Sunday, July 31, 2022

A short ultra for breakfast. And a Stevens Creek Striders promo.

I so used to run (short) ultras for breakfast a lot, I mean for training, early on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Including the real ultra races, I averaged 33 ultra runs a year for 11 years in a row, from my second year in that sport, in 2008 until I fissured one of my hamstring attach tendons in November 2018. Healing has been so much longer than both hoped and expected, I'm now only getting back in the groove after 3.5 years. In 2019, I had to ease off and logged only 15 ultra runs, then 12 in 2020. How do I keep track of all these stats? I still do Excel, not as old school as Camille Herron's handwritten log book, but sill odd in the age of GPS-fueled social platforms). And it's good to keep a running log because, although I felt terribly out of shape last year, I just realized I actually managed to have 35 ultra runs in 2021. And 16 so far.

Again, that includes some short ones. Although I go by the 26.2+ miles definition, Andy Wilkins-Jones has often questioned if 50K should even be considered as an ultra. At least in his golden years (multiple top 10 Western States finishes), maybe he'll become more inclusive with age... ;-)

I confess that, between that injury, the pandemic struggle and other sources of life unbalance, I lost the appetite, will or eagerness for waking up early on weekends in order to squeeze in long runs. But, for a change, that's what I managed to do this Saturday, phew! I made the deliberate decision to stop working on a client project at 10:30 pm on Friday, set my clock to 6:45 am in order to start my run with a stop at the 8:30 am Saturday club meeting of the Stevens Creek Striders, 4 miles from my house. At the Stevens Creek Reservoir which is on Stevens Creek (upstream through the Stevens Creek Canyon and downstream, toward Moffett and Shoreline).

This Club is where I got acquainted with trail running (2003), then ultra marathon (2006), before I joined the highly competitive team Adam Blum and his company, RhoMobile, sponsored within the Quicksilver Running Club of San Jose (2007). I stayed with the Striders for a few years during which I even served as Captain of the Last Chance aid station at Western States.

This Saturday's meeting was chaired by Robert Luemers who is also the Race Director of the Club's Stevens Creek Striders Reservoir Runs, including a trail half marathon which is part of our Mountain, Ultra, Trail Grand Prix for the second year. Two heads-up:

  1. First, a price increase coming up next weekend. The event has been up since last December, time to signup!
  2. Second, for those competing in the Grand Prix and not familiar with the fine prints: if one of your scores isn't for a Trail event (sub ultra trail), you'll lose one of your scores. This is the last opportunity of 2022 to get such a score in the Trail category (Excelsior's Star City Half could have been one but, with their move to later in October, it won't be part of the Grand Prix this year).

In any event, join us for this very accessible run in Cupertino's foothills and meet other members of our local trail running community!

At mile 3 of the group run, 7 miles for me, before I continued on Stevens Creek Canyon road:

The informal setting of a running club meeting:

On this last weekend of July, I was pleased to see a bit of water flowing through rocks at the bottom of the canyon. But the farther I was going up that road, the less flow I could hear until there was no more water at all in the bed of the creek.

May 28

2 months later...

In other news, I'm afraid we have just lost high-speed Internet access at the top of Black Mountain! Just kidding, this is old-time telephony, I wonder who all these cables were meant to provide phone signal at the park entrance at the end of Stevens Creek Canyon road.

Actually, teasing apart, I need to check if the public phone booth at the camp ground still works, who knows. Although it's more likely for that spot to be served by a line along Montebello Road instead.

I occasionally walked on the way up to Bella Vista trail but not too much, this is encouraging, both from a physical and mental standpoint. I did cross a few cyclists, on the road of course but, less common, on the trail itself, and saw quite a few deers. If we apply Machine Learning to this data, you could infer that deers get excited by a lot of Tour de France watching as well! :-)

As I turned on Bella Vista, up toward Black Mountain, I first saw a red ribbon on the side of the trail, potentially marking some erosion or ground slide. Shoot, how shocking to see a truck on its top, which flipped off this single (duh!) track!

At least you can say that they got lucky the truck fell into a ditch, not too deep, wide enough to allow the truck to stabilize flat and narrow enough that it stopped the vehicle from rolling more. 20 yards more and they were good for quite a scary series of lateral or back flops...

I've launched a FaceBook investigation. It doesn't seem the trucks is from the rangers, phew! Someone proposed the hypothesis of a contractor working on a communication or power maintenance job. In any event, huge navigation mistake, instead of getting on Montebello Road to drive to the submit.

To spice my run even more, a few hundreds yards later, I almost got hit by a bike. The guy hammered on the break but the back wheel blocked immediately. I didn't even have time to yell anything, I just jumped on the right edge of the trail and bended over the void of a steep slope. One of these closed encounters which could get one more trail closed to bikes...

With that, it was hot but a cloud layer brought some welcomed shade and relief. No campers at the campground, where I refilled both bottles. A few pictures at the top (mile 17) then it was time for the 12-mile downhill.

To add some mileage and elevation, I went on my favorite Waterwheel Trail, stopping for a few minutes at the refreshing, albeit weakening, spring.

Back on Montebello Road, I hammered it down, finally clocking a few sub-7 miles and not stopping for 10 miles. For a total of 29.5 miles at 8:28 min/mile. Elevation wise? Maybe something between Garmin's always optimistic guess of 4,293 ft, or Strava's more reasonable and plausible 3,760. In any event, a good last long training run before now tapering for Skyline 50K this Sunday then Headlands Hundred (hilly miles...) 6 days later. Even more time to work more... until I see some of you these next two weekends to play again on the trails! flyover (this link or click on the following picture):

PS: and since I'm looking at my stats, lifetime ultra run #461.

A few Striders on the move!

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