Sunday, November 30, 2008

2008 ramblings and thoughts on 2009

With 2008 almost behind us I like to start thinking about and planning for next year about this time...but first what was good and bad about 2008.

Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Racing Team
Hardrock Finish
Fairly successful year of racing

Knee injury from road racing late in the year

Good things about 2008 was I was able to finish all of my ultras and I learned some good and new things. I learned that water only is the best thing for me when running ultras. I like to put one NUUN capsule into each bottle to get my electrolytes, but other than that, at least right now my stomach can only handle that. I will usually have soup at the aid stations and occasionally grab a sandwich to eat while walking out of the aid station. Another thing I learned from my friend Mike Dobies is to carry a baggie and put some things in it to munchon like raisins, nuts and pretzels. Even at my ripe older age fo 57 I can learn some new tricks.

Good thing also was a quick recovery from the knee injury late in the year due to some aggressive road running and also running two road marathons. I've been able to run several multi hour trail runs with Deb this weekend, so the knee is happy again. I still think running roads can help you in trail running as it does make you a little faster. I will continue to run roads, but only beween the trail runs.

We had a good Thanksgiving day. No Turkey for us! We had some running friends over, went for a nice 2.5 hour trail run, then returned to the house for some homemade soup, bread and cheesecake. We followed that with some Guinness and a watching of the Massanutten movie to get ourselves psyched up for entering this week. It was a good day! as I now think about 2009, what I have planned so far is to enter the Massanutten 100 on Dec 1st and enter Hardrock in January. Both of these are lottery, so I don't know if I will be running one or both or neither. I think I have a good chance of getting in both and my race season will surround and be planned around these. I will be running the DRB50K in April, that's a given. Deb and I are also planning on going down to Va. in Feb to run the Reverse Ring, which is a 71 mile run on the MMT course without all of the road sections and very limited aid. This will basically kick off the serious training for MMT, which in in May. That and possible several other trip down there for some of the Massanutten training runs.

Another biggie for us for 2009 is the hope to sell our home and move back to New Mexico...this is something I really hope happens, but due to the economy I don't think our house will sell, but time will tell.

For training, I will continue to run easy and low mileage until after the first of the year, then will begin to ramp up the miles, adding hill repeats in there sometime when the roads are clear of snow. Then in the Spring I'll start to do some tempo runs, preferably on the trails to keep the knees happy. My mileage is usually in the 50-60 mile per week range with most of it at a low heart rate. I log all of my training at RunningAHEAD.

Deb and I are planning a trip to Texas for the week between Christmas and New Year to visit her family in Fort Worth. That will be a nice trip and it'll be good to get in some warmer weather for a week. We'll do some training with her brother, Drew (Meyer) who is also planning on entering Hardrock. Drew is a good ultrarunner and ran sub 25 hours at Leadville at age 60 a couple of years ago.

I will continue with the ChiRunning. I feel that going in this direction is the right thing to do for my future running health. I was initially too agressive in doing it and developed some knee pain because of all the new stresses, but as my legs gets stronger this shouldn't be a problem.

I guess that's it for 2008....probably no more posts here until after Jan 1. So I wish all of you that are reading this a Happy Holiday season. Be safe!

Until next year...

Monday, November 3, 2008

3:51:38 and I'm satisfied!

Yup, ran another road marathon yesterday at the Manchester Marathon in Manchester, NH. I ran this last year in 3:45, trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon and just squeaked under the wire by several seconds. This year was a different story...

...about 4 weeks ago as you read below in a previous post, I ran a marathon and had to stop at mile 20 due to knee pain. This was Patella Tendinitis, which I have had for 20+ years, but had gone quiet by running trails. My recent interest in running some road races the past 2 years caused it's return. So in my research in this knee injury I cam across the ChiRunning website that I discuss in the post before this one.

After the marathon 4 weeks ago, I figured I was done for the year. Time to recover from all the hard training and racing and ramp up for next year. I had also sprained my ankle during a trail run a few weeks ago, so now I was really done! But the ankle came around and ChiRunning was feeling pretty good, so last Wednesday I entered Manchester just to see how this new running technique would work with the knee.

While running I was trying not to actually notice the time or pace I was running, rather focus on the form, the lean and midfoot landing of ChiRunning. But it was hard as every 5 miles they had a digital clock on the course, so I noticed that at 5 miles 43:28, I was cruising along at a comfortable, but a little faster than training pace. I was running behind a BQ pace, but this same thing happened last year, also because of the hilly beginning of the course. By 10 miles (1:24:16) I had caught up to and was running a little faster than BQ time and I wasn't even trying. So much for not training for this and only averaging about 15 mpw since mid October! At 15 miles I hit in 2:06:42, still under an 8 1/2 mpm average and I felt great. But for some reason at the 20 mile aid station my hamstrings were beginning to cramp, somthing I never experienced before, so I guessed it was from this form of leaning and striding backwards. So I stopped and drank a cup of water, did a gel and stretched out the hammies, never having a problem with them again.

At this point just trying to focus on my form was getting hard, but that was what I put all my mental energy on so as to not hurt the knee again because this couse had a lot of ups and downs, the downs being the knee killer. Yeah, like in any marathon it was getting hard, but I was still passing a bunch of runners who had gone out too fast on this cool day. I no longer looked at any times and just ran. I didn't want to see that if I pick it up in the last couple of miles, I'll get that BQ, rather I wanted to come out of this injury free...and so far at mile 23 my legs were feeling great (my head wasn't feeling too good, though) ;-) But I ground out those final miles, now running all alone, several runners going by while I went by several. I turned the corner to the finish and saw the clock at 2:51, I immedietly thought about my knee and how there was no pain at all....good news!

After the run it was a treat to have Senator John Sununu greet me after the ifnish.

Today I decided to not go for a run, but I probably could have. My legs are a little stiff, mostly due to no mileage. How many people do you know who can run a marathon on 15 mpw with no long runs ;-)

So that be that, all is well and I am now hoping for a high mileage winter!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


As you read in my last post, I've been dealing with injuries due to a road marathon and leaves covering rocks on a gnarly trail....things have been going well and I went on my first run yesterday since the ankle incident. It is still a little achy, but was not at all during the run. I did walk and run to feel it out and I'll continue to be cautious over the next couple of weeks.

This leads to the latest interest of mine. ChiRunning...

As I always do when having a rash of setbacks, I research the web. The last time I was having running problems was 5 years ago and the research led me to Phil Maffetone and his book, Training for Endurance. This type of training has changed me for life and has made running enjoyable again after 30+ years of hard road racing. I will always train this way, but not necessarily with a Heart Rate monitor. After ready Stu Mittleman's book, Slow Burn....he taught you how to run by sensing your effort and keeping the pace, breathing and HR down for better aerobic training. This was how I used to run back in the 80's after reading Ernst Van Aaken's book, The Van Aaken Method, which was basically low HR training methods, but many miles run. So as you can see, I have pretty much always been a low HR runner because it works without creating a lot of unneccesary stress on your body. Training with these methods I have run anywhere from a 4:55 mile up to a 2:49 marathon. It does work.

But that's not what this post is's about the result of my latest research and what I found was ChiRunning. Yes, I have seem posts about it on the Ultra List and the Yahoo Ultrarunning group, but I always ignored it as some far out, extreme way of running and barely read the messages.

ChiRunning claims that by learning how to use the center of gravity and a little bit of lean in your step, you can run relaxed, which in turn relaxes all the muscles which in turn helps prevent injury. Some claims are of personal best times run after years of running. When it comes to things like this, I am somewhat a skeptic, but also have an open mind and will look into it more. I have purchased the book and began to read it last night. I'll let you know what I find. I am a little excited about this as I read more and more.

On another note it was mentioned this week that LaSportiva has become a 2009 sponsor of the Wasatch Speedgoats. This is awesome as I've been planning on trying these out in the Spring anyway. I know Bryon Powell likes them and chief goat Scott Mason told me that I'd like them, so I will have the colors of LaSportiva on my feet next racing season.

Til next time....Scrape on!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Injuries galore, a year end analysis...

Ok, I am getting the signs, the signs that it's time to rest for the year...and when I look back I had a good year and can't complain, but also when I look back and see that I've "raced" over 300 miles, it's makes sense.
Some achievements for the year were ranked in order of importance to me:

1. Finally got my 2nd Hardrock finish in 7 attempts.
Damn that run is hard, especially when you don't live "up there". I was able to get through it this year by bowing down to the course and staying at a slow pace for over 50 miles, then picked it up a bit until I couldn't no more, then brought it in. My time was 43:25, 2 hours slower than my 41:14 back in 2001, but Ii enjoyed this one more and I'm 6 years older!

2. Sub 20 minute 5K (19:52) at age 56 in June.

3. Survived all the mileage and racing, some of it hard trail racing, until just recently.

I was not able to accomplish only one of my goals, which was a sub 3:30 road marathon.
This is frustrating because it seems like only yesterday that I could just show up at a marathon and run sub 3 hours.... Guess I let the years slip by running ultras and this has slowed me down along with just plain ole' getting older. I'll be 57 in a few weeks, so can't complain much. My dad was 4 years from passing on from a heart attack at this point in his life, living a completely sedentary lifestyle.

I had plans on running just one more race, the Hellgate 100K in December, but recent injuries are telling me that it is time to rest, so I withdrew from it. A couple of weeks ago at the marathon I was trying to do that 3:30, I developed knee pain that I mention in the post below. I was on target to run my time, but bailed to keep my knee from blowing out.

So I then decided to return to recovery mode and run all my runs at a low HR training pace in order to recover from all the racing miles this year, so then after taking a week off after the marathon, I strapped on the HR monitor and kept it all to sub 70% of max, which is a nice easy restful pace. I did that all of last week, running around 5 hours over the weekend and then one hour a day all on trails and I was feeling great, even thinking about running another race!

Then this past Saturday on a long trail run on one of my favorite trails, I turned an ankle and now can't put much weight on it. It's swollen and is many colors and I'm guessing I'm 2 weeks minimum from being able to run again. The trails around here are all leaf covered now as the trees prepare for winter and rocks were hiding under those leaves. It's a dangerous time of year to run trails, those rocks are sneaky...they hide under the leaves for unsuspecting hikers or runners.

But that's OK.....this is the time of year for rest anyway....soon we'll be snowshoing and XC Skiing, doing different things to rest the legs in prep for next year's trail running season :-)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Roads no more!

Back in around the mid 90's I developed Patella Tendinitis from running fast on least this is what the surgeon I saw told me. He said if I continued down this road, it would sever and probably separate from the bone it's attached to (kneecap), so after finishing a 30K road race in the New England Grand Prix circuit for my club at that time, the Cambridge Sports Union, I walked into the gym and told my team mates I was done and would be leaving the team due to this. I had run the race I wanted, running 2:00:02 for 18.6 miles, finishing as the top master in the club and third overall for my club. But afterward I could barely walk.

This injury and leaving the sport of road racing moved me into what I was slowly moving into anyway, Ultrarunning on trails, which worked and my knees slowly got better and i no longer thought about the issue anymore. I trained exclusively on trails and in the Winter if we couldn't find trails to run on because of the snow, we would snowshoe or XC Ski. My knees were happy.

When we moved back to New England from New Mexico last year(where it was all trails all of the time), I thought about running a marathon to see what this old bod could do. My last marathon was around 3 hours in the mid 90' last fall I ran a local marathon and was shocked to run it in 3:45, barely qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I was disappointed, but on a mission now to see how fast I could get again after 10 years running slow ultras.

The past year I had started the year by doing a Lydiard type training, which is basically aerobic building doing long runs, hills for leg strength and then speed. I did hills most of last late Winter, then had to take a hiatus from this to prepare for Hardrock...but when I got back from and somewhat recovered from Hardrock I began to run 200's on the track as a fast forward re-introduction to speed. Before Hardrock I had run several ultra length runs with no problems, but did have a little knee aches and warnings after a 5K I had run here in NH several weeks before Hardrock. I should have listened....

....but I didn't and kept training. Speed on the track, a couple more 5K's and my knee would ache everytime I ran on the roads. Funny thing is when I ran slowly with Deb on trails on the weekend, I had no issues....I should have listened...

Yesterday I planned on running another marathon to see how the progress was coming along. Yeah, my knee was a little sore last week, but did quiet down with the taper. I was running around an 8mpm pace in the marathon and around mile 15 noticed the knee ache. By 18 it was a pain and was getting stiff, by 20 I was noticeably limping and having trouble bending my knee, so at mile 21 I took a right when everyone else took a left and walked back to my car.

Everything has a good and bad side....the bad is I won't continue on this quest to run on the roads fast again. If i do my days as a runner are numbered. This quest for speed at the almost age of 57 (Nov 5th) is ridiculous. It's gone and it ain't comin' back. The good is I now know where I belong and it's back on trails, running ultras slowly because my knee is happier doing that! I should have run the Vermont 50 instead of this knee smashing event. I always enjoyed Vermont...

I'm done for the year...I was going to run the Hellgate 100K in December, but I wisely bailed out of that this morning. It's time to hike and enjoy the trails before Winter sets in, which Deb and I will do....that and get out old farmhouse fixed up to sell so we can move back to New Mexico!

'til next time...

Monday, August 18, 2008

MMD 50K...a big White Mountain weather bust!

This is the story of a 50K attempt in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where we get winter weather and many people have died in August. This is August...the RD has us running on most of the toughest trails on and around Mount Washington, the highest summit in the Whites.

To summarize, the weather would not allow most of the field to continue to the finish....

Deb and I arrived a little late for the 5am start. We pulled into the Wildcat parking area just as the runners (Ha! Run?) were gathering for the start. We got going closer to 5:15 and headed straight up the ski slope with Tim Roy, who also started late. Taking over an hour to get to the top (1.3 miles), we ran into John Dewalt, Craig Wilson and Rick Kerby on the summit and we all started down on the AT together. The trail down was a typical White Mountain trail....very rocky, wet and slippery. On the way down we ran into Paul Meltzer, Hunt Bartine and their friends Jen and Laurie of the Traildawgs.

After the first 5k we reached the aid station in 2 hours and went up the Glen Boulder Trail and after about 20 minutes I realized I forgot to fill my bottles, so had to run back down while Deb and Sue Thompson waited for me. I climbed back up with Craig Wilson, while then the four of us hiked up to above treeline and after we took a short break, John Dewalt caught up to us. Soon We reached the Davis Path and then the Boot Spur Trail down into Huntington Ravine.

Deb and I kept going off trail (We ran down ahead of Sue, Craig and John) and kept running back into those three who were methodically picking their way along not making any mistakes. I think Deb and I were just rushing it too much because we then went off course again going down the Tuckerman Ravine trail about a half mile too far, having to run (or hike) back up to the Raymond Path which took us to the Huntington Ravine Trail. This is where the rumbling in the sky that we've been hearing got louder and the flashes got brighter....soon we were being pelted with pea sized hail, which then turned to heavy rain. It was in the upper 40's...we were getting cold, so kept moving as fast as we could. This picture is of Deb running to keep warm, while I was running trying to take this picture. My map and directions were destroyed by the wet conditions, even though they were in a baggie. Somehow my camera's a Canon.

About halfway up the trail we came upon a rock overhang and again ran into Craig, Sue, John, Rick and with them was Mike Dobies and his friend Pat who were hunkering out of the storm and the lightening. I didn't want to stop because I didn't want to get cold, so Deb and I continued up not knowing what we were about to encounter and everyone followed, somewhat reluctantly, I think.

The Huntington Ravine trail is one of those that I have never had the pleasure of enjoying. It started with VW sized boulders you had to climb over or under, then you had to hike right up through a waterfall. The trail WAS the waterfall and we climbed right up into it! Soon we came upon what the Huntington Ravine Trail is famous for, the climbing of the Tuckerman Headwall, a place where spring skiing is infamous. It is a sheer cliff at maybe a 30 -50 degree slope with hand and footholds (sometimes). As I hiked on, following Craig and Rick, I also looked back at the intensely concentrated faces of the hikers behind. I don't know what the looked described, but some would say fear as they looked up ahead. It took us hours to climb this slick headwall, seen in the picture below, and once we reached a somewhat sane section of trail, the Nelson Craig Trail, the lightening started again and with it the heavy, cold raw rain. In a single file we made our way to the Mount Washington summit building and it's warm food and drink.

When I went into the building I had every intention of going on and filled my belly accordingly with Chili, pizza and hot cocoa...but looking at the faces around me....the shivering hands, the huddled masses, I knew it didn't look good. Outside the lightening struck the ridge, the rain poured down and the fog was thick. As I asked who was planning on continuing with me all I got was blank stares and shaking heads. They were done and if I couldn't get someone to go with me, I was, too. The only person who said they would possibly continue was 73 year old "Guaranteed Tough" John Dewalt, but he had a disclaimer and that was that it might take him another 24 hours (or longer) to do the remaining 20 miles. I couldn't do that, I would get too cold and be in serious trouble....then Deb made me promise I wouldn't go on alone, which I did reluctantly.

After we finished eating, we all put on every bit of soaked clothing we had and started down the mountain on a trail that would take us back to our campground. It took us 9 hours to do the first 12 miles to the summit of Mount Washington and it would take us another 7+ hours to get back down on a rocky, slippery muddy mess of a trail, with many river crossings...but we stuck together and chatted all the way down to take our minds off of the cold and wet bodies. This picture is of the group of 7 that hiked down together. From the left is me, John Dewalt, Craig Wilson, Deb Pero, Pat in the back, Laurie Reinhart and Sue Thompson. Missing is Mike Dobies, Rick Kerby and Hunt Bartine, who went down to the aid station to tell Jonathan we were done and Paul Melzer and Jen Erickson, who went down ahead of us.

That's it....there were 7 finishers... Garry Harrington finished first (he told us that he missed all the weather) in a time of 11:01 (there are no course records because the course changes every year), in 2nd was Jeff List and Brian Rusiecki, 3rd was Andrew Thompson and JB, who finished as we were walking into the campground about 15.5 hours after they started. The final finishers were Jamil Coury and Jim Harris. Just to let you know that Jamil ran sub 24 hours at Angeles Crest, finishing in 5th and he paced his brother Nick to a 5th place finish at Hardrock. Jim Harris' running history most of you know of.

The best part was the friendship, campfire, good food and beer and great war stories around the fire as we waited for Jamil and Jim to come in. Rick and I failed to get our 5 year finisher's Loincloth and beer stein, but we still have our lives and limbs, so I guess it was a good thing to not go on...if Deb and I are still living here next August, I will certainly be going after those again.

Here are some pictures I took during the event...

A big thank you to Jonathan for putting this event on and to Pat and Anke Wheatley for manning the aid stations and watching Tucker for us while we ran and hiked. Also to those who dropped earlier and were manning the stove for us that were out there longer.

On to the next event, which is looking like Hellgate 100K in December. Until then some road races and a road marathon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

2008 Hardrock Hundred Endurance run

Ahhh, Hardrock. Wild and tough! This is it....this is my summit of all the summits, this is what I point towards from the day I return from Silverton. All training, races and rest days point to this run.
Run? How much do we really run? I know I ran all the downhills up until Telluride and even some after that, but the runs gradually became run/walks then a walk faster than I could run. Plus this isn't a race against our fellow competitors, but just a run. The Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run.

Going into this year's run, I knew I had to change something. I finished in 2001, then dropped or got pulled in the last 5 attempts. Something always got me....heat, altitude, injury...this year something had to change, so I decided to put the splits of a 48 hour finish on my hand and stay as close as I could to those until I got over Handies, the big climb at around mile 65. Then I would move as best I could and get it done. All went as planned and I had my best Hardrock I have ever had in the 7 years I've been coming here. Here is the story:

Silverton to Telluride

At the sound of Dale Garland, RD, telling us to go, we started...Kyle Skaggs sprinting off around the corner and many of us just casually walking out of town. Gerry Roach was filming the start and sidled up along side me and I said to him "What's the hurry, I have two days!". I left town in last place, or so I thought....soon Mike Ehrlich came jogging up the road saying something about not being ready to go yet.

The beginning of the run was very uneventful... After crossing Mineral Creek, I walked and talked with many of my friends I've made over the years as we gradually made our way up to Putnam and the first 13'er of the day. My goal was to stay relaxed.... like a stroll in the park. I was trained, acclimated somewhat and rested. Walking up the first mountain seemed much easier than in the past years and I was thinking that maybe my attitude was what was helping me more than anything else. Drink, eat, walk....that was the mantra for this first day of the most difficult 100 mile trail race in the country, maybe the world.

Soon we were at the KT aid station that I walked in with Joe Prusaitis...I grabbed a small sandwich, got my bottles filled and when I got going (in about 5 minutes) Joe was already several hundred feet away from me.

I took many pictures along the way which helped me relax. The climbs felt easy, not like year's past when I was actually trying to race
this thing and soon I was climbing up towards Grant Swamp Pass on the scree trail. In front of me was a struggling Chris Twiggs who has several finishes here. Chris had gone out a little too fast and was in trouble with a sick stomach....I told him I had been there and to relax, maybe even stop and drink nothing but water until he gets his stomach back.

On the final climb up the last stretch I caught up to Kristina Irvin, who also has several finishes here. Kristina is a strong climber and I watch her easily walk up to the top.
When I reach the top there is some activity up there....there was a Mount
ain Goat up there very interested in we runners. I found this interesting because I got on the Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Running Team this year and the Mountain Goat is our mascot. Good omen, I thought.
I take the plunge down the steep scree going by a runner who was timidly sliding on his butt, then rapidly catching another runner who looked not too sure about himself on this steep and loose scree. It was Greg Loomis and I said to him "Come on, Greg, you know how to do this!". At the bottom Greg had tears in his eyes, not those of fear but of overwhelming emotions of what he had just done while being surrounded by the beauty of the San Juan Mountains.

Also sitting on the bottom removing stones from their shoes was Liz Bauer and Scott Brockmeier. Their plan was to stick together for the run, which is always hard. Deb and I don't even try that anymore. They left and soon I was running along with Patty Bryant and Greg Loomis, we eased on down the hill into the Chapman aid station where they couldn't find my drop bag, but eventually did. While getting my water bottles filled, I made sur
e to eat some food and to take a small baggie of munchies with me because the section coming up is one of the downfalls of mine, the Oscar's Pass Road.

Oscar's Pass Road is usually hot, sunny and buggy....also very steep and rocky. Usually by the time I reach the top of this climb I am nauseous and wondering how the heck I'm going to get through this run. I start up the road with Robert Andrulis and he shadows me all the way up as we stop in the shady spots to let the heart rate come down and try to keep this under control. Chuck
Wilson cranks by us with the clickety clack of his climbing poles. I felt like I was in a Star Wars episode with all the climbing pole runners going by.

Switchback after sunny switchback, soon the clouds roll in and we get a nice breeze
. After several snowfield crossings, I am at the top and just keep moving. Other than 2001, this is the first time I reached the top of this climb feeling good. The easy pace helps, but the cooler temps helped too.

At the top you cross a snowfield and head down the Wasatch Trail into Telluride. this is a really pretty trail with water roaring alongside and flowers everywhere. Well, it's usually like that....this year most of the top is snow fields and very wet. My feet are soaked! In here somewhere I come upon John Cappis taking pictures and while talking with him, Greg and Robert catch back up and we ease down the road together.
We jog into the Telluride aid station feeling great. Here I am like a machine....Jean Jacques, aid station captain helps me by getting me a cup of delicious broccoli and cheese soup, which I gulp down, he gets me another then fills my bottles with water in one and my maltodextrin in the other. I refill my baggie of cookies, candy and peanuts for the next stretch.

Telluride to Ouray

I leave Telluride with Rick Hodges, but soon I am with Greg Loomis again as Rick cranks up the steep hill up to Mendota Saddle. This is another really steep jeep road that winds it's way up and after a quick pit stop in the woods, I see Greg waiting for me up ahead. We climb up into the
scree of Mendota and go by a very vocal vomiting by Chuck Wilson. His vomiting echoed all throughout the canyon and mountain walls and reminded me to stay the easy course or you'd be doing that, too.
Soon We reached Kroger's canteen, now officially renamed from Virginius. Chuck Kroger was the initiator of this remote aid station and after finishing Hardrock many times, he passed away from cancer last Winter. Chuck was a true Hardrocker...

We didn't stay here very long due to the cold breeze, but we did put our pants and jacket on for the many snowfield glissades that were coming up.
The aid station volunteer recommended not glissading, but it is still the best way to get down so glissade I go. I wait down the bottom for Greg and we move on to the next and then the
next. One of them is very steep and a little rocky, so I decided to let Greg and Robert go ahead...I wish I had taken a picture of Greg because it was quite funny when he started to go sideways almost hitting the rocks, he shifted his weight and flew down between the rock fields, then lying motionless at the bottom as I came down behind. Man was this fun or what???

We then jogged down the good jeep road down into Governor's Basin aid station and took the time to eat again, even though they didn't have much. It's a long 7 mile road stretch coming up and I told them both that I was not going to run the whole thing and blow up my's too early! So we jogged down and walked all the flats and ups, which weren't many. Joe Prusaitis caught up to us about halfway down. Joe is a great downhill runner and also weighs in the range of 200 pounds, so he just flies. Joe backs off a bit and stays with Greg and I as Robert takes off down the hill. Soon Joe couldn't take it anymore and he goes off after Robert as I tell Greg to relax and enjoy it, we aren't even at 50 miles yet!

I wanted Greg to experience the new section by letting him take the lead into town. We go over a grated bridge that is hundreds of feet above the river, then through a tunnel, then down a steep trail into Ouray. It was great and Greg loved it!

Into the Ouray aid station we go and I tell Greg to fuel up because one of the longest climbs is coming up, plus the first night was here also. I sat behind Greg and had my usual 2 cups of soup while watching him eat his belly full, then wash it down with a large shake. Man, Greg always could eat tons during these events, I'm lucky if i can barely put enough in to get me to the next aid or I'll get sick. Charlie Thorn, Steve Patillo and Bert Meyer help me here and let me know that Deb is within 30 minutes of me....this brings a smile to my face :-)

Ouray to Grouse Gulch

The climb up to the Engineer aid station is the longest in the race, I is also at night (for most of us) and the trail is tricky as it winds along a trail cut into the side of a cliff that is probably 2-3 feet wide and has a 400 foot drop of one edge.

As Greg and I begin the climb he has to stop several times to take care of business and finally he tells me he has to sit for a bit. I was thinking that maybe he has put too much into his gut and he agreed. I moved on
and felt so good that I decided to start my move now instead of waiting until after Handies. I moved quickly up the trail and was passing quite a few of the runners, finally reaching Robert Andrulis again. I told him I was feeling good and he yelled out something about me climbing well as his light disappeared behind me.

As I neared the aid station, I was getting aggravated with all the stream feet were soaked, it was getting really cold up here and yes, I'll admit it was starting to get just a little bit tired. I put everything on I had to try to keep warm and soon could smell the wood smoke of the aid station. I was planning on just passing through but one of the runner's said to me "The Hot Chocolate is the Bomb!" So I asked for a hot chocolate and stood by the fire to keep warm. After 5 minutes, I threw my cup in the fire and yelled "154 out!"

(There are no pictures here because it is nighttime)

I slowly climbed up to the top of Engineer's Pass in the cold wind and crossing the snowfields...wet, cold, tired and it was dark. This sucks....but I finally reach the top and knowing the course quite well, I knew where to go. In front of me was Jack Jewell and his wife and they were a little more concerned yelling back to me asking if they were going correctly. I think maybe we could use some markers up here as there were none whatsoever! I really hate this's all road, it's in the dark, it's cold and it's long....8 miles I think. But soon I see the Grouse Gulch aid station and wander in. This is the lowest I've felt in the run and I slump into a chair and ask for some soup, any kind of soup. We have Handies up next and it the long and the highest hill yet to get over at a little over 14,000 feet. After sitting for what seems like forever with the medics keeping an eye on me, I walk slowly out of the aid station and up the switchbacks to American Basin.

