Sunday, April 26, 2009

Week 2 in the Canyons-Lots of Folks and good talk

This is a short note this morning. A second weekend of running from Michigan Bluff to Swinging Bridge and back. Its a short 18 but a lot of downhill and uphill making this a good training run for the future...Which had me thinking today as I was slowly moving up from the river to the deadwood cemetary. The phrase "you have to walk before you can run". This day was cold in the mid 30's as I arrived to see Rena getting ready for our run starting at Michigan Bluff. She of course was greeted by the dog mayor of MB--Archie. We where later joined by Karyn Hoffman and made our way down to the river with me in the lead..not to comfy with that but I knew I would slow down once I started my climb...I had my second sighting of Rory this week...a very graceful runner as she was heading down on her way to Last Chance..She sure made a impression on all of us runners out there by her ease in which she ran..No chance for any real talk here but one day :)

As the climb began I let Rena and Karyn go and focused on me improving my time to the cemetary..About this time I spotted Bill Finkbeiner, Wayne Miles and Mike Huff running and powerwalking from behind..I let them catch me and pass...I then jumped on their train since I figured I could learn something here..which I did and the climb to Deadwood was much better than last week! As we chatted at the water pump and then made our way to Devils Thumb and the downhill to swinging bridge I was feeling better and comfortable. Once the downhill started Bill and Wayne just smoked me and ran very lightly on the steep descent. I was running too rigid and slow to keep up..note to self (better downhill running please)..Heading up from the bridge was Paul Charteris taking "action" photos' of all of us as ran down..I stopped and chatted with him and swung on down to the bridge, Rena, Karyn, Bill and Wayne where waiting..they where all turning back so off we went. I stuck with them for a short while and we ran into Mark Lantz,Eric Skaden and Marty Hoffman..It was a real running party out there! Feeling better as I got to the top but with the same time as last week I ran much better from the Waterpump down to the river more speed and relaxed. That just left the climb to MB..Well that was better but not by much..some running but still a slow time..As I said I have to walk before I can run...As I got to MB my time was much better than last week and I felt pretty good. Being in the busy city of Michigan Bluff..population hmmm about 100? which includes at least 15 dogs and horses! We had a chance to talk to a few locals as we waited for Lantz and Skaden..that was fun. More of the same next week...Tony

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Welcome to the Canyons-Michigan Bluff to Swinging Bridge

A Day in the Canyons...Last weekend was prelude to see where I am at with my climbing legs. Today had all the climbing and downhill to test the quads. Weekends this year have been pretty cool. On this day a little more heat. I had planned my run to be shorter than others that where starting from Foresthill this morning. I swung by the school about 6:30am to get some water from Ken Crouse that wanted me to drop it at Michigan Bluff. I had a cooler full of coke, water, gatoraid, ice and gels for friends today since my car was going to be at Michigan they could use it for the final 6 miles to Foresthill. At FH Jen Pheifer arrived shortly after for her first run on these trails in two years..hmmm Western States this year? Rena and Jamie Frink showed a few minutes three groups heading out from FH headed towards MB as I drove off...It was cool and sunny in Michigan Bluff..Archie the unofficial mayor of the dogs at MB greeted me. Michigan Bluff is a old gold mining settlement with about 15 houses dogs wonder the streets and you can always have a coverstation with the handful of residents. Its is also a major aid station come Western States day so everyone there seems really friendly towards runners.

Michigan Bluff to El Dorado creek is 2.8 miles of downhill and is a nice warm up...but let me tell you the return is hard! I forgot all the climbing to the abandoned mining down of Deadwood (all that is left is a cemetary). I was not comfortable running at all from the creek to Deadwood and the water pump that is there.
The Community of Michigan Bluff--Mile 55.7 Western States

But I kept thinking I wanted to do the hard work today which meant getting down devils and back up. The stretch from the creek to deadwood though all it does is climb is stunning and quite...I was moving slow but that was ok. I hit the water pump and as I was heading to Devils..I heard voices was Jenn and her group...they started about 7 from FH and had 6 extra miles to run..there they where. That was cool they where turning back at the pump for about a 26mile training run.
Temps where starting to rise now as I headed to Devil's Thumb and the descent to Swinging was going to be tough coming back up.

Devil's Thumb-Western States 47.8--A tough climb

The run down to swinging bridge via the Thumb is switchbacks and very rocky, roots all over..It is slow running downhill here and took me over 28minutes to make it down the approx..1.5 miles. At the bottom you are awarded a stunning bridge and roaring spring runnoff of the american river. As I stopped a rather attractive young women came blowing past me to the bridge! I am thinking dang she is moving fast. She stopped long enough to say hi and exchange running plans..I was amazed since she only had two bottles and a few gels for her run from MB to Last Chance and back. Sure would be nice to see her again! I turned here and started the climb back up to Devils. This is the steepest climb on race day at Western States so I best get really used to this. I was alone pretty much to this point but then a ton of runners (about 12 I lost count) where all heading down as I was going up. I said hi and kept on my running at all on this and it took me 43minutes to the top. I was tired but felt good still..I geled up at the top and took off for my return to the water pump and the downhill to the final climb from El Dorado to MB.

Swinging Bridge-At the base of Devils Thumb

The run back was slow and the quads where shot on the long downhill to El Dorado. I saw a few runners here but kept moving. The final climb up to Michigan Bluff had me whinning internaly as I approached the last half mile. It had been a long day.
Today..still a bit tired but thinking this should be my long run on Saturdays for the next couple of weeks..Get very comfortable with this stretch and build the climbing legs...Tony

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Last weekends trip to the canyons

Elevation Profile of 12 mile run from Foresthill to Michigan Bluff(and back) on WS

Last weekend I did the same post American River 50 workout as did the previous year. It was to help me understand where I am and need to be for June 2010. That said the course as the profile describes has some all the elements that will help me run better...lots of up and lots of down. Overall, I had a much better experience on the course than last year. I had set out with Rena, Kate and Karyn (they where headed all the way to Devils Thumb). It was cold as can be..must have been in the high 30's but as we started moving it turned out to be a glorious day. It was nice to be on this section of much history and less traffic, never a lot of day hikers etc..just folks training for Western States. After we crossed the creek at the bottom of Volcano I let the women go ahead and I wanted to focus on my own pace and see where things where at for me...They went ahead. I really enjoyed the stillness as I climbed up and out of the canyon..Per last year I took the one wrong turn as I headed to Michigan Bluff..dang. I ended up on the road to MB got to the small settlement of Michigan Bluff and no sign of the women... I thought that odd but hung out for a few minutes then went back on the correct path to Foresthill..Here I ran into Rena and company..they took a different wrong turn and doubled back. Seems we all do this on the first run in this section. John Nichols and Charley Jones came through as well. On the return I slowed down and my legs where feeling heavy.

This weekend I am planning on running from Michigan Bluff to Swinging Bridge or Last Chance and back..this will be about 6 hours of running. I am planning on going on my own but will surely see a few folks along the way.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A few images of American River 50mile

Still Kinda Fresh--About 13miles in along the American River..

About mile 37 finally on Trail..Just passed Buzzards Cove Aid Station..I soon would be running better...

The finish...Not Pretty but a Western States Qualifying Time...

What did I do the week after AR?

I will be posting some official photo's from AR soon. But I thought I would share a bit of what happend the following days after American River 50mile...

First, I was a total piece of toast on Sunday Morning and in fact all day. Saturday's post race victory dinner consisted of graham crackers and a large glass of milk! It was all I could really muster as I tried to focus on watching the ncaa semifinal game...It seems that my mind and body after a 50mile race have a tough time focusing on things..I had even planned to get my taxes completed on Sunday but that turned into a total NO..This began the typical two day period that has me feeling really tired and not moving well after being idile sitting down. Kinda like the marathon Monday I was ready to eat kinda normal again and enjoyed shoveling down some sushi and a ton of rice at lunch.
My overall feeling aside from a smashed toenail recovered well by the middle of the week and my weekly deep tissue massage actually felt pretty good. All the while during the week I had been reviewing my performance at AR and where and why I lost focus...It also afforded me to really think of the 1 year training cycle for Western States 2010 that will begin the Monday after WS...

Emails started to flow about this weekends training run from Foresthill to Last Chance and back...I am leaning towards FH to Michigan Bluff and back as my recovery run and intro to the canyons...Last year that same course the week after AR was really slow..I will see how I compare.
One last thought and important note to self: I need to convert my first floor home office to a full bedroom...prior to WS. I just can't handle those stairs..I have two empty bedrooms upstairs that easily can be my my legs!


Sunday, April 5, 2009

A tail of 3 races--American River 50Mile

A Little Tired after AR

Mark and Rena..Looking a heck of a lot better than I...

It really was a nice day to run along the river to Auburn yesterday. The day began way too early as I awoke at 2:45am and then catch the bus from the finish to the start at 6am in Sacramento. The course had a few changes with some additional trail and climbing..200 more runners on the course. The start was not so bad as I thought it would be and off we went. I saw Rena, Jenn Pheifer, Ernie and a cast of others as the sun began to rise.

In my prediction I wanted to keep things low and slow..that kinda happened for the first 19miles but it was a very uneven pace ranging from 8:50 to 10minute miles along the bike path. It felt easy and I was a bit concerned as I hit Nimbus 7minutes ahead of schedule. I had been taking 2 scaps per hour and one roctane every 45minutes...this seemed to work early on...As we hit the trai and the bluffs I took it down a bit and held that pace as I went through Negro Bar...I was a little bit uncomfortable as I hit Beals and here I started to take way too long at the Aid Station..nearly 7minutes as I filled my hip pack with more roctane etc.. At Beals I was right on the mark I predicted 4:50. But I was not feeling strong..This was the first third of my race..

As I left Beals to head to Granite Bay and Buzzards I started to have slower than expected times..the sun was full force and temps rising. I kind of lost focus past Granite Bay and wondered it a long way to Buzzards today...This was my low moment of the race. I was thinking I just want to stop running all the time..not run Western etc..Finally I was at Buzzards (20minutes behind schedule..) Yet as I stood at the Buzzards Aid Station and facing the toughest stretch of course things began to change...

This third portion of the race from Buzzards to the Finish was the bomb! My pace quickened, I started to really focus as I pushed through the rocky sections between buzzards and Rattle Snake..I was back! Running well. I was only passing people and not being passed. This sure was not the case last year and I was happy...Hitting Rattle I was ready to tackle the final section to the river and that was met with conistant steady focused running..I kept passing folks from 41 to the river..I recall a women that was on the trail running and not wanting me to pass her..she wanted to talk and all I could think of was get the heck out of my way...I was not polite but after being on the trail all day it was time to finish and get to the final 3.2 mile climb from the river...As I hit the river I was HUNGRY..or at least my stomach thought so..I had not had anything from Buzzards except water and a SCAP here I looked at my watch and thought I am behind my goal pace but well under my Qualifying time so might as well enjoy it a bit..I talked a little on the steep climb with someone then ran to last gasp and from there it was walk/run...As I approached the finish..I thought it was slower than last year but I ran a much stronger final 19miles than I have ever run..I was feeling good about that..I did spend too much time at Aid Stations past beals..The watch stopped at a turtle pace of 10:35. Western States Qualifier now complete..The real work begins now..

Mark and Rena stuck around the whole time..they hade finished 4 and 2 hours prior but it was nice to see them at the finish..This years finishers jacket is super sweet!
Post Race..I had tough time eating/or wanting to after the race...and did manage breakfast this morning. Legs did not let me sleep too well last night goes with the territory of ultras. Will take a slow recovery run on Tuesday and see what the weekend brings...