Sunday, October 31, 2010

Week Ending October 31

Mon - Noon: 6 miles (1,300') easy. Horsetooth - Wathen - Spring Creek - Soderberg. Some tree carnage on Wathen from the strong winds. Nice cruise.
PM: 4.5 miles (700') easy. Falls loop.

Tues - Noon 4.5 miles (700') easy. Falls loop.
PM: 8.5 miles track. 4 x 1 mile on lap rest: 5:30, 5:29, 5:23, 5:24. 1 mile w-u, 2.5 mile c-d. Wind had mainly died down by the time we got started which made things a little more relaxed than I was expecting. Great group of like-paced guys for this one: Dakota Jones, Chris Aronson, Frank Antonelli and David Rubush. We had planned on 5:30s and pretty much nailed them as a pack the whole way. First two were very smooth, although a little hot through the first 800 on the first interval (2:35/36). Dakota picked up the third lap on the third interval and pulled the group through an up-tempo second 800, and the final interval was evenly paced with a faster last quarter. Really starting to enjoy the faster work, and mildly encouraged with the apparent progress.

Weds - 8 miles (1,600') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Sawmill - Loggers - Herrington, Spring Creek, Soderberg - home. Stopped halfway around for a lengthy chat with John Binder who was out with a crew doing some trail maintenance on Stout between Towers and Loggers. He's been running the Horsetooth trails ever since the county bought the land from the Soderberg family in 1982. Most of the trails currently in existence are old Soderberg logging trails, as they logged it pretty heavily when they owned it, milling the lumber up on top of Mill Creek. Great to get some history from a guy who is just as passionate about the trails and land up on Horsetooth as I am. Apparently there is a whole crew of 'old timers' down in the valley neighborhoods who run the trails from Soderberg, although not at lunchtime because I never see them. John was delighted to hear about the burgeoning FoCo trail running community, and was highly congratulatory of my last year of running, which apparently he was well aware of - ah, celebrity at last. Almost didn't run because of the heavy wind - glad I did.

Thurs - AM: 9.5 miles (1,800'). Ran down to Soderberg to meet Pete, Victoria and two of her friends for an early morning jaunt up Towers. Got up at 5:00am after a late night so felt like I was in a dream for most of the run, but the orange hues from the sunrise to the east made up for the general unpleasantness of running while half asleep. A steady 36:20 up the hill and an easy jog back down. Grabbed a ride home from Pete.

Pre-sunrise orange from top Towers
PM: 6.5 miles easy @ Pineridge with the mötley FCTR crüe. Beers, good conversation and food afterward.

Friday - 6 miles easy (500'). Valley trails.

Saturday - 22 miles (7,200'). Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon.

Sunrise from home as I was heading out to Boulder.
Sunday - AM: 3 miles easy with Don and Alex as a warm down after their 5k races at the Spooktacular. Alistair also raced in the kids' sprint. Back to Alex and Ean's afterward for food, coffee and good times.
8 miles (1,600') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Sawmill - Loggers - Herrington, Spring Creek, Soderberg - home.

Jan: 252 miles (33,700')
Feb: 189 miles (33,500')
March: 488 miles (70,000')
April: 482.5 miles (72,700')
May: 439 miles (79,500')
June: 334 miles (49,000')
July: 279.5 miles (64,400')
August: 302.5 miles (50,100')
September: 237.5 miles (53,200')
October: 301.5 miles (44,600')

2010: 3,305 miles (550,700')
Avg: 330.5 miles (55,070')

Total: 86.5 miles (15,400')

Looks like I'll be running New Orleans as the goal marathon in February, so that's where the bulk of the next three months of running will be focused. With that in mind, this week was exactly the kind of week I need to be avoiding. Running up mountains is fun, but not great for building speed or, more importantly, recovering from hard workouts to get ready for upcoming workouts. I think moderate hill days on the trails are fine as easy runs, because really it's more about being outside than it is about 'training,' but big multi-thousand vert days need to be kept to a minimum as they tend to take a chunk out of you, especially if you're not conditioned for them, which I'm really not right now. So discipline is the key here. We'll see how that goes.

