Sunday, September 10, 2017

The end of 2017 triathlon season

I just closed out my triathlon racing for 2017.

Yesterday was an Olympic distance race (Lake Stevens) and today was a sprint (Tri Turtle Tri).

For me it was a personal challenge to race the ITU Worlds Long Course two weeks ago and follow that up with 2 successive weekends of short course racing and to race well across them all. Now that I’ve passed the 70-year age mark, the number of my age group competitors is very, very thin. This means that to compete I need to focus on younger men, my overall finish position, personal improvement in specific legs, etc., etc.

My swimming has greatly improved this year so that was one of my goals: swim well. It’s always hard to  judge because who knows how accurately a swim course is set. In all my races this year, I felt relaxed and strong for the swim portion; that’s good. Getting to the bike rack with bikes left is also good.

Transitions are another story; they all seem to be pretty slow. I must be too laid back! Plus, I now have these personal idiosyncrasies that take longer: hydration pack for long course, waist water bottle pack for the run. Thinking about it, I realize this is part of my learning how to hydrate. If I hydrate, I race well. If I don’t then I fall apart. Thus a little more time in transition pays HUGE dividends in the racing legs.

Cycling continues to be my strong suit: I can ride strong and position myself to lose spots on the run. Since this is generally far and away the longest leg, I’m able to put more time on the field. My rides this year bear out this strategy.

Then there’s (ouch) my running. These old legs just don’t have the snap they used to and I lose many positions to faster runners. The numbers also show this.

What does this mean for 2018?


Do some off-season run-specific training, working toward some more speed. Ah, where is self-discipline when it’s needed? I intend to enjoy the hills the next few months by off-road running and continue testing out MTB riding (something new for me!). Then, of course, there’s road time in southern California in early 2018. This should get me refreshed and ready to hit the Ironman trail in the spring to prepare to race at Challenge Roth next year.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Bonney Lake Olympic Triathlon, 2017

Last year I raced the sprint version of this race but decided to step up to the Olympic distance this year. My spring Oly race went so well, I figured it would be no problem and I'd be racing off my long distance fitness.

Bonney Lake is pretty small so our course was 2 750m laps. We swam straight into the rising sun for leg 1 (and leg 3) and the buoy was really hard to see. Luckily there were some very distinctive trees on the shore for sighting. Twice around and I felt good. The distance must have been a bit short, based on my time, but I'll take it!

We had quite a run from the water exit across the road and through the sprint race transition area to our area. Most of the bikes were still on my rack when I got there, always a good sign.

Out of T1 we had a short hill almost immediately. This turned out to be an apt description for the bike course: short hills, flat areas, easy downhills. The Oly bike course had a 2 loop section in the middle to give us more distance. At about mile 10 we continued on to go around once more while the sprint course athletes returned to transition. By the time I got to loop 2 there were a lot of sprint races on the course, making it a lot more interesting. Great views, bright sun, decent roads. All good stuff.

After the second mid-course lap I made the left turn to return to transition and the run. Some nice downhill and gentle spinning back to transition helped get my legs ready to run.

Once again we were routed through the sprint transition area. Lots of activity as all kinds of athletes were coming in and going out.

After a decent transition I headed out on the run which turned out to be pretty challenging. Darren had warned me that it was up hill from transition, but how could there be so much up hill when we never seemed to get very high above the lake? I guess it was the rolling terrain. Anyway, it was hard.

We ran along the lake shore then off into the neighborhoods past the 5K turnaround to our turnaround. It seemed that there was more downhill on the way back so I opened up my pace a bit and passed a few people (probably sprint racers). I felt good the last mile and ran in hard.

The numbers:
My goal finish time was 2:45 and I managed to break 2:30 (by more than 4 minutes!), so that was very good. Swim: goal 28 minutes, actual 24:28 (See why I think it was short.) Ride: goal 1:10, actual 1:03 (I rocked!). Run: goal 1 hour, actual 54:17 (sub 9 minutes/mile! Incredible for me). For more details, click here.

There was actually another competitor in my age group; we'll call him Mr. Montana. He's 71 and his shirtless torso was the color of a well-used saddle from many, many shirtless hours spent in the sun. And he looked young. On the podium he told me he missed a turn on the bike course and rode some extra distance. Lucky me! So, I wasn't the oldest person in the race today.

