lundi 29 août 2011

Photos TDS

Et voilà ! I'm done with TDS !
In 29h45, I have covered the 121km and 7037m D+ of a route that had to be modified to avoid Passeur de Pralognan due to the thunderstorms. A course that about one third of the starters DNFd. A course that was brilliant, awesome, fantastic ! :-D

Before a detailed report of my race, you can already find some photos of the race on Picasa.
The detailed map of the race is on Runkeeper and Garmin

During the same week-end, Patrice has finished UTMB (the serious main race of the week-end in Chamonix, 170km all around Mont-Blanc, under rain and snow), and Phil has finished GRP (under the rain too) : well done guys !!

And now, I can't wait to be in UTMB next year...
A nice video so that you can feel the enthusiasm too : here

mardi 23 août 2011

Follow me !

Follow me during the race !
Info will be posted live on my facebook profile and on the official live tracking website of the race.
I'm on the TDS with bib 8712.
Feel free to send encouragements and support by SMS ! :-)

mercredi 17 août 2011

TDS race plan

Race plan designed with the help of this website and the times table on the official website.

START : Courmayeur, 9h

Start - Col Chécroui, 6.5 km, 812m+ : 1h30
Col Chécrouit - Col de la Youlaz, 4.9 km, 707m+ : 1h30

Col de la Youlaz - La Thuile, 10km, 1250m- : 1h20

TIME BARRIER 1 : La Thuile, 14h30
Expected arrival : 13h20
Expected departure : 13h35

La Thuile - Col du Petit Saint-Bernard, 8.7 km, 783m+ : 2h

WATER POINT : Col du Petit Saint-Bernard, 5mn
Arrival 15h35
Departure 15h40

Col du Petit Saint-Bernard - Saint-Germain : 8.5km, 889m- : 1h15
Saint-Germain - Séez : 2.9 km, 423m- : 30 mn
Séez - Bourg Saint-Maurice : 2.8 km, 100m- : 20 mn
Total : 14.2km, 1412m- : 2h05

TIME BARRIER 2 : Bourg Saint-Maurice
Arrival 17h45
Food and massage
Departure 18h15
Limit 19h30

Bourg-Saint-Maurice - Fort de la Platte : 5.6km, 1170m+ : 2h
Fort de la Platte - Col de la Forclaz : 3.2km, 385m+ : 1h
Col de la Forclaz - Le Passeur de Pralognan : 2.9 km, 340m+ : 55mn
Total : 11.7 km, 1895m+ : 3h55
Arrival at the top: 22h10

Le Passeur de Pralognan - Le Cormet de Roseland : 4.8km, 590m- : 1h

TIME BARRIER 3 : Le Cormet de Roseland
Expected arrival: 23h10
Expected departure: 23h40
Limit: 1.30 am

Le Cormet de Roseland - Col de la Sauce : 3.5km, 330m+ : 45mn
(Pass at 0.25am)
Col de la Sauce - La Sausse : 1.7km, 310m- : 20mn
La Sausse - La Gitte : 2.7km, 357m- : 30mn
(Pass La Gitte at 1.20am)
La Gitte - entre Deux Nants : 3.1km, 504m+ : 1h
entre Deux Nants - Col Est de la Gitte : 0.9km, 146m+ : 20mn
(Pass the top at 2.40am)
Col Est de la Gitte - Col du Joly : 7.1km, 224m+, 541m- : 1h20

TIME BARRIER 3 : Col du Joly
Expected arrival 4am
Limit : 7.15am
Expected departure 4.30am

Col du Joly - Notre-Dame de la Gorge : 5.1 km, 784m- : 55mn
Notre-Dame de la Gorge - Les Contamines : 3.8km, 50m+, 100m- : 35mn
(Reach Les Contamines at 6am)

TIME BARRIER 4 : Les Contamines
Expected arrival : 6am
Limit : 9am
Expected departure : 6.20am

Les Contamines - Chalets du Truc : 3.4km, 563m+ : 1h10
Chalets du Truc - Col de Tricot : 3.7 km, 584m+, 195m- : 1h30
(Col du Tricot at 9am)

Col de Tricot - Bellevue : 4km, 142m+, 463m- : 55mn
Bellevue - Les Houches : 4.8km, 787m- : 55mn

TIME BARRIER 5 : Les Houches
Limit : 14h15
Expected arrival : 10h50
Expected departure : 11h10

