Friday, July 29, 2016

Never Summer 100k: A long walk in Colorado.

Never summerGould

The Never Summer Mountains are a big Moose area.  However, I don't think anyone saw any.  That remains one of the highlights of the Bighorn 50 in Wyoming from a few years back.


Originally I had plans to run the Zion 100.  It was in the 8 week window after a marathon when I like to stretch out and attempt crazy ultras.  I love the park and the area.  The severe case of plantar fasciitis that struck a couple of hours into LA meant that any race in March and April was going to be questionable.  I went over the list of Western States qualifying races a few times and isolated the few 100Ks that remain.  Bandera was January so it had already passed.  The Never Summer 100K was domestic and had a generous cutoff time.  Basically if you could finish, you'd get a ticket.  So in mid-March I took the plunge and signed up for the race.  I appreciated the average elevation and the total climb involved, but i'm not sure one can ever be truly prepared.

(Skyline Drive from Stony Man)


I needed to get on the trails immediately.  I needed as much climb as I could get and as much elevation as one realistically could get living on the east coast with a high point at only 6,684 feet.  I queried the sections of Virginia that had long sections of trail, that also went above 4,000 feet, and were less than 3 hours drive from Baltimore.  A few places worked out including Reddish Knob (on the Grindstone 100k course) and sections of the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park. I was only covering 15 or 16 miles on my runs, but I was spending 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours on the trail, so it was something close to appropriate ultra training.  I also wasn't completely destroying my legs so I could do regular miles during the week, with a few days to rest.

At - roan At - roan

April was a pretty bad month.  By the second half, I had to get away and my first thought was North Carolina to get up into those 6,000 foot mountains.  I headed to Boone and hiked 17 or 18 total miles of Appalachian trail through the Roan Highlands, standing on peaks that were 5,800 to 6,286 feet.  Not quite the 9,000+ that I would face on the course, but it was better than 75 feet above sea level where 90% of my training occurs.  I also singed up for the Dirty German 50 miler in Philadelphia in May as a 'training' run.  And I had a mishap with my hand-held water bottle and an area in Virginia called Big Schloss which involved some light rock climbing in order to fetch my car key.

May and June

(not your typical ultra scenery in Philly)Cigv2o7W0AAsSUrSanta Fe forest
(looks harder than it was)

The Dirty German didn't quite go as planned.  I picked up some sort of bug during the week and didn't arrange for proper dog sitting.  I made it through one loop of the three loop course on pace, but the second became a death march.  I was back at the start finish after 35 miles and was walking most of the way.  I decided to quit at that point and drive back home.  Total time was just short of 7 hours.  I am thinking something closer to 10 or 11 hours would have been helpful in hindsight.  But another loop was 4 hours at best, and probably 5 hours to get back around.

Things got better as I managed to find the time to get on a plane to Colorado to briefly train at course elevation.  It was late May and there was still snow down to 12,000 feet in the mountains so I chose to head south into New Mexico and see if things were better there. Santa Fe Baldy was the target and despite signs of snow at the top I went for a hike/run towards the summit.  Turning back without reaching the top due to the aforementioned snow, the run was still 5 hours staying above 10,000 feet with several thousand feet of total climb.  I had survived a longer run at altitude and was still moving at 20 minute pace at the end, which was the pace needed to stay on course at Never Summer.  It was worth a little extra credit because the trail had periodic snow piled up which was really bad for progress.

After the New Mexico trip my sister and I headed almost up to Canada to climb Mt Marcy, the highest point in New  York State.  It was still cold and possibly sleeting at the top but we stood on the highest point.  It was cloudy and there were no real views.  But it was another brick in the wall and as June turned into July I had to think about tapering.

...continued in part II

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

LA Marathon

Rolling down the Imperial Highway...
Santa Ana winds blowing hot from the north

(the course doesn't go anywhere near the Imperial Highway, and the Santa Ana winds blowing hot were a worst-case scenario)

La part 2

The Plan

Train as hard as possible and hope for a decent day to run a PR. Sacrifice to the gods of good weather and try to no overdo things watching the Olympic trials on Saturday.

The Reality

Trained well until the snow back home. The race weather was warm and spent half the day standing at the trials.

The Start

Got a taste of that famed LA traffic and nearly missed it. Was dropped at the gates to Dodger Stadium and had to rush down to the corrals. Found people entering through a gap and went in there, but only got as far as corral D. Started in a sea of people and had to resort to going off course a little to manage some sort of pace. Out of the stadium things opened up I started to run my race.

Early Miles

Felt ok. Maybe not so peak tapered, but early miles were relaxed at a PR pace. Caught up to to Ryan and Brennan downtown and make some bad joke that I can't remember as I went past. They told me to get up further and I listened. The hill out of downtown was tough and I felt like a bit of work, but got to relax a bit on the down side into Echo Park. Made a reference to Warren Zevon and the Pioneer Chicken Stand that no one got as I crossed Alvarado Street. Was taking water about ever other stop, but more wound up on my head than anything else. I also started chasing shade as the buildings on the left made shade along Sunset and later Hollywood Boulevard. At mile 8 I had to run over the Elliott Smith wall, which is from the cover of an album that people don't even seem to like. But I didn't really care, I was taking in the sights of Tinseltown.

More of the Same

Everything was going ok through the middle of the course. It was warm, but not enough to cause a melt down. Plus it's a dry heat. Saw my brother and sister around 14 along the Sunset Strip. Made a 'lol WTF is a record' joke when we passed the former Tower Records (nobody laughed). The course turned and went through Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. Saw somebody run off course to take a photo of the Beverly Hills signs, so didn't feel as silly about the wall detour earlier. The course entered a long stretch of no shade around mile 18 through 20. The foot pain crept in around here, which was annoying but not enough to cause much beyond a slight slowdown.

The Problems

The foot pain, the return of some plantar fasciitis that has been an intermittent problem in the last couple of years. I think it was exacerbated by running in the far left of the course chasing shade in the middle miles. And possibly the result of the shoes I was wearing (or just the fact that I wore the same shoes for that extended amount of time). I had thoughts that I wasn't going to be able to finish because the pain had become so acute. I stopped and put my number on my shorts and ditched the singlet. I walked for what felt like an eternity before trying to run again. It worked to an extent cause I was able to get moving for a little while before the sharper pain returned. I got off the course the best I could, even went completely behind an aid station at one point. I also was grabbing water at every opportunity and cooling myself down. If I hadn't stopped to walk with the foot issues I might have run into trouble with the heat catching up with me. I can't really be sure about that. Somewhere around 24 and half the fog rolled in and the temperature cooled down. I had the idea at some point I was just going to tough it out and at 25 seemed like the time. Finished at 3:32 and had to walk probably more than half a mile at the end to get to the 'A' reunion zone. Good planning, there.

GPS here:

Friday, November 27, 2015

Ashenfelter 8k - Glen Ridge, NJ

New Jersey, the ancient ancestral Anderer homeland.
I have wanted to do the Ashenfelter 8k for a few years now. The race is no turkey trot, it's quite competitive, as it should be. Horace Ashenfelter is Penn State's most accomplished Track and Field alumnus, with the fancy indoor track named after him. He won the 3k Steeplechase in the '52 Olympics, the United States' only 3k steeplechase medal (so far). He set the American record in the prelims and the world record in the finals. He lived in Glen Ridge, NJ after college and was an alumni representative to prospective students in the area, including my dad in '65. So with all those reasons in the world to run, I finally made a point to make the trip this year. I had no marathons in surrounding weeks which had stopped me in the past.

Of course there were a few reasons why maybe I wasn't going to be at optimal fitness for this one. I just ran my highest mileage week in over a year and I wasn't going to drastically cut back my miles this week either. I doubled on Monday and ran quicker at Fed Hill group run in the evening. I went to the TTWSS pre-Thanksgiving meal at Outback (eating later than usual and having steak instead of carbs). I didn't go home until after 11 and got up just after 5. But I should be in better shape than I've been for a while (see highest week comment two sentences previous) and I took Wednesday off completely, so it was worth putting 100% forward to see what happens (ignoring the fact I tend to go for it once the starting gun goes). Anything sub 32 would make me happy, hopefully closer to 31 flat than 32. It's weird that I stress so much about 30-40 seconds in shorter races sometimes. 31 Wouldn't have resulted in a top 100 mug, regardless.
Despite not quite getting up when I should have, light holiday morning traffic meant I was up there in plenty of time to warm up out on the course. In my head I was expecting a pretty flat course, but I should have not thought that at all. The town is called 'Glen Ridge' after all. I saw my friend Mike and chatted for a minute or two. He wound up top 20, but not as satisfied with race I think. Also, there was a guy for NJ track club that wore Maryland flag shorts with his Jersey singlet. I don't know him, but maybe somebody out there does.

The start was a bit of a mess, folks were getting back from their warm-ups and just going to the front of the mass of people and stopping. They had a line for the start, but the timing strip was up from that. I think we started in front of the actual line, but that was pretty much the only thing that could happen. Folks moved back a bit, but at a point they just stopped. The race crew made announcements about only folks who run sub 6 should be right at the front, but I was expecting close to 6 flat given the way I usually start races too fast.

Race details - first miles were quick, 6:03 and then 6:13. Started to tie up after, getting through 5k in 19:25 or so. The race passed by the start/finish line around 3.5 and does an out-at-back which was demoralizing. Mile 4 had a short hill which shouldn't have been that bad, but felt tough. Finished with 31:50 on the watch, 31:45 gun time. Might have been closer to the 31:50 if the start line was indeed behind the fast folks up front. Approximately equal to a sub 40 10k and a smidge faster than the 12k 10 days ago. Progress?

On the way home I stopped at the Ebright Azimuth, which is the highest point in Delaware. It's a short trip up Naamans Road from 95, within sight of the PA border. Parked and crossed the street to the sign and the benchmark which was paradoxically in a slight depression by the sidewalk. This counts as my fifth state high point if you include DC, I've done more marathons than high points. Might need to work on that.

Strava link

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Katahdin hike

I left the champagne at home and did the Hunt Trail ascent of Mt Katahdin in Baxter State Park, northern Maine. I took a few photos along the way, most have some clouds as they rolled through pretty consistently throughout the day. The starting elevation was around 1,000 ft and the peak is nearly a mile high at 5270 feet. The whole route is about 5 miles each way and took my sister and I over 8 hours. There was some running, but quickly it became a hard scramble over boulders. A few folks were finishing their long sections of the Appalachian Trail which was great to see. And several folks commented on the Fells Point on my shirt. The climb out of the forest became a scramble. Not necessarily harder than the one I encountered in the Tetons, but more intimidating for sure. At one point we climbed up over a sort of ridge where it dropped off quickly on both sides. I worried about it on the way down, but somehow most of it was easier going down. After quite of bit of scrambling, with a few iron bars to scale harder climbs it flatted out (relatively) into a broad, flat area. But it was still going upward. There was concern in this area about harming the endangered plant life up there. The clouds were constantly moving around us. At some points you could see them raising up as they hit the mountain. It was reminiscent of a volcano at times. The top was something else. At the bottom we spoke to a ranger who said Nation Geographic had named it the second-best summit climb and I can see why. The far side fell away drastically down to a green valley. The peak extended as a ridge to the east, the aptly named 'Knife's Edge,' a thin pile of rocks. I wanted to try climbing a bit, but the way up was enough for me at the point. At the bottom was a waterfall that races along the path. When we reached this, we knew we were close to the bottom. On to the next one. Season is running out, so maybe next year for Long's or a try again at Grand Teton.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Caribbean Excursion - Puerto Rico and Saint Thomas

A few shots from my Caribbean trip. Did manage to run a few miles in St. Thomas on the second day.
Isla Verde beach, 20 minutes after landing in San Juan

Old school hotel on the way to Old San Juan

Walls of Old San Juan

A view of Old San Juan from 10 stories.

My first views of St. Thomas

Self explanatory
Charlotte Amalie wall

Up and over the hill to the beach (cruise ship is visible in this one)

Magens Bay, not too shabby

Random Garmin

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

(Don't Go Back to) Rockville 10k

Not much to say about this one. Went out around 6:05 pace. Couldn't hold it past 2 miles. It was hilly, but not that hilly. Good support (thanks Conrad, Dan, Tom, and Chicken Tender!). Both races i've done purely for the MD RRCA Grand Prix deal have been turds. So maybe that's a lesson.

One thing that was pretty lousy was a 5k started after the 10, and they finished together. So I was weaving through the middle of the pack for the last mile or so. Not my favorite thing ever.

Time didn't match the 10k a ran November of last year. I don't think it even matched the 10k split of the 10 miler I ran two weeks ago. Certainly was light years behind my 10k split at the Cherry Blossom.

That's running.