Sunday, June 22, 2014

Week Ending June 22

Mon - 6.5 miles (1,500') easy. Jogged a lap on Horsetooth.

Tues - Noon: 4.5 miles (700') easy. Quick Falls loop in the new Lone Peak 2.0s, which felt great, but I won't be able to get enough miles on them before Western to have full confidence, so I'll be donning the 1.5s.
PM: 6.5 miles track. The last 300 meters of the Western States 100 famously take in 3/4s of the Placer High School track, so when the email came through from Jane detailing this week's track workout I could but smile: 2km warmup, followed by 10 x 300. Dressed in a long-sleeve base layer, a winter beanie, knee-length tights and compression socks (yes, I looked like a prick), I got to work with my shirtless compadres. Opening 2k was 6:46 w/5:23 mile, then: 55, 55, 55, 56, 55, 55, 54, 55, 55, 52. I know, I'll never be accused of being a speed demon. And that's why I race 100s.

Weds - 4 miles easy. Felt predictably gimpy after yesterday's session at the oval, so just got out for a nice easy jog through the Marina campgrounds.

Thurs - 8.5 miles (1,700') hill tempo. Another Thursday, another session on Towers. I tried to keep this one within the realms of comfortable, but ended up working harder than I would have liked - on a perfect late-spring evening - for a mediocre 30:40. Not quite the confidence boost I was looking for. Ran the descent much harder than usual with Brad and his buddies.

Fri - Off. My right hamstring felt slightly tweaked from the Towers descent, so I made the easy decision of taking a day off.  

Saturday - 12.5 miles (4,500') up high. Got out with Burch to celebrate the solstice by heading up to State Forest to nab a couple of high peaks in the Medicine Bow Mountains. In addition, we attempted to connect a few of the rougher sections of trail on the Never Summer 100k course, with varying degrees of success. Parking on a pull-out halfway between the 2WD and 4WD trailheads on the Ruby Jewel Rd we donated some blood to a vicious swarm of skeeters then got going. The route to Jewel Lake was fairly straightforward, with just a few lingering snowfields to navigate, then it was a gorgeous, tundra-filled hump towards the 'Lewis' and Clark saddle, from where we headed north to tag 'Lewis' peak (12,654') and take in the super stellar views. From Lewis, it was a quick down and up to Clark Peak (12,951'), the highest point in Jackson County and the peak with most prominence in Larimer County (it straddles the border of both counties). The views from both peaks were quite sensational and offered unparalleled views of a number of sub-ranges within the mighty Rockies, including the Never Summers, Medicine Bow, Mummies, Park Range, Front Range, Snowies, and more. Seriously, this is perhaps the best vantage point of the Rockies that I've ever had the fortune of enjoying. We connected with a faint use trail south off Clark, wrapping west on the ridge to the south of the Jewel Lake bowl under Lewis and Clark, before dropping back in and down to the truck. We finished up the morning with some running on the Yurt trail, connecting some pieces that I failed to find on last weekend's scouting trip.

The tundra-adorned southern Medicine Bows in the foreground, including Diamond Peaks, then pretty much the full Never Summer line-up in back with the high point, (Baron von) Richthofen, slightly off center to the left in the top of the frame and, I think, Baker all the way south in the top right. That traverse is high on my list for this summer. So good.
From same vantage point (top 'Lewis'), looking north to the northern Med Bows.
Hidden Vally section of the Never Summer 100k course in the foreground, then Park Range west across North Park.
Clark Peak and south section of the Med Bows. This whole range is super carpeted and could be done in very quick order. 
Front Range Peaks, including Longs in the top left. 
Clark & Clark from top 'Lewis'
Love this range. Mummies from top Clark Peak. Five of the six peaks that make up the Mummy Mania traverse visible (Hagues, Fairchild, Ypsilon, Chiquita and Chapin (L-R), with Mummy obscured behind Hagues).
Lewis center, Clark right.
Sun - 5 miles (1,500') hike/jog. I wasn't going to do anything today, but I felt the need to get out, so compromised with a stiff hike to the top of Horsetooth and a gentle jog down. Came home and watched some footie. The U.S. looked so much better than the useless English earlier in the week. Guess I'll be wearing my U.S. hat for the rest of the WC.

Total: 47.5 miles (9,900')

Off to Tahoe on Weds. We'll see what the weekend brings!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Week Ending June 15

Mon - 4.5 miles (700') easy. Falls loop. Headed out late in the day for a Horsetooth summit, but just couldn't muster the energy, so bailed with a consolation loop on the lower trails.

Tues - AM: 6.5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth summit. A super casual jog in the heat of the day with an extra layer just to warm the legs a bit for the evening's track workout.
PM: 6 miles track. It was good and hot at the track this evening, so I got some strange looks warming up in pants and a jacket, but I like to get a good sweat going before doing anything intense like a track workout. Nonetheless, it always takes me the first couple of reps to really commit to doing these things. Workout was: mile, 4 x 800. Eased in on the first couple laps of the mile, then worked the second 800 a bit. For the 800s, we were working in pairs with the second runner (me) joining/pulling the first runner on his second lap before soloing his own second lap. This dynamic led to a lazy first 800, before I figured I needed to push a little harder on the first lap as the second runner: 5:30, 2:40, 2:36, 2:35, 2:35. These reps felt really, really good - totally under control with plenty in the tank to push harder had I wanted.

Weds - AM: 6.5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth summit. Good and easy.
PM: 6 miles easy. Easy out and back on the Valley trails.

Thurs - 10.5 miles (1,200') easy. Ran the Blue Sky/Indian Summer out and back with Sarah, Lee and Slush. Latched onto Sarah's uptick in pace over the last couple miles, otherwise just a nice early morning cruise.

Fri - 6 miles easy. Jogged an out and back from the Blue Sky trailhead to Shoreline/Nomad. Layered up for this one and got a solid sweat going.

Sat - 12 miles (2,000') easy. We stayed at the Montgomery Yurt up at State Forest in the Medicine Bow Mountains this weekend, which was a total blast. This trip had a dual purpose. In addition to wanting to get away somewhere remote with the family, I was also champing at the bit to get up to State Forest - now snow free up to about 10.5k' - to start scouting the Never Summer 100k race we plan on debuting next year.

Up with the sun, I followed the Yurt Trail connecting the Montgomery Pass Rd to the Ruby Jewel Rd - starting approximately 26 miles into our intended route. This is typically a winter trail intended for yurt to yurt ski tours of the park, so the realities on the ground in the summer were less than ideal. The well-defined ATV track of the designated trail soon gave way to mainly cross country travel with a hint of trail thrown in here and there through the trees. On the final clear cut before I was supposed to pop out on the Ruby Jewel Rd I totally lost the trail and ended up bushwhacking through the woods on the 9,600' contour that the trail was marked as following over the final mile or so. Once on the road I jogged up to the next trail intersection, passing the exit point of the Yurt Trail after a quarter mile, so just a little low, but good to know that the trail goes all the way through. From there, I picked up the Mtn View Trail, shortcutting through a heinous clearcut near the bottom to get back on the main park road, from whence it was a jog back to the yurt. This was a fun, if somewhat slow and frustrating morning, and an eye-opener for the kind of terrain this race is going to take in. Following the run, we hot-footed it out to Steamboat for an afternoon in the hot springs followed by the usual downer of watching England perform poorly in the World Cup.

Yurt Fun
Yurt 'trail.' XC travel will be required.
Once clearcut, these saplings are growing in thick and fast.
Sun - 10 miles (1,800') easy. More scouting, this time in the far northern section of the course under Clark Peak and the Rawah section of the Medicine Bows. The first half of this run was on well-maintained forest road, which gave way to overgrown madness on the connector 'trail' I was scouting. As is common in State Park, which has been extensively logged over the years due to heavy beetle kill, a lot of the old logging roads are now being aggressively reclaimed by vibrant saplings which have been lapping things up in the moist environment. After bushwhacking the final mile of trail/road, I finally popped back out on the eastern side of the loop from where I enjoyed a return on super skinny trail that clearly sees heavy game activity but little human passage. With the vibrant wild flowers, remote location and game-rutted trails, this whole section was very reminiscent of some of the more remote sections of the Big Horn course.
Trail coming in from the Hidden Valley Alpine section, which also takes in Kelly Lake. 
Once a trail. A half mile later and it was solid bushwhacking with no discernible evidence of a trail.  More scouting required.
Diamond Peaks, Nokhu Crags, Richthofen and Mahler on the south end of the course (north end of the Never Summers). The first 25 miles of the course route under and around the Never Summers by way of Seven Utes, Lake Agnes, Michigan Ditch and Michigan Lakes. Then up Diamond Peaks and into the Medicine Bows for some ridge running to Montgomery Pass. So good. 
Much of the course can be seen here through a clearing on the north end. The Never Summers are off in the distance, before the contour under the Medicine Bow Mountains and through alpine terrain in Hidden Valley on the left side of the frame. The low point on the course will be about 8,500' with approximately half of it run above 10,000', topping out at just below 12,000' on North Diamond Peak.
The trails, as it turns out, are not always so well defined. Heavy marking will be required in a number of sections.
Moose country.
Total: 68 miles (7,800')

A little low on the mileage again, largely due to the light weekend volume brought on by poor route finding and time constraints. But it was still a super fun weekend in a truly unique, beautiful and under-visited part of Colorado. Pete and I will be up at State Park for much of the summer figuring the best route possible for next year's Never Summer 100km. If interested, we're planning a preview/scout of the course with any and all that are interested the weekend of July 18/19. We've reserved a couple sites at the Bockman Campground for up to 12 people, but further reservations are probably required at this point if you're interested in joining.

What else? Ah, yes, Western States is less than two weeks away. I really have no idea how this year's race is going to play out. While I feel less prepared than any previous year from a pure fitness standpoint, I also have an inner confidence that I'll still be able to get the job done in a respectable time. I feel little to no pressure to perform, despite putting some fairly aggressive goals out there on the interwebs, which I believe puts me in a good mental spot. I know how to run these things, so I just need to execute on race day. That's it really - no time to be overthinking things now.

Mike and I will be driving out Wednesday evening, getting into the Tahoe area Thursday around noon. We'll need to source some kind of accommodation, likely in the Reno area, and then I'll be speaking on the Veteran's Panel that night with such luminaries of the sport as Karl Meltzer, Meghan Arbogast and Topher Gaylord. How I came to be considered a veteran, I am not quite sure, but it should be a fun evening and hopefully I have some useful nuggets to impart. Consider stopping by if you're in the area.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Four Weeks Ending June 8

Week Ending May 18

Mon - AM: 6.5 miles (1,500') easy. After taking a couple easy weeks post UTMF, I was having a hard time getting my head back into the thought of training, so I eased back in today with a glide to the top of Horsetooth (106).

Tues - AM: 6.5 miles (1,500') easy. Just an easy jog up the hill (107) to loosen things up a bit for the afternoon workout.

This may have been a summit from the week before, but I'm losing track: Sarah, Katie, Emily, Becca, Marie and Lee
PM: 6 miles at the track. This was the first Tuesday Night Track workout of the season and as always there was a huge turnout. Nonetheless, Jane manages the workout so well that it never feels overcrowded. Workout for the evening was 6 x 800, and after easing in on the first one, I held the pace at between 2:32 & 2:35, working with Brian Murphy and a couple others. Good to be back on the oval.

Weds - 10 miles (2,500') easy. Jogged out the 10 mile Horsetooth (108), Westridge route at a reasonably casual effort. Picked up the pace coming down Spring Creek just to put a little pressure on the quads.

Thurs - AM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth summit (109).
PM: 6 miles uber easy at the FCTR social run at Pineridge.

Fri: 10.5 miles easy (1,200'). Met Sarah early morning for a nice, social jaunt on the Blue Sky & Indian Summer loop.

Saturday: 23.5 miles (3,000') long. Mike H was in town for the weekend, so we decided to make the most of it with a couple of weekend long runs. We started things off with the classic Blue Sky out and back from my house. Indian Summer on the way out and straight through on the way back. Picked things up just a touch over the last five or six miles and felt great.

Sunday: 23 miles (4,500') at Lumpy Ridge in Estes Park. Drove up the devastated Big Thompson Canyon with Mike to meet Abby & Kircher at the Lumpy Ridge trailhead. The standard loop around the famed Lumpy Ridge rock formations is 10.5 miles with a couple decent climbs, but if you tack on the spurs to Bridal Veil Falls and Balanced Rock, then it is close to 16 miles. A third spur option is to run all the way through to the Cow Creek trailhead and then take the North Boundary trail out to West Creek Falls, which adds another seven miles and a couple short, sharp climbs. Mike and I took in all three spurs which made for a really scenic and fun morning. Seriously, this is just a killer run that is capped off with some of the best views of the RMNP peaks you can find, coming down from Gem Lake.

"Feck it, we'll just call 'em Bridal Veil Falls!"
The almost as imaginatively named, West Creek Falls.
Don't get me started on this one, the Rock that is Balanced. 
RMNP Peaks, dominated as always by Her Majesty.
Total: 99 miles (16,000')

After a slow start to the week, it felt good to be back in the training saddle with two solid long runs on the weekend and a weekly total knocking on the triple-digit door.

Week Ending May 25

Mon - 6.5 miles easy (1,500'). Horsetooth summit (110).

Tues - Noon: 6.5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth jog (111). Birthday summit.
PM: 7 miles @ the track. Workout was: mile, 800, 400, 400, 800, 400, 400. Still adjusting to the realities of the track, so kept these under control for fear of ripping my muscles to shreds: 5:32, 2:35, 77, 73, 2:37, 76, 74.

Weds: 7 miles easy (1,800') on the hill (112).

Thurs - AM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Super casual Falls jog.
PM: 9.5 miles (1,900') hill progression tempo. Ran just under 31 minutes with an effort that felt largely under control. Easy to get going as usual, then significant pick up in effort about halfway up the hill once the breathing and heart rate were fully under my control.

Fri - AM: 10 miles (2,000') easy. From Soderberg to top of Arthurs Rock (& back) with Andy, Jason, Lee and Marie.
PM: 4.5 miles (700') easy. Falls shakeout jog.

Sat - 18.5 miles (4,000') easy. Wasn't quite sure where I was headed this morning, so predictably enough I found myself out at Horsetooth bagging a couple of peaks (113 & 114) and generally tooling around until I felt like long-run status had been achieved (i.e., the watch clicked past three hours).

Sun - 20.5 miles (2,500') easy. I wanted a few more miles on the morning, but was happy to compromise with Burch - who was looking for no more than the bottom end of the long-run spectrum (20 miles) - in favor of having company on a morning where I had little to no motivation to be out for hours. Picked things up a notch coming home.

Total: 95 miles (17,000') 

It was hard work mentally getting out for the longer runs this weekend, a not uncommon state for me to be in at this stage of the training cycle, especially now that the excitement of the build-up to Western States is simply nowhere near what it used to be a few years ago.

Week Ending June 1

Mon - 10.5 miles easy. In San Diego for work all week, so had to make do. Ran from near the Convention Center out on the promenade for a bit over 5 miles then ran back. Ho hum.

Tues - 10.5 miles on the same route as Monday, with a bit of workout mixed into the middle: mile, two mile, mile at 6:00 min pace.
PM: 5 miles easy jogging out to and around Balboa Park.

Weds - 9.5 miles of easy jogging on the promenade again.

Thurs - 8 miles with 5 @ tempo. Short on time, I squeezed out what I could. Five miles at 6:05, 5:55, 5:52, 5:42, 5:48 after a short warm up.

Fri - 10.5 miles easy on the promenade again. Not very imaginative with my route choices this week, but you do what you can on limited time in unfamiliar cities.

Sat - 26.5 miles (5,500') downhill focus. 3:30. Met up early in Drake with Mike Aish and headed up Storm Mountain (~10,000') at a steady, but social pace. Topped out and then ran the 9 mile descent at a steady 6:00 min effort. Refueled at the car, then ran back up the hill for another four miles before dropping again at a good effort. Downs felt okay, but I was slogging pretty good on the climbs. Another one of the classic spring workouts in the books.

Sun 33.5 miles (1,500') easy. 4:10. My neighbor Patti turned 40 around the same time as me, so somehow she talked me into running a 40 mile birthday route (of her choosing) ending at Grimm Brothers Brewery in Loveland. We agreed that I'd give her a 3.5 hour head start in the name of making a race of it. Considering that she was already close to 20 miles done by the time I got going, I figured I'd need to run a low 7 min pace to catch up. I locked into that pace on the 13 mile Redstone Canyon out and back (with its handy, and accurate, mile markers) and pushed on at that effort for the remainder of the route: Masonville Rd, Glade Res out and back to water treatment plant, Carter Lake Rd, 1st Street east. Having never run more than 26 miles, Patti predictably enough bonked pretty hard and I caught her 32 miles in. I rounded up to 33.5 for 60 on the weekend and then we agreed to snag a ride to the brewery with Amy - another neighbor - who was out as a roving aid station. I finished the last mile or two at a good up-tempo pace and felt like I could have run quite comfortably for another 20 miles at that pace. Despite the flat, tedious nature of this run, it was good to feel so strong at the tail end of a 60-mile weekend.

Total: 109 miles (7,000')

Being in San Diego for a long week of work was by no means ideal timing at this critical stage of the training process, but flat routes make for quick mileage which is reflected in the weekly total. Reflecting back now, the quicker road mileage on hard surfaces is probably just as useful as grinding away in the hills, if not more so as it offered a good change of pace and a chance to work different muscle groups. With the big weekend mileage, this was a good week and much better than I initially thought it would be.  

Week Ending June 8 

Mon - Off. Felt a little sore from the weekend, so decided to be smart and take a day off.

Tues - 5 miles (1,000') easy on the Falls loop. Still pretty lackluster in the leg department.
PM: 6 miles @ the track. Feeling kinda gimpy still, I almost bailed on the workout, but figured I'd show up and just run tempo type efforts, even with the 2k, 8 x 400 planned workout. Ran the 2k with Sarah @ 6:00 pace, then went: 82, 77, 76, 75, 74, 74, 73, 72.

Weds - AM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Jogged out a super easy Horsetooth summit (115) and felt like the legs were finally starting to come around.
PM: 6 miles (500') easy on the Blue Sky Trail.

Thurs - AM: 10.5 miles (1,500') easy. Bluesky/Indian Summer with Sarah, Mike & Garcia. It's always fun to get these early AM miles in with friends.
PM: 9.5 miles (2,000') steady. Ran a high 33 on Towers with Burch at what was supposed to be a 36 min effort. I was relieved to see the time on the watch as it felt a good bit harder than 36 mins is supposed to feel.

PM: 6 miles (500') easy on Blue Sky.

Sat - 19.5 miles (1,800') race. A fifth win at Wyoming's oldest (continuous) footrace. Just a few seconds off my Pilot Hill PR, which came as something of a surprise, as I was expecting to be a good two minutes off my time from last year. The fitness it would seem is about in the general ballpark of where it needs to be. But that is just a small piece of the puzzle.

Sun - 20.5 miles (3,200) easy. Ran a double Bobcat Ridge with Danny, although bailed at Powerline on the second as my legs just had nothing and I was generally disinterested with being out running. Nonetheless, it was good to get the mileage completed.

Total: 90 miles (12,300')

Three weeks out from Western States now, and while I would have liked to have seen a bigger number on the final week of training before the start of my standard three-week taper, I'm just not sweating it. I've been through this process five times now, so there will be no surprises on race day.

It was fun as always to be up in Laramie Wyoming this past weekend to catch up with friends there, and also to get a read on my fitness through the Pilot Hill 25k Litmus Test. I had to work hard for it this year, thanks to a very fit Chris Schabron, so the final time is reflective of a harder effort perhaps than usual, but to come within half a minute of last year (despite a one min slower climb) is indicator enough for me that the fitness is 'good enough.' I'm not going to lie and state that I feel totally on top of my game, as I don't, but I do feel plenty strong. Western States this year will come down to execution. And my gut.

I've run the race enough times now that I feel confident in executing a race plan designed to get me to the finish as quickly as possible. I feel no pressure whatsoever to run with the lead group, a trap that sank me last year and came close to doing so in 2012. This year I plan on running the cliched 'smart race.' I will stay on the reins until Foresthill and then let my wiser-than-his-age pacer (Jake Rydman) take me home at a pace appropriate for my condition and distance to the finish line. Indeed, I want to run the last 20 miles this year the same way I did in 2010, finishing in a racing frame of mind (versus pure survival) with the same 60 minute split from Highway 49, and preferably coming in under Mike Morton's master's best of 15:40 from last year.

With regards to gut issues, I had great luck at UTMF with VFuel's new Cool Citrus flavor diluted in water. Unfortunately, I ran out at the key moment just before the toughest section of the course, and my gut predictably went to crap. But the consistent energy highs I was having until that point on a totally settled stomach was a major revelation. I'm coming to CA armed with 50 Cool Citrus gels this time around and have a newfound confidence in my gut. If I can stay solid there, I know my legs will give me what I need.

So there it is. The training block has been somewhat patchy and definitely low on volume relative to previous years, but I feel like the mental game will be where it needs to be and I have high hopes for the nutrition side of the equation too. Those two pieces - if executed - will more than make up for a few missed training runs.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Five Weeks Ending May 11

Chipping away here to see if I can't get caught up on this blog before I toe the line at Western States in three and a half weeks. It has been an incredibly busy last couple of months, so the old blog has had to take a back seat as other priorities have demanded my time. With the summer season now pretty much in full effect here on the Front Range, things are finally beginning to ease up a bit and I can start catching up with other items on the to-do list.

The long and the short of the last few months is that I raced a couple of big races, a 100 miler included; put on a 50 miler; traveled a good bit for work; chauffeured kids around town; turned 40; squeezed in mileage; knocked out my 100th Horsetooth of the year; and attempted to be a good husband to boot. The usual stuff. Next year, I plan on calming things down significantly by taking a few things off my plate. I really don't enjoy being madly busy.

And now I find myself a few short weeks removed from the 'Big dance,' 'the Track Race,' 'the Showdown in the Sierras.' That's right, Western States has crept up and it's almost time to start thinking about tapering. The last three weeks - missing from the recap below - have been pretty solid, so I'm happy enough with where my fitness is right now even if, in relative terms, I might be a half step behind where I've been in past years. But the beauty of the 100 mile race is that pure fitness is by no means the be all and end all of competing successfully. It's important for sure, but so is being in the right head space, having experience, possessing superior physical & mental toughness, and a whole host of race-day intangibles. Throw a Yahtzee on race day and I could end up PR'ing and challenging again for a podium spot - fitness be damned. Launch an air ball, and, well, you know, I may not even get to the finish line. Such a fickle distance.

Anyway, I am very calm about this year's race, especially as I've barely had a moment to think about it, and I'm quietly confident that I'll end it out with another top 10 finish to my name. In the name of keeping things simple, I'm setting no other goals.

In other news, I'll be heading off to South Africa in November for the race of a lifetime at SkyRun South Africa. Not only is the race taking part in a fantastically remote subrange of the Drakensberg Mountains bordering Lesotho - navigation skills required - but this will be my first ever trip to the African continent and one that will include a host of other non-race-related activities that promise to be equally as fun. This has already been an incredible year for run-travel opportunities, so I really couldn't think of a better capstone to a memorable 2014, my 40th year on this planet.

Anyway, to get caught up:

Week Ending April 13

This was Mount Fuji 100 minus three weeks. The plan here was to put in a regular week of training to be concluded with a training race weekend at the Lake Sonoma 50. The week was composed of mainly Horsetooth summits, a 31 minute Towers time trial and otherwise easy mileage.

The Lake Sonoma weekend was as fabulous as always, with picture perfect weather, a fun wine tasting the day after the race, and a hugely impressive field of runners to watch perform on race day. My plan going into this one was to pace things at slightly quicker than 100 mile effort, perhaps run at the pointy end of the women's field, test out the UTMF gear set-up, and come out the other end feeling intact and ready to race 100 miles in two weeks time.

Ian Sharman and I had exchanged emails leading up to the race and had decided to run the race together as we were both looking for nothing more than a solid long-run workout, but as he was in the port-a-john when the gun went off that never happened. Instead, I found myself running the first half of the race in the small three-runner group of lead women. Emily Harrison was doing most of the running, with Stephanie Howe and Jodee-Adams seemingly content to follow. About 20 miles in, Emily made a decisive move that would be good enough to propel her to the win and course record. Meanwhile, I was happy to keep things steady, take my time at the aid stations and generally enjoy the day.

Lingering in the penultimate aid station, with 12 miles left to go, I was a little surprised to have Kaci Lickteig catch up to me, clearly running a well-paced race and forcing me to notch my now-lazy effort a rung or two. The last 10 miles passed by a lot quicker than they have the last two years when I've typically found myself slogging pretty hard to get to the finish. Coming into the quarter mile out and back down to the last aid station, five miles from the finish, we passed Stephanie Howe in second. This clearly lit a fire under Kaci and she was off to the races, while I hung out at the aid station shooting the breeze with the volunteers for a couple of minutes. Heading back out I crossed paths with Ian and he would (finally) catch up to me with a few miles left to the finish. A couple of miles out from the aid we caught back up to Kaci and tried to drag her along to see if we couldn't track down Stephanie. We never did, but it was fun to finish out the race with an up-tempo last couple of miles, and to also keep the Ian & Nick bromance alive by crossing the line as one, ending up in 7:37, good for a mid-teen finish in the overall placings against a fast crop of runners.

I got back out to the lake the next day for an hour or so of super easy mileage and felt great, closing out a 100 mile week with 20,000'+ and feeling like I'd put in just the right effort the day before. I came away from the Sonoma weekend with a good sense of confidence for a strong run in Japan.

The bromance lives on! Pic: Ultrarunning Magazine
Week ending April 20

I typically do a three-week taper before goal 100 mile races, but as UTMF sat right in the middle of the Western States training block, I decided instead to begin a shorter two-week taper after Lake Sonoma. The only goal for this week therefore was to knock out the six remaining Horsetooth summits I needed for 100 on the year before my Saturday flight out to Tokyo. Mileage was right around 60 on the week, with something in the vicinity of 10,000 feet of vert.

Ziggy gave me a kiss for my 99th summit.
Downing Sake at 6:30 am for my 100th Horsetooth of the year. With Celeste, Pete, Slusher, Ryan, Sarah and Emily.
Week Ending April 27

Flew out to Tokyo on the Saturday and arrived on Sunday feeling not too worse for wear. I checked into an economy room I'd booked by the airport, which was a whole lot bigger than I was expecting, and then snuck out for a gentle five miler on some of the Narita back roads. Geez, I even found a little section of trail to roll on for a while. The trip was off to a good start.

Trail and greenery in Narita.
After another morning jaunt on the Narita loop early Monday, I caught a train into Tokyo to meet up with the incomparable Takashi Fukuchi, Altra's man in Japan. With the help of his wonderful wife, Rae, I would be given the royal treatment for the rest of my stay. Really, as fun as the race itself was, the lasting memories from this trip will come from the wonderful human interactions and generous hospitality that I encountered while in Japan.

We stayed a couple of days in Tokyo, visiting a few trail and outdoor store accounts of Takashi's, getting out for the classic Imperial Palace 5k loop, and eating tons of great food. The trail market is clearly thriving in Japan, just as it is in the United States, probably more so when one considers the Japanese love of gear, a love affair that might even rival that of the continental European need for trail-running 'stuff.'
Views from the Imperial Palace 5k loop.
First pair of Olympus Altras to hit Japan at Run Boys! Run Girls!
More Japanese Altras.
The Altra crew.
Wednesday, we met up with one of the Altra founders, Brian Beckstead and his (very pregnant) wife, Zanna, before taking off for Kawaguchiko and the general Fuji area. I'll save the rest of the Fuji experience for a separate post, but the short and dirty is that the first 70 miles were about as good as they get. However, a bowl of miso soup soon thereafter turned the whole race on its head and I ended up facing a tortured, stomach-turning last 30 miles. Somehow, I still managed to crack the top 10, and ended up being incredibly happy to simply get to the finish and complete the circumnavigation of a truly impressive mountain.

With the race and various jogging outings, the week came in at about 128 miles w ~30,000' of accumulated gain.

Week Ending May 4

Flew back to Colorado on the Monday, then took the next few days off despite feeling remarkably unscathed from the 105 miles it took to get around Mount Fuji.

I got out Thursday for an early 8 miles with Sarah on the Blue Sky Trail, and while I could definitely feel a good bit of fatigue in the pins, soreness was almost completely lacking. Nonetheless, I capped the run at 8 miles rather than the originally intended 10.

Friday, Saturday & Sunday, I got out and bagged Horsetooth summits (101, 102, 103), with runs of between 6 and 10 miles. Total running on the week was 31 miles w/ 6,000' of vert.

Week Ending May 11

Despite feeling like I got out of Japan in pretty good physical shape, I decided to keep to the game plan of taking two weeks of significantly reduced mileage to aid the recovery process. Maintaining discipline here was aided significantly by the fact that I had a 50 mile race to pull off that weekend.

The week consisted of two Horsetooth summits (105) and the course-marking process which began Wednesday in a hailstorm and ended Friday afternoon with JoeGFM on a casual Horsetooth loop to take care of the loose ends on the heavily trafficked trails near the main trailhead. Saturday and Sunday I didn't run a step.

As always, it was extremely gratifying to put on the Quad Rock Trail Races. This year, we catered to over 360 starters and enjoyed our typical mixed May conditions of sun, cloud and rain. All in all, Pete and I were happy with how the day unfolded, and judging from the post-race survey we conducted it seems that most of our runners were too. We'll be sharing the results of the survey here in the near future once we've (well, once Gary David has) been able to convert the raw data to a digest'able report. In the meantime, we've got a post-race wrap of the day on the race website here.

Total on the week was 40 miles w/9,000' vert. 

Stay tuned for more gripping catch up reporting and maybe even a race report or two.