Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sapper Joe 50k, 2010

31 miles, 5:22:42, 4th Place Overall.

I have been working hard (I thought) to get ready for this race. I've put in a bunch of good miles, although flat miles, and had a wonderful taper going into today. I had a goal to go sub 5:30:00. I knew if I could do that I could make the top 10, maybe even the top 5. Yesterday I was anxious and excited. My family and I drove down to Lehi to stay with my mom since she lives only 5 minutes from Camp Williams, where the race is run. Em and I went out last night with my brother and his wife and saw a movie and then came home and I got things together and we were in bed by 11pm. Unfortunately, my kids struggled throughout the night and I was up several times. The alarm at 4:45am came very early. I wasn't worried though. I popped out of bed, got dressed, and got my things together. The weather was dodgy all through the night so I decided to wear shorts, a t-shirt, and arm warmers that I could strip off if I got hot. In the advent that the weather turned nasty I decided to put a long-sleeved shirt in my drop bag, which I could pick up at the 3rd aide station, about mile 19. When I walked out the front door the skies were clear and it was just a little chilly.

Scott had picked me up and we were to the starting line by 5:30am, huddled with the other runners in the race headquarters building, a large rec area on the military base. I said hello to a few friends, met some new ones, and after a brief pre-race speech by a few military folks and the race director we all gathered outside for the starting canon. Yes, canon.

They had us off promptly at 6am and we quickly spread out. I was running in a small group not far behind the leaders. As we hit the first hill I dropped Scott and a friend Mark and pressed the pedal a little harder up the gradual dirt road. The leaders were off in blazing form. It was impressive to see them power up the hill. The trail/dirt road climbs over several LARGE hills in the first 4.5 miles, topping out after 1700 vertical feet of climbing on top of a mountain. I felt great going up and knew I was on better pace than last year through this section. Once on top I  hit the downhill, a ridiculously steep dirt road that drops all of that elevation in about half a mile. From there it is rollers all the way to the first aide station, mile 5.7. I ran this first section in 1:03:17, 3 minutes faster than last year. I didn't stop at the aide station as I didn't need anything. I just dropped my arm sleeves and kept running. I felt really good at this point and was having a lot of fun. The field had spread out considerably. The 30k runners had turned around to break off onto their own trail while we headed further out onto the test range. The next 6ish miles would roll through hills and into valleys, allowing views of Cedar Valley and Eagle Mountain. The weather had been holding pretty well and I was plenty warm. At about mile 10 my left knee started to hurt. Not my ITB, but basically all around the knee. I've experienced this before and knew that it would eventually go away. However, because of that and the wind and incoming clouds and cold I started having some mental issues. By mile 11 I just wasn't feeling it. I was trying, but I was basically miserable. I was doing a good job maintaining my calorie intake and salt, but it just didn't seem to be enough. I was not happy. I was even having thoughts of DNFing at the 2nd aide station. However, when I got there the guys working it (all military) were so nice and encouraging I found my spirits were higher and I was ready to tackle the next 6 miles.

Leg 2, from aide station 1 to aide station 2 (mile 12.7), 7 miles - 1:02:37

The next section of the course is really awesome. It moves up through Oak Springs and is set deep in a narrow valley, enclosed by scrub oak and surrounding hills. Much of the trail is runnable, but with my limited energy (shortly spiked by a gel and half a banana) I found that I had to walk quite a bit of it. Leaving the second aide station I was told I was in 3rd place. The 4th place runner was pretty close behind, but even with my walking I seemed to have put on some distance in front of him through this section. The last third of this section climbs up a steep hill to a ridge. Mr Blackshirt was closing in on me. I was waiting for him to power hike past me any minute. I was miserable and didn't care. I just wanted him to blow by me and then I could get back to being miserable. My legs were wrecked by this point. All of the training I had done up to this point was great, but it just didn't include enough hills (I haven't run hills in almost a month). I was in pain. Once on top of the ridge I was able to run again and I maintained a little distance in front of him and even found a little 'something' to power down to aide station 3, mile 19.2. The clouds and wind were too much for me at this point and I decided to retrieve my drop bag. I put on my long-sleeve shirt and grabbed my other water bottle. I didn't need it, but if I took it with me I wouldn't have to wait for them to bring the drop bags back after the race. It was during this little stop that Mr Blackshirt passed me. I tried to be friendly and sarcastic, but he was awfully serious and didn't even answer. I was glad he moved on ahead.

