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.



  1. Awesome. Looking forward to following the race in a few weeks.

  2. 15:40! Damn, game on.

  3. Can't wait to help ... It was 107 last Saturday, may have dodged the >100deg heat this year. 90's aint too bad :)

  4. So this time you won't spend the first half ahead of me and the second half behind? Ballsy plan...

  5. AJW - I have been informed that, in fact, I 'only' need to run a 15:44 to reset the masters record. Game on indeed.

    Ian - nah, not ballsy, just trying to execute the lessons learned from last year. Looking for three Brits in the top 10 in 2014. Will have to make sure Jez gets the memo.

  6. Nice synopsis Nick. Will be rooting hard for you in a few weeks time.

  7. Looks like you're ready for it. Am probably more excited for number 5 (for both of us) than the first 4. It helps that we don't have to worry about an east coast race 3 weeks later!

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