Monday, May 31, 2010

Western States training camp: so long for me

I cannot believe how much difference a year and external conditions can make... Last year I was all fired up to do the second edition of my own local camp instead of driving up to Auburn for the official Western States Memorial Weekend training camp. Of course I was sorry to miss the fun of running with so many other Western States aficionados, furthermore training on the mythical Western States trail, but I was looking forward to replacing the time driving up there and staying out of town with some valuable family time. So, in 2009, I ran 122 crazy miles in three days and more than 28,000 feet of cumulative elevation, all that in the heat.

Based on my great racing this year, I thought I would top that. However, a big difference from last year: I entered the long weekend not only tired after a few short nights, but with a big milestone at work over the weekend (proposal due on Sunday and presentation on Monday night). So long for a public holiday... With that, I was not able to enjoy the time on the trails, I always felt I could use the hours to put in the project and other professional to dos. The good news though is that, albeit in a limited time, I could experience my first heat crashes of the season, for my first heat training steps this year. At least and at last...

Mission Peak Madness

On Saturday, I drove back to the parking lot of Mission Peak Park, on Stanford Avenue in Fremont, 6 days after Ohlone. Despite the expected affluence for such a special weekend, I just had to wait a few minutes to find a parking spot, so I could set my personal aid station in the trunk of my car. The weather was as wonderful and clear as a week ago, with a nice breeze and gorgeous views all over the Bay. During the first climb, I forced myself to walk some sections to save some energy for later. I reached the summit pole in 35', using the short and straight fire trail (as opposed to the Southern trail we use in the Ohlone race). On the way down, I ran, or rather flew, for a couple of miles with a group of mountain bikers. While they were putting on their brakes by courtesy for the many hikers, I saw no reason for using my brakes and just let it go. After taking an S!Cap and changing bottles, I was up for the second loop, 57' after starting my run. I had thought a reasonable pace would be 1:10-1:15 per loop, evidently I was not on the correct pace.
My second loop was slightly slower, 40' to the top and 1:06 for the round trip. I was wearing two layers of long sleeves to simulate the heat training and was getting quite hot and sweaty with the bright sun and as we were approaching noon. The third loop was still pleasant and completed in 1:04. With the focus on work instead of preparing this running weekend, I left home without much of my usual ultra food such as potato chips or banana, but only a couple of Snickers bars.
One mile into the 4th lap, a hiker asked me if it was my second or third time up. I replied 4th and I still felt OK but wondering if I could indeed keep up with this pace and do the 8 laps as I was hoping for, or at least 6 like last year. The last 2 miles were tough on this loop and I started walking more, completing the loop in 1:22. Back to the car, I thought I will take my camera only for the 6th loop, to make sure I was keeping some motivation for going more than 5 loops. Unfortunately for the pictures of the gorgeous views, I walked so much in the 5th loop that I decided to call it a day after completing this last round trip in 1:29, thinking that it would take me at least 2 hours to crawl the next one. So no picture to share with you, sorry... I am still calling the run Mission Peak Madness like last year because people completing the loop once can relate, this is quite a brutal climb of just over 2,000 feet, worth a canyon on the Western Sates course. Here is the distorted elevation/time chart from SportTracks:
And, as you can see below, I lost quite some salt, this one on my shorts doesn't come from a swim in the Ocean!
By the way, as an occupation in my 4th and 5th laps, I started "collecting" trash along the trail and here is what I found. Sorry for the picture, on the gross side, but I hope that makes the point: watch your pockets, ladies and gentlemen on the trail!

PG&E repeats

Last year I had run the entire Quicksilver 50-mile course on day 2 of my local camp. I certainly did not have the time nor the energy to go for that this Sunday after the set back on Mission Peak, so I decided to go to Rancho to do a repeat. The most I've done there is 4 times the outside loop, alternating the climbs to Vista Point via PG&E (shorter and harder) and Rogue (respectively clockwise and anti-clockwise).

Like on Saturday I put on two layers of black long sleeve tops and felt quite warm just a few miles into the PG&E climb. Before starting I had seen Cathy and Muriel who were looking for a parking spot and told them that I was setting up my camp for 9 hours on the trail as I was hoping to complete 6 repeats to make up for the previous day, in a conservative 1:30 for each lap (my lap record is just below 1:05).

I was back to the parking lot after 1:22 of running, taking 6 minutes to eat and refill my bottles as I was already over heating and it was not even mid day... It took me a lot of walking in the second climb, stops at every creek on the way to cool down and a total of 1:41 for reaching the parking lot for the second time and without the will to go further. With that, I was back home early enough to have lunch with the family, take a nap and go back to work until 11 PM... From a running perspective, I need to re-learn how to behave in the heat. After these two runs, I was down to 121 pounds, 4 less than what I consider my optimal race weight.

This Monday the weather was still great, nice breeze, some clouds in the morning, but I did not feel at all up for running and worked all day instead, except for writing this blog post and shortly sneaking in my FaceBook account to see how much fun others had in the real and official camp up there (some even saw a mountain lion crossing the trail, phew!). I am looking forward to seeing you all in 4 weeks!

Ahh, sometimes, life/work balance means less running and more work. I hope to catch-up with some hill and heat training next weekend, after a 2-day trip to DC tomorrow for the departure ceremony of Alex on Capitol Hill (the end of his amazing Congressional Page program). Still 4 weeks before the big dance!


Anonymous said...

Rogue as in all the way around or through the Wildcat Loop trail?

Anonymous said...

How long does it take to do PG&E up and down the same way (the shorter steeper way)?

Jean Pommier said...

Yes, Anonymous, to the end of Rogue Valley, then 1 mile up to Upper High Meadow, Vista Point, then down PG&E.

As per out and back on PG&E, I never tried (only the full loop, either way, or PG&E repeats when training hard for Miwok or Quad Dipsea).

Whoever you are, see you at Rancho on of these days, then!

Catherine D said...

Jean, ce coin est magnifique, mais tu verras, Bécon les Bruyères est presque aussi beau ;-)

Blague à part, quand viens-tu à BCL que je te fasse une petite dégustation de chocolat ?

Catherine D