Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Western States pacing duties

It's been a while since I've posted anything so I'm playing a little catch up here. I'm leaving to Silverton tomorrow morning to get ready for Hard Rock and with limited internet connection I will do my best to update my runs leading up to the race.

Thursday I flew out to Reno and met up with Justin Mock who was there to pace teammate Nick Clark. Justin was kind enough to offer up a ride to the PI house at Squaw. Josh was staying in Reno that night with his wife to clear his mind. And rather than write something that has already been written, check out JM's report. I'll pick it up at Michigan Bluffs where our stories start to differ:

PI boys pre-race

Earlier in the day Josh was running strong but because of all the standing water on the trail and wet feet, Josh developed major blisters that covered the bottoms of his feet. He did the best to fix them on the trail but by the time he got to Michigan Bluff it was almost too late. A 20 minute stop to fix the feet at the aid station by John Vonhof who authored the book Fixing your feet. He told Josh to keep his feet dry and continually change socks but regardless the journey was gonna be arduous. Josh attempted to leave the aid station but came walking back clearly not wanted to endure 45 myles of walking. Hillary (Josh's wife) and I encouraged him to at least continue to Foresthill and let the foot form to the new shoes and socks.

Josh coming into Dusty's corner mile 38

Sitting at Foresthill waiting for Josh was agonizing for both of us because we knew he was hurting. We knew that we needed to change the mindset from winning or placing in the top 10 to "just" getting to the finish. I say "just" very lightly because anyone who crosses that finish line is a true champion - the journey is not easy for anyone. For Josh (who has clocked a 16.54 and 19.59 at San Diego and Grand Teton 100s respectively) I'm sure it was hard to get his mind around anything less than competing for the win - nothing wrong with that at all. But to change the mind set mid-swing when you are clearly not at your best on such a big day must be extremely tough.

At Foresthill, Hillary took care of Josh (as she had been all day) and sent us on our way. I could sense immediately that Josh was determined to get to that finish line. He was running strong, picking people off (8 to be exact) in a span of 2 hours and 45 minutes. But right before we got to Rucky Chucky I could tell the energy left his legs. We pulled into Rucky Chucky for a much needed break for Josh. He sat while eating and drinking and then off towards Green Gate. Hillary made her way down the road to meet us with some lights for the night journey.

I was thoroughly impressed with Josh's perseverance to continue. I knew he wasn't feeling well but he still made a concerted effort to run intermixed by strong hiking. In and out of the canyons lit up by a full moon, Josh continued to plug along and was suprisingly still in good spirits. We pulled into Brown's Bar aid station (that place is just weird), some broth and rice for Josh, quick stop, and we were out. Next up was a nice little climb up to Hwy 49 aid station, only 4 myles - Josh alternated 30 seconds of running with 30 seconds of power hiking and when he was running - he was running good.

Now he could smell the finish so it was just a matter of keep moving forward. Leaving the Hwy 49 aid, he wasn't feel well at all so we took our time to get his stomach right. The moon still lit the sky and the air was very,very still so it was hotter than expected. All the way down to No hands bridge Josh couldn't settle his stomach, a little Coke at the aid and across the bridge. As we got to the far side of the bridge, it happened for the first time for Josh. Yep, everything came out. I examined the carnage to make sure the lining of his stomach didn't come out. I explained to Josh that the next 15 minutes were critical for moving fast.... AKA Vomitus Euphoritus. Don't know how it happens but it seems when you empty the contents of your stomach, you feel this sudden rush of feeling good. So the timing of Vomitus Euphoritus was perfect. Up and over Robie Point and down into the stadium - 21.34, 53rd place. A very well deserved finish for Josh!

Josh getting his buckle

Men Top 10

Now as far as my running is concerned, I feel good going into Hard Rock. I did 6 myles on Friday in Squaw (a couple up the first climb of the race and 4 later with the PI gang), 38 myles with Josh, and then 12 today in Utah. I'm looking forward to my time in Silverton, it's Christmas to me!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pearl Izumi - Run Like an Animal Challenge

The Pearl Izumi "Run Like an Animal Western States Challenge" is official! Pearl Izumi understands the enormity of one of the greatest ultra races to ever take place so they have stepped up with some cash-money! The rules are very simple and straight forward: no matter what course is run, $2000 to each man and women who are first to break the respective course records. For the men anything under 15.36:27 (set by Scott Jurek in 2004) and for the women anything under 17.37:51 (set by Ann Trason in 1994). They understand the course records were set on a different course with different conditions but, hey, that's trail running and this is a challenge. Let's see what you got!

Pearl Izumi is not a sponsor of Western States so a prize purse was out and any mention of this challenge at the race was out of the question. This is only way they knew the could be involved so late in the game without infringing upon the official sponsors of Western States. Pearl Izumi is committed to bringing out the best of the best in one of the greatest fields ever assembled. Again, Pearl Izumi is NOT a sponsor of this race so this challenge is completely funded separate from the race itself. Good Luck to everyone - especially my teammates Josh Brimhall, Nick Clark, and Nick Lewis! I'll be out there pacing Josh Brimhall motivating him with the smell of some cash-money!

Post a comment with any questions.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

San Juan Solstice 50 mile - 9.28:20 5th

UPDATE - Just got a call from Dale Garland, I am officially in Hard Rock! Let the fun times begin!

A spectacular day in the San Juans! Not a cloud in the sky, temperatures in the 70s, wind at your back on the divide, and minimal snow! All of that equates to some fast times! And when I say fast I'm talking Matt Carpenter/Dave Mackey fast! Overall this wasn't my best race but I am more than pleased with my time! I shaved over an hour off my PR from two previous San Juan races. Results. Here's how the race unfolded:

Start to Williams (0- 15.7) 2.44
A very nice and conversational pace to start up the road for 2 myles to the first climb. At the start of the climb, Gary Gellin was out front followed by Burch, myself, and Dakota. We ran quite a ways up, almost to the last clearing before the switch-backs. I felt strong climbing and the others looked strong as well. Made it up to the aid station in 1.24, which was a full 6 minutes faster than I had been to that point. At the aid, Ryan and I stopped for water and Dakota and Gary took off. Dakota was hootin' and hollerin' cause we were above tree line on single track and he felt good. I knew that Burch was much quicker than I going down so I had to let him go and hope I could reel him in on the climbs. Before we got into the trees Burch had reeled in Dakota and were about 4 minutes up on me. Things started to shake loose for me so I had to stop for a bio break and felt much better. I got into Williams in 2.44 and thought I was way too fast, only to find out Burch and Dakota were 7 minutes up on me. Either they were going to blow up or throw down some killer times.

Williams to Divide Yurt (15.7 - 31) 6.09
My family refueled me at Williams with EFS, an oatmeal cookie, and a swig of Ensure. I started out on the road but my legs were heavy, feeling really weak from the descent. Didn't think much of it, just thought I needed to shake them out on the somewhat flat 2 mile dirt road. Gary Gellin was now back with me (he had slowed a bit above tree line but caught back up on the descent) and we started the climb up to Carson together. Mid-way up the climb I realized I was working way too hard for the pace I was going - meaning I knew I was going slow but couldn't do anything about it. I've been there before and know things change so I was hoping for the best. We pulled into Carson in 3.59. I had lost about 7 or 8 minutes on the climb. I left the aid station and as soon as I could see the Carson divide I started looking up to catch a glimpse of Dakota or Burch.... didn't see Dakota but saw Burch about 10 minutes up. Dakota was gone!

Finally I get up to the divide and the all too familiar Colorado Trail. Now I don't want to be a sissy here but I got a little emotional. My last time up there I was on my 8th day on the CT with Paul DeWitt, lots of good memories. Those emotions gave me a boost and the legs seemed to be returning. I've always said your ability to run the 9 myles of the CT in this race is pivotal to doing well. Well I ran almost every step up on the divide and I was still caught by Sean O'Rouke. He was motoring! It was Sean's first 50 mile race ever. He won Jemez 50K a few weeks back and signed up for this race the night before on a whim... So I pull into the Yurt in 6.09. I wanted to be there by 6 for a shot at going under 9 but I had not made any of the time back from the climb up to Carson. My father in law, Rick, had made the climb up to the Yurt to give me essential EFS liquid shot - gotta have the good stuff in my blood. The legs were coming around and things started to click.

Divide Yurt to Vickers (31 - 46.5) 8.47
Back on the road I'm running almost everything and mentally starting to think I can start to catch people. 30 minutes away from the Yurt I reach back to grab my EFS liquid shot... Shit! It had fallen out of my waist pack on one of the descents. I had one gel in reserve so that would be enough to pull me through to Slumgullion. I still had water, stomach was good, and energy was surprisingly good. Just before I headed down into the trees toward Slumgullion I glanced back to get a gauge on the others. Back at the Yurt Kevin Shilling was pulling in as I was leaving and with plenty of rocky downhills to go I was watching my back.

I pulled into Slumgullion in 7.32 where my lovely wife was there to greet me with my bag of goodies. Gave me some watermelon, coke, Powerbar gummy gels, and a NEW EFS flask. I was off quick cause I knew Kevin was coming. Now for the last climb of the day, which in previous years has just left me for dead. 30 minutes out from Slumgullion I reached back and guess what? Yep, flask had fallen out again! Now I was screaming explitives about the same time Gary Gellin was hot on my heels. I didn't expect to see him but he looked strong, he gave me a gel, I gave him a push, and he off. I followed Gary as best I could but he was running 1/2 the steep stuff. Were talking about 1800 ft of climbing in almost 3 myles! Nice finish Gary (a la Victor Ballesteros)! The magic number at Vickers to finish under 9 hours is about 8.15.... well 8.15 came and went and still not at Vickers. I was climbing good and still running at a steady pace but didn't get into Vickers until 8.47.

Vickers to Finish (46.5 - 50) 9.28:20
This turned out to be the most dramatic finish for me in my ultra career. The race finishes on a semi-technical rocky descent. Knowing that Kevin Shilling (technical downhill speed demon) was on my heels, had me constantly checking the rear view mirror. No matter how fast I went down that hill into town I knew Kevin would somehow catch me... sure enough on the second to last switch back Kevin is suddenly there about 50 meters back. Now with just over a mile heading into town on the streets I had to muster up some of that speed work from back in February. Kevin wasn't gonna give this one to me and it was evident with the look on his face. Every time I pushed to where the lungs and leg muscles weren't working anymore, I'd back it off and look back only to find Kevin inching closer. I'm not sure what our last mile split was but I can tell you I could not even stand after I finished, Kevin was on the verge of puking, so I know we both gave it our all. Ironically Kevin and I had a very similar battle last year at Squaw Peak were I only beat him by a couple minutes but same scenario.

This year was a very fast year at the San Juan Solstice! Let me put things into perspective: Young (that would be 19 years old), Dakota Jones was on record pace through Slumgullion! Yes I'm talking a Matt Carpenter course record pace! Unbelievable! No matter what happens the rest of the year, this has to be one of the performance nominations of the year! This kid is good and when he's on, he has the potential to beat anyone. Not to be outdone, Ryan Burch put on a phenomenal performance as well. Ryan has been clocking some fast times all around, most recently an 8.30something at Jemez. Ryan's fastest time at SJS in previous years was in the 9.40 range and yesterday he threw down an 8.42! Now were talking Mackey fast times! Great, great job Dakota and Ryan, really happy for you guys! Not only those guys but overall there were 9 people under 10 hours, the most in the history of the race! Last, Pearl Izumi-Smith teammate Darcy Africa pulled down the women's title over Helen Cospolich with a winning time of 10.13 and 11th overall. Darcy is now primed for Hard Rock.

In the end, I want to thank my family for their support - without them this doesn't happen! Also the SJS race committee did an amazing job and that includes all of the wonderful aid station volunteers - thanks for putting on a great race in the most beautiful place in the world. I met some new people this year (Gary, Brandon, Ben, Keith, Matt, and Dakota), and reconnected with some old friends, you know who you are. I tell you what there is no better feeling than finishing a race (in the mountains) and having a few beers with family and friends - that's what it's all about!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

5 myles - 32:52

Grigs - 7:00 AM
70s, clear, dry
mind/body - surprisingly sluggish
Hard effort

It's been my week of race taper routine to get in about 25 myles before the race while doing a 1/2 of a leg turn-over workout. So far this week 21 myles (6 yesterday easy). This morning was the leg turnover workout. Nothing too terribly fast for each of the 2.5 myles out and back, avg. 6:32 pace. Turned up the notch doing the 3 x 300m, 10% hill sprints - 1.03:15, 1.03:05, 1.02:25. By the end of the workout the sluggishness went away. In years past (prior to a coach) I took too much of a taper by only running 8-10 myles the week of the race which left me feeling very sluggish to start the race. Now I figure by reducing volume but getting out most days during the taper is more beneficial, basically not dipping into any glycogen stores and keeping the blood flowing.

In other news, what a shocker of a game this morning between Switzerland and Spain!! Spain certainly the better of the two sides but Switzerland was very efficient with great defense. In my opinion, even though Spain lost they proved to be one of the top 3 teams after the first round of games (Netherlands and Germany the other two). To get out of the group now they will have to beat a tough Chilean team, who handily won over Hondouras.

Other than the U.S., We're rooting for Spain

Monday, June 14, 2010

10 myles - 1.10:07

Daniels Park - 8:00 AM
50s, wet, overcast
mind/body - ready to go
easy effort

Finally a break in the weather. Still overcast and mostly muddy on the trails so I had to stick to the roads. I intermixed 6 x 30 second pick ups over the course of this run, just wanted to see if the legs had any turn over left - still got some.

I'm really getting excited to get back to the San Juan's, especially the Colorado Trail. Yesterday I refreshed the old blog and while doing so I filtered through hundreds of photos of the Colorado Trail from last September. Man! Got the juices flowing again. The San Juan Solstice course travels along the CT for about 10 myles up on the CDT going in the opposite direction I went. It should bring back a flood of memories which (I hope) will spur me on the second 1/2 of the race.

One such picture of the CT in the San Juan's

Saturday, June 12, 2010

18 myles - 3.13:49

Manitou Springs - 7:30 A.M.
50s, raining, sloppy
mind/body - strong
easy effort

I woke up at 5 AM, looked out the window, and almost let the weather talk me out of running today. Weather reports were predicting rain all day. I took a chance thinking Colorado Springs might be clear of the storm... I was right to begin with but as the day progressed and the higher I got, the wetter it got. My route was Longs-Bob's-Barr-Barr camp-Addaman rock-Barr-Incline-J pipe-Longs. In all about 5000 ft of climbing. I went in to talk with Neal and Teresa and who do I find sitting the corner drinking a beer?? Yep JT. Nah, just kidding, he wasn't drinking a beer... we talked shop and then I followed him out to Addaman Rock via Elk Park. Obviously above 10,000 ft it was colder but also wetter so I quickly made my way down. Also ran into Andy Henshaw who is gearing up for the Western States show down. Talk about dark horse, he'll be one to watch.

Anyways had to rush home to catch the USA/England World Cup game... hind sight I should have not even bothered. US played terrible! Should have lost, thanks for the gift Green. The US weren't making runs into open space, they weren't clearing out of the back, they were simply trying to play over the top and use speed - doesn't work against one of the world's best team. Donovan and Dempsey need to stop being so selfish and LAZY! Mark UP for hells sake! OK, I'll get off the bitching session but it pisses me off that the US sucked so bad. Bright spot was Tim Howard, really saved them. On another note, how about Bafana-Bafana's goal yesterday? First goal of the World Cup might just be the best!

Myles watching the World Cup with his favorite jersey - Ajax

Thursday, June 10, 2010

11 myles - 1.27:06

Mt Falcon v0.75 - 3:00 P.M.
80s, dry, partly cloudy
mind/body - solid
hard effort

A little time trial up to the shelter via Turkey trot. So yeah it was tough! Last time 27:06; This time 27:40. 3 myles, 1800 ft of elevation gain, 12% avg. grade. I remember last time (a full year ago) as if it were yesterday; I was gasping for air, lungs searing, legs burning, and I shuffled around the rest of the run trying to recover. This time was still a hard effort but I tried to keep it under the hood without spilling any lactate. I think I succeeded because my overall time this go round was 5 minutes faster - 1.27:06 vs 1.33:21. So the key takeaway here is know your limit, stay under it, and recover quicker. I was only 34 seconds faster last year but that was all lost this time in the first 1.7 myles (16:01 vs 16:28). Just like Green, there is a strategy, if you try to blow it out in the beginning you will pay for it before you get to the top.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

7 myles - 59:06

Sanitas - 6:30 AM
60s, clear, dry
mind/body - not excited about Sanitas/good
easy effort

Nothing is ever easy at Santias but I did take a little bit off going up the Ridge. Started over at Settlers Park, around Sanitas, up Anemone and back. Lots of people out this morning, including Ryan Cooper, who I hadn't seen in quite some time. He's doing shorter stuff this year and is looking to go under 2 hours at Evan's - that cookin'! Anyway, made it up the Sanitas trail in 19:05 - not blazing but made me happy because I did not bust a lung to do it. Last time was a minute faster but I really hurt myself. Also ran yesterday morning; 9 myles in 1.03 but didn't have time to post, day just got away from me.

Stopped by Pearl Izumi on the way back to pick up my new racing tops. Sneak peak below. To be unveiled at Western States

Monday, June 7, 2010

10 myles - 1.11:11

HR urban trails - 6:00 AM
60s, muggy, clear
mind/body - a little groggy
easy effort

I tried to force myself out the door yesterday, trying to get to 80 myles, but really happy I took the day off. Sometimes we all get caught up in the numbers regardless of how we feel. What I'm finding is that I've become accustomed to 70-80 myles and ~12 hours per week. Sure it's good to push the envelope sometimes but I think the key is "sometimes" and try to find that happy medium in between.

Little aches and pains this morning told me that taking the day off yesterday was a good call, but like all runs they worked themselves out after a couple myles. Very nice this morning, a little muggy/humid, but always nice to be out at the crack of sunlight. 7:07 pace without much effort.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

~28 myles - 4.24:17

Manitou Springs - 6:30 AM
60s, clear, dry
mind/body - really not with it today
easy effort

Gotta take the bad with the good... today was a bad one. Not all bad, just no get up and go. My actual route was Memorial Park-Williams-Waldo-Longs Ranch-Bob's-Barr-A frame-Barr-Memorial Park. I practiced hiking today above Barr Camp, something that I've gotten away from but something I'll become all too familiar with at HR. About 6500 ft of elevation gain with a 9.26 pace overall. My initial plan was to tack on the Incline (for more hiking) at the end but since I was struggling all day I just pretended it wasn't there. Normally the week after a race I usually get around 40 myles and call it a recovery week. This week I'm at 72 myles which let's me know my fitness is coming around.

HR update: I'm #1 on the wait list now.

Wonder what happened in the races today, anyone know? Golden Gate dirty thirty or Squaw Peak 50.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

10 myles - 1.10:47

Lone Tree loop+ 8:00 AM
60s, overcast, dry
mind/body - feeling really good
easy effort

Nice run today with almost ideal conditions again. 7:04 pace with only about 800 ft of climbing. My legs feel fully recovered (as they should) after Pokey. Believe it or not I have yet to make a trip down to Pikes, so this Saturday I will make my debut. I'll get a good 5 hour run with tons of climbing.

Every since coming back from Pocatello my mind has been consumed with thoughts of Hard Rock. I'm #2 on the wait list and will most likely get in, but my mind set is that I'm already in... So naturally I start thinking of strategy. I'm climbing better than I ever have before, while my descending is still the same old conservative approach. Each of the 4 times I've done HR I've continually gotten faster but I feel like I'm pretty close to my ceiling. In order for me to lay down a faster time than last year I need to nail a "perfect" race... but I know there is no such thing as a "perfect" race at HR. HR comes down to how quickly you can resolve the bad spots. Because bad spots will happen. The other piece to the puzzle is how hard to go at San Juan Solstice? People who have raced hard at San Juan Solstice come back to HR and not do too well - don't know why that is but it concerns me. I want to do well at SJS but I'm not willing to sacrifice HR. So I guess for SJS we'll just have to see how things shake out during the race.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

15 myles - 2.12:24

Mt Falcon v1.0 - 9:30 AM
60s, overcast, dry - perfect!
mind/body - good
easy effort

Got out with Lucho this morning. First time meeting him but have been following his blog for some time. Isn't it funny how we feel like we already know all these people through blogs? Lucho is a great guy and a very talented runner - anyone who can crank out 14:11 for a 5K is up there in my book. Lots more runs to be scheduled.

Lucho brought a High Gear altimeter to measure elevation gain so I finally know what Falcon comes in at for the full loop - 3012 feet! Kinda disappointing because I have always been calculating more like 4000 ft. We started quick, only because I know how quick he is and I didn't want to slow him up. Turns out we were cooking up the first climb to the shelter and then we mellowed out and had a nice pace for the remaining 12 myles. Good conversation from training all the way to Rob Zombie concert at Red Rocks.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

11 myles - 1.16:46

Coyote Ridge - 8:00 AM
70s, clear, dry
mind/body - refreshed
easy effort

After the Pocatello 50 race my family and I traveled back to Kemmerer, Wyoming - home of the very first JC Penny's. Actually just up the road from Kemmerer at Hams Fork river to do some camping. Nice and relaxing for most of my family but I was antsy. I decided on Sunday to get a longer than usual run after a race. Hills and open space all around, I headed on a ATV track and just followed it. I ended up with about 12 myles and 1500 ft of elevation gain in 1.32. Very positive sign for my fitness!

Today a little stiffness seeped in to the ol legs (maybe cause of the long drive back) but by 30 minutes into the run I was seemingly back to normal - 7:09 pace. The calf appears to resolved itself as I didn't feel it in the race and no DOMS post race. For the rest of the week I will probably get over to Mt Falcon, Deer Creek, and finish at Pikes on Saturday. May ended up being a good month for me - 313 myles. As opposed to last May of 305. No word on Hard Rock yet but word is that I've moved up to #4, maybe even in the race but they have not updated the list yet.