Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Sascha and I would like to wish all of sascharuns' readers a very Merry Christmas! May you all enjoy the peace and happiness that makes this wonderful season so special!
To all dogs out there, from Sascha "bark, bark, woof, bark, woof, woof, hooowwwwl, pant, howl, woofity, woof, woof, BARK!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

End of 2009 and Looking ahead to 2010

I've put off writing about my race at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler in the Headlands. For most of my ultra history, I tend to pick a big race at the end of the year to really focus on and peak for. The past couple years, I've done it at JFK in '07 (plus Hellgate that year, too), and CIM in '08, all with good results. This year, I planned to kick butt in the Headlands. In short, I was in very good shape, I had big expectations, some good speed in my legs, and I was very rested, fresh, and anxious to race...and I cracked!

Basically I ran very easy with Caitlin and Joelle to Pan Toll at mile 18. My plan was to refuel there then really start racing. But when I went to get my drop bag, it wasn't there. A couple volunteers, Meghan, and I looked around for a few minutes...nothing. So instead of just sucking it up, grabbing some Accel gel at the aid station, and rolling with it like a veteran ultrarunner of 108 ultras would do, I decided to pout, be cranky, and continue running with just my one remaining gel. Oops.

The rest of the race was spent alternating between feeling great for about 15 minutes out of each a.s. after chugging a couple cups of Coke, followed by big bonks...a 32 mile long roller coaster ride. It was also a very lonely final 20 miles. After AJW flew by me on the descent out of Pan Toll 2 at mile 30 ("my breaks aren't working" he hollered as he flew by), I didn't see a single 50 miler the rest of the race (I did, however see some 50 k'ers). I eventually jogged across the finish line in 8:25:26, a lot slower than I had hoped. I have good days and I have bad days. That's the way it goes.

Precisely 1 second after I finished, my yearly running sabbatical commenced. When I take a break from running, I really take a break from running. As in, no running. I've been running ultras for 8 1/2 years and I didn't take a break after only one of those seasons. As a result, I was very sluggish early the next year. I really do look forward to this break. Up to a point, it lets me evaluate my year and put together a tentative schedule for the coming year, but more importantly, it just lets me clear my mind and body of running and racing. It's a much needed rest!

In thinking ahead about my 2010 running and racing ideas, I'm going to ease off from ultras a bit. A big ultramarathoning goal of mine was to finish 100 ultras, which I did at Run to the Sun in March. Now with 108 finishes (115 starts), I'm anxious to get back to some shorter stuff. When I lived in the Tetons and Steamboat, I ran a lot of mountain races and I loved it! I'm going to do more of those next year. A few classics I'm definitely planning on are Race to Robie Creek, Mt. Ashland Hill Climb or Steens Rim Run 10 km, and Pikes Peak Marathon.

I also want to set more p.r.s in road races - 10 km, currently 33:44, would like low-33; 1/2 marathon, currently 1:15:57, would like low-1:14; and marathon, currently 2:39:06, would like 2:35, sub-6 pace (possibly Eugene). Suggestions on races??

Although I'm cutting back on my ultras, I'm not cutting them out. In January, I get to play in the Texas hills at the Bandera 50 km, and in February, I'm headed to the San Juan Islands for a weekend of ultrarunning camp at the Orcas Island 50 km. I'm signed up for the Desert RATS stage race in June. This is a 6-day stage race covering the 148 mile Kokopelli Trail from Grand Junction, CO to Moab, UT. In October, I get to go to Chile for the Ultramaraton de los Andes 80 km. That's gonna be awesome!

Of course, I'll be r.d.'ing the 8th annual Peterson Ridge Rumble 30k/60k on April 11. Because I live in such a cool town with such a cool trail committee, the course will once again be slightly different, replacing some old double track with sweet, new singletrack.

I'm hoping to run a couple of the cool runs that the new race organization, Run Wild, is holding in the woods outside of Salem. If I break out the snowshoes a few times in the next month, I may even run a snowshoe race (another type of race I loved doing in CO and WY). In the summer, I'm planning to run a few races in the Oregon MUT Series, too.

If I'm really lucky, I'll get to pace my good friends Jamie and Kilian again, as they each have some pretty lofty goals set for themselves in 2010.

I'm also excited that Sisters Little Ultra Team has doubled in size. Fatboy and I will be joined by new Sisters residents, and my very good friends, Ashley and Josh.

Sascha. She's the one I'm really looking forward to hitting the trails with in 2010!

Monday, December 7, 2009


On both my drive down to and home from the Headlands over the weekend, I heard a lot on the radio about Tiger Woods. Tiger, blah, golf club, blah, SUV, blah, fire hydrant, blah, mistresses, blah, upset wife, blah, Nike, blah, $130 million, bl...what? One hundred and thirty million what? Dollars? As in $130,000,000!? Being a math / numbers guy, that very quickly caught my attention. Apparently, that's how much money Tiger made last year - $20 million in golf winnings and $110 million in endorsements.

Since I'm geeky and I enjoy doing math in my head when I'm bored, I kinda enjoyed all of the free time for some simple math.

I started by cutting out zeroes. Let's cut out 3 zeroes, down to $130,000. For most normal people, that's an extremely healthy salary. It's also one-tenth of one percent of Tiger's salary. One-tenth of one percent!

Let's break it down further. $130,000,000, 365 days per year...quick math says he made $356,164 per DAY, each and every day last year.

Hourly rate, you say? A cool $14,840, each and every hour of each and every day. Sleeping, awake, golfing, eating, watching football, having affairs, whatever. Makes your attorney's hourly rate not seem so bad, afterall!

Yep, I even did his per-minute rate: $247. Hm, this has taken me about 10 minutes to write. Tiger made $2473 in that same time.

Pretty disgusting.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Late Season Running

My running buddy and me after a frosty morning run.

About this time of year, my running starts to wind down. I figure I've put in lots and lots and lots of miles, so my body looks forward to some much needed rest. Looking back at my running and racing year, as usual, I ran A LOT this year all the way through September, especially April through September. I don't log my mileage, as I tend to get too competitive with myself, but I always have a rough idea and I figure that by the end of September, I easily had over 3,000 miles in the legs for the year.

Through June, I had run 9 ultras, 2 marathons, 4 short races (short = anything shorter than a marathon), and lots of cool, long adventure runs (R2R2R being the coolest and longest); in other words, lots of miles. In July, I only ran one 10k; in August I started 2 ultras, finishing one, and raced Hood to Coast (super fun race!); on the first weekend of September, I ran an ultra. Now here it is, three months later, and I haven't run an ultra since. Although that's pretty much a lifetime for me, I did it on purpose and I've enjoyed it.

After a week of playing in the Tetons in Sept., including running the Grand Teton 50 miler, I decided my body was tired so it was time to slash my mileage, bump up the intensity, and race some shorter stuff. No ultras for at least a few months!

Volunteering with the Sisters Cross Country team has definitely helped me work on the intensity part of my plan, as has Max King's Tuesday night speed workouts. I've only been averaging 80ish mpw, as opposed to 100-120 from April through September. And I've been enjoying racing lots of short races! Since late-September, I've raced: xc 5k, road 5k, xc 8k, road 1/2 marathon, road 3 1/2 mi, and 2 road marathons (Tahoe and Columbia Gorge). It's been a blast! I'm still getting my racing fix, recovery is super quick, and these short races are great speedwork. Plus, I even got a new max heart rate p.r. at a 5k!

Anyway, about a month ago, I decided my legs were feeling fresh and spunky enough again to run an ultra, so I signed up for The North Face 50 miler. It's this weekend in the Marin Headlands. Right after I signed up, just because I'm me, I ran one 95 mile week (forcing myself to not hit 100) that included a 4 hour, 25 miler with 6,600' of vertical at Smith Rock. That run and the 2 marathons are my 3 long runs since the beginning of September. I'm hopeful that those runs plus all of my shorter, faster stuff (including plenty of Pilot Butte repeats) works for me. It's a strategy I've never tried before for a 50 miler. I'm excited to see how it works out, but most of all, I'm just excited to get out there and race 50 miles again!

And then, it will be time for a real break.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Running Fun in the Willamette Valley

The shorter, crisper days we're experiencing now in Central Oregon are a fun time of year. The high trails are now all settled in for the winter with a few feet of snow, forcing Sascha and me back down on the tamer slopes of Peterson Ridge. The whole Peterson Ridge trail complex is sweet! In the last 18 months, the Sisters Trail Committee has built about 30 miles of new trails around Sisters, mostly part of the Peterson Ridge trails. So Sascha and I have been enjoying some play time a little closer to home the past few weeks.

I spent the weekend of Nov. 21-22 in the Willamette Valley playing, running, and hanging out with friends. After a stupidly slow drive to Eugene on Friday night through a snow storm, I got to Tate and Mike's house, where a good meal and conversation awaited. The next morning I was going to run the EWEB Run to Stay Warm 1/2 marathon. I love road halves!

The morning was much different than overnight - it was clear and sunny, and a bit on the chilly side. Perfect for a 1/2 marathon. My 1/2 p.r. is 1:15:57 and I was really hoping to beat that. So after a good 3-mile warm up, I put on my trusty fast shoes, Nike Lunaracers. I had worn those shoes in only 2 other races - my 10k p.r. and my 1/2 marathon p.r - so I knew they were fast!

Eugene didn't bring out it's big guns for this 1/2, but after finding myself in 12th place at the first mile, I knew there was some good competition. After a 17:43 three-mile split, I decided to change gears and ran the miles 4 and 5 in the mid 5:30s, easily passing some guys who had clearly gone out too fast. I even got a few shout-outs about my attire for the day, my trusty Oultaws singlet. By mile 6 (34:51), I was firmly in 6th place, cruising along and keeping my heartrate in the mid-170s. It was a beautiful day to be running.

I was trying to keep a kid with an Oregon singlet ahead of me in my sights. I made it my goal to slowly reel him in over the next 3-4 miles, running steady 5:45s and inching my h.r. up to 180. I think I startled him a bit around 9 1/2 when crossing the Willamette, he heard something behind him, looked back, and saw me 20 meters back. He threw in a little surge, which I didn't counter.

Across the river, we turned back toward the finish line and into a noticable and chilly headwind. Mile 10 came in 57:40, giving me 18:16 for the final 5k to p.r. Quick math told me 5:50 pace would get me there, but the headwind told me it wouldn't be easy. I easily passed Oregon kid, surging as I went by, then also quickly caught up to single-compression sock guy (he was wearing one compression sock and one regular sock). He matched my surge for a couple minutes before falling back. Now I was in 4th, on the hunt for a podium finish.

The closer I got to the finish, the harder I ran as my h.r. was now in the low-180s, but my pace had slowed to 5:54, 5:50, and 5:51 for miles 11-13. Just before 13, I ran into 3rd place and glanced at my watch to see 1:15:16 at mile 13. 40 seconds for .1 miles, no problem. I sprinted to the finish in 3rd place with a time of 1:16:19. Huh?! The last ".1" took me 1:03. Hm, perhaps it was a bit long...but, that's the way it goes. I was happy with my effort and place. I figure any time I can crack the podium in a Eugene race, I'm doing something right.

After a good lunch with Tonya and Scott, I was off to Salem for a fun night with Ryan and Michele. When I got to their house, nobody was home, so I decided to hang out in their backyard hottub until they got home - very nice. We all enjoyed A fun night of Wii Fit and the movie Bruno, while eating a variety of good, fatty snacks. I always love going to their house - they really are two of my closest friends.

On Sunday I drove up to Portland to watch Parker run in the Nike Border Clash. Border Clash is a cross country race between the top-40 Washington prep harriers against the top-40 Oregon prep harriers. Parker ran a great race, finishing in 18th overall, 4th for Team Oregon, beating all of the Oregon state champs from the different classifications. He was excited, and it was fun to see him finish his high school harrier career on a high note.

The weekend finished with a run on the Wildwood in Portland with my good buddy Ryan (Portland Ryan, not to be confused with Salem Ryan). I always enjoy running with Ryan. We've had some pretty fun battles in races, and some great adventures - we even skied to and snowshoed up South Sister in February for his bachelor party in 2005. So it was fun to kick up some mud on the Wildwood with him for a bit.

And, of course, a trip home from the Valley isn't complete without a stop at Rosie's Cafe in Mill City for a smoothie and to-die-for cinnamon roll. Outlaws head coach Charlie and his son were there doing the same, and we were both glad that Parker had saved us a cinnamon roll.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

XC Running

After running, and loving, the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon last year, I was excited to run it again this year. It was going to be the USATF National Trail Marathon Championships, so I knew it would bring some great competition and no doubt, some faster times. However, something really cool happened 9 days before the race that made me not run it - the Sky-Em League Championship Cross Country Meet.

See, I thought only 3 individual guys from the Sisters Outlaws were going to qualify for State. I was wrong! The boys team not only qualified, they narrowly missed victory by only 5 points. The #4-6 runners all ran big p.r.'s to seal the team's berth to State. The girls teams also finished second, thus, sending 14 Outlaws harriers to the State meet. Since state was the same day as Lithia, my choice really wasn't a choice at all - there was no way I was going to miss out on State!

The day of the State meet started off early for us Outlaws. With fresh snow on the pass, we left the school in the very uncrowded bus at 6:15 for the 2.5+ hour drive to Lane Comm. College in Eugene. Although maybe not the most fun course to run, it sure is very spectator friendly.

The girls were racing first. All seven of them (Emi, Hayley, Katie, Jordan, Tia, Fabi, and Taylor) ran strong. We really didn't think a trophy was in the cards (top-4), but thought that with a solid day, top-10 was within reach. The girls stepped up and finished a strong 8th.

Next it was time for the boys. Undefeated on the season coming into the meet, Parker put a lot of pressure on himself. The other coaches and I tried to mellow him out on the bus ride. When the gun went off, Parker, Taylor, and Seth S. went out strong, while Jeff, Easton, Seth F., and Mason went with the main pack. Parker ran very strong in the lead pack of 3 for 2 1/2 miles, leading the whole way, at which point the other 2 guys made a move on him and he couldn't respond. They had bided their time well and had the kicks to show it. Parker pushed hard to the finish and made all the Outlaws proud with his 3rd place. Of course, he has since run that race in his head at least 100 times, and will at least that many more...he definitely learned a good lesson that day.

Taylor and Seth both steadily moved up within the lead pack throughout the race, finishing 8th and 12th, respectively. Taylor is going to be a solid team leader next year. Thanks to Mason's mid-race surge, he, Jeff, Easton, and Seth F. all moved up big-time throughout the race. And as per usual, once Jeff and Easton hit the track with 300 meters to go, they flew by guys! Thanks to Easton's, Seth F's, and Mason's p.r.'s, and Jeff's big finish, the boys podiumed in a very solid 3rd place and earned a trophy.

That night, we rented a big house on the beach in Waldport, had a great seafood dinner, played a bunch of silly games, looked at all of the pictures Zander and Chris took, watched movies, played in the sand, and just generally celebrated a great cross country season by being together. A sweet way to end a fun year!

This past Saturday, just a week after State, there was a USATF cross country race in Sandy that I thought would be fun to run and get a few Outlaws to go with me. I was only able to get Taylor and Parker to go, but we had a great time!

Taylor ran the Junior Olympic portion of the meet, finishing 5th in his 5k race in 17:39. He outkicked two guys on the track, beating one by .3 seconds! I got Parker to run the Open 8 k race with, or at in the same race with me. He was excited to just run a race for fun with no pressure on him, and it showed. In a small, but very strong, field of 30, Parker ran his first 8 km xc race in 27:18 for 5th place. He smoked lots of 20 & 30 year old dudes - it was sweet! I overheard more than a few guys after the race comment about Parker. As for me, I was reminded that, although I love xc, I really suck at it. Although I never got passed the entire race, and ended up passing 10 harriers, I still couldn't even pull of a sub-30, finishing in 30:02 for 14th place.

I thought about cross country running and what makes a good cross country runner a bit on the drive home. I concluded there are 3, maybe 4, general runner classifications: power, strength, speed, and endurance. I got the endurance down. And crazy as it sounds, I think I even have a little speed (relative to the other categories). Power is pretty much reserved for sprinters and that's definitely not me. But I think it's really strength that makes a good xc runner. I am not a strength runner. To be a good xc runner, you have to be able to muscle up short, steep climbs, and be able to accelerate fast around corners. I'm just not good at that kind of stuff. I enjoy getting in a good groove, then slowly increasing my effort and pace throughout a big bursts for me. And thus, I think that's why I've always sucked as a harrier. But I'll always love it!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Columbia Gorge Marathon and Pilot Butte 5k

The weekend of Oct. 24-25 was one of those really cool weekends that don't come around often, but when they do, I cherish them greatly.

On Saturday, I ran the 2nd annual Pilot Butte Giants Gallop 5k in Bend. I love running PBRs (Pilot Butte Repeats), and I love this little race. The first .7 miles are flatish, then 1 mile up gaining 500', .8 miles down losing 500', and .6 miles flatish to the finish on the track. There was a small group of us, but we had a great time. I wore my heartrate monitor, hoping I would set a new max-h.r. p.r. I wasn't disappointed.

