Thursday, March 28, 2013

2013 Antelope Island Buffalo Run 100 - MVH

I went into the Buffalo Run 100 with specific goals and the confidence to achieve them. First, I was going to complete the course under 20 hours. The other goals all served to put the main goal within reach. I was going to make the logistics of fueling and getting re-supplied as "clean" as possible. I would rely less on aid stations and more on my wife. (She performed magnificently and our marriage is stronger for it. Imma go buy her a nice present at Costco.) Other goals: Put my training into practice. Wear the right shoes. Don't eat fruit during the race! Keep running as much as possible because every freaking mile of Buffalo is runnable. Drink and eat but not too much, and let the stuff in my tummy empty before I put more in. Get a cramp? Drink some straight water. Bam. Done. Don't let a loss of appetite bring on the bonk: Get some gel every 20 minutes, even if I hate it. Don't go out too fast. That's right, slow it down. I can't be bouncing around for a hundred miles as if I am in the woods jumping over deadfalls and bouncing off rocks.

The race started at noon and within a few minutes I settled into a comfortable quick pace with Craig Lloyd and Robert Mueller. The run up the hill was very easy and we chatted all the way up. Over the hill and on the flatter trail, Aaron Spurlcok caught up and the four of us ran to Elephant Head junction together. At the aid tent we all continued without stopping, the others went right to do the out-and-back, and I opted to do the loop first. I prefer to do the loop first becuase it is less crowded. There were only 3 runners ahead of me, including Karl, Nick and another runner. The switchbacks are easily run and go quickly. The climb felt good on my legs. I returned to the junction and did the 3 mile out-and-back, and ran into the crowds. At the junction for the third time I saw that the three other guys had already headed down the hill so I turned on some speed to catch them. I was enjoying the pace they ran and the company. The four of us ran the remainder of the loop together at a fairly easy pace. We could have gone much faster but for my part I was playing it somewhat conservatively. This was only my third 100 mile attempt and I was being very careful about everything. The theme for me that day was Run Conservatively.

Back at the Start/Finish tent at 19 miles, my wife met me on the road and handed me some re-fills. If I could do it over again I would have kept running at pace and let her run beside me until the handoff was complete. Still, I am happy withe the execution. So far I had avoided all aid stops and kept the momentum. Robert had put a small gap on me, and Aaron too. I ran behind them all the way to the the Ranch until I finally caught up with Robert as he stopped for a drink. Craig was a short way behind me and I was expecting him to catch up at some point, which he did at about mile 43. The three of us - Craig, Robert and I - finished the first 50 miles together at sunset. We pulled into the tent at about 7:50 PM. It was so nice to be there before dark.

Craig had set a very solid, and fast pace that last 7 miles. I was working hard to stay behind him, but grateful to have been able to make a strong finish to the first half. I came into the tent feeling dizzy but otherwise very good. I planned to sit down for a while and ponder if I wanted to continue. But I had not time to just sit and think. People were swirling around me, getting me ready to go back out. With a change of shirt, a jacket for the cold, and a full bottle of UltraGen, I set out at 8PM for the seconf fifty miles. My wife walked out with me and down the road.  I made a last minute request for an extra shirt and she ran back for it, then caught up with me just before I turned onto the trail. About that time Craig ran past with his pacer and they moved up the hill quickly and disappeared into the darkness. With the drink going into my belly, which I sipped, I had slowed to a walk/run pattern. I was able to run up about half the hill, which to me indicated I was going to have a good night. Last year my back 50 had been a mess. This time I was running consistently and feeling very good. I opted to do the out-and-back first this time, and passed Craig and his pacer about a half-mile out from the turn-around as he was heading back. I saw only one other runner on that section, and learned later that he had dropped shortly after I saw him. I was cold and windy but I stayed toasty warm in my layers and hooded jacket. On my iPod I had loaded several Cheech & Chong albums so I was having a great time laughing out loud, chewing up the miles.

At the aid station at Elephant junction I stopped for a can of Coke. I sat in the chair, drank the soda, got up and left after a few minutes. This became a pattern for each of the three times I came through there during that 19 mile section. I was getting tired of gel so Coke was a terrific alternative to keep me going. Plus, the caffeine kick came at just the right time. At the base of the switchbacks I saw Craig's light nearing the top. He was moving well. It wasn't until later I learned he was struggling with side pains through a lot of the race.

The last 5 miles back to the Start/Finish area was another solid run. I was moving at the same pace, or even faster, than earlier in the day. At the tent my wife told me she found someone to run with me the remaining 31 miles. I made the decision weeks before to go without pacers for the Buffalo Run, and so far I had no problems. However, having Steve Newman along for the last 50K was a blessing. I welcomed his company. I was more fired up now to get out of the tent than I was at 50 miles. We left walking swiftly, then running up the hill toward the Mountainview trail. I had left the tent before Craig, therefore he caught up with me on the short out-and-back on the MV trail. We ran lockstep for a mile toward the Ranch, but then he dropped back. Steve and I moved very well down to Lower Frary aid. Again, I did not stop as my wife handed me some supplies. The 6 mile run down to the Ranch turn-around was also a solid run. I was feeling very good, but my knees were beginning to be a problem. At the Ranch I walked up to the fire, turned around, and began the run back. I saw Craig about a mile out from the Ranch, which meant I was about 2 miles ahead. He indicated he was having problems, embraced me and said some nice things. I was about 5 minutes behind the 4th place runner at this point. Without the pain developing in my knees I would have made a very good play at hunting him down. At Lower Frary again, I was told he was still only 5 minutes ahead. He knew that also, and must have turned on his race reserve because he took of and I never saw his light again. The 4th place runner eventually made up a lot of time on the 3rd place runner, and came in a good 45 minutes ahead of me. I was fading.

We reached the Mountainview trail aid at about 5 in the morning. If I wanted to finish at 18 hours or less I was going to have to move fast. Unfortunately, my knees were hammered. Still, I had momentum and Steve and I moved well the last 6 miles. Running wasn't so consistent anymore, but there was no stopping and no sitting. We weaved around the rocks along the point trail and just slowly moved closer to the finish. Around a corner the glowing tent of race headquarters came into view. At 6AM I watched from a distance as the 50 mile racers formed a line of glowing headlamps up the hillside. About a mile out I hallucinated and thought I saw a herd of buffalo crossing the road. Then I thought I saw a deer wearing a headlamp running toward me. It was actually a runner going out to find Craig, who was running the last 11 miles alone after his pacer dropped out with a problem knee.

Although I missed my target time of 18 hours, I wasn't too far off with a finish of 18:29. A hundred mile run is much more enjoyable when I can finish as early as possible. That should be the motivation to move as quickly, as cleanly as possible. Overall, this my third 100 mile race, was the most enjoyable race I have had at that distance.

What would I do differently? I would run a little less conservatively. A little faster. I would tighten my re-fueling and re-supplying times even more. I would slow down less when receiving supplies from my crew, and let then run with me, so as not to break the pace. I would clean up all the non-running activities and eliminate them all if possible. Those minutes add up, and it wouldn't have taken much of trimming here and there to take off that 30 minutes that missed my target time of 18 hours. Last year my time at Buffalo 100 was 23 hours, 24 minutes. There was no doubt in my mind that I could improve that by several hours. Last year my time at Wasatch 100 was 28 hours 32 minutes. Likewise, I am confident that I can improve that time by several hours. Bring it on.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2013 Buffalo Run 50 Mile Race Report - Matt W

When I first woke at 4am I got reports from others driving to the race of unplowed roads and blizzards, but from my doorstep the sky was clear and the moon was bright - I could easily see the island from my porch. I picked up Leslie dark and early at her hotel and headed straight out to the island.
Once at the starting line, we lingered in the car, anticipating the cold, but finally headed to the tent to drop some bags and use the POPs. Standing just outside the tent near the starting line, we found Josh and then Sam - who had locked his keys in the car with all of his stuff! Luckily he was dressed and was wearing shoes, and fellow runner Mark lent a lifesaving water bottle. We were chatting away and snapping a few quick pics when we heard Jim give the countdown and "Go"! Oh, I guess we're starting!
About to Start - Photo by Mark
We were a little ways back in the pack, and hung there until we hit the trail and the incline started to increase, where we quickly moved our way up to our 'place' in the group. It's always fun to watch the natural order of everyone settling in and finding their spot among the throng of runners. There was a little weaving in and out, but it wasn't long before Leslie, Sam, Josh and I were our own little group cruising along. It was cool to look down and see a long line of headlamps making their way up the hill. Had I paid a little more attention, I likely could have seen MattVH's light making its way around the knoll from the north and towards the finish line.
We hit Lone Tree hill and walked for the first time, at a brisk hike. We hit the top of the hill and blew straight through without stopping. They were directing people to do the out and back first, but we decided to continue on and do it second, missing a lot of the congestion. As we dropped down into the valley, we were the only ones in sight as the sun was starting to light the sky. Ran fairly easy and comfortable to the bottom of the valley and then up the switchbacks. Gotta love those switchbacks. As we neared the top of them, Josh and I started to put a small gap on Leslie and Sam, but they continued to stick close behind. 
Back at Elephant head, we made a left hand turn, again without stopping, and headed out to the point. Another fun section, and we passed a good number of people that were on their way back from hitting the point before doing the loop we had just done. We stopped very briefly at the point, and then headed right on back. Again, Leslie and Sam weren't far behind, so we gave them a hearty hello and kept on going. The sun was now out, and we were really enjoying ourselves, but I think Josh and I were both starting to feel a little tired, especially (for me) right after one of the (really) short climbs. I ate a little more and then took a minute to stretch while Josh was filling his bottle at the aid. We got right back on the trail and cruised down Lone Tree hill and across the valley. 
Just as we started hiking out, the front runners for the 50K came cruising down the hill. We said hello to a couple friends and made the split after running by about 10-15 of the 50k runners. The more I run this trail the more I enjoy this last section of the loop. Weaving in and out with a very gradual climb as you skirt the mountain, until it brings into view of the start/finish area, where you meet back up with the trail you started on and rocket your way down the hill. As we were running down we could see the wall of 25K racers start. We wanted to be done with this loop before they started, but it wasn't too much trouble to run off trail as they were running up (most are too excited about starting their race to notice that there are people coming down).
Finishing the 19 mile loop just as the 25K runners are heading out
I was happy to see my dad and brother in law waiting at the fence to say hello, and I grabbed my drop bag from the aid station and handed it to them, only taking out a bottle and drinking some CocoGo before handing it off. Was happy to see Craig, Kelli and Jen there at the start/finish, and talked to them for a minute, but only after we hit up the POPs.

Me looking for Josh to get out of the POP, Kelli, Craig, and Jen looking on for Leslie
I could see my wife pulling into the parking lot, and I waved, but she was looking for a spot to park and didn't see me. Back on the road we walked up the hill for a minute, I ate a few bites of tortilla and nutella and then we were running down the steep hill to the Mountain View Trail. Josh cruised down fast in front of me, and I started to feel my energy drop a little. As we headed north on the out and back, I took a squeeze of EFS and the dreaded stomach turn hit me. Rolling stomach, couple of dry didn't want this to be happening so soon. Josh had put a nice little gap on me, and I could see my wife, dad and brother cheering from the turn around. As I got close, Josh was now heading back and he said something like "Run Faster" as we passed. I hit the turnaround and said hello to my family without stopping and then followed Joshs advice and tracked him down. What I found was that my stomach soon felt fine and I was able to run well again...hmmm...

"Run Faster"
Me almost to the turnaround (L), Josh heading back (R)
Once I caught up to Josh we passed Sam coming towards us, he mentioned that he had a bit of a low spot, but looked to be moving well. He didn't say anything about Leslie, which had us wondering and spending the next several minutes as we were stopped at the aid station, looking up the hill hoping to see her running down. With no such luck we continued on, discussing the fact that we certainly weren't going to be hitting any aggressive goals today, so we'd just plan on running together for the day and have a good time.       
A couple of miles later I knew that it was time for a little refuel - well, here goes nothing. Pounded a little more EFS, with the same close-to-puke inducing results. Josh moved on ahead, since I'm sure he didn't need or want to hear me going through the motions. Again, a minute later my stomach would turn and I'd be back to feeling good and would catch back up. Weird, but I can take it. About a mile out from Lower Frary, I saw a familiar figure running towards us in the distance. It was Scott with his pacer Rob and about 10 miles to go on his 100. We stopped and gave him a congratulatory hug and chatted for a minute before sending him on his way. Once at Frary we both needed to empty our shoes and change jackets - it was getting warm! We had hoped there was a POP at Frary (turns out there was, we just hadn't seen it!) and it wasn't too long before Josh took advantage of some rare sagebrush cover. I just marched along until he caught up to me just before the last road crossing before getting to the ranch. We continued to clip along and I began to feel really hungry. 

Heading into Lower Frary

About that time we saw two familiar faces approaching - Kelli, who was running to meet her husband Scott, and Jen, who was to be pacing Leslie. When we stopped to say hello, they gave us the bad news of Leslies DNF with a quad tear, which we were both very sad to hear. Jen then asked if she might be able to tag along with us. The more the merrier! Kelli went of in search of Scott and Jen ran the mile back to the ranch with us. 
Back at the ranch both Josh's and my crew were there ready and waiting, I quickly made use of the facilities and then took some time to throw glide on my feet and eat some food. I wore the socks I had been wearing all winter, and they were a little too rough and stiff for this ride, so I wanted to take a little extra precaution. Randomly, my next door neighbor from when I was growing up came over and said hello, he happened to be at the Ranch with a school group. Finally, I called over to Josh and we made our way off. My little crew was so helpful.
We walked for a bit to help the food settle, and then finally decided to kick things back into gear and start running. A mile or two later we crossed paths with Sam again, who was still trucking. I do enjoy out and backs in that you get to see everyone running the race and say hey. The way back from the ranch really seemed to go pretty smoothly, I was feeling pretty good, especially with the food I'd been able to eat, and now the EFS was going down without trouble too. Nice. Josh was still battling with some stomach problems, and would periodically pull off the trail and would catch right back up. At one point I planned on a nice long stop and Frary to wait for him to catch up, but when I turned around when we got there, he was pretty much right on our heels. The rest of mountain view really seemed to click by without incident. I can't say how much it helped to have Josh and Jen to run with on this section. Every other time I have been on this part of the trail I have been by myself, which always seems to be more of a mental battle. Jen and I were having some good conversation, dodging through some mud, when all of the sudden we were at the Mountainview aid. Once again, Josh was right behind, having caught up from a stop. 
Hesding back from the Ranch - table for 3!
After a brief stop and all of the flat running, it felt nice to hike up the hill and use some different muscles. Once at the top of the road we picked up a run again, but it wasn't long before Josh had to pull off into the bushes again. I really felt for what he was dealing with, it's no fun, especially on race day! Jen and I continued on to the pavement and then to the brief cross-country course towards the Bridger aid. Just before the aid, we came upon a big Bison grazing solo just off the trail. I mentioned to Jen that Kelli would probably pee her pants right here...Jen said she hadn't even noticed him there until I said something, she had been looking at my feet. The joys of pacing. Since he had his back to us, I decided to give him a little "Ole, Ole, Ole" shout out to let him know we were there. I think it probably made Jens heart jump a little. A quick stop at the aid for another Coke and we were off. We couldn't see Josh coming until we were a little ways off and then saw him running into the aid. I yelled to him to hurry it up and pushed on. 
Before the race I wasn't sure how much I would like this last, technical section of trail, but once I got there I absolutely loved it. Aside from one brief stop to stretch a cramped hammie (it wasn't used to bounding over rocks), I ran the whole time. I was getting hot again, I even ditched my jacket for this last part (thanks to Jen for getting it stashed for me while I was still running). I could smell the finish. I was able to keep the last 3 miles at a sub 10 min pace, and once the finish line came into sight (still about a mile out) I just tried to keep it going. I passed a lot of people through this part, many 100 milers and a couple from the 50. 
Now onto the dirt road it was a quick right turn and then a long, straight run down the road to the fence. At the last turn up to the finish, I merged with a 50K runner and gave him a "Lets get this done shout" and then powered on up the hill and to the finish. I was feeling really good and was even a little surprised with how much energy I had in my legs. Crossed the line in 9:16 to a hug from Craig - who'd been pretty much hanging out there greeting people in for the last 9 hours, AFTER finishing a killer sub 19 hour 100 that morning. Then a hug and a kiss from my wife and from my niece, who was there celebrating her 5th birthday - her dad (my brother) ran a 50K 'just for her birthday' (she was totally psyched about that)! Josh came in just minutes later looking good as ever. 

I felt really good about the race and the day I had. I felt like my energy levels were pretty consistent, I had the usual lulls, but no real bonks or rough spots. I was very lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing people. My wife, dad and brother, who followed us along nearly the entire mountainview trail. Josh for sticking with me the whole day really helped to keep me moving. Having an unexpected pacer to our team with Jen was awesome, she was so supportive and encouraging to both of us, and was just a pleasure to run with. Sam and Leslie for giving the day a good start and being with our group, and Leslie for having to make a really difficult decision to stop. Josh's family stuck right with us the entire race as well, which was great. So many other friends out sharing the trail (Jeremy, Kelli & Scott, Mark, Brent, Kristel, Davy etc...). 
Great day at the races with Scott, MattVH and Craig killing it in the 100, all with PRs. Craig was a stud sticking around all day and supporting everyone. My brother Aaron got it done with a 5:45 in his first 50K. Awesome! As always the race organizer and volunteers were top notch. 

I can't recommend this race enough. It was just what I needed as I now focus in on the Bryce 100 coming up in 2 months. 

Chillin' (in more ways than one) at the finish
L-R, Me, Craig, Josh, Jeremy
Pre-Race Breakfast:
3 egg omlet with Spinach, mushrooms & garlic (yum)
1 glass Odewalla Superfood juice
2 Amino Acid Tablets

Race food:
~30 oz water
14 Oz CocoGo - Grape
3 EFS flasks (~1200 cal) 2 berry, 1 vanilla

6 orange wedges
4 cans of Coke (~600 cal)
1 can Mountain Dew (~150 cal)
1 can Sprite (~150 cal)
1/4 chicken salad sandwich on croissant (mostly croissant)
2 bites of tortilla with nutella
1 tiny salted potato
1 dried mango slice
Bunch o' S-Caps

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Buffalo Run 100 Race Report - Craig

The Antelope Island Buffalo Run races are a very early season grouping of races (25k, 50k, 50mile, 100mile) that offer some amazing run on perfect trails in a very unique setting. Runners get the privilege (some wouldn’t call it that) of actually running with buffalo and antelope, all the while getting views of the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch mountain range. Jim Skaggs, the amazing race director hosts upwards of 800 runners between the four races, all starting at different times so that many of the races finish on Saturday afternoon, just in time for his home made buffalo or vegetarian chili. He does not offer finisher medals, but instead provides massive mugs with the race logo, name, and distance completed. Only the 100 milers get a buckle, of course.
Just before the start of the 100 mile race. I'm on the left.

The 100 mile race starts on Friday afternoon at noon. There were 90 competitors signed up, but with dodgy weather (snow flurries, temps in the upper 20s/low 30s, and high winds) Skaggs allowed people to drop down to a lower distance if they so decided. My estimation is that there may have been 10 or so who elected to do that. I had a pretty aggressive goal for myself and knew I’d have to have a perfect day to accomplish it. The weather was already putting that at risk. My spirits were high, however, and it was a pleasure to take off from the starting line with good friends Matt Van Horn, Robert Mueller, and Aaron Spurlock. Together we ran the entire first 19 mile loop together, taking turns leading and just chatting away back around to the start/finish. It was here that I had to take a potty break and the group broke up.
I caught back up to Aaron a couple of miles later. He was still feeling the effects of an earlier illness and my stomach had turned on me, so we both struggled along on the long 23 mile out and back section to the Ranch. Once at the turn around I continued on while Aaron slowed. I struggled onward to the Lower Frary aid station (mile 38) where I had some chicken broth and orange slices. Something clicked and I finally felt pretty good so I picked up the pace. Just before mile 42 I caught back up with Matt, who had slowed a little, and in tow we pushed up the hill to the road where we caught up with Robert again. Now in a pack of three we pushed hard to the 50 mile mark at the start/finish line, getting there in 7hrs 51min. I used the restroom for the third time while Matt quickly headed out for his second lap of the course. Robert called it a day there.

On my second lap I picked up pacer Jennilyn and she pushed me up the first big climb. We passed Matt about a quarter of the way up and quickly gapped him while he slowed to recover from that last push to the 50 mile mark. On the out and back to Elephant Head I started having diaphragm cramps, usually caused by too much caffeine and not enough real food. I tried to remedy it, but it just wasn’t going away. The next 10 miles went very slow and I was getting frustrated. Jennilyn was doing her best to keep my mind occupied, but it was everything I could do to not get down on myself. When we finished that loop back to the start/finish I felt it was time to finally change my socks. During this time Matt passed me again and would hold that lead for the next 30 miles to the finish.

Jennilyn continued to push me as best she could. My energy would gain and wane in waves that I felt like I had no control over. Normally, in 100 mile races I have no need to sit down at aid stations other than to fix gear, but the temperatures were so cold and the wind biting that I was taking advantage of the chairs to warm myself while I ate and recover, losing precious time in the process. I’m an advocate for always keeping on the move, but I just couldn’t manage it during this race.

Jennilyn was using every tactic in the book to try and keep my mind away from the disappointment I was vocally expressing in regards to not achieving my goal. She was sharing random stories, playing music on her phone, and at times just letting me run in quiet solitude. I later learned that she was having struggles of her own and I feel bad for contributing to that. I wanted nothing more than for her to have a fun and uplifting experience as she is going to be racing her first 100 miler in 9 weeks.  Unfortunately, I was in my own dark place and not my normal jovial self. Just prior to reaching the Ranch on the long out and back I came across Matt who was still holding a running pace. We hugged and I shared a few comments and he was off. I was close enough that had I felt better and drawn upon some type of competitive edge I’m certain I could have caught up to him. Instead, I got to the Ranch, sat down, and quietly sulked.

Leaving the Ranch for the 2nd time might be one of the more gratifying portions of the race because I knew I was on the home stretch to the finish, only 17 more miles to go. Once out running into the wind I would set small goals for myself and found that I was actually able to do more running on the way back from the Ranch than to it. Jennilyn was providing subtle, yet supportive compliments that reinforced my effort and it made a huge difference. Shortly before reaching the Lower Frary aid station, however, Jennilyn informed me that her knee had inflamed to the point that she would need to discontinue her pacing duties and call it a night. With only 12 miles to go I was confident I could finish on my own and I wished her the best as I left the aid station and finished the final 5 miles of the long out and back section.

Once off the out and back and up onto the paved road before dropping down to the Lakeview Trail I was doing my mental math to see if I could still go under 19 hours. I knew I’d have to push, but how fast I wasn’t sure. When I get well into an ultra the first cognitive process I lose is my ability to do any kind of math and it was failing in a big way. I skipped the last aid station and got onto the very technical trail leading around Buffalo Knoll. During the first 50 we averaged almost an 8 min/mile on this section, 97 miles in though and I was having to walk around all of the rocks. It wasn’t pretty. On the stretches of straight trail I was able to maintain a running pace, but now I was losing confidence that I had enough time to go sub-19. With a half mile left before hitting the road a light came towards and then called out my name. I knew immediately that it was Zac Marion, good friend who had supported me all night through the race. He had run backwards on the course to pace me the last couple of miles. He set some basic goals and drove me with great encouragement to press hard. Just before turning onto the last dirt road stretch he allowed me to stretch my legs for one minute and then we were off. We started off slow, but slowly picked up speed. I kept checking my watch to make sure I had the time and it started looking good, but we kept pressing the pace. Even up the last hill to the finish line we ran hard. I crossed the line in 19:58:00, good enough for 6th place and a 20 minute PR for me.

It was a battle I look back on with gratitude and it has given me great confidence for the rest of the year. I can’t say enough about my gear. I wore a single pair of Altra Lone Peaks the entire race and never felt any hot spots or got a blister. I also wore the Ultraspire Revolution race vest, likely the best racing vest on the planet. Thank you to Jim Skaggs who puts on one of the best races on the planet and to my pacers, Jennilyn and Zac who ultimately are the reason I finished as fast as I did. And finally, big props to all my friends and family who spent Friday and Saturday pouring their hearts and souls into their races to come out with successful finishes, PRs, and a new vision of their future. What a great weekend.
 Post race with friends

With my brother Brent (finished his first 50k), my mom and Deanna (both ran the 25k)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Get Turnt Up

by Craig

Mr Deshawn Raw is a youtube comedian and hosts his own channel that my son and I enjoy. His video of "Get Turnt Up" seems to be a relevant theme as our training comes to an end and we begin to look towards the Buffalo Run races with anticipation.

Like Deshawn and "Geraldo" our excitement might possibly exceed our planning and preparation. Unlikely, but plausible. It's with confidence I can tell you that everyone has been putting in the work; waking up early, running long, honing nutrition, dialing in gear, and getting 'turnt up' as all of our focus turns toward these races (some of us are doing the 100 while others are doing the 50 mile). There will be no easily recognizable 'blue bags' or forgetting to 'look under the couch' in the form of not running enough or being mentally unprepared to go the distance. But there have been a few last minute adjustments made just to make sure.

It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that while I was fully prepared to run 100 miles I wasn't necessarily ready to maintain a steady pace on flat ground. Antelope Island doesn't boast a significant amount of elevation gain and loss, even for the 100 mile race (about 7200 vertical gain). My training - and I can speak for the rest of the gang - has been better suited for a race like Wasatch or Hardrock. Therefore, in the last two weeks I've tailored my training to include flat trail and road running. I know that MVH and the other boys have put in a similar focus, with positive results. After a flat 20 miler this morning I feel as though my legs are actually now ready to run continuously on flat ground over a long period of time. I hope the same for my refuse2quit brothers.

Running a lot of flat miles on the Goodwater Rim Trail, Little Grand Canyon

I also have been toying with potential support gear. I know I'm going to run with a handheld water bottle, it's just what I like to race with, but it's carrying the other gear that has me concerned. Buffalo Run will go 'cupless' this year, meaning they won't provide paper cups for fluids at aid stations. Instead, each runner must provide their own. Luckily, Ultraspire makes a great running cup that is made from plastic and it rolls or folds up. But you still have to carry it and I wasn't sure how I wanted to do that. Yesterday I settled on purchasing the Ultraspire Spry, a race specific vest that offers pockets on the front and a rear stow on the back, but no hydration reservoir. I can carry a bottle in the front pocket if needed, however. I tested it on my 20 miler this morning and was very pleased with the lightness and ability to carry what I need. Problem solved.

MVH has been honing his hydration and nutrition for this race. In several test runs and a recent 55k he has determined that he can run at least the front half of the 100 miler on gels and electrolyte drinks/water. While it is something I can't do (I need real food early in a race), I'm sure he has it dialed in and it will likely allow him to move more efficiently.

Josh has come out of the woodwork to do a few training runs with us. He whined that he's been pounding the pavement and doesn't feel ready for the 50 miler, but I disagree. I think those road miles will make him more than ready to run the flat Mountain View trail out and back. The hills on the west side of the island are low-key enough that I doubt he'll have any trouble cruising up them.

So what are we missing? Like DeShawn, will we forget our mask; that critical piece of gear (like a headlamp) that is so integral to being successful in an ultra-marathon or will we come readily prepared to storm in and ransack the island, walking away with the loot - mugs and belt buckles in this case? I'm confident that in just over two weeks everyone is going to kill it out there. As for me, I'm going to be spending the time before race-day getting 'Turnt Up"!!!