Spring is around the corner and the ultra running season is getting underway here in the PNW. The excitement is contagious! Lottery's are being drawn, races are commencing and it seems everyone is talking about training and racing. Maybe it's all in my head but that's okay I will work with it.
Last week was the beginning of my last training cycle for Coyote. With tempo runs and m-pace runs followed by hill repeats on Friday I felt like it was a peak week but it's not. Since we had Hagg Lake trail work on Saturday I had to do my hill repeats on Friday. I was lucky enough to have some friends join me which made it much more fun but most of all it kept me out there. Susan, Tom and I headed out together and found Beast hiding on the hillside snapping photos. Just after our first summit we got to see Anna, Stan and Kia (Anna's husky) heading up. I was working with a pretty tired body especially my legs. Seems my leg workout on Tuesday lingered in my muscles. I was fine with the fatigue and did the best I could on the climbs. My first repeat was my fastest time ever up Hamilton but still not good enough to beat Steve's sub 27:3ish time. Most all of the snow drifts were gone so I had no excuses. Even the temperature was good and it actually felt balmy. Seems like Hamilton has been my hill repeat of choice this winter. I feel pretty lucky to have any parts of the gorge open for running this time of year. During the summer months I never go to Hamilton Mountain because the hikers love this trail and it's full of people but during the winter it's almost people free.
Since Saturday was spent out working on Hagg we opted for 5 hours on Dog Mountain for Sunday's run. With Steve running the death valley marathon it was only Micheal, Dr. T and I for the 5 hours of quad busting fun. We weren't sure what the top of Dog would unveil so we planned on teeter tottering the mountain if we couldn't make full loops. We haven't had much snow fall since our last visit but whatever snow had fallen most likely stuck since it has been bitter cold with the east winds. We started up the steep side with a vigorous pace. I knew it was going to be a good day and I was really looking forward to testing my fitness. I think all three of us were excited to be out. Making our way up the steepest side quickly we ran into a few snow drifts. By now they were mostly ice drifts but not super slick. As we made it to the clearing about .4 miles from the summit it was a sea of ice crystals covering everything. The wind was really blowing and it was cold. It's summer in my mind so I was in shorts.....right....good move. The trail was rock hard from being frozen but the ice wasn't bad until we hit the top. Wasting no time at the summit we headed down the other side to see how much snow lingered. It was dicey as we made our way along the ridge. Micheal was an ice skater in a previous life as he showed us his finest triple lutz and sow cows with grace. With Micheal leading Dr. T. followed closely while I was left for dead along the ridge. Grasping for every blade of grass or stick I could find to hold myself up I only took one fall and did a not so graceful version of the splits. Remember it's summer in my mind so I have on shorts. The ice scrape on my butt is sweet! The splits were super neat on my oh so flexible legs...NOT! It took me about 25 minutes to go a mile which is about how much ice stuff we had to maneuver through. When I arrived at the junction Micheal was all smiles as if he just received a 10 from the judges while I on the other hand got thrown out of the competition. Once we got off the ridge it was smooth sailing to the bottom.
Now that we have the information we needed I announced I would not be going to the top nor would I be skating on any ice. They both agreed. We took the not so steep side up for round 2. Our destination was the Ausberger junction. I felt super strong and wanted to see if I could run up the whole way. Off we went with me in the lead. I had a good strong run going and my heart rate hovering around 160. That simply rocks! Running up Dog Mountain pretty darn comfortably is definitely a new level for me. I was on fire except my left knee was pretty pissed from my not so graceful splits. I knew it wasn't really bad but it was talking to me. We made it to the junction fast, turned around and headed down. Micheal and Dr. T flew. I brought up the rear but still made good time. Now with 5,800 feet under our belt in 12 miles we had one more round to go. Up the steep side again.
Besides showing off his triple lutz and sow cow on the ice Micheal is simply on a rocky mountain high and we are not even in Colorado! The guy was gone, out of sight and not looking back. He is mister mountain with this years line up of Coyote, Hardrock then Wasatch and you can certainly see the fire in his eyes. No more mister nice guy....it's all business. I am not bitter or jealous..... I tried to keep up but NOPE he decided to set a record to the summit. I turned around with .4 miles to go to avoid the ice rink, Dr. T turned before that while Micheal flew all the way up. As I was making my way down here comes mister happy showing me his summit time. Sure enough it's a record for anyone we know. Nice work Micheal!
What an awesome training day with just under 8,000 feet of climbing and descending. Thanks guys! I came home and jumped straight into an ice bath. I might not be able to skate but I can swim!