Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Monday, October 1, 2012

UROC 100k - 9.38 12th

Going into UROC I knew my body wasn't 100%, but I also knew I'm as fit as I've been all year.  So I took a huge risk racing knowing that my previous race (Leadville) resulted in a DQMITTFL.  Above all, I wanted to end my year on positive note.  Here's how the weekend went:

Traveling to Charlottesville was quite the adventure with a huge delay in Denver that caused a missed connection flight.  I ended up renting a car from DC to Charlottesville and driving through a horrendous rain storm that ultimately would delay any incoming flights to Charlottesville.  It all worked out though as I met up with Rosemary and Ellie in Charlottesville airport.  Already 10:30 PM, I was was ready for the bed.  Turns out we would wait until 1:30 AM for our travel partners, Nick Clark, Jorge Maravilla and my luggage.  

Traveling partners to Wintergreen resort

Finally arrived at our house in the Wintergreen resort just after 2:30 AM.  A very nice house, I might add.  My roommates: Bryon and Meagan of iRunFar, Ian Sharman, Jorge Maravilla, and Jordan McDougal.  Having had a good nights rest, Friday was all about lounging around and race check in.  Gill and Francesca did an amazing job organizing this event as we did pre-race interviews and later that evening a panel discussion.  Lot's of work to organize but the result is what we all look for in an ultra event - camaraderie.

Race day morning I was feeling very optimistic in terms of having a steady day.  Notice I didn't say "fast".  The sciatica I have been experiencing has really limited me in doing any resemblance of speed work so I would have to rely on consistency throughout the race.  Right from the gun I settled into the back of the pack as we shot down (2800ft) a very rocky and slippery 3 mile trail.  I was really surprised how fast I lost sight of 20 guys but I really was in good company with Ellie by my side.  At the bottom 20 guys came running back, as they had taken a wrong turn and lost a couple of minutes.  Ellie and I benefited and quickly joined them on the climb back up.  Once we started to go back up, I began to feel very comfortable and rapidly made contact with the top 10.  If only I could have more of this climbing today I would be OK, I thought.  We transitioned back to the road and then back to the trail and so goes the back and forth sporadically throughout the day.

Wintergreen resort sits on top of a hill so there is a 3 mile/1000+ft descent to get to the Blue Ridge Pkwy (BRP). This being the second big descent my quads were already quivering in weakness.  I was really nervous as we started on the BRP but pleasantly surprised as I got into cruise mode.  Cruise mode for me turned out to be around 7:30/8 pace and I think for the most part I was maintaining my position.  Nearing the turn around Ellie caught me and rapidly went by at least 20 sec/mile faster.  So much for maintaining huh?  I actually felt good coming off the road as we approached the Whetstone aid (32 myles) and the beginning of 8 myles of trail.

Going into the race I had tinkered with my diet, primarily going gluten, coffee, and processed sugar free for a month.  I had a feeling that as much coffee as I've been drinking that I may have been taxing my adrenal glands and thus had nothing to tap into late in a race.  Sluggish every morning?  Yes.  So as I took my first cups of Mountain Dew at Whetstone I was buzzing, coupled with the fact I was on some beautiful single track.  Its almost as if a light had been switched on and I was in "hunting mode".  As I commented to iRunFar "the trail has awakened MexiFast!"

Still no speed, yet steady, coming back on the BRP but I had a sense that I would be catching a few people.  Up through mile 48 I had only caught up with Dominic Grossman at the aid station.  Seeing him on the road it appeared we were running identical pace so I thought we could help each other.  Dr. David Horton was my crew and it always was a pleasure to see him on the course, having him give me aid and updates.  Thank you David!  Next up would be Frank Gonzales but on the long stretches of the BRP I was not catching sight of anyone.  A little demoralizing but I was still motivated to finish strong.

Finally to the last aid station, Reeds Gap (mile 59).  Meagan (iRunFar) was there and she conducted a little "on the run" interview.  Always gives me a boost to see Bryon and Meagan out on the course.  So I charged up the final 3 mile/1000ft climb and ran nearly all of it.  Energy was good all day, not really any down spots.  I felt the best while I was climbing and being able to run the last hill after 9 hours really made me feel satisfied with a 9.38 12th place finish.

Not only have I been tinkering with my diet but my race day nutrition as well.  I realize nutrition and hydration is very individualistic but for me here is what gave me good energy all day: 3 First Endurance EFS liquid shots - Kona Mocha, 2.5 oz (200 calories) diluted down into a 20 oz water bottle.  Each bottle lasts about an hours and 1/2.  In addition, I carry two EFS liquid shot flasks and take a nip at each full strength every 45 minutes.  I realized the full strength concentration was too much for my stomach to handle for extended periods of time so this diluted version did not mess with my stomach and gave me great -even keel- energy all day.  I also grabbed a handful of boiled potatoes at every aid station and would continually put them in my mouth to have something to chew on.  Last, I added Mountain Dew and Coke at about the 40 mile mark for the extra jolt of energy.

NOT gluten free beer.  Fat Tire all the way from Colorado

Great way to end the season.  I am very pleased with the result.  My legs are incredibly sore today but well worth it.  Thanks to Gill, Francesca, Rosemary, and David Horton for all of their wonderful support!  The last night made every bit of the race come together as we had burgers and beer with the AJW family, Scott McCoubrey, iRunFar, and few runners - all of whom I consider great friends.

Sunday, August 19, 2012



DNF is such a harsh term.  It makes me cringe every time I say it so I'm going with a new term -DQMITHFL.  Didn't Quite Make It To The Finish Line.  I did make it, however, I was assisted by a vehicle with my wristband cut off.  I am more bummed for my crew and pacer than I am for myself because they spent the day at Twin Lakes supporting me.

