Last 2 weeks have been pretty light as I expected.
The Mount Olympus run to the summit a a week and a half ago was significantly harder than I thought I would be (the last 1.25 miles apparently has an incredible 2300' of pure gain) so I just did the one climb on Sunday. The whole thing was about a 7 mile round trip, but since it was on such horribly steep and technical hills, running nearly the entire thing still gave me about a 20:00/mile climb for the 3.5 miles up. I did the easiest portion (first 2 miles, with only 1500' of gain or so) in under 30:00, though when I say easiest, that means that a 14:xx/mile pace put my heart rate at a 180 average. After 2.25 or so, the trail quickly steepened and I had to take my first walking break after 2.3 or 2.4 miles and 1800' of climbing when I came to a slippery rock slide at about a 40% grade, that when run on, would cause me to slip and slide backwards. After I walked that, I got to some more runnable portions, but soon ended up in a huge boulder section where each step would require a several foot climb, so I had to hike my way through that part as well, which lasted a surprisingly long time and dropped my pace to something ridiculous like 50:00/mile for a little bit. After I finally finished with that section, I got to run some more on a horribly steep and technical portion on which my pace was like 25:00/mile while RUNNING (partly due to the intense difficulty, partly due to my fatigue from not knowing how bad the last bit was and going out too hard). Basically, it took everything I had to even run to the saddle at that point, at which point I got to run a little more and then scramble until I got to about 100 or 200' from the top, at which point, I decided to skip the last super steep scrambling section (it looked really dangerous) and turn around. I took the downhill really easy to recover and still had to walk through the boulder sections and rockslide, which were apparently totally unrunnable in either direction. All in all, this was a great run and I'm going to have to do it again and try to go for a faster time by not starting out so fast.
Other than that run, I've had about 45-50 mountain miles/week (according to a new system I've developed in conjunction with the Daniels Method of logging mileage via a point system, this would correlate to roughly a similar effort of 70-80 miles/week on flat at sea level) over the last 2 weeks, so while it sounds low, it's actually not bad training.
Most importantly in this post, I'm now being coached by fellow Salt Lake City runner Karl Meltzer. Karl holds the world records for both most 100 mile wins in one year (6, back in 2006 or 2007) and most 100 mile wins in general (26). He has also set course records at races such as Hardrock 100, San Diego 100, Wasatch Front 100. Karl is most distinctive on incredibly difficult courses and has 6 wins at Wasatch Front and 4 at Hardrock, probably the 2 hardest 100s in the continental US and on top of that, he knows what it takes to maintain good footspeed while training for long runs (he was dropping 10ks minutes faster than me at my current age), so while he only really does 100 milers seriously right now, I feel that Karl will still help me to develop the whole package with my running.
I went running with Karl for the first time today and we did a nice 12.3 mile jaunt through a moderate-difficulty - but very high elevation trail - going from 7600' at Mill Creek all the way up to the peak of the Canyons ski resort at 9700' with some downhills along the climb to be made up for and then a nice gradual descent back to 7600' (haven't looked at my GPS statistics yet, but it was easily over 3000' of gain). Most of my runs tend to peak around 7000' and I've only been above 7200' a couple of times this summer, my max being almost 9000' at Olympus, so when I started to get above 9000' or so, breathing became extremely difficult and the effort level felt incredibly strenuous even on a flat, so I was pretty glad to finally hit the peak after 70+ minutes and 6.2 miles of pretty high intensity. We ended up doing the 12.3 in 1:58, which correlates to 9:35s, which probably sounds ridiculously slow for all you road guys, but I actually considered this to be an extremely good trainer for the upcoming St George Marathon in October. Effort level wise, I felt like I did the 2 hours at an average intensity not too far off from how I race in a marathon (though the marathon is typically run at one pretty constant intensity and this was basically all over the place). Since we were done after 2 hours, I was just slightly sore after we finished but am better already now, later in the day, so this run won't affect my ability to perform this weekend at Cascade Crest. Oh, and, Karl said he probably would typically do this run in 2:05 or 2:10, so I guess having a young gun there breathing down his neck the whole way made him have to push a little harder. :)
One other quick thing... I raced some small little 10k on Saturday. I got a free entry and the prize was $100, so I had no reason not to do it. Unfortunately, a few other fast guys wanted the money so I ended up getting 2nd. The course was really tough (out and back with a 2% grade average uphill first half that was fairly rolling and just not fast at all). My first half was an unbelievably slow 19:00 or so and my second half was a fairly lazy 17:50. I led for the first mile (which according to the course markers I ran in 5:19), but according to my watch, I was only at .9 and by the mile 2 mark, the course was back to 1.99, so they obviously just put it in the wrong place. The guy who eventually won passed me with a lot of gusto after a mile and just opened up a lead from there. I don't know why he started so slowly, but I remember looking back around a half mile and not seeing anyone within 150 or 200 feet. Apparently, something clicked though, and he just sped up a lot and had about 45 seconds on me by the half. Since it was an out and back, we passed each other and he looked really smooth and I knew he wasn't catchable, so I just got somewhat lazy in the 2nd half and didn't run as fast as would've been possible. In all, since I made sure not to go out super hard and die in the 2nd half, my heart rate just averaged 182. My tempo workouts are run at somewhere around 178 or 179 if I'm really running it perfectly, so it was basically just an ever-so-slightly harder than normal tempo run as far as my body was concerned, which is definitely good to have done. Anyway, I finished a minute or so back in 2nd in 36:50 with a pretty big margin over 3rd (like 2 minutes I think) and got nothing but a medal that says "2nd place" and doesn't even list the race or anything. haha...
I'm taking the last 2 days before Cascade Crest completely off, despite already feeling well rested. There's not really anything I would be able to do at this point that would help my race on Saturday. The work is already done and I think I'm ready to run a good race. My body is pretty healthy, I've strongly improved my hill running abilities, I'm well-acclimated at elevations exceeding the highest point of the course, and my nutritional strategies and general racing tactics have significantly improved since my last 100. My last 2 50s have been much more consistent throughout the race than my last 50 prior to my last 100 and I also got to run a not insignificant 62 miles as a pacer at Badwater, so I think I'm pretty well prepped. While my overall mileage leading up isn't as high as it has been in the past, I've been running for a longer amount of time on a daily basis at a similar or higher effort to what I'd have been running at on roads and "trails" (if I can even call them that anymore after experiencing a summer of running in Salt Lake City), in Baltimore, so in reality, I've done the equivalent of higher mileage training than what I've done in the past. Since Cascade Crest is such a difficult race (course record is about 20 hours), my #1 goal is just going to be to finish without hurting myself, though I think with my strong performance at the very tough Mt Disappointment 50, despite going in with a painful sprained ankle, and my solid training in general, I think sub-24 is doable and I have this idea of beating my 100 mile PR (despite the course being MANY hours slower from either of my other 100s) in the back of my mind. Who knows... Breaking my PR would require a nearly perfect race, so we'll see if I can manage to put the pieces together with effort levels/pacing and nutrition this time. I think I can.