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Showing posts from February, 2013

Week 8, 2013: Montara Mountain 50K

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Okie dokie, so what do we have here this week. Well, on Monday I was still finishing up my Death Valley adventure with the scaling of the Corkscrew peak. It ended up being a pretty laborious hike and so was the drive back home, so Tuesday was definitely off.On Wednesday I still felt pretty tired but decided to go for an easy run anyway. Something funny happened there. Usually, out of habit, I set myself a heart rate zone to keep for my runs. But I hardly need it. Especially for easy runs, I just settle into a familiar pace and my heart rate stays within the zone without any reminders from my watch. Not so today. My watch was constantly complaining that I'm jogging instead of running and that I should try harder. So I did. As a result I did my fastest easy run ever (at least on the Baylands Park loop). And I felt really tired afterwards. It certainly wasn't an easy training, but why did my heart rate stay so low??As a result I skipped the Thursday run without thinking twice and…

Death Valley, Day 3: Time to say goodbye.

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As with every adventure, mine was also coming to an end. This was my last day in Death Valley and in the afternoon I'll have to start heading back, hopefully making it home around midnight, so that the following day I would be able to go to work.Corkscrew peak (Workout details)Butte peak that I climbed the previous evening. ... instead of the Corkscrew peak, which was left for today :). I go for my usual breakfast at Subway and then drive to the Hell's Gate. I have a bit of a dilemma there. Yesterday I climbed Butte peak instead of the Corkscrew peak. Today is my last day -- should I try to correct my mistake and mount the real Corkscrew peak? Or rather do the Wildrose peak as I was planning before? I settle for Corkscrew. I am wondering whether later on I'll be angry for having trusted a yodeling ranger :).I start going up but I don't see any trail, so I just head in the general direction of the peak. After a short running stretch I'm reduced to a jog, brisk walk, w…

Death Valley, Day 2: busy day.

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Getting up was tough. I did sleep somewhat better than the previous night, but was still tired in the morning and really didn't feel like getting out of bed. The breakfast situation didn't seem too promising and I didn't have time nor energy to look hard for anything else so I again ended up in Subway. By the amount of activity there I'm guessing it's possible it was the only place in town open for breakfast ;)RhyoliteAfter breakfast I hopped into the car and headed towards the ghost town of Rhyolite, which I decided to see before doing any running of the day. The town came to live around 1905 and within 15 years went from zero population to somewhere around 5,000 and back to zero again, owing mostly to the gold rush. Now it's just a ghost city and something of a tourist attraction.The ghost city of Rhyolite. While seeing the town I was also looking at the park map and planning ahead and I realized that if I stuck to my plan of running there was no way I could s…

Death Valley, Day 1: Golden Canyon, Natural Bridge, Badwater

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It wasn't a great night. For some reason, even though I was very tired after all the driving and it was 2:30am when I went to bed, it took me a long time to fall asleep. Then I was sleeping like a stone... until 7am when the noises from the outside woke me up. I was far too tired at that point to function properly so I stayed in bed until 10am, but hardly got any more proper sleep.It was time for breakfast. I could not find the breakfast place that I found on Yelp and it was already late so I ended up in Subway. The way the view that greeted me after leaving the hotel, my first peak at the surroundings at daylight, was not bad at all. Judge for yourself.The view from my motel room :) After breakfast I jumped in the car and went towards the park. My first stop was Hell's Gate where I took a couple of photos, paid the entrance fee and was on my way to the main Visitor's Center of Death Valley, at the Furnace Creek.So called Hell's gate and my gate to the Death Valley Nati…

Death Valley, Day 0: On my way!

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After reading all the stories about the Badwater ultra-marathon, supposedly the toughest footrace on earth, I knew that I wanted to go and see what all this Death Valley fuss is about. I also knew that I wanted to do it in winter or early spring as I wasn't quite ready to deal with the scorching summer heat; btw. one of the things that makes the Badwater race so tough is that it is in July when the temperatures reach 50 °C (120 °F). As I had no plans for this weekend it seemed like a good idea to do it now.Since I mentioned the temperatures it's worth noting that Death Valley holds the "most" distinction in many categories. To begin with it's officially the hottest place on earth -- in July 1913 a temperature of 57 °C (134 °F) was recorded there. The temperatures in the range of the aforementioned 50 °C (120 °F) are quite common in the summer. Secondly, it's the driest place in North America with the average rainfall of just 5cm (2 inches), a fraction of what…

Week 7: Death Valley

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This is going to be an unusually short entry :). On Tuesday I still felt tired, so decided to only go for an easy run. But I soon realized that even that was ambitious! I felt totally drained. So I had to turn an easy training into a super easy one, parts of which I... walked! This is not something that happens often to me. But hey, at least I got a chance to shot a few pics that you can see below :)On Wednesday it was back to business. I was doing my usual steady run and I wanted to improve my PR on the course. At half point it seemed I was right on track to do that and, as I wasn't feeling to tired, I thought I could do that. The closer I was getting to the end the more confident I was that I'll pull it off... except at the end I realized that for some reason the course was "longer" on that day! Or rather: my GPS was acting up, as I run the exact same route as always. So I had a moment of panic but in the end all was fine and according to Strava I did it 34 seconds…

Week 6: Recovery week

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This was supposed to be my recovery week. On Monday I did my usual yoga + gym. But then on Tuesday I still felt tired from the weekend run and decided to take a day off.On Wednesday I managed to get up at 6am (never easy) and did my hill run on Black Mountain. The day off helped, I was feeling strong and managed to reach the top in 1:00:30 -- that was 4:26 faster than the previous week and so a substantial improvement; it felt great.Sunset at the Baylands park. Given that it was a recovery week I decided not to do days with two trainings. I followed up with an easy, recovery run on Thursday, which is when I enjoyed the sunshine at the Baylands park; photo (phone quality I'm afraid) above.Then on Friday I did my fast 8K run. I started at a good pace, which turned out to be too fast. From then the run was a series of pace adjustments; and unfortunately none of them involved speeding up ;). In the end I missed my PR on this route by 20 seconds.In the evening of the same day I went for…

California living: varia

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It's been a while since I wrote something about anything other than running, such as the promised series of posts about my life in California. The problem is: there is not much to write about. At present my life consists in 95% of work and running. I promise a post about work is coming up. And if there is one thing I'm writing too much about, that's running. Still, today I'll try to write about a couple of things that happened in the last few months in the remaining 5% of my time :)One nice thing about working at Google is that there's plenty of interesting people visiting and giving talks. In December, in a single week, I went for a talk by Tim Ferris and Lee Child. Tim is the author of The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body and, his newest, The 4-Hour Chef (I read the first two). His talk got me curious enough to try his latest book, but it proved popular and by the end of the talk all the discounted copies were gone.Lee Child is one of my favorite authors. The onl…

Week 5, 2013: another solid week.

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Ok, as usual I'm running (bad pun intended) almost one week late with this post, but time for last week's summary.On Tuesday I started with a hill run to Black Mountain. That meant getting up at 6am -- never easy -- and driving there while it was still half dark. The training, as usual, was tough but rewarding. I managed to get to the top in 1:04:56, over 7 minutes fast than 3 weeks previously, although it's not a far comparison as then I wasn't racing to the top and it was just part of a longer, casual run. Still, it felt good. I followed up with an easy run in the evening.On Thursday I did my usual speed training, on my usual 8K loop at the Baylands Park. I was on my way for a PR on the course but then I got some technical problems, talking of which would certainly mean crossing the TMI boundary ;). So the second half was a struggle but, to my surprise, after the run I realized that according to Strava I did improve my PR by... 2 seconds :). I again followed up with …

Steep Ravine, 50K race

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So, as I wrote in the weekly report, after some deliberations, I decided to run the 50K race this Sunday: Steep Ravine. Frankly, it didn't occur to me that the name is kinda scary, until now ;). The course was was a to-and-fro affair, which comprised 25K, so we had to do it twice. That meant that I'd have to run any given segment 4 times. Not ideal from the "sightseeing" point of view, but could actually help mentally, as it's usually tad easier to run over a "familiar" territory.Beautiful day, beautiful trail. It was a 1.5 hour drive and I didn't expect much traffic on Sunday morning, so this time I decided to sleep at home and drive there in the morning. That meant that I had to get up at 5:30. Five thirty. In the morning. On Sunday. I know plenty of people who would consider running 50K in the mountains a crazy proposition. Not myself. But getting up at 5:30 in the morning on Sunday to do so... frankly, I started questioning my sanity ;)Last (down…