Monthly Archives: July 2012
Another spur of the moment adventure for the kid and I. When the windows of opportunity open up, we have been jumping through them with boots on and packs loaded.
This time it was a late Thursday departure to take advantage of the final day of vacation. We spent most of Thursday cleaning house and garage, then threw our supplies in the car and bolted for the hills. Destination, Quandary Peak.
Despite this being one of the more accessible 14ers, I hadn’t been up it yet. Malcolm had summited the previous month and we agreed that it would be a good candidate for a night outing with a very straightforward approach and no real difficulties to deal with other than the usual incline and altitude components.
We got started a little after 7:00 and took our time, getting to the summit a just after dark, then making it back to the car at half-past midnight. I hauled the camera along and was glad I did. We ran into a large herd of goats about halfway up, and having the place entirely to ourselves, spent quite a while observing them and taking pictures. They put on quite a show.
We hung out on the summit for a good 30 minutes or so. The weather was nice, but I got pretty cold up there and was glad to start hiking again to build up some heat so I could stop shivering.
Our plan to raid Taco Bell on the way through Frisco proved misguided as they were closed. 4th meal, whatever. Instead we scavenged what we could at 7-11 and got back on the road to Leadville, finally dumping our bags on the ground a little after 2AM (right on the LT100 course no less). It was a stellar night for sleeping out and I actually caught a Z or two unlike our last trip. I told Malcolm that if asked, we weren’t camping, we were taking a nap.
The eyes cracked open just after 05:00 in time to take in a sweet, but very rapid explosion of pink over the mountains.
We stumbled around for a bit and then hopped in the car for the short drive up to the Mount Massive trailhead. Our legs appreciated the gradual approach along the Colorado Trail for the first few miles before the real work began.
After some time, we finally broke free of the forest and could see our objective. This is a big mountain!
We didn’t push too hard, taking time to check out marmots, moths, and butterflies.
The view from the summit was impressive, with row after row of mountains marching off into the distance. We nicknamed this the mountain hatchery. It looked like some sort of giant peak nursery.
The trip down was long, but uneventful. We were both feeling the miles and lack of sleep, but happy to be up in the mountains for the day. We spotted a cool cloud that was giving off a rainbow reflection and it was a great ending to a great trip.
After a year and a half of including a ‘pic of the week’ at the end of my weekly training summary, I’ve decided to let it stand as a post of its own. I’m also implementing a rule that the Friday Foto needs to have been taken sometime in the last week. No recycling. I am doing this to keep me engaged in building my photography skills, and to make me work harder to get fresh shots. Click here to see my previous Friday Foto posts.
This is a typical July scene in the Denver suburbs. The afternoon thunderstorm has rumbled through, and the skies have cleared again. Lightning continues to flash on the eastern horizon as the clouds move over the plains.
I showed up early for a night ride with some guys from work and hauled my camera gear 6 miles to a good vantage point for the sunset. Then I met the group at 9:00 and we rode until 11:00. It was a great way to spend a Wednesday night!
Being primarily a trail/ultra guy, I only race on the road once or twice a year. I actually quite like it, and wish I could do more, but choose to invest the bulk of my time and effort in running mountainous trails because I like doing that best. Plus, it would be a crime not to – living in CO and all.
About 2 weeks before a trip to Utah, I started scanning some race calendars and spotted the Hobbler Half Marathon. Score! This race would be taking place only a mile from where I would be staying.
I tentatively planned on giving it a go, but didn’t actually register until the evening before the race. That gave me roughly 10 days to train with any specificity. My running over the last 2 months has sucked, to put it bluntly. I stuck with it, though – grinding along from one day to the next knowing that staying consistent and keeping a solid base would be critical for the future.
I ended up doing 3 interval workouts in that 10 day period, with repeats ranging from .5 to 2 miles. On one of the 2 mile repeats one day, I couldn’t even hold the pace I had previously run for an entire marathon. Not particularly encouraging to say the least… I also did 2 x 8 mile tempo runs in the 7:20-7:40 pace range. The final one was on Wednesday prior to the Saturday race and ended up being a huge confidence boost because I felt great. Things were finally falling into place.
I’m taking the time to give this background to illustrate that even just a tiny amount of specific training can go a very long way. Especially when you have a good base to start from. These workouts were essentially the only ‘fast’ running I’ve done since last September. Back then I did a similar 2 week focus for a 5K race using my post-Leadville 100 fitness and was able to run a PR.
I have found that it is one thing to be fit, but that alone won’t get you far (I know I’m slow in the larger scheme of things, just trying to illustrate what can be done with this old man’s body). What really helps is working to improve the neuromuscular coordination that it takes to run at a faster pace, and to be able to do so efficiently. That’s what my limited workouts were targeted at developing (or at least shaking some of the rust loose).
Half marathons have been my most frequently raced non-trail distance, mostly because of the great event put on in Pueblo every December. Very reasonable price and it has usually fit into my schedule very well. I’ve enjoyed a nice progression over the past few years with times of 1:41, 1:37, 1:34, 1:31.
Given that background, I thought my A+ goal would be to break 90 minutes for the first time, and to hopefully finish in the top-20 (out of over 700 starters).
It was a super early wakeup to get to the staging area and loaded on a bus for transport to the start line. As we rode along in the darkness, I looked up at the sky and saw two planets (Venus & Jupiter) plus a bright star all arranged in a perfect line from top to bottom. I took this as a good sign!
The race report itself isn’t that long – I ran smart and conservative. I took in a gel at miles 4 and 8. I stopped for water at 2 aid stations as it was a hot day and I wanted to make sure and get some fluids in me without spilling everywhere on the run.
I was steadily passed in the early miles before reaching a sort of equilibrium, and then picking people off until the end. I passed 5 people over the final mile and the next finisher ahead of me was over a minute away so I feel I did everything I could at the end of the race to secure my placing.
I ended up in 19th place overall with a time of 1:29:30. Barely, but still solidly, meeting both goals. It was one of my most satisfying race efforts. I struggled a little over the final two miles, but felt like a machine for the rest.
I’m very happy with my even pacing. That was my key to success. My fastest mile was a 6:37, which was only 10 seconds faster than my average over the entire race distance. I showed some good restraint early and then held pace to the end. A+
I think I could go a fair bit faster given some more specific training, mostly to work on the quick light efficient stride, but I’ll bask in this one for a while and head back to the 10 min/miles of life on the trails.