Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Weekend in Leadville

Nora Lee- happy to be in Leadville and ready to ride
With race day a month away, it seemed like a good idea to head to Leadville for the weekend.  Nora and I headed up to the little blue house on Friday at noon with the car fully loaded with food, bikes, running shoes and anticipation of a great weekend in the mountains.  
Within a few minutes of arriving in Leadville and unpacking the car, we were on our bikes to circumnavigate Turquoise Lake.  This was my first time on the road bike in over a year, but I guess it's like they say and you don't really forget.  It was a beautiful afternoon and the ride was awesome.  Some dark clouds loomed over the peaks, but the rain didn't start until we were safely back at the cozy house just east of town.

Saturday morning, after a hearty breakfast of Dutch Baby, we drove back to Turquoise Lake and got on the Colorado Trail just west of Mayqueen Campground (mile 13 of the LT100) and headed over Sugar Loaf towards Fish Hatchery (mile 23.5).    Nora rode her mountain bike over some very technical and often pretty steep trail while I ran and again, we had a great time.  Last year in the 100, it was on this section of trail that I knew my race wasn't going to go as planned.  My legs felt spent, the way you expect them to feel at mile 80, but this was mile 15.  I let go of my time goals and hoped to hold on and finish.  I kept going for another 60 miles, but ran up against the time cutoffs at Fish Hatchery on the way back (mile 76.5) and had to call it a day.  But on this day, I felt great running alongside Nora on the road in to Fish Hatchery and even better after a brief stop by the fish ponds for a light lunch.  We headed back up the Power-line Trail, which was only really steep for the first half mile (Nora crushed this section on the bike), then rolled along at a pretty gentle grade.  Running this section was a big mental breakthrough for me since I had stopped just before this part last year.  We made it over the top and then cruised down the forest road to Hagerman Road and back to the lake just as the afternoon storms came in.  It got pretty wet and cold for the final couple miles back to the car and we were both pretty tired, but it was a great day on the trail and a huge mental boost for my race preparation.  From the point where we finished there is only 13 miles of rolling trails and gentle climbing back up to town and the finish line.

Nora showing off her MTB skills on the Colorado Trail
Nora climbs the Power-line Trail 
Best pacer ever!
Heading back down to Hagerman Road
Saturday night, Nick (who had been out doing some training of his own) and Dana came over with Alistair and Stella for dinner.  We had a nice meal of pesto pasta (made with basil from Nora's back porch garden) and salad with lots of laughs and great conversation about Leadville, college life, travel, kids and good friends.  This was without a doubt one of my best days ever.
Mount Massive summit looms behind us
Sunday had a rough start that included a 911 call and Leadville EMTs and Leadville Fire standing around me in bed at 6:30 am bringing me back from a diabetic hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episode.  This was the first (and hopefully the last) time this had happened.  It was the result of a careless double bolus (too much insulin) at dinner the night before after a pretty big day on the trails.  It was pretty scary (probably more so for Nora than for me).  Nora stayed very calm, handled the situation with quiet heroics and there is no question that she saved my life.  Thank you again Nora.  I am forever in your debt.
After an IV glucose drip from the EMTs and a sandwich from Nora and a lot of me feeling stupid for putting Nora through this, I was okay and the EMTs left with some encouragement to be a bit more careful with my blood sugar - yes I will.  I don't need to learn that lesson again.  We had a great, blood-sugar stabilizing breakfast (waffles and fruit) and then got out for a bit of a late start on our hike.  We scrapped our plans of bagging Huron or another 14er and settled on a shorter, easier hike up the Mt. Massive trail to a beautiful spot at 12,000 feet with views of Leadville, Turquoise Lake, Twin Lakes and the Mosquito Range.  It was a beautiful summer day and there is nothing like a hike in the mountains to clear the head of a somewhat traumatic morning.

Pesto, tomato, cheese and egg sandwiches made for gourmet trail lunches 

A nice spot for lunch at 12,000 feet

Nora flies down the Mt. Massive Trail
We finished the hike with a run through the aspens in the rain down to the trailhead.  Back in town, we went to the Leadville Aquatic Center, which doubles as the middle school, for a swim, some time in the sauna, a couple trips down the water slide and a soak in the hot tub.  Then back to the house for an amazing dinner from Nora's healthy cooking repertoire.

Carmelized onion, peppers and swiss chard tacos- a perfect dinner to finish a perfect weekend

Truly an amazing weekend that leaves me not only feeling confident about the big race less than 4 weeks away, but really good about my life and all that lies ahead.  As she was leaving on Saturday night, Dana told me that I must have done something really good in a past life to deserve all the incredible blessings coming in to my life right now. I have to agree.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A weekend with Alice and Arapaho

Mt. Alice reflected in Lyon Lake
With 100+ degree temperatures looming in Fort Collins this past weekend, the mountains were calling.  Saturday started with a 4:30 am departure to Wild Basin in Rocky Mountain National Park where Katie and I met up with three of my favorite Special Idiots, Rob, Chris and Misty, and later with Pete and Young Nick to run a 19 mile alpine loop that included Ouzel Falls, Lion Lake, Thunder Lake and the 13,310' summit of Mount Alice.  It was a great day in the mountains with some great trail running, rock hopping, snow climbing, swimming and shoe skiing with some good friends and lots of laughs.  Wild Basin is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful parts of RMNP.  Wild flowers bloomed in abundance, the tundra was green, creeks and water falls flowed freely and the alpine lakes were ice cold and crystal clear.  The wild breathtaking beauty of this run was all the reassurance I needed that life is good.  I am thankful for good friends and wonderful escapes in the mountains.

sitting on top of Mt. Alice

The weekend only got better from there with dinner with Nora at Maza Kabob, a new Afghan restaurant in Fort Collins.  They have a great story and delicious food.  I recommend the Burani, an eggplant dish, and the Aashak, vegetable dumplings that can be ordered with a veggie sauce in place of ground beef if you prefer.

Burrani Dish

Sunday began with another sunrise departure from Fort Collins and a drive through Boulder and up past Nederland in to the Indian Peaks Wilderness via the Rainbow Lakes Trailhead.  Nora and I hiked through the trees and out to the tundra above Arapaho Glacier and scrambled to the top of South Arapaho Peak. From the top we were able to look out and see Winter Park, Longs Peak, Mt. Audubon, Mt. Evans, and a wide stretch of the Continental Divide.  It was a beautiful day and an amazing hike.  A stop at Oskar Blues in Lyons on the way home for pizza and beer topped off one of the best days I've had in a very long time.

South Arapaho Peak

Nora says, "Sure I'd ski that."  
Standing on the summit
A reclining view of Arapaho Glacier

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.