"Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense."
- David Blaikie

Sunday, November 30, 2008

weekly log: Nov 24 - 30th

  • Mon - 21 mi (am: 12 mi; pm: 9 mi) Rough 12 miles starting at 4:30 but then felt great through a negative split 1:09 Ocho loop in the afternoon.
  • Tues - 8 mi on the Uwharrie course. Started at the 20 mile trailhead and worked my way in 4 miles and back out.
  • Wed - 21 mi (am: 16 mi; pm: 5 mi) 4:30 am start with dorph, blade and fleet feet mike. FF loop in the afternoon at 40 mins.
  • Thurs - 5 mi fast pace on the ocho while the turkey was cooking
  • Fri - 7 mi (am: 5 mi; pm: 2 mi) PR Freaky Friday birthday run in 38:17. Came back in pm to run long but knees hurt.
  • Sat - 23 mi 4:30 start with dorph, monk and pav. Great 4 hrs on feet.
  • Sun - 16 mi negative split double Ocho

Weekly Total: 101 mi

1st week in training for the 2009 season. From June 21 (Bighorn) to Nov 23 I logged 967 miles with a weekly average of about 45 miles. Nice off season numbers and now I'm ready to get back at it. I'm definitely feeling the extra miles this week in a few places, but overall am running better than I have at lower mileage. I may not keep the weekly mileage >100 over the next few weeks but it felt great this week and was relatively easy to fit into my schedule with W, Th, & Fri off for Thanksgiving (and 3 x 4:30 am runs!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

NB505 RX505CB

Introducing the newest members of my closet, the New Balance 505s.

I love the fit and feel of the New Balance790s for the lighter end of the spectrum, but have been wanting a more aggressive tread on them. The La Sportiva Crosslites have the tread I like but are just too narrow up front. So I've been on a bit of a quest. What I really want is a pair of those experimental 790s that Kyle Skaggs wore for Hardrock this year. I tried signing up to be a New Balance tester, but no word.

Enter the 505s, an aggressive racing shoe for x-country, indoor or outdoor track. Weighing in somewhere around 7.8 oz (for my size, 9.5) they are even lighter than the 790s, yet the forefoot protection (with Rock Stop
®) feels solid. They come in 2E which my feet love. As for traction... a little more than the 790, but really it's the 6 removable metal spikes that are the story there. I know from drilling screws into shoes that spikes aren't going to be good for rocky trails, but I'm looking forward to sinking them into some softer single-track. Would they stand up to Uwharrie 40 or Massanutten 100? You'd have to be completely insane to try it...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Uwharrie 2, Weezyl 1

Saturday's run at Uwharrie wasn't pretty. The rain cleared out of the area leaving us with partly sunny skies and warmer than expected temps (70). A beautiful day actually. I was hoping this would be a good test of my recent training approach of faster pace, lower mileage and technical trails. I was also looking at it as a good benchmark before the 2009 buildup, but alas, Uwharrie got the better of me (again) and I'm not sure what conclusions I can draw.

The first 8 mi split 1:21 was 4-5 mins slower than I was looking for. Okay, I took a wrong turn, the leaves were thick, and the creeks were high, but I don't think that really contributed more than a minute or two. From mile 8 the run deteriorated quickly. I had a couple Honey Stinger gels and shortly thereafter emptied my stomach around mi 13.5. I forgot the S! Caps which would have come in really handy at this point (duh). Dehydration set in and by my mile 16 I was feeling pretty wonky and turned back. I tried a couple times to get something going on the way back but I had nothing. Legs felt fine, but no energy.

32 miles for the day. Ugh.

So, not sure what to take away from this. Certainly, 1) don't forget the S! caps, 2) aid at 8, 11, and 20 isn't enough for a warm day, and 3) more experimentation needed on the Stinger honey before I try that in a race.

On the positive side, I remembered Uwharrie being much more technicaly challenging and hilly. That may be a good sign that all the technical training is paying off.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Uwharrie 40 *wet* run

I've been planning a dry run of the Uwharrie 40 course this Sat to see where my fitness is and to kick off the training season for 2009 events. Looks like this will be a very *wet* run instead of a dry run.

Weather forecast for Troy, NC changed overnight and now they're calling for thunderstorms tomorrow morning and "steady" rain later in the day. At 7 am it's supposed to be 63 and going up to a high of 68. With the rain they're getting today the streams will be swollen and there will be some good slippery, muddy sections.

Between the mud and the leaves I've given up on time goals for this run, but it will still be an interesting benchmark. I wouldn't dream of canceling this due to the weather. Perfect opportunity to see the course in less than ideal conditions.

