Monday, June 18, 2012

Leadville Weekend

Stacey and I drove up to Leadville early Saturday morning for a weekend of car camping. We scored a massive tent from Target for just $60, so we can "camp" in comfort. This tent holds three queen sized mattresses, but we only brought one inflatable mattress. The tent and air mattress will allow us to spend weekends in the mountains more often without spending too much on hotels (it's hard to stay near Aspen, for example, for under $250/night). I even brought our coffee maker so I could get my fix Sunday morning.

 After setting up camp, I headed over to the Silver King course to get in a ride. Unfortunately, the Silver Rush course surprisingly had disappeared from my Garmin. (As an aside, when the course function on a Garmin works it is great for navigating trails -- I highly recommend experimenting with it by grabbing a route from Garmin Connect the next time you want to try a confusing new ride or run.) Not having a GPS file of the course was problematic because there are loads of old jeep roads outside of Leadville, remnants of the booming mining days no doubt, and these frequently forking roads offer ample opportunities for getting lost. Still, I know the first half of the route from having ridden there a few weeks back. At the end of the route, I just tooled around some dirt roads to get in more climbing. Overall I rode 40 miles in about 4:15 with over 5,000 feet of climbing, although my average speed was buttressed by a long, paved descent back to our campground. Ride:

Me on the hill at the start of the course. That sucker is steep!

Not far outside of town:

I find old mines very interesting, for some reason:

The next day Stacey and I ventured to a portion of the course I'd yet to see. Fortunately, right as we started our run two guys on mountain bikes road by and stopped to ask if they could help with directions. We ended up tagging along with them for over an hour as they showed us the route. Stacey and I really appreciated their helpfulness. Anyhow, I ended up jogging under 12 miles in 2:05 with a bit over 2,000 feet climbing. I felt great at the end of the run, and I'm happy that my very easy pace results in sub 11:00 miles even with climbing and the high elevation. Now to just do that run four times in a row! Run:

Looking down on town, which itself sits at 10K+ feet.

These guys were navigational life-savers.

This trail gave me a bout of acrophobia:

The view to the right of the above trail:

Watch your step! This filled in mine shaft was right in the middle of the trail!

Stacey and Ozzy posing with town in the background:

Looking uphill (which is much steeper than it looks)...

...and looking back down where I just came from:

Overall, Leadville is a great training place. There are a seemingly endless number of paths to explore in the mountains outside of town, and it's easy to lose track of time on a long run just checking out the views. Just don't drink the water!


An great old song from Modest Mouse, inspired from this video on Pitchfork.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How do I train for a 50 mile run?

First, Stacey updated "our" blog with photos from a recent camping trip outside of Steamboat. We hoped to summit Mt. Zirkel, but it turned out we were too early in the year (despite snow packs at just 2% of normal levels). Go here:

Next, this past weekend I went up to Kenosha Pass for some higher altitude mountain biking. Turns out this trail was a bit beyond my current skill-level. The trail was full of roots and rocks. After biting it pretty bad earlier in the week -- my arms and abdomen are just now becoming scab-free -- I wasn't taking any chances on descents or treacherous turns. Despite my slow going, I got in a descent work out, enhancing my handling skills on rough stuff, and reinforced my belief that riding 10,000 feet isn't too bad. My ability to climb quickly will hopefully make up for my otherwise tentative riding.

Even the parking lots is pretty (typical cloudy Colorado day):

That path guides me down into the right side of the valley and then up into those mountains:

Unfortunately, most of the trail was much tougher than this:

Moving on to the topic of this post, "How do I train for a 50 mile run?", I find myself second guessing the balance I've struck between consistent training and doing longs runs that come at all close to the event's actual demands. I've done a 3.5 hour long run each of the past few weeks, and lately I've been getting in around 4,000 feet of climbing but covering not even 20 miles. I'm tired toward the end of these runs, but I could do more if needed. Given that I'll be running 9-10 hours to cover nearly 50 miles with 7,000+ feet of elevation gain during the run, I wonder if my long runs are adequate. I contemplate attempting a 5 hour run and shooting for 30 mountainous miles. That'd take me close to 2/3 of the event, bolstering my confidence.

But, what would that run cost? I don't want to injure myself, and I don't want to be unable to get in another training bout for several days. Right now, I need a day off after my long run, and I usually have to take the following day very easy, too. Adding 1.5 hours onto already strenuous run may detract too much from bike training that I also need.

At this point, I've settled on this compromise: I'll do the training that sounds fun. If I feel the urge to run 5 hours, I will. If not, I won't. While this may not be ideal for my time during the Silver King, at least I'm having fun during the preparation. I guess this year will be an experiment, and perhaps next year I'll take a stab at training to race instead of merely completing the event(s).

5 hours is tempting with these views (this one being near the top of Belcher hill following a nearly 5 mile, 2,000 foot climb to kick the run off):

Easy going:

I turned a switch back and almost ran smack into this guy. We were just 5 feet apart staring at each other for a moment before he bolted.

Check out the Garmin file here: You may notice regular HR and pace drops. These are the 1 minute walk breaks I take every 5 minutes. My body is not ready a 50 mile continuous run, at least not yet. I'm planning to complete the event in the same fashion -- 5 minutes running, 1 minute walking.
 So far I'm digging the new album Heaven by The Walkmen: