Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Leadville 100: 2009

Tony and I on Hagerman Pass Road about 6:00 am.

I have a FULL race recap here:

A Wonderful Weekend… Aren’t They All?

Friday’s Race:

Duncan Callahan, my training partner and 2008 Leadville 100 Champ, called me Friday morning the day prior to the race. He informed me that there was an official weigh in for Leadville that I needed to make. This valuable information which I had been oblivious to was somewhere in the inch thick Leadville packet… alas, I had missed it. I was still in Gunnison and had yet to pack. I threw everything I thought I would need into my car in a hurried 10 minutes and left town at 9:50 am. The weigh in would close at 11:45. On a good day the drive to Leadville takes about 2 hours to 2 hours 10 minutes. Darn, I’d have to race to get there in time.

I set a quick safe tempo in my car making sure not to speed… too much. The minutes raced on, the sweat metaphorically dripped from the forehead, doddlers where passed, and pacing was impeccable. I arrived in Leadville at 11:40: 1hour 50 minutes to drive there. This was a fantastic PR. May I note here that I normally don’t drive in the same manner of how I race. I was the last person to weigh in. I jokingly thought perhaps that I should drive back to Gunnison to rest up. The added pressure of getting to Leadville on time had not been draining, on the contrary it wet my appetite for competition. I was ready. I stayed with Leadville resident and ultra runner Bill Dooper. He ensured I was comfortable and ready to roll the next day.

Saturday: Race Day:

2:08 am. My alarm went off. I needed no prodding, I was up.

3:58 am. 2 minutes prior to the start. I made a last minute decision to drop the long sleeve (what was I thinking; it was already almost 50 out) and go with the short sleeve.

The race plan: It was pretty simple… well when it comes to running 100 miles the idea of a simple plan may be a bit relative but I wanted to go out with the leaders, or rather leader. I knew Anton Krupicka would be setting the pace in an attempt for the record. I wanted to hang, and be able to compete. Simple plan really… in theory.

I took glances at my watch here and there but for the most part was pretty oblivious to the time throughout the day. For the first hour and a half I just jogged along paying attention to other runner nuances: running rhythm, posture, changes in cadence on hills breathing patterns, muscle tightness, etc. Tony looked strong, confident, and had a desire to set the pace. This was good. It was my first 100 and there was no way I wanted to set the pace. I’d run the course (first 40 miles) this summer with Duncan, so I had an idea of what pace I wanted to hit, but was content to let Tony lead.

We got to Mayqueen in 1:42. Our pack of 6 runners had been running strong and comfortable in a solid pack, but at Mayqueen the pack fell apart. The trail heads up a technical single track up to Hagerman Pass Road. Gustavo Reyes held the lead here tailed immediately by Josh Meitz, Tony, and I. It was evident the first two runners pace was being pushed and they were a bit uncomfortable at the pace on the trail. As soon as we hit the Hagerman Pass Road I finally felt fully relaxed, running comfortably in my element. Tony and I quickly dropped the others up Sugarloaf. I felt like the pace was fine and not being pushed… too much. The sky was brightening, giving an eerie surreal feeling to the morning. Today, was a good day to race. Tony had to stop a few times for pit stops giving me the lead. I’d consciously slow the pace expecting Tony to catch back up in a minute or two. I did not want to run alone this early in the race.

We went through Fish Hatchery in 3:06. I felt smooth and fluid and opted to go shirtless a while. I could feel it was warming up and knew I’d get a jersey later in the race. By this point I guess we had a 7-8 minute lead over Duncan and Nick (eventually 2nd place finisher). Tony and I just started clicking off the miles on the pavement following the Fish Hatchery. The pace was a tad quick but I figured that mentally it would be good for me. We got over to the Pipeline Turn off and I knew it was going to be a hot day. The reroute here (a black hawk had crashed near the Colorado Trail only days before forcing a reroute) was bare and desolate with little shade. It would be hot coming back through here later. Tony had to stop again for another pit stop putting me in the lead again. I did not want the lead this early. I mentally slowed the pace to a better controlled manner and waited for Tony yet he did not come, so I just kept on rollin.

I went through Box Creek (31 miles in) in 4:09 about 2 minutes in front of Tony. I was feeling smooth, yet a little concerned about being in the lead so soon. I stopped after Box Creek for a quick pit stop and kept on rolling. I soon rejoined the Colorado Trail surprised that there really was no major hill up to it on the reroute. From the Colorado Trail I kept a controlled pace expecting Tony to Catch up any second. I deliberately power hiked the steepest sections of the trail and finally Tony caught up with about 2-3 miles prior to Twin Lakes. He looked rejuvenated, wanted the lead, and set a blistering downhill pace to Twin Lakes. I let him go, knowing that I did not want to kill my legs just yet, I still had 100K to run. I went through Twin Lakes in 5:15 about 3 minutes back from Tony. The time was about an hour faster than the training run during the summer. Wow. I ignored the time and focused on more important things: the next mile.

I headed up Hope Pass, blocking out all negative thoughts: namely how I was running poorly. Of course I was not running poorly but the thoughts creep in just the same. Around every few bends I would see Tony only about 2-3 minutes in front of me. How was this possible? I thought he had a greater lead mostly because I felt like I was going so slow, after all I was power hiking the steeper sections. At the Hopeless Aid Station (6:24) near the top of Hope Pass I could see Tony nearing the pass. He was about 5 minutes in front. At this point I started cramping a bit from the heat and lack of salt. I had not been taking enough salt caps and I was starting to feel it. I resolved to not push it and just get over the pass down to Winfield and get some salt in me. I was craving it.

I ran down the South Side of Hope. Oh boy, almost halfway. I was looking forward to the return. At the bottom of the Hope Pass Single track I hit the road up to Winfield this part of the run was the only part I did not do my homework on. I really had no idea how long the dirt road up to Winfield would be. I ran up the sun beaten dirt road in a slow methodical manner. I was feeling drained and in desperate need of salt and some food. I kept expecting to see Tony on his return. At last I did and estimated he had about a 10 minute lead on me.

Getting to Winfield was mentally everything I needed. My crew informed me I’d have a pacer back over Hope. I had been unsure if I would have one or not. I sat down and took about a 5 minute break eating mostly Fritos. I was craving them; they were my choice food throughout the day. Those 5 minutes were well needed. I got up and left, the watch read about 7:30, 8 hours even would have been much better, but this was a race, you take what you have and you run with it.
Coming into Winfield

Andy Richmond paced me back over Hope Pass constantly encouraging me. I was still feeling drained as I power hiked and jogged over the pass. Andy’s constant praise was well needed. Finally, about 5 minutes from the top of the pass, my strength was renewed. I rose up and flew like an eagle over the pass. I summited and started the decent with a renewed vigor, I was here to race and puke out my guts if need be. Remember if you are puking, you are running well. I could not see Tony but knew the race was just beginning, I yelled out with a wild yalp, “I’m a Timmy.” Translation: I’m out running in God’s creation, what more can I ask for. The race had finally started; it was 45 miles to go.
At Twin Lakes

I got to Twin Lakes in 2nd place in 9:45? knowing I had to keep running my race. I was about 23 minutes back from Tony. There was still 40 miles… a long way. Mark Stenbeck jumped in to pace. I power hiked up out of Twin Lakes to the well needed shade on the Colorado Trail. I was drained and at another low point in the race. Mark kept encouraging me and made sure I was eating and drinking. My vigor returned and soon we were rolling along flying past the trees and forest creatures. We hit the reroute. I was now a just a wee bit tired, but felt solid. The next hill was Sugarloaf, I could cruise from here. So I thought. About a ½ mile before the Box Creek aid station the sun started getting to me. I was getting severely dehydrated and overheated, even though I’d been drinking like a drowning man. I jogged through Box Creek in 11:24. Then almost instantly ½ mile later out in the direct sun, I stopped. I tried running and could only get out a few steps before being forced back into a walk. I did my first logical thinking of the day and came to the profound conclusion that I was dehydrated, overheating, and in need of more food.
Near the end of Pipeline, still walking

Mark and I walked along with me sipping water. I was at the emotionally lowest point in the race. I could not even jog. Could I even finish the race? I blocked out the thought. I had to focus on the here and now. What was most important was getting liquid and food in me and mentally getting it back together. It was blazing hot and Mark did everything to help out. He walked so as to keep his shadow on my while holding up his shirt above his head to give me added shade. I was grumpy, tired, and wanted to do the unthinkable: quit. It was unthinkable: therefore, I did not think it. Finally after walking about 45 minutes (I was at the end of Pipeline by this time) I was ready. I started with a slow painful hobble, then it turned into a slow job. Duncan caught up here (about ½ mile from the pavement). He said a few kind words, and soon was only a shadow of things to be in front. He looked solid.
Back running

I ran on autopilot to Fish Hatchery (13:15). I was refueled and ready. I got over to the base of Sugarloaf where I found Tony at the side of the road, sitting down, cramping, and done. The heat had got to us all. Incidentally, from Winfield on every hour I was taking about 2 salt caps (700 mg). I had 20 (7000mg) thought out the day). That’s might be a pr for salt intake in a single day. Yeah!
Leaving Fish Hatchery

I power hiked and jogged up Sugarloaf with my new pacer Jerry. Every minute I was feeling more solid. The sun was no longer as intense. I was well hydrated and nourished, and I remembered that Duncan only had about 5 minutes on me. Jerry and I summited Sugarloaf. I was ready to fly. I ran down picking up speed. I caught up to Duncan around mile 85. I made a joke to my dear friend and left.
I soon rolled into Mayqueen (15:13) feeling strong; I was going to win this race. I would not let anything stand in my way. Well, not pain at least.
Coming into Mayqueen

My friend Scott jumped into to pace. As always Scott knew what to say. The words running through our heads where inspiration and robot. He told me I had to run consistent like a robot. I concurred and ran on at monotonous pace hearing his inspirational words echo through the fading light.

Soon, well a couple hours later… I crossed the finish in 17:27:23. It had been a fantastic day of racing filled with action and lead changes. This drama played out over hours and hours only highlights ones appreciation for it. Nick Lewis had a fantastic race and finished 2nd in 17:44, Duncan was 3d in 18:26.

Currently, I’m resting up and preparing for the World Mountain Running Championships, in Italy next week. I’ll be ready.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Leadville 100...

The weekend went well. I won Leadville in 17:27. I had a crazy race with many ups and downs and will write a full synopsis of it in a day or two. Right now i'm just recovering.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pikes Peak Acsent

I could not sleep. I had just gone to bed 5 minutes ago. Why was I still awake? How could I not be asleep yet? Oh yes, I remember now, I was to race the Pikes Peak Ascent the following day. So sure enough 5 more minutes and instead of lying in bed I was out using a chain saw and sawing down trees. I sawed a forest down and was quite refreshed by 4 am. Well, as refreshed as I can be at 4 am.

It would be a good race I had heard rumor of friends showing up to cheer me on, which many did. I drake some leaded coffee to ensure that the sawdust from the forest was out of my eyes. Lynnette, my girlfriend, along with her parents, Rockey and Karen, would be there for support. We arrived in Manitou Springs with a little less than an hour to the race. This would be a perfect day, I knew it. Some races you get to and you know what the results are going to be. I could picture the entire race both high and low points. I could see and almost feel the times when I would feel like stopping, giving up, and calling it quits. I blocked these out and got rid of them. I would feel fantastic even when I felt like puke. Today was a good day to race.

Racing was soon underway. Last year’s winner Simon Gutierrez took out the lead pack which included Tommy Manning, Zac Freudenburg, Alex Nichols, Michael Selig, and I. By a mile into the race it was apparent that the race would be between this pack. Simon led the first 3 miles of switchbacks with the pack of 5 all within a few yards of him. I felt the pace was a tad too slow but wanted to be patient before taking the lead. Finally at about 4½ miles in I was ready to roll. I took the lead thinking someone would go with me but no one did. By Barr Camp (7.6 miles) I guess I had about a 1-2 minute lead. By A-Frame (10.2) it was about 4 minutes. I kept thinking I needed to pick up the pace and that someone would be bound to catch me. This helped to spur me on to run faster. Once above A-Frame I knew I had to maintain but wanted a solid finish time. I did not have a watch but estimated I would finish near 2:10 to 2:14. I kept the grueling pace going not thinking about the desire to decorate the rocks with the last Gu I had eaten. Instead, I was focused solely on running strong, oblivious to lies about being tired or having some discomfort.

