"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

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Training Log

Looking back on the mileage leading up to each of the 100s I've done in the past year or so...

wk Bighorn Moab Hardrock Cascade
1 100 32 100 45
2 100 53 100 109
3 68 12 91 10
4 85 75 64 37
5 74 38 95 66
6 60 60 67 70
7 36 67 38 58
8 21 31 45 22
race 109 115 109 110

Friday, July 17, 2009

HARDROCK 100 2009

Just a quick post to say I finished Hardrock! My goal was 35hrs and I came in with 20mins to spare in 22nd place. I'm still babbling to myself but the fits of crying and laughing are coming less frequently. In a week or so I may even be able to post a report. For now, here are 3 videos (the only ones) that I took on race day. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Grit Bit

The grit bit is an internal binary system that can be toggled on and off under the right circumstances, sometimes intentionally, but more often in reaction to some external stress. When the grit bit is off we are driven to seek comfort, familiarity, and ice cream. With the Grit Bit on we are able to lift cars off little children, saw off our own limbs, and listen to the Diane Rehm show in its entirety. To turn the Grit Bit on intentionally is of varying difficulty, depending entirely on individual differences. As a rule, the more intelligent the person, the more difficult it is to simply flip the Grit Bit on at will.

At 0600 MTN time tomorrow the grit bit will be flipped.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gold Hill 12,725

I took a short hike up 2,250 to Gold Hill above Mountain Village today. Spectacular views of the Telluride Bear Creak up to Oscar's Pass portion of the Hardrock course. I took a lunch and lounged around at altitude for a while. Captured a 360 degree video...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Kamm Traverse to the Nute Chute on the Hardrock Course

I met up with fellow Hardrocker Bob Combs around the Mineral Creek crossing yesterday and after continuing together about a mile in the reverse course direction we decided we should run point to point from KT Aid Station back to Mineral Creek crossing, mile 89.0 to 98.5 of the '09 Hardrock Course. So, that's what we did...

I took a lot of video on this section and really tried to study the lay of the land on the advice of Hardrock veterans Jim Ballard, Scott Brockmeyer and Geoff Scott. I found the trail to be well marked, but if you hit this at night and have the misfortune of having marmots or elk take out a marker or two, this could be tough. There are numerous cross-country sections where you either have to know the general direction you are going or hop marker to marker.

Here are some of my favorite videos from the day...

And links to many more videos of this section for those studying up!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bear Creek Trail Work Party on the Hardrock Course

Had a great time yesterday meeting folks and working on the famous Bear Creek Trail above Ouray at about the middle of the Hardrock Course. It seems every day I say "This is my favorite part of the course!". I really hope I can get here with enough light left to run parts of this section.

Some video from the day:

This is just majestic...

Geoff "Ringo" Scott (HRH '05 Finisher) showing me where not to step on the Bear Creek trail!

Joe Prusaitis almost scares me over the edge here...

Our trail work party led by Rick Trujillo. Here are Geoff "Ringo" Scott, Julian Jamison and 08 HRH finisher John finishing up some "cribbing"...

... and some links to more videos for those who want to see more of this section:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ophir Pass Rd to Oscar's Pass on the Hardrock Course

I made a quick trip up to Oscar's Pass from Ophir Pass Rd (reverse direction) today with Hardrock '05 veteran Geoff "Ringo" Scott. The trip up was uneventful, switching back and forth on a steep old jeep road 2.5 miles, 2500ish feet.

When we neared the top a few thunderstorms moved into the area. The first one passed off to the West but dropped the temperature considerably. Once on top we enjoyed the view of Bridal Veil Basin and crossed over to the Wasatch Saddle where we could look down on the Telluride Bear Creak. At this point another Thunderstorm came up from the South and started pelting us with very cold (near ice) rain. I was happy to switch into my rain gear, having learned my lesson on preparedness many times over during the past couple weeks.

Course markings were pretty good even in the reverse direction and someone even cut steps in the snow toward the top of Oscar's Pass and in Bridal Veil Basin. Those were awesome! I'm hoping steps will show up in Grant-Swamp Pass too. Thanks Trail Fairies!

Some video from today:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Iron Springs to Grant-Swamp Pass on the Hardrock Course

I started at Iron Springs/Swamp Canyon road yesterday with a goal of sneaking a peak at Island Lake, just over Grant-Swamp Pass. Wow. I had no idea this was one of the more challenging passes on the course - especially tough this year as the counter-clockwise direction puts us there at mile 85! I met 7 time Hardrock finisher Joe Prusatis and his wife Joyce at the top of the pass. While we enjoyed the view of Island Lake Joe gave me some sage advice... "watch out, this race can be addicting."

I took a ton of video. Here are a few of my favorites...

For those interested in seeing more of this section of the Hardrock Course:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ouray to Virginius on the Hardrock Course

I made the big climb (~5000ft) from Ouray to Virginius Mine and back yesterday in a little under 5 hrs. Basically 10 miles up, 10 miles down mainly on gravel, forest roads. A spectacular section! I stopped to take a bunch of video along the way. Here are a few videos showing what the conditions were like coming into Governor Basin...

The snow is receding from the road and it is easily passed up through the turnoff to Sydney Basin. With all the runoff, it's pretty wet right now, but after crossing Governor Basin Stream (calf high waters yesterday) your feet are going to be wet anyway...

A little further on there were a few snowfields that covered the road completely.

Then a steep snowfield where the course description indicates that we take a "short cut to meet the Virginius Mine road again after it has made a long switchback" and "climb steeply up the slope". (My first glissade experience down this on the way back... that was hilariously fun, but next time I'd like to keep the snow out of my shorts, thank you.)

And finally, standing on the Virginius Mine dump, a 360 degree view starting and ending with what I *think* should be virginius Pass. Great views of Mendota peak, St Sophia Ridge, Governor Basin, Stony Mtn...

And of course, you can see the dark clouds moving in because it is June in the San Juan's and I'm over 12k ft. I'm now 3 for 3 and this week's forecast calls for isolated or scattered T-storms every day! At least there was no lightening this time and the rain was actually pretty nice on the long run back to Ouray.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Telluride to Mendota Peak Excursion

Toaday was my first day setting foot on the Hardrock course! Of course I took pictures, videos, and collected a few momentos... I've been building this race up in my mind for 10 years now and it's just a dream to actually be here in the San Juan's. Every time I look out at the mountains I pinch myself and am reminded of the good fortune to have the means to be here and the support from my family to live out this life dream. Okay, enough with the mushy...

Started out in Telluride yesterday under partly cloudy skies with a plan to head up to the Governor Basin area. This is
the reverse direction the course takes this year and following the course description backwards (at altitude) kinda hurt my head, especially toward the top. Having skipped boyscouts as a kid, it was not until last weekend at San Juan Solstice that I learned the real virtues of being PREPARED! For this excursion I packed a day pack with rain pants, gloves, rain coat, rain hat, an extra layer and lots of fluids. The pack was a little heavier than I like to travel, but good training if nothing else! On the way up to Mendota I had the thought of putting some more rocks in my pack for a real workout, but the thought quickly passed. Day 4 at altitude and I'm still feeling it on the climbs!

I spent a lot more time looking at the map and the course description than I thought I would. I picked my way through what seemed like a few back yards in Telluride and then quickly got up to Tomboy Rd. At the Jud Wiebe trail intersection I was not sure whether to continue on the forest road or head off on some singletrack, but guessed right and stayed on the road. There was another split in the forest road higher up that was a little more of a puzzler, but again I guessed right, finally working my way up beneath Mendota Peak and Sophia Ridge. At this point I noticed some very dark clouds heading my way so I smugly changed from shorts and t-shirt into my rain gear and then took a couple short videos...

First video is 360 degrees of Mendota Peak, Sophia Ridger, Greenback Mountain, etc.

The next video is looking South back toward Telluride and the oncoming rain.

I holed up during the heavy rains in this old mine entrance. At least, I think that's what it is... from the map it looks like this was Smuggler's Mine, but not 100% sure. It was a nice hideout! After about 20 minutes the heavy rains and lightening passed by and I made my descent back into Telluride through light rains.

That's 2/3 excursions in the San Juans where I've encountered unexpected weather. I've either got to get better at tuning into the weather forecasting in this area or get used to the idea of running with a day pack.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

San Juan Solstice

I got a serious wake up call during my first adventure into the San Juan Mountains yesterday - The San Juan Solstice 50 Miler. This is one of the most scenic, challenging, and best directed races I've ever participated in. Five stars. I'm happy to have completed just 40 miles of it this year as part of my Hardrock 100 training and hope to be back some day to race it.

The day started out well, running with fellow Trailhead David "Balto" Dirito who just completed his first 100 Miler last month at Massanutten.

Then around mile 23 after being joined by another Trailhead, Adam "Dorph" Byerly, it started to snow as we passed through 12,000'.

A couple miles later around 13,000' it became dangerous. Here's some video I captured when the snow slowed for a few minutes...

We were exposed out on a 9 mile section of the Continental Divide with sideways snow that was coming down so hard sometimes it was difficult to see. Footprints from the runners ahead of us disappeared in the snow along with the trail itself. At times we had to navigate marker to marker being watchful of the sheer cliffs. Dorph and I were waaaay under dressed for the conditions and hypothermia and frost nip began to take hold. Unlike many portions of the course, there was no vehicle access here. Stopping for even a minute or two was followed by a scary drop in core temperature.

