Sunday, May 19, 2013

Playing Ketchup...Leona 50K and Cali Training, fun in the McCall highcountry


Dec 2012: Exhausted from Pinhoti 100, I rest then ramp up quickly to train for Badera in January 2013.  I quickly lock in achilles tendonitis, shin splints and a calf tear.

Late Jan 2013 to April 2013:  I get back to training- pretty much just jogging with not a single run pain free.  What little quality work I did was paid for with weeks of crushing shin pain.  This has been the exact pattern since I started training in 2011.  I managed it much better this year than before and made steady gains on building the base, but still far from what I know I am capable of.

April 2013:  Signs of life...but still unable to enjoy any running.  By not enjoying running, I mean that every step I take is consumed with thoughts of the pain in my shins.  I never get to let my mind wander and dream and be fueled by my passions and ambitions.

April 22-28: I took a break before Leona 50K to rest my shins and prepare for the immense amount of work to put in after the race on the Western States 100 course.

April 27: Leona Divide 50K.  I took off hard with the 50 milers hell bent on a Western States spot and a few  50 K'ers including my pal Yassine and a strong ultra newby named Eric Schulte.  We talked and enjoyed the early miles, but the pace was fast and the day heated up quickly.  I pushed the smooth downhill to the mile 16 aid feeling really strong, but when I began the climb up the biggest hill of the day to the mile 20 turnaround, I knew I was going to suffer.  My legs cramped terribly and I was unable to run the hill at all.  The early speedy miles had crippled me.  I had a bit of a lead, but I knew if I was challenged by Yassine, I was toast.  I made the top of the hill and the turnaround with several stops to stretch my hamstrings and calves.  Within a quarter mile of the turn, I passed Yassine, which meant my lead was only a few minutes.  With 10 miles to go, I knew my condition would have to improve for me to get the W.  I pushed hard down the hill, but my rhythm was constantly broken by the conga line of runners coming up the hill.  Twice, I ran into other runners on tight corners on the steep hill.  One guy stepped off the trail and turned sideways, only to have a giant backpack hanging over the trail.  I hit his pack and flew sideways, straining my left hip to stay upright.  From that point on, I was limpy going down the hill.  The hip felt unstable and the glute muscles supporting it were in knots.  By the next aid at the bottom of the hill, I could see Yassine right behind me.  He passed smoothly on the next 4 mile uphill and was quickly gone.  I continually stopped and stretched and rubbed my hip.  Finally, I reached the top at around mile 28 and just had 3 miles of down to go.  All form was lost and I staggered downward as my legs failed in various ways.  The temperature was around 92 and I was nauseous and felt my brain boiling.  Soon it was all over and I was sitting in the shade and enjoying the butt-kicking day of racing I had put it.  The race was well directed and the atmosphere at the finish line was great.  Good food and drinks, lots of friends to talk to and most everyone stuck around to watch the 50 milers come through in the soaring heat.  I was VERY glad to not be running 50 miles that day.

April 28-May 5:  I drove straight to Auburn, CA and got to work on the Western States course.  I was really sore the first couple of days and the effects of the cramping and heat from Leona made me feel really slow.  I still ran 20-32 miles every day on various parts of the course.  One day, I bumped into my SCOTT teammate Meghan Arboghast and Scott Wolfe and they invited me to their Michigan Bluff training camp house.  I showed up the next night and they treated me to swordfish steaks and quinoa, lots of Pepsi and the only shower I would take during my trip.  I also got to meet their friends Casey and Myles and the WS100 Race Director Lord Balls Craig Thornley.  Just what I needed after all those days on the road, trails and living in my truck.  After this, I felt refreshed and put in some good, intense efforts in the lower canyons.  After Leona, the 90 degree heat was NO ISSUE.  The hip was still feeling unstable, the shins were achy, but seemed to be recovering faster.  I put in 107 miles and 25+'K of vertical and felt stronger with every run I did.  This was very taxing, coming straight off the Leona Race.  I was glad to pull this off.  May 5th, I turned 34 years old.

May 6- May 19:  A huge heat wave hit Idaho and when I returned, the landscape was very different than when I left.  My trails were melting out so quickly.  Plus, I was running shirtless at temps above 75 F.  Crazy for early May in McCall.  Finally, the shins pain was allowing me to do some quality training.  As usual, I did mostly unstructured fartlek style bursts.  Maybe in a 15 mile run, I will encounter 2 steep hills that I like to track my time.  I use the 13 filler miles to cruise and then challenge the steeps.  I have been amazed to see my PR's from last year fall so easily and completely.  As soon as the shins allowed it, the power flowed so naturally.  Perfect timing.  When I left for Leona, each hill was a real grunt.  Very high heartrate, sweating, panting, etc.  In short, I was not in racing shape.  Now, different story.  I am feeling the true flow of my running for the first time since last autumn.  My mind is free to wander and daydream.  After months of suffering, it is bliss.  After returning home, I took a recovery week of 50 miles, then 80 miles this past week.  Next up is a trip to the Selway Wilderness for some high mileage.

