Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week Summary: Jan 23 - 29

Mon-AM: 1:22, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down Third access.  Boom, running. Ran the runnable terrain on this route (including to and from Chautauqua), which made for about 50min worth. Super exciting.
PM: 1:01, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down First Saddle. Biked to Gregory and was very disciplined about just hiking. Warm afternoon had me shirtless on the climb, though. Awesome, considering it's January.  Snappy 33min ascent.

Tue-AM: 1:22, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Same exact outing as yesterday morning, except the shin felt even better. Ran everything that is runnable. Patience, patience, PATIENCE! Acupuncture session with Allison Suddard.
PM: 1:09, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down First Saddle. Very nice evening; perfectly calm w/ lightly falling flakes. All hiking.

Wed-AM: 1:20, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
The usual, up and down Third access. Really really good.  My shin felt extremely close to 100% and the fresh pair of kicks (NB 1010s) had excellent stability and traction on the techiest terrain possible. I can't express how good it feels to be running again.
PM: 1:15, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Took a fun new variation up to the First Saddle, scrambling the arete that leads out of Amphitheater and up to the First. Came out a little further east than I would've liked (right at the base of the backside of the First, so a touch high), but joined up with the standard path and then caught up to Gavin just below the NE ridge. Hiked to the top with him, but then hiked down solo as he was running down. Trying to stay smart.

Thu-AM: 1:18, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Up Amphi-Saddle Rock-Greenman and down First Saddle. Greenman above Saddle Rock is a freaking glacier right now. The ice is just ridiculous. All running, 35min up/18min down.  Acupuncture with Allison Suddard.
PM: 1:18, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up First Arete and down First Saddle. Got a late start after chatting with Buzz at the trailhead (he was out biking, too), but it ended up being a really fun climb. Was caught by darkness on the way down so stumbled a bit coming down Amphitheater. All hiking.

Fri-AM: 1:31, 2900' ~ Green Mt.
Up Skunk Ridge down First Flatironette. Nice as I was able to get this in right before it started dumping snow.  Hit a cloud/snow line at ~7800' heading up the Skunk Ridge but then it was snowing pretty much the whole descent. Running.
PM: 1:15, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up First Arete and down First Saddle. Fresh layer of snow made things pretty slow and the icy patches super treacherous.  Truly magical evening on the summit with the sun setting behind swirling purple and pink mist; really wished I had the camera.

Sat-AM: 4:48, 5000' ~ La Plata Peak
From Highway 82, I took the NW ridge to the summit and back the same way. A few hundred extra feet of vert from the bumps on the ridge. Total postholing endless drudgery through the trees (w/ snowshoes even!) was the only damper on an otherwise excellent day. 3:22 up, 1:26 down.  On the way down I got in a bit of snowshoe running for the first time ever and found it to be way less awkward than I'd always assumed.

Sun-AM: 1:36, 2900' ~ Green Mt.
Up Skunk Ridge and down 3rd access, mostly with Geoff after starting with a big group of others (Jenny, Scott, Jon, Krissy, Dan, Darcy). Shin felt good.
PM: 1:14, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down First Saddle in the dark (headlamp). Hiking.

Hours: 20h29min (~9hr running/11h30 hiking)
Vert: 37,000'

Ah, good news to report this week, the first in almost a month it seems.  My shin started feeling good again last weekend and this week I was determined to not get over-excited with its seeming health.  I've been in this position probably a half dozen times over the past year, but this past week I made the crucial difference of not increasing the running at all for the whole week, sticking to my usual 1:20-ish trip up and down Green from my doorstep each morning, and of reinstituting acupuncture into my plan of attack. Yesterday's 14er involved less than 30min of actual running (most of which was on cushiony snow, no less), so despite the longer outing was still pretty tame on the shin, I think.  This week I will look to maintain the discipline and not increase the running appreciably until at least next weekend when I'll be back in L.A. and hope to enjoy another outing in the San Gabes.

