There aren't many weekends that I can get in a good workout this year. Lean Horse and the week before and after are out, the same as Superior - that's 6 consecutive weeks. Yesterday was to be the last tough one until late September.
I went out to Hyland to run up and down the ski hill. The plan was something like 7 hours, 80+ times up, 24 miles. It was two days after my birthday and the three pounds of hamburger that went with it and the third anniversary of my mother's death, so I was in an unusual frame of mind (even for me). It was also the first humid day of summer - 70 degrees at 5 AM and a dewpoint of 65. Not the most auspicious day.
The parking lot was closed, so I had to park a long way away and lug my two gallons of fluid. On the way, I saw a coyote that completely ignored me. The way to the hill was roped off due to erosion problems and a construction project (digging a well), so I went around everything to make sure runners weren't banned completely. There were signs telling runners and hikers to help keep erosion down by varying their routes and not running on bare dirt; this had me running a sort of rhombus pattern, rather than straight up and down.
Last year, I had run there once, 30 times up and down in under 2 hours, the first time up with Julie Berg, who was completing her 60th (last) time up. I was thinking about all the rules of thumb people used, including Bob's "50 times in 5 hours on both Saturday and Sunday and you're ready for Leadville;" I'd see Bob about 3 hours later. He's finished Leadville more than a dozen times, but I don't think he does it any more.
The first 20 trips were fast and easy, though 50 minutes slower than last year. Was that a good thing or a bad thing? I'd see many people as the morning unfolded (Hi Carl!) and thought about how I always seem to run by myself, while other trail runners are always in packs. Some other generalizations came up: 1) They tend to live in or have grown up in small towns. 2) They drive SUV's or pick-ups or have their vehicles set up for carrying gear (bike racks, etc.) 3) They grew up camping, hiking, hunting and fishing. 4) They have someone adventurous in their background they look up to, whether an army ranger or a world traveller. None of those apply to me.
It started to rain. I ran some of this time with two adventure racers, one of whom is doing a multi-day event in Brazil in October. There were a few people out who were training for the Pike's Peak Marathon and they were all talking about some fast guy who's doing it who trains out at Hyland a lot (undoubtedly Joe Ziegenfuss). The second 20 hills were slower, but okay, and I was glad to have other people for a distraction.
When the rain stopped, the sun came out and it became very hot and steamy. There were toads everywhere (and one frog and one skink). Bees also came out and I got stung. The vultures I always see there didn't come out until my last hill. Workers got back to their drilling, so the air was full of diesel exhaust and loud clanging. Each hill became tougher. I'd started at 14 minutes per mile and was down to 21 after the 55th hill. Now I started playing mind games: do I really need to run 7 hours or would that be too much so close to the race? Wouldn't 20 miles and 70 hills be nice round numbers at which to quit? At hill 58, I took them one at a time. At hill 59, I stopped jogging at the top of the hill and slowed going downhill. Hill 60 was brutal.
17 miles, 60 hills, 5:16. Good enough.
5 days ago