Sunday, March 27, 2016

A bit of recovery, injury and vacation

3/7, Monday - Off
Still recovering

3/8, Tuesday - Bike: Boulder Res - 18 miles, 700', 1:11
Generally just rolling around and getting outside. Only pushed the pedals hard enough to maintain forward progress, nothing more.

3/9, Wednesday - Bike: Nelson Rd - 28 miles, 1100', 1:38
Easy with Hillary.

3/10. Thursday - Bike: Hygeine Rd - 34 miles, 1100', 1:49
A little longer today and my butt is not ready for long rides yet, but I'm happy to be out of the MS50 pressures to log all my activities as runs.

3/11, Friday - 1st Flatiron & Green Mtn - 5 miles, 2700', 1:37
Tried to pace off of Hillary to the summit while she took the trail and got crushed. The scramble was 17min but to match a time of someone on the trail you probably need to split like 13min on the face and a 1:45 downclimb. Energy is still quite low.

3/12, Saturday - 2nd Flatiron, 1st Flatiron, 2nd Flatiron, Morning After, Challenger, Fist, Green Mtn - 11 miles, 5400', 4:49
First up was a jaunt to the true summit of the 2nd (rather than Freeway), before the usual direct route on the 1st. Downclimbed the 2nd for a more direct route to the Royal Arch trail which I left once it turned south to head up to Morning After. It was a fairly miserable bushwhack, hopefully there exists a more elegant back there somewhere. I sat at the 5.7 overhang for a bit until I finally figured out the right sequence and it was cake; the fist crack to the top was great but then it took me a good 15min to figure out how to get off the back. I wimped out on the GMP chimney, again. I was able to find a nice line up Challenger climbing a bit of slab before enjoying handcrack and then arete all the way to the summit. Getting the Fist was a massive chore but the scramble and 3rd crack climb of the day was well worth it, the crimp-y downclimb was sort of fun too. Ran into Hillary and Eric on top so I ran back down Bear Canyon with them. Well, my ITB decided to tighten to the point where I couldn't bend my knee at all so I had to walk in extreme pain the last mile. Hillary drove me to my bike at Chautauqua, even biking was teeth grinding pain to get my knee bending at all.

A photo posted by Cordis Hall (@cordisimo) on

3/13, Sunday - Off
ITB crap. Hopefully, this thing cools off quick. Definitely better than yesterday.

Week Totals:
some running
some scrambling
some biking

Week of recovery ending abruptly with some ITB issues -- gah!

3/15, Tuesday- 3 x 2nd Flatiron - 7 miles, 3000', 1:45:53
Definitely not on this rock for the quality of scrambling, but for a workout. Ran from campus for a warm-up then did three all out laps in 7:40, 7:44 and 7:34. Ran into Jack and his buddy on the last two so I hung out for a couple minutes with them when I was done. ITB tightened up a bit but it was tolerable, seems to be slowly releasing.

3/16, Wednesday - Bear Pk, South Boulder Pk, Green Mtn, 13 miles, 4700', 3:30
With Hillary, my ITB felt shaky at the start but seemed to respond alright until the descent down Bear's west ridge. I barely made it up Green and getting back to my bike was a mostly-walk. Bad.

3/17 - Off
Woke up unable to bend my knee. I tried acupuncture with Ginna in the afternoon as a last ditch effort to salvage spring break plans and oh-my goodness did it work. After a series of stabs, shocks and suctions she was able to really get to the underlying issue(s).

3/18 - Off

3/19, Saturday - Hidden Valley - 8 miles, 1600', 1:26
Easy shake out run with Hillary after the drive over to Moab. Nice to escape the ice in Boulder and run unencumbered by excessive warmth and traction gear. ITB felt okay, fragile descending.

A photo posted by Cordis Hall (@cordisimo) on

3/20, Sunday - Amasa/Cliffhanger - 12 miles, 2000', 2:05
The first 4 miles had me really getting worried as we made our way to pothole arch, but somehow while on the jeep-packed 4x4 road, Cliffhanger, I figured out how to run painlessly again and we had blast running alongside the cliffs then back down some winding slickrock trails back to the car.

