Thursday, April 29, 2010

Winter wonderland

So the week proceeds apace. After taking Monday off, I had the chance to scoot up to San Jacinto on Tuesday. My thought was I could do the first two miles of the trail, which match almost exactly two of the climbs from Jemez. Well, joke was on me. I expected some snow. But after about 1/2 hour, this was what I got . . .

Very pretty, but not super conducive to doing hill repeats. I struggled through the snow in my trailrunners and shorts for a while, but really, it just was a pretty hike in terms of training value, which isn't the worst thing in the world . . .

On the way home, this was the view:

These are lenticular clouds. Straight from Wikipedia, the Reader's Digest of the internet:

Where stable moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the downwind side. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops to the dew point, moisture in the air may condense to form lenticular clouds. As the moist air moves back down into the trough of the wave, the cloud may evaporate back into vapor. Under certain conditions, long strings of lenticular clouds can form near the crest of each successive wave, creating a formation known as a 'wave cloud'. The wave systems cause large vertical air movements and so enough water vapor may condense to produce precipitation.

So there you have it. Anyways, I think they are very interesting, and you don't see them all that often, particularly in dry Southern California. I didn't see any UFO's. Bummer.

Wednesday was a run through the canyon with Gator in the morning. It was raining lightly, so the tall flowers and low grasses were all bent over with the weight of the light rain that had been falling. Gator and I went crashing through them, and they left wet petals and leaves all over us. By the time were were done, I was soaked, not from the rain, but from all the moisture on the vegetation. We both looked like something from Swamp Thing!

No big plans for the next couple of days. I'm in a minor taper. I'll go for a run tonight from softball and then in the morning with Gator as tomorrow night is beer fest at the Padres game! Saturday will be the long run and Sunday I will be trespassing along the Goat Canyon Trestle. Hopefully more pictures then . . .

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Where have I been?

Wow, its been a while since Iposted. When I last left you, fair reader, I was preparing for an assault on the 2 lap 6 plus hour run. Well it was a failure. I don't know whether it was the two hours of running I did the night before or whether it was the heat (80 degrees) or just what it was. But I made it through the first lap in 3:13, which was about what i figured I would do. As I headed up north fortuna for the second lap, I got to the top and completely lost the will to go on. There was no other way to put it. Sad. I headed back to the car, with a run of 5.5 hours, but I shorted myself another trip up South Fortuna and Kway Paay. Weak, weak, weak.

I took Monday off, then Tuesday headed out in the AM for a slow run with the dog. Wed. was a good run as I ran home from the Padres game in a light rain. It was about a 12.5 mile run in about 2:15 to 2:20 on the pavement, an unusual run for me. Thursday was my usual Friday run, which I did in about 1:30 pace, partially because it was done partly in the dark, but I also didn't go as hard as I could go as I kept getting texts about the draft and couldn't help but respond. I like where most of the Gators went, with three going to the Pats and one to the Broncos. I'm not going to be popular at Chargers games.

Friday I took off, and Saturday was attempt two at the double loop. I headed out at 10:05, the start of the Padres game. Up through the grasslands, I was feeling pretty good. I decided to take it fairly easy and not push the pace too much, but try hard to stay within myself. I did the north Fortuna climb in 20 min, which is pretty fast, but I felt very comfortable. There was a runner ahead of me to pace me, and I caught him going downhill, running fairly aggressively. I had a little hip pain after getting all the way down to Shepherd's canyon. Up and over Shepherd's Hill and through the canyon, then 15 minutes from the benches to the top of the South Fortuna stairs.

I was feeling fairly strong, and cruised down the saddle and into Oak Canyon, pausing only to give a hiker with a sprained ankle my frozen water bottle. Then I hit Kway Paay and made it up and down in about 50 min., finishing the first loop in 3:02, a record, which is remarkable because I felt I was within myself the whole time. After half a turkey sandwich, I was back on the trails in about 8 minutes or so. I started out walking and finishing my turkey sandwich, then hit the run button. My legs were tired, but not overly so. I did the North Fortuna climb in about 23 min., so I wasn't losing too much time, although my climb to the saddle took about 13 min. and I had to make up some time on the way to the peak. Everything felt good going down, but I was definitely getting tired and struggling on the flats.

