Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pikes Peak and Trails

It was another gorgeous summer day in Colorado Springs this Sunday - the perfect day for a 12 mile trail race straight up Pikes Peak. And when I say straight up, I really mean straight up. The race starts at 6400 ft and the turnaround is at 10,000ft so 3600 ft of climbing in 6 miles.

The Barr Trail race is one of those epic 'gotta do it once in your life' kind of races...all on trail, beautiful scenery and absolutely brutal. It attracts some pretty serious trail runners and I came second to a girl who was the 10k US Trail Running champion - fair enough. I managed to lead all the way up to the turnaround but of course what goes up, must come down. I got a lesson in downhill running as she schooled me on the rocky, technical decent. I was just shy of the course record of 1:51...for 12 MILES! It was awesome. The coolest part were the Primes (where the leader at certain points on the course gets a bonus, Tour de France style). They weren't announced beforehand so whenever we heard a whistle on the trail it meant that a prime was coming up - nothing like throwing down a few sprints at 10,000ft.

The top of the trail in the photo here is about 1/3 of the way up....

I'm gonna go bathe in a vat of ALCiS now (pain relief cream - it doesn't make you smell like a hospital and its the only thing that I have found that actually works on sore muscles).

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Sitting here in the ice bath after a hard run. @$*! that is cold. It's not too bad once you get past the first 2 minutes and everything goes numb. There's some debate about the physiological benefit of ice baths but all I know is nothing feels better after a hard effort than sitting in a tub of ice.

It's been a hard week of training capped off with a couple of run races and a long brick this weekend. Being a full-time athlete means that "weekends" and "holidays" don't mean much, usually it's just another training day for me, so I figured I would take advantage of the glut of run races being held this weekend. I often find it hard to get in the high-end threshold training at altitude, so I like to use races to tap into that extra gear you can always find in a race (plus i am ultra-competitive so I need my fix). I headed up to Palmer Lake, CO on the 4th to run a 4 mile race on one of my favourite trails. It was point-to-point with a slight downhill the whole way (the fact that it was at 7000ft and on gravel trail kind of evens out any downhill advantage). I won the race and then turned around and ran back up to the start to get in some more mileage.

Cliff and I had a little fun too - we marked the 4th by having some friends around for the requisite 4th of July BBQ. (As Canadians living in the US, Cliff and I don't really have a reason to celebrate Independence Day, but also, being Canadians, we'll take any reason to drink beer and set off fireworks).

A six hour brick on Saturday, mainly spent trying to hold the wheel of a hammerhead cyclist friend of mine, then another trail race on Sunday. This one was a little tougher - 8 miles, with 1000ft of climbing on some pretty solid trails. Plus I ran an hour from our house over to the start in order to get in a 2 hour run total. The race was just my style - 4 miles up, 4 miles down. I think my legs are way more beat up from the fast downhill than from the rest of the weekend combined. I won the women's race in a new course record, and more importantly, toughened up the legs for the pounding they are going to get over the next couple of months.

Back in Colorado

I am back training in Colorado Springs for the summer. After 3 big races in a row I figured it was time to get back into some training. I love racing, but after a long stint on the road I can't quite decide if I am exhausted from all the racing or out-of-shape from all the taper and travel.

We triathletes are a neurotic lot.

So after an easy week of rest and hanging out with some old friends from home (and a couple of great bottles of current obsession is Papillion from Orin Swift in Napa -definitely check it out if you like big Reds) it's back to pounding the pavement for the 16 weeks till my Kona build up. Although now it is more like pounding the dirt since I like to do most of my training on trails when I am in Colorado. I have a love/hate relationship with the mountains; the altitude absolutely kills me but I LOVE the trails and scenery. Cliff (my coach/fiancee/training partner Cliff English) and I headed up into Rocky Mountain National Park for an epic cyclocross ride this weekend. The best part is we rode straight from our door into the complete wilderness. There is a great website, , that lists guides for trails all over the country so we found a route and packed some gear, and plenty of Powerbars, and set out from the Santa Fe trail north of CS up to Mount Herman Rd in Monument and up over Rampart Road to Woodland Park and back to the Springs. The trail was a little rough but manageable even with my limited cyclocross abilities and the views from 9000 ft were spectacular. A long run around Rampart Reservoir the next morning (15mile trail around the res at 9000ft...ouch) completed the weekend. If they ever make a trail Ironman I would definitely be in.