Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Final post

Deb and I last year about to go on a 35 mile run on the Monadnock Sunapee Greenway Trail in Washington, NH.

Back awhile ago when I started writing this blog, it was only because we were asked to be on a running team, the Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Racing Team. One of the requirements was to maintain a blog for the purpose of discussing our training and racing, but most of all to get the sponsors logos and websites out there to the readers. It was a fun time being on the team....I was on the initial team that was formed early in 2008 and Deb was added in July of that year. We were the first of several married couples on the team.

As time goes on things always change and recently the team was suspended until further notice, due to many things that I won't get into. I always felt privileged to be on the team and we did get some minor perks from the sponsors...not so much free, but healthy discounts.

Let's face it...Deb and I are mid to back of the pack and other than age group, we'd not win a thing. I'm going to be 60 in several weeks and Deb's 57, we're not anywhere near the front. I also always felt like I didn't belong on any sponsored team because of that, we had Olga who was winning races and several other standouts, while Deb and I were just and happily in the mid to back of most races.

So without going on and on, I just wanted to say that one thing I've always said was that when I was no longer on the team, this blog would die. I have not been told that we are not on the team, but it's in hibernation, a new roster will be announced next year and I might want to move on. I don't have time to write it and also feel that blogging is sort of bragging about what you have done and I by no means fit that description. So that ends it...

Deb and I at the 2010 VHTRC Ring with the colors on

Several other bits of news is that the Bear is this weekend and no, there won't be a race report here. Deb is not running and had to withdraw from Wasatch due to some issues related to her truck accident back in December, but she'll be back. I will go back to what I did pre blog and just tell my buds how it went by email. At the Bear I will be wearing the blue train colors of my club, the VHTRC...which is what I did pre Goats ;-)

Mount Monadnock, Jaffrey, NH.
Where Deb and I were married in 2001, 10 years ago this October,
fittingly shown in Winter, which it is for most of the year there

On another note, Deb and I discussed moving back to New Hampshire someday and initially I didn't want to think of it, but the more I do, the more I feel that is home. Deb really misses the area, her artist friends and the grand daughters and I wouldn't be unhappy to move back. It won't happen for a few years and may not, but the discussion has begun.

So that's it...life goes on and after this weekend I'll know whether I'm ever running another 100 mile race again, this is what I'm hoping to see before 30 hours has elapsed ;-)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Yes, Speedgoat...that is the one and only above

This year because Deb and I now live in New Mexico, we decided to run the Speedgoat 50K at the Snowbird ski area in Utah instead of the usual MMD50K that we run this time of year. Deb had run it last year because she moved to NM sooner than I had and raved about it. I had my doubts and was convinced that Speedgoat was not the "Toughest 50K in the country" that Karl Meltzer proclaimed. MMD had to be, after all I had finished tied for 2nd at MMD last Summer with Howie Brienan in a time of 12:24 while Deb finished in the back of Speedgoat 2 hours quicker!

Profile of the Speedgoat 50K

Well, guess what? Speedgoat wins! I have run (and am the only one) to have run 6 MMD 50K's, where the course is tougher every year. The name says it all More and More Difficult....but enough of that run (hike), let me get to the subject of this post.

Speedgoat is tougher than MMD! Yes, I said it and told Karl at the finish that I was wrong, his race is more difficult and the only way I can explain the faster time is the 5 mile downhill runnable sections and the reason I am so sore today! Runnable? Well, if you don't mind picking your way through fist and head sized boulders that are strewn about the road.

The climbs at Speedgoat easily match the hardest I've ever climbed and this includes Hardrock. You not only have the long and steep climbs, but also the altitude as this run goes up over 11,000 feet twice! On top of that we had the snow to deal with, which was tough to get up, but fun going down.

Typical Speedgoat climb

On to my race...I started in the back of the pack with my New England friends, Michelle and Kevin to insure a slow start. Not knowing this course, I didn't want to be brazen enough to start out running at a quick pace, then die later on, so we started out hiking, then slow jogging until we reached the first climb.

The course is designed to allow some thinning of the herd so that we didn't get stuck behind a congo line of runners.

Not too bad a conga line

We seemed to climb forever and it felt easy to me, so I hiked past many runners who were not having it as easy. We soon reached the snowfields, which were soft enough to get some good grip with my LaSportiva Crosslites, while watching all of the Hoka wearers, slip and fall. I clawed my way past them and was soon in the Hidden Peak aid station at around mile 7.7. I didn't bother with how long it was taking me because I had no idea where I should be when because this was my first Speedgoat. I just moved at a comfortable pace and made sure I was draining at least one bottle between aid station and eating a mouthful of EFS Liquid Shot every 45 min's to an hour to keep the head in the game.

One of the steeper snow sections

Runners (hikers) coming up behind me

More coming up behind me, showing the steepness of the snowfields

After checking in at the aid station and drinking a cup of Coke, we blasted down the hill to Larry's Hole at 9.9. Because it was all downhill, I barely touched my water, so just ran through making sure to check out.

That's me coming down one of the gnarlier downhills
So steep we needed a rope!

Pacific Mine was next at mile 14.4, which was Roch Horton's aid station and this one was the winner. We were all weary after the near 4 mile downhill run on boulders. On the short road into the aid station, I did a gel, followed by some Gu Crumbles and it picked me up enough to allow me to run almost all of the slightly uphill road into the aid station. It being an out and back, we saw many of the runners ahead of us. Some looked tired, while others looked great.

Roch Horton, captain of the Pacific Mine aid station

Once there Roch said hi and placed an ice water cloth on the back of my neck while I ate some watermelon. He had Popsicles there, but I passed not wanting to dump all that sugar in my stomach after the Gel and crumbles I just ate...I was trying my best to not get sick, which always seems to happen to me in races. I also made sure to grab a Saltstick cap in most of the aid stations I passed through.

Cody climbing up ahead of me towards Larry's Hole

It was warm down in the aid station and now we had a really long and sometimes steep climb back up to Larry's Hole at mile 19.4. The 5 mile climb actually seemed easy, which I shared with Cody from Logan and I made sure to eat on the way up. I went through more gels at this race than at any other, but it was working. I also drank most of my 2 bottles and refilled one of them as it was only a couple of miles to the next aid station. I also grabbed another Saltstick capsule.

The "Grunt"

Up next was possibly the most difficult section of the course...it was a steep grassy slope with no trail, just straight up. Memories of the Putnam and Green Mountain sections at Hardrock were all I could remember doing anything like this. What a grunt up it was...I could feel things in the back of my legs stretching beyond where they had been stretched before. The calf muscles were burning and my lungs were filling and emptying really fast as my body screamed for oxygen at this over 10,000 foot elevation. Once at the top, we got on a nice runnable trail but there was no way I could run, so I hiked along, even the downhill across a snowfield and then up to the Tunnel aid station at mile 21.5.

Looking into the tunnel before running through it

Standing before the Tunnel after getting my bottle filled and eating some more fuel, I took inventory of how I felt and realized I felt pretty damn good with 10 miles to go! As I entered the tunnel, Bryon Powell of irunfar was sitting in the cool shade taking a short break. Bryon has had an incredible summer, running a sub 20 at Western States and then training and pacing at Hardrock during the past three weeks and knowing that he had UTMB in France coming up, was backing off wisely.

I told Bryon that I felt good and it was time to try and make up some time from the climbs and outside of the other side of the tunnel I couldn't find any markers and while standing there Bryon came along and spotted them down the hill and around the corner. Karl, you need some flour arrows there. Bryon and I ran down the road from the tunnel, which had recently been plowed.

Bryon Powell ahead of me on the other side of the tunnel

Again I left Bryon to make up some time and started picking up the pace down the hill, mindful of the course markers. I didn't want to go off course now! Spotting the course markers taking a left off the road, I followed them through the woods and onto the trail that would take me along the ridge back up to Hidden Peak.

It was getting hot in the sun now, but I still felt good. I think doing some training in Albuquerque in the mid 90's since early June has helped and I soon went by a couple of guys that were struggling up the trail. One guy was screaming in pain, sitting on the trail from cramps. This is a tough race!

The ridge to Hidden Peak
The trail went along that ridge-line to the top

On the final climb up to the aid station it was a dusty single track trail, which was causing the front of my shins to cramp a bit. I think this was due to fatigued muscles and not electrolytes, but to be sure and to make the run down as fast as possible, I ate 2 caps and drank 2 cups of Coke once I got there. This was the last aid station, Hidden Peak at over 11,000 feet and mile 26.5.

We now had 5 miles of downhill to the finish. I looked at my watch and saw 1:47, which was 7:17. If I could get down in 45 minutes (9mpm), I'd be able to get in under 8 hours...but I forgot about the snowfields, which were a lot softer now and also didn't really know what to expect once down in the trees, near the finish.

Starting the run down to the finish with Cody ahead

I started to run down hard, right behind Cody and with Troy behind me. We reached the snow and ran through it the best we could and glissaded down the two steep pitches. I stopped to get a great shot of Troy glissading behind me.

Troy behind me glissading down the snowfield

After the snow and a couple of trail sections, we had a great road to run down....I ran as hard as I could and went by Cody and Coni from Switzerland and a runner she was with. I had been back and forth with her all day long. Troy went flying by me and that was the position we held. It was defeating once down below because what I was hoping for was a direct run into the finish, it wound around, up and down through the trees while listening to the crowd at the finish cheer when runners came in. My legs were now shot, but I did all I could to keep running, not wanting to look at my watch. After all, what difference did it make? I was sure I wouldn't break 8 hours and once I crossed the finish line, Scott Mason said "Baaa" and Karl put a medal around my neck, then pointed to the cooler of PBR beer.  I asked my time and Scott said 8:07. Official time is 8:07.53 in 63rd place. There were 297 entrants and 188 finishers, so I felt good about my time and place. One of my goals in races is to not have anyone older than me in front of me, which I succeeded in doing. So next year I hope to get in under 8 hours at the age of 60...

Karl and Scott about to greet my friend Michelle from Ma.

This is a really well run race and great course, it is my new favorite. My fave until this was the San Juan Solstice 50, but I actually think this one might be harder! As I write this I am contemplating whether I'll be able to run today on my still sore legs...it's Tuesday, 3 days since the race and I'm still sore! Awesome!

Karl, you have a winner here, I'll be back...

To see the rest of my pictures, go to this link. https://picasaweb.google.com/ultrastevep/2011Speedgoat50K#
The results can be found here: http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=11805

Now it's time to start thinking about the next race, the Bear 100, which is 7 weeks from Friday. I plan to spend a couple of weekends in Silverton, Colorado doing some training on the Hardrock course to get some finishing work for the Bear, then will start to back off. Deb is going to do some grandchildren visiting in TX and NH, so it'll just be me and the dogs.

So until next post, happy training!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

2011 Hardrock Hundred...or 42!

What can I say....another Hardrock, another DNF. This one really tested me and like my friend Garry Harrington said to me last year after pacing Mike Bur "Wow, I felt like I was in the ring with Mike Tyson. One jab after another, then the knockout punch".

The day started well, as I started out at what I thought was last person to "walk" out of town. After all, most "runners" walk more than 50% of Hardrock, so why not start out walking to keep the heart rate low and not burn up glycogen unnecessarily. I have learned over the years while training per the Maffetone method that the best way to get through one of these difficult endurance events is to get into a fat burning mode immediately, so is what I do. It has worked off and on for me, mostly on since 2004 and I expected it to this weekend as well. I look back and see Roy Heger yelling at me that I'm not last! ;-)

Walking from the start backwards

As we made our way along the beaver pond trail behind the Lackawanna Mine, I noticed ahead of me were Kathy Lang, Jennifer Roach, Marcy Beard and Deb. Perfect! But as the miles went by, I eased my way forward without any effort as the body warmed up, climbing the road up to Dives/Little Giant pass. This is where in the runner's manual it states "Someone could die here" or something like that. Well, I think the more dangerous sections were coming, but more on that later.

