Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday, 04/22/10 Green Mountain

The pouring rain this morning continued from last night was not all that encouraging, but then as if somebody flicked on a light switch, the sun was shining bright with blue skies abound.  I quickly dressed myself and Sierra for a run and was out the door.

The Gregory Canyon trail was quite wet, a bit washed out with large piles of pine needles, but the temperature was perfect and humid.  I was excited to see the condition of the snow up high and as expected (probably helped along by last nights driving rain), most of the snow is gone, save for a few lingering and mostly inconsequential patches.  I'm so excited about this.  If I had a bit more time, a water bottle and not had Sierra, I would have headed over to Bear/S. Boulder, as my legs are feeling pretty good on the up(aside from some very minor residual tightness in my left calf when I stride a bit too long), but my downhill is still a bit weak (which was fine today, as I was waiting on the dog).

Up in 41:08 (avg. HR 154) (17:43/Cabin, 37:20/4-way)
Down in 30:27 (avg. HR 124)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday, 04/21/10 Green Mountain Attempt

Sunday was spent in the car, Monday and Tuesday I was too busy and not at all feeling like running, but after today I figured I had had enough time off.  Sierra and I headed over to the Gregory TH after work, under threatening skies, but I figured we would give it a shot anyways.

Though I felt almost normal striding around work today, my calves groaned in protest as I started up  Gregory Canyon.  Aside from my calves though, I physically and mentally felt like hauling ass, but I was limited to baby steps and plenty of walking.  I was totally stoked to be moving along sections of trail that I have passed over countless times this winter, but have not seen the dirt, logs and rocks due to constant snowpack Oct. - April.

It started to rain pretty steady before long and I heard what I thought was a very distant rumble of thunder.  Once I got high on the N/NW Ridge, there was a bright flash, as though somebody took my picture.  What the?  Oh yeah, 2-3 seconds later, KABLAMMM!!!!  I was at 29 minutes and still a good 12 or 13 minutes from the top at my current pace, so without the slightest bit of hesitation, Sierra and I did a 180 and headed back down the hill.  Under normal circumstances, I would have upped the tempo way earlier on and race the storm, but today, I was feeling a bit slow and vulnerable.

Much to my chagrin, I was comparatively slower on the down, so I just shuffled as quickly as I could, as the frequency and proximity of the lightning increased.  As desperate as I was to get back to the car (I have had one too many near death experiences with lightning), a group of 3 was heading up.  I mentioned that the storm was moving in and intensifying, but they laughed and said something about it being fun.  Oh well, to each their own.  Got back to the car soaked but satisfied, just as it began to hail.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Saturday, 04/17/10 Grand Canyon RRR

Grand Canyon RRR 2010
42 miles
11,000 vertical

George's report
Hoot's photos
Bill Blazek's photos
Adam's Report and photos

Plans started to coalesce in January for another RRR trip. I immediately got excited about the idea, but some minor foot discomfort had me taking a month off of my feet from mid-January to mid-February and I was beginning to question if I would be able to pull it together in time. Fortunately, my foot improved and I was able to get back into reasonable enough shape to start making serious plans. Specific travel plans/partners were eventually sorted out over the final few weeks leading up to the trip and it ultimately came down to myself, Homie (John Prater) and George Zack.

This was my 3rd trip to the canyon for the double crossing, previously running a 10:23 in 2006, an 8:43 in 2009 and I was sure that I could still improve upon my time with a little better training and execution over my previous best there given the right circumstances. Homie had run/hiked the double crossing before with his wife in a casual 19+ hours and was eager to give it faster effort and this was George’s first RRR and by far his furthest/longest run ever.

Our trip was planned to coincide with Bob Dawson’s annual trip (this was his 8th annual RRR trip), always on the same weekend in April where a loosely knit group meets up for the hike/run. The three of us left George’s house in Broomfield at 6am on Thursday morning and drove the ~11+ hours in one straight shot to the Grand Canyon, arriving around 4pm and set up camp in the Mather Campground.

We had talked about taking a short run to work out the stiffness in our legs from the long drive, but decided that food was more important and headed to the Bright Angel Lodge for a great dinner.

