Monday, December 3, 2012

December 3, 2012 – TNF 50 Mile Championships Race Report

Disclaimer - (Spoiler alert) Well before I get started, I am finding that this post is a bit different from most posts in that it is more therapeutic than informational.  Also, I am going to try my hardest to keep this post positive.  Due to the amount of time and effort that I dedicated to training for this event, the money I invested to get to the race, and the effort I put forth during the race.. it won’t be easy as I am VERY frustrated with the circumstances and the outcome. But here it goes…

The story starts on the days leading up to the race.  According to the weather predictions, the “most competitive 50mile race on US soil” was going to be run in flood-like conditions.  To be honest, this excited me.  I ran the course last year in perfect conditions and thought this new “wrinkle” would make the race more interesting and “tougher”.

At the packet pick up, I saw quite a few familiar faces… Rickey Gates, Adam Campbell, Adam Chase.. etc.  This crew gave me the heads-up that the course had been changed due to flooding in some areas of the trail and some sort of “jurisdiction” issues.  By the looks of the new map, much of the most technical climbing and single track had been removed.  The course now consisted of a myriad of turns and loops.  To be honest, just looking at it gave me a headache… but now I felt like it might actually set up even better for me.. lots of rollers.. forest service roads.. and mud.. perfect for how I felt coming in to the race.. fast, strong, and ready to climb. 

Fast forward to Saturday morning.. it’s 5am.. and time to get it on.  It’s raining.. windy.. but not too cold.  The Elite Wave is packed with a lot of big name guys from all over the world.  I always crack up when I compare my attire to the rest of this group.  They are decked-out in their sponsor’s newest, coolest gear, while I am wearing a menagerie of brands.. Adidas, New Balance, Nike, Swiftwick, Amphipod, etc. - My Flagstaff buds that are sponsored crack up when we race and love counting how many different brands I have on.. what can ya do.

As the gun goes off, we jet across the start line and quickly form a thick pack.  I wasn’t too scared about starting out hard, so within a half mile I took the lead running about 5:50/mile pace.  I kept this going for the first couple miles and as we started the first small accent, we had already established a small lead pack consisting of myself, Adam Campbell, Sage Canaday, and Cameron Clayton.  A large chase pack was about 30sec back.  For the next 4 or 5miles, the 4 of us traded lead position multiple times.  Looking at my Garmin, I was doing 7:15min/mile pace on the climbs and 5:30 to 5:50 pace on the downs & flats.  This pace was perfect for now.  I felt that eventually I would bring the pace up, but for now it felt relaxed.

As we winded our way up and over hills, the weather fluctuated between crazy and brutal.  There were several times that it was raining so hard that my headlamp beam wasn’t able to illuminate the ground in front of me.  The fog would get so thick in spots that a 10 sec gap made someone invisible… and the wind whipped the rain hard enough on the highest ridges to make trying to see painful. 

Regardless of all this.. we were racing.  Around mile 7, it was down to 3 of us.  Myself, Sage, and Adam.  We were still throwing down pretty hard… the pace stuck in that 5:45/mile on the downs & flats.. and 7:30/mile on the ups.  Sizing up Adam & Sage, I noticed that Sage was killing the uphills, opening a gap on every climb, but he was wearing road shoes and having trouble with traction - - would that hurt him later in the day?.. Adam was dominating the downhills.. flying down each descent - - would the downhill pounding take its toll?.. only time would tell.  - -  I was right in the middle… closing distance on Sage on the downs.. and Adam on the ups. 

Around mile 15, things opened up a bit.  Sage surged on an ascent.. and Adam responded on the ensuing descent.  At this point, I made a conscious decision to run my race and not get caught up in these early race surges.  I kept both Adam & Sage in sight and simply let them pull me along the trail.

Mile 17-ish - - I guess this is where everything went wrong for me, Sage, & Adam.  At this point, I am not 100% sure how big our lead was.  I know that I could see several minutes back in spots and I didn’t see a single headlamp, so my guess was around 5min-ish. 

Following the course, the trail splits and you are suppose to head downhill to an aid station, do a short loop, and head back up the hill where the trail splits from the route of origin.  The 3 of us did not go down the hill, but instead followed the markers taking us the other direction.  Honestly, I didn’t see a single marker, sign, etc pointing us down the hill.. and there DEFINITELY wasn’t a race official there to help figure out this junction (I later learned that a course official / volunteer was there for the chase pack – so I guess we out ran the officials??)  - - I would love to feel comfortable saying.. “yeah, this is part of trail racing”.. or “should have reviewed the map more closely”.. but I paid an entry fee.. I incurred a good amount of travel expenses to get to the race.. I put a lot of time into my training.. I was running hard.. oh yeah, and there was $10,000 at stake.. so for me, it’s hard to just write it off as if some kind of “trail culture” thing that I should just accept .. - - but… enough of that.

As I had no idea, we had “gone off course” I was still running hard.  Coming through mile 20 through 24, there were several sections where you could see up to 12min in front & behind due to the “out and back” nature of the course.. and I saw Sage (~7min) & Adam (~3min) in front of me and no one behind me.  

As I came through 26miles in around 2hrs 50min, my strategy was to keep the downs & flats around 6min/pace.. and the ups no slower than 8min pace.  Since the modified course was suppose to be ~46miles, I figured that would put my finish time close to 5hrs 10min which would keep anyone from catching me.. and I would have a decent shot of closing the gap on Adam and Sage if they fell off pace at all.

The next 6 or 7 miles, I fueled a lot and still had some good bounce in my legs.  My spirits were high.. but that changed as soon as I hit the aid station that I missed earlier.  For several minutes, I was explained the situation.. Sage, Adam, & I missed a turn on the first lap and if we wanted to have a chance to not be DQ’d, we would have to run a loop twice and go up and down the muddiest, sloppiest hill of the entire course twice.  This would make up the distance we missed.. but it definitely changed the nature of the race. 

So confused.. and a bit angry, I blazed out of the aid station.  I thought “well, maybe I won’t lose much distance..?”.. Then I passed Timmy Parr.  I hadn’t seen him all day long and all of a sudden he is in front of me.  What the hell!.. I asked him how he got ahead of me.. and he didn’t say much.  At this point, I kinda lost it and even considered dropping out.. I was thinking, “Did anyone run the course right?”.. “Due to the numerous amount of criss-crossing and multitudes of various runners, how would they know who cut what parts of the course?”.  I decided not quit, but instead ran the 2 loops. I was DEFLATED, so I walked the muddy hill the 1st time and jogged it the 2nd time.  … I literally went from cloud-9 thinking at best I had a shot to win and at worst earn a 3rd place finish… to crap “what place am I in”.. “who actually ran the course”.. “this hill sure is harder in the mud after 32 miles of running than it would have been when it was dryer and at mile 17”.. “what can ya do.. at least I wouldn’t be DQ’d.  Right?”

For the next 7 or 8 miles, I really shut it down running anywhere from 8min pace to 13min pace.  I was pretty much heart broken and was having a hard time dealing with the shocking realization that I was no longer going to meet my goal of making the podium as a top 3 finisher.. and that I could potentially be DQ’d. 

After being passed a few times, I finally woke-up and re-grouped.  I had Dylan Bowman reeling me in and this encouraged me to start pushing again.  The last 8miles went by pretty fast as I fought to keep Dylan at bay. 

