Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon


Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon
This was to be a tough double and my 3rd for the year. As always I wanted to run well, my goals: run the Ascent as fast as I could and hopefully run a fast marathon time.
After a great night sleep I showed up in downtown Manitou ready to race. I went out hard with the leaders but soon realized it was probably too fast. I backed off of the pace and slowly lost ground. By 2 miles in I was in 8th place with a sizeable lead over anyone else. The 7 runners in front of me were hammering. There was the lead pack of 3 runners: Andy Wacker, Touru Miyahara, and Petro Mamo, followed by the chase pack of Simon Gutierrez, Peter Masksimow, Kyle O’Brien, and Brandon Birdsong. At first I hung with the chase pack, but knew I was working too hard. I slowed up and waited. Soon I was running alone. By mile 4, to my surprise, I caught and passed Petro Mamo who is a much better flat land marathoner. I was in 7th place and feeling better. At mile 6 I caught up with Brandon, and at mile 7.5 I passed Kyle. Now I was in 5th place with just over 5 miles to go. I could hear cheering spectators and knew I was only a 60-80 seconds back from Simon and Peter.
I rolled through Barr Camp. The day was hot and I was thankful for I had opted to carry a water bottle. As I ran gaining altitude and miles I felt better and continually increased the pace. I rounded a bend and there only 35 yards in front of me were Peter and Simon. Prior to A-Frame I passed them both and was in 3rd place. I ran through the aid station making sure to refuel my bottle… it was hot! Now above treeline, I looked for the two leaders but they were nowhere to be seen. I could see simon only 15 seconds behind me and rocking it! I kept pushing the pace to ensure I kept my lead. Gradually I built up my lead with a few more precious seconds but still felt like I was running so slow… perhaps the 13,000 + feet had something to do with that.
The last 3 minutes of running were tough. I was dehydrated and my electrolyte balance was also off from the heat. I kept feeling surges of cramps and weird twinges flow through my body. With only 200 yards to the finish I backed off the pace slightly. Normally I would not do this but with the cramping I had to. I finished in 3rd place in 2:23:52. For the race I wore the Huaka http://www.hokaoneone.com/men/huaka/30609030.html?dwvar_30609030_color=BKCT#start=8&cgid=men 

A perfect comfortable light weight shoe with stability.
One race down, one to go. I got home and ate, then had a hot shower, then ate again, then ate some more, then napped, and ate, drove to the awards, and back home, and of course ate some more.
In the morning I felt great. Maybe a tad sluggish but ready for round 2. The race started and I fell into decent controlled pace that I knew I could handle. I maintained the pace (mostly) to the summit arriving in about 2:43. In 7th place with several runners both right in front and right behind me. I ran down, rejuvenated by the summit. By mile 17 though I was feeling the grueling 2 days. I was passed by a few runners but maintained my composure. I had to finish. Pace was not the issue, I just had to be consistent and finish. I finally did just breaking 4:30. I was 10th overall in the Ascent and 1st for the Pikes Peak Double.
No more doubles this year. Next up is the Rut 25K… the 50k is out. I’m looking forward to some fast times at Big Sky!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Tushar Mountain Marathon


“An easy marathon.” That was at least what I was telling myself. After racing who knows how many weeks in a row and travelling too many miles to count (rough estimate is 25,000 miles) I was looking forward to a nice race. 1 marathon, 1 day… and did I mention it was in the mountains with 7,400 feet of elevation gained and lost.

The race was the SkyRunning Tushar Mountain Marathon in south west Utah near Beaver in the super-secret Tushar Mountains. The Tushars are an Island in the desert with several peaks over 12,000 feet, including the high point of the range: Delano Peak at 12,169. Oops, did I just tell everyone about them. 

I flew back to Salt Lake City where I had left my car after Speedgoat and drove down to Eagle Point Ski Resort which sits at 10,000 feet. What an awesome spot. While the valley floor and Beaver was 90 degrees Eagle Point was a comfortable 65 degrees. Check out the race website with pictures half way down: http://www.grandcircletrails.com/tushars-general-info/

I camped out and slept soundly waking up on my own at 6am an hour prior to race start. The other runners and myself gathered around a smoldering campfire and waited for the start. We were called over to the start and off we went. I planned to settle into a comfortable pace. Running the first half of the race as a training run. The second half I could race hard. Within ½ mile into the race the lead group of runners consisted of Lars Kjerengtroen, Arthur Degraw, and myself. Arthur led our pack as we followed flagging. The majority of the course is on single track trail with only about 2 miles on dirt road. Many places the single track was overgrown and following the flagging, although not hard, was slow going. About 4 miles in I took over route finding duties and led our mini pack. Lars later informed me it was pointless to pass. I was finding the route and running consistently.

We hit the first of three aid stations at 1:12. This was mile 8ish… slow going but lots of angulating terrain. The three of us were at least 5 minutes ahead of any other competitors at this point. I had decided to run consistent and try and take the lead on our 3rd climb of the day going up Delano. At 2 hours in we started up Delano. The ascent was steep on an overgrown trail. It was tough hiking up this. I started a fast upbeat ascent, a crazy power hike, and by the summit I had gained a 40 second lead. The views were tremendous. I wanted to breath them in and sparred a glance around me. Not enough. I sprinted off down the grassy steep knoll, dropping 2,000 feet. From the bottom I hit a smooth dirt road and ran up it to the mile 16 aid station.

It is important to mention that we had been following the same course as the 58 mile racers that had started 2 hours before our race. For the past hour we had been passing a few of the runners. I ran into the 2nd aid station with an 80 second lead on Lars who by this time had a slight lead over Arthur. Upon seeing me the captain of the aid station informed me that I should not be there. Apparently she had only been told that the 58 mile racers would be coming through that aid station. I assured her I was supposed to be racing through the aid station and left. As leaving I read and followed the sign which clearly said “Marathon & 93k”. Unfortunately, the aid station debacle lost me over 60 seconds. Lars was back hot on my tale and caught me a little over a mile later.

We ran together down a beautiful single track, before finally tackling the 4th and final climb of the day. Once again I built up a 25 second lead and came to an open field. Where to proceed I knew not. Lars had the course GPSd into his watch. So I went back 15 yards and waited for him. He stopped looked at his watch for a few second and finally told me which direction to run. After 80 yards I found the course flaggings once again. Apparently either people or animals or weather had removed some of the flaggings. Once again I took off and tried to build a lead. This time it worked. I had 4 miles to the finish and I was ready to finish. I ran through the last aid station and tried to build my lead. It worked.

I finished the race and won in 4:11 about 5 minutes in front of Lars. Arthur finished 3rd about 20 minutes back. Results can be seen here: http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=29530#id15032   

Next: Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. What Fun!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Speedgoat Triple Crown

Speedgoat Triple Crown Race Report:


Thursday, July 23:

I drove over to the Salt Lake Valley from Colorado. I had 3 days of racing in a row planned. It was extensive but should be fun.

The plan was simple: Friday would be the uphill Vertical Mile, with over 5,500 feet gained in just 6.5 miles. Saturday would be the Speedgoat 50K with about 11,000 vertical feet and Sunday would be the Quadbanger. It would lose 10,500 feet over the course of about 11-12 miles.  Goals were simple: Win the Vertical mile, top 10 in the 50k, and top 3 in the Quadbanger.

I found a great place to camp out and tried sleeping in.

Friday, July 24: In the morning I drove over to Snowbird. Nestled at about 8,000 feet Snowbird sits almost 4,000 feet above the valley. It was time for a great race. I got there a little early and with little else to do I napped, rested, and read prior to the race. Finally it was time, we started at 3:00 pm. 

Speedgoat Vertical Mile: The race runs uphill on a ski road for 2,600 feet, then you ride a chair lift down (yes, you read that right: halfway into the race you ride a chairlift back down to the base area) where you then proceed to run up 2,900 feet on mostly single track trail. I started with an up-tempo pace, one I could handle but I would have to stay focused. I thought the pace would be sufficient to gain the lead but to my surprise it was not. Local Salt Lake native Nathan Peters was beside me stride for stride exchanging the lead. Sometimes he would gain it by a few yards only to succumb to the uphill battle and then I would take the lead only to relinquish it again. 15 minutes in I marginally backed off on the pace… just ever so slightly but enough. Nathan took the lead and continued his pace. I decided that the second lap would be the lap to push harder… for now I needed to run consistent. Our lead over 3rd place was at least 1 minute and ever growing.  

Finally we topped off and Nathan jumped on the chairlift about 8-10 seconds in front of me. I followed and jumped on the next lift. We rode down stretching our legs and doing bicycles, with me (on the lift) ever chasing Nathan and of course never gaining or losing ground. At the bottom I jumped off the chair lift and started round 2.

I quickly caught up to Nathan on the single track and took the lead. I kept my up-tempo pace going and quickly built up a lead. The higher we went the better I felt. I fed off of the single track and quickly extended my lead. The last 400 vertical feet of the race is on a ridge that finally tops off at 11,000 feet. The ridge was steep… crazy steep... but I kept my legs moving knowing that this race would be over in a manner of minutes. And it was.
I crossed the finish line winning by about 4 minutes. Results are here:  http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=30858#id15032

Socializing, a tram ride to the base, and an hour later I found myself back at the start talking with Salt Lake resident Marge, one of the many volunteer workers for the race. As it turned out, she had an extra couch for me to sleep on that night… perfect…. Thank you Marge!

Saturday, July 25: Speedgoat 50K: After a good night's rest, I was ready for round 2. I knew I had to take it easy, at least for the first few hours of the race. The race started and I was surround and soon swallowed up by the mass of humanity. Slowly, consistently I ran forward and emerged about 15th place. Today, I needed to eat and hydrate and run consistently. I focused on these basic life needs and soon topped out at 11,000 feet on Hidden Peak. From here I ran down into Mineral Basin and up a short but steep climb where I passed several people. They had been near me for most of the race so I did not think too much of it, although I had started moving up. Then the long downhill began. I was at mile 12 or so and I was feeling… blah, with little speed. I kept drinking and was sure to take lots of salt tabs as it was getting hotter.  

All I could do was run consistently. I then started the second major climb of the day at mile 16. I felt sluggish as I alternated between running and walking. The pace was sluggish but, unbeknownst to me, I was gaining on my competition. By mile 23 I had caught 3 more people and had moved into 8th place. At least I thought it was 8th place. At one section the course runs through a 500 foot tunnel from one basin to another… very cool! Then came the last major ascent of the day back up Hidden Peak. At the base I caught one more runner and kept rolling. The last 4+ miles downhill I felt sluggish but pushed on feeling that I was losing more ground.

At last I finished in 6:20. I soon found out I did better than I had thought and finished in 5th place. http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=30857#id15032 The course was amazing, simply beautiful. If you ever run Speedgoat be prepared to power hike.

Sunday, July 26th:  Quadbanger: I felt at ease and relaxed the morning of the race. Sure it would be my 3rd race in as many days but it was going to be fun! The Quadbanger had 10,500 feet of descent over 11 miles. The course starts on top of Hidden Peak at 11,000 feet and descends about 2600 feet. Then the runners jump on a chair lift, ride it up, and run down again. This is repeated so the runner must descend a total of 4 times down the peak to the base area.

The race was small with 3 dozen participants, all ready for some fun. We started casual with one exception. A runner quickly took the lead and started hammering. Within 500 feet of starting he decided to mimic Superman. His toe caught a rock and he went flying. He jumped up looking chipper, said he was fine, and started sprinting again in the lead. 400 yards later his toe found another rock. He scampered up, this time not looking as spry. I, along with two other runners, passed him and took over the lead. I later found out he had dropped out. I tried to run controlled, upbeat, without letting the downhill control my pace. I made it down to the base with a  minor lead over 2nd and 3rd. Round 2 would have to be the same… maybe with just one or two surges thrown in for good measure. The 3 of us rode the lift up together chitchatting. Then once at the top the games began again. We slowly took off, getting used to running again after sitting on the chairlift for 16 minutes. I pushed the pace with a few short surges and slowly built up a 15 second lead by the base.

I rode the lift up again for round 3. Once again I tried to run consistently and throw in the few downhill surges. They effectively worked as I had an estimated 60 second lead at the base. I rode the lift up for the last time. I just had to run consistently and I would win. I got to the top and did just that: consistent running. I finished in 1st in 1:10 about 3 minutes ahead of 2nd place. Results are here: http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=30859#id15032

The weekend went as good as I could have hoped for. I won 2 races and was 5th in the other. Special thanks to Karl Meltzer for an awesome race series weekend. Thank you to all the volunteers: your presence, cheering, and aid where amazing. Thank you Marge for a place to crash on your couch and regroup. Thank you to Hoka One One for your amazing shoes! I raced in the Huakas for both the Vertical Mile and the Speedgoat 50k, and the Mafate for the Quadbanger. Thanks to amazing shoes, hot showers, and a couch to sleep on I was able to race, feeling great every day!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Kendall Mountain Run & Aspen Power of Four 50K

2 races, 2 days, over 15,000 feet gained and lost in about 44 miles. It was time for some serious racing: Kendall Mountain Run & Aspen Power of Four 50K

Kendall Mountain Run.

I’ve wanted to run this race for a long time. After running it, I’m not sure why I’ve never run it. An amazing course running from the town of Silverton at 9300 feet up 6 miles to Kendall Mountain at 13,000 feet. The run starts in town and quickly gets on a jeep road that takes you up to 12,700 feet. Then the last 300 feet of Kendall must be scrambled up.

My main competition was fellow Hoka teammate Sage Canaday and Flagstaff’s Andrew Benford.
Right away Sage used his road speed and led from the gun. I redlined it trying to balance the fast speed and not overdo it. Four minutes in we hit the unrelenting uphill. At last my type of terrain. Sage had the lead by about 40 yards, while a handful of us followed. Andrew and I sat in 3rd and 4th. We kept the tempo high but controlled. The jeep road got steeper and all slowed.  This was my chance to keep pushing it. I was in my element: steep uphill’s at altitude. By mile 2 I had moved into 2nd and could see Sage was no longer gaining; instead, I knew I could catch him.
Incrementally I slowly moved up trying to catch him. We gained altitude and by the time we were at 12,000 feet, Sage was just 25 yards in front of me. But Andrew had not given up; he was only 15 yards behind me. Finally we hit the last 300 foot capstone of Kendall Mountain. We left the jeep road and started our scramble. Now I felt at home. We scampered up and Sage tagged the summit. I was now only a few yards behind. I tagged the summit and started the retreat back to Silverton.
As we bombed down Sage showed his off his marathon speed and I could not catch him. We ran back into town setting a blistering pace. Sage finished in 1:38:53, while I finished in second in 1:41:23. A fantastic race, well worth running.

Aspen Power of Four 50K
By early afternoon I found myself on the road… again. I was driving over to Aspen for the Power of Four 50k. The race gains over 12,000 feet as it ascends all four Aspen Ski Mountains.

I camped near the start in the National Forest and was ready for round 2. The race starts straight up Aspen Mountain gaining over 3,500 feet in the first 3 miles. Oh boy! The race was underway. Although there was not a huge field the race was highly competitive. We ran and power hiked straight up the steep ski runs. About a ¼ mile from the top the rest of the field slowed down (due to the altitude?) I kept the pace consistent and soon found myself leading at the summit.

I descended down the backside and soon had moved to 5th place as the others bombed down. Then the 2nd climb began. Once again I ran up and had moved into 2nd place by the summit. And once again was passed going downhill. The race was 60% over, we had 2 more climbs neither quite as hard as the first 2. I had been eating well but could tell the race the day before was slowing me up. I was now in 3rd and Josh Arthur was closing in behind me. I power hiked up the 3rd climb and once again started my decent. Josh soon passed me. He had a great race going on to finish in 2nd. I still felt strong, just depleted from the long 2 days of racing.

I then ended up following an arrow and accidentally took a wrong turn. I quickly realized my mistake and backtracked losing about 4-5 minutes in the process. I started the 4th and last climb of the day. I was now in 7th place and was cramping from the steep terrain. It was only 6 miles to the finish; I had to stay consistent. I kept going what seemed to be a terribly slow jaunt, getting passed by 2 more individuals. I finished in 9th place in 5:49:30.


A solid 2 day effort.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile Run


Well a crazy last month has kept me away so I’ve posted several expositions on my travels. I’ve been all over. I raced in the Canary Islands in early May. A week later running the Sageburner and winning. Then a week later Lynnette, Katrina, and I went to the Black Hills and South Dakota for a vacation. Following was a week at home then 2 weeks in France, Turkey, and Alaska. I’m back and enjoying the Colorado days. Read below for any one of the adventures:
Back home at last. It felt easy and wonderful to be training at 10,000 feet again. I prefer this than stifling sea level any day. Today was the Silver Rush 50 mile run. My main competition was Mike Aish. http://michaelaish.blogspot.com/ I decided to stay conservative for the first half and see how well I could run the second half. I went through the half in 3:20, 2nd place about 12 minutes back from Mike. I had a decent lead of 3rd and knew I was feeling good. My goal was to run almost everything back. The trail gets steep at times but I kept a solid pace up. I kept hearing that I was gaining on Mike. Indeed I was but only by a few minutes. I kept a consistent pace going on pace for a sub 7 hour run. I headed up Iowa Gultch at mile 38. The incline is not horrible but at that point in the race I did not want to run. I told myself to be consistent and ran the whole way up to 12,000 feet. I then turned and stated my decent towards the finish.

All day I had run and felt fantastic until this downhill. I started cramping and new I needed additional salt. I slowed the pace and held it together to the last aid station with 7 miles to the finish. I gulped down 12 ounces of salted Coke along with 8 electrolyte pills and left. I soon felt much better but still knew I was hanging on. My appetite had officially diminished. I had to push the pace but without falling off. I slowly felt better and increase the pace. I finished in second in the 3rd fastest time ever in 6:56:41. Mike meanwhile went on to break his own course record. (Note: the course was altered and lengthen in 2010 therefore pre 2010 times need an extra 15 to 25 minutes added for equivalent time).


Crazy awesome day and I even surprised myself. I ran in the Stinson ATR. A fantastic shoe… check them out: http://www.hokaoneone.com/

Aisa, Europe, Mont Blanc, and Mount Marathon


My Europe trip was interesting and I will sum it up quickly:

I was in Turkey for a day and ran across the Bosphorus Bridge into Aisa. The bridge is huge with 8 lanes of traffic and huge sidewalks on either side. I arrived at early evening and ran into Aisa. Upon arrival into Aisa I was informed by some cops that pedestrians are not allowed on the bridge anymore. The cops gave me a ride back into Europe to a subway station. I then went to the Hagia Sophia. Amazing building.
 
 

Upon Arrival in Chamoix I rested for a day and was ready to race the Mont Blan 80K. However, I ate a panini which gave me food poisoning. I started the race hoping I’d feel better, instead I felt worse. Soon I was puking and barely able to walk downhill. I had to drop.
Over the next 5 days I got better, did some mountain climbing up Mont Blanc, and ran many trails.
 
Then I flew out: Geneva to Istanbul, Istanbul to Chicago, Chicago to Anchorage.


From Anchorage I hitched down to Seward for the Mount Marathon Run. I stayed at a host cabin and was well rested and ready to race. For this race the run goes straight up Mount Marathon gaining 3,000 feet in 1.75 miles. Then in tortures response the runners must descend the peak and lose their vantage and high point. The race started brutally fast at an all-out sprint. I maintained my position in 15th place but was unable to sprint uphill. By the summit I was in 50th place and not ready to die or break a leg so I controlled my decent and finished in 58:12 and 65th place. Others ran with reckless abandon. Indeed, the race is known for having people break their legs every year.
 

Leadville Trail Marathon


Leadville Trail Marathon

I was ready… as ready as I could be. I had been nursing a cough and cold for the previous week and was almost over it. I did not know what to expect health wise going into the race. I figured I’d just try and run my best… and be sure to podium. The race was finally underway. I started controlled but still felt feeble, unable to push any harder. Mike Aish soon had the lead with me in hot pursuit. I’d run as well as I could.

For the first 90 minutes I ran controlled and in a comfortable 2nd place. At the base of Mosquito Pass I maintained my speed, trying to gain a little on Mike. At the top of the pass I glanced at my watch. It read 2:01:??. Solid. I raced down with a good lead on 3rd place. At this point the race was over. Mike did not slow down and I was unable to make up any more time. He finished breaking the course record, meanwhile I finished with a  PR of 3:39:36, 6 minutes faster than last year… a pleasant surprise.