Sunday, April 25, 2010

Week Ending April 25 (WS - 8 Weeks)

Mon - Noon: 8.5 miles (2,100'). Horsetooth/Audra long route. Legs got into the groove half way through. Still some fatigue from Fruita.
PM: 9.5 miles (800'). Overlook route from Soderburg.

Tues - PM: 12.5 miles (500'). 1:37. Soderburg to Lory Visitors Center, with tack on at the end. Felt good for the most part. Running at a slightly up-tempo pace seems to be less fatiguing than slower, which was the pace I thought I wanted to run. Still some heaviness in there, but getting better.

Weds - Noon: 9 miles (2,200'). Horsetooth/Audra long route.
PM: 5.5 miles at Pineridge with Dennis.

Thurs - Noon: 11 miles (2,700'). Followed the hard-flowing Spring Creek today after originally planning on getting around and doing my usual lunchtime loop. It must have rained pretty hard overnight as the creek was swollen, moving well, and calling for me to follow it to its source - and so I did. Beautiful, yet misty, spring day. Soderburg - Falls - Spring Creek - Westridge - Rock - Audra - Southridge (back up) - Rock - Soderburg - home the long way.

Signs of spring: Horsetooth Falls running strong after the rain.

Pretty much the last patch of snow on Westridge.

Deer everywhere.

PM(1): 6 miles easy on sloppy valley trails before meeting a group of 11 from the Fort Collins trail runners for a hard effort up Towers. Waited around for about 30 minutes between runs as I was last to go in the handicap.
PM(2): 7 miles (1,700'). Towers Road. It was wet and pretty sloppy out, plus I was already tired, but I ground out a good consistent effort up the hill for 34:25. Definitely didn't flat-line it, but was working.

Laura (left) was first up in the handicapped race so assumes the title "Queen of the Hill," while Amy established a female FKT at 42:13.

Friday - PM: 5 miles (800'). Falls route, super easy. Squeezed in a run during a brief window of relative nice weather between some ugly rain/snow/wind. All the drainage channels at Horsetooth were alive with water. The sound of moving water today was a real treat - the whole park takes on another dimension when it's in filtration mode. Took the time to 'smell the flowers' and enjoy.

Sat - AM: 6 miles, w/5k in 17:43. 3.5 miles hiking and a bit of running with Alistair at Horsetooth in the pm. I'm pretty sure this is the furthest he has walked in one go, so that was cool.

Sun - AM: 25 miles (7,800'). 4:34. Two times up Round Mountain and then back up for a third time to 3-mile marker for an even 25 miles & 7.5k. Solid outing at the crack of dawn with Pete, Alex and Eric. Eric and I picked up a steady effort on the first climb and I led us up there in just under 61 minutes (13:14, 13:01, 11:48, 11:47, 11:05) down relatively easy in 45 minutes. On the second climb, I could tell Eric wanted to get after it, so he led and pulled me up in 57 minutes (10:59, 12:24, 11:19, 11:55, 10:19), which is a solid effort, especially with the snow through the last mile or so. Down in 46 minutes, then up for the last three climb miles in 38 minutes (12:38, 13:09, 12:38), down in 25. Legs felt great and the run was over before I knew it. Felt like there was plenty left in tank. Good stuff.

Total: 108 miles (18,500').

So this was a good week with some faster stuff added to the usual heavy dose of vertical. By Wednesday the legs were feeling better than they did going into Fruita. Took a couple of easy days on Friday/Saturday after a hard effort on Towers Thursday, then felt great for the first outing of the year on Round, which has now officially been added into the mix. I'll be looking to run some big-mileage runs on Round and other local 8-9,000' peaks every weekend from here on in to States. Lots of quad-mashing downs, that's the ticket.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sierra's 5k

So I went into this race thinking I would comfortably dip under 17 minutes. I'm fit, I ran the first three miles of a four-mile race on Thanksgiving at 16:25, so it's about time I posted a decent (for me) 5k time on the roads. The weather had different ideas.

