Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November Wrap-Up

The November stats:
461 miles
69h 35min
97,000' climbed

Which makes 5929 miles, 900h 19min and 1,051,800' of climbing on the year.

A discerning eye will notice that those monthly totals look just a touch deficient when compared to what has generally been my norm in 2010.  Unfortunately, this is not because of a particularly aggressive taper for this weekend's highly anticipated TNF 50 Championships, which, much to my disappointment (obviously), I won't be running.

For the past week and a half I've been nursing a strained calf muscle that resulted from running uphill in snow without sufficient traction, which in turn resulted in my first extended break from running of the entire year (I missed five days in a row last week, bringing my yearly tally of days off to 11).  While I'm back to some very light jogging now (20min this morning), I unfortunately won't be in Marin this weekend duking it out with the rest of the best trail/ultra runners in the world.

I know it foils all kinds of dream match-ups (Geoff vs. me for ultrarunner of the year, a Western States re-match between Geoff and I, a taste of Europe's best vs. North America's best, fast road marathoners vs. fast 50/100 milers, etc., etc.) and, believe me, I have been at least as interested as everyone else to see exactly how things would've shaken out this weekend with me in the mix.  Now, I'll just be watching from the cyber-sidelines like most people.  I've been focusing my training on this race so much this fall that I still can't quite believe I won't be lining up.

Whenever I get injured I first get really frustrated and generally pissed off at the injustices of life, but I eventually cool down and start to try to learn something from the situation so that maybe I can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.  I'm still not sure what exactly happened this time.  I first tweaked the calf on the evening of November 14th while completing lap two of a double-dose of Green Mountain.  I'd gotten out for an easy jog up the mountain in the morning and that evening had PRed on the first lap and headed up the second time at a more moderate intensity in order to just round out my planned two hours of running.  My feet had been slipping plenty in the fresh snow on the top half of Green Mt and on round two I felt something pull a bit in my calf on a particularly steep stretch of trail.  Of course, if I were to do it over again, I wouldn't have headed back up Green for a second lap that night--the PR effort on poor footing was probably more than enough strain on my body as it was.

When I woke up Monday morning my leg was definitely sore, but it loosened up after a mile or two of easy jogging and kept improving with each run the rest of the week, so I assumed I was in the clear.  However, on Thursday evening (after a pain-free run up Green in the morning) I set out on a typical flat, easy shakeout jog, and after waiting for a car to pass on a cross-street, I sprinted across the road and the next thing I knew I could barely run and ended up having to walk the mile or so back home.

Since then I've only done a very little easy jogging and lots of icing, ultrasound and acupuncture.  I can tell that it's coming around but certainly will in no way be ready for a hard 50 miles this coming weekend.  I'm sure I'll be back on the trails in the next 10 days or so, though, and ultimately, this couple weeks of rest/very easy running will probably benefit me for the exciting year of running I have planned in 2011.  I wish the best of luck to everyone on Saturday.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ponderous Posterior 50K

The final installment of the Front Range Fat Asses (preceded by the Boulder Basic on October 30th and the Fort Collins Chubby Cheeks on December 18th) will be the PP 50K (Ponderous Posterior or Pikes Peak, whichever you prefer)  in Colorado/Manitou Springs on January 15th.  Here is a map:

Click for a larger version: start at JT's house on 31st St (right hand side of map)
and proceed in a counter-clockwise fashion.

Here is a Terrain Map version for a little more insight into the topography of the route:

Looks to be about right at 30 miles.

And here is a MapMyRun-produced profile:

Should only be about 6k' of climbing, with a high point of nearly 9200'.
 And here is a link to the MapMyRun file that will allow you to look at satellite imagery and inspect the exact trails that we'll all be experiencing.

PP Route Description:
Starting from JT's house on 31st we will run a few minutes of pavement and snake through the Garden of the Gods via the Dakota Ridge and Bretag Trails.  We'll exit the Garden by hopping a fence for a couple premium miles of singletrack on the Navigators property before climbing quite steeply to the west for a half-mile or so to gain Rampart Range Road.

Run up RRR for ~3mi to the radio towers before turning left/down onto some singletrack and dropping into incredibly scenic Williams Canyon.  After a mile and a half or so of winding down-canyon the course will turn to the right up a drainage for ~1mi that will connect into the Waldo Canyon Loop at the top of the climb.  Turn right onto the Waldo trail and run it counter-clockwise all the way down to Highway 24 and the Waldo Trailhead.

