May Rewind

Miles Run - 132.72
Races Run - 5 (3 half marathons, 2 marathons)
PR's Set - Zero. Although I ran 2 of my slowest marathons.
Minutes of Plank - 84 (Missed LOTS of days)


Racing is helping me keep a good base. I am having a lot of trouble getting regular miles in during the week. Transitioning back to full time work is taking a toll on me. I really want to get back into "ultra" training mode.


Next race is my Inca Trail marathon. I leave tomorrow for Peru and the race is on the 6th. I put down my initial deposit back in August, 2010. I am ridiculously excited.


Also, I have been putting on some weight lately. I know it is from not changing my eating, but having my miles pretty much cut in half. Cutting out excess and sugars. I think maybe it is helping, I just need to be more consistent.

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday


Tonight we ran two miles together at the Runners Roost group run. Tomorrow, she is leaving after her graduation for five weeks to visit her dad. Sad face.

CSA Opening, Karma, and Bok Choy Salad

Despite my healthy UU skepticism, there are times when I feel like there is karmic justice in the universe.

This is the third year we've been members of a CSA, and I feel like that this year I may have finally gotten it right.  The first year, we had a full share of (read: way too much) high-quality organic produce from a lovely farm that was also too far away for us to take advantage of the additional pick-your-own perks (e.g. we missed out the week they allowed members to pick ten quarts of strawberries each).  I was newly pregnant and anxious about it, and have not-too-fond memories of eating too much lettuce for lunch, and really wanting to toss my proverbial cookies, but not wanting my co-workers to find out that I was expecting.

Last year I was freshly unemployed, and was dealing with an infant who refused to nap, and a much more reasonable half share from more local farm that unfortunately insisted on giving us poor quality (and even rotten) produce, week after week.  I lost energy after a while because I couldn't stand the disappointment of bug-infested lettuce, worm-eaten squash, and rotten melons, on top of sleep deprivation.

This year, we have a half share (which I think is the right amount for a family with one young child, one picky todder, one carnivore, and one mostly-vegetarian) at a local farm whose owners I already love.  When we went to the farm for the open house/orientation on Saturday, I felt like I'd been invited over for mint lemonade.  We strolled through the fields and saw a large variety of beautiful-looking produce, got a tour of the greenhouse, talked about their farming practices and recent organic certification, and got a "practice" (free) pickup to take home, just because some of the veggies were ready.  We have a pickup day that will allow me to grocery shop partway through the week's share, and I have promised myself that I will try to be less stressed out about figuring out the entire week's menu by pickup time; I can let the share "speak to me" (and go rummaging around my refrigerator and the internet).  Even with a mound of greens confronting me, I went home and made kale chips and salads for our Memorial Day barbecue, and was reminded of why I love summer so much.

And--this is the amazing karma part--I *won* the half share.

We'd already signed up and paid for the summer on the recommendation of a friend, back in February, and I was feeling a little guilty about the expense, given the two less-than-fabulous experiences we'd had, especially since I'm still not working.  In March, the farm sponsored a raffle via Facebook, offering a half share to people who were willing to re-post the call for members on their own pages.  Being a believer in local eating, it was a no-brainer; I would have done it even if there weren't a raffle.  Months went by, and I forgot about the contest.  Until late last week, when I got an email letting me know that I'd won.

Would you believe me when I said I started jumping up and down, squealing with delight?

It couldn't have been better timing.  (Did I mention that we just found out we need an entirely new central A/C unit -- goodbye $4K, and that I lost my diamond from my engagement ring, and that we had a shampoo cap drop down the drain to the tune of $200 ...)

With apologies to my lovely readers from the southern hemisphere, for whom this will be all backwards, I present: the first CSA salad of the season.  It's not Perfect Moment Monday, but it sure feels like it.  I'm giving thanks for this bounty already.

Bok Choy Salad
The original recipe from the MACSAC cookbook Asparagus to Zucchini suggests that you salt the vegetables, let them sit for half an hour, and squeeze them dry.  I omitted that step, changed some things around, and it worked out just fine.  I've never used bok choy in a raw salad before, and it was a refreshing change.