Grouse Gulch to Sherman

I really didn't feel good here, I left the aid station with the now rejuvenated Chris Twiggs and his wife and he looked like I felt. Tired and just a little sick to my stomach. I knew this wo
uld come eventually, it always does....but it's now my place to nip it in the bud and not let it get any I sipped my water and electrolytes to keep the stomach happy, which it did, but I couldn't climb well anymore. The top half of my lungs were burning and any deep, heavy breathing caused the pain to increase. I think this was due to lungs that weren't totally acclimated, the colder air and the dust in the air. I struggled to the top of Handies passing some and getting passed by some. I started here to have doubts about finishing, but knew once I reached the top it would be easy again...relatively.

I reached the top after about 4 hours of climbing and started down, easy at first, but soon I was able to jog off and on and do my half walk/half jog ultra shuffle, which isn't much slower than my jog. Near the bottom of Grizzly Gulch I came upon Larry Hall (Fellow Goat) and his wife Beth Simpson. Larry was seeing double and couldn't move well on the rocky trails. Another who caught me, David Larson, was moving well so I latched onto him and followed him down into Burrows Park and the road to Sherman. This road is always a negative experience....usually hot and sunny with many jeeps and other vehicles kicking up dust in the air and it was no different this year other than the fact that I was feeling strong again and was moving well. Up ahead was Kristina and several other runners who I reeled in, then David recaught me and we ran the shortcut trail down to the road into Sherman together. As David and I walked in together I could hear aid station captain Annette Anthony yelling out my name. She had reserved a seat for me next to her and Rickie Redland. Rickie was moving out, so I sat and talked with Annette about her knee surgery, Deb's progress in the run and my run so far.

Sherman to Maggie

I bid Annette well, grabbed a Popsicle after my cup of soup and moved on up the Cataract Creek trail, a series of switchbacks up to the Pole Creek section of the course. Along the way I climbed up with David Terry initially until he pulled ahead. My climbing still was failing me
, possibly due to living low again. Even though I had come out a little less than 2 weeks before the run, I still think you need a lot more than that to compete with anyone who is fitter or lives higher. This one of the reasons I need to move back to NM!

Up on top I crossed the stream and made my way into the wet swampy ground and willows of Pole Creek and Cataract Lake section. Here David Larson caught back up and after talking I found out that he and David Terry were up with the leaders earlier in the day, but got sick and spent many hours in the tent at Grouse. I do not belong with these great and much faster runners, but this is Hardrock and we are all equals here.

As David Larson and I walked along, we agreed to try to keep up a strong walking pace (about 3 mph) and see how it works. After all 3 mph can get you a 33 hour finish here, right? This was working as we started to pass runners who were also walking or even jogging slowly. First we caught and passed Jack Jewell, then David Terry, then Rickie Redland, then Kris Kern (a friend from NM) and finally on the final climb my VHTRC bud, Keith Knipling, who came out the day before from Virginia. Keith had experienced Hardrock non acclimated in 2001 and suffered mightily and it looked like the same was happening here. I gave Keith a hug and wished him a strong finish.

David and I reached the summit after he asked me to take the lead for awhile and I guess I went a little too hard because I barfed at the top. There was no real nausea or sickness, it was just the Popsicle that had to come up after working that hard. David stopped for a pit stop w
hile I waited and we jogged down into Maggie. From now on I could not take anything else into my had had enough. So all I did was sip tiny amounts of water with electrolytes in it.

Maggie to Cunningham

David and I climbed up and up the steep grassy slope as we left Maggie to the Green Mountain section of the course. This was so steep I (we) had to stop to rest every now and then...then
when we reached the top, David was standing there looking around. It was gorgeous. I showed him exactly where we were going next and which peaks we had to climb and he then changed his goal of sub 40 hours to get in when he can get in.

It was now late afternoon on day two, I am tired( as all the runners still in the race are) and my lungs are on fire. Time to just keep moving forward and get it over with...and try to get into Cunningham before dark. One positive is I know the rest of the course very well, so David falls in behind me and follows. As we reach Stony Pass we come upon a runner who doesn't know the way, so he falls behind David. When we reach the summit of Green Mountain, David asks where the route goes, I showed him and he took off. I didn't see him again until the awards breakfast the next day.

This particular section is really pretty and I feel fortunate to see it as the sun sets and I take several pictures while I still have light to do so.

As I step down the sheep trail off of the ridge on the final descent into Cunningham, I misstep on the narrow foot wide grassy trail and do a split, twisting my knee. OK, Steve, slow down and relax....

I finally make my way down into Cunningham, listening to the cheers for those coming into the aid station before me. It is getting dark and Gary Knipling, who dropped earlier, came out to greet me. He also tells me the sad news that Deb didn't get beyond Sherman...Bummer.

Cunningham to Silverton

As I come into the aid station, Charlie Thorn greeted me and helped me with getting a cup of soup. I filled only one bottle because I wasn't drinking much anymore and walked to the river crossing with Charlie as a guide. He asked if I had plenty of batteries and 2 lights and I said yes, but that I was real sleepy. Carol Gerber with pacer Rock Cogar head out ahead of me...

As I started up the switchbacks, I realized it was now dark enough for my light, so I turned that on. One more section....9 more's 9PM, do I know where my brain is?

No, I don' eyes want to close, my legs no longer want to climb. I take a No-Doz with a tiny sip of water to keep from throwing it up....good, it stayed down. I took 5 steps and stopped and it was like this all the way to the top. A few times I sat down on a boulder and immediately started to fall asleep and woke when I fell backwards. At times the shadows from the clumps of grass or bushes looked like spiders running towards my feet and I'd jump as my tired brain could no longer make any sense of what it was seeing. Other times in the halo of the light I'd see an Aspen trunk and lean on it to find there wasn't one there and I'd fall. This was a would I ever get to the top? I would occasionally look up and see the lights of runners ahead of me, far, far away....I'd look down and see the lights of runners coming up. Surely th
ey will catch me, I'm moving so slow! A really cool sight was looking across Cunningham Gulch at the trail on the other side that I had just come down and saw the lights of the runners who had yet to come into Cunningham, surely worried if they were going to make it in time.
With all the struggling and internal whining, I did finally reach the summit and was never concerned that in the manual it says that if you are going to die from a fall, this is where it's going to happen.

After reaching the summit, the only area of concern is a near vertical slippery slope on the trail where I fell during course marking a week ago when I was fresh. I reached that area and did slide all the way down it, but didn't fall much. Well I did go down but stopped myself with my hands. Now it was just a matter of getting down as quickly as I could with what I had left. I kept looking behind to see if any lights were coming, but none the time I reached the junction where the trail meets the road I counted seven lights near the top. Time to get moving as best as I could. I started to run down the road, looking for that crucial left turn to Arrastra Creek. Down, down down....passing Carol and Rock on the way. I reach the trail and cross the eery looking Arrastra Creek. Now there's no messing around and I put my light on high mode for the flood light effect. Not taking any chances at taking a wrong turn while did help that the No-Doz has finally kicked in!

