Monday, February 24, 2014

Four weeks Ending February 24

Week Ending February 2

Monday - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Jogged up in the cold and snow for a tag of Horsetooth. Perfect training run for the upcoming stage race in the tropics.

Tuesday - 7 miles (1,800') easy. I was going to do Jane's workout in the morning, but it was cold and crappy again, so I deferred to Horsetooth.

Wednesday - 5 miles (1,500') easy. Not a whole lot of time with work pressures and the need to start getting the family ready for the trip to Costa Rica and the Coastal Challenge, so made this a quick Horsetooth tag (25), starting at the trailhead.

Thursday - 4 miles (1,000) easy. Running out of time on the day, I ran the 'neighborhood round-up' in the dark, covering all the road mileage in the neighborhood on a beautiful evening with big flakes floating serenely to the ground. A predicted 10 inches of overnight snow meant one hour less of sleep for what was already promising to be a long day of travel on Friday.

Friday - Off. Travel day to Costa Rica, with a 2:00 am wake up. The extra hour allotted for crappy roads turned out to be unnecessary as not nearly as much snow came down as predicted. And so the weeklong exercise in sleep-deprivation begins.

Saturday - 4.5 miles easy. Ran a couple of loops with Mike Wardian from the hotel we were staying at in San Jose. Pleasantly surprised at the comfortable temps up in the relative altitude of the Costa Rican capital. The story at sea level would be markedly different.

Sunday - 22.5 miles (2,700') steady. It was a ridiculously early wake-up call for the four-hour trip out to the race start, made even more painful by the fact that I basically didn't sleep because Stella was tossing, turning and coughing all night. Slept a bit on the bus but not much. The route for this, the first stage of the Coastal Challenge stage race, was tough in that it was hot, involved 10 miles of rock infested road running right off the bat, and did I mention that it was hot.

Wardian was off to the races almost immediately, and by the time we hit trail after 10 miles he had something close to a three-minute lead. I was running with Martin Gaffuri for most of this and we made back some time heading up the first major hill of the race through some good jungle terrain. By the time we popped back onto the road, Wardian was not much more than 100 meters ahead (aided by a wrong turn), and then over the next climb I pulled back up to him. He put me away on the long descent to the finish, and I ran the last four or five miles with Vincente Juan Garcia Beneito from Alicante, Spain. With my lack of Spanish and his lack of English, we didn't have much to chat about, but we'd get to know each other well over the next few days as we essentially ran shoulder to shoulder until the end of stage 4. Vincente is a prolific and thoroughly successful stage racer and an absolute machine. Despite our inability to communicate verbally, I learned a hell of a lot from the guy over the week.

Vincente and I ended up crossing the line together for joint second, two and a half minutes behind Mike. Carlos Sa would have been fourth a few minutes back, but he ended up taking an inexplicable three-hour wrong turn when he was just 100 meters from the finish line. Seriously, the course was marked immaculately. Hobbling around afterwards, I couldn't believe how beat up I felt from a measly 20 miler, but there was no rest for the wicked and it was straight on to fathering duty - enabled by some gloriously cold Imperials.

Total: 50 miles (8,800')

Week Ending February 9

Mon - 24 miles (4,800') steady. Day two of the Coastal Challenge. This was a fun stage and I felt good the whole way around, finishing strong over the last three or four miles of beach running. Joint third overall on the stage and 3.5 minutes back overall on Wardian. The staging area on Dominical Beach, like all our staging areas for the week, was sublime.

Tues - 29.5 miles (5,200') steady. Day three of the Coastal Challenge was the first of two 'long days,' and ended up being a real bruiser by the time it was all said and done. The first 10kms through the river was a ton of fun and one of the more unique trail-racing experiences I've had. The middle miles climbing through the jungle was dense and intense and the final miles on the beach under the blazing sun were pure brutality. Finished the day in fourth, losing 10 minutes over the last 12kms to the finish. Again, our finish location on Ventanas Beach was other-worldly and about as far removed from February in Colorado as imaginable.

Weds - 23 miles (6,500') steady. Day four was a big climbing day and the end of my race. I pulled up lame with five kms to go, sat in the shade for 10 minutes and then hobbled home.

Thurs - 29.5 miles (3,000') easy. After my medical issues from day four, I committed to taking things easy for the final long day of the race, and did just that. The miles clicked by quickly on this relatively flat leg. The section through the mangroves was just fantastic. The finish in the gob-smackingly beautiful Drakes Bay was incredible.

Friday - 14.5 miles (1,200') easy. With positions essentially set, we agreed to run as a group for the final stage of the race. The tour was fantastic and included a bit of everything we'd run through the previous five days. A great way to finish a great week.

Saturday - Off

Sunday - Off

Total: 120.5 miles (20,700')

Week Ending February 16

Mon - Off

Tues - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth jog. Decided against intervals in the morning in favor of sleep and additional recovery. Got a jog up Horsetooth done and felt pretty good all things considered.

Weds - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Another easy jog up Horsetooth.

Thurs - AM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth. Declined on the regular Thursday tempo in favor of some easier recovery miles. Conditions were okay, but continued to be totally snowpacked.
PM: 7 miles (1,700') moderate. A moderate climb of Towers (~37 mins) in less-than-ideal conditions, with heavy mud at the bottom and bullet-proof ice at the top.

Fri - AM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth with Danny. Kinda icy and choppy, but decent enough.
PM: 5 miles (1,500') easy. Jogged another lap on Horsetooth late in the day.

Sat - 13 miles (3,500') easy. Set out with Danny to bag a Horsetooth Hattrick, but bailed after two summits, completely frustrated with the terrible, icy underfoot conditions.

Sun - 17 miles (4,800') easy. Conditions were marginally better today, so I resolved to get the triple done, bagging a south, middle and north summit via the south, middle and north routes up the mountain.

Total: 70 miles (18,700')

Week Ending February 23

Mon - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth north summit. With warm winds blowing all weekend, the trails are really starting to clear. Nice easy jog up the hill.

Tues - AM: 9 miles intervals. Eased in and generally didn't push too hard. Ran with McCullough and Garica, both of whom seemed fine with the casual effort. I wasn't going to push the issue. Workout was mile (cemetary), 2 mile fartlek (City Park), mile (cemetary), 2 mile fartlek (CP): 6:05, 12:01, 5:30, 11:30.
PM: 5 miles (1,500') easy. End of day Horsetooth summit.

Weds - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Lunchtime easy up the hill. Wanted a second summit, but never found the time. Winds were brutal.

Thurs - 10 miles (1,400') hill tempo. Centennial Rd out and back. Big tailwind coming home, but didn't get too aggressive: 31:30. Really wanted to get out for a second run, but the wind was just brutal, so I opted for rest.

Fri - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Big push up the hill with the wind, which made for a fun and quick outing. Climbed the north-gap route and almost got blown off the rock by the gusts funneling through. Exhilirating.

Sat - 24 miles (4,800') easy/steady. Ran from Devil's Backbone with Jason & Mike to top of Horsetooth via Towers, Herrington, Wathan, then tacked on another summit on the Rock trail for good measure before heading home. Felt strong all morning. Fitness is coming around.

Sun - 15 miles (4,500') easy. Triple Horsetooth (44) via the three-way. Up Southridge/Audra, down Wathan, up/down Rock trail, up Wathan, down Southridge/Audra, home on the Grim Reaper. Gorgeous morning out with a nice layer of low-laying clouds to the south/west and in the valleys. Felt strong all morning again. Super solid weekend.

Total: 84 miles (17,600')

Phew, it's been a very busy last month, and keeping up with the blogging has been a challenge. Happy to be up-to-date with things here now that I'm reasonably up to date with other facets of life.

This past weekend was really encouraging from a running standpoint. My week in Costa Rica, while a fantastic experience, was less than stellar with regards to fitness. I went into the race with next to no long runs under my belt and suffered as a consequence, fading badly on a couple of the stages and ultimately breaking down physically in the heat by day four. Nonetheless, I was proud to see the week out and cover the full course. It was the kick start I needed, and this past week things have really been clicking. My endurance felt great, I'm moving much better uphill and I'm excited for the 2014 season ahead.

Speaking of which, I am really excited to be adding the Ultra Trail Mount Fuji 100 to my racing schedule this year. It comes a little early in the year for me, but it was an opportunity I just couldn't pass up. What effect it has on my form for Western States is to be determined, but hey, as all the kids are saying these days, you only live once!

What else, well I'm excited to be representing Ultraspire again this year. There is a lot of innovation happening out in the St. George, UT HQ and I'm excited to test run their new offerings for 2014 - starting with the simplified bottle tops.

In other sponsor news, unfortunately I've had to part ways with Pearl Izumi for 2014. It was a great experience working with the guys in Lousiville, CO for the four years that I represented the brand, and helping to move the shoe line from - let's be honest - mediocre to outstanding was a ton of fun. Pearl has hit a home run with the E:Motion line and I wish them nothing but the best for 2014 and beyond. And the future appears bright, with shoes in the pipeline looking even better than the first E:motion run, and the apparel remaining up there as an industry leader. Quite honestly I'm sad to move on, but also excited for future opportunities.

I am happy, however, to be maintaining a relationship with Pearl through the Quad Rock races coming up in May. For the third year running, Pearl will be the presenting sponsor, so there will be opportunities for runners to demo the new shoe line on race day and at the spring training run. The 25 mile race sold out quite some time ago, but we do still have spots left for the 50 miler. The field is already looking strong in both the men's and women's division, so we're excited that through our relationship with the Hunter Team at Cornerstone Home Lending we've been able to bump the prize purse to $1,600 for 2014.

We'll also be opening registration for our summer and fall races - the Black Squirrel Half Marathon and Blue Sky Marathon - on April 1 and have some really fun things planned for both races. But what we're even more excited about is getting up to Cameron Pass this summer to scout out a high-altitude, mountain 100km route that we have planned for 2015. We have an initial nod of approval from the powers that be up there, but there is still plenty of work to be done. If we can pull this one off I really think this will be one of the premier destination ultra races in Colorado. The terrain up in the Never Summer and Medicine Bow Mountains is quite honestly some of the best that Colorado has to offer. But we have to be patient and wait for the spring thaw before we can get things totally figured out.

Spring is on the way. Fire up the stoke!


  1. Glad you had a chance to rest up after CR so you could race your Sat. workout. Good to see you, and see you in Salida (looks like you're ready)
    Congrats on the Mt. Fuji race, should be a fun trip.

    Really looking forward to the Cameron Pass stuff -- LMK when you want to do some scouting.

    1. Every workout's a race, Mike. You know that!

      We plan on booking multiple camping spots, providing food and beverages for a weekend-long scouting trip up at Cameron for whoever wants to come up. Hopefully July/August. Will of course keep you in the loop.

      Great seeing you this weekend. More fun to come in Salida.

  2. 100k up around Cameron Pass? Sounds like I may have to make a special trip back up to the Front Range for this one. Will it include Clark Peak???

    Looking forward to seeing many of the FCTR at Salida this year.

    1. Steph - as swell as a summit of Clark Peak would be, it's in the Rawah Wilderness which makes it out of bounds I'm afraid.

      That said, we did discuss a ridge traverse from North Diamond Peak to Montgomery Pass with the State Forest rangers (and weren't completely laughed out of town). A strong chance that the route could also involve a summit of Seven Utes Mtn, which affords killer views of the Never Summers and the mighty Baron von Richthofen!

      See you in a few weeks - oh, and congrats to you and Chris on your wonderful news.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Koichi, I'm really looking forward to it.

  4. Does this mean you'll be running barefoot in Salida? The Cameron Pass stuff sounds awesome. Beautiful area up there. Can't wait to hear more. See you along the Arkansas River in a few weeks.

  5. Jaime, give me some cord and old car tire rubber and I'll be good to go for Salida. See you out there. N

  6. Amen to Medicine Bow being the wonderland that it is. Spectacular up there even if a lot of Front Ranger runners have never heard of it.

  7. Hi Nick,

    not sure what happened to your comments. after you made your post I replied (about 8th at the time) and then the next day all the posts before and including mine had disappeared and some new ones instead?

    I had asked about your shoe plans? do you have another sponsor, or will you be going old school with a pair of Hi-Tec silver shadow's (I am sure none of your yank buddies will know the name)

    1. Alex - your comment posted on my recap from the Costal Challenge. I remember the Silver Shadows well - what a shoe! I didn't know that Hi-Tec was still in business, but I just checked out the website and sure enough they still make the Silver Shadow:

      Nothing official on the sponsorship side just yet, but a few things in the works. More to come on that.