Not much to really elaborate on so I will be brief:

Since Hardrock (5 weeks ago) I put in about 250 myles with an entire week off and a taper week included.  With those myles I have been battling lower left back pain (don't want to self diagnose myself here but would appear to be Sciatica).  Yeah it causes me to limp but for some reason I thought it would go away the longer I ran.

Right from the gun I felt it but no different than the previous weeks so I plodded along with optimism.   I got to May Queen in pretty good time (1.44) but with no up or down, I had not really challenged the back. Up onto the Colorado Trail, up and over Sugar loaf, and into Fish Hatchery (3.21) my stride became altered but once back onto the flats it seemed to be tolerable.  I cruised the road pretty good and thought I could deal with it but then we hit the Colorado Trail again with some climbing and rolling hills.  Sure enough it started to hurt a little more.

Leaving Fish Hatch with Jason Ostrom and Lucho
I had every intention of dropping at Twin Lakes (5.54) but as my crew looked on while I rolled my back on a tennis ball (ala Nick Pedatella), I needed to make an attempt to get over Hope Pass.  The tennis ball was painful but it seemed to help so kept going over it.  Then my savior, Cindy Stonesmith (massage therapist), came over and really worked on me for the next 30 minutes.  I hate to admit it but she brought a little tear to my eye as she dug in there with her elbow, working my back and hip flexor.  She eventually made something in my foot pop, I have no idea what the correlation is but it seemed to release something and I was relatively better.

I left Twin Lakes just under 7 hours into the race and I hiked up Hope Pass really smooth.  Leaning forward with my hands on my knees seem to the do the trick.  Down the back side of Hope and onto the new section of trail all was going smooth but the tightness returned on the left side going into Winfield (9.30).  Nick Pedatella was over there and he really tried to give me another work over but the longer I sat the tighter the back got.  Snipped off the wrist band and rode back to Twin Lakes with Brandon Fullers crew.

To be honest, I was embarrassed to walk up the street at Twin Lakes licking my wounds and telling people my sob story.  I saw the look in their eyes "you look fine, WTF?"  And that's the tough thing is that my spirits and energy were good and positive all day, even after 50 myles.  So as I walked up the street the Patricks (Garcia and Stewart) each came up offering a full beer.  Thanks guys, you know me well!

To my crew: Nicole and my boys, Mom and Dad, Rick, to my solitary pacer Scott Tucker, Nick Pedatella, and to Cindy Stonesmith - Thank you for supporting me.  It's never an easy decision to call it a day but I figure the longer I do this, it's inevitable this happen every once in a while.  Better days to come!

Some amazing performances out there: Of course everyone who finished but in particular my PI teammates Nick and Ashley for pulling down the number 3 positions and Darcy for cranking out yet another 100 mile to keep the Rocky Mountain Slam alive.  In addition, the Leadman race was outstanding, Lucho and Troy battled to within minutes of the title with Lucho pulling it out as Leadman champion and new record holder - Amazing!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hardrock 100 - 28.37 6th

Start of HR 2012 - photo Fred Marmsater

First and foremost I need to say thank you to my wife and family!  The journey leading up to HR is never possible without my wife to support me in every decision we make around HR.  And that includes spending all our vacation time in Silverton, Colorado.  It's never "No" but "let's see how we can work this out"  Thank you Nicole!  1 month in Silverton is not easy.  Thank you Jaxon and Myles for understanding (trying anyways) to know what this HR thing is all about.  Thank you to my In Laws who love Hardrock as much -or even more- than I do.  Thank you to the Darnold's for the their continued support.  And last, thank you to my Dad, brother, and nephew for coming to see this crazy thing we do.  I hope the San Juans have left an impression of inspiration on you like they have for me over the past 6 years.

Is there any wonder why we run Hardrock? photo - irunfar

Nicole and her new friend after hanging out a month in Silverton
(she is not a DG)

Run your race---Be smart---Run within your limits...  That's what was engrained in my skull the days leading up to the race.  The last time I ran this race I blew up.  I remember it like it was yesterday so I wasn't going to let it happen again.  I've trained too hard for the past two months to let my race distintegrate in the matter of a few hours.  This is 100 myles and the one who is patient yet persistant will have a great day.  I wanted to hunt as opposed to survive the last 30 myles.  Here's how it went:

Start - KT (2.27) 11.5 myles
I knew Karl wasn't going out fast so I figured if I stayed with him through Telluride, I would be keeping it "under the hood".  A group of about 6 of us climbed steadily towards the Putnam basin, not a constant run but rather a run/hike, whatever felt natural.  There was a lot of chatter and joking going on and also many statements of how lucky we really are to be enjoying this day in the San Juans with such a good group of friends.  None of us felt like we were working and as we approached the KT aid station road we knew we were a little fast but because it felt easy so we just kept rolling along at that pace.

 Leaders at KT - Photo irunfar

KT - Chapman (1.32) 18.9 myles
Nicole, Rick, and the Darnold's hiked up from the South Mineral CG to give me some aid.  Nicole quickly gave me my Ultraspire Spry vest which contained an EFS liquid shot bottle (5 oz EFS LS + 15oz of water) tucked in the back, some boiled potatoes in the front pockets, and a light shell with gloves.  My fueling system was perfect. While I had two handhelds, only one in hand while the other was tucked in the back pocket of the vest.  When I was climbing for a while I would put the other bottle in the back of my shorts so I could use my hands to push on my lower thighs - that was a technique I picked up from the Euros last year at UTMB.