On Friday Morning, with most of the day before us to enjoy, George and I followed John and Gerry (Roach) over to a rock tower named the “Sinking Ship” where we would follow them to the base and kill some time spectating. It was tempting to do the full climb, which I would have done on any other day, but did not want to risk expending too much energy prior to such an important run. I did however do some fun scrambling, making it about 1/3 of the way up and got some great photos and then spent the remainder of the morning lounging back up on the rim, enjoying the tranquility and views.

(remaining photos from Hoot unless otherwise noted)

We decided on the usual ~5:30am start time for Saturday morning, where Wayne was to meet us for the run. The majority of Bob’s group started at 3am (Emily, Hoot, Adam, Rob, Bill) Mark Silas started at 4:50am and Jennifer was already hiking through the night. The group nature of the outing really adds to the fun, having so many friends out there on the trail to exchange high fives and encouragement and knowing that if anything happened out there, you have some backup.

After a solid 7 hours of sleep, I was wide awake at 3am and raring to go. I meticulously paid close attention to every little detail, sure to not forget anything. I took my time eating and took a few trips to the bathroom to rid myself of any extra weight. We hopped in the van around 5am and headed over to the parking lot near the entrance to S. Kaibab TH access road 6/10th of a mile away.

At 5:34am exact, we set off from the kiosk as I set pace, Wayne on my heels and George and John not too far behind.

Me about to launch(GZ photo).

It was a perfect morning, comfortable enough temperature to not need anything more than shorts and a t-shirt (a sign of things to come). The ongoing trail work on the S. Kaibab trail soon became evident and there seemed to be great improvements over last year, making for a noticably easier descent. The pace seemed very relaxed and I was shooting to get to the river in about 57 minutes, same as last year, but was confident that would be a more reasonable pace this year since my downhill training has been much improved. I don’t really have any reliable splits on the descent, but I had a strong feeling that we were right on target, although Wayne thought we were going a bit slow.

Wayne and I made it to the river in 56:30, took a quick pee and moved quickly along toward Phantom Ranch. Wayne peeled off to fill up on water and I continued on for the long solo haul to the North Rim, eager to catch up and say hi to my friends ahead. This was the moment in my run where in 2009 I discovered that my descent from the S. Rim in 57 minutes was a bit too ambitious for my lack of specific training. My calves were cramping from balance stepping on all the water bars and I knew I was running on borrowed time. This year however, my legs felt very fresh and knew that things were going according to plan. As I worked my way up Bright Angel canyon along the swiftly flowing creek, I concentrated on efficiency and made a point to stay well fueled and hydrated. The box canyon passed surprisingly quick as I was just cruising along, completely enjoying the morning and the day that was unfolding before me. I was feeling at times as though I was going a bit too easy as my effort seemed a bit on the low side. I was hoping my discipline would pay off though, as I did not want to trash myself too early in the run and just concentrate on even energy expenditure throughout, intending to save a bit more for the final leg of the journey back up to the South Rim that is always a true test of one’s limits.

Wall Creek, the only significant water crossing without a bridge (just below Cottonwood Camp) was flowing much higher than in previous years and I knew from information I had gathered, I would have to get my feet wet. Fortunately, somebody had strung up a nice taut hand line to offer some guidance which helped tremendously.

Once past the creek with minimal delay, my shoes were now soaked and filled with water which took a bit of pep out of my step due to the added water weight, but the cold water was refreshing even at the early hour.

I arrived at Cottonwood after 2:11 of running, where I was able to get a conditions report from two backpackers descending from the N. Rim. I eagerly requested a snow report where they both looked at my trail running shoes and agreed that I would not be able to make it in the shoes I was wearing “you’ll definitely get wet”. Hmmm…. I was already soaked from just having waded across the creek minutes ago, would I really not be able to negotiate the snow? I chuckled to myself, filled both hand bottles and was back on the trail in a minute and change. I passed the Roaring Springs Ranger Cottage at 2:28 where Bill Blazek was taking a break and took a few pictures of me as I passed and shouted encouragement. I was eager to get on with the steep(er) climbing to the N. Rim and was still looking forward to catching the rest of the group ahead. I first caught Emily not too far below the bridge and surprised her as she was singing along to her music on her I-pod, Bob was within sight ahead moving very well. Now with just Hoot, Adam, Rob and Jennifer ahead of me, I settled into a speed hike/jogging mix on the steep gradient up to Supai, constantly shifting gears depending on gradient for efficiency.

