Friday, April 2, 2010

100 Summits of Green

I tagged my 100th Green Mountain summit of 2010 this morning, the 92nd morning of the year.  I guess that was the goal, three months ago, to see if I could enforce a measure of consistency in my running that had been missing since last summer.  Much of that previous inconsistency had nothing to do with a lack of discipline or desire on my part.  Indeed, it was much the opposite; I would often take any sign of health in my legs as free license to rashly pile on the miles with seemingly no regard for its effect on my ability to run pain-free the next day, week, month, or year.  My undertaking of a daily summit of Green was my way of ensuring a long-term mindset.

(A bit windy this morning.)

(Shot south towards Bear Peak.)
There are at least two things that my daily run up Green has provided me with over the course of the last three months.

First,  I've gained an appreciation for the traditional, slow-but-sure, conservative-but-steady-wins-the-race, method of running training.  It's such a simple concept: run a reasonable amount every day--an amount that the body will ably absorb--and eventually it will respond to that steady stress by becoming stronger, healthier, and more resilient instead of breaking down.  The key--and this is by no means ground-breaking--is fighting off the urge to constantly be training at a volume and intensity that pushes the body's current limits.

Running up Green every day has taught me to temper my desire to be constantly thrusting my hand into the fire, seeing how long I can keep it in there this time.  In the past I've always pushed past the initial pain and waited for my fingers to smolder, if not burst completely into flames.  So far, this year I've successfully remained content with training at a level that challenges me but doesn't break me.  I have to continue to do that--if only for my personal sanity.  Not being able to run--especially as the weather edges towards summertime perfection on a daily basis--is simply unbearable on an emotional level.  And I have to remember that whenever I'm tempted to go a little further than what a safe and sane progression would dictate.

Weekly Mileage Progression of 2010 (# of Green Summits):
75 (2) (only the last three days of the week were in January)
94 (7)
107 (7)
120 (8)
123 (7)
125 (9)
88 (6) (little scare with the knee caused me to forgo two-a-days)
143 (10)
145 (11)
102 (7)
53 (3) (fell on my back at the end of the previous week)
152 (8)
168 (9)
170 (12)

In the past, that third week I would've traditionally tested the waters with something in the 140-150 mile range before usually skyrocketing to nearly 200 miles or so on the fourth week.  Because of some newfound wisdom (let's hope I don't lose it!) and the strict demands of needing to be able to run two hours with nearly 3000' of vertical the next day (and the day after that, and the day after that, etc.) that the Green Mountain Project required, the above progression is the route I took this time.

Second,the Green Mountain Project has instilled in me a much greater appreciation for the Boulder Mountain Parks,and therefore,the community of Boulder itself. For better or worse, a significant portion of my view of a town is largely tied to my perception and opinion of its trail/mountain running offerings. For instance, the Del Mar/Solana Beach/Encinitas communities (Jocelyn's home stomping grounds) of northern San Diego County all offer a charming oceanside ambience with vibrant downtown districts.  These are actually things I value in a town.  Alas, (much to the protest of many of the local runners) there's not a lot of real trail running immediately available there (I mean, shit, there are a lot of freeways and houses in the way), which means that it's kind of tough for me to get excited about any extended visits to the area.

Of course, this is not the case in Boulder.  I'm still not convinced that Boulder has the variety or abundance of dirt of, say, Manitou/Colorado Springs, but I harbor an admitted bias there.  When I first moved to Boulder at the end of last summer, I spent a month mostly sitting on my butt waiting for my knee to calm down and heal itself with simple rest.  After that, when I was able to actually get out and struggle over them firsthand, I was roundly appalled at Boulder's uniformly rocky, technical, and steep so-called trails.  It was frustrating.  Vertical gains of 1000' per mile are de rigueur around here, whereas most other places I've lived that's considered to be on the absolute border of runnable.

(Uh, where's the trail?)

(Come on...)

(Okay, so there are some nicely buffed--but still steep--sections, too.)

However, diligence pays off, and I've become increasingly comfortable on the log, rock, and step-filled routes up Boulder's peaks.  In turn, this acceptance and increased proficiency has translated into greater enjoyment, a more positive attitude, and even a boosting of confidence in my fitness.  All good things heading into the summer racing season.

Which leads me to, what next?  This morning, after I returned from my 100th summit, Jocelyn asked, "Well, what are you going to run tomorrow?"  My reply, of course, was "Green".  Planning on four heaping servings, actually.  The fact is, living where I do in town, Green is often the best running option for one who is interested in standing on a significant summit (which I usually am).  So, I will likely continue to run up Green virtually every day.  It's become both a test-piece and a comfort blanket.  It's the very easy but still quality answer to "what am I going to run today?"

