Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Aug 3-9

The looming giant of a race that is UTMB that is waiting for me is rather significant. 33,000 ft of climbing is no joke, and the finish will most certainly be earned. The problems I had in July put a damper on training, but it appears that basic things are coming back around: durability in the mountains, hiking strength, and downhill footwork. I'm not at risk of being over-trained right now, the only risk would be losing my mental stamina going forward. The logistics of international travel, navigating foreign countries, and planning out 11 days in Europe while optimizing my body for racing is a little bit mentally exhausting, but I'm sure it'll be worthwhile and an amazing experience.

Still, part of me is a little bit frustrated at how most people tell me it's going to be "fun". If the race was just 30 miles, and we had all accommodations paid for, and no threat of hellish weather or an arduous finish.. then yes, "fun" would be the descriptor. Yet, after all the problems are solved and I cross the finish line in Chamonix, I suppose a thought might creep into my mind that it was "type II fun"..

Monday - 4 mi running up Acorn in the evening, no pain!

Tuesday - 10 mi - tempo of 5 mi on Mullhullound, not easy after the long weekend, but good to clear out the carbon.

Wednesday - Easy 5mi at sunset at Will Rodgers

Thursday - Easy 3 mi - Soleus was speaking to me

Friday - 19 mi out of Chantry with the poles and full kit. I think my gear is pretty dialed in for the race, everything felt good and secure running on similar UTMB terrain.

Saturday - 14 mi at night from Wrightwood to Baldy - the rains had torn up the terrain, and it was a moonless night, but I kept trucking along the steep terrain and enduring the type 2 fun until it became type 1 fun

Sunday - 6 mi - Mellow, just getting some fun miles above Wrightwood.

  • 61.3mi
  • 13h 2818,192ft
    I might have done a bit more mileage, but the body was a bit reluctant. This week upcoming is more important for being sharp and strong.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2015

    July 27 - Aug 2

    Though I only had 4 runs last week while recovering from the tougher than expected Speedgoat 50k and making time to take care of Katie at AC, the sacrifice karma worked out well, as I'm running well today.

    Tues: 5.4 mile up Los Leones, down the rabbit hole. The body wasn't too energetic, but I got it done without any nagging injuries

    Wed: 3.5 mi taper with Katie, just easy lap around the golf course for the sake of getting Katie (and myself) ready to enjoy the weekend.

    Fri: 2 mi taper run with Katie on Acorn, I felt much better than Tuesday, but the sleepless weekend would crush my energy until I got to sleep in again.

    Saturday: 25 mi (mostly hiking) with Katie while pacing during AC100. Not an easy night after crewing her (and other friends and strangers) all day.

    The race (like most things in life) isn't perfect or ideal. It's a blend of good intentions, fierce lows and powerful highs, painful and glorious human interactions, and crazy stories of absurd extremes. Yet, it is without a doubt my favorite weekend of the year, anywhere in the world. Though I didn't race, I did get this powerful boost out of the weekend from the good moments of icing a stranger in need down, and getting them on their way a little faster with a little better chance of finishing. When someone really needs a helping hand, and anyone (myself or an crew/volunteer/pacer) gets selflessly invested in helping that person out, it's just a beautiful thing.

    Maybe I could be more vocally involved in getting the race organization to update and improve, but I'm more comfortable with encouraging the community aspect rather than the organization aspect. When someone gets frustrated about the sign up process, I understand the justifiable anger of missing out on the running side of the event. It's a big feeling to finish the race and feel the rush of rounding the corner onto Palm Street. Still for me, it was a big feeling to run with Katie through the night when things were at their worst, and to see her persevere all the way to Altadena faster than ever before. It was a big deal to see Joe Devreese gut out a finish after having to readjust expectations all day, and especially sweet to see Billy Simpson work his butt off out of the goodness of his heart to pace him all the way to the finish.

    Sure, there were some not cool things along the way to Altadena, aid stations running out of aid, crews breaking rules, etc. etc. but generally the good people that understood the necessity of supporting the dreams of the runners, filled the gaps and made the race happen. In that sense, I don't get so judgmental about race organizations. Their job is to preserve the race and keep it functioning year after year, and the community's job is to decide whether to make it a good race with awesome performances of the athletic and compassionate nature. With that said, I'll be racing next year, Katie will be crewing me, and I'll be encouraging all the entrants along the way to make the most of the gift of a spot on the starting line, and the crews/volunteers/pacers to make it the best race they ever are apart of.

    The potential of the course is huge, and it's a worthy and arduous experience to train for and participate in the San Gabriels, 365 days a year.

    Mile 99.9

    Monday, July 27, 2015

    July 20-26

    Tues: Easy 10 mile loop up Sullivan and Westridge with Katie and Peter. Soleus seemed to be totally fine with the gradual terrain and easy pace.

    Wed: Tried to pace Katie to a Temescal PR, but it wasn't in the cards for her that day. Katie has a solid PR on the climb, and running faster than her PR takes some ideal variables all lining up just right. It's funny how frustrating short runs are that are decided all too fast, as if running 2 minutes slower for a segment on the AC course would define a 100 mile performance.. But in the instance of a Wednesday morning run, the taper crazies can make a mind wander.

    Thurs: Easy Westridge with Peter.

    Fri: Travel to SLC

    Saturday: The Speedgoat 50k has become a mecca for hardcore mountain runners, so when I got an offer from Greg in June to take his spot, I took it because I'd rarely have the race on my radar with my traditional summer 100s that make it very hard to run well at Snowbird. In June, things were looking good. My fitness had been coming along since the end of April, and no major injuries were present. I injured my soleus over the July 4th weekend, and I spent the last three weeks of July doing very little mileage to keep the injury from carrying into August. The stretching, low mileage, and lack of workouts did the trick, but I also lost a bit of fitness and mountain running strength.

    I was optimistic my time at Hardrock would count for something, and it essentially let me hike all day without any issues. However, the Speedgoat course is so involved (there's something for everyone: Steep, really steep, extremely steep, runnable, technical, extremely technical, buffed out), that running in the 6 hour range requires some strong lungs and limbs to run as much of the gradual terrain as possible. I spent the first climb trying to keep a modest pace a few switchbacks behind the leaders, but the altitude and technical terrain wanted a bit more effort to hold that "modest" pace, and by the time I topped out at Hidden Peak at 11,000 ft. (9 miles in) I was accepting the fitness I was lacking as a sign I should really make it a training race (i.e. slow down and don't blow up for no reason, because finishing the race would be much better for UTMB than trying to race hard and blow up).

    Mile 1 with Jenn Shelton, Photo by Zac Marion

    The course had a general pattern: unpredictability. Coming over the peak, we descended on a fire road for a bit before hitting up a stretch of singletrack overgrown by wildflowers. I think Unicorns running in wildflowers is about as American and the American Flag Store (SLC has one). I enjoyed the segment for all of a minute before I missed a large rock that was hidden by the flowers and went parallel and revolving with the terrain. Bloody hooves, busted gels, and a bruised toe reminded me to chill out and let the course come to me. The course continued winding through the basin, and climbed steeply up to a saddle to drop into another valley that featured a fire road from hell. I felt some tendinitis in my toe flaring up so I tried to carefully dance with the bowling ball rock field and avoid any further damage, but it was frustrating. Eventually I reached Roch Horton's Pacific Mine Aid Station with a pack of runners, and headed back up the long and gradual (run-able) climb through the Aspens with Ryan Lassen. The temperature climbed with us as we hiked/ran and talked about ultra running. As with most things in life, talking about a difficult activity while doing it seems to make it less mind numbingly hard.

