Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekly Summary: Jan 24-30 & Jan Totals

Mon-AM: 14 miles (2:20) Bear & Green, 4200'
Great run up my two favorite mountains. Fern Canyon is in excellent shape right now with great Microspike conditions above the Nebelhorn Saddle. Legs felt good the whole run.
PM: 8 miles (1:02) Kittredge Fields
Jogged to the field, did 6mi barefoot, and jogged back.  1st half with Jocelyn.

I guess Scott missed me at Outdoor Retailer last week. Both our schedules have been busy and we haven't been able to run together as much lately. Photo: Jenny Uehisa.
Tue-AM: 14 miles (2:12) Bear & Green, 4200'
Wonderful clear morning. Met Joe at the mouth of Fern (he started from Cragmoor, while I started from home) and had an excellent jaunt up the mountain. Breezy on top of Bear but there was a nice wind-shadow just barely on the east side of it. Joe turned back at the top of Green for another trip back over Bear and I ripped down the perfectly packed Greenman trail to go to class. Great run.
PM: 8 miles (1:03) Kittredge Fields
Easy 6mi of barefoot on the turf, mostly w/ Jocelyn.

Wed-AM: 14 miles (2:20) Bear & Green, 4200'
A bit tired today, so took it easy; beautiful morning.  Ran with Aaron for a bit on the Mesa trail before heading up Fern Canyon.
PM: 8 miles (1:04) Kittredge Fields
4.5mi barefoot after stopping by the store for some apples.
Some of the nasty steep terrain above the Nebelhorn Saddle on the climb to the summit of Bear Peak. This steep, luge-like trail is perfect for a sharp pair of Microspikes.
The out-of-focus nature of this shot is appropriate considering what running this kind of grade typically does to one's vision.  Terrain like this facilitates the +1700' in ~1.3mi stats on this route. 
Despite its steepness, reaching this final stretch of talus that leads to the summit post always invokes a feeling of relieved satisfaction in making it up this burly peak yet again.
Thu-AM: 14 miles (2:18) Bear & Green, 4200'
Yesterday's warm temps shrunk some of the ice/snow on the trails, almost to where spikes are becoming too much--except for the steep upper reaches of Bear Peak.  Microspikes are still great up there.  The warm weather continued this morning--Front Range winters are ideal.
PM: 8 miles (1:07) Kittredge
Was back late from a water conference in Denver, but still got in 4.5mi barefoot.

Fri-AM: 14 miles (2:07) Bear & Green, 4200'
Feeling jazzed by a little extra sleep and temps in the upper 60s (!) I cranked through this run feeling great.  Split a 27:05 from the Mesa to the summit of Bear which I guess, technically, is a PR, but I know I can go a good bit faster.  Afterwards, had an acupuncture session with Allison Suddard.  Need to start hitting those more consistently now that I'm training hard again.  I'm sure they'll factor into post-Rocky recovery.
PM: 8 miles (1:02) Kittredge
Easy 6mi of barefoot down at the field with Joe.

The summit of Bear Peak on a 68F January day in Boulder. The Green Mt summit is under my nose.
The shadow of Bear Peak projected into Bear Canyon, which separates it from Green Mt to the right.
One good reason to run up a peak every day is for this view of the Continental Divide.
Sat-AM: 14 miles (2:19) Bear & Green, 4200'
Started out feeling a little slow, but once I got in Fern Canyon I found a good rhythm and bopped my way to the top.  Really good energy towards the end of the run. Ran into Jeff in the Gregory lot as he was heading out for a virgin hike up Green with Isabelle.
PM: 8 miles (1:03) Kittredge
Totaled 5mi of barefoot around the fields.

Sun-AM: 14 miles (2:14) Bear & Green, 4200'
Got out with Scott and Joe for a final circuit of the local peaks before I take a week or two race-enforced reprieve from them.

-Miles: 146
-Hours: 22h 11min
-Vertical: 29,400'
  • For January, I ran 748 miles/111h 28min and climbed 119,400' vertical.  Summited Green 32 times and Bear 9 times.
These past seven days have kind of been a mostly Joe G-inspired revelation regarding the beauty and merit of the Fern Canyon trail on the northeastern slopes of Bear Peak.  Before this week, I think I'd run up Bear Peak via Fern a total of only four times, and the reason for that was my general derision at the notion of it actually being considered a "run".  The snow conditions on the route earlier in the week (before the considerable melting of the past few days) helped change that perspective in my mind (the packed, smoothed surface made maintaining a running cadence quite a bit easier, with the help of Microspikes, of course) and I'm now sold on the merit of negotiating such steep terrain on a nearly daily basis.

There are a number of reasons I think Bear Peak/Fern Canyon is worthwhile:

1) From my doorstep it allows for a ~14mi/2ish hour loop that has less than 2mi of pavement but still allows for a long, leisurely warm-up via a traverse of the Mesa Trail.  When I typically hit Green Mt first, for the past five months I have been usually contrivedly adding on a paved "warm-up loop" through the University Hill district that has generally raised my mental ire (traffic noise, cigarette-smoking college students, etc.) but allowed my legs to wake up before the climb up Gregory Canyon or Amphitheater.  Running the Bear-Green Loop has totally eliminated the need for this and my mood has noticeably brightened, mostly because dirt in the form of the McClintock Trail is a 5min jog from my door.

2) While undoubtedly steep and totally on the edge of runnable most of the way, it is runnable and makes most anything else feel easy and mellow in comparison.  For instance, the climb of Green Mt on this loop is a nice little 14min/1000'/1mi pop via the Green-Bear trail that now seems almost pleasantly trivial.  After just one week on the route I've already begun to develop different "gears" dictated by my energy levels and managed to still keep them all running.  That is, I can have an off/bad day on Fern and still run almost everything.  It's not necessarily default-hard.

3) Running down Bear's West Ridge is, for some reason, way more pleasureable than running up it, which is good because the views are spectacular.

