Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Think I'm Done Now. Really.

The bike on top of Taylor Pass after riding up Express Creek Road.
Monday was a day off and I certainly needed it after the long day on Saturday and some light walking around and a short ride on Sunday.  Yesterday though I had an awesome long (in duration) run up Midnight Mine Road to the summit of Aspen Mountain (Ajax) and road the gondola down.  The first hour wasn't so great but as I got higher up Midnight Mine Road I started to feel just fine.

Ran the entire thing, kept everything in check and in the MAF range.  8.95 miles with 3976 feet of gain.  Felt solid the entire run... well, except for the warmup that is.  My brain is becoming engaged now and thinking of "other things" past Leadman.  Definitely a good sign.

The route from the apartment up to the Sundeck.  It was pretty rainy from mile five on.  Glad to ride the Gondola down!
Today was to be a long ride. With all the rain we have been getting it was rather sketch if I could pull it off or not.  Fortunately the weather held, I mean it rained some and it did get wet for a spell but nothing nearly as bad as it could have been.

Ambitious would best describe my plan for today's ride.  My goal was to leave the apartment, head up to Ashcroft via Castle Creek Road, catch Express Creek Road up to Taylor Pass then Richmond Ridge Road North all the way to the top of Aspen Mountain then just bomb down Aspen Mountain on Summer Road.  My goal time for all of this was five hours.  I did it in 5:21 and that includes a good portion of dicking around time and even stopping once to clean the chain and re-lube it.  I made the Sundeck right at five hours... it only took me 21 minutes to get down off the mountain and home.  I was flying!

Anyway, 34.38 miles, 8107 feet in gain and I did it in 5:21:32.  Avg elevation was 10585 for the day.

Today's loop up to Taylor Pass and back to Aspen.  I rode it counterclockwise.
And for s's and g's, here is the elevation profile for today's ride.
The past two days have been huge confidence builders for me.  I am going to need all that I can get to get through the next three weeks.   As far as the bike goes, today proved to me that I am more than strong enough to finish the 100.  Speed?  Well, I'm just going to have to wait and see how that plays out for me on the 9th. I'm still working on the bugs in the programming...

But past all of this?  There is still RRR100 in Steamboat on the 13th of September.  THAT is actually my endgame for the summer.  Survive the next three weeks, recover and then do what I have to do to get ready for that race.

Really RRR100 has been lodged waaay back in the back of my mind these past few months, even if I did register in January.  But now it is slowly moving to the forefront which is good.  It's another sign of my confidence rising.  I can look past the next three weeks and see myself on the other side and then getting ready for Steamboat.  Actually I am starting to look forward to RRR100.  Again, another good sign.

But for now, I am done.  For the next 17 days or so, no more big workouts.  No more big runs, and no more big rides.  The past three months at least I feel as if I have been on the ragged edge of training, always exhausted and always fatigued.  It has shown in my races for sure.  But now I am feeling way stronger, not as fatigued, and with this window of rest opening up for me now I can't see my confidence, my ambition, my drive, and my optimism going in any direction except for up.

Nope... no last minute desperation training here... :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Four Pass Loop And A Lot Of Other Fun Stuff For The Week

This has probably been the most fun week of the summer.  A lot of training but a lot of time and opportunity to do some fun stuff the past week and a half as well.

Snowmass Lake looking east from the second pass, Trail Rider Pass.
The big day was yesterday doing the Four Pass Loop in the Maroon Bells Wilderness Area.  This run has been on the docket for several months at least.  I had the idea to do it then when I was in the Springs, Paul D. brought it up at lunch one day that he and Shannon wanted to do it.  I hatched the plan to do it in late July when the passes were clear and hoped to get in as a long training day as well.  In the end there were four of us in the party, Shannon, Paul, my friend Jeff here in Aspen and myself.

The Four Pass Loop... all I can say really is that if you have not ever done it is well worth the effort.  It is hard.  My GPS showed 27.5 miles of travel with 9,286 feet in gain.  The average elevation of the day was 11,193 feet. 

It is remote wilderness so everything that you might need you will need to carry with you.  I had a full daypack with enough gear to stay out overnight if it came to it.  I just prefer to be prepared.  I had two handhelds (22 oz each) and a 100oz bladder all full when we started.  When we were done I was down to my last five sips out of the bladder.  Just enough.

As as I said it was difficult.  The climbs were steep, the descents seemed even more steep.  We did the loop counter-clockwise and doing the passes in order of Buckskin Pass, Trail Rider Pass, Frigid Air Pass, then lastly West Maroon Pass which is followed by a very long, very long, VERY LONG, seven to eight mile descent back down to Maroon Lake and the start.

