Saturday, May 23, 2009

Born to Run

A couple of weeks ago in Denver we checked out a reading/author's signing of ChristopherMcDougall's recently published Born to Run. After a brief but entertaining discussion, we dutifully grabbed a copy (nice cover photo by Luis Escobar!) and stood in line for autographing. As the wait approached 15, then 20 minutes, our impatience invited bagging the whole signing thing--and the book--until... Whoa! What do we have here on page 137? Why, the author mentions Chris's legendary Coyote Fourplay!! Cool. Of course, legends aren't necessarily totally factual: to Chris's knowledge, no one ever replaced a ProBar with frozen cat food. :)

I had a couple of other books to finish first so am only on Chapter 4 but look forward to delving into this baby. After its first week, Born to Run was 31 on the NY Times Bestseller List, and this week it's 24. Will this book do for ultrarunning then again what Dean Karnazes's book did?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bishop High Sierra Ultras

What the heck is that? That, my friends, is a banana and tapioca quesadilla. And THAT is just one of many taste sensations awaiting your palate at the Sage Summit aid station, had you run the Bishop 100k on Saturday. (You didn't eat the "carne asada" dip, though, DID YOU?!) This was the merry band of jokesters we 100k runners encountered at Miles 52 and 57. Think I may have a good idea who the instigator was...

This was the first year for the 100k option, the other distances being 20 miles, 50k, and 50 miles. Having never before run Bishop OR a 100k (in 17 years of ultrarunning!), I decided to go for the Full Monty and wasn't disappointed. It got hot--in the mid 90s--but the full brunt of the heat wasn't really felt until the descent back to the valley; higher up, nice breezes, cooler temps, and first-rate aid stations kept things pleasant. It was fun seeing old friends on the two separate out-and-backs, and the high Sierra scenery was spectacular (although upon reaching the high point of about 9,400 feet, I wanted to keep trekking toward the mountains!).

At Mile 48.5 the 100k runners could follow the course directly, and mostly gently downhill, back to the finish and get credit for a 50-mile finish. A LOT of 100k'ers--like half the field of ~80--called it a day and did just that. Option #2 was to continue on the 100k course. But this was not just 12 additional miles: this was 12 additional miles and LOTS of climbing, about 2000 feet worth in two separate ascents. What the...?! At the top of the first ascent we were greeted by the merry band and victuals pictured above. From there, we dropped a (okay, I'm embellishing, but it seemed really long) Hardrock-like descent (reminded me of Oscar's Pass minus the bowling ball sized rocks), to the "Poker Chip Turnaround." Then we got to retrace our steps ALL the way back to that 48.5 aid station and from there, to the finish.

Lucky for me, buddy Ken Hughes caught up to me at Sage Summit #1, so we ran the remaining 10 miles together, filling those hours with nonstop chatter. I'd basically been running alone all day, so this was fun! We crossed the finish line together in 14:08, good for 10th place overall, and 2nd chick for me. Marie Boyd definitely has a winner in the Bishop 100k, so hope it's here to stay!

Bishop High Sierra website

Monday, May 18, 2009

More CO photos

LQQK, it's the C2M Buffoon enjoying the sun in Fruita!
Zippity Do Da, zippity day...
We hiked partway up Pikes Peak to Barr Camp, where we enjoyed a long chat with Theresa, the caretaker for the past 4 years. She and her husband Neal are ultrarunners--she ran Rocky this year, and he does Hardrock. They live and train at 10,200 feet!!
This was on the Waldo Canyon loop, near C. Springs. Ouch.
And our destinations keep getting colder. This is Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mtn. National Park, on May 10. They try to get the road completely open by Memorial Day weekend.

