Monday, July 30, 2012

Race Report for Speedgoat 50K

Mile 8

My training leading up to Speedgoat was stellar.  For the last two months we have been in the San Juan mountains of Colorado and my training has been exclusively in the high alpine.  My race at the San Juan Solstice 50 was a great stepping-stone to getting into great mountain running shape and I was very happy with my fitness going into the race. 
Tuesday night of the week of the race I woke up with a sore throat and by Wednesday I had a full on head cold.  Wednesday, I wasn’t optimistic that I would be racing, but still thought it wasn’t impossible to recover before the race.  Thursday I felt pretty weak but not terrible, so I decided to head to the race and see how it would work out.  Thursday night I didn’t sleep well and only got maybe 3 hours of sleep and my head cold was still there Friday morning, but my legs and energy levels felt reasonable and so I decided to give it a go. 

Hydration, Nutrition, Gear:
I raced with Ryder sunglasses, a visor, Injinji socks and Hoka Bondis.  For hydration I used my trusty 20oz Amphipod hand water bottle.   For nutrition I used Vitrago.  This race I further increased my calorie intake to nearly 400 calories per hour, which is double what I was able to do with EFS or GU.  My stomach felt fine the whole race and I never felt I was “bonking”.  I know taking in double the calories and furthermore, taking in double the calories of anyone else I know or race against, is a HUGE advantage.      

The pre-race was a serious social event.  We all sort of hung out and chatted for quite a bit before the race started, which wasn’t bad, but different.  Karl gave the go and we began up the mountain.  Just a few minutes into the race Ricky Gates and Killian were ahead, but had made a wrong turn and Anton and I directed them back the right way.  Over the next few miles Thomas Lorblanchet, Jason Loutit, Anton, James Bonnet, Jorge Maravillia, Dylan Bowman and Max King shuffled back and forth and stayed within visual range, but Ricky and Killian were out of site up front.  My body felt pretty good and I didn’t notice any terrible flatness, but I also didn’t feel outstanding either.  I kept things under control, but tried to make sure to keep the effort harder than a 50 mile effort, as most of my races are 50 miles, not 50k, in distance.
I forgot my racing watch (women’s basic running timex), so I was a little lost a few times on where I was in the race.   I did know the mileage at most of the aid stations.  Getting to the mile 8 summit seemed to take a long time and I’m not sure if that was a sign of me not feeling great or if it was just not having a watch.  At the summit, Ricky and Killian were long gone and James, Loutitt, Anton and Max were out of site.  I was running just behind Dylan and Lorblanchet coming to the summit in around 8th place.  I felt confident and was full of smiles for all the awesome fans at the peak.  It was really cool having some people out to watch the race supporting, cheering and just watching the athletes. 
The next few miles down from the summit were OK, but from about mile 10-14 I pretty much had a disaster.  The whole day I struggled on the down hills and on this down hill I was passed by close to 10 people.  I had no energy and I just wasn’t able to turn it on at all.  The wheels had come off and the fatigue from being sick was unavoidable.   Before the turn around for the out and back I made the decision that I was A) Going to just take it easy and jog and walk the rest of the course as a training run or B)Drop when I got back to the other side of the mountain.  I was 100% decided on this decision for at least 2 or 3 miles headed to the aid station at mile 15. 

At the turn around we started back up-hill and within just a few minutes I began to gain on the runners ahead of me.  All of a sudden, in just a couple miles, I was back in the top 10 and dropping or giving up on racing was out of my mind.  I was shocked.  About a thousand feet below the ridge I moved into 9th place with Bonnet just ahead of me and Dylan not far ahead either.  I passed Bonnet and then Dylan.  Dylan made the comment, “I suck at climbing” and I replied back that he absolutely does not and that we are just racing with the best climbers in the world today. 
Less than a mile from the summit I caught up to Anton where we caught and passed Lorblanchet and moved into 4th and 5th place.  I was feeling really good at this point, but shortly after passing Lorblanchet, Anton put a minute or two on me over the next few miles that I couldn’t cover (at around mile 20). 
I was very happy to be in 5th place and had certainly re-focused on racing after my earlier decision to totally give-up.  I have never had such a huge change of heart during a race before and have only once before ever decided to pretty much quit (DNF at Bandera this January).  Heading back downhill I lost a lot of ground to Lorblanchet, which was the trend the whole race.  My downhill running was just horrible.  On the way down to the final climb of the race, around mile 23 I think, I was passed by Lorblanchet and moved into sixth place.  On the last climb I really, really slowed and was moving at a crawl.  A kilometer from the top, Phillip Reiter passed me and gave me some words of encouragement, as it was obvious I was dying. 
I probably lost around 4-8 minutes in the last climb over a few miles.  I was miserable and the only thing that mattered to me was getting to the top and then finishing without being passed.  At the aid station at the summit I took the longest break I have ever taken during a race.  I drank two cups of water, filled my hand water bottle and nearly fell down in exhaustion.  I proceeded to use wet towels to soak my body with cold water and then finally started down the trail.  I needed a re-charge and break.  Needless to say the last 5 miles were rough.  I was dead set on not being passed on the finish descent.  I gave everything I had getting down.  I was grunting, hugging and puffing the whole way.  I played mind games where I would reward myself for getting down the trail.  My first rewards were drinks of water, then it was pouring water on my head, then pouring the remainder on my head and putting the bottle in my shorts and then finally taking off my shirt. 
My rewards were over and I still had another solid mile of endless back and forth switchbacks.  The grade was really mellow for the last few miles, which was in one way nice, but made the finish descent take forever. 

