Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tapering Desert Style

It's amazing what a big blue sky and bright rays of sunshine can do for a person's perspective, motivation and attitude.  Carter and I came down to my parents place in Palm Springs last Monday for some quality family/vacation time.  Since we got here I have ran or hiked everyday but one.  Although I am suppose to be on my 'taper' for Chuckanut it is really hard to rest up.  Not because I don't like rest or because I have a hard time taking it.  It's hard because I wake up every morning and the first thing I see out the window is the Sun shining on the San Jacinto Mountains.  My parents place is less than 2km to the base of the mountain and many trail heads.  Also because I have time to train.  No work.  No distractions.  I can get up, go for a run or hike and be back by the time the rest of my family is having breakfast and still spend the remainder of the day hanging out with them.  And let's face it - I visit Palm Springs once per year and I want to make the most out of it.  I fear I just may pay for it at Chuckanut this year though.  I averaged 55-70km per week leading into my taper so another 60km week isn't exactly productive taper material...

The first morning I ran up the North Lykken Trail and was out for just over an hour.  This trail is also known as the Cactus to Clouds trail and if you had the time and energy it would take you all the way to the Palm Springs Areal Tram at over 9,000 feet.  Trent and I hope to do this together one year...
Most people know I am not a fan of road running, but down here you run past palm trees, orange trees and it is really beautiful to run on the bike routes that take you in and out of communities and around golf courses.  So I also did 3 road runs this week.
My Dad, Carter and I went up North Lykken trail one morning together for about 1.5hrs and had a great time playing the alphabet game and having a snack at a nice view point.  Then we went out to Painted Canyons for a 3hr hike with Mary's brother David and Sister'n'law Susan.  They were great trail leaders and company!  The route was really cool as we navigated through tight canyons that twisted and had ladders we had to go up and down.  It eventually climbed up to a nice vista with views of the Salton Sea before descending back down and we got to wind our ways back out on a different route through the 'painted canyons'.

I also did a run on the South Lykken Trail.  This is a rough, rocky trail with technical and steep terrain.  This is one of my favorites as the climb is steep and the switchbacks offer views at every corner.  Just past the summit, you run along this narrow single track where gecko's scurry in front of you on the trail and you basically have a birds eye view of the whole Palm Springs area as far as the eye can see! 

Tampering with my taper plans also brought on a cold on Friday.  So I decided to shut it down yesterday and just have a rest day.  It is still hanging on... so I am committed to resting again today to try to get over it before the race this Saturday.  It is difficult though because I only have 3 more days left to embrace the warm rays, free time and variety in the trail options before I am back home and into my 'routine'.

Despite feeling under the weather, I am very excited to meet all my athletes in Bellingham on Friday and even more excited to be part of their journey towards this race.  Most of them will be doing their first ultra this weekend and I feel fortunate for the opportunity to have influenced their training plans and helping them prepare.  We have a fit crew and everyone is ready!  I am also feeling motivated and proud of Maria, Neil and Tammy for their performances at Dirty Duo last weekend.  It was a pleasure to coach these three amazing, positive and talented runners this winter.  And I so appreciate the feedback on how effective their training plans were and how I enhanced their races.  It feels good and very rewarding as a coach to see your athletes so happy and successful! 

4 sleeps till the 'Nut'... I can only hope that the other 16 athletes racing this weekend feel as good and have as positive experience as the Dirty Duo gang!

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