Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Peacock 100k Race Report

I kinda mentioned this in my pre-race thoughts, but the week after Cascade I ran six miles, the next week 35, then 45, a couple of weeks at around 50-55, and then just 20 this week.  I didn't feel ready.  This is super low mileage. Would my summer fitness hold me over, or was it fading, leaving me with a long tough day in the hot mountains of the North Shore?  Would the IT band flare up and leave me limping back down the hill?  62 miles and 17,500' of climbing should answer the questions!
Of course, I went into this thing with a very minor head cold, and few expectations.  I knew the course record was 13h09m, which speaks to a very tough trail.  I knew Tracy Garneau was coming, and she is  a world class elite from Canada.  I figured I'd just run and see how things played out.  My excitement to really throw down had been lacking since Cascade Crest.  The day prior my wife asked me if I was even excited to do this race.  My answer was... uhhh, I guess yes?
An easy drive to the North Shore for the 6am start, and before I blinked I was cruising up the first big climb.  The course roughly goes like this:  A very big climb, right turn onto a counterclockwise loop that brings you back to near the top of the first climb, then a jeep trail (Crossover Road) that leads to a paved road off the mountain all the way back to sea level (Long Road).  Back up Long Road, back over Crossover, and back down the first climb.  That's 30 miles.  Repeat for the 100k (with a small and very tough twist known as Are's loop to make the mileage right).  Anyway, I quickly found myself in the lead of the 100k, and right behind two guys running the 50k.  I knew there were a bunch of 100k'ers breathing down my neck, but I kept a nice steady pace and enjoyed the run all the way around to the bottom of Long Road (19 miles).  I made sure to smile a lot!  Temps were reasonable due to showers moving through, and even though that made the jeep roads really slick, I was thankful for the lack of serious heat. 
The return trip up Long Road was the first opportunity to see the competition, as they were coming down.  Local fast guy Alex was about .5 miles behind me, and Tracy was about a mile back.  Close!  I powered up Long Road, but near the top I started to become light headed and dizzy.  My mental power drained away, and I cursed the slippery Crossover road.  I started thinking that just one loop was smart.  My IT band was bothering me, and why push it?  By this time I was leading everyone including all runners in the 'short' 50k race.  This mental funk was ridiculous!  Could you imagine dropping out from the lead with a healthy body?  The pressure of running off the front was hurting my head.  I started to question if I even had the strong mind required to be competitive at this sort of thing!  This is called a 'low spot', and it happens a lot in really long races.  Easy to see that sitting here, but when I'm out there experiencing the thing it feels different.  Nevertheless, I finished the loop, and started the second, knowing that hanging around the start/finish/midpoint aid station could spell disaster.  My competition was coming down, and the gap seemed about the same.  The climb was awful, but my mental power started to come back.  I hit Are's loop and started to think about racing.  A little to early for that, but I came up with a mantra:  DON'T LET THEM HAVE THIS SECTION OF TRAIL!  I'd look at the climb ahead, and determine to cover it as fast as I could (with respect to distance remaining).  Anyone behind me was going to have to take this lead from me.  I must have repeated some variation of that mantra about 1000 times... I wasn't going to surrender!  At the bottom of Long Road again (51 miles in), I felt comfortable... for about a second.  It was then that I realized that Alex was less than a quarter mile away.  Three minutes behind including his stop to refill the bottles.  I just knew he was going to pass me, but I regrouped and determined to give him a fight, and hauled back up Long.  I had become emotionally invested in winning this thing, and couldn't bear to lose it in the last hour or so. I hiked the steep stuff faster than I've ever hiked before (let's just say hiking isn't my specialty).  No kidding, I blasted Highway To Hell on my iPod.  Every tedious steep climb on Crossover I repeated my mantra, running faster splits than I had 40 miles before.  I hit the last aid and left in a big hurry.  I sacrificed my legs on the brutal descent back off the mountain.  As much as it would have depressed me to lose the lead at the bottom of Long at 51 miles, I sure couldn't lose it with three to go!  I hammered the switchbacks, tried my best to float over the rocks, and finally flew through the finish in 11:35.  Good for the win, and a Course Record of 1h35m.  Alex had faded some, but finished in a very solid 12:10, also below the old CR.  I wouldn't have run nearly as fast without him!  At the finish aid station I overheard him asking about vegan food.  Sure enough, another vegan runner.  This day we went 1-2!
I'm very proud of this performance.  Sure, different competition could have beaten me, or the same competition with different training, but I'm proud that I found the mental power to come back from a big rut and run hard when my physical power was diminishing.  It was a special feeling.  I learned a few things.  Take care of the body and it will bounce back from a low.  Mental power is worth more than physical power (sometimes).  And don't underestimate how much time you can make up (or lose) in the last few miles.  I put three minutes per mile on Alex from the bottom of Long to the finish (11 miles).  My high point coincided with his low, and that just goes to show you that it isn't over until it's over!  Now for another break, and then begins HURT 100 training!
Peacock is an outstanding event.  It's an 'old school' ultra.  Hard nosed, but with super friendly staff and volunteers.  Incredible views of awesome terrain, the pacific ocean, and beaches cap this thing off.  To all the mainlanders:  It's worth the trip out to HI to run this one!
Thanks to everyone involved in this event, and huge thanks to my wife for carrying the family while I took off and ran for the day! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Peacock 100k Ultramarathon plans

Well, here we are again!  As I write this its been over seven weeks since Cascade Crest 100, and with less just two days to go until Peacock 100k, I'd have to say the hay is in the barn!

What hay?  I sure don't feel like I've been training like a professional (good thing I'm not)!  Hopefully taking it kinda easy was actually the smartest move I could make.  With HURT 100 coming up in January I just didn't have it in me to train seriously for that long, so that'll start after Peacock recovery!  My general plan after Cascade Crest 100 was to try not to lose too much fitness, get a couple of fast runs in, a few runs in the three hour range, and one in the five hour range.  I accomplished all those goals, and I also got to run in some pretty special places (more on that in a bit), but I've been hampered by this issue with my right leg.  First I feel a tight and achy feeling in my hip/glute, quickly my quad gets involved, and then the knee starts to hurt.  Once it starts it can bring me to a standstill.  Going uphill irritates it, but going downhill really pisses it off.  My knee seizes up, and in seconds I can't bend my leg... on some runs.  The day after a bad 'episode' I'll have a pain free run.  Speed doesn't seem to bother it.  This has kinda slowed my momentum, and is killing my motivation to really get after it.  All I can do is hope that this doesn't bother me on race day!  Enough about this... now I've put it out there, I'm going to try to forget it!

The training:  Well, like I said, it's been pretty hodge-podge.  But... I've visited and run in FOUR countries other than the US (plus Guam) in the last six weeks.  The highlights were running in the world class botanical gardens in Singapore, and everything about Sydney Australia.  Check out my pics!

Near the top of Olomana, Kailua HI... a classic 1500' climb in a smidge over a mile!  This is my home... still can't believe it!

Part of the Coastal Trail, New South Wales, Australia.  This was an awesome 26++ mile run, even though I ran out of water for the last two hours!

More views from the Coastal Trail.  Pretty tough to run fast when always stopping to take in the views!
Botanical gardens, Sydney, AUS
Sydney Harbor
Botanical gardens, Singapore!
So what are the plans for Peacock?  NOTHING!!  I understand there may be some really fast elite level women coming to town.  I hope they kill this race!  I'm going out there hoping to pace myself properly, eat and drink well, and have something left at the end.  I'm not going to pin my hopes on a win or anything else.   I feel like my training may have left my endurance lacking a bit, but I hope to make up for that by taking in lots of calories and keeping my brain happy.  It's going to be furnace hot up there.  Exposed trails and no trade winds will cause carnage I'm guessing.  I'm going to take it easy in the heat, and really dial the effort back. 
Well, that's about it!  I'll check back in after the race and let everyone know how it went!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cascade Crest 100 Race Report!

When I run a really tough mountain 100 in under 21 hours, near the front of the pack, with no injuries or even lingering soreness, well, the truth is that I'd be a brat to complain!

I've given it a month to let the emotions stabilize.  For me there are such a plethora of feelings flowing through my body after these things that I'm liable to throw it all down here, and the result of that is a long boring blog post!

Hey, this race didn't go the way I had hoped.  Let it go right?  We had a great Pacific Northwest vacation, but the week prior to the race I suffered a pretty significant head cold.  Additionally I just couldn't find the right mental attitude.  Perhaps I was trying too hard, but there were almost no nerves, not enough excitement, and too much worry about what other runners were going to bring to the trails.  I knew this was wrong, but I couldn't seem to change it.

Race day dawned beautiful, and I had the best night of sleep prior to a 100 ever.  My head was pounding from the lingering cold, but a vitamin I and coffee killed it.  After checking in and hanging out with friends and family for a while we were off.

I ran at the front for a few miles, and then deliberately dropped back just a bit.  The weather was great, and the pace felt easy, even though I was gaining on my splits from last year.  I still couldn't find the right head space though.  Way too much worrying, and not enough smiling.  Strange!

Hey, this course is fantastic!  Amazing alpine views, great trails, great organization and people.  There are millions of reasons to smile.  I even stopped to pick blueberries at one point (and judging by the piles of bear scat, I wasn't the only one in the mountains with that idea)!

I really enjoyed a bunch of miles with Jon Robinson.  I learned a lot about positive attitude from Jon, and I'm committed to carrying that with me to my next long run (in four weeks)!  Prior to the Tunnel (which has no light and is well over two miles long) I realized my small flashlight was dead.  I pushed the pace a bit and easily caught Jon.  We ran the tunnel at a low seven minute per mile pace (felt easy) and rolled into Hyak aid (mile 53).  The highlight of the race waited for me there.  My beautiful wife and three sons, mother in law, grand mother in law, sister, and her daughter!!  I was SO proud, and grateful that I got to see their beautiful faces.  Any evil thoughts of calling it a day there were banished, and I rolled out in third place overall.  I didn't know that second place was mere minutes ahead. 

I felt smooth running out of Hyak, but I'd gradually stopped taking in calories due to an iffy stomach.  The next big climb didn't happen quickly.  Although I descended rapidly, after the 'Trail From Hell' I was back on my splits from last year (I had been 30 minutes up).  I dropped to fourth, fifth, and eventually sixth place.  I told Terry (my pacer from 73 to the finish) that I wasn't close to the lead, so I didn't want to race for fifth.  I just didn't want to push it at all.  The Needles were steep as hell, and the descents were loose and sketchy.  I left the last aid running strong and smelling the barn, but a wrong turn a bit later destroyed the momentum again (and lost us ten minutes), and I just mustered enough to finish under 21 hours.

My family was at the finish.  They had been waiting for a couple of hours just in case I had a great day.  What a wonderful thing to hug my kids and wife after such a rollercoaster ride!

It was also great to see that Brian Rusiecki ran a solid 18:45 for the win, and Jon Robinson came in an hour later in second.  Jon put on a clinic on finishing strong.

My post race analysis goes like this:  21 hours on such a tough course isn't bad!  Many others finish ten hours later.  My training was good.  Strong legs and great cardio.  The missing links were mental and nutrition.  The two might be linked.  Lack of calories leads to listless mental performance.  Also, lack of recent experience at the distance.  You just can't train your mind for how you're going to feel after 15 or so hours running in the mountains.  You gotta do it, and my head wasn't ready to fight back after night fell and my body requested a slow down.  Recovery happened in a flash.  Within a couple of days I was barely sore.  That's all good, because I'm running Peacock Flats 100 kilometers on the North Shore on October 19th.  A graduate level ultra with over 17000 feet of climbing, and strong competition to boot.  I'm back running again, and plan to try for a good run there.  Most important lesson I'm bringing to Peacock is to SMILE even when the feet are hurting after all day running.

As always, thanks to my family for supporting this whole craziness!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dreaming Big! Pre Cascade Crest 100 Thoughts

Dreaming big is part of my journey to a Well-Balanced Life!

It's a tradition of mine to try to write my thoughts down regarding my preparations prior to any significant race. To be honest, this entry might read very similar to last years at about this time. Cascade Crest 100 will be my fourth 100 mile race, and second time toeing the line at Easton, WA (Cascade race headquarters). I'm no expert at the distance, and I'm not an exceptional runner, but I've had relative success. Third at my first 100, fifth at my second, and third again at Cascade last year. Although clearly among the faster runners at that distance, I've never had a break out 'Zen' like day in the mountains. Each time it's been a challenge, and each time I felt like I left plenty on the table.

Running 100 miles is a pretty arbitrary distance (why not 110?), but it fits pretty nicely into a full day on most trail courses. 24 hours is considered a very respectable finish time, so in that respect the distance makes some sort of sense. Running all day over tough terrain certainly can wreck the body (if only temporarily). Everything screams stop. Blistered feet, sore legs, sleep deprivation, nausea, and more all lurk around the corner. So why do this? I treat the race as an adventure, and as a celebration of athletic achievement. This isn't meant to sound arrogant. Every person that starts a race of this nature has sacrificed, and each person has trained to his or her ability. Each person is lining up knowing that the race might be their (again, temporary) undoing. Each starter is an athlete of supreme accomplishment no matter what finish times they have accrued in the past. I KNOW I can finish a marathon, most likely in under three hours. There is no way to know that a finish awaits anyone who starts a 100. My first 100 mile race finished only one third of the starters! And often those DNF's aren't pretty. The toughest runners and people in the world are stripped bare and left shivering and in tears on the top of a mountain at night. No one wants to quit. I want to see if I have what it takes. But I also want to celebrate natures beauty, my families love, and my love for them. I want to move with grace and respect for nature, my fellow competitors, and myself.

So with just two weeks to go my training is done. They hay is in the barn! I'm still running, but just to keep the legs sharp and preserve my fitness while allowing my body to fully rest and heal. Since Cascade Crest has some pretty long and fast descents I ran a hard downhill workout this week. Despite recent fast runs this workout left my calves very sore. I made sure to keep the effort level the next few days low to avoid injuring the sore muscles, and several days later I followed up with an easy morning run and then an afternoon hike up Stairway to Heaven here on Oahu. Again, the effort was easy, but the 3000' climb seemed to kick the funk out of the legs, and I'm ready to hit one last 'tempo' effort 15 miler this weekend.

Last year I had already run one 100, one 50, and several 30+ mile races. This left me with more recent experience, and perhaps more overall endurance. It also left me a little beaten up and tired! This year I've been training over 60 miles per week since the end of February. I've peaked over 80 miles per week, and I've done countless 'doubles' on the weekends, and several five to six hour runs. I'm ready, and I'll be more rested and recovered than last year. I'm hoping to beat last year's awesome (for me) 20:14 finish time, and I've got a split sheet with Rod Beins course record times on it (Rod finished in 18:26 in 2011). I think I have a good shot at beating my time from last year, and at least an outside chance to break out and run close to CR. We'll see. I fully respect the fact that the weather or my body might preclude such a run, and that my training or overall talent may not be enough to come close. The real goal is to run smart and have fun!

My main competition appears to be Brian Rusiecki. Brian is an elite level ultra marathoner with fast times at all distances, and a low 14 hour finish at the 2012 Vermont 100. He's raced a lot this year, so that could be bad for me or good for me. Race day will tell the tale! As always there are numerous runners new to the distance that have the potential to surprise anyone. Here's to remembering to run my own race for the first 12 hours (at least)...

For the Gear Geeks:
• Hydration will be via my Ultimate Direction AK pack. I almost chose to carry handheld water bottles, but this pack allows me to carry two bottles in my hands or to store them on my chest. The pack itself weighs only six ounces, so I'm sacrificing nothing. I like options!
• Nutrition will be primarily Gu energy gels. I try to get at least 300 calories an hour, plus whatever I can take in at aid stations. Backup energy will be Vega gels (primarily date paste), and a maltodextrin powder to dissolve in my water bottles. I'm also considering several applesauce packs in my drop bags. I have been able to stomach Gu for about 14 hours in the past, but the stomach begins to rebel, and it is crucial to keep calories coming in late in the race. Succeed S-caps will be my go-to salt supplement, but I don't expect to use many. I never supplement with salt in training, but it's better to have it and not need it!
• Shoes. I have foot problems. I can't seem to keep 10 toenails on at any given time! My feet are wide, and my middle toes seem to be slightly longer than normal. I have also suffered from Plantar Fasciitis, and some ligament/nerve problems in my ankles. Hoka Bondi B road shoes have become my go-to foot pillows. They look goofy, but the extra cushion makes up for the fashion faux pas. But the slow pace of 100's reduces impact, and the high stack height of Hokas sometimes causes me to roll my ankle where I wouldn't otherwise. I've ordered a pair of Scott Kinabalu trail shoes to check out. It's down to the wire, but the footwear is TBD!
• Shorts are going to be Patagonia's. I found a pair of 5" shorts that have side pouches that can hold four gels in each, and also a zipper back pocket.
• Lighting will be a Fenix LD22 flashlight and a Black Diamond Icon headlamp. The flashlight is bright enough to function by itself (just in case), but the combination gives incredible illumination, and the multiple angles really increases depth perception and highlights trip hazards. You can't have too much light!

I'm looking forward to our family vacation back to the incomparable Pacific Northwest, and I can't thank my wife enough for supporting me every step of the way. In a few weeks I'll let you guys know how it all went down!

You can follow along on race day at www.cascadecrest100.com on August 24-25. Race kicks off at 10am Pacific time.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Afternoon Trail Run

Do I have to? Senses are dulled by several hours in front of a monitor. Today is a hard progressive workout. Can I put it off until tomorrow? Can I just run a shorter route? The temperature hovers near 90, but feels much hotter in the direct sunlight. The humidity hangs like a blanket. I drag myself to the car and bake on the short drive to the mountain. Thankfully the five mile loop is mostly shaded, but it’s difficult terrain, and climbs and descends over 1000 feet (2000 feet total elevation change). I lack spring in my step as I jog up the first incline. The following muddy descent feels slippery, and with a maze of rocks and large roots covering the ground every step is an opportunity for bodily harm. The trail tilts upwards for a couple of miles, and every step I lose time on my personal record around this loop. I even stop to eat some delicious Strawberry Guava near the trail (WELL worth it!). The descent back to the bottom is enjoyable and smooth, but my 46:20 is well over six minutes slower than my best. Time to ditch the excuses; time for loop two! I force myself to pump my arms hard up that first little climb, gaining almost a minute on my first attempt. I'm not flowing yet, but I ignore the slippery descent, landing lightly and stepping off before a slip can become a fall. I know that magic can happen if I push the pace long enough. I lean into the long climb with force, gauging my effort on my racing heart. Every time I think I can’t hold the pace any longer the trail levels slightly, just long enough to recover slightly and power up the next steeper section. I’m jumping the downed trees that I climbed over last loop, and as the trail turns down for the final two mile stretch I feel like a race car driver. Every bend in the trail is attacked at an angle that allows maximum exit speed without falling off the trail down the almost vertical hillside. The Guavas that I couldn’t resist on the last loop aren’t even noticed as I’m concentrating on foot placement. I’m leaping right over difficult sections of trail that I normally stumble through. I’m in this zen where I’m feeling the flow of the trail, and the signals from my body. I could do this all day! But it’s over. 38:20 for a 1 minute 34 second personal best. I cool down with short hill repeats, and then head back to work. A little over ten total miles, and just a tiny part of the several thousand I'm logging as I prepare for Cascade Crest 100, but it's an important little part, and that feeling of wellness is a large part of the reason I do this crazy sport!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mango Madness, and Finding Balance

