Monday, March 26, 2012

Week Ending March 25

Mon - Noon: 8 miles (2,100') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Soderberg - Rock - Audra - Southridge - Rock - Soderberg. Took ages to warm up after Sunday's 37-mile effort, but felt reasonably smooth after a few miles.
PM: 3 miles (600') easy. Bench loop. All I had time for. 

Tues - AM: 10 miles intervals. Cemetery workout with Jane's group. Warming up, I felt totally flat so decided on a tempo effort for the workout, leaving Mike and Chris to do the heavy lifting by themselves. Workout was: mile, 3x800, mile, 2 mile. I decided to run the broken 1.5 mile (3x800) straight through without the usual 20 second jog between the 800s, as I wasn't trying to achieve any kind of turnover results. Splits: 5:40, 8:30 (2:50, 51, 49), 5:36, 11:29.
PM: 8.5 miles (2,500') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Soderberg - Rock - Horsetooth summit - Audra - Southridge - Rock - Soderberg.

Weds - Noon: 12 miles (3,000') easy. Jogged down to Soderberg, then sauntered up Towers (now fully clear of snow and ice), over the top on the Secret Trail and out for a quick summit of Horsetooth via Westridge. Back on Audra and Southridge, with some additional jogging in the neighborhood on the way home.

Thurs - AM: 10.5 miles (1,200') easy with Sarah. Conversational most of the way, with a slight uptick over the last few miles. Beautiful orange and blue daybreak over Coyote Ridge.
PM: 10 miles (2,100') Towers time trial. 29:33. There are only so many times a year that I can find the motivation to go hurt on Towers for 30 minutes straight, so I was a little disappointed not to register a PR tonight. Nonetheless, I was only seven seconds off, so I guess I should be happy with that. Judging by my splits (and how I felt working up the hill), it is pretty evident that I started pooping out about half way up.

Splits (from memory) versus PR Jan 2010 splits: Towers - 2:41 (2:45), Stout - 8:24 (8:43), Herrington 16:21 (16:43), Top 29:33 (29:26).

I'm not sure if it was a help or a hindrance, but there were five of us lined up in the sub-30 group (Hinterberg, Erb, Malmberg, Burch and me). Hinterberg and Malmberg went out at a pretty furious pace, which I had no interest in covering. By the Towers turn (.45), they were about 10 seconds up on me and Brian, with Burch close behind. As soon as we hit the road, it was evident that Mike had gone out too hard, and I went by him at the Stout intersection; Sam was maintaining his gap though and I could hear breathing behind (Brian). The pace felt slow, but I was working hard, so knew that I'd be in and around PR pace; however, by the top of the middle grunt I just didn't have much left to give. Brian went by me some time before the Mill Creek grunt and I just didn't have the mental fortitude to suck it up and get on his train. The last two pitches were pretty pathetic and I just did what I could to get to the top without puking. I learned again that the best way to attack this hill (and most in general) is to start conservatively and ratchet the pace/effort as you go. Starting with five other guys in a quasi-race situation didn't help with that pacing strategy. I think my next PR will come from an organic effort on a low-stress individual start where I can crank from Herrington.

Fri - PM: 8.5 miles (2,500') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Soderberg - Rock - Horsetooth summit - Audra - Southridge - Rock - Soderberg. Bumped into Mike on the way up to the Horsetooth summit. He'd come over from the Soderberg side, running Towers just 40 seconds slower than he did last night at the time trial.

Sat - AM: 33 miles (7,500'). Green Ridge, Spruce Mtn, Storm Mtn big ass loop with Mike.

Sun - AM: 22 miles steady with Mike and Sarah. The classic shark's tooth route on the bike paths/Overland Trail. Helped pace Sarah on a split 15 mile marathon pace run. After a 2 mile warm-up, we went 4 miles @ Sarah's MP (6:40, 39, 38, 37), 2 miles easy, 5 miles @ MP (6:45, 33, 45, 39, 40), 2 miles easy, 6 miles @ MP (6:43, 43, 45, 45, 48, 38). Sarah held on pretty well and dug deep to hold pace over the last six miles; confident that she'll go 2:55 or better at the Colorado Marathon in May. All things considered, I actually felt pretty good too, and it was nice to be getting some turnover after slogging for hours on Saturday.   

