Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mt Timpanogos Run

I've been planning for a while to do a night run so that I could prepare for pacing next week at the Wasatch 100, but I was uncertain of what I wanted to do. Then it occurred to me to try 'double-up' of Mt Timpanogos, a 14 mile round-trip run with 8700 ft of elevation gain and loss. It is an extremely rocky and technical trail, but most of it is quite runnable. Doing it twice would be a great accomplishment for me and another ultra notch on my belt of growing achievements. However, as a result of running Quest for Kings a week and a half ago I have developed Cuboid Syndrome in my left foot from all of the pounding on technical trails and it is extremely painful. I thought I had it pretty well healed up, but Monday I did a road run with the last to miles in my Vibram Five Fingers. Those two miles completely inflamed the injury again making my double-up attempt doubtful. Over the course of the 24 hours from when I re-injured my foot I went back and forth too many times to count on whether I would try the double-up, not try it, only do a single summit, run a different trail, and not run at all. It wasn't until 5pm yesterday when I finally decided to just head up to Timp and give it a single go, post-poning a double-up attempt for a time when I am 100% and have a better pair of shoes (the shoes I ran in last night are well worn and are racing flats, not great for me at distances above 15 miles). So I rallied my compadre Scott once again for some silly adventure. The plan was to run it super easy and if I felt significant pain I would cruise to a walk. The goal was two fold; get some good night time running in and finish. Simple.

I met Scott in Alpine and we drove his car up to the Timpooneke trailhead. We intended to start running around 10pm, but were slightly delayed and didn't hit the trail till just after 10:30pm. There was only one other car in the parking lot. We started off at a super easy pace and were able to maintain it for a long time before we felt the need to power hike anything. We were a few minutes behind my last time up there when we got to Scout Falls, but it is what I expected and I felt fantastic and knew that this was the perfect pace for this run. Not long after Scout Falls we came across two women who were hiking up into the Emerald Lake area. One had a pair of skis strapped to her back. They were obviously going to camp, summit, and then the one was going to ski the glacier. Awesome. We made pleasantries and continued on at a great pace up into the lower cirque. At this easier pace  I was able to run more sections than ever before, something I'll remember on future attempts. My goal was to simply hit the summit in under 2:30:00. We crested the lower cirque into the upper at almost 1:24:00 and continued smoothly up to the switchbacks. Scott took a digger on a rock which slowed him down for a minute, but he recovered well. I had been keeping a very sharp eye on the clock and when I should be eating and it really paid off. I used First Endurance EFS gel and the pay-off was HUGE. I had tons of energy on the whole run. I swear that stuff is like rocket fuel. I took some of the short-cuts up through the switchbacks in the main cirque, but it still felt really long, longer than normal. I tried to push to the saddle quicker, but that just made Scott fall behind. I waited at the saddle and then we both pushed through easy to the top. I ended up hitting the summit at 2:15:00 and Scott got there about 5 minutes later. It was super cold, but such a beautiful night over-looking the valley. It was a real joy to be up there in the middle of the night alone in that place. I sure do love that mountain.

We didn't stay long, it was just too cold. We both had on pants and a long-sleeved shirt. I also had on gloves, but my hands were still cold. The temps had to be in the 30s with a 20+ mile an hour wind. Chilly. I still felt awesome and my left foot wasn't hurting too bad so I was able to keep a good pace going down the scree back to the gap. I opened up a sizable lead on Scott who was taking it much slower on the technical terrain. I waited behind a wind sheer at the gap and then we made our way back to the saddle. By now we were well behind my pace from when I did it in July, but we were still on target to hit the bottom in under or around 4 hours. Working back down through the cirque went slower than I had hoped and we only managed to get back to the Emerald Lake turn-off at exactly 3 hours. That left one hour to get to the bottom, very doable. We tried to keep a decent pace, but Scott was having trouble seeing the rocks with his lite, so I gave him an extra I had. It seemed to help a little, but still couldn't stop him from taking a fall down near Scout Falls. It was a hard hit and really shook him up. He recovered after a couple of minutes and I put him in front to try and give him some extra light with me running behind. I think it helped because his pace picked up considerably. We hit the bottom at 4:18:34 by my clock and 4:30:00ish by his (I stopped mine at the top and saddle waiting for him), a little slower than I had hoped, but still respectable and I think really good for Scott's first time running that mountain and in the dark. It was a lot of fun. I didn't get home till about 4am, quickly jumped into bed, and got 3 solid hours of sleep before having to get up for work. Yeesh, what a night.

Location Split Time   Total Time
Scout Falls 21:54 21:54
Emerald Lake Sign 1:03:07 1:24:01
Saddle Up 28:33 1:52:34
Summit 24:14 2:15:40
Saddle Down 18:39 2:34:20
Emerald Lake Sign 26:35 3:00:55
Scout Falls 57:58 3:58:01
Total 20:32 4:18:34

Some things I learned from this trip:
1. My shoes have been a major contributor to my foot injury. I'm certain I ran my Inov-8s about 100 miles past when I should have retired them. They got soft and unsupportive while I was still running very technical trails. Likewise, because I am a mid-foot striker the chunky soles on my Crosslites began to wear down heavily on the outside of the sole, but not on the inside (the natural way of rolling from the outside of the foot to the inside - pronation). Therefore, it was causing an uneven landing surface and forcing more weight onto the outside of my foot or Cuboid bone. New shoes have been ordered!
2. Maintaining good energy is essential. And not just maintaining good energy but utilizing a product that works well for me. I am fully committed to First Endurance products. They are amazing. I strive to ingest about 300 - 350 calories an hour and it works great for me.
3. Could I do a Timp double-up? Absolutely. In different shoes with a healthy foot I could have done it last night. I felt great at the finish and I feel good now. In fact, I think I'll go out for a run. Have a great day.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Nicely done! Glad the foot held up alright. That EFS is some good stuff indeed, glad its working for you. As you know, I can't say enough good about it either.