Les Houches - Arrivée : 7.9km, 209m+, 181m- : 1h30

FINISH : Chamonix
Limit : 16h
Expected arrival : 12h40
Total time : 27h40

Training summary

Here is a list in rounded values of my training over the past 3 weeks, most of it being over the past 10 days:
* July 24, Moucherotte, 7h20, 36 km, 1900m+
* July 31, Bastille, 1h10, 10km, 300m+
* July 31, Lac Achard + Croix de Chamrousse, 3h, 10km, 600m+
* August 2, Neron - Jalla, 5h30, 23km, 1200m+
* August 5, St-Eynard, 4h, 23km, 1500m+
* August 7, Moucherotte, 2h45, 11km, 800m+
* August 8, Saint-Eynard, 3h15, 21km, 1300m+
* August 10, Dent de Crolles, 6h30, 32km, 2100m+
* August 12, Chamechaude-Emeindras-St-Eynard, 6h15, 34km, 2200m+
* August 14, Saint-Eynard trois fois, 5h30, 25km, 2600m+
* August 15, Lac Fourchu, 2h30, 6.5km, 400m+

So a total of 47h45mn out in the mountains (not counting the naps ^^) for 231km (horizontal) and 15000m+ (vertical). Wow... :-o
That is one GRP and a half...

Now who is ready to do 110km with 7100m+ in 24 hours? B-)
If only I could be confident in that...
But training sure helps. I guess now is the time for tapering!

lundi 15 août 2011

Saint-Eynard, Saint-Eynard, Saint-Eynard

Last Sunday I had planned a hike with a swim in a mountain lake, but the weather forecast, as well as the weather in the morning, was all but encouraging for that: dark grey clouds, rain, storms by the end of the day... So the hike got canceled and I started reading instead. However by noon the sun was shining and the mountains were gleeming, rid of any clouds. So I decided to head out to Saint-Eynard, but not a simple climb there, rather climb it three times in a row, still in this idea to train for multiple ascents in a row, like what will happen at the TDS.

So after a quick and light lunch I headed out with a few bars stashed in my waterpack (as well as a rain jacket). I didn't feel like running even the 2 first flat kilometers, so walked to La Tronche in the hot noon sun. Starting at noon is not such a good idea in the middle of summer, and I quickly went reaaaally hot, navigating between castle-houses with bbq smells and swimming pools... I got the poles out in the "chemin des orties", a narrow shortcut between nettles to skip some bends on the road. I had a hard time in the ascent, being happy when reaching road sections because they were less steep (cars don't deal well with 25% inclines...). I had to stop at the "Vierge noire" for a break, catching my breath and eating an almond bar. Then started again, and by the time I reached the Col de Vence (in 1h30, not too bad with no running) I was swimming in sweat.

From the Col I immediately started the first ascent, completed in 46mn, trying not to put myself in the red zone at all. There were not many hikers yet, and I was all alone at the top for a Mule bar. Knowing I would be back with more time later, I didn't stay too long to watch the view, and ran straight down, in 20mn, passing many hikers climbing now. Not even a break at the barrier at the bottom of the track and I started straight up again, which I regretted ^^ so did some stretches a few meters further up. Some hikers I had seen going up on my way down recognize me "encore vous !", but most of them just greet me again with a "bonjour". Which is good because I don't recognize them either (not that I had much time to see them when flying down past them ^^).

On the way up I am passed by one guy quickly walking up with what I think is a paraglider in his backpack. Confirmation a bit later when I pass him unfolding his sail at the caves just under the final stairs. This time I reach the top in 52mn and take a bit of a longer break, seeing the paraglider go down in a record time, and watching all the hikers I had passed (down and then up) finally arrive at the top. Among them is a big group of nice hikers in their 40s or 50s, who I talk with a bit. They ask me to take photos for them, and also ask how long it would take them to reach the Sappey on the GR ("we know for you it's 5mn" :-) ). I also message Rémi to join me for the "a quiet hike to Saint-Eynard" (not mentioning it was my 3rd one... ^^). I also eat a second Mule bar while waiting for the reply, and when he is ok, I run down to the col to meet him there, in 20 mn again.