Cross the Highway with care (there may be an informal aid station in this parking lot), crawl through the big metal gate on the other side, and run UP Longs Ranch Road for ~3mi and 2000+' to the high point of the course at ~9200'.  This is the monster climb of the run.  At the top, turn left/down through the Experimental Forest and connect into the famous Barr Trail at No Name Creek.  Run ~3mi down Barr Trail to Ruxton Ave and Manitou Springs and then turn right onto the Intemann Trail at the Iron Spring.  Follow the signs for the Intemann/Ring The Peak Trail traversing above town.  Eventually pop out onto Crystal Park Road for 1mi+ of paved uphill running and turn left back onto the Intemann Trail (nice big wooden sign marking the trailhead).

Run this for ~2mi until turning left onto a marked trail to connect into Red Rocks Open Space.  Run through Red Rocks (there will be a lot of hopefully reasonably marked junctions through here, but the general idea is to just keep heading down, towards the highway and the Open Space's very developed railhead/parking lot), recross Highway 24 and Colorado Ave on Ridge Rd, take a right onto Pikes Peak Ave and run this back east for just over a mile back to the Start/Finish at JT's house.


More details to come as the date gets closer, but this is a gathering open to all with the route having several shorter bail-out options---there's no need to complete the full ~30mi loop in order to take part in the fun.  The run will also adhere to strict Fat Ass Rules: No Fee, No Aid, No Awards, No Whining.

An 8AM start from JT's house is preferable, but again, earlier starts/shorter loops are certainly acceptable so as to facilitate an early-afternoon post-run lie-telling session back at JT's abode.  The idea is to get out for a friendly, possibly semi-competitive group run that showcases many of the endless classic trail options in the Pikes Peak region that many out-of-towners are probably not familiar with while still incorporating the super-classic lower three miles of the Barr Trail (W's, etc.) that everyone is familiar with.

A few images from the planned PP course:

The run starts with a view something shockingly similar to this.
A motley crew running up Rampart Range Road, with a big mountain behind.
A panoramic of the little-known Williams Canyon we'll drop into.
Photo: Harsha Nagaraj
Climbing up the connector btwn Williams and Waldo.
Photo: Steve Bremner.

The views of Pikes from Waldo can't be beat. Photo: Larry Dewitt.
Some goofballs on the Longs Ranch Road climb (our gracious host on the left).
Photo: Larry Dewitt
...which can get awfully steep at times. Photo: Larry Dewitt.
Everyone knows what descending Barr Trail looks like.
A view of Pikes from the Intemann Trail above Manitou Springs.
Red Rocks Canyon Open Space--the final terrain of the course.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Planning for 2011

Although there are a number of (at least semi-) goal races between now and Summer 2011, if I wanted the least-hassle route of keeping the Western States 100 as an option for next year I needed to cash in on my top-10 status from this year by registering and plunking down my $370 before the end of this week.  So I did.  

There is a good chance I'll be back at Western States in 2011 (not the least of the motivating factors being the matter that my $370 is non-refundable) despite the fact that I will almost certainly be entering another conflicting (in my mind, at least) lottery sometime soon (cough-Hardrock!-cough).

Little Giant Saddle at the top of Dives Basin. The creek at the
bottom of the picture is alternately mile 9 or mile 91 of
the Hardrock 100.  This mountain is only one of a dozen similar
such absurdities that must be scaled during the race each July.
Both inspiring and horror-inducing. Photo: Klas Eklof

While the aesthetic and ethic of the Hardrock 100's course is much more my style (unending gigantic alpine passes), the chance to re-engage with the top long-course mountain racers in the world at Western States is pretty hard to pass up. For better or worse, it seems that WS and the Ultra Trail du Mt Blanc have become the two can't-miss stops on the international 100 mile circuit if you are truly interested in racing the best in the world.

I, for one, know that virtually every time I run up Green Mt., an image very much like the one below flashes through my mind at least once:

A crazed yeti chases a diminutive mountain-slayer through the snow at Robinson Flat,
WS100 2010. Rickey follows behind, documenting the moment on video, while I'm
sure Geoff is just out of the frame somewhere. Photo: Mike Redpath.

But Western States and the Hardrock 100 are only the beginning of the lotteries I plan to enter in the next couple months.  The Miwok 100K, Wasatch 100, and UTMB all hold their lotteries this time of year too and are all options I would very much like to have remain in play for next year's racing season.

Like Hardrock, even the best are relegated to a hike on the
climbs at UTMB.  Kilian grunting his way up to La Flegere,
the final crushing ascent of the UTMB route, in 2009.
The scenery can't be beat, though.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekly Summary: Nov 8-14

Mon-AM: 14 miles (2:06) Green Mt., 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Cyn.
PM: 8 miles (1:03) Skunk Creek Loop+Kitt
Ran easy with Joe.  Got in 1.5mi barefoot.

