Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Saturday, December 3, 2011

721 for 140

If you don't know those numbers then obviously this post or invite won't mean a thing. And you live on Mars...

721! 721 frickin applicants for the Hardrock lottery on Sunday, December 4th. Yes, pale in comparison to the 2000 that applied to Western States but I think the odds of getting selected are about the same for both. No doubt WS has more history but my analogy is of a skier: If you want to be seen (and the key word is "seen") on groomed, wide open runs with night life to boot then you go to Vail. If you want to ski (and the key word is "ski") gnarly terrain with tons of fresh powder all day, every day and no night life then you go to Silverton resort. Vail costs a lot of money, Silverton not so much with your own guide... You get my point.

Hardrock is a special race for anyone who has participated. And I say "participated" because it goes beyond just running the event, it's anyone who has volunteered or even spectated. This is a community, i.e. one big family. For the last 7 years my family and I have gone to Silverton the first part of July, almost as a pilgrimage. Last year I did not run but I had the pleasure of crewing and pacing for Nick Clark but my family did not come and it was different. In fact, my wife and father in law were upset when I decided not to run and said, "well, what are we going to do now?" So you see, it gets in your blood. But once you come to Silverton for Hardrock and meet the people and see the amazing scenery, you will know what I am talking about. It's really special.

Anyways, to extend the large family to the front range, Todd Gangelhoff is hosting a Hardrock lottery party on Sunday, December 4th. You don't have to be in the lottery to participate, come over to see what this is all about and go for a run with us before hand. I will be the whipping boy once the lottery is over by all those not selected because I have an automatic entry. And I am proud to say that! I have been on pins and needles every year I have entered. One year I got into the race the day before, that sucked. But what I'm saying is that if you don't get selected there is still hope. The edge of getting off the wait list is around 30 to 35 slots, I was 33 that year...

Here are the specifics:

The Hardrock 100 Lottery Brunch and Happy Hour

It’s better to be disappointed among friends

Fun run starts at 7:30 am

Food, beers and lottery begin

at 11:00 am

Dec. 4th, 2011

5333 Golf Course Dr.

Morrison, CO 80465


Friday, November 18, 2011

Pearl Izumi

Many things going on in my work life right now so I won't have time to blog about everything but I did want to put up a couple things here.

Group Run tomorrow:
Come on down to the The HR Backcountry Pancake Trail 20 miler next Saturday (11/19). Arrive at 7am for coffee, juice, and to take care of pre-run business. Run starts at 7:30am from my house and will follow the trails for about 18.5 miles before hitting pavement for the last stretch back to the house. Upon our return, there will be plenty of hot pancakes (thanks to the lovely Tanya), and more coffee and juice for all. The HR trails around the backcountry are more like a lumpy pancake. Plenty of ups and downs, twists and turns. There is a bunch of fun single track. It's a good workout, but won't completely kick your butt.

My address:
Woody Anderson
10888 Valleybrook Circle
Highlands Ranch, CO 80130

REI just started picking up Pearl Izumi shoes, in particular, the Fuel and Peaks. I ask the readers of this blog to go to and write a review for each of these shoes. That's if you have tried them. And be honest. Pearl Izumi is looking to make their shoes better for what you need and they won't know what you want if you don't say. Your reward will be, well, better shoes for you but I will also give you a little gift next time I see you. Just go to the website, type in Pearl Izumi shoes in the search box, find each of the shoes, and simply write a review. You will need to set up an account but that's not such a bad thing, it will allow you to buy things online and not have to go fight holiday crowds. Everybody wins! Thank you!

Peak II - Electric Blue/Black
Along the lines of shoes, Pearl Izumi is looking for wear testers. I obviously have been a wear tester for the last 6 years but they just changed their wear tester size from a 10 to a 9 so I am out. If you would like to give some honest feedback to PI see the below message:

SIZE MATTERS. WEAR TESTERS NEEDED: attention all local Boulder/Denver Pearl Izumi fans. We are in need of some men's size 9 RUN footwear Fit-Testers. This will involve spending 30 minutes at the PI HQ with the development guru fit testing our new patterns. If you are interested and available this week, please call 303-464-6100 for more information.

And the last thing, check out the video below. This is really well done! It really captures all the pivotal moments at UTMB. Enjoy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Krispy Kreme Challenge

For the last 3 years the CRUD group has felt compelled to put on some sort of eating challenge during the year end party. And each year I gladly participate. We've done 3 Chipotle burritos for fastest time, one large Domino's cheese pizza for fastest time, and obviously donuts this year for fastest time. The big difference this year was the running part - good lord!!

In fact, the Krispy Kreme Challenge is an official event back in North Carolina that started back in 2004. This year there were over 2700 finishers raising $100,000 with all proceeds going to the NC children's hospital. Great cause. Although our little outing didn't produce quite as many participants, 7 in all, maybe we will grow this event and find a worthy cause in future years.

I only had one goal - beat JT! I beat him last year but with him running a 17.20 5K (more like 4K) earlier in the morning I knew his legs were primed. I have not been doing any sort of speed training for this event but I certainly have been training the eating part since UTMB. Our course was actually 2.1 myles but whose counting right. Rick tried to get it reduced to a mile cause he was tired but we wanted to do the official challenge. Oh and before I forget, Brooks wussed out because he is apparently whooped. Neal was also a no show but probably had a legit excuse like saving someones life on Pikes.

Anyways, I took off from the start and just did what I could, and if anything, get a similar split on the second two myles. My splits were: 12:41 - 4:07 - 12:53 = 29:41. I never had the urge to throw up just a humongous side ache. One piece of advice, if you ever decide to do this, don't drink a lot of water to get the donuts down. They are caked with enough hydrogenated oils to slide down your throat pretty easy. And if they are hot you could cut the time down eating in half.

Here are the results:
  1. Scott 29:41 (will compete for the world title next year)
  2. Sean 35:45 (who also a 1/2 grump earlier in the day)
  3. Rick 36:55 (will never eat another donut)
  4. JT 39:35 (ran a 4K earlier in the day)
  5. Andy 45:01
  6. Harry 46:58 (didn't puke but spit up water and sugar substance??)
  7. Chris 56:12 (doesn't have to go home to NC now to do the challenge)

Thanks to JT and Katy for once again hosting the CRUD party! They have a great house for entertaining, especially the PI party patio. Come see the patio during the next event, The Ponderous Posterior 50K on January 14th.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I am old(er) and wise(r)

OK maybe old(er) but certainly not wise(r)...

I ran a race yesterday because... well. I'm an addict. It was not one of the wiser things I've done in my life when I was suppose to be healing the body. All I wanted to do is to test my fitness. There was an option to do a 5, 10, or 20 miler, naturally I did the 20 miler.

I woke up at 4:30 AM to pelting horizontal rain hitting the window and immediately tried to talk myself out of it. I hadn't signed up, but then again, this kind of stuff was right up my alley - the uglier the better. Besides, with all the required gear UTMB required (waterproof everything) I had an excuse to actually put it to the test. By 6 AM it was a full on snow storm, still horizontal. No breakfast this morning just the normal coffee and the not so normal EFS liquid shot. Mmm put it together and it tastes like a vanilla latte, try it.

The race started at Jaxon's school parking lot about a mile away so I was way early. I was surprised there were already quite a few people standing around the start area. Walking to sign up there was about 3 inches of slush all over the parking lot and my feet were immediately wet - this was gonna get ugly. I sat in my car to stay warm and bundled up with all my Pearl Izumi WxB gear. Now I'm not one for pimping product on my blog but I get lots of questions about what works best for particular conditions. So for all those interested in knowing what works best for rain/slush/snow mixture I will tell you that there is no better gear than Pearl Izumi waterproof stuff. They have been keeping cyclists warm for years in the worst conditions and they use that same knowledge and know-how in the run gear. At UTMB we had to have a waterproof jacket with hood along with waterproof gloves, just name a couple of things on a long laundry list.

P.R.O. Barrier WxB Gloves Fly Barrier WxB Jacket

Honestly these two items kept me dry and warm. I ended up shedding the jacket midway because I started to sweat a bit as the snow stopped and the sun got higher. I was also able to move pretty freely with the jacket on. Usually restriction of movement is a deal breaker for me and most always go without.

Anyway on to the race. There were only about 25 of us and immediately a guy sprinted off the start. Yes this was a race but I was prepared to stay within myself and just test my fitness. I started off the line with good friend Roger Stones, who is starting a solid base for his run at the Leadman 2012. We ran together, very comfortable, for about an hour and then slowly drifted apart. There were lots of out and backs which required lots of volunteers so thank you to all those hearty souls just standing there getting cold. Although there was one junction with no signs or volunteers and of course we took the wrong way. It was the start of a loop and I knew we would end up in the same place but problem was that we ended up cutting off about 5 minutes. I don't know what they'll do but it really doesn't matter to me because I got my workout in while spending time with friends. Woody was also out there and he didn't take the wrong turn. The reason I know this is because we were going in the opposite direction around the loop.

Coming back through the start/finish area was messy. The snow was now trampled from the 5 and 10 mile runners so the traction was a little tricky. But what made matters worse was trying to weave through the other runners. Most people moved with an "on yer left" but some had music so there was no moving them. An hour and 1/2 into the run I was actually feeling really good and felt like I was speeding up while charging uphill. But not having done a single run over an hour-twenty since France I knew it wouldn't last. Sure enough about an hour forty-five I felt the slow down hit me.

Honestly, I was shooting for 2.30 which would have been a 7:30 pace with 1500 feet of climbing. Pretty realistic especially with the conditions. At mile 17 the course turns down for the remaining 3 myles (I know every step as this is my daily training ground) so I decide to see if I can get under 2.20, which would be 6:40 pace. I crossed the finish line in 2.19:55 for an overall 6:59 pace. Now I did take an inadvertent shortcut so my pace was probably more like 7:05 or so. But hey I'm pretty happy either way.

So why was I not wise(r) to run this race? Good result but at the cost of still not healed. My feet are still killing me and my lower back was acting up again at the end. I was pretty stiff and walking gingerly all day yesterday. Not a good sign for someone who is supposed to be taking it easy and healing. I guess ultimately I wanted to know if JFK 50 was still in the cards. Probably not. To top things off I just got a new position at my work which is based in Los Angeles. The travel and new responsibilities just won't allow time to train like I need. I will officially hang up the shoes as far as ultras are concerned for 2011.

One quote to leave you with: The magic is in the man not the miles. Bill Bowerman

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hey-Hey looky here!

A new blog post that is long over due. I've been slacking only because the motivation on the running front has been extremely low. Coupled with the fact that travel for work has been maniacal. It's amazing that I used to post everyday and now I'm lucky if I get one a month. I will get better - I promise.

First things first, go here and give some feedback to Lisa Klarmann for a research project she is working on for school at the University of Bayreuth. Here is an introduction from Lisa:

Dear Runners,
by participating in this survey you are supporting a final thesis concerning choice of route, motivation, and equipment of runners. The survey is available in English, German and French. By taking part in this survey you have the opportunity to win a pair of PEARL iZUMi Peak II Trailrunning shoes!!! Thank you very much in advance and all the best for your upcoming runs.

I am extremely late in posting this so I hope the link still works, if not let me know. Lisa was part of the PI crew over in France and has done an internship at Pearl Izumi in Germany. In addition, her brother Mortiz was our Physiotherapist while in France.