1 bunch bok choy, sliced (leaves separately from stems if you have larger bok choy)
1 c. kolhrabi or daikon radish (both peeled and shredded)
1/2 c. red pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 c. thinly sliced green onion
2 t. chopped cilantro
2 t. chopped mint 
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3 T. rice vinegar
2 t. honey (or agave)
1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted

Toss together the vegetables and herbs.  Stir together rice vinegar, honey, and slivered almonds.  Pour dressing over salad, toss to coat.  Add slivered almonds and serve.

Tour de Yale!

 So there I was, wilting in the early afternoon sun after many hours of running, 2/3 of the way up a climb that would take me from 9,000' to 12,000'.  Powerhiking was draining me; running was out of the question.

Where was I?  If you guessed Hope Pass, not quite.  However, if you guessed Hope Pass, then you might want to read on and give this loop a shot yourself some day.

Tour de Yale
Silver Creek TH -> Mt. Yale summit via NW Ridge -> Denny Creek TH via SW Slopes (standard route) -> Avalanche Gulch TH via Cottonwood Pass Rd -> Silver Creek TH via Colorado Trail
  • 24.5 miles
  • 7,570' vertical
  • Start 7:01 AM
  • End 2:51 PM
  • 7 hours 50 minutes

I hatched the idea of doing a circle tour of Yale a few weeks ago, when Cale and I wandered up the lower portion of Yale's East Ridge route.  I liked what I saw; the trail was mellow enough to run and very scenic.  I did a little research and realized that I could link up a few trails to create a fat loop that would essentially circumnavigate the entirety of the Yale massif.  En route, I would be able to hit at least portions of every feasible route on Yale.  In addition, I would also get a chance to go through each of the four trailheads that service this Collegiate Peak.  Seemed to me a perfect mix of adventure, training, and challenge, and on May 27th, I made a go for it.  My primary goal was to circumnavigate the peak, but I would summit if the opportunity presented itself.


First part of the day - up Cottonwood Creek to Kroenke Lake (where the red line disappears in the upper left)

Early morning on the road between Silver Creek TH and North Cottonwood TH.

The North Cottonwood/Horn Fork TH serves mostly those looking to climb Mt. Harvard and Mt. Columbia via their standard routes.  However, it also provides access to Mt. Yale from Kroenke Lake to the northwest.

The trail along North Cottonwood Creek is in great shape.

Bridge across N. Cottonwood Creek.

Trail splits - to the right is the trail into Horn Fork Basin.  To the left is Kroenke Lake.  About a mile up the trail I ran into a guy who had mistakenly turned left instead of right here.

There are a couple of smaller crossings over North Cottonwood Creek.

Kroenke Lake(~11,500') - definitely worth coming back to.  There was one tent up there when I passed.  Doesn't seem like there are nearly as many alpine lakes in the Sawatch as the other ranges.

Beautiful trail alongside Kroenke Lake as I continued south toward Browns Pass (background)

Looking back north toward Kroenke Lake as I began the climb to Browns Pass

The NW ridge of Mt. Yale, with the summit poking out in the far center.

After some bushwhacking due to the trail being snowed in, I came upon a pretty cool (frozen, even!) alpine pond at 12,200'.

Harvard(L) and Columbia(R) in the background.
Second part of the day; up Yale's NW ridge, summit, then descend via the SW slopes.

Most of Yale's northwest ridge.  It's fairly gentle, never exceeding class 2.  I had originally planned on just climbing Browns Pass and dropping into the Denny Creek drainage, but I felt pretty good and the ridge didn't look too formidable, so I went for it.  This did, however, put me a good mile west of where I would have otherwise gained the ridge.

The view of the remaining route from 13,600'.  I had gained about 1,200' in the preceding mile.

Summit.  It was windy enough to hinder one's enjoyment of the surroundings, so I didn't stay long.

I was able to make really good time on the really good trail.  I saw a total of maybe 50 people on the day; 45 or so of them were on Yale's standard route.

