Sunday, December 11, 2011

Recouping & Refocusing

The North Face 50 left me a bit awestruck. Despite running Javelina the previous month I had thought I was in better shape. The depressing feeling it left me morphed into a motivation to excel. Something clicked.

Since doing ultras my training and mindset has been pretty vanilla. I wanted to go out and run. I was concerned in only the essential details to get me by because I was afraid that anything more would make me dislike it. It was a fear that anything too structured would spoil the adventure and ruin the fun. I didn't want to burn myself out and hate it. I'm not sure how but that race lit a fire in me. It gave me the desire to want to improve myself.

Perhaps it's the last race for 2011 and it feels like a closure and reflection. It feels like this year has been a great experiment - new distances and new courses. Even with the short time of experience I have gained I feel ready to train again with real focus. I'll do specific training and work my butt off.

Even with a greater focus and desire I feel the desire for adventure. In the past I might look down on hiking a part of hard trail when I was tired and shy away from that course. This time I'll hike it and it won't bother me. It will be enjoyable because I'll see more.

Ahead of me is putting together a schedule for 2012. A couple 50k's with Mesquite Canyon 50k being a focus. Zane Grey in April. A 100 in the summer which looks like San Diego 100 in June. Later in the year is in the works. It will be a great year.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TNF50 San Francisco - No Rice-A-Roni

That's right. There wasn't any at the finish line. I'll move on but my caboose is a tad chapped at this. OH YEAH. No Danny Tanner, either.

I arrived in San Francisco with the Aravaipa Team (Jamil Coury & Paulette Zillmer) a bit later than expected on Friday. After arriving we BARTed over to The North Face store for packet pickup. Met up with fellow Arizona running cohort Jon Roig, there. Did a downtown jaunt, got food, gawked at Occupy movement, etc.). Took a cab over to the Marin Hostel which turned out to be nice. RIGHT at the start/finish line. Woke up, headed to the start not knowing what to expect. That's been a very common theme this past year. Starting a race not knowing what's next. I'll go into more detail on that later.

I started the race pretty far back... good thing it wasn't too long before the first climb. As usual I passed a lot of people but lost places soon on the downhills due to my headlamp being very dim and unable to navigate territory safely. I had to slow down a lot which was really frustrating. On this first downhills I realize that my left knee was really bugging me... it was quite concerning because I've never had it before. I only hoped that it would subside.

At this point I was annoyed at both the headlamp issue and knee pain while trying to focus on nutrition and 6 other things. Moving along I didn't feel that great and my form felt off which was another frustration. I didn't feel like I was running that well but it was still early on. I was getting passed here and there but I was also doing the same. The ground that I was gaining was the glue holding me together. People were blowing up and so was I but I still just doing a better job at being consistent despite being slow. That sums up most of the race in regards. Some stomach issues here and there. Nutrition wasn't spot on but it could have been worse.

I'm McToast. Sadface.

The course was just poo truckloads of hills, downhills, downhills with steps, and more hills. It wasn't tough by terms of being "technical" in regards to Arizona terrain. It was all very runnable but the climbing eats you up if you don't train for it. I didn't train for it. Hell, I haven't really "trained" for any of the races I've done this year. The competition was just insane as every knows. I had people finishing .5 and .9 seconds in front and back of me - yeah, crazy. It was really neat seeing some many uber ultra guys in one place afterwards. All the big names hanging out... legit.

63rd - 8:34.

Shoes. I wore Hoka Bondi B's and I'll say they sure did help me get through the downhills but they actually are the reason for that weird left knee pain. I didn't give them enough "real" testing. I actually did experience this on an earlier mountain run but chalked it up to being one week out from doing Javelina Jundred. I now understand why this is happening and despite being comfy to wear (no actual foot issues) they don't seem to agree with my form. I think the advantages you get by running downhill in them can be made up through being able to climb faster. Everyone is entirely different, though. I'm a wreck when it comes to footwear.

This will be my last race of 2011 and it was one where I learned the most. I feel it was a success in that alone. Despite not placing that great, etc. I did the best I could in regards to everything taken in account. This year has been all very experimental for me. All the courses and distances have been new experiences and I can't expect things to go perfect so early on. I really haven't trained "specifically" for any races this year. I feel ready (despite only now taking a few days off) to train hard for 2012 and I'll know what I'm up against.

