(43 miles, 6h20min, 3xGreen Mt., 11,000' climbing)
Today was an encouraging outing on Boulder's trails. The past ten days have still left a fair number of questions/reservations in my mind about the relative wisdom in deciding to race at Western States. Will my knee recover afterwards? Will my knee allow me to prepare the way I'd like? Will my knee even allow me to get to the starting line?
The past few days--and especially today--set a lot of those questions to rest, and in a positive way. Thursday's nearly four hour run up and down Mt. Evans went flawlessly despite my doubts about my knee's ability to withstand an hour-plus of pounding downhill on pavement. And then today's romp through the mountains and canyons of Boulder reaffirmed that things are definitely headed in the right direction.
Today I completed a route that, since my build-up for Miwok, has become somewhat of my default long run: log a lap or two on Green Mt.; head out to Walker Ranch and cruise around its relentlessly hilly loop; trundle my way through maybe the scenic highlight of the run, Eldorado Canyon; and then make my way back to Boulder along the Mesa Trail for a final lap or two on Green again. These trails offer borderline absurd amounts of vertical gain and an engaging mix of fast, smooth singletrack and steep, technical ascents and descents that while certainly very very tough, all remain runnable.
(Two laps of Green, the bumps of Walker, and then another ascent of Green.)
Today, my knee handled it all with aplomb. Not a single whinny from down there. Which is more than I can say for any of the long runs I did in the lead-up to Miwok. At some point in each of the major long runs before that race I would get at least a short stretch where the knee would become a bit achey and twingy before returning to a pain-free state. Maybe the hip strengthening exercises and Allison's acupuncture are working?
It was legitimately warm out today. Days like today are why I'm not living in Leadville this summer. It doesn't get hot in Leadville. (And by the time heat is no longer a priority for me (post-WS) Jocelyn will have returned from Peru and I'll always choose her, even over the high mountains.) Yesterday the mercury hit 92F here in Boulder and for most of the run today the temps had to be in the 80s. I knew I would be riding the hydration edge a bit by only taking one bottle with me from the base of Green to get me the two and half hours of running back up the mountain, around Walker, and through Eldorado Canyon to the visitor center's fountain, but I was kind of hoping to shock the body a little, too, to train it to hold onto it's water a little better (hmmm...I wonder if that's even physiologically feasible?).
I ran out of water about 30min out from the Eldo trailhead (right when I was standing around gabbing with Nick, Justin, and Nick P, out on a good, long excursion of their own today. There were lots of friends out today--saw Brandon and Jim, too, doing a Skyline Traverse. I had about another 22min of chat-stops, mountain-top gazing, etc. in addition to the 6h20 of running time), and when I made it to the fountain I got to work filling the ol' fashioned Camelbak--my stomach. I'm pretty sure the first 22oz bottle was absorbed directly into my bloodstream with nary a pause in my belly, and the second and third took only slightly more work to get down. After 70oz of water and a gel, the remaining uphills back over to Bear Canyon sure were a lot easier.
This morning I had vague intentions of trying to get four laps on Green today, but when I hit the steep sections of the Green-Bear Trail (the two Nicks and Justin were witness to pretty much the apex of my suffering on that little climb) I knew that three would have to do. I was worked. And, I was out of gels. However, despite not really having very solid climbing legs all day (in the morning I hit ascents of 34:30 up Amp-SR-Greenman and 37:45 up Gregory-Ranger--I was expecting a minute or so faster on each of those), my downhill chops were definitely there. Even on the final 3mi/2500' descent off of Green Mt. my quads felt as fresh as they did at the beginning of the run. So, things are coming along.
In a fairly informal (at least it felt that way when Duncan was conducting it) interview for competitor.com, I was asked what I think about for all those solo hours on the trail without an iPod to keep me company. Although part of my answer astonishingly made Letsrun.com's Quote of the Day (truly, the absolute zenith of any runner's career), I failed to mention that there is often plenty of music playing when I'm out running. It's just all stuck in my head.
Today, this rousing track was on repeat, which I was quite fine with: