Friday, August 29, 2008


It's not everyday that someone who you see in front of their house on your bike ride to work gets chosen as a vice presidential candidate. Weird.

It's funny watching CNN "breaking" this story. They didn't even know how to pronounce her name for the first 30 minutes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Starting To Come Around

I'm finally starting to feel my body coming back to normal at higher elevations. For the first several days here in Utah my resting heart rate was always over 50, but last night I slept at about 8,000 feet and my resting heart rate was about 45. This is still higher than my normal rate of about 38-42 but the downward trend is certainly a good thing. I still felt really weak on my short trail recon. run yesterday but that likely had more to do with the 50 miles I did in the previous two days than the altitude. I've also had a slight tweak in my lower right calf muscle for the past couple days so I'm planning to really take it easy between now and race day to be sure I'm ready to tackle this beast.

I've got about half of the route scouted. Will try to scout the other half, but at this point I'm going to be more focused on having my body rested and strong by next Saturday. If I haven't seen some of the first part of the route it'll be nice to have a little surprise anyway. We'll see, but more than anything right now I'm just going to focus on resting when my body says rest, with enough activity mixed in to keep me loose.

I've also decided that I'm going to use a pacer. After seeing half of the route I realize that I'm going to want (or need) every advantage possible just to finish, especially in the time that I would like to. That's not to say that I have a specific time goal, but I do want to run as fast as possible. If things go well, this should put me somewhere near the top runners in this race. Running such a difficult route at such a high pace will greatly increase my chances of not finishing (as compared to running it solely to finish). Having a pacer out there for several hours will greatly increase my ability to continue on in the later stages of the race when things are likely to get really low at times.

Anyhow, time to get back up into the mountains.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wasatch Is Going To Be Kind Of Hard

I've gotten a couple of great Wasatch Course scouting runs in the past 2 days but I definitely need more time to get used to the heat and altitude. I feel pretty wasted tonight from 30 miles today. I ran the last 25 miles of the route from Brighton to The Homestead and then 5 miles from there to my friend's house in Heber. I basically have no ability to run anything uphill right now without my heart rate jumping way too high. I've only been in Utah for 5 days and I've got 11 more until race day so I'm really hoping my body's dealing a lot better with the altitude by then. Yesterday I ran from Brighton back toward Mill Creek as an out and back. That gives me the last 35 miles of the route covered in 24 hours (my run yesterday was in the evening), and about 50 total miles (10 extra doubling back yesterday and 5 extra getting down to Heber today). I guess it makes sense that I'm kind of tired tonight. Tomorrow and Wednesday I'll try to scout everything from Big Mountain over to Dog Lake where I turned around on my run last night. At that point I'll have the last 60 miles of the course under my belt and should be able to comfortably cover the first 40 by early next week (as long as I can arrange transportation so I can cover a decent amount of this mileage without doubling back - unfortunatly my bike is still being shipped down from Alaska so I don't yet have the option of shuttling myself with my bike).

Friday, August 22, 2008

Three Peaks, A Ridge, And Two Flights...

... And now I'm in Utah. Two weeks to acclimatize before the Wasatch 100.

Wednesday was my last day in Juneau for at least 2 months. I had the day off from work and the weather was perfect... one of the only nice days in Juneau all summer.

Sometime last week I started to think about wanting to run an epic all day run my last day in Juneau. When the weather turned out so nice I went for it. I climbed 3 peaks over 3,500 feet (dropping to sea-level between each one), about 42 miles total distance, with at least 12,000 ft. of total climbing/descending. In all I was out for almost 11 hours.

It was probably the most difficult training run I've ever done, but I felt really strong. A little quad soreness today but nothing too drastic.

After the run I had just enough time to get some dinner, say bye to friends, and hop on a 1:00am flight down here to Utah. Only got about 4 hours of sleep that night so by the time I finally went to sleep last night I was very pleased to sleep for almost 10 hours and lounge around lazily this morning.

Tomorrow I will begin my Wasatch 100 trail recon. I'll probably only run about 130 total miles between now and the race so I'm going to try to make most, if not all of these miles on the actual race route. If I'm able to set up some shuttles, or maybe shuttle myself with my bike once it arrives down here via Fedex from Alaska, maybe I can even cover the entire route before raceday. That would be nice, but more importantly will be spending lots of time up in the mountains getting used to the heat, elevation, and dryness of this area in relation to Juneau. Two weeks isn't really enough time to get myself all the way adjusted, but it's all the time I have so it's going to have to work.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Windfall Lake Trail Race

I ran in my 5th race in the last 29 days yesterday. This one was a 14 miler here in Juneau on a very rugged trail. Not a lot of climbing but lots of very slippery planks, mud, roots, and overgrown trail.

I showed up to the race 3 minutes after everyone started. Oops. I finally got going about 5 minutes behind and ran pretty mellow for about 25 minutes, chatting with some of the other racers as I caught up to them. As the route began to climb a bit I began to push myself a little harder and as I passed more and more racers I got a little more motivated to see how many I could catch.

I caught up with the guys running in 2nd-5th places with about 4 miles to go in the race. None of them seemed to know how far ahead the leader was but they all seemed to be encouraging me to chase after him. So I went for it. Never caught him though... finished about 4:00 back. Hungout for a bit and then ran the route back to my car to get a good distance day in.

I felt surprisingly worn out after just 28 miles. Recovered quickly and have no leftover fatigue today, but yesterday afternoon I was just plain exhausted. I've actually felt a bit like that by the end of each day this week. Not sure if I'm getting some delayed fatigue from my 100 miler last week or maybe I've been fighting off a sickness or something. At any rate, I plan to monitor how I feel here in the next few days and push myself accordingly. I want to get some serious climbing workouts in between now and Wasatch, but if my body is telling me to take it easy then I'm going to have to take it easy.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Media Tidbit

Good story in The Anchorage Daily News about my Resurrection Pass run last week:

It's nice when a reporter takes the time to get it right. Thanks Doyle.

Friday, August 15, 2008

2009 Beginning To Take Shape

I've made the starting list for the H.U.R.T. 100 in January!

And it looks like there's going to be plenty of top competition.

Should be a great tune up race to get ready for The Iditarod Invitational.

Not to mention my first ever trip to Hawaii!!!!

I can't wait.

More to follow soon on my racing plans for '09...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Resurrection Pass 100 Race Report

I was very disappointed with my last 24 hours leading up to this race. I didn't eat enough Thursday night or Friday morning and I didn't sleep all that well Thursday night. I actually felt pretty crappy for most of the last 3 hours leading up to the 3pm start time. I felt hungry but had no appetite and I had a constant headache most of that day. This is not the way you want to start a 100 mile race but I knew I'd be running a slow enough pace that it would be possible for me to eat well, hydrate well, and maybe feel better as I went. Luckily this was exactly what happened.

There were only 5 of us who toed the line for this one. This is a very informal race so I wasn't too surprised at the small turnout but it would have been nice to have a few more people to run with.

Luckily the group we had were all really fun people to run with and all looking for a similar pace at the start, except for Elisio Marquez (former course record holder who I think has finished this race every year it has been held) who I learned always likes to go out really fast, which is just what he did. I fell into a rhythm running with Jeff Ardnt (last year's winner and course record holder), Dave Johnston (very experienced marathoner and ultra marathoner up to 100k, looking to complete his first 100 mile), and Evan Hone (also experienced at shorter ultras/marathons, and also looking for his first 100 mile finish).

Jeff and Dave had run the first half of this race a few weeks back as a training run in 9 hours. They both felt great on that run and thought they'd try to do the first half in about 9 hours again and then see what they could do coming back. That sounded perfect to me so I did my best to stay with them, even though I felt at times like I really was not going to be able to keep going that slow for too much longer. I did my best though to stay disciplined about a conservative pace and tried to focus on my nutrition/hydration.

At about 3.5 hours things really started to click. I finally was getting enough food in me that my headaches and hunger went away. Right around this time I also began to feel more comfortable with such a slow pace. I actually began to think that just maybe I could continue to run this conservative for the whole race. And all the while I kept eating (at least 300 calories per hour) really well (mostly perpetuem and powergel, but also some solid foods), and hydrating really well. At about 4 hours I began to pull away from the other 4 runners (we had all caught up to Elisio at about mile 20). I don't think I sped up at that time, perhaps a bit, but I think they slowed down a little bit, because as I learned later none of them were feeling very good.