All that I could think about all day was it felt like I was doing Hope Pass, over and over and over again.  Both sides.  All day.

The first pass, Buckskin was a steep climb and felt like the steepest one of the day.  The drop down into the next valley surprised me.  I failed to really grasp that portion of the elevation profiles that I had studied and was under the assumption that the trail stayed higher than it did on the way over to Trail Rider Pass.
The drop of the back side of Buckskin Pass.  Photo by Jeff Marshall.
The climb up Trail Rider pass did not seem that bad.  I think mostly because about halfway up the climb you are treated with just awe inspiring views of Snowmass lake.  It definitely took the sting out.
Shanon, Paul, and Jeff taking a break on top of Trail Rider Pass.  Snowmass lake is in the background.
The descent off of Trail Rider pass gave me the most fits.  Lots of loose rocks and very steep.  I don't know how many times I slipped on the way down and I even busted my ass once really good.

Approaching Frigid Air pass was forever long.  There was an awesome waterfall along the way but past that the trail ascended slowly through winding willow thickets no view of the pass to be seen which left me wondering just where in the hell we were going.  But once I saw the pass it was startling as it was a very steep climb with switchbacks up out of the valley.

An amazing waterfall on the approach to Frigid Air Pass.
Between Frigid Air and West Maroon Pass is the shortest segment of the day between passes.  It only took us 54 minutes to get from one to the other and it was probably the most runnable section of the day.  The final climb up West Maroon was very steep again.

Shannon, Paul and myself sitting up on West Maroon Pass before our final descent.  Photo by Jeff Marshall.
Lastly the final descent or home stretch back to Maroon Lake.  Being tired and the nature of the trail made it very slow going.  That section actually ate a lot more time than I was expecting but we just did it one mile at a time until we were done.

But leading up to Saturday we had a really fun week. Monday we went white water rafting on the Roaring Fork. It was my first time on the water in probably 12 years, and 15 years after my "accident" up on Clear Creek.  It was a lot of fun and although we were in a raft as opposed to a kayak, I was surprised to just how well I could read the river and how natural it felt.  The day left me wondering if I might want to start kayaking again.  The jury is still out on that as of yet.

Tuesday evening we went to a very nice birthday picnic at the East Maroon Portal.  Wednesday, Melissa and I took the Jeep up Express Creek out of Ashcroft up to Taylor Pass then made our way back to Aspen via Richmond Ridge Road.  We also got to see the newest Planet of the Apes movie this week and that was awesome!

The Jeep up on top of Taylor Pass.
Training wise it has been a good week.  Good runs and good rides both.  It is good to be home in Aspen and getting to ride and run trails that are not clear most of the year.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Slipping Into Vacation Mode

Melissa and I are off to go camping with friends for a couple days at a lake over by Grand Junction.  She just called and her flight from LAX is just getting ready to leave.   It's going to be a relaxing weekend not a lot of training.  Mostly just goofing off.  I haven't had a goof off weekend really since my late birthday party in Denver at the end of March.  It's been awhile.

It has been sort of a big week.  Monday after running with my friend Jeff who finished his first 50 miler the day before was a light and easy ride to loosen up. It sucked.  For starters I was tired and there was a lot of internal dialogue going on inside my head about the rest of the summer. Fortunately I was able to figure some things out and get myself back on course.

Tuesday was an awesome ride. I did a St. Kevins, Sugarloaf, Powerlines back to camp ride both outbound and inbound. St. Kevins is still hard and that ride over to Carter Summit just seems to take forever on the outbound.  On the inbound it is much easier but still seems to take some time.  I got caught in a hail storm on my second loop about 2/3rds the way up the Powerline side of Sugarloaf.  The great thing about that is that when it was done the traction the rest of the way up was phenomenal.  47 miles or so, over 8K in gain that day.

Wednesday I was feeling it though.  Rode a bit over an out, hill intervals. Not a lot of joy that day.  Once my ride was over I broke camp which took forever and headed back to Aspen.  I can not say just how happy I have been being home.  After camping in Leadville for nearly 30 days this summer I can appreciate all of the little modern conveniences of home a bit more.  I will probably pop back over to Leadville between now and the 100 bike two to three times to ride or run on specific sections of the course but for the most part I will be here in Aspen. 

Thursday it was back to running.  Jeff and I ran six miles over his lunch break and I then went and did another six.  I had work and class that night but when it was over I went and ran a few more miles in the dark and that was a blast.  Even tired and in the dark I was able to make my usuall split up Smuggler road.

The bike is now a project.  My friend Chris who works at Aspen Velo now has it and is coming up with a plan to drop some serious weight off of it.  In the end I hope to get my full suspension Trek as light or lighter than my hard tail.

But for now I am just looking forward to the weekend.  No real training focus, hang out with friends and get out of my own head some. 

We have a solid plan now pretty much for doing the Four Pass Loop next weekend.  That will be a fun day and I am super excited for that.  It is probably my last big running day before everything starts.  I can't get my brain around the fact yet that the 100 bike is only three weeks away. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

27 Seconds... 210.2 Miles To Go.

Melissa got a photo of me coming into the finish. 
The Silver Rush 50 MTB was a mixed bag of a day for me.  I went into it feeling much more rested and ready than I did before the Marathon four weeks ago so that was good.  But unfortunately I was expecting that I would show up with a 5.0 L engine but instead I only had a 3.8 L to work with for the day. I came in 27 seconds slower than last year.  Slower.

The first ten miles up Iowa Gulch were a grind. The effort was there and as far as I am concerned damned solid and consistent looking at the HR data.  The speed just wasn't.  I was several if not closer to ten minutes behind my split getting to the ten mile mark from last year.  I shrugged it off the best I could knowing that it was way too early in the race to get too concerned about things.  There was still lots of miles and hours ahead for things to play out.  The rest of the day was an extremely solid effort as well.  I never backed off. 

Honestly, even though I was slower I had a much better ride overall.  The time that I lost in the first ten miles I more than made up throughout the day.  And I am pretty sure from about mile 37 on that nobody passed me but I know I passed a TON of people.

In the end I am happy with the ride.  My bike got a little trashed and had to be fixed this morning. Basically I lost about half of my gears on the inbound.  It started with not being able to shift up to the big ring in the rear after leaving Stumptown and by the end of the race the top three to four rings were completely out of commission.  My shifter cable was hosed, and my rear derailleur was bent and a couple of other things that added up to $100 bucks to fix.

Again, I am happy with the ride.  I feel I am a much stronger rider than last year even though my times were damned near identical.  If I had to generalize the race, my climbing is not as strong as last year but everything else is WAY better... flat out pedaling, handling speed, and my technical riding skills. I got past that race which puts me into the LT100 MTB race in four weeks.  I also believe anytime you can get off of the 50 MTB course without any major problems or wrecks it is a good day.  And the best part of it is that I had fun riding on Saturday.

But really, the bike ride was not to be the high point of my weekend.  My friend Jeff from Aspen that I run with ran the Silver Rush 50 Run on Sunday and it was his first ultra ever.  Since I had to do a long run on Sunday I decided a week or so a go that I would meet him at Stumptown and then run into town with him.  I had a good training run and he had an awesome race coming in just under ten hours with a time of 9:52:02.   Sunday really made the weekend for me.

Leadman... 210.2 miles left in the series.  104 mile bike race, 10k (6.2 mile run), and of course the 100 mile run.  A lot can happen between now and then and anything can happen in those races.  But after a lot of reflection the past day I think that I need to recalibrate my expectations of myself for this series.  That is a downer considering all of the work that has gone into this year but it is evident that the results, times, output, speed, whatever just is not coming for both the running and the riding. At this point in the series I had hoped to be at least an hour ahead of my times from last year at the same time... as it stands I am a good 33 minutes in the hole.  Right now I am leaning towards doing my best of course, hope to finish at least on par with the rest of the races compared to last year, but also to just have fun too.  If I ride and run everything else equally and make up the 33 minutes and have my cumulative time be just slightly better than last year, I'll take it.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Some Cool Stuff

Happy 4th of July everyone.  Let's try to not burn down the state this weekend, okay?

Got the front forks on the Trek serviced at Cycles of Life here in Leadville.  They kept it over night and when I went to get it this morning, Drew, they guy who worked on it, wheeled it out for me.  I was shocked!  He actually cleaned it too.  Just one of those little customer service touches that can make a person's day.  I told him that looked like bike that I would buy!  He joked that he would sell it to me... pretty funny. 

I don't remember the last time it was this clean if ever.  When he rolled it out I am sure my eyes lit up like kid on Christmas morning.
Of course it didn't stay clean for long... maybe, 30 minutes as I went up on the 50 MTB and rode for a bit, 31 miles. Wore my new riding shoes today which are the same as the old ones but new and I was shocked at the difference.  I would have never guessed that new cycling shoes can be as much of a treat as running in new running shoes can be.  The old shoes will be used for indoor trainer rides from now now on after I change the cleats.  They had 3600 miles on them.

Intervals on the bike between 11K and 12K are hard.

My June numbers are not as voluminous as I was anticipating and definitely don't compare to last year so much.  But I think the quality exceeds last year and the vertical definitely does for both running and riding.

27 Hours Biking
240 Miles on the Bike

31 Hours Running
159 Miles Running