Fall is easily my favorite time of year to run. The leaves are changing color, the mornings and evenings are cool, midday is still warm, there's a bit of snow in the mountains, the trails are less crowded, Sascha can go further and faster because of the lower temps...it's just very pleasant. After being out of town the previous 9 weekends (!!), I was really looking forward to hanging out in central Oregon and enjoying some nice fall running here in this beautiful area.
First, congratulations to Nessski for kicking butt at only his 2nd 50k (he ran well at his first one, too). At the Autumn Leaves 50k, he smoked a 3:40:14! The little bastard beat my time from there 2 years ago by 4 seconds. Attaboy, Ryan!
Last Sunday, I organized the 3 Butte Butt Buster Fun Run at Fleet Feet. I had wanted to make a big loop and run the 3 main buttes in Bend for quite a while. So I figured it was time to stop thinking about it and just do it. I sent out the invite to the FF e-group and was stoked with the 23 runner turnout. The 65 degree weather definitely helped out. We ran up Overturf, then across town to Pilot, then back across town for the big finale - Awbrey. In all, we ran 13.8 miles, gained 1,609' and descended that much, too. Definitely one of the tougher road 1/2 marathons out there! Here's the cool route: http://www.usatf.org/routes/view.asp?rID=258418
Since Sascha didn't join in 3 butte fun, and the day was so beautiful, I thought she would enjoy at least one butte. So when I got home from the 3 Butte Run, I immediately put Sascha in the car and we drove to Black Butte to tackle that bad boy. I wanted a 20+ mile day, so we parked 1 1/2 miles and 500+' vertical below the trailhead and ran the road up to the trail. Since it was such a beautiful day, I really shouldn't have been at all surprised by how many people were on the butte enjoying it one last time before the snow...but, I was. It had been a few years since I was on Black Butte on a busy weekend. But hey, I was there enjoying it, so I couldn't really blame others for doing the same. Just cruising and enjoying the day, with Sascha setting the pace, we ran the 2 mile, 1,600' climb on the trail right at 24 minutes. Anything under 25 is good, so I was happy. Since it was probably the last time we would be on top for a while, we hung out and enjoyed the view (Mt. Adams was even super clear) for 10 minutes. Sascha was a bit lazy descending, so we didn't set any speed records, but we did have a great mid-November afternoon playing together on Black Butte in 65 degree weather. It was a great way to end my 21 mile, 3,700' day.
I had Monday off and really wanted to get in the mountains one last time before the snow hits for good. I decided to go with one of my favorites - Black Crater. Even though we had just run Black Butte the previous day, I knew Sascha wouldn't want to miss this one. And Fatboy and I hadn't run together in a while, so I invited him to join the fun, too. We parked at the gate (which had closed 1 1/2 weeks earlier for the season due to snow, but had since melted off) and ran the 3 1/2 paved miles up to the BC trailhead at a mellow pace with FB leading the conversation. A little stretching at the trailhead (but no wilderness permit to fill-out) and Fatboy and Sascha set off up the trail. I started a few minutes later and as I went by, FB told me he may be a while. I said to not worry because I wasn't going for any record. Sascha joined me and immediately set a very comfortable pace up front. The Black Crater trail is 4 miles long and gains about 2,500 vertical; anything under 50 min. to the top is good. I casually noticed that I hit my first time check about 2 min. faster than 50 min. pace. The next check was another min., 2 more min. for the 3rd, and another minute for the last pitch to the top. Hm, 44 minutes...guess I lied to Fatboy about no record today. Not only was I not trying to get a p.r. (my heartrate was only 120 when I reached the top, 7,257'), but there was enough blowdown to keep me in check from ever opening up. Crap, I'm getting in shape. FB joined us not long after and showed me the cool cross country route he took a few months back getting back down. Maybe next summer... A nice cruiser down the trail and road and we were back at the car. Running with my two best running partners on my favorite trail in central Oregon in my favorite season - not too shabby of a day.
I wanted to get in a track day this week. I planned on Tuesday, but after lots of miles and vert. on Sunday and Monday, after my two mile warm-up to the track, I decided to just keep on running past it. Good call as I felt much looser when I finished my easy run, then I ended up having a good track session on Wednesday. 800-1600-800, jog a lap, 800-1600-800. Other than the 400 jog between sets, I rested no more than 2 minutes between each interval. I averaged 2:41 for my 8s and 5:35 for my 16s. Good, solid workout. I was happy.
I wasn't going to run on Thursday, but when I got home after work, Sascha had other plans. To keep her happy, we went out for an easy 5. As usual, I was glad I did it when we were done. Friday morning was 4 PBRs (Pilot Butte repeats) - one paved mile up and .8 trail miles down, 500' vertical each way. As I've said before, this is my favorite workout in Bend. I can get so much bang for my buck. In about 54 minutes, I can get 7.2 good miles with 2,000' of climbing and descending. I love it! Although the CIM course profile looks nothing like this, I'm convinced the hills make me stronger, which then ultimately makes me faster for longer periods. And I don't get the same repetitive jarring as on the track or a fast road tempo.
Saturday morning was the annual COCC Turkey Trot. This is a super fun, low-key run at the local community college. It's challenging 3 mile route with a fast, downhill 1st mile, gradual uphill 2nd, then big uphill and short downhill last mile. I've run from 17:38 - 18:24. I'm fit this year so I wanted to go sub-17. I was lame and the day before, I told local studs Jeff Caba and Andy Martin about the Trot. They showed up and pushed the 1st mile fast. I went through in 5:10 and was a bit concerned. Mile 2 in 11:04 confirmed I went out to hard. I suffered a bit going up the steep part of the 3rd mile, then recorved a bit on the down, before suffering again on the final short uphill pitch. 17:01...doh! I decided I was happy with the effort, then enjoyed the awesome homemade goodies that are always at this race. I don't know who does all of the baking, but I sure do appreciate it. COCC puts on 5-6 fun, low-key races throughout the year and they're all super cheap ($5-$8), have great prizes and terrific post-race goodies, and almost always draw a few ringers uber-competitive Bend.
One last long run tomorrow 13 days out from CIM. Well, long is relative, as it's only going to be 17. As per coach Thomas, 12 at a moderate pace, then pick it up the last 5, finishing around marathon race pace. A track workout this week and a short one early next week, then I'll be fit to fly. Well, unless I get too fat on Thanksgiving. But that's why it's good I'm running CIM and not Seattle.