Leg 3, aide station 2 to aide station 3, 6.5 miles - 1:10:41

The dirt road climbed steeply out of aide station three to the top of a large hill on the ridge and then descends equally as quickly to the valley floor below. I kept Mr Blackshirt in my sights, but once onto the next climb he kept running and I slowed to a walk. This would be about the last time I would see him. The next four miles consisted of a series of large climbs, broken up by shorter flat sections. I actually looked forward to the climbs since it felt better to walk than run and was not happy when I had to break into a trot. I knew I still had a shot at reaching my goal, but I would have to push it. I kept looking behind me through the climbs to see if there was a runner catching up, but I never saw anyone. As I worked over the last big climb I caught up to the last of the 30k runners, an old chap who was slow, but grinding away. He was truly an inspiration. After the last climb it begins to roll down and then quickly into the 4th aide station. I stopped to stretch, refill on water, and eat the biggest piece of watermelon I could find. I stayed no longer than 2 minutes. The longest aide stop I had was the last one (aide station 3) and it was only 3 minutes.

Leg 4, aide station 3 to aide station 4 (mile 25.7), 6.5 miles - 1:16:45

From the last aide station to the finish is almost all downhill. There are only two very small climbs and the come at the end. The watermelon really helped revive me and provide some good energy. I often refer to it as my race 'rocket fuel' because it just seems to really make a difference. Last year I was running 7:30 min/miles. I'm sure I was slower this time, but was still able to maintain a good pace. I only had about 5.5 miles to the finish, but just after 2 miles down I needed to slow to a walk. It was just for a minute, but it really helped. A mile or so later I stopped to take off my long-sleeve shirt and tie it around my waist. To my surprise, just before starting again I noticed a runner behind me, and he was close. I had an inner battle about slowing down and letting him pass ("come on Craig, 5th place is still good" vs "dude, suck it up and take 4th, you can do it"). In the end I started running faster. I knew if I could get over the first of the last climbs, a very short and low angle rise for about a quarter mile, I knew I could power to the finish. But the best I could muster was a walk up the hill. I turned around about 3/4 of the way only to see Mr Greenshirt running at a slow trot. Crap! I moved back into a run and after cresting the top turned on the speed again. My legs were blowing up, my hips hurt, and I had no clue where I was getting any energy from. I just knew that I was moving my legs forward. Surprisingly, Mr Greenshirt slowed down and with only a quarter mile left I couldn't see him any more. I passed three more runners (all doing the 30k) on the way to finish, somehow ran the last hill coming out from under Redwood Rd, and with 100m to the finish I pushed into a sprint, pumping my fist with excitement. I finished in 4th place in 5 hours, 22 min, 42 seconds. With all of the energy issues, pain, and mental battles I was still able to reach my goal.

I know I need to hit the hills again. I am going to really focus on putting in some elevation miles. I don't want this to happen next year. Next year my goal will be to go under 5 hours. I know I can do it.

My wife and two youngest kids were at the finish. To my surprise though, my mom, brother and his three kids were also there. It was so awesome to have them there to share that with them. Of course the kids didn't mind. There was lots of grass to run on and my brothers girls loved the free climbing wall. I tried to each some watermelon to recover, but every time I came back with some my kids would steal it from me and eat it. Oh well, they deserve it too. It was a great day all around. And I'm pretty sure I won't be able to walk tomorrow.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ogden Half Marathon and 2009 Running Video

I had the opportunity to pace my mom and her friend Deanna for the last 3.3 miles of the Ogden Half Marathon. It was the first time for both of them and a real accomplishment to be a part of. I am so grateful for her and the dedication she has made to become a runner. So proud.

Here is a short compilation video of my running and racing last year. I don't know why it took me so long to put together, but at least it's finally done. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Salt Lake Valley Temple Run

Today was not the day I expected. I have been planning for several weeks to travel down to Bryce Canyon to do a link-up run of the three main backcountry trails. However, with significant snow on the south end and the threat of more the last couple of days I decided I better postpone. I settled on heading back out to Lake Mountain to tackle the course record for the 50k that I did with Davy Crockett last summer. However, rain and colder temps thwarted that idea also. So I went after another little adventure.
I have had an idea of doing a Salt Lake valley LDS temple run ever since the Oquirrh Mountain temple was dedicated last year. There are now 4 temples in the valley, stretching from Draper to South Jordan to West Jordan to Salt Lake. I've had the run mapped out for about 8 months now and today was the day to tackle the challenge. It would be a tough 34.7 miles on pavement. That is hard enough alone, but add in the nasty weather planned for today and I had a real challenge on my hands.
I drove to Draper and parked in the Draper Temple parking lot at 7am. After getting my things in order I stepped out of the car and set up my camera for my first photo. This was my starting point. I started the clock just after taking the photo and heading out.

Draper Temple 7am

I headed down the road and was quickly setting a good pace. I ran down 132nd South until I got to 3rd East. I turned right and headed north until I got to 123rd So. Just as I got to the corner the light rain that had accompanied me from the start now turned into a downpour with sleet mixed in. I sped up and dashed towards the freeway underpass where I could hopefully hide-out until it settled down. Even running at a 7 min/mile pace I was totally soaked by the time I found shelter. I had to wait out the storm for about 5 minutes until I felt like I could continue on. There was not one inch of me that was dry and I was pretty disheartened, considering I was only 5 miles into the run.

I was really not happy and very wet.

Once I was off again my attitude quickly improved. The rain was almost gone and I was starting to dry out. The westerly wind was like a blow-dryer on my clothes. I had good tunes in my ears and was actually enjoying running through the suburbs of Salt Lake. I ran 123rd So until I got to 13th W. At that point I turned north and ran that road until I came to 114th So. I was still running about 8:30 min/mile, which is pretty quick considering how long the run was going to be. What I didn't know was that there was construction on 114th So all the way out to Bangerter Hwy. Luckily, there were sidewalks available from time to time so that I wasn't in any danger of getting hit by a car. I made it to Quirrh Mountain Temple, mile 12.3 in under two hours. It was turning out to be a beautiful day and my spirits were high.

Still raining, but I don't care.

I knew I was done with all of the uphill. That is always a nice thought when you still have 22 miles in front of you. It was a short 4 miles to the Jordan River Temple and I knew it would go quick. What I didn't realize was the pounding the downhill pavement would have on my ITB. By the time I made my way down 104th So and turning north onto 13th W I was hurting pretty bad. My actual ITB didn't hurt in either knee, but the pounding had taken its toll. I was getting tired. But, with the run half over and three temples out of the way I couldn't be too down. I was determined to finish no matter how difficult the task.

I continued along 13th W and only stopped once at a gas station to refill my water bottles. It was a quick stop and I was off to 70th So where I would turn east and head down to the Jordan River Parkway trail. It was the last of my downhills and I was looking forward to the flatness of the JRP. However, just as I got on the trail the rain started to pick up again and I was finding myself in need of cover. I was able to pick up the pace and race towards the park at 64th So where I could find shelter under the pavilion. I ended up having to stay there about 10 minutes. It turned out to be a good stop. I was tired and my legs were really hurting. I stretched, took some photos, and even made a short video. When the rain had died down enough I hit the trail again. Unfortunately, I had forgotten how hilly that trail is. The hills are tiny, but just enough to hurt after 22+ miles.
I reached the marathon mark of 26.2 miles just as I got to 39th So. I was very tired at this point and the pounding of the pavement had all but destroyed my knees. I got to the marathon mark at 3:48:00, only 17 minutes slower than my marathon PR, which I got at the Top Of Utah Marathon last September, a very downhill course. After a quick stop to stretch I started off again. I was finding that I could only run for about a mile and a half and then I would have to stop and stretch my legs and hips. The cool part was that while I was running I was still able to maintain a 8:30 - 9 min/mile pace. It was just comfortable for me.
At 21st So the trail abruptly ends. I found myself in a construction zone where they were working on some new westbound Trax station. No one seemed to care as I ran through their site and I quickly found myself on 9th W heading north. I reached the 50k (31 miles) point at 4:38:00 or something like that. It was the fastest I had ever run that distance by almost an hour. I wasn't surprised though, it was a flat course on pavement. After that mark I decided to walk a while and get my legs back under me. I made a few phone calls and chatted while I walked for a half a mile. Only just over 3 miles to go. I could see the LDS church office building towing in the skyline and I knew where I needed to go.
From then on I could only muster a run of about half a mile and then I would have to walk for a minute or so. This continued on as I made my way down 9th E, turned east on 4th S, and worked towards 3rd W. I was also having to stop at stoplights frequently. Along my entire run I left my watch running at traffic lights and while I stopped to stretch so that my timing of the run could be as accurate as possible. Once on South Temple I picked up into a painful run again, my energy heightened with the finish in site. As I turned into Temple Square and went through the fence, stopped, bent over, put my hands to my face, and just laughed out loud for almost a minute. What had I just done? I ran 34.7 miles in 5 hours, 26 minutes, and 50 seconds. I averaged a 9:25 min/mile pace for the entire run. I visited 4 temples and experienced beautiful surroundings. After taking a few pictures I called my wife for a ride and then went into the north visitors center to clean up in the bathroom and wait for my wife by the Christus statue. It was a great way to end my run and reflect on what I had done. Today was a good day. Now I can barely walk.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It's Graduation Day!