Before I get into a brief recap of the race, a little bit about the event itself. Firstly, I was comped in by the ever generous team - so thanks for that Simon. And secondly, this event has to be one of the biggest and best organized 5ks in Loveland/Fort Collins - which speaks volumes to the management of a race that is in just its third year. While there are certainly more competitive races in the area, I don't think there is a race for a cause that gets its message across quite as well as Sierra's race does, or raises as much money (I am sure), or is as well executed. Not only did the race committee get over 1,000 people to the start line this year and last, they also organized an army of volunteers, put on a huge post-race spread courtesy of some very generous sponsors, gave away some great raffle prizes (including a Mexican vacation), and even managed to find some surplus cash to dish out to top finishers. I've run many a 5k for a cause, but this one goes above and beyond.

The race? Well it didn't go quite as planned, but at least I got to turn the legs over a bit. The first mile was sheltered from the wind (which would have been tail) and rolled gently downhill, mile two continued outbound for a bit before a 90 degree turn to the west followed by a 90 degree turn to the north back up the hill into a fierce headwind toward the finish; and mile three was more of the same to the finish line.

I got out with the lead pack, and by the half mile Steve Folkerts had built himself a slight lead. The first mile clicked at 5:18 and by this time it looked like Steve was in command, leaving a race behind him for silver and bronze among the five or six of us in the chase pack. The crosswind and headwind zapped a good 20 seconds off my two-mile split, which clocked at 5:45, and then it was time to grind out the best of a bad situation up the hill into the wind. Being in a pack, I was able to secure some cover, but I would get frustrated at the slow lead pace and take up the pace only to be whacked in the face by the wind. This back and forth went on for most of the last mile with no-one being able to forge any kind of lead. With a quarter mile to go, I decided to let it go and muscle into the wind to see if I could create some separation. I think I got a bit, but not much. At the three-mile marker Tim Hebert eased by me and rolled in for second, while I was able to fend off the ageless Doug Bell for third, finishing in a pretty disappointing 17:43. Last 1.1 came in at 6:40. Ugh!

Gorged myself on two Chick-fil-A sandwiches, one (small) subway sandwich and two breakfast burritos after the race - guess I was hungry - and caught up with a few characters from the local running circuit. I'll be racing Steve Folkerts, among others, again next weekend at the Crazy Legs Trail 10k over varied terrain at the Devil's Backbone where I like my chances a whole lot better than I did today.

Some start and finish footage over at RunColo:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Week Ending April 18 (WS - 9 weeks)

Mon - Noon: 9.5 miles (800') easy. To Arthur's Rock TH and Overlook trail from Soderburg TH and back via valley trails.
PM: 4 miles easy at Pineridge.

Tues - Noon: 10.5 miles easy (2,000'). To top of Arthur's Rock from Soderburg via valley and rock trails, down via Howard/Mill Creek Link, then valley trails back to Soderburg. Windy as all get out.
PM - 6.5 miles (1,200') at Reservoir Ridge with FoCo Trail Running Group.

Weds - Noon: 7.5 miles (800'). To Arthur's, looping back around on Mill Creek connector.

Thurs - Noon: 6 miles easy Soderburg to Arthurs and back (500').
PM: 5.5 miles easy with FCTR at Pineridge

Fri - PM: 6 miles on Kokopelli trail at Fruita (800').

Sat - 52 miles. Spring Desert Ultra (8,000').

Sun - 4.5 miles easy (1,000') at Horsetooth. Felt some of that late race fatigue in my legs, but it dissipated as the run went on. Knees a bit sore, but everything else seemed okay.

Total: 110 miles (15,100').

A good week on balance. Came away from the Friuta race a little disappointed that I couldn't hold it together and run a stronger race through the last 10 miles, but as I suggested in my report, it was a good and necessary learning experience. Back on the train this week for continued mileage and hopefully a trip up to slightly higher elevation this weekend. Handicapped Towers time trial on Thursday at 6:00 for those interested.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spring Desert Ultra 2010

Given that the main goal for the first half of this season is to run 100 miles through some very hot canyons, I guess I couldn't have asked for anything better on the training front than what we got yesterday for the Spring Desert Ultra 50 miler. It was hot, damn hot.

