High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Week in Review: January 13-19—Ramping Up

Monday, January 13th
AM—7 Miles—2:45—2,800’—Green Mountain
I went up the NE ridge, which was an icy deathtrap. For almost the duration of the ascent I stayed off anything resembling a trail since there was just so much ice. I ended up reaching the summit in 2.02 miles—one day I’ll top out in less than two miles. The thought of meandering over to Bear Peak entered my mind, but common sense told me that Fern Canyon would be a ridiculous descent without any spikes. So I descended the West Ridge/Long Canyon/Flagstaff Trails back to Chautauqua hoping to minimize ice encounters. This worked for the most part, but I still busted my ass a few times.

Tuesday, January 14th
AM—17 Miles—4:04—4,400’—Eldorado Springs to Nederland (Almost)
After a late night drinking session with the Ponak’s David and I decided to run from Eldorado Springs over to Nederland. Every weather forecast we saw said it was supposed to be cold and super windy so we decided on this route versus our original plan of getting up high in the mountains. The weather was actually pretty amazing all day. I slowed David down considerably due to my inability to run anything even slightly uphill. My legs just didn’t have anything today. With the exception of a few icy patches of trail and jeep road we were treated to the best conditions I’ve ever experienced on this route. We were late to meet David’s wife, Aubrey, for lunch in Ned so we hitched the last few miles down into town. I’m looking forward to getting back on this route when my legs and lungs are back.

Wednesday, January 15th
AM—3 Miles—1:38—2,050’—2nd Flatiron
My original plan was an easy five miles or so on the Creek Path. This changed into an easy five miles or so on the Mesa Trail. This changed to me playing around on the icy 2nd Flatiron. I stuck way to the right hand side to allow for an easy exit should the rock get too icy. About halfway up I bailed off since the 110’s I had on weren’t gripping at all (they’re held together with Shoe Goo). I finished the trip up to the top of the 1st before turning back around and descending the access trail. Closed the access trail loop and cruised ~1/2 mile of Mesa back to the Taco.

Thursday, January 16th
AM—7 Miles—1:54—2,500’—Green Mountain
Up and down the middle route. Slow ascent and moderate descent with the exception of a few icy spots. I didn’t really feel like putting my spikes on for the way down so I just tip-toed around the ice. I opened up slightly on the Baseline trail back to Chautauqua and hit sub-6 pace for the stretch of trail.

Friday, January 17th
AM—5 Miles—1:32—2,400’—Green Mountain
I was sitting in Trident this morning when I got a call from Jeff saying he was heading out for a lap on Green. I immediately packed my stuff and headed towards the mountain. Nice and easy pace up and down the backside. Jeff brought his eleven-year-old dog, which thankfully slowed down the pace a bit. I’m still sucking wind on the ascents. Beautiful morning for a run in shorts!

Saturday, January 18th
AM—19 Miles—4:51—6,100—Flagstaff, Green, Bear, South Boulder, Bear, Green, Flagstaff
After spending a few hours in Trident waiting for it to warm up a bit I finally headed out. I met my old roommate Justin at Ebin G Fine and we began a casual ascent of Flagstaff. My breathing was a little heavy in places, but the effort was easy for the most part. We parted ways on top of Flagstaff and I made my way over to Green via the Middle Route maintaining the easy effort to the summit. Just below the summit I ran into Basit (surprise, surprise) and chatted for a second before continuing over to Bear Peak. I picked up the effort quite a bit on this segment, but had to maintain a little control due to all of the snow/ice on the trails. The climb up Bear went by effortlessly. Loads of soft snow made the initial trip over to South Boulder slow going, but I was able to run a significant portion of the trail before resorting to a grunting power hike up to the summit. I was surprised at my slower split for the return to Bear considering how much easier this section felt to run. Making my way back to Green was probably the strongest ascending I ran all day. It’s always a big confidence boost to be 10+ miles and 4,500 vertical feet into your day and feel like your strongest uphill running is yet to come. After charging up all of Green-Bear Trail and part of the West Ridge Trail I finally fell into a power hike for the last fraction of a mile to the summit. From the summit, I casually made my way down the upper stretches of Greenman trying to maintain some balance between speed and control on the snow-covered trails. There were a few stretches where I opened up the pace a little, but I never really pushed any of the descent until I reached the top of Flagstaff. There were several stretches between Flagstaff and Ebin G Fine where the trail conditions allowed for a fast paced descent without wearing Microspikes. I was happy to reach Ebin G Fine and not feel completely spent. My legs still had quite a bit in the tank, which made it hard to shun the summit of Sanitas. It’s beginning to feel like I’m getting my legs and lungs back. I probably could have taken this run close to 4:30 if I wouldn’t have refused to put on my Microspikes for some of the slippery portions (specifically, the steep portion of the Bear ascent/descent).