Immediately after the Supai tunnel I started to encounter the first patches of snow. I was encouraged by the fact that it was still hard enough to stay on top of and was melting enough on top to get just enough grip. There were several inch deep footprints from those who had passed before me to provide a bit of additional traction and guidance, but negotiating the still several feet deep drifts certainly cost some minutes on both the up and the down. Despite the relatively slower conditions, I was happy to reach the N. Rim kiosk in 3:55, 8 minutes ahead of last year.

I spent ~1 minute talking to Rob who was taking a more leisurely break, packed away my arm warmers, gloves and dug out my sliced up apple (that I would not eat until long after the run) and was soon carefully picking my way back down the snow covered trail. Initially, my pace was pretty slow, concentrating on not taking a big slip or suffering a bad post hole incident which certainly seemed like a possibility in spots.

Safely past the worst of the snow at Supai tunnel, I started to up the pace a bit and was encouraged by how good my legs felt, as I had none of the wobbly sensations I had in years past at this point in the run. This is where the heat of the day really started to ramp up and I took full advantage of the numerous waterfalls cascading onto the trail where I would pause for a nice cool down and submerge my hat every chance I got which really helped to keep my head cool.

I'm paused and posing here (Bill Blazek photo)

Back at the Ranger Cottage (after ~4:54) I spent a few minutes getting water, applying sunscreen and willing myself with all my might to not just spend an hour napping in the shaded green grass. I forced myself onward into the now somewhat oppressive heat of the valley floor and chugged a bottle as I tried to establish a sustainable rhythm, knowing I could fill again at Cottonwood Camp. Cottonwood arrived at 5:11, I filled without hardly a pause and was now looking forward to re-crossing Wall Creek, which would come as a very welcome refresher (click on picture and note Jennifer crossing later in the day).

The hill past the Ribbon Falls cut off was a bit of a sting after so much descending, but I powered over it well and remained focused on bolstering the 8-10 minute advantage I had been maintaining over last year on the way back down to Phantom Ranch. I kept my pace up, never going too fast, but I never really lagged either and did the best I could keeping hydrated and cool, continuing to dip my hat into any bit of water I passed, but knew that I was creeping into a hydration deficit despite my concentrated efforts to keep up with fluids and electrolytes.

It was daunting at times to look down canyon while still high in the valley and see the plateau of the S. Rim looming so high above in the distance, knowing I still had ~2,000 feet to drop before I could cross the Colorado River and begin my final climb. My mindset wavered at times as I became increasingly fatigued, but I never strayed from my goal and was always able to maintain a high level of focus on the task at hand, whereas I have struggled through this section more in previous years. Experience was paying off.

After some varied reports on the status of the water situation (due to an ailing water pipeline), I was relieved to find cold/drinkable water at the faucet in front of the Canteen. Again, it was very tempting to relax in the cool shade, but there was business to take care of. I’m not sure what the temperature was, certainly not as hot as the 96 degrees we encountered in 2006, but I am guessing it was in the high 80’s or possibly even 90. It always seems warmer here, as the rocks and sand do an excellent job of radiating heat, I am always feeling a bit physically drained at this point and I typically have not had any exposure to temps beyond the 70’s at that point in the year which all conspire against you.

Running along the river, I passed a mule train heading in the opposite direction and was momentarily delayed. This was surprising to me, as we were told that all mules were using the Bright Angel trail due to the ongoing trail construction on the S. Kaibab. It is crazy to me that there is no way to get reliable information, as everyone you talk to at the park tells you something different, whether it be trail conditions, weather conditions, water availability, mule traffic etc….

Though increasingly tired, I was very eager to get started with the final climb. I stepped onto the black bridge after 6:25 and after several strides, noticed yet another mule train just starting their way across the bridge in the opposite direction just after I had. No big deal I thought, I would just make myself skinny and inch along sideways as they passed. The Marlboro Man on the lead mule gave me a $h!t faced grin and passed, scuffing me slightly with the saddle bag. The remaining 6 mules, all piloted by 50 something female tourists did not go as smoothly. Suspended high above the muddy waters of the Colorado River, each mule sensed the tension between myself and their respective passengers. In turn, each mule would pause, stomp nervously, sway their head and then sprint wildly past, as I tried my best to avoid getting trampled. Each of the remaining 6 mules took their turn knocking me into the fenced rail like a pinball as I exhaled a barrage of foul language with each blow to the chest from the saddle bags or rump of the mule. A bit nerve wracking to say the least.

