Lake Isabelle

Lake Isabelle

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Saturday, 04/05/14 Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim

2014 Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim
South Kaibab/North Kaibab/South Kaibab
42 miles/~11,000 vert.
Travel partners: John (Homie) Prater, Kevin Lund

Short story:  Prepared quite well in the preceding months, I felt really strong and ready to make an honest attempt at my 2010 PR of 8:15 on my 5th RRR.  However, I got sick which had everything in question the week prior and right up to the morning of the start.  I ended up tentatively running, but it was clear an hour into the run that I was not 100%, but my sense of inspiration and stubbornness got the best of me.  I faked it somewhat for 5 hours, but slowly faded up until the final 4,700 foot climb up S. Kaibab.  Then, the wheels came off entirely and I struggled to a 9:14 finish.  Uggg.

Longer version:

I really enjoy coordinating my RRR with the Dawson group, who has been going to do the RRR each year for the past 11 or 12 years.  Typically ~20 show up, but this year, there were more than 30 loosely associated and I was excited to join for my 5th RRR trip.  This is a really loose knit group though, sometimes starting from different trailheads in sub-groups of anywhere from 1 to 4 or 5 and even they often split up.  We are really only a group in spirit, coordinating more for travel purposes, training, camaraderie and lodging/camping.  Each group generally starts at different times based on pace, route preferences, etc…  Some hike the majority of it, taking 17+ hours, others alternate between hiking and running and complete the double crossing in 13-17 hours. Then, a handful of us push it a bit faster than that.  

Traditionally, we have gone on the 3rd Saturday of April, but went a little earlier this year to lessen the chances of heat in the canyon, though it increases the chance of snow on the N. rim and possible inclement weather.

I got in some really good training this year, some nice solid runs just under 3 hours and one that was 3:20+, but I focused more on quality, opting for different routes that still had good vertical, but were much more runnable.  Not a ton of volume, but I made my limited time count, which is essential when trying to balance work and family life.  

I did everything I could in the weeks prior to avoid getting sick, avoiding taking my daughters to locations crowded with potentially sick kids, not sharing food or drinks, washing my hands religiously at work, but lo and behold, on March 28th I got sick.  I thought I would kick it in time, maybe even being a benefit as it would keep my taper in check and provide me the benefit of being well rested on the big day (has happened before) but the cold hung on and on, through today even (April 8th).  It varied enough in severity throughout the week, that I was never really sure of my plan.

My sickness was never that bad, a sore throat/fever a week out, sometimes low energy, but then I seemed to improve, then reverted to more sore throat and lost my voice entirely on Weds..  This also compromised my sleep quite a bit, but on the long drive Thursday, I was fortunately able to nap for hours in the back of Homie’s van.

We got to the park around 5pm and Homie wanted to climb Coronado Butte which is accessed from the New Hance trail off the rim road.  Though I sounded lousy, I actually felt good and planned to go with him as far as I could, until it got more technical than I was comfortable with.  This ended being longer than expected at 2.5 hours, 2,500 vert. and around 5 miles, where we still came up a bit short of the summit due to the limited daylight and not extensive enough research. Even without making the summit though, it was a really fun little outing.

Kevin and Homie about to duck onto the New Hance trail

I had no way to carry my helmet, so I just wore it.

Coronado Butte


Fun talus/slab hopping

A great place to catch a sunset

Friday, I was feeling OK, but not great and the cold temps on the rim were not helping with my enthusiasm all that much. Kevin and I started with Homie at the Hermit Trailhead, where we got in an easy ~4 miler with ~1,500 vert..  It was fun to be out and see new territory, but my energy level was only so/so.  All day I waffled as to whether I would make a RRR attempt the next day, or just do something easier.

After dinner at the lodge with the group, I went to bed at 8:30, decided to not even set my alarm and just take the next day as it comes .  I slept a solid 7 hours and when I awoke Saturday morning, I assessed my condition and knew I had to try at least, see how it went to the river and if things were bad, I would just make an easy day of a Rim to River and back.

Started down South Kaibab at 6:12am and as usual was full of excitement to be in the Grand Canyon, something I had looked forward to for so long.  Within minutes I caught a mule train and was barely able to croak out a “good morning, do you mind if I ease past when you find a safe spot?”.  I used this time to pack away my beanie, windbreaker and gloves and was soon past them, nothing but wide open trail ahead.
I took it pretty easy on the descent, making sure to not push it too fast and ruin the day prematurely, but the slower pace was more to assess my health one way or the other.  All systems seemed good, so I committed to going to the North Rim.  Once on flatter ground and working harder though, it was obvious that my breathing was not quite right.  I could move along and breathe just fine, I just knew that I could not really dig in like I knew I needed to do to get back on or ahead of pace.
At that point, I knew deep down that running a fast time was a long shot and that turning around would probably be the most prudent action, but I was really enjoying myself and it was a perfect morning, so I kept heading up N. Kaibab.
I quickly filled up at the pumphouse and kept at it up to the N. Rim and felt surprisingly good, despite not really being able to breathe deep.  As always, the last section beyond Supai seems to take forever, but this is where I saw the most people, many from our group who started earlier and several other RRRers.  There were a few scattered handfuls of runners/hikers out there, but overall, it was a pretty quiet day on the trails, even near the upper sections near the S. Rim.
It took me 4:03 to get to the N. Rim, 8 minutes slower than 2010, but I felt good and did not need a break, so I just tagged the kiosk and headed down. Without any break, I was now only 3 minutes off PR pace.  As soon as I started down, it began to snow and picked up somewhat heavily at times until I was just beyond the bridge.  I was a little chilled, but never enough to consider adding layers, as I knew it would end soon.

(next 8 photos courtesy of Dave "Hoot" Gibson"

Some lingering patches of snow near the N. Rim from a squall earlier in the week, but there was no lingering seasonal snow.

I had hoped to make up a bit of time on the down, but was only able to maintain my 3 minute (maybe even lost a minute) deficit back down to the pumphouse, where I again quickly filled up my bottles and felt the need to sit on the bench for about a minute to drink.  That spot always tempts me to linger, but I forced myself out of there and toward Cottonwood.  This is where I started to falter a bit and kept coming up with reasons to briefly slow to a walk, needing to slow my breathing for drinks or a gel, not that I was breathing hard, but that anytime I ingested anything (even water), it would seem to congeal at the back of my throat and cause coughing fits.  Though annoying, it was not a game changer, but I was just starting to run out of steam by this point.
At Phantom, I lingered again for 4 or 5 minutes and knew I had lost a bunch of time.  I had long since stopped really caring about the watch, but I still had some consolation goals in mind, nothing to actually try for, but mostly goals to accept.
Still hoping for a miracle, I stepped off the black bridge on the S. side of the Colorado at 6:47 elapsed, still figuring I would have sub 9 in the bag, but it only  took me a switchback or two to realize that my only real goal was to make it out of the canyon without help.  The wheels fell off entirely and it became what seemed to be an eternal slog to the top.  Landmarks that I normally look to pass and check off with eager anticipation looked like nearly unattainable points in the sky.  Tonto Plateau, Skeleton Point, O’neil Butte, Cedar Ridge, S. Rim.  Instead, I had to focus on more immediate and attainable goals, like one step at a time sort of goals.  Even though I was hardly moving, it felt as though I was really working hard. Just for kicks, I took a few manual heart rate readings, expecting 160s at least, but was surprised that my HR was only around 100.  Quite low considering my perceived effort.