A mellow portion of the descent

Grove

Although it held a slight decline in elevation, I still found the 3 mile stretch of road from Denny Creek to Avalanche Gulch to be one of the more challenging parts of the day.  It was hot, I was tired, and I still had a big climb coming up.
Down the road, up the trail.

17.5 miles

I took a break at the base of the trail to refuel.

A quick glimpse at "Mascot Peak", a 13,400ish' sub-peak of Yale.

Starting the last climb of the day; in the valley is the road I had come from.


Old deadfall at 10,500'.

More deadfall.  I felt here as if I could dead-fall as well.

Lots of recent deadfall throughout the Sawatch.  The size of the trees that got blown down by wind this past winter/spring is crazy.

At the high point of this section of the Colorado Trail, 12,100 or so.  Getting ready to drop back down the other side.

A harbinger of things to come - some pretty substantial drifts met me right away.  Bummer; there was no snow whatsoever on the south side of the mountain!

Deadfall dodging + postholing /= fun.  Over 20 miles in and only 4 to go, though!

The only real creek crossing on the last stretch.

Four-star lodging at 10,500'.

!!!

A peak down toward the Arkansas River Valley.

By now, I was absolutely exhausted.  The last half-mile and the lack of +/- was much appreciated - each of the previous two miles coming off the low point of Yale's ridge had dropped over 1,000'.  Real quad-busters.

To the ultra-crowd:  highly recommended run.  If you're not looking to get in quite as much scrambling and rock-hopping, you could do this loop with Browns Pass instead of Yale's summit.  That would likely put it at more like 21 miles and 5,500' climbing.  I would recommend doing it either way if you're not planning on hitting Yale's summit.  However, descending via Denny Creek allows you to maximize your running mileage.  Done in the other direction, you would have to be much more careful with your footing on the descent.

To hikers:  after getting a chance to soak in Yale from all directions, I would recommend this:  do something other than the standard route!  The northwest ridge from the North Cottonwood TH is doable as a day-trip and fairly straightforward.  The trail to Kroenke Lake is beautiful and in good shape.  The ridge itself doesn't have a trail, but it is scree-free.  If you choose to do the east ridge, I would recommend coming from Avalanche Gulch and not Silver Creek.  Silver Creek has a couple of rather unpleasant miles of trail - exposed to sun, kind of steep, just a trail on the side of a hill.  Avalanche Gulch's approach is much more scenic.


Wyoming Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, May 27
Marathon #9
State #4
Laramie, WY
Weather - Extremely windy, chilly, sunny

Normally I would input the race's logo here. This race does not have one. That should give you a bit of insight into the Wyoming Marathon. Anyway. Rewind.

Last year, I registered for the Edinburgh marathon in Scotland. About 4 months ago, I decided I would have to back out of the race because airfare NEVER got any cheaper. So, originally, I had been planning on running THAT race over Memorial Day weekend. As time went on, I was pretty hesitant to add another race to my schedule - what with the high miles I put in training for Moab, and then the blah and lack of training AFTER Moab. However. Grand Valley had gone pretty well, and I wanted some last minute training (altitude and hills) for the Incan Trail marathon... which is only a few weeks away! So I registered for this race only TEN days in advance. Madness.

When I first started talking about this race, L and Ruth were thinking of coming (to run the half). L ended up not being able to get a babysitter and Ruth forgot to register before online registration closed. So I was headed to Laramie to race alone. J offered to come up with A, so we headed out about 7:30 the night before. Even on the drive up it was impossible to miss how WINDY the drive was, especially along I80 - which is where a lot of the course would shadow. We checked into our hotel around 10:30 pm. I pretty much went to bed right away. With a 6 am start time and needing to get my packet still, 4:50 was the wake up time.

Race Day


Apparently I was the only one that slept well. The wind was very loud all night and J and Chopper were up most of the night. Sorry! I had to pack up all my stuff since I wouldn't have time to come back before check out. We headed out the door at 5:15 for the 15 minute drive to the rest area where the race was headquartered. Yes. You heard me right. Rest area. As in, right off the highway.

