Runtrails' Rocky Mountain Journal
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"When are you going to grow up and stop this running stuff?"
- uttered in futility by more than one indifferent relative of many ultra runners



Birthdays always make me ponder what I've accomplished and what I still want to do with my life -- even when it's someone else's birthday!

Yesterday Jim turned 59. I'm still 58, so of course I had to gently tease him about "being older" than me for another eight months until I turn 59. We're both pretty pragmatic about this aging stuff. We're both pretty much in denial about it sometimes, too! We're proud that we are "active older adults" and still healthy enough to push our bodies beyond the norm, but cognizant of the fact that we're just one serious injury or illness away from a more sedentary lifestyle.

I was amused by a post to the internet ultra list from a friend of ours from Atlanta yesterday, and the comical response by another acquaintance from Tennessee. The topic was about the common leg twitching that can result from a long or hard run.

Rich, who is a Physician's Assistant: While I agree that twitching can be a sign of a problem, I don't think it necessarily is. My calf muscles have twitched after every run much over ten miles for over thirty years now. Fast run or slow run, good day or bad, hot day or cold it makes no difference. I have researched this time and again to no avail, just seems to be one of those little mysteries of life.

At age 58, weight 140, I can leg press sets of ten at 405 lbs and run quick enough to put most folks my age behind me at the finish so I consider that good evidence that it is a benign condition.

Gary, who is also about our age and good with dead-on comebacks: "I can run" is enough to put most folks *your age* behind you at the finish. No "quick" is required. (Hell, "I can walk past the mailbox" would put most people your age behind you at the finish). As my mother asked me when I was 21, "When are you going to grow up & stop this running stuff?"

I love it! Guess Jim and I just never grew up. (Heck -- we were both about 30 when we started running.)


Today it was my turn to rest while Jim did another training run on the LT100 course. This was his third double crossing of Hope Pass. Each has been a bit different.

Looking north from Mount Hope

His first double was from the Twin Lakes parking area to Winfield and back, a distance of 22+ miles on his GPS (less than the 21 advertised miles). Double #2 was a longer run from Halfmoon Road (the Mt. Elbert trail head parking area) to the top of the pass and back to a spot on Halfmoon Road between tree line and the fish hatchery, 32 miles on our GPS.

Today Jim and Cody (who wasn't anywhere near tired from going up Mt. Massive with me yesterday!) started at the Twin Lakes parking area, went over the pass and down to Clear Creek AKA Winfield Road -- but not to Winfield -- and back to Twin Lakes for a character-building run of almost seventeen miles (16.9 on our GPS). He didn't take the camera, so photos are ones I've taken previously but not shown in the journal.

Twin Lakes from the LT100 trail

The good news is that Lake Creek is down, only to Jim's calves today and not his knees. He said the crossing was MUCH easier than the last two times. He still had to go upstream from where the race used to cross the creek (I think the race course was moved upstream last year, too). Some runners are still using the bridge a couple miles upstream to cross Lake Creek, but perhaps now they can just ford the creek on training runs before the race.

It was still deep enough for Cody to get in a good swim both directions. Jim and I have so much fun with him along. He is so obedient and friendly to other people and dogs he meets along the trail that it's a joy to run with him. And talk about sturdy . . . he wasn't the least bit tired when he came off Mt. Massive yesterday, bugging Tater and us all evening to play tug with him.

Near Hope Pass going northbound

[Oh, Cody and Tater have something else to bark at now besides coyotes -- today we spotted two foxes traipsing through Jack's property. Both dogs were off their cords "going potty" when we noticed the first one, but they didn't give chase. They barked a warning when the second one came by. They are very territorial when we're camping, protecting us from "harm."]

Timberline going southbound on Mount Hope

Back to Jim's run . . . since it was a weekday, he didn't expect to see very many other runners on the course. However, he did run into Russ Gill, co-director of the Great Eastern ultras in Virginia, who I met between May Queen and Hagerman Pass on the Colorado Trail a few days ago. He also talked to Paul DeWitt, former winner (twice?) of LT100, and met his father, Jim, on the trail today.

Descending north toward Twin Lakes through a sea of flowers

The weather was good but Jim didn't spend much time on the pass either time he crossed it today. It seems like every year during the race there is a raging storm up there with high winds, rain, and sleet or hail, but he hasn't experienced that during training. I think he wants to, in order to "harden" himself for it. The only rain he had was driving back to town. We've had rain here most afternoons or evenings since our arrival in the Leadville and Clear Creek Reservoir areas.

