Thursday, July 31, 2014
So, last Sunday I had the opportunity to get a 35 mile "run" in with a couple of lovely young ladies, Missy and Emily. Both were looking for a really long run on the Wasatch course and wanted a tour guide of sorts. Neither had run Wasatch in a couple of years, and were a bit unsure of the route in places. The perfect opportunity to reset my training and see where I was.
We started our adventure at the Fernwood picnic area. This is about 3.5 miles from the start of the Wasatch course. It's also where runners start the single biggest climb of the race.
The day started cool, but we all knew that it would be a warm one, even at 9000'.
The first 20 miles went great. We were having fun just trotting along and chatting. We even managed to bag a couple of peaks, Thurston, and Francis, with short side trips.
My troubles started when we began the climb towards the Bountiful B aid station location. Our last source of water was a stream that we crossed just before that. We all tanked up on water knowing that we wouldn't have any more for the next 17+ miles. I've never been a fan of the climb to Bountiful, but it didn't seem too bad. I was slowing down some, but wasn't concerned.
We made it up to bountiful, then started our trek down the dirt roads to the Sessions Liftoff aid station location. Even though it was Sunday, we encountered all sorts of 4x4, ATV, and motorcycle traffic. Just the hazard of running down this road.
By the time we had gone 20 miles, I wanted out. I was bonking, not hard, but just slowing down and having an attitude shift. Trouble is, there's no easy way to get off the mountains. You don't realize just how remote you are until you want to leave. Even though we could look down and see civilization close by, it would have been a 5-10 mile minimum trek to make it down to that civilization. Then I would have had to call my wife to come pick me up, then drive to Big Mountain to pick up my car. Since we only had 10-15 miles left and I wasn't hurt or other wise dying, I kept going. For about the next 5-7 miles I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, complaining to Missy. Emily had gone on ahead a ways (probably so she wouldn't have to listen to me).
Finally, I think Missy had enough of my complaining and gave me half of a 5-hour energy and that seemed to boost me some. I realized that 1) I was physically fine, no injuries or illness, 2) I was doing something that I loved, running and hiking in the mountains, 3) It was a gorgeous day, even if it was warm, 4) I was actually moving at a pretty good pace, just not as fast as I wanted, 5) I was doing more physically and in better shape than the vast majority of people my age (55), and 6) I had cold beer in a cooler in my car.
So, what lessons did I learn out there? First, take more calories. I think that's why I bonked. I did eat about 600-700 calories that I had with me, but I should have taken more along. I did fine with water, I rationed it and finished the last of it about 1/4 mile from Big Mountain. Second, I was reminded that I do have a gift of being able to go these kinds of distances. Third, I'm not fast, but I can persevere when forced to. Fourth, I was never really bad off, I just had a bad attitude. Having a bad attitude is way, way different than actually being in any sort of danger, and I was never in any sort of danger.
And last, I hope that when I do run Wasatch in September, I'll remember that it's just a low point I'm at and to persevere, because I will have a low point during the race.
Sorry, no pics. I have enough pics of the Wasatch.
Here's the link to my route: http://www.strava.com/activities/172042726
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Last Saturday I ran my second ultra in as many weeks. The previous week it was the Kettle Moraine 100K. I did reasonably well at that one and was just looking to finish Bryce before dark and have some fun hanging out with fellow HUMR's, along with my wife and sister-in-law, for the weekend. I was going to run the race last year, but a bout of surgery left me on the sidelines crewing and just hanging around.
RD Matt got us all started right on time at 6am. The first 1-2 miles were on some dirt road. This allowed the field to spread out before we got to the single track.
So, my stated goal for this race was to just go out and have a good time, enjoy the scenery, and finish in a reasonable time. I was still a bit tired from the 100K a week before. Secretly I had a time goal of somewhere around 12 hours. I figured that if I felt good, I should be able to finish in that amount of time.
|See all the runners? Yeah, neither can I|
The next section was another long stretch of nine miles. This section had us doing some serious climbing. A couple of short steeper sections, but nothing huge.
|Happy to see my peeps|
Time wise, I was doing fine and well on my target of a 12 hour finish. When I left Blubber Creek, I felt the competitive side of me start to kick in a bit. I've never won a race, or even come close, but I still like to try and run my best time given the conditions. I felt good, the legs were doing fine. I knew that I still had teh hardest part of the course coming up, but at least I was over half way done. So I picked it up a bit, tried to do more running on the uphills.
The next section from 27-35 miles seemed like a lot of dirt road and a fair amount of climbing. At the time I was playing tag with a few other runners. I'd pass, then they'd pass. Stuff like that kind of bugs me, I don't know why. I figure if you're going to pass, stay ahead, but on the other hand, I was unable to stay ahead when I would pass.
I ran into the aid station at 35 miles (Kanab Creek) still feeling pretty good. This aid station was also on the edge of a cliff and had stunning views to enjoy. I didn't spend a lot of time here, just a couple of minutes. I knew that in another five miles, I would again see the HUMR crew.
