Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Fortnight That Was - 5/13 - 5/26/2012 and the Hardest Run Ever

(Started this post days ago...finally getting around to posting it.) Two weeks of running, both literally and figuratively...some mountains, some beaches and some not at all.

All-in-all, it's been a good couple of weeks. I missed a few days here and there, but have managed to get in some good runs between the chaos that is our lives.

Week 5/13-5/19 - the highlights:

Sunday - Bergen Peak - 15 miles; 2:45; 2,783 feet o' elevation gain: Ran from home to the summit of Bergen Peak, then dropped off the backside into the Bergen Peak State Wildlife Management Area tract and found a great trail that descends down into the Echo Hills subdivision. Did some exploring trying to find a new way into the adjacent Denver Mountain Park tracts that lay between the subdivision and Squaw Pass Road. Ended up traipsing through some private property and then bushwhacking down a ridiculously steep and thickly-wooded hillside before finding a fire road on a DMP tract. Added some miles via the roads in Soda Creek.

Tuesday - Marshall Mesa - 16 miles; 2:15; 969 feet o' elevation gain:  Early morning spin around the    Dirty Bismark loop. Beautiful morning on these wide-open trails. Saw and heard WAY more meadowlarks than I saw people.

Thursday - Colorado Trail - 8 miles; 1:25; 1,271 feet o' elevation gain:  CP was doing a class camping trip on some private land just below Kenosha Pass. We were jumping on a red-eye later this evening bound for Florida, so I headed over in the early evening to the campsite to pick her up.  Along the way, I stopped at the parking area on the south side of Kenosha Pass for a quick out-and-back on the Colorado Trail. Legs were flat and not happy with the run, but the scenery more than made up for it. Turns out, the property where the kids were camping was about half a mile below the spot where this picture was taken. You had to cross the CO Trail on a two-track to get to the spot. Such a cool location!

The Colorado Trail below Kenosha Pass.
Week 5/20-5/16 - the highlights:

Sunday:  Palm Beach - 16.68 miles; 2:23 - We flew all morning on Friday (1 a.m. - 6:30 a.m.) to Ft. Lauderdale on Spirit Airlines so we could join family in marking JP's grandmother's 95th birthday party. Spirit Airlines managed to lose my luggage, which didn't arrive in Florida until Saturday at 3 p.m.  So, Friday and Saturday were forced days off.  With running gear now in hand, I got up early Sunday for a jaunt around the tony enclave of Palm Beach. I started at our Fairfield Inn hotel located on Palm Beach just over the Intercoastal Waterway from Lake Worth and headed north. Most of the main road along the beach from our hotel to the Breakers Hotel was closed due to sewer replacement, which meant I had long stretches of beach-side pavement all to myself...well, just me and several hundred very, very expensive houses. Ran to downtown Palm Beach, over the Intercoastal to West Palm Beach, turned around and ran back. Got pretty darn hot and humid over the last 4-5 miles.

Palm Beach sunrise.

An aptly named road in West Palm Beach
Thursday:  Mt. Falcon Open Space - 13 miles; 2:06; 2,656 feet o' elevation gain:  Way early morning run with Joe Z. and Woody A. around this open space park in Morrison. Solid effort throughout the run, including 3+ miles of quality downhill to finish things off. We were done by 7:15 a.m. By 3 p.m., I was ready for a nap. That 4:15 a.m. wake-up hurt.

Saturday: Mt. Evans Wilderness Area - 28 (ish) miles; 9:15; 7K(ish) feet o' elevation gain:  This was a brutal run, done with Joe Z., Todd G. and Troy H. The first 14 miles from Echo Lake on the Captain Mountain Trail and the Lost Creek Trail were great. However, once we got onto the Cub Creek Trail, things turned ugly fast.

Joe Z. cruising down the Captain Mountain Trail in the early morning light.
Just a little ways up the Cub Creek Trail we hit a bunch of downed trees. No problem. Downed trees in the spring are part of trail running.  The winter always brings down a few big ones.

