When I worked at Hubble Homes one of Don Hubble’s favorite books was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. I remember the 7 habits were posted throughout the building to remind people of their message and applicability to work as well as life. I’ll spare you the corporate team building speech but the habit that has stuck with me the most all these years since is:
Habit #2 – Begin with the End in Mind
Over the last few years, as I have set goals for myself I always begin by asking myself what my goal is and then building my plan for success backwards from there. I tried to identify the necessary steps I needed to take in the interim to ensure I would be successful in reaching my goal. I have met most of my goals this way and for the ones that I haven’t I used another of the habits in later attempts:
Habit #7 – Sharpen the Saw
This one can be interpreted several ways, but to me it means I must always be learning, asking questions, and becoming better at whatever I am doing. It reminds me of the Albert Einstein quote, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
BEGINNING WITH THE END
My initial goal was 22 hours. Then my friend Frank Morris ran Rocky Raccoon in 21:46 and I jokingly told him told him my new goal was 21:45! On race day, the pace chart I gave to my crew chief Michelle had a goal finish time of 21:24.
PRE-SHARPENING THE SAW
What have I done in the past that didn’t work and what can I improve on? They are numerous….
• Seek the advice of others who are more experienced and smarter than me. I have been doing this from the beginning and expect I will always do this because I recognize that I don’t know everything and there will always be someone smarter than me. Big thanks in this department to Christie, Frank, Dennis, and Jon who had all run this course before and gave me a good idea of what to expect and where to push the pace or conserve energy. Most of all, thanks for impressing upon me the fact that 100 miles is still 100 miles. Just because it is flat(ter) doesn’t mean it will be eas(ier).
• When taking a crew and/or pacer I need to have a solid plan detailing what I will need and where I will need it… so they can do their job… so I can do my job… RUN! Michelle and I had this worked out fairly well. Swap bottles, change of clothes, headlamp, etc pretty straight forward. Jeremy Haddock from Logan, UT was my pacer and I met him for the first time at mile 38 as I was putting on my night clothes at Lower Frary. I am friends with him online but had never actually met in person until the race. We hit it off immediately and he was an amazing asset in helping me get to the finish line on schedule.
• Finding a shoe that protects my feet so that I can still run at the end of the race. Each of my bad races ended poorly not because my legs and lungs couldn’t keep up but because of my hammered feet. Just before the race I got a pair of the new Pearl iZumi Emotion Trail N1’s. They had 5 miles on them before the race and I told myself I would evaluate them after the first 20 mile section and change if necessary. I never did change them and my feet felt amazing all the way to the end. No blisters, no hot spots, and no sore hammered feet. So my new N1’s have 2 runs and 105 miles in them.
• Going out too fast. Everyone feels good at the beginning and finding out what too fast for ‘you’ is a hard thing. I am dense and had to repeat this lesson 3 times in 2012 (Salt Flats, Silver City, and Wasatch). I finished all three races but it wasn’t pretty at the end. Since this course is two 50 mile laps the effect of going out too fast can be easily measured by comparing the first lap time to the second lap time. When I was reverse engineering my plan, I gave myself an extra hour thirty minutes for the second half. In 100 miles this is just a sliver of time which makes being smart in the beginning even more critical.
• Eating enough calories. More importantly eating the right combination of liquid and solid food that works for me. I have had success both ways but through trial and error have learned that less solid food is better for me in longer races. My plan was to eat between 200 and 300 calories per hour. I accomplished this with a combination of Tailwind Nutrition, EFS drink, EFS liquid shots, occasional gels, and Gatorade at aid stations where Michelle couldn’t crew. I had a few solid food items that included ginger snaps, PBJ, chicken noodle soup, broth, grapes, chips, and quesadillas in small quantities along the way. I tried to stay away from the candy stuff and just have plain Jane items.
• Power-walking or power-hiking on a regular basis is beneficial in the long run. Don’t just walk when I get tired, by then it’s too late. Also, power walking is not a gift that is bestowed on many people. It is a skill that must be practiced and when done efficiently will be faster than most people can run near the end of a race. I probably walked 35 miles of this race. Most of my walking in the flatter sections was in the 13:00 to 14:00 pace range. On the uphill sections, I just put my head down and did the best I could. I kept reminding myself to walk with a similar intensity to what I have when I am running. In the past, ran until I got tired and then walked like I was on a Sunday stroll to recover from running which wasn’t very efficient.
• Learn to recognize changes in how I am feeling so that I can get the situation corrected as soon as possible. Bonking doesn’t happen in 5 minutes. It is a culmination of a number of bad decisions over miles and hours that can ultimately end a race. I ate like a beast from the beginning to the end. I had 2 miles where I could feel my energy start to spiral between mile 86 and 88. I ate and drank EVERYTHING I had all at once to prevent bonking and hopefully carry me through to the next aid station at mile 88 which worked.
All of this planning boiled down to a very simple race day strategy. I shared this plan with several people before the race and it seemed fool proof so I went with it:
A) Don’t be STUPID
B) Repeat step A as many times as necessary to reach your goal
After we started up the first hill I asked myself a question, “When I am on the second lap will I be running this section?” If the answer was no I walked. I repeated this question in my head a thousand times over the course of the race. At the end of the first hill (which is mile 2 or 3) I stopped and counted 25 people behind me. There were 95 on the entrants list so I figured I was in 70th place at that point. I was rewarded for my patience in the end. After mile 10 I was NEVER passed again on the trail by someone who finished ahead of me. As was promised, (by the people smarter than me) I passed many great runners who went out too fast and it was an energizing feeling.
The first loop was gorgeous with big views and sweeping valleys below. I spent 40 seconds total in the three aid stations on the first 19 mile loop while getting everything I needed to keep up the calories. Just as I was finishing the loop I trotted back down the hill to the start with a guy who said he was more scared of the flats than the hills we were coming down from. He said it is so flat I’ll just want to run the whole thing! True, but that is where STEP A of my plan comes into play.
|Leaving Mountain View on the first lap|
|Lower Frary first time through|
This is where I met my pacer Jeremy for the first time. I recognized him right away from pictures I had seen. Plus he is a giant with red hair so that helped too.
The sun went down just as I was getting to the Mountain View aid station at mile 42. After a quick climb and drop back into the Lakeside aid station I was nearly done with lap #1. While I was going around the point of the island I got off course somehow in the dark. I figured I must be running parallel to the trail and didn’t think much of it. After a few minutes I converged with the trail and coasted in to the start/finish.
|Jeremy, Derek, me, and Michelle at mile 50|
I was in good spirits and feeling good. Jeremy and I got to know each other better while I rehashed to events of the first lap. I laughed to myself as I approached many of the uphill sections I walked and thought I could still be running them at mile 55. Our aid station stops were efficient but not quite as fast as the first time around. I had started drinking soup broth regularly to help keep my body heat up and the cupless race thing turned out to be a bit of a pain. Normally I grab a paper cup and go. When I am done with a paper cup I stuff it in my pocket and ditch it at the next aid station. With the plastic cups I had to stand around and first cool it off and second finish it. (I will be adding this to my sharpen the saw list for next time) I need to bring my own cup. Speedgoat was cupless last year and it worked like a charm but the middle of July I can pound a cold coke in 3 seconds flat and be on the trail!
Prior to the race I told my buddies on Dailymile to send me some good vibes around midnight when I expected to be pushing through mile 60 about 12 hours into the race. I mentioned this to Jeremy during mile 59 and asked if I was close. A couple minutes later his watch beeped and he announced that we had just hit mile 60. I looked down at my watch and it was 12:00:04! Four seconds late but I’ll take it.
At mile 63, (while trying to cool my scalding hot broth down in my plastic no-to-go cup) we met Mike Place and he offered me a 200mg caffeine tablet. I took it thinking it would be helpful and it was…for a while. We left the aid station and headed down toward the start / finish line 5.5 miles away. I was flying high on caffeine and was pushing the pace. At one point, I asked Jeremy if he was taking care of his hydration and nutrition thinking he was fading a bit. I know being a pacer can be demanding. It is also easy to neglect your own needs while tending to the needs of your runner. Another thing that didn’t help was just before the previous aid station I gave him my bottles and asked him to go ahead and fill them up. It turned out that the aid station we could see wasn’t ‘right ahead’ as it appeared. It was like a mile away so I had him run way farther that I should have.
We arrived back at the mile 69 aid station at 1:58am. I quickly grabbed a bite to eat and changed clothes. I wasn’t terribly cold, but I was however, sweating like a beast and thought it would be best to get a drier shirt on. So I peeled off my soaked t-shirt and long sleeve and replaced it with a single thermal long sleeve. Michelle could barely help me get it on because I was so sweating profusely while ironically others in the tent were freezing to death and on the verge of DNF’s if they hadn't already from the cold.
While Michelle was helping me change she told me that Jeremy would not be going back out with me. Jeremy had recently had some medical procedures done so he wasn’t sure how he would feel during the race. He also had been traveling for work that week and had spent most of the prior day on an airplane. We talked about all this beforehand so I was mentally prepared to go on solo into the night. After a 5 minute stop and a few high fives I was back on the trail.
