Monday, June 24, 2013

Solstice

The past two weeks have been more of a re-grouping of my thoughts, and with the longest day of the year already here and gone, its time for me to look forward to my ambitions for the next couple of months.

I woke this morning thinking, "Summer is only a few days old, and I am already exhausted."

Perfect! With more sunlight each day there is more time to be out doing things, training, climbing, running, and so here are my goals for the rest of the summer:

With my next 50k not scheduled until September I have to have something to reach for in to more near future.  I want to put a lot more time in doing (what I would deem) "proper mountain running".  In the immediate vicinity this would mean spending more time up around Baldy and out towards San Gorgonio.  Outside of the immediate vicinity I want to spend a few weekends up in the Eastern Sierras (if I can get the time).

 With all of that mountain running there are a few things that have been bouncing around in my head, of which at the fore front being a few FKT's (fastest known times) in the Southern California area:

- Mt. Baldy (Bear Canyon Route) : This one's recent popularity seems to be tied to Anton Krupicka's accidental FKT a couple of years back.  Nonetheless its a solid route.

- San Gorgonio via Vivian Creek Trail : This one is a bit less active, but it is also a proper route.

- Cactus to Clouds  : This one I would have to wait till it cools down in the Fall, but I thought I would throw it in anyway.

- 9 Peaks Challenge: this one doesn't have a well established FKT, but I would like to try to put up a solid effort on this route.

Most of these are one way FKT's, but I have been also playing with the ideas of extending the suffering a bit more and pushing for some solid Car to Car times, we shall see.

Now, I know these are very lofty goals, with all the other things that I  have going on this summer, but I figured if I wrote them out I would have to, at least, push towards them instead of just keeping them in my head.

Other than the FKT's I have the honor of pacing Peter at Western States this weekend and Dominic at the AC 100 in early August, followed by the always enjoyable Mt. Ashland Hill Climb.  So, it seems I have plenty on my plate to live out summer to its fullest potential, wish me luck.

Here is an obligatory picture to spice up this post:




Monday, June 10, 2013

Reality Check: So, Im Not A Big Time Ultra-Runner.....Yet.

The four hour drive from Altadena to Fish Camp was one full of hopeful excitement.  I was heading into the Sierras to prove that I could run a fast 50K; that I was indeed a fast ultra runner.  I arrived to a warm Friday afternoon amidst pines and beautiful trickling streams.  It was a land to admire with a warm energy, and I couldn't think of a better place to run.  The evening brought a steady stream of runners, and as the sunlight faded I retreated to my parking spot and the back of my truck for dinner and sleep.

 I woke the next morning full of anxiety and sipped my coffee as I tried to scope out my competition.  "I wonder who is going to be up front",  I thought as I saw more and more people arrive.

The pre-race talk was rich with Baz's usual anecdotal wittiness, and before I knew it it was time to toe the line.  As we started up the hill my legs felt fresh and I did my best to hold back [note: next time I think I am "holding back" in the start of a race, I should slow down].  The long fire road was a little monotonous, and little did I know this was how 90% of the rest of the race would be.  For the fist 20 miles or so I ran with Oswaldo Lopez, and he did his best to tell me the layout of the rest of the course.  It was these long gradual climbs and descents on the fire roads that drove me into the ground.  That, coupled with my stomach's aversion to any of the calories I was putting in it, lead to me running out of gas around mile 20 or so.  I tried to double up on gels to re-boost my energy, but this lead to me puking them up a few miles later.  Next I tried a little bit of soda: more puking (Mike: I did not get your text message till after the race with the #nopuking comment).  So I sluggishly proceeded up and down the final miles, getting passed by, wallowing in self pity, and wondering if I could even consider myself any sort of contender at these ultra distances.

 I finished the race in 6th place at 4:18:xx.   Now, I know what most of you are thinking: "Erik, that's nothing to be bummed about." But, going from third to sixth in a few miles, watching people glide past you with ease when you a creeping along, all the while realizing that you would not be finishing the race in your imagined first or second place, becomes incredibly demoralizing.

After a few beers and some classic Baz hilarity, I packed up my truck, cranked up The National, and headed into Yosemite.  What a beautiful place to heal my wounds; and although rain drove me home early, the energy of the valley and the giant granite walls was infecting.  So, as it turns out, I am not a big time ultra-runner, at least not yet.

Congratulations to Oswaldo for his 7th win at the Shadow of the Giants 50K.  He was great company for the miles we ran together.
Fish Camp



AMAZING!


Classic Camp 4

Coffee in the Shadow of the Captain.

Monday, June 3, 2013

In the Shadow of Shadow of the Giants

The last two weeks have been pretty low key as I am tapering for Shadow of the Giants. Its been warm and I have been trying to climb more, hopefully preparing for the second part of my summer: more mountain running and peak bagging in the Sierras.  This weekend in Yosemite will hopefully be the perfect place for my transition.  More pictures to follow.

Week of 5/19- 5/25:  73mi + 23,500 ft.
         I cut the week short to let my tired legs rest before running the Mt. Wilson Trail Race on Saturday.  I came in 5th in 1:06:xx (not a bad effort for someone who has been training for longer races).  After the first mile or so of the race, watching the fast guys pull away up the trail, I resolved to just have a good time out there, and so I settled into a good pace, greeting the volunteers and enjoying the beautiful day.  After the turn around I picked up the pace and had fun on the downhill.  The energy from all of the other racers I passed on the way down really made it a blast, and it was great to see Jess and my sister trudging up the trail.  Overall, it was a really fun race.
 


5/26-5/31: 50mi +10,000 ft.
          I scaled it way back this past week, and finished on Friday with a 20 mile loop around Mt. Waterman with Chris and Peter. On Saturday Jess and I headed back up to Horse Flats for a little bouldering, (definitely out of climbing shape).

Top of Mt. Waterman

Chris getting a head start on the bouldering action.


Climbing is hard work

B1 Traverse