Just before the pass I came upon Anne Ver Hoef who had come up the shorter Devil's Pass Trail and filtered a bunch of water which she was then providing us as we came through. All told she must have put in about a 40 mile day and then only had a few hours to sleep before needing to get back up to run the aid station at mile 88. She's running the Bear 100 next month so this was just another day of training for her. It was nice to talk to a familiar face for a bit because I knew this would likely be the last person I'd see out on the trail for the rest of the race. Those of you who don't know Anne may remember her as the "woman who got frostbite on her eyes in the Ultrasport." The crazy thing though is that she's planning to go back out there again this winter. In my book that's really bad ass. I don't know if I'd be tough enough to head back out there if I'd been through a similar experience.

Anyway, back to my race. I crossed over the actual pass (about mile 32) in about 5:15. From here it was mostly downhill to the mile 50 turnaround. This was the worst part of the race for me. My lower legs had been kind of achy all day and on the downhills the fatigue began to get much more noticeable. Nightfall was also setting in and I was just kind of bored and in a rut for most of that stretch from the pass down to Cooper Landing. There was even a moment in there when I was thinking I'd just call it a day at the mile 50 aid station. I knew I could turn back and retrace my steps fairly comfortably but I was doubting for awhile whether I wanted to or not. It's always harder to stay motivated in a "training" race and this was simply a low point for me that I seemed to snap out of almost immediately when I got to the aid station.

I rolled in there at 8hrs 30mins, a bit faster than I'd planned but still very much a conservative time for me. I was in no hurry so I ate some soup, a piece of pizza, filled up my water, and gathered up the things I'd need to head back out for 38 miles until the next aid station.

As I headed back uphill and back into the wilderness I began to find my groove again. Here was the point one always likes to come to in a long race when time seemed to float by almost instantly. I would check my watch expecting to find 20 minutes gone by, but in fact it was an hour or more. I maintained this well beyond the pass and beginning back down the other side.
There were a few lowpoints in there but for the most part the second half of the race went pretty smoothly.

The toughest stretch of this course is a 4 mile steady uphill which begins with only 8 miles to go in the race. Last year in the 50 mile race this hill felt like hell. This weekend though it didn't even really feel like I was going uphill. I'm sure my pace slowed down a lot on this hill, but it didn't really feel like it.

When it was all said and done I had run the second half 10 minutes faster than the first half, had kept a very steady and conservative pace throughout the race, had eaten about 6,000 calories (a little more than 300 per hour), and had remained very well hydrated throughout. These were my primary goals on this run. The fact that I had also won by about 4 hours and broken the course record by over 3 hours, well those were just nice little side notes to a very successful run.

My recovery has also gone amazingly well. I ran 6 miles today and felt almost no lingering effects (a little bit of general fatigue but nothing too significant). I'm still planning to take a pretty mellow week, but I suspect I'll be feeling very fresh in just another day or two.

This all bodes very well for Wasatch which is now less than 4 weeks away. Time to get a little rest and then start getting some serious climbing mixed into my training.

Mission Accomplished

Ran a very comfortable 17:13 in the Resurrection Pass 100 this weekend. I did everything right. I ate well, hydrated well, and stuck to a very mellow pace. In the end I felt more like I had run for 2 hours rather than 17. The only significant fatigue I felt was due to not sleeping for 36 hours. As soon as I got some sleep I felt great. Today I feel pretty much fully recovered! I have never (until now) run an ultra and not had any soreness after. This is definitely a very good sign as to my fitness right now.

I'm still in Anchorage. Was supposed to get back to Juneau yesterday but my flight was cancelled due to a volcanic ash cloud. Maybe I'll write a little more about this run when I get home tonight. For now I've got to find a way to kill 6 more hours before the next flight down to Juneau. Hey, I know, I'll go for a run! Might be the only time I ever get a chance to go running the day after a 100 miler.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Slow, Slow, Slow

I don't know if it's possible to run a 100 mile race as a "training" run but I'm going to try this weekend. My hope is that I can run comfortably again by Tuesday at the latest. To achieve this I'm going to have to be smarter than I've been in my last few "training" races and not push myself too much, even if I'm feeling good. The problem is that I have a very hard time mentally going slow when I know I could be going faster without too much stress on my body. In a 3 or 4 hour race this isn't a problem but in a race that's likely to take me around 20 hours I really need to be disciplined or I will need to take a week off from running, which really wouldn't be too good for me right now.

Aside from being disciplined with my pace I'm really going to try to focus on my nutrition and hydration. Usually in a race like this I would end up running a deficit that I get back over the next couple days, but this weekend I'm going to attempt to take in as much water and calories as I'm burning/sweating. This will mean eating 7,000+ calories whereas in a normal 20 hours of racing I might take in 4,000 and then catch back up after the race. This time I don't want to have to catch back up after if I can avoid it.

Then of course there is the reality that at some point I'll just throw all this aside and start pushing myself to see how fast I can go... I just hope I can find a way to delay doing this until the last 10 or 20 miles. I wouldn't bet on it though.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

An Ultra Runner Reborn

A month ago I was still exhausted from my GDR attempt. I began running again exactly one month ago though. It felt pretty much horrible for a week but I just needed to suck it up and get started to get my legs back into running shape in time for The Wasatch 100 which is one month from tomorrow.

It's been an amazing month of training. I feel like a real endurance runner again. I still don't have much speed and even my climbing muscles only feel strong every third day or so, but I can now click off 100 miles a week and feel pretty much fresh everyday. I honestly felt one month ago like I was never going to get back to this point. Now I just need to find a way to keep feeling stronger everyday for another month and I'll have a shot at being in the best shape of my life for Wasatch.

I'm racing The Resurrection Pass 100 this weekend as a distance training run and then a 15 mile trail race next weekend as a speed/tempo workout and then I head to Utah on the 20th to acclimatize and get to know as much of the Wasatch course as possible before race day.

Although Wasatch is going to be my big race for the year I'm not going to take it too seriously. That is to say I'm not going to use any pacers and very limited crew, if any at all. I'm a lot more into doing these races on my own. I wish there were more races that didn't allow crew/pacers and had fewer aid stations. I think that navigation, nutrition, hydration, gear choices, etc. should be a major part of a 100 mile race and not something you can just rely on your "team" for. The unfortunate thing is that you're basically shooting yourself in the foot if you're trying to race against others who are using a full "team" while you're going at it alone. For now I'm happy to work with this disadvantage.

This whole season is more than anything an assessment for me. Last year was about learning how to run these races. This year has been about learning if I can be competitive (Miwok taught me that I can be, especially considering that I didn't even feel very good that day) and now how to be competitive in these races. And next year will be about putting together what I've learned and running to win. Obviously I'm not expecting to win every race I run next year (especially with the schedule I'm brainstorming right now - I likely won't win any of them), but whereas to this point I've lined up for each Ultra I've run just trying to have fun and learn some things about what I'm doing, next year I will be lining up to race; i.e. to win.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My First (and likely last) Marathon

I ran the Frank Maier Marathon this morning.

I am not a big fan of racing on roads, but I had no reason not to run. I was planning a 25-30 mile run today anyway, and the race start was about 200 feet from my front door. The race started at 7am and I rolled out of bed at 6:40. I wasn't even registered for the race yet so I only had time to throw a waffle in the toaster and head out the door.

At about 6:50 I walked up to the registration table chewing on my burnt waffle (why does a toaster set on #3 cook bread just right and burn the hell out of a waffle?) and asked to sign up. The conversation that unfolded was amusing:

registration lady #1: are you pre-registered?
me: nope
registration lady #2: have you run this race before?
me: nope
lady #1: have you run a marathon before?
me: nope
lady #2: are you ok, you look cold?
me: sorry I'm fine, I just woke up 5 minutes ago.
lady #1: did you train for this race?
me: a little bit.
lady #2 (in a half whisper to lady #1): make sure he signs the waiver.

I ran most of the first half really slow. Not much faster than long slow training pace. I think my first 8 or 9 miles were at about 7:20 pace. I got kind of bored with that and decided at about mile 12 that I would run the rest of the race as a tempo run rather than a long slow distance run. I went through the halfway point in 1:32 and finished in 2:49:59. I've got a little more speed than I suspected right now. I was surprised to bust out a 1:18 second half as comfortably as I was able to. I never felt like I pushed beyond a comfortable level and I have no fatigue beyond any standard 3 hour run. I doubt I will ever run a marathon as a focus race (at least not anytime soon), but today did make me a little more curious than I've ever been to see how fast I could do a marathon. With marathon specific training and a 100% race effort I think 2:30 would be pretty definite for me. How much faster I could go than that though is hard to say just based on this one "training" marathon.