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Peak Week

By on June 13, 2016

Boy oh boy what a week it was! This past week was my final “big mileage” week before the summer race season starts and I really wanted to make it count. I knew this would be the last week where I could get in some serious climbing and a little elevation training since I’ll be traveling a lot for the next couple of weeks. I made sure that every single run had elevation gain, which meant that both Moose and I got a much better workout than normal. Although I’m feeling great after my peak week, the poor pup is pooped is probably thanking his lucky stars that mama will be gone for the next couple of days and he can relax!

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Running on Mesa Trail with Moose

Monday: 11.5 miles, 2248 ft of climbing, 2:28:17
Monday was a holiday (and Jason was still out of town) so Moose and I made the most of it. I had plans to head up South Boulder peak with the pup but the day quickly became hotter than anticipated. We started at Cragmoor Road in South Boulder and took the Shanahan Ridge trail to Mesa trail before heading up, up, up on Shadow Canyon trail. We made it about halfway up Shadow Canyon trail before the heat really started getting to Moose and he was stopping every couple of steps. No adventure is worth putting my pup through misery so we turned around and took a prolonged stop at the creek crossings on the way back. The wildflowers are blooming like crazy in the foothills right now so we took our timing enjoying them on the way down.

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Memorial Day American Pride!

After a quick nap (for Moose) and some food for both of us, we headed back out to try and meet up with some friends at Betasso Preserve. Driving through Boulder was a nightmare thanks to the traffic and road closures for the Bolder Boulder, but we eventually made it to Betasso about 30 minutes later than I had planned. When we arrived we didn’t see anyone at the trailhead (they were doing a big loop of Betasso and then Moose and I were going to join them to drink beer and relax). We decided to head up the trail to see if they were there and made it almost all the way to the top before hearing a rattle at our feet. Moose was not at all scared of the rattlesnake (which is surprising because he is afraid of everything) but it startled me enough to turn around and head back to the car. We were close enough that we would have been able to hear voices if they were up there anyways. After waiting in the car for a little bit and filming Moose doing tricks for pieces of an Epic bacon bar, we drove over to the other trailhead to see if we could find them there. No luck so we headed back up the meeting point again (this time without seeing the rattler) and headed home when the rocks were once again empty. It turned out that their run had taken longer than expected and we left a little before they showed up.

We spent the rest of the day napping and drinking beer with some friends at a new-to-me brewery in Westminster. All in all it was a great Memorial Day!

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Best buds

Tuesday: 6.6 miles, 1748 ft of elevation gain, 1:28:07
On Tuesday it was back to the daily grind but the weather cooled down enough in the afternoon for Moose and I to join the Salomon run club on their weekly run up to Royal Arch and then tack on a little extra to round out the day. Despite the fact that it rained on us during the run, almost all the creeks were dry. Moose remembered where each one should have been after our hike up Royal Arch a couple of weeks ago and at each one that was dry he would turn and look at me with the saddest look in his puppy dog eyes. Luckily I was smart enough to bring a water bottle with me. Although it was not enough for both of us to share, there was enough to keep us relatively happy until we made it back to the car where extra water bottles were waiting. On the way down from Royal Arch the rains stopped and revealed a beautiful double rainbow over Boulder. You really can’t ask for a better way to end a run!

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Hill repeats. It looks flat but it’s not!

Wednesday: 8.28 miles, 1806 ft of elevation gain, 1:45:15
Today was hill repeat day. The workout called for 1-3-5-7-5-3-1 minute intervals with half time recovery. Once again the weather was HOT and I made the mistake of starting almost immediately after finishing work for the day at 2:30 pm. At least I was smart enough to choose Bear Canyon for the workout which is relatively shaded. The workout itself was uneventful. I ran the 1 and 3 minute intervals and then hiked/ran the 5 and 7 minute intervals, depending on how steep and rocky the terrain was. Overall my average pace for all the intervals was around 12:30 min/mile, so not technically fast but definitely faster than I was earlier in the training cycle. I jogged back down the canyon, this time without tripping on any rocks and hurting myself, and chugged coconut water when I finally returned home.

Thursday: Rest day!
A much needed relaxing day between lots of climbing!

Mesa Trail - NinetySeventy

Early morning hike in South Boulder, PC: NinetySeventy Photography

Friday: 10 miles, 2153 ft of elevation gain, 2:07:33
Jason and I decided to do a sunrise hike in Boulder to kick off the weekend. We woke up really early (even for me) and made it to the trailhead before sunrise. We did the same route that Moose and I did on Monday (Shanahan Ridge, Mesa Trail, and part way up Shadow Canyon) so I could show Jason the profusion of wildflowers in the meadows. The flowers did not disappoint and hopefully they helped reignite his photography spark. We made it home before work and were both able to get in a full work day afterwards! Jason was especially happy that we did an early morning hike since the rest of his day was spent eating carrot cake, donuts, and pizza!

