Monday, March 24, 2014

Week Ending March 23

Mon - AM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. I felt surprisingly spry and unscathed from Saturday's racing action, so enjoyed a springy jaunt up the mountain.
PM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Retraced my steps from the morning. Found myself on the summit without remembering how I got there. I love how the miles melt on familiar terrain when you're lost in thought.

Tues - AM: 10 miles intervals. The winds were absolutely screaming when I woke up this morning, which made the prospect of trying to run fast at City Park seem somewhat ridiculous, but it's almost April and every workout counts now. Not surprisingly, there were just a handful in attendance at the appointed hour. But any and all company was appreciated. On the docket for this morning was: mile, broken 1.5 mile (3 x 800 on 15 second cruise between 8s), mile, broken 1.5, mile.  Still in the recovery period from Salida and with the troublesome spring winds, I didn't want to force the issue, so largely ran these at a comfortable tempo-type effort: 5:50, 2:53, 2:52, 2:51, 5:34, 2:51, 2:49, 2:45, 5:22.
PM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Got out late in the day for another lap to the top of Horsetooth (66). The winds had subsided a bit, but were still gusting substantially on top.

Weds - Noon: 7 miles (1,800') easy. My right knee felt a little awkward (read: it hurt) after yesterday's workout/Saturday's race, so I laced up my new Altra Olympus kicks for today's run. The Olympus is Altra's newly released offering in the maximal shoe department and - as promised - the shoes deliver serious cushioning. Not sure I'd race these aggressively on technical trail, but boy oh boy do they help take the load off aching joints for the day-to-day outings. With it being a gorgeous day in the middle of spring break, it was no great surprise to see the park packed, so I went up via Southridge/Audra, which is reliably the least crowded way up the mountain. I think my neighbors got the memo too, as I saw no less than three friendly faces (five if you count dogs) from the 'hood. Just two short patches of snow left. SPRING.

Thurs - AM: 7 miles (1,800') steady. I bailed late Wednesday night on meeting the group for the usual Thursday AM tempo session down on Centennial. Ostensibly, I bailed because I didn't want to push things with my knee, but I think I was just using that as an excuse to grab some extra zeds and avoid visiting the pain cave so early in the morning. Of course, I woke up, laced my sneaks and the knee felt great with the mega-Olympus cush. Guilt ridden, I made myself work the hill. I don't usually like to do workouts on Horsetooth; it's the place I go to jog and reflect, so panting up the hill always feels a little awkward. Nonetheless, it felt great this morning to inject a little effort into my daily routine, get to the summit in a jiffy and then get on with things for the rest of the day. Maybe I'll give my Horsetooth PR a run one of these days; it's been a couple of years since I put a truly hard effort in on the hill.
PM (1): 5 miles (1,500') easy. Parked at the Horsetooth TH and jogged a nice casual summit lap before heading into town to run the Fort Collins Trail Runner social at Pineridge. Legs felt great and the weather was beautiful. So good.
PM (2): 5 miles easy. A nice trundle with friends at Pineridge. Been a while since I've done this one.

Friday - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth (70) summit. A crisp, but sunny morning jog with Danny. The pins were a little tired to get going but warmed up nicely by the time we were halfway up the hill. Bumped into Josh Holer at the top and ran back down with him.
PM: 5 miles (1,500') easy. Horsetooth up and down at a super casual effort. Snow's supposed to fly tonight. Didn't much feel it in the air. I'm guessing no.

Saturday - 20 miles (5,000') easy. 3:20. Did the classic Horsetooth (71) - Arthurs loop with Josh, Jason and Burch. I was wrong about the snow, it was coming down the whole time we were out; nothing crazy but there was an inch or two on the ground by the time we were done, making things a little slippery in places. Went: Southridge, Rock, Summit, Westridge, Secret, Mill Creek, Howard, Summit, Arthurs, Valley, Sawmill, Herrington, Spring Creek, Falls, Reaper. We kept things light and easy the whole way around to make sure we were saving something for the big Sunday serving.

Summit 1: Horsetooth
Summit 2: Arthurs. Clark, J. Arthur, Burch, Ostram.
PM: 2 mile hike (600') with the kiddos down to the waterfall. Stella made it pretty much the whole way there and back. Next goal: Horsetooth summit.