    Eventually Ryan picked up the pace, and I started getting protein bonks. Taking gels only in a race only works for so long for me, and eventually I have to get in some protein to catalyze the sugar. I got back to the Mineral Basin Aid Station on fumes and had 10 grams of protein and a couple cups of coke to get ready for the big climb up the looming Baldy Peak. Heading up to 11,000ft three times in a 50K is pretty stout, but it would be foolish to think that the characteristically unpredictable course would just take a natural ascetic line up to the peak. Instead, we marched from 9,500ft to 10,500ft and then avoided the ridge trail that led up to the peak and instead dropped 300ft to a nondescript, steep, grassy bowl where we found a line of blue flags going 800ft straight up the bowl.

    To put it in perspective, it would be like if you were on the 5th floor of a building, and you needed to get to the tenth floor, and for no reason at all, you took the stairs down to the 2nd floor and then turned around and took the stairs up to the 10th floor. This would be the overwhelming pattern for the rest of the race.

    From Baldy Peak I could see Hidden Peak less than a mile away, the top of our last descent. I had 23 miles on my watch, and reasoned one could run down to the saddle and up to Hidden Peak to retrace the first 9 miles of the race and call it a day. Instead the course took a left at the saddle and headed down to Tunnel AS (where we ran through a tunnel), and dropped down to 9,600 for a 3rd climb to 11,000 ft.

    Climbing Baldy Peak from the bowl to the right, Photo by Brad Harris

    It was warm and there was good reason to take salt and hydrate, but I seemed to be favoring an overly minimalist approach to just get the race over with. A foolish mistake on my part, and good reinforcement to be patient at UTMB and force in the calories, salt, and water. The climb up the ridge to Hidden Peak was unnecessarily slow in my stubborn and stupefied state. I could've easily taken 10-15 minutes off my 30 minute mile with proper nutrition, but I wasn't feeling very considerate for myself.

    There was definitely a bit of a "dark with no silver lining" place I was at between the two peaks. I was mad at my shoes, mad at my gel soaked shirt, made at the course, and mad at myself for wasting this trip to Utah with my injury in July. My mind raced from mistake to mistake that made me wonder what I would do in France, how I would recover, and what I needed to avoid any more mistakes in this long and painful year. Ultras are at an unsustainable place right now: elite runners go all over the world with expectations to have all the experience and fitness to dominate. However, there's a lot of opportunities for new ultra runners to come into a race and excel with talent that hasn't been burnt out, mistakes that can be easily absorbed, and injuries that haven't accumulated to any measurable amount. In a way, it reminds me of being the middle son (with two sisters) growing up. 

    I'd like to say I've done a ton of races, but I'm not even halfway to 100 ultras. I'd like to say I'm young at 28, and ready to run hard, but I'm actually carrying a few injuries and recovering slower than before. I'd like to say I'm on the verge of a great race, but I know that great is easily diluted today in races that have dozens of new up and comers that can melt themselves down to their core and make a hard fought finishing time appear average. Growing up, I wanted women's equality to mean that my sisters and I did equal chores, but I did the majority. I wanted my sisters to get punished for their transgressions as severely as I did, but alas I got the best punishments. I wanted to freedom to stay out late and do as I please, but alas I had the tightest leash. 

    At Hidden Peak at mile 27, when I heard we had another 6 miles to go as I was getting passed, I gulped down some Coke and gingerly tip toed down the trail of talus. I understood all the fairness that I perceived was simply never there, and I worked my butt off to stay upright and hold my position for another 5 miles of rough terrain and unnecessary hills, shoulder to shoulder with 5 runners that had finished less combined ultras than myself. 

    I crossed the finish line and felt a huge relief wash over my sore and exhausted body. Though we stood at 7,800 feet, it felt very similar to my first 50k finish seven years ago. The summer afternoon air of July was calm and warm; the trail smoothed out to a buttery and merciful grade, and my body pumped with adrenaline allowing my mind to leave the pain and soreness of the previous 31 miles behind for a gentle landing among kind and welcoming volunteers.
    The "Final" Descent
    32.6 miles, 11,800ft, 7:36 

    Weekly total:

    • 58.1mi
    • 11h 27m
    • 16,627ft

    Monday, July 20, 2015

    July 13-19

    It's tough to nail down good training with a lot of travel, and it's also tough to get it right with a few "not quite bad/not quite ok" niggles around the body. So, though I would've ideally seen a few more miles logged on my Strava in July, I made peace with easing back into a gradual build into August with non-ideal fitness for Speedgoat 50k. That's a far cry from the Unicorn of yester years who would lower his horn and stamp his hooves till the numbers moved and the adrenals ached.

    Listening to Warren Olney tonight on my way home, I heard an interesting argument against letting persons under 21 use E-Cigarettes. The argument from the 21+ movement was that Nicotine affects the development of the brain, and the age at which an individual has the ability to have the maturity to be able to use nicotine and decide how to use it responsibly is 26-28 years old. They knew they couldn't get the country to accept 27 years of age, so they went with lobbying for tobacco use to only be allowed 21+. It brought up an interesting idea of how rental cars charge an extra fee for persons 25 and under, how most professional athletes out of college still don't (usually) become championship athletes for 3-5 years, and how most people in their late 20's are not interested in dating people in their early 20's (usually, except for the industrial grade magnetic pull I had on Katie).

    Thus, I suppose that my current approach to running is about a matter of time and place in life. I don't have a big agenda about calculating the perfect training and believing that I am all or nothing, but I rather have a desire for the cool and clean moments when a "Whoooo-OOOOP!" comes naturally out of my lungs, and I can sense a balance of power and joy in my legs for a few minutes in the middle of a run. I enjoy that feeling so much, that I let my body talk to me and tell me what it needs to give me more of those experiences. In the end, I might lose a bit of fitness and gain a pound or two, but I get the promise of enjoying a workout and feeling momentum throughout the year. For what it's worth, this might be the first time I feel good in Autumn!

    Tuesday: Test jog around the golf course for the soleus: I found out it needs the AIS stretching routine daily and that it was going to heal with some gentle running and stretching.

    Wednesday: Test workout 4x1min and 1x2min. I couldn't go all out, but I could get the heart rate up and focus on getting my mojo back with a little adrenaline rush in the morning. All systems seemed to be responding (although I didn't have the HR strap, I could tell my heart was responsive).

    Thurs: Convo pace up Temescal, enjoyed some apparent progress on the sandstone with the Coyote run

    Fri: Easy run at Inspiration Point - rather beautiful and idyllic run that made my lungs feel strong and capable. I think there's some undeniable benefit to being at high altitude for a few days, and coming back to recover at sea level for a boost of RBC and general confidence in the San Gabes.

    One weekend in the San Gabes..

