Tag: altitude

Training Log: Torreys Peak via Kelso Ridge – 17 August 2013

I’ve been wanting to do this one for a couple years now but haven’t quite gotten around to it. This past week I’d done a couple more extreme trail runs. I did a 17.5 mile up Keystone Gulch to the Colorado Trail to the Aquaduct Trail for Breckenridge and back. I was lost.

I also did a double on Mount Royal overlooking Frisco Colorado. I was pretty wasted so I was looking for something that my friend, climbing partner, and Team Seven Summits Quest mate Todd Gilles and I could do together that was also extreme, but would allow us to go a bit slower than we have been in our training for Elbrus Race 2013.

Todd Gilles rock climbing on Kelso Ridge
Todd Gilles rock climbing on Kelso Ridge

We met in Keystone at about 6:50 and drove together in my higher clearance vehicle to the Grays Peak Trailhead up Stevens Gulch. The Grizzly Gulch Fork parking was completely overparked and as we went up the road through the private land area we ran into a long line of bumper to bumper cars parked along the side. We stopped to ask and no one knew for sure if there were spaces up at the trailhead. I decided to risk it, thinking there would be parking along the road to the mining area where I’d camped several years before.

Sure enough, there was parking for us and we took off up the trail. It was pretty obvious that many of these hundreds of people don’t get out much. They weren’t at all experienced with faster “hikers” on the same trail. We made it to the fork to Kelso Ridge in pretty good time in spite of that. We took off up the ridge and for the most part it was loose gravel and dirt with a few steep gullies of third class rock, with maybe one or two fifth class moves. I think if you were cautious you could find a way to make it easier.

We didn’t really push for speed and stayed behind a few people that we used as routefinders for a while until they stopped for lunch. Then we came to the Knife-edge. This was classic. It’s a steep point about 50′ long along the ridge top. The slabs drop a few hundred feet both directions and most people I have heard slide along on their crotch. Some more brave people just walk on it. I was not brave that day. Todd was a bit faster than me. I think his Merrel minimum trail runners had better stick than my Salomon XA-Pro. They felt like they were sliding off every little foothold.

Happy to be on top. Todd Gilles and Charles Miske after climbing Kelso Ridge on Torreys
Happy to be on top. Todd Gilles and Charles Miske after climbing Kelso Ridge on Torreys

The last bit was a scree slog sometimes on hands and knees. At the top we hung out and ate and drank and did pics and videos. On the way down we saw hundreds of people along the trail. Most coming up quite late, but some going down. We got behind some really slow people, even for the slow pace we were going at, so at a switchback with a fork I managed to run around everyone and we started booking it down the trail.

We passed everyone. Not a single other person, even those dressed as trail runners, passed us. I think it took only a little over an hour to descend back to the car. I know I had a lot of fun sliding and jumping and even falling once to avoid running into a dog in the middle of the trail that didn’t notice me approaching.

Torreys via Kelso Ridge – Strava Stats

Torreys via Kelso Ridge 17 AUG 2013 on Strava - overview
Torreys via Kelso Ridge 17 AUG 2013 on Strava – overview

When I uploaded my stats Strava associated our stats together, Todd’s and mine. Oddly we were 20 minutes apart though we hit the summit within a minute of each other. I think it was because whoever created the segment pinned the summit in a different spot. I just sat down at the cairn and Todd wandered around, so likely he passed through the pinned segment end before I did. In any case here are the Strava stats [CLICK HERE]

Torreys via Kelso Ridge Map

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Training Log: Keystone Gulch Form Run – 19 August 2013

For this installment of Training Log I’m sharing my run this morning 19 August 2013. It was the first day of school so everyone was up early. I got out of the condo at 7:00 AM and it was pretty cold still. It was damp too, having rained quite a bit yesterday evening.

Trail run up Keystone Gulch cold morning
Trail run up Keystone Gulch cold morning

I was still pretty tired from my big runs and climbs last week, and decided that if I can’t go fast I might as well work on my form. I tried to make nice fast paced little circles with my feet and strike gently for as long as I could. I also tried to reduce my stops, but ended up pausing to take a few pics and vids.

