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...


  1. Excellent recap of the week! Close to 45 on the week, is that a "high" mileage wise?

    I attempted Mt. Rose this morning only to be stopped by snow on the "new" single track. I attempted to get to Relay Peak instead and made it to just below 10,000 ft. but the snow was relentless there as well and I turned back (9 miles). I'm impressed by the amount of snow still in the high country in July!

    Got myself some wounds today as well (It's what we do?).


  2. I just learned that fartlek is an actual word... I thought you were effin' with me! LMAO...

  3. Incidentally it is derived from the Swedish fart (meaning speed) and lek (meaning play)... Originated in 1950-55...

  4. All those years of being around me and she's never heard the term Fartlek? They were part of my cycling training since '85!