I had a heck of a time deciding what to do this weekend, as often happens in Colorado for me. Too much to choose from, and everything I do depends on weather. On Sunday looked like it would be decent for skiing (even though there's going to be another Monday powder day, and I don't have the day off - argh!) so that left Saturday.
The Pikes Peak FA sounded interesting, but it's a long way and I don't think I could handle a 26-mile mountain course right now.
Anyway, at the last minute on Saturday AM I decided to just run out the front door for a few hours, just going wherever. It was one of those days I just wanted to see what I had in me. Think of it as a shorter PPFA tribute run.
Distance was 18.15 miles, time 4:15, and elevation gain/loss 3,522 feet.
I basically ran from the northeast side of Green Mountain in Lakewood, over the mountain, over Dakota Ridge and to the Trading Post at Red Rocks, where I filled up my water bottle in the sink downstairs and headed back. Convenient... if you get there before 4 PM.
The snow was soft at mid-day. It was actually pretty good; soft enough for my tread to sink in, but not so wet that I was slipping a lot. Nonetheless, spikes made progress much quicker and surer once I put them on.
This is coming down the Jeep road on the west. Pace was decent in spite of the slop, at around 7:50, and I ran down the strips of snow to keep from getting muddy:
This is looking back at "Green" Mountain from Dakota Ridge at about mile 6. The mountain doesn't look very interesting does it? The interest is in the details.
If you follow the Dakota Ridge trail across the highway and into Red Rocks Park, there is a continuation of the trail on the right side of the road that's easy to miss. I got a photo this time. There are two small signs at the entrance:
On the way back, the sun came out and my clothes were a bit warm. This shot is from the elbow of a turn in the trail on Dakota Ridge, looking both up and down:
I hit this mile-and-a-quarter Jeep road on the way back at mile 12, and I was hurtin'. I walked a good part of it:
This reminds me of the Windows XP default background, only browner:
Coming back over the shadow side of the mountain, the snow had re-frozen, and I found myself running back over my own frozen footprints from noon.
During the last two miles of the run, my legs felt numb, if that makes sense. They just had no energy at all. It's almost like they weren't there. Except for twinges of shin pain, so I started walking; no shin splints, thanks. My muscles were just too tight and I didn't want to pull anything, so I stretched and walked a few hundred feet at a time until it went away. At least I got a nice sunset while I was taking it easy:
When I got back I was beat, and felt awful. Once again my stomach unilaterally used its primordial judgment and decided that my 4-hour fun run was a life-and-death escape from a saber-toothed tiger or something, and basically shut down, resulting in nausea. I was incredibly tired, to the point where I lay down a couple of times, partly to warm up. I took a shower, fixed some real food, and with that my system slowly came back to life after an uncomfortable hour, and the nausea subsided.
Bottom line is, my body is not used to this much distance on so little energy. I need to eat more beforehand, and do longer runs on a weekly basis, i.e. 10+ miles on weekdays when I'm able. Again, I have to say the shorter runs I did in December -- although better than nothing -- were just not enough.
This also confirms that eating real food during the run helps. The best thing, oddly enough, has turned out to be jerky, like this. It's in strange extruded sticks, but it's easily digestible, calms my stomach, and in the summer the salt also seems to help. I popped a few Clif Shot Bloks (my favorite of the carb energy items), but they just didn't seem to do the trick. I need ACTUAL FOOD, not some weird jelly.
I know, extruded meat from some huge factory... ew. What can I say, I'm equally if not more afraid to stop at a jerky stand run out of some dirty, beat-up VW van parked on a highway. If I find a good local jerky place, I'm there.
On the up side, I kept a decent cadence for most of the 4 hours, probably 150-160. It deteriorated during the last few miles, especially uphill, but I'm still pleased and it worked pretty well to keep my pace as fast as I'm capable of at this time. Moving pace (according to Garmin) was 12:29 over the 18 hilly miles; maybe a bit optimistic on the part of Garmin's calcuation engine, but not that far off.