My previous fastest time up the west ridge of Grandeur was a very unimpressive 1:02:00. I've always wanted to do this route in under an hour and you think it would be easy at just 2.3 miles (you read right). However, the 3200 ft of vertical gain in those short miles makes running any part of it a test of my limits. I can run the first quarter mile and then you gain the ridge. Once on the ridge there are only a couple of short spots that allow for any real running. On Wednesday I had the huge privilege of running the Grandeur Loop with Jay Aldous (he's a fairly decent runner - hehe) and his friend Mark. We took the longer way up to the ridge, which adds on a tenth or so, but we didn't notice because we were chatting. We pushed the ridge, but not hard as it was Mark's first time up that route and he wasn't feeling super fast that day. We stopped a couple of times to wait for him and for the rest of the time just kept it 'conversational' (the name I've given to my pace when I can hold a normal conversation). Once at the saddle we hit the snow, which was made for a little slow going, but overall wasn't bad. I could see the one hour mark looming, so I pushed just that much more and was able to hit the top in 59:50. Even this time isn't super impressive for most of the faster guys and I am certain I can knock off several more minutes on an all-out push, but on that day it was a milestone reached and made me very happy. The rest of the run was amazing, being able to hang out with those two guys was a real pleasure.
Summit of Grandeur Peak (photo from a previous trip)
The rest of my week was really rough from a running perspective. I didn't have nearly as much time as I would have liked and felt horrible yesterday. I wasn't sure I would get out today either, but after mowing the lawn and hearing of my friend Scott doing View Benchmark this morning I felt like I just needed to get out. View Benchmark is one of the better short distance training runs in the south end of the Salt Lake valley. At 7.7 miles and 1600 vertical feet of gain you have very runnable trails with stunning views. Then, once on top of the peak, you can see into both Salt Lake and Utah valleys, which is a real treat. My previous PR came last fall on a crisp day with very dry trails. Since then I've had a bunch of summits that just didn't offer the right conditions for a solid attempt. My previous PR of 41 min was pretty quick. It's easy to average under a 10 min/mile the first two miles, but then after that it gets steeper and harder.
After Scott's text this morning that conditions were good I hopped on the trail and immediately knew that today would be a good opportunity to push hard. Not only were the temps and trail conditions prime, but my legs wanted to move. I pushed hard to the mountain bike trail at mile 2 and then settled into a casual pace up to the View Benchmark trail. There was mud along this section which slowed me down, but it wasn't much. I have a checkpoint at the top of the mountain bike trail and today I was in good shape to get my PR. Once on the upper trails I took a new way, one that is slightly longer, but offers more runnable terrain (well, faster runnable terrain). It paid off and I was able to hit the summit in 39:30, a PR by a minute and a half. Pushing hard down the normal route I got to the bottom in a roundtrip time of 1:06:17, about a minute faster than any previous time. I collapsed in the street (a cul-de-sac) and just laid there with a smile on my face. What an awesome day.
Me on Ann's at the first of the year.
I didn't get very many miles this week, but I still consider it a big success. I hit some target milestones and feel stronger than ever. I'm looking forward to what Spring has to offer.