Sunday, February 12, 2012

Week ending Feb 11

Sunday: 10 miles, Horsetooth Mountain, 2000ft of gain. Whoah, were the trails rough today. Fort Collins was hit by snow Thursday night into Friday, and it looks like nobody hit the trails at Horsetooth. The only trail that was remotely navigable was the ascent up to Horsetooth Rock - I did that, plus some insane trailblazing through 1-2 foot snowpack. I wasn't running so much as shuffling for about 5 of these miles; I managed to carve out parts of the Westridge and Wathan trails at the top of the mountain, but without a shovel, those aren't going to clear out until next weekend.

Monday: 8 miles, foothills trail, 1500ft of gain; 4 miles, foothills trail, 1000ft of gain. A very long morning run - 8 miles in compacted snow is a workout. The trail past the first climb - maybe 1.5 miles in - disappears into the snow, so I spent today carving it out. I know the trail well, but there was also a visible depression in the snowpack that I followed as a guide. Basically, this morning's workout was like turning the resistance on an elliptical up to the max. I did the afternoon run in twilight - very cool because I got to get up close to the local deer family. The snow is rather disorienting after sunset.

Tuesday: 8 miles, foothills trail, 1500ft of gain. I am probably one of three people that are running these trails. It didn't look like there were any footprints - other that mine from yesterday morning - more than two miles into the foothills trail. Thus, more slow-motion, resistance training. 5 degrees and a light wind meant that my feet, buried in the snow for over an hour, were much warmer than my gloved hands.

Wednesday: 8 miles, foothills trail, 1500ft of gain; 6 miles, Centennial Drive (borders the east side of the reservoir), 1000ft of gain. It looks like some more people have ventured onto the trail, but it's still a slow slog. The paths through the snow have been churned and frozen into an icy mess - my ankles were rolling left and right on the uneven surfaces. I decided to forgo the trails for my second run today and hit the road that parallels the reservoir. I ran on Overland before turning west on Dixon Canyon Road for the steep climb up the ridge (20% grade at times), then heading south for the out-and-back. My pace was a comfortable 6:45 per mile - this is good...

Thursday: Off.

Friday: 10 miles, Centennial Drive, 1500ft of gain, 4 miles, Centennial Drive, 1000ft of gain. The trails looked exceptionally bad - it's not the fact that it's packed snow and ice, it's that so few people have gone running on them that the surface is so incredibly uneven. I'm not taking any risks with a rolled ankle with a race next week, so I've decided to stick with the scenic highways for now. This was actually a really fun run - I went north along Centennial, straddling the reservoir and the ridge. My pace on roads is way faster than last year, before factoring in the elevation gain. I did this morning's run in 1:08; even giving myself a good pace on the uphills, I have to be dipping into the 5-minute-per-mile range on the steep downs. The afternoon run was pretty fast, as well, although that was more out of necessity - the snow was starting to fall and visibility was diminishing fast. Not a good time to be on the shoulder of a highway.

Saturday: 14 miles, Centennial Drive, 2500ft of gain. This was the morning after another snowfall, so I laced up the Bare Grips for another road run. The snow was about 4-6in deep and fluffy, though the packed snow in the tire treads was a lot easier to run on - definitely not conditions suited for microspikes. Temperatures ranged from subzero at the south end of Bellvue (north of the reservoir in a valley) to 5-10F near the reservoir shore. There was a light northerly wind wafting advection fog onshore, and the snow was still falling, albeit weakly. The tire tracks told tales of carnage, and I witnessed a couple of wipeouts as folks attempted the steeper uphills.

Miles: 72
Elevation gain: 13,500ft
Time: 11 hours

The snow this week really killed my pace, but that's actually fine - when you're running through knee-deep snow you get a workout even if you're moving at jogging pace. This was my medium-mileage-no-long-run week before the race, and it was quite refreshing. Next week - taper!

 South ridge fire road...or rather, snow chute.

 My attempt at being artistic.

 Wathan trail. No really, it's there, just under some snow.

 Knee-deep snow. Elliptical resistance: maximum.

 Looking north from the rock.

 Long's Peak in the distance, past the winter wonderland below.

 The highest point on Horsetooth Mountain. Status: summitted.

 The highest point in Sprouts' parking lot. Status: summitted.

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