Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Redemption in Cedar Valley

Finally, redemption on Cedar Valley. That place hates my knee and every time I have run there (albeit, it has only been twice) I've walked away with ITB issues. Monday would be a very different story.

I had planned to head out there with the objective of running anywhere between 30 and 50 miles. I would just take it easy and see how things felt. I knew going in it would be a challenge. I think I under-estimated how impacting my run with Emily on Saturday was on me. I actually felt pretty good that whole run, however, in the 2.5 hours we were out there I didn't fuel at all because I gave my one gel to my wife to eat. I also kept my fluid intake to a minimum because I made her take more due to the heat. I ended the run feeling pretty worked, considering it was only 11 miles. Sunday I really felt it. My legs felt tired and heavy and I was lethargic all day. I knew I was feeling the after effects of mild heat exhaustion. So I knew going into Monday's run that I would be working against my own legs and energy. It was a good thing though because I wanted to test myself on tired legs and without a taper.

I drove out to Cedar Valley and was parked by 5:15am. I was off and running my first loop by 5:20am. The moon was bright and I didn't even need my head lamp. I never turned on my light and fully enjoyed running in the dark. It was a beautiful, cold morning, with a light mist over the valley and beautiful stars above my head. The first loop runs around into Eagle Mountain and then back to the car. It is about 4.75 miles back around to the car. It was a great warm-up with little incidence. I then took off towards The Ranches because I wanted to get the big hill out of the way early. There is also a lot of running on pavement and I wanted to get that out of the way too. It was a smart decision. I felt pretty good most of the way, but by mile 13 my Plantar in my left foot was starting to really act up. It would plague me until about mile 20 when it would finally settle down. Loop 2 is about 13 miles and is a direct out and back on the Pony Express road into the Chevron at The Ranches. As I ran down the hill to the Chevron I got to watch the sun rise behind Mt Timpanogos. Beautiful. I didn't stop at the Chevron, but just turned around and headed back. Running back up the 2 mile hill felt just like running on flat ground and I was making great time. When I got back to the car I had traveled roughly 17.5 miles. This stop was longer because I had to refill everything, grab a banana (which I carried for another two miles before eating), and take off my pants. It was still chilly so I kept my long-sleeve, hat, and gloves on.

As I began loop 3, a lolli-pop run into Fairfield and back, I really started to feel the affects of Saturday settling in. My visions of going 50 seemed remote, but I knew I had enough for at least a 50k . . . and I was still maintaining a pretty good pace. That loop was also uneventful, although I pushed the pace much quicker the last three miles because I wanted to see if I could complete a marathon in under 4 hours, but I didn't quite make it. I got back to the car, 25.75 miles, in 4:02:00. This was another long stop (4 min - ish) because I took the time to stretch (very smart) before heading out again. So I didn't actually complete a marathon until about 4:11:00 or so. Stretching was genius though because I felt awesome. On loop 4, after 2 straight miles I had about a 250 ft climb over the course of a mile to reach the highway and again it felt like I was running on flat ground. I stretched again at the top and then turned to head back down. I took note of the time as I hit the 50k mark and it was exactly 4:53:00, a new 50k PR. I then trotted to the car to finish the whole thing off at exactly 32 miles. I definitely had more in the tank and could have probably gone to about 40, but I really wanted to get home and spend the afternoon with my family before my wife went to work tonight at 6pm for a night shift at the hospital. 

I don't feel sore or all that tired. I already have plans with Scott to run during lunch tomorrow. I was worried about my fatigue for a while there and if I thought I could really travel 100 miles on flat dirt road. I quickly put it out of my mind though, knowing that after a good, long taper and lots of rest I should be just fine. I'll have a ton of support too and that will make a lot of difference.
Slow milesFast milesTotal Distance   Total Time
22.0010.0032.00                5:02:16

Monday, September 20, 2010

Timpanogos Summit #4 . . . this year

I just can't stay away from this mountain. It is too much fun and too good of a run to pass up when the opportunity presents itself.

I ran it with Scott this morning. He was itching to get out running and tag a peak. There is no better than Timp, that's for sure. We met at the normal spot at 2:30am and were at the trailhead 20 minutes later. We were running before 3am, it was nice. When we got to the parking lot there was only one other car there and by the way it was parked it looked as though it had been there for at least a full day. Just as we were leaving another car pulled up, but other than that we didn't see anyone the entire way up the trail. SO NICE!!!

It was really casual going up, just like last time. Splits for this time were nearly identical to the last time we ran up it. The only change was my split from the saddle to the summit. This time it was about 6 min faster. I felt really good, especially after a good week last week and basically no rest day (27 hours doesn't really count). I huddled in the shack for about 7 min until Scott got there, we took some pics and then headed out. I only stopped my clock a couple of times to wait for Scott.

Coming down felt pretty good until I folded my right ankle and had a few dodgy steps on my left plantar (which hurts now). The ankle is fine and the plantar will subside, like usual. Scott was much quicker coming down this time than last, especially on the lower half where he kind of had troubles last time. He should be pleased with his overall time. I feel really good. I'm surprised how well my legs are doing right now. I should have another strong week this week and then my last long run this coming Monday. Then I'll taper for the race.


Location Split Time   Total Time
Scout Falls 21:54 21:54
Emerald Lake TO 1:03:38 1:25:32
Saddle Up 28:43 1:54:16
Summit 18:27 2:12:43
Saddle Down 13:52 2:26:35
Emerald Lake TO 19:53 2:46:29
Scout Falls 43:59 3:30:28
Total 15:19 3:45:47

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pacing at the Wasatch 100

I had the opportunity to pace a friend of mine in the Wasatch 100 today. It was a long and tough day, but he finished and did a great job. But let me back things up a few steps. . .

I was following my friend's race online (along with Crockett and others). He was doing great on pace until he reached Lamb's Canyon, mile 53. Then something happened between there and Big Water (the top of Millcreek Canyon). He was due to arrive at about 8:30pm, but by 10pm he had yet to show up. I was planning on leaving home around that time, drive up to Brighton, and run the course backwards for a few miles and then cruise back to the car for a warm-up, prior to Darrell getting there. However, I didn't want to leave home in case something happened to him, so I hung around home till 11pm with no change to his status and decided to drive up anyway. Upon arriving at Brighton I immediately went into the aid station (pleasantly referred to as "The Morgue" to see if he had finally showed up at Big Water. It was now 11:30pm and he had still not shown up. To keep on pace to go under 30 hours total he would have to be in Brighton by 2pm, but the trip from Big Water to Brighton is 13 miles and takes most people 4 hours, at minimum. I would have a long time to wait. So I went out for a run in the freezing cold.

I ran down from the aid station to the Guardsman Pass road and then started up. After only a mile from my start I saw a blaring green light in front of me, no other than the illusive Davy Crockett. He was on PR pace. I ran back down the road with him for a bit, chatting and enjoying the night. He asked about Darrell and I explained the situation, at which time he said, "wow, a lot of people are DNFing at Big Water because of the cold". I figured it was best to head back to the aid station to see if, in fact, he had DNFed. When I got there just the opposite had happened, he had actually gotten to Big Water and checked out and was due at Desolation Lake at 1:40am, putting him at Brighton around 4:30am (based on the average pace of most runners at that pace). I thought it best to bail on my warm-up run and instead get a bit of rest, so I headed back to my car and hunkered down under a blanket for a couple of hours. I set an alarm for 3:45am, thinking that was plenty of time. I don't know how much rest I got, no more than an hour, and at 3:18am got a call, unbelievably from Darrell. He was at Brighton. Somehow he had found a 5th gear and crushed the Desolation to Brighton section. Seriously crushed it! So I quickly gathered up my things and headed indoors. Within 10 minutes we had bade his brother farewell and were off up the trail to Catherine Pass.

It was cold outside, but the nightsky was incredible and we were flying up the trail at a monster power hike. Within the first 30 minutes we passed two groups of runners. By Catherine Pass we passed another, and by the time we made it down the very technical trail to Ant Knolls aid station we has passed another couple of groups. Unfortunately, the climbs were steep and when it was runnable trail Darrell was a bit too tired to push the pace, so we jogged at times, but generally maintained a steady power hike.
We cruised into Pole Line Pass aid station feeling good and other than standing by the massive fire for a few minutes to warm up we were ready to go. That fire may have been the most depressing thing ever. The few runners who were sitting around it did not look good. Runner 201 actually left the aid station and then came back less than a minute later, he was just too cold. Poor sap. He probably shouldn't have worn shorts in sub-freezing weather.

We hoped that after Pole Line it would be a steady cruise the last 16 miles down hill to the finish. Little did we know we were in for a battle. Up, then more up, then around a mountain, then up, down, up, down, down, up, technical trail through trees that just never ended. It was the longest 6 miles to Pot Bottom aid station of our lives. Darrell was frustrated and ready to just be done. Even still, he kept up a good power hike out of the aid station and onto the ridge heading towards the finish. There were moments of cursing the continuous twists and turns, ups and downs, but finally we made it to pavement and the last mile to the finish. Darrell finished his first 100 miler in 31 hours and change. Amazing. I was so happy for him and proud of his ability to stick to it.

And here's how dedicated I am as a pacer: I missed my sons football game for this and he got an interception!!! So awesome.

Congrats to Darrell, Davy, and all of the others who put everything out there to do something great. Whether it was their first 100 or their 50th, I can vouch for the fact that it is always something special. I can't wait to try my first.

And I was happy to get in a good 28 miles on tough trails on only one hour of sleep.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mt Timpanogos Run

I've been planning for a while to do a night run so that I could prepare for pacing next week at the Wasatch 100, but I was uncertain of what I wanted to do. Then it occurred to me to try 'double-up' of Mt Timpanogos, a 14 mile round-trip run with 8700 ft of elevation gain and loss. It is an extremely rocky and technical trail, but most of it is quite runnable. Doing it twice would be a great accomplishment for me and another ultra notch on my belt of growing achievements. However, as a result of running Quest for Kings a week and a half ago I have developed Cuboid Syndrome in my left foot from all of the pounding on technical trails and it is extremely painful. I thought I had it pretty well healed up, but Monday I did a road run with the last to miles in my Vibram Five Fingers. Those two miles completely inflamed the injury again making my double-up attempt doubtful. Over the course of the 24 hours from when I re-injured my foot I went back and forth too many times to count on whether I would try the double-up, not try it, only do a single summit, run a different trail, and not run at all. It wasn't until 5pm yesterday when I finally decided to just head up to Timp and give it a single go, post-poning a double-up attempt for a time when I am 100% and have a better pair of shoes (the shoes I ran in last night are well worn and are racing flats, not great for me at distances above 15 miles). So I rallied my compadre Scott once again for some silly adventure. The plan was to run it super easy and if I felt significant pain I would cruise to a walk. The goal was two fold; get some good night time running in and finish. Simple.

I met Scott in Alpine and we drove his car up to the Timpooneke trailhead. We intended to start running around 10pm, but were slightly delayed and didn't hit the trail till just after 10:30pm. There was only one other car in the parking lot. We started off at a super easy pace and were able to maintain it for a long time before we felt the need to power hike anything. We were a few minutes behind my last time up there when we got to Scout Falls, but it is what I expected and I felt fantastic and knew that this was the perfect pace for this run. Not long after Scout Falls we came across two women who were hiking up into the Emerald Lake area. One had a pair of skis strapped to her back. They were obviously going to camp, summit, and then the one was going to ski the glacier. Awesome. We made pleasantries and continued on at a great pace up into the lower cirque. At this easier pace  I was able to run more sections than ever before, something I'll remember on future attempts. My goal was to simply hit the summit in under 2:30:00. We crested the lower cirque into the upper at almost 1:24:00 and continued smoothly up to the switchbacks. Scott took a digger on a rock which slowed him down for a minute, but he recovered well. I had been keeping a very sharp eye on the clock and when I should be eating and it really paid off. I used First Endurance EFS gel and the pay-off was HUGE. I had tons of energy on the whole run. I swear that stuff is like rocket fuel. I took some of the short-cuts up through the switchbacks in the main cirque, but it still felt really long, longer than normal. I tried to push to the saddle quicker, but that just made Scott fall behind. I waited at the saddle and then we both pushed through easy to the top. I ended up hitting the summit at 2:15:00 and Scott got there about 5 minutes later. It was super cold, but such a beautiful night over-looking the valley. It was a real joy to be up there in the middle of the night alone in that place. I sure do love that mountain.

We didn't stay long, it was just too cold. We both had on pants and a long-sleeved shirt. I also had on gloves, but my hands were still cold. The temps had to be in the 30s with a 20+ mile an hour wind. Chilly. I still felt awesome and my left foot wasn't hurting too bad so I was able to keep a good pace going down the scree back to the gap. I opened up a sizable lead on Scott who was taking it much slower on the technical terrain. I waited behind a wind sheer at the gap and then we made our way back to the saddle. By now we were well behind my pace from when I did it in July, but we were still on target to hit the bottom in under or around 4 hours. Working back down through the cirque went slower than I had hoped and we only managed to get back to the Emerald Lake turn-off at exactly 3 hours. That left one hour to get to the bottom, very doable. We tried to keep a decent pace, but Scott was having trouble seeing the rocks with his lite, so I gave him an extra I had. It seemed to help a little, but still couldn't stop him from taking a fall down near Scout Falls. It was a hard hit and really shook him up. He recovered after a couple of minutes and I put him in front to try and give him some extra light with me running behind. I think it helped because his pace picked up considerably. We hit the bottom at 4:18:34 by my clock and 4:30:00ish by his (I stopped mine at the top and saddle waiting for him), a little slower than I had hoped, but still respectable and I think really good for Scott's first time running that mountain and in the dark. It was a lot of fun. I didn't get home till about 4am, quickly jumped into bed, and got 3 solid hours of sleep before having to get up for work. Yeesh, what a night.

Location Split Time   Total Time
Scout Falls 21:54 21:54
Emerald Lake Sign 1:03:07 1:24:01
Saddle Up 28:33 1:52:34
Summit 24:14 2:15:40
Saddle Down 18:39 2:34:20
Emerald Lake Sign 26:35 3:00:55
Scout Falls 57:58 3:58:01
Total 20:32 4:18:34

Some things I learned from this trip:
1. My shoes have been a major contributor to my foot injury. I'm certain I ran my Inov-8s about 100 miles past when I should have retired them. They got soft and unsupportive while I was still running very technical trails. Likewise, because I am a mid-foot striker the chunky soles on my Crosslites began to wear down heavily on the outside of the sole, but not on the inside (the natural way of rolling from the outside of the foot to the inside - pronation). Therefore, it was causing an uneven landing surface and forcing more weight onto the outside of my foot or Cuboid bone. New shoes have been ordered!
2. Maintaining good energy is essential. And not just maintaining good energy but utilizing a product that works well for me. I am fully committed to First Endurance products. They are amazing. I strive to ingest about 300 - 350 calories an hour and it works great for me.
3. Could I do a Timp double-up? Absolutely. In different shoes with a healthy foot I could have done it last night. I felt great at the finish and I feel good now. In fact, I think I'll go out for a run. Have a great day.