Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lazy Man's Hardrock

In 1991 Gordon Hardman placed a notice in Ultrarunning magazine that in the summer of 1992 there would be a 100 mile run in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. Thus, the Hardrock 100 was born. The Hardrock 100 is arguably the premiere 100 mile mountain race in the US. The route starts and ends in Silverton, CO, and is basically a big circle encompassing the four mining towns of Silverton, Telluride, Ouray, and Lake City. The actual course goes through all of these towns with the exception of Lake City.

The Hardrock 100 has always held a certain appeal. I found out about it in 1995, when Doug and I met Rick Trujillo and Ricky Denesik during one of their speed attempts on the 14ers. They decided to climb the 14ers because the Hardrock 100 had been cancelled that year due to snow.

The are several challenges with running Hardrock. First, the qualification process requires one to complete another 100 mile race. Barring a major change in lifestyle and motivation, I just don't see myself training for any 100 mile race. The 2nd issue is that Hardrock can only accommodate ~150 runners each year, and because of this there is a lottery system for aspiring runners. The chances of a first timer gaining an entry via the lottery are somewhat less than 25%. Another issue is that the Hardrock 100 typically takes the winner at least 24-27 hours to complete. It takes the average person closer to 40. This means that a lot of the race is done at night, in darkness. While I'm sure this is a unique experience, I would much rather be able to enjoy the mountains during the day time.

So, in light of all these, I developed* what I call the "Lazy man's Hardrock". The basic idea is to do the Hardrock course in 4 days, spending the night in each of Silverton, Telluride, and Ouray. I'm not talking about backpacking or camping - but rather stay in real hotels with real beds and hot showers at the end of each day. The goal is to go as lightweight as possible, probably just carrying a small day pack with one change of clothes for the end of each day. (Note - this is just *one* change of clothes. Not a separate one for each day). With this, and some minimal gear (waterproof jacket, first aid, food, water, etc), I think each person would be carrying about 5-7 pounds each day, hopefully less.

Of course, it's still by no means an easy trip. Going in the clockwise direction, starting at Sherman gives the following distances and elevations:

Sherman - Silverton: 28 miles, 9020 / 9350 ft of climb / descent
Silverton - Telluride: 27.9 miles, 9943 / 7983 ft
Telluride - Ouray: 16.2 miles, 4390 / 5460 ft
Ouray - Sherman: 27.9 miles, 9609 / 10169 ft

Note that I took these distances from the 2011 course description. However, I think they are backwards as listed there. For example, they give the leg from Ouray - Telluride as having 4390 feet of elevation gain and 5460 feet of descent. But this is backwards - Telluride is about 1,000 feet higher in elevation than Ouray. So I think the way I have it is correct.

Of course this doesn't exactly split the distance equally for each day, but I think a shorter 3rd day would be nice, especially ending in Ouray with the hot springs.

One problem with this route is that Handies Peak is the very last climb on the last day, just before dropping back to Sherman. This would subject us to potential storms late in the day. If we were to go the opposite direction (Sherman to Ouray, Ouray to Telluride, etc) Handies would be the very first climb of the trip.

A brief description of each day:
Day 1. Starting at Sherman (9,600 ft) climb up to Cataract Lake at about 12,000 ft, and then descent to Pole Creek (11,300 ft). Then climb Maggie Pole Pass (12,500), Buffalo Boy Ridge (13,000+) and Green Mountain. Descent to Cunningham (10,500), then climb Dives-Little Grant pass, (13,000) then descend to Silverton.

Day 2. Another early start. From Silverton, climb up to Putnam-Cataract Ridge, then Cataract-Porcupine Pass (each higher than 12,000ft). Descent to to KT (10,700), then climb Grant Swamp Pass (12,900). Descend to Chapman Gulch. Then climb Oscar's Pass (13,000+) and descend into Telluride. Proceed to the Fat Alley BBQ for Mitch Morgans.

