Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tough weekend

So far, all is a go on training. The idea was to put in a little peak this weekend, 3 weeks after the 43 miler. So after a relatively straight forward week with a Tuesday canyon run, a Wednesday run with Pierce and his dad on the trails by the house, a couple of Kway Paay repeats, and the usual Friday nighter, it was a day off on Saturday.

Sunday was a triple Cowles. 22.5 miles and 7500 feet of climbing. Lots of up and downs, just like the day itself. What is great about Cowles is that it is technical, steep in places, close, and I can get reception on all my various audio devices. So I spent Sunday listening to hockey while getting some great training it.

The main downsides to Cowles are that the climbs aren't that long (2.2 miles and 1.5 miles respectively), and the place, especially the backside, is PACKED. The backside is a challenge being 1.5 miles and 900 feet of climbing, and makes a perfect target for weekend warriors, and those trying to date weekend warriors. There are crowds of families with little children, lots of meat heads from the gym, lots of women in full makeup and skimpy outfits (OK, that's not such a downside), dogs galore with many off leash, and just a cross section of all kinds of folks. It is like running downhill through a mall at Christmas, assuming that mall is strewn with rocks and uneven trail.

Of all those, the gym guys crack me up. If I do three laps, I do the backside climb three times, and usually on the third, I may get caught by one really fast hiker, but generally the only guys who catch me are at the bottom of the climb, when these gym guys shoot by in their tank tops with their hair on fire. Usually, they crash and burn by the time the get halfway up, and I end up with my fast hike passing 4 out of 5 of these guys before the top.

Every once and while you see a runner out there. For example, on Sunday, I saw a guy in a Noble Canyon 50k shirt (I had mine on as well) and a lady in a Miwok 100k shirt. So there are definitely people there trying to get their trail miles in, but it sure is a crush on that one side of the mountain. The other side is relatively quiet, and half of it is on fire road, which makes it easy to get around. Anyways, there's Cowles for you. One day I will just take pictures of people I see on Cowles. And dogs. So you can get the point.

Anyways, up and over and back three times. Finished a little over 5:45, so that was about right.

Yesterday was a double (almost) Holy Jim. From where I start, it is about 8 miles each way with about 4200 feet of elevation gain. The trail starts under cover of trees by a stream and is relatively mild up until the junction with the falls at which point it starts a grind up, never steep, but always steady. After a brief run on fire road, its onto a steep exposed single track that dumps you out on the same road about a mile and half up. Then its up the fire road to the top, with a few steep pitches but nothing too bad. Its a long day each way, so double duty is intimidating.

The day went well enough for being a back to back long run. It took a little while to get warmed up, but once I hit the climb, I put my head down and cranked it out. Radio reception was OK, so had some stuff to listen to, but phone reception was out, so no hockey. Bummer. Did the first up and back in 4:15 or so, which was slower than I wanted, but still acceptable given that it was going to be 50 miles in 2 days. But I also realized I was going to run out of water. The trailhead is about 25 minutes from civilization (which is really saying something in Orange County) and there is no water at the trailhead. I had brought 8 bottles, which I realized wasn't going to be enough. I can only carry 4 in my pack, but I should have brought water to drink before the run and at the car aid station. By the time I got done with my 1/2 subway and hit the trail again, I was down to 3.5 bottles of water and feeling parched. I knew I wouldn't make it up to the top again with my water situation, but decided to go as far as I could get. On the way up, there is a spring (not Bear Spring 1/2 way up, but a smaller spring under a tree at mile 3). I was iffy on taking too much water from there as I had no way to treat  it and didn't know how clean it was. In talking to other hikers, I decided to risk it (partly) and filled up a little bit mixed with water I knew was good, hoping if it was bad, it would at least be diluted. Doing that, I made it up to the start of the single track before I headed back down. I walked in the last 1/2 mile or so with a group of Asian hikers who I had passed a few times up and down. It always makes me feel good to pass people going up a second time, as it makes you feel like you are doing something unusual. I had fun explaining ultramarthons to the group and it was a good way to end the day. Even with that, I ended up doing this second part of the run in 3 hours and 15 minutes, and probably would have been around 3 hours even had I not stopped to chat. 7:45 for 28 miles, or 16 minute miles. The day before was 22 miles in 5:45 or 15.5 minute miles. The total for Sunday and Monday was 50 miles, 14,000 feet of climbing, in 13:30 which was about 16.25 minute miles. Given that this was after a full week of training, I feel pretty good. I definitely felt like I had more in the tank when I finished Holy Jim, so that's a good sign. As always, I could have gone faster in sections and would like to have brought enough water to finish off the second climb, but I will be back to see if I can better my double Holy Jim time. In the meantime, a relative success.