I will be running fewer races next year so I can put more quality time and focusing on specific events. I feel I've reached he limit in regards to "going out and seeing what I can do". I haven't put "true" focus on any of my runs this year. Like I said, it's all been very experimental. That phase was important but it's time to move on. I want to improve myself and I'm ready to focus on this in 2012.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Make It or Break It - North Face 50

So that is what I'm up to this weekend. San Francisco Marin Headlands and the wildly competitive NF50. I am beyond blessed with the ability to get there and am intimidated to say the least in regards. I, of course, am in no shape to actually run with any of the tops dogs but being part of the scene will be exciting. A handful of the best ultrarunners in the world... perhaps the most ever to run in the same event? Crazy.

Have you ever seen "Pumpkin Chunkin" on Discovery Channel? That competition where a bunch of people gather once a year with catapult-like machines built to sling pumpkins the furthest possible? Competitors have three attempts to make the best distance. The third try everyone rigs up their machine to the maximum tension without regards to if things will break or not. If it works you have a prime chance at winning. This is what The North Face 50 feels like to me with many of these top level athletes. Those are who know how to tune their bodies to the perfect tension win. Make it or break it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Javelina Jundred Recap

I seem to make a habit of writing part of a recap a couple days after a race, let it sit for like weeks, erase what I wrote and rewrite it. I'll just touch base on some brief parts but in tradition please see the following better race reports first: Jay Danek's report @ McDowell Mountain Man and Jeremy Dougherty's report here. Also see Hal Koerner's website and Liza Howard's post.

The Arizona Crew
Photo courtesy of Manoj Nagalla

What a crazy day... this was my first hundred, well 101.4 to be exact! That matters because 1 mile felt like 10 and 9 felt like 90. It definitely felt like a journey despite being a 15.4 mile loop in the desert. The day started early and wrapped up late like all good things should. I finished in 18 hours and 53 minutes and despite having a lower number in my head and snags along the way, I finished and did my best in regards. I actually have never ran a complete loop out there so it was pretty much new for me. I wasn't sure I wanted to do a run on a loop course but it wasn't as bad as I thought. I do think I perform better on mountainous type routes but not having to worry about following ribbons or where aid stations are has its advantages. There definitely were times when I'd curse it as I had mistaken runners headlamps for an aid station's soft glow of refuge in the later hours.

That's my "slightly concerned" look
Photo courtesy of Manoj Nagalla

The snags... I'd say shoes, stomach and nutrition were my main things and that's all experience. I had an issue getting enough calories in and Carb Boom gels were upsetting my stomach. I found a couple things that worked but it wasn't enough to sustain me for the long run. Next time will be different! Oh and I also learned that music is really important for me to keep moving... I had a loop where my ipod died and it was really tough for me. Pacer and Volunteer Jeremy Dougherty let me borrow his later on which saved me along with asking me the best questions in my delirious state. Oh yeah - Tylenol is really helpful. I learned that a little too late in the game.

Photo courtesy of Manoj Nagalla

Want to know what it feels like that night after running your first hundred? Managing to crawl to the refrigerator... making it just about there but passing out on a cold tile floor. Waking up a couple minutes later and thinking how hard it will be to peel my body off the floor then open the door and pour a glass of water. yeah.

Now that I'm done I've asked myself  "Would I do Javelina again?" and the answer is Yes. I would do it again and again. Why you ask? I have a buckle now so what's the point of another one? Because it's not about the buckle. It's about the experience that you have out there with other crazy ass people like yourself. It's a way of validation that you're not the only one who enjoys it. It's a time to hang out with people who I can relate with.

People who are awesome:
The Coury's - Top gun classy. THAT is a title that is VERY hard to achieve and I bestow it to them
My pacers - Jon Roig and Jeremy Dougherty (thanks for the ipod sucker!!) and my Dad. Finishing your first hundred with your pops is pretty cool. Also a thanks to Boone who was really awesome and helped me a lot
Super runners: Awesome job by Jay Danek and Bret Sarnquist... both totally blew past me later in the night. Strong running out there! I have some things to learn! Also Michael Miller for being a badass. Lori for air high fives and being my lunch buddy.

So what's next? I'll save that for another post!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cave Creek Thriller 50k

Firstly I'll say I really don't have much to add in addition to already superb race reports from Aravaipa Running & McDowell Mountain Man AKA Jay Danek. Definitely check those out as I'll be brief in my account.

Went into the race not fresh being that I did Mt. Ord (couldn't resist) the Wednesday before... awesome time but it does include 4k ascent and decent. My hamstrings and calves were feeling a bit tired from that.

