“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!” – Dr. Seuss
The Idaho Centennial Trail seems like a distant memory at this point and with school underway again I have settled back into my regular training regime. Some of the highlights of the last training block include mountain biking in Crested Butte, exploring trails in Ouray (Bridge of Heaven and Bear Creek), running the Desert Championship 10K put on by the Striders, taking 3rd at the Silverton Alpine 50K and seeing big improvements with my MAF/Maffetone training.
After the Idaho Centennial Trail pause I managed to quickly regain my base by the middle of July setting up for Speedgoat with almost exclusive base mileage workouts and strength training. My consistency, freshness and enjoyment of running has persisted throughout the summer months while I have been keeping my training mellow. After an easy week post Speedgoat I got a couple of good weeks of running in as school started up and was able to log some nice long days in the mountains. My August MAF test (new personal best) was a complete surprise and I am on target to dip below 7:00 min/mile pace by the end of this year if the linear projections hold true. The only additions to my MAF training have been weekly core/strength work, mountain biking to increase weekly volume, some sporadic yoga and some near-race pace efforts every couple weeks (see below race recaps).
Mesa Monument Striders Desert Championship 10K:
On August 8th, before the abusive sun had time to warm up, a small band of local runners met up in the desert foothills just west of the Grand Junction Airport for the running of the Desert Championship 10K. This fatass style race has a reputation for being adventurous, minimally marked and downright hard to follow. For the first time this year the event was set to follow a new course that linked up three of the water retention dams in the area. Before the race began I figured it wouldn’t hurt to grab one of the hand-drawn paper maps of the course in case it was as adventurous as I had been led to believe. The countdown commenced and I found myself up front with Ben Hauschulz and a recently graduated high school cross country ace. We made our way towards the first dam, about one mile into the course and followed the pin flagging as it guided us through road intersections. As we crested one of the small hills about three-quarters of a mile in we came to the first of several unmarked intersections and all came to a complete stop. I checked the map that indicated we should look for a small bush, but with many in sight, we just headed off in the most traveled direction. We ended up bushwacking a bit to get to the first dam, but were again back on the flagged route that weaved nicely in and out of a cool wash. The middle half of the route was marked very clearly and the three of us shuffled positions as we made our way up and down some rolling terrain. As we neared the five mile mark, the cross-country ace’s speed kicked in and Ben and I found ourselves redlining our ultrarunning engines to stay close. Near the highpoint on the course the high schooler and I took a wrong turn at an unmarked junction, adding an extra climb in and then after regaining the course he jetted off downhill at another unmarked intersection towards the finish line parking lot. I headed halfway down in pursuit and then heard Ben shouting to let me know the course was still on the top of the ridge and that he had found flags at a road junction further down. I headed back up the hill to try and catch Ben, but despite cranking out a sub 6 min/mile into the finish I couldn’t catch him. The cross country ace handily took first, Ben came in second and I finished third, all within about 12 seconds of each other. Ben graciously offered me the second place popsicle stick because of the wrong way turn around in the final mile, but since we had all come to see the event as a fun hard run with friends rather than a race I figured it was time to start eating cookies and ringing my cowbell for the finishers on their way in rather than fretting over our positions. Everyone else coming in had their own adventure/route to share and distances run ranged from 5.5-6.5 miles. The reputation of the Desert Championship 10K is alive and well! Don’t forget a map and don’t worry about racing on the same course as everyone else if you join in next year. Results are not available yet, but I’ll link them here when they arrive (as well as editing in the cross country ace’s name which I don’t have without the results list).
2015 Silverton Alpine 50K:
As last weekend approached and I started thinking about where I was going to enjoy my last big long run before Run Rabbit Run I decided to see if there were any local events that I could incorporate some/all of the 30 miles on my training schedule. It was the weekend of Leadville so most of my running buddies were up crewing/pacing/spectating so I checked Ultra Signup to see what else was going on. I found the Silverton Alpine Marathon and 50K that Aravaipa Running puts on, checked out the small and not especially competitive entrants list and figured it would be a great way to build some altitude training in and would be so much nicer to have aid stations every four miles instead of hauling water and food around the desert for thirty miles. Jess and I drove down at 3:30 am on race day, I signed in around 6 am and we were off an running at 7 am. A number of other runners had signed up on race day, but I only recognized Tim Long. With Tim there I knew it was going to be a solid effort day, but steeled myself to keep my effort in the realm of training so I didn’t wear myself down too hard before Run Rabbit Run. Tim and I chatted during the 5 mile out and back section before we joined the marathon course and caught up on our seasons. Tim finally got his collar bone healed up and is running the Bear 100 this fall so was also running this as a training race. While we were chatting we saw a streak of red, white and blue fly out to the front of the field and Tim told me it was Dave James, a Flagstaff running with the Team RWB squad. This was the last we would see of Dave James for the rest of the day as he proceeded to crush the course in ~4:30. Tim and I stayed within sight of each other, chatting when we passed until about mile 20 when the grade forced us both to powerhike and his Hardrock legs took off. By the top of California Pass (12,900 ft) Tim had about 4 minutes on me and I felt confident that I could slowly close the gap. My legs were nice and numb at the top of the climb with lingering soreness from my lifting and running the week prior, but the downhills felt fresh. The first two steep sections forced a slower pace, but once I hit the less technical gravel I let gravity take over and cranked the tunes. Around mile 23 I super-manned onto the road, landing on my crest and palms as I slid to a stop. I never even felt my toe catch, but it was the only explanation. My handheld bottle took the worst of it, but I managed to rip my bib halfway off and had a nice tableau of blood and gravel on my legs. I took a minute to check myself, confirmed nothing was broken/tweaked and then realized Tim was now another minute ahead of me. I took off again, keeping my effort in check and at every aid station kept re-learning that Tim was still 4 minutes ahead of me. The final mile I allowed myself to accelerate towards the finish, and came in just over 3 minutes behind Tim for 3rd overall. I was stoked about my performance, but was especially happy about sticking to my plan, running my own race, maintaining a steady effort below my maximum and not letting a nasty fall mess with my head with 8 miles to go. Aravaipa put on a great race, the scenery was stunning and my brand new Pearl Izumi Trail N2 V2 shoes were great right out of the box. Yeehaw!
Nothing big is planned between now and Run Rabbit Run. One more week of good mileage and then the tapering shall begin. I can’t wait for the family reunion/100 mile bonanza that is in store in Steamboat – just hoping the wildfire smoke and smoking temps decide to mellow out sooner rather than later.