Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Week Ending March 24

Mon - 8 miles (1,500') easy. Started outside the Red Rocks Natural Area west of Vegas and ran three miles up the scenic drive to the trailhead for Turtlehead peak, a popular little mountain with killer views of the Vegas Valley and Rainbow Mountains. Totally botched the ascent, ending up under a big cliff band on the east side of the mountain. Had to be back to take the kids out, so no time to circle around and get the summit. Turned around and ran back to the car.

Tues - 6.5 miles easy. Ran west from my mother-in-law's house past the last of the westernmost sprawl of Vegas (mainly a construction site) into the desert to a flood control thingy and back.
PM: 10 miles intervals. Drove down to Boulder City to meet Josh for a track workout at Boulder City High School. Workout was 8 x 1000 cruise intervals @ 3:20-3:26 with lap rest (1:56 - 2:17): 3:23, 3:24, 3:26, 3:24, 3:22, 3:22, 3:20, 3:19 (1:56 - 2:17). Josh led odd, I led even.

Weds - 11 miles (800') easy. Back out into the desert from mother-in-law's, this time jumping a fence to follow a wash out to the Red Rocks campground and back.
PM: 4 miles easy in the neighborhood.

Thurs - 7 miles (3,200') easy. Turtlehead Peak (6,324'). Had to get back and grab this one before leaving. Decided to come at it from the 'backside' in Calico Basin, following a trail around Kraft Mountain that led into a wash which in turn led to the backside (northeast) of the mountain. Hoofed it up to a cliff band, scrambled through and gained the summit. Great views from the top, which was replete with a summit ammo box containing summit register, a bottle of water, a granola bar (yummy - thanks), a cigarette, a lighter and rolling papers. Ha! Came down the standard route and then once down turned east and headed back to Calico Basin through a sandstone slot canyon accessed from Calico Tanks. Fun outing.

Fri - 8 miles (1,600') easy. Met up early with Joe Baumgarte and Doug Wickert for a short tour of the Cowboy Trails on the mesa east of Red Rock Canyon. Great run with a couple of guys who really appreciate the killer terrain available to runners and climbers in the area. Learned a ton about the almost endless options in the Vegas Valley and Spring Mountains, which has me hungry for my next visit to the area. We ended the run with a descent of Joe's favorite section of trail - dubbed the 'Canyon of Pure Bliss' - which was a great capstone to a fun week in Vegas.

Sat - 16.5 miles (1,700') easy. Came home from Vegas on Friday night into the eye of a wet Colorado winter/spring storm. Drive home from the airport was torturous, and running plans for Saturday were buried under a foot of snow. Waited forever to get out of the house as things looked horrendous outside, procrastinating by doing taxes (!), but finally popped out early evening for a quick jaunt down to Redstone Canyon where I finished with three pick-up miles before jogging back home.

Sun - 26.5 miles (3,500') easy. The annual Fort Collins Trail Runners' celebration of spring, March Mileage Madness, was completely derailed by a closed Lory State Park (due to restoration work post fire) and the snow dump that came down on Friday/Saturday. So, instead of a big reservoir circumnavigation, we did a Horsetooth Horseshoe. Running from chez Alex May east of the reservoir, we ran out to and up Horsetooth Mountain, then descended and continued on to Redstone Canyon before turning at the three-mile marker and retracing (minus the Horsetooth summit) back to Alex's for brews and food. Despite the 21 miles of road, it was a fun morning. Ran mostly with Steph and Mike.

Top Horsetooth. Pic: Rob Erskine
Alex and Sam heading up the Horsetooth Trail. Pic: Erskine
Total: 97.5 miles (12,200')

Kind of a crazy week, with fires, snowstorms and an escape to Las Vegas. The fire in Lory State Park was fully contained by the time the snowstorm came, but we'll take the moisture nonetheless. As far as Lory is concerned, it seems as if the major burning was confined to the grass and scrub of the lower valley and didn't burn anywhere near as hot as the High Park Fire last summer. The park currently remains closed, as many of the footbridges on the valley trails were destroyed in the fire and will need to be rebuilt, but other than that things seem to be a whole lot better than they could have been.

