Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekly Summary: May 24-30

Mon-AM: 30 miles (4:40) Green-Bear-SoBo-Chat-Green, 7500'
Ran 34:50 up the front of Green and then after tagging Bear and SoBo dropped down Shadow Canyon and took Mesa back to Chautauqua to climb Green one more time via Gregory-Ranger in 38:40.  Finished up with 3mi of barefoot at Kitt.  Knee was encouragingly good all day except for the 2000'/1.5mi descent off the top of SoBo and down Shadow.  Ridiculously steep and technical stuff there.  Great quad-crusher, though.  Soaked in Boulder Creek afterwards.

Tue-AM: 16 miles (2:19) Green Mt up Flatirons down Bear Cyn, 3300'
Legs actually felt good today, but I went easy.  That Flatiron trail is a nice find that I wish I'd explored sooner.  Knee was pretty tight today.
PM: 8 miles (1:01) Creek Path+4mi barefoot at Kitt

Wed-AM: 15 miles (2:10) Green Mt. up Back down Bear Cyn, 3000'
Ran early (5:30am) for no good reason other than that it's a great time of day.  Legs felt more recovered but I just took it easy and enjoyed the swirling clouds on the summit. Knee felt a lot better.
PM: 7 miles (:55) Creek Path+North Boulder Park
After an acupuncture session with Allison, I ventured up to North Boulder Park to explore some new scenery for my barefooting. However, NoBo Park is too busy and the surface isn't as nice as Kitt Field, so I abandoned it after only one lap. I forgot what madness the Creek Path is in the summertime. It's so busy that it's nearly unrunnable. It's inspiring that Boulder is that active, but it's not exactly my ideal running environment.  Kind of a dissatisfactory run, especially since my stomach was significantly jacked-up for the first time in a long while.

Thu-AM: 25 miles (3:38) Mt. Evans (14,264'), 3700' vertical
Started from Echo Lake (~10,500') with Jeff and Brandon. On the long traverse over to Summit Lake the wind was so absurdly strong that it was stopping me in my tracks quite often--pretty miserable running conditions.  On all the switchbacks to the top the wind would alternate between throwing me up the hill and almost knocking me over backwards.  Struggled to the top in a very casual, just-keep-moving-forward-without-the-wind-hurtling-me-to-Kansas 2:17.  Descended directly off the top on a ~0.5mile/1300'-drop snowface with Jeff that happily cut off about four miles of downhill road and then jogged easy with Jeff back down to the car, chatting the whole way.  Much much more pleasant with the wind at our backs.
PM: 8 miles (1:00) Creek Path+4mi barefoot at Kitt
Decided to take advantage of the 90F temps to get in a little heat training. Legs felt good and knee was rock-solid all day today, which is very encouraging.

Fri-AM: 15 miles (2:11) Green Mt. up Back down Bear Cyn, 3000'
Took it relaxed and easy. Knee felt good. Hot (90F+) later in the day.

Sat-AM: 43 miles (6:20) 2xGreen-Walker-Eldo-Green, 11,000'
Two laps up Green were 34:30 (Amp-SR-Greenman) and 37:45 (Gregory-Ranger), and the third ascent was via Bear Canyon in 36:30 (from Mesa). Nice hot-ish weather all day (80s) was a step in the right direction in terms of acclimation. From the beginning I didn't have great climbing legs, but my quads were rock-solid all day, still feeling plenty fresh on the final descent off Green. That is very encouraging. Also, my knee never hurt the entire day. No barefoot, but soaked for 10min in Boulder Creek afterwards.

Sun-AM: 15 miles (2:12) Green Mt. up Back down Bear Cyn, 3000'
Nice easy run; super casual 38:50 ascent. Slightly sore quads and glutes. Nice to see that no one's out on the trails at 6:00am on a Sunday morning.
PM: 15 miles (2:12) Green Mt. up Front down Long Cyn, 3000'
Ran up the hill in 32:41 (6:30, 18:50).  I wasn't planning on going very hard, so I just kind of eased into the climb with no expectations.  By time I got to Greenman, though, I could see that I had a decent time going so I kept the pace steady and then really pushed the last 3min (from the top of the log stairs) to make sure I got under 33min. Descended Long Canyon and then Flagstaff to Viewpoint and the Creek Path. For some reason my quads were incredibly tired on the downhill--not pounded or sore just really really weak and tired.  Which, I guess, is why you put in back-to-back big days--to beat down your body like the second half of a 100 miler.  Long Canyon is a gem of a trail that I haven't been on since last fall.  Beautiful singletrack without another soul on it.  Soaked in Boulder Creek afterwards.

-Miles: 197
-Hours: 28h 38min
-Vertical: 37,500'

2010 Summits (Day 150)
Green: 153
Bear: 8
SoBo: 3
This week ended up being a bit bigger than I'd planned because of last week's long run being bumped up to Monday and because of the Mt. Evans run on Thursday.  Right now, though, if I want to do any running at high altitude, it's going to be on the Mt. Evans road, which is long.  This is actually the biggest week I've had since the last time I was preparing for Western States, two years ago.  I need to be sure to not get carried away these next two weeks and just focus on maintaining a reasonable schedule of running.

The second half of the week also saw a marked improvement in the health of my knee.  Right now I'm very hopeful that I'll be able to race 100 miles on it without needing to take a ton of time off afterwards.  In the next month I'll continue to look to get a fair bit of running above 10,000' while still getting plenty of time in Boulder in hot weather. 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Long Run

(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, 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'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:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weekly Summary: May 17-23

(Back to Green this week. Finally, without snow.)

Mon-AM: 13 miles (2:00) Green Mt. up and down Back, 2800'
Unexpectedly quick 35:55 trip up Gregory-Ranger. 1mi barefoot

Tue-AM: 13 miles (2:00) Green Mt. up and down Back, 2800'
Got this in early before hopping a plane to CT. 1mi barefoot. 

Wed-AM: 9 miles (1:03) Roads in Connecticut
After doing the NB group run, tacked on some easy miles with Greg T.  All the humidity, oxygen and foliage made me nostalgic for Nebraska.

Thu-AM: 9 miles (1:07) Roads in Connecticut
Easy shakeout before flying back home.
PM: 15 miles (2:07) Green Mt. up Front down Back, 2800'
31:29 PR with splits of 6:05 and 17:55.  Stomach was off, which slowed me down a bit. First time I've run this route in a while, so it was good to get back on it. Yesterday's easy day really helped out the knee, too.  3mi barefoot.

Fri-AM: 14 miles (2:03) Green Mt. up and down Back, 2800'
Pretty sluggish after the late run last night. 2mi barefoot.
PM: 14 miles (2:01) Green Mt. up and down Back, 2800'
Ran at 2pm to start getting some heat training in, ~80F.  Didn't eat enough between runs and I was really bonking the last 20min or so.

Sat-AM: 15 miles (2:12) Green Mt. up Back down Bear Cyn, 3000'
Legs tired as expected after yesterday.  Already over 80F in the AM.
PM: 8 miles (1:06) Goose Creek+2mi barefoot at Kitt
Ran at 2pm to get some almost 90F heat.

Sun-AM: 15 miles (2:06) Green Mt. up Front down Bear Cyn, 3000'
Went up the mountain in a surprisingly casual 34:50. Legs still tired.
PM: 8 miles (1:03) Public Library+5mi barefoot at Kitt

-Miles: 133
-Hours: 18h 48min
-Vertical: 20,000'

2010 Summits (Day 143)
Green: 143
Bear: 7
SoBo: 2

It felt really good this week to get back into some respectable schedule of mountain running again.  At some point this week I was descending Green Mt and the distinct feeling that I was in the right place, doing the right thing, living the right way hit me hard and I realized that it's been a long time--almost four weeks--since I've been back in the rhythm of daily running.

(Cruisin' some of the new-ishly-constructed buffed singletrack in Bear Cyn this morning.)

Speaking of rhythm, last week someone asked me in the comments section whether or not I have a coach, especially in light of the fact there he couldn't make out any discernible "rhythm" in my day-to-day and week-to-week running.  The two weeks preceding this one certainly had no such rhythm.  It was all about listening to my body (my knee, specifically) and doing what I thought it could reasonably handle.  Which, come to think about it, is really all that limits my running most of the time.  I can definitely feel a rhythm in my day-to-day running when the training is going really well. 

During the build-up for Miwok my running generally fell into a pattern of: Monday & Tuesday, go easy and recover from the weekend; Wednesday and Thursday, hit a little bit more vertical and push the climbs if my body was feeling like it; Friday, easy day; Saturday and Sunday, big volume days with tons of vertical and an especially long run on Saturday.  Repeat.  Of course, this was all in the context of running up Green Mt every day--even easy days--but my fitness has progressed to the point where I can maintain volume and vertical while twiddling with the intensity knob on any given day to produce variability in the day-to-day output.

However, the most important thing is that there is no set "pattern" in my running, by design.  That is intentional.  I would rather let each new day's conditions and unique levels of fatigue dictate what I do than begin each and every week with a set-in-stone idea of what I want to accomplish.  Keep it simple.  Cultivate the activities that make you tick.  Don't overthink the details or the highs and lows, because tomorrow the mountain will always still be there, just waiting to be run up again.

Unlike my running, I think this has a rhythm that can be appreciated:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Getting Reacquainted

A full three weeks have passed without me making regular trips up Green Mt.  This week, thankfully, my knee has been allowing me to make myself a familiar figure up there once again.

Yesterday I arrived back home in Boulder after nearly 12 hours of travel from Connecticut where I was attending a meeting with the kind folks at New Balance.  In the morning I'd put in a leisurely nine miles exploring the hills and hollows of the Thames River, but after sitting on an airplane for most of the day I knew I needed to get out and stretch the legs.

Off to Green Mt. then.

In those intervening, largely Green-less weeks, the mountain had become much more aligned with its name.  Finally, the last vestiges of snow are gone and the foliage is in full force.  I felt a surprising bounce in my legs as I made my way through the two miles of streets to Chautauqua, so I decided it was time to see if my fitness has been eroding or not with the lowered mileage.  A focused effort of Green's frontside route would fit the bill.

My legs felt in control as I cranked my way up the almost dishearteningly steep steps of the Amphitheater trail, but my stomach was off as a result of three days of travel, odd meals, and irregular hours.  Even so, I came through the Saddle Rock junction in 6:05, 15 seconds under my previous best time for that stretch of trail.  Above here I focused on getting into an efficient rhythm and not wasting unnecessary energy by trying to go too fast through sections of exceedingly technical trail.  For much of this winter, this route was mostly a perfectly-packed trench of snow with the abundant rocks and roots smoothed out and filled in.  Now, with the snow gone, trying to run it fast is a much different experience.  What one gains in marginally-improved traction (Microspikes do an amazingly good job during the winter) is almost certainly lost in having to keep a constant tension in one's leg muscles just to stay upright on the variable terrain.

I passed the Flatiron Turn-off in 11:50--30 seconds under PR pace--and then was sure to not overdo it on the very steep section leading up to the overlook.  After an almost-not-there downhill, I reached the Greenman Trail junction in 17:55.  From here, the trail becomes much more forgiving for about two minutes.  There are almost no rocks and even a short downhill section on which you can catch your breath before hopping over a spring and beginning the struggle through endless talus and rock and log steps that define the final 10 minutes of this mountain.

The last three minutes on this route are always a signifier of what kind of effort you've put in.  If you've been sand-bagging up until this point, you can draw on your abundant energy reserves to dance through the rocks with exhilerating aplomb.  If, however, you've been operating on a razor's edge for the majority of the climb, this final section will likely send you over the brink and you'll probably trip, stumble, even turn an ankle, and feel mostly like a hypoxic, bumbling idiot as you struggle towards the summit.  Which is probably what Green has temporarily turned you into.

Thankfully, my stomach woes had forced me to keep the effort slightly conservative up until this point, and I was able to sprint to the top nearly as quickly as when snow has smoothed it into a more uniform surface.  I reached the summit in 31:29, a satisfactory 50 seconds faster than my previous best, clocked this winter.

Sitting on the summit rock I was rewarded with a most outstanding sunset: storm clouds were beginning to swirl over the Indian Peaks as the last rays of light shone through, creating a breathtaking (no pun intended) natural light show.  What's more, it was nearly eight o'clock at night and I was on the summit with nothing more than a pair of shorts and a pair of shoes.  No shirt or headlamp needed.  And later, running barefoot on Kittredge Field in near complete darkness, the air still held plenty of warmth to keep me comfortable.  Man, I love summer.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bookkeeping and Catching Up

It's been a while since I've had an update on here, but that's mostly because I was consumed with finishing out the school year and also because Miwok caused my knee to suffer a bit of a relapse.  I was afraid of that going into the race, but I felt like I was in a bit of a Catch-22 situation--if I wanted to have an opportunity to race at Western States, I had to race Miwok, even though doing so might set me back physically.

With that in mind, I've taken the subsequent two weeks quite easy in terms of training load.  When I registered for Miwok last December I felt that it would be key to be sure to fully recover from Miwok before launching into any theoretical final preparations for Western States, and I feel like I've been successful (rare for me) in doing that.

After deciding that I do indeed want to race there (a more in-depth exploration of this topic here), I now feel ready to embark on another period of high-volume running before the taper for Western States, and, with the advent of the summer season, can't wait to start making regular forays into thinner air.  Now some snow just needs to melt!

