Friday, February 29, 2008

Ruben Cavazos - US Army Athlete of the Year


I was very happy to receive an email the other day informing me that Ruben Cavazos of Hawaii, presently stationed in Kuwait, received the honor of being named the US Army Male Athlete of the Year. Keep in mind that Ruben is 48 ! In the US Army there have to be some fairly amazing athletes.

Earlier I wrote about Ruben running his HURT 100 in Kuwait to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. Congratulations Ben!! Job well done.

You can send Ben your good wishes at ruben.l.cavazos (at) kuwait.swa.army.mil

Thursday, February 28, 2008

ESPN on Ultrarunning

I'm always intrigued in how the mainstream media portrays the sport of ultrarunning and ultrarunners and what motivates them.

ESPN did a good article recently, which had this telling quote by Scott Jurek: "Nature reminds us that there's a greater force out there, and you have to respect that. It makes you feel pretty small." He means that in a good way. An ultrarunner would get it right away. It's not like you'd hear Barry Bonds or Shaquille O'Neal say such a thing about their sports.
What I didn't like about the article was the title: "Are these runners ultra-tough ... or ultra-crazy?" I meet less crazy people at ultras than almost anywhere else in life.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Avoid TV to Train Hard

"Above all, train hard, eat light, and avoid TV and people with negative attitudes."
- Scott Tinley

I am often asked by non-runners "Where do you find the time to run so much?" I tell them I don't watch TV, which frees me up to do all kinds of things. Sure I couldn't tell you anything about "American Idol" or whatever else people are watching TV, but I also get to avoid all the negative POVs that inundate the TV.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Training For Miwok

My first milestone race in 2008 is the Miwok 100k in Marin. I hope to improve on my 2007 time of 10:51.

My training essentially follows a simple weekly pattern.

M - Easy - 4-5 miles
Tu - Tempo or Hilly - 7-11 miles
W - Easy - 4-5 miles
Th - Tempo or Hilly - 7-11 miles
F - Easy - 4-5 miles
Sat - Long Run
Sun - Rest

With variations throughout the week, I can increase my miles gradually, and get in a good solid long run, generally where I'm going to run my next target race.

For the next 10 week period, I'll use this formula to work on my endurance and speed. A few of the weekends I'll be out at Mount Diablo preparing for the Diablo Marathon, then train a few weeks on the Miwok course.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Sunny Day at Squaw Valley

On the third day, the morning greeted us with clear blue skies and deep snow, since the storm that passed through had dumped almost two feet of new snow and had cleared the Sierra. It was a cross-trainer's dream, although avalanche blasts could be heard all day long.


video


Here is a panoramic view from Emigrant Pass. It doesn't format well in a blog, but if you click on it, you'll see a larger version.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Snowboarding at Squaw Valley - Day 2

On the second day of cross-training it snowed heavily as shown in the pictures. Visibility was very poor and they didn't open the top of the mountain. We called it a day at 3 pm and hoped to get a jump on the weekenders heading home. It wouldn't turn out that way. Highway 80 was closed at Donner Summit for the evening. We'd have to brave one more day of cross-training, and this time with more and deeper powder. Oh, well.


Olympic Rings in Snow

Squaw Valley Village

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Snowboarding at Squaw Valley

Cross-training can be boring if it's something you don't like to do, or it can be a blast. Even if it's not really cross-training, you can make it into it by a liberal use of your imagination. Such is snow-boarding. The way I look at it, it's a great way to work out your hip flexors and hamstrings, and develop your core. After all, you're doing squats all day long as well as using a controlled twisting motion to control your turning. And if you've ever fallen in deep powder, trying to get back on your feet is harder than any set of sit-ups or crunches I've ever experienced.

So for the weekend, I went up to Squaw Valley with my friend Tom. Here are some pictures of our first day.

At the bottom of the ski lift near where the Western States 100 starts

Tom at the top of Emigrant Pass with Lake Tahoe in the background

Cross-training like a Nascar racer sans car

Friday, February 22, 2008

Injinji Gloves

I have used various wool and polyester gloves over the last few years. They're cheap, so I don't care if I lose them, but they don't fit very well. Often they are a tad too small, or there's a bit more room in them than a key and a gel need (I put them in the palm).