For anyone who happens to be reading this and is wondering about the fire's impact on the Quad Rock race in May, the answer at this point appears to be that the impact will be minimal. The Horsetooth Marathon (April 20), which uses some of the same trails, is still scheduled to happen and park managers are confident that the park will be open for business in about three weeks. So, at this point, no reroute and business as usual for Quad Rock. However, our planned training run for April 6 will have to be rethought as we are not going to be able to stage from Lory and most likely will not be able to use the trails. Therefore, we're hoping to figure something out with Horsetooth officials and will plan some kind of route through there on as much of the course as possible. We'll have an update on the website as soon as we have that figured out.

Had a great week in Vegas. Our original plan was to spend most of the trip in San Diego so the kids could visit Sea World, but both of them were puking the night before we were scheduled to leave so we decided to stay put and just hang out. Everyone seemed more than happy with not having to drive five hours each way to San Diego, and of course there is no shortage of activities for kids in Las Vegas. For me, it meant an opportunity to get out and explore a bit, and while I only scratched the surface, it was a really fun week. The brief forays into the Red Rock area have me very excited for my next trip out to Vegas when I hope to get out and do some real exploring in the rugged Spring Mountains, with hopefully a big traverse of the Rainbow Mountains section directly east of the Red Rock area.

El Padre and La Madre Mountains to the northeast end of the Rainbow Mountains.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Week Ending March 17

Mon - AM: 8 miles (2,100') easy. Horsetooth north summit via the north gap. Up Southridge/Audra, down Wathan/Spring Creek. Good bit of snow in the gap, but rock was decently dry. Legs felt great coming down Wathan, so really no soreness from Salida.
PM: 6 miles (800') easy. Milner Mountain Loop. Snuck in a late run just as a snow squall was coming in.

Tues - AM: 9 miles intervals. Cemetery workout: mile, 800, 800, mile, broken mile (2x800, with 10 second jog between reps), broken 1.5 mile (3x800 with 10 second jog between reps). Didn't want to push this workout so soon after Salida, even though I felt okay, so eased in and ran comfortably: 5:38, 2:45, 2:40, 5:26, 5:34 (2:49, 2:45), 8:31 (2:49, 2:48, 2:44). Snow was coming down pretty good during the workout and the underfoot was a bit slippery, but a good morning and felt nicely energized.
PM: 7 miles (1,900') easy. Horsetooth north summit. Good amount of snow and slop on the ground, but the sun was out, so nice enough. Looked at the north gap, but backtracked to standard route as the rock looked super icy. Up South/Audra, down Rock.

Weds - Noon: 8 miles (2,100') easy. Horsetooth north summit via north gap. Up South/Audra, down Wathan/Spring Creek. Kinda sloppy out with all the snow melt, but beautiful afternoon.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles (1,400') steady state hills. Five miles out and back on Centennial with Steph, Mike and Celeste. Came back at a fairly casual effort: 8:24, 6:57. 6:48, 5:41, 5:45 - still not wanting to really push too hard post-Salida.
PM: 7 mile easy for the 3/14 Pi social run with the FCTR crew. West side of Pineridge was closed due to sloppy trail conditions, so no circular loop, but fun to catch up with friends as always.

Fri - Just before noon: 7 miles (1,900') easy. Horsetooth north summit. This one started out as a glorious run on a just a beautifully warm spring morning. As is typical at this time of year on the Front Range, the wind was blowing pretty good, but no bother as the temps were so good. Coming through the Audra gap back onto the front side of Horsetooth, I couldn't believe my friggin' eyes: smoke to the north. Surely not, but there was just no mistaking it from the top of Horsetooth. A controlled burn, maybe? Couldn't be with the winds as strong as they were. I had no phone but stopped the first person I saw on the way down - we called it in and sure enough, a friggin' wildfire in Lory. I wanted to scream. Memories of last year's devastating High Park fire came flooding back. Two hours later and we were getting a pre-evacuation call from the county telling us to get ready to evacuate our home, just an hour before we were due to leave for Denver to fly out to Las Vegas for a visit with the in-laws for Alistair's spring break. What to do? Decided to continue on with plans and head down to Denver for our flight out, and let the chips fall where they may. Taking off and heading west, I had a bird's eye view of a huge plume of smoke billowing east over Fort Collins from the northerly Front Range foothills. I can't tell you how depressed I felt looking out of that window.

