Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Friday, April 30, 2010

14 myles - 1.36:06

Daniels Park - 6:00 A.M.
30s, windy, partly cloudy
mind/body - good
easy effort

Another stellar run! I woke up about 5 AM and could not go back to sleep so I drank my coffee and headed out the door. I was filled with positive energy while I clipped along at a 6:51 pace. The nice part is that it felt effortless! I went out in 49:07 (mostly uphill) and came back quicker cause of the downhills. I would say Zane Grey finally killed that bug that lived inside me for the better part of two weeks.

Check out these links from Zane Grey. One of me finishing, one crossing a creek, and a couple pics.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

11 myles - 1.13:54

Coyote Ridge - 7:00 A.M.
30s, misty/slush, dry trail
mind/body - really good
easy effort

For the first time in 3 weeks I've had some zip to my legs - I really felt good! 6:43 avg. with the last mile in 6:27. Andy says he's gonna beat me in Pokey (all in good fun) so I've gotta step it up for the next 3 weeks.

I read a very good article in Running Times last night in regards to nutrition and, in particular, teaching your body to burn fat. The credible part of the article is that it referenced Meb as taking on this strategy for 3-4 weeks. The article makes 3 points: 1) skip the gels for training runs up to 20 myles 2) Schedule two workouts per week before breakfast 3) Do a depleted double; meaning do a morning workout w/o carbs, don't refuel on carbs alone, then do a second high intensity workout later in the day. The big take away for me was to do runs in the morning when no carbs are on board and use what's left of the liver glycogen. Today I tried that. I noticed a change at the 45 minute mark when I started to feel fatigued, then at the hour mark energy started to pick up again. My take is that I ran completely out of liver glycogen, my body shifted gears and found another source of energy that I was able to finish on. The question is, what was the source? If it was some residual fat in my blood then that's good. Now I've gotta try it again and see if I come up with the same thing but go a little longer and see how long it lasts.

Last, you gotta read this blog post from Ian Torrence. He does a great job in his explanation of the course, you actually feel like you ran it after reading. Click on the hyperlinks for the locust and manzanita - you'll get the idea of "nasty overgrowth"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

12.2 myles - 1.26:45

Grigs/Lone Tree - 4:30 P.M.
60s, clear, dry
mind/body - good
easy effort

Actually two runs today: 6 myles this morning in 43:21 and 6.2 myles this afternoon in 43:24. I didn't run either Sunday or Monday so I made up for it today and my legs feel great! I say it's time to step up the training volume. I've been hovering around 60 myles/week and quite frankly that's not gonna cut it come HR time. Having said that, my high mileage weeks have only been around 80 myles in years past but I think I need to change it up a bit. I see a bunch of guys doing 100 mile weeks and consistently turn in great results, what would happen if I turned up the notch on the volume? I think I'm gonna give it a go, not every week, but maybe every 4th week hit 100 and see how I feel.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Zane Grey 50 mile 9.40 - 1st

My goals going into ZG were two fold: go under 9 hours and not get lost.... I didn't meet either of those goals. I'm OK with that because in the end I had a great time not only during the race but before and after as well. I think the best part of finishing an ultra is the after race ultra camaraderie. Catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, and hearing all the stories from the day. Common theme this year was comparing scratches on the legs from all the overgrowth and the status of Karl Meltzer's broken arm. Here's how my day played out:

I can usually tell during warm up and through the early myles of the race how my body is going to respond and I could tell that I didn't have the normal "zing" in my legs on this day. Not deterred, Karl and I took on a very aggressive pace through the first aid station at mile 8. I had wanted to be there around 1.18 and when Karl told me 1.11 I thought "Wow maybe my legs feel better than I thought". I had to ask Karl for the time because my watch broke the night before so I was totally blind as far as time. After the race I had learned that we had nearly a 10 minute lead on the next chase pack only 8 myles into the race.

Leaving the first aid station is a little uphill grind and up to this point Karl had led so I decided to take the lead and test the legs further. A few myles into this section I had a very small gap on Karl when we came to our first wash out, sure enough coming out of the wash we lost the trail. We searched for about 3 minutes when Karl finally sniffed it out. Up to this point a common theme was starting to shape up; on the technical downs Karl would blast down and easily put 20 seconds on me but when it came to the uphill I would close the gap. So we yo-yoed all the way through mile 17 aid station. I have to say Karl is a downhill master! That man is so smooth. A couple times I got too close which caused me to watch his feet and stumble all over myself.

Leaving mile 17 aid we started a mild uphill that lead us into the nastiest trail infested with rocks, tufts of grass, hidden rocks, over growth with thorn bushes, and oh did I mention rocks - BIG rocks that moved. Well I took my time making sure I didn't twist an ankle and Karl disappeared, within minutes, just disappeared. By the time we got to mile 25 aid Karl had made 4 minutes on me. Legs were still responding but like I said before no zip to them. The sections where I could use some leg speed I was only able to maintain a steady pace. And that's what it turned out to be all day - steady.

Most overgrowth you can run through and push out of the way, not at Zane Grey, those bushes push back and knock you off the trail. And every bush out there in the high desert has thorns. By mile 25 I learned to hop over or scoot around those bushes as much as I could but still came away with some shredded legs, as did everyone else. The worst I saw was Diana Finkel who had got lost and bushwhacked her way back up to the trail through a field of those thorn bushes, man she was cut up!

I arrive at mile 33 aid where my friends Johnny and Kathy Darnold are there to meet me. They have my bottle full of EFS and a fresh flask of EFS liquid shot. They inform me that Karl left 12 minutes ago... I was shocked! I thought I was going good and maybe 5 minutes at the most but 12!?! Karl must be warming up I thought. Anyway I put my head down and just kept running. The trail was marked very well but trying to keep your eye on the trail and rocks while looking for yellow markers is risky business. Probably about mile 36 I get to a jeep road where out of the corner of my eye I see a yellow marker to my right so I instinctively go right. As I'm on this road going down for about 5 minutes I realize I hadn't seen a marker or Karl's foot print in the sand. Back up the road I go and laugh when I get to the intersection because there were plenty of markers going left - the correct direction. Not more than 10 minutes later I shoot down another wrong ravine (must of had down on the mind) and when the game trail fizzled out 5 minutes later I huffed it back up to where I went wrong and laughed again. You gotta laugh right?? So a total of 20 minutes out of the way and I was sure someone passed while I was gallivanting. Nope.

From mile 33 to 44 is a long one, usually about 2 hours, where I ended up taking 2 hours 40 minutes. All along the course there were radio operators that were checking numbers (very nice touch Joe) and when I got to a radio operator about 5 myles outside the next aid he mentioned Karl fell and thought he broke his arm. With my detours I estimated Karl was about 45 minutes up on me. I got to the 44 aid and sure enough Karl was there with a very deformed looking arm "you alright?" "Yeah I'm fine, just broke my arm that's all - see" He thought about walking it in but I'm guessing the endorphins started to wear off and the pain kicked in. Feel bad for Karl because he was well on his way to victory. Recover quick Karl!

At this point, 44 myles into the race, I am still feeling very steady and pretty much running every thing except the hill right out of the last aid station. Once over the last hill there is about 5 myles to go and it's really fun running, in and out of canyons, nothing to steep up or down. I really was enjoying myself. And as I mentioned before I didn't have a watch so I had no idea what kind of time I would clock. I rounded the final corner and saw 9.40:xx and my first thought was "Wow that's slow". And I say that with all due respect to the other runners, I was just expected something faster.

Now as I reflect on the race, I am completely happy and honored to be the winner of such a prestigious race! This course is not easy (that's the lure) and it's not getting any easier. I will be back for sure. I love the ruggedness of the trail and the primitive nature of the course but more importantly this race is run by a first class organization so my hats off to Joe Galope and his crew, well done. I would like to thank WMRC for taking me before the race and making me feel like family. Would also like to thank Johnny and Kathy Darnold, my friends, drove all the way Alamogordo, NM to see me race and help crew. Last I would like to dedicate this win to Mark Cosmas who lost a child last week and has been such an integral part of the ultra community down there in Phoenix. Like my purple wrist band said "This one's for you Mark!"

Here are my splits:
Geronimo 8 - 1.11
Wash Park 17 - 2.47
Hell's Gate 25 - 3.58
Fish Hatch 33 - 5.43
See canyon 44 - 8.21
Finish - 9.40

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quick Update

I've been here in Arizona for the past week working while managing to get out a few times for some runs. On Wednesday, Kevin Higgins from WMRC invited me out to an early morning run over at Phoenix Mountain Preserve, probably about 20 showed up at 5:15 A.M., ran about 6 myles in a hour. Thanks Kevin, great group! Later that day I got out again on some well established trails at McDowell Mountain Preserve for another 5 myles. Today from the hotel I went straight up Camelback mountain via Cholla trail for another hour run. I can't imagine Zane Grey has any more rocks than on the ridge of Camelback. I ended up rolling my ankle a bit coming down without going fast at all, pretty nasty stuff but good prep for the race.

I finally feel like I've made it through this sickness, although I still have a little cough, I should be fine. My goal for Zane is two fold; not get lost and get under 9 hours. I spoke to a bunch of people on Wednesday who had done some trail marking and although there is a ton of downed trees, they have cleared a bunch off the trail. In addition, they feel the trail is well marked so that gave me a vote of confidence. We'll see how it goes...

Monday, April 19, 2010

7 myles - 55:47

Matthews/Winters - 3:00 P.M.
60s, dry, clear
mind/body - OK
easy effort

Didn't feel the best today but my time sure was better than a week ago - 0:55 vs. 1.02. I'm guessing this route over the hog back is pretty similar to what I'll find at ZG, maybe not exactly, but rocks everywhere. I'm heading out to AZ in the morning and hope to get out a couple times, once with WMRC crew on Wednesday and then again on Thursday afternoon to do a little recon on the course. Karl put up his odds and I like where I'm sitting... he'll be my tour guide so I don't get lost. Karl says he has a trick up his sleeve, hmmm.... wonder what that could be? Whatever it is - I want some of that trickery!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

10 myles - 1.10:43

HR urban trails + hill sprints - noon
40s, raining, muddy
mind/body - just OK
Hard effort

First time I really used the lungs in about 3 weeks time and I have to admit - it hurt! Not only that but my times on the hill sprints were slower than usual so that tells me I'm still recovering from that dreadful bug. Usually on this hill (350 meters and 10% grade) I will hit between 1:02 - 1:05 with my fastest being 0:58. Today: 1:08, 1:06, 1:06, 1:08, 1:08, and 1:06. I'm coming around but it can't come fast enough... I just watched a video that was taken on the ZG course a couple weeks ago... fun. But it's gonna test every bit of my lungs and legs.

Friday, April 16, 2010

13 myles - 1.47:47

Deer Creek - noon
50s, mostly dry, some snow
mind/body - good and steady
easy effort

Another good outing with rocky trails and elevation. I hate to say how much elevation because it all seems to vary depending upon the device used. For instance, when I mapped out Mt Falcon on "Map My Run" it gave total ascent 2093 ft for an entire loop. I've always thought it was closer to 3500 ft. Anyone know for sure? The map for Deer Creek has 3420 ft elevation gain for the loop, which seems about right. But I highly doubt Deer Creek has more than Mt Falcon.

So for what it's worth, all training runs this week had some climbing in it and I feel so much better with the gombu gone. NOW I'm starting to get excited about Zane Grey!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

8 myles - 1.00:24

Rampart Range road - 5:00 P.M.
50, raining, somewhat dry road
mind/body - good
easy effort

I drove down to the Springs to meet up with the CRUD group but I was late so I was left to find my own way. I only knew Rampart range road so I went up 4 myles and just turned around to come down the road. About 1200 ft of elevation gain up the road (5.5% grade) so it was a little more than just an easy effort but certainly not hard - 8:07 pace up. The CRUD group uses Rampart as their Thursday tempo run until Barr is clear of ice - can't wait for that!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

14 myles - 2.03:54

Mt. Falcon v1.0 - nooner
50s, blue bird day, some snow
mind/body - mostly good
Hard effort

NOW I can say HR training has officially started. "Officially" cause I made my first appearance at Falcon today. I really had no expectations to go under 2 hours because a) I'm coming off a cold and b) there are still snow drifts on the North sides of the trail. Although I will tell you I was pleasantly surprised after I compared splits from last year, I was within a minute and 1/2 from last year's times at the end of Parmalee before the snow started. I think I may go back to Falcon on Saturday for good measure. Here are my splits for those who know Falcon:

End Turkey Trot up - 17:40
Shelter - 29:51
Start Parmalee - 51:01
End Parmalee - 1.09:58
End Old Ute - 1.36:02
Start Turkey Trot down - 1.50:18
Bench - 2.03:54 (last year's fastest times 1.58:55, 1.58:01)

If you're looking to get to Falcon and try a proper full loop v1.0 here is my course: Up Turkey Trot, take a right onto Castle Trail to the shelter, take a right at the shelter out/back Walkers Dream, bypass the shelter and out/back Two Dog, take Castle trail to the top, take a left to start Parmalee, at the end of Parmalee take a left on Tower Trail to the top of Mt Falcon, down the other side on Meadow trail, loop Old Ute and Devil's Elbow, when you pop out you will cut across the Meadow trail to hook back up with the Castle trail where you will take a right to go down, no Two Dog or Walkers Dream on the way down, just straight down Castle trail, left on Turkey Trot, finish at the bench. Got that!?!?

Don't know what that line is jetting out at the start/finish??

Here's a fuzzy picture as well

Monday, April 12, 2010

8 myles - 53:06

HR urban trails
50s, overcast, dry
mind/body - gombu on it's last leg
Hard effort

I haven't done anything of quality over the last 3 weeks so I thought I'd ease back into it as this nasty bug leaves me. I ended up with a progression run, which is basically getting faster as the run progresses. I was pleasantly surprised to feel comfortable for the final myles, here are the splits: 7:06, 7:00, 6:58, 6:51, 6:40, 6:27, 6:10, and 5:54. The course is rolling hills on road and single track with about 500ft of climbing so it was hard to judge tempo. It's nice to know I still have a lil' speed left in the legs.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

8 myles - 1.04:45

Coyote Ridge - 8:00 A.M.
40s, clear, dry
mind/body - better but still coughing
easy effort

Well... I didn't feel as bad today as the past week so I assume this gunk is on it's way out. To my surprise this morning my legs were a little stiff from all the up and down yesterday. Not that it was a lot but it's more than I'm used to. Got out this morning with my brother in law Wade who was in town visiting. We did a nice, easy, modified loop on my normal home route. I think Wade enjoyed himself, thanks for joining me brother. Since I have not done any quality stuff all week I decided to turn it up a notch for the final mile - 6:27 and breathing easy.

With only 52 myles this week, certainly not what I was looking for in prep for ZG but I'm happy to make it through this gombu. Next week will have to be a lot of fine tuning by getting some leg turn over and interval work uphill.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

20 myles - 3.40

Boulder - 7:00 A.M.
50s, clear, mostly dry except ice on upper trails
mind/body - getting better
easy effort

Don't ask me the names of any of the trails we went on today beyond Mt. Sanitas and Red Rocks (Anemone?) because there were way too many trail junctions to remember.

Josh Brimhall is in town visiting friends while Nick Clark drove up from Ft. Collins so the proverbial middle would be Boulder. I've been on the trails in Boulder the most out of the three of us (a whopping 4 times) so I was assigned tour guide... I don't think these guys remember I missed a couple turns at a race a few weeks ago, do they? At any rate we managed to make our way round but there were lots of stops along the way. And if we weren't stopping to look at maps, we were tip-toeing our way down rock solid ice. I guess what I'm saying is that we essentially had no rhythm all day, the times we did it was comfortable and good conversation (except the climbing where I was just trying to hang on to those two). A total of 5500 ft of climbing with good company on a great spring day here in Colorado so how could I complain. Thanks for run guys! Look forward to many more.

On a side note, Geoff Roes won AR 50 today in a time of 5.49 with Andy Henshaw (Colorado Springs) close behind in 5.56 and rounding out the top 3 was Max King in 6.01. I'm telling you Andy Henshaw is fit and one to watch this year! Congrats guys!

Andy Henshaw in the lead at Beals Point

Friday, April 9, 2010

7 myles - 54:38

Mt. Sanitas - 3:00 P.M.
70s, clear, dry
mind/body - This gombu is kickin my ASS!
easy effort

I keep thinking tomorrow is the day when I break through but late last night I spiked a fever and thought it was the violent end to this nasty bug... Nope. The good thing about the run today is that I didn't die and made it to the top of Sanitas in 20 minutes but I need a nap right now. It's always worked in the past to run out colds but this one is stubborn. And maybe I'm stubborn too and should take some time off. Well tomorrow I fully intend to get worked over by Josh and Nick on a 20 mile run. Hope you guys know CPR... or better yet just bring the pain pills

Thursday, April 8, 2010

9 myles - 1.04:02

Lone Tree+ loop - 3:00 P.M.
60s, dry, clear
mind/body - miserable
easy effort

Despite the sickness and lethargy I got out today again. I didn't die, I wanted to, but made it through trying very hard not to breath deep. The runs the last two days have been pure misery, eerily reminiscent of the final myles of most of my races. So I'll chalk these two runs up as mental training and remind myself late in races that it could be worse...

Onto Zane Grey! Paul told me last week that times at Miwok are very similar to ZG. I did a little checking and sure enough for a lot of runners it turns out to be within 10 minutes. Having said that, I guess I'll blindly shoot for 8.50 at ZG. Could be a stretch but it's a goal nonetheless. So if this rule of thumb holds true then I'll beat AJayDub by 25 minutes...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

8 myles - 1.20

Treadmill - noon
snow/slush outside, 40s
mind/body - deathly ill
easy effort

Mamacita! That hurt. Every year a cold takes me down for a couple days so I guess this was my "one time". Fever, cough, congestion, and no energy for the last 3 days. I've taken the last two days off in hopes of getting out today... no gumption whatsoever. So I guess to the TM and see how far I could go... started dying after 4 myles, rallied to finish with 7% grade at 6MPH. Didn't wanna hurt the lungs but I certainly wanted to get some elevation. About 2500ft for the entire workout, most of which was done at 6%. Now I know what a day in the life of Browneye feels like running....

Saturday, April 3, 2010

~20 myles - 3.20

Manitou Springs - 7:00 A.M.
30s, windy, clear
mind/body - good
easy effort

Met up with the CRUD guys this morning at Memorial Park. Of course Browneye didn't show up - he had some 2 mile race he was doing... I know we were out there for 3 hours and 20 minutes but I'm only guesstimating on the distance (10min/mile). Rick and Harsha added on another 5 somewhere along the way. They took me on trails that intertwine all through the hills surrounding Manitou; I remember Intemann, Section 16, High drive, and that's about it. Good catching up with the guys. Good luck to Andy Henshaw as he heads to AR 50 next weekend. He's gonna turns some heads with his sub 6 performance. And good luck to you too Browneye at Boston - break a leg and go under 3 already!

Friday, April 2, 2010

9.25 myles - 1.05:49

HR urban trails
40s, windy, some mud
mind/body - good
easy effort

Nice easy pace today - 7:06 avg. I integrated some hills and really pushed up the them but cruised everywhere else. I had thought about doing hill repeats but for the sake of a 'recovery' week, I didn't wanna get too crazy. Tomorrow I'll go down to the CRUD run and get about 20 myles to end week with 55.

Today on the run I reflected back on my 7 years of ultra running. I remember my first race back in June 2004 at the Squaw Peak 50. I had just moved to Colorado from Utah so it was good to get back home. I knew of Karl Meltzer and naively thought his times were soft. When I started that race I expected to win and by mile 26 I was in 4th place and (at least) an hour behind Karl. By the 50K mark the wheels were starting to fall off and I was crying for my mommy. I ended up in 14th place with a time of 9.28 and had never been in so much pain. Rude awakening. Fast forward to last year at Squaw Peak where I actually did win with a time of 8.05. So what changed for me over the years? Let me just say, it's been a long learning curve.

Nutrition and hydration was the first change. Early on I waited too long to take in calories and water and by the time I decided to start my body was shut down and revolving everything. Dizzy spells, slurred speech, inability to hear, nausea, vomiting, you name it and I've been there. I thought I could show up to a race and take that gel every hour and down a bottle of water every hour. It didn't occur to me that I should test these things out in training - duh! At any rate about 3 years ago I was ready to hang em up but just before I did I committed to try this stuff in training on the long runs. That's about the time EFS liquid shot came onto the market. And to be quite honest that was the start of the difference. One 400 calorie flask every two hours was the ticket, downing it with water and electrolytes. The sad truth is that I have a college degree in nutrition and knew exactly what I needed to do all along but just didn't do it until 3 years ago.

The second change I made was hiring a coach. I was getting better at the weekly mileage and long runs but I wanted to know if I should be doing more. I hired Paul Dewitt who gave me a weekly schedule that I could do at my convenience. This is not a shameless plug for Paul either, I paid him just like any other athlete. Why it worked so well with Paul is that I knew he was more about quality and not quantity. I was getting older and I didn't think I could constantly hit those 100 mile weeks. I knew what Paul was gonna throw at me every week; 2 speed workouts and two back to back long runs, one slow and one fast/easy day, hard day. The difference for me is that Paul could almost feel what I needed and gave me just enough to put me at that red line. Call it intuition but it's certainly a sign of a good coach. I not only wanted to hit every workout but I wanted to impress.

So all of a sudden in the last two years, after figuring out nutrition/hydration, then getting a coach for structure I start to hit the times I've always known I was capable of. Now my mentality has changed from just placing in the top 10 to winning these races.

So here's the thing for all you runners who are new to ultra running; you can be fitter than fit and have the mentality to win a race, but if you don't have the right nutrition and hydration plan all that training doesn't account for everything it can. I suffered for 4 years with suboptimal performances, learn from my mistakes and put it all together now.

And last, this is in no way saying I'm now the most talented runner to toe the line, because I'm not. I'm just saying that the times I'm posting now is what I've expected of myself all along. Now I just gotta figure out that hundred mile thingy... oh and staying the course -that's important!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

10 myles - 1.08:36

Lone Tree + loop - 11:00 A.M.
40s, cloudy, blustery
mind/body - seemingly good
easy effort

In between the masses of conference calls (when I say "masses" I'm talking 5 calls in on day!?!), I decided to exercise the legs and lungs since I was exercising the mouth and brain... I thought conference calls were a time to catch up on everything else in the office?? Man I got roped into some deep conversation today!

At any rate, the run was spectacular! Avg. of 6:52 on some trails and hills. The body feels very good and the legs, in particular, seemed to have a little snap back today. I've been overly obsessed with looking at any and all information related to Zane Grey. The course map seems to be gaining a lot of my attention, hmmm....

And for the record, I'm going to be attempting my first FKT on Mt. Sanitas sometime early May. I'm gonna do 12 hours of Sanitas and see if I can eclipse the current record of 16 laps in 11.56:22 held by Peter Bakwin.