Monday, January 30, 2012

30,000 feet

-My office for Saturday afternoon: Sturtevant trail, Mt. Wilson

Sunday morning, I trotted out of Mt. Baldy Village confused on how I had ran 71 miles and climbed 20,000 feet in the last six days. I double checked, triple checked my numbers. Yesterday was 28mi with 9,500ft of climbing, and during the week it was 43 miles and 10,500ft. This was only the 4th week of the new year, but I was already well on track to one of the most vertical feet climbed in a week in my life. My previous best had been 26,000 feet in 90 miles last fall, but things felt better than normal today. As I got warmed up hiking briskly past the cabins built into the canyon walls, I noticed an absence of aches and pains in my joints.

Usually chasing my altimeter resulted in too much vertical stress on my patella tendon and achilles tendon, but somehow I was now jogging along to Bear Flat having averaged 576ft per climbing mile (52mi) over the past week, and my body was almost magically in tact. The air was crisp and fresh, and though my quads were sore, I was still ambitious. The plan for the day was to summit Baldy twice, once out of Bear Canyon (6.3mi/5700ft), and once out of Manker (4.3/4000ft) and throw in an extra side climb somewhere to get 10,000ft. To date my best Baldy training session had been 18 miles with 8,000ft of climbing. How exactly does one go into such fool hardy endeavors?

I suppose there could be an articulate, well thought out, expertly written answer to this question, but I was too tired to gather coherent thoughts between gasps for breath, so the last youtube video I had seen floated around in my head. "Attack Fast, Attack Strong" is Kobe Bryant's launch of his new basketball shoe system with removable ankle braces. Ridiculous yet logical was my run and his video.

So without much thought, I attacked fast and strong, and flew past a dozen hikers to a summit Bear Canyon PR of 2:07. This was a good 8 minutes faster than my last best, and can only be explained by a decision to stubbornly attack regardless of the circumstances. Upon reaching the top and realizing my accomplishment, I began to wonder if that was a good enough accomplishment for the day. However, on the Kobe System, when you reach the top, "you go over the top".

I flew down into the Notch, a quick refuel (I don't run with a pack, but I do live off the land, including naturally found french fries and Coke at the Mt. Baldy Notch), and continued down to the ski lift parking lot. A good 500ft gain on a connector road seemed like it would take care of making it a full 10,000ft day, but the first step up the road felt like I was 20 years older than I was that morning. Slowly but surely I worked back up the slope and onto Baldy Road.

-Up or down?

Twenty-six Thousand, Two-Hundred feet of climbing was already a personal best. I looked to the left which featured a quick descent down to the Village on the road for an early dinner at the Mt. Baldy Lodge, then I then looked up at the summit taunting me. It was almost 3pm and packs of backpackers were trickling down the trail heading for the respite of their cars. I was about to head up the same climb that they had hiked up early that morning. They gave me quizical looks as I eyed the summit. My mind wandered even lower to the LA basin full of 9 million people doing traditional Sunday afternoon activities: taking naps, watching TV, BBQ-ing, eating junk food, etc. etc. etc.

However I was not there, I was standing at 6,200ft, and looking 3,800ft up at a chilly, lonely, windy summit. Initially, everything seemed simple, go were it's safe and comfortable and be happy.

Safe? Other than some small patches of ice, the ski hut trail was definitely safer than the Los Angeles freeway system. Comfortable? Having driven well over 100,000 miles in a car in the last 9 years, I don't consider cars to be comfortable. Happy? Happiness is seeing beautiful things in nature, happiness is accomplishing your goals, happiness is a being worn out and full of endorphins for days. Easy decision.

These are the pictures from that final climb up the Ski Hut Trail, and sunset descent down Bear Canyon:

-Post well deserved Christie Burger at the Mt. Baldy Lodge

Monday, January 23rd
5 mi, 2000ft treadmill 4x11% (Crystal Cove closed for rain)

4 mi, 2000ft treadmill 4x11%
6 mi, easy flat road

10mi, 2500ft night Crystal Cove, 4 repeats up "400ft hill"

13mi, 3000ft night Crystal Cove, 4 repeats up "400ft hill" and extra

5 mi, 1000ft Westridge

28 mi, 9500ft, Chantry 3x3mi/2500ft climb up Sturdevant :44, :45, :45

25 mi, 10,000ft, Mt. Baldy: Bear Canyon, parking lot climb, ski hut, West Baldy,

Total: 96 miles, 30,000 feet of gain


Randy said...

Those French Fry bushes are really nice when they are in season.Excellent Hardrock session,up and down,up and down.

Dominic Grossman said...

They even had a tapatio and mayo tree right by to make spicy fancy sauce. Brilliant!

Anonymous said...

I would be looking to stick a tap into an IPA tree if I could find one, though if I drank too much it might make the trip down a little hazardous.

Dominic Grossman said...

They do have that at Mt. Baldy! You could consider it a carb boost, and just blame any trips on the altitude