Jim's pleased with his run today and didn't seen unduly tired when he got back home. It took him about six hours to do the toughest seventeen miles in the race. He'd be more than pleased to run it that fast during the race (not likely, with 40 miles under his belt already).


After his 32-miler on Saturday, which included Hope Pass, Jim took two rest days to recover. On Tuesday he ran ten miles from the Fish Hatchery to May Queen, which he'll be doing in the dark (hopefully) on race day, He deliberately walked as much as he walked this section in 1999 when he finished the race.

Problem was, he got discouraged that it took him 60 minutes to get from the bottom of the infamous "Power Line" hill to the top. He thought he was supposed to do it in 45 minutes, per Dana Rouche's article several years ago about "How to Finish Leadville" in 28-30 hours. When he got back home, he read that part again and it said 90 minutes, not 45!! So doing it in an hour was significantly faster than he needs to do it in the race, assuming he gets to the bottom of the "hill" in the time he's supposed to.

Mountain bluebells after a wet night

Power Line is a challenge. It's fun to run down, but getting back UP it after running and walking for about 78 miles is tough. There are about seven false summits, for one thing. There is a really steep part near the top, for another. If it's raining, it's a bear -- very slick with water rushing down the ditches. It's dark when most of the runners climb it, and you just feel like you're never going to reach the top. So knowing that he has the freedom to climb it more slowly than he did today was reassuring to Jim.

After reaching the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, the runners come down the jeep road I showed you pictures of on July 26. That's runnable even with the rocks because it's DOWN. Hagerman Road is smooth and runnable. The two-mile Colorado Trail section is less runnable because of all the rocks and roots, but you're still going downhill. Then there's a fast half-mile road section to the Mayqueen aid station at the west end of Turquoise Lake.

Then all he has to do is run the last thirteen miles around the lake and up the Boulevard to the finish!!

If only it was that easy.


After I dropped Jim off at the fish hatchery, I drove around Turquoise Lake and got the first of two wild hairs today. We've never driven up Hagerman Road to the pass, which is seven miles from the Turquoise Lake Road. Why not see how far I could get? In the DeLorme atlas it appears the road is decent until a couple miles from the pass.

Although the road seemed pretty smooth when Jim and I ran on it July 26, there was a grader smoothing it even more. You can see a pile of dirt in the middle of the road in this photo, which is facing the pass:

I met the grader a couple minutes later. I got up only three miles to the trail head parking area for Native Lake when the road narrowed and got seriously rocky, so I turned around. Foiled.

I drove back down to the Timberline Lake trail head and got another wild hair.

Not knowing how far Timberline Lake is, I decided I'd head up that way with the dogs while waiting for Jim.  After only a quarter of a mile uphill (a bit past the Holy Cross Wilderness Area sign) I was breathing really hard and realized I had about a thousand feet of gain to hike before I'd even reach the tree line, where I assume the lake lies. I knew I wanted to climb Mt. Massive the next day, so I turned around and ran and walked on the more level Colorado Trail instead.

So much for spontaneity that day.


Before long Jim came thundering by, waving at me but not stopping. He raced down the paved road to the location of the May Queen aid station (currently occupied by the campground host) and I picked him up there. He was pleased with his run only after discovering he'd done it faster than he has to in the race -- and he walked a lot of it today, in an attempt to simulate his race time.

I think he's on track to finish this time!

He'll take another day or two to rest before his next training run, which may be a night run this weekend. I'm not sure what mine will be -- a night run with Jim? Another mountain? The track? Maybe the 11-mile Mineral Belt Trail? It's hilly but not mountainous, and I need to start some training on flatter terrain. So many possibilities . . . about time I made out a real training schedule.

Meanwhile, this town's about to bust loose with the annual Boom Days celebration beginning tomorrow (Friday) and there's a rodeo about to begin next to Jack's property. I haven't wandered close enough to see what's going on over there yet, but Jim watched a cowboy practicing roping a calf this morning as he left for Twin Lakes. Someone was out putting yellow tape around Jack's property this morning so folks can't park in the meadow where we're camped. The driveway will be roped off, too -- makes it interesting every time we drive in and out!

Stay tuned for the visitor's view of all these shenanigans.

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil