Sunday, April 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom

Week Summary
Ash Canyon Tracks: 9.0 mi (+1,321 ft); 10:55 pace
Combination Loop: 4.1 mi (+372 ft); 10:05 pace
Carson River Flats: 9.1 mi (+51 ft); 9:21 pace
Ophir-Bailey-Geiger Loop: 22.1 mi (+2,707 ft); 12:32 pace
Geiger OB: 10.0 mi (+1,207 ft); 12:11 pace

Weekly Totals: 44.3 mi (+4,450 ft); 8:2:34 on trail
April Totals: 170.6 mi (+21,408 ft); 33:10:39 on trail

It's Mary's birthday week. So what does the Young Mountain Runner team do? Go running.

Even Darren, who got some good physical therapy news this week, got back in the act with some shake outs testing the IT and beginning his own therapy toward San Diego. Great news. 

In addition to mom's 69th birthday, this was plumbing and paint-prep week topped off by the chaos, noise, dust, and mechanical hedonism that is the VC motocross event. Trying to get the bathroom done and guiding some plumbers excavating our garage to replace the mainline water feed, I missed a couple days training. But the week was quality nonetheless.  

Great hill repeats in Ash Canyon. I'm really liking that place. Again my last and sixth hill repeat is actually all a slight downhill, but I was sub-8 all the way. And happy I kept the five actual climbing intervals at about a 10-minute pace, though I was a bit disappointed to figure out that I'm not quite gaining 200 feet in the 5-minute interval. But it's hard enough and I think it's paying off.

An easy Wednesday base on the Combination led to Thursday good light tempo on the flats of the Carson River. Nice middle half-hour of sub-8 tempo; I'll probably start to extend the interval slightly for the next couple weeks. It was a return to winter day (we had some snow at the house) and the tempo interval coincided with a wind-driven cold rain; rather reminded me of Brooks Falls 50K back in January.

Upper Track in Bailey Canyon

A bit technical - flag for VC100 Equine
A bit more of the descent
Top of Toll Road, toward Mt. Rose
To escape the remodel and the hornet-like motorcycles swarming the blocks around the house (the main pit area is only two blocks north), I headed up Ophir early Saturday morning - a perfect cool day. I climbed well and then dropped into the single-track of Bailey Canyon. That's a fantastic section. Smooth dirt track through pinyon and bitterbrush spaced between technical rocks and cobble-strewn drainages. Perfect quiet with just a little breeze. A Comstock trail highlight among a maze of great trails. I met Tony (my PT guru) at his house at the Foot of the Grade and he kindly re-filled my Nathan pack. I was then up the old Toll Road climb to the Highlands. I was surprised that I was able to "run" most of it. After skirting through the Highlands, I dropped back toward VC from the Geiger Summit. Soon I ran into the motorized mayhem poaching my normally quiet trails. I had to divert cross-country and then wind through the maze of campers, pit areas, beer bottles, and general ruckus until I hit the 22-mile mark just short of my front porch.

Dust over Virginia City
Dust and a constant buzz fill the air again today. It's a weekend we'd rather be out-of-town, seeking quiet or, at least, different surroundings. But we'll turn on the music and get back at the scraping and sanding. I'd wish all these people would seek a less impacting pass-time -- one person's noise and ground-churning seems of crazy proportions. I wouldn't mind seeing a few more runners in the outback and few less ground-up single tracks.

The noisy center, two blocks north
(and a giant finger)
(Right this second, a guy is repeatedly throttling his four-stroke machine from 0 to 100,000 rpm at 8 o'clock on a Sunday morning, thirty feet from my front door. And this scene will be repeated up-and-down our residential streets prior to race-start at 10 AM. I'll get some addresses so that Inside Trail can plan some events that start in their front yards. But runners tend to be considerate, so the effect wouldn't be the same. But it's just one weekend a year; well, until the Harleys show up for their weekend in the fall.)

Back to the remodel where I'm feeling like I'm about 77 miles into a 100. But Dez is pacing me and we'll get there.

Happy Birthday Mom, you provide so much motivation to all of us! I just hope dad didn't get you a motorcycle for your present!  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quantity and Quality

Week Summary
C-Hill Longview Loop: 8.4 mi (+1,514 ft); 12:05 pace
Centennial Tracks: 6.1 mi (+501 ft); 10:15 pace
Ash Canyon Tracks: 8.4 mi (+1,244 ft); 10:50 pace
Divide Loop: 5.1 mi (+535 ft); 10:29 pace
Eldorado to Brunswick: 20.1 mi (+2,523 ft); 12:34 pace
Geiger OB: 10.0 mi (+1,207 ft); 12:11 pace

Weekly Totals: 58.1 mi (+7,524 ft); 11:23:18 on trail

McTarnahan Hill, last week's focus run.
It all came together for a perfect week of training - weather, trails, time, and health. Together, this meant a full week of quality training-runs over six days including some new trails. I should always be thankful I live in a place that provides so much open space with a splendid variety of terrain. The trail opportunities are almost endless even when the high-country has yet to open up.  

I started the week with a couple Base runs exploring C-Hill west of Carson City some more. The single track up there is top-notch, not as highly used as Ash Canyon, but the trails are interesting and there are any number of variations to be had. Tephra and I ran into a huge herd of fire-preventing sheep grazing the north side of the hill and had to take some detours which actually shortened our outing for the day. On Wednesday I returned to the Centennial Tracks (a variation of the Cupid Trail) for the evening outing.  

Thursday brought the challenge of some hill-repeats. Having discovered the Ash Canyon Tracks, I figured I could use their long gradual climbs to work some five-minute intervals. Once I found a pace that could get me pretty much maxed for the five minutes, I'd pull the intervals and then follow them up with a rest period where I'd turn and walk fast downhill for three to four minutes. I figured this would keep me from running out of climb over the course of six repeats. A couple of the intervals inevitably had some downhill sections, so I made sure to really give it a go and keep as much of the effort as possible. I'm hoping this actually pays off with some better skill on the downhills. In between one interval, just before the great switchbacks I ran into a MTB friend, Jeanne Hockett. It was her first time at Ash Canyon, and we are both still excited at our discovery.

Getting ready for another weekend of tile-work -- it's grout time -- I did a short Friday loop out to the Gold Hill Divide and back along Rocky Road. A little tightness in the hamstring due to the intervals but no sluggishness, that's a bonus.

Eldorado Canyon, lower section.
For the long trail on Saturday I left rather early as temperatures are getting summer-like and I have grouting to do. I'd charted out a long point-to-point up Eldorado Canyon (near Dayton, NV) to descend via Brunswick Canyon to Deer Run Road in Carson City. I'd planned to follow Slang's ccrunners trail but missed a turn and added another 2.5 miles to my day. This turned it in to a perfect 20 miles up and over some great pinyon country. I passed along two-track, stream-crossing roads along the canyon-bottom county line that is Eldorado before turning up Sullivan Canyon and eventually finding single-track to the hilly summit. It looks like this is a well-used motorcycle course and maybe part of the Eldorado Equine Endurance route. I only saw a few others during the four-hour run. Perfect route and felt great; tightness of Thursday and Friday fading completely.

Near Eldorado - Sullivan intersection.

Freel and Friends from top of Sullivan Canyon.
Thanks to Steven for picking my up in Carson, helping me retrieve the Yota, and buying me lunch! I owe you.

Followed up on Sunday with a sort-of back-to-back effort, getting 10 miles out-and-back to Geiger Summit. I kept an easy pace and felt very little of Saturday's run. This is a great sign. I'm feeling perfect and wish Darren speedy healing from the IT so we can get back to the weekend teamwork. It was my longest non-race weekly mileage since I started training; only the Firetrails week was longer, by one mile! Next week looks to be similar - the good steps toward San Diego continue.

Dennis and Mary hit the trails for the Desert Rats half-marathon (13.8 actually) near the Kokapelli Trail west of Grand Junction. Although the age-category grouping didn't line up in their favor (they were in the 51+ category) and they were the final finishers, they found success in their second trail event. Sounds like they need to watch their hydration regime a little closer, but mom should be able to do so given that she won the raffle for a hydration pack! 
Mary previewing the Desert Rats Half Course.
Bryan and Heather climbed on board the YMR team, getting out and hitting the Texas trails. Let's begin a journey together. Keep going...

Plus, super congratulations to Footfeathers onhis Course Record and 1st Place at the Diablo 50K - thereby proving the anti-cliche, those we teach, can...  

