Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Week Ending June 15

Mon - 4.5 miles (700') easy. Falls loop. Headed out late in the day for a Horsetooth summit, but just couldn't muster the energy, so bailed with a consolation loop on the lower trails.

Tues - AM: 6.5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth summit. A super casual jog in the heat of the day with an extra layer just to warm the legs a bit for the evening's track workout.
PM: 6 miles track. It was good and hot at the track this evening, so I got some strange looks warming up in pants and a jacket, but I like to get a good sweat going before doing anything intense like a track workout. Nonetheless, it always takes me the first couple of reps to really commit to doing these things. Workout was: mile, 4 x 800. Eased in on the first couple laps of the mile, then worked the second 800 a bit. For the 800s, we were working in pairs with the second runner (me) joining/pulling the first runner on his second lap before soloing his own second lap. This dynamic led to a lazy first 800, before I figured I needed to push a little harder on the first lap as the second runner: 5:30, 2:40, 2:36, 2:35, 2:35. These reps felt really, really good - totally under control with plenty in the tank to push harder had I wanted.

Weds - AM: 6.5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth summit. Good and easy.
PM: 6 miles easy. Easy out and back on the Valley trails.

Thurs - 10.5 miles (1,200') easy. Ran the Blue Sky/Indian Summer out and back with Sarah, Lee and Slush. Latched onto Sarah's uptick in pace over the last couple miles, otherwise just a nice early morning cruise.

Fri - 6 miles easy. Jogged an out and back from the Blue Sky trailhead to Shoreline/Nomad. Layered up for this one and got a solid sweat going.

Sat - 12 miles (2,000') easy. We stayed at the Montgomery Yurt up at State Forest in the Medicine Bow Mountains this weekend, which was a total blast. This trip had a dual purpose. In addition to wanting to get away somewhere remote with the family, I was also champing at the bit to get up to State Forest - now snow free up to about 10.5k' - to start scouting the Never Summer 100k race we plan on debuting next year.

Up with the sun, I followed the Yurt Trail connecting the Montgomery Pass Rd to the Ruby Jewel Rd - starting approximately 26 miles into our intended route. This is typically a winter trail intended for yurt to yurt ski tours of the park, so the realities on the ground in the summer were less than ideal. The well-defined ATV track of the designated trail soon gave way to mainly cross country travel with a hint of trail thrown in here and there through the trees. On the final clear cut before I was supposed to pop out on the Ruby Jewel Rd I totally lost the trail and ended up bushwhacking through the woods on the 9,600' contour that the trail was marked as following over the final mile or so. Once on the road I jogged up to the next trail intersection, passing the exit point of the Yurt Trail after a quarter mile, so just a little low, but good to know that the trail goes all the way through. From there, I picked up the Mtn View Trail, shortcutting through a heinous clearcut near the bottom to get back on the main park road, from whence it was a jog back to the yurt. This was a fun, if somewhat slow and frustrating morning, and an eye-opener for the kind of terrain this race is going to take in. Following the run, we hot-footed it out to Steamboat for an afternoon in the hot springs followed by the usual downer of watching England perform poorly in the World Cup.

Yurt Fun
Yurt 'trail.' XC travel will be required.
Once clearcut, these saplings are growing in thick and fast.
Sun - 10 miles (1,800') easy. More scouting, this time in the far northern section of the course under Clark Peak and the Rawah section of the Medicine Bows. The first half of this run was on well-maintained forest road, which gave way to overgrown madness on the connector 'trail' I was scouting. As is common in State Park, which has been extensively logged over the years due to heavy beetle kill, a lot of the old logging roads are now being aggressively reclaimed by vibrant saplings which have been lapping things up in the moist environment. After bushwhacking the final mile of trail/road, I finally popped back out on the eastern side of the loop from where I enjoyed a return on super skinny trail that clearly sees heavy game activity but little human passage. With the vibrant wild flowers, remote location and game-rutted trails, this whole section was very reminiscent of some of the more remote sections of the Big Horn course.
Trail coming in from the Hidden Valley Alpine section, which also takes in Kelly Lake. 
Once a trail. A half mile later and it was solid bushwhacking with no discernible evidence of a trail.  More scouting required.
Diamond Peaks, Nokhu Crags, Richthofen and Mahler on the south end of the course (north end of the Never Summers). The first 25 miles of the course route under and around the Never Summers by way of Seven Utes, Lake Agnes, Michigan Ditch and Michigan Lakes. Then up Diamond Peaks and into the Medicine Bows for some ridge running to Montgomery Pass. So good. 
Much of the course can be seen here through a clearing on the north end. The Never Summers are off in the distance, before the contour under the Medicine Bow Mountains and through alpine terrain in Hidden Valley on the left side of the frame. The low point on the course will be about 8,500' with approximately half of it run above 10,000', topping out at just below 12,000' on North Diamond Peak.
The trails, as it turns out, are not always so well defined. Heavy marking will be required in a number of sections.
Moose country.
Total: 68 miles (7,800')

A little low on the mileage again, largely due to the light weekend volume brought on by poor route finding and time constraints. But it was still a super fun weekend in a truly unique, beautiful and under-visited part of Colorado. Pete and I will be up at State Park for much of the summer figuring the best route possible for next year's Never Summer 100km. If interested, we're planning a preview/scout of the course with any and all that are interested the weekend of July 18/19. We've reserved a couple sites at the Bockman Campground for up to 12 people, but further reservations are probably required at this point if you're interested in joining.

What else? Ah, yes, Western States is less than two weeks away. I really have no idea how this year's race is going to play out. While I feel less prepared than any previous year from a pure fitness standpoint, I also have an inner confidence that I'll still be able to get the job done in a respectable time. I feel little to no pressure to perform, despite putting some fairly aggressive goals out there on the interwebs, which I believe puts me in a good mental spot. I know how to run these things, so I just need to execute on race day. That's it really - no time to be overthinking things now.

Mike and I will be driving out Wednesday evening, getting into the Tahoe area Thursday around noon. We'll need to source some kind of accommodation, likely in the Reno area, and then I'll be speaking on the Veteran's Panel that night with such luminaries of the sport as Karl Meltzer, Meghan Arbogast and Topher Gaylord. How I came to be considered a veteran, I am not quite sure, but it should be a fun evening and hopefully I have some useful nuggets to impart. Consider stopping by if you're in the area.


  1. My first solo road trip as a teenager was to State Forest. Love that place. It should make for an adventurous race. Good Luck at Western!

  2. Thanks, Todd. Yup, State Forest is a special place.