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.