As I crossed the finish line, I learned that I finished 6th place in a time of 6hrs 1min.  This was not the result I wanted, but I tried to hold my head high.  No disrespect to the guys in the top the 3 spots, but I am confident that I had a superb shot at the podium.  I guess it wasn’t meant to be.. I do know that regardless of my disappointment, I stuck with it and pulled out a solid day.  I’ll take pride in that, move on, and get ready for the next one. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

November 18, 2012 - Bootlegger 50k Race

Bootlegger 50k - - Boulder City, Nevada (Just out side of Las Vegas).. After several weeks of getting back in the groove following my GC R2R2R, I was ready to race.  Honestly, I hadn't been feeling too healthy coming in, but I felt confident that I would be able to pull through fine.  There were a good number of solid runners scheduled to toe the line.. including Rob Krar (La Sportiva Mtn Cup Champ), Chad Riklefs (Ultra Running Legend), Chris Vargo (fresh off a solid Chicago Marathon), Brian Tinder, Eric Bohn.. etc. 

Per the website - - "The 50k course consists of two 15.43 mile loops with a total of 4386 feet of elevation gain/loss. The terrain breakdown is 28 miles of single track, 1.5 miles of dirt road, and about 0.5 miles of pavement. Much of the single track trail is technical, yet there are some fast and smooth sections."
My Description - - Technical, Sandy, Rocky, Rolling.. Challenging.

The Race:
Right before the 7am start, the weather was "crisp" and cool, but the sun was already glaring.  With each deep breath, you could smell the desert plants. - -  Time to roll. 

The race started right on time.  A large group barrelled down the first quarter mile.  A few minutes later we already started to spread out. The first mile is downhill and thus fast.  Chris Vargo & I came through around 5:20 pace.r... and began to open a slight gap on the field.

After the fast first mile, you begin the longest climb of the day.  Coming into the race, my plan was to keep the first lap steady.. then on the second lap I wanted to use this climb to create some distance from the field.

Keeping the climb very relaxed, Rob Krar closed the slight lead Chris & I had.  I could tell that everyone else felt our pace was too fast and was going to stay back and "feast" on us when we fell apart.

Topping out the climb, I decided to start pushing the pace consistently. Due to HUGE variations in terrain (rocks, sand, hills, turns, etc), it wasn't so much about pace as effort.  The "consistent push" had us clipping miles from 5:20 to 6:15pace. 

We whipped through each well stocked aid station.  I chose not to carry water or fuel, so I stopped for about 30sec at each aid station and did my best Kobayashi impression.  I am sure the volunteers thought I was a real lunatic, but I subscribe to the NASCAR theory of "pit stops".. extra time is wasted time.   

Rob, Chris, & I kept hammering our way through the mix of creosote & cactus.  I knew at about mile 10 when both Chris and Rob were still right with me that this was going to be a LONG day that would not be won by any early surges.  As such, I settled in and kept the pressure on. 

Before I knew it, we had completed lap 1.  Our time was right at 1hr 47min.  Course record pace was around 2hrs 3min. 

As Chris, Rob, & I set out for lap 2, I felt myself picking up the pace a bit heading towards the Long Climb.

Time out - - funny story at this point.. A 50 something year old lady was walking down a 2 lane path directly towards us.  Chris and I were hammering along pretty steady.. this lady wasn't moving an inch as we hopped off the trail to get around her.. she then yelled, "Get the fuck out of my way".  I kinda laughed.. mostly in disbelief.  Maybe she had a rough night at the tables???  

Back to the race,...  As we start climbing, I started putting out some solid effort.  In no time, I had about 1min lead.. and by the time I hit the top, I had close to 2min on both Chris & Rob.

To ensure that I didn't just "give back" the time, I put the pace on 6:20s.  If they were gonna catch me, they were going to have to earn it. 

Three miles later.. here comes Krar.  That guy is one tough S.O.B. 

When he catches me, I asked him where Chris went and he said he had fallen off pace... so now after over 2hrs of battling.. it was down to 2. 

At this point, my stomach went south.. and I pulled over 4 times over the next 1.5hrs to "relieve some pressure".  Not ideal, but I guess it happens.

Rob and I steadily hammered the next hour and we were quickly closing in on the finish.  I kept opening small leads, but lost them everytime I had to make a pit stop.  Finally, with about 4miles to go, I had quite a bit left in tank, so I decided to put in a hard surge.  

That surge pretty much secured the win.  I had about a 2min lead .. and 2miles left to run.. and I was feeling really solid. 

I cruised in the next few miles assuming I would finish around 3hrs 40min.  As I rounded the final turn, there is a 200meter stretch where you can see the finish.  My watch read somewhere around 3hr 39min (+ a few seconds).  - - I had a shot to break 3hrs 40min!!

At that point, I turned on the gas a little.. then a little more.. then before I knew it, I was in full blown Carl Lewis form zipping towards the finish.. When I crossed the line the timer read... 3hrs 39min 52sec.. it was worth the extra effort.

Post Race:
After the race, a good number of the 50k and 25k finishers hung out and enjoyed a beer (provided by the race), a burger (provided by the race), and race recaps - war stories -highlights (provided by the race).

I would highly recommend running this race.. it was well organized and tough, but had a great laid back vibe.

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012 - Recovery Week = Hurricane Run + Elden FKT

After the thrashing I took in the Canyon during the Rim to Rim to Rim, I figured it was time for a Recovery Week.  The Sunday after my run, I had to go to Miami for work all week, so the timing was perfect.

I ended up running pretty easy all week.  Keeping each run right around 1hr.  The highlight was running 7miles on the beach the evening Hurricane Sandy blew through.  I should have probably stuck to the treadmill, but I had never run during this type of weather, so I decided to take my chances.  If nothing else, I had the beach to myself outside of the 5 surfers contemplating riding the giant waves.

After a week of running on Miami beach, I was SUPER STOKED to be back in Flagstaff.  On Sunday afternoon, I decided to head out for a long run.  My plan was to leave my house, run 7miles of trails over to Mt Elden Lookout Trail.. Summit Elden.. then Head down the road to home. 

On my way over to Elden Lookout Trail, I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to run the extra half-mile to the trail head and see how close I could get to Eric Bohn's Elden Lookout Trail FKT. 

As I got to the trailhead, I stopped for a quick stretch then headed up the steep, rocky trail.  I could really feel the "rest" in my legs.  I was able to push very consistently up the entire climb.  Before I knew it, I hit the summit as my watch read 35min 35sec.  Just good enough for a new FKT.

The way down I kept it pretty chill and was home in blink.

All together, I was very happy with both the rest week and how solid I felt on the Sunday run.  Now it's time to press the training hard for the next 3 weeks (incl Bootlegger 50k) before starting my taper for North Face 50mile Champs in San Fran. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 26, 2012 - GC Rim to Rim to Rim FKT Attempt 2012

Coming into this run, I had established a few "rules" for myself as follows:

(1) The run will be completely self-supported.  Everything I use, I plan on both packing in & packing out.  I plan to have a couple people pace me out from Phantom up S.Kaibab to the finish, but they will provide zero support.  

(2) Once I start my watch it keeps running until I finish.  No "pauses" for bathroom breaks, mules, pictures, etc.. - - no exceptions.

