Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Weekly Summary: Aug 19 - Aug 24

8/19 - 4.00 mile.  :47:04.  ~800'v.  Silver Creek Trail.  Started raining not long after I started running up and into the woods.  Very hard at times. 

8/20 -  Off.  BA's wedding.  What a great time.  Started the day out with Creekside breakfast with Jonny and Matt G., then went tubing on the Yampa with them, Shasta, Christian, Dave and Rivers.  Brian and Melissa's wedding that evening was beautiful and a terrific reunion of alot of friends.

8/21 - 14.3 miles.  2:30:44.  ~3400' v.  Continental Divide Trail Run. 

8/22 - Off.

8/23 - Off.

8/24 - 4.91 miles.  :45:57.  +600'v./-610'v.  Stagecoach.   Easy road run to break in my new Suunto altimeter.  My newest mountain running toy.

Weekly Totals:  23.31 miles.  ~4800'v.

A bit of racing, a bit of recovery this week.  Mostly easy efforts to offset running one tough race and my longest run this summer.  Hard to believe how many 20-30 mile runs I did last summer and comparing it to the low mileage I did this year.  It's been cool focusing on shorter distance but I definitely miss the long adventure runs and ultras so I'm pretty sure I will be bumping my mileage back up next year and possibly going for my first 100-mile race or 24 hour race.  Over the next few weeks, I think I might be foregoing the last two trail races in the running series in favor of using the time to do a couple of long runs in the Flat Tops.  I've noticed that the leaves are slowly beginning to turn gold, so winter weather isn't far away.  However, the next two months are probably the best of the year to go trail running.  The weather will be cooler and the foliage will be ripening and I feel fit enough to make some longer routes.  I also want to try a speed attempt on my Flat Tops Short Loop and a Devil's Causeway double.  Once winter hits, I won't be getting a Season Pass to Steamboat this year, so I hope to be doing alot of longer splitboard tours to keep my cardio fitness up and running a little when weather permits.   

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Continental Divide Trail Run Race Report

Holy shit.  That is a tough race.  Especially when it starts the morning after one of your best friends gets married and you clipped your quadracep on a rock while tubing down the Yampa River that afternoon and you've been at sea level for most of the week before and...OK, that's enough excuses.  Here's how the race went down:

The 2011 Ski Haus Continental Divide Trail Run, which is a Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series race, sold out with 125 runners, again proving that the Steamboat Springs Running Series is really getting the attention it deserves.   It was another gorgeous morning, the weather clear and cool and perfect for racing.  After meeting at the Knoll parking lot at the Steamboat Ski Area, runners are loaded onto shuttles which take them to the race start at the Fish Creek Falls trail head.  At the race start, runners practically sprinted to the trail to avoid bottle necking and continued down the trail and crossed the footbridge at the bottom of Fish Creek Falls.  Immediately afterwards, runners begin the first of many, many climbing sections.  Gaining 500' in the first mile and 1500' in the first 3.5 miles, I found myself hiking much of the first part of the race.  The trail is not only steep but also very, very rocky for the first few miles, making it very difficult to do any running at all (unless you are one of the rabbits at the very front of the race) since the footing is so sketchy.  I managed to reach the 2nd waterfall in 33 minutes and took a few seconds to go down to a small pool and dunk my hat in an effort to cool off.  After the second falls, the trail begins to climb more gradually and I was able to start running a little more, albeit conservatively, knowing that there was still much more uphill to deal with later in the race.  About 4 miles in, the trail crosses a beautiful meadow that was pretty muddy.  I tried to avoid getting my feet wet at first, but there was an unavoidable section of soupy mud and all bets were off.  I laughed and said out loud, "Yep.  It's a mountain race."  I saw the runner in front of me turn his head a bit and smile in agreement.  At the 5.5 mile mark, the course turns onto the Mountain View Trail, a 6 mile grind up the backside of Mt. Werner.  I paused at the aid station, drank two cups of Cytomax, ate a Honey Stinger gel and pet a race volunteer's dog before I proceeded on. 

I have a real love/hate relationship with Mountain View Trail.  Running in this direction, it's a long, forested uphill run to get to the top of the ski area.  It's a beautiful trail (that's the love), especially in the last 2 miles when the views out to the Continental Divide become really impressive.  But it's tough (the hate).  I always have a hard time on this trail.  I ended up doing most of the trail alone, alternately running the flats, downhills and moderate uphills and hiking on the steeper climbs.  My right quadracep was feeling pretty sore from hitting the rock in the river while tubing the day before but I just tried to keep moving and keep my heart rate from going too high.  I stopped a couple of times to get some debris out of my shoes.  Finally, in the last 1.5 miles, I caught a glimpse of two runners about a hundred yards in front of me and I felt like I would be able to catch them, if not before the summit, then, hopefully on the 2.5 mile descent to the Gondola.  I managed to reel in the first guy and kept steady after the next, catching him in last .5 mile before the summit.   At the summit, I was so relieved to finally be done with (almost) all that heinous uphill.  By now, we had climbed well over 3000'.  On the descent, I saw two more runners in front of me and I ran my fastest to catch them both.  I was able to catch the first runner on Storm Peak Challenge and gave him an "attaboy" as I passed.  There was a short, bushwacking detour to the course due to logging operations on the mountain, which was actually really fun.  There was a ton of flagging to let you know where to run but NO trail. Just low brush, grass and rocks.  I managed to pass the second runner here and then did all I could to stay fast on the remainder of the downhill as we hit dirt road again.  Like the Mt. Werner race I did a couple weeks ago, this course finishes with a very cruel 400+ yard uphill run to the gondola.  I felt like I was moving in slow motion but happily crossed the finish line in 2:30:41 (19th), nearly 6 minutes off my goal time of 2:25 but proud, none the less, to finish this grueling race.  

Nick Sunseri won the race, destroying yet another course record, in a blistering 1:47:50!   We talked before the race and were both a little dubious about the advertised race distance of 15 (or 16) miles.  Both of our GPS watches calculated the course at 14.3 miles.  Nobody disputed the 3400' of vertical gain.  Other locals also recording fast times were Josh Smullin (3rd, 2:05.30),Harry Niedl (4th, 2:07.10),  Bill Goldsmith (5th, 2:08.13) Glen Light (8th, 2:15.34) and Gregg Joyce (14th, 2:25.36).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Weekly Summary: Aug 10 - Aug 18

8/10 - 3.89 miles.  :36.31.  ~300'v.  Stagecoach.   Hard effort for first 5K then medium hard to easy cool down. 

8/11 - 6.74 miles.  1:04.28.  ~400'v.  Stagecoach.

8/12 - Off.  Katy and I drove down to Denver and caught a flight to San Francisco/Alameda to spend a few days with family and to prepare for our wedding there next summer. 

8/13 - 6.55 miles.  1:07.01.  ~50'v.  Alameda, California.   First of a trio of awesome early morning runs next to the bay with Katy.  Foggy, cool and occasionally, a beautiful view of San Francisco across the water.  I love running with my girl.

8/14 - 6.93 miles.  1:02.49.  ~5'v.  Alameda, California.

8/15 - Off.

8/16 - 9.02 miles.  1:18.44.  ~50'v.  Alameda, California.

8/17 - Off.   Flew back from Cali and, after a great lunch at Arugula in Boulder, Katy dropped me off in Blackhawk for BA's casino night bachelor party.  Great night with alot of great friends and a lucky one, too.  First time ever playing roulette and John Asta and I stacked it up on black to the tune of a few hundred bucks.  Decent first showing for me at the craps table, also.  Awesome time.

8/18 - Stagecoach. 

Weekly Totals:  33.13 miles.  <1000' vertical.  Fantastic week of easy running before doing the Continental Divide Trail Run this weekend.   I'm feeling pretty good, if not a little under-rested, after having a busy week of travel and fun.  CDTR will be a challenge, especially since it's the day after BA's wedding. Damn, life is really good right now.  There, I said it. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Weekly Summary: Aug 2 - Aug 9

8/2 - Off.

