Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ups and Downs: Needing Elevation

Week Summary (7/29/12)

Switchbacks in Ash Canyon
Carson River Flats: 11.0 mi (+148 ft); 11:00 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.6 mi (+510 ft); 9:15 pace
Goni Hills: 7.0 mi (+1,695 ft); 13:24 pace
Ash to Hobart Loop: 16.7 mi (+3,694 ft); 13:27 pace
Sutro Pass OB: 9.8 mi (+1,766 ft); 11:32 pace

Weekly Totals: 50.1 mi (+7,813 ft); 10:03:55 on trail

This week consisted of some pretty steady workouts in very steady heat. I cannot recall feeling this tired and/or sluggish after a week of moderate distance and decent elevation gain. The only day that was comfortable was my Wednesday evening shake-out with Footfeathers who was on his way to the Grand Mesa 100 near Grand Junction, Colorado. Otherwise, most days were well above 90 degrees and the runs came at midday.

I did my hill-repeats with the heart-rate monitor on Thursday. For this session I did six repeats of five minutes each. Five minute walks back downhill separated each effort. I should probably work the breaks as little five-minute downhill runs rather than a staggering walk while recovering from the interval. That will be goal anyway. All in all it felt pretty good.

The heat of the week is typically off-set by a weekend Long run up on the TRT or somewhere in the Carson Range, but this weekend started off with Equine Trail Trials at Silver Saddle Ranch. Des had signed me up for the "horseless" portion of the informal competition, so while Des' skills were tested on Strider and Chloe, my niece, nicely negotiated the obstacles on Sweet Love, I was delegated to clown-like entertainment with some little kids (well, two kids). Not what we expected, but it was a fundraiser so I did my duty while bobbing for apples and pinning the tail on the palomino. Funnier because I was dressed for an informal "competitive" run, thinking that's what I came for. Des and Chloe worked their horses nicely through the trials (Chloe got 3rd in her group), but Des also realized she'd have been better suited for heading out somewhere.

A trials events can take a while and Darren and I did not leave the ranch until after 1:30 PM with the heat rising; it reached 93 yesterday during our run. We climbed to Hobart Reservoir via Ash Canyon, a steady up-hill power-hike, something I should repeat more often. It is always good to get into the forests of the Carson Range, but the generally south-facing canyon walls kept us baking. Darren can float nicely, with good transitions from hiking to a slow run, I seem to plod along only breaking into a jog when the grade settles back a bit. But it was beautiful in the heat, and it was nice to finally drop into the little lake basin just below the TRT.

Upward in Ash Canyon (Waterfall Fire Scar)

We then descended via the Hobart Road to the Lakeview gate. Good practice descending while keep some pace without too much braking. It hurt, of course, but this is a skill and endurance I need to develop. We finished by gaining the old V&T railroad grade above Carson City and jogged back to the Yota. I was most sluggish on this easy section, but the heat of the long day combined with standing around all morning at the trail were certainly factors.

The laziness continued into today, Sunday, but I cured it with a late afternoon loop out to Sutro Pass. Way hotter than I expected, and Tephra and I paused a couple times to take in extra water. She is hesitant to drink from a water bottle, but I found a cup that she eventually agreed was ok. More ups and downs, but felt much better than I expected. A good wrap to the week.

On the Colorado scene, Dennis and Mary hit the road in the Monument 5K just outside Grand Junction. They continue to rock their age category -- Mom scored another 1st place (F60-69) with a 28:06 and Dad brought home a 3rd place (M60-69) with a PR of 24:37. Overall, mom was 95th out of 122 and dad was 71st. Nice work in the mountain time zone!

Committed to Pine to Palm 100 on September 15th; gotta keep going...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Back on the TRT

Week Summary (7/22/12)

Carson River Flats: 11.3 mi (+127 ft); 10:43 pace
Lasso at Seven Mile: 5.9 mi (+485 ft); 10:14 pace
Ash Tracks: 5.5 mi (+876 ft); 9:22 pace
TRT - Mt. Rose to Relay Loop: 14.7 mi (+3,271 ft); 13:21 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.6 mi (+551 ft); 11:06 pace

Weekly Totals: 42.9 mi (+5,310 ft); 8:10:30 on trail

A really good week of getting back in the groove. The two-hour base work on Tuesday was a joy, and following that up with a rain-soaked tempo on the hills of Ash Canyon was a very fun change (I don't very often get a rainy day of running around here).

Mt. Rose (10,777 or so) from Trailhead
Now that it is deep summer and the valleys have soaked up a deep reservoir of heat, it's time to get back up high. Of course, that means getting back to the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT).  Appropriately enough this was also the weekend of the TRT Endurance Runs (50K, 50M, and 100M). While reading a bit about the event I decided I should volunteer -- I have been appreciative of the volunteers when I'm out on a course, and felt I should give a little back. So when I emailed the volunteer coordinator and said I'd be happy to fill any gaps in the volunteer pool, she exuberantly offered me two gigs. The first would begin at about 2:45 Saturday morning at the event hotel where I shuffled runners onto the big buses heading to the start line. Although quite a few runners signed up (and apparently paid) for the opportunity to catch the bus, only about half my list appeared at the designated times. In the end, here at the beginning, no one was running around frantically looking for a ride to the startline, so I presume everyone got to Spooner one way or another. I was at the line in time to watch the 50K and 50M combined start, and soon headed for my own run at the Mt. Rose Trailhead on the TRT.

The Mt Rose to Relay Loop is a gold-star short route. Plenty of climbing over almost 15 miles with great scenery in all directions. It can get a little crowded on the summit trail, but I was early enough to avoid most of the summiteers on this day. Tephra and I pulled a PR to the summit at 1 hour, nine minutes, about six minutes off my previous timed effort. Slowed up a little heading to Relay, maybe some sluggishness from just a few hours sleep. Ran into Jason C., a friend I only see every few years, as he and his brother worked their way up Mt. Rose. A good day for Tephra too, got her own mileage PR on the day.

My goal is to match that effort every Saturday for the season, with a rest day every 4 or 5 weeks. Distances will increase and I hope to continue to match the elevation gain. I did similar last season and it paid off.

My next volunteer shift on the TRT100 began in the late evening. Scheduled to begin driving parking and hotel shuttles at midnight, I went up to Spooner about 9PM to see a few finishers. Right off I saw Patrick McKenna, happy with his 50-mile finish on the challenging course. But I was soon taking over a shuttle, giving a break to some folks who'd been driving most of the day. Once most of the 50K and 50M participants had been returned to their vehicles or the hotel in Carson City, it was a waiting game as the the 100-mile race coursed to its end.  Not much to do as we waited for movement and the cool night dragged on with me simply trying to stay frosty for the stints of driving up and down the mountain. I did make it down to the finish area, a quarter-mile or so from the shuttle stop, to see Matt Hart get his first 100-mile win in 19:14:43, just after midnight.  First woman, Claire Walton, finished fourth overall at 21:46:22 (a new CR for the ladies).

As the runners trickled in, most had crew with vehicles ready to transport them, so the shuttles weren't too active in the early morning hours. It was hard to stay attentive while being almost totally inactive from midnight until about 6AM. But Jen from Portland, OR, my shuttle co-operator, was good company. She simply made the trip to the TRT100 to volunteer, not knowing anyone nor having any real connections to the event. I was rather amazed at the good efforts she, and others, do to help these events exist. I also realized that while I'm out there running in these things, there a lot of people behind the scenes spending their time and energy (or lack thereof) in helping out. I glimpse them at the start-finish and at aid stations or as marshals, but I now I'm a bit more motivated to go a little faster given that these folks are waiting all night for me to finish!

Only a few echoes of Saturday's up and down here on Sunday. Good news given the downhills -- I should be able to begin working those a bit harder. Sunday's Emma Quarry spin seemed a little more work than it usually is, so I kept it slow -- it'll be good to catch up on some sleep. Thunderstorms sparking fires in the Pinenuts.

Dennis and Mary have an impressive schedule of late summer and fall races.  I've added a side-bar with their events so we can follow along. Wishing them the best in their first marathon and good number of trail events. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Re-Set

Week Summary (7/15/12)

Ophir Intervals: 7.3 mi (+788 ft); 9:04 pace
Emma Quarry OB (YMR): 5.1 mi (+577 ft); 21:14 pace
VC to Washoe Lake SP: 12.3 mi (+909 ft); 10:39 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.6 mi (+553 ft); 11:27 pace

Weekly Totals: 30.3 mi (+2,826 ft); 6:09:09 on trail

I've been playing a bit of catch-up on slightly forgotten priorities that might have faded a bit in the build-up to my run at the San Diego 100. A few little runs here and there, while following a couple of the events that the ultra-year revolves around -- Western States and Hardrock. In the course of being unhealthily glued to the @iRunFar and @footfeathers twitter-feed throughout these events, I realized I could now view these events a bit differently. Yes, I was surprised at how much I felt I should be out there competing, and, no, I in no way thought I would actually be competitive simply because I now had an event under (or "on", given the buckles) my belt. An so starts the trail to a little more 100-miler competition, me against me and the demons, tangible and otherwise.

This week I climbed back on the regimen that took me this far and farther. Footfeathers has upped the training a bit and I look forward to pushing forward and upward. Where will it take me?

The big goal now is a sub-24 at the 100-mile distance. A bigger goal, however, will be to walk (or crawl) away with a finish at Hardrock and Western States.  There are many more variables in play now than there were in simply gaining the first finish (I could target that event with a calendar; the new goals are likely multi-year efforts). I've taken the first small step and qualified for the lotteries that, by chance, gain entry to each event. Odds may be better for Hardrock based on the number of qualifiers, but I better think about the obligations of simply winning that lottery. Western States may not be as difficult, depending on the temperature in the canyons, as San Diego, but it has its own challenges, of course.

The preparation for each goal is the basically the same, stick to the regimen and get some more 100-mile experience. With that in mind I will re-enter the disciplined approach I've successfully maintained, and will look at a relatively aggressive schedule of 100-mile events. Pine to Palm in Ashland, Oregon, is a distinct and likely possibility -- two months from today. Buffalo 100 at Antelope Island will begin the 2013 season, and we'll likely have some lottery results by then. I'm ready to keep going...

With all this in mind, the Young Mountain Runners (Dennis, Mary, Darren, and myself) gathered in western Nevada over the past couple weeks. Because the talk so commonly revolved around running, much to the boredom of the remainder of the YMR family, we looked forward to each of our "re-set" periods. Dennis and Mary are prepping for a first marathon in the fall and the 25K at Buffalo next spring. Darren is building back from the setbacks of Buffalo and returning to full mileage and searching for a bounce-back event. Desna and Strider are similarly re-bounding from injury and looking toward the first equine endurance challenge. The stage is set.

Cheers to Tim Long (aka Footfeathers) -- 34th finisher in the Hardrock 100; he, indeed, is Wild and Tough.