We pulled in by the rest area where I assumed packets would be. They weren't there and I was told they were at the start line - which was about a 1/4 mile up the hill. J drove me up there, and I waited in line. At the camper (you can see it in the far right of my start line picture). I got my bib and my t-shirt (apparently they use the exact same shirt and medal every year - for $40 I cannot complain).

I then had J drive me back to the bathroom so I could use the REAL bathrooms and fill the bladder of my hydration vest. By the time I was done with that and J took me back to the start line, it was literally less than 5 minutes to the start line. I got out of the car, headed to the back of the pack.

Start Line - This is a all the 1/2, full, and double full marathon runners
There was no gun, there was a flour line in the dirt where we started. I'll go ahead and post the elevation profile now so you can see what I'm talking about:


I was expecting a fairly "easy" first half and a horrible/awful/no good/very bad second half. I didn't want to tire myself out, and the wind was HORRIFYINGLY cold. 95% of the time I run in a tank and skirt. For this race I was wearing my Marathon Maniacs t-shirt, Asics arm sleeves AND an Under Armour jacket. Not to mention ear warmers and gloves. I was still just wearing a Lululemon skirt though. I did comment more than once that I almost wished I had worn pants. Just to give some perspective, it was really THAT cold. The aid stations were supposedly every four miles apart. I wanted to run the whole first half (minus aid stations). If it wouldn't have been so damn windy, I would have enjoyed the course more.



The first aid station was just over 4 miles in. There was no gatorade. There WAS gatorade powder. Having never made my own gatorade, I asked the volunteer how much I should use for my 8 oz handheld. I was told "not that much." I didn't want to spend a whole lot of time on it, so I think I ended up making it too weak. I grabbed a handful of M&Ms and headed out.

First aid station!

Aspen trees
I'll try to keep my complaining about the cold and the wind to a minimum. The first four miles had gone really well. About mile 5.5, there was a decent sized hill, and I walked for the first time. So did just about everyone else. We also had left the "protection" of the trees. We had entered an area that was WIDE open, and the wind was coming from pretty much every angle. Or so it felt. Except from the back. I have never experienced such crazy wind! Rumor has it that over the course of the morning, gusts were averaging mid 30s and peaked in the low 70s. I don't know that for sure, but I believe it. The half marathon turn around was not an aid station, just a small gallon of water and a trash bag. I dumped my GU trash and headed out.

The next three miles were on the paved frontage road of I80.


This was the second best feeling part of the race for me, and I ran the entire section from roughly mile 7-10. Aid stations were supposed to be 4 miles apart, so I kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting... Finally when we turned off the paved road at mile TEN, there was an aid station. I asked if there were any bathrooms on the course. Volunteer says no. Uh. That is really sucky. An entire marathon with NO bathrooms? Made my gatorade, took some M&Ms and headed out - just in time for the lead marathon runner to be heading past. 10K ahead of me. Ha.

This section was back on dirt roads. Another mile in and I can't hold it anymore. I find a rock... We are running through another tree/rocky area. There are a lot of people camping. The wind actually seems to be at my back, and with the slight downhill, I'm feeling pretty good at this point. I finally warm up a bit and take off my jacket around mile 12.4 and tie it around my waist. Leave on the sleeves and gloves though. Hurrah to be at the halfway point!

Marathon turn around
Same deal with gatorade and candy, then head back, after putting my jacket into my hydration vest. Already leaving the aid station, and I come across the first hill of the second half:


As you could see from the elevation profile, the entire second half is uphill (except about a 1-1.5 mile section between maybe mile 19.5 and 21). The course was REALLY pretty. But again, the WIND made it really hard to enjoy. I walked a TON the second half. In addition to the inclines, it is really difficult to run against the wind. It's also hard to breathe at 8000+ elevation in extreme wind. So I did some sort of run walk (with more jogging and walking than running) and took a lot of pictures.





My the time I got to mile 15, the two miles of hills had already taken a toll on me. I was exhausted. Middle aid station and I filled up and headed back to the three miles of paved roads. This section the wind was coming from the north (and we were running west?). To describe how windy it was - while I was running, my leg that was off the ground would get pushed by the wind into my leg that was on the ground, nearly knocking me down. Just messing with my form so I didn't trip myself took a TON of energy. I ran probably 1/2 of this section overall. I passed a few people, but I wasn't really feeling good. Had there been no wind, this section would have been cake. Cross back under I80 and head into last 6.55 of the course. Half marathon turnaround is gone, and I get to enjoy the ONLY downhill section of the second half.




