Friday, September 23, 2011

2012 Hundos

Fresh off of Sawtooth, Jordan Hanlon, Ben Bruce, and I (and hopefully Andy Sandor and Jason LaPlant) are discussing 2012 races.

The Hundos:

Rocky Raccoon
Feb 4, 2012, Huntsville, TX
A big maybe, and only to have the chance to run with some great ultra runners.  Last year saw Anton Krupicka, Hal Koerner, Ian Sharman, and Scott Jurek, to name a few.  The course is 5 20-mile loops with a few out and back sections, providing plenty of opportunity to share the trail with some of the top US runners, which would be pretty neat.  Though it is in February, there's a 30-hour cutoff, and training in Minnesota isn't the greatest for early season mileage.  We'll see.  It appears registration is open until race day, but fees start climbing after January 7.

Zumbro 100
April 13-14??, 2012, Zumbro Falls, MN
Can't miss this one.  I'm avenging the DNF at my first 100 mile attempt last year, which must be done.  The race is well organized and cozy, 23 runners last year on the 5 20-mile loop course, which is centered on a campground that makes it the perfect family/spectator race.  Registration shouldn't be a problem, but I expect at least double the 23 entrants from last year.

Western States 100
June 23-24, 2012, Squaw Valley, CA
The 'World Series' of US ultras.  Everybody who's everybody runs this, from Kilian Jornet to Geoff Roes, Andy Jones Wilkins to Dave Mackey, this race is super competitive at the front.  There's a lotto to get into this 100-mile point-to-point race and a 30-hour cutoff.  The chances are low of getting selected, BUT, with Jordan and Ben also registering, at least one of us should get in and the others can crew/pace.  Not a bad system.  Registration opens November 12 and closes November 26, and the lottery takes place December 10.

Hardrock 100
July 13-15, 2012, Silverton, CO
The toughest ultra in the US, with 34k feet of climbing and descent, 68k total elevation change between 7,680 and 14,048 feet!  Intense.  The cutoff is 48 hours for a reason.  This is an epic and relentless course, one I'm kinda hoping I get a chance to volunteer/pace/crew before I run, but what the hell.  Applications are accepted from Nov through Jan, with a lottery during the first weekend in Feb.  Only 140 are allowed on the course, with the big names getting no more love than the newbs.


Augt 18-19??, 2012, Leadville, CO
A legendary race that has grown exponentially the last few years to over 350 finishers out of 600+ starters in 2011, with everyone, including the likes of Anton Krupicka, chasing the ghost of Matt Carpenter's 2005 run!  Like Hardrock, acclimation is a must.  The entire race is between 9,200 and 12,600 feet, and the cutoff is a tight 30 hours.  Registration closed last year on June 11.  I haven't seen any details about 2012 yet.

Sept 7-8??, 2012, Lutsen, MN
Because last year was too epic to be the only one, and because I want 30 hours on this beast.  But, I got my jacket, and the lure of other races may come calling.  I'm really not sure how to approach this one yet, especially what looks to be 2 weeks out from Leadville, if that's in the plans.    


Sept 21-22??, 2012, Logan, UT
Bear and Sawtooth may be too much for one September, and depending on what other races I get into, it almost pays to try the Rocky Mountain Slam or the Grand Slam.  We'll see how things go.


We'll see how it all plays out, but with a few of these races as the centerpiece of the 2012 race schedule, filling in with some shorter ultras, it should make for an epic year.  At least I can say that nobody's accused me of setting the bar too low.  ;)



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Superior 100 Sawtooth Race Report 2011




Epic everything indeed.

Me, Ben, and Jordan before the start
Sawtooth isn’t a race, it’s a survival contest.  From what I can gather, 102 brave souls toed the line for the 102.6 mile journey from Gooseberry Falls to Lutsen along the Superior Hiking Trail, and from what I know, 61 made it to the finish.  I was one of the fortunate 61.  I spent 34 hours and 35 minutes on that course stride for stride with my fellow runner, first-time 100 finisher, and new good friend Ben Bruce.  We fought to finish this thing from 8am on Friday morning to 6:30pm on Saturday evening and were sweetly rewarded with a finisher buckle and jacket, which are now two of my most valuable physical possessions.  Sawtooth was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and the most pain I’ve ever been in.  I can’t wait to do it again next year.     