Godfather of Trailheads ultrarunning, Geoff "Ringo" Scott, wisely turned back on this section when, running alone, snow conditions got so bad he couldn't see. In hindsight, this would have been a smart choice for our party as well, but we crept on at a snails pace.

When we reached the aid station at mile 31 Dorph and I darted into a heated Yurt to warm up. Shaking uncontrollably at this point I had no intention on going any further. There were about 9 other like minded runners there huddled around a wood stove. Warm in his full body length garbage bag (drum liner), Balto quickly checked on us in the Yurt and then headed back out, eventually finishing in 13:39.

After about 1.5 hrs in the Yurt the snow stopped and I felt good enough to continue. Dorph was not so sure that was a good idea, so I headed out alone, picking up a garbage bag and borrowing gloves. The next 9 mile section was great and I made it into mile 40 well under the cut off time, but mentally I was done. Legs felt great, but I had seen enough for one day and need to keep focused on Hardrock. Better to be fresh and hungry for a deep challenge there.

I later learned that Dorph reconsidered dropping at mile 31 and set out behind me only 10 or 15 minutes after I left! He eventually finished up in 15:21!

Huge congratulations to Dorph for gutting it out and finishing. This was one of the most impressive rallies I've ever seen. And congrats to Balto on a strong showing so soon after his first 100M at Massanutten last month! And to Ringo for making a very difficult, but wise decision to "Do Nothing Fatal"!

Thanks to all the race organizers and volunteers!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Training Log: Week 5 for Hardrock

Desktop background of the week. Note to self: Stay on trail.
  • Mon: 15 miles (am: 9.5, pm: 5.5)
    Easy miles in the morning followed by stairs and weights in the afternoon.
  • Tues: 15 miles (am: 12, pm: 3)
    2 hrs of singletrack in the morning that felt effortless. Short run in the heat later in the day.
  • Wed: 8 miles (pm: 8)
    Hot mid-day singletrack.
  • Thurs: 14 miles (8.5 am, pm 5.5)
    Singletrack at good pace in the am followed by weights and stairs in the afternoon.
  • Fri: 8 miles (am: 8)
    a couple faster pace miles followed by moderate pace singletrack
  • Sat: 26 (am: 26)
    3:30 am start for 4.5 hrs total including a few stops for food/drink/conversation.
  • Sun: 9 (am: 4, pm: 5)
    Easy singletrack in the morning and a few more easy miles after dark. Multiple coyote encounters reported Sunday including one about 1hr before I started.
Total: 95 miles

Solid week. Stepping up the weights and keeping the mileage up. A little left knee soreness after Saturday's run, but nothing serious.
Next up... driving to CO today to start getting my mountain legs and lungs.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Training Log: Week 4 for Hardrock

This week my desktop background picture was sent to me by a Hardrock veteran and one of the top waitlisters for this year, Will Vaughan. It was taken from the mouth of Green Valley looking south across Cunningham Gulch. The upper right (way upper right) is the trail connecting Dives Basin and Little Giant Basin. The trail switchbacks its way down the mountainside just to the right of the “stream” in the photo. If you look closely you can make out parts of the trail. This will be the first downhill for this year's race, bleeding off 2500 ft or so. It looks rather intimidating. Having said that someone will probably send me a picture of the 5,200+ ft descent into Ouray.

I learned a new training technique this week called the "stepback week". I didn't pick up any of this great stuff as a swimmer. My recollection is that we pretty much went hard at it all year except for December when we went *really* hard and August when we surfed the whole month. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention and this week necessitated a little rest. I forced myself to sit out a couple days, caught up on sleep and cut my overall mileage ~35%. Probably could have cut a little more than that.

Here's how it broke down...
  • Mon: 10 miles (pm: 10)
    2 sets of stairs for 40 mins each. Weights - lower body.
  • Tue: 8 miles (pm: 8)
    Stairs and weights again - more upper body.
  • Wed: 18 miles (am: 18)
    First 13 felt okay but ran out of gas the last 5. Fell twice in the last mile and called it quits.
  • Thurs: 6.5 miles (am: 6.5)
    Stairs and lower body weights again.
  • Fri: REST!
  • Sat: 21 miles (am: 21 mi)
  • Sun: REST!
Total: 64 miles

Good to get some rest. This week - continued focus on stairs, weights, and higher mileage.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Training Log: Week 3 for Hardrock

Week 3 of a 9 week training cycle for Hardrock 100.

This week's Hardrock picture was comfort food. There appears to be some runnable trail in the pictures I've seen, but I don't know where they sneak it in given the elevation profile.

  • Mon: 8 miles (am: 8 mi)
    Running with Caleb and just having fun. Thought I'd get back out later for another run, but memorial day festivities caught up with me.
  • Tue: 12 miles (pm: 12)
    Drive to DC early, conference all day, then run around town... Capitol building, Lincoln Memorial, Capitol building, Lincoln Memorial, rinse & repeat...
  • Wed: 0 miles
    Great googly moogly. Work, conference, drive, work... blech.
  • Thurs: 20 miles (am: 5, pm1: 9.5mi, pm2: 5.5mi)
    Quick 5 before work, then 9.5 miles of stairs at lunch and another short run after work. Getting mileage with lots of runs... kinda like getting lots of little cards in blackjack.
  • Fri: 20 miles (am: 11mi, pm 9mi)
    11 miles before work with a group of 13 Trailheads who are training for Highland Sky, San Juan Solstice, or other events. 9 miles of stairs in the afternoon.
  • Sat: 21 miles (am: 21)
  • Sun: 10 miles (am: 3.5, pm: 6.5)
    4:30 am start hoping to get some miles before Elena's 6:30 run, but left knee was talking to me. Decided to practice walking form instead. Saw a fox. Came back after dark and felt much better.

Total: 91M

Decent mileage. A few miles short of my weekly goal and too many little runs, but really a solid week.

Next up: Focus on climbing strength - more stairs, weights. Longer long runs. More sleep...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fitting it in...

Running is really spilling over into the rest of my life lately, sometimes for the better. A couple examples...

Monday I went for an 8 mile run with my 8 year old, Caleb. This was his first adventure running beyond a mile or two and he did great! The farther we ran the faster he got (negative split by 30 mins!). I don't either of us had any idea that he could run that far, or that he would have as much fun doing it. It was really great seeing him discover this talent and I'm very proud of him. More on Caleb's blog.

Tues am I drove up to Washington DC for a 2 day conference called Capital Connection, where I got to listen to a bunch of early and expansion stage companies looking for venture capital investments. The Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, keynoted day 1 followed by former Governor Tommy Thompson and former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. Top notch! After day 1 I found a little time to weave in a run down around the Capitol.

In reality, sometimes the miles just don't fit. Tues and Thur mornings my wife runs 5:30-6:30 and I have trouble getting in any miles these mornings. Wed of this week I needed to catch up on work and focus on the business relationships that brought me to DC and I didn't log any miles for the first day in a few weeks. Now I'm looking at 4 days of 20 miles per day in order to hit my weekly goal... doable, but will it "fit" with the rest of life's balance? We'll see...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Training Log: Week 2 for Hardrock

Week 2 of a 9 week training cycle for Hardrock 100.

This week's Hardrock picture (on my desktop background) served as a reminder of the many miles of uphill hiking I need to prepare for. I was expecting to identify more with the guy in yellow here, but had a great week.

  • Mon: 13 miles (am: 6 mi, pm 7 mi)
    Felt great in the am... wondering if I dreamed the whole MMT pacing thing. Afternoon run felt progressively crappy - may have been the big pastrami sandwich for lunch!
  • Tues: 12 miles (am: 12 mi).
    Retreat to forest roads for some easier footing after the rocks of MMT. 2 sets of pumpkin loops steady 18-19 mins.
  • Wed: 4 miles (am: 4 mi)
    Didn't feel like running much. All my energy is going into figuring out how to get my family to CO for the time between San Juan Solstice and Hardrock. My mental model is *Sabbatical*.
  • Thur: 8 miles (am: 2 mi, pm: 6mi stairs)
    Work! Feeling the time and energy crunch training has put on me lately. Trying to squeeze in a few miles anywhere.
  • Fri: 24 miles (am: 12 mi, pm: 12 mi)
    Feeling well rested! Snuck out early (4:20 am) for some easy miles, then 9 miles of stairs and 3 warmdown in the afternoon.
  • Sat: 25 miles (am: 19 mi, pm 6 mi)
    Felt a little tired toward the end of the am run, but coming back in the afternoon felt great.
  • Sun: 14 miles (am: 7 mi, pm 7 mi)
    Easily the best I have felt in months. The more I run the better I feel...?

Total: 100M

Feeling much more
comfortable with a couple weeks of training behind me. No tweaks and pains, or any real soreness except for a bad toenail situation from kicking a rock at MMT. Feeling ready to run each time out.

Next up...

Try to hold onto the mileage through a busy work week.
Continue to hit the stairs and start looking for some sustained downhill. Focus on stretching and core strengthening. Continue to blend in some faster paced runs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

MMT 100 Pacing

This past weekend I paced for a second time at the Massanutten Mountain Trail 100. One day I'll actually run this race... or maybe not! The trail is really technical and slow going. In many places it is so rocky it's hard to figure out where the trail actually is! See picture...

