Saturday, April 12, 2014

It was one of those races


Prologue –

Where to start.  Hmmm, so I went into the Zion 100 this year with a bit more confidence than last year.  Last year I ran a pretty solid race and finished in 28:30.  I had gone down there with the expectation of not having any expectations except to finish and to have a good time.  I did both, probably the most fun I've ever had running 100 miles.  Well, this year I had the expectations of having a good time again, and running a bit quicker.  I met one goal and failed in the other.

I had more miles on the feet this year than I did last year at this time, so that led me to believe that I could run a faster time.

This year I also went with the intention of not having either a crew or pacers.  I hadn’t completed a 100 mile race without a pacer in a couple of years and wanted to run it “clean” so to speak.

However, this year I had the opportunity to have my lovely wife crew for me.  She found out that she didn’t have to work on Friday so I asked her to come down and crew.  She said yes with a bit of fear and trepidation in her voice, as she has never crewed for me.  Spoiler alert, she did fantastic, never got lost, knew just what to do, definitely a big help to me.

Prerace -

Thursday evening?  Got down to Hurricane late, late, late, like midnight.  Three hours of sleep is about all I managed before having to get up and make our way to the Virgin city park.  I managed to chat with a few friends and other runners I knew before about 180 of us took off into the dark.
With Colleen Zato and Steve "Old Goat" Harvey

Putting our game faces on.  Steve is 70 and was attempting his first 100 mile run in 12 years.

Game time -

The first section took us up the Flying Monkey Trail to the top of Smith Mesa (here’s a bit of history behind the test area there).  This year Matt added a section of new trail to the top that was nice and technical.  It even involved a bit of scrambling.  After the scramble there was a nice bit of single track on the top of the mesa before we got to the first aid station.  Then it was a nice long downhill on dirt and ratty old paved road to the next aid station at the highway.  I came in there feeling pretty good.  I was meeting my ambitious time goals that I had set.  A short stop there and I was now on the JEM trail along the Virgin River.  Very cool trail that follows the edge of the cliffs above the river.  The next aid station was the Virgin Dam, and Karen met me here for the first time.  It was nice to
Some views from Gooseberry Mesa




Gooseberry Point, yeah, it's a long ways down


see her smiling face.  Now on along some 4 x 4 trails to the base of Gooseberry Mesa and our second major climb of the day.  Something like 1500’ up in a bit over a mile.  Yeah, it was pretty steep.  The nice thing about this climb is that as you get near the top you see and hear all sorts of spectators cheering you on, then you pop out on top and there’s the Goosebump aid station.  Anyway, by now I was kind of spent.  Karen was there and had my drop bag ready, got me what I needed and kicked me out.  At this point (31 miles) I wasn’t feeling it.  This is a fairly runnable section but I ended up walking or slowly shuffling most of the way out to the Gooseberry point aid station.  After a quick trip out to the point, I came back to Gooseberry, tanked up on some Coke and headed back the 5-6 miles to Goosebump.  By now I was feeling a bit better and managed to run most of the way back.  I came back into Goosebump and Karen and Jo Agnew were waiting for me.  Kelly Agnew came in right behind me.  Big surprise as he’s usually way ahead of me.  I guess running 130 miles the previous weekend in less than 24 hours was taking its toll.  He would go on to go under 24 hours for this race, so something lit a fire under him.  The guy is a major running stud.

Well, I got out of Goosebump and headed for Grafton.  I did manage to run most of those six miles and was still on my time plan, but it was getting harder to do.
Karen tending to my every needs at Grafton

This year Matt added a six mile trail loop out of Grafton that was pretty cool running.  Virtually all single track, a bit of a climb, great views.  After that loop, I ran pretty strong down off of the mesa and over to the climb up to Eagle Crag.  The climb up to Eagle Crag went ok, not strong, but steady.  Back down off eagle Crag I managed to run most of the downhill but once I hit the flat road section, it was a walk.  I just didn’t have the energy to run and I knew that the climb back up to Grafton was not easy.  However, I did manage to make the climb pretty strong, passed a couple of people and got back to Grafton where my lovely wife once again crewed flawlessly.  After some serious calorie intake, I was out and heading back to Goosebump.  This is where the wheels started to come off, roll down the hill, and got lost never to be found again.  I walked virtually every step of the six miles back to Goosebump.  I think I was a pretty sad sight getting back there.  I was doing ok, just tired, sleepy, and feeling kind of rough.  Karen sat me by the fire and let me sleep for about 15 minutes.  After some more food and a change of shoes, it was back down that steep climb that we came up back at mile 31.  I was not looking forward to this one, especially since I had changed into road shoes.  With no grip on the dirt and rocks, it was a pretty hairy descent but I made it down unscathed and even managed to trot the few miles across the desert to the Dalton Wash crew access point.  Now I had the few miles of climbing up to Guacamole Mesa.  This.was.slow.  I was so sleepy that I sat down to catch a few minutes of sleep but couldn’t.  I think I finally made it up to Guacamole aid at about 4:30am.  Here’s where crew is nice.  I totally forgot I had a drop bag here with dry clothes and lots of calories.  Instead I just grabbed some stuff at the aid station and headed out on what I knew would be a very long nine miles.  And it was, it took me right at four hours to get back.  While I was out on the Guacamole loop, most of the 50K runners went flying past me.  I knew a bunch of them, including a bunch of fellow HUMR’s.  It was nice to see their smiling faces, get hugs, high fives, etc. from them and others.  I even had a doctor offering me drugs (nothing illegal).  I assured everyone I was doing fine, just tired and slow.

Finally got back to Guacamole aid at 9:30am and once again totally forgot I had a drop bag.  By now the sun was up, and I was waking up.  I managed to trot most of the downhill miles off the mesa.  My goal for the last 9 miles was three hours or less.  I figured most of it was downhill, the sun was up and I was smelling the barn.  The last few miles were uneventful, just like the rest of the race.  The best news I heard all race was when I passed the turnoff for the Walsh aid and a group told me I had less than a mile to the finish.  I figured that it was still 2.5 miles.  I told them they’d better not be lying to me and they assured me they weren’t.  After crossing the highway and a short trot through part of the town of Virgin, it was time to cross the finish line.  I was glad to be done with this one.
Looking pretty rough at the finish line.  Glad to be done.  Photo: Breein Clark

Aftermath –

Many, many thoughts here. 

All during the latter part of the race I was trying to figure out why I had no energy.  I had plenty of calories, I was hydrated very well.  I finally figured out that I did not have any of the really long 30-50 mile training runs needed to perform well at 100 miles.  I had more overall miles this year over last, but nothing over 29 miles in one shot.  You can complete a 100 on the type of miles I did, but to do it well, those really long runs are essential.

I got blisters on my feet in weird places that I’ve never gotten blisters before.  Same type of shoes, La Sportiva Crosslite 2.0’s, that I have worn for many 100’s.  Nothing that would take me out of the race, but uncomfortable at times.  This is the first 100 in a long time where I changed shoes to try and get my feet more comfortable.

Food?  I had Ultragen in every drop bag and used it faithfully except at Guacamole.  I ate way more bean burritos this year than I did last year.  I was a major gas bag as a result but between those and Ultragen, I stayed fueled with no stomach issues at all.  Pickle juice works once again.  Tastes good, and it can get you back in your game.  I’m a big fan of the stuff.

I also discovered that I have absolutely no dance moves after 61 miles (I don’t have any dance moves at all).  Jennilyn Eaton was shooting some 100 mile dance party moves from lots of runners.  Yeah, mine was pretty sad and pathetic.
Trying to explain to Jennilyn that I have no dance moves after 64 miles.

I did have a good time in spite of my slow time.  I met some people that I haven’t had the chance to meet and wanted to, I saw plenty of friends, and had a great weekend.

Karen did a fantastic job of crewing me for the first time.  She thought so I didn’t have to.  She asked the right questions, got me the stuff I needed, and kicked me out of the aid stations and down the trail.  Perfect.

So, 100 mile finish number 19 is in the books.  My final time was 29:57:10, good enough for 82nd place out of about 180 starters and 115 finishers.  Next up is Salt Flats 100 in less than three weeks.  Hopefully I’ll do better here.

 
All that effort for this

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Good Water Rim run report

The company I work for (Rocky Mountain Power) gave us MLK day off last Monday.  I thought only banks, schools and government institutions got that day off.  Needless to say, I took advantage and scored a nice long run.
I had a couple of criteria for this run.  First, I wanted out of the foul air we've been breathing for most of the winter, second, I didn't want to spend most of my time on snow, third, I wanted to go someplace I hadn't been to.
I saw a post from some SLC runners about the Good Water Rim Trail and I remembered thinking that they did this run in the winter and the ground was dry.  The scenery was pretty cool as well.  Now I just had to figure out where it was.  After a bit of searching, I found that it was down south near Castle Dale, Utah.
Knowing this was about 3.5 hours away, I resolved to get an early start, do the run and get home all in one day.  Well, I didn't get as early a start as I wanted due to medical issues with one of our horses (he's fine, just a bad laceration), but I did get started at about 7am and made it down there by about 11:00am.  This drive does include 20 miles on a gravel road.  By the time I got there, I realized I was way out in the middle of nowhere.  I think I saw two vehicles on the gravel road and three vehicles while I was out there.


Elevation Profile

I started my run at a road junction, ran about 2-3 miles to the edge of the Little Grand Canyon, ran along the rim on the road, then hit the trail.  About 2 miles in on the trail I came across the only people I would see on that trail the entire time.  The rest of the run I had the place to myself.
Most of the trail was pretty easy to follow.  I did get off trail just a bit a couple of times primarily because snow was obscuring the trail.  The trail itself looks like it doesn't see much use.  If there had been no snow on the ground it would have been easy to follow, but generally it's pretty lightly traveled.  Fine with me.  I knew that as long as I kept the canyon on my right, I'd be fine.  In many places the trail goes right next to the rim.  Sometimes with a several hundred foot drop.
The weather was crystal clear, about 35 when I started warming up to about 50 degrees.  Bright sunshine, perfect day for this.  I guessed that the trail was about 25% snow covered with 4"-6", about 25% was pretty muddy, and the rest was dry.
As far as the trail goes, I ended up with just a bit over 1000' of gain, so a pretty flat trail, but it has to be one of the most convoluted trails I have ever been on.  In and out of every little canyon finger, small drainage, etc.  After the last of the trail, I ended up running about 2 miles back to my car along the dirt road. 
I ended up running abut 20.5 miles total, of which about 14-15 miles were actually trail, nice sweet single track trail.  After stopping for dinner in Price, I headed for home and managed to get back well before my bedtime.  All in all a great day for a run in a great place.  I definitely want to revisit here and do this run again.


Dirt road leading to the trail


Overlooking the Little Grand Canyon








Looking south down the Good Water Canyon

Ooops, fingers in the way


My start point







Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's Ham(st)er Time





Haven't written here in awhile, so I thought I'd post a short report about my run at the Revolution Run.
So, the Revolution Run is a 5 hour run that's usually done on January 1.  For some reason (scheduling conflicts I think), the organizers moved it to January 11.  Fine by me.
The format is pretty simple.  How many laps can you run around the 442 meter indoor track at the Olympic Ice Oval in five hours?
I kind of like timed races.  I think they're much more mental than trail races in that you have the same scenery lap after lap.  It takes effort to try and maintain a constant pace on a flat surface.  Do you go out harder?  Easier so that you have something at the end?  Do you keep running when you see your opponent walking? When do you walk if need be?  When do you get aid?  The strategies are different than the usual trail race.  Most of my running friends abhor the thought of running in circles for that long.  "It's boring", "how can you turn circles for that long?"

It really isn't that boring.  There's some great people watching that you can partake in, hopefully you have a few friends to pass the time with.  There's always music, and it's great mental training on focusing.  Focusing  is something that I really.....Look, Squirrel!!.....need to work on.
Since I my miserable failure at the Bear 100, my running during November and December was less than stellar.  In fact, in November I ran 135 miles, and in December I ran a whopping 75 miles.  Yeah, I wasn't real interested in running.  Couple that with the new job and all that entails, and you can see I had a few other things on my mind.

Pre-race

I had resolved to hit the running in earnest on January 1, and that's what I've done so far.  It helps to sign up for a bunch of races so that you have some goals that you have to train for.
I did have a goal for this race.  I've only managed to run a 50K in under five hours while on my treadmill. I thought that maybe I could accomplish that here given the course (an oval) and the vertical (0 feet).  On the other hand, my training (or lack of)  might put a damper on that effort.  Regardless, I was going to go out and run as far as I could and see what happened.  I figured it would be good mental training if nothing else.
I met up with some of the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers.  With them around, I knew it would be a good time if nothing else.  I was right.  Some of us played tag as we ran laps.  Nothing like grown adults playing kids games.

Ham(st)er Time


The race started and about 335 of us started circling the ice oval.  Needless to say, it was a bit crowded for awhile.  Actually, it was crowded for quite awhile, like the first couple of hours.  I didn't have any problem running, but I was either weaving around people or having people weave around me.  Still, the crowd didn't slow me down any except once in awhile.
I managed to run pretty much non-stop for the first almost three hours.  I would get something to drink or eat, but immediately after downing it, I was back running.  I didn't walk my first full lap until about lap 71 (about 19 miles).  By then, my lack of training was showing up, me feet were tired, my quads were getting sore, my calves didn't like me very much.  It probably didn't help any that I had gone to the gym Friday and hit it pretty hard with the weights and went into the race already somewhat sore.  What I found during my walking was that it was actually easier to just run.  When I would start running about a short walking break it would hurt worse than if I had just kept running.
My race was pretty uneventful.  I put my music on, played tag occasionally, drank half a PBR at about lap 85, and ran.  I hit the half marathon mark (48 laps) right at two hours.  Not bad given my fitness level.  I knew that a full marathon was definitely in reach,  the question would be how far could I get past that.  I figured that the 50K was out of reach.
I hit the full marathon (96 laps) at about 4:24.  Definitely not my fastest marathon time.  By then I was getting really tired.  I was walking more, and my lap times were creeping up.  The mental training came into play here.  I knew I was woefully undertrained but I knew that I could keep running if I could just talk my body into it.  The race became one of mental focus, could I force my legs to keep running when they're screaming at me to stop.  Both of my calves were trying to cramp up on me.  Almost to the point of me falling, still I tried to keep a run going.  I really had to turn inward and try and block outside distractions in order to keep going.
For several hours I had no idea of how many laps I had run.  I wasn't wearing a watch.  I just had my phone with tunes playing.
After I hit the marathon mark, I did kind of relax.  I still had 30+ minutes to run, but I kind of figured that anything beyond 26.2 were bonus miles.

