Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chuckanut 50K Race Report

Fast Runners
It felt awesome to race Saturday.
I have been dealing with some negative energy since my DNF at the Bandera 100K in January and furthermore, I feel like I haven't had a good racing experience where I was well prepared and able to execute since last March at the USATF Nueces 50 Mile Championships.  After Nueces, I had to deploy to Iraq for 6 months with less than ideal training and no racing.  Once home, I jumped into The North Face 50 mile championships only weeks after returning from the desert and muscled my way through a race I wasn't well prepared for.

Everyone has challenges in training, rather it is a demanding job, having a family to take care of, injuries or sickness, but I am thankful to have had the opportunity to prepare properly for Chuckanut and then perform well. 
My goals for Chuckanut were to 1)Place in the top 5 2)If I felt great ultimately to place in the top 3 at this unbelievabaley stacked race. 

Check out the line-up that included the Ultra Runner of the Year for 2011, a world champion mountain runner, 2011 national ski mountaineering champion, two sub 2:20 marathoners, a dozen sube 2:30 marathon runners, etc...

On Friday before the race I drove to the airport and flew with Dave Mackey, we had a good time hanging out.  Mike, who graciously hosted me this weekend, and his family just moved into a beautiful house right on a lake in Anacortes with over 50 miles of epic trail access right in his backyard.  I had a great night and Zeffy, Mike's wife made some awesome homemade mexican food.

I slept relatively well and after a quick bite, Mike and I headed out to the race.  I did a little warm-up, something I don't do for Ultras, but with the first 10K of the race being at tempo pace, I needed to warm-up.  The weather in the Pacific Northwest was unseasonably cold and even wetter than normal.  At the start, it was raining and only in the upper 30s.  This would also be my first race in the Hoka EVOs and second run in the shoes period.     

As the gun went off and  we began our wet 10K tempo, things were feeling good.  I was happy to see no one, besides Jason Loutitt, felt the need to go much faster than 5:45 pace.  I ran part of the first 10K solo and some of it with Mike Wolfe, Max King, Adam Campbell and a few other people I don't know.

At the turn onto the climb and single track, Adam Campbell lead with me behind followed by Mike Wolfe, Max King and another guy.  Not long into the climb Dave Mackey, Tyler Olson and a few other joined the locomotive charging up the hills.  We quietly cruised along until we started to hit some snow and then Fragrance Lake.  At one point we caught a glimpse of Jason Louttit, but I think he put a surge in after we saw each other.   I had a few moments where I considered taking the lead, but I was rather enjoying being right behind the leader of the locomotive.

Then came the climb up the road.  Once we hit the road, Max and a few other fast marathon guys went and joined  Jason Louttit and gapped the rest of the train of trail ultra stars.  I picked up the pace and effort slightly, but knew it wasn't the right choice to cover the gap the roadies had put on us.

 From this point in the race, I ran without any contact besides seeing someone stopped at the aid station of Chinscraper, until I passed Jason Louttit with about 4 miles to go.  I find that I almost always run my races solo.  I think that I do best when I am not worried about people right in front of me or behind me. Being alone helps me tune into what pace is absolute best for me.  I believe one of my best strengths in ultra trail running is staying very comfortable for the first 85% of the race.
Adam leading the locomotive with me and Wolf following

The Chucky Ridge trail was indeed technical and awesome.  I enjoyed the scrambling across the classic  rooted, rocky and undulating trails of the pacific northwest.  With no one right on my heels or directly in front of me, I was able to focus on my line and keep the body in control.  I managed to have no falls the entire race, which was a bit luck and a lot of focus.  I was in 5th or 6th place from the road on.  

I felt great, but was beginning to get anxious for the "Chinscraper" climb at mile 20 and the following downhill and flat to the finish.  I was drinking most of my 20oz hand water bottle every hour and consuming my standard  1oz of First Endurance EFS every 30 minutes.  It is nice to have a system that works for hydration and nutrition that never results in dehydration, stomach issues or bonking.  Also nice is running with Hokas.  My legs and feet have never been hapier and healthier.   In particular, today the large surface area of the Hokas enabled me to not sink into the mud and slop as much as I would have wearing other shoes.  As I cruised in and saw the small crowd at the aid station at the base of chinscrper I saw another runner stop and not leave... looked like he was hurting, I moved into 4th place at this point.

After reading a few accounts of the runners ahead of me, spectator's accounts and even some pictures, I am pretty confident I made some time going up chinscraper.  I never walked or power hiked, but kept a faster cadence and ran the whole ascent.  At the top of Chinscraper, I think I was close to Jason Louttit, but never saw him.

Done with chinscraper, I was feeling great and was ready to put forth some fast running to finish up.  While I do remember reading Timothy Olson's race report from last year and how he felt many killed there legs on the descent back to the flat trail, I didn't realize the long down hill was all smooth road.

Not long before the left turn Max King and Sage Canaday missed, I began to get repeat warnings about the upcoming left turn.  I had a feeling someone had made a mistake and probably had to turn around.  I also realized I was very close or now in front of those who made the mistake.  Making my way down after the turn I was told I was in second place.  I nearly harassed the individual that they were wrong and that I was in 4th, but then the wrong turn came back to mind.  I got confirmation from Bryon Powell at the turn to the flat trail section that I was in second and not far back off the leader, who was Jason Louttit.

I was motivated, excited and feeling pretty good.  I have never really memorized race maps and all the turns involved in an ultra, as I am not the best at navigation and memorization. I recalled that there was about 10k of fast smooth trail at the end of this race, but for some stupid reason I thought that 10K measurement was taken before the final turn and that I only had maybe 4 miles to go once I made the final turn.  This underestimation of distance to go to the finish would hurt me later.

On some of the longer straightaways, I could see Jason Louttit in front of me and I started to build confidence that I could catch and pass him.  It is so much better to be the one chasing, than the other way around, at least for me it is.  I caught Jason Louttit with around 4 miles to go.  Jason was really cool and actually gave me a high-five, which means a lot to me.  Once past Jason, I began to get emotional as the idea that I was leading with very little to go with no sign of someone who was going to pass me.  I made a point of never looking back the whole race, as looking back and seeing someone throws me off my game and potentially motivates the person behind me.

3 miles to go, in the lead and holding pace, I was becoming desperate for the finish.  I wasn't slowing, but I was certainly doing everything to finish strong and couldn't run any faster.  Shortly after 3 miles to go I heard the dreadfull footsteps... Adam Campbell was passing me.  I was surprised and couldn't field Adam's move and I was ready to be done.  I put the chin down and gave it all I had to keep the gap small and to prevent other guys from passing me.  With around 1.5 miles to go I was at the end of my rope and heard the footsteps again.  This time I reacted and kept in front of the challenger, Sage Canaday.  As we crossed a wooden bridge, Sage totally slipped and crashed off the end of the bridge (at the same place Adam Campbell did as well, I later found out).  I looked back at Sage and asked if he was OK and he said he was and slowly got up.  This fall didn't stop Sage and I couldn't field his attack, he passe with not much more than a mile to go.  Needless to say, I was huring physically and was bummed mentally to lose the lead so late.  Not being familar with the finish was mentally draining, but the end came and I sprinted in to get under the 3:50 (3:49:58) mark.  Adam finished just 63 seconds in front of me and Sage 31 seconds ahead. 

Again, I had a fantastic day racing, met my goals, posted the 7th fastest time all time at Chuckanut and I am very happy with the results.  The trails were awesome, the competitiors were classy and the race as a whole was wonderful.  I am excited in moving forward with this result and this first real race of the season.  It feels wonderful to have a solid race performance under the belt.  I am excited to see many of the competitiors from Saturday at a number of the races on my calendar this year.  Just over a month to Leona Divide 50 Mile and I feel confident I will be able to have another great experience out there in California. 

Weekly Summary

Monday 8M
Tuesday 7M
Wednesday 7M
Thursday 6M
Friday 4.5M
Saturday 32M
Sunday 6.5M

71 Miles For the Week

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekly Summary 5 - 11 March

Timoth Olson, Me and Anton

Monday "Chautauqua Tour with the Pear Izumies"- 8.58M, 1:36, 2,500Ft Climbing;
Met up with Anton and Scott Jurek to give Timmothy Olson, Dylan Bowman and Ian Torrence on a tour de Chautauqua.  Ran up the front side of on a Anton route that landed us on the top of the ridge connecting the two "flatties".  The run was of course steep and "techie" as Anton loves (I love it too).  We continued up to Greenman for Geen's summit and enjoyed some photo ops and good company... quite the contrast to my normal solo experience.  We ran down to Bear Canyon where Dylan, Anton and Timmothy went up to Bear and I headed down the canyon to make my 8:30 staff meeting.  It was a short run, but a run I really enjoyed the great company. 

