High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Week(s) in Review: September 30 - October 20—The Doctor Said I Need a Backiotomy

Week in Review: September 30 – October 6

Monday, September 30th
OFF—Recovering from Friday’s 62 miles and driving all day Sunday

Tuesday, October 1st
PM—7 Miles—3:32—8,100’—Manitou Incline (x4)
The trip south to the Blanca Group of 14ers took me by Manitou Springs. Of course, I had to get out on the Incline. I felt like death on the first ascent. After a nice little break on top I decided to descend the Incline with the possibility of a second lap. The second lap passed by a little easier. So, I decided on a third lap. Again, this lap passed by pretty easy, which meant a fourth lap (and a race against the dwindling daylight) was in the cards. When I began the final descent it was already pitch black outside. The Incline is already enough of a deathtrap when descending in the daylight. “Super slow” doesn’t even begin to describe how I approached the last descent; taking every precaution not to impale myself on an exposed piece of rebar. The ascent splits were 27:41, 29:39, 28:50, and 29:11—nothing overly spectacular, but breaking 30 minutes on four consecutive ascents while maintaining a low-to-moderate effort isn’t too shabby. I felt like I could keep going all night.

Wednesday, October 2nd
AM—12 Miles—7:06—4,500’—Northeast Crestone Bailout
En route to the Blanca Group I decided to take a look at Northeast Crestone to see if a summit was in the cards. It wasn’t. The day started surprisingly warm from the trailhead up until I gained the ridge between Humboldt and the Bears Playground. Here I put on my wind pants, a merino wool long-sleeve, puffy jacket, hat, and two pairs of gloves. It was windy and downright cold. Closer to the Bears Playground snow became more prevalent. Initially, this wasn’t much of a problem. I waited until late enough in the day that the snow was soft enough for my Microspikes to pierce through. However, as I began a slightly steeper climb towards the North Buttress of Crestone Peak I found myself in an area of snow covered in bulletproof (or at least dull Microspike proof) ice. Well, shit…As I tried retracing my steps to bail on that route one of my dull spikes slipped and I began a ~50-feet slide down the snowy slope. This might have been fun if it weren’t for the somewhat steep, snow-filled slopes below me waiting to turn my 50-feet slide into something potentially far worse. I eventually stopped by hitting a pile of exposed rocks then promptly seized the opportunity to completely bail on the attempt. I used the return on the Humboldt-Bears Playground ridge to practice ona little 5th Class terrain. After a few short 15-20 feet routes I spotted a 5.6-7 route about 50-60 feet long and decided to go for it. Fun stuff.

Thursday, October 3rd
OFF—Woke up at the Lake Como TH with the intent of hitting Little Bear. As soon as I started running my calves and hamstrings seized up and wanted no part in it. I’ve never experienced pain like that before. I decided to call Allison, head to Boulder, and get some acupuncture.

Friday, October 4th

Saturday, October 5th
OFF—Absolutely brutal two-hour session of acupuncture with Allison. My calves hurt so bad under even the slightest touch that I would almost throw up. Short massage session with Megan later in the day.

Sunday, October 6th
OFF—Woke up with my legs feeling great, but my lower back was completely screwed. Damn…

Miles— 19
Time—10 hours 38 minutes
Elevation Gain—12,600 feet

After a good first few days out after The Bear I thought the recovery process was speeding right along. Then came the real pain…

Week in Review: October 7-13

Essentially nothing this week. I got out for two hikes to try loosening up my lower back, but they didn’t help. I’d rather put all “zeros” down for my totals than the numbers below. Really frustrating week. I sat at the base of Little Bear for 4-5 days waiting for my back to feel good enough for an attempt. It never happened. Eventually, the snow rolled in and I rolled out.

Miles— 4
Time— 2 hours 15 minutes
Elevation Gain— 1,100 feet

Week in Review: October 14-20

Monday, October 14th
AM—3 Miles—2:51—1,400’—1st/2nd Flatiron Access Trail Hike
Ben, a New Zealander I met in Chile, was in Boulder for a stop on his road trip across the States. So I took him and Louie on a short hike up the access trail. My lower back felt pretty good.

