Thursday, July 18, 2013

2013 Hardrocking

On our annual vacation that's called Hardrock, Deb and I began early in Leadville on successive weekends training with her brother Drew, Liz Bauer , Elise Harrington and Scott Brockmeier. Photo links here and here. We had some wonderful hike/runs that included a moonlight hike up Mount Elbert...this training block was followed by our two weeks in Silverton, marking the Hardrock course and just visiting with all of our Hardrock friends, most of who stay at the Avon Hotel.

But let's get on to what this post is all about. The Hardrock Hundred...

This was my 10th Hardrock start and 3rd finish. I finally got the counter clockwise direction done after many failures and it was also special for us, as this was the first time Deb and I both finished. I don't know how, considering all the roadblocks on the way, but we did. I'll get into those details below. I decided to not take any photos during the race this year in order to focus on the many other things you need to focus on to be able to get through this run (hike). So most of the photos are from Gerry Roach.

Drew and I are ready on race morning...Deb is, too!
I had decided that due to my total dedication to my HR monitor during most of my training, that I would wear it for at least until Grouse, which it should then be beginning to be dark, if not already. My aerobic threshold is around 125, so I opted to keep my HR at that or under and tested this out in training in Leadville and during course marking and it seems to keep me at a good, comfortable pace, well within myself and should help from going out too fast. So I basically ignored everyone around me and just followed this protocol until I couldn't anymore, meaning my legs would get so tired, I couldn't even get my HR close to 125. I am a firm believer in low HR training to teach the body to burn fat, with at least one day a week of faster running to push up the Lactate Threshold. So if I could stay in my "fat burning" zone, I wouldn't need to consume much fuel or as much as if I were running a faster race. This worked to a point. On with the show...

Away we go!
Mark Heaphy in the pink shirt and knit hat would be my trail buddy most of the day

As we left the rock to Dale's words "Get going", my HR started to rise as I did some slow jogging. Soon I was walking in the back to keep it under 125 and even slower as we started up the Ski Hill. The plan for fuel was to eat meals at the aid stations, supplementing with EFS Liquid Shot in between. I use a 2 bottle Nathan waist pack, as I find that the hydration vests just make me hot.

The climb up to Dives-Little Giant pass was pretty uneventful, other than a pit stop, and spent most of this time with Deb, Drew and our many other back of the pack buds. Up and over the pass, then down to the Cunningham aid station, I felt good and even held back on the downhill to the aid station (125 HR). Nothing dramatic happens early on at Hardrock, but the drama is on it's way.

Top of the pass, Dives little Giant
2011 photo

Crossing the creek into Cunningham Aid Station
2011 photo

Coming into the Cunningham aid station my plan was to eat some breakfast before entering the Green Mountain section over to Maggie Gulch aid station. I came in behind a long conga line down the single track trail behind someone who was clearly nervous and holding us all up. Jim Campiformio and I decided to just sit back and relax ;-) I got in and ate some of Deb's fantastic vegan potato pancakes and a bunch of fruit off the tables with Jennifer Roach's help.

Deb and I as we leave Cunningham aid station
I was yelling out to Gerry Roach "I got 2 days!"

The steep climb up Green Mountain section
2011 photo

Next up we climbed up Green Mountain over Stony Pass and Canby Mountain to the Maggie Gulch aid. Another uneventful section, just getting the miles in and keeping from going to quick this early on in the run. Reaching Maggie, I had a fantastic avocado tortilla wrap that I ate while leaving the aid station into Pole Creek.

Deb running towards Pole Creek
How to feel very small
(Tom Simonds)

The "Pole" creek section

In the Pole Creek section, I was with Scott Brockmeier for most of it. We went back and forth, me dropping back when the HR went above 125. At one point after crossing the final creek crossing, I stopped to get some rocks out of my shoes. I learned about doing this from Dennis Herr one year we were running together. That year, maybe in 2003, after surfing the scree down Grant Swamp Pass, Dennis was sitting at the bottom taking his shoes off to get out the rocks. The conversation went something like this...
Me: Dennis if you wore gaiters, you wouldn't have that problem. (I had on gaiters)
Dennis: Do you have rocks in your shoe?
Me: Some.
Dennis: How you going to easily get them out?
Me: Ummmm....
Dennis: I like to stop and sit down, relax while taking off my shoes and take in the views, let my HR come down a bit.
(Dennis went on and ran around 37 hours, while I dnf'd)
I no longer wear gaiters and always think of Dennis when I stop and take rocks out of my shoe.
One thing I made note of was all the water that poured out of my shoes, Inov-8 Roclite 295's. This would lead to some severe pruning of my feet and lots of foot pain later in the race. My feet still haven't recovered from wearing these shoes, now 4 days after my finish. More on the shoes at the end of the report.