Tue-AM: 14 miles (2:09) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn.  First snow clouds of the season were rolling in towards the end.
PM: 8 miles (1:01) Skunk Creek Loop
Legs felt surprisingly good.  Maybe because it was snowing the whole way; I was in full-on tights, gloves, hat, and jacket.  Lovely run.

Wed-AM: 14 miles (2:07) Green Mt., 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Cyn.  First real snow up there since April.  Maybe an inch or so on upper Greenman that definitely affected footing a good bit.
PM: 14 miles (2:00) Green Mt., 3000'
Up the back and down Bear Cyn.  Legs felt decently good--coming around after the long run on Saturday.  Cruised up Gregory-Ranger in 36min and spent too long on top so that I was stumbling around a bit coming back on Mesa in the dark.

Starting to fill in the cracks on upper Greenman.
Ocean of clouds from the summit of Green.

Thu-AM: 18 miles (2:51) 1.5xGreen Mt., 4700'
Met Joel (RT photographer) on top of Green and then we went down Greenman doing a lot of running back and forth for filming.  We started descending Gregory to meet the group and eventually turned around and ran back to the summit via Ranger with Geoff, Joe, Jeff, Brandon, Dave, and Nico.  Descended Bear Cyn and came back on Mesa.  There were a few inches of new snow and the peaks were all in the clouds today.  First real day of winter running this season.  Skipped the evening run to try and get back on top of my fatigue levels.

Headed up Green in the snow. Photo: Joel Wolpert.
Through the winter wonderland. Photo: Joel Wolpert.

Fri-AM: 13 miles (2:02) Green Mt., 3000'
Met Danny down at the St. Julien and then took him up Viewpoint/Flagstaff to Ranger and then descended Greenman-Gregory.  The snow was pretty slippy this morning and my legs were a bit tired, but the mountains looked incredible with all the frosted trees. Gorgeous clear day, too.

Sat-AM: 14 miles (2:06) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn.  Felt okay through the canyon but the slippery snow on the top half of the mountain sapped my energy a bit.  It's going to take a week or two to adjust to the new rhythm of winter running.

Sun-AM: 15 miles (2:12) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn. Enjoyed how the chillier weather is thinning out the crowds on the trails.  Also, a nice inversion layer covered the city in a sleepy blanket this morning.
PM: 20 miles (3:00) 2xGreen Mt., 5500'
#1: up back, down Bear Cyn. (34:46) 12:25, 15:25, 19:15, 23:40, 28:40
#2: up front, down back: (32:36) 6:30, 12:05, 14:35, 18:11, 22:10, 29:22
Great run. After an afternoon in the library I didn't get out the door until 5pm, so I took a headlamp with me and needed it by time I was half-way up Green the first time.  I was feeling pretty good but was definitely shocked to see I was 15 seconds under PR pace at my rock-check (start of flat terrain before lodge) because I certainly wasn't putting in much focus.  The snow started in earnest here, though, and although equal to PR pace at the cabin I was forced into a much more casual pace above the cabin because of the poor footing and ended up a little over a minute over PR.  Coming back on the Mesa trail my legs still felt great so I decided to hit another lap on Green and headed up Amphi-SaddleRock.  Despite stumbling around a bit in headlamp-light and not putting too much effort into it I was a surprising 7 seconds ahead of PR pace at the 1st Flatiron cut-off, the same at the 2nd overlook tree and despite the snow and poor footing still right on PR pace at the Greenman junction.  Above there, however, the snow became too slick to keep pushing and I mostly just jogged it to the top with the snowy surface acting as a governor.  On the descent down Gregory I am about 80% sure I saw a mountain lion staring at me from ~20yards off the trail.  I saw its eyes in my headlamp and after a triple-take (and with the help of the moonlight) came to the conclusion that whatever it was its head was awful big for a fox (one of which I had seen earlier on the Mesa trail).  All in all, pretty encouraging run as I think it was quite likely I would've PRed for both routes on Green in the same run if it weren't for the slick snow on the top half of the mountain right now (not to mention the dark/headlamp vision).

-Miles: 152
-Hours: 22h 37min
-Vertical: 31,200'

2010 Boulder Summits
-Green: 270
-Bear: 28
-SoBo: 6
I knew this week would be affected a bit by residual fatigue from last weekend's exceptionally long run, so I was careful to not force any kind of above-average effort or distance most days.  Life was especially busy in general this week, too (which will be the standard for the rest of the semester), so it wasn't hard to scale back the miles and intensity a bit.

This week also brought the true re-introduction of winter to the local trails, which means that there will be a frustrating couple of weeks traction-wise where it doesn't make sense to wear Microspikes but where standard running footwear isn't quite as satisfactory as it is on dry trail either.  Even so, I'm enjoying the change in seasons and the new flavor it brings to the daily running.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weekly Summary: Nov 1-7

Mon-AM: 14 miles (2:02) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn. Legs felt terrible lying in bed but not half bad out cruising around in the top-notch fall morning.
PM: 14 miles (2:02) Green Mt., 3000'
Up front and down Bear Cyn. I couldn't resist testing out an awesome new pair of NB kicks (the update to the 101, this shoe is essentially the mountain shoe I've been looking to design for the past six years), so of course I had to give them a run through my laboratory.  My legs ended up feeling good and I charged up the front in 31:10 (6:40, 12:30, 14:56, 18:30, 22:08, 28:40).  I started out putting in no effort just easing into the mountain, but by time I got to Greenman I noticed I was only a bit over PR pace so I tried to focus my effort a little more.  Even so, my mind kept wandering to this week's trip to Creede (sample bottles, sampling locations, collection protocols, etc.) so I was almost forgetting to look at my splits.  Despite my lack of focus I ended up only 20 seconds off of PR for my 2nd-fastest time ever. The last couple of switchbacks through the talus still had a slight dusting of snow, so I'm guessing it can't be much longer before that becomes permanent.  Went down Skunk Canyon and tacked on 1.5mi of barefoot down at Kitt before jogging home in the dark.  Great run.

Tue-AM: 15 miles (2:14) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down NE Ridge to Flag to EGF+1.5mi barefoot at BHS.  I'm ready for the time to change this weekend.  It was dark all the way until the Ranger cabin, so I was stumbling around a lot before that.  Legs felt good by the end of the run.
PM: 14 miles (2:00) Green Mt., 3000'
Bumped into Jeff at the trailhead so we ran together up the backside and ended up running the top half of the mountain quicker and harder than I would've alone for sure. My legs were definitely heavy. Jeff was pushing a quick pace down Bear Cyn as well, but it was all good as I needed to get back in time to make my 5:00pm class.  Tacked on a mile of barefoot down at Kitt.

Sunrise over Boulder as seen from Gregory Canyon.
North and South Arapahoe Peaks in early morning light.
Longs Peak with the purple morning glow.

Wed-AM: 14 miles (2:09) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn. Ran at 4am before driving to Creede, so this whole run was in the dark by headlamp.  Pretty cool, and kinda makes me look forward to 100 milers in the future (UTMB, Hardrock, Wasatch) that will require significant night running.

Thu-AM: 14 miles (2:00) Green Mt., 3000'
Nice easy cruise after a long night of driving. Had to hustle back for a conference call regarding the update to the MT101s.
PM: 15 miles (2:22) 2xGreen Mt., 5000'
Great run. Ran up the frontside for both laps with the first being a PR 30:44 (6:32, 12:22, 18:11) and the second being a more mellow but still satisfactory 32:52 (6:55, 13:02, 19:27).  Felt very strong all evening and just generally had one of those euphoric evening outings.

Fri-AM: 14 miles (2:08) Green Mt., 3000'
Ran really easy up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Cyn. Hips were a bit tired after yesterday's vertical binge, so I was just trying to make sure that I would be able to make it through the next day's long run.

Sat-AM: 68 miles (10:16) Ring The Peak circumnavigation, 13000'
Ran around Pikes Peak on the RTP route. Longest solo non-race run ever.

Sun-AM: 16 miles (2:46) Green-Bear-SoBo, 4800'
Got together in more awesome weather with Geoff, Jeff, Dan Brillon, Dave, Darcy, Krissy, Charles Corfield and Jason for a very casual tour of the local peaks just before a violent little storm cell blew in.  The pace was very easy all day and we had extended re-grouping at each summit, but Geoff, Jeff and I descended Fern at normal pace so as to not be tripping all over ourselves on the technical terrain and then it was just a nice jog back on Mesa to finish out the run.  I'd gotten out for a little neighborhood loop beforehand to loosen up my body from the day before but all in all things felt good today, just some to-be-expected heavy legs.  Always a pleasure running with good company.

-Miles: 198
-Hours: 30h 01min
-Vertical: 43,800'

2010 Boulder Summits
-Green: 260
-Bear: 28
-SoBo: 6

Monday, November 1, 2010

Weekly Summary: Oct 25-31 and October Totals

Mon-AM: 14 miles (2:05) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn.
PM: 8 miles (1:05) Skunk Creek Loop+2.5mi barefoot at Kitt

Tue-AM: 15 miles (2:08) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn. Light dusting of snow on top along with astonishingly powerful winds.
PM: 8 miles (1:04) Skunk Creek Loop
Still really really windy.  Reminds me of Nebraska in the Spring.

