Friday, April 25, 2014

4/21 to 4/25

4/20, Sunday
Off. Knee is super stiff from Saturday's incident on Green.

4/21, Monday
6 miles, 49 minutes, 500ft. Pushed it a little bit on the creek path, I held low 7 high 6 minute pace for the first 3 miles till I got to Settler's park and indulged in a quick ~300 ft hill climb and some scrambling. Took the return trip a little easier at first before ending with a 6:40 for the last mile. This actually got me decently tired (finally), though my primary source of fatigue today was the left calf which has been somewhat out of service for a while. Hip feels tired, but not hurt.

4/22, Tuesday
Physical therapy in the morning on the hip. Biked the creek path for the first time ever, which seems odd given I've ran it probably 40 or 50 times. 10 miles, 38 minutes.
A blossoming pinecone on the 2nd, something I'd never seen before.
4/23, Wednesday
Hip is the definition of sore. Oddly enough there is a definite difference that I can distinguish between hurt and sore/tight. Neither situation feels good physically though, so I took the day off.

4/24, Thursday
Hiking with a lap up Freeway (39:13, but with a friend), the backside of the 2nd and the backside of the 1st, where I found a more efficient downclimb strategy. Looking to try and get a sub 15 time on this route tomorrow (see Friday). I can get a more than a fair cardio workout that is much easier on the hip through these excursions as well as building technical prowess; I should be doing this near daily in my opinion. And further, I should probably bring non-running friends or wear flip-flops so I don't run - that is, until I have enough self discipline to not run.
Working around the Southwest face of the First Flatiron with Henry, with dwarfed pines beneath.
4/25, Friday
More hiking. Running is not worth the anxiety of potentially doing something bad nor the consequence of actually doing something bad to the hip; but I'll not be complaining of this adventure. No matter, my heart rate still hit the ceiling on this one. Started off with a speed lap on 2nd Flatiron's "Freeway" in 11:46, another huge PR. I've gotten to the point on this where skill-wise I feel comfortable at every part of this route. Today, I was audibly wheezing and working hard to find the sweet spot in my exertion level without tipping the scale and going anaerobic. Awesome line. I then proceeded to tackle the "Baker's Way" (or at least what I thought was) route on the 1st Flatiron. It was more tricky than I would have hoped, but whenever I felt the route above me was too bad, I looked to my sides; nine times out of ten, there is a better option. I was hoping I could find a route that I would feel comfortable bringing friends on, but alas it wasn't much easier than the standard route - just shorter.
Wonderfully clear days this week. Boulder may be green and dry, but the continental divide still looks buried in snow.
I hiked back down to the base of the second and meandered my way up along the "Dodge Block" route, its much harder than "Freeway" (which granted, isn't saying much) but offers a degree of difficulty which can get me out of my comfort zone but not so much so that I feel scared or nervous. I looked for a way up to the true summit of the 2nd, but came to conclusion that every possible way up is far from the scope of my abilities (probably like a 5.10 or higher). Whilst down-climbing back down, I ran into an old classmate I hadn't seen since 4th grade who had moved to California prior to enrolling at CU. We both near immediately recognized each other and shared some old memories before he continued his ascent and me my descent. Awesome outing. 4.5 miles, 2,500ft of vertical, 3 and a half hours.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

4/12 to 4/19

Saturday, 4/12
After a decently successful and stressful first personal ascent up the first flatiron on Friday, Saturday morning I got into REI right at opening and after a bit of deliberation bought a pair of climbing shoes.Went essentially straight up to Chautauqua and got in a super solid lap on the first. Hiked down with a stereotypical nomadic climber. He was living out of his van and on his way from Arizona up to Montana for the summer. We had an interesting conversation before our paths split. I then took a more relaxed lap on the "freeway" rout on the second flatiron. Amazing the difference in difficulty both mental and physical between the two slabs.
The third never ceases to amaze

Monday, 4/13
Great weather, took a somewhat adventurous 30 minute jaunt along the creek path before exploring some uncharted territory between campus and the South bank of Boulder creek. Really muddy, really fun.

