Monday, September 29, 2014

The Bear Chase 50 Mile Race

The alarm sounded at 4AM, I had been awake most of the night though. Really weird dreams when I did sleep too, they didn't even seem necessarily correlated with the race. Just the typical anxious night of sleep before a big day. Everything went just about as planned: breakfast, timing, etc. Well, all except that I left my Injinji toes socks at home. Oh well. After sitting in the dirt trying to stay warm (I would be very warm a few hours later), the runners were eventually called to the starting line. The course is a 12.5 mile loop with only one truly substantial climb, which is to be completed 4 times (or 5 for the brave 100 kilometer folks, or 2.5 for the 50k). However, about half of the course is horribly exposed to the sun. Most people, myself included, figured it would be cool being essentially October. We were wrong.
The course. It is run counter-clockwise. The start/finish isn't labeled but it is the point near the water that isn't Pelican Point.
Bear Creek Lake at sunrise. Mt Carbon, the main climb on the course is center.
Waiting for the start
I've never been at a race longer than 10k's start, so I was used to jockeying for position. At an ultra, people could care less and if anything are timid of lining up at the line so as to say "I'm going to take the lead". No warm ups, a few people were still eating while we were lined up. After a few more shivers the gun sounded and we were off. I joined up with the back end of the lead pack (there was another small breakaway in front of maybe five or six runners) and fell in behind a guy who had a very steady pace that matched what I wanted. I stayed with him for the next 9 miles over the first climb of "Mt" Carbon (the quotes are indicative of it having maybe 500'of prominence), and 3 river crossings. Eventually, at the Fox Hollow aid station he elected to go to the bathroom and I pressed on ahead. I was feeling really good. My legs felt a bit sore for some reason but my energy was high, the air was cool and I was comfortably moving at an 8:45 pace. I finished the first lap in 9th place.
Pacing off this guy for the first 9ish miles
First creek crossing was cold and annoying.
9th place after lap one, feeling good
I started lap two feeling pretty good. My pace was pretty consistent from 8:30's to 9:20's. The sun began to rise and the heat began to take its toll. I passed a few people and cruised in the second lap in 6th place at 3:50. My goal for the day was to break 8 hours, despite not having any idea about ultras.
Topping out on Mt. Carbon. This would be my fastest mile of the day at 8:09

