Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2nd BAWSMDWETC: quantity versus quality

BAWSMDWETC as in Bay Area Western States Memorial Day WeekEnd Training Camp. Nothing as official as the Camp Western States, but the start of a tradition after last year's inaugural version. The main goal of this informal camp is to avoid the travel up to the Sierras, the impact on the environment, the cost of staying there for three days, and more importantly the time away from the family. Of course, nothing can replace the ultra camaraderie and the Western States course experience offered by the official camp, but it is a matter of life balance (my "sustainable running" theme, balancing ecology, work and family/friends).

This year, I advertised my intended program on the ultraholic list:
  1. Night repeats on Mission Peak on Friday night and Saturday morning,
  2. Quicksilver 50-mile on Sunday,
  3. PG&E repeats at Rancho on Monday.
I was especially interested in nailing down details with the East Bary area specialists and I knew there were several of them potentially interested in such a Mission Peak... Madness. Which turned to be a real madness, although hopefully not a legal mess... See below my notes about this runs.

Overall, I accomplished what I wanted over this three-day weekend. Many miles, as many as last year, although quite some walk hence the title: quantity versus quality. But, although some elites would probably disagree, walking is part of ultra... running. Power walking that is. Especially when you cover 28,000 feet of elevation over 122 miles.

For the interest of time, both yours and mine, here is a compact summary of these 3 runs over 71 hours (from 6:30 pm on Friday to 5 pm on Monday):

Day 1Day 2Day 3Total
Location Mission Peak x6 Quicksilver 50-mile x1 Rancho PG&E x4
Distance (miles) 35 50 38 122
Distance (km) 56.3 80.5 61.1 198
Elevation (ft) 12,277 8,940 6,805 28,022
Elevation (m) 3,742 2,725 2,074 8,544
Time (elapsed) 7:42 8:40 6:18 22:40
Aid stations 5 1 3 9
Gel packs (GU) 4 7 1 12
GU2O (scoops, 1/10 oz of water) 4 5 8 17
S!Caps 4 8 3 15
Banana 1 1/2 1 2.5
Miscellaneous 2 cups of Miso soup - Chips Sniker - Chips 1/2 peanut sandwich - Chips - 2 pieces of dark chocolate
Calories (burnt) 3,097 4,620 3,673 11,390
Calories (taken while running - Approx.) 1,400
Running buddies Adam (#1) - Martin (#2-3) - Darshan (#2-4) - Chihping (#4-5) - Baldwyn (4am) Adam (on and off for first 24 miles) Max (#4)
Animals seen on trail
Snake x1 - Cows - Lizards Bobcat - Deer - Wild turkeys - Snakes x2 - Lizards Quails - Chipmunk - Lizards
Driving distance (round trip, miles) 40 34 9 83

Here are some notes and more details from each run. More pictures can also be found in my Picasa album.

Mission Peak Madness

With a 2,550 feet elevation, Mission Peak is to Fremont what Black Mountain is to Cupertino, on the other side of the Bay. I was looking for some night run and was intrigued with the concept of repeat that a few Ultraholics had put up back in February. When I shared the idea with the family, Alex said "but is it allowed to run at night?" Sure enough, he was right, the Park officially closes at 10 pm and a private security guide working for the nearby community took some pleasure to spend the night reminding us we were trespassing. I sincerely did not realize that it was such an issue. I understand that Rangers cannot patrol all the night and I am fine in taking the responsibility to run in the Park without surveillance, I mean without assistance because us, ultrarunners, do not really need surveillance to protect the trails. So, which other place can we use for our night training to prepare for our 100-milers? In the city where you have to stop at each intersection and wait for 2 minutes for the traffic light to turn to green? On roads where we can get hit by cars and trucks? Seems like there is no other option than trespassing to run in the parks... "Our land" as we sing...

