Saturday, July 7, 2012

Belford & Oxford in the Clouds

I've had a long hiatus from blogging, mostly because 1) I've been uber busy and blogging falls very low on the list of to-do's and 2) I haven't had much to blog about on the outdoor adventure front, which has been mostly running for the last year or so.

Since my last post many moons ago, I ran the Rudy's Boulder Spring Half Marathon at the Boulder Res.  I had a less than stellar performance, clocking 1:36 on dirt roads with 646 vertical feet of elevation gain (according to my gps).  I was actually running reasonably well until the last few miles, when my left knee just completely gave out.  It had the feeling of being loose, if that makes any sense.  Regardless, that should have been a sign of what's to come. 

In May, I headed north for this guy's inaugural trail race, the Quad Rock.  I opted for the 25 miler, which I felt reasonably prepared for.  I wasn't going into the race thinking of competing (not that I could anyway).  I really looked at it as a training run, as I hoped to throw in a road marathon later in the summer.  My GPS showed me running 25.12 miles and 6179 vertical feet in 5:04.  I felt good throughout the race, with the exception of the pounding my knees took on the descents.

That brings us to the last 2 months.  Following the Quad Rock, I felt surprisingly good.  I had little to no soreness.  I had also set a goal for myself to run every day this year.  So, the following day I went on a run with my wife.  It wasn't a hard run, but we did something like 5 miles.  The next day, Monday, I met my occasional morning running partner for a much harder effort than called for.  The following evening, I headed from the house on a casual jog and I barely made it a mile before my knees were on fire.  I decided to walk home.  Of course, I couldn't let my steak die, so I headed out the following day, with the same firing pain.  After going thru this same routine, run a mile in pain, walk home for the remainder of the week, enough was enough.  I needed some time off.  So I decided to get on the old road bike.  The pain wasn't as bad, but it was definitely not normal.  I finally decided to take a full week from running and cycling, heading to the gym for daily swimming.  After one week off, I took the next week alternating swimming and biking.

After 19 days without running, I went on a run with my wife.  It wasn't pain free, but my knees were improved.  I decided that running every day was for the birds!  I'd try to alternate running with biking, swimming, weight training, and the like in an attempt to get healthy.  So I've pretty much been on that routine for almost a month.  Before today, my longest run has been in the realm of 5.5 miles. 

That said, Thursday morning I drove my wife and daughter to the airport for some much needed rest and relation with family in Michigan, which meant I had the weekend for a mini-adventure.  After working late Friday night, I left Lyons around 7 PM and headed into the mountains.  My tentative plan was to scout Mt Belford for a company team building hike later in the summer.  Since I'm leading it this year, I didn't feel comfortable not having some experience with the trails.  I car camped Friday night, enjoying the sound of the rain pounding the window as I fell asleep.  I awoke to clouded peaks, but I thought I'd head up above treeline in hopes of bagging the peak.

My sleeping quarters for night
Mt. Belford at 14,197 fasl is quite steep in it's short 4ish mile ascent.  I headed up the trail eager as it's been far too long since I've been in the hills.  I topped off Mt. Belford just before the 2 hr mark.  Then the dilemma, should I knock out Mt. Oxford (14,153 fasl) while I'm so close!?!?  Of course.  I headed down the trail, but at a junction I was unsure of the direction.  I chose wrong, back tracked and finally made my way down the short but steep slope to the saddle between Bel and Ox.  After the bump up to Oxford and subsequently re-summitting Bel, I headed back down the mountain. 

Early on the trail, still in the valley on the runable terrain

All the peaks were socked in
 Unfortunately, my knees really flared up!  The steep descent did a number of them and by the time I was back to car they were really tight and on fire!  This was very discouraging.  I'm starting to think I should get a professional opinion.  It's been too long since I've enjoyed pain free running......I crave it. 

Regardless, it was fantastic being in the mountains.  I've missed the high peaks and it was a special treat to be up car camping in one of my favorite old spots and playing in the hills. 

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