This week's positive progress gave me the confidence to finally post a racing schedule for the 2012 season. After only racing once in 2011, I'm extremely excited about the events I have lined up in 2012, especially the prospect of racing internationally multiple times.  I've always identified deepest with the European style of mountain running (steep and techy), so May's races are super inspiring for me.  And how can one not be excited about visiting New Zealand?

Overall, I'm trying to diversify things a bit this year: different countries, a foray into shorter races (Mt. Washington and Pikes Peak), and maybe the gnarliest event in the sport (Hardrock).  I may even still throw the Boston Marathon in there in April; I've always wanted to experience the most classic pavement session on the calendar.  I'm most excited to finally be in a position, physically, where I feel confident allowing myself to realistically anticipate racing again.

Alpenglow at the base of Green, Friday morning.
But a just-starting-to-snow cloud on the summit, #33.
A special sight for anyone who's run the Leadville 100: 13,933' Mt. Hope (left) and Twin Peaks/Rinker Peak near Twin Lakes (Hope Pass just barely out of frame on the left). On the way to La Plata Pk Saturday morning.
Really looking forward to the new Sleigh Bells album on February 21st.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Two Week Summary: Jan 9 - 22

Mon-AM: :22, 500' ~ Amphitheater
Hiked to the top of the Amphitheater trail at the base of Green before deciding that the shin was too tight and that tagging the summit would be a bad idea.

Tue-AM: 1:14, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down 1st Saddle. Shin felt quite a bit better this morning, especially as the hike went on.
PM: 1:19, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access and down 1st Saddle.  Incredibly warm afternoon.  All hiking.

Wed-AM: 1:08, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down 1st Saddle. At the Gregory TH by 5:15am when it was already lightly flaking. Needed the headlamp all the way back down the mountain as the falling snow seemed to be suppressing any sort of sunrise. My bus to DIA was delayed by 1h30 due to an accident on 270 so I had to catch a later flight to Charlotte where there ended up being tornadoes that evening.  In January. Long day, but really glad I got the summit in to start it off.

Thu - off.
Spent the day in Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham, giving a talk at the Carrboro Fleet Feet in the evening. No exercise today, but really fun to see a new corner of the country. Really liked the vibe in Carrboro and would like to do Uhwarrie or Mt. Mitchell one of these years.

Fri-PM: 1:21, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Got out in the late evening after a long day of travel back from North Carolina. Shin was more sore than I would've liked, even just hiking. WTF.

Sat - off.
Just seemed stupid to do anything since the shin is hurting.

Sun - off.

Hours: 5h02min
Vert: 10,600'


Mon-AM: 1:18, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down First Saddle. Felt crappy after the time off.

Tue-AM: 1:16, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down First Saddle. Cold morning at +10F. Warmed up nicely later, though.
PM: 0:13 ~ Streets
Tested the shin with a little flat jogging. Meh.

Wed-AM: 1:43, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Up Third access and down First Saddle. Jogged to Chautauqua and then the first couple minutes up the meadow. Status quo blah.

Thu-AM: 1:36, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down First Saddle. Ran the 13min to Gregory. Shin twingier than I would've liked, but I'm used to disappointment after a year of this shit.  +60F today, which is awesome but feels wrong.

Fri-AM: 1:18, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access, down 1st/2nd access. More warm weather. Short-sleeved shirt. All hiking.

Sat-AM: 1:20, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd, access down 1st/2nd. Another unseasonably warm day.
PM: 1:13, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down 3rd access. Felt really dialed in and tagged a 38min ascent from Chat. Shin felt really solid on the down, and on such steep terrain it's tough not to sneak in a few running-type steps. Finished just as a headlamp would've become helpful. Perfect timing.

Sun-AM: 1:33, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down 3rd access. Tested out a little running today, and it went pretty well. My guiding principle now will be to do nothing that I don't think I can repeat the next day.
PM: 1:15, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down Third access. All hiking but shin felt quite good. Really enjoying getting out again.

