Sunday, November 2, 2008

Baggin' Peaks with the Family

A week or so after the Bear my son started asking me about bagging another peak before the snow flew, so I suggested Grandeur. I brought up the subject around dinner one night and before I knew it the whole family wanted to go.

Sandwiched between Parleys and Millcreek canyon we usually make the peak part of a bigger run, so I don't really think of it in the same regard as other peaks. Not to diminish it in any way, it's still a tough hike gaining 2600' in about 3 miles. We packed up the 2 dogs, 2 - 70oz hydration packs, 1 - 30oz pack, 2 water bottles and a bunch of misc energy food. I truly thought we were carrying way to much, but it turns out it was just about right.

It was a beautiful day, clear, breezy and unseasonably warm (80 degrees) so it was easy going in the bottom of the drainage next to the creek, but got a little harder the higher we climbed on the exposed portion of the trail. For my daughter this was the longest and highest she had ever climbed/hiked so she needed a little persuading now and then to keep going. About a 1/4 mile from the top she got summit fever and raced my son to the peak. 2.5 hours up, 15 mins on top, 1:15 down, 4 hours roundtrip (including time to pick up some colored leaves for art projects). Good times...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bear 100 2008 Race Report

The long version...
Last year this race was about redemption after Wasatch did not go my way, this year the Bear was my focus for the whole season. So shortly after losing out on the lottery for Wasatch I checked out the Bear website and found a pleasant surprise, a new course. The old course was good and I certainly would have been happy to run on the modified figure eight, but the new point to point course really had me excited. It looked to be tougher with a bit more climbing, long distances between aid stations (over 7 miles on average) and did I mention it was point to point? I passed along the good news to Storheim, who also lost out on the Wasatch lottery, and he was in. Peter graciously agreed to pace me once again so it was set.

(Course Profile)

Standing in the dark waiting to start I thought about the trail in front of us and wondered how many runners actually got out on the new course. I had every intention of getting out on a few sections before the race, but I could never find the time, so I was running it "blind" like most of the other runners. I think that sometimes this is a benefit since you can't get too nervous about something you know nothing about. By the same notion it can be easy to get lost when you are unfamiliar with the trails so a few days prior to the race I decided I loaded some of the critical course intersections on my GPS so I could use that to find my way if necessary.

6am finally arrived and 76 of us headed off for a 100 miles of fun. After winding our way up through the neighborhood we came to the mouth of the canyon and the first trail intersection. Half the runners in front of me turned right, the other half went straight, then everyone stopped. I looked at my GPS and quickly confirmed that we were supposed to go straight and we were off again. I should have realized this was a sign of things to come. As we made our way up the 4,000'+ climb a small goup of us formed behind the front runners including Scott Griffith, Brian Beckstead, Jon Wheelwright and another guy I didn't know. After hitting the top of the climb we made our way down a rough atv road and I decided to find out who the unknown guy was. I introduced myself and found out I was running with Paul Sweeney, a man with many ultra's under his belt including a win at Hardrock in 2004. Right after that I led Brian and Paul on to the singletrack and instantly felt a surge of energy. The canopy of aspens we were running under created a colorful tunnel that blocked the early morning sun and made it hard to hold back on the long steady descent to the aid station at Leatham Hollow - mile 20. Scott was slightly ahead of us and left as the three of us came in to refill bottles and get set for the next section. A friend of mine was there, Aric Manning, and informed me that Storheim was running just behind Nate McDowell and Ty Draney. I was stoked to hear he was doing so well, but at the same time I knew we had a long day and night ahead of us.

(still happy leaving leaving Right Hand Fork)
Photo credit Greg Norrander go here for more great pictures.

The next section was the shortest between aid stations at a little over 3 miles. Brian, Paul and myself were fairly close together through this section and the next long descent to Right Hand Fork aid station. Right around this point we caught up to Carter Williams and he tagged on to our little group. As I left the aid station I jumped ahead of those three and tackled the next climb. It was now getting pretty warm and I was trying hard to stay properly hydrated as I climbed up the steady grade. I really felt as though I was holding back and being conservative when I looked down and realized there were no footprints in front of me. I stopped and ran backwards, then forward again scoping out the trail, when I remembered the GPS. At first I looked at the map on the GPS and tried to run toward the trail I saw but it was to confusing. Next I picked out the closest point and had the GPS navigate to it. This is where I realized the problem, I was one drainage further over than where I needed to be. I immediately started my bushwhack climbing over fallen trees and making my way through sagebrush going straight up to a ridgeline. I wasn't really in a panic but I was extremely frustrated. Everything had been going my way up to that point and looking back I can officially say this incident was the beginning of a new chapter in the race. I made it to the top of the ridge and realized where I needed to be as I saw the trail another 1/2 mile below me. I traversed across the hillside and intersected the main trail just in front of Paul. We chatted for a few minutes before I charged ahead, anxious to make up for lost time.

I arrived at the Temple Fork aid station, mile 45, still ahead of my pace schedule by a good 50 minutes so I decided to try and put down some real food instead of just gels. For some reason soup sounded good and I downed a small bowl as Paul arrived. We each sat there for a few more minutes before I convinced him we needed to get out of there. We crossed Logan Canyon road and started the steep climb up blind hollow to Tony Grove Lake and the next aid station. Paul fell behind pretty quickly as I kept going with a steady pace, I was obviously feeling pretty good from the energy I consumed at the aid station. Before to long I started to feel my stomach tighten and the energy high was gone. I was trying to hold back the inevitable, but at mile 48 everything that was inside my stomach finally wanted out. The "free range" cattle watched as I stepped off the trail and took care of business. I took advantage of the post puke endorphins and tried to find the top of the climb but when I when I finally topped out I did not feel like running. I was now 3 for 3 in 100's, puking every time at the 48 mile mark. I knew I could make it right, but it did not stop the negative thoughts from trying to break down the barrier I put up.

I finally saw the lake and knew I was close, so I picked up my pace a bit. That turned out to be a mistake as I had to pull off the side of trail in sight of the aid station and let my stomach do it's thing again. I felt awful as I saw my kids come running up to greet me then retreat back to the aid station. Next I saw Peter and just like the year before he knew exactly what to do. I drank plenty of broth as my family helped me change into my night gear. I put on new shoes, socks, undershirt, long sleeve top and a headlamp before heading out with Peter to try and beat the sunrise. I thought about my family and especially my mom, since it was the first time she had come to an ultra. I mostly just didn't want them worrying about me all night, but there nothing I could do about that now. I was sitting in 13th and I was behind my pace schedule by about 20 minutes when we left.

(Leaving Tony Grove with Peter)

It was great to have Peter keep me company as the sun started to set. This next section was one of the longest between aid stations at 9.7 miles so I was a little worried after the puking episode, but I just took it easy on the ups and jogged the downs. Just as the light was starting to fade I spotted something moving on the trail in front of us and Peter ran ahead to investigate. It was a porcupine that wasn't really interested in getting off the trail at first, but when he grew tired of running in front of us he waddled off in to the bushes. It took me nearly 2 1/2 hours to reach Franklin Basin aid station and close the chapter on the low point of my race. I was feeling better as I sat down to nice warm bowl of soup and saw many of my friends. David Hayes was working the aid station, Greg was there snapping pictures, Scott was waiting for his friend Phil to come through, and some old friends from my bike racing days were there working the aid station, Jamie and Brian. I really didn't want to leave but Peter insisted we get moving.

From here on my memory is kind of fuzzy but one thing I definitely remember is my level of frustration rising as we struggled to stay on the trail. Glowsticks were few and far between keeping us second guessing if we were on the right trail or not. The GPS helped somewhat but the batteries were nearly dead and I forgot to pack extra. Having a second set of eyes was invaluable.

On the way to the Logan River aid station I was shocked to see Brian walking slowly up the trail. He was in a bad way and we asked if there was anything we could do. All he wanted was his wife to come meet him on the trail with his trekking poles. Once we got into the aid station we not only found his wife, but we also found Brian's friend Dave Hunt. Dave jumped into action and took off up the trail. Brian would end up making a wise a decision and call it a day once he made it to the aid station.

Somewhere through here we came upon the Logan River and there seemed to be no easy way of crossing. There was a skinny log, but it was unstable and covered in frost which seemed kind of dangerous. So with no other option we just plodded through the cold shin deep water. I didn't realize that it caused my feet to go numb until an hour or so later when they started to thaw and got the achey feeling that comes with the warming sensation. Once my feet were warm again they were fine.

Near the 75 mile mark we started the descent to the Beaver Lodge aid station. I was definitely feeling better as I picked my way down and passed a few runners. Just as we thought we were getting close we realized we were lost again, of course this was very frustrating. At the lodge I stayed outside while Peter filled bottles and I sipped on some more soup. I was shocked when I saw Carter walk around to where I was sitting. He had been at the aid station for a while trying to put his stomach back together. I wished him well before Peter and I took off for the last 25 miles. It was now a little after 1:00 am and I had moved up to 8th place, but I was way behind my goal pace for a sub 24.

Peter started talking about trying to make it under 26 hours, which seemed reasonable, so I made that my new target. We made a strong pace over the next 4 miles that were all uphill to the Gibson aid station. Even though I was feeling good I could still feel my stomach tighten whenever we pushed a little to hard, but that was about to change. Just as we pulled into the aid station the first place woman was leaving with her pacer. Peter hustled us through in less than a minute and next thing I knew I was running on the semi-flat section. Within a quarter of a mile we caught Kim and her pacer and kept going. She decided that she wanted to hold my pace for bit and stayed fairly close over the next few miles. This proved to be a valuable tool that Peter used to keep me moving at a quicker pace over the last 20 miles of the race. When the terrain would open up he would occasionally turn around and tell me that he could see their lights and I would push a little harder.

Approaching the next aid station we hopped a couple of streams, grabbed some soup and took off. I didn't know it at the time but Kim was only 8 minutes behind me at this point confirming that Peter was being honest about seeing lights and not just using it as a motivational tool. By this time I had stopped asking Peter what time it was or what kind of pace we were on, I just wanted to be done at this point.

As we a came up to the next aid station we made a plan, Peter would fill the bottles while I grabbed a Red Bull I had stashed in my drop bag. Our friends Jeff Lamora and Shane Martin were running this aid station and they were very helpful. I remember Shane telling us that we had a 600' climb that lasted for about a mile then it was all downhill to the finish. The climb was very steep, kind of like the "Grunt" at Wasatch. I'm not sure how long the climb took, but I remember Peter telling me that if I flew down the descent I could go under 25 hours. That was all I needed to hear as I let gravity work for me this time. After a grueling ~4 miles of nasty-torn-up-from-throttle-twisters trail we were dumped out on a paved road. I told Peter there was 2 miles to the finish and asked him how much time we had, a little over 13 minutes he replied. I told him it would be close but I had to at least give it a try. The scene in front of us was incredible. As we ran east toward the lake the sky was starting to turn orange silhoueting the mountains and creating a stunning reflection in the lake.

We made the left turn on to the main highway and I knew we had about a mile to go. I pushed a bit harder and as we rounded a bend in the road I noticed someone running in front of us. Peter dismissed them as an early morning jogger and just about the same time Eric Taft turned around to see us coming. He immediately picked up his pace but I still caught up to him. I told Eric I was trying to go under 25 hours and he should run in with us, but he couldn't hold the pace. A quarter mile later I turned the corner to the finish and ran to the end of the lawn where my family was waiting. I came across the line and the woman holding the watch said 24 59 38. I tried to process the information but I had to ask her again, 24 hours 59 minutes, 38 seconds, 6th place. Yes! I threw my arms in the air and pulled Peter up off the ground to celebrate. A little less than a minute later Eric crossed the line. I told him I felt bad for passing him so close to the finish but I was so focused I couldn't stop. Ty Draney took the win, Storheim overtook Nate McDowell toward the end to grab 2nd, Leland Barker was a very close 4th and Scott Griffith was 5th. Official results here. I took the liberty of deciphering the spreadsheet and posting a little different version here, that contains splits and such (look down in the lower left for the splits sheet).