50k group on the charge
Photo courtesy of Aravaipa Running

The field out there was quite competitive with a variety of Arizona's talents. The trails at Cave Creek are just superb... very nice and manicured. I think this is relative to each person but I found them to be nice. Runnable all throughout and I think that is what got to people. You can go all out if you want and that's what people did. People started out fast and it was pretty much a game of who could last the longest. Despite cursing my shoe choice (despite looking cool) and muscle fatigue from some good recent training I went out there and did my best. I think 4:10's out there is realistic (ran a 4:26). It's a really sweet course that isn't the easiest or hardest but is a great example of desert trail terrain. I also donned the Aravaipa jersey and am super excited to be part of their team. It's an honor to be a part of such a talented and incredible group of people.

Until next time!

Photo courtesy of Bret Sarnquist

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Man Against Horse 50 mile

If you were a centaur could you win both man and horse races? A plausible question I ask myself during the 28th annual Man Against Horse 50 mile endurance run & ride.

Start of the 2011 Man Against Horse Run

A run where both Man & Horse share the trail through the beautiful mountains of Prescott Valley. Man and beast pitted against each other in an eternal battle for grand dominion of planet earth (cue dramatic music). OK so that last past isn't totally true.

This has been on my radar for about a year and I'm so glad I did it. It was a really unique experience and the funnest runs I have done as of yet (even though I had a couple rough patches). I'd like to extend my utmost gratitude to Nick Coury for his help on a couple aid stations where without I would have be much worse off. I also am led to believe his mountain beard does have magical powers just by the sight of it you can run faster.

Pictures I have can be found here:
More race pictures can be found here (very nice and high quality):
2011 Results:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Paatuwaquasti - Water is Life 50k

It's been a long time since I have posted anything and it's mainly because I never know where to start. So instead of thinking I'll just start.

I didn't do any races from April to August so it feels like a LONG time. I however did some pacing/crewing at Angeles Crest 100 (which was amazing, scary and inspiring at the same time). Other than that most races during those summer months normally require long travel or are things that require entry that involve lotteries or extra requirements.

Finally racing season has finally starting to begin here in Arizona, for me at least. I did the Paatuwaquasti - Water is Life 50k which is not a race more-so a run or experience. It was really awesome and lots of fun to be out there with other people. You can read a great report on that here:

Here are some digital photographs:

I really wish they wouldn't put those awful power lines everywhere. Ugh.

Dude on the left there had a little too much sun tan lotion on... looks like casper.

Finishing up wearing my Air Jordans

It was that big.

Finish conversation. All the cool people wear baller shorts. Just FYI.

Always one step ahead of fashion. Don't hate.

Upcoming Stuff:

I have given a lot of thought of the runs I will be doing in the upcoming months. This is what will happen:

Man Against Horse 50 mile - October 1
Javelina Jundred 100 mile - November 12
TNF 50 - December 3

I think that looks good. The thing I'm a bit... uhh inquisitive? about is Javelina. I have no idea how that shit will play out. It's loops but it looks fun because of the Halloween aspect and huge group of runners and support... but damn loops. Oh well. It's close... has a sweet ass belt buckle. I want a buckle so I can:
a) wear a rockin' belt
b) intimidate people
c) intimidate intimidating people
d) look badass

Yeah I have no idea how my training is going to play out for 100 miles but I'll finish one thing a time.....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Leona Divide 50 Race Report

This race report is way past belated but the experience is still quite fresh in my mind. I think that's what it's like for anything you do for the first time being the LD50 was my first 50-mile run. I signed up for it only a couple days after doing my last 50k of the winter running season here in Arizona. Having not completed a 50-mile yet it was something of importance to do. Here's a breakdown:

Goals & Breakdown
So my original goals were to: finish, finish in top 10 and complete it in 7-8 hours.

I accomplished all of these. I finished 10th place in 7:34. I did have some issues during the run and with those aside I feel I realistically could have finished in 5th in the lower 7's at optimum performance given some circumstance aside. I can't complain being the race was my first 50-mile experience. There were some parts that were challenging but I was going into it not feeling that great, too.

Lake Huges, CA is a beautiful area... it's very serene and peaceful... it almost has a Vermont like feeling. The course was primarily an out and back (should have studied it better) and had some good climbs. It was much sandier (is that a word?) than I expected... really wore the wrong shoes for these conditions and think that was a downfall for me. The morning started out a bit chilly and it got quite windy on the tops of the mountains during the day.

Volunteers and aid stations were top notch. I saw some dude in a rabbit suit with a talking parrot at half point... wtf? lol. They had an 80's and Alice in Wonderland themed ones, as well.

I went with David James and James Bonnett. Seriously, can you have anyone better to go with? Top notch athletes... I felt honored to tag along.

Awesome experience... definitely a race you'll want to check out and makes for a friendly first 50!

Sunday, April 24, 2011