Timmothy and Dylan Bowman
Timmothy, Me and Anton
Anton, Ian Torrence, Scott Jurek, Me, Timothy Olson
PM: 6.11M, :50, 200Ft Climbing;
Bike path and some turf running barefoot at BHS track. 

Tuesday: 10M, 1:23, 800Ft Climbing;
Ran the hillier part of my Wonderland trail running.  I have had four nights of poor sleep combined with the 120 miles of training last week = flat today.  Just felt slow and awful and my right lower calf needs some rest. 

PM: 4M, :36, 200Ft Climbing;
Felt flat and tired on my 4 mile loop from campus.

Wednesday: 7.39M, 1:08, 600Ft Climbing;
Snuck in a run this morning before work, still flat and tired.

PM: 7.18M, :56, 350Ft Climbing;
Ran up the bike path into the canyon.  I was hungry and getting that "bonk" feeling for the first 20 minutes... not cool, then I got through the bonk and ended up feeling better than I have for the last two days. 

The big boy... Felix
Thursday "Tempo Intervals/Visualization Run": 12.79M, 1:39, 400Ft Climbing;
Today was an important run for me.  I warmed up to a 3/4 mile flatter section of trail by wonderland lake where I did general mobility and some strides.  Today's workout was focused on getting the legs and mind ready for the fast flat 10K that starts and finishes the Chuckanut 50K.  The workout was comprised of 8 x 800 meter repeats with a quarter mile "faster" jog between.  The effort for the 800s was a touch faster than the pace I would be comfortable running for the opening 10K at Chuckanut. Mile pace splits for the 800s: 
AVG 5:36
Again, this wasn't a "hard" workout, but rather a drill in getting the legs and head ready for racing Chuckanut. 

Wonderland Lake
Friday: 7.15M, 1:00, 800Ft Climbing;
A little flat and tired again today for a run on the hillier wonderland trail route.  Today was the first time I have heard the Western Meadowlark.... very excited for this halmark of spring!

PM:6.82M, :53, 300Ft Climbing;
Up the bike path and over to Kitteredge fields for a couple miles of turf barefoot, push-ups and sit-ups.  Doing my best to take it easy and recover this week for a nice taper next week. 

Turkeys at Heil
Saturday Long Run: 21.2M, 3:06, 2,500Ft Climbing;
"Almost" ran with Dave Macky this morning for a long run, but it didn't work out.  Drove to Heil ranch to hit up the Heil to Picture Rock out and back run.  I really enjoy this nearly all snow and mud free single track route.  Picture Rock is a bit "hot and dry" feeling for me during the summer, so now is the perfect time to run here, not to mention the biking bonanza that accompanies this route once the bikers wake from hibernation (to include me every once in a while).  I ran with 4 oz of EFS and my hand water bottle.  Being solo with awesome trail conditions and weather combined with me be anxious to get back and hang out with Felix and Maggie, I "over-ran" this run a touch.  I turned around just short of Lyons and decided to use snow to re-fill my 20oz water bottle.  I drank maybe 30oz of water total.  Felt a little tired, but I was running a touch faster than easy long run pace.

Sunday:9.1M, 1:12, 700Ft Climbing;
I had a rare afternoon first run today.  Other people, like Dave, do a lot of afternoon and evening running and while I used to do this, I really dislike the late starts now.  I felt crappy again on the first 30 minutes of my run.  I believe the sleeping issue I had earlier this week and last combined with 3 weeks of big mileage has put my body in a "time to recover" mode.  I did turn a big corner on the second half of this run and felt great coming home. 

Felix and I had a great ride around Boulder Creek... Felix jumped into the creek and I pulled him out sitting waste deep.  He didn't cry....? I had a change of clothes though!
-Started the week with a very fun group run, did a little bit more flat recovery running, had a great race simulation workout Thursday that was very encouraging and felt good on the longer run Saturday.  Overall a good week of pulling back the reigns a touch.   

-I stress out a bit about feeling tired on some of my runs this week.  Leading up to Bandera, I forced a good bit of hard running shortly after TNF 50 combined with traveling for Christmas that resulted in a "burnt-out" body come race day (and during my taper).  On the flip side, this training block (7 or so weeks) has felt a lot less rushed and foreced and was much more comfortable and easy despite being of higher quality. 
      -US XC was a great experience and I am happy to see I could run sub 5:30 for a XC 12K.
      -The last 4 weeks have averaged out to 110 miles/week and until this taper week, I've felt strong nearly every day

-I pretty much always feel tired and "off" during tapers, but I am battling the ghosts and fears from showing up to Bandera flat and overtrained! 

-The RATIONAL reality is that I feel good, I'm prepared but also, I am a bit tired from a solid training block.  Time for an easy week of light running to set up for an awesome race result at the Chuckanut 50K next weekend. 

Surprising thing to see on a bike ride around Boulder
100.32 Miles
9,350 Feet Climbing

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Weekly Summary 27 Feb - 4 March

One of my better weeks of training... Sub 40 on the middle route of Green, solid tempo, Boulder Basic 25K and Waterton Canyon revisited. 

Monday- 14.68M, 2:00, 925Ft Climbing; Easy run from work up Boulder Creek, trail over to Sanitas, over to Wonderland and loop back to Boulder Creek.  Felt pretty good and wanted a bit more climbing on this easy run.

Tuesday Time Trail Up Green Mtn "Middle Route"-15.24M, 2:37, 2,500Ft Climbing; After some frustration last week with a sub 40 minute effort crushed by drifting, I was ready for battle.
My first split to the lodge up Gregory was around 40 seconds slower than last week, but I was feeling good and didn't let it bother me.  Past the lodge things were going well, despite some funky footing from the old drifts and off cantered angles.  I kept things going and on the stairway, that has not trace of stairs, I was pretty sure I had my sub 40.  I gave way more effort last week, but I still gave a good effort today and managed a 39:13.  As I was pretty close to my 2 minute slower prediction on last week's TT, I am also confident that conditions right now are around 2ish minutes slower than dry or even a track with a little snow.  I am happy to get in the low 39 range and ready to move my TT to the "front side" next week.  

Wednesday-11.1M, 1:37; 550Ft Climbing; Easy run around Wonderland. 
PM: 4.9M, :40, 150Ft Climbing; Easy run up to base of Chat, down bike path. 

Thursday Tempo with Aaron-12.73M, 1:32, 400Ft Climbing; Ran a great tempo around Wonderland with Aaron Kennard this morning.  We did a good warm up then started our 7.2 mile tempo.  After last week's tempo, I wanted to pick up the pace and increase the mileage a touch.  I usually average just under 6:30 for tempo efforts on the hills and trail fo Wonderland, but today I ran my fastest tempo effort.  Here are the splits: 
Avg: 6:06
Aaron and I ran the tempo together today, which was an awesome treat... we both had a great run.  

PM:4.29M, :35, 150Ft Climbing; Up to EGF park down bike path.  

Friday-14.49M, 1:53, 400Ft Climbing; I planned on running Mesa Trail today but yesterday I felt a little soreness on my lower right calve and things were more tender today.  I kept things flat on the run. Despite my muscle ache, which went away after a few mile, I felt surprisingly good.  I really hope the leg feels good in the AM so I can do a good climbing long run, but I'm a little nervous.  

Saturday "Boulder Basic 25K"-26.2M, 4:44, 6,000Ft Climbing; Got up at around 5:20 to see how the right lower calf was feeling and was pleasently surpised to find it feeling relatively good.  I packed up 5oz of EFS, my hand water bottle, glasses and camera phone.  After pounding a litre of water and a banana,  I was out the door to Chautauqua to start the long run.  Started up to Gregory Canyon and accidently missed the turn-off to hit the trail to Flagstaff, ran down the road from Gregory and up I went enjoying the sunrise beauty.
Pre-sunrise on the way to Flagstaff
  I took the slight detour to hit the pimple of a rock outcrop of the peak of Flagstaff 31 minutes into the run.  Felt great. 

Sunrise from Flagstaff Peak
Headed down, crossed the road and ran to Green Mtn Lodge where I administered my Microspikes.  After the descent on Shadow 2 weeks ago, I was sure to be packing heat this time.  I enjoyed a comfortable ascent up Greenman to make Green Mountain in 1:05. 

Green Goodness
Despite the nice clear warmer weather, the west wind was fierce on the west facing exposures... my hands were numb and I was wishing I had more clothes. 

