Sunday, September 18, 2011

Week Summary (Sep 18) - Playas and Red Rocks

Cemetery 5 OB: 5.1 mi (+529 ft); 9:19 pace
Primm OB: 4.3 mi (+93 ft); 9:31 pace
Ivanpah Playa OB: 7.1 mi (+35 ft); 9:19 pace
Rusty Cliffs - St George, UT: 18.6 mi (+1,831 ft); 11:35 pace
Ophir Grade OB: 7.4 mi (+902 ft); 10.40 pace

Weekly Totals: 42.5 mi (+3,390 ft); 7:28:52 on trail

Working in the Mojave Desert this week, just south of Las Vegas. The conditions weren't at all what I expect for this time of year, but it made for a wonderful few days of work and cool, wet mornings for a few miles of trail.

This was a slight recovery week following the weekend's effort. So before I climbed in the truck to drive toward the Mojave, I got in a few miles around the VC cemetery. Felt no major artifacts of the IT trouble of Saturday. I've been diligent about the roller massage and ice, and I think it is paying off. Once I get driving, I make sure to stop every couple hours for a walkabout to keep things moving.

Really, it's the Mojave Desert; an old highway east of Ivanpah
Monsoon moisture combined with a decent shot of cool air brought a refreshing few days of thunderstorms to the Ivanpah Valley south of Vegas. I ran a short 4 from the Buffalo Bill Casino, crossing the fans above the Roach Lake playa. The tracked roads were muddy from Tuesday's rain.

The rains that followed me all day Wednesday produce a thick fog on Thursday morning. The Ivanpah Lake playa is closed to motorized vehicles and I had some reconnaissance to work out along its margins, so I planned my morning run into the work program for that day. As I crossed the highway the fog seemed to lift and I was a little disappointed that the rising sun was breaking through. But it closed in quickly as I left the truck and skirted the playa for 7 miles. It was surreal moving through shrouded creosote bushes as I kept my bearings by following the playa margin and keeping the diluted orb of the sun over my right shoulder.

A taste of red rocks above St. George, UT
Road to the rocks and Pioneer Trail
As I wrapped up work on Friday afternoon, I decided to head to St. George to deliver real beer to Footfeathers. It would also give us the opportunity to run some red rocks. And that we did. Dawn comes very late, almost 8 AM, this far west in the Mountain Time Zone, but the heat had yet to return to the desert, so we took our time getting ready. We started right from Tim's front door and very soon were climbing a low red outcrop, first following a two-lane highway but soon hitting a trail head. We traced our way along some classic slickrock crags and steps. Some sandy hills led to an abruptly black volcanic scarp; black boulders strewn across red slickrock. After some searching, we found the perfect single-track and wound toward the Rusty Cliffs. Tim had said he almost never saw anyone on the trails, but today the local outback was virtually teeming with hikers and doggers. Still, we were mostly on our own. We skirted a crazy green golf-course (looked fun) and climbed until the trail petered out.

Toward Signal Peak

Footfeathers on the City Creek Single-track
On our in-bound we detoured along some craggy loops and little hills; all of which started to get a little challenging as the mileage increased. Footfeathers is preparing for the Bear 100 next weekend so I hope this little tour through his local scene was appropriate. I'm lucky to get to run with Darren quite a lot, and it was fun to join another successful ultrarunner on the trail. Experienced runners have an effortless floating style that  I'd like to emulate; Tim would easily pull away, moving across rocks and rills that I had to cautiously tread. But he'd wait and we'd soon continue our conversation about running history, the ultra blogosphere, and pluses and minuses of his recent move to St. George. The morning was a nice divergence from my usual Saturday redoubts. 

Slickrocks are a great Trail Option
Based on Tim's recommendation, I'm giving a few pieces of McDavid compression gear a try. I ran in their calf sleeves for our 18 miles in the red rocks and I look forward to trying their other products. By supporting and reducing the stresses of repetitive impact on connective tissue and musculature, compression clothing helps keep the machine running and protected across the miles. I will be giving the McDavid shirts, shorts, and socks a thorough trail and recovery test between now and Firetrails.

Compression sleeves are especially useful when, following a multi-hour run, I jump in the truck for a nine-hour journey home. I grabbed some burritos in St. George or Santa Clara (I couldn't tell where I was) and hit the road through Panaca, Caliente, and Tonopah, Nevada.  I made it to VC by 10 PM, back in the Pacific Time Zone.

Up Sunday for a jaunt on Ophir Grade, following the hoof-prints of the Virginia City 100 (held this weekend). Des had volunteered as part of the veterinary staff, so I joined the group at the Ice House for their post-race breakfast. There is significant cross-over between equine endurance and ultra-running. I met several people who had done Western States (aka Tevis Cup), both with horses and as runners.  A nice wrap to a busy week on the trail, and on the road.

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