Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Capitol Peaks 50 Mile

These things usually take a couple days to write. And I'm learning that if I want to gleam as much as I can from each distance I need to write as much as I can remember. This may be a bit lengthy, but no one really reads this crap anyway. Hell, my parents hardly even read this junk. On to the Capitol Forest 50…

With promises of horrible traffic due to construction I decided to leave extra early. Glen got a hotel near the race start, which would have been nice, but I knew I wouldn't see the kids much on race day, and I didn't want to not see them basically 2 days in a row. His kids are teenagers - a little easier to get away from with less guilt. My goal was to bed Saturday night at 715; I figured I'd be reading the kindle for at least an hour or so before I fell asleep, but I was hoping to get 5 hours of shuteye. Of course, if you have kids you know things don't every go to plan when they are for yourself. That's just part of the adventure of having kids. I ended up getting to bed at about 815. Not really too bad as I planned on getting up at 230. But instead I woke up at 12:40, laid there for a long time, decided to start reading some more in the hope it would tire the eyes enough to get another hour or so of sleep. Next thing I know I'm another 15% through the book and it's 2:10. I might as well get up. So I jumped in the shower, checked some things on the web quickly, ate some pancakes, read some more, and the next thing I know it's almost 3:00. Crap I better go.

Turns out traffic is nonexistent all the way down. For once the on again off again rain was a benefit. I rolled into the Mima Campground at around 4:35 and as I see all the headlights walking around think to myself, "That would be smart to bring a light as it's pitch black." Oh well, I fumble through the dark like a bat chasing a firefly (or whatever eats those damn things). Then I round a corner and a tent is in full glow, so on I ventured toward the light. I got my shirt (another technical shirt, I have so many of those it would actually be nice to get a plain old cotton t-shirt), number, another free Ultrarunning magazine (sure am glad I subscribed since I get them at every race), and a couple other goodies. I sent Glen a text so we could actually see one another before the race starts. Yes, we have a crush on one another! It's puppy love. Actually, he is the only other idiot I know that will run through the mountains with me just about every weekend.

The sun came up. The race started. Off we go. 50 miles to go. 6000+ feet to climb. No hurry. Take your time. Lots of mud on the trails.
Here's my shoes after the run.

Glen's GPS said we were averaging 10:30 per mile after a couple miles, I wanted to take it easy in the beginning but that was a little slow. I didn't let it worry me too much, with all day to run I'm sure 10:30 per mile would be hard to maintain eventually. Especially with the "grunt" coming up to the top of Capitol Peak. The first few hours were pretty mellow. I just kept an easy pace, and tried to maintain my calories and fluid intake. It was a little cool so I wanted to enjoy the comfortable weather as long as it lasted. I have no idea how far into the race we were (maybe 19 or so) we pop out of this little single-track, cross a road and I see a sign that says, "Grunt trail." I heard about this. It rises about 1000 feet in less than a mile. I usually suck at power walking the climbs, but maybe it’s the company I last did it with (2 guys that have finished top 5 in mountainous 100 milers), but today I "mall walked" up it like nothing and probably passed 10 people without exerting myself. Got to the top and still felt good - which is always a relief.

I ended up running with Pam Smith, who ran 7:14 to finish 2nd at American River 50 miler 2 weeks ago, for a little bit, but after running away from her on the descent and next climb I had to get myself in check as she probably would have killed me. I ran into aid station (whatever number it was - about mile 25.5) in 4:17, let Pam go ahead of me, happy to still be feeling really good and on pace for a conservative sub 9 hour finish. Ran another mile and then hooked up with Tia Gabralita. This is perhaps one of the coolest runner chicks I ever met. I ran with her for about 7 miles or so, found out she ran with Glen earlier in the race, and just talked to her about nothing too important (different 100's mostly) as the miles floated by. I could tell by her jovial mood she was feeling good though. Each time we go to an aid station she got excited and started whoopin' it up. I let her go and all I could hear was, "C'mon Mike, get going! C'mon Mike!" And maybe at about mile 40 or so I had to bid her Adieu. Yes, she is a girl, yes, a couple years older, but this is another seriously tough and strong runner that would have me hurting in a bad way if tried to hang on too long. long. My pride is not something that I worry about 40 miles into a trail run. I'm used to getting beat by the fast chicks anyway.