4) I think the skill of negotiating super-steep terrain by seamlessly switching back and forth between a power-hike and uphill tap-tap trot is valuable for any mountain runner interested in taking techy, direct routes that aren't always 100% runnable.  For instance, on the Fern trail there are about three short little segments that require to briefly fall into a hike--the first little crude log "ladder", the super-sharp rock upper-body "push-up" step just above the Nebelhorn Saddle, and the 30-40yard section of plate-y talus ~5 1/2min from the summitpost.  It's a good skill for racing (where hiking steep stuff can happen a lot if one is interested in self-preservation over the course of racing 100 miles) and just general mountain bipedal travel.

5) Two summits every day (of which Bear Peak is objectively more aesthetic).  Enough said.

So, post-Rocky, I will probably continue to keep this loop in very regular rotation.  And now, just because, a little track from The Walkmen that has been dominating my mind for the past week.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hardrock 100 Applicants List

Island Lake as seen from ~13k' Grant-Swamp Pass on the Hardrock Course. Photo: Klas Eklof.
The Hardrock 100 is, in my opinion, the most aesthetically-pure long-course mountain race in the country, maybe the world (UTMB is likely up there, too).  Tons of vertical, outlandish scenery, altitude, loop course, it has it all.  This makes it very enticing to a lot of runners; right now there are 549 runners on the applicant list, only 140 of which will actually toe the line.  On top of those already long odds is the ticket system that is inherently exclusive to first-time applicants.

Looking back toward Grant-Swamp Pass from the climb to ~13k' Oscars Pass. Photo: Klas Eklof.
Nonetheless, this year at least, that hasn't stopped a lot of arguably the best 100 mile mountain racers in the world--along with a couple dozen other proven 100 mile mountain performers--from trying to get into the race.

To wit:

Julien Chorier
Nick Clark
Dakota Jones
Scott Jurek
Hal Koerner
Anton Krupicka
Karl Meltzer
Geoff Roes
Mike Wolfe
John Anderson
Dylan Bowman
Jeff Browning
Duncan Callahan
Jared Campbell
Yassine Diboun
Joe Grant
Matt Hart
Andy Jones-Wilkins
Nick Pedatella
Nathan Yanko
Darcy Africa
Diana Finkel
Anita Ortiz

Hardrock has the potential to rival Western States as the de facto national championship of 100 mile racing in the country.  Obviously, the statistics are such that this simply won't happen, but it sure is a compelling proposition.  I understand and respect the intent and spirit of the Hardrock Board's decisions, but the mountain runner in me can't help but salivate at the prospect of racing that kind of field over such a worthy course.  Maybe one of these years, the stars will align...

Approaching the finish of Hardrock on the descent into Arastra Gulch. Photo: Klas Eklof.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekly Summary: Jan 17-23

Foreshortened Green Mt. from the mouth of Skunk Canyon.
Mon-AM: 14 miles (2:11) Green Mt., 3000'
Overnight Chinook winds turned all the ice/snow to soft mush which made for very slow trail conditions.
PM: 12 miles (1:28) BHS Track
3mi warm-up then: 2x2mi+1mi @ 10:59 (5:31, 5:28), 10:53 (5:27, 5:26), 5:14 (2:40, 2:34) with 3min/1-lap recovery jogs in between repeats. 3.5mi cooldown.  From the start I knew this one was going to be tough due to dead legs from the weekend's 45mi long run, so I cut a mile off of the planned 3x2mi session at 5:30 pace.  Happy to have gotten this in despite the non-ideal timing.

Feeling pretty incompetent in a foreign setting. Scott (on the far turn) joined me every other lap. Photo: Jenny Uehisa.
Tue-AM: 14 miles (2:07) Green Mt., 3000'
The cold temps overnight set the ice/snow up nicely for one of the more pleasant footing experiences I've had on the mountain recently.  Bear Cyn was still awkwardly mixed, though.
PM: 8 miles (1:05) Creek Path+Kitt
Easy bit with Jocelyn and then 4mi barefoot at Kitt.  Ran into Schlarb there and we did a couple miles together before I jogged home.

Wed-AM: 14 miles (2:16) Bear Pk & Green Mt., 4200'
Enjoyed doing this loop this way because it allows for a mellow rolling warm-up along the Mesa trail before the real climbing begins in Fern Canyon.  Fern was awkwardly iced and I should've just left the Microspikes off until the Nebelhorn Saddle, but above that there was often almost perfect purchase on the steep, packed pitches of ice and snow.  I felt decent on the climb up Green and then enjoyed more good snow conditions on Greenman. Except for the really steep stuff like upper Fern the trails are probably best experienced in screw-shoes right now. Mild inversion this morning made for a scenic sunrise, too.
PM: 13 miles (2:02) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Greenman-Gregory in the dark and falling snow.  I had my headlamp but it was a nice bright night with the new snow and (nearly?) full moon, even if that moon was mostly behind a good layer of clouds. Idyllic winter evening out on the mountain.  Finished up with a trip to the grocery store and a some snow shoveling.

