Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Before I dive into the relatively uneventful fourth iteration of the annual Cypress to the Sea (CTTS) migration, I think I need to catch up on the last couple of months of running for me.

November and December were pretty laid back for me training wise.  I definitely backed off of the mileage and intensity, focusing more on daily movement, strength, and storage of energy (also known as getting fat).  It was a conscious decision to have an "off-season" as I have come to realize that year around training is just unsustainable and un-preferable for my well being.  Last year I took all of December totally off from training which had the awful effect of making "getting back in shape" an incredibly painful experience.  I needed it though.  I was burnt out.  I also learned some valuable things when I did try and come back from "no running", as in, don't rush things, or else you pay.  This past off-season I was not burnt out and just wanted to really recharge the batteries, so I opted for a more active layoff.  I think it payed off.

January I slowly picked up the training once again and everything has been going really well.  I felt like I was getting stronger with every run.  I also changed up my training this year as last years training was obviously woefully insufficient as evidenced from my race performances.  I have a theory of the culprit:  the easy runs were TOO easy.  As in I never allowed my easy runs to be the driver in my aerobic development and just lived for the workout.  I generally tweak something with my training plan every year to see what works for me, and just working out did not deliver.  So now I am making the easy runs the emphasis of my training with a few workouts thrown in.  The aerobic development has been coming along nicely with a typical week of running looking a little like this:

Saturday: 18 mile trail run
Sunday: 16 mile trail run
Monday: 6 mile in the am, another 2 at noon followed by some gym work
Tuesday: 13.5 in the am, walk at noon
Wednesday: 7 in the am, 2 + gym at noon
Thursday: intervals in the am, 6 mile at noon, racquetball in the pm
Friday: 5.5 in the am, 2+gym at noon

Usually 75 to 85 mpw.

The weekend of CTTS was a big one from a "long-run" perspective.  I had not really had a long-run in a while.  What I mean by long run is something in the 5+ hour range.  On Saturday I participated in the "Second Saratoga Fat Ass".  It is a 50k challenging trail run with three 10 mile loops starting from the Saratoga Gap.  The last two years I quit after two loops, so I had a little bit of redemption intended for myself in this run.  I took it easy because I knew that I had to recover in two days so I could tackle CTTS on Monday.  I allowed room for canceling CTTS if things didn't go too well, but thankfully everything weny without a hitch and recovery was cake.  I started out on the Gap trail running the first couple of miles with Amy Burton and catching up on how things are going with the Burtons lately.  Once we hit the downhill at the woods trail I started to pick up the pace a little bit and was seeing if I could catch up to Pierre and Keith Blom.  I had them in my sights by the Castle Rock Trail Camp and then took a shortcut, hoping to catch them.  Actually I figured they took the shortcut too, but they went the long way (Keith later explaining to me that it is good training to NOT take the easy way in anything - probably good advice for 100 training).  We then ran the rest of the loop together while I chatted their heads off about running, training, the usual stuff.  By the time we refueled at the Gap for the start of loop two, Pierre took off on me.  I have a feeling he was getting sick of listening to me so he put some distance on me.  I told Keith that I should probably try and keep pace with Pierre, so I took off after him.  But he was bombing the STTS and I came to the obvious conclusion that he was done "chatting" with me, so I just cruised along.  That is how the three of us separated ourselves.  Near the end of the climb out of the second loop Keith caught up to me with a surprisingly strong hike.  I really need to pick up some hiking tips from some of the older folks who just seem to know how to push the uphills when running seems to be out of the question!  I spent some time refilling my hydration pack at the trail camp, knowing that this was probably my last chance for water (I forgot to bring some in my truck for refueling!).  So then I just finished the hike and then ran the last three miles of the loop to the Gap.  This was all very smooth, I wasn't really pushing myself, so it was just cruisin...  I started loop three and then hit the steep downhill of charcoal road.  Near the bottom I found Keith again and he cheered me on.  He was definitely having a good day.  His PR on this particular course was 5:59, and he was on pace to destroy that time.  He took a little break and I went on.  The long climb on the Table Mountain trail is always fun for me.  I like the single track, wooded, secluded nature of it and it is a nice long hike.  I found Amy near the top on the outbound where she indicated that she was just going to do an out-n-back on the single track to avoid the fire-road, which actually sounded like a pretty good idea to me.  She also indicated that her legs were just shot, but she seemed to be in good spirits and it was good to see her toughing it out as she was sharing her difficulties with getting her fitness back from the holiday break.  Later on the Gap trail Keith L. was on the out-bound for the last loop and told me that Pierre only had half a mile on me.  I thought that for sure he was farther away than that, so that put an extra pep in my step to make me think that maybe I could catch him.  But it was too late.  He finished in 5:20, I had 5:25, and Keith rolled in with a 5:30, taking 29 minutes off of his PR!  It was a great run and the hot dog lady was there so I wolfed down a couple of dogs and sodas, the best six bucks I ever spent.  Amy finished in a sub 6 with a long-bounding stride, evidently her legs returning to her miraculously (I'm sure the thought of the sub 6 had nothing to do with it...).  And I just assume that Keith L. finished because he is tough like that.

Then it was time for some serious recovery to get ready for Monday.  I slept a lot and ate a lot.  I even did my Sauna-Steam Room-Cold pool routine on Sunday morning.  Everything worked like clockwork and I was ready to roll on Monday morning:

Start from the house at 5:30

Rancho by 6:50

Strange lookin bearded dude at the top of PGE

Black by 8:25

Table by 9:55

STTS by 10:25

Waterman Gap by 11:30

China Grade by 12:33

BB Headquarters at 1:17

Berry Creek Falls still going strong through the drought

I always love seeing this view

Ocean by 3:15

Not Bad!

My posse.

Partner in crime.
I wish I could explain some drama or some sort of incredible obstacle overcome, but really, everything just went about perfect.  The weather was basically as good as could be.  The one hitch I suppose was that they capped off the water at Waterman Gap, which is a very strategic refill point on this route, but I had scouted this out in December and knew it was going to be a possibility, so some rationing was in order.  Never fun, but it wasn't too bad.  Joanne had made me some granola bars that were perfect for my calories and really yummy.  I covered the 45 miles in about 9:45, which was very close to the same splits from last year.  Joanne and the kids had arrived at the beach around 1 p.m. so the kids got all kinds of beach time before I arrived.  After I touched the water they made sure I checked out the Pirate ship they had constructed out of drift-woods and rocks, and the boys showed me their rock throwing skills.  All in all, I am very happy with the fourth year in a row of completing this trek of mine that was my original impetus for getting into ultra-running.  I hope I can keep this streak going!


  1. Make that a hot-looking bearded dude. :) Love you!

  2. Cypress to the Sea - sounds like a good training route, but only if you have a ride at the end of it! Glad to see you running well again!

  3. What an epic adventure! Glad to hear that the training is going well.