I feel good about my training from the past weekend. On Saturday, a few Attack Packers and I ran from Soda Springs Park, up the Incline, past No Name Creek a little ways into the Experimental Forest, then back down Barr Trail. It took us right around two hours to do the whole thing. I think my Incline time was in the low 40s, which is about as good as I've gotten so far this season with sporadic use. Plans are in place to add it back in as a weekly workout, though!
PikesPeakSports.us Triple Crown Runners teammate Sharon had emailed all of us to see if anyone was interested in a ride down from Pikes Peak's summit on Sunday at noon, so I decided to take her (and her very generous father) up on it. Her father said he ran his last Pikes Peak Marathon two years ago (!). Sharon's own history running the peak is incredibly inspiring. It's like a family of superhumans.
Anyway, having spent most of the day Saturday after my morning run drinking beer with friends in Denver, I decided to give myself an extra hour of sleep and chose the route from Elk Park to the summit instead of cranking out a full ascent. The highway was open early, so I was able to buy a punch card and make it to the trailhead by about 7:45 a.m.
The Elk Park trail is so beautiful. You start off with sweeping views of the city and surrounding hills, descend into a dense forest, cross an alpine meadow (I love alpine meadows) and a few makeshift bridges, become convinced you've followed the wrong trail (if you're me), only to pop out behind Barr Camp to see Theresa Taylor's smiling face about an hour later. I stopped to check in with her and to snag a pancake and a hunk of that salty, delicious garlic bread, then turned my attention to the rest of the journey.
I made good time (well, for me) between Barr Camp and A-Frame. When I got there, a woman told me that a man from the Incline Club (doing a 3-2-1) had just told her there were 40- to 50-mph wind gusts at the summit. Great. (See previous post for feelings about wind.)
Anyway, my fears of being blown off the face of the mountain proved unfounded. Most of the trail was pretty well protected, with the exception of an area just above the 2-miles-to-go sign. The only problems I had above treeline were lung-related, which is new to me. I tend to do pretty well in altitudes, but I'm chalking my shortness of breath up to being tired and it being my first time up there this season.
I made it up shortly after Don and the Beagle and just before Sharon. It was awesome to see familiar faces up there; I was practically giddy. (Maybe that was the lack of oxygen combined with the euphoria of being done.) I have never been on a running team before, so this kind of connection is new to me. I saw a "JT" scrawled in the Barr Camp logbook from Saturday, and I'm sure Phoebe was off on a mountaintop somewhere, too, this weekend. Go team!
This brings us to the I-Word: injury. After I made it back to earth, I noticed some tightness and twinges inside my knee on my right leg were getting worse. I figured it was because of the weekend's tougher workouts and it would go away. When I woke up on Monday, I still felt it, so I knew I needed to check into things. I took my shoes to the Colorado Running Company begging for a solution.
Turns out I was pronating in the Brooks Cascadias I had been running in for a few months. Lots of my friends run in Cascadias and love them, so I bought a pair off runningwarehouse.com and went to town. I wear custom orthotics, so I thought that would enable me to wear a more neutral shoe than CRC recommended for road use. But the problem arose as I pushed my road shoes aside post-Garden for more rugged runs. Apparently medial support is a thing that I need a lot of. Sorry I neglected you, CRC! I've learned my lesson.
So they recommended I run in my road shoes (even on trails.. what!) until my leg feels better, and then break in some La Sportiva Wildcats, a much beefier shoe with better all-around support. I think I caught this before it turned into a true injury. I've tried to push through other aches and pains in my short but intense running career -- and those left me sidelined for weeks at a time.
Some people have great biomechanics for running. I am not one of them.
Even with the leg pain, I'm glad I got out on the peak this weekend, because I'm about to set off on a few weekends of traveling. This weekend, LB and I will backpack into the wilderness to see some cool rocks, and after that we leave on an 1,800-mile roadtrip through the Dakotas, Montana, and Wyoming to see family over July 4. I imagine, like on all vacations, my running volume will drop a bit, so that will give me time to heal completely. When I get back, it is ON. I mean, after the Summer Roundup, of course.
Below are a few more shots from my run/hike on the Peak on Sunday. Get out there, Colorado Springs: It's not as hot in the high country!