20161004

The 2016 St George Marathon Race Report

Was each mile of the 2016 St George faster or slower than 2015? ( F = faster; S =  slower; NC = No change.)


  1. F
  2. S
  3. F
  4. S
  5. S
  6. S
  7. S
  8. F
  9. S
  10. F
  11. F
  12. F
  13. F
  14. F
  15. F
  16. F
  17. F
  18. F
  19. F
  20. F
  21. F
  22. F
  23. S
  24. NC
  25. F
  26. F


18 miles of this year’s race were faster than last year’s. But the net gain was only about 30 seconds. Most of the faster miles were in the latter part of the race.


This years execution felt good as my plan to go out slower and finish faster was mostly successful. I pretty much knew going in that I was not going to be able to get much faster than last year as it has been a crazy year for me and my training wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.


Still not 100% sure if there was an early bird perk of a guaranteed entry for next year if you got on one of the early busses but right now, I’m pretty sure there isn’t. But I was still on probably the 3rd bus or so. I had to hang out at the start for over 2 hours before the race started. Not really that big of a deal, but on the way up in the bus it rained and that had me concerned that I might get wet before the race even started. I was prepared for a little bit of rain, but not for a full on downpour for 2 hours. Luckily, it did not rain and it wasn’t all that cold. Which could be a bad thing as if it’s too warm at the start it’s a good indication that it would probably be too warm later in the day.


Anyway, the pre-race happened well enough. The fire was nice and I had brought a small pack-chair to chill on while waiting so It was nice to have my back against something while I sat. I ate a banana, some potato chips and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich just about 1 hour before the start. Then about 6:15 I packed up my stuff and dropped by drop bag off at the truck and went to the start line.


The race started a few minutes late but that wasn’t a big deal. Before I knew it we were off.


The strategy here was to do not much else but slower in the first half than the second half. I was hoping that maybe in the end I could PR by a minute or two but knew that going out too fast in the start was going to spell disaster in the 2nd half. So, I HAD to play it safe the first half and hold back despite the fact that I felt really good and wanted to go a lot faster during the first miles.


Don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but one of my strategies for running is this: NEVER cut corners in training and ALWAYS cut corners on the race course. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line and when running a race, of course, stay on the official course. But if it’s a closed off two lane road, then the whole road is the course. If you were running on a track in a competitive event no one would remain on the outside lanes if it was allowed because the distance on the outside lane of a running track is of course longer and takes more time to complete. So, the corners on a road course can be shortened in the same manner as taking the inside lane versus the outside lane. So when you turn a corner look for the shortest distance to the inside of the next corner and make a straight line for it. It is not any form of cheating or gaining an unfair advantage (just like runners on a track going on the inside lane).


Having said this, I think some people running a race think they need to do what everyone else is doing and follow the majority of the crowds through the course even though they are staying in the middle of the road or are turning to the inside lane to the next corner too soon. I ran on the inside of the road when others were taking the outside frequently.


So by no means am I advocating doing anything wrong here. But if you can stay on the official course and shorten the distance to the finish by smartly considering taking the inside of each corner and taking the straightest line between each one then you will end up at least getting to the finish by a few steps faster than meandering and staying to the outside of the corners.


So, I passed quite a few people who don’t really consider this and I’ll admit, I had to run away from where everyone else was running which, I guess, could make people a little uncomfortable because they might think that others think they are doing something wrong or whatever. But enough with that stuff. If you are on the course, you are on the course.


Okay, the Veyo hill was kinda fun and I had no problems getting up it. I was constantly checking out my watch and looking at each of my splits. Before I knew it I was halfway done and I was feeling alright. I was drinking something at every aid station and having a gel about every 5 miles. This worked out well, I think. I didn’t have any problems with energy or breathing. It might be just in my head but I swear I could feel more oxygen in the air once I got down to the last 5k of the race.


After about mile 15, when course drops down Snow Canyon I picked up the pace and the weather was feeling okay, maybe a little warm.


There was a big crowd of people there and they cheered and I took a few high fives from some lovely people. Their cheers helped give me some energy and keep me positive.


So mile 18 came up and at this point (I could go off about my stupid gps watch, but I’ll spare you) I didn’t think that I was able to go significantly faster than I had been going. But I knew I could go at least a little bit faster. So I did my best. I checked my watch frequently to keep my speed in check to make sure that I wasn’t going too fast or too slow. Again, here is where I was able to take the inside lane and pass a few people.


Snow Canyon Parkway came up and that was, according to my math the point of the race where 5k remains. I was going at a decent pace and decided to just keep looking at my watch about every minute and make sure that I was going faster than my goal pace. It was the best that I could do to keep hacking away at my time.


I remember last year that it was about mile 24 that I started to fade and I don’t know if it was mental or physical but it was a rough last few miles to crank out sub 6:30 miles. This year, I was feeling okay, I knew that I was getting almost done physically and mentally but the point that I really felt like I had hit a wall was after I saw a sign that said “mile 25.2” it was probably no more than 30 seconds after I passed the sign where my body and head were like “okay, dude, you’re done” and I had to fight that by just counting steps and keep forcing myself to move forward.


Running through town was nice but this year it really felt like there were fewer people than I remember but I thank all those that did cheer on some guy they didn’t really know. And especially a thank you to those who would read my name on my bib and shout “go, Morgan!” and “you got this, Morgan!”


Oh, so there was one person who gradually passed me and I thought that if I could keep them in my sights then I think I’ll be in good shape so I tried to keep going and not let them get too far ahead. Well, that person eventually faded a bit and I ended up passing them. I know it might sound mean, but it is a good feeling to pass people late in the race - not because they feel bad, but because you feel good enough to keep up a good pace.


Well, as I stated before I was 30 seconds faster than my time from last year. And technically a personal record - but by about 3 seconds.


It was a warm year, maybe the warmest that I remember at the finish. So that is a factor in performance. I don’t know what the outcome would have been if the temps were 10 degrees colder but it might have been a little better.

The finish line area was great and all the volunteers were very energetic and helpful. I think now that I’m headed to the ten year club for this race. I would like to get in one more PR on this race and possibly break 2:50 but if I just get out there and have fun for the rest of my days then that would be alright.

20160927

The 2016 Huntsville Marathon - Race Report

In an attempt to not be too boring I’m going to intentionally forego some of the more mundane stuff that usually happens at every race, like getting on the bus, picking up the bib and such.

So some quick positive points up to the start of the race. The bus system worked well, the starting area was very well organized and was very pleasant. I hit the porta potties, had my sammich and a banana and ran up the road a few times to warm up.

I was excited and fairly nervous about how well I was going to do. I was thinking that my stomach was going to act up at some point, but luckily it never did.

The starting area had some good tunes and I don’t remember hearing Highway To the Danger Zone or Eye of the Tiger so I was very happy about that.

The gun went off and so were we.

The plan was to finish about 2:51. I was pretty sure that if everything went well that my training could get me that much. Having run most of the course just 2 weeks earlier was very beneficial because I was familiar with how the course profile went and how to strategize.

The first few miles were pretty fast and the parts that were in the shade were actually quite cool. Not too cool, but still a bit chilly.

I was looking at my watch and knew that I was going a little bit fast but thought as long as I didn’t plan on going faster and just maintain that pace that everything would be going okay. This turned out to be a mistake.

Despite the downhill and the perceived effort to knock out each mile, I was going too fast. Such a rookie mistake to make and I, for some reason, thought that I was smarter.

At any rate, the first half was done and gone pretty fast and I was doing okay. I was drinking at every aid station and having a gel about every other aid station. My lungs and energy levels were all good.

At last I was rolling up on the final 7 or 8 miles and I was starting to fade a bit. It was my legs mostly. They didn’t want to move. I think that my breathing was not too bad and I felt that I had energy. It was just my legs that didn’t want to go that fast anymore.

At one point I started looking at my watch and sort of got annoyed with it (this is a recurring theme with me and running) so I kind of stopped paying attention thinking that I just had to move forward and the the watch wasn’t going to help me do that.

The last miles were pretty grueling I must admit. My legs hurt, a lot. My pace was slacking and I was pretty much in just-get-to-the-finish mode. So, while the end of the race was pretty tough I was able to get a good finish time in.

I crossed the finish line in 2 hours 53 minutes and 19 seconds. Which, technically, gives me a PR, but only by 25 seconds. I don’t want to discount that too much though, as a PR is a PR is a PR.

I did get first in my age group, was 5th place male, and 6th place overall. I talked to one of the organizers at the start who said that there were about 400 who had registered, about 50 of those changed to the half from the full and at the end of the day there were 279 finishers (at least according to the posted results). So who’s complaining about top ten? Not me, no sir.

So, it was a good run. I had a good time. I liked the race and I liked the course. It was well organized and executed and wasn’t all that expensive either.

One more note, the themed aid stations weren’t lost on me. I especially liked the cut outs of the presidential candidates with motivational signs. And to the kid with the tray of Skittles; thank you, they were delicious. I’m sorry I knocked some on the ground.

20160809

2016 Kat'cina Mosa 100k Adventure Mountain Run Race Review Report - Springville, Utah



The 2016 Kat’cina Mosa 100k - Race Review

It’s done. 5th place overall with about 70 people registered, and about 55 or so finished. I have no idea how many of those were DNS or DNF. So bottom line, getting in the top 5 is certainly evidence of a good performance and I’m proud of it. Read on for the details.

I woke up about 1:30am after about 3 hours sleep and got as ready as I could and showed up at the start about 30 mins early. I did all my normal pre-race stuff. I ate a banana, a PB&J and some potato chips and gummy bears. Drank some water and called it good. My brain wanted me to have a bathroom stop before the race but that didn’t happen. Oh well, I’d probably be stopping somewhere mid-race for a visit to the bushes. The start was about as expected and at 3am we were off.

I had a really cheap headlamp with me that I used and was certainly not the dumbest decision I made during the race, but it’s certainly not the smartest either. The headlamp was barely sufficient to light my way along the Squaw Peak road. I had never used this headlamp for anything and I wasn’t even certain the batteries were fresh. With everyone else and their stellar headlamps around me for the first few miles it wasn’t so bad. I was living off the other headlamps as much as I was my own. Eventually though my excitement and determination to finish this race in good time was enough to get me out a head by myself with a few other runners so far ahead of me that they were nowhere to be seen.

Of course one of the things about being out in the front of the pack is the marking of the course. I was fairly certain I was where I needed to be but boy were the markings for this course sparse. Throughout the race I went uncomfortably long distances without seeing markers and at least 2 times I was very near turning around.

The dark lasted quite a while and my pace was well above my goal pace and I knew that this wasn’t too bad because the climbing was certainly going to slow my pace a bit. The first 3 aid stations were over and done in the dark and I was feeling good and knew I was very close to the front. The 2nd big climb to Lightning Ridge came up and I was now passing some of the early starters. I asked one of them and they said I was the third runner. I was pretty excited by this and thought that if I could maintain that position I would be in good shape.

I consider my pace climbing up to this ridge to be a good performance on my part. I was able to keep a good pace all the way up and was feel pretty good. Eventually after the ridge there was some downhill that was a little bit more than I was expecting but not overly difficult. The trail did relent every now and then and I was able to pick up the pace some more and that was going good.

I got to the next aid station at Big Springs and was in and out in what was probably too fast of a time. I don’t even know what I ate or drank looking back at it. I was too excited to keep going.

As I was leaving I heard someone say about it being a really big hard climb coming up and I almost didn’t believe them. I thought that it probably wouldn’t be that bad. But well, it turned out it was. The sun was now up and making the exposed portions of the course rather hot and there were some tricky rocky portions of the trail that wasn’t exactly easy to cross. Again, I kept up my pace as best as I could and passed a few more of the early starters and some other hikers that weren’t participants in the event.

Windy pass seemed like it was forever away from the last aid station. I kept thinking that I could see it but I really didn’t have any clue where it was. Eventually I saw some people on the skyline that was pretty far off and I felt pretty sure that’s where I was headed. I did the best I could muster and eventually made it to Windy Pass. The aid station wasn’t much and I didn’t take much from them. I distinctly remember having some chips with me outside the aid station and throwing them down because my body didn’t want to eat it. I think this might have been an indication that something wasn’t quite right.

I was told that from windy pass it was downhill to the next aid station. Yes. I wanted that more than anything. Well, there was still some climbing then it did go down. But about 5k after windy pass the course was not downhill. It was more of a roller coaster than anything and again, it felt like forever to get to the next aid station. I kept up my pace as best as I could but I was in fact walking more than I would have like to.

