Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April 17 - April 24

4/17, Monday - AM: Easy - 7 miles, 0:55 || PM: Green Mtn - 6 miles, 2500', 1:43
Easy morning shakeout with Abby and Jackson with a mile or so by chance with Jack on Apache Rd followed by a Green summit with RMR in the evening

4/18, Tuesday - 1st Flatiron, Green Mtn, 2nd Flatiron - 7 miles, 3700', 2:14
My scrambling form is still properly terrible so it was another slow ramble up the 1st to tag Green. Downclimbed the 2nd Flatiron until I met Abby just at the main rib then turned around and finished the route with her. We then sprinted back down towards the Salomon Run but couldn't quite catch up.

4/19, Wednesday - Bike: Eldorado Canyon
I've been itching to get back into Eldo so despite the wind I hoped I could find something sheltered enough. The ride there took forever with the oppressive headwind putting me in my lowest gears just to get down hills. I made a few moves up Boulder Direct then surmised it was neither fun nor safe so I just rode back home.

4/20, Thursday - Independence Monument - 7 miles, 1500', 6:09
On the way out to the desert we stopped to check out Independence Monument, a proud tower of sandstone just outside of Grand Junction. I took the first lead but we accidentally started up "Geezer Highway" instead of "Otto's Route", the latter being much safer and easier. After carefully getting to an anchor of a fixed nut and an angle I had to leave a locking biner on the webbing to be lowered back to the ground. We then found the start of Otto's and started up. The first two pitches were straightforward, but the third really gave me hell. It was a tough move to make, especially with a backpack with an extra rope (for rappel) and a double rack (totally unnecessary). Eventually, I just tried harder and made it through. The next pitch was 4th class followed by a short section of bolts to a big ledge leading to the summit pitch. On lead, I got to within 5ft of the top but couldn't manage the last move. The combination of too much weight, really cold and strong winds and lack of strength was too much for me. Abby, freezing on the belay ledge was especially cold standing still in the wind. She lowered me back down then we made two rappels to the ground, the final a full 70 meters using both ropes! Super cool even if we didn't make the top.
Independence Monument

Abby on the final rap back to the ground
4/21, Friday - Pothole Arch - 13 miles, 2700', 3:49
After a late night of scavenging for one open campsite we were excited to get out for a run rather than drive around the city in the dark looking for vacant sites. I did this loop once before and really liked it. Starting from Kane Creek we ran along the Colorado River for a ways before angling straight up onto some slickrock to Pothole Arch. Next was a short section of trail before joining a 4x4 road which would loop us back to our car. Just as we were joining the road however, I noticed the car key had fallen out of my pocket! We turned back around and steadily searched our prior path. Having found nothing all the way back to Pothole Arch and knowing there wasn't cell service at the lot we used this blip of service to call AAA to send a tow truck so we could at least get back to town. By the grace of the heavens on the remainder of trail back to the car I spotted the key at the bottom of an especially steep hill I had ran down earlier. We should have expected it there, it was by far the most likely place it could have been!
On top of Pothole Arch

Abby looking back towards where we started and the La Sal's
4/22, Saturday - Canyolands NP - 26 miles, 4300', 6:15
This was the big one for the weekend. Last year I did a similar loop but had my knee lock up halfway and had to limp 9 miles back to the car without bending the joint. This time -- feeling generally healthy -- we planned a larger route to truly circumnavigate the park. Starting from Squaw Flat TH we first went around Lost Canyon for the long way to the Druid Arch out and back. Although a bit longer, this canyon is not to be missed; the whole route is in the depths of the lush canyon or up above on the slickrock bluffs with views of the Needles and La Sal Mountains. Getting to Druid Arch I remembered as a long sandy slog, but with a functioning ITB it wasn't too bad at all, and the views were tremendous! From Druid Arch we took the Joint Trail to Devil's Kitchen, a meadow between striking needles that is way more runnable than most of the trails -- but still quite sandy. Totally exposed to the desert sun, Abby began to feel pretty dehydrated. I've learned I really don't need that much water so I happily handed over the majority of my remaining water. The final section back to Squaw Flat is much longer than you'd think it is and can be difficult to truly appreciate while dehydrated and 5 hours into the day. Luckily, the parking lot sort of surprises you when you get close. Fantastic route that should be on everyone's list!
Lost Canyon

Druid Arch

Devil's Kitchen
4/23, Sunday - Wall Street Climbing - 2:30
For our final day in the desert we went down to Wall Street to clip some bolts before driving home. First we hopped on a random slab route that looked moderate so Abby could get back to leading. It turned out to be a rather slick 5.9, Stego Slab. We then traveled a bit further down the road and found the actual moderates to get Abby's head back into leading. She first lead "Chocolate Chunk", a 5.3 that she could easily solo but got could practice clipping on lead. Next she lead Yogini, a 5.7+, I was happy to see her moving confidently on the rock again! Last, I put the rope up on Banana Peel, 5.10a; after taking a few tries to get the starting moves I was able to clean the route. Abby, hesitant to start up the route found the start similarly difficult but was able to efficiently move through the rest of the route really well and was showing great trust in her feet (something I think has been holding her back). With a fine route under are belts we were happy to call the weekend in the desert to a close!
Stego Slab
Week Totals:
65 miles

