Monday, March 24, 2014

Week Ending March 23

Mon - AM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. I felt surprisingly spry and unscathed from Saturday's racing action, so enjoyed a springy jaunt up the mountain.
PM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Retraced my steps from the morning. Found myself on the summit without remembering how I got there. I love how the miles melt on familiar terrain when you're lost in thought.

Tues - AM: 10 miles intervals. The winds were absolutely screaming when I woke up this morning, which made the prospect of trying to run fast at City Park seem somewhat ridiculous, but it's almost April and every workout counts now. Not surprisingly, there were just a handful in attendance at the appointed hour. But any and all company was appreciated. On the docket for this morning was: mile, broken 1.5 mile (3 x 800 on 15 second cruise between 8s), mile, broken 1.5, mile.  Still in the recovery period from Salida and with the troublesome spring winds, I didn't want to force the issue, so largely ran these at a comfortable tempo-type effort: 5:50, 2:53, 2:52, 2:51, 5:34, 2:51, 2:49, 2:45, 5:22.
PM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Got out late in the day for another lap to the top of Horsetooth (66). The winds had subsided a bit, but were still gusting substantially on top.

Weds - Noon: 7 miles (1,800') easy. My right knee felt a little awkward (read: it hurt) after yesterday's workout/Saturday's race, so I laced up my new Altra Olympus kicks for today's run. The Olympus is Altra's newly released offering in the maximal shoe department and - as promised - the shoes deliver serious cushioning. Not sure I'd race these aggressively on technical trail, but boy oh boy do they help take the load off aching joints for the day-to-day outings. With it being a gorgeous day in the middle of spring break, it was no great surprise to see the park packed, so I went up via Southridge/Audra, which is reliably the least crowded way up the mountain. I think my neighbors got the memo too, as I saw no less than three friendly faces (five if you count dogs) from the 'hood. Just two short patches of snow left. SPRING.

Thurs - AM: 7 miles (1,800') steady. I bailed late Wednesday night on meeting the group for the usual Thursday AM tempo session down on Centennial. Ostensibly, I bailed because I didn't want to push things with my knee, but I think I was just using that as an excuse to grab some extra zeds and avoid visiting the pain cave so early in the morning. Of course, I woke up, laced my sneaks and the knee felt great with the mega-Olympus cush. Guilt ridden, I made myself work the hill. I don't usually like to do workouts on Horsetooth; it's the place I go to jog and reflect, so panting up the hill always feels a little awkward. Nonetheless, it felt great this morning to inject a little effort into my daily routine, get to the summit in a jiffy and then get on with things for the rest of the day. Maybe I'll give my Horsetooth PR a run one of these days; it's been a couple of years since I put a truly hard effort in on the hill.
PM (1): 5 miles (1,500') easy. Parked at the Horsetooth TH and jogged a nice casual summit lap before heading into town to run the Fort Collins Trail Runner social at Pineridge. Legs felt great and the weather was beautiful. So good.
PM (2): 5 miles easy. A nice trundle with friends at Pineridge. Been a while since I've done this one.

Friday - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth (70) summit. A crisp, but sunny morning jog with Danny. The pins were a little tired to get going but warmed up nicely by the time we were halfway up the hill. Bumped into Josh Holer at the top and ran back down with him.
PM: 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth up and down at a super casual effort. Snow's supposed to fly tonight. Didn't much feel it in the air. I'm guessing no.

Saturday - 20 miles (5,000') easy. 3:20. Did the classic Horsetooth (71) - Arthurs loop with Josh, Jason and Burch. I was wrong about the snow, it was coming down the whole time we were out; nothing crazy but there was an inch or two on the ground by the time we were done, making things a little slippery in places. Went: Southridge, Rock, Summit, Westridge, Secret, Mill Creek, Howard, Summit, Arthurs, Valley, Sawmill, Herrington, Spring Creek, Falls, Reaper. We kept things light and easy the whole way around to make sure we were saving something for the big Sunday serving.

Summit 1: Horsetooth
Summit 2: Arthurs. Clark, J. Arthur, Burch, Ostram.
PM: 2 mile hike (600') with the kiddos down to the waterfall. Stella made it pretty much the whole way there and back. Next goal: Horsetooth summit.

Sunday - 37 miles (6,900') long. 5:52. Out with the same crew as Saturday for the fourth rendition of Alex May's (of 30:01:31 Western States fame) March Mileage Madness run, a circumnavigation of Horsetooth Reservoir in celebration of spring. Last year we were nipple deep in snow on top of Horsetooth Mountain; this year we didn't have much more than a couple of inches, but it was consistent through the hills, giving way to slop down low. We started out at an easy effort and kept it in gear the whole way round. The route took in both Horsetooth and Arthur's summits, taking the perimeter trails around the park on the west side of the reservoir. Really pleased with how good my legs felt the whole way around, especially on the tail end of a big week and building off a strong race at Salida the weekend prior. Finished things off with a nice pick up in pace over the last five or six miles on Shoreline, Centennial and Pineridge. Josh took a hard digger with a mile to go (on the least technical section of trail covered all morning), so we shut things down there and jogged it in back to Alex's for beers, burgers and banter.

Ostram picking up his Arthurs summit, 20 miles into the morning.
Total: 126 miles (26,300')

Big week and big weekend in the books. Big-boy pants are officially on. With just five weeks until the UTMF 100 in Japan, I'm starting to feel like I may just be rounding into something approaching 100-mile shape. Unfortunately, I am going to have to sacrifice running hard at Lake Sonoma in three weeks, and run it - rather lamely - as a 'training race/run.' Lucky for me though, I still have the okay to head out to Healdsburg to enjoy one of the best trail racing weekends on the domestic calendar. I've taken a few notes out of Tropical John's playbook when it comes to putting on my own races. Hint: a well-marked course on awesome trails with good post-race food and ample, tasty adult beverages go a long way to making runners happy.

Speaking of which, we are now down to less than 30 spots remaining for Quad Rock. We're super excited to be hosting 350 runners, our biggest field yet, with stellar fields in both the men's and the women's races. Check out the fields here, and get signed up sooner rather than later. With the final price increase due to go into effect at the end of the month, we expect to be sold out within the next week.

And, hey, if you're thinking about trail racing action for late summer, then registration for the always popular Blue Sky Marathon and Black Squirrel Half go live April 1. Click the links on the top right of the sidebar for info on those. Register for both - the Black and Blue Double - for just $99. Best racing deal in town, and hey, we don't cut corners.

You might also notice a new sponsor logo up there on the sidebar. Yup, I'm honored and excited to be representing Altra ZeroDrop footwear for the 2014 season. Raced in the Lone Peaks at Salida and have been pounding out long mileage in the new Olympus maximal-style shoes for the last couple of weeks. The Olympus have reportedly been flying off the shelves since their launch this month, so get 'em while you can! My knees thank me every time I slip them on.

And finally, if you made it this far and just can't get enough of my drivel, then go listen to even more over at Ultrarunner Podcast.
The uber-popular Altra Olympus. Flying off the shelves right now. 


  1. Great to see you on team Altra Nick!

    1. Thanks, Emir. Excited to be part of the team!

  2. Out of curiosity did you have any issues adjusting to a zero drop shoe?


    1. Brad - I could definitely tell that my stride was a little different over the first few runs in the Altras, so that took a little getting used to. The flat platform definitely pushes your strike forward. Whether that's good, bad or otherwise, I couldn't tell you, but my performance hasn't suffered. In fact, I PR'ed the one race I have done (Salida Marathon) in the Altras, but of course that could be due to improved fitness or any other host of reasons.

      I figured there might be some extra achilles stress with all the vertical I run, but that hasn't been an issue for me, although I did rotate in shoes with a drop through the first couple of weeks to help adjust.

      So, yeah, there's an adjustment period for sure, but if you ease in you should be fine.

  3. i hope you enjoy the new team. congrats.

    1. Thanks, Andre! Looking forward to a fun year!

  4. Absolutely amazing this week - to get in 126 miles for the week, 37 on Sunday and then dropping the hammer on Tuesday are on your way for Japan!

    1. Sr. McCullough, I'm pretty sure it was Garcia dropping the hammer, I was pretty much hanging on for dear life. Great to have the company on Tuesday mornings, man. Makes the work vaguely tolerable, and probably wouldn't get done otherwise.

  5. hey Nick, just curious if you had any recommendations transitioning to a zero drop shoe. I have been curious about Atra

  6. Altra folks say to transition slowly, so maybe rotate with another pair that has more of a drop for a couple of weeks.

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