After what seemed like forever, I finally made it to the rim after 9 hours and 14 minutes but held back on the celebrations, as I still needed to get back to camp.  I filled up my water bottles and tried to get back on my bike to ride the ~2 miles back, but was too trashed to do it, probably more trashed than I had ever been despite being so off the mark.  I debated taking the bus, but even that is more painful, so I just waited it out until I could muster the energy.  Once on the bike, I was surprised that I felt fine and all I could think about was puffed Cheetos and pepperoni pizza as I sprinted back to the tent.
Despite being sick and not meeting my goals, I still had a fun time in the canyon (well, except for that final climb which was pure misery) and am satisfied that I was even able to pull it off.  Every year, I say never again, until I recover and a little time passes, then I start conjuring up plans for next year.  This time however, I truly feel as though I am content with 5 RRR runs under the belt.  Having had a small glimpse of some of the other lesser travelled trails like Hermit and New Hance, I would be more inclined to go explore new terrain and scenery on my next trip, or even be open to more RRRs with a much more casual approach.

Start S. Kaibab:  0:00
Black Bridge:  1:00:00
Cottonwood:  ?
Pumphouse:  2:3?
N. Rim: 4:03
Pumphouse: 5:02
Cottonwood: ??
Phantom:  6:33?
Black Bridge: 6:47
S. Kaibab TH:  9:14

Shoes - Hoka Bondi 2
Socks - Injinji
Zensah calf sleeves
PI Ultra Shorts
TNF short sleeve
PI arm warmers
PI cap
UD SJ pack (carried gloves, beanie and minimal windbreaker, but only used for the first few minutes, but decided to carry since snow was in the forecast).
Food:  6 V-Fuel gels and 2 packages of Clif Shot Bloks = 1000 calories total, 4 S caps.
Breakfast:  single serving of Perpetuem, yogurt/granola/banana, instant coffee/hot chocolate

Random thoughts

The Hoka Bondi 2/Injinji combo was awesome, my feet were comfortable all day and the more minimal traction of the Bondi 2 (a road shoe) was not an issue at all, as the South/North Kaibab trails are quite buffed out super highways and not particularly steep.  Also, did not get a single blister, chafe or hot spot.  Once again after wearing Hokas, my quads were a little sore the following day, but could have easily run to the river and back as I did last year, if I had time (and was not sick).  When I ran RRR in shoes other than Hoka, my legs were utterly destroyed for a good 4 days.
I probably should have eaten a bit more food.  Even though I enjoyed the V Fuel gels, I got kind of sugared out after 6 of those plus the shot bloks.  Being sick kind of complicated that a bit too.
It was a very cool day, no more than 70 in the canyon, snowing on the N. Rim and then 50's at the finish. This made it easy to stay hydrated and keep breaks to a minimum.

As bad as it was to not be feeling well for my run, it was equally or more difficult to not be able to talk the entire time and be able to catch up with so many friends and acquaintances.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thursday, 03/13/14 Green Mountain

22.6 miles
3,210 vert.
3 hours 22 minutes
8:57 pace
151 AHR

The planets aligned today to take our van in for long overdue maintenance, so I dropped it off at the garage a little after 8am near 55th/Arapahoe and used the opportunity to get in a long run as preparation for my upcoming double crossing of the Grand Canyon on April 4th/5th.

Headed North on 55th to the creek path and followed the creek path all the way up until it ended, then on to Red Lion and up Chapman Drive (~8 miles just to get here).  I have not really traveled along Boulder Creek since during the floods and was impressed to see the changes now that the water has receded.  There is still quite a bit of debris and the creek bed is quite altered in spots.  There were multiple tractors and work crews working in and along the river.  There is still quite a bit of clean up work to be had, which I assume they are working hard to complete before the anticipated heavy Spring runoff.

Chapman has been closed since the floods and I have seen parts of it, but this was my first time running it's entire length and I was surprised (well, not really too surprised after all the inconsistent and illogical decisions OSMP has made since the Sept. floods) and certainly annoyed to find that the lower closed section of trail (dirt road) is minimally impacted with only a few short sections of moderate erosion and one very deep (but small) hole that could easily be fenced off for the time being.

Once on the open upper section of Chapman trail/dirt road, I was amazed at how severely eroded it was for about a half mile or more, certainly one of the more significantly impacted segments of trails I have seen since the flooding, yet this is open.  I need to find out why this is, I just don't get the logic here.

From the top of Chapman, I headed up Superflag, then up Green via W. Ridge, which was a bit slow as there is still a good bit of ice and my Bondis don't have the best traction.  There was actually a surprising amount of ice on the upper section of the Canyon bike path and on sections of Chapman as well, which slowed things a bit on the up and down.

The descent was a cruise and it felt good to keep my cadence up.  I planned on running as far as I could go until I intercepted with Allison who I was keeping in touch with on the phone and we ended up meeting at the library (Allison also ran Green via Gregory/Ranger, but I missed her on the summit by just a few minutes).

This was a good training run for RRR, as the mellow gradient of the creek path is very similar to the almost imperceptible grade from Phanton Ranch through the box canyon and on to Cottonwood, followed by a steeper climb.  The September floods even deposited a good bit of sand that helped replicate conditions, so I aimed for it and kept off the cement as much as I could.

All in all a good outing despite involving some city running.  I was never really killing it, but it was a solid effort where I felt great the whole time (well, after 2 or 3 miles to warm up) and certainly could have gone much further, as I felt quite fresh at the end and after.  I think the variety and turnover will help my run at the ditch, but more importantly, I have been enjoying these runs where I have been getting off my usual routes that involve more slogging than running this time of year and seeing some different scenery.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday, 02/24/14 La Sportiva Bushido, The Ultimate Mountain Running Shoe?

After running in the Bushido for a few weeks in a wide variety of conditions, I can honestly say they are the most competent and versatile mountain running shoes that I have worn.  This shoe strikes what I feel to be the perfect balance of grip/traction, stability, agility, responsiveness, ground feel, protection, fit and cushion, all in a light (for all the it offers) package.

I am quite impressed with how well this shoe hooks up in just about all conditions, snow, mud, slush, wet rock, dry rock, steep gravel and even moderately icy trails.  It even scrambles quite well and can double as an approach shoe.  Certainly the best I have used for a wide variety of conditions, it handles it all very well.  I never really worry if it is going to stick or not.

The "STB Control" TPU frame that wraps underfoot offers amazing stability and control (don't ask me what that really means, all I can tell you is that whatever it is, it really works).  This shoe is amazingly stable and precise when pushing one's limits in the most technical and rocky terrain.

The rock plate is bomber.  I have aimed for the sharpest embedded rocks and hardly feel a thing.  Though this is not the most cushioned shoe out there, my feet never get tired or feel as though I need more cushion.

Fit has been an occasional issue for me when it comes to La Sportiva and even though these shoes are pretty low volume, the upper hugs the foot in a soft, yet very supportive manner.  Lateral stability is unmatched and there is no compromise in comfort.

The toe bumper is just right, not too obtrusive, but just enough to adequately deflect all but the most severe and sloppy toe hits.

And they are light.  In the past, it seems the only way to get this sort of protection was with a 10+ oz. shoe, but Sportiva pared it down to 9.1 oz. and with all the high end performance features, the Bushido may well be the best mountain running shoe yet.

If you happen to be in the market for a new pair of shoes, they are worth a try:

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday, 02/10/14 Sourdough Snowshoe Photos

A few photos taken by Amelia Tanttila, who was photo/video documenting the Sourdough Snowshoe Race last month.

Seconds into the race

Kendrick (in green) going out too fast ;)

Geoff Roes back to racing

Yet another Tony impersonator.  I almost said something, but I know the response "yeah, I have heard of Anton, but I have had this look since before I knew who he was and it is just coincidence that I wear all the same clothes (or lack thereof), shoes and drive a white pickup with a cap"

I look horrible here in my unflattering shirt, 1991 tights and deformed fun house fat mirror face.

Charlie Nowacki (11.5 miler winner)

Me chasing (I think)

Love this shot of Joe Grant and I.  Was glad to have the hooded shirt, as the Atlas Race snowshoes really flick a good rooster tail.


