I've opted for some shorter than usual runs during the past few days. I didn't go out last Saturday and ran up to the Gondola via the Whistler Park Trail and Valley View Trail on Sunday afternoon. I pushed the pace and had a tremendous climb up to Valley View on the game trail (recently modified for mountain bikes). The trails were a little dusty and dry and the temps have been warm, mid to upper 80s, the past week. Fortunately, the majority of this climb is in the trees, so it stays nice and cool while your quads burn on the uphill. I ran the Thunderhead hiking trail to lower Zig Zag to the Base Area for the descent. I love to run trail downhills and chose a quick pace for the remainder of the run, which concluded with about a mile or so on the road back to the house. 9.74 miles in 1:48 with about 1000' of vertical.
The next day, I put on the Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) and just hike/jogged through the park and up a few hills with Benihana for a while. Just a little active rest. On Wednesday, I, again, opted for a relatively short run up Mad Creek Trail to the Wilderness Area boundary while pushing the pace the whole way. It has become typical for me to really increase the effort when I am running anything under 10 miles. While I really enjoy slow paced ultra-distance running, I would like to retain some speed in the shorter distances because it is just so fun to run fast in the mountains. I often think about snowboarding when I am running a fast downhill trail because they both require you to think ahead and pick a good line down the mountain. The faster you run, the more this is true, lest you wind up in the bushes, slammed against a rock or tree, or (he cringes at the thought) spraining an ankle with a misstep on a smooth stone or root. All of which have the potential for really ruining your day. Mad Creek was fun, dry and ran fast and I saw a few hikers out enjoying the afternoon. A pleasant 7.5 miles in 1:01. A very trail-quick 8:17/mile pace overall meant I ran in the 6:45-7:00/mile range on the return run which felt like 85-90% of my race pace for under 10 miles.
Didn't go out on Wednesday and did another tough, fast run up Valley
View from the park on Thursday afternoon. An afternoon thundershower soaked the trees, bushes and ground pretty well. So, it wasn't at all dusty, but this trail has heavy vegetation that grows across it in many spots and I ended up soaked from the torso down from the recent deluge. I probably would have run up to the Gondola had my feet not been completely wet but decided, instead, to take Valley View down to the base area and run home. Since turning my GPS off the evening before this run, it won't turn back on. I need to get ahold of Garmin so they can warranty it. As a result, I don't have exact mileage on this run, but it's around 8 miles and I ran it in 1:15.
Capped the work week off by running up to the Rabbit Ears with Katy on Friday afternoon. It rained for maybe 15 minutes before we arrived so the double track 4x4 road was wet and slippery with a few big puddles in it. The rain cooled things off and there was also a light breeze. I ran in my VFFs and had terrible traction but still enjoyed a relaxed pace but quick tempo as we ran at 10,000'. After 3 miles, we finished the climb up to the Rabbit Ears and lingered to enjoy the view for a few minutes. One of the most rewarding things about mountain running are the views from a summit and the view from Rabbit Ears is an amazing one, indeed. Add to that, lingering rain clouds with partial sun shining through and a beautiful girl with an incredible smile and I was a very lucky and happy mountain runner. It started to get cold so we hustled back down. The run out was very pleasant.
As we were close to finishing we passed three people hiking up the road. I looked at them to say "Hi" and noticed the older woman in the front was staring, mouth agape, at my feet. She was, apparently, mesmerized by my footwear. I admit, the Vibrams do look odd on your feet and I found her reaction very amusing.
This run is just over 6 miles but I didn't time it. Forgot to start my chrono. Didn't matter, this was more of a fun run than a training run, although it was good to be at this altitude.
This weekend will be a blast (excuse the pun) as Katy and I go for a 30 mile dirt road/single track/mountain trail/dirt road/road run on the 4th of July. We will probably finish that run around 10 p.m. so I am hoping we are running close to town when the fireworks go off. That will be followed by a 15 mile excursion into the Zirkels and, hopefully, up to and around Gilpin Lake on Monday. After that, I am going do my first Running Series race, the Howelsen Hill 8 miler, on the 10th and then run light the next week in preparation for Tahoe Rim Trail 32.7 miler, on July 17th. The following weekend after that, I'm doing the Spring Creek Memorial (9 miles). [Wow. Didn't realize I was racing three times this month. Damn. That's cool. Hope I do alright.]
I'm looking forward to going to Lake Tahoe immensely. I've yet to visit there (even to snowboard) and, even cooler, I'm meeting up with my sister, Sommai, and her husband and kids, Jay, Sophie and Kyle, who are coming up from San Francisco. Right now, my plan is to drive to Tahoe on Thursday, rest Friday, race Saturday, rest Sunday and drive back home on Monday. I even get to bring Benihana since we're renting a house. [Only Katy will be missing. (Sorry, babe! You know I'll miss you. I'll run fast!)] This already epic summer just keeps getting better.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to my boy, Noah Moore, who is running his first ultra this weekend, the Qu'est que c'est 12-hour in Charleston, SC. Crazy hot! Have a great time, man. I'm thinking about you, bro. Stay hydrated.