Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Training Weekend : Running with the Devil (Mt Diablo)

This past weekend was a blast for several reasons.

I recently joined a FaceBook (FB) running group named 'TrailTime!' that not only focus exclusively on trail running but also started later in the morning!  Many running workouts start 6AM or even earlier so runners can get a workout in and make their long commutes to work or are just early risers. And early mornings generally equates to cooler starts with more running before it gets hot midday.  However, for us running sloths (or at least non-morning people) getting to a training start by 6AM means waking up at 5AM and it is just not going to happen especially on a weekend.  Thank goodness for TrailTime! and their typical 7-8:30AM start times!

The two TrailTime! runs this past weekend were:

1) Saturday (07/19) - ~10 mile Mt Diablo loop from the Walnut Creek sometimes called the 'Northgate' side.  We started from Old Borges Ranch (1035 Castle Rock Road, Walnut Creek, CA ) which is very near, less than half mile, from the Castle Rock park entrance.

2) Sunday (07/20) ~16 mile Mt Diablo Summit run.  There were actually two options both starting from St Timothy, Danville (1550 Diablo Rd, Danville, CA) sometimes called the 'Southgate' side.  First option was a normal ~10 mile loop.  The second option was a 16 mile out and back: out 8 miles up 3,849' to the fist summit and 8 miles back.

Saturday ~10 mile loop run:
It was TrailTime! founder, Dina's birthday so yes many of us ran the entire distance with party hats on. We ran at a moderate pace with plenty of meetup and break-off spots for shorter routes which was consistent with a good 'no drop' training run. Dave was the trail leader and had us exploring several secret 'squirrel' paths that looked barely like hints of single-track trail of the main fire roads! 

Most trails in the area are tree lined with dry, brown grass.  It is summer in a desert state after all.  There are no water fountains along the way so typical routes circle back to the ranch which has both restrooms and water fountains.

Morning was cool ~60s with forecasted high of 85 for the day but we were done well before it got hot.  The trails were dusty and in some places you could find poison oak, the occasional rattlesnake and luckily thus far no ticks. There are plenty of rolling fire roads and challenging single track.  Here I'm wearing calf mesh guards to keep brush from scraping my calves, a singlet and a single 23 oz hand-held loaded with ice and GU's Roctane (grape flavored with no caffeine).

This was a perfect training day in cool morning air, running with friends, along hidden single track.

Sunday ~16 mile out and back summit run/hike:

Many of the same people from Saturday elected (politely peer pressured) into running 'The Summit'.  There was an official 10 mile loop that many people do on Sunday but the leader Carrie had been wanting to 'do the summit' for a entire season and her desire to 'Summit!' was infectious.  I knew I was tapering for The San Francisco Marathon on July 27th but sometimes the lure of adventure into the unknown is just too alluring.

We started from the Danville or 'Southgate' side about half a mile outside the park.  There were two Summit groups one that started at 6AM and another that started at 7AM.  We started with the latter mostly because we were not 'morning people' but decided we didn't want to kill ourselves with a fast pace and just wanted to enjoy the journey up the mountain.  Yes we got separated from the main group and yes we got lost at least 4 or 5 times as seen by the many 'spikes' of the main trail if you look at the Strava route pictured towards the end. But, man did we have fun on this trek.  Below I snapped a quick pic of Vivek pointing at our next potential adventure running up Mt Hamilton. Yeah right!

We zig-zagged up the mountain from one marker to another. Most of the major trails and junctions are well marked and very easy to follow.  We got turned around a few times but mostly because we were unfamiliar with the route and our maps didn't have all the street/trail names. We were, however, no more than 30 min behind due to wrong turns.  Not bad. 

As far as fluid and fuel, there are few water fountains and many were shutoff due to the drought.  I elected to wear my Ultimate Direction AK vest equipped with 2 liter reservoir plus two 16 oz bottles. I felt secure that I had more than enough water but man even with only 1.5 liters of water it sure was heavy.  I filled the hydopack with just iced water and the two 16oz bottles with a 50:50 mixture of UCAN and GU Roctane.  For additional fuel I packed four Hammer gels but only used two.  There were water fountains and restrooms at the Mt Diablo campground (Mile 4) and at the Summit (Mile 8).  If the weather is cool, you can easily make the run with a single 23oz hand-held and the two above water stops.

After roughly three hours elapsed time including detours we finally crested the peak and were treated with an incredibly beautiful panoramic view of the area.  I am NOT posting the panoramic view because the picture just would not reflect the feeling of cresting the peak and the expansive view in all 360 degrees.  You have to trek up the mountain and see it for yourself.  It helped that it was misty, semi clouded and the sun had just broken through.  Just stunning views.  There were several cyclist also enjoying the peaceful vista.

In eight miles you cover roughly 3,450 ft of elevation climb, then the same coming down.  The level of workout you'll get is totally dependent on your elected pace.  You can cruise and get a good workout or sprint up then down and get an insane workout.  Our group generally opted for the former. Although it was kinda hard not to bomb down certain stretches of twisting single track.  Just fun trail running.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

2014 : Mid-year race review

Below is a brief 6 month review of 2014. Crazy but fun list of races and training has been all over the map. 

- One 10 mile race
- One Half Marathon
- One Marathon
- One 50K
- One 200 mile relay
- The Dipsea and Dipsea Double

Distance 710.2mi
Time 124h 48m
Elevation Gain 51,988ft
Runs 81

 For the second half I'm focusing on ultra distances.  Basically a couple of 50ks and Marathons leading to my first 50 miler scheduled on 10/11.

Next year I promised to be more focused (well at least I can try)!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Race Report : Brazen's Double Dipsea June 21st, 2014

Once I heard that Brazen Racing was helping (taking up?) host the 45th annual Double Dipsea I signed up immediately.   If you are not from the greater San Francisco Bay Area you might not know about Brazen but they are amoung a handful of experienced trail race hosting companies known for high volunteer to runner ratios, well stocked Aid Stations (AS), finisher tables and good vibes!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Race Report : The Dipsea Race Sunday June 8th, 2014

In a previous post, I mentioned my appreciation for Northern Bay Area locals giving me the grand tour complete with tips and tricks for surviving a Dipsea run.  In that case it was a Double Dipsea training run from Mill Valley (MV) to Stinson Beach and back.

Last Sunday, June 8th, I joined nearly 1500 other runners for the 104th annual Dipsea race.  The weather started unseasonable warm and got warmer.  Here is what I learned from actual race day.

 The race officially started (for some) at 8:30AM and according to my smart phone was around 65 deg, and  forecast was high of 90.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Double Dipsea Training Run : May 31st, 2014

I applied for both the Double Dipsea, now hosted by Brazen Racing, and the regular Dipsea since I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get into the latter.  Surprise!  I somehow managed to get into the second oldest (oldest trail) race in the United States and coveted by Mill Valley and many other runners.  Then, I had that head-slap moment when I realized not only was I running two Dipsea races in a month but I had never run ANY of the marine headlands and no clue what I was in for.  Thus began my investigation and eventual Double Dipsea training run one week prior to the Dipsea!

The Dipsea : Second Sunday in June : June 8th, 2014
Double Dipsea  : Two weeks following Dipsea  : June 22nd, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Western States training weekend : Day 2 - The best $35 ever spent on training

On my bucket list is to do all three days of the Western States Memorial Training Weekend but this year I did just Saturday which was enough of an introduction into the craziness called WS.

If you live in the area you can get a supported run complete with fully stocked aid stations and burgers/water melon at the 'finish' for $35 per day or all three days for ~90 via ultra signup. If you are local to the greater 'Auburn' area and a trail runner you'd be crazy to miss this.  You don't have to have won the WS lottery nor even qualified at one of their races to do the training weekend.  Just have an interest in running 70 of the 100 trail miles of the WS100 with other crazy like minded trail runners.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Product Review : Injinji medium-weight, mini-crew toe socks

On longer 10 mile plus training runs sometimes I'd get tiny blisters either between my pinkie and neighboring toe or on top of a toe.  The blisters are mostly likely due a perfect storm of cheap socks I was wearing, sweat friction and toes getting jammed to the front of my shoes.  I don't think my shoes are part of the problem per se since I wear a half size larger already and they have a wide toe box.  I think the friction was due to aggressive trail running and cheap socks that just didn't provide much protection from the roof of my shoe and none between toes.  I tried adding Glide which helped to some extent, but what finally prevented toe blisters was magic in the form of toe socks!

Injinji toe socks come in several weights (light, original, medium), ankle lengths  (no-show, mini-crew) and colors (white, coal, black).  I know many like the black, no show, lightweight but the no show is just not high enough to clear some shoes and the lightweight doesn't protect enough for me.  My combination of choice is black/coal medium weight mini-crew.

[Note - I haven't done any river or stream crossings so I can't comment if light or medium weight would make a difference in how long it would take socks to clear water and dry out.]

You must give Injinji medium weight, mini-crew toe socks a try if you are at all susceptible to toe blisters.

Fabric : 55% CoolMax polyester/40% nylon/5% Lycra spandex

/* -- FB contact */