Monday, May 20, 2013

Grandeur Fun Run


I awoke and saw rain and wet streets. I was out. What else to do that day? Probably nothing more than go back to sleep, then grumble about missing the Grandeur run. Later I would look at the photos of friends who did get up and run up a mountain in the rain. I would regret not going. Pulled on my favorite shorts, grabbed a couple long-sleeve shirts and drove myself to SLC. Don't know why, but legs don't get cold, so that is all I would need to wear as I would be hiking/running over 3,000 feet up the West side of Mount Grandeur. Parked at the school 3/4 mile from the trailhead and when I saw all the other folks there I knew I made the right decision. This was going to be fun.

Said hello to familiar faces at the traihead. Everyone in a good mood. Could not see the upper half of the mountain covered in cloud. We would be going up there. I had been up there dozens of times. This time was going to be my fastest time up by several minutes. I was sure of it. Eric said "One minute" and runners gathered near the sign. I was fiddling with shirts when he said go. Just ran up the trail like I had done many times before, but never with so many people. Breathing heavily already. That is normal for me. Then I warm up and breathing gets managed. The trail is steep, no exaggeration. I just wanted to keep a steady, aggressive pace. I think I did that. I wanted to run the enitre 9.6 miles in under 2 hours. If I could get to the summit in 50 minutes or less I could bank some time for the remaining miles. I passed a few runners on the climb, then was passed by one. For all of the upper half of the mountain I played leap-frog with another guy, a very strong hiker. Wish I would have got his name when I chatted with him at the finish. I wasn't racing against him, I was racing the clock. I wanted that 50 minutes or less. Near the top I broke into a run, seeing that a sub-50 was within reach. Not to be this time, I crossed the summit, according to my watch, at 50 minutes 25 seconds.

There was no sight-seeing because there was nothing to see up there. It was white-out and atmospheric. I looked down a half-dozen times and could see nobody below me. I brought no water and no gels. This was planned. I can do the entire run without those things. At the summit I wish I had brought exactly those things. I was a little wobbly from the aggresive climb. On the back side of the mountain, I stabilized and just ran and  the fun began. The rain party was on the East side of the mountain. Down I ran and the rain fell and I loved every moment. This was just like childhood in Bellingham. I knew this feeling. The only thing missing were banana slugs, wet ferns, and mossy trees. Church Fork was an excellent stand-in for Washington state. I ran entirely alone from the summit down to Church Fork/Pipeline junction. Thank goodness there was a table set up with cold drinks, and a couple volunteers there. I stopped for a minute and downed a Coke, then some water. Meanwhile, two runners rolled through and disappeared down trail. I got back onto it feeling terrific. I really love running the pipeline trail now. It is flat and fast. Much better than running road. Twice I had to stop and tie shoelaces, but I made good time to the Bambi Hill turnoff. Seriously slippery up the hill. Without trees and small bushes to pull on, the hill would be near impossible to mount. Nick S. appeared behind me. We chatted most of the way up, then ran down the single track. Again I had to stop and re-tie a lace, and had to let him go. Another runner showed up behind me, and I stepped aside. He was incredibly quick on that tecnical downhill and disapeared in seconds. The trail was slippery but I managed to stay upright the entire run. I did see the low-hanging branch and ducked under. Other runners had slammed into it, drawing blood. The route followed a slightly different trail than what I had expected, but I enjoyed this variation. A look at the watch and I knew I had sub-2 hours. Back onto the shoreline trail that runs the foot of the mountain I kept a steady quick pace to the finish. I really could smell food down there.

I came in at 1 hour 57 minutes and 30 seconds. That was fun. Craig came in a few minutes later, getting his sub-2 hours. Scott came in about 2 hours 22 minutes; then Matt at 2:29. Everyone did very well. I don't think the rain and mud slowed anyone. Maybe up Bambi Hill but the course record was demolished by 6 or 7 minutes.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Grandeur Peak Fun Run

by Craig

It's now the end of a very hard training cycle where not only I, but several of the refuse2quit team have peaked at our highest mileage and vert ever. Going into Saturday's Grandeur Peak Fun Run I think we were all ready to be done and rest up for the next couple of weeks prior to the Bryce 100.

