One week ago, on Saturday, William and I had planned on doing a big day of laps on Mt. Morrison, going for twelve hours if possible. Sadly, mother nature had a different idea for us that day. We started at 6am and made it to the top of the first lap for a beautiful sunrise. However, starting on our second lap the storm that was supposed to roll in that evening arrived early. We were in good spirits and challenged mother nature to bring on the snow and cold. On the third lap, it started to really blizzard and the trail in sections started to get really slick (the rock section at the top and the initial .5 miles that is pretty steep and loose). We continued on our way, but as conditions continued to deteriorate and the trail became less and less manageable, we thought it best to save ourselves from a possible ankle-twisting slip and call it a day after four laps. Still a great time, and given the conditions, not bad: ~16 miles and ~8,000' of gain.
Looking west from the summit at sunrise
Above the storm clouds at sunrise looking east
The summit on lap three, storm raging below
Over the past year+ I've been hard at work on a new guidebook to trail running along Colorado's Front Range. Well, on Monday I finally received two advanced copies of the book. Published by CMC Press, I'm really happy with how it turned out. It was a ton of work, running all of the trails (many multiple times), taking hundreds of photos (over 150 in all), checking and re-checking stats, information, etc. I was pretty burned out on it and kinda not into it by the end, but now that it is done and in print, I'm really excited. I also had a lot of great help from fellow runners, who contributed nice bits throughout the book to help break it up. I'm really thankful for their generosity and for CMC Press for publishing it. Copies should be hitting stores in a couple weeks.
On Saturday, I ran a fast road 10K. Having never run a road race of this kind, and coming off a summer of mountain slogging, I wasn't really too sure what to expect. I had a vague idea of trying to beat :40 minutes, but I really had no idea if that was possible for me. The course consisted of 800' of climbing, with the first 3/4 mile following a gently uphill dirt service road before hopping onto a bike path and rolling along around the Arvada Reservoir. About 2.5 miles in a solid 500' climb went up onto the mesa behind the reservoir before turning east. I went out right behind the lead pack, figuring I'd just try and redline it from the gun, holding a bit back for the end. I felt pretty good once I got off the dirt road and started to get into a groove, and then caught a few guys on the climb as that is my strength. Up on the mesa, I was able to pull in two other guys before having to battle a fairly decent headwind for about two miles. The lead pack was up ahead, and it was just me and some dude in Newtons fighting it out - no idea on position, but just pushing each other. I took over the lead and responsibility of breaking the wind at mile 4, and then tried to make a little break at mile 4.5 at the start of the final climb of 200' or so. I was maybe twenty yards ahead, but the wind and effort started to get to me, and Newtons started to pull me back in. He caught back up and then drafted for a bit, at which point there was a final climb up and then a rolling section to the finish line. He made a move on the final couple meters of the climb, and then very subtly pushed a bit harder. I had nothing to respond with, and just tried to hold on as best I could. I crossed the line in :41:51, which was good enough for 9th place overall, 3rd in my age group. I was pretty pleased, since I had no idea what to expect given the distance and racing against some fast roadies.
Making my move with Newtons on my tail
New article on how some Kenyans are able to maintain cerebral oxygenation during maximal self-paced efforts. Interesting stuff, although as Dr. Samuele Marcora noted, we don't have any data from others to compare this to.
Nice video of Jennilyn Eaton and Craig Lloyd's new Zion Double Crossing FKT.
After sleeping in and not wanting to do anything as it seemed windy outside, Tara and I finally rallied and we went up to Bakerville to give a go at Grays and Torreys today. I have not been back since completing my challenge, and with the howling wind and blizzard like conditions, I instantly got PTSD. "Running" up the snow covered road, I kept thinking how I had run this damn thing every week all last winter. This sucked - it was cold (around 6 degrees), windy, snowing, and I could be down on the Front Range running on some nice dry trails. However, pretty soon I had reached the summer trailhead, my PTSD had mostly vanished, and I was ready to put on my final layers to try and push through the brunt of the storm above the willows and into the open tundra. Climbing 14ers in the winter is great if you can deal with the cold and snow, as there was no one else in the entire basin. Once again I got into my power hike and just put my head down and broke trail. Conditions never got better and after passing the Big Sign and the Kelso ridge turnoff, it got really cold and windy. My jacket started to freeze into a single frozen icicle and I started to get a blistering headache from the pure, cold wind. Needless to say, after tagging Gray's summit, I elected to get the hell out of there before I completely froze, not tagging Torrey's summit.
Lovely conditions up there
It's only 4,700' down and about 7 miles to get to the car...