Thu-AM: 14 miles (2:14) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn and Skunk Cyn. Incredibly pretty morning at 12F and with the ~4" of fresh snow on the mountains. I was laying down first (human) tracks on the Green-Bear connector and saw the best set of lion prints I've ever come across.  There were more cat tracks later on down in Bear Cyn. Great run.
PM: 8 miles (1:06) Creek Path
Easy jog with Joe.  Witnessed a most spectacular and long-lasting sunset.
Full moon setting behind the shoulder of Anenome.
Perfect set of lion tracks.  Looking for breakfast?
Microspikes alongside cat paw.
Snow on flatirons at the mouth of Bear Canyon.
And with me.
Fri-AM: 55 miles (7:35) Colorado Springs/Manitou, "only" 8700'
Started at the CRC in downtown Colorado Springs, where I left Jocelyn at Wooglins--lucky girl.  Ran the Mesas to Garden of the Gods to Rampart Range Road (12mi/3000'+ climb to 9400') to the Overlook and then down the vintage ridge route to Waldo Canyon and then up Longs Ranch Road (3mi/2200' climb to 9200') and down to Barr Trail to Manitou to Crystal Park Road (8mi/2500' climb to 8600') to Dog Rock Trail to Section 16 to High Drive to Bear Creek and back to the CRC and then downtown to meet Jocelyn at Ricos to refuel. This was a very solid run. It took me about 3hr to find my groove but I felt very good climbing LRR and on the top half of CPR. The idea was to get in a "flat-ish" long run while still keeping it interesting with gradual climbs (except LRR certainly isn't gradual) and great views.  I expect I felt best on LRR because its grade is closest to what I run on a daily basis on Green Mt. Ate six gels after a breakfast of a couple tortillas and nutella.

I ran the loop in a counterclockwise fashion.
Full Ascents of Rampart Range Road, Longs Ranch Road, and Crystal Park Road. Not an insignificant undertaking.
Classic view of Pikes as seen through the arch created between the Siamese Twins in the Garden of the Gods.
Queen's Canyon as seen from part way up the Rampart Range Rd climb.  This is a geologic beauty in the Springs that many people don't know about because much of it is privately owned by The Navigators.  The preternaturally flat rim is a result of historical limestone mining and is now home to a healthy bighorn sheep population.
The view of Pikes Peak from the top of Rampart Range Rd at 9400'.  That's a lot of vertical relief!
The Longs Ranch Rd (right) and Crystal Park Rd (left) climbs as seen from the summit of RRR.  Kind of intimidating with 35mi left to go and dropping to the bottom of the valleys in between each climb. 12,400' Almagre Mt. can be seen in the upper right corner.
Following big cat prints up the Longs Ranch Rd climb.  The trail was nice and packed from the previous weekend's Ponderous Posterior 50K and Incline Club Double run.
A back-lit Dog Rock on the trail descent from the top of Crystal Park Rd to connect into the Section 16 Loop.
Also from the Dog Rock Trail--a view back across the expansive valley to the burly cleft of Williams Canyon.  Rampart Range Rd can be seen contouring high above it.
Finally, an example of one of the ugly realities of Colorado Springs. This monstrosity has gone up on the edge of Bear Creek Park since I moved away. I used to run this trail every day without this view.
Sat-AM: 12 miles (2:04) Green Mt., 3000'
Running at 5am under a brilliantly bright moon that almost precluded the need for a headlamp.  Up the back and down Greenman-Saddle Rock and then to the grocery store and back for some apples.  Took a while to get the legs working after the long run yesterday, but all in all this was a pleasurable run despite the incredible wind gusts. It was tough to get up this early and run up a mountain after yesterday's long run, but totally worth it. I spent the rest of the day at 10,000' up below Niwot Ridge snowshoeing/digging snowpits and looking at the stratigraphy, etc.
PM: 8 miles (1:03) Skunk Creek Loop
This was mostly a mental toughness run after a long day of physical labor in the cold and snow and an amber ale on an empty stomach at Wild Mountain up in Ned. Got it in, though, and was glad to.

Sun-AM: 14 miles (2:09) Green Mt., 3000'
Finally slept in this morning and felt accordingly fresh as a result. The track on Ranger was perfectly packed for Microspikes while there was almost no snow in Gregory Cyn. Great winter conditions. 25th Green for 2011.
PM: 8 miles (1:04) Creek Path+Kitt
Easy shake-out with 4mi of barefoot on the Kitt turf.

-Miles: 194
-Hours: 28h 24min
-Vertical: 30,900'
Obviously a very good week of running.  I'll probably try and hit one more track workout this week and then it's going to be time for a moderate taper.  It's been a short but good build-up.  I'm pretty much exactly where I would like to be going into an early season race like Rocky: healthy and reasonably fit but certainly not at any razor's edge sort of fitness as I will hopefully reach for the important summer racing season.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekly Summary: Jan 10-16

Mon-AM: 12 miles (2:14) Green Mt., 3000'
Up and down Gregory-Ranger.  There was a solid foot of fresh snow this morning and it was +3F.  These things mean I had the mountain all to myself, breaking fresh trail the whole way and not seeing another soul the entire time I was out there. Absolutely stunning scenery with the new snow; one of the bluest skies I've ever seen. Finished up with a couple miles on the snow-packed streets.
PM: 14 miles (2:14) Green Mt., 3000'
Met Joe and Scott and headed up the backside of Green again in the fading light.  It looked like only a couple more people had been up since my run this morning, but it was still incredible to be out in the snow.  Chatted with Jeff briefly on Ranger, who was descending.  Switched on our headlamps once we were on the ridge then.  Had a raucous descent in the powder and finished up with a trip to the grocery store.

Gregory Canyon
Indian Peaks

Tue-AM: 14 miles (2:23) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn.  Heavily drifted on Ranger ridge. Sub-zero temperatures this morning, which is always pretty notable.
PM: 9 miles (1:11) Goose Creek Loop
Legs felt good.  Just cruising easy in the dark and ice.

Green summit
Wed-AM: 14 miles (2:17) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn. Some kind of feathered creature was slaughtered by something with paws right at the mouth of Bear Canyon. Feathers and entrails everywhere. Legs felt good but the snow is still slow.
PM: 13 miles (2:04) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Greenman-Gregory.  Great run in the dark.  Legs felt good but the trail could still use some more packing.

Thu-AM: 12 miles (2:03) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn. Slow, mushy snow conditions enforced an easy pace.
PM: 13 miles (2:00) Green Mt., 3000'
Best run I've had up the mountain in a while.  Snow melted a ton today and my legs felt good.  Got this in quick before the Boulder Trail Runners talk at Sherpas.