Total: 125.5 miles (21,400') 

Pretty good week for the most part. I was a bit disappointed to come up short on my Towers PR attempt on Thursday, but that will come. Went easy on the first half of the week to give myself time to recover from the 37-mile effort last Sunday, then hit a hard effort on Towers and cranked out two bigger efforts Saturday and Sunday for a 55-mile, two-run weekend. Not too shabby. Saturday was a fun outing and a long, time-on-feet kind of effort, and then Sunday was a good cruise that felt pretty effortless considering the 33 miles and big vert the day before.

This week tells me that I may not be that sharp right now on the speed side of the equation, but that things look good on the stamina/endurance front: No major slogging through the tail end of long runs, just strong and ready for the next one. And I guess that's where I want things as I start getting into the meat of the 50/100-mile season starting next month with Lake Sonoma. Nonetheless, I'll keep working on tweaking that top-end speed, if for no other reason than I enjoy moving a little faster every now and then.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Green Ridge, Spruce & Storm Mtns

Palisade Mountain and Longs/Meeker from Green Ridge.
One of these days I'm going to run to the top of Longs Peak from my house via an all-dirt route (that I'm still trying to figure out). Longs is easily the most prominent peak on our western skyline here in Fort Collins, and viewable from many a different angle from nearly every peak in the area with a southern or westerly view. Today was a scouting day ... a long scouting day.

Picking back up where I left off a couple of weeks ago, it was back out in search of ranked Larimer County peaks. Mine and Mike's plan for Saturday was to launch from Bobcat Ridge, heading in a northwesterly direction for Green Ridge (7,402') by way of the Valley and Powerline trails, before jumping the gate at the end of Powerline and quickly dropping into National Forest land on a forest road that dropped us under what we thought was the Green Ridge summit. Wrong. Again. Instead we were on a sub-summit to the south between Green Ridge and another sub-summit further down the ridge (Mahoney Knob, 7,141') that we had previously mistaken for Green Ridge on an expedition over the top of Milner Mtn in January.

Green Ridge summit hump.

Deadfall on Green Ridge's western slope. Mike descending in foreground.
The error was quickly remedied with a drop over mega deadfall to the saddle a couple of hundred  feet below, and a quick bop up to the true summit which offered nice views to the west (third time's a charm).

Spruce Mountain (7,781') became our fourth summit of the morning after we once again misidentified our intended target by pulling down a knob (7,722') to the north of Spruce. That, again, was quickly remedied, and after tagging at least five rock piles that looked like they could lay equal claim to the high point, we were off in search of FR 153. The route off Spruce, like Green Ridge, was littered with deadfall, laying like oversized matchsticks in the positions that the massive 2000 Bobcat wildfire had left them.

Spruce Mountain from Green Ridge.
Our morning's route took us through much of the burn zone from the fire, which started in Cedar Park at the southern base of Storm Mountain and spread east over Green Ridge into what is now Bobcat Ridge natural area and almost over the Masonville Road into Masonville. There are pockets of regrowth, including a nice wood of young spruce near the Spruce Mountain summit, but the ridges and gulleys remain largely barren. Needless to say, any off-trail work becomes incredibly slow in these areas.

Forest Road 153 is a popular one among hunters, jeepers and their ilk. For the jeepers, it offers challenging terrain, killer views and a length of burly mountain road that stretches from Buckhorn Canyon all the way west to the top of Storm Mountain. For the hunters this area between Storm Mountain and Green Ridge is loaded with game. From our first steps in Bobcat as day was breaking, we saw a huge herd of Elk and then continued to see them in large numbers all the way out to Spruce.

