Sunday, April 20, 2008

Climbing into the back of beyond

Will G. and Ryan C. were kind enough to give me an introduction to the first 20 miles of the Ohlone course on Saturday morning. I'd read and heard stories about Ohlone but I'd never set foot on that set of trails. So Saturday morning I found myself milling about in front of the Mission Peak gate waiting for Mr. Ryan Commons to roll up.

He sauntered up the hill ready to go and we set off. Will was to meet us in Sunol with Beth Vitalis.

The climb up Mission Peak was comfortable but plenty challenging. Here we are on top.

On the way down the back side of Mission Peak the charm of the Oak trees and pasture land was evident. Lupine, Indian Paintbrush and California Poppies blazed on the hillsides and across meadows.

Will, Ryan and Beth before Beth headed back to Sunol. She ran the Diablo 50 the previous week but still kept pace for a good seven miles of climbing. Beth has won the Ohlone 50K at least three times. It was a real treat running getting to meet her!

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Will, Ryan and I before the final climb up to Rose Peak

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I wasn't monitoring my calorie intake very well and found myself bouncing between extremes of running well and then getting light-headed and slowing to a crawl. Will on the other hand was consistently strong and set a blazing pace throughout. He didn't run all the way from Mission Peak but I'm sure that wouldn't have shortened his stride at all. Here's the tough guy on top of Rose Peak.

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Rose Peak Summit. I was too tired to to take advantage of the view and the thought of standing up and getting the full brunt of the icy wind was not particularly enticing. There was ice frozen on the trees and it was melting and falling on our heads as we passed.

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The way down from Rose Peak was more or less uneventful. We didn't have to face down any menacing herds of cows like we did on the way up. Ryan decided to make the return trip a little more exciting and he slide tackled a phantom opponent on an unveven piece of terrain and sliced his knee up. At least that's what it looked like from a few feet behind.

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The run ended up at 28 mies with about 7000 feet of climbing. I ended up with a healthy respect for the Ohlone course!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Six word memoir

I've seen it happen to other bloggers but I never thought it could happen to me. Was I naive to think I was immune? Did I think I could avoid it forever? I've been tagged courtesy of Trail Blog Patriarch Scott D.

Before I get started I'd like to request Scott to postpone business travel, time with family, eating and sleeping until he publishes his Diablo 50 race report. Donald has already published his report and he acheived a zen state after 12 hours of perseverance. Considering that Scott is as close in demeanor to Buddha as anyone that skinny can be, he might have acheived nirvana during the race and vanished from this plane altogether.

Wendell did record a finishing time for Scott so I assume he is still with us and we patiently await his report...

On to my memoir. Rules are below.

1) Write your own six word memoir

2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want

3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere

4) Tag at least five more blogs with links

5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

One step forward, two steps up

I chose these six words as an illustration of both how I run and how I like to think I live my life. Climbing a hill in early morning mist to suddenly come around a corner and be blinded by sunlight rippling across a sea of fog is as close to transcendence as I'm likely to get. Climbing to new levels in other areas of my life is not as straightforward as acheivement in sport but something to aspire to nonetheless.

I am reminded of Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken. I wonder if Mr. Frost had ventured West into the Rocky Mountains or farther on to the Sierra Nevada or the Cascade Range would his perspective have been altered. Would his metaphor of the choices in his life have shifted from the left and the right fork in the road to the path up the mountain and the path down the mountain.

My time spent in the mountains, among the jagged peaks and glittering glaciers changed my perspective from horizontal to vertical.

Tagging Jon, Sean & CS. I'll have to think about who else to tag...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Blast from the past

I took the day off today to pack the garage (or at least try to make a dent) in preparation for our move next weekend. We did buy a new house in Sunnyvale so we won't be homeless!

As I sifted through old boxes I came upon an old training diary from my Freshman year in college. I was a walk-on to the team and to make matters worse I was a little soft after spending the previous summer in Europe visiting family.  I barely survived cross-country season. The entry below is from halfway through indoor track season. For some reason I thought I'd try to run with the middle distance team (for you hardcore utlra runners that's not a 50 miler - it's 800m-1500m).
2/8/3 4:30 PM 20-30 degrees F
Ran brisk warmup (2 mile Long Occum Pond)
Stretched, ran strides, went to the bathroom twice.

4x400 at 62 sec. Coach Barry actually gave me a time to shoot for which is a first. His attention gave a lot more credence to the workout. The rest of my group was supposed to run 56 sec. The first group: Dennis Webster, Mike Hughes, Brian Barry and Jon Fidelak, ran 54 sec quarters.

I hit #1 in 64 sec. I felt like I was running faster than that. DW pointed out that in the 800m it is important to stay relaxed during the first 600 so that you're not too tight to run the next 200 all out. I was tightening up on the second 200. #2 in 63, #3 in 63, #4 in 61. I was really pushing the last 1/4.

I wish I had kept better logs from those days. I tore myself to shreds trying to train with those guys. Every day after practice I'd spend twenty minutes waist deep in an ice bath just to be able to walk to the dining hall. 

I was surprised when I read this entry today to see that I could run 4x400 that fast. In the grand scheme of things a 62 sec quarter isn't that quick, most high schools have a kid who is faster than that. But considering these days I lumber around the track running 400's at 75-80 sec pace it sure felt good to know that somewhere, buried under slow twitch fibers is a fast twitch muscle waiting for the last 200m.