Got into town around six in the evening after an uneventful but long drive from the Fort. Chatted with Chris Grauch, Harry Harcrow and Brooks Williams at the packet pick-up before heading out to Rabbit Valley campground to meet the brothers Goding, their dad Norm and friend Mark.

Bunked down in the back of the truck, I was warm and I was getting the feeling that things were only going to get warmer. At 6:30 the next morning, as the bullhorn blew, it was already a very comfortable 55 degrees. We had clear skies and it was looking like we might be in for a roasting on the benches and ridgelines of this stunningly beautiful course.

Race director Reid Delman asked for a moment of silence just before the race started in memory of Jenna Gruben who tragically died in a car accident in February. The field of 250 was silent to a person, and it was a nice moment of reflection for an unceasingly friendly and warm person who was an ambassador for the sport of trail running.

Somewhat unusually for a 25/50 mile race, the organizers offer a $100 premium to the first guy and first girl to cover the 1.3 miles to the base of the first climb. Basically a guy is standing there with a single hundred dollar bill waiting for the runners. Whoever gets it then has to navigate the rest of the course being sure not to lose the Benjamin. In previous years I haven't bothered with the premium, figuring it would be foolish to ruin my race in the first mile, but this year I'd decided that I would at least go out with the pack to feel it out.

The start, Courtesy: Duncan Callahan

Dan Goding and Chris Grauch took off from the go and they looked like they were pretty serious about picking up the cash. I stuck with them for a half mile, before deciding that the pace was just a little too hot and entirely counterproductive, so I let them go. A couple other 25-mile guys caught up to me as I was easing off, so I decided to pick up their pace, which with about a quarter mile to the money had us back on Dan and Chris' shoulders. We were now a pack of six guys racing for a hundred dollar bill. On a slight downslope before a steep little climb to the money, I decided to go for it, breaking from the pack and picking up a head of steam on the down while carrying it into the climb. Nobody came with me. Omar Martinez, I think, shouted some advice along the lines of, 'don't ruin your race.' I told him not to worry about me and snatched the cash, stuffing it deep into the pocket of my waist pack in with my salt caps and some gel packets.

Dan (middle chair) had a tough day in the sun. Bryan (left) ran a strong 8:11 while Norm (right) magically appeared at just about every aid station. Mark (foreground) had a solid run in the 25.

With that little interlude out of the way, I hunkered down for the first climb of the day and attempted to settle things down a bit in a bid to find my 50-mile pace. Problem being I was now stuck in the middle of a train of five 25-mile guys who were all moving well. I kept contact with the pack through the climb up Moore Fun trail to the ridge, where thankfully the two guys behind me darted through and took off, allowing me the chance to truly find my pace and assess things a bit. Aerobically I felt good: breathing easy and chugging along nicely. In the leg department, however, I was feeling heavy and clumsy. Fifty miles was sounding like a long way to run.

Up on the ridge, I could see that Ryan Burch and the second pack of runners were a good minute or two behind me, so I concentrated on settling in and trying to find a rhythm. On the switchbacks coming down from the ridge toward the first aid station, I could tell that Ryan was pushing to catch up to me. He had let me and others go at Salida through the first half of the race last month and he never quite caught back up to challenge for a podium. It looked like he didn't want to let that happen again in Fruita.

By the six-mile aid station, Ryan had caught up to me and we ran together for a bit, although I went straight through the aid while Ryan stopped to refuel, so I got out and headed up the second climb of the day with a slight lead in the 50-mile race. By the time we hit the river and the canyons, the trail eased up significantly on the technical front, and I was finally able to find a bit of cohesiveness to my running.

