Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mt. Wilson 28 miles

I ran up Mt Wilson via Echo Mountain and the Mt Lowe railway this morning and tacked on  a few extra miles by heading down the toll road from the top, until the GPS read 14 miles, and then backtracked up to the summit spigot for water and on down.  This is my "safe route":   Pending getting a satellite pager, I am staying away from remote single track such as Idlehour, where I fractured my leg last year.  If anything were to happen in a place like Idlehour...well, I hit the jackpot last May with a fall and fracture alone with no cell phone reception and it was a long and rather memorable hike out.

It was an awesome run today.  28 miles, 6071 ft of climb, total run time 4:48.  Amazingly this is a good 30+ minutes faster than any of my 28 mile workouts over the last three years.  I chalk this up to core strength training-  an unanticipated benefit of the fracture rehabilitation.

I ran in my new Merrell Trail Glove 3s this morning and they were sooooo comfy.

Here is the GPC track:

The run started at dawn in a marine layer but by Echo Mountain, 2.6 miles in, I had broken through the clouds:
The views were stunning heading up the Mt. Lowe railway:

On the way back, around 22 miles into the run, a bit south of the trailhead that drops off the railway bed towards Tom Sloan Saddle, the marine layer had expanded..
View to the west towards Mt Lukens

View towards Inspiration Point

Cruising past the Idlehour trail junction I soon dropped into mist for the last few mies down into Altadena.  Just beautiful.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mt. Wilson 20 to top out a rest week

I hit the trail at 6:30am this morning for a power walk up Mt. Wilson/ run down, total time 4:06 for 19.5 miles to cap off a 55 mile week of relative rest.

I've been overdue for a power walk workout having focussed on moderate grade uphill running for the last three weeks, culminating in a fast-ish 26 miler in 4:28 last Sunday in the Verdugos.  That workout left me tight and sore, particularly  in the calves, for 2-3 days. My left calf in particular was a bit twitchy and I recognized from years past that it was time to slow down, use the foam roller and get the calf muscles sorted out.  By the end of the week the calves were feeling OK after a lot of foam rolling and deep tissue massage (self-administered) and a 10 mile uphill power walk was indicated to complete the muscle maintenance.

I started the run this morning under the  colorful bands of the dawn sky -- beautiful --  oddly enough the sky reminded me of images of Jupiter.  It was a humid, buggy walk up from Eaton Canyon Nature Center to the summit, which I completed in 2:47, a bit slow as I haven't done one of these power walks in a few weeks.   The run down was fast and everything felt solid, completing the round trip in 4:06.  

All told, 26 miles of the 55 miles total this week were walking.  It was a  needed rest to focus on muscle health.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Verdugos, 26 miles

The run plan today entailed 26 miles to round out a 60 mile week; and specifically, to  push on the uphills and see how fast I could run a 26 mile course on rolling hills.   I love running in the Verdugos because  the uphills are spread throughout any long run; unlike big runs in the front range of the San Gabriels, where the uphill is generally paid upfront with the back end of the run largely downhill, running the ridge line of the Verdugos gives a taste of extended climbs at relatively high mileage when I am feeling tired.  Great fitness training --plus the views are spectacular.

We lost an hour this morning with daylight savings, so I split the difference between physiological time and clock time, waking at 6am and getting out to the La Tuna Canyon trailhead for a predawn 7am start.  The run comprises a 3.3 mile climb to the ridge line, where I cache water; followed by a 6.2 mile largely downhill run to the west to a trailhead in Burbank; turnaround and run back uphill to the water cache; then run  largely downhill 3.5 miles to the west, turnaround and return to cache, finishing out with 3.3 miles down back to the trailhead:

I got my money's worth.  I held the same pace as on  last week's run up Mt. Wilson, completing the 26 mile course, with 5500 feet of climb,  in 4:28, much faster than comparable runs in the Verdugos last year;  but I certainly found my limits today.  I had to walk a fair bit of the last climb and felt vaguely nauseous for the final 10 miles.   My calves were sore from 7 min miles on the long downhill and by the end I was hurting.  It was warm and when I got home my weight was 150lbs;   I'd lost about 5 pounds despite having consumed about 8 pounds of fluid in the course of the run.  I think the  Spring Ultra Medical Team training I attended yesterday, which included a fascinating lecture on over hydration and its dangers,  was running in my mind!

I consumed no calories other than what is in Gu Fizz tabs during this run yet never felt hungry, so my metabolic efficiency is coming along well.

Here is are the pace and elevation charts for the run:

The GPS track and data are posted here:

Verdugos 26 mile course Mar 8, 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mt. Wilson via Echo Mountain, Mt Lowe Railway, 23.5 miles

The weather here in Pasadena has reverted back to winter this weekend, with a good rain Friday night and again last night.  It was predicted to rain this morning with the snow-line dropping to 3500 ft. So this morning I got up  early, packed a day pack with extra clothes, donned my Goretex-lined Merrell Ascend Gloves, and headed to the Lake Avenue trailhead of the Sam Merrill Trail to Echo Mountain for a 6:30am start, intending to run to Wilson summit for a 24 miler and enjoy the snow:


It was a beautiful morning!  Clear and cold, but no rain, just magnificent cloud walls over Los Angeles and the back range.  I fast hiked to Echo Mountain (2.7miles) and started running there on the traverse trail over to the Mt. Lowe railway.  I ran comfortably up to Markham saddle and took this photo looking east towards Mt Wilson and the Mt Baldy high country:

On through the Mueller tunnel and hit the Mt Wilson Road for the 2 mile run up to Wilson summit (11.75 miles, 2:25).   I was mindful of my footing as there were patches of ice on the road and it was COLD.   I picked up water at the faucet north of the summit snack bar and ran the return trip down after donning a windbreaker as my fingers had gone numb.