Gear considerations
From my collection of trail shoes, I'll select the La Sportiva Crosslites for this run. They drain pretty well and have the most aggressive tread. Not bothering with a rain jacket because of the warm temps. I have an orange long sleeve patagonia shirt which will probably be too warm but It's the only thing I've got that the hunters will see (tomorrow is opening day for deer hunting). Wet clothes stick to you in different places than when dry so I may be taping or lubing a few sensitive areas. I think I'll swing by a Wal*Mart to pick up an orange hat too.

I'm driving out to the course this afternoon to stash some water and goodies. Here's the elevation profile with my aid stations marked (1-3):

The plan
Start: 2 hand bottles
AS1 mi 8: drop 1 bottle
AS2 mi 11: drop 2nd bottle, pick up my Nathan pack
AS3 mi 20: refill Nathan
AS2 mi 29 drop Nathan pack, pick up hand bottle
AS1 mi 32 pick up 2nd hand bottle

Should be fun! I'll write a report for my next post.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Trail Shoes

About half of these are on active duty. Identify them all correctly
and win a prize.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

2009 Race Plans

Time for a 2009 race plan. Here's what I've got:
If I manage to get through both the Hardrock and Miwok lotteries, then I'll have to make some adjustments. Also need some alternates in case I don't get into either.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Marin Headlands

My West Coast trail running bender concluded today with a return to one of my favorite spots in Northern California - the Marin Headlands. I picked up in the Tennessee Valey where I left off on my last visit to Marin Headlands, and headed North to Muir Beach following the outbound course for the Miwok 100k.

It was a tough week of travel and business meetings, but I thought I'd be ready to rip with a few days rest and all the hill running this month. Wrong. I took a lot of pictures instead.

Miwok 100k registration opens 1 week from today, but the drawing isn't until mid Jan. I think I'll toss my name in the hat but there are other lotteries I'll be in simultaneously, so this could get weird.

Back to the East Coast on the red eye tonight.

lost in the woods

During a pre-dawn run this past Sat Dorph (aka Adam Byerly) and I happened upon a UNC student lost in the woods of Carolina North Forest. It was very dark, shortly after 5:00 am, and she had been wandering around for several hours after partying a little too hard the night before. We guided her out safely and resumed our run, not thinking too much about it. Later in the week I got this lovely email from her...

Hi Joe,

I am the girl that you helped out of the woods early Saturday morning last weekend. I have been trying to think about how I could possibly put into words how grateful I am to you and your friend, but I just don't think there is a way. If you hadn't run into me on the trail, I don't know when I would have ever made it out. I wandered into the woods around 1:30am after a stupid night out with friends and don't even remember entering the woods. Needless to say, I learned a huge life lesson that night and it really forced me to take a step back and re-evaluate some of the decisions I have been making lately.

I don't want to blabber on, but I just wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH! It really meant a lot to me what you said about how you hoped someone would help your daughter in the same way should she ever be in a situation like that (which I doubt she will and certainly hope she does not!). She is lucky to have such a caring father.

Thank you again,
(name removed)
Isn't that sweet?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Columbia River Gorge (Portland)

After scoping out the Cascade Crest 100 course I drove town to Portland for more business meetings and more adventures on the Pacific Crest Trail. Fellow IBMer and Bighorn pacer extraodinaire, Darin Swanson, sent me some great info on running in the Portland area including this little gem, Herman Creek...

Darrin says, "Out on Highway 84 towards Mt Hood is the Columbia River Gorge which is snaked with trails and hills. Herman Creek / PCT which is some real hills. About 1 hour from town.
We park at Herman Creek Campground and the start of the Herman Creek Trail http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/columbia/trails/trail_406.htm

  • Drive up to the Herman Creek Campground and stay right to get to the trail parking.
  • You start at the Herman Creek trail which is right at the parking lot by the campground
  • This will climb a little to a power line easement.
  • Go through the easement and continue on the trail.
  • The next junction has a trail going up to the left and one to the right.
  • Take the one "down" to the right.
  • This will take you down to the creek and over a bridge.
  • Continue up the next side till you come to a 'T' with the Pacific Crest Trail (we call it Pain Junction :-) )
  • Taking a left you will climb.
  • At around 1.5 miles you will see a sign for the Hatfield Wilderness Boundary on a tree (old wooden sign)
  • At about another 1.5 miles you would reach Tea Kettle Spring (should have a sign as well)"
This was a great hill workout and the mossy, ferny Pacific Crest Trail here just can't be beat.

Cascade Crest 100 Course Recon

I got out on the course for the Cascade Crest Classic 100 this past week while on a business trip to Seattle. Scoped out a nice campground at Kachess Lake and then ran the first part of the course up to Goat Peak and a few miles out and back from Stampede Pass toward Meadow Mountain.