Hours: 12h45min
Vert: 23,800'

I'm bored of whining, so won't.  But there did seem to be a legitimate glimmer of hope at the end of a really tough two-week stretch with the shin.
  • Wait, one thing I will whine about: posing as someone else on the Internet is pretty lame, bordering on douchie. Equal parts flattering and annoying, I suppose.  For the record, "Anton's Ghost" on Twitter is not me in case there was any confusion about that (and there actually seems to be).
  • Tickets for the February 9th Boulder screening of Unbreakable were sold out as of a couple days ago.  Sounds like there may be a couple of extra guests, so expect it to be the sort of trail/mountain/ultra gathering typical of the Boulder scene, i.e. more top mountain runners and other assorted legends anywhere else other than maybe Placer High on a late June evening.
I recommend checking out these two wildly divergent but equally emotive tracks:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Week Summary: Jan 2 - 8

Mon-AM: 1:27, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access and down Greenman-SR-Amphi. All running except for the obvious hiking on the super steep postholing sections.  Cruised the descent at a moderate but not committed effort and skittered down the ice in 16:42.  A big part of me would love a new 2ft dump of fluff some time soon.
PM: 1:02, 2700' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down 1st Saddle. Met up with JVBrandon and Bill for an afternoon lap. Pushed solid on the up with Jeff and got a couple hundred extra feet of vert when we went back to tag the summit again with Brandon. All hiking on the up, but all running on the down, nice chatting a bit with Bill there.

Tue-AM: 1:37, 3000' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access and down 1st Saddle. Really tired this morning, so just jogged easy and then hiked steady. Really warm morning in the 50s at 7am. Added a couple hundred extra feet of vert on the descent as I thought better of postholing through a new route in only 3/4 length tights.
PM: 1:14, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down 1st Saddle. Frustrating punchy, slushy conditions but a lot of exposed rock, too. Super warm evening had me climbing in a t-shirt even though the sun was already set.  All hiking.

Parked at Bakerville and round-tripped these classic Front Range 14ers in 2:55 in perfect winter conditions.
PM: 1:12, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down 1st Saddle. Didn't get out until later but it almost didn't matter because the slightly-more-than-half-full moon was offering some brilliant lumination. Didn't put on spikes until above the First but then kept them on all the way down, mostly because I was in the dark. Gorgeous warm evening. Hiking.

Thu-AM: 1:52, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down 1st Saddle. Scott biked over to my place and we ran up 6th St to the Gregory trailhead where I promptly snapped a Microspike just putting it on. Never had that happen before. Easy effort hike up and down the mountain then because of my lack of traction but the shin was definitely a bit touchy and needed to be babied after yesterday's overzealous outing anyways. Jogged ~10min on the streets on the way back home.

Fri-AM: 1:17, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access down 1st Saddle. Was cautious this morning by biking to Chat and limiting the running. Snuck some in on the way down. Calves are still quite sore from Wednesday morning.
PM: 1:09, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Exact same loop as this morning except I went up in 39:50 from Chat this time, which is the fastest I've done that route in quite some time.  Mostly because there's really no postholing anymore.

Sat-AM: 2:09, 4500' ~ Mt. Elbert
Drove up to Leadville with jLu and Scott. Snow was already coming down at the Eisenhower Tunnel and Fremont Pass, but things were good in town and great at the North Elbert trailhead.  Temps in the upper teens and perfectly still with only lightly-falling flakes.  A mix of running and a steady hike on the nicely-packed trail deposited Scott and I on the 14,433' summit 1h30 later.  After stowing the sticks and spending a few minutes hanging out on the summit, I ran back down to the car in :39 for a surprisingly quick trip up and down the hill.  The drive home on I-70 was a different story--ice- and snow-packed roads, grid-locked traffic...6hrs later we were finally back in Boulder.

Sun-AM: 1:42, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down 1st Saddle. Maybe 2-3" of fresh snow on the upper trails. Fresh cat tracks on the NE ridge. Ran the 15min to the trailhead mostly because I didn't want to bike on icy roads. Jogged most of the descent but walked the streets home to be nice to the shin.

