Monday, August 27, 2012

Week Ending August 26

Mon - Off 

Tues - Off 

Weds - Off

Thurs - 8 miles (1,800') easy. Ran the Towers TT at a very moderate effort to the halfway, then picked up the pace just a notch as I started to warm up. 35 and change, I think. Descent was a little sore on my right hip, and legs in general, but nonetheless things are looking good for a speedy Leadville recovery.

Fri - 9.5 miles (3,000') easy. Round Mountain. Met Steph and Mary at the Round TH for a late afternoon run to the summit. Half a mile in, Steph and I stopped in our tracks 15 meters behind a big 200 pound bear who was sauntering down the trail. Bear heard Steph pull up, looked back and then casually headed up the hillside. By the time Mary caught up, the bear was a good 50 feet above us and we carried on our way. Second bear sighting in the last two outings on Round. Always a bonus. Bears aside, the moderate-effort ascent (57:05) felt descent, while the descent was just okay, but noticeably better than yesterday on Towers.

Sat - 3.5 miles (800') hike. Ranked Peak 8,194' - aka 'Giant Boulder Point.' Had plans to scout the tricky 5.7 west ridge of Pagoda with Brian, but he bailed the night before with a sore knee, so I enjoyed a fun little hike with the family instead. It's been a while since I checked in with the Larimer County high points project, so I decided to bag a nice easy one as part of our hike. The start point for this hike is off the Devil's Gulch Road past Glen Haven and just before the first of the two big S-bends that take you to the plateau above Estes. As described by Joe Grim on the Lists of John site, you essentially head under the three powerline transformers on the north side of the road (parking at a pull-off on the south side), following an old dirt road for 20-30 meters before picking up a faint trail to the left. We followed the trail for probably a mile or so, before cutting cross country up a drainage. Dana and Stella hung out in a nice spot on the ridge, while Alistair and I ran west along the ridge tagging two bumps along the way until we hit the actual summit block. Gaining the top of the summit rock requires some class III climbing, which was a lot of fun for Alistair, but really quite straightforward. The views from the top were exceptional for such a lowly peak. Longs was framed beautifully by a hole in the ridgeline to the south, while the Mummy's and more were impressively clear to the north and west. After a couple of summit shots, and signing in on the Lists of John member-studded log book, Alistair and I boogied back to the girls, packed up their picnic and made quick work of the exit, stopping for delicious cinnamon buns at the 100-year-old Glen Haven general store on our way down the canyon. Fun morning.

Ranked Peak 8,194'. Photo: Brandon Reich (from Lists of John).

Sun - 6 miles (2,800') peak baggin'. 8,310' & 7,567'. Enthused by yesterday's outing, I decided to pick up a few more of Larimer County's 255 ranked peaks, focusing again on the Big Thompson area. I had meant to knock off 8,092' with the other two this morning, but as is often the case with these bushwhacking routes, things frequently move much slower than planned. Anyway, with these two picked off, I only have two of 10 peaks left to bag in the Drake quadrangle: 8,092' and Pole Hill.

To get on 8,310', I drove about two miles up the tight Waltonia Road south off Hwy 34 to approximately 6,900' where the road dead ends at a private gate. I parked there and then ducked under the gate before heading in a southeasterly direction straight up the hillside, crossing one drainage and then following another to the ridge. There was some fun class three/four rock moves to be made approaching the ridge. Once on the ridge, the grade mellowed out and it was an easy, grassy jog to the rock pile at the summit. To my surprise, there was a pill box summit register at the top, which described the summit as 8,240'. This had me confused, especially as I could find nothing on the map suggesting an 8,240' peak in the vicinity. I'm 99% certain that I was on 8,310' as intended. After figuring the lay of the land on the south side of Round Mountain, I proceeded in a southeasterly direction for unranked point 7,812' along the ridge that forms the south side of a valley with the Round Mountain ridge to the north. From 7,812' I dropped down to Saddle Notch, following an old undeveloped homesite road to the road that services a couple of impressive houses down in the Round Mtn Saddle Notch Valley. Then it was just a question of crossing the road and hoofing the 400 or 500 feet up to 7,567'. No summit register that I could find, but there was a definitive summit rock pile. I essentially backtracked the way I had come, deciding to leave 8,092' for another day due to time constraints, which was a bummer, but my fault for being lazy and not getting up earlier. Just 210 more ranked Larimer summits to tag! 

