Sunday, April 11, 2010

Running the Juan De Fuca Trail this Summer and "These old Shoes"

I have hooked up with several experienced and accomplished ultra-trail runners to run the full Juan De Fuca Trail this Summer. These guys are serious runners and masters with a several decade head start on me. I am afraid my inexperience at ultras will definitely shine brightly but I don't care I am just glad I found people willing to let me tag along on their adventure with them and that they trust in me enough to keep up. I really like having this goal to really propel my training over the next 3 months. I feel if I can run consistently for the next 100 days I should be able to keep up with them.

Several shots I linked from a google image search of the Juan De Fuca.

The trail is 47 km long and starts at China Beach and finishes at Botanical Beach following the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island. I think we are shooting for a time around 8 hours which seems slow but the trail is difficult with everything from boulder beaches to mud slides and shoots to suspension bridges. Though there is no spot along the trail with major relief the cumulative elevation is significant due to constant ups and downs over various headlands. I am way excited.

I may also may be running portions or all of the North Coast Trail as well this Summer. This rugged 60 km trail near the very northern tip of the island is a newly opened trail and looks truly epic. A nice write up by Ultra Runner Jeff Hunt can be read here. This would be truly challenging including sections that are so rough they are aided by ropes. It took Jeff and his party 11 hours and they appear to be great runners so I can expect much slower times. None the less it is exactly the type of adventure I could use this Summer.

I have a final on Tuesday and then I will be able to get serious into a training phase. I am looking forward to it.

I have really been digging a band called Deer Tick lately and have been enjoying a song called "these old shoes" quite a lot. I think the song makes me think about all my old shoes I have owned over the last few years and almost brings a tear to my eye when I remember all the beautiful miles of trails we ran together. Here is an animation and a live performance. I hope you like it as well. It kind of has a southern bluesy feel to it but great stuff.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mount Work TH to TH to TH double summit

I have not posted for a while for several reasons, first because it is obviously the end of the semester and I have not had the time to write about my life, secondly because it is the end of the semester I basically have had to take a small hiatus from running to get my final assignments squared away so I have not had any training runs worth mentioning on my blog to report, and lastly two weeks ago I was ill and took some time off to let my lungs heal. I am afraid this lung thing is still hindering my running but I am not letting it slow me down too much.

Since it was a nice spring morning and we are on the tail end of this 4 day Easter break I decided to crank out a double summit of Mount Work, starting at the north Trail Head running to the south Trail Head and then turning around and running back to the north Trail Head. The distance or elevation are not anything to write home about but it ends up being about 10 km with 1800' of vertical. Since I have been ill and running inconsistently the past few weeks the run was nothing impressive, but what a joy to get out there and push myself to the top of the mountain several times. The summit is not spectacular in itself but if you run to the south a few hundred meters the views really open up. I could see Victoria and the Olympic Range to the south and the Gowland Tod Range to the west. The trails were littered with uprooted fallen trees and branch debris from a Spring Gale that blew in the previous week (the same story on Mount Doug with many trees fallen across the trail, I am kind of glad I postponed my run during the worst of the wind for that very reason).

I had never ran the south side of the mountain and found the trails to be fantastic. The trails switchbacked through large forests of Arbutus trees and wound down the ridge to the shore of Fork Lake. I popped out at the Munn Road parking lot and turned around and began my climb back to the summit. There was a major difference with the run feeling much steeper heading up than it did when I was gliding down. I took my time and pushed hard and cruised beyond the summit and started my final descent toward the North Trail Head again.

I caught up with a couple who had started the hike the same time I started the run at the north trail head, and they stopped and asked me why they didn't see me at the summit and wondered where else I would have ran. I explained that I ran to the other trail head and turned around and came back. They couldn't fathom that someone would or could do that, let alone in the short time it took them to hike to the top once and get a quarter of the way back down. I think it is interesting that many people don't really ever consider running on the trails. It was intriguing to see them react to my trail running as if it was the first time they considered the possibility. I strongly urged them to give it a try and who knows perhaps one day I will see them out there running in the bush and enjoying the freedom that comes with trail running. I can't imagine spending my life not pushing my physical limits, I feel many people underestimate what the human body is capable of.

I actually was surprised at how easily my pace came and that I still had some fitness to draw from even though the last two weeks have been inconsistent and challenging at best. I only have another strong month of running before I teach Field School for the undergrads for a month, and then head straight to Utah. It is really important that I run consistent the next 30 days and throw in several long 3-4 hour runs with 3-5000 feet of vert if I want to be up to running the peaks and trails I am planning on running in Utah in May. I know I will be consistent. School is really starting to cook but with the longer days it shoudn't be too hard.

I can't claim discovery of my song today because I am going to repeat one that I first heard on Krupicka's blog here. It is called "Sweet Disposition" and is by an Aussie group called the Temper Trap. The song has U2-ish guitar riffs with awesome vocals. The first time I heard it on Krupicka's blog I thought it was good and then forgot about it, but last night Vye and I were watching So You Think You Can Dance Australia (a guilty pleasure) and saw a routine with the song and I suddenly really felt it, and it has been in my head since. So while running Mount Work this beautiful song was stuck on repeat in my head as the drama of my run unfolded under cool gray skies. It was EPIC. I hope you enjoy it.