Friday, December 7, 2012

Fall running, 2012

I know, I know, it's time to start writing about snow, and I've been out a few times on skis, but up until last weekend, ski conditions around Missoula were decidedly thin.  In any case, it took 5 years of living near Missoula to discover the amazing network of running trails on the edge of town.  Inspired, I spent a fair bit of time in running shoes this fall, without a care in the world that conditions were often too wet for biking.  In addition to many perfect evenings and memorable moments, the running volume should provide a good base for randonee racing, and ski season in general.

Here's a brief summary:

Overlook trail:  This 900 vertical foot trail run at the edge of town in Superior is my go-to short run.  I have probably run the overlook over 10 times since the fall equinox.  I have done all sorts of crazy variations to keep things interesting, including repeats, intervals, and running with a pack, and the all-time favorite, repeats with a pack in the dark.  My fastest time will fall every month or so.  It wouldn't take a very strong runner to shave a bunch of time off, but Superior residents tend to eat frozen pizza and watch TV for recreation, so I'm claiming a FKT.  Recent progress is:  12.52, set in July;  12.47, set November 29th; 12.45, set March 12th by starting slower and hammering for the last 4 minutes.

10/1  3,000ish v.f., 1.52.  Run the Heart/Pearl loop in celebration of fall.  A beautiful voyage into a relatively wild corner of Montana, and possible to squeeze in after work.  Take a day next summer to do it on foot or on a bike.

10/8  About 18 miles of flat running on pavement in Chicago put the serious hurt on me.

10/16  3,000 v.f. 1.36.  Run up the Hellgate Canyon trail to the radio towers, where I was greeted by an extremely brisk wind.  Run down to the Sentinel saddle, then up and over Sentinel and down to town via the ridge trail.  The smile was immediately swept from my face by Obama's no-show in the first presidential debate.

10/19 3,000+ v.f., 1.28.  Back to Sentinel.  Run up to Sentinel via the M trail, then the ridge trail in 26.30.  Continue over the top and on to the radio towers.  Descend via the Hellgate Canyon trail and the river trail back to town.  I think this is my favorite run around Missoula.

10/27 2,000 v.f., 1.28.  Run up Hellgate Canyon to Sentinel in the snow with Leah.  Descend via the normal trail to the M, then down the M trail to town.  Weave in and out of football fans walking home during the run back to the car.

11/1 about 18 miles, 4.40.  Run a long loop in the Needles district of Canyonlands on a rest day.  I ended up doing a grand tour, visiting Chessler park, the Joint trail, Druid Arch, and Elephant, Squaw, and Lost canyons.  Slot canyons, open slickrock shelfs, open parks, arches, wild red rock, and no water.  I love the desert.

11/7 2,000 v.f., 1.15.  Run up and down the Boyd Mountain trail near St. Regis on the way back from work.  Not a terribly inspired run.  Ended in the dark - still pretty grumpy about the loss of daylight saving time.

11/10 4,000 v.f and a bunch of miles, 2.45.  Run up Jumbo via the L trail, down to Jumbo saddle, then down to Marshall canyon.  Run down canyon through East Missoula and back to town, then up Sentinel in a dismal 35 minutes via the M trail and down and out to the car.  Kind of long, but an interesting round-about tour.

11/12 3,500 v.f., 2.49.  Ran the Blue Mountain 30K course with Leah.  I had to stop many times to check directions.  The folks at the Runner's Edge picked a good route, and by eliminating a few contrived additions, the result would be a superb ~25K course.

11/14 2,500 v.f., 1.25.  Run the last portion of the Blue Mountain 30K course, heading straight to Hayes point from the parking lot, then continuing with the course.  I ended at dark, and the headlamp went on for the first time to put on warm clothes at the car.  Perfect timing on a perfect fall run.

11/15 1,800 v.f., 1 hour.  I made a hard push up Sentinel for time.  I brought ski poles and ascended via the M trail, then the ridge trail.  I topped out in 24.14, which is by far my best time.  Scuttle back down to town in the dark.

11/18 2,500 v.f, 2 hours.  Run from the house to the L trail, up Jumbo, down to Jumbo saddle, then down Lincoln Hills to the house.  I ran hard to the summit in about 26.5, then doubled back to rendezvous with Leah before proceeding with the rest of the run.  I stashed a bottle of GU on the Jumbo summit, which was stolen in the 10 minutes I left it unattended.  Hopefully the someone had a super turbo-charged descent.  We timed the run perfectly, watching the sun slowly slip behind the bitterroot as we jogged back into town.

11/20 ~400 v.f. 35 minutes.  Run the standard waterworks/Duncan loop backwards before hopping on a plane headed to New York for Thanksgiving.

11/24 3,000 v.f., 2 hours.  Recover from a long plane voyage by running the loop from Jumbo saddle to the Jumbo summit, down the trail above the highway, then back over Jumbo via the L trail with Leah.  Went skiing for the first time at Gash the following day.  Coverage was ok, and the snow quality was good.


  1. Brian, the next time you run down the rocky section of the Kim Williams, check out those open, rocky ridges going up to Sentinel. They're a great scramble right from town. They' make for a different version of a "run." But by running to them, scrambling up, then running down, it seems like they're right up your alley of a little running and climbing.

  2. Nice ones Mr. Story. Looking forward to some good racing!