Turkeys and Hot Springs and Moose! Oh my!

In my last blog post, I was lamenting about not quite hitting 50 miles for three weeks in a row. Well, the past two weeks I managed to cross that arbitrary threshold and ran 51.4 then 50.5 miles. If you add up my last five weeks of training, I totaled 247+ miles, which is, by far, the most consistent I’ve ever been. Though it really hasn’t felt easy this summer, this past week I felt like I had a breakthrough.

July 24 – 30

I started the week feeling tired and sluggish and opted to ignore my  alarm for more sleep (I’m not sure why I even keep trying to set an alarm for Mondays). After work, I did a slow run around town listening to my new favorite podcast, My Favorite Murder. It was around 85 degrees when I ran – much hotter than I’m comfortable with, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? On Tuesday, Birdie and I ran Green – our 5:15am start time is already starting to get too dark to handle without headlamps.

Here comes the sun.

Wednesday was our monthly Clovers day at NP5280. I wasn’t super optimistic about being able to run 18 reps this month (the goal I’ve been shooting for forever), but thought I’d give it a shot. The first 3 laps felt good and then by number 5, I was ready to quit. I was absolutely trashed at the end and only ran 16-something laps, when 17+ is my normal. I was a little down, but then I remembered that I had just run 10 miles on trails 24 hours prior. I wouldn’t expect to PR the 5k when I’m fatigued – why should I expect to be able to PR clovers when I’m in the midst of this heavy training? I’ll be ready to PR in the fall!

On Thursday, we all took it a bit easy at PG. Dan and I have found that we’re on an every other week schedule of a hard workout and an easy run on Dino Ridge. Either way, we get in miles and climbing and get to be with our people. Thursday’s run is always one I look forward to!

Friday, I rested. We had big plans to run the Four Pass Loop on Saturday with MB, Pace, and Kevin so I was setting myself up for a huge weekend. We drove down to Aspen Friday night in the rain, questioning whether or not we weather would allow us to make the run happen. We got to our awesome campground (thanks, MB!), set up shop, ate chili and noodles, and went to bed with our alarms set for the 5am hour.

All the rain makes for green grass!

When we woke up in the pitch black with rain streaming down, I wasn’t feeling too optimistic or excited about running a 27-mile alpine loop. We all sat around under the tent, drinking coffee and shooting the shit, before finally deciding that it wasn’t going to happen and we needed a plan B. Enter: Conundrum Hot Springs! This trek has been in my Colorado bucket list for awhile so I was really excited that we were going to get to do it. The trailhead was only about 15 minutes away, but wasn’t raining there like it was at our campsite all morning. We knew we had about 8 miles up to the hot spring – I had visions of the perfect Instagram-worthy moment in my head. All of us in the steaming spring with mountains surrounding us. We got up there and realized that it’s sort of just a hot, muddy puddle with other people always around! Nevertheless, we had a great time. In the last few miles of downhill, I decided to step on the gas and practice ending harder on tired legs. It was fun having Dan and Kevin chase me!

Hot muddy puddle!

On Sunday, I had to go to the Apple Store to get my phone fixed after it died on the run on Saturday. Dan and I made a Boulder day out of it and I ran from my favorite coffee shop, Boxcar, up the Boulder Creek Path. I was a huge grump though and giving death stares to all the tubers who were walking three-wide on the path with their tubes behind their backs preventing them from seeing anyone else who was trying to share the space. Hmph. I didn’t feel great on this (theme of the week), but I was glad to get it done.

  • Total miles: 51.4
  • Total climbing: 5,636 feet

July 31 – August 6

I started off the week with a rest day. On Tuesday, I actually didn’t run Green Mtn! Birdie was gone and I couldn’t get myself out of bed that early on my own. I ran 6.2 miles on South Table after work, a far cry from my favorite 10 mile loop. After reading another David Roche for Trail Runner article about training in the summer heat, it hit me that I haven’t actually been running that slow! Running in 80-something degrees adds a good amount of time per mile. I need to continue to focus on running easy EFFORT regardless of what pace says. On Wednesday, I ran at NP and then did a podcast jog after work listening to more My Favorite Murder.

 

Endless hill repeats.

By Thursday, I only had 11 miles under my legs and was ready for a workout at PlayGldn. We did the “gear shifter” workout that I made up to focus on controlling our efforts and turning it up a notch when it counts. When you’re racing, being able to work just a little bit harder is how you get to that uncomfortable place that leads to PRs. I managed 7.1 miles and 800 feet of climbing in less than an hour. It was also cool and cloudy out and felt like fall. This was good!

 

Misty morning at PG.

I’ve been thinking about running Lookout Mtn road for weeks but couldn’t get myself to do it alone and I didn’t have a buddy who was able to run it with me. I thought about backing out again, but when my alarm went off Friday morning, I jumped out of bed. I had my clothes laid out already and didn’t give myself a chance not to go. A couple miles into it, the sun was just starting to peek out from behind South Table Mesa. I watched it rise into clouds then out of clouds and was just in awe that I got to witness this – sunrise will forever be one of my favorite parts of the day. I felt really grateful during this run, I was just happy to be out there and be healthy and strong. I made it the 4.5 miles up in a little under 45 minutes and I got to see Meaghan and Kevin popping off the Chimney Gulch trail. Then I flew back down, averaging around 6:45 pace. This was one of my fastest trips ever up and down the mountain and it totally invigorated me. I haven’t felt that runner’s high in awhile and I exclaimed to Dan that I hit a breakthrough! I haven’t felt in shape in a long time, and I think I’m finally getting back to where I was before last year’s ECSCA. Woohoo! Later that evening, we went to Alli Bell and Dylan’s wedding and had a fantastic time. I wore heels and drank beers and we stayed at past 10 and it was just like we were normal people.

 

Wedding date.

On Saturday, I got out of bed and could barely walk to the bathroom because my feet hurt so bad from the heels I wore the night before. Considering we were planning to run 27-ish miles, I was concerned. I rolled them out with a frozen water bottle, put on compression socks, and hoped for the best. I tried to convince Dan we should do the run a different day because I wasn’t going to be able to with my aching feet and sore muscles. He didn’t entertain that idea, so off we went to Minturn to set out on the Grouse Mountain Loop.

 

 

This is normally where I just walk through the stream rather than trying to balance on the tiny bridge.

We didn’t start the run until after 10:30, and while that is way later than I would have liked, it was worth it to sleep in before driving. I didn’t know anything about the loop other than what Trail Run Project shared, but I was thinking it would take us around 6 hours. I knew the first 8 or so miles were climbing, but I didn’t anticipate it being so slow. It took forever before we popped out of the trees and had to go off-trail up to the pass. This section killed me. Stomping through the grass/weeds/flowers following the cairns on a steep incline took so much out of me. My legs were shaky when we got to the pass and stopped for lunch. ‘Great, we’re 10 miles into a 27.9 mile loop and I’m already toast.’

 

 

Lunch with a view.

We headed down a steep and rocky trail and ended up at Upper Turquoise Lake by accident as we missed an intersection and decided that we would make that our turnaround, rather than try to complete the loop when it was already so late in the day and we didn’t know what was ahead of us. Who knows what the rest of the loop would have entailed? But going back the way we came meant we had to go up a very steep section that we just came down and actually added more climbing to the day than continuing on the loop would have. Finally, we reached the pass – no time for stopping – and started to head down. I kept thinking that we would be able to make up a bunch of time on the downhill, but that wasn’t happening. First off, I was just slow. Second, it was too rocky and technical to really get any flow. I love downhill running but this was, without a doubt, the longest, most draining descent of my life. I was in a horrible mood and “everything below my belly button hurt,” as I told Dan. With about three miles to go, Dan, with his good eyesight, spotted a huge moose off the trail and I decided that if I got charged by a bull moose at that point of the day, I would have no fight to give and I’d be a goner. Right after that, we saw three wild turkeys, then I almost stepped on two little snakes crossing the trail. And then it started to hail on us. It was quite the adventure! We finished with 23 miles and 6,189 feet of climbing (!) and I was like ‘oh, no wonder that was so hard.’

But why does it look so flat?

We checked into the lovely Hotel Minturn and were ready to truly start celebrating our anniversary. First, with huge pasta meals then wedding cake in bed. The next morning, we went out to breakfast, walked around Minturn, relaxed in Beaver Creek, then drove home. We had such a great time! This first year of marriage has been an absolute treat and I love getting to share my life [and this blog ;)] with Dan.

My love.

With that, another week of summer running comes to a close and I’m really happy with where I’m at right now, gearing up for the 50k in November. I’ve got more than a solid base at this point, and after Grand Traverse, my plan is to fine tune and build some speed.

  • Total miles: 50.5
  • Total climbing: 9,042 feet

 

 

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