6th place, feeling fast. Sun is getting hot
Starting lap 3 was the first time I began to notice something brewing in my legs. After power hiking the climb up Mt Carbon (which was actually fairly steep) I began to run downhill when my quad cramped. I went to stretch it, and my hamstring cramped. I hobbled over to a fence post and eventually stretched out the cramp itself, but it felt at the verge of cramping, and it would remain that way for the next 20 miles. Mile 31 was a 16 minute, from here out any energy or speed I had would be at the mercy of my quads (and subsequently my calves, hamstrings, glutes and hips. The creek crossings helped, the cold water would calm the inflamed and overheated muscles. The next 6 miles after the crossings are shadeless and sweltering. Starting at mile 31 where I cramped, the average temperature for the rest of the race was 91F. I tried curing them with some electrolyte beverage, but nothing changed. Finally I (stupidly) realized that it was salt I needed. At mile 35 I finally ate two salt packets on a slice of watermelon. It wasn't tasty.
Things are getting grim
About 20 minutes after the initial cramping began, well it had still just began in the grand scheme of things...
Trying to maintain a run and my form while the legs have a temper tantrum over the blazing temperatures.
This walking pace feels pretty good.
I felt disgusting, I was covered in salt build up, river water, sticky gel and sticky electrolyte drink. My goal time was completely shot, I was finishing for a finish now. At the Start/Finish aid station I ate two more salt packets. It was helping, but not much. I established a reward system of running for some number of steps then rewarding myself by walking the same number of steps divided by 10 (run 300 steps, walk 30). This worked well for a time, At the next aid station I took a longer break, and ate two more salt packets. After the lady who had given birth 3 weeks ago and was pumping breast milk between each lap passed me (I know right), I walked most of the next 4 miles. The cramping was still ever present. I could barely even stretch without making another muscle cramp in the process. Uphills were horrible, downhills were worse. Where I should have been making up time on the downhills I was grimacing with every step. At 44 miles, I took a 10 minute break at the aid station (my longest stop). I peed a dark yellow color so I knew I was really dehydrated. I took a seat, drank water and coke, ate two more salt packets with a bag of ice water resting on the back of my neck. Another runner and I decided to team up for the final push. After standing back up my legs felt almost worse than before! He was dragging me at first, but somewhere around mile 47, either the salt finally worked, I didn't care anymore or I just really wanted to be done, I found some hidden reserve of energy. The thermometer on my Suunto Ambit watch registered the temperature as 101 here, it must have been. I was at about 9:30 at this point, a sub-10 was possible. I started to speed up, passing a few others who had passed me earlier. It was a game of how hard I could push without my legs cramping. At about 9:45 I passed a guy and said sub-10 was possible if we pushed. He had set his mind on breaking 10 and had nearly given up hope, he was simply walking into the finish. The thought sprung him into action, and we were off! Our pace steadily progressed until we were flying down the final decline to the finish. The last mile was at 8:30 pace - an all out spring at that point - after averaging 15 minute miles for the last 4. I probably could have let up (a lot) and still finished under 10, but I was now also racing to a chair and Pepsi at that point. I came across the line at 9:55:27. I had never been so happy to be done.
At mile 49.99, finishing hard. Who has a kick in a 50? I do.
Feeling emotional. That hurt a lot.
All in all I am happy with how things turned out, but a bit disappointed too. Its frustrating when I have the energy to do something but the wheels won't move. It felt sort of like driving with the parking brake on. I really believe I have a shot at around 8-ish hours. Maybe I did go too fast out of the gate, but at the same time despite it being a personal challenge, it is also a race. As competitive of a person as I am, its very hard to sit back and be conservative. Part of the cool part about a race or supported effort, is that you can push beyond the limits and it not be the end of the world. It would be nice to use the heat as an excuse, but everyone else was in that same heat too. It does like it had a pretty big impact on times though. Very slow compare to years passed.
Finishers medal
For gear I kept it pretty simple/minimal. For shoes I ended up wearing the Merrell Trail Glove 2 all day. They are thin and someone laughed at me when I started putting on shoes with holes and glue at the start, but they're also incredibly nimble, lightweight and water-draining-y. I was a minority minimalist in a sea of Hoka's and compression socks. Isn't it hot enough without knee high socks!?For carrying water I used a 10oz UltraSpire handheld. It may have been not enough, but I didn't anticipate the boiling temps which made me need a lot more water. I had three gels in my back pocket at the start of every lap, and usually ate 2 of them each lap. Easy and simple.

They had these cool leg compression things called Elevated Legs. It felt really good.
For what I actually ate. Laps 1 and 2, I had only gels and water/electrolyte drink. During lap 3 I had maybe 4 banana chunks (first attempt to quell the cramps), 2 gels, water/drink and eventually salted watermelon slices. Lap 4 I think I only ate 1 gel, because they were starting to taste horrible, 4 salt packets, and a cup of Coke (and water/drink, obviously). It all seemed to work really well aside from eating the salt too late. I should have used the salt capsules every hour. A learning experience, I'm sure not to forget about.

Soda was one of the only things that I could bare to consume. Look how disgusting and filthy I am... a great day!
As for the race itself, it went very smoothly. The organizers planned out every detail and the course was very well marked (which was pretty important given the ridiculous number of junctions and trails in the park). The volunteers far exceeded my expectations. They were actively engaged with me at every aid station, making sure I got everything I needed. Especially at Fox Hollow on lap four, they were encouraging and helpful while still being realistic, something that is extremely hard to do. They were a real pick me up while I was at a real low point.

Will I do a 50 again? Try a 100? A 100 seems inconceivably hard. So, no, I won't be signing up for a 100 anytime in the foreseeable future. I'm not even sure I'll sign up for a 50 even next year. It was so destructive on my body. Chemically, nearly every bodily function was screwed up. Physically, well I ran 20 miles on cramped legs. I'll need an extra 10 minutes to get to class. I won't be wanting or able to go for a run for a couple weeks. This isn't to say I didn't enjoy it though. I just need a break. Even without the physical decimation, I'm about due for a break. After missing last year's marathon I sort of felt like I was still searching for that feeling of completion. Now I finally have it and I can handle relaxing without worrying about losing fitness. What appeals to me more now are some shorter mountain runs. I hardly ever train on things that involve more than 6 or 7 miles of continuous running, and those are usually downhill miles. I'd really like to try something like a vertical kilometer next summer. But, I have time to ponder and reflect now.


Official Results/Personal Official Results

Lap 1: 1:51:14
Lap 2: 1:56:45
Lap 3: 2:41:51
Lap 4: 2:18:52
Final: 9:55:27, 19th Overall, 6th in my division (male 20-29)

Pictures at the Start/Finish are from my mom, from elsewhere is free pictures that the race provided.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

9/8 to 9/21

9/8, Monday - Off

Hadn't taken a day off in a while, figured it was well earned.

9/9, Tuesday - 2nd Flatiron, Green Mtn, Bear Pk, South Boulder Pk, 14 miles, 4,800', 3:38

Started under overcast skies already threatening rain at Chautauqua and jogged to the base of the 2nd and scrambled up the Freeway in a relaxed yet purposeful 14:41 while a slight rain began, but never enough to wet the rock to a dangerous extent. Continued up and finally found the secret social trail connecting the back of 1st/2nd Flatirons to the summit of Green. Made it to the top of Green in 59:24. Paused for a minute to tag the true summit up the short boulder scramble, but the views were hidden in the clouds, so I continued on my way. 16:32 to Bear Canyon, then 35:34 to the summit of Bear. As I traversed the saddle to South Boulder, a wonderful inversion layer developed to the North with swirly clouds blanketing the rolling peaks stretching back to the Divide (wish I brought a camera). I descended to the South down Shadow Canyon to get some more miles, but it was sort of terrible. It seems like Shadow Canyon is just a gully with an old trail now destroyed by last year's flood debris. Horribly technical to the point that its not even fun, and with the rain, the rocky steps were annoyingly slick. But, I can't really complain since I didn't volunteer for trail clean-up. Mesa Trail was the rolling trail I was looking forward to getting some practice running some miles on a tired mind and set of legs. Even snuck a 7:25 mile in there. Vacant trails today; saw maybe 10 people outside of the always populated half mile radius around Chautauqua. I think its the technicality in Boulder that slows me down. At 14,000ft I'm gaining about the same vertical feet per hour as I am at 8,000ft, I think its just the lines I like are 5th class scrambling or super rocky and thus slow me down. I should probably be faster 6,000ft lower in elevation though...

There was a moment at the top South Boulder Peak where I looked out over and through the clouds blocking my view of the Continental Divide. I realized I could still picture and name most every peak in every direction. Geez, I've had an awesome last few months, discovering some amazing places. I could physically see a ton of my summer training stretching out before me. I could see (or at least identify relative location through the mist) Boulder Canyon, all of the Boulder mountains, all of the Indian Peaks and Longs, and that's only a part of what I was lucky enough to explore. All of the miles of trails, tens of thousands of feet of scrambling and innumerable hours spent discovering the Rocky Mountains.

9/10, Wednesday - Freeway x 2 + West Face, 3 miles, 2,000', 1:19

Chautauqua to the base of 2nd felt surprisingly good despite yesterday's effort. Up Freeway in 11:43. my fastest ascent in a long while. Jogged back down and found a shortcut gully to get to back to the base of the 2nd without having to loop around some nonsense switchbacks. Second lap in 11:15 feeling more competent on the rock than I have since May when I was scrambling daily. Effort felt more like a 14 minute scramble, so that's a nice sign of improved fitness. Talked to some guys at the top who wanted to know other routes to free climb, so I took them up the West Face of the 2nd. I then learned that they had tried to solo the Southwest Face on the First a week ago while on LSD. That makes my soloing seem really safe! Left that group to do...whatever great next decision they had up their sleeves. Night was hot on my heels, so I ran back down with some pep in my step.

9/11, Thursday - Boulder Canyon, 9 miles, 500', 1:08

Fast as I could muster, trying to break 1 hour through the cold and rain. What a new path this is (sarcasm). Half mile warm-up to the 28th street underpass, then consistent 7:00's till Eben G. where my pace slowed to 7:40's . Immediate U-turn at the end trying to hold 6:20's back to 28th, where I took the last  half mile as a "barely-counts-as-running" shuffle back home. So ~8 miles at around 6:50 pace, and was able to come in right under 1 hour at 59:12 (excluding warm up and warm down). I still think this time can be bettered as I was actually a minute off my PR ascent. Probably on a perfect day I could potentially go 55 or 56 minutes. Alas, I likely won't be doing this again before Bear Chase. Good workout nonetheless. I'd like to get a little bit faster next year, I really wish I could maintain 6:45-ish pace. I'll look to start doing that some time in November after my break.

9/12, Friday - Off

Sore right peroneal tendon so I took a day off. Feels about like when I had some soreness in the left posterior tibialis earlier this summer. Stretch and compress the calves, roll the feet and I'll be good.