    Sat: After staying up late watching the fire, we finally got some sleep and made our way up to Blue Ridge for some cold, wet, and windy July running. The storm was great for the fire, and made our fun run to the CG a bit nippy but exhilarating. Again, the lungs felt perfectly fine on Acorn.

    Sun: Attempted to get in a 5x5min interval workout in the window of no-rain afforded by, but instead we got gradually more and more clobbered by the storm cell opening up on Blue Ridge. The intervals looked great on the HR monitor, with 165+ BPM for most of the intervals, I got a good feeling about my adrenals being receptive for Saturday. The workout stopped at 4 reps when the rain turned to hail and the lightning fired up.. So we just did a quick cool down back to a flash flood threatening to take our deck away. Luckily we built a quick set of dams and kept the water in a stream around the house.

    • 41.7mi
    • 7h 14m
    • 9,686ft
    • Not a great number for July, but plenty of good signs for things to come in August.

    Monday, July 13, 2015

    July 6-12

    After coming back from Hardrock, one can't help but feel optimistic about the sport and the raw power of the amazing runner's high found in the San Juans. The race involves some questionable risk taking in some big mountains (which accordingly attract some big storms), but the way the race supports runners and the way pacers/crews and runners work together make the dream a little more possible each year (despite some cold and wet storms, only 23% of the field dropped). There's some inherent vice to be expected: worn out lungs, crushed quads, sleep and oxygen deprived brains, and frozen/soaked bodies; but the scenery is so inviting, and the way the race organization and volunteers go the extra mile(s) to make the race happen is so inspiring that the optimism for the sport's potential to live up to lofty ideals seems realistic.

    At 7am, Katie and I drove over to Cunningham Gulch to be greeted by a surly parking enforcement volunteer (that also happened to be an amazing runner), Mr. Dakota Jones that was volunteering just for the race. He could've been hanging out and watching the race like everyone else, but instead he took it upon himself to do the worst job in ultrarunning to give something back to the race so that the BLM Officers couldn't find fault with the race. This was just one of many volunteers that came from all over the world to contribute to the race (see The African Attachment's "Kroger Canteen" episode July 14th).

    At any rate, I got to run and hike for 10 hours/25 miles with Matt Hart. Traveling and my soleus pain limited my training elsewhere in the week, but I felt great at altitude and enjoyed my time in Silverton. More stretching and strengthening to happen this week to get a little confidence before I go to Snowbird for Speedgoat 50k next week.

    Tuesday, July 7, 2015

    June 22 - July 25

    I have lots to write about, but not a lot of time, so I'll glaze over my stream on consciousness for the past two weeks:

    June 22-28
    Monday - Off, not feeling too bad, but definitely worthy of a rest after the high-quality 104 mile week

    Tuesday - 10 mi - Time Trial up Green Peak: 32:48 was just 20 seconds off my PR for the 3.6 mile/1600ft climb. It's funny to look at the numbers and think "oh that's all I can do? 8:55/mi??" But Temescal doesn't have much straight lines or consistent terrain, so over the years, I've grown to accept that anything under 35 minutes for guys is a decent level of fitness, and anything close to 30 is a good push. Overall, I was glad to see that the intervals and lower mileage allowed me to run hard and not feel too tired or worn out. #Progress

    Wednesday - So that yucca barb in my ankle (that the Dr. said wasn't in my ankle" was just begging to come out. I went for it, and when it came out, my ankle shifted again from homeostasis into chaos and started to throb quite a bit. I cleaned it up good, but the bump around it seemed to want another day to heal.

    Thursday - 3.5mi - Went up and down Westridge Canyon Back and felt the ankle yipping a bit, which made me nervous for pacing Jorge at Western States. Mentally I was ready to back down and pace him whatever the ankle allowed, but emotionally I was depressed I couldn't see myself taking my friend 40 miles to the finish.

    Friday - 6.5mi - After driving up halfway Thursday and religiously cleaning and covering the wound and keeping the ankle elevated, I started to see some progress. We drove back to Duncan Canyon and spent an idyllic and relaxing afternoon running and cooking dinner. Once the sun went down, we banked some sleep overlooking French Meadows Reservoir.

    Saturday - 40 mi - I could write a novel about the lessons Jorge Pacheco has taught me in running. Some runners are gifted and graced with a professional set up to allow them every opportunity for rest, recovery, coaching, etc. etc. Jorge and I find ourselves in another form of a blessed set-up: just enough time to train, full time jobs, wonderful partners, and race experiences that are rarely perfect or ideal. Mari got sick the week before, and Jorge got sick during race week with the flu. That meant that Jorge spent his last sleep before the race sweating profusely with a fever and unable to sleep. When the race started, he made it one mile before collapsing and watching the entire field go by (Gordy included). By the time he made it to Duncan Canyon, he'd figured out his limitations of his flu and jogged back into the mid-pack. 

    He battled his nausea and fever all day, shaking uncontrollably in aid stations and throwing up occasionally to find his way to Forresthill where I would take him 40 miles to a 22:43 finish. I saw him at all ends of the spectrum; running, throwing up, on the verge of knocking out, and finally a proud finisher that made the most of his imperfect day. Not many pundits pick him to win big races, but he doesn't change the way he goes into his training to be a champion no matter what the circumstances of life may dictate. 

    He did multiple long 60-100 mile training weekends, and did all the speedwork and long runs needed to run in the top 10, and when all his hard work was for naught on race day, he put his head down and kept going. We talked a lot and joked along the way, but one thing was certain in my mind after we finished "I am going to finish my races if there's any way possible at all".

    Sunday - Recovery drive back to LA

    58 miles, 13:30, 11,000ft+ - Not a bad recovery week, banked some sleep before Western, and got some major inspiration from the trip (as always).

    June 29-July 5
    Monday - Slept in and rested

    Tuesday - 7.5 mi - Back to a bit of VO2max work before the long weekend hit. 9x2min got the HR up on the steep and arduous J-Drop climb. Calf/Soleus were a little concerned, but nothing too bad. Interesting data from the HR monitor showing me how long it takes my heart to get up above 170, and how my body responds to speedwork now. Definitely a bit of turbo-lag..

    Wednesday - 8mi - Easy run in Sullivan Canyon, just what I needed to get ready for the long weekend.

    Thursday - 0!! - Missed out on running due to logistics. Also, didn't feel like going running in the evening and then waking up at 3am for the real run.

    Friday - 19 mi/10,000ft/6:30 - Sleep Deprivation is a real problem that I'll have to overcome for UTMB. Though I felt awful, the 3 AM run went okay, and I eventually got into a groove and started getting efficient with my poles. I was also glad that the overly-technical trails of Mt. Baldy didn't trip me up in my zombie like stupor. The goal for UTMB is to minimize stupid mistakes, so that's what the run appeared to tell me I could do. It honestly felt like something out of a good military hazing exercise, minus anyone else making me do it, or anyone else on the mountain.

    Saturday - 22mi/3,200ft/3:20 - AC course from Cloudburst to Shortcut is a great trail run. Compared to Friday, I was flying along and enjoying the running. I hadn't practiced any heat training yet, and Guillaume sure enough pulled away on Mt. Hilyer and Chilao. We ran in the middle of the day to simulate the real heat he'd feel, and he did very well (even without crew or ice bandannas). Eventually I got it done below CR time as well, but I was glad I wasn't expecting any heat at UTMB. Oh, and the soleus seemed to be a little annoyed again after Friday's large elevation gain.

    Sunday - 28mi/5,600/5:46 - The recovery process on Saturday wasn't ideal and the heat and calf pain stopped me from going for the full 40 mile push to Altadena. I think I do need more work on taking care of myself in training, but when it comes down to it, I'm already in shape and already adept in the mountains. The rest of the runs I'll do for UTMB will just be reinforcing the good habits, and avoiding any over-training mistakes/injuries. HR data was interesting, I felt pain but couldn't get my HR as high as the day before.. Might have been the bad sleep we got in the noisy campground at Chilao or the body just being tired from Friday's early run. 

    88mi/22,000ft/19:00 - A pretty long week in terms of time and suffering. I think my goal of running UTMB smart is pretty much a matter of getting to the start line sharp and fresh, so looking back on the spring, it makes sense why my body is starting to say no to more mileage and training. Likewise, my training schedule accounted for this and isn't too demanding leading up to the race. This weekend at Hardrock is completely a matter of getting out and hiking and enjoying the San Juans, no pressure or insecurity to workout or do anything serious.

    Monday, June 22, 2015

    June 15-21

    I suppose I should admit that I'm becoming a grumpy old man because the word that permeated my skull this week was "responsibility". I think there were a few punk rock songs back in the day that shunned the word and made it seem cool to live un-responsibly, but I was too young to grasp the futility of doing anything in life without some small amount of responsibility. It was a catch-22 of, "I'm going to buy this CD about how lame responsibility is by mowing lawns," and I would either not buy the CD because I wasn't responsible enough to follow through with the chore, or I would do it and buy the CD at which point I shouldn't be listening to the CD. The point being, you can't pick up on gimmicks of an easy life and have it all (unless you made your money off lotteries/trust funds/gambling addictions/reality tv/etc).

    I think what I've enjoyed in the past week, is the sense of accomplishment coming back around to training well after a slow buildup of mileage through the spring. I've thought long and hard about what type of runner I want to be and all the mistakes I've made along the way, and the overwhelming apparent truth is that I just have to be responsible and take care of myself. If I start to strain a muscle or I am packing for a run, I have to actually take the time to think about the action and consider what else I've learned in my 28 years that might keep me moving towards my goal, rather than hopefully chaotically spinning hopefully towards it.

    One big thing was been writing myself a schedule for a month at a time, and following it and thinking through workouts and rest periods on a monthly time frame. There's some adjustment here and there, but there's more re-enforcement that I'm continually engaging in practices that are responsible uses of my time. I might see some Strava CR or beautiful trail in bloom and think I should just go out tomorrow and run it hard, but I also have this sense of responsibility in creating a structure of training for my body to develop and perform at a higher level than just my day by day random training.

    For me and all that has transpired thus far in my life, I feel a bit stronger as a runner by stating a goal and doing the empirically proven things for myself rather than being irresponsibly cool. Although it's probably a sign I'm getting old, I'm not going to get a dad-bod.

    Monday: Tiny shakeout on the Scenic Mound

    Tuesday: 5x10 min, 2 that went well, and 3 that seemed to irritate my ankle a little bit. Went to the Doctor to inspect for a Yucca barb in my ankle, but it turned out it was just a deep wound, and the scab was irritating the top/front part of my ankle. The tendon healed quickly once I learned this.. So I did a recovery run at night with Katie.

    Wednesday: Easy 10 with Katie from Will Rodgers, keeping it low key all the way.

    Thursday: 7x6min was pretty tough because running with the coyote run made me want to chase down runners I was running circles around. I probably wore myself out good for the weekend, but this would be the time to start pushing my comfort zone in my training cycle.

    Friday: Last 25 of AC took awhile in the dark and overgrown trail with Katie. I also realized I hate having too much grip on rocky terrain when I'm sleepy, but lugs can always be chopped down. In general, it was good for Katie and I to have some healthy respect for the course we're be attempting to get Katie a sub-24 hour finish on. When I've ran fast 4:25-ish runs over the last 25, it's made me underestimate it too much.

    Saturday: Got to bed at 2:45AM, and woke up at 8:00AM slowly packing for the run to Islip. Once we got underway, it was 10AM and above 80 degrees at 8,000 feet. It was eye opening how much water we went through and how exhausting it was to run uphill. We hiked a lot, and it was a rough first 25 of AC.

    Sunday: Slept in and had brunch before we got going around noon (again, another hot day). We got stopped talking to a neighbor for a good 30 minutes (super cool old firefighter who has lived in Wrightwood for 39 years). We eventually got onto the mind-blowing 6x10min intervals up the Blue Ridge Trail/PCT, which was tough in the heat, but much more productive than the alternative of just jogging around easy for an hour. I was proud of Katie and I for finishing off the training block properly.

    104 Miles, 20;45, 22,000ft

    Hard earned miles in a busy week. The reality of this training style being sustainable and progressive is coming through. Next week is a step back week, but I will be doing quite a few miles Saturday night with the one and only Chivo Loco (Jorge Pacheco) at Western.

    Monday, June 15, 2015

    June 8 - 14

    Injuries are a tough pill to swallow, especially since a lot of them are ultimately self-induced (albeit by accident). It's a complex emotion to know your poor judgement was the cause of your ailment, but sometimes acknowledging that your nature is wild and free is a small (minuscule) silver lining.

    Friday night Katie and I went for a shakeout run up Strawberry Peak, which in itself is very scenic and idyllic. The trail from Red Box gradually winds around through two saddles before a single track follows the ridgeline to the peak. Once at the peak, we were treated to beautiful views of the heart of the San Gabriels. Perhaps it was the new proto's on my feet that felt awesome or maybe the freeing feeling of running on a Friday afternoon, but I elected that we inspect the western ridge of the peak, which lead to the north-western chute that was hazardous in almost every sense of the word. After four hours of crumbly rock climbing, getting lost, traversing poison oak, yuccas, and terricula, we emerged hobbling to our car in pitch black darkness.

    We're generally responsible adults that pay our taxes, have health insurance, and work hard at our jobs, but on that night I was motivated by know-it-all-ism and proceeded to tear apart our bodies leaving us mostly worthless by Saturday morning. I was so mad with myself that I went crazy for a couple minutes in the middle of a patch of poison oak and added urushiol to the yucca barbs in my leg. We were lucky to salvage a workout on Sunday, but my ankle was not too happy on the downhill, so I'm headed to the Dr. tomorrow to see what can be done about the barbs.

    Easy 2 miles, just shaking it out

    4x10min - I tried to run the Sullivan Ridge singletrack and found it exceptionally tough to run well. I know this is part of my development for UTMB, but running up a 30% grade on and off puts the hurt on me. It only lasted two intervals before I ran out of that wild terrain and started cranking it on the fire road. It was nice to finish up on Westridge where it was surprisingly easy to cruise downhill at 5min pace.

    Off, bad scheduling and extra sleep made me run out of time to run.