I knew once I started getting close to the finish I would start seeing mile markers on the trails. Downhill and flats my turnover was still pretty good, but by mile 45 the climbs were starting to piss me off. I was walking climbs that I didn't even notice earlier in the race. I got caught by one more girl just for the helluvit. Saw someone running and he said something like 3/4 of a mile to go. I looked at my watch and it said 8:29. I knew sub 9:00 was going to be pretty easy, but thought I was going to end up 8:36. He must have been off in his estimate as I crossed the line in 8:34:20. Not too bad. I think ultrarunning is a lot like racing bikes where it takes a while to build the strength you need to complete the longer distances. I'm seeing lots of improvement so it's pretty cool when incrementally feel the the positive changes.

Next up is 12 hours at Redmond. I planned to take it easy for a week or 2, but it's hard to go from 60+ miles a week down to 30. I feel like I'm being lazy. 2 days after the 50 my legs were barely sore; I think the slower pace and softer surface is a lot easier on the limbs. 50 miles is a great distance to run; you don't really have to worry about DNF-ing and you can pretty much run the whole thing confortably. 50 miles is my new farvorite distance.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lord Hill Trail Maintenance Day

In conjunction with Earth Day my work set up a trail work party with the Washington Trails Association (WTA) at Lord Hill Park. I signed up for this as quickly as I could since it was self-serving to do trail maintenance at a place I run at so frequently. The first picture is how bas the trail was when we first showed up. The trail was getting more and more wide as people were doing their best to avoid the slop in the middle. If you stepped in the deepest gunk it was almost 10 inches deep of mud and water. And if you didn't tie your shoes tight enough there was a good chance that you wouldn't have it on anymore as you tried to step out of the slop. There were 42 people altogether and we worked on a 0.6 mile section of trail that had not seen any work performed in many years.

See Glen working? He gets free socks if he sends this picture in for the Cascade Crest 100.
This picture is about 75% of the way complete fixing the mud hole. We scraped all the crap out down to the hard pan and then put some drainage in so hopefully the water will not pool here and create another quagmire.
Here is the finished project. Yes, the trail is considerably wider, but it was already pretty wide at the mud hole. There were about 10 of these holes of slop that we fixed this day. We also fixed some eroded parts of trail where 2 trails were existing side by side - one for water to run down the hill, and one for people to avoid the water.
This was a lot of work but very rewarding. I would love to be able to work on trails more often. Washington has hundreds if not thousands of miles of trails and I'm sure there are many that require work. It was about time I gave back to the trail community since I spend nearly every weekend running trails somewhere in western Washington.

Friday, April 16, 2010

More training - and exploring

This photo is from Redmond, which was the second trail we ran after reaching the end of the Tolt Pipeline trail - then backtracking, talking to hikers, and searching we finally came upon it. I was pretty surprised to still see snow on the edge of the trail at this time of year. Although after all the snow I ran in last week at Tiger Mountain, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised about seeing a patch of snow here and there.
The day started off frosty and cool. And turned into a nice spring day. We ended up running about 26 miles - nice and easy. Glen and I are both running the Capitol 50 miler near Olympia on the 25th of April, so we didn't want to take too much out of ourselves at this point.
I had one of those days where I just felt great all day long. 10 miles in and I felt like I only ran 1/2 mile. 20 miles in and I felt like I went a mile. The legs were just so responsive all day. We picked up the pace a little bit at the end, but nothing too crazy.
I ended up running just under 70 miles this week. Glen ended up with 74 I believe. Not too shabby for a couple older suburbanites. This is a pretty good run too when both trails are tied together. None of the climbs are too difficult - pretty much everything is runnable. Zero traffic. A few horses here and there. A couple bikes. Not much mud which is either a good or bad thing - and you can refill the bottles and use real bathrooms @ the Watershed Preserve. I was surprised we didn't see anyone else running all day long. But then again when we run Tiger we can run 5-6 hours and only see 3 or 4 people running - I see that many in in 1 mile during a neighborhood run. Plus it's dirt. It's always great to run on dirt.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tiger Moutain Run in the snow

I stole this pic from the web, so that's not us. The weather was a bit more dramatic, and we were the idiots with shorts and sneakers on. But this is pretty much the view of the day - white!

Another early ass morning without much sleep. I did actually fall asleep early, but the baby woke me up about 2 minutes later. I swear, for every minute she wakes up - I'm up for an hour. I can't wait until my kids are teenagers. When my kids are older I plan on paying them back. I'll be plugging in my guitar and amp at 4:00 am and rocking out some old punk tunes to get even with the kids. I can't wait. It's going to be fun. Until then, I just try to keep moving all day long and ignore my zombified state. I was meeting Bill and Justin at 6am for a run. We were hoping to run 12 peaks or summits or whateveritscalled, but there were reports of a lot of snow up top. We wouldn't really know until we get to the top though.

I rolled in to the parking lot at about 5:57, Bill and Justin showed up about 2 minutes later. And after about 5 minutes of final adjustments we were off. It was still pretty dark as we made our way to the single-track. And then we start climbing. I was feeling like crap, but we were going uphill so I didn't notice how bad I felt (if that makes sense). Just because even if I feel good I still feel like crap on long climbs, it just gets over with quicker on better days. We climbed for a while and holy crap! Snow! I'm originally from Buffalo, NY and once ran 15 miles in -40 wind-chill, so this shouldn't be such a surprise. But it was. Maybe because I ran here a couple weeks and there was no sign of snow; in fact trail conditions were pretty good.

When we got to the clearing at the top the snow was at least 12" deep, and the wind was howling. We quickly got back into the single track and moved onto summit # 2. This climb is on a fire road and not as much fun. Luckily for me I was the slowest runner so I could go in the footsteps of Bill and Justin in front of me. Again at the top the wind was blowing fiercely - on we go to the single track. The 3rd summit is a bitch of a climb. The first time I did it a couple weeks before it completely humbled me. I kept my usual slow pace behind Bill and Justin. I was losing 20 seconds or more per climb to them, and they were having a conversation all the way up. This time up was not as bad though, and I was starting to feel better. I really need to start running this type of terrain more. After the 3rd summit it was decided to get out of the snow and head back down. It was fun running in the snow, the pillowy white stuff is great on my knees, but it also hides the rock and root hazards. We then worked our way down to the TMT trail, stopped at the spring so they could fill their bottles, and continued our run. Overall it was a great day to be outside. I really appreciate those guys putting up with me as I know they are both quite a bit faster. But I can feel my fitness improving on this terrain each time I run it. And I need to remember to tape the straps on my water bottles - they kept popping out and then I have to fiddle with them for a bit. I lost tons of time running just from messing with my bottles, what a stupid way to lose it.

We ended up running just short of 4 hours. I ended up feeling much better toward then end of the run. And Sunday I wasn't even sore at all, so that's a positive in the right direction. The first time I ran here I was hobbled for a few days afterwards. Progress. I love trails.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Weather we should run or not

The weather totally sucks. But oh well. I live in western Washington. The weather is going to suck at times. It's a fact. But we generally don't get a ton of snow. So what if I am going to run 6-7 hours in the snow tomorrow, or rain, or snow at the top. It will be an epic day of running in the woods. 34 miles and over 21,000 feet of elevation change will make for a fun day no matter what. At least I shouldn't (repeat - shouldn't) run out of water. Osmosis will work also. Or I can just eat the snow at the top.