Thursday, December 30, 2010

Playin' in the Snow

Chris, Mark, and I decided to venture up to Pine Mountain today.  Those who follow the news know that we have had a lot (A LOT!) of rain here in Coastal California over the past couple of weeks.  (No major issues at our house except for an invasion of ants, they surely just looking for some dry turf to set up camp -- sorry kids.)   Between storms, snow has been visible on Pine Mountain on and off for the past few days.  A little over an hour's drive away, Pine Mountain is the long ridge behind the Coyote Two Moon (Ojai) Ridge and rises to over 7000 feet, so while the C2M Ridge was only slightly dusted, Pine Mountain received a few inches of the beautiful white stuff. 
It was cold and blustery up there but fun to experience the novelty of "winter-like conditions" so near an otherwise Mediterranean climate.
Mark & I at our turnaround point, about 5 miles and 3000 feet up from the trailhead.
The Santa Monica Mtns., where we spend most of our local trail time, are visible far off in the distance.  Pacific Ocean is off the photo to the right.  Most of the Channel Islands were visible today.
Ours were the only human tracks on this day, but we saw lots of little critters and this set of a BIG critter.  By the freshness of the prints, we didn't miss the bruin by much.
Goofing off on the rocks on the way down, out of the snow. 
Thanks for the great day, Mark, and for the snow acclimatization: we have some cold travel plans in the near future!  :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

C2M Trail Work/Run

Saturday was the first of our usual 3 annual trail work trips pre-Coyote Two Moon.  Our goal was treadwork and brush clipping on Pratt Trail, and we had a great turnout.  14 people x 6-7 hours can get a lot done.  Trail work is definitely not my favorite activity (it's hard!), but I feel strongly that as users of the trails, we have an obligation to help maintain them.
^ Chaparral is a pain.  I was making the trail W-I-D-E !! ^

We are trying to get every C2M trail to look like this (haha), but I think it will take awhile...
On Sunday morning, 7 of us did Sisar/White Ledge to the top of Topa and back.  Weather was gorgeous, with temps topping out at 82 degrees.  (In December!)  This is the same peak that was covered in snow 3 weeks earlier.  In my quest to run up all the C2M trails to the Ridge Road, I am now down 4 trails, with 3 to go.  Sisar/White Ledge was ~3500 feet of vert in ~6.5 miles, with another 1000 feet and 1.3 miles to the summit -- not easy after running 100 km. last weekend!  I did stop to rest "a few" times and wasn't exactly banging out 7 minute miles, but I didn't walk any of it.  What does this mean for race day?  Absolutely nothing!   :) 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cajun Coyote Top 10

We had a total blast at Mark's and Chris's Cajun Coyote last weekend.  I'm always impressed by those who have the ability to write long, detailed race reports because mine are usually of the "I came, I ran, I was happy... The End" variety.  The best I could come up with this time is a Top 10 list, a pathetic attempt to encapsulate the weekend's fun.  Here goes, in no particular order:

1.  Very lovely, runnable, rolling singletrack around Lake Chicot.  (Louisiana?...  Who knew?).  However, I should qualify the "runnable" part:  the first 20-mile loop was runnable, the second was hilly, and somehow by the third loop those hills had turned into little mountains that necessitated walking up...  hmm.

2.  Perfect weather:  mostly sunny, a few clouds, temps in the 70s.

3.  Quite impressive and aggressive mosquitoes...  in December!  This is a good thing only because the little b*stards kept us moving.

4.  Cypress trees, armadillos, and really cool swamp bridges (like bog bridges but about a mile long)

5.  A sweet--and flashy!--gift from Japan (thanks Tetsuro!!).  Love these shoes.   :-)

(Chris-red, Sue-blue, Tetsuro-orange)

6.  Sharing a 'deluxe' cabin pre- and post-run with 10 unique and special people.

7.  A new nickname: "Full Throttle."  (Everyone had one; check out the results.)

8.  Live music at the Cajun Smokehouse in Ville Platte.  'Shrimp Inez' at Prejeans.  Gumbo, boudin, and chitlins everywhere.  (And I do know what chitlins are:  they are damn yummy.) 

