It's been a real pleasure to get back to some solid, regular running since Leadville. With all the races I've done this summer, I've discovered that I don't particularly like having to taper my running so much just to be healthy on race day. That, coupled with the foot overuse injuries I've been dealing with, curtailed my running through August. It's the day to day running that I REALLY love and missed throughout the last month and it's been great to get back out there and feel my legs turning over. The lack of regularity in my conditioning has caused a couple more frustrating leg issues to pop up (right upper hamstring and left inner quad) but I've decided to not cease running in order to heal but rather to slow down my pace and mix it up with more hiking (and swimming) to not beat my legs up so much. As a result, my other muscles are staying conditioned, my injuries are adapting to "healing on the run" and I'm staying happier because I'm still getting out on the trails. Consistency, I feel, is the key to being a strong and disciplined runner and human.
That said my last two weeks have been very productive. I don't have the numbers on my runs with me but I logged around 70 miles for each of the last two week, doing 6 - 12 miles after workdays, a 20 miler at altitude (10,400-11,600') on the Wyoming Trail on Saturday of last week and 30 miles on the Steamboat 50 course this past Saturday.
I started last week of August by doing an easy run on Mad Creek trail out to Elk Park to get myself back into the groove on an easy and familiar trail that I always enjoy. Mad Creek has such a great mix of gradual uphills and downhills, open meadows and forests to run. Nothing terribly steep, though. Later in the week, I went up on Rabbit Ears Pass and ran an 8 one day and a 14 miler out to Lake Elmo the next to get some time in at 10,000'. I went for an easy run from the pool to home on Friday (I think) and then did a couple more miles with Benny. Last Saturday might have been one of the sickest runs I've ever done as I drove up to Summit Lake on Buffalo Pass and ran 20 miles, first on the Wyoming Trail (heading north) then a loop on the Crags Trail down to Lake of the Crags and Luna Lake and then back up Luna Lake Trail to the Wyoming to run back out. The run started at 10,400' and never went below that. It was amazing to run along the Continental Divide in the wild, open tundra. I passed a couple bow hunters and one hiker but otherwise was happily all alone for the entire 4:48 run. The Lake of the Crags was one of the most amazing views I've ever seen while trail running. Incredible hanging alpine lake at the foot of an 800' foot wall of rock. A small island, just big enough for one pine tree dotted the lake To the north, I could see Hahn's Peak and Farwell Mountain. Truly, a stupendous view and I really wish I had brought my camera on this run.
The next week, I resumed my normal mileage on trails and good tempo run (10 miles @ 8:00/mile) on the road to get my legs spinning for a little while. I developed a little hip flexor pain in my left leg after that but I've continued running and after a week it's still there but feeling much better. I'm sure I will be completely healed for Run Rabbit Run. Speaking of which, I prepped for the race this past Saturday by running the first 15 miles of the course out to the Wyoming Trail and then back to get 30 miles in about 6:06. It was a good "dress rehersal" and I feel really confident about my finishing the race in around 10 hours. It would be nice to try and run faster but with all the aches and pains I've been dealing with the past couple months, I'm going to stay relatively conservative with regards to effort.
The last few days, I've been running Emerald Mountain or Spring Creek Trail since I can leave from the new house and get a great workout (6-11 miles, 1000' vertical) on either run. All in all, the last couple weeks have me feeling very prepared for the 50 miler. I've had a good combination of altitude, long distance and shorter recovery and tempo runs to keep my running balanced and my body (somewhat) healthy.