So many runners I know made it through to the end and I’m so happy for each of them (Jordan Hanlon, Ben Bruce, Jason LaPlant, Adam Schwartz-Lowe, Brian Woods, Zach Pierce, and Jason Husveth, to name a few).  Others I know fought and missed this time, but I know they’ll be back, and I can’t wait to try this again with them next year.  Even though I finished, this course still got the best of me.  It chewed me up and spit me out over and over again.  I don’t feel like I underestimated it as much as I think it’s impossible to fully appreciate this race until you’ve done it.  All the warnings and race reports and stories you hear won’t fully prepare you for what you’re going to come across.  I wouldn’t have made it without Ben and my pacers (Dad from mile 42.6 to 62.2, Andy from 62.2 to 90, and Alicia from 90 to 102.6) and the rest of my crew (Sarah and Ashley).  Thank you.  I can’t say enough how much it meant to have you there during this struggle.  I don’t know if I could have done it alone, but I never want to find out. 

Elevation Profile
People talk about how hard this course is, but in the back of my mind I always thought, “C’mon, it can’t be that bad.”  I was wrong.  The warning signs are all there.   Superior is a qualifier for Hardrock, for crying out loud!  (I’m registering, by the way.)  That alone should have scared me.  The course gets its name from the elevation profile: It’s as jagged as a Sawtooth.  There’s over 20k feet of elevation gain and another 21k feet of elevation loss, which is nothing to shake your head at, especially in Minnesota, but it’s not the climbing or the descent that makes this course tough, it’s the trail.  This is not a running trail.  This is not single track.  This is a sadistic obstacle course of rocks, boulders, 3+-foot steps and drops, and roots worse than the ropes that NFL running backs train through.  I’m convinced that the best shoes for Sawtooth might be steel-toed hiking boots, and I’m not even slightly kidding. 

Nice, "runnable" trail there, right?
My feet have never hurt as badly than they did during the last 20 miles of this race, and that’s mostly my fault.  I didn’t take care of them like I should have, and then when I finally changed shoes to try and make it better, I ignored them still getting worse.  It got so bad during the last section that I had to try and convince myself that I didn’t have feet, and that the pain I felt wasn’t real.  I wish I could say that strategy worked better than it did, but I can’t.   For the last several hours, each step that wasn’t on flat, even, soft ground (so roughly 95% of my steps) carried with it a pain so severe it made my vision go blurry.  I was just so close to the finish that I couldn’t stop.  Towards the end, I was only concerned with staying conscious, because I could feel myself drifting off.  I had invested too much to not keep moving forward.  They’re just feet, right?  And holy hell the hallucinations were getting bad during those last few sections.  After a while, Ben would say, “Do you see that bridge over there?”  And I’d reply, “Yep!”  But there was no bridge.  You know your mind is slipping when you’re sharing somebody else's hallucinations.  But seriously, I saw imaginary playgrounds, dogs sitting along the trail, bridges, houses that weren’t really there, you name it. 

I started the race in Montrail Mountain Masochists because hell, if it’s good enough for Geoff Roes, it’s good enough for me.  I think I bailed on these guys too soon, and am really wishing I hadn’t.   Somewhere early in the AM on the second day I put on my Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral shoes, which now even sounds silly.  I ditched a beefy, proven mountain shoe for a hybrid trail/road shoe.  I’m shaking my head at myself as I write that.  I thought I’d spent enough time in them to form a decent opinion, and really thought they’d be perfect for what was basically a power-hike by the time they went on, but the last several days carving calluses off my feet to try and empty the blisters stuck way, way below the surface says otherwise.  I wish Salomon made their top-of-the-line shoes (the S-Lab 4 or even the Fellcross) in a size 14, but they don’t, and I reached and it didn’t work out.  So much for Salomon’s on my feet.  There are so many fantastic shoes out there that I can’t try because they don’t make a size 14.  Hoka, Salomon (the S-Lab 4 or Fellcross), and La Sportiva (CrossLite 2.0) are all guilty with at least some of their models.  Maybe INOV8 is the way to go?  I’ll have to look into that.  My best bet might be back in the MT101s as long as my feet can hold up before lacing up the Mountain Masochists. 

Despite being on my shit list for making awesome shoes that don’t come in my size, I can’t be too mad at Salomon, because they make some really fantastic gear.  I was sporting their shorts and their fancy Advanced Skin S-Lab 5 hydration pack, and that pack is amazing.  I think I singlehandedly sold 4 or 5 of them just by having it on for the race.  People kept asking me what and how it was, and let me tell you, it was great.  It is bar none the best piece of equipment I’ve ever owned.  I first looked at this pack before Ice Age in May but decided it was too expensive.  I was wrong.  It’s worth every dime.  Now the hard part is actually finding one in stock (hint, check out the store at IRunFar.com).  Bryon Powell even graciously agreed to overnight the pack to me when he got stateside from UTMB, and he got it to me by noon the day before the race, mere hours before I had to drive north.  That saved my ass.  Without it, I probably would have tried to run with two handhelds, and I’m not sure I would have made it to the second aid station with any less water than I had.  It got way too hot way too fast on Friday, and that hurt a lot of people. 

