Monday, July 29, 2013

2013 Speedgoat 50k Race Report

I held back at the beginning and ran like a wild man at the end. The last 4 miles were 7:56, 8:12, 9:15, and 7:40. Compared to last year when I ran 12:58, 10:07, 10:55, and 9:02 over the same stretch.
It definitely helped to know the course this year.  I was actually behind my time from last year (when I finished in 8:06) at the 11 mile mark. Learning to not go out too fast is paying dividends. That and downhill running practice. There were two specific sections I wanted to improve on. Sinners Pass to Pacific Mine is all downhill and rockier than all get out. Last year I was passed by probably 20 people and I didn't pass a single person. This year I was passed by no one and I passed 4 people which felt good. At the Pacific Mine turnaround I was less than 2 miles behind Krissy Moehl which had me second guessing my pacing since she is a beast.  A really nice beast too.  She mugged for pictures with me and Brian Davis during the pre-race and asked us how OUR race went at the end! (Yes, Brian and I ARE that fat when we are standing next to her too!)
The other section I specifically wanted to improve on was from the Tunnel to Hidden Peak. I was dreading this section prior to the race because it really sucked the life out of me the previous year. As I approached the tunnel aid station, I met Cami and Zach who had hiked down from Hidden Peak which was a huge boost.   Ironically after worrying about this section before the race the one thought floating around in my brain that helped me relax was this quote.

"Remember this is fun, it will be over before you know it so soak up every minute and remember you are one of a lucky few." --Jim Milar (advice given to Stephen Jones at Wasatch 100 in 2011)
My sentiment at the time was, "for those of you fortunate enough to join me on the course, either as a runner, pacer, or crew, look for me.  I'll be guy with the big-ass smile just happy to be 'one of the lucky few' out for a fun run in the Utah mountains!"
Recalling this put a smile on my face and gave me new life right at the moment I needed it most.  I asked Cami and Zach if they wanted to run the tunnel with me so the 3 of us went hollering down the corridor just being goofy.  That was big mental lift for me and I think they had fun too....until the trail headed straight downhill under the Peruvian chair lift.  They basically gave me the 'well good with that' send off which made me smile even bigger!. 
 After exiting the tunnel it's only 3 miles to Hidden Peak. But the section has a ton of loss and gain. The last mile in this section is #27 in the race and it has 1,155 feet of gain.  It is also basically the last real uphill section so nearly 100% of the 11,200 feet of gain is complete after 27 miles.  I did mile #27 last year in 28+ minutes and got passed by a bunch of people.  This year I did it in 25 minutes which included a 2 minute aid stop so I guess I cut 5 minutes off the climb as well as passing 6 people along the way.

This picture was taken just as I approached Hidden Peak after the beastly climb. When I passed the woman on the left holding the baby, the baby was crying and the little boy looked like he had had a long day already. I thought I might distract him by talking with him and get him to relax. I asked him if he was waiting for his daddy. He immediately settled down and held his mother's leg quietly. I assured him that I was sure he was coming up soon after me which brought a smile to his face. I stepped the 10 feet off the trail to where he is standing and asked him if he wanted a high five. He was stoked that someone took the time to talk to him and give him some attention. We high-fived and as I turned to continue up the hill I could see Michelle and all 4 of our kids at the top of Hidden Peak. The exchange with the boy and seeing my own family broke what little emotional strength I had at that moment. It truly was the highlight of the day.
Seeing Michelle and the kids at the top was another huge boost right when I needed it. Last year I was a mega-grouch at that point and I made sure to say thank you and attempt to give sweaty man hugs this time which they graciously declined.  

The final 5.2 took me 49 minutes. It has 300 feet of gain, 3,400 feet of loss with more boulders and rocks than you can imagine in the first mile and a half or so.  I cut over 10 minutes off my time from last year in this section with good first half pacing and a little focus and practice on the downhill. I cruised into the finish with a time of 7:31:38 which was a 35 minute improvement.  

We stayed at the finish line to cheer in our friends Jeff Black and Brian Davis.  After Brian finished he told Karl Meltzer it was one heck of a race!  I jumped in and said, so you'll be back next year Brian?  Brian had some inappropriate things to say to me at that moment, which was super funny because it was literally seconds after he had just finished the hardest race he'd ever done.  Karl chuckled, patted him on the back, and said Don't kid yourself'll be back!  Which I am sure Brian will.
The day following the race my car was stolen with everything we owned (it was subsequently recovered and driveable but all of our stuff was gone).  Most of the numbers here are just from memory since my Garmin was one of the items I lost.  Sadly, I also lost my PI N2 Trail shoes that I wore exactly 2 times and had 40 miles on them. Stuff can be replaced though and the things that truly matter were safe and sound. 

It broke my heart to see my 8 and 10 year old so scared though as I tried to juggle the police and fraud department at our credit card company Sunday night. Through the quick actions of my credit card company the people responsible were arrested while I was still filing the report. This is a picture of everything we owned at the moment.  Glad we were all safe and great to see smiles in such a difficult situation.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Downhill Running Practice

Last year at Speedgoat I found myself running with many of the top 10 women throughout the day.  Since then I have joked with people that when I do a big race that draws lots of top runners my goal is to be top 10 in the women's category!  There are a lot of amazing female runners out there so I would consider this brag-worthy accomplishment to be able to hang with them!

Photo John Medinger
Last year I would have been 12th woman overall so I have to pick up my game this year.  I had the opportunity to run with Meghan Arbogast (Yes she's a rockstar! See her results here) from around Baldy Peak at mile 23 or so to the finish.  We leapfrogged a number of times.  I was still crushing the uphill sections and she was destroying me on the downhill sections.  At the end of the big downhill after the Tunnel Aid Station I was finally able to catch her on the following mile that has nearly 1,200 feet of gain.  As I passed she jokingly said, "See you on the next downhill!"

It was funny but I told myself I was going to try and maintain a good push up the hill to get enough space that she couldn't catch me on the downhill.  The downhill is 5.2 miles and 3,200 feet of descent so I knew I would have to really push.  I am not sure how far ahead of her I was at Hidden Peak but I held her off for as long as I could and she passed me less than a mile from the finish.  She passed by with a smile and finished a few minutes ahead of me.

I had no idea who she was at the time and when I got home I looked her up.  After seeing her impressive running history I felt pretty good to even be near her!  Watching her glide downhill was a sight to behold which has undoubtedly helped in her numerous top ten finishes at Western States.  So I thought I would just ask her what her secret is!  Most of the accomplished ultra-runners, both men and women, are very approachable and are happy to talk with everyone at races.  I sent her a Facebook message and asked her what if she had any advice for me.

I found this yesterday when I was cleaning out my email and I figured I would give her advice a try while running up and back on Lucky Peak.  It was a bit darker today since we started at 5am and although I had a headlamp I turned it off as soon as I could make out the rocks.  Running pre-dawn when the light isn't the greatest does force me to trust my foot placement more.  It is uphill for 5.15 miles though so obviously I wasn't moving too fast when the light was low. 

The downhill drops roughly 3,100 feet in 6.05 miles after hitting the summit.  I was with Derek and David this morning and settled in behind David.  I wanted to get the 'find a good downhill runner and chase them' part of the plan working right away.  David is super fast and even Derek and I hold HIM back!  Staying relaxed and loose has always been my problem.  I think it stems from being overweight my whole adult life prior to running.  I always have this feeling like I am killing my knees a legs and consequently give about 75% on the downhill.

Today I kept my arms loose by my sides, took longer strides while still keeping my feet under my hips, leaned into the downhill from the ankles/hips, etc....all the stuff I ALREADY know but never really seem to put into practice.  

Chasing David and paying attention apparently worked for me today.  I cut over 7 minutes off of a route I have done many times and the majority of the improvement was on the downhill while maintaining a 145 heart rate.  This is a comparison to my previous best time by mile (other than lap 6 which is the summit and the final stretch to the car). 

Moral of the story....just relax and have fun. The details work themselves out with practice! Thanks Meghan 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Trail Porn

Climbing straight up the black diamond ski run Upper Paradise just below to top of the Pine Creek chairlift

Elk Meadows Trail

Paul Me and Jeff at the top of Shafer Butte

2013 Silver City Race Report

Heading up Hayden Peak at Mile 25 - Photo Dondi Black
As my modus operandi dictates, the following will be a better late than never recap of the 2013 edition of the Silver City 100k.

....(conversation with Vince Romney at the Jordan Creek aid station at mile 47-ish)
Me: Vince, why do we do this to ourselves?
Vince: I don't know?
Me: Is it because we are dumb or we just didn't learn our lesson the last time?
Vince: Hey Ryan, are you running Speedgoat this year?
Me: Ya, it's gonna be awesome!  I can't wait.

Apparently I am dumb AND didn't learn my lesson at Speedgoat last year!  11,000+ feet of elevation gain in half the distance of this race.  Anyway, I finished Silver City in 14:37:48 in 11th place.  I was right on track for my goal time through about 35 miles and then ended up dying in the afternoon sun.  I am convinced that I just need to train in the heat more.

The great part is after dying at the end I still cut more than 2 hours off my time from last year so at least I improved!  I ran with Jayk Reynolds to about 32 miles and then he continued on to the finish really strong.  Tony and Jeff caught me just after Delamar and Paul Lind buzzed by me before Slacks the last time.  In my sorry state I vowed not to give up like I did last year.  So although I wasn't moving like I wanted to I kept plugging away trying to get what I could out of myself.

After I finished I caught a ride back up to the singletrack trail and headed back for Michelle who was doing the 50k.  I knew she was close but really had no idea how far I would be going.  Luckily I found her in less than a mile and was able to bring her in for a good finish too!

Happy Trails

Long Gulch aid station - Photo Dondi Black

Delamar - singing Evanesence - Photo Wayne Ebenroth

Jordan Creek - Photo Tom Peavey

Delamar with Kristine - Photo Wayne Ebenroth

Finish line heel click ala - Derek style - Photo Allen Sandquist

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