Every now and then I would see a glimpse of the lights of the sleeping town of Silverton. No time to waste, keep moving....cross the water, right through it, who feet have been wet all day anyway!

There it is, the Ski slope...not far now. I jog down the hill and walk up the road over the river, then past the Wyman Hotel. The town is so quiet....but I know that once I turn down Reese
Street there will be someone who will yell "Runner!" and I'll have to start running. So I do....I take the left turn onto Reese St., run by the Hardrock House where I've been staying the past 2 weeks. Jog down the road towards the light and ....the Rock! Incredibly even though it's nearing 1:30AM, there are still people, family and friends waiting for their runners to come in. I get to enjoy their cheers because I happen to come in before them. I run up to the rock and kiss the top of it, glad to be done. Dale puts the medal around my neck with a "Congratulations, Mr Pero!" and all I can say is "DAMN!".

After a few moments of taking in all of what was surrounding me, I realize that this weekend, this is my moment. No other runners are finishing and everyone is looking at this weary runner who just came in. Hans Dieter, who had come in several minutes before me, shakes my hand with a congratulations. Joyce Prusaitis escorts me into the gym and wraps me in a sleeping bag as I talk with other runners who had come in before me. It was done....Carol Gerber then comes in and we sit and chat. it's over...time to go join my wife, Deb in bed so we can do the long drive back to NH.

As I sit writing this I am still reflecting on what went right...what did I do that made this one seem so much easier. The pace! It's all about pacing that is what I will do in all the coming Hardrocks.

Thanks goes to Dale, Charlie, John, Lois and all the other people involved with Hardrock. Also to all the volunteers who spend hours, days serving us. Also to all my friends who I got to share the trail with....also to my wife, Deb, for without all her cooking the week before the race, we would not have had all of that great food we had.

To see all the photos I took during the run, go here.

Until next year....

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pittsfield Peaks 53 mile trail race

This past Saturday Deb and I ran the above mentioned race...and with all the pre-race hype about it being the "toughest" 50 in the world had me somewhat concerned with it being in June in New England. I am not a good heat runner, everyone who knows me knows this and it's become somewhat of a joke among many of my friends...but I wasn't that worried because the forecast called for sun early, but with cloud cover, some rain and heavy thunderstorms, rain and cooler temps around mid afternoon. Great! We'll be kept warm in the morning by the early sun, then just as the race heats up, we'll get wet and then cooled off! Well, it didn't happen like that and below is the story of the same old, same old for me on a very warm and humid day in the New England Vermont Green Mountains.

For starters, we decided to stay in a local Inn for the weekend in order to not just travel to a race, but to also have a nice time....and that means not camping. So we booked a room in a small Inn about 15 minutes up the road in the Killington Ski area. For night #1 it was not good...the owner had several of his friends over and our room was directly above the closed lounge, but they were in there talking, drinking and laughing until 2am....and I heard all of the conversations. The alarm was set for 3:30, so basically no sleep. I did doze off after it quieted down and maybe got an hour at the most...but luckily I do get plenty of sleep so Thursday night I did get 8 hours, so I was plenty rested even though I felt groggy on race morning. This lack of sleep never affected my race. Night #2 was good because of the post race heavy rain.

We started the drive to the start around 4:20 after having some coffee and a small breakfast and soon as we got parked and settled in, I looked for and found teammate Brennen Wysong and his wife Debra. Taking the opportunity, I asked Debra to take a team photo opp... my camera was acting quirky and many of the early photos came out blurred, but here is that pic she took of the Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Racing Team northeast division. That's Brennen in the gray shirt.

Soon we were off, 10 minutes late and the race began as it would go pretty much all day...uphill! The first half of the course was pretty much very good runnable dirt roads and we all moved pretty well, but all also knew that it was going to be a long day and the course gets harder as you go. Most of the time I was running near or around Paul Kearney, John Lacroix, Jeff Hammond and Nate Sanel. In the beginning we chatted, but in races I mostly like to keep to myself in order to concentrate on the task at hand. Run easy, drink and fuel. I do like to keep things simple and a couple of years ago I switched from using a backpack like hydration pack to wearing a 2 bottle waist pack and settled on the Nathan 2V Elite Plus model because it was designed by an ultrarunner and it seemed to fit much better than any other waist pack I have ever worn. I do like this pack very much and the reason for the bottles vs the back pack type is with bottles I can have two different solutions, one can be fuel while the other, water. Also in some races like Hardrock Hundred, you can and need to get your water from streams and the bottles just make this so much easier. For this race I was using pure maltodextrin in my bottles, which provides me with approx. 230 calories per hour if I drink a bottle an hour, which is what is suggested. Another trick I do is I will take an electrolyte tab like NUUN and drop that in for my electrolytes. Doing all of this helps keep me fueled, hydrated and on top of my electrolytes. Liquid fueling has always worked better for me and as soon as I get my first supply of team sponsored First Endurance, I will try that. This regimen kept my head clear and my stomach quiet and helped me to power up the hills, which worked for the most part....but once the heat comes nothing works but stopping to rest to cool down or dipping in streams.

I also believe in the theory that if you train using a low heart rate method for most of your training, that you teach your body to more easily use the fat supplied in your body. I first learned of this method in Stu Mittleman's book, Slow Burn. I like to sometimes imagine myself as a warrior on the hunt for food...slowly moving across the ground and as the prey tires you eventually wear the animal down. In the race, the animal is the runner ahead of me. If you've never seen it, rent the movie "The Naked Prey" and you will get the idea of what I'm talking about. This imagery helps me to keep the pace down and to stay relaxed all day long, ignoring all the other runners in the race. For most of the day using this method, Paul Kearney and I kept leapfrogging each other, hardly speaking but just acknowledging each other's presence. I found that Paul is a lot like I am, quietly moving through the forest, keeping track of his things to do, pace, fueling and hydration.

As the day went on, so did the sun....the clouds never really arrived, nor did the rain or cooler temps, so by the time I reached the late 30 miles, I was getting a little fuzzy in the head from the heat. Earlier in the day we had rivers that were right alongside to soak my shirt and sit in, but later in the day they seemed to be a long climb down off of the road. I just looked down wishing I could get into one to cool my core, then I'd be fine for a bit. At one point after John and crew had gone by me, I wanted so much to take a dip, but this was near the mile 45 aid station and there was a wedding going on. The river flowed in their front yard and it just didn't seem right to flop in the water, while up on the hill were women in gowns. I don't think they would have appreciated it.

I re-caught John, Jeff and Nate at the aid station just as Paul was leaving and started out with them, but because I was so overheated, I could not take anything from the station but water. Everywhere else I drank several cups of Coke and grabbed a small bite to eat, but no would certainly come back up if I did. We started up into the final section of the course, which John kept telling me was the worst of the race. "Wait until you see this hill" he would say and "after that is the Hell section". On the big climb up out of the aid station, they pulled away from me so easily, I knew I needed some fuel....somehow. So I sat down in a nice shady spot and tried to eat a gel and as soon as it touched my tongue, I emptied my stomach onto the trail, water and all. When Olga Varlamova ran the Jemez 50 Mile race in NM recently, she did the same thing and took a picture of herself just afterwards, so I said "why not?"

So my stomach has gone south and I can't take anything in, but the stomach is empty and I still have many miles to go still. I never really knew how many because at the last aid station the volunteers were telling me 6, but Nate said 9, so I settled on "many hours".

I knew I had to do something, so decided to sit a bit and let my body cool down by not working anymore and it pretty much worked. I was no longer nauseous, it was getting cloudy and I heard rumbling in the distance. I could move OK, but not as fast as I'd like....and there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to take in any gels, so it was water from here on in. I sipped, sipped and sipped some more of the electrolyte laden water and was able to climb the thousand hills that were left, only quite slowly. But before I began climbing and after getting up off the trail, I tuned and saw a skeleton hanging from a tree! Whoa! That skeleton was sitting right over my shoulder the whole time I was there and I didn't know it! My fate?

After what seemed like an eternity and a thousand curses to John, I finally came to the bridge that signaled the final stretch to the finish. My initial reaction was to actually plunge into the river and swim across, but thought that cramps might take over and I'd never get there, so took the fine looking bridge across to the far side. Soon I reached the grass carpet to the finish, but they made us run around the far side of the field and along the trees...and it was here that I heard the runner before me finishing and the announcement that he was 24th place in 12:50. I thought....Hmmmm, if i move a bit, I might be able to get in under 13 hours! (My original goal was somewhere between 13 and 14 hours)...but not before looking back at the hills that I had just left. These hills were killer hills and I didn't want to forget them.

I finally turn to the finish and run in as quickly as my legs would carry me to get under 13 hours...and did finishing in 12:57 in 24th place officially, just found this out and 2nd over 50. One goal that was met is I try to not have anyone older than me ahead of me and that did happen. The incredible 55 year old Bob Mathes, finished in 5th overall!

Man did I feel lousy...After John handed me my finish hammer award, Brennen came over and offered me a beer, but I was not ready for that just yet. I went over and got out of my shoes, grabbed a cup of Coke and sat down waiting for Deb, who I figured would come in somewhere around 15 hours. She was hoping for between 15 and 16...but I could no sooner sit down and get comfortable, and I hear clapping. I look down the field and hear she comes all smiles whoopin' and hollerin'. She had a great race coming in just 20 minutes after me in 13:18 in 5th place in this strong women's field and 29th overall. Deb is 53 year's young and you never would know it based on this performance and the way she came running in.

At this time we are pretty sure that she was the first woman over 50, but have not yet seen the official results.

So it's done....the massacre at Pittsfield, Vermont. This race is tough, but without the heat and humidity and if you are trained properly (which I was) it can be a fast race. On a cooler day I might have been closer to Paul, running around 12 hours, but the heat will always get me and I know that. If we are still living in New England next year, I'll run it again because it is the two things that you look for in a trail race. Beautiful scenery and a challenging course. This gave me I'll add sharing the day with many friends from the start to and after the finish, I could not have asked for a better day.

Certainly this race could not be done without the help of all the aid station workers and the RD and his assistants...yes you, too John ;-) Thanks a bunch I had a blast!
If you would like to view some more pictures I took during the race you can view them here.
There is also a good newspaper article posted here...

As a finale I would like to say that this has put the final cap on Deb and my training for Hardrock coming up 3 weeks from Saturday. We both feel ready and we're on our way. Thanks from the two of us. Here is our final shot standing at the finish line, Deb with her Hammer Award, and both of us with a big smile from the day's events.


Friday, June 6, 2008

Hollis, NH Fast 5K

Yeah, so I am an ultrarunner....and a member of the Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Racing Team. I got talked into running this 5K race that is near my work and several of my work mates were running it, so why not?

The race is billed as a fast "downhill" 5K, which it wasn't really. The race drops a little over 200 feet over the 5K distance and it broke down like this... mile 1 started flat with a short downhill on a tight right turn, but you are in the mass of 700 runners so breaking free is impossible. Then the course takes another right turn and stays pretty flat until about mile 1.5, goes downhill a bit, then flat again. From 2-3 miles is mostly slightly downhill, then it flattens out into the right hand turn to the finish. To me it felt more flat than downhill, but it certainly does give you a faster time than most road 5K's.

Many years ago I was a road racer and I once ran a 5K in 16:32...last year I ran several 5K's in prep for a marathon I ran in the fall and the best I could run was 20:56 on a dirt loop, but somewhat flat. They billed it as a XC run, but it really was a flat dirt road loop in a small park in NH on Thanksgiving morning. My goal yesterday was to try to run under 20 minutes, which for a runner of 56 years old is not an easy feat. Add to that the fact that I have been training for the Hardrock Hundred means that most all of my running has been long and slow on trails. As a matter of fact I have not run fast at all yet this year, just running two 50k trail races and one 50 mile trail race with one coming up next weekend in Vermont. I will add that I did do hill repeats on and off weather permitting from January to May, but with the winter we had here, it was more off than on.

So does slow and rocky and rooty running help one run sub 6 1/2 minute miles on a road? I would think not....BUT!

I ran 19:52. Mile 1 was run in 6:10, mile 2 was run in 6:15 and then I started to tighten up and ran the last 1.12 miles in an average of 6:42 (I missed taking mile 3 split). So I averaged 6:25 per mile. I finished 76th overall, and 5th in my age group of 55-59.
Here are the official results:
76 5/18 M5559 19:52.9  6:25 STEPHEN PERO 56 M 316 JAFFREY NH
It was fun but man, did it hurt! What hurt the most was my lungs....I was coughing for hours and had trouble talking after the race without breaking into a cough. My legs feel fine today, a slight right knee irritation that I've had nagging me since all the road miles over the winter, but that is slowly going away as I run more trail miles. The weather was nice, 60's and off and on drizzle, no wind at all.

Now on to the Pittsfield Peaks 53 miler in Vermont, which claims to have over 14,000 feet of climb...what else could be the best last long run for Hardrock! Wish I could average 6:25 per mile there!


Monday, May 12, 2008

Wapack 50 Mile Trail Race

This one I knew was going to be a difficult one. Out and back 21+ miles each way, then an 8 mile out and back, which included climbing back up and over Mt Watatic twice. Total distance is about 52 miles, total elevation 14K up and down, all single track with many, rocks, roots and Black Flies. If you don't know what a Black Fly is, you've never experienced early Spring in NH. They are a small fly that after landing on your skin, makes a small cut with it's razor like mouth and drinks your blood. Damn little vampires! Soon they'll be gone, but will be replaced with Mosquitoes, which are even worse...New Mexico was nice in that we didn't have to deal with these sort of pests.