Now onto my current state. My feet are still killing me. The tendon that connects my forefoot and heel is very tender each and every morning. If I run, it takes a good 15 minutes to get them to stop hurting. I am pretty sure with all the climbing at UTMB and never letting my heel hit the ground has everything to do with this problem. I'm also pretty sure I know what it is but I refuse to go to the doc. And yes Karl I have played a doctor on TV before... Karl loves it when people self diagnose.

In conjunction with the feet, the mind is just not into running right now. Over the past 8 years I have learned my body pretty well, enough to know that I need a break physically and mentally in September or October. This year it may be both months, if I want any chance of doing things I plan for next year. I ran 119 myles in September, my lowest total since I had achilles problems 3 years ago. But when I look back on this year I've run 2711 myles so far, which is over 300/month. I won't push in October if I don't feel like running, I'm more than likely going to go back to Cyclocross racing and get in the pool a couple times a week.

I mentioned next year. I have a very loose structure what it will look like so I might as well tell you: Chuckanut, Kokopelli FKT, Jemez, HardRock, CT FKT, Leadville or Wasatch. The big deal for me is obviously the Colorado Trail FKT. I've done the trail once and vowed never to go back but it is calling my name to give an honest crack at the FKT. A lot can change but that's what I'm currently thinking about. In addition, PI is setting the incentive schedule right now so that could drive other races to pop up.

Speaking of Pearl Izumi, we are currently in the selection process for next year. Lots of talented runners out there, both men and women vying for a few slots. My role has changed a bit but before I say anything about the team I will wait until the official team has been announced. Look for something in the middle of October. It is going to be an exciting year for Pearl Izumi Ultra running team!

I think that's all for now. Outside of watching some football and checking on my fantasy football team all day, typing this post has actually made me feel like I accomplished something today. Talk to you all soon.

Friday, September 2, 2011

UTMB - 29.17 40th Place

Strap yourself in with a 6er because this is a long one.

Planning the night before with Euro PI crew

This year leading up to UTMB has been filled with mediocre results so I was frustratingly expecting the same kind of result. A result, nonetheless, but not to expect anything that would place me in the ranks of the elite immortals. But you know how it goes leading up to a race, getting excited, feeling good, and stretch goals are heightened. Thank goodness for my wife to bring me back down to reality. I had told her a couple months ago that I was going into UTMB to gain the experience of a lifetime and have no other expectations. When she heard me talking to others about time goals she said, "uh... remember NO expectations, have fun - right?"

And so the stage was set to enjoy the day and here is my journey through three countries, two nights, and one full day:

Chamonix to Le Contamines (0-31.1k)

As most of you already know the start was pushed back to 11:30 PM because of weather, which meant another 5 hours laying around. I didn't let it bother me because I could not do anything about it. Ironically it had been in the mid 90s all week and this was the only day to have temps hovering just above freezing. The Euro PI crew set up shop in a cafe next to the start so we had a warm, dry place to stay until minutes before the start. We made our way over to the corral that was designated for specific numbers, of which we all had. Thank goodness because the pack of runners behind us went around the corner out of sight. Roch Horton did not find his way to this corral and ended up an hour and 1/2 behind making his way through people.

Music was playing loud, announcers even louder (in French) - the atmosphere was electric. All I could do was smile and hug my fellow Americans around me to wish good luck. Killian was standing right next to me in a Salomon swim cap. Kidding I said "swimming too? what next rally car?" He didn't understand and I laughed. Salomon is everywhere in Europe and that was the genesis of my comment. Anyways, trios-deux-un-Allez!! And we were off! People sprinted off the line, people shoving, gaining position. Not more than 50 meters off the line a woman fell right in front of me, I tried to jump over her but caught her leg sticking up in the air and I fell, losing one of my handhelds. I looked up and herds of people were coming, in a panic I located my bottle, someone grabbed me by the armpits to help me up, and I was off and running again.

Running to Les Houches (Le Zoosch) I surveyed the damaged, nothing broken just a bunch of road rash on my leg, hip, and elbow. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise so that I would start slow. On the way to Les Houches is pretty flat (153m) and only 7.9k, mostly letting people pass me and wondering if I should put more clothes on. Once we leave Les Houches we hit the first climb of the day and reports of snow on top of that climb. I decide to keep just my arm warmers and vest over my shirt. I end up going through Les Houches in 59th place.

Comparing the climb from Les Houches to La Charme (800m) to the others seemed a bit small but that was the wrong way to think about it because it went on forever. I was climbing good, not as hard as SZ, but keeping the breathing under control while passing some people. At Le Delevret (14k), which is almost at the top, I was in 49th place in a time of 1.28. I was soaked to the bone and shivering. I should have put on the waterproof jacket earlier. The only thing I could do was to get down quickly but that was a problem because it was slick grass with wet snow on a steep incline that made for a disaster waiting to happen. I saw a bunch of footprints wiping out so I was careful and slow which made me colder. It was literally middle of the night and we were descending through these small villages along the hillside and people were out in droves with their cow bells yelling allez-allez-allez!

Finally down in Saint Gervais (21k) with a time of 2.10, a descent of nearly 1000 meters. Warmer now though. I stopped at the aid for at least 5 minutes, surveying the food so I could get a flavor for what I would see all day. I ate a bunch of bread, cookies, and some sort of sweet crackers.

Mouth full of food at Saint Gervais

Leaving Saint Gervais we follow le bon Nant' river valley for another 10k to Les Contamines, a little bit of climbing but generally flat so it's good running. Along the way Dakota Jones, yes THAT Dakota Jones, came up on me and we casually made our way into Les Contamines chatting about our adventures over the past 3 weeks. I must say it was quite the pleasure to have Dakota and Nick as my travel mates, we shared in some experiences that will forever be etched into our memory. Dakota entered this race tired. But part of our 3 weeks we had the mindset of doing it ALL. And Dakota epitomized that mindset; why not climb Mt Blanc with Killian less than a week before the race? It wasn't for me but Dakota said "shit yeah!" So taking it easy 31k into a brutal race was more than appropriate.

Once in Les Contamines (31k and a time of 3.17 - 47th place), my Euro PI crew were there to meet me with a full change of dry clothes. I knew I'd be wet. Moritz, Lisa, and Sabine (thank you guys) helped me change out of clothes that were clinging and were tough to get off. I couldn't help much because my hands were frozen. I'd taken about 10 minutes to make the change so Dakota was off and I was hopeful that he could methodically enjoy his day. For me, I was feeling OK but pretty much par for the course for the year. Meh. I was bound and determined to not get caught up in racing but just let the race come to me. I was eating a ton of food through the aid stations and climbing exceptional well to this point so I couldn't ask for much more.

Les Contamines to Courmayeur (31.1 - 77.7k)

Enough of the flat running, leaving Les Contamines is a stout climb up to the Croix du Bonhomme (2486m) for a total 1286m of climbing. And if you were wondering, 1 meter equals 3.28 feet so in our American world that would 4218 feet. My climbing legs were great. Still keeping my breathing in check I was passing a bunch of people. I felt at this point I was finally hitting my stride. It was on this climb that I passed the Spanish woman (eventually 2nd) and she seemed to working really hard. Half way up the climb at La Balme I was in 47th still but by the time I reached the Croix (44k) I was in 39th place with a time of 5.33.

Now the big descent (950m) into Les Chapieux where I would see my official PI crew of Linus and my wife. I thought I was going down at a reasonable pace but people were flying past my as if Les Chapieux was the finish. It was dark, snowy, and technical. I'm not the best at descending but I felt like these people were taking unnecessary chances way too early. Thee trail was really multiple trails that had been formed so it was easy to pass. I didn't mind methodically picking my way down, knowing I would have many more to go so I should save the quads. Turns out most of those people who passed me were at Les Chapieux when I arrived, so I guess pick your poison. Now in 58th place and a time of 6.15 - 19 people passed me on the way down and it took me 40 minutes to go 6k. Feeling very good and relaxed. It was very refreshing to see Nicole and Linus. We changed out my clothes once again because now it was nearly twilight and the sun would get hot. Again I ate a bunch of food, gave my wife a kiss, and I was off up the road to Col de la Seigne climb (1050m).

I turned off my light no more than 2k out of the aid station and found Mike Foote running up on me. We had a nice little chat and he was off running - looking good I might add. I told him I didn't want to see him again like we did at WS100. I certainly did not as he was the top American in 11th position - very nice job Mike Foote! Very impressed! After Mike left I caught up with Hal Koerner who was dealing with some foot issues left over from WS. He didn't look like he was in too much of a bother but bummed he was still dealing with it. I was still hopeful for him as he took off running up the Col de la Seigne. Climbing seemed to be my strength on this day, as it usually is, so again I began to pass people that had passed me on the down. When we arrived at the top of the climb I was back in 40th position - you kinda get the picture? 7.54 into the race and I had only gone 60k by the Col de la Seigne but with nearly 4000m of climbing.

Now the sun is up as we descend into the valley that would eventually drop us into Courmayeur, Italy. It was cold up there so I got down as quickly as possible and the legs were responding on the downs better than they had all day. This was now part of the course I was familiar with (in previous days a group of us had done this section in the light.) You know how it's always longer when you don't know where you're going? Once you know the path, it seems to go by quicker. That was true in this instance. Before I knew it I was in Lac Combal in 37th with a time of 8.20 and knew I only had to go over Arete du Mont-Favre (named after Brett I'm sure) before getting into Courmayeur.

There was a film/camera crew following all the PI runners and they were amazing - thanks for all your hard work guys, can't wait to see the finished product! They had a bike with a GoPro camera facing back and they would follow along flatter sections, while another guy would run ahead and snap pictures, while yet a 3rd guy would take video from another angle. I think I may have surprised them at Lac Combal because they were running around like crazy trying to get things going. I laughed at the pandemonium but that was a good sign because I was feeling good and positive that the race was coming to me.

Up and over Favre (500m) in 9 hours in 35th position. It was now all down to Courmayeur and I was buzzing along. I passed Topher Gaylord and it kind of took me by surprise at first, I didn't know it was him, but he wished me well as he was going through a tough spot at the time. And then further down about 2k from Courmayeur I ran upon a bald Geoff Roes (shaved his head pre-race). First I didn't recognize Topher and now Geoff. I wasn't delirious (yet) but as you all know Geoff was not his normal self. I was bummed because I believed going into the race that Geoff was the one that could win this thing with his talent. We all know when things aren't happening there is not much you can do to turn it around but wait your time - and time is the only thing we don't have as a luxury in a race.

I get into Courmayeur where my trusty PI crew is there waiting for me. There are lots of people about, cheering through the streets and even more at the aid station. Feeling good, it was what I needed to catapult me up to the next climb. Nicole and Linus were working seamlessly to get me out quick, yet another change in clothes for the hot day to come. Almost 80k, 10 hours, 31st place, and 4400m of climbing. Now the hard part comes...

Courmayeur to Champex Lac (77.7 - 123.7k)

Sometimes it's good to NOT know what's coming. Case in point is the climb out of Courmayeur - the Bertone. It's only 800m but in 5k - that is stout! I had done this in a training run and I was not looking forward to it. With fresh legs it took nearly a hour to get up so I was surprised it only took an hour ten during the race. And somewhere along the way I had passed two people, probably out of the aid station. Anyways I was worked over when I got to the top and so I sat down at the Bertone and had Coka for the first time. I needed it but I knew it was not a good sign so early in the race. The saving grace was that I knew for the next 7k it would be flat, so to speak. I was not running particularly fast when Nick Pedatella rolled up on me. I knew I would see him at some point because he is very steady and he just. keeps. going!

I let him pass and tried to hang on to his coat tails until I came around. I don't know if all the food I ate at Courmayeur was getting to me or the overall race, probably a combo, but I felt slow. By the time we got to Refuge Bonatti I was still right behind Pedatella. I stopped at the aid to regroup, more Coka, and talk with Dakota who was bonking and not happy. Nick took off and that was the last I would see of little Nick. A few dashes here and there through Arnuva but Nick was on a mission and I was more than happy to see him running so well. Nick P went on to finish 14th overall - amazing race Nick! You have been plugging away all year with great results and it was good to see you finish so strong. Congrats!

On through Arnuva with flattish stuff and now we were starting to see the carnage of the fast pace up front. You could tell some of these guys were up front at some point, they just looked the part, but now walking it in. Usually those types of things give me fuel but I was starting to come apart at the seams as well. I got to Arnuva in 13 hours and in 29th position. I had been passed by Nick but by moving up so many spots only told me that there was more carnage that I had not seen on the trails.

Leaving Arnuva is yet another climb of 800m in 5k. For the first time out of an aid station I had to sit on the side of the trail because I was dizzy. I just closed my eyes, ate some food, and drank some water. I did this 3 times during this short climb while a few people passed. I still knew there was a lot of ground to cover so I was not anxious sitting down, more hopeful that the dizziness would fade. Finally to the top and down the other side I came up on Hal Koerner, who is now limping. Short conversation and I had the feeling his day was done when he reached La Fouly. Not so. Hal went on to finish with Roch in 38 hours. I am truly impressed by this feat! It blows my mind that someone would suffer that long, knowing what's coming. Congrats Hal (and Roch) huge respect!

Down, down, down we go into La Fouly. I know the race (and dizziness) is starting to get to me because I am cursing where the course is taking me. I had thought it would drop right into La Fouly but as we got into the valley, we had a little surprise climb.... Almost as if to say, 'the trail is here so why not use it'. Even though we could have gone straight down the valley. (And don't get me wrong, I'm not bitching here to have a negative attitude, I'm just telling you what was going through my mind at the time). Finally at La Fouly with 110k down and somehow I am in 26th place with nearly 16 hours on my feet. Boy some people are dropping up front because I know some people passed me into La Fouly. At La Fouly, Mathius and Moritz take care of me (thank you guys) because I am dizzy and I need to lay down. Nicole and Linus went on to Champex Lac, which was fine for me.

Dizzy. Mortiz and Mathius attend to me

Down even further, we follow La Dranse de Ferret river and it is absolutely beautiful! It was some of the best running conditions all day with the grade, single track, and under the canopy of trees. I ended up running pretty good in this section, not fast, but continually moving. I am passed by a few people but we are passing other people as well. We get to Issert, a little village along the valley and that is where we start our climb up to Champex Lac. In Issert, and along the way through the other villages, there are families who have set up their own little aid stations with water, chocolate, and other things. The kids are genuinely happy to assist, I oblige some because they are so nice. It was enough to put a smile on my face even though I was starting to suffer.

Up to Champex Lac we go, even though only 450m, it is really tough. It's nearly 6 PM and I am yawning, thinking of what I have to do to get back to Chamonix. I kept thinking of what AJW said at American River this year, "in spite of everything that is going on in the world, all you have to do is run to get back to Chamonix (Auburn in his example) - that's it". Finally up at Champex Lac and wondering how I am in 27th position? Wow. Nicole and Linus with Catherine, attend to my needs, still eating pretty good and drinking really well. Lots of Coka. And as I'm getting ready to leave, someone says that we now have to go through Martigny..... What?!!? Can't be. Why?

Champex Lac to Chamonix (123.7 - 171k)

Since the entire race organization spoke French, it was pointless to ask them questions about what I saw on the white board leaving Champex Lac (Martigny replaces Bovine), which represents an additional 1000m and 6k. I was bewildered. Later the race organization stated one of the aid stations was blown down by the storm and they could not restore it so they sent out a text to all participants. Well, my phone rang as I was getting into La Fouly but I didn't think to answer it during a race... Again, there is not much I could do about it but go down to Martigny and follow everyone else. Nick, Dakota, and myself came up to Chamonix through Martigny from Sierre and I just remember how far down it was - damn! And it was that far down.

Linus explaining one of the reroutes

The trail we took cut straight down, instead of using the road which had a ton of switch backs. That was good and bad; good that it cut the distance but bad because it was straight down. I went down the best I could but my knees were killing me and it was at the bottom of this hill that I started to feel a little off balanced. I could no longer walk a straight line (evident by my path on the wide road at the bottom), and I was starting to see people. As we made one more climb (600m) over to Martigny, I could have sworn I saw Killian on the side of the trail in street clothes cheering people on.... I almost asked what his time was! I didn't though, I came to my senses and realizes I was losing it a bit. On the way to Martigny, I tried to take my mind off of things by gazing at the scenery which included an orchard of grapes - big juicy grapes that I wanted to pick and eat. mmm...

OK, here I am in Martigny after nearly 21 hours and I'm in 30th position. I was not looking forward to getting back up to Trient. I started calculating distance and realized it wasn't that far but with about 1000m to climb in such a short distance only meant one thing - straight the eff up! Good lord was I right! This hill just kept coming at me! I could still see the horizon at dusk so I could tell where I had to go. This climb put me over the top, literally and figuratively. I was having outer body experiences, I saw my crew several times in random places, and I was a little confused where I was and how far I had to go.

It was not good and I think my crew could see it in my eyes. I guess I had the 3 mile stare but at least I was responding and even joking a bit once in the Trient aid station.

Gettin a little crazy in here - Trient

I spent a good 20 mintues in Trient just trying to gather myself for the last climb of the race. I had been on the next section of trail a few times and knew exactly what to expect - 700m in just over 3k. I put every last bit of energy into that last climb, knowing that I was home free after that one. I put myself into a zombie state at this point, became nauseated for the first time, and sat down to relieve the dizziness. On top of the Catogne I had somehow picked up 3 spots and now in 30th position. I don't know how unless some people didn't leave Trient. It was freezing up on Catogne so I did my best impression of the green apple two step to get myself down. I must have sat down 4 more times to gather myself and the cold picked me to get me moving again.

Leaving Trient with Linus, Georg, and Nicole helping

Finally in Vallorcine, where my crew is anxiously awaiting me. I must have looked worse than before because Linus was now my crutch and sat me down. The nurse came over and wanted to start working on me. Nicole begins to tell them that I am OK, she has seen me like this before and it all worked out. It's true and I was coherant but the nurse would not let me leave until she looked me over. She took some blood for blood/glucose (156) - good. Blood pressure 120/80 - good. I sat around for another 15 minutes when my PI teammate Darcy Africa came strolling in. She looked good and was on a mission, in 3rd position and looked to catch the Spanish woman. Darcy finished very strong in the 28.30 range - congrats Darcy! Soo good to see you run strong all day - well deserved. 26.19 I finally left Vallorcine and in 33rd position.

I gritted my teeth and kept telling myself this was it! "Run this bastard in" I kept telling myself. But it was not meant to be. I would run until I could barely stand and then walk like a drunk for a few minutes. Then repeat again and again. I finally get to Argentiere in 35th position and that is where the trail took a turn for the worse. The lady at the aid told me we had 6k to go and I was pumped. I ran out of there with a new zest in my legs. Just outside of Argentiere we started upwards on one of the worse trails I had seen all day. It was jagged with rocks of every size and shape, it seemed like there was nowhere to place your feet. I was left to walk all over again because I was not stable at all.

Up and down we went on the trail which seemed like an eternity. It was difficult to judge location because we were under the canopy of trees. Normally you could see Mt Blanc and the glaciers to gauge your placement in the valley. Finally we hit a path by the river and I thought we were home free... And then we went up again and I thought for sure I had gone wrong somewhere. I nearly turned around, back down the hill and retrace my steps to the path near the river. I was completely confused as to where I was. I finally made the decision to forge ahead and it turned out to be the right way.

Finally the bright lights of Chamonix and just after 4 AM. And who is there to greet me? None other than my trustworthy crew and family. My mom first greeted me on the outskirts of town and every time I see her I can tell she has worried. I can't look at her in the eyes because I get so emotional. Just after her is my son Jaxon. It has been a tradition since I began doing ultras 8 years ago that Jaxon finishes with me.

At 4 AM and Jaxon is by my side

I have never been through a second night of a race but now have a new found respect for it. Not only was I physically exhausted but mentally I was drained. This race stripped me to my core and then spit the core out. I won't say it's the hardest thing I've done but pretty darn close. And that brings me to my next point. I have been asked several times since the finish of UTMB of which is harder Hard Rock or UTMB? My answer is Hard Rock. And for no other reason than altitude. The climbs and drops may be bigger at UTMB but there is also more runnable terrain in between. People like to discount the altitude factor but it honestly takes more out of you than you think. Other people may disagree with my answer and that's OK, this is just my opinion and I'm happy to debate.

29 hours and 17 minutes after leaving Chamonix I came back after 39 other people. During that time my trustworthy crew met me at every possible checkpoint. That means they were up just as long as I was while driving around on the roads. I cannot thank them enough for their efforts. This finish is just as much theirs as it is mine. I will never forget this journey with the people I've met and the amazing scenery I've seen. This was a once in a lifetime experience by having my entire family at the race. To my wife and two sons - you guys mean the world to me. I am deeply indebted to you all for your sacrifices. To my euro PI crew - you guys quickly became my friends and I will never forgot what you did for me and my family. To Rae Jean - for tolerating me as I go through my range of emotions before and after the race. And also taking my two boys so my wife can devote her time to me. And to my parents - who are with me every step of the way. All I have to do is look up to the sky at night and know you are looking at the same stars as I am looking out for me. To my friends Nick and Dakota - it was quite a ride over those 3 weeks and I will always remember the times we shared. And to all my other friends along the way - I cherished all the times on the trail and time spent in town.

Finally back with the family at the finish

The crew who got this one guy through it (Paul is taking the photo)

Total Climbing on the day via the new HighGear Axio HR

The 3 week traveling trio
There is lots more tell so I will make another post once you digest this one. I also have a ton more pictures that I will post. Until then, enjoy every moment and live it like it's your last. When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pictures from the last 36 hours

Self explanatory. Just let me say, Chamonix is amazing! All of it has been amazing thus far but Chamonix is awe-inspiring!

The Colorado "ultra" boys pad in Zinal

Pablo Vigil going over the course the night before

The start with the first little bit of the first climb looming in the background

Before the start - Young Money kicked some serious arse!

The festivities post race

Which lead to this

The top guys

Pablo's crew

Arriving in Chamonix - Hotel de l'Arve

Rue du Docteur Paccard street in Chamonix

Behind those clouds you can see hints of the massive Mt. Blanc

Even the magazine rack suggests it's different here in Europe for trail runners

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ça me plaît beaucoup ici.

That's the extent of French of learned. ...and it came directly from a translation book. Good thing I have Nick Clark around to do my talking for me.

I arrived in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday morning after a long 8 hour flight from Washington DC. Opened the shade of my window on the plane as the sun came up and could not believe the beauty; green, big mountains (Alps), and glacier carved horseshoe valleys. Tired but revived from the beauty. Nick and I soon got on a train (2 hours) that took us around Lake Geneva and up to the Rhone valley where we would transfer to a bus up a narrow, winding road up to Zinal.

Once in Zinal we were whisked away by Alexandra (athlete coordinator) who took us to a welcome reception full of wine, food, and live music on a Swiss mountain hillside. A little dazed and confused at all the excitement but then it hits me "this is Europe". There we meet up with Dakota Jones, our faithful Colorado brother and now new roommate.

Since that time it has been non-stop of running amazing trails (some so steep they installed chains), sight seeing old Swiss Peasant towns (Grimentz), and of course eating 3 square meals arranged by the race. Simply amazing. But rather than me try to explain through words, I'll just post a couple of pictures at the bottom to set the scene.

Before the pictures though I just want to say what an honor it is to be here as a guest of Pablo Vigil (4x SZ winner). I am amazed at all the talent this race draws, to include from the US: Max King, Joe Grey, Glen Randall, Megan Lund-Lizette, and Brandy Erholtz. I don't know the European runners just because this is a whole different racing scene. Which, I might add, is a whole lot more competitive AND FAST. I am nowhere near as fast as the some 50 invited runners, but I will tell you that I am contending as a Veteran I (masters), so I feel good about my chances of a top 5 on that side. And some possible cashola. I will let you know how it goes in a couple days. Until then enjoy the pics below. I'm gonna try and get some sleep before the race in the morning.

L to R: Max King, Scott Jaime, Dakota Jones, Glen Randall, Nick Clark, Joe Grey, Pablo Vigil
Bottom L to R: Brandy Erholz, Megan Lund-Lizette, Alexandra Jodidio

Town of Grimentz

Tram ride up to lunch today above Zinal

Colorado "ultra" runners enjoying the finer things

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Where do I begin

Appropriate title for the blog post because it's been quite some time since I've posted anything and I have lots to say. This is gonna be a long one so go grab one of these.

Sure lots has been happening on the running front but also on the life front as well. Lately I've been in and out of some sort of motivational funk which turns into forcing myself out the door to run - that's not the way it's supposed to be! Yesterday on the Buchanan/Pawnee loop outing with friends really brought home why I started running on the trails some 8 years ago - enjoying the great outdoors with friends! But before I recap yesterdays adventure I want to go back to the SpeedGoat 50K and recap that race.

SpeedGoat 50K - 6.44 11th place
I have always wanted to do the SG50 since Karl started it a few years ago but the problem always has been recovering from HardRock. I don't recover fast and really marvel at those who do so not having done HR this year this was the perfect race to prep for UTMB and get back to my home state to visit family and friends.

My training was blah leading up to the race but I still had a goal of getting under the 6 mark based on previous times of people I know. Right out of the gate I was in the lead group with Joe Grant, Nick Clark, and Ben Lewis. The lungs took a while to come around but about the 20 minute mark things started to flow. I felt strong so I decided to use my fresh legs to push a tidge to test those less fresh-straight off HR legs. Nick followed and we created a little bit of a gap prior to getting to the top of the first climb. At the aid I tried to go down the ridge we would later come up and they quickly course corrected me and thus put me behind Joe and Nick. I was amazed how quickly Joe gapped both Nick and I on the down - in the span of a mile and 1/2 he had two minutes. With those tiny NB shoes and gnarly trail that is simply amazing!

The next aid, Larry's Hole, is where things went South. And before I say anything else, let me just say that the course was marked extremely well. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of junctions where course Marshall's were located all day - except this one. The right path takes you up the 'elevator shaft' straight up to where we just came. The left path starts the loop and the correct direction. Joe went right and the 3 of us followed. We heard people whistling, yelling, and hooting from Larry's Hole and we got so close to the top that we could people screaming from above. We all thought they were just getting into the race and cheering everyone on, until we heard a very distinct "TURN AROUND". Shit! A full 20 minute detour, I'd say more but who's counting. Of the four of us I'd say it affected me the most. Before that I was running good in high spirits and hopeful of the outcome. But for some reason it ate at me and I didn't have the fire in my belly to catch people. Simply put. Even at the turn around when Roch indicated Karl upped the winnings to $1000 I just didn't care. Not a good place to be in a race.

At any rate, I was still running good and feeling good. I passed a few people and then they passed me back before the finish. We came upon Larry's Hole again, probably mile 20 and someone indicated my teammate was only 8 minutes up on me. That surprised me and actually gave me a little spark. I pushed up the elevator shaft again and slowly gained on Greg Norrander who had passed me back already. Another guy was between us so the 3 of us went through the tunnel within 30 seconds of each other. At this point I was totally confused on where we were going, I thought we would go back up the hidden peak... And then I quickly remembered this is a Meltzer designed course and we certainly have to go down to work for the summit of hidden peak, right? Yep. Down towards Snowbird base, a few turns off the main road. I caught the first right turn but I missed the second left turn and continued downwards. My head was down because I was trying to first catch Greg and the other guy but when I looked up I noticed I was pretty close to the canyon floor. I turned around after about 5 or 6 minutes and saw two yellow "wrong way" streamers. Shit again! For a fleeting moment I almost went all the way down, which was right above the condo, to get a shower. No gotta finish this one out. It wasn't going my way but this is trail racing and staying the course is part of the adventure. I normally don't get off course this much so maybe I'll get some karma moving forward. And I want to reiterate - the course was marked VERY WELL!

Up the ridge trail I go, back up to hidden peak. I look below and notice 3 guys coming straight down the road. They apparently missed the first right turn and just came straight to the ridge trail. I told them they had just cut about a mile off but wouldn't worry about it at this point. I never looked back so I don't know what they did but I figured I did a little extra for them. And down, down, down to the finish I go methodically making my way. Obviously I have no sense of urgency other than to crack my first frosty brewski with family and friends waiting.

The finish is the best part - always. But having so many family and friends there made it extra special. My sister and her family came all the way from Logan, thank you Patty. My Mom and Dad are always there so it was a nice little family reunion. My In laws where there, as they always are in support of me. Simply just hanging around the finish line drinking the goodness of the earth and visiting with people who are so close to my heart is enough to say that this race was a success. I told Karl that the SpeedGoat is an instant classic in my mind and I will be back every year to soak in the atmosphere. Congrats to all who toed the line, in particular, my friend Matt Keddington. This was Matt's first ultra and he did amazing - 9.20! I coached Matt in college (soccer) and he used to tell me running was for wussies.... glad to see you came full circle Matt.

Buchanan/Pawnee Loop - 6.04
Rather than me try to explain how beautiful and tough this loop is just go over here or here to get the full rundown with some pics and video. And here to see a video recap of our adventure.
I mentioned earlier about my motivational funk. Maybe after running 2500+ myles for the past 7 years, day in and day out, I am just burnt out of running by myself. Well it happens to be 7 years ago when I met Brian Fisher at my first trail race at Mt Falcon. We ran the race stride for stride then entire time, exchanged information at the end, and that was the beginning of a friendship that started on the trail. Fast forward to yesterday when Brian and I reconvened with Todd Ganglehoff, Joe Ziegenfuss, Troy Howard, Tim Long, and Eric Truhe. Thanks to Todd for organizing this adventure because I would have otherwise resorted to my standby all by myself in the same funk of trying to talk myself into a long run.

Obviously I needed more of a social event rather than a suffer-fest, so for 95% of the run I resorted to just enjoying myself. Up to the first pass (Buchanan) Todd and Troy sped off and the rest of us formed a line a few minutes back of them hitting the pass in about 2 hours. We dropped down to the bowl and reconvened to eat and drink. Just below Buchanan was an amazing place - stunning beauty. All I could think about is getting my son Jaxon up to that point to enjoy some backpacking. When you see footfeathers video, all that green vegetation is part of the area below Buchanan pass.

Down we went for the better part of 4 myles, then taking a left onto Cascade? trail. It was at this point where I decided to put a little work in. Todd led the way again with Troy, Eric, and myself in tow. Not really sure how far up we went in myles but I would say we cranked for about 45 minutes to the Crater Lake cutoff where we went left. We sat on a log, reconvened for a 4th time, and then we were off again. I thought about cranking all the way to Pawnee pass but shortly after starting up again my lower back tightened up pretty good. I stopped and stretched a few times, twisted and turned, hoping something would release it. Nothing was working so I dealt with it, having to shorten my stride the rest of the trip. I am not sure what triggers this pain but it's primarily on my left side which sends shooting pains down my left leg, and sometimes my left leg will go out because of it. Last time this happened I was given sage advice from none other than Brian Fisher to do core work to strengthen the muscles around there. Last time it worked and I have since gone away from doing any such core work, go figure.

Troy, Eric, and Todd took off again for the rest of the climb up Pawnee. If you've never been then the best way to describe it is the backside of Hope Pass. And if you've never been to Hope then just think straight up a boulder field to 12,500 in about 1.5 myles or less. I kept looking around wondering where the trail went because there seemed to be no notches to go over. I finally made it up to Pawnee Pass in 5 hours.

Now the trip down, which seemed to be worse on the back than leaning forward going up. Again, it is stunning up there looking down the valley seeing the trail wind down between the beautiful lakes. The one thing I did not anticipate was the amount of people on this trail once we hit tree line. My goodness! People of all sorts up high that astounding Brian and I. Brian let me go first so I could continually say "on yer left" and then get the dirty looks. Most people kindly got out of the way but some just looked at us as to say "WTF?!"

It just so happens that Brian and I spent the final myles stride for stride on another epic trip into some beautiful country. Almost as if that's the way it was supposed to be and as Brian put it "a secret love affair". We enjoy the same things in life. And with both of us having families, life usually happens most of the time with an adventure like this once in a while bringing it all back home. Makes us realize why we started trail running in the first place.

One final time to reconvene at the Brainard Lake trail head and tell stories of the day. The only way it could have been better on such a stellar day was to plan better and have a cooler full of beer waiting. The one story that I wish I had a picture of began before we even hit the trail. A bunny decided to jump right into Troy Howard's grill of his Toyota 4runner. We pulled up to the parking lot, came around to the front of his truck and remembered we hit the bunny but didn't feel like we ran it over. No wonder. It looked like it tried to jump at the last minute and went head first into the grill with the body dangling out. Tim Long saw it and thought it was one of those fake stuffed animals as a joke... looked like it. Anyways Troy tried to pull it out and it's head popped off.

Good times with some good people. Besides the back pain, this adventure has re-invigorated my mind. Good luck to Troy as he tackles Wasatch, good luck to FF, Brian, and Eric as they run Pbville, and good luck to Todd as he tackles the Bear. All of these guys will do really well based on what I saw them doing Saturday. No pressure guys but a podium finish is in order - you are fit!

My week running
And last I leave you with my week in running. Coming back from Utah on Sunday I headed straight for OKC where it was 110+. That's enough to make anyone not wanna run. I did get out for a couple runs on the treadmill but since I was with my boss I was very limited on time. The day after SG50 I did get out for a 4 mile run before I hopped in the car - good sign because I was not sore from the race at all. I was stiff but no deep tissue soreness. Here's the week:

Monday - meetings, travel no running
Tuesday - AM 6 myles TM (5 x 1 minute 10 MPH)
PM 4 myles TM (8 MPH)
Wednesday - meetings, travel no running
Thursday - The Bluffs 8+ myles (2 x 5 minutes LT - fastest time so far)
Saturday - Buchanan/Pawnee loop 26+ myles (8000+ ft of climbing)
Sunday - nothing yet

Total - 56 myles, 9 hrs 52 mins, 10,700 ft of climbing

I will make one more post with some thoughts around France regarding expectations and other non-running related things. I am traveling over with Nick Clark on Wednesday, August 10th.