    5x8 min on Los Leones - The legs didn't seem to appreciate the extra day off, as I found it hard to crank out too much speed on the groomed fireroad. Using the Wahoo HR monitor during the workout was interesting, I never expected it to be so hard to keep HR up above 155, but it seemed to want to dip below that if I didn't focus and hold my intensity and form. I think I've probably done too many years of Long Slow Distance.

    Said adventure/bad decision run on Strawberry Peak

    Licking wounds and yard work.

    5 1/3 x 10min - Uphill seemed okay on the warm-up, and downhill seemed not too painful to keep me off the mountain. Again, the lack of a significant recovery run made my body feel flat. My lungs worked overtime to keep a running stride on the intervals, which felt satisfying (even if the pace was slow).

    54mi, 11 hours, 12,900ft +
    I'm not especially happy with the week, but it's just the way it goes sometimes. I'm not a professional athlete, or even a professional person, but I take what I can get to in the training I can get. I'm glad I did all my workouts, but I'm hoping this minor setback lets me run hard in July.

    Monday, June 8, 2015

    June 1-7

    Perhaps this is a boring idea to most, but it's exciting to me: my steady mileage increase feels really good. I've been patiently hanging out below 100 miles a week, and I've been rewarded with the feeling of responsiveness in my legs when I pick up the pace, and I have no nagging injuries headed into July. I'm on a date with maturity and it looks disgustingly cute when we're holding hands and I'm wearing a cardigan sweater, but I don't care when the other guys make fun of me because I get awesome rushes when I do workouts. Even more, I can see other guys in bad relationships with training that leaves them used and abused, and I don't get jealous.

    I think a requirement for all ultrarunners to come of age in the digital age is to be able to look at another runner's Strava or social media post, and not feel the need to try to challenge or complain about their setup making it easier to out-train the field. The only way that posts about 5 hour runs or blazing CRs can be detrimental is if you don't believe in your training, and you feel like you're a step behind or you're not good enough. It's all self-detrimental bullshit to want to train more like another high mileage runner, because race results of lower mileage runners like Hal Koerner or Dave Mackey speak volumes of their maturity to wear cardigans and turn down offers for all nighters with loose legs. The only problem is that Hal and Dave aren't on Strava, they're just on ultrasignup with dozen's of podiums and wins.

    Monday: Rest

    Tuesday: 4x10 min on the slight uphill in Sullivan Canyon. Guillaume and Ryan made it a bit more interesting as I ran well the first two in the bottom of the canyon, but suffered a bit on the second two intervals climbing out of the canyon. They were courteous enough to not destroy me after my painful weekend on Baldy, but I still felt like I didn't slow down too much as we leaned into the climb.
    PM: Easy 3 miles to shake off the lactic acid.

    Wednesday: Easy 9 miles with Katie, in which I defended our weekend plans to forgo sleep between driving back and forth between the San Gabriel and San Diego mountains. I advocated that it was better to be tired once or twice a week to keep the body aware of an impending sleepless night in August, and Katie did not.

    Thursday: 6x6 min super early in the morning on Sullivan Ridge. Intervals are fun and all, but doing them with the sun coming up makes it extra invigorating. I called an audible and did a steep and short singletrack climb in the middle of the 5th interval that felt amazing. The run off the backside of it exposed a bit of quad pain from Tuesday, but it felt appropriately hard for training less miles and more quality.

    Friday: Went up Mt. Wilson (13mi) at sunset with my z-poles. The whole idea of poles is tough because it's an admittance of shifting gears and mindset from racing to touring. I suppose the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc is an obvious ideal application for poles, so I'll have to get used to them, but it's awkward because nothing in LA is steep and smooth like UTMB (maybe some parts of Acorn). I didn't have much room or soft terrain to plant the sticks on up the Mt. Wilson trail, but I did get to see a beautiful sunset.

    Saturday: Dropped Katie off at Chantry and drove to Loma Alta to do Steep and Cheap with the poles and into Idlehour to run the last 11+ with her for 19miles. Poles felt less awkward today, clouds at 3,500ft were beautiful as ever.

    Sunday: Did 5x10 from near the top of Acorn over to Inspiration. It felt awesome after using the poles and pack for the past few days to hit some good splits in the most idyllic single track in the San Gabes for fast running. Definitely a good check in the box as far as form, cardio, and health are concerned. I haven't ran those miles that fast with that little pain in a long time. 13 miles.

    Weekly Total: 84mi, 16 hours, 18,200ft. 

    -A good week of running that felt indulgent without feeling abusive.

    Monday, June 1, 2015

    May 25-31

    One of the most important things I've learned from ultrarunning is sustainability. The sport is far from a sport of tough guys slamming their muscles against the dirt (at least for me). Though there are a lot of people out there that come into the sport for 1-5 years and grind out finishes until they get nothing more out of the sport, there also are calculated, smart, talented, and sustainable runners that avoid unnecessary knuckle dragging. I've definitely made a change in the past couple years from the former to the later.

    A perfect example was last weekend when I ran a PR through Cooper Canyon at conversational pace on tired legs. I ran well fueled, paid attention to my breathing, relaxed to a hike when necessary, and felt much less pain than I did on my previous PR. I could have started the segment with an aggressive push down highway 2, short of breathing all the way to the creek, and then struggled up the first climb, unable to pick my feet on the flat sections, finishing with a crawl to the top at Cloudburst. However natural that might have felt, it would've been unsustainable for the day, and I would've spent the next 18 miles cramping, tired, and heavy. Either way, I would finish, but each scenario would've been drastically different for a long term outlook.

    What matters in the sport, is the sustainable pace on race day and in everyday training. I started doing 10 minute intervals this week and found them to be a great vehicle for teaching pacing (besides the obvious getting your body in great shape). Running fast for 10 minutes is hard: it's a long time, it's hard to gauge how much longer you can push hard, and it's a faster pace than a simple 30-45 minute time trial.  Even harder, running 3-6 times 10 minutes requires the duality of focusing on the task at hand during the interval and learning where your edge is as far as ruining the workout and finishing it poorly. A time trial is easy and singular in focus: go hard until you reach the top and deal with consequences tomorrow, but long intervals require sustainability to avoid the embarrassment of slowing down a ton on the last reps.

    100 mile races aren't just won by the most gifted individuals, and now not even 50 mile races are won by youth alone. The sport demands sustainability in moments like the last 10% of a race when the calculated runner reels in leaders in dramatic fashion. It's not something that always happens in a contrasting fashion, but it is something that appears in heart rate data and segment data when a runner appears "to endure" but is really just pacing themselves better and sustaining a consistent pace with less pain. In the long run, the runners that practice this sustainability best, win more races, enjoy more miles, and become the best at riding their edge with less risk of blowup.

    So, with that I'm glad to say that I feel like my training is sustainable right now. I don't feel the need for a rest week of minimal miles, I don't fear the race schedule, and I don't worry about how my fitness is progressing. This is uncharted territory for June.

    Monday: 3 miles over the course of a photo shoot on Mt. Williamson

    Tuesday: Easy 3 miles on Edison Road

    Tuesday PM: Busy day left just a little time in the evening to do the first workout of the tempo phase. Ran 3x1mi just to get the rust off the legs from the weekend and feel out my edge.

    Wednesday: Converstional pace up Temescal with PMR, enjoyable morning

    Thursday PM: slept in an went for an evening tempo workout. 3x10 min up Sullivan ridge was successful, not too easy but no epic blow outs.

    Friday PM: Ran up Mt. Wilson Toll road at sunset and met Katie at Eaton Saddle. No headlamp, no rush, just enjoyed the idyllic night over the city. Dreamed about hitting Sam Merrill at sunset... Someday.

    Saturday: Went out with the intent of hiking strong on my long run, but forgot my poles. Everything went fine out to Baldy, but rolled the ankle on Devil's backbone twice. I pushed the 110v3 proto I've been running in to it's very limit (this is why proto's are done before releasing a shoe), and wore out the grip and fit. The next one due in soon should make rolled ankles less likely, but for the time being I had to stumble and hobble down to the Notch and nine and a half miles back over the technical backbone trails, bruising it a few more times in the process. 19.5 miles and 9,000 ft of gain in 5 hours wasn't so fun due to the heat and ankle, but in the end I was happy to be able to look at it as perfect UTMB training (although Baldy backbone trails are probably more technical).

    Sunday: Slept in a bit and got out for another 3x10 min workout on the Blue Ridge trail. The Pine Pollen was visibly flying off the trees in big gusts and made the altitude and incline as challenging as it could be. I threw in another 2 minute rep at the end to see if I had some firepower in the legs, but alas the previous day's effort was legit.

    Week Recap: 71 miles, 13:45, 20,700 ft.

    It felt good to do some longer intervals and get back in the saddle for week 1 of tempo. I am optimistic.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2015

    May 18-25

    Though the 3 day weekend was a good time as ever to up the mileage for the summer training block, I opted to go long on only 2 of the 3 days to take the 3rd day as a rest day (photo shoot) and make sure I was ready for the next block on interval training I had scheduled myself. It seems like my intuition is to delay volume later and later each year so that I don't injure or burn out before my goal race. That said, the two long days on the AC course were good check-ups to see what is working and what needs work.

    Tour of California, Stage 7 at Mt. Baldy

    Hanging out at the cabin, I had a chance to catch up on the Tour of California replays, and developed some notes on cycling races in the mountains. It's really about figuring out the right time to push based on your abilities and the weaknesses of the field, interpreting breakaways as temporary or permanent, and the belief in one's abilities at a particular moment. 

    The breakaway rider has to remember that if they put time on a chase pack, most of the time the differential will start to shrink (unless it's a short sprint at the end of the race). Failure will be imminent if the breakaway rider doesn't make a decisive break and stay out of sight of the chasers for as long as possible. Once caught, the chase pack has the confidence to pass and put you away said rider. Essentially, breakaways that get caught rarely pull away again and win races.

    Similarly if the shoe is on the other foot and a rider observes a breakaway in process, then it is in their best interest to make it as hard as possible on them to loose visuals. The longer the breakaway rider has to redline, the more likely it is to make their pace setting a mistake. In 2013, this was essentially what I did against Ruperto. By the time we had redlined for 2 miles into Chantry, he was spent and couldn't hold on for the next duel down the toll road.

    The bottom line is confidence matched with the the ability to decipher between discomfort and destructive pain is the key to maximize your chances of winning a duel. If you know the true total time you can spend redlining, have an acute awareness of your counterparts, and maintain the confidence that you can hang tough, then you can pick the best time and place to mount a breakaway or counter one. It won't be a surprise this year on Cal Street when a bearded man starts dropping 16 miles in the 5-7 minute range because it is his ideal terrain and the hardest time for a competitor to challenge him. 

    Easy and short recovery run with Katie to the north of Shortcut Saddle. 
    2.3 mi, 600ft, :30

    Temescal conversational with Elan. I unfortunately slid into a rock shin first on Sunday's run over Pine Mountain and I felt it on the downhill starting to flare up. Luckily it wasn't bad enough to keep me from running uphill, but it was irritated on the long-ish downhill. 
    10mi, 2000ft, 1:31

    Off to save the shin from any prolonged aggravation. 

    I opted for an easy road run in my Fresh Foam Zante and found the shin to be agreeable enough to be mobile but not enough to be silent.
    7.2mi, 200ft, :53

    Off, decided to give the shin one more day.

    Cloud Layer hanging at 7,000 feet on Saturday
    There must have been a dozen or more people running the first 30 miles of the AC course. I opted to sleep in a bit and get underway with Peter, Michael, Katie, and Dave with the intent of running section by section at a sustainable pace. Normally I'd like to really test the legs and see what they can handle, but I want to eventually run the race at a sustainable pace all the way to Altadena. I started off with a 1:40 due to a slow crawl up Acorn. I waited a bit and then ran the next segment to Vincent in a casually reassuring 38. Then I waited at Vincent for the rest of the crew for awhile and then finally decided to head up Baden-Powell at an easy pace. Perhaps it was too long of a break in the cold, or maybe I was a little dejected by the initial 1:40, but I ended up hiking the majority of the climb up BP. We stopped at the top and sent a key down to Katie with another runner before continuing on. I didn't feel good on the Dawson climb, and jogged in to Islip with a stop at Little Jimmy, so the time was nothing remotely close to race pace. The bop over to Eagle's Roost was casual as well. I basically found out that I need to keep working on my climbing at altitude to get where I want to be again, but at least I felt like I could run for many more miles all day.
    31 miles, 8,400ft, 6:00

    Dave and Peter heading off of Baden Powell

    Dave and I shuttled cars while Katie started an hour early on the 30 miles between Eagle's Roost and Shortcut. We did a similar casual run, but at a bit more efficient pace then the day before. Usually I would talk and direct turns for the first part of the section, and run a bit faster on the last mile or two. My moving times of 1:27, :42, :58, :37, and :66 were easier than expected, and ideally what I would want to run and feel like in a race: controlled, conversation pace, and ready to suddenly move quickly whenever necessary.
    30 miles, 4,900ft, 4:56 

    Total: 80.9mi, 16,300ft, 13:55

    Overall, a restful and productive week while maintaining a basic level of volume. The legs felt OK on Monday, and I capitalized on the rest to feel light and free this morning (Tuesday). This upcoming week is going to be long intervals that should knock me out cold initially, but hopefully lead to better times in late June and July on AC training runs. UTMB is still the goal, but I will continue to use occasionally use AC point to point runs a check up runs to measure my fitness, since it's been the ruler for the past few years.

    Monday, May 18, 2015

    May 11-17

    Monday: Off, drove back late from Yosemite.

    Tuesday: I ran conversational pace heading up Temescal with Elan and Pedro in an attempt to scope out the fitness and body after 3 weeks of intervals. I've had a bone to pick with Green Peak because I ran my time 32:28 route last June, and have felt inadequate every time I've run it since then and can't even break 35 minutes. It got really bad in January when I thought I was getting in shape for Sean O'Brien and I couldn't even break 36. Eventually later in February I got just under 35, but it was definitely a sign that things weren't working. I finally started doing intervals for this last cycle and was pleased that such a lax effort with Elan and Pedro resulted in a 38 minute segment. Not too pleased with rolling my ankle and irritating my peroneus at the start though..
    10 mi, 2100ft, 1:24

    Wednesday: I slept in and resolved to run Temescal at a tempo pace to see what might happen. The result: 33:32! Still a minute behind my PR, but finally out of my 35 funk. The strange thing was that compared to my PR, I lost time for the first 2 miles, and then held strong for the last 1.6 miles, not loosing any more time. I think this past VO2max period gave me a big boost as far as handling sustained stress, and the immediate hope for pure speed will take another cycle for more development through my tempo phase.
    9mi, 2000ft, 1:17

    Thursday: Easy run up and down Westridge.
    7mi, 1100ft, :58

    Friday: Ideally, I wanted to do a longer tempo run on Wilson, but I ran out of time and energy, so I kept it to 90 minutes. I was on the fence about doing a step-back week, but I decided to play it by ear. It was apparent on Friday afternoon that I didn't need any more tempo runs this week as I puffed up to Orchard Camp in 39 minutes. My peroneus started to act up again and the downhill wasn't so pretty. It might be the high collar on the second V3 proto, but that should get fixed in a week.
    10 mi, 3,000ft, 1:26

    Friday PM: Coaching Katie during her intervals (she hated them, so I know I did my job).
    5.5 mi, 900ft, 1:02

    PCT east of Three Points
    Saturday: I regret to admit it, but I engaged in a bit of self-destructive behavior. Katie and I got up late and slowly made our way to Three Points to run 20 miles of the easier terrain on the AC course. We started just after lunch, and I was dizzy and lightheaded running back towards Cloudburst. I knew it was supposed to be an easy run, but I wanted to avoid drinking the 2 liters of water I was carrying and eating the 1000 calories I had to train my body to run on nothing. Needless to say, it was self-destructive and made the run much less beneficial than it should have been. I eventually started eating and getting my rhythm back, but I was surprised that I had gone into this self-destructive mindset when I had already accomplished so much in the past few weeks. I thought about it, and it felt like it was the most old-school, confusing, unnecessary concept; something from the 1992 movie "The Mighty Ducks" where Emilio Estevez can't get past his self-destructive habits and just use his damn talents to help kids win some hockey games. I have so many challenges and tasks to do on a daily basis, I literally had to ask myself "what the hell is this Self Destructive Bullshit?!". It's a larger concept that ultrarunners fall prey to, as we are out there to do a bit of damage to our bodies, but it's not the sole purpose. It might indicate that we've worked hard, but it's not a sign of progress or ability. I could drive down the freeway in 2nd gear redlining my engine, but it'd be retarded and a huge waste of time and money (and transmission). It's definitely something that will let me progress much more as a runner if I can get past it.
    20 mi, 4,100ft, 3:57

    Cooper Canyon

    Sunday: I got up and stretched a good amount until the body felt back to normal, and I headed up Acorn to attempt a loop over Pine Mountain, and up Cabin Flat. It was a beautiful day in the clouds, but it made it hard to find my way down the ridge without line of sight navigation to my target saddle that I had ran to in January. Eventually I found my way through the briers and made it out alive (very alive). Chalk it up to specific training for UTMB.
    14mi, 5,300ft, 4:04

    The West Ride of Pine Mountain (at least part of it)

    76 miles, 14:09, 18:700 ft in a week isn't huge, but it's good to have consistency. I do need to keep an eye on my peroneus and hip over the long weekend to keep a positive progression going. I'm not afraid to heal myself before I go after the next big training goals.

    Monday, May 11, 2015

    May 4-10

    Two weeks in a row! Wow, this blogging thing is actually happening. I think it’s going to take some time to improve my transmission of thoughts to printed word in this non-professional format, but I’m sure it’ll eventually come to fruition week by week (hopefully along with my running).

    This year my only race on the calendar as of today is UTMB. I’m not going to lie and say that was my plan all along: not to do Angeles Crest or Western and to just focus on UTMB, but the powers that be pushed me in this direction and I've come a long ways from “FOMO-itis” to being grateful for the time and space to develop my running structure and slowly transform my body to the level I want it to be. Without the rush of an impatiently fervent racing schedule, I can do proper periodization, schedule in rest weeks, take advantage of trips to run where my heart leads me, and study my week to week performance without rushing into the “I need to be running X miles this week!” self-destructive training behavior.

    I do take UTMB training seriously and have the ambition to perform well, but the race doesn't illicit the same insecure response for suddenly running more mileage to remove the possibility of being under-trained for AC or WS. I look at UTMB as a low altitude Hardrock, which is a race that I learned a lot from in 2012. My line graph for training in 2012 went something like:
    -December 2011: Getting in through the lottery and going nuts on the drive from SF to LA: Stoke level 100!
    -January 2012: Getting super amped to train and hitting 90mi/30,000 ft of vertical (mostly running) weeks in January, stoke level: 90
    -February 2012: Ripping my calf on an easy 8 mile run due to over-training, stoke level: 10
    -March/April/May/June: Slowly getting back to training and gradually increasing stoke and strength, stoke: 30-80
    -July: Suffering from the altitude, but having zero muscle/joint problems and finishing as 2nd sea level athlete (without an altitude tent). Stoke level: 100

    Essentially, I understand what a 100 mile/33,000ft+ race entails, and I understand the proper tempering of stoke to keep the body efficient and not anxious in the mountains. I also understand that 20-34 hours for a hundred miles entails hiking and running strong without blowing up or abusing the body too sharply. Dramatic running is best saved for later in the race, and the “magic” of a good performance is having an efficient hiking cadence. This whole structured 100 mile concept is something that can leverage my outlook on a lot of other goals if I do it right in Chamonix.

    May 4-May 10:
    Monday: Waking up at 4:45 AM isn’t easy, but it’s even tougher when you spend the night tossing and turning with a fever, headache and cough. I haven’t been sick in quite some time, but running to Baldy with not enough water or sleep on Saturday definitely irritated my throat and exposed my body. At any rate, Monday morning sunrises in the high country are epic and make me so grateful to be able to squeeze 4 days of running a week out in the San Gabriels. I am a resident of the mountains and a visitor of the city. 4.5 mi/1,000ft/:60

    Tuesday: Maybe I was sick, maybe I was tired, maybe I hate flat terrain, or maybe I just struggle to run in the evening, but the 10x90sec reps around the golf course were pretty pitiful. The body felt heavy and unresponsive, so my lungs at least got a workout and I felt better once I got home to have exorcised a few slow and fat demons. 8mi/230ft/:63

    Wednesday: Wow, I’m tired. I’ve been lacking in the quality running department for a while, and the increased VO2Max work really challenges my energy levels. I eventually got out of bed and headed down the San Vicente median for 10k. Listening to the Toro y Moi album “What For” for the 100th time has really been thoroughly enjoyable. Most good musicians are some form of brilliant, but there’s something about the way Chaz arranges his layers to create songs that last for a long time, and don’t get stale. The song exploder breakdown of “Half Dome” is a great example. I noticed all those layers after listening to the track 100 times and get a little bit of boogie in my day each time I hear each riff. The feeling is something of efficient energy that I connect with in my UTMB aspirations.

    Wednesday PM: Went out to run Sullivan Ridge with Katie, and got a little active recovery. Katie always stubbornly sets the pace on easy runs at easy (go figure), so it's good to run together and completely forget about the watch. 5.4mi/1000ft/:58

    Woke up and got focused on the workout: uphill 3x2min, 3x1.5mi, 3x1min, without too much of a hitch in my step. It wasn't pretty, but as the sun rose, I got more into the workout and as I focused on my breathing and stride, which appears to have come some ways in the past 18 days. It was fun doing them near Katie as we reviewed our efforts on the recovery, and it helped me see where my stride was lacking. Definitely not anywhere near my peak, but definitely out of the valley of injury. (Oh, and I also got a tick)

    Friday: Nothing, traveling to Yosemite.

    Saturday: Our Pacific Mountain Running brothers Peter Brennen and Andy Pearson were in Yosemite to attempt to run 100 miles through the parks best trails, so we decided to head up and join them for a few miles and heckle where it seemed fitting. The Thursday storm packed the punch of a decent February storm, and put down a posthole decree above 8,000 feet. Lucky for Katie and I, we only were doing the first 20 miles with them, and enjoyed the idyllic 2-5 inches of snow and warm bluebird day. Yosemite is a place that crams in so much emotion and detail in each mile, that your soul and mind can feel filled to the brim in just a few miles. Thus, the pace isn't usually the chief concern, but goofy CCC trail building still keeps effort high enough to leave you beat by sundown.

    Sunday: We slept in and packed the Volvo to the gills with Peter and Crista's glamping gear, and headed back to the valley. Katie was ready to go but I still had a few things to get jammed in my pack when at the last second, I heard the sarcastic voices of Peter and Andy. We had expected to see them around 3 PM, but they bailed on the full route and skipped the Buena Vista loop to keep it a humane 28 hour/72 miles jaunt. Postholing at 2AM for 3 hours isn't something I'm envious of. Katie and I hit Half Dome up to renew out love for each other and climbing big rocks, which just so happened to start almost 6 years ago in that very place. 

    Week total: 76.7 miles, 16,300 ft, 17:35

    Not a lot of miles, but some long days over the weekend left a smile on my face as I transition into tempo work (aka the fun stuff)

    Monday, May 4, 2015

    April 27-May 3

    I’m going to try to be more thoughtful about my running by keeping a regular weekly journal. I don’t think my current state of recording runs by “witty” Strava titles is good enough at helping me locate trends and daily thoughts that come into my mind. With the advent of social media, I (and many other runners) have learned a lot more about running in the mountains, so this blog is public in an attempt to share some ideas and open myself to criticism for the larger goal of moving faster and more efficiently in the mountains. So without further adieu…

    April 27-May 3rd

    Monday: Woke up early to get in a run before heading back to LA, did a short run up Mt. Williamson from Islip in some windy conditions. The sunrise from the trail packed in a lot of inspiration in 3.4 miles. 3.4 mi/1250ft/:40

    Tuesday: It’s the 2nd week of VO2Max workouts, which is also the 2nd week of structured running post knee injury, which means it’s not pretty. I’m seeing progress with my knee by incorporating Active Isolated Stretching (AIS), but it’s tough to get a good stretch in my hamstrings without cheating. My legs have become so tight over years of trail running, that I’m constrained to a very small leg swing and can’t run fast without a fight. I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s what’s working at taking pressure off my knee, which felt like it would’ve taken months to recover at the outset of pain during Gorge 100k. The 9x90 sec intervals with Katie weren’t too easy, and Katie was startlingly close to me. The 400/800m high school track star is not dead in her. 9 mi/1500ft/1:17

    Wednesday: Was going to do an easy road run, but saw Guillaume at Bundy and San Vicente and decided to link up. I tried to keep up with him last Thursday heading up Westridge Drive, but he was charging and I was 4 days back into my training. Today we ran a good pace together and talked a lot about the usual Western/UTMB/AC race hypothesis. Knowing Guillaume, he might over-train for AC, but he’s going to be tough to keep up with early on in the race, which I’ve done successfully before. He’s very thorough in his planning, but ultrarunning is an ever-evolving science that keeps disproving ideals of all varieties. Regardless, I hope the Frenchman pulls off a Ram in August, and finds some personal truths and satisfaction. 10mi/1400ft/1:19

    Thursday: I had planned this 5-4-3-2-1 minute interval workout in my schedule to be a fun, gradual VO2Max workout, but I woke up tired and late, and rushed the warm up through Sullivan Canyon. The first 5 min rep was barely faster than my warmup, the 4 min rep made me go to the bathroom, and the 3/2/1 reps were on the steeper exit of the canyon and made my legs complete mush. At the very least I got some ugly anaerobic running in, which felt terrible but was what my lungs needed. The cooldown with Andy and Peter was refreshing, until Andy opted for the singltrack on Sullivan Ridge. The idiot has a bruised knee and still opts for the gnar.. 9mi/1500ft/1:11

    Friday: A big project at work was getting exciting, and I wasn’t getting any extra sleep, so when I put my shoes on at the Mt. Wilson trailhead, I didn’t have to remind myself to run easy. I slogged to Orchard Camp and sat down ready to fall asleep. Though the views up top would have been beautiful, I couldn’t dig another training hole this early in the schedule, so I turned around. 7mi/2400ft/1:17

    Friday Night: Katie wanted to run, so on our way to Wrightwood, we stopped at Kratka Ridge (Aka Scenic Mount) and headed up the west face of Williamson. Katie was tired too, so we leisurely marched to the summit and took in the view before heading back. 3mi/1100/:47

    Saturday: Though I only got a few hours of sleep, a good cup of Tom’s Coffee and a cinnamon roll had me on the trail at 8:30 to link up with Jorge at the top of Acorn. I’d wanted to get more climbing into my week for UTMB aspirations, and the North Backbone trail was in perfect condition. I however was not, and had some rough climbs to endure. We reached the summit of Baldy and talked with people in the bar-like scene of 50+ hikers and runners taking in the views. We glissaded back down towards Dawson and met Katie. One good .9mi/1300 ft climb deserves another and we turned around to head back up and join the summit party. I started to get dehydrated and my sore throat turned into a headache/fever/cough by Sunday morning, but for the day, it was a rewarding 15mi/7900ft/5:00 adventure.

    Sunday: Though I was not convinced at all that I should get out of bed and do an interval workout, the sun in Wrightwood was strong and persuasive. I struggled up Acorn, and then did 10x2min on the way to Inspiration Point with Katie. It got more fun as the trail dove and picked up speed, and though Strava wasn’t convinced, I did in fact have a good workout. A 39 minute jog from Inspiration to Vincent Gap was a nice end to the weekend, showing decent mobility after Saturday’s adventure.

    Total: 70 miles/20,181 ft./13:47 

    I’ve been following all different type of ultra runners, and I think we’re definitely in a completely different era of competition and raw performance. I don’t think there’s much fear in Rob Krar’s mind of “going out too fast” or “burning his quads” or anything similar to the former years’ ideas.  His performance at the Canyons 100k this weekend shows this supreme confidence in his strength, durability, flexibility, diet, etc. etc. The sum of raw power he puts out is hugely inspiring. It’s a display of what humans are capable with a strong mind and capable body.. And I can see him running sub 2 hours down Cal Street in June, which is 25-30 minutes faster than what it took to win two years ago. #sick