Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Mondo Slam

     Lady luck is one hell of a dancer.
     Lottery Saturday for both Western States 100 and Hardrock 100 landed on the same day this year. I get too stressed watching it on the computer or even being inside during these things. My yearly plan is to go out, run, and when I'm good and ready, come home and check. Last year I was outside when my phone rang and I instinctively answered it to a "Congratulations on getting into Hardrock!" voice from a dear friend.
     This year I went for the group run at Seven Hill Running Shop. 10 miles of trails in the freezing December weather while the lottery nonsense was going on. I was winding down post run when my phone began to blow up. I ignored it but I knew something was up. Finally I answered when the third call from "Home" came in. "You are IN!" Jane excitedly shouted. "You were picked 167th out of 170!" Well, goddamn... about time. This was my fifth attempt to get into Western States and now I was finally in. I drove home feeling great. I opened the door and Jane said, "You should probably check your email." I did. I also got chosen for Hardrock. Gulp, pause. Blink, blink.
     When planning the year one hopes to get into the big lottery races but realistically you have to build an alternate plan. My big race for 2014 was going to be UTMB. A 100 mile race around Mont Blanc in France, Italy, Switzerland and back to France in late August. The lottery for UTMB is in January and the field is around 2,300 runners. Much better odds than HR or WS. My family has begun to get really excited about going to Europe in August then this oddity of luck strikes with the lottery gods aiming at me. What is a boy to do? Western States is HUGE and I've always wanted to race it. Hardrock is my muse, my dream race. Western States is exactly 13 days before Hardrock. What about UTMB? Oh the mental clutter! Stop. Give it time to settle. Sit on it. Wait. Decisions will be made once the UTMB lottery is held in January but during this settling period Jane asked me,"If this was your last year of running, what would you do?" I said, "No question. I'd do them all!" She gave me her calm look of approval (she really wants to go to France). I really like the way she thinks.
     Welcome to the Mondo Slam. Western States (to be raced with reckless abandon), then go directly to Hardrock where I will attempt to recover, acclimate and finish upright. Seven weeks later race UTMB. If I finish all three races, I'll make myself a Mondo Slam trophy to put in my closet.
     The thought of racing Western States put the fear in me so I signed up at the last minute to race the Deception Pass 25k (Rainshadow Running event) on Saturday Dec. 14th. 16 miles is a sprint on really scenic, technical trails. It only took 2 hours and 7 minutes. Good enough for 2nd place and the Master's Course Record. Fun times. Lucky to be able to do the things I do.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fall Races and recovery

     In 2010 I came off a season having run Hardrock 100 and Cascade crest 100. By October I was a mess. My ankle was considered Rubenesque in polite company and I had a raging case of PF in my right foot. I decided to run the BakerLake 50k anyway. I ended up getting 2nd place missing the win by about 1.5 minutes.
     In 2013 I upped the ante and ran Hardrock 100 and Wasatch 100. By this October I was a mess. The same ankle was achy, things were wonky all over and I had a medium picante case of PF. Of course this meant I had to run BakerLake 50k. Not to seem elitist but the thought of ending my season with a 23rd place finish at Wasatch wasn't the flavor I wanted in my mouth heading to the holidays. My pal and R.D. and 2013 Grandslam finisher Terry Sentinella let me into the race late.
     I ran hard from the start but was passed by six people in the first third of the race. I decided I was old and washed up. I thought I'd enjoy the day as the weather was grand and there were many mushrooms along the trail and I decided to count bridges on the way out so I'd know how many to uncount on the way back. 44! I hit the turn around in 7th then started to feel good, youngish and not so washed up. I counted bridges and passed people until I realized my bridge counting skills got worse as the miles added up. I hit the last climb to the access road and passed the runner in second place while wondering what happened to the extra 5 bridges I'd missed. I sprinted the 2 mile road and could see the 24 year old guy in the lead as we crossed the dam to the finish. I got second by 1 minute and 21 years. I got a Baker Bear for winning the Masters. This helped wash the Wasatch taste out of my handhelds. Then Al Coyle went and invited me to his Lake Padden Trail Half Marathon in Bellingham two weeks later.
     I would say I had no excuse to not run this but I had a season of excuse. The thing that piqued my interest was I haven't run a race that short since 2005. A half marathon seemed like a fun way to spend an hour and a half. I said yes and drove to Bellingham. Marathoners and Halfers are funny, they take things really seriously and wear bright colors. The day was foggy and cool. I donned my Seven Hill Running Shop shirt and hat, my Scott Kinabalus and hit the trail sprinting. I lost the lead group fast then proceeded to get passed by the two top women before I got warmed up at the half way point. I came alive and repassed some folks and the 2nd place woman fell in behind me and we worked our way up until we caught the lead woman. I started to sag and said, "go get her!" to the gal and she did, passing her with about a mile and a half to go. It was exciting watching the women's race. Then I realized the end was near and I was about to be double chicked. I turned on the extra jets and passed both ladies on my way to 7th place overall and 1st Masters. Man did Al load me up with schwag. Two awards, one for Masters, one for age division, a bottle of wine and a running jacket from New Balance. I gotta do more short races!
     Finally, rest. I have looked at the year and conceded. I am done. Time to rest and play and work on the house and hang out with my family. I love running and racing but also find a break makes the excitement of next year bigger. I am signed up for a slew of lotteries for the big races and am casting a long look at UTMB for this August. Working with Phil at Seven Hills Running Shop on some exciting stuff for next year and anxious to try the new Hokas when they arrive. I've also been really excited to watch my wife Jane train to run her first 50k. She is on track to accomplish her goal by the start of December. She's running her own race, the Jane50k rather than an established race. The finish line food promises to be good.

The DNF Monkey

     I met the DNF monkey and he detached himself from my back at the Squamish 50 miler in beautiful British Columbia Canada.
     Gary Robbins invited me to the Squamish 50 mile a long time ago. I had been to Squamish in 1991 for a last minute Christmas get away with Jane, my wife. Squamish has grown up, then again, so have I. I am not sure why I decided to run a race so close to Hardrock finishing and Wasatch starting but I wanted to support Gary and see the course. I felt quite smug when I dropped down from the 50 miler to the 50k. "Ho Ho, I'll be done in less time and have less stress on my body!" Smugness oozing from my very being.
     I carpooled and roomed with my buddy Dan Sears and we had a great time venturing north to Canadaland. We checked in to the race, had dinner, settled into our dorm room and prepared for the race. The morning dawned cloudy and humid. At the start I ran into my friend Nick Triolo from Portland (a very stout runner) and my odds of winning dimmed a notch. The race started and I shot to the front wearing my new Seven Hills Running Shop jersey, Scott Kinabalus and a sweet pair of Julbo running glasses. After about two miles, I was passed by Nick and another guy, then another guy, then another guy. I settled in and began the climb up the first major climb which became more and more major as the kilometers clicked on. I was hot and not feeling good. I was passed by the first and second place women and fell in with them. We caught Nick who was looking, well, a bit like me. (not good), We ran the first major descent together fast, too fast. We flew down the mountain. Me in my Kinabalus, Nick in his road flats. It was brutal. Nick passed me and disappeared down the trail. I slowed and decided to run steady. Finally an aid station appeared but had limited food, I needed calories but settled for a few cookies. On I ran up, down, up never ending trails. I was passed again. I was still really hot and definitely not feeling like it was my day. I decided to slow it down and run steady which I did until the half way point where the big aid station had watermelon and a lot of water but a surprising lack of real food. I made due with watermelon and more cookies but felt really lousy. I decided my race was over and it was now a training run. I ran on and was met with more relentless trail and heat. There was a big loop through the forest and I run/walked as best I could. I got passed by another friend, David Papinau from B.C. and watched him go. I felt worse and worse until I looked up and saw Nick! He was also feeling horrible. I said, "man I feel pukey." He said, "So do I." I said, "I feel REAL pukey!" He said, "Me too." I said, "Yaaaaaaaarrrrpphhhh! See you later." Then proceeded to puke air and noise for the next 10 minutes. I sounded like a sasquatch giving birth. I may have frightened a few runners and a few sasquatch. I pulled myself together and walked. I tried to drink water and failed. I started to cramp. No water= no salt pills = cramping. I stumbled to the aid station at mile 20... yes 20... so lame. I held a piece of watermelon and stared at it for about 20 minutes. I still had most my water from the last aid station and I couldn't do a thing with any of it. I watched runners come and go through the aid station, still racing and having fun and I caught a ride to the finish and shook hands with the DNF monkey. I still don't regret it. I really though my first DNF would be more of an emotional blow but it wasn't. I wanted out, I got out. I had a new window on DNFs I've watched. I feel more free to race to potential than before. The race was hard, wicked hard. Nick toughed it out and suffered greatly. I was proud of him and the other runners who made it. Including Dan Sears. The 50 milers were even more impressive. Gary put on a stellar race and the scene in Squamish was really great. I failed at the race but the lessons I learned were invaluable.
     Recovery has been an exercise in putting what is best for my body in front of what is best for my ego. I've been limiting my mileage and upping my fuel. I've been sleeping in a borrowed altitude tent in anticipation for the air above Salt Lake City. I've been training in Hoka Stinson Trail shoes and loving them. I feel like my let down in Squamish has allowed me a new view on tapering and training for the next "A" race of my year. I am laser focused on the Wasatch Front 100. I am studying and plotting and planning and ready to spring.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wasatch 2013 Heavin' and Hell.

     I was hot. I was sweating and uncomfortable. I was at the starting line of the Wasatch 100 miler in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was 5:00 am and I was already dealing with the heat. It was in the sixties and the sun rise was still hours away. I was expecting hot. I was wearing a visor and sun block on all exposed surfaces, I was pre salted with s-caps, I was wearing short shorts and a sly grin. I had a race plan to negative split the course as a way to abate the inevitable heat caused blow ups I had witnessed last year when I had come here to pace. As the bodies clustered to the line I could feel the heat close in until we burst forth into the night all shadow, lamplight and sinew.
     Wasatch is a race built to make you uncomfortable from the start and keep you that way to the finish. The footing is horrible. The climbs are relentless in the fact they seem runnable but are not. The downhills too seem runnable but are not. The sweet single track sections are only reminders of what you would rather be doing with your energy before they end in more eroded descent or winding climb.
     2013 was the second hottest race day on record for the 34 years of the race. The humidity was higher than usual and the drop rate was at an all time high. Many Utah locals who had finished five or more times found themselves cashing in their chips early and finding shelter. I was not so lucky. It was my first time racing this beast and I was in for the long haul. Or was I?
     I left Seattle on Thursday morning for the Friday morning race. I had everything packed and ready. I had my Victory bag drop bag ready for mile 75 (Brighton aid station). I had another drop bag ready for mile 52 (Lambs Canyon). I had my running pack loaded with sandwiches, croissants and peanut butter crackers. I landed, drove the rental to the race check in and meeting then met my hosts and pacers Ben, Bethany, and Ada Lewis for pizza before settling in to their house for a restless night of waiting for the alarm.
     I have a deal with my wife Jane. My kidneys are worth more than my running career. Daddy on dialysis is not something I want for my kids. My deal; I pee blood, I stop. I've never done it but it seemed like prudent thinking. I was moving slow through the heat and climbs of the first part of the race. I was battling the heat like crazy. I was drinking as much as I could and gorging on watermelon and cantaloupe. I was feeling lousy from the first climb. I was still within striking distance of the sub 24 hours I came to accomplish but just barely. I had gone out strong in the morning and tried to collect many miles before sunrise. It rose. I wilted like a dandelion on a dashboard. I fake smiled through early aid stations. I got passed by groups of local runners. I stayed on a trajectory to make the half way point in eleven hours. Then the cursed section of the race was in my sights. Big Mountain to Lambs Canyon. This is where everyone blows up. I knew it from last year and from every race report and here I was, trying to stay hydrated running straight into the sun at 96 degrees. It sucked. Everyone I saw was suffering and the trail told a tale of lost stomaches in the wet earth splattered near cactus and baked grass. I felt like I was pulling through. My stomach was still in tact. I was drinking and eating and doing the best I could. I was slow but still on plan. I headed to Lambs Canyon to meet my first pacer Ben Lewis (third place last year) and to cool down. I stopped a mile or so from the aid station to pee and what came out was the color of old transmission fluid... red, blood red. I couldn't believe it. I wanted to cry. I wanted to call Jane. I knew my race was over. I was mad. I ran hard to the aid station to get in one last good mile. I got in and the scale said I was down 9 pounds from check in. It was wrong of course, I was probable only down 5 or 6 but still I never lose much weight while running. I collapsed into a chair and Ben went to work. I told him I was done because of the blood. Ben is in the medical world and so was a nurse at the aid station. They both checked me out and decided it wasn't a kidney issue but rather a dehydrated bladder which, with rehydration could bounce back. I chugged a bottle of water, then became a fountain. Next I was covered in Ice. 6 one gallon bags of ice all over my body and head. Ben said I was to sit there until I shivered. I sat and melted ice for 40 minutes. Finally something inside me went "twing" and I felt human again. Then I got goosebumps, then a shiver. I drank ginger ale and if stayed down, I threw down some watermelon, yes! I got up, sauntered to the porta potty, I exited with two thumbs up. We left the triage aid station and headed on up the road.
     Ben brought me back to life and got me going again for the next 25 miles. I was grateful beyond words for his calm way of allaying my fears of the situation and getting me out and back into the race. My time was secondary now to finishing. Night descended and the temperature dropped but remained hot. We chatted our way to Brighton and the pacer switch.
     Brighton was where my runner, and many beside him, dropped last year. There are two rooms in the lodge, the front room and the morgue in the back where runners lay down or attempt to remotivate. I stayed away from the morgue. I tried to duct tape a heel blister and changed socks. I replaced the batteries in my Princeton Tec headlamp and reloaded my pack with food. I headed into the night with Bethany Lewis, Ben's wife and a very talented runner in her own right. We chatted and climbed in the heat of the night. Thankfully she knew the trails and I didn't have to spend energy in route finding. We were heading up the "grunt" climb when we were passed by my friend Tom Remkes. Tom said, "come with me." I said, "Thanks but I have to stay here and puke." So I did. For what seemed an eternity. Blowup number two of the day. I lost both my lunch and my will to push hard. From there I decided I liked the look of the blue buckle you get for finishing between 24 and 30 hours. I slowed and Bethany and I passed a pleasant evening chatting until we hit the "Dive and Plunge" section of the course which is steep, narrow chutes with marble size, loose rocks for footing and no bail out sections. One must jog/ski/shuffle/swear/butt slide/ run down these horrible parts then they repeat over and over again on quads which have already seen too much. By the time we hit the new reroute section of the course, with but 8 or 9 miles to go, the forrest started to mock me and the grass started to dance. My head was becoming a liability as I started seeing things which were not there. I slowed more. We power walked our way to the last aid station. Five miles to go and I suddenly smelled the barn. Actually we saw the finish from way above the valley. I started to run. We ran, we ran hard and fast. We started passing people, some with their shorts around their ankles in bushes, but still passed. We hit the final paved road section of two miles and passed two more runners. We were doing sub 8 minute miles as we finally got to the finish line. I clocked in 26 hours 19 minutes and 23rd place. A fairly pedestrian time but considering the course, the heat, the blowups, the fact I thought I was done at mile 52, I'm pleased with the finish and the lessons learned.
     I can't thank Ben, Bethany and their daughter Ada Lewis enough. They gave up an entire weekend to drag my butt around the Wasatch range. I also need to thank my wife Jane for being so supportive and understanding of my odd hobby. Seven Hills Running Shop supports me in these endeavors and Phil supplied me with the Hoka Stinson Trail shoe that took me from mile one to one hundred. I have never had happier ankles than I had after wearing the Hokas over some brutal terrain. I also have to praise my Julbo Sunglasses which kept my eyes from burning up in the Utah scorch.
     The worst thing about running such a tough Wasatch 100 this year is that I know I'll be back to try to get under 24 hours. I do not look forward to that day.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hardrock Hewey and the Psoas Kablooey

