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!

Friday, December 10, 2010

First Road 5k in years

So I up and did a road 5k the other day. No speed work, just left over ultra training. I went out uber conservative. After half a mile I picked up the pace and after the first mile I decided to go for it. I passed person after person. Once I had the 3 mile marker in site I kicked as hard as I could passing 3 more people. I finished in a time of 17:56. I was quite proud of myself. Especially, since I was wearing the Altra Adams which is a super minimalist shoe. With only a 3mm outsole and 3mm of cushion under my foot I had much less than a racing flat under my foot but I didn't mind as I cruised up and down the undulating course. Most shoes are way overbuilt in my opinion and with decently strong feet and good form, you just don't need so much shoe! Anyway, I loved the shoes and had a ton of fun for my first road 5k in nearly 5 years. It was fun and made me want to do a few more road races. I'm seriously considering doing a road marathon next year just to see what I could do time-wise. Anyway, I was surprised how much fun I had and how well I did in this fun little 5k.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Total Ultra's

I've had a bunch of people ask me recently how many ultra marathons races I've run. I couldn't answer as I've never counted until now. My first was Goblin Valley 50k only 4 weeks after running my first road marathon. Hardly even touched the road for training purposes since. So in 5 years of ultra running here's my tally:

3 --100 milers (started 4 but DNF'd Bear '08) '07, '09, '10
4 --100k's '06, '07, '10, '10
6 -- 50 milers '06, '07, '08, '09, '09, '10
5 --50k's '05,'06, '07, '07, '08

5 --Trail marathons '06, '06, '07, '08, '10
1 --Road marathon in '05

I thought I'd done more but in actual races it's only 18. The trail marathons I've done sure weren't weak sauce though. I've definitely done more than 18 training runs of over 26 miles however the count will stay at 18.

This next year I'll be traveling all over the country promoting Altra footwear. I'm pretty excited about the product having done my last 3 ultras in the Lone Peak. With being on the road for most of the year and not knowing where I'll be from one week to the next I'm not signing up for any ultras. It's a bit sad but if things go well I might try to lower my road marathon time. No doubt I'll be back doing ultras but without the schedule or ability to train I'll take a 1 year sabbatical. With winter setting in and sign up season in progress the realization has hit me. The only chance of me doing a ultra is if I get into Hardrock...seriously though it's my only race I'm putting in for. Hopefully I won't get called but it will keep my lottery alive so I can run it in 2012!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Antelope Island 100k 2010

I signed up for this race Wednesday night. It was one of those things where I just had the urge. After Wasatch I'd hardly trained but had been feeling good and getting in some nice runs. Mostly maintaining fitness and having fun. Antelope Island was just a spontaneous urge I had. My wife was out of town visiting her family so I drove up and stayed the night at the start. I slept great! Maybe is was the laissez-faire attitude I had about the race and maybe it was the dark cool night. But it sure was nice.
At 6am with little pageantry we were off. I got in line behind the front pack which consisted of mself, Davy Crockett, Tim, and Scott. It's was warmer then I thought it would be but pleasant. After 10 miles of nothing special we hit the beach. First was the finest softest sand possible. Slipping and sliding it felt you were going nowhere. Then it became the salt flats which was very nice to run on. However we couldn't see the flags very well and somehow ended up in a willowy marsh stomping through knee high muck and mush. I was not happy with the smell nor the wet slop that ended up in every crevasse of my shoe. After 9-10 minutes of this we reconnected with the chase pack on the right course.

The sunrise was beautiful over this next section. Scott began to pull ahead on the long climb and Davy dropped off. Tim and I ended up running together for the next 10 miles or so. This far side of the Island is of limits to the public and it was neat running through a beautiful area I'd never been. I was feeling great all the way to the half way point. Scott was 5 minutes up and I had gaped Tim 3-4 minutes. The race was now getting real and I finally started thinking competitively.

The second lap started great. Beautiful and isolated the back part of the island is surreal. I was moving well and having a nice time. As I started up the big climb I became worried that in my lack of preparation for this race I failed to put enough foot and salt in my bag. I got to the aid station and ate some potato chips killing too birds with one stone and was off. It looked like Scott had somehow pulled ahead and was now 10 minutes up and Tim was 7-8 minutes back.

First Photos by the great Golden Harper!

However I started feeling the effects of the race. Soon I was out of everything; water, salt, and food. I thought beforehand that the aid station was at the ranch but it was 2+ miles past the ranch. I kept up a decent pace all the way to the aid station but I knew I was cutting it close. At this point I began walking every 10 minutes for 30 seconds. My energy levels were really low and I was just trying to get to the next aid.