Good mile repeat workout at the track on Tuesday with a bunch of guys who are all within range of each other pace-wise, so hopefully we can keep that going through the fall/winter. Seemed to push out the 5:30s with relative ease, which is definitely a good sign.

Signed up for a half marathon on Saturday. I'm figuring that if I can go 1:17 or better there, then I should be able to whip myself into the kind of shape that I want to be in for February.

Towers handicapped time trial this Thursday at 6:00pm from the Soderberg trailhead. As always, anyone and everyone is welcome and encouraged to come out and put the hurt on the hill. Sunday is the Fort Collins Running Club's Tortoise & Hare 5k from Warren Park, and once again all are welcome and encouraged to run.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon (ish)

Indian Peaks from Near Green Summit. Photo: Eric Lee.
A severe snow dump stymied my plans to run the Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon last year. This year, by contrast, we had clear skies and a day in the 70s for the annual end-of-season cruise of the Boulder peaks. Given that half the trail running world has moved to the Front Range in the last year or two, this year's get together featured a field of runners that most race directors would have been licking their chops at.

While there wasn't any racing going on, there was certainly some good conversation, plentiful killer peaks, and expansive mountain views. I'm still not sold on the Boulder trails, but I guess they were okay too.

In addition to a slew of cheery Boulder Trail Runners, the group this morning included Scott Jurek (in a vintage WS half-cut top), Geoff Roes, Tony Krupicka, Dave Mackey, Joe Grant, Dakota Jones, Jeff Valliere, Darcy Africa, and Helen Cospolich. Off the top of my head, that list is good for 8 Western States wins, 5 Wasatch wins, 3 Leadville wins, 2 Badwater wins, 1 Hardrock win, 1 Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim fastest known time, 1 American 24 hour record plus a ton of other ultra wins and course records. Not your average group run then.

Scott Jurek as Scott Jurek circa 1990s.

Shoe talk: Joe G, me, J.V., Dave M. Tony K. Photos: Brandon Fuller.

Photo: Eric Lee
The proceedings started from Phil's house a few blocks east of Chautauqua with a very mellow trip up Flagstaff, before heading to Green for a short repose on top to soak in the awesome views on what was warming up to be a fantastically beautiful morning. From there it was down Green-Bear to the end of Mesa (I think) to some historic-looking stone building that marked the turn back west for the climb up Shadow Canyon to South Boulder Peak.

Coming down Green. Photo: Eric Lee
As with most ascents up the front side of the Boulder peaks, Shadow is a steep, steep bruiser. However, the South Boulder summit was a worthy reward. With not a lick of wind in the air and a warm sun, the group - which at this point included Tony, Dave, Geoff, Joe, Scott, Johannes Rudolph, Dakota, Ryan Cooper and a couple of others whose names I didn't catch - lingered on South Boulder Peak for quite some time.

Once we got moving again, it was just a short bop down and up to Bear Peak, before the decision was made to round out the morning with a second summit of Green. I was a bit wobbly coming down the front of Green, so I let Tony, Dakota and Joe take off, content to close out the morning with an easy descent in company with Johannes. As always in Boulder, the vert racked up ridiculously quickly, with something over 7,000 feet of vertical gained in not much more than 20 miles.

From Gregory, it was back to Phil's for a fantastic luncheon spread, that would put most post-race food efforts to shame, and a couple of beers before heading back north to FoCo with Pete, Ross and Frank. Good times.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week Ending October 24

Monday - Noon: 6 miles (500') easy on valley trails.
PM: 4 miles @ Pineridge. Picked up the pace a bit coming back on the east side of the reservoir.