Three of the 25 milers were off the front of the race, while Ryan was settled in 10-20 meters behind me, with Dakota Jones making up the gap to run with Ryan by the time we hit aid two at 9.5 miles. I went straight through this one as I had the first and by the time we rolled into aid three at 12.5 miles, Dakota, Ryan and myself were running pretty much as a pack.

I stopped to fill up on water, as did Ryan, and Dakota shot through without stopping, opening up a 10-20 meter lead. Ryan and I ran together for the seven-mile rolling stretch to the next aid station, chatting about how it was setting up to be a scorcher and whether or not we thought Dakota was going to hold his pace, among other things. I have to say I wasn't too worried at this point, as while we were certainly moving at a good clip, there was over 30 miles of running to go. I had no zip in my legs, but I still felt like I could muscle out a solid effort.

On the long and sometimes steep climb out of the 19-mile aid, I put a bit of a gap on Ryan and figured I would have Dakota reeled in by the top. As it turned out, I probably picked up a half minute, but no more, on Dakota who still had a good 45 seconds to a minute on me by Mack Ridge. I took it easy coming down from Mack, allowing Ryan to catch back up, and then on the mile of dirt road back to the start/finish/turnaround, we watched Dakota pull in to finish his first loop in 3:21. He was out before Ryan and I got there, so he probably had 90 seconds on us as we pulled in. I pulled a handheld from my drop bag to go with the bottle I had in my waistpack, scoffed a couple of oranges and took off, maybe 30 seconds back on Ryan who transitioned quicker than me, and two to three minutes back on Dakota.

The climb back up to Mack Ridge felt much better than it did last year, however I was again surprised that I made up little to no time on Dakota by the top. Ryan dropped a half minute on the climb, and I kept the gap on Ryan through the long descent to the mile 31 aid. The aid station volunteers told me the gap was three minutes to Dakota, and I could see Ryan coming down the hill 30 or 40 seconds back. Fourth (Duncan C), fifth (Marty Walker) and sixth (Bryan Goding) were ten to fifteen minutes back at the turn, so I figured they wouldn't be a factor as long a I didn't totally implode in the sun.

Coming into the last aid station. Photo: Marco Peinado.

Marty coming into the last aid station. Photo: Marco Peinado.

The seven-mile stretch to the 38 mile aid is a long hot one with relentless rollers. Last year I only had one bottle through this stretch and ended up nursing a dribble of tepid water for most of the hour it took me to cover the ground, so I was stoked to now have the luxury of two bottles. From updates I was getting from outbound runners, it seemed like Dakota was maintaining a slightly faster pace than mine through here, and then with 12 miles to go the aid station volunteers had the gap at six minutes, then at 9 it was seven, and at the last aid station it was nine minutes. Game over. The last climb was as soul sapping as I remembered it from last year, but I felt like I may have been moving a bit better, although it was still no more than a token run.

Great record-breaking run for Dakota. Photo: Marco Peinado.

Looking pretty haggard. Photo: Marco Peinado.

Another strong 50 for Ryan. Photo: Marco Peinado.

Bryan gets it done with a smile. Photo: Marco Peinado.

Tough Day for Duncan.

Nick (2), Dakota (1), Ryan (3).

I ended up in 7:32, 17 minutes off Dakota's new course record time of 7:15, and four minutes adrift of Andy Skurka's course record from last year. Ryan was five minutes behind me in third, and Marty walker had a strong run for fourth. Bryan Goding was his normal consistent self, picking off Duncan Callahan, who had a tough day, a mile or two from the line, finishing in 8:11. Teammate Darcy Africa won the women's race in 8:39, followed by Becky (?) with Helen Cospolich - who looked to have had a tough time in the sun - third. Justin Mock's four-year-old 25-mile course record went down to Pawel Oboz who ran a minute faster for 3:04, with Chris Grauch running a strong race for second in 3:15.

Darcy Africa wins the women's 50-mile race in 8:39

So a few things to take from this race.

