Sunday: Off. Took a mid-morning flight back to Denver and then survived the gauntlet that is northbound I-25.
Monday: 4 miles, Dixon Reservoir, 500ft of gain; 4 miles, Foothills trail, 1000ft of gain. Did two short shake-out runs to loosen up. Lots of delayed-onset muscle soreness in my calves and glutes, but nothing feels "bad". Felt much better on the second run, especially using the Bare Grips. They are awesome on the slush and mud mix that forms later in the day.
Tuesday: 6 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain; 4 miles, Dixon Reservoir, 500ft of gain. I felt comfortably sore in my glutes on the climb up the ridge this morning, otherwise all seems to be well. There is still quite a bit of snow and ice, so I took my microspikes with me - very good choice. It's basically solid ice on the ridge.
Wednesday: Off. I planned another rest day for tomorrow, but downslope winds started last night and kept temperature in the 40's. I don't even want to know how muddy the trails got. As strange as that sounds, coming off a particularly muddy year at Hagg Lake, foothills mud is a much more sinister beast. It's a "dry", dense mud that accumulates on your shoes and kills your traction, and even an inch of the stuff will slow you to a crawl. Contrast that with PacNW mud, which is slick and waterlogged. Amazingly, while the Bare Grips did a pretty good job in the deep mud at Hagg, they are weak sauce around here.
Thursday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain; 4 miles, Foothills trail, 1000ft of gain. I played detective this morning - on cresting the ridge west of Prospect Road, and following the Foothills trail a few hundred feet north, I came across a sedan that ploughed into a boulder. I looked inside through the tinted windows, but in the morning light couldn't see much; I knocked on the window, and someone laying down on the passenger seat looked up at me, shooed my with their hand, and covered up their face with a blanket (what?) Assuming they were okay, I followed the tire tracks back up to Centennial Drive (the tracks were still visible on the road as it snowed last night). It looks like the driver made a few attempts to line up the car before putting the pedal to the medal and driving off the road, down the ~50ft embankment, and onto the trail. They reversed, reoriented the car, and proceeded to drive (on the single track trail!) until they hit the boulder and basically totalled the car - the front end was completely crushed. I finished my run and then called it in as an abandoned vehicle. Stolen, joy-ridden, and then crashed? And they camped out inside? Of course I had to come back on an afternoon run to check it out. The car was gone, but I could see double-tire tracks leading from the former site of the wreck to Centennial Drive, so it looks like a tow-truck went off-road to pick it up. The second run of the day was chilly - cold bora winds picked up by the time I reached the turn-around, not a good time to be wearing shorts.
Friday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain; 4 miles, Foothills trail, 1000ft of gain. Took it easy this morning on the frozen mud and ice - it was patchy enough that I left the microspikes at home. It was moderately warm for a winter morning, a nice prelude to the mess in the afternoon. The second run of the day necessitated the Bare Grips, but even they had trouble on that sticky red Colorado mud. A nice northerly wind set up and gave me a few Arctic blasts to the face.
Saturday: 12 miles, Horsetooth Mountain, 2000ft of gain. My cardinal rule is not to do a long run in the week proceeding a race. The race is a big training stimulus and, more than that, can set you up for injury if you don't take time to recover (doing a very long run the weekend after the White River 50 two years ago sidelined me for the rest of the season, as I quickly developed IT-band issues). Anyway, it was cold at the base but rather warm and windy up top. The Westridge trail was completely snowed in, with drifts up to 2 feet in some places. I lost the trail (as did the other diverging footprints) and spent a while fumbling around the mountain. The ice on top was strong enough in some areas to allow me to run on top of the snow.
Elevation gain: 10,500ft
Time: 8 hours
I'm feeling pretty solid after an easy week post-Hagg Lake. That's crucial, because the next three weeks I'll be ramping up the mileage and long run distance - hopefully hitting just under 100 miles per week and doing a 5-hour run in the third week. After that I'll taper for two weeks into the Badger Mountain Challenge 100.