Monday, October 25, 2010

Newfound Lake Loop

My other run during our vacation was to continue my 3 year tradition of running around Newfound Lake. It started when I was training for the NH Marathon in 2007 and running around the lake meant training on the actual course. After running in the NH Marathon again in 2008, I decided that I would continue to run that 16 mile loop each visit for as long as I can.

I started the run without any plan. It was the coldest day of the week, so I ran fast to get the body warmed up quick. The faster pace felt great, so I decided to keep pushing it. I ran about 75% of loop in the dirt on the shoulder. In some places it was smooth, while in others it felt like a semi-technical trail.

The town of Hebron. This 210 year old town features a village square that has barely changed in that amount of time.

Hebron Square from a different angle.

Big Sugarloaf Mountain. Summit #2 on my Elwell Trail adventure.

An area of the lake called the "Ledges". It is also the deepest part of the lake. 180'.

I don't know the story behind this lighthouse. Just thought it was a cool pic.

I ran the 16 miles in 1:56. That's cookin' for me on a training run. But man, did it feel good!

The Elwell Trail (Newfound Lake to Mt. Cardigan)

On the bucket list of every trail runner should be a mid-October run somewhere in NH-VT-ME area. Last week, I was vacationing in NH and bagged a sweet run in the famous fall foliage. About a week before we left, I found a write-up of the Historic Elwell Trail. My parents live on Newfound Lake, so it was a perfect run that I didn't have to drive far to reach.

The Elwell Trail summits many small peaks (Little Sugarloaf (948') & Big Sugarloaf (1360'), Bear Mtn (1835'), Oregon Mtn (2301'), and Mt. Mowglis (2400'), before connecting to the Mowglis trail and heading up Firescrew Mtn and Mt. Cardigan (3155').

When comparing them to the peaks in the Rockies, they're tiny. But string them together with plenty of bouncing up & down, a trailhead situated around 600', and I finished with close to 5000' of climbing. I'm confident that when these trails were blazed 85 years ago, they had never heard of switchbacks. Every ascent was almost a straight shot up!

My folks dropped me off at the trailhead at 7:30am. Immediately, I disappeared into a thick forest. They had received ample rain in the days prior to our arrival, so my Wildcats were soaked through within the first mile. With that said, it didn't bother me much as they seem to drain & dry well. It was a windy & cool day, but I thought it was next to perfect for an autumn run. Enjoy the pics!

Newfound Lake from atop Little Sugarloaf

Newfound Lake from atop Big Sugarloaf

Newfound Lake...again...from atop Bear Mtn.

Example of why NH is called the "Granite State"...and why I "ran" 15 min miles. Yes, that is the trail.

Ah...running alone in black bear country...during hunting season. I did my best to be seen and heard. From atop Oregon Mtn....Firescrew is above my right shoulder.

There were several spots to open it up and fly. Although, a few surprises were hiding under those leaves...puddles, roots & rocks.

Even with decent signs, the trails were sometimes a challenge to follow. Can you tell which way the trail goes?

Mt. Cardigan summit from atop Firescrew Mtn. I learned quickly that was ice glistening on the granite.

The fire tower on Cardigan's summit

I ducked behind the concrete shed underneath the fire tower to get out of the 25-30 mph winds and sub-freezing windchills.

Coming down Cardigan on the Holt trail.

Had to do some "road" running at the end to meet up with my family at an apple orchard. I could run all day on roads if they looked like this!

The stats on the day were about 16.3 miles in 4:03. Tack on an additional hour for breaks (pics, food, bathroom, rocks in the shoes, etc).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Weekend Roundup

On Saturday, Tanya & I ran in the Wildcat Mountain 10 Mile Trail Race here in HR. We didn't run the race together, but instead did our own thing and met up at the finish line. We did sneak in a high five as we passed each other on the out & back stretch.

Tanya ran a spectacular first trail race finishing in 1:45. She really enjoyed the trail scene, but would have liked just a little more "crowd support" out there! After the race she won a $55 Brooks long sleeve running shirt in a raffle. That made up for the lack of finishers medal, which is pretty much a requirement for any race she runs.

The 10 mile course was one that I had run about once a week all summer long. I've never raced on a "home course", so I was curious to see how much that would help to run a smart and solid race. I think it really helped. I decided to push it quite hard and see if I could nail a top ten finish. If you've followed my running for any length of time, you know that is something I typically don't shoot for.

When the race started, I was last in a pack of ten runners at the front. The first two miles were uphill and my heart rate was off the charts. My first split was a 6:46. I then made my move to pass two runners and settled into a slower pace as we continued to climb. The second was a 7:13. Once things flattened out a bit, I was able to notch two more sub-7 min. miles before starting another mile long climb. During this stretch the 6th place runner kept adding to his lead with no sign of slowing. Fortunately, the two guys behind me dropped back far enough that I couldn't see them anymore.

That's the way the rest of the race went. No passing, and no being passed. I crossed the finish line in 1:10, which was good for 7th place. For the first time ever, I placed 3rd in my age group (30-39) and scored a medal!

This race was satisfying on many levels. It was fun to get out and try to run fast. After several races where "slow and steady" ruled the day, it felt good to open it up and get the heart pumping. I haven't run a sustained 7:00 pace since April. I appreciated the advantage of knowing every single twist and turn in the trail. I knew when to hold back a bit, and when to just let go.

On Sunday, I ventured up to Evergreen with Patrick to meet up with Jim & Steve for a run up Bergen Peak. Jim lives just steps from a connector trail, so we got going quickly and motored up at a good clip. My legs were feeling quite heavy from the race on Saturday, but good enough to keep up with everyone. While on the summit, we experience our first snowflakes of the season. I was on Bergen with Patrick back in June when the summit was in a cloud. This time the clouds were broken up enough to afford scenic views of a snow dusted Mt. Evans. We ended up covering 12 miles in 2:03.

Thanks for hosting the run (and snacks) Jim!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Still Thinking About Leadville...

Well, I'm still thinking about Leadville for next August. I don't know what it's going to take to make me say "yes" or "no", but registration opens in less than a month.

Two big qualms I had with Leadville are the lack of online updates during the race, and Winfield.

For two years now, I've tried to follow LT100 runners through twitter updates and it was incredibly frustrating to not know what was happening for 4, 6, 8 hours at a time. If I'm running in it, I want friends and family to be able to track my progress throughout the day...and night.

I don't think a single LT100 runner had anything positive to say about the road to/from Winfield. I've seen pictures of the circus at the turnaround and that portion of the race is a big turnoff. Six miles of running through a constant dust cloud kicked up by the passing of cars...ugh!

This week I shot an email to the new owners of the LT100 family of events, Life Time Fitness. They're based out in MN. I simply expressed my concerns and asked for even a hint of changes that might be made for next year. I assumed I'd eventually get some canned response. Well, the very next day, I got a sweet email from Peter Spencer. Let's just say they are totally on top of the "issues" from Leadville 2010 and are going to be making some much needed changes. He said that online updates will be "100% better" than this year. Seeing that there were none, they can't get any worse! He also said that a change WILL be made for Winfield. Right now they are considering the option of restricting all car traffic while busing crews/pacers out there. Another idea in the hopper is to build a trail along the main road from Hope Pass to Winfield.

I'd be lying if I said my email exchange with Peter didn't get me excited. Right now, I'm looking at the entire calendar for 2011 and trying to figure out if I can make it work. I will not let the year revolve around this race. I want family life and other commitments to continue as normal, with training fitting in rather than vice versa. This philosophy has worked in the past, but planning and training for a 100 miler is a different animal.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mt. Falcon

Hopefully no one was looking for me at Deer Creek on Sunday. I had a last minute change of plans. All the horse-loving ladies in my house went to that Cavalia horse show in Denver, which freed up the entire afternoon for me! I had a gift card to Runner's Roost, so I shot up to the Lakewood store and picked up a pair of La Sportiva Wildcats and then went right over to Mt. Falcon to break them in.

What a great shoe! This summer I've been alternating between my Asic Trabuco's (2 years and almost 900 miles) and my Salomon XA 3D Pro Ultra (almost 600 miles). I raced with the Salomon's, but aside from the solid toe cap, I never thought they were all that great. But man that toe cap saved me on more than a few occasions.

Since I'm not that interested in a minimalist shoe right now, the Wildcat seemed to strike a nice balance. From the first few steps on the trail, I knew it was a good match for me.

I went back to Mt. Falcon because it was close to Lakewood, and there were a few trails I didn't get to check out when I ran there in June. Specifically the Two-Dog, Old Ute, and Devil's Elbow trails. They're all super short, but fun.

All in all, it was a great run. I pushed it pretty good, but not so much that I wasn't having fun. A few times, I found myself in ultra mode and I started hiking the uphills only to remind myself that there was no need to conserve for later. Other times I hiked out of necessity!

A favorite moment was descending a technical stretch of the Castle trail. About four hikers were taking a break on the side. I was flying down and by their expressions, they thought for sure I was going to bite it at any moment. Well, I didn't, and instead was just loving the run, the new shoes, and my post-RRR recovered state!

Totals for the day were 13.7 miles in 2:16.