Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pacific Crest Trail 7 miles

Current Mile total: 167 miles

Today was a recovery run. It was really tough to get out there. I decided to to the Northern section of the PCT headed out from the Bridge of the Gods. I chose this trail because it looked relatively flat. And for the most part it was. There was more climbing than I anticipated but nothing to cry about.

Met this little fella in the first few minutes.

I had been told by someone that the trail had sections where it had been clear-cutted by foresters. They were not wrong. I don't want to complain about it because I really don't know all the reasons behind it and I'm sure that people's job and the local economy might depend upon it. But it does bum me out to come around a corner and see no trees on the PCT. Couldn't they leave a quarter mile strip of trees around the trail to retain the integrity of it all? It is a shame that the trail got butchered. I wonder if there had been protests when it was done or if there are other locations along the PCT where this has happened.

On the bright side, it was sunny. First trail here that I've run and been exposed to the sun.
Toward the end I did start to feel loosened up from the prior day's run. Recovery run's hurt but they're when the real training happens.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Eagle Creek 26 miles

Current Mile total: 160 miles

I was a little nervous going into today's run. I had planned on jumping up my mileage considerably by making a loop out of a couple intersecting trails. I planned on running up to Wahtum Lake by mean of the same trail I ran last week, Eagle Creek Trail. This is at about 13 miles out. Then I'd jump on the Pacific Crest Trail and go over the Benson Plataea finishing on the Ruckel Creek Trail. I figured I could do it but I knew I'd be completely wasted toward the end and it might involve a lot of walking. The weather didn't help. I woke up to overcast and cold temperatures. It was 39 when I woke and expected 54 high for the day. But at the altitude I was planning on being at, I knew it would be freezing. I decided on heading out with the plan anyway.

I sometimes think Karma has a way of looking out for me. Some call it Guardian Angels, other might call it luck, but I do sometimes think that I'm being taken care of out there. This is what I was thinking when I faced the decision to turn around, for the third week in a row.

As I neared the lake my elevation was increasing faster and the temperature really dropped. I entered the clouds and what started as mist turned quickly into snow. The path then became covered in old winter snow yet to melt off but I pushed on seeing the obvious trail cut through the trees ahead of me. I really wasn't able to run anymore through this snow as it's angle was to steep to one side causing me to plan every step. It wasn't dangerous at this point, just slow going. I knew in my head that I should turn around but in my heart I was stubborn and did not want to give up so close to my goal. Reason won over in the end when I could no longer tell where the trail went. I believed it continued up along side the river I had been following but could not be sure.

I looked around and assessed the situation. I was poorly clothed if an emergency should happen, with just half a PB & J sandwich and not much water left to drink. The trail as I had planned would be in these conditions, higher and more exposed. It was lightly snowing and I was all alone. I was also beginning to get fatigued with my core temperature pretty low. Sometimes pride makes us make really stupid choices in life. In these conditions it's easy to lose your reason but it didn't take me long to choose the safe route back. I had already gone about a half mile without a clear path but this was surely the end of the line.

So I turned around thinking that it was all for the best. I began justifying my decision because of my pride. It's hard to let go of a goal you just put three and a half hours climbing toward. I thought to myself, "I wasn't ready anyway. Over twenty miles was too much anyways, right?" But even though I was slightly bummed out I knew that I would have been crazy stupid to have continued. The trail I had meant to take followed along the crest of the mountain and would surely be very dangerous to pass without the right equipment.

But as I started down, I though to myself about the mileage and I began thinking that I was actually running more returning the same way I came. The second half of the trip after the lake wasn't a long as the first half. In fact, it was about 3 miles shorter. Had I taken the route I intended I would have run about 23 miles. Going back this way I was about to run a full marathon's distance.

So now I'm thinking, well, so much for Karma protecting me from taking on too much of a task. Instead, I'm being forced to run far more than I was already nervous about running. Today it would seem that logic and reason saved me from a big mistake. Nothing mystical today, although I will fully admit I've had moments where I've been very lucky and would swear someone is looking out for me, today was not one of those moments. Or was it?

When I got back and looked at the map I discovered I was less than a quarter mile from the lake. Had I reached the lake I honestly believe I would have pushed further and tried to go over the plateau. That would have been a huge mistake with potentially dangerous if not deadly consequences. Losing the trail ended up being the best thing that could have happened. Maybe I might have turned around later. I'd like to think that I'd never put myself in a life threatening position but you never know. What if I had made it up there and then added on another couple miles before I was forced to turn around? Then my trip back would have been even more difficult. As it was I still had to run very narrow trails with vertical drops of hundreds of feet all the way back. I read that each year people die on this trail because the fall of the edges. The longer I run, the more fatigued I get and the more I trip, stumble and fall.

