Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Green Mountain Project

(There she is, nearly 3000' of vertical just waiting to be scaled.)

Initially, I think a significant part of why running appealed to me--when I started running regularly 15 years ago--is because it is an activity that easily lends itself to the proclivities of a somewhat obsessive, somewhat compulsive personality.  Emphasis on the qualifying somewhat's in that sentence.  I don't think of myself as particularly obsessive compulsive in most arena's of my life---it only sometimes pops up in fairly peculiar ways.

For instance, I am mildly compelled to always put my left shoe, sock, or glove on first, before the right.  No particular reason why, it just feels right.  When I discover a new band or song I often listen to it incessantly on repeat just because I enjoy it so much.  I have made the exact same recipe of "African Stew" (containing such delicious and nutritious ingredients as quinoa, yams, kale, chickpeas, and peanut butter) three times already this month---twice for the same dinner guests.  And, the obvious is that during particularly heavy training periods I can become especially draconian regarding the specifics of my daily or twice-daily runs.  In the latter case, it can be argued that a little OCD is almost a necessary component to maintaining a rigorous training schedule.  For whatever reason, running seems to accentuate this tendency in me.

But, with regards to the running, I have recently decided, I think, to whole-heartedly embrace this tendency in a new way.  With three weeks of 2010 already behind us---and still not a day missed on Green Mountain---I am highly tempted to strive for a goal that coalesces around a pair of particularly round numbers: completing, on foot, 100 summits of Green Mountain in the first 100 days of the year.

To be sure, this is not really a unique proposition.  In fact, it is virtually directly inspired by the fact that something very similar has been accomplished at least twice before.  When it comes to habitually running up and down a Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks peak, Scott Elliott is the unequivocal standard-bearer of sorts.  At least twice in the last few years (2007 and 2009) Scott has managed to summit 8461' Bear Peak 100 times in the first 100 days of the year.  Last year he apparently extended the monomania and ran up Bear 175 times in the first six months (182 days) of 2009.

Scott's major racing accomplishments have occurred in primarily uphill-only races, most conspicuously in the venerable Pikes Peak Ascent, which he has won an astonishing eight times (with a personal best of 2:06:47), been second another four times, and finished a total of 17 times, only once out of the top ten overall.  His prowess on that mountain is only surpassed by the virtually incomparable Matt Carpenter.

The Boulder Daily Camera wrote this article during Scott's 2007 streak, and this Camera article from 2001 provides evidence that Scott's focus has not been limited to Bear Peak---it mentions a streak of ascending Green Mountain for something on the order of 115 days straight in preparation for that year's Pikes Peak race.

Because of where I live in the city, I have chosen the 8144' summit of Green Mountain (and not Bear or South Boulder Peaks) as my daily goal.  From my front doorstep, it is a 12-13 mile and just under 2hr roundtrip outing to the summit and back, depending on which trails I choose.  I have a couple of reasons for pursuing this goal.

First, as I implied earlier, it appeals to a powerful part of my personality.  It offers a tangible goal in my running during a time of the year that is typically devoid of many races and instead is important and appropriate for establishing a rock-solid foundation of mileage and hours for the rigorous spring and summer trail racing season ahead.

Second--and this is the most compelling and important consideration for me--I think it will actually serve to discipline me in my training to remain more conservative, less erratic, and therefore more consistently injury-free.  How, one might ask, am I rationalizing that?  My thinking is that by planning for a two hour run with big vertical every day I will not be tempted to push my training much beyond that on any regular basis because doing so might jeopardize my ability to go out and repeat the summit run the next day.  By taking the long-term (at least 100 days) view I will--theoretically--approach each day's training with a reasonable attitude, that, instead of focusing on how much I can squeeze out of my body on any given day will place the onus on day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month consistency.  This is something I have regularly struggled with in the past, due mostly to my boundless enthusiasm and passion for running.

In this past week, I have already seen the positive effect of Green's summit on my decision-making.  On Tuesday I tested my knee with a nearly three hour Double Green run that (predictably) resulted in a little aggravation the last half hour of the run.  On Wednesday, after yet another trip to the top, I was still feeling a little residual soreness in the knee towards the end of the morning's summit run, so I decided to forget about running in the evening so that I could be sure to run Green pain-free the next morning (which I did).  In the past, I am almost sure that I would've gone for the Wednesday evening run and likely either forced a day off today or at the least not been able to complete such a fulfilling mountain run.