The next aid station is the Mountain View aid station and Mark Kruezer was there volunteering. I met Mark at Salt Flats last year and he kicked my butt at Wasatch later in the summer. After Wasatch I asked him about his race strategy that day and he shared that he tried to BANK ENERGY in the beginning of races when it is most tempting for people to try and BANK TIME because they feel good. His strategy works. I have PR’d every race I have done since Wasatch. It was good to see him.
Mark told me I was in 12th place which was a cool boost. I knew I was running strong but had no idea where I was in the field. I remember thinking it would be cool to crack the top 10 but I hadn’t seen anyone forever. I figured I would just continue to operate my 2 step plan and hope that someone ahead of me dropped. That is terrible of me to think but it's true.
The flat rolling section out to Lower Frary aid station was uneventful. When I arrived at Lower Frary, it was getting cold(er). I think it was around 26 with a wind chill of 8 through the night. Somehow I managed to keep my granny hands warm using my gloves with Michelle’s 99 cent Wal-mart gloves over the top. Michelle got me all set up with some hot broth and a quesadilla (which did not hit the spot at that moment). I knew I needed to eat it but it took me a mile to eat it.
When I left the wind began to howl and it started to snow. It snowed sideways on me for nearly 5 miles all the way to the Ranch aid station. When I got there I was stoked that I was finally at mile 88! Until Vince Romney ruined my day and told me it was only mile 83. I had been paying attention to my run pace and walk pace but really had no idea what mile I was at. When I arrived at the aid stations I was trying to recall the distances from the map. Mile 88 wasn’t until I returned to Lower Frary after the out and back.
When I got there Vince was stoking the fire in the pounding snowstorm with about 8 camp chairs around the fire. Each of them had between an inch and an inch and a half on the seats so I asked him if this was his strategy to make sure no one sat down around the fire! I stayed about 5 minutes and headed back out into the snow. I am sad to report that Vince had bacon and chose not to take any. That won’t happen again. I am sorry.
The snow seemed to subside as I headed out of the Ranch just after 5am. The day was starting to take its toll on me and I could feel myself starting to fade at mile 87. I downed all my water, Gatorade, and took a gel hoping to avoid a bonk before I got back to the real mile 88! It worked and as I rolled in there I knew I needed Jeremy’s help again if he was able. Michelle had been monitoring my pace on the chart I gave her and she knew I was falling off the pace so she went and asked Jeremy if he would go with me for the final 12 miles before I even got there.
|Mile 89 after Lower Frary the last time|
|Sunrise just before Mountain View|
|Up the hill from Mountain View|
I then tried the more sensible approach of building up my speed to what felt comfortable. Jeremy ran up ahead to tell Michelle I was coming and get in position to take a finish line picture. I ran out of real estate at the end for a full mile but my Zach .75 mile turned out to be a 12:20 pace which was amazing. I got to run across the finish line trying to keep up with Michelle which was wonderful too since I wouldn’t have been able to do this without her help.
|Finish. Big thanks to Michelle and Jeremy|
Finish time 21:12:03 Goal time 21:24 BAM!
Mile 1-17 / Mile 19-100
|Start the day before|
|Looking back toward Salt Lake at Lower Frary the day before|
|5 minutes to go! Bill Amy Emily me and Christie|
|I am smiling, that's good right?|
|In a day filled with DNF's the Boise crew was 7 for 7 Christie, Sean, Lyn, Sam, me, Emily, and Amy|
|Me trying to keep up with Michelle at the finish!|
|Wasn't sure I would get up after I finished. I pretty much fell to pieces. Luckily no one was there to see it but Jeremy and Michelle!|
|No foot issues. Amazing. Love the new Pearl iZumi trail N1's. I have had worse feet on a 5 mile trail run in the Boise Foothills|
|Cory Reese at mile 83. I got a terrible picture of his finish which I have intentionally omitted. His finish line jump was awesome, as usual. But I was a second late and captured the standing on the ground version!!|
|Christie and Derek hanging in at mile 85|
|Sam and Emily at mile 94|
|David and Sean at mile 94|
|Mike Place at the finish|
|Bill and Sam at the finish|
|Michelle, Emily, and me|
|This is what finishing feels like, true story. Right Emily?|
|Christie and Savannah finishing|
|Me congratulating Amy just after she finished|
|Shanda after a great 50k finish|
|Graham and Jennifer after finishing the 50 miler|
|The Boise Pace Team - Derek, Jon, Christine, and David|