Sat - 20 miles (3,600') easy. I was really in no mood for much of anything this morning, but decided to get out with Vegas local Josh Brimhall to get my mind off things. We ran a loop of the ridiculously scenic Red Rock Canyon on the west side of the Vegas Valley, with a loop around the White Rock trail for mileage add. Enjoyed the views of the Spring Mountains from the high point on the White Rock loop and looked out to an intriguing possible run for next week up the Rocky Gap Rd for a summit tag or two. Talked to Pete later in the day to get the latest from Fort Collins and was encouraged to hear that things had improved significantly, and that the carnage in Lory might not be as bad as I had feared.

Sun - 16 miles (1,800') fast finish. Met up with Josh again for a run at Sloan Canyon on the southeast side of the Vegas Valley. We enjoyed a nice cruise on the groomed McCullough trails, finishing up with four miles at: 6:00, 5:35, 5:40, 6:00.

Total: 98 miles (15,600')

On the running side of things, this was a good week. The mileage is back up towards the peak training zone, I recovered seamlessly from Salida and I feel pretty fit. Fire in March makes me sad.

Salida Trail Marathon 2013 - AKA Run Through Time

The Salida Trail Marathon used to take you out to the 'ghost town' of Turret, hence the name, A Run Through Time. Well ... times have changed, as has the course ... three times. The course has certainly been changed for the better with the addition of 12 miles of snaking singletrack, and this year we were running the exact same course as in 2012, and hopefully the exact same course as we will for the foreseeable future. It's a good one with a little bit of something for everyone: singletrack, double track, jeep track, dirt road, sand pits, altitude, technical descents, killer high-peak views, and the list goes on. Everyone seems to have fun in Salida in March.

Milling around at the start, chatting with familiar faces, I was feeling comfortable in shorts, a T and arm panties, despite a weather forecast predicting the Snowpocalypse: run hard, crank the internal furnace, get up, get down and be done. As it turned out, we'd get an inch, maybe two, of snow above 8,000 feet in what turned out to be pretty good conditions.

The two-mile warm up lap seemed a little more reasonable than last year, probably due to the now staggered marathon, half marathon starts. This allowed for a chance to shoot the breeze a bit before we would start climbing. Entering the singletrack, two miles in, nobody seemed to want to take the initiative, and we had a big group. I'm not sure he wanted it, but Travis Macy was handed the honors of leading the train up the opening set of switchbacks. But before we found the hill, I found a rock and went flying, relegating myself from the passenger seat to somewhere near the back of our 10-man lead pack.  

Behind Jonathan Garcia, three of four miles in.

The pace heading up the hill was again quite comfortable, which was perfectly fine by me. Feeling comfortable in the lead pack is a good place to be. Nobody seemed in the least bit concerned with upping the tempo when wider sections of trail allowed for passing or indeed when Travis verbally offered up the lead. I figured things would open up once we hit the Ute Trail (railroad grade dirt road) at mile eight, so settled in and enjoyed the nice cruise in and out of drainages on the contour we were following.

I might have gotten a little carried away once we hit the road, as almost immediately I decided that I needed to be the one to turn things up a notch, of course overshooting the mark and pushing too hard and then having to watch as Josh Arthur and Timmy Parr cruised on by as I reined in the effort to something a little more appropriate for the distance and my fitness. One other guy - Jason Donald - came with me and so began the long slow climb up to 9,000 feet. Timmy and Josh built a 20 meter lead, as the snow started coming down, then seemed to settle into a similar pace to mine and Jason's. Tim would ultimately come back to us on this climb and then the three of us would work together, now through about an inch of fresh powder, to reel in Josh by the 12.5-mile turn. Things were setting up nicely for a fun back half of the race.

