Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday, 11/30/08 2 Laps on Sanitas

5 miles
2,200 vertical

Headed up S. Ridge at a moderate pace. Legs were not all there, so I resigned myself to not pushing too hard and ended up going 19:07, about 20-30 seconds slower than I anticipated. Cruised down the East side to meet up with Allison and Sierra, then went back up and over with them.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday, 11/29/08 Bear Peak/S. Boulder Peak

7 miles
3,500 vertical

To spice things up today, we (Allison, Sierra and I) decided to go up Bear from Cragmoor. At the last minute, I decided that I had to run and was actually excited by the freshly fallen snow. The trail was mostly dry to the Slab and I made good time, very close to PR and was feeling great. As I went higher though, the snow deepened somewhat, but was not too slick and the footprints from people ahead helped a bit. I got to the saddle in good time and kept up a reasonably hard tempo effort up over Bear and then went cautiously quick over to S. Boulder hoping to get there and back to Bear by the time Allison and Sierra got there. The fresh snow on the boulders made things slick and a bit slower than normal, as I was breaking trail the whole way out to SBP. I made it back to Bear soon after Allison arrived (she went up in just under an hour) and we all walked down together. Great day out!


Mesa Trail: 10:09
Slab: 14:30ish
Nebel Saddle: 27
Bear Summit: 41:52
Bear/SBP Saddle: 46:30
SBP: 52:52
Bear the second time: 1:04
Finish: ~2 hours

Friday, 11/28/08 Falcon Trail, USAFA

~7 miles
~600 vertical

Hiked with Allison, Dave, Emily, Sierra, Shep, Sophie and Kiefer on the Falcon trail at the academy. Was a funtastic walk with huge amounts of Border Collie energy, chasing and overall enthusiasm. Was great to get out with them again. Hopefully Dave heals that foot soon!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving, 11/27/08 S. Boulder and Bear Peak

9 miles
3,300 vertical

See yesterday, only a bit slower and with Kevin, Allison and Sierra. Had a great walk, super casual, about 1:30 up S. Boulder, a few long stops at the summits. It was pretty cold above 8,000 feet, maybe high teens, low 20's? It was also a bit damp, so it seemed even colder. 3 hours RT, great way to earn that turkey meal.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday, 11/26/08 South Boulder Peak/Bear Peak

9 miles
3,300 vertical

Sierra and I got out for an easy run today. As per usual, she was being her slow and pokey self, had a false start where I had to run back to the parking lot to get her motivated. I only got her motivated enough to get up S. Boulder at a 1:06 ascent pace. Went over to Bear in 10 minutes, then made it back to the car for 2 hours RT. Either way it was a nice day out. Hoping to get up these peaks again tomorrow from the Cragmoor TH in order to earn a large Thanksgiving meal.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday, 11/25/08 Green Mountain

5 miles
2,400 vertical

Had a great run up Green today and was pleasantly surprised that I am completely recovered from Saturday's vertical fest. Went up the Saddle Rock Trail (instead of the usual Amphitheater start) which is a bit longer and adds an automatic ~2 minutes to the outing. I was feeling pretty good though and pushed at a high moderate pace, bordering on low end hard pace, just zoning out listening to my Competitors podcasts. Made the summit in 36:57 despite the longer route and was happy and surprised with that. I was quite overdressed, as I was cold all day, but 5 minutes into it, I was boiling yet did not shed anything and just got drenched.

36:57 up
58:24 RT

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday, 11/23/08 Bear Peak

6 miles
2,800 vertical

Got up Bear today with Nate and was good to catch up as it has been a while since I have seen him. We kept it pretty casual, more of an opportunity to get the dog out and work the kinks out of my legs from yesterday. I was a little tired on the up, but fortunately not really sore, I just did not have much spring in my step. I my quads were a touch sore on the down, but very manageable and I was able to run a bit.
1:03 up
44 down

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday, 11/22/08 Boulder Skyline Traverse (Less The Traverse)

South Boulder Peak, Bear Peak, Green Mountain, Flagstaff Mountain, Mt. Sanitas
Jeff Valliere, George Zack and Bob Sweeney
26 miles/10,700 vertical
5 hours, 12 minutes running time

George and I had tentatively planned to go run the double crossing of the Grand Canyon this weekend, but at the last minute I had cold feet and we scrapped those plans. As an alternative form of punishment, we decided to run our favorite peaks in Boulder, but instead of link them up, we decided to run each of them individually from bottom to top. We considered stashing water and doing this as a car shuttle, but decided that driving to each trailhead would be “easier” and make a bit more sense from a logistical standpoint (food, drinks, option to bail at any point).