The night before the race my daughter told me "I have hope in you" and that phrase ran through my head many times throughout the race. Thanks to my family for their support and encouragement, not just on race day but all throughout the year. Thanks to the Lindgren family for lending Peter to me for a long day and night, the experience would have only been half as fun without him. Peter deserves credit for keeping me focused and on track, thanks man, that was a good time. Finally, many thanks to Leland Barker and his crew for the new course and support during the race.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

El Vacquero Loco 50k race report

Last year I had my eye on this race but I thought it was just a little to close to the Wasatch 100 and decided to hold off. That was a mistake, I should have done it.

Erik joined my family and I at our campsite just outside of Afton Wyoming, located a stone's throw from the start/finish line, the night before the race. We had decided to turn the race into a two night camping trip in the Cottonwood Lake campground. A storm had blown through in the early evening and left a chill in the air in it's wake, with temperatures dipping down to 45 degs by the time I went to bed. When I woke up at 5am it was 35 degs and dark. I didn't want to bother with cooking anything that early so I had a clif bar for breakfast and got ready. Erik and I walked down to the start with two minutes to spare before the official start.

Ty sent us on our way down a dirt road for a few hundred meters before we funneled down to an ATV double track trail and I was surprised at how fast everyone was clipping along, it made me wonder if they knew how tough the rest of the course was. The initial climb is about 4 miles long and very runnable, especially with fresh legs, but I just couldn't get going early on. I felt as though I was breathing a lot harder than I should have been and took that as a sign to ease up and relax, there's still 27 miles to go after this climb I thought to myself. I was in 6th place as I was approaching the top of the climb, with one more runner coming up to me, Leland Barker. Leland won the last two editions of this race so I knew if I could stick with him I wouldn't be that far from the front of the race. So I followed Leland over the top and down the first technical descent. We quickly caught up to one of the fast starters then opened a gap once we hit some of the flat sections. I was finally feeling good having no problem matching Leland's pace, I suppose I just needed time to warm up. I found myself getting distracted through this section because the views are simply incredible. Then, after climbing up past a waterfall we reached the lake I recognized from the pictures on the website. I actually stopped for few moments and took in the view, it was stunning.

I caught up to Leland at the aid station next to the lake and I started up the "wall" of a climb leading up to another lake basin higher up. Once we hit the ridge at the top I caught up to another one of the fast starters and started down the long 6 mile descent to the next aid station and turnaround point. Now I was feeling like I was in the groove and put some time on the guys behind me as I caught a glimpse of the 3rd place runner in front of me, which got me even more motivated.

I finally caught up to Chris as we hit the rolling section that led to the turnaround. Once he knew I was behind him he upped the pace and I was content to just follow for the next mile or so. Then as I rounded a corner I saw him standing on the bank of a river, obviously looking for a way to get to the other side without getting his feet wet. I just ran through and kept my pace up to the turnaround point aid station. The turnaround was also the start line for the 25k competitors and I started to see a few of them heading our way, plus I was able to see where 1st and 2nd place were. Soon enough I saw Luke in 1st and a few minutes back was Erik, the lead was about 5 mins for Luke and 3 for Erik. At the turnaround Ty and his crew took care of me, filling my Nathan pack and grabbing my gels before I was off again. Just then Chris popped out of the trail in to the aid station. I started up the trail with a brisk hike so I could get everything in place when I heard Chris coming up fast behind me. I stepped aside and watched him run out of view. I was content to keep to my pace as I thought about what was ahead; a 6 mile climb that gained close to 3000' feet.

Slowly I started to reel in some of the 25k runners, keeping an eye out for Chris up in front and Leland behind. Finally, about a third of way up I spotted Chris and almost at the same time I saw Leland behind me. This was starting to feel like real race. So I started to run some of the stuff I would have normally walked up and as I got closer Chris he increased his pace. Once I caught him I stuck behind him for a mile or so and glanced back again at Leland, he was still closing on us. Right then, with about a mile to go to the top, I jumped around Chris and put in a hard effort. At the top I had opened about a 1 minute gap back to Chris, but I had a hard time telling how far back Leland was and I noticed a 25k runner in a white shirt that I had passed earlier. I guessed that the white shirt guy had just been experiencing a low point when I passed him earlier and now he was making up ground.

I was happy to have the serious climb over with and I was rewarded with a spectacular view from the ridge. I hiked a section I could have run just so I could take it in for a minute. I made it down both of the steep little descents without ever seeing anyone behind me and figured I was putting more time on them. I asked the guy at the second to last aid station how far back I was from the guy in front and he replied 8 or 9 minutes. At that point I resolved to try and hang on to my 3rd place over one more climb and stumble down the last descent to the finish.

This next section felt almost effortless earlier in the day but now I was feeling the effects of the pace I had been keeping. I glanced back periodically and the only runner I could see was the white shirt guy. I wasn't worried, but I didn't understand how he was still making up ground on me. Then, as I started up a short steep climb I got a better look at him, it was Erik! I was really surprised since I hadn't passed him, I yelled his name just to be sure I wasn't seeing things. Apparently he wants to change his middle name to Wrong Way, as he told me about going off course by about 10 minutes. Erik was still motivated and moving faster than me, but I hung on for as long as possible before yielding a little over a minute to him by the time we hit the last climb.

Now it was just four miles of dusty atv double track that dropped about 2,500' to the finish. I gamely tried to keep Erik in sight, mostly to help me stay in front of Chris and Leland who were only 2 to 3 minutes back when I crested the final climb. Erik finally disappeared after a mile or so and I was left to my own devices for motivation, which turned out to be time. I really wanted to finish under 6 hours so I kept pushing, knowing that it was going to be close. I finally started to recognize some of the trail features from the morning and knew I was getting close. Then I saw our campground and kicked it up a notch to cross the line in 5:57:57, good enough for 3rd place. Luke crushed the course record, in his first ultra, with a time of 5:40, Erik wrapped up 2nd in 5:54, Leland followed me in for 4th and Chris came across in 5th. What a great race! See all the results on the website.

At the finish line we were treated to some fine Huckleberry soda and one of the best burgers I could have asked for. If you like spectacular scenery, miles and miles of winding singletrack, and friendly folks then you should definitely put this one on your calendar. Thanks to Ty Draney, his family, and all of the friendly volunteers for making the race so great.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wasatch Speedgoat 50km Report

Ow. That was hard.
To summarize, big up, big down, big up, medium down, medium up, little down, hard little up, little down, little up, big down, finish. Mileage: 31, Total vertical: 10,500+/- (many people are reporting higher numbers, but GPS elevation data just isn't very accurate. If someone has an elevation total from a barometric altimeter I'd love to hear it).

Truth be told, I had a great day. I started pretty conservative and ran with Rich most of the way to the top. On the way over to Baldy my electrolyte capsules fell out of a hole in the baggie I use to carry them in so I stopped to pick a few of them up and lost contact with Rich (note to self put capsules in new bag before races). The long descent to Dutch Flat was fairly uneventful, I did roll an ankle but if anyone made it through this section without doing the same I would be really surprised. The climb out of Mary Ellen was hot and I concentrated on drinking as much as possible. At this point I was in 8th place and I could see Rich about 5 minutes in front of me. The course took us over a ridge, down a short section to the water-only aid station, then all the way up to the Basshole...I mean, tunnel. On the way up to the tunnel I passed a woman that didn't look particularly good and offered her help, but she just wanted to slog through to the tunnel. Now I was in 7th, which, funny enough matched my race number (Karl was playing odds maker at his own race).

After the tunnel it was back down the service road 1,500' or so, then a climb up the ridge to a trail junction just below Hidden Peak. Scott Mason was there to greet us and let us know that we had to go down in to Little Cloud bowl and back up to Hidden Peak. I was starting to hit a low point and I was not happy but I followed Karen, who had just passed me, down the rocky descent. It seems as though my legs had no trouble going down, but when I started the last big ascent they started to object. This is where I decided that doing the Millcreek 50k the week prior was a bad idea. Slogging my way up the climb I was able to see 2nd place male, 1st place female Anita Ortiz followed by 4th overall Storheim coming back down heading to the finish. Eventually I hit the final service road leading to the top and saw my family waiting for me which gave me a bit of a boost but I was still feeling pretty low. Greg's wife, Marge was up there taking pictures and I did my best to put on a happy face (thanks Marge!). Despite the boost, I was finally passed by the guy that had been stalking me since mile 15. If it truly was "all downhill from there" like everyone told me it was, (I'm not at all bitter btw) I think I could have stayed with him. But after a short 200' to 300' descent in to Mineral Basin basin the "true" last climb of the day back out sapped the remaining fuel from my legs and I lost my motivation.

Now it was all downhill from here on the service road, but I was being cautious, thinking that there might be another detour along the way taking us up another climb or traverse of some sort. I ran pretty tentatively going down because I didn't want to injure myself and it seemed pretty likely that I would finish under 7 hours. Then I glanced over my shoulder with about a mile to go and saw someone closing on me, so I picked up the pace for the last mile and finished just in front of Sarah Evans for 9th overall in 6:51. I told Sarah congratulations and thanked her for pushing me to a strong finish.

Karl was at the finish greeting everyone and taking all the positive feedback on the course with a wide grin on his face. My family was there to congratulate me along with Erik and Rich. Congratulations to all that finished, that was tough one. Thanks to all the volunteers who made it possible and to Karl for organizing the whole thing. Results and some great Pictures here and here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


The other day I was going through some of my old trail shoes, trying to decide which ones had some life left in them and which ones could be recycled. It got me thinking, I'm not really attached to a pair of shoes in the same way as I was to one of my bicycles. Even though I really value the protection and comfort that my shoes provide, I don't look at them and think of a particular race or training run. Nor do I have a problem getting rid of them when their time is up. Bikes on the other hand are a completely different story for me. As the Italian sprinter Mario Cipollini once said, "The bicycle has a soul. If you are able to love it as it deserves, it will give you emotions you will never forget".

That being said, this is the list of the bikes I own and have owned throughout my life.

