Wednesday, June 25, 2008

WS 2008: RIP...

Added June 26, 8:00 p.m. If you're out there reading this, are within a short drive of Sisters or Central Oregon in general, and you want to join the fun, please join us! Call me tonight and I can give you all the info. We'll probably leave around 8 a.m. on Friday morning.
(541) 549-1298

Yep, as ya'll know, it's cancelled. That's the way it goes. When Tom e-mailed me a link last weekend about the new fires near Foresthill, I knew this was a possibility. Then all hell broke loose the last few days, and due to safety reasons, WS 2008 is not going to happen.

Yep, I'm bummed. I feel sooooooo ready...I'm about to pop! I would hate to be the r.d. or on the board right now. I know there will be a few people who won't be so understanding about the decision. And really, there wasn't even a decision to be made. The lightning and fires made the decision for us. I mean really, when the Forest Service says that there is a very high probability of Dusty Corners being engulfed in flames by the weekend, the choice has already been made.

So, now, what to do???? We're all fit, rested, packed, and ready to rip. Hmmm... Drive to Tahoe and run on the TRT with Thomas? No, air quality sucks. Drive to the Tetons for a weekend of sweet running in my favorite mountains? No, too much snow. Drive to the Sawtooths for a weekend of sweet running in those awesome, and little used, mountains? Tempting. Stick around Oregon and put together an impromptu training camp? Ding, ding - we have a winner!

Prudence, Darla, Chris, and I had a powwow at Fleet Feet tonight and came up with a plan.
-Thursday, Prudence, Kami, and I are running 38 miles upto, around, and down from Newberry Crater / Paulina Lake. Bronco and I ran this in 2004 and it is awesome!
-Friday, Prudence, Kami, Chris, Darla, and I will run the sweetest loop in Central Oregon - the 27 mile Ochoco Marathon. Similar to what Sascha and I ran 7 weeks ago, but we will get to do the whole loop this time. This would be a sweet 100 miler: 4 loops, each with about 8,000' of up and down. It would cripple you.
-Saturday and Sunday, Prudence, Darla, Chris, and I will be playing in the Strawberry Mountains Wilderness Area for the weekend. The high point, Strawberry Mountain, is about 9,000', but it looks like it already clear of snow. This will be a sweet place to play for two days!

Sounds like a pretty fun weekend to me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bighorn and Western

First, a HUGE congratulations to my good buddies Bronco and Rooster for ripping it up at the Bighorn 100 miler and continuing Team Oregon's assault on the ultrarunning scene this year.

Bronco duked it out with Justin, Ty, and a couple of Bozemanites (Jesse and Erich). They were all pretty close through 42, and that's when Jeff decided to make his move. Apparently it was the right move, as he ran fast (and scared!) the rest of the way. He cruised through 50 in 9:15, then ran an incredible 9:41 second 50, to claim the victory in 18:56. This completes Jeff's hat trick, as he also won in 2005 and 2006. Justin and Ty also smoked the Bighorns, both finishing strong in 19:26 and 19:54, respectively. No runner had ever broken 20 at Bighorn, and now 3 did this year. Yes, it was a different course due to lots of snow up high, but these guys ran hard and fast. Attaboys all around!

I don't know Rooster's story, other than she won by an hour with a strong 25:10. Rounding out the girl's podium was another of Team Oregon's sweethearts - Olga! Great job Olga with your 26:50 (only about 3 1/2 hours faster than last year - can you believe that!?).

In the always exciting j.v. race (50 miler), another good buddy Matt Hart (my TransRockies teammate) claimed the W. For 2 years now, Hart has signed up for the 100 at Bighorn, and both years he has injured himself while training, but still makes the trip out and runs one of the other distances. Last year he won the freshman race (50 km). After a last-minute Colonel's training camp last week, Hart whipped himself into shape and was able to run in the lead from start to finish, winning in a speedy 8:11. Also running in the j.v. race was ultrarunning's fastest professional bowhunter, Cameron Hanes (another one of Team Oregon's finest). Cam and Matt duked it out last year in the 50 km, with Cam getting 2nd. This year, like Hart, Cam had signed up for the varsity race, but he decided to go for the 50 miler. He snuck in under the 9 hour mark in 8:59, claiming the final podium spot - and 1st place old guy (Crap, he's 40!?). Great race, my friends.

Full Bighorn results.

Tonight at Fleet Feet, we hosted our second Ultradork Night. This was Rod's idea to help get all of us WS-bound Central Oregonians excited for the big race. A week and a half ago, we watched the 1989 Western States video - the year that Ann's legacy started. Tonight, it was Western States 1988 and Brian Purcell's c.r. 16:24. Awesome videos, cheesy commercials, gutsy running, lots of cotton, no trail shoes, and shorty-short shorts!

As I'm well into taper-mode, I'm definitely feeling fit, rested, and very anxious (although I'm still eating lots, so I'm probably getting fat!). Since my 5-week, 625 mile training block, my weekly mileages have been 50, 98, and 52. The 98 had a good trail 1/2 marathon, my last good, hard 30 miler at Smith, plus two days off (that was Hart's unplanned boot camp week). Race week, I usually run Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but I'm seriously leaning toward taking Tuesday off, too, so I can get in 2, back-to-back rest days. I mean really, what good is running tomorrow really going to do for me anyway?

I'm super excited for all of the other Central Oregonians running Western. Karen and Jon Gnass will be starting their Grand Slam summer; Kami will be looking for a podium finish; Prudence will be chomping at Kami's heels; and Jenn will be out there to run fast and have fun (yes, Jenn moved to Ashland a couple weeks ago, but the entrant's list says she's from Bend, so we'll claim her!).

I leave Wednesday after work. I'm excited!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Kickin' it at Kettle!

My good friends, frequent Sascha watchers, and Bendites Darla Brader and Chris Askew ran their first 100 miler yesterday in Wisconsin, the Kettle Moraine 100. After an incredible spring of hard, smart training, I knew they were fit, fast, and ready to rip it up. But, it is 100 miles, and anything can happen.

They played it smart all day long, not running too hard too soon. As the day wore on and eventually turned to night, our heroes just kept passing people and moving up in the field. We, their anxious fans, were getting updates from the webcast and their crew.

Darla did have a dark moment around the 100 km mark and contemplated dropping. But she decided to go on 7 miles to the next aid station and see if things would turn around. By 69 miles, she was pepping up again.

I went to bed last night and could hardly sleep...I was so excited to hear how they were doing. Then, finally, at about 2:20 a.m., the phone rang. By the time I woke up and realized it was ringing, it had stopped. Crap! Was it Tate calling to give me an update...was it Darla and Chris calling to say they had finished...was it their crew calling to give other news??? I didn't know, but wanted to, and could hardly get back to sleep.

Finally when I woke up I checked the webcast. This is what it showed:

Joel Eckberg 31 M 18:10:07 10:54
Mark Tanaka 41 M 20:39:37 12:24
Rick Gaston 36 M 20:40:38 12:24
Darla Brader 35 F 22:04:50 13:15
Chris Askew 37 M 22:04:50 13:15
(full results)

Yes, they kicked ass! Tied for 4th and Darla was first girl!! I was so excited when I saw it, I had to call them immediately. A quick run-down said what I thought: Darla pulled out of her funk and the two of them just kicked it in to the finish. Then, as is common at 100 mile finishes, within 2 minutes of finishing, they both completely seized up.

Chris and Darla...I am so PROUD! Congratulations! We can hardly wait to hear the blow-by-blow story.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

One Thousand and Five Kilometers

When I ran Western 3 years ago, I decided to train big in May and run 500 miles. So I did. I was super-fit and felt great. I had a crappy WS. Oh well, that's life.

This year, after my earlier season faster training stuff for Boston, I definitely felt quicker than normal, but didn't have the quality trail miles needed for Western. So I once again thought about running 500 miles in May. Then I looked at a calendar and thought, hm, April 27 - May 31, 5 weeks, 35 days...why not just up 2005 a bit and go for 600 miles in 5 weeks? Sounded good to me. So exactly 6 days after Boston, my WS training began.

April 27 - May 2
That first week culminated with Miwok. I ran 88 miles from Sun - Thurs, took Friday off, then had a respectable Miwok. Total miles: 150. More than on-track.

May 3 - May 9
Although I had just taken Friday off, I had just run 62 miles the day before, and was making the long drive home from the Bay, so I took Sunday off. This was also the week that Sascha and I enjoyed our Ochoco Adventure. I ran decent on tired legs that week, coming in at 99 miles. I just couldn't bring it the last day for one more mile to hit 100.

