Monday, July 26, 2010

Weekly Summary: July 19-25

Mon-AM: 15 miles (2:29) Devil's Thumb, 3000'
PM: 7 miles (:55) Creek Path+2mi barefoot at Kitt
Acupuncture with Allison Suddard immediately afterwards.

Tue-AM: 17 miles (2:36) Green Mt. & Bear Peak, 4200'
Fog layer at 8200' made for incredible views from Bear this morning. A very snappy 31:46 (6:45, 18:50, 29:20) up the front side of Green left me a bit wobbly-legged on the descents, but it was an awesome run overall. Hamstring felt the best it has since WS...very little trouble with it.
PM: 5 miles (:41) Creek Path

Wed-AM: 35 miles (5:35) Granite Pass-Flattop Mt &back, 8500'
Great first long run back after WS. Scott and I started at the East Longs Peak TH at 9400' in RMNP, ran up to Granite Pass (12k'), all the way down to Glacier Gorge (9200') and Bear Lake, up to the summit of Flattop Mt (12,324') and then exactly back the way we came. I did the full 34mi out and back in 5:28 after charging over the final pass and down the last descent with more than a little fear of lightning strike. I felt good on the first climb, but the rest of the day had a hard time finding a good rhythm, except for the last descent. Jogged around at the end to shake out the legs after running fast downhill.

Thu-AM: 16 miles (2:20) Green Mt. up back down Bear Cyn, 3000'
Easy effort after yesterday's long run. Running in Boulder in the summer is pretty great, if hot. Jumped in the creek afterwards.
PM: 8 miles (1:04) Creek Path with Jocelyn
Got completely soaked in a raging downpour.

Fri-AM: 16 miles (2:22) Green Mt. up SR-GM down Bear Cyn, 3000'
I've never run the full Saddle Rock trail from the bottom, so Scott and I checked that out. It's nice. Legs felt good. Legs are definitely finally fully back post-WS.

Sat-AM: 50-ish miles (8:10) Epic Indian Peaks Loop, 10,000'
Started from Brainard Lake/Long Lake with Scott and went up Pawnee Pass, down to Monarch Lake, High Lonesome Trail to Junco TH, Caribou Pass, Arapahoe Pass, Arapahoe Glacier Trail down to Rainbow Lakes Campground/Rd to CU Mountain Research Station, up and over Niwot Ridge and back down to the Long Lake lot. One of the best days I've ever had in the mountains. I was blown away by the magnificent beauty right from the start--I had no idea the stuff that was back there in that wilderness. Those mountains are on par with anything else I've seen in North America, stuff like the Tetons, San Juans, Elks, North Cascades, and high Sierras. After making the fifth and final 2000' climb of the day up to the Niwot Ridge Tundra Lab, we lost the trail (we'd gone too far west) and couldn't find the final three mile descent back down to Long Lake so Scott and I ended up dropping straight down an absurdly steep tundra and talus slope (at least 60 degrees) to intersect the well-traveled trail around the lake.

Sun-AM: 16 miles (2:25) Green Mt. up G-G down Bear Cyn, 3000'
Hot, but legs felt surprisingly good after yesterday.
PM: 8 miles (1:12) Golf Course Loop w/ Jocelyn
Very slow easy jog because Joc was dragging a bit.

-Miles: 193
-Hours: 29h 49min
-Vertical: 34,700'

2010 Summits (Day 206)
-Green: 186
-Bear: 12
-SoBo: 4


This was a great first real week back to training post-WS.  The two long runs were definitely highlights and sort of showcase why I tend toward ultras when it comes to racing: in the summertime (or anytime) it's just really hard for me to not want to get out there and enjoy all-day runs in the mountains and this obviously better prepares me for all-day races in the mountains.  The Saturday run was an epic almost paradigm-shifting event for me (at least in terms of my sense-of-place), so it definitely deserves a forthcoming blog post all its own.

I was also pleasantly surprised by my uphilling legs on the frontside of Green Mt. on Tuesday.  That time is only 17 seconds off of my PR and came after not pressing until the top half of the mountain.  I think I've held onto my fitness well since Western States.

