Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ode to Drymax socks

It was the week before Cascade Crest 100 and I was in a taper induced frenzy. I had fallen in love with a pair of Drymax socks but they were just the wrong length. Getting your gear just right is paramount especially in a 100 miler. I'm the kind of runner who doesn't like to stop and the thought of changing my socks or shoes during a race is on par with stopping to shave. I had finally found the sweet spot with my shoes and a pair of Drymax socks which just happened to be road socks which came up to my ankle. When I ran my kit was perfect except for the pine needles and debris coming in through the space between my ankle bone and my achilles. Holy shit I spelled achilles right on the first try! Anyway, I needed longer Drymax socks. I went to Fleet Feet Seattle first of course. No Drymax? Then I went to REI and perused their foot tubes to no avail. Everyone said,"Go to Roadrunner Sports". I did, they had the same road socks I owned. I ended up going back to REI and buying gaters to cover my beloved socks and keep the trail kibbles out of my shoes. It worked! The gaters barely made it back to Easton but my feet were blister free after smoking the course to second place and a new Master's record. My faith in Drymax was cemented. I contacted Drymax asking for sponsorship for the 2012 race season and they took me on and sent me a plethora of Drymax socks in all shapes and sizes! I'm drunk with socks! I ran the hyper thin road socks through 26.2 miles of puddles in the Seattle Marathon two weeks ago and had happy feet. I wore the cold weather running socks last weekend in thigh high snow and peeled them off with a smile. I am so psyched on these socks I've written an entire blog entry on their merits. Breaking news: Drymax is also going to be sponsoring the Fleet Feet Seattle Team for 2012.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Carkeek 12 hour

I couldn't resist signing up for the Carkeek 12 hour on Sat. Oct. 29th. I needed to end the season on a high note and what could be better than running for 12 hours on a 2 mile loop course with 420 feet of elevation per lap. I knew this would be my third longest race of the year. I also realized it takes 12 hours to drive from Seattle to Bozeman Montana or to Portland and back twice. The night before the race I had an anxiety dream where I showed up to the race late, having learned from my dream, race day I found myself driving like a Duke brother to get to the race start where I barely had time to pin on a number and turn my headlamp on before we took off at 6 am. Brock led the first loop and I stuck with him, we had such a nice time talking he snuck in another two loops with me. Once Brock left it started to get light out and I met up with Shawna Tompkins who was only going to run for 6 hours and we blazed around and around for 10 or so laps together recapping races and people we know. I knew I'd gone out too fast with Brock and stayed too fast with Shawna, then Kevin Douglas joined us and we stayed too fast. Eventually I pulled ahead of the others and that was the last I saw of them on the course. My aidstation wagon was properly equipped with chocolate croissants and a bagel sandwich along with salt pills and fizzy drink packets and water. I stopped at the car about every other loop until around loop 16 when it turned into every loop. Jim Norton joined me for a while, Allen Skytta came to cheer on team Fleetfeet represented by me, Jess Mullen and Sara Malcolm. My lovely wife and son came to visit and bring me more food and an Ipod. Other ultra friends came and went throughout the day. I kept going round and round, up and down. The day was perfect, sunny, cool, no rain. I passed some people about 20 times. I saw my neighbor and her dog. I went up the same f'n stairs over and over. Eventually the day grew long and the loops had stacked up. The previous course record was held by Brock; 32 loops. By 5 pm it was obvious I was on pace to break his record. I stepped it up and powered on to lap 33, I still had 15 minutes left so I put in 2 small loops each half a mile because as Brock put it, "Adding those small loops on will really suck for the next person trying to break your record." I rolled into the finish exhausted at 5:58pm with 33.5 loops, about 65 miles and 14,000 feet of elevation. I had run, I had fun, I won and set the CR. All goals accomplished. Teammate Jess won the Women's race. I got my candy, some prizes, and a big ol' plastic pumpkin and headed home. I was beat, I drove like a drunk the 3 miles home. I parked my car in front of my house and when I woke up I was still in my car with the engine running and someone had parked in front of me. I have no idea how long I had been asnooze. I turned the car off, got my gear and headed in. A perfect capper for an awesome race season. Now to recover. I plan on pacing for the Seattle Marathon, growing my toenails back and watching my name being picked at all the lotteries: Western States, Hardrock and Wasatch.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Untidy endings- Mt Spokane 50k

