Yessss!!!

Crushed my run today… not “super-crushed” race pace, but felt really, really good. Consistent power through the entire run, mind and body aligned. Focused. I missed the rain by about 30 minutes – it started to pour after I got back.  I found a Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer anorak on the clearance rack at Next Adventure and picked it up. It weighs less than 2 oz !!  and is wind and waterproof. I think it’ll be my go to shell for fall/winter runs. I started with it today but it’s still kind of warm outside (noticeably cooler in Forest Park) and ended up tying it around my waist. Zip zip.

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I wasn’t able to make the last Portland Trail Series race b/c of a conflict. I ended up 18th overall (M) http://www.webscorer.com/seriesresult?seriesid=28592&gender=M

Had a breakthrough realization on a long running thing I’ve been working through for … almost 2 year. So that’s probably the most awesome thing of the week. Yeah. That’s good for one DLR balloon kick. or 10.

Mixing it up

Shoved off around 8pm for a quick 5 miler up to Tabor.  The problem with headlamps in the rain is that they illuminate all the moisture in your field of vision… and in cool temps, same with your breath; like looking through a fogged window on every breath. The solution is probably a handheld spot beam + headlamp with a diffuse beam.

Super fun to puddle jump through the woods in the dark and run down the middle of the road (the gates are closed so no cars can enter the park). Not too cold and not raining hard enough to be bothersome. I startled some teenagers up to no good in the woods – actually I probably scared the shit out of them… I flipped my light to high spot beam which is about 140 lumens (it’s really bright) just before I came upon them on the trail. Didn’t see anyone else in the woods or on the roads.

One of the things I absolutely love about running in the dark is that you really can’t see the grade – trail or road, so when it goes up or down, it’s just like a ride. There is nothing to be anxious about (oh no a big hill), you just roll with it. Fun fun.

http://www.strava.com/activities/212991109

2015 (tentative)

Planning next season. Squamish could be a lot of fun. Very challenging.

  • Gorge 50k, March 29, 2015 (in the lottery)
  • Mt Hood 50 miler, July 11, 2015
  • Squamish 50 miler, August 22/23, 2015
  • Mountain Lakes 100 miler, September 26, 2015

Unremarkable runs this weekend. I feel as if I’ve reached a plateau. If I’m not averaging below 8min/m with elevation, then it was a mediocre run. I may have reached a place where unless I start periodizing, doing more speedwork, hill repeats, lifting… actually training… I won’t progress.

Time to knuckle down and think about next season (after a little rest over the holidays… but only a little).

East and West

The Land Grab Out West – http://nyti.ms/1tupq9M

It was around the time that I was reading a lot of Wallace Stegner and he wrote about the beautiful brown of the American West. It was then that I decided I wouldn’t be going East again. I’ve had long conversations on the topic of North-easterner (I’m from the NE) land ethic vs. Western land ethic with friends. There is the Sierra Club mentality and then there are the old New Mexican families who control the water rights on huge swaths of land. Who graze their cattle near (on) National Forest Lands. I’ve been startled in the backcountry by a heard of cattle in the Pecos (NM).

When I was in Yosemite last month I was thinking about the National Park system and the idea of Wilderness (Roderick Nash’s Wilderness in the American Mind is the quintessential book on the topic).  I hiked through the Ansel Adams Wilderness near Tuolumne. It had me thinking about doing things at scale. Doing anything once is relatively straightforward, doing something at scale is really really difficult. National Parks, transportation systems, urban planning, education systems. All very difficult to plan, manage and operate.

I have strong feelings about public lands. And about private interests trying to profit from resource extraction.

Some places are sacred.

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The Ingenuous Choice – Mountain Running with Anton Krupicka from Outdoor Live on Vimeo.

Skeert

I was thinking about this stupid fear I have of rolling my ankle when trail running today. And I realized that in none of the races I’ve done this year – have I ever heard of anyone rolling their ankles and getting hurt. So either A) everyone is in complete control and never exceeding their ability, e.g. pushing too hard and losing control or B) it’s a stupid contrived fear that’s holding me back in a warm snuggy blanket of safety because it’s something I fear.

A) is wrong because I know the people in the lead group and they’re completely out of control and running like mad.

It’s B.

I ran in thunder and lightening today in Forest Park. If you run toward the storm, in the direction it’s approaching, eventually you’ll pass through it. I squeezed my fist periodically to squeeze the water out of my gloves as I made my way. I was working hard and grunting loudly coming back over the Burnside Bridge — there was no one around except one drenched indigent man smelling like an ash tray as I passed him. I wonder if being homeless in a thunderstorm is like climbing an exposed ridge high in the mountains when the weather is moving in; you’re trapped, there is no shelter, no place to hide.

What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it. – Krishnamurti

First really wet and cold run of the Fall season. It reminded me of the months to come and the amazing feeling of warming up from the inside…from your belly out to your fingers and toes.

http://www.strava.com/activities/210850652

Mushrooms

The observation that I returned to all day was the variety of mushrooms that I found along the trail in the Tillamook Forest on Saturday. Color, form, size. I’m not sure I saw the same type of mushroom twice.

If I had to qualify the difficulty of the race… it was more difficult than Mt. Hood 50 miler. Not as hard as Leadville 100 (bike). It was a very difficult day. When I realized what I was signed up for, at about 8 miles in, I adjusted my goals to 1. Not get hurt, 2. Finish, 3. Time. It’s difficult not to go into analysis when the race doesn’t go according to planned – so I’ll just stick to my experience.

I was up at 3:45am on Saturday making coffee and toast. I grabbed my bags and set off West toward the coast in my rental car. Once I turned off Rte 26 toward Tillamook, the rain began. It rained off and on all day with a couple of hours of mist and breaking clouds/sunshine in the early afternoon. We started at 7am in rain and darkness – the sun came up about 25 minutes later. I stashed my headlamp at the first aid station – around mile 2.5. The trail was … I would posit about 95% singletrack with a few road crossings. The footing was extremely technical for the first 20 miles.  The course consisted of 2 out and back loops. 20 miles for one loop, back to the start, 12 miles out and back in the other direction. The second loop was actually 14 miles and had the biggest elevation gain of the course.

As I neared the start/finish at the end of the first section I had an interesting exchange… with myself :) I went through the DNF / bail scenario. I could have easily bailed and gone and taken a nap in the car before driving home. That idea was churning in the forefront mentally as I approached 20 miles. But there was something else…something deeper, not an explicit thought, more of another observer listening to the self-doubt and whining (whinging?). And that part of me never paused, never glanced over to the Forest Center where people were waiting. That was the hammer watching; and I was the nail.

The climb up from this point was crushing (or so I thought). It was 15% grade in places. I was pushing on my knees with my hands and power-hiking up. I ran where I could, the surface a very nice runnable bed of spruce and fir needles. When I reached the top of  this climb, I descended for about 20 minutes of steep downhill running; a very fast, pounding descent. I reached the aid station and checked my mileage. 26.2. I just ran a marathon, I thought – and now I have a 10k remaining.

I occasionally take a caffeinated gel on long runs if my energy levels are low (I mostly try to stick with a timed eating schedule), I don’t ever drink caffeinated soda  (yes coffee). Most ultra aid stations late in the race are stocked with Coke (Cola). Given that I was turning around immediately and ascending the 2 mile hill I just came down, I opted for Coke. I chugged 3 cups, ate a caffeinated Espresso Clif shot, took a piece of peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some Pringles – had my bottle filled and started walking up.

I hadn’t listened to music all day but carried my shuffle in a plastic baggy in my run pack. I was so mentally consumed with my footing, not rolling my ankle and trying to move quickly over moss and leaf-covered rocks. At 26 miles though – I knew I needed to get up this climb fast and make some time on the descent back to the finish. I put my earbuds in and started powering up the climb. Very steep. Very difficult. Very caffeinated. This music was perfect and got me through.

From the top of this climb the next few miles were very runnable and I made good time to the finish. I ate a cheeseburger from the grill back at the forest center and then walked back to the car to change and drove back to Portland.

Nutrition
7 Clif Shots
1 Package Clif Blocks
Pieces of peanut butter/jelly sandwich
Pringles
Nuun / Water / Coke

I have a time to beat for next year.
http://www.strava.com/activities/208946279

Elk-King’s Mountain Traverse 50k from Chris Rivard on Vimeo.

This much fun

That was the first time I’ve raced in the dark and thought it would be fun #2 – a little suffering with the pace on Leif Erikson and then more suffering climbing Fire Road 1 followed by more suffering on the singletrack… but it turned out to be fun #1. Fun fun. Shocking.

I was running Mt. Tabor before sunup a couple of years ago but there was only a short section that was all trail. Tonight I was race pace in the woods on single track for about 5 kilometers.

Imagine flying through the forest just above the ground following a single beam of light illuminating just 2 meters in front of you. You can’t see anything in your periphery, and are completely focused on the beam of light and the surface beneath it. It’s like that. Fast. Surreal. Flying through the forest in the dark.

We started with 5k on Leif Erikson (an improved but rocky fire road) as the sun started to go down. I made a half-hearted effort to turn on my headlamp, mostly to have it on before I needed it, but couldn’t get the correct beam setting – the button combination is weird with double and single hold presses to get the proper beam (it’s a new Petzl Tikka+). I finally got the brightest most dispersed beam just as we turned to start the climb up Fire Road 1. Essentially a wall. I ran until I blew up, then power hiked to recover, then ran again until I blew up, wash, rinse, repeat until done.

Going up that climb and looking back and seeing all the headlamps coming up behind me was beautiful – the bobbing lights in a row all the way down the hill. Very cool. There was so much moisture in the air that the headlamp was useless as we ran through little clouds. Same as driving in fog. The light just illuminates the moisture. The headlamp was clicking down a few notches and wasn’t staying where I wanted it to – the angle grooves were too light and a hard landing would cause it to jump down a few clicks. We started to descend and I pulled out my spare headlamp and turned on the focused beam – not sure how many lumens it is (Black Diamond … something) but it was perfect. I held it in my right hand and pointed it ahead on the trail, and kept my headlamp pushed back to give me a little more dispersed light. It was a pretty good setup.

At one point I passed a runner coming up from the side of the trail – he had run off the trail into the woods. Oops! Everyone’s pace definitely seemed to slow when were in the woods. I passed a couple of people – but made an effort to keep everything under control and not roll my ankle like I did last race. I couldn’t see the slope changes, but could feel my heart rate going up, so I assumed I was climbing a hill. So much fun for a Wednesday night.

Inhaled a huge bowl of green chile chicken soup (super spicy yum) and cornbread when I got home and started the process of winding all systems down for the night.

50K on Saturday. It’s my treat. I plan to enjoy it.

Portland trail series race #4 from Chris Rivard on Vimeo.

Digging the Nick Mulvey lately. Some of it reminds me of Ali Farka Toure.