Friday, November 19, 2010

Bad Religion

Saw Bad Religion w/ The Bouncing Souls this week. For a bunch of old dudes they still kick ass. Good times. And I can still pull off less than 3 hours of sleep and be somewhat productive at work. Good training for running 100's....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ron Herzog 50K

Hopefully I can gleam some pictures soon and will add them...

The first wrong turn was early, and I was running with Shawn Bussert with two more a minute or two back, and we all went the wrong way, stopped and tried to figure it out for a couple minutes…then we continued on. A few people got in front of us, but we passed them back right before the tank traps.

The tank traps were interesting to say the least. I can't believe these were actually cleared out. It was a combination of scrambling on all fours through and up a ditch, breaking trail, stopping and looking for the next course marking ribbon, sprinting for 100 yards, repeat for a couple miles. When I first started running through this I was thinking WTF? Seriously we have to run through this crap? I must have been drilled in the shin about 50 times by wayward twigs and logs, my legs are a bit scraped up…but after about 5 minutes of internal whining I really started to enjoy this. I could be running on a boring road instead…but I wouldn't have the memory that this created. It actually got really fun. There were a couple places where we had to duck and crawl through a bunch of trees where the opening was less than two feet. Some of the trees were easily hurdled. Some you needed to climb over. Some you could duck. This was seriously a cool section now that I think of it a couple days later. Right at the end we had to cross a little river / creek. We had to hold a rope so we didn't get washed down the stream if we slipped on the wet rocks - it wasn't really too bad, it was only about 1 foot deep. The water was so cold. I was still with Shawn Bussert at this point, I asked him if he knew how long to the aid station…he tells me 2 miles. After not being able to run for the past couple miles in the tank traps my legs wanted to go…so I start to open up the pace a little, and then see Tony C. a mile or so later. He tells me the aid station is about 2 miles up the forest road. Hmmmm. I dig out my last Power Bar and munch that and run a little easy…keeping the pace around 7:30 while I eat. Shawn and I enter the aid station together.

I fill my bottles and feel good knowing that I have mostly downhill to the finish. I quickly drop the pace to about 6:40 and open a gap on Shawn. I was a little surprised at this because I thought his leg speed was better than mine. But the pace felt easy…so I just kept it going just chilling at sub 7:00 pace. Then there was a climb that seemed to last forever…I didn't remember it from the year before (we did run this part of the course last year) - so again I just tried the keep the legs turning over and tried to stay in the low 8:00's. Whatever my plan was seemed to be working. I knew I had a big gap to 2nd. Then I got to an intersection where I couldn't remember where to go. I was running on forest road…the forest road turned left…pavement started straight ahead. Hmmmm. I stood there for a couple minutes, looked for some arrows painted on the road, didn't see any…so I ran down the forest road for about 1/4 mile looking for ribbons. I didn't see any. Turned around…came back to the intersection and stood there a little longer and tried to think it out. I knew I had to get to the main road..so decided the paved road was the best option to get back. I dropped the pace down to about 6:15 and kept it to the finish. When I got to the main road I tried to see if anyone was behind me…but couldn't see anyone. That felt good. I probably lost a total of 10-12 minutes with the wrong turns in the race, but I didn't really care, it was fun. Total time was 4:47:21

All of the money of this race goes to ALS which is pretty special to me since I lost someone to this stupid ass disease a few years back. My parents match me in the donation, and this is something I can do to help me feel like I'm doing something, and also to remember him, and think of him and know he is not forgotten.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Baker Lake 50K

3rd place overall out of 140-ish. 4:38....30 minutes faster than last year.

My ankle is pretty shot though, I knew it was going to be. I felt pretty good all day long, it was warm too, I could have used some more fluids during the run. I only drank about 125 oz. during the run, ate 5 roctanes, a bag of Gu chomps, and 2 bites of powerbar.

I really need to heal up though. I'll force myself to take a week off and slack, which is probably a good thing right about now, although I want to run so bad but I don't want to be broken either.

I love this course! Gabby was 2nd girl. Congrats!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pine to Palm 100 - WTF??????

Is anyone else out there getting a little worried about this race? I know the Ashland crew is a bunch of serious runners, and I don't doubt their knowledge or expertise about putting on a race, but it's barely 10 days away and the web site is still missing a shitload of pertinent information. If they F___it up I could we could just change it to the Beer 50 and party like a sonuvabitch.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where's Waldo 100K

Let me preface this by saying the drive down absolutely sucked. I left work in Everett, WA at about noon hoping to be at the race venue by 7:00. I figured I'd get to chill out, watch a movie in the car, and have a nice relaxing evening before the run. What a moron I am! What really happened is I got stuck in traffic pretty much everywhere until I got out of the Portland area.  I got to the race at about 9:45 at night. I was completely wired and had a heck of a time falling asleep. I read for a long time. Searched the web on my phone. Read some more. I never sleep well the night before a race though. Does anyone? I dozed off and on for a little bit but probably slept no more than 3 total hours before the race.

I never did hear the early starters take off at 3am though, so that's a good thing, means I must have been sleeping. I woke up about 3:30 to find one of the most spectacular skies ever. I cannot remember seeing a plethora of stars on display like this. Never!Every constellation was visible; it was simply stunning. How could one not stop and think of the beauty of nature in a time like this? For me this was a spectacular start to a race I was very unsure of how it was going to unfold. It was my brother's 41st birthday, except he passed away 18 years ago. I was hoping that being in the peaceful beauty of the mountains on this day would give me a lot of time to think, to remember, and to work on figuring out what my place is in this life. I don't have a clue. But I keep searching.


Fuji Mountain, OR. Stole this pic off the web, one of the
most spectacular views I've ever seen. Awesome!

The race went off in the darkness at 5:00 as advertised. Since we started going up after only a couple hundred feet of running there wasn't much sense of urgency - not by me anyway. I was running this strictly as a training race, I wasn't out to kill myself. So we climbed, meandered through some single track, and descended. The weather was perfect, everyone was in the usual early race good mood. Daylight came, we ditched our lights. Not much excitement until we started the climb to Fuji Mountain. Being early in the race I tried to go slower than I normally could, power walked anything uphill, and kept my breathing in control. It was a pretty easy climb, but was completely surprised by what I saw at the top. I don't know if words could describe it, but the peak of this mountain's views were simply stunning. You could see for miles and miles and miles, and this was a perfectly clear day. How I wish I wasn't in a race so I could take it in for a while. As it was I did pause here for an extended second or two - I had to. This view deserved to be looked at, by ignoring it was to create a sin against mother nature herself. I stayed for at least a minute. Then was sent on my way by the race photographers whom reminded me I was in a race.

I descended quickly passing numerous runners. Seems like I am a pretty good descender in the technical stuff. I never really gave it much though, but since I passed so many I must be OK as I didn't once fall on my face. After the descent this was the first time I really got to run alone for a while. I tried to take everything in. My thoughts were drifting back to my brother and the day of his accident. It's really hard to believe he has been gone for so many years. Then I trip over a rock and I'm thrust right back into the race. This will be pretty much the story of my day. It's amazing that I never did fall down. I ran with a couple girls for a while, but wasn't really sure who they were. I think one of them was top 10 at Western this year though, that's a pretty impressive accomplishment. Eventually I made it to aid station # whatever at mile 27 and saw Gabby (Tia Gabrilita) there, she is such a cool girl and we caught up on each other's running for a little bit. I congratulated her on her 100 finish in Wyoming a month or two before. We talked briefly about p2p, it was great to see her again. This was the heaven and hell aid station, and everyone was dressed as an angel, wayyyy cool there was a themed aid station somewhere in the middle of the mountains.
Miles 27 to 44 were pretty uneventful. I kept myself running really mellow and made sure I took S!caps and monitored my caloric intake as best I could. I did another climb that went fairly well, my legs were still quite responsive and my stomach was doing well. I got back to the heaven and hell aid station, this time everyone was dressed as a devil, and got to see Gabby again. We chatted a few more minutes, I told her I would buy her a beer in Ashland, she got pretty excited about It and then off I went. At this point there is only 17.5 miles to run, and one climb that I've been hearing about from various people all day. I was really looking forward to this climb as my legs were ready to wake up, it was time to do some running.
Maiden Peak - our final climb of the day! This
was a really fun climb, plus I was feeling good.
I let the legs go on the descent following the Twins (love that name!). Everything was feeling super good and I was having so much fun. The the climb to Maiden Peak. It started off mellow enough, and I was able to run most of the incline. Everyone was telling me that it was about 3000 feet in 4 miles, so I was ready for the motherfucker! Bring it on you stupid pussy of a hill. And I marched right up that thing pretty damn well. Every once in a while it would get steeper and I would have to switch to powerwalking. The grade stayed mellow but slowly but surely as progress was made up, the trail got steeper. Eventually I was in full power walk mode. Those old bastards at the mall ain't got nothing on me. I put my head down and just concentrated on walking as fast as I could up the mountain. My breathing was good, the legs were still responsive, and I was having a shit load of fun. I kept passing people, some looked haggard, some still looked OK, but I was feeling super good so I just kept charging. Later I learned I had the 7th fastest climb of the race up this mountain, what a huge improvement over the last climb of White River (Sun Top). My fitness was coming along!
While moving up this climb is the first time I actually tried to figure out what my finishing time was going to be. The goal at the beginning of the day was the day was to run 13 hours or so and stay mellow, but the legs being as responsive as they were I just had to go. I was thinking sub 13 should be easily attainable. Just like you never turn down a tailwind on the bike, you never turn down the legs when they want to run in a race. Once over the top I was thrust into some hugely technical trail that was basically a free fall. We lost about 1000 feet in the first mile, it was full of huge rocks, small rocks, stumps, short drops, switch backs, and sometimes everything all at once. Then it mellowed and I just put my head down and ran. It is so nice and comforting to know that 54 miles into a race I can still run sub 7 minute mile pace.
I got to the final aid station at mile 55 and the ladies there were incredible. All I heard was, "How are you feeling" "What can we get you?" "How about a shoulder rub?" "Do you need a sponge?" "Do you want us to wipe you down?" Seriously! These ladies were awesome! Here I am, in the middle of the mountains in the middle of nowhere - somewhere in Oregon nearly 500 miles from home - and I am being offered the full spa treatment. Amazing! Thank you ladies, your work was very helpful and much appreciated. You deserve a tip. Hell, you ladies were so nice and friendly you increased my already euphoric mood to an even bigger high.
The clock was reading 11:35, and I had 7.5 miles to go. I popped a gel and took an S!cap hoping it would be enough to get me to the finish. The biggest problem was that I expected the rest of the race to be all downhill, so when i started climbing again I was a little pissed. But the climbs weren't really that long, and I could momentum climb most of them. The trail meandered around a lake, and up and down and twisted and turned. I was starting to see more and more hikers the closer I got to the finish. Eventually someone told me that I had 4 miles to go. Crap, I need food and I really don't want to stop and eat. But I also didn't want to bonk when my legs were still pretty good. I forced myself to stop and pop one more gel to get me to the finish. It took me a while to get the stupid ass thing out of my camelbak as my shoulders and arms were losing flexibility. But I did, and I had 33 minutes left to sneak under 12:40. I was just hoping the trail was flat or downhill, but no such luck as I rounded a corner and had to go up and down some more rollers. The trail was also pretty technical in places. Eventually I made it to a clearing and I could see a parking lot to my left through the trees, then it opened up a little bit more and I could see a chairlift. I knew I wasn't going to go sub 12:40 so I didn't really bother going all out. But in the last 200 or so yards I did notice I could squeak under 12:41 if I kicked, relatively anyway. I elevated the pace one more time and barely made it with a 12:40:59. Sweet, I never get the 59 without going over.
Once finished the RD came over to check on me and make sure I wasn't about to collapse. He joked with me a bit as he could see I was still doing really well, and I quickly thanked him and told him how much fun I had. Seriously, what a great day on the trails. The views were spectacular, the people were friendly and helpful, the BBQ was tasty, and I got to stay inside my thoughts all day long and heal just a little bit more. What a perfect day!
Then the drive home, man that sucks. I left the venue at 7:00 or 7:15 or 7:30, I really don't know. It sucked. I sent me texts on my race to my friends, and tried to zone out without falling asleep. Funny thing was I was wide awake and still feeling great. It would have been a great time to hang out at the venue and have a couple beers with the other runners, but time just didn't permit. I was driving pretty slow though, and had to stop and go to the bathroom a few times too many, needed some salty food. I made it back to Washington at about 11:15, drove a little bit more and then fell into a fitful sleep where I woke up nearly every hour. I was still ready to party or something. Yea, or something is more like it. I was in full chill mode. Eventually I was fully awake at about 4:00, but just sat in the car and stared out the window for another hour. I knew once I got home it was going to be a long day. But I missed the kids a lot, so I forced myself to move. Once home I was instantly thrust into kid duty, and somehow made it through the day without falling asleep. Good times - ya gotta love the trails.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pre-race Waldo

I'm not sure what the hell goes on in my head, I'm just a passenger along for the ride. But every week that is race week it sure seems like I never get sleep. And then for the Waldo 100K I resigned myself to sleeping in the car at the start which is probably stupid also. Hopefully I'm not setting myself up for too much failure.

This is a perfect day for me to be alone with my thoughts in the mountains. I am so looking forward to having a day where I can feel sorry for myself, feel sorry for my parents, and most of all feel sorry for my brother who would have turned 41 on this day. It's so hard to believe that it has been 17 years since you left us, but I can still hear your voice, I can still see your smile, and I still have hundreds of memories of us growing up together. I miss you everyday brother, and I hope you will bring me strength to make it through this day - and the common sense to run it easy also. And please keep the stupid cougars and bears away from me too please - I hate those things. I miss you so much...what I wouldn't give to see you one more time...damn this is still so hard.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Where's Waldo rev-up

I'm not sure about this race for 3 reasons:

1) The guy that won it last year suffered from renal kidney failure after the race
2) Some dude from Texas had an encounter with a bear
3) They sent me a map in the mail and told me to carry it and be able to take care of myself in the mountains. Hell, I can barely take care of myself at home.

Should be a fun run though.

Friday, August 6, 2010

White River 50


Scratch another one off the list on my admittedly retarded quest to finish a 100. When I get to the end of this run I seriously wish today was the day I ran my hundred. I had all the bases covered. Stomach was good. Pace was perfect. But again, like a teenager's first time I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's how it all went down, and up.

Saturday morning rolls around and I look at the clock. It's 1:20 am. WTF? I flip and flop, repeat, lie still, roll, fluff pillows, lie still, flip, stretch, flop, look at clock, 1:35 am. Turn on the light. Start reading. Damn this book is good. I'm 75% of the way through an 1100 page book, I'm thoroughly engrossed in the story. Look at clock again, 3:05 am. Crap. I might as well get up. Eat some food. Load truck. Music on. Drive. Holy Crap it is taking forever to get there. I used to love taking road trips - I looked forward to them every weekend when I was racing motocross, then running X-C in college, then racing various forms of bicycles. But the older I get the less I enjoy driving down a road for hours at a time with the music up loud and my thoughts on autopilot. Maybe it's because I have so little free time and I'm always in a rush to move from one task to the next that now I forgot to enjoy the freedom of driving. Who knows? Maybe it's because the clock is always ticking. Examples, " Mike what time are you going to get home from this run?" "What time are you going to be here?" "How long are you running?" "Are you going to be able to do this?" And on and on and on. Everything is scheduled nowadays. I never used to schedule anything outside of work or school. I hate schedules. Schedules suck. How much fun is it to constantly plan your life? What ever happened to spontaneity? I used to live by that all the time. Now I long for the days of years past.

I show up at the race site at about 530, and find a place to park, get my number and then hang out. What else is there to do before the race starts? Not much. I walk around, go for a little run to loosen the body up, all the joints seem to be working OK. Nothing else to do but wait.
Race time and I'm ready to go. I decided not to use the GPS as it probably wouldn't be working all that great in the mountains and switchbacks. I'm going old school. 50 milers are pretty easy to figure out on pacing anyway, just start easy and keep going. Not too bad of a plan. The race starts pretty mellow, we run down a gravel road for a short while before we get into the trails. I recognize the area from racing the mountain bike here the year before, or 2 years ago. It must have been 2008. Yep, that's it. I won too. First place was beer. Gotta love mountain bike races. We cruise along, chatting about nothing, no sense of hurry really, it's going to be a long day even on the best of days. After the aid station we turn and slowly the trail starts heading up…I knew this was supposed to be a 9 mile climb, so I would run the easy stuff and if it got real steep switch to power walking as it's pretty much the same speed as running anyway. Although this climb was long, it was really pretty mellow and enjoyable - not steep and brutal like the Tiger Mountain climbs of training.



