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.


  1. It was great to meet you on Sunday Nick. I'm glad you came out and we hope to see you on Thursday for Towers.

    1. Alex, it was a lot of fun. Thank you for hosting!

      I've got meetings and dinner tonight with a prospective student, so I'm not going to make it. If I'm not too trashed after my race I'll be sure to come out for the next one.