About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I spend countless hours running in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I call it "going to church". I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Countdown to the Jemez 50

50 miles, 12,000 ft of elevation gain, three mountains that rise well above 10,000 feet. That sums up the course I will be running in one month. The Jemez Mountain Trail Runs are on Saturday, 22 May in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The course is run through some of the most spectacular scenery in the southwest including the Valles Caldera National Preserve, a collapsed volcanic crater. (click for sat images of the caldera)

This new type of public land is managed like no other national park or forest. A limited number of visitors pay as they go for activities like hunting, fishing, skiing, snowshoeing, and more. They even have a marathon in the caldera on Jun 12th, 2010. The beauty of this type of management is that crowds are reduced so visitors can have more of a wilderness experience. I’m very excited that part of the Jemez course runs through a portion of the Valles Caldera.

On this challenging course, to quote the race organizers, runners “…will experience high altitude…,scree fields, stream crossings, fallen trees, and other obstacles.” Having read a Jemez 50K finisher's blog, Running and Travels, I know that one of the “other obstacles” is a ladder that climbs to the top of a dam. I have also been studying the course maps and profile to devise a sensible race strategy. My friends at Endurance Buzz have put together detailed information on each climb and descent to include mileage and grade of each section. The longest climb is 2700 feet in 5.5 miles up Pajarito Mountain and the steepest grade is over 18%.

To get ready for my upcoming adventure I’m heading out for a 40 miler this morning (17 Apr 2010). I start at 5:00am and head down mountain to the Rio Grande levee trail. The forecast is calling for scattered showers today. It’s dark when I head out so I don my headlamp. Soon I pass the wildlife rehab center where I have been volunteering. The Chihuahuan Desert Wildlife Rescue takes care of injured and orphaned birds and nurses them back to health for eventual release back into the wild.

When I reach the levee trail the sun is finally rising, but I am still not awake yet. I have been drinking Hammer Perpetuem with 25 mg of caffeine to try to get my body going. The clouds over the mountains look extremely ominous, but the sky is very beautiful. I run the trail and then head back up hill where I stop off at a quicky mart for some more water. Eventually I start to wake up. I think the Perpetuem is starting to work. I make it home to complete the first leg of my day. 15 miles down.

Now it’s time to take Lucy, Sierra, and Taz for their morning five mile jaunt. They are excited to get out for a bit and we have a nice time bonding. When we return, our running crew chief has prepared breakfast burritos, so I wolf one down and change into my trail shoes and gaiters. I drive five minutes up the mountain to a trail head where I start my next 20 miles of running towards N. Franklin Peak, my goal.

When I get out of the car the wind is blowing fiercely chilling me to the bone, but I decide to gut it out and start running towards the peak anyway. I run up and down some rolling single track for an hour and arrive at Smugglers Gap. When I crest the hill and turn onto a road to descend, the wind almost knocks me down. As I run down the highway the gusts keep pushing me into the guardrail. I guess that is better than into the road with oncoming traffic.

At this point I decide to abort my plans for summiting the peak and instead proceed downhill to the valley where the wind will be much calmer. The wind slows the lower I go and the temperature rises. Finally I hit another trail where I run through the desert and back to my house for some food and fluids. I have completed about 32 miles so far. I rehydrate and fill another water bottle and off I go to complete another 6-8 miles. I cruise around my neighborhood for a while and start to overheat. I cannot believe the temperature extremes I have been through today. I run back up to the trailhead where I left my car and the wind is still blowing.

After driving home and consulting  GMaps Pedometer I have calculated today’s adventure at 38.3 miles; just a little shy of my goal. Look for a full Jemez Mountain race report next month. See you on the trail.

The windy view from the base of S. Franklin peak

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