It was a fast run down and I felt solid the whole way;  total time was 4:06 despite the 4800 ft of climb and having walked the first 2.7 miles.   Wonderful morning!  Hip felt good as did the achilles; it felt to good to run reasonably fast.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Mt. Wilson 20 miler

This morning I got out early and did the walk-up/run-down workout up Mt Wilson, 19.5 miles by GPS from outside the Eaton Canyon  Nature center to the summit of Mt Wilson.

It was a beautiful morning with the air fresh and clean from a light rain that started yesterday afternoon and continued through last night.

I made good time up (2:45) and the round trip time of 4:03 is right on my race pace goal for the Angeles Crest.

I ran in my back-up pair of Merrell Ascend Gloves from 2013, the ones that I used primarily during the 2014 season.  These shoes last!  I tucked a liner in the shoes with a 4mm wedge in the heel for the walk up, then took this out for the run down.  The achilles felt good the whole way.

A little discomfort in the power walk up, the glutes and hamstring on the injured leg are still a bit weak. The run down was great, I feel like I am gaining strength, and managed just under 8 minute miles the whole way.

I feel like I owe a very big thank you to the orthopedic surgeon who screwed me back together after my fall last May.

View from the Mt Wison Toll Road running down this morning-  LA in the distance

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Review of Merrell Trail Glove 3: First impressions on Mt Wilson 18 miler

Last week Merrell announced its new Trail Glove 3.  I was excited about this and immediately ordered a pair which arrived yesterday.  This morning I tested them out on an 18 mile out and back  on the Mt Wilson Toll Road with 4000 feet of climb and descent.  The TG3s were great.

 Over the last two years I've run almost exclusively in Merrell's "barefoot"  Trail Glove-1 (for runs less than 20 miles) and the Ascend Glove (for runs > 20 miles).  These shoes are without doubt the most comfortable running shoes I've ever run in.   I haven't found another make that fits me quite right, accommodating my wide feet and enabling me to run light and comfortably over ultra distances without blisters.

I'd been concerned as Merrell's  barefoot line had been drying up of late-  the Ascend Glove was discontinued as were many of  the various  Trail Glove spinoffs.    I'd  recently bought a pair of the Bare Access Trail but found it to be more of a conventional shoe design that doesn't fit my feet right, being too narrow up in the toe box for my paws.

Enter the new Trail Glove 3.  Some observations:

1.  The construction materials and construction quality hail back to the Trail Glove 1:  Double stitching, same tough fabric; this bodes extremely well as I have found that my Trail Glove-1 uppers simply do not wear out (whereas the Ascend Glove upper is a thinner fabric which is a bit prone to tearing).  I have a pair of TG1s that I wear around as walking shoes after honorable service in ultra training and racing  of probably close to a thousand miles, with the vibram lugs worn smooth:  They are still excellent day-to-day walking shoes.  The uppers are in near perfect condition still.

2.  The Trail Glove 3 toe box is wide -- seems a bit wider and more flared than the TG1 in the same size and the fit is very close to my Ascend Gloves in size 11.5.

Trail Glove 1 to the left;  Ascend Glove, middle, Trail Glove-3 to the right.  All are Mens size 11.5; all are new and unused (the TG-1 and Ascend glove are from my closet stash).
3.  The TG3 lugs are more aggressive than the TG1 and 2, almost as deep as  the Ascend Glove.    This is great as I've found TG1to be a bit marginal on the sand and gravel on steep terrain that I encounter on long mountain runs in the San Gabriel Mountains.  The TG3s were great on the Wilson Toll Road this morning.

Outsoles for Trail Glove-1 (left); Ascend Glove (middle); Trail Glove-3 (right).  Note the arch protection  in the TG-3 at right, which is firmer than in the TG-1 at left.
4.  The sole is a bit thicker on Trail Glove3 than the TG1, very close to the Ascend Glove in terms of thickness and ground feel.  (Both TG3 and the Ascend Glove are specified at 10.5mm stack height).   I like this as I tend towards longer runs (15 to 30 miles on the weekends) and for me the Trail Glove-1 is a bit skinny for anything over 20 miles.   The rock protection was great on this morning's Mt Wilson run.

5.  The Trail Glove 3, like the TG1 and TG2, has a swatch of rubber that conforms to the arch to provide rock protection.  The material used in TG3 is firmer than the material used for TG1.  It was unexpectedly noticeable when first donning the TG3s but seemed to disappear when I started running.

All in all the Trail Glove 3 looks like a great shoe, which is intermediate in "armoring" between the Trail Glove 1 and the Ascend Glove.  I'll be using it for longish runs ~ 20 miles this season.  I am very happy that Merrell is sticking with the barefoot line.


Note added March 20:  The more I  run in the TG-3s the more I REALLY LOVE  these shoes.  Lace them up tight and they feel like running barefoot but without the stone bruises.  Just fantastic.
March 22:  28 miles on Mt Wilson, 6071 ft of climb;  4:48.  Felt great.  Feet were soooo comfy.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A new Merrell Trail Glove: Trail Glove 3....Yay!!

Wow, just yesterday I was moping about the apparent demise of Merrell's Trail Glove/ barefoot line...

This morning Merrell announced the Trail Glove 3:  It looks great, with a rock plate and burlier lugs.  I can't wait to try a pair.