Sunday, September 25, 2011

Week Summary (Sep 25) - Escaping the Thunder and Ready for the Fire

Gold Dayton Loop: 7.2 mi (+645 ft); 10:01 pace
Buena Vista Loop: 7.6 mi (+358 ft); 10:04 pace
Kitten Springs Pass OB: 18.1 mi (+3,665 ft); 12:39 pace
Ophir Pass: 15.2 mi (+1,644 ft); 9:42 pace

Weekly Totals: 48.1 mi (+6,312 ft); 8:44:40 on trail

Although I missed a training day due to work for the first time during my own version of Relentless Forward Progress, I capped it off with the best B2B (back-to-back) set of runs in my trail career. In fact, Sunday's run over Ophir Pass, connecting Virginia City and Washoe Lake, ranks as my best 2+ hours on the trail to date. It came as a complete surprise and I soaked it up.

This (Week 17) training-week was set up to be the highest mileage (51) yet in the 24-week RFP training schedule; plus it ended with a nifty 18 & 14 B2B-weekend. I've had higher totals on race weeks and I've reached higher weekly totals by choice, but this one looked a little intimidating on my schedule. No photos this week, though Des has a video of Buena Vista camp floating around somewhere (I'll post it when we get it loaded).

I started with hot lunch on Tuesday by running the interesting loop down Gold Canyon, basically connecting Silver City with Dayton, and back along the Chocolate Factory course.  Temperatures in the 90s bogged me down a little, but I still rather enjoy the good sweat to clear up the workload of the early week. I capped the day by signing up for the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 scheduled for October 8th.  Really a 50-mile training run in my overall plan of making 100, but I'm stoked and especially happy I'll be running and competing with Darren! We booked a hotel in Castro Valley just down the road from the start.

This is Thunder on the Mountain week, an event connected to Street Vibrations in Reno/Sparks. Thirty-five thousand Harleys converge on the area; an aptly named event if ever there was one. Des and I make sure we are very far away. By chance, the week also corresponded with a field project in the Stillwater Mountains about a 100 miles east of town, so we packed up the trailer and headed to the desert of Buena Vista Valley at the base of the mountains. But our departure was delayed by workload in the lab, so my evening run was bumped as we climbed in the rig and headed into the darkness.  Three hours later we had camp set in the quiet of Buena Vista.

I jumped up Thursday morning thinking I'd make up the missed five miles of Wednesday and run again later in the day. But a loop along a powerline road and some cow/horse-trails led me on a 7+ mile excursion across broad, loess-covered alluvial fans. It was a dusty morning run, but it felt good.  Actually a touch of coolness on this first day of Fall.  I thought about running in the evening, again, to make up the missed miles, but my crew showed up and had plenty of stories to tell, so I had little regret in their fellowship at our little camp.

Friday I guided a group of agency personnel and several local Paiute to an ethnohistoric pinyon camp I had previously re-located high in the Stillwater Mountains. A nice hike, but well-below cross-training purposes -- seven hours to cover four miles. It was a good day in the hills, but I wouldn't count it toward any weekly totals.

We stayed into Saturday to avoid the "thunder" in VC so I set my sights on a pass in the Stillwaters by following the Kitten Springs Road east-to-west and back again.  I set off before dawn slowly climbing the long ramp of the mountain-front fans. The rising sun foretold an unseasonably warm day, so I was happy to hit the lower groves of the pinyon-juniper woodland that flourishes in the Stillwaters. The canyons were still cool and darker than I expected. Thoughts of "kittens" played in my head, and though I've always wanted to see one of the big cats that prowl these hills, I'd be satisfied with some distance, not the close confines of a woody canyon. I checked my Nathan pack for my bear-whistle and, of course, it's gone missing. But the morning's too nice to be paranoid, and I have climbing to do. While the cats undoubtedly watched, I made the pass at about 6,370 feet at the nine-mile point, two hours into the trail. I then dropped into Cottonwood Canyon, keeping the descent under control until I reached the cool-running, canyon-bottom creek and heard the coyotes singing somewhere back above me.

Dowsing myself with the beautiful water, I turned back to climb to the pass, a gain of 1,300 feet in just under  three miles. It's a good two-track road and I was surprised by not having to walk any of the steeper sections. With that I was back at the pass to see Des and Tephra waiting. Tephra joined me for the descent to the water at Kitten Springs (streams and seeps still going well this late in the year). And we carried on, running out of the pinyon-juniper canyons and onto the fans. The heat was rising, so I stuck with my plan and ended my journey about half-way down the fan at just over 18 miles. Nothing like a good outback trail, just me and my little crew.

A "cold" front signals a change Saturday night and into Sunday. A cloudy cool morning greets Virginia City and should keep the "thunder" slightly subdued. I continued my B2B weekend with a trail that combines a portion of my Emma Quarry route with a crossing of Ophir or Jumbo Pass toward Washoe Lake State Park. Although the names vary, I refer to Jumbo Grade as the direct route into Washoe Valley and to Ophir Grade as the waterline segment that traverses the hills to the southeast and south of Washoe Lake. Dirt roads and trails criss-cross the southern extent of the Virginia Range providing innumerable trail configurations. I would head to the small lake-side ranch were Des keeps Coach and Strider, she'd be working them today so I'd have a ride home when I reached the lake.

I thought this day would be a slog due to the mileage and elevation of yesterday's Kitten Springs Pass. But something in the coolness and the slightly ominous wave-clouds surfing the Sierra energized me. I felt very strong climbing the grade and actually laughed out loud as I turned the switchbacks and powered into the next stretch. I mean this wasn't any Karl Meltzer Speedgoat-like ascent, but I was clicking off ascending miles that had 9s leading the pace times. I actually thought of breaking some PR for 14 miles with some possibility of doing it under two hours given that I'd be descending to the lake soon. I actually started pushing, and felt good doing it. But hubris caught me as I dropped into the first of two amazingly steep-sided canyons. Two break-neck descents followed by similarly steep or steeper climbs; bang-bang, you're dead in the trail. I worked back from those to cruise into the ranch with a still great time, under 2:30 for 15 miles and over 1,600 feet of climb. And this was the second leg of a B2B that I once-upon-a-time dreaded. Turns out, I've never felt happier and performed better on the trail. A good day to be going.

If I analyze my success, I realize a few key components. I've established a foundation that keeps building and supporting the longer (maybe faster) efforts. I've been fueling during the runs with discipline, hydration plus GUs plus a few Cliff Bloks (the Margarita flavor 'roks'), while timing the fueling intervals, sticking to them, and not waiting for the feel of needing energy. During Saturday's 18 I wore McDavid compression calf-sleeves and kept them on for packing camp and the drive home. The white sleeves feel great and I failed to notice any heat-related penalty for wearing them. These undoubtedly contributed to the fresh readiness in the engines of Sunday's run. Plus, I ran the La Sportiva Wildcats all weekend, thinking that I'd move away from the Electrons on the less technical roads and trails. I'm leaning towards the 'cats for Firetrails.

Based on some emails from Darren (hey bro, miss the blog! but love your notes tagged to the Garmin data), he had a very similar weekend. A B2B that surprised him and added some fun to the weekend. He's burning up the trail and I can tell he's as ready as I am for Firetrails.  Dennis and Mary returned from the Midwest (2,849 miles!) and should soon be in the trail news again, I know they are missing it. Get back out there. And keep going...

1 comment:

  1. I miss my blog too! I've got a whole summer recap to do ("The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly"). Maybe I'll just wait until after Fire Trails...

    You've got the running dedication down! Only one day missing from your RFP? Amazing! And it's starting to show in the B2B's.