On Tuesday, Christie and I decided, after our normal morning routine (me drinking coffee and typing from 5:15-6:45 … Novi interrupting me…and then discussing ‘theology time’ as a family on the couch while our baby opens cupboards and does laps up and down the hallway until nature calls for everyone) that it would be fun to go ‘check out Mt. Massive.’
Usually, a run for me is 60-70 minutes, and it hardly varies from that, but I had this feeling that if, mid-climb, I felt good, I’d just go for the top. Or maybe I’d turn around. Or maybe I’d at least make it to the ridge. So, that was my commitment level …
We got to the trailhead around 9, right as a couple — dressed in real running shorts — was jogging out to apparently do the same thing I was doing. Now, I knew that if I came upon them on the trail, it would be necessary to get all the way to the top. Or at least die trying.
Christie, Novi and Ajee started their hike a few minutes after I sped off. Actually, I didn’t really “speed” anywhere. I started pretty conservatively. The first mile is a bit of a jolt, but I didn’t stop…it was around 10 minutes. The next mile was surprisingly flat and actually even a little downhill. I was sort of baby jogging, partly to recover and pace and partly because I was already nervous I had missed my turn. I hadn’t analyzed the map in advance, other than that I knew it was about 6.5 miles one way and eventually I would turn off the Colorado Trail to get to Mt. Massive.
Looking back, I think if I had known how runnable miles 2-3 were, I would have tried to hammer those. I passed the couple around 1.5 miles.
At about 32 minutes, I had 5k under my belt and was heading up the Mt. Massive trail. It got much steeper to the treeline, which appeared suddenly. I had to walk for 30-60 seconds around 37 minutes and then again at 44 minutes. At that point, I still was hoping that I could run for an hour.
Through 45 minutes, I had walked for under 2 minutes, but in the next 15 minutes, I would walk for at least half of the time. Again, if I had scouted this, I would have not event bothered to try running. This was definitely power walking.
I hit 8k at 57 minutes – I remembered that split. Then, I made it my goal to see if I could get another kilometer before 1:10 and then the last kilometer by 1:20. At that point, if I was close, I’d maybe go for the summit. Otherwise, I didn’t want to keep Christie worried. The plan before leaving was, “start to worry if you haven’t seen me in three hours.”
I reached the ridge at 1:21 – and the view stopped me in my tracks. I looked for 30 seconds, deciding what to do next while soaking in the reward from my efforts. Then, I decided to push for 10 more minutes. If I was at the summit, great, if not, oh well…I could come back another time I suppose.
The last .5 miles is very much a scramble; you can’t really go fast. In fact, the trail is hard to see at times. I definitely got lost and had to back track. Exposure? Not really. Epic views? Totally. I saw a couple of mountain goats near the summit and remembered Ajee….I was grateful she wasn’t with me. At the top, I was starting to feel chilled. I wore my short running shorts, and that was it. No shirt, gloves, water, food – nothing. This was, afterall, just going to be a ‘normal’ run.
At the top, two ladies who were either my age or a few years younger, were eating lunch. I took a few photos of them in exchange for them taking a shot of me and messaging Christie. This type of communication is why our marriage is so successful.
Then, after maybe spending 3 minutes total at the top, I turned around, stuck my face to the ground, and focused on descending without rolling an ankle. I got to the ridge at about 1:44 (total time) and then ran from there back to the bottom, which I reached in 2:47.
Coming back down, the best part was the expression from the running couple I had seen start at the bottom just 5 minutes before I did.
After I greeted them with an encouraging, “Hey guys!” the girl said, almost with disgust, “No water? Food?”
And in my head, the Common Man’s “YOU. ARE. CORRECT, meboy” hopped into my self-talk and became the mantra for the next 45 minutes.
I will say, I knew that if I could keep it under 3 hours, I’d be fine from both nutrition and hydration standpoints. However, this was definitely near the limit. The sheer effort going up and the duration coming so close to 3 hours meant that about 1.2 miles from the finish, I started to feel a bit parched. If I had needed to run 5 more miles, I would have been in trouble, no doubt. Luckily, I knew I’d be fine for the next 8-9 minutes, and I was.
My quads killed – basically for the last 5 miles! The downhills really wreck those. I iced in the river immediately after finishing, guzzled a gatorade, and drove home. That afternoon, I biked for an hour at a level 0.34 effort before wrapping myself up in sweatpants and eating a nice dinner, or two….or maybe three…
The next day, my quads still hurt, but I was able to do a shakeout 6.5 mile run. The following day, they still were sore, but I started with an hour and 45 minute skate ski at a pretty easy but steady effort.
I would like to think that if I really focused on this, I could maybe split 1:26-1:28 on the ascent, fairly easily. I think with some dedicated training, maybe the 1:23 record is possible. But, I don’t have much experience with uphill FKT’s … maybe trying to cut 10 minutes off a time is insane.
Either way, it was a fun way to bag my first 14er in Lake County. Keep on striving, keep on skiing!
– Team SederSkier