I took the lead from the start, ran strong up the road, tried to just cruise down the trail with thoughts of Sunday's marathon, then while making a sharp left at the bottom, my feet slid from under me and I went down. A bit embarrassed and with bloody knees, I quickly got up and tried to shake myself out and kick to the finish. I could feel and hear Paul quickly gaining on me. On the track with 200 to go I went all out. Paul was right behind me, my h.r. monitor was beeping like crazy, and the finish couldn't come quick enough. Finally I crossed the line, barely squeaking out the W by a foot. I didn't break my c.r. from last year of 19:18, but I was happy with the win, my time of 19:33, and new heartrate p.r. of 201 (I was most excited about the 201)! Unfortunately for the marathon the next day, my quads were pretty sore, so I slowly ran a mile cool down around the track.

That evening I made the drive to The Dalles to stay with my college buddy / cross country teammate, Chad Sperry, who is the race director for the Columbia Gorge Marathon. Chad and his wife were in Hood River doing race stuff and their kids were all at grandparent's houses, so it was just Dixie the dog and me hanging out. After 15 minutes of fiddling with the remote, I figured out how to operate the t.v. and I was happy to watch Perfect Storm while stretching my sore quads. Lori got home and we chatted for a while, then Chad came in and I caught up with him for a few minutes before bed.

A good night of sleep found me excited to get up and run this cool course. As per usual Sean-style, I arrived an hour early, jogged a 3 mile warm-up, and got to the start with 10 minutes to go. There I saw my good buddy Ryan, recovering from a painful crash on the Wildwood a few weeks ago that left his ribs on the sore side. I also got to catch up with fellow Shadle Park Highlander Stan (cheerleading today), his wife Esther (running the marathon), Win, Joel, Kurt, Kelly, and a few others. Then soon enough, Chad said "go," so we went!

Joel took it out a bit harder than I wanted to go, so I enjoyed the two mile climb up to the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail with Ryan and Win. Joel continued to pull away from us on the very scenic trail, which took us through the twin tunnels a couple miles west of Mosier. Ryan recalled how cool, and scary, it was to be time trialing on his bike through those tunnels in the Mount Hood Cycling Classic, another race that Chad directs.

Getting off of the paved bike path / old highway, we passed Stan, who generously gave me a small baggie of S-caps (I had forgotten mine and although it wasn't hot, I wanted a few just in case). After a nice downhill to Mosier, we quickly caught Joel and ran through an aid station where I was able to grab a Gu. Then with Joel right there, my competitive instincts took over and I instinctually took the lead. I knew we had a nice, long, grinder climb for the next 6 1/2 miles, so I took that opportunity to put a gap on Joel, Ryan, and Win.

At 12.5 miles, the course turns onto a gravel road and we run on that for 1.5 miles This was a nice break for the legs from the pavement before the steep, 4-mile descent back into Mosier. There was an a.s. right at the turn onto the gravel, where I called out I wanted a Gu. The volunteer not only got me the Gu, but he even opened it for me - first class service! That was just the little boost I needed to get me over the gravel to the fast downhill. On the way down to Mosier, a helicopter did more than a couple fly-overs; I'm still not sure if they were covering the race or what, but I waived.

Back in Mosier, around mile 18, I decided it was finally time to re-fill my bottle. Hm, only 20 oz. so far in 18 miles, but the weather was perfectly cool, I hydrated up on nuun before the race, and I felt great, so all was good. A steep 1.5 mile climb got me back up to the old highway and out of traffic again (although traffic really wasn't an issue at all anywhere on the course), and I knew I had a mostly downhill final 6.5 miles.

Passing the 1/2 marathoners in this stretch was great for the confidence. Obviously they were moving slower than me, but passing people, especially towards the end of a marathon, helps keep the fire burning. At mile 21, I grabbed my third, and last, Gu of the day. Then before long I was out of the park, passing mile 23, and getting rah-rah'd by Stan again. Smiling and feeling really good, I leaned into the downhill and let my legs run a couple 5:45s - life was good. After winding through Hood River, while crossing a pedestrian bridge with about a mile to go, I went down...aagghh! A guy was walking across going the other way and he didn't really know what to do. I got up quickly, shook myself out while jogging for about 30 seconds, then got back into my rhythm. I happily looped around the marina and very soon finished the inaugual Columbia Gorge Marathon in 2:45:29. Although about 1/2 mile short (about 3 min.), I was stoked to go sub-2:50 on this hilly course (2,000' of vertical), and I was excited to get the win. In 4 marathons this year, I have 3 victories (Redding and Tahoe) and one 3rd place (Hilo). A good marathoning year for me.

After getting a big congrats from Chad and Lori, I anxiously watched the foot bridge to see who would be finishing next - Ryan or Joel? Well, it turns out there was a good little battle for second, and Joel got it in 2:53, with Ryan less than a minute back. Joel lives in Bend, and if Ryan still did, it would have been a central Oregon podium sweep. But, he doesn't. So, it wasn't.

After feasting on some super-tasty veggie soup, bread, and chips, I was axious to see how Laura was going to finish. At 4:21 she crossed the finish line, I gave her a big hug, and in between a few happy tears, she said "Sean, you told me this wasn't a p.r. course." She had just p.r.ed by 26 minutes!!

This was such a great race! I loved the course, the hills, the scenery (leaves, waterfalls, river, farms), the volunteers, the aid stations, the other runners, the weather (high-40s, no wind - crazy for in the Gorge, overcast), the post-race food, the cool finisher's medal, the low-key atmosphere, the organization. Seriously, a great race.

On my drive home past all the fruit orchards south of Hood River, I stopped at an orchard that just so happen to be having a hard cider tasting that weekend from Blue Mountain Cider Company out of Milton-Freewater from eastern Oregon.. I LOVE hard cider. After tasting 6 or 7, maybe 8, I picked out my 3 favorites to buy - a sweet cider, a dry cider, and raspberry cider. Mmmm...tasty way to finish a great weekend of running!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Marathon Elitists...

...note I didn't title this "Marathon Elites". Big difference.

Read the following article and see if you agree with me:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Columbia Gorge Marathon

There's a sweet new marathon happening in the Columbia Gorge near Hood River, OR, this Sunday, October 25th called, well, the Columbia Gorge Marathon. Don't confuse this with the old Gorge Marathon from a few years back. This is a totally and completely new and different event.

A good buddy of mine from the cross country team at University of Idaho, Chad Sperry, is the race director for the marathon. He has a lot of event planning experience under his belt. As the owner of Breakaway Promotions, he is the race director for these really cool cycling races: Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, and Tour of Utah. This year, Breakaway even hosted the Road Cycling National Championships. He is a top-notch organizer/planner/promoter, and he has a good thing slated for this weekend. A very good thing.

Chad was kind enough to bike the course with me last week (it was my second time riding in less than a week!). It is a beautiful, scenic, rural, quiet, and hilly course. With almost 2,000' vertical in this lollipop loop - on the closed-to-traffic Old Columbia Highway and a loop through the rural countryside around Mosier - it's definitely not a p.r. course, but I promise it's a great one!

If you're not quite feeling up to the full marathon, there is also a 1/2 marathon, which is an out-and-back on the Old Columbia Highway. Also, there is a 2-person 1/2 marathon relay, where each team member runs 6.55 miles. Both the full and 1/2 courses also go through the famous Mosier Twin Tunnels.

In making sure this is a quality event, aid stations are located every 2-3 miles and will have water, Gu2O, and Gu. Very few small marathons actually stock their aid stations with Gu, so I'm impressed by that. Also, the aid stations will be staffed by high school cross country and track runners, so there's sure to be lots of cheerleading for runners.

I'm really excited to run in this inaugural event. Come out and join me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tahoe!...part 1

September turned out to be a month of spending a week in each of my two favorite running spots. I played in the Tetons the first week of September, and then enjoyed another week of fun in Tahoe the last week of the month! My Tahoe trip was just supposed to be a weekend trip to run the Lake Tahoe Marathon, but it turned into one of the best running weeks of my life!

This being my 9th year of running an event at the Lake Tahoe Marathon, I have come to really enjoy my yearly vacation there in late September. It's always so beautiful - and this year, even more so! The temps were in the mid-80s from Thursday - Monday; perfect for laying on the beach and jetskiing in Incline Village with Thomas and family, but perhaps a bit warm for the marathon.

After 5 years of running the Tahoe Triple and 3 years of running the Tahoe 72 (make that 2, since last year was a dnf), I decided to run the signature event this year, just the regular marathon. I had wanted to run it for quite a few years, but those other races kept getting in my way. So this was my year for the single and I really wanted a sub-2:50, hopefully close to 2:45 if things went well.

Things went hot. After a 2 minute detour at 1.5 miles into the race, I found myself in the lead. I ran with Tripler Lynyrd Skynrod for a couple miles, then opened up a bit of a gap until mile 9. That's when Lynyrd's surge had brought him back up to me, but he was breathing hard. I just cruised along with him through mile 11, then in the 12th mile, there's a good uphill. I knew it and that's where I planned to put a little hurt on Lynyrd. By the top of the hill, only my friend Prudence was with me. She had volunteered to come out on her bike and ride with me from 10 until the end. Thomas was waiting for us at the top of the hill in his car and told me that no one was in sight.

As I cruised along the next few flat miles, getting ready for the crux of the course from miles 15-20, I noticed that my time was a bit slower than I hoped. I hit mile 15 and began the long 2-mile climb up past DL Bliss State Park. It's definitely a heckuva climb. At the top still in the lead, but now way off my sub-2:50 goal, I decided to stop worrying about my time and just go for the W. I was pretty tired so it took me a few minutes to get into a rythm for the 2-mile descent down to Vikingsholm parking area. My quads were hurting, so I wasn't able to fly, but got to the bottom and looked forward to the final climb up to Inspiration Point. With some welcome encouragement from Prudence and Thomas, and an increasingly bloating stomach, I crested the hill and found out I had a 4 1/2 minute lead with 10k to go. Unless some catastrophe happened, I now knew I was going to win. Whether that was good or not, I don't know.

The first mile down is steep and this didn't sit well for my aforementioned bloated stomach. Precisely at the 21 mile mark, a lot of vomit exited my mouth. I don't think I really felt better, but my tummy was a bit smaller. A minuted later I came to an aid station of high school girls who were all screaming my name! Bryon had run back from the finish, waited there for me, and got the girls to make-believe they were my fans. That was cool.

With Bryon joining the entourage, I felt a bit like a celebrity with body guards all around me. I tried to enjoy my the company of my 3 friends, but my tummy just wasn't right. A few more pukes later and we were on the bike path for the final 3 rolling miles. Those 3 miles seemed to take forever, but eventually we ran through Camp Richardson and into the home stretch to Pope Beach.

I was excited to win the 2009 Lake Tahoe Marathon. At 2:58:02, definitely not my finest marathoning hour, but I was happy. I became the first person to win the Tahoe Triple, Tahoe 72, and Lake Tahoe Marathon. I thought that was pretty cool. And to make it an ultrarunner and past Triple Champion sweep, my friend Gretchen Brugman won the girl's race!

Thanks to Les for organizing a fun-filled weekend of events. And a huge thanks to Prudence, Thomas, and Bryon for helping me along my route. I appreciate each of you very much.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kilian's Quest

If you haven't been following this, you're missing out. I'm on the pacer team...and it's incredible!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tetons, Dufur, Seattle, and Tahoe...busy September!

I had started a post a couple weeks ago about my sweet week of running and playing in the Tetons early this month. Well, ever since I learned of Dave's passing, I haven't been too motivated to finish that post. So I'll just summarize it:

I suffered through the Grand Teton 50 miler, was supposed to crew Ashley her last 25 of the 100 but was too pooped after my race so I found another pacer and then was able to crew for Ashley, Ellen, Ty, and others in the 100. Plus I got to enjoy some really good bacon from Jason at the aid station at the top of the paved road! I had a great time hanging out with some of my very best friends. Sunday night's bonfire with Ashley, Bryon, Ellen, Jamie, David, Morrison, and Lane was a perfect way to end the weekend. Thanks.

After the Grand Teton Races, I got to play for a few more days in the Tetons. Bryon and I ran up Signal Mountain, then my brother and his friend joined us and we all enjoyed Signal Mountain Lodge nachos and blackberry margaritas while watching the beautiful sunset across Jackson Lake and over the Tetons. That is one of my all-time favorite ways to end a day in the Tetons! The next day Bryon joined me for most of the way on an adventure run up the Middle and South Tetons...spectacular Teton day! And finally on my last day, I planned on my all-time favorite 25 mile loop - up Static Peak, across the Death Shelf, and down Death Canyon. But when I got up to Static Peak, I was uncharacteristically satisfied with just hanging out on the summit to enjoy the warmth and beauty of my surroundings. After a 30 minute hang out, I ran back out the way I came, and I was very happy.

A great weekend in the big town of Dufur, OR, for the wedding of my good friends Jon and Alicia followed shortly after the Tetons. The festivities took place at the coolest little historic hotel, The Balch Hotel, right in the middle of downtown Dufur. I really enjoyed haning out with lots of great college friends - Jon, Ryan, Scott, Troy, and professors Nick and Ed.

The next weekend was a fun one in Seattle. The highlight was going to a Seattle Sounders soccer game that my friend Ellen generously donated tickets for. I think I vaguely remember watching the old school Sounders play a game in Spokane in the late 70s or early 80s. That night we went to one of the coolest restaurants I've ever gone to, Yanni's Greek Restaurant. If you've never been to an authentic Greek restaurant, put it on your to-do list. The menu was a bit overwhelming, but our waiter helped us pick out some great food to share that went well with our wine. Sometime during dinner the belly dancing began. It was so cool! The woman did her cool dancing, then went around and gave each group a silly hat to wear, then got most of the customers up to teach us a few belly dancing moves. My belly did good! It was just a great, entertaining evening at the Greek place. Again, highly recommended! The next day I played tourist for a while at Pike's Place Market and along the Pier, then Ellen took the dogs and me for a run through Discovery Park. It's a beautiful little park that's super busy on nice weekends. Sascha ended a bit gimped up after her 4.5 miles, so she's on a bit of no running for a while. Then the most exciting part of the weekend was when I got to break up a dog fight between Beno (Ellen's dog) and Sascha. I'll just say that Ellen is a great nurse and even convinced me to go to the ER. Although the bite (on my hand) was deep enough for stitches, the doctor said they don't like to stitch dog bites because of possilbe infections. Like most ER stories, we were there quite a while into the wee hours of the night.

The next morning is when I heard of Dave's passing. It caught me waaaay off guard. It was a really hard one for me to take and I have definitely been sad about the whole situation this past week. While running up Black Crater on Wednesday, I thought a lot about Dave...mainly just how great of a guy he was. And I'm sad I'll never get to share a run, or conversation, or meal with him again. He was a great one.

Still thinking about Dave, driving home from Black Crater down McKenzie Pass, I came upon a cyclist crashed in the road. I was the second on scene, probably 2 minutes after it happened. It happened to be Dave Clark from Bend, Summit High School cross country coach and math teacher, and all around great athlete. He was messed up pretty bad and didn't have a clue as to what happened. The guys in the other vehicle saw a deer broad-side Dave...craziest thing they had ever scene! After trying to keep Dave as comfortable as possible, medics finally showed up and he was whisked away first in an ambulance to the Sisters airport, then via Life Flight helicopter to the hospital in Bend. He ended up with a shattered clavicle, broken ribs, a punctured lung, lots of painful road rash, and one heck of a story to tell his cross country team.

Now I sit at a library at Zephyr Cove at Lake Tahoe. This is my 9th year in a row being here for one of the Lake Tahoe Marathon events. 2001-05 I ran the Tahoe Triple, 2006-07 I ran the Tahoe 72, and last year I dnf'd at mile 45 of the 72. This year I decided to run just the one-day regular marathon. Yeah, after so many years of the Triple and 72, it kinda feels like the j.v. race to me, but I'm really excited to see what kind of time I can throw down on this tough course. My fastest for it on day 3 of the Triple was 3:11. Last year I ran 2:55 at the Crater Lake Marathon, which is a much tougher course than Tahoe. So I'm hoping to thrown down sub-2:50, hopefully closer to 2:45. Yeah, it will be tough, as that's not much slower than my p.r. marathon (2:39) on a much easier course at sea level. But as a friend just told me yesterday, " should run your heart out for Dave Terry." So that, Dave, is what I plan to do on Sunday.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hood to Coast

After helping out the Sisters High School Cross Country team for 2 years at the Portland to Coast high school challenge, I've really wanted to be on a Hood to Coast relay team. I finally got that chance this year. This past weekend I was scheduled to run on a team, but first, I wanted to test my hip flexors post-Waldo to make sure I could run relatively fast. So last Tuesday I ran Max's coached workout, which was 8 x 800 on the grass at Drake Park. After averaging in the low-2:40s, I knew I was good to go for Hood to Coast.

Hood to Coast was an absolute blast! I was on the END team, made up of eight Portland-area fast guys and girls, 2 fast girls from Spokane, one guy from the Bay area, and me. They had won the Mixed Open division last year and were planning to do so again this year. I felt fortunate that they let this ultra guy on their team.

Meeting up with the van 1 runners in Portland was just like meeting up with running friends I already knew. There was no awkwardness and we all meshed together pretty fast. On the drive up to Mt. Hood for our 6:45 p.m. start (the last wave), I enjoyed chatting with my new teammates and getting to know them a bit. Laura is in residency at OHSU, is training for Ironman Kona, and can sleep anytime, anywhere; Tony is training to run a sub-2:30 marathon this fall; Jon runs for Bowerman Athletic Club, and therefore, is fast; Janet kicks butt in races in Spokane and throughout the northwest; and Sarah was just getting back into racing after a five year break to have 2 kids. I knew I was in fast company.