Anyway, I did my first loop with Adam, ran all the way to the top and flew down the steep fire road to the parking lot. We completed the first 5.8-mile loop in 1:03 after crossing Martin and Darshan in our descent. I was quite chilly at my second passage to the top (still 41' for my second climb) and put my sleeves on for the third loop and a second layer thereafter. There were still hikers on the trail enjoying the sunset, which has been wonderfully captured by Darshan (see a few other pictures in his Picasa album):The Ohlone race starts with the climb to Mission Peak. Its website is called www.abovethefog.net, and above the fog we were for the sunset (later, we were running in a thick fog at the top of the Peak). Photo credit, Darshan:The security guard mentioned above prevented Martin to complete his third loop. Chihping had just joined us before and was able to do almost 2 loops with me. Darshan left by midnight and Chihping shortly after, leaving the Peak to me for my last loops. At the end of the fifth loop the guard lectured or sermonized me again and I really thought he will call the Rangers or the Police to pick me at the next round so I shortened the 6th loop by a mile, ran without my flashlight on the way down, grabbed my stuff I had left on the parking lot, rushed to my car and left the premises by 2 am.
I really did not like this feeling of trespassing and that somehow ruined the pleasure of working hard on this steep hill. 12,000 of cumulative elevation over 35 miles, that was a good workout to start the camp with however.

The following graph also shows the elevation, but with time as X coordinates, not distance (illustrating my slowing down as I progress in the night):Quicksilver

I met Adam again at Mockingbird on Sunday morning. At 8 am which is the official hour the Park opens, so no trespassing this time! Adam came to run the first 50K with me, and I really appreciated his company. By mile 8 he had a bloody blister and paused at McAbee Road to take care of it. While I continued on the race course, he had time to run back to his car, drive on the other ide of the Guadalupe Reservoir on Hick's Road, run over the dam and catch me while I was running up Mine Hill for the second time. We ran together up to Bull Run (mile 24) and he then turned back to have a brunch with Judith before a company meeting in the afternoon: busy CEO!
Despite carrying two 26-oz and one 20-oz Ultimate Direction bottles, I was out of fluids shortly after my first passage through English Camp, but at least I did not get dehydrated as I got last year, with only two bottles. I slown down and took the opportunity of not racing this time to take pictures and read the postings describing this historical site, not about the Gold rush but the active Quicksilver mining operations 125 years ago.

Although I was tired when I came back to the start area after the first 50K, right on 5 hours, I was determined to complete the whole course and to log 50 miles today; I got back on the trail after a 15-minute break at my custom aid station. Needless to say, for the ones who know the course, I walked most of the steep mile up to the second passage through English Camp. It was sunny but, like on race day two weeks ago, a nice breeze prevented me from getting real heat training this weekend.
It took me 3:25 hours to complete the second part up to the turn around on Wood Road versus 2:46 on race day (after a 4:03 50K). Wood Road was really nice, almost all in the shade. Around 1 mile to Hick/Wood Road Park entrance, I even found below the trail a pool which is reasonably accessible and that I highly recommend on warm days.

Rancho PG&E

I trained for so long in the Rancho San Antonio Park that this trail is not very original and easy to depict. As a matter of fact, I never saw so many people on the trail than this Memorial Day and finding a parking spot was really an issue although I got lucky and waited for less than 15 minutes before being able to set my "base camp" at the lower parking (easy access to toilets and water).I started with the toughest loop, clockwise, starting with PG&E, then alternated anti-clockwise and clockwise before Max joined me for my fourth loop. In addition to some elevation again (a total of 28,000 feet over three days!), doing loops provides good mental training.
Again, more pictures of the three days in my Picasa album.

We will see how all these efforts and time spent on my feet (nearly 1/3rd of the 72 hours) work out for the upcoming Ohlone 50K next week, and the big race (Western States) in 5 weeks. Too much quantity? Not enough quality? Ultra is all about experimentation...

What is sure is that I'm starting Ohlone with the coveted bib #1 and, with Lon Freeman, Leor Pantillat and Graham Cooper on the starting list, it seems impossible to go for another win, 3 years in a row. It will be interesting to watch these three guys in particular, looking forward to it!


Donald said...

Dude ... this is an amazing weekend. I can't believe you're not totally fried after that. Congrats on logging such huge mileage, and good luyck at Ohlone!

Adam Blum said...


Pleasure doing "practice pacing" for you last weekend. Good luck at Ohlone!

Nancy Miller said...

Wow! You're like the energizer bunny! Unbelievable!! Much luck to you at Ohlone!