I took a 2 minute break to sit at the benches and then pushed pretty regularly up south fortuna. I did more walking than I wanted to do after i got to the top, but I knew I was going to be close to 6:30 for the total time, which was on the early side of my goal. I struggled down through Oak Canyon and took another 4 minute break or so. Up Kway Paay I went, figuring I had 1:15 to get up and down and still stay under my 7 hour goal. I switched to music and tried to push up. I had to take a few pauses on the steepest part, and made it back to the car in 53 minutes up and down Kway Paay, meaning 6:38 for the run.

That puts me about where I wanted to be for the New Mexico run. I would have liked to have been a little faster, but this was a 25 mile run with about 2700 feet of climbing, or roughly 1/2 of what I will have to do for Jemez. That puts me at about 14 hours or so, I would guess, for New Mexico. Not bad.

Good wildlife on the loop. 3 roadrunners, which is very unusual, and a jack rabbit and a garter snake. Also, lots of good lizards. Pretty fun. Tonight will be a run for the heck of it with the dog and then Monday off and then back on the usual plan. We'll see how it goes . . .

Friday, April 16, 2010

Strange days . . .

Wednesday's run was an odd one, and I let it throw me off my game. There was lots of wildlife of the two legged variety. My plan was to do my new modified loop - grasslands, north fortuna, shepherd's hill, south fortuna, kway paay. All told it should take me between 3 hours to 3:15. I've only timed it once, and it was 3:10, so that was the goal. Well, I was well on pace going up north fortuna, and I was trailing a figure that was maybe 400 yards ahead of me. Whoever it was was matching my climb up to the top perfectly (time -20 min. - that's good!). So North Fortuna has a couple of bumps on the ridges as you come to a peak, then down and to the real peak then a third false peak, and then a small rise by the highway before a rocky descent off the ridge. Well, as soon as I hit the first peak, I started motoring and caught what turned out to be a girl by the second peak. When I was about 20 feet away, I yelled that I was coming behind her so as not to scare her when I came bounding up along the trail. It had the exact opposite effect and she screamed. I apologized as I scooted by her on the narrow trail, but she shrank from me with fear and revulsion in her eyes, none of the mirth that usually follows a scare that turns out to be a false alarm. She was clearly freaked out. I wondered why she was out there by herself. It was almost 7, and for a hiker, it meant at least an hour back to the nearest trailhead, wherever it was, which meant she was going to be out here alone. Given the unfortunate events of Chelsea King, who was found about 5 miles north of the park (for any out of towners, Chelsea King was a 17 year old cross country runner who was snatched and killed while trail running in Lake Hodges apparently by a sex offender out on parole - very tragic), I can't blame her for being spooked, but for christ's sake, lady, don't be out in the middle of a giant park at night by yourself. Show some common sense. Speaking of which, I'm probably lucky I didn't get maced.

The rest of the run went fairly uneventful for a while. I was on a good pace, when three things happenned. First, I started to get really hungry. These long, post work, skip dinner runs need to be better thought out, and I need to bring a sandwich with me. Gu's aren't getting it done. Second, it started to get dark, and on a technical trail, I was surprised how much it slowed me down. Third, I ran into an episode of the Jerry Springer Show. Well, almost. I ran into two people who were barefoot(!) hiking down from North Fortuna who had forgotten that it gets dark and who were stubling along the trail. Since I had a light, I offered to walk them in, shining the light behind me. The lady struck up a conversation and told me all about herself, and that she was a great runner, a great navigator, a great seamstress, had great night vision, etc. You get the point. Her boyfriend was an ex-marine living in Pacific Beach. He told me that he had just gotten his second DUI, while the girlfriend had just gotten out of jail after a DV stint for attacking her father and kicking in a door. Great. After we reached the trailhead, they still needed help because, for some reason, they had stashed their cell phones and shoes under a bush instead of at the car 100 yards away. Finally, left them at their car (how they were going to get out of the locked gate is anyone's guess) and headed up Kway Paay, but at this point I'd loss massive amounts of time. I did the Kway Paay climb and called it a night instead of tacking on the extra 1/2 hour I was planning on running in the park.