Don't know what this week will hold. I'm a little burned out, so want to have a fun week. It is supposed to rain tonight, so I will head out to enjoy that somewhere. Will stick to one long run this weekend. I'm thinking a couple of repeats on Cuyamaca on Saturday and then maybe a double grind up High Point, as it will have been a month since my last visit. 3 more weekends until my break! Gotta keep it up . . .

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Three weeks of fun

Sheesh, three weeks have gone by since the latest update? This is not going as well as I had hoped. Let me summarize: Lots and lots of climbing. And then some. The highlight was my birthday run. As many of you know, I like to run a mile for every year. While this does not bode well for retirement, it is fun now. I turned it into a training run for Hardrock, deciding to do a triple High Point. That's 39 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing. So to top it off, I did another 2 mile 1800 foot climb which is the start of High Point. 43 miles and 11,800 feet. This was after a week of training, so a good test of how things were going to this point. In short, it was very cold up top with a freezing wind. I tried walking sticks for the first time, and while I liked them, they were a pain to fiddle with, and I need a good way to stow them when I'm not using them, so something to experiment with. I was able to do the run in 11:45, so I'm right on  pace for where I want to be.

That was the Sunday before my birthday. The Saturday before Super Bowl I did 24.5 miles with Gonzo looking at a possible reroute for Noble Canyon 50K. Disappointing day. I didn't really feel like I had it and was hurting by the end. This was in the same week as the birthday run, and I had done a few runs in between, so it could just have been the strain of 80 plus miles of heavy climbing.

This week was relatively normal. Tuesday AM run which went well as my first "flat" run in a while. I did a nighttime Cowles Mtn. run, the Friday usual at my usual 2 hours, a Saturday run with Koa the puppy up North Fortuna which was as much of an upper body workout as lower as I wrestled with him around the single track.

And then today was Harrison Grade. I had not done Harrison Grade before, but had heard about it and even driven it once. It is 11.1 miles and about 4900 feet of climbing one way. So a long gradual climb just like I expect up until the final pass of both Virginus and Oscar's. It went better than I could have expected. I did the climb up in exactly 3 hours. The last 3 miles were complete snow and ice and in the low 30's as compared to the start in the 50's in the orange and avocado groves below. Towards the top passed an awesome old Chargers truck. Met the occupants at the top who were hiking with Rodney the Rottie. Very cute dog who desperately wanted a bite of my Carls Junior bacon egg and cheese biscuit. Sorry, doggy.

The trip down was about 1:40. Somewhere, I lost my phone. I don't know how I lost it as it was in a pocket in the front of my vest. Not sure how it pops out without me seeing it. But it did. And so from the bottom I drove back up to the last place I saw it, over 7 miles up the road. No dice. But on my way down, I ran into three folks in a truck who had found it and called Erica. When asked about what I looked like, she told them, "Tall, bald, and probably dirty." While accurate, I feel like that's somewhat pejorative. Whatever the case, they found me, so thanks guys!

Pics below from the last weekend of running. This week will be a long run Saturday and a long run Monday on the day off. Probably try to do multiple Cowles repeats on Saturday followed by double Holy Jim on Monday. We'll see.
Here's Koa on top of Fortuna. Good job, puppy!

Here's the Charger truck I talked about. I think it was an old F250. The guy's a good fan. I love that his tailgate section, E4 is on the truck. I hope they don't move to LA, or he's going to have to sell his truck.

 A picture of a tree on the way up. Note that the ice is frozen sideways on the trees. I've never seen this before. It looks cold just looking at it.
Here's Rodney the Rottweiler at top. He was super cute and friendly and not cold at all. 
Probably 6 inches of snow or more at the top. Good Hardrock training. 
 Looking up towards the summit and Boucher's lookout, the goal.

 And looking back down at the orange groves.