My body was my main competitor today. Last Wednesday I made the mistake of swimming in Lake Washington without my nose clips and I've had a raging sinus infection ever since. It's unbelievable how much mucous can come out of the human head. Just hope I didn't nail any of my fellow athletes when I emptied out on the race course. Of course, breathing was a bit of a challenge. Thank heavens we have a mouth in addition to 2 teeny little nostrils.
x

Monday, August 28, 2017

Penticton ITU Multisport World Championships (2017)

It’s done and I managed a hot day, something new for me. All my concerns about my TeamUSA uniform proved to be uneventful. It worked flawlessly and really helped me keep cool. At every run aid station I doused myself from head to toe in cold water and the evaporation kept me cool to the next aid station. I’ve never had such a good experience at keeping cool. The only downside was that my shoes got wet after a while causing my feet to squish around.

The details: (numbers here, for them what’s interested)

Race morning we had a light breeze (which kept up all day, helping with the cooling). I was so glad to have had all those days in Lake Washington with light wind and waves. It made this swim totally manageable.

My wave (men 40+) had about 300 starters. With the dinky little 10 meter ‘line in the sand’ start it was crowded. Luckily everyone wasn’t required to cross the official start line, so people spread out on the beach. The swim was a clockwise 3KM loop starting at Rotary Park (near the Peach) and ending at Okanagan Park (east of the Coast Hotel). It was pretty busy out to the second turn and return-to-the-beach leg. By that time I started to see some purple swim caps (younger women’s wave) around me. Someone must have thought I was a good swimmer because I had fingers on my feet for most of the swim (weird person!).

The swim felt just like a long training swim, except for the other people crowded around. Luckily we were all going in the same direction.

I was shooting for a 55 minute swim, but ended up with 58 and first out of the water for my AG!

The ride is an out and back north along Lake Okanagan to Summerland and back, followed by 2 loops around Skaha Lake. Both loops include McLean Ranch Road and Highway 97 out of OK Falls. Plenty of up but also some good down. Those of you who’ve raced in Penticton will remember most of these roads.

There was a slight south wind so the leg to Summerland was wind assisted and the return leg wind hindered. I still managed to crank comfortably along in my aero bars almost all the time. Then along the spectator lined Lakeshore Drive and out of town on Government Drive. Once out by Cherry Lane we were back on the road to OK Falls along Skaha Lake; all very familiar ground. Up McLean Ranch Road and down the manky descent to OK Falls (with a dead or sleeping cat on one of the corners!). A few turns through OK Falls, part of it the end of the old IMC marathon course, then up the Highway 97 hill out of town. Even though I’ve ridden this before I still don’t have the false summit section down. After the steeper low section, there’s a long, gradual climb that’s deceptively steep. I kept thinking “Why is this so hard?”.

Each loop brought us back into town and through the crowd.

I had an altered bike hydration plan (thanks to Gary and Ed) and followed it. A little less drinking early on and a bit more towards the end. I started the ride with full 2 liters in my hydration pack and added 1.5 liters, which turned out to be about .75 liters too much, at the McClean Ranch Road aid station.

I crushed the 120KM ride with a sub 4-hour time and was EXTREMELY pleased. My legs were good off the bike and, after a porta-potty visit, I was through the change tent and out onto the run.

The run course for this race was basically a set of 3 out and back loops: one along Main Street, a second along Martin Street over almost to the Convention Center, and the third along the lake shore, past the Sicamous, and up to a turnaround near Highway 97. Each loop was 10K and we repeated it 3 times. Very tedious, very hot with temperatures around 30°C. I was very pleased with the functioning of my TeamUSA uniform: no arm chafing (which I’d feared) and excellent cooling when doused with water.

I followed my hydration plan with a short drinking walk every half mile and consumed fluids on my known schedule (1/2 liter each 3 miles). My only problem was the spacing of the aid stations. The aid stations on both Main St. and Martin St. were placed too close to the turnaround point so they were unevenly spaced around the course It took me about half the run to figure out how to get my water bottle refilled when I needed it.

Other than that, it was just jog along, getting passed by faster runners, and keep moving forward.

My run was not as fast as I’d hoped, but still adequate. The first 2 laps were pretty even pace, but by lap 3 I really slowed down and had to pay attention to keep moving. By then, a lot of people were walking so I was able to pass others. It was only on the third lap that I saw a competitor with a race number near to me and I passed him while he was walking. Turned out he wasn’t on lap 3, but farther back.

All day long I’d been looking at race numbers to see if an age group competitor was near me, passing or being passed, and saw no one. So, I was scared the whole time about where I was in the field (wanting to finish well!). So, it was with great pleasure that I heard Steve King announce that his “… good friend Mike Nelson wins the gold in the 70-74 age category” as I crossed the finish line. What a relief.

After finishing I did has some blood pressure issues and faint headed-ness which a stop in the Medical Tent for fluids and a chair resolved. Then food, some rest, and the evening awards ceremony.


The awards ceremony had a number of cool features: an Olympic style podium for the bronze, silver, and gold medalists; representatives from the various national triathlon organizations handing out national flags so you could proudly display your nation’s colors; men and women presented at the same time (cut down on the awards time); old people first which meant I got to go out first with my fellow 70-74 winners, followed by all the young uns. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Challenge Penticton, 2015

This year was the year of BIG fires in NE Washington and British Columbia so the first step was deciding how to get to Penticton. Our normal route through the Okanogan Valley was an unknown due to the massive fires and the potential for road closures, not to mention smoke. In the end we chose to use the Canada Hwy 3 route. Smoke was minimal until we reached the Manning Lodge area in Manning Park and pretty thick from there on.


Once in Penticton there was a smoke layer that hung right down on the lake. Those familiar with the swim course will remember that leg 1 goes across the lake towards Sand Mesa. This view was quite obscured by smoke as was the view towards Naramata. This was the case for the first couple of days in Penticton. Then we got some wind and rain and the air cleared up.


The air also got cold! Normally temperatures are 80s and 90s but dropped into the 60s and 70s. Nice for racing, but not what I expected.


It was a small field again, only about 1200 competitors across the 2 races (full and half courses, plus relays).


There were about 200 athletes in the full distance race and we started the swim in a single wave at 6:30 AM. The half distance racers started a half hour later and we all came together for the last few 100 meters of the swim. This swim was the first time that I've had someone draft off me. I'm such a lame swimmer that this was a weird experience. Through about the 2/3 point I could feel the delicate touch of fingers on my toes, then the person either dropped away or surged ahead.


My swim was even better than I had planned at 1:12, maybe a personal best!


Then it was off on the bike and into the wind. Oh, the wind! The wind that cleared the smoke was now directly in our face. All the way to Osoyoos (~40 miles) into the wind. Places where I should be going 25MPH I was working to go 15.


And lonely. We shared the road with the half athletes to just before Oliver where they turned off for the return to Penticton. I watched riders turn right, turn right, turn right until only myself and another rider continued on. We were all alone at that point. After a time I passed him and saw a single rider maybe a half mile ahead of me. That's the way it was all the way to Osoyoos. And the only time we got relief from the wind was a big hill just a few miles before Osoyoos which was tall enough to provide some shelter.


As we started up Richter Pass I could see a few more riders aread of me and folks got more bunched up as we continued to climb. I stopped at the Richter summit to scatter some ashes of a good Ironman friend who died this summer. A very kind volunteer took pictures of me and emailed them to me later so I now have a photo record to share.


After the windy ride to Osoyoos the headwinds into Keremeos were a piece of cake. We had a course change from prior years so went all the way into Keremeos then a very short out and back. We made this up later, after Yellow Lake.


Which was the next destination and aid station. On the climb to Yellow Lake I encountered a few miles of rain and got quite soaked. Others I talked with actually got hit with hail hard enough to cause bruising! Then something brand new: onto a secondary road with a couple of short, steep climbing pitches and then a couple of long, cold descents on very gnarly roads. I got cold enough that I stopped and put on arm warmers. After the gnarly road, out onto highway 97 and a couple of very fast downhill miles into Okanogan Falls. The last few miles of the bike were along Skaha Lake with a tail wind! I managed to get 22-26MPH with the tail wind and the thought of getting off the bike.
With all the head wind I was off my target time by almost a half hour, finishing in a few minutes under 7 hours.


T2 was a challenge because I'd packed my run shorts into my transition back inside out and had a helluva time getting them turned right side out!


Another course change this year for the run: after running Lakeshore over to the Sicamous we headed south along the canal to Skaha Lake (almost) then back and finally out of town. This was great because I've been struggling all summer with a sore heel and running on soft surfaces, which I could do along the canal, was much easier on my foot. Also, with this addition we didn't have to run up (twice) the monster hill out along Skaha Lake; our turn around was just before the rise up the hill.
I stayed right on plan for the run: with my Garmin set to give me an alarm every 1/2 mile I took a short walk and drank from my water bottle. With HEED at just about every aid station I was totally hydrated. My marathon target was 6 hrs, so my time of 5:47+ was a big plus.


The run finish was quite exciting, even though dark. The race organizers built a small stadium with bleacher seats and everything so I came out of the darkness into the U-shaped and red-carpeted finish area in front of the crowd. Even with the small race field this felt big.


It was still windy at the end so the main thing I wanted to do was to get out of the wind and warm up. Wrapped in my space blanket I sat for a while in the massage tent then got a volunteer to help me retrieve my stuff.


This year the race organizers decided to recognize the athletes who have kept coming back year after year, so anyone with at least 10 races in Penticton was named as a 'legend'. We had our own special race numbers (mine was 15) and bike racks right next to the pros. I'd guess that there were 25 or so legends in the rack. We also got a plaque at the awards ceremony the next day; mine was for 20 years, this being my 23rd time racing in Penticton. Only a couple more years and I'll be a 25-year legend!


Overall, this was a good race for me. It was cool and my hydration plan worked just fine so I didn't have my usual heat related problems. At the end of the race I was alert and conscious. Even able to take a shower when I got back to our room. Out of the approximately 200 athletes in the long race, there were 5 in my age group. Three of us finished and I snagged 2nd with a time a few minutes under 14 hours.


This could possibly be the last year for a full distance race in Penticton. Next year it will host the Canadian Long Distance ITU Championship so the race will be at the ITU distances (3K/120K/30K). This is in preparation for the ITU Worlds in 2017 when ALL the ITU distance championships will be in Penticton. Consider coming next year; the distances are a LOT more approachable than the IM distance and Penticton is a great destiination.

Friday, August 31, 2012

IMC 2012, the end of Ironman in Penticton

Going into the race this year, I had no inkling of the changes that would be happening. To wit, WTC yanked its license from Graham Fraser, the city and NAS/WTC couldn't come to any agreement and the Challenge Family is now the race organizer for 2013.

Whew!

My focus going in was a confluence of great numbers for me: years at IMC (20), age of IMC (30), and a new age group for me (65).

This year I had a great training start but then a 2-month hiatus with spotty training due to sinus infections. It even morphed into a reaction to the water of Lake Washington this year. At my single race before IMC (Chelanman) I was so deeply tired after finishing that great doubts came into my mind. Nonetheless, I persevered with some great training weeks and some that were just plain tiring in the interim.

Janet and I traveled to Penticton on the Tuesday before the race, our usual pattern. During the week we hook up with old friends: have lunch with Tony and Stella, see the McGivers, etc. Plus, there are the ironman activities, daily swims in Lake Okanagan, runs, bikes. And try to get a wee bit of work done in between.

On Friday morning we hooked up with Mary Carey and her Denver gang for a swim and breakfast. Then of course the pre-race banquet in the evening. I was very disappointed at the number of extra tickets available as Janet was unable to attend with me. My tri-buddies were, though, and we truly enjoyed the athlete stand down. The 2 Eds of the Dick-Eds were seated at my table and Dick came over for the stand down. With all the 30 year nostalgia it was great to see them as the last men standing - 29 years of participation at IMC!

Saturday I took my bike out for a spin to the turn off up McClean Creek and everything seemed to be working well. Got my stuff turned in, made cioppino for dinner and post-race snack and went to bed. The pre-race cioppino was pre-empted by Liz and her gang who invited us to dinner after our "Ironman Seminar" - a total hoot, but that's another story.

Race day came with calm and cool air. All the pre-race stuff went flawlessly as I stocked my transition bags with fluid bottles, put bottles on my bike, etc. I found a calm place at the edge of the activity and just sat and centered myself. Then a little cat-cow and some yoga stretches to limber up the old bod. Athletes were filtering out to the beach by now so I followed the flow. There was Tom by the dry strip bags and we walked down to the beach together.

I must forget the huge crowd from one year to another but the beach was really covered. My swimming has been really good this year and I felt that a 1:10 was possible so I wanted to avoid as much trashing as possible, just to have open water. However, the crowd to the left looked too thick so I stayed more to the middle and that was a good strategy.

As the start neared I edged out more towards the front and I was able to start swimming immediately and swim all the way to the first turn without getting trashed! Around the first turn I got sucked into a crowd at the first buoy on the second leg and had a bit of a time escaping. Then open water all the way around the second turn and back to the exit.

As I stood up I heard Steve King announce someone in 1:10:50 so I hustled out to try to cross the mat in under 1:12. Not sub-1:10, but still a personal best. Third swim split in AG.

To the wet suit strippers and then out onto the bike and up main street. Start hydrating and eating which I kept up all day. The first 40 miles to Osoyoos are basically flat, with the exception of the McClean Creek climb, so it was only necessary to pay attention to hydration and fueling and not get too out of control in the speed department.

I made a single potty stop on this leg and it was worth it to get off the bike for a minute or so.

Then through the Husky Station and up Richter. Everything seemed to take less time this year. Maybe because I was paying closer attention to my plan to not get dehydrated. Even though we had some wind going up Richter and into the rollers.

But then there was virtually no wind in the section to Cawston and for the out and back! It was heavenly.

At special needs I swapped out my bottle of Perpetuem and guzzled my chocoloate milk. Mmmm, good.

Then up to Yellow Lake which also seemed shorter. I really missed the crowd for the last bit of the climb to Yellow Lake. The RCMP were enforcing a no parking rule and people were parked farther away, closer to the turn off to Apex.

After that the final bit of climbing to Twin Lakes and then down into town. Even with my sense of lessened time on the bike I was still happy to get off. And, I felt great coming into town. First bike split in AG at 6:03:20!

Since my running was so lame my plan was to run 11 minutes, walk 1 minute, and walk all the aid stations. I was determined to get fluids inside me and not fade. After a decent T1, including a pee break, I was out onto the run.

My marathon goal was 5 hours. With my great bike and swim splits I was about 15 minutes ahead of schedule, so a 5:15 marathon would still bring me in at my target finish time. Just a tiny bit into the marathon I felt an incipient giant cramp in my right quad and ended up severely shortening my stride the entire run to keep it in check.

All the way out to the marathon turnaround I was right on target, finishing the first half in pretty close to 2.5 hours. In the majority of this segment one of my AG competitors and I continued to trade leading each other. Going in to OK Falls I saw him just a couple hundred meters away from the turnaround, heading back.

Keeping to my plan I ended up passing him on the long uphill section out of OK Falls. Then somewhere on the way back to town he passed by me again, probably when I took a pee break.

Somewhere around mile 21 the wheels began to come off. My slow run pace slowed even more, I started feeling wobbly and it was a struggle to down the full cup of sport drink that I was taking in at every aid station.

Janet, as usual, was waiting patiently for me out front of our motel and I stopped to give her my waist belt with water bottle so I wouldn't have to carry it the last few hundred meters. Then just a couple of steps as I felt quite wobbly and I stopped, bent over with my hands on knees and vomited copious amounts of Powerade on the street. The next thing I knew two volunteers where over me, one holding each arm and one of them offering me a bottle of water.

I had passed out right there in front of the crowd! Damn that lowered blood pressure.

Janet, of course, was very concerned and was right there as well. The volunteers helped my to my feet and I drank more of the proffered water. I took the water bottle and one of the volunteers jogged along with me to the final finish chute.

Just as I started down the last few tens of meters another AG competitor ran past me, snagging 3rd place. We ended up finishing 19 seconds apart. Run split: 5:45:22.

Ugly! Final time: 13:13:31 with AG 4th.

But the story isn't over yet!

After the catchers walked me around and got me pizza to nibble on all I wanted to do was lie down. I sat in a chair eating the point off my pizza and suddenly it didn't taste so good any more and I pitched it into the garbage. Ever so tired I bent over, elbows on knees and the next thing I know a couple of volunteers are helping me up.

This time I wanted to go to the med tent. We walked there, me staggering, them helping me to stay upright. In the med tent I got to lie down with my feet up and just rest. Oh, was it glorious.

Someone went to get my dry strip clothing and I put on as much warm stuff as I had, but I was still cold. A wonderful volunteer brought me a heat pack and I snuggled down into it.

After a time they had me switch ends on the bed with my head elevated and I sipped a cup of "chicken soup". By that time they were anxious to have me move along so they assigned a volunteer to walk me back to my motel! Wow, I've never had service like that. In the past, I was on my own.

So, we gathered all my stuff and started the journey back. It was great having an escort because we got to cut through the medical/finish area instead of having to go all the way around.

When we got back to the motel, he carried my bike up the stairs for me! Holy, moley, I'll start to expect this.

Janet let us in and we all had a bowl of cioppino before he had to head back over to work for hours more.

Next day I felt quite good. Some soreness and stiffness but nothing more serious than deep hunger. That I dealt with by having 3 breakfasts followed by the awards banquet lunch followed by dinner.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Methow Training Week, Day 6

My last big day and my last road ride.

I wanted to ride back up the Chewuch again but also wanted something a bit different than an out and back. On my last trip I'd started by riding to Twisp, then heading north. Since I'm in Twisp this time, I wanted to avoid highway 20 as much as possible and leave the Winthrop-Twisp eastside road to the end, thus making a loop out of the ride.

A document I found on the web piqued my planning interest. The mention of our "local Alp d'Huez" really got my interest. Nothing like a challenging climb to make me wanta go do it!

I wanted to get at least 60 miles so adding up the various distances (here to Winthrop, Winthrop to Chewuch turnaround, Falls Creek side trip) it looked like I could get it all together.

To get the loop started I headed north on Hwy 20, but took a parallel side road (old Twisp-Winthrop highway?) for a couple of miles. Then I turned off the highway and headed up around Twin Lakes. A nice diversion with a minor climb.

This brought me right down to the bridge at Winthrop.

On through town and north on the East Chewuch Road. This is also the road to Pearygin Lake State Park. All my maps showed East Chewuch Road joining the West Chewuch Road a few miles outside Winthrop but also showed that it continued up the east side of the Chewuch River. I made an on-the-road decision to follow the pavement to its end on the east side. Which it did in just a few miles. However, there is a paved road that goes east and uphill - exploration for another day.

I retraced my route to the bridge, crossed the river, and headed up river on the paved road. This is a very gently rising route with a few very minor hills thrown in so I could cruise along. To my surprise there was practically no car traffic. My experience has been that there would be at least the occastional vehicle, but this was a slow day for cars.




At 30 miles on my trip meter I stopped for a snack and a look at the Chewuch River.





Then back down-river to the Falls Creek road and my big challenge. On the way up I'd passed Falls Creek Campground and a signed trail indicating Falls Creek Falls. Ah, that's why it's named Falls Creek - it has a falls!





But I was too zoned to stop and take a side trip, just wanted to get going uphill.


My directions had said steeper at the start then easing off so I was thinking "Use your triple; spin, spin, spin." It was pretty steep at the beginning, actually for about 1.5 miles and I did use my triple a bit.






Then it just leveled right off and straight across the valley was the falls! After a moment to look and capture photons I was back on my bike and headed uphill, slowly.


Within 100' or so I came to a cattle guard which I walked across. Generally I'll ride them but this one was pretty beat up and I was moving so slowly that I didn't think I'd have sufficient momentum to carry me across.


This "flat" area was very short lived: it merely took me around a corner and over a 1-lane bridge that crossed Falls Creek, then the road kicked back up to triple chain wheel again. By this time I'm doing mental calculations: 4.5 MPH it's gonna take a couple hours to go 8 miles.


Then it eased off to relentless but steady climbing. No triple but no big chainwheel either. Just up and up and up.



From the directions I figured that I'd run out of pavement in 8 miles. However, 8 miles came and no pavement end, so I kept going. Big black clouds were gathering and it was getting cooler as I continued to gain altitude. Finally I just stopped at 9 miles, took a short break, and headed back downhill.




Now I hafta talk about the road itself. Even though paved it's pretty bumpy. There are sections missing along the sides and in some places the undergrowth has come right up to the edge of the pavement filling the ditch with plants. And there are lots of patches: asphalt patches here and there and bigger patched sections of this blackish material with a small layer of loose gravel/sand on top.


And then there are the cow "pies". It looks like a herd of cows with diarrhea have been using the road. No, not nice little piles but long splotted trails of bovine fecal matter. Mostly dry, but the occasional moist one.


So you can see that I really didn't want to go whipping downhill as fast as I could coast. If I did there's a good chance that I'd get my teeth rattled out, hit a chuckhole, and slide downhill through a bunch of cow poop. Not a pleasant image.


So, more mental calculations: 20 mph average downhill is still gonna take me almost a 1/2 hour. That's a long time to be squeezing the brakes. And it was a long time; my hands took turns going numb and I kept shaking them out.


I stopped for one last look at the falls then finished my descent back to the Chewuch River Road. From here it was just keep my head down, keep those pedals spinning, and battle the headwinds back into Winthrop then down the east side road to Twisp.


As I was posting this route on Map My Run, it revealed a posted ride to me that showed the pavement ends at 12 miles up Falls Creek. Ah yes, another time.


Methow Training Week, Day 5

Day 5, it's drawing to an end.

Today is trail running (and swimming, of course). On my last training week here I'd made the mistake of "running" to Slate Lake. Big mistake. The trail goes just about straight up so there was no running. And coming down was so hard on me that I had sore legs for days afterwards.

This time I wanted something more gentle. I knew that the Twisp River Trail (TRT) goes along the valley kind of paralleling the road. I knew that the valley didn't rise too steeply so that seemed like a good option.

The main issue for me was access and where I wanted to be. On my Slate Creek mis-adventure I'd gone on the TRT for a short distance, so I knew it was that far down the valley and that it went both directions. But I wanted to start farther up river to see some new country.

The Forest Service TRT information indicated access at Scatter Creek, so I elected to start there.

My geezer pass was useful as the access point is a fee area. Once again I was convinced that it's the best $10 I ever spent. One advantage of advancing age!

A short spur trail took me right up to the TRT and the intersection for the Scatter Creek Trail. The directions were well-signed so I started out.

This was a classical Eastern Washington drainage bottom: the occasional area with moisture filled with lush growth interspersed with areas of open timber. Since it's still spring like the air was filled with the smells of these plants. Most of the flowers have bloomed and gone down in the valley so the main color is green.

The trail in the first couple of miles is quite technical - narrow with lots of rocks and roots and ups and downs. In the wet places I walked because the growth totally obscured the path and I didn't want to trip on an unseen rock and break something.

After those 2 miles the trail really opened up. At North Creek it came right down to the road and crossed the creek using the road. Then back up into the trees.

From here it was just a short distance to an unsigned fork in the trail. Both looked good so I took the right-hand fork. This started me up a long, long climb towards North Lake along the North Creek drainage. On my way up I met a solo hiker coming down and that was the only person that I saw the whole day.
Without a target location to turn around, I just kept my eye on my watch and turned around in 1:24 (my goal was to run a total of 2:30). This trail was a mix of really good trail (even though relentlessly uphill) and mixed technical terrain. There was even a wild stream crossing at an avalanche slide.

It was a pretty narrow stream but running swiftly down a steep avalanche area. And I didn't want to get my feet wet by wading through. Some kind soul had put a couple of logs across but they were too small and slick to walk on so I crabbed across with my feet on the lower one while using the upper for balance. It worked OK; I just got one foot wet.

The lower log moved around as I walked on it, so when I returned I piled a few rocks around one end to stabilize it a bit more; worked great.

I turned around at 1:24, had an energy bar, and pretty much reversed my trip up to return to the car. Time back was 1:08 so I judged it pretty well for 2:30.

My new Nathan hydration pack is really getting a test on these runs. I love the way it rides on my back and I've had fluids left over after my 2 trail runs here. It's not been hot, but it looks to me as if the capacity would be sufficient for this amount of time in much warmer weather.

Plus, I got to see some great scenery and smell some great smells and hear some wonderful sounds.