Sunday, April 3, 2011

April 02, 2011 – Elden Up Over & Back from Buffalo Park

As I roll out of bed before sunrise… stumble down the stairs.. and hobble my over to my running gear, I am reminded that I have had pretty big week of running.  Probably the best week of training that I have had since last November.  On Monday, I ran a 10miler which included a 10x1min Fartlek on the somewhat technical & hilly Soldier Pass Trail.  Wednesday, I ran a Hill Circuit at Buffalo Park that leaves you sore no matter what shape you are in.. Both workout went VERY well, but now I am wondering if I can pull off the elusive 3 quality workouts / runs in one week.. in a few hours I will know.

Route: The route planned for the day was a very challenging one that I haven’t done in about 18months.  I would start at Buffalo Park run to the Pipeline Trail.  Then hop on the Pipeline Trail, which is quite rolling, to Forces of Nature Trail.  This trail is a rocky, winding single track, which connects me to Fat Man’s Loop.  The footing is about the same on Fat Man’s.  I would then run to Elden Lookout Trail, which takes me to the Summit of Elden.  From the Summit, I will head down Elden Road to the Gate, where I have water & gel waiting for me.  At that point, I turn around.. and do it again in reverse.  All in all, this run includes ~5,500 of climbing and  ~5,500 of descent… and covers about 28miles.  The trails range from super technical to smooth dirt road.  A great mix…. and a tough day of running.

I started my run around 6:40am at Buffalo Park.  As soon as I got going, I had made the decision to run hard early and see how long I could hold on.  I figure this will help prepare me for the Grand Canyon Single Crossing in May, where I hope to employ the same strategy.  I figure that is my best chance at not only getting the record, but squeaking a “victory” over Jared Scott who is an animal on the S.Kaibab climb out of the Canyon.

On this day, I also decided to wear an iPod.  I have NEVER worn one running before, but I estimated that I would be running for 4hrs and I thought it might help keep my mind busy.  In all honesty, I have always been “anti-iPod” when running, but one of my buddies Andrew Lemoncello, a 2008 Olympian wears them on some of his long runs, so I thought.. “hey, if an Olympian puts them on occasionally, why can’t I”… By the end, I had decided that I actually liked it for a change.. I won’t wear it on every run, but it will be nice to mix in occasionally.

Back to the run….

I rocked the 5miles over to Elden Summit Trail in 36:50.  Now it’s time for probably the toughest part of the run.. the Elden Summit climb.. I ended up covering that portion of the run in 36:54.  If not for the all the snow and ice covering the final 400m I would have been several minutes faster..

Now time to run down the road.  Pushing through the Mega-Wind at the top, I cruised the downhill pretty steady and got to the gate in 37:24… and reached the half-way mark in 1:51:10.  That was a lot faster than I expected to run, but since I had put so much effort into the front half, I wondered if I would be able to sustain over the second half.. only one way to find out.. get to runnin’!!

I started my way back up Elden Road and I could definitely feel a little bit of tiredness.  I focused on finding a good groove.. and before I knew it, I was at the top of Elden again.. my time up the road was 48:20… not bad at all.

As I braved the snow and ice.. falling about every 3 to 4 steps… down Elden Lookout, I started thinking I should easily go under 4 hours.. maybe even under 3hr 50min.. just need to keep moving.  I hit Fat Man’s Loop from Elden Lookout in 29:21…

Now the homestretch..

As I am pushing my way over the rocking portions of Fat Man’s, I am starting to feel the accumulation of a tough day.  I keep telling my self.. only 30min.. only 20min.. etc..

I am still hoping to get under 3hrs 50min as I get back of Buffalo Park.  I can see on my watch that it’s going to be close.. with about 300m to go, I begin to really open my stride.. with 200m left, I break into 5k race pace.. with 100m, I go into full-blown, Carl Lewis, open-hand sprint… and finish the day in 3hrs 49min 26 (finally split from Elden Lookout = 40:34)

What a confidence builder!!.. After a rough couple months, I finally feel good about the direction I am headed.. I have another tough week next week.. so I just need to keep consistent.. and listen to my body… and run.

 The Peaks from the top of Elden

Top of the Elden Lookout Trail - Snowy & Gnarly

The view going down Elden Lookout Trail

The view going up Elden Lookout Trail

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