Another great week of training on my legs and I feel really good. Sunday was the end of a Build 2 week. It included 2 recovery runs, 1 track workout, one 2 hour 3A trail run, hill repeats of 2X45 minutes and a 6.5 hour trail run. All of the workouts were awesome and I felt stronger than the week before.
We did our hill repeats on Friday meaning one less day of recovery. We chose to bump them up because lots of folks had Friday off work and Beast and some other crazy folks were out at Dog Mountain doing loops for 24 hours. This is no small feat since Dog Mountain climbs straight up 2,800 feet in 3.2 miles. Each loop is 7.4 miles long and it's straight up and straight down. Since they started their quest on Thursday at 6PM we felt it was only appropriate to do our hill repeats on Friday morning on Dog. We would get to cheer them on and get the perfect workout in at the same time. Micheal, Cheri, Trisha and I headed out and when we arrived Stan Holman let us know the only two left standing were Beast and Anna. This was no surprise since they were on a mission! What a gorgeous day out in the Gorge. Views were going to be uninhibited at the top. I have my glute workout on Thursday's so I was anxious to see how they felt for the hill repeats. We all headed out for the first one and right off the bat Micheal was on fire and nothing but his dust was left behind for the rest of us. I felt pretty good but Dog is just a bit steeper than our other usual spots and my calves felt it. I was surprised at how fresh my legs were given the lack of a rest day and the leg workout but my recovery seems to be a hyper mode right now. I think that is a good sign. :) When we reached our 45 minutes we still had some hill left to make the summit. We continued on so we could get the view and the feeling of accomplishment from reaching the summit. Dog has two trails that connect at the summit. The steep side which is 3.2 miles long and the less steep side which is 3.7 miles long. We were using the 3.7 mile route for the repeats and we we reached the summit we chose to go down the same way. We felt it would be better downhill running. Number 2 was hard for me. For some strange reason my stomach was urky. I wasn't sure why but it was not pleased with me pushing hard. I actually thought I was going to hurl for a moment but nothing came to the surface. My second climb was not as stellar as my first but Micheal and gang rocked on both. Beast and Anna were on Dog #7 when we left and they were for sure going to get 8 in 24hrs if they kept moving. I was happy to see the email announcing they had indeed finished 8 laps on the Dog....Congrats!
Our 6.5 hour run was on Saturday and were heading up the PCT trail from Herman Creek on a quest to cross the Benson Plateau. Our goal was to cross and come down the Ruckle Creek trail. We weren't sure what kind of snow we would find but if there were tracks we would attempt the crossing. Susan and Steve started a bit earlier than Micheal, Darin and I. Our job was to catch them. We busted butt and found them at the top near the Benson. They scouted and turned to wait for us. It was a sea of snow and we were at about 3,700 feet. Not a track in sight, fresh territory and it appeared no one has attempted a crossing. Steve announces he's going for it and will use the contour of the land to find his way over. I have no idea what kind of endorphins we all had going because we didn't even hesitate and followed him. Now we are stuck because once in those spooky woods there was no way out. The snow was so packed down we weren't leaving tracks. There was the occasional post hole but no consistent tracks. We fanned out like we knew what we were doing. Soon it was like a game of Marco Polo out there. Lots of jokes and laughs at the situation we found ourselves in. For the record I would not recommend this unless you know the Benson like the back of your hand. Acting like we knew what we were doing we would occasionally come across a couple of slash marks. Slash marks are navigation system the forest service used to maintain. They would create what looks like burn marks on the trees. If there is one on both sides it is most likely an old slash mark. I might be wrong in this description so feel free to correct me. When we would find a couple of slash marks that looked like it was marking a direction we thought we were so cool just to have them disappear. The funniest moment of the day was when Steve found a mild (less than a foot) dip in the ground and announced it was the headwaters to Rudolph Creek. We all looked at each other in amazement since the word headwaters means "running water". There was nothing running and the dip wasn't deep enough to be noticed by most. He wasn't joking! Micheal turns and says, "If he starts talking about Santa's other reindeer we are in trouble". We all busted up with serious laughter but Steve was oblivious to the joke because he was serious. Susan and I almost wet our pants it was so funny. Continuing on with our Marco Polo like game on Benson we finally came to Ruckle Creek. A real running creek and that was the landmark we were looking for. The trail was just above the creek somewhere and we knew we were close. Before we knew it we were on the Ruckle Creek trail heading down. This is a pretty rocky steep trail and I really don't love running down it with a huge sense of accomplishment. Just as I was finding my downhill groove I clipped a toe and took a pretty good tumble complete with a total yard sale of handhelds, headphones and gels. The fall itself wasn't so bad but a rock jammed into my lateral tendon on my knee. I have a lovely robins egg on it now. As I laid there gathering myself since it really hurt I thought, "Come on....anything above the waist is fair game but not the legs...especially the knee....reallllllyyyyy???". I few bad words flew out as I cradled my shocked knee and viewed the immense amount of poison oak I landed in....nice job! Despite the tumble it was sweet to have made the crossing and be on our way. Epic adventure!
The run was definitely not over though. We still had 3.5+ hours and decided to head back and make a loop on Nick Eaton Ridge. Again the steep 2 mile climb kicked my butt but I was happy to get it kicked. My legs are developing some great long term strength. I can feel the improvement which is sweet at this point. I feel like they are the strongest they have been in some years. Even after 6+ hours I was able to bust down Gorton which no leg fatigue.
This last week I logged just over 15,000+ feet of climb and descent. That's just above the 13,500+ from last week. My miles are cranking up into the 80's now. I still have enough quality in the week to bring my average pace just under 12 minute mile with all that climb. I like to see these kinds of numbers but my pace to be around 11:30 with this much climb before a 100M. I think I am getting very close. After the run I came home and enjoyed one heck of an ice bath. I got all the essentials together for the perfect ice bath. Ice (of course), tecnu, food and the phone. I even conditioned my hair while sitting there. :)
Next week 14 of us are heading the Grand Canyon for a double crossing and other trail adventures. We are going to melt in the hot canyon but I am so looking forward to challenge. Scott told me to treat this like a training race. I also got word today that I am number 1 on the Hardrock waiting list and they are sure they will have a spot for 5 more if we are still interested. I emailed back with a resounding, "YES"!