The trail started to go down about a mile from the next aid station and I ran as much as I could. I was low on water and energy and it was more difficult to run than it really should have been at this point.

I got to the next aid station and knew that I had to make it quick or I was going to lose my 3rd place position. I changed my shoes and socks and wiped off my feet with wet wipes - they were very dirty. At this aid station there is an out-and-back portion that must be completed. I went up and back and was in pretty poor shape by the time I got back to the aid station. I stopped and knew that I was in bad shape but didn’t know what to do about it. I was a little nauseous and low on energy and didn't have any appetite. So the only thing that I could think of doing was moving forward. I could still do that and that’s what I came here to do.

I didn’t really know what the course looked like from here. I was about mile 40 and knew that it was more or less downhill from mile 52. So I had about 12 miles that I was hoping was going to be some flat, fast road but soon after the aid station was just up and nothing but up.

I was very low on energy and wasn’t eating like I should. I thought at the time that I had been getting enough liquids but looking back I’m not sure.

I walked a lot of this part of the course and kept expecting for another runner (or fifty) to just pass me like this race was a 10k. But surprisingly, no one did catch up to me.

I didn’t know where exactly the next aid station was but it finally appeared. I sat down and asked for a Red Bull. They gave me one and I drank all of it. I took some food but don’t think I ate much of it. Putting food in my mouth was something my body didn’t want. Chewing was hard and swallowing was almost impossible. I thought I was just going to immediately throw it up. I never did yak but I was not feeling well.

The course out of this aid station kept climbing, I sort of knew it would but had hoped it wouldn’t be too bad. Well, it was still tough. The good news is at this point was that I did feel okay and was able to get up the climb with surprising speed. I wasn’t doing 9 min miles but I was able to maintain a good balance of walking and running. That red bull did something. I’m not sure what, but something. I guess.

But after the climbing up my energy began to wane again. The trail leveled out and the sun was beating down pretty hot and I hit a rough patch again. I counted steps and tried to make sure that I was walking at least as many steps as I was running and kept moving forward.

I thought to myself how hard this race was. I really was, at this point, completely hammered. I was toast. I was fried. I was whooped. I was exhausted. I was out of it. I was zapped. I knew that someone was going to pass me before the finish. I was just trying to not make it too bad.

Eventually, out of the blue, someone did pass me. He was doing a much faster pace than I was. I said good job and he and his pacer were out of sight. 4th place, well, that’s still not bad.

The next aid station finally after what felt like an eternity finally came to view. I didn’t know what to do. Drink? Eat? I could drink but didn’t really feel like I needed a lot of water. I was still disgusted by eating. Didn’t think there was any point or benefit to taking the time to force myself to eat some chips or pretzels. I sat down and the nice people at the aid station helped as much as they could. But I was done. Totally done. But totally NOT done at the same time.

So I drank some red bull and some water and just left. I was hoping that since the rest of the course was downhill I would be able to just put my head down and go but it was not to be. I ended up just walking and running. Walking a few steps and running a few steps. When the course went up I walked and when it went down I did my best to run it. But I was still just a zombie moving at a meager pace.

After what felt like another eternity I came to the next aid station. I tried to get some water and food in but didn’t do so well. Had some red bull and got some cold water. With something like 6 miles left on pavement I was thinking 4th would be good if I could just get down the canyon in a decent fashion.

Well, as I sat at the aid station another person who looked like they were on mile 2 of a 10k race flew in and out of the aid station. Good for them, honestly. Now I was in 5th place. I guess this isn’t the finish so I guess I’ll keep going. And 5th isn’t that bad, right?

My brother came up to this point on his bike and rode with me for a while. But this was no fun for him. I wasn’t able to mentally engage in anything else and I could barely run anything at this point.

Before the race started I was looking forward to some fast miles in this part of the race. I had hoped that the canyon would be downhill and shady and since it was a road be a nice way to wrap up the race. Well, for me it was about 4pm and the sun was at a perfect angle to not provide any real shade from the trees. The road was surprisingly flat from my point of view. There was nothing good about this part of the race. I even had to dodge the traffic and that was no fun either.

Well, again, I tried as best I could to run as much as possible but I really couldn’t go for more than about a quarter mile before I had to walk a little. When the road straightened I tried looking back fully expecting a group of runners to just run past me. But no one did. I couldn’t believe it.

Finally after 13 hours and 49 minutes of the worst bashing of my life I crossed the finish line. In 5th place overall!

I think I underestimated this race but then when I say that it’s sounds weird in the context of 5th place overall in a 100 kilometer race. I know I did well in that sense, but I don’t think I did well in the overall execution of it. I don’t know if I should have held back earlier in the race or did something drastically different with my nutrition. But the nausea and the heat were mighty foes.I would like to have been able to run a little bit more consistently in the last 10 miles of the race.

But this is a good effort and a good learning experience for me. Even before I did this race I knew I was going to go at it with much more of a “race” mentality than I did earlier this year at the Zion 100k (where finishing was paramount to pace or place). I wanted to take more risks with this race even if it did mean crashing and burning. I don’t see this as being my last 100k and since I think I could do better, there’s a non-zero chance I'll come back in the future.

20160730

Speedgoat 50k 2016


Done in 7:47 which is amazing. My watch says 7:46 but we’ll just take the ultrasingup.com at their word. I guess.

So the race starts. I’m still not that certain of how things are going to go. I know I have a plan but I don’t really know if I’m in better shape than last year or what to expect. I sort of thought that thinking that I could do better would be stupid to think. But anyway. Nothing too big transpires on the first part of the race. Getting to the first aid station I’m 3 mins ahead of my time from last year and I remember last year I was at the aid station longer because I had to tie my shoes. Well, I got in and out pretty fast. Got down to the halfway point in decent time. Right now looking back I do think that I might have been able to make it to the halfway point just a little bit faster if I would have tried just a little harder to make it down the river of torture. But still, at half way I was ahead of my estimated time. Now for the uphill. I took the uphill very well. I decided that I was going to run 10 steps and walk 10 steps. That may not seem like much but it was enough to get me ahead of at least 5 other people. It may have been a wash at the end of the day because some of those people passed me again but I still made time on myself compared to last year. About 6 mins faster than last year, which is absolutely awesome. So I get to the Mineral Aid Station the 2nd time and I’m doing and feeling great. I’m well ahead of last year. Of course to get to the next aid station is a lot of up so I just get out there and do it the best that I can. I was hoping to get some running steps in here but it wasn’t happening. This section is pretty steep and about 10,000 ft elevation. All I could do was just keep moving forward. No problem.

Get up to Mt Baldy in decent time and get down to the tunnel aid in good time. My split last year was 6:06 and this year I got to the same aid station in 5:40 - so i’m 26 mins ahead of my target time and I hadn’t even counted the time from getting lost last year. Hooray for that all the way home.

No problems to really speak of. In hindsight I sort of think I should have just gave a little bit more effort to get down and up parts of the course. But when I’m exceeding expectations in every way it’s hard to say that something different should have been done.

So I’m huffing and puffing up to Hidden Peak for the 2nd time and it’s great. I like the fact that there aren’t a lot of runners around me and that every 20 mins or so I pass someone.

Eventually I get to Hidden Peak the 2nd time and get in and out as quick as I can. Getting to the finish is by no means a picnic with some climbing and some pretty steep downhill still to manage. But I do okay.

Funny thing? I'm rolling up to the finish and couldn't have been more than about 1/3rd of a mile from it. I decide that I'm making good time and I'm thirsty enough that I need a drink. I take out my water bottle and slow down just a little. As I tilt my head back to drink my foot lands on a rock a little sideways and my calve muscle cramps and stops me dead in my tracks. I don't know what to do because I've never had this happen before. I can't move my leg. I try to rub it but that doesn't seem to do anything. Within probably 20 seconds I'm back up and moving to the finish. That was weird.


Notes:

Ate pbnj, a ziplock bag of chips, banana a few gummy bears about 30 mins before the race.

Did go to the bathroom before it started - always a good sign.

Felt like I drank a lot. I tried to finish off my water bottle before every aid station or finish it as I was coming in to the aid station. Tried to do the same with the electrolyte drink stuff they had as well.

Also felt like I didn’t eat as much as previous races.

Had some Red Bull at an aid station or two. No complaints.

Had some good pizza at the finish line with a sugar free red bull. An acceptable way to end the race.

Had my camp chair at the finish and that was very nice to have available.

Sponge bathed myself at the finish - at least my arms, legs and feet. Then put on some clean dry clothes. Always worth it.

Didn’t hang at aid stations at all. Always left with my water bottles filled. One with water the other with the sports drink stuff.

Ate more fruit on this course than I remember ever eating before.

Fruit is really great for eating right after eating chips or something like it. It “washes” out the crumbs. I really liked it. I hadn’t done this before. And I need to remember to do it again.

There were no gels at the aid stations? Just a big bottle that they would transfer to another container that you would have (if you did). Not a preference of mine to have it this way but I understand the desire to avoid trash and cut down on waste.

I only had maybe 2 gels outside of aid stations for the whole course. I think that last year I was trying to eat some religiously and that was probably 6.

Walk 10 steps and run 10 steps works (this is counting one as every other left footfall). It worked for me as long as I was at the right elevation which is about 8-9,000 feet. About 9500 feet it gets harder depending on how steep the trail is, of course.


I think my foot got caught up on a rock or two but no problems at all - just a very minor stumble.

I fell on my butt twice. Once while going down on the snow. No problems. Another time just going down some loose dirt and small rocks. My hands went back and luckily didn’t hit anything sharp. Very minor problems.

My Hokas (Challenger ATR) are, um, okay, I guess. They are light shoes and light doesn’t really go super well with durable. So while they have been okay shoes I’m worried that the soles are going - they look very torn and chewed up. Will they last me through the next race? I'm not confident. 

Conclusion: Knowing what to expect help me a lot and that alone probably got me plenty of time over last year. Drinking a lot helped, too. Of course training played a big part and I did have more trail miles and vert then I did last year. I'm not committed to returning next year but I'd say chances are better that I might. 

20160706

Speedgoat 50k Prep

Well no current word from the RD if the race course is going to be changed. I'm hoping it doesn't get changed but even if it does it's still going to be torture. 

I've been dedicating some mental energy to this race the last few days trying to figure out how I'm going to do better than last year and each time I go through a whole spectrum of feelings about it entirely. I go from thinking I'm in better shape than last year and that I'll do better to thinking this is the worst race ever and to think I can do any better is stupid. 

Thinking I can't do any better is usually the result of remembering how hard parts of the course were last year. I'll give it my best and I hope I can at least gain a little bit of time over last year. 

So going forward and regardless if at this point I think that I'm going to do poorly, I'm still going into the race with some strategies to improve over last year. In no particular order here they are:

  1. Get to the top of Hidden Peak the first time in about the same time as last year. No logic tells me that going out faster here is going to yield positive results overall.
  2. Go from Hidden Peak the first time to Pacific Mine slightly faster than last year. My hope is that I'm more prepared for technical downhill now more than I was last year. I feel as much. 
  3. Go from Pacific Mine to Mineral Basin faster than last year. I think my biggest failure of last year was not moving faster across this section and doing so this year will help me get done sooner. 
  4. From Mineral Basin to the Tunnel aid station is going to be a gamble for me here. I'd like to clear this distance in one hour if at all possible. 
  5. Go from Tunnel to Hidden Peak as efficiently as I can. There's no doubt that at this elevation and point in the course I'm going to be knackered. All I can plan to do is move and not stop. 
  6. From Hidden Peak to the Finish I just need to focus and move. 
  7. Don't linger at aid stations and drink and eat a lot. 
Well, I sort of don't like that these tips for myself are a little non-specific, but it's what I have right now. I have my splits from last year and I have some target splits for this year.



It really can't be understated how hard this course is. The majority of participants are walking within the first mile. Sure maybe they are saving their legs for later but on average it couldn't be ran in the first place. Then just getting to the very top the first time is just excruciating and even more so for those who came from sea level to run this race. Then after you're trashed going up you go down and down. And then there's a lovely road that can only be described as a rocky river bottom with rocks up on rocks the size of footballs. There is absolutely no smooth shoulder and no easy way down. It's a few miles of ankle busting awesomeness. 