Hours: 17h42min
Vert: 34,000'

Overall, obviously quite a good-looking week--a few big peaks, a bunch of vert and ~7.5hr of actual running--but the shin is still very much a limiting factor on what I am able to do pain-free in the mountains, blah blah blah boring; I'm very tired of thinking and complaining about it.  I know that right now Colorado (along with most of the American West) is experiencing a very mild winter, but I can't believe that I've waited until this year to really make a concerted effort to keep getting into the high country during the winter months.  A huge part of this is my shift these last few months toward realizing the value in hiking uphills (something snow and ice necessitates this time of year); I know that in the past I simply wasn't prepared to accept that for whatever misguided reason (ego).  A fun fact about these winter summits is that nearly as much time that is lost on the climb is able to be re-gained on the descent thanks to the relatively smooth(er) and softer surface that the snow provides.

Moving along, later this week I'm looking forward to a trip to North Carolina for New Balance and will probably use it as an opportunity to enforce a few consecutive easy days for the shin.  Wednesday evening I'll be speaking at the Dilworth Run For Your Life store in Charlotte and Thursday evening I'll be at the Fleet Feet Carborro store near Chapel Hill.

Here is a link to an interview I recently did with a runner I met on a trip I took to Michigan for NB last year.

Finally, next Saturday is Colorado Springs' 2nd Annual Ponderous Posterior 50K.  Because Team CRUD knows how to do things right, this year's Fat Ass-style run on the Pikes Peak region trails will follow the same route as last year (still starting and finishing at JT's house), BUT this time in the clockwise direction (last year we ran it counter-clockwise).  Due to the change in direction, the official course this year will include an ascent of the Manitou Incline to the top of Longs Ranch Road instead of running up Barr Trail.  Any out-of-towners or Incline virgins are in for a treat.  It is highly unlikely that my shin will allow me to make it around the full 50K loop, but I definitely still plan on heading down to the Springs for a more abbreviated version of the trail festivities.

Fri evening: #10

Up. Photo: Scott Jurek.
Summit ridge. Photo: Scott Jurek.
Jurker descending.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Grays & Torreys

Wednesday morning I couldn't ignore the absolutely stellar mid-winter weather window and bolted for the high country.  With only an hour's drive to the trailhead at Bakerville on I-70, Grays & Torreys were the obvious choice for getting above 14,000'; I was running up the road to the summer trailhead by 7:30am. Three miles, 1500' vert and :38 later and I was crossing the footbridge to the trail proper.

Upon hitting the singletrack, I was pleasantly surprised to find more excellent footing--wind- and boot-packed, stryofoam-like snow; perfect for Microspikes--and as such was able to maintain a running cadence until the trail kicks up appreciably at the giant cairn at the base of Grays.  Wind was a non-issue until the final 100' or so of vertical to Grays' summit (where there seemed to be a steady 30mph+ or so breeze), which I reached in 1:47 from Bakerville.  I negotiated the 600' drop and subsequent ascent to the top of Torreys in :18, on whose windless summit I shed my shell before making the descent back to the car in 50min flat, dispatching of the final three downhill road miles in a snappy sub-18min for a total of 2:55 car-to-car.

The one time I've hit this loop in summer it took me 2:41, so I think it is safe to say that conditions up there right now are about as perfect as they could possibly be for this time of year.  With sufficient acclimation I think Wednesday's conditions were capable of being even faster than a typical summer trip.  All in all, this outing was certainly a gift considering the throngs of crowds that these peaks are known for in the summer (I briefly saw only two other parties yesterday)--not to mention the fact that I spent the vast balance of my summer in 2011 sitting on my duff with a broken leg and have plenty of catching up to do when it comes to high country summits.  

Euro-style accessories all around.
The morning's objectives: Grays, left and Torreys, right.
Torreys, from the summit of Grays.

Grays Peak from Torreys summit.
Torreys summit.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Week Summary: Dec 26 - Jan 1

Mon-AM: 0:10 ~ Home Pastures in Nebraska
Shin was twingy so I didn't push it beyond more than this with running and then wasn't motivated to seek out any legitimately steep hiking terrain.