May 10 - 17
I planned on racing Silver State 50 miler on the 17th, and like Miwok, wanted to go into it on tired legs with no taper. For the 3rd Tuesday in a row, dawn-patrol and Smith with Chris, Bronco, and Krissy was a fun, tough, 3-hour jaunt. I also threw in a solid 1:54 tempo on the river trail. I headed to Reno on Friday and decided to take that day off since I had 178 miles logged for the previous 11 days (79 that week leading into the race). SS turned out to be exactly what I wanted: hot, tough, hot, rugged, hot, hilly, and hot. I ran with Mike Wolfe the first couple of miles, traded places with Erik Skaden through mile 15, then alone the last 35. Although I'm not an expert, I really noticed my downhilling was pretty darn good there, thanks in large part to running at Smith. The 6 mile, 3,600' climb hit me hard, taking 1:40 and running out of water with 2 miles to go. But I rebounded back, and finished happily (and very tired) in 8:23 for 3rd. Another solid run. Weekly miles: 130. Three week mileage: 379.

May 18 - 24
Sascha was going crazy on Sunday, the day after SS, so she definitely needed some trail time. We ran up Black Butte, but on the way down, unbeknownst to me, she decided to stay on top. I found this out at the car, so I refilled my bottle and headed back up. About half way, I saw her heading down. That easy recovery day turned in about 650' more vertical than planned. A couple more easy days, and even a bail on dawn patrol at Smith (my calf had a nice knot in it from SS), then I was feeling good again. I ran a short tempo on Wed night, then the river trail 17 again on Thurs. This time, a new Fleet Feet record: 1:53:09 (yes, it has since been broken). Then Saturday, I went big. 38 miles with 9,000' vertical at Smith. I used Vespa for the first time, and was definitely skeptical. But after one of my best long, hard training runs in a long time, I was intrigued. I felt great - especially for only one week post-SS. I think I'm getting fit. Weekly miles: 115. Four week mileage: 494.

May 25 - 31
Okay, now you're probably saying "Sheesh, he only has to run 106 miles that last week...piece o' cake." Me too. Soooooo, I decided to up the ante. Let's see, 600 miles, that's pretty close to 1000 km, which is 622 miles. Okay, new goal: 1000 km for the 5 weeks. So that meant 128 miles the last week.

After my 38 at Smith on Saturday that ended the previous week, I wanted a faster, flatter 20 on Sunday. So I did just that with Chris and Darla. They're about to run their first 100, Kettle Moraine, on June 7, and they are definitely not slow right now. After a mellow warm-up, Chris dusted Darla and me, then Darla started putting the hurt on me, too (and we all thought she was so sweet and innocent). A good, fastish 20 - perfect. In anticipation on 2 more biggies on Tues and Wed, I took Monday off. Tuesday was a recon run at Pine Mountain. I had a blast exploring Pine and ended with 26 rainy miles for the day, with 3 good tempo miles at the end. (I was so impressed with Pine Mountain that I am now filling out an application for the first annual Pine Mtn. Hill Climb 11ish miler, hopefully set for this Sept. - stay tuned!) Wedneday was a big day around Sisters; the full 60 km Rumble course plus some bonus miles for 44. Luckily Fatboy joined me for the first 27, and Sascha ran the last 17 with me. It was a good run, and it left me with 128 miles in the previous 5 days (4 days running, 1 day off). I was tired and hungry.

Thursday I ran around Kiwa Butte with Rod for a little recon for Fleet Feet's next Trail Bandit Series Run. After a painstakingly slow 9 miles of snow slogging, I pepped up on the nice gravel road and we ran 5:30 for the last 2 miles. Sweet! Friday was a nice cruiser run to get me ready for the final day of my 5 weeks. I had planned on the River Trail 17 miler until Bronco called me on Friday night with a proposition of a Smith night run on Saturday. Ooooo, sounds good to me. So Sascha and I just ran an easy 5 in the morning, then headed out to the farm that night for a good run with Jeff and Mabelle. We started out easy, then cruised up Grey Butte at a good pace. That was my first time up there at night and it was beautiful! A couple hours and 3,500' vertical later, we were done with an awesome run. And so was I. Total weekly mileage: 131.

35 days
31 days of running
4 days off
Total distance: 625 miles (1005 km)

This was definitely a very good 5 week training period for me. I'm feeling fit, tired, and very hungry. And maybe most important, not injured. This week will be a nice rest week, 3 days off, and 3 days of shorter, faster stuff. This Sunday is the Dirty Half, always a fun, fastish trail 1/2 marathon. Next week will be one more longish week (100 - 110ish), which will include another 38 miler with 9,000' vertical at Smith, plus some other faster stuff.

Man, I hope this all gets me ready for June 28.