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…