Hal Koerner coming up the road. Well, the guy I was running with had to get a photo with his running idol. We chatted with Hal for a couple of minutes. Turns out his wife was running and he was waiting for her. He actually knew who I was once I introducd myself. Kind of surprising actually. Anyway, as we ran into the aid station, I told Zach to grab a beer from the HUMR people. He had never heard of drinking a beer during a race. I assured him that it was like drinking the nectar of the gods. Anyway, Lane got me half a PBR, got Zach half a PBR and I grabbed some stuff to eat from the aid station table and left. I knew the longest climb would happen over the next five miles and I wanted to get it out of the way as quickly as possible. The first mile out of that aid station was a gradual climb on some single track along a creek. Meadows, trees, sunshine, great trail, just all around awesomeness. Zac Marion, was charging down the road and stopped to chat with me for a minute and give me a hug. He looked great and was stoked to be running in first place. A few minutes later, Leslie Howlett came running by. She was looking strong as well.
|See those white canyons in the distance? Zion National Park|
A few minutes later I made it to the last aid station before the finish. This aid station was on the highest point of the course and from 9500', I could see 30-40 miles south into Zion National Park. As I was eating and drinking, a lady that ran with me across the Grand Canyon several years ago came in. I hadn't seen Olga since that run almost six years earlier.
|Saw this good looking lady on the trail. Olga King|
So, overall, I had a pretty good race. I did better than I thought I would. I felt good the entire day, no stomach issues, no foot or leg issues. Just a good time.
The race? The course was incredible, phenomenal scenery at every turn. The aid stations were well stocked and very helpful. They had anything I needed.
Shoes - I ran in my old Altra Lone Peaks. I think this is going to be my go-to shoe. No foot issues at all. No blisters, no trashed toenails. I wish they had a bit more cush. I need to get me a new pair though.
Drink - I think I drank about two gallons of water. Although the day was kind of cool (upper 60's), it was breezy, very dry, and very sunny.
Food - I didn't take my usual baby food for this race. I figured that since it was only 50 miles, I could get my with stuff from the aid stations. Nutella wraps are awesome, as is pickle juice. A fair amount of Coke was consumed, one beer, and some Trader Joe's trail mix left over from the Buffalo Run.
Time - 12:33:01, 36th out of 109 finishers. Good enough for 4th in my age group. So, not too bad.
Here's some more random pics form the race and in the park the next day.
If you get a chance, go run this race. Well organized, great, well stocked aid stations, well marked course, phenomenal scenery, tough course, but not overly so. I think I'll be running this one again next year.
|The pink cliffs near the finish|
|In the park with Karen and her sister Kate the next day|
|Random scenery pic|
Added bonus, short restaurant review
We ate most of our meals at the Bryce Canyon Pines restaurant. This place had great homemade food. Seriously, I think virtually everything on the menu was homemade. The bread was baked in house. All of the pies were baked on site. For my meals, I had the hot open faced turkey sandwich twice because it was so good. Homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, all on homemade sourdough. The pie? Very tasty. I had the lemon cream pie while Karen had the blueberry cream pie. So, if you go down to Bryce, check this place out. I think it has way better food than Ruby's, and it's cheaper as well.
Miscellaneous info -
Here's my Garmin info before the battery ran out.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I attempted to replicate the feat the next year (2004) and bonked really hard between miles 35-50. I still managed a 12:10 finish and I think it was good enough for 9th overall.
Well, I've always wanted to go back and run Kettle again. This year we went back to Illinois to visit our daughter and her family and I managed to time it so that we were there on race weekend. Pretty sneaky if I do say so. See family, have a good time, get a race in.
The Kettle Moraine is an area of south central Wisconsin. The terrain is rolling remanents of the glacial moraines from the last ice age. So there's lots of small rollers over the moraines and lots of dips into the "kettles". The race takes place on sections of the Ice Age Trail and goes through the Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit. Some of the trail crosses private land. The trail itself ranges from really wide cross country ski trail that is mowed to narrow single track winding through the thick forests, to trail that crosses several miles of northern prairie grasslands. A little bit of everything.
At this time of year everything is lush and green (read humid). Lots of flowers, birds, and biting insects abound. At least the trail was dry.
I figured that since I don't live back here anymore, I wouldn't know anyone, but I did manage to meet up with fellow Wasatch Speedgoat Racing team members Larry and Beth Hall.
|Meeting up with fellow Speedgoats Larry and Beth Hall|
So, about 75 of use started the 100K. Those numbers are about the same as they were 10 years ago. there were a lot more 100-mile runners than there used to be though.