9.  "Winning" the 100 km!
Full Throttle w/coyote puppet award (and for some reason, a bunch of coffee cups) and 'n Buford, first in the 100 km.
(Photo by Mark Wieneke)

10.  Realizing yet again that there is interesting and beautiful running to be had in all corners of the country!  (I'll say it again:  Louisiana?  Who knew?)  Cajun Coyote is a great race to put on your calendars next year.  We'll be ba-a-a-ack!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cajun Coyote Weekend

(Tetsuro, Mark, et moi as apparel models too early this morning)
Nifty Ts, eh?!  We are super excited to be runnin' with the Cajuns this weekend!  I won't embarrass myself by trying to explain this weekend's craziness, the latest installment in Coyote Cohort fun, so I refer you to the Cajun Coyote website.  In our attempt to one-up the North Face's purse in San Fran this weekend, whoever breaks the 100K world record at Cajun wins a brand new Peugeot or Citreon!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Coyote Two Moon training run

On Sunday, six of us ran the 18+ mile Lion Canyon - Topa Topa - Chip Seal loop on the C2M course...  in a bit of SNOW!   We began by running all the way up Lion Canyon from Rose Valley.   Wild Bill has tagged me to run the C2M 100 miler (help), and I have challenged myself to a little goal of running UP all the side trails to the Ridge Road in training.  (Of course, I use the word "run" in the ultraunner's sense of the word, and rest breaks are allowed... but no walking!)   I am now three trails down (the easy ones--Lion Canyon, Howard Creek, Gridley), with four to go (Horn Canyon, Sisar/White Ledge, Chip Seal, Pratt).  During C2M I will most likely run up none of these trails; it's just a fun little goal to have set for myself. 
In Southern California the presence of snow doesn't necessarily require the covering of one's legs (yesss!) although it was a bit chilly if we stopped for very long.  These beautiful grasses on Topa Topa were frozen stiff.  A highlight of the day was coming across fresh bear tracks on the LCT!
Seven miles on the Ridge Road...  Topa as backdrop...  then a knee & quad pounder down Chip Seal.  A nice run with great company.  :)
(All photos by H'ard.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Week in Shenandoah National Park

Tuesday:  Austin Mtn., AT, Blackrock, Paine Run, Trayfoot, Furnace Mtn. - 21 miles
Wednesday:  Big Run, Madison Run, AT, Jones & Doyles Falls - 11 miles
Thursday:  Big Run, Big Run Portal, Brown Mtn., AT - 21 miles
Friday:  Wildcat Ridge, AT, Riprap - 12 miles
Saturday:  Patterson Ridge, Rocky Top, AT - 15.5 miles
Sunday:  Catlett Spur, Hazel Mtn., AT, Byrds Nest #3 - 7.5 miles
Monday:  Knob Mtn., AT, Neighbor Mtn. - 18 miles
Lots of leaves, one bear, a few deer, & an unintentional big mileage week.
Congratulations to my Sweetie for getting in >100 miles during his 100k b'day week!!  So proud.  :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Knobstone Trail

I spent Halloween running 50 miles through southeastern Indiana on the Knobstone Trail.  With an Indianapolis business trip in store this week, we arrived a day early in order to traverse what Backpacker magazine has dubbed the Hoosier state's best hiking trail.  From what I'd read about this trail, I realized the need to rethink any misconceptions I had about Indiana and flat cornfields.  This trail is gnarly, with somewhere between 10,000 to 11,000 feet of climb!  But here's the thing:  the highest ridges top out at just over 1000 feet, so you are constantly roller coastering 100 to 400 feet over and over and over again.  Take a look at the profile:

Looks like fun, eh?    IT WAS!!  :)
With temps hovering around 40 degrees, we started at the southerly Deam Lake Trailhead at 5 a.m.  The first 3 hours were done by headlamp; sunrise comes very late to the area this time of year.  Chris again selflessly crewed--thanks Honey!--and was able to meet me a bunch, at roughly miles 5, 9, 11, 17, 24, 31, 37, 39, and 47.  Plus, he ran back to intercept me on the trail a few times, getting in about 17 miles himself.  The day was bright and sunny, but since the temps struggled to reach 60 degrees, I was able to go light with just one water bottle.  Perfect running weather!
Impeding progress a bit was the leafy trail surface--would've made better time a few weeks ago before the leaves fell!  However, the footing was pretty good, with few rocks to maneuver, and almost totally singletrack.  Woohoo!  I met about a dozen other hikers this day, including a few backpackers.  The Indiana DNR puts out a nice map for a whopping $4 and does a superb job with trail signage, blazing, and marking; in fact, there are mile markers for every mile.  To say, there were absolutely no confusing, "oh sh*t" moments as I've found on some other, less well marked trails.
Throughout the day the Knobstone Trail triggered memories of other trails:
-- Ouachita Trail (Oklahoma & Arkansas) probably the most because of the overall feel, the views, and the lack of water.  In fact, thru-hikers are advised to cache water along the way.
-- Wild Oak Trail (Virginia) because of the solitude, quiet, and gnarly steep climbs--admittedly not nearly as long but a lot more of 'em.
-- Appalachian Trail because of the many so-called PUDs (pointless ups & downs)
-- Laurel Highlands Trail (Pennsylvania) because of the mile markers.
-- Massanutten (Virginia) because the pre-sunrise views of twinkling lights in the valleys reminded me of the Edinburg-to-Woodstock Tower section of MMT.
-- Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway (southern New Hampshire) because of the 3 lakes the trail skirts.
-- Barkley (Tennessee) because there were oodles of sawbriars on the sides of the trail (thankfully, unlike the Barkley course, none of which required maneuvering through).
Nearing the northerly terminus of the KT around mile 40.5, you can elect to go directly to Spurgeon Lake for a total of ~43.5 miles or Delaney Lake for 45.5; you can take the Spurgeon Hollow Loop for a couple miles more; OR you can take the Delaney Park Loop to Delaney Lake, then Spurgeon Lake for a full 50.  I chose the latter and got in at 7 p.m.  50 miles in 14 hours??  See, told ya it was gnarly!  (And, okay, maybe I still felt last week's 115 miles...)
This Knobstone Trail surpassed my expectations:  I loved it and highly recommend the KT if ever you get the opportunity.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Coyote Moab ?

Rumor has it there will be an accidental gathering of Coyotes in the Moab environs this week...  different trails for very different folks, nighttime play included (bowling!  full moon!).  A couple of rogue Coyotes were on a reconnaissance mission to the colorful La Sal Mountains this afternoon and managed to circumnavigate 11,642 ft. Haystack Mountain.
We were even entertained at one juncture by a large, waddling porcupine.  :)  Ironically, on yesterday's Porcupine Rim foray the porkie count was a big fat zero. 
More Facebook-style (I'm feeling rather ADHD) posts to follow in this blog entry as the week progresses...
10/20/10...  First ones on Slickrock Loop this morning:  Goofball on foot, me on bike, going about the same pace.  Last time I rode Slickrock was 17 years ago - yikes!  Good news is it felt easier this time.  What a freaking blast!!  Fell only once.  :)
Afternoon adventure in Hidden Valley.  Petroglyphs galore!
10/21/10...  Depending on whose gadget you believe, the Long Group did somewhere between 30 & 34 beautiful miles around Upheaval Dome in Canyonlands National Park.

Some runnable trail (above)... and some not so runnable (below).
Post-run dinner 'n liquid refreshment at Eddie McStiff's.
10/22/10...  15 miles in the rain and SNOW in the LaSals -- quite a different scene than just 3 days prior.  We intended to go further but cut it short in order to avoid hypothermia and to save ourselves for tomorrow's run and tonight's bowling!  To give some idea of the "talent," the highest score of our entire crew is 138.  I bowl a 122.  :)
10/23/10...  The best day!  Sun came out for ~36 miles of Pritchett Canyon, Kane Creek Road, Hurrah Pass, and Amasa Back.  Tetsuro, Kathleen, Walter, Emily and I ran together all day and had fun bombing down Amasa Back, passing Jeeps and mountain bikers (ooh, they were not happy to be passed by runners!).  :)  Evening's entertainment--dinner, boat ride on the Colorado and light show--was a friggin' hoot.  Day ended with a visit to the Moab Brewery followed by a 2-mile moonlight hike of the Slickrock Practice Loop.   Ow-WOOOoooo...!  

10/24/10...  Final miles up Moab Rim Road, en route to Hidden Valley petroglyphs.  What a fun time with some awesome people in incredible surroundings!  Sad to say goodbye.  :(  Until next time...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Bear

Entering the Bear 100 wasn't really my idea but rather one of Chris's many brainstorms that I absent mindedly agreed to a few months back.  With the opportunity to spend the previous week in the Wasatch Mountains--ooh, altitude training!--capping off the week with a 100 miler sounded like a cool thing to do... last spring.  The reality is that while I spent a lot of time on my feet over the summer, most of those were walking as opposed to running miles.  (And guess what the body wants to do if it's been walking all summer?)   Looking through my journal just now, I laughed to see that since finishing Laurel Highlands in mid June, my "long runs" consisted of a couple of 12 milers.  Not exactly an optimal training program going on here, folks.  I hoped, however, that the endurance base and muscle memory -- 25 hundred finishes from 1995-2006 -- were enough to pull me through this beast.
I'd heard mostly positive things about The Bear:  beautiful fall foliage, mountain scenery, challenging but not all-out ridiculous terrain, and an especially appealing low-key atmosphere.  I was also warned about course marking: "It's not if you get off course but when," hot midday temps, and probable sub-freezing nighttime conditions.  Accordingly, I carried the course directions and had plenty of cold weather gear both in my drop bags and with Chris, who did an excellent job of crewing and, I think, entertaining all the aid station volunteers.
The early miles were a joy:  I loved the first long climb out of Logan and spent parts of the first 30 running with fellow Coyote Cohort, H'ard Cohen, followed by two new friends, "the Larrys"--Hall and King--who were great fun with whom to pass the miles.  Somewhere around Mile 30 my usual iron stomach started rebelling, so the next 20 were passed babying it with mostly ice water. 
Thus I became locked in the cycle of food = nausea, nausea = no calories, no calories = no energy, no energy = I don't want to do this anymore!  Upon reaching the halfway point at Tony Grove, I announced my intention of stopping.  I was having a meltdown.  Chris wisely accepted my decision without trying to talk me into continuing--he knows me well--while waiting a few minutes, then plying me with instant mashed potatoes.  "Hey, those actually look pretty good..."  I love runny instant mashed potatoes!  After successfully downing 3 bowlsful and some soup over 2 1/2 hours (!) total at the aid station, and realizing that only my stomach was giving me issues--everything else (legs, feet, etc.) was fine--I decided that maybe I'd wait for my buddies Deb and Steve Pero and see about continuing on with them.  Upon their arrival, they annouced "We feel awesome!" so Team BL was born.  :)   Here we are, plus Sandy Sanger, about to leave Tony Grove.  (Yes, the Californian was cold.)
The night was lo-o-o-ng.  We walked and walked and walked and ogled the incredible full moon and walked and talked and laughed and told pirate jokes and walked and giggled and talked and laughed and spent waaay too long at the aid stations and laughed at Chris's jokes and moo'd at the cows and got off course for about 20 minutes and walked and walked and tried to keep warm and stayed together and had a grand old time.  Oh, and got off course another time and walked some more.  At Beaver Lodge we caught C2M'er (and TRT co-RD) George Ruiz, who joined our merry team.  At long last the sun rose, a welcome sight after enduring some hollows in the 20-30 degree range!  At Beaver Creek, mile 85, it was finally warm enough to shed some layers.  Yippee ki yi yippee yay!
There was only one more aid station at mile 92, the one with the best name:  Ranger Dip.  Deb is trying to get some calories into Steve; I am having no such problems now.  :)
Although I was tired and ready to be done, it really was fun and relaxing to complete a 100 miler this way.  No pressure, no hurry, just takin' it all in...   Thanks Deb and Steve!
                                              ...but the quads still hurt this late into the run--ouch! 
Chris spotted this guy at Bear Lake en route to the finish!  He's been working on his moose karma.
With about a mile to go, George and I attempted to break 32 hours.  We didn't quite make it (32:01), but at least I beat my best Hardrock time (gulp) by 6 minutes.  I wore the same shoes and socks the entire race and didn't get any blisters or foot issues.  I LOVE, Love, love my Salomon.Speedcross-2's!!
Deb and Steve weren't far behind.  This is the first 100 they've run completely together!
I stopped doing 100's a few years ago, mostly because of race burnout and an increasing desire to concoct my own trail adventures (fastpacking/running the Colorado, John Muir, Wonderland, Tuscarora, Ouachita, & Long Trails among other endeavors).  The Bear was my first 100 mile finish since the 2006 Heartland Hundred, and it was a great experience.  :)  I just may have to get back into doing these crazy things again!!  Ah-Ooooooo!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Long Way Home

We decided to return home via the northerly route through Quebec and Ontario.  Sure, gas prices are higher, but Canadian money is so much prettier, AND they have Tim Hortons.  Being a coffee junkie, I just love Tims.  :)  We dropped back down into the US at Sault Ste. Marie and drove across Michigan's Upper Penninsula, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota.  Most nights we camped in the Honda...

...But one night we stayed in a "covered wagon," enclosed in quotation marks because it had a hard top and electricity. ;-) There was just something not quite right about blow drying my hair in a covered wagon. This was at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead in De Smet, South Dakota, and was way cool! Wilder authored the "Little House" series, and I was a hard-core LIW geek in 5th and 6th grade. It was really neat to be in De Smet, site of the "Little Town on the Prairie" and some of the other later books.
 From there, it was down to Badlands and Wind Cave National Park, where we had a PR run for wildlife sightings:  in 5 miles we saw pronghorn antelope, deer, a huge (close to 200) herd of elk, prairie dogs, and a buffalo!  Later that afternoon we hiked up Scotts Bluff in Nebraska.  Northwestern Nebraska was a pleasant surprise.  There are actually some hills there and we are definitely going back. 
A fierce little storm blew through but didn't produce much rain.
After a couple of days visiting Chris's pop in Rifle and a couple of days running the North Fruita Trails (including Zippity Do Dah and Chutes 'n Ladders) in Colorado, we blitzed across Utah and spent the night in Great Basin National Park.
I don't get up before my coffee...
We climbed Wheeler Peak which was super awesome.  It's over 13,000 feet and the 2nd highest in Nevada!
We made it!  I always have to check the summit register for people I know.  Didn't see any familiar names this time but usually do.  Not surprising since Great Basin is pretty out there.
We spent the night at Valley of Fire State Park and the next day climbed Mt. Charleston, north of Vegas.  It now ranks as one of my favorite mountains.  We did the 18-mile loop.  Had we known how runnable the trail was--and had we been better acclimatized--we would have been running instead of hiking!  Bristlecone pines, the oldest living things on Earth, were all over the place.  The photo below was taken just off the summit.

Finally made it home just before Labor Day weekend -- 2 months, 10,000 miles & lots of great memories.