Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Robie Creek Half Marathon

1:21 (6:10 pace, 2400' climb, 1700' descent)
2014 Theme:  Killer Queen.  Queen themed music, signage, costumes and pageantry. Pretty cool.
2nd Place out of 2500 runners

Pre-race.  This crew has got me through some pretty crazy racing over the years.  
First mile.  A flattish sub-5 affair.   I am in 3rd and it already a 3 man race as the 2500+ runners spill out behind us.  I already feel my left calf tightening and it would be a battle to keep it from ripping the remainder of the run.
Photo: JOE JASZEWSKI Idaho Statesman
Mile 2 after the initial climb and it is now a 2 man race.  From here it is a short descent to the beginning of of the 6 mile climb on a dirt forest road, ever steepening to the summit.  On these short breaks in the climbing, it was clear that winner Markus had WAY more speed than me.  Geiger is a 30 minute 10k guy with a strong Collegiate XC and Track pedigree and last year ran Robie in the 1:14 range- as fast as its ever been run. Photo: KTVB Erica Deshner Cornwall

6 miles of climbing later at the top of the mountain (mile 8.4 in 56+ mins).  It is over 80F and into a stiff head wind.  I am now 2+ minutes behind.  I am surprised to see both feet off the ground and some semblance of running form.  I am in a world of hurt.  Over the top, I spent a minute or so speaking Captain Caveman gibberish to the horror of the EMT's and spectators looking on as I screamed down the hill, knees wobbling, slamming feet and running as fast as gravity could carry me. Photo by The Pulse Running & Fitness
Almost there. I split a 24 min down- just a tick over 5 min average.  Without a watch, I would have guessed some of these miles at more like 7 min.  I could not believe no one came for me.  3rd place was another 3+ mins back.  I look like a body builder compared to my late-summer build.  Big, oxygen starved muscles = cramptastic.  I can't believe I ran almost 80 miles like this at Western last year.
Finish.  1:21.  A half mile or so up the road, I was chased by a dog from his driveway.  He was a big short-hair showing teeth and he lunged at me.  I jumped him to avoid being bitten, curling into a ball as I flew over him.  While in my tuck, my right hammy seized completely and I was barely able to outrun him.  Earlier, I had jumped over a rattle snake. 
Photo: DARIN OSWALD Idaho Statesman
Fresh Race Rockers sans socks.  Just a nick and I bled like a stuck pig.  This was from breaking my stride with my right leg on the down hill to keep my left calf from going.  Sweet shoes at 7 ounces.  I will review these soon.
At the finish party with the winner.   Big neck bling.  Photo: KTVB Eileen Capson

Good beer and good friends at the finish.  Brandi, Katie and I hung out and took in the scene for hours after the race.  We were on one of the last buses out of there.  I partied as hard as my dehydrated body would allow.  No more treats until September.
Recovery hike on Brundage today.  I bumped into Irene and her goats.  This is "Barley," a horse-sized French Alpine Goat. They will be supplying an aid station somewhere in the backcountry at IMTUF 100 this year.  Maybe a new tradition like the llamas of Leadville.
Gear and Support:

SCOTT Split Shorts
SCOTT Race Rocker racing flats
VFUEL Gel packet at miles 4 and 7.
Vespa Ultra Concentrate 15 minutes pre-race
Breathe-Right nose strip.  I'm liking how these help me breathe.  No sponsor or anything, just digging the extra O2.
Pre-Race Chiropractic by Dr. Guy Jeppe of McCall Chiropractic/ Personalized Healing. 

Report Card

Pre-Race Fitness:  Cardio= B/B+.  Muscle and Tissues= C.  Weight= C.  Racing Specific Training Miles= D.  Heat Training:  D.  Coming in I had only covered 550 miles this year, with only 400 of those miles from running.  In those 550 miles, I climbed over a quarter million feet of vertical (average grade of nearly 500 feet per mile traveled).  That makes for pretty strong lungs but sorely lacking in preparation of the running tissues.  I have my standard lower leg issues that plague each December to July.  I was lucky not to tear my calf in the race.  As is customary, I carry my 6 or 7 extra pounds of winter weight until it warms up in July.  It was up near 80 deg F, which is very hot for me for April.  The snow just left the front yard and McCall is still a month away from any trails melting out.  I did some sauna sessions and some gym workouts with extra clothes- it still felt way hot out there.  Of course all of these standards are compared against my late summer/autumn peak numbers.  For April, I am way ahead of the curve.  All signs point to another year of solid growth and improvement.