(3) I will start touching the SKaibab Kiosk.. run to the NKaibab Kiosk.. and run back to the SKaibab Kiosk..  

Getting to the Canyon:
After a quick bite to eat, I hit the road around 4:30am.  It was still very dark and after having to come to a stop for several large elk crossing the road, I decided to take it slowly.  By the time I got to the park, the sun was up and the temperature had climbed from 27 degrees to around 40 degrees. - - it was heating up quickly.

The Run:
After putting on my shoes and grabbing my water bottle and gels, I started the short "warmup" to the South Kaibab kiosk.  Once I got to the rim, I took a few deep breaths... I knew I was in shape to have a stellar run, but knowing that the Canyon has a tendency to throw curveballs.. I wondered what was in store for me today.. Well, only one way to find out.. Let's go.

I started out down S.Kaibab feeling very solid.  My plan was to stay relaxed on this section.. opening up on the few flat sections and trying not to push too hard on the more technical sections.  This portion was a real blur.  Before I knew it, I could see the Colorado River... and a couple mule trains.  I hit the first mule train about a 1/4 mile before the bridge and it cost me about 2min.  A bummer, but could have been worse.  

After the first mule train, I zipped down to the bridge where my watch read.. 51:59.  This was right around where I thought I would run, so at this point, I am really pleased.. My legs feel good and I am on pace.  

After crossing the Bridge, I hit the 2nd mule train.  This time they are stopped and blocking the entire trail, so I have to run down to the river and around the group.  This cost me about 90seconds.  Not too bad, but a real pain none the less.  

Though the Mule Trains can be a nuisance, my biggest concern is the heat.  At the bottom, it is already HOT.  I am only 1hr in and I can feel the heat.  As such, I stopped for water at Phantom in hopes of staying ahead of the "dehydration curve".  

Crossing the Canyon, I expected to feel really good and open it up.  For some reason, that didn't happen.  I kept a solid pace, but I wasn't able to push it.  As such, I ended up running from the River to Cottonwood in 1:05:37.  This stretch was very hot (~+90 degrees).. but nothing compared to what I was going to see on the NRim.

As I transitioned into climbing, my plan was to really work.  As I hit this section, I could immediately feel the sun beating down on me.  It was INTENSE.  I kept pushing, but I knew this was going to take it's toll.  About 25min into the climb, I started feeling my right calf grab.  CRAP!.. It was WAY too early to start cramping.  I pulled the pace back a shade, but hoped if I kept the fluids up, it would disappear.  

As I continued the climb, the cramps continued.  At this point, they were minor, but still very concerning.  To make things worse, it was only getting hotter.  Even the last few miles up the NRim were simply put.. HOT.  I got to the NRim from Cottonwood in 1:22:04... At Halfway, I am slower than expected, but still on pace to break the current record.. My time = 3:19:42 - - Time to try and tough out a solid 2nd Half.

On the trip back down the NRim, my hope was to push the pace a little.  When I started attempting this, I LOCKED-UP.  My right quad was not happy.  I ended up walking for several minutes while my leg "unlocked".  Once I worked this out, I decided to pull back a bit and just keep it moving.

As I struggled my way down the NRim, I started thinking ahead to the SRim.. If I was having this much trouble now, what was the SRim going to look like... most likely UGLY... but I tried to stay positive and hope that I might somehow push through and still get the record.. only time would tell. - - My split at Cottonwood from the NRim = 1:03:58.

As I pushed my way across the Canyon, still fighting the heat, I managed to keep a decent pace and I avoided any serious cramping episodes.  Before I knew it, I was about halfway through Box Canyon and I saw Caleb Schiff.  Caleb was here to help pace me out.  

As we started running together, I was able to keep a pretty good conversation, which was refreshing.  It also was an indication that I wasn't "pushing" the pace the way I would have liked... but I was just not able to put any "hard" effort into my running at this point or I would begin to cramp.

Steadily I made my way to Phantom where Eric Bohn was waiting to help pace me out as well.  I took a little extra time and downed as much water as possible at Phantom.  Both Eric & Caleb informed me that there shouldn't be any Mule Trains... but it was going to be very hot getting out.  

Refreshed and hopeful, I started running again.  My total time at the River = 5:28:10.  This meant I needed to run 1hr 24min or faster.  Considering my fastest times running SKaibab are around 1hr 10min, this is very possible, but considering how I am feeling... highly unlikely.  In the spirit of "never giving up", I forged ahead putting it on a pace that would get me to the the top ahead ahead of the record.

I felt as if I was a turkey being roasted in an oven as I pushed my way up the switchbacks.  About 25min into the climb, my legs began to cramp.  Severely.  It was this moment that I decided to give up on the record.. and start "Survival Mode".  I stopped running and started hike steadily.  About every 10 to 20 steps, one or all of my leg muscles would start cramping uncontrollably.  It was PAINFUL.  

I suffered my way through the hottest portions with Eric hiking close behind me.  We chatted a bit, but eventually, I was no longer able to talk and started getting dizzy.. and worried.  Forging ahead, my mantra was "keep moving".  I was worried that if I stopped, I wouldn't be able to get going again.  It was pretty darn miserable.

After scratching and clawing my way up the hot switchbacks, I eventually made it to the top to find Scott Bajer, Ludo Pierson, & Jay Donosky cheering me on.. I finished in 7hrs 36min 56sec.  This was about 1hr slower than I expected to run, but I had no issues with the run.  I knew I left it all out on the trail.. and had conditions been a bit more cooler, I am sure that I would have been really close to the record... but it just wasn't meant to be.. this time.  Maybe Next Time?

Post Run with Eric Bohn (left) and Caleb Schiff (Right):
Photo by Ludo Pierson

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 20, 2012 - R2R2R Results -- Full Write Up to Follow

It was a BRUTAL day in the Canyon.  I battled +95 degree heat most of the day which led to massive cramping.  At the halfway point, I was around 3:19.. and on pace to break the record, but shortly before, the cramps had started.  The second half of the day was pretty rough, but I managed to get out in 7hrs 36min.

It's almost 24hrs later and I am still cramping.. CRAZY!!..

I will have a full write up in the coming days.. it was a wild day for sure.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 17, 2012 - NATRA Soulstice & Thought Coming into R2R2R.

NATRA Soulstice - As a tune-up leading into my Grand Canyon R2R2R FKT attempt, I decided to do a little "speedwork".  Every year, the Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association finishes it's running series with the Soulstice Race.  It's well known around town for being a tough trail course with a wicked party afterwards.  Since returning to Flagstaff nearly 6 years ago, I had yet to run the race.. so I figured it was time.  My thought was that it would be a good lead in to next weeks "big run".  

At the start line the attitude was pretty low key as toed the line.  All of us knew each other quite well and were ready to do battle on the frosty, rock covered course.  As expected, Chris Gomez (local fast guy), jumped out to a quick lead.  I stayed about 30sec behind him for the first 2 miles.  At that point, the course starts a pretty serious grade for about a mile.  At that point, I put in a surge to close the gap.. then pressed passed Chris to take the lead.  Before I knew it, I was about 30 seconds ahead and we were about through climbing.  On the next section, which is a fairly flat to rolling part of the course, I started running between 5:30min/mile & 5:45min/mile.  I figured at a minimum this would force anyone that wanted to catch me to at least "work".