The CCC100 Runners manual describes the climb from the Start up to Goat Peak as "not trifling". Essentially the same elevation gain and mileage as the climb up to the Escarpment at the beginning of Western States, but with more difficult footing and with a 10 am start the heat of mid-morning could definitely come into play.

As you pass by the rock outcropping on Goat Peak you can basically see the entire course to the North and East. From here you settle in on the Pacific Crest Trail for some great ridge running, eventually looping back around to the Start/Finish. Yep, add this one to the must do list.

Wasatch 100

I had the honor of pacing my friend Geoff "Ringo" Scott at Wasatch this year where he completed his 17th 100 Miler and 2nd of the 2008 season! Wasatch is an amazing course and with iPhone in hand we had a blast sending live updates from the course to the Trailheads and taking calls and txt messages of encouragement at all hours!
(excerpt from my email to the rest of the Trailheads Sept 6th)
"Ringo set off this morning on a 100 mile journey from Layton to Midway, Utah through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Wasatch Mountains. It was a beautiful start under clear, starry skies. We're far out of Hurricane Hannah's reach and the start was at a very comfortable 50 degrees and 35% humidity. With the sun rising now it's shaping up to be a spectacular day! Winds out of the South around 10 mph means it will get nippy up over 10,000 feet later tonight and we're expecting some frost, but nothing like Gumbi's recent adventure at Leadville.

The Wasatch 100 is one bad mother of a course. Just driving around the mountains here is intimidating. With over 26,000 feet of elevation gain, its no suprise that Wasatch ranks an 8.5 out of 10 on the difficulty scale (second only to Hardrock). This fills one of the few remaining holes in his Ultrarunning resume that includes 15 100 milers and Badwater 135M!

Mrs. Ringo and I will be heading out to see the Reptile at the Francis Peak aid station at mile 18.76 shortly. The plan for the day has me jumping in from mile 39.4 sometime this afternoon and pacing to mile 61.68 where Mrs. Ringo takes a turn and I get some rest. Then I pick back up around the wee(zyling) hours of the morning at mile 75 and try to keep up with him to the finish."

Ringo looked good as he came through Francis Peak, but even more impressive was Caroline Scott's crewing!

I was dying to get out on the course and mile 39 didn't come soon enough. The views from the course turned out to be even more beautiful than I anticipated. We made great time from Big Mountain Aid Station at mi 39 to Lambs Canyon at mi 53 and then put on our cooler weather gear and headlamps.

From Lambs Canyon to Millcreek 61 was some of the best night running I've done. There was a nice quarter moon, perfect temperatures and it was just magical out there with occasional city lights views of Salt Lake City.

At mi 61 I turned over the pacing responsibilities to Caroline who would get Ringo through to Brighton Ski resort around mile 75. I drove up to Brighton from Millcreek and took a short, restless nap in the back of the car.

The Wasatch course dials up the intensity in the last 25 miles. From Brighton the course heads up a steep climb over 10,000 feet. We hit the top right around dawn and it was just spectacular.

The "100 miles of heaven and hell" for Ringo came to an end after just over 34 hrs. I was exhausted after only45 miles!

I've definitely got this race on my must do list. I think the sub 24 "Royal Order of the Crimson Cheetah" is going to be tougher than the Rusty Spur though...

Monday, July 21, 2008


London has some great parks. On Thursday of last week's Europe trip I set out from the Hilton London Metropole and wound my way down into Hyde Park and then up to Regent's Park (pictured). A bit more pavement connecting the parks than I'd like, but once you get in the parks there are generally nice soft surfaces that can be found.

My original plan, on advice from Willow, was
to run around Hyde Park, then over to Regent's Park, then to Primrose Hill for a good hill, through the neighborhood of Belsize Park up into Hampstead Village, and then on to the Heath for another hill and a run through the woods. And then back in reverse. Unfortunately I ran out of time, but now I've got something to look forward to on my next trip to London.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I found a lovely park just a block from my hotel in Milan today and managed to get out for a run on crushed gravel. I have no idea what the history or significance of this park is. From the signs I gather that it is called the Giardini Pubblici Di Porta Venezia.

My original thought was to head out to Como where there are some killer hills and beautiful views, but with so little time in Milan it seemed silly to head out for a daytrip. Besides, gotta save something for next time...

Over the Alps

The visibility was spectacular on the flight from Amsterdam to Milan giving us some amazing views of the Alps. According to our pilot, Mont-Blanc is out there somewhere in this picture.

The Ultra-trail Du Mont-Blanc is run here, a 103 mile ultra with over 30,000 feet of elevation gain. Just for kicks I checked out the UTMB entry process for 2009 here.

