Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 2014 Mileage: Everything's easy

Everything’s easy— Girlyman

154.83 miles in June.  That’s kind of small potatoes but is the highest mileage I’ve run all year.  Maybe this stress fracture/tendon injury is finally behind me.  It’s taken 6 months, but suddenly, everything’s easy.

The month started out with a 21-mile run about half on pavement through the city and then swooping back west again to finish it off on the rocky trails of the foothills.  Blue sky all the way.

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Completing that run with my ankle/calf still intact gave me the confidence to sign up for the Estes Park Marathon later in the month.  A traditional marathon training plan would have had me start tapering after the the 21 miler, but considering that I had never really trained in the first place, tapering seemed uncalled for.  Besides.  I’ll taper when I’m old.

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Rob suggested that I run some of the Blue Sky Trail the next weekend.  I did and it was amazing.  Except for the rocks, the meeting of mountain bikers coming around blind corners, and the hikers/other runners who brought their giant dogs to the trail.

IMG 3373 This. This is why Simeon used the word “colorado” when he was talking about things that were red.

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It was a rare cloudy day in Colorado.

I took a connector trail (the Inlet Bay Trail) from Blue Sky over to Soderberg Open Space.  That was amazing too, except for the parts of the trail that were flooded, and the parts of it that literally went through a campground (where everybody and their dog had a dog that chased me as I ran past).  Once I got to Soderberg, I ran Towers Trail, which I loved because it was an old logging road (i.e., wide), and it was so hard that not many other people (or their dogs) were on it.

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It was hard. There were times when all I could do was laugh at how steep it was.

I did a lot more running around Dixon Reservoir during the week.

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Plus some light biking around town with the family:

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Then we took a trip to Leadville, where Rob ran the Leadville Trail Marathon.  The next morning, I got up early and ran the Mineral Belt Trail, about 12 miles round trip from our hotel.  I loved it.  The trail was paved asphalt, and even though the highest point was 10,600 ft, I ran a lot faster on it than I do on the rocky trails here in Fort Collins.  So its not elevation or hills that slow me down, it’s terrain.  And dogs.  And constantly moving out of the way for other foot/pedal traffic.

IMG 3441Leadville shimmers below, at 10,200ft

Mineral belt

IMG 3443 I actually started to feel a bit creeped out running past the old mines, completely alone. But it was beautiful and I was fine.

IMG 3445 So much of the trail was climbing up, up, up. It was an amazing feeling to round the corner and begin the descent back into town.

IMG 3446 This house is a little bit of a fixer-upper.

I tapered for about 6 days, and then it was time for the marathon, which went off without a hitch.

IMG 3476 Everything’s easy.

On our way home from Estes Park, I began wondering what on earth was next for me.  I mean, a road marathon was an interesting experience for me after a couple of years of trying to run on more trails and longer distances.  But I was feeling the call of the ultra again, and feeling it bad. 

I rested for a couple days, and my legs felt surprisingly back to normal.  William, of his own volition, suggested that we go run around the track at a nearby middle school.

IMG 3498 The tape is just preventative.

It didn’t take long, and I set my sights on the Bear Chase Trail race in late September.  I was so intrigued by the possibility of this event that we took a family drive out to Lakewood to do some trail reconnaissance.

The way it played out was possibly the most Ragfield thing that the Ragfields have ever done.  

I wanted to see if I could run the trail (which was described on the race website as "not overly technical"), but when we got to the park it was a labyrinth of trails and I had no idea where to go. So Rob struck out with some biodegradable flagging tape (leftover from my dissertation research) looped through his Anton Krupicka vest, and a sort of hand-drawn course map.

Will and I hung out at the playground for a couple hours until Rob finished running and marking the 12.5 mile loop. Then I took off, following his biodegradable markers and picking them up as I went. It was kind of like an awesome scavenger hunt.

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Unfortunately, it wasn't always that easy. I missed a turn a couple miles in (maybe I didn't see the marker?), and didn't realize it for a long, long time.

I was never, like, really lost. I mean, I could see the mountains, so at least I knew what direction I was going. But there were a few frantic phone calls to Rob wherein I described my location and tried to figure out how to get back on course. Which I did, eventually, with a lot of his help and patience.

My final determination of the course was that it was pretty good. No, not overly technical. But yes, rocky in places. This could be a problem in an ultra. I wasn't as worried about the mountain climb and the 3 knee-deep (and very rapidly rushing) streams to cross, all of which I'd have to do 4 times (it is a 4-loop course). I am more nervous about tripping on rocks as I get tired, and getting burnt to a crisp in the very long, very exposed sections. And causing a traffic jam on the single track because I am slow and people want to pass me, but there is not a safe place for me to step aside and let them around.

IMG 3507One of the less scenic views on the course: Little boxes, on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky.

But whatever.  I'm doing it. I registered for the Bear Creek Lake 50 Mile Trail Race on September 27. I'm scared out of my mind (recall what happened the last time I ran 50 miles), but I'm all in.

154.83 miles in June. 613.22 year to date. The first half of 2014 has not been easy, but I'm still on my feet, I'm still moving, and things are starting to head in the right direction. Grateful for every step.

June Miles

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

May the BEARS and SNAKES stay off your trails!! and out of your way as you run merrily along!!!! Such beautiful pictures !!!! But 50 MILES????? Yikes!! Hope it goes well with no crisis!!! Just don't get LOST!! Scary thought! Luv and hugs~~~ mama