Saturday, May 14, 2016

Paiute Meadows 50k - 4th place

Susanville Ranch Park at the Start
Christine Birch recently moved back to Boise after several years in Susanville, CA and invited me to join her at a 50k that was held literally in her back yard.  The Paiute Meadows 50k starting line was just a few houses down from where she used to live.

This small local race has been going on for over 20 years but was just a 4.5 mile fun run at the base of Susanville Ranch Park that has a wonderful trail system.  This year they added a trail half marathon and a 50k.  We drove down from Boise Friday after work, which was a pretty long day but the race didn't start until 7am so we still got a decent night of sleep.

On the way down there I was looking at the map and aid station chart trying to get a feel for where the difficult parts were.  I was also trying to see how much fuel/water I needed depending on how far apart they were.  Since Christine had run everything many times I asked her if I was super motivated could I run the entire thing.  She said it would be possible if I paced myself appropriately.  It does have some pretty stout uphill sections in the second half but I just planned to put it in low gear and grind up the hills.

Great shot from the beginning of the course
PC: DeeAnn Kirk Goudie
At the start we were debating taking a jacket or keeping a long sleeve.  I ditched my jacket but kept my long sleeve and gloves.  The course returns to the start at around mile 14 so I figured I could ditch them then.  We took off across the meadow and meandered through the pine bed forest that is actually quite similar to Idaho with the ponderosa trees and wispy grass.  Christine and I stayed together for about a mile and then we spread out.  I was running near her friend Robert for the first 5 or 6 miles.  I was ahead and we chatted briefly and then he jumped in front and said he was going to lead for a bit which sounded good to me. He was out of sight within a few minutes and I stuck to my 'go all day-don't go out too fast' pace which has taken some time to dial in.

Between mile 10 and mile 19 we were blending in with the half marathon and 4.5 mile runners which was nice. It had essentially been a solo run to this point so it was nice to see people.  It was also a nice place to feel strong because the terrain was fairly easy and I was cruising past the shorter distance runners. There are a few spots through there where the 50k runners do side shoots that the shorter distances don't so I ended up passing the same group of people 3 or 4 times which was funny. Nice to see you again!

After going through the start/finish aid station we headed up the meadow and then towards a section the locals have dubbed Heart Attack Hill.  When I was looking at the map I thought I would hike this to conserve energy and when I got to what I thought was Heart Attack I hiked...for about 50 yards, until I realized it wasn't that hard.  What I didn't realize was I wasn't there yet! I was on the easy section before it.  After my short hike break I decided I was going to run every step from there to the end outside of the aid stations.  Once I did get to Heart Attack Hill it WAS a good climb but nothing I haven't trained on around here.

The half marathon runners turn back to the finish around mile 19 in the 50k so after that point it was a true solo to the end.  I only saw one other runner and that was Robert around mile 23 when I passed him.  The upper trails are contoured and banked for mountain bikes which was really fun. They often come close but don't overlap so I thought I saw him around mile 20 and was sure he would be right around the next corner but it was just one of those places where we were close even though I was at least a mile behind.

Mile 26.5 aid station
The race has a real nice 5 mile downhill cruise to the finish which I was looking forward to.  I thought I was done with the last climb when I was at 24.5 miles and a volunteer reminded me that I had one more to go before the final descent started just after mile 26.  I was kind of bummed because I was shooting for a 5 hour finish and in my head I knew I would have to absolutely blow the doors off to even have a chance.  So, my mantra from there to the end was, you'll never know if you don't try!  

The funniest moment of the day was at the mile 26.5 aid station. The 3rd place guy was way ahead so the aid station was excited to see someone. This lady is cheering and ringing a cowbell (which was awesome) but the guy behind the table couldn't hear me when I asked if he had S-Caps....what?!? You want Ass-Caps? Not sure we have those, what is it? (He probably thought I was going to poop my pants) SALT! Oh, right here...most people dip a potato and.... While he is saying this just grabbed a bunch with my hand and stuffed it in my mouth. As I'm leaving I heard him say, OR you can do it like that. I thanked them and was out with a smile.

I covered the last 4 miles or so at roughly an 8:30 pace which isn't blazing fast but blazing fast for me at that stage of any race that has over 4,000 feet of climbing and tons of technical rocky sections.  I ran the last 8/10 of a mile at 7:35 pace which was my fastest split of the day.  It felt really good to nail the early pace that allowed me to have fun all day and run hard at the end.  I finished in 4th place in a time of 5:07.  Robert was the next finisher after me and Christine was the women's winner with a time of 5:36.

We had fun catching up on the day at the finish and tasting some of the finest local brew from Lassen Ale Works.  Overall the course was beautiful, interesting, rocky, and well marked. It felt like the perfect combination of fun and difficult.

I used Vespa and Tailwind Nutrition the whole way and only supplemented my 600 calories of Tailwind with several potato chips and a half of a cup of Heed.  I felt solid all day.  I wore the Pearl iZumi Trail N2 shoe and the Fly Endurance short that has the perfect pockets to hold the gel flasks for my Tailwind powder.  Thank you Tailwind and Pearl iZumi for supporting my craziness!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Boise Spring Run 10k

This must be the year of 3rd place for me! I got 3rd at the Run 4 Luv 5k, 3rd at the Buffalo Run 100 miler, and most recently 3rd at the Boise Spring Run 10k on Saturday. I would like to thank all the fast guys for staying home at each of the races! It should be noted that I was 5th overall on Saturday because I got smoked by 2 super fast ladies.

After my impromptu HR test on Friday I knew I wouldn't have gas to run race pace for the half so I did the 10k so I could just run hard.

Speed stomach felt like it was about the size of a nickel at the end from running so hard. Too bad too because the food looked good. Course was long so I lapped my watch at 10k with a time of 42:05.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Garrick's recap of Buffalo Run

Now that I'm coherent and have had time to digest the weekend, figured I'd say a little something.
First and foremost, thank you Ryan for asking me to share this journey with you and having the confidence in me to not fail, all while knowing I had never ran 50 miles up to that point. And thank you Michelle for showing me what crewing is all about and while out with Ryan, making sure I was getting myself taken care of and that I'd have what I needed for the next aid stations.
Going in I knew this would be a huge learning curve and I wanted to be a sponge and soak it all in. I knew I'd hurt, I knew I'd be tired, but also knew whatever I was feeling Ryan had been feeling for hours and hours longer.
I learned a ton about patience needed to make it through long miles. Learned a lot about knowing when to walk but to keep pushing on, keeping momentum going but getting the necessary rest. I learned a ton about being efficient in and out of aid stations, making sure you are getting the necessary nutrition and fluids to have the energy to push no matter how much you don't want to shove another gel, cookie, banana or whatever in your mouth. I learned a ton about having a plan, setting goals to keep you on track and making things easier on your crew because their job is hard enough as it is. The list goes on and on.
The emotions that go through a 100 miler are real, but Ryan was smiles all day and all night! It was a huge inspiration watching him pushing through, fighting yet having the time of his life. Like I told him somewhere around mile 95; "I fully expected my shoulder and back to be hurting me right now, but in all actuality they are the ONLY things that don't hurt! But my face hurts the most from this huge grin I've had, this has been an absolute blast!! Thank you for bringing me along!"

Saturday, March 19, 2016

My N=1 Experiment - 2016 Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 miler – 3rd place

(March 2014)....I have been pondering what I might say in a race report after the Buffalo Run 100 miler on Friday.  Since I did the race last year the report will undoubtedly be a lot different.   I have always hated when ultra runners tell newbies, 'We are all an experiment of one,' which by all accounts is true.  The useful information an answer like this provides however, is absolutely nothing!  The reason I asked the question in the first place is because I want to know what YOUR 'experiment of one' looked like so I can start trying some things.  Anyway, I have approached training a bit differently this year and have been doing some things different hoping to see some different results.  Either way, I'll be back to report on MY experiment of one so I can continue to figure out what does and does not work for me. 

The goal this year is to break 20 hours. 

I wrote this during taper week before running the Buffalo Run for the second time.  I ran 20:06 that year and could see the finish line when my goal time came and went.  It was a wonderful day and I had a great experience with Michelle crewing and Christine Birch pacing.  Sadly in the time following the race I never did sit down and write a race report.  When everything goes as planned race reports are pretty boring.

…fast forward to 2016.  Everything went better than planned so hopefully this won’t be terribly boring.  I finished the race in 18:51 which was a 1:15 minute improvement over 2014.  This is a 2 loop course so I am always interested in the first half versus second half split over the same terrain.  Comparing the two times provides an objective determination of not going out too fast for my fitness level, proper pacing, and mental toughness to keep pushing through the dark hours all the way to the end.  This year I left the 50 mile aid station 8:42 into the race and did the second 50 miles in 10:09.  Since race day this year felt much easier than both previous runs on this course I want to focus on WHY it felt that way.

By far the number one reason for my improvement was my diet in the months leading up to the race.  On January 4th I went for a lunch run at work and checked my weight on the medical grade scale we have at work. It wasn’t terribly shocking to me when it revealed I was officially in the Clydesdale division at 202.5 pounds.  November and December seems to be my throw everything I know about health and nutrition out the window, eat lots of garbage food, and exercise less because it is so stinking cold outside phase. Rest and recovery from a long year is important but no excuse to eat everything in sight.

Thankfully I have had success losing weight in the past simply by cleaning up my diet and continuing to exercise at a normal level so I felt like it would be manageable to get into shape by race day.  The horrible thing is dropping weight cuts into serious training time so if I can avoid the holiday binge and bulge I would be starting at a much better spot (next year).  I started to get serious with miles and began eating more thoughtfully using the diet that worked for me in the past.  That contained probably 60% carbohydrate, 15% fat, and 25% protein.  Mostly whole foods, plenty of fruits / vegetables, and lots of bread and pasta to keep my energy levels up.  In the past I have used lots of Splenda in otherwise healthy foods just to sweeten them up.  The sweet taste, even though it doesn’t contain calories, seemed to stimulate my hunger and cravings for sweeter foods too.  Artificial sweeteners have their own negative side effects and are not just calorie cutters.

By January 24th I had lost 5 or 6 pounds which was solid progress for roughly 3 weeks.  On that day, I stumbled across Jeff Browning’s blog report of his win at the HURT 100 in Hawaii. (Hurt Race Report)  Jeff explained how he adopted the OFM (Optimized Fat Metabolism) principles as a way to improve his race day performance.  He is 44 years old and has been running ultras since 2001 at an elite level so I imagine he has tried everything in the book too.  In the post he says he started following this new style of eating 7 weeks prior to HURT and when I found the blog post I was about 8 weeks out from the Buffalo Run so I figured I would give it a shot.

For those that know me, they will know that I am an experimenter, a tester, a tinkerer, and a numbers nerd in training.  On race day all that goes right in the garbage and I just keep moving forward.  I often ask Michelle at aid stations how I am doing and she will tell me to look at my watch with a puzzled look on her face.  I make a detailed pace chart (mostly for pacers and crew) and wear a watch the whole way and often have no idea how I am doing because I don’t look at either of them.  When I qualified for Boston I had a solid training plan that got me the result I wanted and then when I ramped up training for Boston several months later I used a plan that was 100% different.  Michelle asked me why I didn’t just use the original plan that got me there and my reply was...where is the fun in that?  This is just one big science experiment to me and over time I have whittled down what works and what doesn’t.  When something doesn’t work I am always prepared to accept  total epic failure, which happened at the Lake Lowell Marathon 2011 (pacing) and Wasatch 2015 (over thinking the heat) to name a couple.

Switching up the diet, race day nutrition, and electrolyte intake felt like I might need to be prepared for total epic failure…Maybe.

So the OFM plan, as I saw it, was pretty simple.  I ate limited carbs and trained my body to utilize fat for fuel.  By limited I mean between 100 grams and 150 grams per day.  This isn’t a crazy low Atkins type diet where you get 25 grams a day and have to avoid all fruit and some vegetables.  I roughly ate the same calories as before but just swapped the carbs for fats.  My macronutrient levels were around 20% carbohydrate 60% fat and 20% protein. My energy levels were constant without insulin spikes and crashes from grains and sugars.  Recovery from harder workouts was better since I was removing a number of foods that cause inflammation.  Once my body was learning to utilize fat for fuel I didn’t feel like I got to the ravenously hungry stage like I do when I was burning up all my blood sugar on my daily runs.

The way I trained my body to utilize fat for fuel was to run aerobically almost all the time.  At this lower intensity fat can more easily be metabolized.  Over time your aerobic pace increases at the same intensity.  Running above the aerobic pace will just burn more and more blood sugar.  I started all of my weekday runs fasted in the morning and never took calories during the run.  Once I finished I would go to work and then have a regular breakfast afterwards.  My body was now required to access fat for energy and not just burn the breakfast in my stomach.  On long runs I would just take water and electrolytes for the first several hours to kick start the fat burning and then use Tailwind manage my energy levels after that.  During the initial transition it sucked because my body was going through chemical withdrawals from lack of sugar but I knew it would pay dividends if I could stick with it.

The weight continued to fall off through February and early March.  I was feeling awesome and getting in some big miles at the same time.  Usually losing weight means being in a calorie deficit and feeling deprived and run down.  I felt completely the opposite.  I had more energy than I have had in a long time and I was excited to get out and get the training done every day. By race day I had lost over 25 pounds.  The week of the race I cut the exercise back to nearly nothing and continued to eat the exact same diet right up until race morning. 

The Wednesday before the race I contacted Mike Shuman at Shu’s Idaho Running Company and he gave me a deal on some Vespa.  Vespa is supposed to promote fat burning so I figured I would go ‘all-in’ on this crazy science experiment.  I have used Vespa at races in the past when I had a good result (Western States 2014 and Buffalo Run 2014) but I never had the diet to go with it in the months leading up to race day.  When your body is trained to utilize fat through your normal daily diet Vespa is much more effective so I wanted to test that too.  Mike contacted Peter Defty at Vespa and Peter sent me an email with some guidelines on how to use it most effectively.  Essentially take one 45 minutes prior to race start and hold off on taking calories for up to 2 hours to get your fat burning in high gear.  After the initial 2 hour window, fuel as needed and take a Vespa every 2-2.5 hours.  I diluted the concentrate into a 10 ounce water bottle at hour 2 and slowly consumed it over 30 minutes.  I repeated this every two hours during the race.

Not consuming calories in the beginning was where I was sure the total epic failure would start.  It seems reasonable in training long run but to start a race that will take most of a day with no calories, hmm?  This goes against everything I have ever done in a race but I was committed to the process and followed it.

Aside from the change in eating and weight loss the other thing that helped me was cross-training.  Every year I say I am going to cross train and every year I don’t.  I was committed to making this the year.  I signed up for the St Luke’s Weight Loss Challenge this year for a little motivation.  People who lose 5% of their body weight and keep it off for a whole year are eligible for a ‘Keep It Off’ cash prize next year.  I have been volunteering at the challenge kickoff every year since 2011 and never thought to enter myself since I don’t have much to lose.  While I was there this year I signed up for Idaho Athletic Club for 20 bucks a month.  My cross-training has consisted of spin class several times a week for an hour usually followed by the stair climber (which is a total ass kicker) for 30 minutes and then sitting in the dry sauna at 185 degrees.  The sauna is partly just relaxing, partly teaching my body how to sweat efficiently, and mostly mental training.  I also went to an occasional yoga class and did body weight workouts at home (push up, sit up, squats, lunges, planks, and chair dips).

My race day nutrition plan was 200 calories of Tailwind per hour and 1,000mg of sodium per hour. 200 calories of Tailwind had 606mg of sodium so I supplemented with S-Caps to get me to 1,000mg.  I think in past races I was not getting enough sodium and I also sweat more than any other human being I know except maybe Dave McKinnon.  I took several V-Fuel gels or Honey Stinger waffles with me throughout the day to help me get between longer aid station stretches and washed them down with a small bottle of straight water.  At aid stations I took several bananas, a few cups of ginger ale and coke, and potato soup at mile 70.  Twice on the course Michelle made me a bacon avocado pepper jack cheese tortilla wrap which was amazing.  The first time I took it I took a big bite and the tortilla was too much so I licked all the good stuff out and tossed the tortilla.  The second time I didn’t even bother with trying the tortilla.  I just sucked up the middle and pitched the tortilla again.

Race morning was typical compared to my other experiences there.  The race starts at noon and the sun was shining with a cold breeze blowing.  I tried to stay in my jacket as long as possible because I knew I would be taking it off at the start.  Michelle, the all knowing, always reminds me that no matter how cold I feel at the start I will be hot 5 minutes later and then be grouchy that I had to carry a jacket for 20 miles.  Today was no exception.

The cruise up to the first aid station was a bit of an eye opener.  I found myself running more uphill sections than I normally have in the past but with a controlled effort level.  I chatted and ran with Jeremy Suwinski for a couple of miles until we hit a big downhill and he dropped me like a bad habit.  After the first aid station I was in sixth place and didn’t get passed for good by anyone after that.  I did swap positions with the leading woman a couple of times and Uli Stuwe and I swapped positions around mile 35 briefly. 

At the first aid station at Elephant Head the race director Jim Skaggs has told us in the past we could choose to either do 1) a short out and back or 2) a 5 mile loop that drops into the valley and climbs up switchbacks back to Elephant Head first.  Both options return you to the Elephant Head aid station and then you just do the other option second.  When I got there the first time the aid workers said it was ok to pick either one but they preferred I do the out and back so they didn’t have to remember who did what (which is totally understandable).  I thanked them for the advice and took the 5 mile loop instead.  At the front of the pack the out and back is clogged with people on the way back which I completely avoided by going the other way.  It worked for Karl Meltzer in 2013 and I did it this way the last two times with no congestion.  I was the ONLY person who went the other way at first.  I know I wasn’t in the lead but looking out in front of me and looking behind me and seeing no one at mile 6 was a pretty cool feeling.  Uli was the second person to go this way and killed it on the downhill to get within eyesight.  He would be within 100-200 yards of me for the next 40 miles.

Once I got back around the Elephant Head I started down the out and back while all the aid station workers told me I was going the wrong way and that I needed to back toward the start!  I am they guy who didn’t do the out and back remember? (Kind of funny)  Once I returned, I headed down toward the start with the leading woman Melissa.  We cruised and chatted but neither of us was in a terrible hurry.

I blew through the 20 mile aid station in quick time after refueling.  Michelle told me Garrick, who would be my pacer from mile 50 to the end, asked if I was doing ok since I was walking the uphill out of the aid station.  She said she assured him that this was normal and good strategy at this point of the race.  Others in front of me and behind me ran the whole thing, which isn’t long but in a 100 miles this one wasn’t worth running to me.

Mile 20 to 33 was fairly uneventful.  It is flat rolling terrain that makes you want to run the entire thing but I was already mixing in walking intervals to stay fresh.  Mile 33 is the Ranch aid station and the only thing I really needed was a sleeveless shirt.  I was getting a bit chafed from the tank top (which I never wear in ultras) plus it was getting a bit cooler so it was worth the time to get it on.  I normally encounter darkness just after the Frary aid station at mile 39 so I put on a long sleeve shirt and took my headlamp.  Having done the race twice before it was nice to see where I needed my headlamp compared to prior years which was about 3 or 4 miles later than usual.  I was through the Bridger Bay aid station at mile 46 and around the end of the island at mile 47.5 by the time I needed a headlamp.  I had been chasing one of the most amazing sunsets ever and found that when there is sunlight I can actual run that rocky section pretty good! Both previous runs put me in the section in the dark on both loops.

I arrived at the mile 50 aid station about 20 minutes ahead of my 2014 time and felt really great.  I felt like I had held back more than in previous years with a better time.  The OFM, Vespa, nutrition, and electrolyte plan all seemed to be firing on all cylinders.  Garrick was excited to jump in with me and I was excited to have him.  When I have run closer to the front of the pack usually means lots of long solo miles.  When I have been middle or even back of the pack there always seems to be someone to talk with.  Dudes at the front aren’t terribly talkative.

Michelle got me all reset and we were off into the night.  I told Garrick before the race that I wanted him to kick my butt up the first big climb so we stayed focused and saved some of the chit chat until we crested the top.  In past years I think I was relieved to be done with the first lap and craving someone to talk with and settled into shuffle mode for a while.  I wanted to avoid this since there are other easier running sections to catch up on.  When we got to the aid station the volunteers told us 3rd and 4th place were just ahead and not looking great. (I wondered if they told everyone that just to get them fired up.)  I passed Jeremy back at mile 40 when he was having some issue with his legs and he was walking the downhill.  I honestly thought he was toast and was stoked to see he got it turned around and finished not too long after me.  Garrick and I caught up to Melissa who was in 4th and Brandt who was in 3rd.  Brandt won the 2015 race in just over 17 hours so he was obviously not having a good day.  He was walking and later dropped I believe.  Melissa would go on to take the win for the women in just over 21.5 hours.

Now I find myself in unfamiliar territory.  I am in 3rd place and feeling competitive which never happens.  What’s worse is I have 40 miles to go and I am sort of waiting for this perfect day to start falling apart.  I had been diligent to stay on top of my calories and nutrition throughout the day and now it seemed even more critical.  I was telling Garrick on our descent down the backside from Elephant Head just before mile 60 that in 2013 I told friends I had hoped to be at mile 60 around midnight when Jeremy Haddock was my pacer.  Amazingly I looked down at my watch as it rolled over to mile 60 just a few seconds before midnight.  I was wondering how I was doing this year so I flipped my watch over to the time of day and we hit mile 60 this time at 10:46.  That got me fired up to see I was an hour and fifteen minutes faster and still feeling great.  We put our heads down and hit the uphill grind on the switchbacks pretty hard and then crested out on the side hill section a couple of miles before the aid station.  I was lamenting how great I was feeling and how the day was cruising right along…no sooner than the words left my lips I was face down in the rocks for the first time all day.  We got a good laugh out of it since there was no damage done and continued on.

After a quick final stop at Elephant Head we rolled down the hill to the start finish at mile 70.  I saw Quentin Barney in the tent and said hello.  We had passed earlier in the day when I was in 6th place and he knew that I was in 3rd at the moment.  It was a pretty cool moment to hear him telling the people around him how strong I was looking and moving right up the field.  I am often sizing up the other runners on the out and back sections but have never stopped to think how I might have looked to them.  I felt like a rock star but tried to be happy and have a smile and wave for every person I came across.  I even ran off trail to make sure some kids got a well deserved high five!  Waiting for hours on end for dad or mom to fly through can be exhausting for kids and love seeing them out there even if they aren’t mine.

Again we walked the uphill out of the start finish and then began the long cruise along the Mountain View trail.  About mile 72 around 1:30 Garrick comments about how great the day is going and how we are cruising along…BAM another face plant in the rocks.  Again, no damage but from this point forward we agreed not to use the ‘C’ word.  Cruising is not usually the first ‘C’ word that comes to mind so we got some funny looks when we told the story later! 

From the start/finish at mile 70 to Lower Frary at mile 78 we averaged an 11 minute mile.  I was still running almost everything and having to add strategic walking breaks because I didn’t want to blow up the last 5 miles.  I felt great but was sure if I kept running everything would crumble.  In retrospect, I should have run more but in the moment I had no idea that I would be able to hold on until the end.  We averaged just under and 11 minute pace from there out to the Ranch at mile 83 and were passed by the first and second place guys who were on their way back.  They both looked solid and I was able to get a rough estimate of how far they were ahead.  The leader was 5 miles ahead and 2nd was 2.5 miles ahead.  Even though this is an eternity in most races, in 100 miles this is literally nothing if things start to hit the fan.  I have seen people go from rock star to death shuffle very quickly before and a 5 mile or 2.5 mile gap can disappear fast.  I didn’t worry about them and tried to focus on controlling what I could control. 

