Saturday, February 21, 2015

February 8 - February 21

2/8, Sunday - Quandary Pk (14,265') - 7 miles, 3,500', 3:48
Did the East Ridge route with Andrea in prime conditions. I felt I was lagging a bit initially from yesterday's effort, but our effort was relatively mellow, definitely no running. On the ascent it felt decently cold, we used snow shoes from just below treeline to the summit. After some summit snacks we descended into ridiculously warm temperatures. I rolled my tights up above my knees and long sleeves above my elbows. Unbelievably easy in these conditions as opposed to last years unconquerable blizzard. Altitude hit me hard after not being up high in several months, if conditions stay similar I'll try and do this again next week.
Andrea working his way up.
First calendar winter 14er summit!
2/9, Monday - Green Mtn - 10 miles, 3,000', 2:10
Again with RMR. The typical front man Ryan Smith won the SOB100k this weekend - against some tough competition and thus earning a free WS100 entry - so keeping up front was a little easier tonight. My quads felt particularly taxed so I found an nice aerobic groove in my power hike. The last bit of Ranger and a third of Amphitheater/Saddle was smothered with ice. Without traction I hopped from rock to rock arresting with tree trunks when possible - and just falling when it wasn't. Good ol' death defying fun. While running back home I was bitten by a dog. I was moving away from it quickly enough that it didn't break skin. This only solidifies my stance as pro-cat in the always controversial cat vs. dog debate.

2/10, Tuesday - Slowly Dying - 3 miles, 200', 0:26
Can I just die? Gosh, I'm not sure I've ever had such a tough time getting out the door. I tried going back to sleep twice, but after an hour of the wake-up, sleep cycle I decided to stare at my computer screen in the hopes the harsh artificial light would permanently awaken me. After said struggle I yawned and grumbled onto my feet. About half-way to Chautauqua I had this intuition that today maybe just wasn't a day I should fight through. I turned around and jogged home. By the time I was home it was completely obvious that I was completely drained. I hadn't had a day with less than 90 minutes in 3 weeks, so I felt totally fine bailing today.

2/11, Wednesday - Green Mtn - 8 miles, 3,200', 1:49
After taking yesterday easy I felt like a new man today! Covered the 2 miles to Chautauqua a full 2 minutes faster than usual, then up the trail to the first flatironette. After a few minutes smothering my feet on wet holds I bailed and ran back down and up the standard NE ridge. Saddle rock was pretty icy so I took the NE ridge back down too. Energy is such a luxury!

2/12, Thursday - Green Mtn - 9 miles, 3,000', 1:46
Left around 5:45 as I had to finish a lab that seemed impossible which ended up being resolved rather quickly - missed a bunch of sleep there! Power-hiked 90% of the way up Green via the Amphitheater, the ice is akin to a plague on the top quarter of the mountain right now. I was glad I had spikes for going down. Descended to the 1st Flatiron and back home.
Sunrise on top of Green Mtn. Bear Peak on the right.
2/13, Friday - Spy, 1st Flatiron, Green Mtn - 10 miles, 3,100', 2:09
I tried taking a use trail I noticed going off into the woods today and it ended up taking me to the very base of the Spy. Cool. There is a significant roof (I'm not really sure the precise term) on the true East face that I didn't quite feel comfortable sending solo. Instead I managed an easy and obvious work around on the south face. Continued up the North Arete route to the 1st and subsequently to another Green summit at a nice easy effort. Descended behind the 1st.

2/14, Saturday - Mt Quandary (14,265') - 7 miles, 3,500', 2:24
I didn't bring snowshoes, so I started right at sunrise hoping things wouldn't get sloppy on me. Started off a little cold, but as the sun rose there was plenty of warmth - just needed some protection from the wind. Ascent in 1:39, descent in 0:39. Thin air is the best air!
Looking west to the Sawatch Range from Quandary's summit.
Summit photo.
Week Totals:
51 miles
19,600' climbed

Mileage was a hair less due to the bailout on Tuesday; which was, of course, completely necessary. Vert was around 20k, which is my main qualifying criteria for a good week nowadays. The warm weather is pretty fun right now, but with snowpack so low and temperatures at record breaking highs, I worry how dry and flammable the summer will be.

2/15, Sunday - Off
Sometimes you have to do the homework you had been putting off to run.

2/16, Monday - Green Mtn - 11 miles, 3,100', 2:26
The most fun I've had running in a long while. Knee deep snow, so going up we walked quite a bit. Going down was one of those running moments I fantasize about; so, so much snow but still good footing.

