Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pacifica 30k a Great Training Run!

Saturday was a very interesting day. As some may be aware it was a very stormy week in all of California with downpours, snow in the sierras and high damaging winds. I had Pacifica on the schedule to run the first 50k of the year. Early on in January I had debated 50k on this course and talked with my coach about downgrading to the 30k if I would do that I would have to run this race smart and tactical versus just finish the 50k. All that went out the door during the week with the storms..I was not at all excited about driving to Pacifica early on Saturday morning and run in sloppy conditions. So on Friday afternoon I had planned on bailing and run Foresthill with some folks...As I prepared Friday evening for Foresthill I saw some images from a friend that lives up there...A LOT OF SNOW! I went to bed by 9pm thinking I was gonna be in the snow...I woke up about 1am and took another look at the snow photo and decided at 1am Saturday morning to run Pacifica!!! What a flopper I am!..I reset the alarm for 3am and I go at 4:30am to Pacifica..

Weather on the way down was wicked with downpours and some pretty serious accidents on 80...As soon as I turned off onto hwy 1 to Pacifica more rain! Dry roads..Still idea what i was getting myself into...
Pacifica trail race is a series of races ranging from 9k to 50k with 400 signed up for all the events. the longer races 21k,30k and 50k started with a long climb and then turn around head back down. This was some single track and fire road..This caused some serious traffic jams on the way up...I was in the company of some local runners..Kim Kortz, Jeff Barbier,Barb Ash, Greg Holmes,Charlie Jones and Gus(gotta get your last name and Darnelle Little. Me,Kim,Jeff, Darnelle 30k..barb,charlie,greg,gus 50k..As we climbed and descended we all had a chance to talk a bit,take in some stunning views...I had settled into some mid to back of the pack on this climb..I wanted to run better on the subsequent two laps to come. That said I witnessed in the this pack of runners some real rookie errors on the steep narrow rocky downhill with folks who have no need to pass on the downhill thinking they are going to win some age group awards when they are SOOO far back and causing the rest of us to be pushed aside..I will say this revenge was sweet..all these foolish runners I would pass on the remaining two loops!!!

I had an nice talk with some folks heading to the aid station at about 7miles and for the first time we hit the course where we would have to do two 5.5mile loops. Here I started to settle into a great tactical race....One this loop trail..either you where climbing or going downhill. The uphills not too steep. I managed my energy well with slow run and power walks on the these sections. I was passing a lot of folks now and opening gaps when I hit the two major dowhills on this loop. I felt great..Lap 1 was in 1:08 not fast but in control..I could not wait for lap 2...I followed the same plan for lap 2 run, I passed more runners even with the powerwalk..I was feeling in control..on the last downhill it was slicker than the first..I was in a out of control downhill run but loving it! I passed some female hikers heading up as I was screaming down and they only could gasp and say.."oh my god..your crazy" I loved it! I got to the final turns leading to the finish and caught a train of runners..I gently told em to let me go pass on this I was using gravity to move me through. I hit the finish in a not spectacular time but felt very good..not tired, blown out at all but GOOD...A smart run...
Quads are a bit tired today..will head out for a run later...I made the right decision Pacifica was the bomb.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

TRIBALL a good hurt

The 3 loop Profile of Ball Bearing starting from 3rdgate:

The TRIBALL and QuadBall Group in the photo: John, Charlie,Karalee,Gus,Rena,Andrew and me..taking photo Kim

With the third Saturday in January it was pretty appropriate I guess to do something three times..Maybe it will bring me some luck! I sure hope so! But really luck is what you set your mind to doing and set out to make it happen...Saturdays run had all those elements.

No trip on the horizon on Saturday to SoCal so I had all the time in the world..granted I would have hopped a late night flight in a heart beat but I would have been tired...On with the running diary. John Nichols and Charlie Jones have put into their annual WS training multiple laps going up Ball Bearing hill (which is part of the Cool Course). I had never taken part in this. Lets review a little bit about the course:

1)From Third Gate about .8mile down to a drop point where we you can have a aid station of sorts. From here Each lap is about 6.7miles.
2)From Third Gate gentle running as one heads to Dead Truck and the technical downhill to a strong flowing creek.
3)From the creek a nice runnable stretch with various names..I call it the waterfall trail which leads to Ball Bearing.
4)Ball Bearing to Alt Junction then up the WS trail and great crusing section to our starting point....Repeat as many times as you want!

That in mind I have run this during WTC but never multiple times. I forgot how nice this is a perfect loop course for some serious workouts. As we set out I was leery with staying so close to Nichols,Drew Schooley, Kim and Karalee. I wanted to see how the legs felt on the first lap. With cool temps and overcast skies off we went.
My legs at the start did not feel so good even though the group was moving slow...As we did a slow steady climb to the base of Deadtruck I stopped, did a shot of asthma meds and seperated from the group for the time being. That said I scrambled down Dead Truck which has a few technical steep sections down to the river. Here I caught the group crossing let em go as they made their way to Ball Bearing Intersection. I was starting to feel better on this cruising section and kept the lead group in site but did not want to catch at the time. Ball Bearing 1 climb was steady but tight achilles but it did not feel overall hurtful yet.....The lead group was now cruising on the climb from ALT juntion to WS I saw them on climbing above on the switch backs and settled into a power walk..they where about 1 or 2minutes ahead at this point..As we crested and got on the cruise section for the final 2miles to our aid station..I gradually pulled em in and settled for the last 1 mile to the finish for lap 1--time was 1:22.

Rena was not feeling well and being my ride back to Cool I had to see get another ride..I wanted to run those 3 laps! Drew said he would while Kim and Karalee where on for 3 plus more miles...We took off for lap 2--I took the lead but let the group pass at Dead Truck during the descent...Nichols and Drew where screaming down the hill! So where Kim and Karalee, Me and Charlie..a bit slower but I let Charlie take the lead..Legs feeling good now as we get to Ball Bearing..Charlie and I talked it up a bit going up to Alt all the while we could here drew chatting it up somewhere in the distance. Again I walked up the hill from ALT and let charlie make some time in front of me..much like the past I reeled him in with a mile or so to go to end our second lap...
Lap 2 Time---1:23. Legs felt good lets get 3 underway!

Drew said he had to bail after 2 to go somewhere and if I wanted to go we better get a move on..Here I felt..I really need to finish what I started today no matter what..So I asked Kim for a ride even though they would finish after me I was willing to wait awhile...This was a good mindset for me...I could have bailed at 1 lap, 2laps but I did not want to break my own promise to myself..This was Western States Training not some goof around..Every Day counts! So with that we bid Drew farewell and off we went for Lap 3...

Lap 3 was slow for me from the start..I wanted alone time and let everyone go. I could tell I was getting tired with how bad my downhill section on Deadtruck was..but on any flats I was moving well and pushing the legs..Climbing Ball Bearing for the 3rd time was HARD...I took a few short breaks..this was training..and kept the head down and moving to ALT..I knew once I climbed alt I would be clear and running free..Which I did. I was running steady to finish lap three...seeing Nichols and Charlie getting ready for lap 4..I was happy finishing 3 when I had so many chances to bail! Lap 3 slower but that was fine. Legs feel tired this morning..a tough workout. There where other options that day to run long even a AR training run..but really this was perfect..tough with some runnable sections and mental toughness..perfect!
Lap 3-Time 1:27

That said things are going well...This is controlled training, not some haphazard plan it will get me to the line strong! I need to work on the socal plans and make those reality as well. A wet and wild week ahead..oh and I turn 49! Gad!


Friday, January 15, 2010

No Light...No Problem...Stagecoach in the Dark

This has been one of those weeks...A week where things have not turned out as planned and adaption has been the rule of the game so far. The good side of things is I have stuck to the plan regardless of some things that occurred.

Northern California has been in the fog for the last 10 days or so and recently some pretty heavy downpours. We really need this but getting in sun keeps me in a good mood. After the Nichols run I started to review the upcoming week and training schedule. There where going to be some issues between work and getting in the time to run. I actually handled this pretty well. I would hold to working as late as possible and then cut off the meeting or conference call and head out the door. I had been doing more road running and building speed according to the workouts. The trails where calling by middle of the week so I did my speed work there and that helped cheer me up. When the sun finally did come out on Wed...I had a cross train and weight session scheduled...jeeez but I went and did that. Come Thursday I had a hectic work day with meetings in Sacramento ..I left the last meeting and headed out the door for Auburn to run the Stagecoach Loop..

