Monday, May 30, 2011

Pocatello 50+++ Race Report

Huge day in the hills.  54.3 miles of mud, snow and bushwacking- all of which seemed to peak on the steepest of climbs.  The forecast was ominous, but the day dawned nice enough to dress light.

At 6am eveyone toed the line and  and I was off with the lead pack. 

The leaders chatted as they all knew each other from previous competition.  I was happy as the outsider- flying under the radar.  We climbed over gorgeous singletrack trail with fantastic views of the surrounding mountains.  Two Sandhill Cranes appeared and I admired their in-flight courtship ritual and accompanying song.  Coming into Gibson Jack, mile 8.3, the first serious mud of the day was encountered.  I was in 3rd place behind Dakota and Ryan when I took a nasty, sideways fall onto my left hip that left me staggering for a while and looking as if I had grown a tail.  Five or six runners quickly passed me.  I limped along and recovered with a power hike up and over Wild Mountain.  This part of the course was amazing with steep off-trail bushwacking and nothing but ribbons on sagebushes to guide you up to the summit.  From there, a beautiful scramble led over a serrated ridge to rejoin the trail to City Creek.  A fast downhill jeep trail and singletrack leads to the first crew point at mile 17.25- and some mild stomach distress.  Rita and LG were there to resupply me with EFS gel and drink and I was off to chase down B who had taken off for the 50K race a little earlier.

Meanwhile, B's race started and she was making her way up City Creek trail.

I caught B near the top of City Creek Trail, 4 miles from her starting line.  We were in a tangle of trees along the side of a steeply sloping snow slope above the creek.  We passed along some words of encouragement and I jokingly advised the runners moving along with B to not let her be the routefinder.  I hit the top of the hill and trotted along in the snow toward the next aid at mile 24.  Matt Hart and Joelle Vaught caught me here.  I would spend the rest of the day chasing them with no luck, but they were the last racers to pass me.  A cold mist engulfed the ridge as I took my aid quickly and blasted off for nearly 10 miles of mostly downhill to the next crew point.  I was really not moving well here, getting only 8-9 minute miles where I should be under 7.  Joelle and Matt were obviously so much stronger downhillers than me.  I will have to work on that part of my game.  My hip was hurting and I knew I needed some Aleve at the next aid.  I tuned out for a bit and kept the stress off, while I enjoyed the forrested surroundings and mellow trail.

Mink Creek, mile 34, was the next crew point.  I was really happy to see Rita and LG.  I ate 2 Aleves and swapped my bottles out and was gone for the climb to Scout Mountain.  I ran well for the next 2 miles, but then resorted to walking as the Valve House Trail got steeper, then very snowy.  A 2 mile slog ensued where the trail was sloppy, slushy snow mixed with flooded creek water.  Thirteen minute miles felt fast for this kind of terrain.  I saw some of my competition coming back toward me on the short out-and-back leg including Matt, Joelle, Christian Johnson, Luke Nelson, Ryan Burch and Evan Honeyfield.  The first three runners had already completed this section, so I did not see them pass.  I knew that Christian was within my reach and perhaps if Joelle or Matt fell apart I could still give them a run for it.

At the Scout aid station I downed a few PIEROGI, watermelon, chicken stock and cookies and had a brief chat with Ultra Legend Karl Meltzer while my bottles were being filled.  I set off for the slushy slog and started feeling better.  I encountered and sized up the field behind me and felt confident I could hold off all challenges coming from behind me.  I hit the downhill running well and quickly caught sight of Christian ahead by less than 1/4 mile.  I chased hard for 5 miles of downhill and caught him at the Mink Creek aid.  Rita and LG were quick with the bottle swap, I dumped some extra stuff and took off.  It became apparent that Christian had lots left in the tank, as he floated up the 1300' of climbing while I staggered and limped.  I mosied along past the top of the hill, onto the rolling jeep road, desperate for some adrenaline.  I hit the top of the Corral Creek trail and took a quick look back.  A racer was closing on me quickly- now less than 50 yards away.  A surge of adrenaline tore through me and I floored it down the hill- knowing that all the climbing was done.  Dropping to 7 minute miles hurt, but with the excitement of a challenger it felt good to be racing again.  Three miles later I hit the pavement and it was just 1.4 miles to the finish.  On the last straightaway, I pulled close enough to Christian to see him, but I needed another mile to get him.  It just wasn't to be.  I just waited too long to gun it.  10th place for me. 9hrs 46mins 57sec.

