Sunday, July 24, 2011

Indian Peaks Run - The South Loop

I got out for a perfect day of running with Jaime in the Indian Peaks on Saturday.  We hit up the south loop which takes you up the King Lake Trail towards Rollins Pass, along the Divide, and down from Devil's Thumb Pass.  We added two side trips to Betty & Bob Lakes, and then Diamond Lake.

I'll let you in on a little secret.  Take Jaime with you if you ever go on a trail run out there.  The guy's a living and breathing trail map.  I was simply amazed at how well he knew those trails.  He would frequently say things like, "just around this bend it will get a little steep...or it will get technical in about a half mile" and sure enough, he was right.  It was comforting since I can't even remember the trail I ran on five minutes prior.

There's still a bunch of snow up there (big surprise!), but this was the first run where the snow was never an issue.  When I say perfect day, I mean barely a cloud in the sky, temps in the upper sixties, a gentle breeze, lots of running above 11,000', and almost non-existent people traffic.

I believe we got in about 21 miles over 5.5 hours (my watch battery was dead on arrival, so I think that's what Jaime told me).  Our sole focus was to have a fun day playing up high.  I had a good laugh at how we were breaking all the conventional running rules about tapering and recovering.  Jaime is running the San Francisco Marathon NEXT weekend.  And I'm still recovering a bit from Silver Rush LAST weekend.  Oh well, we had a blast and are just fine after having a recovery soak in an ice cold creek.

A favorite moment was on the return trip from Diamond Lake and stopping at a small creek just below a snowfield at 11,500'.  We were out of water so we filtered some (yeah, I don't like to take chances) and drank.  I'm pretty sure I've never tasted better ice water!

Thought we might have stumbled upon a "Tough Mudder" course.
Betty Lake.  I told Jaime this is where I'd love to have a tiny shack to live for a summer!
King Lake
King Lake from above
Jaime cruisin' the Continental Divide Trail
Perfect conditions for running on the CDT.
Ah, the colors up high.
The Fraser Valley.
The trail down from Devil's Thumb Pass.
Devil's Thumb
On the way to Diamond Lake.  This was THE monster snow field of the day.  On the return trip, we started at the top and ran/slid all the way down.  Awesome!
Diamond Lake
Final fast stretch through the wildflowers.
The BEST recovery!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Silver Rush 50 Race Report

I can't say I would recommend my pre-race preparations for Silver Rush.  They included spending a week in Minnesota at lower elevation, driving 16.5 hours in one shot back to CO on Friday, rushing into work for several hours on Saturday afternoon to repair a blown up UPS (which brought down three servers), and then driving to Leadville that night and sleeping in the back of my car.

Given that buildup, I'm pleased with how the race turned out.  Silver Rush was my first ultra last year and I grunted out a 9:13.  I knew a sub-9 finish was probable with a solid effort this year, but crossing the line in 8:34 was a pleasant surprise.  I just wish it came a little easier.

The first half was about as good as I could have hoped.  I ran a bit with Leila D. and then caught up with Carrie Stafford during the final pitch of the climb around Ball Mountain.  I ran with Carrie at the Pb training camp a few weeks back and she's one tough runner (2nd female finisher).  I ended up leap-frogging with her all the way to the finish.

During the second half I was plagued with stomach cramps and nausea.  It was quite unpleasant, but very good practice for working through it over the long haul.  I'm convinced the culprit was the Perpetuem I started drinking at the turnaround.  I got through two bottles of the stuff and had crazy cramps after each.  It threw all my fueling out of whack.  I tried to get back into a gel program, but had the hardest time getting them down.  During the last ten miles, I'd run for about 2 minutes before coming to a complete stop to fend off the urge to puke.  I'd burp once or twice and start running again until the next wave hit.  This repeated over and over.

My stomach woes took a hiatus during the final 1.5 miles and I caught up to a bunch of runners that I thought had left me in the dust.  I probably ran the fastest of the day in that stretch and passed two of them, but ran out of time when two other guys finished 8 & 15 seconds before me.

As most have stated that are also running the LT100 next month, Silver Rush was a great training run.  Here are a few random LT100 thoughts based on this race:

- Yeah, I won't be using Perpetuem during the LT100.  But I still like the idea of having a liquid fuel option, so I'm going to go back to EFS mixed with water.

- The Gu Brew they serve at the aid stations is quite tasty to me.  Almost as tasty as plain water.

- No GPS.  I ran with just a stopwatch and my laminated card with splits on it.  It worked perfectly and I didn't miss the GPS at all.

- I confirmed that I don't like running with two handhelds.

- I need to apply sunscreen more!  A volunteer sprayed just a little on me at the turnaround, and now I'm sporting a nice burn.  I felt my skin on fire during the second half of the race.  You know the sun is bad when you find yourself running on the extreme edge of the road/trail just to pass through a tiny sliver of shade.

- I'm not sure if I should have just puked to get rid of whatever was causing my nausea.  I kept thinking if I did, I'd be losing calories and get dehydrated.  I fought through it for hours and felt like it was the right decision.

Congrats to Patrick for finishing in 7:44 and 4th place!  He ran Silver Rush as his first ultra in 2009 finishing then in 9:14.  A 1.5 hour PR on that course is phenomenal!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Uneva Pass Run

Last Saturday, I was looking for a longish run at elevation before we took off for a week in Minnesota.  After scouring the maps and looking for some "new to me" trails, I settled on the Gore Range trail to Uneva Pass.

It begins at the Copper Mtn exit off I-70 and winds up for about six miles to the pass.  From there you can summit the two peaks on either side of the pass and continue the ridge to Uneva Peak.  That was the plan.

Like all of Colorado, this area had received ample rain the night before making it one soggy run.  I can handle wet as long as that wet doesn't turn in huge and impassable snow fields.  I encountered plenty of snow up high, but nothing that stopped my forward progress.

It was partly cloudy at the start of the run (5:30 a.m.), but after about two hours, the clouds increased rapidly and got darker.  I knew the likelihood of storms that early in the morning was slim to none, but when I got up to the ridge, I felt very isolated and exposed.  Once the clouds started swallowing up the peaks, I bailed on my attempt at Uneva Peak in order to begin the 45 minute trek back to treeline.  The storms never materialized, so I'm bummed that I didn't get up there when I was only about a half mile away.  I still think it was the right decision.

Still waiting for the sun to rise.

Not the most appealing singletrack.

Wheeler Lake #1

Wheeler Lake #2

View of Uneva Pass from Wheeler Lakes.
The Tenmile Range.

My only wildlife encounter.

Squish, squish, squish...


Somehow I managed to keep following the trail despite stretches like this.

Lost Lake

The second most nerve-wracking snowfield.  The angle & hardness of the snowpack made it  feel like my feet would slip out from under me.
Attempted to cross this one with jagged rocks in hand to serve as ice axes.  Didn't work and turned around because the grade was too sharp.  A glissade into the rocks & trees below would have been the outcome.  Instead bushwhacked the final pitch to the top of the pass.

View to the south from the pass.

Uneva Peak to the north.

Sneva Peak to the east.

Copper Mountain from Sneva Peak.

Had to thread the needle between the snow to get up to the ridge leading to Uneva Peak.

Beginning of the ridge to Uneva Peak.
More of the Gore Range.
The self-portrait.  This is where I bailed on my attempt at Uneva Peak.  Maybe I shouldn't have goofed off so much with the pictures and just ran up the dang thing!

I thought I'd get in a few more than 16.5 miles, but I had a great time enjoying a morning of solitude in the mountains.  I'm heading up to Leadville tonight for the Silver Rush 50 on Sunday.  I have no expectations for this since I signed up last minute in order to guarantee one last long training run for the LT100.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ptarmigan Peak Trail Run

After running aimlessly for 15 miles through the woods on Sunday, I made my way over to the Ptarmigan Peak trail on Monday morning for an early run.  Since most of the trail is west facing, I figured I'd have better success at avoiding the snow.  Thankfully, I was right.  I ran this for the first time last year and loved it.  Twelve miles round-trip with views that rival any outside of SW Colorado.  I was quite tired from some big mileage (for me) the previous week, so I just cruised without worrying whether I was running or hiking.

Started at 5:00 a.m. and took this shot about 40 minutes into the run.

The sun lighting up the Gore Range mountains.  It was chilly and I was wishing some of that sun would light me up.  You get a better view of the snow on Buffalo Mtn that I thought I could run through the day before.

I don't take enough pictures of dead and rotting trees.

Came upon some elk all spread out over the tundra.  (click pics to enlarge)

They take notice that I'm coming.

Looking back towards the lake and the Tenmile Range.

And...they all gather to prepare for a mass exit.  Sure makes me feel powerful that 40 huge elk would flee from my presence when they could easily trample me into a pancake if they wanted.

On the summit, looking northwest-ish.  The Ute Peak trail runs along that entire ridge for miles.    My elk friends are trying to descend that snowfield.  Not a good idea, so they turned around.
Looking east at Grays and Torreys.  The Ptarmigan Pass trail follows this ridge.  

Descending on some sweet, wildflower-lined singletrack.

Flat and fast, but only for a mile or so.

These claw marks were on just about every aspen tree along the trail.  I figured they could only be from a bear.  Today, I learned about them here.

Came across this big guy just over a mile away from the trailhead.

I enjoyed this run so much that I'm itching to go back and run from the Ptarmigan Peak TH all the way to Ute Peak and back (about 26 miles).