Never Summer training week eleven recap

I wrapped up a low volume, high quality week. There are only 6 days to go.

  • 4 hours, 56 minutes

  • 28.5 miles

  • 2,392 ft D+

I did a bit of tempo running on Tuesday out on the county roads while my daughter was doing her equestrian thing. Intervals on dirt at Pineridge on Wednesday. Some easy suburban single track on Thursday. More easy running at Horsetooth on Saturday and an easy out and back on the Spring Creek bike trail today. I'm still doing strength and conditioning workouts, but am going easy on my legs.

Next week I'm going to run about 75 miles, including the race on Saturday, which returns to its original 64 miles after a reduction to 61 last year. Due to a failure of attention I ended up doing about 63 miles last year. I'm not going to do 66 this time. If you're curious about the latest pre-race information from the directors, read it here. I'm taking Friday off work to get up to the race start and do some volunteering at the finish line for the 60k version of the race.

Until then, my main goals are to sleep well, stay healthy, and tune out non-critical things. I apologize in advance for not replying to emails, new issues on GitHub, etc.

Trying new things

Today I got fins, mask, snorkel, and an introductory snorkeling lesson in a pool as a birthday present and homework for an upcoming trip. Ruth, my partner, grew up on the Southern California coast and is a swimmer and passionate about scuba diving. I grew up in the desert of the Intermountain West and am ambivalent about putting my head under water. We're going to meet in the middle. Our kids took the lesson with me. Both are pretty good swimmers, one has some open water snorkeling experience already. I've spent a lot of yoga hours training to inhale only through my nose, so learning to inhale only through my mouth with a snorkel clenched in my teeth is kind of a trick. I enjoyed the lesson and am looking forward to some snorkeling in the ocean.

Ruth and Beatrice, our youngest daughter, ride horses regularly and our oldest rides occasionally. It's been clear that I need to try this, too, and I did yesterday, spending an hour learning to saddle, mount, and ride a horse at the stable where Ruth and Beatrice have been riding. They're into dressage and jumping, I'm only learning the basics of Western riding, My goal is to be able to go out on a two hour trail ride with my family without falling off and prematurely ending things. I'm pretty sure I'll succeed. I'm getting comfortable with horses and they, at least the ones at Sunrise Equine, are comfortable with me.

Jet the mustang, my first horse

I learned how to sit and how to use my feet and legs, how to hold the reins with two hands and one hand, how to turn, how to trot, how to balance going up and downhill, kind of a crash course in Western trail riding. I'm still a rank beginner, let's be clear, there is so much yet to learn, but my mind really did expand yesterday. I have much more appreciation for the passion people have for horses and riding. Horses are fantastic creatures, with brains and personalities, and connect us to the ancient times of giant mammals. I expect I'll remain primarily a runner, not a rider, but one who wouldn't want to live in a world without horses.

Never Summer training week ten recap

Saturday was my last longer run before the Never Summer 100k. I left Lory State Park's Arthurs Rock trailhead at 6:20 a.m. to beat the heat and I'm glad I did because the last of the 19 miles had to be done in roasting conditions. At the top of the ridge I saw a turkey hen with a flock of chicks and mariposa lilies in bloom. It's been a good year for wildflowers and the bounty continues.

Here are my numbers.

  • 8 hours, 39 minutes

  • 43 miles

  • 6,385 ft D+

Sunrise at Lory State Park

Mariposa lily

With 13 days to go, how am I doing? My overall health is good. No hamstring injury like last year's and I'm keeping sinus infections at bay by rinsing and using an over-the-counter steroid spray. I believe I'm more fit than last year and I'm better at running. Downhill running in particular, with numbers to prove it. I've done high mountain running and hiking on five occasions, including a day on the Never Summer course and another day above 4000 meters, which is as good as the race-specific training I did last year. I'm confident about my gear and the experience I gained last year.

The only thing I'm going to do differently this time is run with a pacer for the last 10-15 miles. Mike Thompson offered to pace and I'm accepting. The plan is for Mike to keep me moving quickly through the last two aid stations and encourage me to give all I've got between Bockman and the finish line.

Never Summer training week nine recap

It's 20 days to the start of the Never Summer 100k. My objectives for this last training block are fine-tuning and tapering. I'll be reducing my mileage every week. Week nine's numbers remained relatively high.

  • 14 hours, 16 minutes

  • 64.7 miles

  • 10,735 ft D+

I ran six days in a row. One interval workout on Wednesday. One hilly tempo run at Horsetooth on Friday. Back-to-back long runs on the weekend. These were my last back-to-backs before my race.

Mike Thompson and I ran and hiked to the summits of Hagues Peak (13,573 ft) and Mummy Mountain (13,430 ft) from the Lumpy Ridge trailhead on Saturday, a 25 mile round trip. These are the 4th and 8th highest peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hagues is a rocky scramble and Mummy is a steep tundra walk. Both have big, flat tops with nice views. Including stops, the trip took ten hours. Because the weather was neither cold nor wet and streams were still running at the bases of the peaks we were able to go very light. I have a Sawyer brand squeeze filter with a 16 ounce pouch. It doesn't have much throughput, but weighs only 4 ounces and takes up very little room in my pack. I filtered and re-filled my two 16-ounce soft bottles at the saddle below Hagues and repeated this at the top of Black Canyon Creek on the way home. Still, I got a little dehydrated and was feeling pretty spent by the time we finished.

Big fungus on the Black Canyon Trail

Rowe Glacier and lake from the summit of Hagues Peak

Crystal Lake from the summit of Mummy Mountain

Sunday I convinced my tired and sore legs to go back out again for a much more mellow two-hour loop in Fort Collins. I felt much looser after.

Never Summer training week eight recap

I've been enjoying a week of recovery. I ran five times, but not long or hard. Friday and Saturday I ran around and near Dowdy Lake, where my family and I camped.

  • 3 hours, 49 minutes

  • 24 miles

  • 1,073 ft D+

I'm looking forward to getting back at it next week. Only four more to go before the start of the Never Summer 100k.

Backside of a major rainstorm

Never Summer training week seven recap

Week seven was the biggest week of my biggest training block. I ran six days in a row, with a solid speed workout mid-week and back-to-back-to-back long hilly runs Friday-Sunday. We had friends over for dinner Sunday evening and I was falling asleep at the table. Three consecutive days of waking before 5 a.m. to run for hours were taking their toll. Monday I was still having periods of fatigue and grogginess. The numbers might hold some explanation.

  • 17 hours, 48 minutes

  • 76.5 miles

  • 14,639 ft D+

Over the past 4 weeks I've run 255 miles and climbed 41,000 ft. My elevation gain in week seven was the fourth highest in the Gnar Runners Strava group. The folks ahead of me were all Gnar Slam finishers in previous years, perennials on the podiums, and one is running the UTMB this summer. I'm going more slowly, for sure, but am still getting it done.

Friday morning before work I ran in Lory State Park. I struggled through the first mile, but after a break to take pictures and resettle my head and legs I had a solid run.

Saturday I ran 50 km at Horsetooth and Lory. We had a little rain but not enough that I needed to break out my jacket or change plans.

Summer rain

Sunday I ran from the Bierstadt Lake trailhead at the Bear Lake Road park and ride to "Flattop Mountain" (12,324 ft) in Rocky Mountain National Park and back. I didn't run all the way, I hiked most of the uphill, but I did it all in one push without stopping.

Alpine clouds

Week eight is a recovery week. I'm doing easy runs and hikes and core strength exercises, but no workouts or very long runs.

Never Summer training week six recap

I'm in the middle of my peak training block and need a couple days to recover before writing my recap blog post. Here are the numbers for week six.

  • 15 hours, 41 minutes

  • 73.3 miles

  • 13,150 ft D+

A lot of steep running and hiking, much of it above 9,000 ft on the Never Summer course. One interval workout. The usual core exercises. Six days of running in a row.

Saturday I went with Mike Montgomery to run in State Forest State Park on the Never Summer 100k course. On the way to Cameron Pass we drove through sections of the Poudre Canyon which were badly burned last year.

Burned forest upstream from Rustic

Since we didn't start very early and lost time when we temporarily lost the Grass Creek Road, we ran up against a thunderstorm as we approached Montgomery Pass and the long, exposed ridge to North Diamond Peak (11,852 ft), the high point of the Never Summer course. We waited 30 minutes for it to pass to the south and then hustled across the ridge just before the next round of precipitation. Small hail did not complicate the steep descent from North Diamond.

Mike reaching the North Diamond summit

Selfie during a sunny moment on the ridge

On Sunday I needed more hilly miles but didn't want to deal with a long drive, navigation, or a full pack. Hence, I drove to the Soderberg Trailhead at Horsetooth and went up and down the Towers Trail (7 miles and 1,700 ft of climbing) three times, carrying only an 18 oz bottle, and stopping at my car to grab food and drink a mini Coke in between climbs. It's always fun to see the looks when people recognize me coming back for another trip to the top.

Never Summer training week five recap

Last week I spent a lot of time on local trails and on trails in Rocky Mountain National Park and the Roosevelt National Forest. I'm trying to build endurance for running at higher elevations and made some good progress. Here are the numbers.

  • 14 hours, 57 minutes

  • 70 miles

  • 9,672 ft D+

In the city I suffered from allergies and hay fever again this season and my speed workout last week was a minor disaster, but I felt great in the mountains at the end of the week. Saturday I picked Mike Thompson up in Loveland, drove to Lily Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, and we did some multiple minor peak bagging: Estes Cone (11,007 ft) and points west, and the Twin Sisters peaks (11,427 ft). 20 miles of rocky trails and 6,000 feet of climbing between 9,000 and 11,400 ft elevation. One of my bigger non-race days ever.

Longs Peak (14,259 ft) from the east Twin Sisters summit

Sunday I went to the Red Feather Lakes region northwest of Fort Collins for some easy trail running and summer campsite scouting. On the way I stopped for a run at Eagles Nest Open Space, a beautiful park on the North Fork of the Poudre River. The trail network isn't extensive enough to make it a big running destination, but the scenery is very nice.

Spiderwort and syprhid fly

Eagles Nest and the North Fork of the Poudre River

From Eagles Nest I continued west on County Road 74E to the Roosevelt National Forest's Mount Margaret trailhead for another several hours of running in higher forest and meadows. It was a hot day, even at 8,000 ft. I was glad that I brought plenty of water and ice.

Iris are common in the wetter meadows

A fireline from last fall's battle against the Cameron Peak Fire

Never Summer training week four recap

Because the previous three weeks weren't very hard, I ran more this week than I will during my next break on week eight. Five days of running, one short speed workout, one hilly run, and one long run today. The numbers:

  • 6 hours, 43 minutes

  • 36.2 miles

  • 3,507 ft D+ (dénivelé positif or elevation gain)

For curiosity's sake I changed the work/rest ratio for my speed workout to four minutes of hard running and 2 minutes of easy jogging recovery. It's a subtly different workout. I was able to run at and beyond my lactate threshold (by feel) a little bit more with another minute of recovery. I might switch between 5:1 and 4:2 in the future.

Saturday I went out for two hour run on a hilly, 250 ft D+ per mile, route in Lory. The switch on our weather has flipped, as it does, from cool and rainy to roasting heat, and I was grateful for the water that still flows in Well Gulch, at Arthurs Rock, and along the Overlook Trail. I see long term forecasts from NOAA that predict that the hot and dry weather is here to stay.

Eltuck trailhead and a thunderstorm west of Lory State Park

Today, Sunday, I ran from my house to Pineridge Natural Area and the first two little ridges on the east edge of the Rocky Mountains. I watched my heart rate and kept this run super easy, dialing my effort back on the small grades. I can run all out to the bench at the top of the "Skimmerhorn", a 10% grade for 0.4 miles, but today I hiked it very casually.

Dixon Reservoir from the bench

It's a great time for wildflowers on the Front Range, especially the blue ones. I've seen extra large patches of penstemon and skullcap (from the mint family) this week.

Britton's Skullcap (Scutellaria brittonii)

I'm planning to do a lot of alpine running in the next three weeks. Expect photos with tundra, rocks, and snow.

Never Summer training week three recap

I'm training in earnest again. During week three I ran six times, including a speed workout and back-to-back long runs.

  • 11 hours, 33 minutes

  • 60.8 miles

  • 7,858 ft D+

I did 5 minute repeats (with 1 minute recovery) on the Spring Creek trail for the first time since January. After weeks of walking and easy running only while I was rec from injury, I was only up for four repeats. The goal of this workout is to increase my lactate threshold, my capacity for harder running, and work on my form while fatigued. My standard workout comes from Krissy Moehl's book. The 5:1 work/rest ratio makes it more steady than a 2:1 cruise workout, while faster and less grueling than 25-35 minutes of steady hard running. I'm going to do this workout again next week, which will be a little lighter in anticipation of three very hard weeks to come.

Saturday I ran 19 miles at Lory and Horsetooth, a route similar to the second half of Quad Rock with two and a half of its three climbs. I hit the trail before 7 a.m. and had beautiful running weather all morning long. I didn't see many runners, mostly bikers, deer, turkeys, and wildflowers. Horsetooth Open Space is trying out a new one-way loop system and it did help make the Horsetooth Falls Trail feel less crowded.

Arthurs Rock at 8 a.m.

Mountain ball cactus beginning to bloom

View towards Masonville from South Ridge Trail

Sunday's weather was very wet. I had intended to run up and down Towers Trail twice, but arrived at the Soderberg trailhead at 9 a.m. in torrential rain, water running off in every gully and gulch along Shoreline Drive. I waited in my car for an hour and then gave up. Around 5 p.m. the rain tapered off into a drizzle, so I went out for a long run from my house, up the Spring Creek bike path to Pineridge Open Space and beyond. The rain stopped within a mile and I enjoyed a cool, quiet, and peaceful run. I haven't run at the very end of a day since last year's Never Summer race and the dimming light and wet smells brought up a lot of strong, good memories.

Arthurs Rock from Centennial Drive