Up Grant Swamp we go.  There was a little separation between myself, Dakota, Karl, and Nick as we trailed Hal, Timmy Parr, and Joe by about 400 yards.  At the top I could not believe how many people had made the climb, at least 30 people taking pictures, ringing bells, and just overall energy.  I bolted down the other side towards Chapman, going all the way to the right where the dirt was soft to get some good traction.  Across the rock field, down into the trees, and into Chapman with Joe, Hal, and Dakota.  It really did feel effortless up to this point but I questioned if it was too much.  I certainly wasn't going to push it up Oscar's.

Chapman - Telluride (2.25) 27.8 myles
I tucked my bottle in my shorts and started to push on my lower thighs.  Of the two previous training runs up Oscar's this was the best I had felt.  I soon caught up with the 3 leaders and just marched on very steadily up the 8 or so switchbacks.  The clouds had covered the sun so it was pleasant and not hot like I thought it would be.  Up at the top there was another slew of people who brought more energy.  I stopped to change bottles out of my vest and the top 3 were gone!  It was at this point I realized I was getting caught up in it again and made the decision to run down to Telluride at a very mellow pace.  Time to get refueled and let me body try to absorb some of the potatoes I was taking in.  The climb out of Telluride always kicks me in the teeth so I wanted to save something for it.

I really felt great getting into Telluride.  The energy was amazing!  I saw my brother and that gave me a really good boost.  He's never seen any of my races so I wanted to make a good impression.  As my wife restocked my potatoes and ran out of the aid station with me I told her that I was doing everything in my power to slow down.  I felt like I was crawling.  It was kind of scary because even though I had gone an addition two myles (reroute) I was still within 15 minutes of my time last time through here.

Starting up Oscar's - photo John Medinger

Telluride - Kroegers (1.49) 32.8 myles
There is no getting around the fact that the climb up to Kroegers is a kick in the teeth.  I was climbing good and even running the flatter sections but once we clear the trees - it is just plain tough!  As I cleared the trees it started raining pretty hard and I was soaked immediately.  I kept eating the potatoes and sucking on my EFS bottle but the energy was leaving me pretty quick.  I knew some of that had to do with the altitude so I wasn't worried too much.  By the time I had entered Roch's cantina I was a bit woosy and they could see it in my eyes.  I took my first coke and bolted down the other side.  Both Karl and Nick were on my heels but I didn't mind because I knew they were good company.

Kroegers - Governor Basin (0.32) 36 myles
I was absolutely freezing on top of Kroegers but as soon as I got onto the road leading to camp bird I was pretty much dry and warm again.  I didn't stop at Governor because I was in a groove and knew I should just maintain my pace so that I could get off the road as quickly as possible.

Governor Basin - Ouray (1.09) 43.9 myles
I ran the entire road.  Shouldn't be such a big deal but the two previous times in this direction I couldn't run the road because I was starting to feel it.  I knew I wasn't blazing but there were no doubts in my mind that the pace I was running was good.  Shortly before I turned to go into Ouray, Karl and Timmy Parr caught me and were moving just a tad bit faster.  Mentally and physically that was OK for me.  Flashback to last time, I had a feeling that I needed to push to stay in front, even though I was suffering by the time I got to Ouray.  I had to push harder than I ever had before.  We all know the result so this year I was in a good place.  Ironically as I pulled into the aid station, so did Diana Finkel.  Almost the same spot as the previous time.  Basically 10 hrs into the run now and I really do feel like I'm running a good race.
Jaxon with some solid advice in Ouray - photo Alyssa Wideboer

Ouray - Engineer (2.55) 51.5 myles
Both times previous this climb has always been the worst.  Something physiologically goes wrong on the climb to Engineer.  I was certain that I escaped this time, but it was not to be.  By the time I reached the "dinner plates" (4 myles out), I was dizzy and nausious.  At about which time Jonathan Bashman passed me and offered assistance.  I started shoving more potatoes and more EFS into my mouth as well as water.  In fact, I left Ouray with two bottles and I had to dip into the stream at the first crossing before Engineer aid station.  I was taking care of myself.  I seemed to snap out of it within 30 minutes and I was even running the flatter stuff in the meadows leading into the aid station.  At the aid station, I sat down and drank a coke and ate two cookies.  I left with a positive state of mind that I would be making it to Grouse before dark.

Engineer - Grouse (1.38) 58.4 myles
There is only one part to this section that is real tough, and it's the last 400 meters getting to Engineer pass.  This year some guy yelling "that's what I'm talking about" and his van was full of all sorts of goodness.  But my the time I got to the top I was hurting and didn't even want to talk.  Sorry dude.  Now down the road for 5 myles to Grouse.  All I kept thinking is "running is easy downhill".  My whole goal was to run the entire road at a relaxed pace.  Last time I was not able to run more than 5 minutes at a time and didn't reach Grouse till way after dark (without a headlamp).

Because I was way late last time, Dale Garland came up the road in his truck to check on me.  It's always good to see Dale, even if I don't like chatting, Dale has a way of striking up conversation.  It was a mental boost for me for sure.  I rolled into Grouse 14 and 1/2 hours after I started and it was still light.  Even though I wanted to use the daylight, I needed a little break to eat some pumpkin pie, soup broth, and more coke.  It was also good to chat it up with those who were driving around these mountains to support me.  By this time my EFS LS consumption was dwindling so my crew cut the concentration in 1/2 - 2.5 oz EFS LS to 18oz of water.  I need the calories because between Ouray and Grouse (4.5 hrs) I only had a few potatoes and a couple cookies.

Grouse - Sherman (4.21) 71.8 myles
In my mind this is when I start to hunt.  But as I climbing over to American Basin I would be a starving hunter...  I felt like crap!  I had to stop several times even before I crested the first climb.  I turned my light on about a mile outside of Grouse.  Down the valley I saw a string of better hunters and I was about to be dinner.  I kept eating, I kept drinking, but I couldn't help but stop after about 10 minutes.  Finally, Adam Wilcox caught me on the final ascent up Handies.  I was dry heaving and freezing cold. Adam stopped to offer anything but I was trashed and beyond repair at that point.  I just needed to rest for a good 5 minutes but I knew I would freeze before that.  I pushed on and over the top where I rejoined Adam.  I certainly was feeling better after I descended about thousand feet.

Now I was moving much better and started to get into a rhythm down to Burrows park.  Midway down I caught a slowing Timmy Parr and his pacer Duncan Callahan.  Hoping for Timmy to turn it around but it wasn't meant to be.  Although I will say, Timmy toughed this one out and got his HR finish.  Nice job Timmy!  Down the road I go into Sherman, and again, I don't want to stop at all.  All these roads are slightly down but this one feels uphill for some reason.  At any rate, I run into Sherman with Jason Koop and Pete Stevenson.  I need another break but both Jason and Adam barely stop.  I ate pretty good at Sherman and 10 minutes later left with some good energy.  My father in law Rick came over with Mindy Campbell so that was a boost of energy and confidence as well.

Sherman - Pole Creek (3.10) 80.9 myles
My spirits and energy are good despite being on my feet just over 19 hours.  I climbed really well up cataract gulch, catching Jason Koop around 30 minutes into the climb.  I could see two more sets of lights ahead so that gave me energy to push harder.  As soon as I reached the top, I was right behind one set while another had slowly gained from behind.  Ted Mahon and pacer passed me just as we started our descent into Pole Creek.  I thought I was moving good -forward anyways- but Ted was moving great!  I tried to stay attached but it was too much.  I got into Pole Creek just after 4 AM and Ted had put 10 minutes on me.

I stayed at Pole Creek for about 10 minutes drinking coke and eating cookies.  I was not in a hurry and really felt like I was coming into my own.  I was confident as I left Pole Creek!

Pole Creek - Maggie Gulch (1.25) 85.2 myles
As I looked across the valley I could see 3 sets of lights.  I started putting time checks in my mind which told me I was back into hunting mode.  I was not looking behind at all.  I ran most of the valley and then had to hike the climb to get up to the Colorado Trail.  I turned my light off at the crest of the climb leading into Maggie.  I was hurting but I was also gritting my teeth and wanted this to be over.  As I rolled into Maggie I saw Ben and then I saw Diana!  I couldn't believe it and was feeling bad for her.  I know she would not have been there unless something was really wrong.  She had such a fantastic race going but because of the Rhabdomyolisis symptoms, it was the right choice to stop.

I packed away all my night stuff, drank a coke, and ate some stuff.  They offered me a "bacon and maple" roll but I was not at all intrigued by that combo.  I have always had a good climb out of Maggie so I was hopeful I could catch a glimpse of someone to fuel my climb.

Maggie Gulch - Cunningham (1.54) 91.3 myles
The climb didn't go that smooth out of Maggie as I had to stop a few times but got sight of someone so I  kept pressing.  Up and over Buffalo Boy ridge and onto Green Mountain and I was slowly, but surely, reeling someone in.  By the time we could see Cunningham aid station we were running together.  Into the aid station, and again, I took my time.  I ate more pumpkin pie and more coke.  I emptied out my vest and took one water bottle over the Dives Little Giant climb.

Cunningham in hunt mode - photo irunfar

Cunningham - Silverton (2.39) 102.1 myles
All of that climbing goodness that I had in my legs had now suddenly left.  I couldn't keep pace and had to rest every 10 minutes.  Once I was near the top, Zeke Tiernan and James Bonnett came bolting by and it gave me reason to stop for a break.  They gave me some good energy and decided I would try to run it all the way in.  My time up to the top of the last climb was not good at all but once I started down I was moving really good.

Finally down the switchback road to the river where I caught up with Karl.  He had been having a rough go trying to stay awake since Sherman.  I offered to run it in together but he was having none of it. On the flat section coming in I had a renewed sense of energy so this section went by pretty quick.

Representin' the gray hairs

Eric and Dillon at the finish while Dad looks on

Sure I wanted the race to be over but when the awards are done, there is a certain emptiness that takes hold for the next few weeks.  The Hardrock family gets into your blood and I can't wait to go back!

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Ascending 100,000 feet in the month of June was the goal.  I have never been close to that number while preparing for Hardrock so why not give a go and see what happens.  Result: 388 myles and 106,385 feet ascended for the month.  Check.

So what does this mean at Hardrock?  In terms of pain - nothing.  In terms of confidence - everything.  One of my favorite quotes by Dave Horton is "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional".  In my mind, preparation forces the balance one way or the other.  I know I've done my best work to prepare for this year.  You know the song "everybody hurts" by R.E.M.?  Hardrock 100 does that to every runner, and if not, then you're not pushing to give your best.  Confidence is the key, especially during the second half of Hardrock which can flip the switch from survival mode to hunting mode.

The last time I ran Hardrock was two years ago, same direction (clockwise) as this year.  Reference this post to find out what happened.  I don't want to repeat that so my number one goal is to  NOT be the first person to Ouray.  I've won that race before, now it's time to be the fastest in the second half.  Better yet, what I'd like most out of this year is a PR.  A PR is something that I control with my own actions.  I can't control what other people do.  I could be 50th place, but would be a success if I kiss that rock in 27.47:52.

I am leaving to Silverton tomorrow and really look forward to seeing my extended Hardrock family once again.  Safe travels everyone!  For those of you at home, follow along here.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Leona Divide 35.3 - 4.50

Translation - DNF.

"You're crazy, that's too much racing" said Dave Mackey post Lake Sonoma.  Dave is pretty much a doctor so I should have listened to him.  In addition, I was battling my shins for the week post Lake Sonoma but I thought I'd made it through.  A good reminder of doing too much too fast.

