Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 29, 2013

Sometimes things don't go as planned. The short version is that I dropped out of my attempt at the Bear 100 at mile 51. I had been experiencing more than the normal amount of foot pain since mile 30, but I brushed it off. It got much worse. My friend Dan Boyer graciously showed up early to pace me, so I picked him up at mile 45. From mile 45 to mile 51 took a little over 3 hours. Every step sent involuntary grunts and gasps echoing into the forest. The pain was deep, sharp, and shooting with each step straight from the bones in the balls of both feet. I'm not new to ultras or training and pushing through pain. I thought my feet were broken, and I couldn't fathom a 49 mile death march to the finish. Dan kept me moving and kept me from laying down in the snow and giving up. I knew I was done before we got to the aid station. It was a tough choice.

It was a tough choice mostly due to the great people in my life who had taken time from their own busy lives to help me. I guess I've matured, because my deepest disappointment is that I was unable to make it a more satisfying experience for them. Tara, Dan B, Dan C, Murray, and Cherri. Thanks for caring about and supporting me.

I'm really not personally all that disappointed. I got to take a day off work and run through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery I've ever experienced. People went out beforehand and marked out a challenging scenic course, so all I had to do was look for orange ribbons. Every 10 miles or so I had selfless, hard working volunteers running aid stations in remote backcountry locations catering to my every need. At several of these stations I got to be taken care of (perfectly, as usual) by my wonderful, beautiful wife. All I had to do was run. I didn't have to think about money, death, schedules, wants, needs. All I had to do was run on single track trails and dirt roads, through rocks, mud, snow, mist, golden aspens, sunshine and total darkness. Breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. I listened to an audio version of A Farewell to Arms. I listened to Queens of the Stone Age, Leonard Cohen, Alt-J, Lana Del Rey, Damien Jurado, and Iggy and the Stooges. I met and talked with a few pretty interesting folks, most of them much older than me, and faster. I felt great. It's such a simple experience, it's incredible, it's sublime, and it's just running. That's all.

Training continues. My feet are already feeling better, and the pain is more localized in the joints at the base of my big toes. Other than that and just a little stiffness, I feel awesome. After the Devil's Backbone 50 back in July I was ruined for almost a week. Not this time. I'll chalk this up to a successful summer of training.

Winter is almost here, and it's time to switch training gears. Speed and power. I miss the barbell. There's also a couple 100's I'm looking at for next year. I failed at my one attempt this year, so I should sign up for two or three next year, right?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September 17, 2013

Only ten more days until the running of the Bear 100, and I'm feeling surprisingly relaxed and confident. I couldn't be happier about this year's training, and the last few weeks I've gained a feeling of smoothness and relaxation that I've never before experienced on the trails. I've been able to set personal bests on some of my regular runs with a much lower sense of perceived exertion and a much higher sense of well being. The fitness is there, so running 100 miles at this point is mental. Start slow, keep on schedule with hydration and calories, take care of any problems early, don't get attached to feeling good or bad, and keep moving forward.
Lucky for me I've had the opportunity of pacing two good friends on their 100 milers this year, and I'm going to ride the wave of positivity from their finishes straight to my own. 
The next post will be after the Bear 100. I can't wait to get that buckle!

Dan Schulof. Leaving Twin Lakes. Leadville 100.

Dan Boyer. Coming in to Lamb's Canyon. Wasatch 100.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 31, 2013

This has been, by far, the best season of mountain running I've had, and with my abilities growing (slowly, humbly) and the tick list showing signs of progress, it's hard to stop and write about it. Of course growing abilities and a shrinking tick list are relative to the immense amount of ability in the people I look up to and to the infinite amount of mountain "projects". There's no end in sight, I think.

That being said, I completed the Devil's Backbone 50 miler on July 13. That was a big one for me, given that I've been reading about and contemplating running it for a long time. "Unmarked, unsupported, and unequaled." Their motto drew me in. I'm often at a loss to write about the races I do, because for me, the journey is about so much more than the course, my splits, the weather, etc. The distance and time involved in running far in wild places is amplified in the mind and spirit, creating a unique opportunity to explore the edges of your being. What I find interesting, is that the better I get at this physically, the more I can maintain focus on these less than tangibles.

Nonetheless, the course was wilder, more beautiful, and much more difficult than I imagined. I ran a pretty smooth race with no major problems. I finished in 13 hours and 17 minutes. That's a bit slower than my goal, but I'll live. It was enough of a confidence boost that I bagged the 100K I registered for in August, and have decided to run the Bear 100 miler in late September. If all goes well it will put me back on the hunt for having my name drawn in the Hardrock 100 lottery. The wish list never ends.

I'm in a nice groove with training, and I've been getting in some really nice EARLY morning outings in the mountains before I have to be at work at the crack of noon. I do believe Lone Peak is my new favorite place.

Enough babble, time for the pictures.

Mt Charleston. North Loop/South Loop

Mt Charleston. Up high.

Dan S and Mike on the way to the Sundial.

Wasatch Crest Trail run with my beautiful wife.

The Pfiefferhorn in all its glory.

Red Baldy/ White Baldy loop. Heading west.

The little things.

Some shortcuts prove more exciting than others.

Rich on the South Ridge of Superior.

South Ridge of Superior.

Pfiefferhorn time trial.

Guardsman Pass to Mill B North.

Heading up to Hyalite Peak. Devil's Backbone 50.

Devil's Backbone 50.

Devil's Backbone 50.

Devil's Backbone 50.

Lightning on the ridge. Time to drop down for a few. Devil's Backbone 50.

Above Lake Blanche. 

The area above Lake Blanche is pretty stellar.

Heading up to Lone Peak.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013

The high country is thawing and the mountains are calling. It's been a busy month and this is turning out to be a great year. I've got a solid group to work with on these adventures, and to keep me moving and motivated. I'm not a play by play kind of guy, so here's some pictures and the basics.

City Creek Canyon West Ridge/East Ridge Loop.

Boyer and Mallin setting a good pace for the day.
      Boyer, off trail.                                     

Boyer and Mallin breaking trail. Up, always up.
 Mallin on Little Black.

 Peak 10,350 as seen from Storm Mountain, and the start of the real work on the WURL.
Huntington Beach Pier to Newport Beach Pier out and back.
 Barefoot in the sand for 11 miles, didn't at all make me feel like Rocky Balboa.

Tara's Nanny Goat 12 Hour Run.
Home base.

Getting hot out here.
 My beautiful wife.
Got blisters? Finish the last couple hours in flip flops. 

Griffith Peak and Mt Charleston run. 
 Starting up one of about forty switchbacks.
 Approaching Griffith Peak.
 A nice runnable trail at over 10,000 feet.
 Getting above treeline is my favorite.
 Descending Mt Charleston.
 The way back.
 Abrupt change in rock.

 Oquirrh Mountain Partial Traverse.

Gallery and Schulof on one of the first of many smaller climbs.
 Schulof and the pyramid.
 We've got a ways to go, and it's getting hot.
 Gallery, surfing down.
 Thank goodness for snow, because it's hot, and we're almost out of water.
 More work to be done.
 Looking back.
 Thankfully, I run slow, or else this antler I found and carried all day could have been dangerous.
 Back into the brush.
 No respect.
 Getting close.
 Gallery, contemplating our route.
 Descending into Black Rock Canyon.
 Around 2 miles from the top to the lake, and 4,000 feet of loss.
One more obstacle. Seconds later we get a drive by from Kennecott security.

I'm content with the way this year is unfolding. Stay healthy, stay focused.