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 . . .