"Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense."
- David Blaikie

Monday, May 26, 2008

Nathan HPL 020 Mods

A few modifications to my Nathan HPL 020 pack:

First, the straps -too long for me. They have been flapping around back there and driving me crazy. Easy enough to fix that by cutting them down. To keep the straps from pulling through I sewed a little fold on the ends of the straps just like the original design.

Next, the tube has been too long and I end up tucking it in to random places where it eventually works its way free. Another easy fix. I cut 6-8 inches off the end and replaced the mouthpiece.

Okay, this next one is a bit of an experiment. I sewed in a clip that the top of the bladder can attach to. Might improve the fit and flow, but also adds a little complexity to the refill process when I need to take the bladder out. The idea is that the clip will keep the bladder from sliding down to the bottom of the bag where things can get weird.

Lastly, I decided I'm going to need a little more storage space for Bighorn so I added a bungee cord to the outside of the pack. Easy to tuck in a jacket or an extra layer. I need to tinker with this one a little more... too easy for something to fall out.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pacing MMT 100 May 17

I spent Sat evening & Sunday morning pacing fellow Trailhead Jon "Bobcat" Parker through the Massanutten Mountain 100 Miler in Front Royal, VA. This is one of the more difficult 100s with a 7.5/10 rating.

52 miles of this course (almost 20 hrs) nearly broke me. About 20 miles in I wanted my mommy, but couldn't figure out how I would get back to my car if I quit. After 30 miles the bottoms of my feet pruned from being wet so long and then all the little wrinkles blistered. Even now, when I close my eyes, I see rocks...

It was very cool being out there with Bobcat for his first 100. As far as the MMT course goes... I think this satisfied my curiosity.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

QuickSilver 50 Mile

The Quicksilver 50k and 50 mile in the Almaden Quicksilver County Park, San Jose is sandwiched between the legendary MiWok 100k and the Ohlone 50k Wilderness Run that my friend Rob Byrne directs. It's just an amazing time of year for the Bay Area Ultra scene. So many folks are in the midst of training for Western States. From conversations during and after the run I found that even those who didn't get into Western States seem to be buzzing with energy and tackling tough races nearly every weekend.

This year Quicksilver saw the largest field in its history - and wow, was it competitive. I caught several glimpses of the front runners including Graham Cooper and Ian Torrence. Graham broke his previous course record here and didn't look like he had any trouble capturing another 1st place. The race has definitely grown since I ran the 50k here in 1999, but they have maintained a great vibe with beer and bbq after the race.

I ended up 17th out of 80 finishers with an 8:28. Not where I'd like to be in the standings, but not too bad considering the back to back 100 mile weeks leading up to the race. I think there were well over >100 starters, so I was at least in the top 20%. My 50k split of 4:59 would have put me at 11th out of 96 finishers.

During the run someone told me that an 8:30 on the Quicksilver course meant you could run a 19-22 hr Western States 100. I'd like to believe that, but there are a lot of factors that would need to be accounted for in that equation! Results may vary.

There were a few hills on this course! Some really steep ones coming into the 50k finish and again at the 50M finish. The web site said 9000 ft of gain and loss, but my Garmin reported +15,352 / -15,377! The profile to the left shows the data from my Garmin. I'd have to say that overall the footing was pretty easy though, unlike some of our East Coast trails.

No problems with any of my gear and no trouble bouncing back after a nice massage and a couple days rest. All in all a great training run for Bighorn. I'm looking forward to another long run this week while pacing fellow Trailhead Jon "Bobcat" Parker out at the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100M!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Muir Woods

"This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world," - John Muir

Muir Woods is part of the National Park Service in Marin County, California, 12 miles north of San Francisco. It protects 554 acres of forested area populated by Coast Redwoods, and is one of the last remaining stands in the Bay Area along with one of my other favorites, the Big Basin Redwoods State Park where I enjoyed a great run on my last trip to CA.
Today's outing came after a long day which started with morning meetings on East Coast time and ended with many hours on the Exhibit floor at the JavaOne conference. I didn't have a hard time convincing fellow runner and co-worker Erik Kristiansen to join me. Together we ducked out of the conference with just enough time to bag another spectacular National Park.

This is the 3rd time Erik and I have gotten together for a run while traveling on business. We've covered some great trails in Edinburgh Scotland, the Red Rocks Canyon area in Nevada, and now Muir Woods. Erik was 3rd in his age group at Owl's Roost half marathon a couple weeks ago and he has run with the Trailheads a couple times. He'll be an official, named member soon!

I have to admit this was really more of a jog/walk than a run, but there's just so much to see here. Something new around every bend. There are times when it feels good to put your head down and zen out, and others when you really owe it to yourself to pay attention and "stop and smell the roses". This was definitely the later.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Marin Headlands

The Marin Headlands is a hilly area located just north of San Francisco, immediately across the Golden Gate Bridge. The entire area is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area which is famous for the stunning views of the Bay Area and the Golden Gate Bridge.

To the California trail running scene, the Marin Headlands is like Mecca. This area hosts some of the most beautiful and popular trail runs in the world, including the Miwok 100k, the Dipsea founded in 1905, and relative newcomer on the 100M circuit, the Headlands Hundred, founded last year.

I got out to the Headlands around 7:30 this morning and spent some quality time along the Miwok Trail, winding my way down into the Tennessee Valley. The Miwok Trail was named for the Miwok tribe of Native Americans who moved between the bay side of the peninsula and the ocean side seasonally, for thousands of years. There were very few people out on the trails today and at one point I found myself on an animal trail imagining I was one of the Miwoks (Indian name, "Runs with Camera").

I cut straight down through the heart of the Tennessee Valley, following a small creek which empties out into a very small cove embedded in the rugged coastal bluff bordering on the Pacific Ocean. I couldn't believe the views here and had to stop and gawk every few minutes. This area reminds me a lot of sections of the Jurassic Coast. Very diverse though. Rocky exposed ridges, lush valleys, beach...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Weekly log: April 28 - May 4

Week 2 of 6 in preparation for Bighorn 100.
  • Mon - 0 (did I mention I have a job and 3 kids?)
  • Tues - 21 (am: 11 mi; pm: 10 mi)
  • Wed - 18
  • Thurs - 13
  • Fri - 11 (had a massage with z-bow later that day and felt amazing on my long run the next am)
  • Sat - 26
  • Sun - 10.5 (4x pumpkin loops: 18:23, 18:03, 17:28, 16:02)
Weekly Total: 100 mi

Great week at home on the Carolina North Forest trails. 7 runs total vs 9 last week for the same distance. Even managed a full (unplanned) day off. Pretty consistent so far, but this coming week will get a little weird with a business trip to CA and the Quicksilver 50M Sat. I'm going to be pretty busy at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco and unfortunately may not find time to get out on the many spectacular trails around the Bay Area.

Tentative plan for week 3 is to get at least a couple descent runs in as well as some cross training in the hotel pool and weight room. Then I'll use the 50M on Sat as a good hill training run. No real goals for Quicksilver right now. I'd just like to get through it feeling strong and psychologically ready for that to be the half way point.

Qicksilver will also be a good opportunity to put 50 consecutive miles on my La Sportiva Crosslites. I'm zeroing in on these as my Bighorn shoes, but not 100% yet. I like the weight and the aggressive sole, but the NB 790 toebox is a better fit for me. Maybe I'll mix it up a bit.