Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Kelso Project

Last night as I was climbing Torreys, I was taken by the eastern ridge leading to Mt. Edwards and on to Grays/Torreys.  It also appears to form a sort of hook towards Kelso Mountain.  I'm unaware if this is a standard loop or if there is anyone who has done it or has beta on some of the trickier links (not that I've searched).  Seems like a great project though for a number of reasons, but the traffic on Grays and Torreys is actually a plus in my mind as it could serve as an unofficial aid station if you needed to bum food or water.  My guess is the route is somewhere in the 13-15 mile range, but a solid half to full day adventure depending on access to the ridge and what the scrambling is like in some sections I haven't checked out.  I  probably need to bounce the idea off some folks like JV or Homie if I run into them again as my mountaineering experience is limited.

Proposed route, start on the eastern ridge towards Mt. Edwards


Bypassed the crowds and went for a night climb of Torreys.  Cold and windy, but otherwise great conditions.  Made it about half way up before the sun set.  Incredible views at night, but my camera froze as I tried to snap some photos at the summit and I only managed a blurry proof shot before it was completely dead.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jemez 50: A Lesson in Crash Landings

Keith and I got a bit of a late start on our trek to Los Alamos Friday evening, but eventually pulled into the parking lot at the race start (which offered convenient camping) and curled up in the back of the Subaru for some surprisingly good sleep.

Race morning was a bit of a blur and I was on the can when I heard the RD on the horn lining up the start.  So a bit rushed, but I made it just in time to run into Steve at the start line.  It was a nice surprise as neither of us knew the other was going to be there.  In any case, the race was underway and I settled in behind the lead pack and started picking my way through the rocks.  Here I saw Brendan taking photos, and I'd see him a bunch of times throughout the run (always nice to see a familiar face).

The Start Line
Photo: Jason Halladay
For the first 10 or so miles I ran with Matthew from Arizona and another nice guy from Santa Fe (sorry I forgot your name!).  We chatted about upcoming races and what to expect on the course, but before long we were starting the first 3K' climb up Pajarito.  I was in 5th here and throughout the climb I began to pick up places and close the gap on the two leaders.  Much of the climb was off trail and you needed to pay attention to make sure you didn't fall off course. Somewhere near the top I ran face first into a low tree branch and split my lip, the course was fighting back...

I passed 2nd place at the top of the ski area and then at the base of the ski area I took the lead (mile 20).  I should mention that the downhills at Jemez are otherworldly.  New Mexico does not believe in switchbacks it appears and you simply run straight down a ski hill.  Now I was starting to feel really good, but didn't want to dig myself a hole and tried to keep it under the hood during the mellow climb to the 50K junction.  At the split, 50 milers head down a really really steep drainage.  It was awesome in a masochistic way.

Photo: David Hanenburg @ endurancebuzz.com
Now we're in the fast section of the course and I start to push the pace and get out of sight.  The loop here turns onto a section of cross country running and then onto an old fire road which wasn't much of a road, but covered in tall grass.  Before long I was at the lake which marked the start of the climb back to Pajarito.  The entire climb is off trail and heinous. Many things were said during that climb, none of which can be posted here...

Happy to be at the top of the ski area again, I was not excited about the nasty downhill to the bottom, but it was over before you know it and now I was into the back of the 50K runners.  Climb, climb, climb and I was working my way to the start of the long down on Guaje to the finish.  Here, about mile 40, it was getting really hot and I'd been in the exposed terrain for a long time.  The beginning of the downhill is really nice pine needle covered trail and I was lulled into a false sense of security thinking it'd be like that all the way to the finish.

Photo: Brendan Trimboli
Only a mile or so later, the burn area opened up and I began to melt.  If I were a plane, there would be alarms and blinking lights all over the place.  It was not good, I was overheating and struggling to keep it together. I still couldn't see anyone behind me, but I knew someone had to be closing the gap.  The miles leading up to the final aid station were brutal and when I looked over my shoulder just above Last Chance Saloon (tequila shots for the brave...) only a few hundred meters back was what I had been dreading, Jason Taylor closing fast.

I ripped into the last aid station (mile 48) and poured water on my head in a lame attempt to cool down and ground out the climb from there and simply did everything in my power to keep the legs moving.  I used 50K runners to pace off of and chase down, and kept looking back for Jason but I was just keeping him out of sight.  I was relieved to see the grooved rock that meant I was there and struggled across the finish line exhausted.

The closest shade
I found the nearest shade and laid down.  A kind and well meaning volunteer grabbed me a glass of HEED and in my state I didn't think to politely turn it down and drank the whole thing.  A few minutes later I was puking it all over the place and scaring the small children.

In the end I won by a mere 90 seconds after holding a 8-10 minute lead for much of the race.  After I recovered from the puke fest I caught up with a bunch of people and met some really cool inspiring people from Diana Finkel (women's winner in 9:26) and Blake Wood.  Bill (RD) gave me the winner's "medal" which is a really cool pot with artwork describing the fire that devastated the area one year ago.

I can't say enough about the direction of this race, everything from camping at the start, course marking, organization and aid, finish line atmosphere, food and beer (Santa Fe brewing).  Definitely a must do for anyone who loves a great and tough as nails 50.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Graph of Truth

Thanks to my buddy James

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happy Birthday

My oldest son is 4 today. 4 years ago I couldn't rent a car without being charged an "underage" fee...
Xavier at Mother's Day dinner.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Steamboat 100

Last night Rachel and I made an executive decision to change our plans a bit for the latter half of the year.  This means a warm weather vacation and just a few extra miles in September...

Language is a bit salty, but this was in my head when I submitted my change from 50 to 100:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Greenland Weekend

I went into Greenland knowing that I wasn't going to set any records, but had thought that there was a chance to set a PR if I could just hold my training pace together given the flat nature of this course.  The Roost had set me up with a comp entry so I thought it was a good way to get another long run in at a place I typically wouldn't run.  My buddy Keith showed up to hang around the start and we caught up with Shad, Lucho, and Rob before the start.

First Turnaround (Photo: Rob Timko)
 Once we got going, I knew that I was going to be solid all day, but I haven't been doing ANY speedwork so my diesel engine just took its time to fire up and settle in.  I was a bit confused with the course as I hadn't really paid attention prior to the start, but the first and last laps are actually a good bit longer than the middle two laps.  I essentially just zoned out and ran for the next few hours with the occasional break to say hi to friends on the course.
Starting the 4th lap (Photo: Rob Timko)
 The only mistake I made was forgetting to grab gels at the start of the 4th lap.  I had eaten all mine and about 100 yards out of the aid I realized I really needed some calories.  That dragged my pace a bit until the last aid station and cost me a few minutes but nothing much to speak of.  I grabbed and downed 2 gels at the last aid station and went to work on the last rolling climbs back to the finish.
The view towards the first aid and Pikes (Photo: Rob Timko)

Backside of the loop (Photo: Ben Reeves)
I caught and passed 3 guys over the final 3-4 miles or so and held a fairly steady if unimpressive pace back to the finish.  I crossed in 4:10:45 (Full results) and went to go find my beer.  At the finish, I caught up with Matt, Scott, and Bryan for a while before collecting a tile I got for 2nd 20-29 and heading down to meet up with Keith.
Finishing (Photo: Rob Timko)
That afternoon I spent down at Fort Carson at the Spartan Race where my buddy Keith placed 3rd in the open out of over 2,500 people.  All that time in the Marines paid for itself there, eh?  Then we circled the wagons and loaded up the back of his '91 Tacoma and headed up to the Missouri Gulch Trailhead.  I overlooked that it is off the same road that goes to Winfield, so some nostalgia hit as we pulled in.  A quick dinner of gnocci and pesto followed by some apple crisp and we were off to bed.

The NW view from Belford
We slept in before grabbing some breakfast and headed up the gulch towards the summit.  Quickly we passed a few girls hiking in their snowboard boots with boards strapped on.  I admire the motivation, but their work was in vain unless they had plans to ride packed ice for a few hundred feet at a time or scree fields.  The route to Belford is actually pretty steep, gaining over 4500' in a touch over 3 miles.  Near 13,700' we crested the ridge and were hit with a strong freezing wind and began to move more quickly in our running shorts to gain the summit.

Keith, freezing on the summit
After warming up out of the wind, we began to run down the saddle.  However, as we approached the turn to begin the real work towards Oxford, a big group of nasty looking clouds began to form just off the peak and we decided to play it safe and bail as we were not prepared to deal with any moisture and we were already freezing.  I quickly stopped to slam a PBR on Belford for the 100 beers challenge (which I am way behind on) and then we headed back down to the truck.  After snacks, lunch, naps, and coffee we headed back to Colorado Springs.  That night I decided to bail on Pikes with more weather moving in, and instead head back home and bag some Boulder peaks.  

Monday morning I woke up late and gathered my things before heading up and began my run in the wet snow.  My route was Green via Gregory/Ranger/West Ridge, then on the saddle to Bear, SoBo, Bear, tagged Green again, down Bear Canyon, and Mesa back to the car.  Initially I had just planned on hiking the whole thing as my legs were barking from the vert the day before, but I felt better as I went and ended up running most of everything after Green the first time.  With all respect to Green, Bear and South Boulder are much more fun summits, Bear in particular.  So I'll vote Bear as best Boulder Peak, and Bear Canyon as the best trail in the Boulder Open Space.  There was a good amount of wet snow and I was in the thick of the clouds during the whole run which was awesome.  Gotta love the Spring storms in CO.