I also ran with poles for the first time, and they really saved my ass.  I didn’t grab them until it got dark, and I might grab them sooner next year.  I barely stumbled the last 60 miles, and that’s largely because I had, at minimum, 3 points of contact on the ground nearly the entire time.  And climbing, which is the weakest part of my running, was so much easier with the poles.  Maybe most importantly, they really saved my back.  During this race, you are literally looking at your feet or no more than 3 feet ahead of you the entire time.  Poles let me take some of that stress off my back and shoulders.  After a while, my right elbow got sore, but still, the poles helped so much more than they hurt, and I imagine the hurt is only because this was the first time I’d used them for more than an hour, and I had them in my hands at Sawtooth for over 20!  There’s really no practical way to train for that.  In short, Black Diamond Z-poles are amazing (and also available at IRunFar.com).

Tough race? A bit.

As for the race, it was pretty damn neat.  I’m working on a more detailed section-by-section report, but there’s too much work to do at the moment.  Next week!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

I leave for Sawtooth tomorrow.  You have no idea how excited I am to say that.

So I haven't posted on this thing they call a blog since May, the week before Ice Age to be exact.  I'm sorry about that, but not for you.  For me.  I started this at the beginning of the year to journal this epic adventure towards 100 miles, and somewhere along the line, I lost steam, which is sad.  You see, the thing I wanted more than anything was to not lose the details of this journey, this adventure.  But life got busy, and this part of the adventure was put aside.  The saddest part is that I have lost details, lost memories, and I won't get them back.

I'm going to try and do better.

In brief, Ice Age went very, very well.  I finished my first 50 mile race in 10:07, meeting the qualifying time to register for Western States in 2012.  The weekend after Ice Age was the Fargo Marathon, which was my dad's first!  I like to think I helped push him to a 4:27 finish, a whole 11 minutes better than my first marathon and 1 minute better than my brother's first.  After Fargo, I got to do a little running in Telluride, Ouray, and Leadville during a trip out west for my sister's wedding in June, and then snuck back down to sea level to run a 3:43 at Grandma's Marathon.  I had a scheduling conflict for Afton this year, but ran Voyageur on a very, very hot day in July, finishing in 11:23 on a day where over a third of the field dropped.  Then, a few weeks ago, Andrew (brother), Jordan Hanlon (friend), Greg Smock (coworker), and I stunk up my suburban for 196 miles in 28 hours at Ragnar, where I got to haul in 52 or so miles at an 8:40 pace.  

Now Sawtooth.  

I'm giddy.  I'm excited.  I can't wait to scream off into the night and fight and claw my way to the finish.  I really can't.  

I went into my first 100 attempt at Zumbro in April undertrained and with the mindset that I really didn't think I was going to finish.  I learned the hard way that there is no better way to not finish a race than to let your mind be ok with something less than the whole.  I had 6 weeks coming off injury to train for Zumbro.  Originally, I hadn't planned on running, instead merely pacing 60 miles for my brother.  But Andy got a job a few months before the start and his running took a backseat to the rest of his life, and when he pulled out, I thought, "Why not?  I can always stop at 100k."  And that's what happened.  I pulled out at 100k.  

But not this time.  This time, I'm ready.  This time, 100k is not enough.  This time I'm going to finish this beast.  Unless they pull me off the course, kicking and screaming, these two legs are traveling the Superior Hiking Trail north from Gooseberry Falls to Lutsen, and it's going to be epic.     

I ran across a Charles Bukowski poem the other day called The Laughing Heart that sums up life as I want to live it better than anything else I've ever seen.
  

Your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
Be on the watch.
There are ways out.
There is a light somewhere.
It may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
Be on the watch.
The gods will offer you chances.
Know them.
Take them.
You can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
And the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
Your life is your life.
Know it while you have it.
You are marvelous.
The gods wait to delight
in you.


This is one of those chances, and I'm taking it.  I'm going to beat death in life this time.  I am marvelous.

I'll make sure and get a race report for this one.   

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday long runs!

I went into last week with a 50-mile race at Ice Age looming on the horizon with mileages post-Zumbro and Trail Mix of 12 and 22 miles.  Eek!  That left one week to get some good mileage in and then a week of taper before toeing the line in La Grange, WI.   So, on Tuesday I buckled up and headed out on my first ever Tuesday evening long run.

I left work at 5:30, headed home, threw on some clothes, packed some food, and headed out for 30 paved miles in the New Balance Minimus Trail shoes and testing my new Salomon Hydro 45 Belt and Salomon Custom Zipped Pocket I'd ordered from RunningWarehouse a week back.  I had to get Alicia to swap the Minimus Trail shoes for the Minimus Road shoes at mile 14, and I ditched the Salomon belt and pocket at mile 20.