Here are the past three weeks of "training", i.e. just lots of tapering and recovery with a single 62 mile effort interjected into the middle of it all:

Mon-AM: 16 miles (2:21) Green Mt. up Back down Bear Canyon, 3000'

Tue-AM: 8 miles (1:01) Creek Path+4mi barefoot at Kitt

Wed-AM: 8 miles (1:03) Creek Path+1mi barefoot at Kitt

Thu-AM: 8 miles (1:00) Creek Path in the rain

Fri-AM: 8 miles (1:04) Creek Path+2mi barefoot at Kitt

Sat-AM: 62 miles (8:02:51) Miwok 100K, 10,400' vertical

Sun-PM: 1 mile (:10) Barefoot at Kitt with Jocelyn
Sore, but not too bad. Knee is definitely the worst thing.

-Miles: 111
-Hours: 14h 42min
-Vertical: 13,400'
Mon-AM: 1.5 miles (:13) Barefoot at Scott Carpenter Park

Tue-AM: 3.5 miles (:30) Creek Path with Jocelyn
Everything in my body feels recovered except for the knee.

Wed-AM: 4 miles (:33) Barefoot at Kitt with Jocelyn

Thu-AM: 7 miles (:54) Creek Path+2mi barefoot at Kitt

Fri-AM: 6 miles (:48) Creek Path

Sat-AM: 5 miles (:42) Creek Path with Jocelyn

Sun-AM: 6 miles (:47) Creek Path to Chat and home

-Miles: 33
-Hours: 4h 27min
-Vertical: nada
Mon-AM: 9 miles (1:22) Green Mt. up Back down Front, 2800'
Knee was decidedly unhappy with this test.  Hitchhiked home.

Tue-AM: 8 miles (1:02) Creek Path
Brutal acupuncture session with Allison afterwards.

Wed-AM: 12 miles (1:30) Creek Path
Definite progress here.  Knee was 100% until the last 15min.

Thu-AM: 13 miles (2:00) Green Mt. up and down Back, 2800'
Effortless 39:35 through 6-8" of new snow on Ranger.  Felt great to be back up on the mountain and knee was surprisingly tolerable on the downhill, especially considering how bad it was Monday.

Fri-AM: 4 miles (:31) Campus

Sat-AM: 13 miles (1:33) SoBo Creek out past Bobolink and back
Knee felt great and I got in some steady, easy flat running at sub-7s.

Sun-AM: 14 miles (2:00) Green Mt. up and down Back, 2800'
Best run I've had since before Miwok.  34:41 up Gregory-Ranger despite not really feeling any exceptional energy in my legs--just felt like a normal day but with a bit higher exertion.  Really excited to get back into a solid daily training routine.

-Miles: 73
-Hours: 9h 58min
-Vertical: 8400'

2010 Summits (Day 136)
-Green: 136 (I've now exhausted the +16 advantage I'd built up)
-Bear: 7
-SoBo: 2

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Miwok Photos

Here are a few photos from the race on Saturday (from various folks) that I thought captured my day particularly well.  Thanks all for taking the time to snap a few shots!
(Final preparations at the hotel on race morning. Photo: Martin Mudry.)

(Heading up the Rodeo Valley Trail--I think--early in the morning, at the base of the first big climb, ~6.5mi. Photo: Luis Escobar)

(Charging along Bolinas Ridge somwhere on the Coastal Trail, ~25mi. Photo: Luis Escobar)

(Jenn and Renn cruising back on the Coastal Trail, ~45mi. Photo: Luis Escobar)

(If only I'd been going as fast as this photo looks. Descending Deer Park Road at ~51mi. Photo: Shane Wolf)

(NOT making it look easy--and probably cursing the downhill asphalt--with only a few hundred yards to go. Photo: Shane Wolf)

(Mere yards from the finish line. Photo: Nico Vera)

(Man, there is seriously nothing so beautiful as finally sitting down and peeling off the shoes...Photo: Martin Mudry)

(And, finally, another great photo from Luis.)

EDIT: Here's a nice recap of the proceedings at the head of the race by Bryon Powell for

Monday, May 3, 2010

Miwok 100K Race Report

I posted my race report for Miwok over at Running Times.  So, go ahead and click here to see it.

Also, Jim from Hydrapak was industrious enough to take some fairly intimate footage of some of the back-and-forth that Mike Wardian and I engaged in for the first 35 miles of the race.  Check it out: