Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week Summary (Jul 31) - More of the Circle and Reaching 200

Knolls Duster Loop: 7.7 mi (+893 ft); 11:05 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.6 mi (+615 ft); 9:00 pace
TRT - Brockway West OB: 10.0 mi (+1,683 ft); 10:42 pace
TRT - Tahoe Meadows to Brockway: 21.2 mi (+2,585 ft); 12.23 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.7 mi (+522 ft); 9:48 pace

Weekly Totals: 50.2 mi (+6,298 ft); 9:22:00 on trail

Monthly Totals (July): 205.8 mi (+25,358 ft); 37:27:35 on trail

I had a lot more fieldwork mixed into the schedule this week.  I thought this might affect the running efforts in some way, especially if I lacked the discipline necessary to keep at it after a day in the field. The necessary discipline might be related to that needed to keep an ultra going, so I better have it now. It's not the training, it's the practice.

The Knolls
Into the Winds
Started the week on the Great Salt Lake Desert in western Utah, working in a landscape of sand, desiccated lakebeds, and baked volcanic outcrops, all of it a shifting kaleidoscope of mirage bounded at the horizon. While our crews lodged in Wendover, I set up camp at the Knolls Recreation Area. In the heat of the summer the ATVers abandon the hills and dunes of the Knolls, so I had the place to myself. Sure it was hot, but the afternoon monsoons that visited the Cedar Mountains, to the east, brought cooling winds though much of the rain evaporated into the mirage at the foot of the mountains.  I waited into late Tuesday evening for the breeze to reach the Knolls, letting the heat die into the night.  It stays light well past 10 PM this far west in the Mountain Time Zone, so I had plenty of time. But when the winds came, they came with a vengeance carrying dust and bouncing sand in the on-going process of reforming the dunes and sheets that cover everything here.  I headed into a growing ground-cloud though it felt miserable to direct each step into the gusts and grit. I climbed steep outcrops following ATV trails down to dunes and across old shorelines of Lake Bonneville. For some reason, I felt like puking for most of the first half of the run and my pace was unusually slow as I fought the wind and a belligerent gut.  I'm not used to running so late in the evening and I likely snacked poorly after the day in the field.  But as I climbed a long, lone hill near the half-way point and turned with the wind, the pain subsided and I began to cruise. I could then enjoy the drastic dry landscape in the fading light. The dusty sky magnified the half-way hill making it appear a distant summit without any trace of habitation.  I knew of the single-track but didn't deny that it was a far away place, and I had been there.

I drove home Wednesday, arriving in VC in the late afternoon. After unloading the trailer, I ran out the Emma Quarry Out-and-Back. It's my go-to short run. After spending most of the day behind the windshield it was nice to get out and shake off the miles of the highway.

Fieldwork in Truckee, California, called on Thursday. This, however, provided an opportunity to get back on the Tahoe Rim Trail and check out a few miles west of Brockway Summit on Highway 267. I was upset that I  forgot my Garmin watch so that I'd have few stats for my evening run, but I defiantly convinced myself to chill and just run. Heading out the wonderful TRT single track, I climbed slowly away from Brockway and got lost in the flow; a couple times I thought I lost the trail too, but soon a marker would show itself. A ways into it I ran into a few mountain bikers and asked them how far they thought I might have come from the trailhead.  The guy told me probably five miles and I thought he was nuts, it had been so easy and quick. But then I remembered my phone and I could check the time.  Sure enough I'd been on the trail for almost an hour and the elevation gain wasn't really noticeable, so I probably was into it for about five miles. I cruised back to the trailhead feeling great. Sure enough, the map pointed out the road intersection where I had met the bikers; it was 5.1 miles away. Easiest 10 miles I've ever done. I hope I feel that way when I'm here for the Lake of the Sky 50K in a six weeks!
Darren to Relay Peak

On Saturday, Darren and I met at Brockway Summit and set an "aid station" in the Yota. We left it there and hustled over to the trailhead at Mount Rose Summit or Tahoe Meadows. In a growing gaggle of day-hikers, we left the trailhead to continue our growing circle around Lake Tahoe. This section from Tahoe Meadows to Brockway may be the best segment so far. We climbed slowly to Relay Peak following the standard access road. We were traversing snow before we reached the summit ridge, but it was patchy, sun-cupped, and soft so it didn't slow us much.

At Relay, the trail clings to the roof of a ridge between Truckee (Martis Valley) and the Tahoe Basin. Volcanic cliffs grow from fields of flowers and pine groves. All the while it appears you can step into the lake, perfect blue below. Here and there we lost the trail under snow and scurried about trying to regain our progress toward Brockway. No real problems, but it slowed our progress to each new corner and each new view.

Although the trails were somewhat crowded at each end (the first milers you see everywhere), we saw only a couple people in the high country. We argued with two backpackers regarding who was crazy. Two salt-streaked runners vs. two buxom hippie-chicks loaded with 80-pound packs. It was a draw.  

Darren strode away from me at about Mile 10 headed for the Yota. I cruised in silence trying to get my legs, now much heavier than Thursday, moving a little quicker. It wouldn't happen and I walked a few more hills than I'd like, but it seemed to fit into the rhythm of the day. It's a long down hill, over 4,400 feet of elevation loss from Relay to Brockway, so I eventually let a standard pace set in and enjoyed passing the staring day-hikers, saying hello as I jogged by. One told me that the guy in the green shirt was WAY ahead. So Darren wasn't lost and was probably at the aid station by now.

DC below Rose Knob
He reached Brockway about 20 minutes before I did. We passed on the last switchback as he started the return leg of his Out-and-Back. I would meet him back at Tahoe Meadows in a few hours. At the Yota I grabbed some water, stupidly hot from cooking in the car, and headed out for a couple more miles to reach my goal of 21 (RFP Week 9). It was difficult to get going again, especially climbing out of the Brockway trailhead.  But I finished as the heat of the day began to grow; Darren had a long way to go.

Darren stepping to Lake Tahoe
I dropped down to Kings Beach for a quick cooling dip in Lake Tahoe. A crowded sandy strip makes for easy access to the water, but the hordes of people force a short stay.  I much prefer the silence of the trails and even the occasional hikers near the trailheads, but the sardined-in beach, though refreshing, is almost unbearable. I grabbed the requisite Slurpee and more water and headed for Mount Rose. Sitting in my little chair in the trailhead parking lot I watched the afternoon clouds build and waited for Darren. I realized I'd probably made it to 200 miles in the month of July. It was only a couple months ago that I was impressed by my Lunar Century. The foundation feels great, and I think Lunar Double-Centuries will become commonplace. I'm in the peak portion of the RFP regime and would feel incomplete if I didn't keep going from here.

Darren dropped into the trailhead at a little after 4 PM, 7:48 after starting out. He didn't look much different that when I'd last seen him about 18 miles ago. I've seen him much more tired after shorter efforts, I think he's pretty much ready for the Leadville steps. 

On Sunday a did a shake down or recovery cruise out on the Emma Quarry OB.  My Sunday pace is easy; a great start to the day and a nice winding down of the week's effort. This week was a good one and a big one; we'll see what it's like to keep going...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week Summary (Jul 24) - Light week and feeling it

Chocolate Factory OB: 6.0 mi (+464 ft); 9:17 pace
Short Loop Loop: 4.4 mi (+446 ft); 8:55 pace
Ophir Grade OB: 6.3 mi (+1,013 ft); 9:34 pace
TRT - Kingsbury to Spooner: 14.1 mi (+2,094 ft); 10:39 pace
Larrys Loop: 7.9 mi (+1,133 ft); 11:02 pace

Weekly Totals: 38.7 mi (+5,151 ft); 6:33:19 on trail

A rather light week following a recent steady weekly increase in mileage. Maybe that got into my head a little bit because each day felt more difficult than the previous week's efforts. Still almost 40 miles this week is a lot more on average than I was doing only a little more than five weeks ago.  Also hit a rolling total of 195 miles in a 30-day period, so maybe I should be feeling a bit tired. 

A picture post this week as I'm on the road to Utah for some fieldwork.  I will have some follow-up posts later in the week because Dennis and Mary continued their winning streak by again taking gold medals at the Pioneer 10K in Provo, Utah, and Footfeathers, who was staying at Dennis and Mary's house while they raced in Provo, won the Grand Mesa 100 outside Grand Junction, Colorado.  Darren and I kept to our glorious training on the Tahoe Rim Trail. Dez ordered an endurance saddle that will fit a as yet undiscovered horse of coming training; Coach is doing fine and may get some special footpads for a few more trail miles.  Nice work for the Young Mountain Runners.

A gravity storm on Wednesday's short loop found me blowing bubbles in the dirt.  Thankfully I married an athletic trainer and was bandaged up and back on the trail in short order.  It wasn't too bad, but I recommend not crashing into planets when at all possible.
Back to the TRT at Kingsbury

The Yota at Kingsbury
Towards Spooner on the TRT

Darren approaching 12 mile turn-around at Kingsbury

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week Summary (Jul 17) - Benefits of Foundation

Chocolate Factory OB: 6.0 mi (+463 ft); 8:58 pace
Silver Saddle Loop: 6.3 mi (+311 ft); 9:58 pace
No Hands to Auburn OB (Cool, CA): 7.0 mi (+1053 ft); 9:30 pace
TRT - Spooner South OB: 18.2 mi (+2,887 ft); 10:58 pace
Cottonwood Loop: 11.0 mi (+766 ft); 10:05 pace

Weekly Totals: 48.5 mi (+5,480 ft); 8:25:39 on trail

On the Tahoe Rim Trail south of Spooner Summit
I continue to hope that each week of running will bring continued good efforts and results, along with something to ponder in each summary blog post. This is basically a journal with, I hope, some occasional geography, beauty, and insight based on putting one foot in front of the other. The current week was motivated by race reports from the Hardrock 100, especially Tim's reality-infused and ego-reflective, truer-than-life posts at Footfeathers. While running among the giants and demons, he exemplifies what it means to "Keep going..."

Continuing down the path, I reached a new personal best for miles in a week and time on the trail. I can certainly feel it, but it really feels like success.  The week started with a PR pace on the Chocolate Factory OB, over a minute better than last week and even better that paces for shorter runs on the same trail. I'm very happy with that result after the relatively high miles of the week prior. On Wednesday, Desna had a group meeting with the Nevada All State Trail Riders (NASTR), an equine endurance association, at Silver Saddle Ranch in Carson City, so I explored the trails along the Carson River going from River Bottom Ranch (where her horse is boarded) to Silver Saddle. The single-track gave out near Mexican Dam on the Carson, but it was a good exploration for future runs in that area.

Work took me to Davis, CA, on Thursday so I improvised a run that evening on a segment of the Western States trail, starting at No Hands Bridge and climbing to Auburn, basically the last few miles of the 100-mile race. I tagged along with groups of runners in a high school cross-country meet. I was passed by the leaders but hung-on for 10th place or so!  I've no idea how far they had come when they caught me at the bridge. I got a bit lost in Auburn so I turned back to the trail and descended down to the car. I wasn't prepared for the sweat-fest and will probably need to invest in some seat-covers or at least a towel for the humid foothills excursions.

The weekend brought in my first back-to-back (B2B) efforts. Although not a major B2B by future standards, the Saturday and Sunday runs would both be over 10 miles in length and I had been thinking about this weekend for a while. I look forward to each weekend "big" day. There is slight trepidation as the mileage grows, but I'm realizing that each week continue to builds the foundation and produces measurable results. I reach each goal (so far) and am a little surprised and very happy with the progress. "Hey, that was a blast!" is a common statement each Saturday. There will undoubtedly be a threshold were the mileage isn't a "blast" and I'll have to look deep for success, but the foundation will also make that possible.  

Saturday, Darren and I headed to Spooner Summit for an Out-and-Back on the Tahoe Rim Trail.  I think the TRT will be a common destination on the weekends. It hasn't been brutally hot this summer, but the high ridges around Tahoe are cooler and the trails through the forests and granite outcrops are fantastic. Desna joined us at Spooner to explore the forest roads and flowers with Tephra. 

North Tahoe from the TRT near Spooner
Darren into the sun on the TRT
The trail south of the Spooner trailhead climbs steadily to expansive views of Tahoe. Without much warm-up, we plodded up through the forest, wondering when we'd get that first strider that allowed us to stretch out a little. It was almost five miles before we got a little pick-up in our pace. The partnership with my brother, Darren, is another foundation that has been re-building with the miles on the trails. He's been generously incorporating my efforts into his trail regime. At Spooner, he paced along behind me for 9 miles as we talked about Leadville (his coming 100 event) and enjoyed the astounding wildflowers and blue lake-sky of the Tahoe basin. He says it fits his training plans and maybe he just needs to get accustomed to going slow to survive 100 miles. Best of all, it's great fun to share info on our flight plan for the week, where we'll go and how we'll solve little logistical issues. He lives close by, but for several years our interaction had been almost incidental, lost among day-to-day activities. This is as important as any other goal.

I turned back at 9 miles seeking my goal of 18 on the return, and looking at the possibility of getting under 3:30 on the trail. Darren continued on for another mile so he could reach 20 with the return. I dropped into the parking lot at Spooner at 3:28, "what a blast!"  Dez called from the NDOT station where she and Tephra had ended, and then Darren strolled into the parking lot, just two minutes behind me. We proclaimed that MC Escher had designed that trail. After all the opening climbing, we were sure that we had closed climbing; out-and-back all uphill! Fun stuff.

Completed the B2B on Sunday by running a loop north of VC, following Long Valley out to Cottonwood Springs. The first mile, downhill on pavement, was hard, I simply couldn't get any fluid motion going. And then, after a mile or so, I hit the groove and enjoyed the movement through the pinyons. Looped to 11 miles, not too speedy but very enjoyable and happy with my first little B2B weekend. Thanks to the foundation, I can continue to keep going... 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Week Summary (Jul 10) - Miles on the TRT

Chocolate Factory OB: 6.1 mi (+510 ft); 10:20 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.5 mi (+441 ft); 9:14 pace
Ophir Grade OB: 7.4 mi (+760 ft); 8:40 pace
TRT - Star Lake OB: 18.0 mi (+3,048 ft); 12:02 pace
Long Valley OB: 7.2 mi (+480 ft); 10:27 pace

Weekly Totals: 44.2 mi (+5,239 ft); 8:14:36 on trail

The RFP training strategy, now that I have completed Week #6, is becoming a habitual routine. During the work-week I have succumbed to a relatively small variety of trails because they work within my schedule and they vary enough to keep the workouts interesting. I followed my usual routine of heading down to the Chocolate Factory Out-and-Back on Tuesday, letting the heat take its toll and working the legs back from the previous weekend on Peavine. The Emma Quarry Out-and-Back on Wednesday evening is always enjoyable, I simply love the views and the flowers still greet me though they are quickly drying out. Afternoon thunder provided its own measure of variety, a good run and nice break from the heat.

I was out in the Carson Lake basin for work on Thursday. Although work has yet to compromise my training schedule (and hopefully vice versa) I was curious how a full day in the field might affect things. Yet I experienced no drawbacks and enjoyed the variety of an evening run on Ophir Grade.  I took out some of the steep sections and added some fartleks on the climb and descent.  I felt great and produced some good paces even as I extended the fartleks beyond half-mile sections.

Going to Star Lake, and back
I test the overall strategy against the miles on the weekends. In preparation for the Leadville 100, Darren is looking to get some miles at altitude combined with good elevation gains. We conspired a Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) run with that in mind, and in mild homage to all the intrepid runners attempting the Hardrock 100 this weekend in the San Juans of Colorado this weekend, probably most difficult 100-mile test in the US each year. Darren and I focused on the Kingsbury to Big Meadow segment (23.1 miles) of the TRT. Darren would start at Big Meadow heading north toward Star Lake, bagging the elevation gain of Freel Peak (10,888') on a  2-mile sidetrip.  I would head from Kingsbury to Star Lake (9 miles) for an Out-and-Back of 18 miles.  If things worked out we'd meet up somewhere after the time I reached the lake.  It didn't work out, but was splendid nonetheless.

Carson Valley from the TRT
I climbed quickly through the Heavenly Ski Resort along the beautifully constructed, single-track trail. I was the first on the trail this morning and was greeted with mild temperatures and crystalline blue sky. The trail traverses the east side of the Carson Range just below the ridgeline dominated by Montgomery Peak. As I emerged from the trees onto the granitic slopes below the peak, the green of Carson Valley spread out almost 4,000 feet below me. The single-track hugs the steep slope where you can step into the sky until switching back a few times to reach Montgomery Pass.  At the pass, I drop into the Tahoe basin contouring through forest, boulders, and an occasional patch of snow until I reach the Star Lake. Didn't seem to take long at all but my watch told me I had been on the trail for two hours. 

DCraig at Star Lake
While I was enjoying the clear single-track to Star Lake, Darren was struggling to find any sign of the trail only three miles above Big Meadow. Snow still covers the forest floor along the southern reach of the trail making orienteering a required skill. Despite the snow, Darren worked his way to Armstrong Pass where the snow disappeared for a while. He'd been slowed down but was enjoying the challenge and soon found himself on the north ridge of Freel Peak heading toward its summit. He called to let me know his progress while on the ridge; I was just arriving at Star Lake.  I would turn back and he would follow though he knew a few snow fields would slow his progress.  The ridge and peak were generally clear, but the cirques and forested slopes have yet to shed their winter cover.
Darren's Tahoe Rim "Trail"

Darren dropped from the peak to learn, again, that the TRT single-track was not to be found.  Scraping and shoveling of snow attracted his attention downslope, maybe some hikers were making their way from Star Lake, his mid-point goal. The sound's source turned into a gaping hole with very prominent, freshly imprinted bear tracks. The tracks pointed downslope, so Darren turn back up-slope, back in the general direction of the unseen lake. I had told him that the trail was good north of Star Lake and that he should be at an elevation equal to that of Montgomery Pass which he could see. After several miles of crossing snow he realized he had to regain altitude to get to the cirque of Star Lake, and soon found the Star Lake Trail (an off-shoot of the TRT) and climbed back to the lake. Now he could enjoy the true character of the summer-time TRT.

Nice Single-track below Montgomery Pass
While Darren skated and climbed his way to Star Lake, I retraced my steps toward Kingsbury. Feeling none of the effort of the previous week, I cruised easily along the trail. It is in these moments that the weekly training pays dividends. I wasn't moving especially fast, I was simply going easily along the trail enjoying being at altitude and on great single-track. At moments I did try to increase my pace and test my legs as I moved beyond 15 miles. Getting a bit carried away while descending the second-to-last switchback in Heavenly, I tripped on a technical section and skidded to a four-point landing, knees, hips, hands, and elbows, between two boulders.  I was happy with the result and only slightly bloodied and torn by the crash.  It was the boulder I full-frontal kicked maybe thirty seconds later that brought true pain, though I didn't come close to going down twice.  

Darren 25 miles later
I arrived at Kingsbury (Stagecoach Lift Trailhead) muddied and newly bruised but what a perfect run! Not even half as spent as I was on a shorter effort last week (the cool temps certainly helped).  Darren finished about two hours later with over seven hours on the trail and 25 miles covered.  He, too, thought it was the best worst 25-mile time he'd ever had.  It's what we do.  A damn good day.

I brushed things out with a little over seven miles on Sunday morning, the bruises hurt getting started but other elements feel fine though they move a bit slower. My toe is blue from the second stumble yesterday, but it doesn't affect my stride. Rolled through the horses of Long Valley in the late morning.  Last time I ran this route it was 11 degrees on Thanksgiving Day 2010, today I'm in only shorts and shoes, trying to remember how this all started.

Dennis and Mary recovered from their ascent of Mt. Shavano and hit their routine again this week. They capped off the week with six miles on Saturday and 5.6 on the trails of Easter Hill on Sunday. They are preparing for the Pioneer 10K races in Provo, Utah, in a couple weeks. 

Here's to all those who started Hardrock to head for the finish line, a 100 miles, 33,000 feet, and up to 48 hours later. Our friend and coach Tim Long, aka Footfeathers, finished 44 hours after toeing the line in Silverton, Colorado. Almost half the field did not complete the arduous loop in the San Juans. Cheers to Tim, and all the others, for keeping going...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Week Summary (Jul 3) - Days of Speed and Heat

Gold Canyon OB: 6.0 mi (+376 ft); 9:15 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.5 mi (+426 ft); 8:20 pace
Ophir Grade OB: 8.1 mi (+1,274 ft); 9:16 pace
Halo Trail at Peavine (Reno, Nevada): 16.2 mi (+2,048 ft); 12:34 pace
Larrys Loop: 7.9 mi (+1,142 ft); 11:07 pace

Weekly Totals: 43.7 mi (+5,266 ft); 7:48:48 on trail

The fifth week of my training (RFP #5) brought some new experiences to the routine. I have been getting somewhat acclimated to the distances, even the relatively prodigious numbers I once associated with weekends. In fact, I recall back in January being restless at the thought of a planned run to Fort Churchill, Nevada, from a starting point at Highway 50, a now common-place distance of 15 miles. I begin this new phase with a slight bump in total weekly miles but this brings with it my first work with speed drills. The speed training is relegated to Thursdays, but I found I was thinking about it throughout the week. And let me be clear, speed is a very relative term.

There is some debate regarding the utility of speed-work while training for the long distances associated with ultras. This is outlined in Relentless Forward Progress which includes two opposing essays from the viewpoints of experienced ultra-runners. In my mind, I had taken a middle stance while focusing on my concern over re-injuring my hamstrings or finding new ways to injure myself. I certainly didn't want to hit a track for field sprints or interval training of that kind though I know it has worked well for Dennis and Mary (Dad and Mom). With that in mind, I thought I'd more likely follow the advice of Geoff Roes (2010 Western States 100-mile champion) and take advantage of the hill-climbs that surround my home; I didn't need sprints, I would simply add high-intensity elevation gains to my Thursday trail run.

In last week's taper I sometimes felt frustrated at the short distances now that I'm working with a decent training foundation.Yet, following Tuesday's nice wandering out-and-back in Gold Canyon, I found myself heading out, as is usual, for my Wednesday-favorite Emma Quarry Out-and-Back. This is my standard "short" run on the mid-week evening, and almost anytime I want to get in a 5-miler.  The route loops easily south of town to find a rocky single-track above the Combination Mine. Pinyons grab at me until the trail widens slightly where ATVs have pirated the route. Another short single-track then connects me to "Rocky Road", a cobble-strewn mile just technical enough to create focus with each step.  This heads toward the quarry trail where I loop around a short, steep climb and head home. At one point the quarry trail emerges from enclosing rock and pinyon presenting a tasty eastward view stretching maybe 100 miles to the Toiyabe Range. Early in the run, I realized this was one of those days and trails that come easy and go happily; I would almost certainly return home wanting a few more miles.  Because I was thinking about my "speed" week, what I might do and how I would react to it, I decided to test a new, higher pace a day early, thinking that I could respond to the good vibes by going faster instead of wishing for further. The mind-set and effort paid dividends in a pace PR for this route that is significantly faster than my previous best pace.  Plus, I wasn't completely spent, it seemed a good sign.

Noon on "speed" Thursday brought the highest temperatures of the newly arrived summer, at least 85 degrees on a day that would break into the 90s. I had some new Patagonia shorts to try out; the pale-blue Long Haulers are a little shorter than I'm used to, but their light weight makes them perfect for the hot days. As I left the office shirtless, one of the guys (Albert) asked me if I'd forgot my pants. Maybe they are a little close to boxers, I thought. But I hardly ever see anyone on Ophir Grade and it was dumb to think about 'em that way. I clicked my gps/watch on and took off. And then the tourist train pulled into the station. I have to cross the tracks at the station to climb into the canyon leading to the grade, but today (I usually time it better) I'm blocked by a trainload of camera-toting tourists stopping to see the things the conductor tells them to see. Mixed into his hourly repeated speech about Gold Hill and the Yellowjacket Mine he says, "And here is an 1870s miner jogging by." He can ad-lib afterall.  Barely ten feet from the train car I wave and say hello, figuring the cameras didn't expect a guy in his boxers on this tour.  

Soon I'm at the top of the first hill away from the tracks and on the grade. I would do fartleks, fast intervals based on landmarks (e.g., trees, boulders, switchbacks on the grade) rather than time periods or specific distances.  I'd run these as fast as possible and rest at a slow pace until I could repeat, paying attention always to what my body was telling me about the effort. Don't get hurt! The efforts came easier than expected, but each fartlek would generate a good burn through my legs and lungs. This wasn't the Roes method, though I was climbing the grade with a moderate elevation gain. I went harder than I expected and I was happy I gave it a go. In the long run it should prove beneficial in two primary ways.  First, it will improve my overall fitness and make hard efforts, when necessary even at low paces, possible. Second, I will get better at running quickly on technical terrain, picking and placing my feet at pace is a skill I could improve upon. So fartleks will become part of the Thursday "high" days.

I felt it on Friday (a rest day), too.  Nice to have a regularly scheduled PT session with Tony. He focused on the newly fired-up groin muscles and general runner's maintenance. The hips and hamstrings are beginning to hold their own as the foundation builds.

Chasing Darren on the Halo Trail above Reno, NV.
Desna took off for Seattle to see Kristen and Robert (and Rush on their last day of the Moving Pictures Tour), so Darren and I headed to the Halo Trail on Peavine after I stopped off at the airport. We would have like to have started earlier, the heat was already ominous by 9:30 in the morning. Darren led the way on a wonderfully winding single-track, moving in and out of the lower canyons of Peavine Mountain. We started up Keystone Canyon in the midst of a mountain bike race but were careful not to interfere. It had been a long time since I was last on the slopes of Peavine, but I quickly remembered the once-familiar pattern of the canyons, ridges, and outcrops. The heat didn't seem too bad in the slight breeze of the ridgetops, but in the canyons the oven-like convection tugged at my legs and lungs. It was good practice for hydrating and keeping the fuel levels good. After 13 miles Darren left for a birthday party, but I had a 16-mile promise to keep and kept going for another climb and drop into Evans Canyon. It was to date the hardest effort I have sustained at my new distances.  A bit of suffering partially due to the heat (96° for the last hour), but probably also due to some remnants of "speed" training earlier in the week. I am happy that I haven't felt the artifacts that such a draining effort might bring, and that I kept going even on a day that I didn't feel that I was performing at even my average level.

Surprisingly, Sunday's early morning run, looping almost 8 miles around my friend Larry's property was very enjoyable. No nagging pain or grogginess.  Not "speedy" by any means, but a good enjoyable pace on a great trail; a trail certain to become a regular installment when that distance feels right. The heats of Week 5 end with challenging effort and great recovery, lessons for the long run.

Dennis and Mary made the summit of Mt. Shavano (a Colorado 14-er) while Darren and I cooked on the bump of Peavine (a Nevada 7-er). Hope to hear the stories soon.