** Fully functional and still ride.
* Still own but not functional.

  • **Schwinn Scrambler 36-36 BMX: 20 in. chrome frame, my first real bike I got at age 6. It had some of those steel waffle rims that made the bike weigh a ton. I did some racing at the 4th street dirt track in Ogden but never really took it serious. Eventually all the components were replaced except for the frame. I still own it and use it when my son and I go hit the dirt jumps in the neighborhood. Memory: Being afraid to leave it in the street after I broke my finger so I walked it home a good half mile, leaving a trail of blood.
  • Centurion Road: My first road bike when I was 14. It was red with white trim. Just as heavy as my bmx but of course it had gears. I put some cool downtube shifters on it along with toe clips and took it farther than I thought I was capable of going. I remember watching LeMond and the Hampster in the Tour and getting inspired to race, but that would have to wait for a few years...Memory: Riding it up North Ogden Divide from Sunset city and getting back at 9pm, no helmet, no food, no brain.
  • Cannondale Road: Age 22 I bought my second road bike from a soccer player trying to get enough money together to go to Europe. It was one of those oversized aluminum crit frames that was super stiff. Green with orange trim and to big for me at 56cm (I would normally ride a 52cm). I never really fell in love with this bike but I did race it a few times at the DMV and Utah Summer Games. Memory: Riding it up the old snowbasin road, dying in the heat.
  • *Ciocc Road: Age 24 I bought this steel Italian road frame from a consignment shop for $300. I dreamed of owning an Italian bike since I was 15 and finally had one. The frame was red with chrome chain stays, seat stays and fork. I raced this bike for 2 years and did quite well on it but it was on the heavy side and a little small for me. The frame now hangs as art in my shop area. Memory: Winning a DMV crit in the B group with downtube shifters and 52/42 front chainrings.
  • *Rogue Road: One of my true treasures. I met framebuilder Jeff Rogers when I joined the Utah Premier racing team. Jeff was building custom steel frames in his basement and offered a discount to team members for a frame. I think I paid $400 for a custom built frame (which is ridiculously inexpensive). Many local racers had a Rogue frame including Dave Zabriskie and Levi Leipheimer. Sadly Jeff passed away suddenly in 2003. I still have this frame but I will no longer ride it. Memory: No doubt about it, winning the 2001 Pro/1/2 Utah State road race on the only steel frame in the field.
  • *Bianchi Cyclocross: Classic green celeste color. This was an opportunity buy as I was at a warehouse of lost shipments. The frame was sitting there without a fork and a small dent in the downtube. I paid $20 for the frame and had Jeff build me a fork for $80. I cobbled together some parts and started 'cross racing later that year in '97. Memory: Funny enough it was watching my friend and super fast dirt racer, Gabriel Blanco use it during a 'cross race at wheeler farm. It hasn't gone that fast since then.
  • GT Time Trial: Another opportunity by from the warehouse. Four frames for $400. They were TT bikes developed for '96 Atlanta Olympics and used by the Montgomery Bell team (pre-US Postal). The bikes were ridden by Nate Reiss, Darren Baker, Tyler Hamilton, and Marty Jemison. I ended up with Darren Baker's. Memory: Taking 3rd in the Utah State 40k TT in 52:39, almost 5 mins behind 21 year-old Dave Z.
  • **Redline Cross bike: The Bianchi listed above was just a little to heavy to be competitive with so I opted for the cheapest aluminum frame I could find. I recently turned this one into a singlespeed with the intention of racing it in 'cross. Memory: Taking 5th place in the A+ category at trailside park. Small wonder, the course had a ton of climbing.
  • Rogue Time Trial bike: Jeff convinced me I could use a better TT bike than the one I had. For whatever reason I never really found my mojo on this bike and sold it after the season.
  • **Rocky Mountain Road: This was my first "pro-form" deal on a frameset. I think I paid somewhere around $800 for my first aluminum scandium road bike. Scandium was new material at the time and I thought I was taking a big risk. This is the bike I currently use as my commuter. Memory: Winning the prologue and 3rd stage of the 2002 Cache Classic (My one and only time trial win).
  • Fondriest Don Racer Road: This was a team bike that I fell in love with. I only owned it for about six weeks before I had to give it back because a dispute between the bike shop and distributor. It was flat black with white trim and had the stiffer, more responsive, compact geometry that I had been avoiding (because it wasn't the "traditional" horizontal top tube). Memory: Riding out to Hanksville and back with Flynn then going up Wall street leg breaker at the end.
  • DeRosa UD: This frame replaced the Fondriest. It was made with the same material as the Fondriest and the size was the same but there was something a little different about it. Maybe it was the geometry or the way it was put together I just never felt quite right on it. Our relationship ended later that year when I crashed on it and broke my femur. Memory: take a guess.
  • Orbea Lobular Road: This Spanish built bike looked good and felt really comfortable. However it wasn't as stiff as the full aluminum frames I had been riding because it had carbon seat stays and chain stays. I probably didn't give it a fair chance since I rode it the year I was bringing my leg back to life. Memory: Leading out Flynn at the Ecology Classic for the sprint bonus while he was wearing the sprint leaders jersey.
  • Giant XCR Carbon Road: My first an only full carbon frame. I promptly sold it when I was done racing because it was so nice. When I put my carbon wheels on, this bike tipped the scales just a shade over 16lbs. I was very hesitant because the bad reputation Giant had from their early aluminum frames but this bike was a dream to ride. Memory: Hard to say because I did a lot of racing on it, but winning the East Canyon road race (after Pardyjak kept me sheltered all day) is probably it.
  • **Cannondale F400 Mtn Bike: The latest edition to the family and my first mountain bike. Leo bestowed this upon me before he moved back east. One of my favorite features of this bike is the disc brakes. Finally my hands don't cramp on long descents from pulling so hard on the brakes.
I think I've had a few more bikes than shoes at this point, but not for to much longer...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Squaw Peak 50 - 2008

In case you were thinking I had abandoned this blog, I haven't. I've been posting on a new blog called the MRC with a few friends of mine. Anyway back to the race.
Squaw Peak was my first 50 miler back in 2006 after my good friend Leo convinced me I had to do this one while pacing him at Wasatch in 2005. This would also be my 10th "official" ultra and the 4th one this season. My body was feeling the effects of the busy spring with some bursitis in my knee and a tender tibia on my other leg. Not that these are good excuses, many runners toe the line with some kind of issue, I just knew it had the potential to make for a long day.
The forecast called for cool conditions with a chance for rain in the morning, HA! It was raining well before we started and made for some slippery climbing up to Hope Canyon. A group of us formed behind the leaders including Peter, Dave Hunt, Brian Beckstead and Shane Martin among others. I was making a conscious effort to start slower, as were the guys I was with. Since the conditions were slower this part was easy. The climbs were much like ice but with slippery mud instead, occasionally I would have to grab a branch to pull myself up.
Eventually our little group started to spread out as the rain gave way to snow and the temperature started dropping. I ran with Shane Martin for a few miles and after he eased off I caught up to "Uncle Dave" Hunt (uncle because he's wise in the ways of pacing). I ran with Dave all the way from the the Kolob Basin Overlook aid station at mile 15, where it was practically a blizzard, down to the next aid station at about mile 21. I left the aid a little before Dave and headed out on to one of my least favorite sections which includes 3 miles of pavement to aid station #6 at mile 26. The rain had subsided but it was still overcast. I glanced up at Windy Peak which we would eventually have to pass over, and it was hidden in cloud cover. Dave caught up to me shortly before reaching this next aid station and we ran in together. Karl Meltzer, was there waiting to pace Cheryl (his wife) in her first 50 miler, along with Dave's pacer Bryon Powell. Dave, Bryon and myself left together but I could only hold their pace for a couple of miles before I had to let them go. I was content to finally get to run by myself and enjoy this section that is usually very hot. I knew at this point that I was running in 9th or 10th overall but I just kept it nice and easy thinking about the brutal climb up to Windy Pass.
I went through Little Valley aid station at mile 33, fueled up and started the long climb. Last year I took off out this aid station to fast and paid for it in spades when I reached the serious climbing. This time around I kept it to a hike until I reached the long traverse which is very runnable. I felt great and my knee was feeling fine so at this point I was cautiously optimistic that I would be able to hold my position to the finish. Just as I reached the base of the steep climb the clouds began to clear and the sun came out. It didn't seem so bad at first but when I stepped on to the snow covered climb the reflective heat started to make me hot. Not only that but I left my sunglasses back at the car so my eyes were getting blinded by the light. I decided that no matter what I would keep moving, even if it was slow. The fresh snow that had been dumped earlier probably helped with the traction but the ascent up to Windy Peak was still tough. Finally I saw the pile of rocks that indicates the summit proper and knew I was just a short distance from the aid station. Even though it is downhill to the Windy Pass aid station it is still very technical and difficult. For the first quarter mile or so there isn't even a trail, so you just kind of pick your way down through the softball sized jagged rocks. I made it down to where there is an actual trail and could here the aid station crew just ahead. The volunteers at this aid station deserve special mention because everything that comes up is packed in by them, thanks guys! They filled my bottles for me and I took off on the descent. One of the volunteers, Jim Skaggs informed me that the snow lasted for about 3 to 4 miles of the 7 mile descent. No worries I thought, we've been running on snow all spring. I was able to glissade a few sections at the top and pretty much just ran over the same spots that the front runners had made in other snowy areas. I was a little cautious about tweaking my weak knee, but it was holding together fine. About halfway down I found fellow MRC member Greg Norrander hiking up taking pictures. I paused for a few seconds and he informed me that Storheim was closing on Belshaw and that Rich was about 5 to 10 minutes in front of me. I tried sending some positive vibes to Erik, hoping he could close down the gap and get the win. My knee was starting to act up, but as long as I kept it tracking straight I had very little pain associated with it. Then I hit some of the nastiest mud I encountered all day. It was the kind of mud that just keeps on sticking to itself and before you know it your shoes weigh a 2lbs. each. My knee really got sore through here but I knew I was almost done. Sure enough I came out of the trees and saw the big grassy meadow and Rich just about a minute in front of me. I was feeling pretty good and really wanted to try for a sub 10:30 but I knew it would be tight since it would only leave me about 30 minutes to run the last 3.7 miles. Rich and I ran through the last aid station together and I was all fired up to get this, my least favorite section, over with. Rich decided he needed to back off the pace and wished me luck. In my two previous races here I have never been able to run this last road section, but I had decided today was the day. Then I saw Storheim driving up in his car. He yelled some words of encouragement and I asked him if he won. He replied that he missed winning by 30 seconds! After about a mile and a half I caught up to Karl Jarvis whom I had run with very early in the day. I made sure he was alright then continued on to the finish. I knew I was getting close and I kept nervously looking at my watch to see if I would make my time. Then at 10 hours 27 minutes I could hear the crowd gathered at the finish area and that gave me an additional boost. My kids came running up to me and we ran in to the finish together. I ended up coming in 6th place in 10:29. Rich came in a few minutes back for 8th and Peter in 15th or 16th. No doubt about it, the conditions ruled the day on an already tough course. As an indication as to how tough it was, times were generally ~1 hour slower. Last year I took 19th in a time of 10:07, whereas this year I was 23 minutes slower and moved up to 6th.
Congratulations to everyone who finished a truly epic edition of Squaw Peak. Thanks to all the volunteers who also had to endure the cold, wet conditions, without your support this race wouldn't even happen. And thanks to RD John Bozung for pulling it all together.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Catching Up

So it's been a while, I could come up with plenty of good excuses, but really I just stretched myself a bit thin. My body responded last week by giving me a pretty hearty head cold, forcing me to rest. Despite being busy the last month or so has been great.
On March 22nd I joined 70 other trail runners at the 3rd annual Buffalo Run. for the second year in a row there was a 50 mile option in addition to a 50k and 25k race. Originally I had planned on doing the 50k as I didn't care for the 50 mile route from 2007. But RD Jim Skaggs changed the 50 mile route to include the 25k/50k route before heading over to the east side of the island, making it a fun course with more up and down singletrack. Peter and I rode up with Greg and arrived at the start line a good 30 mins before the start. As we jumped out of the car to get our drop bags in the proper place we were greeted with a bitter cold north wind. I would guess that the wind chill was hovering around 20 degs so we opted for a warm-up that involved sitting in the car with the heater on. Storheim liked that idea and jumped in for the final countdown. With about 1 minute to go before the start we got out of the car and toed the start line, anxious to get going and warm up. Storheim took off right away and I stepped up the pace to catch up. We held a pretty good pace that warmed us up as we turned our back to the wind and made our way up the first climb of the day. Next up was one of the highlights of the early morning, the descent down to split rock bay. The full moon was hovering in the western sky reflecting off of the Great Salt Lake creating a stunning scene. Thankfully the descent isn't very technical so could afford to take it in a bit more than I usually would. Storheim and I continued together through the 20 mile mark where he found an extra gear, steadily pulling way as we made our way to the east side of the island. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful as I held on for 2nd place in 7:42. Storheim put 38 minutes in to me cruising in for 1st in 7:04 and Greg had a solid race taking 6th in 8:32. I was really pleased with my race as I ran with a steady effort throughout and managed to finish strong. I was really proud of Betsy, my wife, for running and finishing the 25k a 2nd time.

Next up was a family trip to Moab for my daughter's birthday. We had a great time hiking over 12 miles in Arches National Park. I was able to squeeze in a 15 mile run on an abandoned stretch of 4wd road in the park. The plan was to run from Balanced rock to Tower arch and have the family meet me at the other end. It started out great, running up and down the hills through the desert but after about 7 miles the hard-packed dirt road gave way to soft sand. Of course this slowed me down considerably and my supplies were gone by the time I reached Tower arch. I didn't regret doing the run, but I don't think I'll be doing that again. The rest of the trip was great. The highlight had to be the self guided (permit) trip through the Fiery Furnace. The lowlight was coming back from 60 degrees and sunshine to snow packed roads over soldier summit.

The following weekend I was able to get back on the trails with Peter and Greg. We started at 5:30 from the east side of City Creek and ran on the shoreline toward Red Butte where we planned on meeting up with Erik and Rich. So there we were just cruising along east of the UofU parking lot approaching Red Butte when we found a University cop standing on the trail. He told us we had to turn around and wouldn't tell us why but did tell us it would be a couple of hours. Shortly after we turned around we decided to head up the mountain to Mt. Van Cott instead going around. Erik and Rich gave us a yell from below as they had gone the long way around blockade on the road. Erik was able to get more information out of the cop from the other side and told us that they had some type of dangerous chemical that needed to be disposed of so the bomb squad was going blow it up. Not quite as exciting as the manhunt we had imagined but still very odd. As we were making our way down from Van Cott to the mouth of Red Butte we heard the explosion and held our breath...Apparently everything was fine since nobody dropped dead and I didn't hear about it in the news. How many times have you been stopped by a police officer on the trail?

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Trail Goodness

We had a full crew, with Peter, Storheim, Sam and Greg hitting the trail at six am from Morris Meadow. As I popped out of the car I notice Peter was wearing pants while I was wearing shorts. I asked if he was going to run with them when Sam piped in with "no shorts!". It was probably 40 to 45 degrees which was quite a bit warmer than what we have been used to, so shorts it was.
The trail heading off the bench down to City Creek was slightly frozen mud with hard packed snow and ice, typical conditions for most of the day. Just as we were ready to crest the first climb of the day the sun was starting to come up.

From 2008-1-3 Run ...
(Note the moon just above the ridge)
After cresting the climb we spooked a herd of deer. These guys have had a tough winter and the two small bucks that made it through have been rewarded with more than a few does to choose from. We lost Peter shortly after this as he took off in the same direction as the deer...
From 2008-1-3 Run ...
The air was remarkably clear because of high winds which provided clear views for miles.
From 2008-1-3 Run ...
(looking south, lone peak to the right)
Next we started the descent to the big plateau between Salt Lake City and North Salt Lake city. This piece of land received a bit of press in the last couple of years because the city of North Salt Lake wanted to develop it while (now former) Mayor Rocky Anderson wanted it preserved as open space. I believe that Salt Lake City bought a large portion of it in order to protect it.
From 2008-1-3 Run ...
(Peter, Sam, Greg, Storheim with Antelope Island in the background. All of us but Sam have a date there in 3 weeks for 50 mile Buffalo Run)
After the flat plateau is one of my favorite parts of the run, a very long sustained climb. The wind was howling but the views were incredible.

The next section rolls along the ridge, where we started encountering deeper snow. Most of it was still hard enough that it could support us, however we found a few sections that we started post holing.

On this last picture with the view of the Wasatch front you can actually see Mt Nebo, which I can never recall seeing from this vantage point. Follow the long prominent ridge line down from Lone Peak and you can see a shadowy figure of a mountain.
This next descent is one that I've called the "drop" in the past but I think I might start calling it the "quad-buster". We all made it down in piece but left some flesh in the snow above...

In order Peter, myself, and Storheim.
From here we breezed back to the start, then went and did some bonus miles up on the shoreline. All in all about 15 miles with about 4000' vert, bloody shins, dirty shoes and grins from ear to ear.
Peter shows off his trophy back in the parking lot.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Just what I needed

At 6am on Saturday Peter and Greg met me at the mouth of Emigration for a trail run. I didn't care what the conditions were like I was not going to run on the road. The plan was to do a route I call short and steep, it's only 16 miles but it packs in 5000' worth of climbing. We usually start by going up the south face of Mt. Wire but we knew that it would be pretty ugly going up that way so we opted for George's hollow instead. There was a light rain as we left the parking lot and flipped on our headlamps and started climbing the frozen snow covered trail. As we made our ascent up Mt Wire the wind picked up and it started snowing ever so lightly on us. We hit the saddle before the last little climb to the top and lost the trail. It's not a big deal as it just makes a slight uphill traverse across a west facing slope then up to the summit. I decided to take a slightly lower line than Peter and Greg that ended up being a frustrating for me, funny for them. When I was about 1/4 of the way across I lost traction and started sliding down about 10'. I took a couple of steps up then slid another 10'. Pattern repeated itself until I had lost a good 40' of from where I started. The funny part was that I couldn't stop myself once I would start sliding. The snow underneath was so hard I couldn't even kick my shoes into it. Eventually I just backtracked and took the higher line, good times. We finally made the summit, snapped a pic, and downed some food before we started the descent.
(Greg and Peter on Mt Wire, Airway beacon constructed in 1942 in the background)
Next we headed over to the living room then picked our way down to the back of Red Butte gardens and over to the mouth of Red Butte canyon. Up to Mt VanCott, down to the shoreline and back to the parking lot. We decided to cut out Dry Creek since we would get 3 hours without it and we were all feeling good. What a blast! I felt rejuvenated even if the conditions weren't ideal. My only regret on this run was that I didn't use the screw shoe and the conditions couldn't have been better for them. Maybe next weekend...

Friday, February 22, 2008

2008 Moab 50k+ Race Report

When I registered for this race back in December it was my intention to actually "race", but that notion disappeared as quickly as the trails did in the month of January. With near record snow coming down more of my training miles ended up being on the road than I like and my normal Sunday run was replaced with family ski days at Solitude. The only part I'm complaining about is the high amount of road miles, the skiing has been incredible.
The family decided to stay behind on this trip so I was able to hitch a ride with my friend Greg, his wife Marge and their sweet dog Isabelle. On the way down Greg and I nervously watched as the snow finally gave way to bare ground after we were south of I-70.
The starting group for the 50k was at least double the size of last year and there were plenty of fast guys in the bunch. I was able to catch up with many friends as we waited for 8am start including Sam who was attempting his first official ultra. I also saw my friend Scott Jaime from Colorado and Liz Irvine who was nursing a cold. The buzz at the start was mostly about how excited everyone was to be in shorts and feel dry dirt under their shoes. Obviously not a big surprise since 90% of the field was from Utah and Colorado. Before I knew 8 am arrived and just as the sun started to warm the cool morning air (35 deg) we were off.
I started with a pretty conservative pace and picked my way through the pack until I had some breathing room. I decided that a fast race for me would be a sub-5 hour time but I knew 5:30 was more likely. Within a couple of minutes we started the first climb and I was bit surprised to find a fair amount of snow and ice through this section. Not a big deal though, because it disappeared as soon as we started the descent. At this point I noticed Storheim up ahead so I increased my pace bit to catch up. We chatted for a few minutes and remarked about the quick pace that the front runners we setting, including Kyle Skaggs, Tony Krupicka, Karl Meltzer, Ian Torrence, and my friend Scott among others. Storheim has one of those cool new GPS watches that does everything except actually run and it was telling him that we were holding a 6 min/per mile pace on the flat desert canyon road. It was about that same time we backed off a bit and we were soon caught by Darcy Africa. We ran as a group for a few miles before Storheim took off, it would be the last I would see of him until the finish line. Just past the first aid station at mile 6, Darcy, another guy, and myself caught up to Jared Campbell. I was about 5 minutes ahead of my 5 hour pace but still felt comfortable. The four of us then took turns setting the pace all the way up the first long climb to the rim above the starting area. By now the temperature was 'soaring' in to the 40's and it was time to shed some clothing. It was at this same point last year while I was running with Ian Torrence when he motioned over to the rim and said something to the effect of "the view is too good to pass up", so we left the trail for a minute or so and soaked in the incredible scene. I made sure I did the same this year and spent some time on the edge taking in the view of Arches National Park and the La Sal mountains in the distance, it was incredible. I hit the trail with renewed energy and bounded down the descent to aid station 2 at mile 13. I didn't bother to stop as I still had enough fluid left in my bottles but made a conscious effort to make sure they were gone by aid station 3 at mile 17. I made a mental note that the aid station mileage was slightly off, being closer to 14 miles instead of 13 so that still put me ahead of pace by 5 minutes or so. It was through this stretch that Helen Cospolich caught up to me and we ran together for a few miles on our way to aid station 3. I made a quick stop, filled my bottles and grabbed a piece of banana before heading off to the second big climb of the day.
This next section was where I went off course last year with Storheim and Brian Beckstead, getting in some bonus miles, 3 in all, but who's counting. I passed the familiar spot in the road where we went right instead of left and chuckled to myself. At this point I was feeling good as I started the climb, but then something happened, I lost focus and I didn't care anymore. My legs were feeling slightly weak from the lack of climbing in my training and now that the temperature had risen to nearly 50 degrees I was feeling hot. My mind started to drift as I thought about skiing the next day with the family and the cold six pack of moose drool sitting in my fridge at home. I had set a goal time of 3hrs 5mins to this next aid station at mile 21 and as I watched 3:05:00 tick by I lost a little bit more of my motivation. I eventually made it to aid station 4 in 3:17 so I was only 10 to 15 minutes behind schedule but my mood continued continued the downward trend as I set off on the slickrock portion of the run.
On this section last year I remembered standing around looking for flags, unsure about whether I should head up, down or across the slickrock. This year I was prepared as I had loaded a breadcrumb trail of waypoints on to my GPS. Now all I had to do was look down at my wrist when I was unsure about the direction I should take. I also believe that the course marking was slightly better this year however the rock was still as unforgiving as ever. This seven mile section looks like a saw blade on the profile. The terrain not only undulates up and down but much of it is off camber, kind of like running on the edge of highly crowned road. I was happy to see the last aid station come in to view with the snow packed La Sal mountains as a backdrop and almost instantly my mood improved. I sucked down some flat coke, filled my bottle and took off for the finish line. I knew well before this that sub 5 was out of the question but as I glanced at my watch I noticed it read 4:41 as I left the last aid station. I quickly realized I could make my realistic goal of 5:30 if I pushed a bit harder and that's what I decided to do. Gradually I picked up my pace as the coke took effect and I felt like I was cruising the last six miles even though my pace was relatively slow at 8 min/per mile. I hit the last steep downhill section, anxious to be done and crossed the line in 5:32. I had bettered my time from last year by nearly 10 minutes but I had spent nearly 25 minutes off course last year. So overall I was a bit slower this go around but I felt comfortable with my effort, never pushing that hard and not truly trashing my legs.
It was nice to sit around the finish area and hear all the stories from the day and cheer on other finishers as I enjoyed some tasty potato soup. Sam rolled in just a few minutes after me grinning from ear to ear. Storheim had already showered and taken a nap by the time I came in, smoking the course in 4:47. As proof to just how fast the race was this year, Karl Meltzer ran the same time he did last year (which was good for 1st) and took 7th this year. My time of 5:41 from last year was good enough for 19th, while 5:32 this time around put me in 33rd. Kyle Skaggs and Tony Krupicka crossed the line together in 4:03! Check out the rest of the results on the Moab 50K+ site. Overall I had a great time running around on the dirt (and rock) enjoying the warm sunshine. Thanks to Chris Martinez and Greg Poettgen for their excellent organization and all the volunteers that made it possible.
Lessons learned from this Ultra:
  1. Road miles cannot be substituted for trails.
  2. Time on your feet in the mud and snow is still better than the road.
  3. Races can be used as training as long as you keep a lid on it.
Now, time to get back on the trails...

Sunday, January 6, 2008

2008 Race Schedule

One vastly different aspect about ultras from cycling is the fact that races fill up the moment they open for registration. That never happened in the 10 years I spent racing my bike. So as a consequence you have to be on the ball in order to get into some of the popular races. The other annoying part is that registration for the ultras during the summer open during December and January, so plunking down the cash for 4 or 5 races can get expensive during the holidays. I guess the bright side is that I know which races I'm doing right now and I can use that as motivation to get out on these cold snowy days.
The schedule thus far:
The second half of the season is really dictated by Wasatch. If I am fortunate enough to make it in I will just have to see how I feel during July and August. I might need to slow down and let my legs heal from the first 5 months. One thought I've entertained, is that might try doing the Bear even if I get into Wasatch. I had such a great time there last year that I'd really like to do it again.
Initially I had wanted to do the San Juan Solstice in June but we decided to do a family vacation to San Francisco instead. That's how I ended up signing up for the Miwok 100k. I'm really excited to run this one. It's in the Marin Headlands and the scenery looks incredible. The trail looks kind of low on the technical scale so hopefully I'll trip a little less while I'm taking in the views. A bonus to this one is that Peter is running it as well. He was supposed to pace his sister at Western States, but since she didn't get in she is going to run Miwok as a consolation. This race seems to be pretty popular with the fast folks as it is a qualifier for Western States. If you are in the top three men or women you get an automatic birth and you can bypass the their lottery. Lon Freeman won last year in a time of 8:09:52 breaking the course record from 1999. In case you were wondering that's 7:53 min/mile with 10,000 vertical, that's fast! I think I'll probably set a time goal for a sub 11, but who knows since I've never seen the trail.
I suppose with all these races lined up I should get out for a run or two.