Today's run was exactly what I needed. It was a good long run. The second longest I've ever run but most definitely most most technically difficult course. Cle Elum takes its runners up 18 miles of ascent until it finally crests and begin its descent for the next 13. I had been dreading the course since I first laid eyes on the profile map but it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought. There were moments when the grade was terribly steep but for the most part it was just a gradual rise over 18 miles and when you got to mile 18, its was almost all downhill from there. Toward the end of the course it does start to get rolling with short climbs scattered here and there. And then the last mile is all down hill again.
I say its what I needed because in that last couple miles I knew I could easily run for hours more if I had to. And it felt great. I was of course tired. But tired in the mind, not the legs. I wanted to finish the race because I knew it was about done, that's what I had planned on running and I really didn't want to run more. But I could feel it in my legs that they had plenty left. And if I had to do it, I could have gone on. It was what I needed to know three weeks out from my big run. I discovered I was ready to tackle something much bigger.
We did a tempo run tonight. We went out reverse on the big loop and did three nine minute repeats with 2 minutes in between. I took it real easy so I wouldn't ruin my Saturday run at Cle Elum. In the last minute of the last repeat I did pick up the pace. It felt good and as it was very short-lived I believe it will have no affect come Saturday.
Today's run was the usual recovery run out at Cougar. Michael was the leader out there today as Brian is preparing for the Cle Elum 50k next weekend. Kathleen and I resolve to go easy but quickly find we are both feeling quite good despite the previous day's tough course.
We've been using a recovery formula and it seems to be helping immensely. In fact, last night, just hours after I finished my run i felt ok to run again. Michael took it easy on us and managed to remove any difficult climbs. After 14 miles both of us were ready to be finished.
One other item of note. I decided early on in the run to try no walking up hills and was strong enough to do so. Even though the biggest hills were cut out there was still a considerable amount of climbing that had to be done and I was able to run it all without stopping no matter how slow it took. It was a minor milestone in my training and I was very pleased.
Oh, and the weather is starting to cool. Oh and as I think of it, I saw Uli Steidl. He won the Seattle Marathon last year and Kathleen says he's ranked #14 in the world for runners.
Today's was arguably the most scenic run we've encountered which is made obvious by the many pictures I've posted. It was also a great refresher course in running karma. I ran a little too vigorously downhill and it would prove to me later that although it may be fun and seemingly easy it still takes a toll on your overall energy level. My joints and muscles would be the victim of my over zealous actions. AGAIN.
What can I say? I love running downhill. So when the group was running down a fairly steep section of trail and I was hot on the heals of the other runners I politely asked if I could pass. And then with people on my heals and without anyone in front to keep me sane, I let gravity take me. I kept my breathing normal but I was flying through the trail. The entire time I'm doing my very best to be focused and practically praying that I don't fall on the rough terrain. I managed to get to the bottom of the slope about 30 secs to a minute before anyone else and it felt good. That is of course until we had to go back up. Then I quickly noticed how much it takes from you to run that fast no matter how easy it is. I suppose it was good to do this. The perfect reminder to be conservative on the downhills so soon before the actual race. Hopefully this lesson will be fresh in my head come race day. So I paid the price in order to play a little and show off like a jackass. So the day started early. I meet Kathleen again and we drive up and meet the others at the west summit parking lot at 8 am. Once there we car pool to a remote location that Scott claims will only take 30 minutes. It takes 1 hour and 30 minutes. The group also addresses Scott our concerns with the cutoff times for the big race. He assures us that there's plenty of time, we all look great and it'll be different come race day. I guess we have to trust him. He may have "perpetually optimistic" sense of time but he certainly picks the best places to run.
