Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Little of Everything

Week Summary

River Flats to Mexican Dam OB: 12.4 mi (+182 ft); 10:47 pace
Gold Canyon OB: 5.1 mi (+424 ft); 10:37 pace
Goni East Hill Repeats: 6.0 mi (+1,277 ft); 12:39 pace
Gold to Sutro Loop: 18.6 mi (+2,694 ft); 12:20 pace
Weekly Totals: 42.1 mi (+4,577 ft); 8:12:50 on trail

Sun Mountain above Virginia City
The "winter" weather is unbelievable. I can think of this to be good or bad depending on whether I'm out on the trails or pondering the dire lack of Sierran snow. But making the best of it, I continue the trail toward the San Diego 100 reaching some relatively high (for me) training levels early in the season. The training schedule cycles between local races and here in the middle, between Brooks Falls and the Mathis Memorial run, I'm focusing on some building exercises.

Tuesday, under threatening skies that delivered little, I cruised for 12 miles along the Carson River. It was a Base effort for two hours, the most miles I have done in a mid-week jog. A year ago I impressed myself with a 10-mile weekend run; how things have changed. I followed on Wednesday with the usual Base effort, this time contouring around Gold Canyon which gave me an idea for Saturday's Long effort.

And then the dreaded Thursday Hill Repeats! I bet there are probably some who look forward to this kind of workout, but I had been thinking about this particular run since the weekend. Sure they aren't any fun, but repeats will add hill-climb endurance and make other efforts seem less taxing. I did seven repeats, two minutes at a time building on previous 5-repeat efforts. With each repeat I climb about 200 feet. That doesn't sound too impressive, but at that effort level and current fitness (which I think is pretty good) I could not go any further.

My dog and mid-week teammate Tephra surely thinks these repeats are nuts. She finally chose to lie down under a juniper as she lost interest in the back-and-forth, up-and-down cycles. I typically rest on the descent and have about three to four minutes between climbs. By the time I get back to the Yota, the pace seems very pedestrian but the average includes the rest periods. I joked with Footfeathers about how I was quitting the repeats forever, but he encouraged me to keep at them and I'll soon be reaping benefits. Of course, I won't quit.

Red Lines - The Fabric of the Trail Option Universe
I love maps. I spend way too much time searching out interesting locations on my paper topos and I'm certainly addicted to Google Earth, probably the best tool developed in the age of information overload. I plot all of my trails and constantly seek new places to explore. Of course, most of my routes are concentrated on the ridgetops, hills, and contours around Virginia City. But I also have any number of trails plotted away from Sun Mountain and the Comstock. In Google Earth this appears as a jumble of lines at the center of my trail universe with satellite trails at Tahoe and in adjacent valleys. At the outer reaches are some far away races and runs that make up the edges of my trail travels to date. When I sit down to plan a run I often conspire to connect the center with the satellites. One goal this year is to connect the VC trails with the my Tahoe runs where there is currently a five-mile gap near Snow Valley Peak. Last week we closed the gap between VC and the Goni Trails and River Flats; I have a solid line from the front door to Prison Hill. This week I chose to connect my Gold Canyon - Chocolate Factory trails to VC.

Silver City 
Again the skies threatened snow, but warm sunshine broke through the clusters of heavy clouds. I sought a trail from VC down to Silver City having to skirt around private property. I couldn't keep my pace up but I always enjoy a little cross-country travel with sage and bitterbrush tearing at me and rocks and scree chasing me down trail-less hills. I warmed to a single shirt as I skirted above Gold Canyon making the first connection between VC and the satellite trails. I dropped to Highway 50 at Dayton and cruised along a couple miles of roads keeping a 9:30 pace for several miles. I'm realizing I'm much slower without Darren to pace me, but my target was an overall pace of about 11 minutes per mile so this was a good section. The climbs to come would hurt the stats but increase the fun.

Skies above Sutro Pass
Sutro Trail
It was almost hot in the sun of Dayton Valley but as I climbed from Sutro the first sleet squalls hit me. Although recently sweating from the sunny beginnings of the ascent, I was now reaching for my jacket and pulling my hat down over my eyes to keep the snow pellets at bay. The Sutro Road to VC is a rocky, canyon-confined climb that shifts from a bedrock path to a well-built (once upon a time) rock-lined track to Sutro Pass. Just east of the pass I intersected an old out-and-back map line and closed another loop in my trail system. Once across the pass I hit the mud of the half-melted snows and slogged my way back home.

This route had a bit of everything. I had blood, mud, sweat, sleet, and slop, usually in some interesting combination. At one point, back on the Emma Quarry Trail and almost home, my Electrons, which had served so well in the cross-country terrain and canyon-bound bedrock, lost their grip and I found myself butt-bound ricocheting down a snow-covered single-track -- certainly my best pace of the day! Here's to a great outing.

Dayton Valley from Sutro Pass

I'm feeling a little beat up today so I'm resting the machine. Over the past couple weeks my feet have been sore when not running. Just a general stiffness that is improved with movement and stretching. I can't point to any specific pain but I will be keeping a tab on any changes. A few hours in the Five Fingers feels really good.

Congrats to Footfeathers! Tim ripped up the American Canyon 50k, placing first and setting a new course record. The new course record is almost 20 minutes faster than the previous mark. Nice. He is now two for two in 2012 50K events.


  1. So...Lily and I ran about and 11 min pace late morning this morning for what is becoming my 10 route--dirt road from the house south to the end of said sandy challenge. I was rested from the week and it felt quite good...I did the same run 3 days prior but was beat by the end of the evening (closing at Comma on my own), and completely taxed by Friday afternoon after finishing grading a stack of essays. I tell Lily we will have to find out "Emma" run soon....I hope you will consider exploring a route crossing the river to meet up with us at some point :) Loved the fast-paced skree (sp?) comment!

  2. Pretty soon the black of Lake Tahoe and squiggly redlines is all we'll see on that map of yours... Right on!

  3. Geez...I need an editor/proofreader! "10K-route"