Aftermath
So, I ended up running 107 laps, or 29.38 miles.  My placing was 20th out of 335 starters.  Not too bad for grandpa.
My awesome grandkids



My fueling was ok.  With an aid station every 442 meters the concern became one of overfueling and hydrating.  I think I ate 2-3 gels, a bunch of pretzels, drank some water, Gatorade, and Achiva (some sort of muddy looking stuff that didn't taste too bad).  I figured that with the race being less than 50K, I didn't need to overdo things.
I was incredibly sore after the race.  Every part of me legs just ached.  I've felt less sore after running 50 miles, and 100K's. So I chalk that up to either being out of shape, pushing too hard, or making too many left turns.
BTW, while we were running, some of the Olympic speed skaters were practicing on the oval.  They are holy crap fast.  It was amazing to watch them go flying by in a train of 5-6 skaters tucked in behind each other drafting.  Just, wow.






Pictures
I took a few during and after the race.

Jeremy showing some sexy leg

Jeremy and his wife.  Her first race ever.


Craig chatting up some lady.  I have no idea who she was.

This lady had some awesome signs

Running on the hamster habitrail

My favorite sign of the day

Craig and Zac having a special moment....in public.  Steve photobombing his ass.























Sunday, September 22, 2013

Xterra 10K Trail Race at Snowbasin

I ran this race last year for the first time.  I was going to do it as a lark with my Pilates instructor as she had lost a bet to me and had to do a five mile run.  Instead, I decided at the starting line to push it and race.  Well, last year I ended up placing 23rd out of 80 runners and first in my age group.  My time was 57:??  My mistake?  I went out way too fast on the parade lap around the parking lot and by the time I got to the first climb, I was shot and hung on by my fingernails for the rest of the race.
This year I played it a bit differently.  I did a little bit of a warm up run just to get things loosened up.  When the cannon went off, I didn't bolt out of the gate.  I cruised it around the parking lot.  Near the front, but running within myself.
By the time I got to the first climb, I was ready to power up it.  I managed to pick  off all sorts of runners this year going up that climb.  Love it when I can let the trail and mountain running skills shine forth.  In addition, my plan was to push hard and expend just about everything on the four miles of climbing.  I knew that the last two miles were a screaming downhill and I could recover on that.
Well, things worked to pretty much perfection.  I was in the lead group and we were spread out.  I didn't have any other runners behind me.  Much different from last year.  I kinda like running out front, it's not as crowded.
When I finally hit the high point and started downhill, we met up with the slower 5K runners.  I bombed the downhill, pushing sub 7 minute pace pretty much the entire way to the finish.  Ah, the downhill, rocky trail practice does in handy.  Lots of people were picking their way down, I was flying past them.
The results?  Well, there were 150 runners this year.  I managed to eke out 15th place, 11th, male, and 1st in my age group again.  Not only that, my time was almost seven minutes faster than last year.  50:23.  Pretty happy day for me.  The old man can still finish in the top 10% when he gets lucky and knows what he's doing.
The one thing I noticed with my Garmin was that the course showed as 5.8 miles, not 6.2.  Not sure if my Garmin was off.  I didn't track last year's race, so I couldn't compare.  Here's a link to the course.  Oh, wore my heart rate monitor just for fun too.  I was pretty much redlined the entire time.  HR averaged 156 and was over 160 for quite a bit of the time.


Useful hardware, it's a beer bottle opener too!
Nothing like running a short race to remind me of why I do ultras.  This thing was hard, way too hard.  At least it was over fairly quick.  An now, back to my regularly scheduled ultras.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wasatch 100-How to have a good time in the heat

Wasatch 100.  Just the words perk me up.  I first moved to Utah back in 2004 from the flatlands of Illinois and within two weeks had made my first trek up to Chinscraper.  I stood at the bottom, looked up and turned around and went back down.  Just looking up that face scared me.  The thought of going up that on race day was petrifying.  Once I got back down, I thought "this is stupid, how will I ever run Wasatch if I'm too scared to go up Chinscraper".  So two weeks later I made the trek again and this time forced myself up.  Since then, I've been up that face dozens to times, to the point where I really don't even need to use my hands anymore, just walk up it.
Chinscraper is just one of the many obstacles that you need to overcome in order to complete the Wasatch 100.  Well, this past Friday I started the race for the 7th time, and for the 5th time managed to overcome the obstacles in my path and finish.  Here's the blow-by-blow.

Curtis, Ryan, Harrison and I at the start.   Photo: Lori Burlison



As I do every time I run Wasatch (or any other 100 mile race), I learned a lot.  Here's what I learned......ooops, you'll have to wait until the end to find out what I learned.
My training this year has been ok, nothing to write home about, but sufficient to at least be able to finish Wasatch (hopefully).  I've always had the goal of going under 30 hours for this race, and I thought that just maybe this year I might be able to do it.
I went into Wasatch with a few long runs, but nothing over about 32 miles.  I was hoping that would be good enough.  I did manage to recon the last section to check out the new finish.  I had a good run at El Vaquero Loco three weeks earlier, some good elevation and climbing.
Race start - 5am - temperature - 75 degrees.  Holy cow!  It's usually in the low 50's when the race starts.  This did not bode well for most of the runners.  I was perfectly happy with it.  It meant I didn't have to stand there and freeze waiting for the start.
Once we started, I kind of settled into the middle of the pack.  Since I kind of had a time goal, I did this on purpose so I wouldn't be tempted to go out too fast.  I've learned that going out too fast is not a good thing.  One consequence of ending up in the middle is that it can be hard to pass people that early in the race.  312 people going down a single track before the sun comes up means it can be a bit crowded.
So anyway, the first section to Francis Peak went pretty uneventfully.  Weather was gorgeous, I made it up Chinscraper at about the time I normally do (7:30am), chatted with some friends until the crowd thinned out a bit.  I tried something a bit different this year.  
Early morning view from 9500'. We started way down at the bottom

Normally I don't run with music, but thought running with music might help me focus a bit better.  Take away some of the outside distractions.  It actually worked.  Since I've run this race several times plus I train here, I really didn't see the need to take in the scenery during the race.  With the music on, I was able to focus my eyes ten feet in front of me and just go.
I arrived at Francis Peak (18.76 miles) about 9:28, fastest time is 9:20, goal time was 9:10.  I was already 20 minutes behind but I felt great, and figured I could make it up somewhere.  Here I tanked up on a dose of Ultragen (320 calories) and left the aid station with a rice and bean burrito (in my drop bag, another 320 calories).  Yep, 640 calories down the hatch.  Seems like a lot, but I've found that tanking up on food at the aid stations is key to a consistent race for me.  I don't eat a whole lot in between because I don't want to.
Next up was the section to Bountiful B.  Not a fan of this section.  Almost a bushwack in years past, steep climbs, just not fun.  Well, this year Ryan Lauck, along with some fellow runners have done a lot of trail work on this section.  Some of the trail was rerouted, brush cut back, a couple of switchbacks installed on the steeper portions.  In other words, it wasn't too bad.  So, I made it to Bountiful B (23.95 miles) at 10:52, fastest time was 10:42, my goal time was 10:30.  Well, I didn't really lose time, but I didn't make up any either.
The next section to Sessions Liftoff Aid (28.23 miles) is all dirt road or 4x4 trail.  Not difficult at all.  Nice views since you're mostly following a ridgeline at 8000'.  At Sessions I was still feeling really good.  Time in 11:55am, best time 11:41, goal time 11:25.  Ooh, now I'm 30 minutes down from my goal pace.  Still, I felt fine, I was happy, let's get it done.
Enjoying some ginger ale while Kelly tries to close my pack.  Photo:  Jo Agnew


By now, the day was starting to warm up, but I was fine.  So, keep going.  I knew the next section to Swallow Rocks would be exposed and getting towards the heat of the day.  Still, up to this point there had been a great breeze/wind to kind of fake us out into thinking it wasn't that warm.  Actually, across some of the ridges, it was very windy.
So, into Swallow Rocks aid (34.91 miles).  Last year I was feeling pretty rough by this point, stomach issues from my caffeine overload.  This year I was feeling pretty good.  Time in 1:45pm, best time 1:32, goal time 1:30.  Wow, I actually made up some time.  I'll take it.
I knew the next section to Big Mountain (39.40 miles) would be a cruiser, mostly downhill, not difficult at all.  So on I went.  I love it when I get close to Big Mountain, you can hear the volunteers and spectators blowing horns and cheering.  There's a lot of energy here.  One of the reason I like the Big Mountain station is that overall, I'm not a big fan of the first 39 miles of the course.  I think the last half is much prettier, and certainly more difficult.  So rolling into Big Mountain is kind of a milestone every year.
At Big Mountain I was met by some friends, Lindsay and Dan.  They got me my drop bag, filled my hydration pack with ice and water.  Once again, I had a dose of Ultragen and a rice and bean burrito, and to top it off, Lindsay had an ice.cold.PBR.  Now I don't know about you, but a very cold beer 39 miles into a race on a very hot day makes me very happy.  That so hit the spot.  I left Big Mountain with a smile on my face and 800 calories in my stomach.  Time in 2:49pm, fastest time 2:30pm, goal time 2:25.  Hmm, lost just a bit of time here.
Meanwhile, there was some serious carnage going on.  People were dropping out at Big Mountain like flies.  There was already talk of this being the highest DNF rate of any Wasatch.
Enjoying a lunch of burrito and PBR while being photobombed by a nordic goddess.  Photo: Dan Frey


The next section to Alexander Ridge (47.44 miles) is probably the least liked section by any Wasatch runner.  Hot, exposed, you run it in the middle of the day.  I didn't mind it too much today.  There was a nice wind, I felt great, yeah, it was hot, but it really wasn't bothering me too much.  I made sure I was drinking plenty and just ran under control.  It was through here that I took my one spill of the day.  As I was going downhill, my foot caught a root or rock and I did a slow motion fall.  Landed on my left hand and tucked and rolled.  The trail was steep enough that I did a complete somersault.  When I came to a halt, I had to think for a moment which way to go.  Then I remembered, downhill.  Still, no damage other than a couple of small scratches.  Time into Alexander Ridge 5:10pm, fastest time 4:31, goal time 4:25pm.  Lost a bit more time but still running well under my goal finishing time.
Now I had the section into Lamb's Canyon (53.13 miles).  Down, then up the pipeline right of way, make a turn, over the saddle, down the rail trail and into Lamb's.  Not hard.  Last year I really had a bad time through here.  My stomach was churning, I couldn't eat anything, I was in shuffle/death march mode.  This year I was in much better shape.  Yeah, I was kind of tired and sore, but the good attitude was still there.  I was still having fun.  I also knew that at Lamb's I would pick up Alicia, my first pacer.  I got into Lamb's feeling pretty good.  Tired, but good.  A lot of the people just hanging out knew who I was and it was fun to hear them cheer me on.  I also saw a lot of other runners that I knew while I was there.  Britta, Nick, Missy, Jeremy were all there to greet me and wait on me hand and foot.  I tried to get through there as quickly as possible.  Drank my Ultragen, had some soup, recounted what had happened to that point, and heard about various friends' progress/dnf's.  Time in 6:44pm, fastest time 6:05pm, goal time 6:10pm.  Still down some time, but not really losing any more.
Next section was from Lamb's to Upper Big Water (61.68 miles).  I kind of like this section.  Most of it you do at a walk/power hike because it's mostly uphill, but I felt good enough to try running some of it.  Alicia and I took off up the road.  I tried running a couple of sections, but found that I was doing better walking as fast as I could.  After a mile, you turn and head up the trail.  As we were hiking up the trail, Bj, one of our friends comes bounding down.  He wasn't running it this year and was just out to see who he could see on the trail.  He turned and headed back up with us.  Meanwhile, I felt really good and my climbing skills were on.  I power hiked up that trail faster than I ever have.  I was pulling away from my pacer.  When I got to the top, I figured I had better dig out my headlamp because it would be dark by the time I got to Elbow Fork at the bottom of the trail.  As I was doing that Alicia caught back up and we headed down together.  My goal every year is to get to the top of Bear Ass Pass before dark, and hopefully before the sun goes down.  I had only accomplished that once before.  Mission accomplished this year.  When I got to the bottom of the trail at Millcreek road, I saw Lori and Bj.  Lori had to take a picture of the two of us and Bj had a beer in his hand.  I took his beer and finished it for him (there wasn't much left, probably all  backwash anyway), then headed up Millcreek road.  The grade on this road is a little less and I was able to run probably a third to half of the three miles, something I have never done in the past.  I felt great.  Alicia and I got into Upper Big Water at 9:27pm, fastest time 8:53pm, goal time 8:45pm.
We got out of Upper Big Water as fast as we could and headed up the trail over the next section to Desolation Lake.  I love running this section during the day.  One of the prettiest parts of the course.  Unfortunately, unless you're really fast, most of us will go through here at night.  My plan at Deso is to always get out of there as quickly as possible.  They always have a roaring fire, it's usually cold, and that fire can suck you in.  Get in, get out.  so we did, and headed up even higher to Scott's Pass.  Time into Deso 11:35pm, fastest time 11:08pm, goal time 11:00pm.  Hey, I made up some serious time on this section and didn't think I had.  Credit that to my pacer for keeping me on task.
We left Deso, headed up Red Lover's Ridge, passed a number of other runners, got passed by some.  Alicia and I were trotting along the ridgeline and we saw a bright green flashlight in the distance.  Well, there's only one person I know that has one of those and that's Davy Crockett.  He was up there going back and forth on the trial just waiting for the runner he was pacing to come along.  Meanwhile, helping out other runners and just hanging out having a good time.  Usually going across this ridge is pretty windy and can be very cold.  This year there was a slight breeze and I think the temp was well into the 50's.  Very pleasant indeed (at least for me).  We spent about two minutes at Scott's then headed out and down to Brighton.  Time into Scott's 1:02am, fastest time 12:35am, goal time 12:15am.  Fell off the pace a bit.
From Scott's we dropped from 10,000' down to Brighton (75.61 miles) ski area at 8900'.  This section has a few miles of pavement and I'm sorry, but it makes your feet hurt.  I tried to run as much of it as I could.  As we were making our way up the last bit of road to Molly Green's (where the aid station was) an ambulance passed us.  I heard later from the aid station captain that a 32 year old runner had a heart attack.  I have no idea if he's ok, but I assume so since I didn't hear of anyone dying on the course.  Brighton is where Alicia ended her pacing duties and I picked up Breein as my pacer to the finish.  At Brighton I always look forward to the scrambled eggs with hot sauce.  For some reason, after running 75 miles, scrambled eggs at 2am sound really good, and they were.  I had two plates and Breein and I headed out the door to Ant Knoll's aid station.
The trek to Ant Knolls (80.27 miles) involves a 1600' climb to the highest point on the course at 10,000'.  This is where I always have issues, usually with my breathing.  The first time I finished Wasatch, I had some serious exercise induced asthma from here to the finish.  This year I didn't have any breathing issues, but it was kind of slow going.  It's a tough climb, followed by a tougher descent to Ant Knolls.  The descent is very technical, rocky, and has been really chewed up over the years by motorcycles.  Really hard on quads and feet that hurt.  Anyway, when we reached Point Supreme (the high point), we stopped, turned off our headlamps and just looked at the sky and listened.  There was no breeze at all.  It was so quiet and still that you absolutely couldn't hear a thing.  I love those times, peaceful, relaxing.  Moments like this make me realize why I do this.  Anyway, we got into Ant Knolls, and as usual they had pancakes and sausage.  Awesome stuff.  Ate a pancake and a couple sausages, and got out of there.  Time into Ant Knolls 4:32 am, previous fastest time 5:52am, goal time 3:30 am.  Hmm, not good, losing some time, but I had a slow spot through here.  I knew once I got some more food in me I would speed up a bit.
Now I had the section to Pole Line Pass 83.39 miles) aid to negotiate.  This involves a short 700' climb called the grunt.  It does make you grunt.  I don't like it at all.  The reward after that is a mostly downhill run into Pole Line Pass aid station.  Keep in mind that I've never made it to Pole Line in the dark.  The sun is always up by the time I get there.  This year, the sun was anywhere near coming up.  I got in there at 5:58 am, previous fastest time 6:58 am, goal time 4:30 am.  
At this point a sub-30 hour finish was cutting it close, but I still had a chance if I really pushed to the finish.  But I knew that there were a couple of very difficult sections ahead of me, the Dive and the Plunge, plus the Seven Hills of Babylon.  All three of those sections are a nightmare after 90 miles.  Still, we pressed on.  We rounded Mill Canyon Peak in time to see the sun come up on Mt. Timpanogos.  
Mt. Timpanogos in the early morning light.