Sunday - 37 miles (6,900') long. 5:52. Out with the same crew as Saturday for the fourth rendition of Alex May's (of 30:01:31 Western States fame) March Mileage Madness run, a circumnavigation of Horsetooth Reservoir in celebration of spring. Last year we were nipple deep in snow on top of Horsetooth Mountain; this year we didn't have much more than a couple of inches, but it was consistent through the hills, giving way to slop down low. We started out at an easy effort and kept it in gear the whole way round. The route took in both Horsetooth and Arthur's summits, taking the perimeter trails around the park on the west side of the reservoir. Really pleased with how good my legs felt the whole way around, especially on the tail end of a big week and building off a strong race at Salida the weekend prior. Finished things off with a nice pick up in pace over the last five or six miles on Shoreline, Centennial and Pineridge. Josh took a hard digger with a mile to go (on the least technical section of trail covered all morning), so we shut things down there and jogged it in back to Alex's for beers, burgers and banter.

Ostram picking up his Arthurs summit, 20 miles into the morning.
Total: 126 miles (26,300')

Big week and big weekend in the books. Big-boy pants are officially on. With just five weeks until the UTMF 100 in Japan, I'm starting to feel like I may just be rounding into something approaching 100-mile shape. Unfortunately, I am going to have to sacrifice running hard at Lake Sonoma in three weeks, and run it - rather lamely - as a 'training race/run.' Lucky for me though, I still have the okay to head out to Healdsburg to enjoy one of the best trail racing weekends on the domestic calendar. I've taken a few notes out of Tropical John's playbook when it comes to putting on my own races. Hint: a well-marked course on awesome trails with good post-race food and ample, tasty adult beverages go a long way to making runners happy.

Speaking of which, we are now down to less than 30 spots remaining for Quad Rock. We're super excited to be hosting 350 runners, our biggest field yet, with stellar fields in both the men's and the women's races. Check out the fields here, and get signed up sooner rather than later. With the final price increase due to go into effect at the end of the month, we expect to be sold out within the next week.

And, hey, if you're thinking about trail racing action for late summer, then registration for the always popular Blue Sky Marathon and Black Squirrel Half go live April 1. Click the links on the top right of the sidebar for info on those. Register for both - the Black and Blue Double - for just $99. Best racing deal in town, and hey, we don't cut corners.

You might also notice a new sponsor logo up there on the sidebar. Yup, I'm honored and excited to be representing Altra ZeroDrop footwear for the 2014 season. Raced in the Lone Peaks at Salida and have been pounding out long mileage in the new Olympus maximal-style shoes for the last couple of weeks. The Olympus have reportedly been flying off the shelves since their launch this month, so get 'em while you can! My knees thank me every time I slip them on.

And finally, if you made it this far and just can't get enough of my drivel, then go listen to even more over at Ultrarunner Podcast.
The uber-popular Altra Olympus. Flying off the shelves right now. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Salida Marathon 2014

It's a short three-hour drive from Fort Collins to Salida, a trip that takes driver and passenger through classic Colorado country, and one that never gets old. You roll up through the Denver foothill towns of Conifer and Bailey, give a nod to the somewhat incongruous hillside Jesus statue at Camp Santa Maria as you make your way up to Kenosha Pass, before crossing the Colorado Trail and dropping into the high and huge South Park Basin, which encompasses a massive 1,000 square feet all at approximately 10,000 feet above sea level.

It's a harsh environment and this year the snow fences to the west of Highway 285 are completely buried, a sure sign that it has been a cold and wet winter in the Colorado Rockies. But the highlight of the drive for me is always the drop out of South Park into the Arkansas Valley, which is punctuated by the massive Collegiate Peaks of the southern Sawatch range.

Camp Santa Maria.
The view of the Collegiate Peaks is far better when unobstructed. 
The Arkansas Valley has its own dry and remarkably warm microclimate. It is often referred to as the Banana Belt of Colorado. The rolling hillsides covered in scrubby pinon and juniper for some reason remind me of childhood summer vacations to Forna, a small village just inland from the Mediterranean coast near Valencia, Spain. An old Moorish castle sits above the village on a hill covered in similarly scrubby vegetation. The trek up to visit the castle would always be a highlight of those trips.

Forna Castle. 
So anyway, it's always good to be back in Salida enjoying what fees like a late winter mini vacation.

