Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Wrap-up

Hey, look - it's the end of the year. For a running blogger, that apparently means an end-of-the-year post. Looks like I did one last year about this time as well.

It was kind of a roller-coaster year for me. I had just come off of a couple of good years, 2008 and 2009, but it looks like the end of 2009 and the first couple months of 2010 were kind of rough. I honestly don't remember why that was, though. Sometimes the motivation is just not there, I guess.

Here's a chart of my mileage for 2010:

Like I said, the year started slow, then picked up a bit when I began a solid streak in May/June. I was going to go for 100 days, but got injured a couple weeks before the TRT 50K, then had to drop out of that. Managed a bit of training before the Tahoe Marathon, which was a sufferfest, then barely trained for the Tough Mudder in October. Managed to get fairly serious since then, sticking to a couple of training plans up until the flu hit me the week of Christmas. Just getting over that now, and I think I'll be ready to get out for a run again on the first of January.

What else happened in 2010? Twenty-two races this year, down from twenty-five last year. Two of those were my first multi-stage relays, though, the Reno/Tahoe Odyssey and the Hood to Coast. Great fun, both of them, and I hope I can at least do the Odyssey next year - getting up to Portland turned into a bit much of a time/money investment for me.

NO PRs this year. I haven't been running long enough for that to happen. I think there's still room for improvement in all distances for me. Guess I'll have to work on that for next year. Don't want too many stale PRs sitting around...

Here's a funny bit of trivia - I had 3 (actually, 4) races this year where my bib number was 63. That was my team number at the Reno/Tahoe Odyssey, for the first one. Then I was given bib 63 at the Cold Turkey 4 miler in Carson City, the first race in the Winter Trail Series down there. They had us keep the bibs for the whole series, so I wore it again for the Running With Rudolph trail 10K. And for the Sparks Turkey Trot, I also ended up with 63. Kind of funny. New lucky number, though? Don't think so...

So my grand total of miles for the year was 906. Not the 1000 that I've tried to get to the last few years, but I'm not disappointed or anything. I feel like I'm in a good place now to get some good training and racing in next year, so I won't worry about what happened in 2010 any more. Looking forward here.

As with this year, I don't think I'll post any goals or plans. I have a few things kicking around, and if I feel the need, I'll put them out there. But for now they feel comfortable in my head.

(In other stats, I also had a good reading year. 130 books read in 2010. Just barely over last year's total. And my other hobby, baking, has been productive as well. Learned how to make bombes just recently - molded cakes filled with mousse and glazed with ganache. And my first ever macaroons are waiting to be frosted on the oven right now.)

(As requested, a photo of a bombe. This one is chocolate cake,filled with raspberry-white chocolate mousse, covered in dark chocolate ganache and drizzled with white chocolate.)

Hope everyone has a fun, safe and healthy 2011. Keep running!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Favorite Running Photo of 2010

Inspired by a post on Coach Jenny's blog at, I decided to look through my photos from 2010 and see if I could come up with a favorite for the year. Many of the pics from the Fall Colors Half Marathon were tempting, as were any of them that included members of Team Library Dork. In the end, though - and despite the fact that it was one of my worst races in memory - I had to choose this one, from the Lake Tahoe Marathon. The calm, cool early miles by the lake are always sooo nice...

Friday, December 17, 2010

More Contests

Yikes - another amazing contest over at Running and Rambling. Donald's giving away three pairs of New Balance MT101s, one of the most talked about lightweight trail shoes out there!. Take a look!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Trails: Keystone Canyon and Evans Creek Canyon

Living in Northwest Reno, we're lucky to have a couple of classic Reno trails right out our back door. The trail up Keystone Canyon was introduced to me as an old favorite when I first moved here 13 years ago, and the part of Rancho San Rafael extending up Evans Creek Canyon has been very nicely developed during my time here. These trails have of course changed over time - sections wash out, abandoned cars appear and disappear, new improvements are made - but they remain popular for their accessibility, challenge and the access they offer to even more trails on the flanks of Peavine Peak.

In order to make a loop out of the two canyons, I used to run along McCarran Blvd. from the bottom of Evans Creek Canyon to Keystone Canyon. Within the last few years, though, a connecting trail has been built - called, plainly, the Rancho Connector. It allows you to stay on singletrack for almost the whole loop between the canyons - about six and a half miles, depending on your exact route.

So, here I'm going to lead you through the route that I take. There are many different ways you can run these trails; this just happens to be the way that I prefer it. I like to go up Keystone Canyon because I find it a little easier climb than up Evans Creek, but I know a lot of people like to do it the other way. And there are trails criscrossing the whole area - I'm sure some of them are wonderful, but I've just stayed on ones that I like and am familiar with.

So, here's a basic overview of my route. For a zoomable map, visit the Garmin Connect site.

And an elevation profile:

The trailhead is just off the parking lot for the softball fields on the northwest corner of the intersection of North Virginia and McCarran. This is where the disc golf course begins and ends as well; depending on the time of day you may need to dodge a few discs.

You quickly head past the Basque Sheepherder's monument:

before heading downhill and through the edge of a marked nature trail. After crossing what's left of Evans Creek, you'll veer to the left toward a house on the hill before coming to a sign for the Rancho Connector that I failed to get a picture of. Climbing uphill through some long switchbacks, a look behind you will take in the monument and the parking lot where you left your car:

The trail parallels McCarran Boulevard heading west for awhile, climbing up to a shoulder and leveling out for awhile, with views like this:

It's not too long, though, before you're looking up Keystone Canyon, about ready to drop down a couple switchbacks and start climbing up it:

It's a about a mile and a half climb up Keystone Canyon, but the terrain changes enough that it doesn't get boring. Through tunnels of bushes, on sidehills, and winding through rocky bits like this:

There's a short section of dirt road, which you hop back off of onto some more singletrack, and the a good goal comes into view: the radio towers.

After cresting the hill and dropping down to another dirt road, we'll turn right. More singletrack continues to the left, pretty much indefinitely into the Peavine hills, but today we're heading up toward the end of Hoge Road and then up the hill to the right:

Before the top of this hill, there's a singletrack trail branching off to the left. This is the one I like to take, because this is what greets you after the climb:

A little hazy down there in town, but beautiful up here.

At this point the trail starts to get a bit hazy itself. If you stay by the line of telephone poles and to the right of a big grouping of rocks, though, you'll soon be on track and heading eastish towards the top of Evans Creek Canyon.

A last couple of rocky climbs and the trail turns right for some long switchbacks down to Evans Creek. A hairpin turn near a housing development sends you flying into Evans Creek Canyon itself. There are trails on both sides of the canyon, but I usually stay on the right (west) side on the way down - here's what it looks like from there.

At one point, the trail dips back down near the creek, and you can choose to cross it and take the east side trail back in. I usually opt to take "Old Miners" for a little rocky climb out.

This section takes you just below the UNR "N" on the side of the hill, then back a nice downhill to where you first crossed the creek. Shouldn't be hard now to make your way past the Basque Monument, dodging frisbees, back to your car.

Hope everyone enjoys their runs out ther, and I hpoe to see more and more folks ou on the trails!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Running with Rudolph Trail 10K

There had been some threatening weather reports over the last couple days, so I packed a lot of different layers to head to Carson city for the Running with Rudolph 10K this morning, part of the Winter Trail Series put on by Ascent Physical Therapy. By the time I got down there, though, it was shaping up to be a beautiful morning. Standing around the start area, my hands were a little cold, but I knew they'd warm up once I started running.

(My Garmin managed to record the whole race this time, so I actually have a course to show you. click through to the Garmin Connect site for elevation profile and stuff.)

The elevation profile:

Basically, the first three miles was up Ash Canyon, and the last three came back down a slightly different route, with another little climb thrown in. I ended up running near people for the whole race - here are some pics of the climb:

After turning at the top, we started to come back down the canyon. Being a bit more protected, there were a few patches of snow, but nothing major.

After a short climb out of the canyon, there were some great views of Carson City:

Trying to follow Shannon there down hills is tough - she's lightning fast on descents. With a quarter mile left, though, we turned onto a paved path, a guy in surf shorts blew by us, and she slowed. I think she still finished first female, though - here's her finishing with second close behind.

After the race, I grabbed a gel and switched to a short sleeve shirt, because I needed to get a few more miles in - my training plan called for twelve today. Abbey, who didn't feel like racing a week after doing the Death Valley Trail Marathon. We took it a little easier on this loop, and even managed to chat a bit.

All in all, a wonderful day, and another great race in the Winter Trail Series. Looking forward to the next one - The Centennial Slug It Out on January 15.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's complicated

One of the things that you hear runners praise about their chosen sport is that it's uncomplicated. "Just throw on a pair of shoes and you're out the door." Having come to running myself because I was tired of dealing with mechanical problems with mountain bikes, I can identify with this. However, as I got ready to head out this morning for a run, I did the following:

Put on running-specific clothing - compression shorts, running tights, wicking shirt, windbreaker, light gloves and vented hat.

Put on running shoes, and special running socks.

Strapped on a heart rate monitor (first time in awhile I've done that.)

Remembered my GPS watch, which receives a signal from the heart rate monitor.

Fit my cell phone (which is also an MP3 player) into an armband and routed the headphone cord to my ears so I could listen to NPR's Science Friday as a podcast while I ran.

Filled an handheld water bottle to hydrate with, and slipped a gel into the pocket in case I needed it.

Double-checked to make sure I had everything.

Wondered when running got so complicated.

What do YOU do to complicate your runs?