Tues - Noon: 6 miles easy (500') valley trails.
PM - 6.5 miles easy (1,200') at Reservoir Ridge with the trail running group. Must have been close to 20 of us out. Much to everyone's delight, there was a big bull snake at the trailhead.
Weds - Noon: 14 miles (1,700'). Blue Sky/Indian Summer, out and back from home. Went out in full heat gear and suffered through a very sweaty, sluggish run. If I'd been swimming, I think I would have drowned. Felt super slow and super heavy. I don't much like running Blue Sky during the summer months as the snakes tend to congregate down in the valley there. Saw two today and enjoyed my first snake scream of the year when I was caught off-guard by a big grass snake that darted out right in front of me on Indian Summer. Less than a mile later I was stopped in my tracks by a small rattler (fourth on the season). Saw that one early enough that it didn't cause me to jump out of my skin. Snakes everywhere recently.
Thurs - AM: 7 miles (1,800'). Up Towers easy (38:40), then some BS'n at the top with Dan, Pete, Kyle and Victoria. Down at tempo. Easier first mile on tender hamstrings, then harder as I warmed into the descent. Never really run the descent hard, so the 18:31 (5:26 ave) serves as a baseline for any future efforts. According to Jonathan Vigh's website, Dan Turk has the descent FKT at 18:14.
PM: 6.5 miles easy. Social run w/FCTR at Pineridge. More than 20 turned out again.
Heading out to Pineridge. Pete (black) in full Western States combat gear. Alex (foreground) checking on his troops.
Fri - 6 miles easy on the valley trails.
Sat - 8.5 miles (1,900') on the Horsetooth race course to scope conditions for Sunday's race. Trail was in decent shape despite incessant rain/drizzle. Got home to find the race directors had decided to postpone the event. Really disappointing as this was going to be one of my last hard efforts before States. Ah well, maybe I saved myself an injury. Still planning on letting loose on Towers this Thursday to see if I can dip into 28:xx land.
Sun - 21 miles (5,100'). 3:20. I was pretty disappointed that the race organizers decided to cancel the Horsetooth Trail Half (I'm still trying to figure out why exactly) as I wanted to get a good hard effort in today. Rather than recreate a race effort over the course, I headed out and ran half the course (which was in great shape) and then continued on to run a fairly standard Horsetooth/Lory long-run route. Not exactly heat-acclimation conditions given that it was in the 50s and raining, but I layered up nonetheless in a bid to get a bit of a sweat going with a slightly harder effort than I would normally impart on a run of this type.
Anyway, went: Home - Horsetooth - Westridge - Mill Creek - Howard - Timber - Well Gulch - Overlook - Arthurs - Valley - Sawmill - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderburg - home.
Total: 75 miles (12,200')
Pretty much where I wanted to be for the week in terms of mileage and such like. The run today was just so-so. Still feel like my hamstring is not quite right, but it is definitely better than it was last weekend. With a very easy two weeks upcoming, I feel like it will be good to go come race time.
It seems that the conventional wisdom among a lot of the guys I'll be running against at States is to go with a two-week taper, which has had me second guessing the easier week this week, but really I am more than comfortable with the longer taper as I just don't see the benefit of extra work this close to the race. Based on previous taper experiences, I know that my body takes a full three weeks to really start feeling good after a heavy training block. Typically, I feel kind of flat after that second week of taper and then really good through the last week, so I'm not going to mess with what has worked for me in the past.
With a last longer run with significant elevation gain in the books, I think I'm over the mental aspect of over-thinking the taper. Right now, I am 100 percent focused on rest and maintenance. I'll probably go hard up (and down) Towers on Thursday and then just run by feel for the remainder.
We take off for California either Friday or Saturday and will take our time road-tripping out there. Ideally, I would like to leave Friday to get to Squaw late Saturday so I can get a 14-15 mile run on the course on Sunday. The week before will be about having fun with the family, scoping out some logistical stuff at aid stations while scouting a few more sections of the course.
Lots of chitter-chatter about the 'Big Four' on the interwebs. I count at least 20 guys (beyond the favorites) who'll probably be thinking top ten, with probably ten of those thinking they've got a shot of going top three. Honestly, I'll be very surprised if more than two of the favorites make the top five.
Here are some names to consider (in no particular order):
Leigh Schmitt (M7, 17:49)
Tsuyoshi Kaburaki (M2, 16:52)
Andy Henshaw (2nd American River)
Zach Miller (M6, 17:34)
Phil Kochik (2nd Ice Age)
Rod Bien (3rd Miwok)
Josh Brimhall (not really a 100-mile specialist, but means business this year)
Erik Skaden (M8, 18:22)
Ian Sharman (24th at Comrades (6:02, beating Wardian) and only other Brit besides myself in the race)
Lon Freeman (2nd Mountain Masochist)
Nick Lewis (2nd Leadville '09)
Troy Howard (2nd Hardrock '09, 3rd fastest time ever)
Andy Jones Wilkins (M10, 18:46)
Mark Lantz (M9, 18:45)
Chikara Omine (2nd Bandera '10)
Victor Ballesteros (11th last year, 18:50)
Gary Robbins (HURT Champ, taking down Roes' CR in the process)
Oz Pearlman (he'll be the fastest magician in the field)
Michael Arnstein (2nd JFK '09)
Rob Evans (recently profiled by Scott Dunlap as a "Faster Master")
And others, I am sure.