Monday, September 30, 2013

A Run Amongst Fairies Down in the Applegate Hills

After finishing the Mt. Ashland Hillclimb back in August Kattie and I headed out to enjoy some of the Applegate wine country we hadn't experienced on a previous trip.  We arrived at Wooldridge Creek and really dug not only the wine but the whole atmosphere.  We traded some wine from Kattie's work, got a tour and found out that there was a race coming up there later in September.

Turns out the race is ultrarunner and RD Tim Olson's Enchanted Forest Wine Run.  It's got a 5k around the vineyard and a half marathon that loops around the vineyard a bit and also climbs around in some nearby hillside trails.  It's got a fairy costume theme too which makes for fun spectating even if I couldn't piece together my own sparkles and wings. 

Well Kattie was hooked on the place's vibe and I liked the looks of the course and the idea of coming back down to SoOr one more time this year so I signed up a few weeks later (via snail mail!  something I've been wanting to do for awhile...  same catagory of weird goals as finding a race with popcicle sticks at the finish?  yep.)

Training (mostly for a longer effort this winter) had been going well and I had a few of pretty big (for me, for this time of year) weeks on my legs.  I took Friday before the race off from running and really felt pretty beat from all the miles and effort.  I still planned to give the race a good effort but focused on enjoying the scenery of the area.

As it turns out there would be more to enjoy than wine and a change in scenery... 
around 11 on Friday my buddy Nick shoots me a text from Seattle where he's been camping out with family.  He needs to get out of town and I half-jokingly tell him to come down and race!  Within about 15 minutes he says they (him and Caroline, his wife) are on their way down.  The weekend plans went from great to awesome with a couple of Kattie and I's favorite travel companions now joining in on the fun!

The following morning we jammed down I-5 as fast as a car full of tiny coffee filled bladders can go and showed up to the race about a half hr. before the start.  We got changed, did a sorry warm up jog, lined up and Nick and I took off together through the upper vineyards of the property.  Soon a gravel road gave way to a fast and awkward cross-country style course amongst the grapes.  Lots of sharp turns and quick little ups and downs.  Also lots of good signage but I still managed to miss a turn...  it's hard to read and run!

From there we left the vineyards and headed up a road section that was kind of hot but a nice change in pace from the dodgy vineyard section.  It wasn't long  and I was entering the woods which was refreshing and AS #1 was close.  I stopped and had a couple cups of water.  As I headed up the switchbacks I heard voices just below and hollared at Nick who I could see was still closeby.

The course was hilly but super runnable and nothing that seemed to go on for too long.  I really enjoyed it.  I had no watch and therefore no clue where I was at in terms of time or distance, kind of unusual for me these days.

I was in 3rd place and figured the two guys (Hal Koerner and another shirtless dude) that were leading were long gone.  Then, to my surprise I caught up with #2 dude as we re-entered a woodsy section from a grassy, exposed slope.  His name was Bob and he was a really nice guy.  We ran together for a bit before I felt like I could do more on a climb section.

I finished loop #1 and I knew that #2 had much of the same trail as #1 but didn't know which parts.  I kind of freaked out at an AS as it seemed/or I had a strange feeling that I was going the wrong way.  It was a really busy intersection with runners all over the place.  I asked the station crew if they had seen Hal and the guy said no...  That's when I got really flustered and sort of resorted to waiting a bit for Bob to come into the station.  He knew the way better than I and so I followed him hoping we were on the right track. 

After a minute I'd calmed back down and realized were I was headed.  I liked the parts of the trail that lie ahead and knew I could get back to the vineyard in one piece even if I pushed the pace a bit more.  Things came pretty easily and I didn't ever really push things too much as I winded around the hillside trail and eventually exited the forest for the road back to Wooldridge.  I caught a glimpse of Hal going through the vineyard and I was surprised, I figured he was done already.  It wasn't long after and I too was winding through the vines one last time before crossing the finish line in 1:41.

Kattie was all jazzed and I was pretty psyched on the performance.  I ate and drank water and waited for Nick who came in shortly after.  We all walked down to the road and cheered Caroline into the finish.  We enjoyed some food, wine and Nick and I even had a flash of cold sweats and gut sickness.  Weird.

We got some sweet prizes including a bunch of Injiji socks, shirts, shorts, and $100 bones at The North Face.  Then we gathered our wine and drove home into the eye of a nasty storm.

Really awesome day.  I wish I could make some comments about mediocrity as has been the theme of this blog lately but this one was above that in many ways.

movin to the finish in the vineyard.  photo: shahid ali.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

dull training post mid-sept

Training's going well!

Got a half-marathon, Enchanted Wine Run down in the Applegate Valley, and a full marathon, Silver Falls just outside of town, on deck but my sights are set on the Backbone Trail run I'll be doing in December. 

We're between seasons workwise and it's still pretty busy but I've managed to ramp things up just as much as time allows.  Still getting quality (speed/hills) work in as I did pretty much all summer.  It's the quantity work that is tough to make time for.  Just a week or two more and I should be able to make the most of weekdays and have more flexibility on the weekends.  Looking forward to that but I hope I can contain myself and not over-do things.

BOORRRIIIINNNG post!  I know.  Sorry.  Go somewhere else!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fast Mexi Running - Que Paso?

Dearest fans I am sorry but this isn't another gem of a post regarding some mediocre performance by yours truly.  It's not even about me.  It is about something I am fascinated with:  Mexican Running.  Mexicans have a long tradition of running places and have an entirely different perspective than most of us Northerly neighbors do.  I could go on about it but I'll save that for another post, or the book I someday author on the subject.

Anyway, I came acrossed a couple articles that more than anything else solidified my thoughts that Mexican running has fallen by the wayside.  These hombres used to kick ass on an international level and then just dissappeared.  Not sure about things on the trail/mountain running front but when it comes to the streets and track they aren't even a shadow of the powerhouse they once were.

Here are links to the articles that attempt to explain que paso con los Mexicanos:

Part Uno

Part Dos

Really interesting stuff.  Probably mostly has to do with $$$ as both articles point out.  The comments are worth reading as well.  If Mexico can recreate the training programs that once pushed legendary performances or if the running bug spreads organically as it has in the US (particularly trail stuff) look out--there will be a slew of muchachos pushing the pace from the South.

A brief sidenote from running but Mexico's national soccer performances seem to also be lackluster these days too.  Come on Mexico!  Ponte trucha!  Echale ganas!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Running Free: Mtns again!

Faithful followers:  Just another update to keep your dreams fresh...

Last week was a departure from all the street hustling I've been doing at 4:00 a.m. these days.  I labored the holiday weekend away on the farm and painting the house a bit before busting out of the civilized mundane for several runs in the wild lands of the NW.

Monday I made it up to Whetstone Mtn in the Old Cascades (Bull of the Woods/Opal Creek Wildnerness).  It was a 14 mile jaunt with 3600' ascent/descent.  Perfect temps and good company, William Swint and Mike B of Aumsville, made for a nice outing.  Got some views of a 30+ mile run along a beatiful line that loops out to Battle Axe Mtn.  We've made plans to give this a go in October.

Then I drove out to do some real mtn stuff in McCall, ID.  On Wednesday I was ridin high above 8000' scrunbling across the Idaho skies on the summit of Jughandle Mtn. with KT and Pete the Dog.  Thursday we opted for the flat 20 Mile Trail out of Upper Payette Lake before continuing up the road for a soak in Bergdorf Hot Springs.  Friday I went alone for a 20 mile run that left the lake just outside town and connected to the Crestline Trail which rides several ridges between mtn lakes galore.  The views were awesome!  Nice cool temps, especially up above 7000' (which was all but about 4 miles of the run).  Saturday we ran the farm roads out to the Payette River for a little shake out before we headed home again.

To stoke the fire some more I also drank a shitload of Pabst, tequila and mescal.  It was vacation: excess! excess! excess!

Nice to be out in nature.  I am feeling great and refreshed.  Fired up a track workout this morning and hoping to keep the momentum going with more outings into beautiful new places as we move into Fall (my training-year Spring).  Really going to stress the volume (long runs) and climbing without pushing things too much.  If I can't do it again the next day, I am not going to do it.  That should get me ready for this winter's goal: the 68+ mile Backbone Trail across the Santa Monica Mtns in good time.

Dream mediocre and it's easier to acheive!  Cheers!