Just a few trees on the climb up the Cub Creek problem.
The day's plan, for me, was to be out for 4-5 hours.  We ended up being out for 9:15. We spent a good four hours climbing over, under and through a massive evergreen blowdown. Turns out there must have been one hell of a windstorm/microburst on the east side of Mt. Evans this winter. The scale of the destruction was pretty incredible. And, the result is virtually impenetrable. Down trees were 4-10 feet high, covering the trail and making movement painfully slow. The only time we got 4-5 consistent steps was when we were walking on a down tree trunk five feet from the ground. It's amazing we got out of that mess without any injuries worse than our shredded legs.

Todd G. surveying the damage.  
The power of the wind had to have been tremendous.
Note:  Despite using terms like "massive" and "scale of destruction," let me be more direct. Do NOT venture into the Cub Creek Trail area.  It's simply not worth it.  This is not a log-hopping problem. This is crawling and climbing through branches, over big, full, downed trees and dealing with extreme route-finding. You can't follow the trails. We ended up just bushwhacking from one drainage to another trying to make our way over to an old burned area to the north, which we knew was where the trail back to Echo Lake ran. This was a TOUGH day.

After bushwhacking and emerging into a nice, trail-less meadow, Todd, Troy and Joe try and figure out where we are.
"I think we're in this drainage. Now, if we just climb over this ridge..."
Of course we eventually made our way out of the blowdown and back to the cars. Everyone was quick to check in with families to let them know we were safe.

Post-run. Ouch. Let the healing begin.
Toward the end of the "run," I definitely was having those "why the hell am I doing this?" thoughts.  When I got home, I told JP I needed to give some serious thought to whether the time/training was worth it.  A day later, of course, those thoughts are long gone and the desire to run is right back where it should be, for now.

The banishment of the negative thoughts was hastened by a really fun five-mile hike the next day up Chief Mountain with CP and our two dogs, Cisco and Maya.

CP on the summit of Chief Mountain. 
Bristlecone snag on  Chief Mountain.
Nothing like sharing the trails with an 11-year-old to bring some perspective.  Onwards!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Week That Was - May 6-12, 2012

Decent week of running, although the mileage isn't where I'd like it to be. Starting to feel like my fitness is returning after having to shut things down for February and March due to ITBS.

The stats:

57.86 miles
10,811 feet o' elevation gain
9 hours, 27 minutes

Sunday: Beaver Brook Trail Traverse - (17 miles; 4,489 feet o' elevation gain; 3:29). Did an out-and-back run the length of the Beaver Brook Trail, starting at the Chief Hosa trailhead and running to Windy Saddle on Lookout Mountain Road. This trail has it all...tough, rugged climbs, gentle rollers and a wee bit of flat, steady running. Was pretty hammered by the time it was all said and done. Came across Troy H. twice. He was out doing the same run, only more and starting from the Chimney Gulch Trailhead. Big day for him!

Views down into Clear Creek Canyon from Beaver Brook Trail

Beaver Brook Trail blaze
Monday: Home - Firestone via Elk Meadow - (3.88 miles; 466 feet o' elevation gain; :38).  Legs were heavy from the previous day's run. Decided to keep it waaaaay easy. Just ran from home to car repair shop to pick up the car.

Tuesday: North Table Mountain - (10.02 miles; 1,190 feet o' elevation gain; 1:20). Tempo pace/effort run. Ran a bunch of stuff to pretty much circumnavigate the mountain, with a bit of climbing thrown in via the Mesa Top Trail.  The North Table Mountain Trail is a great and relatively new trail and is flat enough to get some solid and challenging turn-over going. Felt good to push the pace a bit, which I haven't been doing much of since January when the ITBS flared up.

Wednesday: Green Mountain - Lakewood - (10.07 miles; 1,151 feet o' elevation gain; 1:21). Ran from Rooney Road lot around the south side of the mountain, climbed up to the towers, over to the high point and back down via the Box o' Rocks Trail.