Wed-AM: 15 miles (2:09) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down NE Ridge to Flagstaff and then to the grocery store and back.  Still not feeling a lot of pep in my legs, but not feeling bad, either.  Just sort of average.
PM: 14 miles (2:03) Green Mt., 3000'
Ran up the front side in a PR 30:50 (6:33, 12:12, 14:42, 18:11, 21:47, 28:23). Descended Bear Cyn in the dark down to the Bear Mt. Drive trailhead where I ran back to the Kitt Fields along Broadway for a couple of laps before heading home.

Thu-AM: 15 miles (2:16) Green & Bear, 4200'
Easy effort up the back of Green and then finally felt warmed up heading along Bear's West Ridge. Gorgeous day and my legs felt good descending Fern Cyn.
PM: 8 miles (1:02) Skunk Creek Loop
2.5 miles barefoot at Kittredge Fields

Fri-AM: 14 miles (2:09) Green Mt., 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman and then down Greenman to Flagstaff and EGF.  Noticed an odd puff of smoke over on the north side of Flagstaff as I entered Gregory Canyon and by time I was half-way up Green it had turned into a full-on wildfire over on the summit of Anemone.  Very very smoky coming home on the Creek Path but barely anything up at the house.  Also, I felt terrible on this run.  Going so slow up Green that it felt like I should've just hiked it.

Sat-AM: 25 miles (4:05) Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon, 7200'
Ran over to Phil's house and then up Flagstaff very, very easily with a big group.  Things spread out a bit on the run up Ranger to tag Green and by time we were headed down Bear Canyon there was a solid, jovial group of myself, Dave, Jurker, Geoff, Joe, Nick, Dakota, Jeff, Ryan Cooper, Johannes Rudolph, Brendan (?) and maybe a couple of others all just cruising along very casually and enjoying the beautiful day.  Took Mesa over to Bluestem and down to the South Mesa TH before making the 3000' climb up Towhee and Shadow Canyon to the summit of SoBo.  I waited on top for everyone where we spent a long time chatting and enjoying the glorious day before bopping over and up to Bear Peak for more of the same.  Here Dave suggested that we head back over for one more summit of Green (instead of the prescribed descent of Fern Canyon and back on Mesa to the finish).  I was game as it would represent my 250th of the year. After a final re-grouping on top of Green I led Dave, Dakota, Joe, and Nick down to the NE ridge where Dave decided to rip the vintage route in spectacular fashion.  Joe, Dakota and I stuck right on his heels through the kamikaze descent, however, and it was a great way to finish out a fantastically enjoyable day in the Boulder Peaks.

Standing around at the start, scoping Nick's hot new PI Peaks. Photo Eric Lee
Getting in some "mountain jogging" behind Mr. Clark and ahead of Joe, descending SoBo Peak. Nick Pedatella ascending in the opposing direction. Photo: Eric Lee

Sun-AM: 24 miles (4:02) Guinn Mt. Ski Hut from Nederland, 5000'
Started at Geoff's house at 8500' just above Nederland with Joe, Dakota and Patrick and took singletrack trail right from his backyard up and over 10,000' Tennessee Mt, down to Eldora, and then up the Jenny Creek trail to the ski hut at 11,000' just below Rollins Pass Rd.  The last 30min or so of uphill was mostly a nearly knee-deep slog through snow, but the way back was a blast with the downhill assisting us in our trek through the white stuff.  I felt pretty crappy the first two hours, but really felt a lot better the second half of the run.  This was definitely my last high country run of the season.  I'm going to enjoy the dirt down in Boulder as much as possible before snow finds its way down there, too.

-Miles: 160
-Hours: 24h 07min
-Vertical: 31,400'

October totals  were 668 miles, 99h 37min and 128,900' climbed.

2010 Totals
-Miles: 5468
-Hours: 830h 44min
-Vertical: 954,800'
-Green: 250
-Bear: 27
-SoBo: 5

All in all a good week.  It was satisfying to hit a PR on Green on Wednesday and the Basic on Saturday was a true pleasure, but my lack of pep on Sunday was a bit of a bummer.  Even with the unpredictable energy levels I'm confident that my plane of fitness is starting to become fairly high.  After this weekend's get-together here in Boulder I'm definitely looking forward to the Fort Collins edition at the Chubby Cheeks 50K on December 18th.