Sunday, October 30, 2011

Week Ending October 30

Mon - 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls long.

Tues - Noon: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls long.
PM: 11 miles track. 2 mile warm up, then 3 x 2 mile with half-mile jog between reps, two mile c-d. Met Brian and jogged out the warm up with him. Sam, a triathlon guy, jumped in on the last couple of warm-up laps looking for a workout, so I ended up running with him. Goal was to run 5:40 pace to see how that felt vis-a-vis a half marathon effort, and the answer is that I ain't there just yet, especially at 5,000 feet. Splits went: 11:05 (5:38, 5:27), 11:01 (5:34, 5:27), 11:09 (5:31, 5:38). First and second intervals were pretty smooth, but last mile of the final one was a big old grind, which was discouraging.

Weds - Noon: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls long. First big snow dump of the year, and it was a big one. Ah, yes, the joys of breaking trail.
PM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls long. At least the trail was somewhat broken in.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles (1,800'). Towers with Pete, Slush and Celeste. Towers had been plowed to Westridge which was nice. Last section to the top was pretty hard going, but as always in the snow, a great workout. Clear skies and bright stars as I left the house and then awesome views of the low cloud base over Fort Collins from on top of Towers as day was breaking. As much as I hate getting out of bed at 0 dark 30, the running is nearly always awesome as night turns to day, especially with expansive views to the east.
Noon: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls long. Snow looks like it will be gone in a day or two.

Fri - Noon: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls long.

Sat - AM: 26 miles (3,400') easy. Ran around the reservoir from my house via 38e, Centennial, Lory Rd to East Valley Trail, then Towers - Secret Trail - Westridge - Rock - Audra - Southridge - home long. Worked it a bit around the south side of the reservoir after a slow start, then met Pete at the top of the 'A' on Centennial and ran conversationally from there. Dragged arse up Towers. Felt gimpy all the way up my right leg through the second half of the run, from my ankle to my glute, which was pretty unpleasant. Not a great run by any stretch of the imagination.

Sun - AM: 25 miles (6,400') easy. Chubby Cheeks Marathon route: Rock - Southridge - Audra - Rock - Soderberg - Spring Creek - Stout - Herrington - Spring Creek - Mill Creek - Howard - Arthurs - Valley - Sawmill - Loggers - Carey Springs - Towers - Secret - Westridge - Wathen - Spring Creeek - Falls. Went easy with my neighbor Mike, and while I dragged a bit on the last big climb up to Westridge, I felt 100% better than I did yesterday, which was a pleasant surprise.

Total: 102 miles (17,600')

Got the email from the folks in San Fran that I'm off the waiting list and free to register for the 50-miler in December. Figured I'd wait until my long runs this weekend to see if I want to commit the time, money, and effort. I've never run the coastal trails in Marin, and I'm sure they are thoroughly breathtaking, but this race is about the competition and the loot. There will be a ton of fast guys there looking for a slice of the $30k that's up for grabs, so there's really no point in heading out there unless I think I've got at least an outside shot of getting on the podium.

While my runs weren't great this weekend, the Sunday run did at least feel easy enough that I think I'm getting to where I need to be with regards to durability. There's still time to work on speed, but this close to the race my legs have to at least feel like they are approaching a state of preparedness to go the distance at a hard effort. Feeling things open up on the second long run of the weekend suggested that I may be getting there, so I guess I'll commit the entry fee funds tonight and then if I have a good weekend next weekend, I'll commit the airfare funds too. It's a roll of the dice with so many talented guys in the field, combined with my sub-optimal build-up, but I'm a gambling man and I guess I'm feeling kinda sorta like I'm ready to let rip.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week Ending October 23

Mon - AM: 9 miles (2,100') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Loggers - Carey Springs - Towers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg - home long. Felt some good flow on a windy day.
PM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls long. Took a pretty nasty spill half way around in the fading light. Caught a rock on a short stretch of techy downhill, tried to save it but ended up taking a rock squarely to my right lower back with secondary abrasions to my elbow and lower leg. Had to stop and gather there for a bit.

Tues - Noon: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls long. My lower back was thankfully not to sore from yesterday's digger. Run felt good.
PM: 8 miles track with Eric, Brian S and Slush. 5 x 1 mile with quarter mile jog between reps. Mile w-u, then 5:35, 5:25, 5:26, 5:28, 5:26, mile c-d. Ran all of these with Eric, working harder than I would have liked, but pleased to at least run consistently under 5:30.

Weds - noon: 8.5 miles (2,100') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Herrington - Spring Creek - Wathen - Rock Trail - Soderberg - home long. Beautiful and calm fall weather. The running felt effortless today, especially the climbs, with nary a niggle to be felt. Wish they could all be like this.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles hill tempo (1,400'). The HTH5MO&B - or Horsetooth Half 5 Mile Out & Back - was a staple workout last winter, and is now back in the rotation for our little Thursday morning group. For this workout, we typically go out to the 5 mile point of the HTH course at a relatively easy pace and then come back at a half marathon type effort. Centennial, which is the road that rides the east side of the reservoir is perhaps the most scenic paved road in Fort Collins, but what really makes the workout are the hills, which vary from very steep to long and drawn out. The turnaround point is about a half mile north of the north dam, so the return trip at tempo begins with a big, steep climb over the dam, and is followed by a mixture of shorter climbs and descents, a couple of big descents and some longer grinding stuff, with not a whole lot in between. One of the best workouts in town.

Anyway, this morning for the first one of the season we had Pete, Sarah, Eric, Brian, Nicole, Slush and Celeste in attendance. Went out at a social pace with Sarah, Eric and Pete in 39:15 and then came back with Eric in 30:50 (6:10): 7:19, 6:14, 6:32, 5:34, 5:14. I normally come back solo on these workouts, so it was good to have Eric there to keep me honest. I think this is the fastest I've done the return five, but then it's also about as hard as I've worked for them.
PM: 8.5 miles (1,700') easy. Towers in 37:50 with Ryan and Pete. A little gimpy in the right calf from the morning, so just jogged out the climb. Beautiful evening. A total of 16 FCTR on the hill tonight.

Fri - PM: 7 miles (1,600'). Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg - home long. Another gorgeous evening. Still kind of sore in the lower legs from the Centennial workout Thursday morning. Deer everywhere.

Sat - AM: 19.5 miles (2,700'). Runners Without Borders fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders' work in drought- and famine-stricken Somalia. I pledged .01 per foot of accumulated gain and while my $27 donation was but a drop in the ocean, the combined drops of the 100 or so runners out on the trails of Horsetooth/Lory on Saturday added up to a total of roughly $4,000 (a figure that will be doubled by a matching donation from a wealthy and generous lady who is currently challenging people to give). Consider pledging yourselves if you happen to read this and think you can spare a few dollars to help save lives in the Horn of Africa where literally tens of thousand of people are currently in danger of dying, a fact that for whatever reason is getting zero coverage in today's insane age of 24 hour news. It's not sexy and it's not clever, but it is very real. Scott, thanks for making us think beyond our safe and very comfortable borders!

Sun - 25.5 miles (5,500'). 4:05. AM run with Dakota. Sold this one as a 25 miler at 50-mile pace, but I think we got kinda lazy as the morning rolled on. From my house we went: Rock Trail - Soderberg - Spring Creek - Towers - Stout - Sawmill - Valley - Visitors Center - Timber - Westridge (Lory) - Howard - Mill Creek - Towers - Westridge (H'tooth) - Rock - home. Took a huge digger a few miles in on Stout and ripped up my right side pretty good. I wasn't sure I could continue there for a couple of minutes, thinking that I done damage to my rib cage, but finally got my bearings and headed on. My hip, which took the brunt of the fall was throbbing pretty badly towards the end of the run, so I had to soft step the last few descents and let Dakota take off. This route times two would make for an 11,000 foot 50 miler. Mark your calendars for mid April, it's gonna be a beast (permits pending).

Total: 106 miles (19,300').

Two big falls this week has me all bloodied up, but I'm still running. Despite the skids, I got some good work done, which has me feeling a little like I'm gaining some fitness. Still not sure if I'm going to get to run the NF50 race in December as I'm still on the wait list, but I guess I'll continue to train as if I am. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to pounding out a few road races, including a half marathon down in Loveland in a couple of weeks.

Think there is a little running action down in Boulder this Saturday, but it's looking somewhat doubtful that I'll be able to make it, which is a shame as it's been a while since I've run down in The Republic. Ah well, next time. Anyway, this is but the first in a three-part series of trail-run gatherings. In December, we'll be bringing the Front Range Fat Ass series up to The Fort for the second annual Chubasaurus Maxamaurus. Full details on that to come in a few weeks, but really all you need to know is that it will feature 27 miles of glorious singletrack, 4 miles of dirt road, 100 meters of asphalt, two summits of local peaks, 7,500 feet of vertical gain and even some Pearl Izumi giveaways. Just bring beer!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week Ending Oct 16

Mon - Noon: 6.5 miles (1,400') easy. Soderberg - Spring Creek - Herrington - Stout - Spring Creek - Falls.
PM: 4.5 miles (900') easy. Falls loop.

Tues - Noon: 7.5 miles (1,600') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Towers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg. Failed to get out of bed for a planned early longer run, so had to settle for a shorter lunch run. Lazy.
PM - 5.5 miles track. End of season relays. 800 open, then 800, 400, 200, 100. 2:38, 2:31, 64, no split for 200, 100.

Weds - AM: 8.5 miles (1,800') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Loggers - Carey Springs - Towers - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg.
PM - 4.5 miles (900') easy. Falls loop.

Thurs AM- 8.5 miles (2,900') hill repeats. Horsetooth Hill Intervals with Eric, Pete and Sarah. Workout went: 3 x 1/4 (+185' each), 2 x 1/2 (+380'), 1 x 3/4 (+550'). Supposed to finish with a mile and summit of Horsetooth, but short on time, so we had to settle for a steady 1/2 mile climb by going the long way back to my house. First three intervals with headlamp. Splits were: 2:44, 2:44, 2:39, 5:40, 5:43, 8:50. This workout always kills me, but I hope to hit it on a fairly regular basis for the next six or seven weeks to gauge fitness and also as a great strength builder.
PM - 6 miles social run with FCTR group. Downhill trail mile at the end: 5:00.

Fri - Off. Dana in Michigan, so no chance to run.

Sat - Off. See above.

Sun 11 miles (2,600') steady. 1:39. Falls - Spring Creek - Mill Creek - Logger - Sawmill - Stout - Spring Creek - Falls. My neighbor, Brad, kindly offered to watch the kids for an hour and a half so I could get a run in. Given the lack of running the previous two days and my short window, I decided to push a bit on the middle miles up Spring Creek and on the Mill Creek descent. Felt particularly coordinated on the descent which is always a good feeling.

Total: 62.5 miles (12,100')

Two days off this week with Dana in Michigan early Friday to late Sunday. Tried to make up for it by front-loading the week with a bunch of double days, but it was still a pretty light week. Starting to feel some fitness come back, and I always enjoy being able to get out twice a day when the weather is as beautiful as it has been recently. Motivated for a solid four- to five-week training block packed full of quality work and lengthy runs.

Some images from Silent Trails last weekend and a nice piece in the local rag:

It started out innocently enough. Delaney, Mock, Clark, Driver (UoW singlet), Bergman (shades).
Then it just got silly.
Perry Wechsler. A devoted race director. All pics Wendy Perkins.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Week Ending October 9

Mon - 6.5 miles (1,400') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg.

Tues - 6 miles track. 2 mile w-u, 800 open, then 2x800, 400, 1,600, 2x400: 2:38, 2:37, 2:34, 75, 5:23, 80, 74. This one was a shock to the system. Gonna take a while to get back into the swing of interval work, but it feels good to turn the legs over.

Weds - 28 miles (8,500'). Andrews Peak, Ptarmigan Mountain.

Thurs - AM: 8 miles (800') easy. Bluesky with Brian S, Sarah and Pete.
PM: 7 miles (1,700'). Towers steady (34:50)

Fri - 4.5 miles (900') easy. Falls loop.

Sat - 12 miles (1,300'). 1.5 mile w-u. Silent Trails 10.5 mile race.

Sun - 10 miles (2,000') easy. 38e - Bluesky - Towers - Secret Trail - Westridge - Rock - Soderberg - home. Sore right leg everywhere, but mainly in the groin. Tripping and stumbling like I was drunk.

Total: 82 miles (15,700')

Felt like a decent week getting back into it. Can't say I felt particularly fresh, but I think that would take a month of no running to achieve and I'm not really interested in that at this time of year. The track workout was a rude awakening, with some lung burn on the first couple of 800s, but you've got to start somewhere.

Thinking I might run the Boyd Lake Half Marathon in Loveland next month. If I can run it faster than I did last year - when I was in a similar state of non-preparedness for road racing - then I'm thinking the road marathon might be something worth pursuing early next year. I have little to no interest in running a road marathon for the experience, as they tend to be expensive and not very inspiring, so it would be all about the black and white - a time trial - which means serious work in getting ready. Luckily I have a good Tuesday and Thursday winter group to help with that, so it shouldn't be too painful if I chose to go there.

People are starting to chatter a bit about the upcoming lottery season, a time when racing plans tend to start coming together. Obviously the two big ones in the 100-mile game are Western States and Hardrock. The Hardrock lottery comes after my deadline for committing to or passing on the auto slot I have for WS. I guess I'll wait to see if I get into Hardrock, and then if not look to qualify for Western States at either Bandera or Leona Divide potentially taking a run at the Ultra Cup in the process (should I qualify for WS). Or do something entirely different, like get back into rugby.

This pic popped up on my wife's Facebook the other day. Good times. I think I was younger than Dakota then. Front row, second from left.

Kent College 1st XV (1991, I think).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Silent Trails 2011

Awesome running conditions. Pic pilfered from J. Mock

I'm usually pretty lucky when it comes to the weather and racing; however, I've had a dry ... er, wet ... spell of fortune the last three outings.

It rained chiens et chats for the first three hours at UTMB in August; while at Steamboat in September it poured, blew and generally sucked for the last three hours; and then this weekend at the Silent Trails 10 miler we were treated to a driving snow storm that began a convenient half hour before the race. But one would expect no less from a race taking place in and around Laramie, Wyoming.

I had few, if any expectations going into this one. I won it last year in blustery, cold conditions, but mainly due to a lack of competition rather than anything outstanding on my part. For this year's rendition, I knew that there was very little chance that I would defend my title, as Wyoming alum and recent 2:20 marathoner Jason Delaney was slated to be there, while an in-form and fit Justin Mock had been planning on it for months. Coming off a long summer season and weeks with little to no training, I was just hoping for a read on my (un) fitness.

By the time we were sent off into the abyss, the snow was coming down pretty hard and there was already a half inch of slick accumulation on the ground. I hung with Justin and Jason for, oh, a quarter mile and then on the slippery first descent decided that I needed to just get through this one, so settled into what felt like a comfortably hard effort.

Three miles into the race, I got my last look at the lead two and was impressed to see Justin hanging with Jason as they crossed the creek before the slow climb up to the big 'Death Crotch Hill' grunt. Me, I was laboring and feeling like I was working entirely too hard for the pitiful output I was producing. A quick look back and I could see the UW cross country shirt of Ragan Driver - a fixture at the Laramie trail events. The fact that I could see Ragan meant that he was definitely close as visibility through the snow was becoming really poor.

Going up Death Crotch, I was hopeless, and Ragan closed to within a switchback. However, I was able to hold onto the lead as we found the top of the climb and began the plunge into the exposed expanses of the course's 9,000+' high meadows. The fine, icy snow was driving straight into our eyes up here and I could barely see through my stinging tears. I dropped my shades to protect my eyes, and even though I could only just see through the icy crust on the lenses, it was better than the stinging eyeball lashing that was the alternative. It was now as much as I could do to make out my next footfalls, many of which went down in blind hope. I caught a ton of rocks and roots and was slipping and tripping all over the place, but miraculously managed to stay on my feet the whole run.

This continued until we were finally back in the trees and enjoying some protection from the elements. Somehow, I had managed to put some time on Ragan up high, and so I was able to cruise it into the finish for third place and a disappointing 1:16, a full five minutes behind my unfit self from last year over the 10.5 mile course. Tough to say if the conditions were worth five minutes, but quite possibly.

Eric and I walking to the awards. Pic: Mock

Nonetheless, another fun morning up in Laramie catching up with the southern Wyoming running crowd and other good friends. While they never make it easy in Wyoming, I wouldn't have it any other way, which is why I'll be back up there in February for the infamous and sadistic Twin Mountain Trudge.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Andrews Pk, Ptarmigan Mtn, But No Dead Buck

Ptarmigan Mountain

It's almost time for the high alpine to disappear under its snowy canvas for the year, so I took the opportunity for one last trip up high to accompany my friend Eric in the hunt for a dead deer.

Eric researches mortality rates among deer herds around the state, and part of his research involves collaring deer and tracking how, why and at what rate they die in relation to other variables such as buck to doe ratios among the herd. He was telling me the other day that one of his deer collars had been transmitting a mortality signal from a very remote part of Rocky Mountain National Park and that he was planing on retrieving the collar and conducting a post-mortem on the buck.

Knowing that the running season up there would be closing down any day, I was immediately offering company, but suggested we take the longer way in from Bear Lake rather than driving all the way to Long Lake to save a few miles of running. Eric was game and the hunt was on.

Our route went over the Continental Divide by way of Flattop Mountain from Bear Lake, and then all the way down into the North Inlet and partially up the other side to a big basin below Andrews Peak, which shares a ridgeline with the hugely impressive Ptarmigan Mountain. We retraced our steps coming back but cut the Divide just short of Flattop by way of Andrews Pass for the fun glissade down Andrews Glacier.

All told we were 28 miles on the morning with a whopping 8,500 feet of vertical gain between the elevations of 9,400' and 12,300' on what was an awesome, awesome final outing of the season. Ultimately our mission to track down the dead buck was unsuccessful, which was a bummer for Eric, but for me...well I was just along for the ride.

Pristine alpine tundra at about 12,000' on a very windy Flattop. Early morning view of Hallet.

Fog was moving through quickly on Flattop, but the higher clouds seemed fairly benign so we forged on with the planned route. Hallet behind the fog from Flattop Summit.

Andrews (left), unnamed 12k' peak center, Ptarmigan right. From North Inlet Trail on Flattop.
Chiefs Head through the North Inlet Valley from Lake Nanita Trail.

Flattop and Ottis (I think), from Lake Nanita Trail.

The impressive southeast face of Ptarmigan Mtn.

Ptarmigan Mtn across Lake Nanita.

Eric trying (unsuccessfully) to get a location on the dead buck.

Andrews Peak.

The basin below Andrews Peak. The buck was supposed to be in here, but Eric got no signal so surmised that the aerial location he had been given was incorrect and was in fact on the other side of the headwall. We weren't going over that.

The tarn at the base of Andrews Glacier.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Week Ending October 2

Mon - 4.5 miles (800') easy. Falls loop.

Tues - Off

Weds - 4.5 miles (800') easy. Falls loop.

Thurs - 7.5 miles (700') on Bluesky with Eric. Picked it up coming back from Rim Rock.

Fri - 4.5 miles (800') easy. Falls loop.

January: 440.5 miles (45,850')
February: 304.5 miles (39,200')
March: 469.5 miles (67,100')
April: 427 (62,000')
May: 509.5 (92,500')
June: 323 (54,900')
July: 303.5 (79,700)
August: 297.5 (70,000')
September: 202 miles (37,500')

Total: 3,277 miles (548,850')
Avg: 364 miles (60,983')

Sat - AM: 9.5 miles (1,550')easy flagging Horsetooth section of Bluesky Marathon.

PM: 2.5 miles super easy setting up T&H course with Alistair.

Sunday - Off. Busy morning between two races. Stopped in for the start of the Bluesky Marathon, then presided over a busy T&H 4k (yes, 4k) race, before returning to Bluesky to watch and cheer for the finishers there. Blazing hot day, which for the exposed Bluesky Marathon meant punishment for the runners.

Total: 33 miles (4,650')

Another down week, which is just fine. I should be nice and rested for Silent Trails next weekend, where I plan to pull off the double upset by handing it to JM and heavy favorite Jason Delaney, who apparently will also be running.

Signed up for North Face San Fran 50 last week and then also finally got my Hardrock appo in the mail. NF50 is sold out, so I am currently on the wait list. Guess I'll make a final decision on that race should I get bumped up to the start list. Either way, it's time to start building some fitness and mileage.

Interesting 85km (50 mile, essentially) race over in the Pyrenees this weekend. The start line was packed with stars, most of them from the Salomon stable: Kilian, Iker, Heras, Symonds, Gates. Only Heras and Gates finished. Wonder if there'll be the same kind of post mortem on this one as there was after UTMB for the US runners? Probably not.

Per Justin, Kilian dropped because of mental fatigue. Been there. The kid is amazing, but I often wonder where his breaking point is. It would be a great shame to see such a prodigious talent driven into the ground at such a young age. I hope he doesn't feel the pressure to continue with his crazy schedule if he needs a break.