"Dale, do I get a medal?" The first words out of my mouth after collapsing at the bottom of the Hardrock 100 finish rock. Followed by the sound of everyone at the finish exhaling.

In 1957 my Dad, Jerry Hewey and three of his ski instructor friends from Aspen took two canoes and paddled from Denver, Colorado to Old Town, Maine using only human power. It took them 6 months of bug bites, leaches, treacherous waterways and a lot of will power and beer. This is in my vernacular. They could have, but did not, quit. I have always seen my Dad as a superman. I hope to be the same for my son. Hardrock 100 2013 was a solid test.

My race was going so good. I had an arrangement with my wife Jane and kids to go it alone this year at Hardrock. Ultrarunning is a selfish endeavor and to be able to spend two full weeks in Silverton, at altitude, previewing the course and soaking in the very essence of this epic race was amazing. I did trail work with Rick Trujillo, I hung out with the trail marking crews and soaked in the Ouray Hotsprings with other grizzled Hardrockers. I stopped on dusty street corners and talked running with Fast Eddie and The Matt Hart. I drank beers at the Avon Hotel with legends. I camped by Mineral Creek for a week. Bathing in the river and stewing in altitude. I moved into a rented house for race week and had my crew trickle into the one bedroom cabin until it was full of gear and bodies and laughter. It was absolute joy. I wasn't nervous, just ready. Race day dawned and I hit the dirt roads of Silverton with 140 hearty souls full of hope. 104 would find their way back within the 48 hour limit.

