August was the running month I'd been looking for all spring and summer. Pretty much everything came together. Mileage, climbing, time on feet, long days to test nutrition and hydration plans. It was all there in August. And, thankfully, it went well. I had some of the best runs of the year in August. There were tons of adventures. I wrote about the first half of the month in this blog post: In the Thick of It. That post covered pacing Will at AC100, long Mt. Wilson runs with Elan and Lukas, a few Baldy summits, including one as part of a 30 mile, 10,000' feet of elevation gain day with Elan, Guillaume, Sean and Chandra:
(photo: Elan)and an evening run up Bear Canyon with Billy:
and my first run up to Cucamonga Peak:
That was all in the first 18 days of the month. Then, I went to NYC for a week for work and, while I ran a few times and got a close-up of the George Washington Bridge one day and the Statue of Liberty and the new Freedom Tower/One World Trade Center another, I missed my trails!
Last weekend, I got two more great runs in before starting my taper for Run Rabbit Run (which is less than two weeks away now!):
Last Saturday, Billy, Dave, Sally and I did the "8,000 Meter Challenge" a/k/a the "SoCal Triple Crown". That run was actually three runs. The goal was to summit the three highest peaks in Southern California in one day. In all, it would be about 40 miles of running/hiking with 13,000-14,000 feet of elevation gain. If you're not familiar with the area, another factor is that three peaks are each separated by hour+ long drives. We would start with Mt. San Jacinto and run up via the Marion Mountain trail (12 miles round trip/4,300 feet of elevation gain), then drive over to Mt. San Gorgonio and run up via the Vivian Creek Trail (19 miles round trip/5,400 feet of elevation gain) and then drive over to Mt. Baldy and run up via the Ski Hut Trail, the shortest and steepest route to the top (8.6 miles round trip/3,800 feet of elevation gain). I've been up to all three peaks before, but never in one day and I've never done Marion Mountain to Jacinto or climbed Baldy via Ski Hut (though I have gone down Ski Hut).
To make a long story short, we did it. And had an awesome time! We started at 7:30am at Jacinto and finished Baldy at around 1:30am. We spent about 13 hours on the trails, about 3 hours driving and a couple hours cleaning up after each run, eating and getting dressed and ready for the next run.
Each summit was totally different.
Jacinto was probably the most beautiful. The Marion Mountain trail is mostly wooded and soft dirt. The peak is just a grouping of rocks and there are sweet 360 degree views. We were way above the clouds and could see forever. Dave's birthday was Friday and Sally brought some party hats to the summit!
Gorgonio via Vivian Creek is the same run that Billy, Dave, Elan and I did at the end of June. The run starts out really friggin' hard and doesn't get much easier along the way. The summit was cold and windy. We didn't stay very long up there; just long enough to eat something and take a couple quick photos. The descent down from Gorgonio isn't my favorite. It's long and somewhat technical and I got really bored. But that's the price to pay for going up there!
We got to Baldy a little after 10pm and didn't start running until 10:30. It was pitch black dark and a little chilly. Colin couldn't join for the earlier summits, but he came out and met us for Baldy. It was nice to see him and to have a fresh set of legs and eyes to lead the way. I've run down the Ski Hut Trail but never up it. For some reason, I thought it would be an "easier" climb. I was wrong. It was a killer. The climbing averages about 880 feet per mile (that's 16.6% average grade!). And the second half of the trail is hard to find, let alone follow. And our legs were the opposite of fresh. And it was freezing and crazy windy up top. We were psyched to be at the top (not that you can tell from the expression on my face...).
And I was even more excited to be headed down to the finish. No one was pushing too hard on the way down - trying to balance the strong desire to just be done against a self-preservation interest in not doing anything stupid on tired legs. Thankfully the last mile or so are a gradual downhill dirt road and then road. We were all smiles at the finish, especially when we saw that Ethan and Kim were there to congratulate us and feed us some chips, fruit and Chocolate Zico. Yum!
Billy is putting together a video of the day, I'll post it or link to it here once he has it done. I'm sure it will be awesome.
Then Sunday, after sleeping for a good chunk of the day, I met Jimmy, Kate, Billy, Colin and Kristin for a super-secret Nike-sponsored trail run event called "Camp Kiger". Nike is in the process of launching their new trail shoe, the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger and they wanted some local runners to check out the shoe and help spread the word. They asked us to meet at Temescal, ready to run some trails. And that was pretty much all they told us.
We showed up and there were about 30 runners there, members of different local running groups/teams. A lot of them looked really fast. Like miler fast. That is not my usual running crowd. The Nike reps told us a little about the Terra Kiger and explained why it should be a kick-ass shoe. Then, they told us they were giving each of us a pair of the Kigers! (Free shoes, yay!)
They split us into four teams and told us we had a little race to run. The race was three or four miles with three checkpoints. No team could pass a checkpoint until everyone on the team made it there and the team completed a task, like answering a trivia question (a "Kiger" is a wild horse found in Oregon) or posting a creative photo of the shoes to Instagram. At the final checkpoint, one runner from each team had to grab a flag corresponding to the team's color and then run up to Skull Rock. (Jimmy and I were on the "black" team.)
Of course, my team won! :)
It was a beautiful evening at Skull Rock, clear skies with clouds covering Santa Monica and a sick sunset going on. We took a bunch of photos (Colin took all of these).
Then the group ran together back down to the starting point.
It was a fun event and I really liked running in the Kigers. They're lowish profile, relatively light-weight (for a trail shoe), have a 4mm drop and a grippy outsole. The bright blue with yellow swoosh looks great. They felt great for the 6+ miles we ran on Sunday, but I think they might be a little too narrow for my feet for longer runs. I'm going to spend some more time in them after Run Rabbit Run and will post a full review soon once I have a decent number of miles in them.
Swim: 5,345 meters
Cycling (outdoors): 0 miles
Cycling (indoors): 0:00 (hours)
Run: 345.9 miles
Total Run Elevation Gain: 77,950 feet
Strength Training/Yoga: 1 session
Approximate monthly total training time: 80.25 hours
This was my second biggest run month ever. The only time I've run more in a month was July 2010, the month before AC100. My guess though is that I did more climbing this month than that month. I didn't have a Garmin back then so I can't be sure. More impressive about this August is that I did nearly all of my miles (90%+) in the first three weeks of the month, before traveling a little last week and starting my taper. If not for the taper, either I would have had an even bigger month or my legs would have just fallen off.
Now I'm in serious taper mode. Good thing because my legs are screaming for rest.