Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Buffalo Run 50 miler Race Report

The 2nd edition of the Buffalo run was a great success. Great weather, great people and incredible soup! Race Results here.

Well the first 50 miler of the season is history. I wish the fatigue associated with it was as well. A friend of mine told me that every ultra is different, regardless of what the course is like. He claimed that this is because it's not a question of if, but when you will have "issues" that must be dealt with and every race will present different obstacles.

Issue number 1 presented itself at the start line. Peter and I had both forgot our headlamps. I thought, "it's just a 6am start and the sun will be up before we know it." Wrong. We immediately realized that following the light would be a good choice and took off with the lead group. We ran the first five miles with three others before we throttled back our pace and watched the sun come up over the Wasatch Mountains to the east it was an incredible sight. I turned on the tunes and fell into a nice groove until I hit the first climb. I had it in my head that this was a flat race with two climbs (the same one done twice) but in fact we were rolling up and down the shoreline of the island the whole time. After I reached the top of the climb for the first time I was feeling great and I took off on the section of singletrack at the top before bombing the descent. I ran a good pace all the way to the southern end of the island where the turnaround was located. Because of the out and back nature of the race I could see that I was about 15 minutes from Erik and Kevin (1st and 2nd) and four minutes back from Rich who was in third.

Issue number 2 came at the turnaround when I realized I had been running ever so slightly downhill and with a tailwind for the past 8 miles or so. It wasn't that big a deal, just a bit demoralizing. I focused on keeping a steady pace and trying to gain some ground on Rich. I finally caught up to Rich as we started the climb and I could tell immediately that I wasn't going to be running up this time around.

Issue number 3 happened at the top of the climb. I was approaching the aid station when all of the sudden everything that was in my stomach wanted out, now. After it was over I felt great but I knew I had just dug myself a hole. As I left the aid station I noticed Rich cresting the hill not that far behind me. I focused on making it to the next aid station at mile 37 and putting some fuel back in system. I made it to the Fielding Garr aid station, grabbed my drop bag then made my way to the tables full of food and beverage. The nice folks from Roosters were sponsoring the race and the aid station. They informed me that Kevin had to drop, so that meant I was now in 2nd. I was standing there trying to figure out what I was going to eat when one of the women offered me some soup they had made for the race. I don't know exactly what kind it was, some kind of beef barley, but it was about the best soup I had ever had. Rich came in as I was still finishing the soup and then we left together. It was nice to chat with somebody for a while and the next hour or so passed fairly quickly. After a few more miles Rich decided to ease back and eat some food, I should have done the same. At this point I was starting to have a hard time getting more gels down so I just tried to drink more. That plan worked until about a mile to go.

Issue number 4. There was no fuel left in the tank and I could smell the food at the finish line. I started to get a little disoriented and slowed to a walk. As Kelly came by me he encouraged to run with him but it wasn't happening. Eventually I made it to the final little uphill grade to the finish area and heard "come on Christian, run to the finish". I looked up to see it was Erik who had finished nearly an hour ahead of me. I managed to run the last few hundred meters in order to cross the finish line then I went straight for the food.

Special mention to my better half, Betsy who ran her first trail race. She participated in the 25k and had a great time. I am super proud of her since it was the farthest she has run to date. She had such a good time that only two days afterwards she was asking me to find her another trail race to try out. Good times!

Thanks must go to Jim Skaggs and the kind volunteers he assembled to put on such a great event. I'll definitely be back next year.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

First 50 of the Season

Have I done enough? Did I too much? Will this head cold have much effect on my race? These are just a few of the questions running through my head in the day leading up to my first 50 miler of the season, the Buffalo Run on Antelope Island State Park. I have three 50’s on my schedule this season, all in preparation for the big one in September, The Wasatch 100. I think I need to do a few more of these before I stop second guessing myself in the week before the race.

A few of us ran on the shoreline this last weekend and I must say it felt great to start an early morning run with shorts on. For the first time since last fall I didn’t have the urge to start off with a 5k pace in order to warm-up. The trails were in near perfect shape except for the few ass-hat mountain bikers that decided little ditches in the middle of the trail would be a good idea. I have to assume that they are na├»ve to the type of erosion they are causing by making troughs in the trail. If you are one of these select few riders that like riding on muddy trails I have one thing to say to you, DON’T.

This pic was taken just as the sun was peeking over the snowcapped Wasatch to our east.

As much as I enjoy the shoreline trails I must say that after running on them for the last several months, I’m anxious to get up in the high mountains again. It’s obviously going to be another month or two before that happens though. Until then I will be happy running on dry dirt with some decent footing.

Monday, March 5, 2007

The good times are killing me

The weekend started in earnest Friday evening at the Kahtoola Nightflight. The previous day I received a call from a friend telling me about this little running race from Solitude to Brighton on the Nordic track, where you had to use these specially designed neoprene boots for running in the snow. It sounded easy enough and a good reason to hang out in the mountains with the family for a couple of hours. The storm that rolled through that day had left us with a clear night cold temps. The race started at around 6:30pm and it was snot-freezing cold. There were a couple of Nordic racers running with us and I decided I would try to stay with them, big mistake. The low temperature had obviously froze my brain because I forgot I was at altitude with extra weight on my feet, breathing in the 0 degree air. I followed the two of them for about a mile before my legs decided that it wasn’t a good idea to go anaerobic in the current conditions. I hung on for 3rd place about 2 ½ minutes behind those guys. The cool part was that I won a pair of the Kahtoola Flight-boots I had just run in, the bummer part was that I had developed a rasp in my lungs from deep breathing the cold air. We finished off the evening with some great food and beverage from the Pub (Desert Edge Brewery).
Saturday morning seemed to come as quickly as I closed my eyes the night before. Peter and I decided to go run on Antelope Island in order to check out part of the
Buffalo Run 50 miler and try to find some snow free dirt. We made it to the starting point shortly before 8am and took off at an easy pace. Even though it was a bit chilly to start at 23 degrees if felt great compared to the night before. The 50 mile route is fairly flat with a few rollers mixed in as it meanders along the east side of the island. One of the best attributes of the Mountain View trail that we were running on is just that, spectacular views of the Wasatch front from North Ogden to Draper.

We saw plenty of bison and heard some young coyotes learning how to tune their voices. We reached the turnaround point at the Fielding Garr ranch in less than two hours and it became evident as we headed back north that we would have a tailwind on the way back. This made it a bit warmer and after about 3 hours I could feel the race from the night before. The last hour became a bit of a slog but we made it back to the car in just under 4 hours, which was our goal to start with. A quick stop at Crown Burger on the way home and everything started to feel better.

Sunday brought warmer temps, clear skies and another trip Big Cottonwood, except this time it was for some downhill skiing at Solitude with the family. It was a perfect bluebird day. In fact it was a bit to warm in the middle part of the afternoon but we managed to deal with it somehow…