I had a pace chart to get me to the finish at 29 hours. Within the first two miles I had managed to lose both my sunglasses and my interest in said pace chart. I climbed the first 13,000 ft pass with Darcy Africa and Jon Robinson (the best Seattle ultra runner you've never heard of). Dropping into Chapman aid station I was surprised to find my crew of Annie and Jeason Murphy ready and waiting. I rolled on from there over the miles passing the time and topography pleasantly enough until I missed a turn on the way to Maggie's  aid station. I went about a half mile too far, saw Karl Meltzer crest a ridge and not reappear. Damn it! I lost three placings. By pole creek I had gained back two spots. I ran into Sherman aid station a bit worked but alright (mile 30). Next up: 14,000ft Handies Peak. I was feeling great ascending Handies, passed Jared Campbell who was yodeling to the wildflowers, and was soon above timberline. It was hot and it was humid, very humid for the mountains. By the time the cold rain took hold of the peak, I was glad to have its bracing sting. Everyone else changed colors as their rain gear appeared. I pulled up my arm sleeves and hiked on passed Jamil Courey who sat like a statue on the side of the mountain. By now I knew I was sitting in the top 10, probably top 8. Nick Courey and Ted Mahon were just ahead of me and I kept them in sight as I descended from the heavens into Grouse Gulch aid station where I picked up pacer number one Tonya Hoffman.
We climbed, chatted, gawked at the amazing scenery and switchbacked forever up Engineer Pass until we were rewarded with a sweet 8 mile downhill jaunt down bear creek to Ouray. We passed Ted along the way and had daylight all the convoluted way to town. By Ouray, my stomach started to get empty and unhappy. I was getting queasy and cranky at the aid station even though my crew were stellar. The aid station was excellent. When asked what I wanted from their menu, the thing which lit up most was RUBEN. I left with a ziploc baggie of watermelon, refreshed waters, a full Ruben sandwich and my next pacer, childhood friend Chris Keleher. We walk/ hiked almost all of the next 8 mile Camp Bird road in the dark. The Ruben did the trick to quell my stomach. We passed Joe Grant, a shadow on the side of the dirt road surrounded by a conclave of concerned shapes and a truck. We passed Nick and his pacer Justin just before Governor's aid station. We reloaded with soup and melon and headed up, up, up the three-headed climb to Kroger's Canteen, a cliff perch aid station manned by Roch Horton and Scotty Mills. I felt good, ate perogies and didn't dawdle. Down we sped to Telluride. Mile 70 I was picking up time on my neglected pace chart.
Telluride aid station, 12:45AM. I switched to pacer #3 Jeason Murphy. We left the aid station as Nick came in. I was in front, heading up a single track trail, and ran directly into a cut Aspen tree. The tree was lying straight in the trail, cut side downhill, as I ran up. I saw the circle of wood but before my groggy mind could decipher what it was, Blammo! right in the gut. My stomach muscles were tight from running 70 miles, but it still knocked me back and I had to evaluate, "Am I alright?" I seemed to be. We departed after Jeason launched the offending tree into the forrest. We climbed up and out of Telluride doing great. The course markers are made of metal and spin on their posts so headlamps catch their flash at night making course-finding easy. At around 11,000 ft. I went to follow the reflection of my Princeton Tec headlamp on the next marker. I realized what I was seeing wasn't a marker at all. Two glowing green eyes were watching us from above. We saw the same eyes again two miles later.  Mountain Lion, most likely. Another reminder of the benefits of having a pacer. We topped Oscar's Pass and dropped into Cunningham aid station which was totally asleep at 4:30AM. We helped ourselves and I picked up my last pacer for the race, Allen Skytta. I was starting to feel weakness in my back as we left. Our first order of business was trekking up Grant's Swamp Pass to the most brutal climb of the race. We scrambled over the top, still gaining time but I was feeling the weight of my pack. It had been raining which made the ascent up Grant's Pass
much easier than in practice runs, because earlier runners had kicked hand and foot holds into the sand up the steep chute. We crested as Nick appeared at the bottom. We hustled on ignoring the sunrise. As we ran down hill I could feel my body leaning oddly forward. My stability was becoming an issue and the steep side-slope was precarious. We made the KT aid station in good time. The first thing I saw was Diana Finkle sitting in a truck in a sleeping bag. She had been top 5 for a while and now she was out. It scared me to know it could be me in that truck. The aid station had very little we wanted... half a sip of coffee and a cold cup of soup. We were only one aid station away from the finish. We headed out. I didn't think of stopping or going back to the aid station to rest, though my body was starting to revolt. We started climbing and my body pitched forward like a puppet without a hand. I was having problems breathing because of my posture. We would stop, I would catch my breath, and we would continue to climb. Gradually over the next few hours, it was a rinse, wash, repeat cycle as my psoas muscles weakened and my body bent more and more. Nick passed us. It sucked. I tried to pursue, but my body wouldn't allow any more exertion than five or ten steps. Bend, stop, breathe. Repeat. I had to let him go. My game was changing rapidly. I had to let go of racing. I let go of finishing under 29 hours. I let go of Ego. I let go of top ten. I let go of everything except finishing. Hardrock is about finishing. I couldn't let my efforts, my time away from family, all the planning, the team of supporters who traveled to help me, I absolutely couldn't let all that go to waste. I figured I had about 20 hours to get in those last 5 miles. I knew I wasn't in danger of kidney failure as my hydration was good and I was lucid. If only we could straighten out my damn back. Allen tried everything. I was draped across rocks, I was stretched across his hip, I was told to find my woo-woo place. I was passed by Jared on his way to 7th place. I howled at the rocks, I growled. Allen kept my focus, we slowly worked our way down the mountain. He, stoic, me, bent like a little old man looking for pennies. We finally got to the river at Mineral Creek
where we crossed to the cheers of Annie and Jeason. I was a poor sight to see and the cheers turned to tears as we left for our last two miles. The closer to the end I got, the closer to the ground I got. The tree, I was to later learn but suspected even then, had hit my gut and weakened my Psoas muscles which are internal muscles supporting both abs and back. Compromised as they were, they couldn't support my upper body thereby leaving me the Hunchback of Hardrock. I suggested a stick. Allen found me a nice one which really helped to keep my nose off the ground. Jason Poole came past, stopped and asked if he could help. Class act guy. I wished him well on his way to 8th place. Finding the end took an eternity. We finally got above town and started to hobble the three blocks to the finish when we heard Darcy Africa (women's winner Hardrock 2013) with pacer Krissy Moehl coming up behind us. I tried to turn on what jets I had left. I began to black out and slide slowly down my stick. Enough of that. I was determined not to pass out one block from the finish.
Darcy passed and beat me by 1minute. I focused. Allen talked me in to the finish, "focus on the rock, don't look around, listen to me, we can do this, focus on the rock." I took my broken body and flung it down the road to the finish.
Your time stops when you kiss the rock. I tried to stop and kiss but I had no brakes. Instead, I ran head long into the rock and sort of lipped it as I crumpled to its base and sat nearly lifeless for a beat or two. "Dale, do I get a medal?" 29 hours, 55 minutes, 10th place.
     Allen lifted my left arm, Seb, the winner of Hardrock 2013, grabbed my right and they floated me to the nice medical area of the finish. I sat quite a while and was deemed in fine health aside from the fact my body had become an accordion. I was released to find food, beer, shower, and sleep.
     In the days since Hardrock 2013, I have received a lot of attention for my finish. It was hard. I dug as deep as I've ever had to dig to finish a race. Ultrarunning is a selfish sport but I felt like I was running for the team of people who supported me. My wife Jane, my kids, my parents, my pacers, my crew, my friends, my family and the entire Hardrock community. This race, this finish, means more to me than all the belt buckles in Texas. I aspire to be the superman Dad to my kids that my Dad is to me.
I have recovered well during a week off, and am now back to training for Wasatch 100 in September.
Photo credits include: Durango Herald, Irunfar, Bob Macgillivray, Tonya Hoffman, Allen Skytta, Jennifer Hughes.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hardrock 2013 pre race

     I am sitting in the shade of the Silverton Library poaching Wifi and going a little stir crazy. I flew into Denver a week ago, borrowed my Mom's purple pickup truck and have been living out of it and a little blue tent for the last week. I love being at high altitude. I love my family. They are spending these two weeks at low altitude thus affording me the opportunity to do things like stand on a dusty street corner in Silverton and talk Hardrock with Scott Jaime and Matt Hart for a couple of hours.
     I am a very busy person. I have an active family, run a small business, am starting another business and I train hard. Finding myself in a tent with no schedule and a limited run plan can be rather relaxing yet also somewhat maddening.
     2010 I came to this race with the full family and a quaint hotel. It was an adventure but also a tough time for everyone. They grew tired of the town and I grew more and more uptight as the race got closer. The race was great and I finished 8th but the experience was not one to be repeated in the same way. Three long years later I got back in. Jane and I agreed, ultra running is a very selfish sport and to succeed the runner must concentrate on him/herself with as little distractions as possible. Now the tent comes into focus, perched in a meadow along South Mineral creek. Come Tuesday I move into a little rental house until the Sunday after the race. Once I'm in the house, shit gets real, drop bags get made, underwear gets washed.
     To quote Matt Hart, "Hardrock doesn't care what your last two weeks of training have been like. It'll chew you up and spit you out no matter what you've done." Therefore I am trying my best to not run today. It is hard. Every day since I got to Colorado I have sought high places to traverse. Yesterday I climbed one of the steepest climbs of the race up to Kroger's at Virginias Pass. A vertigo inducing perch above 12,000 ft. I'll be there in the dark not accepting what Roch Horton and Scotty Mills offer me.
     I seem to be ending each day here drinking beer and talking Hardrock with Hardrockers. It doesn't get old. The stories are as epic as the race. The people here all share the same genetic mutation which makes them see 50 miles as a short race and black toenails as normal. This is Hardrock. This is why I am here. This is the vacation I am lucky enough to have been chosen from the lottery to attend.
     I gotta wrap this up because I'm going to attempt to nap. Wish me luck.
P.S.- My goal is to finish, break 29 hours and go top 5. My plan is to be efficient then race the last 30 miles.
     So happy to be supported by my sponsors: Jane Hewey, 7hills Running shop, Drymax socks, Princeton Tec, Birthday boy Allen Skytta and Scott shoes. I hope to be kissing the rock for all of us.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sun Mt. 50 mile 2013

