Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Week in Review (July 20 - July 26, 2021)

Tuesday (22,838 steps) - Work in the office. I had hoped to do some foam rolling at lunch, but the building gym didn't have any rollers. Instead I did a fairly boring stretching video. Still probably better than nothing? After work I headed over to Green Mountain. I had initially planned out a route from the trail head I used to park at, but the lot was being repaved, so it was closed. Headed over to the main trail head and quickly mapped out a 7 mile run. THIS WAS AWFUL. It's not like I normally run up the big climbs, but I was struggling even WALKING up them. My calves were still SO PISSED, and even walking wasn't giving me any relief.





Really, the only good part about the run was the temperature. It remained cloudy and dare I say "cool" the whole time! I finished with enough time that I headed over to Green Mountain Brewery for a seltzer before heading home.
Wednesday (21,498 steps) - Work in the office. After my horrible run I had scheduled a PT appointment to try some rehab. I was on my way out the door to go to it when I realized I had accidentally scheduled for NEXT week. Shit. Luckily they had an opening for after work when I went to reschedule. Used that opportunity to go for my run during lunch. I only had 6 miles on schedule, so that was going to work out for my lunch hour. Interestingly, the run was fine, but that's probably because the city is super flat. Either way, I was glad it was done and not horrible. I had to leave work a few minutes early so that I would have time to get to my appointment. It lasted a lot longer than I thought. First was a quick gait analysis. I was told that my gait and foot placement is fine, but I'm apparently a bit of a forefoot striker, and that could be causing some of my calf pain. With my race coming up so soon I can't actually work on that right now, but it may be something I try to figure out after it's over. He did some massaging and cupping, then dry needling.
It hurt SO bad while it was being done, and when it was over. I headed over to Runners Roost since they were still having the trail festival going on. I chatted with Tyler, Mike and a few others, had a piece of pizza and a beer before heading home. Per the doc's recommendation, I did an easy shakeout ride on the Peloton.
Thursday (17,358 steps) - Work from home. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel morning after all that manipulation on my calves, so I didn't get up early for my run. That meant, however, that I had to run on my lunch hour. I had 5 on schedule, but only the first three were running the rest of the miles were power hiking. I selected a route that was more flat/downhill at the start and it wasn't bad. 
The heat wasn't great, but the run was ok. That gave me a little hope!
Friday (18,639 steps) - 4 mile "run" meant I had to get up just a bit earlier to get it finished in time to join friends for coffee. Thankfully, it was intervals again! 1 mile easy, then alternating a half mile run, half mile power hike until I hit 4. Actually not bad, again, but I recognize this was on flats. Got coffee at Stella's, then headed into work. Nicole and I went to the gym at work and did a core and upper body video. After work, I met up with Ben at New Image for happy hour.
Saturday (52,087 steps) - Up early for our Saturday adventure! Melina had insisted that Daniel would "love" to drive us to the trail head at Berthoud Pass and then pick us up when we were done at Herman Gulch. Ben was a little slow to get ready, so they did have to wait for us for about 15 minutes while he had to make sure we had everything. We arrived at the pass to meet up with Tyler, Jeramiah, Kristin & Terri, who had driven up together. It was definitely cooler than I planned and I was a bit concerned that I had not brought clothes that would be warm enough!

I'll start by saying that I was most worried about Melina, since she had come up from North Carolina, sea level, and that she might struggle with the elevation. Didn't need to worry at all, she was amazing! I had an off day, and spent a bulk of the day having issues with an incredibly high heart rate, some dizziness, and of course the calf pain.

The lower mile or so was about the only time I didn't feel completely inadequate. It was pretty - in the trees, and I wasn't dying - yet. Then we got above tree line, where we would remain most of the day. There was  a long section of switchbacks that I thought was actually going to kill me. Jeramiah had already been talking about turning around and I was very tempted to join him. My overall physical condition was actually causing me to have a mild panic attack. Luckily, it cleared up before things got weird.



We had a nice section where there wasn't as much climbing, and I really started to feel a lot better. Unfortunately, Jeramiah still decided he was ready to turn back, and Terri wasn't feeling great, so she also turned around. That left just the five of us.
We trudged along. After a few more miles we were on some nice single track and then headed down a bit - it felt good to not be climbing! Since I had looked along the route, I knew we would be going by Jones Pass, which I have done a few times with Ariel. In my head, I knew that was also probably the last location on the route where I could bail if I "needed" to. I was actually feeling a bit better with some of the descents, so kept moving...
We finally saw a few marmots, although not as many as we normally do.

I finally started to recognize where we had hiked before, and Ben managed to get a picture of me climbing a hill that I DEFINITELY remembered getting a picture of Ariel last time we were up. The whole section along Jones Pass was just GORGEOUS. So many wildflowers and green!

We exited the downhill/flatter section and the climbing began again. We stopped for a quick food break before leaving the security of all the trees and heading into more exposed areas. We still look happy here.


