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!

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

Monday, May 17, 2010

Upcoming Race- Timp Trail Marathon

My training has been great for the month of May and here I go into another race. Aside from having to travel to California over the weekend AND having a nasty head cold which keep me from running all weekend, I am feeling very prepared and excited for these next couple of races.

Timp Trail Marathon is in its first year and looks to be a classic. Race directors are Marc Sanderson and Shaun Christian both experienced ultra runners who have put together a gnarly little course that should provide quite the thrill. With 8,700 ft of gain and loss with 100% dirt this marathon should be a challenge. I know I'm excited. You can still sign up or at least put it on the calender for next year. I was out on the course today and it was amazing! I have no idea about competition but I plan to go 90% and test my fitness. Saving the A game for Squaw Peak.

Didn't get my long run in on the Squaw course last week but I've got a couple runs planned over the next week, so I'll soon post some course updates. Weather is awesome so get out on those trails!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

May=Squaw Peak Training

Well it's official, I've moved back to Orem.  Finally got the internet up so I've got some catching up to do.  My training sucked last week with the move but since May 1st I've been dedicated to my Squaw Peak prep and it's going better then I had hoped.  My whole focus this year is to get under 9 hours and PR.  My training is where it needs to be so we will see how it all goes.

Course: I ran a section of the course for the first time this week.  Start to Rock Canyon Overlook.  There is a lot of snow!  Scary part is how solid the snow pack was.  We were in snow from the time we left Hope Campground to the top.  I'm confident most of it will melt off but come race day we will still have 3-4 miles total, both above Rock Canyon and Windy Pass.  I intend to run nearly all of the course before race day and I'll post updates and maybe a few pics.

Huge congrats to Chris Solinksy for setting a new American Record in the 10K.  As much as an ultra trail runner as I've become I still got the chills when I watched this.  It's amazing, check it out.