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, 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.