First, I am going to need to take the taper for Western States seriously so that I can really go in with a fresh pair of pins. My legs were tired and sluggish all day yesterday, and from the beginning I knew it was going to be a grind. I think I am going to employ a three-week taper for States, and really cut back on the mileage with two weeks to go, while also hammering out some local up and down time trials for intensity and leg strength.

Second, heat acclimation is going to be crucial. I bonked just about as hard as I did last year over the last 10-12 miles because the sun just zapped me. I was much better on fluids than I was last year, and okay on fueling, but I still withered like a delicate petal, so obviously I need to do something about that or I won't stand a chance of a strong run through the 100 degree canyons at States. As I understand it, heat acclimation is gained and lost quickly, so it's during the three-week taper that I'll really focus in on that.

Third, racing too much is detrimental to sharpness.

Anyway, another great event put on by Reid and his band of Desert Rats. And really, if you live anywhere remotely close to this one, you need to get it on the calendar for next year or some time in the not too distant future.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Colorado Ultra Season Set to Open

The Fruita weekend pretty much marks the beginning of the Colorado ultra season. I believe the 50-miler is the first ultra on the Colorado running calendar (don't quote me on that), which in concert with the fact that it's very well managed for a reasonable price and held in a jaw-droppingly beautiful location, makes it a race that I am thoroughly looking forward to.

In 2007, I had signed up for the 50 miler, but after getting lost for a good half an hour, just a mile from the turnaround, I decided to call it quits at 25 miles in a somewhat pedestrian 4 and a half hours. I skipped the 2008 rendition in favor of the Horsetooth Half Marathon here in Fort Collins (another great race), and then came back in '09 looking for a spot of redemption. While I ran a strong race last year, with the exception of a painful last few miles, I know I've got a better time in me on this course. Hopefully I can run a race that I'm happy with this year so I can finally get back to running the Fort-Collins-Running-Club's Horsetooth Half which has to be one of the best half marathons in the country (and one of the best after-parties: think lashings of free New Belgium beer and great live music).

Anyway, I posted a look at the Fruita competition for all four races over at if you feel like taking a gander. As you'll see, it's a pretty strong field this year in both the male and female 50-milers, with some interest also in the two 25-mile races.

As a side note, this will serve as the second installment in the five-race Burch vs. Clark 2010 showdown. And just as a reminder, Burch took a 40-second drubbing in the first leg in Salida last month.

As a second side note, good luck to GZ and JV who will be six or seven hundred miles downriver on Saturday taking on the Grand Canyon double crossing, aka the rim to rim to rim (R2R2R).

And then a third side note wishing Brandon, Brownie and Mike in Austin all the best in their sub-3-hour quests at Boston on Monday. My money as far as finishing times are concerned is on Mike, Brownie, then Brandon, although I'm confident they'll all duck under the 3-hour bar.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Week Ending April 11 (WS - 10 weeks)

Mon - Noon: 9 miles (2,200'). Horsetooth/Audra long route.
PM: 5.5 miles at Pineridge taking down T&H course markings. Felt great.

Tues - Noon: 9 miles (2,200'). Horsetooth/Audra long route. Wind, wind, wind. Felt like a sandstorm on exposed sections.
PM: 5.5 miles on Pineridge again. Ran hard last two miles. I suppose I'll take wind over snow, but boy was it blustery out. More hair-on-chest points for getting out twice, I guess.

Weds - Noon: 9 miles (2,200'). Horsetooth/Audra long route. Slushy after a bit of snow overnight. Beautiful out, felt great and cruised at a good clip.
PM: 5.5 miles easy at Pineridge.

Thurs - Noon: 9 miles easy (2,200'). Horsetooth/Audra long route. Went super easy with Towers TT later in the day in mind.
PM: 10.5 miles. Towers hard (1,800). 3.5 mile warm-up, followed by Towers TT.

Fri - Noon: 8.5 miles (2,100') easy. Horsetooth/Audra long route, home short way. Right achilles was hurting.
PM: 4 miles easy. A lap of Pineridge. Ran with Alex M on the back side - he actually reminded me today (4/15) that I did this run last week, so I get a few bonus miles that I forgot about. Like finding five dollars in a winter jacket that you haven't worn for six months.

