The long back to back weekend was challenging and rewarding. Saturday was hill repeats on the PCT via Herman Creek. Darin, Micheal, Steve and I were all present ready to work. Darin was doing 3X35 min. while the rest of us were doing 2X50 min. Generally that gets me very close to the second clearing or bald viewing spot off the PCT. 3 weeks ago Steve and I were out on this trail and were halted by lots of snow just before the first clearing. We thought all of that would be melted by now but beyond that with higher elevation and the dense forest the snow can linger. The day was partly sunny which was a treat!
Stepping back in the week…….On Wednesday I got a bright idea to do my VO2 Max hill runs using the stairs off Terrwilliger Blvd. I run past these often and have always wanted to run them and I thought Wednesday was the perfect time. Since I NEVER run stairs I had no idea the workout was going to fry my calve muscles. I was really trying to lift with my quad but no matter how much you try you can’t avoid using the gastrocnemius muscle. Needless to say on Thursday when I jumped out of bed I almost landed on the knees because my calves were TOAST! They were so bad I couldn’t even do a recovery run that day which was just fine because I was so tired I needed to sleep anyway. By Friday I could walk almost normal but wondered how they would respond to hill repeats….yikes. Micheal gave me a good lecture on how not to be so reckless during the last bit of training and what was I thinking?
Back to hill repeats…..During the 3 mile warm up I could tell it was going to be a good day since my body felt rested and ready to go and my calves were warming up nicely but I could definitely feel them. We unloaded and all started up the hill with Darin leading followed closely by Micheal and Steve and I bringing up the rear. It took about 5 minutes before my heart rate settled in the sweet spot between 169-174. I monitored it but seemed to find my groove. This hill gives me 2400+ feet of climbing in 3.3 miles. I reached the first clearing and it was snow free. I had about 4 minutes left to get my full 50 minutes so I trudged along but was short of the second clearing by about 200 meters. Micheal came busting down the hill and reported he was stopped by snow just before the second clearing. The snow is really hanging on this year and with no warm weather in sight it could be August before we reach the Benson Plateau….very strange. We stopped for a group photo at the clearing then tore downhill. I got a record time for this downhill in just under 26 minutes for the 3.4 miles. Ultra led the charge but I watched her brush up against a lot of poison oak so she was getting a Tecnu bath for sure! As we were tearing down we see Darin coming up for number 2 working hard, moving very fast and looking strong. We refueled and left for number 2. The goal, of course is to reach the same spot at the same time with the same effort. This is so much harder than it sounds. I think the key to achieving this goal is to not over do the first one, still running in threshold range but not over and not on the high side. After 3 years I have learned this lesson well because I am doing better on my second repeat generally beating my first time by 30 seconds to one minute. As we climbed I felt the heaviness of my quads. I tryed to focus on driving my knee forward into the hill, block out the strain and keep a rhythm. At times I really wanted to power walk but I knew I needed to persevere and run the whole time for my own mental and physical challenge especially at this time in training. I found myself shutting out noise in my head…..”Just walk a couple of steps…you might even move faster”. That might even have been true, I could have been faster but I wanted the strength from the workout more than the speed. I reached my first landmark about 30 seconds faster and had about 20 more minutes to go. I just continued on and even tried to open it up in spots forcing my legs to move faster. I reached my spot in exactly 36 seconds faster than my first one so I was very happy. On our way down we ran into Gail and Tom who were out for a long day. We stopped and chatted then continued our pounding session down the hill. Again we ran into Darin who was nearing his landmark for number 3! My second downhill was not as fast as my first but close. My quads got a good thrashing. Everyone rocked their hill repeats and we ran slowly back to the car basking in the glory of a hard but awesome workout on our beautiful PCT. This workout yielded us 5260 feet of climb.
At home I wasted no time drawing my ice bath and it was 2 bagger today for sure. Sunday was 7+ hours of hard running and I wanted to be ready. I had a route all picked out which I thought would yield over 33 miles and 9000 feet of climbing……a whopper. The route is one I had done in 06 and of course I had detailed data on each section and the time it took me to complete each section.
At 7:15 on Sunday morning we arrived for a full day of running and it was raining! Come on….enough is enough…..when will it stop…..it’s June! Okay that was my rant but then Micheal piped up and said, “Well, if it’s wet at Bighorn…we’ll be ready”. Perfect! That was exactly what I needed to hear because he’s right. Who needs dry feet anyway? Micheal, Steve and I were all doing the full 7+ hours while Stacey joined up for about 2 hours before she had to turn around. As we marched up the trail briskly we got a bit separated with everyone adjusting clothing, shoes and taking bathroom breaks. We all know this area like the back of our hand but there are some junctions with all paths leading to the same spot. As I was climbing up the first 2 mile hill I hear hollering from above. The fun kind…someone hooting and hollering and think to myself who on earth could be up there this early having so much fun. As I got closer the hollering starts to sound more like a rooster call so I call back and sure enough it’s Micheal! “What are you doing”, I yell. He informs us he took the wrong trail and lost his family! We give him a good ribbing for not staying close and cutting mileage. That was a funny moment but you would have had to been there to get the full laugh. We all felt good as we headed for our second climb running the whole way. I was surprised at how strong I felt and was sure it was going to be a kick butt day. We got the Devil’s Rest and I wanted our traditional, “Devils at Devils Rest” picture but these guys need to remember that a devil only has 2 horns because these guys make bunny ears…annnnnndddd….. they are supposed to look devilish but they just don’t….except for Micheal….that is a good devil face….it makes me scared for Bighorn. A few shoe lace adjustments and we were off. I was wearing my newer shoes and as they loosened up with all the water I needed to adjust them for the perfect fit. So far we were making good time and I didn’t see us slowing much. As we got onto the Oneonta trail we all noticed the trail work. It was amazing! The trail had to have been 1 foot wider and there was nothing on it, not even a pebble. Generally this is fairly overgrown and really rocky but they had cleaned it up big time. This gave me hope they cleared the Franklin Ridge and Larch Mountain trails. They were both a mess with lots of blow down and debris making it slow going. After 2 miles of groomed trails we ran into the crew doing the work. There were lots of men....probably a convict crew as they do lots of work out there. Generally on this run I plan to do a bit of threshold work going up the Franklin Ridge trail but with all the fallen trees it wasn’t happening today. This is the same area where we got turned around in the sea of snow a few weeks ago but now every drop was gone! The trail was in tack but tons of debris remained. When we summitted and began down the Larch I thought it looked better than before but it was still full of down trees. At this point in the run I am feeling a bit tired and know I need to muster it up for what’s coming which is two more big climbs and a bunch of pounding down hill. We work our way over and head up Devil’s Rest for the cut to Quad Buster Hill. Steve hates this 5.3 mile downhill. He complains about it every time and we try to tell him how good it is for his training but he still complains and threatens to quit at the bottom and walk back to his car. We aren’t sure if he will hang with us today and head up Angels Rest for our final climb or bail but we keep taunting him. He has run Hardrock and will run it again this year so we pull out the Hardrocker card to see if he will bite. At the base of Angels Rest he decided to persevere and we all get excited. Micheal and I down a Red Bull and prepare to bust up this bad boy. We are now at mile 26 and this is 1800 foot climb in 2.2 miles. We like to do it fast! Less than 40 minutes is rocket speed but I think we can do it under 42 today. The headphones go on and it’s all business. This was necessary because at the base of the climb we all were tingling and wobbly from the blast down Quad Buster Hill. Focusing, working hard with a goal time in mind I led the charge up Angels Rest with Micheal hot on my tail. We reached the summit in 41 minutes so I was happy and I felt re-charged…..slightly. We waited for Brother Steve (the Sodium King) but when he got the top he just mumbled something as he marched on by. The last 4.2 miles are mostly downhill, some of it is gradual with a nice soft surface and some steeper with rocks everywhere. Somewhere we started a fire burning because we ran so fast down this it was crazy. It was a record descent for me. Arriving at the car in 7:11:04 was awesome. 33.4 miles and over 9000 feet of climbing…..feeling more ready for Bighorn.
I was pretty achy on the drive home, mostly from my knee down. Generally I don’t take an ice bath after Sunday’s run but I was going to take one this Sunday and I was actually dreaming about it. When I got home I basically swan dove into my icy bath and rolled around in it for 20 minutes. Awwww…..a great ending to a hard week. That ice bath did wonders because I am not sore today and have no swelling in my feet and ankles. Of course I haven’t run yet but will do an easy recovery run later before lifting. I haven’t been feeling very jazzed up about Bighorn. I don’t know why because generally at this point I am antsy and out of control with excited for my 100M race. I think I am coming around and with one more solid week of hard training I hope I will be fired up and ready to roll.