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Running around above Sky Pond

Saturday: 11.45 miles, 2247 ft of elevation gain, 3:04:40
On Saturday Jason and I decided to head up to Rocky Mountain National Park and check out Lake of Glass and Sky Pond before all the snow melted. We did a little research beforehand and learned that Timberline falls was still mostly snowbound so we would be able to climb up without being drenched by the waterfall. Although we slept in a little bit we still made it to the Bear Lake parking lot before it was full for the day (although we did have to park all the way at the end) and started our hike past the popular Alberta falls before the crowds really showed up. Above Alberta falls the trail had quite a few snow sections but I’m sure they will all be melted by next weekend. Once we made it to the Loch the trail mostly disappeared and we were left to follow the faint footprints through the snow. We did lose the trail a couple of times and twice my foot punched through a snow bridge into a raging creek below but luckily the sun was shining and my foot was only cold for a couple of minutes after each time. As we approached Timberline falls we were able to find an established trail which made for quicker travel. Right before the final climb to the falls we saw another group coming down that was filming each other sliding down the snow field. After they finished we made the final push up the falls to Lake of Glass.

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Handstand above Lake of Glass, PC: NinetySeventy Photography

My hip was sore from kicking steps in the snow and frequently sliding sideways and backwards so we took a little bit of a break at Lake of Glass. I didn’t want to continue to Sky Pond, thinking there was still a significant climb between Lake of Glass and Sky Pond. Luckily Jason convinced me to continue up since the climb was easy through the softening snow and the views from Sky Pond are the best that I’ve seen in the park. We enjoyed a snack and a mini photoshoot at Sky Pond before heading back down.

Above Sky Pond - NinetySeventy

Sky Pond, PC: NinetySeventy Photos

Apparently we did an excellent job of marking the trail because we saw a large group at Lake of Glass and even more people still on their way up from the Loch. The trail was very well defined as we hiked, jogged, and slid back down to the Loch. Last weekend was probably the final weekend for the winter trail since the snow bridges were severely deteriorated and the waterfall will soon take over the entire section of the trail until more of the snow melts and water flows recede.

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After the storm

Sunday: 10.91 miles, 3743 ft of elevation gain, 2:44:12
Sunday started with a morning ascent of Mount Morrison for two of my running friends’ joint bachelor/bachelorette party. Mount Morrison ascends 2,000+ vertical feet in less than two miles on what is essentially a climbers trail. The trailhead is only marked with a sign prohibiting bicycles and horses and steep dirt strip between the desert shrubs. Quite a few people showed up for the first ascent (most people did at least two but I stopped after one) and after a warning about falling rocks we headed up, up, up. I positioned myself in the back since my SI joint was a literal pain in my butt and I wanted to be able to go at my own pace uphill. The weather was perfect for the steep climb, with cool temperatures and nice breeze. I wasn’t moving fast by any means but the climb felt pretty effortless, even the rocky scrambling sections near the very top. All this climbing is definitely starting to pay off! At the top we regrouped and took a couple of pictures before heading back down to the “aid station” at the trailhead. Heading down was slightly more treacherous than heading up but my new New Balance Vazee Summit shoes gripped the rocks and loose dirt really well and I didn’t have to stress too much about my foot placement. After a little socializing at the trailhead I headed home for some errands and Sunday cleaning.

After the Sunday chores were done I took a nice nap and then headed back to Boulder for my final run of the week. I parked at the Bear Canyon access point without any real plans except to get at least 700 feet of climbing in. As soon as I left the car the skies opened up and it started pouring. Luckily my phone is water resistant (and essentially waterproof if I hold it the right way) so I just enjoyed the cooling rain. After about a half mile of rain, the skies cleared and showed off a triple rainbow over Boulder! Instead of continuing up Bear Canyon I stayed on Mesa trail a little longer and went up Fern Canyon. I told myself that I would head uphill until 7pm and then turn around and head home. I made it over halfway up Fern Canyon before 7pm rolled around and I turned around. I ended up with 1600+ feet of elevation gain in a little over 10k. Not a bad way to end a solid week of up- and downhill running.

Weekly Total: 58.74 miles, 13,945 ft of elevation gain, 13:38:04

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