Friday, September 23, 2016

Run Rabbit Run 100 - Race Report

My muscles ached from start, but I didn't go out hard, I didn't run a ton during peak weeks or weeks prior to race... why?  I’ve had races turn out okay when it didn’t feel like it was going to be my day early on, but usually I feel frisky like a puppy come race day.

I loved seeing my wife and baby Penny at Olympian Hall Aid Station both times I passed through (miles 20 & 41), and Amanda Harms-Shebest was super helpful since Elissa was busy holding Penny and I wasn't toooooo far behind the hundred mile machine Bob Shebest.

Jesse Haynes and I shared a lot of miles in the first 35.  We used to have a good friendly rivalry at races back in California, usually finishing within a couple minutes of each other, and we used to run together a lot in training – loved catching up with him a bit.

My fueling worked well, taking a Vfuel gel every 30 minutes, until I ate too much 'real food' at mi 41, oranges, chips, watermelon = nausea/vomitting at ~50.  The woman's winner Courtney passed me here and offered some jelly beans to ease my nausea and offered some words of encouragement along the lines of, "you'll bounce back."  I was stoked to see her hold on to the lead, she’s the kind of person you can’t help but root for.   

It was such a slow, cold slog the last 3 or so miles into the Long Lake AS at mile 53, dozen’s of runners hung around looking like crap, many packed around the campfire.  It was 30 degrees, which isn't cold when you've got some nice light gear on and you're moving decently, but when you are hiking slowly and stopping to dry heave and puke for a couple miles, you get cold quickly wearing the aforementioned clothes. Upon reaching aid I spent so much time there and I felt irreversibly horrible.  I knew my lofty aspiration of finishing around 19-20 hours was long gone.  This thought was devastating.  In the months leading up to the race I struggled with balancing working with training and being a husband, and a father to an infant (along with the sleep deprivation that accompanies it).  In doing my best to balance everything, I don't feel like I did anything well, and for what?  So I could fall apart in my biggest race of the year?  I wanted to prove to myself, my primary sponsor Hoka and everyone else that I could do well against a big pack of fast runners in a mountainous hundred.  Instead I lost the chance.  From early on I could tell that my body wasn't quite right, quitting would stop progressing the pain I was in and would allow me to get to sleep earlier.  I'd recover quicker and feel better sooner.  I wouldn't risk further nausea and emesis that leads to getting cold and moving even slower in the cool temperatures.  I wouldn’t finish with a time that didn’t look good.  I had gone from 15th ish to 33rd place by the time I left.  

During my 30+ minute residency at the aid station I ate some ramen.  I knew this wasn't an ideal place to drop, but I totally wanted to.  I saw Bob Shebest look unShebesty for the first time ever.  A fireside companion told me that the next aid was a lot easier to drop from and was only 5.8 miles away.  After the soup and warming by the fire I knew I could make it that far so I took off.  A couple miles down the dark dirt road littered with the lights of headlamps I thought, well I'm not feeling bad enough to drop anymore, let's see how this goes.   

In our hotel room, a couple hours before the race started I was all dressed up in my tank and shorts, ready to run.  I was holding my six month old daughter, Penny, and I took a picture of us while looking in the mirror.  I couldn't live with the idea of her looking back at that picture years down the road and asking, "how'd you do Daddy?"  And having to reply, "I quit because it got tough for a little while."  I think back to a picture my parents have of me when I was about three years old, sitting on a little wooden stool at a marathon my dad was running, waiting for him to run up to the finish.  I don't really remember being there, but the whole story and feeling behind it all has a happier ending with the fathers finishing the race instead of pulling up lame.  This idea did make me a tiny bit proud, that I was able to persevere and push on as hard as I could.

I continued to eat a cup of ramen at each AS, fill my water bottle with diluted coke and I eventually started popping VFuel's again.

Around mile 72 was the turn around.  I saw a bunch of people I was slowly trying to catch up to within a handful of miles from here, this reignited my fire for a bit, then the long climb from 6,800’ to 10,800’ began.  I hiked/ran up the dirt road until 04:30 AM when I started to weave and almost fall asleep while hiking, so I mostly ran from there on out because it kept me awake.