Finally I get to the top of the ridge, only a couple miles to go before the turnaround, and I start to see the leaders hauling ass the other way. Dakota Jones and Anton Kupricka are setting the early pace, and are already out front by a good amount. As I get closer to the turnaround I see more people I recognize from most of the other local ultras. I see Glen at the turnaround and after filling the camelback I quickly catch up to him. Every time I try to get a drink though nothing is coming out. I stop and squeeze the bladder and I get a mouthful, so I start going again and when I try to drink again…nothing. I squeeze again and get another mouthful. WTF? I don't really want to mess around with this too much, so I get back to running again. The trail is starting to fall away in a gentle descent with a few ups to mix things up…perfect for covering distance with minimal effort. When I go to drink again…Fuck! Nothing. So I pop the end cap off…and when I hold the tube down water is flowing nicely…when I put it to my mouth the flow stops. Being the Po-LOCK that I am I can't figure it out until someone runs by me and says that my hose is kinked. Duh! That makes perfect sense. What an idiot I am. Oh well, I fix it and onward I run.

Heading back against traffic is annoying as hell. I was under the impression that people running downhill, or ones that are ahead in the race have the right of way. Whenever someone came running at me I got off the trail and made sure I didn't impede their progress. But as I was running down I think maybe 3 people moved out of the 100+ runners I passed. I was seriously getting pissed. Does the running etiquette not extend past the 6000 foot mark? I don't get it.
Eventually I make it to the 22 mile aid station and know I have about 5 miles of mostly downhill to the next one, so it's time to move and cover some ground. I'm guessing I'm averaging about 7 minutes a mile here, the trail is technical in places and there are quite a few switch backs so you can't really let the legs out all the way.

Mile 27 aid station and I stop and get some food and notice Justin Angle is working there - I haven't seen him since I ran with him @ Tiger in early April. I say a quick hi and hurry and take off, and then about a mile later realize I forgot to fill my camelbak. Another dumbass move and it's starting to get hot. Oh well, it must have about 50 ounces in it and I didn't' drink much on the descent. But I am getting thirsty so I start to drink and a couple miles later wonder if I'll have enough water on the climb to the next aid station. Luckily we pass a stream of running water and I scoop some up in the camelback. I don't have my filter with me but figure I'll be fine through the race anyway before anything hits me if it does at all. Climbing Sun Top is a lot steeper than the climb to Corral Pass. It's harder to run up this one so I just try to cover ground as best as I can. Finally I make it to the next aid station, dump the water out of the camelback and fill up on some more - also pop some more S Caps and continue the climb. The next part of the climb isn't too bad as there is some downhill mixed in, my legs feel great on the downhill and I'm flying on that stuff, I try and carry my momentum up as best as I can and then switch to power walking. The views here are simply amazing - and I'm glad it is such a clear day to take it all in. I love this trail stuff. There really isn't any other way to experience the Cascade Mountains.

Finally - I see Glen Tachiyama snapping pictures and realize I made it to the top. Whew. I venture into the aid station, suck down a bunch of mountain dew, fill the camelbak, pop an S!cap and I'm off once again. This is by far the easiest and fast section of the course. I quickly up the pace and start flying by people. If the mile markers on the side of the road are correct I'm running about 6:30 per mile. But after 3 miles there is some rumbly in my tummy. I stop and puke up all the mountain dew and then ease back into 6:30 per mile. Even with stopping to puke and going to the bathroom I still cover the 6.4 miles in 48:00 minutes, but that only leaves me with 56 minutes or so to break 9 hours.

When I get to the last aid station I try not to waste too much time…I probably take about 60-90 seconds at the most and get out of there. I'm still running pretty decent, but I'm not real sure that I can cover the last 6.6 or so miles in 55 minutes or less. I'm probably running about 9:30's or so at this point, not horrible, but this definitely isn't going to get the job done. The leg turnover is good on the flat technical parts of the trail, but once the trail tilts skyward I slow or power walk again. I run up a couple of the smaller hills, but I'm not exactly flying over them now. Oh well, compared to the last 50 I ran I'm still moving pretty well. Eventually I make it out of the single-track and see a sign that says the finish is only 4/10ths of a mile away. My watch just turned to 9:06 so that leaves me with a little bit of breathing room to at least go sub-9:10. This wasn't my primary goal, but overall I covered ground pretty well for the day. I know I'm still gaining strength and experience, and next year's goal time will be quite a bit more ambitious.

Once I got to the finish line Scott the RD gave me a bottle of ice cold water and made sure I was OK. Then I sat under a tree for a bit and drank some water. I didn't feel too bad but I wasn't quite ready to run around yet. Eventually I made my way to my truck, changed my shirt and then went and had some BBQ. This really hit the spot as I was pretty darn hungry. Afterwards I talked with Glen and his wife and then drove on home. I can't wait to run this race again.





Thursday, July 29, 2010

White River


White River is this weekend. Sometimes so many things are going on with the kids, trying to fit in runs, trying to get over injuries, trying to keep the wife happy, etc... it seems like these races appear out of nowhere. I had a goal of going sub-9:00 here before I got injured, but now I'll probably adjust the goal as the day goes on. I'm just hoping the calf feels good all day - and of course enjoy the day and see some of the locals. I haven't done a race in WA in a couple months, so it will be nice to wake up on race morning in my own bed.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Progress

I ran 4.4 miles last night and the calf was a lot better. Lots of massages have helped, and I'm just trying to be really patient. Running last night felt so good, but mentally it was a tough week going from 70+ miles a week average to a whopping 11 miles. I tend to be a person who goes all out or not at all, so this is really a test of discipline. I just need to be focused on the big prizes:
White River
Waldo
P to P

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Broke?

Calf muscle is super tight. Had deep tissue massage which helped, but tried to run a tiny bit on the treadmill last night and it was still a little bit tighter than I liked. Maybe I'll get some more DT therapy today and see what happens. Maybe go rollerblading for a long time in lieu of a run. This is a pretty minor deal compared to things that have happened in the past to me, so this should fix itself pretty quickly - I hope. 4 out of my 5 last weeks were over 70 miles, so I guess it's not much of a surprise something happened.

Friday, July 9, 2010

UltraChick Pic o Week - # 6


from the Massanutten 100, I think that's what it's called anyhoo. Great picture. Looks like the early morning after running through the night, still happy and still moving forward, excited and knowing she is going to make it to the finish. I still have yet to figure it out.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tiger 12 summits run

Finally I got to run 12 Summits! Over 10K of climbing and approximately 35 miles. I feel like Sir Edmund Hilary. I did it! I did it! We never got lost once. It was awesome. Oh yea, Bill H was our guide. But still, we never got lost. Woohoo! Ha ha!

We started at 5:00 am and it was still pretty dark in the woods. Once we started climbing Bill quickly showed us how it was done as he pulled away from Glen and I. The rest of the day pretty much went like that. Run flat or downhill, stay with Bill, run steep long climb, try to keep Bill in sight. Most of the time I could still see him, although he was becoming smaller and smaller as he disappeared up the slopes. Him running up Middle Tiger was impressive, that was a tough climb as I struggled to power hike it.

Highlights:We heard a bear. We didn't see him though. This was somewhere between Summit # 2 and # 1.
I got a stick in my shin descending East Tiger and it bled pretty good. Made me feel and look tough.
I ate shit on the easiest part of the trail cuz I was running with my head up my ass. Easy lesson learned.
Water filters worked well, no one got sick. I drank about 210 oz. during the 6 1/2 hours of running.
Almost bonked, ate and recovered. Bill bonked hard with 4 - 5 miles left. Bummer for him, as it did slow him down.
I was still running strong at end of run, although my climbing legs kind of sucked all day. Maybe I need to eat more donuts?
Glen ran at his own pace all day, I barely saw him. Still, he only finished about 10 minutes behind us.
Thanks Bill for waiting for me , I know you could have crushed me at any time and disappeared. Hopefully you still got the workout in you wanted.

Lowlights.
Weather was wet and foggy. No view from the top.
Trails are grown in a little bit, hard to see in some places.
I suffered and dug deep on the climbs and was still pretty slow.
The run had to end.
My recovery was horrible.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tipping Point


I have reached my tipping point. I am completely wore out right now. I am learning that you cannot run 80 miles per week on 5 hours of sleep per night. It is just way too hard, too exhausting, too effin' impossible for me. I keep trying to tell myself that it is good training for running 100's…but that is a bunch of crap. It cannot be good to constantly be exhausted and not recover completely from run to run. My legs feel recovered, but the rest of me is a mess. If I had more hair on top of my bald and ugly head I would look like a disheveled crack head. But with a balding buzz cut and a cap I can hide my weariness easy enough. The really weird thing about all of this is my legs have been feeling incredible lately - no matter what I throw at them they respond beautifully - elevation, speed (relative), long descents, and I'm good. Is it because I have been doing Yoga, or what? I do Yoga and stretching about 3 1/2 hours per week, which is pretty good sounding, but I don't know. There just comes a point where something has to give. I'm at that point now. With chores around the house, kids to take to the park, sports, swim lessons, speech therapy, neighborhood parties I am just spread so thin. Yea, my wife does pout up with a lot of this crap - me running till 10:30 at night, being gone every weekend morning, but I do all that stuff at the inconvenient times to make life easier on the home front. I always think it would be easier if two athletic people were married to one another - she doesn't really think so (I do not say this to her - just think it). She has no idea what it's like to get up at 4 am on a Saturday to run 30+ miles with 7-11K of elevation. It is my choice, but I've been doing this type of stuff for so long that there really isn't an option of not doing it. It is part of who I am, my identity. It would be nice if I could get out one day per week at a time that allows me to get sleep, but it never happens. Running is just too flexible. Maybe I should just skip Yoga and then I would get an evening of running in that would allow me to get almost 7 hours of sleep.


Friday, June 18, 2010

UltraChick Pic o Week - # 5

Wide eyed in the darkness in the middle of nowhere - this is what is so cool about running ultras.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Kettle Moraine 100

Where do I start with this one? This was sort of a last minute thing that I threw together 3 weeks before race day. I thought for sure that I was going to be good to go with the build up I had. A solid 50 mile race and a 65 mile run 3 weeks before race day. Surely I was on par to run a solid 100 mile race. Well, not quite, it seemed that Ultrarunning always throws you a surprise or 2.

I left Seattle at 11:59 p.m. Thursday night - arriving in Milwaukee at 5:30 Friday morning. The red eye flight sucks, and I think I only slept about 25 minutes of the flight. Got the rental car, plugged in the GPS and I was off to find some food. Luckily for me I found a Perkins - the best place I know for pancakes - and proceeded to scarf a bunch of those down. If I have one complaint about living in the Seattle area it's that there isn't any Perkins restaurants this side of the mountains. So when I do have the opportunity to eat there, I get pretty excited. I did eye the ├ęclair's and thought about it, but decided I needed to finish a 100 before I can eat a donut. Plus I lost some weight thanks to better eating choices. Although I genrally believe donuts are a great choice.

After breakfast I drove into Whitewater and got some snacks from the local grocery store. I couldn't help but notice how cheap everything was compared to home. Man, if I could only find a job that paid any amount of money away from Seattle I would love to leave. Wisconsin was really nice also, green, lots of open space, miles and miles of running trails, XC ski trails, an affordable cost of living in terms of housing and groceries, clean air, little traffic - a pretty nice little place. Way too many Wal-Marts though! Anyhoo, I then took a nap in the parking lot for an hour and a half, drove to a local bike shop, talked to the owner about bikes and riding (what else?), and then made my way over to the hotel about noon. The cute little college girl made me feel old that checked me into my room. Maybe it is because the older I get the younger the kids look, and this one looked about 12. Getting old sucks, but at least I still don't feel any older, and try not to act my age much either - which is good or bad depending on perspective. I asked her if there was anything to do in the town. She laughed and replied without any hesitation, "No." She smiled, laughed and added, "seriously, there is nothing to do in this town." Well, at least I had my room and could take a shower and get some things ready for the run the next day.

4 o'clock rolls around and I decide to make my way to the check-in to pick up my race packet. I was hoping to get there a little bit late and not have to wait in line forever. So I show up at 5 and notice the line is super long. So much for my brilliant plan to avoid the long line. I find a place to park the car, walk over to the line and wait. The sun is out in full force, it's over 80 degrees, and of course the direct sunlight makes it feel much warmer. If the race is like this most of us will wilt in the sunshine. I'm not enjoying my time sitting in the sun, and to make matters worse I am stuck between 2 groups of people having a conversation. I keep trying to move away from the middle of it, but I feel boxed in. I feel like I crashed someone's family reunion by accident- awkward!

Dinner time. I roll into downtown Whitewater, yes it does have a downtown, and find a place to eat some pasta. Chow that down, run to the grocery store to get some last minute food ideas for the run, then back to the room to pack the drop bags.

Drop bags are a pain to pack for the long races. For 50 milers I can carry some bars, some gels, and eat a couple things at the aid stations and I will be good. But for the longer stuff it is really hard to guess what I will need or want to consume 14,15, or 16 hours into a run. I can never predict what will taste good, what will stay down, etc. The weather was predicted to be warm, which for me makes keeping things down a little harder, so I tried to think of something that I can always eat. Pop tarts, cookies, bananas, and powerbars seem to usually do the trick.

8:00 - lights out, and since I only slept about 90 minutes the night before I fell asleep after only about 15 minutes of reading the kindle. 4:00 - I'm awake. I take a shower, eat some fruit and some sort of organic bar, I can't remember what it's called. Seriously, the market is so saturated with energy, nutrition, or whatever they market it as bars it's hard to remember what I'm eating half the time, or if I even like it. As long as it contains what the wrapping says it should suffice as a breakfast.
start of 2010 Kettle 100. Bill Thom photo. I'm in the middle
with orange shirt and black hat.

The race start is about 10 minutes from the hotel, no big rush to get there. I pull in at about 530 and take my drop bags over to their respective places for transport. The weather is pretty decent, about 60 and cloudy. I'm hoping this means the rain isn't going to start too early. 6:00 a.m. comes and we're off. No big hurry to get the race started as I have all day.

The race starts on some double track that twists and turns, goes up and down, and every so often offers a nice view off a valley of some sorts. It is really green. Not evergreen like Washington, but a softer green that is made up of grasses, trees, and poison ivy looking bushes. It looks really pretty though. I start off slow, really slow. I don't even care if I walk or run as long as I keep moving forward. I'm not much of a talker while running, so I kind of keep to myself and zone out, most of the time ignoring other people's exuberant early morning conversation of past race triumphs and let downs, work, families, or whatever else people talk about while running. I'm not a morning person at all - although I really like to get up early - just don't talk to me too soon.

We meander through the trails, get to the first aid station at mile 5 in about 58 minutes. I didn't even start a stop watch for this, so all times are haphazardly guessed and barely paid attention to. As long as I didn't pass 50 miles in under 10 hours I figure I would be good. Running really slow likes this seems to tire my legs out though. I am not used to jogging 12 minute miles, even while running in the mountains I don't like to go this slow. I figure my legs will eventually loosen up though. I have lots of time and the weather is still good.

Coming close to the Bluff aid station at mile 7.5 there are pink flamingoes lining the course. Being a Polish dude originally from Buffalo that makes me feel right at home. I eat some banana and take a couple drinks of water and move on. Shortly after the aid station I hear this huge noise as a large animal close by is running through the trees. The first thing I think is BEAR (I do run in the NW) as surely a deer doesn't move this clumsily through the woods. And unless a cougar is in pursuit of something I wouldn't think it would make this much noise either. I slow to see how close people are and as I do I see this huge ass deer busting through the woods. It had to be one of the largest deer I've seen that doesn't pull a sled. Whew! I always think it is going to be some rapidly moving carnivorous animal that will have nothing on its mind except to take a large chunk out of my leg, ass, or throat. Moving on….