Qualification requires a demonstration of success in trail ultras with significant elevation gains. They have an interesting point system whereby the difficulty of your qualifying runs is estimated by adding together the distance in km and the elevation gain in meters divided by 100. For example, Bighorn 100 was 161k and 5334 meters of elevation gain: 161 + 5334/100 = 214.

Qualifying runs have to score above 65 and present a significant altitude gain and/or a sufficiently technical course. Races are worth 1 point for an estimate effort between 65 and 89, 2 points for 90-129, 3 points 130-179 and 4 points beyond that. A total of 4 points is needed to qualify, which can be accumulated with multiple runs (e.g. four 1 pointers, one 4 point run, etc. I *think*), So, looks like Bighorn 100 works as a qualifier for 2009 and 2010.

After seeing it from the plane UTMB is definitely on my 5 year wish list along with Western States, Wasatch, and Hardrock!


I had a few hours in Amsterdam after a some business meetings on Monday. Not enough time to find any trails, but there are some nice old streets with lots to look at (snicker). This picture was taken in the heart of the Red Light District. Very different scene at night...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Trailheads Summer Survival Trail Running Series

The 1st run of the Trailheads Summer Survival Trail Running Series was a big success last night! We had about twice as many people as we expected - somewhere around 80. Most indicated that they had never run in the Carolina North Forest before and many were very new to trail running. As you can see from the picture, the demographics were somewhat varied, but I'd say the majority of the runners were women in their 30s.

Big thanks to Squonk for organizing this and leading off with a nice lecture on trail running, active environmental advocacy, and how running in the wilderness amplifies nature's resonance

For more information on the series see trailheads.org. What and Why of the series below...

What: Accompanied runs beginning at 5K (ish) or 45 minute duration. Comfortable pace. No runner left behind. Series culminates with a 90 minute outing with some navigational challenges thrown in for fun! Each outing will briefly kick-off with a speaker on subjects ranging from injury prevention and core building to basic gear, hydration and cross-training. Important: these outings are NOT races.

Why: Summer heat makes running challenging. Did you know that you can expect it to be 10 to 12 degrees (F) cooler on trails than pavement on summer evenings? Get to know the dirt trails in Carolina North Forest and understand trail running fundamentals that can be applied on any trail, any time of year. Learn how to run confidently and safely "out there" to more fully appreciate the importance of Carrboro and Chapel Hills' "island of trees."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bighorn 100 Report

I went out to Bighorn with three levels of goals: 1) Buckle (i.e. finish), 2) PR ( better than 27:37), and 3) a sub 24hr finish. I like this approach to setting a range of goals for ultras because anything can happen out there over the course of 100 miles and it's good to have backup goals to keep you focused in case you're feeling extraordinarily well or not so great.

The gear plan:

* mi 0-15: New Balance 790s and 2 Hand held bottles
* mi 15: Quick sock change and into the La Sportiva Crosslites
* mi 29: Sock change and pick up 1 headlamp
* mi 46: Garmin #2
* mi 49: Long sleeve wool top, nathan pack (drop hand bottles), a fresh pair of crosslites and another light
* mi 63: More socks, body glide
* mi 82: Jettison anything I didn't need (e.g. lights, warm clothes).

I almost botched this run very badly right from the start by leaving my hand bottles in the car which Elena locked before heading up the trail 1.25 miles where she would watch me come by and let me know how many folks were ahead. About 10 minutes before the start I realized the car was locked and went running up the trail to get the keys from her. Fortunately I ran into Squonk after < .5 mi and explained the situation quickly. He didn't hesitate and sprinted out to get the keys from Elena and then sprinted back to the start (~1.5 mi) opening the car with just moments to spare. That got my heart rate up and the extra .75 mi tempo run I did there was a nice warmup! I did get some strange looks from the other runners...

The start was a blur. All of a sudden we were running and I was trying to count where I was in the pack of ~120. Squonk yelled out "Go Weezyl" from somewhere and I had a good chuckle. When we got to the single track 1.25 mi later Elena yelled out 17th, which was about where I wanted to be. Everyone around me was moving pretty well and there was no real bottleneck as we hit the Tongue River Trailhead where it turned to singletrack and the climb began. From there we proceeded up the Tongue River Canyon in pretty warm temperatures. I drained my bottles quickly in the heat and was ready to refill about 5 miles in. I thought we had water stop at 6.5 but I never saw it and didn't refill until the aid station at 8.5miles. Unfortunately, I wasn't particularly well hydrated before the start either and this became a bit of a problem (I didn't pee until mi 50).

