Sunday, May 31, 2009

Moscow Russia

I always thought it would be cool to go to Moscow Russia. Anyways, I'm in Moscow now... Moscow Idaho that is. Hitchhiking and traveling went well to get here. I acquired a ride with and old friend to Pendleton Oregon from Gunnison. Then i hitched the approximate 200 miles to Moscow, which is right on the Washington and Idaho border. I'm staying with Rich and Evann Tveden... and their cat Oliver. Rich is a great college running buddy. Evann is his wonderful wife. Oliver is... he is their... their cat. As for next week's 50 mile race in Bellingham... I'm feeling strong and ready for a good effort. Solid! Let the pounding commence.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sage Burner 50K: Mental Illusion

Duncan’s car was outside my front kitchen window. It must be time to leave. He and Annie had stopped by to pick me up prior to the race. We drove the 5 minute drive over to the start discussing how much harder it is to mentally get up and prepare for a home race. The anticipation that arises with travelling to the race often just never fully materializes. The day was overcast, and cool: perfect weather for a 50k. We pulled into the Hartman Rock base area. It was filled, and soon would be overflowing with race participant cars. The Sage Burner 25 and 50k races were soon underway. Brian Smith took it out from the gun leading the 25k race. GEP director, Sage Burner race director, and personal coach Scott Drum, held a solid 2nd place, while Mike Ingham of Broomfield and I settled in right behind, leading the 50k race. Just behind us were Duncan and Dan Vega from Colorado Springs.

Mike and I settled into a solid pace switching leads on the rolling terrain. Mike would take the down hills and I would take the up hills. At 5½ miles into the race the 25K and 50k split with Brian Smith and Scott Drum continuing there leads followed closely by Jesse Rickert. They finished the race in the same order: Brian Smith in 1:57:?, Scott Drum in 2:00:20, and Jesse Rickert following a close 3d in 2:00:34.

The next 3 miles I felt the worst that I would for the entire race; which is to say I was feeling decent but not quite fluid. Near mile 8 we ran down Elevator. At this point Mike was 40 meters up on me with Duncan trailing 30 meters back. Off of elevator, we ran the next ½ mile on the only paved portion of the race. Bambi’s uphill single track was next. I knew the next 4 miles where mostly uphill and it was time to switch gears and start an upscale tempo of a pace. I passed Mike on Bambi’s with the intention of just taking the lead and maintaining, yet intentions changed as I quickly gained 60 meters on him. I hit the technical Saw Tooth and set an unrelenting roll. Mentally I was now fully occupied with the race. I felt smooth and fluid. The brain had taken over completely. It controlled my body, set the pace, regulated temperature, and ignored distractions.

I ran up the road towards the top of 9-0 (mile 12) convincing myself that I was out on an evening night stroll. I could see I had about a minute lead over Mike who was a good 30 second up on Duncan. I knew mentally I still was not running as smooth as I wanted to be. I know this idea may seem to contradict my previous statement about the mind taking over yet I knew I could run smoother. I knew I was strong enough to maintain the pace… that should be enough, but mentally the mind can play tricks. I told myself I was not running up to Parr and therefore periodically would increase the pace. This idea of continuously pushing myself faster in a race has been a developing skill for ultra running.

Then it hit me, I was somewhere near mile 17 and 2 hours in (I’m unsure because I ran without a watch) Mentally: I now just ran. Sure I kept pushing myself, yet I felt solely out on an easy training run. The terrain fell at my feet: My mind loving the challenge, yet not feeling the stain. Sure it was strenuous yet I was not thinking about pain, I was reveling in it while simultaneously oblivious to it. This mental illusion dominated, as my actions reciprocated.

The finish fast approached. I had eaten and hydrated well during the race as the cool temperatures gave way to a humid warm day. I crossed the finish feeling strong, ready for more… The 31.42 mile course with 5200 feet of elevation climb was covered in 3:46? (Course record of about 7:13 pace) Mike came in around 4:00 hours even while Duncan was about 4:15. You can read about his race here: Well written Duncan, good info. GEP Teammate Keri Nelson won the women’s race in 4:35 and set the course record while still taking 5th overall. Well done Keri!

Overall: I’m a little surprised by my current shape. God has blessed me and kept me healthy ready to glorify him through running. I’m feeling strong and ready for the 50 mile race in Washington in 2 weeks. I’ll be hitch hiking to get there so more updates to follow...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Flying Piggly Wiggly Marathon in Cincinnati Ohio.

Swine that Flew:

My alarm buzzed. I rolled over to turn it off. I had seemingly just fallen asleep but needed no prodding to get up. It was 3:38 am: a perfect time to wake up. Not a second too late or early. I ate a light 3:50 am breakfast, the day was fast ticking down: it would be light soon. Travis informed me that it was drizzling rain outside. I had neglected to check. What a beautiful day. Jeri drove us to Cincinnati making sure to take a detour into Kentucky. The pig was soon slaughtered, the gun up, and we were off running promptly at 6:30. The ½ marathoners and marathoners started together.

The Plan: go out conservatively with a first mile of 6 flat followed by 5:45. Go through the ½ in 1:15 and reciprocate in a 1:13 second half. That I figured would be a great marathon. Travis, a master at pacing, settled in with me and clicked off the miles. The light drizzle had vanished, leaving a perfect 53-57 degrees and overcast skies for the rest of the day. By mile 4 I finally felt comfortable and focused. We hit the hills, miles 6-9, and I felt smooth and fluid. We ran consistently moving up past several places and soon ran through the half in 1:14:59. At this point we were in a 3-way tie for second place. The other bloke soon dropped off the pace and Travis and I were tied for second. From the half marathon mark on we had bikes escorting us ensuring that we went the right way and that spectators did not get in our way.

Near mile 17 I informed Travis I was going to increase the pace and see if I could catch first who I hoped was only 2 minutes in front. I dropped the pace feeling great, only wishing I had more competition. By 19 I had opened up a ¼ mile lead on Travis and soon learned that the bike escort would accompany me to the finish.

I felt great even through 21 and 22. Around 23 to 24 I knew 2nd was near inevitable. I had a solid lead on 3d place. I felt comfortable and solid still racing at 5:30-5:45 pace. I could talk at this pace (with the bike escort) and felt like I could contain the pace for 50K no problem but could not go faster. This is to be expected with the little fast speed work currently under me. I crossed the line in 2:28:32. I do think this was my best strategic marathon to date. At the very least it was my first negative split marathon.

Travis soon crossed in 5th place only 9 seconds from 3d. He had picked up some invaluable experience and a 3 minute PR. We flew over the brick, and asphalt, the cement and steel bridges, rounded corners, over slippery urban streets. We had prodded ourselves in preparation and during the race, like pigs lined up ready for the slaughter, we came and saw and then… We swine flew.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Parachuting Onto a Flying Pig

I flew out to the Cincinnati airport which is not in Ohio, it’s in Kentucky, for the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. Pigs that fly… may I be a large pig that flies this weekend. I’m staying with Travis Murray. Jeri, Travis’s mom, picked me up late Wednesday night. Travis thought I was arriving late Thursday night for some reason so on Thursday afternoon I surprised him at his practice. He co-coaches on the Mason HS cross country and distance teams. Earlier in the week I emailed Tom Rapp, Travis’s co-coach, and received his permission to surprise Travis at their track practice. Ron, Travis’s dad, dropped me off at the track. Travis had his back turned to me as I ran down the backstretch. At the last second he turned and I jumped him nearly tackling him. Tom was all grins. Travis was thoroughly shocked and made a comment about me parachuting out of an airplane onto him.

The Piggly Wiggly Marathon will be on Sunday. Brian List, who was second last year, Travis, who was third, and I plan on working together for most of the race. May we all be large pigs that fly this weekend.