9/13, Saturday - 2nd Flatiron, Green Mtn, 2nd Flatiron x 3, 9 miles, 4,600', 3:30

Was planning on getting in a bit more distance, but I really didn't feel like running today. Just an off day where I felt really tired and slow, some days just are. After the first lap of Green I just decided to do some more scrambling then get uncomfortably tired. Last 3 reps on the 2nd were Freeway, a downclimb of Freeway and Dodge Block for the final just to spice things up. Foot felt much better after the day of rest.

9/14, Sunday - 2nd Flatiron, 3 miles, 1,400', 2:12

Easy hike with some friends up the 2nd (for the 8th time this week!). Legs felt like stone and energy was at rock bottom so I just left it at that and went home to some football.
Taking flight on the 2nd Flatiron. It looks intimidating, but once you've done it once, you can't believe you were ever scared.
Week Totals:
Miles: 40
Vert: 13,143
Time: 12h1m

Two weeks till Bear Chase! Good week of training. Though the stats don't really express that versus how it felt. Scrambling is probably the hardest workout for the least stats to show for it. Freeway is about 0.2 miles but an anaerobic pace is about 50 min/mile, but it also feels like an all out mile on my lungs and heart! Ended up getting 8 scrambles of the 2nd this week too. In the end, you know how hard/easy you worked based off of how you felt, and that is what matters more. Stats are only a reference, and I feel good about things. I also might not be respecting my 31 mile effort a week ago as much as I should be.

9/15, Monday - Streets, 7 miles, 360', 1:02

Easy run around North Boulder neighborhoods. Haven't run in a city in a while, the lights sure screw up your rhythm and pace with all the stopping. Eat & Run by Scott Jurek talks a little bit about trying nasal breathing on runs so for mile 6 I tried it. Not coincidentally it was my slowest mile, but it definitely started to get a bit easier as time went on, though any incline was especially hard. Wore the Luna's to avoid any un-needed compression of the pinky toes. I think it was my slightly more narrow Trail Glove's that were pinching my little toes inwards and thus the peroneal tendon soreness last Thursday.

9/20, Tuesday - Creek Path, Mesa Trail, South Boulder Creek, 20 miles, 2,000', 3:30

The last long run (probably). This loop actually works quite well as it only is on road for about 1 mile, though does contain about 30% pavement, most of which is bike path. Started from my apartment and ran the creek path West, turning South onto the Flagstaff mountain trails. After a brief stop at Chautauqua to chug some water at the drinking fountain I pressed on further South via the Mesa Trail for 5 rolling shaded miles then headed downhill being roasted by the 85 degree temps without any cover to the East to pickup the South Boulder Creek Path which eventually connects back to the creek path, and thus home. Tried wearing my Altra Provision shoes which are normally my road/gym shoes since they have a bit more cushion. They definitely help keep my feet less "hamburger" feeling, but drain water slower. Other than that it was just a long run. Real hard one today, high temperatures and started feeling tired. No water, one gel, two beat legs. Probably should have brought some water. Time to start the slow taper! Oh, and there was a deer spine/leg left behind by some bear or mountain lion on the Mesa trail, yikes!
20 mile loop!

9/21, Wednesday - Creek Path, 5 miles, 200', 0:38

Easy run to Eben G. Fine park then back home on University. Legs felt really good considering how they felt yesterday. Lovely evening.

On another note, I'm starting to get really frustrated with people listening to music while on the move. Today for instance, I'm coming up from behind someone on a single track trail. I do the usual "on your left" and...nothing. I dart around a few seconds later where the trail widens and, yup listening to music. Even walking around campus at school, you see cyclists wearing Bose noise-canceling headphones weaving through skaters who are texting and have headphones on! It's just ridiculous. Its not the listening to music part (well, kind of but I'll get to that later), its just that some people have deliberately made themselves oblivious to their surroundings. The other thing, is people playing music out of speakers on trails! I've seen stories online with people hiking 14ers with boomboxes and I have personally seen dozens of "outdoors-men" (there are quotes there for a reason), using their iPhone speaker to play music outloud. I know I sound like I'm a bitter 80 year old man, but I feel like a lot of things these just defy common sense. I also don't particularly enjoy music on runs/hikes myself besides that which I sing (which I try to reserve for when I'm far away from anyone else), so I suppose I am biased against music. Ok, that's my two cents on that.

9/22, Thursday - Off

Didn't plan on taking today off, but school had other plans.

9/23, Friday - Off

Sick. ugh. It was inevitable since everyone at school is getting it. Hopefully its cleared by next week. Plenty of school stuff yesterday anyways, so I'm not even sure I would have gone had I been healthy.

9/24, Saturday - 1st Flatironette, The Spy, North Arete, West Face, Freeway+,  4 miles, 2,200', 2:30

Woke up feeling ten times better than yesterday, thank god. Met up with Kendrick and we did an easy linkup of a few scrambles. Started off with him thundering up the initial climb as my recovering lungs burned and my heart raced to the point where I just hiked the last bit to the base of the rock. No need to push things right now, especially coming off of a cold. The 1st Flatironette is a clever way to skip the friction-y first pitch on the 1st. That then connected to "The Spy" a fantastic rib of rock some 8 feet wide with decent exposure on either side. A few feet of hiking and we then joined the North Arete of the 1st Flatiron and followed that to the summit. After Kendrick showed his version of the downclimb, which did not jive with me at all despite being much quicker, we headed over to the West Face of the 2nd. We then did one "easy" lap of Freeway+ (which is the name I'm giving to Freeway plus the final pitch of Dodge Block). I felt like crap on anything uphill which I've got to assume is just me recuperating from my cold. Jogged easy back down to Chat. I brought a pack with water/tissues (didn't know how my cold would fair) and a pair of rock shoes in case Kendrick lead me onto something harder, but it seemed like our scrambling skills match up very well, running shoes were entirely secure all day (climbing never exceeded ~5.4). I probably would have been fine sans pack, but I didn't feel like risking it. Most important though, was that aside from predictably low energy, I didn't feel sick at all.
Kendrick reaching for the sun on the top of The Spy
Looking back at Boulder from just beneath The Spy on route to the North Arete.

Sunday, 9/21 - AM: 2nd Flatiron, 3 miles, 1,300', 3:40

Another guided tour on the Freeway with some friends.

PM: Flatironette/Spy/North Arete, 3 miles, 1,600', 1:08

I repeated the route Kendrick showed me yesterday with decent success. The only hitch was going too high on the 1st Flatironette meaning I had to bushwhack down a bit to get on the Spy. I will also henceforth call it Spyronette as to not write it all out. Felt much better running than yesterday, could have done more but it was getting dark and I shouldn't be pushing right now.

Week Totals:
Horizontal: 41
Vertical: 7,700'
Time: 11h31m

Not a bad week considering I got sick and got hit with a bunch of homework, but still sort of meh. And so the countdown begins. Good final week, punctuated by a dehydrated and calorie deprived 20. Now is time for resting and waiting. Five days till the Bear Chase 50!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

9/1 to 9/7

9/1, Monday - Boulder Canyon, 9 miles, 500', 1:13

Easy/slow-ish up and down the canyon. Up in 36:17, down in 34:52. By my standards this isn't really a hill so I feel awkward using the terms "up" and "down", maybe its just my deranged conception of what running is. Finished up just as it was getting dark, detouring through campus where there is enough synthetic outdoor lighting to read a book at night.

I'm thinking fairly seriously about the Bear Chase 50 on September 27. Prices don't increase until the 14th though, so I have time to think it over before I make a rash decision - but I do like rash decisions. I penciled in a rough training plan leading up to race day. I'm confident I could finish the distance, but I want to finish with (some) pride and not on my hands and knees while hallucinating like I'm on lap 5 of the Barkley.

9/2, Tuesday - 2nd + 3rd Flatirons, 5 miles, 2,200', 2:23

Easy up the usual freeway route (18 minutes-ish) on the 2nd before doing the 5.2 West Face of the 2nd. I originally planned on hitting the summit of Green subsequently, but I had been procrastinating scouting the 3rd for about a month now. So, I bushwhacked over to the back of the 3rd to check out the Southwest Chimney which is the downclimb from the standard East Face route. Its definitely a very involved downclimb of about 200' of 5.4 climbing, the crux move for me is downclimbing a super exposed slabby section that is actually pretty easy going up, but less so going down staring down the 1,000' foot face as you smother your feet on the rock. Anyways I scouted around a fair amount and the actual face looks like a great climb to check out later this week or next week. I hate to say it but I'm reading for snow - in Boulder only though, above 10k' is insane in winter. Heat brings want of snow, and snow brings want of heat I suppose.
My route highlighted in red, picture from Google.

9/3, Wednesday - 1st Flatiron, 3 miles, 1,500', 1:35

Deliberately easy effort today, because, see tomorrow. Hiked up to the base and did some off route creativity before hitting the top in ~35 minutes and downclimbing in ~9 minutes. Simply gorgeous evening out. I was able to get a wave from a couple guys on top of the 3rd while up top. It won't be long till I either need to start going in the morning or stashing a headlamp in my pocket; back down before dark, but just. I haven't been getting up on the ol' slabs with nearly the frequency I was last spring, so I'm still a little rusty.
Lifetime summit #10 of the 1st

9/4, Thursday - Boulder Canyon x 6, 31 miles, 2,300', 4:51

In all honesty I had never run more than ~15 miles below 9,000ft. All of my longer efforts have been at 10,000ft to 14,000ft, so despite this statistically not being new territory, I was a bit apprehensive as this is the first time I've expected myself to maintain an actually moderate pace. My course of choice is albeit a wee bit droll, logistically ideal. I would run to Eben G. Fine Park (2.5 miles) and then complete 6 repeats of the 4.5 miles to the end of the Creek Path up Boulder Canyon and back. Eben G. and the end of the creek have portable toilets and Eben G. has a drinking fountain, so all I had to carry was a gels, of which I brought three - and I would never be more than ~5 miles from my apartment if I blew up. This day was to be a huge determinant as to my plans for the Bear Chase.

I left my apartment with already heavy legs from days passed, I find flatirons do this to me so its my own fault in planning that wrong. I wish I had a whole bunch to say about such a long - my longest ever - run, but in all honesty, I don't. Its basically one long blur going up and down that blasted hill. Next time I do something like this I'll be sure to pick a different route - perhaps one that doesn't end up being essentially a marathon of hill repeats! Check out that sinister looking elevation profile below! All in all it was a huge learning experience. I think one main thing is adding a bit of cushion to my shoes. I wore my Merrell Trail Gloves which are terrific on technical trail, but the accumulated impact sure tired out my feet. Something like a Lone Peak, Fresh Foam, Peregrine  or dare I even say....Hoka could actually have some utility. Okay, Hoka is overkill, Do I have a 50 in me? I think I could with actual preparation and a more dedicated approach to nutrition throughout. For a 50, I would be tapered, in cushier shoes and be eating every 45-60 minutes. Though my legs were without a doubt the limiting factor today, heart/lungs/cardio were  fine the whole time.

Hey pace, please come back down! I want 8's not 11's!

9/5, Friday - Easy, 3 miles, 100', 0:30

Guess what, I'm sore. Also I'm officially registered for a 50!

9/6, Saturday - Easy, 2 miles, 4,500', 0:20

Started off super tight, but things seemed to loosen up by the end. It must just be that I've never maintained an honest run for that long before so my calves/quads weren't quite used to it. Given that the Bear Chase is completely runnable, I still think I should and have time to put in one more 25 to 30 mile effort hopefully next weekend.

9/7, Sunday - 2nd Flatiron, Green Mountain, Bear Peak, South Boulder Peak, 12 miles, 4,700', 4:38

Nice outing with my friend Zach who I haven't ran with in...actually exactly one year. Ironically, also on a Sunday, where I woke up the next morning in serious pain due to a surprisingly sudden stress fracture in my foot. I was superstitiously apprehensive about it being so eerily similar, If I wake up injured I'm going to be very angry. Started from Chatauqua and jogged timidly up the initial 500' to the base of the 2nd. It was his first time up, but he was able to eat up the 700' of semi-technical slab with ease. Grabbed the sneak trail over to Saddle Rock and stood on top of Green soon thereafter. Grumbled over to Bear and South Boulder before hitting Fern Canyon back down to the Mesa trail which rolled along back to Chautauqua. No water, 2 gels. Zach was a bit out of form after a Boston Qualifying marathon last year sort of let him take an extended break from running so we took it pretty easy. My legs were still pretty stiff at first but loosened up and felt surprisingly lively on the rolling 3 miles on the Mesa trail back to the car.
Cruising up the 2nd (Photo: Zach)
Top of South Boulder Peak with Longs/Divide in the distance (Photo: Zach)
Top of Bear (Photo: Zach)
Week Totals:
Miles: 66
Vert: 11,500'
Time: 15:27

I think I'm ready for a 50. Its scary though; its a big number. Like when I map something on Google Maps and its 50 miles away I think "Thats kinda far away", and that's driving! Like its about 50 miles from Boulder to Longs Peak! This picture illustrates that distance (Longs is that big fella' on the right). Still, there is something inexplicably alluring by it. My times and general training seem to match up with that of others who can do 50's, but in the end, you really don't know until you've succeeded or failed. Here is to enjoying the adventure - where ever it takes me!