The Burdo Zone


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Getting Away With It

The two most basic training variables are power/speed (fast-twitch) and endurance (slow-twitch). Most of us dwell in the area in-between most of the time, with some combination of the two being employed for races of 2-60 min. duration, or of climbs that are more than 10 moves but are somewhat challenging. In order to avoid stagnation and to keep tabs on your current fitness status, it is good to have "go to" sessions for both elements. For instance, while I am working longer routes, I try to get in a bouldering session at least once a week on a standard circuit. This does little more than maintain a base level of power, but in the fall, when days are short and cool, I will have some framework on which to build fitness for 5.12 and 5.13 projects.

As far as the "Yin for the Yang" for my running fitness, this summer, I have been doing many longer approaches of hiking and scrambling, which keeps me aerobically fit (car-to-summit of South Early Winter Spire in 92 min. with a 35-lb pack... woot), but translates maybe 60% to my running. Consequently, I do a maintenance session of short speed work each week (see "Ghost Running") to keep the leg turnover in some kind of trim for more serious running this fall/winter.

It is testament to the decent climbing weather in Mazama this summer that my endurance running session, a long run, has been seriously neglected, since I typically need 2-3 days of recovery from hiking to make it happen. So yesterday, after a solid day of rain and several days "off" from serious hiking while shooting photos and sport climbing, I made the running trek up to Deadhorse Point on the Hart's Pass road, a round trip of almost two hours and 14 miles. For perspective, I haven't run longer than 6 miles at a time for over two months. So my challenge was to see if all that grunting of gear up to the Spires has been sufficient to allow me a decent, if slow, overdistance run. Ideally, I should be doing a run of at least 80-90 min. at least once a month, just for maintenance. Otherwise, I will have to make a longer transition back to a full running schedule when the time comes, not always a fun process, and one which can carry a heightened risk of injury.

The verdict: yes, I haven't COMPLETELY morphed into a pack mule, though I am far from impala-like. Combining several hours/day of hiking and scrambling with weekly running speed sessions has been enough to keep the running animal decently together.

A key element in making this a reasonably fun run was the following tune coming on to my Shuffle player at 90 minutes:

The Take Away: if you are training two or more sports in the course of the year, tag the power/speed component of your "off" season sport at least once every 1-2 weeks, and the endurance component at least every 2-4 weeks depending on what other cross-training you are doing. I was able to stretch the latter quite a bit this season, but after a few decades of doing this I can break the "rules" *very* carefully, like a chef can substitute spices and keep the overall flavor.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ghost Running

A deeply enveloping gauze of dampness has taken the night, and only a glimmer of moonlight reflects off the road, the bridge and the river as I run my sprint repeats. Where a week ago the bright sun and tiny bugs above the bridge collided with my body, tonight there is a sense of no sense, a deprivation chamber in which my strides are suspended, my body ethereal and the effort pure. I stop and massage out a glitch in my left hamstring, and the resulting smoothed rhythm within my legs flows near effortlessly, driven by the audio accompaniment of Creedence, Hilltop Hoods and The Chemical Brothers.

At one point a trick of the light creates a mass in front of me. I veer for the apparition, but don't break stride. When a car rounds the bend, it's headlights pop the surface of the pavement into sharp focus, and I nearly stumble with the disorienting input. Back into the dark ether, and I am ecstatic, the final hill receding under the reborn power of my legs. My reward is a bathing flood of internal chemicals, familiar yet fresh, telling me that everything is healthy and right, and I turn to jog the easy 1/2 mile back to the tiny light of the front porch.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Exceptional: Rudisha

David Rudisha, the man featured in the first 33 seconds of the linked video, is one of the greatest athletes in the world that you have never heard of. Today he will challenge the venerable 800m world record, a time he has run within a few steps of already this season, in a major track meet in Berlin. To do so, he will probably have to run nearly half a mile in a scintillating 1:40, which is a near-sprint pace for even the world's best. He recently dominated the African Championships in Nairobi, and the towering Maasai Kenyan, at 6'2" at least half a foot taller than most top Kenyan distance runners, carries a quiet dignity in interviews that conceals the ferocity of his exploits on the track. Whether he gets the record today or not, he will go down in history as a supreme example of athleticism in it's finest guise- a serene demeanor with a powerful gift.

Update: a scant few hours after my above post, Rudisha took down the record in beautiful run:

He is only the third record-holder in this event in 29 years!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tick Tock

