Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mile Repeats on the Trails

How many of you have ever followed a training plan that included intervals, tempo runs, or speed work of any kind? Most runners have and most end up doing track work. I don't have anything against track workouts, it's just that I don't have any interest in doing them anymore. I would rather continue to hit the trails. A wise man (or woman) once said, "Hills are just speedwork in disguise." Most of the trails around here have plenty of hills, so I should get plenty of "speedwork".

This morning I hit the Port Gamble Trail System again. I ran 5 miles or so looking for a nice single track loop to do some future mile repeats. I found a sweet loop of approximately 1.25 miles or so. The loop included beautiful rolling single track interspersed with a stretch of logging road. For those of you who live locally, start at Gate 3 and hit the single track between G-2100 and G-1800. If you are interested in repeat loops of any distance, you will have a blast. The photos on this post all come from the mile loop, the view is quite a bit better than what you will see at the track.

This evening I plan on exploring another section of single track up near G-1700 and G-1800. The single track isn't listed on the map, but I will try to describe it well enough for the locals to check it out! Click here for map of the area.

Looking for an article regarding a workout trilogy for a hectic schedule? Click here for a good article from Trail Runner Magazine.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunshine and Single Track

My legs were a bit tired because our family snowboarded/skiied somewhere around 15,000 vertical feet yesterday up at Stevens Pass. Blue skys, short lift lines, and GOOD TIMES! However, as I semi-hobbled down the stairs, I knew I better get some coffee and head out the door if I wanted to get my long run in before noon. You can see why I wanted to get outside this morning...Check out the shot of the Brothers peak up in the Olympic Mountains from our window below. The Brothers are a double peak that sit at about 6500 feet. Looking forward to climbing Brothers with my brother this summer. More on that in a later post...

This morning as I was getting ready I remembered a package that was sent to me by Clif Bar and Company. I brought the Clif Shot Cran-Razz Electrolyte drink on my run, to give it a try. I was hoping to find a not-to-sweet electrolyte replacement drink before my 50-miler in April. I think I may have found what I was looking for. More often than not I think an electrolyte drink is either too sweet or too bland. This one was just right...I didn't even have any gastrointestinal distress after drinking, as is usual the case with sports drinks for me...too much information? I also like the fact that it is made from more than 90% organic ingredients.

The trail run this morning was sublime. 15 miles of cruising through the mud, grass, dirt, and rocks that make up the Port Gamble Trail system. I planned on running from 12 to 15 miles. I ran on the high end of my plan due to the fact that I became temporarily disoriented on the trails this morning. I regretted not bringing my trail map, but all in all I was happy because it forced me to run further than I felt like today.

Somewhere around mile 7 I turned off my music and enjoyed the sounds of the morning. Normally my ragged breathing becomes somewhat of an annoyance, but it invigorated me this morning. It reminded me of the fact that each day I hit the trails I get stronger both mentally and physically. I also felt an immense sense of connectedness with nature as I listened to the soft sounds each foot strike made upon impact with the pine needles and fallen leaves. As I see people running the roads around here, I cannot believe they aren't taking the opportunity to run the trails.

If you are a fan of Bob Marley, you probably love the song, "Redemption Song". There is a great line that starts like this: "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind...". For me, running the trails helps free myself from all of the mental chatter I tend to experience on a regular basis. When trail running alone, most of the time my mind is quiet and my body is feeling that sense of connection to nature. I am sure Bob Marley wasn't talking about trail running, but the song speaks to me nonetheless!

Well, getting ready to take advantage of the sunshine. We are thinking about hiking up Mt. Walker or Green Mountain as a family this afternoon. Next week I hope to hit my first 20 miler in a long time.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fishline 50K/25K Trail Race

The good people from Poulsbo Running put on a great run Sunday, February 14th. This race was the fourth edition. One of the best parts about the race is that it is FREE! All participants had to do was bring a canned food donation for North Kitsap Fishline. Fishline is a local foodbank that provides confidential help for those in need in the community.

I ran the 25K after having not run more than 6 miles at a time since October. The course was rolling and consisted of both single track and logging road. Those runners looking for an added challenge did the 25K loop twice. The race started at Gate 4 off of Stottlemeyer Road in the Port Gamble Trail System (Pope Resources Land).

I have to say I really enjoy the vibe at trail races vs. road and track races. Not to say that people aren't cool at all races its just that trail runners have such a relaxed attitude. How many times have you seen someone pulling over for a bathroom break on the track or roads...not very often. The trails are a totally different story. Not that I wish to focus on that aspect of trail running here...maybe another time.

Last year the Fishline trail race was very interesting in that some of the course was covered in 5-6 inches of snow. This year there was mud and lots of it. The course is absolutely beautiful with miles of pristine single track. By pristine, I mean lots of mud, roller coasters, and uneven terrain. Simply awesome...

I decided to take it easy the first 5-7 miles or so. I was thinking if I relaxed the first part of the run, I could pass people at the end. This is much more motivating than getting passed by others. At about mile 3 or 4 I met a really interesting guy who has started 12 different 100-mile races and finished 8 of them! We were chatting and all of a sudden he told me he was going to pull an "ultra" move. By that he meant he was going to conserve some energy up a steep incline and walk. I turned around and realized his "ultra walk" was just as fast as my run. Anyhow, he was running the entire 50K and I am sure he did well.

I was feeling a bit tired through some single track around mile 6. All of sudden the Smashing Pumpkins came blaring through my IPOD. The song was "rat in a cage". I don't know about you, but sometimes life can make one feel like a rat in a cage. Back-to-back meetings and pushing paper in the office can give one that feeling. However,out in the woods, it is impossbile to feel this way. This inspired me to pick up the pace. I was not going to be a stinking rat in a cage! I was tranformed into a deer nimbly making my way through the forest. What a rush...

About a mile and a half later after a steep climb Ray Lamontagne and the song "Trouble" began speaking to me through the IPOD. I realized my little speed burst may have gotten me into some trouble. Legs were heavy, breathing labored, Ray Lamontagne crooning that he had been "saved by a woman". Could it be? Could I too be saved by a woman at this point? I had visions of trail fairies flying through the trees to provide some didn't happen.

Thankfully the race was really well marked with flour and pink ribbons on the trees. The volunteers did an excellent job for sure. However, at around mile 9 I came to a point where you could either go straight, right, or left. I looked right, looked left and didn't know which way to go. To my relief a guy came running up behind me and I asked him which way to run. He must of been a volunteer for the race because he said, "We really should have marked this better". He pointed straight ahead. This guy was really being kind because I didn't think to look straight ahead. In the trees there were two bright pink ribbons marking the way. Like I said, trail runners are laid back!

Somewhere around mile 10 or so the course weaves into more winding single track. To me, this is the best that trail running has to offer. I began flying through the trees and began running with a reckless abandon, as tree branches began brushing my face. Right about then, Matisyahu was singing a song that had lyrics about "water for the soul". I think he must of been singing about the trails, because my thirsty soul was getting hydrated by the single track.

At around mile 11, I was feeling good! I saw a pack of 5-6 runners up ahead of me. Within about half a mile or so I passed the group and we exchanged pleasantries. (Did I mention trail runners are fairly laid back?)My plan was working out... start slower, finish stronger! I felt great at this point and started to really cruise. I was actually shocked because I really hadn't run this far for months.

At mile 13 I as visited by my old nemesis, "lactic acid" and his henchman the "blister brothers". All of a sudden I was doing the ultra shuffle and I was only running 25K. At mile 14 I was passed by a pack of 5-6 much for my plan. I finished fairly strong and was happy with my overall effort.

Chris Hammett from Poulsbo Running was at the finish congratulating runners. I am so impressed with Chris and his wife Brooke. They clearly have a passion for running and share it with all. I cannot imagine all of the hours they put into making trail running a more prominent activity in Poulsbo. Thanks Chris and Brooke!

Well, only 2 and a half months until I run my first 50 mile trail race...what was I thinking? I am looking forward to getting more "water for my soul". I can't wait!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Port Gamble Trails - 6 Mile Hilly Loop

Everyone experiences those days that your body just won't was one of those days...legs filled with concrete, ragged breathing, and erratic pace. However, the fact that I was chasing a beautiful woman through the woods at the time made it all worth it!Even though my wife was recovering from a 50 mile bike ride yesterday, I was still having a hard time keeping up. Anyhow, any day running the trails is a GOOD day!

Today I ran one of my favorite loops in the Port Gamble Trails. Click here for a map of the trails. This run starts at Gate 4 (G-2100). Head up the logging road a ways until you come to a single-track trail on the right. Follow the trail until you hit a fork and take the right fork. This will put you on G-1810. Follow G-1810 all the way until it intersects with G-1800. I don't believe there is a sign here, just take a right down the hill. The logging road continues down hill a ways until it interesects with G-2000. Take a left on 2000...let the climbing begin! The road winds uphill about a half-mile or so. Follow G-2000 all the way until you get near Gate 2. Take a left on G-1000 and follow that until you hit G-1910. Take a left at G-1910. You will basically follow G-1910 all the way until it turns into G-1900. This is really a nice climb. I would guess you climb a steady incline of around a mile or so. Once you get to G-1900 you will come to a single track trail on your left. Follow the trail all the way until it ends at G-1800. There is a point on the trail where you can take a right or left...either way will get you to G-1800. Once you hit G-1800, take a left. Follow 1800 for about quarter mile or so and you will see another line of single track to your right. Follow the single track all the way until you come to G-2100...take a left and cruise down the hill about a half-mile to your car!

This is actually a really excellent run. I like it because it is rolling and mixes single track with logging roads. The above directions may seem confusing, however, if you just print the map from this link, you will find the directions fairly uncomplicated!

Sunday morning I plan on running the Fishline 25K put on by Poulsbo Running. The race starts at Gate 4 and will be an excellent training run as I continue to get ready for the Capital Peaks Ultra 50 mile trail race. Should be a blast!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Green Mountain - A Trail Runner's Playground

I knew I would enjoy eating ribs, drumsticks, and nachos on Super Bowl Sunday more if I went for trail run first. So, I called my brother and asked him to join me for a run up Green Mountain. Green Mountain is in Bremerton, WA, located near Wildcat Lake. Click here for a map of the mountain.

My brother, nephew, and I started the run at the Gold Creek parking area. We followed the Gold Creek trail all the way up to the Green Mountain Summit which is at about 1800 feet or so. The signs were clearly marked on the way up to the top (about 2.5 miles from the trailhead) and we enjoyed a stunning view of the fog. We will be back on a sunny day for sure...I know the view is awesome at the top on a clear day. From the top you can see a sweeping panorama of Puget sound, the Seattle skyline, plus Hood Canal, and views of the Olympic Mountains.

We took the Plummer trail (refer to map again here) on the way down to make it a loop of around 5.5 miles total.

The trail is single track for most of the way with plenty of room to run on either side of the path. We flew down Plummer trail on the way down and let gravity do all of the work. This was my nephews first trail run. I think he will be hooked for life!

On a side note, my brother was using a new Garmin GPS system. We had some moments of hilarity comparing my map with his GPS. I have to admit, the GPS actually helped us find our way back at one point. Without it a 6 mile run could have turned into a 10 mile run easy! (Which might have been good, as I am behind on my training for a 50 mile race in April)

On the way home my nephew Ryan mentioned how much he enjoyed the run. He talked about how positive and happy running made him feel. I am glad he has learned this lesson at such an early age. I am not surprised the trails inspired this kind of feeling!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Port Gamble - A Running Destination

Port Gamble, WA is most definintely what I would consider a "running destination. Not only is it a really cool place to visit, it is also bordered by a trail runner's paradise - 4000 acres of logging roads and single track trails! Click here for a map of the area.

There are many trails to check out. I will periodically post information about the trails and logging roads as I run them! Today I was tired, so I will post some information about a 4 mile jaunt through the woods! Refer to the map above for more specific information.

The run starts at Gate 7. Gate 7 is situated just past the coffee stand on the way out of town. Take a left across from the baseball fields. There is parking available right in front of the trailhead. This four mile run begins at the sign labeled "Port Gamble Trail".

Basically all you will be doing is following the logging road (G-1100) about a mile until you get to the first fork. At that point you hang a right at the sign that looks as if it has been chewed by a bear. (G-1000) Follow G-1000 all the way to the point where you can either take a left at G-1200 or contiue right on G-1000. If you turn around and run back, you will have run approximately 4 miles. The entire route is on logging road with a fairly steady incline in places. The way back is definitely easier!

As you can see, the road is wide with plenty of light for the most part. In a few days, I will add a lollipop loop to this run that will make it about 7.5 miles. This is the same route that Poulsbo Running Store uses for their Spooky 12K race each October. More to come....enjoy the trails!

PS I would encourage you to make a loop through town for a cool down of about a 3/4 mile or so. It is worth it!