Day 3. After a leisurely breakfast in Telluride, climb directly up Virginius Pass (13,000+) , then descend into Ouray. Spend the afternoon relaxing in the hot springs.

Day 4. Early start. Do the ~5,000 ft climb up Engineer (close to 13,000), then descend into Grouse Gulch. Climb up to Grouse-American Pass, then Handies (14,000+). Descend to Sherman. Drive home.

Here is some more insight into my thinking, in the form of Q&A:

Why not just backpack instead of staying in the towns? Wouldn't this give a more wilderness experience? My main motivation is to cover large distances each day, unencumbered by a heavy pack. Even a lightweight pack with everything needed for backpacking would still come in at 20+ pounds, which would be quite a challenge given all of the vertical. As I get older, my body really appreciates the recovery that comes from a nice shower and a comfortable bed.

Why do it in just 4 days? Why not take more time? Well, as a husband / father it's tough to get away for more than a few days. Of course I would love to spend a couple of weeks exploring the San Juans, but it's not that feasible. And as I stated above, my main motivation is to cover large distances each day, and the three towns split the route very nicely into four days.

Why go clockwise? This is a legitimate question, and I could possibly be persuaded to go counter clockwise. Going clockwise is described as going up the "steeps" and down the "ramps" (e.g. going up Virginius Pass is pretty steep from Telluride, going down Camp Bird Mine Road into Ouray is a much gentler "ramp"). I think this is probably easier on the body. It also puts one in Ouray (arguably the most enjoyable of the three towns) on the 3rd day, when ~75% of the route has been surpassed.

So that's the basic idea. The best time of the year is probably mid July - mid August.

Thoughts?

*Certainly I'm not the first person to think of this concept. But I haven't read any firsthand accounts. If you've heard of this before, please drop me a note.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pikes Peak Marathon 2011 race report


Wow...it's been nearly 2 years since I posted anything. Not that there haven't been things to write about - it just always seems to be a challenge to find the time / motivation.

WARNING! What follows is a very long and self indulgent race report. I write these things mostly for self reflection, so that when I do something like this again I can look back and it helps me remember the experience.

After running the Imogene Pass Race four times (okay - 3.5 times since we were there in 2006), and the Pikes Peak Ascent once (2009), I decided it was time to step it up to the big boy race - the Pikes Peak Marathon. I qualified on the merits of my previous Ascent (4:09), and set a goal of sub 6 hours, based mostly on my performance at Imogene last year (3:54). I knew this would be a huge stretch, but it was March, I was feeling optimistic (5+ months to train, right?), and I figured I should put something out there to shoot for.

Training went reasonably well. I was pretty consistent in getting out the door, felt like I established a good base, did some speed work, some hill work (mostly on the treadmill), tried to squeeze in some long runs and trail runs where I could...but given the way life is (2 kids, work, remodeling, moving) and my previous running experience it was quite a challenge just to get in 5-6 hours per week. Multiply that by the pace I run, and that put my weekly mileage somewhere in the range of 25 - 35 miles. I had originally hoped to get in some high altitude work, a 14er trip with coworkers and a 3-2-1 session on Pikes, but that never materialized due to a variety of reasons. Oh well - I didn't stress it too much.

Race day seemed to come all too quick, and it was quite surreal to be standing in the middle of Manitou Ave on Sunday morning, just before 7:00am, looking up at Pikes Peak. I felt pretty good, not really nervous, just excited to get on with things. The gun went off, followed by a huge cannon, which I think took a lot of people by surprise.