The Pole Creek section ends at the Sherman Aid station at around mile 29. I always have problems during this section due to the fact that it is always midday, so hot and most of it is up above 12,000'. This year focusing on HR, I felt good coming into the aid station. This was planned to be lunch and upon arriving I asked for a plate of veggie spaghetti, washing that down with some almond chocolate milk. I carried out with me an avocado wrap to eat on the way up to Handies. A side mention here that I have been mostly Vegan or Plant Powered the past couple of years. Deb has been for several years.

This 4 mile section of road up to Burrow's Park is never fun with all the Jeepers and ATV's

After leaving Sherman feeling pretty good (first time ever), we hike up a steep trail to the dirt road leading us to Burrows Park at the base of Handies Peak, the highest point on the course. The road stretch went by quickly and due to a little rain, was not as dusty as had been in the past years. Soon we were in the new aid station at Burrows and on our way up the trail to the Handies summit. I went by a dry heaving Chris Twiggs sitting on a rock not far up the trail and knew I'd see him again later on. About halfway up it started to rain, so I stopped to put on my shirt and jacket, then eat my avocado wrap. This is where the drama begins and the almost undoing of my run and the undoing of many others runs.

Grizzly Gulch trail up to Handies Peak
Handies is the high point of the run at over 14,000'

Looking back down Grizzly Gulch from Handies
This was during course marking, not the run

On the final steep trail section up to the summit, the wind picked up and started to hail. The hail hurt my bare legs, but I didn't want to stop to put on my pants because of the thunder I heard. I was climbing behind my new friend and first time Hardrocker, BJ Haeck with Roger Wrublick coming up behind. Just as soon as I jogged to the summit on the flat spot on top, I heard a boom with a flash at the same moment right above my head. BJ looked back at me with that look and we started to fly down the other side. I could see Bob Combs and Hans Dieter-Weisshaur running down not far up ahead. Bob took off and soon BJ and I caught and passed Hans to get down to the Grouse Gulch aid station. I was wet and really cold, but knew warmth would only be there by getting down as soon as I could. The next miles were passing or getting passed by runners as our different paces were getting us to warmth and safety. This is Hardrock!

As I reached the road after the final switchback, I passed by Dima Feinhaus as he was heading up the Engineer Pass road, he looked good and said hi. I got into the tent after checking in and got all my warm and dry clothes on. I was soaked to the skin and shivering. The doc, who knows me well and has pulled me from the course a few times, sat and watched me. He said if the shivering didn't stop soon, that I am hyperthermic and would need to be attended to, which meant I'd probably be pulled from the I drank hot soup and got some blankets over my shoulders and legs.
It would have been so easy to stop here...I was cold, wet and not even halfway. It was around 8:15pm and now dark, but I felt good, all of that aside and knew to look forward, not behind to finish Hardrock. I wasn't having any altitude issues, like in the past here, and mentally I felt strong. So after about 25 minutes sitting and warming up, the shivering stopped. I got up, put my MP3 player on and started dancing to let the doc know I was OK. He smiled and said "get going". I left just after Mark Heaphy, who would be my companion in the run for most of the rest of the way.

Up the Engineer Pass road I went, now in the darkness with Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Tarkus" playing in my head. My music kept me company on the long 8 mile hike up the road in the cold, wet night. Once Tarkus finished playing, I set it on mix and got some great music playing like "Hello, Darkness my old friend" by Simon and Garfunkel, "Yellow Submarine" by Ringo Starr of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones "Hot Rocks" mix. It seemed to take forever to reach "Oh Point", the top of the road where you go down the trail to the Engineer aid station. I believe it is about 8 miles up the road, which at 2mph probably took 4 hours, but who knows, who cares.