The next 8 or so miles were some nice single-track. Nothing flat for long at all. I don't think I ran much more than a mile at a time before it was time to do some serious power walking, most time much less. It was nice to break the day up. I talked to some girl from Boulder for a little while. I am jealous of pretty much anyone that lives there. Great town. Too bad I'll never be able to afford it. Talked to another dude from MO- but he started a long diatribe about work - so I faked having to go to the bathroom to get away from that subject. I ran the next 15 or so miles to Scuppermong alone with my thoughts. Sometimes it's really nice to run this way. I can think about whatever I want, enjoy the sights, think of the things I've done in my life that led me to the current path I'm on. I mean it. If I really stop and think about all the details that led me to the middle of the woods in Wisconsin on this particular day it's kind of cool. The weather is really warm and humid, later I would learn the temperature was above 80 and the humidity was high.

After Scuppermong, which is somewhere between 31 and 32 miles we turn around and retrace our steps to the start. The first 10 or so miles aren't so bad, a slow drizzle starts but is welcome to deplete the humidity and offer some cooling. But this drizzle doesn't last long. Instead the skies slowly open up and it starts pouring buckets of rain. The drops are so large and hitting the surrounding leaves with such force the noise is astounding. The single track quickly turns into a river. The water is just hauling ass down the hills. The rain lets up for a second, only for the skies to once again unleash their force. And then a flash of lighting. Boom! Followed by ferocious thunder. The rain is relentless.

I make it to Emma Carlin aid station at Mile 47 in just over 10 hours, which is perfectly on my schedule of going slow. The rain now is just a constant downpour. There is standing water at least 12" inches deep in many places with no way around it. No choice is given but to wade through these mini lakes. The trails are so slick that on the hills I need to walk on my heels in order to maintain traction. Going downhill is analogous to skiing in that I can stand, bend my knees, lean a bit forward, and slide down the hill on my feet while trying not to fall on my face. This is nothing short of madness. Why did I take time from my family to do this? I wonder. I don't have an answer. But I still can't explain the allure of running either.

My spirits are still pretty decent though. From miles 48 to the Bluff aid station at 58 I feel pretty good. I make myself take an extended walk break, force some calories and salt tablets down, and continue to drink. My stomach is having a hard time accepting whatever I offer it though. After a few dry heaves, and a minor upchuck of what I assume is Nuun I stabilize and work my way back to Nordic at 63 + miles. I run and walk all the hills and hit the turnaround and find my drop bag.

Nordic - mile 63 and I see Timo the RD out greeting the runners and checking on them as they approach. I don't know this guy at all, but the effort he put into the race and his presence throughout the day is something that I really appreciated. In a sport like ultrarunning, with almost no fanfare, money, or fame it is great to see someone so selfless to allow people like me compete and feel the camaraderie from this wonderful sport. It is still raining like it only can in the midwest. Or maybe Florida.

I change my shoes. Grab my stuff. And head out. Shortly after this it turns really bad. It is now almost dark, but with this darkness brings a new sense of adventure (or so I tell myself). I need to eat though and try some Powerbar. I take a nibble and start dry heaving. I continue to walk. Legs, mind, and body are inexplicably fatigued horribly right now. I just want to lie down and sleep. I stop about 20 minutes later and start throwing up. Loud, wretched heaves are coming from deep within me. I haven't thrown up like this since I last got hammered in the college years, and at least I knew why that happened. I walk some more. It takes me about 25 minutes to cover the first mile from the aid station to mile 65 or so.

I grab the cell phone and try to do the virtual pacer thing. I'm really starting to feel out of it. Almost delirious. I know I need to get calories in me, but my stomach won't allow it. The rain is still coming straight down and I'm starting to get really cold despite the added clothes and rain poncho I'm wearing. I talk to my mom for a bit and she does her best to keep me positive and moving forward, but I am now freefalling fast. I hang up and walk a little bit more. I stop and sit on the side of the trail. A couple people pass and ask if I'm still conscious. Am I? I think so. All I can think of is some old Isaac Asimov story where some dude is stuck in a traffic jam in a tunnel - which is his hell. Is this mine? Will I make it out of here? I don't know.

I've never seen such a waterlogged hand before. This is
mine back at the rental car.




I quickly go through the events of the day that transpired. How did I end up like this? What mistakes were made? Surely there were many that led me to this quickly all-consuming failure. I know fitness isn't an issue. I had a great build up to this day. Although my legs weren't feeling the best they were still decent. Did taking the red eye flight screw me up? So many things are running through my mind, which in its glycogen depleted state is having a hard time processing. And I don't even want to think about the chafing issues. I bet I used more Vaseline than anyone. Time for something new. I walk another mile and stop. It has taken me well over an hour to cover 2 miles. I quickly realize that I can't go on any more. Without being able to eat, and barely drink my event is done. Of course I am disappointed. I turn around and start the 2+ mile walk back. There is nothing left to be done. Game over.

Afterword….

As I think about this race of course I'm disappointed that I DNF'd another 100. But I also know that I left everything out there on the course. I gave it everything I had. I fought as hard as I could and struggled through more misery than I should have. I just didn't have it on this day. It's a 100 miles. I'm still learning. I will finish one soon. I know that. I am not looking backwards anymore but forwards to the next one. I will adjust my training a little bit more. I will shed a few more pounds, and I know I will be successful. Running 100 miles is a journey, and it's not an easy one. But with persistence and learning from each mistake I will see it through to the end. I can't give up now.





Flying home a tad disappointed. I'll be back.











Thursday, May 27, 2010

One Week to Kettle Moraine 100

One week to Kettle Moraine 100. I am a lot more relaxed then I was for Rocky Raccoon. Training gives one confidence, and right now I have an abundance of both confidence and training. I'm not going to win, I might not even break the top 20, but that's not my goal. I just want to finish one of these things. And then I when I run Rocky Raccoon next year I can run for a fast time. But that's getting ahead of myself. Training has been going well considering I didn't know I was going to be training for another 100 mile race, but the stuff I was running anyway happened to be a perfect lead in to this race. I did a solid 50 mile race, and also a 65 mile run where it got somewhat warm 3 weeks before the scheduled 100. As long as I run smart and within myself I got it.

I haven't talked to that many people that have done this race. Given that it's almost 2000 miles away, and there are numerous 100 mile races between here and there, it's not surprising. From what I've read and heard this is a pretty tough course - deceptively hard. There are no huge mountainous climbs which is good, but there are numerous short climbs. Lots of blogs call them PUDS (pointless ups and downs) which after a while will suck your energy and strength. Another factor that could be tough is the heat, it has been hot there, and there are parts of the course where there is no shade, so the summershine could be brutal once the temperatures reach 80. Patience will be key to this race. I have to make sure I don't wear myself out in the heat. Keep tabs on my nutrition. And then still hope for a little bit of luck.

It's going to be a quick trip. I'm taking a red eye flight out of Seattle on the Thursday before the race, get in Friday morning. I have a hotel in Whitewater for Friday and Saturday, and then I'll have to catch a late Sunday evening flight back to Seattle. I don't think I'll be going to work on Monday. It will be fun I'm sure. There is a slight chance one of my friends from Minnesota will be able to show up and pace me for the last 20+ miles which would be awesome. I'm really looking forward to this, and getting that monkey off my back.

Monday, May 24, 2010

UltraChick Pic o Week - # 4

Miss Grunt - Capitol Forest 50

This girl is a bitch. A little rough around the edges - not exactly a smooth demeanor. The only good thing I have to say about her is I didn't have to put up with her too long.

(I would love to descend her on a full suspension mountain bike though!)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

12 hours of Redmond

Nice wide smooth trails. It felt like running on the roads for
12 hours. The shade was welcome as it was the 1st warm day
of the year.


When I first signed up for this race, my goal was to run 70 miles. But having decided to run the Kettle Moraine 100 just 3 weeks after I scaled back the goal a little bit. I wanted to run the whole day comfortably, and if I felt like I was pushing myself too far I wanted to be able to scale back and take it easy. I wasn't really paying much attention to how I was doing in the race until maybe 8 hours in, and I think at that point I was in 7th or 8th place in my age group. It was fun to watch the race transpire, but I was able to stick to the plan and not get sucked into it.