The family couldn't make it out this year, so I opt for the budget-friendly pad in the back of the Xterra for the weekend's accommodations. As I make my way to Safeway for donuts and coffee early on race-day morning I bump into Joe GFM, who'd be dwelling a few alleys down from me that night, and we catch up with one another's goings on before heading down to the rail yards under clear, but slightly parky skies.

Paul Hamilton was a name on the start list that I was looking forward to racing, so I was slightly disappointed not to see him on the line as we got underway. I'd figured he'd be in contention and would help push the pace along, but as it turned out it would be just me and Josh Arthur off the front once we started climbing.

The first two miles at Salida are always a fun time. It's a casual two mile loop to and from the start to space the race out before hitting singletrack. The banter is always good and offers a chance to catch up with folk that you haven't seen all winter. Timmy Parr, a regular and multi-time winner of the race, has moved to Leadville I learn. It's been a tough winter up there at 10,000 feet and he talks of having not much more than the roads around the Fish Hatchery to run on.

After the warm-up lap, I decide that I'm going to go about setting the pace up the switchbacks that lead to the wonderful snaking, rocky contour trail of the new course. I want to avoid the slow start of last year so I can run an honest marathon effort the whole way around. Once we get up to elevation, I'm surprised that it's just me and Josh. The pace feels right, nothing crazy. We shoot the shit for a bit, chat about Altra Zero Drop, both of us now sponsored by the aggressive start-up out of Salt Lake, before slotting into a good rhythm that we'll hold for the rest of the race.

We spit out onto the Ute Trail at a little under 59 minutes, but neither of us can remember what the split was from last year. I'm pretty sure we're ahead of it as we find our stride up the railroad-graded dirt track. This is always a tough section of the race. The grade is fairly mellow at about 300 feet per mile, but given the awesome footing you really have to stay on the gas to make the most of it. If you hit it too hard though your back 13 miles is going to be miserable.

Josh and I run stride for stride the whole way up to the turnaround at 9,000 feet (1:34), dropping off our bottles at the aid station along the way and getting them back refilled on our way back down. As we make the turn onto the rugged jeep track section of the back half of the course, we quickly realize that conditions are improved versus last year. There isn't a great deal of snow on the ground and a set of tire tracks has packed things down decently where there is. We have to negotiate some ice and tricky cut up snowy sections along the way, but it doesn't cost us a lot of time.

Again, we stay stride for stride as we make our way back to town, both seemingly comfortable at the pace we're setting. We alternate in the lead, until finally with perhaps eight miles to go and a half mile before the precipitous descent to the mile 20 aid station, I decide to push the pace along just a little harder. I don't look back until the aid, and am massively surprised not to see Josh. I think I've done enough in those couple of miles to seal the win and settle into a significantly easier rhythm. That, as it turns out, is a big mistake. A mile later, on the switchbacks up the final climb of the race, as we start to pass half marathoners I am shocked to look back and make direct eye contact with Josh.

By the top of the climb, Josh is back on me, and I'm starting to feel beginner cramps in my hamstrings. A mile later and I'm surprised that Josh hasn't gone by me yet, as I know the pace isn't what it was just four or five miles ago, but he seems content to settle in. The half marathon traffic is pretty thick at this point and there's a lot of weaving going on. I figure Josh will wait until we spit out onto the doubletrack four miles from the finish to make his move. I'm right. But I've still got a little something left in the tank.

Once Josh assumes the lead, the pace is all of a sudden at the top of end of what I'm still able to push out, but I can still hang. However, on the last mile of the descent down to the rail yards, Josh is able to get a slight gap that I can't quite cover. With a half mile to go, he has maybe 10 seconds on me. We're now on the flats and running into a strong headwind for these last few meters and I can sense that Josh is starting to tie up, so I hit the gas for one last push, cutting the gap in half but ultimately running out of real estate.

I look at my watch and I see a new PR in the digits. This, in my 40th year and sixth time running the race, is something of a surprise. But a welcome one.

The post-race scene is as fun as always. Bill Dooper has enjoyed spectating the race, getting to all the aid stations along the way, and he is full of his usual banter. He tells me that it's mine or Dylan's year at Western States in 2014. I nod. Yeah maybe. I'm as fit as I've ever been at this stage of the game, so why the hell not?

