Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weekly Summary: July 22 - July 29

7/22 - Rest.

7/23 - Rest.

7/24 - Rest.

7/25 - 1 mile.  Walking with Katy.

7/26 -  A couple miles.  Stagecoach.  No watch.  Just shaking things out a bit.

7/27 -  Rest.

7/28 - 10.66 miles.  1:59:19.  700'v.   Stagecoach.   Some trail and alot of dirt road for this casual morning run.  The weather was pretty clear but humid when I set out down the dirt road on my way to Sarvis Creek Trail.   After a 2 mile warm up on the road I was ready to run some single track but only made it about a half mile up Sarvis Creek before running into two, dog-sized bear cubs.  One bolted down the trail, FAST! and the smaller one tried to climb up an aspen tree.  I immediately turned around, afraid that I would frighten the two bears into losing each other.  It also crossed my mind that Mama Bear was probably within earshot of her cubs and wouldn't appreciate me bugging them.  No worries, they were there first.  I decided to run the road again for a while and saw a few guys fishing and three runners also enjoying the morning.  I hiked quite a few hills on the way back as my legs seemed to lack some pep. 

7/29 - 11.26 miles.  3:01:25.  Gilpin Lake Trail (1161) - Gold Creek Trail (1150).  Finally, I can check the famous "Zirkel Circle" off my list after wanting to do this route for over two years.  My first attempt, two summers ago with Katy, ended rather abruptly when a rogue tree branch nearly scalped my then-girlfriend.   This time I ran it with Richard Williams and we didn't run Mica Lake Trail, opting to do just the classic North Routt County mountain loop.  It looked like it might rain all morning but we didn't get wet until the final two miles and, by then, it was a pleasant, light rain that cooled us off.  The hike up was steady and relaxed for the first 3 miles and we didn't run a whole lot.  There were many, many people on the trail and even more sitting at Gilpin Lake when we finally arrived there.  I'm not used to sharing the trail with so many people (unless it's a race!) but I love seeing people getting out in the woods so it was cool to exchange greetings with them.   Gilpin Lake was incredible and I can really see why it is such a popular destination.  After leaving the lake, we climbed up and over a saddle and enjoyed 5 glorious miles of downhill all the way back to the trail head.  The single track trail was both runnable and fairly technical but we were feeling good on the return so we kept up a pretty brisk pace most of the way down.  Gorgeous track!

Two good runs on the weekend although I lacked a couple of maintenance runs during the week.  Overall, feeling very good and looking forward to a few more wilderness runs with Richard in August.  Right now, the only race I'm considering for next month is Continental Divide Trail Run on the 18th.  Richard and I are planning to do an out-and-back run on the entire Mad Creek (Swamp Park) Trail in mid-August as a final long run (44 miles) before the RRR100.  Next Sunday, I am planning on taking him to Sheriff Reservoir to check out the Black Mountain Trail.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fortnight Summary: July 8 - July 22

7/8 -  10.6 miles.  3:07:25.  2650'v.  Lower Bear Creek Trail.  Easy with Richard.

7/9 -  Rest.

7/10 -  4.3 miles. :49:33.   Stagecoach.

7/11-  3.59 miles.  :36:17.  Stagecoach.

7/12 -  2.30 miles.  :26:42.  Stagecoach.

7/13 -  Rest.

7/14 -  Rest.  Travel to Leadville.  Set up camp, eat and relax.

7/15 - Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile. 47.5 miles.   9:49:56.  7,382'v.  

7/16 -  Rest.  Despite feeling completely thrashed after the race yesterday, I felt pretty good when I woke up the next morning.  My legs didn't start feeling sore until around noon the next day and then pretty rough in the afternoon.  Slept OK that night but could feel my legs.  Took an extra round of Juice Plus and drank alot of juice and berries for anti-oxidants.

7/17 -  Rest.  Pretty sore, primarily in the quadraceps but not so much anywhere else.  A little soreness on top of my left foot.  Slept like a champ.

7/18 -  3.42 miles. :39:08.  Stagecoach.  Easy road run felt awesome.  Legs really weren't sore today at all.  Just fatigued a bit but the run seemed to help shake out the cobwebs.

7/19 -  4.39 miles.  :45:05.  Stagecoach.  Ran a few easy miles after starting out a little quick.  Legs feel pretty good at the beginning of the run but after a while they felt a little dead.  Walked a little, too.

7/20 -  Rest.

7/21 - Spring Creek Memorial Trail Run.  9 miles.  1:17:24.   My third year running this race and I just love it.  This year, the field was much smaller and alot of fast people didn't show up so it was anybody's race up front.  Local Austrian-stud-speedster, Harald Niedl, who always seems to finish in the top five of whatever race he's in, finally scored a win in 1:11.  Followed by high school stand-out runner, Chris Zirkle.  I was feeling good and went out fast at the start, running in 4th, but knew the pace was too hot for me and even asked if anyone wanted to pass as we rolled down the first hill, across the first bridge and onto the gradually uphill rocky trail.  Several people passed me before we made the climb up to the actual Spring Creek trailhead.  I eased into a strong powerhike once we turned off the single track and started up Elevator Shaft, a steep drainage that course follows for a few hundred vertical feet.   I opted not to pass immediately and stayed behind a few people to keep my breathing and heart rate down and felt really good the entire climb through the ferns and aspens.  There were several trees downed along the course but even the tallest ones didn't really impede my ascent as I began to alternate running into my climb.  I passed about 4 runners on the climb and soon caught site of Walter McGill as we made a gradual descent through the trees on a somewhat rocky trail.  I could see Kelly Heany about 15 yards in front of Walter.  About a mile later, we all emerged from the forest together and turned on a dirt road to leave the Tatanka Ridge property.  We lamented running the dirt road up to Dry Lake as our least favorite part of the race.  Having done this race a couple of times now, I know that the 3/4 mile dirt road climb can be really tough.  It's a grind and there is one spot where you can't see around the corner but it looks like you are at the top and then you go a little farther and see the road just keeps going up.  By this time another runner had caught us, so the four of us relaxed a bit and we talked a little bit as we ran.  A few minutes later, we finally reached the Dry Lake parking lot and I sped up to be the first one on Spring Creek Trail.  I was feeling really good as we started the 4.5 mile descent to the finish and I love to run this trail downhill.  It's just a blast.  There are 13 bridges that you cross as the dirt trail snakes it's way through aspen and pine trees, rocks, logs, ferns and water.  There are a few small ascents along the way but overall the trail drops a couple thousand feet over those 4.5 miles.  It's sublime.  The rest of the way down the trail, I just tried to maintain a fast but in control cadence.  In last year's race, I ran the down hill too hard and the last mile or so really hurt.  I wanted to avoid that this year and be able to run strong at the end and enjoy the experience. Cruising over the final miles of the course, I just felt rock solid and kept wondering if I should push harder or maintain.  I found myself wishing someone was close enough behind me to scare me into running faster.  In the end, I'm amazed at how my legs have recovered from Silver Rush because I felt I could have run faster.   My legs just felt that solid.  In hindsight, I wish I had worn a watch for this race.  I ran by feel today and even when I was going hard I was pretty much in control.  If I had worn a watch, I would've set split-time goals for the ascent and descent and pushed harder to make those goals.   If I had pushed a little harder at any time during the race I'd be able to claim a PR for the course instead of finishing five seconds slower than last year!  Oh well, I finished sixth.  Top ten three years in a row!  Woo-hoo!      

7/22 - Rest.  Ahh.  Feels good to stay home and relax.

The last couple weeks have been pretty solid.  I had a nice taper going into Silver Rush and the legs felt good and delivered on race day.  I knew I was capable of posting a sub-10 finish and I ran a smart enough race to make it happen, even if I had a rough spot at the end.  I think my troubles really stemmed more from the nutrition end and not fitness because I still had leg strength but was just feeling lousy in my stomach and head.  Between the altitude and heat, I was lacking adequate electrolyte intake because I kept watering down my Gatorade over the last 2.5 hours.  The nausea was a real eye-opener though.  In a way, I'm glad I experienced that so that I know what will happen if I fall behind on fueling.   Lesson learned there.

Recovery after the 50 was also the best it's ever been.  I was feeling it Monday and Tuesday, after the race, but ran easy on Wednesday and Thursday, without any discomfort.  Friday off seemed like enough rest to run hard at Spring Creek and I'm just a little sore (mostly hamstrings) and fatigued today (Sunday).   With less than two months until Run Rabbit Run, I will keep up with my 3 scheduled maintenance runs during the week and long runs on the weekend.  I'm hoping to work out a 40-mile wilderness run with Richard Williams in mid-August, that will be my last long run before RRR.  The only race I might do in August is Continental Divide but as much as I like that race, I'm not 100% sure that will register. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Leadville Silver Rush 50

The Leadville Silver Rush 50 is a great race.  Sunday morning, around 300 (of nearly 600 registered) runners lined up at the Dutch Henri Hill starting line to tackle just short of 50 miles of mountainous jeep and foot trails at elevations from ten to 12,000'.  The starting area was already bursting with energy as music blared and the announcer counted down the time to the shotgun start.  At 6 A.M., a run in the mountains seemed like a good idea.

The weather was clear and cool in the morning after some light rain the night before.  The race begins with a short, steep climb up Dutch Henri Hill before entering a pine forest and beginning a slow, winding climb up to the first aid station around mile 6.  Going into the race, I knew that alot of the course was on jeep trails and wasn't expecting it to be as fun as my beloved single track but I was impressed early on with the trail's footing, varied technicality and overall runnabilty.  Once the intial pack stretched out a bit, I ran with a nice guy from the Denver area for a while, chatting it up about elite mountain runner Matt Carpenter's idea of "even-ness of effort" as we got warmed up.  I moved ahead after a few minutes and ran within myself for a while just getting into the groove.  What I found most impressive about the course were the incredible and expansive views of the very large mountains in the area around Leadville both initially and then, at the higher points of the course.  Around mile 3, the trail paralleled a wide valley, Iowa Gulch, with some relic mining structures from the abandoned Hellena Mine and massive tailing piles at the foot of several enormous, treeless peaks.  After Aid 1, the trail continued up the gulch on the rough jeep road through an open area with bushes and the occasional fir or spruce tree to the base of the Iowa Amphitheatre, watched over by Mount Sherman (14,036'), then met up with dirt County Road 6 for a 3 mile descent to the Printer Boy Aid Station (mile 13.5).  Here, I met up with Katy and Bronwyn, who had come down to crew for me and did so in smashing style, I might add.  As rolled in, I handed my water bottle to Bron, who immediately filled it and asked me what I needed and what I wanted to eat.  Katy got some sunscreen on me and refilled my running vest with a fresh supply of gels and trail mix.  I changed my shirt and was out of there in under two minutes. 

A short, fast descent through a pine forest on near-single track trail greeted me next and I was elated to be in the cool trees as the morning temperature began to climb a bit.  After about a mile descent, the course crossed a road and began a steady climb up a dirt road for the next mile or so before turning onto a double track that continued the climb back in the trees.   So far in the race, I had kept my pace conservative and my effort even.  Elevated, but even.  I was running easy on the downhills and flats and hiking very well on the climbs.   I was feeling really good and in control.  As the climb continued above treeline, I was affored an awesome view of the town of Leadville, Turquoise Lake and Mount Massive (14,421').  Spectacular!  Around here, I met Adam Whitehead, a native of Zimbabwe, living and working in Denver now, and we shared the climb.  I asked Adam what he did for work and when he replied that he was into wealth management, I commented that I did the exact opposite.  In addition to doing the 50, Adam was competing in the Leadman competition, which means he's a badass.  We talked it up and took in the impressive views as we climbed up to 12,000' on a rocky jeep road.  After cresting a false summit, the course descended a bit before climbing, again to 12,000' in prepartion for the descent to the race turnaround at Stumptown.  A little ways into the descent, I partnered up with a runner named Jason (Jay Baker), a Frontier Airlines pilot and triathlete from Denver.  We were both in the zone and chatted like a couple of old ladies about racing and life, all the while cheering on the front runners who were now passing us on their way out.  Because I was having so much fun talking to him, I was a little sad to part company at Stumptown as I handed off my vest to Bronwyn and frantically chewed on some food.  I continued on a convoluted loop climb up to the proper turnaround and met back up with Bronwyn to grab my refilled vest and water bottles.  At this time, I took on a second water bottle filled with Gatorade in anticipation of the afternoon heat and headed back on the course.   I hit the turnaround in under five hours.

The long climb back up to 12,000' after Stumptown was the first time I really had to push the effort.  Between the altitude and the steepness of the trail, the effort to get back to the top of this climb was substantial.  Still, I stuck to my program of eating gels and real food (clementines and a trail mix I pre-made of cashews, dried blueberries and cherries and M&Ms) and drinking to ensure I was properly fueling my body for the effort.  The next descent and climb went well but I was definitely shakier than I was earlier in the race.  This was the section of the course that is above treeline so I distracted myself by looking far off into the surrounding mountains.  At the next aid station, I refilled my bottles and grabbed some pretzels but they turned to paste when I put them in my mouth so I didn't eat many.  As the trail descended again, the temperature began to rise but I felt steady again and I knew I was going to get to see Katy again at the Printer Boy Aid Station.  (I didn't get to see her at Stumptown because my lovely pregnant wife was getting some rest.)  There was one more climb before the aid but I still felt good the entire way, just hiking smooth and strong up through the pine trees.  I got pumped up by the crowd of people amassed on the road as I exited the forest and ran a little harder to give the spectators a good show, looking for my crew all the while.  Once spotted, they changed out my gear and I put on a fresh pair of socks.  I paused to take a picture with a cute puppy at the race and I kissed my wife and left again. 

Earlier in the race, I had been told by one of the other runners that the next section was the crux of the race and now I believe him.  A short descent on paved road takes you back to a 3 mile climb on dirt road back up to foot of Iowa Amphitheatre.  By now, the mid-day heat has arrived and you are completely exposed on that road as you climb achingly slow up, up and up.  I shuffled, hiked and walked.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat for one hour.  I reached the top around the seven hour mark and relished the idea of a mostly downhill finish.  Mostly.

I found myself grinding away the final miles of the race.  I had felt so good the first half, it was hard to believe that I was starting to fade and I just kept calculating the time-to-mile pace that would let me finish in my under-10 hour goal.  I hit the final aid station, still in pretty good spirits and chowed on some watermelon and had my water bottles refilled.  I had been diluting my Gatorade bottle with water and, in hindsight, I suffered on electrolytes toward the end because I had been doing that.  Particularly because it warm.  As a result, I just slowly faded over the last part of the race.  I could feel it coming and tried to keep taking on calories in the form of gels but I just continued to struggle as the miles wore on at the end.  I still managed a pace in the high 10 min/mile but it I could tell it wouldn't last as the wheels started falling off the wagon.  With only a few miles left in the race, I linked up with another runner (Sean Wetstine) who was still feeling good enough to talk to me and provide some encouragement.  We shuffled along and I couldn't believe it didn't feel like we were getting closer to the finish.  I checked my GPS and it just didn't tick off the distance quick enough for my liking.  Then, the nausea.  Whoa.  My stomach did a 180 and started messing with me.  I finally stopped dead in my tracks and coughed, heaved and cramped.  No vomit just pain.  Oh.  I'm in the hurt locker now.  I just turned and started up the trail.  Just move forward.  Finish.  I walked.  I hiked.  I shuffled.  I looked at my GPS and saw that we should be at the finish and all I saw on the course was a foot trail climbing up a hill, into the trees.  "Those fuckers.  They added a mile to the course."  I thought to myself and I was right.  I just kept moving and actually managed to run again.  I told myself to take advantage of the lie that my brain was telling my body and kept moving. 

Finally, I saw and heard people as I crested the top of Dutch Henri Hill and relief overwhelms me.  I ran hard down the trail to the finish line.  I saw Katy and Bronwyn and the red carpet finish and nothing mattered for a moment except the fact that I was finished and I did it under 10 hours.  9:49:56.  Then, I remembered to look for the runner who pulled me through those final miles so that I can thank him but he's lost in the crowd.  I am humbled.

Silver Rush was another great experience and full of surprises.  The course is definitely tough, scenic and worthy of the effort.   Towards the end of my race, the clouds started moving in and it rained and hailed for a while a few minutes after I finished.  I immediately thought of the 200 or so runners still out on the course dealing with the mountain weather and how we are just visitors to those high peaks that we spent the day running through, up and down.    Despite feeling low at the end of the race, the overall experience was exceptional and I got to run with some really amazing people.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Weekly Summary: July 4 - July 8

7/4 - 9.06 miles.  2:04:15.  1800'v.  Black Mountain Trail.  Headed up to Sheriff Reservoir just outside of Phippsburg to check out a new trail and was blown away by the scenery.  Once I located the trail (after a few minutes of bushwacking around the res) I found a nice, runnable track on a gradual ascent that traversed a hillside packed with skunk cabbage and wildflowers that went on for nearly a MILE.  It was incredible.  Once I hit the ridgeline, the trail continued to snake uphill along a massive cliff line with an expansive view of the Flat Tops to my right.   The trail continued into the trees for a little while before cresting the mountain and offering panoramic views of more mountains, including Pyramid Peak, and a few big alpine meadows.   I found an old trail marker for Baldy Trail (FS 1200, which doesn't appear on any of the maps I own) and ran from cairn to cairn for about a half mile through a meadow until I picked up the trail again and found a tiny pond.  If I weren't tapering for my next race, I would've loved to continue exploring.  The return trip offered up the same spectacular views and I had to pause for a while to take it all in.  Although I only ventured a couple of miles on the trail,  I can't wait to go back and explore it further. 

7/5 - 3.51 miles.  :34:22.  Stagecoach.  Easy effort from the house down the trail to the fire station and back.

7/6 - 7.51 miles.  1:24:49.  Emerald Mountain.  From JDs house downtown, I cruised over to Howelsen Hill and jumped on the Emerald Mountain Loop.  From there, I climbed up to Lupine, then Larry's, MGM and Blair Witch before descending on Blackmere Drive to Lupine to Blackmere and down to Howelsen Lodge to refill my water bottle.   Wicked single track!

7/7 - Rest.

7/8 - 10.61 miles.  3:07:25.  2650'v.  Lower Bear Creek Trail.  Hooked up with running buddy Richard for an easy effort 10 miler on this trail by the Strawberry Park Hot Springs.  I had never been on this trail and rarely run with other people so I was stoked to get on the trail with Rich.  We maintained a fairly even pace on the ascent, hiking most of the uphills.  The trail started out nice and smooth and easy to run for the first 3 miles before it got rockier on the last 2 up to Summit Park.  There were some nice views from the top so we scrambled around on the rocky high point for a few minutes before the return trip.   The return trip went by quickly and I felt great when we wrapped it up. 

Weekly mileage:  30.69 miles.
In tapering mode for the Silver Rush 50 (which is only 46 miles) so I'm easing up on how hard I run while still getting in some quality runs.  Got to go out for over 2 hours on the Fourth and go in 3 hours today.  I'll rest tomorrow and run very lightly the middle of the week before taking a couple days off before the race.   Overall, I'm feeling really good and with a week of rest on my legs, I think I can finish the race in under 10 hours.   

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

11 day Summary: June 23 - July 3

6/23 - ~12 miles.  Alameda, Ca.  Ran from Alameda over to Bay Farm Island and back to Sommai's house.  Just a nice, slow, long run along the bay shorline.  Felt incredible to run long at sea level and I would have been up to keep going and going if not for aggravating the sore spot on my right forefoot, again.  I was wearing the La Sportiva Vertical Ks and decided to not wear them any more after that run.  The lack of a rock plate in the sole just doesn't work for me.  Sick run, anyway.  The highlight was running by the rasta who asked, "How far is it?"  I just replied, "I don't even know."

6/24 - Off.  Flew back to Colorado

6/25 - Off.

6/26 - Off.

6/27 - Off.

6/28 -  3.59 miles. :41:25.

6/29 -  6 miles. 

6/30 -  Rest.

7/1 - 12 miles.  2,540'v.  2:47:12.  Mandall Pass Trail.  An awesome high-altitude ascent/descent on somewhat techy single track up to Mandall Pass in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area.  1:27:04 on the run up to the pass and :59:45 for the descent (2:26:49 round trip).  The trail was dry but there were numerous water crossings and lingering snow near the pass summit at just over 11,000'.  At the top of the pass, I hiked higher up onto the Flat Tops and checked out the vistas for a few minutes before beginning the return trip.  I carried two 21 oz. water bottles and several gels, a couple clementines, a banana and a cashews/dried blueberries, anticipating a longer run (it was my first time on this trail and I didn't know the exact mileage.) but did the run on 3 gels and both water bottles.  I also carried a SteriPen to treat my water if I was going to drink from streams.  Overall, a fantastic run and, as far as I know,  a Fastest Known Time for ascending and descending the trail.

7/2 - 4 miles.  Stagecoach.  Relaxed run down to the fire house and up to the dirt road to South Shore before turning around and running some trail back to the house.  Broke in the new Montrail Rogue Racers and they are crazy comfortable. 

7/3 -  6 or 7 miles.  Spring Creek Trail.  Nice after work run from JDs house to the trail and out a couple miles on a lollipop loop.  Added the "Elevator Shaft" ascent into the run for a steep hike.  Legs felt great on this run and so did the Rogue Racers.  I'm looking forward to seeing how the shoes perform in Leadville in a couple weeks.

Last 11 days mileage:  ~44 miles.

It took a few days after returning from California to get back into the swing of things.  I gained quite a few extra pounds while I was in vacation/wedding mode but I've already forgiven myself for all the delicious food I ate while we there.  Now that I've gotten a few miles in my legs, I'm starting to feel my form returning and I'm getting a little hungrier to race again.  Which is good considering I haven't really been thinking about this race much in the last month and fell off my running schedule for several weeks.  The idea for the next week is to just keep the running light and taper a bit leading up to the Leadville Silver Rush 50 on July 15th.