Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The North Face Endurance Championship 50 Mile: T-minus 4 Weeks

Climbing to the escarpment in Squaw Valley
This week was a momentous one at Wanderplace. Eclipsing a stellar week of training was the news that I had been selected as the Sierra Trailblazers entrant in the 2014 Western States 100 Mile.
I'm finding it difficult to focus on December 7th.

That said, the week kicked my ass into gear:

Tuesday: 60 minutes on the mill

Wednesday: 90 minute tempo

Thursday: 60 minutes on the mill

Friday: A walk with Twirly (I got the WS news near the end)

Saturday: 90 minutes easy

Sunday: 5 hours on the North Face course

Totals: 55.46 miles, avg HR 141

My pacer for North Face, Victor Ballesteros, joined me on Sunday for a scout of the crux middle miles of the course. We got an early start at Santos Meadow, and chased the full moon up Heather Cut off Trail to Coastal Trail. The climb felt good in the cool air, and the clouds were scarce; the moon set and sunrise were invigorating. We cruised through Pantoll Ranger Station and further north along Matt Davis Trail, stopping briefly at the old wrecked car on Coastal Trail for a photo op.
Victor clowning on Coastal Trail above Stinson Beach

Victor is a rock star, with more single digit (and first place) finishes than anyone I have ever shared a trail with. I am fortunate that he agreed to pace me after we met over a discussion about quality in his line of drop bags. If anyone can haul my ass the final 23 miles to an 11 hour finish at North Face, it is Victor. I finished the run having climbed over 4000 feet in a little over 21 miles, which was exactly what my plan called for, but my pace was a bit off. Race day adrenaline don't fail me now.

We talked a bit about Western States along the way, and I grilled him about his finishes in 2009 and 2010. I have always relished the planning phase of race preparation. Gathering the resources and developing a plan lend to the training, and the overall experience almost rivals the actual performance. Having never "bit off this much to chew" (and still experiencing mild shock at getting in), I am finding the idea of 100 miles and more than a day of running too big to wrap my head around. Lucky for me, I am surrounded by talented veterans willing to help guide me. Between Victor, Jorge and Brett at San Francisco Running Company, the vets within the Sierra Trailblazers, and my boss Bruce LaBelle, I am confident I will get the support I need to perform well next June. I am shopping for a new coach, and Jorge's Mauka Running, is, well, in the running...

Finally, an enormous advantage to knowing I am in the race prior to the lottery: I got a sweet room near the starting line at a decent rate. Not too many people reserving rooms yet, and as a greenhorn I want to participate in as much of race week at Squaw Valley as I can muster!


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