I've been gradually upping my running lately, and my body has been responding nicely. So far, the best I can do without getting that run down/sick mono feeling is to run 2 days on, 1 day off, but I can usually lift weights in my off day, so I'm managing to be pretty active without any noticeable side effects. Since I am very bad at holding myself back on shorter days, I'm mostly focusing on running moderately long-ish, or what I would define as such right now, (usually around 90 minutes), especially at high altitude. I've been up to Alta and Brighton quite a bit (looping between the 2 over the ridgeline between Big and Little Cottonwood a handful of times) and have had plenty of interesting experiences, such as rounding a switchback to see a black bear 20 feet in front of me, almost stepping on a porcupine, and getting lost in the dark due to a blatantly mismarked trail sign in Brighton. The proof of that one:
Thanks, whoever made this sign. (The trail to Alta/Albion Basin follows right next to Dog Lake on the left, as I finally know now).
For my short term plans, I'm going to shoot for a pretty long run on Saturday. Distance-wise, it won't be all that impressive (maybe a little under 20 miles, based on my estimates), but I expect it to take 4 hours or so due to the 8000'+ of gain (3 major climbs of 2000', plus some additional smaller stuff), all between 8500' and 10700'. This is undoubtedly a bad idea based on the fact that my body isn't quite 100% yet, but I won't have another chance to do this run without snow until next July most likely, so I'm taking the opportunity. I also just signed up to run a local 10k mountain race on the 30th. I guess it runs 1500' up a mountain in the first 5k and 900' down the other side in the next 5k. I think it's a pretty low key race, so hopefully I can avoid getting beaten too sorely without really killing myself. It's all below 7000' and never above a 13% incline, so it should be very runnable the whole way.
In more long term plans, I'm getting very gung ho about running Leadville next summer and having spent plenty of time at high elevation lately, I finally understand the DNF rate (which is around 70%). If you don't train 2 miles above sea level, running that high will absolutely crush you. I've spent the majority of my running time above 9000' (with most of my runs hitting at least 10000') and I'm still finding it to be quite a task to maintain a running cadence while traveling uphill, even at a moderately shallow 10% grade when I get close to the 2 mile elevation mark. I've bounced around a number of ideas for the Spring, but for the time being, I'm leaving it pretty open since most of the races I'm interested in have pretty late registration deadlines. I'll be running as many local low key shorter distance trail events as I can over the winter just to refuel that competitive edge. Right now, I'm very pleased with any running at any pace or effort, but as a rather competitive person, I'll want to make sure I'm racing competitively again next year, so I'll make sure to mix in lots of little 5ks and 10ks to win as many goofy prizes as I can while retooling that leg speed on the trails.
That's all for now. As a closing thought, here are a few more pictures I took about 10 days ago while running the trails between Alta and Brighton (one of which I'm definitely moving to next summer, by the way...):
Albion Basin (Alta):
Me in Albion Basin:
A rugged and nearly unidentifiable section of trail (fortunately, it's usually a lot better than this) at Catherine Pass:
Overlooking Lake Catherine with atrocious lighting (sorry, I couldn't quite convince the sun to move for this one):
Overlooking Lake Martha like a total hippie:
Slightly blurry Lake Martha: