Monday, January 28, 2013

Week Ending Jan 27

Mon - AM: 16.5 miles (3,700') steady with Burch. From my house we went: Horsetooth (Rock/XC/Audra), ridge scramble to Westridge, Secret, Towers, Mill Creek, Arthurs Link, Arthurs summit, Arthurs TH, Valley, 38e, Grim Reaper (WS100 version), home. Started out at a casual pace for the Horsetooth summit, then scrambled the true ridge over to the middle of Westridge before picking up the pace a bit descending Mill Creek. Put in a good effort up Arthurs, took in the views and then laced the descent before hitting some good turnover through the last six miles on the valley and up 38e/Grim Reaper. Felt good to work things a bit on a longer effort in the hills rather than the usual jog-fest.

Tues - AM: 8.5 miles intervals. Workout (cemetery) was: mile, 2x800, mile, 2x800, mile. Not much motivation going into this one, and a bit tired from Monday's effort, so started out easy and then notched the effort to 5k/10k once warmed up: 5:36, 2:48, 2:41, 5:29, 2:41, 2:42, 5:27.

Weds - Noon: 7 miles (1,900') easy. Horsetooth north via Rock/North Gap, down on Audra/Southridge.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles (1,400') hill tempo. Out to the 5 mile on Centennial easy with Scott, Celeste, Mike and Mary, then back at a controlled tempo effort: 7:45, 6:44, 6:32, 5:47, 5:30. Even though the splits are all over the place, they actually represent a steady effort because of the hills: net up to begin, net down to finish. Effort was approximately marathon pace, which is about as hard as I want to push my tempo efforts right now. 

Fri - 8 miles (2,200') easy. Horsetooth north summit (South - Audra - North Gap) - Wathan - Spring Creek - Falls. Another gorgeous winter's day on the Front Range.

Sat - 15.5 miles (4,000') easy. Horsetooth north summit (South - Audra - North Gap), then Westridge - Towers - Mill Creek - Loggers - Sawmill - Stout - Towers - Spring Creek - Soderberg.

Sun - 15.5 miles (1,400') racing. I love me a bit of Frost Giant. Went up to Estes Park for the third year in a row to compete in the 34th annual Frost Giant 5k/10k double. Both courses feature a significant amount of climbing, with a mix of road and cross country terrain, all starting at 7,500 feet above sea level. And I always forget about that last part until the pre-race warm up when I start panicking about my panting. Then I remember that we're a good 2,500 feet higher than Fort Collins and that this endeavor is in fact going to be a whole lot more painful than previously imagined.

After a loop of the 5k course to warm-up, it was evident that conditions were pretty much perfect: very little snow on the ground, warm weather, and maybe a clump or two fewer on the clump-strewn paddock that makes up the cross country section of this classic Northern Colorado course. Yes, there was a stiff wind out of the west, but c'mon this is Estes Park in January. We'll take it.

Right from the off, a pack of four or five of us grouped into the lead pack as we headed up MacGregor Avenue towards the ranch. And there was some serious panting going on. The pack included last year's Quad Rock 50 runner up, Jim Rebenack, friend and training partner Mike Hinterberg, and two other guys I didn't know. After about a mile, we were down to three with Jim and a guy from Boulder, Roberto Mandje, setting the pace. I was still trying to catch my breath in third, just barely hanging on. I let Jim and Roberto go as we entered the ranch and ground up the little grunter there, giving them a five meter gap as we made our way onto the cross country section of the course. I quickly bridged on the descent to the fence line with the intention of tucking in behind as we made our way west into the heavy headwind, but then I got carried away and cruised into the lead (and wind). Roberto came with me, Jim dropped off, Roberto took off. By the time we were back on the road, I was five seconds back and not feeling much like chasing. The gap grew to about 20 seconds with a half mile to go, before I finally thought about putting in an effort to catch back up. I tried but it never happened (catching back up that is). I finished a fairly disappointing 18 seconds slower than last year, but I've got a sneaking feeling that the course was a hair longer this year as the XC turn seemed to be a little further off, so we'll call it a wash.