Total: 27 miles (8,400')

Nice easy week finding my legs after Leadville. It was good to be back ticking off peaks in the Larmier County project. I look forward to really getting back into that once I'm done with UROC. I'm also looking forward to taking a stab at the Glacier Gorge Traverse next weekend, but am a little nervous about the Pagoda west ridge section from Chiefs Head. That section will have to be a game-time decision for me as I've never seen it before, but all indications suggest that there's no avoiding a couple of very airy 5.6/.7 crux sections, without dropping all the way down and re-climbing. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fortnight Ending August 19

Week Ending August 12

Mon - Off 

Tues - 5.5 track. 8 x 200 @ 31-33. Yup, that's how to get ready for a 100 miler.

Weds - 5 miles easy in town on the bike paths

Thurs - 10 miles (2,000') steady. Towers in 31:01. Started out at a moderate effort, than picked it up from the halfway. Good tempo effort. 

Friday - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth middle summit. First time I've been up the middle tooth, as it happens. There's a nice big crack in the east face, which made things a little easier than I was expecting. A couple of low fifth class moves required, but really pretty straightforward.

Saturday - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth north summit.

Sunday - 8.5 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth south summit. Nice little Horsetooth trifecta over the last three days to build some mountain karma for Leadville.

Total: 43 miles (7,400')

Week Ending August 19 

Mon - 4 miles easy to two-mile fence and back on Bluesky.

Tues - 4 miles (800') easy with Torrence on roads up from Leadville house.

Weds - 4.5 miles easy around lake by Leadville house.

Thurs - 3.5 miles (1,300') hiking. West Mount Sheridan (12,952'). Alistair and I drove up to 11,600' on some old mining roads and then hiked up to the summit of West Sheridan Mountain. This was a super-fun outing and Alistair's highest climbed peak to date (he's taken the cog & also driven up to the top of Pikes but that doesn't count for anything). The log book on top was from 1980 (!), with very few entries. Alistair and I got our names in there and enjoyed the killer views of Gemini, Sherman and Sheridan right in the heart of the Mosquitoes. Sometimes it's fun to get on the less-traveled peaks, especially when you find a log book with a 32-year vintage. On the way down, we had tons of fun rummaging through a couple of old mining sites. Proud of the young man, and hoping we can tag a 13'er and then a 14'er together before the summer season is over.
Oldest log I've ever found on a summit.
Alistair running to West Sheridan summit. Sherman in the backdrop.
Putting back the log.
Fri - 2.5 miles easy around the lake with Ian, Tinder and Emily.

Sat - 102.5 miles (17,400') racin'. Leadville 100.

Sun - Off.

Total: 121 miles (19,500') 

Nice easy two week lead up to Leadville with just 60 miles of pretty leisurely running. Recovery post the race has been about the best of I have ever had after a 100 miler, and I already find myself champing at the bit to get out and make the most of the remainder of the summer, before maybe burning some longer road runs in preparation for the UROC 100k in five weeks. Pretty sure that will do it for me in terms of ultra races in 2012.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Leadville 100

The Leadville 2012 start. Photo: Rob Timko
There is no such thing as an easy 100; I am now convinced of it. I thought Leadville would play to my strengths, but nah, it broke me just as much as the next one.

In the moment, each and every one of these ridiculous events seem to suck just as much - if not more - that the last one, but yet we never come to that realization until it's too late, until we are committed to the pointless road to the finish. It makes no sense. The pain is so tangible, the desire to quit so real, and yet we find a way to gloss over it all and repaint with bright colors and sweet smelling tales of absurdity. Maybe it's the human condition to commit ourselves to tasks of complete and utter pointlessness - I certainly wouldn't be the first to suggest such a thing - and there is compelling evidence in the sport of ultrarunning that this is the case. And so you process these thoughts and continue moving forward. You find ways to finish what you've started, just so you can sit down at the end of the day feeling wrecked and abused. That's how I felt Saturday afternoon as I was ever so slowly making my way up towards Hope Pass for the second time in less than two hours. 

Then it dawned on me that the Slushmeister - my pacer and good friend - was having a merry old time on the mountain. He seemed to think, or at least pretend, that there was some kind of reason to all of this. We were involved in a race and I needed to do everything in my power to win it - or at least not fall apart too tragically. And so I played along, using the energy-conservation card as an excuse for hiking every single step to the top of the pass. Scott bought it, and even encouraged it. I'd like to say that I at least hiked with some kind of authority, but in all honesty it was a pretty miserable effort. But I digress. One should always start from the beginning - not the middle - and then conclude with the end. That's how stories go.

I had been dreading the start of the Leadville 100 for days, weeks, even months. After you've done enough of these torturous events, you know that the fairy tales you tell yourself on comfortable 20 mile training runs are nothing more than endorphinated pipe dreams. There is no way in hell you're going to come down Sixth Street with the sun blazing, angels singing, and the clock just ticking over to a thoroughly impressive 15:30 course record. The reality of it is that you're going to turn onto Sixth with a mile to the finish and it will seem like you still have a marathon to go. Your stomach will be a mess, your legs will be screaming, and you'll have given up caring - many hours ago - about the vacuous goals you'd set in a previous (positive) life. It just won't matter anymore.

The top three, as it turned out.

Sharing some laughs and pretending that this one wouldn't hurt.
Despite the dread, there I was with 800 other fools ready to get this day started. The 1:41 course record pace down to May Queen felt subliminally easy. But that is standard operating procedure at Leadville. There was no reason to stop at May Queen with the pre-dawn being so cool and fluid needs so minimal.

Negotiating the singletrack in the dark, the only way to tell who was on board was by the banter. Jay was worried about the Olympian peeing on his Armani button-down shirt, Thomas was rugby tackling Zeke, Tony was banging on about arm panties, the Fruitarian about trail tourism and me about dead headlights. By the time we popped out onto the Haggerman Road for the trip up to Haggerman Pass, the sun was just beginning to illuminate matters. The pack was down to five. Who exactly was pushing the pace was uncertain, but with a 3:05 split to the Fish Hatchery, things on paper seemed fast.

The 3:05 Express, running ahead of schedule.
The transition through Fish Hatchery was by the playbook - just how Dana and I had drawn it up the day before on our little aid station scouting run. She took my empty bottle, my light and my stink-infested cold-weather gear, while I scooted through the check-in, picking up my First Endurance trucker hat, sunglasses and fresh bottle from Dana on the return leg of the aid station U-turn. And she got it all done with a toddler attached to her hip. Give that woman a belt buckle!

Photos: Timko
And then we hit the road; Tony and I now with a lead of a few meters over Zeke, Thomas and Mike. 'Retarded' was, I believe, how Tony described our pace up to that point. Given that he'd run the event four times before, I took note and slowed it down a notch. Tony said he was going to jog the whole way to the next aid station. Zeke seemed to be on board with that plan, while Thomas and Mike forged on ahead. I ended up somewhere in the middle for the next five or six miles. That was about how long it took to lose sight of Mike and Thomas, although I would occasionally see Mike stopped and waiting for Thomas to catch up; he seemed a little nervous about building a lead.

Get me off this road!
Zeke dropped back and Tony caught up, declaring his need for a mountain to summit. The Mount Elbert option was there, but he didn't take it. I let Tony go after a mile or two on the Colorado Trail, while enjoying some of the best and most scenic running the course had to offer. By Twin Lakes, I was a reported five or six minutes back from the lead three. As planned, I went straight through the aid station and met my crew at the last picnic table before the meadow. A bit of this, a bit of that and a clearance of gravel from the shoes and it was off up the pass.

I found some good energy on the first third of the mountain, running essentially everything, but then proceeded to get lazy after convincing myself that running a third of the mountain was plenty adequate for this stage of the race, with any more possibly spelling disaster for later in the run. Ah, the games we play. But this was the first hike break in 40+ miles of running, so perhaps it was warranted.

Given that my hiking was largely decent and somewhat convincing, I felt like I might be clawing back some time on Thomas and Mike, if not Tony. I was eager to get a view of things as I broke above timberline. From the Hopeless aid station I could see Thomas making his way up to the pass and, to my surprise, Mike was behind him. He looked like he might be heading for the casualty list - the first one of our lead pack of five to submit. In that short distance from the aid station to the pass, I made up ground very quickly on Mike and by the first switchback of the descent I was going past him. His day from a competitive standpoint looked to be over. I offered some shallow advice (what else can you do?) and forged on with what felt like a pretty good descent to the new contour trail.   

Ah, yes, the new contour trail. Much moaning about the added mileage and vertical, but it came and it went. I timed the Winfield turnaround cheers for the lead two at 15 minutes and 13 minutes respectively. Both Tony and Thomas looked strong as I passed them coming back the other way, and given that I was now beginning to feel pretty gassed, I was mainly concerned with just getting the job done and finishing this ridiculous thing. But I hadn't considered the Slush factor. He had his stoke on and he wanted to get after it.

Given Scott's energy levels, I couldn't start him out with a hike back up the Winfield road, and so we ran. I did, however, forewarn him that we were hiking every step up Hope once we got off the contour trail and to the base of the climb. As noted previously, he was on board with the plan. We passed Zeke on our return at what looked to be about an 8-10 minute gap, and then it was a long way back to fifth.

The climb back up Hope on the far steeper south side felt pathetically slow. It was no surprise to me whatsoever that Zeke was just a few minutes back on us once we crested the hump, but seeing my good friend Alex May moving well over the pass and seemingly in good spirits was uplifting enough for me to want to get back after it, even if I could feel my stomach beginning its typical back-half revolution.

I knew I was pretty much on fluids from here on in. I gulped Coke at the Hopeless aid station and then let Scott clear a path as we bombed our way down the hill. Scott was clearly having fun with the descent and was undoubtedly the right man for the task at hand. LOOKING GOOD, RUNNER COMING THROUGH. The shout-outs coming down were insane. To see so many familiar faces was a joy - to those of you that I missed, I apologize, but I'm sure Scott had some fine words for you.

And then we hit the flat, exposed meadows before Twin Lakes. Deflation. Nonetheless, this meant that I was 60 miles in with just two climbs left. Dana was there at Twin Lakes with the kids and some aid station goodies. I slipped on the new Pearl Izumi E-Motion M2s and instantly my feet thanked me. These will certainly be my shoe of choice when they go into full production in spring 2013.

Photos: Eric Lee
The scene in Twin Lakes as I was leaving with Justin was off the charts. PI was there with a big ole' tent and the crowds up to the aid station were wall to wall. Nonetheless, I told Justin to get ready to hike the majority of the way back up to the South Mount Elbert trailhead. He was on board and pushing the calories. I managed to get some Gu Chomps down and found that the climb was a little less severe than expected, meaning that we jogged out a fair bit more than I'd planned.

Photo: Timko
Justin paced me to about the best finish I've ever had in a 100 miler back in the 'Unbreakable' Western States of 2010. I closed a 50 minute deficit on King Kilian in the last 20 miles that day, pushed the whole way by Justin. On Saturday, he picked me up with a 30-35 minute gap to close on Tony and 20 minutes on Thomas. Racing was not where my head was, but it was certainly where Justin's was.

The guys at the Mount Elbert fluid station told us that we were no more than 10 minutes behind Thomas. I dismissed that as total bunk, as we hadn't been moving nearly well enough to have closed that much. Nonetheless, I downed a can of cold Coke and we proceeded to get after it. The section from there to Half Pipe was easily my best of the day. I was breaking down and barely getting enough calories in, but was somehow managing to stay loose enough to run pretty much everything with a good degree of authority. I was worried about energy levels down the road though. Nothing sounded good to my stomach.

And then we met the trail angels taking a break on the Colorado Trail. They had cherries. Never, in my whole life had anything sounded so good. They could sense my stoke and they gave me the whole bag. I ate about half of them as quickly as possible over the next quarter mile. And then the magic wore off and the cherries were placed on the banned substance list along with everything else.

'Four minutes.' That was the reported gap at Half Pipe. It seemed like Thomas was cracking. But then it was 15 minutes (Tony) and 12 minutes (Thomas) two miles later at Treeline. Regardless, we were definitely closing. And then we hit the road and all life was immediately sucked out of the rally. Wind, sun and long-ass road vistas did a number on me. We slowed considerably by the time we got to Fish Hatchery, but the math still seemed to be in our favor, and it was now pretty clear that Tony was in trouble, just 10 minutes ahead of me and two minutes behind Thomas - now the leader.

Getting ready to run the last 23 with the Epic Stoke Machine. Photo: Slusher.
To say that Dylan was ready to roll would be an understatement. I told him what I had told Scott and Justin upon leaving the aid station - we were hiking the climb, no ifs, ands or buts about it. At the top of the first raise on Powerline we saw someone. Dylan thought it was Tony, but it was a photographer. Seven minutes he told us. It seemed like the pass for second was just a matter of time now. And then we looked back and saw Zeke a quarter mile back.

There I was, once again, stuck in this odd third-place time warp. I could sense that Zeke was moving better than me, that we'd catch Tony soon enough, and that Thomas was probably juiced enough about leading to be able to hang on. Dylan was trying every trick in the book to get calories in me, but I just couldn't do it. My stomach was riding the line. Any solids and it would have been chunks, but liquids I could just about consume. Dylan (to his immense credit) had three options for me: Coke, EFS sports drink and water. I stuck to mainly EFS and Coke and so we shuffled on.

'A little jogging?' Dylan would prompt as Zeke got ever closer up the Powerline climb. We jogged a bit, I got some spasms in my calf, we hiked. But we made it to the top of the climb before Zeke. And immediately we saw Tony. I laughed inwardly at the situation. I was about to take second only to hand it back in the next mile or two to a charging Zeke. The downs were still working okay for me though, so I was able to hold off Zeke until just before the turn onto the Colorado Trail. I was even able to keep him in sight for a good third of it. And then he was gone and I came to terms with my predicament.

I couldn't get enough calories in to mount a charge, so I had to play defense and maintain what I had, which was a podium finish and possibly a sub-17 clocking. Dana looked concerned when I arrived at May Queen - you know you're in trouble when your wife looks at you like that. I took some time at the aid station, unconcerned about Zeke and his three-minute lead. I ate a couple of salted potatoes and washed them down with a couple of shots of Coke. Dylan wanted to get after it - I was just plain tired and desperately wanting to be done. But there were 13 long miles still left to cover.

All things considered, the torturous trip around Turquoise Lake went surprisingly well, with just a few short hike breaks on a couple of the steeper rollers to recharge the fading batteries. By Tabor, Zeke was no more than seven minutes up we were told, which meant that we'd been largely holding our own. I was still getting some EFS down, but I had no competitive drive left in me. The course had ground it all out of me long ago. There were cheers behind that were worrying, but made no sense, as we progressed through the campgrounds. Surely Tony wasn't mounting a charge. The cheers were enough to keep me running though.

Six or seven miles to go. Turquoise essentially done. Photo: Slush

We hit the Matchless parking lot and saw the family and crew. Scott said third was in the bag and that Tony was 15 minutes back at May Queen. I was still paranoid about those cheers though. Two miles later and four miles from the finish, just before the Boulevard turn, a car stopped and the guy inside informed us that he'd waited 17 minutes at Tabor and nobody had come through. Boom, just like that I made the executive decision that we'd be hiking the whole of the Boulevard. There was nothing left to play for and nothing left to defend. Yes, I could have run for the sub-17 (and in hindsight I wish I had), but I was just so done with running at this point that a nice three-mile stroll on a beautiful Leadville evening was where I wanted to be.

Dylan and I chatted a good bit and then I started getting nauseous again. The roller coaster was apparently not quite over. With a mile and half to go, I was once again fighting off the chunder monkey. We hiked absolutely everything, with the exception of one very short downhill stretch, until we were overlooking the finish on Sixth. Slusher and Stefanovic were there and jogged down the road with me. Some girls joined the parade, there was Justin and Dana, Stella and Alistair. The glow of the finish line clock turned into distinct numbers, and then, finally, I was done. Third again.

I was so done, about as done as I've ever been at the end of one of these ridiculous races.
The two man 'get me to the finish' 100 mile stare.

So good.
Thank the sweet baby Jesus. Where's the chair?
Just a few of the Fort Collins Trail Runners in town for the weekend.

So enough of this melodrama. Yeah, it was a long-drawn-out day, but I'm sure others had it worse than I. And what the hell? In the final analysis we choose to inflict this pain on ourselves, so we should probably just shut up and quit boring people with the details.

Thanks, of course, to everyone who had a hand in my day, and congratulations to everyone who found a way to reach their own personal finish lines on Saturday and Sunday. One hundred miles in one push hurts; it takes conviction and dedication to get it done, and those, I believe, are traits worth celebrating.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Week Ending August 5

Mon - Off. Rental business and work all day.

Tues - 5 miles track. mile, 8x 400: 5:36, 2:42, 2:36, 2:41, 2:39. No warm-up whatsoever for this workout, so eased into the mile and then cruised the 800s. Tired from a very busy extended weekend of turning rental properties around.

January: 330 miles (45,200')
February: 445 miles (58,500')
March: 501.5 (79,600')
April: 430 (66,800')
May: 387.5 (70,700')
June: 297.5 (48,500') 
July: 369 (71,100')

Total: 2,760.5 miles (440,400')
Avg: 394.5 miles (62,914')

2012 Summits (110)
Horsetooth (7,255') (51 - Aug 5)
Mount Elbert (14,443')
Longs Peak (2) (14,259')
Mount Belford (2) (14,197')
Mount Oxford (14,153')
Missouri Mountain (14,067')
Pacific Peak (13,950')
Emerald Peak (13,904')
Crystal Peak (13,852')
Atlantic Peak (13,841')
Iowa Peak (13,831')
Hagues Peak (2) (13,571')
Ypsilon Mountain (13,514')
Fairchild Mountain (13,502')
Mummy Mountain (13,425')
Pecks Peak (13,277')
Whitney Peak (13,271')
Mount Chiquita (13,069')
Mount Chapin (12,454') 
Twin Sisters (11,420')
Mount Baldy (11,068')
Hidden Peak (10,992') (2)
Lookout Mountain (10,626')
Storm Mountain (9,918')
Lily Mountain (9,786')
Crosier Mountain (9,250') (4)
Pilot Hill (8,829')
Mount Ethel (8,471')
8,415' (Leila Peak)
Buckhorn Mountain (8,341')
Round Mountain (8,250') (2)
Spruce Mountain (7,781')
Sullivan Stump (7,778')
Green Ridge (7,402')
Green Mountain (7,335')
7,260' (Ziggy Point)
7,098' (Poll Mtn range)
Table Mountain (7,074')
Arthurs Rock (6,780') (5)
Palisade Mountain (8,225')
Milner Mountain (6,893')
Alexander Mountain (8,144')
5,773' or 'Aggie Peak'
5,740' (Hwy 34 B4 Narrows) (1)
5,740' (Off Masonville Rd) (2)
Reservoir Ridge (5,735')
Goat Hill (5,604')
Aitxuri (1,551 meters) 
Aizkorri (1,528 meters)
Aratz (1,443 meters)

Weds - Noon: 7.5 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth summit. Southridge/Audra.
PM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Falls loop.

Thurs - AM: 13 miles (900') easy
. Redstone out and back with Alex and Danny.
Noon: 3 miles (600') easy. Bench loop.
PM: 7.5 miles easy with FCTR crew.

