Friday, April 12, 2013

Dawn Patrol - My Morning Run on the Ridge

Morning Reflections by Wayne-K
Morning Reflections, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

Last Saturday’s ten mile run on the Pleasanton Ridge was a success, meaning I didn't die or get injured. I focused on long, slow, distance (LSD) and didn't push it too hard. My objective was to finish the distance, without worrying about the time. My running program for the first month will be five miles on Monday, seven miles on Wednesday, and LSD on Saturday; all runs occurring on the Pleasanton Ridge trails. My Saturday LSD runs will increase by two miles per week for four weeks. I plan on assessing my fitness level at the end of the first month and will increase the days and mid-week mileage accordingly.

Kami had a softball game on Wednesday afternoon, so I scheduled my run early in the morning before work. “Dawn Patrol” typically refers to surfers who catch the early morning waves, but I decided a dawn patrol run was needed to squeeze my mid-week training run into my schedule. I started my run up the ridge at 6:30 AM and surprisingly, saw a few mountain bikers descending the ridge as I ascended it. More mountain bikers were enjoying the sunrise at the top of the ridge. I’m new to trail running, but I've noticed the trail runner and mountain biker crowds are a slightly different breed. I love the encouragement and positive energy many of these people offer. I typically run on the roads for the convenience and physical benefits, but trail running is an entirely different experience – it’s almost a spiritual revival. Once I hit the top of the ridge, I spent a few moments enjoying the warm, rising sun. The morning light was beautiful, so I took a few photos of the landscape along the way, capturing the green hills before they inevitably turn brown.

The plan for tomorrow is to complete approximately twelve miles. I mapped an “out and back” route that starts at the Staging Area trailhead, proceeds north along the ridgeline and down the Bay Leaf trail, with the turnaround point at the Sinbad Creek Trail junction.

Here are a few photos from my Wednesday dawn patrol run.

Short Stop to Enjoy the Sunrise

Sunrise on the Ridge

Park Boundary

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

No Pain, No Pain

Trees Behind the Fence by Wayne-K
Trees Behind the Fence, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I don’t mind pain, unless it’s me it’s inflicted upon.

On my first backpacking trip (not counting the 50 Miler we did as Boy Scouts), I was unknowingly dragged on a 28 mile trek on the Ohlone Trail in two days. Many hiking books rate this backpacking route as “very strenuous” when performed over three days -- and we did it in two. The death march began at Lake Del Valle, proceeded up a grueling hill, up more grueling hills, and continued across several more grueling hills, until we completed the 16 miles to the Sunol Backpacker’s Camp. My calves cramped, my quads cramped, and I was seriously considering cutting my legs off with a pocket knife. Fortunately (or unfortunately), one of the guys helped me ease the pain with an 800 mg Motrin and I was able to complete the 12 miles to Mission Peak on the second day. I returned home after successfully completing my first backpacking trip and things were great. Well, things were great until that 800 mg Motrin wore off. I could barely walk up and down the stairs in the house. After six weeks of physical therapy, I vowed never to put myself in that situation again. For future backpacking trips, I trained for six months, putting in the mileage on the road and running a lot of hills. Never again was I going to torture myself physically and mentally by not being in adequate physical shape. The fear of pain motivated me to put in the extra hill workouts, often late at night and often after a long day of work.

As I noted previously, I’m planning on pacing a friend on her 100 mile race (assuming I don’t die trying to get into shape in only four months). My “pacing” will consist of 20-30 miles, at high elevation, and with several thousand feet of elevation gain. Once again, the fear of pain is motivating me to put in the training hours. After a cautious five mile run on the Pleasanton Ridge on Monday, I used Tuesday as a recovery day, massaging my legs with a foam roller, stretching, and wearing compression sleeves on my calves at night and during the day at work. Today, I decided to try my seven mile route on the ridge – and it felt great! Depending on how I feel later this week, I’m considering LSD for Saturday – ten miles of long, slow, distance. I need to make sure I don’t ramp up too quickly and over-train or I run the risk of injury, but based on how I felt today, I think a slow ten mile run may be feasible.

Above is a shot from my run today. Not a great one, but I liked the way the low, afternoon sun lit up the trees, creating shadows on the wonderfully green grass. Within a few months, all of this green grass will be amber.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Escaping the Daily Routine

Trees by Wayne-K
Trees, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

A friend sent me an online article about breaking away from the mundane, day-to-day routine and actually making time to do things that are important to you. I would post a link here, but unfortunately I must have deleted the e-mail (I’ll need her to resend it). Anyway, as a result of reading the article, I set out to define the things I would like to do outside of the daily grind. One thing I wanted to do was run another trail race. The last race I ran was a 17km run at Muir Beach in December 2007 (or there about). My friend is an avid trail runner, so I asked her for recommendations. I didn’t want to schedule a race for December because it’s too cold and I wanted something sooner, so I would have motivation to begin my training immediately. She said, “Oh, you could be a pacer for me when I do my 100 miler in August.” After further discussion, I realized I would need to run 20-30 miles, at high altitude, with thousands of feet of elevation gain – clearly not what I had in mind when I asked for a suggested trail run. My four mile, flat runs with the dog were clearly not going to cut it. I would need to significantly increase the distance and intensity of my workouts, or she would be pacing me during the 100 miler.

I resumed my trail running on the Pleasanton Ridge a few weeks ago, but unfortunately developed Achilles Tendinitis. This was clearly caused by increasing my mileage and hill work too quickly. After a week of resting, icing, massaging, stretching, and ibuprofen, I decided to give the ridge another try today. I ran/walked my five mile route, walking up the hills to minimize the strain on my Achilles, and stretching frequently. I also stopped on occasion for some photographs. The afternoon light created nice photo opportunities of the West-facing landscape.

Here are a few photos from my training run today. I love my compact Panasonic LX5 camera and how easy it is to carry on my water bottle belt during my trail runs.

Fork Ahead

Fallen But Not Forgotten

Trail Sign