Kinda a lot in that header huh?  I often feel this inspiration to write, but then I find myself so busy, and there ends up so much to catch up on that the end result isn't quite what I had in mind!  End result, well, I haven't posted here for a while.  I was not in the best running form this winter, and the move to Hawaii really shuffled the old norms around. 

We arrived on the beautiful windward side of Oahu in February.  It was surreal.  I've visited Hawaii a few times, but the fact we were actually living here just seemed impossible.  The running though... My feet hurt, my right knee hurt, and I was just felt depleted.  I took a few steps back and resolved to spend February and even into March just exploring some trails and running just for fun.  It's important to remember the ultimate goal is long term health both physically and mentally.  My diet is designed for health, we pay attention to what cleaners and chemicals we use, but for some reason it's easy to fall into the trap of running myself into the ground instead of to greater fitness .  I think when I see top runners hitting long weeks time and time again I feel like a failure if I can't get at least 60 miles.  The truth is that moving a household involves a ton of stress, and I think even my modest training level might have been pushing my body over the edge as it tried to deal with all the other factors.

But Hawaii running:  Man, what a place!  I can access jungle trails that are impossible to run, steep ridgelines that will make you pay a very steep price for a stumble (but reward with stunning views!), and miles of great single track.  With an infusion of vitamin D, growing enthusiasm, and slowly healing injuries I set about creating a training plan for the Cascade Crest 100 on August 24th.  See my earlier blog post on last years race there.  It's an amazing mountain trail 100 miler!

I'm just an average guy.  I came into the running scene rather late (not counting one season of high school cross country and track), I don't run 100 mile weeks, I don't climb 20,000 feet a week, I get tired, and I question myself; 'Why would anyone want to do this?'.  In spite of those factors my goal is to win Cascade.  I had a great race there last year, running 20:14 for third place, but I feel I can do better.  Winning for me will mean simply doing the best I can, handling the guaranteed tough times, and recreating the magic.  I think that will give me a chance for a great time (and possibly the overall win), but if it's 10th place and I was able to run well and have fun, then I'll be happy with that and it will be a 'win' for me.

So my focus has been on consistent running, lots of trails, some speed work, and plenty of back to back runs in the two to three hour range.  I've been extending the long run every few weeks, recently doing 30 miles of trail (and 8000' climbing) in five hours.  That's not much compared to some ultra runners, but I feel like too many really long runs can be counterproductive, running me down instead of building me up.  Anyway, let's talk about Mango Madness! 