This, of course, is where you start second guessing yourself. Convinced that the others look as fresh as daisies, I kept trying to find excuses to take my foot off the gas so that I wouldn't have to suffer too bad by racing hard for the 90 minutes that remained. But I kept finding myself holding on, and then holding on comfortably, and before I knew it we were beginning the big technical jeep track descent. Almost immediately, we dropped Jason and it was down to a three-man race.

On the rocky jeep track, I watched from 10 meters back as Timmy and Josh traded off the lead. They looked to be killing it, while I was feeling a little clumsy, but somehow the gap didn't grow. That seemed to be the story all morning: me marveling at how comfortable everyone else was looking while feeling like I should be dropping off the back but holding my own anyway.

At mile 20, I hit the penultimate aid station 10 seconds back on Tim and Josh. They stopped for water/gels, but I was good to go, essentially putting myself right back in the mix. Josh got out first, followed by Timmy, and almost immediately Josh rebuilt a lead. I could sense that Tim was tying up, so I took an opportunity a half mile into the tight, technical singltrack to pass, by which time Josh had built a gap of about a minute. I gave up a bit more on the last slog of a climb, and then pretty much held my own through the last three miles to the finish, leaving time for one last spectacular digger.

Timmy Parr, winner Josh Arthur and myself.
All in all, a good workout in Salida. I felt strong all morning, and while the mental game clearly needs some work, my fitness is as good - or better - as it's been in a while. Whenever you PR at a race that you've run five times previously on the slowest rendition of an already tough course, then you've got to be happy. Next up is Lake Sonoma, where the goal is no more than to run faster than last year.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Week Ending March 10

Mon - AM: 6 miles easy (800'). Milner Mountain loop.
PM: 5 miles easy (1,100'). Falls loop.

Tues - AM: 10 miles intervals. Workout was mile, mile, 1,200, 1,000, mile, mile. All miles except the first were supposed to be fartlek, but I ran a comfortable pace throughout for the most part. Miles ranged from 5:45 to 6:30 with shorter intervals at a similar intensity. Decided to just get some mileage in at marathon/50k pace to save a little something for the weekend's action in Salida. Long cool down with Mike. Really cold to start, but warmed up quickly once the sun hit.
PM: 6 miles easy (800'). Milner Mountain loop.

Weds - Noon: 7 miles easy (1,900'). Horsetooth north summit via north gap. Just a beautiful day out.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles steady (1,400'). The usual 5 mile out and back with the crew. Mike, Jen, Mary, Celeste and Ziggy this morning. Let Mike go on the way back, keeping things nicely under control at something akin to marathon effort. No watch.
PM: 5 miles (1,100') easy. Falls loop. Bumped into Burch at Horsetooth Upper as he was finishing up. Talked him into jogging a Falls loop with me, chatting a bit about the competition at Salida.

Fri - 3.5 miles jogging once we got to Salida.

Sat - 27.5 miles race (4,000'). Salida Marathon. 3:07:58, 2nd. Another good early season indicator, with a six minute PR on this particular course, and a minute or two faster than my previous PR on the slightly faster 2011 course. Got to be happy with that. Tanked a bit mentally with six to go, but regrouped and got back after it to finish strong. Just a really fun morning of racing. Wish they could all be like that. More details to come, but first got to give a big shout out to Josh Arthur - the winner from Crested Butte - who ran strong all morning for a very well deserved win. Burch had told me earlier in the week about his Collegiate Peaks 25 mile record-busting run from last year, so I knew he'd be there or there abouts if in similar form, which apparently he was. He didn't quite show the same form over longer distances last year, but I'm thinking 2013 might be a big year for Josh. Watch this space (the interwebs, that is...) and stay tuned at Quad Rock/Leadville/UROC this summer.

Sun - 5 miles. Jogged out to the start/finish, then did the 2 mile fun run loop and jogged back through town. Felt really good all things considered, with very little soreness to speak of.

