After last week’s “Peak Week”, I was a little ready for a rest but also strangely excited to keep pushing the elevation gain. Unfortunately life had other plans and I found myself in DC for work, which meant flat, flat, and more flat!
Monday: 1.69 miles, 59 ft of elevation gain, 21:38
Before heading to the airport for my flight I went on a short walk/jog with Moose to get coffee. The rest of the day was spent walking around the airport, sitting in an airplane, and celebrating my sister’s birthday!
Tuesday: 8.63 miles, 291 ft of elevation gain, 1:25:47
I had plans to do the entire run outside, but the humidity got the better of me. I managed 3.5 miles outside running around my hotel before I retreated into the gym to finish out my morning run. I then managed to get a couple extra miles in during the afternoon.
Wednesday: 6.94 miles, 2567 ft of elevation gain, 1:18:00
I was tired of flat running (after only one day) so I decided to do a hill workout on the treadmill. It is a poor substitution for a hill workout in the mountains, but it was better than nothing. After 4 miles of hills, I did a progression run for almost 3 miles, ending with 1/2 a mile at 6:45 min/mile pace. Ouch doesn’t begin to describe that workout!
Thursday: 3.87 miles, 145 ft of elevation gain, 45:00
I had a little too much fun with my coworkers on Wednesday night and didn’t make it back to my hotel room until 2:15am. Needless to say the 3.87 miles I ran on Thursday morning were painful and not very inspiring.
Friday: REST DAY!
After no sleep on Wednesday night and a long time spent at the airport and then in the airplane on Thursday I needed the rest day. Doing nothing was absolutely wonderful!
Saturday: 17.02 miles, 2052 ft of elevation gain, 4:06:16
Since this was my “fine tuning” week I decided a race-as-a-training-run would be a great idea and signed up for the South Park Half Marathon. Human Potential Running Series is known for great old-school ultras (and sub-ultras in this case). Last year I volunteered as course sweep and saw the middle part of the marathon so I was ok with my decision to do the shorter distance. We camped the night before so it was an easy drive back into town for the start of the race.
I started the race with Emily but my hip was bothering me so I fell behind after about a mile and a half. Luckily I quickly met another runner and we chatted for the next 13 miles (the half was actually 14.5 miles)! It felt like we were on a training run, just chatting away and running or walking whenever we felt like it. I told Jason it would probably take me 3.5 hours since I wasn’t going to be pushing the pace at all. Even with a slower than anticipated pace, we still crossed the finish line in 3:38 – only 8 minutes slower than anticipated.
After getting some food in Fairplay, Jason and I headed back towards home. Both he and Moose didn’t sleep well and Moose wasn’t too happy with the heat. We did make a quick stop at the top of Kenosha Pass for a little 2.5 mile hike to stretch our legs but then headed home to relax in the air-conditioned comfort of our apartment.
Sunday: 11.45 miles, 1955 ft of elevation gain, 2:39:56
Sunday morning Jason and I woke up very early to make it to Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park (1.5 hours away and then a mile hike) for sunrise. On the drive there we saw an elk on the side of the road and then saw a rabbit on the side of the trail when we started our hike. We joked that next we would see a bear (but kept talking loudly so that wouldn’t happen), especially since we had seen two moose on the drive from our campsite back into town for the race on Saturday. We made it to the falls just in time for sunrise. Unfortunately the falls weren’t oriented the correct way to line up with sunrise for a photo so we had to enjoy sunrise with our eyes only (although Jason did capture some great photos of the falls that you can find on his website NinetySeventy.com). After sunrise we started the climb up to Mills Lake. Luckily there are signs posted with arrows showing which way to different lakes because I almost took the wrong trail split but it wasn’t long before we were staring out over Mills Lake.
As we were heading around the lake to continue on towards Jewel Lake and Black Lake we saw a mama elk and her twin babies (we had already seen two other female elk right before Mills Lake). Mama didn’t seem to concerned with us so we kept talking loudly to encourage her to move along. Unfortunately she kept moving along the trail so we had to stop multiple times for her to move along. At one point we turned a blind corner and mama and her babies were very close to us. Mama didn’t like that one bit so we quickly retreated and hid behind trees until she moved along. As we were waiting for her to move along, another mama and her baby surprised us from behind. This mama wasn’t concerned with us at all and even moved along the trail so that we were between her and her baby. The baby tried to scamper up the bank but apparently had trouble getting back down and ended up back on the trail. Mama calmly walked over and encouraged baby to continue, all while we watched, trapped by the trail on one side and the lake on the other. Eventually the mamas and babies (and a couple other females) went into a field where I was able to snap this picture before we continued on our hike.
Since we were distracted by the elk we completely missed the fact that we passed by Jewel Lake (we both thought it was still Mills Lake) so I was surprised when we came to the trail split for the backcountry campsite. After the split the trail became much more difficult to follow. I had done some research and knew that if we were in doubt we should follow the creek. Glacier Creek had other ideas. It was raging with unstable snow bridges everywhere. Since the snow was melting so much it was hard to tell where the creek actually was. We knew we didnt want to cross any snow bridges so when we came to a waterfall we decided to scramble up and over it. It was a great idea for crossing the waterfall but a terrible idea because we quickly lost the trail. After some rock scrambling and postholing, one that resulted in Jason getting a bloody knee, we decided to head back down towards the creek. Finally we saw the trail about 100 feet below us and had to traverse a very steep slope on snow that had no grip whatsoever. Once back on the trail it was easy to follow to the lake. The lake was unlike any other part of Rocky Mountain that we had ever seen. The steep granite walls rose up from the lake at impossible angles and waterfalls cascaded over the cliffs in all directions.
After a break at the lake for a snack and some photos we headed back down. The way down was much easier since we could slide down the snow slopes (although I think my sliding was slower than my running). Eventually we made it back to the car and spent the rest of the day relaxing at home with the pup. It was a great way to end my fine tuning week. This week is all about making sure my hip feels ok and then its race week!
Weekly Total: 49.6 miles, 7069 ft of elevation gain, 10:36:37