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!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Week Running

I've enjoyed some seriously amazing winter trail running over the last couple weeks in these mild Utah December conditions. I ran nearly 50 miles this past week which I think is the most I've done without pacing or racing this whole year! This picture was taken a few weeks ago and is in the new Altra Spring 2012 catalog. I ran the same trail yesterday in perfect Christmas conditions. Loved it. Merry Christmas to everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2011

0 for 2, hopefully 3rd is the charm

I did not get into the Hardrock or Western states lotteries for 2012. Hoping that my 3rd application gets chosen. Registered for Wasatch 100 today! Won't find out for 7 weeks if I get in or not but I sure hope 2012 is another Wasatch finish!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Altra Lone Peak- A view from the inside

As co-founder of Altra and being heavily involved in the development process, a review of my own shoe is more or less irrelevant. However after spending the last 2 years creating and testing The Lone Peak, below are my thoughts:This shoe was built to run the Wasatch 100. We wanted a light flexible and nimble shoe that was tough enough and protective enough to handle any terrain. I believe we nailed this on the head. Having raced Wasatch 100 in 2010 in our first prototype along with Battle of Big Springs, Katcina Mosa 100k, Antelope Island 100k, Kahtoola Snowshoe Marathon, Diablo 50k, as well as hundreds of other miles including pacing duties at Squaw Peak 50, 40 miles of Hardrock 100, and 40 more at Wasatch 2011, I've taken this shoe through the nastiest stuff ultra running can dish out. Here's why its the best:

1st- Zero Drop. This encourages better running technique, particularly when fatigued. It also creates better balance and less rolled ankles. As soon as you elevate the heel, it puts you in an unnatural position and destabilizes the ankle due to the downward plantarflexion of the foot. Zero Drop is amazing. We are the originators of the term Zero Drop and have been proponents of this concept well before we even started Altra. Its the future of running shoes.
2nd- Fully Cushioned Sandwiched StoneGuard. When people think of Zero Drop, they tend to think of minimalism. The Lone Peak however has the forefoot stack height and cushion of a Brooks Cascadia. We just don't have the unnecessary elevated heel. Now....the brilliant concept of the sandwiched StoneGuard! We use a double layered midsole. IF a shoe has a rock plate, it is always located against the outsole. This protects the foot from rocks but pivots the foot increasing the instability and rolled ankles. Our rock plate is cleverly sandwiched between our two layered midsole. So the rocks can deflect into the shoe before hitting the full-length StoneGuard. It also has 3 slits in forefoot for increased flexibility. Hard to describe but very effective over uneven terrain!
3rd- Foot Shaped Toebox. By widening the toebox your toes can spread out, relax, stabilize, attenuate shock, reduce black toenails, and generally perform better then jamming them in a narrow tapered toebox. This is particularly effective when you begin to fatigue. As your feet swell, they can do so comfortably and perform better late in a race. Its incredible at mile 85! Others vs Altra

4th- Traction/Outsole.
Its simple yet effective. Uphill traction, downhill traction, strongest canted lugs are directly under the metatarsals for balance & propulsion, and the lungs are far enough apart to shed mud easily. Also has the trail rudder. A throw back nod to the original trail shoes, this question prone feature was made for the Plunge and Dive. Steep nasty terrain and the trail rudder keeps you upright instead of back on your butt. Also effective in keeping mud from spraying up your leg as well as glissading.
5th- Respect the Sport. The Lone Peak is durable. I put over 800 miles on my first pair. Its a silhouette of the name sake mountain in the Wasatch. Built for and by ultramarathon runners it can handle any terrain yet its still light and flexible enough for an easy 6 mile run.

Sounds like a sales pitch, but I honestly believe we created the best trail shoe ever. Its the closest thing to the perfect trail shoe for the Wasatch mountains or any other trail that is uneven nasty and tough. I'm in love....