The first few miles are rolling cross country ski trails. About 30' wide and the state keeps them mowed during the summer. The first thing I noticed is that everyone was walking the ups. Now these ups are anywhere from 10' to 30' of gain and some were a bit steep, but I thought I'm from Utah, I run stuff like this all the time, so I did. The first aid station is about 4.7 miles in and at the time you're running along a wide straight flat trail through a section of pine forest.
|Running through some pine forest|
|Southern Wisconsin farmland|
Meanwhile, at about mile 15, we began running through some southern Wisconsin prairie. I never have been a fan of this section of the course. Usually the grass is a bit taller, so harder to push through. Also, it's a lot more exposed, and by now the sun is usually getting warm and the moisture given off by the grass can make the humidity pretty stifling. Heat and humidity doesn't usually bother me unless I have the prevailing breeze at my back, making it feel like running through absolutely still air. Thank goodness there was a breeze most of the time. The prairie section is about seven miles of exposure that I tried to run all of just to get through. I was glad to get back into the cool shade of the forest.
When I hit the second to last aid station and got back on the ski trails, I started smelling the barn and tried to pick up the pace a bit more. I blew through the last aid station and by now I was starting to see the lead 100 mile runners heading out again as well as the 38 mile fun run runners (yeah, they start at about 6pm and get to run through the night). The one thing about running on the ski trails is that they are so convoluted that you can hear the cheering at the finish line and know that it's still four miles away. The weather by now had gone overcast and windy and was threatening to rain. It always rains on this race. Every year, but it usually holds off until the evening. Well, I was coming in later than I have in the past, so I did start getting rained on for about the last half mile. I was good with that. The air was still warm and the rain cooled things off a bit.
I finally crossed the finish line or a time of 13:55. So way slower than ten years ago, but I think at my age I'm supposed to be slowing down a bit. Anyway, it was good enough for 17th place overall out of 61 finishers, and, once again, 2nd in my age group. I'm good with that. Yeah, it was fun to go back and run this race again after so many years away. 100K is my favorite ultradistance to run. Long enough to be epic, but usually you don't end up running through the night. Jason and Timo have directed this race since its inception 19 years ago and it shows. Everything runs well, the course is well marked, the aid stations are well manned and stocked. If you're ever in southern Wisconsin the first weekend in June and looking for a great trail race, do this one. Hopefully I can go back and run it again.
|Senior Masters, just a nicer way of saying old fart|
Added bonus - Beer review
While I was back east, my wife and I hit a local liqour store and went back to the beer section. Holy cow! We were like kids in a candy store. All sorts of nifty beers and reasonable prices. I could have spent a ton of money here, but leaving for home the next day meant that I couldn't. Sigh!
One of the beers I did by was a vanilla stout called Buffalo Sweat brewed by the Tallgrass Brewery in Kansas. Since I run with buffalo here in Utah, how could I pass that one up.
|Good stuff indeed|
|And of course a picture of my completely awesome grandkids|
Thursday, May 29, 2014
|Curtis and I going for a stroll Photo: Lori Burlison|
|About time I finished Photo: Lori Burlison|
Shoes - I wore my La Sportiva Crosslite 2.0's. Yeah, I think I'm going to switch. I wore those same shoes for the Zion 100 and my feet were trashed after. I figured that for 26 miles, I would be ok. Nope, once again my feet hurt at the finish. I think I'm going with my Altra Lone Peak's for my next race.
Nutrition - Not much, it was only 26 miles. Ate a wonderful chocolate chip cookie at the 12 mile aid station, ate some Trader Joe's trail mix, drank about 40 oz. of water and couple of cups of coke.
Added bonus, restaurant review time.
So I thought I'd throw out a restaurant review since I haven't done that in quite awhile. Saturday evening after the race, Karen and I went to Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar at Farmington Crossing. We had never been there before, but had heard good things about it. It didn't disappoint.
They have a selection of 36 different martinis, plus a great selection of other adult beverages. Their food menu is filled with lots of interesting dishes.
since it was a martini bar, Karen and I decided to start out with a martini. With 36 different ones on the menu, picking one out was kind of hard to do. I started out with a black stiletto and Karen had an ultimate lemon drop.
For the main course, I ordered the crab mac and cheese, and Karen ordered the pepper salmon.
Now normally I'm not a big fan of shellfish and usually won't order shellfish anything. This, however, was good. Definitely would order this again. Karen loved her salmon. I didn't get a picture of that.
After dinner, we ordered another round of martini's. This time I had a classic martini while Karen ordered a blood orange. Once again, both were excellent.
Price wise, it can be a bit expensive ordering a couple of drinks, dinner, dessert, etc., however, since we don't go all out very often, we decided it was worth it.
So, we ultimately judge a restaurant by whether we would go back again or not. For Twigs, we'd definitely go back. It's a great place if you want to get some great food, hang out with friends, etc.
|Isn't she a picture of beauty and sophistication?|
Thursday, May 8, 2014
|This guy camped out Thursday night. It was dry then.|
|6" of water out on the salt flats|
|Salt Flats splits|