Sunday, August 26, 2012

In the Dark toward Pine to Palm

Week Summary (8/26/12)


Ophir Grade OB: 10.7 mi (+1,180 ft); 11:06 pace
Fazio Levee HR OB: 6.0 mi (+51 ft); 10:21 pace
TRT - Spooner to Red House Loop: 23.0 mi (3,766 ft); 12:17 pace
Emma - Seven Circuits: 11.1 mi (+1,190 ft); 11:05 pace

Weekly Totals: 50.8 mi (+6,187 ft); 9:46:43 on trail

First time I have had two 50+ weeks in succession, and I missed days in both due to travel.  Nice.

Started the week with an evening Base run up the local grade, I like that little excursion because it so often sets the tone for the week or wraps things up in a good way. The views are good so it doesn't get old repeating the same basic route.

Spent much of the week in Davis, California, for work, but got in a pre-dawn effort, an oddity for me, on the Fazio Levee out on the Sacramento River. I used this for a Heart Rate test requested by Footfeathers. I warmed up for 10 minutes and then continued for a 5-mile interval keeping my heartrate at 135. He asked for the Time of Day, Temperature, Avg HR, and Avg Pace.  So the results are, 6:10 AM, 70 degrees, 136 HR and 9:56 pace. It was basically at sea-level, so translating that to training indices for up here might be a bit spurious. Probably should repeat the test nearer my typical altitude.

Then on Saturday I hit the TRT for some elevation and a nighttime training spree. Explored some routes of the TRT out to Marlette Campground and down to Red House and Hobart Reservoir. As I climbed onto Snow Valley Peak, the orange-blue glow of Lake Tahoe reflect the long-set sun and a few stars. A half-moon lit the single-track until I descended into the forest. Five miles later I'd felt pretty speedy moving along the trail in the beam of my headlamp. The once-packed Spooner Trailhead parking was now empty with only the Yota waiting for my return; I like those lonely exits from the woods. I sat at the car for a few minutes enjoying the rush of the post-run and the glow of the stars at the pass. A good one; especially for the night practice that is so important for improving my 100-mile time.

Sunday was a slog paying for the mileage of Saturday. Just couldn't get going, still I met my target pace so I think the purpose of getting back on tired legs was fulfilled. First run in the La Sportiva Crosslite 2.0s, those felt very nice on the feet, it was the legs that held 'em in check. I think they'll be pretty fast on the tempos to come.

Dennis and Mary have been knocking out some long training runs and testing out their new Hokas. Dad felt pretty good about taking 11 minutes off their half-marathon-length training run. Darren is slightly radioactive after a CAT scanning hunting for a misplaced calcium pebble should one exist in his innards somewhere. We'll get some news this week so that we can finalize the plans for the Pine to Palm 100; now only three weeks away! We'll be ready.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Heat, Smoke, and a Hill

Week Summary (8/19/12)


Massacre Loop: 10.7 mi (+291 ft); 11:09 pace
Ophir Grade OB: 10.8 mi (+1,107 ft); 10:22 pace
Ophir - Mount Rose Summit: 30.0 mi (+6,800 ft); 15:00 pace

Weekly Totals: 51.5 mi (+8,198 ft); 11:23:00 on trail

I got the quantity with the quality this week, though a week's worth of outback fieldwork cost a few days training. Hot and smoke-filled valleys provided the running habitat during the field excursion and a day's worth of hiking made a run in the typical evening seem very uninviting. Not worried about the endurance given the footwork I was doing daily, though I missed some of the skill work I'd like to be doing right now.

Made up for it on Sunday with a great run with Darren. After descending the Ophir Trail from the Mt. Rose trailhead to the Davis Creek Park, we returned the 10,777-foot summit of Mt. Rose. I'd long wanted to make an ascent of Mt. Rose from the valley-bottom to the summit.  Given the way we staged our cars, we had an aid station every 10 miles, and it the run came in at exactly 30.

Lots of moving parts at work and in the training schedule, trying to keep it all together.  Successful so far. Will begin the logistical plans for Pine to Palm next week. Darren ran great so we are looking good for a team event at P2P!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sneffels Half-Marathon - The Seniors' Race Report

The Colorado Contingent of the Young Mountain Runners

Great location, great weather, great run in the mountains. Running season ramps up through October and this late summer outing was a very, very nice one.

Driving directly to Ouray from Grand Junction on the day of the event turned out to work well except for acclimatizing to altitude. Up early, 3 AM, but green lights on the main streets of Delta and Montrose helped us roll right down the 100 miles in fine time.
Early morning - The Ouray Start
Much cooler down that way, in the 50s at gun time on Main street at 7900 feet. Our planned pace kind of blew up immediately as we ran south ALL the way to the south end of town. After all these years of driving that street we can confirm that, from 'foot level', it definitely rises right up to meet the Million Dollar Highway!! From many points of view that isn't much gain but we remembered too well burning the clutch in the VW van climbing that direction in the old days! This early hill knocked our pace for a loop sucking air and putting stiff muscles to work too soon. The course then turned and went down the same route back to near the start line, turned up a parallel dirt road and went all the way back to the south end again, up hill but not quite as bad. Then on another dirt road finally toward Ridgway and the finish line.

Finally leaving Ouray we got our rhythm going but could never regain our planned pace. We finished nicely -- me at 2:22:12 chip time and mom at 2:24:53 chip time. Our PRs are around 2:10 but that was on a fast course and 3000 feet lower. So we forgave ourselves which really wasn't that hard to do running in such beautiful country as the Uncompahgre valley in the San Juan's. We felt great after all said and done especially when we found that Mary had acquired another gold and I even pulled in a bronze. Not really gold and bronze but San Juan shale rock with an inscription in brass.