Sat - AM: 20 miles (5,500'). 3:40. Met Josh, who was in Denver from Vegas, and Scott J at the Centennial TH in Boulder - a middle ground between Fort Collins, Denver and Highlands Ranch - and got out for a mellow tour of the Boulder mountain trails.

A little nip in the air to start.

None of us have much knowledge of the trails up there, so we did a lot of stopping and starting, in addition to slipping and sliding on some treacherous sections of ice on a traversing trail mid-way up Green Mtn. We started with an easy ascent of Sanitas (20:30) and then scrambled down and back around before heading south on a bunch of trails I don't remember the names of.

Sanitas does this to you. 1,300' in 1.3 miles.

Definitely some nasty sections of ice on the trail today.

The trails are packed with runners in Boulder and we bumped into a cast of characters on our way around, including a guy I had bumped into last weekend at Horsetooth - Audra's friend - then the brother of the RD for Fruita who's going to be taking pictures next weekend, and teammate Darcy Africa with her husband Bob who had hired a babysitter so they could get out for a run together - nice.

The Boulder Mountain trails are extensive and fun, but damn there's a lot of intersections and steep stuff. Don't get me wrong, I love me some gnarly climbing, but I think I prefer what Horsetooth and Lory have to offer in terms of variety and rhythm when it comes to day-in, day-out running. I guess the ice didn't help today. As Scott pointed out on his blog, we never really got much of a rhythm going with all the looking at maps and dealing with ice, but it was certainly fun to be out enjoying some good conversation and a patch-worked long run.

Sun - AM: 12 miles (1,600') at Bobcat Ridge with Eric. I always enjoy running Bobcat because the trails are so nice and the climb on Ginny is at a perfect uphill cruise grade. Took a detour to the top of the Powerline climb to scout out the Longs route a bit and then took it easy coming down.

A goal for this summer is to run to the top of Longs (second snow-capped peak to right of closer peaks) from my house via dirt. That's gonna involve some fence hopping. This shot is from the gate at end of the Power Trail at Bobcat Ridge, and the road in the foreground is one of a few private ones that I'll have to negotiate to get out to Longs.

Rest of day: Taxes (ugh). Maybe a run if I find the time.

Total: 107.5 (20,000').

Good to get a harder effort in there this week, and hopefully in the weeks following. I'll probably load the front end next week, and then take it easy Thursday and Friday in preparation for Fruita, which is setting up to be a pretty good race competition-wise. I'd be surprised if Andy Skurka's CR doesn't go down, but really I'm just looking forward to getting out on the beautiful course and mixing it up with Ryan B, Duncan C, Nick P, Dakota Jones and company. I'll probably do a pre-race look at the field over at later in the week.

Andy Henshaw, who narrowly beat me at Salida the other weekend, had a very solid run out in California at the American River 50 on Saturday. He told me after the race in Salida that he was shooting for a 5:50, and honestly I didn't think he had much of a shot, but he got pretty close - running 5:56. And just so we're clear on what a time like that takes: he ran a 2:45 marathon on the bike paths, followed by a 3:10 24 miler on rolling trails. Oh yeah, and he beat Olympic hopeful Max King convincingly. I know he trained hard for this bad boy, posting some ridiculous pavement long runs of 30-40 miles at 6:30-6:40 pace, so I've got to tip my hat to the guy for the discipline, but not my cup of tea, that's for sure.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Towers Spring Time Trial

Realizing that I need to start working a few hills, rather than jog up them comfortably as is my typical training habit, I put out the call to the Fort Collins Trail Running Group to see if I could get any takers for a hard effort up Towers Road this evening. Eight showed up at the Soderburg trailhead ready to blow the cobwebs off a winter of lazy miles.

Horsetooth and Towers off in the distance beyond the reservoir. Towers starts at Rez level.