Race Exectution:  A-.  I raced hard, didn't settle.  I believed until the end that I would catch him and win.  I wanted to compete head to head.  But, I learned in the first mile that if I did not run my own pace, my calf would have ripped and I would have blown up in that heat.  So, I gave what I had.  I believe I can run the course as much as 5 minutes faster and will try to prove it next year, using what I have learned.

Fun: A.  I tried hard and enjoyed the experience completely.  Half Marathons are infinitely more stressful to me than a 100 miler.  That is the point.  Get out of your comfort zone and get better at running faster.  I was happy to not feel too anxious or nervous before the race and had no regrets after.  Total fun. 

Health: B.  My calf is really sore and tired, but no long term damage.  In the past few weeks, I tried to get some faster miles in before the race. That caused the calf tissues to stress, as I am accustomed to for April.  Thankfully, we have another week of snow in the forecast, so I am hitting the ski slopes some more.  That should get me back to normal and ready to resume a slight mileage uptick.  Nothing crazy until July.

***Toughest in the Northwest- Unless you count any actual trail race, ultra race, track meet, etc.  It's tough as far as your standard corny road races go, but only the "toughest" if you decide to make it that way and run to your limits.  Regardless of it's "toughest" status, it is Idaho's classic race.  It sells out 2500 plus bibs in minutes.  I will be back for more.


  1. Wow. Great report with the mix of the photos and commentary. And the report card. Yeah, look at your arms compared to the winner next to you. That might be handy someday though.

    No treats until September? Wow. And I love the asterisk.

    1. Thanks Geo. I learned the art of self dissection blogging from the master. Big pipes are good, but they will be withered by the time they would be useful in the elk woods.

      Love the Meb coverage on your site. You mine the blogosphere like no other.

      Jer "Toughest in West Central Idaho" Humphrey

  2. Congrats Jeremy. That's an impressive effort.
    Question about timing of the Vespa, you took it 15 minutes prior. Their recommendation is 45 prior. Have you found it works better taking it closer to the start of an event?

    1. Hi Keith,

      Good question and it depends on the event. Remember, there are 3 effects from ingesting VESPA.

      1. Fatburning enhancement
      2. Mental stimulation
      3. Muscle damage reduction from the aminos

      In a race where fat burning is at a premium, say marathon and beyond, then you want it in you upon waking. Then I would take one just before the start, then one every 2 hours while running. This optimizes the fat burning effect at reasonable/ moderate heartrates- a huge advantage over sugar burning in long events. Torching sugar over many hours pollutes us with toxins and waste products, where fat burns clean and steady.

      However, in a half marathon lasting an hour and some, I was not concerned about fat burning. I knew I would go to anaerobic threshold heartrates in the first mile and quickly over-run my body's fatburning capabilities. If I was better at this type of running, I may be able to muster more fatburning, but I am a fish out of water in these short races. This was fine with me, as I was packing a full load of glycogen (stored muscle and liver sugar from last night's meal) that would fuel the entire event. In addition, I would gulp 200 additional calories in gel as the hill got steeper to turbocharge the energy burn. Vacation analogy...think of 100 milers as a vacation with your grandparents to Palm Springs for golf. A half marathon is a spring break full of wakeboarding and cliff diving at Lake Powell. You live fast and party hard. Redbull and vodka might work just as well for this sort of insanity;)

      For this race, the mental stimulation was the primary purpose for the VESPA...the desire to hurt and make others hurt along with me. It never disappoints. I can feel it coursing through me in just a few minutes.

      The other boost came while bombing the descent. Fast extended downhill running shreds muscle tissue (especially quads) like nothing else. The amino acids have a protecting effect which I attribute to my still being able to run strong after 80+ miles in a long ultra. There is good research on this muscle-sparing effect of ingesting aminos during exercise. Ingredients in VFuel gel also have this effect.

      This has been my experiences with it, but everyone is different and should experiment to find the best M.O.

      Good luck this weekend at Weiser. I will be down there to spectate.


  3. Jeremy,
    Thank for the info. Appreciate you sharing your insights on the nutrition.