Since my wife is graduating from the U today and Mother's Day is in a few days I thought I'd take this time to do a bit of a tribute to her.
Meet Emily.

This superwoman is truly unmatched. Prior to slumming it with me she was working full time during the day to pay for herself to go to college. She worked 40 hours a week, was often taking anywhere from 8 - 12 credit hours at the U and was working out religiously either early in the morning or at night. Above and beyond that, she took on another huge responsibility, me. She allowed herself to fall in love with a broken troll like myself and spent the next two years setting me right.

Emily gives the term Dedication a whole new meaning. When she gives herself to something it is with nothing but everything she has. The last three years she have been completely dedicated to school, being a mother, church, and at times, work. As she was applying for the Nursing program at the U we already had one, very young son. We knew it would be a challenge to get through school with just the one child, but we soon learned that the challenge would be even greater. Just before getting accepted to the program we found out she was pregnant with another child. She still decided to start the program and do the best she could. Emily does not know the word 'quit'. Towards the end of her first semester, while carrying a full load of classes and clinical hours, she gave birth to our second son, Max. Four days after giving birth she was back in the classroom taking a test, which she got an A on. Ha.

She has continued to excel in school and her hospital clinicals. She will graduate on the Dean's List near the top of her class. She has already been offered a job at the NICU at Primary Children's Hospital; only one of 5 people hired out of more than 100 applicants. Top that all off with maintaining a great home environment, dedication to church responsibilities, and a clear focus on her family, she encompasses a woman of true greatness.

Emily loves to run and work out. Unfortunately, with the time requirements placed on her with school and family it is has been nearly impossible for her to workout on a regular basis. However, she is back at it and has targeted an October half marathon as her first big race. I love the fact that we have this hobby to share. We love to share workout strategies and how to get better at what we enjoy. It also gives us something else to talk about because when she talks about Nursing it sounds like German to me.

I can't tell you in words how much she means to me. Emily has helped me be the man I am today. She is full of laughter and love. She is a wonderful mother and step-mother and loves her children so much. I'm so grateful for her in my life. She is my best friend and my eternal mate. I can't imagine my life without her.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Tribute to My Mom

Since I am taking a few days off due to some ankle issues (Peroneal Tendonitis) and because Mother's Day is coming up, I thought I'd use today to do a little tribute to my mom (I'll save the one for my wife until later in the week).

My mom, Mary Kay, may be the cutest lady on the planet. At 5'6" she dominates any room with her amazing personality. In college at the Y she was a Folk Dancer and traveled the world. Later, while my brother and I were still in Jr high and high school, she was a part of a song and dance company (all old friends from college). My senior year of high school we had a talent show and because she was a teacher there she and I did a 50s swing number that was, by far, the most popular number of them all. She has always exemplified fun and enjoyment. As the department head of the Special Ed dept at Jordan High School she always has her teachers doing fun things. For a few years she was even playing roller hockey with all the other teachers, keeping up and checking the boys at almost 60 years old. Since then she has graduated to other, more sensible activities.

Mary Kay has always loved to hike. Even when going on walks around town I can't keep up with her tiny frame. I don't know how those legs move so fast. Last year she wanted to start doing some Wasatch Peaks and then hit the Uinta's in the summer. I started by taking her up Grandeur Peak and then Sugarloaf, both easy, but with a lot of elevation gain. Below you can see her on the way up to Sugarloaf.

Then, in August, she joined along with me and Tyler (my 11 year old) and my step-dad Curt on an attempt of King's Peak, a 3 day, 30 mile (yes, 30 miles because we took the long way down) trek to Utah's tallest mountain. In perfect Mary Kay fashion she flew up the mountain without any problems. She carried her own pack, all of her own gear, didn't complain once, and was even making fun of the little boy scouts who seemed to be in agony carrying their heavy loads. So proud.

A few months ago a coworker and friend decided she wanted to run a half marathon. Without hesitation my mom joined in to support her. While a great walker and hiker, my mom has never been a runner. But with persistence and a good training plan she is now ready to do the Ogden Half Marathon in two weeks. My family will be up there with big signs and whistles to cheer her on. I'm even going to pace her and her friend the last few miles. 

