Monday, November 7, 2011


I find every fall (since I can remember) to always be a busy time. Whether it was trying to run my 7 year old heart out on the soccer field, or getting all my studying done before holiday festivities, I always felt like there never was enough time as more and more festivities approached with daylight conversely shrinking. That feeling of anxiety intertwined with anticipation is both enjoyed and loathed every year.

Three weekends ago I went to Las Vegas with KD to meet her college friends, and a visit to Mt. Charleston. The past 2 weekends have been Mt. Baldy and Wilson taking in the first snow of the year in our local mountains. Though the mileage has been a bit inconsistent, it's actually been a consistent effort as I've taken those shorter days and made them into speed workouts hitting some much faster splits than I normally would if I were just focused on mileage. So, when the good days came on big mountains, I made the most of them (which usually involved steep terrain).

-Steep at Mt. Charlston

This past weekend, I had nothing to do but run as much as I want. Earlier in the week I had set about a goal of 100 miles and/or 25,000ft of climbing for the week to make the most of being 3 weeks out from the North Face 50 miler. I still did a little speed work, but I mostly was picking out steep trails and long ascents and trying to run them as well as I could. Saturday morning was an adulated climb up Bear Canyon's 6,000ft/6.5 mile incline, while the afternoon was a much more civil Mount Wilson Toll Road climb up 7mi/2800ft. Sunday morning was Idlehour Canyon's 15mi/4500ft tour with Chris, Andy, and Sean, followed by a solo jog up Upper Winter Creek 2.5 miles/2300ft in the evening to close a 90 mi/26,000ft week out Sunday.

At any rate, as I was stubbornly jogging my last miles up the 15-20% grade on Upper Winter Creek, I pondered about some of my numbers over the year and other runners' trends. 26,000ft in 90 miles means that if I spent 45 miles climbing, I averaged 577ft per climbing mile (about an 11-12% grade).

Earlier in the year I had ran 100 miles weeks with 15-18,000ft of vert (about 300-360ft per vertical mile, 6-7%). These numbers were similar to Nick Clarke's except for the fact that he does some quicker speed work for a good few flat miles. Then there's Tony who (running) will hit over 150 miles per week quite often but climbs 25-30,000ft+ managing an average of 350-375ft per vertical mile. Both are accomplished runners, and both have a similar climbing/mile average, but as I tip-toed up Winter Creek, my mind wondered back on my history of training.

Three thoughts came to me:

1) Breaking up my mileage this weekend gave me a lot more quality than I expected. I left the Chantry Flats parking lot expecting to have to hike a good amount of the climb up WC, but I ended up running every step.

2) Compared to Bear Canyon, Winter Creek felt significantly easier than ever before. I was stepping though my 18,000th foot on the weekend, my 26,000th foot on the week, and it seemed to just come to me more naturally than ever before.

3) Is my x-factor in my training more vertical per mile?

Good decisions aren't always obvious. I don't know exactly what this week really proved to me, but I think I picked up some hints on fueling runs better, integrating sustained 20% grades more in my training, and more climbing in general. I don't know if all these things are key or minor points in my training, but I felt a strength in my legs Sunday evening that made me feel better than before about heavy training. The difference was even in the reaction other hikers had to me running by: "Go! Go! Go!" "Ahhh, very good!" "Aren't you cold?" were all passing comments I received Sunday. I mention these because they're so rare in LA, that when you hear it, your heart can't help but swell.

Baldy Bowl

Devil's Backbone

Top of Baldy looking at Badden Powell

Panda is the bush

Ascending Bear Canyon

Week after LP50k (Oct 24-30) 61mi, 9,200 ft
2 weeks ago (Oct 31-Nov 6): 75 mi, 20,850ft
Last week (Nov 7-13): 90mi, 26,000ft

Toro Y Moi - Sweet

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