It was fun walking around outside Timberline Lodge, mingling with other teams, chatting with friends, and just being part of the whole HTC experience. Soon enough, it was 6:45 and Laura was off. As she flew down the hill, we drove past her, whooping and yelling, then got down to the exchange. I was the #2 runner, so I got in a decent warm up, then was off. My first leg was 5.67 miles with 1,500' of downhill. It was fast. My first mile was pretty slow (5:54), but then I got into it. Over the course of the next 4.67 miles, I ran at least one sub-5 (4:59), and I'm pretty sure I p.r.ed my two-mile time (10:12). I was able to average 5:09 the rest of the way down, finishing in 30:02, for a total average of 5:17. I was happy knowing that I ran fast, but also not giving everything as I still had 11.5 miles to go.

Jon killed on his 4ish mile leg, averaging 4:44...I can't even comprehend that. Sarah, Tony, and Janet all ran strong and we finished our first rotation happy. Although we were trailing our 2 main competitors (Popeyes and Olives Oils, and Tarahumara), we were confident.

A quick shower and rest at Laura's house while van 2 tore up the streets, then we were back at it at Portland's Hawthorne bridge at 1:30 a.m. Smiley Laura flew off into the night as Jon drove us to the exchange. Jogging around for my warm-up, my quads were a bit sore, but not too bad. I got the hand off and tried to run hard for 5.5 miles. It was right on Hwy. 30, so kinda boring, but as we were now catching up to teams, there was a lot of people to catch. I started counting, but lost count after 20. I finished in 32:02, averaging 5:49. Although about a minute slower than I hoped, for racing at 2 a.m., I was okay with it. Going through this middle of the night rotation was a bit tiring, but we made it fun by cheering for the runner as we passed in the van.

Handing off to van 2 around 4:30 was great because then we could get up to the next exchange and get some rest. That sounded great, but in reality, the traffic was horrible getting to the exchange. I was driving as everyone else slept, which was fine since it was my turn to drive anyway. It was light when we parked and I was awake again. I saw fellow ultrarunners Neil, fresh off from Waldo, and Darin, so it was fun talking to them.

About 8 a.m., Laura was off to the races again. This time we knew we were slightly ahead of the Popeyes and Olive Oils, and slightly behind Tarahumara. One of Popeye's fast guys passed Laura and their 2nd runner was off about minute ahead of me. I excitedly took the hand off from Laura and was able to catch and pass the Olive Oil pretty easily. When I went by her, I was confident that was the last we would see of that team. On the rollers of my last 5.77 mile leg, I was a bit disappointed to run 34:02 and average only 5:54, but was happy overall because I knew I had put away the Popeyes and had taken almost 2 minutes back from the Tarahumara lead. Jon then caught and put away the Tarahumaras.

Tony's last leg was the coolest of the whole race and I was defintely jealous of it. He got to run up to the summit and down the other side of the coast range. It was 3.5 miles up and 2.5 miles down and was just so cool. Although it only topped out at just under 1,300' in elevation, it just seemed so cool. Janet then rocked her last leg to the tune of 5:50s and van 1's running was over. So we headed to the coast via Astoria, stopped at Fred Meyer for some fried chicken to settle a not-too-happy tummy (well, at least I had the chicken), and made our way to the beach at Seaside.

We anxiously awaited anchor runner Peter and the rest of van 2. When we saw Peter cross the finish line without seeing the Popeyes or Tarahumaras ahead of him, we were stoked. We had finished the 197 miles of Hood to Coast in 19:38:34, for an average pace of 5:59 per mile (!!), placing 1st in our Mixed Open Division, 1st out of all of the mixed teams (mixed = co-ed), and 7th overall out of 1,000 teams. The 6 teams that beat us were all-guy teams. Sweet!

I am definitely pumped up about relays again and am very much looking forward to running my next one. Thank you very much to my eleven teammates: Laura, Jon, Sarah, Tony, Janet, Kristen, Allie, Dan, Larry, Erin, and Peter. You guys and girls rock! I highly recommend relays to every runner. You'll get no sleep (or hardly any), get in a great block of running, make good friends with your teammates, and have a blast!

Summer Running in the Mountains

A few weeks ago, we were fortunate to have a week of cooler temperatures. Normally I don't care for coolness in the summer, but this did give Sascha the opportunity to join me on a couple of 20 milers! The first one was in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, up to Camp Lake then Chambers Lakes, in the saddle between the South and Middle Sisters. This is a sweet run. It's very runnable, beautiful, and plenty of water for Sascha's drinking and wading pleasure. The only bad part about that day was the holier-than-though ranger who stopped me about 1/2 mile from the end to check my permit. He wasn't amused that Sascha was my party leader (even though she was in the lead), so he made me fill out another one. Hm, seems like a waste of paper to me.

That run was on a Monday, and Sascha was pretty tired for the next 2 days. Thursday came and when I got home from work, she was bouncing around, all excited and ready to go again. Which was great, because then on Friday, we met up with my friends Ashley and Josh for a 20-miler to Jefferson Park in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area. This is supposed to be a beautiful run. However, we were freezing for most of the run as we ran in a light rain, and got soaked from the wet brush on the side of the trail. And once we got to Jeff. Park, Mt. Jefferson was completely socked-in. The meadows and flowers were pretty, but we were a bit disappointed to have missed the up-close view of Jeff, itself. The weather was perfect for Sascha, as she didn't overheat and got super muddy. She loved it. I loved running two 20-milers with my favorite running partner in one week in the summer.

A week later and it was time for Where's Waldo 100 km. Only 3 weeks out from the Death Race, I knew it might be tough for me, but I love Waldo so much and after a 2-year break from it, I wanted to be back in the game. I went into knowing that my hip flexors were a bit tender and I wasn't going to do anything to screw them up.

The first 7 miles were definitely slower than I had planned, but I was okay with that. I started loosening up a bit on the climb up Fuji, but could feel my hip flexors. Coming down, they were talking to me. By Mt. Ray aid at mile 20, I knew something had to be done, but I wasn't ready to stop yet. So I tried running hard the next 6.6 miles to the Twins aid to see if that would loosen things up. It really didn't and in fact, it was getting more difficult to pick up my legs as my hip flexors were pretty darn sore by then. I should have dropped there, but I knew there was a 1.5 mile hike out. So I decided to just jog it in 5 more miles to Charlton Lake, where I knew it would be easier to get a ride back to the start/finish. I got to Charlton, said I was out, got a wonderfully painful deep massage on my hip flexors, drank a beer, helped crew some friends, chatted to lots of people...just had an all around great time there! I eventually got a ride back to the finish and was able to watch Erik smash the course record, and see everyone else finish. I have no regrets about dropping and was able to really enjoy the whole Waldo weekend.

Sunday after the race, Chris, Darla, Maeve, Sascha, and I took the scenice route home via the Aufderheide Highway. This beautiful stretch of road between Oakridge and Cougar Reservoir is extremely popular amongst cyclists and is a true gem. We got in a nice little hike and just enjoyed the lolly-gagging getting home. Sascha and I stopped on McKenzie Pass for another little hike around Dee Wright Observatory. Fun weekend with lots of great friends.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Canadian Death Race in Pictures

Thank to you to the Grand Cache Mountaineer and Bryon for capturing a bit of my Death Race adventure in pictures.

The mud begins...

No way around (this must have been
just before I went down).

Bryon, it's so good to see you! (going down Mt. Hamel in leg 4)

My legs got dirty (down Mt. Hamel, leg 4)

Pretty snazzy how I clip my empty handheld to a
caribiner on my pack! (headed down Mt. Hamel, leg 4)

Although I only wore it for 40 minutes,
it felt so good to take off the headlamp (finish line)

Sometime when you finish, you're thirsty...

...sometimes you need a hug (thanks, Bryon!)...

...and sometimes, you look like Hell!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Canadian Death Race...125 km's of gnarliness!

It's a long one...

Ever since first hearing about the Canadian Death Race in 2004, I've wanted to run it. I mean seriously, who doesn't want to run a race with the word "death" in it's title?? However, being way up right smack dab in the middle of nowhere, it's a long trip to get there (and home). To find out where Grand Cache, AB is, get out your map of Nowhere, and look right in the middle. You'll find it.

Anyway, back in late-February / early-March, I decided this would be my year to make the 1,100 mile trip north to the beautiful Canadian Rockies. However, I decided about one day after the race filled. Bummer. So I was put on the wait list, with not much hope of getting in. Fast forward to July 2. I got an e-mail saying that if I still wanted in, there were a few openings for some wait list people. Although this was less than a week after my suffer fest at Western States, I replied with a "Heck yeah I want in!". So I e-mailed my info and got my name on the starting list (but too late for the official race program).

Although I didn't specifically train for the Death Race and it's 17,000' of climbing and descending, I knew my Western States training, Where's Waldo training, and pacing Jamie at Badwater would all help get me ready for the Death Race (doesn't the name just sound cool?).

On Wednesday, July 29th, I started my long journey north. The drive up was relatively easy, as I split it into 3 days. The first night I stayed with my parents in Spokane and enjoyed a nice soak in their hot tub. On day 2, I drove to Banff to stay with my friends Leslie and Keith, who were in the middle of hosting an epic 5-day running adventure in the incredible mountains near their home. I decided to meet the group that day for their last 9 km. I had hoped to get in a good 9 km of uphill with about 3,000' vertical by myself, then join the group for their run down. However, I got to the trailhead too late and only got about 2 km from the car before I ran into them (since my whole adventure was in Canada, distances will generally be referred to in kilometers; you're all runners, so that shouldn't be an issue). After meeting some extremely cool new Canadian friends, catching up with two awesome American friends, and soaking in Leslie and Keith's hot tub with a nice Honey Lager, I had a great night of sleep. Day 3 (July 31st) started off with a very heartfelt Happy Birthday singing to me from Iris, Meghan, and Keith. They're so cool - thanks guys, that really meant a lot! The drive that day was going to be, as Leslie told me, the most beautiful drive in the world. She was right. Driving through Jasper National Park is incredible. The mountains were outrageous and the glaciers and ice fields were just simply miraculous. I couldn't believe how huge the glaciers were. I was glad to take my time driving through Jasper and enjoying it all.

I finally got to Grand Cache on Friday afternoon, met up with fellow Marathon Maniac and 2008 Death Racer Terry Sentinella and his wife Delores (out of the 230 solo entrants, Terry was the only one I knew - definitely something I wasn't accustomed to), checked into our hotel, then picked up my race packet. Picking up my packet was hilarious. Two girls checked me in, one about my age, the other late-50s. They noticed I was by myself, asked if anyone had come with me, then immediately became very concerned for me. They asked if I had run the Death Race before, if I knew what I was doing, if I had any experience in this kind of race, etc. They even offered me the chance to be on some teams that were still looking for someone last-minute. I just smiled and said I would be okay. The look on their faces, though, was simply classic. I could tell they were seriously scared for me.

After a fairly sleepless night, I easily woke up at 6 for the late 8 a.m. start. They start later so more people have to run at night. I ate my normal pb&j, drank a bottle of nuun, put on my trusty Montrail Streaks, and walked the kilometer down to the start. There wasn't a hint of coldness in the air, so I elected to go light and just carry two bottles and gels for the first two sections. (Since it is mostly a five-person relay race, the Death Race is broken up into five sections; 19 km, 27 km, 19 km, 38 km, and 24 km.)

The first section was pretty quick, easy, and painless. I ran the first kilometer or so with Dean, asking him how his dad was doing. We watched as many of the relay runners and solos sped off down the road. Although we were both first time Death Racers, we knew better. After 5 km on the road, we hit the dirt and precisely at 6 km, we hit the mud. Everyone was trying their hardest to delicately prance around it. Everyone but me. I went straight through the first mud pit and immediately found myself down on my side covered in mud. I didn't care about the mud, but did care about injuring myself, so I was a bit more careful after that. I ran a good portion of leg one with Sam from The North Face relay team Go Nads! (not Thompson; this Sam lives in Canada and works for TNF). It was his first ever trail race - cool! Toward the end of this leg I had to pee, so did my thing on the run, much to the amazement of a couple of Canadian runners. I cruised to the end of 19 km in 1:33, 12th overall, 2nd solo (9 min. behind legendary Jack Cook, winner of the CDR in 06 (c.r.), 07, and 08). I filled my bottles, cleaned up a little, and was off down the trail.

Leg two is the most technical section of the course and has two very big climbs and descents. It started off in perfect Sean-style, a nice, runnable uphill on a dirt road. My love for running up hills like that showed, because within 10 min. of leaving the aid station, I was in 4th overall (still 2nd solo). Eventually I turned off the road and onto a goat trail up Flood Mountain. While very steep, it was still early in the race, so easy to climb. However, it was still pretty early into this stage and with the emergency aid station (e-a.s.) being about 9 km away (at 36 km), I was a bit alarmed at how fast I was drinking my nuun and water (note: there were only 4 main aid stations, one at each of the relay exchange points, and 3 emergency aid stations in the long legs 2, 4, and 5). I slowed my drinking down a bit, but figured I would rather be dehyrated with empty bottles than dehydrated with full bottles. The trail from the summit of Flood Mountain to the summit of Grande Mountain is the roughest piece of trail in the Death Race. The descent down Flood was insane! Think extremely steep (I fell on my butt a few times and slid 10-20 feet), lots and lots of rooty, boggy, hobbity trails (think Hobbit section at McDonald Forest, but a lot longer and a lot harder) - just all around hard. About 8 km before the e-a.s., I crossed a creek and filled up my bottles. Aaahhh, that's refreshing, but I sucked those down fast and again ran out of water. I crossed another creek, filled up again, then 5 minutes later was at the e-a.s. Funny note here: At the e-a.s., while I filled one bottle with plain water, I asked a volunteer to put my baggy of Carbopro into my other bottle. So that's what she did - she literally put the baggy into the bottle, still ziplocked, and filled it with water. I rephrased my request, she felt silly, and the other volunteers got a laugh out of it. I love ultras! Then it was up, up, up Grande Mountain, mostly on dirt road, but only about half runnable. Getting up wasn't too hard, but again, the down was super stinkin' steep and very rocky. Like going down Flood, I thought I was moving sooooo slow, but also like Flood, I didn't get passed on the descent - so it wasn't just me being a wimp. It really is steeeeeep! In fact, I even passed a relay runner, Martin from Go Nads!, on this descent. Mercifully the down eventually became runnable and I finally cruised into the end of leg 2 back in Grand Cache at 46 km at 5:03, 5th overall and 2nd solo (13 min. behind Jack). Normally when running solo in a race where there are also teams, I don't care what place I'm in overall, but since I ran pretty much just with teams in this race, I thought it was fun to see how I compared to them. This was easily the hottest part of the day, probably in the mid-90s. So I made sure I got soaked in water, drank lots, grabbed my Nathan #020 pack from Delores, and took off down the trail.

At only 19 km, leg 3 was once again an easy one. The biggest thing to happen in this section was a bit surprising. Around 50 km, 5:30 into the race, I noticed someone very fast-looking ahead of me was walking very slow. Hm, not good. It was Jack Cook and I could tell he wasn't in the fun zone. I slowed to ask if he needed anything - a gel, electrolytes, anything. He just said he was going through a bit of a bad patch. I don't know if he realized I was a solo runner or not, but that didn't matter to me. Since I was now leading the solo race and I didn't know how long his bad patch was going to last, I picked up the pace for the next 10-15 minutes. I happily cruised into the end of leg 3 at 65 km in 6:55, 6th overall and 1st solo. By this time, the weather had cooled a bit, clouds had rolled in, lightening and thunder had started, and the humidity was knowticeably rising. And it was time to climb back up in the mountains!

Climbing Mt. Hamel was quite an experience. Looking at past splits of top finishers, I knew I was in for 2+ hours of climbing (6 miles, about 3,500') and about 3 1/2 hours before I hit the e-a.s. in this leg. So I carried 3 liters of water in my pack and a 20 oz. bottle. I got into a good hiking groove with Shea from Foy Factor and he definitely preferred me to set the pace. I was okay with that because it gave me company for the long climb. There was one short downhill, but I didn't care for that because then we had to re-climb that lost vertical. But it was pretty much up, up, up for 2.5 hours! As I kept going up, the temps dropped, and there was a nice breeze at the summit. Upon summiting, I ate a real small bit of solid food and immediately my stomach revolted - no pukey, but a horrible cramp. So I had to run the very steep and rocky downhill through the Boulder Garden hunched over for the next 25 minutes - not a good way to put time on the competition. Shea took off as I slowly plodded down. After lots of water and an s-cap, the cramp finally went away and I was able to happily cruise down. About this time I ran into someone coming up the hill. I knew I was going the right way and was about to mention this to the runner, but then I recognized it as Bryon! After 10 hard hours on the trail, it was so nice to see a great friend. We chatted briefly, but he was headed up Hamel and I had a race to run going down, but it was nice knowing my buddy had made the 8ish hour drive north just to cheer me on. Thanks, Bryon! I got to the e-a.s., dropped my pack, filled a bottle, and ran the 5 km Ambler Loop like I was on fire - it felt so good to run light again! I passed 4 of the relay people who had passed me while I was Mr. Hunchback, so that helped fuel my fire. When I got out of the Ambler Loop and back to my pack at the e-a.s., the volunteers told me that no other solo runners had entered the loop yet...nice! I knew that meant I had at least a 30 min. lead with 33 km to go, and I felt good, so someone was going to have to run pretty darn fast in order to catch me. I grabbed my pack and lights and cruised the next 11 km to the end of leg 4 - a nice downhill for 7 km then parellel to the highway. I finished up leg 4 at 103 km in 12:05, 9th overall and 1st solo. I quickly dropped my heavy light (kept my small one), most of my food, and my extra bottle with Delores to go as light as possible the last 24 km. I entered the Raft Ride Home section confidently.