Tuesday - 10 miles track. 10x800 w/ 400 easy. Wanted to set a baseline for the so-called Yasso 800s. Figured I'd try to push out 2:45s to see if I can claim to be in similar marathon shape to last year's 2:43 in Dublin. First seven felt comfortable, but had to work for the last three: 2:46, 2:48, 2:43, 2:44, 2:44, 2:44, 2:44, 2:46, 2:45, 2:44 (lap easy at 1:45-2:10 between). Two mile w-u, 1 mile c-d. Encouraging to be able to comfortably knock these out early in the process. The legs are starting to respond to the faster stuff, but much work still to be done.

Wednesday - 6 miles (500') easy on valley trails.

Thurs - 8 miles (2,000'). Hard TT effort to top of Horsetooth with the FCTR group (25:34). Worked hard for a slower time than two weeks ago when I didn't really pick things up until the second half. Further evidence that an easier start and hard finish are the way to go on hill climbs. Reduced to a power hike on the really steep stuff near the top. Finished up by coming back on the Horsetooth 8-mile course.

Friday - 8 miles (1,700') easy. Falls, Spring Creek, Sawmill, Loggers, Herrington, Spring Creek, Soderberg - home.

Sat - 14 miles (3,600') easy. Out on Lookout/Signal trails scouting with Pete. Good amount of snow above 9,000'. Failed to find the 'secret trail' we were after that connects the Signal jeep road with Greer to get back down to Buckhorn/Monument Gulch. Will need to come in from Greer next time around, as I think it will be a bit more obvious from that end.

Lookout Mountain trail ~9,500'

Donner Pass ~10,200'

Signal-Lookout trail (right) with Signal jeep road off to the left ~10,300'

White Pine from high point on Signal-Lookout trail ~10,600'

Really digging the new Peaks, which I think are pretty close to being ready.

Sunday - 18 miles (2,500'). Bluesky marathon course without the Horsetooth section. Ran at a good, steady clip once warmed up. Tons of people on trail.

Total: 74 miles (10,800').

Good week. Was able to get some solid speed work in with a successful track session on Tuesday, a decent hill TT on Thursday and then a couple of enjoyable runs on the weekend.

Either going to run the Heart Center half marathon on Sunday next weekend or some fun hilly marathon type thing in Boulder on Saturday. Feel like I should be running the half marathon to get a read on current road form, but would rather run in Boulder to catch up with the trail running folk down there. May double the weekend if I can resist the urge to run hard at the Boulder shindig.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week Ending October 17

Mon - 10.5 miles easy (1,300'). Soderberg TH - Arthurs TH - Overlook trail - valley trail - Arthurs TH - Soderberg TH.

Tues - Noon: 6.5 miles easy (1,500'). Waterfall - Spring Creek - Stout - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg.
PM: 4.5 miles track. 2 mile warm up, then end of season relays with the Tuesday Night Track group: 800, 400, 200, 100. Slow again, but feeling motivated about doing the work to find some speed. 1.5 mile warm down.

Weds - AM: 11.5 miles easy (1,700'). Foothills trail from Maxwell with Fast Eddy and Young Money.
PM: 4.5 miles easy (700'). Falls loop.

Thurs - Noon: 4.5 miles easy (700'). Falls loop.
PM: 7.5 miles social at Pineridge with FCTR.

Fri - Noon: 8.5 (800'). To Redstone Canyon for a couple faster miles: 6:24, 8:00, 6:09, 6:07, back easy. Struggled again. Felt like I was working way too hard for these low-six-min miles. It was breezy, and fast miles never come easy on Redstone's rollers, but I definitely feel like I'm battling some sludge right now. Effort felt somewhere between 10k and half marathon. Ughh.

Sat - 6.5 miles easy (1,500'). Waterfall - Spring Creek - Stout - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg.

Sun - 16.5 miles (4,000'). From Buckhorn Canyon, Pete and I scoped the middle loop of the current thinking on our proposed 100k race. Still some great color on the aspen on what was a truly sensational run. From Box Prairie we went northwest on Monument Gulch to Old Flowers, then east to the trail up the north side of White Pine Mtn, tagging the summit from the saddle, before taking FR 100 back down to Box Prairie. Both Pete and I were really impressed with this unexpectedly gorgeous route.

More at Pete's joint on today's route with tons of pics.

Looking south back to Crystal Mtn (left) and Lookout Mtn (right) from Box Prairie. Our current thinking on the 100k route would start seven miles south and 3,000' below Lookout from where it would come over the top via Donner Pass (on the far right of the picture), tag both peaks and then route down to Buckhorn Canyon to the 16 mile loop we did today. It would then head back over the top (a different way via Donner) to the start/finish at Dunraven. Total climb on the route is looking like it will be in the 17k range with three peaks over 10k and a possible (but unlikely) peak at 11,200'. Either way, it's gonna be a beast.

Lookout (10,800') left, with Donner pass to the right and Signal (11,200') far right. The route runs the ridge from Donner Pass to just below Signal and cuts down to Box Prairie from there. Signal Peak is in Comanche Wilderness, which currently makes it out of bounds for an organized event such as we are proposing to the FS. Pic taken from halfway up West White Pine.


Lookout from Monument Gulch.

A view of Stormy Peaks and Comanche from Monument Gulch.

Lookout Mtn. far left through one of the many aspen groves on this incredible loop.

West White Pine summit.

Looking back to West White Pine Mtn from FR100.

Forest Road 100 descent from West White Pine.

Total: 81 miles (12,200')

The weather this week was insanely beautiful, so there was really no choice but to pick up the miles a bit more than I otherwise would have. The faster efforts on Tuesday and Thursday were short and painful. Quite clearly there is much work to be done if I hope to get even remotely close to the kind of marathon time I'm hoping to post in Feb/March, but the good news is that I feel motivated to get it done. The mountain miles were of course a pleasure.

Since Wasatch, my weekly mileage has gone 26 (6,000), 41 (8,000'), 28 (4,000'), 50 (6,000'), 81 (12,000') which is probably about as easy as I'm realistically going to take it. The leg sludge on the faster stuff this week and last week is to be expected considering I've done no focused flat speedwork in about a year, so I'm not concerned ... yet.

Horsetooth open time trial again this Thursday at 6:00pm from the upper parking lot. This will be the last Horsetooth TT before we head back to Towers, so come on out and get a workout done, and then enjoy the views from the summit as the full moon rises. Anyone and everyone welcome.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Week Ending October 10

Mon - 6.5 miles (1,600') easy. To south summit of Horsetooth. Back on Audra/Southridge.

Tues - 3.5 miles track. 1 mile w-u, 800 @ 2:40, then 2(4x300 on, 100 off) @ 54, 56, 56, 57; 53, 53, 53, 55. Haven't seen the oval in about a year, so this session was a major shock to the system. Anyway, this was just a dip of the toe to see if I've got any kind of appetite for the work I'd need to be doing to get into marathon shape. Obviously, 300 meter repeats are not something I would be focusing on, but that was the scheduled session at the Tuesday Night Track workout, so that's what I did. Got the juices flowing a bit, but the real test will be out on Redstone Canyon, a dirt road not far from my house that is the flattest consistent running surface I can get to from my house without having to drive. It's a 13 mile out and back with a gradual 700-800' climb going out, which makes it a challenge, but easily the best option I have for road training.

Weds - 6 miles super easy (500') on Valley trails. Very tight in the glutes from the track workout on Tuesday. The Valley trails are my other flat option close in. The trails are rolling, but gentle and non-technical enough to allow for a fairly consistent tempo effort in the low 6:00s. As on Redstone, I can forge a 13 mile out and back on these trails.

Thurs - 6 miles (1,800'). One mile w-u, then Horsetooth TT. 25:26. Really didn't feel like I was going that hard on this one, especially through the early sections, as I was trying not to aggravate my glutes and hamstring. The PR, therefore, was surprising. I suspect that my previous PR was soft rather than this being any indication (whatsoever) of fitness. All other recent indicators suggest a general lack of shorter-distance speed and power.

Fri - 6 miles (500') easy on Valley trails. These came today:

Ready for winter with my Atlas Race Snowshoes.

This at 10k' today (Sunday) Rob is reporting.

Sat - AM: 12 miles (1,300'). Silent Trails (10.5 mile, 71:25) with 1.5 mile warm up.
PM: 4 miles easy setting up T&H course with Alex.

Sun - PM: 6 miles easy (1,500'). Up to the Rock and back.

The southeast side of the reservoir was on fire as I was heading into town early this morning.

Total: 50 miles (6,200')

Mainly another maintenance week, but starting to add some quality in there. Thinking road marathon in February, so the build is on. I doubt I'll run much over 70-80 miles a week for this one, but I do hope to get serious about doing the requisite workouts so I can get an honest read on my marathon form. The track workout on Tuesday was a disaster, but necessary in terms of flicking my training switch from a jogging- and endurance-based mentality to a performance-based mentality.

Stacie Karle, art director at PI, took some video footage at a fall 2011 photo shoot I did with her husband Don on location halfway up Lookout Mountain. The trails featured in the clip would form part of the proposed Comanche 50mile/100k route. This area around Buckhorn Canyon is unbelievably beautiful in the fall, which makes me think a race right around this time would be awesome. Only problem with the 50 mile/100k option is that the FS has put the kaibosh on us using any wilderness area, which significantly reduces our available acreage. A 50k loop, with maybe a two-loop 100k option is now looking like the only realistic way we would be able to use the Buckhorn Canyon area. Fortunately, the 50k loop would still be awesomely scenic. Some scouting still to be done on that though.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Silent Trails 10 Mile

This time last year, there was close to a foot of snow on the ground and all roads to Wyoming were closed. At the race start at 8,500' there was reportedly two feet of snow on the ground. Not surprisingly, the race didn't happen.

What a difference a year makes. Of course there was a strong wind - we were after all in Wyoming - but the sun was out, the leaves were golden and it was just a perfect fall morning for a run.

With the help of probably 20 runners from Fort Collins, the race was near its 150-runner cap, and, as with all events organized by the High Plains Harriers, there was a good energy about the event. After a short warm up with Pete, I made the call to go shorts, T-shirt and arm panties, on what was easily the coldest morning of the year since spring.

Just part of the FoCo trail running contingent on hand in WY this morning.

From the off, I took up the lead with one other guy and then darted ahead a quarter mile in as we made the turn onto singletrack. After losing a few hundred feet quickly, the course settled into a gradual downhill, and within a mile I had gapped the rest of the field by 10 or 20 meters. Despite some lingering fatigue from who knows what, I felt like I was running a reasonably strong pace. After about 20 minutes it looked like I would be running in the lead from pillar to post so I settled into a rhythm that I thought would be good enough for the win.

About four miles into the race, the course takes you up perhaps the best-named hill in the history of trail racing. Starting at 8,300' and topping out at just under 9,000' over the course of a mile, 'Death Crotch' is quite the workout if run hard.

Thinking I had the race under control, and feeling the altitude, I decided to go easy on the Crotch of Death, only to have Michael Huntington come into view half way up the switchbacks. This forced me to reluctantly look for another gear. Failing to find the gear I was looking for I was forced to grind out the rest of the hill. By the top, Michael was pretty close.

Having raced Michael a couple of times on up-and-down hill races, I knew the remaining downhill would play to my advantage, so I was able to let it fly for the remainder to hold on comfortably for the win.

As always, the post-race was fun and a good opportunity to catch up with runners from the region. At the awards, Perry the RD eloquently reminded us of why we were out running on this beautiful fall morning, and to be thankful for our good fortune as runners to be out enjoying these wonderful trails. Nine years ago this month, eight members of the University of Wyoming cross country team had their lives and love for running ended abruptly at the hands of a drunk driver on Highway 287. Their memory lives on, in part, through this race.

JZ and Mary finish strong. Mary picks up the win in the 50-99 (!) age group.

Giving Kyle the run down post-race.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The 'Assault on the Rock'

Horsetooth Rock from the east side of Horsetooth Reservoir.

FCTR on the Summit.

We (Fort Collins Trail Runners) have been time-trialing Towers Road all year, so for a change of pace tonight we took on the landmark that commands the local Front Range skyline, Horsetooth Rock (7,255').

The ascent from the main parking lot to the summit varies from 2.4 miles to 2.6 miles, depending on the route taken, with close to 1,500' of vertical gain. The final 100 feet of vertical gain requires a good amount of scrambling, but the views from the top are well worth the effort.

Coming down off the last pitch to the summit. Photo, Don Walker

We had 25 turn out for what was being dubbed 'The Assault on the Rock,' with runners choosing their own route from a range of possible options. The service drive option is a little longer, but way less technical than the singletrack route. With the service drive and trail intersecting each other in four separate places along the route, there are multiple route combinations to choose from, and the jury is still out on which combination is quickest.

From the trailhead map, I went trail up to the bench then Southridge service drive as far as it goes before hooking back into the trail for the last half mile to the north summit. The route is exactly 2.5 miles and I think probably the fastest, despite being longer than the more direct trail option. The Audra trail cut-off from Southridge might be a little quicker given that it is a little less technical near the top, but I think it's probably much of a muchness.

Mary B on trail. Photo, Don Walker

Anyway, the short and the long of it is that I managed to shave a half minute off my PR, despite pre-run sandbagginess about a hamstring strain from an overzealous return to the track two days prior. Jenn Malmberg set yet another area FKT with her 29:40 ascent, while most everyone else established or set PRs on what was a perfect evening for running.

A perfect evening on top. Photos, Don Walker.

North Summit TT details

Fastest Known Times

Nick Clark: 23:50 (12/29)
Jenn Malmberg: 29:40 (10/7)

Full 10/7 TT times .............................10/21

Aaron ........ 29:30 (to plateau).........N/A
Alex A ........ 35:15.............................34:20
Alex M ....... 33:16..............................??
Brian ......... Lost (!)..........................40:03
Cat ............. 38:20 (to plateau)........Ran home
Celeste ....... 43:00 (plateau)............43:00
Dan B ........ 34:10.............................33:41
Dan J ......... 34:10 (to plateau)........N/A
Don ............ 39:14..............................42:00
Don ..............N/A...............................37:00
Jennifer ..... 44:31..............................43:20
Jenn M ....... 29:40(!).......................N/A
Kate ............ 35:06............................35:41
Kharah ....... 36:02.............................N/A
Laura .......... 36:38............................N/A
Laura ............N/A.............................42:00
Marie .......... 37:45............................35:03
Mary ........... 34:37............................33:44
Mike T.............N/A...........................39:40
Nick M ........ 28:58...........................29:30
Nick C ......... 25:26(!).......................25:38
Pablo .......... 37:32............................Ran Home
Pete ............. 28:54...........................30:23
Rob .............. 32:05...........................N/A
Sam ............. 26:04...........................N/A
Slush ........... 27:25............................27:31
Tracy ........... 53:00...........................N/A
Travis .......... 36:37...........................N/A

Total............... 27 .............................. 25

I think we'll have enough light for one more Assault in two weeks, before heading back to the Towers routine as winter darkness sets in.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bluesky Marathon

Alistair and I had a fun time manning the Towers aid station and hanging out at the finish this weekend at the Bluesky Marathon. Some of the action:

Jenn Malmberg (1st Marathon), Chris Grauch (2nd Marathon), Sarah Hansen (1st Half), Male Half Winner, Karen Anderson (2nd Half), Sam Malmberg (2nd Full), Becky Flowers (2nd Full)

Alistair watches on as Kathy Kirlsling (61, NM), Bill Moyle (71, CO) and Jackson Chamberlain (12, CO) inspire in the Marathon.

Random Shots from Towers Aid (4.7 miles): Barefootin', topping up, smiles, Lisa 'Goding', CRUD makes it out, Ron, Brits, Karen S demonstrating one of the many uses for 'arm panties,' Alistair checking supplies.