Fri-AM: 14 miles (2:00) Green Mt., 3000'
Ugh. Tired run up the back with Joe. Lots of street running afterwards.

Sat-AM: 45 miles (6:32) Mt. Buckhorn+Ponderous Posterior 50K, 8600'
Left Boulder early and was running from Bear Creek Nature Center in Colorado Springs by 7am. Ran the 2000' Mt. Buckhorn climb (via High Drive both up and down) and then ran through Red Rocks to get to JT's in time for the 9am start of the Ponderous with an extra 13mi/1h45 in my legs. This run was a total blast. I absolutely love the COS trails and it was a lot of fun sharing them with a group of friends old and new.  By starting last we benefited from a moderately packed trail on the 2000' Longs Ranch Road climb to 9200' and then Joe, Jacob, Scott and I enjoyed a splendid descent of the classic lower three miles of Barr Trail. The timing of the waves in the morning worked out very well as we were catching runners all along the Intemann Trail and through Red Rocks Canyon Open Space into the finish. I was particularly pleased with the route that JT picked through Red Rocks and the new trail on the knife ridge ending at 31st Street.  Legs felt good all day until I stubbornly suffered through a healthy bonk the last 30min or so due to only four gels on the day.  Loaded up later at Jocelyn's and my favorite restaurant in town: Ricos/Poor Richards.

Headed up Rampart Range Road with Tom and Scott in the first half of the PP50K.  Pikes Peak towers before us much as it would all day. Man, I love running in the Springs.  Photo: Alex Nichols.
Sun-AM: 14 miles (2:08) Green Mt., 3000'
Definitely tired from yesterday's run, but the trail surface was very tacky with the Microspikes. Took the long way up Gregory-Greenman and came down Bear Cyn.
PM: 8 miles (1:04) Creek Path+Kitt
Easy in the dark; 2mi barefoot.

-Miles: 182
-Hours: 28h 10min
-Vertical: 35,600'

Great third week of training in this cycle despite the very heavy snow we received early in the week.  The fatigue accrued from four Green's over two days was dissipated by an easy day on Friday and I was able to have a very satisfactory long run on Saturday as a result.  I didn't get in a speed session during the calendar week proper due to the ice/snow and frigid temps in the first half of the week, but I did get after it this afternoon (Monday) down at the BHS track.

My legs were still a bit tired from Saturday's long run, so after my usual 2hr tour of Green this morning I modified my planned afternoon session of 3x2mi (with a 3min/1-lap recovery jog) by chopping off the final mile.  The (mostly arbitrary) goal was 5:30 pace, so I was pleased enough with splits of 10:59 (5:31/5:28), 10:53 (5:27/5:26), and 5:14 (2:40/2:34).

Later in the week I will look to build on this past weekend's long run by adding another hour or so to my final truly long session before the Rocky Raccoon 100 on February 5th.  I certainly won't be at peak fitness for Rocky, but that's fine this early in the season and I just look forward to putting in an honest effort down in Huntsville.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quick Posterior Wrap-Up

It was an excellent day down in Manitou/Colorado Springs for a long run in the mountains.  The first annual Ponderous Posterior Pikes Peak 50K ended up drawing somewhere between 50 and 90 runners across the three distances (a big range, I know, but I'm sure JT has a bit more precise count), and everyone enjoyed temperatures in the 50s and a good mix of snow and dirt out on the trails.

Pikes Peak Sports provided some surprising coverage of the event, which can be found here.

Steve Bremner of Team CRUD also has a photo gallery posted here.

As far as I could gather in between post-run beverages, the final top 50K results went something like this:

1) Justin Ricks 5:19
2) Scott Jaime 5:19
3) Anton Krupicka 5:24
4) Scott Jurek 5:24
5) Jacob Rydman 5:24
6) Joe Grant 5:24

(Again, I'm sure JT has much deeper results.)

I don't know what Justin and Scott were doing up in the 8:00am wave, but I do know that the group I ran with all day (starting at 9:00am) was very liberal in its stopping to eat gels, chatting/waiting at trail junctures, and general soaking up of the gorgeous views and weather.  Our actual running time was 4:49 and I chatted with many runners who Garmined the course right at 31 or 32 miles with ~7000' of vertical gain.  All in all pretty much exactly the kind of times/efforts I expected on the route.

An enormous expression of gratitude must be directed at JT for the gracious offering up of his home for staging the before and after aspects of the event and also to the Team CRUD guys for marking the course excellently, printing maps, and hosting an informal but appreciated and effective aid station at the Waldo Canyon TH parking lot on Highway 24.  Let's make this an annual one!

Joe and Scott head for the hills with the 9am wave. Photo: Jenny Uehisa.
Popping some GUs at the Waldo Canyon turn-off in Williams Canyon. Photo: Alex Nichols.
jLu exiting Williams Canyon on the 17mi course. Photo: Jenny Uehisa.
At the finish with Joe and Scott. Photo: Jenny Uehisa.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ponderous Posterior Pikes Peak 50K

Saturday's backdrop and playground.
Just a final reminder for the Fat Ass 50K occurring down in Manitou/Colorado Springs this weekend.

There will be three waves of starts: 7am, 8am and 9am from JT's house at 321 N. 31st Street in Old Colorado City.  The idea is to time your start so that everyone finishes in the same general data cloud in the early afternoon hours.  There will be a full 50Kish course, a 15mi-ish cut-off, and a 26ish mile course.

The full 50K course will be a ton of fun with a gnarly 2000'+ climb up Longs Ranch Road and a 3mi descent on the famed Barr Trail from No Name Creek, through the storied W's and finally onto Ruxton Ave before joining in with the Intemann Trail to finish out the day.  About 7000' of climbing total; it's a mountain runner's dream.
The full enchilada.

The 26mi course will be the 50K course but skipping out on Longs Ranch.  Instead, after only climbing a half-mile or so turn left onto the Ute Pass Trail (UPT) which rolls its way a couple of miles back to Manitou and Ruxton Ave where you can connect into the Intemann Trail and make your way to the finish.
26mi Course = Junior Status: I mean, really, you've made it this far, you might as well check out the charms of Longs Ranch Road as well...but there always is the option of just cruising the UPT home.
The 15mi course will involve continuing all the way down Williams Canyon back to Manitou where you can take El Paso Blvd and Pikes Peak Ave back to JT's house.  This cut-off will occur after dropping off of Rampart Range Road into the canyon.  Instead of taking a right up to the Waldo Canyon trail stay straight and continue to run down the canyon to town (no special map for the baby route).

Again, no aid, no entry and no whining.  The route will be sparingly marked with orange tape, so be looking for that, but also don't hesitate to print the maps below.  There will be a few maps for handing out at the start and a large laminated map to look at before taking off onto the local trails.

A truck will leave for the Highway 24 Crossing/Waldo Trailhead after the last wave of starters, so feel free to throw whatever supplies you want in there.  I myself will probably just put in a jug of water and some gels.  Also be sure to bring whatever post-run foods and beverages you might enjoy.

Finally, the run will be self-timed with results at the finish being dependent upon your motivation to time yourself and then report it.  I might round up a clipboard between now and then.  All in all, it looks like there should be some fantastic weather with probably a ton of slush and mud considering all the snow this past week and the now warm temperatures.  I'll probably bring a pair of Microspikes down to the Springs but probably won't wear them.  See you there!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011 Racing Plans

First, I want to announce that Scott Jurek, Geoff Roes, Dave Mackey and myself will be part of a casual, largely informal social gathering of the Boulder Trail Runners at Sherpas on 825 Walnut St. here in Boulder tomorrow (Thursday, January 13th) evening at 6:00pm.  Each of us will speak very briefly (a couple minutes) and then will be open to an extensive Q+A session.  The hope is that it will be quite interactive, so come on out!

Obligatory current shot of Boulder, CO's iconic Flatirons on the face of Green Mt.
Second, I think I've mostly roughed out the goal races in my 2011 trail racing season.  These are my current desires and hopes, but things are always bound to change due to unforeseen circumstances.  My schedule will include a mix of races I've run before and races that are new to me.

Feb 5--Rocky Raccoon 100 Huntsville, TX

March 19--Chuckanut 50K Bellingham, WA

April 9--American River 50 Sacramento, CA

May 7--Miwok 100K Sausalito, CA

June 25--Western States 100 Auburn, CA

August 14--Sierre-Zinal Sierre, CH

August 26--Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc Chamonix, FR

My schedule is pretty much guaranteed through Miwok, but after that things get a little hazy in an "if-then" causal sort of way.

First, I've thrown my name in the Hardrock 100 hat along with a bunch of my like-minded friends (Geoff, Nick Clark, Dakota Jones, Joe Grant, etc.) and if the kind of field I desire (i.e. deep, competitive) materializes there at the hands of the lottery gods (very unlikely), there is a good chance I would forgo Western States.

Second, my ability to make it over to Europe in the second half of the summer for a few weeks is largely a function of my duties as a thesis-writing graduate student.  If these responsibilities dictate my presence stateside, I will obviously forgo the SZ and UTMB races in August and instead insert the excellent White River 50 on July 30th (a very good chance I'll do this anyway), the Pikes Peak Marathon on August 21 and the Wasatch 100 on September 9, Wasatch lottery gods willing, of course.

The common theme amongst all these races is that, excluding Rocky Raccoon and maybe Wasatch, each should be amongst the most competitively deep races of the entire season.  Chuckanut looks set to be an absurdly fraught battle with the likes of Max King, Erik Skaggs, Geoff, Adam Campbell, and Andy Martin all pushing the pace up front.  American River looks slightly weak at this point, but I'm sure there will be the usual solid group of guys forcing the tempo, at least through the flat and fast first 30 miles.  The Headlands will be host to essentially a rematch of this year's TNF50 Championships in the form of the Miwok 100K.  I am looking forward to joining Dave, Geoff and Dakota in battling over those scenic hills once again and won't be surprised if it takes a course record to win it this year.

All in all, such a schedule provides plenty of motivation to strap on a headlamp and trudge through deep powder and single digit temperatures to rack up vertical on early January mornings and late evenings.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Weekly Summary: Jan 3-9

Mon-AM: 13 miles (2:06) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn with Joe and Scott.  NW ridge was more packed out than yesterday and we enjoyed classic winter trail conditions all-around.  Some great sunshine, too.
PM: 10 miles (1:17) Golf Course-Old Tale Loop
Legs felt good running in the dark.

Profile on the summit of Green. Photo: Joe Grant.
Tue-AM: 16 miles (2:41) Green & Bear, 4400'
Ugh.  Kind of a tough run with Scott.  The track up the back of Green was in its best shape yet, but I was feeling pretty worked by the top of Green.  The plan was to tag Bear, though, too, so up the West Ridge we went and while it was looser footing it wasn't too bad following Scott's pace even as I proceeded to bonk something fierce.  The footing in Fern was excellent thanks to Microspikes--a real pleasure compared to its character when dry--and I happily survived the run back home via Mesa in the brilliant sunshine.
PM: 7 miles (1:00) Creek Path
Took it really easy, running late in the dark.

Wed-AM: 14 miles (2:10) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Greenman-Gregory. The footing wasn't ideal for Microspikes this morning--packed but too soft and often too loose.  Ran to the grocery store afterwards.
PM: 8 miles (1:05) Creek Path
Easy shake-out jog. A tiny fingernail sliver of a moon was rising over Green's north shoulder.

