Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jump Start

Today's 16.5 miles marks five days straight running--first time in a few months--the past 4 all on trails covering 47.7 miles and over 9500ft of climbing. It's a little early, but I am going to declare this my first official week of 2010 training. I'll probably do something easy tomorrow and then take Friday off before the weekend. I'm not sure what I'll do this weekend. If I'm feeling ambitious on Saturday morning the Epiphany Run will mark the first official unofficial ultra of the new year. I mainly just want to log a good week of miles to start off the new year.

Today's run was one of those rare sampling of new trails. While looking for someplace to run before doing some errands over in Palo Alto, I discovered the existence of the Bay-to-Ridge Trail. It's an interesting idea even if it does require a start and initial miles on pavement. Once the path reaches Arastrodero Preserve it's pretty much all trail to Skyline Ridge. As a future project, I think doing a "Bay to the Beach" run continuing on from Skyline Ridge through Long Ridge and Saratoga Gap open spaces to link up with the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail would be pretty cool. I was slightly less ambitious today starting in Arastrodero and continuing up through Foothills preserve to Los Trancos. I'd run in this last park before, but the rest of the trails were all new to me.

Arastrodero is mostly open grasslands with wide smooth paths. There are some nice looking single track, but all were closed due to muddy conditions. Foothills is a true gem, but is only open to the public via Arastrodero. It has some excellent winding trails leading gradually up to the ridge through deep tree cover. Very nice. I had a great time on this extremely runnable trails. I took it pretty easy, however, since I had done Mission Peak the day before. I will definitely have to sample these places out some more as there were many side trails leading off in all directions and it isn't too bad a drive since it is right off Hwy 280. Best of all, the experience of cruising along new trails having to force myself to turn around and head back was just what I needed to rejuvenate my passion for running trails in the new year.

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Perspiration's Inspiration

94. That is the sum total running miles I logged during the month of November. I'm over 100 for December thus far, but not by much. I always take some down time at the end of the year to recover both physically and mentally. This year has been a bit more "down" than normal. A busier usual life on both the personal and professional front has conspired with the usual holiday hubbub to leave almost no time for any weekday running. Well, that, and a near complete lack of desire.

After Javelina, I was trying to figure out what to do with the following month. Given that last year I spent the two months after this race rehabilitating a torn calf muscle, I definitely planned to take it very easy. I didn't want to take the month totally off from running; however, I wanted whatever running I decided to do to be about something. Perhaps I would dig up the heartrate monitor and limit myself to only very easy runs. Maybe I would only run when I could to a trailhead. In the end, I decided it was to be about inspiration; I would run only when I was inspired to do so whether it be by some interesting route, a new trail or just the return of the internal desire to move my feet.

I did force myself to take a full week off. Even though my legs felt better than they had after the previous year's race, I didn't want to tempt fate. The following Saturday, my first inspiration run came to me. Eschewing my watch, I placed my personal journal in my pack, put it on my back and headed out the door. The legs felt heavy, but I just kept them at a very slow pace. I was headed towards the Mission Peak trailhead, given myself permission to walk the whole way back if necessary. I headed up the trail taking the immediate right fork towards the less populated route. I headed up the Horse Heaven single track, but went off trail upon topping the first hill. There, on a rock overlooking the Bay, I took off my pack and sat. I spent the better part of the afternoon enjoying the view and writing. I had no concern for time and decided that I should go without my watch for the remainder of the month. Eventually I shuffled on home.

The next day I had a very odd inspiration, if you can even call it that. I hopped on the treadmill for 2-1/2 miles while watching a football game. I think I mainly just wanted to loosen my legs up after the previous day's run. The next weekend I had to wait for my wife to finish some work and so I went on a "run of opportunity" around the bay trail in Foster City. It ended up turning into a bit of impromptu speedwork as I kept pushing more and more as I ran along the flat path. I had no idea of the pace since I was without watch. The next day's inspiration had me putting the GPS watch back on the wrist, but not for myself. I was planning to visit my parents for dinner, but wanted to get a run in first. Upon learning that they would be watching my niece and nephew, I invited my sister's 10-year old son to join me on his bike. We traveled the flat, paved paths that run throughout Contra Costa County traveling a full 24 miles in about 4 hours. We had a great time stopping for ice cream at the turnaround point. I was glad I brought the watch because I knew the return trip would be filled with questions of "how far?" and "how long?"

The third weekend of the month consisted of just a couple of mid-length road runs that would normally be considered quite uninspiring. However, in each case I simply ran when the impetus struck. The final weekend was, perhaps, a bit more interesting. Having the Friday after Thanksgiving off, I headed down to Grant Park in San Jose. I hadn't run there in a long time, but it was a favorite destination back when I used to mountain bike. With a bit of rain in forecast, I found the park nearly empty. I saw one set of hikers as I headed out and then had the entire 13+ miles of trail completely to myself for the rest of the afternoon. Saturday I did a little 4 mile shakedown and then headed up Mission on Sunday for one of my favorite routes looping around the back side and heading out to Monument before heading over the Peak on the return.

The monthly miles may have been small, but every one was quality.

I'd intended to kick things back into training mode once December hit, but a continued busy schedule along with my old nemesis called "inertia" has kept that from happening. I started off with a descent week of 47 miles including a 23+ mile long run starting in Redwood City and going up to Skyline Blvd which was followed by 12+ miles the next day at Purisima Creek. Unfortunately, once the holiday's got into full swing the only thing that's gotten much of a workout is my liver. I do have this entire week off so I am going to make an effort to get on the trails every day. I'm also going to write a second blog entry this week ruminating on the past year's accomplishments and the coming one's goals.