Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Mountain Run of 2010...

This morning, Scott, jLu and I got out for first tracks to the summit of Green Mountain via Gregory-Ranger.  Yesterday produced the first legitimate (~6-8" or so in town) snowfall of the year, and after slogging through the wintry beauty to reach the summit I was instantly reminded on the downhill just why running in the winter is so fun: it often feels like pure play.  The powdery, cushiony surface spares the joints, the absolute muffled stillness is calming, and crystalline dressing on everything inspires.  It was a fantastic 296th (350th lifetime) and final trip to Green's summit for the year.

Our goal.
Scott powering his way up Gregory Canyon...
...and eventually, the summit rock of Green.
#296: tomorrow I start over.
Scott floating the descent through Gregory Canyon.
Nothing beats some properly-garnished Flatirons.
I suppose a few closing thoughts on the year are in order.  First, the numbers:

January:     488mi, 71h 50min,   91,500',   31 Greens
February:   501mi, 75h 33min,   101,300', 36 Greens
March:        547mi, 81h 08min,   94,700',   31 Greens
April:          673mi, 101h 19min, 120,400', 35 Greens
May:            522mi, 73h 18min,   76,100',   21 Greens
June:           674mi, 102h 09min, 113,900', 22 Greens
July:            501mi, 74h 23min,   77,700',   11 Greens
August:       459mi, 88h 06min,   66,400',   12 Greens
September: 435mi, 66h 35min,   85,300',   17 Greens
October:      668mi, 99h 37min,   128,900', 34 Greens
November:  461mi, 69h 35min,   97,000',   28 Greens
December:  356mi, 53h, 01min,  56,300',   18 Greens

2010:  6285mi,   956h 34min,   1,108,100'  296 Greens
                                                                       29 Bears
                                                                         6 SoBos

That's an average of right at 120.5 miles per week and 17.2 miles, 2h37min and 3036' vertical per day.

2010 was, by almost any measure, easily my best year of running ever.  Statistically, physically and spiritually I think, after 15 years, I finally arrived at a volume/combination of miles and vertical that has allowed me to sustainably maximize running's positive bearing on each of those areas.  I know for sure that in 2010 I was racing at my highest-ever level, and due to my notable consistency (only 16 days off the entire year, most of those in December) my enjoyment of running was at its highest-ever level, too.

Best Run(s)
There were a lot.  It is natural that a race is typically a "best run" because I have typically consciously set up several months of training in order to feel really, really good for that particular run.  As such, Western States and White River were certainly stand-outs.  In both I felt remarkably effortless (save the last 20 miles of WS) and both runs were further enhanced by sharing them with good friends.

A very close honorable mention was my solo 68 mile/10:16 run around Pikes Peak in early November.  While I didn't feel particularly physically proficient during that run (I was in the midst of a period of very heavy training preparing for the TNF50 Championships), it was mentally and physically much less of an ordeal than I had expected.  Plus, it was a loop that I had thought about doing on and off for very many years.

Another honorable mention was an 8hr outing in the Indian Peaks with Scottie in July.  We covered a ton of ground, saw many incredible sights, tread many miles of sublime singletrack, spent a whole lot of time above treeline and generally took advantage of our abilities to travel all day on foot with few physical consequences.  It was a blast.

Worst Run(s)
Without a doubt, my DNF at Leadville, obviously.  I've never run myself into the ground before, and let me tell you, it's not a whole lot of fun.  I learned much, though.  While I've had plenty of other crappy runs this year, none of them were so bad as to result in me passing out, so Leadville takes the cake.

A close second would be the profoundly mundane evening jog on November 18th where I strained my calf for good and did the damage that ultimately kept me out of the TNF50 showdown at the beginning of this month.  It was the only real injury disappointment of the year for me, and it came at a supremely inopportune time.

Well, that's enough.  Let me leave you, though, with a most aptly-titled track by one of my favorite bands, The Walkmen.  I've been listening to these guys for almost two years now, but ever since I saw them at the Fox Theatre here in Boulder in October they've been nearly non-stop on my music-playing device.  Much to the chagrin of my roommates, I imagine.  But, I think the passion evident in this song should at least partly explain why.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Running Times Winter Video

About a week ago, Running Times posted a "welcome-to-Winter" video that Joel Wolpert filmed here in Boulder back in mid-December.  Joel was in town for a few days and was extremely lucky to be here for the first (and almost only) little snowfall of the season.  I am very impressed with the nice 10min clip that Joel was able to put together with nothing more than a stedi-cam and a tripod to assist him and his camera.  Great work, Joel!  The video basically showcases my daily training grounds and is a rare instance of making them look almost as good as reality.

