Blue Sky training week one recap

This year there are six weeks between Never Summer and the Black Squirrel trail half marathon and another five weeks to the Blue Sky trail marathon. I took two weeks off after Never Summer and started re-building last week, the first of a nine week program ending with Blue Sky on October 16. I'm going to use four week blocks again, three for building fitness, one for recovery. The first recovery week falls on the week before the trail half.

Here are the numbers for Blue Sky week one.

  • 8 hours, 21 minutes

  • 41.9 miles

  • 6,171 ft D+

I did back-to-back long runs on the weekend for the first time in six weeks, 15 miles on Saturday and 10 on Sunday. Local air quality has been okay and the weather has cooled off a bit. The only things which haven't been great are my quads. They're quite tight and are putting stress on my knees. I need to be more diligent about stretching and foam rolling and am going to ask Ruth's massage therapist for a session soon.

Never Summer 100k recap

Week 12, race week, is done. By time and miles it was my biggest of the year.

  • 19 hours, 12 minutes

  • 78.3 miles

  • 11,962 ft D+

I finished the Never Summer 100k in 18:29:19, 50 minutes faster than last year on a course 3 miles longer. I was 104th of 246 starters and 204 finishers, 7th in my category and 65 minutes behind 3rd. I moved up 30 places from 2020.

The finish line, Friday

Friday evening the race directors, faced with a forecast for stormy and wet race day weather and, because of a flash flood watch in the county, an insufficient number of available search and rescue staff, decided to reroute the race. They replaced the traverse from North Diamond Peak to Montgomery Pass and the long backcountry segment past Kelly Lake with less exposed segments nearer to aid stations. This eliminated about 2,000 ft of climbing and added a mile to the race distance.

I ran the middle of the race relatively quickly, moving up from 158th at mile 11 to 97th at mile 50. After the Canadian aid station poor fueling caught up with me and I bonked. Between Canadian (49.8 miles) and Bockman (55.6 miles) aid stations I slipped six places and passed no one. I passed five runners after Bockman and was passed by six others. Four times on the final climb I came to a stop, sagging onto my poles until I could recover enough to continue slogging. I did manage to pick it up in the last two miles and crossed the finish line 40 seconds before midnight.

Aspen near Clear Lake aid station

The weather was quite good west of the divide. It was only when we ran up to Clear Lake that we encountered heavy rain and mud. I changed shoes after and was dry from Clear Lake #2 (44 miles) to the finish.

My second consecutive finish

Thank you for pacing, Mike, and huge thanks to all of you volunteers. I couldn't have done it without you.

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