Friday, December 26, 2008

Over 50 mile training week

It has been a long time since I did it last, but I pushed over a 50-mile week in my run today.

Today, I ran from Newhall to Canyon Country, over Whites Canyon Pass, up Copper Hill Drive, through the riverbed and past the mall for a return home. This was strictly a road run; all the trails are too muddy. At 13 miles a high school running group passed me and I kept up at a sub 7:00 pace for a mile or two, but then had to stop because I was about to pass a planned stop for water and food. What blasted fun!

The shin splints and swollen ankle won't go away, but hopefully it isn't too serious.


The stretch along the Santa Clara River is ghastly ugly -- the running trail is just a sidewalk along Soledad Canyon Highway, a grimy cross-town roadway. The City's running trail then forces you to cross at a cross-walk near the bowling alley, which I don't do and just continue on the sidewalk. The ascent up White's Canyon is no more attractive, but things improve on the downhill from the pass.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Signed up for first 100

Here, I've signed up for my first 100.

Well, it is only a 100K but it is a start. It is the same race ran in December 2008, the OC Twin Peaks 50K, but doubled somehow. I was in excellent condition at my 50K finish, except for mild hypothermia, as well as my three 50M finishes in 2008, so I am optimistic. And, my marathon time in October 2008 was personal best by 20 minutes.

My spinal injury continues to afflict me but doesn't seem to change with the running. Just painful whether running or sitting, so I might as well be running.

I've been out this week running long distances, 20M yesterday and 14M today, trying to recover from the twisted ankle suffered in the December 50K below. My ankle is getting worse before it is getting better, but as long as run straight it doesn't affect my performance.

Running this week has been slogging through heavy and frosted mud, slipping and sliding along the trails. We've been experiencing very cold conditions for Southern California, and I've been hitting the trailheads at below 32 degrees. I've been running through areas where it has snowed but the snow has melted into mud.

My favorite runs this week have been from my house up East Canyon, to the top of Newhall Pass, and back home. Also, from my home through Towsley Canyon. Modest elevation gains, less than 2000 feet. I'll be returning soon to Whitney Canyon and the Nike Base ascent.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The OC's Twin Peaks 50K -- 6:56:45 and 11th Place Overall


Casey and I ran the OC's Twin Peaks 50K on December 13, 2008. Casey picked this as his first ultrathon.

Thanks to Jessica for putting on a great race despite the terrible weather. The weather made it fun, the threat of missing aid stations challenging. (At one aid station, I was told to "prepare" for the fact the next aid station might be missing. I prepared by drinking more water. I thought about eating more food but didn't want to get too far behind the three runners who left the aid station, whom I quickly passed.)

We started at 6:30 a.m. The 50K runners started at different times, 6:00 a.m., 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. My start time was 7:30 but I elected to start with Casey at 6:30. As a consequence I was running with first-time ultrathonners.

It wasn't quite sunrise when we started. The weather was moderate, in the mid-50s, so I elected to run in summer running attire.

The leg to the first aid station was an immediate ascent. Following my normal pattern I never study the course in advance, so the immediate climb of the first peak was a big surprise. The first aid station was near the first peak; a long ascent. To my surprise, I was the first in our running group pulling into the aid station, although Casey was ahead of me all the way to the peak itself. I made up time on the small downhill right before the aid station. But, leaving the aid station, another runner beat me out of it and I could never catch up to him. I dropped Casey running out of the first aid station.

Eventually, one more runner from my group passed me near Santiago Peak.

After the first aid station I started to pass some 6:00 a.m. starters.

By far the greatest part of the run was the descent down the 4-mile single track known as West Horsethief. This was a challenging rock-strewn twisting descent; I couldn't quite barrel down this one. The ascent up the single track known as Holy Jim right after the descent was a whole lot of fun; I passed several racers from the 6:00 a.m. departure on this climb as well as about 30 hikers. This was a beautiful ascent; it then hooked into a fire road three miles below Santiago Peak.

There's an aid station right at this connection to the fire road. One guy standing there; it looked like he had just arrived. I begged for a trash bag and I felt lots better in the cold rain. I should have dressed for cold weather It was really cold at this aid station and I was looking at a three-mile ascent to the peak.

At Santiago Peak the fog, rain and clouds obscured vision so much it was often difficult to see the path right in front of me. The aid station volunteer looked like she had just arrived as well; she was pulling stuff out of the camper shell in her pickup truck and it wasn't a lot of stuff.

The wind and rain were roaring. The wind was screaming through the communication towers on the top of Santiago Peak; we ran right below the towers.

On the descent out of Santiago Peak I saw Casey on the out and back. He was only about 40 minutes behind. He was looking great but he was walking with some other walkers. (I had made the entire ascent of Santiago Peak running; it wasn't easy but I was afraid of hypothermia and thought that if my pulse rate dropped I might get too cold. If I kept eating and running I thought I'd be OK.)

In the poor weather I missed a turn and added almost two miles and 20 minutes to my run. I was pretty unhappy when some experienced Twin Peaks runners about an hour behind me were telling me that I was on the wrong descent.

I finally rejoined the right trail and booked it for the really long downhill back to the start. The descent from the last aid station was a seven-mile downhill on a fire road. I was in heaven. Trail wasn't too rugged so I could really lay it out. Not too hard, warming up a little, even a little sunshine.

Here are the results; second in my age class.

At the bottom, I waited for hours and Casey finally arrived by truck. In the poor weather when he saw me wearing my trash bag on the out and back, he asked for one as well, but instead of my see-through bag he got a black one. It hid his bib and so the race directors guided him into the 50-mile route. He was ten miles into it when an aid station alerted him to the fact, and since the last 20 miles of the 50 is a re-ascent of one of the peaks he wasn't prepared for, he caught a ride back.

Once again, as I have done my last three races, I had twisted my ankle and taken a bloody header, with folks up and down the line commenting on it and trying to help.

I spent an hour talking with Andy Salinger, an avid reader of brother Dave's blog. Andy had come in second place, was a 7:30 starter, and actually passed me near the finish. Three 7:30 starters passed me. Andy knew Dave's 2008 runs far better than I did, and I had run a couple of them. Andy said that Twin Peaks was quite a run to use for a beginner.

Dave's friend Jim Skaggs DNF'd on the 50M. I heard that he had stopped to help somebody in a car accident up near Santiago on the fire road.

One week later my ankle is still bruised and swollen. It also took me about five days to recover from the effects of hypothermia. It was worse than I had thought. I had experienced the same symptoms in two prior runs where I got too cold -- several days of feeling like I couldn't warm up and feeling a little ill.

It seems the 2009 Twin Peaks Ultra will be run in its normal month February, and it is offering a 100K. Hmm. If I want to tackle the 100M Big Horn I might want to do this one.