Fri - Noon: 3 miles (600') easy
. Bench loop.
PM: 10 miles (700') easy. From Brandon's house in Leadville. Late run with Mike and Nick P down to Turquoise Lake campgrounds and then back up into town before returning to Brandon's. Up-tempo pace felt good.

Sat - AM: 16.5 miles (8,300')
mountains. Missouri (14,067'), Iowa (13,831'), Emerald (13,904'), Belford (14,197'), Oxford (14,153'), Belford (14,197'), Pecks Peak (13,277').

For those into Colorado 14'ers - or Colorado mountains in general - the triumvirate of Missouri, Oxford and Belford are something of a classic given their tight proximity to one another and ease of route negotiation. Mike suggested we get them done in combination with some surrounding 13'ers, and while that would make our day a long one (with 21 miles of running planned for the evening session), I wasn't about to give up a rare weekend of bachelorhood by sitting around twiddling my thumbs.

With Pedatella on board as well, the three of us set out from the Missouri Gulch trailhead a little before 7:00am, taking the standard route to the summit of Missouri with a mix of running and hiking. Half way up Missouri, it was apparent that Mike and Nick were up for a slightly mellower pace on the morning than I was, meaning my outing was punctuated with some good breaks on the peaks and passes. Missouri came and went quickly, and it was just a quick bop from there to Iowa Peak - not much more than a bump on the ridge running south from Missouri. The extension on to Emerald Peak - a more prominent and 'sexy' summit than Iowa - was a little more consequential to reach in terms of effort output, but still not much more than a steep talus-slope walk up. From Iowa, we assessed our options and decided on a straight-line route across Pine Creek Basin towards Elkhead Pass. As it turned out the scree/talus sidehilling was pretty miserable, and a far superior option would have been to lose some extra elevation and traverse on the grassy flats of the basin. Next time.

From Elkhead Pass, we were back on trail and it was quick going up to Belford. In well under an hour of foot time we were back on Belford - after an Oxford out and back - debating the worthiness of tagging Pecks Peak, which we could essentially descend to by following Belford's northern ridge for a mile or so. We finally managed to convince Pedatella of the glory the extra peak would add to the day and set off to round out the six peak, seven summit morning. Once the grassy bump was negotiated, it was a steep descent back down to the Missouri Gulch trail and then no more than a couple of miles and 2,000 feet down to the trailhead. Total outing time was a casual seven and a quarter hours; moving time was significantly less. A little creek action for the legs and a generous serving of Ultragen recovery nectar and the legs were ready for the evening session.

Top Missouri, Iowa (above my head) and Emerald (above Nick P's head) in background. All photos: Mike H.
Top Iowa.

Emerald approach.

Iowa, Missouri, Pine Creek Basin, Elkhead Pass, Belford.
Top Belford.
Top Oxford.

Oxford, Belford saddle from Pecks Peak.
PM: 21 miles (2,500') easy. Night run from Fish Hatchery to Brandon's house (near the Leadville finish) on the last 20 miles (or so) of the LT100 course. I had little to no desire to run these miles, but with the big-group dynamics it was pretty much a gimme run. Predictably enough, the last few miles around Turquoise Lake were interminably tedious, but far less so than I'm sure will be the case in two weeks. Thanks to Brandon for opening his house and making this happen - and indeed for putting us up the whole weekend.

Sun: 8.5 miles (4,300') mountains.
Crystal Peak (13,852'), Pacific Peak (13,950'), Atlantic Peak (13,841').

After a late start and much hemming and haa'ing, Mike, Andy Gisler and I finally decided on a little Coast to Coast action in the Mosquito Range. From the Mayflower Gulch trailhead off Hwy 91, this route was a worthy way to wait out Sunday's eastbound I-70 traffic. Given the previous day's exertions, my legs were predictably unenthused at the prospect of additional mileage and vertical, but once off the tedious talus approach to Crystal Peak and with a summit in sight, things starting clicking and I was able to move reasonably efficiently. The views of the ten-mile range from Crystal were most excellent, and worthy alone of the effort. Mike decided he was done for the weekend with the Crystal summit, leaving Andy and me to forge on and knock out Pacific and Atlantic. With my legs on board and engaged, we made short work of the not-insubstantial climb up the Pacific ridge from the Crystal saddle and then it was a pretty straightforward traverse and climb to Atlantic Peak. The standard way off Atlantic to Mayflower Gulch is to descend the west ridge into the Crystal Creek drainage, but a steeper and more direct 1,000'+ scree descent down off the ridge into Mayflower Gulch looked negotiable, so we hit that and were soon on the jeep road on our way back down to the trailhead. Mike was there with beers at the ready to celebrate a fine weekend in the high alpine and the beginning of the Leadville 100 taper.

East from Crystal, Pacific saddle. Helen and Father Dyer on ridge to left.
Top Atlantic with ten-mile behind.
Pacific, with Quandry back left.
Total: 101 miles (20,700') 

Well this turned out to be a much bigger week than I would normally look to push out two weeks from a goal race, but given that I had a free weekend away from parental and spousal duties I wasn't about to give it up. And, wow, all systems appear to be go. All 10 of the weekend's 13,000'+ summits came pretty easy, and while Saturday night's long run was a bit of a slog, it could certainly have been worse given the seven hours of vert and mileage in the morning session.

This was a huge confidence builder of a weekend. Rest and relaxation from here until the Leadville start line.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Week Ending July 29

Mon - Noon: 8.5 miles (800') easy. Milner Mountain Loop with O&B to one mile marker in Redstone Canyon. A bit of gunk in the legs from the weekend. Heat!
PM: 3 miles (600') easy. Quick bench loop before dinner to try and work out some of the soreness.

Tues - Noon: 5 miles (1,000') steady. Falls loop. Legs much better today. Floating in extreme heat (for this Englishman).
PM - 7.5 miles track. Tuesday Night Track workout was 1,200 open, then 12 x 300. Warmed up with a mile and half, but still didn't have much appetite for the opening 1,200, the first half of which I essentially jogged. The 300s were okay; the pain is short-lived and recovery is quick. 100 meter jog between 300s: 4:11, 57, 56, 57, 56, 56, 56, 56, 56, 55, 52, 56, 55.

Weds - Noon: 10.5 miles (2,600) easy. With Mike H to Horsetooth summit (Southridge/Audra) with a stop at top of Audra to wait out heavy rainfall, lightning and thunder. Then Westridge - Towers - Spring Creek - Falls - Falls Trail.
PM: 3 miles (600') easy. Bench loop.

Thurs - Noon: 3 miles (600') easy. Bench loop.
PM: 9.5 miles (2,000') Towers steady. 32:53. Eased into this effort and kept things at a pretty moderate effort all the way up. Corrie brought out a high school contingent from Thompson Valley, which was a fun diversion from their usual training I'm sure. The girls failed to time themselves, but I'm guessing a couple of them ran it pretty quick. Fastest guy was Caleb in just under 32 mins, which I think is a high school best on the hill. Legs felt moderate to good, so hoping I'll have something to work with at Speedgoat.

Friday - Off. Driving or working most of the day.

Saturday - 32.5 miles (11,200') race. Speedgoat 50k. Race report to come.

Sunday - 4 miles (700') easy. Just a bit of jogging around Snowbird before the drive home. Felt fine for the most part, but wasn't really into it, so cut things short. 

Total: 86.5 miles (20,100') 

This ended up being a lower mileage week than planned, so I'll look to cut the taper for Leadville to two weeks and hopefully put in 90-100 miles this week. With that in mind, I shut things down at about the halfway point at Speedgoat after it was evident that I wasn't going to be in contention for a top-five finish - which was a goal going in. Jogging the last two descents there means that my legs have been feeling great this week. I'm looking forward to some big mileage up in Leadville this weekend, capped hopefully with a fun day of peak-bagging on Sunday. I'll shut things down pretty aggressively from there for the last two weeks before Leadville, with mainly flat running and a couple of good tempo workouts.