Thursday, August 16, 2007

Nisene Marks

Last Saturday, after a week of no running due to sickness, my wife and I were able to get out for a nice long run at our new favorite place for long runs - The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. It really is a cool place, offering a fair amount of both flat and hilly running - with elevations up to 2,600'! It also offers plenty of trails which allow for runs of 20+ miles. It really felt great to get back out and hit the trail after nothing for 5 days. Being sick really sucks.

The loop I've been doing lately is a little over 18 miles, and climbs roughly 2,500'. A couple of weeks earlier I ran this general route, but tried to take a different trail which would have added some distance, but ended up having to turn around as a section of the trail had been lost to a landslide and it was impossible to go around - up or down. Most of the climbing is within the first 7 or so miles, and then the trail follows along a ridgeline for awhile before dropping back down. At a few places the trail offers some great views of the Aptos/Capitola area of the Monterey Bay as long as it's not foggy. Here is the view:

Kinda hard to see, but the middle stretch of blue is the bay, and right on the edge of it and the green is where Aptos and Capitola are. I really need to get a new camera.

A great couple of mile stretch follows this where the trail winds through some great redwood forest - mostly second growth - and I just love the feel and smell of it. The ground is soft with redwood duff, ferns are scattered here and there, particularly close to anything resembling a regular water source, and there is often a fecund smell that pervades the forest - really any redwood forest - that is intoxicating. Especially in the wetter months. Even living in it I don't tire of the smell, feel, and look of a redwood forest. It really is magnificent.

Back to this past Saturday: I had a cool experience as I made my way up the fire road to the top and the lookout point where the pic above was taken. After rounding a bend, I caught sight of a couple of guys on mountain bikes ahead. Not thinking much of it I just continued with my climb, in my own little world. In a few minutes I realized I was catching up to them, and after two more bends in the road I began a long straight stretch. I kicked it up a little and by the end of the straight stretch I passed them! Now, they certainly weren't in "Tour de France" shape, and were definitely older than me (and I'm no spring chicken) but still, I'll take my little victories where I can get em! ;-)

The really great thing about the run didn't have anything to do with my run, though. It was Lori's (my wife) run. She had struggled for a few months with an ankle injury earlier this year, got back to running a month or so ago and ran a great race at the Wharf-to-Wharf (see my post on it here). She is also getting into trail running as a result of her injury and rehab, and it is great to have her along, even if we don't run much together. Well, after a long business trip and a week of being sick, she ran more than 15 miles in about 2:45 including walk breaks!!! That is the longest she has run at one time, and the longest time she has run! She really rocks and I am so proud of her and happy for her. She was sore for a day or so, but felt pretty good and can't wait to get back this next weekend.

Me too.


Addy said...

wow...after that report, I'm anxious to get out to Nisene Marks myself :) Sounds like an amazing route!

Congratulations to your wife for the awesome run. That's a great time for 15 miles!

Andy B. said...

It really is a good place to run and I highly recommend it.

Lori was really happy with her time, and for running that distance. It was her longest in both distance and time.

She just signed up for the 17k race coming up at Boulder Creek (through PCTR). I'm on the fence about whether to do the 29k or the 50k. I think I'm going to try the 50k - which will be my first Ultra!

KWG said...

I told you I only go 6 miles, mister. No more.

I'm going to have to get Amy back out to Nisene Marks after reading this update. We were thinking about it yesterday, but then decided to go up to Henry Cowell to hike (not run) and take a Highway 9 entrance we hadn't done yet (2 miles north of Ricon).

We ended up going over the train bridge and back around south in the park, going past Big Hole Rock and then down the Diversion Dam Trail to the river.

That's where the "survivor man" show started. Well, not really, but we did cross the river slowly along the rocks (didn't want to backtrack), fought our way through the foliage along the bank, strained to find trail again (got a little worried for a few minutes), found it but headed too far south, and then finally scrambled straight up a mountainside psuedo-trail to the train tracks. From there we headed north again along the tracks until we made it back to the parking area!

No, certainly not survivor man, but an adventure nonetheless...

Addy said...

ooh, you should totally go for the 50k! You could always just not do the last loop if you were really struggling, but I think you could do it and be great :D I have another friend doing it as his first ultra as well, so I think it'd be an awesome decision.

Come on...just do it... ;)

Andy B. said...

Kevin - I can picture you and Amy bushwhacking it up the side of the mountain to get to the train tracks. I've been there many a time on fishing trips to the San Lorenzo in that area and know that climb all too well.

Addy - I really am leaning towards doing the 50k. I know I can do it, but it's just a matter of should I do it now, or train more and not push it. I'm not a fan of this type of decision.