Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday, 07/30/10 S. Boulder/Bear Peak

Casual dog jog, more of a dog hike really.

Started with Sierra from S. Mesa at 8:10am, headed up Homestead to Shadow.  Jogged super easy to the mouth of Shadow, hiked up to SoBo, jogged to Bear and then jogged casually down, waiting often for Sierra and taking long stops at the creeks.

Shadow:  :25
Saddle:  :55
S. Boulder: 1:02
Bear: 1:14
Finish: 1:55

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday, 07/29/10 Grays and Torreys (PR!)

Grays and Torreys
12.5 miles/5,600 vertical
Partners: Nate Bahrenburg, Dan England

For my weekly installment of 14er running, Nate and I, along with Dan headed up to Grays and Torreys. Both Nate and Dan are preparing for their first Pikes Peak Ascent. After an enjoyable drive getting to know Dan and talking about mountains and twins/kids (Dan has twin girls), Nate dropped me off in Bakerville and I got running at 7:22am as he and Dan continued on to the summer trailhead.

After some recent lackluster training runs in the mountains, I was not sure what to expect today and certainly did not have my hopes up for a great run, I just figured I would take it one step at a time and see how the run would unfold with no real expectations. I left the heart rate monitor at home and figured I would time my run, but not really get too focused on splits and just enjoy the day.

I felt good, but not great running up the road and just enjoyed the warming up process. The air was cool, but not cold and I was thankful that the sky was overcast, perfect running conditions. I was having recollections of our run 2 years ago, where Justin and I started off WAY too fast and was in no danger of doing that again today. I reached the TH in 30:58, stashed some bottles and was on the far side of the bridge at 31:30, feeling much stronger than 2 years ago and ready to up the tempo a bit on the upper half. The trail was quite wet from recent rains which required some puddle and creek dodging, but it was actually kind of fun. My feet were moving quick and accurate, I felt great and was moving toward that level of bliss that can only be achieved on those perfect days when everything comes together.

Eventually, I caught and passed Dan beyond the Kelso cutoff, then Nate, not too long after. The trail steepened and instead of trying to fight it, I just leaned over and settled into a good power hike. Occasionally I ran, but was concentrating on shifting gears frequently, keeping as efficient as possible.

As always, the watch sped up with altitude and I was not entirely sure where I would end up. It seemed more and more likely that I might be able to sneak in under 1:30, but it all just seemed too good to be true. I dug in over the final ~500 vertical and hit the summit in 1:29:29, a full 4:03 faster than my run with Justin 2 years ago. It all just felt too easy. I am inclined to say I could have pushed harder, maybe at times, but I’m not sure pushing harder would have led to running a faster ascent. I paced myself really smart today, conditions were perfect and my head was in exactly the right place. If only every day could be like today.

I’m trying not to put too much stock in what I did today, just like I try to not let a bad day get me too down either. It is what it is, but it sure does feel good!

Oh yeah, the rest of the day….. I waited on the summit of Grays for Nate, who was not too far back. We hung out waiting for Dan, who we still could not see and decided to head over to Torreys without him. I went fast, but was not really knocking myself out and made it to Torreys in a few seconds over 16, waited a few minutes for Nate and we headed back down to the saddle, where we bumped into Dan. He did not want to hold us up and decided to bail on Torreys, but we encouraged him to go for it, as we were not in any hurry. Nate and I decided to wait for him at the car, then wait at the saddle, then before we knew it, we simultaneously decided to accompany Dan back up Torreys. From there on it was very casual, conversational pace hiking up and running down (maybe just under an hour back to the TH? I did not really look).


Bakerville: 0:00
Far side of bridge at summer TH:  31:30
Grays Summit:  1:29:29 (57:59 split from summer TH to Grays)
Grays to Torreys:  16

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, 07/27/10 Green Mountain

Up Gregory/Ranger 41:44
Down Greenman/Saddle/Amphi ~25

It was pouring rain when I left work and was hoping it would continue.  It had rained hard in Boulder it appeared, but was tapering off when I started at 4:08pm.  Before long, the sun was burning through the clouds and it was warming, but probably only into the 70's (up from 66 when I started), a nice surprise, as it must have been in the mid 90's when I stepped outside at lunch.  Went super easy on the up and down, just light jogging and some hiking really.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday, 07/26/10 Bear Peak

Up/Down Fern Canyon

Started from Cragmoor at ~6:10pm.  It was very warm, bordering on hot, mellow to moderate pace the entire way.  Surprisingly enjoyable despite the heat.

42 up/25 down

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunday, 07/25/10 Green Mountain

Up Gregory/Ranger 37:55 (avg HR 169/180 max)
Down Greenman/Saddle/Amphi: 25

Started off easy at 4:09pm, with no intentions of pushing whatsoever, as it was very hot and I have been sluggish as of late.  To my great surprise though, even with the heat, my easy effort was producing decent splits.  I passed the cabin in 16:27 and upped the effort a bit, made the 4 way in low 34:1? and pushed a bit to the top (but faded and powerhiked most of the steep stuff).  HR was a little high for the finish time, but I was satisfied with my effort given the heat and relative lack of effort (at least in the early part).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Friday, 07/23/10 Shrine Mountain (11,888)

This was easily the most enjoyable and fulfilling day I have had so far this summer and it did not involve running a step.  Allison, Sierra and I, along with our friend Jack, who is a longtime professional outdoor photographer (John Fielder type) drove up to Shrine Pass (above Vail Pass) for a casual hike to check out the famed wildflowers that we have heard Jack rave about for years.

The hike was short (~5 miles/800 vertical) and we went very casual, as Allison is now 6 months pregnant and Jack is over 70 with a rebuilt hip.  I was more than fine with the casual pace, as the wildflowers were absolutely out of control and I would not have gone much faster on my own, as I was so busy snapping photos.  Sierra really seemed to like it too, as she was going absolutely nutty running around through the willows, flower and tall grass.  So much fun.  I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

Thursday, 07/22/10 Pikes Peak

Another training run on Pikes in the books with Nate.  While running up Pikes, I had a several thousand word blog post scripted in my mind, but the days since have been too busy for me to sit at a computer for more than a few minutes and I have forgotten most of it since (but the resounding theme above Barr Camp was "the pace calculator is BULLSHIT!").

I knew before I started running that my legs were not feeling great.  Odd, as I only ran Green twice during the week, somewhat easy or moderate at most, vs. 4 or 5 times before my previous run up Pikes where my legs felt great. 

I started at 6:55am and felt clunky right away.  My plan for the day was to stick to splits for 2:46:10 (PR) the best I could and I hoped to push a bit beyond, as my 2:57 the week prior felt very relaxed and reserved.  I pushed hard and my HR monitor was showing the added effort, about 5-10 bpm faster than last week on average, but the effort seemed exponentially greater.  I hit the top of the W's in 33:07, about 9 seconds slower than last trip, but it seemed like soooo much more work. 

Only slightly deterred, I pressed on, hitting No Name in 48:48, which was about on par with last week, but still, the effort felt too high.  Hoping I could at least maintain, I continued pushing, but I got to Barr Camp in 1:25:??, roughly a minute behind now.  I lost another 2 minutes by the Bottomless Pit switchback and even then felt like I was at my limit.  I then gave up and walked.  A minute or two of this though, I was annoyed and started fighting again with renewed vigor.  Then I blew and walked again.  I repeated this process all the way to the 2 to go sign and realized that pushing myself was only going to dig me deeper into a hole long term.

It seems that for the last 4-6 weeks (or more), my performance has been very flat and my willingness to dig deep has been minimal at best.  Between lack of sleep, planning for twins, long work days, hot summer temps, keeping up with the Tour, stress at work, on top of running mountains has been wearing me thin.  I often times feel this way, but it typically only happens maybe one day every other week or so and a day off, or easy days cures all, but this time it seems to be running a little deeper.  Even a few days in a row does very little to help.  Hopefully I can turn things around soon, as Aug. 21st is closing in quickly.

Oh yeah, I made the top in an abysmal 3:09:49 (avg HR 167/max 179).  Ouch.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday, 07/20/10 Green Mountain

Up Gregory/Ranger: 37:39 ahr 166/mhr 179
Down Front:  22:28 ahr 144/mhr 160

Felt better this morning (5:45am start), pushed the intensity up a bit, felt like the high side of moderate/low side of hard, but a bit labored for the meager time.

The down was a snap, my feet felt accurate and spot on, a stark contrast to yesterday where I felt stumbly and like I may as well just hike down.

Monday, 07/19/10 Green Mountain

Up Gregory/Ranger:  40:50 AHR 147/MHR 166
Down Front: 26:33 AHR 118

Tired and not too into it at 5:30am.  Easy effort.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Friday, 07/16/10 Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak (14,110)
PPA Course from Manitou Springs
13.32 miles/7815 vertical feet
Partner: Nate B

Nate and I started running at 6:55am from the imaginary start line at Memorial Park.  The streets were relatively quiet and serene and I was feeling very casual and relaxed, occasionally contrasting this in my mind to the nerves and anxiety that I typically feel on race day. I did not really have a specific goal in mind, other than to practice pacing and keep track of splits along the way and work on not pushing too hard below Barr Camp. Knowing long in advance that this was my plan, I stupidly forgot to do any homework on this (or did not feel like it, I can’t remember which). Oh well, I have run the course enough times and had a general idea. I planned to get to Barr Camp in ~1:23 and then hoped to be able to push a little harder than normal over the second half. As the route got steep on the upper part of Ruxton, I resisted the temptation to stride it out and just geared down with short and quick steps.

I knew I was feeling great and had visions of running a PR and was itching to just gun it, but I stuck to my plan and kept a careful eye on my heart rate monitor, keeping it in the low to mid 160’s range. It is amazing how much my perceptions can vary from day to day. A HR in the 160’s is a transitional zone for me, that, depending on the day, can be the upper edge of conversational pace, all the way to it feeling like I am about to blow a valve. On the first half of this run, it truly felt like EASY conversational pace and felt moderate on the upper half.

Up and up I went, taking note of how quickly Manitou seems to drop away beneath my feet. It was shaping up to be a hot day and the sun was shining very strong. I was wishing it were cooler, but knew that I would appreciate the relative warmth above tree line. At one point, heading up through the W’s, I came to a narrow constriction in the trail at the same time as another “runner” (more like a person running down the hill from the top of the incline). He paused, as if to let me through, which I gladly did, as I was not keen to stop, or scamper up on the rocks to the right. He then decided to barge through at the same time, bumping shoulders and then had the nerve to say in a smart ass tone “Hellllooooo”. Nice. I wanted to stop and get into it, but I was there to run the peak, not give some yayhoo lessons in trail etiquette.

My splits seemed to be on target, or perhaps a touch ahead, so I was sure I would get to Barr Camp in good time, but I always under-estimate the last ~1/2 mile to Barr Camp that seems to stretch on longer than I remember. Going through Barr Camp, I was surprised at the buzz going on there, huge crowds of people after a relatively quiet previous several miles. From Barr Camp on toward the summit, there were numerous groups of people, most with overnight packs, spread out, who all seemed to be loosely associated with one another (turns out it was some corporate retreat). My legs and breathing felt great and I was moving well, but still not pushing, just keeping the same effort as I had been all along, but as always, the cumulative fatigue was starting to build a bit.

Above A-Frame, I was still running all but the occasional and singular rock step, but knew that my splits were starting to fall behind. After the 2 to go sign, I walked a few short sections, but mostly ran and I was thinking that I should dig a little deeper to try and bring it around, but I was absolutely content sticking with the moderate and steady pace. The entire run felt very controlled and somewhat easy, except for the final mile that hurt as always. I alternated between speed hiking/token jogging and was relieved to tag the top.

I jogged over to the true summit (satisfying my inner mountaineer), then headed in to buy some food while I waited for Nate to summit. I sat at a nice booth with a view and took off my shoe to retrieve the $10 bill I had just stuffed under my insole 3 hours prior. To my disbelief, it was nowhere to be found. Hmmm…., must be in the other shoe. Nope. Where could it have gone? I tore both of my shoes apart, alternating between one shoe, then the other, then looked all over on the floor, then back to my shoes, back to the floor. I was absolutely stumped. I put my insoles back in, then re-laced my shoes and retraced my steps, across the gift shop, to the bathroom, out to the true summit, then down the Barr Trail for a few switchbacks, but it was nowhere to be found. Oh well, hopefully the gift to the mountain gods brings me good Karma on future outings.

Once Nate arrived, we headed out to the lot to bum a ride back down. Individually, we would have gotten rides immediately, but it was tough finding a car with 2 empty seats. Just as we were about to give up on riding together, we scored a ride with a retired cop here on vacation with 3 empty seats in his rental car and we were thankful for the ride. I have often thought it would be fun to do a “Justin-esque” knock off of his “Jared’s People” series about the people I hitch rides from down Pikes. Every single time, even after subtle hints about the brake check station at Glen Cove, my flatlander chauffeur scores a 400+ degree brake check that warrants a painfully long layover in front of the gold panning trough.

Though not one of my better ascent times, I was happy with the practice and workout it provided and felt it to be reasonable given the moderate effort. I look at it as one of many small step toward a loftier goal.


Top of W’s: 32:58
No Name: 48:??
Barr: 1:24:??
Bottomless Pit: (I paid close attention at the time, but now I forget, I think 1:38ish?)
A-Frame: 2:02
1 to go: 2:38ish
Summit: 2:57:41 (avg. HR 165/max 175)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday, 07/15/10 Green Mountain

Very casual with Sierra, up/down Gregory/Ranger.  It was warming up quickly which slowed her a bunch, plus we stopped often for water to avoid any overheating.

47:39 up (136 avg HR)
~30+?? down

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday, 07/14/10 Green Mountain

Met GZ at Chautauqua at 5:30am, ran up Gregory/Long Canyon, West Ridge to the summit of Green.  Bumped into the Ryan Cooper group at the top.  Ran down Greenman/Saddle/Amphi.  Run was kept casual/conversational.  As always, it was great to catch up with George, lot's to talk about and his positive attitude and encouragement is always uplifting.

Up in 59:??
Down in ~32

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday, 07/13/10 Green Mountain

Up/down Amphi/Saddle/Greenman

I felt much more alert and motivated this morning than yesterday.  Headed to Boulder and got started at 5:30am up Amphitheater.  My pace seemed reasonable, but my time to the first junction was a bit slow and I was hoping I would eventually warm up (which seems to take 20+ minutes at 5:30am).  I pushed a little harder, hoping to "break through" and though I felt a touch better as the run went on, I still felt like I was struggling a bit too much for the not so fast pace I was keeping.  Made the summit in a disappointing 34:50.  2 months ago I was going ~2:10 faster at the same HR, but felt much easier, I feel like I am going backwards a bit.  Hopefully I snap out of it soon.

Up: 34:50 (168 HR/182 max)
Down: 24:53 (142 HR/161 max (even felt crappy on the down, as I had little if any "flow"))

Monday, 07/12/10 Green Mountain

Up/Down Amphi/Saddle/Greenman

After a terrible night of sleep, I reluctantly headed in to Boulder for a run up Green, as I knew it was going to be hot and I would not want to run after work.  I forced myself up the steep steps of the Amphitheater Trail which today seemed much like an obstacle, rather than the usual stairway to heaven.  The entire "run" was a struggle, just to go moderate pace and my HR is a misleading indicator of the effort given for a meager time.

36:46 up (avg HR 156/178 max)
26:38 down (avg HR 119, felt like I had 2 left feet with bricks attached)

Saturday, 07/10/10 Sourdough Trail

~4 miles/~1,000 vertical

Parked just prior to the Brainard gate and headed North on  the Sourdough Trail with Allison and Sierra.  Easy hike, down to the bridge, left at the junction, then about a mile up the trail.  Considered walking all the way to Brainard ~4 miles from the car, but figured it would be best not to with the threatening skies and Allison's pregnant state.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Friday, 07/09/10 Mt. Harvard (14,420) and Mt. Columbia (14,073)

Mt. Harvard and Mt. Columbia
~14 miles/6,600 vertical
From the N. Cottonwood TH
Partner: Sierra

After a quiet night sleeping in the car about ½ mile down the road from the trailhead, I took my time getting ready, waiting for it to warm up a bit and get a little lighter. Again, Rick was already on the trail, the plan being for him to hike directly up Harvard on the standard route, while I go over Columbia and traverse to Harvard, anticipating a close arrival time.