Charlie winning.

My good buddy (and RD) Kevin Lund

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Saturday, 01/25/14 Sourdough Snowshoe Race

Sourdough Snowshoe Race
11.6 miles
~1,500 vert.
2nd Place

My good friend Kevin Lund is the race director of the Sourdough Snowshoe Race and I pretty much have no choice but to participate.  Sometime in the Fall, both my wife and I are automatically signed up by default and I largely forget about it, aside from the occasional reminder from my wife, Kevin, or friends who are considering racing and up until about a week prior, did not even know what date it was being held, just knowing it was some Saturday in January.

So, for the 3rd time since first participating in 2010 (I think Allison has done all 5, or at least 4), we headed up to the Nederland Community Center Saturday morning for check in.  The only hitch, was that we were both a bit under the weather, catching colds from our 3 year old twin daughters who each took turns being sick over the week.  Allison was in bad enough shape that she pretty much knew she was not going to race as soon as she got out of bed, but wanted to head up and volunteer, spectate and get a little fresh air.  I was feeling a bit run down on Friday and awoke Saturday morning with a runny nose and was hacking up orange phlegm, but fortunately my energy and enthusiasm for the race was high.

I hung out a bit with Kendrick before the race, who was there to have a crack at his first snowshoe race and I chatted briefly with Joe, Geoff, Charlie and a handful of familiar acquaintances.  I spent a few short minutes warming up on the course (was really just looking for a place to pee and had to make sure the new snowshoes that I have never used before worked) and was a bit fearful of the pain that was to come, having not really run hard or “trained” since Pikes last August.  The starting altitude is around 9,200 feet and I was severely under acclimatized, having only been above 8,500 feet only two or three times since last August.  Just easily jogging in the snowshoes had my heart pounding out of my chest.  How will I run 11.5 miles?

The race started a bit after 9am and I was happy to let 2 time winner Charlie Nowacki take the lead.  I figured he would slowly pull away and I would get swamped by a few of the faster guys just behind, but we all seemed to settle into a "comfortable" and sustainable rhythm.  After about a half mile, I creeped up on Charlie as the grade steepened a bit and slowly eased past.  I (correctly) suspected that I would not get too far ahead or that I would lead the race for too long, but kept at it regardless, just sticking to my game plan of running my own pace and not worry about what others around me were doing.  But still, I was itching to look back and see what was happening, yet just settled for out of the corner of my eye glances on the switchbacks, where I could see Charlie looking strong, then Joe (his report) close behind and another guy, who might have been Ryan Herzog (knowing Joe was in the 18 mile race, but was not sure of the other).

The miles ticked by and trail conditions were very good.  I felt strong, feeling like I was moving quickly and efficiently.  A bit after 4 miles, I figured I should probably take a gel so that I could wash it down at the turn around/aid station, as I opted not to carry water.  I debated this, as I knew it would slow me, but I figured I should do it just to be on the safe side, as it could pay dividends later in the race.  Of course, choking down a gel at near max effort is no easy task for me and it took way too long and slowed me a bit.  Around the time I finished this gel and very close to the turn around, Charlie came powering by in a convincing fashion and I figured he would be long gone.  I was however able to rally a bit and keep him close, as I yo-yoed 10-20 seconds behind, all the way to the turnaround/aid station at mile 5.8, where he was just leaving as I arrived.  I took a quick swig of water and took off in pursuit with my game face on.

Shortly down the trail, I passed Joe where we exchanged encouragement and a failed (on my part) low five.  Then it was Ryan (I think) and not long after saw Geoff (Geoff's report), who was all smiles and seemed to be really enjoying his first race back in ~2 years.  I maintained my 10-20 second lag, but was struggling a bit on the now churned up trail and even walked briefly a few times on the steeper uphills.  The trail was not that bad, but any loose snow seemed amplified as I became more tired and my footwork was becoming sloppy.

I stayed pretty much within sight to mile 9.2,  I never gave up, but at that point I pretty much knew that unless he really blew it, I was racing to maintain 2nd place.  At 9.6 miles I caught one last glimpse, which gave me a touch of hope that I could rally on the final descent, where last year I maintained 6:?? and even saw high 5:?? Pace on my Garmin, but once I got to this long gradual descent, I got an abdominal cramp and could not muster a pace any better than ~7:20.  I pretty much had no choice but to jog it in and knew it was over at that point.  As always, the final mile seemed to take forever, expecting the next bend to be the end of the trail.  When I finally arrived at the finish, Charlie was already holding his award, so I knew I had lost a good chunk of time and suspected that even if I had not had a cramp, I most likely would not have caught him.

Charlie finished in 2 hours even to my 2:02, each of us finishing 9 minutes slower than our times last year.  Heart rate data suggests that I put in a near even effort, so I think snow conditions were just a bit slower this year.  We lingered for over an hour post race, trading war stories, eating and helping Kevin hand out raffle prizes for finishers (I got a nice pair of collapsible Atlas poles).

This race is a blast, as it is small, low key, well organized, has great prizes, is close to home, the course is fun and the people and competition are great.  Although I was 2nd yet again, I had a great time and it felt good to be competing.  Charlie was 7th at snowshoe Nationals last year and plans to go better this year, so finishing as close as I did felt like an accomplishment.  Having now run/raced on snowshoes 3 times, I really wish I could do this more often.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Friday, 12/27/13 Mt. Evans

Mt. Evans, 14,264 ft.
Scott Gomer Gully/West Ridge from Guanella Pass
12.36 miles
3,934 vertical
8:32 (start 7:41am, finish 4:13pm)

Homie and I started from the Guanella Pass winter road closure at the Silver Dollar Lake Trailhead at 7:41am (which adds 3.5 miles for the round trip).  The temperature was 8 degrees and because of that, I opted to wear my warm winter boots instead of my Gore-Tex trail running shoes.  The problem with this however, is that my boots do not fit into my running snowshoes that I brought along on this day.  Having had remarkably good luck along Scott Gomer creek on prior trips to Gray Wolf and Bierstadt, I naively thought I might be OK without.  Little did I know how wrong I would be.

We made easy progress up the packed road to the pass and the temperature seemed quite comfortable for being in the single digits.  It helps when there is no wind, which is a rarity here.  Snow levels seemed generally minimal and once onto the trail for Bierstadt I was happy to find that the snow was packed reasonably well.  After crossing the creek, we followed the drainage toward Scott Gomer Gully and within a 100 feet or so, I knew I had made a bad mistake.  I kept pressing on while Homie geared up with his 30” snowshoes and he soon caught up to me and moved ahead breaking trail.  Sometimes I could stay on top, but without poles and the added weight of a winter pack, I was often sinking in knee deep and sometimes up to mid-thigh or worse.  I contemplated turning around and just hiking Bierstadt, but I knew Homie wanted Evans for a grid slot and I did not want to disappoint because of my poor planning.

Just moving though the sugary, unconsolidated snow had me close to being at my limit and the frequent extractions nearly did me in.  The effort was really making me sweat, despite not being overdressed and still being in the shade.  It was a real grovel fest, but we were making progress, albeit slowly.  We finally got to a point where we could start an ascending traverse of the south facing slopes on the north side of the drainage toward the gully, but the willows and snow were not much better.  Soon, we cleared the willows, but we were hardly any better off crossing talus fields with an unconsolidated layer of snow hiding many deep holes.  Once in the gully, the gradient increased, but the snow decreased, footing improved and I was feeling a bit better.  Above treeline, progress was easy, as the existing snow was fun to stroll across with Microspikes, or could be avoided entirely. 

As we gained the long west ridge of Evans, I was starting to feel the fatigue of my willow wallow and not having been above treeline since Labor Day weekend.  Though the ridge is easy, my wobbly legs were not up to the task of the rock hopping required to move as efficiently as I normally would and I took my time through here, carefully picked my way through the rocks and snowfields.  The weather though was what saved the day for me.  We were comfortable in light layers and did not even need gloves, it was so warm, clear and calm.  It is rare to get days this nice in the summer, never mind December.  I commented how it felt like cheating, but Homie reminded me of all the days out there where we have suffered greatly, so this helps to balance things out.  We topped out around 12:50pm, much later than I had predicted, but was happy to get there regardless.  This was my 2nd  winter ascent of Evans (1st was by bike in January 2009) and my 31st overall ascent of Evans.  This also filled a grid slot for Homie and I.

We spent about 10 minutes on the summit, although I would  have liked to linger if it were not for the late-ish hour (bringing lights never even occurred to me) and I knew I was going to be late for a long planned and rare date night with my wife.  I again took it easy along the ridge, not feeling all that coordinated and Homie was gracious enough to wait on me.  The descent beyond was easy, the gully required care, but was not bad.  I was not at all excited about the return trip through the willows, but hoped that our morning trail breaking efforts, plus the addition of one other climber with snowshoes who made an attempt would lessen the effort, but it was not to be.  The warm day softened the snow enough that the trip out was even more difficult, especially with the cumulative fatigue setting in.  I had no choice but to just power through and was thankful for good fitness and endurance.  Being any less fit could have proved to be a predicament.

I was quite relieved once we intersected the well packed Bierstadt trail and I upped the pace, occasionally jogging to catch back up with Homie, finally making contact a few minutes from the pass.  We made it to the pass a little after 3:30pm, made some gear adjustments and then enjoyed the easy walking back down the road to the car, finishing at 4:13pm for a 8:32 round trip.  I had originally figured 5 hours, maybe 6 if we took our time, but having it take so long was a real surprise and all day, our progress always seemed to be out of sync with the watch.  Had I brought snowshoes, or there had been less snow in the willows, we certainly would have shaved some large chunks of time.

Though this ended up maybe being my hardest earned winter 14er, or any 14er for that matter, I had a great time and was quite satisfied with the accomplishment.  As always, spending the day in the mountains with Homie is a blast and he is a great (patient) partner to have along.

Starting to finally gain some elevation

Homie changing his socks after dipping his foot in the creek.  It was so nice and warm here and the summit still seemed so far away, it was tempting to just call it a day here.

Homie on the summit.

Looking back along the always longer than remembered West Ridge.

Days just do not get much better than this at 14k, any time of year.


Putting Microspikes back on for the gully descent

Looking toward Square Top, Argentine, Edwards, Grays, Torreys

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thursday, 12/05/13 Green Mountain/Flagstaff

Green #159 on the year (#830 since Dec. 2004)
From Chat, up 1st/NE/Greenman, down Ranger/Flag.
6.36 miles/2,673 vert./2:02

Planned on getting in two laps, but soon into the run I knew that was wishful thinking.  With below zero temps, I was bundled up, feeling more like hiking than running as to not overheat, but I also did not feel too light and sporty with two layers of pants, wool shirt, hoodie shirt, thick Marmot softshell jacket, heavy shoes with Microspikes, balaclava, Nathan pack with backup warm stuff, etc....   Had some contact issues this morning on the way out the door, so scrapped that and was forced to stick with the prescription glasses, which as expected, was a disaster on a cold snowy day and was constantly messing with fogging issues.  I can see OK without correction, but I did not want to stuff the glasses away in a pocket and risk damaging them and I was absolutely incapacitated if I was in the open sun without them, so I was determined to make things right.

I was dressed perfectly and was quite comfortable, but even though I had waterproof eVent shoes (Saucony Razor 2.0) and thick wool socks, built in gaiters/additional gaiters, my feet got quite cold as I broke trail in the deepening, unconsolidated snow.