Sunday, January 19th
AM—7 Miles—1:46—2,200’—Green Mountain Bailout (Icy as Shit)
Started to head up the middle route from Chautauqua. The trails were surprisingly icy compared to being on them at the same time of day yesterday and never once putting on my spikes. I couldn’t get any traction on the trails, which made for a shit show of slipping and sliding. On lower Greenman I felt a blister starting to form on my heel. For some reason I thought today would be a great day to break in a new pair of 110’s sans socks. I decided to bail on Green and descend the front side, which presented ample opportunities for busting my ass on the ice. Once down, I returned to the Taco, taped up my heels, and headed back out for a quick loop on the Flatiron access trails. The trails were full of the usual “it’s 60 degrees and sunny on a winter Sunday” crowds, which led me to run off trail most of the way. Even so, I still hit sub-5:30 pace for a decent portion of the loop. I could definitely feel the fatigue of yesterday’s miles and vert in my legs on the ascents.

Time— 18 hours 31 minutes
Elevation Gain— 22,450 feet

The beginning of this week had me a little worried that I may have tried doing too much too soon. As previously stated, my first four runs in Boulder saw more vertical gain than the entire month of December. So, my left shin and left ankle/Achilles were bothersome the first few days this week. Around Wednesday or Thursday all of the discomfort just disappeared. No complaints here. 

Being back in Boulder has me feeling a bit like a kid let loose on a playground. If I suspected my body could handle it then I’d simply run all day, every day. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and a little common sense must be practiced. The result is the low mileage days of Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. I wanted to run more on these days, but I’m trying to ramp up my volume at a rate that makes sense. Sure, a 100+ mile week would be possible right now, but then I’d be injured in a few weeks with nothing to do but kick myself in the ass for being an idiot. 

I signed up for another race this week, too. The Run Through Time trail marathon in Salida, CO in mid-March. I might actually do a little speed work for this fast trail marathon…

Top of the 1st Flatiron

Staring up at the icy 2nd Flatiron

Some fast snow-covered trail on lower Greenman

Sunrise from lower Greenman

Staring back at Green Mountain (left) and Bear Peak (right) from the summit of South Boulder

Sunrise near the last switchback of upper Greenman

Cruising along upper Greenman on a warm day

Looking over at the 3rd Flatiron from Green Mountain's NE ridge


  1. Nice week! I did a different version of the Skyline on Saturday, must have missed you along the way. Keep it up, looking strong!

  2. Thanks! I'm still taking things a little slow after a rather inactive month of December down at sea level. But I feel like I'm progressing OK. Saturday I started at Ebin G Fine around 9am, headed up Flagstaff then over to Green via Ranger/Greenman. Next was Bear via Green Bear and the West Ridge followed by a quick trip over to SoBo. I retraced my steps back. May have missed me on the summit of Bear since I shimmy up from the west side of the summit blocks versus the north side where Fern Canyon tops out. It was a gorgeous day out there for a nice little Tour de Skyline.