Sunday, December 29, 2013

Trail Option 2.0

New for 2014, Trail Option is moving to a new website! We hope you'll follow us there. It is our goal to inspire and motivate trail runners of all levels and distances by providing information on daily training routines, local races, and ultra events. The information comes from things we do, with occasional help from coaches and trail running friends. We will also be expanding to provide northern Nevada ultra and trail running news, some gear reviews, and trail information. Keep coming back, and keep going...

The Trail Option website is up and running. Check it out...  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Running out of the cold...

Week Summary 12/15/2013

Ruhenstroth Loop: 9.1 mi (+651 ft); 10:09 pace
Carson River Flats: 7.3 mi (+48 ft); 10:09 pace
Ash Canyon Loop: 7.3 mi (+1,023 ft); 12:08 pace
Run with Rudolph 7M: 7.3 mi (+1,044 ft); 9:40 pace
East Valley Ramble: 22.3 mi (+1,121 ft); 11:05 pace

Weekly Totals: 52.9 mi (+3,887 ft); 9:28:06 on trail

I managed a good steady week of Base training in generally bone-crushing low temperatures. I think we are stuck in this for a while, but the mid-day sun is making things doable. Surprising, for no reason, that there is so little snowcover here at Solsticeshire and on the Ruhenstroth trails, but so much more in Eagle Valley around Carson City.

The difference in snowcover became very clear on Thursday afternoon as I previewed the Rudolph 7M course. Right from the car I was crunching through a trail of snow at that aggravating depth that just fills the tops of your shoes. It only increased as I entered Ash Canyon. I figured Saturday's race wouldn't use the creekside single-track, but because it's more interesting than the canyon's fireroad I chose it, only to find one other set of tracks and was soon post-holing calf-deep. Even the switchbacks of the upper Evidence trail required some shallow post-holing. I knew Saturday's race might be interesting.

Desna and I bundled up for the Ascent Winter Trail Series' Run with Rudolph 7M trail (er, snow) run early Saturday morning. A good group of brave runners huddled in the parking lot of Western Nevada College to hear Kevin's startline instructions. "The trail markings are painted in white."  Funny guy. It's a casual affair with a bit of competition, but mostly a challenge to navigate the Ash Canyon trails in conditions rather unsuitable for "racing". But it was a blast. I felt pretty comfortable with a good pace on the 1,000-foot climb and pretty fast on the squirrely downhill. Guided by an icy cross-country ski track (I remembered it from Thursday), the descent simply begged you to turn an ankle or trip into a fall as your feet struggled between the ice of the track and the powder of the snow. The track felt fast until you broke through or stumbled where someone upfront had done the same. I was surprised I pulled away from a couple followers, probably only because I had "practiced" the descent a couple days previously and knew it would end soon enough. I great winter tune-up and motivator. 7th place in 1:10:02.

I warned Desna away from the 7M because navigating the snow seemed a bit cruel for her first event in her forward-looking trail training. She ran and power-hiked the 3M in good form and it was fun to compare our snow-day afterwards.

Out for a Long Base day on Sunday. Toured a series of excellent two-track dirt roads through the foothills of the Pine Nuts, working my way to our friend Marta's house at the Carson River. Almost perfect day, upper 40s (finally!) and excellent sunshine. Basically no snow on that side of the valley except in a few drifts and steep northern slopes. The run allowed me to break a 50-mile week again. I hadn't done that since Leadville. Feels really good, if the weather cooperates there's more ahead.

Seven miles in, looking back toward Ruhenstroth

Foothills below Sunrise Pass

Route potential!

Dropping into Carson River at 15 miles


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Season's Blend...

Week Summary 12/8/2013

Deadmans - Scripps Loop: 7.8 mi (+1,455 ft); 11:15 pace
Carson River Flats: 6.0 mi (+31 ft); 9:48 pace
Goni Hill Repeats: 6.7 mi (+1,121 ft); 11:05 pace
Ruhenstroth No. 5: 6.6 mi (+596 ft); 10:35 pace
Lower Pine Nut Loop: 14.6 mi (+1,079 ft); 11:31 pace

Weekly Totals: 41.8 mi (+4,282 ft); 7:39:35 on trail

The blurring of the seasons is upon us - a winter deep-freeze in the last weeks of fall, Darren, Desna, and I are ramping up and signing up for 2014, and Dennis and Mary capped an amazing 2013 "50/70" season with gold.

First, hearty congrats to Mom and Dad. Thirteen races - one ultra, five marathons, a few "halfs", and some miscellaneous distances where they racked up the miles, the podium hardware, and, the best part, immeasurable success. Anywhere between Moab and Grand Junction, the race directors recognize the senior elites when they show up. They took home age-group gold in Moab this weekend. We are all chasing and being led by these two, keep going!

Cold over Ruhenstroth
Second, and way less news-worthy, the Nevada Trail Option team ran in the snow this week. I looped through the Deadmans - Scripps area in exhilarating white-out during winter storm Cleon (thanks Weather Channel) and ended the miles-abbreviated week in the deep chill of Dion, the winter storm that stole my long day. Although I missed the long day, I was rewarded with the discovery of a quality Ruhenstroth loop which is likely to become my go-to hour. This particular outing had a couple highlights. In crackly, perfect running snow (you know it when you're in it) I climbed the rolling hills into windless, alpenglow sunset. If it wasn't getting dark so fast, I might have gotten that long run in motivated only by the beauty of being out there. And then, wait, those are a Hoka tracks! Des was out here somewhere on a late loop of her own. Later, the topic of debate was who saw the better sunset.

Making tracks on Pine Nut Road
Sunday was a bone-chilling but sunny day, so I set out on a bit of a make-up for the missed long run and trounced through the snow for 14.6 miles in almost three hours. I made it to the valley below Mount Siegel but ran into some fence issues coming down Pine Nut Creek, seems I was already on the wrong side of the fence, I had to climb over to read the No Trespassing notice. Odd that I could get there without any clues otherwise. Such a good loop, I'll have to research a detour where I don't have to hop fences, backwards or not. It was 16° when I made the house just as the sun set behind Jobs Peak. It was a long one after all.

Toward Mount Siegel
Locked gates ahead, but good snow now.
Speaking of Hoka tracks, Darren shared the trail of a big cat up on Jumbo Grade. He'd ventured out into the deep snow of Washoe Valley Saturday morning until he found he might soon have a workout partner - a little extra motivation for the descent.

Signed up for the +TRT 100 lottery and registered for the Ascent Runs Winter Trail Series for some good times with Kevin and the great trail runners from the area. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

More like it...

Week Summary 12/1/2013

Eagle Ridge
C-Hill South Loop: 5.7 mi (+1,040 ft); 11:44 pace
Deadmans - Scripps Loop: 7.8 mi (+1,408 ft); 11:23 pace
Ruhenstroth No. 3: 5.2 mi (+578 ft); 11:30 pace
Genoa - Eagle Ridge Loops: 14.9 mi (+2,594 ft); 11:59 pace
Ruhenstroth No. 4: 5.7 mi (+437 ft); 10:55 pace

Weekly Totals: 39.3 mi (+6,036 ft); 7:35:31 on trail
November Totals: 104.7 mi (+9,643 ft); 19:09:16 on trail

Yes, finally. Feels great to be back into it. Still easing up in the mileage, but this was a good, albeit slow, trail running. Thanks for that! And maybe the last of the warm weather for a while, so even better to take advantage of it.

The C-Hill south trails remain in great shape, really like the "new" single-track on the south side but still haven't found its start point. On Wednesday, after starting on Goni Road I met Darren on the Deadmans trail and we cruised slowly up Scripps and back down Goni. He had taken the day off, I was still on my mid-work trail time. Great to hit the trail with Darren.

Skipped Thanksgiving Day and burned it off on Friday on the trails south of the house -- such a nice and easy escape, right out the front gate.

Carson Valley from Genoa Trails
Saturday's Long run had me looking for a little elevation gain, with a goal of 3,000 feet over about 3.5 hours. With that in mind I headed to the Genoa Trails, now straight across the Carson Valley from the house. Perfect day on a wonderful single-track with a few stretches of road through the town of Genoa. The trail map made it look a little more elevation gain than I'd planned, adding the Genoa Trail and the Eagle Ridge Trail loops I should get about 4,200, so I'd cut back on the time. I headed out for a great figure eight. It's excellent trail and the distance and time was about what I expected. But to my surprise, the Garmin calculated just shy of 2,600 for both loops. On the map the 8.2-mile Genoa Loop is listed at 2,550 feet gain -- the Garmin mileage was spot-on, but, wow, that's some difference in gain. Oh well, it is a fantastic trail and I'll be hitting it a lot. Wrapped up the week with a Ruhenstroth jog to creep near 40 miles for the week.

Ruhenstroth Single-track above Solsticeshire
Des has joined the trail running adventure to get physically and mentally prepared for some equine events. She's even got us signed up for the Monument Valley 50K in March. And Footfeathers has set her up a training schedule to get her prepped. She jumped right into it Saturday by working the first miles of the Eagle Ridge trail. Probably a little stout until she gets some legs back under her, but she enjoyed the return to running. She even brought home some bloody hands after taking a fall in some talus on just above the trailhead. Then she jumped on Strider for a few miles. Now that's a Saturday.

Dennis and Mary took age-group honors at the Grand Junction Turkey Trot on the streets of Grand Junction. Their huge season will be wrap up next week at the Winter Sun 10K.

It's hard to believe that it's lottery and registration time for next season. The Trail Option calendar is filling nicely. I'm committed to three 100s next year: Zion, TRT, and The Bear; I've signed up for Zion and Bear, the TRT lottery/registration is next week.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's a Start...

Week Summary 11/24/2013

Mexican Dam OB: 6.2 mi (+134 ft); 10:16 pace
Ash Canyon Loop: 6.0 mi (+871 ft); 10:36 pace
Mexican Ditch OB: 4.7 mi (+40 ft); 9:44 pace
Sammamish River Trail OB (WA): 12.1 mi (+75 ft); 10:29 pace
Residential Inn OB (WA): 5.8 mi (+177 ft); 10:29 pace

Weekly Totals: 34.9 mi (+1,296 ft); 6:01:18 on trail

We are getting settled into Solsticeshire, our home outside Gardnerville, Nevada, so it was time to get things rolling again. I'd done about 36 easy miles in November, during the move, and leading up to this week, so it felt really good to be on the trail again. I kept it pretty easy on the local trails and enjoyed some asphalt trails in the suburbs of Seattle, where we joined Dennis and Mary and a great group of locals for our daughter's wedding. It was a great time, and so good to hit a five-day, 30-plus week again. Starting to search for events and goals for next year.

My first goal of 2014 has already been crushed. Rules are rules, but as I wrapped up my 2013 season I was sure I had a Western States qualifier in the bag. I'd had a good time at the Antelope Island 100 in the spring, and though I was defeated at Leadville, I still thought I'd be in the Western States lottery for the 2014 event. I learned different when I went to sign up last weekend. The Antelope Island 50 remains a qualifier but the 100 has been dropped from the list in the last few years. So qualifying twice in (almost) the same day doesn't count. Seems a bit silly, but I should have checked. Even sillier, I ran about 40% of the Headlands 50M (a qualifier) while Darren competed in that event, thereby gaining his qualifier. Had I only known. 

There have been some tidal shifts in qualifying requirements for a number of events primarily due to the popularity of certain events where participant numbers are limited by permitting requirements or long-held race culture. It's isn't necessarily a big deal for someone like me. I don't mind qualifying and I don't mind lotteries, and I want most events to maintain some sense of sanity. I'll look for other opportunities, and because Western States is one I'd really like to do, I'll seek other qualifiers.

But it's early, time to get the feet under me and get the base ready for 2014.  Here's to another week of forward movement.

Footnote: Dad's St. George Race Report is the most popular post in the two-year run of Trail Option. Ok, I'll have him post more often.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

St. George Marathon Race Report (A guest post by Dennis Young)

Permanently Set at 4:55
An exceptional day for racing in southwest Utah as the temperature probably didn't get out of the 60s even at the finish line. It's not always that nice.

It started out quite a bit cooler as we boarded the 5th of  56 buses at 4 AM. The start line was, it seemed, in a different climate zone when they let us out 26.2 miles to the north along State Highway 18 -- wind chill was in the lower 20s, and straight from the north. The pre-dawn scene is surreal. Bright lights casting long shadows on runners as they grab an aluminum Mylar cape from the volunteers and a pair of recycled cotton gloves from the huge stacks on a table. The first couple hundred of us, just off the first buses, ran to the far end of the 50 wood stacks. The silver capes flapping madly in the wind reflecting the red glow of the first cedar fires.  The flames stretch horizontal with the wind and it is, to us, the 'classic' pre-race scene at St George Marathon scene. You won't see this in Boston or New York!  It stays in memory almost as much as the finishing chute and crowds. Almost.

It was an hour and a half before the gun. We huddled around the horizontal fires (avoiding the south end!) and everyone started to talk about races past; the cold, heat, and driving rain. Our tale of the mosquitoes at Little Grand Canyon marathon brought some real, 'Oh my Gods!'  Hot embers were everywhere and both of us soon had holes burned through our poly warm up pants. 

Let's do this.
Then there is the rush of 6,000 to undress from storm gear. We bag it, toss it in the truck then shivering hard we went up the embankment to the road.  Somewhere the national anthem is playing? We guess the gun fires or horn blows? Who knows? The crowd starts surging, then walking, then trotting, then hitting pace. We punch the Garmin and we are off with a, suddenly friendly, wind helping at our backs. A year of training and racing comes to this moment! Let's do it.

We felt great hitting a sub 10:00 pace for 5 of the first 7 miles. Surprised to pass the first 10K pad 2 minutes faster than our goal splits. Mary faster than her 10K PR set 2 years earlier, in a 10K only race, when she was a youngster of 68! We tossed our warm up shirts, purchased at Goodwill the day prior, at the aid station somewhere along here. The sun came in and felt wonderful. The spreading of light over the red rock and desert is beyond description.

We did the 'hill' over the shoulder of Veyo volcano with little trouble. It slowed us as we had predicted and built in, and by the time we ran over the half marathon timing pad we were only 2 minutes behind goal and holding a 10:36 average pace. All good.

We handled the AS stops (they were every odd mile after 3 miles) pretty good just flying through grabbing a glass of Gatorade or water and perhaps an orange slice. Getting a little fast walking in here. We did pretty good on the gels at every 45 minutes or hour as long as we were close to a water break. Maybe not as regular on the gels as the day wore on.
The 13.1-mile mark is a good point. It's half over and you start to feel things tighten up. Any elevation gain is pretty much over except for a few rolling hills but the trend is definitely down. And getting steeper. At 18.6mi (30K) we passed over the last timing chip pad and recorded a 3:20 elapsed time holding a 10:46 pace. We wanted a 10:39 ave pace here but we had some padding in there now because we knew what was coming. The 'marathon' was about to begin for us. Pain? Cramps? Who knows? We still felt pretty good. About 3 minutes off our splits. We kept talking. We are now in the final push. It happens every time.

At about this time I stopped for an 'icy-hot' rub down on my calves. Nice. It took a few seconds. I had no problems like last year at all. Just prevention. Everything was feeling really tight. In the last six miles there are some steep curving descents; it's hear that Mary had some bad cramping start. We rubbed real hard and smoothed them each time. We had swallowed some Advil in prevention a couple of miles back. It seemed to help also. We rubbed out the hamstring cramps several times and after the hills, and the edge of town, we got passed the worst of them. For the most part. Our planned splits in this last section should account for the slow down fine.
Then it was just a block and a mile at a time. We had one, relatively slow, sub-14 mile, but for the most part we were sub-12 pace as planned. Mary's legs were getting 'noodily'. You can work through pain but when parts just give out and legs wobble on their own accord, the brain can try, but commands to legs sometimes just don't make it down there. We grabbed on to each other, sometimes by hand and whole arm but she ran and ran through what was a very courageous last mile. We just had to make sure she didn't fall. She was bound and determined that wouldn't happen! 

The last quarter mile passed extremely slow.  But our pace shows we were still under 12:00! I watched the Garmin on my free arm and knew we had the 5:00 beat!! It was closer to the 4:55 (her Boston Qualifier) goal if we just kept moving. The long finish line chute was amazing with the crowd, three and four deep, waving and yelling at us. Many reached for high fives. It felt like we were walking but we both hit our highest heart rate of the entire race as we passed the chip pad.

There is nothing like that relief.  The finish line crew gathered around. We are OK. We are OK. They put the finishers medal on us and we kept walking knowing the dizzies can flatten you if you don't. Been there before.

Water, ice cream, walking, Portrait photo we can hardly remember. Then over to the grass and very slowly sat down. I checked the charts. Official time. Together. 4:55:16. We got our first sub 5:00 marathon!! By almost 5 minutes. Mary missed her Boston qualifying time by 16 seconds but it was that goal, and breaking 5:00, that got us to 4:55 and the finish line. Thank you Boston Qualifier! We even beat the gun time 5:00 with a 4:58:57. I love it.

In a field of 2,653 women Mary got first place in the 70-74 age group over two other women of that age. It meant a top step in the podium platform with the top male 70-74, Bill Peck a 20-time runner of this marathon. It's Mary's second time at St George and her fifth marathon in 12 months! In the hour since the finish, recovery came fast and she climbed the step handily while the announcer noted that Mary Young, with a 4:55:16, has obviously sent her daughter up to receive her award! Quite a compliment for that champion athlete of 70. My eyes were so wet I could hardly see my camera view finder. She received a nice clock trophy and $150. The hands of that clock will be forever set at 4:55:16.

Trail Option Team-runner Mary Young - #1 Spot on the St. George Podium
I ended with the same time and placed 24 of 39 in my age group, fifteen of which qualified for Boston doing better than a 4:25. Bill Peck, who Mary shared the podium with, finished with a 3:36. Amazing. (Coincidentally we became quick friends with Bill and his wife the evening before the race when we met them at the finish line where they were also getting a final quick, and quiet, look at what we would both be striving for in a few hours.)
The Sub-Fivers

The day before the race at the packet pickup expo at the convention center, Dick Beardsley, gave a memorable keynote speech. Beardsley isn't as well known, outside racing circles, as the man he almost beat in the 1982 Boston Marathon. He and Alberto Salazar fought the famous "Dual in the Sun". It's a good story to hear before a race; even if you are racing against the clock, as we were, instead of another runner. This is in the days before they even had aid stations and fences to keep people out of the road. Strangers had to hand you water. Maybe. Salazar didn't drink any water on a very hot day. Beardsley missed beating him by 2 seconds and Salazar needed 6 IV bottles afterward.

We talked with Beardsley later and he signed our bibs, inscribing his time on them from that day in Boston over 30 years ago.  It is inspiring what he did in those last few seconds. But actually secondary to the trials in the rest of his life. He has told the story hundreds of times since but describing those last few hundred yards seems to takes almost 15 minutes.

Almost as long as it takes you to read about OUR last hundred yards but it helps for us to write about it!

We both have it now as part of our 50@70 year. At a quiet time, far into the future, we both might turn to each other and say, "Remember when we turned that final corner in the '13 St. G......?"  "Oh yes! But also... there was that finish line through the trees at Grand Mesa....and...."

Fall Break...

I've been doing hill repeats lately, lots of them. Ok, it's going up-and-down stairs with boxes over-and-over again, but it's gotta be doing some good. The move to our new digs at Fish Springs, NV, is underway. I should say it's been underway, the process is rather exciting but it mostly requires the endurance mindset to get through the mountains of paperwork, the addled route finding between realtors and financiers, and the moving finish lines (we'll close when? on which house?). Because we close at Fish Springs tomorrow, this week will transition from packing and staging boxes in VC to painting and carpeting out there. Ultimate moving day is October 29th.

So it's been a move-induced Fall Break. Beautiful conditions for a move, even better if your out running some fall trails. The fall colors through the eastern Sierra have been exceptional. I've managed a few hour-here, hour-there runs, just in hopes of some up-keep. Footfeathers sent me a new training schedule, but it'll wait until the move is over, say, November 1st for a good re-start. Get ready for some Winter Trail Series runs and start the trail to the 2014 ultra season.

Under 5 hours at the St. George Marathon (Both at 4:55:16)
But my break has meant nothing to the other Young Mountain Runners! As I write Dennis and Mary are at the starting line of the Other Half Marathon in Moab, UT, ready to continue their huge 50/70 year. This is on the heels of their sub-5 efforts at the St. George Marathon. Mom took 1st in her AG with 4:55:16, just 16 seconds shy of a Boston Qualifier! Dad finished with the same time, but has some super competition in his age-group; mom's the dominator. They achieved a huge PR by dropping below the 5-hour mark for the first time. What a great day, even though it wasn't a trail, we followed closely at home, waiting every second of the 4:55:16 for the automatic texts from time stations along the way.  Dad's race report follows as a special guest post here at Trail Option.