I did love my new Wildcat trail runners. The did a great job on the loose DG of the saddle and Kway Paay, and my foot didn't slide too much. So far a success. Listened to the Lakers drop their last game to the Clippers. Clearly on cruise control waiting for the playoffs.

Thursday, had a late deposition, so took Gator in the canyon for a run, but shorter than I had planned and skipped a chance to run that night and again this morning. Feeling lazy and eating a lot. Need to beat that. We'll see what this evening brings. I forgot my running clothes, so if I go home, I doubt I will go back to Mission Trails and waste time. I will probably do a reverse loop in the canyon or something along those lines. Not as much climbing as I should get, but we'll see. Tomorrow maybe a short one in the mountains and then Sunday a challenging double new loop, so hopefully somewhere between 6 and 6:30 of hilly technical running . . .

Til then . . .

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An unfortunate weekend off . . .

Well, as the name of the post above demonstrates, it wasn't the most productive weekend. It started great. I ran my usual Friday course in 1:21. Again, this course is about 7 miles and involves about 1300 feet of elevation gain. My previous record was 1:28, so I shaved 7 minutes over 7 miles. Its amazing what you can do when you are climbing well. A great sign that my speed is getting closer to where it needs to be. I think my best case scenario on this course is probably about 1:15 if everything went perfect and I was a little lighter and stronger. But I'm psyched to average 11:30 miles on the course. And I saw snake species number 4, a gopher snake! He even did his rattlesnake imitaiton routine, curling up and striking and hissing at me.

The rest of the weekend, however, did not go as planned. I went up to Seattle and was hoping to do a scout run on some of the trails for the 100. Unfortunately, 2 days before my trip, a storm dumped 3 feet of new snow on all the trails in the Cascades, putting the kibosh on that idea. Because I had family and friends to see, I ended up doing no running whatsoever over the weekend, which is the first time that's happened since Japan. Monday I went to Discovery Park which is a beautiful park with some old growth that used to be a military base. There is a nice 3 mile loop trail, but that connects to several beach trails and lets you go up and down the hill. I also put some street time in, including a run by the locks and the fish ladder. In front of the dam where the locks are located, there is a rope that runs from one side to another upon which one can often see fabulous waterbirds. This time I was fortunate enough to see a belted kingfisher, which are usually somewhat elusive. This guy was pretty determined to hang out where he was, and while he would flit off, he would always return.

Anyways, always good to run in the NW, although I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to do some more, especially on the trails. But it was chilly and damp and the beach had the deep smell of brine that is so pervasive along the Washington shore.

This morning was just the usual canyon run with Gator on my new trail shoes. I'll give a review later. As you may remember, my last pair of fancy trail shoes were a disaster on the GTR. What will become of these, who knows? I'll give the full report on my La Sportiva Wildcats soon.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

OK. Interesting pictures

Yesterday, I had a run that can only be described as delightful. I often take forgranted how beautiful San Diego can be and lament that I am not in the Northwest. However, days like yesterday serve as a good reminder.

After work, I went to Mission Trails about 6:15 or so. I wanted to be done running by 8, so instead of doing some hardass climbing, I decided to run Spring Creek Canyon. This is a canyon that runs north-south from Mission Trails, underneath SR 52, and then out onto what may or may not be the Miramar MCAS. I say this because it used to be off limits, but now there are signs which merely discourage use and the use of the area by dogs in particular. Where this nature preserve stops and MCAS starts is anybody's guess. There are a few signs around that warn of live ammo, but often I've seen them on the way back on an out and back with no sign on the way out, so I don't think even MCAS knows.

There is a great run which I've described earlier in which you can connect Spring Creek with Oak Creek Canyon to make a fun loop. That was my intent as I headed out. Once under SR 52, you can either veer to the right to stay on the main path, which involves a fairly easy creek crossing, or you can veer right up a small fire road for about 50 yards onto the single track. I love the single track because it is undulating and has a few small, steep climbs. Either way, the trails are fairly deserted except for the odd super mountain biker who LOVE these trails, so keep your eyes out and, in my opinion, yield the way because these guys need to keep their momentum up to take some of the steep climbs. As you go, there are several spur trails that you can take off to the left. All of these lead up to the series of fire roads that penetrate the hills between Oak and Spring canyons and all of which may or may not be base property. They have official looking gates.

Today, the weather was perfect, in the low 70's, and the sun was down so there was a cool breeze. The trail up the canyon is a slight uphill the whole way, so you always feel you are working harder than you should be, because the grade is not very perceptible, but you can sure feel it on the way back. It being late, I had the canyon to myself. There were bushes bursting with yellow flowers up the slopes of either side of the gentle hills framing the canyon, and every once and a while, there would be a bush with big pink flowers. After about 3 or 4 miles, you hit a "y" junction. The well traveled path for the Oak Creek loop goes to the left. However, there is a fainter trail that goes to the right that I had never taken. Intrigued, I took the fainter trail to the right side of the ridge. This was an excellent choice. The trail meandered through encroaching vegetation burdened with yellow and pink flowers. After about a quarter mile I came up short for a tarantula that was crossing my path. This was the first live one I have seen in San Diego since I first moved here in 2003, although I know that they are around and can be out in force. I took a picture and gave him a wide berth as I continued up the trail. Not 5 minutes later, I pulled up again as another hairy arachnid ambled across the trail. Nothing for two years, then two in 5 minutes! Neither seemed particularly perterbed by me, although in photographing one with my water bottle, he raised his front legs, presumably to threaten me and make himself look even bigger.

Typical stretch of upper Spring Canyon trail.
Thirsty little buddy?
Tarantula 2! Both these guys were smaller than the ones I remember seeing in Tucson.

Leaving my hirsute friends behind, I headed up a beautiful switchback through knee high grasses and gained about 400 feet to the top of the hill. As I traversed around the hilltop, in front of me lay 3 quarters of a mile of gorgeous double track downhill. This was what trail running was all about. As I watched the sun set over the verdant hillocks separating spring canyon from oak canyon, I let my feet lead me through gentle undulations, rocky enough to keep my attention on the path snaking through the grass leading me back towards the canyon. After about 6 minutes of trail running heaven, I flew down the steep, loose, rocky last 200 yards back to the canyon floor and followed the wider main trail not towards Oak Creek, but back down Spring Creek Canyon and towards the car. I raced only against darkness as I put miles quickly behind me, taking advantage of the slight downhill camber of the trail.

On the traverse. You can see Glorious Ridge (as I've dubbed it) runing from top right to left in the picture.

I made it back to the car just as dusk was reluctantly fading into night, the entire run taking about 1:40. However, I had very little climbing in the last two days that meant . . .

Monserate! Followers of this blog (of which there are 0 as far as I can discern) know that this is one of my favorite climbs because of its sheer pointlessness. It is a 2 mile, 1200 foot rocky climb to nowhere located directly next to Interstate 15 in the hottest part of the county with a lot of burned out vegitation (although it is recovering from the fires finally) and no wildlife to speak of except for biting flies. However, its a convenient stop when returning from Riverside court to take a break and get some miles in, and it certainly makes you feel hard just being out on its slopes.

Today was a double ascent, a first for me. It took 28 minutes the first time up and 29 minutes the second. That is in line with my climbing from earlier this year, and also in line with my climbing times from Kway Paay (19 min to go 900 ft over 1.1 miles). I'm encouraged that my climbing is going well, if not spectacularly. What is most encouraging is that I can climb at the same rate for 2 climbs with only about 12 min. of active recovery. And less than 24 hours after a well paced 1:45 run the night before. I even had some wildlife as I spotted two striped racer snakes about 2 minutes apart darting off the path and into the bush. Its getting to be snake time of year. YES! (Oh, and another rattler on an hour hike Tuesday with Erica and Killer on the west side of Mission Trails).

Stock footage of a striped racer.

