Sunday, April 14, 2013

A View From the Shoreline: BoSho Trail Marathon 2013 by MVH

Last week I decided to run the Bonneville Shoreline Trail Marathon (BoSho) after a prompting from a friend. She sent me a text and then emailed the course map as if I was already committed. With no excuse not to go for it, I prepared my mind and hoped my body would follow.

BoSho is a 'bandit' race held mid-April every year on the foothill trails above Salt Lake City.  There are no sponsors, permits, advertising blitzes, or website signups. It is, however, well-organized and the course was well marked. The distance is a full marathon, and that is the easy part. There is over 6,000 feet of uphill over the course of 26+ miles. A couple of big climbs make up significant portions of the climbing.

I showed up to the designated start/finish area about 30 minutes before the second group of runners were to go at 7AM. While in the drivers seat I yanked my shorts down to apply glide. Just at that moment an SUV pulled into the parking space a couple feet to my left. SUVs are higher than sedans and the view into my vehicle must have been spectacular. Of course, it had to be a woman in the SUV passenger seat. Gotta glide. We all understand, right?

As 7AM approached, a good-sized group of runners gathered on the double track in front of the runner's buffet table. I saw a lot of familiar faces, and as usual, I said hello to Kendall W. up at the front. He told me he was going to do the first 4 mile loop without water. I looked at my two hand-held bottles and said, "Yeah, what do I need these for?" I set them down on a tuft of grass. A minute later someone said go and we began the run. Ben Lewis was there, as was Robert Mueller, and we ran closely with several other guys the first 4 miles through Red Butte and back to the start area. I recall it was about 36 minutes to finish the Red Butte loop, which had a bunch of climbing.

I grabbed my bottles and continued down to the Dry Creek trailhead. The group of six guys in the lead slipped away from me as we climbed the trail up into the foothills. My legs felt heavy, I was already tired and feeling the effects of...I don't know. Something was "off" and I knew it. But I continued on. At the U-turn up Dry Creek I was glad to see the red ribbons indicating the turn off trail to follow the creek. Water was flowing and I slowed to avoid getting my feet wet. I hate having wet shoes. This was the first big climb of the day, up something called Unkle. Really enjoyed seeing this side of the foothills near Twin Peaks. At the top the route converges with the ridge between the Twins and little Black Mountain. A run down to the 5-way trail junction, then a sharp right down toward City Creek led me through a new-to-me trail. I was loving this.

Running about 5 minutes behind the front guys, I was overtaken by a couple more runners, heading down to Morris Meadow and the one aid station. A volunteer refilled one of my bottles. Mark Robbins was there and said hello. He had started with the earlier group. I continued down to City Creek trailhead. As I started up the North side of CC I detected cigarette smoke coming from somewhere very close. Alone now, with no other runners in view either ahead or behind, I ran pretty well up the switchbacks and up to where the trail climbs above the expensive custom homes in City Creek. This is the second big climb of the day. I was able to run virtually all uphill to the radio tower. Since I am not so strong at downhill, at least on this day, I could make good progress in keeping a solid climbing pace. At the radio tower the course descends several hundred feet into North Salt Lake. To the left and steeply downhill lay the battered ruins of Le Car. I grabbed a stone and made a weak attempt at contact. Not even close.

The third big climb of the day, and arguably the biggest one of the entire course, is the hike up to Meridian Peak. I felt very good going up, and ran half of it, passing several others. From the top is a generally level run over to the point where we make the big, steep descent back down to City Creek.  If I was a faster downhiller I could have made up some lost time but at this point my feet were aching. Near the bottom I saw Andrea Martinez a few hundred feet ahead of me. She had started with the 6 AM group. When I caught up, and before she knew I was behind her, I did my worst David Lee Roth impression. "Aww might as well jump!" She did, in fact, jump. Never sneak up on a woman on the trail.

At the City Creek trailhead I again smelled cigarette smoke, then I remembered that just a few days before I found a hobo camp hidden in the trees just off that same place in the trail. Must be a chain smoker in there.

As I began the climb back out of City Creek, and to finish the last 6 miles, Nick Sourlos (whose name I had read several times in various places) caught up and introduced himself. With some kind words he continued on and eventually disappeared from view about 3 miles from the finish. The last 5 miles were tough. Still feeling "off" but confident of finishing, I kept moving at the best pace possible for having achy legs and feet. I ran the uphill back to 5-way junction, then settled into a slow-but-steady pace along the shoreline trail to dry Creek saddle. A couple of strong closers passed me there, then a woman and her male companion cruised by me in the descent of Dry Creek. I almost forgot - There is one more short but steep climb half mile from the finish. I had about 5 minutes to clear this hill and the distance to finish if I wanted to get there in 4 hours 30 minutes. I still had some uphill running power so I went for it. Alas, I pulled in at 4 hours 32 minutes and 50 seconds. My parents were there wearing big smiles. A lot of other runners came in soon after and we congratulated each other on a good run, good weather (cool, but with virtually no rain), and excellent trails.

Thanks to the organizers, volunteers and runners who make BoSho a pleasant experience. The course was pleasantly well-marked. I will be back next year.

Monday, April 8, 2013

2013 Buffalo Run 50 Report - Jsh

I’m never particularly fast at putting race reports together, but I’ve waited entirely too long to formulate some words for this one.  Mostly because of distractions that life brings, but also because it’s taken me some time to digest how things went.  I ended up finishing in 9:23:40.  My goal going in was 8:30 and I knew with a good day I could go 8 flat.  Obviously that didn’t happen, but I came away with some great memories and a few lessons as well.  Rather than give the usual play-by-play, I’m just going to talk about the things I came away with.

First of all, your stomach can wreak havoc on your race.  I don’t think I did anything particularly wrong as far as nutrition in the 24 hours leading up to the race.  However, the months leading up to the race weren’t exactly filled with ideal nutritional habits.  I alluded to this in an earlier post and while I did make improvements leading up to the race, I didn’t fully commit myself like I should have.  Alas, I ended up taking a ton of pit stops which cost me major time.

Heading into mile 19 A.S.

Due to the nature of my stomach, I ended up giving up mentally on my goals and spent way too much time at the aid stations.  I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to have an enjoyable time and chat at aid stations for a bit, but I’d say it was quite excessive for me.  I totally lost my focus and made excuses to spend more time than I should have.

I knew going into the race that my training wasn’t quite where it should be.  I peaked at about 40 mile weeks with a 22 miler being my long run.  However, I knew that with my experience I wouldn’t have trouble completing the distance.  The problem came on the first 19 mile loop when things just felt harder than they should have.  Typically that early on I feel loose and things just fly by easily.  It just wasn’t happening.  I must say though, my legs never felt sore during the race which was fantastic!  I just didn’t have quite the usual bounce in my step early on which I attribute to my lower mileage weeks.

With Matt and Jen on the back half of the course

The great thing about each of these things is that they can be fixed.  They’re valuable lessons that will hopefully make me a better runner.  It will just take a little more commitment on my part.

All things aside, I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything!  After running that first loop in its entirety with Matt Williams – and partially with Leslie and Sam – I found that running a race with good friends is so much fun.  Matt and I actually ended up running about 45 miles in total together.  I would’ve loved to have finished together, but my constant pit stops were holding him back so I eventually told him to leave me for good.  He went on to a great finish.  Had it not been for my stomach we may not have had the opportunity to spend so many miles together.  For that I’m grateful.

Rounding the corner into the finish

My dad froze his butt off all night at the Elephant Head aid station to help runners, provided power for the race with Goal Zero products, and crewed for me all day on no sleep.  What a stud!  My mom was awesome as usual, cheering at each spot and taking lots of pictures (which I still need to get from her).  Thanks so much to both of them.  Also a thanks to the great volunteers on the island.  They were excellent as usual.  Finally a thanks to my friends for the motivation.  You guys all inspire me!  Congrats on the great finishes.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Antelope Island Buffalo 100: By Scott Wesemann

What a ride! I was very excited to run this race and I have been looking forward to it ever since I paced MattVH on it last year. Even though the course is easier than Wasatch 100 it is still 100 miles and I fully respect the distance, so I knew it was going to be a huge task to finish and would take a lot of things going right for me to finish in under 23 hours which was my goal time going in.

Craig and I drove to the start together and we decided to stop and get some breakfast on the way to the island and my goal was to get as many calories as possible to help sustain me during the day and into the night. I ordered a large orange juice and didn't even think that I never drink OJ before a race or a long run and I think that would come back to haunt me later in the day. I never do anything new on race day that I haven't been doing in my training and I'm still not sure what I was thinking.

We had been watching the weather reports for race day for the past several days and as the race approached the forecast got worse each day. We were driving out to the island in a snow storm and it really wasn't helping us build any pre-race stoke. As we approached the island it was clear that it wasn't snowing, so that was good, but we noticed that the wind was blowing pretty hard and that was by far my biggest concern. We parked and started to get ready for the day and it was windy and very cold, so both of us decided to change our race day apparel and I put on my tights and a light windstopper top along with a hat, long sleeve shirt and gloves. It was very hard to predict what the weather would do, so I made my best guess and went with it.

With Craig before the start
We met up with MattVH and some other friends and just hung out at the start line for what seemed like several minutes until the start. I was cold and happy to start running. For the first several miles I ran with Kristel Liddle (the women's winner) who is a good friend. I really liked the pace and we ran every step of the first long hill just chatting away about our running plans for the year and I was feeling great until about mile 3 when all of the sudden if felt like an F-16 was about to take off in my gut and I could tell that something was very wrong (curse you OJ!). I rarely have stomach issues when I run and the OJ is the only thing I can think of that caused it and I was just hoping it would pass quick. It didn't. A positive note is that the wind seemed calmer and it wasn't as cold as we hit Lone Tree hill. We passed the first aid station at Elephant Head and ran right through continuing on to the out and back passing Craig about half way there while he was on his way back. At the turnaround we had to take a sticker to prove that we had been there and I picked a Justin Bieber sticker because my 12 year old daughter is a huge fan... and maybe secretly so am I. Come on Justin get me through!

On the way back to Elephant Head aid my stomach was in knots and Kristel dropped me. I caught back up at the aid station (mile 9), but she stopped briefly and I had to stop to remove my windstopper top because I was getting hot. I hoped to catch back up, but I never did. My stomach was in knots as I ran down into the Split Rock valley and if there had been any cover at all I would have stopped for a bathroom break, but there really wasn't anywhere to go, but right off the trail. All of the sudden Davy Crockett flies by at what looked like a 6:00 mm pace and he seemed to be enjoying himself. Awesome. I eventually caught up to him as we approached the switchbacks and we both ran every step up to the top and then ran together for a few minutes before my stomach finally wasn't going to be denied and I barely made it off the trail behind the slight cover of a rock. It felt like a Mack truck was plowing through my innards and I was just relieved that only two other runners witnessed the carnage. The joys of ultra running.

After my pit stop I felt slightly better although the bad stomach would haunt me for the next 30 miles and cause me to stop a few more times. I'll spare the additional horrific details. I reached the Elephant Head aid at mile 13 feeling ok and I stopped quick to grab a gel and then I ran the 6 miles back to the start/finish by myself for the most part. The wind picked back up on the way back and blasted me hard for about a mile and a half. I was starting to wonder how much of that I could take and hoping that it would settle down and give us some reprieve. As I came around the bend and the start/finish aid station came into view the sun came out and the wind settled and I actually started to warm up, so I decided to change into shorts when I hit the aid. I came in at 3:20 (mile 19) and ended up staying far too long in there messing with my clothes and gear for about 15 minutes. When I finally got out of the tent it was cold, but I warmed up in a few minutes after I started running again.

There was still a steady wind, but the sun was out and helped to keep me from getting cold as I made my way down to the Mountain View trail where we run a long 12 mile out and 12 back to the ranch along the eastern shore of the island. I was feeling pretty good at this point and got into a really good groove/pace as my stomach finally started to settle and I had the wind at my back. At the Lower Frary aid I stopped to eat some salted potatoes, grab some more gels and then I had a solid run out to the ranch. I passed Craig, MattVH, Kristel, Crockett and others on their way back from the turnaround and they all looked really good. I took a few minutes at the ranch (mile 34) to eat some cookies, more potatoes, half a Mountain Dew and I was feeling really good until I started running back into the wind. The sun started to fade behind Frary Peak and the wind seemed to get stronger as I ran north and it became much harder to keep up a solid pace. Over the next 5 miles the wind punished me relentlessly and started sucking my drive to run fast. I got cold and it became very difficult to sustain any sort of decent pace. On top of that my left knee was now hurting which is odd because I haven't had any knee pain in over 2 years. Low point.

When I arrived at the Lower Frary aid (mile 38.7) my first pacer Nate was there waiting for me to come in. I wouldn't pick him up until mile 50, but he wanted to see how I was doing and it was good to see him. I was cold and decided to change my clothes again, but I was getting stiff and my hands were cold, making it much harder to change. By time I got into my warmer gear I was shivering and couldn't even tie my shoes because my hands were numb. Sarah McCloskey was there and I can't thank her enough for taking care of me. She was grabbing me things I needed and helping me get squared away and then she suggested that I get into the tent to warm up because I was shivering uncontrollably now. There was another guy there too that told me I had to get in there, so I went in the tent and sat by the heater. They put a blanket on me and grabbed me some hot soup. I didn't want to take the break, but I had to get my core temperature back up. I was in there for about 10 minutes and then I felt better and told them I needed to get back out and start running again. That was a 20-25 minute stop that really hurt my time and as I left I picked up my headlamp because I knew it would be dark by time I hit the Mountain View aid station.

The run back to the Mountain View aid station was tough. There was a strong headwind the entire way and the 5 miles seemed like 15 and now my right knee was bothering me too and both knees were sore until the finish. I finally made it and both of my pacers, Nate and Rob were waiting there for me. I grabbed two cookies, some mountain Dew and a few gels and then they walked with me to the top of the hill. It was still breezy and cold, but nowhere near as bad as down by the shore of the lake. At the top of the hill the guys went back down and I got back into a running pace and made my way over to the Lakeside aid station. It was now dark and as I approached it the wind really picked up and there was an incredible amount of smoke in the air from all of the camp fires at the campground. It was making me gag and it also started snowing sideways. I didn't stay long at the aid and I started feeling pretty good as I made my way around Buffalo Point, but the wind was really strong here and again I was chilled. I thought for sure that the wind would be at my back as I went around the point, but as soon as I rounded the point I was blasted by another stiff headwind? Headwind you Eff%$#! Unbelievable.

Some really good music and motivation to pick up my pacers got me back to the start/finish in 10:10 which is actually a 50 mile PR for me, but would have been much faster without all of the stops. I was happy to see my friends and I took longer than I should have in the tent drinking broth and eating and I finally knew I had to get out of there, so I stood up and told Nate we needed to move. Nate was great company over the next 19 miles. We hiked most of the steeper hills and ran everything else, but I was slowing down. We ran into MattVH and he didn't notice it was me because he was in a 'groove', but he finally did and we chatted for a few minutes and it was great to see him moving well. When we came to the Elephant Head aid station it was again cold and windy and it was nice to get some broth and eat more cookies and potatoes. Bart Greenwell and another guy I know Jason were running the aid and they did a fantastic job up there in those conditions. I actually felt worse for them than I did for myself because they couldn't really move around to stay warm. It was awesome hitting that aid 3 times in 13 miles and definitely helped to get me through that section. Thanks guys, you were incredible.

As we made our way into the Split Rock Valley we could see some massive storms moving across the lake and I was terrified that they would nail us, but they all seemed to be going just south of the island. Those storms dumped about 4-8 inches of snow into some of the nearby valleys and would have been a disaster if they had hit us. It was a pretty surreal feeling though as we only saw a few other headlamps within several miles of us. After our final stop at the Elephant aid we got into a running pace all the way back to the start/finish. We weren't fast, but we kept moving and finally made it back to the tent where Rob was waiting for me to pace the final 31 miles. I went into the tent for about 10 minutes to eat and warm up and then Nate decided to run down to the Mountain View trail with us because he wasn't tired. Other than my aching knees my legs were feeling good and I had plenty of energy, but the next 31 miles would be the most challenging of the day as the temperature dropped into the teens and the winds picked back up.

Down on the Mountain View trail my friend Mark was running the aid station and we had a few laughs with him before doing the mile out and back to the causeway turnaround. When we got back to the aid station Mark told us that MattVH had just gone through looking good. We didn't stay there long and within about 5 minutes we ran into Craig who was now running by himself because his pacer, Jennilyn had to drop because of knee issues. It was awesome to see him and definitely lifted my spirits, but I could tell that he was having issues and not feeling great. We talked for a few minutes, wished each other luck and went our separate ways. It was a total slog to the Lower Frary aid stop and both of us were quite cold. Rob would insist that I run whenever I got started walking too much. He was very good at keeping me going and trotting along. When we reached the aid I was now extremely cold and we took about 10 minutes to sit next to the heater to try and warm up. It took everything I had to pull myself away from that heater knowing we had 6 more brutally cold miles to the ranch, but I knew I had to get moving, so we got up and got out of there.

The 6 miles to the ranch were very hard. It was cold and breezy and my knees were really aching, making every running step painful. Rob told me several stories and we had a lot of laughs that kept my mind off of the suffering. These are the moments that I truly love about ultra-running. Here we were in miserable conditions with a lot of miles on our legs, and pretty uncomfortable in almost every way, but we were laughing our asses off. Okay, maybe the laughing only lasted a few seconds here and there, but I still loved every second of those jokes and stories. The sun finally came up and gave us a little relief, but it was still pretty darn cold out there. Finally we hit the ranch and we stopped for at least 10 minutes to get some much needed calories. I think I ate 4-5 quesadillas and had some Mountain Dew and I could feel the energy coming back almost instantly. Even though I felt like taking a nap we pulled ourselves out the chairs and got back on the trail. Rob would continue to get me to run and after about a mile we passed the first runner that was behind me. So far only 3 runners had passed me since the 50 mile mark and none since mile 70 and I didn't want anyone else passing me the rest of the way, so I tried to keep the pace going. About a mile from the Frary aid we also passed the first 50 mile runner and would continually pass them the rest of the way on the Mountain View trail. We were now running back into the wind again and although it wasn't as bad as it had been earlier it still wasn't awesome.

Me at mile 94
Back at Lower Frary we stopped for another break to eat waffles. Seth Hales and Jeremy Suwinsky were there helping us and giving me encouragement. We finally got back on the trail and just after the trail crosses the road we ran into MattW and Josh both looking strong and we stopped to chat with them for a few minutes and again seeing my friends boosted my spirits. The next several miles were just hard. By then everything hurt and I was so tired of running into the wind. The wind became so irritating that I think I shouted every verbal curse I could think of in several creative ways over and over for several minutes. It was maddening.

After what seemed like hours from the last aid (it probably was) we finally finished the Mountain View trail and at that point I knew I had this one in the bag. I fully respect 100 miles and there is never a guarantee of a finish at this distance, but at that point I was pretty sure I would finish, so now I just wanted to get it done.

We made our way over to the Lakeside aid and as we hit the pavement at the top of the hill I saw my Wife's Honda Pilot driving toward me and it gave me such a boost of energy as my kids all jumped out and ran over to hug me. They were all cheering me on and it really was a boost. They watched as we made our way back onto the trail and then down toward the Lakeside aid. When we hit the aid I told Rob to grab me a few gels because I didn't want to stop, so I kept going and just as I got back onto the trail I heard my kids yelling at me to "Run faster" and "We love you". It was a high point.

Rob cracked the whip on me as we made our way around Buffalo point. It seemed so weird that the night before I was in the same place and that I had made it back. It seemed like several days had passed. We saw someone coming from behind and at first I thought it was one of the hundred milers, but he was moving way too fast. From that point to the finish 4 of the 50 mile runners passed me and all of them looked so fresh. Rob and I got into a very solid running pace and pushed it into the finish. I was still a bit worried that someone was going to pass me, but I found out later that the nearest person was about an 45 min back. I was pretty happy that I had gone 30 miles without anyone passing me, but I was kind of cranky that my 23 hour goal was now out of reach.

Crossing the finish in 25:25
That last half mile was tough, but the adrenaline kicked in and my family was waiting form me with signs and I almost broke down and then Craig was there at the finish to cheer me in I kind of lost it. I had to battle several demons out there and it wasn't pretty, but I never even thought about a DNF and I was so happy to get it done. In some ways this was every bit as hard as Wasatch 100. The endless wind and cold that battered us relentlessly were both things I didn't plan on, but had to overcome and in the end made this a very tough 100 miles. I was definitely hoping for a sub 23 hour finish, but it just wasn't in the cards this year, but I am definitely happy for the finish. I think there were 80ish starters and only 54 finished, so I know this race was much harder than it normally would be because of the cold and wind.

All smiles after I got the buckle.
I was very happy to hear that MattVH and Craig both went sub 19 hours, which is pretty remarkable and Kristel took first for the women going sub 21. Pretty awesome. Congrats to you guys. I also have to mention that I wore a single pair of Altra Lone Peak trail shoes for the entire 100 miles. I never changed my shoes or socks and didn't get a single blister or hot spot. The Altra's were simply amazing and this will be the first 100 miler that I will keep all of my toenails.