Third, I find this kind of training run to be tirelessly enjoyable and inspiring.  Maybe the single most satisfying thing to me in running is having the ability to self-propel myself---quickly and efficiently---to the summit of a mountain and back down.  I love the defined goal that the top represents and I love the effort and process of making it to the top.  The fact that Boulder has such picturesque, accessible peaks in such close proximity make this an even more natural choice in my training.  The mountain itself is my inspiration.  And so is Scott.  In the Camera article from 2007, Scott suggests that maybe his efforts on Bear Peak could provide motivation for an aspiring athlete.  Well, consider me inspired.

Finally, some ground rules:

1) An "ascent" will only count if the run begins from no higher than the approximately 5600' elevation of the Chautauqua or Gregory Canyon trailheads.  However, I anticipate that the vast majority of my ascents will begin and end at my doorstep (~5300')---a value (i.e., not driving to run) that is very important to me in my daily running.

2)  An ascent must only be foot-powered and non-mechanized: running or hiking count, but no bikes and no motor-powered assists to the Realization Point or West Ridge trailheads off of Flagstaff Road.

3) I do not need to ascend every day.  I can make up "missed" days with multiple ascents in a single day or single run as long as I descend at least to the Gregory Canyon trailhead (or equivalent elevation) in between each successive summiting.  This allows for races, out-of-town trips, or other extenuating circumstances.

4) I will not risk over-use injury or the value of the inherent fun-factor.  I subscribe to the "lite" version of obsessive-compulsiveness.

5) The entire project is completely on my honor.  I'm not going to purchase and start carrying a camera for a time-stamped summit shot every day.  The completion of this project shouldn't really matter to anyone but myself, so any transgressions of veracity on my part would be simply self-defeating.

So, 21 days down and 79 days and 79 summits to go.


Unknown said...

Incredible! Thanks for sharing.

Tucker Goodrich said...

Good luck.

2 posts in one week! You're verging on logorrhoea! :)

Kevin said...

Cool idea. I had heard about Scott's ascents and have tried to run a local mountain here in new Hampshire once a week. I agree that just trying to run it reserved won't take a lot out of you, but it will give you a lot in return, both mentally and physically.

Neeraj Engineer said...

Hey Anton,
Any thoughts on running technique? There's lot of different schools of thought out there with some overlap like Chi running, Pose Method, Evolution Running, barefoot running. Do you subscribe to any one? Or does your running naturally fall into one or more of these running techniques?
thanks and good luck with the bear mountain project.

Neal Gorman said...

Sounds like fun! I am also inspired by ggbbgg128's characters of wisdom and sex links. Gosh, how thoughtful.

The Running Geographer said...

Hey Anton. Any chance you'd care to divulge the African Stew recipe? Any new quinoa recipe is much appreciated. - Nate

John Kynaston said...

What a great goal to work for.

I look forward to following your progress over the next 79days.

John Kynaston

Brandon Fuller said...

On Day 100, I will run up with a cake for you. Green frosting!

AshleyD said...

I love this project idea! Do you ever see any animals up there? Would love to know how you make that african stew and any other favorite recipes you may have. Any chance you'll be back at White River this year?
Thanks for being so inspiring!! May you continue to be injury free.

Bastian said...

Man, YOU are inspiring! Keep posting, your whole attitude to running is cool. Wish you all the best and good health, go far!

twardzik said...

nice stuff man. I love the honor idea but how cool would it be to have 100 summit photos? talk about a coffee table book waiting to happen. Get on it Krupicka!

GZ said...

Ask JV about this ... there was some guy who did Sanitas everyday for a year. Smaller hill and all but in the same vein.

Eric@URP said...

Me too! Howabout that African Stew recipe?

JenRunner said...

Really enjoying your posts. You have a very healthy outlook for a "lite" OCD kind of runner:-) Looking forward to hearing updates on your ascents challenge.

Sarah said...

Yeah, you can't describe a yummy dish like that and not divulge the recipe.

Good luck on your project. I'm glad to see that despite some set backs and injuries you haven't given up on running or ultras. I guess what everyone says is true, running does ruin your knees ;)

Anton said...

African Stew recipe goes something like this:

4 cups of vegetable stock
2 diced yams
1 onion
1 cup quinoa
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 cups chopped kale
1/4 c. peanut butter
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs tamari

saute onions and then simmer (~45min) with yams, quinoa, and chickpeas in the stock. then, mix peanut butter, lemon juice, and tamari with a little stock and add back into the main pot along with the kale. continue simmering until everything is cooked.

Unknown said...