Down to Bear Canyon and then as I was about to make the turn to head up Bear Peak I can accross this exciting news:


Seeing a mountain lion in the wilderness is something I would really like.  But yes, it certainly got my hear rate up seeing this sighn.  Good or bad, I was headed up Bear Peak and not down the canyon. 

I made the approach and then steep climb to Bear Peak feeling wonderful in 1:47, but a bit cold.  Once on top of Bear I was able to enjoy the wind block and savored a minute or two looking out east in the calm warm sunshine. 

Looking North East from Bear Peak
I re-entered the wind and mad my way over to South Boulder peak following a poorly routed trail requring a few post hole corrections.  I made the quick ascent up to the final and highest peak of the day, South Boulder Peak in 1:59.  The snow up to SoBo was noticeably dryer due to the cooler temps at the higher elevation. 

A frigid fake smile on South Boulder Peak
Next came the most "dangerous" running descent I have made in Boulder.  Shadow (and Fern) canyon are really steep direct ascents and descents.  Shadow canyon, unlike Fern, has a bit of a south facing ascpect.  The majority of the very steep top 2/3 of the trail was ice pack... solid, slick, shinny ice.  It really wouldn't matter how sharp your spikes are on this descent, as it was just too icy and steep for running and even hiking was very difficult.  I had to hike down and down climb steep snowy terrain and avoid a lot of the trail on the top.  I was moving at a 15+ minute mile pace and was a bit upset that after the hard earned verticle, this is how I would descend. 
I made Mesa trail and was happy to be taking off the spikes (for a while) and running down, not scrambling.  I choose to add the 1.5 mile down and up (800-900ft) as I knew I wasn't going to get the mileage total I wanted staying on the Boulder Basic course.  I made it to the end of the Mesa Trail in 2:37.  
 I was starting to get tired on the ascent back via mesa, but felt way better than two weekends prior when I opted for running the roads home.  Enjoying the views of my day's ascents I ran easy back to the end of the loop and parking lot.  Total time for the Boulder Basic route was 3:19, 3:44 with the extra 3 miles.  From here I had the painful task of "adding on" to get my desired 26.2 marathon distance.  Nothing was fun or enjoyable about the last hour on the roads with the wind.  Was happy to be done and run 26.22 in 4:44 (only 2:17 slower than my PR!). 

  :31:20 to Flagstaff Peak
1:05:30 to Green Mountain
1:47:30 to Bear Peak
1:59:30 to South Boulder
2:37:20 to southern terminous of Mesa Trail
3:44:10 to Parking Lot (about 19 miles total with around 6,000ft climbing)
4:44:12 for 26.22 mile long run

3:19:55 for last year's Boulder Basic route (about 16 miles). 

Recent Waterton Canyon (not my pic)
Sunday A Return to Waterton Canyon-16.6M, 2:14, 1,300Ft Climbing; Sunday after enjoying the Zoo with Maggie, Felix and our friend Jason and his daughter Rachel, we headed to the recently opened Wateton Canyon, which is just west of Chattfield Reservoir SW of Denver. 

The Dam (and reason for the 1.5 year closure for dredging)
 I used to hike, bike and run up Waterton ever now and then when coming to Denver from Colorado Springs.  Back when I used to visit and run the canyon, I was much more of a road runner who loved getting off the trails when possible.  I remember considering Waterton a pretty good climb... how things have changed.  I pushed felix up the closed dirt road paralleilng the South Platte up river to the dam.  Total distance was around 6.5 miles and around 800 feet of climbing.  Even with Felix on the dirt road, the grade felt easy and flat.  From here Jason took Felix back down the road to meet up with Maggie and Rachel and continued on to a snowy, slushy ascent of the ridge to the Colorado Trail.  The east face was at some points thigh deep in snow along the trail, but once on top, I enjoyed a wonderful treat of running a little dry mountain single track... this made me VERY excited for the spring and summer trail running. 
On the way down, I had a blast comfortably hitting 6:40-6:20 pace back to the parking lot. 

End of the road and start of trail
 Synopsis- One of my biggest and best training weeks, which followed two 100+ training weeks... this is good.  Decent vert, leg turn over and mileage for the week.  Feeling very ready for some racing in Washington in a few weeks.


120.2 Miles
12,225 Feet Climbing
45 Miles Biking