Saturday, January 28, 2012

Week ending Jan 28

Sunday: 8 miles, 1500ft of gain, foothills trail. Did a little shake-out run after my long run yesterday. It only took the first climb to loosen me up; it also helped that I did this at noon. I find I run better at midday; I'm sure this has something to do with the diurnal cycle of hormones and such. Unfortunately, I only get to do this on the weekends...

Monday: 12 miles, 2500ft of gain, foothills trail and Reservoir Ridge. Honestly, if I could do this run every day for the rest of my life, I'd die a happy man. A little gray and windy, so I busted out some new gear from Christmas - the Better Than Naked jacket and a pair of Nike Dri-fit running tights.

Tuesday: Off. By noon I'm already groggy and depressed that I won't run today. Heavy is the runner's burden.

Wednesday: 12 miles, 2500ft of gain, foothills trail. Great day to run - clear skies and warm temperatures. I felt a little sluggish until the turn-around - I feel like it's a lot of work to get going again after a day off.

Thursday: 8 miles, 1500ft of gain, foothills trail. Cold. Cold, I say. Otherwise, a supremely uneventful out-and-back on the ridges above Fort Collins; not another soul on the trails, which sort of creeped me out.

Friday: 10 miles, 2000ft of gain, foothills trail. My right ankle felt a little sore going down the foothills trail near the dam at Laporte (it's rather steep and the footing is very poor). I didn't sprain it, but about a week or two ago I took a bad step and inverted my foot a little too far. These things happen, it's just a matter of time to heal.

Saturday: 23 miles, 4500ft of gain, Horsetooth Mountain and Lory State Park. Yikes, man, talk about cold. It was about 11 degrees at the trail head, and as usual, was much warmer at the top on Westridge - good motivation to get to the top, which I did in record time today. Lots of slick spots remain - partially shaded areas that never completely melt and then refreeze into layers of hard ice. The dusting of snow we got yesterday concealed a lot of these death traps; I didn't make it out unscathed, though. I was rounding a switchback on Sawmill when I fell down. Let me tell you, I don't go down often, but when I do, it's like the Titanic - long, drawn out, and spectacularly devastating. I took a total of three skidding steps before my feet slipped out from under me and my butt and elbow slammed onto the black ice. My elbow hit so hard that it took me a good five minutes to regain sensation in my hand. Despite that, I recovered quickly and destroyed the out-and-back in the meadows. I survived on two Gu's and about 20oz of water, still managing to finish strong.

 Running on black ice is no bueno.

Looking east up Spring Creek Canyon.  

Miles: 73
Elevation gain: 14,500ft
Time: 10 hours (?)

Feeling pretty good; it's been a while since I've been able to put in a 70 mile week - IT band issues for the last year and whatnot. The semester is picking up, but my class load is lower than last semester so I've got plenty of time to crank on research.

Looking forward to a rest day tomorrow and a nice, low-mileage week to recharge and focus on strength training.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Good things come in pairs

I've really been enjoying the New Balance MT110's for the past month - a substantial review is soon to come, given that I've had time to break them in. Suffice to say, these are easily the best shoes I've ever worn.

I just got my Inov8 Bare-Grip 200's today. I choose to go for size 8.5; normally I'd wear an 8 but I need the extra width, and Inov8 curiously doesn't offer wide sizes (WTFBBQ?). At any rate, I took them out for a short spin, and color me impressed. I'm going to have to write up two very glowing reviews in the next week.

The Bare-Grips are, of course, for Hagg Lake, and for the upcoming wet season here in Colorado. The trails I train on daily turn to into that shoe-sucking clay mud when it rains, and I've heard good things about the BG's ability to shed mud and provide unmatched traction...all in a minimal, zero-drop shoe? Ya, you betcha.

Eats mud for breakfast.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Week ending January 21

Sunday: 12 miles, foothills trail, 2500ft of gain. I did the foothills trail + Reservoir Ridge out-and-back-lollipop-loop thing again, getting a comparatively late start (I'm usually at the turn-around when the skies turn fiery before sunrise). I saw quite a lot of mountain bikers out today - these guys are brave as hell, as I have enough trouble just running these hills and their endless supply of boulders and scree.

Monday: 10 miles, foothills trail, 2000ft of gain. A fairly nice day by any measure, not too cold, calm winds. I took a bad couple of steps near the turn-around that tweaked something in my left leg - hopefully that's a one time thing!

Tuesday: 8 miles, foothills trail, 1500ft of gain. Takin' it a little easier today, the tweak didn't resurface but I feel a little tightness in my left glute, so I'll be hitting the tennis ball/foam roller combo to work it out. Entirely uneventful day - although I time my run just right so that I get an unobstructed view of the sunrise. Even though I see it every day, the beauty never diminishes.

Wednesday: Off. I fought some gnarly winds on the bike on the way to the department, though.