Towers is probably Fort Collins' number one proving ground when it comes to climbing and it's a favorite among bikers and runners alike. As far as hill climbs go, it's about as pure as it gets: very little technicality to it, no hopping over rocks, no twisting and turning, just a steady three-mile, 1,800' grind on a dirt service road to a bunch of telecommunications towers, with a .45 mile connector trail from the parking lot to the climb. All told, the FKT route is 3.4 miles and 1,800 feet of hurt.

So last time out in September, Eric Bergman reset Steve Folkerts' FKT (30:36) to a hair over 30 minutes at 30:15, with me 10 seconds back in 30:25, so obviously the goal today was to duck under the elusive 30-minute barrier.

We devised something of a handicap based on people's best guesses or previous best times up the hill, and Jennifer, Kate and J.Z. set out first, followed by Chris (+6 mins), Alex (+8 mins), Kyle (+10 mins), Pete (+13 mins) and myself (+17 mins). There were also some mountain bikers who had set out a few minutes before us, which was good as chasing down bikes going uphill is a favorite sport of mine.

Once Pete set off, I jogged around a bit and then gave myself a rolling start. I hit Towers in a comfortable 2:49 (2:40 last time), then set about getting my head down for the climb ahead. The two faster bikes had a couple of minutes start on me, and they were the first target. I hit the Stout trail in 8:43, which surprised me a bit, because I felt like I was moving pretty well, but had somehow lost 13 seconds on last year (8:30). I wasn't going to throw in the towel just yet though as I also had a halfway split at Herrington to comp from. I figured that if I was still off, I would take the foot off and take it easy from there.

Heading up towards Loggers, I passed the mountain bikers, and while I was working hard I felt like I was also moving well. Through the 'S' turn past Loggers, I continued to hammer to see if I could get a decent split for Herrington, which I hit in 16:25, a full 20 seconds faster than my PR split. Back in the game. I hammered the flats from Herrington and readied up for the steepest pitch of Towers about two miles in, passing Jennifer on the way.

Coming up on Mill Creek, I caught sight of Chris, Alex and Kyle, and also saw that Pete was passing them. By Mill Creek I was past Chris, Alex and Kyle and looking to chase down Pete who had 20 meters on me with a half mile to go. By the top of the final grunt, I passed Kate as we hit patches of snow and ice, and just before the turn into the clearing I got a step on Pete who was working hard despite his pre-run claim that he wasn't going to push. J.Z. was already done and stood at the turn cheering us in.

I told myself that I wouldn't look at my watch past Herrington, but as I made the final turn, I took a quick peek to see if I had a shot at going under 30. Seeing 29:33 on the clock, I pushed out whatever it was that I had left through the clearing, slapping the finish-line building in a new FKT of 29:52, just barely holding off a replay of my lunch. Pete came rolling in a few seconds after me in a new PR of 33:53, followed soon after by everyone else.

We'll be repeating this one in two weeks and then every fortnight thereafter, using previous times as handicaps for a little racing action near the top. Good stuff.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Week Ending April 4 (WS - 11 weeks)

A little more action from Antelope Island. At the 25k turn.

Alistair running his own race

Mon - AM: 16.5 miles easy (2,000'). 2:30. With PI-S teammate Josh Brimhall at Bootleg Canyon (Henderson).
PM: 6.5 miles (1,000') easy up a canyon near Redrock Canyon.

Up yonder... a wash where the trail dead ended. I followed the wash for a while, but tired of it and turned around to retrace my steps back to the car.
Name the burger.
Best burgers in the West. A mouth full for sure.

Tues - AM: 10 miles easy at Cottonwood Valley in Redrock Natural Area. Ended up running with a guy called Peter after being laughed at for setting cairns to make sure I wouldn't get lost. No trail maps available anywhere so I was just making sure, despite the general openness of the area and presumed ease of navigation. Mileage is a total guess based on time out.

Black Velvet Canyon is a favorite for trad rock climbers. Peter was positively salivating as he was describing the various routes up the face.

Back at the trailhead

PM: 4.5 miles progression on the treadmill.