That's always a gorgeous sight.  As we were moving along, I was giving Breein, my pacer, a running (pun intended) commentary of the course, as she had never been on it before.  Before long, we were at the top of the Dive.  For those unfamiliar, this is a 700' plunge down an avalanche chute in about a half mile.  The trail is v-shaped, extremely rocky (think loose rocks from golf ball to bowling ball sized) and on fresh legs it's hard to negotiate, let alone after 90 miles.  Somehow I made it down without killing myself.  After a short little section of "normal" trail, we hit the top of the Plunge.  Once again, about 700' of descent in about a half mile, but this one isn't quite as bad.  Made it down that one ok.  Now we had the Seven Hills of Babylon to go through.  This is a section of the trail that crosses several drainages, so think short ups and downs.  The ups can be steep as well.  Once past that, it was a nice cruise down Pot Bottom canyon to the aid station.  Thank goodness that eight mile stretch was done.  Time into Pot Bottom, 9:24am, previous best time, 10:47am, goal time 8:00am.  Getting in there at almost 9:30 meant that I had to run the remaining ~7 miles in 90 minutes.  Not hard on fresh legs, especially since it was mostly downhill and dirt road.  We got in and out of Pot Bottom as fast as we could and I took off down the road.  I felt like I was really running fast, but in reality probably wasn't breaking 9 minute miles.  We ran solid to the final climb, a short 400' ascent to the last aid station.  I didn't bother stopping there at all, I yelled "27 in and out" and kept going.  Since I'm an Engineer, I'm always doing math in my head.  My math was telling me that the sub-30 hour time was slipping away, but I wasn't going down without a fight.  We kept up the running as hard as I could.  Every once in awhile, I would have to walk for about 15-30 seconds just to catch my breath, then back at it.  In the distance we could see the finish line.  So close yet still so far away and the clock was ticking.  We hit that last section of pavement, 1.2 miles to the finish, all flat except the final couple hundred yards.  I was really pushing now.  Just before we turned off the road and on to the grass, I looked at my watch, the time was 11:00am exactly.  I knew that according to my watch, we had started at 4:58am, so the sub-30 was gone.  When I saw that, I told my pacer, that's it, let's walk.  So we cruised it across the grass and across the finish line.