We came across a section of trail that really reminded me of Arapaho Pass. Lots of rocks and even some sections of climbing across bigger rocks. I was struggling finding the trail and every rock Ben was stepping on was loose and moving around. Neither of us loved this part.
We had a long stretch that was along a ridge line. It got REALLY windy on this section. I put on my heavier jacket. There were plenty of stretches where the wind was so intense it was nearly impossible to even USE poles, since they were blowing all over. Even Ben said he almost got knocked over a few times.

Somewhere in this section is where we came to the realization that there was going to be a lot more gain than what the map had said. I was just hoping my calves would hold up. In addition to that, I was just overall getting tired and really not having a ton of fun - even though it was gorgeous out.

Every time we thought the climbing was done, we would turn a corner and there would be another big climb. 

It was INSANELY windy at this section
FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, we got to the end of the climbing.

We took a turn to head down towards the section going to Herman Gulch. It was finally a runnable here, but I had a side cramp and I was also wanting to get rid of my poles. We had our last snack of the day - and I apparently arrived too late to know that Melina had texted Daniel and asked him to bring us pizza, haha. It was GORGEOUS on this upper trail - still a ton of wildflowers!

We finally turned onto the Herman Gulch section, and I thought we had about 2.5 miles to go, but I think I should have estimated closer to 3. It seemed like this part would never end! Kristin and Tyler had taken off and me, Ben and Melina jogged down a bulk of the trail. We finally finished, and oooh baby, what a day! Ended up with over 20 miles (close to 21!) and 5,500+' of climbing. Oof. We had some pizza in the parking lot and chatted with Tyler and Terri (who still needed a ride home) until they had to leave. Doug, Kristin & Obi met us at Cabin Creek for a beer.
We finally headed down, and Daniel dropped us off at home. We decided to meet up at Kokopelli for pizza and more beer. Kristin joined us and it was a lot of fun!
Sunday (37,510 steps) - Up early for what I hope to be my last "big" miles for a while. I can't believe Ben had decided to join me, but off we were at 6:30 to meet up with Kristin to run Dirty Biz. I was feeling like complete shit. I thought it would just be my calves giving me problems, but turns out my whole body just did NOT want to do anything. Kristin finally dropped us about a mile in. I'm honestly surprised she waited that long. It was nice out, still cloudy and not a sauna yet. I had to stop and use the bathroom at the Coalton trail head, but I think my body is just trained to do that since it is the only opportunity on the whole loop without going out of the way. We walked a TON, but I guess that is all good practice for my next race? There were BILLIONS of sunflowers and other wildflowers, and a lot more cows than we normally see.




I was REALLY happy to be done with this. Nothing to write home about, other than it was about a half hour slower than I have ever done the loop, but considering I had done about 150 miles in maybe 2 weeks, I'm surprised I even got through it. We had a bit of time at home to eat, shower and watch TV before heading down to Edgewater Public Market for Ben's birthday party! (Not my Ben). It was a lot of fun, and there were a lot of folks there I don't see often.
Ariel and I both enjoyed going to the Mac Shack - really, I think fancy mac n' cheese is one of the best things on this planet. We had invited Greg to come over for another beer. After he left, I finally got around to doing my prescribed ice bath. I haven't ever actually DONE a real ice bath before, and it was pretty horrible. I managed to sit in it for about ten minutes. Ben was right, the first couple minutes were the worst, I thought I was dying.
Monday (11,494 steps) - Work from home and FINALLY A REST DAY!! I took Pika for a walk alone because Ben took Ariel out for a driving lesson. After it cooled down, Ben and I took Pika for another walk at the lake. I haven't been out there at sunset in a while - it was beautiful out!

Stats:
  • 181,424 steps
  • 58.17 miles run
  • 40 minutes of cardio
  • 45 minutes of strength training

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Black Hawk trail half marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, July 18
Golden, CO
Half marathon #
Weather - Sunny and warm

I volunteered at the ERS Westminster Trail half marathon back in April and got a comp entry to a future race. Initially, I picked Snow Mountain Ranch since I expected to be running Vermont 100 the weekend of Black Hawk. When Vermont cancelled, I opted to run Black Hawk - it's a lot of climbing, so I figured it would be good training for Bigfoot.

Ben opted to not sign up, so I was going to be running solo. Even though I had mapped it out the night before, I managed to get out the door about 10 minutes later than planned - which is not a good idea for this race since parking is so limited.

Either way, there was no traffic on the drive and I managed to get a parking spot on the road (not the lot) and had just enough time to get my bib and use the bathroom before it was time to start. They opted to do a few wave starts of about 25 runners each to keep the congestion down. I had no idea what my body was going to feel like doing after covering so many miles, so I started in the last group of folks.

Unbeknownst to me (because I guess I didn't read the pre-race emails, nor did I listen to the RD at the start line, haha) the course was going to be done in reverse. I've done the half three other times and the 10K once, and we've always done the loop counter-clockwise. You wouldn't think it would make that much of a difference doing it the other direction, but it really was a lot harder in my opinion.
We started up almost immediately. Even though I had intentionally started towards the back, I was not the last one, so I was very conscious of my pace. Right of the bat, I felt like shit. My calves were insanely tight - to the point of being painful. I obviously had no intention of running the climbs, but even hiking briskly didn't feel great. I didn't enjoy being in the conga line. The same little spur where we have gone off track in the past got a bunch of folks on the way out, so in addition to them adding mileage, we all had to wait while they scurried back up - since the people closer to the front were supposed to be the faster ones anyway. I wasn't really sure what the course was like since I hadn't looked in advance, but when we took a turn down to the first aid station, I knew I could at least jog that part. I did manage to pass a few people in this section. I didn't stop at the aid station at the bottom, other than to grab a package of Honey Stingers.


Nothing improved from here. I thought that the nice section of downhill at an easy jog pace might loosen up my legs. It didn't. Things got even worse from here. I was wondering how stupid it might be to just turn around and go back to the start. I mean, people DNF short races too, right? This was awful. It was sunny, it was warm, I was sweating like I had been sprinting. I couldn't believe how hard this felt. The climbing seemed to go on FOREVER. We arrived at the cute lake I always take pictures of, and I remembered how nice it was to run by this and have a few miles of downhill. Sigh.
Climbing continued up, then we had a short out and back (which we actually had in the past as well, but it was much further in the race previously). I had actually been listening that the next aid station wasn't until mile 8.5 and I was wondering if there was any way I would even be able to make it that long. Even though I had down this route (in reverse) before, I was having a hard time remembering where the trail actually went. We came to the section where we had to go up the sweeping switchbacks which are a blast to come down and NOT super fun to hike up. I had to actually pull over on the side of the trail a few times here to catch my breath. At this point I was wishing I had looked at the course info to see how much gain there was actually supposed to be now, because it certainly seemed like we had been climbing F O R E V E R.
I was happy, briefly, when we got to the top, because it was cooler and because I knew the downhill was coming. The downhill, however, was pretty steep, so I wasn't able to blaze down like I normally can. Plus, my legs were burned out from all the climbing, so it was more gingerly hopping down the trail and trying to stay upright.
We entered into the pretty area by the river that I've always enjoyed coming up in years past. I had never done this section going down, and I didn't care for it. I don't know if it was the time of day, but it was really hard to see all the roots and rocks and I felt like I had to go a lot slower through here than I would have liked. I did actually manage to pass a few people coming through here, although that would be short lived when we had another big climb coming out of there. When we finally got out of that section, we were at the part where we would be on an exposed double track. I remembered this section from the beginning of every other year. 
It was SO hot. I knew we had an out and back that was probably close to three miles. Hit the second aid station, and friend Pete was working. I didn't stop long at this station either, just filled up my bottles. I was able to run the downhills and made note of how miserable everyone looked on the way back up. I just felt so incredibly defeated. Came to the big climb out to the turnaround and I kept having to stop in the shade to rest. How the hell am I going to do Bigfoot? How am I still so horrible at climbing? Why why why???? Ugh. Finally hit the turnaround, and I walked a bit with a gal on the climb out to the aid station. I tried to run a bit when I could - I was just SO SICK OF BEING OUT ON THIS COURSE.
I thought I knew where the course was going, but then we somehow ended up on a trail I had never been on out here. It seemed like it wouldn't be that bad, but then we had another grueling climb around 11.5 miles in. FINALLY we got to the intersection where we had originally gone down to the first aid station and I really did know that it was actually all downhill from here. Finally. I had absolutely nothing left, so what I did was a pathetic run at best. Thankfully, the course "only" measured 13.25, and not the rumored 13.5. SO HAPPY TO BE DONE.

Garmin Time - 3:33:15
Garmin Distance - 13.26 miles
Elevation Gain - 3,090'
Official Time - 3:33:08
Overall Place - 108/127
Gender Place - 37/49
Mile 1 - 18:50
Mile 2 - 12:04
Mile 3 - 17:06
Mile 4 - 16:36
Mile 5 - 15:53
Mile 6 - 18:11
Mile 7 - 14:49
Mile 8 - 16:09
Mile 9 - 13:10
Mile 10 - 17:05
Mile 11 - 17:50
Mile 12 - 19:02
Mile 13 - 13:30
Mile 13.25 - 11:45
No, I did not place in my AG. I think I placed about 6th from last
Alison, Maureen and Me
Maureen and Alison were hanging out by the red barn waiting for me - apparently I took took too long, lol. We stayed for a few minutes - ERS was finally able to have food again! They didn't have a BBQ like usual, but they at least had beer and seltzers, which was nice. I even had a chocolate milk (for like the third time ever after a race).

Thoughts:
  • I really do/have liked this course. I did NOT like the course done in reverse, at all. Normally I enjoy myself at least most of the time, this race, I did not.
  • Medal is cute - not as big and blingy as years past, but I'm fine with toning it down a bit.
  • Shirt is cute, although I didn't get one. They usually sell them for $5 as an add on after the race, or I think you can pay extra at registration for one, but the last thing I need is more race shirts.
  • Will I run this again? Probably, I already gave my feedback on the course to the race director, and sounds like I was not alone in my thoughts!

Week in Review (October 5 - October 11)

Tuesday  (7,233 steps) - Work in the office. Rushed home after work to get my 45 minute Peloton ride in before I had to pick A up from pract...