Mark Heaphy on the Dives/Little Giant Pass

At the top of the pass, I hooked up with Mark Heaphy for the run down. Thinking back, I now wish I ran down a little easier, but knew that Joe Prusiatis would be barreling down soon and was trying to hold that off as late as possible. Joe usually thunders past in the other direction on the hill down into KT, so this would be the appropriate place and soon I heard the footsteps and ground shake and told Mark he had better step aside. We stepped aside, Joe went by, but soon we reached a conga line of walkers that was impassable with Greg Loomis on the rear of the line, so we just followed behind across the creek into the Cunningham aid station in around 3 hours from the start, which was just about right on for a 40 hour finish.

The creek crossing going in the Cunningham Aid Station

In the aid station, I got my drop bag, which had a gel flask and a chocolate soy milk. I started using this last year and it tastes good, keeps the stomach settled and provided 150 calories, not as much as an Ensure, but too much usually makes me sick. In and out in about 5 minutes, high fiving my buddies and up into the Green Mountain section we go.

Looking back down at the aid station after climbing a bit

Bob Combs coming up behind me

Luckily it wasn't too hot, I seem to remember the last time I ran in this direction that it was hot on the first climb, but today was a cool day. I easily climbed up with Bob Combs behind me and at the top stopped to get some rocks out of my shoes. This was a trick Dennis Herr taught me in 2003...stop every now and then to dump debris out of the shoes, look around and enjoy the beauty, letting your heart rate come down a bit...while sitting there, Rick Hodges and Stan Ferguson hiked past. Once I got going again, I got past Rick and hooked up with Stan. Stan and I stayed together until Maggie aid station.

The beauty of the Green Mountain section

Here I am climbing up in the Green Mountain section
(photo by Jason Halladay)

The Green Mountain section just might be the prettiest section on the route. Green fields, lots of flowers and meadows with majestic mountain views all around. Once up the top of the steep grass hillside, there's some good running until over Stony Pass. You then climb again up Canby Mountain and it was here that Stan and I passed Chris Twiggs, who was dry heaving from the altitude. Chris lives in Florida and always has this trouble, but he's tough, he always finishes!

Stan Ferguson heading down in the Maggie aid station

On the trail down off of Canby, I watched Stan begin to continue on the trail down into Buffalo Boy Mine. I yelled to him to come back and we went the way the route usually goes, but there were no course markers. They had marked it up high to the right to avoid a steep snow cornice on the usual route. Chris came along, plunged over the cornice while we were standing there trying to figure it out and just slid over the edge following Chris. We hooked up with the marked route after going down the hill a little bit. This is where it's both good and bad to know the route. I know the whole route well and rarely look for course markers, but because of this I missed the markers going off to the right up on the top f the mountain. Rick Hodges yelled down to us that they marked the route off a bit.

Chris Twiggs coming up behind me after Maggie aid station

Now on the long downhill into Maggie Gulch, I let Stan go and backed off the pace a bit. I wanted to eat here and did, grabbing a handful of grapes after eating some watermelon, also grabbing a tomato/lettuce, cheese and mayo wrap and ate it on the climb out of Maggie into the Pole Creek section of the course.