Once at the bottom of the track, I run further down to the fountain to drink, refill water, and have a sort of shower in the cold water, trying to let my t-shirt dry on a bench, while waiting for Rémi. When he gets there the sky is already quickly getting darker... The ascent is quite slow (my fault...) in about 55mn. There are no hikers going up anymore, we are passed by two young guys walking real fast. Short break sitting down at the top for a 3rd Mule bar, before Rémi suggests going to the Fort, which involves going down and up again in a scree... Hard and steep... The restaurant is now open (true that last time I was there for a drink after Dent de Crolles + the crest was in June...). We didn't stay long there, the sky is really threatening now, and people at the restaurant have a car waiting at the parking at the top, while we don't... So quickly back to the summit (down and up the scree again), and quicky run down before the rain (25mn, not my fault ^^). We still catch some drops of rain through the forest before the bottom, but that's only refreshing.

Regarding my state, I couldn't climb anymore, the scree to the fort and back really killed what was left of energy in me. On the way down my feet started burning from all the rubbing. Other than that, muscles were fine going down, but I was feeling a bit tired, and happy to hitch a car ride back home, saving me 7 or 8 km under the rain.

samedi 13 août 2011

Chamechaude - Emeindras - StEynard

Yesterday, back in the mountains for a training dedicated to multiple ascents in a day, for a change from my traditional profile of climbing all morning, and running down all afternoon. So headed to Le Sappey by bus in order to tackle Chamechaude, the summit of the Chartreuse range. Given there is only one or 2 buses a day, I start walking at 1pm, in the heat, and having forgotten my sunglasses...

Photos on Picasa
Map on Garmin

The start is a bit boring, walking on a road right in the sun, through various hamlets part of Le Sappey, until it gets to a large track in the forest, and then a narrower track making switchbacks and regularly crossing another track going straight up. After almost an hour walking up, I reach the Habert de Chamechaude in a large meadow with open view on Chamechaude towering more than 500m above, its large cliffs lurking above us. First break, first Mule bar (didn't get much of a lunch beforehand), and realisation that it has half the calories I thought it had... I will have a hard time...

From there I take the path to the left towards Cabane de Bachasson. It's a hilly track, very narrow just by the ravine, not too bad for a bit of running, until I suddenly lose it in a scree and start climbing right up in the scree. Bad idea. Stones rolling all around, feet sliding, and big void under me... Once up I can hear and then see people on real tracks a bit further, so start crossing the meadows on a 50° slope, trying not to toboggan all my way down. Happy to catch up the track, even if it is super crowded. I missed the Cabane and am now in the final slope already.

Here starts the final ascent, with dozens of trails in between screes, and lots of yellow marks to try to keep people on the actual trail and out of the shortcuts. I take a few minutes to climb a big mushroom-shaped rock (I hear someone calling it "the cake") where I see goats. Then back to the trail, it gets steeper and steeper, and the slope behind dives down in the void. Huge fences are supposed to catch stones falling from the cliffs above. The view on the West part of Chartreuse is awesome: can see Neron, Aiguille de Quaix, Pinea, Grand Som. And then suddenly I hit the crest line, and the view to the other side is unveiled: la Dent de Crolles appears under a huge atomic mushroom-shaped cloud. All I have to do now is follow the crest to reach a wall that has to be climbed (with a cable to help if needed) to get to the summit cross. Once there the track keeps going along the crest a few more hundred meters, up to a wooden pole, where the cliff suddenly dives to the ravine 300m below.

I happened to be completely alone up there, in this mineral universe, only surrounded by mountains, at the very top of Chartreuse. Took my time for a second Mule bar, a nap on a flat rock, admiring the view, when suddenly dozens of choucas (birds) started flying around all together like a school of fish for several minutes, before landing a few meters away from me on the crest. Then a group of English tourists gave me a chance to practice my english, took some photos for them, talking about the Grand Duc trailrunning race happening every June here (they were guessing I was running it, or similar ones).

Then at 4pm it's time to head back, I still have a long way to go. Program: run down to the Habert de Chamechaude, making a detour to Emeindras du Dessus, catching the GR track again towards Le Sappey before heading up St-Eynard to finish the day. Easy climb down the wall, careful jog then run down in the screes and rocky trails to the Cabane (this time I find it) and its fountain. Then run back on the narrow rooty trail by the ravine, trying not to trip on anything. At the Habert, long raspberry break: there are dozens of them growing here! :-D A bit of hesitation given how late it already is (about 5pm if I recall correctly), but then still headed to the Emeindras 2 km away. It's a sheepfold, but surrounded by cows ^^

Last Mule bar, while enjoying the great views of Chamechaude and Dent de Crolles, and the crest of St-Eynard unrolling to the west. That's where I head next, running down through the meadow, then reaching a large gravel track with perfect grade that I sprint down to the sound of Mad World. Without a map, I am not very sure of the direction, but I quickly recognize the path of our winter hike to Emeindras, just without the snow (but with big puddles of mud in place of it). The Sappey is not very far, 4km actually but quickly covered ^^ From there I navigate my way to the start of the St-Eynard track. It goes behind the adventure park, and I suddenly happen on kids climbing in the trees, surprise! A bit later someone flies above my head on the flying fox... And then it's the desert trail again.