The first few miles are relatively flat and easy going and I was enjoying the warm up, as my legs were feeling the previous day’s effort on La Plata. I took it relatively easy through here, not too anxious to get to the steep slopes that lead to Columbia’s South Ridge and was enjoying Sierra’s steady, yet reasonable pace setting.

After about 40 minutes, I bumped into Rick about ~1/3 of a mile before the Columbia jct. and chatted with him for a bit. Once I got running again, I was a bit surprised by the junction, as I thought it was a bit further up, but just hung a hard right without breaking stride, as it seemed familiar. The trip up the steep West slopes was a bit of a slog on the occasionally loose terrain and the ridge seemed to taunt me, just out of reach for what seemed to be a long time. Once I made it to the ridge, I made much better progress and was only ~10 or so more minutes to the summit, which was shorter than I remembered.

I poked around on the summit, looking for a summit register, but was unable to find one. After a quick assessment of the weather and enjoying the view, I dropped off down the mostly stable talus field to the NE, aiming for the gentle and grassy terrain below. With a little bit of good route finding and a little luck (when in doubt, trend East), I managed to stay on grassy, though sometimes steep terrain. This meant dropping further down into the basin, to about 12,200 feet vs. negotiating a sea of talus and scree if one tried to avoid losing too much elevation. It took me a surprisingly long 30 minutes to drop the nearly 2k vertical into the basin, but I was taking it somewhat mellow since I was by myself, carefully route finding and not on a frequently travelled route.

After letting Sierra gulp down a gallon of water in the swift moving creek, we started up the initially steep and thickly vegetated slopes toward Harvard. The going was pretty easy and before I knew it, Harvard’s sub summits came into view and it seemed as though I would be there in no time. I plodded along up the grass, constantly debating whether or not to trend right or left as I approached the initial crags. I opted to keep right and stay on the crest of the ridge. Before long, I was making some easy 3rd class moves, aware of the exposure on either side. Sierra is always very good about scouting around and finding the path of least resistance in this type of terrain, but needed some enthusiastic encouragement from me to make it through one or two moves. We soon came to a step that was a bit exposed, but easy enough for me to work my way up. I knew Sierra could not do it and we both spent a good bit of time looking for an easier way. I found a weakness that might have worked, but as I down climbed to it, I realized that it was more treacherous and exposed than it looked from above. I was very impressed with her judgment to not attempt it despite my earlier instructions to do so when I viewed it from above. This exposed bit of scampering, combined with the snowy rocks (left over graupel from the previous day) and the nervousness of Sierra got me a bit on edge and I was wondering how we might both safely bypass the tower. If I were not with the dog, I could have continued on and it would have been fun, but I did not want to put her at risk or stress her out any further.

As if on cue, I noticed two climbers descending the ridge above and heading for a traverse to the South, beneath the tower we were on. From my perch on the tower, the talus traverse below did not look all that appealing, but it was now making sense that it is the path of least resistance. We backtracked down the ridge and I was kicking myself for opting for ascenders right vs. left, as I think it would have been more obvious which way to go.

Once we got back on track, the remainder of the hike to the summit was no big deal, just some minor scrambling (fun and optional), then a bunch of awkward boulder hopping, nothing hard, just impossible to go fast on.

Once on top, I could see some hikers below and was hopeful that one of them was Rick, but it quickly became evident that he was not in sight. I figured I would jog down the trail until I met him and decide whether or not to hike back up with him depending on how far down he was. Down and down I went, but still no Rick. I bumped into a couple at around 12,500 and they relayed a message to me that Rick had turned around. I was hoping at that point to run quickly back to the car, but I was getting tired and the trail was too technical in many spots to really cruise, so I just resorted to a casual jog, stopping at all the creek crossings to let Sierra drink. The trail on the way out seemed twice as long as the way in. Even though it was downhill, I was finding myself clocking comparable splits to my morning run up the trail, I was tired and I could not arrive at the car soon enough.


