An organization I 'Like' on Facebook recently asked the question "What one word would best describe your ultra running performance during 2011?" My knee-jerk response was to put "lack-luster" since I didn't accomplish as much as I would have liked due to several things; buying a home, having a son in the hospital for three weeks, and then have a new son join us only two weeks ago. Basically, there was just so much going on I didn't have the time or the money to get out and do all the things I wanted to this year. Add to that the fact that we had significant snow in the mountains until nearly August and even my normal, shorter adventure runs were squashed.
And then, just before typing how I initially thought my year went I started to rethink all of the things I did accomplish:
My first real test of the year was the Buffalo Run 50 miler. I went into that race with a 'racing' mindset, intent on doing more than just trying to finish. While I had done numerous 50+ miles runs prior to that, I hadn't ever actually raced the distance. I prepared by heading out to the island on several occasions with friends to prepare. Matt and Scott were both running, Matt shooting for his first ultra. My goal was to hit 8 hours. While you can read my race report HERE, I'll just summarize by saying I came pretty dang close to my goal by running an 8:02:39, good enough for 11th place overall.
Over the next few months I focused on building my base and getting ready for all of the adventure runs and two 100 milers I had planned June and after. One of the cool runs I did with Matt, Josh, and Scott was to head out to Stansbury Island to run loops on the 10 mile long mountain bike trail. That place is amazing and we had an awesome time.
I'm certainly no road runner and am definitely not known for my speed, but I did end up running a half marathon PR in May - 1:34:49. I know, slightly pathetic, but it was a very flat course (something that isn't popular in Utah; they love fast downhill courses) and I wasn't planning on doing anything other than using it as a training run anyway. So to pop out a PR was pretty cool.
In early May I went on another adventure with my boys Scott, Josh, and Matt. We all headed down to attempt the Zion Traverse, 48 miles across Zion National Park. We went down knowing it would be a battle against the elements and a battle it was. Unfortunately, it was a battle we lost and after 18 miles we had to turn back due to significant rain, snow and mud. But wow, what an adventure. It was a 30 mile effort with almost 6,000 feet of climbing. You can read the full report HERE and watch the video HERE.
The Laramie 100 in June would be my 2nd 100 miler and really the first one I would go into with a racing mindset. While I intended to race it, I wasn't actually in the best 100 mile race shape, so my expectations were low. Surprisingly though, the field was small, but the competition still good and I put forth a solid effort that was good enough for the win. I thought the chances of me ever winning a 100 mile event, regardless of the size was near impossible. To do it on only my 2nd attempt blew me away. More than anything it opened my eyes to my own potential and I went into the rest of the year expecting more of myself. Details are HERE and the video HERE.
As the summer progressed I got more and more involved in personal and family endeavors, but even then I was presented with a really cool opportunity, to run Skyline Drive; a dirt road that goes from HWY 70 north to HWY 6, with most of the road being above 10,000 feet elevation. If completed, it would be 110 miles of pure bliss. Unfortunately, we got pummeled with 30 miles of mud. After 50 miles I called it quits while Davy Crockett continued on to complete 67 miles before giving into the mud. That will definitely be a run I go back and try and finish. Details HERE.
Right after that run all hell broke loose in my home. My youngest son, Max, ended up in the hospital for three weeks with a Colidocal cyst on his bile duct. It was a tough three weeks for our family, but he came out of the two surgeries completely back to normal and healthy as can be.
Ah, the sweet pain of not getting into the Wasatch 100. Well, if I couldn't compete I could help my friend Scott finish. He allowed me to pace him the last 47 miles. He knew that if he could make it 53 I could get him home the last 47. He made it without incident and we had a great time the whole way. Congrats to Scott, he really fought for his first 100 miler. The video is great, check it out HERE.
The real focus of my whole year was the Pony Express 100. I felt like I had prepared well enough to run under 20 hours, but the day itself would tell the tale. Not only did I achieve my goal, but I crushed it, running a 19:18:05 and taking 3rd. The part of the entire race was walking knowing I could go faster. My goal two years from now will try and cut another couple of hours off of that (next year I'll be running it, but not 'racing' as I plan to run the first 50 with my brother Brent for his first 50 miler). It was a great way to cap off racing for the year. Details HERE and video HERE.
The remainder of the year was filled with mediocre training and the newest addition to our family, William. Our fourth and last boy joined our family on December 7th. We are so happy to have him. I don't have a good picture now, so I'll have to add a few later.
So after all of that, how did I answer the original question on Facebook? Once I gave it some thought, there was only one word that could describe my year of ultra running - STELLAR. It was really that good.
Tune in soon for my 2012 goals. If I can even come close to achieving them it will be my best year yet!