DSQ.WTF? I was ready to finish my season with my last ultra of the year, the Mt. Spokane 50k on Oct. 8th. This was the inaugural running of the race on Spokane's highest mountain amidst it's many alpine and nordic ski trails. I was ready, rested from Cascade Crest, trained, fueled, I was eager to win this race and call it a season. Camped the night before with Allen Skytta and Jim Norton, woke up to clear and icy. The sun was breaking the frost as James Varner gave us the course briefing and sent us off. I felt good, I took the lead and kept the pace lively for the front group of 5 which included teammate Jon Robinson and friend Kevin Douglas plus two other guys we didn't yet know. The trails were cold but rolling, the course was a maze of hairpin trails bending back on themselves like intestines. The course was marked in yellow ribbon, the leaves were changing, the combination made us stop at intersections and look around until someone would shout, "That way!", then we'd go on. We hit the 9 mile Aid station #1 fast, the 10 mile parking lot at 1 hour 15 minutes and then headed downhill where unknown guy in red made his move to the front, fine, we let him go. After a while, we started to separate a bit and I began to reel Mr. Red in. We hit aid station #2 and chaos ensued. The volunteers were at a loss as to A. what they had at the table to offer and B. where the 50k course went. They sent Mr. Red up the wrong trail, Jon and I went up the right trail and shouted for him to follow us, he did but was obviously shaken by the mix up and we soon dropped him. Jon and I settled into a strong run up a lovely road which climbed and climbed. We knew the course was supposed to lead back to aid station #2 which would become aid #3 before climbing Mt. Spokane. We talked and ran and came to an orange cone by the road leading to a trail marked with yellow ribbon. Follow the ribbon is the name of the game, we did and soon found a few 25k runners heading up Mt. Spokane?? This didn't seem right. We kept on keeping on and eventually came out on top of Mt. Spokane and Aid station #4. Not good! We had missed #3. Somewhere on the road was yellow ribbon in the fall foliage leading to the trail down and we had missed it. We skipped 5 maybe 6 miles of the course. We took in the view from the mountain and headed down the ski slopes. 1 mile from the finish I ventured off course again but Jon corrected my path and we came into the finish tied for first place in the disqualified division at 3:36. The sun was out, there was food and drink, friends and dry clothes. It is always a gift to be able to run strong through the woods, to race and be part of an awesome community of athletes. These are the things which keep us coming back to test ourselves. I felt FINE about the race, the DSQ. The part I haven't been able to reconcile is the unfinished business. I can't finish the season on such a blah note. I would have won or tied for first without doubt but just knowing that doesn't do it justice. I haven't allowed myself recovery time after the race because I only ran 25ish miles. My body is done with ultras for 2011 but my mind is still reeling, wanting a tidy ending. In two weeks is the Cougar Mt. 50k and or the Carkeek 12hour. Both are traps waiting for me to set my little paw on their cheeses but oh, they smell so good.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cascade Crest 3rd time is a charm

     I started getting excited about this year's Cascade Crest 100 miler in June as Allen and I were driving back from Wyoming after running the Bighorn 100. We both realized I needed to go into the race with a plan and a crew. A plan formed, a crew jelled and Saturday found me toeing the line in Easton feeling rested, anxious and hot.
     My crew consisted of my lovely wife Jane and my kids Hazel and Theo and pacer Jim Norton during the day then Allen took over at night. My plan was to try to break 20 hours. My previous PR for a 100 miler was on the CCC course in 2009 and was 20:42 so I figured why not try to knock off 42 minutes? I actually wrote my goal splits to get me to the finish at 19:50. I thought 52 minutes in 100 miles is like taking off 30 seconds per mile. Plan part 2 was finding out my main competition, Rod Bein from Bend, Or. was shooting to break the course record of 18:30 held by his training partner Jeff Browning. I schemed to stay on my sub 20 schedule and see if Rod maintained and won or if he would blow up late and I could take him. The other known entity was Phil Shaw who has won this race twice before and finished second last year. Phil's best time was 19:41 in 2009. I am 43 years old and have no business thinking this way.
     I make most of the food for this race. Taper week was spent making 12 gallons of potato soup, 12 gallons of carrot-tomato soup, 125# quartered, boiled potatoes and around 170 brownies. I also made myself a cache of ham and cheese sandwiches, bacon and two chocolate croissants for my race.
     Race day dawned hot and dry. The start saw Rod, Phil and two other guys take off fast chasing Kent Holder on his bike down the trail. I followed them with a pack of Bellingham's best boys. Up Goat peak we chugged faster than I thought prudent. Within four miles I had accidently dropped my splits cheat sheet which, thankfully, Dan Gallant found and gave back to me. Dan, Daniel Probst and Kevin Douglas and I peaked goat peak in a line and started the rolling, climbing chug to the first aid station. Eventually Daniel and I pulled ahead and had a nice time chatting along some awful, hot, dusty climbs. We started to catch some of the enthusiasts who took off too hard at the start. I lost Daniel after a while and kept catching people who were suffering in the heat. I eventually found myself in 3rd by mile 20. Then I saw Phil. I was shocked, I  wasn't ready to see him until much later in the race, he stepped aside and let me pass, I was now in 2nd, we rolled into Tacoma pass aid station within a minute of eachother. My crew was there with a change of bottles and some food. It felt great to be taken care of and not have to "shop" at the aid station table. Revived and well kissed I took off well ahead of Phil. The next section has some parts I don't like so I played some podcasts on my ipod for the first time ever in a race. It worked, it took my mind off the pain and heat and drudgery and I had company. I popped out of the woods and into Stampede pass aid station, mile 32ish and again was met by my waiting family and Jim to care for me. I left feeling confident. I wasn't looking at my watch or my splits but I was behind schedule. I powered on to Mt. Meadow aid station where they usually have raviolis. They hadn't heated any by the time I arrived, so I had them open a can and I gulped down two cold, it was disgustingly delicious. On to perogies from Scott McCoubry at Ollalie and then the new section of the course for me, the rope assisted bushwhack to the train tunnel which was intense. My training runs through the tunnel were cold, see your breath cold, race day it was so hot, the tunnel was almost humid inside. I exited the tunnel and found my way up I90 to the crossing and into Hyak aid station where I had my full posse now Allen was there. I ate some soup and sat until Allen forced me to git. Jim and I headed down the road and up the ridge. My goal was to run the whole damn ridge, I almost did with Jim's help and we watched the sun set as we gained altitude. Over the other side we bombed into the Lake Katchees Aid station where Allen was waiting with a warm cup of soup and a grilled cheese. Here I picked up Fleet Feet teammate Jon Robinson and said good bye to Jim. Jon and I chatted it up along the Trail From Hell and I felt my energy really coming back as the night cooled a bit. I was still too hot to wear a hat. We got to the end of Hell and found Heaven in John Novak's Mineral Creek aid station where I had more soup (thanks Adam) and some Frappaccino shots (thanks John) then grabbed the bacon and a chocolate croissant from my drop bag and headed off chomping up the No Name Road. Again, I wanted to run this ascent as much as possible and after eating, we did. Jon kept me running about 80% of the 7.5 miles. We peaked at the No Name Spa aid station where Laura Houston had another chocolate croissant waiting for me. I had a 1:25 appointment for a Manli/pedi but when I finally looked at my watch it was 12:58. I now knew I was 27 minutes ahead of schedule. Awesome, we hit the needles hard and fast then rolled into French cabin and had more soup and coffee from a great group of volunteers then punched it over the last needle and had only the last neverending downhill left. I heard Owls hooting as we flew down the trail. In years past it started getting light on this descent. Not this year. I had no idea where I was on the course because I'd never done this part in the dark before and before I expected it, whamo! We were at Silver Creek, the last aid station. We dropped everything with good ol' Allen and sprinted the last 5 miles into Easton, up the hill, across the train tracks and to the finish where the clock, in the black of night, read 19:05! Holy shit. I couldn't believe it. Did I really just take 97 minutes off my PR? I did. Did I just run the 3rd fastest time in race history? I did. Did I feel good? Oh yes. Allen found Jane and woke her up, she'd set her alarm for 5:30. The only people around were my crew (Jon, Allen and Jim), Rod and his pacer (who didn't blow up and set the Course record by 3 minutes 18:27!), RD Charlie Crissman, Kent Holder and Rich White. My elation turned to hunger, then fatigue as we waited for more runners, Phil came in to claim 3rd place, we watched as the next 10 or so runners stumbled in then I could no longer function so Jane and the kids poured me into the van and drove me home with a shiny new belt buckle and the Masters record at Cascade Crest.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Whiteriver 50 miler 2011, Rio Blanco.

No sooner did I write a facebook post about starting my "taper" when, the next morning I awoke with a throat the color of a hummingbird feeder only much less pleasant. I figured it would go away, it didn't. Now it felt like hummingbirds were angrily pecking at my uvula. On the Thursday before the Saturday race I got the great idea of visiting my doctor after 4 solid days of wincing when drinking water. Oh, sure, I still kept running because I was simultaneously tapering for Whiteriver while training for Cascade Crest 100. I told the doctor I wanted to run WR but didn't want the infection to get into my sinuses or ears or in anyway threaten my CCC race. He said, "Yes your throat is beet red!" Did a strep test (negative) and gave me a Rx for anti biotics which I could have saved him his degree debt and written myself. Two hours later I was on the blahblahblahacillin. Friday night I was at the race check in chatting it up with friends from near and far including David Horton, Gary Gellin, the McCoubreys, "Flying"Allen Skytta, Joe Creighton, and many others. Camped at Buckcreek in the manvan.
     The race: My expectations were slim. I was sickish. I decided I wanted into the top 10 and top 3 masters. I also decided that if I felt anything amiss, I would drop as to not threaten CCC in a month. I thought, "I'll see how the first half goes, then either race or run the second depending." I lie to myself all the time. I snuck up to the line for the start and we were off at a fast 50k pace, everyone chasing Uli and glory. I was at the start of the second wave of heros not feeling good. I climbed up to Ranger cabin with Chase Mueller, Dan Gallant, Jon Robinson and a few others in tow. I felt fine but tenative. Along the ridge to Corral pass I got to see Uli and the front pack coming back at me, then Glenn Takiyama and his camera and smile, then finally Eric Sachs at the aid station. I downed some pbj and headed back out. I caught a guy on the snow section and as he went down step by step I quickly skied past him and continued until I caught up with Fleetfeet Seattle teammate Jon Robinson. We had a nice time descending to buck creek. Into the aid station I felt fine, I grabbed a pbj and a cup of coke, got my filled bottles, went up the trail a bit and puked my guts out. WTF! I've never lost it in any running event. Ever! Now here I was like a frat boy on St. Patricks day. I didn't finish my cup of coke. I wandered up the trail and reevaluated. Should I drop? My car is just over there. What would I do with the rest of the day if I stopped now? Then I decided to continue, "People puke all the time in 100 milers, I'll just see what happens if I go on." I figured I could drop anytime, anywhere. I also decided if a tree fell near me, that would be the third sign I should stop. No trees fell, I continued on. I got passed by a guy with wing tattoos. I stumbled up fawn ridge, I started to pass people who looked worse than me. I got excited, I looked up and saw Jon. I caught up with Jon, we passed more people. I caught "wingy". I looked up and   saw the unmistakable socks of William Emerson who owns this course as a master. I've never beaten William and was surprised to see him. I followed him up to Suntop. By this point I was eating only watermelon and water. I was scared of everything else and it was hot out. I chomped 2-3 watermelon wedges and headed down the fireroad feeling pretty spunky. I had William in my sights. I gained on him, I caught up with him, then Tatwings passed us both. I chased Tatty down the road with William behind me, I lost both of them around opposing corners, glad to now be in 2nd masters. I came around a corner and Mr.Tats was pulling up his shorts next to a tree while murmmering, "nearly shit myself." I passed him and we motored into the Skookum Flats aid station at about the same time. I had a full bottle still and needed to only wolf down two chunks of watermelon and I was off. I had legs. I still had legs. The energy I'd been holding onto the whole race was now at my disposal along Skookum Flats (Which, for the uninitiated, are not flat at all but undulating). I pushed it and felt good. I knew the race was only another 6ish miles and I had 2nd masters in the bag as long as I didn't explode or expire. I blasted that trail and pushed hard to the finish. My finish time was 7:45 and change, two minutes slower than my course record but good enough this year for 6th place overall and 2nd masters. I was elated.
     Post race party was awesome as usual. The Globespun Gourmet burritos my company provided for finish line food went over great and people were talking about how tasty they were. It is always fun to watch people finish and cheer friends on or console those who DNFed. The BBQ was tasty and I won a pair of sunglasses from Scott Sports for my finish.
     Lessons learned: It's OK to run when you're sick. Puking isn't the end of the world or your race. Watermelon works as good as food and GU. See you next year Rio Blanco.

Monday, June 27, 2011

BigHorn 100 miler, Sheridan Wyoming

Allen Skytta and I drove to the spa in Wyoming. I had a sweat, a mud bath, a cold plunge and exfoliated three toenails. The Bighorn 100 was actually less relaxing than that. We did drive and met up with my parents and brother in Sheridan after checking in for the race. By 10:00 race morning I was fueled, garbed in my fleetfeet green jersey and raring to attack the snow altered course. The hardest thing for me to do is to get up to the front of the start line with the rest of the big boys. I always feel like an imposter, like I don't belong up there. I have to remind myself to start where I plan on finishing. Sheepishly I ventured up. The race began and we ambled 5 miles on flat dirt road to the beginning of the first valley and a climb which goes up about 3000ft. I passed the time chatting with teammate Jon Robinson and it was good. I decided to push on the climb because I likes to climb and I caught up to the 3rd place guy who ended up being Nick Pedetella. I had prepared to see Zach Miller finish ahead of me, I had prepared to challenge Ty Draney, but I didn't know Nick was running Bighorn! Crap! Now I was looking at 3rd place unless someone blew up. As it was I was sitting in 4th and sat in 4th out of Dryfork Aidstation at mile 18 just past the "hip deep snow" which was ankle deep at best. My family and Allen were there to cheer and hand me my higher elevation gear. The altitude was already wearing on me. First out and back to two buttes A.S. and I could see the lead Zach had, big. Followed by Cory, Nick then me. The mud was amazing. Sticky, heavy, unavoidable. It looked like I was wearing Hoka's even though I was in Cascadias. Back to Dryfork and on to my first bonk at mile 30. I realized while beating myself up, I always have a mental breakdown at mile 30. By 40 I was feeling great especially after filling a water bottle from a spring of the best tasting water bar none. On down the valley to "Footbridge" Aidstation where I got a flashlight and food (not enough food) then headed up the valley to the 50mile turnaround, somewhere on my way up I got hungry, I got really hungry and started to hear voices and kept thinking I heard aidstations. I finally saw the 3 guys in front of me coming back and knew I was close, I stopped and peed at the base of Leaky Mt. into Leaky creek, then hiked in to the aidstation and had some soup. My way down I started to bonk bad, the trail started losing focus, I felt drunk and hungry and it was getting dark. I saw the entirety of the field on their way up and tried to pretend I felt fine. I managed to get back to Footbridge where I pigged out and donned my night gear. Dan, Jon's pacer told me the two guys in front of me had just left minutes ago. I stuffed sandwiches in my pocket and I headed out for the grind back up the valley toward Dryfork. I saw a light way up ahead and felt my  food and my mojo kick back in. I pressed and caught Cory who looked like he'd been recently released from an alien abduction. I kept on and eventually saw another light, it was Nick. I chased and finally caught Nick at the Cow Camp Aid Station, we ran together until I saw the lights of Dryfork waaaay up ahead. I knew Allen was waiting to pace me in from there and I dropped Nick and powered up the jagged jeep trail to the commotion of Dryfork. I got on the Medical scale and they said I had gained 10 pounds from my checkin weight! I didn't believe them, they said they should pull me from the race, I told them to check their scale because I could see it was two pound off at the start. They fixed the scale and it said I was eight pound over and  I could go on. WTF! I didn't feel puffy, I'd been peeing. I was scared and confused but also felt they were not right. Allen and I took off for the second out and back to two buttes with Nick close on our heels. We couldn't shake him. We hit the aidstation, turned around, I stopped to pee and Nick was past us. We watched as his light disappeared into the night and that was the last I saw of him. The next 18 miles down were a practice in balance as I could run a bit, then bonked, ate some sandwich, digested, then could run some more. The sun came out and the scenery was like running through a painting. At mile 85 I put it in spend what you've got gear and hammered downhill. No one behind us that we could see, we flew down to the canyon trail rousing the waking aidstation workers. After an eternity we finally hit the dreaded 5 mile dirt road to Dayton and the finish. It was getting warm. We split a Snickers and ran as fast as we could. Dogs tried to jump us but we were too fast, keeping a steady cadence and ticking off turns and miles. Finally we saw some buildings then a bridge and knew we were home. Two turns and a finish chute. The park was empty except for two finishline works, a puppy, two people setting up breakfast and Nick. Zach had already gone off to shower and nap as he'd been in for almost two hours. Nick had only been in for four minutes. I was really pleased with 3rd place on such a rough trail. My feet were trashed. I was also pleased to see teammate Jon come in to claim 4th place 40 minutes later! Team Fleetfeet parks two in the top 5. Cory came in after Jon and more people showed up to watch finishers including my family. The rest of the day was spent soaking in the river and talking story with the team and other runners. Gwen Scott got 3rd woman and Allison Moore finished a tough race. Jaimie Gifford had a really strong finish. Owen Connel made it 75 miles on lungs which had filled with fluid. The next day included the awards (I got a beltbuckle and a rock the size of a human head engraved with "1st place M 40-49". Then Allen and I drove straightshot back to Seattle in 15hrs. We got in 2ish in the morning. I felt like I was in college having pulled two all nighters in one weekend! There's my report without even one paragraph break!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Capitol Peak 50 Mile

     Two zombies are sitting on a park bench, one turns to the other and says,"I just feel like our popularity is dropping, like the public is totally over with us." The vampire on the bench behind them leans back and says, "Tell me about it!" This is what I think about while running 50 miles through the Capitol Forest in Olympia. That and root, root, rock, hey! a chipmunk!
     Saturday's race was a step up from the early season 50ks and a training run for the mid summer 100 milers. It's been one year since last I ran this distance race and I was curious what would happen. Allen and I camped at the start and shared a spot with Kent Holder the jedi master of ultra running. I slept in the minivan and realized I'm officially over pre race jitter sleep, I slept like a baby until the 5:00AM alarm. The day was perfect for a race, not raining. The start was abuzz with friends and new faces but I was mostly concerned with Rod Bien and Gary Robbins, two very talented ultra hombres. The Go! sounded and we went. Rod, me, Gary and a bunch of other folks in that order. By mile 4, Rod was gone and Gary and I had a nice conversation going and a group of three behind us. By the top of Capitol peak Rod was still gone and I had put some distance between myself and Gary. On the ride down from the peak I put it into cruise mode and ran relaxed to the out and back section where I finally saw Mr. Bien who had a 10 minute lead on me. I hit the aid station and went back out to find Gary and his cling on were only 2-3 minutes behind me! Yikes! I put it back into race mode and hauled ass up the hill to aid station 7. At aid 7 Owen told me I still had 10 minutes to make up in the last 15 miles. I hit it hard. I pushed, I felt good for an old guy, I ignored the phantom footsteps behind me as it was only the sound of my Nathan handhelds sloshing back and forth, not Gary's Montrails hunting me down. I skulked into the final aid station and rejected their offer of tequila settling for PBJ instead and continued on the final eight mile sprint to the finish. I was now passing lots of 55kers and still feeling strong and focused. Finally the  sight of cars through the forrest made my spirits leap, it was over! I may not have caught Rod but Gary didn't catch me and hey here is the clock and it says 6:58:20, if I sprint into the campground I could break 7 frickin' hours. Wasn't that my hidden goal? It was, I did. 6:58:35 and a new PR for 50 miles. I took 16 minutes off my time from last year! Perfectly content with 2nd place- I made up half the time in the last 15 miles and Rod got me by 5 minutes. Gary took 3rd convincingly and deemed himself race ready after his recovery from injury.
     April has been a great month. A first at Yakima and a second here but most of all it's been a lot of fun. Great people, great teammates, beautiful places to run and the support of my awesome wife, kids,  friends and family.
     It's great now but at some point way down the road I might become a zombie on a park bench. Or maybe I too could become a Jedi master of ultra running...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Yakima skyline rim 50k

Sunday April 3rd was the Yakima Skyline Rim 50k. Saturday was my daughter Hazel's 10th birthday. After Friday night's sleepover, baked Alaska, Saturday's presents and a lot of packing, I kissed the family goodbye, picked up Allen Skytta and Jim Norton and pointed the man van toward Ellensburg. Snoqualmie Pass was a mess of snow and slush which continued down the other side. Thankfully by the time we hit Ellensburg and Pizza Rita, it had turned to sunshine and wind.
     We camped at Big Pines Campground in the wind tunnel known as the Yakima canyon, the river was flowing chocolate brown so no fishing this trip just lots of pizza and exposure as the unrelenting cold wind tried to blow us to Yakima.
     Sunday morning dawned sunny and only mildly windy. We ate, coffeed, packed up and headed to the start. At the # pickup I was disappointed to hear Sean Meissner was not running due to injury, along with other injured no shows Rod Bein and Jacek the Canadian. I was starting to feel confident. The call to go was shouted by RD extrordinairre James Varner, I went. Some guy with a mohawk went faster? Across the suspension bridge and up into the sage covered hills, straight up 2,300ft in 3 miles I chased Mr. Mohawk. I was wondering whether this was a new phenom or an overzealous newbie. I didn't have any choice but to chase him down. We peaked the first major climb and the two pieces of flagging and the metal post with the arrow said to go left onto a jeep road, mohawk went straight up the diminishing trail. I whistled, I yelled, I waved, nothing... I ran on. Minutes later he came bombing back down the trail and caught up with me. We chatted, he was a nice fishing guide from nearby who's name was Joe... Mohawk Joe. We rolled into aid station 1 together, then out. I gradually put some distance on him as we climbed the second ascent and started catching early starters. Aid station 2 was awsome as I got to see Bill Huggins and his boy Theo then Scott McCoubry working the station. After peak 2 it was a lot of rolling rocky singletrack and I got to see all the 25kers coming up their first climb. I hit aid 3 and the turnaround in 2:40 and saw Sean, Linda and Daniel Probst (I didn't talk much because I didn't want to get distracted and stay). Out of aid 3 one climbs up the rocky yuck you just came down. I was able to see Joe was about 10 minutes behind me and Mike Palichuk (sp?) was right behind him looking like he was out for a stroll. I powered on up and was able to see all the 50kers as they passed going to the turnaround. Then I started catching the 25kers, it was all rather social. 
     I loved this course. I love to climb, I love to descend, I love technical. I do not like flat. This course had no flat. This was my course and I was feeling it. I knew I was ahead but still pushed it like I was being chased. Up, up, up then down, repeat. The aid stations were perfect, the views were unbelieveable, the sun was shining, I was leading a race and feeling strong. Hold on, don't blow up. I cramped a few times, took extra Scaps and pushed on up, up, down. After Hardrock, no hill can surprise me with it's false summits. Yakima tried and the final hill just kept going but, finally, there was the arrow to descend 2,300ft in 3 miles, so I did, as fast as I could. I almost lost it into the creek once or twice by tripping but kept that fine line of control and finally saw the bridge peeking out amongs the brush, I crossed it and lumbered across the finishline in 5:28. I finally won a 50k and it felt awesome. There were only 9 25k finishers in before me.  Mike came in for 2nd place 42 minutes later and Mohawk Joe 18 minutes after him. 
     Post race gathering was really festive. Burritos, beer, happy runners in all states of disrepair. It was great seeing Team Fleet Feet represented with Kathleen Eagan getting 3rd Women's , Allen felt bad but finished good in 19th and Van Phan completed this wicked 50k one week after running the Badger 100 miler. Many friends, many stories and some great pictures by Glenn Tachiyama and Matt Hagen. James Varner really knows how to pick a race site. This one is going to become a classic. I was proud to set the Course record for next year's runners to shoot for. I know I'll be gunning for it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Orcas 50K

Feb. 6th was the Orcas 50k. Feb.2nd I was on Kauai eating a papaya. Between the travel and the lack of focus I wasn't sure what to expect when Jim Norton and I rolled into Camp Moran to pick up our numbers. I know the Orcas 50k is not to be taken too seriously or too lightly. The glory of winning Orcas is small, the first place award is a cup of bean soup as is the award for last place. The race is an early season gathering of 500 or so runners in a summer camp atmosphere with beer.
     Friday night included eating a pizza, changing a flat tire, having a load of laughs with Gary Robbins, Linda Barton, Laura Houston, Owen and Allison and Jim on the ferry ride. Camp Moran held more fun and stories with Ellen Parker, Allen Skytta, Jeff Browning and Scott Wolfe. Eventually I had to retire to the van to snooze.
     Race morning I donned my new Team FleetFeet Seattle / Nathan jersey, Brooks Cascadias, water bottles and headed over to the Lodge for some for Cafe Vita coffee. I was relaxed, ate a bagel, hung out and awaited the start which came at 8:30 ( a rather civilized time to start a race). We were off and I decided to keep the lead pack in sight for as long as I could. I fell in with Bill Huggins and Kevin Douglas. We kept the pace solid and by the first aid station Bill and I had caught up with Justin Angle, Jeff Browning and the other guy up front. I nibbled a bit then headed out, around the lake and up the first major climb where Bill Huggs and I passed Jeff and stuck together through the descent and around the lake to the water drop. By this time I had grumblies in my tumbly. I was hungry and still had all of the climb up Mt. Constitution before I would sniff food. I ate a GU chomp and headed up, it got cold, I started to bonk, then I ate another Gu Chomp, then I bonked worse. My eyes started to get the warbles, the trail started to lose focus and I slowed... way...down. Then I saw Glenn Tachiyama and his camera, I tried to muster a smile but didn't have the energy, Bill passed me shortly before the aid station. I came out  of the forest and straight to the food table wherein I demolished half a plate of PBJ's, about 8 cookies, a cup of coke and some other liquids of unknown origin. I stuffed a Baby Ruth in each hand bottle and headed out. By this time, Jeff and Scott had come and gone and Kevin was just coming in. I ran down the trail and instantly started cramping. The food sat fine in my stomach but my legs had nothing to feed on and kept cramping. I slowed and ran all crampy style as both Kevin and another guy passed me by. I figured my race was over and my lesson was learned. I continued on up to the last climb and down the other side. As I was descending the neverending switchbacks, I looked up and saw Krissy Moehl coming down. It was then I realized the cramping was lessening and the food was starting to work, I turned it on and blazed down the hill renewed. I hit the neverending lake trail and thought I'd hold my positon, until I saw Kevin up ahead. I realized I could catch him and pushed the pace. I came around a bend of the lake and there was Kevin, Bill and Scott coming back towards me! "We think we went the wrong way. Do you know if we were supposed to take the first bridge?" I said, "No. We keep going this way and thanks for coming back for me." The four of us headed around the lake, the race was on. Scott started pulling ahead, I passed Kevin. Eventually I stepped around Bill and made an effort to close the distance between me and Scott. We hit the paved road and his sprint matched mine. I saw Van Phan who took the early start and powered on to catch up and finish with her. My time was 5:19 good enough for 6th place, about 18 minutes slower than last years 6th place here but the course was about 20 minutes longer this year. Congratulations to Justin Angle for the win.
     Post race hanging out was super fun. Wish I'd been able to stay another night and celebrate Dan Sears' birthday properly. The ferry home was more quality time with tired friends. Paul, The Gallants, Matt Hagen and Betsy Rogers. As a bonus I got to hear Laura Houston play her new Uke.

2011 off to a blazing start.

     As I am in the middle of losing my first toenail of the year (the little piggy who had roast beef on the left) I thought I should recap the year to date. Bridle Trails was a great race, the weather was clear, the mud was less deep than years past and the sky was clear enough to stay lighter longer. The start was a gathering of Ultra friends I hadn't seen since late summer/ early fall and much catching up was in order. Sean Meisner made the trip up from Oregon to see what the old horse trail run was like.
     Before the run I chatted with Chris Twardzik who looked focused and ready after a year of injury recovery. I saw his determined look and his pirate fez and knew he'd be gunning for the glory of Bridal Trails Champion.
     The race started and I decided to make hay while the sun was shining. I ran fast for the first three laps and almost made it through the third lap without turning on my lights. The first 2 laps (5.2 miles) were around 35 minutes each, the third a little less. There were many people to pass on the loop course which is much easier in the daylight. Loops 4 and 5 were dark, colder and boring. The only thing interesting was the aid station avoiding a trail puke and getting updates about the Seahawks game from people by the parking lot. I ran almost the whole race alone except for the time I hung out with Phil Kochek before he dropped me. I finally hit loop six and turned the burners on as I realized I could break four hour for the first time in a 50k. Then the coyotes started howling somewhere out there in the dark... I ran faster, I cramped, I let up, howl, faster, cramp, I rode the red line to the finish and PRed in 3:50 besting my 2010 time and previous PR by 23 minutes. I finished 3rd to Champion Chris T. and Phil. Fun was had by all and Allen Skytta had an awesome race too finishing top ten.

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 racing starts tomorrow.

The first race of the year is tomorrow Sat. Jan. 8th. Bridal Trails Winter Running Festival 50k. Last year I came in 2nd, tying with Daniel Probst because he kept me company the whole time and had the brightest head lamp ever. Last year's time is still my 50k pr 4:13:34. For the uninitiated, Bridal Trails is a horse path in a forrest in Redmond, a suburb of Seattle. The race is a loop course, 5.2 miles per loop on super soupy, muddy, slippery horse trails. The beauty is that it starts at 3:00ish in the afternoon which means the first loop or two are at dusk, the last four are in the inky blackness. One aid station, many runners, lots of fun. Bridal Trails was my first trail race when Allen Skytta roped me into being part of a 50k relay team. I was training for Boston Marathon and found myself running wild through the trees in the mud in the dark having a blast. That was my first trail run and my last Boston.
     I have added a logo to my blog for Udo's Oil "Oil the Machine". This is because I love the stuff. Last year at Chuckanut 50k, the prize for winning the masters race was a big bottle of Udo's Oil 369. I brought it home and decided to give it a try. I added Udo's Oil to my post run recovery regiment and found it worked really good with making my body happy. I am no scientist and haven't the time to break down everything to the calorie or carb, I go by what works for ME as an individual. I found mixing Udo's with a protein powder and So Delicious coconut drink, mixing it, then gulping it down post run made and still makes me really happy. Then I ran out. Then I ran Hardrock. I came back from Colorado sooo depleted I needed to find something to fill the 100 mile void. I ran/drove down to the store and bought another big bottle of Udo's 369. Mentally and physically it made me feel more recovered.  I talked to Udo's about a possible sponsorship because I believe in their product so much. They said they would think about it and then they sent me a 3 bottle care package which I've whittled down to 1.25 bottles by now. Udo's is a major sponsor for Chuckanut 50k. I am working with Krissy on the food for the race and how to incorporate some Udo's into the menu. If they sponsor me or not, I'll still use the 369 and I'm even more motivated to retain my master's title so I can win another bottle.