I'm so proud of my mom. I owe her everything. She has taught me so much in my life; how to be a gentleman and how to treat and respect women, how to be spiritually minded (she is always, always spiritually minded), and how to work hard and never give up on your goals. She has always supported my ridiculous adventures with an attitude of "of course you can do it". And above all things, she has loved me and supported me through everything I've had to go through in life. Without her I wouldn't be who I am today and I am so grateful that I get to see her as often as I do. I love you mom.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bonneville Shoreline Trail Run

(5:30am) 22.90 miles, 4:12:33 - Today was one of the most challenging runs I've ever done. It wasn't the course (although it is difficult and was harder because of the mud) or the weather (rainy and snowy). For some reason I just couldn't manage my energy properly, no matter how hard I tried.
I ran the Bonneville Shoreline Trail starting at the zoo this morning. My plan was to run the BST all the way to City Creek Canyon and back and then hopefully tack on a few extra miles at the end to try and get a marathon in today. From the time I left the car I just didn't feel right. My legs weren't tired, but my body in general was; I don't know why. After about 20 minutes of running I came to the fork where you can turn up the canyon to get to Red Butte and Wire peaks. Standing at the crossroads were four people; two boys and two girls. The girl closest to me was the first to see me and apparently was terrified by my headlamp and speed at which I was approaching because she screamed, grabbed her boyfriend, and used him as a human shield while she continued to scream. I yelled a loud "Good Morning" to them all as I flew by. After a few miles the trail turns up into Red Butte Canyon. I like this part of the trail because the hills are tough, but runnable. However, not today. I just wasn't feeling the uphills, it was weird. The conditions changed during this part of the trail too, it got insanely muddy. In fact, there were about 8 miles today that could only be classified as 'mud wrestling'.
By the time I got to Dry Canyon/Dry Creek (I don't know which it is named) I was feeling pretty tired and I was only 5.5 miles in or so. But I pushed through. The mud out of Dry Creek was equally as bad as Red Butte Canyon and there were a couple of times when unrepeatable expletives were yelled from my mouth. I contemplated turning back a couple of times, but that just isn't me, so I kept going. By the time I hit the trails below the Avenue Twins I was feeling better and moving quickly down to City Creek. It was at the point to that I began to see other runners. There were plenty out today braving the poor trail conditions and inclement weather. I got to the restrooms at City Creek at 1:58:00, 11.66 miles; slow but respectable. Unlike other long runs I kept the clock going on my watch the entire time. My potty and refuling stop at City Creek was only 4 minutes. However, I was pretty dang tired. I haven't had any gels for my last two long runs, but for some reason I keep coming into posession of those 5 Hour Energy things. What I've done to compensate is mix a half a bottle of that stuff with a water bottle of Gatorade. It works surprisingly well.
I expected to move slower on my way back and was validated threw the first few miles of uphill. But once I got below the Avenue Twins again I saw two runners up in front of me and that gave me motivation to keep up my pace and try to catch them. I caught them within about half a mile and they happily let me pass. I had my trail legs under me by now and was moving at a great clip, about 8 - 8:30 min/miles. At the top of Dry Creek I stopped to stretch and grab some water and then blazed down to the bottom. Unfortunately, once at the bottom I was super tired and the steep little climb in front of me was brutal. Once back on the BST behind the hospitals I was finding it tough to even run. Call it a bonk or whatever you want, but I just couldn't muster anything, no matter what I ate or drank (and I was pounding food and my gatorade mix). On another short climb before Red Butte I actually had to stop and put my hands on my knees as I was scared I was going to pass out. I ate one of the breaded Australian treats my mom brought over and that seemed to help. The climb out of Red Butte was absolutely horrible and I could do no more than a casual walk. Once on top I found a little energy and was able to push the downhill, expecting at any minute to slip and fall in the mud. My shoes now officially weighed about 5 lbs more. It was horrible.
And then there was the last mile. I was walking everything resembling an uphill and had to stop once to get out some home made trail mix. At this point I was just staving off severe tunnel vision and passing out. I had been eating, drinking, and taking salt, but nothing was helping. I was so happy to be back at the car and sitting down. I stopped on the way home to get an extremely large Pepsi. I feel a lot better now and may even try and get out this afternoon to finish off a marathon day. Lessons learned from today:
1. Eat more, no matter what. 2. Inov-8 makes the greatest shoe on the planet. I thought I liked my new La Sportivas, but once I put my Inov-8s back on I realized that they don't even compare. 3. I enjoy living up to my motto; no matter the weather, trail conditions, or personal issues, I Refuse To Quit. That makes me happy. Now, an afternoon with the kiddos.
Ave Pace - 11:02
(7:45pm) 4.10 miles, 34:14 - Common on, you all knew that if I got that close to a marathon day that I'd have to finish it at some point. Hehe. I felt great going out again. My legs felt just fine and it was as though I hadn't even run this morning. I could have easily done several more miles and would have if it wasn't so late and I didn't need to be home to help my wife.
Ave Pace - 8:21