Total - 85 miles (10,900')

Another good week in the books, with a solid and encouraging race at Salida. I've really been working hard to keep things under control until now, with Salida the planned for green light. It is now officially time to get seriously serious about getting 100-mile fit. Three months of intensity coming up.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Week Ending March 3

Mon - noon: 7.5 miles (1,900') slogging. Horsetooth north summit (Southridge/Audra). Although there was a decent trench most of the way, the snow was still pretty unconsolidated and choppy which made for a bit of a slog fest. Good and deep up near the summit, which was fun, and then some good wading on Audra. Tiring.
PM: 6 miles (700') easy. Milner Mtn loop. Felt pretty spry coming back up the hill on 38e.

Tues - AM: 8.5 miles intervals. Workout was 5 x mile, with first and last mile at steady effort (cemetery) and middle three as fartlek (city park). A while since I've been to Jane's AM workouts, and I felt it - perhaps some lingering fatigue from Fuego y Agua too. Ran with Mike and Ben, although Ben consistently dropped us on the faster fartlek segments, in addition to the last mile: 5:29, 5:34, 5:37, 5:44 (fell apart), 5:26 (felt terrible).
PM: 6 miles (700') easy. Felt better as the run went on, but that's not saying much as I started out feeling like I was going to have trouble completing the loop.

Weds - PM: 7 miles (1,200') easy. Falls loop with some tooling around in the neighborhood.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles (1,400') tempo. Been a few weeks since I've done the HTH5MO&B, so it was good to get back this morning. Weather man said it was 12 degrees at 6:00, but when the wind's not blowing it just never feels that cold in Colorado. So, yeah, it was really quite a pleasant morning, made all the better by the big bright moon hovering over Horsetooth to the west with day breaking over the plains to the east: Centennial has to be one of the best sections of road on the Front Range for running/biking, IMO, especially at daybreak. If you haven't run it yet, the Horsetooth Half Marathon (which we run the first five miles of for this workout) is an absolute classic and will be celebrating its 40th year in 2013.

Anyway, today was much like many other Thursday mornings: out easy with good friends, and then back at some degree of intensity. I told Mike and Steph at the turn that I wasn't feeling much like pushing on the way back, but by the time I'd climbed north dam hill and given Mike 20 seconds, I guess my competitive nature got the better of me. At first I was content to try and keep the gap at 20 seconds, but by the end of mile two I was pretty determined to catch Mike. Finally did on the last mile back down to Maxwell, and then felt silly for running the workout harder than planned. Splits: 7:50, 6:18, 6:48, 5:03, 4:45 (30:45).
PM: 6.5 easy on the bike paths with the FCTR crew.

January: 345.5 miles (51,900)
February: 309 (47,900')
2013 Summits
Horsetooth (7,255') (24)
Arthurs Rock (6,780') (2)

Fri - Noon: 7 miles (1,900') easy. Horsetooth north summit via a heavily snowed-in north gap. Once on the rock though, the climbing was good with very little ice - as I suspected would be the case given the warmer temps. Somewhat freakishly, a search and rescue helicopter did a fly by, 50 meters to the west of the rock as I was climbing and then circled again even closer - to the point that I could clearly see the pilot and passenger - before shooting off west towards Buckhorn Canyon.

Sat - AM: 23 miles (3,200') steady with Burch. A nice casual summit of Horsetooth (up Southridge/Audra, down Rock) in the packed and rapidly melting snow, then down 38e to Redstone for a full out and back at the high end of easy, followed by a strong climb up 38e and an easy finish on the Grim Reaper. Spring was most definitely in the air today.

Sun 11.5 miles. 4 miles setting up the Lee Martinez 10k T&H course, then some quicker miles to make the best of sleeping through my (super) early alarm. Had planned on 16 miles, running from home, but ended up driving into town. Ran the final 7 miles at a low to mid-six effort before getting the race underway.
PM: 2 miles carrying Stella down to the Falls and back. Muddy out - snow pretty much all melted out - water flow through the falls was kinda disappointing unfortunately.

Total: 95 miles (11,000')

Pretty good week on balance. Probably take the foot of the gas a little bit this week before heading out to the Banana Belt with the family on Friday after work for the always-fun Salida Marathon weekend. Full-on mileage mode from there.