Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Opportunistic running

The first week of the new year has come and gone. I did a lot of what I term "opportunistic" runs meaning that most were planned last minute and worked around various other (work and/or family) plans. My son's high school basketball season has started so that will eat up another couple evenings a week. I am still in a re-building phase as far as mileage goes, but I did still manage my second 45+ mile week in a row so things are progressing. In a way, I really like managing a week like this as I like the idea that training for and running ultras doesn't require outrageous time commitments or sacrificing everything else in one's life to fit it in. My week basically went as follows.

Mon 12/31/07
As mentioned previously, I ran an 8.1 mile figure-8 route up on Mission Peak this day. We were planning to drive down to Arroyo Grande to spend New Years Eve at our new vacation home, but had to leave a bit late as my son had a 4-hr basketball practice. I did the run while he was at practice and we made the 3+ hr drive south that afternoon/evening. The route is what I am planning to use for my "Quad MP" run where I will attempt to do this loop 4 times for a bit over a 50K training run (or "Fat Ass" race if anyone wants to join me). The elevation gain should be over 9000ft. The link above only shows each loop as a little over 2000ft, but that is not accurate as the simple difference between the peak and start is more than 2100ft and there is a bit of up and down in the route. My other mapping software shows it as at over 2300ft per loop.

Tue 01/01/08
After spending too much time just sitting around the house in the morning we needed to get out so my wife and I hopped in the car and went for a little drive. I decided to head up to Los Osos to check out Montaña de Oro State Park. We parked along the road and took a long and very sandy path to the beach. We were joking about how difficult this was going to be going back up, but when we reached the beach we found that there was a much easier path that led back through a parking lot. However, this meant we had a bit of a walk back to our car. My wife surprised me by starting to run back as we headed up the hill. We ended up jogging all the way, a bit over a mile, mostly uphill, me in my sandals and Zane in her casual shoes. We must have looked a sight to the passing cars, but we had fun.
Zane wanted to get in another 20min of running in. I plotted a little route around the residential area near "The Village" where the house is. It was a little under her desired time due to her picking up the pace (honestly, without any urging by me) near the end. It was fun and a good way to learn the lay of the land as this older residential area has a little confusing layout.
I wanted a bit more mileage before dinner so I went off on my own and did a longer loop around some local farms. Having looked on the map, I knew that the country road I was on would eventually intersect with a cross street to let me cut over and head back. However, the road kept heading in the opposite turning away from where I wanted to go. Eventually I found where I needed to be and ended up with a nice loop of about 5.4mi. I also discovered some other backroads that will make nice long road runs if I ever need them while down there.
Total for the day was about 8.1mi. Not bad for no planning.

Wed 01/02/08
We got up at 4am in order to make it back to the Bay Area in time for work. The drive north and to both our offices was over 4hrs. Being tired and Frederick having a basketball game that evening meant there would be no running on this day.

Thu 01/03/08
I decided to go to work late as Freddy needed to be dropped off at practice at 11am. This allowed for a rare morning run. A simple 6mi on one of my standard routes around our neighborhood.

Fri 01/04/08
A busy work schedule, a brewing storm and the need to get Freddy to his game in SF by 6pm meant that this would be another day sans running. Furthermore, the storm coming in looked to be a monster. I had already given up on my original plan to join the Epiphany Ultra up in Oakland as I didn't feel ready for the distance or the conditions on the trail. However, I wanted to find some way to fit in some running over the weekend despite the weather.

Sat 01/05/08
My wife had to meet a colleague for breakfast meeting in Castro Valley so I decided that I would head over to Lake Chabot. I planned to get in about an hour mostly on the paved path and the flat parts of the dirt trail around the lake. The morning had been pretty mild so it was possible some of the Ephiphany runners might be hitting the turnaround when I was heading out. Leaving at 11am the next wave of the storm was apparently just getting going. My run of a little over 6mi was done almost completely in the rain and, as I learned later, was pretty much right during the worst part of the storm. On the way back the thunder and lightening started and one near simultaneous flash/crack race followed by the skies just opening up and completely dumping. I was drenched. While trying to change at my car, none other than Chihping showed up heading down towards town. He had started at 5am and was on his way to completing his full run. He said things were much nicer earlier in the day. However, there was no way I would have been up there at that hour to run with my local ultraholic!
Zane needed to head to work over in San Mateo after her meeting. I had brought more running clothes in order to do another run over on the Penninsula while she worked. My original idea was to do another run on the paved Sawyer Camp Trail at the Crystal Springs Reservoir. However, first I needed some new shorts as I discovered that I had only brought one pair and the ones I had used in the morning were still soaking wet. I headed to the local REI only to find it closed due to storm damage. Luckily the Road Runner Sports store was just around the corner. After buying some shorts I headed straight to the trailhead off hwy 280. However, that was also closed. I knew that the north end of this trail connected with the San Andreas Trail further up so on I drove trying to remember which exit would take me there. I eventually found the trailhead that begins on a short dirt/gravel single-track section for a bit over a half mile. This first section was pretty much a stream on the hilly parts so my shoes that had been drying under my car heater were immediately soaked. The rest of the trail is paved and about 2 miles long. The storm had mostly moved through this area so it was actually nice weather relative to my earlier run. I decided to do run the paved section out-and-back twice in order to get some decent mileage in. The total came to around 9.3 which summed up to nearly 15.5 for the day.

Sun 01/06/08
This day started out at about 4:30am with a family crisis which, luckily, only resulted in the fatality of a car. Circumstances necessitated that we not receive the full details until 9am so the morning was spent sipping coffee in a daze of worry and sadness. Yet another bad decision in my older son's life with repercussions that will, no doubt, reach far beyond the day that was still to come. The only positive that came of the morning was that I happened to be up and online at 8am so I went ahead and signed up for the Miwok 100K. After things were eventually dealt with as much as they could be until insurance adjustments, police reports and court appearances eventually unfold, my wife and I spent the rest of the day simply wandering both in body and in thought. We both decided that some exercise at the end of the day would be a good thing so that evening my wife headed to the gym and I planned a final run for the first week of the new year on the nearby levees. 8.1m on flat, soggy dirt as night sank in and rain continued to drizzle. The same distance that started the week, but on a very different terrain and on a very different emotional note.

The final running tally for the week was a pretty reasonable 45.7mi, all things considered. It's always nice being able to integrate my running in and amongst my other life commitments.

Welcome to 2008
On other running related fronts, I have decided to join my wife for a couple of days at the end of the month in Costa Rica. She is going to visit her brother and his family who live there. I was previously on the fence, but getting away together even for a short trip will be good after all the other things going on in our lives. This means that I won't be joining the Fremont Fat Ass 50K, but I will be planning my Quad MP the weekend before. I will post more details on it later. Also, my wife said I could sign her up for a local 5K so I will also be looking for one of those as well.

For better or worse, 2008 is under way. I have lots of plans for my running and lots of things going on in other areas of my life as well. Meeting goals as well as commitments, having fun while dealing with responsibilities and integrating work and play are the things that keep life interesting. Here's to a very interesting year (though, hopefully, not too interesting).


angie's pink fuzzy said...

wow - how scary about your son. glad he's ok.

miki said...

I've taken your idea about the treadmill at an incline. It's nice to add something new to my gym mix. Don't know why I never thought of it before. I guess I'm still fixed in that mindset of if you can't run on it, it's useless. Meanwhile I have now become frustrated that the incline only goes up to 15.

Hope your kid(s) stay safe.

Catra said...

Hey Steve I have done that loop many times.
Wish I could be out there with you but I have this little 100 miler to run that day ;) DARN!!!

Eudemus said...

Thanks Angie. We are also glad that nobody was hurt in the accident. However, that relief quickly gives way to the myriad of mixed emotions from disappointment to anger to just plain sadness.

Eudemus said...

Miki, I sort of agree about the incline as many of the trails I run seem much steeper (and certainly with worse footing). However, if it isn't challenging enough try cranking that speed up to see how fast you can go without breaking into a run. I have been amazed at how hard I can work when I am "just walking" for about an hour.

Eudemus said...

Catra, I may end up doing Pacifica 50K this weekend if my son doesn't have basketball. However, either way I may do (or re-do) the Mission Peak run in February as I need to continue getting the hills in.

Have a great time at HURT!