The trails down to the aid station were a horrible, slippery mess and the deep trail was too narrow for my size 13's to fit in, so I kept stumbling and tripping. It's probably around midnight, but I'm too cold and tired to care enough to look, so I keep stumbling on into the aid station. The plan here is to not eat anything, because I would not usually eat at that time of day, but they wisely gave me a cup of hot soup. While sitting there, Mark Heaphy came in and after several minutes I left with him.

Mark and I had a good run/hike down the Bear Creek trail down into Ouray. I welcomed the company and put my music away for good. Along this stretch Jamil Coury went by us like we were standing still. He ran into a little trouble and had to spend four hours in Grouse recovering....and recover he did! He finished in 14th!

Mark and I came into Ouray aid station with Rick Hodges as Scott Brockmeier was leaving around 3:00am. I sat down to remove my pants and after having the full menu mentioned to me, which included eggs, all sorts of meat, etc., I mentioned I didn't eat any of those things and was offered a fruit smoothie. That sounded awesome and had two of them! That would be the last thing I could keep down.

I left, hoping Rick or Mark would be ready to go, but neither were, so I went up the road alone. It was cold going up the road, with a strong wind blowing into my face off of the mountains. I was pretty much by myself, except for where Tina Ure and her husband went by. I also found out later that I went by Scott  as he slept on the side of the road. During this stretch dawn came upon us and the birds were singing. This was nice.

Coming into Governor's Aid Station around 6:00am, I ran into Flora and her pacer as they were leaving. Tina and her husband were both asleep in chairs. I asked for some potato soup and after eating that, I left. My feet were sore from the pruning and had been changing my socks at every aid station to keep them as dry as possibly, but now here I had to cross yet another creek and get them wet. I couldn't find an easy way across without getting wet, so just plunged through. Man, it was cold! After crossing the creek, I puked up the soup I just ate. I guess my stomach is done before I'm ready to be done...
On the way up, Rick Hodges caught and passed me...I just couldn't match his walking pace and I'm a good, fast walker.

The final pitch of the Virginius/Kroger's Canteen
This is during course marking, our dog Marley rests in the snow

Now at this point in the run is where the fun begins. We have a good four climbs ahead that will test even the most hardened Hardrocker and it begins with the climb up Virginius, aka Kroger's Canteen. This climb is made up of three steep, loose scree ascents. If you've never tried going up one of these, think of the scree as loose sand that wants to push away as you push to climb. Think one step forward and two steps back. You think you're doing good after taking several steps up, but then slide backwards several feet to lose all that you've gained. Luckily it had rained, which packed down the scree enough to get a good foot plant "most" of the time. I think the first section is the worst and concentrate hard to follow Rick up it. The group in front of him went up a rock pile to the left, while Rick and I stayed in the footsteps to the middle right. Once up that first one, the second is looser, but shorter with the third up to the aid station, now a switchback trail and quite easy to ascend. Up the top were friends Rock Horton (captain) and volunteer Scott Mills. It was good to see them and I got some soup, but couldn't eat it. Rick never stopped, just plowed on through.

I then said "seeya" and headed down the loose scree towards Mendota Saddle and eventually Telluride. Up ahead was Rick, Flora and her pacer, who kept coming back to take pictures of me coming down behind him. Along this section I went by Michael Erlich, who was having a bad day and dropped at Telluride. I was really starting to not feel good myself, but felt like I was headed home. I asked occasionally and found out that Deb was moving forward and looked good. Maybe this will be the first year we'll both finish!

Telluride from the trail

Nothing much to say about Telluride. It was hot and crowded with a music festival going on in the park...people everywhere. I had trouble finding the aid station, although I've been here many times, but because of the festival, we weren't allowed into certain areas.
They sent me down the street to some flagging and I ended up in a line of people buying tickets for the music festival. I must have looked and smelled pretty bad, because the beautiful people of Telluride had no problem getting out of my way ;-) I ended up coming into the aid station from the wrong end, which confused the heck out of the timers, but we got it straightened out eventually. Then as I was leaving some guy with a clipboard came up to me and said "#173, when did you come in?" I guess things were still a bit messed up. Too many people trying to do the same thing in a busy aid station...

I went in and sat down, just getting one of my bottles filled with Coke and ice by Jean-Jacque. Steve Patillo put fresh batteries in my light for the nighttime that will be here before you know it. I asked the way out and after some confusion, found the road leading up to the trail in Wasatch Basin.