I started nice and easy. And had to listen to a couple girls talk about work for the first lap. That kind of sucked. But eventually we got separated enough that I didn't have to listen to work stuff. I settled into a nice easy pace for another lap or 2. I eventually ran with Gary Vale from Beaverton for a while. We talked about how running fast marathons has almost nothing to do with potential in ultras - he was a 2:51 marathoner though - still sounds impressive to me. Although my goals have switched to someday breaking 3 hours in the marathon to breaking 4 hours in a 50K - which on the right course isn't that hard. We talked about running, blah blah blah, what else do you talk about while running? Well, unless you're Glen and I that the more miles we run together the more our conversations regress into adolescent banter. But I didn't know Gary that well so certainly didn't want to go there. He's a cool dude and is running the Pine to Palm 100 or whateverthehellitscalled in September. I hope I run into him then.

Glen came out and pace for the last 41 miles or so. That was pretty cool of him. My cheap ass camelback sprung a leak and I had to carry bottle for the last 8 hours - lame. It got pretty hot also. I was consuming about 40 ounces per hour and still had to chug a bunch of water after the 5th or 6th lap to make up for some drinking deficiencies. The salt tablets were going down pretty well also, which is not always the case. Anyhoo - back to Gen. He hept singing, "Im a maniac, maniac" from the movie Flashdance. That's what I get for teasing him about the marathon maniacs. And when he first got there he was running a little bit too fast for me - maybe some payback. I am always scared of my 4 and 5th hours into a run, as it's usually when I feel best and it becomes too easy to increase the pace - only to get bit in the ass by this later. I stayed behind him hoping that once he got up there in mileage he would not pull me quite so hard. After 8 or 9 hours of running I was still feeling good, and we were still running faster laps than we thought we should. But it all worked out really well in the end. Glen and I of course regressed into our own little idiotic conversations of kids, wives, running and burp and fart and guy jokes. Good times. Glen even got to flex a couple times for the cameras of the race. I kept forgetting what lap I was on and luckily Glen could still count for me, which was helpful. The only negative spot I had in the race was after eating a chocolate Power Bar - I don't like those things on the best of days. But I knew I had to eat something, so I was forced to consume it. After dry heaving a little bit, and drinking Heave (Heed) to wash it down my stomach eventually settled. Heed is disgusting. They have that at Kettle Moraine so hopefully they will have Nuun also. At least I can carry Nuun easy enough. I love that stuff. Eventually I finished my 11th lap, and they scorers said something to the effect that I have 90 minutes to run the last one. I was still feeling OK, so I was confident enough to do it. Onward we ran, my appetite was gone though.

Monday, May 17, 2010

UltraChick Pic o Week - # 3

I have no idea who this is, or where this is. But what a beautiful little spot on earth she found. Who wouldn't want to run here?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thrive diet

Am I really getting sucked into this? I don't know. But anything that helps combat the fatness and apathy of America I'm all for - I'm not real convinced than anyone will read this book unless they are already pursuing athletic endeavors. I can't see me every going completely vegan, but I know there is a lot of room for improvement in my diet. My snacks today consisted of cucumber, pineapple, banana, red bell pepper, and granola. Yea, the granola is most likely not under the "Thrive" plan. But neither was the ice cream sandwich I ate yesterday.

I ran a whole 12 miles this week. Woohoo. Tomorrow @ Redmond should be 65+ though, so I should end up with over 80 this week after Sunday. I'm only 3 weeks from KM100 - so I don't want to kill myself (before it's time to kill myself).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ketttle Moraine 100


I signed up and it's only 3 1/2 weeks away. What the hell am I thinking. My training is in a fairly good spot right now though. I've read that this course is tougher than the statistics say, but 12,000 feet of elevation gain is nothing to sneeze at. I recently ran a 50 miler w/ 6000 feet in 8:34, and I could still move at the end, but I was definitely tired. Now I just have to double it to get the proverbial monkey off my back.

Monday, May 10, 2010

UltraChick Pic o Week - # 2

Not sure who this is, but look at those trails! That looks so awesome! I guess this is from somewhere near Mt. Hood - someone emailed me this photo. Why would anyone ever choose to run roads if this option is available?

Monday, May 3, 2010

UltraChickPic o Week - # 1

Picture stolen from the web.

Ultrarunner chick # 1.

Fast as hell. Loves Mountain Dew. And will run the legs of just about any man alive. Has the fastest 100 mile run by a woman. Need anyone say more?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Capitol Peaks 50 Mile


These things usually take a couple days to write. And I'm learning that if I want to gleam as much as I can from each distance I need to write as much as I can remember. This may be a bit lengthy, but no one really reads this crap anyway. Hell, my parents hardly even read this junk. On to the Capitol Forest 50…

With promises of horrible traffic due to construction I decided to leave extra early. Glen got a hotel near the race start, which would have been nice, but I knew I wouldn't see the kids much on race day, and I didn't want to not see them basically 2 days in a row. His kids are teenagers - a little easier to get away from with less guilt. My goal was to bed Saturday night at 715; I figured I'd be reading the kindle for at least an hour or so before I fell asleep, but I was hoping to get 5 hours of shuteye. Of course, if you have kids you know things don't every go to plan when they are for yourself. That's just part of the adventure of having kids. I ended up getting to bed at about 815. Not really too bad as I planned on getting up at 230. But instead I woke up at 12:40, laid there for a long time, decided to start reading some more in the hope it would tire the eyes enough to get another hour or so of sleep. Next thing I know I'm another 15% through the book and it's 2:10. I might as well get up. So I jumped in the shower, checked some things on the web quickly, ate some pancakes, read some more, and the next thing I know it's almost 3:00. Crap I better go.

Turns out traffic is nonexistent all the way down. For once the on again off again rain was a benefit. I rolled into the Mima Campground at around 4:35 and as I see all the headlights walking around think to myself, "That would be smart to bring a light as it's pitch black." Oh well, I fumble through the dark like a bat chasing a firefly (or whatever eats those damn things). Then I round a corner and a tent is in full glow, so on I ventured toward the light. I got my shirt (another technical shirt, I have so many of those it would actually be nice to get a plain old cotton t-shirt), number, another free Ultrarunning magazine (sure am glad I subscribed since I get them at every race), and a couple other goodies. I sent Glen a text so we could actually see one another before the race starts. Yes, we have a crush on one another! It's puppy love. Actually, he is the only other idiot I know that will run through the mountains with me just about every weekend.

The sun came up. The race started. Off we go. 50 miles to go. 6000+ feet to climb. No hurry. Take your time. Lots of mud on the trails.
Here's my shoes after the run.

Glen's GPS said we were averaging 10:30 per mile after a couple miles, I wanted to take it easy in the beginning but that was a little slow. I didn't let it worry me too much, with all day to run I'm sure 10:30 per mile would be hard to maintain eventually. Especially with the "grunt" coming up to the top of Capitol Peak. The first few hours were pretty mellow. I just kept an easy pace, and tried to maintain my calories and fluid intake. It was a little cool so I wanted to enjoy the comfortable weather as long as it lasted. I have no idea how far into the race we were (maybe 19 or so) we pop out of this little single-track, cross a road and I see a sign that says, "Grunt trail." I heard about this. It rises about 1000 feet in less than a mile. I usually suck at power walking the climbs, but maybe it’s the company I last did it with (2 guys that have finished top 5 in mountainous 100 milers), but today I "mall walked" up it like nothing and probably passed 10 people without exerting myself. Got to the top and still felt good - which is always a relief.

I ended up running with Pam Smith, who ran 7:14 to finish 2nd at American River 50 miler 2 weeks ago, for a little bit, but after running away from her on the descent and next climb I had to get myself in check as she probably would have killed me. I ran into aid station (whatever number it was - about mile 25.5) in 4:17, let Pam go ahead of me, happy to still be feeling really good and on pace for a conservative sub 9 hour finish. Ran another mile and then hooked up with Tia Gabralita. This is perhaps one of the coolest runner chicks I ever met. I ran with her for about 7 miles or so, found out she ran with Glen earlier in the race, and just talked to her about nothing too important (different 100's mostly) as the miles floated by. I could tell by her jovial mood she was feeling good though. Each time we go to an aid station she got excited and started whoopin' it up. I let her go and all I could hear was, "C'mon Mike, get going! C'mon Mike!" And maybe at about mile 40 or so I had to bid her Adieu. Yes, she is a girl, yes, a couple years older, but this is another seriously tough and strong runner that would have me hurting in a bad way if tried to hang on too long. long. My pride is not something that I worry about 40 miles into a trail run. I'm used to getting beat by the fast chicks anyway.