Then you get to the half way aid station. Wow! Half way! Then you look at your watch and double the time and feel pretty good about yourself and you're projected finish time. Then you leave that aid station benefiting from a smooth road and a few calories in your stomach and just about the time you think "this race isn't so bad" the road turns - and doesn't get rocky or technical, it just gets steep. You're forced to walk probably 90% of the time it takes to get to the next aid station because all it does is go up at a very steep grade. Up and up and up. The next aid station is basking in the sun and it is here you think, well, I made it this far and the next section is just up to the top of the tram, so I guess I'll go for it. 

You get back on the trail and again, you're just walking because who can run up 20% grades at 10,000 feet? The trail turns a few times and now you're just confused about where the course is going. You're on the course because you can see the flagging and other runners but you think you should be going a different direction. Then after you burn your legs and lungs some more going straight up a ski slope you get a road for about 100 yards and then the trail gets even worse. It goes straight up an even steeper grade and now your reaching 11,000 feet and you wish you were dead. Well, you look at your watch and think, the finish is now less than 10 miles away. You can do that, you do that distance often you just have to keep going. But why? 

Well, you did it. You got to the Tunnel aid station. and feeling pretty beat up but ready to head down to the finish just as soon as you get to Hidden Peak for the second time. All you have to do is go through the tunnel and do a mile or two. Easy. It can't be that hard. You don't remember the course profile being that bad between these aid stations. Then you go through the tunnel and go down a nice road. Just about the time you are okay the trail turns of the road and you enjoy a decent section of single track before the trail goes up again at another gruelingly steep grade. Your lungs are done. Your legs are done. Your feet can't clear the rocks any more. But I guess maybe it's the delirium setting in or maybe it's the energy from a fellow runner but you try to press on. But you think about the climbing you've done this far and how rough it's been and you don't really want to keep going. 

After a struggle with yourself that, for better or worse, took a while because your mind can't function very quickly. During that time you were able to clear another half mile or so you finally realize that the top is the only good idea. Good? Did you just think that? 

Well after you suffer through the sun exposed ridge and get to the next aid station the only thing keeping you in the race is the knowledge that the course is down to the finish. You are so convinced of this that you don't even need to ask anyone or question anything. It's down all the way to the finish. Only 5 more miles. You can do that in 40 minutes on a good day so how about an hour on a bad day? You leave the aid station and the trail is rocky and it's tricky but you manage. Then the trail takes a turn and starts going up. 

What?! Up? There is no up here. There is only down. What is up doing here? I can't do it. I don't want to do it. But I have to. There's no one else around me right now. I don't even know where else to go but to follow these stupid blue flags. You keep going the trail goes up. You die some more. Your water is almost gone and your last gel is going to kill you it tastes so bad. Finally the trail starts going flat then down again. But your body can't do either. It's done, remember. You push, you dig, you suffer, you count steps, you keep looking at your watch as the minutes tick by very, very slowly.  Finally there's signs of life and an end. It's still farther than you want it to be but you're still upright and moving forward. 

You cross the finish line and vow to never do it again. Then a few months pass and you sing up as soon as the registration opens. 

20160626

Speedgoat 50k 2016



Well, overall I got 7:46:53 according to the watch. That’s an average pace of 14:28 v

Some report:

Done in 7:47 which is amazing. My watch says 7:46 but we’ll just take the ultrasingup at their word. I guess.

So the race starts. I’m still not that certain of how things are going to go. I know I have a plan but I don’t really know if I’m in better shape or what to expect. I sort of thought that thinking that I could do better would be stupid to think. But anyway. Nothing too big transpires on the first part of the race. Getting to the first aid station I’m 3 mins ahead of my time from last year and I remember last year I was at the aid station longer because I had to tie my shoes. Well, I got in and out pretty fast. Got down to the halfway point in decent time. Right now looking back I do think that I might have been able to make it to the halfway point just a little bit faster if I would have tried just a little harder to make it down the river of torture. But still, at half way I was ahead of my estimated time. Now for the uphill. I took the uphill very well. I decided that I was going to run 10 steps and walk 10 steps. That may not seem like much but it was enough to get me ahead of at least 5 other people. It may have been a wash at the end of the day because some of those people passed me again but I still made time on myself compared to last year. About 6 mins faster than last year, which is absolutely awesome. So I get to the Mineral Aid Station the 2nd time and I’m doing and feeling great. I’m well ahead of last year and I’m doing great. Of course to get to the next aid station is a lot of up so I just get out there and do it the best that I can. I was hoping to get some running steps in here but it wasn’t happening. All I could do was just keep moving forward. No problem.

Get up to Mt Baldy in decent time and get down to the tunnel aid in good time. My split last year was 6:06 and this year I got to the same aid station in 5:40 - so i’m 26 mins ahead of my target time and I hadn’t even counted the time from getting lost last year. Hooray for that all the way home.

No problems to really speak of. In hindsight I sort of think I should have just gave a little bit more effort to get down and up parts of the course. But when I’m exceeding expectations in every way it’s hard to say that something different should have been done.

So I’m huffing and puffing up to Hidden Peak for the 2nd time and it’s great. I like the fact that there aren’t a lots of runners around me and that every 20 mins or so I pass someone.

Eventually I get to Hidden Peak the 2nd time and get in and out as quick as I can. Getting to the finish is by no means a picnic with some climbing and some pretty steep downhill to manage. But I do okay. 

Funny thing? I'm rolling up to the finish and couldn't have been more than about 1/3rd of a mile from it. I decide that I'm making good time and I'm thirsty enough that I need a drink. I take out my water bottle and slow down just a little. As I tilt my head back to drink my foot lands on a rock a little sideways and my calve muscle cramps and stops me dead in my tracks. I don't know what to do because I've never had this happen before. I can't move my leg. I try to rub it but that doesn't seem to do anything. Within probably 20 seconds I'm back up and moving to the finish. That was weird.


Notes:

Ate pbnj, a ziplock bag of chips, banana a few gummy bears about 30 mins before the race.

Did poop before it started - always a good sign.

Felt like I drank a lot. I tried to finish off my water bottle before every aid station or finish it as I was coming in to the aid station. Tried to do the same with the electrolyte drink stuff they had as well.

Also felt like I didn’t eat as much as previous races.