Six Years, Six Podiums. Artwork by race RD Jon McManus.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Week Ending March 16

Mon - Noon: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Ran up Horsetooth with Danny on a pair of pins that felt super spry. Gliding.
PM: 4 miles easy. Jogged for half an hour on the Mason Trail while Alistair was at soccer practice.

Tues - 10.5 miles intervals. With the Salida Marathon coming up on the weekend, I kept this one light. Workout was: mile, 800, 800, mile, 800, 800, 2 mile. Splits: 6:18, 2:54, 2:50, 5:57, 2:57, 2:50, 11:58. Had planned on getting out for a bit of a jog in the afternoon, but the weather was so cataclysmic I didn't force the issue.

Weds - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Jogged out a casual Horsetooth summit on my lunch break.
PM: 6.5 miles (800') easy. Snuck out for a twilight spin on the Milner Mtn loop, enjoying the killer south-side views of Horsetooth; perhaps my favorite vantage point.

Thurs - AM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Jogged a super easy Horsetooth summit in place of my usual Thursday AM tempo session in a continued bid to give the legs a break before Salida.
PM: 8 miles (1,800') easy. Pushed out an easy effort up Towers in 34:30, which was surprisingly fast given the distinct lack of effort. Always a good sign. This was the first daylight Towers TT of the year, which brought out a solid 25+ runners.

Fri - AM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Super easy Horsetooth summit with Danny before heading out to Salida in the afternoon.

Sat - AM: 28 miles (3,800') race. Salida Marathon in 3:06. This was my sixth running of the Salida Trail Marathon, on the slowest iteration of the course, and low and behold I managed to pick up a PR. Ran pretty much in lockstep with Josh Arthur the whole way round, which was probably the main reason I was able to stay solidly on the gas for the duration. Gave up the win in the last mile, being out-kicked by five seconds, but hey, a PR at the age of 39. Yeah, I'm not complaining.

Collegiate Peaks money shot across the Arkansas Valley. 
Sun - 6.5 miles (1,500') easy. Jogged a few super light miles with Abby on the Columbine/Rainbow trails under Methodist Mountain at the northernmost terminus of the 250-mile Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range. I was nursing a pretty serious hangover, but the gorgeous weather and mellow pace helped soothe matters.

Total: 91.5 miles (15,100')

Kind of a balancing act this week. I wanted to keep on the mileage while also giving my legs a bit of a rest before heading out to Salida to race, so I basically bagged the workouts for the week. Unfortunately Sunday was a bust due to an overzealous Saturday night, so I didn't quite hit the triple digits I wanted, but I think I'm big enough and wise enough now not to sweat such trivialities. Three years ago I would have made sure to find the extra 8.5 miles.

The race itself turned out to be a two-man affair and while it was moderately disappointing to not pick up the win, running a 90 second PR on my sixth crack at the course has to be considered a win. If nothing else it is a result that has given me a renewed sense of purpose with my training heading into the spring. Despite the fact that I'll be racing as a master come June, I still believe that I've got the tools - on the right day - to bring home that damn Western States Cougar. Rule number one: you've got to believe.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Week Ending March 9

Mon - AM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Markedly different conditions than the freeze of the previous two weekend days for this jaunt up the mountain. I was sweating buckets in my tights, even in the early dawn and at my usual trundle. There was still a good crunch of snow on the ground, but it was packed in enough that the ice underneath wasn't a factor. Every day I can get out on the mountain is a good one, but I'm enjoying the warmer ones just a little bit more these days.
PM: 4.5 miles (1,500') easy. Snuck in a quick lunchtime Horsetooth summit (50) to gather some inspiration for a talk I was giving later in the day for an SOS Outreach session.

Tues - AM: 9.5 miles intervals. On the docket at the cemetery for the morning was: mile, 2 x broken 1.5 mile (3x800 w/15 second cruise between each 800), mile. All on 4-5 min stationary rest between reps. Perfect morning with temps in the high 20s and a snow-free trail to run on: 5:28, 8:16 (2:47, 2:46, 2:43), 8:16 (2:48, 2:44, 2:44), 5:15. Cruised the 8s for the most part, then gave McCullough 15 seconds on the last mile to see if I could squeeze a little extra effort out of myself by chasing. Did the hard work through the first 1,200, getting on Chris's shoulder, then got kicked down as usual over the last 400. Good morning.
PM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Timed this one terribly, getting out just as the rain/sleet/snow started coming down. Rain turned to mush halfway up the mountain, then fluffy snow by the summit. Climbed up the north gap despite the wet, then got off the summit lickity split due to an eery electrical buzz circling around my head. I've been zapped by static on top of Horsetooth before, and this brought back unpleasant memories. Kinda cold and miserable coming back down, but another one in the books.