Weds - AM: 12.5 miles at Cottonwood Valley. Got lost near the end of my loop, but not majorly. Had to do a bit of bushwhacking to get back to the car, but the vegetation and landscape were pretty open so it was easy to get to where I needed to be.
PM - 8 miles @ 8:00 on the TM.

Month: 488 miles (70,000')

Thurs - AM: 12.5 miles (1,800') at Redstone Canyon with Josh. Randomly bumped into, and ran with, an employee of the Boulder Running Company along the way.
PM: 4.5 miles easy on the TM.

Fri - 7.5 miles (1,200'). Despite 11 hours and 800 miles of roadtrippin' from Las Vegas to the Fort, I managed to talk Dana and Alistair into letting me indulge with an early stop-off in St. George to meet and run with Wilderness Running owner, Stacy Young, on his local trails. I continued my clumsy week by falling twice, after stumbling through Monday's run with Josh at Bootleg Canyon, but really enjoyed the opportunity to run some great trail and also keep my current running streak alive. Stacy has a sweet set-up from his front door with miles of 'Zen' slickrock-type trails and an unknown number of dirt miles in the valley below. The views of Signal Mountain from the Zen trails were fantastic and got me excited at the prospect of getting up Fort Collins' Signal Peak in the next few weeks as the higher elevations open up.

So anyway, I ran with two friends on this trip out to the desert and we have all recently purchased homes in our various locales. The common denominator being proximity to trails. I think Stacy has the closest access, with maybe a .3-mile warm up, followed closely by Josh and myself with about a half mile to our respective trailheads. Location, location, location.

800 miles and not a single meltdown.

Sat - 11 miles (2,200'). Wow, haven't felt this tired on a run in I don't know how long. The legs never kicked into gear so I was stuck on the small cog the whole way around. Went Horsetooth - Westridge - 'secret trail' - Towers - Westridge - Horsetooth - Audra - Southridge - home. I had planned some bonus mileage and vertical but kept the route direct as I was feeling so beat.
PM - 5.5 miles setting up T&H course with Alex M. at Pineridge.

Sun - AM: 5 miles on the Pineridge T&H course to make sure markings were still okay. Last race in the 09/10 series, so five months off for me. Decent turnout (20 runners) given it was Easter. My neighbor Amy showed everyone how it was done, running the fastest time of the day, beating Felix by two one-hundredths of a second.

Katie P and her very large dog, Griffin.
Club president Paul Patterson sets off in this handicapped race. If you look closely at the left cone, you'll see that Griffin mistook it for a tree trunk!
Ten-time Leadville finisher Jonathan Zeif sets off. All photos: Felix Wong

PM: 12 miles easy (2,700'). Service drive to bench - Falls - Spring Creek - Soderburg - Horsetooth - Westridge loop via Towers/secret trail - Horsetooth - Audra - Southridge back up to Horsetooth intersection and down via Horsetooth. Home the long way. Heading out to Towers on Westridge, I bumped into a couple of runners and their dog who was laying in a patch of snow. Concerned that the dog might be dehydrated (which she wasn't - just likes snow), I stopped to chat. Turns out the runners were from out of town (Boulder and Ouray) and had checked out this here bloggy for some trail beta. Turns out the girl's name is Audra, which is also the name of a connector trail at Horsetooth that I ply on a regular basis, and the pair were off to get a picture of Audra and Audra. Always great to see runners out enjoying the park, especially those from out of town.

Total: 116 miles (11,900')

Another solid week with some great variety and runs in three different states. Got to love that. I put in 488 miles in March, which is a few short of the mileage I ran last May before Bighorn, and a number I hope to eclipse in May of this year. Currently at five straight 100-mile weeks, and I was definitely feeling it at times this week. The run on Saturday was pure torture, but then Sunday I felt great, and so it goes. Right and left Achilles have been giving me a bit of grief, but more of a simmer than a full-on inferno. Will look to run in the 100-mile range again in the week upcoming and then take a down week leading up to Fruita.