In 10 ascents to St-Eynard, I never took this track. And I might not take it again, unless needed: it's super super steep. There is a choice of doing switchbacks, but right in the sun, so I stay in the shade on the >30% slope by the forest. But... I saw a deer! from very close, in the forest just to my right, was about to take a pic when two hikers happened by talking loudly and the deer quickly disappeared... So back to climbing hard. The fort is supposed to be 300m above us and 3km away, and still it is way steeper than in the other side. I understand why when I reach the crest after the first km, and the rest is just running up and down through the forest, jumping around rocks. This trail is now the same I took once back from Dent de Crolles, which is relieving.

I reach the top of St-Eynard a bit after 7pm, there's noone up there, the light is wonderful. My phone is back on the network too, so I can organise my evening :-) Starting to feel really hungry too, so eat my secret fruit bar that was left in the pocket of my jacket, and start jogging down. Stitches are preventing me from going very fast, have to walk at some points. The light is really going down now, and there's no hiker left in there, so the forest feels a bit bleak / dreary. 24mn to Col de Vence, happy to fill in my empty water bladder, before quickly heading out of the way of the crazy cars leaving Grenoble for the long week-end, down the shortest way home.

On the way I can enjoy the light of the sun going down behind Rachais, under orangy and pink clouds. On the other side Belledonne is gleeming in pink, while the moon is rising behind it. Awesome! Jogged all my way back home along Isere, not feeling really tired. Actually this full day felt pretty good, ascents were hard but that's how they're supposed to feel, aren't they? So feeling more confident now for the TDS, good thing before tapering a bit. Race day - 11...! :-/ Scary!

Back home at 9pm, shower, and straight out again heading to Notre-Dame for a drink, rendez-vous at 9.30, so taking away a bit of ham and biscuits for dinner... I guess I should take better care of my recovery, too, at some point :-)

jeudi 11 août 2011

Dent de Crolles - Bois Français

So, I'm back in English. Given Garmin connect website tries to curb my creativity with a text size limit, I'll write about my hikes here :-)
So the last one in date was yesterday to Dent de Crolles.

This hike was intended as the first training with the new Black Diamond poles I just got from Vieux Campeur for the TDS. After spending the night before trying to organise how to get to Saint-Pancrasse (and failing because there are precisely road works in the tunnel there so no bus stops there during summer...), I took the same bus as last time (line 6020 from Hotel de Ville) to St-Ismier Memorial (alt 317m). There starts immediately the long way up in the "Rivière des Graviers" ;-), a long boring gravel track to the Manival Hut (4.2 km, alt 870m).

There I take the poles out for the most enjoyable part of the way, the "chemin Ketanou", named after I climbed it listening to "La fiancée de l'eau", and this song just happens to play again, by chance :-) So this track is of perfect grade, shock-absorbing compact dirt, a bit narrow at times, and in the shade of the forest which is pleasant under this heat. It goes straight (well, not so straight precisely ^^) up to Col de Baure (alt 1200m, so 2.5km, 330m+) and the sign announces a time of 1h25. Actually took 30mn instead B-)

From Col de Baure it's a steeeeeeep uphill for 1 km, up to a crossing with a large sandy track going downhill for another km. This time I knew I was going the right way, even if it was downhill, so I could just enjoy the downhill to Col du Coq, its parking, and the first humans of the day. From there a short hilly muddy rooty rocky slippery narrow technical trail leads in 1km and 10mn to The Fountain, under Col des Ayes, where I drink before heading to the col (reached in 2h10) and immediately starting straight up the Dent de Crolles amongst now numerous other hikers.