     The old west town of Winthrop, in the North Cascades, is absolutely lovely. I walked the boardwalk, visited the mining museum and shot a man just fer snorin' too loud. Then I slept in my Soccer Mom Mini Van and got up plenty early to run the Sun Mt. 50 mile.
     Race director James Varner told us "If you come upon a cow who doesn't want to move, just give it your best cowboy 'Hyah!'" Minutes later we were running down a dirt road. I chose to try out the Scott Kinabalu Trail Shoe for this race as a test to see if it could beat the Montrail Fluidflex for my Hardrock setup. Scott McCoubry was kind enough to send me a pair so I flew the Scott colors. The Kinabalu is, in my opinion, a great trail shoe, light yet stable, good tread without being over built. In my previous outings I noticed this shoe performed great on technical and soft trail but was stiff and awkward on road or hard pack trail. The first few miles of Sun Mt. was awkward until we hit a cattle fence.
     The race was on and a guy in orange shot past me on the dirt road leading to the cow meadow at about mile 3. He hit the fence, the meadow and was met by about 100 black cows, calfs and bulls. I was 50 feet behind him when he "Hyahed" and the cows began to Moooove. They ran with us, they ran by us, we were in the middle of a black cow stampede. Dust, hooves, water bottles, a deafening chorus of angry mooing, Glenn Tachiyama taking pictures, more cows, more noise of legs and beef pounding the meadow, finally the trail rose above the melee leaving the front runners exhilarated and a bit weary as the lowing died off in the distance as the next gate opened and clanged shut.
     Sun Mt. is beautiful, wildflowers populate every view, deer bound by and birds of every ilk sing songs and place bows in your hair as you dress for the ball. I was pushing through it at a faster pace than I thought prudent. I was running my race but trying to keep tabs on the guy in front of me. I knew the race was a fast track with only 7,000ft elevation gain. I didn't want to leave anything on this course. I wanted to suffer. I wanted to see where my fitness lay for my Hardrock training. I was pushing hard with a reason. If I won the race or not, I was on a mission seeking knowledge. Then it got hot out. The clouds burned off, the trail became more exposed, my hat found my hand, the small stream crossings became head wash stations.
     I hit my 30 mile doldrums at about mile 25. I got cranky. I was doing loops of winding ski trails with no other purpose than to add milage. I got to mile 27 aid station and must have looked like I needed a diaper change and a nap. Instead I had watermelon (my happy food) and some PBJ's which I stuffed in a pocket for later. My mood started to change. I could feel the malaise peeling away and I hit a good rhythm. I rolled into the mile 35 aid station feeling good, motivated. They said I was the first person to visit. Wha? I said what about Orangeguy? They said no, I was the first. Hmm? He must have either dropped or gone off trail. I took off even more focused for the last 15 miles. It was still hot but my hydration felt right and my fuel of PBJ and WaterH20 was doing the trick. I felt light and fast. I picked it up, I wanted to suffer remember? The miles clipped by until the last aid station. They said all I had to do was ascend Pattterson Mt., descend and the finish was about a mile after that around the paved lake. I filled a bottle and hit it. The climb was immediate and slow. My race goals were: Finish, Test , Break 7 hour, Win. I had about 1 hour 10 minutes to cover the last 6 miles. Seemed doable to break 7 and win. I trudged on up that exposed, sage dotted, stupid mountain. It wouldn't end. I got to the first, second, false summit. There was a sign, go up to the top to the turnaround. Two more false summits and I got to the turnaround and did. I headed down. About half way to the sign I saw Colin Miller in second place coming up! Shit! He's a stout runner and he looked solid. He probably got a good look at his reflection in my dinner plate eyes as I sprinted by. The race was ON and there was 2 miles to the finish. I screamed down that trail. I blurred past Glenn T.

photo by Glenn Tachiyama
I got to the paved road around Patterson Lake and sprinted. One mile should be over in less than 7 minutes. I ran hard, my head was light. I got to a trail and thought just up and around the next bend. I slowed slightly at the incline. Another turn, no finish line. I will not get passed in the last mile. Another turn and... nothing. My legs were done, my head was no longer attached and the trail was swimming. Next turn, nothing. No crowd, no cars, nothing. I could feel my resolve slipping but remembered my goal of leaving it all on the trail and I kept churning my legs. Eventually, my eye caught a flash of metal in the forrest, then a sound, more sound and I gave my last push up the hill to the finish and victory. 6:49:08 a new Personal Best at the 50 mile. I was cooked. Candice put a chair near me and I was sucked into it against my will. That chair had me velcroed to it for the next half hour. Colin came in ten minutes later. He said he didn't give chase because he's running SanDiego 100 in a few weeks and wanted to save his legs. I said, "you could have told me on the mountain!" Actually, I'm really glad he didn't. I would not have pushed as hard if I'd have known. 
     My conclusions from Sun Mt. 50 were this: Scott Kinabalu is the shoe I'm going to wear at Hardrock this year. They are too good on tricky technical and supportive enough to make it the full 100. I may have the Montrails in a drop bag at mile 60 just in case. The Methow valley is amazing and worthy of a much longer visit. I'll take cows over cowbells at a race every time. My fitness is right on track. Winning my first 50 miler was celebrated with a jump in the lake and a long drive home before the I5 bridge fell into the drink. Thanks to Rainshadow Running for the fun race, to Scott McCoubrey for the excellent shoes, and to my beautiful wife and kids for allowing me the adventure.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Yakima 50k and Montrail Fluid flex review