I saw Elena, Squonk and Paula again at mi 15 which came after a fast downhill into the Dry Fork Aid Station. I was running 15 or 16 back and not too far off the lead pack at this point. The first 15 miles had taken us through a tough climb with 3400' gain (up to 7500'), shown us how hot the canyons can get, and took us through some of the muddiest/snowiest mess I've ever seen. I remember saying to Elena and Squonk several times that this was a *really* hard course. I expected the early miles to slip by unnoticed, but I was already feeling beat up and had 85 miles to go.

Dehydration continued to be a problem for me through the next 15 miles. I got a little nauseous during the climb up to Riley Point at 8500' and threw up shortly after that. Lovely. I was really hoping to just cruise through the first 50 and could not believe that I was having trouble at this point in the day. Luckily I started to get back on track and piled on a bunch of 7 min miles on a big downhill section leading back into Dry Fork at mile 29, arriving in 6:10 or so.

A quick change of socks at Dry Fork, grabed my iPod (which I was reserving for emergency use) and I blasted the next 7.5 miles out to the Cow Camp aid station over muddy, rutted jeep trails with lots of stream crossings. I stopped at Cow Camp to do some preventative maintenance on the feet which had been wet for most of the day and were beginning to prune. I passed a few folks on the next section heading to Bear Camp and the really wild side of the course heading toward Footbridge. Here I met up again with a guy I had spent much of the early miles with, John Teeples of Georgia, who was running well with Kyle Amos from Kansas. We had a blast running together and talking about everything from race directing to raising kids. We ended up running together all through the night and most of Saturday.

The time went by quickly with the sun lingering just long enough to give us good light as we got down a very steep and rocky section to Footbridge at mi 46 around 9:00 pm. A quick out and back section brought us back to Footbridge and then we hit the 50 mile point around 10.5 hrs. We turned on the lights and made our way through the short solstice night running all the flats and downhills and walking the uphills at a good pace. There were a lot of tricky technical downhill sections but our lighting was good and all 3 of us were comfortable running at night. Kyle really kep the pace up here and John and I just let it flow as we passed a lot of folks who slowed down as the settled into the night.

The climb up to Bear Camp was tough but we did well for "flat landers" even passing a couple guys from Colorado here. At Bear Camp I changed socks again and rather than carry my wet ones with me, threw them on the fire there. They had served me well on many training runs and at Quicksilver 50 and this seemed like the most honorable burial I could give them.

Dawn caught up with us at 4:45 am around Cow Camp, mi 74. A quick stop for some soup and then the big climb up over Riley Point again. At this point I started thinking about the time and realized that we were probably "on pace" for sub 24hrs (whatever the hell that means with 25 miles to go). We moved well up to Riley Point and then were pleased to find that the night time conditions had frozen the snow and mud, making it much more runnable! This was the luxury of getting there quickly and many of the middle pack runners would be slipping a sliding through this section a few hours after we passed. Kyle got ahead of us by 10 mins here but John and I stuck together. We had to dig a little to ran some of the flats up at 8500' but managed to hold on and then descended into Dry Fork at 7:00am for the 3rd time at mi 82.7. That left 4 hrs to cover the remaining 17 miles for a sub 24 finish, but we had a couple more climbs to contend with and then the heat of the canyons in the last stretch.

We took off from Dry Fork at 7:06 and walked quickly up a long uphill section, running quickly when it flattened out. I found this section to be some of the most enjoyable running of the course - lots of very narrow winding single track that was just technical enough to keep you awake. We passed a couple more folks here. Then a steep climb before descending into Tongue River Canyon. We hammered the narrow rocky downhill trails here, quickly reeling in another runner, Tim Englund from WA. As we approached him we noticed he had lost a shoe in the mud near a stream crossing and was struggling to get it back on and get moving. He looked a little disappointed to be dropping back 2 places at this stage of the race (he must have been in 8th or so), so as we passed I told him we were on a mission to break 24 and encouraged him to come along. He had gotten some bad information about the distance remaining and was surprised that sub 24 was still possible. He quickly perked up and we welcomed him to our little group, exchanging information on pace and distance remaining.

We slowed down a bit as we approached the Lower Sheep Aid Station at mi 92.6 and a pack of folks joined us, including someone with a Patagonia Ultrarunning Team jersey who had been stalking us since Dry Fork (Oh that was Roch Horton! We'd been swapping positions with him and his pacer since the turnaround). Someone on the trail told us we had 10 miles remaining at this point and everyone shot forward, blowing through the aid station thinking sub 24 was going to be tight. I lingered a bit to get some mountain dew and checked my GPS which said we had 7.5 miles left. I asked the guy again and he said that yes it was really 7.5 but that he had just told the rest of the folks 10 miles! At this point I had 1:50 minutes left to come in under 24hrs and after doing the math it became pretty clear that it was in the bag. I figured I was somewhere around 12th, but within striking distance of 8th. I ran a bit farther at a good pace while doing a quick inventory of my goals, finally deciding around mi 94 that I'd be satisfied with anything sub 24. The real celebration started as I peeled off the single track at mile 95 to the cheers of the aid station volunteers there. At this point it was easy gravel roads to the finish and mild temps (later runners would face 90+ here in direct sun). I was all alone this last hour for the first time since mile 35 and it was nice to reflect on the events of the day, the training I'd put in for this, and the new friends I'd soon see at the finish.

