slogs I decided that I would simply hike anything snowy or muddy and uphill. We headed down the Green Mountain West Ridge to Flagstaff Road where we parted ways. I continued on with the typical backside loop through Walker Ranch, Eldorado Canyon, and back on the Mesa Trail. It was a pleasant surprise to have almost 100% mud-free trails on Walker Ranch and Eldorado Canyon; these were by far the best trails I ran all day. Mesa was a predictable shit-show of mud and water for the entire duration. Throughout the day I kept things at a super-easy effort and just enjoyed seeing all of the sights. This is always a fun loop.

Sunday, May 5th  
OFF—On the 7th day God created beer. And beer was good…

Time—19hours 16minutes
Elevation Gain—23,150 feet                                                                                                                           

Week in Review: May 6-12

Monday, May 6th

Tuesday, May 7th  
AM—5 Miles—5:03—2,800’—The Regency, Royal Arch Scramble and Green Mountain
I met up with Peter for a little scrambling to try out my new LaSportiva sticky’ish rubber shoes. We hiked to the base of The Regency where we began heading up. The first 20-30 feet proved to be fairly tense for me as I tried getting a feel for the shoes. I definitely almost took a 20-30’ish foot fall down the face of the rock. After that everything was smooth sailing. We eventually topped out and made our way to the top of the Royal Arch. I didn’t realize we were on top of the arch until some girls below asked how the hell we got up there. They of course gave us the always motivational words “don’t fall” right before we began the downclimb. Peter decided to shimmy up the Fifth, while I opted to hike up the access trail and meet him at the top. I’m easing into this scrambling thing. We then made our way to the summit of Green before a casual jog down the front side. Great day out.

Wednesday, May 8th    

Thursday, May 9th

Friday, May 10th
AM—3 Miles—1:09—1,150’—Second Flatiron Bailout
I decided to head out and try scrambling up the Second Flatiron for my first time. The trails were a little wet/muddy on the approach. When I got to the base I struggled to get the rubber on my shoes dry. After testing the grip for about 10 minutes or so I decided to start heading up. About 30 feet up I decided I wasn’t really comfortable with my grip. So, I downclimbed and just headed to Fort Collins to find a camping spot before Quad Rock.

Saturday, May 11th
AM—51 Miles—11:41—10,400’—Quad Rock 50 Miler (Fort Collins, CO)
I went into this race with absolutely zero expectations other than to finish. I was still struggling with the altitude after nearly 7 months at or around sea level. I took the first lap easy, walking every climb. However, my quads and hip flexors were still wrecked around mile 30. At mile 45’ish the grade mellowed out and I was able to run somewhat quickly to the finish clocking a few 6:30 miles. I had put in some long (10-15 hours) days while in Patagonia, but the outings were all on rugged, technical terrain which essentially negated all running. So, it would take 14 hours to cover 25 miles. Quad Rock was the longest distance I’ve covered since running 43 miles at R2R2R in late October. It definitely showed…

Sunday, May 12th
OFF—Hip flexors and quads barely permitted walking

Time—17hours 55minutes
Elevation Gain—14,350 feet                                                                                                  

Week in Review: May 13-19

Monday, May 13th
AM—4 Miles—1:11—2,200’—Green Mountain
Barely able to walk when I woke up this morning. My quads and hip flexors are still a wreck after Quad Rock. Regardless, I headed to the Gregory lot with the intent of an easy hike up the frontside of Green. As soon as I put on my shorts and shoes it seemed that my legs came to life. I cruised up the front much quicker than anticipated (still slow as hell). I was even more surprised to find that my quads felt great on the descent and my footwork was near perfection. I decided to push the Amphitheater descent pretty fast since my footwork felt great.

Tuesday, May 14th
AM—9.5 Miles—1:55—3,050’—Green and Flagstaff
Met up with the old roommate Justin for a quick morning lap on Green before my acupuncture appointment. We Began at Ebin G Fine Park and ran up the backside via Flagstaff Mountain. My legs felt surprisingly great on the climb so I proceeded to run about 90% of the ascent up Green. The pace on the descent from Green’s summit to the four-way trail junction on Flagstaff was super casual. I decided to push the rest of the descent hard in an effort to finish in less than 1:55, but missed by just a few seconds. Still have a lot of speeding up to do.

Wednesday, May 15th
OFF—Travel day to NYC

Thursday, May 16th 
AM—7.7 Miles—1:02—200’—Central Park in NYC
Definitely not in the mountains any more. It felt incredibly weird to fun fast (hit sub 5-minute pace a few times) and flat with loads of people everywhere I looked. I turned this into a bit of a fartleck (spelling?) workout and ran hard for a minute or two, then easy for a few minutes, then repeat. This seemed to be a decent way to make break the monotony.

Friday, May 17th 
AM—17.2 Miles—3:10—1,100’—Palisades (New Jersey?)
I joined my friend Susie (who I randomly met in the bottom of the Grand Canyon last October) in an effort to seek out some trails in the big city. I met her at Central Park after a ~1.5 mile warm up and we took the subway north where we crossed a bridge (can’t remember the name) and hit some nice trails. About 14 miles of singletrack solitude was a welcome relief from the terrain and crowds of Central Park. Nice and easy pace the entire way.

Saturday, May 18th 
AM—13.1 Miles—2:10:17—200’—Brooklyn Half Marathon
Wow, 30-40k people running at once. Never seen anything like it. I had great company to run with the entire way, though. I ran with my friend Lauren and enjoyed the beautiful weather, while trying to take her mind off how shitty she felt. Can’t wait to get out and run with her again when she’s actually feeling well.  

Sunday, May 19th
OFF—Drank 4 or 5 liters of beer by accident. Whoops…

Time—9hours 30minutes
Elevation Gain—6,750 feet     


Sucking wind on top of Bear Peak (Photo: David Ponak)

Feels good to be on Bear Peak after such a long time away (Photo: David Ponak)
Cruising up The Regency and Royal Arch with Peter Bakwin

A summer of fun

Snow on Green Mountain!

Sunrise at the Flatirons is always a bit surreal

View of the George Washington bridge from the Palisades trail

Running the Palisades trail with my friend Susie

My favorite NYC subway ad

Packet pickup for the Brooklyn Half Marathon came complete with views of the Brooklyn Bridge (?) with Manhattan in the background and some nice fireworks

There's always money in the banana stand!

Running around Central Park

Celebrating my friend Lauren's birthday in Brooklyn. Definitely a more flattering photo of both of us than the ones from the Brooklyn Half Marathon :)
Soaking in the views of the Horsetooth Reservoir the night before Quad Rock

Horsetooth Reservoir again

Cruising downhill during Quad Rock. This was before my quads were rocked. (Photo: Michael Hodges)