Had some red bull at an aid station or two. No complaints.

Had some good pizza at the finish line with a sugar free red bull.

Had my camp chair at the finish and that was very nice to have available.

Sponge bathed myself - at least my arms, legs and feet. Then put on some clean dry clothes. Always worth it.

Didn’t hang at aid stations at all. Always left with my water bottles filled. One with water the other with the sports drink stuff.

Ate more fruit on this course than I remember ever eating before.

Fruit is really great for eating right after eating chips or something like it. It “washes” out the crumbs. I really liked it. I hadn’t done this before. And I need to remember to do it again.

There were no gels at the aid stations? Just a big bottle that they would transfer to another container that you would have (if you did). Not a preference of mine to have it this way but I understand the desire to avoid trash and cut down on waste.

I only had maybe 2 gels outside of aid stations for the whole course. I think that last year I was trying to eat some religiously and that was probably 6.

Walk 10 steps and run 10 steps works (this is counting one as every other left footfall). It worked for me as long as I was at the right elevation which is about 8-9,000 feet. About 9500 feet it gets harder depending on how steep the trail is, of course.


I think my foot got caught up on a rock or two but no problems at all - just a very minor stumble.

I fell on my butt twice. Once while going down on the snow. No problems. Another time just going down some loose dirt and small rocks. My hands went back and luckily didn’t hit anything sharp. Very minor problems.

My Hokas (Challenger ATR) are, um, okay, I guess. They are light shoes and light doesn’t really go super well with durable. So while they have been okay shoes I’m worried that the soles are going - they look very torn and chewed up. Will they last me through the next race? I'm not confident. 

Conclusion: Knowing what to expect help me a lot and that alone probably got me plenty of time over last year. Drinking a lot helped, too. Of course training played a big part and I did have more trail miles and vert then I did last year. I'm not committed to returning next year but I'd say chances are better that I might. 

Mt. Ogden - 25 June 2016

I have not been getting enough vertical in my training for Speedgoat. So, I had to make an effort to get at least some elevation gain this week. Hey, I live it a city that is flat and the nearest mountains are not so close that I can get to them, run 5 miles and get back in under 2 hours. Anyway, enough with the excuses.

Mt. Ogden became my desired run. One other thing I need to do is to get more familiar with the trails in my area. There are a lot. And I have not done a lot of them.

Mt. Ogden because I thought it was going to be pretty runnable and it could help me get up to the elevations that I need to be at for Speedgoat (although just barely).

Got up and made it to the trail head with no issues. But there is more than one trail that intersect at the beginning so I was guessing a little at first. I made one bad turn that was about a 20 second mistake. Not quite as bad as Jim Wamsley at Western States this year at least.

Well, the route was runnable except for the overgrowth. The canyon that the trail starts in was very lush and green and the trail was overgrown by many plants. So this made it difficult to see my feet and where they were falling. Sometimes there would be large rocks and roots that would not be seen. Luckily I didn't have any major slips, trips or falls. However, I was slowed down a little bit by it all.

Eventually the trail leaves the canyon and for maybe 2 miles the trail is clear and some time can be made up. After this though, the trail just goes back to being overgrown and rocky - but this time with more stiff bushes and branches that scratch. It's really not that big of a deal, just more of an annoyance.

After a steady and consistent climb the trees and the bushes dissipate and it turns in to just a rocky trail on the side of the mountain. For me at this point I was just glad to be moving forward. I had really forgotten about my average pace and just wanted to get to the top.

The best part came up about here when the trail was not too steep and I was able to just put my head down and move up the trail at a nice consistent pace without obstacles like large plants and rocks. The trail even goes down a little bit and that was great to get a few feet to make up on my time.

Finally the trail comes to the ridge and the top is about 1/4 mile away. But it is also probably at 9300 feet or so in elevation and much more steep than the last mile on the trail. I was hoping to be able to run the rest of it but it was not to be. I had to just power hike and keep going as I could.

Luckily I did make it it good time. About 1hr 45mins to the top from the Beus parking lot.

At the top I enjoyed some great views and a cold breeze. My hands got cold and I had to get home to do stuff. So snapped a few pics and got out. My hands hurt until I got lower and the air warmed.

Just over 11 miles and 4500 feet of gain. Aside from the overgrown trail, no other complaints for this guy.



20160606

Hooray, More Races!

Well, I finally got the courage to sign up for a few more races. Not sure yet how I'm going to tackle them but I'll figure that out later.

First I've wanted to do more 50 mile or more races because I feel that I've had enough 50k races for now and I need to get ready for the 100 miler in 2017.

So, I've signed up for the Kat'cina Mosa 100k (ultrasingup.com link). It looks like it will be plenty challenging and lots of fun at the same time.

Also, I've decided to go for the Huntsville Marathon. It's two weeks before the St George Marathon so I'm either going to take it a few different ways. I could use it as a training run and just get out there and not worry about time and save my strength and energy for STG. Or I could, if I feel alright, just go for it and try to PR at Huntsville. If I do PR Huntsville then I can either try to go for an even better time at STG or just use STG as a sort of victory lap and just slow down and make some friends. That latter part doesn't really sound like me.

I have a feeling it's going to be hard to go into any of these races without trying to PR them. At any race I'm very excited to have a few more races on my calendar.

20160530

Next Up?

Well, I'm going back to Speedgoat in July. The race this year is a few weeks earlier than last year. I haven't read why but I don't think there's going to be a problem. I guess there might be some more snow than usual but who knows if that will affect the course at all.

Last year's Speedgoat 50k beat me up pretty good. It was the first race where right in the middle I was thinking "what would happen if I just stopped right now and called it quits?" Well, I didn't call it quits and I did pretty good overall for myself. I do remember getting to the highest point in the race and not even thinking about pace anymore. In fact, I was quite tired, upset and just wanted to be done. I had some guy take a picture of me at the top and I don't know if it was him or someone else who was sort of prodding me to not stop or slow down (even for the picture) and keep going and in my head I was just thinking "shut up." Here's a picture of that point. Not a lot of joy on my face.


Here's a video that was on the way up to Mt Baldy(?) at 11,000+ feet.



But of course I have no intent of letting the race get the best of me and I felt like I have had a score to settle with the race if only to improve on my time a little.

So that's coming up soon and then I don't have another race until the St George Marathon on 1 October.