1st Bridge :01
2nd Bridge :17
Kroenke Lake jct. :18
Columbia summit 1:44:02 (avg HR 152)
Harvard summit 3:32:47 (1:48 for the traverse, but at least 20 minutes of that was messing about on the dead end tower (avg HR 143))
Finish 4:55:18 (1:22 Harvard summit to car, 140 avg. HR)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Thursday, 07/08/10 La Plata Peak (14,336)

La Plata Peak (14,336)
Northwest Ridge
9 miles/4,300 vertical
Sierra and I

Splits (starting at the trail register):
Begin ascent out of La Plata Gulch: :24 minutes
Reach the NW Ridge at 12,700: :54 minutes
Summit: 1:26:59 (avg. HR 164 for the ascent)
Drop off of NW Ridge: 1:47:xx
Back at TH: 2:23:31 total (descent split 56:32/145 avg. HR)

Rick Canter and I had been talking about meeting up in the high country for several months, as he was planning to focus his annual Colorado 14er fest on the Sawatch Range with a home base in Buena Vista. Tentative plans varied as the time drew near, but I was pretty open as to what peaks we might be able to cross paths on. Though we did not necessarily plan to hike together as we had different agendas and variations in pace, we both thought it would be fun to be on the same peak and hopefully summit at/near the same time.

Sierra and I left home in Louisville at 4:40am and arrived at the trailhead off of Highway 82 around 7:15am (after 2 quick pit stops along the way). The forecast for the day was for 50% chance of storms afternoon and although crystal clear at 7am, I had a hunch that storms would be certain and probably before noon due to all the moisture in the air and just an overall feeling. I immediately recognized Rick’s rental car and knew he was on the trail ahead, but was not sure what time he had started. I took my time getting ready, as I had a good idea of how long the trip would take me and I also wanted to hopefully allow Rick to get that much closer to the summit.

We started off running at a fairly casual warm-up pace, enjoying the undulations and fresh morning air, but all too soon, the trail tilted up steeply and it was now time to dig in a bit and up the effort. I was able to run the steepest sections of trail, but opted to power hike short sections to save my legs a bit for later. Fortunately, the trail is not steep for long and before I knew it, we were cruising on very gentle terrain, with Sierra leading the charge. It was through this flattish section, after ~20 or so minutes of running that I first bumped into Rick. He had unfortunately gotten a later start than he had hoped and was a bit behind. After some chit chatting, we were off again, with the loose plan of meeting later, higher on the mountain. As I ran, I felt bad for leaving him behind, but was really enjoying what I love doing most, moving fast through high mountain trails.

Soon the trail began to climb out of the valley and the gradient for the most part was primo for running. Even the steeper switchbacks only required a few steps of hiking at their apex. My legs were feeling great, Sierra was moving fast and I was in my happy place. Once on the ridge, the summit looks tantalizingly close, but I knew from past experience that it is further than it appears and the trail to the top would not be entirely runable as it passes through some dense talus fields. I worked my way through steadily, running when I could, but often times power hiking, being careful to not slip on the occasionally snow and ice covered rocks (remnants from the previous days’ storm). Higher on the ridge, I opted to travel on a long, well consolidated snow patch that made for more efficient progress, but soon was interrupted by a melted spot near where the trail again intersects. I considered continuing on the snow that extended nearly to the summit, but several steps in, it was obvious that the snow was of much different consistency than the lower snowfield, so I cut back over to the trail instead.

As usual, my stopwatch increased in speed as my legs slowed in sync, the summit mocking me as I pushed forward. The smooth and runable trail became intermittent and footing became slippery and unstable as my desire to sprint it out for the top increased. Finally, I tagged the summit in 1:26:59 and spent a few minutes taking in the views, eating a gel and petting Sierra. I poked around for a register, but was unable to locate one, as I wanted to leave Rick a congratulatory hello.

