A friend asked me the other day what I think about when I'm running. In my usual enginerd fashion, I answered it depends on where I am, how I'm feeling, what I'm looking forward to and such.
-Typical Crystal Cove during the week
My weekday runs during the winter are often at night, and though Crystal Cove is a decently scenic place, in the dark it's pretty bland. Running in bland environments is pretty tough if you have nothing exciting to think about. Yet, I always seem to have something on my mind.
Last year I was so focused on Angeles Crest and running as fast as possible, I didn't run-dream about whatever floated into my mind, but rather whatever helped to fuel my competitive ambition. This year, I don't expect to have much of a shot of running under 24 hours on the Hardrock course. Running the 13 round trip out of Bear Canyon in 3 hours is a bit tough, and doing it the estimated 8 times in a row is even tougher to fathom. It's got a bit more climbing per mile than Hardrock, but it's not as high so I think it's a decent estimate for pace. With that, my goal is more around 28 hours if nothing goes horribly wrong (but who knows, I only seem to be getting faster each week at Baldy).
So, my run-dreams are more about the sheer beauty of steep mountain running. If I were to rank my frequency of run-dreams, it'd be a close three way tie between:
-Klaus's picture across Cunningham Gulch, looking up to the right at Little Giant Peak
1) Hardrock Course
I have visualized my dream race, death race, and many other variants in between a number of times. Sometimes the distinct pain and exhaustion are felt if my run is going particularly rough, but mostly it's the amazing feeling of reaching the top of a climb and looking for miles through the clear air at the previous and next stretches of trail. Being signed up for the race has served as a huge source of daily inspiration (and distraction comparing Klaus's photos with my topographical map).
-The Spine, Mt. Baldy Trail
2) Mt. Baldy Trail (Bear Canyon)
I have grown the most as a mountain runner on this trail. It's gone from terrifying gigantic challenge to an inspiration for me to work hard on weekdays to making me act like a English Setter realizing a bird is within a 1/4 mile. I ran 28mi and climbed 8k the day before, and still was felt incredibly excited when I started up the trail this Sunday. I was tight and sore, but I still took 8 minutes of my PR to lower it to 1:56. When I'm in the middle of the climb, I'm half cursing my legs for not being stronger, and half loving the challenge that is shaping me into a mountain runner that sees the mountain as a playground. It's pure ecstasy.
-Sierra Club Ski Hut
3) Mountain Life
Perhaps the most perfect answer to all my run-dreams is to simply live in the mountains. I'm not sure when I'll live in a mountain town, but the idealized vision of beautiful days and good living is very alluring. There's something about mountain houses that make them seem more simplified. I don't actually know if they get less junk mail, or people keep them cleaner because they don't buy so much needless things like peopole in the city, but I feel like they're healthy places to live.
Monday Feb 5th
9mi, 1:35, 2000ft - Crystal Cove
3mi, :38, 2250ft - Treadmill 15%
4mi, :42, 2000ft - Treadmill 10%
9mi, :95, 2250ft - Crystal Cove
9mi, :100, 2000ft - Sprained ankle at Crystal Cove, new 1400's+no headlamp=bad combo
2mi, :20, 500ft - Ankle still a bit tender
28mi, 5:45, 8000ft - Eaton-Wilson-Sturdevant, repeated 1000ft to let Katie catch up, rolled ankle at the bottom of Sturdevant and hobbled over Zion. Pretty frustrated, but iced the ankle in Winter Creek for a bit. Eventually swelling went down, and power hiked up winter creek, and was forced to run through a hailstorm at the top in nothing but a Capilene and split shorts. Finished, and gorged on In-N-Out
13mi, 3:00, 6000ft - 1:56 up Bear Cyn, halfway split was :51 so there's still a lot of potential. Headed down and ran back up a bit to ice the ankle again to be safe.
16:00, 81 miles, 25,000ft
Bombay Bicycle Club - Leave it
Hard to pick just one favorite song off this record. They're really solid indie rock.