Recently, while visitting my favorite running online store, ZombieRunner, I came across the Injinji Performance gloves. I use their socks on 50 and 100 mile runs, so I thought I'd give a pair a try.

Yowza!! With a very thin fleece lining, and a structure that conforms with the relaxed curve of a runner's hand, these gloves are perfect. I now run with them even when it's not that cold in the morning, just because they feel so comfortable on the hand and stash so easily in my hip pack.

They run a little small, so order the larger pair if you have medium-sized hands. Or use the online-chat feature at ZombieRunner and chat with a Zombie for help.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

First Endurance Interview with Karl Meltzer

First Endurance did a fairly good interview with Karl Meltzer about ultrarunning, altitude tips, and fueling and hydration strategies. As an athlete who struggles with these issues when significant altitude is involved in a race, I found it informative (even though it's a bit promotional for FE products) to see how a top runner deals with them. Karl has certain other advantages like living and training at a higher altitude, but he certainly gives me some ideas about how to better prepare for my races at Devil's Backbone in Montana and the Ultra-trail Tour du Mont Blanc in the Alps.

Here is the page with the video interview.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Running and Being - Dr. George Sheehan

One of my favorite running books is by George Sheehan, often called the philosopher of running. I came across Running and Being in my second year of running, so I had some experience to reflect back on. Many of the references to marathons and road races were somewhat lost on me, as well as the discussions of the running boom in the 70's.

What I did find very rewarding were the discussions of why we run, the different states of being when running, and how running shapes us as people and our lives. I'll admit that I majored in philosophy at UCLA so I have a philosophical perspective in general. Although I considered it, I don't think Dr. Sheehan's book took its inspiring title from Martin Heidegger's Being and Time, which I had read a bit of in college. Certainly, I had a lot more fun, and gained significantly more insight into "Being" from Dr. Sheehan than I did from the stodgy German existentialist philosopher. Nothing against Heidegger. He just probably didn't run.

One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Sheehan's book is "Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing.” So much else in life follows from this simple precept. It is similar to another favorite quote of mine from Marcus Aurelius, found in his notebooks which eventually were published as The Meditations - "The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, in so far as it stands ready against the accidental and the unforeseen, and is not apt to fall." He I surmise was once a runner.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Abraham Lincoln - Determination

"Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way. "

-- Abraham Lincoln

Many who know me know also that ol' Abe is my favorite American. He serves as a great example of determination and persistance in the face of magnificent adversity. This quote was one I pasted on my water bottle for my first 100 mile run at Western States.

Abraham Lincoln was born 199 years ago on February 12.


Monday, February 18, 2008

The Coastal Challenge - In Costa Rica with Jean Pommier


Jean Pommier went this year to Costa Rica to run The Coastal Challenge. He posted some extensive, colorful commentary with pictures, videos, and an extensive race report with maps, profiles and much more. Check it out.

If you've ever wanted to run a multi-day event in a beautiful country, The Coastal Challenge would be a good candidate. I had lived in Costa Rica for a short time in the late 1980's. It's a gorgeous, peaceful, friendly country.

Congratulations to Jean on his second place finish. He's already back to running marathons.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Volunteering at the Pacific Coast Trail Runs at Sequoia 10k, 20k, 30k, and 50k


I had the pleasure of volunteering at the PCTR Sequoia runs in Redwood Regional and Joaquin Miller Parks. While it is a bit chilly in winter in the bowl where the start and finish is (it’s quite shady, which comes in handy in summer), the day was full of sunshine, blue skies, and warmth throughout the course.

When volunteering it helps to get to the race really early as there is always something you can help out with. You also get a little extra time to see old friends you haven’t seen in a while. I got a little time to talk with Eddie O’Rourke, who I met years ago when we were both nursing broken clavicles. I was also able to help direct runners down the path to pick up their numbers. Race day registration with Marissa Walker was at the top of the hill, and there were plenty of runners signing up throughout the early morning.