Still going fast pushing on the poles (the arms are hurting more than the legs ^^), I pass all the other hikers, just walking but faster. Chose to go through Trou du Glaz again, longer way but way more fun too. No traffic jams today in the cabled section, where I put the poles away for the day. Rocks are all slippery from too many hands grabbing them to climb up, so cables are sometimes welcome. At the top of the climb comes the GR9 track again (Tour de Chartreuse), and then the sign where the summit track splits from the GR: summit 40 mn, 1.1 km. I'm up to 2h46 of climbing, wondering if I can manage a sub-3h summit, but probably not. First priority is to not lose the track as I did last time, so I'm a bit more careful and it's actually quite easy to follow with yellow marking and biiiig cairns, dunno how I lost it last time... Finally the summit cross emerges behind one last bump, and I decide to try for a 3h07 at the top. Push harder, pass a few more people, then a trail runner (walking too ^^) takes a shortcut and passes me just before the summit. A few meters running but it's too steep... Finally 3h10 at the cross. Not too bad B-)

At the top, lots of people are watching... the clouds! and having a picnic. We are in a sea of clouds, right in the middle of it, clouds so close they seem tangible. Flowing fast above our heads, swirling around us, and sometimes suddenly opening up to unveil Belledonne in the South. No chance to see Mont Blanc today though. Only Chartreuse is more visible, with the Grand Som and even a paraglider above it, while Saint-Eynard is so close but completely masked.

Not even really hungry, despite having eaten nothing on the way up, since it's barely noon. Mostly thirsty though, and cold in the wind, happy to put on the windstopper jacket. A first sandwich and go for a nap, and some writing, some photos, watching the hikers. Another trail runner arrived at the top with his typical buff, raidlight backpack and tights ^^ I guess lots of people are now training even harder for UTMB...? At least several hikers over the past few days have been asking if I was training for it. Finally I took almost an hour at the top eating, writing, sleeping and enjoying the view, before getting too cold and deciding to run down to the Col des Ayes to sleep in the sun there.

Walked, jogged and ran down (in 19mn) by the Pas de l'Oeille path, steep, rocky and slippery, gravels rolling under your feet, not always possible to run except for the very end of it. Reached the Col des Ayes in the middle of... sheeps, lots of them. Went straight down to the fountain to top up my water bladder, nearly empty already (what would it be if it was really hot...?) and drink, then back up to the Col to sleep on a big rock I had spotted, all alone in the grass. Another nap, the end of my picnic, and some more writing until I decided it was late enough to head down to my bus in Bois Français (a leisure base with 4 lakes that I wanted to visit while it's open, after having run there in April, when it was desert).

So jogged down in the middle of all the sheeps trying not to scare them too much, and also trying to wake up quietly, when I got passed by a female trail runner! :-) . Quickly reached this muddy track with big puddles sinking into the forest and leading back to Col du Coq. There I have to go back up this downhill section without the poles that are away in my bag, and at the crossing it's now all downhill to the finish. Started down the steeep track to Col du Baure, and quickly lost the track without even realising, just thinking it was even steeper and narrower than what I could recall, but I wasn't sure until I hit back the real track... suddenly out on a crest with views on the Dent de Crolles on the other side of the col. Carefully went down this steep part to the next sign, still twisted my left ankle twice in a row again.

Col de Baure, alt 1200m. Here comes my favourite section, running down to Baraque du Manival on this perfect downhill section, aerial above the ravine, where you'd better not miss the turn when it suddenly gets round a scree diving into the ravine. And you'd better read the trail a fair way ahead to avoid suddenly rolling an ankle on a moving rock or tripping on a root springing out of the ground. Even saw a few hikers going up! Super enjoyable though, with nice music (No Limits, followed by Wanna be free) to push. 18 mn down though (timed afterwards from the photos time tags). At the hut, long break in the shade, sitting on the picnic table by the hut, singing, playing on my phone, stretching my legs.

Then begins the hard way down the "gravel river", long track under scorching sun, now really hot. I had some fun going fast, when I suddenly felt sick, had to stop and eat something quickly before finishing the descent. I was finally back in Saint-Ismier in 5h, only to realise that Bois Français was still 5km away... :-) So headed there, navigating with my phone, reached the lakes and got lost going around them and multiple fences (I hate fences everyday a bit more), trying the find the bus stop. At least I found blackberries on the way ^^, could take nice pictures of mountains reflecting in the water, but didn't have time for my plan to recover by the water while waiting for the bus. Instead of that I missed the 4:50 bus by quite a while, and finally found the stop only 15 mn before the 6pm bus. Phew... So was quite happy to just sit down at the stop and wait for the bus, wasn't it for the bored cyclist who started telling me all about his life.

Nice day anyway. Now watching Dent De Crolles, wondering when is my next trip there. I should be tapering, I was told... :-)