Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mt. Falcon Hothouse Run

When people around the country run in conditions hotter than what we have here, I have little grounds for complaint about 75 degrees, sunshine and 15 percent humidity. I mean, really.

But after deciding to run instead of ski this morning when I got up (a bit too much earth showing in proportion to snow) I had in my mind to attempt 25-30 miles and maybe top my previous max of 27+. Didn't happen. Basically I shortchanged myself on water, and frankly I don't deal that well with being overheated, and my run never recovered.

This is somewhere on Parmalee (trail named after Parmalee Gulch, which is the valley below) on the west side of the park:

I finally got some macro shots of flowers that didn't suck. I made an effort to keep the camera farther than 4" which is the minimum. Then I cropped the photos.

The Mount Evans massif visible from the west side:

Pasque Flowers are next, which are a pale violet that always catches my eye. They were all over the place today, with blooms open this time (I guess they close at the end of the day when I usually run -- ha!):

After two hours, I had gone 10 miles and was on track for 30 in 6 hours (not that I ever maintain pace that long).

However, I made the mistake of heading downhill for several miles on less than 1/2 a bottle of water, in the warm sun. The downhill was OK, but the effort of the uphill quickly drained my water supply. I could have consumed an extra bottle during that section, but I did not bring extra, and it wiped me out. Live and learn.

Later on there was a brief infestation of downhill mountain bikers (3 of them, high-school?) in full-face helmets and shin guards. I saw them pedal off downhill at top speed around a disabled guy with a cane and a family with kids. No joke. Way to go, ***holes.

For those who are not familiar, that is totally not how you are supposed to ride on a multi-use trail with dogs, horses, kids and old folks (do I count myself?). These are not downhill bike courses, which are specially-designed and isolated trails (usually at ski areas) that usually don't have foot traffic and are one-way downhill.

Most other mountain bikers were supernaturally awesome today. Gives you a great feeling when the good will goes both ways on trail!

The tally after 13 miles was dehydration and a nascent blister. I filled up the bottles, this time taking two, and headed out again.

The shot below was from my second time around Parmalee. Earlier a couple on mountain bikes that I had passed two times saw me taking flower photos and mentioned there was a cactus (Prickly Pear I'm sure) with a pink bloom on this trail, but I never saw it. That was nice anyway. I've only seen yellow blooms before.

About 4 hours in I was seriously thinking "I'd rather be doing something else".

I ran out of water by the time I got to my car at 18.7 miles, and the plan was to go get water at the 25-cent per gallon water dispenser downhill in Indian Hills, but A) I didn't have a quarter and B) on closer inspection the blister on my right foot was larger than I thought, and rather irritating. And the lack of water had hammered me.

On several occasions now, I've set out intending to go longer, and bailed out at 4-5 hours. Part of it is hydration and nutrition (the latter was OK this time), but part of it is just not wanting to invest the time. But I'm going to wait until I hydrate correctly to make that call; if I can do that and keep from bonking for 6 hours, I might reconsider.

Distance was 18.85 miles, time 4:39 (moving 3:53), elevation gain/loss 3,429 feet.

P.S. - OK, it is kind of silly feeling bad about cutting a run "short" at 5 hours, 19 miles and 3,400 feet of vertical. But... athletic pursuits are relative to an athlete's abilities, aren't they?


  1. Nice. In your defense, it did seem pretty warm yesterday. I did not get out until after 2pm and planned to kill a 3 peak run, but suffered bad and bagged it after Bear Peak. Probably did not help also that this was right after a 2 hour mountain bike ride towing 80lbs of kids trailer as well.

  2. Oh, and bummer about the a-hole mountain bikers. Having spent a lifetime as a cyclist (though I don't ride much any more, I still feel like I am more of a cyclist than a runner and certainly follow cycling more closely)it really chaps me when I see this sort of behaviour. It is that sort of BS that continually gets mountain bikes banned from an ever diminishing selection of trails. Same sentiment with the select few roadies riding like they own the roads. Makes us all look bad and creates an us vs. them mentality.

  3. Nice run - Mt Falcon was the site of my worst running blister ever! When we were biking a lot, we always cringed to see the "knuckledraggers" out on the downhill rigs - save it for the gravity parks guys!

    BTW, The blister could be relative to dehydration - that is how some folks in ultras know they are entering that cycle.

  4. I have a tendency to wing it with food and/or hydration on shorter runs, and I need to pay more attention over 2-3 hours.

    The blister started showing up after I made some arm adjustments to cut down on patellar tendinitis -- which has worked. But I'm like a complex Rube Goldberg machine that keeps falling apart when one thing gets moved.

    JV - Maybe the girls have been coasting on your efforts long enough, and they need to start pulling too. That age 5-9 division is coming up fast.

  5. I'm with Jeff. That kind of biker behavior drives me nuts. I can handle the hassle of dealing w/ rude bikers just fine. It's knowing that their behavior will, eventually, get bikes banned from trails, or bring on more of those no biking days on certain trails thing (which I don't like). I used to mtn bike a lot, and plan to do more of it in the years ahead as my kids get into it. I want them to be able to ride the same trails, any day of the week, that I did!