Now done with mules (or so I thought at the time), all I had standing in my way was a 6.3 mile climb up 4,860 feet of sun scorched switchbacks and through crowds of ill prepared tourists, similar stats to ascending Longs Peak on top of 35+ miles and 6,000 feet of climbing. I plugged along steadily, running when I could, power hiking when necessary as the river became increasingly distant. I was starting to fade a bit and my warming water became less and less appealing (I was fantasizing about an ice cold lemonade fairy roaming the trails, handing out tall, sweating glasses of revitalizing nectar).

All the while, I would look down on any switchback sections above the river and only saw people who I have already passed and never once saw any other runners, just hikers. About halfway up the long and steep series of switchbacks connecting the Tonto Plateau to Skeleton Point, I looked down and saw somebody below whom I did not remember passing, who was going a similar pace to me.

I peered over the edge again on the next switchback and was 100% positive it was George, same hat, clothing, backpack and stride. I was 30+ minutes ahead of him on the N. Rim and was doing the math in my head as to how he could have made up so much time on me (George is an awesome runner and I was not all that surprised). Not wanting to get caught by anybody this close to the finish, the possibility of this ignited my competitive spirit. I was no longer racing virtual Jeff from 2009, I was on a mission to hold George off. I picked up the pace, hugging close to the wall and staying low, doing my best not to be seen. As I crested Skeleton Point, I took advantage of the long flat section where I really opened up the throttle, maybe even hitting 6 minute pace or better for a ~1/4 mile trying to get as far ahead before he crested onto the ridge.

I peered back at times, no longer seeing my pursuer, but now the fire was fully lit and there was no letting up until the top. As I passed O’Neil Butte, I was mortified to see yet another train of mules heading up the trail a few switchbacks above Cedar Ridge. I was hoping that they would top out before I caught them, but they were moving much slower and I quickly caught up. I was lucky that it was a reasonable spot for me to pass as they happened to be stopped for a moment and I thanked them profusely as I tip toed past on the inside boulders. I kept pushing hard, pushing myself harder than I can ever remember up the trail, singularly focused on the task at hand. My primary goal was to get as close to 8 hours as I could and I knew that would not happen after a certain point, but I knew that I would better my PR by nearly a half hour. As I approached the final sting in the tail switchbacks to the rim, my watch (as usual) seemed to be accelerating disproportionately to my pace and effort.

As I was near the last switchback, I noticed my watch read low 8:15. I burst into a full on sprint past the final steep switchback to the top, tagging the kiosk at 8:15:52 and collapsed in a heap.

I finally gathered my wits a bit and was able to bum some water off some hikers who took pity on my sorry self. I then staggered over to a nice perch on the rim and spent ~10 minutes waiting to cheer on George, but I could see a long ways down the trail and did not see him. As much as I wanted to wait, I needed to get to the car for some cold water and recover, so I slowly staggered the .6 or so miles back. I was feeling nauseous and the trip to the car was a challenge unto itself, shuffling along with stiff legs, unable to take in a deep breath, shivering from cold sweats and was on the edge of vomiting.

Finally back at the van, I sat on the tailgate, trying to muster up the energy to drink or eat, but there was no way I could do it. I hunched over with my head in my hands, coughing and hacking, not knowing whether to sit, stand, lie down or throw up. A German tourist wearing an Ironman Arizona race shirt came by to ask if I was OK. He kindly offered a Gatorade which I happily accepted, though I could not drink for some time still. This is one of those situations where I would have gladly gone to the medical tent for an IV or some sort of aid had it been an organized race.

Eventually, I regained my composure enough to get down some liquids, a banana and my left over pasta from dinner the previous night. As I was just starting to get it together, my friend Pete showed up, as he was waiting on Adam. I was so glad to see a friendly/familiar face and although I was past the worst of my post run delirium, it was mentally reassuring to have him there to talk to and recount the day.

