Monday, June 05, 2006

Key Training Runs

Reminiscing on my training runs leading up to Ohlone...

The key training runs were the (obvious) runs on the course itself as well as the Muir Woods Trail Marathon done about a month before the 50K.

Mission Peak

Living in the shadow of Mission Peak and only a few miles from the trailhead, I had done plenty of running in the Mission Peak Regional Preserve. However, I had never followed the section of the Ohlone Wilderness Trail that goes out to Sonol. I basically followed the first 9 or so miles of the course up and over the peak and down to Sonol and then back. Given the rainy winter we've had in the Bay Area there was plenty of mud on the trail and the less used sections such as Horse Haven were very difficult to find. This really gave me a feel for how I should handle the start of the race including my pacing. It also let me get in some serious hill climbing in during the return trip back up and over Mission Peak (ouch!). On the return I somehow totally missed Horse Haven and ended up romping around in nowhere land apparently following some sort of cow trail All in all, I estimate it to be around 19 miles including my off-trail diversion.


Sunol to Livermore

I have run and hiked in the Sunol Regional Wilderness a number of times including a run out to the backpacking area and one backpacking trip that included hiking part way to Rose Peak. However, I had never gone all the way to the peak let alone done the entire trail out to Del Valle Regional Park. This trail really was the crux of the Ohlone Wilderness 50K and would really let me know what to expect come race day. Not only did the 21+ miles represent the bulk of the course, but it was also the last part so I would have to imagine myself running it having already come up and over Mission Peak. For the most part, this run was great. It was freezing cold and windy up on Rose Peak, but pretty uneventful. I refilled my hydration pack at Maggies Half Acre and really enjoyed the next section of downhill. This was followed by some more moderate climbing which I stupidly thought was the "last uphill". It then headed down and along a beautiful piece of twisty singletrack.
As the trail wound its way into a ravine it dawned on me that this was not heading right down to Del Valle and I was going to have to climb back out of this thing. After crossing the creek, I looked up at the trail and my heart sunk. There was no way I was going to be able to do this come race day with another 9+ miles under my belt. I just sat down and put my head in my hands. I looked around and thought about the irony of feeling so incredibly shitty in what was probably the most gorgeous section of the entire trail. I told myself to just get up and start walking. It was a long slog, but I just kept going and was actually able to do my little shuffle-run for a bit of it. That made me feel better. When I did finally reach the "all-downhill from here" section, I was feeling good again and just started to cruise. Having short, stubby legs with big muscular thighs I am pretty much built for the downhills. Just when I thought all was good, my fluids ran out. With only about a mile to go it wouldn't be a problem, but it made sure that the suffering lasted until I reached the end.
All in all, it took me about 4.5 hours which was the longest I had ever run at the time. This meant that my theoretical fastest time for the race was probably around 6.5 hours, but I was thinking closer to 7 (which I went just over). This also meant that my wife, who picked me up in Del Valle, had a nice long wait in the car having shown up very much on the early side of my estimated finish time for this training run (sorry honey).

Muir Woods

On April 22, I ran the Muir Woods Marathon put on by Envirosports as a training run. While this is called a "marathon", Envirosports does not certify their courses and even brags that they are not regulation distance. I estimate this race to be closer to 25 miles or so. Distance aside, this is an absolutely beautiful course including a great variety of terrain and scenery. It starts at Stinson Beach (literally on the beach) and includes sections of the Dipsea and Steep Ravine trails (including many of the infamous stairs). There are lots of deep wooded terrain, stair steps, wooden bridges, a nice section of grassy trail overlooking the ocean and even a ladder climb. Did I mention the stairs? It was a great training run and I finished faster than I expected in 4:21. The stairs really gave me a workout. My legs were trained for hills, but I realized how different doing stairs are from simply running up or down hilly trails. You mean you actually have to lift your feet? I took one spill while pounding a fast downhill section, but managed a nice (dare I say graceful?) roll and landed back on my feet with only minor scratches and a few ego bruises. This run really gave me the confidence that I could finish a 50K especially afterI was able to knock off a 7 mile training run the following day. As much as I hated those stairs, I think they really helped as they forced me to walk a lot more than I might have othewise and I knew that walking was going to be key at Ohlone.

1 comment:

joyisonesfuel said...

graceful...in yer own way...giggle.