I positioned myself in the middle-front of the pack, and focused on getting out smooth. I was passed by a lot of people on Manitou Ave, but I just kept reminding myself "there will be plenty of time to expend energy". I hit Ruxton in just over 4 minutes, and still just focused on keeping an even pace. Somewhere near the cog railway I switched to a fast walk, mostly keeping up or passing those around me. I looked back at one point, and I estimated I was pretty squarely in the middle of everyone. I knew this would make the Ws quite crowded, but I did not want to be one of those people who goes out to fast, only to slow down as soon as they hit the Ws. The Ws were crowded, but I was able to pass a lot of people without much of a perceived effort, and I passed the top in ~47:30. At this point I was feeling great, happy to be racing and sharing the day with those around me. The No Name aid station seemed to come quite abruptly, to the point where I had to double check with a volunteer that it was actually No Name. I was still feeling great at this point. I was running pretty much everything except for a few steep switchbacks, and generally found a good group that was going at about the same pace.

At some point after the Bob's Road aid station, I began to contemplate the enormity of the effort that I had yet to complete. The marathon is a total mind-f&%^ compared to the Ascent. At Barr Camp, instead of 6 miles to go you have 19. At A-frame you have 16 instead of 3. In retrospect, I wasn't prepared for this. But as I approached Barr Camp, I purposefully watched my effort, trying to move as efficiently as possible yet expend as little energy as possible. Normally this isn't really a problem, as I can power hike terrain at 10%-12% at around a 15 minute / mile pace without too much problem. On this day, however, it wasn't meant to be. 20:00 minute / mile pace seemed more reasonable, as my legs just had no power. After reaching the Bottomless Pit turn off, I began to lie to my self, a lot. "OK - just make it to A-frame, and you can have a break." closer to A-frame, it was "you can make it 2 to go, then a break", near 2 to go "just make it to the Cirque aid station", and so it went.

Somewhere below the A-frame, Matt C came flying by on the descent. Seriously - I'm can't actually verify that his feet were touching the ground as he passed us. We were on one of the more technical sections, in a veritable conga line of people going up, and he was running probably 6-7 min / mile pace going down. amazing. And for those who don't know, he's 47 years old. And for most of the summer he went fishing and ate ice cream with his daughter. A few minutes later Daryn Parker passed. He was no less impressive. The speed at which these guys run is almost unbelievable.

OK - so where were we? That's right...I was on the so called death march from Barr Camp to the summit. The 20 minute miles turned into 25 minute miles, which turned into 30+ minute miles close to the top. The last mile I didn't even look up until we made the final traverse that is right beneath the turnaround. And before I knew...I was there. 4:37+. ouch. 28 minutes slower than my previous ascent, and almost all of it between Barr Camp and the last mile (in 2009 I bonked pretty hard the last mile and it took 30+ minutes). I was actually feeling pretty good (probably because I was going so slow), so I grabbed a handful of grapes, and was out of there. At least, tried to be out of there. I would guess that people who summit between ~4:15 and 4:45 probably encounter the most people in the last mile. As opposed to people who are summiting in 3:00 - 3:30, who are encountering most people between 1 to go and A-frame. Passing is tough given the technical nature of the trail, but it is what it is, and next time I'll just try to be faster.

Somewhere above the A-frame it started to rain a little. Once we were in the trees it became pretty consistent. This made the footing somewhat better, somewhat worse. Somewhat better because I think it helped with a lot of the loose gravel, somewhat worse because of the slick rocks and tree roots. I got into a pretty good groove on the downhill, taking about 30 seconds to drink / eat at each aid station, and just cruising along at what was a sustainable pace. Somewhere below Barr Camp I came to the realization that I was actually going to finish this thing. I kept focusing on getting to the next aid station, and on the Ws I even counted the switchbacks (I knew there were 13 total), and this really helped keep me focused. "Okay - #7...can I get a 7? where are you 7? alright...7! can I get a 6?" silly, but it helped. I finally hit the pavement, and while the effort was tough, my body was in good shape, and I knew I would finish strong. Although I did have a flashback to the epic Julie Moss video.

I passed the Miramont Castle, saw the sign for the roundabout at Ruxton Ave and Manitou Ave, a minute later saw Molly and the girls, and then I was in the finishing chute. The volunteers asked if I was OK, and handed me some ice and the world's smallest water bottle.