This, for me, was the toughest section of the run. It was hot, long and flies everywhere. I spent some time with Scott again and we talked about times and what is possible. We realized that it was possible, if you could average 3 mph the rest of the way, to run sub 38. HA! Easy to "talk" about this, but I figured I'd be lucky to average 2mph the rest of the way, which "might" get me in under 45 hours ;-) It didn't matter, I now knew I "was" going to finish. :-)

After what seemed like all day climbing, I finally reached Oscar's Pass. Along the way Bob Combs and Rick Hodges passed by me again. I thought they were well ahead of me, but must have been sitting in Telluride. Bob and I had a discussion of his experiences with lightening and I was happy to see him move away from me.

Oscar's Pass road down into Chapman
Blake Wood photo

Part two of the worst section is going down the boulder strewn road into Chapman's. My feet hurt on the bottom from the pruning and insufficient shoes for this course. I stopped to Bodyglide the bottoms of my feet, remembering how it helped Sue Johnston when she lubed her feet in 2000 when I paced her. It did help me and I was able to jog some of the downhill when it wasn't large boulders. It was nice to see the bottom and make the turn into the aid station. I only got some more Coke and asked for ice, but the general of the aid station was not very nice. She just looked at me and said "no ice!". I spent all of five seconds there and got moving, telling Margaret Heaphy that I hoped to see her and Mark again on Grant Swamp Pass.

Climbing up the trail, the flies wouldn't quit...but they were smart. If they saw you about to swat them, they'd fly off, so no satisfaction in seeing how many I could "destroy!". I really needed a short nap, but knew if I stopped the flies would suck me dry, so I marched on. If I reached a windy spot, I'd stop to take a break, but even in the wind, the flies soon found me. I marched on....fatigue was deep.

Final pitch of Grant Swamp Pass
This is during course marking, it is much steeper than it looks here

Once on the start of the climb up the first pitch of Grant Swamp Pass, I saw Margaret leading Mark up behind me and it made me happy that my two good friends were there. Only thing better would be if Deb was there with me.
The climb was approached and after several steps, I had to stop and rest, leaning on my poles. Even doing this, I was keeping ahead of M&M and actually pulled away on the big climb. The big climb up the scree of GSP was hard....very hard. But I knew it was the second from the last major climb, so just getting up and over was a huge accomplishment.

What we see as we top out on Grant Swamp Pass
Island Lake

After getting over the top of the pass, I stopped and said hi to Joel Zucker and started down. At the bottom of the steep trail I waited for M&M, in order to have some company. I mentioned to Margaret that I was having trouble staying awake...she advised I either take some short naps or take a good nap at the KT aid station. Just before breaking out of the trees, Mark had to stop and I went on to the aid station. Coming in, I asked about a cot and blanket and one of the woman volunteers let me sleep in the back of her her sleeping bag! I removed my shoes to leave outside the car and lubed up my feet again. I lied down, closed my eyes and immediately heard knocking on the window. I asked for 20 minutes and it was up already. I thought she was lying to me, but looking at my watch I saw that it was time to go.

The trail (Kamm Traverse) coming into the KT aid station
Not a good place to be sleepy
This was taken during course marking

I got nothing to eat, checked out and left. Tina Ure was hurrying to catch M&M and told me to come...but I wasn't really awake left and wasn't thinking right. I went down to the creek crossing and spent way too much time seeing if there was a place to not get so wet. I looked upstream and saw a beaver splash his tail at me. Was this a hallucination? Nope, I saw him again...

I crossed the creek, which was knee deep at it's deepest and started up the climb, hoping to catch M&M to have some company in this last stretch. The climb is hard....the first section is steep trail through the trees and I was convinced I was stuck on a loop because everything looked the same. I made note of a course marker that had a yellow flower stuck to it and if I saw it again I'd scream. If I was thinking intelligently, I'd have know that the trail absolutely does not even come close to looping back, but my brain is starting to not work right.

The Porcupine section in the daylight

I finally broke out of the trees into the Porcupine section where Charlie tells us to take a right at the log. It was very dark now, night #2 and no log was seen. I just followed the markers we had put down 2 weeks earlier. I looked up and saw three lights up on the ridge, Mark, Margaret and Tina most likely. I'll never catch them. But those lights might also have been stars! I marched on in the darkness, following the course markers that I was sure we put out enough of, but now thinking we could have used more.

