PM- 5 miles (:43) North Monument Loop (NB240s)
This morning's workout ended up going better than I'd planned, considering yesterday's longer run. After waking up at 4:45am to run the 7ish miles over to the Starsmore Discovery Center (the starting point of the tempo run at the bottom of Cheyenne Canyon), it took a while to loosen the legs up and start feeling good. However, once I got closer to the mountains, I could feel hot blasts of air coming out of the canyon--a harbinger to the unseasonably warm weather we would have today.
The Cheyenne Canyon Tempo is a 4.2 mile uphill with the first 3ish miles being on pavement and the last mile being dirt (High Drive). This means the last mile is usually ice/snow-covered until later in the season. The hill starts pretty gradually but really ramps up in the middle and the last mile and a half or so to gain 1646' total (average of a 7.4% grade), going from ~6200' to 7800'.
The key to this run is not letting the flattish start fool you into going out too hard and then suffering big-time on the steep stuff in the middle. I did a decent job of controlling that today and ended up hitting splits of 11:34 (Mt. Cutler sign), 18:11 (10mph sign), and 26:09 (gate) and then slipped up the icy High Drive to get to the top of the hill in 34:26. I think that's my 2nd fastest time ever to the gate, so I was really happy with the effort.
However, all the speedwork isn't being too kind to my right shin. On the run down, my shin was aggravated so much that I bailed onto the (much more beautiful) Columbine trail to get back to the bottom of the canyon instead of running down the asphalt road with the group. I was pretty tired on the trail, but I took a gel at 2hr that perked me up and then headed back towards home via Stratton and Bear Creek.
However, once I got to Bear Creek I was feeling a lot better so I decided to turn it into a longish run (the gorgeous mid-50s weather was also a motivator--I ran shirtless for the entire last 1.5 hrs of the run) and took a loop around there, and then when I got back to Monument I did a snappy North loop to finish out the run. My shin felt a lot better the second half of the run.
This whole run was great. It's fun to start so early in the morning--the sunrise is always fantastic--and Cheyenne Canyon is an exceptionally beautiful place early in the morning. Finally, the ridiculously gorgeous January weather topped everything off.
The run in the evening was predictably crappy. I didn't get off work until 7pm again, so I ended up heading out in the dark for a desultory North loop. The shin was pretty tight and my heartburn was terrible. I'm not that sure why I do these evening runs---mostly to practice running while feeling like shit, I suppose--but I guess I always do feel better after they're done.