My main task for the race was to set up and run the aid station in Canyon Meadow at the Redwood Regional entrance, just where the Stream Trail hits the Owl Creek picnic area. I was partnered up with Brian Wyatt, a coach for PCTR, and one of my regular training partners. His daughter, Hiya, ably supervised us. After hauling the gear, food and water from our cars, we set up all the bowls of pop tarts, goldfish, potatoes, chips, pretzels, M&Ms (peanuts and plain), cookies, orange slices, PB&J sandwiches, trail mix, etc. Knowing that our first runners would be coming in at 10:00 plus, we hurried to get all the water, electrolyte drink, Coke, and Sprite cups filled. From past experience, we knew that once the runners started coming in there would be almost no time to refill anything, until some short and much-needed lull. The front runners are quick in and quick out, needing very little. But soon the trickle would become a deluge with runners coming in fast, needing a quick turn around, and tossing out some unexpected requests – band aids or ibuprofen, the latter which it turned out was best to simply announce to the gathering crowd “Anyone got ibuprofen?” Bingo, two seconds and it was resolved.

Good tips to remember when volunteering at an aid station is the miles the runners have traveled so far, how many miles to the next aid station, and where precisely to go when leaving the aid station. Other than that, simply being willing to do whatever a runner needs to put it all back together and get back out on the trail, whether it’s helping patch a blister, putting their powder in their bottle while they graze the buffet, or simply encouraging them as they leave. On a hot day, which it wasn’t, it’s also good to remind the runners to keep drinking and taking salt. Since we were about mile 9 into the run, and wouldn’t see anyone again during the race, we didn’t have many problems. Everyone was in a great mood and enjoying the redwood trails and sunshine.

When we closed up the aid station, Brian and Hiya took the remaining food and gear back to the start, while I swept the ribbons up Stream Trail, down Bridle, then up Golden Spike and Toyon up to West Ridge. From there I was on the pink section until I turned down Tate taking a different route back to Golden Spike, over to Joaquin Miller, down the Sunset Trail, and back to the finish. What’s interesting about sweeping is you really notice how many ribbons are used and how well marked the course is. I have gotten lost on PCTR runs more than a few times, but it was always because I wasn’t paying attention. I just wish Wendell wasn’t so tall because I had to jump for some of the ribbons.
If you’re a veteran trail runner, would like to see more how the front runners use the aid stations (not much), or just want to help out on a trail run to see the great variety of people participating, volunteering at a PCTR event is a great way to make a contribution and have fun in many of the Bay Area’s beautiful parks. You’ll also feel the warm gratitude of all the runners as they thank you for coming out. Lastly, if you’re working the finish line, you get to see a lot of happy people feeling blissfully satisfied with what they’ve accomplished that day. Perhaps that’s best part of volunteering – you get to help others achieve a big, wild goal.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Susitna 100


Just outside of Anchorage, Alaska this weekend, a group of intrepid runners will head out into the harsh snow to run 100 miles in The Susitna 100. This is a race that even ultrarunners consider as "a little nuts."

Since I got into ultras somewhat on the inspiration of Ernest Shackleton, I've always found this race quite appealling. Perhaps next year I'll get it on my calendar.

Good luck to all those heading out into the ice, crossing frozen rivers and lakes, and braving the bitter cold. It looks to be a balmy 6 degree Fahrenheit this morning in Anchorage.

And no, you are not allowed to use dogs to pull your sled. You are the dog!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Finding Your Weakness Can Be A Strength

The benefit of recovering from a strenuous race is you get a keen physical sense of your body’s weaknesses.

Before running ther HURT 100, I visited a highly-recommended physical therapist who, after giving me a thorough evalutation, found that I had a weakness in my gluteus medius. These muscles, right and left, are responsible for keeping the body in balance when the weight is on one leg, something which occurs continually for a runner. Additionally, when they are weak they put additional pressure on the Ilio-tibial Band. I had this condition diagnosed the year before when I was recovering from some ITB issues, so it wasn’t a surprise. I had worked on the muscles the year before, but I now sensed that after my race I would have to focus on strenghtening them some more.