My WORST section by far in the previous two runs here has been from the Ranch at mile 83 to Lower Frary at mile 89.  I am not sure why though.  It’s far enough that you aren’t almost done and the terrain is quite repetitive so just when you think you are at the last turn in the trail before Lower Frary…you aren’t.  It is a little disheartening at times.  This time was different.  I was still taking prescribed walking breaks and averaged 11 minute miles again.  In 2014 I was dying in this section and trying like crazy to hang onto 14 minute miles.  This is the point of the race where OFM and Vespa made a world of difference.  Normally at the end of an ultra I have been consuming 300+ calories of straight sugar per hour and not burning any fat.  I get dead heavy legs and a crazy sugar induced brain fog.  I had zero symptoms like that this time around. 

The one negative thing that happened was that I started to suck at math, which never happens.  Garrick says to me just before we get to Lower Frary for the final time at mile 89, I know you didn’t want me to tell you how good you were doing, but DUDE YOU ARE FREAKING KILLING IT!  Hmm, really?  Yes, if you can run the final 12 miles in 2:40 you will get under 19 hours!  Hmm really?  No BS, I honestly had no idea where I was time wise.  I knew I was doing well but didn’t want to jinx it.  Garrick and Michelle had been crunching numbers throughout the day and I think they were convinced I had a shot of getting under 19 hours when we were at mile 70.  Garrick put that tidbit in his back pocket until just the right moment which would have been a great motivator if I would have been able to do some simple math.  Here is how my brain approached the situation at mile 88 at 4:20 in the morning –

240 / 12 = 11 minute miles ?? (What? Seriously)

Hmm, that sounds really hard even though I have been holding a solid pace.  Whatever…it is what it is.  I’ll just run as hard as I can and see where the chips fall.

(Just for the record here is the correct calculation performed at mile 0 at 2pm on a Tuesday)

2:40 = (2 hours x 60 minutes) + 40 minutes = 160 minutes / 12 miles = 13:20 minute miles

It is probably a good thing I sucked at math at that exact moment because I may have dropped into death shuffle and never came out if I had thought I could go slower than I was.  As it was, we averaged just under a 12 minute mile from mile 89 to 96 that even included climbing up from Mountain View trail to the road and stopping to say hello to Christie and April on the trail.  Garrick had been experiencing some issues with his hips and legs tightening up on him.  With less than 5 miles to go you are in eyeshot of the finish area right down the hill.  One of my motivations to run hard at the end is to work over my pacers, which doesn’t happen very often.  I told him he could just go to the finish if he wanted to and I would finish up on my own.  He gave me a big HELL NO and said something like he would run until his leg fell off but he wasn’t going to miss the finish.  That is exactly what I wanted and needed to hear so we pushed on to the final aid station at mile 96.  We left at 6am almost on the dot and my math whiz skills came back to me, 60 minutes in 4 miles.  Easy, we can do that!  We managed a respectable pace, dare I say ‘cruise’, through the rocky end of the island. I didn’t want to say the ‘C’ word out loud and enjoyed the amazing moon set to the west of the island across Salt Lake.

We made our final approach to the big white tent at the finish with the usual fanfare of a 100 miler, none.  It was about 6:40 in the morning and there were several campers who were out getting a fire started and making breakfast. A car or two passed by getting ready for the 50k start in an hour.  I asked Garrick to run ahead and let Michelle know I was coming and to get a good picture.  He told me he was giving me all he had at the moment which I was happy with.  The picture would have been terrible anyway in the total darkness.  I began reflecting on what it took to get to this point and all the sacrifices people made to help me get to this moment in time which is always a bit emotional for me.  We strolled up and I whistled really loud to stir up the raucous crowd of…1 (the timing guy) and Michelle heard me and came out.  We hugged and then had to go inside to tell them I was done.

Garrick and I found a chair pretty quick and began sharing the events of the day with Michelle and Hannah.  It was still dark outside which was one of my goals and then tent was filled with people for the 8am 50k which was another one of my goals.  I thanked Jim for another great event and snuggled up to a space heater with some of his home brew.  One of the funniest moments of the day was while I was sitting there someone asked me when I was heading back out thinking I had just come in from mile 70. Umm…no, I’m done!  I found out later that I ran the second 50 miles in the same time as the two guys ahead of me which was a great feeling too.  Having a great first half doesn't mean a thing in a 100 miler if you die at the end. 