I finished 7th in 5:44 and change (less than a minute from the old course record) and accomplished my goal of not being passed on the final descent.  My legs are now ridiculously sore from the final descent, but it was worth it.  At the finish I was more exhausted than I have been at any other ultra race.  I forced my body to perform in a compromised state and I am proud of how well it did.  I certainly know being healthy for the race would have made a significant difference, but as it is with endurance athletics, there is always (or almost always) something, some factor, some excuse, some injury, change in training, a wrong turn, whatever, that isn’t as we wanted or planned.  I had a few firsts this race and it overall it was a magnificent journey. I am very happy with my result and more encouraged than ever on what I can do as a trail runner.

Karl really put on an awesome race.  Hanging out with friends, meeting new people and of course racing against many of the best in the world made for a fantastic weekend.              

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper Canada

Maggie and Felix Climbing the Largest Glacier South of the Arctic

Driving through Montana coming from Idaho we decided to drive through Missoula and make a quick visit to our good friends Tiffany and Jeremy Wolf.  On our stop I noticed our tire was going flat and that I could hear the hiss of the air coming out.  Too long a story, but we had the spare tire on as the other tire had a flat as well. The tire wasn’t patchable and we had to purchase new tires.  We ended up staying at the Wolf’s place and enjoying the comforts of a house for an evening and morning.  It was great to visit the Wolf's and get acquainted with our future home city.  
On the way to Banff National Park we stayed at a Provincial Park southwest of Banff on Premier Lake.  The mosquitoes were unbelievably thick, but the lake was unbelievably clear (you could see the bottom clearly 20’ below the dock) and beautiful.  I went for a rare evening run not sure if the trails would do much climbing or go for very long.  Ends up I found a trail that went by a few lakes then up to the ridge.  The geology in the Canadian Rockies and NW Montana is such that the base elevation in the mountains is relatively low ranging from 3,000-4,000 feet at the base of the peaks, but the mountains rise dramatically out of the earth to elevations as high as 12,000 feet.  The mountains of the Canadian Rockies are phenomenally beautiful, rocky, raw and sheer, making trails up the mountains crazy steep.  The trail I took, which simply lead to “saddle back” pass was the lowest point on the fairly mellow ridge line  (in comparison to the surrounding mountains).  I ended up climbing over 5,000 feet in 11 miles, boasting a climb of 4,300 feet in 4 miles. 
4,300 Feet in 4 Miles
  On the way back, I nearly ran into a mother black bear coming within 10 feet before noticing and backing up.  The bear had a baby cub the size of a raccoon that sprinted up a tree.  The mother bear stood up on her hind legs and made some snorting noises before turning around, calling her cub down the tree and then running off. 
Lake Louise

Banff and Lake Louise was phenomenal to see, but a bit too crowded and touristy.  Jasper National Park, further north and off the huge divided highway was more impressive and far less of a motor home and Asian tour buss bonanza.  The Canadian Rockies were/are experiencing flood stage level runoff, which made some of the hiking and running a little challenging, but also the rivers, creeks and waterfalls were that much more spectacular.  The Canadian Rockies are so amazingly raw and new.  The  river beds are starkly flat, dramatic and harsh.  The waterfalls often go down and over the most rugged, rocky terrain creating beautiful spectacles. 
Athabasca Glacier and Columbia Icefield

We spent a number of days camped just two miles down from the Athabasca Glacier and Columbia Icefield, the largest glacier and icefield outside the Artic Circle.  Seeing and hiking on the glaciers was a life experience.  Jasper has some of the most amazing mountains, rivers and glaciers I have ever seen, to include travels to the high alpine of Europe, and the mountains of Bolivia and Peru in South America. 
I’ve included a lot of pictures and they tell a much better story than words can.  This was a tough time to be attempting a taper for the Speedgoat 50k, but we are going to return to the area in August and I plan on doing a better job exploring this magic place. 