I had a blast out there for 12 hrs pacing fellow Trailhead David "
Balto" Dirito. This was his debut at the 100M distance and did phenomenally well - 26:35 for 16th place! The weather was really rough this year - warm early in the day Sat and then thunderstorms and lots of rain throughout the evening and early morning hours Sunday. All in all just a terrific time and a great long run in preparation for Hardrock!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Training Log: Week 1 for Hardrock

Week 1 of a 9 week training cycle for Hardrock 100.

The picture here was my desktop background for week 1. I'll rotate new pictures in each week during the training cycle.

It was a little tough ramping up the miles after taking a couple low mileage weeks, but nothing too stressful and by the weekend I was feeling smooth for the long run at MMT 100. I tried to load the miles during the early part of the week and then rest a little so I would be ready for anything while pacing. Definitely sleeping more this week and focusing on getting enough protein.
  • Mon: 20 miles. (am: 12mi, pm: 8mi.)
    4:30 am start for 2 sets of loops from Seawell. Slow and comfortable. Nice temp with light rain. Afternoon was a very relaxed 1:16 Ocho.
  • Tues: 22 miles. (am: 17mi, pm: 5mi)
    3:10 in the morning all single track with the hill route in the middle. A little tired by the end. Couple pumpkin loops in the afternoon at 17:50 and 17:45.
  • Wed: 4 miles (am: 4)
    Easy 4 miles looking for the crowd around Wilson park.
  • Thurs: 5 miles (am: 5)
    Couple pumpkin loops and warmdown.
  • Fri: 6 miles (am 6)
    Freaky Friday plus a little. A little amped after taking it easy the last couple days.
  • Sat: 43 miles (MMT pacing)
    12 hours on feet and some challenging technical trails at Massanutten Mountain Trail 100. Felt great! Mini taper worked fine.

Total: 100M

Happy to be running right now and enjoying the hard work. I've literally been thinking about this race for 10 years and will not blow it now by failing to prepare!

Next up...

Feeling pretty good right now and expecting to plateau here for the next couple weeks. I think this week I'll work my climbing muscles a little more. Noticed at MMT that a 1000' climb felt like a big hill... need to adjust my views there!

My feet were pretty beat up after the wet conditions at MMT too. Need to start toughening them up a little more this week too (don't ask).

It seems a little strange to prepare so vigorously for a race that I only hope to finish. I'll work on some stretch goals this week too... right now I have no idea what place or time I should expect.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Matt Hart's Ultrarunning Video

This pretty much sums up my love of trail ultra running, particularly the Western variety.

As Matt puts it, "for me this is simply about putting my passion on display in hopes you will catch the bug. My goal is to simply inspire you to run trail... period."

UltraRunning from Matt Hart on Vimeo.

Red Rock Canyons 2009

Another great trip to Red Rock Canyon during this year's IBM IMPACT conference.

This year I lead a group of 12 other IBMers on a 2 hour tour of the area including a great jaunt right down the canyon floor. This is by far my favorite section of the Red Rock Canyon - it's about 10 degrees cooler and some light climbing is needed to get through some sections!

More to explore here, but that will have to wait until my next trip to Vegas!

Monday, March 30, 2009

2nd place at Moab 100!

Running 100 miles is hard. The End.

(report added 4/2)


I flew out to Utah this past weekend and got 2nd place in the Moab 100M in 21:58! I was hoping to break 20 hrs but the course was a lot harder than I expected (literally *harder*, lots of slickrock). Elevation gain was about equal to the Umstead 100 (~8,000 ft) and presented a mix of dirt roads, slickrock (~40%, which about killed me), and sections of deep sand referred to affectionately by the locals as "cat boxes". The course was 18 loops (!) and a short out and back to equal an even 100 miles. Clockwise, counterclockwise, rinse, repeat…

Long version... (unedited. seriously, you don't want to read all this.)
The Moab 100 was kind of a strange race choice for me. It was a long way to go from NC and a whirlwind trip for a lesser known 100 with no buckle. There was definitely some appeal in seeing a new place and the possibility of a course record if none of the ringers showed up (one did), but ...a loop course, hours away from the nearest airport? Something drew me there that I couldn't explain until the night before.

A couple days before the race I settled on 4 levels of goals. First goal is always to finish, then sub 24, course record 23:30, and sub 20. The race plan was for sub 20 by averaging 10 min miles the first 50 and then letting that drift up to 12 avg and try to sneak in under 20.

Fri 4:20 am: Alarm goes off, but it's a mistake because I only get up this early to run on Saturdays. Wait, I have a early flight. Get up, shower, pick up dad and drive to airport.

Fri 5:45 am: The 6 am flight to Chicago checks in full and no standby passengers get on. (my Dad and I are flying standby using his tickets [he was an United pilot, but would want me to say he did 3 tours in 'Nam flying F4s and that napalm is, like, the coolest thing ever. My mom has WHOLE different perspective on this.]).