My plan is to run tonight after softball and to take Killer since Gator is pretty tired from her earlier runs this week and has been feeling off. Killer has yet to do a run more than 45 min, and this is two hours of mixed trail and pavement with some busy roads and big hills. Its an experiment. We'll see . . .

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

More boring words, no interesting pictures

I know, I need more pictures. I didn't bring a camera with me today, and if so, not sure what pics I would have taken. Nothing special, for sure.

No interesting stories to tell, so you may as well skip to the next entry. Ran in the canyon this morning. It was 45 degrees at the start and 60 by the end, so I was too warm in my vest and long sleeve. Bad decision. Took me 1:37, which is pretty close to my best time, and that included a bathroom stop, so that's a pretty good sign that my "speed" is staying where it is.

The big disappointment this week was that I missed the earthquake. It happenned while I was out running and didn't feel a thing, but some of my books were out of my bookshelf and all my pictures at work got knocked down (although someone put them back up again. No idea who. Just noticed that. Weird.)

National championship was last night. I wasn't too interested in which predominantly white school's upper class fan base would go home happy, but I have to admit it was a good ending. I was frustrated the last two weeks with all the Hoosier references. ARGH! Butler is in the same league as Gonzaga and has been either in the top 10 or on the cusp of being in the top 10. They have a future NBA starter and likely another NBA draft pick after that on the team. In fact, 5 years from now Hayward will be a starter in the NBA while the Duke guys will be on the bench in the NBA or will be playing overseas or making money with an MBA somewhere. So enough with the David and Goliath references. Butler was a very good team going in who got a lousy seed (should have been a 4 seed or even a 3). Congratulations to them on a great season, but lets view them in the proper light, and not in the light a story hungry media feeds us, OK? Great.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Odd week

Well, it was a good end to the week, but it was an odd one. Thursday, I split my time, doing a very lame hour in the morning with Gator to take advantage of the muddy conditions.

Trying to make up for it, I did a run Thursday in Cuyamaca, going up Cuyamaca peak. It was a fun winter climb and super spooky. There was a thick fog and a light mix of rain and snow. Visibility was about 5 feet, and I had to scan my light side to side just to see the edges of the trail and stay on track. It slowed me down, taking 51 minutes to make the climb, but it was good to be back at altitude and the spookiness of the dead and dormant trees looming over the trail with the fog floating through them provided a spooky backdrop.

Friday was a poker game at Greg's, so it meant trying to slip in a run some other time. Fortunately, the office closed early, so I was able to slip out and grab an hour and a half in Penasquitos. Nature's call brought about a handful of leaves and chafing problems, and the single track was very overgrown and difficult. But the flowers were out and the creek was flowing, so it was pretty, if nothing else. A funny sidenote when I got back was I was talking to Kate, a new attorney at work, who asked if I would be interested in running with her friend Ryan when he moved to San Diego. Well, after a few moments of conversation, it turns out her friend happens to be Ryan Hall. Yeah, maybe I'll go show him the ropes, teach him a thing or two. Or not.

Saturday's run went much better. I put the Michigan State game on and took Gator to Mission trails. We did a double ascent of North Fortuna from Oak Creek. The first trip up took 19 minutes, and the second one took 18 minutes. Both of those were encouraging (900 feet over a mile and a quarter on loose DG). My new downhill running is going pretty well too. I like the cycling tip of turning over and gripping the downhill with my feet that I got out of a random trailrunner letter to the editor. It works pretty well for me, but takes concentration. Anyways, spent a total of about 2 hours at the park doing some flat stuff after the up and down.

Sunday was the new modified loop (6 climbs, including Grasslands, Powerline, North Fortuna, Shepardson Canyon, South Fortuna, and Kway Paay). I need to figure out some exact distances, but it seems like its about 12 miles with about 3000 feet of climbing. Did it in about 3:10, and then did 50 minutes of flat running that went pretty well, if a little slow. Didn't feel too sore, so probably had a little more I could have given, but fairly satisfied overall. In two weeks, I'll do a double loop to see how that goes. If I can go 6.5 hours, I'll be pretty psyched. That puts me right on track for a good performance in Jemez.

More soon with some pics, I hope!