My metatarsals simply can't take the pounding in the Minimus Trail shoes on pavement.  I don't know how others do it, but the small amount of foam under my forefoot in the Minimus Road shoes does the trick perfectly.  Really, the Minimus Road is my ideal road shoe, which incidentally turned 200 miles old today!  And I just couldn't get comfortable in the Salomon belt and pocket.  The contents of the pocket kept bouncing too much, even loosening the straps to the belt.  I ditched the pocket at mile 14 with the change in shoes and tried to shove the remaining contents in the small pocket on the back of the belt, but to get the belt tight enough to not move or bounce, I felt like I was going to snap my cell phone in half.  So I ended up carrying the cell between miles 14 and 20 until I stopped at home to grab a light, reflective vest, and my Spibelt.

I ended up running the first 11 miles at an 8:11 pace, to 20 miles just under a 9:00 pace, and between 20 and 30 miles in the 9:40's.  I hit 1:48 and change for 13.1 miles, 3:50's for 26.2 miles, and just under a 4:30 for 30 miles, and I joked that I made it a point to practice walking up BOTH hills!

Following Tuesday's run, I didn't get out again until Saturday morning with fellow Ragnar teammates Greg Smock and Jordan Hanlon.  We put up 17.25 at an 8:40 pace, and I added another 2 miles to and from Smock's place.  Then, Sunday, I got out with Alicia and Buck for their long run prior to the half at Fargo.



Now, Ice Age on Saturday.  I ran 7.5 this morning, 2.75 with Alicia and a fast 4.75 afterwards.  I've got a plethora of running gear coming tomorrow from Running Warehouse, including a bunch of hydration packs that I'm going to try out quick and a pair of clearance Salomon trail shoes, the XT Hawk 2, with a 12mm drop but weighing in at 10.9 ounces.  I'm hoping the XT's help shield the metatarsals on rocky runs, because even the MT101s gave me issues at Zumbro.  It's a beefier shoe, 50% heavier than the MT101s, and with a more traditional drop, 2mm more than the MT101s.

Just to be clear, I'm not complaining about the MT101s at all.  I think they're great shoes, but I did feel like I broke my foot for a while at Zumbro.  There's still the possibility that was due to my "controlled falling" down hills on the first lap, though.  I'm still leaning on wearing them at Ice Age, unless someone can convince me that the Minimus Trails would be the better choice.  They were at the Trail Mix 50k, but that's a really soft course.

Also, New Balance claims that the insole is non-removable in the MT101s, which is so not true.  I just took mine up to rid the Zumbro sand from them before running last Sunday.  

Weekly Totals:

Mon - Off
Tue - AM 2 miles speedwork @ Park in :20 (w/Alicia, Tucker & Louie), PM 30 miles @ Calhoun & Nokomis in 4:30
Wed - Off
Thur - Off
Fri - Off
Sat - 19.3 miles @ Calhoun in 2:48 (w/Smock and Jordan)
Sun - 11.4 miles @ Minnehaha & Nokomis in 2:08 (w/Alicia and Buck)

Total - 63 miles in 9:44

Monday, May 2, 2011

UltraRagnasty!

Signed up for Grandma's on June 18 and Ragnar as a 4-person ultra on August 19-20, which means I'm officially registered for everything on my 2011 Race Schedule!  Pretty insane, actually.  I really didn't think I'd get to all of these this year.

Two weeks until the Ice Age 50, and again I feel like I'm coming in undertrained.  Las Vegas last weekend and NYC this weekend has stolen my long runs.  12 miles last week and 22 this week (if I don't run tonight) means I'm coming in really, really low.  I'm going to have to push a 30-35 mile long run on Tue and then taper.

Anyway, even though NYC killed my weekly long run, I still got in a nice little jog through Central Park yesterday, which was especially fantastic because the weather held to upper 60's and sunny compared to the 30's and snow that MN was feeling.  

Break at the Great Hill in Central Park!  Yep, I've got Alicia's socks on.
In any case, I'll be running Ice Age with my little brother, Andy, who's been traveling for work basically nonstop since January.  Seeing that he's the one that got everyone in my family into running, and that he was my main running partner until my big injury in December, I'm uber excited to finally get to run with him again.



Ragnar in August is going to be a lot of fun, too.  192 miles from Winona to Minneapolis split 4-ways between me, Andy "I get runner's turrets after mile 20" Sandor, Greg "I ran a marathon cold" Smock, and Jordan "I'm a 2:45 marathoner and just kicked the shit out of my first 100-mile race" Hanlon.  Last year I was on a team of 12 (2 groups of 6) and had a really great time.  The only thing that even kinda sucked was having half of your team off somewhere else most of the time.  Having one group this year should really make that better.  Plus, this is a really great group of guys to be stuck in a suburban with for 2 days.


Crazy UltraRagnasty Plan
Leg
Runner
Distance
Difficulty
Rating
1
3
13.9
Very Hard
7
2
4
13.3
Hard
6
3
1
14.9
Very Hard
7
4
2
11.5
Very Hard
7
5
3
10
Moderate
4
6
4
7.9
Moderate
3
7
2
14.8
Very Hard
7
8
4
11.1
Moderate
4
9
1
13.8
Very Hard
8
10
2
8.6
Moderate
4
11
3
9.1
Moderate
3
12
4
8
Moderate
3
13
1
7
Moderate
3
14
3
7.6
Moderate
3
15
1
12
Hard
6
16
2
9.7
Hard
5
17
3
8.7
Moderate
4
18
4
10.3
Moderate
4
Total
192.2
Runner
Distance
Difficulty
Rating
1
47.7
Very Hard
24
2
44.6
Very Hard
23
3
49.3
Hard
21
4
50.6
Hard
20

 
Even though the course map says "196.2 Miles," the individual legs add up to 192.2 miles.  Either way its a great time!

Weekly totals (April 18-24) (in Vegas, post Trail Mix):

Mon - Off
Tue - 7.3 miles to Harriet in 1:19 (w/Alicia)
Wed - Off
Thur - Off
Fri - Off
Sat - 4.75 treadmill in Vegas in :40
Sun - Off

Total - 12 miles in 1:59

Weekly totals (April 25-May 1) (in NYC):

Mon - 7.5 miles @ Minnehaha in 1:05
Tue - Off
Wed - 4.25 miles @ Nokomis in :40
Thur - Off
Fri - 2 miles @ Central Park NYC in :20 (w/Alicia)
Sat - 8.66 miles @ Central Park NYC in 1:30 (w/Alicia)

Total - 22 miles in 3:35



Monday, April 18, 2011

Trail Mix 50k

Man was it nice to finish a race after my DNF at Zumbro!

5:07 for my first 50k (results).  Not too shabby a week off 60+ miles at Zumbro.  Two runs last week leading up to this of 4 and 6 miles, then 31 miles on Saturday at Hyland Lake Park in the snow and mud!

I started this race with the right shoes, the right gear, and the right pace, I just ran into a porta-john stop after Lap #1, didn't carry enough gels out with me for Lap #3, and had tired legs from Zumbro the weekend before.  

Perfect shoes for the occasion!
I went out at a decent clip through the 1-2" of snow well behind the leaders and was quickly splashing through the mud.  It was actually really, really fun.  I chatted with Sonya Decker for the first few miles, who I recognized from the Metrodome runs this winter.  She was coming off a DNF at the 100k Championships in WI the prior weekend, so we chatted about tired legs and just finishing a race for a change.  She took off as I slowed up the hills a bit.  Climbing is definitely not my strong-suite, especially a week after Zumbro.  

I came in from Lap #1 at 1:08!  An 8:45 pace including walking up some of those hills!  Fast for me!  But I had to take a rather long porta-john stop before heading out for Lap #2.  I probably ended up losing 4 or 5 minutes there.  Oh well.  Came in from Lap #2 at 1:14 and saw Alicia at the start on her way to work!  I quickly said hello, grabbed a cup of powerade and an s-cap, chatted a bit, and headed out.  I ran out of gels early on Lap #3, so I had to stop and eat cups of trail mix at the aid stations to keep up any energy at all.  It was funny seeing all the single-lap runners trying to avoid the mud as I charged right down the thick of it, but a little demoralizing to see fresh legs out there, and Chris Lundstrom flew by me at Aid #1, further showing me how slow I was.  Meh.  I finished Lap #3 in 1:22 and went to the truck quick to grab gels, a cap, and drop off my empty race belt.  I passed 6 guys on Lap #4, only getting passed once in the process!  I even hit the 26.2 mile point around 4:17 or 4:18!  Not too shabby.  I finished Lap #4 in 1:23 for a 5:07 total!  Overall, a great run!

Sat on the bumper before someone offered to take this pic.  Meh.
Closed the week with a nice run with Alicia around Nokomis, where she absolutely smoked it!  To the lake at a 9:30 pace, and caught her on the way back at an 8:00 pace for a bit!

Weekly totals:

Mon - Off
Tue - 4.5 miles @ Nokomis in :40 (out-and-back, waiting a bit for Buck)
Wed - Off
Thur - 5.7 miles @ Nokomis and Minnehaha in :48
Fri - Off
Sat - 31 miles @ Trail Mix 50k in 5:07
Sun - 4.25 @ Nokomis in :41 (w/Alicia)

Total - 45 miles in 7:17

Zumbro Race Report

I haven't worn my Zumbro shirt yet.  I think it's mainly because I don't feel like I earned it.  Is it prudent to write "DNF" across the top?  I might do that.  At least then I can wear the shirt and not feel like I'm lying.  Maybe I'll write, "DNF 2011,"  so when I finish next year I can add, "Finisher 2012," and still wear it after that, too.


So it's difficult to pack for 100-mile race when you have zero idea of what a 100-mile race will be like.  I looked at everyone's race checklists and tried to sort out the stuff I'd need, but of course I found myself running around like a crazy person on Thursday night before the race trying to pack and figure it all out.  After setting 6 alarms for 5:00am, I finally got to bed at midnight.  Not the optimal night prior to a 100-mile race planning, I know.

The next morning was a little better.  Got up and ate 2 packets of oatmeal, loaded the car, and headed south.  Alicia grabbed the dogs and headed south shortly thereafter in the truck.  Made it to the campground by 7:15 to check in and fill my Nathan's vest, change shoes (out of the NB Minimus Trail and into the NB MT101--a lifesaving move at Zumbro), and hit the head one last time before RD John Storkamp gathered everyone for the pre-race meeting.

Jordan Hanlon and me at the pre-race meeting, second before the start!

It was chilly before the start, and I made the rookie mistake of being hugely overdressed.  In the picture above, I had on shorts (good call), a base t-shirt (still fine), a long-sleeved wool shirt (too much--left it at aid station #2/3), a jacket (which is surprisingly warm--also too much), a hat (didn't need it right away, ended up strapping it to the vest on lap #1 and then losing it at the beginning of lap #2, only noticing when I went to grab it when I was sweating my ass off after aid station #1 on lap #2), sunglasses (leave them in the car for trail runs through the woods), and the Nathan's vest (too much in such a well-supported race--two handhelds would have been ideal).  Jordan was better dressed than I was, and ditched the hat, gloves, and glasses at aid station #1.  Adam in the Salamon calf and arm sleeves behind us nailed it.  Meh, next time.

John sent us out right after the pre-race talk, and right away I wanted to run!  Mistake.  I didn't feel like I was pushing.  I was chatting with Jordan and we were walking up any hill taller than me.  I felt fine, but looking back, it was too much.  I ran the downhills the entire lap.  I love downhills.  Jordan pegged the term, "controlled falling," which is perfect!  But by the end, my right foot started hurting from the abuse.  I simply wasn't prepared for this much rock.  I don't know if I can run the NB MT101 here, even with the rock plate.  Just thank the lord I didn't stay in the NB Minimus Trail shoes.  I imagine that would have been disastrous.  Definitely not enough protection under the forefoot.

I ran with Jordan until Aid #2, about 10 miles in.  We were cruising.  I think we came into Aid #3 in second and third place (two front-runners took a wrong turn early and ended up back at the start).  After Aid #2 you run a short section through a lot of sand, then up, up, and up a pretty long hill with really soft footing.  That's where I said goodbye to Jordan.  I can't climb with that 130-pound burst of energy.  Gravity aids me in the downhills, and he's nice enough to wait for me on the straights, but up hills, I have zero shot at hanging with him.  I lost a few places in the 4 miles between Aid #2 and #3, but I was still moving really well and had zero notions of being towards the front anyway.  I was just trying to run comfortably.  Silly rookie mistake.  After Aid #3 though, the shit hit the fan.

I came in, refilled the Nathan's vest (which was already starting to become a pain in the ass--the thing takes too long to fill up, it's really heavy when completely full, and it takes a second to get the air out of so it doesn't slosh), and was off again through the woods alone.  Somewhere along the line, I thought, "Gee, haven't seen a flag for a bit," looked around, saw one off in the distance, and ran to it.  I followed the trail for a bit, but then it started looking familiar and I realized the flags were on the wrong side of the trail.  Yep, I was running back towards Aid #1 on the trail between Aid #1 and #2.  I cursed, turned around, and ran back towards Aid #2/3.  All told, I probably lost a mile or maybe a bit more.  Silly mistake.  Got back on the trail and headed up the epic climb out of Aid #3 with a fellow rookie (who also climbed better than I did).  At the top of that climb, I met Zach Pierce and his camera, and he took a few great pictures of me.  Thanks Zach!


Really a great view of the Zumbro River Valley
Shortly after that climb out of Aid #3, I got very familiar with a lovely little part of the course called Ant Hill.  I was hyper-conscious of trail markers after being off course earlier, so after heading down this epic hill and seeing a big tree across the trail, I started getting nervous that I was lost again.  This tree was perfect chainsaw material, but it wasn't touched or marked and I didn't see any tracks around it.  At the time, there were still only a few people in front of me.  Later, the path around was obvious, but on Lap #1, I had no idea.  I stood for a minute listening for other runners.  Nothing.  So I made the silly conservative decision to trek back up the biggest downhill on the course to the last marker and see if I'd ventured off again.  The only thing worse than venturing off course is thinking that you did and double-backing.  Ugh.  Anyway, I finished Lap #1 in the 4 1/2 hour range and felt really good about that, all things considered.

Lap #2 was hot.  I figured out that I lost my hat at Aid #1 on Lap #2, and doubled that mistake by not filling the Nathan's vest before embarking to Aid #2, misreading and misremembering the distance to Aid #3 as 3+ miles instead of the 6+ it actually is.  On the hottest part of the day, I ran out of water, which really slowed my progress.  Also, the heat of the day had turned a nice runnable portion of the course into wet and muck, and I was trying to keep my feet dry.  I graciously got a drink of water from one of the other runners who passed me on the big climb over the hill to Aid #2.  The rest of Lap #2 was pretty vanilla, and I finished in the 5 1/2 hour range.  Still feeling decent, though.

Lap #3 was headlamp time, and my dad packed up to go out with me.  I didn't know how much he was going to run with me, but I told him it wasn't really running at this point anyway.  I was really slowing down.

Alicia and me at Aid #1, Lap #3
When we finally turned on the headlamps between Aid #1 and #2, I started getting a little motion sick at the bobbing of the light, but that eventually worked itself out.  Lap #3 was a slow one, and when dad and I finished it in 7 hours, I called it a race.

I toweled off, changed clothes, grabbed some food, and crawled into the tent for some well needed sleep.  I was beat.  Nature's call pulled me out of bed in the morning, and I welcomed the stumble to the bathroom with a quick dry-heave before laying back down for a bit.  Eventually, I got up and ate breakfast with Bob and Kathy.  Bob's a coworker who came down to camp for the night!  And I hung out until Jordan and his pacer, Ben, finished in 29 hours and change.

Great job guys!
So, tips for next time.  Don't overdress!  Don't carry excess weight!  Eat, eat, and eat!  Make sure your feet can take the downhills in the shoes you're wearing.  And have fun!  Know that when you hit that low point in the dead of night that you'll get a second wind in the morning, and that laps #3 and #4 are the worst.  I was kicking myself for quitting after seeing everyone finish so strong.

Anyways, 100k 6 weeks off an injury isn't too bad.  I'll make a shot at Sawtooth in September, and I'll be back for Zumbro next year.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Busted at Zumbro

Looking out over the Zumbro River Valley after an epic climb out of aid station #3, lap #1.
So, a bit to catch up on.  I missed last week's post, and it's Wednesday already and I haven't got my Zumbro post up yet.  Long story short, I dropped after 3 laps at Zumbro (62'ish miles + an extra 2 or so on the first lap).  I immediately regretted dropping in the morning, especially after seeing everyone get their second winds before the 5th lap, BUT, I had the time of my life and cannot wait to go back.  John Storkamp and Larry Pederson put on one hell of a race!  The course is fantastic!  I've never run on such technical and hilly trails.  I really have no idea how I would have truly prepared for this.  The volunteers were amazing!  Always cheery, most ultrarunners, always knowing what to say and knowing when to kick you out of the aid station.  Anyone lucky enough to get to try this race in the future, make sure you go down the night before, camp with all the runners, and then hang out at the finish after you're done.  It's really a great time.  When I get a free moment, I'll try to get my race (if you can call what I did a race) report up.

But, before I forget, here's the mileage the week before Zumbro.

Mon - Off
Tue - 10 miles @ Nokomis & Minnehaha in 1:30 (middle 4 miles w/Alicia)
Wed - Off
Thur - 4.3 miles @ Nokomis with in :47 (w/Alicia)
Fri - Off
Sat - 10 miles @ Minnehaha and Harriet in 1:24 (w/Jordan Hanlon)
Sun - 8.6 miles @ Minnehaha in 1:35 (w/Alicia)

Total - 33 miles in 5:16

Then, the mileage for the week of Zumbro.

Mon - Off
Tue - 4.25 miles @ Nokomis on the grass in :43 (w/Alicia)
Wed - Off
Thur - 1.62 miles in :15 (w/Alicia)
Fri - 65 miles at Zumbro in 17:00
Sat - Off
Sun - 3 mile walk @ Nokomis

Total - 74 miles in 18:48

Btw, I officially signed up for Sawtooth in September, and am really leaning towards the Trail Mix 50k in Bloomington on Saturday.  Should be fun!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Doubles

So, prior to this weekend, I'd never done multiple distance runs in the same day before.  I mean, sure, I'd run a 13/3 (AM/PM), and I guess there was RAGNAR where I had 4 runs between 4 and 8 miles in 30 hours, but that was still nothing like running 12/13 (AM/PM) on Saturday.  The worst part is that I think I was calorie negative on the day by a bit.  Oops.  Still, all-in-all, after taking Tuesday and Wednesday off because of last weeks unusual (for me, anyway) spike in mileage, I had great runs on Thursday (at the Metrodome following the last big snowfall of the year on Tue and Wed--crossing my fingers on that one) and Saturday.

On Saturday AM I got out for a quick 3 mile spin with the dogs.  I decided to let them run at whatever pace they wanted, and boy do they have a thing or two to learn about pacing themselves.  With the leashes slack, their first mile was a 7:45 pace, followed by an 8:32 second mile, and finishing with an 8:47 third mile.  Then I dropped the boys off and headed East on Minnehaha.

Minnehaha Falls in its Icy Splendor!

Necessary Minnesota Winter Vehicle
Finished Saturday's AM run with a quick 8:47 pace for 11.57 miles.  Then went out Saturday PM west on Minnehaha around Harriet and back with Andy, where we pushed a high 7 min pace around the lake during a gorgeous sunset.


Sunday's run was cut very short.  I just didn't have anything in the tank.  Kinda scary.  12 days until Zumbro.  I'll have to make sure to load prior, and eat eat eat to keep the tank full.  We'll see how it goes.

Mon - Off
Tue - Off
Wed - Off
Thur - 10 miles @ the Metrodome in 1:27
Fri - Off
Sat - AM 11.6 miles @ Minnehaha in 1:42
        PM 13.4 miles @ Minnehaha in 2:11 (w/Andy)
Sun - 3.2 miles @ Nokomis in :31

Total - 38.3 miles in 5:51

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gnarly Bandit?

75 miles this week.  Not quite the 80+ I was dreaming about, but hey, not too bad either.  I had a great 30 mile jaunt on Saturday, the first 28 with Jordan Hanlon.

JH and me at mile 24 or so
Then an impromptu 15 mile run on Sunday with my Dad.  Sunday was the first 3+ mile distance in the NB Minimus Trail shoes, and, as it turns out, 15 miles on pavement in those guys is too much for me, because there's a little swelling in my left knee that I'm going to monitor intently.  The current plan is to take Monday off and start dipping down in mileage.  If I put in 50 miles next week, I'll be surprised.  One day at a time...

Until April 8th anyway, because I officially registered for Zumbro!  I wanted 35 or 40 miles on Saturday, but hey, 30's alright, especially with the lack of overall training I've had so far this year.  Plus, just today the Zumbro race shirts came out, and damn do they look cool!


So here goes nothing.  I joked that I hope I survive to wear this shirt, but even if I don't, it'll look great at the funeral.  That is a fantastic logo!

And as I was running into all of this great info online, I also saw the UMTR Gnarly Bandit Race Series on John Storkamp's facebook page (incidentally, John also set the CR at Zumbro last year).  But the Gnarly Bandit Series interests me.  I was already planning on running 3 of the 5, and Kettle Moraine falls on the same weekend as the FANS 24 hour race/Minneapolis Marathon, neither of which I'm registered for or dead set on running.  But I'd have to add that AND Black Hills, which is a LOT of racing.  Zumbro first.  One step at a time.  

Mon - Off
Tue - 16 miles @ the Metrodome in 2:20
Wed - 3 miles @ Nokomis w/Alicia and the dogs in :32
Thur - 8 miles @ the Metrodome w/Dad in 1:15
Fri - 3 miles @ Nokomis w/Alicia and the dogs in :30
Sat - 30 miles around Minneapolis (28 w/JH, then home) in 4:55
Sun - 15 miles @ Nokomis, Minnehaha, and the Mississippi River w/Dad in 2:35

Total - 75 miles in 12:07

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Still a Shot at Zumbro

Four weeks to go.  I think I've still got an outside shot at being able to attempt Zumbro.  Just finished a fantastic 60 mile week. I need to up this for next week and see how long I can push the miles over the weekend. I'm hoping for a 35-40 mile run on Saturday or Sunday, and then just maintain/taper until April 8th.


My dad and me after Sunday's run.

Mon - Off
Tue - 13 miles @ the Metrodome in 2:05
Wed - Off
Thu - 15 miles @ the Metrodome in 2:22 (w/Dad)
Fri - Off
Sat - 20 miles @ Minnehaha in 3:20 (icy, windy, and cold)
Sun - 12.2 miles @ Minnehaha in 2:08 (super slick, w/Dad)

Total - 60 Miles in 9:55

Cross your fingers. I'm going to give this a go.