The Perfect Day
Running, Family, BBQing, and Climbing
Saturday I didn't do anything physical besides a short run in the morning, but I made up for it Sunday. Sheri, Kraig, Brook, and I all ran the Colorado Half Marathon. Sheri and I ran it as part of our training for the Nov. 8th San Antonio Marathon. Our goal was to do it under at 7:30/mile pace. Kraig's goal was a 6:30/mile pace and Brook's was 9:00/mile. Sheri aggressively weaved her way through the early crowds and left me behind. I mostly caught up by the end of the first mile, which was downhill and 7:14. The course was at the Cherry Creek Reservoir and had hills on miles 4-8. We settled into a more relaxed pace and ran a 7:34 second mile. A little too relaxed. Sheri and I ran mostly together until the 4th mile when Sheri surged out to a substantial lead. I just tried to maintain a good pace. The hills made for some erratic miles and I did the 3rd through 7th miles in: 7:19, 7:06, 7:13, 7:21, 7:00. The seven minute mile in the 7th mile was enough for me to pull back even with Sheri. Earlier we had cheered Kraig on as he had already made the turn and was heading back (this is an out-and-back course). I told Sheri and we should see Brook around the 8 mile mark for us, but we saw her much earlier. Brook was at least a minute or two ahead of her pace half way into the race. Brook and I slapped high fives as we passed each other.
The 8th mile ends with the longest, toughest hill in the race. I inadvertently gapped Sheri on this hill. Having lost to her in our last 10k race when she came from behind to dust me in the last three tenths of a mile, I didn't want a repeat performance. But my plan was to try and open up a gap at the 10 or 11 mile mark. At 8 miles it was too early, yet I didn't want to give back my gains. I was committed and pressed hard for the next few miles. I ran the 8th mile in 7:34, but this was the hard hill. The 9th through 11th miles were 7:07, 7:04, and 7:08. I had two miles to go, but I was hurting and had a side cramp. I stole a glance over my shoulder and knew I had a good gap on Sheri, but I couldn't falter. I ran the 12th mile in 7:00, but now I am hurting badly. I ran down a few more runners, but get passed by two guys looking too strong to go with. The 13th mile is 7:09 and I finish with a personal record of 1:34:34 (7:13/mile average pace)! I'm excited. This is well under our goal pace and gives me confidence that a 3:30 marathon is possible. Sheri finished only 40 seconds back, but over 10 minutes off her amazing PR of 1:23. Kraig set a PR of 1:25:?? and got just under his goal of 6:30/mile. This was an amazing performance as his longest run all year was only 7 miles! The guy is an animal! Sheri and I walked back to cheer Brook on. She just missed her ultimate goal of breaking 2 hours, finishing in 2:01:20. This was a 14 minute PR for her! Awesome job, Brook!
We headed home to play with all the kids at my Mom's house. I played countless games of hide-and-seek-and-then-chase. It was a blast. Then we headed home for a BBQ lunch on the back deck. The weather was so beautiful, but I was tired and left a message with the Trashman that I'd rather just blow off climbing that afternoon. When the Trashman called back, he would have none of it and I agreed to meet him at the Bell Buttress in Boulder Canyon in 45 minutes.
I was right on time, but no Trashman. After 15 minutes of waiting I decided to just head over and scope out the climbs. I crossed the road, and then the stream before hiking up to the base of the route. This is a great time of year to climb at the Bell Buttress since you can't cross the stream (Boulder Creek) in the spring or summer because it is running too high. The afternoon sun was on our routes of choice: West Face (a crack route) and West Crack (a crack route also, but with more face climbing than the previous route). Just then the Trashman pulled up and I yelled down to him.
Both of these routes are rated 5.9+, but being in Boulder Canyon we were wary of the grades. "Since you were so late, I'll just take this first lead," I tell the Trashman. I selected West Face and started up the route. It didn't look too hard, but I quickly found out how wrong that assessment was. The climbing was difficult almost every step of the way. There were occasional stems in which to place gear, but the climbing was physical. I followed a flared crack in a right facing dihedral to a large roof, which I passed via overhanging rock on the left. Above here is a very hard and deceptive move. I got pumped placing the gear and trying to figure out the move, but eventually went for it. It involved fingertip matching on a marginal hold with marginal stemming placements for the feet on overhanging rock. But the kicker was that you had to lock off the hold with the left hand and make a monstrous reach with the right for a jug. This move was brutal and clearly 5.10. There was another hard section before I reached the two bolt belay stance (more of a hanging belay).
The Trashman followed in good style, making my thuggish efforts on this pitch look silly. He also found the crux move to be very difficult and though I didn't consult with him, I'd think he'd agree on 5.10b. We re-racked and he headed upwards on the second pitch. This pitch proved to be difficult to find, a little grungy, and very insecure at the crux. The rock also wasn't very good in spots. That said, following this pitch I felt there was a lot of good climbing on it. I of course didn't have the stress of leading it. This pitch is rated 5.8, but once again that seems wrong. 5.9 is closer to the mark. Though this is only at one short, scary, deceptive section. Great lead, Trashy!
We descended back to the packs. It was 5 p.m. and we debated whether to do the other route. I asked the Trashman if he wanted to lead it. "Well," he said, "that last pitched wigged me out a bit. I'm not sure." I offered to lead it since it was really my turn to lead anyway and he accepted. Having found the West Face route (only six feet to the right of West Crack) to be so challenging, I was a bit concerned how hard this route would be. The hard climbing starts with a layback up to a great jug. The climbing on this pitch is stellar! And it actually is a 5.9+! A little bit of everything on it: fingerlocks, liebacking, hand jams, face holds, stemming. Great stuff and highly recommended. West Face is also great, but considerably harder. This time we rapped off and were driving down the canyon by 6 p.m. What a great day!