5:26 A.M. Turn off the alarm before it goes off- the dawn and the work to be done have brought me to my feet, beginning the process of launching a new summer's day.
6:47 A.M. Goodbyes to Jenn, Tim and Frankie, who will be climbing at Amazonia today, hours to the South. I grab my Camelback (Margarita mix, salt and Stevia), and the freshly charged DeWalt battery and trundle off in the White Rhino.
7:4 A.M. Of course Ed is waiting at the pullout. Ed gets things done, but with an ease and delight of that those who know of their good fortune to be alive and living fully in the here-and-now. I am happy and grateful to have his company today.
8:22 A.M. On lead, I carefully work the 5.8 crux of the third pitch (the "blocky arete") of Prime Rib, encumbered as I am with my hiking boots with a pack carrying 436 feet of static cord, purchased 36 hours ago from Ben G. . It carried no luck for him on the Salathe'; perhaps it's new home will fulfill it's purpose.
8:51 A.M. The Red Rib. Is there a more delightful 5.8 pitch anywhere? Probably so, but I will take this kind of excellence wherever it presents itself.
9:35 A.M. The Boulder Problem pitch has given me pause. Under these circumstances, 5.9 feels fully like 11b. With care I finally commit, and the move is behind me; above, glorious nubbly rock rewards my effort.
10:48 A.M. The anxiety about connecting from Prime Rib over to the top of our objective becomes a matter of a crucial reality: can Ed traverse the head of the gully, which features a 45-degree slope of mud, while wearing rock shoes and carrying a full pack? Years of Cascade groveling pay off, he gets it done and we are freed to emerge out on to the peninsula at the top of this massive rock tower, with thousands of feet of void below our feet. We relish the warmth of the summer mid-day in the shade of the pines before running a bowline around one of them, and launching out over the overhanging face.
12:10 P.M. I am doing a frenzied tapdance at a ledge at the crest of the wall, featuring a large pine and about 10,000 angry red ants. I realize that I have anchored too far East on the summit, and must do a makeshift re-ascent with GriGri and ascender, while swatting vengeful insects from my legs.
1:25 P.M. Finally, the years of scouting, photographing, examining and speculating give way to the tangible reality: 600 feet of pristine, gorgeously sculpted rock pass before me as I descend the vertical and overhanging wall. The Future slides into The Now, and it is beautiful, evanescent even. Our ropes now in place, The Project begins in it's physical form.
2:57 P.M. We linger in the heat of mid-day at the most air-conditioned spot for miles around, in the shade of a massive fir bordering the ascending canyon with it's cool falls and cascades.
4:05P.M. We scree-ski back to the cars, turning to see our nylon trail in it's new place 2000 feet above us.
Here we meet Matt and Bram from Seattle, who are re-organizing after a successful ascent of Liberty Crack the day before. Matt in particular seems to have "The Bug" (and about 200 bolts and hangers), and I fill him in on the state of events in this vicinity. He'll be back.
We roll down the scant 50 yards to the river's edge and soak our poor doggies in the cold Methow, while tiny trout navigate the pebbles around our toes.
5:48 P.M. I watch a few videos of a track meet in Italy today, then crash out for 25 minutes.
8:10P.M. My I-Pod informs me that my battery is "75% full", which is enough for an hour of music-accompanied running Mojo while I accelerate and deccelerate along road and trail, racing the river, charging the hills and easing towards the orange and magenta Alpenglow to the South.
9:45 P.M. 12 ounces of cool beverage at my side, I begin this stream of thoughts. The evening breezes are swirling around in the trees above as I form the words....

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bang Bang

The length of steel finds the weakness, the space, I apply the pressure and suddenly gravity is served. So light as the air surrounds it, a granite block the size of the couch I am now sitting on finds it's arc and dances into it's fate of rocketing debris, a display befitting this 4th of July weekend. As the talus grows by it's measure, the void that is left by the former occupant is a shelf-sized ledge caked in gravel, a small berm of soil at it's back. A few passes with the bristles of the broom and brush, and the granite is pristine, now exposed to the sun, the skin, the sweat and the rubber for seasons to come. At it's juncture with the wall, a deep fissure is revealed, a finger's width in size and running towards the overhang above. It will soon accept soft digits and hardened cams, allowing this portion of the rock dance to continue.

I swing out onto the sun-grazed wall, tools jangling, the realm of the river, the silvered snag, the willow and the moose hundreds of feet below me, threading for miles in each direction. The destructive power of fire created the landscape I behold around me; the creative power of gravity and dreams creates a new landscape above me, running in converging, golden, beckoning lines to meet the cloud-garnished azure of the sky.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


If you are reading this, you are one of the select few, and are to be commended, for being a) in the right time and place and b) having the curiosity and/or awareness to be at least a witness if not an actual participant, in what is to follow. A wondrous, rich, pregnant moment before "The Deluge". The rock gods are smiling and their generosity and magnanimity of what they are now bequeathing to all of us through the Diligent Few is truly the most among the most magical things I have ever witnessed. If you are one of those Diligent Few you know of which I speak. If not, please be patient. The show is about to commence, a tableaux of delectable experiences for all who thrive and dance in gravity's embrace....

Note the new page link (above) of guide revisions for "Mazama Rock"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer is coming...

This weekend, temps are forecast near 80 in Mazama. Climb early for best conditions, then loll about the abundant watercourses to cool off before an evening session (it is light until after 9PM).

Prime Rib should be in well, Prime condition (usually there are cooling breezes in PM), but unfortunately Restless Natives looks to be wet for another few weeks. Gate Creek is roaring full, so while Fire Wall will be excellent, the crossing over to Rough Cut is blocked by a wall of whiteness. Hopefully, the limestone sector at Prospector should be largely dry. I will be making an effort to replace the ratty fixed lines on Prospector accessing the far right (South) side.

Thanks to Jerry Daniels for adding a bolt to the crux of "the Butler Did It" 11b at Prospector, rendering it safe. Don't forget to try my retro-fitted "Two Bolts Or Not 10b" at Fun which is now ten bolts and STILL 10b, When in doubt, bring extra draws, as bolts have been added to a few other routes as well (see earlier updates).

I have been prepping some new offerings, and look forward to sharing some exciting new areas as the season progresses. Sport, Trad, Hybrid (mixed) and bouldering...stay tuned!

Control Freak 13+

This is a link-up of "Beta Male" to "Out Of Control" in the Woof, Canine Crag. This and it's variant, "The Easy Way Out" 13, are among the steepest routes in the grade in the U.S.. More steepness is on it's way....