Hawaii Ultra Running Team (HURT) is a wonderful grassroots group here, and they run a stellar series of trail races that range all the way up to the fames HURT 100.  Unfortunately schedule conflicts have prevented me from running many of their races, but I came back from a trip just in time to line up at the Nature Center just east of Waikiki for Mango Madness 10+ mile trail race.  The atmosphere was wonderful, the folks were very well organized and super friendly, and the race was sold out, and I can see why these things draw runners!  There were at least a dozen guys who looked like gazelles, and I decided to really push and see if I could hang near the front.  No water bottle, no calories, no shirt.  RACE ON!  The first mile I traded the lead among several fast guys and then hit Hogs Back climb.  Most people would only consider hiking up this beast, but I ran ever step.  Unfortunately Killian Jornet's brother, 16 year old Makai, bounced up that trail in front of me along with local fast guy Jimmy.  They were soon out of sight and I was in third with a runner right on my back.  All was lost!  Until I hit a quick descent and caught right up (since Killian is world renowned for his descending, must not be Killian's brother!).  This happened a few times.  Every climb they would pull away, and I'd reel them in on the descent.  Eventually we popped out on the road (Tantalus) and then ran up the paved drive known as Concrete to the top of Round Top.  This 15% climb was something the Race Director challenged us to run up without walking a step, so it was just a matter of finding that pace that didn't blow up my engine.  Makai slipped ahead (jeez, how do you get that strong at 16?), but Jimmy slipped behind (cool, maybe I can hang on to second).  Then the Madness part kicked in.  The reason it's 10+ miles is that the front runners were directed down a steep and slippery trail all the way to the bottom of that particular climb, routed down the road back to the beginning of Concrete, and pointed up again (bringing the total for us closer to 12)!  I was prepared for it and warned Makai that this is what was happening.  He again pulled ahead on the climb back up, but I was on his tail on the descent down the back side.  After a few minutes of easy conversation I felt I was capable of running faster and took the lead, telling him to stay right with me.  I really wanted him to keep up, but I wasn't going to make that an easy task, and took off hard.  Makai stayed right with me.  My mind was playing tricks.  How much left in the tank?  How far to go?  Finally I pulled out of sight, only to have to stop at an intersection to ensure I was going the right way.  Makai was back.  I pulled away again down a steep and dangerous descent (wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't taking risks running a six minute mile!).  Young Makia may not be related to Killian, but he seemed to be improving over the rough terrain on jus this one run.  I hit every little climb as hard as I could, knowing my only chance was to maintain my slim lead.  As I came close to the finish I was able to see about a hundred yards back and no one was back there.  I cruised down the road to the finish at a fast pace, but relaxed a bit knowing there was no way anyone could catch me.  The final trick was balancing a mango in a spoon for the final hundred yards.  I dropped the mango once, and I could see Makai close behind now (should've hammered that last bit of road), I dropped it again and couldn't believe how clumsy I was being.. I was going to lose this thing right at the finish because I couldn't balance a darn fruit!  I hung on for the win though, and I couldn't be happier.  Makai earned King of the Mountain for hitting the top of Concrete first (twice).  Makai is a great young runner, and his performance was amazing, especially when considering the fact that this was his first trail race!  As for me, some of the hardest (fastest as well as toughest trails) running I've done in a long time, great competition, great organization.  I feel like my training is being validated.  I've got some speed, some technical ability, and some endurance (not even sore after that 30 mile run a couple of weeks ago). 

The recipe for the future is going to be more of the same.  Flying (work), hanging with the family, lots of beach time, eating good food, and of course plenty of time running the roads and trails.  I need to hit a couple more 30 milers, and I'll shoot for an eight hour/40-50 mile effort some time in July.  By the end of next month the hay will be in the barn, and it will be all about resting, recovering, and keeping the legs sharp. 
Thanks to Wily Woo for this shot of me and Makai!
Great view of Lanikai and the shore from a favorite nearby trail.
Honolulu/Waikiki and Diamond Head from Round Top drive.
Just a taste of jungle 'trail'!
Flying down the trail with about 1.5 downhill miles to go at Mango Madness.  Out of the shot it gets steeper.  You gotta pay attention on these trails... I don't even remember seeing Augusto taking this picture.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Race Reports! The awesome Deception Pass 50k, Orcas Island 50k, and training interrupted!

So what's been up with the running blog?  Fall of 2012 involved recovering from a sore knee, and then some ok training leading up to Deception Pass 50k in early December.  Stress had been slowly building regarding our move to Hawaii, but I was able to hit several pretty good long trail runs.

Deception Pass was won last year by Yassine Diboun in 4:16 or so.  I came in a miserable bonking 4:50+, so I knew I could improve my time simply by ensuring I took in enough calories.  Competition was stronger this year though, so I was hoping for top five, and to run somewhere near Adam Hewey, Adam Lint, and several other fast Seattle area ultra runners.  As we lined up I noticed Canadian running star Gary Robbins.  I knew Gary was fast, but I had just managed to out run him at Sun Mt earlier in the year, so I figured it might be close between us.  As we headed off Adam Hewey, Gary, and I made a little group running conservatively.  Conversation was good, and mostly involved the best trails in Oahu to run on. Imagine the surprise when Gary jumps ahead, and then sprints down this little steep dangerous section of trail.  I gave chase, but it was immediately hopeless, and I settled into some good solo running.  I was very happy to run much stronger than last year, and was able to run most all the climbs. The second time around the Hoypus loop area was depressing, I got passed and dropped by Adam Lint, almost threw up on my favorite snack (strawberry banana gu), and dropped and retrieved four empty gel packs!  I cruised into the finish in 4:23 in sixth place. Overall a success, and a really fun day. The best part?  The last hundred feet with my little sons Ryan and Dylan!

After Deception things fell apart a bit.  Plantar Fasciitis in my left foot hurt so much I could barely walk. The house needed packing, I needed to spend lots of time in the garage getting a car running prior to shipping to Oahu (talk about pressure!), Christmas, New Years, checking out of my squadron, and then spending most of January in Savannah (very flat) training on the Gulfstream GV. I decided not to run Orcas.  Ridiculous to even try considering I would get back to Washington the day prior, and leave to HI a week later right?  I spent a week lifting weights, then got out in a local park for a few road miles.  Savannah is a beautiful and historic town and area.  I would recommend a vacation there to anyone, and if you go, I've got some places to run.. Just ask me!  Well, after talking with my lovely wife Mishelle, we decided to go to Orcas and run the race!  My training plan consisted of a couple of medium paced long runs, and several short runs on the treadmill at 15%.

So, Orcas. What a beautiful place!  Every time we go I wonder why it's been so long since we've made the trip. The weather was fantastic, and the competition was the best ever.  31 miles is a short race right?  Immediately I could tell we (I) had started way too fast!  I enjoyed about 10 miles running a steady pace with Adam Hewey before he eased ahead.  Still, I felt in control through 22 miles and the beginning of the infamous (and improved/steepened) Powerline Climb. I was dizzy and suddenly depressed and feeling just awful. Jen Shelton ran passed and up that hill like it was a medium hill on a five mile training run.  I sat down for five minutes and washed my face in a stream!  As I was feeling sorry for myself, (dreaming of quitting) a guy with a camera came down the hill and started taking pictures.. That was it, I picked myself up and staggered up the hill, not caring who passed me, or how long it took.  I didn't run unless the trail actually went DOWN hill.  Pathetic, but I was out of gas.  All I could do was remember that it was a beautiful day, beautiful trails, and my choice to be out there.  And then a surprising thing happened.. I was able to run again, not fast, but easily. After another tough hike to the top of Mt Constitution (and amazing views that rival an mountain ultra) it was five miles all downhill to the finish.  I did get a little competitive spirit back and actually started to race a couple of people running near me.  5:43, and another finish with my beautiful family.  This run was a wake up call.  It's not possible for me to run competitively without training seriously, and I wasn't ready for this.  Nevertheless I'm glad we made the trip, the memories are great, and I think the lessons and experience are valuable for my future as a trail runner.

Here's to Hawaii. I can't wait to get out on new and wonderful trails, build my strength, and come back strong to the Cascade Crest 100 in August!
Thanks to my family for enduring my ups and downs, my sore feet, and my creaky knees!
Thanks to Rainshadow Running for every wonderful event they put on. Your events are always on my radar!