A visit to family in Tennessee meant a break from the cold and snow of Steamboat and a focus on running the trails. I will admit that I checked the summit web cam and felt like I was missing out viewing all of the snow that fell this past week.
The Southeast trails are certainly different. Roots, rocks, and loads of shorter, steeper uphills. The humidity and warmth were actually nice and good training for my first race in two weeks. The twenty mile run in Montgomery Bell State Park was a blast and I ran some challenging new trails in Percy Warner Park.
Running – 38.3 miles with 4,501 feet of vertical (7:14)
Skiing – 7.1 miles with 3,570 feet of vertical (2:!3)
I still feel behind in my running in where I thought I would be be distance-wise by the first week of May but one cannot control the weather. One negative I am noticing is my feet seem to be blistering pretty bad right now. I need to make some shoe changes over the next month to alleviate it. Hopefully I can use tape and anti-friction goo to help fix the problem for the 8 Hours of Hell and the training over the next couple weeks. Getting away from the humidity at home will likely help a little bit too.
With the improving spring weather early in the week I basically switched the training time from skiing to running. The highlight of the running was the hill repeats on Wednesday with 5 half mile repeats. My sustainable uphill pace was higher than I expected and it honestly just felt good. I moved the long run to Saturday due to weather and it was a good decision with some fresh snow skiing on Sunday, although the wet snow and high winds caused some frozen extremities.
Running – 43.2 miles with 2,100 feet of vertical (7:10)
Skiing – 11.4 miles with 5,771 feet of vertical (3:49)
Just missed eleven hours of training for the week. Next week will likely see some reduction with a travel day and just running visiting Nashville. Should be a great chance to run some miles at lower altitude and on trails. Can’t wait for the long run through the roots and rocks at Mongomery Bell State Park. Hopefully there will be warm weather back home during the trip to really start melting the snow on the trails.
Feeling a bit stressed about the lack of mileage prior to the 8 Hours of Hell but the race should be fun regardless, especially since it was always going to be a long training run to try to get prepared mentally for the 100k in July.
It is five days until my first attempt at the ultra-distance. My last two attempts in the spring of 2014 did not go too well. I caught a nasty cold for a 50k training race and then I had stomach issues for the Fort Clinch 50 a month later. I still wonder if the stomach pains were more mental as I rarely ever have digestive issues.
So everything is going pretty much to plan leading up to next Saturday’s race except for a few training runs. A few mild pains until yesterday when a hip/groin issue popped up again. I know how to deal with it but mentally it was not how I wanted to spend my last Sunday long-ish run. Later in the day I was painting on our deck and subconsciously dragged my toe across the base of the sliding glass door. The pain was immediate and blood started flowing from the small gash right at the top of the toenail. All I could think about was how this would impact my race this Saturday.
I’m sure the small gash will heal by then and I’ll be ready as long as I don’t find a way to damage myself between now and then. Other than fighting my own subconscious I am looking forward to this weekend. Volunteering at the 100 mile race on Friday and then running the 50 on Saturday.
Hard to believe it is already September. Every year around this time I’m reminded of a quote that says, “Summer is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer it gets to the end the faster it goes.”
With only two and a half weeks left until Run Rabbit Run I’m gonna be a bit crazy til then. August was a mixed month. Ended up running more mileage and vert than ever before, started PT to successfully work on a sore Achilles, and ended the month feeling pretty exhausted (luckily feeling much better after a real mellow, flat long run last Sunday).
I’m excited and scared of what lies ahead.
For me, Sunday’s seem to be set aside for the weekly long run. Yesterday was no exception as I ran the entire (+2) Run Rabbit Run 50 Miler course. It is an out-and-back so I ran twenty seven miles and not fifty. I started where the Dumont aid station will be located and proceeded up to the base of the Rabbit Ears on FR291 and back. Then it was simply following the trails back home to the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.
I only made one tiny mistake and that was turning right at the junction to Lost Lake instead of Lake Elmo (I had Long Lake on the brain). Luckily the lake is only around a quarter mile past the junction so I didn’t add much time.
Much easier heading back with a net-downhill but those last five and half miles straight downhill just plain hurt. I had nothing left and could barely keep a ten minute per mile pace when I tried to push the pace. Nothing like a run showing your deficiencies to get one motivated for the next month of training in the mountains.
After the last two weekend runs on the course I have a pretty good feel for the course and I do expect to be able to finish under the fifteen hour cutoff. It will be nice to have aid stations and not have to rely on carrying everything.
After running out of water on my recent Mount Zirkel hike and seeing fresh water all along the trail I decided to invest in some lightweight ways to filter water on my day-hikes and trail runs. I bought a SteriPen and a Lifestraw. I tried both at Long Lake yesterday and was pleased with how both worked. Will definitely be a life-saver on some upcoming hikes and runs in the Zirkels.
Strava data below:
There have been some great articles lately about uphill and downhill running. My favorite was the one on iRunFar. I know I am going to be hiking the majority of the uphills at Run Rabbit Run so I have been trying to improve my skills in that regard.
One of the main routes on my Sunday long-runs this summer has been the actual Run Rabbit Run 50 race course. It is about 3,100 vertical straight up from the house. Most days I have been mixing in some running with the hiking. Yesterday I walked the entire uphill before running back down. What I really wanted to see was how much slower just hiking was compared to mixing in some running. The question was answered after I uploaded the data and started looking back at my previous long runs. Just power-hiking alone was ten minutes slower than mixing in some running.
I’ll keep working on the uphills but I think the strategy on race day will be to walk the entire initial 3,000+ vertical and save the legs for the other forty four miles.
I changed my long run plan around six miles into it. I stopped just past the Morningside Lift and called my wife to see if she would be able to pick me up at Dumont Lake. She said yes and it became a point to point run. The best part was being able to see almost the entire Run Rabbit Run 50 mile course and get an good feel for how the fist half of the race will play out.
The good news is that walking the uphills and running the flats and downhills worked well and it looks like I’ll make the turnaround in under six hours. The bad news is thinking about how in the hell I’m gonna be able to turn around and run back to the start on September 19th.
With just over a month to go I just gotta continue training and playing in the mountains. I also have to get my head around the pain and discomfort I’m gonna feel in the second half. I’ve heard the term “pain cave” and I need to expect to experience it myself.
Sometimes sticking to the familiar means you miss out on amazing things just a short distance away. This is the case for me. With all the great trails close to town, I have been sticking close by home. Yesterday I ventured into the northern Zirkel Wilderness and was reminded of rugged, high alpine mountains one usually doesn’t associate with Steamboat Springs.
Climbing Mt. Zirkel has been on my local bucket list for awhile and I finally decided to cross it off. It takes about an hour of driving to get to the Slavonia trailhead. As you drive higher up the Elk River valley you start to get an idea of how rugged these mountains are compared to those further south.
The hike starts by following the Gold Creek Lake Trail roughly three miles to the lake the trail is named after. I had to pause for a few minutes to take in the mountain view and also watch the trout swimming along the shorelines. Some looked decent sized so it was no wonder the couple people I saw hiking with fishing gear.
The trail from Gold Creek Lake keeps climbing up the valley and as you get higher up the views really open up.
Finally one gets a view of Red Dirt Pass and the wildflowers near and above treeline.
The final climb via the trail puts you on top of Red Dirt Pass.
Then it is off trail to the summit of Mount Zirkel, the highest peak in the Park Range. The terrain is pretty easy to walk on except for the last little bit of boulder hopping to the summit. Along the way and at the top the views are incredible.
As I descended Red Dirt Pass I heard rumbling in the distance. Perfect timing for getting off the peaks and ridges. I continued to hear thunder as I hiked and ran (shuffled) back to the trailhead and arrived back to the car as the first rain drops started falling into the dry dust.
Cannot wait to get back up there. Strava data is below.
My primary running goal for 2015 has been consistency. I spent most of the past three weeks overseas with minimal opportunities to run. I knew this going in so I already had two weeks of zero miles scheduled. Luckily I did manage to run four miles at a fully fenced lodge so I only accrued one week with the dreaded goose egg for mileage.
Now comes the next month of training for Run Rabbit Run 50. My main focus is going to be on vertical and increasing the mileage of the long run into the thirty mile range. I am hoping to incorporate some more hiking as a way to add time and vertical onto my legs without the pounding. At the same time I want to avoid injury and keep the few minor pains (right achilles and hip) from becoming major pains and/or injuries.
The next month and a half should be a fun balancing act as I get ready for my first fifty miler.
To start it off this morning I ran up to Thunderhead Lodge and instead of flying back down the dirt road I decided to run the more technical single track downhill as I believe downhill running is a learned skill and my downhill running skills on single track obviously need some work.