The weird thing about this story so far is that is lacks puking! Well, that almost changed about 4 km into the last section. I was cruising along on some more hobbity trails and decided to down my first Powergel of the day. Immediately my stomach wanted to puke it up. However, with well over 2 hours to go, I really didn't want to open the flood gates. So I slowed to a walk to settle it down, took 4 big gulps of water, and continued walking for a minute or so. Whew, I dodged a bullet. I continued cruising along the hobbit trail to the e-a.s., meaning 15 km to go, including a river crossing. Still slightly naseous, I grabbed a little bag of chips at the e-a.s. and went down to my private jet boat ride across the Smoky River. In order to cross the river, I presented the ferryman (Dr. Death) with my very special gold coin. Unlike Western States, we actually timed out for the boat ride. The too-quick ride was the only time all race I sat down, and it felt kinda good. I thanked the skipper and first mate, got out of the boat, timed back in, then up, up, up a pretty darn steep road. This was a good time to try to eat some of the chips; mmm, Cheetohs! From there in, I was getting pretty tired and could tell I was hammered. This was really the only section all day where I was losing momentum. I did pass one relay guy, so that helped slightly, but getting passed by 3 other teams didn't help (although they were all so nice to me with lots of "Go Death Racer" and "Good on Ya" rah-rahs). Running on a fairly heavily wooded and rooty trail, I contemplated getting my light out. When a relay guy passed me with his light on, that made my decision easy. It was 10:20 p.m. Northern races in the summer are sweet! With about 5 km to go, I got out of the woods and onto a dirt road. I turned off my light and began hammering up the hill. About 1 km later, my body threw some dry heaves my way. They were kinda violent, but I was pretty dehydrated by then, so didn't have anything to puke. By then, I didn't really care if I puked, but with nothing in my stomach, I again held off the puke monster. One more relay guy flew by me in the final 15 minutes, then I just kicked my butt in, not wanting to get passed again. I finally crossed the finish line in 15:04:04, good for 1st solo and 11th overall. I was ecstatic and I was wasted. Lucky for me Bryon and Delores were there for me. It was crazy to me how many people were at the finish area; at least 100, and they were all cheering for me. Some of them were relay runners, some were crew, but a lot were just ordinary residents of Grand Cache.

That night of sleep was very light and painful. I twitched almost all night and woke up feeling like a semi had run me over. After a nice fat breakfast with Terry (11th solo in 17:39), Delores, and Bryon, complete with lots of greasy bacon and lots of cheese on my homefries, it was time to hit the road south. Since it was Sunday, and I couldn't stick around for the award ceremony on Monday, I stopped by the race office to let them know that Terry would be picking up my winnings. I also chatted with Dean for a little bit about his race (2nd solo, 16:12). He said he didn't have a good race and his body was just tired from all of his racing lately. While talking to one of the TNF marketing guys, he asked me if I knew what I had won. I said I had heard I won $1000, which was super sweet. He said "the cash or..." (oo, I like "or's") all expense paid trip to any of the other The North Face Endurance Challenge Races around the world!! I was shocked and speechless. Apparently the Death Race is part of the Endurance Challenge that also includes races in San Francisco; near the Great Wall, China; Mont Blanc, France; and near Santiago, Chile. Whoah - that's a heck of a list to choose from!

I then turned the little Honda south and hit the road for the 20 hour drive home. Bryon and I stopped for milkshakes and cheese fries in Jasper, then it was drive, drive, drive to the border. I got to the border at 12:10 a.m. No biggie...unless you're trying to cross at a border in the middle of nowhere. Apparently some of the border crossings close at midnight and don't re-open until 8 a.m. The closing in general kinda sucks, but then the late opening time made it suck even more. So I slept in the Honda that night and finished the rest of the drive home the next day.

Big, huge thank yous to Delores, Terry, Bryon, Iris, Keith, Leslie, Meghan, TNF's Go Nads! team, all of the racers who cheered for me, all of the racers who ran with me, all of the Death Race workers and volunteers, the entire community of Grand Cache, The North Face for such a sweet prize, Montrail, nuun, and Nathan for my racing gear, and everyone else who encouraged me along the way. While the Death Race wasn't the perfect race, or even my best race, it was definitely my best ever long race (long = over 100 km) and things just seemed to click for me. Hopefully I still have a bit in the tank for Where's Waldo 100 km on August 22.

If you're on Facebook, you can check out some of Bryon's cool pictures.

Canadian Death Race

Super short version: I ran the 10th annual Canadian Death Race in Grand Cache, AB, on Satureday and I won!
125 kilometers, 17,000' vertical (climb and descent), very rugged and technical.

This is a hard race. Out of about 200 starters, only 78 finished.

Stay tuned for more to come in the next couple of days. For now, I'm going to bed! Oh, and just wait until I tell you what I'll all be jealous!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Badwater Babe!

I just got home from an incredibly amazing experience. I was fortunate to be part of Team D's Nutz at the Badwater 135, and help crew and pace Jamie Donaldson to her second consecutive victory there.

David, Rob, Connie, and Eric showed me the ropes fast and we had a great crew for Jamie. Despite 27 hours, 20 minutes, and 18 seconds together (second fastest women's time, only to herself from last year) with really no sleep, we didn't have a single crew "incident". Pretty cool people to meet and hang out with.

The real star obviously was Jamie. Her patience, perserverance, hard work, grit, course knowledge, extremely up-beat attitude, no whining, zero pukeage, and just all around coolness factor, made Jamie the chick at Badwater.

I am humbled to have been a part of her experience. Thank you, Jamie.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lotsa Puking, But I Got My Bronze Buckle

Western States was once again the huge event that it always is. In 2005, I was really nervous during all of the pre-race stuff, but not this year. I really enjoyed everything I did in Squaw in the days leading up to the race. I was very relaxed, evidenced by my heart rate of 48 at the pre-race medical check on Friday morning. I knew I was fit, and I was definitely confident in my ability to perform well.

Well, I didn't perform up to my expectations. I did finish, 24:44:13, which I am very happy about. I never really considered dropping. But I just had a long day out there.

I felt great through the high country, wearing my heart rate monitor up until Dusty Corners at mile 38 to help keep my effort intact. I really enjoyed the high country miles running at different times with Stan, Lewis, Krissy, Scott, Brian M, Brian R, Simon, and others.

I went down pretty hard about a mile before Robinson Flat and that really sucked the wind out of me. But when I got to Robinson, I couldn't help but get re-energized. The crowd there was absolutely epic! I felt like a rock star - hearing my name shouted out from all directions, high fives everywhere, and definitely got a lump in my throat a few times. I left there on top of the world and was able to get a decent groove going again.

Getting to Miller's Defeat aid station at mile 34, run by the SWEAT Running Club out of Redding, CA, I thanked them for putting on a great marathon in January. To my complete surprise, one of them then complimented me for putting on a great Peterson Ridge Rumble in April. That was the nicest thing anyone said to me all day and I was stoked.

I continued on down, down, down the hill to Last Chance at mile 43. Shortly after that, on the decent down to Swinging Bridge, I started getting really hot. Uh, that's not good. The climb up the Thumb hurt, as did the next long decent down El Dorado Canyon (it hurt because of the heat, not my legs). Down at the El Dorado a.s., mile 53, I was really, really hot, and the a.s. workers could see that. They offered up the creek to cool me down and I accepted with hesitation. It felt awesome to stand in the cool creek for 10 minutes to cool my core. I left feeling like my race might just turn around.

I was wrong. About 20 minutes later, I was dry again and hurting. I eventually got to Michigan, got lots of help cooling off again from Peter, Darla, Chris, and everybody's favorite Russian, Ogla. Since I like Volcano Canyon, I left Michigan looking forward to the next 10 km. I didn't do what I hoped in there and made it to Foresthill in not very high spirits. I knew Thomas was joining me for the next 18 miles, but I was to miserable to really want to run with anybody.

Thomas did a great job getting me down to the river. By the time he was with me, I had been puking lots, and that didn't change. At Peachstone, I was able to eat 1/2 a grilled cheese sandwich, 2 cups of soup, and a cup of Coke. Good, solid calories that I wanted to keep down. So we walked out of the a.s., then slowly jogged. When I did puke again, at least it was everything I had just put down, so that was a plus. Then at Ford's Bar, we did something I wasn't planning on until13 miles later - we broke out the headlamps.

Crossing the river was nice and felt good. As the temperature was still hot, as was I, I should have fully submerged myself. However, I was too afraid of getting hypothermia on the hike up to Green Gate, so I didn't take full advantage of the river. Bad decision, as I got pretty hot again on the climb. Being hot again at the top, Bryon literally took the shirt off his back, got it wet, then draped it over my head to help cool me down. What a guy.