Thu-AM: 32 miles (4:18) Creek Path Loop+Green Mt., 3300'
With Scott. Started with a 20+ mile loop on (mostly) pavement on the creek paths around town: Boulder Creek Path to 28th, up to Broadway, down Broadway to the dirt (ice/snow) South Boulder Creek Path, back north to Goose Creek to Cottonwood Trail all the way to Jay Rd where we flipped around and ran back on Goose Creek to Edgewood Dr and 20th.  Stopped by Jurker's and then my house to pick up Microspikes and then did a lap on Green, up the back.  I felt very strong on Green and the pavement stuff was in the 6:45-7:10 range.  My calf tightened up some from all the pavement, but it was generally a good first long run back (despite the wicked winds all morning) and should be good simulation for some upcoming races.

Thursday's long run is easily the most sustained pavement I've run since the run shown here: early bike path miles at the American River 50 in April 2008 (And, as you can see here, we were all sneaking as much dirt as we could).
Fri-AM: 14 miles (2:06) Green Mt., 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman down Bear Cyn. Legs felt surprisingly good and calf was much better than I thought it was going to be. Trail surface is frustratingly mixed right now.  Ridiculously warm.
PM: 8 miles (1:03) Creek Path
Nice evening to be out jogging in the dark.

Sat-AM: 14 miles (2:03) Green Mt., 3000'
Up the back and down Bear Cyn w/ the usual add-ons at the beginning and end. My new shoes gripped wonderfully on the spring-like mix of dirt, ice and packed snow but that did little to inject any significant pep into my stride.  Desultory slog up the mountain then despite the fantastic weather.
PM: 11 miles (1:17) 4 mile+1mi @ BHS track
Felt a little guilty for reneging on my plans to race the Quicker Quaker 5K in Lafayette this morning (lingering concerns about my calf), so I headed to the track in the evening dark for a little test/make-up session. 2.5mi warm-up and then 4mi in 22:06 (5:40, 5:38, 5:34, 5:14), 5min/2-lap jog, then 1mi in 5:13 (80, 80, 77, 76). Eased into the 4mi effort mostly just wanting to cut each mile down a few seconds, but when I felt comfortable after 3mi I opened it up a bit for the last mile. After the recovery jog my quads felt a little strained on the first lap of the final mile so I opted to cruise it in just a tick under my fastest previous mile making it unexpectedly comfortable cardiovascularly.  Obviously, jogging up and down mountains every day builds the heart and lungs but not the turnover so much.  Finished up with a 3mi cooldown, most of it barefoot on the infield.  Good workout.

Sun-AM: 15 miles (2:14) Green Mt., 3000'
Up the back and down Greenman to Flagstaff and Eben G. Fine.  Finished up with a visit to the grocery store before heading home.  I started out in a light snow that turned to an inch+ of accumulation at 9am on the summit and very heavy snowfall by time I made it back to town.  One of those magical, quiet winter days on the trails.
PM: 7 miles (1:08) Mesa trails w/ Jocelyn, 800'
McClintock-Enchanted-Kohler-Skunk Canyon-Campus and home.  Footing was pretty dodgy, but Joce and I had a good time slogging through the heavily-falling snow in the dark.

-Miles: 169
-Hours: 24h 28min
-Vertical: 23,500'

Week #2 of the 2011 training season.  It was good.  A good long run and a good track workout along with consistent vertical and mileage.  Also the second week in a row that I've finished one mile below a round number.  Thursday reminded me that my calf is still touchy and I need to continue to be careful with it.  School starts back up again this week and with TAing this semester I should be especially busy.  With a little extra discipline, though, I think I should be able to keep all areas of my life productive.  It should be an especially exciting year of racing, too, which I'll probably outline in a future post.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions

From time to time I get a fair number of repeat questions in the Comments sections of my blog posts.  So, as one such commenter suggested a while back, I thought it would make some sense to answer a lot of these questions, once and for all, all in one public place (and then link it in the side bar), so that hopefully people see the link, read the page and then don't need to either sift back through countless comment sections or post another comment of inquiry.  Part of the utility/beauty of a blog is its interactive format, but it is my hope that this particular page will save all of us a little time in the future.

What kind/model of shoes do you wear?
I wear New Balance shoes.  As of February 2013, my main shoe is the MT110. Light, low-to-the-ground, and with exceptional precision on technical terrain, I love that shoe.  In the winter I wear the MT110W, which is the 110 with an integrated zip-up gaiter.  These are great for many of the high-mountain missions I do in the winter where open mesh would mean frozen toes.  However, I am nearly always trying out some early-version prototype of various models of NB shoes (usually of either the 100-series or the Minimus-series), so these see some fairly heavy rotation as well.

Do you ever wear socks while running?
For much of my running career it was pretty rare if the weather was warm. I pretty much always wear socks in winter. However, in 2012 I started doing a lot of my running off-trail on steep, scrambly terrain.  This meant that I was getting a lot more gravel, dirt, scree, and loose forest debris coming into my shoes so I began wearing over-the-ankle socks quite a bit so that when this stuff does come into my shoes it doesn't affect my comfort. Probably my favorite sock is the Swiftwick Pursuit 4 which is a Merino Wool compression sock that is 4" high.  I love wool, the compression means it never falls down (something I always hated about socks), and the height is great for scree or snow.

How many miles of barefoot do you run per week?
It varies depending on the season (more in summer, less in winter), but I usually get 15-20mpw as true barefoot, which serves mainly for me to work on my form and keep my feet and lower legs strong.  All of this is done as barefoot laps around a flat, half-mile grass loop here in Boulder tacked on to the end of a longer run.

What is your typical diet/how do you eat enough to run that much?
I don't have one.  I consciously try to eat a lot of fresh, local fruits and vegetables, often purchased from the local farmer's market (April-November), but I definitely tend to eat a whole lot of straight-up carbs/sugar in the forms of pasta, breads, muffins, scones, cookies, Nutella on tortillas, chai, etc.  I probably eat too much sugar.  I don't eat any fast food, except for Illegal Pete's (local Chipotle-style burritos) here in Boulder, if that qualifies.