2/17, Tuesday - Flagstaff Mtn + Green Mtn - 12 miles, 3,500'
I did a short jaunt up Flag before dropping down Crown Rock and taking Gregory Canyon to the middle route up to Green's summit. E.M. Greenman was unbroken aside from one set of tracks so the going was slow. Going down, I took a shortcut through a boulder-field that I would never normally run in fear of breaking my spine, ankles and legs. Today however the snow was up to my waist and I couldn't even feel the rocks.
Honest to God, this was not edited or filtered. Boulder is just like this sometimes.
2/18, Wednesday - AM: Flat - 10 miles, 400', 1:09 - PM: Green Mtn - 10 miles, 3,000', 1:51
I stayed up later than I wanted last night, so I was forced to split the 20 miles I had planned for the day into two parts. I hadn't run with purpose on flat (meaning under 8:30 pace) ground in over a month, but I was happy to let my pace settle around low 7's - aside from a short choppy section of snow and ice. Of course, no day is complete without a summit of Green which I happily satisfied subsequent to the day's learning. Plenty of drifted snow kept the pace pretty slow.

2/19, Thursday - Flagstaff Mtn + Green Mtn - 12 miles, 3,400'
Up Flagstaff from the creek path, Ranger to Green, Amphitheater back down. Amongst the snow conditions, wind, and my current physical state, there was one common theme: terrible.

2/20, Friday - Flagstaff Mtn + Green Mtn - 16 miles, 3,500'
I put myself into a mental state that today would suck, but I got halfway up Green and realized that besides some somewhat tight legs, I was feeling alarmingly well. The extra miles today came in the form of Bear Canyon which also surprised me at how much I enjoyed it. Super mud on Mesa and Skunk on the way home.

2/21, Saturday - Flagstaff Mtn, Green Mtn, Walker Ranch, Eldorado Canyon, Mesa - 32 miles, 7,000', 6:43
With about a foot of fresh snow on the ground, this took every ounce of will power I had. Took the creek path to Eben G. and powered up Flagstaff and Green, still feeling pretty good, but there was already a lot of snow despite the trail already being broken. Ran down the West Ridge and a good bit of asphalt to get to Walker Ranch. Walker was completely unbroken knee deep snow, painfully slow and requiring a massive amount of effort, especially on the uphills. A long snowy blur of time and I was - barely - running down to the South Mesa TH from Eldorado Springs. On the initial climb on South Mesa I could not run. It was the worst I've felt in long while, probably since Four Passes. Anyways the misery continued until some older women passed me and some fire erupted inside me. Okay, it was more of like a small candle, but from that point I ran like slug the rest of the way home. I had to tuck my GPS into my sleeve so I wouldn't see how depressingly slow I was moving, but hey, what did I expect for a 32 mile run in snow on the tail of a hard week?
A snowy Eldorado Canyon
Week Totals:
102 miles

I set a goal of 100 miles this week, so it was pretty cool to see that come to fruition. In a couple weeks and I'll do a week entirely focused on vertical gain. I would have split Saturday's 32 into separate 15's but with Colorado finally getting snow skiing is a must this weekend. We'll see how the legs feel skiing tomorrow.

It was also interesting to see that Kilian's record on Aconcagua was broken this week - by the same guy who broke his Kilimanjaro record no less. It just confirms that - as hard as it may be to believe - these people we put on a pedestal are human. No record nor racer is completely untouchable. Of course in the case with Aconcagua, Kilian essentially established the record as previous attempts were largely undocumented and were seemingly quite soft to the likes of the speedy Spaniard. With Everest projected to be the grand finale of 'Summits of my Life' (and maybe a return to Elbrus) it will be interesting to see if Kilian tries to reclaim either of these records - or any more that may fall. Personally, I'm still trying to break 40 minutes up Green Mtn, which loads of people have already done. To each his own.

And last, this article I found to be a an excellent read.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

February 1 - February 7

2/1, Sunday - 2 x Green Mtn - 14 miles, 5,400', 3:24
Basically the same as yesterday, but with 3 to 4 inches of fresh snow on the ground. Took the 1st access for the ascent on lap one hoping to catch a majestic glimpse of the 3rd breaking out of the cloud layer, but the ceiling sat higher than the rock. Breaking trail on what is not an official trail was - not surprisingly - difficult and slow. Descended Ranger/Gregory just to mix things up, then turned around for another mellow ascent (~52min). Took the Amphitheater back down and slithered past Tim Olson (!), even the Western States 100 record holder is reduced to a power hike on that technical beast! Good weekend, 10,700' of gain in 29 miles.
Green summit just barely made it above the clouds. 9th summit in 7 days!
Had to snap this pic of Bear (in clouds left) and Green (in less clouds right) heading back home through CU campus
2/2, Monday - Green Mtn - 10 miles, 3,000', 2:20
Up Gregory-Ranger, down Saddle Rock with the Rocky Mountain Runners. Snowpack was absolutely perfect, allowing for sharp traction sans spikes. The full moon was just bright enough to go without a headlamp on the ascent, but the quick steps on the techy descent dictated illuminating measures. I was out for about 2:40 total, but I got to Chat 10 minutes early and we spent a good deal of time on the summit and general regrouping, so I'm counting it as 2:20 running time (could have been much less). This also marked my 50th lifetime summit of Green Mountain, only 950 (or more now) behind some guys around here and 77 more (hopefully) for this spring.

2/3, Tuesday - Green Mtn - 10 miles, 3,000', 2:06
Ah, the evening to morning workouts are always tough with only a few moments awake for separation. Took the middle route up and the Amphitheater down. One of those days where all I could muster was just tagging the summit, I must have hiked a third of the way.

2/4, Wednesday - Green Mtn - 10 miles, 3,000', 1:51
Left the apartment around 6AM and was about halfway up the mountain in fresh ankle deep powder before there was enough light to click off the light. If you have energy, snow is the most fun in the world; if not, its pretty frustrating. Thankfully, today I felt great and skipping down the sugary pillows on each step was a perfect way to start the morning.

2/5, Thursday - AM: Green Mtn - 10 miles, 3,000', 1:42 - PM: CU Rec Climbing
Today I figured there would be a well packed and buffed out snowy trail, so I figured to try my luck at cracking 1 hour for Gregory to Green to Gregory. I started hard up Gregory Canyon in less than ideal  icy conditions, I pushed on thinking I would be plodding up a hard packed trench once on the Ranger trail. This was one-hundred percent wrong. Five minutes on the Ranger trail and I hit the first of many massive snow drifts completely obscuring the trail. Knee-deep post holing hike to the West Ridge which was only marginally better. I clocked a desultory ascent of 48 minutes, completely off any pace to break one hour. The Amphitheater descent was more of the same drifting until I got lower and it was just super wet slush. At this point I was super frustrated and just about screamed when my pinkie toe slammed into a rock lurking beneath the snow. Like stopped me in tracks, afraid to take off my shoe and look at it painful. The sidewalks were icy too. I guess all days can't be good.

I finally went and bought a membership to the climbing gym at the rec center today with my friend Kevin. We both ended up failing the belay test (I had to too much slack and he let go of the brake rope - whoops!) so we were limited to just bouldering. We were both startled to discover just how fun the short technical sequences were. Good fun.

2/6, Friday - AM: 2nd Flatiron + Green Mtn - 9 miles, 3,000', 2:18 - PM: CU Rec Climbing, 
I could tell immediately that a) I had zero energy and b) it was a beautiful morning. Naturally, most of the running - or jogging, rather - I did was on the streets or going downhill, otherwise it was an upbeat hike. Scrambling felt tremendously good after yesterday's indoor session. After classes Kevin and I put in another session of indoor bouldering.

2/7, Saturday - 2nd Flatiron, Green Mtn, Betasso Preserve, Poorman Dr - 22 miles, 4,600', 3:53
Jogged to Chautauqua still feeling 'meh' until Tony Krupicka darted around me. I met his pace until our paths split: me to the easier 2nd Flatiron and TK to the 1st Flatiron. We subsequently regrouped and I paced off him to the summit. Of course, he probably wasn't going hard and he could have left me in the dust just as easily. Super cool nonetheless, but not the smartest way to start my long run. We chatted on the summit and I introduced myself before he headed back down Saddle Rock and myself down Ranger. I took Chapman Drive, the dirt road - which is still completely destroyed from the floods - down to Boulder Canyon and ran the bit of road to connect to the Betasso Preserve. At this point it felt 80 degress (in February!? I know!) and I had brought about a third as much water as I should have. I could also feel some twitches in my quads reminiscent of my 50, so I was also likely in need of sodium. So I did a lot of run/hiking despite the moderate grades on anything uphill until I finally returned to town and refilled at Eben G. park's drinking fountain. I could have spent all afternoon drowning myself there, but I waddled myself home instead.

Week Totals:
86 miles

Wow, that was a big week! Had I not had bigger plans for Sunday, I probably would have just made Saturday a 26 just to top out at 90 miles. With less elevation, I'd like to think I have adequate fitness to get a 100 mile week - not that I necessarily plan on that any time soon. Anyways, I definitely felt this week more than last, I'll probably back down to the 60-70 range for next week. Don't want to get too far ahead of myself. My pinkie toe seemed to just be bruised, I barely felt it on Saturday, so I'm 99.99% sure its not broken.