Check out out website or call your local retailer to snag a pair.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

30 and Ari's 1st Race

Turned 30 this week. A little odd since I don't feel a day over 20 but oh well. To celebrate I went and ran 30 miles on Tuesday. It was awesome until I ran out of food and water. Not the best planning on my part but I only suffered for a few miles. It was nice to get out since I haven't had much of a chance.
Two days later...Ari and I went and ran the Turkey Trot in Orem. I ran the 4 mile race and won my age division! (30-34...its the shoes!) Not too shabby holding a 6 min mile pushing a baby jogger, fighting the crowd for the first mile, and only two days after running 30 miles. Ari having just turned 2 did the 100 meter dash. Lets just say that he went the opposite direction at the start and when I turned him around he sat down and started to cry. The rest of the race went like this:
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Already planning for 2012

Yes as winter approaches I'm dreaming of next Spring. I love aspects of Winter but since I didn't train or race much of 2011 I'm not ready to give it up. I'll enjoy the Winter and will be traveling quite a bit but I'll be dreaming of getting back into race shape.

I have or will be applying for Hardrock, Western, and Wasatch. I'd love nothing more then running Hardrock and Wasatch next year but we will see. If I don't get into either I'll probably do Leadville and Bear. As early season tests I'm looking at doing Antelope 50k, Zion 50 or Timp Trail Marathon, and Squaw Peak 50. It seems like I do so much traveling now that I love coming home and don't want to travel to race. Utah has it all!

I did go out and run a road 1/2 marathon in August. No specific training and with barely 3 days of running a week I was able to run a 1:17! Very pleased. I thoroughly enjoyed myself but don't have any plans of becoming a roady. The mountains still hold a special allure for me. I was also able to run Hobble Creek Half in my own shoes which was very gratifying. The Altra Instincts performed perfectly and continue to gain traction across the country! The Lone Peaks finally released this past week which has also been exciting. Lots of work to start a footwear company but we've produced some pretty freaking awesome shoes....

We have some new models coming next year and they will need to be thoroughly tested, hence I'm planning on having a great 2012!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wasatch 100 and Hardrock 100- 2011

I had the amazing opportunity to pace Ben Corrales for nearly 40 miles at both Hardrock 100 and Wasatch 100. Both were amazing experiences. Since I chose not to do a 100 miler this year, from these two experiences I am satisfied yet chomping at the bit to hopefully do both next year!

Hardrock really impressed me on the rugged nature and beauty. It was surreal. From expansion views, lightning, river crossings, glacial traversing, and a bunch of tough SOB's!, it was incredible. I ran from above Grouse (see pics below) to Telluride. I then was able to run several miles near the finish with Ben and Christian as they finished together. I've put in twice and not been chosen but I'll continue until I get in...amazing!

I've now been a part of Wasatch 100 for 5 straight years. Two finishes, 47 miles pacing, 25 miles pacing, and this year 38 miles of pacing. I picked Ben up at Mill Creek. His goal was sub 24 but he was slightly behind pace and had no room for error. He then proceeded to CRUSH the course blowing past a dozen runners and finishing in an amazing 23 hrs 36 minutes. It was an honor being a part of it. His toughness was mind blowing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Uintahs 2011

Finally getting out for some quick adventures this year. Did a fun day hike with my family in the High Uintahs followed by a 2 night fastpack trip where I covered 45 miles in 3 days and caught over 100 fish. Epically awesome!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sawtooths 2011

Last weekend I had the chance to do an adventure run in the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho. 25 miles, 3 mountain passes, and some great flyfishing. Beautiful terrain.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 2011

June is almost over and the days are getting shorter. Average weekly mileage is hanging around 20 which usually means one 10-15 miler and one or two 4-6 milers. Really sad but life is busy. Here's a few places I've been and fun things I've done recently.
  • Marked the middle out-in-back section of Squaw Peak 50. (I've yet to hear a wrong turn story on this section although I'm sure its out there....)
  • Worked the Squaw event and then ran a few miles with Ben Corralles, then a few more, then he convinced me to go with him to the end. 20+ mile trail run and Ben an awesome 2nd place.
  • Quick sales trip to LA teaching LTR classes, group run, and visiting prospective stores.
  • 9 Day trip to Wisconsin, Chicago, and Minnesota.
  • Ran Ragnar Chicago but since it was last minute and I'd already booked a hotel, I ran all 3 legs back-to-back-to-back. 15.8 miles in 1:45 which is sub-7 minute miles off the couch. Felt pretty awesome!
  • Visited the Chicago Institute of Art on my one day off. As an avid art fan, I loved all the various works from El Greco to Picasso.
  • Missed my flight home, then 2 flat tires in each of my cars the following days. Rough weekend....but went fishing for the first time this year, and yeah, I still have it!
  • Was interviewed by Park City TV (broadcasts later this summer) for two spots, one for barefoot running and the second on Altra!
No more Ultra's for me this year though. I was toying with doing Bear 100 but with my schedule I've decided to hold off. I will be out at Hardrock pacing Ben Corralles and will be at Wasatch pacing/volunteering for sure. After 5 1/2 years I'm making my return to a road 1/2 marathon in Hobble Creek. Hopefully going to throw in a marathon somewhere as well. Got to get out running more since the weather is nearly perfect right now.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Road Trippin #2

Been home for a week and finally feeling back to normal. Being on the road for 41 of 47 days is way to much. However it was quite awesome seeing the entire country coast to coast. Lots of work and a great response to Altra!

From Charlottesville, VA I headed to Richmond, VA then down to Durham and Raleigh North Carolina. Went on a great trail run in Umstead State Park. Smooth single track...

Greensboro, Charlotte, Greenville, Atlanta...where I had a great trail run with long time friend Tommy Schlosser. Kept moving and spent a day of rest with my in-laws in Birmingham AL. Only days after the deadly tornados and my heart goes out to the people who suffered from that desastor.

On to Shreveport Louisiana, and settled in Dallas Texas for a few days visiting shops, clinicing, and training. A long drive from there to Albuquerque NM and a great trail run up in the mountains late at night. Sante Fe and then to Durango CO. What a great trail system and cool town. I'd never been but I'm dying to go back. From there it was home sweet home!

Glad to be back for a while but there will be plenty of traveling this next year or so and I promote Altra.

On a totally separate note...Left Fork of Hobble Creek is TOTALLY washed out. The road is a 5 ft deep river gorge. The damage is unreal. Squaw Peak 50 might have to be re-routed and/or have serious luck getting aid into folks. There is a ridiculous amount of water coming down the canyon. My guess is Squaw will be an out-n-back on the front side. There is NO way of getting a vehicle up there and as a runner it would be almost equally difficult. Less then 3 weeks out so we will see...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Road trippin' #1

In promotion of my shoe company Altra, I filled my car only 6 days after returning from my California trip and headed east. Aside from 2 isolated trips, I'd never been east of Denver in the US. I'd seen many airports on my way to Europe but actually experiencing the cities of the midwest and east were new to me.

I left with Jeremy my partner who would be with me for the first 10 days. We visited several shops, reps, and cities along the way. St Louis, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Lancing, Detroit, Toledo, Pittsburgh, New York, and Boston. The Boston marathon expo was amazing and really made me want to go out and run the Boston marathon. The world record was amazing and vibe was great. I also had dinner and a historic run with long time friend Rob who I hadn't seen for years.

Jeremy flew home and I headed south through Jersey, Philly, Baltimore, and D.C. Long days of driving, work, phone calls, and emails. My tourism was mostly dinner and maybe a run through town. Still working with and experiencing this part of the country has been great. Yesterday after meetings in the morning I had the afternoon free. I was able to do a long run through Shenandoah National Park. Beautiful area! The trails were surprisingly technical and I had nearly the perfect 12 mile run....until 1 mile from my car my phone slipped out of my waist pack and shattered. I had just received a new fancy smart phone 3 weeks earlier...and then it was gone. All my pictures from the trip, ability to communicate, contacts, etc gone. Sadly I feel naked without my phone. Exposed and unprotected from the harsh and cruel world. Pathetic our modern technology has made us. Anyway, it put quite the damper on my otherwise awesome day. Looks like I'm dropping the cash and getting a new phone tomorrow.

Today I'm in Charlottesville, Virginia. 13 more days of experiencing the southern sections of America. Very tiring but very cool. Road trippin' at it's fullest.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Diablo 50k

Rain, wind, and mud mud mud...

With a week's worth of rain, unknown to me when I signed up for this race Thursday night, I lined up for this California ultra. Not much to say about the race aside from mud. Having run in some epically muddy races (BSTM '06, Squaw '08, Timp '10) this one was worse. Ever step a battle. Wet cold and windy many didn't finish or were pulled off the course for safety reasons. Thanks to all volunteers who sat out in the rain for those many hours with kind words. The race directors did a great job under the circumstance. The course was beautiful and I enjoyed most of the many river crossings but the sure was tough.

I finished 5th in a time of 5 hrs 37 minutes. It has been a stressful week but when it's all said and done I'm not in that good of shape. Chalk it up for quite the adventure!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

25 miles on Antelope

Went out and ran on Antelope Island yesterday. Must have been nearly 100 runners out on the Island! There were people everywhere. I ended up running with a new group comprised of Craig, Dan, Matt, Kelli, and Scott. We also ran sections with the likes of Shane Martin, Eric Manning, and even Mr Antelope himself, Jim Skaggs.

Weather was perfect, company was great, trails were immaculate, and the 25 miles comprising of the 25k course, elephant head, and the northern campground loop, were awesome. It was great seeing so many people out on the island. Talked lots of shoes and running form. The Lone Peaks continue to impress as I have over 500 miles on my pair and they are still great to run in! More detailed report of the run check out Craig's Blog.

Here's some pictures of the run that I poached:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Winter Run

I have been pleasantly surprised to have my best week of running so far this year. Four runs for 48 miles, topped by a 13 mile 3 1/2 hour snowshoe journey this morning. Decided that I would embrace this late snowstorm and pull the snowshoes back out. Ended up having a great run with friend Ben Corrales.

On a separate note, in the back of my head I had been thinking about doing Leadville 100. Turns out that they capped the race to 750 entrants, and it's FULL already. Crazy. Sounds like I waited too long to run Leadville and in the future it's going to be a year plan ahead. What really frustrates me about this is the finishing rate at Leadville. It's 50%. There are no qualifications to run the race so it's filled with unprepared non-ultrarunners. Now I'm all about expanding the sport but running such a race is an earned privilege yet the spots are being taken by people who likely are under prepared and won't finish. This never was a problem before because there never was a cap. Now that it's capped, it should be filled with people who are prepared. I propose that you must finish a 50 miler to even be considered to run Leadville.

Anyway, there is my little vent. Feeling good about this week though. Felt strong and ran well. Never let the weather change your running plans...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

For the Love of Running...

As I was having a perfect run yesterday up Rock Canyon in 2 inches of fresh snow, my mind was brought back to a humbling experience nearly 12 years ago. It was when I realized that regardless of winning or losing, fast or slow, up or down...that I loved to run.

I had just finished my senior season of cross country. My state meet had ended in awful fashion. Having tripped on a hairpin turn hitting my head and presumably getting a concussion I was in an emotional state. I hardly remember the second half of the race and barely stumbled to the finish. I was venting to my coach about my misfortune and getting beat by kids that never would have otherwise beat me. He only had one thing to say and as I was running on the beautiful trails yesterday it entered my memory as clearly as the day it happened. He simply told me:

"You have something better than this race, you have developed a love of running that will stick with you the rest of your life."

Despite my highs and lows, runs like yesterday remind me that despite everything else, I love to run!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kahtoola Snowshoe Marathon '11

I decided to take a bit of a challenge to start off 2011. Having run the 25k for the last two years at the Kahtoola Bigfoot Snowshoe Festival I chose to go to the next level. The marathon consists of three 10k groomed loops through the golf course with an additional 2k (1.2 mile loop) during the middle 10k, as well as two steep mountain 5k loops. Total elevation gained is about 5,000 snowshoes. A good challenge.

The temps were a bit milder this year which was nice and as we started out I had little expectations. Having only been putting in 25-30 mile weeks I was not in the best shape for such a race. Bob, from S. Dakota, was a little different. He was running the 50k and had been training like a mad man for the event. As I was talking to him on the first lap I realized that this proud owner of 8 pairs of snowshoes was legit. The course conditions were very fast this year. We clocked our first 10k in under 52 minutes. (would have been the 10k course record prior to this year)
The 5k mtn loop we chewed up easily in 36 minutes. I started the second 10k loop strong. Bob was still moving well and then as I did the extra 2k loop he was gone and I was alone. I knew that both of us had our races won at this point. Finishing my 3rd loop my time was 2:34. I had run 27k 11 minutes faster then I had run the same 25k last year! Fast....too fast. As I started up the 5k mtn loop I purposely held back trying to save some energy for that last 10k loop. I ran the loop in 50 minutes.
I was at mile 20 with 6.2 miles to go. It was tough. The last 2.5 miles are all downhill but getting to the top was a struggle. My legs were so heavy, my quads and calves were cramping but I pushed it in to win the marathon in 4 hrs 41 minutes. Challenge accomplished.

Those first two laps were too fast but overall I ran well ate well and frankly had a great time. Miles 21-24 were really tough but it comes with the territory. I have yet to get a blister in myAltra Lone Peaks!! I've put at least 500 miles in them and they are bomb proof! The loop thing isn't all that bad. I typically shy away from such courses but having my drop bag there with everything I needed was quite nice. I'm not sure of the total number of participants but there seemed to be a great group of people out and about. Very fun festival and having run 3 different events over 4 consecutive years, I'll be back next year!

Fun little video about the marathon made by Randall Davis

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Running

I had two great runs this weekend. I really enjoy winter running. There is little pressure to put the miles in, just relaxing runs. I've been doing a lot of miles on snowmobile paths with my Kahtoola Microspikes. It's been great.

Saturday however I decided to do the Kahtoola snowshoe marathon on Jan 29th so I buckled up my snowshoes and ran the Days Canyon to Kirkmans Hollow loop I did a few week earlier. Instead of 5 1/2 hrs it took me 2:47. The conditions were perfect with the paths already packed down and I had a great time. The only disconcerting part was the amount of cougar tracks I came across. In two spots along the route were not a set of tracks but 8-10 tracks criss-crossing the area. Definitely cougar terrain. Felt good and am hoping to hold up for the whole 26.2 miles in a few weeks.

Martin Luther King Day I ran south BoSho. With temps near 50 it was a slush fest but all fun as I was able to get another 2 hours out on the trail. I've only found two problems with winter running neither of which affected this past weekends runs. 1st-Lack of daylight. Since it's only light 8-9 hours of the day, getting a run during working daylight hours can be tough. 2nd- Late winter slush. It's great but I have this issue of following the slush through the whole spring as I attempt to run the high trails. During winter it's fine but by May I'm tired of it, yet I'm never content running the low trails all spring. Come April-May I'm anxiously attempting the high country a bit too early and end up post-holing through May and into June.

It comes with the territory though and my affinity for the mtns calls regardless of the temps or conditions. One of the allures of trail running though is the various conditions one finds. I've had 3 races in which it snowed during the race...and those races define my ultra experience becoming icons of the sport. However I'll complain about the snow until it gets too I hate the heat....:)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Days Canyon Loop

Ended 2010 with a bang! A group of us met at Jolley's Ranch up the Right Fork of Hobble Creek and headed up the canyon. We ended up going up Days Canyon and down Kirkmans Hollow for a cruel yet incredible loop. The person in front could usually only last 5-6 minutes due to the exorbitant amount of powder. The whole loop is packed down now which I hope is the case for the remainder of the winter. It took us 5 1/2 hours but it was great. I think I can do in 3 hours now that it is packed down. So far all this snow hasn't been too bad!