Thursday, July 25, 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure ~

Do you remember reading those books when you were a kid, where you could "Choose your own adventure" and make up a different story each time you read the book?  Depending on the decisions you made during the book, the story would turn out different each time.

Sometimes I feel that way when I am on a long trail run.  I come to an intersection and I think, "If I go to the right, I'll see a, b, and c... but if I go to the left, I'll see x, y, and z!"  Honestly, I feel like I can't really go wrong either way.  And I love retracing my steps at the end of the day through maps and pictures.

Last week, I made up my own set of adventures.  I challenged myself to complete 100 miles in 5 days, mostly on trail.  After getting asked to work the first half of the day on what would be my first day of running, I had a bit of a rough start with hot temperatures, cramping legs, and running out of water because of my late start.  By day two, I laid in bed in the morning, not convinced that I was capable of pulling off my goal because I had quite a lot of foot pain (in my foot that was injured from the Bighorn 100 a month ago).  But I motivated and got out of the house on day two, first for 5 miles with the dogs and then nearly 13 more miles by myself.

We had a lot of afternoon rain a couple of weeks ago before the hot temperatures, and the wildflowers were crazy huge and over my head.  The colors were magnificent and I can't say that I've ever seen them quite so intense.

After day 3, which was my biggest day with the challenges of very hot temperatures and lots of elevation gain, I got some inspiration from friendly mountain bikers in the last 5 miles who helped me choose a route that was not only in the shade but went by some lovely water sources so that I could splash about a bit and cool myself off.  Indeed on day 3, I realized that by tucking my running skirt into my hot-pants that it was not only cooler, but created a lovely distraction for mountain bikers whereby they were quite willing to stop to the side and yield right of way to me, allowing me to pass safely on many a narrow section of trail.

Just at the end of day 3, two mountain bikers passed me and said head's up, that there was a third biker coming along the trail.  I looked up just in time to see that he had looked up, lost his concentration (due to the hot-pants?) and crashed off the side of the trail.  His arm was a bloody mess, but he insisted that he was alright and I was certain that I was the cause of his mishap.

By day 4 I was "over the hump" and had a lovely but hot run with less elevation gain than the prior  three days.  It was a Saturday which is typically very busy with people recreating, but my choice of trails was a wise one and got out early to avoid the crowds.

Day 5 I was joined by my friend Ann, who paced me last fall at the Bear 100 and after 5 delightfully cool miles on the trail through stands of large fir trees, she had to turn around and go in to work (she was on-call) and I continued on by myself.  Nearing the end of the day I found my mind wandering and my pace slowing in order to take everything in.  I had such a good time with my daily routine of wake, run, eat, sleep for five days in a row that I honestly didn't want it to end.

I feel a bit stronger after my 100 miles in 5 days and am definitely contemplating another 100-mile event later this summer or early fall.  It's a bit hard for me to commit to going somewhere else for an event because the Wasatch Mountains are just so beautiful and full of good trails and good people.  I thoroughly enjoyed my self-imposed challenge in the hills near my home.

27hrs 41min
100 miles
17,900 ft elevation gain

Now for the photos:

Day One:  The "Little Rogue" ~ Jeremy Ranch Road, Moose Hollow to Parley's Summit, Great Western Trail to Big Mountain, Mormon Pioneer Trail to trailhead.  4h 46m/ 19.05mi/ 3,171 ft elevation gain

Day Two:  after 4.9 miles and 1,000 ft of gain in Summit Park (semi-secret trails), I hit Butler East Fork to Dog Lake, Little Water Trail down to trailhead, Big Water Trail up, Desolation Trail West to the beginning of Mill A Basin, then the West Fork of Butler back down to the car.  3h 54m/ 12.4mi/ 3,379 ft elevation gain

Day Three:  Start at the Guard Road (pass, not the hairpin), Crest Trail to the base of Murdock Peak (Canyons east boundary) Mid-mountain trail to Park City Mountain Resort, Pipeline Trail up to Shadow Lake, Scott's Peak trail back to Crest Trail and the car.  6h 54m/ 24.3mi/ 3,683 ft elevation gain

Day Four:  24/7 Trail from end of Jeremy Ranch Road, Glenwild Stealth Trail, Cobblestone Trail (backside of Glenwild), Flying Dog, back to 24/7 trail.  4h 48m/ 19.35mi/ 2,610 ft elevation gain

Day Five:  Pinebrook Lower to Upper Meeks, Jekyl & Hyde Trail, Mid-mountain Trail to the Canyons, Crest Connector to Red Pine Road (just east of SquareTop), resort roads past Red Pine Lake to Red Pine Lodge, Mid-mountain Trail back to Pinebrook.  5h 52min/ 20mi/ 4,058 ft elevation gain

Monday, July 1, 2013

Not your ideal recovery week

I did not have an ideal recovery week after Bighorn 100.  Typically after an event, I will take a couple of weeks off, then start back in with daily slow runs, 3-4 miles in length at "recovery speed" or a speed that could likely be walked as fast as I "run" it.  But this time, because of the tendonitis in the tops of my feet, I didn't run at all.  For 10 days.  And my mood really suffered for it.  I also worked 40 hours the week after Bighorn, in three different clinic locations, so needless to say after that week I was pretty ready for a vacation.

I went to California for some sunshine and blue skies.  I got plenty of that.  The Western United States is in a heat wave right now, and even in the Eastern Sierra town of Bridgeport, California, the temps were in the low- to mid- nineties (which is better than in Salt Lake, where the temps were above 100).  My feet have still been bothering me (and mostly my right foot), so I did some shorter runs (4 miles) and hiked a lot of the uphill, saving the downhill for just comfortable running (nay, jogging) pace, but with the temps that high, it's hard to even want to run.

Yesterday, I kept thinking of my friends who were running Western States 100, where the temperature got up to 110 on Saturday, and my friend who stuck it out for a top-ten finish now says that he is crippled.  I joked with him that now he feels like I do after a 100-mile event.

Since it was so hot in Cali and Artie got injured on the first day (cut her foot) and also because I was just getting more and more grumpy, I decided to come home early.  My much-needed vacation did not turn out to be as relaxing as I wanted it to be.  It was hard for me to even enjoy the beautiful scenery around me.  I'd blame everything on the heat, but I'm afraid it's just my own doing as much as anything:  I'm still exhausted from Bighorn and just really in a funk.  I hate to use that term, but it seems a most fitting description of my mood right now.  When it affects others around me, it makes me feel even worse about myself.  Hopefully hanging out at home by myself the next couple of days will help me to get over my foul mood.

Here are some photos from my quick trip to California:  Day 1 is the hike/run up Virginia Creek with the dogs, followed by back yard surgery to stitch up Artie's foot (she handled it like a champ with no anesthetic), Vernon got a fish hook in his ear which needed to be removed, then we took walk on Main Street to look at the 4th of July decorations.  Day 2 is a visit to Bodie ghost town with dogs on leashes.  Day 3 is Buckeye Gulch/Canyon:  really beautiful, but hot, hot hot.  The first 3 miles I listened to the cicadas in the trees and hoped for something better.  Then I got to the big open meadow with a view of the Sierra Crest.  I was forced to turn around early because I found a herd of cattle across the trail and didn't want to deal with them.  It's ok, my foot probably wouldn't have allowed for much more mileage yesterday anyway.  I drove back to Salt Lake after my run, and temperatures in central Nevada got up to 108 on the car thermometer.

Day 1:  Virginia Creek ~

Sierra Columbine

Dogs enjoying a small snow field ~

Vernon's fish hook.  Not sure how that happened.
We were not fishing!
Artie's foot after surgery ~
Bridgeport Courthouse ~
Artie enjoying the buntings~
View from the house at Bridgeport ~
 Day 2:  Bodie ghost (mining) town ~

Picnic under the tailgate in the shade ~

Day 3:  Buckeye Gulch ~

After 3 miles, I was rewarded with this view ~
A field of wild irises ~
Stopped by a herd of cattle ~
The "Big Meadow" of Buckeye Gulch ~