Thursday, December 12, 2013

California International Marathon - Race Report

It was cold... for a road marathon in California.  I love cold weather when I'm running around mountains in the snow, but it's not as fun when you're running on 26 miles of flat road.  I'll take it over the heat though any day.  I've never finished a race before and wished it was a little bit warmer, but I did after this year's CIM.  It was in the mid 20's at the start and low to mid 30's at the finish.  I wore a buff over my hat to keep my ears warm, gloves and arm sleeves.  Why was it too cold for running?  My muscles and joints never really warmed up to the point of feeling loose like they normally do.

Every couple of miles or so I tried to grab a paper cup filled with fluid from a volunteer, then tried not to spill all of it while running 6 minute miles with numb hands and finally get a little bit down the hatch.  I couldn't help but laugh at how difficult this was, and how funny it had to appear.  Good thing the cool temperature kept me from needing much fluid.  I can't wait for my next race, where I can drink easily from a handheld water bottle.  Those road runners have it tough.  Not as tough as swimmers though:

Why I don't swim.

It was weird stepping out of my comfortable cocoon of trail racing where I recognize a lot of the field, to jumping into a sea of 6,500 strangers to run through cities on asphalt.  Luckily, this was a well organized race with quite a few aid stations that were flush with porta potties.  Unfortunately, I had to stop and use said facilities twice during the race.

Before I started my road marathon training my original goal was to run 2:29.  I strained and or ripped my calf at my first track workout, then I got sick for a couple weeks.  So my first month of training kind of went down the drain.  That, combined with the fact that running fast was a little harder than I remembered led me to scaling back my goal finish time to 2:39.  As the race drew closer I thought I'd finish in the 2:36-2:39 range.  I didn't.


Looking back at my splits, I was right on track to finish 2:36 or 2:37 until mile 24, that's where the wheels fell off.  Negative thoughts crept in shortly after I started to crumble.  I kept thinking that I was pushing it hard, running okay, but I'd look down at my watch and see a pace in the 6:30's.  I did some quick math in my head and realized that I had to speed up and hold that to the finish to get there under 2:40.  I pushed it harder, my legs were already feeling heavy and I started to get a feeling in them that they were about to buckle and I'd have to cross the finish line like this:

The race wasn't a total loss by any means.  While I didn't finish in the time I wanted to, CIM was a great experience.


I hung out with my wife and awesome in-laws for a couple days.  My dad, aunt Karen, brother Danny and his girlfriend Vanessa, all came to the race to cheer me on.  My good friends Megan and Mike hung out the night before and Mike ran sub three hours for the first time.  Way to go Mike!  Can you please send my your HRM data for the run? Ha!

Lunch at the Rio City Cafe

My new shoes, the Hoka Conquests were amazing.  Hoka has definitely stepped it up in the road running department with these shoes.  They are not as soft as Bondi's, but still absorb a lot of impact.  They're a lot more responsive and feel very fast on the road.

Can't wait to try these puppies out on the trails.

Nate and Gina were selling Hoka's like hotcakes at the expo.


It's easy to throw out a bunch of lame excuses but I just flat out didn't meet my goal, and no one or anything else is to blame but me.  I usually execute races pretty well,  I don't have too many bad issues arise, and I achieve my goals.  It is good for me to fail every once in a while.  I'm hungrier and fired up because of it - I try and maintain a habit of saying that I am going to do things, then doing them.  I don't like coming up short like this.

I should have logged more miles while training for this race.  I peaked at 90 miles one week, which felt good, but many other weeks were right around 60 miles.  I should have logged more long road runs instead of running long mountain runs, but the long mountain runs are too fun!  I should have worn calf sleeves.  I  should have slowed down at an aid station or two to drink more than a little swig out of the cup, and not spill most of it during handoff.

I have some unfinished business with road marathons, but I'm going to put that on the back burner for now.  2:29 will have to wait.

Next up, SEAN O'BRIEN 50M!  Can't wait to run with Dylan Bowman, Timothy Olson, Chris Vargo, Rod Bien, Jesse Haynes, Jason Wolfe, Jorge Pacheco, Erik Schulte, James Walsh, Dom Grossman, Ricardo Ramirez and others on February 1st.  The entrant list is growing every day, but I'll post some predictions before too long.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Griffith Park Trail 1/2 Marathon

With the California International (road) Marathon a couple weeks out, I thought this would be a perfect race to jump into.  I've heard great things about it from people who've run in it the last couple years, I've yet to set foot in Griffith Park (crazy, I know) so I signed up.