We met at the S. Mesa TH, where George introduced me to Bob, who he had met 5 minutes prior (he heard about our run through the Blogosphere) and we were soon on our way up South Boulder Peak (we decided to go South to North so our climbs would get progressively smaller as we went).

I was feeling like garbage right from the start and even debated cancelling the previous night. I have a laundry list of excuses, but bottom line I was feeling a bit off and behind the 8 ball. I soon learn that Bob is not just any runner, but is on the 100k national team and has won the 100 mile national championships in 13 hrs and 5 minutes, amongst many other big league running performances. Very impressive, but this is very bad news for me, as now I have no chance of slowing George down.

For the entire ascent, I yo-yo off the back, gaining a bit of ground when it is really steep, and losing ground when it levels a bit. My lower back is killing and it hurts like crazy to run upright, yet it exacerbates the issue when I stoop forward. Ughhh. I surge a bit on the final push to the summit from the saddle and catch up. This is by no means a race, but I did want to keep up and put in reasonable times, as this was my idea after all.

George and I take the descent pretty casual and it is soon apparent that Bob is less practiced than us on the steep and technical descent. We wait for him once things ease up and we all jog out together back to the TH. 55:05 for the ascent and 1:36:44 for the RT. I have gone much faster in the past, but the effort today seemed like more than on my fastest day.

Next on the plate is Bear, from the Cragmoor TH. George takes off up the trail like he was shot out of a slingshot and Bob follows. Unfortunately, I had just stuffed 3 Cran-Razz Clif Shot Bloks into my mouth and would gag on them for the next 10 minutes to the Mesa Trail. I had them in sight, but there was a bit of racing going on between them, and even though I was playing things relatively conservative, I was very near PR pace crossing the Mesa Trail. I back off significantly, as I know that for me this pace is suicide. As expected, I nearly catch back on as the trail steepens up Fern Canyon.

Bob and I take turns behind George, as he is charging hard up the final 1,000 feet. We eventually top out and I am pleased to have this one behind us and waste no time starting down. My coordination is good and although not really pushing, I make very quick work of the upper sections of the most technical part of the descent. Once on easier terrain, I just casually cruise back to the car to refuel, half expecting the whole time for George and Bob to catch up. George is a few minutes back, and Bob once again had a tough time on the technical descent, then missed the final turn back to the car. Ascent time 45 minutes/RT time 1:11.

Next is Green. The pace is again high and I am again yo-yo’ing and suffering like a dog. The stinging pace setting eventually catches up with George and he lets us pass. Soon Bob lets me pass and even though I maintained the same effort, I was surprised to put a bit of time on them on the final push to the summit. The intensity, miles and vertical were all starting to take their toll on all of us. I trotted the descent, quick but never pushing, as my legs were starting to feel a little wobbly and I knew I was about to switch to damage control mode.
Ascent 39:25/RT from Gregory TH via Amphi, Saddle, Greenman 1:07:05.

Again, George and I waited for Bob, who struggled on the rough descent. Once we regrouped, Bob was smart enough to call it a day, while George and I soldiered on up Flag. Since we had parked far away, we did not bother to go back to the car to refuel (we should have, as we waited for quite some time at the Gregory lot), but anyways, we started up Flag at a quick walk and jogged the easier sections. Even though I was bonking, I got a second wind about half way up and was having an easy time of it. Eager to get back to food/drink quickly, I pushed the downhill a bit and was feeling surprisingly good. This would be the last time of the day that I would even feel reasonably good. Ascent 24:05/38:15 RT

Once at the car, George arrived a few minutes later and announced that he was done (after taking a few crashes). I could not blame him, as he has an important race coming up on Thanksgiving Day in which he hopes to do well. We enjoyed an extended, two person tail gate party, soaking up the warm sun and chowing on turkey sandwich and Extreme Cheddar Pringles. With my shoes off and feeling quite relaxed, it was somewhat tempting to call it a day as well, but Sanitas was calling.