Duncan Canyon bears

My fuel for Leona 50K.  12 VFuels.  5 in each clear flask and one each dissolved in water in the yellow flasks for my drop bag.  I used only the 10 gels in the clear flasks for my fuel + 2 Vespas.  

Western States course. Last Chance mining equipment.  Really cool stuff strewn about in that forest.

WS100- headed for Robinson Flat.

Swinging Bridge at bottom of Last Chance hill before you climb the Devil's Thumb.

Michigan Bluff rental home.  The front yard houses the big aid station at mile 55 of WS100.

Eldorado Creek

Back in Idaho.  Still lots of snow above 6K'

After my new PR on the Goose Creek hill.  9:17 for 1.1 mile with about 700' gain.

Goose Creek bridge.

Brundage Reservoir 6400'

Log bridge over Goose Creek built by the CIMBA bikers.   Nicely done.

AND FINALLY...Still think there are no roids in ultrarunning?  At Leona, when I got back to my bag at the finish line staging area, this empty packet of juice was laying beside my bag.  Hopefully, it belonged to someone who is not competitive, in his 70's who really needs the stuff to survive.  For some reason, I don't believe this is the case.


  1. It's good to hear things are really starting to feel pretty good :) It must feel pretty cool to start getting some trail time on the WS trail! Keep going strong. We're rootin for ya :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks buddy. Miss you guys. The kids are growing so fast. We watch all your videos so we can keep up with their growth.

  3. Jeremey, found your blog after talking back and forth a bit on irunfar. Really interesting reading. When you pulled away and won last year at CCC (as a relative unknown) I figured you were just some freeking new guy phenom. But no, you have plenty of struggles, just like the rest of us. Fwiw, not only is that more interesting reading (and more relatable to the rest of us), but probably makes everything more meaningful to you.
    I have struggled with foot issues for several years. Standard Plantar F things that cripple me to barely being able to walk. Nothing seems to fix it, and winter is the worst. Since moving to HI I've slowly ratcheted up my miles (very slowly), but the PF is receding. Vitamin D?? I've been considering the possibility.
    Thanks for the tactics at CCC. Mine were different last year: Solid but not fast up, fastish down, and cruise the techy stuff. I think TFH took me 90 minutes (and I didn't fall ;) ). But I lost lots of time hiking those long dirt forest roads. Another problem is that I'm just not that good at techy downhills, especially on tired legs. Coming off the Needles was killing me! This year I'm going to try to get there in shape to run up those climbs. Here on Oahu we're a little limited on those 'volcano summit roads' (other islands are a bit better for that), but I think you're on the $$ with suggesting that type of thing for training. There are some options. My favorites are road climbs that lead to summit trails. Trails out here are really incredible btw. Not so much on miles and miles of uninterrupted single track, but you can go from urban driving, to nice runnable trail, to bushwhacky stuff that is hard to break 20min/mile (most people turn around), to super sketchy Jurrasic Park ridge line hiking that will take your life if you're not careful.
    Happy Birthday Young Guy! I'm four years up on you and still hoping to have some good competitive years of improvement left!
    Jason Hynd

    1. Ohhh PF...the runner's kiss of death. Sorry man. I get it, but it is gone in a week. Never a big deal. I stretch my calves and use a roller wheel on my feet. Take a look at low-dye taping technique on Youtube. It is a firm tape job, but it gives lots of relief for the feet, arches and shin splints. I also reach for a solid, high-drop shoe to demand less stretching of the plantars, while I run.

      Yeah, I have tons of troubles- basically every winter from Dec-June. I'm happy to be pulling through this one better than ever.

      Do you do up and down tempo runs? The power you get on the ups really seems to help with strength on the downs. Then, when the race is getting closer and you want to peak, start doing long downhill tempo runs.

      Get after it...3 months til CCC100 race day!

  4. Oh, and great pictures etc! I need to catch up on my blog, mostly as a place to put my pictures of HI running.
    I expect you to have a great run at WS. Sounds to me like you're dialed in and having fun. That will be the key!
    Not sure about the TRT stuff. Today there is some new pill or treatment for imagined problems, or those created by poor diet. Could it be cheating? Absolutely. Thanks for bringing that up. Testing won't help, but shaming will. Sociology 101: Violating a social norm (or getting caught doing it) can cause more angst than breaking an actual law.

  5. Okay, holy crap on the gel and holy crap on the bears.

    1. I saw a bear in Cali that I think may have taken some gel. Bear-roids!

      "Bears...blood thirsty, Godless killing machines. The #1 threat to America." Steven Colbert