Coming in to the finish at Scott Park in 23:42 I was greeted by cheers from Kyle, John and Tim. This was a PR by nearly 4 hrs over my 2000 Western States 100 and I hit my stretch goal. Elena and Paula showed up surprised to see me about 30 minutes later (the mark of a good run) and Squonk joined us around 7:50 after finishing up the 50 miler and taking some great pictures that are posted out here.

Results are here. In addition to getting a new 100M Buckle, I was inducted into the "Rusty Spur Club" for sub 24hr finishers and will be getting a special award in the mail any day (see picture left). The Rusty Spur Club is akin to Wasatch's "Royal Order of the Crimson Cheetah" or Uwharrie's "Organ Donor" list. A nice addition to the resume.

All in all this was an extremely well run event and one of the most beautiful locations I've ever run. Highly recommended!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The night before Bighorn

Drop bags are packed and en route to Dry Fork and Footbridge Aid Stations.

Nickel sized hail outside...

Scott Jurek

I met Scott Jurek at the Bighorn 100M Packet Pickup this evening and got some great tips on nutrition and hydration. 3 quick tips from Scott...

1: Your body needs carbs during ultras. I knew that but never knew how much. Scott says take your body weight in kilograms (divide lbs by 2.2) then multiply by .7. That's the number of grams of carbs you need per hour. Cool!!

2: Dehydration is bad, but don't panic if you're only 1-3% below your starting weight. At 4% you better be focused on getting back on track quickly, because it's a slippery slope to 5%+. At 5% you're likely experiencing nausea. A sweat test will give you a good indication of how much you need to drink. Sweat test procedures are i) weigh yourself naked, ii) run 60 minutes without drinking or urinating, iii) weigh yourself naked again, iv) Subtract iii from i. For each lb you loose that's 16 ounces of fluid you need per hour to remain at constant weight.

3: Electrolytes are key, particularly sodium. How much you need really depends on your body mass and how much you sweat. Find what works for you under different conditions (e.g. you need more electrolytes when it's hot). Be careful if you're gaining weight. Many runners will increase electrolytes at this point, but it is probably better to stop drinking until you start peeing again.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is every bit as majestic as they say it is. I'll write more later... too much going on!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Nathan HPL 020 Mods

A few modifications to my Nathan HPL 020 pack:

First, the straps -too long for me. They have been flapping around back there and driving me crazy. Easy enough to fix that by cutting them down. To keep the straps from pulling through I sewed a little fold on the ends of the straps just like the original design.

Next, the tube has been too long and I end up tucking it in to random places where it eventually works its way free. Another easy fix. I cut 6-8 inches off the end and replaced the mouthpiece.

Okay, this next one is a bit of an experiment. I sewed in a clip that the top of the bladder can attach to. Might improve the fit and flow, but also adds a little complexity to the refill process when I need to take the bladder out. The idea is that the clip will keep the bladder from sliding down to the bottom of the bag where things can get weird.

Lastly, I decided I'm going to need a little more storage space for Bighorn so I added a bungee cord to the outside of the pack. Easy to tuck in a jacket or an extra layer. I need to tinker with this one a little more... too easy for something to fall out.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Pacing MMT 100 May 17

I spent Sat evening & Sunday morning pacing fellow Trailhead Jon "Bobcat" Parker through the Massanutten Mountain 100 Miler in Front Royal, VA. This is one of the more difficult 100s with a 7.5/10 rating.

52 miles of this course (almost 20 hrs) nearly broke me. About 20 miles in I wanted my mommy, but couldn't figure out how I would get back to my car if I quit. After 30 miles the bottoms of my feet pruned from being wet so long and then all the little wrinkles blistered. Even now, when I close my eyes, I see rocks...

It was very cool being out there with Bobcat for his first 100. As far as the MMT course goes... I think this satisfied my curiosity.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

QuickSilver 50 Mile

The Quicksilver 50k and 50 mile in the Almaden Quicksilver County Park, San Jose is sandwiched between the legendary MiWok 100k and the Ohlone 50k Wilderness Run that my friend Rob Byrne directs. It's just an amazing time of year for the Bay Area Ultra scene. So many folks are in the midst of training for Western States. From conversations during and after the run I found that even those who didn't get into Western States seem to be buzzing with energy and tackling tough races nearly every weekend.

