The Ultra Experience

Here's to the adventures of my life which are usually ultra marathon trail running or fly fishing but may include other trips, experiences, thoughts, opinions, or pretty much whatever I want. As co-founder of Altra Footwear my life and adventures seemingly revolve more around developing and promoting the best footwear in the world...and I love it!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hackberry Canyon April 25th-27th

My final trip as an Adventure Trip Leader with UVSC was a hit! It went smooth and everyone had a great time. We took two cars running a point-to-point trip of approximately 22 miles. We entered at Round Valley Draw, a small slot canyon that required a rope to lower packs and several sections of scrambling. It was narrow and gorgeous. After several miles it met another canyon creating Hackberry Canyon.
The middle section was desolate yet strikingly beautiful. There was no water the first 12 miles of the trip but we packed plenty. Soon the water started flowing and we filled are bottles. The next 10 miles were virtually walking through or constantly crossing the river. It was incredibly watching this canyon go from a dry slot canyon to a huge water filled canyon. The last couple miles of Hackberry the canyon narrowed again and the water filled the 20 foot gap between 600 foot cliffs on both sides. It was spectacular.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bonneville Shoreline Trail Marathon 2008- April 22nd

BSTM 08 has come and gone again. Three years in a row that I've participated in this unique and sweet event. I knew going into this race that it would not be an A-race for me this year. School/finals has been very stressful and I'm still working on my base since my injury prevented me from setting a big base in Feb or March. Plus I'd spent all day Friday on my feet flyfishing. However, I wanted to still push it and run well.

I got there late like usual and was in a horrible position when the race started. I kicked it into high gear the first 1/4 mile and put myself in 7th or 8th position. I felt comfortable and wanted to keep a very consistent pace throughout the race. I continued to pick my way up, occasionally passing people over those first couple of miles. By the time we got to mile 6 and one of two extremely steep and large climbs, I was less then 3 minutes behind the leader and in 2nd place. This held for a mile or so until Karl Karvis caught me. We ran together for the next couple of miles but on a long steep descent I felt a blister coming on my left heel. I hadn't blistered on my heel since last year BSTM. I was upset. Heading up into the first aid station I let Karl get a little ahead of me in preparation to stop and fix this oncoming blister.

I was carrying a little athletic tape with me so at the aid station I quickly took off my shoe and sock and taped up my heel. It seemed to work. It only took a minute or so but then I was off. The next section was a bit of a struggle for me. I was trying to catch up to Karl Jarvis but it wasn't happening. The wind was ridiculous, lots of mtn bikers, and my legs seemed heavy. I pushed through it and soon I was feeling better and cruising down the trail. Coming down Dry Canyon I felt awesome. Coming into the hospital aid station I was notified by a spectator that was exactly 4 minutes behind the leader! I wasn't doing too bad considering my preparation. Coming down the hill, Karl was at the aid station only a minute ahead of me. I filled up my water, ate a banana, and was off.

From AS#2 over to Red Butte Canyon I caught glimpses of Karl and I felt good motoring away at a nice clip. I was trying a new system of nutrition. I used the new Golite belt with one bottle, a 6 oz gel flask, and two small easy access hip pockets. The flask I filled with 4 oz of gel and 2 oz of water. My theory was I wanted to eat every 30 minutes, which in the past was too much for my stomach, but now it would only be 2/3 of a gel. Over the whole race I finished the 6 oz gel bottle, one clif blok, and two full gels. It worked great and I had no stomach issues and plenty of energy the whole race. My real problem (something always has to go wrong in an ultra) happened cresting Red Butte Gardens. My blister ripped open. I never get blisters while training. In fact I don't even get hot spots, but for some reason on race day my luck wears out and I blister. On a positive note I have learned to deal with blister pain. However, the first couple minutes after the blister rips is extremely painful no matter what.

I kept up my running pace as I ran through the UofU campus and up to the final aid station. Again I quickly filled up my water bottle and off I went. One of my goals this race was to run, not walk at all, the length of Dry Canyon until the off trail section. I was happy to accomplish my goal! As I started up off trail section of Dry Canyon I felt a few twitches in my legs. I quickly realized what it was. I was cramping! With the high winds my perspiration never accumulated and one water bottle with 3 aid stations was not enough unless I drank lots of extra water at the aid stations (which of course I had not). I took some salt and drank the last of my water bottle as I hobbled up onto the last huge climb. I hate this hill. My cramps were minimized for the moment so I got up the hill as quickly as possible. Last year my race ended here when the same heel blistered. This year was different but those last couple miles of downhill were all too similar. My blister was painful and the cramps returned. Several times I stopped due to the pain and tried to stretch and rub out the cramps. I still managed to get to the finish line in 3rd place with a time of 4 hrs 31 minutes.

Although the blisters and cramping sucked I felt I ran a great race. The wind was fierce and there were several sections of snow making this years conditions much slower than last year. I did run 12 minutes faster last year but with much better training. The nutrition was great but I just needed a handheld bottle and maybe a little more salt and I would have been fine on the cramping. Before the race was a bit of a rush and I think my shoes were a bit loose and I should have put Sportshield on my heel, which always keeps me from blistering. I had plenty of energy though, even at the end of the race which is a very good sign. Squaw Peak here I come!

Also, the Runner's Corner Ultra Team rocked the race! Karl Karvis was 2nd, I was 3rd, Shane Martin was 4th, and Joe Martell was around 10th (full results have not been posted but when they are, the link is: Anyway, Happy Trails!

Monday, April 7, 2008

UVU Natural History Excursion- Snow Canyon/Zions. April 1st-6th

Another spring trip to southern Utah! This trip was unique because it is an actual class at Utah Valley University (I'm trying to get in the habit of calling UVSC by it's new name but it's weird). We took two Geology professors and one botany professor and pretty much hiked around Utah's Dixie learning about the rocks and plants. It was an absolute blast and much needed break from work and school.

The first day was a travel and set up camp day. We car camped in Snow Canyon the whole time, eating dutch oven cooking and living luxuriously with flushing toilets. Thursday we spent the whole day in Zions doing day hikes and listening to various lectures. I learn so much better when I'm looking, seeing, and touching. I was so much more riveted and excited to learn than in my Geology 1010 class from 3 years ago and I should actually remember a lot of the information.

Friday was spent in Snow Canyon hiking though the sand dunes, volcanoes, and the inside of some lava tubes. Saturday was split between St George and Zions. Sunday was slot canyons and red cliffs state park. Hiking around and exploring these areas was fantastic! The best part was I got Geology credit for the whole thing while not being in the classroom but seeing, touching, and having fun.

As a trip leader I was in charge of the food and transportation. Pretty easy stuff. I was only able to squeeze a couple of runs in though, but I got to know Snow Canyon quite well on those 60 and 80 minute runs. The trail system was fantastic although a bit sandy. Happy trails and stratification's!

I have no idea what I'm doing in life or ultras, somebody please help me!

So I don't know what I'm doing. My schedule is a mess, my base training was horrible due to my hamstring injury over the winter, and I graduate in two weeks with no real solid plans in life. I wasn't able to run in the Antelope Island 50K due to my injury which sucked. I was pretty down for a while.
However, things have been getting much better. I am currently healthy and training quite well. I've been averaging 60 miles a week this past month so things are looking up on the running front. I'm looking forward to the BSTM next week and I think of Squaw Peak 50 virtually every day!
As far as the rest of the summer is concerned I am up in the air. I am for sure fast-packing the John Muir Trail this summer however I can't figure out what else to do. I am now the Assistant Scout Master so I will be camping with my scouts one weekend a month. I'm looking at several races this summer and fall to possibly run. I would like to gain more experience in 100 milers but I don't want to burn out or get injured again. Below are races that I am looking at doing. I probably won't even do half of them but at this point who knows. As long as I am having fun and enjoying it like in the picture above. Can't wait to get up on those upper trails. Happy Trails.

For Sure Events:
Bonneville Shoreline Trail Marathon April 19th 7:00 am
Europe with my wife May 1st-16th
Squaw Peak 50 June 7th

John Muir Trail July 25th- Aug 5th

Maybe Events:
Wasatch Steeplechase?? June 21st
Laramie 100?? June 28th
Devils Backbone 50? July 13th
Grand Teton 50 or 100?? Aug 30th
Angeles Crest 100?? Sept 13th
Moab 50?? Sept 21st
The Bear 100?? Sept 28th
Javelina Jundred 100?? Nov 15th

I'm leaning towards only running Devils Backbone, Angeles Crest, and then Javelina. Who knows though. Still no offers on a six figure salary position.