Tue - off

Wed - off

Thu-PM: 1:22, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down 1st Saddle. Got out in the dark after a long day of driving back to Boulder from Nebraska. Really warm evening, but there was some crazy wind up on the NE ridge and the summit. Great to get back on the hill after a few days away, but pretty wild how much snow has melted.

Fri-AM: 4:00, 6000' ~ Mt Belford & Mt. Oxford
Missouri Gulch TH via NW Ridge w/ Jeff and Homie. Balmy upper-30s at the trailhead were contrasted with some fairly significant winds (50+ mph?) on the summits and the saddle between the two peaks. Hiked well on the uphills but could definitely feel my lack of altitude acclimation. Ran the downhills and flats and enjoyed pounding the quads on the final 4mi/4600' drop back to the trailhead (including the mile down the NW ridge that loses 2200') off the summit of Belford. Shin held up well, helped by the mixed snow/talus/scree conditions. Awesome day with some great mountain folks. Hardrock training commences!

Sat-AM: 1:26, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down 1st Saddle. Awesome morning. I ran to the base of Amphitheater, marched to the top, and then ran every step back to my door, all without protest from the shin. It's crazy to me how the right amount of activity heals this thing, but too little or too much makes it unhappy.  More crazy Chinooks up on the NE ridge this morning.
PM: 1:21, 2500' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access and down 1st Saddle, all hiking. Locked bike at the usual spot by Gregory but then hiked over to the Third.  Legs felt really good and spikes were gripping well on the super icy trails; nearly lost an eye on an errant tree branch, though. Made it half-way back down the mountain by moonlight but eventually relented and switched the headlamp on. Really fun outing.

Sun-AM: 1:22, 2800' ~ Green Mt.
Up and down 1st Saddle.  Ran almost every step of this outing, hiking only the steepest stuff on the way up. Very nice first summit of the year, but trail is becoming bullet-proof ice for pretty much everything below Greenman. Hugely encouraging run; nice way to kick off 2012!
PM: 1:28, 2600' ~ Green Mt.
Up 3rd access, down 1st/2nd access. Felt good and the half-full moon provided enough light on the way down.  All hiking.

Hours: 11h09min
Vert: 19,200'

2011 Totals
Miles: 2360
Hours: 452h18min
Up: 629,800'
Greens: 181
Bears: 16
SoBos: 0

I was visiting my parents in Nebraska the first half of this week, and while there the shin seemed to be frustratingly touchy.  I say "seemed" because I'm now fairly certain that complete rest isn't the best thing for it.  While with each day off ("off" being a relative term; each day I still got out for a couple mile stroll around the farm and other rigorous physical activity in the form of firewood-making with axes and chainsaws) my shin seemed to only worsen, when I returned to Colorado on Thursday the return to focused intensity and duration of hiking/running seemed to only make the shin feel better and better.  This is a pattern I've noticed with it before; the trick now is to carefully monitor and limit my progression.

In terms of stats, 2011's numbers were severely limited by all my non-running due to injury (shin periostitus, broken fibula).  Mileage was only ~40% of 2010, but all of my steep hiking this year is reflected in the fact that in 2010 I only averaged 175'/mi while I bumped that up to 266'/mile this year.  Even with all my time off I still managed a Green summit on average of nearly every-other-day; I was quite surprised to realize that I didn't top out on SoBo a single time in the past calendar year (nor visit Shadow Canyon, sadly).  I surely hope to rectify that in 2012.

Friday's foray into the high country was just what I needed.  I've sorely missed the big mountains over the past 18 months and I really look forward to making them an increasingly bigger part of my weekly outdoors activity as I build my fitness for Hardrock over the next six months.

Homie and Jeff heading up Belford's NW ridge in the morning.
Hope Pass in the center on the other side of the valley.

Mt. Oxford.
Homie re-ascending Belford, with Harvard looming behind.
Probably not for everyone: