Or how to run across the Sierra Nevada and beat the car!
This summer I thought about the following challenge: I bet that I could cross the Sierra Nevada range running and go faster than a car which would have to drive around it! And I won (kind of)!
I decided that the race would start from Cedar Grove / Road’s End on the west side of the Sierra Nevada and end on the East Side at Onion Valley Campground. By foot (running) it’s a 22 miles trail run (with 7,000 ft of climbing eastbound, less westbound). By car, it’s a 354 miles ride taking 7 hours according to Google maps (not counting pit stops, see the map embedded below). I thought I could beat that both ways so I got started with preparations.
Initially, I was going to have a friend drive me to Kanawyers / Road End and drive to Onion Valley. I wanted to document the adventure as a race against each other. It didn’t work out that way and the alternative was that my family and some friends would go camping at Onion Valley. I would run from Cedar Grove, sleep at Onion Valley one night and run back the next day.
I usually don’t read books about running. A little while ago I had read a book about running by Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running… and I found myself disgusted by his self-importance, exhibitionism and vanity. I never read a Murakami book again! In other words I don’t care why one of my favorite writers ran or had a snotty nose or slept on the right side of the bed. Not interesting. I just like running! However…
Because I run barefoot, I usually end up recommending that people read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall although until recently I never read it. It was something to offer as support for the cause of barefoot and natural running. I never read it because I felt I didn’t have to be convinced of anything while at the same time it was on my reading list… I never got around to it until luckily the book was given to me as a present. It made it to the top of the pile pretty fast: I was very curious about the Tarahumara tribe and the journey of the writer. And a question I had: how can someone write so much about running?
After signing up for the North Face Endurance Challenge San Francisco (50mi) I realized I wanted to also sign up for the Ultra Trail Marathon du Mont-Blanc (100mi) in 2012. While the NFEC is in December 2011 in San Francisco I need to accumulate 5 points to qualify for the UTMB. This means that I need to run (and finish!) the NFEC and probably a 100km run (62mi) or a 100mi run (not quite ready for that yet – UTMB will probably be my first one).
Last year was all Ironman races and marathons. I got a bit bored with that and I find the entrance fees outrageous. Running was my first sport and I felt I needed to focus more on that. I could decide to get under 3 hours at the marathon distance (my PR is 3:07) or I could decide to work on endurance by running ultra distance events. Getting 2:50-something at the marathon requires a lot of speedwork on tracks or on the street. I don’t like that too much and I’m not that interested in speed (as my performance at the last Silverman can show!). I like the outdoors, I like to run and I like to climb mountains too. So working on bigger and further endurance goals seems like the way to go. I’m not that fast (I’m getting older) but I can go for a really long time. I don’t remember being tired after any of my IM races.