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 10 - April 15

4/10, Monday - AM: 6 x mile - 11 miles, 500', 1:24 - PM: Streets - 6 miles, 200', 0:45
Jackson met at my house early then after we both took full advantage of access to a flush toilet we warmed up over to Marshall Road. Jackson wanted to do some form drills first, which I was happy to do -- I should probably be doing this 3-4 times a week anyways, rather than zero. For the odd reps it was down and even were up, the miles were split 5:26, 5:41, 5:16, 5:51, 5:32, 5:52. The ups were really tough and I may have over extended my abilities on the third rep. Regardless, I was essentially just trying to stay on Jackson's tail the whole time! Went out for another cruise in the afternoon by doing two laps of the CU-XC course in opposite directions.

4/11, Tuesday - AM: Flagstaff-Poormans - 13 miles, 2400', 1:58
From Abby's starting at 5:40AM with a headlamp I jogged up Flagstaff Mountain to descend Chapman Drive. As I continued down Boulder Canyon then up Fourmile Canyon towards Poormans Dr it was pretty cold on the western aspects which were sheltered from the rising sun. I happily met the sun at the top of Poormans and jogged down Seven Hills Rd for a soft surface then joined the standard Sunset Canyon trail back to town. Easy Salomon Run Club in the evening.

4/12, Wednesday - Flagstaff Loop - 9 miles, 1900', 1:40
Felt pretty tired today so I kept it really easy. After running up Viewpoint and down to Gregory Canyon, I hiked basically the whole way up that then slowly jogged down Chapman Dr back home. The views of the full moon setting over the alpenglow of the Indian Peaks is pretty spectacular from Chapman Dr, which I have to believe why I gravitated towards it again today.

4/13, Thursday - Bear Pk - 10 miles, 3900', 1:57
I met Len at his place ~0.5 miles from the TH then we jogged to the Cragmoor trailhead. I could tell on the warm up that the workout we had planned of tempo-ing the ascent would be rough but committed myself to the effort even if my time was slow. The first 1.5 miles or so are on a super runnable and low graded path so you should be able to run pretty hard, but I couldn't quite get my legs to respond properly. I was relieved to get the base of fern, hastily shed my coat and start the power hiking. Len put a huge gap on me on the running section but I was able to close a bit to the summit. I summitted in 41:10 (Len in 40:56) -- a PR, but I know I can take literal minutes off of that time which encourages me to go for the sub-hour round trip (FKT of 0:55 by Dave Mackey). We took it real easy heading down but I realized I left my coat at the base of Fern Canyon so I had to jog all the way back up from the TH to retrieve that. Oh well, an extended warm down in that beautiful morning weather was nothing to complain about.

4/14, Friday - Bear Pk x 3 - 9 miles, 6000', 2:54
Started from Cragmoor with Nick with the heat beating down hard. We were excited to get off the long approach from Shanahan ridge which is far more exposed to the sun and into the cooler temps of Fern Canyon. I split each lap pretty evenly just under 30min with Nick a bit behind each time. Started to cramp up a bit in the heat on the way back to the TH; the bike cruise back downhill felt amazing!

4/15, Saturday - Jurassic Park Climbing - 1000', 3:57
Abby and I camped in the Park then realized a certain harness was forgotten so had to drive all the way back to Boulder and back to Lily Lake (which was otherwise ~15min from our campsite). First up, was the mega-classic "The Edge of Time" (pictured below) which we somehow got onto before a long queue formed behind us. Being a 5.9 sport climb I thought it would be total cake but it was put up in 1960-something by Layton Korr, so its a legit 9. Thin face climbing with a good bit of runnout climbing for a bolted line. Abby followed and we then went over to "Middle Toe" where I lead the route and set up the TR for Abby then in order to clean the route I TR'ed "Copradelite", a really cool, thin and balancy face climb. Once I cleaned that anchor and was lowered we hoofed it back to the car and Estes for some snacks!

A post shared by abby mitchell (@abigail_km) on

4/16, Sunday - Poormans/Betasso/Green Mtn - 22 miles, 4700', 3:13
Got a leisurely start to Easter morning with a side by side comparison of a pour-over and an Aeropress coffee, I prefer the Aeropress. Kept a steady effort up Sunshine and down Poormans then dodged dozens of cyclists enjoying pristine weather in the Betasso Preserve. Technically foot traffic has the right of way, but its best to step out of the way -- you don't want to get hit by a bike. After a quick descent into Boulder Canyon I stared down the crucible of the day: Green via Chapman Dr. The ascent is 4 miles with 2300ft of gain; its not horrible but I wanted to run every step -- which is oddly slower than strategically hiking certain sections, and why I've never ran every step of Green before. I made it to the top without then turned right around to retake my CR down Long Canyon on the way back home. Pretty happy with the pace (8:45min/mi) on this longer effort over pretty hilly terrain.