Special Thanks to everyone who finds a little motivation at Trail Option. This trail diary and training blog celebrates its 1st Anniversary today. It's Earth Day, our only option -- step lightly and feel it daily under your feet.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Quality over Quantity

Tephra at Tarnahan

Week Summary

Ash Canyon Tracks: 10.0 mi (+1,538 ft); 11:16 pace
EF Treadmill: 4.7 mi (+0 ft); 9:31 pace
McTarnahan Hill (West): 12.0 mi (+3,036 ft); 15:20 pace

Weekly Totals: 26.6 mi (+4,574 ft); 5:40:56 on trail

It was one of those weeks, of which I've had a lucky few, when events and weather conspired to knock me off my disciplined training schedule. I managed, however, to insert some great trails into a week that I could have simply been disappointed about. The mileage and time were well below my targets, but the elevation gain and new trails were splendid.

I have happily started poaching trails from the Carson City Runners website, Slang has some kmz files and evidently has upgraded to Garmin hosting just this week. I printed out a screen shot of the kmz routes at Ash Canyon and headed over on a windy Tuesday. I was amazed at the intricate network of climbing and generally very interesting single tracks. I spent a couple hours exploring and had a wonderful time - almost all of the ten miles on well-kept single track. Easy to get into the forest of the Carson Range and feel miles away from the office, when in fact it's less than a 10-minute drive to the trailhead. 

The week rather dog-piled me after that. For my 48th birthday I spent 45 minutes on the treadmill as snow squalls and cold winds punished the eastern front. The tempo felt good, but, hey, it's a treadmill sweat machine, though better than nothing.

And then came the next round of the tiling job. Took the day off from work but worked until way after dark trying to teach myself tiling in a off-kilter bathroom. Got about half done. I was back for the other half on Saturday morning and again worked until after dark. But the tile is now installed, and it looks like a first-timer did it, though not too bad. I did manage about 150 trips up and down the stairs over the past two days, so that much count for something.  I kept thinking that when I'm out suffering on the San Diego 100, I can think of tiling the bathroom, and I'll feel immediately better no matter what the conditions are!

Sun dawned perfect, so after wrapping up our tax mailings, I grabbed another screen shot from Slang's McTarnahan Hill trails. McTarnahan is a big, pinyon-covered, rolling hill east of Mexican Dam. It's a foothill of the Pine Nut Range east of Carson City. I knew I would get mileage, but I would certainly earn some elevation over the three-hour tour.  The sandy climb was steep and seemed to take forever; it's basically a huge climbing dune fed by alluvium of the Carson River, the conveyor belt of the Sierra. 

Sandy climb above the river.
Following a little screenshot map can be a bit tough, especially when there are dozens of trails and tracks. I was thankful I had my Garmin GPS (non-watch variety) to keep track of contours and to target the McTarnahan highpoint. It's a nice little bump on top of the broad hills and the views were a nice reward. Good to be up in an area I'd never visited before. Except for the sands (kind of fun on the downhill though still tiring), it's a great area of close-in pinyon woodlands and cool outcrops. 

McTarnahan Hill (6,856 ft)
Mt. Rose northwest beyond Carson City, a view I'm not accustomed to.
Descending the sand back to Prison Hill and the Carson River.
So it's Quality over Quantity this week, maybe a healthy break from the strict schedule. Yet I function well within the regime and have never felt burdened by it, plus I'm still very sure it's working. So this week it's back at it. 

Fun fact: Between my birthdays (April 12, 2011 - April 12, 2012), I logged just over 1,800 miles. Nice.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Tough can be Fun

Week Summary

Carson River Flats: 6.6 mi (+50 ft); 9:10 pace
C-Hill Hills: 4.5 mi (+1,667 ft); 16:26 pace
Emma Quarry: 5.7 mi (+541 ft); 9:51 pace
Rocky Cottonwood: 14.4 mi (+1,533 ft); 10:57 pace

Cemetery 5: 5.1 mi (+491 ft); 11:52 pace

Weekly Totals: 36.3 mi (+4,281 ft); 6:48:20 on trail

Getting back into the training cycle with some good efforts this week. It felt really good to get out for some Intervals on Tuesday. I did six repeats at 8-minute or better pace for three minutes each, with rests in between. These have become much easier now and I look forward to holding to some faster paces for longer intervals. I missed Wednesday after an eye-exam knocked me off my feet for the day -- the dilation treatment always lasts longer than I expect and I simply can't operate. I need to remember to schedule those appointments (only once very two years or so) for the late afternoon.