The Grandeur Peak Fun Run is a local fatass event hosted by the MRC boys. It is now in it's 7th or so year and every year just seems to get better. For donations only they host one of the best events around. The course races 3200 vertical feet up with the west ridge to the summit of Grandeur Peak in only 2.3 miles. Runners then fly down the Church Fork trail until it meets up with the Pipeline, at which point they run a couple of miles to Rattlesnake Gulch, then up and over Bambi Hill, down the steep gully and around on well-traveled trails back to the start/finish where pancakes, bacon, eggs, donuts, hot chocolate, juice, and soda await finishers. Seriously, for donations only? It was well worth the $10 I gave. For a 10 mile race it is wicked hard, but every step is beautiful and fun.

I'll write on my own race, but I have the feeling that everyone else would have a similar report. I came into this race really tired, like dog tired. All I wanted was for it to be over so that I could focus on my taper, which I've decided is to basically do nothing. Ha. Matt and I drove to the start where were met up with the rest of the crew and tons of Wasatch Mountain Wranglers. Under threat of heavy rain we lingered while Erik Storheim counted down to a very uneventful start (just how a good trail race should be). MVH went out steady, but from may vantage point behind him he didn't appear to go out too hard. I went as fast as I thought my legs and lungs could handle it. Scott wasn't far behind me and Matt behind him.

When we hit the ridge the pack started to spread out a little within the first quarter of a mile. I got past by the three front women and a couple of guys and was sitting about 20 in back of the leader who was moving up the ridge like it was flat ground (Jason Dorais who would go onto smash the course record in 1:37:00). My calves felt like they were cement blocks and I hoped that they would loosen up the higher I got. I've recently started testing Mighty Might, a new dietary supplement meant to mimic the effects of high altitude training. As I moved further up the mountain my legs loosed up a little, but still felt heavy and I had to work hard to keep them progressing at a reasonable speed. My lungs, however, felt stronger and more open the farther I went. It was incredible. Not that Grandeur Peak is a tall mountain (something like 8200 ft), but I shouldn't have felt that good. About 3/4 of the way up we were engulfed in clouds and it got kind of eerie, but really cool. It still hadn't started raining and I was really starting to enjoy myself. I was also passing a few people and even came close to catching up with the three front women who were moving fast. I hit the summit in 56:40, my fastest ascent ever and started down Church Fork.

I was right behind a guy who took a quick wrong turn before I got him back on the trail. But it allowed me to pass, at which point I started into my "Oh S@$T, this is going to hurt" speed. It had now started raining, but the trail wasn't muddy, so I just let it open up. I passed another guy, then caught the lead women who let me pass. They made a comment about catching back up, which I full expected to happen once I hit the flat Pipeline trail. Going down Church Fork I passed another two people and then turned onto the Pipeline trail where the three last weeks of peak training all settled into my legs at the same time. It was all I could do to keep moving. And now it was absolutely pouring rain. I expected someone to pass me at any moment, but no one ever did.

I figured that Bambi Hill would be an absolute mudfest and it didn't disappoint. If you didn't grab trees to help you up you'd never have made it. I again felt like I'd get passed, but not only did that not happen, I actually caught up to the person in front of me. I passed him going down the very steep gully after, then passed another racer on the traverse trails, which were also super muddy. My legs were fried, but when I hit the finishing fire road I opened things up and dropped to a 6:30 pace. I knew if I could keep it together I had a shot of going under 2 hours. I raced down the finishing hill to the bottom in a final time of 1:59:24, my fastest loop time ever by more than a half hour. The first place woman came in about 2 min after me, and then people started to trickle in every minute or two after that.

MVH ran a wicked fast 50 min flat to the summit and a final time of 1:57:30ish.
Scott was next in after me around 1:22:30.
Then Matt after Scott around 1:29:00 (I think).
The rest of the Wasatch Mountain Wrangler crew came through before and after all of us at different times. It was awesome to finally meet people that I've only talked to online. Dan and Nick, it was a pleasure. It was also awesome having other great friends there too: Andrea, Mark, Erik, Jennilyn (didn't run but took lots of photos at the finish), and others. What an amazing morning and a great way to end my training. Now, all focus is on Bryce in less than two weeks.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Where are the Words?

by Craig

There has been a lack of words lately. I've felt, in a great way, that those deep thoughts and insights about running and life have been void within me for some time. I still don't feel them there and as I write this I feel as though I'm plodding along, much like I did at my last race, the Buffalo Run 100. Like then, I know that the motivation and words are inside of me, but I can't find the depth to draw them out and express them on paper.