Myself, John Mering and Andres Diaz

8:30AM rolled around and we were off, straight up a nice hill.  I quickly fell a little behind the lead pack of last year's winner John Mering, Andres Diaz, Jesse Haynes and Sergio Arias.  I was dying trying to keep up, and eventually had to let them pull away a bit.  After climbing 500' in the first mile we got to head downhill for a bit and I caught everyone except the leader.  But as soon as we started uphill Andres would pass me.  I'd pass him again on the downhills and we continued to yo-yo like this for the first 6 miles.  At this point I caught up to John, but he pulled away as soon as we began climbing again and eventually kept about a minute lead on me the rest of the race.  Results here.

Before the race I was concerned that with 400 runners the out'n'back sections would get crowded and chaotic.  This wasn't the case at all.  The majority of the course was on smooth and wide dirt roads, and the volunteers at nearly every turn helped keep the race running smoothly.  The out and backs were fun because I got to see how friends behind me were doing, was able keep tabs on my buddy Jesse Haynes (who was close to catching me), and other runners and I got to cheer each other on.  My favorite out'n'back turn around aid station had to be at the observatory where I was handed a sports drink from this friendly guy:

The views on the course were amazing.  The recent storm left the air crystal clear with stellar views of the Pacific Ocean, downtown LA, and the San Gabriel Mountains - including Mt. Baldy with a fresh blanket of snow.  I haven't run anything but ultras for years now, and wasn't expecting a whole lot from this race on trails in the heart of LA, but it was a very cool event.

Un Id, John, RD extraordinaire, myself

With Keira Henninger running the show I knew everything would be marked extremely well, there would be a small army of friendly volunteers and there would be great stuff in the swag bag - a Patagonia Capiline T-shirt at this race, among a handful of other cool goodies.

Finish Line Feast: Kale salad, fruit, sandwiches, cookies, coke, Poweraide, etc., etc.


Rudy Project Sunglasses and visor worked well on this bright and sunny day.

Ink'n'burn tank and shorts felt great, as per usual.

Hoka - The Stinson EVO's have been my go-to shoes for a long time now, and they worked flawlessly today.  I love reeling people in running full speed downhill in the 4-5 minute mile range and having my feet feel great.  In the past I've used them primarily for long runs, but with all my road marathon training I'm realizing that they are great for shorter distance and speed work as well.  I'm insanely stoked to announce that I recently joined the Hoka Team.  They make the best shoes and I am very proud to represent them.  I have recently stepped up my training and am eating healthier.  I'm looking forward to a breakthrough year.  Time to fly!

My Drymax Trail Lite socks always feel good and today was no exception.

It was very refreshing to mix it up a bit and run a shorter race.  My body seems to have responded well to the faster/shorter/flatter training that I've been doing lately.  I see quite a few of the Bay Area runners jumping into shorter races and it seems to work for them.  Jorge Maravilla for example, recently ran a 1:09 at the Berkeley Half Marathon, and we all know how talented he is. 

I would love to jump right into another local shorter trail run, like one of the Paramount Ranch Trail Runs, but I'll be up in Sacramento running the California International Marathon that weekend - I'm not cool like Mike Wardian, so I'm not going to do both (he recently ran a marathon in San Antonio and Las Vegas in the same day).  After my road marathon when all I have on the horizon are ultras, I hope I'll still be able to talk myself into speed work and occasional shorter races.

We'll see if all this speed work I've been doing pays off come Sean O'Brien 50M, when all the big dogs come to town.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I am going to run a road marathon.

For the last year or so I have been toiling with the idea of running a road marathon again.  It has been awhile, three years.  In those three years I've fallen in love with trail running, and the more time I spend in bigger mountains the more I am drawn to them.  So why in the world am I starting to train for a road marathon again?

  • In July I ran the Hardrock 100... what better mountain race is there?  Maybe the UTMB, which is on my bucket list, but I probably won't sign up for a couple years.
  • Mike Chamoun and I backpacked the "crown jewel" of the Pacific Crest Trail: the John Muir Trail.  Hard to find more gorgeous mountains than that without venturing far away.
  • I'm not getting any younger, and while my 2:57 at the SF Marathon 3 years ago is a good time, I know I'm capable of something much lower, and I'm at a good age to run my best marathon, so I'm going to give it a whirl.
  • There's something about the structure of road running that I like.  Performance and improvement seem more objective, there are different nuances that create opportunities to challenge oneself.
I also have a counter arguments raging in my head:
  • After experiencing Hardrock and the JMT, I am even MORE drawn to the mountains and wilderness.
  • Who cares if I die with a 2:57 PR for a marathon.  Running in the mountains is more fun than running on the road.
I thought up an analogy the other day:  When I was skiing in high school I was fixated on free skiing - jumping, powder skiing, dropping off cliffs, carving down big open bowls, etc., etc.  But I was on the ski team that trained for hours on groomed runs, turning where I had to based on where all the gates were set, whether slalom or giant slalom.  Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun racing, but my heart was in free skiing.  Then one day I was free skiing, bombing down a bowl as fast as I could go, half in control/half out of control and I realized something.  My fundamentals that were honed from bashing through the gates on the race course were keeping me from eating shit.  

Spring skiing back in the day.  Photo by Pat Sheehan.

So how does this apply to running?  I'm hoping that returning to the road for maybe 50% of my training will improve my turnover and efficiency.  Basic running fundamentals will be pounded into me.  It will also be a new arena for me to push myself in.  And I think it's a little more straightforward in some regards than mountain training.  I can go out and see how fast I can run some Yasoo 800's, or a mile, or three miles.  It's harder to test yourself and get such easy to interpret feedback when you're running in the mountains.  With the advent of Strava and new FKT's popping up it is getting a little easier to qualify one's efforts.  Obviously a lot of people run in the mountains to escape from such details, appreciating that one day the trail is smooth and fast, the next it's covered in a foot of snow, the next it's washed out and 100 degrees, stopping to check out wildlife, but I digress.

Am I going to stop running trail races?  No way.  I think that half of the reason I keep running on trails is because they lead me up into the mountains.  Not 100% of me, but some of me does like the competitive side of trail racing, even if it's minimal compared to road races.  I believe that pushing myself to run fast for 26 miles will help unlock a little bit of potential I have yet to tap.  Time will tell.  

I've been toying with this idea, of returning to the roads part-time, for awhile - before the recent rise of Sage Canaday and Max King in the ultra world.  But the recent success that they have had probably helped push me over the edge to start eye balling winter marathons, and contemplate how far out I need to start training for one.

The dichotomy of road running and mountain running is crazy and I'm nervous about how my body is going to handle training for both.  Running a pace that doesn't change much on a flat surface with minimal change in pitch versus hiking slowly up, running fast down on uneven, rocky terrain.  I'm hoping that they will compliment each other in some way.

Regardless of how the training and racing goes, I probably need to update my road running wardrobe and style:

Any suggestions on good, fast winter marathons in the area?  I'm thinking Santa Clarita or R'n'R Vegas might be the ticket.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


This post got a little long.  I went back and tried to highlight the main points.  If I were you, I'd probably just read the big letters and look at the pictures... enjoy =)


I put in a significant amount of time and effort preparing for Hardrock this year.  I ran a lot, not tons, maxing out at 127 miles and I believe 33,000' of climbing in a peak week.  I got in many training miles with friends including:  Bear Cyn to Guffy CG and back, Bear Cyn + 3 T's, 9 Peaks of Baldy, Mammoth w/ Keith & Co., Rae Lakes Loop & camping trip to King's Canyon, and the 220mi JMT w/ Michael 'Nano' Chamoun.

I knew backpacking the John Muir Trail, from Yosemite to Whitney in 7 days, finishing 9 days before Hardrock was a little risky.  Would my body be able to recovery in that amount of time?  While a lot of runners didn't think so, and I was even leaning towards thinking it was a bad idea, I knew I lacked backpacking experience to know.  So I asked some people with more back packing experience.  Chamoun said I'd be fine, but of course he'd say that so that I'd go with him!  Andy Salinger said I'd be able to recovery - he's a runner AND back packer, and he's smarter than he looks, I trusted his advice and always do.  Kristin Farley, who completed the JMT with her son Ryan in 7 days, said with some hesitation that I'd probably have enough time to recover before race day.  In hindsight, I think it was very good training for racing 100 miles in the San Juans, hiking for 12-14 hours a day with a 25lb pack, reaching 14,486' on top of Whitney.  Sure, having a couple extra days to recoop would have been nice, but scheduling didn't allow it and it was too special of an opportunity to pass up.  Thanks again Mike, couldn't have done it without ya!

After speaking with Dylan Bowman at Hypoxico I rented an Altitude tent and generator for four weeks, sleeping in it before the JMT trip.  I'm sure it helped me acclimate.  I wish I would have rented it for a couple more weeks.  I gradually cranked the simulated altitude up a little higher than recommended, because I was going to be racing higher than most people who use the tents.  This left me a little lethargic at times, but I was also in the middle of my peak training.  Using the tent a couple weeks prior to peak training would have been smart.  If I use Hypoxico products again that is what I'll do.  I probably should have just bought the tent!

Chamoun on Mather Pass, 12, 080'


Home for a week.