Week Totals:

85 miles

45 miles

I'm happy to have a high volume week heading into the last training block before Quad Rock 25. The weather is incredible right now too, which lead to the fantastic day of climbing on Saturday. Excited for racing, climbing and long days in the mountains!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

April 3 - April 9

4/3, Monday - Easy - 5 miles, 0:41, 500'
Easy jog with Jack around the XC course and along the streets.

4/4, Tuesday - Off
No time to run.

4/5, Wednesday - Off
Same as yesterday.

4/6, Thursday - Mt Pennel - 5 miles, 4100', 2:18
Elliot drove the dirt road until stopped by a fallen tree across the road where we continued upwards on foot. If I was driving we would have stopped a mile sooner -- I hate driving, especially on 4WD roads. Last time I attempted this peak in March, 2015 the road was a postholing nightmare laden with icy crust. So, this time I was determined to not only bag the summit but also avoid the miseries of the standard trail. The southeast ridge looked the most dry and accessible from our position so we trudged up the remarkably steep dirt for a ways. Having started after driving all the way from Boulder daylight wasn't guarenteed so 1,000ft below the summit Elliot turned around while I blitzed up to tag the summit. It was cold and very windy which made sense when the summit marker read 11,371ft. A vast pallete of colors extended into the distance; an expanse of red desert, dark brown canyons and the other isolated peaks of the southern Henry Range. The descent was a bit bumbly and uncoordinated at first -- really, just trying to get warm before I could enjoy anything. Eventually, I eyed a perfect looking gully filled with snow. I was even more delighted to see Elliot's footsteps shoe skiing all the way to the bottom where it met the road. The snow was perfect for glissading and soon I met Elliot back at the car with proper stoke in the dying evening light.

Summit Selfie.

Views to the South

Icy crust for the last ~700ft or so cuts the shins. Tis the season!

4/7, Friday - Bike: Blue Notch Rd - 35 miles, 4600', 4:56

This was the big one for Elliot, and since he wonderfully and irrationally signed up for the Dirty 30 (his current longest run being 7 miles!) it was time to put him in the pain cave. First up is gaining the "notch" from the highway, a moderate 700ft climb. Elliot encountered some mechanical issues that we sorted out on top then enjoyed net downhill but rolling route through canyons and washes to the waters of Lake Powell. The water looked gross and it wasn't particularly warm so we opted not to take a dip. Now the fun starts: back up to the notch its a 2,000ft climb but the road winds and rolls so you really don't gain a whole lot of vert until the last couple miles. This was tough on Elliot. Tough for me too, though, the final climb had me out of the saddle just to get the wheels to move up the steep incline. Finally we crested back to the notch and enjoyed the final descent to the car.

Typical section of road.

Elliot at Lake Powell
Stealtha laying down for a rest just below the notch.

Elliot topping out on the homeward bound push!

4/8, Saturday - Navajo Knobs - 9 miles, 3500', 2:49
For our final day in the desert we found ourselves conveniently proximal to Capitol Reef NP so we checked it out. In retrospect, we should have done Spring Canyon, stashing the bikes at the other end, but oh well. Instead we chose the Navajo Knobs purely as my executive decision as it was the longest and steepest route listed on the park trail map. The trail followed the canyon rim passing a viewpoint for the Hickman Bridge among other views until it topped out at a relative high point. The wind was really slamming up top so we turned right back around. Jogged some of the descent and evaded a light rain storm.


More Reefs

Capitol Dome (I think?)
Views were great.

Finishing back to the road.
4/9, Sunday - 1st Flatiron + Green Mtn - 5 miles, 2800', 1:25
After arriving home very late I met Kyle at a belated start for an easy lap of his hill (he is now at 102 or so summits for 2017). I went annoyingly slow up the first as I elected to wear speedcross which are perfect for trail and off trail days but decidedly terrible for scrambling due to their lug pattern. Got a call from Abby at the Saddle Rock junction while descending that she finished 2nd in the Austin Rattler 66k (2nd only to Michele Yates) and is headed to Leadville! Super psyched.

Week Totals (running):
25 miles

Week Totals (biking):
59 miles

A descent down-week of mixed activities and a fantastic little trip to the desert with Elliot to bag a couple peaks and enjoy some biking. Excited to get back in gear and running next week!

Monday, April 3, 2017

March 13 - April 2

3/13, Monday - Green Mountain - 6 miles, 3000', 1:12
34:31 up, 14:42 down, 49:43 round-trip
Last year, Ryan Smith put up a time that I believe will stand as the fastest round-trip time for many years to come and he did it on an icy slick trail in microspikes. Ouch. I've never really been able to execute a proper Green lap of my own. My ascent time was lowly, my descent time was outdated, obselete and inferior and my sole round trip under an hour was logged within a bike ride on Strava so it basically never happened. Arriving at Chautauqua, Kyle was just locking up his bike heading off to scramble so my warm-up was jogging a bit with him until our paths diverged. With my body warm I started my watch and hastily scurried up the trail. I really couldn't believe I ran as much as I did on the ascent, I didn't hike a step until the ladder -- unusual for me! Above the Greenman junction I felt my effort and willingness to suffer fading and I hiked more than I should have but made sure to actually run the top switchbacks. I topped out in 34:31 and immediately began barreling back down. The physical abuse of the downhill  (14:42 down) enabled me to sneak just under 50min (49:43).

3/14, Tuesday - Mt Sanitas - 4 miles, 1700', 0:59
Warmed up from Abby's house over Red Rocks then started the tempo from the bottom at the shelter. I felt yesterday's effort but no too much, getting up in 19:04. I was confident I could push another quality downhill to equalize my round trip time. I was descending at a quality pace until I rolled my ankle quite severely only a bit from the TH. I had to sit down for a moment before limping back to the TH (10:40 down, 29:44 RT) then slowly back home. The worst part of this was that it ended my RMR "Hell Week" prematurely. The goal was to time trial each of the 5 prominent peaks in 5 days, but I had to end at 2.

3/15, Wednesday - Off
Ankle very bad.

3/16, Thursday - Bike: Sunset-Switz-Lefthand-Old Stage - 54 miles, 5300', 4:21
With the ankle feeling good enough (thanks to Ginna) I was able to get out on the bike. I tried heading towards Sawmill road via Sunset-Switzerland Trail but got a bit lost on the out-dated section of the Switzerland trail past Gold Hill Rd and ended up hike-a-biking a good bit over snow banks and back up to Sawmill Road up some miserably loose scree. Cruised back down Lefthand Canyon and over Old Stage to get back to Boulder.

Sub-optimal biking conditions.

3/17, Friday - Off

More ankle rest.

3/18, Saturday - 1st, 2nd (x2), 1st Flatirons - 3 miles, 2200', 1:59
I planned on getting in a run in the morning, but an inconvenient forest fire just down the street from Abby's apartment (where we were staying) changed those plans. We were on the very edge of the evacuation zone and were awoken around 4AM by the police. Luckily it was taken care of promptly and completely. Anyways, I then got out for a little thing in the evening instead. I held a descent effort up the first then downclimbed Free For All until I met Kyle and Jackson on the Freeway and headed up with them. Kyle then showed us Baker's Way on the 1st. Its a cool 5.4 route that basically skips the difficulties of the lower slab. Easy jogging back down for the ankle.

The fire from Abby's doorstep

The fire from Flagstaff Mtn

Kyle on the 2nd

Jackson on the First

3/19, Sunday - 1st, 2nd (x2) Flatirons - 3 miles, 2100', 2:08
Same as yesterday but met Abby on the Freeway and skipped out on Baker's Way. Starting to feel more efficient going down Free For All.

Abby back scrambling -- for the first time since like October!?

Yegch, rough week. Started off great but the ankle roll clearly ruffled my feathers and prevented anything real for the rest of the week. Luckily, I was able to get in a good ride which didn't at all mess with my ankle and then Ginna was able to work on my ankle literal hours before she got on a plane to Europe for two weeks!


3/20, Monday - AM: Streets - 4 miles, 0:32 || PM: Bastille Crack - 600', 1:59
Easy morning jog then picked up Nick to take him to Eldo. This being his first time outside, I wanted to do Calypso-Reggae but it was taken. Instead we just moved over to the Bastille Crack for a fun moderate route -- probably my favorite route in Eldo.

Nick half way up the route

3/21, Tuesday - Hair City & Outer Space - 800', 2:21
Met Wade (who can climb about 4 or 5 times harder than I can) who lead everything. First up was Hair City a 5.9R with rather large 5.6-7 runnouts but protect-able when you want it. I felt fine and only had to hang once to get the rope un-stuck from a crack when my arms couldn't quite get it (just flopped on the rope with my body weight). Next was the -- or my, rather -- goal for the day, Outer Space is a 5.10b/c, just about my limit. Wade lead through the first two pitches of Bastille Crack only placing two pieces (draw on the bolted anchor then a draw on the old pin). We had to simul the lower bits but I was happy to have a proper belay for the try-hard first pitch of Outer Space. It was a tough stemming sequence that felt extremely steep; I was so happy to get it clean (barely) on my first time up, especially after still not cleaning Handcracker yet. We had to bail on the second pitch so he could catch a flight to Houston so we soloed the top 5.7 section of Hair City to top out quicker.

Wade romping up the Bastille Crack

3/22, Wednesday - Boulder Direct, Calypso, Wind Ridge, Zot/Rewritten - 1900', 3:44

Kyle got held up heading to Eldo so I did a fun scramble circuit before he arrived. We then headed for the Redgarden, a steep approach, I think. I lead up to the Red Ledge via the Great Zot in one long pitch with some simul climbing then Kyle lead the money pitches of Rewritten with again, some simul climbing. The main event took place jogging back down. Some Jerry looking fellows were off trail in the talus (its incredibly loose and steep), we asked them to stay on the trail then kept heading down. Not long after we heard rumblings and dove for cover; a rock the size of maybe a refrigerator was bouncing 20-30ft into the air going easily 30-40mph. With no warning shouts we were glad to have been out of harm's way but it was heading straight down switchbacks so we screamed out warnings. Thankfully no one was on the trail and it shot unimpeded into the creek like an artillery shell. Kyle shouted some "angry" words back at the guys who no doubt dislodged the ICBM of a rock then failed to say anything (not even sorry afterwards!), then we had to slowly walk back down since our legs were shaking!