Joel also makes a concerted effort to include local bands in his videos, so I was happy to suggest Paper Bird and The Lumineers.  Jocelyn and I have seen Paper Bird open for other acts (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) and one of Jocelyn's law school friends was kind enough to invite us to this house party where these clips of The Lumineers were recorded.  Good stuff all around, and I think Joel did an excellent job of meshing the music with the running.

I know I'm about a week late with posting this, but I was back in Nebraska visiting my folks for the Christmas holiday this past week, and, well, the Interwebs still aren't very abundant where I grew up.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Weekly Summary: Dec 6-12

Mon-AM: 14 miles (2:04) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down NE Ridge-1st Flatiron-Skunk Canyon
PM: 9 miles (1:13) Creek Path
Ran easy with Scottie in the dark. Had to be kinda careful with the calf.

Tue-AM: 14 miles (2:14) Green Mt. 3000'
Up back and down 1st Flatiron with Joe and Scott. Ran down to 13th St to meet them and then ran to the grocery store at the end to pick up a couple of things. Descended the front of Green with a CU Norwegian Nordic skier who was a bit taken aback at our precipitous route.
PM: 8 miles (1:04) Skunk Creek+3mi barefoot at Kitt
Legs felt surprisingly good.

Wed-AM: 14 miles (2:05) Green Mt. 3500'
Ran with Joe up Gregory-Long Cyn-West Ridge and then down to the 1st Flatiron/Saddle Rock and then half-way back up Flagstaff on Crown Rocks before descending to EGF and running home.  Gloriously beautiful day but my legs felt pretty terrible.
PM: 11 miles (1:38) Green Mt. 2700'
Up front and down Ranger-Flagstaff Rd all in the dark.  Didn't get out until late and then my pace/effort was pretty severely limited by a dying headlamp battery on both the way up and the way down.  As such, I decided to bail onto the road for the remainder of the descent because my light was so weak.

Thu-AM: 14 miles (2:11) Green Mt. 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman and down 1st Flatiron to Saddle Rock+1.5mi barefoot at Kitt.  Legs tired from yesterday's double Green.
PM: 8 miles (1:02) Skunk Creek+3mi barefoot at Kitt
Legs felt great slicing through the dark.

Fri-AM: 14 miles (2:03) Green Mt. 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn.  Another beautiful day, if a bit windy.

Sat-AM: 24 miles (3:51) Green-Bear-Green, 7000'
Got out for a solo lap around Green and Bear feeling good, but on the summit of Bear I decided the inch of fresh snow was going to make Fern too much of a pain, so I ran back to Chat via the West Ridge and Bear Canyon.  However, I was planning on meeting Dave, Geoff and Bob at Chat for another easy lap on Green, so through Bear Canyon and back on Mesa I injected some legitimate pace into my legs for the first time since I strained the calf (in order to make up for the longer route) and it ended up being a really bad idea.  I felt my calf tighten ever so slightly as we stood around in the parking lot and then on the very easy effort up and down Green it only got worse.  By the end of the run I knew I'd really messed it up good again, so I limped back to the house and spent a lot of the rest of the day icing.

Sun- zippo.  Calf wouldn't allow it.

-Miles: 130
-Hours: 19h 25min
-Vertical: 25,200'

Boulder Summits (2010)
-Green: 289
-Bear: 29
-SoBo: 6
Well, the story this week is pretty obvious.  I had the calf back to a place where jogging around on it--even up a mountain--was really no issue, but when Saturday rolled around and I inadvertently found myself actually running a decent pace for the first time in a long while, well, my calf protested fairly spectacularly.  It has me pretty bummed, and I'm only a small bit confident that I haven't set it back completely to square one.  All week I guess I'd kind of convinced myself that I was basically healthy, but that was a false confidence on account of the fact that I'd never pushed hard on the calf even the slightest bit all week.

If this doesn't completely rule out the Chubbilooski for me this coming weekend up in Fort Collins, at the very least it means I won't be doing anything but socially jogging around on the Horsetooth terrain.  Certainly nothing even remotely approaching a race-type effort or pace, unfortunately.  At this point I just want to get back to consistent running as quickly and easily as possible.  I'm still kicking myself over the bonehead move of running hard on it for even the shortest of stretches on Saturday.

While I went over 6000 miles on the year some time this week, what I thought to be an exceedingly modest goal at the beginning of the month--300 Green summits on the year--is beginning to look extremely touch-and-go, especially with a trip home to Nebraska planned before the end of the year.