Course marking up the Putnam climb
This is steep

At the top of the first ridge, I came upon a couple that were confused/lost. I remember the woman pacer asking "Dennis" if he was doing OK. I never thought it was my friend Dennis Drey, but looking at the results it had to be. I led them back onto the trail, but they weren't able to keep up with me. I pushed on up the steep, grassy Putnam slope and the markers seemed to be all over the place, not in a straight line, like they should be. I know the course angles up and then to the right, but it felt like I was going now left. WTF! I also knew not following the markers could get me good and lost in the dark, so followed I did and eventually ended up on the trail along the ridge and to the right. I remember my light dying again this 2nd night, even though I put in fresh batteries, so I got out my Surefire to spot the markers in the distance. This worked well. The BD Storm was OK for following the trail, but finding the distant markers, it wasn't so.

The trail down to the Putnam aid station was so overgrown, I kept worrying I had wandered off of it. Just as soon as I started thinking that way, I'd see a reflective marker. Approaching the aid station, I checked in and out. The volunteer to me looked sad that I wasn't going to stop. My mind was playing tricks on me.

OK, approx 5 miles to the finish, but weird things are about to happen...hallucinations started from being awake for almost 40 hours! Here's what I saw...
Walking down the boulder strewn, overgrown trail I was sure that there was a line of row houses to my left. I knew it was only trees and a hillside there, but the light playing with my glasses made it look like house after house. I even heard women talking on the decks! Funny thing is even though I knew they weren't there, I kept seeing them in my peripheral vision and enjoyed the company. Good thing they didn't invite me to join them ;-)
Then I saw a bunch of hiking gear on the trail in front of me. I started wondering why it was there and how I was going to get through it! It was packs, tents, etc., but when I reached the spot it was a bunch of rocks.
I also saw someone sitting on the right side of the trail in the distance with their face in their hands. I thought it was a runner and was going to help them get up and get moving, but as I got closer, it was just a bush.
I also saw all these rectangle shaped black rocks on the trail that I thought were transistor radios, I was going to pick some up and take them back. You had to grow up in the 60's to even know what a transistor radio is! No, I didn't have any rocks in my pocket when I finished.
One last thing I remember is a beautiful painting of a deer hopping over something on a rock in the middle of the trail...I actually stopped to look at it. I bent over, looked at it and decided that I'd go back the next day to retrieve it. I also didn't mention that just about every rock had a face on it, all smiling and happy :-)

OK, enough of the hallucinations, time to get this run done. I kept looking back and saw no lights, so I figured I could relax and power hike it in after crossing the river. But once I neared the river I saw lights....damn! No way I'm getting passed, if I can help it, after 98 miles! I ran to the river, following the winding trail to it. Crossed it, holding onto the rope, it was only knee deep at one point and ankle deep for most of it. Kurt Coonrod was on the other side and asked if I had seen Dennis. Oh so it was THAT Dennis! I told him I last saw him up on the Putnam ridge and had to go, see you at the finish! 2.5 miles to go!

The lights were right behind me and closing, I started power hiking up the hill using my poles to push into the trail. Reached the top and ran..the lights were gone. I reached Nute Chute and ran some more until the big hill on the far end, then power hiking up it, running down the other side. The lights were still there. Reaching the Christ of the Mine road, I again power hiked as hard and as fast as I could. I soon saw the lights of the statue and looked left and said thanks to Jesus for helping me get this far and to watch over Deb...took a right down the trail and ran as hard as I could, taking a left on Snowden St towards the finish at the gym. People were in the road and on the corner. I turned the corner and ran as hard as I could to kiss the rock, which I did at 44:39:48. 86th out of 104 finishers, 140 starters, 6th over 60.

Moments after kissing the rock
(Shelby Berg photo)

I told Dale I was running away from some lights and he asked "where?". What I didn't realize was that Mark and Margaret had stopped in the middle of the road to talk with Wolfgang before turning the corner and what I thought were spectators, was them. Mark "really" finished before me, I just kissed the rock first...and the lights that were chasing me was Andrew Barney and his pacer. Andrew told me he would have caught and passed me, but I gave too much of a fight, so he didn't.

So this makes it finish #3 and now have both directions. All is can say is this was hard, real hard. I sit here four days later, still sleepy, two swollen feet and a sore spot on my left metatarsal. I think it's just a neuroma aggravated by the swelling and hope it's not a bruise or even worse, a stress fracture from the shoes I chose to wear. As I said earlier, I wore the Inov-8 Roclite 295's, the new version with the green sole. I don't think they were protective enough for the rocks and for being on the trail for this they didn't drain of water too well, which caused the pruning. I wished I had my other shoes, my Montrail Masochists at the midpoint, but didn't so I live with the consequences.

Not sure I can get Deb to write her story, but just briefly she ran well and also got her 3rd finish and wasn't last this year. She had Jennifer Roach pacing her, who did a great job keeping her from sitting a lot and kept her moving. If not, she may not have made the cutoff. Deb is yet again the oldest female finisher of Hardrock.

As for me, this does it. I've been wanting to not run any more 100's now for a couple of years and now that I finished Hardrock in both directions, it's a good place to stop. I'll still run ultras, but have no desire to go into the night anymore. I've been running 100's since 1998 (Vermont) and running since 1975 and want to do other things, like qualify for Boston again (13 finishes) and run some 50K trail races. Time for a change!

I hope you enjoyed this story and if I can get Deb to add to it, I will....but I don't see this blog going on much further after this post. I'm having trouble keeping up with it and writing takes too much time of my day when I have work and a house to maintain.

For the results, go here.

We'll see you all out there somewhere on the trails and roads...Happy Trails!
Steve and Deb

Below are several pictures of  Deb that Jennifer and Gerry Roach were nice enough to send to me.

Deb and Jennifer coming in
I think I see tears of joy

Deb with Jennifer running down Snowden towards the gym

Deb dropped all her junk off before the finish
She said she felt like a pack rat

Deb goes to kiss me before the rock and everyone started yelling "No, kiss the rock!"
I'm thinking "Where am I?"

Smooch and an official finish

Deb and Dale, Hardrock RD

After the awards, very tired after only 1.5 hours sleep in 2 days
I think I aged...

Me getting my finish poster
Hugging Lois MacKenzie
(Jack Kurisky photo)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Quad Rock 50 mile trail race

Quad Rock 50 profile

This past saturday we ran the Quad Rock 50, put on by the elite runner, Nick Clark. The run is in Fort Collins, Colorado and is a stepping stone race to the Hardrock 100, which is in 8 weeks. Looking at the profile above you can see that this is a challenge and good use for Hardrock prep. This year's course was 2 miles longer than last year, which was the first running. They had to do this course change to avoid a burn area....this kept me from my goal of sub 12 hours ;-)

Some of the trails were nice with great views

Going into the race, I was one of only two over 60 year old runners in the race and they didn't have an over 60 in the race last year (I guess we're a rarity). Deb's brother Drew was the only other over 60 runner at age 65, but showed up with a head cold and, as we learned afterward, ran with a slight he got in a good 25 mile training run for Hardrock.

A few weeks ago, while on a training run in White Rock, NM., Deb tripped on a steep downhill and slammed into some rocks, banging her knee on a pointy boulder. For a week she was sure her kneecap was fractured and still think there's a hairline break in it. She thought Quad Rock was not going to happen, but the weekend prior to the race, we went on an easy 10 mile run, she didn't feel any worse and decided to go and run the 25, knowing she has the Jemez trail run coming up in 2 weeks. So this was a 25 mile Hardrock training run for her, too and a fine way to spend Mother's day!

View of snowy mountains in the distance

As for my race, my plan is always to not have anyone older than me in front of me. With Drew sick, all I had to do was finish and that would happen....but I also had a goal of a sub 12 hour finishing time. At the turnaround I was 5:45, which didn't give me much cushion time for the 2nd loop, so as hard as I tried, I came up short by 16 minutes. The RD, Nick Clark, had to add about a mile per loop to avoid a burn area, so last year I might have done it! Official stats for me are 79th overall, out of just under 200 starters, 1st over 60 in 12:16:39. I can't really complain about that, I guess.

Lots of these uphill trails to test the climbing ability

Anyway, Quad Rock is a challenging race that will test even the best. Some climbs are several miles long and the downhills so technical, you can't run! The altitude isn't too bad for me, who sleeps at 8200', but could be a challenge for anyone living a lot lower. I never noticed the altitude, which goes up over 7000'.