A beautiful sunrise crept into the world, through clearings in the thin sparse sub-alpine pine forest I caught glimpses of a dark blood orange hue filling the eastern sky.  I continued to push as hard as I could.  With it being mostly dark, and having hares and tortoises continuously crossing paths, it was difficult to tell if I was  passing anyone.  From previous experience, I am accustomed to doing well in races if I'm able to push as hard as I did, for as long as I did at RRR.  I was disappointed when I crossed the finish line in 22:05 and asked the RD what place I finished in when he told me, "11th."  Ouch.

Odds & Ends:

Will I run this race again?  

I Want to because:    

-I'd like to redeem myself.
-It was fun running through the night.
-Cool temperatures feel good for running.
-It’s always a stacked field.
-The fall colors were pretty.
-It is easy to book a room at the resort and walk to and from the finish/start, and there is a nice little creek at the resort that kids and dogs play in.

I Don't want to because:

-The tortoises start 4 hours earlier resulting in you having to pass a lot of runners.
It was annoying to cross paths with hundreds of runners at on the 4.5 miles of single track to and from the final turn around.  While you see more friends at a big race like this, you don’t have the intimate feel that a lot of other ultras have.
-There are quite a few miles of wide dirt road.
-I would like to see what I'm running around when I'm out running around for hours and hours and hours instead of starting at noon and running half of the race in the dark.
-While you do run up to 10,000', you never get alpine and while the scenery is nice, the mountains are kind of soft, featureless mounds, compared to higher, rockier peaks.
-The six miles of pavement on Fish Creek Falls Rd. to Olympian Hall.

*My failing to run near my goal time and being in a generally miserable physical state during the race most likely has skewed my perspective towards the negative when listing the pro’s and con’s of this event.

Sponsor Shout Outs:

Hoka:  The Clayton's worker well and are super comfortable, but after 53 miles my lower extremities thought a little more cushion would be nice for the next 53 miles.  So I slipped on the Challenger 2's and they were perfect for the long descents down hard packed dirt roads.  

Julbo: Blast sunglasses with photochromic lenses worked well in the day.

Drymax Socks.  Wore the same Lite Trail Running Socks the entire time, the only socks I wear at races.  I had Zero feet issues, no blisters, nadda.  

Vfuel:  my stomach worked fine when I was only consuming Vfuel, and it worked well when I was taking them at the end, especially in the hours before sunrise when my body desperately craving sleep.  The small amounts of taurine and caffeine kept me awake when I needed it most.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Never Summer 100k

The course started out on a dirt road for the first couple miles where we saw 2 moose, a cow with her calf.  We quickly started heading up to Seven Utes Peak.  Such nice alpine terrain, trails fading in and out, wildflowers blooming, sun coming up over ridges.  We settled into a lead pack of three: Eliot Barcikowski, myself and Gabe Joyes who pointed out a young little bull moose bolting for the trees at the sight or sound of us.  At some point we'd separate a tiny bit but I think we were all just hanging out together for the fun of it, and because we were going at what was a smart pace for us.

Coming down from Seven Utes Peak
photo from Never Summer 100k website

Agnes Lake
photo by Erin Bibeau

The three of us were together hiking up Diamond Peak.  I was surprised with how steep this puppy was.  Probably 35% incline up a trailless grassy ridge to 11,800'.  Very nice.  Eliot and Gabe pulled away a bit and leaving me to run by my lonesome.

Diamond Peak on the right, and the ridge we followed after,
photo from Never Summer 100k webiste.

The course is a big loop with a 5 mile out and back at mile 40.  At this point I had passed Eliot and only had Gabe in front of me, but had Nick Pedetella nipping at my heals.  Gabe had a 10 minute lead on me and was looking good, but I was hungry to run him down and excited to try, knowing that I had 20+ miles to do so my plan was to keep doing my thing and see if he'd come to me.  Unfortunately, my growing nausea exploded into projectile vomiting of a large volume of fluid at mile 46.  Both Nick and Chris Schurk offered water as they passed me while I was clutching a sign post.  My stomach felt better, but the loss of fluid, electrolytes and intestinal secretions left me depleted.  I tried to get back on track but couldn't, leading to a mental pity party.  I kept chugging along I knew I couldn't chase anyone down and my goal of podiuming wasn't in the cards.

At the mile 55 aid station, my wife and daughter Penny greeted me and hung out while I ate.  Eliot and Jeff Mogavero passed me while I sat.  I walked/shuffled the last 9 miles in, getting passed by Elijah Flenner.

Most of the first 45 miles were solid and rugged mountain miles.  Not much in the way of cruising on smooth single track or dirt road.  And there were miles of overgrown trail that wasn't really a trail you could follow on the ground, but a trail that was marked by colored signs on trees that led through grass, bushes, fallen trees, etc.  I guess what I'm getting at is this course is tough and slow.  Tougher than I had imagined, but that is exactly my kind of party... I just wasn't ready for the party I guess.

Leading into the race I thought I'd surely end up on the podium.  Got a good dose of reality and a reminder NOT to take anything for granted.

I feel bad that VFuel and Drymax, both sponsors of mine, were big supporters of this race... and it was my worst performance in a long time.  Full Results: here.  Congratulations to all the finishers and participants.

If you're looking for a tough, remote, gorgeous 100k, I highly recommend this event.  Race Director's Nick Clark and Pete Stevenson put on a handful of events with Gnar Runner's and they obviously have race directing down pat.  I'll have to give another one of their events a shot.


Vfuel:  For the first time I ran with a flask, 5oz., and refilled it with provided VFuel at the aid stations.  This was a nice change to taking gels from single serving packets, and less wasteful.  I had some of the VFuel drink mix too, but probably should have drank more of this and nibbled more on real food sooner to keep nausea at bay.  3 gels an hour work so well for fueling for the first 30+ miles, but my stomach needs a little variety I think.  Loved chatting with VFuel co-founder, Alan Smith, and his wife Lori after the race.  He recently attempted a double Hardrock 100 run, but stopped just short of 200 miles.

Julbo:  I wore the new Aero's and they were very comfortable.  The photochromic lenses were great for the intense sun and shaded forests.

HOKA:  I wore a fresh pair of Speedgoat's, right out of the box.  My feet felt great all day and after finishing, the sticky vibram outsoles were great on all the cross county terrain and creek crossings.

Drymax:  My Trail Lite socks are all I ever wear any more.  After 13:30 on tough terrain with heat, creek crossings, etc.  I didn't have a single blister or hot spot.

Next up: Run Rabbit Run.  As I've switched from working night shift to day shift I think I'll be able to train better and sleep better.  This race served as a good kick in the ass, reminding me how demanding mountain miles around 10,000' elevation are.

Monday, July 4, 2016

San Juan Solstice 50M - Race Report

Playing cribbage the day before the race to keep my head cool.  Penny telling me what to discard.
Penny puts down the pacifier to go over race strategy.

We had a nice 2 mile warm up on dirt road to start.  A pack of 6 or so of us led the way to the Alpine Gulch trail head.  We stomped through half a dozen or so creek crossings as we made our way up the first of three major climbs on the course.  Dustin Simoens pulled away from Travis Macy, Jon Brown and I as we ran through the first aid station then crested the climb and began the 6 mile descent to the Williams Creek aid station, which was conveniently where my family and our good friends Peter (who also raced) and Mandy (crewed & paced Peter) camped at the night before the race.  Dustin ran through a couple minutes before I did and I a couple minutes before Travis and Jon.

By the time we all topped out on the Continental Divide at the halfway point of the race, Dustin had 9 minutes on me and Travis was still a minute or two back.  I was pleasantly surprised with how runnable most of the course was.

At the Divide aid station ~ mile 31, I scarfed down some potato chips... probably too many.  My stomach, which had been rock solid with a Vfuel every 20 minutes and water all day, didn't like the watermelon and handfuls of chips I gorged on.

For the last 20+ miles every time I would look back, Travis would be right there, a minute or two back. Initially I thought, sweet, he can't catch me.  Eventually I realized that he was just waiting to strike.  Strike he did, blowing by me at mile 34.

I snagged a water bottle and waist pack from my wife Elissa at Slumgullion, the aid station at the 40 mile mark.  I physically fell apart for a couple miles and had a little pity party as I hiked through the moderate climb through a gorgeous aspen forest.  I was dehydrated but didn't have much left in my bottle.  Luckily I came to a clear looking stream after the top of the climb that has not given me giardia yet.

I slowly cruised down the steep descent into town and made my way to the park where the race started and finished in 8:52.  Good enough for 3rd place today.

Travis Macy (2nd) holding is daugher, Dustin Simoens(1st) holding his beer, me (3rd) holding Dustin.
photo from San Juan Solstice Race FB page.


