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...


  1. Absolutely fantastic weekend! Thanks for all your help out there; we're ready for Leadville!

  2. Yay for the Young(ster) brothers! Fun to read and an inspiration :)