So off I went to run HURT. After slipping in the mud for many hours late into the evening and morning, I have come to believe that I aggravated the muscle on my right side. I didn’t’ realize this right away, if only because almost everything hurt after the race. The first week of running (three weeks after the race) I was a bit stiff, with some discomfort in my feet and ankle tendons. After trying to run uphill on my morning route, I’m noticing my gluteus medius muscle weakness and soreness. Well, that’s what all this recovery/self-assessment is about – finding where you need to put attention in recovering, stretching and strengthening.

I have taken three days off from running and, lucky for me, used the neighbor’s hot tub to stretch in. My physical therapist gave me some strenghtening exercises to slowly regain the strength in the medius and hip flexor muscles. Key to recovering the strength will be assuring that each side gets complimentary workouts. Then I’ll again assess how they’re doing, before charging hard into the hills. Still, I’m able to run as long as I keep it easy and focus on stable, non-technical foot plants.

This is all fairly normal for me. There is always a weak point. As a mentor at work once mentioned to me “Knowing your weakness is a strength. It allows you to guard against it failing you, and keeps you from being blind-sided where you’re vulnerable.”

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sue Johnston - John Muir Trail in 3 days, 20 hours


One of the great ultrarunning adventures in 2007 was Sue Johnston's record-setting run of the John Muir Trail in August. She wrote up a short report of her adventure, shortly after finishing, a longer report after having some time to absorb all that she had experienced, and a very cool list of her splits, gear, and nutrition. It sounds like it was an adventure of a lifetime.

Some day I hope to complete a supported run of the JMT. Certainly not with any intent of breaking any records. Just so I can cover the 200+ miles without having to lug around a big pack. It is majestically beautiful up in the Range of Light.

A belated congratulations Sue!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

When Not Running - Deb Pero


An element of ultrarunning, or trail running in general, that outsiders wouldn't likely pick up without logging quite a few miles is that ultrarunners have an amazing array of occupations and hobbies. There are firemen, planetary physicists, nannies, bartenders, big animal veterinarians, kazoo players and painters - as in fine art painters.

Deb Pero, who lives in New Hampshire, has finished such gruelling races as the Bighorn 100, Massanutten 100, and Hardrock 100 and is a talented painter. Her website is a true feast for the eyes. I especially liked her Daily Painting Blog. The painting of the oranges below just made my mouth water.


Hat Tip: Sue Johnston

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why Do Muscles Fatigue?


Paint me a skeptic whenever the mainstream press cites findings of a scientific study. Today's New York Times Science Section has an article entitled Finding May Solve Riddle of Fatigue in Muscles.

Essentially the problem with muscle fatigue "is calcium flow inside muscle cells. Ordinarily, ebbs and flows of calcium in cells control muscle contractions. But when muscles grow tired, the investigators report, tiny channels in them start leaking calcium, and that weakens contractions. At the same time, the leaked calcium stimulates an enzyme that eats into muscle fibers, contributing to the muscle exhaustion."

After reading the article, which is fairly interesting, my eyebrows pulled a muscle (the frontalis) when I got to this part, "So the day may come when there is an anti-fatigue drug." Oh, please. This is where lifestyle/science reporters jump the shark to juice up science writing. The research was being done to study ways in which to better treat people with congestive heart failure.

Yet Dr. Steven Liggett, a heart-failure researcher (just in time for Valentine's Day) at the University of Maryland has the best quote. Wondering if the body's fatigue signals work as a "protective mechanism", he states, "maybe fatigue is saying that you are getting ready to go into a danger zone. So it is cutting you off. If you could will yourself to run as fast and as long as you could, some people would run until they keeled over and died."

Wait, I know these people. They don't keel over and die. They fill up their water bottles, grab a few cookies and set out for the next pass over yonder.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Blog Picture


People have often asked where the picture in the blog title was taken. It's from an August 2006 trip on the JMT in northern Kings Canyon National Park. Right as you're ascending Evolution Basin there are a set of lakes. This picture is taken at Sapphire Lake. The picture at the beginning of this post is a meadow I came across in the early morning near the San Joaquin River.