Strava for the Keystone Gulch Easy Form run 19 August 2013
Strava for the Keystone Gulch Easy Form run 19 August 2013

I had planned to run at least a 10k, and it was a bit of a mental game to do that, since the road between 2.5 and 3.0 miles seems steep compared to the rest of it. Here’s the Strava Overview for this run [CLICK HERE]

Below is the Keystone Gulch Map View

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Video Collection: Training in Colorado

I’ve been in Colorado most of the past month, and training for Elbrus Race has been my primary goal. I’ve had to adjust slowly to the training effect from being above 9,000′ for all of my training. That’s good for me. I hope.

I’ve been doing strength training at the Breckenridge Recreation Center.

I’ve been trail running, as in this clip from Keystone Gulch Road.

Especially on steep trails, like Mount Royal overlooking Frisco, Colorado.

And I’ve been to the top of Quandary, a Colorado 14’er, a couple of times.

I’m having a blast, and watching my fitness improve almost daily. I’m hoping to do great at the Elbrus Race 2013.

Trail Running Fartlek Training

I went out this morning for some winter trail running. My goal for the current program was 4.2 miles. I figured I’d be able to crank that out even with some uphill walking in less than an hour depending on snow conditions. I started at a local pool parking lot, like usual. I had done some ice climbing the day before which required a mile approach with over 500′ of elevation gain hiking up a steep gully of rock and ice. I wasn’t sure how that would affect my trail running, so I was ready to just jog lightly if needed.

Spiked Trail Running Shoes
Spiked Trail Running Shoes: Hoka One One Mafate WP with screws

The first part of the road was slick ice over the surface. I was glad to be wearing my spiked trail running shoes [article]. They stuck to the ice and I didn’t feel at risk of falling at all. I ran to the gate, and through. The road surface was pretty icy for the first half mile, with long strips of ice-impregnated dirt showing through. My shoes stuck well. I was glad to be wearing them.

Trail Running in Keystone Colorado
Trail running up Keystone Gulch Road behind Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado

I actually felt really good. I did intervals up the road, choosing somewhat random targets. I ran to a fence post, or a stick along the shoulder, or a mottled shadow. Since you’re not at a track, trail running intervals don’t need to be structured as exact distances or times. This type of random-ish unstructured interval is called “Fartlek”.

Trail Running Fartlek

Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training. The variable intensity and continuous nature of the exercise places stress on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed varies, as the athlete wishes. Most fartlek sessions last a minimum of 45 minutes and can vary from aerobic walking to anaerobic sprinting. Fartlek training is generally associated with running, but can include almost any kind of exercise. From Wiki

I ran out 2.1 miles, my half-way point and rested for a minute and took some pictures. I started down, and felt like I was flying. I did a somewhat long trail running interval, and walked down till my heart rate was below 130, then took off flying again. Usually in winter trail running I slog along and just enjoy the scenery. I again set my distance target to various appealing looking sticks or trees or shadows or rocks. It was a struggle to get there sometimes, but it’s great mental discipline.

Trail Running at Keystone Gulch Road
Trail running turnaround point at 2.1 miles surrounded by snowcat tracks

I continued my trail running intervals to my “targets” and walking till my heart rate descended below 130 till I got to the gate. There were a couple guys skinning-up their skis, and someone walking a big dog. I walked past them so I wouldn’t scare them. My heart rate got below 120 for a couple minutes. I took off again on the ice-covered road to the parking area. I felt great. Since I set my new goal to do the Uber Rock 50k trail run in Vail this coming September I’ve adjusted my training program into something like “40 weeks to an ultra”. Trail running 30 miles up and down the mountains between Vail and Minturn will require that I be in the best of shape for it. I learned that in Aspen Backcountry Marathon in 2011. I survived. That about sums it up.

trail running stats on a gps hrm watch
Stats from my Polar RS800cx

Above is the result of my winter trail running fartlek session, via my Polar RS800CX GPS G5 Heart Rate Monitor. Oddly the intervals are mostly fairly regular. I didn’t do that intentionally. According to the Google Earth elevation profile I did 560′ up and down. I take into account stats from both Polar and Google. One is based on atmospheric pressure, the other on waypoint interpretation.

The temperature was about 15 degrees F, but in the sun it felt warm and in the shade cool. For winter trail running you have to dress for both the fast and slow portions of your run. You should feel a little bit warm while fast, and a little cool while slow. I had dressed for a slow trail running session, so I was really warm during the speed intervals. It was a bit too cool to unzip during them though. If you choose to go trail running in the winter, please be careful, dress appropriately to your own metabolism and running goals, and consider wearing spiked shoes or some detachable traction device.

