Monday, June 18, 2007

31 mile run/hike at Yosemite

(6:20am June 17, 2007 L to R - Pam, me, Anil, Arun, Vineeta)

We got back from an real adventure at Yosemite (got home at 3am!) - 5 of us had planned on running/walking 31 miles yesterday (Sunday June 17th) -

(Camp fire)

After a fun filled Saturday evening by the camp fire with a few beers and some good company we called it a night around 10:30pm - the temp had dropped to the high/mid 40s and I abandoned my plans of sleeping out in the open - took my sleeping bag into Arun Sharma's tent and was soon in deep sleep.

(The route)

We had planned for a 6:00am start which would have given us 14 hours of daylight to do this run/hike. We started at 6:30 am from White Wolf campsite (8,000 feet) and descended 4,000 feet in 6 miles - after a 4 mile flat section we planned to run the 21 mile route from Pate Valley to Toulumne Meadows which gradually went back up to 8,600 feet.

(the climb down to Pete Valley)

Around 9:30 am we stopped at the river to fill up on water - Arun and Pam decided to run on ahead to save some time. Anil, Vineeta and I started about 15 mins later - at the junction (Pate Valley) we missed the Toulumne Meadows Trail and ended up taking the the wrong trail.

(The water stop 9:30 am)

Under the assumption that Arun and Pam were motoring on ahead we too started pushing through the very overgrown and almost covered trail. Anil kept running ahead and shouting for Arun and Pam but go no response so we continued to run/walk for 2:30 hours - the ~ 4.5 miles we ran took us up about 2,600 feet (we were at 6,600 feet). The trail was overgrown and full of thorns - all of us have minor cuts on our legs/arms. At places I did see some big piles of droppings - I knew they were not mine :-) it was either a big deer of one of the Yosemite black bears! At times we heard some noises in the bushes - not a fun feeling. Finally we realized we were on the wrong trail and decided against pushing for the top (we assumed that around 8,000 feet we would see some camp sites/ Ranger station) luckily sanity prevailed and we turned back to make sure we got to the river, our only water source.

It took us about 1:20 mins to run back to Pate Valley - at every turn through the thick brush I would imagine a bear standing times the black burnt tree stubs caught my eye - and my heart would skip a beat or three! By the time we got back to the junction and realized our error we were almost 4 hours behind Arun & Pam. After a brief discussion we then decided to head back to White Wolf Camp - although Rashmi & Lily were waiting for us at Toulumne meadows (20 miles from White wolf) we knew we could at least get the message to them through the rangers saying we were OK. Vineeta, Anil and I kept running and discussing various scenarios - What would Arun/Pam do? would they be waiting for us? Would they have come back? Gone on? What would we have done if we were in their place? It took our mind off the run for a while.

We stopped at the river and filled up our bottles and backpacks and braced for the climb back to White Wolf. The 6 mile 4,000 foot climb back to White Wolf was brutal. We had come down this trail earlier in the day - it was strewn with uneven rocks and bad footing which made a treacherous descent - but the ascent was just plain murder!

We were trying to ensure that we got back by 6:00pm so that we could get a ride to Toulumne and meet the others at that trail head before sundown. Anil was still in fine form - Vineeta and I were feeling fatigued. We made some stops to calm our breathing and heart rates and we pushed each other on, reminding each other to eat and drink water. We made it back at 6:30pm - Vineeta convinced the Rangers to give us a ride to Toulumne Meadows - the Rangers (god bless them) dropped us at Toulumne Meadows at 7:20 pm where we met Rashmi & Lily who were waiting for us. They were really starting to worry. Arun and Pam had not come in as yet. So after a quick change and adding a few more layers Anil and I started walking back down the trail trying to see if we could locate them. Finally after about a 40 min walk into the trail our shouts were returned by Arun & Pam - Man! we were so relived - they made the 31+ mile trek/run in 14.5 hours (6:30 am to 9:00pm) What a day! - Anil, Vineeta and I ran/walked about 30 miles (6:30 am to 6:30pm.)

Arun and Pam had very little food or salt tabs on them as most of the food was with Anil and me - the trail they were on was devoid of tree cover for most part and the valley was simmering at 90F by mid day. Running low on sugar and energy the two willed each other on for 14 hours (13 hours if us remove the hour they spent waiting for us). But in spite of all this they came away saying that the route was really beautiful - the water falls and vistas were fantastic. I doff my hat to these two athletes. I guess I'll have to make another trip there to see this stuff!

We have a lot of learning to do - we were very very lucky this time.

The bad decisions:
1) Not discussing the trail in much detail the prior evening - not carrying a map - not having a back up plan. I did not pay attention when Arun was going over the map.
2) To let the group split up.
3) To continue on the wrong trail for 2.5 hrs (we should have turned around in 45 mins of not seeing the other two!)
4) Not distributing the bars/gels/salt tabs equally - the three of us had the bulk of it - Arun and Pam were lucky enough to meet other campers who parted with a few energy bars)

Good decisions:
1) Heading back to the river for water.
2) Heading back to White Wolf instead of trying to catch the other two.
3) Ensuring we got to camp before sunset.

Other Pix:

(All photographs taken by Arun Sharma.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tri OneOOne - Sunday June 10, 2007

Patel - Me - Vinod - on the way to Clearlake (At the Golden Gate Bridge)

SWIM 1.86 miles/ BIKE 80 miles/ Run 18.6 miles

When we hit the hills driving into Clearlake - about 2 miles into the narrow road came the sign "Caution Narrow Road" - Patel cracked me up with his deadpan comment -"Thank god we are thin". We got into Lakeport and checked in our bikes - headed out for a few beers. As per Vinod the mandatory athletes meeting was at 5:00pm so into the tent we went - The race organizers were being really nice and when Patel asked if coke was going to be served on the course he was told "sure if you want it we will make arrangements". Now...I've raced many triathlons but never have had such an awesome response from the organizers...something was not right. Then Dan Empfield who was covering the race for said he did not recognize some of the athletes and would like to set up a few one on ones!! Hmmm the bells started ringing in my head (I thought it was from the beer). The next speaker was the USAT official who said that the decision on wetsuits will be made in the morning as the water temp was just below 72F! Patel looked at me in shock and with a few whispered "bleeps bleeps" said "Holy bleeping bleep bleep no wetsuits!" - that's when I realized we were sitting at the professional athletes meeting...Hilarious!! So we slid out of there - and then had a few laughs with Dan Empfield about it...(They did indeed serve coke on the course - and this race has a superb race management team)

Race Morning: Beautiful day.
"Like putting toothpaste back into the tube" Yea! That was what one thought of when Rajeev Patel came to the swim start putting on his wetsuit! When Kelly helped zip him up she said that his shoulder blades almost snapped together :-) He was all set -no sign of open water jitters.

SWIM 1.86 miles
It was an uneventful swim and I crawled out in about an hour. Struggled out of my wetsuit and into the bike gear.

BIKE: 80 miles
The bike was a relatively flat course - bumpy roads - If not for the care I took some of those potholes could clearly have altered my voice...if my wife is reading this (she is out of town) - honey, the boys survived...
It was great to see Rajeev Patel on the bike - which meant he not only survived the swim but also made the cutoff (he was worried about not making the 1:45:00 cutoff - he came in with plenty of time to spare) I saw Vinod & Kelly going great guns and we passed each other on all the three loops. I was doing fine - sticking with my plan to ride relatively conservatively and I did come off the bike feeling pretty strong.

RUN 18.6 miles - HILLY
The 2 loop run was really hilly - the hilliest run I've had to do in a triathlon. I chugged along and met up with Vinod at mile 7 and we ran together for the next 3 miles - mile 10-13 is when I normally start unravelling (it has happened on all my previous races) - strangely I was feeling good at mile 10 so I upped the pace a bit and continued on with some sub 10 min/miles. The total finish time 9:23:49 (9 hrs 23 mins 49 secs).
Swim: 1:01:20
Bike: 5:00:31
Run: 3:14:08

Vinod had a monster 3 weeks leading up to the race which included, three back to back 100 mile rides (Memorial Day weekend) and the Alcatraz triathlon a week before this race. The cumulative fatigue started to slow him down. The fact that I caught him at mile 7 should tell him that he needs rest - else there is no way a guy like me can catch and pass an athlete like him.

Rajeev Patel (his race report finished his first official triathlon and it was an ultra distance triathlon to boot. Amazing guy with an amazing attitude, he brought his sense of fun and his energy to the race...triathlon is richer for that.

Great race - very well organized and everyone in the town of Lakeport was so friendly and supportive - lovely place. This race is on my list for 2008.

For the inspirational Lakeport stories of Mellanie Irvine & Ashley and for photographs of the race please read Rajeev Patel's blog.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

May update

A 15 day trip to Bombay in mid April brought all training to a standstill. But fortunately May was a productive month:

Finally got into my wetsuit after almost 8 months and had a nice mile swim at Coyote Point. The bike distance has gone up to 80 miles in May with Page Mill Road to Skyline back in my training route.

I am experimenting with Yasso running & am up to five 800s @ 3:15-3:20 pace (6:30/6:40 mile pace). Good or bad it keep me focused and hopefully gets me closer to an easy paced 3:45:00 marathon.

Total mileage for May:
Bike: 320 miles
Run: ~80 miles
Swim: Not enough!

Chicago Marathon is back on my schedule for October. Since it is three weeks earlier this year it should be warmer and a bit more fun to run.

Next Sunday is TriOneOOne ( Rajeev Patel & Vinod Herur will be participating as well.

No sign of summer in the Bay Area yet, temp has been around the 70s. When riding on Skyline it feels more like 50...

12 Weeks to Ironman Canada - that means 12 long rides left!

Happy running