These are the things I think about as I turn around. And then I say to myself, someone's looking out for me. Cause sometimes I'm just not that smart to make the right choice.

So in the end I ran for 5 hours and 10 minutes and covered ~26 miles. The weather stuck and I was very cold when I finished. Overall my legs felt really good and was happy with the hour and a half jump in total time run for my weekend long run.

On a side note, the web site Portland Oregon's Hiking Network claims that what I ran today was a 4 day 3 night hike. Now I love saying this and love that I did this in just 5 hours 10 minutes, but really, 4 days? That means you're hiking just 6.5 miles a day. Even if you were crawling at 2 miles an hour, you'd be done you daily requirement in just over 3 hours. What are you doing with the rest of your day?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Carson City 6 miles

Current Mile total: 134 miles

Workout tonight. Back from my trip to NC where I visited with family. A few fun days away from running but it's back to the training. Tonight's workout was 6 minutes x 2, 4 minutes x 2 and 2 minutes x 2. I tried increasing my pace each time and overall felt good. The weather however conspired to make it miserable. The rain came down really hard for the last 10 minute of the run.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Eagle Creek 18 miles

Current Mile total: 128 miles

"Hardcore. I like it."

That's the greeting I got while passing a hiker while running Eagle Creek.
Let's face it, that's a big reason why we do this. Because it's hardcore. Because it's impressive and we get the bragging rights. No? Come on, admit it ultra runners. We like the idea that we're doing something that most people think is insanely tough. It certainly doesn't make me feel bad about myself when I get a comment like that. No worries. I'll trip and fall a few feet later and my ego will be humbled right back to reality.

And it's only part of why I like ultra running. The big reason I keep coming back is not for the glory of it. It's for days like today. Today's run was Awe....some. I'm talking a Chris Farley and David Spade, a deer just completely destroyed your 1967 fully restored Plymouth GTX convertible, level of awesome. Eagle Creek is a never ending scenic route that continues to raise the ante as the miles add up.

You start out at where the river is flat, right off the highway, then work your way up. Admittedly this is not a tough trail to run. And at first it's heavily trafficked which is understandable. Anybody whose not at Multnomah Falls is going to be here.

The trail is essentially a ledge that clings to the side of a ravine that has been carved out by the creek. The further you get up into it the deeper the ravine seems to get. There are a couple bridges that move you from one side of the ravine to the other but for the magority of the trail you're on the eastern side of the creek.

As I said, the trail is heavily trafficked. There were lots of boy scouts in seperate groups headed up for a night of camping. Those poor kids were lugging large backpacks and it mad me think that although I was srunning, I was the lucky one. There were also people carrying kayaks up the trail so that they could ride the rapids down.

Many times on the trail the ravine rises above you and you get water that drips down over you. Not quite a waterfall but it was a nice effect. There were also places that were so narrow and high up that there needed to be a safety rail to hold onto. It was made out of very thick steel cable that was bolted right into the rock face. Of course running didn't really allow for holding it. As I passed these part I just kept thinking about my tendency to trip all the time. Doing that here would most likely result in death.

Eventually I came upon punchbowl falls and which was beautiful but I passed it up without taking pictures as I wanted to focus on the workout.

The real sight to see was about 6 miles out. What a sight it was. Tunnel Falls. You come around a corner and suddenly you see ahead of you a 175 ft tall falls. It's so pretty but then you realize the best part. The trail you're running is going to go right under it. Not only under it, but you have to go through a cave. I was grinning ear to ear as I ran through this but still I waited to take my pictures.

Next sight was Twister Falls. The name makes sense when you look down the shoot and see how the was twists down the falls. This was the last real good sight to see and the creek slowed down and the trail got more dense. Eventually I came to the intersection of Eagle Creek and Tanner. I made the mistake of trying Tanner and will not be making that again. The trail just got too overgrown. So much so that I was concerned that Hansel may have to leave some breadcrumbs to find his way back. And for the life of me, I almost did.

As I was pushing aside a downed tree it swung back and brushed my head. I heard it hit my hearing aid and my heart stopped. I raised my hand and felt for it. Nothing. My heart dropped out of my chest. I was now thinking, did I just lose it or has it been gone for a while. As calmly as I could, I walked back over to the suspect branch thinking of the $3000 bill I'd have if I didn't find it. I can't imagine what the odds of me finding it were but within 15 secs I spotted it and sighed a breath of relief. I put the baha in my pocket and zipped it up. I think I'll not be running with this is the future. So on I went through the brush, over a couple streams until I came upon a third that seemed too risky to pass. For the second week in a row I was forced to turn around by mother nature. But it was best as the run went just as long as I wanted and I was sufficiently wasted upon the finish.

Overall the run was great. I ran really well, the weather was great and I got another 18 mile sunder my belt.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

City of Carson 8.5 miles

Current Mile total: 110 miles

What was that? Did that just happen?
I can hear Bill Bowerman say "the point of deepest penetration." Since I saw the movie Without Limits and then read the book Bill Bowerman and the Men of Oregon I have technically understood this concept but never really been able to put it into practice. Last Sunday during my recovery run I experienced just a touch of it as I ran swifly downhill and I remember thinking to myself "is this how it works?" And today on my last mile of my 6 x 1 workout I fully grasped the concept.

SO the concept is basically that if you rotate you hips forward you decrease the amount of resistance your legs experience and can lift them forward easier. Bill Bowerman explains this concept to Steve Prefontane by using the example, "you know, like the point of deepest penetration." It sounds easy but to run that way never really made sense. But as I said, while running downhill on Sunday, I recognized something I do just naturally while running downhill. I have always been able to run very fast downhill and now I'm beginning to wonder if my poor skiing habits actually turned out to be good running habits. In skiing you're suppose to lean downhill, but I was always timid and lean backward. Ok, I was scared and leaned backward on my skiis. Well, turns out, that trait while bad for skiing allows me to move faster downhill. As I said, I recognized this on Sunday and thought that I should apply it later on only to forget. Well, today I remembered and shazam. I ran much faster with a lot less effort.

So tonight was a 6 x 1 workout. Six repeats of one mile with just a minute of rest in between each. I warmed up with a mile and a quarter and started at the road's 2 mile marker. Here was my breakdown.

mile 1 7:20 (all flat, went out a little fast, still not really warmed up, finished out of breath)
mile 2 7:30 (mostly flat ending with slight incline, picked more appropriate pace finished feeling ok )
mile 3 8:00 (all up hill, finished out of breath but finished strong)
turned around here
mile 4 7:00 (all downhill, ran easily not pushing but kept good pace, finished feeling ok)
mile 5 7:20 (slightly downhill to start, finished flat, finished feeling good and)
mile 6 6:45 (all flat, figured out new technique, finished feeling great )

It's such a weird way to run actually. It almost feels like you're leaning backward and logically that doesn't sound like it would work. I mean i've always thought that if you lean forward your body would just use gravity and momentum to generate forward speed. Leaning back seems so contrary to that. It kinda like your legs just get out in front of you. Kinda hard to explain, all I know is that this guy just went a heck of a lot faster tonight(admittedly it's not that fast, just faster for me).

SO hat's off to you Mr. Bowerman. I think I figured it out. It was a great workout night and I even saw some more deer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

City of Carson 11.5 miles

Current Mile total: 101.5 miles

I've got my auto-pilot back. Yup. There's that great feeling a runner gets once they've reached a certain level of training where it just seems that you could go on forever without much though or effort. I've finally reached that level. Of course I can't go on forever but tonight was a good run that gave me a lot of confidence in where I'm at. It was just my boring Tuesday road run to add on the miles but it seemed very easy. Especially after a big increase in miles last week.

And look, yay, my first hundred miles recorded. Hopefully that will go up by a hundred every other week or so from here on out.

Tonight's run did have some highlights too. On the way out I saw a field that had nearly twenty deer grazing. It almost looked like someone was raising them in a farm. As I ran by them they seemed to be just as interested in me as I was in them. On the way back I also so in a different spoke two deer on the side of the road quickly jump into the forest.

It looks as though my coming weekend may be a difficult one to get in miles as the mountains around here all got some snow in the upper parts. Hopefully it will warm up and melt that off real quick before the weekend arrives.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pacific Crest Trail Near Panther Creek Washington 7.5 miles

Current Mile total: 90 miles

Google Earth, you suck. Let me rephrase, cause I love Google Earth. Google Earth, you're wrong. You're terribly wrong and you don't know how to measure trails. At least that's my view and I'm going to stick with it.