Huge thanks to Michelle who has the crew thing down to a finely tuned machine and for putting up with me through all the training.  Hannah was a huge help ferrying the car back and forth at aid stations that were crew accessible but required you to park a way down the road.  Garrick for pushing himself to his furthest run ever to support my crazy goals.  Tailwind, Pearl iZumi, and Vespa all helped me get done feeling awesome too, thank you.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Blacks Creek

It was  beautiful day to be outside yesterday!  I am in the final stages of getting ready for the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 miler so I went out to Blacks Creek to get in some long miles on terrain similar to the course.

I started at the fork of Mayfield Road and Blacks Creek Road so I could use it as a central point aid station.  This would allow me to have water, food, and clothes options like race day.  The first leg was back to Bonneville Point and along the Oregon Trail back towards Boise.  Just before I turned around the moon set over the city and it was absolutely gorgeous.  It was an amber color above the city lights ans shrouded in wispy clouds.  I attempted a picture but it just didn't work.

The was rising as headed back to Bonneville Point and the deer started popping out everywhere.  These lower foothills are their winter range so it isn't uncommon to see them here.  I probably saw 50 deer all day.  I arrived back at my car after 14 miles and just over two hours.  I have been experimenting with OFM to see if I can reduce my reliance on carbohydrates in general and more specifically in training so I went without any calories for this first section.

I changed clothes and grabbed my pack with 60 ounces of water and 450 calories of Tailwind for the next stretch that I had anticipated would be around 16 miles.  It starts with 6 miles of uphill and then I was going to turn off the road and get on an old motorcycle trail.  After I hit the top I realized the road was now marked as a private mining operation and off limits.  It also had a foot of snow on it covered with solid ice so I just turned around and ran the six miles downhill.

On the way up I had noticed an arrow with a broadhead tip attached laying on the side of the road.  I made a mental note of it so I could grab it on the way back to show my kids.  I picked it up and ran with it for about 3 miles which was probably a pretty dumb idea if you have ever seen a broadhead.

This turnaround left me short of my distance goal so when I got back to the car the second time I ditched my long sleeve shirt and gloves since it was beginning to warm up then headed east on Mayfield Road.  Mayfield is a tiny town and this road was once the stagecoach route years and years ago.  I don't know for sure but I imagine the stagecoach route followed the original Oregon Trail route.  Just before I turned around for the last time I saw 300 elk just grazing out in the wide open sagebrush which was really cool.  I stopped and got the picture above just as the pavement ended.  The elk were about 1 mile from here and only 5 miles on a paved road from the interstate.  I was feeling very fortunate to live in a place where all of this is so close and accessible if you want to go see it.

I was happy with how I felt and how my fueling, electrolytes, and hydration went.  I ran everything except the last bit of mile 19 and even managed to run 6:30 pace for final quarter mile to the car.  I was never out of breath the whole way and was right at 100 mile race pace which is encouraging considering my overall pace.  Now I just have to figure out how to do this 3 times at that same speed!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

2016 Run 4 Luv 5k

Run 4 Luv 5k was an interesting experiment for me this year.  It was fun to jump into a fast race with other people there to push me since I don't tend to push myself to run fast very often.

The first thing was I warmed up! Crazy, I know.  I ran easy around the park for about 2 miles just trying to get then engine primed.  Whenever I try to run really fast right out of the gate my HR has a spaz attack for about a mile before being able to handle the speed and oxygen exchange.  Needless to say, this had a positive effect on my performance!

The race is so short there wasn't much of note other than I saw my two oldest daughters at mile 1 and they said hi.  I gave them a weak hand wave because I couldn't spare any oxygen to talk and they said, FINE WE DIDN'T WANT TO SAY HI EITHER!  I replied with a more active hand wave so they knew I heard them but still didn't talk.

When the field fanned out I was in third from the start and the two guys ahead were so far up that I didn't have a chance to chase anyone down.  The 10k started 20 minutes before us and were using the same out and back course so when I turned at my halfway point I got in the with the 3rd place 10k runner.  I was comfortably ahead of him through mile 2.  About this time I passed Zach.  He was running which was cool since he normally walks when he does these.  I was a mile up on him and missed a high five since I was flying and we were on opposite sides of the greenbelt.

I seemed to pull along the 10k runner for a while but he wouldn't pass me so I figured I must be holding a decent pace. Then with about a quarter mile to go he passed me and we both sped way up.  After it was over I wished he had passed me sooner since he pulled me along at the end.  My goal was 20 minutes and I finished in 20:18.

It was a fun day. Afterward I headed back out on the course to sweep the half marathon.  There were three of us so I mainly picked up trash while the others pulled flags and signs.  Michelle was at the end of the half so I got to spend time with her which was fun too.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

2016 Wasatch Lottery

I won the lottery again!  I need to recall and remember everything I screwed up last year when I DNF'd.  It was hard reading my post from last year about getting in because I didn't do anything I hoped to.  This is a new year and here's to hoping I can pull my head out and get it done this time!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bobcat sighting!