Thursday: 10 miles, foothills trail, 2000ft of gain, 30mph sustained with 50mph gusts. My legs got sandblasted by all of the loose soil and gravel kicked up, and the cross-wind on the ridge sucked the air out of my mouth and made it very difficult to breathe. I almost got blown over when I crossed the gap in the trees and boulders going into the descent toward Laporte; running downhill back into town with that kind of tailwind is actually pretty frightening.

Friday: 4 miles, foothills trail, 500ft of gain, 40mph sustained with 65mph gusts. A shake-out run to keep me fresh for tomorrow. I was running the whole time, but there were occasions where I'm positive that my speed dropped to walking pace as I faced a brick wall of wind. I love running in the wind - it keeps things interesting, as you have to constantly recruit your core and stabilizer muscles and adapt to the gusts and changing wind directions.

Saturday: 23 miles, Horsetooth Mountain and Lory State Park, 4500ft of gain. Felt really, really good today, but I held back on adding more mileage. It's been a long time since my long run and weekly mileage has been in this range; I also feel that in the past year, I've dived back in too quickly after races and/or injuries, which has typically led to more overuse injuries. Anyway, the weather was perfect - virtually no wind with temperatures between the high 20's and mid-30's; it's dry so the cold isn't too bad. I felt fantastic rounding the southeast side of Stout, bombing down into the canyon, and making the final ascent. It's that point in the run where you've exhausted most of your glycogen and you're in fat-burning mode, your body is swimming in epinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, and your mind is somewhere between egging you on and begging for you to stop. On only two Gu's, that's a great place to be.

 Nice view of the Rockies, this morning; from Stout trail.

Mileage: 67 miles
Vertical gain: 13,000ft
Time: 9 hours

The elevation gain is spot-on for a mountainous 100 (~190ft/mile), which is a big change from one year ago when I could only run serious hills on the weekends. One more week of buildup - shooting for 74 miles - before a rest week. Then it's one more high-mileage week before a short, 5-day taper into Hagg Lake.

Do I shell for a pair of Inov8 Baregrip 200's? Those monster lugs would do a lot in the shoe-sucking Hagg mud, and I have to imagine that they'd come in handy here in the Spring when the trails turn to sticky clay.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Week ending Jan 14

Sunday: Off. Had another late night on Saturday with some friends; felt surprisingly wired even after the long run.

Monday: 10 miles, 2000ft of gain, foothills trail. The temperature contrast between the base and the top of the ridge is amazing - it felt like at least 10 degrees today.

Tuesday: 8 miles, 1500ft of gain, foothills trail. I had an accident on the bike yesterday (plowed into the side of an SUV as he switched lanes in front of me at a light) that gave me some nice abrasions on my hands and bruised my kneecap, so I took it a little easy this morning. Thankfully, nothing feels abnormal.

Wednesday: 12 miles, 2500ft of gain, foothills trail and Reservoir Ridge. Today was cold (mid- to low-twenties) with a 20mph northerly wind, making the windchill close to zero. Nevertheless, I did the big foothills+reservoir ridge out-and-back. Reservoir Ridge has great trails - with the exception of the east side by Michaud Lane, the trail is rolling with only a few rocks. As I rounded the north end of the ridge I was blasted with cold, high winds, and could see snow falling over Bellvue. The tailwind on the way back was great, though I don't think it compensated for the brutal headwind on the way out. Pace was around 7.5mph, which is fine with me because the uphills and downhills are steep and full of rocks and switchbacks, which really slow you down.

Thursday: 8 miles, 1500ft of gain, foothills trail. Brutal winds on the ridge - 20mph with gusts upwards of 35mph. I would grind to a halt every once in a while when the gusts would pick up, but it was a lot of fun getting carried up the hills with the tailwind on the way back.

Friday: 22 miles, 4000ft of gain, Horsetooth Mountain and Lory State Park. This was a repeat of last week with an extra two mile loop thrown in at the turn-around in Lory. I didn't eat too well the night before, so I felt really sluggish in the middle of the run. My calves were calling out for calories so I doubled my intake to - gasp! - two Gu's on this run. I really cruised down Towers, breaking 10mph and not even feeling a twinge from my IT-band. Below is the GPS track. You can see that a little less than half of the run is spent in the rolling meadows at the base of the mountains, which, for whatever reason today, were getting blasted with winds. That might have been a wind-tunnel effect with the breaks in the hogback along the reservoir.

My new phone has a much better receiver than my old GPS watch, but the sampling rate is still low enough that it smooths out the sections with lots of switchbacks. This is really apparent with the Westridge trail, where the relatively dense forest plays hell with the signal.

Saturday: Off.

Mileage: 60 miles
Time: 8 hours
Elevation gain: 11,500ft

I'm trying out the micro-cycle training (every 4th week, drop down abruptly in mileage, then resume a 10% per week increase), but with the modification that I continually increase the length of the long run. So, next week I'll dial down the weekly mileage but do ~24 miles.

Getting really stoked for Hagg Lake!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Week ending Jan 7

Back in town from Seattle, it's the new year and I need a resolution. So here it goes - I'm going to document all of my runs in a journal format, with the occasional picture and GPS track. Without further ado...

Monday: 8 miles, 1500ft of gain, Foothills trail. The ice remaining on the trails is dense and slick, and the most-traveled trails are churned from foot and bike traffic when it warms above freezing - thus, lots of ankle rolling was had.

Tuesday: 8 miles,  1500ft of gain, Foothills trail. I can feel the altitude after spending a couple of weeks in Seattle.

Wednesday: 10 miles, 2000ft of gain, Foothills trail. I'm working toward 10 miles as my easy-run distance, which works out to about 80 minutes on this route - not bad for 1500ft of gain. The Foothills trail is not as churned/icy on the north end by Laporte.

Thursday: Off. Enjoying the 60 degree weather by doing errands on the bike.

Friday: 12 miles, 1000ft of gain, Soderberg Open Space and Lory State Park, on the rolling trails near the reservoir shore. This was to be my long run, but when I got to the trailhead in Lory to go up Arthur's Rock and do some mountain running, I found the trail completely frozen solid. As in, the trail looked like a river of ice, like someone poured water down the trail overnight. That, on top of feeling a bit off, made me cut this run short. I'll return tomorrow with microspikes, but even they may be inadequate, so I may have to stick to the south side of Horsetooth where everything is melted.

Saturday: 20 miles with 4000ft of gain, and easily the best I've felt on a long run in a while. Maybe it was the new shoes (the MT110's are awesome). I went up to the top of Horsetooth, descended down Towers Road, and then hooked up with the Nomad trail in the meadows via Stout and Sawmill (this little section is now my favorite, the descent on Sawmill is quite fun). I did an out-and-back through the meadows to the northern edge of Lory, retracing yesterday's run, and then returned to Stout via Towers. After that I ran the contour trail around the southeast side of the mountain to Horsetooth Falls and almost did a back flip on the ice at the bottom of the canyon.

 My domain.

 Descending Sawmill down to the meadows.

 Cruising through the meadows at the base of Arthur's Rock. The trail is rolling and you can really open it up through here.

 East side of Horsetooth Mountain - look at those orange hues!

 I can see my house from here! Not really.

Spring Creek trail above the canyon, approaching the falls.

 Yep, we be goin' down there. There's just enough snow and ice on the trail here to cause a wipeout.

The weather was crisp, in the low twenties with a light breeze, and the skies were gray, but after the first hour and a half I was flying. I finished in a little under three hours, making my average pace 7.5 mph - for me, this is fast, because the elevation gain and the trail quality make it a tough run. All of this on five hours of sleep after a fun night visiting friends in Denver, and with only one Gu. I don't know, some days you feel good and just need to roll with it.

Mileage: 58
Time: 8 hours
Elevation gain: 10,000ft

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hagg Lake looks like a "probably" right now. I have a mandatory seminar class on Fridays this semester (NSF requires an ethics course for anyone receiving funding). The idea of an ethics course for researchers-in-training receiving federal funds is absolutely a good idea, holding the course on a Friday? Not so much! I can miss two classes total, and both are locked in - a trip to LA for a very important family event in early February, and Badger Mountain starts of a Friday. That means flying into Portland late, which is not such a big deal since the race starts at 8AM the next day.

I felt really fresh and empowered after the NF50 mile in San Francisco. It was the best I've felt after a hard race - very little soreness and the IT-band held up well. I was back home in Seattle for Christmas break and used my two weeks of vacation from grad school to focus on strengthening my IT-band and ramping up my mileage in preparation for February and March. I'm now sitting comfortably at 60 miles per week, again, with my long runs back up to 20 miles.

Running in Seattle is so drastically different than Colorado! For one, the sea-level effect is quite pronounced - recovering after uphills is much faster, and I especially noticed that my road-running pace was up to 1 mile per hour faster. The lack of rocks and the flowing layout of the trails makes it much easier to open up and sustain a fast pace, as well. I credit the steep hills and nasty trail surfaces in Colorado as building my confidence and trail-running skills, especially when it comes to the downhills.

I really need to work on running more lightly, keeping my forward lean to maintain a clean midfoot-strike (even when the trail gets dicey), and maintaining a fast cadence. I see that my New Balance MT110's are in the mail. These are going to be a fantastic upgrade from the MT101's - a much lower, nearly-zero heel-to-toe drop, lower stack height (still with the rock plate), and a wider, roomier toe box - and will hopefully help me improve my form. The MT101's were the most minimal shoes with a rock plate, but they still felt like tanks relative to the original Minimus and I feel like my form has suffered a bit as a result.