Fri 8:15 am: The 8:30 flight to Chicago also checks in full. This is reminding me of the family trip we took to Hawaii when I was a 8 where we were flying standby and ended up camping out in our Winnebago on an Air Force base in So Cal for 3 days instead of going to Hawaii. I got a really cool face mask and flippers out of the deal, so, there. (What the hell kind of race report is this?) Luckily I'm 38 instead of 8 and I've got a real job and 75k frequent flier miles on American to show for it, so I haul my priority status over to the American counter and hoped a 9:30 flight through DFW [seriously, when I die, if there is a heaven, and I don't think there is {we're all worm food}, I fully expect my soul would need to go through DFW to get there).

Fri 9:25 am: Before the doors close I quickly book a room at the Moab Days Inn since Dad was supposed to bring the tent and other misc camping stuff for us to camp at the Race Start and he's obviously not going to make it.

Fri 5:15 pm: Pick up rental car in Salt Lake City, set GPS coordinates for Moab. Garmin: "that's 4:15 mins drive time." Me: "I can do it in 3:30 you sissy."

Fri 6:00: Oh, there's a Wal*Mart... Styrofoam cooler, ice, nutter butters, 2x8 packs of mini Gator-Aid bottles, bananas, Turkey sandwich, Pringles, chocolate chip granola bars, 6 pack of mini-cokes (saved life later), Subway foot long cold cut combo. Pack everything up in the cooler in the trunk which miraculously stays upright, wedged between two rollerboards while I drive fast and swervy the next 200 miles.

Fri 7:05 pm: Crap, I was thinking about the run and missed my turn 16 miles ago. U-turn.

Fri 8:00 pm: Crap, forgot sunblock and a plastic bin to stash my extra clothes and misc. drop-bag stuff. Ok, there's a K-Mart...

Fri 8:20: AM 700 briefly mentions that Carolina is leading Gonzaga but doesn't mention anything else about it during the next hour as they fade to static.

Fri 9:00ish: I'm tense and have a real what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here moment as I make my way toward this Moab place. This is my free time. Why am I doing this? I'm tired already. Is this supposed to be fun? The best I come up with is that, no it's not fun, it's something different, something more meaningful. It's an expression of free will in a life that sometimes feels like a long line of dominoes someone else has set up. I try to relax a little and enjoy that part of the experience, but it's still hard. It's supposed to be. The idea that tomorrow will be a competition diminishes the moment and seems out of place and oversimplified. The competitive part is easier to grasp though and a little comforting at some base level. There's something about chasing and fleeing that is a deep seated and immutable part of the human experience. It holds some of the same inveterate appeal that a good fire has.

Fri 10:00 pm: Sheesus, the Days Inn is a total dump. Dad calls to say Carolina beat Gonzaga. All is right in the world.

Fri 11ish: I should probably sleep.

Sat 6:00 am: Find race start and check in. "Oh, you're the guy from Carolina?" Yup.

6:50 am: Race Briefing.... 18 loops alternating directions and then a 3 mile out and back for anyone still standing. Someone else in the crowd asks, "What's the capitol of Belgium?" That was random, I think. Brussels, right?

7:03 ish am: Sun comes up. So... Moab is in a desert. I wonder if there are snakes. Where did all these people come from? 3, 2, 1... Go! Start running.

7:04: Wait, where's my water bottle? Crap, not again. At least it wasn't locked in my car like at Bighorn 100 last year. I turn around and pick it up and join the back of the pack (which was a little like a leper colony). Spend next 5 minutes weezyling through the crowd to settle in with a really nice guy named Stan about 5 back. Stan reminds me that I need to book a room in Silverton for Hardrock if it's not too late.

7:25 am: Cruising up behind someone who is moving really well down the first
section of slickrock. Me: This is going to suck at mile 80, eh?. Other guy (Duncan Callahan): Ha ha. Yeah it is! Which event are you doing? (there is a 24 hr, 12 hr, and several team competitions going on all at the same time, same course. I never really figured out how to tell who was doing what but the solo 100 milers all had red numbers in the 300s). Me: The solo 100. How about you? Duncan: Me too. Me: Got a time in mind? Duncan: Well I'd love to hold 10 minute miles, we'll see. (I thought he was kidding) How about you? Me: Well, I've got a noon flight out of Salt Lake (basically I better be under the course record to make the flight). Duncan laughs and there's a brief moment where he reminds me of Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday... "I'm your Huckleberry". More banter ensues over next 20 miles, during which time it becomes obvious that A) Duncan is one heck of a nice guy, and B) He's going to crush this course. He asks his crew to hook me up with whatever I need the rest of the day and they diligently check on me every loop. Awesome! During the course of our conversation Duncan mentions that he ran Leadville last year.... I looked him up in the results when I got home... oh jeez, he won it!! I totally should have gotten an autograph!