Tuesday, 4/14
After trying to study the day away, I had to break off for 30 minutes for some barefoot on Kittredge field. My paces feel so dismal right now, and I can't even back them up with mileage. I know I can go faster, but I also know I shouldn't. Haven't had a good exhaustive run in months, most runs I finish wanting to run more than when the run began. Even starting to yearn for even a long road run right now. Too many unexplored roads, paths and peaks still loom around me.

Thursday. 4/17
Came to the conclusion that it may in fact be sitting which gives my hip the most grief. I figured taking Wednesday off would loosen up the hip, but in fact the opposite. So today I headed back out to the first and got in some time on the toes. About 40 or 50 feet up, someone shouted up to me "The top is covered in ice".  I immediately had disbelief. First of all, downclimbing is public enemy number 1 - especially on the first , second, it was plainly visible from Boulder that the entirety of the rock was clean of Sunday's snow - that's why I was even there. "Just kidding" the hooligan shouted back up. Nonetheless, I felt like just that comment totally messed with my mental mojo. After that I missed a traverse and had to put in some creativity to get back on route, and then just felt "off". Anyways, made it to the top for my third summit in good spirits all without seeing a single other person on the wildly popular climb. 80% walking on this one. I love the first, but I think I should practice more on the 2nd, especially on parts where I can safely play around more with smooth slab climbing.
Regaining my mojo with another summit. And yeah I know I have a thousand picture of the third, deal with it!
Friday, 4/18
30 minutes barefoot, 4 miles. Actually pushed the pace a little bit on this run before settling back to my "trot" that I've adopted as of late. Put in a low 6 minute mile after a a half mile warm-up, to see how things felt with a harder pace. Actually felt pretty good, and didn't feel too out of shape.

Saturday, 4/19
Another flatiron jaunt, with some solid efforts. After climbing the first a few times I figured I'd see if I could get a new PR on the 2nd. Ended up getting up the route in 16:27, a PR by about 5 minutes. Amazing how confident I feel on its relatively innocent face after doing the first. Took a spill on the sneak route from the back of the first flatiron to Greenman, and had some nice carnage decorating my left knee for the remainder of the climb. Continued on up to Green Mountain for my my first summit of anything since January 23. My uphill running abilities right now seem non-existent, definitely have some work to do pending the healing of my hip. Took the downhill really easy as this was the first "long-ish" run in a while on the hips. 6 miles, but 2,500 ft of climbing kept me out there for 1:53.
You should see the other guy, he's 8,000ft tall and made of stone and immortal

Friday, April 11, 2014

First Flatiron

After months of cowering in fear and disappointment, I conquered Boulder's iconic first flatiron. I've been searching for the downclimb for literally months, and I wasn't going up unless I was sure I could get back down. Yesterday (after guiding my sister up her first climb on the 2nd) I decided to search yet again and what do you know! Really wasn't so all.
Catching some air on the 2nd yesterday, photo cred to the sister
I had checked out the base of the first before, and what always stood out to me was: steep and smooth. Especially given that I'm climbing in my running shoes, grip seemed like an issue. I arrived at the base of the rock this afternoon nervous, but excited. Two other guys were putting on their climbing shoes and wore no gear otherwise. We decided that I would join up with their group and they would lead me on the route. Sweet, now I only have to get to the top.
Googled "first flatiron", this is it!
My first steps were poorly placed and not holding at all. I lost friction and slid 4 ft back to the dirt. "What am I doing I asked myself?", my answer came to me quickly "Well for a start, we're not falling". I regathered myself and pressed my toes hard to the water eroded sandstone. I went up a bit, looked up, looked back down, this is happening I said to myself. After a certain point you get high enough, where your confidence increases if only because at this point there is no going back. And so I went on. After the first pitch of pressing the top digits of my fingers over pebble sized holds with my feet sticking to what footholds would manage, I was anxious. "I'm buying rock shoes tomorrow!" I announced to my partners. They laughed and did remark on how they were impressed with my courage to wear what I had. After this point, the washed away rock transformed into not the obvious, exposure-less, shallow incline of the 2nd, but a much more manageable texture. In all honesty, the rest felt almost a blur. We passed 2 or 3 roped parties, but really took no breaks. Hardly took pictures, due to the continuous motion - and frankly, there aren't too many spots I'd feel super comfortable whipping out the camera.
The pitch is deceivingly steep, the scale is hard to photograph as well.
Gaining the North Arete, It was "easy" 5th class scrambling to the summit, passing in and out of three or four notches. In retrospect, running shoes are totally sufficient, provided a certain degree of comfort exists on the initial 200ft or so. Summit views were brilliant of course, though its become commonplace over the last year of Chautauqua outings. Shouldn't take beautiful things like this for granted, even more so when it is your home.
Several false summits proceed downwards along the Arete (look at the climbing vocab!)
Downclimbed a wrong and awkward, body width gully, but made it back down without any drama. Super stoked at this point, this has been on my list of goals since last summer. Feels so good to accomplish goals like that especially when paired with the rush of a challenging climb. Feeling good I did the West face of the 2nd, lounged about in my tranquil solitude for a bit, then meandered my way down.
Top o' the 2nd, via the west face
I downclimbed the entirety of the 2nd again, and could feel the weight of my weeks now unfamiliar efforts taking their toll on my performance, my mind was slow to find lines, and my calves ached after a very "supportive" week on their part. I also ran the approaches (up and down) as a short 1 mile (half mile up, half down) hip test on some techy terrain. Not bad, going up feels better than down, but I won't be doing any distance intensive trips for at least 2 more weeks. I think I'll be up on these flatirons quite a bit in the future, they are a great workout without the injury prone antics of running. Oh, and my arms and legs are Sunburnt with a capitle S, haven't been outside enough lately.

2.3 miles, 1800ft up, and a pace of about 13 minutes per mile (all things considered its not that bad!)

The route.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

2nd Flatiron Climb

Got in my first run in who knows how long Friday evening, and got back on trail for the first time in even longer this afternoon. I wasn't running though, an easy hike up to the 2nd Flatiron to get some climbing in was all I needed to quench my thirst for adventure. Its felt so long since my last adventure I was forgetting what it felt like. Oddly, what I always miss is the feeling of the rock in my hand. There is something truly satisfying with wrapping your fingers around a rough textured rock. Maybe its just the feeling I've connected with that physical feeling, but I think I missed that more than anything - feeling nature. Anyways, decided to go with something a little spicier today, staying very far to the left from the beginning. Looking now on, I found that it is "Dodge Block" with a variation that takes me through a tunnel.
Instagram filter is killing it
The picture above is right at the start of the harder part, the route I took goes to the right of the block through a tunnel that is somewhat visible. Really friction dependent on this route, very little to actually grip. This route is said to be a 5.6 rating which is the hardest thing I've ever solo'ed (or climbed), so it certainly tested my mettle. Not only that, but there was water trickling down everywhere, so another obstacle (fun) to avoid (besides falling)!
Right below the tunnel on a 1/4 inch ledge - just big enough for a picture to be taken!
The tunnel was without a doubt the crux of the climb. The center was completly wet and unclimbable, so I wedged my back against the roof and slowly made my way through. (This is for you mom) I had a friend with me too, so if anything went sour, he could help spot me on an alternate route, or if I like fell or something.Topped out on to the trail and went and checked out the First Flatiron downclimb (for the nth time), only to again be disappointed in not finding a way up and down the backside. I found a spot that may work, but its a hard move, and one I'm not willing, able or ready to make yet - especially in my rope free manner of climbing.
Poorly made vertical panorama of the back of the first, someday...
I ended up deciding to downclimb the whole 2nd Flatiron so I wouldn't be tempted to run the downhill (I may or may not have ran a short section afterwards). It was good practice to downclimb, it made me feel much more mobile on the rock, its a completely different (not fun, but helpful) experience.
Starting to feel like Spring
Hip felt tired, just as it did after Friday's run, but improvement is clearly present. Not healed by any means, but good health ought to be on my horizon. Didn't bring my GPS, so I don't know times, but the route is about +2,000ft, 3 miles. Good to be back out there.