The last mile was filled with people cheering me on towards the top. I finished in 2:12:32. A solid time and race. I’m also signed up for the Pikes Peak Marathon but have decided to bail on running it because I’m racing the Leadville 100 next week and The World Mountain Running Championships two weeks after that. I was looking forward to doubling and running both but that will have to wait for another time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cow Bell Pandemonium

Cheyenne Mountain Canyon Race:
United States Qualifier for the World Mountain Running Team:
July 26, 2009

I got to the start line. It was just over an hour until the gun would blast, the whistle screech, cow bells rings, and feet would fly. I was starting to get nervous. I had wanted to go over the course during the previous week yet it never happened. I knew approximately how steep and potentially how hard the race would be. The 12K race (about 7.8 miles) consisted of a 2.4 mile loop with 600 feet gained and lost during the loop with an additional start and finishing section. We would have to run the loop 3 times… bring it. It was now 30 minutes before those cow bells would start their ringing. I was only more nervous. I knew I was fit and ready for the race. The race had not been my main focus as I’ve been mainly training for Leadville. Therefore, I have not done any speed or hill workouts prior to the race. The race was loaded with good US runners vying to make the World Mountain Running Team. I don’t enter races on a whim; I enter to run well: to glorify God with the talents He has given me.

It was now 10 minutes prior to the cow bell pandemonium. I was ready, I was going to go out and give those Cow Bells a run for their money. Bring it. Bring the pain, bring the ruckus, bring the pandemonium. The pandemonium was soon underway. It was silent as my nervous anticipation transformed into a calm steadfast focus. I calmly moved up from 5th place to 2nd. Then we hit the hill. The pace slowed to a training pace. I wanted an honest race, so I took the lead setting a little quicker tempo. I reached the top of the hill and started the fast flowing decent. Someone was content to retake the lead here which I let him do and sat on his tail waiting for a second helping. We started our second helping: lap two, and it was obvious the race pack was being whittled down. There were only four of us now. I took the lead again with 2nd and 3d closely following and Andrew Benford strategically racing in 4th.

The second lap was refreshing, I ran solid thinking about daily training. This was an easy 600 feet climb. I’ve been putting in 2000-5000 foot gains in training, so 600 feet seemed short. I reached the top of the second climb and noticed that Andrew had moved into 2nd about 20 yards back. I cruised the downhill and started the final lap. Those cow bells, still in a constant racket, rang silently in my ears. I heard my heart methodically beating in a controlled manner. Andrew was on my tail pushing me. We reached the top of the 3d lap. At this point I knew no one could catch up and that I would indeed win the race. Maybe I knew it before hand but I would not consciously acknowledge that sort of information. It can be detrimental to become prideful or over confident. I had confidence but had to remain calm. Pride and confidence are closely related. It is good to have the latter while running from the former.

I raced down the hill to finish first in 47:13. Andrew was 2nd in 47:48. We both made the World Mountain Running Team and will be racing in Campodolcino, Italy on September 6th. Bring it, I’ll be ready.

Grin And Bear It

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything on here. I’ve been quite busy with life and preparation for Leadville. On the 18th of July I raced the annual Grin And Bear It in Crested Butte. The race is no longer as popular as it has been in the past but it is my tradition to run it annually. I did not let the race interfere with my training; instead, I incorporated it into training. The race is about 9.3 miles long. The first half starts in Crested Butte and runs up to Green Lake at the Base of Mt Axtle. I think it gains approximately 1200 feet. The weeks leading up to this race were filled with hard long weeks of training. I wanted to treat The Grin And Bear It has an easy tempo day. I was not planning on going too hard as I knew the competition would not be too deep. I started the race and right away easily found myself in 1st place I kept a solid pace going getting to the half way mark at about 36 minutes. The downhill portion was smooth as I finished in 1:05:42. The race is a great benchmark for me as I run it every year. Upon finishing I had greater confidence in my overall fitness level.