     I want to find out who is responsible for designing the new Montrail Fluid flex shoe because they are getting a valentine's card from me next February 14th. Brian Morrison at Fleet Feet Seattle gave me a pair of these beauties to try out and review. I take a shoe review seriously. I believe a good shoe can change over time and what was once a sweet ride can become an injury machine if it breaks down too fast. I decided to beat the Fluid Flex into the ground and find out what they were made of.
     I had been using the Montrail Rogue Fly as my training and race shoe for trails this last year. The Fly is a great shoe only it is so minimal my feet were taking a pounding. What I loved about the Fly was exactly what they transferred to the Fluid Flex. This shoe is light, 7oz for Men's 8.5 with a slipper like upper which hugs the mid foot and yet leaves enough room in the toe box for piggy spreading. What the Flex has which the Fly lacked is a layer of cushy cushy Evo foam to absorb the abuse one doles out on rough trails or hard cement.
The added cush combined with a lug pattern built to be a hybrid for trail and road, as there are lugs only on the forefoot and heel, keep the weight in check. The shoe has a 4mm drop and a flat bed which leaves the running to the runner not the shoe designer. My only gripe so far is the offset tongue which follows the curve of the foot makes for some openings in the upper along the tongue allowing debris to get in. The Ultimate test: Yakima 50k
     The Yakima 50k has some seriously gnarly trail sections. From crumbly rock to baked jeep road to sandy switchbacks this race is a killer on the feet. With the same average elevation gain and loss as Hardrock per mile (almost 10,000 ft for 50k) if you can get past your burning quads to even feel your feet at the finish you probably didn't run hard enough. Add in beautiful views of sweeping sage covered valleys backed by snowy mountains, a bodacious hit of sunshine and the perks of a James Varner Rainshadow Running event (Beer and bluegrass at the finish), and you've got a picture perfect race day.
     I van de camped at the start and awoke to find blue skies and friendly faces. I got my bib and it was number 1. I was a marked man. I was also really proud to pin numero uno on as it was validation of my past two wins at this race. I was hoping to land top three as this year the field was fast with speedsters coming in from Montana, Oregon, Utah and the Great White North.
     We hit the trail and I climbed, descended, climbed, repeat. Up, down almost never flat except one long sagey valley midway between aid stations 1&2 and 4&5. The course is an out and back. My plan was to run the first half and race the second. I rolled into the half way aid station #3 in 6th place feeling great in 2:38. I relied on only PBJ, water and S-caps. My feet felt great. I found by sipping water more often and never gulping, my stomach did not get overloaded or queazy. There was a nice breeze this year which kept the temp down and made for faster running. I started racing and slowly picked off the first two guys in front of me. By the time I got to the last (never ending) climb I passed the kid who was in third place and tried to put some distance between us but he stuck with me for a long time. I was finally able to pull away on the 9th false summit of the climb. By kid, I mean he is 17 years old and a hell of a runner.
The final plunge down the mountain is so steep and perilous it should be named either the Toebang Express or maybe The Bungee Jump. I plummeted down and almost wiped out 6.5 times. Yes I kept count. I sprinted back across the Yakima river's rickety bridge and on to the finish in 5:15:14 taking four minutes off my Course Record time of last year, running a negative split and good enough for 3rd place this year. Maxwell Ferguson destroyed the CR in 4:55 and Matt Hart captured second in 5:00:30. Smiles, handshakes, beer, pizza, cramping, laughing, watermelon, and a long drive home capped a great weekend.
     You never really know what damage you've done until you take a shower. As I washed off my toes I still had all my toenails! The combination of the Montrail Fluid Flex and Drymax socks kept my feet in great shape for such a brutal course. I had a nice round blister on my heel from the rock I refused to stop and eject but that is a combination of my dumb tenacity and the gap in the shoe tongue.
     In all I have run the Montrail Fluid Flex on roads, on soft PNW singletrack and on cruddy desert trails at race pace. My conclusion: Amazing shoe! Right now I feel I may have found my shoe for Hardrock 100. I might have to wear gators though and I think I ripped out some of the stitching while kicking rocks or rubbing up against sage brush. Still, someone at Montrail is getting a Valentine.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Coyote Backbone

      When the Race Director says to do something, you do it. When the race director is dressed in a full cow suit complete with udders, you don't question, you do. Chris, the RD for the Coyote Backbone 68 miler was very clear: Racing is bad form and you will be penalized with minutes added to your final time. Entertaining aid station volunteers, visiting interesting sites along the trail, bringing frivolity to the event will be met with minutes taken off your final time. I packed a pair of Glasses with nose and mustache in my running pack and hit the Backbone Trail at it's start in Santa Monica, California. It was Noon and hot. I was sweating like crazy before I had a chance to warm up. I watched as a few young guys took off fast up the trail, I hung for a while then fell in with Evan Hone and we chatted until I lost a piece of a pin from my pack, I stopped to search, he went on. That was the last I saw of the fast young contingent.
     Site number one on the sites not to be missed list was Eagle Rock, a big formation with Hollywoodesque views of L.A. I hopped off the trail and scrambled up to find a great view and some volunteers from the next aid station who said I was the first person from the 12 O clock starters to visit. We took pictures, had some laughs and they said I'd earned a bunch of bonus minutes (negative minutes subtracted rather than Boner minutes which are added at the race end.) By climbing Eagle rock I had managed to pass the fast young guys in front of me. This is the game of Coyote runs. It is about fun. I fell in with a group of four guys who skipped Eagle rock and we came into the first aid station together greeted by Wendy Wheeler Jacobs in a full bunny suit. She was the shepherd for the noon start group. We ate, they ran off, I stayed and made jokes then looked around and found the hidden easter egg at the aid station which netted more minus minutes. Back on the trail I caught the group, passed them and went on to the next aid station. It was still really warm for my Northwest blood and I knew I was on the cusp of trouble with an overheated stomach. I tried my best to drink enough, keep up with the electrolytes and motor on. I rolled into an aid station at mile 23ish and started feeling lethargic and like not eating, I lingered (why not) and talked to some runners I'd met at dinner the night before. I ate a bit, reloaded my waters and hit the trail at the same time as a tall guy who was in good spirits. I used his enthusiasm to pull me up the trail and soon I felt better too. His name was Jay Smithburger from Ohio. I knew his name from results. He was about my age and we soon were chatting away. The aid station at mile 32 had a Poquito Tiajuana theme and was sponsored by Patagonia and manned by my host for the weekend George Plomarity. It was great to see George and to get a quesodilla. The rest of the run turned from evening to night. Jay and I ran together both going through waves of feeling good and bad. It was like having a pacer, a trail buddy. We had an unspoken pact to stay together. Our pace seemed to fit each other and really, this wasn't a race even though we were moving at a good clip and never did get passed. By mile 52 my stomach overruled my decision to put chicken noodle soup in it. When I returned from yodeling to the bushes I decided to try a Ginger chew and a huge strawberry. They stayed down. From there it was a balancing act of night running, selective eating at aid stations and bad milage math. Eventually we squeezed through Buttcrack Rock, passed by Sandstone Peak and caught the scent of the Pacific Ocean. The last 2.5 miles of sweet single track we could see the finish line party in full swing about a quarter of a mile down the canyon only it takes 2.5 miles of switchbacks to get there. We did. Our time on the trail was around 13:35. It was 1:35 in the morning. Jay had to catch a 9 O'clock flight back to Ohio. We said our congratulations and goodbyes then I crawled into my rental car and slept for four hours before waking hungry knowing there were pancakes and Spam at the finish party.
     Coyote Cohorts are everything right with trail running. Community over competition. Fun rules the day and a sense of mischief imbues the weekend. The cast of characters who ran the race or volunteered were a list of ultra running celebrities having a blast. These are the people I want to be around. I will definitely be back for more and more and more. Thanks George for inviting me in.
     Later in the week I found out I finished 5th! 41 minutes ahead of Jay even though we hit the finish line at the same time.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nightlight Hewey

