Quad Rock training week nine recap

Snow made it hard to go far or climb up, but I hung in and persevered.

  • 13 hours, 56 minutes

  • 56.3 miles

  • 8386 ft D+

At least the weather was favorable this weekend. Sunny with a high temperature of 2-3 °C and light wind. Muddy trails froze solid Saturday night and so the trails were icy but not sloppy on Sunday morning. The nice weather let me go uphill in a t-shirt and light gloves and only unpack my wool top for long shady descents. I didn't use my windbreaker at all, or my first aid kit. I spent a lot of time on the infamously icy Mill Creek trail on Saturday and was relieved to find that all of my favorite places to slip and crash were well covered with heavy snow.

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Snow-free hillside with a heavily drifted trail

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Looking southwest from Horsetooth's Westridge trail to Longs Peak

Warmer and drier weather is in the forecast for the first week of March. I'm looking forward to ice-free and drier trails next weekend.

February 24, 2018: In Bengaluru

I haven't left Colorado in over a year. It seems like a dream that three years ago I was hopping between continents on planes and in Bengaluru.

Since then my connections to the city have weakened, and grown, and weakened again. Mapbox closed its office there six months after my visit. Some folks, like my friend Pratik, moved to San Francisco or Washington, D.C. and I got to see them more often. Ruth's department hired a new assistant professor who grew up in Bangalore and became a mentor to me on the subject of Indian cooking, and pickles in particular. But since the COVID pandemic hit I haven't seen Vamsi at all, and I've only seen Pratik on Google hangouts. Multiple times a week, though, and memories of Bangalore remain a touchstone.

In my older blog post I mentioned the importance of street trees in Bengaluru and in looking for recent writing on the subject I came upon this great post: https://www.thenatureofcities.com/2018/07/01/secular-sacred-domestic-living-street-trees-bangalore/.

Quad Rock training week eight recap

I wrapped up week eight of my 19-week Quad Rock training program today.

  • 11 hours, 32 minutes

  • 50.9 miles

  • 6926 ft D+

The past week's program is comparable to 2019's week 13. I ran six times. Two workouts, two short easy runs, and two multi-hour long runs. The weather was warmer and more sunny than the week before, but more snow fell. Slogging makes you tough, right? That's what I tell myself.

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Well Gulch, Friday morning

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Towers road, Sunday morning

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Westridge aspen grove, close up

Recent adjustments to my training have yielded two positive results. Rededicating myself to stretching and foam rolling has eliminated the buzzing in my left side sciatic nerve that cropped up at the end of week seven. Two weeks ago I'd written about my concern that I had been neglecting my aerobic base and that I would begin to deliberately slow down my long runs. I'm happy to say that I'm feeling less sluggish in low gear now. Going at my 100k pace is feeling better and better.

Quad Rock training week seven recap

It's been a cold rest week. Yesterday I went out for a run at -17 °C. Today it was one degree colder. The only thing I enjoyed about it was seeing some friends on the road and the feeling that I'm making progress on my running form. Now I'm back inside stretching and drinking tea and don't plan to do much of anything else until Monday. Here's the week in numbers.

  • 3 hours, 27 minutes

  • 19.9 miles

  • 692 ft D+

Next week will be challenging. More hills and miles and all of it with snow on the ground and lingering cold temperatures.

Quad Rock training week six recap

Week six (of 19) is done.

  • 12 hours, 36 minutes

  • 56.7 miles

  • 9495 ft D+

I did some tempo running on Tuesday, a hard hill workout on Wednesday, and 35+ miles on the weekend. Saturday and Sunday I reigned myself in and kept those miles comfortable in an effort to keep building my aerobic base. It's tempting to get sucked into measuring my fitness by how fast I can climb Mill Creek or South Ridge one time, but most of the races I'm running this year will be longer and slower. Running at an average pace of 13:45-14:30 minutes per mile for 9-10 hours, as I did, feels so slow, but if I can do that for 50 miles on the same terrain I will achieve my goal of finishing Quad Rock in under 12 hours. I can't finish in less than 12 hours alternating between hard running and walking to recover. I really do have to increase the pace I can run all day long. Running even one minute per mile slower at Never Summer would get me an excellent 16 hour finish.

Saturday, while heading north on the Westridge trail my eye was caught by this shiny thing hammered into the ground.

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Photo point on Westridge

The forest up here is being thinned in an effort to make the park less susceptible to catastrophic fires. I guess that the photo point is part of a plan to monitor what happens to the undergrowth afterwards.

On the subject of trees, I stopped below Horsetooth Mountain to snack and trade an empty bottle in the front pocket of my vest for one stashed in the back and noticed for the first time this little stand of aspen trees.

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Crappy photo of Horsetooth Open Space aspen

Natural aspen are rare at 6500 feet on the Front Range. They're more common above 8000 feet. I wonder if these are remnants of an older wild stand or are descendents of trees planted by early 1900s homesteaders.

At the end of my run the sun came out again and I stopped to remove a layer and admire this view of Horsetooth Mountain. Now that's a nicely thinned forest. At the bottom of the photo you can see piles of dead wood that will be burned later this winter.

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Horsetooth from Herrington Trail

There was ice on the usual spots Saturday and without traction I crashed twice, bruising my right elbow and the heel of my right hand. Nothing serious and it didn't hold me back on my second long run today.

Next week: rest, family time, letting my body adapt to all the work of the past three weeks.

Quad Rock training week five recap

I ran 5 days this week, one less than last week. My back-to-back long runs were longer, 25 miles for the weekend. I kept up with my strength and conditioning workouts, did a tempo run on the bike trail, and went up and down the Towers Trail for a mid-week workout: 1500 feet of climbing in 30 minutes of hard running in the snow. I didn't intend to do any segment sniping, but got the 2nd fastest time ever in my age group on The Shining. 1/7th of a mile with an average grade of 14.3%. The ability to run uphill fast for a small fraction of a mile is the closest thing I have to a natural talent in this sport. I had an audience for that segment, a herd of 15 mule deer browsing on both sides of the trail, with little concern about my going up and down multiple times.

Here are the numbers for the week.

  • 8 hours, 49 minutes

  • 42.1 miles

  • 7677 ft D+

Saturday, I was feeling pretty good on the climb up Mill Creek, the fifth of Quad Rock's six big climbs, and I went a little bit harder than comfortably hard all the way through the top of the climb and didn't suffer for it on the way back to the car or on my second weekend long run today. I'm more fit than I was early in 2020 and am feeling good about it.

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Heading out for a tempo run in the snow

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This is more my style

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Sunday the snow is but a memory

Quad Rock training week four recap

I ran six times in week four. Two easy recovery runs, one long run in the hills, two tempo runs on less hilly trails, and one running workout: repeats on the paved road that climbs up Stadium Hill. Colorado State's old football stadium on the west edge of town is gone, but we still call this stretch of road Stadium Hill.

  • 8 hours, 35 minutes

  • 44.3 miles

  • 5653 ft D+

The weather this week was cool and dry. Local trails are mostly clear, but there are some good patches of ice in shady spots.

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Looking at the radio towers from the Towers-Spring Creek-Mill Creek intersection

Quad Rock training week three recap

Week three was the last week of my first block of training. A recovery week. No running workouts. No long long runs. I went a little harder on strength and conditioning and easier on running.

  • 4:53

  • 23.5 miles

  • 2972 ft D+

My next two four-week blocks will add high-intensity hill workouts. The two blocks after that will increase the length of my back-to-back long runs. The final block will be about fine tuning, tapering, and racing. The block structure is based on the 100k plan published in Krissy Moehl's Running Your First Ultra. It's relatively easy for me to follow such a plan because my weekends are open, my work hours are fairly flexible, and my body is (so far) comfortable with lots of easy running. As long as I keep the easy days easy, running and hiking 6 days a week hasn't been a problem. Your mileage may vary, of course.

I'm feeling considerable stress from work and the shitty state of our society. Running helps me cope, but only if I keep my brain off these matters while I'm on the trail. Sometimes it's hard. With a fairly elected government of functioning adults it's going to get better, but it could get worse before we pull out of this excrutiating nosedive.

Quad Rock training week two recap

I've survived jumping into week six of last year's 24 week running program. So far, so good. Here are the numbers for week two.

  • 9 hours, 32 minutes

  • 46.8 miles

  • 4829 ft D+

I ran six days in a row, which I haven't done in months, and did speed workouts on two separate days. I'm already running almost as fast as I was running at the track last March and without much fast running since then. Instead, I've been doing a hybrid Yoga/HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout twice a week since the end of October, on Zoom, live from Seattle, with Ruth and her sister. It's 30 minutes of Vinyasa yoga, with 30 minutes of Tabata-like workouts sandwiched in the middle. Typically, we start with a slower round of core exercise, like intervals of reverse and bicycle crunches. Then a round of rotating through intervals of squats and lunges, followed by a round of intervals of pushups and/or sideplanks and up-and-downs or burpees. The last round might be intervals of mountain climbers and up-and-downs. In all, it amounts to about 15 minutes of (when I'm motivated) near-maximum effort.

Today, Sunday, I went for a long, slow run in the snow at Lory State Park. I was the first one over the top of Westridge and on the start of the descent on Howard, I found myself surrounded by the largest flock of Pygmy nuthatches I've ever seen up there.

Next week is a rest week for me. It would be awesome if we didn't have any new national or international crises.

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First tracks on Westridge

Quad Rock training week one recap

The numbers:

  • 9 hours, 23 minutes running time

  • 44.9 miles distance

  • 5581 ft elevation gain (D+)

At the start of the week it was 19 weeks to Quad Rock 50, which I ran in 2019, and then 12 more weeks after that to Never Summer 100k, which I ran in 2020. I'm going to try to finish both of them this year. It will require some customization of the training plans I've used in previous years. Quad Rock is closer than I'm used to and I'm not familiar with trying to build and peak again for another long race. It'll be an interesting problem.

I've been running and doing strength and conditioning workouts regularly through November and December. Feeling pretty good about my base, I fast-forwarded the 24 week plan I followed the past two years and am effectively starting at week 6. My mileage is a little less than that of week 6 in 2019 or 2020 because I'm trying to guard against the possibility that my form isn't as good as I think it is. I did do plenty of climbing and got in a solid speed workout. Conditions have been pretty good for running, overall.

I replaced my old Forerunner 35 watch and its busted and superglued band with a new Forerunner 245. Its battery is good for 24 hours of GPS recording time, so I'll be able to record my Quad Rock and Never Summer runs for the first time. I got a new wool top to give my old one a break, but otherwise I'm running in the same gear. Sheet metal screws in the bottoms of my Speedgoat 4s are providing plenty of traction.

This weekend I did back-to-back long runs for the first time in three months. Saturday I went out for four hours of sweaty huffing and puffing on the hills in Horsetooth Open Space and today I went for a easy recovery pace run on the Spring Creek Trail pavement. How easy is easy? I checked my watch's heart rate monitor and whenever it registered more than 120 bpm, I backed off a little. 8.5 miles at 11 minutes per mile. I hardly even broke a sweat.

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In deep shade on Loggers Trail headed north towards Arthur's Rock (R) and unnamed rock (L)