Saturday, January 10, 2015

2015 week 2: two ultras already, yeah!

1. Back to Black Mountain

Upon landing from Europe at SFO last Saturday and getting back home, I rushed outside to run 15K in the neighborhood, fast. I had run a few times in France but had not brought a pair of running shoes in Prague (sorry, no "Running in Prague" post for that matter...). While it felt good to have more time to spend with the family and friends to visit this amazing city and celebrate the crossing of the years, I was anxious to get back into some training as the 2015 is now on.

The following Sunday, last week, I woke up at 5 am thanks to some jet lag but it was freezing outside (literally) so I waited until sunrise before getting on a long run, happy to get back on Black Mountain after a 5-month hiatus! The good news? The reservoir has filled up significantly. The bad news? We are still pretty far from normal, it's not even winter yet, we need so many more rain storms to hit California and the Bay Area!

Another impact of the lack of rain, beyond the drought, is the poor air quality. Another reason it felt good that morning to run above the smog...
I passed one bike on the way up Montebello and it felt good too to get some hill training after the hundreds of flat miles of these past months. I didn't see a single soul for the next 10 miles, up to Black Mountain first, then down Bella Vista trail, then up to Black Mountain again where I finally saw two mountain bikers and two hikers enjoying the magnificent view over the hills like Mount Umunum and up to the Ocean.

Here I am at the top of deserted Black Mountain, with some of my Ultimate Direction gear: my usual hand bottles and the super convenient Scott Jurek's Essentials belt.
That was a great long run overall, technically an ultra, albeit a short one barely fitting Andy Jones-Wilkins' requirement or label. 28 miles at 8:05 min/mile with +/- 4,000 feet of cumulative elevation, a good start for 2015.

2. Steatopygous Quinquamilla or the first/original Saratoga Fat Ass

Fast forwarding one week and 39 flat miles at the track with Jeremy and Bob or in the neighborhood during the week, and it was time for another edition of one of our oldest local Fat Ass, the Steatopygous Quinquamilla. I thought that was my first ultra ever back in 2005 but, thanks to my 3,000-line running log, it was actually my second (I had run the Stevens Creek 28-mile Clambake in August 2004). Anyway, that was then my second ultra run out of a series of 242 so far, so much experience gained in 10 years!

I hav run this Fat Ass 6th times now; in 2005 (5:56), 2007 (6:10 in freezing conditions), 2009 (5:47), 2012 (5:22 with Toshi and Sean), 2013 (6:22, solo) and now 2015.

There were about 20 confirmed runners on Facebook and another dozen of maybe's but only 7 started, between 7 and 8 am (not counting Doc Mark who ran his personal edition yesterday). With the lack of winter, the conditions were gorgeous today: sunny, temperatures in the low 60s, soft trails, low creeks, only a few trees down.
This year, I ran with Jeremy (my track buddy) and James (who is joining our Club, from Brazil). It was a perfect group for a good workout and nice chats, in particular about their hiking and back packing experiences and projects (see for instance Jeremy's account of their epic Euchre Bar Massacre!).

We passed Chau Pham and Mylinh Nguyen, then Keith Lubliner around mile 8

We then saw Keith Blom again at mile 12. Here is James and Jeremy approaching the Butano Trail intersection.

Huge thanks and kudos to Keith B for organizing this unofficial run, being at the start to welcome us, setting up an amazing aid station at mile 15 (China Grade) and monitoring the course at that intersection: a perfect Race Director!
Here is Keith's China Grade aid station:
More gorgeous views from Basin Trail:
And a photo fight between bloggers! ;-) (See Jeremy's blog)
After a slow start, we eventually picked up the pace on the Skyline to the Sea trail along Highway 236 when we ran into Kristina Irvin, our Quicksilver Club aid station queen (and/or bitch as she adds herself to her business card! ;-). More chats about this course and other epic ultras of hers, and we were flying again toward Waterman Gap.

I finished the last 6-mile climb alone, running all the way, but waited for Jeremy and James at the parking lot for 25 minutes. I had so much work to do this weekend, including this blog post but much more professionally, that I finally left before seeing them finishing. Maybe they ran a few additional miles to make it a 50K as the standard course is notably shorter per our GPS devices (mine gave 28.3). I completed the loop in 5:06 (elapsed time), including 4:22 of actual running time according to Strava (minus some of the stops, I had 4:33:40 on my watch at the end).

Superb conditions to be running and enjoying our wonderful hills and trails, I do hope you managed to get out there too these first 10 days of 2015! If not, then it's still (and always!) time for good resolutions! ;-) In my next post, I'll share my 2015 running resolutions then... In the meantime, run happy!

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Great run Jean! Thanks for taking all of those pictures. Sometimes I forget how handsome I am...