Anyway, once we were on FR 153, it was a slow icy grind of a run to the Storm Mountain summit (9,918'). The road was at times thick with drifted snow, at times icy, at times muddy and then also at times as dry as a bone. The road runs a rolling connecting ridge between Spruce and Storm, before dropping into and up Bear Gulch. All this area north of Cedar Park and east of Spruce was spared in the 2000 fire and remains heavily forested. All told it was about eight miles and 3,000 feet of accumulated gain on FR 153 to the summit.
Storm Mountain from Spruce.
A view of Storm before we cut across the southern slope.
Once out of Bear Gulch, FR 153 wraps around the southern flank of Storm before climbing sharply up the southwest slopes to gain the western summit ridge. Galuchie Park, an open space sitting 1,000 feet below the Storm summit, and Foggy Park on the western summit ridge, both looked like fantastic camping spots. The summit itself was okay, with good views between the trees, but they were far superior descending back through the Foggy Park meadow, which offered expansive views to the west of The Divide and Mummy Range. 

Foggy Park, about 500 feet below the summit (off to the right).
We picked a route to the south to return on, which involved a steep drop back down to the FR128/153 intersection at Galuchie Park, and then a right down perhaps the most deliciously graded road in the county. We dropped about 1,700 feet over four miles on FR 128 (Storm Mountain Road) passing through a couple of gulleys that had been totally devastated by the 2000 fire, before cutting east into the Cedar Park neighborhood, which sits nestled in the valley between Spruce Mountain to the north and Palisade Mountain to the south.

True to form, we got a little turned around in here, ending up at the end of a private road that we'd had to jump a gate to get on. Not wanting to back track, and with really no other option, we approached the property there and got the attention of the home owners who were conveniently out staining their deck. They were more than happy to offer navigational advice, while also giving us free rein to follow their private ATV tracks down to a small dry creek bed that feeds into the bigger Cedar Creek in Jug Gulch. They were also kind enough to offer a much needed water refill.

We found the road that was supposed to take us over Jug Gulch, naturally taking it the wrong way for a half mile before figuring out our error and retracing and climbing northeast out of Jug Creek, dropping down to Cedar Creek and finally hoofing it up Green Ridge back into the Bobcat natural area.

It was a long morning, which would have been considerably shorter with better navigation, but a very worthy loop nonetheless. All told, we covered 33 miles with about 7k' of climbing. This one minus the off-trail summits will be good to revisit a couple of times before June to take advantage of the long descents in the build-up to Western States.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Week Ending March 18

Mon - Noon: 7 miles (1,900') easy Horsetooth summit. Beautiful day + spring break + noon outing = major crowds on trail. But I still couldn't resist a trip to the top. Up Rock, down Audra/Southridge. I always feel like a bit of jerk running up popular trails when there are tons of people to pass - almost like I'm trying to show off or something - but wadda ya gonna do? Just another day at the office. Serious spring fever today. 
PM: 8.5 miles (800'). Out and back from Bluesky TH to Arthurs TH. Legs feel remarkably good post Salida.

Tues - AM: 9 miles intervals. Jane's group for a cemetery session. On tap was: mile, 2x800, mile, 2x800, 1.5 mile. All on 2-3 min recovery. Post Salida, my legs have been feeling next to no soreness, but a full-on effort would certainly have been a poor decision for this morning. Went at a hard tempo effort with Chris M instead and held up pretty well once the legs were in gear: 5:27, 2:40, 2:38, 5:21, 2:41, 2:39, 8:12 (5:27, 2:45). 2.5 mile w-u, .75 mile c-d, then champagne and cake to celebrate John Lonsdale's retirement from 34 years of running Foot of the Rockies, Fort Collins' first running specialty store.
PM: 7 miles (1,900') easy Horsetooth summit. Up Rock, down Audra/Southridge. Another gorgeous day. Nice and easy.

Weds - AM: 8.5 miles (1,800') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Sawmill - Loggers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg - home long. Nice and casual with neighbor Mike. Shorts and T.
PM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls loop super easy.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles (1,400') hills steady. Five mile O&B on Centennial. Came back in a steady ~34 to leave something in the tank for Saturday. Mike, Slush, Celeste and the wunderdog.
PM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls loop. 

Fri - Noon: 8 miles (2,100') easy Horsetooth summit. Up Southridge/Audra, down Wathan - Spring Creek - Soderberg. Nice easy cruise on a breezy, but warm day. Park packed again.

Sat - 10 miles race. Sharin' O' the Green 5k (16:46) with 6 mile w-u, 1 mile c-d.

Sun - 37 miles (7,500') long. Had a really fun morning running a lap around the reservoir - the long way - with Burch, Pedatella, Tiernan and Kosick, in addition to meeting up with other friends along the way. After a week of really warm weather, the trails were essentially clear, which made the outing all the better. We went easy to steady the whole way around with a few lingering stops on top of Horsetooth and Arthurs, in addition to the Lory Visitors Center. The morning was capped off with a great spread of food and beverages at the May's house.

Route went: Platte Dr - 38e - Bluesky - Towers - Stout - Spring Creek - Falls - H'tooth TH - Soderberg - Southridge - Audra - H'tooth summit - Westridge - Mill Creek - Howard - Westridge - Arthurs summit - Westridge - Timber - Lodgepole Drive - Centennial - Reservoir Ridge - Foothills Trail - Pineridge - Platte Dr.  
Heading around the south end of the Reservoir in the early miles. Horsetooth to the left of Zeke's head. Kosick, Tiernan, Clark, Pedatella. Pic: Burch
Top Horsetooth: Clark, Pedatella, Burch, Tiernan, Kosick. Pic: Erskine

All four of us will be at WS100 this summer. Pedatella on pacing duties and the other three racing. Tiernan and Burch are strong right now. Prediction: all three in the top 10. Image 2: Under Horsetooth on Westridge. Pics: Erskine
Top Arthur's: Clark, Stevenson, Tiernan, Slush, Kosick, Lynn, The Erskine. Pic: Burch
From top Arthurs. About half way around the Reservoir on the west side. Pic: Burch

Refueling at the Lory Visitors Center. Pic: Erskine
Finish line. Pic: Alex May
Fail. Pic: Erskine

Total: 115 miles (19,000')

We were treated to an early taste of spring this past week, which made for a great week for running, capped off with a full morning on some of my favorite trails on Sunday. Next FCTR outing is the Spring Round Up on April 7: 30 miles, 10,000 feet, one summit (of Round Mountain). Mark your calendars. 

Sharin' Of the Green 5k

One of the weirder things I found out when I moved to the United States for the first time was that Americans love to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I was in Ann Arbor Michigan for my first St. Paddy's day and I honestly had no idea that people celebrated this holiday with such vigor. Green beer, green rivers, green everything. Really? I've come to accept it, but as a Brit still refuse to embrace it. Nonetheless, I did find myself toeing the line at the annual St. Patrick's Day race here in Fort Collins. The race has grown to become one of the bigger ones in town, with a capacity crowd of 2,800 runners this year.
Chatting with Steve Cathcart, owner of the local Runenrs Roost, pre-race. All pics: Kevin Hurd
The course was a bit confused with 8 or 9 hard 90 degree turns, one of the them just 20 meters from the start, and a slightly long inbound turn thanks to the large numbers of runners as the course doubled back on itself, but I'm sure they'll tweak all that for next year to accommodate the numbers they apparently did not anticipate for this year. Course hiccups aside, the event appeared to be a huge success, and how could a race that finishes at one of Fort Collins' premier breweries (Odell's) not be, especially when they're serving up free beer?

Race start outside ODell's Brewing.
So anyway, after a 6 mile warm-up with Sarah, it was a sprint for the first corner. With that negotiated without incident it was time to settle in. I found a spot in fifth, ten meters or so behind Steve Folkerts, and tried to get working. The legs felt decent, but for whatever reason I didn't feel particularly zippy. Seeing my first mile split at 5:20, I knew this wasn't going to be the low-16-minute race I thought I was in shape for. I got lazy on the second mile, which popped at 5:26, before getting passed by Mark Saunders who I had beaten in January at the Frost Giant 5k in Estes Park. That woke me up a bit and I fought to pass Mark back, before trying to get to work reeling in Steve. But I just didn't have a whole lot to give. Having put a decent gap on Mark, I figured I was good for fifth, but ended up getting kicked down right on the line, which I crossed in 16:46.  A PR, but a disappointing one. After crossing I turned around and boom, there was training partner Mike just five seconds behind; a solid PR for him. Sarah came in a minute later for an altitude PR of 18:30.