Weds - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Got out at noon and most of the snow from the night before had already melted off. Good bit of mud out there right now, but nothing a few days days of sunshine won't clear up. Super easy going up as I was feeling a little worked from Tuesday's efforts.

Thurs - AM: 11.5 miles (1,400') hill tempo. Out and back on Centennial Rd with Garcia. Huffing a bit up the hills, but felt really smooth on the flatter stuff: 7:30, 6:12, 6:40, 5:30, 4:59 = 30:51. Finished up with a mile and half cool down. Another gorgeous spring-like morning in the Fort. Getting the work done.
PM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Jogged up Horsetooth at a super casual pace, and necessarily so. Legs weren't giving me much after the morning session.

Fri - AM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth summit. Started out in the rain with Danny. The rain transitioned to snow halfway up the hill, and then didn't let up for the rest of the day. It's turning into a pretty wet winter. The snowpack for the South Platte River Basin is at 148 percent of the median right now, which hopefully means reduced risk of wildfires this summer - or at least fires in March like we had in Lory last year (followed by five feet of snow). Anyway, nice easy morning on the hill and a total sock-in on top. A rare daylight Erskine sighting on the way up. He was coming down from his 16th summit of the year, while I was heading up for number 54. I won't be beaten in 2014.
PM: 4.5 miles (1, 500) easy. Snow was ankle to calf deep by the time I got back on the hill towards the end of the day. The going was decent though, so I was able to get up and down in good time. Had a blast on the feathery descent.

Sat - AM: 24 miles (4,600') easy. Repeated the Horsetooth - Redstone - Horsetooth yo-yo from a few weeks back, tacking on a bit of extra distance by routing around Milner Mtn Rd rather than 38e to get to and from Redstone. I was the first one up the hill this morning, so aside from my tracks from late yesterday afternoon the snow was totally unconsolidated. Getting up the hill became something of a slog with the slippery, slushy, postholey footing, which set the tone for the rest of the run. Originally I had wanted to inject some speed on the six miles of rolling dirt road up and down Redstone Canyon, but my legs were simply not interested and this one quickly became about nothing more than getting the mileage in. By the time I hit the hill for the second time, the snow had melted significantly under the bright sun, resulting in muddy and slushy conditions with intermittent postholing thrown in. I slogged my way back up, tagged the summit and then creaked down, returning home via the grim reaper on a pair of pins that were happy to be done. Not a particularly pretty outing, but it's in the books and that's what counts.

Sun - AM: 11 miles (3,100') easy. Double Horsetooth (58 & 59) via the three-way. Thought this one might be a bit better than Saturday, but alas the legs were still giving me nothing. Slogged away and got it done though. Up on Southridge/Audra, down in deep, wet snow on Wathan, then back around and up on the Rock Trail. It was absolutely gorgeous out, almost summer-like, which of course brought the hordes out. The parking lot was full and there must have been 40 cars parked up 38e. Total madness. You suffer through winter waiting for the weather to turn and then as soon as it does you begrudge everyone for being out there.

Total: 100 miles (21,100')

I was Captain Slogworthy this weekend, but that's alright. The pins go in and out as you build the spring mileage, but just so long as they're on when you need them to be - which is what the taper is all about - then all should be well with your running world. And that's all I've got to say about that.

Really looking forward to the weekend in Salida coming up. I'm thinking the three-hour mark could be in jeopardy, conditions allowing. Right now, the race is reporting a good bit of snow on course, and while most of that will melt out by the weekend, I'm still expecting the usual mix of snow, slush and slop up high, with largely dry trail below 8,000'. Pretty standard conditions.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Week Ending March 2

Mon - 7 miles (1,800') easy. Horsetooth north summit. Legs were pretty tired from the weekend. Kept this one super easy. Gorgeous day out.