Shortly after I took the Sapphire Lake photo, a ferocious hail and lightening storm burst out with the loudest thunder and closest lightening I had ever experienced. I found sanctuary in a tent with two serious mountain climbers who just happened to be camping up in the high country, riding out the sudden High Sierra storm. My destination was intended to be Muir Pass and Muir Hut, but I had to give up after hiking/running 33 miles since the morning. I came within about a 1/2 mile, then turned around given the time of day and conditions, and ran 35 miles through the night to get back to my car at Lake Florence. Here are two pictures taken just after the storm: the first is looking northwest, the second southeast toward Muir Pass.



Here is a short video, again taken with my digital camera, of a scene a bit lower in Evolution Valley.

video

Sunday, February 10, 2008

AJW -- Erik Weihenmayer's Climb Up Everest

There are few people I admire in ultrarunning more than Andy Jones-Wilkins. He is a gracious athlete and competitor, a big 'ol little boy out playing on the trail, and a wonderful ambassador for the sport. He used to also live in Oakland. So he was a homie, too.

In 2005 I was at the finish line of Western States watching Andy circle the track in second place. He was really trucking, giving it his all, all the way around the track. I had never seen anyone so full of the moment. I always remember watching him, thinking "Remember this moment - this is how to run a 100 mile race."

I've had the opportunity to run with Andy out at Mt. Diablo. Yeah, he lost me on the way up to the summit. I've also had a gas of a time chatting with Shelly at Javelina Jundred and flying planes with his boys. What a great crew Andy has.

Andy has a blog which reflects his enthusiasm and love for the sport. Recently he posted about a friend of his, Erik Weihenmayer, and his ascent of Everest. The video of the conversation at Sun Valley is inspiring. Eric is blind. He is the only blind person to have ascended the Seven Summits.

I can't explain Andy's choice of sweaters on the video. Perhaps it's just the boyish enthusiasm we all love in Andy.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Running Through the Wall

Before I even set out to run my first ultramarathon, the Skyline 50k, I read Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon by Neil Jamison. It is a collection of stories by over three dozen ultrarunners, speedsters and back-of-the-packers, young turks and older legends.

What I remember most when I first read the stories was how generous and friendly all the authors were. I knew Tim Twietmeyer and Ann Trason from the A Race for the Soul production. These were world-class runners. To read their stories about overcoming the challenges during their races made it seem like a shared adventure. Only later would I learn and cherish the legendary sense of common-bond found in the ultrarunning community. What amazes me today when I look through the table of contents is how many of these storytellers I have met, spoken with, or shared a trail.

In the last few days Endurance Planet, presented by ZombieRunner, has launched a monthly Tales from the Trails program. The program is described as "an audio magazine for ultrarunners". In its first (free) edition it includes Joel Zucker's Hardrock 100 race report, Andy Jones-Wilkin's adventure in winning 2007's Vermont 100, and Carey Smith, whom I wrote about yesterday, and his story at Arkansas Traveler 100. These "tales" will surely be the start of some new runners' adventures in ultramarathons.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Carey Smith - Running Toward the Future


There are many stories about how people take up running or exercise, and transform their lives. Some even become ultrarunners. One extraordinary example is Carey Smith, who blogs at "Going the Distance!". He describes his recent past best himself:

In 1998, at the age of 24, I was 6 feet tall, weighed 230 lbs and was approaching a 40 inch waist. I knew that I needed to make some changes before my weight and health spiraled out of control. I lost about 35 lbs in 6 months due to following a strict diet and exercise routine. Throughout my 20's I maintained my weight but continued to lead an extremely unhealthy lifestyle. In September, 2005, I kicked many of my self-destructive habits and promptly signed up for the Memphis Marathon which I ran on December 3, 2005. Since then I have run 10 Marathons, 14 Ultra-Marathons and weigh in at 170 lbs.

