Sunday, March 25, 2012

Week ending Mar 25

Monday: Off. Resting my legs from March Madness on Sunday. Eating a lot. Thankfully nothing is sore or stiff!

Tuesday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain; 4 miles, Foothills trail, 1000ft of gain. It was slow going in the morning, and was rather cold which surprised me, but otherwise everything felt pretty good. The bike to work was painfully slow - maybe Sunday caught up to me after the morning run? The afternoon run up to the big A was pretty fast, and I'm hoping to transition to some speed/tempo work as the taper progresses. My ideal is to drop mileage, not reduce the number of runs too much, but increase intensity.

Wednesday: 8 miles, Foothills trail and Maxwell, 1500ft of gain. Felt a little stiff, and not wanting to take any risks I'd normally take, I added a little out-and-back toward Dixon Reservoir to warm up before tackling the first climb. Today was slow going.

Thursday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain. I think the fatigue from Sunday has worn off. I felt really light on my feet on all of the climbs and my downhill form has gotten very fluid. That's the other "big" thing to focus on in the coming week-and-a-half: form. The difference between a fluid, effortless gait and the ultrarunner's waddle is the difference between sustaining an overuse injury during a race and between hurting on the downhills or feeling your best.

Friday: Off. Feeling rested.

Saturday: 12 miles, Lory State Park, 2500ft of gain. Starting at the Timber trailhead, I did the West Valley-Mill Creek Connector-Mill Creek out and back-Howard-Timber route. Basically a big loop around Lory with an out-and-back on Mill Creek. Have I mentioned before how much I love Timber trail? The weather was perfect, as well, in the low-60's, which is what the high should be on race day.

 Arthur's Rock from Howard trail.

Timber trail weaving along the contours. You can get up to some insane speeds here.

Sunday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain. The usual out-and-back, somewhat modified to include the rockiest trails. It was in the high 30's but I went out with shorts and armbands, which is what I plan to wear from the start at Badger (the low is supposed to be 40 or so). I used to wear a long-sleeve or thermal top on these cool mornings but I felt much better starting a bit cold. I also went sockless today, as I've started doing on a number of my runs, and the running feels much

Mileage: 48 miles
Elevation gain:  9,500ft

At less than half of last week's mileage, this week was very relaxed - and I think back to a year ago when a 50 mile week would feel like work. I've only got 2-3 runs left until Badger. I figure I'll make one a tempo workout to maintain my form and speed, and use the others as gentle shake-out runs to keep everything loose.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Week ending Mar 18

Monday: 12 miles, Foothills trail and Reservoir Ridge, 2500ft of gain; 4 miles, Foothills trail, 1000ft of gain. With the DST switchover, I needed to bust out the headlamp on the morning run. Caught the sunrise on top of Reservoir Ridge before heading back. Despite the near pitch-darkness at the start of the run, I barely lost any time navigating the trail - maybe I've memorized the positions of all the rocks. The afternoon run was a quick jaunt up to the top of the "Big A"; did the uphill as a tempo run and cruised on the way down. Beautiful weather this week - it's a good time to be at peak mileage!

Tuesday: 12 miles, Foothills trail and Reservoir Ridge, 2500ft of gain. East of the ridge, on the hillside and the Plains, it was hovering in the mid-30's; immediately upon crossing the top of the ridge toward the reservoir, I was plunged into the mid-50's! Talk about cold-pooling. I think I set a new record for this route, which I'm sure I'm bound to do as I continue to repeat it and get more comfortable with the gnarly downhills north of Laporte on the Foothills trail.

Wednesday: 12 miles, Foothills trail and Reservoir Ridge, 2500ft of gain; 4 miles, Foothills trail, 1000ft of gain. Saw Pete Stevenson and some other runners on the Foothills trail by the beach, but otherwise it was another empty morning at RR. More cold pooling on the East side of the ridge, although it was closer to the high-30's and not quite as warm as yesterday on the top of the ridge. Went on the second run at noon up to the big A; it was pushing 70 and the sun was strong, but the breeze made it really comfortable. Knees feel very good right now after a strict icing regimen.

Thursday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain. Felt in a bit of a funk this morning, probably from a lack of sleep; Wednesday was a long day, with a lot of work, a family emergency, and such. I was impaired enough from my lethargy that I tripped over more rocks than I'd like to admit. Today and the next day are "recovery" from the previous three days' mileage. Saturday I'll go up and scout the trails between Horsetooth and Arthur's Rock to decide whether I'll need to bring microspikes for Sunday's March Madness Mileage 34+ miler with some of the FCTR crew.

Friday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1000ft of gain. Dealt with some soreness in my right foot; I can feel some muscle pain anterior to the big toe and in the flexor hallucis longus on dorsiflexion. That sounds like my shoes are too tight, so I loosened everything up considerably and took it easy today.

