Turkey adventure -- Day 2
(Show distances in kilometers / miles)
I wake up at 7:45, which is quite a bit later than I'd like to, but having to run 40K and being sleepy would be just too much for me ;). I eat breakfast at the Lodge's restaurant, where they have a fairly tasty buffet.
Then I hop in the car and drive to Yosemite; it's a 30 minute drive. When I get there I realize that it's fairly cold. I have some relatively warm clothes, plus I'm gonna be running, but I'm missing a hat and gloves and it's mountains, so I don't want to risk it. Fortunately, there is a fairly well equipped mountaineering shop so I quickly fix that.
But then I realize I have a more serious problem: by that time it is already half past 10; doing 20K12 miles, my target distance, in the mountain is going to take at least 3 hours and it's getting dark around 5pm, so I need to be finished by that time. Doesn't take much to figure out that I won't be able to fit in 2 such runs with a lunch break in between. So unfortunately, with heavy heart, I realize I'll have to downgrade my daily mileage... unless... unless, I just did 1 run, not 2; forget the break, forget the lunch. It is immediately obvious to me that this is a great idea and the way to go, so I happily set off for the run.
Yosemite Valley, south (Workout details)
I start in the Curry Village (see this map for reference to locations that I mention); first 20 minutes easy running on the valley floor, but then the climb towards Vernal Fall starts and quickly turns into a strenuous uphill walk. But the views made it totally worth it. I made a short stop at the top of the fall, took some pictures, drank and ate.
Then it was time to get moving towards the Nevada Fall. From there I'd love to go to the famous Half Dome, but it's closed in winter and anyway getting a permit (required to climb it) is not at all easy. So instead I turn to follow the Panorama Trail towards the Illilouette Fall... at least I think I do, as some time later I realize I'm essentially back to Vernal Fall. I don't know how I managed to do that. Getting lost in some unmarked terrain is one thing, but getting lost in a park, with well marked trails and a map in my hand?? That takes some talent, I guess ;). Anyway, it's a mistake that I pay for dearly as I have to make the steep climb... again.
At this point I was approximately 25km15 miles into the run. I really wanted to continue to the Sentinel Dome, but it was getting a bit late and I was afraid of not making it back before dark. Especially that the next segment was the Four Mile trail and everyone, from guides to rangers, was warning me that it'll be cold and icy there at this time of the year...
As it turned out, they couldn't be more wrong. There was no sight of snow there, not to mention ice. And it was fairly warm. In fact it was an amazing descent. First of all, it wasn't too step. With too steep trails the problem is that you have to work against the gravity to slow yourself down and you also have to figure out a difficult balance: of course you don't want to slow down more than absolutely necessary, but on the other hand losing control over your speed can be very dangerous. Here, it was just the right gradient to keep me going fast, without pulling on the brakes. Moreover, it wasn't too technical to the point of making it difficult and forcing me to go slowly and yet it was difficult enough to make the descent interesting. I absolutely loved it. It felt like flying. And I think I was providing quite some entertainment for all the people on the trail that I was passing by ;)
When I reach the bottom it turns out that a) I still have time and b) I still have some distance to cover as I "only" did 32km20 miles and am quite close to Curry Village, my starting point. For a moment I consider calling it the day, but finally I decide to do the right thing: I turn around and head towards the Bridalveil Fall. In the end I don't make it to the fall, as that would put me well beyond the distance that I planned for the day, but I make up the missing bit and come back to Curry Village after having ran 42.6km.26.5 miles. The funny thing is that until the end of the descent on the Four Mile trail I felt great. But somehow as soon as I hit the bottom of the valley a crisis set in and this last segment, which was completely flat, was quite a struggle. Somehow I suspect that this was more mental than physical; my body making sure that I'll not come up with a crazy idea of running more than planned? And then protesting when I kinda did? Yeah, I actually think that this is pretty much what happened.
The whole run, all breaks included, took me almost exactly 7 hours. Sounds like a super slow pace if you compare it to marathon times, but then again, comparing it to marathon times makes little sense. No one in their right mind would make a marathon in a place like this... actually, cross that, it'd not be such a bad idea, but trust me, no one would run it sub-3 hours there. To put it in some perspective part of my route was going through the Panorama Trail, which the guide describes as a strenuous, 6h hike and I did it in around 2h40 towards the end of my run. Another interesting figure: I recorded a total elevation gain of 2,495m.8,186 feet. That's fairly close to the 3,100m10,170 feet offered by Lakeland 50 (which is not a race for sissies) and that over almost twice shorter distance. Yup, I did climb quite a bit on that day, even if not spectacularly fast.
After the run I hop into my car and head back to the Lodge, where I have a quick dinner and go to bed around 10pm. Yes, more running awaiting tomorrow, so I better get some rest :)