I knew once I started getting close to the finish I would start seeing mile markers on the trails. Downhill and flats my turnover was still pretty good, but by mile 45 the climbs were starting to piss me off. I was walking climbs that I didn't even notice earlier in the race. I got caught by one more girl just for the helluvit. Saw someone running and he said something like 3/4 of a mile to go. I looked at my watch and it said 8:29. I knew sub 9:00 was going to be pretty easy, but thought I was going to end up 8:36. He must have been off in his estimate as I crossed the line in 8:34:20. Not too bad. I think ultrarunning is a lot like racing bikes where it takes a while to build the strength you need to complete the longer distances. I'm seeing lots of improvement so it's pretty cool when incrementally feel the the positive changes.

Next up is 12 hours at Redmond. I planned to take it easy for a week or 2, but it's hard to go from 60+ miles a week down to 30. I feel like I'm being lazy. 2 days after the 50 my legs were barely sore; I think the slower pace and softer surface is a lot easier on the limbs. 50 miles is a great distance to run; you don't really have to worry about DNF-ing and you can pretty much run the whole thing confortably. 50 miles is my new farvorite distance.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lord Hill Trail Maintenance Day

In conjunction with Earth Day my work set up a trail work party with the Washington Trails Association (WTA) at Lord Hill Park. I signed up for this as quickly as I could since it was self-serving to do trail maintenance at a place I run at so frequently. The first picture is how bas the trail was when we first showed up. The trail was getting more and more wide as people were doing their best to avoid the slop in the middle. If you stepped in the deepest gunk it was almost 10 inches deep of mud and water. And if you didn't tie your shoes tight enough there was a good chance that you wouldn't have it on anymore as you tried to step out of the slop. There were 42 people altogether and we worked on a 0.6 mile section of trail that had not seen any work performed in many years.

See Glen working? He gets free socks if he sends this picture in for the Cascade Crest 100.
This picture is about 75% of the way complete fixing the mud hole. We scraped all the crap out down to the hard pan and then put some drainage in so hopefully the water will not pool here and create another quagmire.
Here is the finished project. Yes, the trail is considerably wider, but it was already pretty wide at the mud hole. There were about 10 of these holes of slop that we fixed this day. We also fixed some eroded parts of trail where 2 trails were existing side by side - one for water to run down the hill, and one for people to avoid the water.
This was a lot of work but very rewarding. I would love to be able to work on trails more often. Washington has hundreds if not thousands of miles of trails and I'm sure there are many that require work. It was about time I gave back to the trail community since I spend nearly every weekend running trails somewhere in western Washington.




Friday, April 16, 2010

More training - and exploring

This photo is from Redmond, which was the second trail we ran after reaching the end of the Tolt Pipeline trail - then backtracking, talking to hikers, and searching we finally came upon it. I was pretty surprised to still see snow on the edge of the trail at this time of year. Although after all the snow I ran in last week at Tiger Mountain, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised about seeing a patch of snow here and there.
The day started off frosty and cool. And turned into a nice spring day. We ended up running about 26 miles - nice and easy. Glen and I are both running the Capitol 50 miler near Olympia on the 25th of April, so we didn't want to take too much out of ourselves at this point.
I had one of those days where I just felt great all day long. 10 miles in and I felt like I only ran 1/2 mile. 20 miles in and I felt like I went a mile. The legs were just so responsive all day. We picked up the pace a little bit at the end, but nothing too crazy.
I ended up running just under 70 miles this week. Glen ended up with 74 I believe. Not too shabby for a couple older suburbanites. This is a pretty good run too when both trails are tied together. None of the climbs are too difficult - pretty much everything is runnable. Zero traffic. A few horses here and there. A couple bikes. Not much mud which is either a good or bad thing - and you can refill the bottles and use real bathrooms @ the Watershed Preserve. I was surprised we didn't see anyone else running all day long. But then again when we run Tiger we can run 5-6 hours and only see 3 or 4 people running - I see that many in in 1 mile during a neighborhood run. Plus it's dirt. It's always great to run on dirt.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tiger Moutain Run in the snow


I stole this pic from the web, so that's not us. The weather was a bit more dramatic, and we were the idiots with shorts and sneakers on. But this is pretty much the view of the day - white!

Another early ass morning without much sleep. I did actually fall asleep early, but the baby woke me up about 2 minutes later. I swear, for every minute she wakes up - I'm up for an hour. I can't wait until my kids are teenagers. When my kids are older I plan on paying them back. I'll be plugging in my guitar and amp at 4:00 am and rocking out some old punk tunes to get even with the kids. I can't wait. It's going to be fun. Until then, I just try to keep moving all day long and ignore my zombified state. I was meeting Bill and Justin at 6am for a run. We were hoping to run 12 peaks or summits or whateveritscalled, but there were reports of a lot of snow up top. We wouldn't really know until we get to the top though.

I rolled in to the parking lot at about 5:57, Bill and Justin showed up about 2 minutes later. And after about 5 minutes of final adjustments we were off. It was still pretty dark as we made our way to the single-track. And then we start climbing. I was feeling like crap, but we were going uphill so I didn't notice how bad I felt (if that makes sense). Just because even if I feel good I still feel like crap on long climbs, it just gets over with quicker on better days. We climbed for a while and holy crap! Snow! I'm originally from Buffalo, NY and once ran 15 miles in -40 wind-chill, so this shouldn't be such a surprise. But it was. Maybe because I ran here a couple weeks and there was no sign of snow; in fact trail conditions were pretty good.

When we got to the clearing at the top the snow was at least 12" deep, and the wind was howling. We quickly got back into the single track and moved onto summit # 2. This climb is on a fire road and not as much fun. Luckily for me I was the slowest runner so I could go in the footsteps of Bill and Justin in front of me. Again at the top the wind was blowing fiercely - on we go to the single track. The 3rd summit is a bitch of a climb. The first time I did it a couple weeks before it completely humbled me. I kept my usual slow pace behind Bill and Justin. I was losing 20 seconds or more per climb to them, and they were having a conversation all the way up. This time up was not as bad though, and I was starting to feel better. I really need to start running this type of terrain more. After the 3rd summit it was decided to get out of the snow and head back down. It was fun running in the snow, the pillowy white stuff is great on my knees, but it also hides the rock and root hazards. We then worked our way down to the TMT trail, stopped at the spring so they could fill their bottles, and continued our run. Overall it was a great day to be outside. I really appreciate those guys putting up with me as I know they are both quite a bit faster. But I can feel my fitness improving on this terrain each time I run it. And I need to remember to tape the straps on my water bottles - they kept popping out and then I have to fiddle with them for a bit. I lost tons of time running just from messing with my bottles, what a stupid way to lose it.

We ended up running just short of 4 hours. I ended up feeling much better toward then end of the run. And Sunday I wasn't even sore at all, so that's a positive in the right direction. The first time I ran here I was hobbled for a few days afterwards. Progress. I love trails.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Weather we should run or not

The weather totally sucks. But oh well. I live in western Washington. The weather is going to suck at times. It's a fact. But we generally don't get a ton of snow. So what if I am going to run 6-7 hours in the snow tomorrow, or rain, or snow at the top. It will be an epic day of running in the woods. 34 miles and over 21,000 feet of elevation change will make for a fun day no matter what. At least I shouldn't (repeat - shouldn't) run out of water. Osmosis will work also. Or I can just eat the snow at the top.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I need to run more trails

I really need to start running more trails. It is just so hard to get there during the week. Most of the time I don't get out until almost 730, and if I drive the 15 minutes to the trails it will be obviously later. There are some trails I can run near the house, but they are just a 1/2 mile here, 1/4 mile there, maybe 1 mile here again. Not exactly the tight singletrack I enjoy the most. And the hills just aren't the same on the roads either. They are all easily runnable. With the added daylight I am going to really try to get to the trails once in the middle of the week. I'm just spread so thin right now though…excuses I know a million of them. But when have a couple kids and work full time, and also a wife that you're (sort of) trying to keep around you'll understand. And then you can help me. Circles…

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chuckanut 50K




I had a day full of adventure. And the run was the minor part. What a great day it was too.
I got up at 3:45 and decided to ride my little Honda Metro to the run. It was 42 degrees at my house so I figured I would be fine on the way there. I was a little off. I put one bottle of drink in the carbon fiber bottle cage and figured I would swap another one on the way out, plus eat a Powerbar when I got my new bottle from under the seat. That didn't exactly work out to plan. As I left my house and dropped into the Snohomish Valley the weather quickly cooled. As I continued to drive it felt colder and colder, to the point where it was about 30. I had to wear my running shoes as I didn't really have any more room to pack anything else. All in all it took me about 2 hours and 10 minutes to get there. I was shivering, my hands weren't working anymore, and my feet were numb too. It was worth it though. I didn't even use a gallon of gas to drive the 75 miles to Fairhaven.

