Monday, April 23, 2012

Horsetooth Half, my favorite road race

photo by Eddie Metro
With the Collegiate Peaks 50 just 6 days away and all the hard running that I've been doing, I knew I shouldn't run the Horsetooth Half today, but it is my favorite local road race and I just didn't want to miss it.  It is always a perfect spring day (thanks Steve) and everybody is out to run, cheer and enjoy the day outside.  This was my 6th running.  I tried to convince myself that I could keep it relaxed and not do anything that would hurt my run in Buena Vista next weekend, but when the gun went off, I felt like running hard.  I felt good right from the start and went through the first two miles of climbing pretty smoothly (7:26, 7:40) without beating myself up too much.  All the down hill miles after that felt easy.  I just tried to relax, lean forward and let go.  I went through mile 3 in 6:18 feeling good and kept up sub 7 minute pace the rest of the way.  I was starting to feel a little tired when I hit Bingham Hill at mile 7, but pushed it to the top where I knew it would be all down hill to the finish.  Looking at my mile splits, I knew that if I could keep running 6:30-6:40 pace I could finish under 1:30.  My previous fastest time on this course was in 2010 when I ran 1:32:57.  I was still trying to keep the effort under control, but a 1:29:xx finish sounded really good. The final 4 miles on the bike path were tough.  Nick ran a short section with me at mile 10.5 and gave me a parting chant of "one twenty-nine, one twenty-nine, one twenty-nine"  When I got to the 12 mile marker with over eight minutes to go before the clock hit an hour and half, I knew I had the sub 1:30 in the bag.  I cruised the final section of the bike path and hit the final 100 meters on Linden at a sprint.  I crossed the line in 1:29:11 (a nearly 4 minute course PR) and proudly accepted my finishers medal and pint glass which I immediately took to the water station to get a drink and then took it to the beer garden for some more to drink.  The finish area and beer garden quickly filled with friends who had run the race or were out supporting racers.  The music started, the sun shone brightly and there was still a pleasant morning cool in the air.  I left before the awards, but found out later that I took 3rd in my age group behind Steve Folkerts and Pete Stevenson, pretty good company.  Another great day of running in Fort Collins.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Horsetooth Rock

I've been to the top of Horsetooth Rock more times than I can count, but I've only run it as a time trial 4 or 5 times.  All of these times were around 33-34 minutes with my best time being 33:02.  In a break from the usual everyother Thursday run up Towers, we ran a time trial to the top of the rock last night.  This is a shorter climb totaling only 2.4-2.6 miles depending on the chosen route.  There are several different options to get to the top and each runner has the freedom to choose their own route.  I felt pretty confident that I was up for a PR after my good run up Towers two weeks ago, but my legs were pretty tired after the weekend and a tough track workout on Tuesday and an anger at mountain bikers induced tempo run in Pineridge on Wednesday.  I headed up the hiking trail with Brian29 at 6:10 hoping to go under 33 minutes and maybe hit a time in the low 32s.  I took the shorter, but more technical Horsetooth Rock Trail and tried to maintain a steady pace over the rocks and up the steps. At the junction with the South Ridge, I took the service road up past Wathen and on to the final approach up the rock.  I was feeling the fatigue in my legs pretty hard by this point and I walked several of the steeper rocky sections arriving at the final scramble up to the summit in just over 28 minutes.  I usually take the climbing section slowly and carefully, but I knew that I was close to a sub 30 minute ascent which at the start of the run I wouldn't have thought possible.  Thanks the the sticky flat sole of my NB 101s and a new found fearlessness, I scrambled to the top and hit my watch at 29:42 for a 3 minute 21 second PR.

Monday, April 16, 2012

CO Marathon/Quad Rock Preview Double

Saturday I ran the first 21 miles of the Colorado Marathon course starting with Pete, Cat, Celeste, Brian and Gabby at 6:30 in morning way up the canyon.  Celeste's goal in training to run sub 3:30 at the marathon three weeks from today was to run the first 5 miles easy (around 9 min/mile) the next 10 miles at goal race pace (8:00 min/mile) and the final 6 miles easy.  My job was to help pace her to this goal.  As it is so easy to do on this course, we started out too fast clocking the first couple miles well under 9 minutes, but we did settle in to a solid 7:45-8:00 minute pace for miles 6-16.  We backed off the pace slightly for miles 17-19 and then pushed on mile 20 for a very strong 7:36, then jogged the final mile back to the school where we had left the cars.  Total time for 21 miles: 2:50.  Average pace: 8:07 with a total of 12 miles under 8 minutes and 7 miles under 7:50.  It was a beautiful, cool, sunny morning in the canyon and a great day to be running.  Celeste is definitely fit, trained and ready for a marathon PR of sub 3:30 or better.

This morning was the official Quad Rock 25/50 preview run hosted by the race director himself Pete Stevenson.  The other race director was off messing around in California. It was windy and cold at 8:00 am in the Soldier Canyon lot at Lory State Park, but the skies were mostly clear despite the predictions for rain and snow throughout the morning.  More than 25 runners were present from all around the Front Range to test their strength on this course that is already being talked about as one of the tougher 50 milers around.

We started together heading south out of Lory on the East Valley trail running in a seemingly endless line of trail runners sporting the full spectrum of running apparel, hydration packs and trail shoes. Just over 3 miles in, the first climb begins as we headed west up Sawmill to Stout to the infamous Towers Road. On Towers, I met up with Brian and Tonks who had started from the Soderberg trail head. We ran together and talked for a while and then I was on my own for much of the first big decent down Spring Creek towards Horsetooth Falls. Near the falls, I met up with Victoria and a small group of other runners. We ran together to the upper Horsetooth lot at about mile 10 where a full aid station will be on race day. 
Celeste and Cat power up Sawmill
Scott and Sam were taking a quick break here to eat and fill water.  I headed out with them a couple minutes later to begin the second big climb of the day up Southridge towards the Rock.  The climb went smoothly and we hit the Wathen/Westridge junction feeling a bit tired and glad to be more than half way done.  After Westridge and a short stretch down Towers, we started the big drop down Mill Creek which is steep and somewhat technical and has always been a challenge for me to run well. Today, I felt great and ran this trail better than I ever had.
Scott and Sam looking epic as always at mile 18.
We took a break towards the bottom of Mill Creek before dropping down to the Arthur's Rock Trailhead where 25 milers (like me) will see their last aid station on race day.  From the Arthur's trailhead, we started our last and probably toughest climb of the day up the Howard Trail towards the base of Arthur's Rock.  This climb was hard.  Rocky switch back after rocky switch back take you relentlessly over 1000 feet up from the valley floor.  We were glad to reach the top and took a relaxing sit down break at the top before setting out for the final 4+ miles down the Timber Trail to the finish.  The weather had been strange all day starting with an unexplainable snow shower under a cloudless sunny sky while I was running down Spring Creek (I thought it was big flakes of pollen until I noticed they were melting on my skin) to blasts of icy wind while we sat near Arthur's Rock to sun baked warmth while climbing towers.  As we came out of the trees on Timber in the last two miles of the run, we got hit in the face with a full force snow/hail storm.  I had to hold my hand over my face as I ran to prevent my face being torn off by the blast.  A few minutes later the snow cleared and we hit the trail head and the cars and we were done.  Our total time on the trail was 5:06 for nearly 26 miles and over a mile of vertical according to my watch.  I am pretty confident that a 4:30 will be possible on race day.

photo by Sam

GPS Data

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Round Up

A view of the summit                                                           Photo by Eric Lee
13 FCTRs showed up for a dark, cold and windy 5:30 am start at the Round Mounting Trailhead this morning.  Many more joined as the day went on and by mid morning the sun was out, the wind had quieted down, the birds were singing, flowers were blooming and it was an all around perfect day to be on the mountain running trails.  I ran 30 minutes faster than last year and felt about a thousand times better.  The climbing was still tough of course and the final push to the summit on lap 5 was a beast, but I never felt completely wasted.  I ran strong and steady on the descents and with the help of Mike and Shannon, I pushed negative splits on the final miles to make my sub 7:30 goal by 4 seconds.

It really was an all around great day running with so many good friends.  I am so thankful to have a group of amazing people to talk, laugh, play and suffer with on and off the trails.

After the breakthrough on Towers on Thursday and feeling so good on such a tough run today I am glad to say that my running finally seems to be going in the right direction.  Collegiate Peaks 50 is three weeks from today.  These last few days have given me a lot of confidence about what I can do.  Another big PR would be awesome. 
Coming back down from the 3 mile mark                          Photo by Eddie Metro

The Summit                                                                           Photo by Eric Lee
5 progressively longer climbs that add up to 9200' of vertical in 29 miles

GPS data

Friday, April 6, 2012


Big PR on the Hill tonight.

Monday, April 2, 2012


I ran a total of 327 miles with 32,550 feet of vertical gain in March.  Not a huge month, but not bad either.  The best thing is, I feel great.  My training lately has included plenty of easy runs and only a few really big hard efforts.  I am hoping that this approach will work better for me than last year's attempt to put in lots of long tough runs with 80-100 mile weeks one after another.  I only ran three races in March and none of them were serious goal races with all out efforts.  I think this was a good month of building base fitness without getting burned out.  I will spend the next two weeks putting in some bigger mileage and some quality speed and hill runs, then taper back a bit to be ready for Collegiate Peaks on April 28 which I consider my first serious race of the year.  I'd like to run a 50 mile PR and run somewhere close to 9:30.  We'll see how things go.
Start of the Tortoise and Hare 5K this morning.  I was the Hare and ran 19:50.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Goodbye Caballo

Very sad news today about one of the great trail runners of our time.  I am very glad to have had the honor of meeting him and sharing food and stories and beer in a driveway in Leadville before the Silver Rush 50 last summer.  An amazing man that I wish I could have talked with more.  He will be sorely missed.

Don’t fight the trail, take what it gives you. If you have a choice between one step or two between rocks, take three.
                                                              -Micah True