Final time was 7:30:31. It was a humbling experience, and I'm proud to have finished. I learned a lot that is tough to put into words. Even though I didn't come close to meeting my goal, it was a fantastic day, and there is nothing to complain about spending all day running / walking up and down a spectacular mountain.

Some final thoughts:

Seeing Molly and the girls at the finish was definitely the highlight of the day. It's not easy hauling around a 4 year old and a 1 year old, much less waiting around for Daddy to finish when he's a lot later than he said he would be (I told them 6-7 hours). Chasing Audrey and Sydney around continues to be the best post run recovery. Although Sydney was more my speed. Whenever I was supposed to be playing with Audrey I would turn around and she would be gone.

The volunteers and staff for this race are incredible. They wait around for hours at the aid stations and the finish, stand in the rain and deal with sweat encrusted runners yelling at the them for this, that, and the other. And they do it all with a smile on their face. I received a ton of encouraging words from people at the aid stations, and it really does make a difference. And thanks to Search and Rescue as well. They're less visible than the people at the aid stations, but they are hugely important to the safety of the runners.

I'm not exactly sure what happened on the ascent. I could point to the lack of altitude training, but I was barely above 10,000 feet when I started to feel the lack of power in my legs. I could also point to the lack of a truly long "run" (the longest continous run I had was ~ 12 miles / 2 hours.) Although I had done longer trail runs / walks up to nearly 4 hours in length. And neither of these were issues last year at Imogene. Oh well - I won't dwell on it too much, but a little something to ponder for next time.

Along those lines, it's definitely a challenge as to how to spend the all important training buck. i.e., with only about an average of an hour or less of time to train each day, what's the best thing to do? I tried to loosely follow the training plan that Carpenter and Freim put together - which is roughly - run 5-7 times / week. Build up the long run. Add intervals and tempo runs. Add altitude. I have everyday access to a treadmill (at work) and reasonable access to the foothills of Denver / Boulder, but it's tough to make it there more than once every couple of weeks. I need to be more disciplined, but it's easy to fall into the habit of workouts that I do well, and avoid the tougher ones. I'm also still learning just how hard I should / need to push myself on the intervals and tempo runs so that I can still recover in time. ditto on the long run.

I was somewhat dismayed to see people still ascending into what was obviously a growing storm. I've done dozens and dozens of climbs to 14ers and 13ers, and whenever the weather is like that, it's time to get down! I guess based on my background and experience I'm just not willing to take certain chances. And I also find it pretty difficult to run myself into the ground, despite the fact that there are aid stations, SAR is out there, etc. There is something about the mountaineering ethos that says each person should be able to take care of themselves safely, and not rely on the others. With the exception of using the aid stations for water and food, it's very tough for me to deviate from this. i.e. I'm just not going to run myself into the ground.

It's now two days after the race, and my body feels pretty good. I didn't realize have any physical issues during the race. One small blister that I never noticed until after I was finished. Food and hydration was good. I ate a total of 3 gels, some m&m's a few grapes, goldfish, and 1/2 of a clif bar on the way up. On the way down I hit the gatorade a little harder, along with 2 gels, and some grapes at Barr Camp. I carried a handheld water bottle throughout the day and was pretty good about drinking.

I'm sure the inevitable questions are coming. What's next? Will you do it again? For the latter - yes - I'll definitely be back. It's an amazing race, and I would love to come back better prepared. As for what's next, I'm not sure yet. I usually like to put at least one mountain race on the calendar as a focus point - and I think next year might be a good year to do the Kendall Mountain race in Silverton.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Golden Gate Canyon Trail Half-Marathon

Today I ran the Golden Gate Canyon Trail Half-Marathon. Although only 12.7 miles, as the website says "You won't be disappointed". Indeed, I wasn't.