I drove very slowly over to the TH, enjoying an apple and trying to put off the inevitable. Now that I had eaten and drank copious amounts of water and sports drink, I thought I was recharged (how wrong I was). I immediately attacked the steep trail, but after 30 seconds of this, my wobbly legs screamed out in protest and my stomach cramped up. I was hoping to go under 20 minutes, which on any other day is a pretty casual effort for me, but today I was wondering if I could even make it up at all.

I hobbled, bobbed and weaved my way up through the throngs of humans and dogs, once even bumping into a guy as I worked the crowd in my tipsy state. I apologized and fortunately he took it quite casually, as he was much bigger than I and today would have easily caught me. I topped out in 24:49, certainly my slowest ever time while trying hard. At this point, all I could think about was a big Chipotle burrito, so I turned tail and went down for all I was worth, making the RT in 39:02.

Although not the Grand Canyon, this was a great run. As always, it is always a pleasure to get out with George and push one another and it was great to meet Bob. Although not fast on rocky descents, he is a super strong runner and I hope to get out with him again as well.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday, 11/19/08 Grays and Torreys

Grays and Torreys
15 miles
5,060 vertical
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Steve Hoffmeyer and Sierra

I knew we were in for good weather this week and I was itching to get up high. Even though I have been up Grays and Torreys several times this year, I was eager to get up there again, as it is the perfect 14er standby close to home and I never tire of it. I know Stevo has Wednesdays off, so I sent him an invite and coincidentally, that is what he had on tap as well, PERFECT! Planning could not have been easier.

We met at the Safeway in Idaho Springs as has become the norm when meeting Steve and soon we were at the Bakerville exit. We had both heard that the road to the summer TH was still accessible and we were excited that we would not have to walk from I-70. Unfortunately, I failed to relay to Steve that I had heard that there was a very icy section after the first switchback and as such did not bring chains. We gave it an honest try, but with summer tires on his Jeep, it was never going to happen. It was steep enough and slick enough, that we were sliding backwards and any attempt to move forward only got us into more trouble. I jumped out and pushed and we were able to avoid any real mishap. Enough of that sillyness, so we went back down to the parking lot and called it good.

With chains or studded snow tires (along with AWD/4WD and clearance of course), this section could be negotiated as several vehicles proved. Once past this short stretch, the road has very little snow/ice beyond and made for easy walking. We made the summer TH in 1:10, going at a conversational pace and took a short break to add a layer and eat a bit.

Beyond that, the trail was in great shape with very little snow, and what snow existed on the trail, it was very well packed. Snowshoes were certainly not necessary, but if I were to go back any time soon, I would elect for some sort of traction on the shoes (crampons, microspikes or studded shoes), as the upper stretches of trail closer to the saddle were absolute bulletproof ice/snow and progress here was frustrating without traction.

Because of time constraints, Allison and Steve elected to head up Grays, while I wanted to add Torreys, so Sierra and I went ahead, summiting Torreys first, then met them on Grays afterwards. I was sucking wind a bit from not having been up high in so long, a heavy pack and I was also doing a bunch of slip sliding which was quite taxing. The fast mountain runs of summer wearing shorts and running shoes seemed like a world away.

We all arrived on Grays within 10 minutes of one another and lingered for a while, the weather was as perfect as any day, any time of year, hard to believe it is a week from Thanksgiving and we are basking in the warm sun at 14,270 feet! This was one of those days that if I were home, I would stare at the mountains and wish I were there knowing it is such a perfect day. I was so elated to actually take advantage of one of those days, absolutely outstanding. The walk back was a cruise and we were done by 3pm, for a 7:30 day. Great company, perfect weather and great conversation.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tuesday 11/18/08 Sanitas/Flagstaff/Sanitas

~12 miles
4,450 vertical

Got out for a sweet run today, as it was nearly 80 degrees and I was struck with a major itch to get out and enjoy it. Started up the East side of Sanitas from the Hawthorne TH a bit after 3pm and jogged at a moderate to easy pace up the East side of Sanitas and topped out in 18:30. My plan was to go down the S. ridge and then backtrack, but instead I kept on going, over Red Rocks, through the tunnel to Eben G, used the bathroom and then kept on going up Flagstaff. It took 30 minutes to get from the bathroom at Eben G, to the summit of Flag going pretty easy. Jogged down at a casual pace and was really wishing I had water as it was so warm. I stopped at the bathroom again and scooped some nice cold water out of the faucet and splashed my face. Hard to believe we are a week from Thanksgiving and it feels like summer.