I spent the next 80 minutes trying to get warm. I went for a short 1.5 mile run, which worked well enough to get my core temp up, but my feet were still numb. I ran into Bill Huggins, a guy I moved up to cat. 2 with in Cyclocrosst and caught up with him, which was cool. Bill is an awesome dude. Next thing I know it's about 10 minutes to race start and my feet are still numb. I wasn't too worried though, I didn't think there would be any technical trails for a while. It turns out the first 6 miles are relatively flat and the footing is easy, much to my numb feet's delight. It was somewhere between 5-6 miles before I got all my feeling back in my feet.

Heading into the first aid station meant the single track and the real fun was about to begin. I kept a conservative pace for the beginning, staying aerobic and smooth. With a minimum goal of sub 5 hours I didn't think it would be too hard to attain. I suck (slow) at power walking the steep climbs, instead choosing to plod up them as best as I can. This proved to be much faster than most people can walk. My shoes were starting to bug me though on the first long decent. They always do. I need to find a new trail shoe I like that doesn't tear my feet up. Luckily I remembered to wrap my one foot in duct tape, that stuff really does have a million uses.

I ate and drank as much as I thought I needed, but I think not being able to eat and drink in the car on the way up really bit me in the ass by the time we got to the top of Lil Chinscraper. This climb, being only 800 feet, wasn't horribly long, but it was pretty steep and tough to go fast on.
After this it was all downhill and mostly flat to the finish. Although I knew I was running out of calories. I had 1/2 a Powerbar left in my fuel belt, so I downed that. And tried to survive to the next and last aid station. I was in full bonk mode although my legs were still pretty OK. I just needed calories. I survived to the last aid station where I consumed an enormous amount of calories. A huge handful of M & M's, a handful of Clif Bloks, a couple gels, and 8-10 little cups of coke and I was off. After about maybe one more slow mile my blood sugar kicked in and I was able to get my pace close to sub 8:00 minute miles the rest of the way. I ended up running the last 6 miles in 52 minutes, but I like to think the lack of calories were a big factor in the slowing of my pace before it picked up again. I ended up running in 4:58, not horrible, but I definitely feel as if I can run that course a lot faster. I ran into Glen shortly after, it's amazing that we were only 4 minutes apart and never saw one another the whole race. We saw Joleen finish, she wasn't looking too happy but looked like she finished strong.
The field was stacked. I don't think I've ever been in a race which contained this much talent. When the current Western States 100 winner gets 6th you know the field is stacked. I would have loved to have seen them fly up the hills.
It was warm for the scoot home though. I was horribly overdressed and had to stop after an hour or so to shed a layer or 2. I took the long way home because of the increased traffic. All told it was a very enjoyable day. I ended up putting 160 miles on the scooter and only used about 1.55 gallons of gas. My back was a little sore on the way home though, but it was worth it. Then it was back to the kids and since it was so nice out there wasn't any time to relax as we headed to the park and played for the rest of the day. Good times...

Friday, March 19, 2010

No Sleep...til B'ham!

Seriously. WTF? I haven't slept a decent night in about 2 weeks. 4 hours, 5 hours. 4 hours. Repeat. A good night has been 6 hours. I don't understand how this happens or why. Granted, I generally feel OK each day. Maybe it's because my mileage is back down under 50 miles per week? Am I some junkie that can only sleep when I burn a prerequisite amount of calories? I need a good 30+ mile run to get everything working again and in order. When I was running 70+ miles per week I slept pretty good every night. But I also got to run earlier - this is probably a factor. Most night I don't even get out the door until 730-800 o'clock. Then after 1-2+ hours of running, shower, stretch, food, get to bed it's pretty late. Then the friggin' alarm clock goes off at 430 and repeat.

Hopefully with Chuckanut 50K tomorrow I can get some sleep tonight. That would be a welcome relief.

Friday, March 5, 2010

100 miles - Take II


You're the fighter you've got the fire

The spirit of a warrior, the champion's heart

You fight for your life because the fighter never quits

You make the most of the hand you're dealt

Because the quitter never wins

No!

(The Dropkick Murphy's - The Warrior's Code)




I finally found a 100 to run to redeem myself from RR 100. I am going to kick this race's ass. I am going to be so strong that these mountains will feel like a bunny hill. Pine to Palm 100 or Palm to Pine - whateverthehellitscalled. Who cares. 20K of elevation. Whatever. It doesn't matter. I am going to turn myself inside out training yet be super smart also. I am going to be prepared. There will be no surprises this time. So a big EFF U to 100 miles thank you very much. And then I will go back to RR100 and run 17:30 for 100.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tiger Mountain Training Run





Whew. We finally got to run Tiger. I picked Glen up at 0630 and we headed out to the trails. I was quite surprised by the number of cars in the lot as we pulled in about 715 in the morning. It was a hard friggin run though. Actually, we walked some of the steeper ascents (there were many) and I quickly realized Glen is a way better power walker than I. I guess I need to hang out with the old folks on Friday mornings and do some hot laps around the mall.



We started off with a 2000 foot climb in the first 4 miles. We started nice and easy since it felt like a long climb. Neither one of us have ever run the 12 Summits of Issaquah before, so we had to stop more than we would have liked to. And also made quite a few wrong turns. I think we climbed the first ascent almost 3 times before we actually found the trail to the next summit. We probably got an extra 800 feet of climbing just because of our wrong turns. Once we found the trail to summit # 2 we were pretty good though in terms of navigation. We ran into hikers and we kept asking them if we were on the right tract to wherever we were going. We found our way meandering along the side of the mountain and only ran into one more runner after summit # 2. The farther into the woods we ventured the less options we had which certainly helped our poor navigational skills out. The climb to summit # 1 was a bitch to say the least. It only gained about 750 feet during the final approach, but it felt really steep and put my power walking to the test. By the time we reached this summit it was time to turn around as it took us nearly 2.5 hours of running (and walking) to get this far.



The way back was fast though. Granted, there wasn't quite as much ascending as previous - but there was lots of technical downhill quad thrashing running. The last 4 miles felt like a controlled free fall down a side of the mountain. I ran the last 2.2 miles in 15:30. And Glen was about a minute ahead of me, so he was hauling ass.



All in all it was an awesome day to run. The weather held out. The scenery was breath taking. The trails were in great shape. And it was just great to be outside and playing in the woods so far from anything remotely resembling pavement. We agreed we ran about 18 miles in just under 4 hours - the run was that tough. Both of us could probably run a 3:15 marathon on any given day of the week without too work. I never knew 12 minute pace could feel so hard.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Time to move forward

"Hey, sad and blue, what are you gonna do?
Blow yourself away or tie up your own left shoe?
And walk out the door, ready to roar
Check your guns at the door
There's a man that you should see
A generation X Bukowski
who knows about life
The life imitating art"

Lowest of the Low - Life imitating Art

No longer completely pissed off about last weekend in Texas I'm finally ready to move forward. The positives are that I am feeling healthy (for the most part) and motivated to run some good races now. I am going to concentrate on building strength and will be back in Texas next February ready to kick some ass. My recovery has been unbelievable. I know I'm not 100% after running over 72 miles last weekend, but I haven't had any soreness since last Monday, most of the things that were bugging me before the 100 attempt are gone, and most important I am super motivated to run. I realize that I really like testing myself, and before I always thought I was near invincible. Marathons are easy to finish. Ironmans are easy to finish. Sure, getting a fast time is a bit different, but nevertheless finishing is not that hard with the proper training. Forward on Muthafiretrucker. I am going to do some amazing things this summer, I will impress myself, and I will learn how to dog deeper than I have ever had to before. I'm ready to roar and like Pre always said, running a race is a work of art. And your life often imitates your art, so forward I'm ready to go. With only an occasional glance back to remind or re-motivate.