What also makes Carey truly admirable is that he co-owns a program, created by co-owner Brad Holzworth, who finished his first 100 mile event at Rocky Raccoon, to help others realize the positive benefits running can have on your life. They call it Running 4 Recovery.

Here's a cool interview with Carey on Endurance Planet.

I've read his sites for awhile, and exchanged a few emails with Carey. He's a wonderful addition to our sport, an inspiring and positive influence on many others, and a great guy. Some day I hope to share a few miles of trail with him.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Recovering from a 100 Mile Race

Once you get to the finish line of a 100 mile race (or not, as the case may be), the beginning of recovery starts. Everyone goes through their trials on how to recover (Scott Dunlap has great interviews with various runners), and finds out what works for them and what doesn't. After four years I have my routine, and it seems to be working well for me. So here's what I do after a 100 mile run to assure my body can begin training again.

    -- as quickly as possible eat/drink carbohydrates and protein, and as close to a 4:1 ratio as possible. Either I drink Odwalla's Super Protein drink or Endurox R4, or just eat and drink to my delight.

    -- take an ice bath. As uncomfortable as this might be, it is the single best thing to get the inflammation down in my legs. I fill the bath with cold water while I'm sitting in it. When it gets up to my toes, I add one or two bags of ice. Sarah refers to me as the human cocktail.

    -- speaking of cocktails, I try to relax at night with my feet up on the couch with a favorite Scotch or Whiskey. Seems like a good reward for all that running. In Hawaii it was Mai Tais in the Manao Surfrider patio overlooking Waikiki Beach with some other runners. When in Rome....

    -- take post-race recovery vitamins to replenish/store up those micronutrients I either depleted or need for muscle repair.

    -- don't run at all for two weeks. I believe I adopted this from something Garett Graubin mentioned on a run. As I'm a fairly older runner, it's worked well for me. I am always eager to get out and run again, but taking the rest makes it easier to regain mileage later on.

    -- when I do get out for a run (this is the first week of running post-HURT) I go really slow to keep my heart-rate down. I'm really trying to gauge how my body is feeling, how my muscles are responding and where my tendons and ligaments are still tender. After HURT I noticed that my metatarsals are particularly tender given all the ankle-twisting roots and mud. This keeps me from pushing hard up hills or taking downhills too fast. The first week I run quite slow; the second week I'll pick up the tempo; and the third week I see how far I can push myself without any dashboard lights coming on. Then I'm done with the diagnostics and ready to start training again.

    -- get two massages in the fourth and fifth weeks post-race. Don't get the massage too early or you'll be more sore from the massage than receiving any true benefit from it.

    -- try to get lots of sleep, especially naps during the weekends. This goes on for about four weeks. Sleep, sleep, sleep.
Lastly, the weekend after the big race, I try to have a nice big dinner with friends - grass fed steak, spinach and potatoes. For no other reason than it's my favorite meal and it's a reward for all the effort and time I put in to train, run and recover from my adventure.

The last few times I've attempted long runs this routine seems to work well for me. Others have their more scientific routines. Mine takes about four or five weeks. Then I'm back to a new training regimen.

Update: Sometimes you read something timely on a completely different subject and realize how much it is in sychronicity with a recent post. Yesterday I read this about maintaining military equipment in developing countries:

"Maintenance --a dull, unpleasant, and yet necessary task--is an indication of discipline, esprit de corps, and faith in the future, because you maintain only what you plan to use for the long term."
-- Robert Kaplan, Imperial Grunts

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ready, Set, Stand Still -- A-Ultrarunning

I've never been one to sit still let alone stand still. Sometimes standing still is an arty-type of endurance event all its own.

This one in Grand Central Station was pretty cool.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Congratulations Jorge - Rocky Racoon 100 Winner

Jorge Pacheco, a quiet, gracious and thoroughly talented runner, again won the Rocky Racoon 100 Mile in Huntsville, Texas. This year Jorge clocked an honorable 14:12:20 to win by over one hour.

