Trip Report: James Peak via Rogers Pass

How does Scott Jurek know you? ~ Bob
He doesn’t. ~ me

Bobby T, Leah, and me on James PeakWhen Tall Bob and I were sussing out this route, I had a particularly tough time finding any good beta. So I thought I’d share with a quick trip report to help those who might desire to follow in my footsteps.

James Peak is farily easily accessed from the east via Rogers Pass. This fantastic trail starts just to the north of the Moffat Tunnel at the terminus of the Tolland Road about 8 miles west of Rollinsville. Go to Rollinsville. Turn west. Drive until you see a tunnel. Easy peasy.

At the risk of giving away one of my favorite secret spots, Rogers Pass is incredible. Mostly runnable (or completely, if you are a stud), the pass travels west along South Boulder Creek through old-growth forests replete with waterfalls, wildflowers galore, and a variety of gorgeousness in which to wallow. The trail itself crosses the creek on numerous occasions and spits out right at treeline at the headwaters at Rogers Pass Lake (~4 miles). Trust me, this is worth the hike. Heart lake rests in high tundra just above and is a short push further up the pass. From Heart, follow the trail up the final pitch to the pass summit (~5.5 miles). Bask in the glory.

From the summit of Rogers, there are a number of route variations for the explorative-type but since you came here to learn about James Peak, I’ll try to stay on target. Bear left (south-ish) from the summit and you will see trail markers that will quickly guide you to the well-established route toward James. This dips along the back (west) side  of the ridge and contours southerly until it pops back out on the east side of the ridge for the final climb up to the peak’s summit (13,300′ according to Wikipedia). Reverse your steps back to the start. Good times.

My final stats for the round trip are as follows:

  • Total distance: 13.34 miles
  • Max elevation: 13,314
  • Elevation gain/loss: 4,254′
  • Crash landings: 1 (me)
  • Scott Jurek sightings: 1
  • Garmin info

James Peak Map


James Peak Profile

No Such Thing

Not “bad” meaning “bad but “bad” meaning “good”. ~ Run-D.M.C.

During my training for Leadville (the second time), I learned to appreciate any run and after a run that was less than stellar, to tell myself, “There is no such thing as a bad run.” Now this isn’t 100% accurate (Rach even pointed out, “What about the runs where people get hit by cars… or eaten by bears?”), sometimes hitting your targets is incredibly important, the sentiment itself is something which I have really taken to heart. Every run has merit and something from which you can learn and grow as an athlete. So in that regard, every time you drag your ass off the couch to log some miles, there is something to be gained.

Today’s run was a bit of a bust. I had hoped to get in 7-8 miles on the treadmill and, if I was feeling up to it, log some faster paced repeats in there as well. Yesterday’s run in the woods was fantastic. Post-run, however, I noticed a twinge in my left ankle. Running on snow packed trails can cause some irritation and ankle-twisting and apparently I had fallen prey to a minor tweak of some sort. So I tested the waters and after a mile, decided a day of rest would do me (and my ankle) some good. So I shut things down and chalked this one up in the “less-than-perfect” column.

Even on the worst of days, there is much to be learned:

  1. Listen to your body: If things seem “off” there is no shame in taking a bit extra rest. If I have learned anything over my years of regular training, it’s that there is always going to be another opportunity to get out there. And the sooner you can heal an injury, the quicker you will return to full form. Too many runners jump back into the fray too soon and end up losing WAY more time to injury than had they simply taken a couple of rest days earlier vs. later.
  2. Be happy with what you get: People get wrapped up in the “all or nothing” approach to life. Where, if it can’t be done 100%, then it shouldn’t be done at all. Needless to say, I don’t subscribe to this point of view and feel that though that may be a way to keep oneself motivated, it isn’t really practical. Life happens and some days one just can’t get the scheduled workout on the books. Be happy with whatever time you get to spend doing the activities you enjoy most. And don’t get down on yourself if things don’t go exactly to plan.
  3. Look for the lessons & stay positive: In virtually any run, there are opportunities to learn from your experience. If your legs felt “dead”, relish in the understanding that you have now experienced what it feels like to run on dead legs so it won’t phase you as much if it happens in the later stages of a race. If you just weren’t feeling it on that particular workout, take pleasure in knowing you got out there and put in some effort, even if it wasn’t your best day.

So get off the couch, get out there, and enjoy the small things if the bigger ones aren’t working for you.


Recovery: Putting yourself back together post-race

I run the marathon to the very last mile. ~ Beastie Boys

First of all, I have to say how sad I am about the death of Beastie Boy Adam Yauch (MCA). His music has been in heavy rotation in my life since 1986’s License to Ill and he will be sorely missed. As I have said before, cancer can go fuck itself.

Now on to (hopefully) less depressing topics: Race recovery. I am no expert but have learned a few tricks in the past few years about what works for me once the racing is done and your bod is in need of some TLC.

