Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

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.

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