Trail Running in Winter at Keystone

Trail running in the winter can be exhilarating and quite an adventure. It’s one of my favorite activities. I love to run in the Winter in Keystone Colorado at 9300′ or more in elevation. One of my favorite trails to run on is the Keystone Gulch Road. This is the access for snowcats and snowmobiles to the back lifts of Keystone Resort. Normally the road is packed down by the constant daily snowmobile traffic, so it’s easy enough to run in spiked shoes. I had done Gray’s Peak with a friend on Saturday December 29 on a very cold day. My Polar Graph showed that I should have about five days of rest. Today, January 1 was a whole new year, right? I decided a mild bout of winter trail running should be fine.

Trail Running in Winter clothing and gear
Trail Running Winter Clothes and Gear

Trail running this winter morning would be probably the coldest I’ve done. When I started it was zero degrees Fahrenheit out. That’s cold. I’ve run at 5 degrees before. I’ve done the 14ers at below zero. Then you’re moving a lot slower and can wear and carry more emergency gear. I decided on my new Sporthill pants, which did pretty good at 5 degrees the other day. I decided against base layers. I wore a Patagonia fleece hoodie as my next-to-skin layer. Experimenting. I wore a thin waffled fleece over that, then a thin wind shell with breathable panels. I wore my classic favorite TNF running beanie on my head. I’ve grown to like my Injinji liners and Smartwool Men’s PhD Mountaineer Crewsocks as cold weather running footwear. For my hands I decided to experiment with my Burton touch-screen liners under my REI Winter Biking Lobster gloves.

Trail Running on Keystone Gulch Road

Trail Running in the Cold behind Keystone Resort
Trail Running in the Cold behind Keystone Resort

I started my HRM/GPS watch in a parking lot near the entrance to Keystone Gulch Road. The road can be pretty bumpy and has space for only a few cars. Warning: park at your own risk wherever you decide to park since most of this is resort property. I walked quickly up the road swinging my trekking poles, Black Diamond Compactor Ski Poles. Today my goal is to run/walk intervals working on improving my turnover rate (foot strike speed) by making smaller faster steps. I also am going to work on syncing my pole swing with my steps to increase the number of steps per pole swing.

At the gate, just up the road a short bit, I tapped my lap counter and took off running slowly uphill. I worked my way up the Gulch Road with what I interpreted as fairly even run/walk intervals. After a while I decided to do some trail running hill repeats on a particularly pleasant grade. Usually you run up and walk down, or walk up and run down, depending on your training goals. Today I’m running down, quick turnaround then up. I paused at the top for a minute to catch my breath, then repeated it.

Trail Running Hill Repeats in Winter with Poles: Video

When I was done I gathered up my camera and took off trail running in the snow uphill again. The sun was pretty, and the wind was light. Bright flashing crystals of snow blew off the pine trees. I kept up the run/walk intervals for about an hour of total time.

Trail running in winter along the Keystone Resort back side
Making snow at Keystone Resort on North Peak

I had hoped to get to the base of North Peak, near the LaBonte’s Cabin area. I’ve been there a few times for trail running on this road. It’s about three miles from the gate. Today my face was getting really cold and I decided three miles from the parking lot was a good enough turnaround point. I was using my backpack for training and to carry water. I was using my Flexline Hydration system with a Platypus Bladder inside the insulated sleeve of my Marmot Kompressor backpack. I also have my GoLite Bitterroot down jacket for just in case. Smart when it’s at zero degrees.

winter trail running on the snowcat tracks at keystone
View looking down on myself and the snowcat tracks I ran on

On the way downhill I worked to stay around an 11:00 minute mile pace. The footing was rough, between the tracks of a snowcat and multiple snowmobiles passing up and down the road all day. It varied with ice chunks, chopped snow, ice sheets, and narrow gullies between the paths. I can sustain an 8:20 pace on nice dirt trails, but chunky snow is totally a different trail running surface. I had to take a couple of walking intervals but tried to keep them short, drinking from the Flexline tube at each one to stay hydrated. Since the whole run would be less than two hours it wasn’t worth eating. YMMV. Remember that one key to success in using a bladder system at this cold a temperature is to totally blow all the water out of your tube between each drinking session. Short frequent drinks are better than longer drinks at longer intervals. If ice does start to build up you will suck it out of the tube more often and keep it clear with more frequent drinking.