Because I train a lot on this trail, I know what I am capable of. My best ever End2End was 4:33 several years ago on a hot and humid my goal time was 13:30 with an out split of 5:30, a return split of 6 hours and a 2 hour out and back final loop. My final numbers were 5:08 out, 5:52 back and a 2:15 final loop. I was well in the zone and kept my head and stomach together all day long by staying the pace, not getting wrapped up in the race up ahead. It worked, almost. I got to the turnaround in the final loop and bonked for the first time all day. I ate a couple of Clif Blocks (yumm, Margherita flavor) and within 10 minutes felt good and was running again. Then it happened again maybe 1.5 miles from the finish and with the steep downhill knew I'd have to eat something or fall down many times, so two more Clif blocks did the trick again....but once they kicked in I saw the final half mile road to the finish, so it didn't really matter....I just looked better coming in ;-)

The best part of the day was being alone in the awesome weather we had. It was about 60 degrees most of the day and the sun did a good job of hiding behind some clouds. When it did come out, I would start to overheat and get a little nauseous, so I'm glad it stayed hidden.

At the start, I kissed Deb and said have fun and started the big climb up Mt Watatic. The whole field (at least the ones who started at 5 AM) was ahead of me, except for Deb who was having a bad day and ended up stopping at Windblown (mile 9). I gradually reeled in some of the runners and ran with Donna Utakis, Jeff List and Jeff Waldron for several miles before nature called and I had to make a pit stop. I figured and was hoping I'd now have the trail to myself for the rest of the day, but soon I saw them right in front of me as they got back on the trail after taking a wrong turn for 5 minutes or so. We soon entered Windblown, which was the first manned aid station and Donna was the first to refuel and get going. I took my time, maybe 5 minutes loading my bottles and getting some more CLif Blocks and never saw them again.

It was now me and the trail....or so I thought. Climbing up the steep Pack Monadnock (around mile 17) I hear some heavy breathing coming up behind was Tim Roy, last year's winner, who started at 5:15 and was catching up to the field.
(Bogie (RD) allowed runners to choose one of three starting times. 4:30, 5 or 5:15...but the cutoffs remained the same).
Tim said hi and chugged on and I was sure he would catch everyone eventually, but ended up calling it a day at 42 miles.

Next up was to see some runners coming my way. I was sure it would be the leader of the 21 mile race, which began several hours after we did at the north end of the trail, but instead it was Bret Sarnquist who was leading the 50 mile. He looked great and not far behind him was Tom Page from Maine. Next up was a pack of 21 milers, then the moving slower 50 milers started to appear.
I saw all of these runners on the summit of the last climb on the way out, so all I had to do was get down and start the return trip. I hit the split in 5:08, about 22 minutes ahead of schedule.
I filled my bottles, grabbed some chips and started back. Now I would see exactly who was behind me and also those who decided to start at the later time. There were a lot more than I expected!

The rest of the day was just great. Coming down off of Pack (26 miles?) I saw a Black and White Warbler doing her dance in front of me on a boulder in the middle of the trail, letting me know that her nest was near and to be careful of it. The next section, from Pack to Temple road is my training section of trail and I know and like it a lot. It was here that I heard the Ruffed Grouse beating his chest with his wings.

Soon I reached Windblown after moving fairly well in the section I knew I just filled the bottles, grabbed some Coke and chips and started up the trail. The Black Flies were now getting irritating and while climbing up the beast of a climb on Barret Mountain (Barret's Backbone) , they would not leave me alone. I tried getting into the stream and soaking my hands and face, but that seemed to make it worse, all I could do was chug up the hill and get into the breeze on top. It was a long climb, very steep and getting hot. I was not having fun right now.

After that climb things started to get better again and I moved well up and over Pratt Mountain and through the Binney Pond section. Now I was making some progress...I am in the last loop section that I have to come back out and do. Notice how positive I was staying....never did I think of stopping at 42 miles, this I owe to my pacing which seemed perfect for my fitness at this time. Coming to the Binney Pond aid station, I see my friend Tom Mikkleson, we exchange greetings, I grab a fistful of pretzels and move on, soon plunging down Mt Watatic to the 42 mile mark. Before all of this it was good to see some of my friends on the final loop getting their race done.

I am running down the road to the turnaround and there's Deb with Tucker (our dog). She obviously got a ride home and had picked up tucker at the Kennel and drove back to cheer the runners on and help with anyway she could. It was good to see her, as it always is.
After the turnaround and the long climb back up Watatic, I see some of my friends returning to get their 50 mile finish and cheer them on. Finally reaching the aid station, Bogie gives his usual wise crack remarks, all in fun, and I go down, touch the boardwalk with my foot and start the 4 miles back. Here is where I had my first crash of the day, got through that and finally made it to the finish. Deb was there waiting....I sat down for a few minutes, but the black flies were so relentless that I said I wanted to go home.

Great race, very good training and I feel like I learned a lot today. Thanks Bogie!

Results and race website are here.

Next up, the Pittsfield Peaks 54 in Vermont in 4 weeks...another tough one.

For Mother's Day, Deb wanted to hike Mount Monadnock...I did and I almost died ;-)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Review of Brooks Adrenaline ASR trail running shoes

For years, maybe from '99 until about 2 years ago, I wore Montrail Vitesse trail shoes. Yeah they were sortof clunky, but they were not that heavy, were comfortable, but mostly protected my feet over the rocks at Massanutten and scree at Hardrock.

Last winter while living in NM, I was in search of a new trail shoe because I had heard that Montrail was planning on discontinuing the Vitesse (I was wrong). In the meantime I was running down in the canyons below Los Alamos in my road shoes, which most are made of mesh uppers to keep your feet cool. These shoes wore out in about 6 weeks! I can usually get 3 months or about 600 miles at least on a pair of trail shoes, but because of the fine grit that all the trails out there are made of, it acted like sandpaper and soon my toes were poking out of the shoes.

I started a search for a trail shoe that did not have a mesh upper. The two shoes I found were the Brooks ASR's and a pair of Adidas. I never wore Adidas, but have worn Brooks as my road shoes off and on over the years. As a matter of fact my very first pair of running shoes were the Brooks Villanovas that I bought back in the mid 70's at a small store in Harvard Sq in Cambridge, Ma.

These shoes really fit the bill...not only did they not wear out in 6 weeks, but they kept the grit out of my shoes completely! They provided me with a roomy toebox, a grippy outsole and some control, which I like. I used these same exact pair as my screwed shoes this winter because they still had plenty of life in them. I'll bet I put over 1500 miles on these shoes and they are still in my "might wear" pile under the bed. I just ordered my 2nd pair about a month ago, have only put about 20 miles on them and wore them in a 50K trail race a couple of weekends ago down near Boston with no problems.

The other great thing is they are not "$100." running shoes, I got these for 75 bucks with free shipping ;-)

Just my input....hope it helps someone somewhere...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Racing Team

I am not one to become a blogger...I've always said that I'd never join the Blogging train, but I decided during my run today that seeing as how I have been named a member of the Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Racing Team, I will do this in an effort to help promote the sponsors of our team.
The majority of my posts will be my daily or possibly weekly running schedule to share with others how and how much I train as I prepare for the Hardrock Hundred 100 mile Endurance run in July.
I will also review products I have used through our sponsors.

The team is made up of a great group of Trail Ultrarunners from around the country. No we are not the fastest, nor are we the slowest....but we've all been around for awhile and are here because we represent a great cross section of the sport. Top Goat is Scott Mason with team co-captain Tim Barnes.
Team Member: