Sunday, March 25, 2012

Colorado Trail - Segment 1

A call was put out last week by JT for an out & back group run on segment 1 of the Colorado Trail.  I thought it was on Saturday, but later found out the group was heading out on Sunday morning.  Since that didn't work for me, I opted to go it alone on Saturday as it sounded like a fun, long run on "new to me" trails.

Run Stats
I began the run at 5:30am, so my jaunt up Waterton Canyon was in darkness.  The coolest moment of the day came when I was passing a towering cliff that had to be 100' high.  I looked up with my headlamp and found ten pairs of glowing eyes looking down at me about 3/4 of the way up.  They were so far up that I couldn't see anything but the eyes.  I'm sure it was the herd of bighorn sheep, but it was crazy to think of them spending the night on the face of a cliff.

Thankfully dawn had arrived by the time I reached the dam and began the real CT (sans headlamp).

Looking northeast at Turkshead Peak
The first several miles of singletrack feature switchbacks as you climb up to Lenny's Rest.  As much as I would have loved being with a group, the solitude in the forest was exactly what I needed.  No talking, no music...just me and the sounds of woodpeckers, chirping birds, and whatever that weird noise is that squirrels make.

The trail conditions were awesome considering it's still March!  If you strung together all the snow patches I encountered over the 32 miles, the snow/ice would have accounted for about 2-3 miles.

These weren't fun, but they were short.

Well, some where a bit longer.

Couple of spots opened up the view to the west.  Raleigh Peak?

Cool views of Mt. Evans.

Long Scraggy Peak?  I wish I knew what I was looking out at.  One of the burn areas on the right.

From high above the South Platte.  Fun running down, but a slog coming back up!

Need some help with this.  Dog?  Cougar?  The middle of the print looks funny with the three bumps.  I'm wondering if it's a print inside of a print. 

Here are the two others close to the one above.  These look more like some sort of small cat.  For reference, I wear a size 12.5 shoe.

Segment Two Trailhead

The start of segment two was calling for me to come!

Is this pronounced like Goudy or Judy?  Oh the things you will think about for over an hour on a long run!

If the temps weren't hovering around 32 here, I would have considered hanging out a bit.

I decided to once again experiment with nutrition on this run.  I tried a 30 miler last year and ate only potatoes, and a bunch of different cookies & crackers.  That test didn't go so well.  On this run, I decided to skip the gels and eat nothing but Scooby Snacks.  They're actually quite tasty to me, and they pack 130 calories, 22g carbs, 120mg sodium, 2g protein into nine dog bones.

The results?  I give 'em two thumbs up.  There are about 90 bones in the box and I ate 60 of them.  No, I didn't actually run with the box in hand!  I felt fine the entire run and never got tired of the taste/consistency.  I'd pop two in at a time and let them sit in my cheeks a bit before gobbling them down.  During the second half, I needed a quick shot of water to help since my mouth was a bit more dry.

With all that said, I have a really bad habit of getting to the last 5-8 miles of a run/race and feeling like I should be able to stop eating and be fine to the finish.  I have done this too many times to count.  When I got to the dam, I felt like I was on the home stretch and stopped eating while clicking off a couple miles in the mid-7's.  Not smart.  Had I kept with the program and not try to be a superhero, I would have returned to my car feeling solid.  Instead, the last two miles to the trailhead were borderline miserable.  Someday I will learn.  Someday.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Love-Hate Workout

All is well getting back into a training cycle for the Quad Rock 50 in May.  In fact, that will kick off a series of three races in a span of six weeks.  One thing I can't ignore about these races is the vertical.  All of them will be quite hilly.

Quad Rock 50 = 11,000+'
Golden Gate Dirty Thirty (50k) = 7,680'
San Juan Solstice 50 = 12,000+'

With the above in mind, I've kicked off my weekday early morning Mt. Falcon sessions.  Instead of running a full loop and hitting every trail (which I enjoy immensely), I'm sticking with a 3-2-1 to force myself to workout on the most painful (mentally & physically) part of the park.  The first three miles from the lower lot is not fun, but provides the most vertical bang for your buck.  So starting at 5am, I run up to the shelter (3 mi) and back down to the lowest point, turnaround and head back up two miles, and then repeat by climbing that first dreaded mile.

It's funny how this workout creates the same conditions of mental anguish I've experienced in trail races with lap courses.  All I can think about during the first 3 mile climb is that I'm going to be doing most of it all over again.  I'm hoping that repeating this workout will toughen me to realize it's not a big deal and I just need to suck it up.

I resampled the GPS data and got 3893', but I'm thinking that is still several hundred feet too high.

The problem I see right now is I'm running too much.  I'm not talking about mileage, but how I'm getting my miles in.  I'm going to toss in an extra "hiking only" morning soon.  It's a weakness right now and I know all three races will expose it in short order.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Runnin' The Strip

The week of 2/20 found me at a conference in Vegas for a few days.  I was fresh off the Red Hot, but had the itch to run a bit after sitting around most of the day.

If you're looking for trails you can run to from the Strip, they're no where to be found.  Even though you can see mountains in almost every direction, you'll need a car to get there.

So running the Strip was my only non-treadmill option.  Unless you like constantly weaving around people, I learned quickly that the only time to run the Strip is early.  That may be a problem for some, but I'm not much of a nightlife guy, so I ventured out around 6am and joined all the other runners pounding the pavement.  It was actually an enjoyable run.  There's no shortage of things to look at. They have elevated pedestrian walkways at most major intersections, so you get several small climbs mixed in.

I don't have much else to report from a running front.  My next race is the Quad Rock 50 in May, so I'm looking forward to a training block without the pressure of an immediate race.  I need to start ramping up my miles and begin getting back over to the foothills for some climbing.  More importantly, I still need to heal up the ache in my knee.