I didn't really have many expectations for this race. I've wanted to do it for the last 3 years, but last year it wasn't run, and the years before it didn't fit into my schedule. I haven't run more than an hour since mid-July (this includes Pikes Peak - I certainly didn't run for more than an hour there), so I knew I wouldn't really be in shape to "race" it - but nonetheless I figured it would be a great run in a cool area. Because of this attitude, I think I tricked myself into thinking it would be easy. Alas, it was anything but.

I pulled into the parking lot at about 8:00am. The race didn't start until 9, but the directions said to get there early, and I wasn't sure how long the drive would take. I was dressed in running shorts, and short sleeve t-shirt, with a lightweight fleece that I never use for running. Of course it was windy and cold. good times, good times. I hunkered down in my car for the next hour, alternating between reading the New York Times and watching other races with their warmups - some of which were actually running up the first hill. As 9:00 neared it was still pretty windy and I even contemplated bailing on the race and just going to get some breakfast. But soon the sun came out and we all lined up at the starting line. I'm guessing there were 60-70 racers, and there were actually quite a few of us jockeying for position at the back. Adam gave some brief instructions, assured us that the wind wouldn't be an issue once we were in the trees, and then we were off.

I had studied the elevation profile enough to know that the first 2 miles were all uphill. Nice. shouldn't be a problem not to go out too hard. :) We were quickly on the single track and I settled into a nice pace of 12+ mins/mile with a couple of other runners. The effort didn't feel too hard, but my heart rate was definitely up there - I knew it would be a tough way to start the day, but one goal I had was to run as much of the course (all?) as I could. I succeeded in this for the first 2.5 miles, and then it got TOO STEEP and TOO ROCKY for the speeds I like to run speed I am capable of running. So I settled into a pattern for the rest of the race of power hiking the uphills and running everything else. Not exactly what I had planned, but there were some steep sections!

I started feeling pretty good around mile 5 or so. This course had a bit of everything - smooth and fast, steep and rocky, mostly in the trees, but some exposed places as well. The final climb was really tough - for the beginning part I doubt I was doing faster than 20:00 min/miles. The last 3 miles went by w/o issue, albeit slowly. My final time was a bit slower than I was hoping for, but given my lack of long runs it's not much of a surprise. The finish line had a ton of food - the homemade chili looked excellent even though I don't think my stomach could have handled it. I really enjoy these types of runs - low entry fee, no worthless shwag, and always plenty of food at the finish.

Here's my splits - I had problems with my watch and ended up with a couple of 1 second laps. Since my watch only stores 10 laps, I missed the last few splits.

Splits:
Mile 1: 12:35
Mile 2: 26:16 (13:41)
Mile 3: 38:44 (12:28)
MIle 4: 49:36 (10:52)
Mile 5: 1:04:21 (14:45)
Mile 6: 1:14:56 (10:35)
Mile 7: 1:27:11 (12:15)
Mile 8: 1:38:50 (11:39)
Mile 9: 1:52:30 (13:40)
Finish: 2:39:33 (47:03) - 3.7 miles = 12:42 pace. The last 3 miles I estimate were 10:30 pace.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Challenger Point and Kit Carson

just some pictures...Doug and I did this in 2008. I'd have to look for sure, but I think we did the whole trip in about 10:20 from the Willow Lake Trailhead. Awesome day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

North Carolina, Mt. Falcon, the lost key, and The Longest Run Ever

OK - y'all are going to get a recap of my recent running in one post. As Sandy would say - "This blogging stuff is hard work". Here are some quick thoughts from some recent runs.

We took a nice week long vacation to North Carolina at the end of June. It was just what I needed. I did a few runs through Wrightsville Beach, man it was hot! Any speed-up I was hoping for at sea-level was nullified by the heat. But is there a better way to cool off after a run than to jump in the ocean?

