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 

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:

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:   

Next: Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. What Fun!