Rattlesnake Arches hike

Finally home & finally downloaded photos. These are from the Rattlesnake Arches hike near Colorado National Monument. Here we were cairn embellishing:

This little fellow was beautiful! We got a bunch of shots of him.
Like being in a big lobster claw. NOOooooo, don't close!! :)
A little rock climbing:
Success. Now for the hard part:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Running Fruita

Keeping watch:

You know you've found a great outdoors playground when you visit a place you're loathe to leave. Places like Silverton, Bishop, and Stehekin quickly come to mind. Such was the case with a recent serendipitous sojourn to Fruita, Colorado. With a few free days on the front end of a work trip to Denver, too much snow in the higher country, and no clear plan (yeah! in my book perhaps the #1 ingredient for a great trip), the warmer temps of canyon country beckoned this wimpy Vermonter turned SoCal sun lover. I liked the place enough to add it to my ever lengthening list of "Places I'd Like to Live for a Year."

Fruita, a few miles west of Grand Junction, is more commonly known as a mountain biker's destination, but the awesome singletrack makes for some splendid trailrunning as well. Trailrunners have, of course, discovered Fruita: it is the home of the Spring Desert ultras. But I've never really heard runners talk about its being a great running destination... especially in springtime... especially if you're coming off 4-6 months in the frozen hinterlands. With the small town of Fruita as the hub, trail systems surround the area, most notably the Kokopelli, 18 Road, Rabbit Valley, and Lunch Loop trail systems, with the Pollock Bench area set aside for foot travel only. There are MILES 'n MILES of trails here!! For an epic run, one can go all the way to Moab via the 140-mile Kokopelli Trail. For a really epic run, she could continue to Montrose via the Paradox Trail and from there back to Grand Junction on the Tabeguache Trail, for a grand total of about 385 miles. Anyone ever run it?? Hmm...

There's also great road running and riding, specifically 23-mile-long Rim Rock Drive through the fabulous rock formations of Colorado National Monument.

With only four days to kill--barely enough time to scratch the surface--we experienced a good sampling of what the area has to offer. The first day was a 7 miler through Flume Canyon followed by fluid & electrolyte replacement at Pancho's Villa. The waitress was a pro: "I hope these aren't too strong." Riiight...

Day #2 was a 15-mile jaunt across some of the Kokopelli trails: Moore Fun, Mary's Loop, and Horsethief Mesa, where all the mountain bikers we met were friendly and courteous. Likewise, we were quick to smile and jump off the singletrack so they could quickly pass. We ended the day with a drive through Colorado National Monument.

On the third day Chris wanted to check out Rattlesnake Arches (photo at top, more to follow), the second largest collection of arches in the country after the ones near Moab. The shortest access is a 4-5 mile hike via a 4WD road, but our PT Cruiser rental necessitated the longer 13-14 mile round trip schlep across the Pollock Bench Trail, "bench" being a bit of a misnomer since we had to descend & ascend 4 separate little canyons to get to Rattlesnake Arches Trail proper. Surprisingly (remember, I don't always do well with planning), this included a bit of Class 3-4 scrambling in a couple of spots. The arches were spectacular and in a very peaceful and remote setting, 8 arches along the trail and reportedly many more off trail. Upon reaching the end of the maintained trail, one could either backtrack or take the more, uh, adventurous shortcut through Rainbow Arch, cutting off about a mile. I opted for the shortcut. This Youtube link probably describes the route better than I am able. This little friction climb would've been nothing for a rock climber, but I'm not so it was a little bit scary... not one of the smarter things I've ever done but wicked fun just the same. :) After photo-documenting my stupidity, Chris wisely chose to retrace his steps and we regrouped at the trail junction for the long slog back to the car. That night we craved beer, fat & salt so decided on pizza at the Hot Tomato Cafe, where we lucked out, hitting $2 Fat Tire draft (1554, yum) and live entertainment night! The pizza was to die for...

On our final day, we decided to check out the 18 Road area north of town for a quick morning workout. I couldn't resist "Zippity Do Da" and "Chutes 'n Ladders." Wheeeeeee... these trails rock! Because of an upcoming date in drizzly, cold C. Springs, sadly we had to hit the road. We will definitely be back. I may even bring my mountain bike...