3/23, Thursday - Bastille Crack - 600', 2:00
Another day in Eldo. Took Jackson up the Bastille for a wild ride. After leaving a cam he accidentally dropped his ATC at the belay of our second pitch. After some trials I figured out how to use the Munter-Hitch and was able to keep him safely still on belay to the top while he used my ATC.

3/24, Friday - Green Mtn - 7 miles, 2900', 1:19
Put in a tempo effort up the NE ridge of Green in 32:09, almost good enough to tie Kyle's PR up (but surely with 80 ascents thus far this year he should be good at it, right?). Jogged easy down the West Ridge-Long Canyon-Gregory Canyon route for more miles.

3/25, Saturday - 1st Flatiron, Green Mtn, Bear Pk, Green Mtn - 12 miles, 5400', 3:05
Started off with a casual ascent of the first -- lots of roped parties today -- then hiked up to Green. I continued straight over the top without stopping (the summit boulder has definitely become a hassle) and descended Bear Canyon to the drainage just NE of the Nebel Horn. The route up to the saddle is labeled "The Hardscrabble" in an old Boulder guidebook and I was excited to try it. It was a fantastically steep line, gaining 1800ft in just under a mile! I then had to endure the meandering route back over to Green with the Mesa Trail closure, which while annoying incurs a stronger running focus for the outing. Met Abby down at Chautauqua for a picnic dinner in the park!

The post-run scene at Chautauqua, preparing for the evening picnic at the park!

3/26, Sunday - Off

Week Totals:
59 miles

A generally easier week after letting my ankle recuperate but I was able to get in some descent efforts at the end of the week as the injury lessened.


3/27, Monday - Beark Pk, SoBo Pk, Walker Ranch, Green Mtn, Bear Pk - 17 miles, 7000', 4:12
This was a cool route. I started from the Cragmoor TH to ascend Bear and SoBo then descended straight west down SoBo's ridge to Walker Ranch where I could then connect via assorted and annoyingly only semi-legal routes to Flagstaff Rd. The ridge off of SoBo was wet in the shade and quite slippery at first, but I eventually identified an old and overgrown logging road where I could move much quicker. I descended Long Canyon then started up EMG for extra running before falling into a hike up Greenman to the summit of Green. Opted again for the re-routed Green-Bear trail for more running over to Bear Pk where I descended Fern Canyon back to my bike at the TH.

3/28, Tuesday - AM: Bobo - 7 miles, 300', 1:00 || PM: Streets - 8.5 miles, 400' 0:58
Easy with Abby in the morning feeling tired in the gloomy weather. We ended up on a trail so muddy that we were easily collecting a couple pounds of mud on our shoes before we escaped to the sanctuary of pavement. In the afternoon with the rain in full force I headed out once more to find some proper life in my legs. The impromptu progression run left me with a healthy mileage for the day and happy to be healthy!

3/29, Wednesday - Green Mtn - 8 miles, 2900', 1:44
With Kory, we both felt quit tired and thus ascended slowly; though Kory much quicker than I. The mountain was rainy and misty down low with icy decorations adorning the pine needles above the clouds on top. This atmosphere made descending a long route through Long Canyon back down particularly pretty as well as a fantastic day to use my Gore-Tex Speedcross 4's!

Low clouds along the canyons.

Kory dropping back into the clouds at the top of Long Canyon.
3/30, Thursday - 3 x 2miles - 12 miles, 400', 1:26
Met Len at the CU XC course for a good workout. We got in a 2.5 mile warmup and figured out that the loop was exactly 2 miles, which was properly convenient! I split 11:39, 11:44 and 11:48 repectively for the 2 mile intervals with a 5 minute jog between each. I felt pretty controlled at the 5:40 pace and hopefully will be able to execute a PR 5 mile tempo in the near future. Always good to push and suffer a bit.

3/31, Friday - Mt Sanitas - 4 miles, 1600', 0:56
Easy early lap of the youth sized hill. Being inside of a cloud with a headlamp really limits your visibility putting your head basically inside a light bulb of glowing mist. Easy effort up the ridge and down the valley.

4/1, Saturday - 2 x Green Mtn - 8 miles, 4700', 1:49
I wanted to do some repeats on Bear Pk from the saddle to the summit via Fern Canyon, but I forgot my bike lock key so instead I rode to the far less populated and visible Gregory Canyon TH then rolled the bike into the trees a ways to keep it hidden. Starting up the Amphitheater trail I felt descent and the cool temperatures combined with spectacular snow pack on the upper half of the mountain made me decide to go for a Green double in under 2 hours. I ended up splitting near identical splits for each lap -- 37min up, 17min down, 54min RT, twice -- letting me slip just under 1:50! Pretty psyched to blow away that goal.

4/2, Sunday - Creek Path - 18 miles, 400', 2:01
Got up real early so I could also have time for breakfast before work; thus, the first five or so miles were by headlamp. The goal was to get in a long run where I actually ran -- meaning that it wasn't some long mountain outing with a bunch of hiking and that I didn't just slowly trot out the miles. The morning was beautiful, a clear sky in the east gave a clear visual passage for the sunrise while low lying clouds along the frosted peaks to the west provided a mystical backdrop. I went out for an hour averaging 6:48min/mi and was determined to negative split my way back home. This was a pretty easy to gauge goal as it just meant getting back to the doorstep before the watch rolled over 2 hours. I made it back home in ~58:30 then did a short out and back up the street to round the run to 2 hours total, plus a minute, I suppose.

Week Totals:
84 miles

Good week plus about 60 miles/2700ft/4:30 of total commuting time on my bike left me pretty tired, but I can feel the fitness gained. Going under 40min used to be really hard for me up Green, now I can manage it handily two times in a row. Such is the benefit of a lot practice! I've been using TrainingPeaks annual training plan this year which has been generally prescribing the intensity, volume and timing of my workouts; next week however its saying to take a down week. Although this is something I don't usually take part in, I'm realizing the positive effects it can have physically and mentally, plus I'll be biking in the desert half of the next week so it'll make sense anyways. Five weeks till the Quad Rock 25 (B/C race goal) then three weeks after that the Dirty 30 (A. race goal)!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Longs Peak Winter Duathlon

I finally got my bike up and running after a huge mess of converting to tubeless by various methods on February 17. After a brief trip to Moab, I haven't driven my car since -- for me at least, this is a long time to go car-less and I'm quite proud! So, it made sense that when I saw a weather window for Longs Peak that aligned with a day off from work that it would have to be a go at a winter duathlon.

Looking haggard on Kieners during my previous/first/only LPT
The summer duathlon which has seemingly become more and more popular is now being followed by the next logical step of doing the duathlon in winter. Thus far, 3 people have summitted Longs self-powered from Boulder: Justin Simoni (19h46m), Tina Lewis (18h42m) and Anton Krupicka (8h51m). I had really hoped to get it done before Tony last year as I was certain I could go under 18 hours, but then Tony blew it out of the water on a beautiful day with a near untouchable time for me.

All times are measured from the Bus Stop strip club -- I know right -- on the northern edge of town where Broadway joins HW36 (though most people have to add on some miles given they don't live at a strip club). Given Abby's apartment is about 2.5 miles closer to that intersection than my house, and she made a rash decision (which I'm sure she later regretted) to wake up with me at 3:30AM and make me oatmeal it made the most sense to start from there. I slimmed down my pack to bare essentials which was:
  • Salomon X-ALP 20 backpack
  • Salomon XA Alpine running shoes
  • Bike shorts, insulating tight, windstopper tight
  • 2 pairs of Swiftwick socks
  • Insulating layer, Salomon Half-Zip, down coat, wind/water-proof jacket
  • 3 gels, 7 bars, 1 Hot Shot, 3 bottles of Tailwind (filled individually from creek as needed)
  • Balaclava, Salomon hat, buff, sunglasses
  • Suunto Ambit
  • Kyle's ice axe which is lighter and smaller than mine
  • Camp Stalker step-in crampons
  • "Holy-Hell-Its-Cold" caliber mittens, generally warm gloves
  • 2 luxurious handwarmer packs
  • Buncha lights so as to not get hit by cars
  • Bike
Pedaling out of town in the darkness, the roads were nearly vacant, especially outbound from Boulder. I made sure to bundle up right away, knowing full well that staying warm was going to be key if I had any chance of completion. Handwarmers in the gloves from the start I cruised into Lyons, 12 miles into the day and was already behind schedule due to an excessively cozy breakfast for the impending misery as well as, well, biking slowly. I stashed my bike behind a gas station and used their facilities. Walking back outside my feet were a touch cold.

The sky began to flicker with pinks and blues, the pedals kept turning and my feet kept getting colder. The climb up South St. Vrain is never particularly steep, but it is sustained and long. My mind felt drowsy, its normally asleep at that hour and my feet kept getting colder. At a certain point my feet didn't feel cold anymore, the sun had crept lower on the canyon walls with each bend of the road until I was just seeing my shadow along the shoulder of the road. I stopped briefly to grab a cliff bar; putting my feet on the ground, I didn't feel them at all. Well, that's sub-optimal. I had brought two small plastic bags (cheap Goretex, really) for the descent but figure the ascent wouldn't necessitate them. I pedaled on, reaching a moderately windy HW72, but the views into Wild Basin in the winter at sunrise are inspiring enough to forget about any petty incline or uncomfortable toes.

Stealtha at the trailhead
Its longer than I think to the turn-off for the Longs Peak TH, but I expected that to be the case. I decide to jog my bike up the last couple turns to the TH to get some blood moving into my toes, they are numb to just above my ankle. There wasn't much of a transition to be had to hiking mode, so it went quickly -- pausing only to down a gel. I immediately hop over the creek on a packed down shortcut trail and carefully fill two soft flasks already loaded with Tailwind powder. My legs feel surprisingly good after the 4 hours of riding, so I try jogging. Okay, not that good. Further shortcuts weren't yet broken so I opted to keep a quicker cadence on a packed trail, my feet have basically regained total feeling at this point.

Nice weather at timberline, summit in the background
Emerging from treeline, the snow beneath my feet is rock hard wind slab. I rarely break through the crust on the slog through Jim's Grove, across the standard trail and around Mount Lady Washington's shoulder. My plan of ascent is via the North Face -- the most direct line to the summit. It looks snowy and I remind myself that its okay to turn around if my gut tells me its not safe. Below the Cables dihedral is a large wind slab, I opt to circumvent this by traversing higher left towards Chasm View which puts me right at the base of the technical climbing. I don my crampons and axe and begin climbing. 

The cables route ascends the far left of the North Face, just before it tranistions into the Diamond.
The opening moves of any climb can seem daunting, its an abrupt transition from mobbing up a snow slope. The moves engage me physically and mentally. I don't feel vulnerable or scared, I'm certain in each movement whether I move onto rock or snow. the dihedral itself is choked with ice, but plenty of holds surround the typical summer hand and foot jams to allow a pleasant climb. The final move traversing around the low-angled dihedral corner puts me on dry rock, an odd feeling in crampons and certainly my technical crux. Pulling around the edge I'm now beyond the short technicalities of the day.

Snowfields on the upper North Face
Just below the summit, the snow dries up and I pause to remove my crampons but the feeling in my right hand prevents me from doing anything. I've heard of the "screaming barfies" and I've felt a painful rewarming in hands before, but this sensation completely overcame me. I couldn't use my other hand or think about anything else besides tolerating the fire burning inside my hand! Of course, it was only temporary and I used this forced break in the place of my summit break. I had a drink of Tailwind and a cliff bar and briefly removed my crampons. On the summit I walk straight to the top of the keyhole route and put my crampons back on.

The Keyhole is the peculiar rock feature on the right side of the ridge.
I had hoped to feel confident enough going up Cables to also downclimb them, but it didn't feel like the safest option so I opted for the contrived yet easy keyhole route. With plenty of snow I was able to march down relatively quickly in crampons all the way to the keyhole where I stashed the crampons and axe for good and semi-jogged across the boulder field. I was home free in a sense -- all that was left was a short downhill hike and a bit of biking. With my feet already wet, I didn't hesitate to break through knee deep snow on the shortcuts through the tress that I know are lurking beneath the fresh coat of snow. This descent is unbelievably fun in winter. I pause at the creek before the trailhead to fill up some bottles for the ride home, I arrive back to my bike after a 6h51m climb of the peak.

Mount Lady Washington from the Boulderfield
I was most scared of plummeting back through the cold canyon on my bike so I now broke out my secret weapons. First, I peeled off my soggy socks and replaced them with crisp clean ones, then inserted my feet into plastic bags before putting them back into my shoes. This makeshift wind barrier works surprisingly well. I then insert fresh handwarmers into my mittens. Fifteen minutes of transition and I'm ripping back down the road!

The ride home is downhill, yes, but there are a few deadly little climbs before the real descent begins. I know these climbs are coming, I embrace them and they pass by quickly and efficiently spinning up in my lowest gear. The long winding descent to Lyons is a blast, somehow I don't get passed by any cars so I have the entire right lane to myself -- its quite a bit of real estate for bicycle -- so I can hug the turns tightly and safely. Nine-thousand feet below the summit of Longs Peak, Lyons is much warmer, so I take a brief pit-stop to shed layers before the annoyingly rolling highway back to Boulder. But the sun is setting, the sky is purple, and knowing its in the bag I'm too happy to mind whatever the ride home will hold.

The route from Boulder
I roll into town just as the dark of night has set in. I reach the infamous strip club parking lot at 6:47PM, making my official round-trip time 13:39:54, but I still have 30 minutes of riding to get back to Abby's appartment. With my red. rear blinky light out of battery I coast along the sidewalks and less busy roads and before I know it my bike is locked right where it was 14 hours and 16 minutes ago and I'm trudging up the stairs to my girl and a hot meal.

Fifty miles to the northwest, Longs is unchanged. My snowy tracks have vanished with the wind, I never signed the summit register and the monolith of granite does not care a bit. Recounting the day with Abby however, my excitement is tangible. I wasn't the fastest or the slowest but I moved myself from the doorstep to the summit of a mountain. I saw the sun rise and set, I was warm and cold, nervous and excited, and now only my own memories remain as evidence of the day's adventure.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February 20 - February 26

Monday, 2/20 - Hidden Valley - 7 miles, 1300', 1:24
Joggin' around the best cruiser running trail in Moab with Abby. We found an unmarked spur of trail that led us to a ton of petroglyphs that were super cool!

Tuesday, 2/21 - 1st & 2nd Flatirons + Salomon Group Run - 6 miles, 2200', 1:42
Got to Chautauqua early and to scramble the 1st. I decided to downclimb all of Free For All (second time ever). I left the Pullman way to early which burned a ton of time but otherwise it went pretty smoothly. It definitely sounded like someone was yelling "help" but I jogged down the rest of the route and found no one in need of help. Back at the Salmon Run Club afterwards!

Wednesday, 2/22 - Regarchifthist + Green Mtn + 2nd Flatiron - 5 miles, 3100', 2:17
Declaring the linkup of Regency-Royal Arch-5th-Fist to be called "Regarchifthist", its such a good one and is especially convenient for scrambling on windy days (though today was calm) as its very sheltered by the mountain. I descended to the 2nd and downclimbed the plain old Freeway to save time.

Thursday, 2/23 - NCAR Tempo - 13 miles, 1000', 1:38
Warmed up with Abby in a light snow that was melting on contact. We made a loop around the CU-XC course before she headed her own way and I launched into a tempo effort from the tunnel under Broadway at Table Mesa. With 2.5 miles up and down the NCAR road hill it made for a nice 5 mile tempo. The ascent was tough as the snow got heavier and began to accumulate but I manged, trying to run hard going down I unfortunately got a terrible side cramp that made me slow down a ton, but the uphill effort was the important part. Jogged around with a bathroom stop in a CU building for a longer warm down.

Friday, 2/24 - Green Mtn - 7 miles, 3000', 2:00
Easy with Jack for the second tracks up the hill in slick, knee deep powder. Tired legs and slow conditions so we just chatted along at a conversational effort.

Saturday, 2/25 - Poorman Rd - 12 miles, 1700', 1:23
Tempo effort from BRC up Sunshine Canyon down Poorman's Road and back the exact same way. I was hoping for Gold Hill but thought I wouldn't have time -- with the energy I felt I should have just gone for it, 8:30's going up and 5:30's going down should have been plenty fast enough for the full loop. Ah well, good run.

Sunday, 2/26 - 3 x Green Mtn - 13 miles, 7300', 3:51
Good two laps with Kyle then one easy one on my lonesome. Happy my phone held onto 1% battery life for the entire third lap so I wouldn't quite be alone.

Week Totals:
62 miles

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February 13 - February 19

Monday, 2/13 - Animal World - 2:00
Got up the crag in the fine February weather with Jack. I lead Joint Venture (5.11a) and almost got it clean except for I botched my feet at the bolt right before the arete. After his turn we moved over to Free Willy (5.11a); I took the lead and got it with two hangs. Man, I really could have gotten the onsite of this but got hung up on one sequence which alone made me have to take, but I still held on long enough to get pumped. Still, the final move and the bolt to clip is a doozy on lead.

Tuesday, 2/14 - Boulder Valley Ranch - 7 miles, 500', 0:56
Easy jog on flat North Boulder trails.Yoga in the evening.

Wednesday, 2/15 - Ruper - 1000', 3:02
Met Tony in a cold Eldo parking lot and did an easy climb of Ruper. He was soloing this route last year but wanted a "rust buster" so we did it in "normal" style. Some heavy ropedrag while simuling pitches 4, 5 and 6 slowed us down (he thought I was sketched and I thought he was). The route was in the sun and we were plenty warm -- good to be in Eldo in February! Some bouldering and a yoga class in the evening, too.

Thursday, 2/16 - Spyronette - 3 miles, 1700', 1:26
Easy scrambling with Jackson. Today was his first time up the route (1st Flatironette, Spy, North Arete of the 1st) so we kept it nice and casual.

Friday, 2/17 - Eldo Scrambling - 1200', 1:46
With my bike finally fixed up with tubeless tires properly I was able to get back to Eldo for some scrambles on the Wind Tower before the drive to Moab. Boulder Direct, West Overhang, Calypso, Wind Ridge.

Saturday, 2/18 - Moab Red Hot 33km - 21 miles, 3000', 2:42
Mile and a half warm up. The race started off well enough, I think I was around 5th-8th for the first half which was mostly on jeep roads. It was a struggle to keep up with those around me but I was able to make up lost ground on the "technical" downhills. Thanks for keeping me ready for that Boulder! A few route finding errors (everyone got lost it seemed) in the slickrock shuffled up the positioning and I think I got passed by one or two guys during my relocation of the course. In no man's land for the third quarter of the race I fell off the try hard train and had to push the final road descent to not get passed before the finish. 8th place, good to see where I stand and what needs work.

Sunday, 2/19 - AM: Delicate Arch - 3 miles, 800', 1:16 - PM; Negro Bill Canyon - 5 miles, 500', 0:47
Easy hike in Arches NP with Abby (who got 6th in the 55km so had more so legs than I) then an easy jog up a canyon on my lonesome afterwards.

Week Totals:
41 miles
16:06 (total including bikes/climbs)

Lower volume week with the race, but progressing along.