I knew I'd forget something when I moved down to the Gorge. Of all things I forgot my garmin forerunner. Now, when I want to know a distance I've run I have to use Google Earth to calculate my runs. I figured it would be somewhat accurate but after today's run I can be sure it's not. Why? Because it claims I ran only 2.3 miles in 24 minutes. That's over a ten minute mile. Now if I was climbing a hill I could believe that but I was returning from an out and back on the PCT and it was all down hill. And I was moving fast. Well, fast for me. And fast for a recovery run. I figure I was doing somewhere between a 6 and a 7 minute mile. EASILY. There's just no way I was running a 10 minute mile downhill. SO... now I have to questimate all my trail runs. I know the road calculations are somewhat accurate so it must be that there's no way for Google Earth to account for all the many twists and turns in the trail as well as the elevation gain's effect on distance.

At any rate, it now makes me question how much I ran yesterday and other days since using this method. But that's good too. In a way, Google Earth is helping me. If I think I'm running less than I am I will eventually get aclimated to running longer distances. If I think I only ran 13.5 miles yesterday but really ran 16-17 miles than when I get up into the 20s I might be closer to 30s. It will be a real psychological edge to my training. I take it back Google Earth. You were just trying to help me. Thanks buddy.

Anyways, today I ran a recovery run. What a lousy day to be out. It was cold and raining really hard. I ran out for 40 minutes and most of it was uphill. Slow going for some really tired legs. But by the time I reached the top it seemed my legs had shaken out most of the stiffness. Unlike yesterday I did not take it easy coming down. As I said, it was cold and raining and I was soaked to the core so I decided to pick up the pace. I didn't go crazy and apply any effort I just let the gravity take me down. There was also a nice headwind(depending on which switchback you were on) and that certainly helped my pace.

The only other notable thing would be the carnage on the trail. There were spots on the trail that were completely impassable and I needed to either climb over large trees or completely find another route.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pacific Crest Trail 13.5 miles

Current Mile total: 82.5 miles

I didn't think I was going to get this run in today. Yesterday Jenn and I were scheduled to pick up her first sampling of fish. Originally the barge was supposed to get to the Dalles at about 4 pm on Friday but it didn't arrive until 7. After a very stressful race to get there on time due to a closed road and then having to wait for a bridge closure we arrive within minutes of the barge entering the lock. We got our equipment on the barge and the waiting began. The barge traveled at a frightening 8mph pace so the trip back to the Bonneville Dam took about 6 and a half hours. We got off the barge at 1:30, delivered her fish to the research facility and headed home. Because we had been in a rush we hadn't managed to get dinner before we left. We ended up eating at 3 in the morning. I had determined then that I would not be running the next day.

But as this go, we slept in and when I awoke I felt good. We then drove back to the Dalles to retrieve Jenn's car. On the way back I stopped at Shortt Supply, a running store in Hood River, and bought myself some recovery formula and some GU Chomps(I would discover later that these chomps are not good, at least not the strawberry flavor, bleck).

I got back about 1:30 and had a good meal of eggs and harshbrowns, my favorite pre-run meal. I know my stomach can handle this when running so I've not tried other meals as of yet. I hit the trail head at just a few minutes past 2 oclock. It was a little late in the day to be starting but I felt good and hit the trail. The PCT starts on the Oregon side of the Columbia River right at the Bridge of the Gods. Hikers who want to continue north must walk across this bridge with the traffic. Once you enter the trail head at the bridge it takes you underneath the I-84 highway and up a road a hundred meters or so before the real trail begins.

The trail starts out remarkable easy with nothing but rolling hills with a gentle incline. My breathing is easy and I begin to think the this PCT is made for novices. There's nearly no one on the trail as I go up. I only see a father and daughter right in the begining and then a couple ladies a mile further up. Aside from that the trail is mine until I return to the bottom with about a mile to go. As I said, the trail was easy to begin with and it just gradually climbed up. I came upon some rock formations that were pretty interesting and diverged from the trail for a few minutes. Up I continued until I reached a small falls. It would really be the only other interesting thing to photograph for the rest of the way. For a tourist/sutterbug, this trail is LACKING. I mean it's beautiful, but compared to the other scenic trails in the area this trail is a real bore. Which would easily explain why I had the trail to myself.

But for a runner, the trail was perfect. Dispite its lack of comparitive scenery I'm sure I'l return to this trail. In so many waays its a great trail for running. The ease of the beginning allows you to warm up while still making upward progress. The trail is clear of debri and has little rocks which makes for a soft pine/dirt trail. It is not dry and dusty nor is it wet and mudy, but rather the pefect medium that allows for swift running without mess.

Within about 45 minutes I started getting out of the tree line to an exposed area with a great view of the Columbia River.