In terms of eating enough to handle the mileage, I don't have a secret diet, however, I think I probably do have a fairly unique (i.e. slow) metabolism, because I don't feel like I eat a ridiculous amount.  Or, maybe the quantity I eat is all I've ever known and it actually is a ridiculous amount.  Or, maybe other people just eat too much relative to the amount of activity they have in their lives thereby making my diet not feel so out of place.  I don't know.

Sweet carbs: a monster pan of pumpkin walnut chocolate chip muffins I baked.
Do you do any strength work?
Not really.  In high school I used to lift weights a lot.  I could bench press my body weight (150 lbs) twelve times.  In college I used to climb a lot and in addition to all the time on the rock I would regularly do pull-ups to assist in my efforts on the crag.  Now, however, any strength work is limited to a nominal, <5min core routine (total of ~150 reps of various crunches, some planks, etc.) that I'll do maybe 5x a week and some very specific hip/adductor/abductor strengthening exercises that I'll do to help prevent my form from breaking down as much late in a long race and causing my left knee to hurt.

Do you do any stretching?
Basically none, but I've recently realized the importance of maintaining some elasticity in my lower legs (achilles, soleus, calves, etc.), so I have begun paying a little closer attention to that, but no real formal routine of any type.

Do you get any massage, acupuncture, etc.?
I get frequent acupuncture work done courtesy of Allison Suddard at Peak Performance Acupuncture.  Despite being a pretty big skeptic, I began this type of treatment in early 2010 as a reference from Dr. Jeremy Rodgers at Colorado Sports Chiropractic (my preferred sportsmed doc) in order to improve the vascularity in my right patellar tendon (generally speaking) and have since found the Trigger Point Therapy to be very useful in preventing the usual little aches, pains and niggles that accompany hard training from turning into full-blown injuries.  This past year (2010) has been, by far, my most injury-free and consistent year of running of my entire career so far (only 16 days total off from running, with 12 being injury-related and almost all because of my strained calf this past month), and while I also like to credit this to accreted wisdom and a sense of relative moderation on my part, I know that regular acupuncture (probably an average of almost weekly sessions over the course of the year) has been a key factor in achieving that consistency in my running.

EDIT (6/23/2011): This spring I had my first sport massages from Jeff Staron at Boulder Sport and Injury, and while they were excrutiatingly painful, they seemed to be helpful in dealing with my posterior tibial tendonitis and I'd highly recommend him.

How (physically, financially, logistically, mentally) do you run so much?
Physically, it's something I've been doing for a long time (since 1995, first marathon in 1996 at age 12), so I have a relatively monstrous life-time base by this point (~57,000 miles at the end of 2010).  Also, I've had my fair share of injuries, but in general I think I'm blessed with fairly efficient, neutral biomechanics.

Financially, I've been quite frugal my entire life--some times radically so--and this has allowed me to get by with much less than what might be considered the norm.  With parents who were a high school teacher and a non-profit director/farmer, frugality has always basically been a necessity in my life and a habit I am thankful that my parents taught me.  I have spent several months at a time living voluntarily in my S-10 pick-up, The Roost.  I am fortunate to be supported by a research assistantship for my graduate studies and various sponsors, most significantly New Balance, in my running.  Combined with occasional free-lance writing/production of on-line content and running store/coffee shop gigs here and there, it has always been more than enough.

Logistically, it comes down to making running a no-brainer habit and nearly unassailable priority--oftentimes at the detriment of other things (not always good).  It comes down to basic discipline and living-out of a specific value-structure.

Mentally, ditto.

Frugal summer living in the Roost by the Dewey Bridge on the Colorado River near Moab, UT. Photo: Joe Grant.
Where/how do you carry your camera when you run?
When I carry a camera (a low-profile Sony Cybershot) running I keep it tucked in my waistband in an old soft eye-glasses case that has a clip on it.  I barely notice it most of the time.

What do you use to track time, distance, vertical gain, etc.?
My main piece of electronica is a Highgear Axio Max watch/altimeter.  It has a barometric altimeter (calculates altitude based on barometric pressure, not GPS), which I have found to be the most accurate type of tool for tracking vertical gain (of course, one must often calibrate the absolute elevation, but it does a pretty good job of catching the positive differentials).  As for mileage, I use a combination of MapMyRun and guesswork, usually.  I have a pretty good feel for what kind of pace I'm running/how fast I'm climbing and can usually come up with a pretty close estimate just based on running time.  However, some sections of trail (for example, Fern Canyon here in Boulder) can be deceiving and a friend's GPS often establishes a depressingly low value for those types of routes (the top of Bear Peak to the Mesa Trail via Fern Canyon is only about 1.5mi, but it drops ~2100' of elevation and typically takes me 16 or 17min...that's slower than 10min/mile pace going down).

How much do you eat/drink while running?
During training, on runs of 4 hours of more I generally eat one GU per hour after the first two hours.  I have found this to usually be enough but certainly not ideal in terms of energy needs.  In the summer I will carry a 20 oz. bottle on runs over 2 hours (and refill at streams when I feel the need).  In the winter, I generally need to be running 4 hours in order to bring a bottle along.  This kind of fueling allows me to keep running but I certainly finish my runs depleted and dehydrated for the most part.  I just replenish this after the run.

During races, depending on the weather and distances between water sources I will carry either one or two 20 oz. bottles.  I also drastically increase my sugar intake, eating a GU every 20-25min.  The plan is to never deprive myself of calories, and hopefully the restricted use in training has increased my body's ability to metabolize fat and hold onto water and salt.

How do you carry what you eat/drink while running?
I have a pair of home-modified running shorts that I can carry up to 10 gels in, which is usually more than enough for my longest training runs.  When I ran around Pikes Peak (68 miles/10hrs without resupply) in November 2010 I simply duct-taped together five more GUs and tucked them into my waistband, so that I was carrying 15 gels from the start.  Water is carried in a 20oz bottle usually with a home-made bike-tube handstrap.  I don't like the way that most waist-packs or backpacks ride while running, so I try to keep things simple and stripped to the essentials.

