Chocolate Factory OB: 6.3 mi (+479 ft); 9:39 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.5 mi (+404 ft); 8:51 pace
Ophir OB: 6.4 mi (+1058 ft); 9:55 pace
Sutro Pass OB: 12.3 mi (+1783 ft); 10:22 pace
Churchill OB: 5.1 mi (+82 ft); 9:19 pace
Weekly Totals: 35.6 mi (+3,806 ft); 5:51:52 on trail
A lot of Out & Backs this week, a week of excellent training and a good start to Week 1 of my Relentless Forward Progress. It was certainly the most consistent week of my immature running career. I followed my training plan to a T, although I was tempted at times to go beyond. This was especially true on the trails that felt at ease under some of our first good skies since almost January! But how soon I forget, Tuesday and Wednesday were miserable weather days.
The Chocolate Factory run between Moundhouse and Dayton was a wind-fest. A mid-week storm was making its way across California and this brings the Washoe Zephyr to bear. Going out on this flat, power line two-track, it is tempting to really stride along the gently downhill and wind-at-your-back segment. Keeping in mind the gusty 30-mile-per-hour headwind I had to return through, I paced along with some discipline; nonetheless I made record time to the Dayton Cemetery. Just short of the cemetery I was thinking hard about the coming push against the wind when I heard voices. The trail cuts into a narrow canyon before its turn-around and the voices surrounded me, echoing strangely in the wind. I've run this route dozens of times and never thought of it as particularly interesting, just a go-to 6-mile, flat out-and-back. Haunted winds belong on some more treacherous trail with dangerous cliffs and fierce animals. The voices grew louder as I exited the canyon where strung out before me walked a conga-line of fifty or so school kids on their fieldtrip, or something, to the historical cemetery. Running is a solitary experience until it isn't. I was happy to leave the crowd and turn into the wind. A band of wild horses with a cautious stallion waited for me near my western terminus. An interesting hour.
In preparing my new schedule, I moved my Monday trail to Wednesday and have decided I would make it a short evening adventure each week. Emma Quarry OB is the perfect trail for this relatively short, mid-week training run. The haunted winds of yesterday have brought snow (again!) to the hills of Virginia City. But it isn't sticking so I head into another windy skyline curtained by squalls. I have never run that route so well. Tephra cruised beside me and we broke through the wind and pelting snow with a new-found energy . It seemed easy and I took almost 40 seconds off my previous best pace. That's 40 seconds for each mile on the trail, almost 4 minutes off my previous time. Maybe the efforts are paying off.
Up and back on the Ophir OB on Thursday. This will be a interval workout in weeks to come but right now I'm still working my base miles. A cold north wind greets me as I leave the office, the wind is left over from the storm that passed yesterday. But I soon find I'm over-dressed as the sun begins to break through; is this the beginning of Spring finally? Although I'm supposed to avoid "interval" training right now, I feel the same energy as yesterday and simply cruise up the grade, winding through the canyons and cutting across the slopes above American Flat. I'm passed by a couple touring motorcycles and a SUV returning from the summit. I like thinking that they think I'm nuts for my efforts as the junk builds in their arteries; but maybe they're just on an errand from the summit where they hiked for a few miles and hours. I don't know, but for some reason I enjoy glorifying my effort, the short 6 miles that it is. But a little daily glory is just fine, and I end with another PR (personal record) pace on this trail, cutting the old record again by almost half a minute per mile. Nice.
Saturday is the long day in my training schedule which calls for 12 miles in this first week. One of Dez's roles in the endurance world has grown from helping me with recovery and health to assisting with equine endurance events as a vet assistant (OK, the horses came way before me). In the midst of their 50-mile loops at this week's event in Dayton, the horses get vet checks at aid stations to make sure their health will allow them to finish without metabolic stress or physical injury. Horses and riders are pulled if the negative signs are developed enough. This is standard practice at all equine endurance events, and I'm sure I'll wish for a vet check at my first aid station whenever that day comes. While Dez worked the Dayton event, I ran the two-track trails out to Sutro Pass where it overlooks the portal of the Sutro Tunnel and the town of Dayton. I could see the horse trailers crowded around the fairgrounds. The day started cloudy and cool but I soon learned it was perfect trail weather and enjoyed the conditions on this very good route. It shares early sections of the Emma Quarry OB trail but soon heads up and down Occidental Canyon to the pass. This historic-era route has several sections of well-built rock walls supporting the track, remnants of the days when Sutro, in the valley below, had important connections, literally an extensive tunnel to de-water the mines, to VC. No record times today, but completely happy with the fine route and my growing endurance.
I think Sundays will be the "trials" of the schedule. Most of my previous long runs were followed by a rest-day, but now the program calls for a follow-up run as an exclamation point on the week's effort. Although I felt little effect from my Saturday effort (my second longest run ever), starting up on the flat route at Churchill Road reminded me that my legs were indeed a bit tired. As Dad and Mom have noticed on their daily training runs, painful starts grow into good efforts as the legs get working again and find their rhythm. Darren has commented that this is common at the start of training days and in the midst of longer efforts. Although bad days are bound to happen (Darren had a pretty big energy let-down during 20 miles on Saturday), he says that most of the time our bodies simply realize we aren't going to stop so they might as well get with it. The pain recedes and the flow returns. I like it.
I met the goals of Week 1 and surpassed performance levels that I can only continue to improve on. I'm certain, however, that challenges are ahead as the daily routine tests each recovery period and the miles start to stack up. Sustaining progress will test my discipline, but I'm here to pass. Next week I'll get to enjoy the trails of the Marin headlands, and then my early schedule provides opportunities for events such as half-marathons. So I'm considering doing my first "event" at the Burton Creek Trail Run in two weeks. Darren has the full marathon on his schedule, I should join him and get the experience.
Nice week everyone; keep going.