Monday, July 29, 2013

White River 50-mile race

On January 6, I signed up to stand here (with 326 other people, it turned out):
2013 White River 50-mile endurance run.
At the time I'd never run more than 15 miles at one time. Sure it was on a bit of a whim, but I was psyched on the trail running I was doing every weekend on the North Shore, in the rain, and figured I'd "get there" eventually.

Fast forward to last Saturday and Dave, GregPaul (from Portland) and I are lined up a few rows back from the front, mildly shivering, at 6am waiting for things to go. Funny that Dave's blog was the first one I read on White River, and here we are together.

At all the prior races I'd done (besides when I've run with my brother) I hadn't really known anyone in the community. Beginnings were always a bit solitary until I got a few miles in and chatted with whomever I was running with.

But standing on that gravel road on Saturday, it felt really nice to be with a group of people I consider good friends. They knew this was my "big race" and they had been supporting me and pumping me up for the last couple of months. I really appreciate that.

Writing about more than nine and a half hours may be too tedious for most, so I will try and summarize:
  • Being able to run with friends and talk about all sorts of stuff makes the miles fly by. It's mostly runnable up the first climb and Dave and I reached Corral Pass in three hours.

Before Corral Pass, ripped Dave and spider monkey me; Glenn Tachiyama photo.

Glenn Tachiyama photo.
  • I ate three pieces of water melon and an orange slice. My stomach, which had been fine, knotted almost immediately.
  • Dave kept on after I had to stop for a pee break and I ended up running the descent to Buck Creek with a few different people, and got to enjoy some time with Greg again.
Crew member Lily taking self portraits while waiting for me at Buck Creek AS (mile 27). She later told me I was "late."
  • In the first half I'd been able to eat around 800 calories, which is about what I would normally eat, but every time I had something it made my stomach tight for 15+ minutes. I had a cold coconut water at Buck Creek that didn't upset my stomach and I only grabbed some jelly beans and a few gels from the bags my family had for me there.
Arriving at Buck Creek in 4:55, which was about what I expected; Mom photo.
  • Starting up the second climb to Sun Top I can eat a few chews and a gel, but that's it. I get ice water at Fawn Ridge (mile 31.7) and am sort of loosely yoyo-ing with a couple of guys but it's getting hot and we aren't really talking more than a couple of words per mile.  
Just before the Sun Top AS; Glenn Tachiyama photo.
  • As I cross the road leading up to Sun Top I see Dave descending. I give him a whoop and when he comes down the road all I can hear is him yelling, "GIDDY UP!" 
  • The descent from Sun Top to Skookum is rough; a lot like Mountain Highway on the North Shore but more consistently steep and super dusty from vehicle traffic. My feet started to hurt and I could only pull 8-8:30 miles on the way down. 
  • At Skookum I congratulate Hardrock Hobbit Hewey as he refills my bottles and hands me a cold sponge to cool my head. Two half-cups of coke, the first I've had all day, and I finally relent and put in my headphones to try and manage the last 6.5 miles of rolling trail. 
  • I made it, but to be honest I really faded on those miles, reduced to hiking almost every "hill". I got passed by four or five people and while not bonking, I just didn't have much energy.
  • A big thank you to Kevin Smythe, who was ultra-generous and didn't pass me in the last 100 yards when I'm sure he could have blown by me.
Hiking up a Skookum "hill"; Takao Suzuki photo. 

Last year Dave made a time chart for 50-mile trail runs, as it's kind of hard to think about if you're not running them yourself. For people not familiar with trail ultras, it is a good basic "guide":

I had a goal of sub-10, not for any good reason, just because it's where I thought I would finish. 9:30 was probably about the fastest I could see myself going. 

I finished in 9:39:55 (63rd out of 286 finishers; 41 DNFs). Dave obliterated his 2012 time by 58 minutes, finishing in 9:10; Paul was only ten minutes back in 9:20 and Greg came in at 10:20 (saying he had a rough second half).
Dave, Paul, me. 
Awesome course, amazing volunteers (super fast and attentive) and good friends. I also got to meet some fellow PNW runners that I'd previously only known virtually, and know I'll be seeing some familiar faces at Angel's Staircase in two weeks. 

I was really inspired by some of the runners that came in later in the day as we were leaving. Lily and I stopped (as well as Dave in his car behind us) and clapped for every runner on the road; they were coming in around 13 hours, with big smiles on their faces and giving us thumbs-up.

Thanks to all the White River organizers.

As Dave said, "Giddy up!"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Central Cascades with DaveS and GregH

(Link to Dave's good photos from the trip as well as his other training from the week)

Old growth forests, lots of creek crossings, nice views, good climbs and the worst devil's club bushwhack ever. We had a little bit of everything yesterday out in the Central Cascades just west of Stevens Pass.

Our inverse lollipop: up Deception Creek to the pass, over to Marmot Lake, back to the pass and on the PCT to Surprise Mountain, summited, descended via the gap, out Surprise Creek, back to our start.
There were quite a few blowdowns on Deception Creek, especially between miles 3-6, or so. Most of the early crossings have footlogs, but later toward the pass it's just easier to ford everything.

Dave crossing Deception Creek (mile 7ish?).
Got up to the pretty meadows of Deception Pass and hung a right over to Marmot Lake, which along with little trout feasting on the bugs, looked perfect for an ice-cold dip.

Greg in the Deception Pass area.
Marmot Lake.
"Aid station" below Marmot Lake.

Sup Dave? PCT toward Deception Lakes; Mt. Daniel (r) and Cathedral Rock (l).

Looking north from Surprise Gap.

SE on the right, NW on far left, from the summit of Surprise Mountain, 6,330'. Some notable peaks: Mt. Stuart, far back right, Glacier to the north and Sloan in back left. 
Me, Greg, Dave.
Dave descending from Surprise Gap to Glacier Lake.
Tough to get back to Deception Creek from the Surprise Creek TH. We tried to go on the doubletrack under the powerlines which was awesome for about a mile, and then turned to absolute bushwhack. We made our way down to the RR tracks and made it the half-mile back to Deception Creek. We all had very intimate encounters with devil's club. RR tracks or highway 2 for the whole way would be much easier, but notably less safe.

It was an awesome day, and my last long run before White River (which Dave and Greg also are running). See you boys in two weeks!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Manning Park - the North Cascades in Canada

Finally got a chance to check out the North Cascades on this side of the border, in EC Manning Park (just a few miles from the June outings on the US side).

I did the two main loops that make up the Frosty Mountain 50k race route. Definitely a nice alpine course with lots of climbing!

The trails all are in great shape with only a few patches of snow, but not on any super steep areas (two sections on the Frosty ridge trail before the summit junction and some long, flat areas in the larch meadows). The ridge to the summit is clear and all of Skyline is as well (though there are blowdowns from previous seasons on both sections of Skyline).

The best part, besides the views, was soaking in the Similkameen River at the trailhead: it was ice cold and I only lasted seven minutes until I couldn't feel anything below my waist.

Frosty Mountain trail, after the PCT junction.
On the ridge toward Frosty, mile 7 (starting from Windy Joe TH).
Looking up toward the 2,408m (7,900ft) summit on Frosty.
Mountains galore, looking from northwest (r) to south (l). 
Frosty summit.

Skyline 1 trail; Hozomeen in the center background.
Donation to the trail gods; need to start watching where I'm going...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Devil's Dome loop pics from Dave and Richard

Dave's blog entry with pictures and some video.
Richard's training entry.

A few more photos:

Panorama from Devil's Dome, looking south; my photo.

Route finding through central Jackita Ridge; Richard's photo.
North Fork Devil's Creek headwaters; cross-country travel from here up to Devil's Ridge; Dave's photo.

Leaving the summit of Devil's Dome, looking west; Dave's photo.

Devil's Dome group shot. Thanks Richard!

Action Dave descending from Devil's Dome (I butt-glissaded...); Richard's photo.

Shuffling along the East Bank trail; Richard's photo.

Discussing who is wearing the better freebie race shirt; Dave looks seriously unimpressed...Richard's accidental "self-timer-not-on" photo (at least I hope that was the case).

Done....for today.