I debated taking the roads back to the car, as daylight was waning and I knew if I went back over Sanitas, it would get dark on me. Ah, what the heck, it is too darn nice and even though I am in shorts and a tee, I am completely comfortable still, even a touch warm.

Up Sanitas I go and it is surprisingly crowded, even though it is getting dark. The clouds were orange and pink to the West and the city lights were shimmering to the East. It was so peaceful and quiet, I was totally digging it. My legs felt good, but I was being cautious as it was starting to get quite dark by the summit and I made it up in 21:05 going pretty mellow. The descent down the East side back to the car was a bit interesting, as it was getting to be almost completely dark. I want to run to make use of any hint of remaining light, but running is a bit dicey as sometimes you put a foot out and you never know what you are really going to get, I just had to ride it out. Even though I regard myself as sucking in the dark, I got down in 17 with no trips or major stumbles and was able to jog most of it. It helped that I know the trail so well, it was quite intuitive. Finished at 5:28pm, total run time 2:20.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday, 11/16/08 Micky Mousing

5 miles
1,500 vertical

Allison and I ran up the approach trail toward the Micky Mouse Wall, crossed the track above Tunnel 6, scrambled, goofed around near the tracks watching trains pass through, then ran some of the new trails (Goshawk, not quite done yet). Awesome day, warm and sunny, near 70. We then went and checked out the new Soulpepper running shop.

Saturday, 11/15/08 Meridian Hill and 11,053

Pt. 11,053 and Meridian Hill (11,490)
From Meridian TH
~11.5 miles
~3,250 vertical
Jeff and Allison Valliere, Ken Nolan, Jean Aschenbrenner, Dwight Sunwall, John Prater and Sierra

Got an invite from Ken early Friday morning to go hike Meridain Hill and we were packed within 30 minutes. We were looking for something to do somewhat local and not too much above tree line this weekend, so this fit the bill perfectly. Ken and I have also been unable to coordinate for quite some time, so it was great to finally have the timing and location work out.

We met at the gas station near Crow Hill at 5:45am and then drove to the Meridian TH near Camp Rosalie where we eventually got going on the trail around 6:30am. There was hardly any snow in the area and it was great to still be able to leave the slowshoes behind.Since I had used this trail to climb Rosedale on New Years Day this year, I was somewhat familiar with the area, but it all looked drastically different with only a dusting of snow and we remarked what a great fall hike it would be with all the aspens.

The trail was smooth and easy to follow for quite some time and once near the Rosedale/11,053 saddle, we left the trail and bee lined up the gentle hillside to the even more gentle ridge to the summit of 11,053. After a short break, we then cut through the woods down to Mud Lakes, contoured around them heading E/SE until we were directly below the summit where we then headed straight up the hillside through the trees NE to the summit. From the Western true summit, we pondered going to the Eastern summit which is a little over 1/3 mile away.
Ken, John, Dwight, Sierra and I cruised most of the way over there to take some sight level readings to confirm that the West summit was higher and sure enough it was.

Back at the true summit, we were quite surprised to bump into a guy with a dog. Being on such an obscure peak, we initially thought that there may be a chance that we may “know” one another, at least through the internet community, but when we presented that possibility to him, he immediately said there was no way. OK. He only stated his first name (Steve?) and that he was “local”, “from Littleton”.

We made our way back down to Mud Lakes and then back into the trees contouring around the North side of 11,053 to the 11,053/Rosedale saddle. We took our time walking out, taking several long breaks as the day warmed dramatically, a stark contrast to the chilly, early morning start.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday, 11/13/08 Flagstaff and Green

8 miles
2,800 vertical

Got out with George this morning for a trip over Flag and over to Green. Was warm, but was super windy in spots. After freezing my tail off yesterday, I took no chances and over dressed. I was hot as all get out going over Flag, then felt like I was dressed just right on the upper parts of Green. George was really putting it to me today on the ups. He was trying to chat up a storm, but I could only mutter a one word answer here and there and was barely able to keep up. We did the loop in 1:28 which was not too shabby, no wonder I was sucking wind and having trouble sticking to a walk ;).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday, 11/12/08 Bear Peak

6 miles
2,800 vertical

Walked up Bear today, the weather was great from the car to the saddle, but above that, the wind was whipping from the West across the N. ridge and I was a bit underdressed wearing shorts, long sleeve and windshirt. The summit was nice, warm and sunny if you got out of the wind on the East side.