I've been looking for another race and don't know what I want to do. Part of me wants to get a half marathon in to try and beat my PR of 1:25 and part of me just wants to get in a few full marathons in just to get in the mindset and really get ready for STG. Then another part of me just wants to get out on a trail race because I love the mountains and the trees and the dirt.

So will it be the Huntsville Marathon? Right now it's 2 weeks before SGT and I think its a decent price and a good choice. Other than that there's a few other races that are really tempting. Kat'cina Mosa 100k? Or the Morgan Valley Marathon?

Going to admit that no one is really reading this but on the off chance someone out there actually has an opinion on what race I should or should not run, let me know! 

20160411

The Zion 100k Ultramarathon 8 April 2016

Drove down. Got the bib and shirt and things. Got the things ready. Slept. Got up. Bathroom. Got ready. Had a peanut butter and jelly sammich, a banana and some gummy bears. Race started. 



This is where the adventure begins. But first, let’s go back. This was my first 100k and my training could have been a little bit better and mentally I think that I wasn’t in the most ideal place to take on this race. But I was still going to run it and I was still going to do the best that I could. I was very afraid of going out too fast and then not having enough left over for the rest of the race. So the whole race I was just concerned with not pushing too hard. I didn’t.

The race starts going out and pretty much instantly climbs up to the Flying Monkey aid station. With well over 250 runners going up the single track trail it’s not easy to pass. Since I wasn’t going out too fast, I just stayed around where I was and I didn’t try passing the 100 mile runners or worrying too much about it. So that climb was a fair amount of walking but no problem. Eventually we got up to the aid station and then the running could really continue and the crowd thinned out a bit. I was fine with where I was and just kept going. The scenery was beautiful and the 4x4r trail was plenty of fun and nothing too difficult to manage.

Came up to the Flying Monkey aid station again and made sure I stuffed down a few calories. A handful of M&Ms did it for me. The descent from the aid station was surprisingly a little harder to run than I was hoping because of the steep and rocks but once the trail got a little smoother I was able to pick up a few miles going faster.

Eventually the trail made it’s way to the Dalton Wash aid station where I got some more food, water, and all that. I left the aid station and continued up the hill to go up and over to the actual Dalton Wash road that goes up to the next aid station. The road was smooth and very runnable and I was able to keep a decent pace. Eventually I thought about the hill and how it was probably the last really runnable climb of the race. The next climb after this one I knew it wasn’t going to be runnable so I decided that I would try to get up this hill a little faster rather than just walking up it. So I did a little bit more running than walking until I got to the top.

Next aid station: Guacamole. Got some food and didn’t hang out too long. As the trail continued it turned to being a 50/50 mix of sandstone and dirt. But the trail was in a constant state of flux between the two. Sometimes it would be rock and runnable then it would turn to a short sharp drop off or a steep short climb. Both of which needed a change of pace to transfer. So it’s not always the easiest to keep a fast pace. But I was able to keep my desired pace of 11min average for a few of those miles. No problems. Got back to Guacamole aid station and continued on making sure I was eating and drinking enough.

Got back on to the road that goes down and back to the Dalton Wash aid station. Be careful what you wish for. I sort of wanted to be running fast when I was on the Guacamole trail but then when I was on the road it was a boring death march of just a boring dirt road. Well, at least it was going down and at least I was going a little faster and at least I was getting my overall average pace down a little bit, too. So it wasn’t all bad. At this point I was feeling okay. My plan all along was to change my shoes at the next aid station and I was looking forward to it. The shoes I had had on thus far weren’t my favorites, but as it has turned out have performed well enough for the job. There was a decent climb up to go up and over back to the aid station and it felt good to my legs and lungs to get that change in.

I got to the aid station and changed my sock and shoes and at some food then kept going as well as I could. It got a little cloudy but the temperatures were nice and there were no problems. I just kept going as well as I could to get up to the bottom of the next climb. I made it up the next climb by mostly walking as it was at least a 30% grade, if not more in some spots. The next aid station, Goosebump, was welcome and I don’t remember spending a lot of time there but I do remember not wanting to eat anything but pretty much forcing myself to eat some food. I really didn’t want to. So I just took some bacon and some other stuff. I remember leaving the aid station with 2 oreo cookies and I carried them for a few miles. I knew I had to eat it but I really didn’t want to eat it. I think I ate some and eventually just chucked the rest of it.

The trail up on this mesa wasn’t too different from that of the Guacamole trail. Lots of transitioning from rock to dirt and back. Up and down left and right and just a constant roller coaster for the majority of the time. There’s no real chance to just turn off and tune out and just go forward because you gotta stay on the trail and that requires the metal work of noticing the trail makers and not getting carried off in a direction that “feels” like it’s the course. I got turned around once or twice but no big mistakes that set me back any significant amount of time.

By this time, my poor old watch just didn’t have the juice it once did so it was beeping at me that the battery was dying and I was annoyed with it anyway and didn’t want to look at it because I was either going to get depressed or upset at what it was telling me. (I was running as much as I could so screw my friggin’ watch and its “data”) So it eventually just died and I had a useless electronic strapped to my wrist. No idea and no clue what my pace was or if I was doing okay or not.

A mixed bag of emotions with not having a source of objective information about where I was and how I was doing. I was now, mentally, just wanted the race to be over and wasn’t concerned with advancing or seeing any real benefit to pushing really hard. But then since I didn’t have any information about where I was it was hard to gauge how far it was going to be to the next aid station or the finish. So I did the only thing I really could do, just move forward. From Goosebump the second time to the next aid station I did the best I could but I wasn’t really feeling very energetic and didn’t have much motivation but to just run the flat and downhill parts and walk the uphill. I did what I could. Eventually I caught up to a female runner who wasn’t feeling great. We chatted a little and eventually had to pass her.



Virgin Desert aid station was next and it was welcome. I didn’t spend a lot of time there but did get some gummy bears and some water and I felt alright. A nice guy from Vancouver asked me if I’d like to run to the finish together and help each other out. I couldn’t argue with that. So we set off. I was feeling pretty hammered but not totally destroyed. I had to walk the uphills but was still moving forward alright I thought. This kind of worried me as I was thinking that I maybe I should feel a little bit more tired in my legs than I was feeling. Eventually our partnership ended - I had to keep moving and my buddy was needing to walk too much. It’s not like I was going that much faster but I was not really willing to walk. Ended up only about 2 minutes ahead of him.

