Saturday, May 25, 2013

Selway Wilderness

The mighty Selway River Canyon with the Fog mountains to the North.  

Brandi, Katie, Molly and I took a trip to the Selway River Wilderness near Lowell, ID.  They did a 3 day out- and-back to Moose Creek Ranger Station and I did day trips from a base camp at the Race Creek trailhead.  Temps ranged from hot and humid to cool/drizzly and humid.    I saw eagles, bears, snakes and rafters.  I ran all day and had every evening to fish and meditate on the looming race season.  The running was top notch and a fantastic simulator for Western.

It was great to be able to go from the bottom of the canyons at 1700' to the mountain ridges above at nearly 7000' in one run.  I managed a memorable back-to-back effort of 29 miles in the Selway River corridor one day with a steady 9 min pace, then 25 miles the next day with 12.5 mi up to the Indian Hills Lookout (5000+' gain) at high 9 min pace on the climb and an up tempo effort the entire way down (around 6 min pace) for a truly quad-destroying day.  This kind of workout will be key for the 15+ mile downhill sections of WS100.  I finally feel like my body is responding to the training.  In this mode, my body seems to gain from each session.  This was the feeling I had before Cascade Crest last year.

Classic "chicks on the trail" pose.

The Selway River Trail undulates from on the water, to several hundred feet above the water.  Overall, the footing is really solid and soft on the feet (compared to the techy McCall trails).  

Bridge over the Selway (troubled waters) near Three Links Creek.

Outfitter camp misc. antler pile on the Mink Peak Trail.

Super cool rafter dudes- Mike, Mike, Kevin and Rick enjoying their lucky draw of a permit to run the Selway.  Thanks for the Coors Banquet Beer.   A nice pick me up when you are 20 miles into a 30 mile run.

The Idaho mountains are melting and the rivers are raging.  

Indian Hill Lookout- a 5000+' climb from the bottom of the canyon.

View from Indian Hill, deep into the Selway Wilderness.  When you look out there, you can appreciate that the Selway is a "Capital Dub-Ya" Wilderness.  Nothing disturbed by the hands of man for many miles.

Obligatory Selway Falls shot.  Absolutely deadly whitewater.

Meadow Creek beaver dam.  This place really reminded me of Rapid River.

"Pacific Rain Forest" holds lots of interesting creatures and plants.

Group photo on the way out at Selway Falls.

Volume, vert, quality, inspiration...this week was lacking in nothing.  Very happy to get all this into 17:25, especially with the miles of snow and bushwhack in there.  Throw those 15-25 min miles out and you have a pretty fast 100+ miles of training.  My most complete week ever.  This week even had one day off and one day with just 5 easy miles.  Now, I take a few days off and allow the work to absorb, before making the final push to my peak.  Feeling very fluid and hungry to compete.  T-minus 5 weeks.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Playing Ketchup...Leona 50K and Cali Training, fun in the McCall highcountry


Dec 2012: Exhausted from Pinhoti 100, I rest then ramp up quickly to train for Badera in January 2013.  I quickly lock in achilles tendonitis, shin splints and a calf tear.

Late Jan 2013 to April 2013:  I get back to training- pretty much just jogging with not a single run pain free.  What little quality work I did was paid for with weeks of crushing shin pain.  This has been the exact pattern since I started training in 2011.  I managed it much better this year than before and made steady gains on building the base, but still far from what I know I am capable of.

April 2013:  Signs of life...but still unable to enjoy any running.  By not enjoying running, I mean that every step I take is consumed with thoughts of the pain in my shins.  I never get to let my mind wander and dream and be fueled by my passions and ambitions.

April 22-28: I took a break before Leona 50K to rest my shins and prepare for the immense amount of work to put in after the race on the Western States 100 course.

April 27: Leona Divide 50K.  I took off hard with the 50 milers hell bent on a Western States spot and a few  50 K'ers including my pal Yassine and a strong ultra newby named Eric Schulte.  We talked and enjoyed the early miles, but the pace was fast and the day heated up quickly.  I pushed the smooth downhill to the mile 16 aid feeling really strong, but when I began the climb up the biggest hill of the day to the mile 20 turnaround, I knew I was going to suffer.  My legs cramped terribly and I was unable to run the hill at all.  The early speedy miles had crippled me.  I had a bit of a lead, but I knew if I was challenged by Yassine, I was toast.  I made the top of the hill and the turnaround with several stops to stretch my hamstrings and calves.  Within a quarter mile of the turn, I passed Yassine, which meant my lead was only a few minutes.  With 10 miles to go, I knew my condition would have to improve for me to get the W.  I pushed hard down the hill, but my rhythm was constantly broken by the conga line of runners coming up the hill.  Twice, I ran into other runners on tight corners on the steep hill.  One guy stepped off the trail and turned sideways, only to have a giant backpack hanging over the trail.  I hit his pack and flew sideways, straining my left hip to stay upright.  From that point on, I was limpy going down the hill.  The hip felt unstable and the glute muscles supporting it were in knots.  By the next aid at the bottom of the hill, I could see Yassine right behind me.  He passed smoothly on the next 4 mile uphill and was quickly gone.  I continually stopped and stretched and rubbed my hip.  Finally, I reached the top at around mile 28 and just had 3 miles of down to go.  All form was lost and I staggered downward as my legs failed in various ways.  The temperature was around 92 and I was nauseous and felt my brain boiling.  Soon it was all over and I was sitting in the shade and enjoying the butt-kicking day of racing I had put it.  The race was well directed and the atmosphere at the finish line was great.  Good food and drinks, lots of friends to talk to and most everyone stuck around to watch the 50 milers come through in the soaring heat.  I was VERY glad to not be running 50 miles that day.

April 28-May 5:  I drove straight to Auburn, CA and got to work on the Western States course.  I was really sore the first couple of days and the effects of the cramping and heat from Leona made me feel really slow.  I still ran 20-32 miles every day on various parts of the course.  One day, I bumped into my SCOTT teammate Meghan Arboghast and Scott Wolfe and they invited me to their Michigan Bluff training camp house.  I showed up the next night and they treated me to swordfish steaks and quinoa, lots of Pepsi and the only shower I would take during my trip.  I also got to meet their friends Casey and Myles and the WS100 Race Director Lord Balls Craig Thornley.  Just what I needed after all those days on the road, trails and living in my truck.  After this, I felt refreshed and put in some good, intense efforts in the lower canyons.  After Leona, the 90 degree heat was NO ISSUE.  The hip was still feeling unstable, the shins were achy, but seemed to be recovering faster.  I put in 107 miles and 25+'K of vertical and felt stronger with every run I did.  This was very taxing, coming straight off the Leona Race.  I was glad to pull this off.  May 5th, I turned 34 years old.

May 6- May 19:  A huge heat wave hit Idaho and when I returned, the landscape was very different than when I left.  My trails were melting out so quickly.  Plus, I was running shirtless at temps above 75 F.  Crazy for early May in McCall.  Finally, the shins pain was allowing me to do some quality training.  As usual, I did mostly unstructured fartlek style bursts.  Maybe in a 15 mile run, I will encounter 2 steep hills that I like to track my time.  I use the 13 filler miles to cruise and then challenge the steeps.  I have been amazed to see my PR's from last year fall so easily and completely.  As soon as the shins allowed it, the power flowed so naturally.  Perfect timing.  When I left for Leona, each hill was a real grunt.  Very high heartrate, sweating, panting, etc.  In short, I was not in racing shape.  Now, different story.  I am feeling the true flow of my running for the first time since last autumn.  My mind is free to wander and daydream.  After months of suffering, it is bliss.  After returning home, I took a recovery week of 50 miles, then 80 miles this past week.  Next up is a trip to the Selway Wilderness for some high mileage.

Duncan Canyon bears

My fuel for Leona 50K.  12 VFuels.  5 in each clear flask and one each dissolved in water in the yellow flasks for my drop bag.  I used only the 10 gels in the clear flasks for my fuel + 2 Vespas.  

Western States course. Last Chance mining equipment.  Really cool stuff strewn about in that forest.

WS100- headed for Robinson Flat.

Swinging Bridge at bottom of Last Chance hill before you climb the Devil's Thumb.

Michigan Bluff rental home.  The front yard houses the big aid station at mile 55 of WS100.

Eldorado Creek

Back in Idaho.  Still lots of snow above 6K'

After my new PR on the Goose Creek hill.  9:17 for 1.1 mile with about 700' gain.

Goose Creek bridge.

Brundage Reservoir 6400'

Log bridge over Goose Creek built by the CIMBA bikers.   Nicely done.

AND FINALLY...Still think there are no roids in ultrarunning?  At Leona, when I got back to my bag at the finish line staging area, this empty packet of juice was laying beside my bag.  Hopefully, it belonged to someone who is not competitive, in his 70's who really needs the stuff to survive.  For some reason, I don't believe this is the case.