Looks nice here, but just around the corner...

I had a good run until around mile 40ish (after the hail storm), when the wheels started coming off. Up to the point I was able to run a good portion of the trail up and down, but after the storm, all the rocks were slick and the mud was like grease. At that point I got too careful to be able to let it go, so just moseyed on in until the last downhill after Tower's Rd aid...pretty much pushed in that last 7 mostly downhill miles.

One of the nicer sections of runnable trail

Today, two days later and after an 8+ hour drive home yesterday, my legs don't feel too bad. They felt worse last night, but today I am standing at my desk as if no race happened.

...and one of the medium technical sections

I took many pictures and several videos, to see them, go here.

Oh, forgot the steps ;-)

              Photos of me and Deb in the race by the official race photographer Erin Bibeau

Now it's time to go into the final phase prep for Hardrock, which will be a lot of uphill hiking with poles. I figure about 5-6 weeks of training, then rest up for the big weekend. I also have the Last Chance Saloon aid station at the Jemez Trail Runs I am captain of, so next weekend will mostly be preparing for that. I brewed a batch of beer to serve the runners there, which is called "Mexican South of the Border Thirst Quencher", which is basically a Tecate or Corona clone. A lot of the prep will be Deb making soup and pumpkin pie for the runners and then the biggest challenge is, as always, carrying in to the aid station location, about 50 gallons of water. I generally do this alone the day before the race and is about 2/3rds of a mile round trip, so I consider this good training for Hardrock, too ;-) It's usually takes me 12-15 trips...

So that's about it, my next post will most likely be the days after the Jemez Race and will post the pics I take and just talk about how it went, then the final  several weeks leading to Hardrock will be nothing but eat, sleep, and Hardrock prep.

Happy trails!
Steve and Deb

PS: Wanted to mention that I wore my Montrail Fluid Flex trail shoes for the first time in a race and although I found them to be quite comfy in training, I don't think these have enough to take on the Hardrock. My shoes are destroyed after Quad Rock. I think i'm going to look into the highly rated Inov-8 Roclite 295's.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Re-inventing a runner

I just thought I'd write a quick post to talk about some things as I get ready to wake this thing up with the Quad Rock 50 coming up next weekend.

I am aging, as we all are....but i'm a runner, have been since 1975 when I saw Bill Rodgers cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Nothing in running has inspired me like that afternoon at 2:09PM on April 21st in a new American Record of 2:09.55. I was 24 years old that day and a bunch of us had walked across the bridge over the Charles River to watch the finish.

Bill Rodgers finishing the 1975 Boston Marathon
I was watching from on his left side

Like many do after watching Boston, I started running the next day and 4 years later ran a 2:49:06 at the Cape Cod Marathon to qualify for my first Boston in April of 1980.

Now 38 years later, I'm still running....and not for years have I had to rethink my training and racing, now I am. Basically, except for 1981 when I ran an average of 100 mpw over the 80/81 winter as an experiment, have I run much more than 50 mpw on average...and that was usually spread over 6-7 days per week. Even earlier this year, I had several 60+ mile weeks, but it was all slow/low HR training, more to build my aerobic base over the winter.

Me back in the day as a much faster runner
1999 Savoy 20 miler, MA.

Then near the end of the winter, I did feel old for the first time....I will be 62 in November. A senior citizen!

These images show how I've been feeling lately...

Something had to change!

I do all of my running from Mon thru Thursday in Albuquerque at 5300' altitude on a flat, paved bike path. Daily out and backs of 5-6 miles at a real easy pace, keeping my HR well under my lactate threshold. I sleep at 8200', so shouldn't be affected at this altitude in ABQ, but my legs felt dead almost all the time! Going out on my daily, noontime run was becoming a chore instead of the joy it had always been. I found myself needing to walk more to keep the HR down in the aerobic zone and started enjoying the walking sections and dreading when I had to start running.