With .1 to go
Rule number one of running and racing is that there is no bitching when you score a PR, so I'll end this report here. Finished up the morning walking in the parade with the family on the Fort Collins Running Club 'float.' The crowds were deep with kids begging for candy and necklaces, which we had in abundance, so it was fun to watch Alistair distribute in as fair and measured a manner as he thought appropriate. Fort Collins is breeding. I can't believe how many kids there were in the crowds.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Week Ending March 11

Mon - 5 miles (1,000') easy. A quick and early loop on the Falls trail before scooting off to Boulder for the Pearl gathering.

Tues - early AM: 6.5 miles (~1,400') stumbling. After a vigorous tequila-fueled session on the dance floor, the unwise decision was made to attempt a summit of Green at 1:00 in the morning. It was, after all, splendidly nice out. I won't name names, but a good percentage of the Pearl team and a journo who runs long distances were in attendance for this most foolhardy of missions, which ultimately ended in defeat at the top of Saddle Rock. A lack of lights, traction and oomph were to blame; Ranger/Flagstaff was the escape route.
AM: 10 miles (~1,500') hungover. Three hours of sleep and a nasty hangover for the jaunt out on the Mesa Trail towards NCAR for PI photos and other misc marketing stuff. Only the journo failed to get out of bed. Grabbed a few more miles here and there throughout the morning. 

Weds: 7.5 miles (1,800'). Falls - Spring Creek - Wathan - Rock - Soderberg. Easy cruise, beautiful afternoon. 

Thurs - AM: 11 miles (1,200') progression. Out and back on Bluesky/Indian Summer with Pete, Slush, Mike, Sarah, Celeste, Ziggy, Mary and Steph. Controlled tempo over last four from Rim Rock.
PM: 7 miles (1,700') Towers. Nice evening out with a beautiful full orange moon to the east on the way back down. Went up in a very controlled 34:05. 

Fri - AM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls loop early. 

Sat - AM: 26 miles (4,000') race. Salida Marathon.

Sun - AM: 15.5 miles easy. Super early at Pineridge and on the bike paths with Sarah, Nicole Callan & Nikole Johns. Fun to run with a group of competitive and talented women.    
PM: 5 miles (1,500') hiking. To the top of Horsetooth with the family, Sarah, Ryan and their boys. Carrying Stella up and down the mountain was, I think, the toughest workout of the weekend. Beat.
Top H'tooth with the family.
Total: 98.5 miles (13,600')

Didn't quite get the run in that I was looking for on Sunday, but I was still happy with how good my legs felt. Salida, as always, was a great little getaway. I love the town, the peaks and the overall camaraderie of the race. And the family always enjoys the area too. Just bummed we didn't find the time for a soak in the hot springs on the way home.

Looking forward to this upcoming weekend. I'm excited to race a road 5k on Saturday and then banging out 35 miles of Horseooth Reservoir circumnavigation (the long way) on Sunday, before hanging out and kicking back with friends and family over beers and burgers. The weather forecast is looking great, the trails are essentially clear of snow and ice, and spring is most assuredly in the air. Train leaves at 8:00.

Had a ton of fun at the Pearl gathering last week. The company has some really exciting stuff going on right now. The new 2013 'Ultra' apparel line really blew me away, and while we don't have samples to put on our feet just yet, the new 2013 shoe concept looks like it could be a game changer. More on that as it evolves.

Exciting stuff going on with other sponsors too. After listening closely to Robert from First Endurance, I realized that I still have a ton of work to do in figuring out the whole fueling thing. Fortunately, Robert has looked at all the research and produced some of the best products on the market. He is firmly of the opinion that the best fueling strategy for endurance events is a liquid one, so I ran my race at Salida this weekend fueled entirely on EFS drink. Energy was great, and not even close to any cramp issues (EFS has by far the highest concentration of electrolytes of any sports drink on the market), but damn it's sweet. I need to play with my dilution levels to cut the sweetness and then supplement calories with Liquid Shot, I think. More experimentation required.

Anyway, for the liquid diet, the optimal caloric dilution rate according to the research is 8%. This means 36 oz of EFS drink per hour (which seems unlikely), or the same amount of water/diluted EFS supplemented with the necessary EFS Liquid Shot to hit 300 calories per hour. Not enough fluids/too many calories and stomach issues come into play. Simply put, I need to consume more fluids in races, as I don't even come close to getting that volume in per hour. And that will take a focused effort if I want to avoid the coke-for-the-last-40-miles routine.

The other exciting presentation was from Dale at Highgear who was showing off the company's entry into the GPS market. The XT7's GPS capabilities include mileage accumulation, real time pacing, upload and download of waypoints, 8 hour battery life and probably a bunch of other stuff I haven't figured out yet. All this comes in addition to a barometric altimeter for accurate vert readings all packaged in a sleek watch. While I would never shell out $250 for a watch, I understand that this represents very good value.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Salida Marathon

This was my fourth straight year running the Salida Marathon, a race that offers up a nice early season test of fitness on a challenging higher altitude course that typically takes place on trails and roads that are largely clear of snow. The course had been tweaked again this year to include a new six-mile section of snaking singletrack on the front end. This replaced a fair portion of the 'Ute Trail,' a long railroad-graded dirt road that on the original course took runners out to the ghost town of Turret. As it turned out we would only run a few miles on the Ute Trail on the new course, with the road out to Turret having been cut out altogether.

While the course changes they've made at Salida over the past two years are all good improvements in terms of the running experience, I'm a fan of picking a course and sticking to it so times and performances are comparable through the years. There has been a really good history of runners at Salida in the six or seven years that they've been running it, so it has always been a good yardstick to measure yourself against. If I had to guess, I'd say the new course is six or seven minutes slower than the original and three to four slower than last year's. Not that anyone really cares.  

So the race got out much the same as it has in years past, with Timmy Parr assuming the lead behind a handful of half marathoners through an uptempo early couple of miles. My legs felt astoundingly flat and plain old heavy almost as soon as we started running. This of course is never a good sign, so I chose to sit back off the lead to see if I could warm things up a bit before we started the big climb to the course's high point at 9,000 feet.

Tucking into the Tenderfoot Mountain switchbacks, I could see there were three half marathoners, Timmy, Jason Koop and two others I didn't recognize ahead of me, with Rob Kosick - who had beaten me twice on the same day in Estes Park in January - close behind. I ducked in behind Jason and followed his heels up the initial singletrack climb, passing second and third along the way. At the first aid I went around Jason and set about chasing down Timmy who had built a bit of a lead by the time we started a rolling traverse on tight singletrack across a number of gullies.

Early in the climb, with a couple of the Collegiate Peaks in the rear view.
The traverse took us over to the Ute Trail and back on to the old course. I saw Timmy run through the aid station there and timed his lead at 40 seconds. On the road my legs still felt terrible, as if I'd had a really heavy dose of vertical the day before, so I resigned myself to grinding away at what felt like a pitifully poor pace. On the four miles up to the 9,000 foot turnaround, I watched Timmy extend his lead by half a minute or so, before suddenly seeing it shrink to next to nothing in less than a mile. We hit the 12.5 mile turnaround essentially together, chatted for a bit, and then I assumed the lead as we descended the mile or so to the 181/173 jeep track turn.

The shaded sections of the jeep track were about average in terms of snow coverage, but it was decently packed so the running was pretty good for the most part. My legs opened up a bit through the rolling terrain and after a few miles of occasional shoulder checking on sections that afforded a bit of a view, I figured that I had a lock on the race. I put the run into steady mode and started thinking about Sunday's run.

At mile 20, it was a left turn off the rocky jeep trail and on to the new section of super-twisty singletrack from last year. My legs were starting to feel a little tired, but at the same time as open as they had all day. On the last big climb of the course, with perhaps five miles to go, I checked down the switchbacks and all of a sudden saw Jason. Ughh. He can't have been much more than a minute behind, which of course meant that I needed to refocus and push.

I was glad to find the required gear and be able to move quickly enough over the remaining miles to chalk my first win in Salida. I've always enjoyed this tough little season opener, so couldn't be happier to finally get my name up there on the winners' board. I ended up running about five minutes slower than last year, which is probably an equal effort given the course changes. I definitely felt more in control this weekend, as I remember struggling last year through the closing miles when trying to hold off Dan Vega for second.

I'll take that as a positive and see what two upcoming test-pieces have in store over the next few weeks. First up on Saturday is a speed test, with 5k of road racing at the St Paddy's Day run where I'm really hoping to register something in the low 16s, and then in April it will be the Lake Sonoma 50 miler, which promises to be quite the race.

And finally, for those keeping score at home, my margin of victory over Brownie this year was a full 75 minutes. So despite giving him a generous 45-minute handicap, I again walked away with free beer. Last year it took Brownie 10 months to make good on his debt, but this year there was an immediate post-race pay off with a nice growler of Irish Red from the famed Moonlight Pizza. Next year he gets 75 minutes.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Week Ending March 4

Monday - Noon: 7.5 miles (1,800') easy. Beautiful day out, which was hugely refreshing after the wind lashing we received last week. Jogged up to top of Horsetooth and spent some time lingering on the summit checking out the lay of the land, putting names to a few more peaks that until Sunday's peakbagging outing were nameless to me (Buckhorn, Leila and Ethel). Conditions up top are starting to get pretty sketchy on the ice front, but definitely seen it worse. Up Rock trail, down Audra/Southridge, home long. 
PM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Quick Falls loop before Dana took off for work.

Tues - AM: 10.5 miles intervals.
Cemetery workout with Jane's group: mile, 3x800 (on 20 sec rest), mile, 3x800 (on 20 sec rest), mile. Good conditions this morning, high 20s and no wind, so really tried to keep the effort honest the whole way around. First mile felt super smooth, last mile and second set of 800s I had to stay pretty focused. 5:17, (2:40, 2:38, 2:41), 5:14, (2:40, 2:41, 2:41), 5:15.
PM: 10.5 miles (1,500') easy. Milner loop, plus Redstone one mile O@B and neighborhood add-ons.

Weds - Noon: 9 miles (2,100') easy. Horsetooth summit (up Rock, down Audra/Southridge) then some meandering in the neighborhood. Wind was back and angry. Warm out though. 
PM: 6 miles (1,100') easy. Milner loop.

January: 330 miles (45,200')
February: 445 miles (58,500')
2012 Ranked Summits: 
Horsetooth (9)
Blue Mountain (Sth)
Green Mountain (7,335)
7,098' (Poll Mtn range)
Goat Hill
Reservoir Ridge
7,260 (Ziggy Point)
8,415 (Leila Peak)
Mount Ethel
Buckhorn Mountain
5,740' (1)
5,740' (2)

Thurs - AM: 15 miles (1,700') hill tempo. 5:30 start for this one, but it was light enough to see by 6:00. The longer days are starting to get me excited for spring, even if it looks like we're going to get an extended wind season this year. So anyway, the usual HTH5MO@B run for this morning, with Steph, Sarah, Celeste, Zig, Pete and Mike in attendance. Pretty big headwind coming out of the north, northwest for the way out, meaning a slower than usual warm-up, but potential for a zippy return. After a low-7 split following Mike's heels over the big north dam hill on the way back, I felt like a sub-30 might be on, so put it into 10k mode for the net uphill second and third miles to see if I could get there without having to beat myself up too badly on the descent over the last mile and a half. Needing just 5:40s for the last two miles, I took them just moderately hard and still came home in a big one-minute, but wind-aided, PR (7:05, 6:00, 5:36, 5:26, 5:03 = 29:11). After Tuesday's workout, which was noticeably better than a similar, but shorter, workout from the end of January, I'm starting to feel like I'm building some really good fitness here. Snagged a few on the front and back ends for a 15-mile morning. Good stuff.
PM: 6.5 miles easy with FCTR folk at Pineridge.

Friday - Noon: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls long. Tired
PM: 5.5 miles (800') easy with Pete on the 'A' trail. Picked up 5,773' or 'Aggie Peak' along the way.

Saturday - AM: 18.5 miles (2,800') peakbaggery
. Decided against heading up to Laramie for the rescheduled Trudge (which sounded epic), choosing to check out the Red Mountain Open Space with Mike instead. Goal was three peaks and some quality trail miles, with a pop into Wyoming on the way; reality as usual with these peakbagging missions was a little different. The wind was absolutely howling and given the general lack of cover out in the Red Mountain area, that made for a fairly unpleasant start to the morning.
Northern slope of Table Mountain
By the time we'd bushwhacked our way to the top of Table Mountain (7,074') -- by way of the cactus-infested northern shoulder -- we were both a little wind-shocked. After almost being blown off our feet (quite literally) on the western cap of the summit bluff I pulled the plug on our intended descent route, deciding that the semi-technical nature of the down climb was too sketchy in the freezing cold and powerful swirling winds. Tail between legs, we headed off the gentler west side of Table and back to the trailhead (into a fierce headwind). The plan now was to salvage the day by knocking out a long run on the awesome network of trails in Redstone and Soapstone; wind be damned. However, we were seduced back on peakbagging track after rounding the north side of Table Mtn on the Bent Rock trail and seeing 7,178 to the southwest. Picking up a mix of ranch and game tracks for what we were pretty sure was our intended target, we made our way southwest. An hour later and we were on top enjoying the slightly less violent winds and awesome westerly and easterly views.     
 On top of a windy 7,178
Table Mtn from 7,178'
Southeast from 7,178' towards 6,740'

Retracing our steps from the summit, we cut back north, picking up a more westerly ranch track from the one we had been on heading south, which we hoped would get us close to 7,380' up on the Wyoming border. The approach to 7,380' came a little quicker than we had expected and essentially stopped us in our tracks. The southerly wall was imposing and there was no obvious way up. All of a sudden time was a factor and after scouting around a bit, we decided that we were going to have to come back and get this bad boy another day so we followed the drainage east out of the canyon and back towards Table Mountain and the Red Mountain trail network. The Boxelder drainage offered up some fine scrambling, awesome red rock cuts, the remnants of a lion's feast and all-around atypical northern Colorado scenery - all of which made up for the disappointment of failing on summit three. 

Northern side of the impressive Boxelder Creek.
Roaming around in lower Boxelder Creek; Table Mtn to the east.
There was a lot of game activity in Boxelder Canyon; this guy was dinner and pretty much picked clean.
Once out of Boxelder, we navigated back to the Red Mountain trails. While finishing up the Bent Rock loop we realized that the peak we had been looking at was in fact the wrong one as we had been one drainage too far to the south, so it would have been a wasted effort anyway had we taken a crack at. All in all, a fun morning in a unique corner of Colorado. There is plenty of unfinished peak-grabbing business up there, so I'll be back soon. 

Sunday - AM: 8.5 miles easy
. Setting up 12k T&H course. Beautiful morning out.
Noon: 2 miles easy with Alistair to Horsetooth Falls and back. Mud-fest hike/run plus some fun exploring down the creek from the falls.
PM: 7 miles (1,900') Horsetooth summit easy. Dropped Alistair back home and then took off for the peak. Killer weather, warm and sunny, with nary a breath of wind; so refreshing after the beating we've been taking from the wind all week. Peak was about as crowded as I've seen it (outside of an FCTR time trial).

Total: 116.5 miles (11,800')

Felt an odd mix of tired and strong this week. Failed to get the bigger weekend runs in that I was hoping for, but that's alright because I think it will leave me feeling a little fresher for the Salida Marathon next weekend, which I'm really looking forward to. Good people, good competition, fun town.