Sunday, September 2, 2007
Mile 75 from Mile 35 - Not so far away!
Here is a view of mile 75 from mile 35 on the Wasatch course. Cathrine's Pass is located just to the left of the biggest bump on the grassy hill, almost smack dab in the middle of the picture. Today I was running for 2.5 hours on the section near Swallow Rocks and Big Mountain just before the thunder storm hit. The weather is so unpredictable this time of year but one thing for sure is it will be hot when the sun is out and most likely you will get wet at some point, maybe even see some good hail.
I was wondering if any of the acclimation I had from the Leadville training would still be in my body when I arrived in Utah on Saturday. They say it all goes away after 14 days at sea level. I spent one week after Leadville between 3000-6000 but after that it was 400 feet. I am at 7,800 feet right now and I think I might still have some additional red blood cells to draw from. Yesterday (Sat.) I ran for 90 minutes mostly in 3A , 20 min. in 3B and it wasn't bad. Today I had 2.5 hours of training time and went running between 8,000 and 8,600, I could feel it just a bit but not nearly as bad as normal. The true test is a sprint up the stairs, do I see stars, is my breathing very labored at the top, do the legs feel heavy? Those are the questions I asked myself as I did the test sprint and though I did feel heavy lungs there were no stars and the legs were just a bit heavy.
While I was running this morning I saw a ton of moose prints so I kept a sharp eye out but nothing, only hunters. These hunters (at least that's what I think they were) were dressed in camouflage clothes, carrying backpacks and some sort of weapon that looked like a bow and arrow only much more serious. They were pleasant and looked happy to be coming out of the woods, I wondered if they were hunting moose? As I was driving up East Canyon I noticed the signs that said "No Dogs". I have seen these signs all over the course from miles 35 to 70. All the canyon areas don't allow dogs because it's a watershed. It seemed strange to me because of the abundant number of people and wildlife that roam the areas, no dogs in such a large amount of wilderness is different.
As I was making my way through my last training run of the season I was thinking about the Wasatch course and all the things I will encounter. The Wasatch is by far the most rugged and challenging of the SLAM courses and a couple of things this race will offer is one, a second sunrise and two technical downhills. So far I haven't seen a second sunrise while doing the SLAM. I came close at Leadville but managed to be asleep before the sun rose but not here, I will for sure see the next day and will be well into the second morning before I am done. More caffeine....that's how I will combat the desire to sleep :). I think being awake that long is tough and all the folks that do this regularly are very tough! It gets pretty warm here very fast, at least that's what I remember from running this course before. As you head into the finish you loose elevation and the heat starts to set in feeling doubly warm after the freezing temperatures of the prior night.
The other thing Wasatch is going to bring is the relentless technical downhills. Gone are the nice gradual freeway trails of WS100 and Leadville and there is only about 3 miles of road on this course. The rocks on the Wasatch course are the kind that follow you down the trail when your foot rolls off them. They're small and unattached to the ground, they blend into the dirt because they are the same color and you cannot avoid them. My technical running is not what it has been in the past. To run well on technical steep trails takes lots of practice and if you plan on being good at these types of descents in the late stages of your race it requires great quad strength. I think quad confidence is the most important skill/strength a good technical downhill runner can have. What I mean by this is at mile 75 when you know in your mind that your quads will hold or support your stride when taking the downhills strong. Every step needs to be an unconscious art of falling without falling and that means your quads have to hold. If you hesitate to think about your steps when your legs are tired it's mostly because you don't have the confidence your legs will hold on the fast turnover required on a steep downhill. Being light on your feet and barely touching down is also a learned skill but if you don't have the quad strength your light, efficient stride will not be enough. The technical aspects of Wasatch will be very challenging because I have not practiced any technical downhill running this year. Do I have the quad strength necessary for the last 25 miles of this course....I don't know. I figure by the time I get to mile 75 I will have had a good 20 hours of practice. :)
I have been very lucky with my feet thus far in the SLAM. No blisters, no taping, no changing shoes or socks, not even a re-tire of laces. Will I get to continue my steak with my feet?????? Wasatch will be a real test! Stacey did this course in 2005 and had zero blisters and no problems with her feet so I am going to remember that as my legs and feet twist and turn with all terrain.
I am excited!!! I can't wait for Friday to pick up Bill, Alex, Stacey, Micheal and Andy. Andy and I will be running Wasatch while Bill runs the Mid-Mountain Marathon and Stacey, Micheal and Alex crew. Stacey will be tapering for AC100M so she will only be running with me from mile 55 to 62 and Micheal will be stuck with me from 62 to the finish.