Apologies for the long gap between posts. Winter is a fairly boring time of year for me in terms of climbing (as in nothing really happens). I spent much of the winter running and training for various objectives. I’d like to highlight some milestones for me this winter/spring…my first trail Marathon in February, and my first 50k in April!
I know many people who are race driven when it comes to training. They have a target race and time, and then they move backwards the necessary number of weeks and find their training start date. I’m…a little different. As a member of Search and Rescue, I need to be at a good fitness level year round, as it’s a roll of the dice if we get called out on a trail pick up or a snow/bushwhack/scramble fest 10 miles in the backcountry. So I approached my running coach (more on this later) with the goal of this:
- Good enough condition to run 13 miles with no ramp up/warm up/pre-race planning, sub 2 hrs
- Good enough condition where I can respond to a SAR mission on relatively little notice, and carry a 40# pack. Distance, elevation, etc, less than 20 miles and 6k gain
- Good enough condition where 20+ miles hike with a 25# pack would not require significant preparation
These are some fairly lofty goals, and there really is no stop point. It’s a constant, never ending cycle of training and preparation. And this cycle started off in October of 2017 and hasn’t let up. I started with Uphill Athlete, and worked my way through their 24 week Expedition training plan. Then I moved to a marathon training plan, followed closely by a maintenance plan by Mountain Tactical. I’ve now been under the coaching of Alison Naney with Cascade Endurance since November 2018, and I must admit, the gains in terms of power, speed, and stamina are amazing. Never would I have that I’d be able to achieve this. There were definitely days where I did not want to do a run at 0600 in the cold, dark, rain, and solo. There were weekends where the thought of doing back to back 5k gain days made me feel sick. But throughout all this, with the support of my loving (and patient) wife Lily, the inspiration/competition by my friend Matt (go read about his exploits here http://www.mattkurjanowicz.com/), and the awesome coaching by Alison, we’ve been able to reach this point. And I think this will just be a springboard to new adventures I have planned
Fort Ebey Kettles Trail Marathon – February 23rd
- Distance: ~26.2 miles (my Fenix said 23 miles. You’re wrong Garmin)
- Elevation change: 5,500′ up…..Garmin lies and said 4,900′
- Weather: A mix of really cold and windy by the water, to pretty nice and warm in the trees
- What did I eat: Skratch (strawberry, orange), Skratch Bars, grapes, Pringles, tomato soup, and cookies
- Suffer Factor (out of 10): 8, because god damn trail marathons are hard
- Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2170509965
My first trail marathon! I’ll admit, after running my first (road) marathon in September, I had the bug to run even more. So after a well earned 2 week reprieve from most running and physical activities, I decided to start training with Alison Naney with Cascade Endurance. My actual goal was to train for a 50k, and this trail marathon was just supposed to be a training run.
After months of running trails around Cougar, and a few weeks of schlepping in the snow, the day arrived to run Fort Ebey Kettles. This rolling course consisted of two 13.1 mile loops, gaining a total of 5500 feet in 26.2 miles. This didn’t seem too bad in my mind…then I realized that the course low and high points were sea level and 300 feet. Which means a lot of rolling hills. Lets just say my legs weren’t too happy at the end of it.
Huge shout out to Lily for cheering me on as I made myself suffer through this. I distinctly remember at the 13.1 mile aid station she asked me how I felt…and my response was “I felt like I just ran a half marathon and I have another half to go”.
So yeah, that about sums it up. Pretty intense marathon…but I’d totally do it again!
Training Week March 25 – March 31
This particular week of training marked a high point in my training cycle. Literally. The Saturday of this week, March 30, marked the highest elevation I’ve ever climbed to; Mt Hood at 11,249′ (read the trip report here https://havesnacks.com/2019/04/01/mt-hood-pearly-gates/). The next day, I followed through on my training hike of 4.5 hours of Cableline, which added another 6200′ gain to the list. Sunday night was a SAR mission, which added another 500′. Combined with the earlier week training hikesruns of 2500′ and 3000′, my total elevation gain for this particular week was almost 17,000′ gain, 12,000′ of which came on the weekend!
Yakima Skyline 50k
- Distance: ~31.5 miles
- Elevation change: 9,200′
- Weather: Sun. So much sun. Maybe a cloud or two
- What did I eat: 4 liters of Skratch (strawberry), pickes, grapes, cookies, and McDonalds
- Suffer Factor (out of 10): 10. Type 3 fun of 10. Never again (this course)
- Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2306079655
This was, by far, the toughest thing I’ve ever done. Steep hills, exposed to the sun, high temperatures…a giant mix of suffering. Even with all the snacks available, I’m not sure I’d ever want to do this particular race ever again. Not exactly the best choice for a first 50k.
The first 3 miles gained approximately 2100 feet, but a majority of it was in the last mile and a half. The trail itself was fairly dirty, with rocks everywhere, but the last quarter mile was extremely steep on dirty (which made it very interesting for the descent).
The ridgeline portion followed a rolling 4×4 road across the ridge, which then took a sharp left down another steep, dusty hill. At the bottom was our first full aid station (8 miles in)
The next portion consisted of another ascent up yet another exposed, grassy hill and down the rocky backside to an aid station at 15.5 miles.
Then we turned around and came back to the start.
I’m typically more descriptive and can talk more about the sites and sounds…but this course really got to me. I was contemplating giving up multiple times. The first 13 miles went great; energy, body, and mental game were on point and I was feeling good. Mile 13 to 15.5 saw the development of a slight side cramp, which I was able to resolve once I got to the aid station with copious amounts of pickles, electrolytes, and water. Miles 15.5 to 21 saw the development of muscle fatigue in my right leg. Then I ran out of water
The sun was relentless. It was 2-3 miles to the next aid station, and we were the last 10 runners on the course. I started taking the downhills slowly and tried to conserve energy as much as possible. I definitely was thinking about dropping at this point. Then we arrived at the station, and all my immediate problems were solved. I’m pretty sure I dumped a few cups of ice water on myself, drank a few more glasses, put a small pickle farm out of business. And I felt good. Good enough to keep going
Then both legs started to get muscle fatigue. By the time I got to mile 26, I was basically ready for the day to be over. Yet another 5.5 miles to go….
The views were outstanding when I got a chance to look around. Unfortunately, I spent a majority of the run looking at the dirt. I took a lot more photos, but my phone reset before I could back most of them up. Womp womp…
I swear this isn’t a post to complain about the course. I knew what I was getting myself in to when I signed up. In retrospect, a 50k with a little less elevation gain (and more trees) would have probably been smarter. But oh well! Now to finish recovering and look for my next 50k =)