A little background, back in 2010 at that link above, I did something “crazy”. I ran from Home to Green Mountain in late March. I recall being pretty spent but I enjoyed taking the RTD bus back to Longmont, then having my family pick me up for the final miles home. I told stories of that run for a long time to non-runners who enjoyed the bus back aspect for some reason. But it left a bad taste in my mouth. I needed to run home.
Fast forward to this year, when I have promised that I will run a single 8+ hour run every month until August. This is a big spoke in my multi-faceted improvement strategy for this season. Last month was the Colorado Springs Fat Ass. So what to do this month? It was clear. Correct that run to Green Mountain by making it back home.
I prepped my wife for 3 weeks saying that on this Sunday I would go and be gone from sunrise to sunset unless the weather was total crap. Luckily it wasn’t. I mean there wasn’t a blizzard or driving rain or sub-zero temps on the forecast. So it was on. I set my alarm for like 7 AM but ended up popping up at 5:30 AM with that pre-race sensation. It was time to go. I crept downstairs and got my bottle filled, trout vest loaded up, gloves on and Hokas ready. Then my body pushed out a dump. Its like it was ready to roll. I stepped out into the dark street just as the newspaper guy was delivering. I felt like I looked like I had just robbed the house and was sneaking out. It was sort of amazing running down my street in the darkness. I never do that except for when races start before sunrise. It brought back memories. But it didn’t last long. About 4 miles later, there was some sun and I could see Green in the distance.
The sun was a welcome thing because it was a bit colder than I thought it was out. This was due to some building headwind. I can’t go back and layer up more. I just gotta push and see how things shake out. I wasn’t afraid to call my wife for assistance but not at this early hour. So I pressed on. Mostly taking the same old route that I have run to Boulder on before. The worst section is that part between 63rd Street and getting into Boulder proper. I just forget that its there. But Green was getting closer!
The run was wearing on me a bit through there. Mostly because of nutrition. I ran an experiment today. No sugar outbound. No gels. No blocks. I ate Cheerios alone. They went down good and I continued to crave them. But by Boulder’s 28th Street, I was out. So I dropped into a Walgreen’s and grabbed a Snickers. Pounded that and it was so good. From there I ran down Pearl Street so that I could have some other human contact from a relatively quiet run so far. Finally, came up the length of 6th Street and arrived at my destination.
Time to summit! I carried my microspikes the whole way in my vest so I strapped them on the Hokas and made the climb up. It wasn’t fast. Maybe under an hour. Mostly because I was freezing. So yes, I was in shorts. It was supposed to be in the 30s but it was frigid on Green in the snow. This is usual but I can deal on a single up/down trip. But after being cold for hours beforehand, it wasn’t welcome. Neither was the wind. It was blowing hard and my fingers were gone. I summited, checked in on Foursquare and descended. The descent was a joke. I was trying to be a bit faster but the spikes on the Hokas were killing me. First my spikes are dulling quickly and I was sliding all the time. Next, it felt like I was running downhill in high heels. I kept turning ankles constantly. It was frustrating. Mostly because the big shoes were tipping as I cross various footprint holes. But I made it down and was on my way home. Too bad my water bottle was frozen.
My other nutrition test was to pull into Panda Express at 28th Street and order up a side of rice. I have seen the rice ball strategy working well for folks so this was an opportunity to try it. However, once I got inside the warm establishment, I decided to sit and eat it to defrost a bit. I ate 1/2 of it then thought I should take the rest on the run to practice. I had a baggie to put it in but I realized I would have to try and grab it with the gloves on and that would suck. So I decided to eat the rest then motor out.
About a 1/2 block later, I cramped. Too much food. I don’t run well on any large amount of substance. So I ended up alternating walks and runs for the next few miles to settle things out. This wasn’t so bad as my hips were the most painful part of my body and walking attempted to loosen them up. It was at that point, I did some math and figured out that I had burnt too many miles outbound. I wanted to sort of hit 50 exactly but I was over. I did a quick iPhone Google map check and it confirmed my suspicion. I could cut off a lot of miles on the return if I went straight up the Diagonal Highway instead of those windy trails. So I committed to that route. I always hit a low in the mid-30 mile range and it came as planned. I was set on hitting 50 miles so I figured the minute I crossed that number I would dial Kim for a pickup. 50 miles. To Green. All good.
Motored up the highway better as my gut loosened up and finally was able to just dial in a 9 min/mile pace that seemed I could hold forever. As my mood changed, I realized that Kim would have to pick me up 3 miles from home. What’s another 3 miles? So I flipped and planned to finish. I crossed 50 miles near the Walmart and gave out a small fist pump. Weird how that’s the goal you focused on for so long and it was just a passing moment.
The wind kicked back up and I was getting cold. I was also stiffening up so I mostly walk/ran the last 3 miles back home. I didn’t feel disappointed in that. I felt good that I achieved what I wanted to do. Even the stretch goal. I hit the watch on the driveway and promptly went inside and fell on the floor to announce my arrival. Sydney, my oldest daughter, said “Dad’s home from another one of his dumb personal challenges”. Touche.
A few notes for myself (and anyone that cares).
It held up well in the Green Mountain area. I thought it would flake out but I think it batches the waypoints and sends them upon coverage.
Personally, this felt like a mediocre run all in all physically. I was pretty disappointed with the marathon split. I wasn’t trying for it. In fact, I left my house and dialed in 9 min/miles and put it on cruise. I didn’t want to “lead the race”. I wanted to be able to run all day and I mostly did that. Mentally, it was much more positive. I was just grinding all day and only had about a 1 hour section where I couldn’t get my mind out of the situation.
Gear wise, the Hoka held up but son-of-a-bitch I was getting rocks in them all day. Then that downhill blew. It will be good to try them without snow underfoot. I felt pretty pain free in the feet all day instead of being shredded. Still not sure what to do with that info yet. In a 50 mile race, I would still go minimal. But for the next 100, the jury is still out. Even though my body was frozen, my feet were constantly pooling with sweat in those shoes.
I tried to keep the GPS on all day (except in Panda Express) so that I would not botch it and run miles without having them count. So the time includes potty breaks, food changes, rock dig outs, stop lights, etc. That’s what you get in a race anyway. So nearly 11 hours on my feet today and I feel like just that as I lay here typing this up. Hopefully, this continues to build momentum for me. The critics will say it was too long and this risked injury. I did my best to keep things safe and I was prepared to eject if something didn’t feel right. But things held together. I feel a little older, a little slower, but a bit wiser this year. I think that going to be an effective combination to help me finally achieve the goal.
And finally…Dear Summer, come back soon. I need you.
I went 53.06 miles with an elevation gain of 3,710 feet in 10:45:49, which is an average pace of 12:10. View my GPS data on Garmin Connect.