Immediately following a longer event, I am usually fairly dehydrated and my electrolyte balance is all out of whack. I sweat like it’s going out of style so even though I try to stay on top of hydration during the race, I still am depleted by the finish. Once I stop running and my heartrate starts to drop, my blood pressure crashes. The fluid level in my system is depleted and when the pump slows down, the volume of blood being delivered to my brain diminishes. Bad things can happen after that if I don’t get some fluids going. And stat. So immediately post-race, I guzzle some Gatorade, grab a couple bottles of water (or re-usable cups, if available) and I find a place to sit down if I am feeling woozy. I have also found that chips are my bestest friend immediately after a race. I think the salt and calories treat me right so I’ll whack down a couple bags of those as well. Lunch-sized bags, not Party Size, tubby.

I try to get moving again fairly quickly post-race vs. sitting for too long. If I feel well enough to jog a little, I might try that but usually I am just up for a stroll back to the hotel or shuttle or wherever I need to be next. If you have friends or family attending the event, have a place picked out to meet up since there will be hundreds of runners milling around like zombies post-event and finding your loved-ones in this mess is not happening. I have found that a couple miles is a decent distance for a post-race walk but durations may vary depending upon what works for you. If you can walk back along the course and cheer for those racers finishing after you, that is a lot of fun.

Once I get back to my room, I jump in an ice bath then follow this with a warm bath to help flush my legs. Not the most pleasant of experiences but I do find that it helps reduce the inflammation in my legs and puts me on the road to recovery. I also try to get in some decent complex carbs at this juncture to try to rebuild my glycogen stores. Lunch is usually on the immediate agenda as well, so as soon as I have cleaned up, I’ll head back out to grab some grub. I find that it helps to spend at least a little time in the afternoon with my feet up. I’ll watch a movie or read a book before heading back out for a mid-to-late-afternoon walk or celebration.

The next day:
Usually, I travel for my big races so like to spend some time post-event exploring the town. I have found that this helps get my legs moving again and greatly reduces the down-time post-event. The past three marathons I have done, I have spent a good chunk of time the following day walking or hiking in the surrounding area. Post-Boston, I walked the Freedom Trail, which was fantastic and when I was in San Fran last summer, I walked all around the area checking out the sites of Chinatown, Telegraph Hill and the neighborhoods of the Bay Area. In Eugene last weekend, I hiked a small peak south of town. Going down stairs or downhill can be daunting but it is worth it to get out to soak in the sites as well as to keep things moving.

I keep pushing the fluids and tend to eat like there’s no tomorrow in the days following the race. I also like to wear compression tights on the flight home as this seems to make my legs recover more quickly.

The following week:
I tend to need a couple days for my legs to feel less like hunks of wood and like to throw in walking/hiking during the first week post-race. If I am feeling fantastic, I might try a short, easy run as early as Wednesday after a Sunday event but usually find this to be counter-productive. I keep the running super light and easy for at least a couple weeks after a big event, tend to move to easy trails vs. roads and definitely don’t push the pace or intensity much during this period. I have made the mistake of trying to jump back into faster workouts too quickly in the past and am learning that time spent being nice to myself now, pays off immensely later. I can either take it easy for a couple of weeks now, or be required to take at least another couple of weeks later. Think “big picture” at this juncture vs. short-term pleasure. I missed trail running last season due to my road racing schedule and am SO jonezing to run the amazing trails around my house. But I am forcing myself to hold back a bit, be patient with my recovery, and wait a bit to get out on a longer, more intense run. The trails will be there when my bod is ready to roll. (Hopefully by Sunday!)

One final note, the above recommendations are based upon racing marathons where the intensity level and surface contribute to more post-event suffering than I experience when running trail races. Even after the Leadville 100 in 2010, I was running normally again later that week. To be completely honest, I am WAY more wrecked after racing a marathon than an ultra. Though I haven’t fully “raced” an ultra yet… I’ll have to get back with you on that one. Let me know if I missed anything.

As always, have fun out there.


EDIT: Talked with my coach and World Marathon Champ, Mark Plaatjes, on a run today about recovery. He recommended running only 2-3 days – no more than 5 miles per run – the week after a marathon. If you feel like jumping on a bike and doing easy rides, that is fine. Week two, you can increase your runs to 4-5 and add some distance but no intensity. Just keep everything mellow. The third week you can start running your regular schedule with some fartleks but no sustained efforts. After that, you should be good to go back to your regularly scheduled training regimen.

We also talked about doubles and his take on them is that if you have time to run in the morning, come home, eat, take a nap, get up around noon and do another run, eat, take another nap, then doubles are sustainable. If not, they are just a recipe for injury. He does like adding easy bike riding as a supplement in the evening after hard morning runs.

Good stuff.


2010 Rearview…

Just keep swimming… ~ Dory

What can I say? It’s been a helluva year.

I started 2010 with one major goal: Finish the LT100. Through Rach’s unwavering support and encouragement, I was able to prepare adequately for the big event and adjust my goals accordingly. Suffice it to say, I logged a shit-ton of miles, had many learning experiences and grew exponentially as both a runner, and more importantly, a person.