On the flip side, this area of Alberta and British Columbia have different ways of managing their public lands than the way Rocky Mountain States do.  Visiting Provincial Parks (sort of a state park and national forest combo) and National Parks in Canada is very expensive.  Entrance fees were $19 to the National Parks… per day.   The fee for camping in the NP was $27 in Banff and $19-25 in Jasper in addition to daily park fees.  Having a fire required a permit costing $8.80 per day.   Provincial Parks in BC and Alberta cost $21-$30 per night.  There were no “Forest Service Roads” in the Canadian Rockies, or at least on any of the roads we traveled.  The authorities were also very good at marking any possible public land access with “no camping” signs.  Bottom line, in addition to very limited access to public lands, free camping does not exist.  
Canadian Ground Squirrel 

Cattle Guard in Canada... Funny
The other discouraging thing about our visit in the National Parks in BC and Alberta was the deterioration of the trails and their access.  We spent nearly 4 hours one day in Jasper trying to find a hike and run longer than 2 kilometers.  Three trailheads marked on two different maps given to us at the visitor center no longer existed.  The next day I asked about the several trails that no longer existed and was told that they are no longer  maintained due to a lack of use.  This disappearing trail phenomena was just an instance at Jasper National Park, a place where the terrain is crazy steep, snowy and glaciated and remote, but still, something I don’t think would happen in the US Rockies.  I don't mean to assume trail access or the cost of being on public lands in the rest of the Canadian Rockies or Canada is like Jasper.  Regardless, we had a spectacular time and will return soon!
Cousin It Plants

We are in Bozeman Montana now and I unfortunately have a cold for the first time in over a year.  Hoping I feel better by race day Saturday.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A New Mountain Fitness

Over the last few weeks we have been enjoying life in the mountains around Telluride since we left Crested Butte.  Fully recovered from the San Juan Solstice 50 Mile, I have been getting into the mountains for longer adventurous runs.  The bear sighting count for the family continues to grow:

-2 bear sightings while driving
            -driving down Engineer Pass
            -on a dirt road 1/4 mile from our camp site in Teluride
-2 bear sightings while I have been running
            -just outside Silverton on a trail
            -coming down Dexter Creek outside of Ouray
-1 bear sighting hiking by Maggie also around Dexter Creek

Some of the best longer mountain runs I have ever done have taken place in the last few weeks:
-Point to Point 20ish mile run up Deep Creek trail by the Telluride airport, to Sneffels Highline trail, Mount Emma (13K), Virginia’s (on HR100 Course) to Kroger’s Canteen (13K) and down Tomboy Road into Telluride. 6,000ft Climbing

Mount Emma


Top O' Virginia's

Looking down to Tom Boy Road

Kroger's Canteen


-23 mile point to point run starting with a ride, aka cheat, up the free Gondola to See Forever trail to Wasatch Trail, Oscar’s Pass (on the HR100 course and where I left a message fro Joe and Dakota in the snow), down Bridal Veil basin, to Blue and Mud Lakes, off trail to a 13K ridge, to Black Bear Pass and down Black Bear to town. 6,500ft Climbing

Message in the snow to Dakota and Joe for HR100

This is a ridge (visible from town)  I have wanted to run for a while.... awesome.  

-16 mile run up Cross Mountain trail to Lizard Head trail, to a lake and scramble up Mount Wilson (14,246) in 1:59, down the same way in 3:42 with a 3 mile run to the camper on Galloping Goose after a hitch hike. 5,500ft Climbing
-19 mile run up Logan Peak via the trails of Snowbasin Ski Resort in UT.  4,600ft Climbing

I have done some of the most enjoyable mountain running of my life in the last couple weeks.  I’ve really converted over to slow mountain running/hiking in preparations for both Speedgoat and the Run Rabbit Run 100.  It feels good to have my body use to 3-6 hours of massive climbing above 9,000ft 3 to 4 times a week. 

Watching the Hard Rock 100, doing two days of trail work with Hard Rockers and then to volunteer at the Telluride aid station was an awesome opportunity.  Hard Rock is  unbelievably impressive and scary.  I want to do the race as soon as possible, but I am also very much scared.  I was so impressed by EVERY racer and honestly, more so for the back of the pack racers who kept going and finished in nearly two full days. 
As far as the top runners go, I was really expecting Dakota to run away with both the win but possibly the course record.  I haven’t gotten the scoop as far as Dakota’s take/race report.  By no means do I mean to take away from Hal’s and Joe’s phenomenal performances and 3rd and 4th fastest times ever.  Both Hal and Joe are amazing athletes and runners that really came up with amazing performances. 

We left the San Juan’s Saturday with a stop in Moab, UT and we are now in MT headed to Alberta/BC to visit Banff and Jasper National Parks before I race Speedgoat on the 28th of July. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Running Through the Mountains Around Telluride

Here is a video of me talking about Vitrago.  Vitargo has honestly been a huge enabler and improvement over any other fueling product I have used in the past.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Interview Video

Here is a little video my great friend Mike Devloo put together:

Mike is world traveler, engineer, adventurer and author.  Check out his blog and books.