Okay, switching from timeline to looptime. Some splits for the first half (5.37 mi loops + the aid station time all according to my watch)...
1) 48:58
2) 48:32
3) 47:46
4) 51:44
5) 54:13
6) 59:26
7) 59:44
8) 1:00:00
9) 1:00:04

8:10 at the 48+ mi, 10 min mile average, but slowing.

Loop 10: 1:18:56 (including a long pit stop before starting the 2nd half). Coming into the turnaround I see some people cheering for me... 3 dogs... all labs. Brown, Black, Yellow. RINGO?! Yes, my friends Ringo and Cari show up out of the blue. They're like real world Guardian Angels. Cari crews like an absolute pro. Of course she does... her ultra crewing resume is as distinguished as Ringo's ultra running resume (Ringo is aka Geoff Scott, has run something like 15 of the hardest 100s including Wasatch and MMT last year and after turning 60 this year completed the New Zealand Ironman).

Loop 11: 58:01 Behold the power of Coca-Cola and CEP compression socks! (NFI)

Loop 12: 1:06:46 Still feeling good. Ringo remembers that I liked grilled cheese sandwiches while pacing him at Wasatch and he offers to pick some up for me in town. He and Cari braved the Moab Dennys to get the grilled cheese. Cari was amused by someone with a mullet.

Loop 13: 1:11:03 Sun sets and out come the headlamps and warmer clothes. Lows were somewhere in the mid 30s with some weird patches that are much colder than others.

Loop 14: 1:15:26 75 miles in 14 hrs... about 11 min mile average. The pace really slows from here. This is the end of the real running phase. The downhills are all slickrock which is harder than concrete and uneven. It would be very easy to tumble and I'm seriously feeling it in the knees. It's freaking dark too . There is the tiniest sliver of a moon I've ever seen that winks out behind the canyon wall.

Loop 15: 1:25:02 Running down the slickrock starts to really bother my port side knee. I don’t want to lose any training time recovering from an injury with Hardrock on the horizon. I start walking down sections I bounded down earlier.

Loop 16: 1:39:26 Ringo jumps in to pace! Me: I'm going to take it slow. Ringo: Fine by me! We have a nice walk and I learn about the potential of the economy rebounding in 2009 and the intricacies of Hardrock, Barkley, and how the Telluride real estate market is tanking the town's budget (Ringo is not only an endurance badass, he’s a brilliant private investor). The Stars are absolutely amazing. At the end of the loop I say goodbye to Ringo and Cari who begin their 3 hr drive back to Telluride. 2 more loops? Sure, why not? It's a beautiful night.

Loop 17: 1:44:04 Blech, that's about as slow as I thought it could be done. Slower than my first two loops put together! But walking those downhills is safer and I suck up my pride. I do some star gazing and wander around feeling increasingly content and tired.

Loop 18: don't know the split because the stopwatch function on my Nike Bowerman Series watch doesn't go beyond 19:59:59. This lap was slow. I saw Duncan heading to the finish when I was beginning this loop and congratulated him. What a run!

Bonus 3 miles: I sit down to empty the sand out of my shoes and find total enlightenment. The stars are poignant... was the last thing I remember thinking before nodding off. Someone wakes me up as they pass by and I forget the meaning of life and decide to finish this thing up.

Sun 5:02 am: The Finish! Me: "Number 423. I'm done." (No fanfare, no cheering... RD
(later found out this person was not the RD) (enters the time and goes back to sleep.)

Sun 5:25 am: After packing the car I said my goodbyes and thanked the volunteers that are still awake. Woke the RD
(actually, not the RD) to check on my finish time ("ugh, you finished at 5:02, ugh, one, two...in second place. Cool."). Told them I had a flight to catch and would miss the awards ceremony ("ugh, okay"). Grabbed a cup of coffee and got back on the highway heading north to Salt Lake City International Airport wondering if I dreamed it all…. no buckle, no medal, the t-shirt says something about 24 hr runs in Laramie, Moab and somewhere else... but the coffee is great and I’m feeling pretty good about going the distance again. (update 4/4: Apparently I didn't dream the whole thing! I got a nice note from the RD, Reid Delman, congratulating me on the run. He was not the person wrapped up in the sleeping bag keeping track of the results and offered to send me the medal! What a guy!).

Sun 6:30 - 7:00 am: Coffee wears off and I pull over for short nap.

Sun 9:00 ish am: Pulled off the highway and dumped a gallon of water over my head and tried to pretty up for the flight home. This had the effect of waking me up, but did little to pretty me up. I’m still wearing the compression socks at this point. No, I don’t have a financial interest in them!

Sun 9:00 pm: Home at last and I finally take the compression socks off and take the best hot shower of my life.

Okay, that's it. The End. I told you not to read all that crap

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Moab 100 2008 Pictures

Last week I couldn't imagine feeling good enough to run 100 miles. With a little taper this week I'm starting to think it sounds fun! The pictures look pretty tame...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

100 M Difficulty Ratings

This is pretty cool... Gary Wang's difficulty ranking of 100 milers using Western States as a benchmark:

Hardrock---------------...1.55 (registered 2009)
Wasatch Front----------...1.17 (paced 2008)
Bighorn----------------...1.12 (completed 2008)
Massanutten------------...1.11 (paced 2008, waitlist 2009)
Angeles Crest----------...1.08
Superior Sawtooth------...1.06
Cascade Crest Classic--...1.05 (registered 2009)
Leadville Trail--------...1.03
Western States---------...1.00 (paced 1999, completed in 2000)
San Diego--------------...0.99
Rio Del Lago-----------...0.93
Haliburton Forest------...0.91
Mohican Trail----------...0.90
Javelina Jundred-------...0.89
Old Dominion-----------...0.88
Arkansas Traveller-----...0.88
Kettle Moraine---------...0.88
Umstead----------------...0.81 (paced 2000)
Rocky Raccoon----------...0.81

Monday, February 9, 2009

Uwharrie 40M 2009

Whew! A quick post on the Uwharrie Mountain Run 40 Miler this past weekend...

After my first DNF here last year (followed by a solo rematch) I finally feel good about this race! I passed through in 6:37 this time for my first podium finish in 3rd place. I felt a little twinge when I slipped to 3rd in the last couple miles after having spent half the race in 2nd, but I think that was only due to the team competition and sense that I was somehow letting my fellow Trailheads down.
My racing philosophy is neatly aligned with George Sheehan's observation that "It's very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit."

My Garmin data is up on Motionbased here. Definitely more slowing than I wanted in the 2nd half, but had a great time running fast with my new friends Ronnie Weed and Byron Backer the first half of the race (3:01 at the turn).

Best part of the race? Camping out with the Trailheads the night before! That deserves it's own post...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hardrock 2009

I got accepted into Hardrock! I'm still in shock and sorting out my thoughts. Here are some of the things running through my head...
  1. Holy Crap, what have I done?
Yeah, that's pretty much it.

A picture is worth 1000 words, so I updated my blog header picture with one of Island Lake taken from the Hardrock course.

With ultras an elevation profile is worth about 50,000 words.

Here are some of those words from the 2008 Runners Manual (69 pages!):
"The HARDROCK 100 is a mountain run that passes through some of the most beautiful and rugged mountains in the world."

"The course is designed to provide extreme challenges in altitude, steepness, and remoteness."

"Elevation changes range from a high of 14,048' to a low of 7680'. The total vertical climb and descent, accumulated while crossing thirteen ridges over 12000' in elevation, is about 66,000 feet."

"Animal life is abundant."

"This is a dangerous course! In addition to trail running, you will do some mild rock climbing (hands required), wade ice cold streams, struggle through snow which at night and in the early morning will be rock hard and slick and during the heat of the day will be so soft you can sink to your knees and above, cross cliffs where a fall could send you 300 feet straight down, use fixed ropes as handrails, and be expected to negotiate the course with or without markers."

"Feel free to include any specialized equipment such as ice axes, crampons, snow shoes, or skis that you are willing to carry between drop bag stations as part of your paraphernalia."

"This is a "post graduate" run, and not just a harder or higher version of some other trail hundred miler."

"Mountaineering, wilderness survival and wilderness navigation skills are as important in this event as your endurance."

Holy Crap, what have I done?

Sunday, January 11, 2009


It's been a bit hectic with the holidays and preparation for the 4th Little River Trail Runs, but finally coming up for air and posting on a few things.

Closing out the 2008 log it looks like I made it to 2812 miles. That's roughly the distance from Chapel Hill to San Francisco, which some people will do in the span of a few months. A bit short of my 3k goal, but 850 miles better than 2007 and 2534 better than 2006 when I was just coming back to the sport. Avg # of days run per week was 4.91 this year, but there were a lot of 2x per day runs during peak weeks.

Update on Race schedule for 2009:
  • I'm 59th on the Massanutten 100 waitlist. Not looking good there, so I may fly out and do the Moab 100 in March. I'd like to get another one under my belt soon (or on my belt... not sure if they award buckes).
  • Hardrock 100 application is in and the lottery is Feb 1st. Not good odds as it's my first year in the lottery there.
  • San Juan Solstice 50M registration opens next week at 2:59 am next Thurs and typically fills in a couple hours. I'm confident about getting into that one and have plans to spend about a week in Telluride with Ringo and a big group of Trailheads.
  • Cascade Crest 100 applications go in the mail Feb 9th. Should get into that without any trouble.
  • In the mean time, Uwharrie 40 is around the corner and I'm on track for a decent performance there I think.