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!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Preview- The Bear 100

Wow, it's come quick! The Bear 100 is only three days away. I've been ready to run this thing for the last two weeks! (I hate tapering) Anyway, it looks like it's going to be an exciting race both in terms of terrain and competition. The autumn colors have turned and this new course looks fantastic. Lets hope it's marked well. I like the crew accessibility and what looks like a beautiful course over decently runnable terrain.

The competition looks stacked though. It has gotten increasingly interesting as the race has neared. Jeff Browning is out but coming off his amazing Wasatch victory Geoff Roes is in, as is patagonia athlete Ty Draney. The competition to me breaks down like so:
1-Geoff Roes wins in style...again. 20 hrs.
2-Nate McDowell hangs for 75 miles buts ends 2nd.
3-Ty Draney another solid outing in 3rd.

After this point my race predictions get a bit fuzzy because it seems harder to predict my own finishing time then that of others, however, here goes:
4-Leland is a stud and will run well despite still recovering from running an awesome Wasatch.
5-Brian Beckstead- ok I'm going out on a limb and putting myself in 5th. It matches my goal time and I think I'm up for a good race, but obviously it's not set in stone.
Eric Storheim, great runner as we know but can he hold on for 100 miles?
Jared Campbell, no 3rd place this year, not with a bum knee and three weeks after UTMB.
Christian Johnson, I know he wants to rip off a good 100 miler!

With a new course it's hard to gauge where I'll be and really game plan this race out. I haven't raced since June 28th at the Logan Peak Challenge (the 1st 11 miles of Bear before it broke off) but I am so ready to race! I've had a couple of small injuries this last couple of months but nothing serious. My shin splints are pretty much gone but my hamstring is still nagging me a little. I'm not really worried about either. I just don't want serious blister or stomach issues. Hopefully I've prepared thoroughly and taken the necessary precautions to avoid those things.

For pacing I decided that 15 minute miles are about right for this course, my fitness, and my experience level. I feel that this is a conservative pace but I intend to stick pretty close to it for the first half of the race and then maintain to the finish. Even splits puts me at 25hrs but if things go right I would like to finish under 24 hrs but that would be a perfect race and we all know how Ultra's are. Anyway, here's to a happy Bear trail!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Alaska 2008 Sea Kayaking

So a few months ago I took my wife Zanna whitewater kayaking down the Provo River. We had a great time. That evening we were telling Richard, my father-in-law, about our experience and how how we thought he would like kayaking, especially sea kayaking, which my wife and I do as often as we have the chance. Next thing we know Richard is on-line looking up places to go sea kayaking. We ended up booking a 3-day trip to Fox Island through Kenai Fords Tours. Having worked in Alaska I knew this was the trip for our group.

It had to be a quick trip due to time constraints put we flew into Anchorage Alaska on Monday August 18th and arrived home Friday August 22nd. Tuesday the 19th we got a rent-a-car and drove to Seward Alaska on the beautiful and renowned Hwy 1. We hopped on a boat in Seward which took us out to Fox Island and an all you can eat Salmon cook out. It was fantastic. The boat continued it's tour but we along with only a handful of people stayed on the Island. It was magnificent! We got a small room which was quaint but had all necessary amenities including hot water, flushing toilets and clean sheets. It was perfect.

That afternoon and evening was our free time. We hiked up the only trail on the island which was about a mile long rough trail straight up the mountain behind the resort. Along the way we picked ripe wild raspberries and blueberries. The view from the top was incredible! Mountains in every direction, vast glacier fields, and plenty of blue ocean in between. That evening with the other 12 guests who would be staying overnight on the island, we ate an amazing meal prepared by the chief. This was five star dining with an unprecedented view. To end the day we walked along the beach skipping rocks and looking for starfish during the low tide. Due to my experience kayaking, I even got to go for a short kayak trip with the employees. It was a great day. Zanna and I who are used to roughing it in the woods were enjoying it immensely yet it paled in comparison to my father-in-law and mother-in-law who are used to big city hotels. It was a perfect combination of the wilderness experience and five star resort treatment.

Wednesday was the kayaking day. After another delectable breakfast by the chief, we signed the waivers and got geared up. My mother-in-law was very nervous especially after dropping her kayak and watching it slide down the beach into the ocean. We easily retrieved it, calmed her down and off we went. It was a bit windy as first but the skies were clear, the temperature was nice, and it was just a great afternoon. Our only break was pulling over on a beach and having lunch. If you have never been sea kayaking in a wilderness location such as Alaska, it should be on your list. Pure bliss! Especially the rope swing off the docks after kayaking all day!

Dinner and breakfast were unbelievable again. It tasted like we were eating at the Chief's Table in Orem just with a way better view. After breakfast another boat came out to pick us up. This one took us on an 8 hour glacier and whale watching cruise. It was a little more overcast this day but we ended up sea lots of beautiful wildlife including Puffins, Cormorants, Bald Eagles, Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, Dal Porpoises, and Humpback Whales. The only thing we didn't see were Orca's which was a little disappointing but Northwestern Glacier which we did see was spectacular! Nobody got very sea sick and it was fantastic. That evening in Seward we visited some old stomping ground of mine at Apollo's Restaurant. (I lived and worked in Seward during the summer's of 2003 and 2004.) It was a great way to end the trip. We drove back and slept in Anchorage tht night and flew home on Friday. If anyone wants to see Alaska but do it in style, this is your trip. All four of us had a wonderful time. Pretty much all of my time in Alaska has been amazing but this trip was had the least stress, best food, and some of the most beautiful views. Cheer's to Alaska!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wasatch 100

Although I was merely pacing Wasatch this year, it was great to be part of the experience which is the Wasatch 100. I wasn't able to get to Lamb's Canyon until later than I wanted but I was able to see a great group pass through, most of them friends I've met through Runner's Corner or in the ultra world: Phil Lowry, Shane Martin, Shaun Christian, Greg Norrander, Scott Kunz, Jim Skaggs, and many others. It was fun and exciting being there.
Soon the group I would be pacing came in: Dan Mitchell, Matt Galland, and Danny Bryson. They had a solid break but soon the four of us were heading out of Lambs Canyon. By the time we got to Upper Big Water Matt was falling back. His knee was hurting something fierce but we pushed on. Desolation aid station I had a chat with him about not forgetting to eat due to the knee pain but he was falling behind fast. Dan and Danny were taking longer than needed at the aid station and they made the difficult decision to leave him. Matt unfortunately dropped at Scott's Tower. Dan and Danny however were both feeling great heading into Brighton. I was going to stop at Brighton but they both talked me into running to the finish. I was excited and grabbed everything I needed out of my car. With Matt out of the race the group dwindled and Danny took off, finishing in 28:38! Considering we left Brighton at 2:45am he must of cruised!

Dan Mitchell and I weren't slouching either. Dan really took care of himself at the aid stations and we cruised to the finish in a time of 29:26 without getting passed by a single runner from Brighton to the finish! It was an emotional experience with his whole family including his 4 kids holding signs and running the last 1/2 mile in with him. There sure is something special about running 100 miles!

For me it was a great 47 mile training run and now I'm tapering for the Bear 100 in two weeks. This new course seems exciting! Anyway, Happy Autumn Trails!