You might not be the first to run up Green Mountain 100 days straight, but I bet you're the first one to do it in order to get yourself to run less!

Local Mind Media said...

Hi Tony,
Funny, I was just musing to myself this morning how and why I put my left sock and shoe on first.

I joined Scott E on several of his outings up Bear last winter. He's very inspiring. Early on in January he was hacking and barely shuffle-walking while I bounded up and back to him over and over. After a couple months he was the one glancing over his shoulder before gliding onward and upward away from me.

Wish I lived there now; miss those peaks!

Enjoy the climbs.

trailrunner said...

Wow! Talk about inspiring...I live near the Olympic Mt. Range, but must drive around an hour for a decent climb. However, the views are worth it...check out my blog and the photos from the top of Mt. Townsend. Would love to see some photos from Green Mountain.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Jeff Valliere said...

Great post Tony, hopefully we can meet up soon for one of those Green trips.

GZ, you are thinking of Al from New York (known to most as "the guy in the red shorts"). When I first asked him (sometime in early 2007??), he had hiked Sanitas every single day for 5 1/2 years without ever missing a day, regardless of blizzards or having the flu. He did eventually miss some days because he went to Hawaii, but he was inspired by my 2x or 3x repeats on Sanitas, so he started doing the same, so he may have "caught up" for days missed.

Jeff Valliere said...

Oh, in reference to the first post from ggbbgg128 stating:

"The Chinese people video and music video chat sweetheart net - fires a pistol - the sentiment color website - sentiment color network - adult website - dream factory adult video and music - spicy younger sister chatroom - av female superior - Jin Ping Mei free movie - pornography video - video to make friends the video Xiu - Japan US young girl - mainland beautiful young girl - autodyne Taiwan autodyne - video to chat the video and music to chat - the beautiful woman to break off the hole - obscene younger sister to break off hole - video spicy younger sister - 18sex - Japan a piece of - hot beautiful woman - spicy younger sister - video and music video - chatroom - spicy younger sister video - 18 to limit - the video beautiful woman - video spicy younger sister - to hit the artillery - self-consolation set of - sentiment color to like - the female student consoling oneself - A night of sentiment - Taiwan color snares of love - fellatio - adult video and music chats - the adult color snares of love - naked sentiment color chatroom - video net to love chatroom - spicy younger sister video Xiu - "

How does this relate to running Green Mountain? I know Tony does not wear much, but....

Daniel Harris-McCoy said...

I recently found your blog and am enjoying it. It's helped me gain a different perspective on running.

Also, I was inspired to try the African stew. It tasted really, really good, is obviously nutritious, and will be on our regular rotation of recipes in the future.

I found I had to add maybe an extra cup or two of stock/water, FYI.

Michael Alfred said...

Does a sweet mission like this really require an explanation?

Keep em coming. I'm always disappointed when I log in to Google Reader and "Riding with the Wind" isn't bold and ready to read.

Pablo Rosas said...

Thanks for treating us with 2 posts in a short time. Enjoy those runs. I right now can only run 2 miles at a time before risking inflamation. I'll take what I can, and slowly run more... Just like you, but from a very different level. Also, I'm in Florida, my "mountains" are bridges : )
I still love it.

gon4run said...


The OCD is a handy "tool" to have when considering the miles/hours/commitment needed to train for ultras. Without it, training takes a sense of being "work" and a forced effort. With OCD, you just keep doing whatever it is you are complusive about....such as running.
Keep posting when able....your writing, as well as your running, are inspirations!

wiglebot said...

When you mentioned "African Stew" it hit me. That will be my winter cooking obsession. It can be made very healthy and has peanut butter in it. What can be better.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with the project.Nice to see you inspired by others peoples mad feats of endurance,like many of us are by yours.
There is something so pure about using your immediate surrounding as an inspiration to run,alleviating,as you point out,the need for anything other than self propelled means to the start of your runs.Everything out there is free and with care and respect will continue to inspire generations of outdoor lovers.

Unknown said...

Nice project, very interesting and innovating way to train wit your sore knee, good luck with it!

Marco Denson said...

I hope you can make it to Miwok 100k this year. I will be pacing my brother since I did not get in, but it will be cool to meet you in person. I am currently recovering from a similar injury and I found that what is helping me is to stretch and strengthen the quads and the IT band. My legs became too tight which caused an imbalance on my quads pulling the patella to the outer side of the leg and causing inflammation. There was really no injury to the knee, the inflammation and pain were just a side effect of other issues. Anyway, I hope you recover and good luck in Miwok if you make it.


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