running

Hancock Peak Trail

Hancock Peak trail
I spent Memorial day weekend at Duck Creek Utah.  That gave me the opportunity to do the Hancock Peak trail.   Maps show the trail to be about 7 miles at 9,600-10,100 feet altitude.

I couldn’t find much on the trail so here are some points if you are looking to do it:

• There is no trail.  You have to travel between cairns and cut trees.  It wasn’t that hard, but I frequently (most of the time) was off trail.  Patience is required when you have to figure out which way the trail went.

• The cairns are big and frequent, however sometimes they are not where I expected.  And sometimes they are under snow. 😐

• Looking for signs of a trail in a lava field is hard.

• A map is helpful.  In addition to a printed map, I used the off-line mode of google maps to help orient my position.

• No one else was on the trail.  Perhaps it gets busier later in the season.

• My map says this is a bike trail.  Be sure to ask the rangers if trail maintenance was done if you plan on biking.  There was a lot of downed trees on the trail.

• I’m not experienced in forest trail finding.  I had to work at finding the trail, especially in the snowy areas.

• There wasn’t any crazy dangers on this trail.  You still need to be careful, you could break a leg in the lava fields, get lost in the forest, not really any cell service, and don’t expect to see anyone else on the trail

• The round trip took me 7 1/2 hours and 17+ miles.  I’m sure you can go faster when there is less snow and more of the fallen trees cleared away.

It was a fun hike and I enjoyed trying to find my way through the trail.  The ancient lava flows were kinda interesting.  But the scenery wasn’t that exciting.

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Harris Springs Canyon

(Desert Trails can be deceptively dangerous.  You need more water than you think you need and you won’t see very many people, if any.  Carry extra water!)

With one of my kids now in High School, its adjusted my morning running schedule.  The nice side effect though is if I drive her to school, I’m closer to trails.  I’ve been exploring an area on the far North West end of the developed portion of the Las Vegas valley.

This weekend I was finally able to get further along the trail than before.  My ultimate goal with this trail is the circumnavigate the mountain.  Not sure the name of the mountain and my google-kung fu was inconclusive.  However, given that there is a Harris mountain in the La Madre range and the wash and road is Harris Springs canyon, I’d guess the mountain is Harris.

Google Map

I went about 6 miles into the trail.  If I were traveling to do this trail I’d find somewhere to park along Kyle Canyon road to shave several miles off the route.  But the most convenient starting point for me is at the intersection of Grand Teton Road and Pole Line road.

If you are coming to town and want to do a trail besides the obvious ones in the Red Rock area, this is a nice easy route.  This is an awesome non-technical trail with both single track and double track in the area paralleling the wash.

Hopefully next weekend I’ll get out and complete the trail.  I figure I probably need to budget for a 20 mile run to complete this route.  I’ve already done some sections on the back side so I don’t anticipate a significant change in the difficulty.

 

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Low Carb

I had a follow up appointment with my Doctor to discuss my blood work.  He suggested I try a low/no carb diet.  I smiled and then went to REI to pick up my gels for my upcoming race — How many carbs can there be in a gel anyway  🙂

A lot of gels

He’s probably right, but not going to switch right before a race.

Operation Jack & Pacing Prep

(Sorry, no pictures so if you are like me you probably aren’t reading this anyway)

Earlier in the month I ran a novelty run with my kids, Operation Jack Elimination Challenge.  Normally I’m a purist but this race fit nicely in my calendar.

The concept is you have X amount of time to complete a loop.  If you finish early, you wait until the cut off time before you start back up.  Then the cut off time drops for the next loop.  For me, this was a great format to run with my kids.  I like ‘racing’ with my kids but I’m still faster than them  🙂  .  It feels silly to drop $35-$40 for my entry fee on a 5k and then just jog/walk around with them. I’m at a race to race, even when I’m not.

With a  this format, I was able to run with my kids for the first lap and then ‘drop um’ on the next lap when they weren’t able to make the cut off.

However, what really made the race for me was the training on holding pace.  The reason running and racing holds appeal to me is the same  reason why pace is so very hard to dial in on these long races . During my Loveall canyon run I had a target pace.  That target pace turned into a not to go slower than pace.  Which then turned into a “I should run faster and bank some time”.

With this Loop race, it reminded me how difficult it is to hold pace. I knew the set lap pace, but I kept on speeding up because I could.  I’ll have to watch carefully next month.

I’d recommend you incorporate a training run like this in your next build up for a race.  Do 2 mile loops at a crazy slow pace and then do it 1 minute faster each time around.  For extra points, do it without a watch (except at the start/finish).

Ed

Vegas Trails and almost taper time

I’ve been progressing steadily towards my third attempt @ 50 miles.  In order to shake it up a bit I’ve been running some trails near my house.  Plus my upcoming race is a desert trail race so I can claim I’m simulating race conditions  🙂

Two of the trails are Gateway Canyon and Brownstone Trail.  Both have the same trail head if you go my way.  I park @ Desert Moon & Sky Vista, the end of the civilized world right now.  Though home construction has started back up again so by the time you read this you might be parking a little closer.

Either trail you take, the first few miles are going to be cleared rocky service roads,  The Brownstone road is boring for 2-3 miles but it gets more fun.  Gateway is a utility pole road but it is more trail like so it is still fun to run.

GATEWAY CANYON

Gateway Canyon

Gateway Canyon itself is a fun narrow canyon with some rock scrambling.  Nothing crazy but you will have to climb up some boulders — you probably could run the canyon if you start on the west side but I come in from the east.

Entrance to east end of gateway canyon

View of the east end of gateway canyon

The canyon has some neat spiral colors on the rocks, but I’m not the best photographer so I don’t have pictures of those.

You have several options once you get to the end of the canyon.  I turn left and run towards the small town of Calico Basin and turn the run into a 12 mile loop. You can push on and get into the main part of Red Rock and turn it into a 15+ mile loop, or if you go right you’ll turn into the better part of the Brownstone trail.

Near west enterance to gateway canyon

Heading towards Calico Basin

Rocks in Gateway Canyon

The only picture I think I took inside the canyon. Oh well

BROWNSTONE TRAIL

Brownstone Trail

Gateway canyon is fun to run, but I felt that the brownstone trail had better views.  Brownstone Trail Near Brownstone Trail

Once you get off of the cleared road, you are running up a wash – like running in sand, except with rocks.

Thanks — and remember its a desert.  Bring more water than you think you need.

Big Races

I came across this picture of a the City to Surf race.  I’ve never run a ‘big city race’ with tens of thousands of runners or even thousands and thousands.  I think the biggest race I’ve run is the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon where it is 1-2 thousand.

I’m sure these big races are fun, but man that’s a lot of people.  If you haven’t run a smaller race you’re missing out.  At a smaller race you all cross the starting line within a minute of each other. It feels like a race – even though the only time I’m within 1 minute of the leader is at the starting line.  The aid stations are personal since the volunteers aren’t trying to get water to 10,000 runners.  Almost like you have your own crew at each aid station.  And the courses for smaller races are more varied – not every road and trail can handle 10,000+ runners.

There are tons of smaller races out there.

e

Speed work

Every now and then I find it tough to continue running. I’ll go out on a long run and I just feel like walking.

It’s not that I’m tired, I just don’t feel like running. All of my runs tend to be Long Slow Distance running – I just go out to be outside and have some fun.  But after awhile, it just feels like a good day to go walking.  Its all mental, I want to run but … I want to walk.

Adding speed work to the mix seems to ‘reset’ my mind.  Getting my heart rate up for a max effort does something to the mind to positively change my attitude about distance.  Perhaps its like racing. LSD runs have no real goal other than complete the run.  With no objective, the run just kind of peters out.

A race though is a RACE. I’m there to beat the clock, beat the distance, beat the runner in front of me and not let the guy behind me pass.  Speed work has the same intense type of goal setting – I’m going to cross the distance hard.  And then do it again.  And again.

For days after the speed work I can still feel the intensity.  My mind and energy level gets renewed. My speedwork is simple. I drive to a local paved trail and run 3/4 mile repeats. 3/4 mile simply because that’s the length of the trail.

  • Run 1 direction, jog back the other way
  • Carry your water bottle.
    • I used to leave my bottle at my finish line.  I ended up getting distracted worrying about the bottle  – would someone take it? — And Yes someone did take it but I was able to recover it  🙂
  • I drive to a trail.
    • I’m trying to reset myself and treat it somewhat like a race.
    • Fartleks just don’t seem to have the same intensity for me.  The preset ‘course’ of speed work lets me feel more like racing.
  • 3/4 mile is a bit far.
    • You want to be able to run the whole distance at a steady hard pace, the shorter the distance the easier it is to sprint!
    • But my trail is 3/4 mile so 3/4 mile repeats is what I do.
  • Gives me an excuse to buy light weight flats.
    • Not really going to use racing flat style shoes during an Ultra but I can for speed work.
  • I’ve taken my kids to the park when I’m doing speed work.  Since I’m just going back and forth over the same ground, they can goof around while I’m playing  🙂

E Neon trail

Stout Canyon Road, Duck Creek Utah Area

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Every now and then I get to spend time in the Duck Creek Village, Utah area.  Of course, when I’m there I try and find interesting places to run.  On my last trip I ran Stout Canyon Road (Forest 063).  This is a nice 9 mile forest service road, generally down hill From UTAH-14 to US-89.

Towards the beginning of the course you will run through forest impacted by the 2012 Shingle Fire.  The area is partially regrown and not ugly, though you have to appreciate the fire damage for what it is.

After that you run through typical Utah forest and eventually into sparse cabin property.  A nice 18 mile round trip.

  • Non Technical
  • gradual incline/decline
  • No cell-service
  • very little traffic
  • Can be muddy
  • No big payoff, though you do get a nice view of the red rocks.

Ed