8/3 -  5.55 miles.  :52.07.  ~400'v.  Stagecoach.

8/4 - Off.

8/5 - Off.

8/6 - 12.0 miles.  2:03.34.  4,775'v.  Mt. Werner Classic Trail Run.

8/7 - 8.92 miles.  1:54.57.  ~1,000' v.  Stagecoach Mountain.  Easy long hike/run on Stagecoach Mountain. 

8/8 - 13.49 miles.  ~700'v.  2:09.04.  Stagecoach Reservoir.  Easy long run but longer than I expected to go. 

8/9 - Off.  Took Benny for a long walk.

Weekly Totals:  39.91 miles.  6,875 vertical feet.  Great race last Saturday and a couple of long runs the two days after to get ready for a 15-mile, mega-vertical effort at Continental Divide Trail run in a couple weeks.   Looking forward to doing some running in San Francisco/Bay Area while I'm there next week.  Legs are feeling really good and my feet (plantar fasciitis and tendonitis) haven't been bothering me when I run, just a little in the mornings.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mount Werner Classic Race Recap

It was another stellar summer morning with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s (after a little rain in the days before) and a near-full corral of runners began the 12-mile,  3,400 vertical foot trek to the top of Mt. Werner.  The race website: (  claims the course actually climbs 4,775' because of the multiple uphill and downhill sections along your way to the summit.  I read once that a 1,000' climb is like running an extra mile.  To call this race a challenge is no understatement. 

I arrived early enough to see neighbor and friendly runner Bronwyn Rittner in the parking lot and walked down to the registration tent.  Because I registered early enough, my race number was pre-printed with my name on it.  I thought that was a cool, classy touch for the Race Director to think of.  I did a little warm up running with local speedster, Harry Niedl (ended up finishing 3rd, 1:49:45) and let him know my plan was to start really slow and save as much as I could for later.  My only goal was to beat last year's time of 2:06:04.

At the start, I stayed true to myself and started slowly,  settling in with a pack of runners as we headed up Right of Way towards the bottom of Thunderhead lift.  From there, we got on the dirt road up to snowmaking, instead of taking the single track.  This was a detour from last year's course due to a mudslide that happened in the spring.  As we approached the first view of the valley from the top of Bashor Bowl, I ran with Roy Cardwell from Vail, who I met at last year's race and we talked for a bit.  Roy's running the Leadville Trail 100 in a couple of weeks.  We got to talk for a while after the race, too, which was really nice.  He says he'll be back next year.  I hope so.  We passed the first aid station at the Snowmaking Building and hopped on the Valley View trail to do the first section of serious climbing (of course, I say this after we have already grunted our way up a solid 7-800').  The weather was so nice and cool in the shady aspens.  I ran with the two women's leaders (Nancy Citriglia and Kelly Bedell) for a little while, then pushed ahead once we got near some of the downhill sections.  I caught Duke Barlow from Breckenridge just before the climb up Moonlight but he passed me as I hiked up a steep section and then got away from me.  I was relieved once the course got to Duster because I knew that we had a relatively tame climb to Rendezvous on a mile plus dirt road.  Nancy Citriglia of Winter Park was now the women's leader (went on to finish first in 2:03:46) came on strong here and passed me on Duster.  At Rendezvous, the course runs down a dirt road to the bottom of Sunshine Lift and then, begins the gnarly 2ish mile climb to the summit on Pete's Wicked Trail.   I was able to see the two runners in front of me on the occasional switchback, so even though I really started to feel beat, I had a goal in mind of staying somewhat close to them.  I couldn't quite find a rhythm on the climb.  Pete's is a pretty technical trail with water, rocks, logs, a bit of everything.  And it's relentlessly steep.  I checked my watch at one point and I had been running for 1 hour and 38 minutes, so I ate a Honey Stinger gel to give me a boost.  It helped a little but, if not for the amazing wildflowers and the jaw-dropping view at the top of Sunshine Liftline,  it would have felt like a bit of a death march to the summit.  Once within sight of the top of Storm Lift, I was able to get my second wind, ready for a 2.5 mile downhill run to the gondola.  Local runner, Mike Hlavacek, was at the summit aid station with some encouragement and a pitcher of water or margarita.  Your choice.  I thought he was joking at the time but found later that Nick Sunseri (local running stud and winner of this year's race in 1:41:19) and Roy had both taken Mike up on his offer.   (Not for me, thanks.)  On the descent, I just went for broke and clipped off my fastest downhill effort my legs could take.  First, I passed a Chevy Suburban and, eventually, caught Nancy as I cruised down Storm Peak Challenge but she still managed to stay close behind me.  Less than a mile from the finish, I see Eddie Rogers (Steamboat)  running in Vibram Five Fingers and I really want to catch him at the end.  I definitely had pace on him and I was feeling good.   That is, until he saw me chasing him and kicked it down another gear.  The final 400 yards or so of the race is another unforgiving dirt road climb up to the gondola and I was completely gassed.  His strong stride indicated that he had more left than I did.  He finally disappeard around a bend just before the finish and I did all I could to end with a smile.

