Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day weekend: Capping 97 miles

I completed a 97 mile week today with my usual Mt Wilson Toll Road 20 mile workout:  Powerwalk up 10 miles to the summit (2:44), run down (20 miles total, 4:05).  I ran in my Trail Gloves and carried a lot of water;  however,  I found that the spigot at the summit was back on.  Thats good, lugging water for a 20 mile jaunt is a bit uncomfortable.

Yesterday I'd run 28.3 miles in the Verdugos, as I needed a break from the Mt. Wilson loop course I've been doing.  That's a great course but I've done it now 3 weeks in a row.  I started the Verdugos course before sunrise, power walking  up from La Tuna Canyon to the ridge top (3.3 miles) with a ton of water.  I made a water cache there, then ran out  east to Burbank (9.5 miles at the Burbank trailhead) and back to the water cache (15.7 miles).  Then ran west to a La Canada trailhead (20.2 miles at the turnaround) then back to the water cache and down for 28.2 miles in 5:23.  I did a lot of walking-- wherever the grade was ~10%, and because both achilles/hamstrings were tight and I had some pain.  I love this course since, running the ridge top, one gets a real sense of distance;  plus the fire road is largely a white decomposed granite so that the route is just sun soaked and one is bathed in light.  The views of the San Gabriels north is also just spectacular -  a real sense of grandeur on this route.  The only downside is that there is no water.  Here is the track for the route/the run:

The weekday running last week comprised 49 miles.  I did double workouts from Wednesday on, after I'd recovered from last weekend's training.  When I get into the double workout mode-  waking early to run, then running again at lunchtime, I feel cleared out.  Hard to describe but worth experiencing.

So far so good in this base building phase of my training; I'll keep this 90-100 mile week training load up for a couple more weeks, then take a down week to crew my pal Dale for the back half of  his solo RAAM bike race across America.  After RAAM, I'll resume 100 mile weeks and hopefully begin to work on speed if all goes well.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mt Wilson with extra water...

I topped off my training week this morning with my  old standard Mt Wilson route from Eaton Canyon (6am start), walk up the Mt Wilson Toll Road to the summit, and then run down, for 20 miles.  Given what I learned yesterday about the water spigots being taped  off as non-potable, and not having streams along the route,  I carried a lot of extra water this morning, not being sure how hot it might get.  It was a warm and humid inversion layer up to about 2500 feet and then clear and cool above that, so I didn't need the extra half gallon of water I had lugged up.  I hit the summit in 2:48-  a bit slow.    I  spent some time talking to a couple of ultra runners that came up while I was shaking out my socks.  Neither had heard about the Forest Service closing the spigots.  I topped both of these guys off with my extra water and then headed down for a 4:10 total run time. One of the guys had 1 steel water bottle; the other had 2 hand bottles and indicated he was heading down through Idlehour to Lake-  a 15 or 16 mile route depending on the path taken from the Idlehour trail junction with the Mt Lowe Railway bed.  Thats a long tough run for 2 water bottles.

Today I was carrying 2 hand bottles, 2 spares in a belt and a light pack with that extra half gallon.   I don't enjoy pain (much).  Something about pissing blood just doesn't appeal to me:   Here is a report I made last year of an experience I had  of what can happen   Not drinking enough-hematuria on a Mt Wilson run July 2013

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mt Wilson Loop again, hot and smoggy

This morning I hit the Sam Merrill Trailhead at Lake Ave at 6am to start the 28 mile Mt Wilson loop course.  I was carrying a new replacement water filter cartridge for my First Need filter, which last week I had discovered was cracked.  I had made that discovery  at Idlehour, 18 miles in with 10 miles to go.  (Some lessons are so good one just needs the occasional booster shot so to speak).

Today it was good thing I bought, and brought,  the new filter!  I got to the Mt Wilson summit and the spigots were red taped off and labelled "DANGER" .  Being dry I used an empty bottle to collect water from one spigot that was flowing although marked DANGER.  I used my First Need filter to pump this water and collected 2 bottles of clean water--  the First Need nominally filters down to 0.1microns, good enough for viruses.  (I thought it unlikely that the well was contaminated with Uranium...still, not knowing the contaminant I took the minimum).   I was able to fully reload later on the stream water at Idlehour.

The first part of the run was nice, the air was cool and clean. The smoke that had rolled up from San Diego yesterday had blown out overnight as the winds had shifted.  By midmorning  however, when I was climbing out of Idlehour, the wind had brought the wildfire smoke bad and it was a hot smoggy, chest-aching climb out of that canyon.

I was a bit vexed about the water situation at Wilson  as I had checked the ANF website on Thursday for water availability just two days before.  Ordinarily I would have simply assumed the water to be on at Wilson (as it has been, consistently, since as long as I can recall) and not bothered to check.  But I'd been getting a bit tired of this route and was considering a run to Red Box instead of Mt Wilson summit-  provided there was water available at Red Box.  However, the ANF website listed no water there.  I checked Skyline Park as a "control" and the ANF site listed  potable  water as available (which I believed--after all, it was on last week!).   So I decided to run to Wilson/Skyline Park and run the usual loop course down the Toll-Road and cut back to the Mt Lowe railbed via Idlehour.

What bugs me about all this is that as I was running down the Toll Road, there was a veritable queue of hikers heading up.  I feel bad for these folks, since its a good 7 to 10 miles up to Mt Wilson Skyline Park depending on the trailhead-  a bad day for these folks to find no water at the summit; and I doubt many of them were carrying filters.  Since ANF doesn't answer the phones on the weekend the only information available is via the website, which was carelessly not updated to reflect the water situation.

I just went to post the information about the Mt Wilson spigots being off to the AC100 Facebook page-  someone had already done it.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Merrell Trail Gloves on Mt Wilson, & How to train for a 100 miler on Mother's Day

After yesterday's 28 mile grinder on the Mt Wilson loop course, today's plan was a longish walk-up/run-down  recovery workout on the Mt Wilson Toll Road.  But I was conflicted since  today is Mother's Day:  How to get a long one in without leaving my wife alienated on her holiday,  watching the kids with me out playing in the mountains?  Yes, training for a 100 miler can be a highly self-absorbed enterprise...

The Plan:  After polling the kids (and their mom!), my son and I went shopping for my wife yesterday;  last night I armed each kid with a gift  with instructions to present said gift with a note to their mother when she woke up today.  As for me:  I got out early this morning and was on the trail by 5:40am.  While ordinarily this workout is 20 miles (to the summit and back),  today  I planned to cut the workout short at 16 miles and get home before my wife had been up long.

It all worked out!  The family slept in 'till 8:30;  I was home by 9:30am.

This afternoon my wife and I will go for a long hike (what she wanted for her Mother's day!).  As it happens ....this works for me!    The hike will round out my weekly mileage   :)

Training for a 100 miler can be a highly self-absorbed enterprise, its true;  its nice when it works out that it doesn't cut into the family life (much).

As for the run today:  This morning I broke out my Merrell Trail Gloves.  If you are not familiar with this shoe, its a fantastic minimalist shoe, zero-drop, with a thin vibram sole and a wide toe box;  basically a highly breathable moccasin with about 4mm of rubber between your foot and the trail.  Lately I have been doing my long runs in more heavily armored shoes with 3-to-6 mm heel-to-toe drop (like the Skechers GoBionic Trail, the Inov-8 TrailRoc 255,  and the Merrell Ascend Glove with an extra heel pad);  all to take the stress off my achilles on the uphills.  Et viola, my knees have been a bit sore...not bad, but unwelcome.  Today, wearing the Trail Gloves, zero knee pain.  The lack of armor on the Trail Glove forces care and attention to foot placement and good form.  It was a fabulous run and reminded me how much I love the Merrell Barefoot line.  I credit these shoes (and the improvement in running form they facilitate) for saving my knees.  Good thing:  I have a stash of 3 pairs of Trail Gloves "in service", plus 3 pairs more in reserve in my closet.  The darned things just don't wear out.  While my first pair of Trail Gloves wore out within 500 miles, since then, as my form has improved, it seems that the Trail Gloves last forever.  One pair I still run in has been my mainstay for in-week short-run mileage since the 2013 Leona Divide race -- I probably have about 1000 miles on that pair.  I have 2 pairs of Ascend Gloves "in service" (both were my high-mileage mainstays during the 2013 AC100 training and race) with 2 more pairs in the closet reserved for the race in August.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mt. Wilson Loop, 28 miles

This morning I awoke at 5am to tackle the Mt. Wilson Loop, 28 mile version, as the start of the next high mileage training cycle of my 2014 AC100 training season.  The plan for this week and the next two weeks is to run 75 miles, then 80-85 next week, and then take a step back to 70-ish, before starting the next (June) cycle.

Last week I was battling some kind of cold or flu bug and felt pretty run down.  Even small runs were leaving me sore and I felt pretty wiped out though to mid week.  So today the plan was to get up early, take it easy and run conservatively to bag the miles and not hurt myself in the process.

I started the run pre-dawn, power walking up the Sam Merrill trail through a marine layer  to Echo Mountain (2.5 miles) as a warm-up.  Starting to run as I transited from Echo Mountain to the Mt Lowe railway, I broke through the marine layer.  By this time the sun was up;  it was a spectacular view west to Mt Lukens:  I am so happy to be able to call this my back yard!

I made good time up to the Mueller tunnel and on up to Mt Wilson summit. There I took little water as it was quite chilly, and since I had brought my water filter and planned to pump water at the stream at Idlehour.  I was right on pace as I reached Idlehour and started pumping water.  As always, I put a drop of blue food coloring at the pump inlet to check the filter integrity:  Surprise, the filtered water came out slightly blue, the filter cartridge was broken!  Just last week I had met another ultrarunner on my Wilson walk up/run down workout, and he had relayed how a couple years ago he'd picked up giardia from drinking untreated water at Idlehour.   So I tossed the water and started the climb out of Idlehour canyon to complete the remaining 10 miles without having picked up any additional water.

In the next 3 miles I lost about 20-30 minutes off pace as I was running dry and climbing now in direct sun.  I'd eaten a Cliff bar and a Gu prior to pumping thinking I'd wash these down with new water-  no joy.  So this sweet mess went pretty well un-absorbed in my system.  I finished the run in 5:53, a good 20 minutes off pace.

Next time I will remember to check the water filter BEFORE starting a committing run that depends on stream water.

Here is a GPS track for the run:

GPS tracks for May 10, 2014 Mt Wilson Loop run