Sunday, August 20, 2017

Last UTMB-prep long run: Playing in the Club's backyard

That's it, I have to be ready for the UTMB beast now, just need to survive 2 weeks of tapering and, guess what, these are not the easiest ones! ;-) Besides, the pressure is on as I just found out that I'm on the Elite Men list, oops! Oh, well, second, from the bottom, quite an old underdog, lol. (At least I didn't get noticed by Meghan in her preview on iRunFar, back in January, phew! But look at the stars showing up.)
I started the week taking it really easy with 10K on Monday and Tuesday, 5K on Wednesday after a good strength training session, and even a day off on Thursday. 15K on Friday and this morning before another flight to Dallas, but I still managed to squeeze in another ultra training/long run this Saturday morning in our Quicksilver Running Club's backyard, the hill Almaden Quicksilver County Park. That makes for 1 ultra per week for the past 4 weeks, albeit barely ultra distances for Andy Jones-Wilkins who doesn't consider 50K as an ultra if I recall.

Anyway, I've been racing 10 times in this park in club races ranging from half marathon to 100K distances and people must think that, being part of the local club, I must train a lot on this ground but I actually don't live that close, so don't visit that often. I actually checked my running log, it was my 10th training run there so 20 runs total in 10 years. One every 6 months, yet enough course variety to know all the trails and be able to improvise.

This Saturday, I started with the trail our club has adopted, the convoluted New Almaden Trail. Then right on Mine Trail toward the McAbee Road entrance, left on Senador Mine Trail, right on Guadalupe, up on Mine Hill including the detour on Providencia Trail, continuing on Castirello Trail after the Bull Run, continuing on the left down to English Camp, right on English Camp Trail the crossing Mine Hill to go on the Hacienda Trail and its steep roller-coaster, returning to the Mockingbird parking lot on Virl O. Norton. That first loop circumventing the park made for 16.2 miles which I had covered in 2:20. While the temperature was very nice at the start at 8 thanks to the foggy layer, it was getting quite warm now at 10 am. I refilled my GU2 and water bottles, ate a banana, grabbed a second Snickers bar and I was back on the trail, albeit having to walk on the steep Hacienda Trail. I was hoping to cover 30 miles this morning, before our Club picnic at noon but, with all the walking and the heat, it looked unlikely. I did push to maintain a reasonable pace but, thinking of UTMB, I was also less embarrassed to walk when I felt the urge as there will be a lot of walking in 2 weeks. I left Hacienda mid way to take the Capehorn Pass Trail to get back on Mine Hill, then the April Tunnel detour, back on Mine Hill, right on Prospect #3 as we do on the new Quicksilver 50K/100K course, left on Randol Trail then left on Mine Trail again to go up Bull Run, Castillero, English Camp, and finishing with Mine Trail, Capehorn, right on Hacienda and left on Vir O. Norton for a total of 29 miles, 5,700 feet of cumulative elevation, in 4:21 (9:00 min/mile). Not a spectacular run but a good long one. And I only twisted my right ankle once, albeit rather badly, a good opportunity to check that it is still super flexible and tender, phew! (It is that same ankle that I rolled and trigger my fall while training for Montagn'Hard early July, when I broke and badly twisted two fingers, one still being a mess after 6 weeks...)

Sorry that Relive.cc didn't manage to pick this run, that would have been a great flyover (short of having Jeff C following me with his drone! ;-). And a less boring walkthrough of my run than the above litany of trail names... which I went through for those wanting to do this long run and who are not familiar with the park (Strava activity).

I changed and washed in the restrooms so I could appear normal at the picnic at the nearby Almaden Lake Park. Great party organized by our Club Officers (Greg, our President, Keith, our Treasurer, Stuart, Members at Large and Loren, our Ultra Racing Team Captain), with a special mention to Stuart and Ellen, Stuart being BBQ Chef again to our delight!
Among 80 or so attendees were many kids from Coach Marc (Klemencic)'s youth team and also guests from our brother club of the Stevens Creek Striders of Cupertino, the club I joined initially in Cupertino and where I learned so much about ultra running.



The raffle was quite exceptional this year, with more prizes than participants, so everybody won, woo woo!

With that, I'm super glad to report that I don't have any injury after this long and diligent training, yeah! Just that the energy level doesn't feel like to the max, but I have 2 weeks of rest to work on that part. For one thing, I will try to get more sleep, this never hurts! We say that a big challenge running a 100-miler, beyond getting in, is to arrive healthy to the start line, time to dial down, it reminds me my first Western States, in June 2007, the same intimidation and apprehension in front of something I've never done before, a way to remain motivated and on my toes!

Speaking of energy level, did you see the sadly comical or stupid statement and believe of our apprentice POTUS about exercise? Here is an excerpt from a Washington Post article in May:

President Trump reportedly eschews exercise because he believes it drains the body’s “finite”energy resources, but experts say this argument is flawed because the human body actually becomes stronger with exercise. 
Trump’s views on exercise were mentioned in a New Yorker article this month and in “Trump Revealed,”The Washington Post’s 2016 biography of the president, which noted that Trump mostly gave up athletics after college because he “believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted.”

Exercise does deplete stores of glucose, glycogen and fats from the body’s tissues, but these fuels are restored when a person eats, said Michael Jonesco, a sports medicine and orthopedics specialist at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.
 
Rather than thinking of energy stores as a battery, “a better analogy would be like the fire that you continue to fuel with more coal or wood,”Jonesco said. “You need to continue to add fuel, or your flame will die. This is true whether you exercise or not. . . . Simply by existing, we are burning energy.” 
What’s more, although exercise puts a temporary stress on the body, the body adapts to that stress so that the heart and muscles become stronger and more efficient. “If we can create a battery that, every time it’s used, actually becomes more powerful and efficient, then sure, our body is like that battery,”Jonesco said.

With 75,000 kilometers in my running log, I hope I was born with a 1MW battery (10^9 watts, or ~ 239 thousands kcal!) so I can keep going for 95 years without eating... Seriously, this is just an insignificant piece compared to the disastrous rollbacks of environment preservation regulations, but this adds to the insanity our country is going through on the political and institutional sides. It is baffling that we managed to lose the collective intelligence and reason to run a real democracy nowadays and that interests or craziness of a few overrides the sustainable future of the majority. When are we going to wake up and act as it is enough, or rather, unbearable...?!


After this political rant, time to get back to work with yet another business trip, so I can free up my desk before the big dance around the majestic and intimidating Mont Blanc in less than two weeks now!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Black Mountain and Bella Vista/Indian Creek repeats: that goal checked!

Many miles this week! First, those I'm not so proud of, 200 miles of commute to the office, South of San Jose. At least, I'm glad I changed car because I averaged 42.2 miles per gallon with my new Hyundai Elantra. That's 6.69 liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers, not much to brag about in Europe, but on the right path in the US. There is the car of course, but also the fact that it's mostly highway and against the traffic, seeing the sea of cars coming to work at Apple in Cupertino on 85. And the feedback loop of the live data on the dashboard (like we now have when running with a GPS watch).

As some bumper stickers say, "I'd rather be... running" all these miles. At least I did run a few miles this week, 110.9 miles to be exact. It has been a long time since I logged so many training miles in a week, although I'm still far from my 2007 and 2008 max weeks when I was ramping up my training and racing volume.
As a matter of fact, I'm possibly in the red zone, at least from a big data/analytics standpoint: out of many gauges on my dashboard, there is one metric which I've gotten out of bound this year. While I actually pledged for not averaging more than 100 kilometers a week this year, I'm at 120 km as of this Sunday evening, oops! That's 624 kilometers too many, although I like to finish the year with a few weeks completely off, like 3 or 4, so 300-400 kilometers in the bank by early December would be ok. I also need to take a couple of weeks off to taper before UTMB, I've certainly room for this in my running log. As you can see below, it's not even mid August and I already ran as many miles as in all 2007!
This Sunday, I finally managed to run 3 consecutive Bella Vista/Indian Creek loops after running to the top of Black Mountain. Well, I say run, but the steep climb on Indian Creek was mostly power walking actually. Which is fine given all the walking I'm going to have to do at UTMB. I just wished I had my poles with me but I left them in Chamonix after my successful trial at the Montagn'Hard last month.

After my failed attempt the week before Skyline 50K, this time I left home at 7:30 instead of 10 am to avoid being on the loops at the peak of the heat.

Got to the top of Black Mountain just in time to see a group of hikers watching a huge rattle snake crossing the area.

Here is my route and profile on Strava:
And a cool 3D fly-over of the three-peat (click on link or picture to activate it):
Lot of power walking on the steep uphills and a few stops where water was available at the Black Mountain campground and on the way down on Montebello Road. Here is my favorite 7-feet tall water wall (or shower), mid way on Montebello Road. It had dried up last year, it is a blessing to have this cooling station this year! Hope this video is refreshing! ;-)
Speaking of Montebello Road, repair construction has started and the road is closed during weekdays.



I noticed they even got a team come from Colorado apparently, Geo Stabilization Inc., serious stuff.

Overall, some good physical and mental UTMB training, and a much needed escape from the terrible news of Charlottesville, VA, this weekend. Wishing so hard for our country to go back to the poll and backtrack 9 months... What a pity, please tell me we can go back to progress for our society and our planet, please...!