Thursday, December 31, 2009


I'm super stoked to be heading into another year as a member of Team Montrail. As I've said numerous times throughout this year, the Mountain Masochist is the best shoe I have ever worn. I've pretty much stopped wearing anything else. I think it's been more than two months since I ran a step in any other shoe. The good news is that the Mountain Masochist will be back in '10 exactly the same as '09. That means another year of very happy feet for me. I'm also excited to try out some of the new models that will be available in 2010 and beyond. Keep an eye on the Montrail website for news about that. Montrail has also created a new and improved team blog that you can check out here. Also keep an eye on the blog for an announcement about a couple exciting new additions to team Montrail in 2010. Expect that news sometime in the next week.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking Ahead

I've been laying really low with my running since The North Face race at the beginning of the month. Only been getting out running about 2 or 3 days a week. The break has been nice but I find myself beginning to get the bug to get back out on longer runs and to get back out more often.

This has also got me thinking more about my running plans for 2010. All I know right now is that I want to spend even more time in the mountains next year than I ever have before, that I only want to run races that I have never run before, and that I will be running Western States on June 26th. Other than those three things everything else is up in the air. I'm really excited to find out where these things take me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thinking Back

2009 has been a very dynamic year for me. My life feels like it has changed more than in any other year of the 32 previous years I have lived. My running has also changed more this year than ever before. There were a lot of stressful times for me this year. There were times when I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. I felt this not only in my personal life but also in my running. In a year with so much running success it's been pretty crazy to have as much uncertainty, anxiety, and doubts as I have had. There has been a lot of up and a lot of down for me this year. Overall though the up has far outweighed the down and through it all I was able to run 6 shockingly successful races, perhaps the 6 best races I have ever run. Maybe my running was fueled by so much drama and stress. Or maybe when I find more stability in my life in 2010 (yeah, like that's actually going to happen) I'll have even a better year of racing.

At any rate, I thought it would be fun to do a poll of my best race of '09. I had 6 really good ones but I'm curious to see what readers of this blog think was my best. Check out the sidebar for the poll.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sweet Defeat

Some thoughts about yesterday's race:

I finished 2nd in a time of 6:40:53, about 8 minutes faster than the previous course record. Uli Steidl won the race in a time of 6:33 and change!

Uli ran away with the race coming out of the aid station at mile 39. To that point he and I had run within a few hundred feet of each other the entire way. From about mile 14 on we were separated from the rest of the field. In that 25 mile span from mile 14 to mile 39 we were never more than 10 feet apart. We took turns in the lead and most of the time I felt like we were connected such that we couldn't separate if we wanted to. It felt like we were literally dragging each other down the trail with a 5 foot rope holding us together. We both took the same amount of time at aid stations and we both seemed to be running with the same strengths, that is to say fast on the uphills, fast on the flats, and fast on the downhills. I had assumed that Uli was not that fast on more technical trail, being that most of his racing in the past few years has been on roads. That was definitely the wrong assumption. We ran the technical downhill after PanToll (mile 30) about as fast as one could possible imagine and I couldn't even hear him behind me. He just seemed to hover along a few inches off the ground. For most of the run we hardly talked at all but I felt like we were communicating so much just from sharing the same experience so closely. I felt so focused on moving forward in conjunction with Uli that there almost seemed to be no space in my mind for words. Because of this the times we did speak seemed really significant and almost shocking at times. Simple one sentence statements seemed like profound thesis at the time, because they tended to speak also of the previous 30 minutes of silence. Each word seemed to convey a thousand thoughts. I don't think I have ever felt as tuned in to another runner during a race.

Eventually my body broke down. I made up my mind at around mile 20 that I was going to stay with Uli as long as I could. I wasn't going to fade back slowly to improve my chances of staying strong and thus remain more likely to maintain 2nd place. I was running to win and the only way I was going to be able to do that was staying right there with him. I was not going to let him out of my sight unless I had no physical ability left to keep him there. For several miles (around mile 28-35) I even felt a confidence that I might be able to be the one to pull away from him on one of the difficult climbs in the last 10 miles of the race.

It wasn't meant to be for me though. When my strength began to waver on the climb up out of Muir Beach (mile 39) he was gone out of sight almost immediately. It felt weird to be right there with him for so long and then suddenly he was long gone. I kind of liked the quickness of it all though. I was able to just let him go in my mind and begin to instantly focus on getting my situation corrected. My legs were cramping and I was short on calories. I walked uphill and rubbed my cramping quads, drank lots of fluid, and ate as many calories as I could stomach. Gradually life came back to my physical body and I was able to finish strong.

It would have been nice to win, but it was an absolute honor to share that experience with Uli and I am completely humbled by the race he ran. For 39 miles I was able to push my body to a limit just slightly below collapse. Uli was able to convince his body to stay at that limit for the full 50 miles. I know that my name has been thrown around by some people for Ultrarunning performance of the year (either for HURT, Wasatch, or Mountain Masochist), but Uli's run yesterday was without question a more impressive performance than what I did in any of these races. It was the most impressive running performance I have ever seen in person, replacing what Dave Mackey did at Miwok '08.

It might sound strange but this may have been my most satisfying race of '09. My body failed me before the finish, but my mind dealt with this failure in such a healthy and satisfying way. I had a deeply satisfying and connected experience running with Uli all day. And probably most satisfying of all was that I got to share this race with some of the most important people in my life. I had 8 people that I love dearly there with me at the finish. People that came from all over the continent and made my experience more complete than it ever could have been otherwise.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Going Back To Cali

Hopping on a jet plane tomorrow to head down to San Francisco for the North Face race. I have so many mixed feelings about this one. I have run 3 races on these Marin trails and in some ways they have all been bad races for me. But I have also found a lot of good in these races and feel like I have learned what I need to have a good race down there. I know that I can run a lot faster on these trails then I have previously, but I also know that there are at least 4 other guys in this race who can also run faster on these trails than any of my previous efforts. It should be fun to see how it shakes out.

As a racer there really isn't anything more intense than running against the best runners your sport has to offer and knowing that you do have a chance to win that battle. I know I am not likely to win. I think most folks (and with good reason) are picking Dave Mackey or Uli Steidl for the win, but I am excited to go down south and try to make the unlikely happen. I really don't have anything to lose by running with the intention of being the first one to cross the finish line.