Made the summit in a very lackluster 1:04 (and noted how that is 4 minutes off my RT PR from Chautauqua for the ascent ONLY), uggh.  I spent a few minutes on top, taking in the better than average scenery and wished I had brought my camera.  Though my toes were cold, I was hoping to rally for a second lap, but soon into the descent of Ranger, my toes went from cold to painfully cold, to numb, to seemingly detached wooden blocks.  This got me a bit worried and I was kicking myself for not wearing my larger shoes in order to accommodate my warmest sock setup.  Thoughts of a second lap quickly vanished and all I could think of was getting down and warming my toes.  I even contemplated hitching a ride down Flag.

Once I got to the ranger cabin, my toes were feeling as though they were being tortured with scalding needles, so I knew they were coming back.  I contemplated that second lap, but I was running far behind on time at this point and I was content to just add on Flagstaff.

Despite the cold temps and colder toes, this was certainly one of the more beautiful runs in a while with all the fresh snow.  I was quite content to go slow and enjoy the beauty.

A few random thoughts:

I have gotten a kick out of the back/forth on the mountain between OSMP and the monkey wrenchers.  It started with police tape/plastic fencing/plastic signs, which within a few weeks of the flood, would quickly disappear, regardless of whether or not the trail was open or not.  It just became a free for all on the trails and was business as usual, families, retirees, dogs, out of towners.  I went weeks, maybe more than a month without ever seeing a sign or closure on Green (or just about anywhere else for that matter), until OSMP decided to up their game with thick cables and metal signs discouraging access to Saddle Rock and Gregory.  Within a day or two, those too disappeared.  Another week or so went by, then I noticed very thick padlocked chains pop up with metal closure signs in the middle.  I figured that was that, party over, as far as running those trails with total impunity.  But, now those are even gone.

I know I should be happy that only 8% of the trails are still closed, but to me, it is nearly 100% of what I normally run.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Saturday, 10/26/13 Monster Dash

There was a little Halloween race in downtown Louisville, so we decided to go check it out and enter the Spooky Sprint, the shortest of the race options (10k, 5k, 1/2 mile, 1/4 mile and 1/8 mile).  Amelie and Isabelle wanted to go dressed as Snow White and Cinderella, but miraculously, I was able to talk them into Tinkerbell and Fairy costumes, on the grounds that these costumes were faster.

We biked the 1.5 miles into town, got registered and then were told that the Spooky Sprint started on main street and headed back to the start/finish banner.  This was surprising to me, so I checked with the announcer at the start finish (which he confirmed) so with plenty of time to spare, we walked up toward Main Street to watch the 1/2 mile and 1/4 mile races go by.  After the completion of those races, we heard the announcer assembling the Spooky Sprint racers and I was struck at how few of us there were and was surprised that none of the nearby marshals were lining us up despite the fact that the countdown was on.

The start horn blows and we immediately realized that the race indeed started at the start line and we were starting from the turnaround cones.  Oops.  We, along with several others who had asked me where the race started, ran toward the oncoming rush of racers in our race, made it to the start line, where we saw some friends we knew and finally got our race officially started.

I don't think the girls ever really knew the difference as to what was going on vs. what was supposed to happen, but I was a little annoyed by the screw up by two different race officials.  I have raced enough to know that races usually start at the start line and finish at the finish line, so I was skeptical right away, but figured since this was a short kid's race, things might be different.

Either way, the girls were much more determined in this race than the Taste of Louisville race back in June (where they were tied for last), and they held their own here, mid pack roughly.  This race ended up being way too short and I should have signed them up for at least the 1/4 mile if not the 1/2 mile.  Next time, we will sign up for a longer race and be more sure of the start location.

Either way, we all had a great time.

Race Video: ( Password:  Sierra )
MVI 4380 from Jeff Valliere on Vimeo.

Heading to where we think is the start line.

Pre race jitters and fueling

Spectating the 1/2 mile race

The race is finally underway

Well placed at the turn around as I encourage them to rally for a negative split

Pushing hard

In the finish chute