Aftermath-

No sub-30 hour this year.  My final time was 30:06.  My place was 72nd out of 312 starters.  10th in my age group out of 40.  Not too bad for Brody and Savannah's grandpa.  I'll take it.  I'm very happy with my time, it's 2:15 faster than I have ever run Wasatch.

Many thanks to my wonderful wife Karen for putting up with my silly hobby.  I called her when I was still about three miles out and she was panicking about getting to the finish line in time.  She made it and greeted me with my usual kiss and beer.

Many thanks to Alicia and Breein, my wonderful pacers.  I couldn't ask for better help during the race.  Thanks ladies.  I owe you both big time. 

Many thanks also to my ad hoc crew.  Lindsay and Dan at Big Mountain, Britta, Nick, Jeremy, Missy at Lamb's.  You guys rock.

Last of all, I had a blast this year.  I have to say I probably enjoyed this Wasatch more than the others.
I gots me some dirty legs

Things I learned this year running Wasatch:
1.  Attitude is key.  Without the right attitude, you aren't going to have a chance of finishing (duh, pretty obvious if you ask me).
2.  Having a beer at some point during the race makes you happy and helps your attitude.  See above.
3.  I have some awesome friends.
4.  Heat doesn't bother me nearly as much as it bothers most runners.  Heat training is key for a race like this.  The heat on Saturday morning descending into the finish at Soldier Hollow bothered me more than the previous day running through the mountains.
5.  Consistent fueling and drinking results in a consistent race.  I never bonked, never had a down period.  There was one time when I was a bit slower, but once I got fueled up again, I was good to go.
6.  You can push beyond what you think you are capable of.  You can ignore pain to a large part.
8.  Frightened Rabbit puts out some pretty good running music.  Wish I had more of their stuff.
9.  There really does come a point where the pain really doesn't get any worse, you just get more tired.  Don't confuse the two.
10. Get in and out of the damn aid stations faster.  I added up my aid station time this year.  It was 112 minutes.  Way, way, way too much.  There was my six minutes of lost time.  I didn't need to run faster, I needed to get off my butt.  There's no reason why I can't cut at least 60 minutes off that time.
11. Take care of blisters early.  I usually don't have a problem with blisters, but this year I felt a hot spot on my achilles at mile four.  I put a bandaid on it right away and it never bothered me until after the race and I took my socks off.  then I got kinda grossed out.
Yeah, it kinda hurts

Miles traveled - 100
Time-30:06
Elevation gained-26000'+
Water drank-somewhere around three gallons
Calories burned-12,000-15,000
Calories eaten-6,000-7,000










Runner Number: 27 - James Skaggs Finished at 11:06 with an Elasped Time of 30:06

Aid StationDistanceAltitudeTime-InTime-Out
East Mountain Wilderness Park0 mi.4880 feet05:00
Francis Peak18.76 mi.7500 feet09:2809:34
Bountiful B23.95 mi.8160 feet10:5210:58
Sessions Lift Off28.23 mi.8320 feet11:5511:59
Swallow Rocks34.91 mi.8320 feet13:4513:50
Big Mountain39.4 mi.7420 feet14:4915:06
Alexander Ridge47.44 mi.6160 feet17:1017:17
Lambs Canyon53.13 mi.6100 feet18:4418:59
Millcreek61.68 mi.7660 feet21:2721:46
Desolation Lake66.93 mi.9170 feet23:3523:43
Scotts Pass70.79 mi.9910 feet01:0201:04
Brighton Lodge75.61 mi.8790 feet02:1302:32
Ant Knolls80.27 mi.9000 feet04:3204:39
Poll Line Pass83.39 mi.8925 feet05:5806:05
Pot Bottom91.98 mi.7385 feet09:2409:26
Staton Cut-off94.69 mi.7114 feet10:0210:02
Soldier Hollow100 mi.5530 feet


11:06
I love these signs that Lindsay Lauck made for Ryan.