With regards to racing plans in August, I'm still fairly squarely on the fence betwixt Pikes Peak and Leadville, but right now my attitude is resonating slightly more with the acronym title of the stellar Yeasayer tune O.N.E: One's Not Enough.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rocky Mountain National Park

Ever since I moved to Boulder last year, I vowed to make the short trip northwest to Rocky Mountain National Park for an epic run or two.  I had visited RMNP well over a dozen years ago on a family camping vacation, and it was trips like those that laid the foundation for my present-day obsession with cruising as many miles of high country trail as available time and my two legs will allow.

Alas, last fall my two legs (my right knee, specifically) weren't allowing too many miles of any sort at all, so it wasn't until this past Wednesday that I finally made it up to RMNP to explore this iconic portion of Colorado's mountains.  Starting from the East Longs Peak Trailhead, Scott and I completed a fairly arduous route that would include three nearly 3000' climbs and 34+ miles of singletrack all above an altitude of 9000'.  (All pictures courtesy of Jenny Uehisa.  Likewise the wheels, patience, and irrepressible good humor on the day.)

(Our route: a scenic out and back to the Continental Divide in RMNP, starting at the base of Longs Peak.)

(12,000' Granite Pass, 12,324' Flattop Mt, and Granite Pass again: three big climbs.)

(Advising Scott on the emergency options for Longs Peak.)

(First strides of a long day in the mountains: East Longs Peak Trailhead at 8am.)

(Typical trail above treeline on the outbound leg of our run, headed towards Granite Pass on the horizon to the right.)

(Some stunning gneiss and the Diamond on the east face of Longs Peak, above Chasm Lake.)

(Trail signage on Granite Pass: Bear Lake = 7.3 miles away.)

(Our destination as seen from Granite Pass.  Clouds brewing.  Bear Lake is in the center of the photo at 9400', and the climb up 12,324' Flattop Mountain is on the ridge headed out the left side of the frame.)

(Scott, back at the trailhead, happy to get out alive.  A fairly lively little storm cell chased us all the way back from Flattop Mt to Granite Pass and our starting point at the trailhead.  Although we probably appear extremely minimally prepared for above-treeline weather, the fact that we are running puts us in a much more advantageous position--in my opinion--than hikers stuck above treeline with gigantic packs weighing them down and drastically increasing their exposure time to the elements.)

(Enjoying the pleasant exhaustion that five and a half hours of mountain running can bring.  Scott and I are likely debating the relative merits of employing road flats on 34 miles of largely technical and rocky trails.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekly Summary: July 12-18

Mon-AM: 7 miles (1:00) Creek Path+2mi barefoot at Kitt
Miserably sluggish and slow.  I went to bed at 5pm after bagging the evening run.

Tue-AM: zippo
Woke at 1am last night and proceeded to experience endless hours of projectile unpleasantness of all sorts.  Really really sick.

Wed-AM: nada
Still bed-ridden.

Thu-AM: 4 miles (:37) Creek Path
Very very slow and hazy return to physical activity post-illness.

Fri-AM: 15 miles (2:12) Green Mt. up back down Bear Cyn, 3000'
Finally made it up Green again.  Hamstring tightened significantly on the final descent down Skunk Canyon.  Really really hot, too, as it's been all week. Had a remarkably painful acupuncture session with Allison Suddard in the afternoon.

Sat-AM: 15 miles (2:22) Devil's Thumb, 3000'
Very nice run up to the Continental Divide in the Indian Peaks Wilderness with Scott, Jocelyn, Jenny, and Bill, all between 9k' and 12k'.  Scott and I took it pretty easy all morning, especially on the downhill where my hamstring had me fairly gimpy. Great to finally make it back above treeline. Lots of exploring to be done up there in the next few weeks.

Sun-AM: 15 miles (2:16) Green Mt. up back down ridges, 3000'
Getting my mojo back with good energy the whole way and a relatively cooperative hamstring. It's been so hot this week that ending my runs with a short swim in Boulder Creek has become mandatory, especially since there's a perfect swimming hole right outside our apartment.
PM: 5 miles (:44) Creek Path+1.5mi barefoot at Kitt
Ran super easy with Jocelyn.

