Saturday, April 30, 2011

What is what

Running in the mountains, I've learned, is just as much about attitude as it is about altitude.  This has become more apparent to me as we near the end of the SIXTH month of snow here in the Yampa Valley.  I've written, on a few occasions, about the challenges of running in the snow and cold, but didn't expect it to still be relevant this late into the year.  Sure, on the valley floor, I could run an ultramarathon next to the roads but the amount of snow that still remains on top of my beloved foot trails is nothing short of ludicrous.  

Last year, I bagged my first running summit of Storm Peak on June 25th, while attempting a thru run to Fish Creek Falls.  I was denied the thru run 3 miles after the summit, on Mountain View Trail, by snow in the trees that completely obscured the trail.  The route finally opened up a couple weeks later.  This year, it could be August before the route is open.  Oh well, what can you do?  (Run short routes, with less vertical or travel to run long routes!)  There's no contesting Mother Nature.   Thus, the need to keep the attitude correct.  When the weather gets nasty, you still go out and grin and bear it and remember how good the run makes you feel in spite of the adversity.  After all, when you are running hard, you put yourself into a state to deal with adversity regardless of what the weather is doing.   Here's how I dealt with this week's challenges:

4/24 - 5.5 miles.  Great, easy 2 miles with Katy followed by a couple more miles of up tempo running at 6:30 - 7:30/mile.  Road run.

4/25 - 5.5 miles total,  broken down into 2 miles of road, .5 mile 100' road climb , .5 mile deep snow/slush 100+' hill climb and descent, 2 mile road.  Air temp: 34 degreesF.  Nice and tough run  between the weather and conditions which consisted of rain, sleet, snow, wind and spray off the vehicles driving down Highway 40.

4/26 - 7 miles, 1000' cumulative vert. in first 3 miles.  Made it to the top of Laurel Lane (700') in 24:00 from the house (2.4 miles).  More gnarly weather as winter continues through the end of April.

4/27 - Managed to get out to Mad Creek Trail just after 1 p.m. to scout it out.  Ran the 2 miles (600' vert.)out to the barn with Benihana but the trail is still about 30 -40% covered in snow.  It was fun though and I did a little UK-style fell running before turning around.  It was awesome to be out with the dog again.

4/28 - Splitboarded at the ski area.  The sun came out finally (just for one day) and I took advantage of having the day off by skinning up to the top of Pony and again up to the gondola.  The ride down the lift line and then in the woods a little bit was super good, untouched spring slush.  Concentration was good, too, but I got chastised by Lance at Slope Maintenance for riding through an area closed off for logging.  I didn't see any closure signs so I just went for it.  My mistake.  Ended up hiking 7.9 miles and at least a couple thousand feet of vertical.  Great cross training workout and just a beautiful day to be outside.  Total time on the mountain was about 3 hours.

4/29 - Around 6 or 7 miles.  Legs felt like lead from the previous day's mission.

4/30 - Went to Rangely to wheel.  Too cold to run.  Rest.

Friday, April 22, 2011

April snow showers bring May trails unrunnable because they are still completely buried in FEET of snow

It's been an eventful month and not totally unblog-worthy but I just haven't been in the mood to write much.  First of all, the title pretty much says it all.  When the ski area closed on the 10th, I was ready for the switch to be flipped, the sun to come out and warm temperatures to begin melting the snow so that I could start doing some serious vertical running.  Alas, we've had TWO days of sun since then and it has rain and/or snowed every other day since.  Above 9000' the snow base is still well over 100".  Probably closer to 150" at 10,000'.   As a result of my lack of training (and being generally unprepared to make the drive/camp out/etc.), I decided not to run last weekend's half-marathon at the Desert RATS Trail Running Festival.  My first official DNS (did not start) of the season.  I don't think I'll be going down to Buena Vista to do the 25 mile version of the Collegiate Peaks Trail Run on May 7th, either.  (Then again, who knows...)   I've kind of decided to keep my race distance at half marathon and shorter this year.  While I love doing ultramarathons, the training, racing and recovery times are just too much right now.  I'm concentrating a little more on getting faster at shorter distances and I think my focus races this year will be Spring Creek Memorial (gotta make up for losing the trail last year!) and the Mt. Werner Challenge.  I'll try and do all the trail races in the Steamboat Running Series and maybe not travel to any races this year.  Keep it close to home.  Of course, those races seem so far away right now when I look outside and still see nothing but snow and snowing. 

However, this past week, I finally wrapped up the Wilderness First Responder course I've been taking at Colorado Mountain College so I've got a little more time to commit to running.  After a very mediocre winter mileage-wise, I've been ramping up my time on my feet for the last three weeks and have increased my weekly mileage from around 20 to almost 40.  I will keep my total running to around 40 miles/week for the next month before increasing again and work on intensifying my efforts so that I'm running in the 7 - 7:30 min/mile range.   I'm going to keep the volume fairly mild and target 50-60 mile/week for the summer.  For the moment, I've only been road running.  Fortunately, one of my routes contains about 1000' of cumulative vertical in the first 3.5 miles, so I'm starting to get my leg strength back.  Man, it's been a long winter...I've been jonsing to run on dirt for months!

Well, short post to just catch up a little.  Although not a complete record of all my runs, here are some of my recent numbers:

Week of 4/3 - 4/9  -  23.28 miles
Week of 4/10 - 4/16  - 14.76 miles + 1:30 snow trail run on Howelsen CC ski trails
Week of 4/17 - 4/23 - 37.11 miles