Yes, it's in the plans. But this year I want to go "faster", less like the 3 day fastpack I did in 2015 and more like the 36 hour sufferfest I did in 1999; tempered to arrive at an endeavor somewhere between these two. Ideally I will start at Longmire and proceed CW to get the hardest part of the trail done first, but continuing past Mowich Lake (35 miles) for a push to the area of 50 miles. Then one rest period of 3-5 hours, then the remainder to finish.
Preparation is paramount, so I'm building on resurrected running. These past 15 years I have done just enough running to be able to do about 5 miles if needed, which equates to 2 - 4 times per month. This minimalist running schedule simply reminds the legs and body of the activity, keeping total atrophy at bay. Combined with biking, Kendo, skiing and hiking, I maintained a base to work from. But, since my daughter has graduated from college and can't really swim anymore, she has talked me into running a few races with her, a half marathon in December and a 15K in March. This necessitated I pick up the running specific training.
SLOW: TRAINING OVER 60....one of the hardest things to do in a training program is to let go of past times and concentrate on the now, and it has been a long slow process. At 63 it is paramount that I don't increase training by more than about 10% over a 6 to 8 week time frame, as being too ambitious leads to over training and injury, and nothing derails a training program worse than injury. I am running a half marathon with my niece in Boston next month and I told her I'm gonna be slow. The last one she ran was 1:35, my best time was 1:28. I anticipate something between 9 to 10 minute mile pace. However, it's coming back, with finally some good runs in the log book. If I continue the training through the summer I should be in fair shape.
SPECIFICITY....I'm about to start trail trotting, probably the most important part of this program. Treadmill running is great to get things going, do timed intervals, and adjust the body to running. But to do a "fasterpack" of the Wonderland with the above itinerary I need to move efficiently for hours on end; I won't actually run but rather slowly trot the downhills and level sections. Relentless forward movement, the mantra of ultra running. So my legs will need to be adapted for efficient climbing and constant movement. Luckily my neck of the woods has excellent training areas; in fact, I can walk out my door and within 1.5 miles be on trails that can take me to Issaquah and back. I have Cougar Mountain, Squak Mountain and Tiger mountain regional parks at my disposal, the training ground of many local ultra runners. When I can go trot for over 30 miles on a trainer I'll be about where I need to be.
PHILOSOPHY AND EQUIPMENT....My familiarity with the Wonderland and 35 years of outdoors experience gives me the confidence to tackle this task with minimal equipment. I won't be going as light as my 36 hour jaunt, where I took only a hydration pack. My only extra clothing was a light set of Montbell rain gear. When I had enough and stopped for a break at Ipsut Creek campground on my CCW trip, I tried to sleep on top of a picnic table wearing all my clothes. In fact I did manage some snoozing but the lack of padding and morning chill made me get up before dawn and hit the trail just to warm up. By that evening, on my last few miles, I was hallucinating...fun times! Surely I will have to employ some grit for this year's endeavor but I'm going to take more gear. Assuming a good weather forecast, here are some gear options I'm considering:
• ZPacks Pocket Tarp: at just 3 ounces I can use this to wrap up in during rest, or just drape over me. If I am only resting for a short period, I can leave the stakes at home.
• Gossamer Gear LT3C poles. For trail hiking I find poles almost indispensable for pace making, creek crossing and overall stability while moving quickly. I've had my GG LT3s since 2007, logging thousands of miles. 5.8 ounces.
• Clothing: either some running shorts or compression bottoms, an OR Echo Hoody (long sleeve for sun protection), Enlightened Equipment Copperfield Wind Shirt (7d, 1.8 ozs) and EE custom Copperfield Wind Pants (I am testing a hybrid pair, 20d front and 7d rear, 1.4 ozs), EE Torrid Hooded Apex Vest (5.8 ozs). Add in socks (2 pair), running shoes (Inov8) and a Headsweats cap. Lastly, a ZPacks Poncho/Groundsheet at 5.7 ozs.
• Pack: My lightest option is my custom ZPacks Zero at 4.7 ozs. On deck, either of 2 custom Zimmerbuilt packs under a pound.
• Sleep/Rest: one half ZRest (7 ozs) and a Mountain Laurel Designs Bag Liner (used as a bivy to trap heat, 2.8 ozs)
• Other: minimal foot kit, sun glasses, BeFree filter, GoPro (mounted to trekking pole), InReach, iPhone, optional camera (Panasonic ZS100), headlamp
No, I'm not going to fuss over grams, I'm simply thinking of what I can take to be comfortable over perhaps 48 hours, including sleep and shelter gear. If I change plans for whatever reason to a more traditional backpack/fastpack, I will use my ZPacks Hexamid X (yet to be delivered (#2) for testing, about 14.8 ozs), a full pad, and perhaps my 50 degree EE quilt. Either way I anticipate my pack weight to be unnoticeable at under 10 pounds, including food and water. Also worth mentioning, I am making the effort to equip with US made products.
Will I avoid injury? Will I be able to complete my training program? Will the stars align for time off and weather? Can I pull this off in celebration of 35 years wandering the park? Check back.