So far it seemed to me this trail was going to be a cake walk but I knew it had to get harder eventually as I could see above me what I needed to climb. It was right about the time that I passed through these creepy trees that the real climb began. Almost as if the trees were a warning to novice hikers/runners.
From here on up the trail never relented. Up and up and up. The grade was really tough and eventually I did break so I had to hike instead of run. From below I had seen lots of snow and had wondered if I would come across any. I did finally come across some but it didn't effect the running. Yet. At this point I was checking my camera's clock (Jenn had taken my watch for research) because I had wanted to turn around at about 2 and fifteen minutes. Right about 2 hours in to the run I finally came to the crest of the mountain. From here on out the trail stays on the crest for many miles. It got a lot colder once I did even though I was still within the trees. It also was the end of the really tough climb although I could see there was still some more climb just up ahead. So I pressed on with the intent of running for just fifteen more minutes. And I got maybe ten. End of the road for me. The snow, which had mad its appearance here and there finally arrived and stopped my progress. I probably could have continued if I was carefull but I would ahve to move very slow and with just minutes before I turned around it didn't seem worth it to risk getting wet, slipping and falling(far) just to make up 5 minutes. So I turned around.

The way back down of course was simple, but instead of running down like a jackass, as I normally do, I decided to go relatively slow. My longest run this season has been about 2:15 and this run would be at least 3 hours. It was a big jump and on a tough trail. I was glad I did take it easy because the run ended up being about 3:20 minutes long and I was completely spent by the time I finished.

I'm hoping that the snow melts soon off the top as this was the perfect trail run. This trail goes until Mexico so can get as many miles as I need with it but until the snow melts I'm left with only 13.5 available to me.

On a side note; I had to run without Penny today because Jenn was working and Cody doesn't do Alone. It was a bummer to run without her but maybe next week.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

City of Carson 5 miles

Current Mile total: 69 miles

Tonight was just another boring run trying to put miles under the belt so to speak. I just ran around the city again. Some hills involved this time but nothing too difficult. I was supposed to do 6 miles tonight but I only got 5 in. I still don't know the area well enough and I underestimated my distance. I ran for 45 minutes which means my speed is pretty slow. Regardless, my legs felt OK and I think I'm beginning to get a good foundation going. I'll be headed out on the trails again this weekend with my camera but I haven't decided which trial to take. I kinda want to explore the same trail again but considering there are a limited number a days I'll be able to get out there and more trails than days, I might have to try another one. The ran is now back so it looks like I might be out there getting wet tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

City of Carson 10 miles

Current Mile total: 64 miles

Nothing crazy tonight. Not even fun really. Just putting miles down on the road. I ran out of the house up the road for forty-five minutes and back. For the most part it was flat as a board. I took it real slow focusing more on the time running instead of the speed and distance. I wanted to run for a hour and a half and was able to get in 10 miles total. I'm exhausted and my legs felt really stiff from Sunday's run. I really should be running Saturday's with a recovery run on Sunday so I'm in better shape for my Tuesday and Thursday runs. It was also relatively hot today with temperatures somewhere in the 70s. It was my first real warm weather run. Considering just last week the same run was done in near freezing weather it's was a tough jump.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Multnomah falls ~10 miles

Current Mile total: 54 miles

Today was my first trail run at the Gorge and it didn't disappoint. Multnomah Falls is a very touristy place to go because its such a beautiful attraction but all you need to do is go a mile in and you're alone. The tourist don't go very far on the trail because it's just too steep and let's face it, they're tourist.

I ran with Penny which will hopefully be one of many times over the next few months. The trails doesn't start off easily. The falls are 620 ft high and you basically climb that distance in the first mile. Up you go. It's a paved trail until you reach the top and then it's all wilderness. It was tough not to stop and take pictures every few feet because I the trail follows the creek all the way.

After about 55 minutes I came to a crossroads and it appeared I was moving away from the creek so I turned back so I could take an alternate route I had passed. This path ran up high and went around to a southern part of the mountain where it was warmer and drier.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

City of Carson 6 miles

Current Mile total: 44 miles

Tonight was Andy's pyramid workout. I "warmed-up" with just a mile and then started the workout. I use the quotes because it was cold today. It must have been no more than 35 degrees and raining. It was 200 meters at 10k, 200 jog, 400 at 10k, 400 jog, 600 at 10k, 600 jog, 800 at 10k, 800 jog and then back down 600, 600, 400, 400, 200, 200. Starting off it was only slightly raining but by the end it was so strong it was stinging. I also wasn't on a track and was only guessing at my lengths and I'm sure that I was going too long. I basically decided that instead of lengths I would run times.

Simply put. What a miserable run.
But that's ok, the weekend is coming.