Never Summer training week eleven recap

Week eleven required resilience and toughness. Cold and wet weather got in the way and I had some aches and pains, but in the end I met my goals for the week.

  • 11 hours 39 minutes

  • 56.6 miles

  • 7946 feet D+

Maxwell, Pineridge, and Reservoir Ridge were muddy and closed early in the week, so I did my shorter easy runs on the street. I began to get concerned that I wasn't going to hit my climbing goal.

I'd planned to do an early morning hill interval workout on the Towers trail at Horsetooth Open Space on Wednesday, but when I woke up my left knee was feeling very sore. Not certain that I'd be able to finish the workout, or even start it, I drove to the Soderberg trailhead and jogged extra slowly for 20 minutes on the flat trails below the hill. The sky was blue, the muddy trails were still frozen, good running conditions, and my knee eventually loosened up.

I went to the Towers trail instead of Stadium Hill because I had topped out during my last hill workout. Stadium Hill and the South Centennial Dr climb are just 450 feet high. The Towers trail climb is 1350 feet high. The bottom half has a mean grade of 12% and it levels off a bit in the top half with a mean grade of 11%. It's a dirt road providing access to the radio towers on the top of the first high ridge west of Fort Collins and has good footing and only a few wickedly steep pitches.

My workout: run/hike uphill at the fastest pace I could maintain for 5 minutes, then hike for 1 minute to recover, repeated 5 times. That's not a lot of recovery time, only enough for my heart rate to get from 165 b.p.m. down to 145, but the break helps me maintain a solid effort for 5 minutes with no slacking off at the end. In 29 minutes I made it almost to the top and hiked the rest of the way up as part of my cool-down. I'm definitely getting stronger and faster and felt good about this workout all the rest of the day, until I started to fall asleep at my desk around 5 p.m.

Thursday it snowed, a full foot of heavy spring snow, and I skied around the neighborhood instead of running. Temperatures stayed cool and the snow was still covering everything on Saturday, so I went for 20-mile run on the shoulder of the Horsetooth Reservoir road, out and back. There are some hills on that route, but only adding up to 2000 feet of climbing. Car traffic on the road was very heavy, clearly a lot of folks are taking scenic drives for their mental health. Everyone gave me plenty of room, and I'm grateful for that, but it was still a little bit nerve-wracking.

Sunday the weather was clear and warm and I went for a long and impractical slog in the snow in Lory State Park. I had to break trail for miles at a time and my feet have never been wetter, but I did complete the three climbs I set out to do. The going was so slow that I resorted to playing music on my phone, which I never do. The unbroken snow on top of the ridge was lovely. I appreciated the work done to clear dead and fallen trees up there more than ever.

Unbroken snow on Westridge

Wishing I had brought skis at this point

Longs Peak from the summit

Arthur's Rock from the west