Saturday: 9 miles, Lory State Park and a bit of Horsetooth, 2500ft of gain. Went up to tag Arthur's Rock, then crossed over and tagged the top of Towers via Mill Creek. It was a perfect morning and the trails were virtually empty. I came across a pack of wild turkeys at the Arthur's Rock/Timber intersection that stood their ground as I passed (they usually scatter). Mill Creek was great - mostly clear of snow with no mud. The foot soreness was gone, so I'm really looking forward to tomorrow.

Sunday: 37 miles, 6500ft of gain, Horsetooth Reservoir/Horsetooth Mountain/Lory State Park/March Madness Mileage circumnavigation. Best training run ever. I started with the 7AM group at Alex's house just off W CO Rd 34E (Harmony Road). We climbed up to Horsetooth Reservoir, followed the road to the Blue Sky Trail, and made our way to Horsetooth Trailhead via Towers/Stout/Horsetooth Falls trails. We took it real easy on the way to Horsetooth, which put in me in good condition for the climb.

As we started our climb up Southridge we saw Nick and the rest of the "elite without elite attitude" crew coming into the trailhead. I decided to start pushing it on the climb up Southridge and Audra Culver on the way to tagging the top of Horsetooth Rock. Sam and I were the first to tag Horsetooth and we cruised at a really good clip over to Arthur's Rock via Westridge/Top of Towers/Mill Creek/Howard.

Sam and me heading down from Horsetooth Rock - photo evidence by Rob.

I've never run Timber before, but it is now my favorite trail in either park. The switchbacks and steep descents over the first mile or so reminded me of the White River 50 and running in the Cascades - must have been the smell of pine needles baking in the sun and the panoramic views through the foliage. I had been running alone since the start of Howard, but I saw Sam pull in to the Lory visitor center after I took time to refill on water. I opened up my stride on the rolling hills of Lodgepole Drive, knowing that the Foothills trail on the east side of the reservoir would slow me down.

At the last minute, I convinced myself to tag the top of Reservoir Ridge. I took the northern detour up the west side of the Reservoir Ridge loop and then bushwhacked it over thick grass and scree to the summit, which was damn windy! I run the Reservoir Ridge/Foothills trail 5-7 times per week, so I was now on familiar territory and shredded the hills paralleling Centennial Drive. As I started the descent into the Maxwell Open Space, I thought, "the hard stuff is over!"

Hardly. The headwind was gusting high enough that I was getting sprayed by the whitecaps at the north end of Dixon Reservoir. Add in a few waves of dust and leaves, and I very quickly decided that the best thing to do was finish as fast as possible. The last two miles, despite the environmental conditions, were fantastic, mostly because I was minutes away from knocking back a few beers.

I found that the best combination of "runner" food that doesn't leave a sickly-sweet taste in my mouth and goes down easy is Clif Shot Blox and Ensure. Geriatric nutritional drinks as ultra fuel - it's more likely than you think.

Thanks to Alex for hosting this indulgent running extravaganza, and for everyone who came out to celebrate the melting of the snow on Horsetooth by knocking out more miles than most people run in a week.

Pictures from the start and post-run endorphins lounge:

Profile view of the run:

Weekly totals:
Mileage: 106 miles
Elevation gain: 21,000ft

This was the highest mileage training week I've ever put in, and it felt awesome. My performance at Hagg Lake and the intense training volume I've put in,  especially at the March Madness run, has given me a lot of confidence going into Badger.

Time to taper.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Week ending Mar 10

Sunday: Off. Strength-training and stretching for my hips, glutes, and quads. After upping my mileage, my appetite on off-days is still voracious...which is fine by me. One of the better perks to running a lot: you get to eat all the time.

Monday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 2000ft of gain; 6 miles, Foothills trail, 1000ft of gain. Spring has arrived - this was the first morning run that I ditched the thermal pants for a pair of shorts. The morning run was a wee sluggish on the climb up to the ridge. I think that's just what happens when I take a day off, now. Second run of the day was incredibly fast, despite having to dodge about 20 mountain bikes and plenty of other runners. Just like Seattle, when the weather improves everyone hits the trails.

Tuesday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain; 4 miles, Foothills trail, 1000ft of gain. Did an out-and-back on the rolling trail to the north dam, rather than dropping down to Laporte Ave. Despite feeling slow and a little stiff in the calves and hips, I set another record for this route; since last Fall, I've managed to shave 8 minutes off this run. The trails were crowded with bikers and other runners in the afternoon, and for good reason: temperatures were in the low 70's!

Wednesday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain; 4 miles, Foothills trail, 1000ft of gain. I'm seeing a pattern emerge with the daily mileage - probably time to mix things up. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the high humidity, light mist, occasional snow flurries, and moderate temperature this morning - it smelled and felt like Seattle (maybe that didn't come out right). I was relaxed and a bit spaced out on the second run as I just finished a midterm earlier in the day - Kelvin wave dynamics, dispersion relations, and baroclinic growth models danced in my head.

Thursday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain; 4 miles, Foothills trail 1000ft of gain. Caught the sunrise on a very early run. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I guess), I was preoccupied with a particular derivation on the midterm, thought about it more on the run, and fixed it before turning it in. I knew I nailed it, so I went for a celebratory run at noon in the beautiful weather.

Friday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain. Just chilling out today in preparation for tomorrow. I took it extra easy on the run; two flights of beer and an avocado sandwich at the Mayor for my pre-long run dinner.

Saturday: 26 miles, Horsetooth Mountain and Lory State Park, 5500ft of gain. You know it's Spring when you can start a long run (in the cold-pooled air at the base, no less) in shorts and a light, long-sleeve top. It was already above freezing an hour into the run, which meant one thing - a very muddy experience in the meadows on the west side of the mountain. All of that frozen mud, churned by horse hooves and bike tires, started to get sticky in the intense sun. After returning to the start of the south ridge trail from the 21 mile out-and-back, I headed up South Ridge for an out-and-back to the top of Horsetooth. Nutrition was 40oz of water and a Honey Stinger. If I haven't written about it before, my strategy with long run nutrition is to eat the minimum calories necessary to get through the run without bonking, the idea being that it's a major training stimulus for my body to conserve glycogen and water.

 A clear shot of Long's Peak in the distance from the start of Spring Creek trail.

Still a good bit of snow above 6500ft.

Weekly totals
Mileage:  84 miles
Elevation gain: 17,500ft

I feel really good at this mileage. I've got some transient knee soreness that seems to have ebbed by the end of the week - a touch of runner's knee from ramping up the mileage, I think. Ice bathing has definitely had a hand in speeding my recovery. While the first 5-10 minutes of my morning runs feel sluggish, and I often feel like I'm running in slow-motion, I've somehow managed to increase my speed on training runs. 

Next week I'll extend my morning runs to 10-12 miles, while keeping the afternoon runs short and fast. My philosophy with two-a-days is not that you need to try to make the runs even length or effort - the point is that you're putting the body in running mode every 6-12 hours. Not only that, but I get two different workouts: a "longer" run that is aerobic in nature, and a tempo run to keep my speed and form in check.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Week ending Mar 3

Sunday: 12 miles, Foothills trail and Reservoir Ridge, 2500ft of gain. Since I didn't do a long run yesterday, I decided to get a head-start on this week's mileage with a relaxed morning run on the hogbacks above Fort Collins. I had to bust out my light wind jacket and some ear warmers to shield me from the brisk northerly winds. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the sun was especially strong, painting the snow-covered foothills pink and orange at sunrise.

Monday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain; 4 miles, Centennial Drive, 1000ft of gain. Cranked out a very early run this morning to enjoy the transition from nighttime to twilight to sunrise, something I miss from deep winter around here. I'm happy that we'll be springing forward soon, so I can enjoy the sunrise at a more reasonable time. Second run of the day was my evening road run up to the reservoir dam, this time in Vibram Sprints. I'd like to start reincorporating these ultra-minimalist shoes into my schedule on my road runs, just to keep my form in check. The downhill on Dixon Canyon felt a little wonky in Vibrams - just going to have to get comfortable with them again.

Tuesday: Off. Strengthening exercises and lots of self-massage today.

Wednesday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain; 5 miles, Foothills trail, 1000ft of gain. A morning with temperatures above freezing? Spring seems to have arrived. I felt energized on this morning's run so I knocked it out about 4 minutes faster than normal - although most of that was on the ascent. Second run of the day was pretty fast for the terrain, at just under 7:00/mile. It was a really warm day, so for the first time in a long time, I shared the trail with 10 mountain bikers and a host of runners and hikers. Left knee felt a little hot and tweaky while I was sitting at the desk today - classic runner's knee. Spent the night icing, massaging, and stretching.

Thursday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain. Gusty northerly winds made 30 degrees feel more like 20, and slowed me down quite a bit on the outbound leg of the run, though the wind wasn't enough to make whitecaps on the reservoir. Left knee still has that faint, dull soreness, so I iced the hell out of it afterward. It didn't feel irritated while I was at my desk, so it looks like it might be on its way out.

Friday: 8 miles, Foothills trail, 1500ft of gain. Knee didn't feel sore during or after the run today - either it was runner's knee nipped in the bud, or some leftover damage from Hagg. Anyway, I ran another "record time" for this particular loop today. I'm finally getting to the point where I'm not groggy at the start of these morning runs.

Saturday: 24 miles, Horsetooth Mountain and Lory State Park, 5000ft of gain. Starting at the Horsetooth Mountain trailhead, I went to the top of Towers via Spring Creek, descended Towers and did an out-and-back in the valley to the northern edge of Lory, came back up Towers and took Stout to Horsetooth Falls, and then went back up (and down) Horsetooth Mountain via the South Ridge fire road. That last climb up Horsetooth, which I thought would burn me out, was fast. Total intake: 1 Gu, 30oz. water, 2 salt caps.

 The strikingly-red hogbacks in the meadows.

 Frozen mud - 13 degrees will do that!

 Long's Peak with a cap cloud in the distance from Stout trail.

Some interesting clouds forming around the jet stream - palm leaves, insect wings?

Mileage: 76
Elevation gain: 15,500ft