I would love to be able to run like this Road Runner, which I see a lot of in ABQ

So I did lots of reading and came upon some great articles on the need for more recovery as we age. Part of this reading was Scott Jurek's book "Eat and Run", where he proclaims the incredible recovery value of a Vegan diet. Deb's been a vegan for many years and had a great year last year. I ate a 90% vegetarian diet in 2010 with no issue until I moved to NM at altitude and started having the recovery issues. At the time I thought it was a need for more protein  but now don't believe that's the issue, I think I just need more rest/recovery time.

Some of the worlds largest animals live on leaves

Something else I started doing this year is standing at my computer at work. I was having some back issues from my 14+ hours in a sitting position. I drive 1.5 hours to and from work and work 10 hour days with an hour lunch, so 14 hours...then I go home and sit for a couple more hours before going to bed and starting another day of the same. 16 hours a day sitting! My Chiropractor recommended standing some at work and me being part German, I tend to do all or I started to stand for 10 hours a day. This may be the key to needing more recovery, but I'm not changing that because my back pain has all but disappeared.

So anyway, what to do? One great article I read was about how a runner who started slowing down in his 40's took charge and was successful re-inventing himself and getting back to where he had been running when he was younger. I also had some discussion with other runners who switched to 3-4 days per week of running with much success. Even though this went against my grain as a runner, I decided to give it a I'm now taking off Mon and Fridays for sure and also Wednesday if the legs feel tired that day. On those days off, I do go for a walk for 30-40 minutes to keep the legs from getting too stiff from standing all day.

How I "want" to feel when I run

So far my legs are beginning to feel better and the first test will be at the Quad Rock 50 this weekend, with the true test at the Hardrock 100 in July. As you can see, I'm also racing less this year to see if it helps me at Hardrock. I always in the past ran one race a month leading up to my "A" race using them as stepping stones to fitness...this year I'm only running Quad Rock, which is 2 months from Hardrock, rather than the past couple of years where I ran the San Juan Solstice 50 just three weeks before and most likely going into Hardrock with tired legs. I'll give some feedback here in the form of race reports as to how it all might go kaboom in the form of racing slower, but I think not.

That's about it, I'll be writing my first report next week after Quad Rock. I have no real goals there, other than my usual "have no one older than me ahead of me". There are only two people in my age group, me and Deb's brother Drew. Drew is coming up from Fort Worth, TX. and I expect that he may have some issue with the altitude in the 2nd loop....we'll see. I respect Drew as a runner and brother-in-law. He's a much stronger runner than I am and on equal turf, I don't have a chance, even though he's 3 years older than I am.

Drew while running the Grand Slam in 2010

I'm also planning on running a road marathon later in the year to try to again qualify for the Boston Marathon. I've run Boston 12-13 times (forget how many) back in the 80's and early 90's and realize that I'm slow. Slow from training for ultras with the exclusion of any speedwork. So will get back on that horse and hope to run the Pocatello marathon on August 31st in order to have a qualifier before reg opens. My qualifying time is 3:55, but I'd love a 3:35 to enter early :-) All depends on how much speed I can get back without getting injured in the process...

One of my running idols, Ed Whitlock
Ed ran a 3:15 marathon in his 80's and holds many age group world records

On another note, a few weeks ago we did a Grand Canyon double crossing (R2R2R) as a super long training run for Quad Rock and Hardrock. Our goal was to run it about the same as before, when we did it in 14 hours. It took us 15 hours, but we returned on the 3 mile longer Bright Angel trail, so the pace per mile was actually quicker. I think Deb and I would have done it even quicker, but a couple in our group had some problems that slowed us down a bit. We both finished strong and felt great the next day, even though this was the longest we had gone since Hardrock last year for me and Wasatch for Deb. Here is a link to the photos I took along the way.

As for Hardrock, the plan is to spend the next two months hiking up high at least every other weekend. We will arrive in Silverton on June 28th, will hike/run a MTNRNR series event called the Silverton Silver on Saturday, the 29th. Do a fastpack with some friends on Monday, then start course marking on Tuesday.

On some other news, Deb banged her knee up pretty bad on a downhill rocky trail and has been unable to run for 3 weeks. She decided, after running/hiking 10 miles with me yesterday, to go to Quad Rock and do at least one loop as a training run for the Jemez 50K on the 25th. She'll see how the rest of the week goes before her final decision, but my prediction is she does go, feels good at 25 miles and continues on and has a good 50 mile run. Nothing like a forced rest to make for rested legs!

So until next week, Happy Trails to you all!