Sunday, January 17, 2016

Birthday Challenge - 10 x Green Mtn

Over the month of December I dedicated several days to lapping up and down mountains in preparation for a day of 22,000ft in a day for my 22nd birthday. The most logical place to do this is on Green Mountain. Although Fern Canyon is indisputably the steepest line in Boulder the long relatively flat approach from any road where I could stash food and water in my car eliminated it from the list of viable options. Thus, the plan was to get 22,000ft by parking at Gregory Canyon TH where I could do laps of the 4.4 mile/2400ft out and back up Amphitheater-Saddle Rock to Green Mtn. The second issue I found is that I needed 9.3 laps for 22,000ft so instead it seemed more logical to round up to  an even10.

On my last long training run last weekend I coincidentally crossed paths with Homie, the only other guy to finish 10 laps of Green in a day that I know of. From him I found out that he averaged 25 minute descents and wide ranging ascents which finally totaled about 16 hours. I hadn't necessarily planned on any time goals, but now armed with this knowledge my competitive spirit felt compelled to rise to the occasion.

Thankfully, the first week of class is always pretty easy so I was able to score several nights with 10 hours of sleep. Along with taking Wed-Fri completely off I was rested and fresh legged when I woke at 3AM Saturday morning. I brought gummy bears, honey, nutella, chips, mini heath bars and bananas and filled up most every water bottle I own. I started off in tights, two shirts, a windbreaker, gloves and a buff, which I would remain in all day. For my feet I used the La Sportiva Mutants (great for steep) and donned microspikes for the trail which had metamorphasized into a bobsled course over the past week. I had I had posted in our RMR group about my plans and knew several people coming out but didn't expect company at 4AM.
Not posed just having a bite to eat on the Green Mountain
 summit boulder. Photo: Eric
As I was about to trot into the darkness Jeff swung into the spot next to me and we were off a minute later. I started off too fast, but not too too fast like I did when I did my 6 laps during training. We returned to the parking lot to find Eric, Jon and Hillary waiting to join, Kendrick and Alberto arrived on #3 then Ryan, Cat and Dan joined on #4. I mostly prefer to keep to myself on runs of any distance or variety but the presence of others gives me a massive boost in motivation and responsible to deliver on the effort. The first 4 laps pass casually as darkness turns to light; they are merely the introduction for the back half (plus one).

I steadily held a consistent pace with Eric (who was predicting an implosion and who critiques any and all ambitions I have regarding Nolan's, which he has finished himself so I just have to shut up and take it), he's definitely the guy I want to have with me and he has promised 5-7 laps. I feel most compelled to remain strong in his presence as its his approval on any big mountain project that means the most; this is a day I can show my mettle. He calls it at 5 laps though (after my 6th) and my sensei for the day is now gone. With him Cat, Jeff and Kendrick (I actually have no idea when he snuck away) also left. I tried convincing Cat to do more since we actually share the exact same birthdate but she insisted rocky, technical trail glazed in ice wasn't safe for her barely healed ankle. True.
Feeling way better than I look, I was focused on chomping on some frozen Clif ShotBlocks, the ever cheerful Hillary found this particularly funny. Photo: Ryan
By lap 7, the crew was now Ryan, Dan, Mike and Andy (Mike and Andy joining us sometime around #6). I was given a minor mental boost when we passed Anton and Tim within a few minutes of each other. Its just like when I speed up whenever I see Sage on the bike path.My legs were sending those twitchy signals of an impending cramp and right at the spring, a crippling cramp outbreak had me writhing on the ground for a few minutes. My quads were expectedly battered while my toes and arches had been crammed into tight microspikes for over a marathon. After stretching and downing some sodium and amino acids, I took off my microspikes (the top half of the mountain was ice-free) to give my feet some relative rest.
Dan celebrating being done with a big day while I contemplate what (if any) strength remains in my mind and body. Photo: Clare
Lap 8 passed in a similar fashion of slow but constant movement while trying to minimize any cramping episodes. As we finished the descent I knew everyone currently running would be going home and I feared I could be alone for the final two laps, which would be in the dark. Thankfully, waiting in the parking lot was Clare in road shoes with Yak Traks. I usually avoid spikes at all cost, but today the ice was hard, unforgiving and covered most every rock on the bottom half of the mountain. Yak Traks are a joke for these conditions and road shoes can't even stick to dirt very well. Nevertheless, we ascended and I felt a second wind and was able to reach the summit without any cramping episodes. We passed Kendrick on the way down who had mysteriously rejoined for the finale where he was hoping to see some carnage (see below pic).
Getting every last drop of water while Kendrick laughs at my misery. Photo: Clare
I couldn't tell you what exactly went wrong on lap 10, but I had nothing left in me. The only guess I have is that it was now decidedly nighttime (again). I had made a point to maintain constant movement all day, but I found myself resting against trees to catch my breath several times. Staggering near the top, my stomach felt nauseous (likely from the thousands of calories of sugar I had eaten), I knelt on the ground for a while before gathering myself and willing myself to the top. The thought of any taste was repulsive, I've heard about this a lot before but never experienced it myself. I was able to choke down the rest of my water before casually making our way back down.
Broken and defeated. Photo: Kendrick
My final time was 14:45:46, distance was 45 miles, and vertical gain was 24,500ft. I averaged each lap to be 1:28, lap 10 was 1:46 and the fastest was the first at 1:11. I tried to push all day, and it was just as mentally exhausting as it was physically. 24 hours seems unimaginably difficult, though I would certainly ease off the pace quite a bit. Still, I'm not interested. It was a great day hanging out with tons of friends (even if I stay quiet) and a huge learning experience to build off of.
Okay, this is more how I felt. Photo: Clare


  1. Dude that is awesome. Hell of a run. Congrats.

    1. Thanks, it was definitely one those "never again" runs :)

  2. Pretty inspiring stuff, Cordis! Glad I could be a small part of it. If I'm ever dumb enough to try this I hope to have you out there...

    1. I suspect I won't have to wait long for the opportunity!