RTW Ruminations: Feb 23 – Mar 103/06/2015
Mon – Gold Hill+Cherryvale Loop (5:23, 41mi, 3500′)
If I was going to do Transgrancanaria, I needed a long run. The peaks were entirely encased in a thick, pillowy schwack of snow, so for consistent running purposes I had to stick to the roads. Running the 3000’+ and 10mi up Sunshine Canyon to Gold Hill I gradually rose above the chilly layer of clouds down in town and when I turned onto the downhill grade of Four Mile Canyon my pace quickly accelerated into the low- to mid-6min/mile range. Back in Boulder Canyon I was stymied by snow for the couple of miles back to town on the Creek Path, but my legs welcomed the break from the quick turnover.
After the exactly 22mi loop, I stopped off back at my apartment for a gel, some water, and a quick change into road shoes, shorts, and a t-shirt (for the Gold Hill Loop I’d been in long tights, wind shell, and lugged shoes for the snowy roads) since the mid-day sun was brilliant and warm. The second half of the run was a virtually pancake-flat 20mi loop on bike paths out to Cherryvale and Marshall Roads before winding back to town on more bike paths. Boulder’s bike paths are usually the driest, first-plowed surfaces in town, so the footing was generally good. While my energy was steady, the unchanging mechanics of continuous running eventually caught up to me and my legs eventually settled into a low- to mid-7min/mile pace for the remainder of the run. Thankfully, I never felt a peep from my shin; the real results will be in how it feels in the coming days.
This run was fun. I do enjoy running. Sometimes—amidst all the joys and rewards of scrambling, climbing, and skiing—its easy for me to forget the sheer kinesthetic pleasure of clicking along at a steady pace, covering ground quickly and efficiently. Growing up in the more mellow topography of Nebraska it was certainly the most apt, logical form of athletic communion with the landscape for me at the time, and that deep-seated relationship—20 years now!—will never go away.
Tue – Allenspark Skiing (3:46, 6000′)
I was definitely tired on today’s three laps—and tight and sore through my calves—but at a low intensity and with a couple fresh inches of powder, this was some great active recovery.
Wed – Allenspark Skiing (3:25, 6000′) + Climbing Gym
I caught a ride up the hill with Jed Brown—an acquaintance of Joe’s who lives just down the street—and after we collected Joe in Gold Hill, we all rallied to the mountain for some exercise. Jed is the same age as Joe and I and turns out to be an impressive renaissance man. We share undergraduate Physics degrees, the difference being that this was apparently his calling. (Whereas for me, it was accomplished only through sheer force of will; my current relationship with partial differential equations is to stay as far away from them as possible. Conversely, Jed willingly computes them for a living.) He just recently accepted a tenure-track faculty position at CU in Computer Science. Additionally, he was a best-of-the-best NCAA Nordic skier and is a very, very accomplished alpinist, including several expeditions to the greater ranges. This is his first year racing skimo in Colorado, but he’s already certainly one of the top guys in the state.
Jed’s chops on the planks were immediately apparent as he rocketed down the trivial opening gradient that descends to the base of the climb, whereas I proceeded to tip over. Seriously. Despite my still-tired legs from Monday, I caught up to he and Joe two-thirds of the way up the hill in increasingly heavy-falling snow. It just takes a while for my ol’ pins to get warmed up when I’m training hard. Over the course of the three laps, we all kind of went our separate ways, seeking out different lines on the mountain, but overall it was a great outing. The drive home was a bit adventurous with the nascent storm.
Thu – Green Mt (2:23, 3000′)
This (winter, the snow) is starting to get a little crazy, actually. Apparently the hard snow continued overnight, because when I woke this morning there was well over a foot of fresh powder covering everything. This time the streets were in such bad shape that I was utilizing trekking poles just to get to Baseline, and things were an unavoidable slog once actually on the mountain. I caught up to my buddy Jeff Valliere about half-way up the hill and had a good time plowing through the snow in tandem, catching up on each others’ lives. It’s pretty wild how in the first half of the month we were breaking heat records and two short weeks later this is now the snowiest/wettest February on record for Boulder. Personally, I enjoy the variety.
This morning I had a Skype interview with the German branch of Men’s Fitness magazine. I’m at a point where I semi-dread interviews—they’re typically numbingly banal; I know this makes me sound ungrateful, and I sometimes worry that I actually am—but this one turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I’ll admit I went in with some preconceptions about the publication, but I found our conversation to be engaging, in-depth, and the interviewer to be far more perceptive than most. Given that it was initiated by a surprise 6:15am text (they got the time-zone conversion off), it ended up being a nice kickstart to the day rather than a frustrating one.
Fri – Poorman Loop (1:33, 1200′) + Climbing Gym
I thought maybe I’d run up to Gold Hill again today, but my legs ended up being quite tired, so it was an easy decision to just jog down the Poorman-to-Four Mile cut-off. This was a bit of a mistake, though, as the Boulder Canyon creek path was nearly hip-deep in snow. I post-holed for a while before tentatively jumping onto the highway and running back down to town. Not much traffic, though.
In the evening, Joe and I went to the gym, just trying to maximize our month passes before being out of town for the next two weeks. We were both busy getting ready for our trip, though, so we dove into the post-5pm zoo there with everyone else.
Sat – Green Mt (2:03, 3000′)
After running up to the base of Green this morning I was delighted to encounter the highest quality “trench” I’ve seen on the hill in many years. When it comes to winter running on a popular peak, a perfectly packed out trail trench is the holy grail. It basically means predictable, cushioned footing with all of the trail’s usual inconsistencies and techiness completely smoothed out. Late December 2011 is the last time I remember seeing similar conditions, but with today’s weekend crowds there was no way I was going to go for a descent PR.
Sun – Green Mt (1:54, 3000′)
A nice early tag of the peak this morning afforded fantastic inversion views from the summit. With yesterday’s traffic, the trail was in even better shape (hence the faster time) and I didn’t see anyone else out. It’s a bit of a shame that it takes catching an international flight to motivate me to get out this early, but I definitely enjoy lingering over coffee and a book pre-run most of the time.
The rest of the day was the typical air travel survival. On the connector to Dallas I was squeezed between two Harvard Business School bros both reading the same journal article entitled something like “Catastrophic Risk Assessment Finance”, but my actual overseas/overnight flight was about as good as it gets in Iberia coach, i.e. aisle seat, no immediate neighbor to my left, reasonable view of the television screen. Whiplash was the movie—one I’ve been eagerly awaiting—and it was every bit as good as I’d hoped.
I’m not necessarily super turned-on by the tunes, but the overall exuberance, quirkiness, and sheer unfiltered-ness (ironic, given the effects he uses on his voice) of his performance can’t help but bring a smile to your face.