Week Totals:
39 miles

3/21, Monday - Druid Arch - 19 miles, 2800', 5:01
Yesterday's outing gave me some excessive confidence and I paid for it today. The first 8 miles we wound up through Lost Canyon alternating between sandy washes and sandstone bluffs with incredible views of the Needles District, Islands in the Sky and in the fat distance, the La Sal Mountains. We made the turn to Druid Arch 10 miles in, more than our map suggested (thus lower on water than planned); the trail up was essentially a very sandy wash that really took a toll on my ITB. When we turned back down I had terrifying realization that I couldn't run anymore, 7 miles from the car with a lot of sand, rocks and canyon in between. It was a very long, painful and frustrating walk back that was only made tolerable not being alone and the incredible terrain I so wished I could have enjoyed even more.

Hillary looking back at the winding canyons we finished up with.
Druid Arch
3/22, Tuesday - Bike - 26 miles, 1100', 1:31
The ITB felt a bit better by the afternoon so rather than sit inside all day I figured to see if at least the bike didn't hurt. It didn't hurt, but it was super windy so anything eastbound I could easily hold 30mph while going west I was pedaling hard just to get down hills.

3/23, Wednesday - Off
Tons of snow here, the only person I know that ran was going to get food from the store.

3/24, Thursday - Roads - 8 miles, 500', 1:10
Easy with Hillary and Phil.

3/25, Friday - Flagstaff Road - 8 miles, 1400', 1:03
4 x 5min hard with 2m30s rest up Flagstaff road. The trails are almost impassable with out heavy the snowfall was. Good (though short) workout but I didn't feel too strong cranking uphill.

3/26, Satuday - 2 x Mt Sanitas - 6 miles, 3100', 1:51
With Hillary and Leonard. Conditions were better than expected but we expected it to be really bad. Thought about going for a 3rd but at this stage of winter snow is more annoying than fun to deal with. Easy pace with poles hiking everything.

3/27, Sunday - AM: Longs Peak Bailout - 7 miles, 2900', 3:31 || PM: Creek - 4.5 miles, 30:15
Was hopeful I could squeek this in but, oh well. I made good time (35min) to treeline then getting to Granite Pass took 90 minutes (in the summer I can almost go TH to summit in that time!). This mostly due to horribly unpredictable snow conditions: alternating between wind-slab, then the wheel-of-fortune for ankle-, knee- and hip-deep punchy postholing. The wind-chill was also around -33F so that was pretty miserable too. I'm just not that hardened of a mountain man; I miss summer! Got home and went for run on the creek path to let out the frustration of turning around.

A photo posted by Cordis Hall (@cordisimo) on

Week Totals (running):
53 miles

Weird few weeks with weather, vacation, injury, recovery, etc. Lots of fun and some tough breaks too. I did become an ambassador athlete for Salomon though and I'm excited to use and help promote their vast and expanding arsenal of alpine running products. Last, with that Salomon thing I was able to enter the Quad Rock 50 in mid-may so I'm getting right back into training mode.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Mississippi 50

Jack and I flew into New Orleans Friday evening where his Dad picked us up to make the 2 hour drive to Laurel, MS where the race would be held. Mr. Daly would be running the 50k, with 7 or so 50 mile finishes already under is belt. We chatted about strategy and nutrition; I still had no idea what my plan of attack was. Jack being in the best shape of his life was planning on holding 7:30's till he couldn't. I was split between trying to run a smart, conservative and evenly paced race and going for broke and hoping to hold on.

We spent the night in a hotel 25 minutes from the starting line and woke up at 4:15 Saturday morning for the 6AM start. The race runs three 12.x mile loops and two 6.x mile loops through Desoto National Forest which is generally flat, muddy and wet. Thankfully, this year was relatively dry, so aside from the crossings, we had sure footing. The trees are tall southern pine with a dense bushes underneath, certainly a lot more plant life than I'm used. The start was cold enough that we both elected to wear gloves for the first loop.

Chatting with Jack at the starting line.
At the start Jack shot off at low 7's with a couple other guys while I held back and settled in with another guy at 7:40's.There is a short out and back on the 12 miles loop where I was able to see Jack and gauge my place as 3rd/4th with the other guy I was running with. After a conservative first 12 miles I felt well warmed up; when the guy next to me slowed down to eat a gel I thought "Oh, what the heck let's see what we can do" and dropped the pace down to 7:20's. I was feeling fantastic, the early morning rays of sun were piercing through the canopy of foliage above and I was having a ball thrashing through the mud pits (even if I was covering my bottle and gels with mud I would later eat). I assumed 2nd place around mile 16 where the other guy was (already!?) walking. At the out and back, Jack hadn't gained any time on me.
Trying to stay cool as the temperatures rose, luckily, never too hot though.
I came through the marathon at around 3:17 (PR) still feeling good but conscious of impending fatigue. Keeping the mile splits below eight minutes became progressively more labored, but with enough effort I was able to average 7:50's on the final 12 mile loop. Although he was well ahead of me, Jack's gap hadn't grown. Having lead until the final 4 or 5 miles last year, I would learn Jack was scared at this point, but I knew he had nothing to worry about. On the out and back pass I put on my best poker face to look fresh. I'm sure the efficient stride he was running at was no show, though.
Re-supplying at the car before another loop. (photo: Mr. Daly)
Starting the first 6 mile loop I was really starting to feel it. I had been drinking far more water and electrolytes than I normally do along with Coke, though I believe I still wasn't keeping up with my sodium needs. On this loop I would have to make a couple trips to the bushes; of which during the first I experienced the first of the oh-so-familiar leg cramps. This happened in my last 50, only this time I knew how to deal with them and I was almost close enough to the end to smell the barn. My splits fell back into the low 10's including one standout 11:06 where I had to make a trip to the bushes. It was a very long 6 miles.
Mostly naked and mostly miserable trying to get the legs moving again after my last resupply. (photo: Mr. Daly)
Jack's dad had done "only" the 50km so he had already finished - with a 2nd place and near PR - and was now helping us finish up. "Is Jack up there in another galaxy?" I asked, "Oh, he's still flying!" he replied. At this point I was firmly in 2nd and clearly out of the running for 1st barring supernatural intervention so I set my sights on staying under 7 hours. I voiced my doubts and Mr. Daly immediately shot me down. All I had to do was hold low 10's for the remaining 6 miles and I would break 7 handily. It was a real tooth grinder, with some admitted walking but in time I found myself at the threshold where it was time to empty the tank. As my watch ticked over the 6:40 mark I now set my objective as going under the 6:50 mark. I felt like I was at an all out sprint (Strava would indicate it was close to 8:30's -- at best) and every now and again my stride would flinch with a calf or hamstring cramp that had been firing for the past 90 minutes. Turning a corner I could see the finish and pushed it to the line. The clock read 6:47:30
To the finish.
The first thing I wanted to know was Jack's time, his goal a few months ago was essentially what I ran, and he had been out of sight and never really faltered in his pacing. He ran 6:18, 7:37 pace (certainly deservant of whatever explicit phrase I exclaimed)! Jack would be the 4th fastest person ever on the course, my 6:47 put me in 7th all-time (farther back if you include multiple finished by one person). Our "crew" of sorts (Jack, his father and myself) were able to leave with a good haul of hardware all with time to grab some Cajun fried chicken for lunch! Mr. Daly informed me the only time its okay to get fried chicken at a gas station in Mississippi is after an ultra.
John Brower (3rd, 7:03), myself and Jack all clearly happy to be stationary with finisher medals (and visors). It was great day for us all. Race director Dennis Bisnette is on the right.
All of the ultra-running focus may be on big mountain races with insane scenery, but I think I learned a lot from this Mississippi race. The ultra-running scene down south felt so pure and simplistic, these people straight love running and there aren't many bells and whistles to distract you from the reason you're there to begin with. You don't hike, scramble or stop and admire views -- you run. Its cool, and I have a lot more respect for the obvious passion for the simplest form of this sport that is so evident in the flatter-lands. This of course is beside the simple fact that the course itself is super fun. It felt like a high school cross country course combined with a sufferfest with an intimate small-town feel. I was certain I would never want to come back, but with free entry next year (podium get's free entry!), who knows, maybe I'll come back and see if I can go faster!
Bringing home the goods.