Darla and I then set out for the final 20, with thoughts of a sub-24 still in my mind. But it wasn't to be. As the night drew on, I kept puking and puking and puking. And just to make sure, I puked some more. Despite the heat, at ALT, I got a little chilly and got my jacket from my drop bag. The puking was draining all of my energy. I actually ended up wearing the jacket twice for short sections.

A little after Brown's Bar at mile 90, I finally let out the mother puke - I actually had to stop for this one (all of the rest I continued to walk, run, jog, whatever). A lot came out and a few minutes later, I actually felt pretty good again. So the last 9ish miles I was able to pick up my pace ever-so-slightly. It felt great to be running, er, jogging again. Going into Hwy 49 at mile 93.5, I just wanted to get out of there and finish. Crewboy Chris said that in the almost 4 hours he was there watching, I was by far the fastest in and out of that a.s.

Leaving Hwy 49 at 4 a.m., Darla was so cute and said that I could still get a sub-24. Little did she know about the climb out of the a.s., or the final climb up Robie. I told her that the top guys do it in 1:20, so don't worry about the time. We eventually made it across No Hands and up the climb to Robie. And just as I was bummed to turn on my headlamp with Thomas, I was equally bummed to turn off my headlamp with Darla on the way up to Robie. I didn't want to see the sun rise again while still out on the trail.

Anyway, we hit the pavement and soon enough the track for the final 300 meters. I finished happy and exhausted in 24:44:13 for 76th place. There were 399 starters and 238 finishers. That's a fairly hefty 40% drop rate. Ouch.

Chris and Darla saw that the temperature in Auburn on Saturday was 111, and at 8 p.m., it was still 100 at Green Gate. So estimates are that the highs in the canyons were probably in the 110-115 degree range. Hot.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Thomas and Darla for not letting me sleep at aid stations, and to Chris for being my main crew boy. You all were a very big reason for my finish. Also, thank you to Joe for letting me crash at his house, and not on I-5, on Sunday night.

Another 100? "Definitely not" on Sunday and Monday, "probably not" on Tuesday, and "maybe" on Wednesday. Ultrarunners are kinda stupid, or at least forgetful very quickly.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Western States Teammates

This year at Western States, I'll be toeing the line in Squaw Valley with a whole lot of teammates. Let's take a look:

My Montrail Teammates:
Erik Skaden, Eric Grossman, Francesca Conte, Bev Anderson-Abbs, Luis Escobar, Gary Robbins, Russell Gill. That's a pretty good looking team; arguably Montrail's best WS line-up in a few years. I say there's definitely some potential in there for some high placing, both in the girl's and boy's race!

My Oregon Teammates:
Gayman Arbogast, Willie Bogue, Stacey Bunton, Rob Cain, E. David Granum, Liz Kellogg, Hal Koerner, Jerry Letendre, Dan Olmstead, Neil Olsen, Tom Pelsor, Brad Putnam, Billyrubin Riley, Seagull Junker Riley, John Robinson, Linda Samet, Jenn Shelton, Derek Snelling, Larry Stephens, Chickenhawk Taylor, Lord Balls Thornley, Monkeyboy Wolfe, and Kelly Woodke.
Although there are a few on this team that I don't know, this is definitely the team that I know the best. Oregon seriously has the very best ultra community EVER! Show up at any ultra in Oregon, whether it's part of the Oregon Trail Series or not, and you will immediately make new friends. It's pretty cool. Many of the WS Team Oregon runners have been known to show up to WS in matching Team Oregon singlets, while their crews wear Team Oregon t-shirts. It's pretty sweet running through Robinson and Michigan Bluff seeing all of that Beaver state pride. In addition to being super-cool people, there is some big-time talent on this list, too. You know who they are.

My Marathon Maniac Teammates:
Gilles Barbeau, Rob Cowan, and Robert Towne.
Gilles has been on an ultra-tear this year with 18 ultras already. Since seeing Rob at Jed Smith, Rob has run two 100s, so he's definitely got the strength to run strong. Robert used to live in Central Oregon, where I would see him at all of the local races, and now lives in Spokane, where I still see him occasionally when I visit the fam. He's always got a great smile and additude in all of his races. Look for him to finish near the top of the 50-59 age group.

My nuun Teammates:
Scott Dunlap and Brian Morrison.
Scott will be looking to rock his first WS - as long as he can keep his hands off his camera! And Brian, well, Brian obviously needs no introduction. I'm whole-heartedly rooting for Brian to kick some butt!

My Synchro-Blog Teammates:
Scott Dunlap, Jizzle Wizzle Jones-Wilkins, and Lord Balls Thornley. As Jizzle Wizzle's first pacer, Goat Powell is also a big part of this team. This team is loaded with some proven, multi-time top-10ers, the ultra and trail blogging king, and a two-time WS age group winner.

My Central Oregon Teammates:
Oh, wait, it's just me this year. A bit disappointing after last year's conglomeration, but I'll do my best for the solo representation.

So yes, I have lots of teammates that I'll be sharing the trail with. I will proudly be running for each of these teams, and I look forward too seeing many of you before, during, and / or after the race.

Run strong, take chances, be happy, have fun, don't step in puke...I'll see you all in Auburn!

This is the final installment of Lord Balls Western States Synchro-Blog project. It has been my pleasure to join in the fun. Read what the others have to say for this final go around:
Goat wants to hear your predictions.
Scott has a crew that's looking for an adventure.
AJW is in love with Tommy Nielson.
LB discusses the merits of a pacer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Getting Dirty...

So my final little pre-WS speed work race, the Dirty 1/2, was Sunday. I was definitely pleased with my race. Although I had mega miles in my legs from my recent road trip, I went to the Dirty 1/2 to run a course p.r. Last year I ran 1:24:11, so I just wanted to get a 1:23. I wasn't disappointed.

The first 5 1/2 miles are uphill and I usually take my time getting into it in this race. However, this year I made it a point to get after it quicker and go out harder, so not to be left behind the guys I usually run with in Bend-area races. I hit the first flat mile in 6:11 feeling nice and relaxed. Then when the uphill started, Mike Olson passed me like last year, but this year I went with him. We got into a good groove, catching up to Michael Dennis and youngster Parker Bennett (16 yrs) from the Sister High School XC team just after mile 3. The 4 of us had a good little train going until a.s. 2 at 5.5 miles. Parker and I surged, Michael fell back a bit, and Mike had to walk through the a.s. to drink some water to get rid of a cramp.

Back on the single track heading downhill, Parker and I picked up the pace, running comfortably hard (although as my heartrate monitor later told me, perhaps a bit harder than comfortably). I noticed Mike and Michael were running together again, slowly reeling us in. Mike eventually went around at mile 8, putting in a bit of a surge. He tried to get me to go with him, but I didn't want to bring it too hard quite yet.

Mike, Parker, and I reached mile 9 in 56:20 and I yelled to Mike that it was going to hurt if he was going to get his sub-1:20. We pushed on through 10 in 62:15, where Mike cramped bad and really fell of the pace. Parker and I really slowed up the hill in the 11th mile, at 6:45, the slowest of the day for us. Parker was happily surprised, however, to hear 1:09:00 at mile 11, as it was still was faster than he had ever run for the Dirty 1/2.

With about just under 2 miles to go, I told Parker to go for it. He had run a 4:09 1500 meters at the state track meet 3 weeks earlier, so he obviously has more leg speed than me. He was relectant, though, saying he didn't want to beat me after pacing off of me for most of the race. I told him I was the coach and that's what the coach wanted him to do. So he eventually passed and I tried to hang with him, but to no avail.

Parker flew up the hill in the 13th mile, while I was holding on just to maintain my pace. At the final downhill past the outhouse, I noticed Parker closing in fast on local stud Damon Kluck. Damon hung on for 5th in 1:21:53, Parker ran an incredible 1:21:54 for 6th (did I mention he's only a junior!? and when he was a 7th grader, he ran 1:33:28 at the Dirty!), and I happily cruised in for 7th in 1:22:13. Although I really slowed down the last 5k, I'm happy with my time and definitely my place. Anytime I can crack the top-10 at the Dirty, it's a good day.

To see how much I was actually pushing myself, I wore my heart rate monitor. Well, I definitely pushed myself. I averaged 184, and got a max of 192! Hm, when I went through the Lactate / VO2 Max test (i.e., pain test) at COCC a few years ago, my max was only 190. Sweet!

Yesterday I was definitely a bit on the sore side, mainly my quads, and today I'm feeling pretty good again, just a bit tired. I was very stoked to have recovered from my recent big miles enough to have run a Dirty 1/2 p.r. This tells me I'm fit. I'll add in another rest day this week (2 total), probably a short tempo-ish run on Thursday, and I think I will have a pretty darn good taper going in to Western States.