My personal focus, my thoughts, and actions have been pulled in three directions so greatly as of late that I don't feel like I contain any extra room for creativity. My wife and I and our children have very busy lives. We both work full time and our four children require the attention they deserve. These two aspects of a person's life would often be enough to not even try to add in something else. But both Emily and I need personal growth; both physically, mentally, and spiritually. And oddly enough, we both find that we get a great deal of all three through running. With our crazy schedule the ability to add in running can be a source of conflict between us, finding ways to both go without sacrificing other mandatory parts of our lives. But we do it.

While Emily is currently in upkeep mode for her running I'm trying to cap off a peak training sequence before tapering for my next race, the Bryce 100 miler on May 31st. Over the last two weeks I've peaked at the highest mileage for training than ever before, averaging 75 miles/week. And while this week won't see that high of mileage, the intensity has and will continue to be extremely high. Because of this I've seen certain side effects that I've never experienced before. One was mentioned at the beginning of this article. The other is 'absent-mindedness'. There have been numerous times when I've found myself forgetting to do menial tasks that I've never forgotten before. I've left the keys in my car twice, over night. Luckily it was parked in the garage. I've also left milk and eggs out on the counter, left water running in the sink, and even completely spaced what day it was once last week. Emily, the amazing nurse she is, told me that my calorie intake and required sleep don't support the amount of effort I'm putting in for training. Of course, she's right and I've since made a couple of adjustments that I'm hoping will help.

And while I've now found the words to put on paper for this article, I still feel a sense of loss for the creativity that goes along with supporting my other writing on I'm hoping that over the next few weeks as I taper for the race I find my writing mojo again. As for running, I'm not sure if I've ever been this motivated. And it's not just about seeing the physical results of putting in the extra effort. This time of year begs to be enjoyed in the outdoors. The trails are dry, the normally dead weeds and grass are green and lush, and the flowers are out everywhere. It is simply gorgeous and there is no place I'd rather be. Below are a few pictures from this morning's run with Matt on the trails above downtown Salt Lake City, UT. You'll understand why there psych is there, for sure. Now to find the words.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

No One Is Hiding

by Craig

You'd think with a blog full of ultra runners we'd have more to say around here. I mean, sheesh, get any one of us out on the trails and we'll likely chat your ears off. The past few weeks though I think everyone has just been a big busy or focused or both.

Scott has been dealing with some ITBS, which means his running is limited to flat roads. And seriously, who wants to read about that. We've gone out a few times together and the pace has been good, but still conversational. I feel like personally my flat speed is getting better and I think Scott would agree.

Josh is still playing running 'hide and seek'. I know he's putting in the miles, but he seems to be a little covert about it. Now that he's single again he is probably running after (or from) all the hot running girls. He's certainly young enough still to be a catch.

MVH owns Farmington Canyon. Seriously, if you want to go run it you either need to get permission from him or just show up any of four days of the week and he'll be there at 5:30am waiting to take you on a tour of every rock and root. He's crushing it though, there's no denying that. And his next race will be phenomenal.

Matt has decided that he definitely does NOT want to suck at running 100 miles next month. He's turned his training up to a level I wasn't sure possible for him. There is no doubt that when it comes to running the Bryce 100 Matt will have it strongly in hand.

And me, well, I'm just doing my thing. Every aspect of my life has been exceedingly busy, but I've still found time to put in the miles. I'm often creative and I don't always get the sleep I need, but I generally feel on top of my training and look forward to my next race.

In 5 weeks the entire refuse2quit crew will be toeing the line at the inaugural Bryce 100. Everyone has different goals of what the want to accomplish. Mine is simple, hang with Matt every step of the way and make sure he gets to the finish line feeling good. That's my job and I'm up for the task. I can't wait.

Several of the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers at The Wedge