Monday, April 30, 2012

Week Ending April 29

Mon - Off. Wow, picked up a stomach bug from Stella that quite literally put me on my back. I haven't been out of commission like that in quite some time. Running was completely out of the question, and with Dana knocked out too, parenting was also a near impossibility. Thankfully, Alistair found some empathy and behaved himself while the rest of us wallowed in self pity.

Tues - AM: 5 miles (1,000') easy
. Falls. Miraculously, I woke up with at least some energy, and the stomach problems seemed to be largely gone. Definitely tired, but was at least able to jog.
PM: 6 miles (600') easy. Valley loop. Still tired, but jogging seemed to help.

Weds - Noon: 8 miles (2,000') easy. Horsetooth summit on Southridge/Audra, descent on Wathan/Spring Creek. Still not right, but definitely better.
PM - 6 miles (600') w/ 3 @ tempo. Jogged out to Arthurs from Soderberg on the east valley, then came back on the west valley / nomad at a solid tempo effort: 24:40 out, 18:35 back.

Thurs - AM 16 miles (3,800') fartlek. 2:28. Soderberg - Spring Creek - Towers (to top and then back down) - Shoreline - Sawmill - Loggers - Carey Springs - Towers - Secret Trail - Westridge - Rock - Audra - Southridge. Put in a tempo-type effort (if not speed) coming up Spring Creek (17:42, 3-way to Towers) and Sawmill-Loggers-Carey to Towers (19:17). Legs were pretty flat from the tempo effort yesterday, in addition to general flu fatigue.
PM: 7 miles easy. Social run with FCTR. Boom, and just like that the stomach bug was back. This was one of my more miserable runs in recent memory.

Fri - PM: 5 miles easy. Valley trails at Lory. Still not right, low energy levels, but better than the night before.

Sat - AM: 27 miles (6,000') long. Ran the Quad Rock loop from my house at a steady training pace (3:58). Original plan was to run some varied paces and push hard up the last climb, but due to continued stomach-bug bloat and low energy levels, I just plugged the whole way.  

Sun - AM: 20 miles (2,100') long. Initially I was going to complete the Quad Rock 50 course by running it in reverse after yesterday's clockwise loop, but I just couldn't face it. I was definitely feeling better, but I chose to run some faster mileage to give myself a break and get the run over with. Circumnavigated the reservoir from my house, with an attempt at connecting on the north end via a supposed (mythical) trail off the north dam. Ended up bushwhacking most of the way into Lory and down-climbing off a cliff band. Clearly, I need navigational help next time I attempt that. Bushwhack aside, most of this was at a comfortable 6:50 - 7:50 pace, with a 7:30 average.
PM: 5 miles (1,500') hike. Escorted my niece, Alistair and Stella up to the top of Horsetooth where we enjoyed a nice picnic and a chance encounter with Alistair's kindergarten teacher. As usual, hauling baby weight up and down Horsetooth proved to be as a good a workout as any training run.

Total: 105 miles (17,600')

Battled through a rough week with a really nasty stomach bug, but I think I'm through the worst of it. Hopefully, this week will be a nice rebound week and I'll be able to get some quality work done.

It was fun to run the Quad Rock course on Saturday. However, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the poor saps who'll be running the full 50 as I was finishing up my single loop. The course is plain old tough. If it's a hot day, I'm predicting high levels of carnage, and a 50-mile finisher rate close to 50 percent. Of course, I hope to be proven wrong. Plans continue to come together. We've lined up 'R&B-flavored' Lee Holiday and the Time Off for musical entertainment; Pateros Creek will be serving their English Mild, which we have dubbed the '51st Mile;' we've got a kids' course mapped out; schwag a plenty to dish out; and a nice cool reservoir to dip your tired legs in post race; oh, and a sizzling BBQ too.

Today is the last day to register. Yes, we're sold out, but due to a number of runner cancellations, we've decided to bump onto the start list anyone from the wait list who registers by tomorrow. But registration will definitively close EOD tomorrow.

And how about Team Pearlie? Dylan and Timmy sweep the top two spots at Leona, while Ashley picks up second in the women's race. With Dylan now on the start list for Western States, PI officially has a scoring team at the event (if, of course, there was a team event). On the right day, I believe that all three of us have a legitimate shot at the podium. The race is stacked like never before (seems like I've heard that before), with the international component being especially intriguing, so maybe some team dynamics might come into play. A little shoulder nudge here, a loose foot there, the team break from the peloton at a well-timed aid station. Who knows? The Big S will be bringing their star-studded cast of international runners + massive support crew, but you better believe that the Dirtbag Pearlies will be scrapping the whole way.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fortnight Edning April 22

Week Ending April 15

Mon - Noon: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls loop.
PM: 4 miles (500') easy. Bluesky.

Tues - AM: 9 miles easy/steady. Turned the legs over at a very controlled effort at Jane's morning workout: mile, 2 mile, mile, 2 mile. Ran with Dennis for all of these: 6:19, 13:10, 6:06, 12:53.
PM: 4 miles (500') easy. Bluesky.

Weds - Noon: 4 miles (500') easy. Bluesky.

Thurs - Noon: 3 miles (600') easy. Bench loop.
PM: 7.5 miles easy. Social run with FCTR.

Fri - Off. Wanted to run, but crammed to get taxes finished (need to seriously adjust my withholdings) before my noon flight to Oakland, and then found myself a plate of pasta and an IPA deep at the pre-race shinding before I remembered that I was going to run on the CA end of the day. Oh well. 

Sat - 50.5 miles (7,000') race. Lake Sonoma 50.

Sun - 11.5 miles (700') steady. Joined Craig Thornley and Meghan Arbogast for a 10 miler at Meghan's 100k pace a week before her trip out to Italy to race the 100k World Championships. The legs felt surprisingly perky, if a bit sore, and the low to mid 7's felt good on the scenic rolling roads around Healdsburg.

Total: 98.5 miles (10,800')

Pretty much a taper week for what it was worth. Lake Sonoma was an excellent stock-taking race. A plan has been formulated. Kind of.

Week Ending April 22

Mon - AM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls loop.
PM: 6 miles (500') easy. Valley trails. Quads were definitely sore on both runs, but okay after a couple of miles.

Tues - AM: 4.5 miles easy. Out and back on the Mason trail while waiting for new tires to be put on the Xterra.
PM: 8.5 miles (800') easy. Bluesky TH to Arthurs and back.

Weds - PM: 8.5 miles (2,200') easy. Horsetooth summit via Southridge - Audra with a return on Wathan - Spring Creek. Legs were good on the Horsetooth climb, but still a bit quiffy on the descent.

Thurs - AM: 4 miles easy on Bluesky.
PM: 9.5 miles (2,300') w/ hard Horsetooth summit. Switched the biweekly FCTR Towers TT to Horsetooth for a change of pace and scenery. Started out relatively easy on the initial section of the Rock trail and then popped in behind Sam from about the Soderberg/Rock trail intersection. Ended up PR'ing by 8 seconds (23:42), which was a bit of a surprise given the Lake Sonoma effort on Saturday. Certainly more time to be chopped there. Splits - bench: 4:42; Soderberg/H'tooth junction: 7:23; Rock/Southridge: 15:43; summit: 23:42. Back via Westridge, Spring Creek. Legs kinda shaky coming down.

Fri - Noon: 9 miles (1,800') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Stout - Loggers - Carey Springs - Herrington - Spring Creek - Soderberg. 
PM: 5.5 miles (700') easy. From Bluesky TH to Nomad/Shoreline loop.

Sat - Noon: 25.5 miles (8,000') Crosier Triple Bagger. For the fourth year in a row, I headed out to Crosier Mtn (9,250') and gave myself an early season ass whooping with three summits from the three different Crosier trailheads that sit along the Devil's Gulch Road between Drake and Glen Haven. Originally, I was planning on meeting folk from the Fort Collins Trail Runners at 5:45 for a pre-dawn start, but family obligations meant that I had to reschedule and run this one solo, starting just before noon. Given that it was HOT out, it ended up being quite a test and the first rung on the heat training ladder for WS100. I mueled 70 oz of water (heavy) to the top on the first climb from Garden Gate and drank all of it before the run was all said and done.

First climb and descent were fine, but I probably got a little carried away on the descent. Coming up on the second summit, the alarm bells started going off and I knew it was going to be a tough outing. My legs had very little pep and the uphill work was just hard. I was sweating profusely and feeling just a little bonky. I ate a banana and drank a ton of water on top, then started feeling bloated. Coming up on the third summit, the nausea started kicking in and I had no other thought in my mind than to get the run completed. For the first time ever on this route, I dropped to a hike on the summit grunt (450', half mile), but I was fine with that. I made an effort at running it, but just had nothing in my legs. Took it super easy coming down on the final 3,200 foot descent in an effort to get back to the car in one piece; hiked the 200 foot grunter in the middle of the descent. I think the heat, combined with lingering fatigue from Lake Sonoma did a number on me today. Nonetheless, I am super happy to take the crosier-triple streak into its fourth year, and as always the unsurpassed views of the Divide and Estes Valley from on top were (almost) worth the pain.

Splits (vs a steadier 2011):

First ascent: 1:05:53 (summit spur: 9:05, 3:41 on top) (2011 - 1:02, 8:55)
First descent: 30:14 (36:47)
Second ascent: 47:15 (8:24, 5:38) (46:30, 8:07)
Second descent: 33:54 (32:59)
Third ascent: 49:53 (10:11, 3:41) (45:21, 7:49)
Final descent: 51:12 (48:49)

Run time: 4:39 (4:32)
Outing time: 4:52 (5:33)

Sun - AM: 19 miles (1,000') steady. Ran from home to hook in with the Horsetooth Half Marathon course. Watched the race get under way from the top of South Dam and then ran easy for the next three of four miles waiting for the field to catch up. Bumped into A. Marks on the way, which was a surefire way to keep things easy. Leaders went by on top of North Dam, after which I picked up the pace a bit, dropping into the low 6s through to Bingham Hill. Dropped back down into the low 7s on the bike path so I could let friends further back in the field catch up. Ran with Pete for a bit, then Alex, and finally Sarah over the last two miles. Rounded out the morning at the New Belgium finish area with a brew and a bit of hanging out, before heading back with the family for a morning/afternoon of weed pulling and Horsetooth hiking.     

Total: 105 miles (18,300')

Straight back in the saddle post Lake Sonoma. May or may not be the best strategy in the world, but I always find that recovery comes easier through running than it does through sitting around. Paid for it on Saturday with a pretty miserable run, but that one gets filed away in the brain-callusing file, which I'll be inspecting somewhere between the Middle Fork of the American River and the Western States finish line in late June.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lake Sonoma 50

Sonoma County reminds me of home - Canterbury home, that is. The hills are a bit bigger, but the wooded, lush and rolling nature of the terrain has a very Kentish feel to it. Deep greens are always a welcome break from Front Range Brown, so feeling at ease with my surroundings on the drive north from Oakland on Friday, I felt like I was ready for a good run.

After a very restful night, it was up early to meet Darcy and Mackey for the quick 20 minute drive to the start at the south bay of the ridiculously scenic Lake Sonoma, a reservoir that feeds the vineyard covered hillsides of the surrounding valleys. Given the serenity of the lakeside route and the seemingly remote nature of the venue, the race had a certain calm about it that was really quite refreshing.  

We listened to a few brief words from race director John Medinger and then we were off up the road for a couple of rolling asphalt miles to stretch out the field before the singletrack stomp began. Despite the strong field, the road miles were run at a pretty casual pace, with runners seemingly more interested in banter and catching up than in racing.

We hit the trail at 2.5 miles and immediately got a taste of what was in store for the next six hours. The dirt track bombed downwards on some pretty sloppy trail, then just as quickly assumed an upward trajectory around one of the hundreds of drainage channels that feed the lake. This was then followed by some rolling turns, a couple of sharp up and downs and then some more rolling. If you want to run a jabby, rolling course then come out and run Lake Sonoma, as I believe the race is the dictionary definition of both 'jabby' and 'rolling.' In fact, let's just call it 'jabolling.'

I prefer my climbs and descents a little longer, but a little variation never hurt anyone, besides I was feeling decent enough through the early going that I was happy to be on the roller coaster tracks. The banter was good, with Mr. Koerner being in particularly fine form.

With all the mini climbs and descents, it became apparent early where peoples' strengths lay. Joe Uhan was steady 10 meters or so off the front, while Gary Gellin in second was running an awkwardly choppy tempo dictated by his heart rate monitor: hard on the downs and then trippingly slow on the climbs. A group of us edged around Gary a few miles into the singletrack and the pace quickened a touch as we bridged up to Joe.

After about 10 miles, the pace was apparently still too lazy for Timmy Olson who shot to the front and quickly gapped the peloton. Fair enough, I thought; nobody went with him. Jorge Maravilla led the pace of the chase group with, I think Dave Mackey and Dakota in front of me and a train of probably seven other guys behind. We hit the second major creek crossing after 12 miles, just before the second aid station, after having gone waist deep through the first water crossing at mile three or four. This one, while longer, was a little shallower but still deep enough that foot placement was something of a leap of faith.
'Warm Creek' crossing. Photo: Glenn Tachiyama
Shortly after exiting the creek and coming into aid 2. Photo: Drymax

I should have just gone straight through at the aid station, but instead stopped to top up on water as I had no clue when the next water stop was. Jorge, Dakota, Dave and Hal all scooted through, and with Timmy already a minute ahead, I was in sixth leaving the aid station with a bit of a gap to make up on the chase pack. I figured it wouldn't take long, but as it turned out I wouldn't see Dakota or Timmy again until the finish. Hal and Dave, however, would remain in sight on longer stretches.

And so it went all the way to the mile 25 turnaround. I would get glimpses of Hal and Dave every now and again, then on the shoulder checks I would see that there was nobody in close proximity behind. Given that there was a one-mile loop for the turnaround before recommencing on the return portion of the 50 mile out-and-back course, I never got a check on the gap to Dakota and Tim. Too bad because I wanted to tell them both to slow the hell down. On the short spur to the halfway aid, I caught up to Hal, while seeing that Dave was a minute or two ahead. I got a quick refill, managing to get out just ahead of Hal.

The first mile or two of the return journey would involve an 800 foot drop on what had been the biggest climb of the day on the way out, followed by a climb of equal length to the 30 mile aid, then another decent drop before resuming the rolling theme of the day. I hadn't really been descending that well for most of the morning as my quads were feeling strangely 'off,' so I took it relatively easy on the first big descent from the turnaround, which allowed Hal to get back in front of me. Nonetheless, it was good enough to pick off an obviously ailing Mackey. I resumed the lead over Hal climbing back up to the 30 mile aid station and then tried to hit the ensuing descent a little harder to see if I could build a gap, but it seemed like Hal was feeling feisty and ready to race, sticking to me like glue.

Mile 28 or so, with Mackey behind. Photo: Gary Wang

There was no need for shoulder checks to keep tabs on Hal as his headphones could be heard a good ten meters ahead. I'd get the second-hand music all the way through mile 35 or so, after which I slowly, finally, began to build a gap. While there was still no sign of the guys in front, I had heard the gap was six minutes from a couple of people along the course, and then just as I was pulling into the penultimate aid station at mile 38 I got a view of Jorge who I hadn't seen in a good three hours. Bummer for him, I thought, as I knew he was after a Western States spot, but a race is a race. I passed soon thereafter on a short climb and wished him well. My legs were still feeling decent so I was able to get out of sight pretty quickly. From there it was just a question of maintaining a tempo that would get me through to the finish in the shortest order possible. I had no idea how far Tim and Dakota were ahead of me, so continued to run as if I had a shot at reeling them in.

Then I got to the final aid station at mile 45 and learned that Dakota had somehow built a 30 minute lead on me and that Timmy was 10 minutes ahead. The sails were officially deflated and I slipped into 10-minute- per-mile mode for the last grinding uphill miles to the finish.
Ready for a beer. Photo: Drymax

As RD John Medinger put it in a recent email to runners, "the course is a hard - but ultimately fair - test of your fitness and tenacity." I'd definitely go along with that. As a side note, I think the total climb is probably a little closer to 7,000 feet than the advertised 10,000 feet, but unlike some 10,000 feet courses with five or six big upper-cut climbs, this one jabs away at you with 60-70 unrelenting body blows and it takes its toll. 

The post-race scene was highly conducive to hours of lingering. Buckets of quality beer, an awesome Yucatan feed, perfect weather and good people a plenty. Yup, that's the ticket.

Thornley seems to get everywhere. One day he'll rule the (ultrarunning) world. Photo: Drymax

I'm not quite sure what to make of my race to be quite honest. Up until I learned that Dakota was 30 minutes ahead of me, I actually felt like I was having a pretty good run. Through the last five miles, I faded horribly and started getting down on myself for letting the leaders get away so early in the race. Three or four days later, and I'm calling it a solid training run. With the Lake Sonoma and NF50 showing in December, it is clear that Dakota is running at the top of his game right now; I've just got to figure out how to up my game to match.
Top 10. Photo: Drymax
There are plenty of positives to take away from the race. I ran hard all morning and felt like there would have been plenty left to give at 100-mile pace. My equipment worked fantastically. The proto PI 'Ultra' shorts are a thing of beauty. They held two 5oz gel flasks in the compression hip pockets flawlessly and with absolutely no bounce. I'm digging the new tops too: nice and loud. For fueling, I used EFS drink mix and the new Kona Mocha gel, which combined offered great energy and kept at bay any threats of cramping. I made a conscious effort to drink more than I normally would in a bid to promote digestion and absorption of calories, and I was generally successful with getting the extra fluids down.

A tweak here and a tweak there and we should be good to go for Western States. To be sharp for the back 50, I know that I need to incorporate longer trail tempo efforts and start cutting out some of the 'easy' fluff that I'm so comfortable pushing out in training. I've also got to start working the downs a bit, but that's all part of the master plan. Getting beat by 30 minutes was a good slap in the face. Time to start sharpening the volume. Tick tock.   

Rough splits from memory:

12 mile (1:29)
25 mile (3:15)
30 mile (3:52)
38 mile (5:01)
46 mile (6:05)
50.5 mile (6:51)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Week Ending April 8

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

Tues - AM: 9.5 miles intervals. Small group again, but overjoyed to be running in the snow (for what it was worth). Workout was 5 x City Park mile (1.04), with 1st and last steady and middle three fartlek - quarter mile jog between + 1-2 min standing rest. Ran with Chris M for all five and felt horribly sluggish: 5:35 (5:22), 5:34 (:21), 5:41 (:27), 5:38 (:25), 5:37 (:24).
PM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls loop.

Weds - Noon: 6 miles (600') easy. Valley trails, Soderberg to Arthurs and back.
PM: 4 miles easy on the bike paths before FCRC board meeting. Mileage padding.

Thurs - AM: 10.5 miles (1,200') easy. Early morning jaunt on Bluesky/Indian Summer with Slush, Celeste, Ziggy, Sarah and AlWesir. Nice crisp morning with another beautiful sunrise over Coyote Ridge. Notched things a touch over the last couple. Some good banter as always.
PM: 10 miles (2,100') Towers. 29:37. Eased into this one, hitting the road (.45) 20 seconds slower than last time, and taking it relatively easy on the grunts with the intention of gassing the shallower grades. The Stout split was 8:50 and Herrington 16:45, which means I made up about 20 seconds over the last 13 minutes versus two weeks ago. I ended up 4 seconds slower on what felt like a much more controlled effort with significantly less discomfort. One of these days I'll solve the riddle and put all the pieces together.

Fri - Noon: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls loop.
PM: 6 miles (600') easy. O&B Soderberg to Arthurs on Valley Trails.

Sat - AM: 21 miles (7,000'). Round Mountain ladder. This was the second outing of the Fort Collins Trail Runners' Spring Vertical Series and a repeat of last year's inaugural version, dubbed the Round Up. Total workout calls for an out and back from each of the four mile markers on the way up to the Round Mtn summit, followed by a final summit push (4.75 miles, 3,000') for a total of 29 miles & 9,500 feet. I decided to eschew the mile 4 O & B as I didn't want to overdo things with Lake Sonoma coming up next weekend. I also decided to take things super easy for the first three out and backs, before taking a harder run at the summit to finish things off. Ended up wavering between hard and 'can't be bothered' for the summit run, which ended up being surprisingly quick, just a couple minutes off my PR (50:24) at 52:23. I think we had an impressive 13 runners show up for the 5:30 pre-dawn push-off and then lots more as the morning progressed. Great sunrise over Alexander Mtn coming down from mile two. Total outing was 4:11, or 3:59 not including TH pit stops. 
The up splits: Mile 1 <+580'> (13:47, 12:40, 11:21, 10:22); mile 2 <+780'> (13:46, 12:25, 11:42); mile 3 <+460'> (11:54, 10:21); mile 4 <+580'> (10:51); final .75 <+480'> (9:05).

The down splits: Mile 1 (11:36, 9:15, 8:47, 9:56); mile 2 (9:03, 8:38, 9:36); mile 3 (10:29, 11:04); mile 4 (11:04); final .75 (6:45)

Sun - AM: 8 miles (900') easy on Bluesky. Been a while since I've been on a run and thinking about snakes, but with as warm as it's been I found myself scanning this morning.

Total: 90 miles (15,400') 

Took things a little easier this week on the running front, with a short run Sunday and an abbreviated Round Mountain ladder on Saturday. This disciplined behavior is an attempt to freshen the legs up a bit for the Lake Sonoma 50 next weekend, which will be my only 50 miler before Western States in June. It comes about halfway into my training block so an easier seven or eight days leading up to it seems reasonable enough. I feel pretty good right now, so I'd like to think I've got as a good a shot as anyone toeing the line.

Speaking of deep fields, Pete and I are pretty excited about the crew that will be assembling May 12 right here in Fort Collins for the Quad Rock 50. In the men's race we've got the JFK 50 record holder coming out to test his chops on a mountain 50 as he gets ready for Western States in June. He'll be up against last year's top U.S. finisher at UTMB, the third place finisher from this year's Way Too Cool and American River, and a host of Front Range speedsters who know the trails well. My money's on Burch, but I've been wrong before.

We've got a strong women's race too, with PI teammate Becky Wheeler perhaps the favorite on paper, but I'm betting she'll be pushed hard by Steamboat 50 winner Jenny Pierce, recent Salida winner Leila DeGrave, and some local Fort Collins women who are probably too modest to want to be named. My money's on Steph Lynn - pretty sure I've got that one right.

But it's not all about the front of the pack. Hell no, it's about the personal challenge. We've put together a tough course with a challenging cut-off, but we're betting that anyone with the requisite determination and mental fortitude will be able to get it done if they really want to. Pete went out and ran the full monty a couple of weekends ago (in the midst of 700-mile month). Based on his experience, he put together a 14-hour pacing plan. Check it out. And then come out next Saturday and run the loop for yourselves on the 'official course preview.' We'll have lots of local runners on hand (who may or may not know where they're going), which means good company at a range of different paces.

Wish I could be there for that one, but I'll be out getting my hide whooped in wine country USA

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Week Ending April 1

Mon - 10 miles (3,000') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Soderberg - Rock - Horsetooth summit - Audra - Southridge - Rock - Wathan - Spring Creek - Soderberg. 

Tues - AM: 11 miles intervals. Cemetery/City Park workout with a small group. Workout was: mile, 2x800, mile, 2x800, 2 mile. Looked like I was going to be working by myself, then Mike showed up after the first (lazy) mile and started pushing the pace on me. Ended up being a bit of a weird session with splits all over the place: 5:34, 2:36, 2:39, 5:11, 2:41, 2:39, 11:06 (5:33).
PM: 7 miles (1,700') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Soderberg - Rock - Southridge - Soderberg. Sore in the groin, hip and lower back - which is never a good sign - but okay after 20 minutes or so.

Weds - 10 miles (3,000') easy. Falls - Spring Creek - Soderberg - Rock - Horsetooth summit - Audra - Southridge - Rock - Wathan - Spring Creek - Soderberg. Tired the whole way around. No second run today.

Thurs - AM: 12 miles (3,700') Horsetooth Hell Repeats. This is perhaps the workout I fear most in the whole world. It's (not that) short, (not that) sharp, incredibly painful, and never seems to end. Start point for each interval is a mile up the Soderberg service drive where it connects with the Horsetooth trail. Quarter mile is at the first big rock, just before the (very) slight downhill; half mile is at the tree about six strides beyond the top of the quad-killing railroad-tie stairs; 3/4 is at the memorial/intersection with Southridge; mile is at the second intersection with Southridge (route goes right at first intersection). The workout goes:

3 x 1/4 mile (+185')
2 x 1/2 mile (+380')
1 x 3/4 mile (+550')
1 x mile (+680') + top out on Rock
Had Tri-Sam and Mike to work with for these, which helped keep the effort honest. Doing different variations of the same concept were Pete, Victoria, Kristel, Mary and Steph, so a good early morning group. Didn't feel like I was going to have much, but ended up running all splits faster than the three previous times I've done this workout. Times, with Oct.'11 (abbreviated workout), August '11 & April '11 in parentheses for comparison:

2:33 (44, 42, 40), 2:29 (44, 41, 44), 2:31 (39, 38, 45)
5:19 (40, 42, 44), 5:26 (43, 38, 49)
8:26 (50, 40, 59)
11:00 (28, 41)

So those splits are significantly better than last year, which is encouraging. I can't say I felt particularly sharp, but the beauty of running known routes/workouts is that the watch doesn't lie. Based on the above splits, I should be PR'ing on Towers, which I am not, so I'm a little confused right now but I'll take the good news where I can get it.
PM: 7 miles social run with 4:59 downhill trail mile at the end.

Fri - AM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth summit. Up Southridge/Audra, down Rock. 
PM: 3.5 miles (1,500') peakbaggin'. 'Sullivan Stump' (7,778'). I was done with work projects by the early afternoon, the sun was shining and the kids were with their mother-in-law, so I zipped out to the Big Thompson for a run up Sullivan Gulch to go tag ranked peak 7,778' (41 down, 214 to go).
Sullivan Stump (7,778') from top Sullivan Gulch
From the little-known Sullivan Gulch TH, a mile or two past Drake on the right (very easy to miss), it's a little under 1.5 miles and 1,300' to the top of Sullivan Stump, a summit with commanding views of surrounding peaks and a great line of sight down the Big Thompson Canyon. It took about 20 minutes to get to the top, so this is one you can easily sneak in on your way up to Estes Park, if you've got 40 minutes or so to spare. The trail up to the Sullivan Gulch saddle is about a mile and 1,000 feet of climbing and then there is decent trod most of the way to the summit from there. Came back to the saddle and followed the Sullivan Gulch trail into Sullivan Park to the north with the intention of intersecting the Crosier Mountain trail, but the trail petered out to nothing and I couldn't be bothered bushwhacking to find the Crosier trail, but I got some good bearings and am pretty sure I'll be able to find it next time. Fun little outing.
Some local favorites: Signal, Lookout, Crosier Mtns.

Palisade Mtn. down the Big T
Longs Peak Up the Big T

Looking down at the Big T from Sullivan Stump
Sat - AM: 22 miles steady. Got up super early to squeeze in some miles on a busy day. Ran the bike paths to max mileage on minimum time. Wasted 10 minutes waiting for Sarah, who'd slept through her alarm, but ended up meeting her coming the other way a few miles in. No watch, but probably in the 6:40 zone for the first few, then high 6:50s for the next 10 or 11 miles with Sarah before she cut things short on Shields. Dropped it back down to probably 6:30s for the last 7 or 8, and felt decent, if not great.
PM: 5 miles (1,000') super easy. Falls loop at sundown.
January: 330 miles (45,200')
February: 445 miles (58,500')
March: 501.5 (79,600')
Total: 1,276.5 miles (183,300')
Avg: 425.5 miles (61,100')

2012 Ranked Summits: 
Horsetooth (22)
Green Mountain (7,335')
7,098' (Poll Mtn range)
Goat Hill
Reservoir Ridge
7,260' (Ziggy Point)
8,415' (Leila Peak)
Mount Ethel
Buckhorn Mountain
5,740' (1)
5,740' (2)
Table Mountain (7,074')
5,773' or 'Aggie Peak'
Green Ridge (7,402')
Spruce Mountain (7,781')
Storm Mountain (9,918')
Sullivan Stump (7,778')

Sun - AM: 10.5 miles steady on the bike paths before the final T&H of the season.
AM (2): 5 miles (1,500') Horsetooth summit
. Stopped off on the way back from the T&H and grabbed a quick summit. Stitch from a fat stomach (2 bagels, 2 big cups coffee).
PM: 5 miles (1,500') easy
. Lily Mountain (9,786'). Went up to Estes Park with the family for the afternoon. Parked up at Lily Lake and then ran down to the Lily Mtn TH for a quick summit, while Dana, the kids and M-in-L enjoyed a nice stroll around the lake. It's just two miles to the top from the TH, with nearly all the climbing (1,000') in the last mile and the trail steepening up nicely toward the summit, which requires a bit of hands-on-rock action to get to the top of. The views west and north to The Divide are unsurpassed. The view of the Mummy Range in particular is quite fantastic and the complete Mummy Mania line is easy to pick out. As two-mile summits go, this one is pretty spectacular. Back to Lily Lake within an hour for a bit of jogging with Alistair before heading into town to feed our faces. Great day.

Total: 115 miles (18,700')

We've already had our first major fire of the season ... in March. This dry weather is really making me quite nervous. Here's hoping for major April moisture.

Fun and games next Saturday on Round Mountain for anyone who is interested. The Round Mountain ladder is a 30 mile, 10,000 foot beast of a training run, but the way we have it set up makes for a really fun and social morning. If you're going to grind yourself into the ground on a training run, then this is one of the more enjoyable ways of doing it.

Sad news out of NM yesterday. Rest in peace, Micah!