Monday, July 16, 2007

Quality over Quantity

I think the extra days off was just what I needed. I felt fully recovered and the only thing that suffered were the numbers in my running log. May the statistician in me be damned as the quality of the runs I got in this weekend more than made up for the lack of quantity for the week. I had to fit the runs in around a very busy youth basketball tournament, but the weather this weekend was so perfect that it was an absolute necessity to get out there on the trails. Clear and sunny on both days with a nice cool breeze to keep it from getting hot and remove any hint of haze from the air providing perfect vistas of the entire Bay Area. I a managed a little over 2 hours on Saturday and then more than 3 1/2 on Sunday.

Saturday - Mission Peak
Freddy's basketball games went late Friday night, but Saturday didn't start until the afternoon. This allowed me to sleep in a bit and still manage to get out for a solid run up Mission Peak. I started up the main trail and the extra rest must have helped as I my running felt as light and effortless as I have ever felt while moving up 2200ft in 3.5 miles. As I hit the ridge in about 35 minutes I realized that a PR to the peak was at hand and I pushed it a little more to see if I might even be able to break 45 minutes. The last rocky section took a bit out of me (especially while dodging hikers) and I hit the top in 45:32. Definitely a PR for me. I realized that a sub-45 shot was definitely possible, but I will probably never do it. I am always heading up there as part of a longer run and so I'm unwilling to give it all I got to the peak. Not really an issue and not really a goal especially since the rest of my run was so, so nice. I didn't have unlimited time so, after shooting down behind the peak to fill my water bottle, I headed out on the nice smooth rolling trail towards Monument Peak. I only went far enough to get good view of the south valley before heading back. I hit the peak (and that perfect panoramic view) again before heading back down. I had to get home and clean up as we had a full afternoon of games and then an early morning on Sunday. We stayed Saturday night at my parent's house near the tournament. Mom always makes sure we are well fed.

Sunday - Pleasanton Ridge
Sunday we were done with basketball by noon. This allowed me to get home and get out on the trail by a little after 2pm. I wanted something a little less steep and more runnable than Mission Peak so I headed over to Pleasanton Ridge. It still has plenty of hills and some of the climbs along the Ridgeline Trail might be considered steep, but they are all relatively short grinds interspersed with flat or even downhill sections between them. Despite started off a little more tired than Saturday, I was remarking to myself how much easier it felt than Mission Peak. I'd never run the entire ridge before and with a full afternoon at my disposal I wanted to give it a try. Other than the nice rolling hills at this park, the other nice thing about it is that there is lots of accessible water along the way allowing for a single water bottle even on a long run.

My plan was to head up the main Oak Tree Trail to the Ridgeline as usual and then head north as far as I could go staying on the ridge on the way out and returning via alternate trails. If you want to follow along at home, I took the Ridgeline all the way out to the Bay Leaf Trail and then followed the awesome single-track section of the Bay Leaf to the Shady Creek Trail which climbs back up to the North Ridge Trail following that to the end where you need to cut over on the Mariposa Trail. The Mariposa heads over to the Sinbad Creek trail which is the return route, but I decided to touch the northern boundary of the park first by running out to trail marker 32 and back first. I followed Sinbad Creek back until it cuts back up on the very steep climb returning to the Ridgeline Trail. I stayed on Ridgeline again until the junction with the Thermalito trail. I followed Thermalito back to the intersection with the Grove Trail which heads back to where the Oak Tree Trail hits the Ridgeline at the start. Then it was simply back down the Oak Tree to my car.

Since I was on a long run and prepping for an ultra next weekend I wanted to keep this at an easy pace. I tried to manage my running at what felt like a 50-miler effort level. I ran the uphills, but very slowly and reminded kept myself from pushing at all on the level and even the downhill bits. The pace felt easy for most of the run and it was one of the most peaceful times I've had out on the the trail in a while. Other than the handful of people I saw walking during the first 10 minutes of the run, I didn't see another person (a solo mountain biker) for almost another entire hour. After that, I wouldn't see anyone for well over two more hours until I returned back down the main fireroad. Mostly, it was a nice relaxed, easy long run. At least, it was easy until I started approaching the three hour mark and the one package of Clif Blocks and small amount of Clif Shot gel that I brought was fully consumed and not nearly enough calories for a run of this length. However, it is ultra training so a little bit of struggling is probably a good thing :-).

Sunday Night - Sushi!
I finshed the weekend off with a very satisfying visit to the local sushi boat restaurant with my son. Lots of good quality protein and carbs to top off that good quality running. The albacore tuna was especially good. In the end, my body still does feel a little beat up. With a big 50 miler this weekend in Tahoe I will spend most of this week resting up. I am considering taking the full week off from running to make sure all the sore spots like my hips feel good. However, I will probably do a little light mileage and hope to also get in some easy cross training. Either way, Tahoe will be my final big run before I started the serious mental prep for the Headlands Hundred three weeks later.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mountain Man-
I have been reading your blog for a long time. We have ran the same trails in the East Bay. I was training for my first big trail race, when I was runing that exact P. ridge run, when a month ago I fell on some sharp rocks running down hill, I sliced my calf open on the rocks and it started bleeding everywhere. I manged to wrap it with my shirt & hike down about 3 miles to the bottom (I was by myself), had to get stiches,they had to dig out the rocks, everything. One month later I had a huge infection & hematoma, the size of a baseball. I still have not been able to run. My race plans have been shot. I know this too shall pass and I keep reading your writing to remember that. I will get back out there soon. You truly inspire me.C.

Eudemus said...

Anon, I'm very sorry to hear about your injury. That sounds nasty and very painful! It's a good thing you were so close to the finish or it could have been much worse.

I always run alone and often worry about such things. On this Sunday run, I was hit with a case of acute "rattlesnake paranoia" at around 2 1/2 hours as the thought of "what would happen if..." infected my calorie-deprived mind.

I hope your recovery goes well and let me know when you are back to running. I'd love to hear about your race plans once they are back in scope and if you need someone to run with shoot me a msg. Best of luck!

miki said...

Ditto. After spraining my ankle on the trail, I have thought that I should carry a whistle or something just in case something happens as I am also mostly alone on the trails. I haven't yet, but am thinking about it....

Hey, Steve, good luck on your 50 this weekend. Are you going to go early to get used to the altitude or are you going to just wing it? I always wondered how I would deal with that.

Eudemus said...

Miki, my wife actually has a North Face hydration pack that contains an integrated whistle. For the time being, I will just deal with my trail fears. It's part of "being out there" for me.

As for TRT50, I definitely don't have time for a real acclimatization so will be heading up and staying in Carson City on Friday. I also have to drive back home right after the race for an early morning Sunday flight to Vegas so there will be challenges on both sides of this race :-).

I am definitely a bit worried about the altitude as it will be the first time I am running any significant distance up there. However, everything I've heard says that if you can't do a full week then just go up the day before. We'll see.

Jessica Deline said...

Mm.. Sushi. Good luck and see you Saturday!