I am pleased with my result.  Everyone who finished ahead of me had so much more experience in ultras and it showed in several key aspects of racing- most notably on downhills.  I think I could have run at least 30 mins faster at my current state of fitness if I had used better pacing strategy, had more confidence to push harder in the last 1/3 of the race, and had not fallen down and weakened my hip early on.  All of this easier said than done- but I clearly had too much in the tank when I finished.  I guess that's better than not being able to walk unsupported for several days- as is my custom.

B popped a caffein pill late in the race and finished by passing people like they were standing still.  We drove up to the exit point for the Corral Creek trail where she hit the pavement and we cheered her on.  She has never looked stronger at the end of a long run.  She could have handled the 50+ today for sure.  We raced back to the finish to watch her cross the line in 9:25. 

The after party was great.  Awesome burritos and good music encouraged us to hang out as long as we could. 

I met some great runners who I only knew from the Blog world.  The whole event was a class act and I plan to return many times.

Big thanks to Rita and LG for taking great care of us out there.


Monday, May 23, 2011


Miles are down and legs are getting revamped for raceday- just 5 days now.  Still keeping busy:

Big powder day on May 16.  View out the front door.

Orange doesn't seem to mind.

Gotta make fresh tracks while we can.  B skiing down after skinning to the top.  Over a foot of fresh pow!  If you look closely, you can see a fox frolicking on the slope just above B.

Snow is gone a day later. Here, I am mowing the lawn using my state of the art mule deer mower. Orange supervises.

 We haven't had a good night of sleep in 2 weeks.  Every night between 4 am until 6 am that smoke alarm on the apex starts chirping, signaling a dying backup battery.  It doesn't chirp during the day, so we forget about it, only to chirp again during the night.  Problem is, that vaulted ceiling is 28 feet high.  My solution- combine aid climbing with sketchy overhanging ladder rigging and anything is possible.  I saw this on the Little Giant infomercial with Al Borland.  Belay courtesy of B down on ground level.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The "hay is in the barn"

Two weeks until Pocatello and as some would say, "the hay is in the barn" at this point.  Put in lots of miles lately around Fish Lake.  It is around 4700' and the surrounding climbs go up to 5600' and are mostly melted out and runbable. 

Basecamp from the truck for resupply between loops. 

The Seven Devils Mountains will need another 60 days to be ready.

Delicious wapiti!  I stopped my watch and stalked them for a while.  

I spooked them and they took off up the hill toward the ridgetop.  I climbed the ridge to their right in this photo and cut them off 500' above, surprising them completely and in perfect postion.  I will see them again on Aug 30...

Post run chillin with B.  A cold soak in the lake takes the soreness out of the legs, and some sunning and trout fishing close out the day.  70 degrees is nice after a long, hard McCall winter.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring Training: The Idaho Way

Spring has sprung but the deep snow rermains at Brundage.  Pocatello demands climbing fitness.  This is the best we can come up with for now...

B earning some of the last turns of the year.

My previous PR= 31:30.  Today's time= 28:54.

As you can see, PR's tend to hurt!

Happy boy after double Brundage Skin & Ski.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rapid River

Wow, strong form.

Toothy critters on my trail.  If he could talk, he woud say this.

                                         Been a while since we've been anywhere this green.

                                                         HOLY LIMESTONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dodging horse apples.

                                                Steelhead are going for a run of their own.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

June 2011 Runner's World: Rave Run,7120,s6-239-281-570-13938-0,00.html

BRB and I in the latest issue of Runner's World.  Pretty neat shot done by Marshall LaPlante.  The news-stand issue is a full 2 page panoramic spread.  This is 10 miles south of town on Farm to Market Road.  Running on roads!  What will they think of next?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Weiser River Trail 50K Race Report

Another race where my health was very much in question.  The left knee and shin thing is sticking around.  Rest (9 miles combined last 2 weeks), twice daily ice baths and even the dreaded NSAIDs were deployed.  I just hoped it was strong enough to get a few miles in at a good pace and warm up, like it did at Robie.

B and I showed up 45 minutes prior after a casual drive from McCall to Council.  I was in my usual brooding, hood up/ eyes down pre-race mood.  A quick jog confirmed I was feeling good enough to go out at the planned 6:30-ish pace.  The morning was a nice sunny low-40 deg F, so I stripped down to the short shorts, shades, and no shirt anticipating a hot one out there in the windless canyons and open sage country.  I drew lots of looks as much of the field was clad in tights, long sleeves, hats and gloves.  You can not imagine the dehydration I would experience if I dressed like that.  If in a race, even for a short time, I perspire liquid sweat...I'M TOAST.  I kissed B good luck and we took our mark.

Horn blast and we're off.  I dart ahead to the lead and seconds later I am equaled by a smooth looking older dude.  I say to him, "so you must be the doctor?"  I had done my homework on the field and it was the reigning champ and he was definitely fit and ready to win it again.  We were both glad to have some company as we put a huge gap on the field.  We ran solid 6:30-6-40 splits for many miles while carrying on a really good conversation.  We talked nutrition, training and pointed out the animals we saw along the way.  Around mile 18, we started to jockey a little for position.  Each made small moves and opened up the stride, just to be reeled back in within a minute or two, only to resume the conversation. 

At mile 21, my worst fear for the race began to manifest.  My left shin/knee/lower calf area began to show signs of an impending cramp.  This weak area would surely be the place to go, given its infirmity over the last months.  I am a champion cramper, so I know when a cramp is coming and I know how long I have to survive before it seizes.  I filled my bottle at the 21.1 aid station and on to mile 23.5 I pounded as much fluid as I could.  At 23.5, the cramp seized fully and I abruptly stopped and let out a yelp of pain.  The doctor pulled away and put probably 150 yards on me.  I pulled on my toes for several seconds and it finally released.  I began running again at an 8 min pace.    I ate a few big mouthfuls of First Endurance EFS gel and tried to keep the pace.  I made a deal with myself to run my best and not be mentally defeated.  I reminded myself that it is a long race, lots can happen, and there was plenty of time for redemption.  Mercifully, the doctor began to slow just when I did.  I picked up the pace slowly and around mile 25 I pulled up just 10 feet behind him.  I used his pace to determine my cadence, speeding and slowing as he did, just trying to stay with him. 

My emotional side entered here as it often does in long runs.  Not sure why.  At the Leadville 100, when I passed under Mt. Elbert, my first "big" mountain climb with the Old Man, I could feel this buzz.   It was as though he was right there with me, pushing me along that remaining 35 miles.  On this day, I vividly pictured my Old Man with his arms crossed standing by the track with a stopwatch timing my intervals.  He wore a big smile and nodded his head in approval.  He whispered, "strength and honor," our family motto.  All he ever wanted me to be was a runner and here I was running on nothing more than guts.  A huge smile crossed my lips as tears streaked my face.  I knew I would give whatever it took from that moment to the finish.  A massive adrenaline dump instantly knocked a full minute off my pace and I surged to a lead I would not relinquish.   I pulled into the final aid station 100 yards ahead, which was nice to set the tone for the final 5 miles.

I jettisoned my empty 20oz hand bottle and the 2 flasks of EFS gel I carried from the start in my short's pockets.  I pounded 3 small dixie cups of cold water and left within 10 seconds of arrival carrying nothing.  I warned myself to run my own race and enjoy myself, but within a few miles I caught myself looking back which had good and bad consequences.  The GOOD was that I recognized I was expanding my lead to a quarter mile or so.  The BAD was that when I turned around to look, the cramping returned to my calf and expanded to my hamstring, hip flexor, and oblique muscles.  Bascially, my entire left side was a cramp.  Apparently, these muscles were too tight and when I turned around, the tension broke and they balled up.  Lesson learned. 

The last few miles were anticlimactic.  The heat of competition was off, the trail was mellow and I was pretty spent- physically and emotionally.  I just cruised along at 7:15 pace reminding myself that I was exactly where I wanted to be, doing exactly what I wanted to do.  I crossed the line in 3:27:42.  Two minutes off the course record.  But, with the course being lengthened by about a mile this year, I feel no shame in claiming a new record.  Why not?  I've paid my dues in ultras as a mid-packer.  Every dog has his day.  Results:

I tended to my cramping needs with some recovery drink and some finger foods.  A few high-test Cokes were nice too.  I chatted with lots of nice people and waited for my love to finish.  I was happy to see her running well down the last stretch to the finish.  She had a rough go out there which involved cramps and vomiting.  But I'll let her tell that story.  A 4th place female finish is solid and she should be proud, as there were some strong gals from Boise in the field.  We had a nice time in this well organized event.

I am quite happy with my time and discipline in holding together.  I did manage a marathon PR of just under 3 hours which is pretty cool.  My nutrition was as good as could be and I will certainly use EFS products in future races.  I consumed about 65 oz of fluid with approx 300 calories in sports drink and another 700 from the gel flask.  The cramping I experienced was from serious undertraining and weakness in the lower left leg and some heat in the later stages of the day.  I have run only 405 miles in 2011!!!   Lots of cross training, but I need more miles for my next outing in the Pocatello 50 Mile on 5/28.  Time to recover and get psyched for the Pokey.