Elissa and I drove our Subaru over to Silverton, caravaning with Katie DeSplinter.  Upon arriving in Silverton I was pretty nervous.  Getting outside and getting in a scouting run each day with Elissa, Tommy, Pam, and Chamoun helped calm me down.

Running from KT to the Finish a couple days before the race.  Tommy, looking back at Kamm Traverse.

My Parents arrived Wednesday, and came over to our house for the meeting to go over when I'd be at what aid stations, who was pacing me, how to get to each aid station, which ones required 4WD, etc., etc.  I'm so glad they made the trip!  Loved walking around Silverton with them and I think of all the races I've run, this is the most beautiful area and most unique event they could come to.  Not to mention that they helped out a ton with crewing, as did my Crew Chief, wife and llama, Elissa, Tommy, Pam, Dom, Katie and Mike.

Photo by Dom Grossman.


Elevation Profile with projected splits, who was pacing when, coffee stain etc.
Miles 0-9:

Friday morning came and we were off at 0600.  We made our way through Silverton and within a couple miles started the long steep ascent up Divies.  This was the first of 8 major climbs, 7 of which peaked around 13,000', with the exception of Handies which tops out at 14,000'.  I had no idea if I would fall way back in the beginning or feel great and foolishly lead the charge, but neither happened.  Joe Grant and Seb C. slowly slid ahead of everyone else with Troy Howard fairly close behind.  I settled in with Scott Jaime and Josh Mietz.

On the way down to Cunningham Aid Station at mile 9 I was surprised at how hard this downhill section was.  Way steeper, requiring a lot more energy than I'm used to, no easy gradual cruiser miles to be had yet.

Photo by Katie DeSpinter.

Miles 9-29:

I saw my whole Posse cheering me on at the aid station.  Dom informed me of a stiff climb headed up to Green mountain and I quickly learned that he wasn't wrong.  Scott pulled away from me to Join Troy and I was all alone, which is where I stayed until the next aid station.  I kept eyeing Diana Finkel behind me.  With her course knowledge I knew I was on track if she was taking the same route, and I was excited to see that I was staying ahead of her (for now).

I made my way down to Maggie Gulch and eventually to Pole Creek AS where I thanked all of the volunteers, many whom I worked with at this aid station last year.  The next section consisted mostly of a gradual uphill climb around lakes and creeks before steeply dropping down to Sherman AS.

Miles 29-42:

As I was feeling more and more beat, I was greeted by my family and friends and my spirits were instantly lifted.  They took my trash, loaded my pack back up and ushered me out on the dirt road towards Burrow's Park.

As I ran/hiked towards Burrow's Park my stomach started feeling queasy - probably related to a combination of altitude, heat, and humidity, which all lead to my heart pounding faster than it's probably ever beat.  I saw a familiar face at the aid station, Jerry Armstrong, it was nice to chat with him as I left and feed off of his energy and optimism.

photo by Jerry Armstrong

As I left the aid station and climbed above tree-line I continued to catch glimpses of Diana creeping up on me.  She quickly caught me, I stepped off the trail to let her by and cheered her on,  she said some kind words of encouragement before flying up and over Handies Peak.  As I approached the peak clouds were gathering, it was getting darker and the occasional rumbling of thunderheads were becoming louder.  As I summitted I scarfed down a honey stinger waffle... and my stomach got weirder.  I gently ran downhill to keep from vomiting.  It started to drizzle and was cold so I stopped and threw on my windbreaker and gloves.  Five minutes later as I started the climb up Grouse-American Pass I was overheating and had to stop to put my windbreaker back in the pack.

Coming into Grouse Gulch with Elissa.  photo by irunfar.
 With my nausea and wardrobe changes I lost some time in this last section and but was only 15 minutes off my projected arrival time.

Leaving Grouse with pacer Tommy Nielsen. Dom and Mike warming up for their pacing duties.  Photo by irunfar.

Miles 29-56:

Nausea was making it challenging to keep up on my caloric intake, but I ate when I could and ate what sounded good.  Tommy and I wound up the gradual dirt road towards Engineer Pass.  I saw a red shirted runner speeding up the road behind us.  Wow, at that speed he'll catch me soon I thought.  I later learned that this was Nick Coury, and luck for me, he didn't maintain that pace forever.

As Tommy and I began our descent to Ouray I began a noticed a pattern that continued for the majority of the race:  my stomach would get upset near the top of climbs, stay upset for the beginning of descents, but quickly become fine after heading downhill a short while.  I got into Ouray about 40 minutes later than I had hoped.  The warmth and humidity continued to take its toll on me.

Miles 56-72:

My awesome friends and family cheered me up and pointed me out of the aid station.  Tommy and I started the winding up the dirt road, alternating running with hiking depending on the pitch.  We quickly caught Joe Grant and his pacer.  I was sad to see him fall from the lead, but knew that there was plenty of race left for him to bounce back.  Force feeding myself was getting more and more difficult until I got to the point where just thinking about a gel made me throw up.  I was surprised with how much I threw up.  A lot of fluid, gels, bars, banana.  But I felt 100x better afterwards.  We made it into Governor Basin AS and I threw down some coke and banana.

As we continued our 10+ mile climb with over 5,000 feet of climbing Tom was telling me that I was doing a good job.  I didn't believe him for quite a while.  Then I thought, well, no one besides Diana has passed me today, so I guess I'm doing okay.  My stomach was better, but I still had to be careful about when, how much, and what I ate.  We made it to Kroger's Canteen on Virginius Pass and were greeted by Roch Horton.  He served us up some Perogies, which I ate with hesitation, but they did the trick.  We saw headlight's climbing towards us, maybe 50 feet down from the pass.  I believe it was Ted Mahon closing quickly.  Roch kicked us out of the aid station and we took off down the dark mountain towards Telluride.

Kroger's Canteen with Tommy.  Photo by Roch Horton.

With our headlamps a glow and the climb behind us I cooled down quickly for the first time in hours and my stomach felt okay for the first time in 30+ miles.  We arrived in Telluride around midnight, about an hour off my splits, but after seeing my crew, fueling up and drinking a redbull I felt like a million bucks.

Miles 72-82

I picked up Dom as a pacer.  His enthusiasm, music and energy kept me pumped up as we made our way up and over Oscar's.  On the way we saw plenty of animal eyes, tapetum lucidum reflecting our headlamp lights back at us, very surreal.  The cool air and drizzle cooled me to the core and I loved it.  We saw Scott Jaime cresting the pass ahead of us and lights behind us as we approached the top.  While I felt uber slow going uphill, Dom told me I was doing well to maintain consistent forward motion.  We traversed the 'golden road' and cruised down into Champman, where I arrived only 20 minutes behind my split so I was almost back on track.

Miles 82-100

Dom passed off the pacing duties to Chamoun and we snuck away in the night.

Photo by Dom Grossman.

Like Tom and Dom, Chamoun continued to encourage me, he helped with navigating and his optimism kept me going strong.  We could smell Scott Jamie's grey hairs on the trail as I attempted yet failed to chase him down.  The sky began to lighten as we slowly made our way up Grant-Swamp Pass and I could hardly make out Island Lake as we passed by.  At this point I could smell the barn and this inspired me.  Mike was pumped up as well which made me even more excited.  As dawn brought out the lush greenery all around us we made out a pair of headlamps down the mountain.  We quickly caught Diana and my excitement with moving into 4th was tempered with sadness because like last year she went from performing so well to struggling with renal issues and eventually dropping.  She is such a phenomenal athlete and from what I gathered after my brief interactions with her, a wonderful person.

Mike and I clicked off our lights as we hit Kamm Traverse and I cruised down to KT aid station.   "How long ago did Scott leave!"  We asked, "10-20 minutes," they responded.  We left quickly en route for the final climb of the course.  Mike pointed out 3 healthy elk as we approached the top of the tree-line.  We exited the trees and continued primarily cross country (sans trail) through miles of wild flowers.

With the climbing all behind us, Mike and I turned it on and pushed it to Putnam AS.  "How far ahead is Scott?!"  "10-20 minutes."  I knew my chances of catching him were slim, but I felt good so I went for it just in case, finishing 13 minutes behind him, 49 minutes quicker than I was hoping in 26:51.

Photo by irunfar.


Anyone can be a good sport when they do well, but Sebastian Chaigneau was an exceptional example of a grateful and appreciative winner.  Many people's favorite to win, Joe Grant, also exemplified great sportsmanship even after he dropped shortly after leaving Ouray, 56 miles into the race.  I love the atmosphere in Silverton for the race.  The board organizes and maintains the best event I've ever participated in.  Thank you Hardrock Board of Directors!  After volunteering at the race last year and running it this year, I see why people refer to those involved as the Hardrock Family.  There's magic in these mountains.


INKnBURN - My shirt and shorts worked great.  No chaffing issues at all, pockets up front in shorts are very handy.  I also like the woman's headband that I wore.

Rudy Project - Zyon glasses with the racing red lenses, haven't worn anything else in a long time.

FLUID - drank a lot of the new Citrus flavor performance drink throughout the race, and drank a couple bottles of chocolate recovery fluid at different aid stations.

Drymax Socks - I finally got to meet Bob MacGillivray and shake his hand, what a nice guy.  I wore one pair of Lite Trail running socks the entire race.  They worked perfectly as they always do.  Thanks for all of the pictures Bob!

All the support from my crew, pacers, family and friends before, during and after the race is almost overwhelming.  I feel guilty that so many people did so much for me.  I hope I can return the favor soon!  I am a lucky man to have such great family and friends.  Elissa, Mom, Dad, Pam, Tommy, Dom, Katie, Mike, I love you all!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Hardrock 100 Predictions

1) Seb Chaigneau (40): 2 podium finishes at UTMB, a first at an 80k in the Andes.  

2) Joe Grant (28):  2 great HR finishes including 2nd at HR last year.  He's also run Iditirod, Bighorn, UTMB.  Seeing him run through Pole Creek last year in hot pursuit of Dakota and Hal was inspiring... He's definitely going for the W and has a great shot this year.

3) Jared Campbell (33):  He's done Nolan's 14, Wasatch, HRx3, C2M, Bighorn, Bear, and he's made sweet how to glissade instructional videos.  A definite contender for 1st as well.

4) Matt Hart (38):  <20 Bear finish, Grindstone, HR, won TRT.

5) Troy Howard (40):  Leadville, Wasatch, WS, HR, Bear, AC.

6) Jamil Coury (28):  Mogollon Monster,  Leadville, AC, WS.  He also has been living in Silverton for awhile, making us all jealous that we're not there yet.

Other top dogs in order of who I think will finish first:  

-Neal Gorman
-Karl Meltzer (would have him higher if he didn't just race WS)
-Scott Jaime
-Adam Hewey
-Jason Poole
-Ted Mahon
-Dan Barger
-Nick Coury
-Ricky Denesik

What about the Woman!?  I'm sure at least half of that list above will get chicked... But by which ladies?  Someone please inform me.

From Mather Pass on JMT

Where will I land?  Hopefully the top 10.  I feel well acclimated, after a month in my Hypoxico tent, and after spending a week backpacking the JMT with my good buddy and one of my HR pacers Mike Chamoun.  I've put in some solid weeks with lots of climbing at moderate elevation.  I have run about 8 miles in the last 2 weeks, which doesn't feel quite right...  We'll see how well my 220mi back packing trip works as training.

Also from the JMT

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hardrock Training

While I'm still uber scared of Hardrock, I feel a little better about it knowing that I've been putting in just about as much work as I can to get ready for it.  Sure, I might have been able to run a little more, with a little more elevation gain, BUT, I ran most of my miles hard and am still feeling healthy, my body is responding well at what I'm throwing at it.  This week I ran 127 miles with 33,000' of climbing.  This aren't amazing numbers to some, but they felt like a lot to me, but not too much.  A lot of those miles were spent up at elevation with Elissa and good friends.  Last weekend we crashed Keith's pad up in Mammoth, thanks for the hospitality Keith!

Dom, Brian, Elissa, Katie, Michael, me and Keith behind the camera.
Duck Pass with Elissa.
photo by Chamoun.

Shoot'n a chute into Baldy Bowl.
photo by Dom?
Glissading is fun - near Garnet Lake.
photo by Dom.
Thousand Island Lake.
photo by Dom.

Couldn't help but check out this year's favorite to win HR (IMHO), Seb Chaigneau.  Looked at some of his recent training.  Cool, looks like he's running stuff similar to what I'm running in regards to length and time, and I almost climbed that much... oh, but he was 4,000' higher, yikes.  Not sure if he's really going to come this year, hope he does.

While I may not be ascending Mount Blanc like Seb, I've been sleeping in a Hypoxico Tent for a couple weeks.  Definitely took a bit out of me at first, but I'm slowly getting used to it.  After last weekends adventures in the Eastern Sierra I'd have to say it is helping.  But simply sleeping in a tent isn't going to do the trick.  I've been hitting up the high Sierra a lot, I'm heading up to Whitney next week, and I'm backpacking the John Muir Trail later this month - alllllllllll in attempt to survive, finish and have the best experience possible at Hardrock this July.

Can't wait to head over to Silverton!  I'm bringing Elissa, my parents, and some of my best friends out to the San Juans for some sweet, sweet mountain time.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Zane Grey Race Report

Elissa and I caravanned over to Arizona with Dom and Katie the day before the race.  Stopped at the Four Peaks Brewery in Tempe for some lunch and a brewski with locals James Bonnet and Carol Tichio.  Good food, good beer, great company.  After refueling we slowly made our way out of the Phoeneix area's flat dry desert into the rugged forested mountains, some of which form the Mogollon Rim.  How is Mogollon pronounced you ask?  I don't know.  I get a different answer every time I ask someone.  Here's what Wikipedia says:  (pron.: /mʌɡɨˈjn/ or /mɡəˈjn/) or /mɒɡɒɔːn/).  Got it?

The Rim & its beauty.

We stopped by the Best Western in Payson to snag my bib.  Saw Joe Rowland laying out by the pool, working on his tan/showing off his pecks, sipping on some Bartles & James.  Saw a handful of friends and people I haven't seen since X # of races ago.

Elissa and I made our way up to Strawberry to check into the Windmill Inn.  Chose this establishment primarily because of its close proximity to the start line and the early start time the next morning.  Sign on the Inn's office door read, "check in at bar."  Looked down the street and walked into the bar.  Had myself a coke and waited for the Inn manager to show up.  Eventually she shows up, explains that our room's toilet overflowed and was out of commission.  Uh-ohhhhh.  "But don't worry," she proclaimed, "I got you a room down the street at the market."  Room at the market hunh?

Bed was actually very comfortable, so I got a good night sleep, which important.  Towels smelled like cigarette smoke though, gross.  The man working at the market who checked us in told us, "you ought to just go camp out somewhere."  That's exactly what we would have done if we would have known that we were going to end up sleeping at the market, but we were without camping gear, oh well.

Made our way to the trail head for the 0500 start time.  Quite a few people were camped out there, made me appreciate that we chose not too.  I would have been too excited around all the people, noise and being at the start line.  Early start required using a headlamp for half an hour or so which is always fun.  My plan all along was to follow Jamil Coury (click that to read his ZG write up) or James Bonnett because they have both run this race, and I would be less likely to get lost if I were to follow them.

Jamil runs like he dresses: Awesomely.
After the first mile or so Dom and I pulled ahead of the other guys around, being: James, Jamil, Mike Foote, Scott Jaime, Joe Rowland, Mike Carson and a bunch of other peeps.  I was running in auto-pilot mode/cruise control and running slower would just get me to the finish slower.  Didn't feel like the pace we were running at was going to keep me from running hard 40+ miles from now, so I took the lead for the next 20 miles or so, intermittently hearing my stalkers only a minute or two behind the whole time.  Every once in a while I would think to myself, "I'm glad there aren't any rabbits here today - sprinting off the start line... wait a minute, am I a dumb rabbit?  Nah, this pace is sustainable."

Geronimo AS, mile 8?

Then the well-paced dumb rabbit missed a turn.  Got onto the Myrtle Trail, went up 1,000' in a mile.

From the top of the rim I yelled:

Any runners out thereeeeeeeeeeeeeee???????
Ef meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!

Guess I am not going to make the rest of my splitssssssssssss!!!!!!!
Oh no, my ultrasignup % is ruinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnned!!!!!!! (I don't really care)
Hello, anyone, Beuhlerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr?????

Realizing I was off course, I came back a mile to the trail.  After getting home and geeking out on my Garmin data I figured out that I was off course for 33 minutes.  Oops.  Went from 1st to 11th.  BUT, I got to check out the rim, which no other runners did this year (Joe Grant took the same detour in 2011 but ripped his shoe apart in the process).  I got to stop and check out some hug elk crossing the trail right in front of me because of my mishap, and I got to run with more people, so it wasn't all bad.  I was pretty down though when I realized what happened.  I knew going into this race that a lot of people get off course here, but it was frustrating since I trained hard for it, was feeling healthy, and the slow running, technical terrain suites my abilities.

The first person I ran into was Brad Harris, we both ran Old Goats 50M a month or so ago.  His good attitude helped me keep going, thanks Brad, and congrats on holding on for a solid finish.  Unfortunately, after seeing Brad I ran out of water, then gels.  Finally got to the Fish Hatchery AS at mile 33.  I felt bad because Elissa was crewing me all day and I knew she had been waiting around for me, knowing that I was due an hour before I got there.  She helped revive me a bit and kept me focused on running forward and not dwelling too much on my "bonus miles."  It was nice seeing another friendly face and Pasadenan (sp?) Kristen Farley, there to push me out of the aid station.

Threw on my pack for the upcoming 11mile section.  I gradually regained strength as I got fluids and calories back into me and came back to life.  I enjoyed the rest of the course, feeling better now and just soaking up the nice terrain, moderate temperature and friendly faces along the way.

Good times were had at the finish line, gorging on food, sipping on frosty beverages, cheering on friends as they finished, sharing trail tales with old and new friends.

Thanks for the beer Justin!  See you and Scott in Silverton.
photo by Dom?
Congrats to James Bonnett for winning in a speedy time of 8:40.  Foote came in second, just a couple minutes in front of Jamil.  Kerrie Bruxvoort won in a solid time of 10:03, followed by Diana Finkel, then Sara McCloskey.  Full results here.

The Zane Grey 50M course is probably my favorite course.  It's beauty, ruggedness and rocky terrain were incredible.  Just might have to come back and try to run it without getting lost some day.

Thursday, April 25, 2013




I've wanted to do this race ever since I heard about its rugged beauty.  I've never fancied myself a fast runner.  I am at home in technical slow terrain, and I like to push through suffering so this race should be perfect for me!

I have felt pretty good about the last couple races I've run.  But there is something different about this race.  It's long history of big dogs running it, stories of broken bones, reports of this being THE toughest 50 miler. But more importantly, I'll be stepping out of my little SoCal comfort zone.  I love our trails down here and racing our great races is logistically and financially easier.  I temper the feeling of recent success in races with knowing that I've seldom run against "the big dogs."  We have legit local runners, but it's time I venture off my home trails onto someone else's.  Zane Grey is looking to be pulling more fast runners from farther away than most races I've run.  It's no North Face or Lake Sonoma by any means, but it does have a talented field toeing the line.  I'm excited to race against the guys listed below.  I'm faster now than I've ever been and we'll see what I've got this Saturday.  Should be a great opportunity to see what I'm made of.

Jay McDowell has posted polls on his blog that allows readers to pick who they think is going to win.

Purdy - Stolen from Ian Torrence's Blog.


Mike Foote - 3rd place at last years UTMB = 100% stud.  He's going to beat everyone by 10-15 minutes in a time of 8:20.

Jamil Coury -  While only 8 people finished the Mogollon Monster, he won with a solid time for a 106 mile course.  Oh yeah, and he helped a couple replace a flat tire during the race.  He keeps getting faster and faster, and he's as cool as a cucumber.  He knows the course well and will finish in the 8:30's.

James Bonnett - He's fast.  He's run this race.  If he still has his dreads, their weight will slow him down a bit - Finishing in 8:40.  If they are no more, he might sneak in ahead of Jamil.  

Catlow Shipek - Last years winner.  Word on the street is that he's injured.  Can anyone confirm or deny this?

Michael Carson - 2nd last year.  Will finish in 8:50.

Bret Sarnquist - Has run this race well, 9:30.

Scott Jaime - Won ZG 4 years ago.  Will run smart, passing people in 2nd half: 9:35.

Dom Grossman - Didn't taper long enough: 9:36.

Brian Hopton-Jones - 4th here last year, 9:40.

John Anderson - 9:40.

Cory Davidson - Ran the Grand Canyon with him 3 weeks ago, great climber: 10:00.

Jason Leman - 10:00.

David Metzler - Was on Jay's Poll.  Who is this guy?

Ian Torrence - 10:45

Chris Price - You tell me X:XX?


Paulette Zillmer - Last years winner.  Winner of AC.  Speedy, does well in heat.  9:59.

Kerrie Bruxvoort - 2nd at Speedgoat last year: 10:00.

Diana Finkel (not Einhorn!) - HR CR holder: 10:00.

Jane Larkindale - 10:00.  Wow, it's going to be a tight race up in front for the women!

Brittany Orkney - 10:30.

Magi Redlich - 11:00.

Katie DeSplinter - Tougher than poop, which will come in handy on this course:  11:00.

Sarah McCloskey - 11:30.

Like always I made this list a little hastily.  So fill me in on who and/or what I missed.

Rumors:  Is Karl Metlzer going to show up and run?  He seems to race ZG most years.  I heard that Tony Krupicka was thinking about running.  Anybody have an insight?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Grand Canyon Pics & Getting ready for Zane Grey

Double rim crossing of Grand Canyon lived up to the hype. One of the runners in our group, Cory, did a great write up about our trip here.  See you at Zane Grey Cory!

Night before 
Sun coming up on Dan Olmstead and Lewis Taylor descending South Kaibab Trail.

Added on a couple miles to Plateau Point, worth it.

Climbing back up the South Rim via Bright Angel Trail.

Cory crossing a bridge on our way down from the North Rim.
Training for ZG has gone well, using the Grand Canyon as my last long run. Then running on local trails like Steep'n'cheap and the Briar Trail. Pictures here of me, Dom, Peter and Erik doing BDP (Baldy, Dawson, Pine) good technical dirt in preparation for some rocky Arizona trails.

Looking at Baden-Powell from Dawson Peak

Erik posted some good pics from some of the above mentioned runs here.

There's something about the way everything looks when you are up on the top of mountains where the air thins. Keeps me coming back.

Backside of Baldy