It seems like such a random number on the surface. Twelve. To most people it's a foot, or the number of eggs in a dozen. Nothing remarkable, just a number.

But that number has come to mean so much more to me - 12:00. As in five miles per hour or ten hours to cover 50 miles. And there comes the significance - 10 hours of moving time, plus however long it takes me in the aid stations to take care of things. Will all that add up to under 11:00 hours or is having a goals at the first attempt nothing more then a pipe dream?

I've been doing good with logging the miles over the past few weeks, with three runs over 25 miles - including the Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race 50k. I've headed up into the mountains in search of long and steep climbs and technical running. I've taken what I learned in the 50k and applied it in my last long run. Taping the back of my shoes to prevent hot spots and then blisters. Trying to eat early and often. I even did my last long run with my little hand held in addition to my pack to see if I could tolerate it. I set out for a 30 mile solo adventure on Saturday with the goal of as much climbing as I could find and maintaining that elusive sub 12 pace. Success on both accounts - with 29 miles covered and nearly 5k feet of climbing. I meandered through Bear Creek and power hiked up Section 16, passing families that reminded me of my childhood - minus the phones and selfies. I realized that hikers aren't generally rude - just completely oblivious to everyone else and that its super easy to get in over your head. (Flip flops? Skinny jeans? No food, no water, snakes everywhere?) I also saw that no matter how hard some cyclists try to nice, there some people that will go out of their way to be offended.

Coming down 666 - I didn't realize I had my personal photographer waiting for me!
The run-hike up High Drive wasn't much slower then riding as I decided that walking at 17:30 and being able to eat and drink instead of running at 13:00 was much smarter. After all, it's all about averages... My griddle cakes from Feed Zone Portables filled with chocolate, coconut and almonds were yummy. I was tolerating the hand held well and still making good time. It seems the middle of the trail is a great place to picnic, as I hiked up Buckhorn and interrupted two groups enjoy lunch - and I didn't even get offered a bite! The knowledge of the trails I have from hiking as a child and riding now was valuable to people too cheap to get their own maps. Yes, the top of Buckhorn is a long way from middle Columbine... And as I got further out, then numbers dropped yet the people got weirder. The snow is hanging on up high, with a few stretches of upper Jacks still covered. All the while, the miles ticking by and the time slipped over that magic number 12:00. Could I maintain that average with all the climbing and descending and still have the legs to run when I hit the regional trail in Bear Creek? I was worried about that as I ran down High Drive - my quads were feeling the run and the ride of the day before. I was under 12 as I started up Stephanie's and determined to keep it there.

A cool action shot from Nick - the bridge and creek are clear, but I'm fuzzy with movement
They all say that you should have no goals other then to finish the first time around. While that's reasonable, I think it sells you short. You can set goals based off training and history - as long as that training mimics the course you're racing. And so I've set goals. Perhaps unachievable, but it wouldn't be the first time. And as Lazarus Lake says -"If you're going to face a real challenge it has to be a real challenge. You can't accomplish anything without the possibility of failure." Setting goals allows for the possibility of failure and my goals resolve around that magic number - 12:00. Five miles per hours - 10 hours of moving time...


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