Monday, June 27, 2011


Summer is finally here it seems. Melissa and I went to Manitou last night to walk around and play some skeeball and we could not believe just how hot it was for that late in the evening. Summer is definitely here.

Had a rough recovery week last week after the San Juan Solstice. Mentally I was doing well but my legs felt beat up all week and overall I just felt very tired most of the time. I slept like the dead every night it seems. Had some good runs this weekend so I am glad to report that I am bouncing back.

Nothing new to report regarding Hardrock. I did dream the other night that I got in and I could see my name on the roster in my dream. The whole situation is sort of scary. Brooks and I ran up to Barr Camp yesterday and we were talking to Neil and he told us about the time that he ran it and found out just minutes before the start that he was in... I'd be a wreck waiting down to the wire like that, but it could happen.

Reading a really cool book right now... On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony. Actually I read it years ago when I was Germany but I am going to read the entire series over again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

18, maybe...

Unofficially that is... I heard a report from a little birdie regarding a HR100 runner who got injured in Bighorn this weekend... so I should be moving up at least one slot when the new list comes up from 19 to at least 18 on the wait list. We will just have to wait and see what happens here.

Recovery is going well this week. Already scheming for the Silver Rush 50 and to be honest focusing on it rather than my chances of getting into Hardrock or not. Planning on having a great run that weekend in Leadville.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Yurt

The San Juan Solstice 50 mile run was this past weekend in Lake City, Colorado. This race had been my primary focus most of this year. I really wanted to go down there and turn out a good time. Yes there are more races on the calendar for this year but this was the one that was to define the year for me.

Before even getting to Lake City things were in flux. Lots of snow still hanging in the high country and on the Continental Divide made a very significant stretch of the course un-runnable therefore forcing the race director to alter the course. So the course that I wanted to PR on we were not running anymore. Needless to say I was frustrated by that but after a night of recomputing splits, etc, I felt like it was still going to a good run and decided to still give it all that I had.

Race day morning I was exceptionally calm. Almost too calm I felt. No jitters, no real fear, just calm and not feeling a whole lot one way or the other. Maybe looking back it was more like a calm ambivalence... In retrospect, this should have been a warning yet I had no comprehension of what it may have foretold.

The race starts and we start off and running fast. We climb the climb up Waterdog Trail on Vicker's Ranch just as fast it seems, maybe too fast, but everything is going really well. I am still not "excited" but everything is in perspective. I topped out on Vicker's Ranch at about 1:30:00 and felt pretty confident that is was exactly the pace I needed and things were going quite well but this would the last optimistic thought pretty much for the next 24 miles unfortunately.

A whole herd of us started down though the meadow running. I saw another COS runner way off in the distance and was surprised that he was even still in sight. Everyone picked up speed going through the meadow and down we went... then I realized that I wasn't seeing any more trail markers, then everyone else realized it too. There were about ten people in front of me and about twice as many behind me. Well we had all zigged right, when we should have zagged left and the end result was that everyone ran about a half of a mile off the course. Everyone executed an about face and we were quickly back to the main meadow and on the right path, but by accident now, another mile was added to the day. Hawaiian Shirt Ray and I bombed down the meadow passing many, many, many runners the next five miles to the first aid station with crew access at mile 11.

The next section consisted of a loop that basically went up a mountain, and I mean up, and then back down in 11 miles. Long story short, the climb was STEEP. Stupid steep. I am still fuming over the inadvertent detour of the morning and the precious time that it cost me. But really, the worse part was that I just didn't care anymore. I didn't want to run, I didn't want to race, I didn't even want to be in Lake City. I wanted to quit so bad. That calm ambivalence from early in the morning had turned into pure apathy if not straight up loathing for anything involving running, racing, trails, mountains, etc... I had quit and my heart which felt completely broken was just no longer in it. Meltdown.

Unfortunately, or fortunately during most ultra events one can not just stop and walk off of the course. As I was standing on top of a 11,700 foot peak and debating other options for my life I still had six miles or so of "down" to get to the next aid station and officially drop so on I went heading towards mile 22 and my first voluntary DNF in a 50 mile race. At that point I really didn't give a crap.

I rolled into the aid station and told Melissa that I was done and she in turn informed me that no I was not and that my times were good and for me to keep going. She walked with me up the road a stretch and I promised her that I would see her at mile 40 and that I wouldn't drop before then. Of course dropping anywhere in between was not an option either... Regardless I was committed to another 18 miles.

I don't like running on dirt roads for the most part, at least not long straight stretches and I really don't like running into a headwind ever but that is what the next seven miles consisted of. More non-fun for me! Yay! Not! At one point I heaved my water bottles out of boredom and frustration, just something to break up the monotony of that damned road. My friend Sharon had driven past as she was going to meet her husband at the next stop and seeing her drive by sorta picked up my spirits some as it made me feel less alone.

Finally I made it to the trail which would lead us back up to the Continental Divide. A cool thing happened here... Scott Jurek and Dakota Jones were hanging out at the aid station and Scott Jurek actually said "good job" to me. Of course I didn't think so but it sure was nice to hear. The aid station volunteer filled my handhelds and I drank probably three styrofoam cups of Mtn Dew beforre heading on up the trail on what was gong to be the biggest climb of the day up to the divide and Yurt aid station. I just had to make it to the Yurt after that I would have no reason, excuse, or whatnot to drop...

The trail after leaving the aid station was amazing. It was all in timber and on a nice cool north facing slope. I thought quietly to myself that "I am now in my element," as I started to really move up the mountain. And move I did... I started running faster and overall I was just feeling better. The funny thing is that as badly as I felt all morning, I was ahead of my projected split time at mile 31. The problem though was that splits were matching the miles but not the landmarks on the course. (Due to the rerouting) As badly as I had been feeling, I had still been holding my own for the first 31 miles. Okay, so maybe things were not a horrible as I thought.

This is where the magic starts... I see movement ahead of me. There is a runner... I haven't seen anyone for a long time and figure I must really be in the back of the pack... but there is a runner ahead of me. I focus... I gain, I pass. One! I am excited now... I passed someone. A few minutes later I see more movement in the timber up ahead... I focus, I gain, I pass... Two! The steepest and nastiest climb in the course, over two thirds the way through a fifty miler on the way to the Yurt and I start passing people! Awesome...

As quickly as it felt the entire race had gone down the drain earlier that morning, I realized on my way to the Yurt that it no longer was. I was back and proof of that was the 19 people that I passed on that climb. I was no longer lumbering, or struggling with one foot in front of the other in survival mode anymore... no. I was alive, and I was racing now. I was moving.

I ran a blistering pace across the Divide to the mile 40 aid station passing even more runners... 12 more to be exact since the previous 19. I had gained serious ground. I bombed into the aid station quickly shedding my bottles on the ground and I could tell that Melissa had realized that I am not stopping for anything. She tosses me two new handhelds and then my baggie with gels and saltstick caps which I catch out of mid-air, one-handed and I am gone... Two runners that I had passed and know were behind me and I did NOT want them gaining ground.

Ten miles to go and it is not an easy ten miles... One steep 1700 foot vertical climb which takes you up and over 11,000 feet in elevation then a long five miles back into town... The distance is right but it always just seems so much longer. I climbed Vicker's Hill in 48 minutes, six minutes faster than last year and nobody passed me... but I passed a few on the way up myself. The run down off of the ranch and back into town brought more runners for me to pass which I did. One kid right before town caught up with me though and try as I might I could not hold him off so he did pass me. Regardless it was such a great feeling to have my downhill running to be so solid so late in a race, and especially in this one.

As always though I was so glad to hit the smooth roads of Lake City for the last mile or so to the finish. I passed two more runners the last mile bringing my total for the last 20 miles to 39 passed, and only passed by one. I crossed the finish line in 12:31 which I was so happy with. It had been a tough day. I gutted through a lot of self doubt, disillusionment, discouragement, and all sorts of other mental anguish and yet I was able to still "be there" when things started clicking again and take full advantage of the situation and run harder than I may have ever run in race like this. Because of that I have nothing but good feelings and am very happy with the way things turned out.

I learned a lot in this race. One thing being that I can feel completely like crap, yet still be doing what I need to be doing. Another is that even though I have a strong fueling and hydration strategy in my races which works great, I might want to start having some more "simple sugar" types of snacks and treats around for when my mood falters. This race also reinforced in me that 50 miles is a long damned distance and a lot can happen over that span of miles. Never take for granted where you and how you feel, good or bad, because things can always change one way or the other and then just as easily change again. Be prepared for that but most importantly... just don't quit!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Official Course Change

Compare and contrast... we are running the alternate course in Lake City now (elevation profile on the left)... Not as much time at high altitude but they added another nasty climb. Maybe this one should be called Jemez II.

Kinda takes the excitement out of this weekend for me. Tempted to either bail and not go or go and be more than ready to drop/DNF when I feel like it. Crappy attitude I know, but if you have had the week (past two days like I have) you would understand.

On a good note, as of today I am at what I consider optimum racing weight of 140.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nothing But Questions

I've been sorta quiet the past few weeks, I know. Mostly just getting ready for the San Juan Solstice and focusing on that. As of today, just a few days before the race things are looking sort of complicated and if not complicated, then just plain "unknown" in regards to the next few weeks of life.

Heavy snow in the San Juan Mountains may force the Solstice course to be altered. While I don't want to run in extremely nasty conditions and deep snow up on the divide, this is disappointing to me as I have been planning to run the traditional course all these months. Even if we do run the traditional course, chances are the race will be more "wet" than it has been in the past few years.

The one upside is that the weather forecast for Lake City for this weekend is favorable for good day of running.

Hardrock... I'm #19 now... up two slots from before. It is too soon to start planning time off around the 8th of July yet but I am starting to become concerned about being selected or not. So while not as imminent as the San Juan Solstice questions and concerns... this one is still lingering out there as well.

Also, if I do run HR100 (which I know is very doubtful) then I definitely will not be running the Leadville Silver Rush 50 miler July 17. I do know that much.

Speaking of my favorite town in the high country... I just came back from six days up there and had a great time. I completely loved the silence the clear air, well as long as it wasn't smoky from the forest fires in NM and AZ. I had some good runs up there and felt pretty good overall. I can not believe how much snow is up there yet but it seems to be melting rather quickly. I did find a very, very cool trail behind the fish hatchery leading back into the wilderness area that will require more investigation when things warm up more and there is less run off.

I am still on to pace my cousin John in the LT100 and I am completely excited about that. Running the other night I was thinking about it and one of the coolest things about being a pacer is that I don't have to run down the south side of Hope Pass! :) That hill kills me!

Nothing else to really report... I am glad that summer is here and that I have been able to take a day off here and there from work and enjoy the weather and stuff. I am learning that I need to do that more often.

Everyone have a great week and I will be sure to write before SJS50 if anything earth shattering arises and if not then, I will be writing the race write up afterwards for certain.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

No More Snow @ Slum!

To all of my SJS 50 friends... the snow is now gone at Slumgullion Pass. Now let's just hope that the divide clears and the runoff in the creek crossings up Alpine Gulch isn't too epic.

Slumgullion Snow Guage Link

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rough Weekend Ahead

It will prove tough to navigate this weekend. I am on call tonight until tomorrow morning at 10:00 am then Asia has puppy school at 1:00 in the afternoon. After that I have to squeeze in a 20 mile run somehow.

Of course it will be warm once I get to finally take off to run tomorrow so to be perfectly honest a long 20 miler, in the heat, after probably not sleeping much Friday night after nearly a full day of other stuff just seems a bit too much right now.

There is a possible silver lining though... one of my friends wants to do a long run tomorrow too and if his schedule lines up with mine at least I might not have to run solo.

Heading up to Leadville in five days. I am going to be busy working and dog/house sitting but I am so looking forward to being up there and hanging out at high altitude. I won't do any big runs up there cause I will be in taper mode but still it will be fun. I do love it up there.

Just gotta get through the next couple of days! I will.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June... Already???

I can't believe that it is June already. This time in just two weeks I will be packing things up and getting ready to head to Lake City for the San Juan Solstice. It is funny how I typically view The SJS 50 as an early season race but after running Desert Rats and Jemez, SJS feels more like a mid to late summer race rather than early.

Closed out May with a total of 208 miles. I pulled way back, taking a lot more rest days while really focusing on quality the days that I did run which I think has made a difference. I am showing some signs of actually becoming faster. First sub thirty minutes ascent of the Incline in May... ran a 6:12 mile... and let's not forget having a great run at Jemez. I am happy with May.

In the "Be careful for what you wish for," department... I am now up to #21 on the Hardrock 100 wait list. There are mixed thoughts at this point on if I will get in or not. Some think yes, some think maybe and some firmly say no. Me... I'm not so sure. I know that I don't want to get so far down on the wait list that it would be stupid of me to NOT go to Silverton but make the trip then not get in. At the same time I'm not up for the going down there and playing the waiting game till the morning of the race either. It is fair to say and most agree that if I end up in the #10 slot or below that I will be going there for the start.

As of last week basically I was sitting at 29 I think and I did some math where I was guessing that maybe 20% of those on the run roster would not run for various reasons, injuries, illness, family emergencies, etc... that cleared like 28 out of the roster leaving only 112 runners... THEN I figured the same amount drops out of the wait list... 20%... which removes 6 runners and leaves only 23... I figure many on the wait list will not have planned to go, either travel, time, or money and won't make it, they can be injured, sick and or just not able to go for other reasons as well.

Regardless... Using that math, with me previously at 29 slides up to at least 23 which puts me right in there and possibly a few others behind me... Wonky math, based on guesswork as opposed to hard stats but I think it is still sorta reasonable. My overall guess is that I could get in as well as two to three other runners behind me. We will just have to wait and see. It definitely adds and element of suspense to the summer.

But I am not going to allow myself to be distracted by Hardrock at this time. The San Juan Solstice has been the focus all along this year and I am going to keep it in focus still. If I let myself get distracted by Hardrock prematurely, that distraction could easily derail my plans for both SJS and Hardrock if I were to actually get in.

I am looking forward to my trip to Leadville next week and staying up high the last few days before San Juan. I am certain that is going to help!