Eventually, though, the real snow (as in, real high) will melt and I expect I'll seek out the big peaks more and more.  Races will require that I scout their specific courses and taper rigorously.  More novel adventures will be devised and executed.  But, there is no doubt that Green will remain an essential staple in my running diet, and that--hopefully--I'll continue to retain and act on the principles of running training that its slopes mandated this winter: consistency, summit views, and rational moderation.


Stuart Swineford said...

Nice job on the project. Very cool indeed. Once the snow melts, definitely check out the trail system to the west of Ned and up in the Brainard area. Both are accessible (well, by those such as yourself) from Boulder and there are seemingly endless trails to explore. A lot less technical as well, which should bring out your Manitou vibe.


AJW said...

Great post, Tony. And, I must admit, I didn't think you could pull off the moderation thing and you did.

I hope you nail it at Miwok. Mackey's CR there is, in my opinion, right up there with Ulli's former CR from WR.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on 100, sort of crazy to think you've done anything 100 times.

Anonymous said...

Great running Tony, not just on the feat, but also regarding the planning and consideration you put into it! I do my Mesa trail runs from the South end, but I'm more interested in seeing the North end of the trail after reading your descriptions. I've been focusing on consistency this year, so it's really interesting to get your perspective. Cheers!

Matt said...

Great stuff. The consistent moderation approach is so fundamentally smart.

Not running is just brutal.

Anonymous said...


mike said...

Hey Tony,
Congratulations on your 100th ascent. I read your blog from here in the Falklands Islands and it inspires me to get out and run in what are often 'challenging' weather conditions down here.
I visited Boulder last September to run the Boulder Marathon and thoroughly enjoyed my time there (Colorado/Manitou Springs this year).

Keep up the great blog


Bret said...

Awesome job Mr. Tony. You've definitely influenced the world, followers from the Falkland Islands, wow! You the man!

Billy said...

Nice post Tony. Really enjoyed this one and hearing about your thoughts on the reduced mileage and the Green Mountain Project.

I hope to be at Miwok to pace and see you guys start. Hope to meet you finally.

GZ said...

Actually, since I don't know you well, I am not as familiar with your moderation "problem." And so when you "declared" in January, I had little doubt that you would accomplish this. Simply - it seemed to me that if you declared here in the space, and being who you are ... it was GOING to happen. Glad to see you MADE it happen.

Anonymous said...

Congrats! (I have to admit that I'm not surprized you reached your goal). I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd enjoy reading your plans for races this year.

Anton said...

Thanks for the kind words.

You just want me to leave my WS effort in Marin!

Yeah, I've been a little boneheaded about training volumes in the past--been trying to keep it under control the past couple years.

Racing plans are largely dependent on the associated recoveries from them.

Most likely: if Miwok, then WS. No WS qualifier, I'll head to San Juan. Maybe sneak Jemez and Teva Mt. Games in there (again, depending upon recovery).

Hopefully July will see me at BTMR. August = PPM or Pb. September I'd love to be at Imogene and/or Hal's new 100 up in Oregon. But, hot damn, that's a lot of hundreds...I'm no Karl.

John Kynaston said...

Congratulations on reaching your 100 visits.

Anonymous said...

And Karl's no Anton.

PaulDJesse said...

You nailed the problem with most trail running in San have to drive to get to it. But if you're willing to make a drive there are some great runs to be found.

From Solana beach the only trail you can really run to without spending too much time on roads is San Elijo Lagoon but I'm sure you've already found that one.

If you're looking for trails next time you are out this way let me know and I'll get you a list of some.

Anonymous said...

Your attempt at a hundred summits in a hundred days was something that inspired me to run everyday, which has really helped my training.

Congratulations on finishing this.

Laurent Vercueil, MD PhD said...

Nice project ! I guess you inspire many of us, "little" runners.


Anton said...


Yeah, through Jocelyn's recommendations (she grew up running there, afterall) and some Internet sleuthing, the trails there I have experience with have been San Elijo Lagoon, beach/RR tracks south to Torrey Pines, San Dieguito Park, Rancho Santa Fe horse trails, UCSD campus trails, Lake Hodges, and some place that Jocelyn called the Elfin Forest. Hodges and the Elfin Forest (out by Olivenhain Reservoir) are a bit of a drive but by far the best running.

Some day I'd like to check out Black Mountain and even get to the PCT sometime...also, they're supposed to be building a "Coast to Crest" network that follows the San Dieguito River all the way to Julian? That sounds neat.