Thursday: Bergen Peak Upper Loop - (8 miles; 1,758; 1:14). Ran a slightly abbreviated version of the upper loop from the lower lot at Elk Meadow Open Space.

Friday: Off - Crazy day between work and family obligations.

Saturday: Bergen Peak Upper Loop - (8.89 miles; 1,758 feet o' elevation gain; 1:23). This was one of those runs that restores one's excitement about running/training. Felt like I was flying up Elk Meadow's Too Long Trail. I recall wishing I had run my time trial route this day. I'm sure I could have set a PR. Ran hard down the Bergen Peak Trail feeling great. IT barked a wee bit when as I was finishing up on the Meadow View Trail. Slowed down and jogged it in. No further problems. Played it safe as soon as I got a few minor twinges.

Thoughts:  As noted above, I'm starting to feel like some of the fitness I had in late winter is beginning to return. Tuesday was my first tempo pace/effort hard run in several months. Felt so good cruising along the North Table Mountain Trail on a beautiful day. Looking forward to more of those.  No yoga this week, but got in a solid session this past Sunday morning.  Foam rolling and hip mobility/strengthening exercises continue.

Random Goodness

Does a later-in-life start to serious running allow one to perform better as one ages?  Maybe.

Want to finish Leadville (or any other 100-miler) more than 30 minutes sooner without running any harder or faster?  Learn to pee while running.

Got a favorite "green" restaurant in Boulder or Denver?  The Nature Conservancy has a contest going. Vote here.  My fave in Denver:  Watercourse.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Word Art

I like the way this came out.  Hat tip to GZ for pointing to Wordle. New to me. At the Wordle site, you type in a URL and Wordle scans the site and creates a word cloud. You can play with the layout, colors and fonts. 

Here's what all those posts add up to:

Pointless...but neato.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Here and There

Colorado weather. Never dull. Saturday in Denver...90 degrees. Today in Evergreen:

Elk Meadow Open Space. Bergen Peak completely obscured by clouds

The last two weeks o' running have been modest in mileage (both around 50 miles), but have included some solid runs.

The highlights:

Greenland Open Space - (14 miles; 1:56) last Sunday, after dropping off my visiting nephew at Colorado College in the Springs, I stopped off at Greenland and ran the park's trails, plus several miles on the New Santa Fe Regional Trail, a 16-mile Rails-to-Trails crushed gravel path that connects Palmer Lake to the Springs. I enjoyed the run in the fading daylight, but found the course of the Greenland 50K to be rather dull.

The Greenland Trail heading out from the parking area.
Arlington, VA loop - (10.2 miles; 1:20). Spent this past week in Arlington, VA on a biz trip. Got out for a couple of 10-mile runs, plus a pair of six mile jogs (both done in the around 10:30 p.m. after landing in D.C.). On Wednesday, I got out with a friend from work for a nice loop that included a bit of everything...technical trail, smooth trail, bike paths and roads. Worked in a good bit of tempo. A nice change from the base-building pace stuff I've been doing lately.

Nothing says "Welcome" more than a defaced road sign.
The start of the Potomac Heritage Trail by Roosevelt Island 
Key Bridge, connecting Virginia with Georgetown in D.C., from the PHT.
 Other than those highlights, it's been the usual mix of Boulder peaks and Bergen Peak in Evergreen. With the biz travel, managed just two yoga classes over the last two weeks. Hoping to get in a few more this week.

Solid 17-mile run with 4,500 feet o' elevation gain yesterday on the Beaver Brook Trail, running from the Chief Hosa trailhead to Windy Saddle and back. Felt pretty wasted, though, after the run. Definitely need to ramp up the long runs this week, and work in another tempo effort.

Fortunately, the IT injury seems to have healed. Still playing it smart, but beginning to feel  comfortable adding in more intensity and mileage. The trick is to do both gradually, and listen to the body.  Yeah, I'm talking to myself.