There were definitely mixed feeling when Pete and Nick canceled Quadrock (see below!). On the one hand, this was to be my biggest, baddest training run of the season – 50 quad-busting miles on some great local trails with most of my friends and half the rest of the local trail runners in attendance. On the other hand, I’d been laid low with a wicked case of strep for a week and, though feeling better, was definitely not up for 50 miles yet, or even probably 25. Also, it was absolutely pissing down rain and had been for most of a week. Conditions would have been horrendous even by ultra running standards. The day before the race, Lory State Park closed its gates due to muddy trails, so the decision was made.
My recovery continued, but I was still out one major training piece, one I desperately need for my upcoming hundred. A week of less rain meant that the trails dried out a bit and I certainly wasn’t the only one up in Fort Collins getting in a Quadrock make-up run.
Brian, Ben and I started from Arthur’s Rock trailhead in Lory SP and ran a Quadrock-inspired course. Under beautiful blue skies, we ran up the Timbers trail and around the wonderful West Ridge and back to my car for an aid stop (ten miles) and to pick up Kevin. Then we ventured south up the soul-eating Mill Creek trail into Horsetooth Mountain Park then down the West Ridge trail (different one) past Horsetooth to the southern trailhead where Brian’s car was stocked with goodies (mile 16).
We’d somehow failed to meet up with Amy and Deb on the southern end, but caught them coming down the Spring Creek trail above the falls. They reversed course back up to the top of Towers Road (mile 20) where we got the only serious rain of the day despite continuously ominous clouds. At this point Kevin parted ways but we picked up Kristen instead. Back down Mill Creek to Arthurs and another aid stop (mile 24).
Amy and Deb headed back south at this point while Brian, Kristen and I headed back up Arthur’s Rock and around down Timber (Ben followed for a mile before cashing it in). I had a good case of sour tummy heading up the climb, but if fortunately passed after a few miles. Back at the bottom, Kristen bowed out. Brian and I hiked back to the car (mile 32).
At this point, I was feeling good. Oddly good. In any other conditions it would have worried me how okay I felt, but I embraced without asking any questions. It felt like I’d been running for about two hours, not ten. Brian was having knee trouble, so he dropped out while I milked the last of the daylight with a really quite contemplative solo effort back up part of Mill Creek (ooof!), the lovely Logger trail, then back down into the equally lovely, twilit Spring Creek trail. Horsetooth Falls, crowded with people at lunch time, was deserted now and tranquil. My high of an hour before was finally tapped and the last couple miles down to Brian’s jeep were not my strongest.
Done. 38.6 miles in 11.5 hours, my longest run since 2010 and my longest non-race run ever. I felt pretty good about my fueling and pacing throughout the day (gotta make those aid stops faster!) and discovering this zone of feeling great in the mid-30s after a bonk in the mid-20s was very heartening for what happens at much higher distances. Many thanks to the large, varying and collegial crew for simulating race conditions today.
One month to go until the big show. Two more big weekends of training, then the taper. Am I ready? Not yet. Will I be ready? There’s only one way to find out.
On another note: Quadrock has been rescheduled for June 14th. This is unfortunately only five days before the start of Bighorn. If anyone would like to take my spot in either the 50 or 25 mile versions, please let me know and it can be arranged.