Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekly Review - 1/23 -1/28

Things have been so busy lately that I just haven't had a lot of time to maintain a consistent running schedule. Last week was one of my longest training weeks, not in mileage, but in number of consecutive days running. I actually got to run every day from Monday to Friday. While not all of it was on trails (Mondays I can't run until after 8pm, so I generally just run roads around my house), I did have a couple that were just absolutely fantastic.

One of which was on a regular trail that I do nearly every week, a run up View Benchmark with Scott. It has snowed the day before and while we knew there would be a bit of snow on the trail, we simply weren't prepared for the 2 feet of snow that had drifted near the top. Nothing like post-holing your way for 200 yards to reach a tiny summit.

Then on Thursday Scott and I, once again, teamed up and completed a course I attempted a couple of week ago, but got rained out on. We ran a loop that Davy Crockett discovered years ago; 25+ miles of dirt road that winds through the city along irrigation canals in South Salt Lake valley. I can't even express how cool of a run this was, to be able to run that far and rarely touch pavement, yet being right in the middle of a suburb community. It was amazing and something I will definitely go back and do a few times.

Friday, January 27, 2012

How Much Do You Care?

I was reading a friends training updates recently and also noticed that he is registered for a 50 mile race in late March. He's also dealing with an injury that he is trying to recover from which will likely impact his ability to perform at his best. Here's the kicker, he's a top elite in any race up to 50 miles (my opinion, not his probably) and at any other time would be a contender to win it.

Those familiar with ultra running know that anyone who has run an ultra event can be found on, as long as the RDs report their results to the site (which is pretty much all events now-a-days). People listed on that site receive an overall ranking based on previous finishes. The number itself is represented as a percent. Elites will often be in the upper 80 - 90+% range. However, as often will happen, non-elites who do well in races with small fields (like me) or the races are non-competitive will also have a higher ranking, giving them the appearance of being better than they are (hey, like me).

What does this really mean? NOTHING, not a dang thing. So why do I bring it up? I do it because I'm wondering if there are people out there who care about their ranking and how they compare to other runners? And more importantly (and here's the big question) - would you consider opting out of a race because you are injured or not ready or for other reasons won't perform at your best just so that you can keep your runner ranking high? I think the answer we'd all publicly say is No, of course not. We don't care and it wouldn't have any impact on what races we do or how we perform overall. However, I'm also willing to bet that at least a little part of us is somewhat concerned with that ranking and how it might be impacted by a poor performance.

I know personally that while I'm not really worried about my ranking (because I'm not really an elite) I do look at registration lists for races I'm going to run and check out the profiles of those ranked high in the field because I like to know who I'm racing against. I think it gives an adequate picture of who we are competing against. Like other runners, I take it all with a grain of salt, but I can say that I do look and it does play a role in how I approach the race. I will be the first to admit that I'm a competitive person when it comes to events and I want to do well. I look at those lists and try to decipher where I'm going to land in the field. And generally I'm right unless I personally blow up and perform poorly.

So I'll ask the question again, what does the ultrasignup ranking mean to you?

And since I've made a personal commitment to not post anything on this site any more that doesn't include a photo or video, here is a token photo from a run I did a couple of days ago:

Scott descending from View Benchmark peak where there were 2 foot snow drifts near the top. Cool day.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Winter Week

Here's a quick video I threw together of a few of the runs we did a couple of weeks ago.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 14th - Weekly Summary

I'm not generally a fan of reading blogs where people detail out their daily runs, mileage, vert, etc. I don't really have much against it, it's just that it gets a bit old reading it on a person's blog between race reports. The only real weekly log I enjoy reading is to see how many times Tony K got up Green Mountain. Ha. For me these weekly reports will be to share a few photos and talk of some of the high points. I hope you find them entertaining.

I've already reported on the 50k around Lake Mountain that I did on Tuesday. At the end of that run I asked if any of the friends who with me wanted to run View Benchmark peak the next day. Scott said, "geez dude, don't you want to give your legs a rest?" My response was "I rest my legs on Sunday, until then they do what I tell them". Needless to say, I spent the next several days pushing myself and having an awesome time in the process.

This past week, other than running an ultra, I summitted three peaks and ran a bunch of really cool trails with some friends. Peaks included View Benchmark (on quite tired legs), Grandeur (via the loop course), and finally Lake Mountain on Saturday with my son, Tyler. All of those included solid miles, a bunch of vert, and spectacular views. I doubt I'll be able to repeat it this week, but even coming close would be an accomplishment. Below are a few pics from this week.

From the summit of Grandeur Peak. We did the 10 mile loop course that I love so much.

Tyler about half way up Lake Mountain. This was his first trip up the peak. He isn't a distance runner, so 8.4 miles is a long way for a run/hike. He was awesome.

The two of us on the summit looking east over Utah Lake and the Wasatch range.

Tyler running down from the summit. His shoes were bare of tread and the packed snow and ice was a real challenge for him on the top half of this route. Super fun though.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lake Mountain 50k 2012

Lake Mountain has become a favorite training run for that distance between 30 and 40 miles. It offers great views of the Wasatch, fast dirt road running, and a complete circumnavigation around a prominent peak, something that isn't easy to do in the Wasatch. We chose this route today as a back-up to running on Antelope Island as there was just too much snow reportedly out there. Four of us headed out to the south end of the island to begin our run; Matt VH, Scott W, and Josh G.

We arrived at 7:30am to a beautiful sunrise and temps in the mid-teens. We knew it would be a chilly run to start and dressed appropriately, hoping it would heat up once the sun was over the mountains. We set off at a very casual pace and made our way west towards Soldier Pass. The two other times I've done this course I started on the northwest side of the peak, getting the rocky hills out of the way early, but then having to deal with the flat, long, straightaway finish on tired legs. Today we would start with the easy stuff and put the difficult parts later into the run. It turned out to be the perfect decision.

As we crested Soldier Pass the sun crept over the top of the Wasatch and immediately warmed us up. However, as we dropped down into Cedar Valley and saw the thick fog holding the cold air down we knew it was going to get cold again. And cold it got. Bitter cold. We reckoned it to be down to the single digits and remain like that for another hour as we pressed on through thick fog, waiting for the sun to burn it off.

Super cold

Josh running strong in the frigid air

Scott in some seriously low visibility

Once we hit Eagle Mountain the fog had burned off, the sun was full at our backs, and we were plenty warm. We knew from then on it was going to be a very pleasant run. Just as we made the turn east all of us but Matt had to take a quick break. Shortly thereafter we were winding our way around the LDS Church farms and headed toward the east side of the mountain. The rolling hills, many of which I would walk in the past (even on very fresh legs) we were running with ease. We came around to Lot Canyon Rd on the east side at mile 19.4 in 3.5 hours. It wasn't going to be a fast day, but we sure were having fun. We stopped for nearly 15 minutes enjoying potato chips, Pepsi, and other treats before heading off along the power line ATV roads all the way to Enoch Pass.

Circumnavigating the farms

Scott cresting the last hill before descending down to our aid stop

While we had stayed together the whole way to that point we now started to spread out over the long rolling hills. Most of these hills are quite steep with loose rocks. In the past I've always walked them. However, this time I ran them all with ease. This is a significant jump in fitness for me since I was now 25 miles in and was cruising casually up some big climbs. I was determined and very happy to have run all of the hills leading the whole way up to Enoch Pass, a total climb of a thousand feet. Josh showed up a couple of minutes later, followed by Scott and Matt about 10 minutes after that. We only had six miles to go, all downhill (well, mostly all downhill). 

Matt coming to the summit of Enoch Pass

Me heading down. Our stop was all the way down near the lake.

Matt and I pulled ahead of Josh as he had to make a couple of impromptu stops. We pushed a nice pace in the low to mid 8s all the way back to the car, beating Josh and Scott by about 12 minutes. The weather turned out to be nearly perfect, the company was absolutely perfect, and we had an awesome day. I felt strong at the finish and knew I had several more miles in my legs. It was a great start to the year.

Thanks to Altra for making the greatest trail shoe ever.

Thanks to my friends who managed to endure my stupid comments.

Thanks Utah for being the best place to run on earth.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

October 90th

A Facebook friend recently posted how much he was enjoying this weather on October 90th. I was an obvious stab at what is unseasonably warm weather for the first week in January. I chuckled at reading it and have now quoted it on several occasions. In light of this awesome weather me and a few friends made sure to take every advantage.

Each day this week I hit a different trail, wracked up a solid 7000 ft of vert, and spent every day running in shorts (except Monday when we ran at 8am) and a t-shirt. Now it is Saturday and the weather has turned a complete 180 as I type this while watching it snow in my backyard. I had plans to run today, wracking up a final 8 miles and 3000 ft of vert, but as is typical with a new baby, sometimes he changes the plans and I am unable to get out. So I'll just share some words and photos from this past week, hoping you get a feel for how much I've enjoyed this fall-like weather.

Monday I threw together a group run with some awesome friends. We ran the Ann's Trail loop on South Mountain in Draper. Even at 8:30 in the morning we were shedding layers and hats after a mile.

Tuesday and Wednesday we continued to hit awesome trails in the sun. On Wednesday I got to run on a trail that I haven't been on before; the Bonneville Shoreline Trail as it winds up the north side of City Creek and then along the ridge up towards Dude Peak. It was a similar route the Wahsatch Steeplechase ran this last year due to snow conditions. That is a really cool area and a series of trails I head back to more often.

The Wasatch range behind Scott looks nearly snowless. As of today that is all changing. While I've rather enjoyed this last week I am actually excited to get back into snowy conditions. It's a fun medium to train on and definitely switches things up, even when running the same trails over and over. Have a great week everyone.