Picture by Greg Norrander

As I entered The Gate aid station I had 10 miles left. Scott was now uncatchable and Tim was nowhere is sight, 8-10 minutes back. In my cramping state I needed salt. I grabbed some much needed salt tabs, filled my water, and ate a couple potato chips & was out of the aid station. 1/2 mile out I realized I never opened my drop bag and was running with zero food. Needless to say it got ugly. I'm just an idiot sometimes on the trail. I can't believe I didn't grab any gels! I suffered to the final aid station and as I was nearing it I could see Tim in the distance pulling me in.

Picture by Greg Norrander

I filled my bottle, grabbed some nuts & two gels to get me to the finish line, and took off in hopes of beating Tim. 2 minutes out of the aid station I got real nauseous so I pulled over and sat down. The nuts and gel needed a minute to digest. Tim went by my asking if I was ok. I waived him on because it was too little too late. After another mile I started to feel better as my body processed the food. Soon I took my last gel and was cruising. By the end I was flying to the finish line cursing myself for not taking enough food and forgetting my drop bag. Those last few miles I moved as well as I had all day! I finished 3rd in a time of 10hr 28min.

Loved the race!! The course was awesome. I actually put my finishing time at 10:30, so I beat that which I was happy about. I know I lost 20 possibly 30 minutes due to my stupid planning and forgetfulness at aid stations. But that's what happens when you're not focusing and wing stuff. I actually had a really good race aside from the lack of food. My feet had ZERO issues or blisters!! My Altra Lone Peaks truly are the greatest trail shoes in the world. I'm pretty stoked about that. Since running in them I have had no worries about sore arches, feet, blisters, etc. Something I use to constantly have issues with. But what a great race. I'm sure that next year more runners will head out to the island for this awesome race. I sure had a great time!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ari is 1

So Ari turned one yesterday. He is extremely active and already running (literally...his motor is churning 100 miles per hour!). Loved the birthday snow he got to play in and generally makes a mess of everything. Great kid!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Autumn Running 2010

After Wasatch it seems like my running is drastically reduced quantity wise, but the quality seems to be the best of the year. I moved up Hobble Creek Canyon which has remote singletrack trails in every direction. I've bagged several Peaks including Mahogany Mtn and Spanish Fork Peak. Took a trip to Portland and went on a couple great runs in The Gorge. I love the trail conditions, the temperature, and the lack of urgency in the runs. It's just running for the love of running. Another month of this great time of year before winter really hits and I have a couple more runs to check off the bucket list. Better get to it! Enjoy the season.

Fishbowl Falls Portland

Spanish Fork Peak

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wasatch 100 2010

This race couldn't come soon enough. I was so excited about it but the previous two weeks had been so stressful that I desperately needed an outlet. I awoke at 2:30 am so I could get ready and travel up to the race. The further north we drove the harder it began to rain which made me a bit nervous. By the time we got to the the start it had stopped raining and people were everywhere. I was ready.

I took the first few miles easy. It was less crowded than I remember. I wasn't in the big sub-24 group but in front of the main pack. It was nice. I found myself alone heading up most of the first climb. As the trail became steeper, the snow which had fallen began to stick. It was beautiful. Once we got to the ridges above tree line we were in the midst of the clouds with a fresh skiff of snow. We must of ran through at least 10 miles of snow! I felt like I was holding back but I got to Francis Peak m19 early. I backed off the next few miles and got into cruise control. It felt great. Early in the race there is this sense of optimism at the task of tackling 100 miles which makes those miles go by easily and enjoyably. Soon the temps started to rise but I don't think it ever got much above 70 degrees. I entered Big Mtn m40 feeling great. It was great to see my crew and get refreshed. Jeremy took some video of me which is posted at the bottom. You can see how fresh I look entering Big Mtn.
Lambs M53
Several miles out of Big Mtn my stomach started to go south. I felt awful heading up Baldy. I struggled for 4-5 miles walking most of it. I'm not sure what caused it but I pushed through it knowing that it was my first low. At Alexander m48 I was starting to feel better. I ate some solids and drank a full bottle of water. I entered Lambs m53 feeling decent but not great. My stomach was slightly unsettled and energy levels seemed low. I left by 5:15pm which meant I was only a few minutes behind schedule. Jeremy paced me over the next 9 miles and took most of the video footage over this section. Unfortunately this was where I hit rock bottom. I felt so sluggish heading up Bear Pass. Plus it was shockingly cold already. I pushed through my second low point and got to Upper Big Water m62 late and a little nervous.
Lambs Aid m53
After a change of socks, a bunch of solid food, and another layer of clothing I was feeling pretty good. Dan Mitchell came to pace me over this next section and I started to feel much better. I decided to take the long climb conservatively and eat as much as possible. It seemed the further I got, the more momentum I gained. My feet were feeling amazing. I'd never run this far without blisters and once my energy levels bounced back I was really able to cruise. Once on top of Red Lovers Ridge m68 9900ft, I really flew. Entering Brighton m76 was such an awesome feeling. 3/4th done and feeling the best I had all day. The energy there was amazing with people everywhere. My crew was awesome and got me set up for the final stretch. Dan really had me eating and moving well.
Brighton m76
I left Brighton full of energy. I have never felt so good going up Catherines Pass. Someone even directed me down the wrong path for a 3-4 minute detour but it didn't even phase me. I passed 8-9 runners in a 4 1/2 mile stretch. In-and-out of Ant Knolls m80, I was in cruise control. Running all the flats and downhills while keeping a solid power hike on the climbs. Leaving Pole Line Pass I started to feel some shin and knee pain on my right leg. The last 8 miles had been incredibly rocky and I might have pushed it bit too much. I backed off a bit. This section was also freezing...literally. Entering Rock Springs the aid crew informed me it was 24 degrees! I didn't stay long because as soon as I would stop I would get really cold. The Plunge and the Dive sucked. I did the best I could to navigate but with every step powdery dust clouded my vision. Once past those nasty creatures I could smell the finish. I stopped at Pot Bottom m93 only for a minute, enjoying a delightful glass of slushy coke and a great warm fire. I proceeded to the finish line in a time of 26 hrs 52 minutes and 27th place overall.

I was very pleased with my race. I PR'd on a very difficult course by running a smart and hard race. My crew was awesome, all the volunteers were superb, and the race was well organized. My planning was effective and training sufficient. No regrets and very happy with my race!

Here's the sales pitch....YES I ran in the Altra Lone Peaks the entire way. I was planning on swapping shoes at Brighton but they exceeded my expectations and I ran the entire race in 1 pair! They were literally amazing. I'm involved with the company so I'm a bit biased but the fact that I was going to swap at Brighton but didn't says a lot. Truly the most comfortably and versatile trail shoe on the market...ok, soon to be on the market. This was a huge test for the shoes and they passed on every level!

Fun video that Jeremy made. Wasatch ROCKS!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wasatch Prep

As the nervous excitement mounts in the days before Wasatch, I carefully prepare everything I can think of. I probably over-think the whole process but I am amazed at how much preparation is needed. The amount of calories consumed is the cost of the food, entry fee, crew time and gas, etc. It really is a huge process. Then you start calculating splits, crew logistics, pacers, change of clothing, race day temps, etc and wow is there a lot of work to be done!

With this being my 4th 100 mile attempt, I hope to learn from previous experience and maximize my present fitness. In
Wasatch'07 I ignorantly went for a sub-24. I came up with horrible blisters and shuffled in for a painful 29+ hr finish. At the Bear '08 I ran a solid first 60 miles but went overboard on my caffeine intake and blew up quickly. Regrettably I dropped at mile 70. I wish to this day I would have slept it off for 2-3 hours and go on to finish but in the moment I chose to DNF. At the Bear '09 I was in the worst shape of all but ran a very smart and conservative race finishing in just over 27 hours. I gained a lot of confidence from the way I ran that race.

For Wasatch 2010 I have decided that my main goal is to PR. I am arguably in the best shape over this four year stretch yet hope to run a smart race like in '09. My goal time is 26 hours. I think it would be too much of a gamble to go out at a sub 24 split. I feel confident that I can run 26 hours. I'm young and will have plenty more years to go for that sub-24. I intend to start VERY easy and be consistent in my pace from start to finish. I have never been more excited for a 100 mile race. Bring Wasatch On!

Anticipated 2010 Splits:
Start- 5:00am
Francis- 9:15am
Big Mtn- 2:00pm
Lambs- 5:00pm
Millcreek- 7:30pm
Brighton- 11:30pm

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wasatch 40

So on Saturday I ran the first 40 miles of the Wasatch 100 course. With the race being 3 weeks out it was perfect to get that last long run in. I had only ran that section once when I ran Wasatch in '07. I remember it being extremely tough and nearly put me out of the race. Luckily I held it together and finished but this year I wanted a refresher.

We started at 5 am. Pace was conservative but we were loaded up with water. A friend had some water at Bountiful B for us but with temps in the city reaching near 100, we weren't taking any chances. I had the Osprey Raptor 10 which carries 100 oz and a 20 oz handheld. The run went perfectly. The 3 mile section before Bountiful B aid was horrible. Very overgrown and rough. Aside from that section the course was great. We stopped and talked to some forest service folks, several other runners, and took 5-10 minutes at most of the aid stations. We ran the last 10 miles in due to our slow start. I felt great the whole way. It took us just over 10 hours. My race day split needs to be an hour faster but minus all the stops, talking with people, and a 12 lb pack on my back slowing me down, the pace was pretty close to what I need to run on race day. At the end I was tired but had zero issues. No stomach problems, no blisters, no real leg fatigue. It gave me a lot of confidence heading into Wasatch. Can't wait until Sept 10th!

After a 2 day rest, I went out for another run. I ended up doing a tough loop from Aspen Grove on the back side of Timp. Up Primrose Cirque, a quick and cold jump into Emerald Lake, down to Timpanokee, then back via the Alpine Loop singletrack trail. An absolutely amazing 18 mile run. I was happy with how my body felt only 3 days after the 40 miles on Saturday. I saw 43 mtn goats and a bull moose on the run. Sweeeet!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kings 2010

Went and hit Kings Peak again this year in the High Uintahs. It was a quick 3 day trip but we did a gnarly loop. Starting at China Meadows we hiked up to Lower Red Castle. Caught a bunch of fish both in the stream and various lakes. We camped just about Smith Forks Lake.

Next Morning we hiked over Smith Forks Pass then cut cross country to the base of Anderson Pass. Dropped the packs for an ascent of Kings then back down. Headed along the Highline Trail over Tungsten Pass. Camped and caught a bunch of fish at North Star Lake.

Last day we hiked up Porcipine Pass but instead of descending, we cut across to an unnamed pass above Upper Red Castle. It was unstable rock hopping at its best. The descent to Red Castle was rough going as well but truly one of the most beautiful passes I've ever been to. Caught a bunch of fish at Upper and Red Castle lakes (some big beautiful Cutthroat Trout!) then off we were for home. Hard to say for sure but we hiked around 40 miles including 5 passes and the highest point in Utah, Kings Peak. Awesome trip!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Katcina 2010

When I entered Katcina back on Dec 1st for Bozungs ultra cup, I knew I would regret it. I spent most of the year dreading this race. In fact, I dreaded it so much that in the month of July I totally blocked it from my thoughts. However, the 2010 addition ended up being one of my personal favorites and best performances during my time as an ultra runner.

With no taper and a laissez-faire mentality entering the race I had three goals: 1st-Feel good the last 30 miles. 2nd- Run with Wasatch in mind. 3rd- If possible run sub-13 hours. I can gladly say I accomplished all three.

I started slow and tried to be relaxed up the first initial climb. Talking with fellow runners is nice knowing of the silence to come. I took one spill while drinking on my way down into Rock Canyon but hurt nothing except the ego. I picked up my Nathan HPL 20 and some trekking poles at AS# 3 (16.5). It worked better than expected! I'm not a huge fan of refilling or tracking water intake from a hydration bladder but the poles were awesome. Maybe those crazy Europeans whom I've been mocking all these years are onto something!?

Lightning Ridge was as beautiful as ever as the sun rose over the mountains. Dave Hunt and I commented that the time seemed quick while the effort seemed easy. What a great feeling! I continued seeming to float over the next 20 miles. I ran out of water half way from Windy (29.6) to Little Valley (38.8) but I was hydrated enough that it didn't create a problem. I took every chance I could to splash water over my body at streams and aid stations which seemed to help. I dropped my pack and poles off at Little Valley and drank as much as I could handle. BenCorrales met me just outside of Little Valley to run with me to the finish which was awesome. I really focused on nutrition and re-hydrating between Little Valley (38.8) and Bathtub (45.8). With clouds rolling in and a recently graded road, the section just flew by.

At Little Valley (38.8) Mick, who was in 2nd place, had 15 minutes on me. At Bathtub (45.8) he had 9. I wasn't too concerned about catching him until a few miles later when Jeff, a runner heading out to get his pacer, told me he was 5 minutes ahead. I was still feeling quite good and with 12 miles left in the race I decided to start pushing. The next pacer, Jarom, told me he had 4 minutes on me. By the time I got to the top of Dry Fork (52.5) I had dropped Ben my pacer and had cut the lead to 3 minutes! I pushed all the way down Dry Fork. My heart jumped when I finally saw a runner ahead of me. I rested for 30 seconds before surging...only to find Mick's wife/pacer whom he had dropped. It was a bit demoralizing. I started to slow down realizing that I still had 7-8 miles to go.

At the final aid station (56.3) I realized I might have pushed too hard those last 10 miles. The aid station folk said Mick left 3 minutes earlier and encouraged me to continue the chase. I had some road shoes in my drop bag that I threw on to help me those last 6 miles but it wasn't to be. A mile down the road I pulled over and sat on a bridge for 2-3 minutes to regroup. I had run hard all day and probably a bit too hard those last 15 miles. Not too shabby having your first problems of the day merely 5 miles from the finish. I trotted down the road taking several walk breaks trying to soak in the day. I smiled as I crossed the finish line (62.2) with a huge PR of 12:09:01 and 3rd place overall finish.

Considering that Katcina was in it's ninth running, my time was the 6th fastest ever's just that two of those six times were in front of me! At least it was behind two awesome runners. Congrats to Jay for lowering his own course record down to 11:27! And to Mick whom I couldn't catch for 2nd place. He consequently held it together and crushed me over the asphalt. Top 5 rounded out with two great local guys in Dave Hunt and Roger Smith finishing 4th and 5th respectively. What an awesome day!

Several factors added up for my success, some I controlled others were just luck. I kept my heart rate and effort well below threshold nearly the whole race, I ate and drank consistently as well as appropriately, I cooled off my body at every chance, the 20 mile mtn section with trekking poles was amazing, my blisters were kept at bay due mostly I believe to my expensive (worth every penny if you blister easily) Drymax socks, and my new shoes are the greatest shoes I've ever worn in my life (no they were not Hokas but more on these new prototype trail shoes soon!). Things I can't control but went my direction: Cool temps all day, newly grated road from Little Valley to Bathtub, and....I just got lucky with a great day. Results here. Let's hope that Wasatch 100 brings similar results!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Battle at Big Springs 8k

So again I decided to run another short race. This one was probably my favorite course. The beautiful singletrack up Big Springs is nearly perfect!

I started conservative going up the first several hills. I worked my way up the pack a mile into the race before the trail narrowed. I then got into a nice rhythm rolling my way up to the Springs. As I got to a crucial turn I hesitated and veered right when 50-60 yds later I realized I went the wrong direction. Some kids had removed the log and markings blocking the trail. Frustrated and tired I turned around. 3-4 people had passed me but luckily we were near the top and I was able to turn on the downhill speed. I quickly passed all the people who had gotten in front of me due to my mishap. As I flew down I eventually saw Clark out in front of me. He hadn't taken the wrong turn and had barely beaten me the last race so I went after him. With a 1/4 mile left I caught him but when he realized that I was on his tail he surged out-kicking me again. I finished 5th in a time of 35:18. I felt great nearly the whole race. I was frustrated about the wrong turn but it only cost me 1 placing and less than a minute. This race is my new favorite 'short' race. I had a blast. Also, if anyone finds a Garmin 205 on the trail let me know. Dan Varga took a hard spill and lost his. I'm sure he would appreciate it back so keep an eye out.

I didn't want to go too hard but for some more miles a bunch of us decided to run up and over Lightening Ridge then down Rock Canyon for an extra 12 miles. It was great for me and I'm feeling solid going into Katcina Mosa next week.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

NUTS 1/2 Marathon

So after not running Wed or Thurs this week I decided late Thursday night to get my butt in gear and run this 1/2 marathon on Saturday. It was the first running of the Northern Utah Trail Series 1/2 Marathon. I have been working on leg turnover for the last few weeks and decided to try another short race. I was ill prepared due to a late sign up and from being at a party with friends until late Friday but regardless I got up early to drive to Ogden for the race.

The starting line was a bustle of activity with almost 100 starters, many like myself were registering that morning. Once the race started it narrowed quickly to a single track. Cody Draper jumped into first place with myself in second heading up the first climb. And that was pretty much the race! Well at least placing wise. We ran together the first 4-5 miles before I dropped off on the 2nd climb going up Strongs Canyon. Looking back on it I should have stayed up with him but I went out conservatively. The surprise was when I looked over my shoulder there was a lady behind me! Later I found out it was elite marathon runner Kristine Spence (2:35!).

At the turnaround Cody had a couple minutes on me and I didn't think I could catch him especially climbing out of Beus Canyon but with most of the last 5 miles being rolling downhill I not only cruised but felt great all the way to the finish. Come to find out, Cody beat me by less than a minute. My time was 1:50.46 on a 13.7+ mile course. I was happy with the way I ran and wished I would have pushed it a little earlier...but if I had maybe I wouldn't have felt so great the last few miles. All-in-all I accomplished what I wanted--pushed my leg speed, ran smart, and had a good time. A second place finish was nice as well. Results here.

Aric and Joel did a great job organizing the event and the course was great. Nice climbs, technical terrain, well placed aid stations all in a low key affordable event. Good times. But now I need more mileage so out for another run tonight!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gruesome Grizzly 8k

So I decided to check out my speed over the weekend and run an 8k. This wasn't any 8k though. The Gruesome Grizzly boasts a couple of huge climbs and some gnarly terrain. I was quite proud of myself finishing 4th out of almost 100 participants. I got out-kicked for third!

My legs felt fine and I felt like they could have kept going, but my lungs got crushed. My legs did feel a little slow but they weren't painful like the breathing. I seriously need to consider some tempo runs, speedwork, or something as I felt like I was at an all-out-sprint for most of the race. Definitely a fun little race though and it had some awesome prizes.

Congrats to Western States 100 finishers and winners alike.. Totally epic and one for the ages!

My pre-race picks: Actual Stats:
1st-Geoff Roes 1st- Geoff Roes (course record!)
2nd-Hal Koerner 2nd- Anton Krupicka
3rd- Killian Jornet 3rd- Killian Jornet

1st-Nikki Kimball 1st-Traci Garneau
2nd-Devon Crosby-Helms 2nd- Meghan Arboghast
3rd-Meghan Arboghast 3rd- Nikki Kimball

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June Running

June is possible my favorite month of running. There are never any looming races after Squaw, the trails are clear and not overgrown, the streams are still full for cooling baths, the wild flowers are out, the weather is warm but not blistering hot, and the mountains are green green green.

Yesterday I ran an absolute classic Utah County run and it was incredible. I started at Grove Creek and ran up Grove Canyon. After 4 miles of beautiful climbing I connected to trail 151 and followed it 8 more miles through perfect singletrack all the way to Timpooneke Campground on the backside of Mt Timpanogos. With views of Lone Peak, Pfiefferhorn, the Wasatch course, and 3 angles of Timp it was epic and highly recommended. Once at Timpooneke I filled my water bottles, cooled off in the river, and headed back for the perfect 24 mile run. I'm unsure of many 20+ mile runs in the world that start from a city that even come close to the quality of terrain and scenery.

As far as racing is concerned, there are a few races this weekend. I've decided to check my leg speed and run the Gruesome Grizzly 8k in Provo Canyon, Logan Peak (which filled up this year with 100 entrants!) is this saturday and a 20+ mile run that does compare to my experience yesterday, and finally the big daddy, Western States 100 is this weekend. I can't remember a race with more hype than this years WS100. Who know how its all going to boil down but for what its worth here are my picks:
1st-Geoff Roes
2nd-Hal Koerner
3rd- Killian Jornet

1st-Nikki Kimball
2nd-Devon Crosby-Helms
3rd-Meghan Arboghast

Monday, June 7, 2010

Squaw 2010

Squaw Peak 2010 was probably my most disappointing Squaw. Here's how it went down:
Great pics from Norrander Trail Shots!

It was warm at the start. I took the first mile and a half easy before surging and getting into position on the singletrack. The next several miles I was with Todd Schmidke, Shane Martin, Dave Hunt, and Karl Jarvis. This didn't change too much for the rest of the race in all reality. It felt good to run especially with how green the mountains were. It stayed warm so I ended up dropping off my arm sleeves at Hope Campground and kept motoring up. Rock AS came and went then came the snow. Definitely muddier and snowier than usual. I got to the typical AS#3 at 1:57 which was perfect. Todd dropped off but the 4 of us were still together.
Shane seemed particularly ready to fly which right after Horse Mtn he did. Dave soon dropped off and Karl Jarvis and I ran down Hobble Creek together. I was feeling solid if a bit warm. I wasn't peeing nearly what I usually do but I kept drinking and eating accordingly. Karl dropped off and I slowly reeled Shane in. I felt a blister forming which frustrated me for not even being half way. Shane and I ran up the road together until the top of the asphalt. I swapped socks because I had 2 or 3 hot spots now, and my socks were soaked with sweat, mud, and snow. I started feeling a little fatigued after Hobble but my pace was solid. I started to cramp a little so I downed all my salt pills and the rest of my water. When I got to Sheep Creek I knew I needed to catch up on liquid and salt. I drank and ate a ton in a short time and grabbed a handful of salt pills generously donated by Karl Meltzer for the road. Thanks Karl I needed those. Needless to say I felt awesome going up Sheep Creek. It was the best I felt all day! Soon I was catching glimpses of Shane and by Little Valley I had passed him.
I grabbed everything I needed at Little Valley and was on time to break 9 hrs in a solid 3rd place. Shortly out of Little Valley however my left calf which had been giving me problems for the last couple weeks really started to flare up. I pushed through it and continued to make great time. Shane caught me and we ran together around big mountain but soon my right knee started to throb and my blisters flared back up. I kept thinking to myself that I had one big climb left and then it was all down hill. By the time I made it to the snow 1/5th of the way up Bozung Hill I knew I was in trouble. Shane was now nowhere in sight, and in the distance I could see what looked like Dave Hunt behind me. I kept pace thinking that I could hold on when next thing I know I had no clue where I was! After a few seconds I realized I veered off the ridge too early. I then proceeded to bushwhack straight up the mountain and who was there to greet me? Dave Hunt the guy who always scrapes me off the mtn. I was pissed that I got off course. It didn't help that I knew the wheels were starting to come off as well. I followed Dave for a while but soon I was getting light headed and feeling really short of breath until finally 200 feet from the top I had to stop and sit down. Karl Jarvis came stumbling up the mtn at this time and gave me words of encouragement. I finally decided to get moving again but was soon overcome with emotion. It was strange but by the time I got to Windy Pass I was hyperventilating and really freaking out. It was exactly how I was when I DNF'd at the Bear 100 in 2008. The crew up there was awesome and really got me sorted out. I was able to sit down for 7-8 minutes composing myself and downing some food. Everyone there was so supportive of me! Thank you very much. I then headed down what was one of the worst muddiest descents I've ever done down Windy Pass. There was so much snow and yet it was so hot making everything a slick muddy wet slop. Between my blisters, calf, knee, foot, and persistent hyperventilating it was a pretty ugly mess getting to the finish line. Thanks for all the support from friends, racers, and aid station crew. I painfully ended up finishing 10th in a time of 10:03.
I'm not sure what went wrong. It was almost like that perfect storm where everything combined at the right time to make it a catastrophe. If one or two things had gone wrong I probably would have salvaged things. However, I think I wasn't quite recovered from Timp Marathon (+all the running I did last week/the week after Timp), I never run as well in heat, I went back to caffeinated gels for the race which I think had an effect on the shortness of breath/hyperventilating, my legs had some nagging injuries that flared up, and I had lofty goals. When you put everything on the line early in a race you are committed. I did that and fell short...which is ok. I really wanted to break 9 hrs but it wasn't my day. The guys I ran with all day finished great. Shane, Dave, and Karl 3rd-5th. Kevin Shilling won with an incredible time of 8:05. Course seemed at least 15-20 minutes slower than last year due to conditions (gaging this can be a crap shoot though and no excuse for my performance). For me it was frustrating because I felt like I was better prepared than any other year yet I ran my worst time. At least last year I knew I was in crappy shape whereas this year I trained much harder and felt way better entering the race...yet I still ran slower. Squaw 2010 will haunt me for awhile I'm afraid. Full results can be found here:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Squaw Peak 2010 Competitors

It's always difficult to gauge the results of a race but it seems like there are fewer competitive guys in the race this year but the chase pack is large as always. Meltzer is out, the MRC guys are injured or focused on different races, and I'm unaware of any green uber fast marathoner or Colorado guy showing up. If I'm missing anyone please let me know and I'll get this list updated!

1st- Kevin Shilling. Great shape as always and after last weeks miss turn should be able to get the win.

Chase Pack:

Allen Belshaw- Not sure if this guy is in top shape but with 2 previous Squaw wins you can never count him out.

Brian Beckstead (myself)- feeling good and ready to rip this one.

Fritz Van de Kamp

Karl Jarvis

Todd Schmidtke

Scott Kunz

Shane Martin

Dave Hunt

David Hayes

Matt Conners

Phil Lowry

Surely there are some more that should be or are consistent top me out!

Ladies race should be a solid competitive field. Competition includes:

Darcie Gorman

Sara Evans

Birgitta Johnson Mitchell

Marci Lameroux

Melanie Clayton

Milada Copeland

Jill Bohney

Deanna McLaughlin

Eve Davies

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Squaw Peak Course Conditions

I have now run most of the course over the last 10 days and here's I'm my final repot. The conclusion is that no matter how hot it gets in the next 7 days, there will be lots of snow. Several of my runs were after storms so the course will be drier then the pics indicate but the ground is saturated and the snow-pack is dense.

I was particularly surprised by how icy and deep the snow was on my run to Windy Pass this morning. There was snow for two miles below Windy...and most of it will not melt by race day.
Stream crossing early in the race
So my calculations are as follows- Snow from mile 11-14.5 (hopefully there will be a dry shoulder those last couple miles). Mile 34 will have snow patches while in the ravine. Bozung hill, mile 39-40, will be snow (which I prefer- cooler and if soft enough, better more consistent footing) and then 41-43 coming off of Windy Pass will be a mess. Roughly 6-7 miles of snow. Check out the course map.
Looking down into Rock Canyon
Overall, the ground will be soft, streams are full but crossings shouldn't be much of a problem, and with that latest storm there are as many fallen trees as I can remember. PR's are doubtful. I'm still thinking that if all goes well my PR is within range. I'm in as good of shape as any previous Squaw so I think a sub-9 performance is the goal. I'll post more about the competition here in a few days. In the meantime, lets hope the course dries out a bit. I don't mind the snow, it's the mud and mush that drives me crazy.
Coming off Windy Pass the snow pack is dense and icy
Windy Pass

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Timp Trail Marathon 2010

The inaugural Timp Trail Marathon turned out to be quite the event.  Having rained all night in the city we headed to the start hoping for better luck.  My friend Greg had come down from Ogden to run his first fact he had never raced anything over a 5k!  All we found was more rain and a bunch of insane people lined up to run 26+ miles through the mud.  We got in line and off we went.  Kevin Shilling took off like a bullet and Erik Storheim and I settled in at second place.  After 5 miles of constant rain and mud we got to a crucial turn....Kevin's tracks went the wrong way.  He figured it out after running an extra couple miles and still finished 6th.  Erik and I continued the correct way now in the lead.  The two of us exchanged leads and conversation for the next 5-6 miles.  It felt like a great training run with a friend.  Erik stopped suddenly to adjust his shoe and as I headed down the hill thinking he was right behind me I glanced over my shoulder and he wasn't there.  I just kept my pace and soon got to the mile 12 aid station alone and in the lead.  I had a dry shirt, new handheld, and some gels in my drop bag but the volunteers shrugged their shoulders telling me the drop bags weren't there!  I hesitated for a second then asked where the gels were.  I grabbed 3 gels and was off.  Off so fast I forgot to fill up my near empty water bottle.

Heading up Grove Canyon was surreal.  The rain/snow had stopped and there was a fresh layer of snow covering the whole canyon.  Occasionally I grabbed a handful of snow to supplement my now empty water bottle.  A large group of scouts were heading down the canyon early after getting snowed out which was nice because of the encouragement and the packed trail.  Soon I was at the small aid station and filled my bottle.  I was in cruise control.  As I neared the top of Grove Canyon I passed the campground and was now in untouched terrain.  The snow was 4-6 inches deep and I was breaking trail.  It was awesome!  After a quick bathroom break I was heading down Battlecreek Canyon and quickly onto the Curly Springs Cutoff.  This was the muddiest part of the course.  It was pure muck.  I decided to kick it up a notch effort wise and motored on up.  I continued the effort all the way down to Dry Canyon and the last aid station. 
Dry Canyon Aid station was run by a dozen enthusiastic high school kids who were cheering me on.  They filled my bottle and I grabbed one last gel.  This is also where the 1/2 marathon connects with the main marathon.  Starting at 8 am I was now in the midst of 1/2 marathon runners.  It gave me a boost picking them off one-by-one to the finish.  As I was passing one of them I tripped and fell in a bad way.  The trail was steep and wet with me sliding face first down the mtn for all of 4-5 seconds.  I pushed up mid slide and was running without even slowing down!  It was the craziest fall I've ever had.  The 1/2 marathoner behind me said he could have surfed on my back the whole way down the mtn.  Golden Harper had been taking pictures  heading up the trail and snapped this picture about 30 seconds after my spill!

Golden took the rest of these pictures running down the mtn those last three miles.  Someone pulled some some flagging and I had to stop at a couple of intersections trying to figure out the route (the Orem High track team went up and re-flagged those last few miles) but all-in-all I felt great and cruised all the way to the finish.  I ended up winning in a time of 4:12.45!
Considering the conditions I'm super proud of my time.  I thought before the race that if the conditions were good I could go under 4 hrs which would easily have been the case without the rain and snow.  I'm happy that despite things not going perfect e.i. rain and no drop bag, I adapted without any problem.  I'm also happy that I didn't feel like I was racing the entire way.  It was an honest 90% effort.  I finished and still felt like I could run another 10 miles if I had to.  This sets me up perfectly for Squaw Peak in 2 weeks.  Aside from my sore and bloody knee that I got from my spill, I am feeling quite fresh the day after the event.  Congrats to all 79 finishers for pushing through such crazy conditions.  Race directors did a great job for a first time event and even my friend Greg in his 1st marathon finished and had a great time as did nearly everyone I talked to after the race.  Full results can be found here