I got to the Overlook about 5pm and bolted out to the trail..grabbed my bottle and flashlight and ran down the trail....Still some light and I felt I could get to the 49bridge before total darkness...As I crested near Robie..and heading down WS and the black hole it got dark..I looked to my trusty flashlight...DANG! DEAD Batteries! I was running well,running hard and felt no way would I turn back then...I would just be careful as it got DARK! I am not too skiddish about running alone on trails I just did not want to fall...I ran hard to nohands and sprinted across 49bridge lucky no car traffic at the time..I got to the base of stagecoach where it was really dark..Pace slowed to a slow shuffle..even though I know this trail like the back of my hand it was still hard in total darkness..this is a wide old stagecoach road but ruts and rocks abound so slow run..The plus side to this is the pace was so slow I never went too high in the heart rate and it was really comfortable from that standpoint...But slow. I finally made it to Foresthill Road and was careful running back to the overlook..I enjoyed it though..WHY? Because it was a challenge to finish this in the dark..not smart but a bit more difficult and there where no other folks out on the trail the whole time..I love running in solitiude like that.

So the week and mileage is where it is supposed to be I keep asking myself if I should be doing more but this is January not March or April! No travel to LA so I will be running part of the Quad Ball with Nichols and others...Gotta be flexible and go with the flow...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

First Full Week of Training--end with the Nichols Run

Looks like I am hooking up my training bra (oh its my camelback!) getting ready to go up browns bar...

Saturday was the annual John Nichols Birthday Run..It always has the option of running a total of 40miles or something less. Some years it has been really cold..LIKE 18degrees at the start (yes it was that cold one year....Yesterday was mid forties at 7am with fog..seems we can't get above the cloud bank right now...Anyway we had the largest turnout ever with about 30 runners pulling in to Placer High School to run the WS course.

Fast and long group consisted of Nichols, Victor Ballestoros, Erik Skaden, Mark Lantz and Rob Evens...Others going the full distance included Charlie Jones, Grant and Leslie Carboni...I was in the short group it was on my schedule to run 22 and this resulted in lots of discussion and some teasing on not running longer...All part of the plan it will get tougher as we progress...

Yesterdays run on the WS Trail had us start near the track and head out on the WS course in the opposite direction then heading back..So with 30 runners off we went into the fog on our way to Robie Point..By the time we got to Robie I was overheated and pulled off the gloves and vest, Heading down the black hole was slick with mud and tough moving through at any real speed..No time to improve downhill technical running form on this section...We had a large train of folks with Chuck and Trish Godfredson, Rena Schumann, Kate Evens and others lite and chatty till we got to no hands bridge....From No hands and the start of the climb I wanted to just keep it steady and slow and not bust my lungs running the whole section to Cool since its early in the run...So I jumped in with Leslie, Trish, Chuck, and Derek Schemanski and ran and power walked to the top..Derek and I talked about not blowing out the heart rate so early in the year and running smart on these training runs. I have in the past run with Rena, Mark and others and kept up well early in the multi hour runs only to lose it later on the return....Today was not about how fast I went but how smart I ran on this training run.

We got to Cool and more cool and fog...At HWY 49 was the nichols aid station a cooler filled to the gills with food and drink...way cool. We headed off down Quarry trail and found some serious blowdowns that stop you in your tracks...We also saw Tim Twietmeyer running up qt with some folks..they looked fresh and running easy..oh to be such a good runner!
Life got easy once we hit Quarry Road and a easy run on the way to Browns which was about 9.5miles with the climb to the top that would be 10. Once there a few turned back to finish with 20 and I continued on for add on mile to get 11 and my return being 22...From here I ran alone the rest of the way...I was taking observations on how I felt compared to last years run (like I did on New Years Day) fitness is far ahead at this time as compared to last year and I ran well to HWY 49 a litle tired climbing quarry trail and a steady controled downhill from 49 to NoHands..keep the quads alive!
Running from Nohands to Placer High always seems long on the stretch climbing up the black hole..just a mentally tough section with gentle uphill grade and tired legs make it a long time..Victor Ballasteros blew by me (he turned at ALT and ran 30) he was running easy..I was tired but that was fine.

A good day and time on feet for the 22miles..with the new year mileage total is will increase with each week and get a bit faster. Next week I have some planning to do and see my friend in Socal can get together at her new place and get in a long run somewhere on the trails down there that will be nice...Looking forward to seeing her and some sunshine (I hope!). Oh these little complications may seem stressful but they sure are fun...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Day 1-New Years Day-Western States Training

Note: all photos in today's blog courtesy of John Blue and Trish Godfredson

SUN ARISES as Runners leave Drivers Flat to head towards CalStreet---

Jan 1 2010 starts early, I arrived about 6am to help do any set up and corral cars to parking spots and get a prime one for me...Dark and misty was the overall description as runners started flowing in by 6:30. Peter Defty and his group had the pop ups and we got those up early since it looked like ran for the breakfast after....It was fun setting things up and waiting for friends to shuttle and start. Mark,Rena,Charley,Rob and Kate made it up to Foresthill by 7:30 and where greeted by many other runners that decided to park there and save the 10 buck park fee at Drivers...Here we saw some old timers-Wayne Miles, Bill Finkbeiner and newbies. No time to waste as we hit the trail...

There was a conga line for the first mile down and it was fun...Mark,Rob leading Kate wondering why Rob was going so fast and she thought he was going to just run her pace today...Peter Korn and a friend of his,me,Rena and some new folks....moving fast and easy. I knew better after the first 15minutes and jumped out of the line to settle it down...My legs felt so good as Rena and I crossed the first stream then the second stream...Two women where about 50 yards ahead and I decided to just draft on them as I cruised into Cal1 aid station. This year I did not stop and just kept on going keeping my distance and enjoying the run. Rena had dropped off a bit but I knew she would catch up as we started some uphill towards Cal2 and 8miles in.
Like clock work Rena caught up and we ran down impail trail to Cal2 in a very typical 1:31. We do this all the time..this year however I noticed a change..I felt really comfortable...hmmm maybe I am actually getting into some real running shape...

Rena and I then had a little break at Cal2 with Karyn Hoffman and her pacer from last year...It was funny we had not seen any runners hanging out so we must have been in the middle between the fast and early runners and the folks that started later..But it was nice to be out temps still cool but really perfect for a first training run....We chatted it up down Cal2 and upto Cal3...That climb normally has me totally gassed..but a change this year..I was talking and moving well on the climb..proof 2--I must be getting better! We hit cal3 in 2:00hrs and started to smell the barn...well a long way to go...During this stretch we reviewed some Rena's running and how she felt on these sections during last years WS...she had some dark moments but just kept moving through...

Energy was fantastic..I kept wondering when the legs would give and I would hit that slow dreaded non power walk but nope! Not in 2010..We cruised into Rucky Chucky and Rena peeled off to the bathroom...she said she would try and catch me..I was thinking..dang I have never beat her to the top and finish at Drivers Flat maybe today...So I hit the 2.4mile climb up at 2:55 and thought I better get to the top by 3:30...That in mind it was a hard power walk and short runs on the flats the first mile up..that is the hardest..No Rena yet and no other runners. Years past and other training runs I often get passed far no runners just me. I was moving well, I heard my cell go off (it was in my pack...) telling me I had a text message..I knew it was from my friend on the centtral coast :)...I wanted to stop and respond but in the middle of a good climb with 1mile to go I wanted to finish well...So I started a slow shuffle to the top...always thinking "where is Rena"...I got to the gate and hit my watch..3:26 made it to the top feeling very good. It turned out Rena was about 3minutes back..I told her she eased up on me today...But it was a really a good run.

At the finish we had a visitor..some runners in the front noticed a sick Bald Eagle at Sandy Bottoms and scooped up this BIG bird and shuttled, ran it up to the top of Drivers to get it to a vet to rescue..It was pretty wild that this guy in the picture carried the eagle a few miles..No word on if the bird will recover...

I will end this lengthy blog with some photos of the finish..This morning off to Cool and a 9mile recovery run on the Olmstead with my coach and get into shape....Tony