I reduced my mileage again in week twenty-two while trying to keep the quality of my activities high. I did some moderately intense weight training, went to the gravel track, did a hilly tempo run at Lory, and a nice long Never Summer recon run.
10 hours, 25 minutes
8379 feet D+
Saturday I drove up CO 14 to Cameron Pass to run on the Never Summer course for the first time this season. I parked at the Zimmerman Lake trailhead and loaded my pack. Although I expected mild weather, I brought all the gear that the Never Summer directors are requiring this year: rain jacket, gloves, hat, light, water containers of at least forty ounces. This, along with my first aid kit, drinks, food, and phone, would give me a good sense of my load during the race.
From the parking lot I ran west to Montgomery Pass (11,156 ft). That will be mile 23 of the Never Summer course and there will be an aid station. From the pass, I ran on the course, in reverse, to North Diamond Peak (11,852 ft), the high point of the race. From there, I diverged from the course, traversing to South Diamond Peak, down to the Cameron Pass parking lot, and crossing over CO 14 to get on the Michigan Ditch trail and back on the course again.
The Michigan Ditch diverts water from the North Platte basin to the South Platte basin. The dirt road adjacent to the ditch has a very gentle grade and is very runnable. Still traveling in the reverse sense of the course, I eventually left the ditch trail and climbed up alongside the Michigan River to the American Lakes basin (11,200 ft). I hadn't been up there in years. It's more beautiful than I remembered and I found it hard to leave.
After descending from the lakes I switched over to running the course in its forward direction to tackle the infamous North Diamond Peak climb: 2100 feet of elevation gain in 2.3 miles. At 2 p.m. on a hot day this was grueling. I'm glad that I'll be beginning this stretch between 8 and 9 a.m. during the race. Near the top, the grade increase to 25 percent and beyond. I got slightly off course and ended up attacking the 35-40 degree face of the peak instead of the less steep micro-ridge that I will stick to on race day. I had to sit down for a few minutes to recover at the top.
I started with 1.5 liters of water in a Camelback reservoir, two half-liter soft bottles of Tailwind solution in my vest's front pockets, and another liter of water in my stomach. This turned out to be not quite enough for a sunny and hot day, but I was able to collect and melt enough snow to survive.
I covered 22 miles and climbed 6000 feet on my outing, 35% of the Never Summer 100k distance and 42% of its positive elevation change. 21 of these miles were above 10,000 feet and six were above 11,000 feet. I crossed paths with other runners, including a couple who were doing a self-supported 60k version of the race. I hope they brought a water filter.
My right hamstring confirmed at the track earlier in the week that it is still not one hundred percent recovered, but I didn't have any problems with it on my long run. I'm not planning to run faster than ten minutes per mile during the Never Summer 100k and still have two weeks of tapering and recovery before race day. I'm confident that I'll be fine by then.