Up 49 minutes
Down 36 minutes

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday, 11/11/08 Sanitas Speed Walk Part Deux

3 miles
1,300 vertical

After walking Sanitas yesterday, I was curious if I could go faster and still be able to do it on the standard S. Ridge route which is a bit longer and has a little more vertical than the East route I hiked yesterday. For added motivation, I was to meet Sierra and Allison on the trail somewhere, so I was cranking pretty good and walking seemed quite efficient.

On a few of the flatter sections, it was REALLY tough to keep my cool and remain at a walk, but I diligently persisted, taking long fast strides. My time checks were decent and for the entire second half, I was sure I could go under 20. I was happy to get in at 19:29, which was more than 2 minutes faster than the previous day. I bumped into Allison and Sierra near the top and we casually walked down together. I felt especially great today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday, 11/10/08 Speed hiking Sanitas

2.75 miles
1,200 vertical

Sierra and I got out for a short walk up Sanitas today from the East side or the "Hawthorne" TH as we call it. We started off at a casual walk for the first 2 minutes and 37 seconds, until I saw a guy running high up the trail ahead. This of course sparked my competetive urges and I was itching to haul ass. I contemplated running, but I am trying to take some time off from running, yet still maintain decent fitness and have fun (we'll see how that really works). I upped my walking pace and nearly caught him as the canyon ended at the main trail, but unfortunately, he passed on the challenge and went left instead of up and right.

It was hard to draw the line between running and hiking fast, but I was able to keep one foot on the ground at any given time. I got surprisingly sore as I tried to go fast up the hill, my lower back and various leg muscles that were being used in a different way were noticibly taxed and I was kind of surprised by this, as I am not really out of hiking shape. As I went up, I started to think about going under 20 minutes, but I think I blew it with the casual start. I topped out in 21:49 which I was satisfied with (I think next time I can take it under 20 with a bit more resolve and focus).

My next goal was to try and get down as quickly as I went up without running a step. Sounds easy, but I knew it would be close for me. Again, the line between running and walking was tough to maintain, especially on the steeper upper sections where it is instinctive to hop, leap and bound. I made it down (walking every step) in a surprising 17:30, although I looked like one of those goofs walking laps around mall.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday, 11/09/08 Bear Peak/Green Mountain

~13 miles
~4,400 vertical

This morning was awesome, sunny, warm and calm and I was enthusiastic to get out for a few local peaks. I enjoyed yesterday's outing up Bear via Bear Canyon/West Ridge from NCAR so much, I could not resist heading up there again today, just a little faster this time. I went on the easy side of moderate most of the way, pushing myself occasionally to mid moderate exertion every now and then, making the summit in an hour even. From here, I debated going over to S. Boulder or going to Green, or doing them both. Since I did not bring food or water, I opted to compromise and zip over to Green as to not totally deplete myself. I was a bit sloppy on the technical downhill back to the West ridge for some reason and fumbled a few times but never fell, it was just one of those 2 left foot days. Made it to the jct. in 1:18:??, then plugged along up Green to the 4-way and then on to the summit. Topped out on Green in 1:34:5?, turned tail at 1:35 even and then dawdled my way back down Bear Canyon and over the rollers to NCAR, arriving back there after 2:14 of running. Another excellent day in the foothills.

Splits from NCAR:

6:?? Mesa Trail
13:50 Start of Bear Canyon trail
35 W. Ridge Jct.
1:00 Bear Summit
1:18 Back to W. Ridge Jct.
1:34:5? Green
1:44 W. Ridge Jct.
2:14 Back to NCAR

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday, 11/08/08 Bear Peak

9 miles
3,600 vertical

I felt much better today as the wind had calmed down and it was reasonably warmish. My legs felt better as well and my mind was totally into a casual hike with Allison and Sierra. We started at NCAR, headed to the Mesa Trail and then took Bear Canyon to West Ridge and down Fern. We went easy and took a few breaks, just enjoying the day. I think it took about 90 minutes up and less than an hour back.

Friday, 11/07/08 Flagstaff

5 miles
1,400 vertical

Allison dragged me kicking and screaming for a run up Flag via Gregory Canyon, did a loop at the top and back down Gregory. I fell asleep hard on the 12 minute drive to Boulder and was out of sorts the entire run. The howling wind and somewhat tired legs did nothing for my motivation and Allison took advantage by blowing my doors off the entire run as I was seriously dragging a$$.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday, 11/06/08 Brook Loop

6 miles
1,200 vertical
(stats include a short warm-up as the loop is 5 miles and 1,000 vertical according to Bill)

At Bill's BBQ last night, as I was saying goodbye, he suggested that I run the "Brook Loop" which is a loop that starts at the cement bridge at the S. Mesa TH, heads up Towhee to the base of Shadow, then traverses right along what he calls the "Bridge Trail" to the Mesa Trail, then N. on the Mesa to Bluestem, then back down to the lower section of the Mesa Trail and back to the bridge. He was thinking that I could break the record of 37:15 and after a bit of talk, I was convinced that I could and hoped to give it a shot soon.

I headed out there this afternoon, it was a bit cool, but not too bad. As I arrived at the S. Mesa TH shortly before 2pm, it was windy as could be and I was losing motivation. I lingered in the car as the wind howled, stirring up dust devils and eventually and reluctantly stepped out for a short warm-up. I jogged in my jacket with my hands in my pockets as I listened to the powerlines sing songs in the wind. I felt good, but not great and I knew I would be bucking a stiff headwind, so my hopes were not high.

From the bridge, I was cranking right off the bat, as this was a short run and I was putting a bit more into it than usual. I crossed the small creek on Towhee at 3:27, got to the Homestead jct in 10:08, then the next junction in 12:08. I knew I should have been faster than this, but pushing through that cold headwind was doing me no favors. Made the Shadow/Bridge Trail jct. in 18:35, good but not great. I sped through the short ups, leading to the long down pretty well, but as soon as I hit the down, I knew I had my work cut out, as my downhill muscles and coordination are not totally there after Saturdays run. Oh well, I just cruised it, going fast, but definitely not setting the trail on fire. Made the Mesa in 23:51, then the Bluestem in 25:09, back to the Mesa in 31:3? (I think), then the finish in 35:48. I beat the record, but was not at all satisfied, as I was thinking I would be 32 or 33 going good, or 34 at the worst. Oh well, I just really wanted to put down a baseline time for me and have something to improve upon. Great run though either way.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday 11/05/08 Green Mountain

6 miles
2,500 vert.

Got out with George today for an easy run up Green. Started at Chautauqua, then went up Amphi, Saddle, Greenman while talking politics and aspects of running/training the whole time. We ended up walking most of the way up or easy jogging the flat sections. It was a bit chilly at the start, but the sun was shining on the summit and it was actually not too bad. I was glad to have a jacket to put on however and we did not linger for too long. We actually ran the down, but I have no idea how long it took.

46:50 up
??:?? down
??:?? RT

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday, 11/02/08 Green Mountain

5 miles
2,400 vertical

Nobody told Sierra about the time change, so she was up at 6am, hopping around squeaking her toys, tossing them in the air and giving all kinds of hints that she had energy to burn. I was feeling less than peppy, but figured I would take advantage of the extra hour of morning daylight and take her up Green. We went up Amphi, Saddle, Greenman at a very slow pace, it took me almost a full episode of car guys, 52 minutes from Gregory TH. Went down in an even more pathetic 40 as my downhill muscles were pretty tight.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday, 11/01/08 Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon

Basic Boulder Mountain Marathon
Green Mountain/Flagstaff/Bear Peak/S. Boulder Peak
~22 miles
~7,000 vertical feet

Although not really a race, the Basic is a local rite of fall and attracts many of the region’s most notable and prolific trail runners to get together at an undisclosed location and run together on undisclosed trails that typically involve a variation of Green, Bear, S. Boulder Peak and Flagstaff in no particular order. This year we met at Bear Creek Park near Lehigh and Bear Mountain Dr. at 9am. There was of course a great turnout and there were many fast and experienced runners, many I knew and many I did not. No matter what, I knew things would get fast and competitive although in a very friendly, social and fun manner.

We started off at a mellow and conversational pace up the Bear Creek Trail and then to the Mesa Trail as we headed South. Soon, we started up Bear Canyon and the pace picked up just a touch. Justin Mock was leading it out and setting a steady tempo, followed by Dan Meehan, Andrew Skurka, Eric ?? and then myself. I just hung back about 10 feet behind these guys so I had a good view of the trail and made it a point to stay fueled, hydrated and not go too fast, as we had a long way to run. Luckily the pace was relatively mellow and coincided great with my intention to hang back and go somewhat conservative until the steep climb up Bear Peak via Fern Canyon that gains 2,100 feet in just over a mile….. my favorite.

We arrived on top of Green in 52ish, I scampered up to the summit boulder while Justin, Dan and Eric did whatever. I was not sure who was doing the short loop and who was doing the long, so I just kept rolling back down to the 4 way junction and down Ranger at a fast but reasonable speed. Dan and Eric soon caught up and I offered them the opportunity to pass, but they were content following me all the way to Chautauqua where we spent a few minutes refilling our water bottles (arrived there after about 1:30ish?).

As we were getting back on the trail, Justin arrived (not needing to fill as he would be pulling off early) and we were 4 again. A bit more conversational pace running, eventually led to Justin leading again at a steady tempo heading South on the Mesa trail. The pace was quick, but well within my limits and it was my goal just to run steady and always be close to the front.

Justin peeled at the Bear Creek Trail (thanks for the pacing!) and it was just Eric, Dan and I. They were both claiming to be tired, but Dan has dusted me up on Mt. Evans by a long shot and Eric is built like/looks like a very good runner, so I was not sure how things from here on would pan out. I led the way up the Fern Canyon Trail and started upping the pace, as I had been conserving for this moment and I felt great. Eric immediately popped on the steeper terrain and Dan fell behind and was soon out of sight. I was not sure if Dan had turned or what, but I kept up a hard pace, running when I could and power hiking when I had to knowing this was my opportunity to put it away. I got to the summit of Bear in 2:30-2:31 or so, tagged the true summit and scrambled back down the rocks to the trail. I did not look at time splits too closely after this point, but am assuming it was another 10 minutes or so over to S. Boulder.

Dave’s suggested route through the boulders that I was rehearsing yesterday worked out fast, smooth and flawless and I made quick work of it. I then started flying down the mountain as fast as I could go, as I was hoping to turn down Shadow before being seen, but I ran past Dan, Andrew and Joel (forgot his last name) about a minute before I made my turn. Seconds after passing them, I stumbled or slipped or something (I don’t really remember), but came down on a knee, ankle and hand. It hurt and I yelled involuntarily, but the adrenaline was so high, I shrugged it off quickly and started cranking down Shadow Canyon. Here I was starting to feel the effort, along with being a little shaken by the fall, I was not feeling at my best, but knowing I only had 7-9 minutes on those guys, I was running with reckless abandon (scared).

Coming out of the mouth of Shadow, I passed a hiker in white who knew my name, but I was so focused, I had no idea who it was. I knew the final miles back on the Mesa with the rollers were going to hurt, but I just kept digging hard and pushing the pace, always at or near my limit. If anyone was going to roll me up in the final miles, I was going to make them work for it. I passed Lisa and she offered up some encouragement which gave me a bit of a boost. I looked back on several of the more open sections expecting to see somebody creeping up on me, but I never saw anyone.

I was stoked to crest the final uphill and then gave it all I had on the down. My HR was completely pegged as I was leaving nothing to chance and I was at a near sprint for the final ~1.5 miles. Toward the end, I was starting to accept that I would not be caught and was starting to consider going under 3:30 (only because it is a round number).

As hard as I tried, I did not make 3:30, but was very happy to finish first at 3:34:05. Not that it means much, but I race so infrequently and when I do, I rarely do all that well, so I was fired up to have been able to run smart and strong today. Andrew ended up finishing second, 12 or 13 minutes back (I was surprised to have gained time), then Joel 6 or 7 minutes behind him. After that, I did not check my watch but Dan rolled in 4th, then Johannes, then George Zack, followed by Buzz.

All in all a perfect day of running. It was sunny and warm (but not too warm), I had a great run, saw many old friends and acquaintances and made some new friends along the way during the run and at the post run BBQ at Ryan and Lori’s house.

I was bummed that Dave could not make it due to a recently sprained ankle (even though his participation would have for sure set me back a place), as he is a great friend and also hands down the best at type of run. Many people commented on his absence. Wishing Dave a speedy recovery.