This year Quicksilver saw the largest field in its history - and wow, was it competitive. I caught several glimpses of the front runners including Graham Cooper and Ian Torrence. Graham broke his previous course record here and didn't look like he had any trouble capturing another 1st place. The race has definitely grown since I ran the 50k here in 1999, but they have maintained a great vibe with beer and bbq after the race.

I ended up 17th out of 80 finishers with an 8:28. Not where I'd like to be in the standings, but not too bad considering the back to back 100 mile weeks leading up to the race. I think there were well over >100 starters, so I was at least in the top 20%. My 50k split of 4:59 would have put me at 11th out of 96 finishers.

During the run someone told me that an 8:30 on the Quicksilver course meant you could run a 19-22 hr Western States 100. I'd like to believe that, but there are a lot of factors that would need to be accounted for in that equation! Results may vary.

There were a few hills on this course! Some really steep ones coming into the 50k finish and again at the 50M finish. The web site said 9000 ft of gain and loss, but my Garmin reported +15,352 / -15,377! The profile to the left shows the data from my Garmin. I'd have to say that overall the footing was pretty easy though, unlike some of our East Coast trails.

No problems with any of my gear and no trouble bouncing back after a nice massage and a couple days rest. All in all a great training run for Bighorn. I'm looking forward to another long run this week while pacing fellow Trailhead Jon "Bobcat" Parker out at the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100M!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Muir Woods

"This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world," - John Muir

Muir Woods is part of the National Park Service in Marin County, California, 12 miles north of San Francisco. It protects 554 acres of forested area populated by Coast Redwoods, and is one of the last remaining stands in the Bay Area along with one of my other favorites, the Big Basin Redwoods State Park where I enjoyed a great run on my last trip to CA.
Today's outing came after a long day which started with morning meetings on East Coast time and ended with many hours on the Exhibit floor at the JavaOne conference. I didn't have a hard time convincing fellow runner and co-worker Erik Kristiansen to join me. Together we ducked out of the conference with just enough time to bag another spectacular National Park.

This is the 3rd time Erik and I have gotten together for a run while traveling on business. We've covered some great trails in Edinburgh Scotland, the Red Rocks Canyon area in Nevada, and now Muir Woods. Erik was 3rd in his age group at Owl's Roost half marathon a couple weeks ago and he has run with the Trailheads a couple times. He'll be an official, named member soon!

I have to admit this was really more of a jog/walk than a run, but there's just so much to see here. Something new around every bend. There are times when it feels good to put your head down and zen out, and others when you really owe it to yourself to pay attention and "stop and smell the roses". This was definitely the later.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Marin Headlands

The Marin Headlands is a hilly area located just north of San Francisco, immediately across the Golden Gate Bridge. The entire area is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area which is famous for the stunning views of the Bay Area and the Golden Gate Bridge.

To the California trail running scene, the Marin Headlands is like Mecca. This area hosts some of the most beautiful and popular trail runs in the world, including the Miwok 100k, the Dipsea founded in 1905, and relative newcomer on the 100M circuit, the Headlands Hundred, founded last year.

I got out to the Headlands around 7:30 this morning and spent some quality time along the Miwok Trail, winding my way down into the Tennessee Valley. The Miwok Trail was named for the Miwok tribe of Native Americans who moved between the bay side of the peninsula and the ocean side seasonally, for thousands of years. There were very few people out on the trails today and at one point I found myself on an animal trail imagining I was one of the Miwoks (Indian name, "Runs with Camera").

I cut straight down through the heart of the Tennessee Valley, following a small creek which empties out into a very small cove embedded in the rugged coastal bluff bordering on the Pacific Ocean. I couldn't believe the views here and had to stop and gawk every few minutes. This area reminds me a lot of sections of the Jurassic Coast. Very diverse though. Rocky exposed ridges, lush valleys, beach...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Weekly log: April 28 - May 4

Week 2 of 6 in preparation for Bighorn 100.
  • Mon - 0 (did I mention I have a job and 3 kids?)
  • Tues - 21 (am: 11 mi; pm: 10 mi)
  • Wed - 18
  • Thurs - 13
  • Fri - 11 (had a massage with z-bow later that day and felt amazing on my long run the next am)
  • Sat - 26
  • Sun - 10.5 (4x pumpkin loops: 18:23, 18:03, 17:28, 16:02)
Weekly Total: 100 mi

Great week at home on the Carolina North Forest trails. 7 runs total vs 9 last week for the same distance. Even managed a full (unplanned) day off. Pretty consistent so far, but this coming week will get a little weird with a business trip to CA and the Quicksilver 50M Sat. I'm going to be pretty busy at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco and unfortunately may not find time to get out on the many spectacular trails around the Bay Area.

