Friday, January 28, 2011

Easy days don't come easy...

After such a solid weekend of running through the footies, I was faced this week with the reality that I have been fighting a cough and sore soleus muscles for the better part of January. I was able to hit my highest mileage since last summer, do three solid trail runs and 2 significant hilly runs, but (there's always one of those around)... even with my mileage being much lower this week so far, I'm still fighting the cough bug and my energy has hit the wall. I guess its time to really take it easy if I want to be going strong in June for the Sawtooth. Somethings never change... easy days still don't come easy. I'll blame it on my cavelier attitude of all or nothing and full speed ahead in most areas of my life. Hopefully nobody is banking on reading any tales of new adventures this weekend, because unless you like stories of lounging around, changing diapers, and loading the dishwasher, I'll be laying low. Next week sounds like a great week to dust off the bikes again anyway. I think I'll give myself a rest, at least until I convince myself otherwise.

(The Symbols of Hope 5k is coming again for 2011. See Bandanna Running's event calendar for more races in Idaho this spring)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Putting the Crosslite to the Test

Well, after such a big hill day on Saturday, what else could I do on a Sunday with a forecast of 45 degrees and sunny but go to early service and then take off on a ten mile jaunt through the Boise footies and put my new La Sportiva's to the test.

I expected to be quite sore and actually only really "run" a little bit, but once I took off I quickly loosened up and realized that I had the opportunity to really put in some miles and soak up the sun. So I headed up Lower Hulls Gulch, hopping boulders and skipping along with the Sporties really gripping anything I wanted to run up or down. I made the first real section of climbing in good time, so I decided to set up a photo for the ol blog and snapped this one of me heading up trail 4 from the Hulls junction.

After fetching my camera and waist pack, I headed back up the trail for the biggest sustained climb of the day, however, I was surprised at how easy it felt and the Crosslites had absolutely no problem gripping the trail; mud, sand, frozen ground, literally everything was gripped by the spikes on these shoes with no hesitation. Shortly after the last photo I was nearing the highpoint of the day and decided to look back down to show off the elevation gain for the day. The Gulch down the center of the second photo below is where I came up, and then you pretty much go straight up on Trail 4 like in this photo...

(Looking back down Hull's)

The last little bit of trail going up was still pretty steep so I was pretty much power hiking the last few vertical feet, but the hiking refreshed my legs just in time to enjoy the downhill portion of the run.

After reaching the Parking lot on N. 8th Street it was time to head down the 1000+ feet of vertical on one of my favorite riding trails known "Bob's" to its users. Unfortunately, the trail was a little muddier than I would have preferred to be on it, but the Crosslites handled absolutely everything I ran through without any slippage or packing up with mud. Needless to say, by the time I reached the really technical rocks and creek crossings I was grinning ear to ear and decided that I was officially on the La Sportiva Bandwagon.

I popped out of Bob's onto a small Cul de Sac where I met up with a woman who apparently couldn't figure out why I was so muddy and wet...

"Did you fall in the creek?"
"Where's your bike?"
"I'm just running... it's really nice today."
"I was just up there and I hopped over on rocks to cross the creek."
"Oh, well I just ran straight through them..."
"There's more than one?"
"Yeah, I've ran about 7 miles so far... Have a nice day, see ya later..."

Bob's trail finishes with about a mile of up and down and a couple more creek crossings before running between a golf course and a large hillside full of fancy houses. The final section of trail features a pretty loose sand climb and I ran right up it again with no slipping, Wow! Finally the trail ends at the upper end of another cul de sac and then heads down to Bogus Basin road.

The last little test for the Sporties was the 2+ miles of downhill pavement and this was the only place that I felt a desire to have my Brooks Adrenalines back on. I would assume it was because of the large amount of sand packed into the shoes at this point, the back-to-back big hill days, and the fact that this was the longest week of mileage since June...

Once back at Camelsback I grabbed a dry shirt, and hiked up the "Camelsback" at the park to snap a photo and cool down. It was hard to not smile as I reflected back on the last two days of exploring my beloved footies for the first time on foot and not bike.

(Crosslites after 8 miles of singletrack, numerous creek crossings, two miles of pavement, and a hike up a big sandy hill just for kicks...)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Big Hill Day!

Well, its official. I will not be riding the Mohican 100 this year, but there is no need to mourn because I'm already head-on into training for a series of runs this spring that are sure to be challenging and beautiful. A busy spring has got me reprioritizing and I'm hoping to spend my training time wisely as to not take too much time away from Michelle and the kids... That being said, I'm sure to be in for more runs like the one I had today with Mike (see below)...

The first run on my list is the Dry Creek Trail Half-Marathon on April 2nd. The race is on the lovely trails of Hidden Springs, Idaho where you might recall victory in a certain duathlon in September. The trail race has really inspired me to take my training up a notch and start building some trail specific leg strength and endurance to run hard for at least 1.5-2 hours.

Following Dry Creek its kinda fuzzy... I'll either try to get into the Race to Robie Creek ("The Northwest's Toughest Half-Marathon") on April 16th or just wait for the High Desert Trail Half-Marathon on May 21st. Most likely I'll be waiting for the HDTHM since Robie tends to sell out in a matter of minutes.

The Grand Finalle to this Spring's buildup will be the super fun Sawtooth Relay on June 11th. Brother-in-law Stoffer is coming out for that and it should be a great experience. I have decided that the 1500 feet of elevation in 5 miles heading to an elevation of 8500 feet on leg six of the relay will be my burden and I'm excited to take a shot at the mountain. Last year our team got second place... we'll be hoping to equal or better that again this year if all goes well.

As part of my prep for the big trail race season, I recently purchased the knarly looking La Sportiva Crosslites at my BFF store REI, and so far they have been a riot. With most of the real trails encased in a coat of snotty mud, they haven't really been tested, but I did get them out for roughly eight miles of off-road action this week and they are sure to be a likely choice for every event on the calendar this Spring. Hopefully I'll get them out again tomorrow for a little recovery jog/hike. When you check out the profile of today's workout, you'll see why I'm taking it easy tomorrow.

Here's my route today that Mike and I tackled... what "fun" it was. (Since posting from didn't work quite right, I just grabbed these images to post them here. Check out the website for a great mapping program that works great for trails, roads, and even sketching out some road trips.)
We started from Camelsback Park in Boise and ran up N. 8th Street into a dense fog. Since it was so foggy and I rarely go up the road (Usually I take the scenic route on the singletrack) we really didn't know what we were getting into. We originally planned to run 32 minutes up and about 30 minutes back down. Little did we know that we'd be settling in at a 8-9% grade for 3 straight miles. After about 20 minutes of running we actually got above the fog into a beautifully sunny day. The hardpacked dirt road at this point turned into a bit of a mess, but not bad enough to REALLY get dirty. If I hadn't already done two hilly runs this week, it probably wouldn't have been quite so bad, but by the time we reached the top our calves and quads were crying uncle. After a brief pause as we turned around, it was time to sail down back the way we came. We we're going fast enough to really start to feel the friction on our feet you only get when you're really hauling it down a hill. We were quickly back into the cooler fog and the road surface hardened up again and I sincerely considered slowing down but the fact of the matter was that it was quite cold with the accumulation of sweat and moisture from the fog and running faster was less painful than running slow. By the time we got back to the car we had covered the same ground that took us 32 minutes of intense effort in 25 minutes chatting the whole way down. We even cooled down when we got back to civilization for about a half-mile so who knows what pace we were running down at... Mike and I both commented on how much harder our runs always end up being that what we plan, and today definately reinforced that notion. Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed the suffering and am looking forward to another such workout in the next couple weeks after a bit of an easy stretch to take care of some lingering aches.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Running through the cold

It appears for now that I'll be doing quite a bit of running this year as opposed to my original plans to race my bike this year, however, I can't really complain because I have been enjoying running again at a level I haven't had since college. It has been hard to stay motivated as the temps continue to stay low, but I have been getting my miles in regardless. I have been very cautious to build up from zero to 25-30 miles/week at the moment.

Yesterday was perhaps the first run in a while when I felt the desire to be in short sleeves or wanted to ditch the gloves, but that was probably due to the 2 miles in the middle of a 6er at 6:05/mi pace (ouch). I got caught in the middle of a coach/former runner/current runner hammerfest with the high school crew, and I wasn't going to be left behind. By the end of our run the four of us had averaged just over 7:00/mi for the 6 mile route, and the last 3 miles was in around 19:40, which was faster than a 5k I ran in August. My feet are refreshingly feeling great, and the IT band is holding up, so it'll be fun to see if I can continue to push my mileage up gradually leading into some warmer (hopefully) weather. I think my shoe change from the Asics Kayano to the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10 has paid off big. I don't remember ever having a shoe that fit this well, so its a good feeling to finally find my treads.

So for now it looks like my events this spring summer will be focused on some local running races, including the Sawtooth Relay again with my brother-in-law and some good friends from Idaho. I'll probably throw in a couple trail half-marathons and 10-milers and see how the legs hold up. If they can go through the spring without injury then I'm setting my sights on qualifying for Boston at the City of Trees Marathon in October. I doubt I'll actually go to Boston (although its on my "bucket-list") this year, but it doesn't hurt to try and qualify to see if it is in my range.

The focus on running has also centered my perspective on my family, and I have been thoroughly enjoying being a dad. When I get back from running my son is ready to pounce and a exhausted and sweaty runner is quickly reminded of priorities. Our little girl has began to crawl so we are having fun keeping up.

I am looking forward to riding at a much more leisurely pace this spring since all the pressure of going to Mohican is off. And, you never know what race I'll show up at with bike in hand ready to survive another two-wheeled adventure...