-Miles: 61
-Hours: 9h 11min
-Vertical: 9000'

2010 Summits (Day 199)
-Green: 182
-Bear: 11
-SoBo: 4

The first half of this week was destroyed by coming down with some sort of flu-like sickness, but the second half I finally started establishing a little more consistency to my running again.  My post-WS hamstring tweak continues to be a bit of a limiting factor on downhills, but through a combination of acupuncture and strengthening exercises it seems to be gradually improving enough that I can still run on my preferred terrain.

On Friday, Jocelyn and I made a stop in at Albums On The Hill, the only independent record store left here in Boulder.  The demise of this part of the music business is certainly a sad one, but not particularly puzzling.  A new CD there is generally $12.99 compared to the $9.99 that iTunes charges.  However, Jocelyn and I both agree that there is absolutely some sort of almost intangible satisfaction and glee that comes from purchasing the material disc instead of simply performing a download of a digital file.  We still have a CD player, but it syncs up with our iPod just as easily as popping a disc in its slot, so its tough to put a finger on what exactly makes buying a CD from the local shop more enjoyable than downloading.  Interacting with another knowledgeable, informed, enthusiastic human being is definitely part of it.

However, it makes little sense to me why specialty record stores are disappearing while other specialty businesses--say, running shops--can still make a go of it.  I suspect it's because A) they're a bit more diversified, and B) people still like getting fit for shoes and getting advice on other gear.  Music stores definitely used to be a way of learning about new music, though, too--music that wasn't necessarily force-fed to you on the top-40 radio stations.  So, I don't know.  It's all a bit baffling to me.  In the meantime, though, I guess I'll continue paying an extra $3 every now and then to get a new album in order to support the local shop.  I know it's almost certainly a futile effort at supporting the business in maintaining its relevance, but I'll keep doing it as long as the store is there.

Incidentally, on Friday Jocelyn and I picked up both of the albums by the White Rabbits, Fort Nightly and It's Frightening.  Both are inventive, high-energy, and highly listenable.  A token track from each, respectively:

In fact, this entire concert--available streaming for free at so good that it's what inspired the purchases.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Searching For The Routine

The last three weeks have been pretty hectic for me.  In the lead-up to a big race like this year's Western States 100, my life tends to take on a borderline ascetic existence.  Each day is extremely predictable in its activities and very little is allowed to disrupt the necessities of running and recovering from running.  This might sound like a somewhat miserable way to go through life, but I definitely find a measure of comfort in the familiarity and rhythm of a daily routine, and really, I think it's the only way that one can sustain--both mentally and physically--a truly high level of training.

How high?  In the first six months of 2010--a relevant training block punctuated with the coda of Western States--I ran:

 3405 miles,
 in 502h 03min,
 with 596,500' of vertical climbing.

And some other dude still beat me by six minutes.  That's how it goes some times.

(This dude, actually.)

The last three weeks have been far different.  The two days after Western States, I didn't run a step (the first days I took off all year), mostly because I really couldn't.  I drove back to Boulder, CO, got in a couple extremely short and laughably slow runs, and then drove home to Nebraska for a 4th of July family reunion in South Dakota.  Other than offering a very good excuse for taking it very easy getting back into running, it provided an in-my-face reminder of how miserable wind, heat/humidity, and mosquitos can be.  There are some things I don't miss about my Great Plains roots.

After that it was another big road trip back to Boulder where life became complicated yet again (but, in a fantastic way) with Jocelyn's return to Colorado, a tight hamstring, and a three-day video shoot in Boulder's Mountain Parks for the forthcoming New Balance Minimus line.  During this time I also had the pleasure of spending some time hanging out with fellow WS-competitor Kilian Jornet and other friends here in Boulder (his English has significantly improved even since race day) as he took a whirlwind tour of the western US before heading back home to Europe.

(jLu tests out her Polaroid camera b-day gift.)

So, after two weeks of 34 miles and 79 miles and a couple of key visits to Allison Suddard for acupuncture, I've been spending this week just trying to transition back into a more routine and familiar lifestyle that will hopefully involve a lot more running and frequent trips to the high country both to appreciate its rare snow-free state and to prepare for end-of-the-summer races.  I'm confident it will all come together again soon.