As I rolled into Sunset Trail, which is about half-way, I knew I had a bit of lead, but I figured if I pressed hard, that I might squeeze out a course record.  As such, I worked the pace fairly steadily and I could see on my watch that it would be close.  With about 1mile left, I begain to pull back as I thought the finish was further out... oops.. I should know better than to shut it down like that!!!.. Unexpectedly, the finish was right in front of me and my watch read 1:09:42 as I crossed the line.. the record is 1:09:17.. guess that gives me something to shoot for next year..

Rim to Rim to Rim - Thoughts Coming In -  After a pretty good showing at Soulstice, I am extra excited about getting into the Canyon.  My training has been focused on Strength, but surprisingly my "speed" is not too bad, which should help with the "flat" sections between the North & South Rim.  The current record (FKT) is 6hrs 53min held by Dakota Jones.  I am hoping to set the pace closer to 6hrs 30min.. and see what I have towards the finish.  My guess is that coming into S.Kaibab for the finish is gonna be rough, so I hope to allow myself a little breathing room. 

My plan  - - (1) The run will be completely self-supported.  Everything I use, I plan on both packing in & packing out.  I plan to have a couple people pace me out from Phantom up S.Kaibab to the finish, but they will provide zero support.  (2) Another standard I plan to hold myself to is that once I start my watch it keeps running until I finish.  No "pauses" for bathroom breaks, mules, pictures, etc.. - - no exceptions. (3) I will start touching the SKaibab Kiosk.. run to the NKaibab Kiosk.. and run back to the SKaibab Kiosk.. 

After the run, I will have a full write up of the experience.  If I get the record, I will post my time on the website:

Should be fun!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

October 8, 2012 - Catchup & What's Up Next

Wow.. it's been way too long since my last post.. First things first, a little "catching up".... then I will jump into "what's next"...

"Catching up" - - After a July / August where mileage was my number one priority, I raced the Imogene Pass Run.  Coming into the race, my quality runs were not so "quality", but my base was VERY solid.  As such, I felt very strong throughout the race, but was unable to "breakthrough" with a fast race.  I ended up in 2nd Place Overall - - 1st in my age group (35-39).. and ran the course in 2hrs 18min.  This was fast enough for a new age group course recording breaking the previous record that stood for nearly 30 years..

After recovering from Imogene, I immediately stepped the miles back up, but migrated towards focusing a little less on mileage in exchange for some VERY long efforts (30+miles).

On back to back weekends I ran 33 and 36mile Canyon runs.  Both runs, I had to battle 100 degree temps, but came out strong.  On the 36miler, I ended up accumulating 10,000 feet of climbing and a TON of cramps over the past 4 miles.. This run definitely put me in the hole, but after focusing on "recovery" last week, I feel like I am "back".. and I was able to run a very solid San Francisco Peaks run last Saturday.

"What's Next" - Well, my training has been solid and I am feeling VERY confident about where I am at.  This whole summer and fall my focus is set on the North Face 50 Mile Championships on December 1st in San Francisco.  Before I get there, I have my sights set on a few other races...
  (1) Oct 13th - NATRA Soulstice Race
  (2) Oct 19th - R2R2R FKT attempt
  (3) Nov 10th - Bootlegger 50k ... then...
  (4) Dec 1st - NF 50 Mile Champs

It's gonna be a busy fall, but I am really looking forward to racing again.. just got to stay healthy.. and stay focused.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19, 2012 - Wild Week of Running

Well, it was a pretty wild week of running.  My total mileage crept up to 115miles.. On Thursday morning I ran into my first Flagstaff, Black Bear .. Saturday I dipped into the wicked hot Grand Canyon again for a 26 miler.. and finished the week with a 17miler in the rain around Mt. Elden. 

The Bear sighting was pretty sureal.  The sun was just coming up and I still felt half asleep.  I was only 3miles from my house on Elden Road (a popular dirt road for running, cycling, etc).  I heard some pretty heavy rustling in the leaves next to the road.  VERY slowly, I looked over and I see the back side of a young bear tearing through the forest.  After a 100yds of sprinting, the bear stops and starts to check me out.  I always figured I would see a bear while running in Flagstaff, as a decent number live in the area, but I always thought I would be a bit more scared.  As I ran past the curious bear, he just watched me.. and I watched him.. BeforeI knew it, I had run out of sight.. and he was well on his way.  Pretty cool.

Next up.. 26miles in the Grand Canyon.  In an attempt to beat the heat, Ace Baty and I decided to leave Flagstaff around 4am.  That got us started a bit before 6am. 

At the start of our run, it wasn't too hot, but about an hour after we got going, I could tell it was going to get rough.

I decided to run S.Kaibab to Tonto.. Across Tonto Trail to Indian Gardens.. Down Bright Angel to Phantom.. Then up Clear Creek Trail for about 2miles.. Head back to Phantom .. Then finish up the run with a trip up SKaibab to the Top.

I felt pretty solid all day, but in the back of my mind, I knew the heat was taking it's toll.. It was easily 100 degrees over the last 2hrs of my run.. As such, I was pounding the water and keeping the effort a bit subdued.  

As I cranked my way up the last climb, I felt really good until I was about 1/2 mile from Cedar Ridge.  At that point, the heat had gotten to me, so I pulled back and hiked for about a mile.  Once I felt "better", I started running again and finished off the day.  The run took about 4hrs.. while the last climb took me 1hr 28min.  This is about 17min slower than my fastest time, but honestly, it hurt and I was happy that I ran as fast as I did.

Finally.. a day after my Canyon effort, amazingly enough, I felt great.  I decided to go for an easy 17miler in the rain.  I was surprised how quickly I had recovered.  I felt great and finished the in a solid 2hrs. 

I am starting to feel really good about my next race.. Imogene Pass Run.  I feel like the strength is there.. now I just need to sharpen up the speed.. and speed-endurance.. but I know I am headed in the right direction..


Sunday, August 12, 2012

August 12, 2012 - Entering the Hot Box

To close out another 100mile week, I decided to take a trip the Grand Canyon.  Knowing it would be hot, Caleb Schiff and I were on the road right at 3:45am.. hoping to get started before 5:30am. 

The drive to the GC was like driving through a wildlife park.  We saw at least 50 deer and around 20 elk.  Each one, way to close to the road.  Hitting one of those guys is always my biggest fear in making this drive before sunrise. 

Thank goodness, we made it safely and were ready to go before 5:30am.  On the 1/2 mile run to the Rim, it was kind of cool.. but as we go to the start of the S.Kaibab descent, we could feel the heat radiating out of the giant ditch.  Right away, we knew we were going to be in for a HOT one.

It had rained the night before, so it was hot and humid.. on top of the "steam", there was quite a bit of early cloud cover that seemed to seal in heat.  This was one of those days where you not only had to be cautious, but there would be no room for a "major bonk" or you could get yourself in serious trouble.

I decided to press the descent and hammered my way down to the river in 50min 30sec.  At the bottom, there was quite a bit of shade since it was still early, so temperature wise it wasn't too bad. 

After a quick refill at Phantom, it was time to make the climb out.  As I started the ascent, my legs were a bit tired, so my focus was on staying steady.

As I grinded my way up past the Tonto Plateau, the sun started pressing down.  From Tonto to Cedar Ridge on these early morning runs, is the hottest section.  I kept the pace steady knowing that I had a waterbottle stashed at Skeleton Point.

