Wednesday, September 26, 2012

CIM Training Week Five & Santa Catalina Island

As I return to reality and day to day life, the surreal calm that accompanies the sailing lifestyle slips away slowly, leaving a familiar void. Every time we go cruising, I am reminded that there is another way to live that does not rely on timetables, deadlines or the hustle and bustle of modern life. Only matters of consequence are important: eat, drink, don't sink the boat. Running remains an ever-present priority, but when and where are deliciously random.

Approaching Isthmus Cove
Our trip was too short, as all vacations are, but left me feeling rested and relaxed. Six days is barely enough time to settle  into the pace of a sailor's life, but Twirly and I did our best to fully appreciate the trip and honor each other for our sixth anniversary. The week was a whirlwind of swimming, sun-worshipping and spending time with friends.

OK in the kelp forest

I got two days of scuba diving with Hugh. The flora and fauna were diverse, and we saw kelp forests, fans, fish,  rays, lobster, an octopus and  plenty of nudibranchs. The nudibranchs always pique my curiosity; they assume some strange forms and do an excellent job of looking like their surroundings.

Looking East towards Little Harbor
I managed to fit in two runs during the trip, both hilly by default. My first run took me across the Isthmus ~1 mile and 900 feet up a steep slope, which took about thirty minutes to climb. I had to stop and take pictures pretty often, as the views up and down the island rivaled those of the Marin Headlands. I ran a ridge along the south side of the isthmus, and would have  continued towards the interior of the island, but I encountered 70 people on horseback and promptly turned back to the harbor. I rounded out the run with an out and back to the USC Marine Biology lab. After 7.5 miles I met my crew mates at the beach bar for some libations, fish tacos and bison burgers. The trademark cocktail of Catalina Island is the Buffalo Milk, a blended concoction with whipped cream drizzled with Kahlua, and a few were consumed during the trip.  There are live bison roaming the island (some kid got gored about a month ago) which Twirly saw, but I never encountered. My other run was the weekly long run. 16 easy miles on the schedule, but in order to get 16 easy, I would have had to do 2 mile laps along the Avalon waterfront amidst the Saturday morning art fair patrons. I am not a crowd person, so I opted for an out and back along the Trans-Catalina Trail, which provided some vertical, and stellar views from the mainland to San Clemente Island along the divide of the island.

If I learned anything on my first run, it was that it got HOT after 11am, so I planned to start at 8, but ended up about an hour late. I chalked it up to Island time and set out with 3 Gu's, two Picky bars and 70oz of water.

Catalina Harbor

My route wound up the east side of Avalon, past the uber-mansions of the Wrigley's and Hollywood types, to the dirt road that is the Trans-Catalina trail, which runs the length of the island. Over the first five miles, I gained 1500 feet. The grade was runnable, but I had to hike much of the climb to keep my heart rate under control. I felt the temperature climbing as I made my way up the grade.

Avalon Harbor

Once I gained the divide trail, things became more runnable,  rolling from peak to peak. At mile 7, I came across the "garden to sky" trail head, which is where the Catalina Marathon course joins the Trans-Catalina trail. This was the only place I saw other runners and hikers.

The Trans-Catalina Trail climbs from the East End

The Divide Trail

I was dehydrated and spent for the descent into Avalon, not capable of the pace I had hoped to exploit on my return trip. Running downhill at 11:00/mile felt comfortable and safe. When I returned to town, all I wanted was Gatorade and more water! I had some problems taking in calories on this run, due to the heat. Gu's went down OK, but chewing solid food was a nuisance. Fortunately, the next six months are all about nutrition, hydration and electrolytes as I prepare for the American River 50 miler.

The Avalon Casino (no, there is no gambling)

My last 5K of the year is this Saturday in Grass Valley, and the Bizz Johnson 50K is the next Sunday. After the 5K, David is joining me for the run home over Banner Mountain. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to try different fueling strategies in the 50K, even if I may end up miserable for trying some of them.

The Isthmus - Catalina Harbor and Isthmus Cove
The Garmin data for the 16 miler:

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