So we head up. The first few miles is up. For the last couple weekends my calves burn terribly. I'm not entirely sure why, it may be cause of the two styles of shoes I'm wearing between the week and its ends. It maybe the heavy Wednesday workout. At any rate, it is so bad that my feet go numb. Its painful and disorienting. I'm thinking I need to stick to one shoe from now on. It makes me stop frequently to allow the blood to flow but eventually we reach the top and my legs warm up. Once at the top we are just below the Cathedral Peak. Its impressive so I snap off as many pictures as I can. We then head down a out and back route to turn this 18 miler into a 22. This is where I run like a jackass. Once at the bottom we head on over to Deep Lake and then its back up the long hill to Cathedral Peak again. This climb was not enjoyable. Mostly because of the dirt kicked up from the runners in front of me. It was a warm day and no moisture on the ground to hold the soil down. This also caused us to drink more than we should. The climb was over shortly though and we headed on our way around the lake which would loop us back to the trail head. For the most part it was Kathleen, Jim and I as a group. The rest of the trail is just the average run-of-the-mill gorgeous until we get to the falls. We take a short break to enjoy the scenery and its off again. This is where I start to get tired. My joints are beat and I lacked inspiration. I really just wanted to be done. And eventually we were. We done we headed over to the river and took our "ice bath."
Tonight I meet up with my Northface training group at Discovery Park for a repeat of last week. A 4.25 warmup loop with a 2nd shorter loop at tempo 10k pace. We all chat it up a bit before heading out and then decided to do the reverse loop. This week I decide that I want to stay up front. I try to keep my breathing easy but I want to show that I've got speed. The group is lead by Michael, then it's Travis and Jim and then me. After about a mile or so we hit a downhill section of stairs and I fly by everyone because I choose not to run the stairs but rather the dirt next to them. From here on out I'm right behind Michael. I've created a nice lead from the others and decided that I should allow myself to slow down a touch. We then hit another set of stairs but this time going up. I manage to finish in before Travis and Jim but they pass me shortly after as I recover from the climb. I stay behind them until our second loop where we all pick up the pace a little bit. I decide to hold back until the last quarter mile where I'm try to pass them. At the beginning of this second loop, Michael stops to tie his shoes. I forget about him until about a half mile later his flies by me like I'm standing still. He joins decides to hang out at the front with Travis and Jim. So I follow them about 50 yards behind until I think we're about a quarter mile from the finish and then I pick up my pace considerably. I catch them within a minute and we all are charging through the forest at a very fast pace. Not a 10k pace. Everyone has decided to lay the gauntlet down. Travis eventually lets us go and its now just Michael, Jim and I. I get the feeling that Michael is just having fun, its no big deal for him. Jim I suspect is pushing hard but I can't hear him breathing. Not over mine that is. Its at this same moment I realize that we were certainly further out that a quarter mile. I'm breathing hard and every little hill we hit makes me want to give up. I nearly do on a couple times but manage to keep pushing it. I'm astounded by Jim who seems to be running with ease when I'm giving it all I have. I make it to the end, maybe 30 yards behind him and him 30 behind Michael. I congratulate him on such a fast run. This is a guy whom I've run faster than every weekend out on the big runs so I never suspected such speed from him. My guess is that he's more of a road runner. Anyways, I ran well for the majority of the run until that last bit where I let my inner jackass take over. I know that I'll regret the pounding I gave myself but I had fun and it was a good workout. I can see now that the training has really provided me with a strong base and when I do attack another road race I should have great results.
On that note, I had registered a week or so ago for the California International Marathon where I hope to qualify for Boston. Today(9/6/07) I purchased my flight and hotel room for the race. Its all set. All I have to do now is keep training hard, and then run a 3:10:59 marathon. NOOOO Problem.;-)
Tonight I had to run without Penny. Jenn is out of town and I can't leave Cody alone or else he'll howl until I get back. No destructive behavior, just howling. Something about his pack leaving without him. So Penny has to skip a week of running and I get a chance to run my "normal" speed on Tuesday night for a change. I felt really good and in just a matter of a quarter mile I was in front of everyone except the young kids(must be college or high school) who run in an entirely different league than the rest of us. I keep repeating to myself to keep my breathing easy and to go slower but I feel excellent and the speed comes easy tonight. On the return, I see Toby and Hershel coming up behind me. They catch and pass me on the staircase. Now I am taking it really slow because I've no need to push myself up this hill( I get plenty of that on the weekends) but even if I was trying they still would have passed me. They accent up the staircase was impressive. I get up the hill feeling tired but not too bad. The rest of the run is at a fast but easy pace. Other than that, just another boring Tuesday night run.