As I cruised up the swithbacks, I made a quick stop to grab my waterbottle and was on my way out of the Hot Box.

Before I knew it, I was passing Cedar Ridge and I felt a nice breeze sweep past.  It felt AWESOME.  Since I was so drenched in sweat, I actually started feeling "cold" over the last mile or so... but it felt great. 

I ended up topping the Rim in 1hr 19min.  Not even close to my fastest time, but a very solid effort nonetheless... and to be honest, I was  just happy not to be swallowed up by the Canyon considering the heat. 

With all the miles I have been putting in, I have been happy with these "quality" runs.  It seems that my body is really adjusting to the increase in mileage and my hope is that over the next few weeks leading into Imogene.. things will come together.

Monday, August 6, 2012

August 6, 2012 - Training, Training, Training

Since my last post, I have been deep in training.  I have decided to change my training from my standard 6 week cycles to 3 week cycles.  By moving to these shorter cycles, I am hoping to increase my weekly mileage while maintaining quality runs.  My thought is the short breaks will allow me to recover and stay injury free.

With this model in mind, I dropped two 100+ mile weeks then followed that up with 126 miles.  Included in those miles are some speedwork and Long Trail Runs.  During that stretch my body held up really well, so for now that's what I am going to stick with it.

Over the next few weeks, I am looking at getting to the Canyon a couple times to hammer the climbs and work on beating up my legs a bit.  Really looking forward to those runs.

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 27, 2012 - Back in the Saddle Again

It has been WAY too long since my last post.. Before I get into what's coming up, I will quickly throw out what has been happening since my last post in May.

What have I been up to... Well, after the GC Single Crossing, I quickly moved my focus to the San Juan 50miler.  Coming into to the race, I felt I was pretty fit, but I was battling some wicked stomach issues.  Ultimately, the stomach issues did me in.  During the race, each time I took a drink or ate anything, I immediately got sick to my stomach and even puked a couple times.  This lead me to drop out around 20miles.  I was bummed, but I kept repeating.. "Live to fight another day". 

After that race, I took 2 weeks completely off from running.  I can't remember a time in the last 5 years when I have taken that much time completely off.  It was hard, but in hind sight, the right thing to do.  Since I took the time off, I am completely re-charged and running a TON.  For the past few weeks, I have been logging +100mile weeks including some solid workouts and long runs.  Things are headed in the right direction... just need to get the stomach stuff figured, which is in process.

What's coming up.. I decided to hold off racing all summer so I could spend more focused time with my family.  As such, my next race isn't until September 8th.  The Imogene Pass Run (  I am REALLY excited about this race.  A lot of people from Flagstaff make the trip out, so it ends up being a big reunion in the Colorado Rockies.  I ran this race in 2010 and got 2nd place.  If my training holds up, I should be able to improve on that... at least that's the plan.

After Imogene, I am going to get back in the Canyon again.  I am looking at going for a Rim to Rim to Rim record on Friday, October 19th.  After that run, it's back to training and then the North Face 50mile Championships on December 1st.

It should be an exciting Summer / Fall.. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 25th, 2012 - 2nd Annual Memorial Weekend Grand Canyon Single Crossing - NEW RECORD!!

Last year on Memorial Weekend was my first attempt at  GC Single Crossing record. Though I failed to hit the mark, my buddy Jared Scott had a solid day and lowered the 30 year old record previously held by Allyn Cureton by 37sec to 3hrs 6min 10sec. The whole experience was a blast.. so we decided to do it again...

That brings us to this year.....

Course:  We started from the N.Kaibab trail head  located at ~8,000 ft on N Rim.  This traildrop s us 4,800 ft to Cottonwood Campground in about 7miles.  From there, the Kaibab Trail guides you across the Canyon to Phantom Ranch and over the Colorado River.  During this section, you travel over a rolling 8miles that has a net drop of 1,100 feet which takes you through Phantom and across the Colorado River.  You then hit the S. Kaibab trail. This trail is about 7miles long and brings you up to the S Rim by climbing 4,800 feet. 

This year Jared and I were joined by Rob Krar and Ace Baty.  Rob ran the North to South route with us, while Ace ran the South to North version... By splitting the group, this saved us needing a "shuttle" driver and we were able to just swap vehicles.. - - BIG THANKS to Ace for agreeing to go the other direction!!!

As "race" time approached, admittedly, I was trying to think of a strategy that would give me an opportunity to win the day.  This was not easy.  Jared & Rob have been traveling all over the country crushing trail races and course records as they battle for the La Sportiva Cup.  Seriously, Google these guys'results.. they are killing it right now.

I am in pretty good shape, but I have been migrating my training towards building strength for the 50miles distance. My fear was that these guys were going to leave me as if I were standing still on the section from Cottonwood to S. Kaibab. - - So my plan was to make them work from the gun and hope that I could "out strength them". I also thought that if I could make them work the down hill hard enough that I might be able to bleed some of that speed out of their legs such that I could at least keep them in sight on the rolling / flat parts. Then it would come down to digging deep up S. Kaibab where I would hope to be able to close any gap before we got to the top.

Before we knew, it was time to run. After a quick warmup / stretch, etc, we were off right at 5:30am. I led Jared & Rob down the first few miles like the grand marshal of a parade - - nice & easy.  After the first mile or so, I said to myself.. "time to make it hurt", and I started accelerating down the rocky, sandy trail.  As I hopped over waterboards and slid around corners, I quickly put a 30second gap on Jared and Rob.  After about 3miles, I pulled back the reins just a hair so that I didn't blow my quads to pieces.  As such, Jared & Rob quickly closed the gap and 25min into the descent, Jared grabbed the lead.

From there, I pulled back just a bit more as I knew we were flying and it was just too early to go that fast. When I did that, Rob ripped by me.  No messing around today..we are running hard.

As I rolled into Cottonwood Campground, I can see Jared & Rob pulling out.. My watch says - - 46:20.  WOW!!..That's about 3min faster than I thought it would be.  (I learned after that Rob's split was 46:13 and Jared's even a little faster.)  I quickly refilled my water bottle.. now it was time to run... fast!

As we rolled our way towards the S.Rim, these guys gapped me worse than David Letterman's teeth.  Eventually, I lost sight of them around the constant twists and turns of the trail. I kept having to reassure myself that this run isn't decided until we start climbing S Kaibab.. so Don't Panic.. Just Run Hard!!

Since Garmin's don't work on most ofthe bottom section of the Canyon, I wasn't sure exactly what pace I was running, but it felt somewhere in the neighborhood of 6min/mile to 6:20min/mile. Plenty fast considering the climb we had coming up.  - - On some of the open sections, I would catch glimpses of Jared & Rob..Jared had a slight lead and they were both rolling!!..

As I got close to Phantom, I had gotten to a point where I was tired of dealing with a case of wicked stomach "pressure". I had been pushing through the discomfort, but as I rolled into Phantom, I was forced to make a pit stop in the restroom - - damn it!. This ends up costing me 2min total.. but it was worth it.  Afterwards, I felt awesome!.
After the pit stop and refilling my water bottle, I was in for another surprise.. Trail Maintenance and a Detour. Oh crap!!.. At this point, I am really hoping that the detour is short.  After quickly zipping through the detour, I am back on the main trail - - I don't think this cost us more than 30sec.. so not a big deal.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I look over the long view of the trail and hope to catch a glimpse of Jared & Rob...Sure enough, there they were working the lower sections of the climb. Jared still had a slight lead.. and they appeared to have about a 3min lead on me.  At that point, I am thinking that it's going to be a tough gap to close, but if I have a solid climb up S. Kaibab I will close the space quickly. 

As I approach the bridge, I see my old nemesis.. the Mule Train.  Thank goodness this was the only one we would see all day.  It cost me about 30seconds (talking with Rob &Jared afterwards - - it cost them about 90seconds).  Once again, not a big deal..

I came across the bridge and started the climb.  At this point, my watch read 1hr 39min 25sec, so my split for the 8mile section from Cottonwood to this point was 53min 4sec.  Consideringall the stops, I was happy with the time and I was starting to feel confident that I had a shot to break 3hrs.  I told myself.. "if I break 3hrs,... I should win".  So there it was.. Time to close that gap!  - - (Rob & Jared came through at 1hr 36min 37sec, split= 50min 24sec).

Steadily, I started pushing my way up S Kaibab.  Every now and then I would see Jared & Rob and each time they looked strong.  I couldn't believe how fast these guys were running.  I felt really solid, but I was working and I wasn't making up any time.   
Before I knew it, I was coming into the Midway switchbacks.  At this point, I could see Jared & Rob..not only were they getting closer, but both of them were hiking.  This gave me hope and belief that I may be able to catch these guys.  I started really hammering this section.  I was drooling.. spitting..growling.. I must have sounded like a wounded animal as I past the multitudes of hikers.. but I didn't care at this point, all I wanted was to gain some more ground.

As I came out of the Midway switchbacks onto Skeleton Point, I started to push the flattest section of the ascent. I couldn't see Rob, but I could see Jared and he seemed to be struggling. Since he is my bud, I was sad to see him fall off pace so drastically. I definitely wanted to catch him, but I was also hoping that he would go with me so we could push the last sections together.

Making up chunks of time, I passed Jared as we pushed towards Cedar Ridge which is about 1.5miles from the finish. I gave him the old "come on man" .. and he responded with a mellow, "looks like I blew my wod".. I asked him how far Rob was ahead and he said he thought he was at about 6min up.  What theF?!!!.. How did that happen?.. I thought maybe the heat was getting to Jared.. or Rob was simply crushing it.

As I hit Cedar Ridge, I looked at my watch and I knew if I ran solid the rest of the way, I would be under 3hrs. I kept the pace consistent and closed out the section with a solid pace.  Coming into the final switchbacks, I could hear Rob yelling and howling... Looking at my watch, I thought it might be close.. so I just started throwing down.  Once again, I was drooling.. spitting..and grunting.

Forcing my way to the kiosk, I touched the structure... and stopped my watch.  2hrs 58min 50sec.  (Split from the River = 1hr 19min 25sec.)  I had broken the previous record by over 7min!!.., but I was over 7min off of Rob's new record of 2hrs 51min 28sec.   Jared finished shortly after I did in a time of 3hrs 3min10sec (3min faster than the previous record!!)

As Rob told me his time, I just shook my head.... that is FAST!!!..  2hrs 51min 28sec.. WOW!!

Sitting at the kiosk, covered in dust& sweat, we looked back over to the North Rim across the very trail we had just run.  The view was amazing.  Then, glowing with sense of accomplishment, we congratulated each other and walked our way back to Ace's vehicle.  What an amazing day.

Splits - Jason
NRim to Cottonwood        46min 20sec
Cottonwood to River         53min 4sec
River to SRim                   1hr 19min 25sec
Total Time                        2hrs 58min 50sec

Splits - Rob (Record Splits)
NRim to Cottonwood        46min 13sec
Cottonwood to River        50min 24sec
River to SRim                  1hr 14min 51sec
Total Time                       2hrs 51min 28sec

Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30, 2012 - Leona Divide 50miler Race Report

6am. Time to race. The start line is covered with a number of recognizable faces. Tim Olsen, Dylan Bowman, Jorge Maravilla, Jason Schlarb, Seth Wold, Jamil Curry, James Bonnet, Jorge Pacheco.. to name a few.. As the horn goes off, we make our way up a quick climb and within a few hundred meters it was obvious that there would be 2 groups.. one going a bit fast and another that would chase.

After a few miles, the front group consisted of about 4 guys and about 2min behind was a every big name in the race maintaining a solid pace and keeping us in range. We were dropping 6:15min/mile at this point pretty consistently and I was starting to wondering if I was going out to hard. Every time the thought entered my head, I did a sanity check, and each time concluded... "it feels easy, so go with it".

Around 10miles, we hopped onto the Single Track and things started rolling. I took the lead on the first small climb, but it didn't last for long. Between miles 10 and 16, I am not sure how many lead changes occurred, but I can remember going from 1st to 5th back to 2nd.. etc numerous times. We were "scrapping it out" and if you took a breather you were gonna get passed.

Coming into the Mile 16 Aid Station, it was myself, Maravilla & Bowman. My plan all along was to come out of this Aid Station and charge the ensuing climb... so that's what I did. Before I knew it, I had a decent lead.. maybe 90 seconds. Once I topped the climbed, I snaked across the single track keeping a solid 6:30min/mile pace. Around this point (~25miles), I calculated my overall pace was around 6:30/mile avg pace and I was feeling AWESOME.

At this point, my only concern was a waterbottle "malfunction". For some reason, my bottle was leaking so much that within 5min of leaving an aid station, my bottle was empty. Considering how HOT it was (+80degrees), I was a bit concerned, but I tried to compensate by drinking a bit extra at the aid stations. What else could I do??

As I rolled into a steep down section and into the turnaround, I was still feeling very solid. When I turned around, I was excited to see how much of a lead I had on the rest of the field. I saw that Dylan Bowman was about 90sec back... Maravilla was about 5min back.... Tim Olsen was about 8min back.. and Jason Schlarb was about 11min back.

I worked this climb pretty well. Nothing too crazy, but my hope was to add to my lead coming back into the single track.

When I topped the climb, I hopped onto the single track and was ready to let it loose a bit. About 100 meters into this section, I snagged a root or rock???.. and almost fell, but caught myself. As I did this, my right calf & hamstring CRAMPED like crazy!!.. I mean it locked-up completely. I had to stop for about 3min and Stretch / Walk / Stretch.. I can only guess it was related to not getting enough fluids thanks to a "faulty" water bottle. During that time, Dylan passed me and was quickly out of sight.

I was CRUSHED!!.. For the past 10 plus miles, I felt I was on my way to a "win"... now I was just hoping I could finish. Man, I was bummed, but I pressed ahead.

Before I knew it, I thought I was feeling better.. so I pushed the pace a little.. and sure enough I locked up again.. I went through this cycle 2 more times before I concluded that I could no longer "push". During this stretch, Maravilla whipped by me like I was standing still. If I wanted to finish, I was going to have to find a pace that was slow enough that I wouldn't lock up... and hope it would be fast enough to hold off the rest of the competition.

The 10miles after my first cramping episode turned into a mental grind. I tried to keep my pace around 8min/mile as that seemed to be the "sweet spot" where I wouldn't lock up.. anything faster and I could feel the "grab" start in my hamstring and calf.

At mile 43, we started the final big climb, and after a few switchbacks, I see the flowing locks of Tim Olsen. Damn it. He was closing.. and closing fast. At this point, I decided to pick it up and hope for the best. After numerous switch backs, I had kept Tim consistently around 90sec behind, but I was running dangerously close to another cramping episode.

I came to the top and now only had ~3.5miles to go. I put it in cruise control and hoped for the best. Before I knew it, I saw Maravilla and I was closing on him quickly. At around 3miles to go, I had passed Maravilla.. I couldn't see Olsen.. and I am thinking, I am going to pull off 2nd place.

Unfortunately for me, that thought didn't last long. At around 2miles to go, I look down at my Garmin and I am running 6:20min/mile pace... I can also hear some heaving footsteps beating down the service road.. It's Maravilla and Olsen and they are ROLLING!!.. My legs are already on the cusp of full blown cramps, so any hopes of "going with them" is unrealistic. They pass me and quickly start putting time on me. (After the race, I found out they were running 5:20min/mile pace!!! - - ridiculous!!)

As I roll the final mile into the finish, I am content with my performance.. but a little upset at the outcome.. Not because of my placing, etc.. but because I felt I had a lot faster race in me, but that's just how it goes some times... The positive thing is that I am already looking forward to the next one.. Only 8 weeks until San Juan 50. I can't wait!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 24, 2012 – Cramming for the Final - - Leona Divide this weekend

Since my last post, my training has been pretty solid.  I am planning on racing the Leona Divide 50miler this weekend and even though my training was spotty this winter, over the past 6 weeks I feel like things have really come together.

Last week, I pulled back on the “easy” day runs, but kept up the intensity with a Tuesday night Team Run Flagstaff track workout followed up by a Friday evening 21miler on the A1 Route.  I was especially pleased with the A1 effort.  I was able to keep the first 7miles at a steady 6:45min/mile.  At that point, I dropped the pace and put more into the run.  For the final 14miles, I averaged 6:03min/mile.  This was a real confidence builder leading into this Saturday and hopefully a good indication that things will come together just in time for a solid race.      

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1, 2012 – Catching Up + Solid Week 3 of Spring Ultra Training

Catching Up - - Well, I haven’t posted in a while.. so really quickly I thought I would through out what has been happening over the past month leading into last week.

After a period in February where I would get sick.. then get healthy.. then get sick again (I repeated that cycle a few times).. I decided I would take some time off to get back to 100%.. After 8 days of no running, I started back fairly easy getting in about 70miles my 1st week and 75miles the next.  Both weeks ended with a long run, where I crashed and burned. 

The first was a 21miler on A1 road.  I got about 12miles into the run and completely ran out of energy.. I ended up stumbling at 8 to 9min /mile pace over the last 9miles, and eventually I made it to the finish. 

The next weekend, I teamed up with Jason Louttit (a solid ultra runner from Canada training in Flagstaff for the World 100k champs in April).  We ran a 33miler in the Canyon.. S. Kaibab to the Cottonwood campground at the base of the N.Rim.  All was going well most the day.  I felt really good / relaxed until about the 3hr mark. At that point we were digging into the climb up S.Kaibab and I just ran out of gas.  I pushed through it for a while, but eventually had to resort to hiking.. The last 3miles seem to take forever.. but once again, I made it to the finish.

So at the end of Week 2, I am healthy and I feel as if I am slowly headed in a positive direction.

Week 3 of Training - - At the start of the week, my legs were just coming around from the Long Run in the Canyon.  By Tuesday, I was ready for the Team Run Flagstaff “Tuesday Night Track Workout”.  This is a really cool gathering of all sorts of runners.  For me, it’s nice to be running with so much company, since I seem to run most of my miles either solo or in very small groups.  Also, the workouts just have a great vibe about them that is just fun to be around.

The workout went very well.  I felt strong.. and recovered quickly.  Both good signs.

Thursday I did some Hill Repeats to keep the legs sharp and once again.. I felt pretty solid which was a good sign heading into a Saturday Long Run.

Saturday came and I was hoping to really put my body to the test.  I met up with Eric Bohn and Jared Scott.  Eric & I ended up running down S.Kaibab across Tonto to Indian Gardens.  From there, we went down Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch.  We stayed on the Kaibab Trail heading North til we got to the Clear Creek Trail.  At that point, we ran about 2miles out on the Clear Creek Trail and then came back to Phantom Ranch.  To finish the day up, we ran the up S.Kaibab and back to the car.  This ended up being about 30miles. 

The run went awesome.  It was very hot, but we took our time at the water stops making sure to take in plenty of fluid.  Towards the end of the run, I kept waiting to fade a little, but it never happened.  I was able to hold a steady pace all the way through the finish.. It was the best I have felt since last August.  The most encouraging part was that I did this despite running over 100miles in the previous 7 days.  After this run, I am really excited about the training / racing coming up..

So this week, I not only “made it to the finish”.. I came through the finish smiling.. and looking forward to next week…

Sunday, February 26, 2012

February 26, 2012 - Getting things Going / Elden Up Over & Back

Getting Things Going: The focus for the week was to get healthy. As such, I kept the running very mellow... 30min / day Monday through Friday. It definitely paid off. By the time Friday came around, my energy was still a bit low, but I felt solid enough to commit to a Long Run on Saturday.

Elden Up Over & Back
The Route: Up Mount Elden Road (~2,500ft of climbing up forest service type road)... then down Mt Elden Lookout Trail (~2,500 descent down rocky single track). Once I get to the bottom, I just have to turn around and do it in reverse. This route is about 18miles + I would tack on 3miles in total since I was starting from my house.

I was lucky enough to have some company for the run... Brian Tinder (coming off his Sedona Marathon victory) and Eric Bohn (coming off his 2nd Place Finish at the Moab 55k). Both these guys are running really strong right now, so the plan was to just let these guys pull me along.

We started the run at my house and completed the 1.5mile warmup to the "Elden Road Gate" in 10min. Then the climb started. We kept the pace conversational. The weather was warming up quickly as such the ice towards the bottom was already getting slushy.

Pushing our way up the mountain, we skimmed across giant sheets of ice and crunchy snow. When we got to the top, we were greeted with gusts of wind that had to be in the 50 to 60mph range. Pretty knarly. We got to the top in 50:30. Not too bad considering the conditions.

We "Gel -ed Up" and made our way down Elden Lookout trail navigating the post holes and deep snow / ice for at least the first mile. At that point, conditions were clear except for the occasional ice patch. We hopped over the rocks and roots.. before we knew it, we had made it to the Elden Lookout Trail head in 37:45.

Once again, we through down some gels and peered back towards the trail we just descended... back up we go. At this point, I could really feel my energy lagging. My guess was that my body was still recovering from being ill for nearly 2 weeks. Despite how easy the first half felt, this run might turn into a real dogfight..

As we grinded our way up the Mountain, I had no pop in my legs and I had the kind of tired feeling that radiated over my entire body. I was gassed. I decided to pull back a bit at that point and not push too hard. After making that decision, Eric & Brian quickly closed the gap and we went most of the way within 30seconds of each other. As we neared the top, Eric hopped by me and pushed through the snowy / icy sections. I just tried to stay with him and before I knew it we were at the top in 44:41.

At the top, I started getting a lot of cramping in calves.. which worried me a little, but after a mile of running with caution down the road, my body seemed to rally and I was fine the rest of the day.

Other than the near slips on the ice, the descent was very mellow and uneventful. We got to the gate in 43:00... and then cooldown to my house in about 11min.

The total run was 3:17:17. Considering where I have been over the past couple weeks... A perfect day.

Eric Bohn Enjoying the Cool Breeze at the Top of Mt Elden

Some of the Wildlife at the Top (Brian Tinder)

The View of the Dry Southside

The San Francisco Peaks from Elden


Sunday, February 19, 2012

February 19, 2012 - The Moab 55k That Never Happened

Coming in to Moab I was worried about my fitness, but what ultimately did me in was a nasty sore throat and fever. After feeling a bitt off Friday morning, I made the decision to head to Moab and hope that things would turn around. Not only did I not start feeling better, I actually made a turn for the worst.

Despite how I was feeling Friday night, I held out hope that a good nights sleep would cure things and that I would be able to tough the race out.

Saturday morning came and I felt horrible. I decided to prepare as if I was going to race and make the go or no-go decision after my warmup. Five minutes into my warmup, I was absolutely exhausted and struggling to catch my breath. That was it.... I wasn't racing.

When I wasn't sleeping in my car, I popped out and tried to support the folks that did run. I also made a quick stop at the Moab Hospital and got some antibiotics. My hope is that I can get this sick stuff turned around soon and get back to running. It was hard to drive the almost 6hrs to race and then pull-out, but I know it was the right / smart thing to do. Now to get healthy.. then.. get in shape.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

February 16, 2012 - Pre Moab Thoughts

Well.. only 2days out from Moab 55k. I am really looking forward to the trip and the chance to hang out with the Flag Running crew.. As for the race, I have just about the lowest expectations that I have had in nearly 3 years. My mileage has been VERY low.. my consistency has been questionable.. my stress levels have been off the charts the past few weeks due to work.. and I have a bit of a cold that I am just about all the over (thank goodness!)... The only positive thing about my training has been my consistent Saturday Long Runs. I have managed running at least 20miles each Saturday for the past 7 weeks...

So what does that mean for Saturday???.. Your guess is as good as mine. My goal is to "just go for a run" and finish. Pretty simple and it should be attainable. My plan after this weekend is to draw a line in the sand and get back to a solid schedule. Originally, I had some big plans for April & June, so to meet those I am going to have to get it going soon. No better time than next week.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 13, 2012 - Consistent Week.. Phoenix Run.. & a Science Experiment

Consistent Week
For the first time in about a month, I was able to complete a "consistent" week of running. Still feeling off, but I am happy to be heading in the right direction. My mileage was still WAY under the 90miles/week I would like to be running right now, but at this point, I will take what I can get.

Phoenix Run
After some solid running, I finished the week with a 20miler in Phoenix on the Black Canyon Trail System in North Phoenix. I was considering running in the Agassiz Uphill race the same day, but due to some rental property issues, I had to take a trip down the hill.. thus a long run on single track was a great substitute.

I started my run at the Rock Springs exit off of I-17. It was around 8am and already in the mid-60s. According to the forecast, the temps were going to reach near 80 degrees. That is hot for me this time of year... but a nice change of pace from wearing hat & gloves.

I wound my way through the rocky, rolling single track for a total of 10miles. My goal was to scout a route up to the top of Crown King (the highest point on the trail system). After around 1hr 20min of running & navigating, I ended up taking a "closed" road that took me to the base of the mountains and dead ended. I contemplated scrambling up towards the top, but besides being low on water.. I was in the middle of now where and I started having visions of the movie 127 hours.

Instead of "forcing" my way up the rocky, cactus covered mountain, I decided to turn back and push the pace on the 10mile return route.

I had been dead-legged all day, but something really kicked in around 2hours. I felt great. Maybe it was the heat melting my brain.. but I felts as if I was floating over the rocky curvy terrain. Before I knew it, I was back in the middle of civilization and chugging a milk-jug of water. Not a bad day.

Science Experiment:
The final day of running for the week was related to a science experiment my 3rd grader had designed for school. It was called "Heavy Running" and his hypothesis was that running with added weight would slow you down. Seemed logical enough to me. So me, my wife, and my oldest son strapped a backpack to our back and ran 100m intervals. The first time with no weight, the second time with 5lbs, the 3rd time with 10lbs, and the 4th time with 15lbs. Leading up to the fourth and final leg, the hypothesis seemed to hold true. On the fourth run, everyone ran slower except me. In all honesty, I ran as hard as I could and ended up running my fastest split. We tried to keep our effort even, but I think the motivation of proving I could run "fast" with 15lbs on my back overcame the drag created by the extra weight.

All in all it was a good week. Next week I am hoping to keep things going and head into Moab with legs that are ready to run.

View of Crown King from the Start

Let's get it started!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February 07, 2012 - Rough Week.. Then a Struggle with the Canyon

Coming off a solid weekend where I ran 25miles (3.5hrs) in the Canyon on Saturday and 18miles on a mix of trails & roads on Sunday, I was feeling really good about where my training was going. Then came Monday. Despite traveling for work, I managed a solid 10miler on single track on the Black Canyon Trails in Phoenix, but honestly, I just didn't feel quite right. As the week wore on, my schedule ramped up at work (along with my stress levels) so my running really took a nose dive. Not only did I feel to physically tired to run, but mentally, I just didn't have it. That's just not like me.. but I guess it happens.

Leading up to my Saturday run in the Canyon, my weekly mileage was at a pathetic 23miles. Funny thing is, I felt like I had put in 120miles of hard running.. I was tired.

Saturday morning came and I ended up meeting up with a couple of my running buds - - Erin Hutchinson (one of the original Canyon Runners) & Ace Baty (a wild man who is known for his epic solo adventures). We met up with Jared Scott at the Canyon and start dropping down S. Kaibab as the sun started to come up. The first 1/2 mile was wicked slick, but after that the trail was only icy in spots. As such, we kept the pace very conservative and just "shot the breeze".

Excluding a couple flat sections, we kept the pace really mellow and ending up hitting the River in about 57min. Not a bad time considering we had it in cruise most of the way.

At that point, we started to split up.. Erin turned back for the Rim, while Ace, Jared, & I headed for Phantom. On the run over to Phantom, I knew I was in for a long climb out. My legs were heavy and my energy felt low. At that point, I decided to shoot for running in the neighborhood of 75min from the River to the Rim. My thought was that if I could run that pace feeling like I do today, I should be able to run that almost any time.

Before I knew it, we had our water bottles refilled.. gels consumed.. and we were on our way back up. Right out of the gate, I knew that I wouldn't see much of Jared. He had quickly taken the form of a mountain goat and was flying up the steep climb as if it was an escalator. I had chosen a more cautious approach and was simply dropping into "grind mode". I knew I was going to be battling just to keep a solid pace, so I just started grinding out the miles.

Most of the run was a blur excluding the stops for the mule trains. I kept my effort constant and my pace seemed to follow. As I pushed up the final few steps, I looked at my watch and saw 1:15:03. Considering both my mental and physical states.. I'll take it.

What now???.. My goal over the next few weeks is to get things going. I am trying not to put too much pressure on my training.. but at the same time trying to focus on "just running". My hope is that work will subside a bit over the next 4 to 6 weeks and I will be able to get a little better balance with the training. Time will tell.. until then.. "just run"..