Since I was working in Los Angeles the week leading up to Leona Divide, it made perfect sense for me to be racing.  That was until we starting climbing the first hill.  This day I was real content letting about 20 people slowly fade away, along side Dominic Grossman.  Dom and I would spend the next 20 myles going back and forth, he was battling his stomach and I was unsure of what I could sustain.  The climbs seemed to get easier so I was thinking I would maintain the pace and cruise in.

At the top of the last big climb going out, I caught up with Jamil Coury and then James Bonnet shortly after @ mile 24.  Even though it seemed slow, I was very comfortable at 8 pace on the rolling hills and really started to gain confidence that I was going to run a good race.  The turnaround for this race is at mile 29.6 with a steep fire road down 2.5 myles.  During this descent is when I started to get shooting pains in my shins, an all too familiar problem I had for the better part of the Colorado Trail a few years ago, I knew this was not good.  Going up hill, the Tibialis anterior gets a good workout by pulling the toes up, but it's on the downhill when it's stretched out and that's when the pain occurs.

I climbed back up to the single track where is was more rolling to get a better evaluation of how the shins would feel....  even on the shortest dip the pain returned.  At this point I knew it was not a good idea to try to make it in 15 more myles, even though the energy was good.  I got to Jimmie Dean Freeman's aid station and it was a full on 80's Jazzersize dance station.  JDF asked if I could walk to the next aid station, which was only 3 myles away and I told him no and would wait until they packed it up at 5.  Thank goodness Jesse Haynes came up to make a deliver and graciously gave me a lift back to the start.  Thank you Jesse!  And thank you to Kiera and all her volunteers for pulling together an amazing race!

I'm not upset about not finishing because I did the right thing and in the moment when energy is good, it's a tough call.  Hardrock is the goal, and at this point I can't afford any injuries to force extended time off.  Having said that, I will bow out of Nick's race in two weeks and re-evaluate.   So I take away a few lessons re-learned: 1. If it sounds like too much, it is.  2. Listen to your body and gut.  3. I don't recover quick.

I walked away from this race feeling positive with my fitness and climbing legs with a good 35 myles and 6k climbing in 5 hours.  My only regret is that I missed Myles soccer game where he scored two goals.

On another note, HOW 'BOUT Dylan Bowman, Timothy Olson, and Ashley Nordell!!  DBow and TAO threw down the two fastest times in the history of Leona Divide.  Those guys, along with Nick Clark, are primed for podium spots at Western States.  Ashley Nordell ran from behind to nab 2nd place with the 6th fastest time!  Will she run Western States?  She is quietly putting together a great year!  Becky Wheeler ran CP50 and came away with 2nd in 8.11!  What's amazing is that she broke her foot in the first 15 myles and continued on.  Wow!  Congratulations Team Pearl Izumi!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lake Sonoma 50 - 7.43 15th Place

A week removed from Lake Sonoma and the body is recovering nicely. I can always tell when my fitness is coming around based on the amount of myles I can log the week after. This week I ran 42 myles and 7200 ft of elevation gain. Today was the best run of all; felt like I had no chain and no residual soreness. Hope I can feel this way going into Leona Divide next Saturday. Four 50 mile races in 8 weeks is against my better judgement but with the work schedule and family, it's the only way I will be ready for Hard Rock.

Now for a recap on Lake Sonoma:

I had no intentions of doing Lake Sonoma but with work meetings in San Francisco and Napa back to back it made perfect sense. Was I ready to race 50 myles? No. Maybe 35 myles but if I tried to race 50, it would not be pretty coming in. To top things off, this race was stacked with fast runners so in the back of my mind I knew I would try to race way outside my fitness level.

Tropical John yelled GO and I quickly found myself chatting it up with friends in the lead pack, Dakota, Nick, Dan O, etc... I didn't think the pace was that bad until Gary Gellin said "this is nuts! Are we running a 50K or 50m?" That's when it hit me that I was racing, but 10 myles into a race I was determined to see how long I would last hanging onto coat-tails. We arrived at Warm Springs aid (11.5), search for my drop bag (with diluted EFS Kona Mocha liquid shot) and they can't find it... Finally found it under the wheel of the truck. Seemed like an eternity but probably only 5 minutes, but I had lost contact with the leaders and I was still feeling good so I made a rookie move...

Warm Springs mile 11.5

I ran hard to try and make contact with the lead pack again, up two decent sized hills, and finally caught Gary, OOJ, and DanO. Gary was in front going slow up the hills but cruising at a nice clip on the downs and flats. He was keeping his HR in check (smart) and on one of the uphills I decided to maintain my pace to catch up to others... I've always had the notion of "going when it's good" and in this case it was too much. When I realized it was too much is when the four of us starting going up Rock Pile hill towards the turnaround and I could not keep pace, even at a fast walk. I decided I would eat and drink in hopes of restoring some order.

The order of energy never returned and knew by the inbound pass of Liberty Glen aid that it was going to be a long, slow death march in to the finish. As I stated in the beginning "maybe 35 myles of racing", turns out I only had a good 50K in me. So to the pain chamber I enter, an all too familiar place for me to visit. In fact, the guard now calls me by my first name... Anyways, it was a rough final 15 myles, with my HighGear XT7 GPS watch giving me mile splits (11ish) I knew I was crawling. I was 5 myles from the finish and no one had passed me so I started to settle even more when all of a sudden a train of 3 came flowing by; Jeff Browning, Scott Wolfe, and Jon Robinson all had a pretty good pace going and soon were out of sight. Here are the results and splits As you can see I slowed down significantly with a turnaround time of 3.22 and a finish of 7.43. Big congrats to all, but in particular my PI teammates Timothy Olson and Nick Clark for putting down some blazing times behind boy wonder.

Inbound Warm Springs mile 38.2

Sure I would have liked to do better by finishing strong but in the whole scheme of things I had a great time! Pre-race hanging out with friends, post-race hanging out with friends at Bear Republic, and the next day once again hanging out with friends at the Wilson winery. I love running ultras for the simple fact of community! No matter where you go or how you do, everyone always has a good time. Thanks to Tropical John and his crew for putting on a tremendous race! And just as a side note, Karl indicated in his odds that I was the "fan favorite"... not true! Jorge Maravilla was the fan favorite! I think I can pass for a Jorge....

My nutrition: 3 and 1/2 - 5 oz flasks of EFS liquid shot (Kona Mocha). I dilute each flask in about 16 oz of water and take a sip every 7-10 minutes. One water bottle lasts around 1.45 to 2 hours. Immediately after 2 big scoops of Ultragen to help restore order, works every time.

Next up: Leona Divide 50, April 28th.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chuckanut 50K 4.08:43 20th place

It's where fast dudes go to race!

Long overdue, I know. I've got a free moment so I'll briefly jot down some remaining thoughts.

Leading up to Chuckanut this year I felt like I was getting some good quality speed workouts and really thought I had a chance to crack 4 hours. The field was stacked. Probably the most competitive ultra I've ever been in so either the speed was going to be my undoing on the flats or, with the right discipline, could carry me under the 4 hour barrier. No small feat for this 42 year old master runner.

The weather was cold and rainy at the start with cold and snow at the top. To me, austere conditions are to my advantage so I was grinning from ear to ear at the start with layers while others lined up in singlets with gloves shivering - to each his own. Although I don't remember exact splits I know I was averaging 6:30s on the flat 6.7 mile Interurban path and by the time we hit the single track I was in 20-something place. I could no longer see the front pack, just like last year. This year, however, I wasn't working as hard to maintain that pace so I was hopeful.

Back and forth I went all day with Dan Olmstead and Joe Uhan, both of whom have more leg speed than I do. So my strategy was to stay in contact until we got to the Chuckanut Ridge Trail and try to put as much daylight between as I could because I knew coming back on the Interurban 6.7 mile flat path I would need at least 3 minutes to beat them. I got to the Chuckanut Ridge Trail behind Dan and in front of Joe, I soon caught Dan and was buzzing. I caught 4 other people and had high hopes of hitting that 4 hour mark. The rocky, twisty, rooty single track ended way too soon, I only hoped that I didn't expend too much energy on that section but at the same time made up some ground.

On the Lost Lake Trail, unlike last year where the wheels started to come off, I was still buzzing and had a good pace going. To my surprise, Chase Parnell caught and past me and was out of sight by the time we got to Chinscraper. Chase ended up finishing right at 4 hours so he had a great race. Over Chinscraper and down to Clayton beach I was feeling really good, looking at my splits every so often on the downhill and I was under 6 pace a few times. To my surprise again, I got into Clayton Beach (24.6) in 3.20 which was only 2 minutes faster than last year. I was shocked because I felt so much better this year.

Now we head back on the Interurban flat path and I see Hal Koerner about 30 seconds in front of me. I start to push but realize I just can't go any faster, maybe around 7 pace (I didn't dare look). All I know is that I was pushing as best I could and Dan Olmstead caught me 1/2 way home. I didn't dare look behind me because I knew I was slowing down. Sure enough, Luke Nelson and Mr. Double OJ (Joe Uhan) caught me about 1/2 mile from the finish. I was cooked and didn't even try to match their pace. It's a good and bad feeling to have; good to know that I left it all out there and bad because I couldn't respond. Damn you Double OJ, passed me on the path again! All in good fun of course because at the end of the day I was a minute faster than last year with worse conditions. Having said that I feel my fitness is coming around.

My nutrition: A banana, bagel, and triple shot coffee 2.5 hrs pre-race. Two PreRace caps 1/2 hour before start, 2 1/2 flasks of EFS liquid shot, two more Pre-Race caps 2 hours into the race. I carried one 20 oz Ultraspire Isomeric race bottle with a flask (5oz) of EFS liquid shot diluted that lasted about 1 hour and 45 mins each. Total I was carrying two additional flasks in my new PI ultra sweet pocket shorts (you will see them soon). We just had our PI team summit in Boulder where Robert Kunz from First Endurance came out to give us some pointers on nutrition. More specifically, gelling agents and food in Ultras. The message: stick to as much liquid carbohydrate as you can handle.

Now in front of me over the next 8 weeks I have 4, 50 mile races. Whaaat?! I know a little nutty but I figure the only way I'm going to get the myles in is to suffer in some races. I just don't have the time to get it in otherwise.

That's all for now. Hope all is well in your world.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

And so it begins

8 days 12 hours 14 minutes and 5 seconds is the record for the Colorado Trail.

Waterton Canyon officially opened on March 1st after being closed since July 2010 so crews could dregde Strontia Springs Reservoir. Thousands of cubic yards of sediment had to be removed that had built up from the 1996 Buffalo Creek wildfire and the 2007 Hayman wildfire. Which means all that heavy equipment occupied the 6 mile road leading to the start of the single track Colorado Trail. Over the past year and half hikers and bikers were rerouted to Indian Creek, no big deal. In fact, I thought it was more scenic but it prevented a bona fide attempt of an FKT on the CT until now.

Today was the first time in a year and half that I stepped foot on the proper CT and I was buzzing! There were tons of people out on a March blue bird day in Colorado; runners, bikers, walkers, fisherman, and even the mountain goats made an appearance. I didn't make it very far today, only to Lenny's rest and back, but come August I will once again make my way to Durango. I get butterflies even thinking about it right now! Back in 2009 I completed the Colorado Trail (with huge support from family and friends) in 11 days 12 hours and 47 minutes to finish on my 40th birthday. My goal was nothing more than to complete it on my birthday, averaging 40 myles a day. It was the hardest thing I have done in my life and now I want to take a stab at the record.

New signage at Waterton Canyon

It's funny how these things work their way into the mind. I remember while on the trail waking up at 3 AM every morning for 12 days and only 1/2 way through I didn't want to do it anymore. I had severe shin splints and nearly came away with compartment syndrome. My cankles were huge and feet bloated like a dead hippos feet. So why is it that I want to do this again? And faster nonetheless? With undoubtedly more pain? Those are hard questions to answer but I will tell you this: No matter what I do in life, I want to see what I AM capable of. What are my limits? How do I know what my limits are if I've never gone beyond them. I've run nearly 75 ultras and each time I step onto a course I give it my all and it hurts. But each time I finish, it's also the most gratifying feeling. Adrenaline Junkie? Yes! It's an addiction, but it's a healthy addiction that makes me a better father, husband, friend, and coworker. Without this fix I am in "the crowd". And you know what Albert Einstein said about "the crowd"? The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone, is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.

I haven't set an exact date of when I will hit the Colorado Trail but my guess it will be in the August timeframe. Ultimately, my attempt at the record will be dictated by my work/family balance. I still have Hardrock and a few other races until then so we will see what happens. Chuckanut 50K next weekend. And it is going to be barn burner, full of talented runners!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Treadmill

This one is for all you roadies out there.

The inside of an airport, plane, rental car, and hotel room has been a norm for me for the past year. Having said that, trying to keep some sort of fitness has been tough for the obvious reasons. One alternative to get fit -huge mental block- is the treadmill. So why do I cringe when I think of spending as little as 30 minutes on the mill? To be completely honest, the treadmill keeps you honest. Either go this pace (that you set) or fall off. Things don't seem to be changing in my work space so I've got to change my mentality. The treadmill is my friend and I WILL embrace the self inflicted pain.

Paul Dewitt, my coach two years ago, was very creative with the treadmill. One workout in particular that I still use today is the Kenyan cutdown. This involves a 2 mile w/u and c/d, then starting at 7MPH make a progression of 0.1MPH every 0.25 mile, all flat. Each time I tried to "one up" myself and so far my record is 10.3 MPH. Each workout gives you about 12 myles, give it a try.

This morning in SoCal I embraced the TM and got creative. I have seen some tweets lately on Anita Ortiz and her hill workout, which is 15% at 11:15 pace for an hour. Truth be told, I am not ready for that so I decided to ramp up. My new hill workout takes the same idea of the Kenyan cutdown in the sense it is progression and getting to LT. Here's what the guidelines look like:
  • 0.5 mile w/u and c/d @ 6MPH
  • Then 6% at 6MPH for 0.5 mile
  • Next jump up 2% every 0.5 mile and see what you can get to
  • Once you can't go anymore drop down to 10% @ 6MPH for 2 myles.
This morning here is where I made it to:
  • 0.5 mile w/u and c/d @ 6MPH
  • 6%, 8%, 10%, 12%, 14% @ 6MPH for 0.5 mile each
  • 2 myles @ 10% and 6 MPH
  • 5 myles 2111 ft climbing and 45 minutes
I tapped out at 14% so now I have a good baseline of my fitness. Each time I will try and "one up" myself and see where it goes. Obviously I am seeing the benefits of the TM now, can't say I like the mill, but will embrace it as long as I'm away from my hometown hills of Colorado. I am seeing the TM as an endless hill with lots of O2 in this California air.

I'd be interested to know what you can do on this workout and what you think of it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Calico 50K - 3.58:35 3rd place

Calico Ghost Town. The place where old dudes go to race!

I thought I was headed out to Calico to see where my fitness was but when I saw Jorge Pacheco I knew it was gonna be a fast juan. This was 4th time at Calico for me with previous times of 4.09, 3.54, and 3.56. If could get anywhere under 4 then it was a success, only having 2, 20 mile runs under my belt in the last 2 months. Jorge has also been out to this race before with a time of 3.56 so he knew the course and for some reason when I saw him, he just looked fit and fast.

Off the line, Eric Clifton took off in is flame laden tights along with Roberto Leonardo and Jorge Pacheco. I thought about seeing how long I could hold on but I elected to sit in behind and watch as they slowly vanished. Just to give you an indication, through 2 myles I was 12:54 and they were a good 200 meters up on me. Except Clifton, I passed him 800 meters off the start. The course starts downhill on the road so 6:20s seemed relatively easy but I knew the climbs and sandy jeep roads would soon start. It really is the sand that's a killer on this course, constantly trying to find a stable line but always sinking in - takes a lot out of you. By the time we got to the first aid station at mile 7, they were about 3 minutes up on me. With 800 ft of climbing and sandy tracks I still managed a 48:49 but it was hard work.

Much of the same sandy jeep roads all the way through mile 17, where we finally reached to top. In comparison to previous years, I felt like this was the best I had run up to the top and yet both those guys were pulling away. Over every hill looking down into a valley I was surprised I couldn't even get a glimpse of them. At the top there is a short out and back section where I could finally see them with Jorge 12 minutes up and Leonardo 4 minutes up. Up to this point I felt solid and full of energy and the nice thing to know is that I was just picking up my first bottle of EFS Liquid Shot Kona Mocha. More to come on nutrition.

Now it's time to fly and see what the old legs have left in them. From the top we descended with a very nice grade (not too steep) for the next 5 myles in which I clocked a 33:13. The EFS liquid shot was starting to kick in and I was starting to hunt. But I'll be damned that I finally got a glimpse of Leonardo (Jorge was out of sight) and he was still 4 minutes up on me. 23 myles in and I was running out of real estate, although more hills were coming so I thought with my energy I could reel in Leonardo. It's a really good feeling to have the energy to hunt and go faster at the end of the race, if you know what I mean - I felt awesome! Pulling into Calico Ghost Town I finally ran out of real estate and clocked a 3.58. Jorge ran an amazing 3.38 for a new CR and Leonardo ran a 3.53. Here are my gps tracks. Note: 4000ft of climbing and Jorge still ticked in under 7 pace. In the end it was a MEXICAN MASTERS PODIUM - arriba, rriba, undaley, undaley! In all honesty I felt like I ran faster than a 3.58 but at any rate this makes me feel very positive where my training is heading.

Jorge, Roberto, and Scott - doesn't sound mexican

Onto my nutrition plan: Prior to me flying out I received a package from First Endurance full of new products. One flask of EFS Liquid Shot Kona Mocha, One bottle of Pre-race caps, a hat, and a t-shirt representing 10 years of First Endurance. I know better than to try something new at a race but I couldn't help myself because after all I have experimented with Pre-race powder last year. The pre-race powder always gave me a stomach ache so I was a little leery. At any rate this is what I did:
  • Woke up at 3 AM and nibbled on a Powerbar during my 2 hour drive
  • 60 minutes prior to the race - 20 oz bottle of EFS grape
  • 30 minutes prior to the race - 3 Pre-race caps
  • 10 minutes prior to the race - 2 gulps of EFS liquid shot vanilla
  • 45 minutes into the race - Power gel and a banana
  • Through 2 hours into the race - 20 oz bottle of EFS grape
  • 2 hours into the race - 2 Pre-Race caps
  • Final two hours - 20 oz bottle with EFS liquid shot Kona Mocha diluted into bottle
  • Within 30 minutes of finish - 20 oz bottle of Ultragen Orange Dream
Energy was solid for the entire race. This will be my nutrition plan for any 50K race. I will tweak it a bit for a 50 miler but the ingredients will stay the same. I cannot wait for you to taste the EFS LS Kona Mocha flavor! If you love coffee, you will love this! I am also excited how the Pre-Race caps really helped, they really gave me that little zip in my legs that I needed in the end.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Amidst my own 21 mile run today I watched the Bandera 100K trail National Championship via Great coverage once again Bryon!

Pearl Izumi Ultra running team was in full force today to include veterans Nick Clark and Darcy Africa, rising -check that- bonfide star Timothy Olson, and new addition Dylan Bowman. I woke up this morning and had that excitement as if I were racing today. Just what I needed to motivate me for my own 3 hour run. Great results today - Timothy Olson 100K trail National Champ (8.28:38), Dylan Bowman 4th place (8.40:05), Nick Clark 5th place (8.57:30). Darcy had to call it quits at the 50K mark because of hamstring issues - get better quick Darcy! Speaking of Darcy, here's a recent article in Outside online. Check out the photo below - even Joe Uhan (8.38:53) is sportin PI. And don't let Mackey (8.38:28) fool you, he is a secret Pearl lover too!

Timothy Olson, Dave Mackey, Joe Uhan, Dylan Bowman, Nick Clark Photo Bryon Powell

Lately with all the travel I've had the best intentions of running on the road but when it comes right down to it, I am so tired once I get to the hotel if I do run I am totally not into it. Result is poor quality of runs. The positive spin is now I'm visiting the same places more frequently so now I know where most of the trails are located. For instance, the Leona Divide and Angeles Crest are run near Arcadia and Sierre Madre and I have been staying near there for my past couple of visits to California. Now I will make it a point to find a Marriott (gotta get points) in those cities even if I have to travel to Santa Barbara for the day.

Today's race at Bandera has inspired me to train hard no matter how tired I am. Thanks guys!

Last thing, here is my race schedule for 2012. Still a lot of unconfirmed but this is what I'm looking at for 2012:

Here's to a successful 2012 with family, work, running, and friends!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

It's a new year so it's time to start some new habits, like posting more regularly on this blog.

Two years ago in 2010 I took two steps forward in my running ventures, putting up some pretty good times in various distances: 2.37 in the marathon, 3.13 in the 50K, and under 28 hrs at Hard Rock. I worked hard and it paid off. This last year in 2011 has been a struggle -to say the least- in my running ventures. I guess you can say I got complacent, hoping to springboard off the previous years hard work. I can say that now but as the year progressed I felt as though I was putting the work in (the myles reflected it 3228) but there were other things going on in my work life that took most of my energy. I traveled most of the year, logging a staggering 153 nights in hotels for business, and achieving 1k status on United - illustrious life I know. It's not only been exhausting on me but my poor family has suffered as well. Having said that, there are only 24 hours in a day and something has to give and in this case my running/training at a high level was a no brainer. Yes I got to travel the world, running in 5 countries, but my family was right there by my side.

I can't say that 2012 will be any better but if I were to put all my eggs in one basket I would put them all into the San Juan mountains. My family loves that place just as much as I do and it's a family reunion of sorts. I have put my vacation in already for 3 weeks leading up to Hard Rock so hopefully it will be enough to get a PR at HR.

Aside from my job and running, family comes first. I've stated that already but readers of this blog I need your help, better yet my brother in law's son needs your help. His name is Beckam Robinson and he is 5 years old and in need of a kidney transplant. He has been functioning normally on about 30% of one kidney for most of his life and now that portion is starting to fail. I ask you to go to this website and make a donation - please! $1, $5 - doesn't matter, every little bit helps as insurance does not cover most of this transplant, if any at all. In addition, the Robinson family are selling bracelets for $3 so if you see any of us please buy a bracelet. Thank you in advance! I will also put a permanent link on the side of this blog and remind you from time to time throughout the year.