Tues - AM: 7.5 miles intervals. Workout was 5 x 1 mile (City Park). First and last mile were steady, middle miles fartlek. Got there late so no time for a warm up, so the first couple of reps were essentially the warm up. Started on the long mile (1.02) with extra hills and alternated with the shorter route (.98): 5:50, 5:30, 5:38, 5:21, 5:33. Ran mainly with McCullough. Frozen hands in the unusually moist air.
PM: 5 miles (1,000') easy. Jogged out a Falls loop in the snow at a really easy recovery pace.

Weds - 7 miles (1,800') easy. End of day summit was showing a super thick layer of brown hanging over the Front Range plains. Nasty business.

Thurs - AM: 10 miles (1,400') hill tempo. Out for five miles easy on Centennial as usual (43:30), then back at a hard tempo effort with Jason. Just a killer morning out there today with an unbelievably colorful sunrise to the east, mild temps and no wind. It doesn't get much better. Back in 30:38, which is a bit quicker than I have been doing these, but due mainly to a bigger effort rather than miraculous fitness gains: 7:24, 6:00, 6:31, 5:42, 5:01.
PM: 9.5 miles (2,000') steady. Towers Rd. Jogged out a couple warm-up miles with Burch before heading up the hill at a reasonably steady effort. The legs felt decent after the warm-up and the 34:00 came pretty easily, which is encouraging. Need to drop the morning run one of these Thursdays and give the hill a full-on effort to get a read on fitness. No better indicator out there.

Fri - AM: 7 miles (1,800') easy. Got in a super casual morning Horsetooth summit (47) with Danny. A little stiff from Thursdays exertions, but nothing that a few easy warm-up miles couldn't resolve. The track is now 75% clear of ice, and the weather so mild that it should be close to fully clear by the end of the day.
PM: 5 miles (1,500') easy. Was back and forth on this one but finally pushed myself out the door for a quick summit (48) from the trailhead.

Sat - 20 miles (2,800') easy. The original plan was a loop of the Quad Rock course with Ostram and Andy J to map the exact route for this year's race - as there has been a slight re-route on Sawmill - but overnight ice rain with a couple inches of snow over the top left the trails in pretty treacherous shape, so we aborted at Horsetooth Upper and ran back via 38e and the valley trails, tacking on additional up-tempo road mileage at the end to at least salvage 20 from the day. A little weak to bail on the original plan, but none of us wanted to break anything with a nasty fall, so it was probably the right call. Pete got out a little later in the day to map the new section of trail on Sawmill, which cuts about a half mile off the loop versus last year and puts the full course right back where it was originally at just a few tenths - give or take - over 50 miles.

Sun - 6.5 miles easy. Got out in bitterly cold temps to mark the Tortoise and Hare 10k route in town. It was my only running window for the day, so would have to do. Unfortunately, I couldn't drag myself out of bed any earlier than 5:00 to bag extra miles, capping something of a disappointing running weekend. I was looking for 40 over the two days but ended with 26.5 miles and significantly less vertical thanks to Saturday's cop out. And so it goes.

The propane heater helped, but man it was cold this morning. Aided as always by the wonderful Hannah Eskew. 
Dave Huner sporting an immaculate ice beard.
Mine was a little more scraggly, as usual. Pics: FCRC
Maureen Hyde picked up the win for the third month in a row. 
Total: 84.5 miles (14,100')

With the exception of the weekend, which was something of a bust, this was a decent week of training. I got some workouts done and managed to find the time to get three double days in, which is where I like to be when loading the mileage. At the beginning of the week I was looking for 100+ miles, as mentally that kind of volume makes me feel like I'm properly invested in my training. But, you know, life and weather gets in the way sometimes. I'll make sure to hit the digits I want this week, though, before cutting things back a bit in the week leading up to the Salida Trail Marathon.

Salida has marked the beginning of the racing year for me for many seasons now. I know the course well, I know what kind of times I should be running, and I just love the low-key vibe mixed with the always solid competition. Speaking of which, perennial favorites and previous winners Timmy Parr and Ryan Burch will be running again this year, alongside Josh Arthur - who edged me out for the win by a minute last year - Jason Koop, Joe Grant, and young Fort Collins (now Durango) upstart Paul Hamilton, among many others. There's plenty enough competition right there to make sure this will be a proper rust-busting race effort.