My best guess was that the last four miles would be the worst. Around mile 21.5 I finally warmed up a bit and took off my sleeves, gloves and ear warmers and put them in my bag. Almost everyone was walking these sections of the course. I had a mini goal of going sub 5:30 on this course, so I still tried to run sections when possible. Even "speed walking" against the wind and I was getting close to 18 minute miles (normally should be 14-15 minute miles). Chatted with some Marathon Maniacs about this years New Years Double and then I took off. Just over 3 miles to go in 45 minutes... I'd have to run some of it. Took more pictures too.




Hills at the end of the course are the worst.
Giant hill - 1 mile to go

Giant hill - 1/2 mile to go
With a half mile to go, I have 10 minutes to meet my time goal. I am still walking and I don't care. I have had enough of the wind. My shoes are full of gravel/dirt and the hills are SO HARD to walk. In addition to the wind, the road is very graded, so it is not even flat to run on. I should have taken a picture of the last hill leading up to the finish line... but I was over it. I jogged the last... 50 feet maybe and ran through the "chute." First race ever where there were no bananas. There were packaged muffins, danish and cinnamon rolls. Even better. I grabbed a cinnamon roll and a gatorade and headed immediately to the car.

Crossing the line - A is right behind me (notice the volunteer in ski hat & jacket)
Holy. Crap.

Bib #158
Official Time - 5:27:53
Overall Place - 43/76
Gender Place - 15/29
Garmin Time - 5:27:39
Garmin Distance - 26.14 miles
Garmin Pace - 12:32
Mile 1 - 10:43
Mile 2 - 10:38
Mile 3 - 10:53
Mile 4 - 10:57
Mile 5 - 12:39
Mile 6 - 14:05
Mile 7 - 14:12
Mile 8 - 10:46
Mile 9 - 10:31
Mile 10 - 11:32
Mile 11 - 12:22 ("bathroom")
Mile 12 - 10:39
Mile 13 - 10:17
Mile 14 - 15:26
Mile 15 - 13:48
Mile 16 - 14:37
Mile 17 - 14:20
Mile 18 - 11:42
Mile 19 - 12:38
Mile 20 - 12:04
Mile 21 - 10:51
Mile 22 - 13:41
Mile 23 - 13:54
Mile 24 - 13:43
Mile 25 - 14:00
Mile 26 - 14:34
Mile 25.14 - 16:10 (haaaaaaa)



Post race pictures by the super awesome Lincoln Memorial. (This is a REST AREA...)

Lincoln Monument 

Then I immediately went to the bathroom and changed into my Aspaeris magic pants and street clothes. No time to shower. Again. Then we headed back down to Denver, stopping at Wendy's for lunch. I had a baconator. A double baconator. The "double" was not intentional, I think the guy was new and just screwed up. Anyway. Thoughts on this race.

Bad:

  • Their website is hosted by Angelfire. Lots of pop up ads and some browsers will not even open the site.
  • Very little information on their page.
  • Misleading that aid stations are 4 miles apart. 4 to 10 is NOT 4 miles, no matter what type of math you are doing.
  • THE DAMN WIND. Apparently it is ALWAYS windy for this, so keep that in mind. Also, wear more than you think you should. This wind is "take your breath away, chill you to the bone" cold at times.
Good:
  • One of the least expensive races I've ever run. Everything I needed at an aid station, plus extras (like chips and candy and granola bars that you normally wouldn't see unless you were running an ultra).
  • "Green" - no cups, no litter
  • Ok shirt, unique medal
  • Beautiful GORGEOUS scenery.
  • Challenging terrain. Yes, I list this as a "good" part of the course.
By no stretch of the imagination was this an easy course. Since I had no real goals going into it, I was not disappointed. Just wish it wouldn't have been so windy! (How many times did I mention wind even though I said I wouldn't??)