I hung around at the finish for the rest of the Fort Collins gang and then headed out for a very slow two-mile jog with Slush and Sarah (victorious in the ladies race). And then, all too quickly, it was time for the 10k. As in years past, this one got out at about 50 mile pace with nobody wanting to get after it at all. No great surprise really, as the 10k course starts out with a big fat grunter of a hill and nearly everyone in the 10k has run the 5k. Nonetheless, and despite the extraordinarily lackluster start to the race, I somehow found myself leading and then feeling quite good as the course leveled out a bit. On the last bit of climbing up Bighorn Dr, before the descent back to MacGregor Ave, I figured I'd squeeze the pace a bit to see who had what. Nobody but Jim came with me. On the descent to MacGregor I reapplied the effort and built a small lead, before settling back into a comfortable effort and building a good 20 second pad on Jim and significantly more on Roberto by the end of the first mile of cross country. I would essentially hold that gap as we made our way around the extra three miles of pasture that made up the 10k course, before slotting into a strong push for the finish over the last mile of road. I ended up one second and one position better than last year on a course that was again a hair longer than it has been in the past.

A short jog to cool down, 5k/10k awards and then off to Ed's Cantina for brews, burgers and tall tales of gale force winds and rodent holes the size of Kansas.  
Running west alongside Devils Gulch Rd on the first cross country section of the 10k race into a heavy headwind (not pictured). All pics: Lane Eskew.
Through the woods at roughly the high point of the course (7,900')
Just a mile to go on (yet) another Colorado bluebird day.
Total: 81 miles (14,600')

Was looking for 85 miles this week, with a full 20 on Sunday, but somehow we didn't get the planned warm down in after the Frost Giant races. No biggie though. We're still in January. Based on the Frost Giant results, it would appear that my fitness is at about the same place as it was last year. I'm not quite sure what to make of that, so I guess I won't make anything of it, other than to remind myself (yet again) not to get too carried away with the mileage in January, February and March like I did last year.

Qaud Rock 25 miler sold out last week, but we've still got spots in the 50 miler. And talking of Quad Rock, we're planning an 'official' training run for April 6. This will involve: running (duh), drinking, eating, and a chance to test ride the new Pearl Izumi E:Motion kicks (see images above for a look at the N1 trail racer). We'll also have EFS Liquid Shot and Ultragen Recovery drink for pre, during and post-race.

Race number five of the Tortoise & Hare race series next Sunday. This one is a 5k starting and ending in Fossil Creek Park (I think). The race director is a bit absent-minded though, so it might actually be a 12k starting and ending in Spring Canyon Park. Check out the Fort Collins Running Club website to be sure.

Could use some snow...


  1. Well there you go. I guess that makes two Olympian scalps since Leadville then...

  2. Hi Nick I'm a new follower to your blog and loving the weekly recaps. I'm a fellow Brit and have got a place in WSER for the first time!!! An amazing and scary prospect which I'm relishing :-) So keen to see what training you are doing to prepare. Evidently max elevation (ascent and descent)is the key but as you know England doesn't have too much of that to offer (not in the South anyway!!) Thanks for the insight and keep winning!

    1. DiscoStu - congrats on the WSER slot. Miles, miles, and more miles, with lots of hard downhill running as you get close to June and you'll be fine. Good luck with the training. See you out there!

  3. Thanks Nick. Whilst my weekely mileage won't match yours my 6 month training schedule has me running way more than in any other ultra I've completed to date. averaging 50 per week at the moment which will rise to 60 and then 70. With 50mile and 100k races in the final 2 month build up.
    Be great to say hi when I out there for sure! Where do people go for beers after the race!? ;-)

  4. Stu - the Auburn Ale House is always a popular spot ... or the infield of the Placer High track.