Craig Wisner

Archive for October, 2011

The Week

A coyote slinking through the dark-

spooked as I approach, I give a futile chase.

It knows I can’t outrun it; stays comfortably 400 meters ahead, trotting while I’m sprinting, before turning off into the night.

Feet rhythmically crunching dirt, rock, gravel- between breaths in the dark.

No watch, no light, no time, no thoughts.  A crescent moon in a lone cloud.

………………………………………………….

Everything has been going well for base building over the last few weeks.  I’m trying to get back into the steady habit of running, getting out at least 5 days, logging about 30 miles per week.  Keeping the long runs short for now, weeks consisting of a 10-12 mile long run, and 4 ~5mile runs, all on trail (excepting one track workout per week).  The body is no longer in revolt, everything settles in comfortably in the first mile.  Running really stinks when you don’t do it regularly.

Despite my initial optimism, the Inov8s are feeling clunky; I’m a minimalist, keep going back to my NB Minimus Trail (MT10).  Lighter, flatter, sockless, with a more natural strike.  The Inov8s will be good for backpacking and I’m still interested in using them for runs past 20 miles.  Short of that, they’re proving bulkier than what I’m used to.

Plan on holding in the 30-35 MPW range for the next few weeks, letting my joints settle, getting a comfortable base back.  At that point, I’ll start pushing the mileage, especially the long runs.

Mushka has been out with me on every long run…little dog now knocks off 10-12 miles effortlessly.  She sees me putting on running shorts and she goes berserk.  The 13 pound maniac chased a six-point buck up a hillside last weekend, bounding and arcing through grass and brush like a deer herself.

Running for the love of running, leaving the watch at home, logging only approximate miles.  Trying to fend off the drudgery of science, keeping the runs in the realm of art and spirit.  This seems to be where I do best.

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Some new running gear: Shoes, bottles, headlamp

Shoes:

This season I plan on making the running leap from 50K to 50+ mile trail races and solo runs; I’ve been running (short distance) in the New Balance Minimus Trail, which I love for runs under 10-12 miles or less. For longer, I’ve been using the NB MT101. On my last 50K race, I felt the MT101 came up a bit short- while I like relatively minimal, flat, and lightweight shoes, at 25+ miles of running my feet need something with more substance.

Enter Roclite 295…

1

I was REALLY excited to see my local running shop is stocking Inov8s now. I mail ordered some Terrocs many years ago, found them too narrow, but otherwise otherwise loved them. I pretty much wrote off Inov8 after that, not wanting to hassle with mail ordering shoes that I could never try on that seemed to always run narrow.

It looks like a found a good fit; don’t know if they changed their platform or if it’s the model. What blows me away about these shoes (and Inov8 in general): for shoes with really hefty lugs and sturdy construction (toe guard, etc.) they still come in light and flexible.

Ever put on a shoe and immediately know you found a good one?

Things I love about the Roclite so far:
-Roomy toe box. Too many manufacturers make shoes pointy, not allowing for swelling. I was having this problem at 25+ miles with my MT101s…Pinky toes jamming the toebox pretty bad on the downhills.
-The fact that these are roomy when laced loosely will make for a great all-around backpacking shoe, including some general winter stuff: lightweight, fast drying, big lugs, with room to add an NRS Hydroskin sock and thin wool liner.
-The big lugs are going to be great for mountain running as our weather gets sloppy.
-For how beefy these look, they’re actually light, flexible, and responsive feeling. Actually 2 oz. lighter than Brooks Cacadias with less upper foam/material to stay wet.

Bottles:

Camelbak Podium Chill

A simple piece of gear, but I’m really liking these.  They fit in my Ultimate Direction handheld holsters and the valves are the best I’ve used.  Leak free with a high flow when sucking or squeezing, they can also be fully locked shut (nice for throwing them in my duffel for the track).  I haven’t tried using anything cold in them- really don’t care about the insulated feature so far (it’s not summer).  Would like to get a pair of the non-insulated 24 oz.

Headlamp:

Petzl MYO RXP

 

Winter is fast approaching, days are getting shorter, and my children lost my old go-to headlamp (Petzl Tikka+2). While the Myo RXP really wasn’t purchased with general backpacking in mind (I don’t use much light for that, sometimes even leave it at home), it’s mainly going to be my trailrunning/fastpacking lamp. I wanted something brighter than the Tikka, consistent (regulated), with good battery life.

Initial impressions:

I got this in the mail recently and have used it on an 8 mile trail run for about 1.5 hours. This lamp can really light it up, no issue whatsoever running technical singletrack, navigating stream crossings, etc. Seems like a good light for my needs so far. Time will tell after I put it through the paces and try using for 12-14 hours straight (should be very soon).