     I am packing for the Coyote Backbone 68 mile trail run. Run, not race as per the Race Directors. The Coyote Cohorts put on trail races/ runs with an emphasis on fun and frivolity over fast and furious. I've heard tale of their doings and am anxious to see for myself the whimsy of their ways.
     Coyote Backbone starts in Santa Monica (L.A.) and goes up to the Backbone trail system which wends northwest up the coast until it drops back down in Ventura 68 miles later. I expect the trails to be dry and rocky with a chance of Rattle snakes and movie stars. I hope I do not run into movie stars as they can be dangerous when threatened. For shoes I'm trying to decide between Gucci, Inov-8 or Montrail Rogue Fly.
     This run/ race starts in 3 waves. Slower runners begin at 6am, mid pack at 9am and faster folks start at 12 noon. The idea being lots of socializing on the trails and most people finishing at around the same time. I start at 12 which also means- bing- Night running! I love me some nightrunning. Which leads to: A NEW SPONSOR!
     I have been lucky enough to sign on with PRINCTON TEC for my headlamp and hand torch needs for 2013. I was sent a box of lights and batteries and have been trying them out and love them. After test running headlamps while marking Chuckanut 50K last week, I think I have my light system dialed in. I will be using the Apex pro headlamp (lithium version) and Amp hand held. The funny thing is that the Coyote Cohorts give each runner a nickname prior to the race which sticks with that runner forever. My nickname: Nightlight Hewey.
     Forecast is for rain in L.A. and a high of 67degrees. It sounds dreamy to this NW dude. I'm still deciding on what to wear (costumes are encouraged). And what to do to entertain aid station workers. If you put on a show they take minutes off your finish time. If you kvetch, they add minutes.
     I really should get to packing. Where did I put my sunglasses? Sunblock? Botox?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

LordHill 50k n' stuff

     I realized why it takes me at least a week to write a race report. I race really hard and it takes me a while to fully recover both physically and mentally. "The Stupids" is not only a great name for a punk band but the actual term for the mental vapidity which afflicts ultra runners post event. A combination of post event let down, physical exhaustion and sleep deprivation creates a bitter stew which, once tasted, makes one a slack jawed nincompoop. The longer the race, the longer the stupids lasts. Luckily for me and the readers of this blog, 50k stupids last less than a week.
     The Lord Hill 50k was run on Sunday Feb. 24th, the day after Theo's 8th birthday party. If anything can make you ready to run an Ultra, it is attending a child's birthday party. Lord Hill has been around for 10 years but has not garnered a reputation as a destination race but rather a tune up for the season. Roger Michel and his Evergreen Trail Running put on an excellent, low key event which gathered around 65 runners for the 50k but a total of almost 400 runners for the combination 50k, 20m, 10m, 5m. The 50k and the 20 milers started at the same time. The course is a ten mile loop which starts out steep, gets steeper, then levels out and rolls until you go back down and repeat.
     Disclaimer: I got into the race for free by winning an entry via a FleetFeet Seattle contest. I had two goals in mind. I wanted to win and set the course record. I hear these words on the screen and in my head and I seem like an egomaniac. Such pomp, such confidence, who do I think I am? It is very odd weighing persona, results and expectations with other realities like being a short, aged, city dweller. So there I was at the start line, in front. We ran off into the grey morning, up the damp single track and I hung with the lead pack of five or six. We hit the Lord of Hills and the lead guy, a young dude in a trucker hat with a mustache said, "that's gunna suck the third time." So I knew he was running the 50k. We got to the first aid station (out of 2) and to my delight they had Nutella and Jelly sandwiches! Score! I grabbed some and dashed out trailing the pack. I caught up with a nice guy named Jason who was doing the 20 mile and we chatted almost the whole way back to the start. Lap two I dropped off my vest as the day was staying a balmy 46ish. The course has a couple of out and back loops where you can see who's in front of you and by how much. Approaching aid station Nutella I saw trucker hat and he was about .8 of a mile in front of me. I decided to push this lap harder. I passed the rest of the 20 milers and the final 50ker. It was now just me and trucker hat dude. At the start of the race, RD Roger said anyone could drop down to the 20 mile if they weren't feeling it doing the 50K. I realized as I approached the start/finish I could drop down and win the 20 mile then do another loop to get in my miles for the weekend. No. I signed up to race 50k, 50k it would be. I ran off on loop 3. Loop courses are social as there are people all over the place. I got to see a lot of friends out there, some many times. I was red lining but feeling good. My hydration, nutrition and salt were spot on. I was heading for Nutella central and waiting to see how far behind I was and I waited and waited, finally, when I was almost at the aid station along came Trucker. I Nutellaed up and was on his heels. I caught him soon thereafter (mile 26 or so) and we chatted about running and whatnot. His name was Jordan and it was his first Ultra. He is in college and lives in Bend. He is half my age. He said he felt good but really needed to learn more about nutrition during races. We passed Glenn Tachiyama taking pictures and he captured the moment. Then we hit a hill and Jordan said, "see you later." as his legs wouldn't allow him to run up the slope. I still had Nutella pumping through my blood and sprinted up the incline and down the following miles. Now I had the win in hand, now for the C.R. I thought the Course Record was 4:18 held by Miles Ohlrich who was also running today. I came into the start/finish line at 4:04 with only a 1.1mile mini loop to complete. That 1.1 loop was a nightmare. Up, up with some more up before the final sprint down a dirt road to the finish. I broke the theoretical tape in 4:15:24. Roger congratulated me on my CR. I said, "Yeah, got it by 3 minutes!" He said, "Uh, no, actually the old record was 4:36." Jordan came in 11 minutes later in a time also under the CR. Mel Boss from Kelowna BC got third Overall and 1st woman.

     A great day racing. I also got the chance to hang out with a lot of runners who I'd never hung out with before. The community of Ultra runners is growing every year. The post race soup chats and note comparisons and jokes and smiles is what makes this a sport like no other.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Orcas and Bridal Trails 50ks

     The first two races of the year are done and done. My first ever trail race was Bridal Trails in 2008, I was training for the Boston Marathon and Allen Skytta said I had to be part of his team along with Tanya Hoffman and Owen Connell. I was to run two 5 mile "laps" of a muddy horse track at night through a twisty, deep, forest lit with glow sticks and packed with other runners. So I did. I was hooked and blame my entire trail career on Allen and his poor decision making.
     Since 2008, I have had some great runs at Bridal Trails. It is a 50k made up of 6 loops around the perimeter of a State Park designated for horsey people and the poop machines they ride. The mud and whatnot is usually quite deep, the weather traditionally crappy and the single aid station stocked with friendly faces and the usual ultra fare. One year I ran the 50k solo in a pair of Santa boxers because... I had a pair. This year I decide to go hatless and instead wear a tall blonde wig and a head lamp because... I have one. It was a very cold race day and I was glad for the wig as it proved to be quite warm and, dare I say, attractive. At least that's what I gathered from the comments at the start line. The frigid conditions meant the horsemuffins and the mud were frozen solid making the track much, much faster than usual. I was cold and it was light out which, If one runs really fast, can last for the first 3.5 loops as the race starts at 3:15pm with dark descending at around 4:30pm or whenever one's wig slides down over one's eyes. I usually run races slower at the start and then pick it up as the race progresses. Bridal Trails is different as I try to put in as many miles as possible before the forest closes around me like an eyeslitless burka. I got in almost 4 laps before the lights went on and the wig came off. The ground was killing my feet as the frozen mud was uneven and I was pounding it with a new pair of shoes I was testing out. Having no idea where I was in the standings I thought I was either first or second. Much to my surprise I was first! Then they noticed I didn't have the wig and I wasn't a woman so I was relegated to second place Men's. Lesson learned on that front. Fun race, my second fastest 50k ever as I came in at 3:44. Next year I'm thinking Abe Lincoln- Ultra Runner.

     If you haven't been to the Orcas Island 50k, it is hard to explain. Imagine a summer camp with cabins and a lodge at the base of a mountain covered in old growth forrest at the edge of an island dangling off the West coast like a snot rocket that didn't quite clear. Add in a pot luck, a bunch of beer, a bluegrass band, thrift store shirts, about 250 runners and the best race direction, course and volunteers anyone could ask for and you would start to scratch the surface of what James Varner's race is like.
     This was my fifth Orcas 50k. I have finished 16th, 6th, 5th and 5th. Each year the course changes slightly. This year it was totally remodeled. The old course had 4000-5000 ft of climbing, this year's was  8,500 ft. I loves to climb. My race plan was to let the super stacked field go and burn out on the climbs, then collect the carnage in the last two major climbs which start at mile 20. So I did. I ran smart and measured up the first two climbs chatting with Jason Hynd. The views from Mt. Pickett were ah-maze-ang. Blue skies, San Juan Islands, low fog, Mt. Baker lurking in the back round like a naughty volcano. We descended to the second aid station and I felt like I was starting to wake up. Motoring around lake Will-It-Never-End, I was looking forward to the mile 20 aid station where Gary Robbins (Hurt 100 Mile Course Record Holder Eh!) was playing caddy to my chocolate croissant. I stuffed it down my throat in about...17 minutes as I tried to eat and climb up the mountain at the same time. A random fellow told me I was now in 13th place which translates to mean I was in 14th place as random fellows on the trail always give false information. "One more mile to the aid station!" snicker, snicker. Anyway, I felt great and powered the climb catching a few people on the way. I pushed the downhill rollers on my way to the final climb. I knew I needed to punish the last climb at it was, The Last Climb. I ran almost the entire way up the back of Mt. Constitution and passed four more souls before hitting the aid station at the top. The next four miles were zigzaggy downhill and I pushed it hard. I wanted to leave it all on the course but kept wondering why? I knew no one was going to catch me and my place was secure so why push? Because I was challenging myself. I wanted to run my best time, I wanted to know I left it all out there. I got to the 1 mile left sign and charged harder, then much to my wondering eyes did appear, Matt Cecill from Victoria, who kicked my ass at Deception Pass 50k in December. We were about half a mile from the finish and he was surprised and disappointed to see me. We exchanged pleasantries and I felt kinda bad passing him because he's a really nice guy but this was a race. We came to a steep, short hill and I knew if I sprinted it I would send him the message that I was still burning strong. I did, all the way to the finish. My bib number was 123 my finish time was 4:56 I got 7th place and 8 a ton of food in the lodge afterwards. Because you are trapped on an Island, time slows down, conversations go longer and no one really finishes than leaves. Everyone sticks around and mingles until the drive to the ferry dock where you wait and mingle more until you get on the boat and then go upstairs to mingle your way back to the mainland. I'll be back next year to run my 6th Orcas 50k. I am lucky to have this race so close to home.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2012 review 2013 preview

It is alive! The blog wakes, a little groggy, after a long winter slumber. It looks around, sees an empty bottle of scotch, candy cane wrappers, a half full container of recovery drink powder. What the? Wiping the crust from its single eye it focuses on an expired 2012 Tribute to the Trails Calendar. There are races circled and notes jotted on at least one weekend of each month. Some have exclamation marks, some have tear smudges. The blog sits up, shakes its googly head and starts spitting up numbers: 3338 miles run, 64 miles per week, 9 miles per day. Wait... there is more: 11 ultras run, five wins, one failed FKT attempt, two marathons paced. Feeling better Bloggy attempts to stand, gets dizzy and sits back down, "Hooboy! 2012 was not all that easy." Here it comes, more info: Poisonous Spider Bite, bacterial infections, blood poisoning, chased by moose, ankle ligament, ten X tendonitis, dehydration, bonk de bonk bonk bonk. Better? Blog tries to sit up again. This time it works. Feeling lighter, feeling optimistic, head clearing, Blog stands. What's this? A crisp new 2013 Tribute to the Trails Calendar. Oh, it's on!

2013 is off to a great start. I tried to take as much of December off as possible to rest my body. I did race the Deception Pass 50k on Dec. 8th and got 8th place in an unexpectedly talented field. Lemons turned to Margaritas when I found out my time was the new Master's Course Record. Then the Margaritas turned back to lemons when I was informed I, once again, didn't clear the lottery for Western States 100. Either way, my scurvy has cleared up considerably.

Lotteries for important Ultras suck...unless you are ME! That's right. I got back into HARDROCK! The Ultra of Ultras. My goal has been to get back to Silverton and race Hardrock smart. It has been two long years of waiting and I'm finally back. July 12th & 13th. Hello verticle, it's me, Adam.

Tenative schedule for 2013 looks something like this:
Bridal Trails 50k, Orcas 50k, Coyote Backbone 68mile, Yakima 50k, Sun Mt. 50mile?, June? HARDROCK BABY, Squamish 50mile, Wasatch 100?(if not, UROC or RRR), oct,nov,dec.
Working on some exciting new sponsorship opportunities. I will keep Blog well fed all year but might give him next December off too... If he cleans up his room and brushes his teeth.