After North Carolina I did a run through Mt. Falcon. I had never been to the western part of the area before, and it was spectacular. I was the first car in the parking lot @ 6:00 on a Sunday morning, and when I finished the lot was full. I ran Turkey Trot to Castle Trail to Parmelee to Meadow Trail back to Castle. It was almost exactly 10 miles, and took me 2 hours. I ran the whole thing, stopping 2 times for shots and once for the bathroom. That climb up Castle Trail feels longer than Chimney Gulch / Lookout Mountain, but maybe that's just because I've done Lookout Mountain several times this year.

I've been trying to make it to the track as often as possible this year. One morning after 4 x 1 mile repeats, I was feeling really good about myself - I had gotten up pretty early and made it back home by 6:30. When I tried to get back into our house, I realized I had lost my key....oops. I knew Molly was still asleep, and I contemplated knocking on Adam and Elisa's door, because I figured they would be up...but instead I rang our door bell. Faithfully Meg started barking, and a few minutes later Molly appeared. She admitted to laying in bed and thinking "Why isn't Scott taking care of Meg's barking...", before realizing that it must be me at the door. Luckily this didn't wake Audrey up...that's never a pretty site...

On July 3rd I did another early morning run. From our house, to the Cherry Creek to Downing, around Wash Park, downing over to Cheesman park, 7th ave back to the Cherry Creek, and then home. All told it was 16 miles. It took me 2:45 to finish, after puttering along for the first hour, only finishing 5 miles. I had a minor set back w/ my fueling strategy - I usually do Clif Shots, but we didn't have any of those, so I went w/ some random shot blocks I found in our cupboard. Not the smartest thing to do @ 5:15 in the morning with no lights on. I ended up with one pack that was so old they were like hard candy, and the other was flavored "Margarita Salt". Whoever thought that Margarita Salt would be a good flavor for a shot block clearly has spent too much time at the bar, and not enough time exercising. They were awful. I think I ate a total of about 5 shots in 2 hours and 45 minutes - which is just shy of 200 calories. I think that's a little under the recommended nourishment.

16 miles was the longest run I've ever done, and all in all it was pretty uneventful. No blisters, no cramps - I didn't even get bored. running around Cheesman was fantastic - I had only been there once before during the half-marathon. It was cool to be up so early and feel like I had gotten so much done before the day even started. I was definitely feeling it the next 2 days - on Sunday I did a run w/ Audrey to REI and back, and the last 1/2 mile I was pretty tired. But by Tuesday night I was feeling pretty normal and did a 6 mile run. Not too shabby!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rocky Mountain Half Marathon

On Sunday, June 14th, I ran the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon. This was my 2nd half marathon - my first being the 2008 Denver Marathon. Even though this wasn't really a target race I figured it would provide a good measure of my fitness and preparation for Pikes Peak. Well, let's hope not.

Let's cut right to the chase. I finished in 2:05:14. That's 22 seconds faster than the Denver Half Marathon. My goal was to break 2:00, and I fell quite a bit short. Instead of some mind-numbing boring stats, I think a really cute picture of Audrey would definitely spice up this blog.



Whew - I feel better already. How about one more?



OK - I know I said no boring stats, but come on - you didn't really think I would spare you of that joy, did you?

Here were my splits:

Mile 1: 8:55

Mile 2: 17:59 (9:04)

Mile 3: 27:13 (9:14)
Mile 4: 36:25 (9:12)
Mile 5: 45:46 (9:21)
Mile 6: 55:22 (9:36)
Mile 7: 1:04:57 (9:44)*
Mile 8: 1:14:31 (9:25)* (19:09 split between 6 - 8)
Mile 9: 1:23:58 (9:27)
Mile 10: 1:33:32 (9:34)
Mile 11: 1:42:57 (9:25)
Mile 12: 1:53:31 (10:34)

Finish: 2:05:14 (11:43 - 10:40 pace)

Somehow I missed the mile 7 marker, so the exact time for mile 7 and mile 8 is an estimate - mile 8 was pretty flat, mile 7 had a bit of a hill towards the beginning (17th and Federal). I think it would be easy to say from these splits that I started out too fast, since my first two miles were the fastest. Upon a few weeks for further reflection - yeah - I went out too fast. Mile 1 didn't feel that fast, but I should have really eased up when I passed it in sub-9:00. Oh well, there will be other races...

I also realized that I shouldn't be so tied to my watch, and I should just run. Once I hit the 9 mile mark, and new I wasn't going to break 2 hours, I got pretty discouraged. This is something I need to learn to deal with. For Pikes Peak I'm not going to memorize the exact time split for every last mile that I need in order to run sub-4 hours - this would just be counterproductive. I'm just going to run as smart as I can, push myself to the end, and see what my time is. I think I'll be a lot happier this way.

Overall I was pretty pleased with this run. I would have liked the run to have started at 7:00 instead of 7:30, it was pretty hot at the end. I also was a little confused because the course had a slight change in the early part that wasn't accurately reflected on the maps they passed out. It's not quite as nice a run as the Denver half marathon, as I don't really care too much for lollipop-style race courses, but I would definitely do it again.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Green Mountain redux

Here are the reasons why the "Green Mountain Loop" in Boulder (start @ Chautauqua, up the amphitheater trail to Greenman trail, west off of the summit to Bear Canyon, out to the Mesa Trail and back to the start) is one of my favorite runs in the area:

  1. You reach a summit with great views, and it's actually got a cool little summit block
  2. It's a loop run. None of this out-and-back or lollipop stuff.
  3. The run takes about 2 hours, which is just right for me
  4. The terrain is incredibly varied
  5. If I'm having a good day I can get to the summit in just under an hour
  6. Green Mountain is visible from nearly everywhere on the front range
  7. Superb views of Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak from Bear Canyon
  8. Isolation: it's rare that you encounter anyone between the summit of Green Mountain and the Mesa trail
  9. It's tough. The last mile before the mesa trail is very technical with lots of rocks and stream crossings. In the spring it's hard to tell the trail from the creek.
I did this run again on Friday morning, June 5th. It never fails to disappoint. The first time I ever did this loop was in 2002, before I was much of a runner. I carried barely any water, it was hot, and I totally bonked somewhere in Bear Canyon, the whole round trip taking about 3.5 hours. I did it twice in 2006, getting lost on the way to summit both times, and getting as low as 2:10. This time I was hoping for sub-2 hours. I set a new PR this time, but failed by a long shot to break 2 hours, finishing in 2:04:39. I also set a new PR to the summit, in 58:03. Here is a comparison between this run, last year's (to the summit only), and my fastest time in 2006:

June 2009
7:47 Amphitheatre trail
17:18 Top of Amphitheatre (9:31)
26:27 First Flatiron cutoff (9:09)
36:19 Greenman cutoff (9:51)
58:03 Summit (21:43)
1:12:41 Bear Peak W. Ridge (14:38)
1:36:25 Mesa Trail (23:46)
2:04:39 Finish (28:14)

July 2008
7:38 Amphitheatre
17:32 Top of Amphitheatre (9:53)
26:56 First Flatiron cutoff (9:24)
37:09 Greenman cutoff (10:12)
58:12 Summit (21:03)

2006
Amphitheater Trail: 7:10
Greenman Trail: 38:15
Green Mtn. Summit 1:03:35
Bear Peak W. Ridge 1:18:00 (14:25)
Mesa Trail 1:42:00 (24:00)
Finish: 2:10:51 (28:51)

This time I was hampered a little bit on the way up by a side cramp after eating a gel. I should probably just wait until the summit to eat - it's not that long of a run. I also had to stop and walk several times in Bear Canyon - crossing the river is just too technical. I should probably try this run in the fall if I want to get under 2 hours....

until next time...