Friday, November 9, 2012

The Hurt Locker

No, not the movie. I would never try and liken myself to the amazing men and women of our armed forces who put themselves in harms way to protect my freedom. I only honor them by plagiarizing the name of the movie that represents a pain and danger of my own I went through.

I recently posted that while I'm in a season of downtime I would only go out and run and push myself if it seemed fun. Well, the weather here in Salt Lake has been amazing for this late in the year and I've wanted to really take advantage of it. Monday I did my normal run with Scott up View Benchmark. While nothing special it was still amazing because it was the first week in November and we were wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

Tuesday morning rolled around and I wanted to take advantage of it being election day and things being slower at work. It hit me that I should try for a personal best on Mount Olympus, the standard route. I've hiked it many times, my fastest being with my son a year or more ago. We summited in around 2 hours and went round trip in right around 3 hours. After that day I wanted to go back and try for a fast attempt, somewhere around 2:30 round trip. My plan as I pulled up to the trailhead was to try and hit the summit in 1:45, giving myself 45 minutes to get back down. The trail is only 6.5 miles round trip, but with 4100 feet of elevation gain in the 3.75 miles to the summit you can imagine just how steep it gets.

I was able to maintain a running pace all the way to the switchbacks, at which point I settled into a power hike. I wasn't feeling like I had a lot of energy and pep in my legs, so I just pushed at what I felt was a manageably uncomfortable pace. When I got to the scramble up the gully I was able to move quicker because it's more technical and that is my real comfort zone. Shockingly, I hit the summit in 1:23. I wasn't going for a fastest known time, so I stopped my watch, took a few pictures, and enjoyed the views and solitude as I looked out over the Salt Lake valley.

Now I had a decision to make. Could I get down in 37 min and was it worth the effort and potential danger of running that fast down such a technical and steep trail. Yep, it was. I don't think I ever got into my fully 'out of control' speed, but I was moving. With 2 miles left my quads were really starting to feel it and I knew I'd pay for it the following day, but I pressed on. To my own shock I hit the bottom in 1:59:20, a full 30 minutes faster than my goal time. I think with more energy on the way up I could drop that time by another 10 minutes. But that will have to wait for Spring.

Wednesday I just did a short recovery run in the gully by work to loosen my quads. It didn't work.

Thursday I met up with friend and co-founder of Altra Zero Drop shoes to attempt South Thunder Mountain. We wanted to summit, then traverse over to North Thunder and back. We knew there would be wind, but were under the impression it wasn't supposed to hit for a few hours. The run up is incredible. I can't really put it into words. As we hit the summit saddle the wind really picked up and dropped the temp by about 20 degrees. When we hit the top the wind had to have been gusting upwards of 60 mph, way to strong for us to try the sketchy ridge traverse. It will have to likely wait for next summer now. Bummer. The run down was just as awesome as the trip up. We even saw mountain goats along the way. We were pushing really good and my quads were again feeling it. Thanks to both hard days I was somewhere in my 'hurt locker', but loving every minute of it. I don't know if I'd call it training, but it was a great way to spend what was probably the last day of really nice weather this year. As I write this a day later it is snowing like crazy and has already dropped over an inch in the valley. My mountains will have to be climbed in something other than shorts for the next several months.

 Golden with Bighorn peak behind

 Me running to the summit with Lone Peak behind

Golden on the summit

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