One of my favorite trail running roads at Keystone Resort
Looking down the road at Keystone Gulch behind Keystone Resort

As I got further and further along I had to take more frequent and longer walking breaks. I finally got to the gate and hit my lap counter again to mark it. I ran quite fast down the road, crossing the street carefully, then walked to cool down to the parking lot. My face felt pretty windburned, and when I got home my nose hurt quite a bit when it thawed out. I recommend sealing your nostril skin surface with chapstick when you go out in this level of cold. I will do that next time for sure.

Winter Trail Running: My Stats

I checked the stats on my Polar RS800CX and found that I had spaced out my intervals pretty decently. I had maintained a good pace, especially on the way downhill. I also looked at my heart rate zones and found a good spread, pretty full in the upper middle, where I want it right now. It was a good way to train my last day in Colorado for this trip.

trail running polar graph with elevation, heart rate, and pace
My Polar Graph with elevation, heart rate, and pace from my trail running adventure

If you decide to try trail running in the Winter, I highly recommend you break into it slowly. If you’ve never run outside before, or on uneven surfaces, it might not be a good idea. It’s going to be cold, and if it’s windy, miserable for most people. Wear the appropriate clothing, and try to avoid sweating if you can. It’s best to be slightly cool rather than slightly hot.

Winter Trail Running heart rate distribution graph courtesy of Polar
Polar heart rate zone distribution for this winter trail running adventure

Above all, stay safe, stay warm, and remember that trail running below freezing can be fun 🙂

Winter Trail Running in Colorado

Winter Trail Running is one of my favorite training routines. I love the cold air. I love the snow underfoot. It’s much softer than running on pavement. This morning it was 2 degrees F in Keystone Colorado. I had some other things to do, or I would have run first thing in the morning.

My 12 year old son wasn’t up for Winter Trail Running, but decided to go snowshoeing instead. I gave him a little head start. After a while I started up the road behind Keystone Resort in Colorado. The Ski Patrol uses this road to haul injured skiers down to meet the ambulance. Sure enough at the gate to the road an ambulance waited. About a quarter mile up the road I stepped to the side to allow the snowmobile to pass. There was an injured skier in the sled, with red and blue lights flashing.

For Winter Trail Running you have to experiment a lot with clothing and shoes. I try to dress as lightly as possible. This afternoon it’s about 15 degrees, but the sun will be going behind the ridge soon and the temperature will drop. I’ll also spend some time walking with my son. My plan is to run and walk in intervals. The Polar Graph shows my intervals best in the heart rate zone lines.

For my Winter Trail Running, actually any trail running, I like to wear my Polar RS800CX GPS G5 Heart Rate Monitor. I like the graphing functions in Polar ProTrainer, and export the data to Google Earth so I can see it from a very different angle. Using the Polar WebLink software I can upload my data to PolarPersonalTrainer.com but that’s very clunky. I only do that to add my Training Load data. That way I can plan my intensity of training for the next few days to ensure proper recovery.

Winter Trail Running Clothing

Today for winter trail running I wore a thin long sleeve training tee as a baselayer. Over that I wore a thin zipper hoodie. For my outer layer I wore a windproof winter training jacket. I wore a thin beanie from TNF, and in the shadow of the setting sun, I flipped the hood up. For gloves I wore a pair of REI winter cycling gloves with the lobster configuration, since my hands were a bit cold last year in my fleece gloves.

My lower body winter trail running choice was a single layer loose winter tight by Sporthill. I’ve never worn it before so it was a bit risky. It felt just a little warm in the sun, and just perfect in the shadows. On my feet I wore a pair of Injinji liners under a pair of Smartwool PHD thick mountaineering socks. They fit just perfect in the Salomon Men’s Spikecross 3 CS Winter Trail Running Shoes. I wore these on my hike up Quandary last winter. They have sharp square rubber lugs on the sole and steel spikes that stick in the ice. Tip: don’t put them on and walk on your tile or carpet if you can help it. They’re also noisy on asphalt.

Everything worked fine. I did sweat a little bit, and it got chilled a lot during those times I walked with my son. As soon as I started moving I warmed up again quickly, so I think it was a good balance. The shoes worked good, and my feet were never cold. These are very thick socks though. One thing I noticed is that these shoes do have a bit of a heel, and it’s very stiff. If you’re used to flatter, or more cushioned shoes it will take a bit of effort to stay forward on your toes. Especially on the downhills.