How do you eat/drink so little while running?
1) Practice 2) I think I have a slower metabolism than most.

Ever have any wildlife encounters?
Of course, but never anything too serious.  I've happened upon bears (a couple dozen over my ten years of running mountains, but no grizzlies), moose (probably the most tense encounters I've had), elk, and innumerable other more minor critters (deer, turkey, coyotes, marmots, etc).  My usual tactic is to be respectful and while I've, unfortunately, never seen a mountain lion it would be a privilege to do so one day.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Weekly Summary: Dec 27-Jan 2

Mon-AM: 13 miles (2:01) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down 1st Flatiron with Scott after running down to the grocery store first.  Crazily mild weather morning but some significant bluster on the summit.
PM: 9 miles (1:30) Green Mt., 2700'
Up back and down 1st Flatiron again but with no flatland jogging around before or after except for getting to and from my doorstep and the trailhead.  Easy effort.

Tue-AM: 14 miles (2:03) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Cyn.  Felt surprisingly spry.
PM: 10 miles (1:12) 4x1mile BHS track with Scott.
2.5mi warm-up, then 5:56, 5:51, 5:45, and 5:29 with a 2min/400m recovery, 2.5mi cooldown.  Overall, this was a very relaxed session designed to just be a rust-buster to test my calf and to reacquaint my legs with sub-6min pace after not running that in a sustained manner for almost two years (4th of July 5K in Leadville).  I'm objectively in pretty bad shape right now, but given today's (general lack of) effort I wouldn't be surprised to string together these miles next week as a 4 mile continuous tempo run with no recovery.  In the future, for mile repeat sessions I'll jog the 400m in 3min for recovery and will eventually be looking to get them in the sub-5:10 range.

Wed-AM: 14 miles (2:07) Green Mt., 3000'
Up Gregory-Greenman and down Bear Cyn.  Ran at 5:15am in order to get it in before heading up to Frisco for an afternoon of the Jurkerman trying to teach me how to skate ski.  I was able to turn off the headlamp half-way down Bear Canyon when I was treated to one of the best sunrises I've seen in Boulder.
PM: 6 miles (:50) Creek Path+Kitt
After an afternoon of skiing I got out for a little shake-out jog that included a visit to the post office and 1.5mi of barefoot.  Skiing definitely engaged some muscles that I haven't used in a while and I haven't decided if that's a good or bad thing.

Benefits of an early morning Green summit.
As seen while returning to Chautauqua via the Mesa Trail.
With Jenny, receiving instruction from Scott.
Thu-AM: 14 miles (2:09) Green Mt., 3000'
Up back and down Bear Canyon with Jurker.  We started in a very very light snow at 8am that increased throughout the run until it turned into a full-blown blizzard with limited visibility coming down Bear Canyon.  Snowing very hard cutting back across on the Mesa and by the time I got back to the house my entire face was obscured in a snow beard, eyebrows and eyelashes.  Awesome winter run!  Fairly uninspired energy on the climb today with mildly sore glutes and plantars from the skiing yesterday.
PM: 8 miles (1:07) Creek Path+Kitt
Easy run in a ton of new snow with it dumping the whole way.

In Bear Canyon with Scott, just before the blizzard hit. Photo: Jenny Uehisa.
With Chief Niwot on the Boulder Creek Path in the evening.
Fri-AM: 14 miles (2:12) Green Mt., 3100'
Up and down Gregory-Ranger with Scott.  Ran down to the park to meet him and jLu and then after our glorious slog-fest on the mountain (first tracks up the hill through ~6-8" of powder) I ran down to the grocery store and back for some fruit.
PM: 8 miles (1:05) Creek Path with Joe
Easy out and back cruiser in the surprisingly cold dark.  Legs felt good.

Sat-AM: 16 miles (2:34) Green Mt., 3200'
Wonderful slog up Gregory-Ranger and down Bear Cyn with Jurker and Geoff.  After gaining the NW ridge we encountered innumerable wind-packed, knee-deep drifts that of course slowed our progress but certainly didn't diminish the joy of the outing.  Surprisingly windless on the summit.  Finished up with a trip to the grocery store and back.  Great first summit of the year.
PM: 9 miles (1:08) Goose Creek Loop
Great jaunt in the darkening evening; had to be wary of ice, though.

Donning Microspikes with Geoff and Jurker on New Year's morning. Photo: Jenny Uehisa
The whole crew. Photo: Jenny Uehisa.
Headed up Gregory Canyon for the first time this year. Photo: Jenny Uehisa.
Sun-AM: 16 miles (2:23) Green Mt., 3200'
Same exact run as yesterday, except with marginally better snow conditions up on the NW ridge.  The wind drifted a bunch of new snow last night, so it was still slow going for sure.
PM: 8 miles (1:05) Mesa Trail out and back w/ Joe, 1500'

-Miles: 159
-Hours: 23h 26min
-Vertical: 25,700'

This week featured a decidedly successful return to running, which I was especially grateful for considering the week's snowstorm just before the end of the year.  I would've been massively disappointed to have not been able to get out on Green to experience the first real snow of the season, but thankfully, my calf is cooperating.

Tuesday featured a highly uncharacteristic visit to the track which I plan on continuing off and on through April.  While Tuesday's workout was more of a feeling-out session than anything, the calf responded well and I look forward to running at a more legitimate interval pace soon.  I have a couple of predominantly flat races during the first half of my season and while I'll be essentially sacrificing almost no vertical for them, I think the once-a-week injection of legspeed will be worthwhile and maybe even fun once I get into shape.

All in all, the injury-induced, largely low-key month of December did me a lot of good and I'm finally feeling the kind of motivation and energy in my running that I haven't really had since late summer.