I just can’t seem to get enough of Karl Jensen’s Club Fat Ass Flash events, so when he said he was putting together the Pure Foolishness 50k on Saturday as a training run for Western States, I couldn’t resist… even with my mom coming to town to celebrate her 70th birthday. Oops. Sorry Mom.
The route was a modified version of the Pure Satisfaction 50k we ran in December with the promise of more long, steady climbing and descending on the more runnable Old Buck and Bridle Path trails and less of the teeth-rattling, technical hiking terrain I hate so much on the Baden Powell. Even so, we still got a good helping of Baden Powell’s finest roots, rocks and stairs on either end of each 13.5k leg.
It was a chilly morning but Dario and I had good company for the first out-and-back: Mike Palichuk, Ran Katzman, the ageless Jim Swadling, and the tough but charming national 100k team-member, Mel Bos, joined us. After soloing to an early lead, David Crerar dropped back after Indian River Road and then demonstrated that even with the Seymour Grind transformed into an icy death-trap, sticking to the Baden Powell is considerably quicker than the official route as he magically appeared ahead of us on the BP below Hyannis Drive.
Tim joined us at the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge for the return trip dressed as Dieter from Sprockets and quickly showed us on the ascent out of Lynn Canyon the affects of his recent steroid treatment and what it has done for his climbing. No, no, don’t call WADA. Tim had a corticosteroid injection a month ago to reduce swelling in one of the five herniated discs in his lower back as a last-ditch attempt to get him back on track for Western States. Or so he says… Dancing like a young Lance Armstong up Alpe d’Huez, Tim schooled me on the Old Buck climb later as well, something he won’t soon let me forget.
Speaking of injections, my hip started to ache on the return leg of the first out-and-back and only got worse. It had been feeling pretty good since my Western States training began in earnest on December 4 until fairly recently. I’m hoping it’s merely coincidental and that I might have pulled something doing speedwork on the track, but my last Durolane injection was exactly six months earlier and six months is about how long each shot is supposed to last. My fingers are crossed that this improves on its own because I can’t afford another dose.
Snowflakes started falling and the group thinned out after our halfway stop back at Deep Cove. Mel left, Tim and Jim took off before me, and Mike, Ran and Dario hung back leaving me to run most of the second half alone. I caught up to Tim and Jim at Indian River Road and ran with them until we crossed paths with Karl and John Machray who wanted to chat and find out how Tim’s back was doing. Our ten-minute pit-stop at Deep Cove showed me my hip was in no mood for standing around, so I did a light jog until I realized Tim was giving the guys his full medical history.
The trail had a light dusting of snow by this point which helpfully revealed the preferred lines most of the mountainbikers had taken along Bridle Path, but also camouflaged the patches of ice which lay like land mines along the Baden Powell around Hyannis.
After a very short stop at the suspension bridge to fill my bottle and down a bag of Gu Chomps, I headed back toward Deep Cove. After crossing the bridge, I saw Tim finishing up his out-and-back and looking pretty good despite it being his longest run in months. Five or ten minutes later I saw Mike and Ran who said Jim had turned back and sounded undecided about making the return trip themselves. There was no sign of Dario who has a short but recent history of getting lost on the North Shore. Crap. After a few miles I started looking for footprints in the snow and found what I presumed were Jim’s Montrails heading eastward toward Deep Cove, but there was no sign of Dario’s Cascadias. I lost all footprints when I hit Bridle Path and really started to worry, imagining Jim and Dario lost in the snow, huddled together for warmth until a television news crew discovered them. For miles there was nothing but the ribbons of mountain bike tires guiding me back to Old Buck.
I really needed a human kick in the ass along Bridle Path but all I had was my last bag of Honey Stinger chews. I forced myself to “run” the entire stretch of Old Buck up to the Baden Powell — a small moral victory —from which point it was all downhill. Literally, not figuratively. Mostly. My hip had settled into a manageable funk and I did what I could not to take any serious spills on the sharp, freshly-blanketed drops which eventually spit us out of the trees and onto the pavement at Deep Cove.
I eventually spotted Dario’s footprints in the snow on the lower section below Indian River Road. They were pointed in the right direction and looked fairly fresh. Whew! My head was a little fried as I did the countdown of the eight bridges over the last few miles of the Baden Powell. I managed to descend the final rocky, rooty drop to asphalt without too much trouble and even found a little juice left to sprint to the fire hydrant at the now snowy Panorama Park where I was greeted by a “frezzing” Dario who turned around after banging his quad and had been keeping warm in the washrooms awaiting my return.
Deep Cove to Lynn Canyon 1 — 1:40:22 (4:38)
Lynn Canyon to Deep Cove 1 — 1:30:36 (10:57)
Deep Cove to Lynn Canyon 2 — 1:40:50 (1:26)
Lynn Canyon to Deep Cove 2 — 1:43:38
Total time for 54k: 6:52:29
AMAZING DISCOVERY! I ummm… could feel the slight burn of chafing on my inner right thigh by the time we reached the halfway point in Deep Cove. I’d forgotten to bring Body Glide and asked Mike if he had any. He didn’t but he did have some Udderly Smooth Udder Cream. I first heard of the stuff when I received some sample-sized packets at the Seattle Marathon in 2004 or 2005. It never would have occurred to me to use it in place of Body Glide, but Mike swore by the stuff and frankly, at that point I was a little desperate. It worked! No more chafe burn the rest of the run, no sudden surprises as the water hit raw skin in the shower afterwards, and not even any redness the next day to remind me over my oversight. I’m going to have to pack some Udder Cream for Western States. Thanks Mike!