The rain started and then the ground really got muddy but luckily this was only about a half mile from the end of the race. Reaching the end was glorious and was very happy to have it over and to make it the whole way.

Getting back to “normal” took a while. I didn’t have much of an appetite and I didn’t really want to move. We got to the hotel and I bathed and got cleaned up but then just laid in bed. My legs were on the verge of cramping and I did what I could to just relax. The next day my body was still very tired and fatigued, but I could walk and it really wasn’t that bad. However, I just didn’t feel like my body was all the way back to normal operations. Anyway. A few good nights sleep has remedied that and I’m feeling fine now. Let’s do it again!

Finishing my first 100k was awesome. It’s always hard to look back and wonder what could have had happened if something had changed. Should I have bought that expensive watch that could have lasted the whole race? Should I have pushed harder up the hills? Should I have started out just a little bit faster? Should I have found someone who was going a lot faster and just stuck with them? Should I have spent less time at the aid stations? Should I even be that concerned with finishing faster at all?

However, the bottom line is this: I love running, and trail running especially. Being out there during the race is really one of the funnest things I can imagine. The experience itself is incredible regardless what the data says at the end of the day. Just like days in life, some are better than others. I think this race was a great day even if I think I might have been able to finish a little faster.

20160325

2 Weeks Notice

I'm running the Zion 100k Ultra Marathon put on by Ultra Adventures in 2 weeks from today. So, if everything goes according to plan, I'll be in Southern Utah with nothing to do but move forward for about 11 hours.

So far training has been going well. I got in one training run over 30 miles and a few over 20 miles. And one good weekend of back-to-back long runs. So while if I had more time and energy to dedicate to just training for this race things might be going slightly differently, given the circumstances however, things are going fine. No injuries and some good quality running have been happening so I don't expect anything very bad to happen on race day.

This morning out on a favorite stretch of road.


Current plan is to take the next two weeks to keep some good base mileage in but not to do anything very strenuous. Tomorrow (Saturday) I might go out and get about 20 miles in but I don't expect to be doing race pace or anything.

Also I need to eat less food and that is one of the things that I want to do is to lose a little bit of weight before race day. The thought of having a few less pounds of mass to carry with me through the race makes me think that this is one way that I can increase my efficiency. Less mass means less energy to move it, right?

As for plans for performance on race day? Bottom line: finish in less than 11 hours. I've looked at the results from the previous years and (this year's course has changed a little as the start line has moved a little but results I don't think are going to be affected very much) I would really like to be in the top 10. Personally this is where things get me nervous and excited in a good way.

A few weeks a go I was sitting at work and was going over the race and thinking about things like shoes and drop bags and pacers and nutrition and in that moment I had to take a step back and realize how I felt as I was planning for race day. I love race day. I have been extremely lucky and blessed to be able to run so many races. Right there in my stupid windowless office I was just struck with the realization of how much I not just like to run, but how much I love race day.

20160316

Saucony Guide 8 Running Shoe Review


It should come as no surprise that I got these shoes for a deal! Somewhere in the $40 range and they retail for more than $100.

At first I had mixed feelings about the shoe. It first felt very stiff and I wasn't sure it was that great of a shoe. But I guess either the shoe is breaking or I'm breaking because now they feel more normal and I am able to run in them and not think much about it.

Soon after getting these shoes I felt like there was some kind of injury coming on in my left foot. I wanted to blame these shoes but knew that I didn't have enough information to really consider these the culprits.

So after more than 100 miles in these shoes I have to say that they are alright. The fit is true to size and the construction feels nice. Once broken in, the shoes feel as I would expect a decent pair of running shoes to feel. While I'm not sure I'll be taking these on a race anytime soon, they certainly help me get in some decent mid-week mileage. Recommended.

20160314

Mizuno Wave Kazan Trail Running Shoe Reivew

I got these shoes for a whopping $40 - deals are my kind of thing. They retail for $120.

They are sold as a trail running shoe. But for me and my part, they are not good trail running shoes. The only instance that I can think of where these would be good on the trials is where the surface is not more than flat grass or hard dirt. Throw any rocks or roots in to the mix and what you have is a not fun shoe.

So I took them out on the road this morning and they were just fine. I don't have a big problem with the shoes on anything except technical terrain. They are light and do feel like they are well built. But on the few trails that I have taken them on any rocks are very noticeable as there does not seem to be any sort of method to stiffen the sole.

So that's the bottom line.  I still expect them to last a while and be a decent shoe. Good construction and all that, but I did buy them to race in and I can't think of one race where I would want every rock translated through to my foot.

Notice the unique star pattern on the sole.

20160311

Weekly Mileage

I'm increasing my weekly mileage in preparation for the Ultra Adventures Zion 100k Race. This week so far I've got 50 miles. What's funny is that this number isn't a high one for some people. But for other people this number is crazy. So, while I'm not even done with the week of running yet I've already run more than most do in a single week.

I plan on running 20+ tomorrow. I might get in 40k but I'm planning on about 35k.

At this point the most important thing for me to do is to get more time on my feet. Distance doesn't matter and speed doesn't really matter. Sure, I do get some speed work in and I do get some vertical in, but getting in the time is the number one priority.

I have a very lay study on the subject but tend to think that this is why some people don't get what they would like to get out of running. If some would just slow down and get out for longer periods of time, they would see many benefits. Cardiovascular benefits, mental benefits, and skeletal benefits can all result from just getting out and doing the time.

20160228

Hoka One One Challenge ATR Review


After a few runs on the treadmill with these, I finally got these puppies out on the trail. Did about 10 miles of relatively flat trail at a relatively easy pace.

My current assessment is that these are pretty good shoes. And seeing as how I got them for less than 50 bucks when they retail for over $130, it's hard for me to really complain.

My previous pair of trail running shoes have been worn out and getting these things is like going from broken struts on a cheap old car to a new Rolls Royce.

These shoes have much more cushioning than shoes normally have so they soak up bumps like nothing and even after several miles they don't feel like the ground is connected to the skin of your feet.

While the color isn't my first choice, the other more objective things about the shoe make it worth it. They weigh very little even with the extra cushioning and the materials are top notch.