 On Thursday I hit some new trails to add some variety to my hill workouts. I visited C-Hill on the west side of Carson City after checkout the trail maps at and getting some advise from Slang. Although my hill repeat workouts usually involve yo-yo-ing up and down a hill section for whatever my target number of repeats might be, I decided I would explore the various trails and numerous ascents on C-Hill and work in the 2-minute repeats at regular intervals. There are plenty of ups-and-downs around the outrageously huge flag on the hillside. In several cases the hills were too steep to keep a run going but I would make sure to keep at full effort for the two minutes. A cold wind greeted me on each ridge or small pass -- matched with deep gasps at the end of the sprint, I generated an aggravating cough that stuck with my for a couple days. I got in my nine repeats and though I didn't get far, I managed to explore much of the hill and enjoyed the windy views. Spreading out the intervals is just as challenging as repeats on a single hill and the variety is much more interesting.

I got in a nice run on the Emma Quarry standard on Friday evening, though it did feel a bit strange to insert a Friday effort into my schedule. 

Descending high valleys of Flowery Range, Rattler high-point
in background.
On Saturday, Steve Glotfelty unselfishly spent most of his day guiding and helping me work on a shower re-build. We lugged hardyboard up and down stairs (one cut is never enough) and I got a great lesson in creative thin-set use. I should be able to start tiling next weekend.  This took up most of the day (thanks Steve!), so it was almost 6 PM before I set off on a new loop in Long Valley. The Long Valley Road took me to a powerline climb to a beautiful plateau below Rocky Peak northeast of Virginia City. As the sunset I traced a long path on a new route to the chalk bluffs of the Flowery Range with only one wrong turn before descending to Cottonwood Spring.

The sun set well before I reached Cottonwood and darkness surrounded Tephra and me as we re-traversed Long Valley. The mild adventure of new trails in the growing night is very fun. Would the road continue as I thought? Are the evening cats watching? Is this the correct trail?  Good thoughts to enjoy a run by.  

Between the re-model work of the long day and the great trail of the late evening, it felt much more than a 14-mile run. Dez had a small mountain of spaghetti for me to conquer when I walked into our warmly lit house just before 9 PM.  Thanks for that great ending.

Easy cemetery loop for Sunday mixing some slow pace with brief walks as planned. Will pick it up a little more this week, tougher can be funner after all!   

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Reset Week -- Post-Buffalo

Week Summary

Carson River Flats: 2.9 mi (+7 ft); 10:57 pace
Centennial Loop: 4.0 mi (+581 ft); 10:32 pace
Emma Quarry: 5.7 mi (+503 ft); 10:00 pace
Emma Quarry: 5.7 mi (+503 ft); 10:21 pace

Gold Hill Tracks: 5.3 mi (+579 ft); 10:44 pace

Weekly Totals: 23.4 mi (+2,173 ft); 4:04:17 on trail

March Totals: 149.2 mi (+14,073 ft); 30:03:04 on trail

Added a few photos to the Buffalo post. Also a short video of the Buffalo start with Darren, in blue Eclipse shirt, and crew setting out. You can see Karl in the white Hoka One One shirt, Dan Vega in grey (next to Darren), Karen in white and pink, and a jester appears as appropriate.

A good reset week on the heels of our Buffalo excursion. Simple base runs on my local trails.  No echoes from the weekend and glad to be feeling very good. Thoughts of San Diego have begun to permeate each daily run, mostly simple considerations of appropriate pacing, hill management, and hydration.  I have gone over the course map a few times, and the loops and segments play in my head as I work on a few more base miles. I ought to know the course well by the time I actually set foot on any San Diego trail. I guess this is what it means to have a "focus" race.

Darren is healing up. Swelling and related pain is about gone, and he can pin-point the impact bruise or soreness easily. The lends some confirmation to our early thoughts that his crash at Elephant Head may have been the trigger that stumped us later. He'll be resting for the next couple week before easing back into it. 

Dennis and Mary had a reset of their own this week. They are now fully retired from the work-a-day world, and start on a new adventure. Trails will be a big part of it, I'm sure.  Thanks for all the years of hard work, it brought so much to our world and set us on so many wonderful journeys. A perfect time to keep going...

The ultra community lost one of its storied runners and mythical characters this week. Micah True, aka Caballo Blanco, died while on the trail in New Mexico. I'd venture that most of us ultra-runners enjoyed his story and were in some way motivated by his sense of adventure, as documented in Born to Run, a book common on our shelves. The circumstances of his passing are as yet unclear, but he was in his element on the trail and in that there is solace.