Sunday, May 29, 2016

May 16 - May 29

5/16, Monday - Bouldering

5/17, Tuesday - AM: Bouldering || PM: Salomon Group Run - 3 miles, 1400', 0:46
Run up the 1st/2nd trail with the Salomon group.

5/18, Wednesday - Bouldering

5/19, Thursday - Bouldering

5/20, Friday - 7 x Green Mtn - 29 miles, 16,400', 10:22
In an effort to repent for my lackluster Quadrock performance I went out in hopes of racking up a handful of Green laps. I went through the first 4.9 alone which made caused an odd sense of confusion and delirium. While mindlessly descending on the 5th lap Ryan caught me, finished the descent with me then hopped on for the next 2 laps. I was super dehydrated (very dark urine) and was quite aware I didn't have enough water so I opted to stop at 7 rather than push a couple more without water. Still, managed a okay day.

Summit #7, photo by Ryan.
5/21, Saturday - 2nd Flatiron - 2 miles, 1300', 0:56
Recovery jaunt taking Andrew up the Freeway for his first time. Thankfully, he was a total natural, never asked about a move and never freaked out. That isn't always the case for someone's first round scrambling, it makes my life as the "guide" a whole lot nicer too.

5/22, Sunday - Bike: Jamestown - 37 miles, 2900', 2:30
Fun ride around the hills and then the flats with Dan. Started off with Lee Hill to get the legs working before descending what turned out to be a heinous gravel road in Lefthand Canyon to connect with the short climb to Jamestown. Dan flatted 2/3 up, so I turned around at the fire station before looping back down. We then finished the rest of the gravel road descent before taking turns drafting around the reservoir. Never drafted like that before, taking 5 minute turns we able to absolutely hammer!

Week Totals:

5/23, Monday - AM: 2nd Flatiron - 2 miles, 1400', 0:55 || PM: Freeway & Green Mtn - 5 miles, 2600', 1:57
Met Kory at Chat and went through the typical struggle to keep up on the approach. We scrambled the first half of the rock then I branched over to Free For All (after 133 ascents of Freeway it gets a bit dull). I jogged around the back of the rock to meet him and we ran down together. RMR Green in the evening; I brought poles then decided to scramble, so I ended up seeing how poles work on the rock.
Poles. Yes, the one in my left hand is bent.
5/24, Tuesday - Coal Creek Pk & Crescent Pk - Bike: 29 miles, 1700', 1:42 - Run: 7 miles, 2900', 2:31
Got back over to Coal Creek Canyon on the bike to tag a couple obscure peaks right off the road, this time I made sure to memorize where to stop. I carefully maneuvered over some barbed wire in short shorts and hiked up some steep n' cheap to Coal Creek. The final several hundred feet ended up being a fun 4th class scramble. Crescent is a short ridge-line away but plenty of hidden gendarmes in the trees and undergrowth, thankfully there was no snow to deal with even though Crescent is just a few feet shy of 9,000ft. Getting back to my bike did involve about 3 miles of downhill pavement on the highway, but it wasn't too bad.
A taste of Coal Creek's rocky ridge.
View from the top of Crescent Mountain
5/25, Wednesday - 1st Flatiron, Green Mtn, Bear Pk - 9 miles, 4100', 2:10
Normal route up the 1st (rather than the Red Slab Variation I've been working on) to Green then over to Bear by the west ridge. Legs felt good, so I let it out a bit more than I planned, might have had a shot at breaking 2hrs on the Green and Bear combo without scrambling, someday I'll try and resist scrambling to get that time.

5/26, Thursday - Bike: Lefthand Canyon + Boulder Canyon - 49 miles, 5900', 3:33
A bit cold and some drizzles this morning but it was nice to get up high if only on the bike. Over Lee Hill to Lefthand to Ward then across Peak to Peak to Nederalnd and back down Boulder Canyon. Brief stop in Ward for a much needed cinnamon roll during which I had a nice chat with a dude I met last year at Brainard Lake (who was on a bike with skis strapped to his back at the ripe age of 60ish), he's super rad and gave me a bunch of new ideas.

5/27, Friday - 1st Flatiron, Green Mtn - 6 miles, 2700', 1:40
My quads felt pretty dead from biking so I meandered slowly up the 1st and up to Green. I crossed paths with Tony on the way and he confirmed that when he went all in on biking last year he had sore quads for 6 weeks, guess that's just how goes and I'll just have to embrace it. Slowly jogged down the backside to complete the easy day.

5/28, Saturday - "Old Baldy" & South Arapaho Pks - 7 miles, 4200', 3:32
I was surprised to find the road completely snow free all the way to the trailhead (though it had clearly been plowed). I left the trail almost immediately and hiked up some dry grass ribs into a cloud where I immediately got disoriented after accidentally summitting Old Baldy instead of heading to its saddle with South Arapaho. I used the compass on my phone to reorient myself and get up some icy snow to South Arapaho. The traverse would have been awesome with the right gear (crampons, axe, pants) but sadly I was expecting a more dry ridge and only brought a light pair of gloves, microspikes and shorts. I made it half way across until I reached a tower that I couldn't find a comfortable way around with the gear I had. On the bright side, I was able to glissade for ~600ft on the way down.
The ice covered ridge. I did climb over this part, no pic of what turned me around.
South Arapaho from its saddle with Old Baldy
5/29, Sunday - Bike: Lefthand/Boulder Loop - 51 miles, 5900', 3:13
Same exact ride as Thursday (aside from dodging the creek festival on the way home) but I felt much better this time around. Stopped in Nederland for cinnamon roll following a recommendation that New Moon's are far better than the general store in Ward. All despite, being chastised for breaking the rule of "No food on rides under four hours", which is dumb. Especially, in this case when the cinnamon roll is chocolate walnut, maybe the best I've ever had!

Good week of mixed activity, 37miles/17,900ft on foot and 142miles/14,700ft on the bike for a total of 22h10m.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Failure, quitting and what even matters.

I attempted to race the Quad Rock 50 last weekend, to keep it short, I failed. I trained well and was physically ready to perform what I thought would be a good race. I quit after 25 miles because frankly I didn't care, I didn't feel like running mattered and I didn't want to be there at all. I haven't felt like that ever before. During Mississippi I was stoked from mile 1 to 50 but by mile 18 at Quad Rock while I ran through some of the (honestly) coolest trail racing terrain I've been on I wanted more than anything else to not be running. I ran it into the turnaround point and withdrew myself. The volunteers were quite taken aback because I was clearly (or at least I felt like I was) running fine in a descent position. I'm pretty sure I even ran back out of the turnaround area even while quitting simply to get away.

I'm not saying at all that those 25 miles were too easy for me and I was above the course. I was pushing for 18-20 miles pacing off of fast dudes, its a very difficult course and finishing itself would have been no small feat. Rather, I'm more trying to contrast how you can feel fine physically but not mentally. I've felt the opposite of this many times -- destroyed physically but still with a burning desire -- so it was weird to feel the reverse. A couple days removed and I still have zero desire to go for run, I think an extended break would do me well.

But honestly, how much does running even matter? It doesn't matter any more than any other hobby whether that be video games, art, reading or music. I no longer believe any activity is inherently better in its actions than any other, though I certainly have my own subjective preferences as do we all. Just so long as someone derives joy from the activity and it doesn't harm anyone else I can't find reason to object. So what has made what I choose to do resonate so powerfully with me and why all of a sudden does it feel so vacuous and worthless? I think it comes down to connections and relationships. They can be interpersonal or between you and a broader concept such as the beauty of a painting, the delicate strategy of a game or the grandeur of nature. I think I felt at Quad Rock what I feared so much about in racing versus what I enjoy about running, a cold (in this case quite literally, given the temperatures) battle of unknown competitors competing for some arbitrary abstraction of running in the mountains. Maybe not everyone felt like that, but I think I did.

I wonder how I coped mentally with other objectives then? In Mississippi my friendship with Jack and our mutual desire for both our own successes and one another's felt completely different from a traditional race. During the Boulder Badass (which is a good example of an entirely physical pain induced drop on my part) the passion and drive to finish was shared amongst everyone involved; it was a group effort. In a sort of weird analogy it felt like holding someone's hand versus trying climb over or around them. For 10 laps of Green I was motivated by a connection to a trail and mountain which I had been on so many times.

My conclusion then, is that the reason I couldn't bear to finish Quad Rock was a result of the absence of anything remotely like what I had felt before. The simple act of running doesn't matter at all and measuring oneself based off of times and accomplishments sets a dangerous precedent for egotistical narcissism. I only hope I haven't fallen too far away from what I love in running. I'll try starting things up in a week or two again. It's not a bad time to take off either, weather in May has become rather dreadful and the high country is simply not ready for quick and easy travel. Once I can get the fire started again I'll have a lot to prepare for.