Tentative plan for week 3 is to get at least a couple descent runs in as well as some cross training in the hotel pool and weight room. Then I'll use the 50M on Sat as a good hill training run. No real goals for Quicksilver right now. I'd just like to get through it feeling strong and psychologically ready for that to be the half way point.

Qicksilver will also be a good opportunity to put 50 consecutive miles on my La Sportiva Crosslites. I'm zeroing in on these as my Bighorn shoes, but not 100% yet. I like the weight and the aggressive sole, but the NB 790 toebox is a better fit for me. Maybe I'll mix it up a bit.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekly log: April 21-27

Week 1 of 6 in preparation for Bighorn 100.
  • Mon - 11 mi (am: weights. pm: twin FF loops at 44:20 and 43:55. Focusing on neg split.)
  • Tues - 13 mi (am: 11 mi double hill workout 51, 48. pm: 2 mi recovery run)
  • Wed - 16 mi (am: 4:20 start from Seawell. 6 single track, 10 mi on pumpkin 21:03, 20:44, 20:07, 19:47)
  • Thurs - 13.5 mi (am: 5mi. Saw first box turtle of the season. pm: 8.5)
  • Fri - 10.5 mi (pm: 2 pumpkin loops at 18:10 and 17:40 followed by a FF loop at 45:10. 82+ degrees!)
  • Sat - 10 mi (am: 10 mi. 4:20 from Seawell)
  • Sun - 26 mi (pm: 17 mi single track, 10 mi gravel roads. 4 pumpkin loops toward the end: 20:55, 19:52, 19:37, 18:39. Some heavy rain toward the end that was fun.)
Weekly total: 100

Pretty solid week on the trails of Carolina North Forest. A few more miles than I've done in the past, but enjoying my time "out there" and feeling pretty good. I focused this week on keeping my pace up and negative split most runs. I'm also keeping the total number of runs per week down to 8 or 9, which is at parity with my training for Jurassic Coast Challenge. So the plan here is more miles than JCC training, but same avg pace and same number of runs. That forces some longer harder runs. We'll see how well I can maintain this strategy heading into week 2...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Elbow Cay, Bahamas

Last week of rest before the buildup for the Bighorn 100 in Wyoming! This week was also my wife's birthday and with our 10 year anniversary right around the corner we decided to celebrate with a few nights on Elbow Cay in the Bahamas.

Elbow Cay is a six-mile long cay in the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas. Originally populated by British loyalists fleeing the newly independent United States of America in 1785, it survived on fishing, boat building, and salvage but seems increasingly oriented toward tourism now. The main village of Hope Town surrounds a beautiful protected harbor with a red and white striped 120ft lighthouse built in 1863.

I somehow managed to squeeze 44 miles in between the rum drinks and Cuban cigars. Running barefoot on the sand definitely worked some new muscles! My calves sure are sore and tight. Running around the island was a great way to see some of the areas outside of town, but we got some strange looks from the locals.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

La Sportiva Crosslite

I've been on a trail shoe bender the last 12 months, trying almost a dozen pairs across brands Montrail, Inov-8, New Balance, and La Sportiva. I've mostly settled on the New Balance 790s for training and racing, but after slipping around in the mud so much at the Jurassic Coast Challenge last month I decided to add something into the rotation that would give me better traction when needed. Enter the La Sportiva Crosslite. The description is spot on:
"A featherweight racing shoe with a burly outsole for wet and muddy conditions. Features: Simple mesh upper with integral scree guard Wide-spaced lugs promote shedding of mud and grass."
The toebox may be a little too narrow for me, but I'm going to put them to the test with the upcoming Bighorn 100 training cycle and see how it goes... may need to make a few alterations.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Red Rock Canyon

I typically wind up in Las Vegas at least once a year on business. This trip I decided to rent a car and make some time to explore a bit outside of town.

I was absolutely stunned by what I found at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Red Rock Canyon is just a few miles west of Las Vegas and sits on some 197,000 acres within the Mojave Desert. It was only 20 minutes drive from the Strip, but a completely different world.

They pretty much called it like they saw it.... There is a spectacular red rock canyon that I ran straight through. Views like this really make me want to pick up a good geology book.

Supposedly there are wild horses, bighorn sheep, and wild burros roaming free but I didn't come across any. I did see a few rabbits and some spectacular wild flowers.

Over the past few years there have apparently been several efforts to develop this area. One plan even called for 8,400 houses in a master-planned community within the park. Concerned citizens got together and confronted the developers and won.