Wow, today I didn't want to get up to run. Yesterday's run really took a lot out of me. It was by far the hardest run we've done yet. It was the longest distance, longest time and I think the most technical. I usually think on the way home from a run that I'll get home and end up napping. But usually I get home shower and eat and then end up doing something productive. Not yesterday. I was just out of it. No energy. So when the alarm went off this morning I glared at it with heavy resentment. Sigghhhh.
But i get up anyway and by the time I get to Kathleen's I'm feeling better. We both have that big grin on our faces like, "I can't believe we're doing this." But we are.
We get to the trail head and as I said yesterday, there's Brian and Michael and it was great to see that same grin on there faces. It's that grin that admits one's humanity. One that says, "yeah, yesterday kicked our butts too." We all start gibbering about the difficultly of the course and the practicality of finishing in time. Then Brian says something that's music to all our ears.
"I think we'll just do ten today, that sound good?" Does it ever. Even the elites get tired. So we all head out. Oh, did I not mention that again its just Kathleen and I out of the trainees. Week after week we're the ones out there busting our asses. In the others defense I don't really know that the others aren't running. They very well might be. But they're not out at cougar.
So Kathleen leads the way for the run and we take it at a nice slow pace. After the first 15 minutes of warming up we settle into a nice grove. Its not as bad as we thought it would be and we stay positive. And to our delight Brian charts a course that removes practically all the hills on the course. Its an easy 10 miles today and we're done in under two hours.
What possesses me to go out and run like this? Why do I do it? Sometimes I ask myself that question, it's not just friends and family who ask it. Saturday night I believe that question rolled around in my head a little. But the big question that was on my mind, and apparently everyone's mind after today's run, was not "why do we run?" but rather, "how can we finish the Northface 50 miler in the 13 hour cutoff limit?"
When we saw Brian and Michael the next day they both admitted that they had serious doubts about people being able to finish this course before it was shut down. They only ran 21 today and still came out of it feeling troubled by the time limit. They questimated that it would take them 5 hours to complete the first loop. They know that the second half will be considerably harder. If they have doubts, well, I think we need to seriously consider them. We ran for 6:37 minutes today. That was half the course. One complete loop of the 2 loop event. This means we'd need to do a negative split on a 50 mile course. I've never done a negative split on a 5k much less on a marathon so its an obvious assumption that I'll not do it on my first 50 miler. Now it may have taken me over 6 hours to finish the course today, but it shouldn't have. Had all things gone as they hopefully will on race day I think I can easily take off 30 minutes.
First of all, we took it real easy today so that we'd finish strong with a positive attitude of which we did end up doing. Secondly, we we're in charge of finding our own way through the trails by using the map. Brian usually leaves markers but today we did not have that luxury. And I'm glad that we had to, cause Brian's been a crutch for us and today I finally felt like I learned the trails out there. It came at a price though. I got us off the proper route. We ended up doing the loop backwards for half the course. The course criss-crosses at one point and we took the wrong direction. Then later on we missed another turn and ended up running about a total of a half mile more than we should. So if you factor in all the stopping to look at the map, I think you can easily take off a half hour. Then we ran out of water. I think that's the THIRDLY item. It was a warm day out there and we ran out of water at around 19 miles. Fortunately for us, when you cross over from one mountain to the next, there's a construction site. We ran up there and practically begged them for water. They made our day by pointing toward the water cooler behind the door.
So yeah, I think I could have reduced my time by a bit. But lets say that I'm able to take my time down to 5:30 for one loop. That leaves me with 7:30 hours to do the next. Seems alright, right? Wrong. The first loop will start in the dark. That's right. It starts at 5:30 in the morning and at that time of the year, it'll be dark.
--Sunrise at that time of year will be 6:15. So I'll be running in the dark for 45 minutes.
This is a correction to the sunrise time. The chart I found said to add 1 hour to the time if we use daylight savings. So it looks as thought I'll be running in the dark for two hours. --
And then it'll take time for the sun to offer any help. So I figure the first hour I'll be going extra slow. So 5:30 on my first loop. Doubtful. I suppose going slow in the beginning will help me warm up. But let's figure that there's probably no way that I'll finish the first loop sooner than 6 hours.
So there you go. That means I'll have to run the second in 7 hours. Seem like a good margin? Maybe. But At the end of today's run I was beat. Light-headed and starving. The second loop is going to be tough. Tears will happen, I'll do more walking than running I'm sure. Did I mention that there will be leaves on the ground hiding the rocks and roots making it more likely that I'll trip and stumble?
So after all that, its no wonder why there is now talk of impossibilities. Of discouragement. Even the elite doubt our success. Perhaps Scott will push the time limit. Maybe. Maybe not. But in the face of that I'm still happy to try. I love it when people say something can't be done. Its just what I need sometimes to help push me to succeed. I don't feel that way all the time. The goal has to be realistic. I mean its not like we're doing the Badwater race(135 miles through death valley). Now that's crazy! To me, this course is possible. It will be tough, I may not finish in time but I'm going to try my absolute best to do so. Others may get discouraged but to me when someone says I can't do something, I swear to me its a slap in the face and a toss of the gauntlet. Sounds like a challenge to me.
Kevin Gosselin is influenced by sci-fi and fantasy art, comic books, anime, the masters and too many contemporary artist to fully list. Amongst the most influencial are Remington, Frazetta, Darrel K. Sweet, Thomas Eakins, Norman Rockwell and J.W. Waterhouse. Kevin has always been inspired by realism but has grown fond of the low brow illustration style fine art scene. Coming to the realization that most every traditional art (figure sculpture, still life and landscapes) has in some way already been done, Kevin has now leaned his art toward the fantastic. It is only by digging in to his own mind that he can possibly create something that has yet to be seen. For this reason Kevin is exploring the designer toy scene. It mixes his love of sculpture, illustration and fine art and is the perfect output for his passions.
Kevin Gosselin grew up in the tiny New England town of Northwood, New Hampshire. Although heavily influenced by many genres and artists, Kevin owes his career in the arts to two major influences. The art of Iron Maiden cover artist Derrek Riggs and his twin brother Keith who always knew he wanted to be an artist. It was only by following the career choices of his brother that Kevin decided to go to art school to develop his skills. Both brothers attended an Honors Art program at The Boston Museum School of Fine Art their senior year of high school and then moved to Sarasota, Florida to attend Ringling School of Art & Design.
After earning his Bachelors in Fine Art and Illustration Kevin got what he considers his real art education while working for the great Robert Antovel at Art & Frame of Sarasota, the best art supplies store in town. After picking up the framing trade Kevin moved on to what would be his masters program. Kevin was hired as a painter by Hagen-Wallace, a props shop for Feld Entertainment. Here Kevin learned how to paint faux finishes and would eventually find himself in the sculpting department where he would discover his true passion.
Again with the help of his brother Keith, Kevin advanced into another career. After college his brother taught himself web design and he passed along the knowledge to Kevin and they both were hired by Hydrogen Media. At the height of the dot.com era, HMI was a powerhouse collection of talent. But all things must pass and Kevin was part of massive layoffs. After a year of freelancing web design Kevin accepted what would be his last job. For seven years Kevin acted as the production end of a small Marketing Firm in Tampa Bay Florida. It would be here that Kevin would develop his web and graphic design skills but also his strong desire to remove himself as far as possible from the world of corporate advertising. Finally realizing where his passions lay, Kevin decided to redirect his efforts to his true passion for the arts.
Kevin lives with his super cool, beautiful wife, daughter and two dogs in Seattle, WA. Up until his decision to pursue fine art Kevin was, and intends to still be, an avid ultra trail runner. He spent many hours running through the mountains of Washington and completed ten marathons, three 50ks and one 50 mile ultramarathon. Kevin has blogged extensively about his passion for running which can be found here.