Tuesday, October 15th
PM—7 Miles—2:21—3,400’—Bear and South Boulder
With some noticeable improvement in my lower back, I decided to head up Bear and SoBo from the Cragmoor TH. The effort up Fern Canyon was pretty mellow since I hadn’t run in two weeks or so. I hit the summit of Bear in 49:47 while keeping the effort pretty moderate the entire way. After a quick jaunt over to SoBo I made my way down Shadow Canyon. Shadow was noticeably different from the last time I’d be on it—lots of exposed tree roots and substantially more rocks on the trail. I guess a 100-year flood will do that.

Wednesday, October 16th
PM—5 Miles—1:15—2,600’—Sanitas (x2)
From Settlers Park I went up-and-over Red Rocks for a little warm-up before dropping down to the Sanitas TH. I headed up the Sanitas trail, topped out on the summit in an easy 20:46, descended the goat trail to the junction with Sanitas Valley and Dakota Ridge, and then retraced my steps with a 14:42 split on the shorter second summit. I pushed on a few stretches of both descents just to remember what going fast downhill feels like. It’s been way too long since I’ve tried going fast on a descent.

Thursday, October 17th
AM—6 Miles—1:47—3,500’—Bear, South Boulder, Bear
Great day in the mountains with great company. I joined Jeff Valliere and Andrew Skurka for little Bear and SoBo action. Pretty moderate effort up Fern Canyon—flirted with conversational pace and sucking wind pace—to top out on Bear in 47:15. Andrew had some shaky legs so decided to head down from there, while JV and I made our way over to SoBo reaching the summit in 58:43. After a brief stop on the summit we headed back to Bear, where I sat on the summit for 20-25 minutes and JV headed back down Fern to sneak in another lap. On my way down Fern I crossed JV who had picked up more company for his second trip up—Homie. I took the descent pretty casual for the most part; trying not to hurt my lower back with the downhill pounding.

Friday, October 18th
OFF—Rest Day

Saturday, October 19th
AM—10 Miles—2:42—3,700’—Bear, South Boulder, Bear
I decided to sneak in a few somewhat faster miles before making my way up Bear. So, I just ran the roads from Broadway/Table Mesa to the Cragmoor TH—a nice and easy two-mile warm-up. I hit the TH in 16:09; not fast, but it’s been a while since I’ve ran 8-minute miles. Stumbled into the Timko’s a little ways before the saddle and chatted for a few minutes. I eventually hit the summit in 46:47 from the TH. After about five minutes of hanging out I had to move on to SoBo; mainly because some jackass was on the summit defending the current trail closures. What an asshat. Another 15:08 saw me on top of SoBo—1:03:43 from the TH. With ten minutes of summit lounging under my belt I headed back to Bear, reaching the summit in 14:51. After scrambling down the final summit pitch I ran into Basit on his way up. So, I decided to join him to the top again and chat. The wind started to pick up quite a bit; turning the nice, shirtless run in the snow into a holy-shit-I’m-freezing-and-just-want-to-get-down-this-mountain run in the snow. The way down to the saddle was a little treacherous with the slippery packed snow. I ended up taking two pretty sweet falls and found myself wishing I had a GoPro or some sort of video of both of them. I passed Darcy on my way to the saddle and she had to be thinking of words to describe how big of an idiot I am running in the frigid winds sans shirt. The descent on Fern was pretty mellow since all the rocks were wet and my shoes didn’t have any traction. I busted out the two miles of road in a relaxed 14:21 to call it a day.

Sunday, October 20th
OFF—Rest Day

Miles— 31
Time— 10 hours 58 minutes
Elevation Gain— 14,600 feet

Felt good to get back to running again; even if it was a low-volume week. My lower back continues to hurt, but it’s feeling better. So, that’s good. 

This is where I took my slide while trying to snag NE Crestone. There are a few snowy slopes to the right that I'm glad I avoided on the slide.

Having some 5th Class fun after bailing on NE Crestone.

More fun.

Driving to Durango

Treasure Falls

Same waterfall

Singletrack mountain bike riding? The hell was I thinking?

Sunset at Little Bear Ranch

Same sunset as above

Still the same sunset only with Little Bear Ranch in the right

Park closure at Sand Dunes National Park


Trying to smile while hiking. Would rather be running, but the lower back wasn't having any.

Sunrise at Little Bear Ranch

Sitting on the summit of Bear Peak. First run in about two weeks. All smiles that day :)

Some nice trail from Bear to SoBo

Near the summit of SoBo. Winter is upon us...