Yes!  Another wonderful time running a great race and I even PR'd the course with a time of 2:03:34   (Shooting to go under 2 hrs. next year and I managed to keep my top 10 streak intact by finishing 8th because a couple of real fast guys didn't run today.)  I stuck around for a while, ate a little food and talked about trail running with a few of the other runners.  It was a super beautiful day and I was glad to hang out at the top of the gondola with a bunch of people who had just run the same, awesome course.  Everyone was just really in sync and friendly, so the event had a really positive vibe.  Great time.   The Race Directors, Emily Conjura and Cara Marrs, did an incredible job of putting on a Zero Waste Event.  The course was well-marked and well-managed.  I'm already looking forward to next year.  This race is definitely a Classic.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Weekly Summary: July 26 - Aug 1

7/26 - Off.

7/27 - Off.

7/28 - 4.74 miles.  :38.34.  ~400'.  Stagecoach.  Easy run.

7/29 - Off.

7/30 - 10.63 miles.  2:15.08.  ~2000'.  Devil's Causeway Short Loop.  East Fork Trail (1119) - Devil's Causeway Trail - Chinese Wall Trail (1803) - Bear River Trail (1120).   Incredible morning run up to the tundra.   Without pushing very hard and stopping for photos, I made it to the Causeway in :44, a solid 8 minutes faster than my first attempt two weeks ago.   The next 3 miles were absolutely sublime.  I felt like I was on top of the world as I ran 8 minute miles at over 11,000' taking in the endless views, surrounded by an ocean of wildflowers and still finding the occasional snow patch.  The descent on Bear River Trail started out with a half mile of crossing snow patches, water crossings and rocky steps.  Eventually, the trail entered the woods again, smoothed out in a few places and was very runnable.  A couple of log bridges helped me cross some fast moving streams.  It would've been nice to run for another hour or so but I wanted to get back home and take care of some things.  Just a fantastic trail run with a little bit of everything.  A ton of marmot sightings!  Even with many stops to take photos (more posted on my Facebook page) and a short refueling stop, I was still able to run the entire loop in 2:02.54 and then did a short cool down.  I will almost certainly try and run this loop for a fast time (1:30 - 1:45) at some point in the future.  

Topo of the Causeway Short Loop.

Looking NW from the Devil's Causeway

The Devil's Causeway

7/31 - Off.

8/1 - 7.12 miles.  :58.00.  ~400'v.  Stagecoach.  Good uptempo run down to the south shore of the lake and back up to the house.  Encountered a little skunk on the trail so I let him do his thing until he disappeared into the tall grass.  Right after that, saw a gorgeous bald eagle perched atop a pole, checking out the critters around the lake.  I think it was the same one Katy and I saw yesterday morning when we walked the dogs down to the dam.  Very cool!

Weekly totals:  21+ miles.  ~2800'v.  Good week with low miles but what a fantastic run on Saturday.  Probably my favorite run since the Lake of the Crags run I did last summer.  Looking forward to running the Mt. Werner Classic this coming Saturday and hoping to run at least as fast as last year (2:06) if not a touch faster.