More race results here.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Steve Stowers' Jed Smith 50 Mile - 5:39:45


Steve Stowers, who ran a fantastic 50 mile race this weekend at Jedediah Smith 50 Mile, sent a brief email about his effort out to a group of friends. He was kind enough to allow me to include it here:

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty special race for me so I decided to write up a race report and share it. Initially, my goal for the flat, fast Jed Smith 50 Mile was 6 hours (which I failed to achieve five years ago in my first 50 mile race). Then a couple weeks ago Jasper [Halekas] mentioned to me that the qualifying standard for POSSIBLE selection to the US Men’s 100km team was 5:40 for a 50 mile race. Although I thought my chances of a 5:40 were slim, my training had been going really well and if the weather cooperated (it did, overcast and showery, 40s) and I had a perfect race, I convinced myself my chances were not completely zero. So I made myself a 5:40 50 mile pace chart for what my splits needed to be at the start/finish for each of the 15 laps of the 3.3 mile certified loop.

As always in an ultra, I felt great at the beginning, and through the first 30 miles I was three minutes ahead of schedule (marathon split approx. 2:55). At around 30 miles, though, my energy level began to drop and, with it, my heart rate and my speed. By 40 miles I was two minutes behind schedule and had all but resigned myself to my secondary goal of 6 hours. However, my energy was returning, most likely due to my switching from Accelerade to good old-fashioned Coke. With three laps to go (10 miles) I had 65 minutes to make 5:40. Grim as the situation seemed, I was feeling increasingly better. If I really pushed it, I found I was once again able to run close to the needed 6:30 pace.

As I started the bell lap, the clock told me I would have to run my fastest lap of the race, 21:15 (~6:20 pace). During the final lap, for inspiration I thought about all the pre-dawn runs and solo cold, rainy interval workouts that I had done, as well as how long this race would haunt me if I missed [my goal] by only a few seconds. When I hit the pavement (the course was half pavement, half dirt/mud road) for the final time, with about a mile to go, I unleashed everything I had left (a quick glance at the heart rate monitor at one point told me I was in sub-6:00 territory). Finally, I got close enough to the finish clock to read the numbers and I realized I would make it. John Cougar Mellencamp’s ‘Hurts So Good’ comes to mind. Final time 5:39:45. Perhaps my storyon this day can inspire someone on this list to keep hope alive in a future race even when the situation looks grim.

I should also mention that there was no less drama on the last lap of Jasper’s race (50k) than there was in mine. Going into the last lap Jasper was in third place with the two people ahead of him fading. He smelled blood and posted around a 20 minute (6:00 pace) final lap to take the victory.

The Jed Smith 50 mile course record is 5:32, so no I didn’t get it. The 50 mi race is nearly 30 years old and used to be competitive in its early days. My time will rank 6th on the all time list.

Steve

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Running in the Redwoods After the Rain

Here are some pictures from today's run at Redwood Regional Park. It was my first real run after HURT 100, so I went slow and enjoyed being out on the trail again. Still, lots of mud and water.



And here is a video I captured with my digital camera. It isn't the best quality but I tend to like the unexpected effects.

video

And here's a still video of a partial view of what the forest looks like. You don't get the full effect, but even a partial shot shows you the peacefullness.

video

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Jedediah Smith 50k and 50 Mile


Even though the course was a bit muddy, I see that my friends did well and won their races.

Jasper Halekas won the 50k in 3:23:51 with Jenny Capel winning the women's race.

Steve Stowers ran an amazing pace of 6:48 for 50 miles (ouch!!) for a final time of 5:39:46.

I can't even phathom going so fast for so far!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile

This weekend in Huntsville, Texas, the 16th Rocky Racoon 100 Mile Trail Run will be held. With over 275 100 milers and 175 50 milers it's proving to be a fast and competitive race.

On another note, the Jedediah Smith 50k/50M will be run at Gibson Ranch in Elverta, CA near Sacramento. Best of luck to friends Jasper Halekas in the 50k and Steven Stowers in the 50 Mile. Both are expected to set a blistering pace.

Me: I'll be out volunteering at the PCTR Woodside trail running event.