The sky was still nice and clear a bit after 9am, but I was anxious to get back down the trail and check on Rick’s progress. Down and down I went, moving cautiously on the looser/trickier sections of trail, riding a fine line of speed/efficiency/safety. Once the trail dropped off the ridge, I spotted Rick just a few switchbacks down and stopped to chat. Clouds were beginning to form, but were not at all threatening and it appeared that we had a few more hours of decent weather. With this in mind, it was my hope to get back to the car with enough time to drive a mile up the road to the unofficial trailhead for the S. slopes route on Lackawanna, my final remaining Centennial Peak in the Sawatch Range. I gave Rick some information on what to expect higher up on La Plata and reiterated that he keep a close eye on the sky before parting ways. From the ridge back down to the car, I was able to open up my stride a bit, but still kept the pace reasonably conservative for the most part.

Back at the trailhead, in the ~30+ minutes or so since leaving Rick near the ridge, the sky had completely darkened over Lackawanna. My enthusiasm waned significantly to mild optimism. As I drove the mile West on 82, mild optimism dropped further to having no hope, as I watched bolts of lightning strike out from black clouds just a few miles away. Without letting off the gas, I continued on to the top of Independence Pass, where I would relax in the car for well over an hour, eating, reading and watching developing storms strike out in fury and cloak the surrounding summits in a coat of white.

Worried about Rick, I knew there was really nothing I could do, but wait for his return. As I drove back down the pass, the storm overhead/over La Plata continued to intensify and I watched in shock as long lasting bolts of lightning made direct strikes on the very ground I stood on hours earlier and where Rick might still be. I waited out the worst of it in the car at the trailhead and once the storm subsided, started hiking up the trail, asking several storm battered hikers about Rick’s possible whereabouts. Though we were not necessarily hiking together, I still felt somewhat guilty and responsible for leaving him up there at the mercy of the mountain gods.

Eventually, I got word that he was OK and only ¼ mile up the trail, so I continued on until we crossed paths. Turns out, he had made a friend from Nebraska who he hiked with most of the way down after reaching 14,000 feet. On the way back down to the TH, the clouds broke, revealing a bluebird afternoon. Though it was 3:15pm, I figured I would have a go at Lackawanna after all and just keep a careful eye on the sky. Less than 10 minutes and ~600 feet up the steep hillside, I started to hear distant rumbling and hoped it was a jet. After the second or third time, I turned around to see massive black clouds billowing to the South and the writing was on the wall. I was more than happy to bail in favor of going to meet Rick for dinner in Buena Vista.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday, 07/06/10 Green

Started at Chautauqua, warmed up to the Gregory TH and then hit it hard through Gregory Canyon.  I was feeling great and moving well and was sure I would be close to or ahead of PR today.  My legs were rock solid, but my breathing seemed to be a bit sub-par.  Surprisingly (and a bit to my dismay), the numbers were just not adding up in line with the effort.  Passed the cabin at 15:53, but figured I might be able to rally and still put in a decent time.  I think I got caught up to PR pace for a bit, but then faded near the top (I still felt great, but the watch does not lie).  I tagged the summit and headed down Greenman/Saddle/Amphi and bumped into Kraig K and had a short chat.

Oh well, if there is a silver lining, that is bad days don't ONLY happen on race day, they can happen any other day as well.  No biggie though, it was a good workout and I don't feel the least bit taxed by it, so I'll save it for another day soon.


Ranger Cabin:  15:53
Ranger/Greenman jct.: 19:3x
Flat/Downhill section on ridge:  23:58
4 way: 32:53
Summit: 36:22 (this split mystifies me, as I was running most of it, 100% sure the watch would read 35:xx at the top despite it not being a great run, but the watch seemed to go into hyperdrive in the last few)(avg HR 172/max 181)

Descent: 23:22 (avg HR 145)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Monday, 07/05/10 Green Mountain

Got out early with Sierra before work, up/down the front. The trail was pretty washed out from the heavy rain last night and the morning air was damp, cool and refreshing. My legs felt great, but I was content taking it easy and patiently waiting for Sierra, so I just jogged slowly the whole way, occasionally pausing to wait. It was great having the mountain to ourselves, as we did not see another soul.
Up: 39:55 (avg HR 140)
Down: 25:21 (avg HR 110)

Saturday, 07/03/10 S. Boulder Peak and Bear Peak

Since my mom was visiting, I needed to get an early start so I could be back home by ~7:30am or so, as we had plans to meet our friend Rick in Boulder for breakfast at The Original Pancake House. I started from the S. Mesa TH a few minutes after 5:30am and knew immediately that the run was not going to be as quick as I had hoped as my legs felt a little heavy. I plodded along, just giving into it being a mellow run and just enjoyed the scenery. I went up S.Boulder first and hung out for a few minutes enjoying the cool air, calm and quiet of the early morning. I debated Bear, as I was running tight on time, but bumped up my pace a bit heading over there and back, hard to resist when it is so close.


End of Towhee: 14:3X
Mouth of Shadow jct: 21:??
Saddle: 46:??
Summit: 52:28 (avg. HR 150/max 167)
Bear: 1:01:56 (avg. HR 141 to Bear)
Finish: 1:36:24 (avg. HR 136 for the descent)

Friday, 07/02/10 Pawnee Peak (12,943)

Pawnee Peak
9.4 miles/2,450 vertical
From Long Lake TH

My mom was in town for several days, so Allison and I figured it would be fun to escape the heat and take her on an easy, yet scenic hike in the mountains, so we figured Lake Isabelle would be the perfect destination.

Getting out of the car, shortly before 10am, it was a bit cloudy and I was immediately chilled by the moderate breeze and was debating how much I should wear, as I knew this would be a fast run on the up and then some easy hiking back from the lake. Hoping/assuming that the day would warm, I opted to go somewhat light, carrying my hooded Go-Lite windbreaker, glove liners and wore shorts and a t-shirt with arm warmers, which turned out to be just the right combination.

The trail to Pawnee Pass makes for an excellent run, as it has a nice and fast rolling start which allows for a great warm up, followed by very mellow to moderate gradient all the way to the pass. My effort was on the high side of moderate for much of the run, but my legs and lungs felt great, making the effort seem much easier. Above Lake Isabelle, the trail resembled a creek for much of the way, as there was quite a bit of runoff from the melting snowpack and recent rainy weather. Before long, I began to encounter patches of intermittent snow that were solid enough to walk on for the most part, but made for slow going at times as I was being careful not to take a side slip.

As I crested the final rise before Pawnee Pass, the venturi winds were in full effect and it was difficult to keep my balance at times. Ascending the steep, but short rise from the saddle toward the summit provided minimal relief where the talus hopping required some additional care to not get knocked off balance by the gusts. I kept my summit stay brief, as I was eager to reconnect with Allison, Mom and Sierra. I made quick work of the downhill, but did not push too hard, as I was being cautious due to the rocky and technical nature of the trail.

We reconvened back at the lake where they had been sitting and snacking for about 15 minutes and relaxed for a bit, before talking them into heading back up the trail a short ways toward Pawnee Pass. Progress was a little slower this time around, as we stopped at each patch of snow to let Sierra go nuts, while Mom and Allison caught their breath (not so easy when coming from sea level or being 20 weeks pregnant with twins). How far we went up this trail was soon decided by a threatening thunderstorm that snuck up from the South, so we hustled out of there as fast as we could. Fortunately, we were spared the brunt of the storm as it passed to the South and West and before long, the sun was shining warm and bright.


Lake Isabelle/Pawnee jct. : 18:34
Pawnee Pass: 55
Pawnee Peak: 1:03
Lake Isabelle/Pawnee jct: 1:33

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thursday, 07/01/10 Green Mountain

Early morning "dog jog" up Green via Gregory/Ranger.  Not sure how I would feel after having a few days of feeling sluggish and waking up to a massive charlie horse in my left calf (felt like somebody stabbing me with a knife and twisting).  Started off mellow through Gregory, made the Ranger Cabin in 16:33, which I thought was decent considering how easy it felt and how much I was waiting on Sierra.  Greenman/Ranger jct. in a touch over 20, 4-way in 33:4x, waited for Sierra to show her mug, then pushed hard to the summit, knowing she would come lingering in eventually.  Tagged the top at 36:53 (avg HR 155/max 180), spent a minute or two, then returned the same way (26:43 down at 124 avg HR/max 142).  Awesome morning to be out.