I was surprised to still not see George after an hour, but eventually he rounded the corner slowly shuffling along the road toward the car. I asked him what had happened, as he had come to close so catching me on the ascent, but he had no idea what I was talking about. He had finished in a very respectable 9:22, his first RRR, longest run ever and had not done any vertical to boot, amazing in my opinion! After comparing notes on the final climb, it turned out that it was not George that I saw behind me, just somebody who had probably come off the Tonto Trail and was for at least a moment moving at my feeble pace. Though it was not George that I saw, I was thankful for the false alarm, as it certainly improved my time significantly, prompting me to a 1:50 ascent from the river, 13 minutes quicker over the same stretch the previous year.

Homie arrived about an hour later after running a very strong 10:22. We hung out, exchanging war stories from the day, comparing splits and sharing details. We eventually headed back to camp to clean up at the coin op showers and then went out for Pizza, which really hit the spot.

All in all an amazing trip, George and Homie were excellent travel partners and were a huge part of what made this trip so great (the 28 minute PR didn’t hurt either). I did not completely know what to expect from this run, as every year is different and there are variables that I cannot control, plus, you just never really know how you are going to feel at the time it really matters. My primary goal was to break my old PR of 8:43 and every minute less than that would be a bonus, but I was deep down really hoping to see how close to 8 hours I could come (I thought it to be over ambitious, but why not aim high and see how close you can come?). I pushed myself well beyond where I thought my limits were and it was revelatory moment for me to break through my self imposed glass ceiling and push beyond what I thought was possible. I’m not one to make excuses (OK, maybe I am), but I think with cooler temps and no/less snow on the North Rim, I might have come closer to that magical goal time I had set for that 8 hour milestone. Though I swore I would never push like that again for the hours following the run, I am already entertaining thoughts of giving it another go someday. Who knows what is possible?


Breakfast: Banana, yogurt, granola, bottle of perpetuem.

Food on the run: 9 gels, 2 packs of shot bloks, 13 S!Caps, 2 bottles of Heed and lots of water (11 or 12 x 20oz bottles).

Gear: PI running shorts, white short sleeve shirt, white ball cap, Montrail Streak running shoes, Smartwool socks, Nathan HPL-020 running vest, arm warmers (did not need), white glove liners (did not need), Go-Lite wind shirt (did not need), sunglasses, chap stick, Croc Blok sunscreen towlette (light and seemed to work well).

Things that went right: Solid training, familiarity/experience with the route and perfect preparation/attention to details (there were no surprises). Execution, I had rehearsed this day so many times in my head over the last year, it played out like a script.

Things that could have gone better: Hmmm… this is a tough one. Each year I come up with something I could have done to improve, but this year I honestly can’t come up with anything, or at least anything practical. I think spending an extended period of time there waiting for a cool day, perhaps a high of 65 degrees as opposed to ~90ish would help a bunch, as would a snow free trail on the N. Rim. No complaints here though, planning a trip like this months in advance and travelling such a distance, you just have to chance it and take what you get.


S. Kaibab to Black Bridge: 56:30

Phantom: 1:04

Cottonwood Camp: 2:11-2:12

Roaring Springs Cottage: 2:28

N. Rim: 3:55-56

Roaring Springs Cottage: 4:54-58

Cottonwood Camp: 5:11

Phantom: ~6:14-16?

Black Bridge: 6:25-6:26:30

S. Kaibab TH/Finish: 8:15:52

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesday, 04/13/10 Flagstaff

Up in a very reserved 19:38 (153 avg. HR), down in 14:34 (119 avg. HR).  Was raring to go fast and far, it was all I could do to hold back, but I have to save it up for Saturday.  Feeling very ready.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday, 04/12/10 Sanitas

Met up with Tim for an easy lap on Sanitas.  As much as I like the Spring temperatures, Sierra is already too hot and moving slow, so this was an exercise in patience (which is good though, as she keeps me from doing to much during taper week).

Up: 24:50 (avg HR 134)
Down: 18:28 (avg HR 106)

Sunday, 04/11/10 Green Mountain

Sierra and I met Aron and his friend John after work at the Gregory TH for a run up Gregory/Ranger.  Upon meeting up, Aron presented me with a nice tech t-shirt that was given out while he was in SLC working on his major motion picture "127 hours" that is due out in Novemeber.  Sweet!  It even glows in the dark from what I hear.

We went a super easy conversational pace all the way to the summit, enjoying good conversation and the warm weather, spent a long time on top.

Up: 58
Down: 29

Saturday, 04/10/10 Green Mountain

The plan was to meet Tony at the Gregory Canyon TH at 7:30am and run up Green with him as he was beginning his 43 mile day.  At the last minute, Lucho signed on, as did Brandon, but opted to start a little ahead of us.  I got there a little early GZ style and ran up Gregory a ways, bumped into Brandon on my way down, ran back up with him for a very short while, then cruised through Chautauqua hoping to intercept Tony.

We eventually convened at the TH and began the run.  I was feeling decent, until we started up the icy bobsled run, otherwise known as trail above the cabin.  I was really wishing for screw shoes at the very least, as seeking out pine needles, bumps of frozen slush, rocks, twigs, patches of dry ground and such for traction was really inefficient.  Lucho eventually had enough and bailed (can't blame him as conditions were probably the worst I have seen in a long time).  Tony and I continued on, but pace was dictated and slowed by all the ice.

Made the summit in 38:30 where Brandon was waiting and spent a long while chatting it up.  Brandon and I headed out the much less treacherous W. Ridge to Superflag and ran the road until we could catch the trail, which was much more enjoyable.

Up: 38:30 (169 avg. HR)
Down: 43:??

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thursday, 04/08/10 Green via Bear Canyon

Took it somewhat easy today.  Started at Chautauqua, Mesa Trail S. to Bear Canyon up to Green and then back down Ranger/Gregory.  Trails are drying nicely in many spots, but there was still some long patches of snow/ice/mud in Bear Canyon and on Green/Bear, but hopefully will disappear in the next week or so.

Up in 1:08:19 (avg. HR 149/max 161)
Down in 33:49 (avg. HR 123/max 152)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday, 04/07/10 Green via Flagstaff

Not sure what to expect with the fresh snow, I was fired up to give my legs a good spin today and figured Flagstaff would be a good bet.  Much to my satisfaction, all of the new snow had completely melted off the Flagstaff Trail by the time I started my run at 4:20pm..  It took me a while to warm up (maybe all of Flagstaff?), but my legs were feeling pretty good and I was making decent time considering how little I was putting into it.  Made the top in 18:23 and headed down the road, crossed Flag and kept going toward the Ranger Cabin. 

The fresh snow from the previous night/morning became increasingly evident and did a nice job of hiding the ice underneath.  With no traction today, I just picked my way through and made the most of it.  As expected, the amount of snow increased as I ascended.  First, a thin layer over ice, then mashed potatoes over ice, then finally drifted fresh snow on the old trap door snow pack near the 4-way.  I was pushing a little more than usual, but the pace/effort just felt good in general and it did not feel like I was knocking myself out.  Sank deep, up to my knees in a few spots approaching/at the 4-way jct., maybe into old holes or perhaps making my own new ones, hard to tell, but it caused me to tread lightly for a bit.

I pushed hard up the final rocky steps to the top, just seeming to float up the big steps that have lately been giving me pause.  I was surprised to have topped out in 45:39.  I am not entirely sure, but that might be a PR for me running Green via Flag which was especially encouraging given the conditions.

Knowing the trail back down to the cabin would be treacherous, I took it pretty conservative and even so, took some huge slips mimicking the guy on the wet floor sign, but managed to land each one with style and grace.  I felt cat-like, but tried to not let it get to my head and focused on the task at hand.  From the Ranger cabin, I opened it up the remainder of the way back down Gregory, super-computer computing.  This was just one of those days where everything physically and mentally just came together.  Now if the stinking snow would just go away!


Flagstaff: 18:23
Crossed main Flagstaff road: 21:53
Ranger Cabin: 24:13
4-way: 42:35
Summit: 45:39 (avg HR 168, max 180)
Descent: 24:55 (avg HR 146, max 167)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A shout out to the Granite State Yo

OK, this has nothing to do with Uphill Adventures, but since I got started in NH, I figured I would share.  You might appreciate it a bit more if you know NH, especially if you have lived there, but it is funny regardless (watch the second video as well that it is spoofing).!v=bX7nQrCgALM!v=0UjsXo9l6I8

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday, 04/05/10 Green Mountain

Yesterday I was a bit grumpy with the slushy and slippery snow that still offered an opportunity for an unexpected post hole or two and plenty of inefficient toe-off and sliding (Gregory/Ranger route).

There is too much intermittent dry ground to bother with Microspikes or Yak Trax (unless you don't mind destroying them or removing them for each section), but it kind of sucks at times without. Today I was more accepting of the conditions and was looking at it from a glass half full perspective, as I am noticing significant improvement each day.

Went mostly easy today, just enjoying the fresh air and Sierra's company. I upped the pace a little over the final 7 or 8 minutes, but the snow was governing my efforts and pace somewhat.

Cabin: 17:35
4 Way: 37:??
Summit: 40:47 (avg HR 152)
Descent: 28:50 (avg HR 120)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Saturday, 04/03/10 - Sunday, 04/04/10

Saturday, 04/03/10 Eldo/Walker

~17 miles/4,500 vertical

Met up with Tim and headed over to Eldo. The wind was just cranking and was threatening to steal my motivation, but I was eager to get in a good run. We started off easy, heading into Eldo via the Fowler shortcut. Easy pace, 13:36 to the start of the Eldo Trail. I upped the tempo on the switchbacks a bit and knew my legs were going to feel good for the day. I was rolling along pretty well, not digging at all, just going with a tempo that I knew I could hold for a long time. Made the Walker Loop in 33:46 and went clockwise. The steep stairs are mostly melted, aside from a few steps where caution is mandatory. The remainder of the loop is similar to what it has been for the past month +, lots of dry trail and also some significant stretches of snow. The weather was quite variable, sunny and warm one minute, windy, cloudy and snow squalls the next. I completed the lap in an OK for the conditions and lack of true effort 1:09:40 (avg. HR 159), took a 2 minute break, then started counter clockwise back up the hill to meet with Tim. This RT took 16:17 (avg. HR 144). I felt great and strongly considered another lap, but I was not inspired by the weather and my focus shifted to getting home to catch up on things. We took it pretty casual on the return trip, 38:24 back to the canyon (avg. HR 145) and another 9:54 (hr 132) back to the car, for a total of 3:03:37 with stops and backtracking.

Overall, I felt great on this run and feel as though if the trails were completely dry and the weather was a bit more cooperative, I might have been able to PR on the lollipop. Either way, it gave me great confidence for the upcoming RRR.

Sunday, 04/04/10 Green Mountain

I was feeling yesterday's run in my legs a bit, but the weather was great and I had nothing else going on after work, so Sierra and I headed up Gregory/Ranger. I carried Yak Trax, as I planned to put them on at the cabin, but was lazy and just kept going. The snow was slushy and slick, but I knew there was some dry sections ahead, so I just decided to forego traction altogether, as we were just taking it super easy anyways. Lot's of slipping and sliding going on. Made the cabin in 17:??, the 4-way in 38:?? and the summit in 42:33 (avg. HR 147). Took it cautious on the down, using my skiing skills to the max as I negotiated the slush with Yak Trax in hand. 28 (119 avg. HR) for the descent.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday, 04/02/10 Green Mountain

48 up (avg HR 143)
31 down (avg HR 121)

Tim, Sierra and I got out for a casual lap on Green this morning. The temps last night in the low 20's (or less up there) really froze the snow into some great hardpack. We went pretty easy, just catching up on the last ~year since Tim has been away living in Cali. It felt as though he had only been gone a few weeks and was great to be back on the trails with a good friend. For grins, I tested the strength of the crusty snow off the trail and it completely held me, even when stomping downhill. With Microspikes on my feet, it was somewhat reminiscent of biking the Slickrock Trail in Moab. It would be a real blast to make up some routes early in the morning if it stays cold enough.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Monday-Wednesday 3/29 - 3/31/10 and March Summary

I’m starting to feel a bit burdened by feeling that I have to blog daily, as I am sure is obvious with my posts. In my mind, they have morphed into a “just the facts” training log to help me to remember what to plug into my excel spreadsheet and to satisfy my legions of fans (3 or 4 regular readers i.e. sympathetic friends). I’ve considered just stopping all together, who really cares that I ran up Green, yet again in X amount of minutes. Some things are just more important, like reading how many times my friends ran up Green Mountain and how long it took them. I might just start posting every few days, or each week unless something really exciting comes up.

Monday 3/29/10 Green Mountain

Up Gregory/Ranger in 49
Down Greenman/Saddle/Amphi in 32

Started off with Aron and just went easy pace with him through Gregory Canyon to the cabin (24 minutes/avg. HR ~115). From the cabin, I went ahead, a little quicker, but not too fast as conditions sucked and I was not feeling too snappy or motivated (25 from the cabin to the summit, avg HR 147). After tagging the top, I gingerly picked my way down the trail and met Aron about halfway down the switchbacks. I just hiked back to the top with him and we headed down Greenman/Saddle/Amphi route. The snow was super soft because of the warm temps and was super slippery even with the Microspikes, not to mention you never knew whether or not you were going to stay on top, or sink into the snow up to your knee. The descent was a very slow and cautious 32 minutes with an avg. HR of 95. Bumped into Tony as he was heading up Amphitheater for his second lap of the day.

Tuesday 3/30/10 Green Mountain/Flagstaff

Felt great today, in part aided by the ~80 degree temperatures. I first intended to do a few laps on Sanitas as I was sick of the snow, but some last minute change in plans saw me at Green again, as I just can’t help myself and I knew Sierra would appreciate the snow on a warm day. It was the first day I felt as though I could confidently leave behind gloves, arm warmers, wind breaker or things of the like.

I ran a decent pace through Gregory Canyon, pushing at times, holding back some at other times to wait on Sierra or at least make sure she was still on pace. Passed the cabin in 16:20 and knew the upper half would not be comparable, so I kept up a steady pace, but didn’t really knock myself out as the snow was a bit of a governor.

Made the top in 39:55 (165 avg. HR), spent a moment or two drinking in the beautiful day and then cautiously made my way down through the soft and sometimes trap door snow.

The descent took 28 minutes (avg. 132 HR) and I still did not feel at all satiated. I contemplated a second lap, but due to time concerns, I decided to go with Flagstaff instead. The trail was in excellent condition, dry all the way to the last ~2 minutes. Made the top in 19:59 (avg. 165 HR) Back down in 13:36 (avg. 142).

Wednesday 3/31/10 Green Mountain

I was to meet my good friend Nate for a trip up Green, to kick off his training for his first Pikes Peak Ascent this coming August. A last minute meeting at work had me getting out the door 30 minutes late, so I called Nate and told him to get started (did not get on the trail until 5pm). Not sure how far ahead he was, I pushed a little at first hoping to catch him, but my legs did not feel all that springy, so I just backed off a bit and went a comfortable pace. The day was 20+ degrees below the predicted high which was a bit of a disappointment after the near 80 degrees on Tuesday, but the sun came out on the upper half to bolster spirits a bit. I found Nate a minute or two below the summit basking on a rock, as he had been waiting up there for quite some time. I tagged the top in 41:52 (avg. HR 155) and we then picked our way down through the trap door snow past the 4-way (still knee deep or more in spots if you punch through). The descent was a casual 30:08 (avg HR 124).

Despite the copious amounts of snow blanketing the trails, March was a pretty good month for me. I have been particularly motivated to get myself into reasonable fitness for the upcoming RRR on April 17th and was able to get out for a run all but a few days where life got in the way, or I felt as though I needed a rest day.

Though sometimes I feel like a bit of a slacker comparing my speed/numbers to Tony (I can’t forget that he is one of the handful of the most elite at this stuff), this was my biggest March ever and 3 biggest month ever. I am in the best shape I have ever been in leading up to the Grand Canyon and certainly the most fit I have been in March. I feel as though the snow is now my most significant limiting factor at this point and my enthusiasm is as high as can be. It also helps to have great partners to share the journey with, Brandon, Tony, Homie, Wayne, Aron, Mike O, Nate, Allison, Sierra (wish Dave M. was still here).

By the numbers:

80,350 vertical feet
212 miles (seems like double that though as most of that was in/on snow or mud)
24 Green Mountain Ascents
1 Bear
1 S. Boulder
1 Sanitas
2 Flagstaff
1 14er (Antero)
1 Skyline Traverse
2 trips out to Walker Ranch from Eldo