Here are the digits:

  • Mileage: 2516
  • Days completely off: 77
  • PRs: 4 (100 miles, Marathon, 10K, 5K)
  • Goals achieved: 4/4
  • Best finish: 1st in Age Group – Golden Gate 1/2 Marathon
  • Most satisfying finish: 89th overall, 22nd in Age Group – Leadville Trail 100

I can say, in all honesty, that 2010 was an amazing year of running. I progressed throughout the season, learned a ton, logged 4 PRs at four different disciplines (100-miles: 24:42:40, marathon: 3:10:04, 10K: 39:16 and 5K: 18:54) and really grew as a runner as well as a person. Setting tough goals and beating those marks can really make a person feel good and well… I feel good. I couldn’t have done any of this without the consistent and ongoing love and support from my sweetie, Rach and definitely encourage anyone seeking to invest the amount of time it takes to focus on a full year of training and racing to try to find someone as amazing and patient (good luck with that). She cooked for me non-stop (quite literally), dealt with my gross gear, put up with my bullshit and kept me on the path to success at every turn. Thanks also to Patagonia for clothing support and nuun for helping with hydration this season. Two great companies you should definitely check out.

Leadville was definitely the highlight of the year. That long, difficult day teed me up for the success that followed in the Fall and early Winter races I completed on a whim and gave me the confidence to set difficult goals and hit those marks. I ran races of a wide variety of distances competitively in 2010 (5K to 100 miles – another, unwritten goal of mine) and intend to continue to run a variety of distances in 2011.

I learned a ton during my big year. One of the biggest lessons learned was to be patient and to roll with the punches. I suppose that is technically two lessons but they do go hand in hand. Allowing both training and racing to unfold and not getting too caught up in the little set-backs and hurdles along the way is imperative. During the last 12 months, I certainly had my fair share of marginal runs and races. Choosing to look at each as a learning experience and a stepping stone on the path to larger goals allowed me to move forward, build on my successes (and failures) and ultimately achieve my goals. Patience during every run and knowing when to relax during racing made for a successful, (mostly) injury-free season.

Another big lesson I learned is to never give up. This manifested itself both at the LT100 in a positive way and during the final miles of the Denver Marathon in a less positive manner. During Leadville, I was suffering badly on the climb back up Powerline at about mile 80. In fact, I convinced myself at one point that I could just drop out at the top of Sugarloaf. Fortunately, that opportunity did not arise and, though I spent a considerable amount of time walking both the up and downhill portions of this leg of the race, I soon gained new strength and was running solidly throughout the final 15 miles of the race. At the Denver Marathon, I allowed the clock to dictate my effort and, when in the final miles of the race with time statistically running out on the opportunity to run a sub 3:10 for the day, eased my effort because I couldn’t reach that mark. It turned out the course had been set up incorrectly and was long. The race organizers subtracted time from every finisher’s results leaving me 5 seconds shy of a sub-3:10 effort. Had I not relaxed in those final miles, I would have certainly finished under that mark. In short, keep going and don’t let up.

I was fortunate enough this year to have a plethora of amazing non-race experiences: Summiting Hope Pass in early June; stumbling across bears foraging for food; running with elk on multiple occasions; watching marmots frolic among high-alpine wildflowers; braving thunderstorms both above treeline and during a particularly violent storm on Boulder’s eastern plains; catching what would be Crested Butte’s biggest storm of the season for some amazing skiing in late February; seeing both my dad and friend, John get married; watching the Met Opera series in HD; the list goes on and on.

In short, 2010 will be fondly remembered. And here’s to an even better 2011.


True words…

Nothin’ to do, nowhere to go. ~ The Ramones

When one stretches the fabric of the possible, it tends to help to narrow one’s focus as the big picture can become overwhelming. In ultra running, this is often spoken of as “relentless forward motion” or even focusing on each individual step. Where making thousands of steps seems impossible, focus on just moving to that next ridge/tree/fencepost or even just taking one more step can provide results.

Greg Joder, an amazing wildlife photographer, avid sea kayaker and fervent environmentalist sent me a link to Katie Spotz’ post about how to approach endurance challenges as she paddles – solo – across the Atlantic.

During some of my first endurance challenges I wasted too much energy questioning whether or not I could complete the challenge I set out for myself. The truth is that you never know until you try, and the worst thing you can do is not try. I learned to redefine failure, not as a failure to complete the feat, but a true failure as to not try. Fear of failure was one of the most difficult “mental walls” I faced.

Break it down. You don’t row across an ocean in a day so it’s important for me to break it down into daily, sometimes hourly, goals and focus on that one step ahead. If I lose sight of that one step, I can become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the challenge.

Know all things will pass. No matter how tired, hot, seasick, bored, lonely, etc. I get, it will pass. For some of my more grueling one-day challenges, like my ultra marathon (100k run), I can expect to go through all sorts of highs and lows all in a matter of hours.

Do not make it personal. Here on the ocean weather will do what it wants, equipment will break, things will not go according to “plan”. But it has nothing to do with me. So often I can think and feel that things are happening “for”, “against”, “to” me. Things are just happening and I can choose to accept it or put up the fight.

Understand the real challenge is me. The only thing that holds me back is me and it’s not about what happens but how I chose to react.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Read more about her adventure.


Deprecated: Function get_magic_quotes_gpc() is deprecated in /home/runsturun/ on line 3785