Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Arches 50k.... 'er 50 mile.

With no winter in sight I couldn't ski much!  My mental health suffering immensely without an endurance outlet, I asked my friends Cory and Graham if there was any race we could run soon.  Cory offered up the Arches Ultra near Moab, UT.  Perfect I thought, I can run the 50k distance, and started to train.  This wouldn't require as much mileage as training for the 50 mile distance and long training runs can be trick up here in the mountains come January.

Fast forward a couple months and the three of us were cruising over to Moab in my Subaru the day before the race.

The temperatures were a bit chilly at the start and warmed up to sunny 40F's during the race.  Perfect running weather.  Kyle Pieatari, Andrew Vargo and I pulled ahead in the 50k and helped guide each other through the circuitous slick rock sections of the course.  I must say, it was market extremely well, especially considering the difficult nature of marking typical Moab terrain with all the washes, trails, roads, slick rock, etc.  Kyle and I pulled ahead slightly by mile 23 and Kyle started to gap me shortly after.  Coming into the mile 26 aid station it looked as if I could finish 50k in about 3:40, not quite a PR, but close and I felt like I was running well for a January 50k.  Thought I had 5 miles left of pushing to the finish... only to be told by aid station volunteers that we went 9 miles off the 50k course.

Kyle Pieatari, esquire, spoke with the volunteer, who radioed the RD Justin Ricks and we were given two options: run 9 miles back to get back onto the 50k course, or continue on the 50M course for a chip time.  We gladly continued on our merry way on the 50 mile course.  I immediately slowed down by 3 minutes per mile, realizing that I had not trained for running 50 miles, nor had I paced myself for 50 miles.  Kyle wasn't ready for 50 miles either, but his legs didn't seem to mind as he quickly gapped me even further.  I know his race at Western States is quite a ways off, but I expect a solid performance from him there, podiumish?  He has two top ten finishes there so far.

I couldn't for the life of me remember any possible place where we missed the turn.  Turns out an aid station volunteer accidentally sent us the wrong direction out of the previous aid station.  I probably would have been more upset if I had another race coming up soon, but I didn't.  Nothing to save my legs for so instead of hammering for 5 more miles to the finish I shuffled for another 24.  I ran a 7:19, finishing with the 3rd fastest 50 mile time, but I was not the 3rd 50 mile finisher as the 50 mile racers started an hour and a half before us 50k runners.

Graham took 9th overall in the 50k and Cory gutted out a cramp ridden race to finish solidly (they were sent the correct direction out of the aid station to stay on the 50k course).  While Cory and I didn't really have the races we expected, we all had a good time on our weekend trip to Moab and it was a good first step for San Juan Solstice training as we're all signed up to run that magic loop in June.

Sponsor shout outs:

VFuel:  I started of the race with a gel mixed into my little water bottle, and popped a gel every 30 minutes, until I ran out.  At which point I grazed at aid stations.  My stomach was solid all day.

Drymax:  My Speedgoat socks were perfect.  Just thick enough to keep my toes warm in the early morning and no blisters or hot spots at all.  I have been using this model of socks for years and have absolutely no reason to ever change.

Julbo:  The Aerolite's were super comfy and the photochromic lenses adjusted well from dim morning light to bright reflection off the slick rock.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

2017 Ouray 100 - Race Report

The top of our first climb into Silver Basin.

I don’t seem to like running more than one hundred mile race per year.  While I’m sure I could finish more than one in a calendar year, it is hard, maybe even impossible to get two top-notch performances out of a body at that distance.  The only problem with this is that after a years time the lessons you learned from the race tend to fade from memory.  But this year I dropped at Hardrock three weeks before racing the Ouray 100.  While I wish I could have finished Hardrock (race report here) and Ouray, getting significant 100 mile experience weeks before Ouray without killing my body by running the whole 100 miles at Hardrock ended up working well for me. 

Following Dan Metzger down from Ft. Peabody, which is directly above Imogene Pass.  Stormsa brew'n.

I was able to stay calm during the early miles of Ouray.  I made sure to take in sufficient calories and relaxed at aid stations a couple times early in the race to keep my mind from going into a frantic race mode.   I enjoyed the insane views.  I even brought my phone to take a picture at the top of each of the 14 climbs along the course.  I saw bears, deer, an eagle and was buzzed by a bat in the perimeter trail tunnel.  In true San Juan fashion, we were dealt sunny skies, rain, hail, thunder and rainbows.

After hours of rain, hail and thunder, the clouds broke at the top of Corkscrew Gulch.

With 41,000’ of climbing and 41,000’ of descending over 102 miles, there wasn’t a whole bunch of runnable terrain.  I hiked up 99% of anything uphill and shuffled slowly down steep, wet, rocky trails, frequently using my poles during the majority of the descents.

Dinosaur tracks at the top of the Silvershield Trail.

Thanks to my wife, Elissa, for the help at aid stations, and to all the helpful aid station volunteers, including last year’s winner, Avery Collins.  Jeason and Annie Murphy took good care of me the Ironton aid station, as did Megan Hicks at the Crystal Lake aid station.   Kim Wrinkle was out there encouraging all of us at multiple aid stations, sneaking in some good photos.  I would also like to thank the RD, Charles Johnston, for not having the sense to put on an easier race.  Approximately 30% of the starters finished this year, which is a huge increase from last year’s numbers.  He has an appreciation for accomplishing things that are difficult.  If you ever peruse his Facebook feed you’ll see pictures of  his projects which consist of things like broken down motorized equipment and non-functional musical instruments – items a lot of people, myself included,  steer clear of.  But Charles appreciates uneasy challenges, true challenges, ones you take on without knowing whether or not you can complete it, and he offers up a grand test with this race.  Thanks Charles.

Sun setting on the Reds.  Photo taken halfway up to Richmond Pass.

Congratulations to everyone who dared to start this difficult race and kudos to the 20 finishers (http://www.ouray100.com/tracking).  It was inspiring to see the first female finisher (ever) of this race, Melissa Beaury, move well all day and night, and part of the next day to finish 5th overall.  Thanks to Matt Smith (2nd place) and Kevin Sturmer (3rd place) for pushing me throughout the race.

Crossing the finish line with Penny.
pc: Kim Wrinkle

After failing to tough out Hardrock, I wore these reminders of a couple brave young men that I was fortunate enough to meet through working as an RN.  What they've been through is way tougher than anything I'll have to endure, especially silly little races.  Seeing these bands throughout the race helped me stay strong and reminded me of a couple remarkable families.

Sponsor Shout Outs:

Julbo:  My Aerolite’s are the most comfortable glasses I’ve owned to date.  The photochromic lenses adjusted perfectly all day through sunshine and dark skies. 

VFuel:  I drank a lot of Black Cherry Cola drink mix early in the race and put down a lot of Peach Cobbler Gels all the way to the end of the race.  Those, with a little real food mixed in from aid stations, kept my stomach super happy for 30+ hours.  Didn’t get nauseous once!

Drymax Socks:  I started the race off in the Lite Trail Running socks.  After hours of rain and soaked feet, I changed into a dry pair of Lite Trail Running socks at mile 42.  My new socks were soaked again before too long, but regardless, they worked perfectly.  No blisters after 30+ hours on the trails, with wet feet for the majority of the race.