Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

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.