Christine Birch was in town over the weekend and she organized a group run to catch up with everyone and get to have some pizza and brew afterward at Lucky 13.  There are always lots of deer and elk up on Highland Valley and Cobb Trails this time of year so I suggested we go there.  The only drawback was it was a bit rainy which meant Homestead trail would be muddy and we would have to run two miles of greenbelt to get to Highland Valley.  Most trail runners avoid the greenbelt like the plague but everyone was a good sport about it.

I needed some extra miles this day so I showed up early and ran a 10 mile loop alone.  It was dark when on was on the greenbelt and I thought I saw an animal cross my path when I saw some green eyes.  I was a bit leery since Derek was blasted by a skunk somewhere around here several years back but then it turned and appeared to be a coyote.  When we came back through with the larger group I was looking around to see if the coyote was still hanging around and notice this in the trees.

You can see how well camouflaged it is and I could hardly believe my eyes!  It was a very large bobcat and had apparently just plopped down in the tree after I passed it.  We all stopped and snapped pictures them moved on.  

Our run was fun.  No mud with lots of deer and elk.  Then on the way back we looked in the tree again just to see if the bobcat was still there and it was! Crazy.  I was sure it was protecting young or something since they are normally nocturnal but who knows.  It was fun to catch a glimpse of such a cool animal.  This picture was from the second time we saw it and was taken from the greenbelt with a cell phone.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Dailymile 2015 Year End Report

Another great year in the bag.  I didn't have the best race results but I never felt like I was over training or injured.  If anything, I was under trained for race specific conditions.  My best race all year was the Foothills Frenzy 50k on October 3rd with a time 5:39.  It was my fastest time by five minutes and my fifth time doing the race.  The course was a bit shorter than previous years so it wasn't quite a PR but I'll take it.  The best part about it was the fact that I ran the Bear 100 seven days before this and had a pretty solid day finishing in 28:55.  I went into the Frenzy (like I do every year) crossing my fingers for a good day and taking what the day gives me since I have usually just run a 100 miler in the previous weeks.  It kind of made me wonder what I could do in a 50k if I was rested and tapered!  I bet this year, minus Bear, I could have shaved 20+ minutes off.

Time to come up with some new goals for 2016!
Last year's report

Friday, September 4, 2015

Terrariums and Fossils

It is difficult to pinpoint when my love of the mountains and being outdoors began but I was reminded of one time in particular on a recent run with my friend Christie.  As with many long runs in the mountains conversation end up all over the place at some point she was talking about a terrarium which brought me back to when I was a kid.

For those of you not lucky enough to be an 80's kid they were essentially a glass box that you put plants, dirt and rocks in.  We had two hexagon versions (similar to the picture) that were at both ends of the couch in the front room and were used like side tables with a lamp on them.  Each week one of the chores in the house was to dust them and carefully remove the top for watering.  I don't recall when they were finally removed but in the bottom of one of them was a very special piece of shale.

In the summer of 1982 our family went to Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada.  We were there for the annual Anderson family reunion.  While we were there we had fun camping and exploring Lehman Caves.  One day during our stay my mom decided she had had enough of staying in camp and watching kids.  She told my dad she was going out for a hike and on her way out I asked if I could come.  I don't recall the exact conversation but as a parent of 4 children myself I imagine it went something like this....

I am not sure you understand what 'Mom' time is, Ryan.  It is where Mom's leave and spend time alone to relax and get away from kids.  

I was relentless and wanted to go though.  She ended up telling me I could come but she wasn't going to put up with any complaining or whining.  Check, let's go!

I don't recall what we talked about or what the trail was really like but I do remember how much fun I had spending time with my mom.  Since it was just the two of us it made me feel special that I got to go and I wasn't going to ruin it by being a whiner.  I was 8 and don't recall that I was a big whiner anyway but she would the definitive source on facts like that.  While we were out we found this piece of shale that had a small plant fossilized in it.  It was quite a find and we had fun showing it to everyone when we got back.  This piece of shale was placed in the terrarium in our house when we returned it was a weekly reminder for me of the fun time we had for years.

Me and Dad
During our trip, there was a group of us that climbed Wheeler Peak which is near the campground where we stayed.  There were two kids that made it to the top that day.  I was 8 and my cousin Pam was 9.  It was a gorgeous hike and the view from the top was amazing.  It was the end of July and there was still snow all around.  While I was looking up information on Great Basin National Park and Wheeler Peak I realized that it is the highest point in the surrounding 180,000 square miles at 13,063 feet. Not bad for an 8 year old!

When I topped out at 11,000 feet at Speedgoat in 2012 I thought that was the highest I had ever been in the mountains.  Going into the race I wasn't sure how my body would react.  I felt great afterwards and came to the conclusion that some people are ok with high altitude and some aren't for whatever reason.  I have lived in Boise most of my life at about 2,700 feet so 13,000 was a big jump that day.

Top of the world that day

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