Certainly not a weight weenie headlamp, though for the power, not too bad either; only twice the weight of a Tikka+2. I was most interested in the fact that it boasts a 23 meter minimum setting with ~95 hours of life. As opposed to the Tikka+2, with a 15 meter economy mode. The Tikka +2 boasts 160 hours in economy, and while that’s probably true, I’ve noticed a pretty serious drop off in output over time. The Petzl site claims output is roughly halved at 30 hours…whereas the Myo RXP has regulated output throughout the majority of battery life.  I like the idea of a regulated light; knowing in advance how many hours of a given level I can expect.

The programmable feature is nice; you can adjust the three preset lighting levels to your needs. One small thing that’s always bugged me about other lights is that the default setting scrolls from brightest to lowest. I don’t like turning on a light and immediately blinding myself and friends, especially when it’s got ~140 lumens. The RXP allowed me to set it in reverse; starting at a low level and getting brighter.

The flip-up diffuser lens will be good for camp/chores/work, while the spotlight is good for running. On higher levels, I’m certain it’s bright enough to MTB by (if not going stupid fast on technical stuff).

Should also mention it’s virtually bounce-free…great for running. Rear battery pack is comfortable. Actually feels far more secure than a Zipka does when running.

Also takes standard, rechargeable, and lithium batteries.

I realize much of what I’m reporting here can be found in the Petzl specs on it…Just wanted to share what (so far) appears to be a good light for fast, all night activities.


Alone on the Sespe, 10/14-15/2011

This was a fast, after work getaway that proved to be just what I needed after what felt like a long, stressful week.  I left work at around 2:15, reached the Piedras Blancas trailhead in Los Padres at around 4:45, and hiked in on the river as far as I could before dark.  Nightfall caught me still walking, but I found a nice anonymous site near the river about an hour after dark.  I probably made it in about 8-9 miles before stopping.

The night was spent in typical Bastard Zen fashion; sitting alone, sipping beer, listening to wind in trees, stirring bare feet in the cool sand.  A few IPAs and a sip or two of scotch later and I found myself contentedly drumming and singing well into the night.

I was peeing in the dark was when I heard it- a horrible, guttural, grunting and screaming drifting up the canyon.  At first I thought it was human…but no human I’ve met makes noises like that.  It was a sort of snarling and barking, followed by screams, almost very ape-like.  Needless to say, it froze me in my tracks, adrenaline shooting down my spine.  I stood in the darkness listening intently; it continued for at least 5-10 minutes and then died down.  It ended all sense of fun pretty quickly.

I was gripped with fear and a pretty strong fight or flight urge; part of me considering wandering down the canyon to confront the source of the noise with my knife and a headlamp, the other half strongly considering an all-out running, midnight escape.  Fortunately,  both urges quickly passed, primarily due to too much drink.   I bought two 22oz. bottles of Ranger IPA, planning on only drinking those…but found that I left a half-full 8oz. flask of scotch in my pack from the last trip…and well… I was able to fairly quickly forget the horrid noises and return to song and drumming before bed.

On my new Exped Synmat UL7 air mattress: I’ve been out with it three nights since getting it this October, every one of them filled with comfort I’ve rarely experienced sleeping on dirt.  Worth every ounce.

I was up well before light, packed and well-coffeed (in a feeble attempt to erase my excesses of the previous night), and on the trail before light.  I ran the majority of the way out.

Crisp, cold morning air, running at sunrise in a sweet valley.  What more can I say?


Rockin' the sunrise!


Children on the River. 10/1/11 and 10/8/11

Two trips in October with my children, taking each out individually for undivided time.  Last weekend was my son’s turn.  It would be his first night sleeping without a tent; he’s old enough to rationalize that nothing will chew his face off now.  We slept beside each other on a bank above the river, awakening to first light glowing along the cliffs across from us.  “Dad, sleeping out is WAY better than being in a tent”.  He rolled over, half inside my bag, head on my arm, we lay there and looked at the branches and sky together before getting out of our bags.  He’s rapidly losing his boyishness, on several occasions I noticed a certain look in in his eyes, a certain posture change; he’s looking confident and independent.

This weekend was my daughter’s turn.  We ended up camping in the exact same spot as where I camped the weekend before.  This trip was colder- no swimming in the river, this time the evening was spent huddled around soup and a small fire.  Orange light flickering off the canyon walls, my mind is drawn far away to the ancients of this land, to ghosts, to how long people must have walked these canyons before us, how long it must have taken this river to carve this channel through the rock.  My daughter was tired early, retiring not long after dark to the tent with the dog, leaving me to finish my bottle of wine alone  in the white-noise silence of the water.  I awaken to her smiling, her copper hair flung about her pillow and face and stuck in the barbs of my beard.  Hot chocolate soon follows, fortified with cookies.  When I take them, they do all of their own menu planning; the pre-trip journey to the market is part of the ritual they enjoy.  Sipping my lapsang tea, watching her dribble cocoa and crumbs on her down jacket in the crisp morning air. Who gives a shit how expensive that jacket was; you’d be a fool to try and stop a kid from being a kid.

Two separate weekends, two different children, walking out, hand in hand, feet wet and cold from river crossing, heads filled with an optimism about our days.