Friday, September 26, 2008

Video from Elbert

Since people seemed to enjoy the pictures from Mt. Elbert, I thought I'd dig up a little video I shot up there. You may notice that I'm a little out of breath, but the air was thinnnnnnnn!

I promise to stop reminiscing about my summer soon (at least publicly).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Climbing Mt. Elbert (14,433 ft.)

As I mentioned in a few previous posts, I spent quite a bit of time in Colorado this summer. One of the things I learned was that high altitude is a lot of fun and works for me. I hit lots of high altitude trails, learned to bring lots of layers and even traversed down a giant glacier without any special gear. Not the smartest thing I ever did, but one of the most fun!

But the achievement I am most proud of is summitting Mt. Elbert, at 14,433 ft. the highest mountain in Colorado. It's not a very tough mountain in terms of technical skills required, you just need big lungs, strong legs and be ready to face lots of false summits.

Old school

Elbert is near Leadville, CO, a pretty special place for us ultrarunners. I camped right at the bottom of the mountain at about 10,000 ft. (Prior to this summer, I had never been above 7,000 feet, btw.) and headed out at 5 a.m. one morning.

The climb starts out on a dirt road that my little civic would have succumbed to about a 1/4 mile in. If you have a big 4wd vehicle, you can drive the first two miles, but I didn't that luxury. It lead me through a beautiful birch tree forest and then some of the steepest trails I have ever seen. I honestly could not believe how steep that trail was at the bottom. It must have taken me about 30 or 40 mins or so to just cover a mile.

Just above tree line

But I was making quick progress anyhow. Soon, I was above the treeline and saw a large group ahead of me. I reached them as they were taking a break and decided to rest with them a little. To our left was Mt. Massive (the second highest in Colorado) and to our right the Ivy League Mountains (Mt. Harvard, etc.)....INCREDIBLE!

It was time to move on though, since it was supposed to storm early today. My strategy was just to put one foot in front of the other. And that worked better than expected. After only 3:10 I had finished the 7.5 mile treck to the summit.
Signed in

What a view it was! It felt like being in an airplane flying over the mountains. There were mountains everywhere and, boy, was it beautiful. I can't describe it. Pictures will have to speak for me here.

It was the middle of July...and in the 30s at the summit

Go Bears!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A New Life - New Trails

Prior to my last post, I was noticeably absent for about a month and a half. "Why?" you might ask. Well, life has turned around 180 degrees for me.

I had to return back to L.A. from my travels early to attend to a family emergency. Everything turned out fine (thankfully) and it allowed me to spend some more time with the lady (never a bad thing) and rest up a little before moving up to Berkeley.
Pretty typical view from the trails in Berkeley.

The move was relatively painless. It's great running here in late summer. The lows are in 50s, highs in the 70s...PERFECT running weather. And quite frankly, I'm getting spoiled.
Eucalyptus forest

And the trails. Boy, the trails here are amazing. There are so many here in the hills above campus, it's a giant maze. What's amazing is how quickly the vegetation changes. One minute, you're in a giant redwood forest, the next on an exposed trail surrounded by brush and grasses, and then you might hit a eucalyptus tree forest. I supposed that's due to all the little sub-climates here in the area.

Redwood Forest

Unfortunately, school has been extremely busy. Generally, I'm on campus 12 or so hours a day, followed by around four or five hours of studying at home. That leaves little time for running (and sleeping for that matter). I may not be running ultras this fall (school is supposed to get less busy after the first semester), but will hit some of the many short trail races here in the area. There are so many to choose from!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Hot Morning At The Redwood 30k

Some of you have e-mailed me or left comments, wondering what happened to me. Well, I'm still around, life has turned upside down, but I'm still running. More on all this next time.

How Not To Prepare For A Race
The Redwood 30k was always scheduled to be long run rather than a race for me. I knew it would be sandwiched in to a weekend of three straight DMB concerts at the Greek Theater. Friday night was the first show and, as usual, I refused to sit during the concert, but rather chose to dance (sometimes violently). Most of the time I probably looked something like this.

Needless to say, I went to bed exhausted only to wake up a few hours later to head out to the race. Races seem to start much later out West it seems. When I was waking up I appreciated the 8.30 start time; later on I would change my mind on that.

The Race
The drive over to the Oakland hills was uneventful, except that I had to turn around half way, since I had forgotten my hat as well as my ankle guards. In the end, I got there just in time to register and use the outhouse. I ran directly from there to the starting line and it was time to leave pretty much immediately.

Even though it was only 8.30, it was starting to get warm. Two things I don't get: isn't the Bay Area supposed to be around 67 degrees at all times? And why do heat waves always have to hit when I run races?

As I was considering these questions, I walked up the first big hill taking my sweet ole time. It's funny, I had just started to make a good number of friends in the Georgia trail running community to the point where I would always know people in races and had friends to catch up with. Now that process will have to start all over again.

In any case, it already started getting hot, and as we know from my disaster race at Pacifica, the heat is not my friend. I never really pushed the pace and took my sweet time at aid station 1 (4 mins) and aid station 2 (10 mins!). The food was really good, the people really nice and I was in no hurry.

The first 20k were run mostly run exposed fire roads and single track. The last 10k finally took us into the forest. But it was a brutal final 10k, somewhat reminiscent of the infamous powerline section at Sweetwater (though not as difficult, but much longer).

In the end, I posted a mediocre time of 3:41 and was completely beat up by the course and heat. Not my best race, but I had lots of fun and am looking forward to the next one.

Thanks to Sarah, Wendell and all the volunteers for putting on a perfectly executed event!

P.s. Next time, I'll bring my camera again.