We would have enjoyed a little more competition because Mary got first of two women in the 65-69 division and I was third of only four men. But, as usual, at least we were there competing with who ever showed up. The exhilaration of putting you body through the 'test of time' is reward enough. The race was the USATF Colorado Half Marathon Championships so we thought there would at least be more folks in our division. The 65-69 division comprised only about 1.5% of the 418 in attendance and while small it is a larger percent than many road races. Sad but true that after 59 the numbers dwindle. That being said this is sometimes a tough turn for us since those that are left are many times pretty tough folks!

As always it is inspiring to be running with all the young people. Three or four young couples commented on seeing us at many other races and either beat the socks off us or came in behind and telling us about the inspiration they get from seeing us at the races. One of them said, 'Thanks, you paced us all the way and kept us going'.

As usual I did do my final two mile 'push' and the new training for endurance/distance is really paying off for both of us and can only get better. I caught two older guys I had been watching from a distance but it turned out they were in a younger division. I Then had a great, and satisfying, sprint finish with a couple of 30 year old's we had been following for 10 miles. At the line I reached hard and got them by a second! Great fun. (Announcer: '..and here's Dennis Young coming in fast. He's 69 on this fine day!!) Mary came in quickly and we had a great sit-down in the grass guzzling chocolate milk and a lot of water and another S-cap talking to other runners and learning about more races.

Later we walked up and down Ouray (yep...that same hill) and then headed home and over Pablo's Pizza with friends and devoured a 12 inch pizza and plenty of wine. After espresso and conversation at their house we collapsed into bed.

After the many years hiking in the San Juan's it is great surprise to both of us that we are running in these late years in this same location. We climbed Mt Sneffels 23 years ago last month. The summit is just 7 straight miles from the start line.

Overall 311 of 418 top 74%
Females 167/255 top 65%
Division (65-69) 1st of 2
chip time 2:24:53

Overall 293/418 top 70%
Males 141/163 top 86%
Division (65-69) 3rd of 4
chip time 2:22:12

Our chip times were about 7 seconds behind the gun.

Quality over Quantity

Week Summary (8/12/12)
Along the Old Highway in Hope Valley

Carson River Flats: 6.5 mi (+53 ft); 9:19 pace
Hope - Luther OB: 5.5 mi (+842 ft); 11:05 pace
Sun Mountain Loop: 6.3 mi (+1,693 ft); 13:20 pace
Ophir - Price Lake OB: 13.0 mi (+3,256 ft); 15:12 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.6 mi (+469 ft); 11:13 pace

Weekly Totals: 36.9 mi (+6,312 ft); 7:43:38 on trail

I get to the end of the week and I always hope for some big numbers, except for the pace, of course! Although I've been sticking closely to the training schedule set up by Footfeathers, I'm looking for ways to get some more distance and elevations (and better pace) into the program while sticking to the patterns that have delivered the goods.  The target for this week was a little over seven hours on the trail, and though we've been fighting the 100-degree heat, I was able to get in a little more time by extending Saturday as I should. Also shifted from lunchtime runs on Tuesday and Thursday to evenings to avoid the scorch.

This week had some short intervals for tempo and hills. The hill repeats found me on Sun Mountain trying to push for two 12-minute intervals on the steep east road of Ophir Summit. It might not be the best hill for repeats, but I kept the effort high even while succumbing to power-hiking for the last couple minutes of each interval. It's a steep hill.  I split the interval with a 7-minute walk and gained about 1,500 feet in the two intervals.  I then cruised the long downhill of Bullion Canyon until I got hung-up in the talus and willows that curtain the single-track at the canyon mouth. Very fun.

In the slide below Slide Mountain
Tephra, doing it right!
At the last minute on Saturday morning, I decided to head to the county park at Davis Creek and search for the Ophir Trail along the Slide Mountain landslide scar. The trail climbs steadily to Tahoe Meadows where it intersects the Tahoe Rim Trail.  I had heard rumors the trail was difficult to follow in the slide so I picked my way carefully up the canyon. Although we were in the trees, Tephra enjoyed the creek crossings (and I did too!). Because I was thinking about route-finding, I tried too hard to search out the correct trail when the obvious ones seemed too easy to follow. If they are so clear they can't be the trail I'm looking for. When my first creek-crossing on good trail began to lead down-canyon I turned back to scout an obscure climbing trail and eventually worked my way to the north side of Rock Lake. Here even the obscure trail ended in a pile of  huge rocks; the lake is well-named. Nice place, but after scouting for too long, I decided to bail on the Tahoe Meadows attempt and enjoy the descent. Realizing my distance and elevation would be well below my goals for the day I decided to return to the crossing and run that down-canyon trail and explore that area. Of course, as soon as I passed my previous turn-around, in a matter of meters, the trail turned sharply uphill and made a bee-line toward the heights. The track was a deep staircase in a rocky chute, a fantastic climb and I eventually realized this was the Ophir Trail I was looking for. Turned back for the descent (on which I got lost again--gotta stop that) at the outlet of Upper Price Lake, a little short of the Meadows and TRT, but I'm happy to have discovered a great trail and training area so close to VC.
Up high, across from Sun Mountain
The week was great and I'll continue to look for ways to get a little more quantity in the quality.

Speaking of quality... Dennis and Mary's Sneffels Half-marathon Race Report!  Check it out.