While on the run last night, I had an animal encounter. I then had another one this morning - but not while running. Since the focus of the post isn't specific to running, I put it on my other site, but am linking to it here since I think it to be interesting to the running community even if it is only peripherally related to actually putting one foot in front of the other. Some of it may be slightly fanciful. Enjoy.
This weekend the gang took to the west side of the Tahoe area, and ran into the Desolation Wilderness Area's moonscape surrounding Lake Aloha. We started from Echo Lake, which gave us an elevation advantage over starting at Fallen Leaf Lake - an advantage I heartily agreed with!
Even with the advantage of the higher starting elevation, the trail was a rough go. Rockodiles waited along nearly the entire stretch. They aren't so much a problem on the way up, since speed and gravity aren't so critical an element - especially at my speed - but on the way down, they would prove to be problematic.
We started early and it was oddly dark and warm: overnight clouds had moved in and actually dropped a Nevada downpour: getting the ground exactly evenly wet, and no more. But with the clouds, the typically bright predawn was not happening. At the park and ride, we all met up, and had a few newbies-to-us joining the regular crew: Lindy, Melissa and Carol. We checked their resumés for sense of humor, and seeing it all was in order, we piled into a couple of cars and headed to Echo Lake Marina to start.
I didn't have much opportunity to take a lot of pictures on the way up, as I was busy placing my feet so I didn't roll an ankle, breathing, and trying to catch Lindy - the Desert Bighorn. She claimed to be a Dromedary, because she didn't drink much when running, but I demurred. First I believed her to be a Bactrian because of the double bumps, but then, after trying to keep up on the climb, I gave up on the innuendo nickname and dubbed her the Desert Bighorn because she doesn't drink, and climbs like a goat! That's her there on the right, and about the last time I saw her on the climb.
Speaking of climb, it was a steady, rocky grind that deceptively resulted in 3000' of gain over the course of the 13 mile run, nearly all of it in the first half.
We spent a longer-than-normal time at the top admiring the view, and generally puttering around the lake. I think the inactivity was detrimental to my overall performance. I was hurting like the end of a run for the decent. What with the rockodiles waiting to grab, twist and generally mangle the unwary runner, the added effect of pains in the legs made for a slow descent for me. I guess I tried to adhere to the motto "get up quick, go down slow." I liked to think of myself as a fixed-gear: one speed for ascents and descents!
We did have a couple of crashes on the way down, though. Gino, sometimes trail dog, sometimes trail pig, took out Melissa with his patented "pass on the left, get perpendicular to the trail and stop" technique. She ended up with a scraped hand and leg. Shannon was the "winner" of the takes-a-spill award. I didn't see it (she runs far to fast for me to see her on a downhill!), but I did see the goose egg on her forehead when I finally DFLed it to the parking lot.
Enjoy the photos! more on the home page slide show.
"Going for a run? Sure, I'll come along! Mom! Where are my Keds?! Nah, I don't need socks."
Ah, the halcyon days of yore. When prepping for a run was a one-step process: putting on whatever shoes you owned that weren't your "good" shoes. Socks: completely optional. Fast forward (more than) a few years. Prepping for a run became a multi tasking Olympic event. Jump ahead a couple more, and it's less intensive, but more than a single act. What happened? I think it's a combination of a couple of factors: 1. I'm no longer a kid, and my feet aren't quite as forgiving as running around in Chuck Taylor Cons or Keds all day, and 2. My runs are getting much longer than they were, resulting in needing more things along the way.
At the peak, my preparatory activities included:
Things aren't as involved as they used to be, though. Thankfully, I no longer have to take the 15 minutes or so to tape up my feet and ankles, and the Garmin is much more forgiving and more speedily locates where in the world it is. However, I've added a heart-rate monitor to better alert me to impending cardiac infarction, and I've upped the tech level on my on-trail nutrition, which takes a bit of prep time. So, on balance, I guess the mornings before a long run still resemble an Everest Expedition.
That could be why I enjoy the short runs with my kids so much. I get to be (somewhat) a kid again, in that all I have to do is get shoes. And, since I am the dad,I get to bring water, sunscreen, car keys, money/wallet, camera to take snaps of the kids, phone for safety...
At least they get to run like kids.
The weekend run was along the famous Flume trail that leads from the Marlette Lake Dam to the junction of the Tunnel Creek and Red House Loop Trails. Surprisingly, a couple of people I run with regularly had never had the exquisite pleasure of running the trail. That needed to be addressed!
We drove a couple of cars to the end of the run at the Ponderosa, then piled into a single car to shlep back to Spooner Summit to where we were going to start the run. The weather was beautiful, and we started out.
The miles rolled by easily, and we did the 6 or so up to Marlette Lake. The trail was beautiful in the morning light.
Of course, we had to take a timeout at the lake itself for a photo, some nourishment and general fooling around.
We then took off on the Flume. Probably due to the early hour, we didn't encounter too many bikes. It's been my experience that mountain cyclists tend to sleep in longer than runners. Probably that speedy downhill they can get: the finish around noon desire can be accommodated with a later start. We trucked along, singing a song (at least I did. For some reason the song "Time" by Pink Floyd was in my head the entire run. Maybe the line "You run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking." might have had something to do with it. At least I wasn't singing out loud (too loudly or too often), or mumbling "Your lips move, but I can't hear what you're saying." from "Comfortably Numb."
I was feeling really well and strong on the climb to Marlette, but the start of the Flume, my lower left leg decided to alert me to burning pain. Wow. Pretty sure it is a small obscure muscle down at the ankle-calf interface. My guess is that it got jealous of all the attention the major calf muscles had been getting over the last year with the cramping and whatnot, so it decided to yell. Loudly. Still tender to the touch a day later, and I don't know what happened. At any rate, after a mile or so, it seemed to loosen up and disappear down below the pain threshold again. Things got so good toward the end of the Flume, I picked up my pace to a sub 5 minute mile. OK, maybe not a sub 5, but it felt fast and really fun. The run overall topped out at 14.4 on Abbey's Garmin, since I didn't have mine. I doubled back for a 1/2 mile or so tracking down Ann, who joined the Stupid Runner Club (I'm President Emeritus). Her crimes? Running With A Known Injury, combined with Running Farther Than You Should Have Anyway Because You Are Adding Miles Too Fast.
We finished the run together: President Emeritus and newest club member. Kind of fitting.
Today's run was a nice jaunt from Carson Pass to 4th of July Lake, a round trip of about 11.5 miles. This run has many things going for it:
Where was I? Oh yes, the ostensible purpose of the blog, as indicated by the title was the shoes. I had the estimable pleasure of running with a select group of nut cases. Most I had shared the trail with before, but Brian was new to me. He and I corresponded briefly earlier in the week. I found out he was no slouch in running shoes either: a 3rd place age group finish in a triathlon. I know what you're thinking, "So what. I can finish first in my age group in my triathlon!" Yeah, I think that too. I create them in my head all the time and I almost always win! Odd that I don't win all the time, though. Hmm.
Anyway, no, Ryan's successful tri was not some rinky-dink operation. It was an Olympic distance tri in Zurich this summer. Not the one in Kansas — Zurich, Switzerland rather. I figured he and Tom would head out together, blaze up and down the trail, Suz, Wayne and I'd do our respective things and that would be that. Things didn't work out that way, though. Tom hung with Suz and Wayne, and Brian and I ran mostly together. I still figured he would be in front and waiting for three powerful reasons:
So there you go. An insane affectation for a steep climb, various snowfields on the trail, and a good pair of trail shoes will overcome youth, skill and an outclassed pair of street runners every time. Well, maybe not every time. But it did happen once. I know, I was there.
More photos on the slideshow on the home page. That'll link you to the Flickr source.
Chafe: from the Old French chauffer, "to make warm."
Unfortunately, I was unable to join the group run early this morning, so I did a solo thing later. Later, when it was warmer. Later when the said extra warmth created extra sweat. Later when the said extra sweat created the bane of all runners: chafing. At some point, I think everyone experiences a bit of a chafe now and again, but this run today took the cake for me.
The run itself wasn't anything really out there: 13 miles from the Edmonds Soccer Fields, down to Snyder, then the EFPH route to Silver Saddle, to the river trail and back. Yes there was a hill or two, yes the trails were sandy, no there weren't any snakes and really no people either. The most remarkable thing about today's run was the quality and quantity of chafing I experienced. I should have realized I was going to be in sweat-trouble when I watched the staccato-like dripping from my soaked hat brim after only a couple of miles. I should have adjusted my distance to accommodate the heat for the amount of nutrition and electrolytes I was carrying. I should have swallowed my pride and subsumed my ego and gone short. I should have. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Didn't. Oh well, I paid the price in (1) a less than optimal run toward the end, and (2) much to my chagrin — a spot or five of intense burning pain when I leaped energetically (ok, shuffled) into the shower afterward. For those with delicate sensibilities, please turn your heads. It's about to get down and sweaty, and no, there will not be any photos in today's blog post.
Chafing - how do I hate thee? Let me count, and describe the ways.
1. Under the arm. Seriously? WTH? Apparently, when a shirt becomes so waterlogged that it hangs down a bit farther than intended, the arm motion causes it to rub against my torso. Solutions? Tighter clothes, or no shirt. Either way, I scare off all children and women under 70. Men simply turn their heads in shame and laugh. Burn factor: 2.
2. Lower back. OK this one is acceptable in some respects. I am wearing a waist pack with a couple of bottles for my Perpeteum, and it's new to me. I can understand a bit of a chafe here. However, the scabbing part is a bit over the top. Solutions? Dunno. Suck it up, I guess, and get the callus going. Going shirtless as suggested above would only make it worse, so the shirt goes back on. Burn factor: 4.
3. Nipples. Yes, O Faint Of Heart, this is where you should start to turn away if you haven't done so. It's only going to get worse. I wear an older Nathan Pack and it seems to want to either turn me on by incessantly rubbing my nipples (probably never happen, but what the heck, give the guy an A for trying), or force me to join the Bloody Elevens. Solutions? I could go the pasty route and wear bandaids. However, given the manly chest hair factor, those band aids wouldn't stay on location for too long. A Bro/Manziere? Not in this lifetime, sorry. That leaves (a) endure or (b) consistently re-apply the body glide. I'll go with (b). Burn factor 5.
4. Ahem, down THERE, with the boys. This horrific situation is brought about by sweat, and tired elastic. There are some potential exacerbating conditions that I'll discuss. As in Chafing Issue #1 above, excessive sweat causes the fabric to get heavy and the elastic of the inner lining (otherwise known as the Butterfly Stretch Modesty Enforcer) dips below optimal position of Snug To The Body." This in and of itself causes a bit of a chafe, but that situation lets loose The Boys to rub, rub, rub against the inner leg with Every. Single. Stride. I didn't notice it for a few miles, and by the time I did, thoroughly immodest and liberal application of the glide wasn't going to help much. Word of caution to the men (and their women) excessive or even modestly enthusiastic manscaping the side yards down there will make it worse. Burn Factor: I couldn't decide between FIRES OF HELL and NUCLEAR INFERNO, but you get the general idea. HEAR YE! HEAR YE! Hair is a lubricant. There is a minimal length that is necessary to keep things sliding about comfortably. I don't at this point know that length. If I discover it, I may make it known — for a price! If you are loath to pay that price, remember transgressing that heretofore unknown minimum is a punishment I reckon the inquisition would use. Let that stand as a dire warning to all.