Monday, August 19, 2013

Mac's Beautiful and Brutal

Went down to Mac Forest yesterday and dammit that place is really brutal.

Seldom do I go there alone but when I do I always try and link up a bunch of my favorite sections which actually make a pretty asthetically logical line up and down various ridges and hillsides.  Up the Ridge across to Dimple on almost all single track for the view there.  Bomb off the backside of Dimple and down into Oak Creek for some good turnover before jamming up S. Side Slip to McColluch Peak's amazing viewpoint.  Then it's another long speedy descent to Soap Creek TH before making my way back up to the Pass.  Sounds good?  Well it is... and it isn't.

The run is naturally beautiful and it's physically taxing, a combination I've grown to love, but at some point on every solo jaunt in the Mac I get a feeling like I am a bit lost and beat down.  Yesterday was no exception.  I wonder if the pauses to stop and figure out where I am and where I am going create this feeling of weakness.  Or if all my focus on uphill running has left my descending wheels (quads) a bit unprepared for those long descents?

Just a couple observations from my first long (timewise) run with the new fall/winter goals on my sites (post Hillclimb).  I've got some work cut out for me!

Monday, August 12, 2013

From the Land of Shakespeare and Hippies: Mt. Ashland Hillclimb Recap2013

Superfans (wife, mom, and people who should be doing something more productive than web-surfing) I bring to you a tale about a footrace up a hill in the land of Shakespeare and hippies--a land where high-culture-gucci-linens and no-bras-hemp-skirts seemlessly flow in unison up and down Main St.  A sort of Heaven on Earth for those who prefer extremities but odd for fodder for the eye for a farmer from Salem: land of moderation and mediocrity.

Anyway, a year ago I'd never heard of this iconic Southern Oregon race: the Mt. Ashland Hillclimb.  Sometime this Spring I did a little research after stumbling upon it someplace in the interwebs.  I saw that it was a very logical course from the town center to the top of the local ski hill, it had a pretty deep history of 30 yrs or so, it was competitive, it was affordable, and it gained 5600' in 13.3 miles.  It seemed so... European.  So Chamonix, if you will.  I was in...  within minutes of registration's opening up.

I decided that I would try and hold myself together this summer with this race as sort of a focus.  It was tough to do so as summer's are just so damn busy but I'd grade my training at about 80% of what I had hoped for it to be.  That said, the half marathon distance was much better suited to my summer schedule than last year's attempt to train for an August or September 50k.

We made it down to Ashland and eventually camp at Howard Prairie (east of town) in good speed and good fashion (just one headlight out).  Camp was a bit rowdy with thunder roaring in the night sky and a hearty serving of drunk boaters smashing beer cans on their foreheads (well, that's what it sounded like) but I slept right through it all after polishing a bottle of Chardonnay with Kattie.

Alas the race deets:  I don't know if it was something I ate (or drank?) or if I actually got some butterflies about about me but I felt like crappola the next morning.  My stomach was queezy and I was sort of lightheaded as we descended into Ashland.  Folks at the start line looked well-sunned and quite trim: the competition looked fierce even though everyone was just sort of mellowly jogging about and doing a little pre-race chatter.  They said go right on time and we took off up, up, up and away.  The queezys faded soon enough and I was able to stay focused on the shuffle of my feet below me.  The hills were consistently runnable and consistently "there".  Around mile 5 or 6 it seemed a bit steeper (a 10+ min/mile) in grade and mile 9 or so was sort of flattish (a 7 min/mile).  The final half mile from the lodge up to the summit had about 1-200 yards that could be run, the rest was super steep, hands on the knees or rocks in front of you climbing.

From what I recall, it was all jeep roads except one short spot leaving Bull Gap AS on trail.  After the first mile or so where everyone sort of settled into their general positions I was passed by one guy and I passed 3-4.

I finished the ordeal in 2hrs and 5min.  Good enough for 7th overall and 3rd in my ever competitive age group.  Almost everyone else in the top ten was from Ashland or some other hilly locale.  I was definitely the only flatland farmer in the mix.  As usual.

Kattie and Pete were at the top cheering and we stuck around a bit to witness others suffering before heading down the roads to the lodge 1000' below.  There we savored a beer got in the car and drove back to Ashland trying to figure out which ridge I'd run.  Lunch at Standing Stone was good and 10 bucks off thanks to their generosity and the race director's genius collaboration with them and all other awesome local biz.

The following day we went out to do a little recovery run around part of Howard Prairie Lake.  What was supposed to be 90 minutes (Kattie's schedule) turned into a 3 hr. 15+ mile epic that I don't want to talk about...  let's just say we should have turned around instead of getting the idea that we could just keep going around the lake (the lake that would never end!).

Following a brief disaster episode with 25cent 5 second showers we made our way out of boaters paradise and over to the hills of Jacksonville and the Applegate Valley for some wine country shenanigans.  Kattie brought bottles of fine Pinot from her work and we traded for 4 great bottles of awesomeness!  Mix in some tasting and cool people and it was fun as a day in this remote wine area can get!  Alas, a day that started off a bit rough finished a success.

Rodger out Superfans!  Hasta la vista bebes!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

senseless run chatter...

just checking in...  superfans I know it's been too long.  so many sleepless nights...

i don't think i mentioned it here on the world's sorriest running blog but a running buddy of mine (moreso in the fall/winter) Pam Smith won the Western States Endurance Run.  i knew she'd been training hard and performing well (PRs and wins all over the place!) since last Fall when i first met her.  i had a good feeling about how she'd do this year.  she didn't boast much but one can tell, even in the darkness of 5 am, she had that cool confidence in her eyes.  she knew she was up for the performance of a lifetime (so far).  she wrote a really good piece on irunfar about her preparation for the race (  she was up to way more than i was aware of!  very insightful article that i wanted to post here so i wouldn't loose it.

as for me...  been getting out there a bit.  went back to Buck Mtn. where all singletrack was widened to doubletrack.  at times i felt like it was a superhighway right through the woods but it is still a nice workout (with year around water for Pete the dog).  made it back to the mac for some mellow miles with mac and gabi last weekend.  refreshing to get out of town a bit.  other than that it's been the usual summertime mix consisting of a lowish mileage volume on the track, roads, and that dreaded mill.

racing:  did another 5k on Thursday night as cloudcover kept the combines quiet for a day and i actually made it home before 9 pm.  it was the Bush Park XC Series-Race #1 and it boasted some good competition which is probably what lead me to a 17:12 (13,14,15? still no results up yet) despite getting off-track twice on the mildly hilly course.  I think I took 4th (after some jockeying around in the last mile).  The best part about the whole thing:  I finally got the old-fashioned popcicle stick placeholder at the finish.  i'd been looking for a race that still utilized this technique and after 2 failed attempts i finally found a race that doles out the sticks!

1 week until mt. ashland.   Forest fires in the area are generating a lot of smoke and there is a small chance it will be a no go...  we shall see!  Feeling like I need some mellow recovery runs all week and with rested legs it could be a decent race.

future plans:  signed up for silver falls full trail marathon.  kattie's in the half.  that should be fun!  also working on a longer distance goal for Dec.  i'll be working on a plan to build mileage throughout fall as i work towards running a 68 mile mini-mountainous trail through my old stomping grounds in Malibu, CA. more to come on that!