Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Photo Biathlon and November's Running Times

To anyone who frequents Run Junkie, it's apparent - perhaps painfully so - that I enjoy taking photos on my long runs.  I have little actual technical ability, mind you.  I'm all point and shoot, but I do what I can to try to capture some of those great moments on the trail we all experience - even if it means taking 130 bad photos to get 3 decent ones.

Perhaps the best way to characterize what I do is "photo biathlon," since for the most part the shutter falls either while I'm actually running, or when I've quickly stopped but my heart is still racing.  What I like most about this distinction is that it seems to absolve me a bit when my photos lack the niceties of great trail photography - like framing, lighting, and...focus.

Still, I continue to click away, addicted sometimes as much to capturing images on the run as actually running - a sad state my training buddies will attest to.  But at times it pays off with some memorable frames, like these samples from the summer:  near the top of Johnstone Pass, at Pioneer Cabin, and looking down on Twin Lakes.

Running Times recently did nothing to curb my enthusiasm when they ran a photo I took during last fall's Trail Creek 12k in Sun Valley for their November photo essay, The Wide World of Racing, which focused on the crush of races that always fall between the last weekend in October and first weekend in November.

Sure, it's not a perfect photo, but I still recall how hard I was breathing when I took it, trying to catch up to Medusa & friends as they made their way up the Proctor draw - and all while dressed as a shirtless Tarzan on a 28 degree morning.

Score one for photo biathlon.
Running Times - Nov 2011
Original: Medusa & Friends at the 2010 Trail Creek 12k, Oct 30

Sunday, October 23, 2011

2011 Foothills 50K Frenzy

Brad Mitchell (Scott) and Joelle Vaught (Montrail) took the top men's and women's spots, respectively, in Saturday's inaugural Foothills 50k Frenzy in Boise.  Mitchell covered the challenging (6,000 ft of vert), largely singletrack course though the Boise foothills in a quick 4:13, with Vaught coming home in 4:32 to also claim second overall.  Vaught kept Mitchell in her sights through the mile 14 turnaround on Ridge Road, but by the mile 18 Orchard Canyon aid station, he was able to gain some separation - and a couple broken ribs from a hard tumble - and hold his lead through to the finish.  Full results.

For me, the race was a bit of a triumph, as it marked my return (if just) to ultrarunning following a two year hiatus after a rough fall on my knee just before Wasatch in 2009.  To be honest, I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to toe the line again at marathon-distance, let alone anything beyond. But, as my injury was kept at bay by a very conservative approach this season, I was able to stitch together just enough long-run miles to make a hard 50k both possible and enjoyable.  And that's exactly how it turned out.  It wasn't a barn burner, but I was able to come through the finish feeling strong in 18th (5:23).

Though the Frenzy was a first year event, it came off with the clockwork precision that many seasoned races could only hope to have, and it's a great addition to the fall racing schedule in the west.

Some photos:
6:00 am start.
First 90 minutes or so via headlamp on pretty buffed out trail.

The Run Junkie at the high point - Ridge Road turnaround.
Descending Ridge Road, making the way toward top of Robie Creek.

Idaho traffic jam.
Hard to beat open country in the last third of race.
Joelle Vaught - First (2nd overall).
Brad Mitchell - First Overall.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Autumn Short List: Adams Gulch Big Loop

Hard to believe it's come to this:  whittling down the list of envisioned long runs to those select few you have a realistic chance of getting in before the snow falls. No matter that it happens like clockwork every year, it's always disappointing to have to table those great plans until coming seasons.

One run that made the short list in these closing days - and one that got pushed off the list last year - was a trip around the Adams Gulch big loop in Sun Valley.  One of my favorite runs in the area, I love how the route quickly leaves the populated lower gulch trails for the solace of true backcountry, with soft singletrack and great views of the Boulders and Pioneers.

A quick photo tour from yesterday's outing with Brad and Tizz.
On the Connector between Adams Gulch and Harpers.  Dry grass.  New snow up high.  Autumn.
One of many great overlooks.  Trying to figure out exactly how we got here.
Evergreen holding court, as Brad passes through.
Curvature: Cruising the ridge, not too far from the top of the climb.
Things are looking up... this.
Long shadows on new snow in the Castle Rock burn.
Tizz questioning my nutrition choices.
Where's mom?  We kept on the move.
Coming off Lanes trail.  Fall in full swing.
Back to the now-full trailhead.