|Rocky Mountain heaven|
To get the ball rolling, my fellow runner and friend Antoinette Lucas of Harrisonburg, VA and I had a couple of runs outside of Edwards on Thursday and Friday up the June Creek Road (8 and 6 milers). Her mother, Mary Lamb, lives near Edwards and was a gracious host -- thank you, Mary Lamb! Speaking for myself, the starting elevation of 7,500' had me "gaspin' in the aspen" just in the first mile of these runs. Not an auspicious start :-( Friday night, we drove the Top of the Rockies Highway down to the town of Leadville (10,200'). Leadville is this cool ole' mining town with a bit of dirt under the fingernails; for all intents and purposes, the antithesis of Vail, say.
On Saturday, we did a big 26 mile run on the Leadville 100 course from Turquoise Lake over to Twin Lakes. Honestly, there were two big climbs but nothing particularly daunting given all the hill work and running I have been doing on the Laurel Highlands Trail lately! On Sugarloaf Pass, we encountered occasional snow drifts we had to pick our way through but this added to the Rocky Mountain ambiance. Antoinette is a real strong runner and did a great job running our "unofficial" marathon -- yahoo!!!
|Antoinette and I putting our trail faces on!|
At this point, I was really glad I came out and ran sections of the course for a few reasons. First, I was surprised by how runnable the course was. It wasn't as rocky and rooty as I thought it would be. Second, I was surprised by the amount of blacktop/dirt roads. In fact, I have decided to not use my Brooks Cascadia trail shoes for the race and to opt instead for my road shoes. Accordingly, I just bought two new pair of Brooks Launches and will make sure they are plenty broken-in by race day.
|Read 'em and weep!|
Unfortunately, Antoinette caught a 24-hour flu bug that night so I headed out on Sunday by myself. All the runners in Leadville attending the training camp that weekend headed down to the southern terminus of the course and ran up to the top of Hope Pass. There was so much snow up on the pass that one couldn't go any further so I had to turn back. Frankly, this climb was a bitch (almost 3,000' elevation gain) and crossed several steep sections of scree/talus along with a semi-risky snowfield where one slip would send you on an unplanned (and unpleasant) glissade :-(
On the way back, I hammered it because downhill running is my obvious weakness and I needed to get over any mental angst I had about it. Happily, I had no problems. Then, when I got out on some flat stuff, I held about a 3:15 marathon pace for several miles. Definitely, I was sucking wind but it was uncomfortably comfortable (if that makes sense). All told, I'd say I ran a bit over 13 miles this day. Of course, the scenery was crazy spectacular and I felt very fortunate to be able to be out running ... and that be the Truth! Frankly, this day reminded me of all the years I lived in Montana. At heart, I STILL am a Child of the Rockies and I made sure to "kiss the mountains" for several good friends of mine (you know who you are!).
|Above Turquoise Lake on Sugarloaf Pass.|
Sunday night, Antoinette and I decided to head back down to Edwards. On Monday, I did about 12 miles on June Creek again ... a nice, easy base run with about 5,000' of elevation change. Later on, Antoinette , her mother and I went to Vail and did a stout 3.5 mile ascent/hike up the local Berry Picker Trail in what shaped up to be a glorious, glorious Colorado afternoon.
|Twin Lakes vista shrouded in quaking aspen.|
Mr. 24-Hour Flu Bug dropped by and paid me a visit later that night. Just brutal spending some quality time in somebody's bathroom keeled over like a shrimp. Suffice it to say the airplane flight back home early the next morning was, shall we say, unpleasant. When I got into Pittsburgh, I headed over to my friend Sarah's place, where we grabbed some dinner, and then I headed right back to Morgantown. Man, was I wiped!
So ... the big driver in all of this Leadville stuff will be the elevation. I certainly have some strong opinions about this matter as I have lately been combing through some peer-reviewed literature and thinking over my own experiences in years gone by. That will be the topic of a future post. All in all, I'd give the training trip out to Colorado a solid A. Well worth it! Traveling to a beautiful state with a good friend to get some top-notch running in ... what's not to like!
This weekend, the training game plan is to come over to Harrisonburg, Virginia and do the legendary Sophie's Death March over up in Whitetail Canyon on Saturday and Jeremy's Loop Run on Sunday. On July 4th, I am headed up to Pennsylvania to reconnect with my "soulmate" Ross Bricklemyer (aka Vast Horizon) as we plot and unleash some "Appalachian Trail Magic" on unsuspecting hikers. Bwahahaha ...