Glad I went with the Hoka Speedgoat's, they're still my favorite big mountain shoe - performed well through the creeks, mud, rocks and small patches of snow.

Drymax Lite Trail Running socks kept my feet happy.  No blisters or hot spots after 50 miles of creek crossings, small patches of snow and alpine terrain.

VFuel gels kept my energy level perfect and stomach happy, until I foolishly ate too much watermelon and too many chips.

Julbo Blast's with their photochromic lenses were nice for the exposed breezy ridges and shady forests.

This was definitely one of the best events I've participated in.  The loop course is in the fairytailesq San Juan Mountains, the organization is smooth and everyone can enjoy a free breakfast buffet in the park the next morning.  There are lots of kiddo's and dogs around, along with tons of good mountain loving peeps including fellow Montrosians Chris Marcinek and Erin McMahon.  I enjoyed pacing and crewing my wife at the race the last two years and am glad I ran it this year.  While part of me is stoked to have finished on the podium, another part of me knows that I could finish in less time than I did this year.  I'll be coming back.

Penny likes camping in Lake City.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Sage Burner 50k

I started out a little too fast as I wanted to keep up with the lead pack of 25k racers.  After a couple miles of running the excitement wore off and a clearer head prevailed.  I remembered that I was running twice as far and should take it down a notch.  I settled in behind the first four 25k runners up to the turn where they took a left and us 50k racers took a right.  Until this point I kept eyeing a runner about 20 yards behind me, moving in a very cool and controlled manner.  Shit, I bet he's running the 50k with me.  Sure enough he was.  Shortly after the 25k/50k split he passed me, we chatted a bit and I was pushing it a bit more to keep up.  I had to go check out the bushes and never saw him again until the finish.

Hartman Rocks - race location.
photo by llama

I was pleasantly surprised to read that the dude won the 50k and smoked me by 11 minutes, Marshal Thomson, has the course record at Collegiate Peaks 50M and is a stud in the skimo arena.  While I wasn't close enough to reel him in, the 3rd place finisher, Dustin Simoens, was a minute behind me for the last 6 miles!  I kept looking back, unable to shake him.  In the last mile he crept within 10 seconds or so, but lucky for me we hit a steep and technical downhill and I was able to stay ahead just enough to finish in 2nd place.  Looks like we'll be facing each other again at San Juan Solstice and Run Rabbit Run.

Our friends from Montrose, Erin McMahon and her fiance, Chris Marcinek did well over in Gunnison at the Sage Burner Races as well.  Erin finished 2nd in the 50k and Chris finished 2nd AG in the bike/run/bike.  Stoked to run San Juan with those two in a month.  Congrats to my Hoka teammate, Timmy Parr, for placing 2nd in the 25k.  Good luck at the Mt. Evans Ascent tomorrow!

Overall, I think I paced myself well, and put forth a decent effort.  I don't think I was quite fit enough to go all out and truly race like I wish I could have.  Everyone has their lame excuses.  But rather than write about those, I'll mention what I'm going to do to prepare for San Juan Solstice:  I'm going to start getting in more vertical gain/loss in my runs, slowly increase my mileage, get more comfortable with being uncomfortable (suffer more on workouts), and lose a couple pounds.

in every single way...

Sponsor Shout Outs:

Hoka One One:  My Clayton's were the perfect shoe for this fast course with lots of rocky sections.  They're super light and I dig their softer heal and firmer forefoot.

VFuel:  Without any drop bag aid stations, I decided to wear a waist pack stuffed full of 8 gels.  Since I didn't bring enough to take one every 20 minutes like I normally do, I ended up snacking too much at aid stations and combining all kinds of stuff together in my water bottle.  Got a bit nauseous, dry heaved a bit.  Next race I'll go back to my tried and true formula of water and a VFuel every 20 minutes, works every time.  Lesson learned.  Would have packed more, but that would have required wearing a pack, didn't want to do that, oh well.

Drymax:  Thin running socks worked very well as per usual.

Julbo:  Zebra Light photochromic lenses on Blast frames are my go to.  Worked well in the sun and wind.

Next up, San Juan Solstice!                        

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Desert Rats Double Marathon

above the Colorado River
photo by Glen Delman
With a winter storm warning and reports of runners from the east, mostly Denver, unable to make it over I-70 to the race I was prepared for any weather and trail conditions.  With vision of mud, wind, snow and soppy wetness I toed the start line with windbreaker, gloves, long pants, and backpack full of hand warmers, beanie, etc.  But despite the rain the day before the trails were bone dry and not a single drop of rain fell on me during the race.  The temperature was perfect for running but it was quite gusty.

rim running
photo by Cory Meaker

Half marathoners, marathoners, 50kers and double marathoners all started together at 0630.  Runners of all distances had $100 up for grabs for first male and female runners to make it up the first climb at mile 1.3.  For the fourth time my Hoka teamate Timmy Par snagged the prize.  He went on to place 2nd in the marathon behind elite Skimo racer, Jon Brown.  I was the third runner to complete the marathon, in 3:37, at which point I turned around and went out for another loop in reverse direction.  Running against traffic of the finishing marathoners was great.  High-fiving friends Cory, Graham and Jeff, cheering on and being cheered on.  I end up finishing first in 7:37.

The runner who was in 2nd place for the double marathon got lost unfortunately.  The course was very well marked but it was extremely windy at times.  I heard he had his head down during a gusty spell while running through an intersection and went the wrong way.  While the cloudy low light conditions didn't make sunglasses necessary from a brightness standpoint, I wore my Julbo 
Venturi's with light lenses and they proved extremely valuable out in the turbulence.

boo boo's

At mile 49 of the 52 mile race I was trying to pick it up a bit and finish the race off strong.  It was a rocky section and I caught my toe and landed on the rock square on my chest pretty hard.  Knocked the wind out of me, sunglasses flew off, got a mouthful of dirt.  The way I hit the rock made me hit it and stick, more than slide or bounce like I normally do.  I slowly pulled myself off the ground, moaning a bit and heard a loud growl.  I looked over at the edge of the rim I was running on and saw a large canine tail dart into its cave.  Better keep moving.  I busted my watch in the fall, so I picked it up off the ground and started to shuffle my way to the finish.

I hear ad nauseam about how cool people in our sport are but recently I couldn't help but realize that yeah, we really are a nice bunch.  Minutes after posting a picture of my broken watch I received a message from a nice guy I met in Silverton last year, Christopher Agbay.  He said that he had his old 310XT watch sitting in his closet and would mail it to me if I would like.  Sweet!  A couple days later a package arrives on our doorstep and in it were two of his old GPS watches and...

Christopher is a professional baker and runs Wicked Good Cookies, a Massachusetts based micro-bakery.  Thanks for the delicious treats Christopher, "See you in Silverton."

That watch that I broke last Saturday, was generously given to me by Keith Swiatowski after he saw a picture I posted of me breaking my watch about 16 months ago.

And how did I get that original Garmin?  A group of friends got it for me as a present 6 years ago, to replace the massive old watch I was using... that my ultra running mentor, Andy Salinger, gave me as I started getting into running.  So I have yet to purchase a GPS watch.  Friends keep handing me down their old ones, as I break them =)

After the race Elissa, Penny and I wandered around Grand Junction for awhile until the after party/awards shindig started at Edgewater Brewery.  Free beer and wings, a great way to cap off this early season race.  The Desert Rats Trail Running Festival was a great event.  Unfortunately, many entrants couldn't make it due to snow and road closures on I-70.  The McInnis Canyons Conservation Area where the races are held is definitely worth checking out, and with race distances from 5 miles to 52 miles it has something for everyone.


Hoka One One
:  While I usually reserve my Speedgoat's for use in mud and/or snow, they felt great on the dry dirt and their sticky vibram outsoles kept me from sliding around on the slick and steep rocky surfaces.

VFuel:  I consumed 19 gels during the race.  One every 20 minutes.  At the end I had a couple handfuls of chips and sips of coke as well.  I wasn't nauseous and had consistent energy the whole 52 miles.  I consumed the Maple Bacon flavor quite a bit in the morning (breakfast time) and saved the Peach Cobbler flavor for desert towards the end of the race.  The Mountain Berry flavor is definitely my favorite though.

Drymax Socks:  The 1/4 crew trail running socks kept my feet comfy and warm.  No blisters or hotspots.

Julbo Sunglasses:  As I mentioned earlier, the Venturi's kept the wind out of my eyes and the Zebra light (photochromic) lenses were perfect for the cloudy, low light conditions.