Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week Summary (Oct 2) - Workload Darkness

Cemetery 5 OB: 5.1 mi (+459 ft); 9:12 pace
Rocky Road Loop: 4.0 mi (+414 ft); 9:15 pace
Ophir Grade OB: 7.2 mi (+1,055 ft); 9:23 pace
TRT - Big Meadow to Echo Summit: 18.0 mi (+3,411 ft); 17:10 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 15.2 mi (+1,644 ft); 9:42 pace

Weekly Totals: 41.0 mi (+5,876 ft); 8:48:55 on trail

The TRT/PCT on the Upper Truckee River
It was one of those weeks were every task was more difficult or time-consuming that it needed to be, and the schedule was at overload. The travel requirements of the the coming week created a log-jam of tasks this week. The pace and short-attention spans necessary to keep things moving exposed problems that I'd normally be able to calmly consider and solve. That doesn't work well after two 17-hour days in the office. On the good side, I maintained and counted on my run schedule.  It forced breaks in the chaos and re-focused the occasionally misplaced priority.

For the first time in a while, this was a local week.  Visited the home-bound trails around the VC Cemetery, the Rocky Road Loop (part of my favorite Emma Quarry short run), and Ophir Grade. I had a slight taper this week working into Firetrails, at least I think that's the purpose of RFP Week 18.  A few of the runs were shorter than usual, so that made me come up with new versions of my home-bound trails.  I worked some "speed" in on Thursday; I think I need to do that more often or in better quality that I currently do. Pushing the work-out on occasion should allow continued growth in strength and endurance.

Marta, south of Big Meadow
The workload continued into Saturday with a Resource Advisory Council meeting in Reno. These quarterly meetings are important for me to keep a pulse on BLM activities and to have some input regarding cultural resources and a multitude of other things. But it cut into my Saturday long day!  So when it wrapped up sometime after noon, I jumped in the Yota and jammed south to meet Marta in Carson City so we could shuttle to the end-points of the Tahoe Rim Trail - Big Meadow to Echo Summit segment. We left the Yota at Echo Summit and backpedaled to Big Meadow to hit the trail at about 3 PM for the 15-mile run.

South of Big Meadow the trail is easy to follow, as long as you pay attention at a few of the intersections, but the volcanic terrain can be gravelly and the trail is a dirt slog in a few places. Early on it made me think this segment might be a low-light on the overall trail.  That was soon to change.

This was Marta's first long effort in many years and she was excited to get a point-to-point segment on the TRT.  And her dog Lily, a border collie rescue, was getting her first run on the long trail. The early climbs and gravelly trail, plus Lily's distractions with the hikers, forced us to re-think our run strategy.  I was ready to go at a slow pace and enjoy the miles, but I was concerned about darkness and it took some patient running and enjoying the scenery.  I was a little surprised at the challenge of altering my pace to run with a friend after so many solo outings. I certainly had no problems with Marta's pace, she was working toward her own overall goal.  And our task today, shortened by my morning distractions, was to get her to that goal.

However, when we realized our pace was about 3.5 miles an hour we reconsidered.  I would go ahead to the seven mile point to complete an out-and-back 14 (as scheduled) and I would meet her on my in-bound where she could start her return. Soon after we initiated that plan (at Round Lake), the trail revealed its TRT glory. It became a wonderful flat to slightly rolling, perfect single track into the valley of the Upper Truckee River. Turning north at the river, you join the PCT and head toward Echo.  The evening sun-angle highlighted all the detail of the early-fall colors of the high valley (upper photo).
 A summer survivor

I turned back at 7.0 but was barely a half-mile on the return when I ran into Lily and Marta; the wonderful trail and carried them forward. So it was back to the original plan! We could turn back for the 7 or so miles to Big Meadow or continue the 8 or so miles to Echo Summit. We had an hour-and-a half of light, so either way we might have a slightly dark finish, so let's get to the goal. The climb out of the Truckee River is fantastic. After Showers Lake it's a granite and volcanic landscape of outcrops, snow-filled gullies (yes, it's still there!), and a broad sweeping climb with open views. Perfect.  I'd move ahead for a ways and wait for just a short while at any trail intersections or cool views.  We moved steadily on until Marta began to really feel the miles and the slight chill of evening at 9,000 feet.  We were on our descent when she decided she needed to slow for the finish. She asked for my headlamp and implied that I should go on.

The Upper Truckee, toward Lake Tahoe (before dark!)
I went ahead for a mile or so, but as darkness crept in I thought better of letting her walk it on her own and turned back. In the intervening minutes, Lily had left the trail and gotten lost.  I could hear Marta calling and soon saw the headlamp pacing the trail in the twilight.  After several tense moments, maybe a half-hour, we heard Lily whimpering from above. She was fine but was having trouble navigating the boulders to regain the trail.  Eventually all was good and she was leashed to keep us together in the growing darkness.

The final three miles were in the dark of the forest, but the calm walk was peaceful.  Having run this last section of the trail in the past, the walk was much longer than I expected. I thought ahead to times when I'll be in the dark on lonely trails trying to get through the night and to the finish of a 100-miler somewhere. I'm looking forward to that challenge.  We found the Yota a little after 8 PM and all was well. Marta reached her goal and the segment is hers; these longer runs will seem normal to her sometime soon.

Up Sunday prepping for fieldwork in Utah.  Because I'd ended with 18 miles last night (added 3 miles to the segment during detours), I hit the trail for 6 this morning, enjoying a slow pace on the Emma Quarry trail.  I was scheduled for a 14-10 back-to-back weekend, but the workload and darkness had conspired against the plan. And that's fine.  I reached my weekend and weekly target and feel good for the this week's taper.

On to Firetrails...


  1. Trail running with you is a very pleasant education. Learning the trails, finding myself very-much in the moment (a real challenge for me historically), among such grandeur and good company was quite lovely. I was wanting to move faster and feeling a bit guilty about that, but you couch this all with such patience. It must be the scientist in you, and being more able than I to take the long view. You have a generous soul--it is one of the things I like about you. On to that 14 you mentioned two weeks hence!

  2. Hope this week has been nice and relaxing for you and you're ready to rip at FT! Looks like good weather so, if you pace it right, your time goal should be attainable!

    Let's run!