One of the poles of Pole Creek, Stan pulling away

Up on this section Stan took off and I climbed up with Chris along the trail and into the Pole Creek aid station. The first rainstorm hit us here and I had to take my jacket on and off several times. Into the aid station, the storm hit harder with high winds, hail and rain. I looked at the table and nothing interested me until one of the volunteers mentioned they had soup. Yeah, soup sounds good! I grabbed a cup of soup, ate it on the downhill and stuffed the cup into my jacket pocket. I think Deb did the laundry this week with that cup still in the pocket ;-)

Jeff List and I did most of the Pole Creek section together

Now we're on the Pole Creek section of the course. I had to be careful of my pace here as it is mostly above 12,000' for several miles and usually hot...so I decided to mostly walk this section, drinking water along the way, hopefully emptying my 2 bottles before we reach Sherman aid. I hiked strong and soon saw a runner ahead, walking. It looked like my friend from New England, Jeff List, who I soon caught up to. I told him that using poles this year must be slowing him down because I can't catch him otherwise. He's a really strong hiker. Jeff and I hiked as powerfully as possible with short jogs on the downhill sections and it again began to rain with lightening and wind coming from in behind us. It was so wet in here, our feet were soaked! But I was still feeling really good and Jeff mentioned that we were on a sub 39 hour pace, which is what he ran in 2009.

Jeff pulling away with Cataract Lake alongside

After going by Cataract Lake, I started to feel the first signs of my Vertigo that I've been getting off and on the past couple of years. What happens is if I turn my head to the right or left or up to drink from my bottle, the whole world spins. It has something to do with crystals in the ear moving or not moving or something. My 84 year old mom has it and I guess I'm getting it to. I talked with my doc in NH about it and he said "Welcome to old age!" Not sure that was the right answer to get, but I'll look into it further. One day on a training run about a month ago with Deb going up Santa Fe Baldy, I fell three times in 10 minutes and though it was the dogs getting under my feet, but thinking back I remember being dizzy that day and many times when I go to bed I get the spins when I lie down, so this isn't something new to me...just something new in a race.

So I let Jeff go and again saw Stan up ahead, who Jeff eased by just before the creek crossing. This was about the location of Deb's poster. At the creek crossing, the water was flowing fast and the ledge under the water was slick, so I walked along the log for a brace in case I slipped.

Dropping into Cataract Falls section

Cataract Falls
You don't want to slip and go over this

As I started to jog down the hill, my vertigo kicked in again, so I walked down the long switchback trail into the Sherman aid station, about mile 25. As I did Mark Heaphy and Kris Kern ran past, I walked on. One year I ran down this with Jeff Wilbur and was wasted in the Sherman aid station, puking my way up Handies...so this year I eased down , mostly walking due to the spins and got into the aid station with my drop bag dumped out on the table for me. I again wanted some calories before this long 13 mile section over Handies Peak, the one 14,000' peak. So I drank my soy milk, had a little bit of mac and cheese and washed that down with a cup of soup. I stayed here for awhile to let the vertigo settle down, along with my stomach, which the vertigo causes to be a little nauseous. By the time I left the aid station after talking some pictures, I completely forgot about the dizziness, felt good and hoped it was gone for the day.

Me fueling up in Sherman

Roger Wrublik leaving Sherman ahead of me

As I left the aid station with Rodger Wrublik in front and Robert Andrulis in behind, I was feeling good now and cranked up the trail. Rodger stepped aside saying I was climbing better than he was. Nearing the top, Ken Ward went by my and I mumbled something about getting old, but once up on the road I reeled him in by off and on jogging and also caught up to Mark Heaphy and Chris Twiggs at the Grizzly Gulch trail head up to Handies Peak. Looking back I probably pushed this section too hard, but it felt easy. Should have worn my HR monitor, which I'll do at the Bear in September like I did last year.

The dusty Burrow Park Road
My last photo

As soon as I started up, I felt the dizziness return, so sat on a log to dump out my shoes again and while doing so Marcy Beard cranked on by. Man, she looked strong as I was starting to feel weaker. So while sitting there I ate some Gu Crumbles and polished off a bottle of water. Again as I started I felt dizzy, so tried to walk up the trail without turning my head to the side and when I took a drink from my bottle, I tried to not tip my head up much. Several times I fell to the side, losing my balance and had to sit down for a bit. Up near the top Rick Hodges, then Robert Andrulis went by. When Chris Twiggs went by I told him to let the aid station know I was having some vertigo, but would be there as soon as I could. I knew they'd be wondering when I wasn't there in the right time. Roger came along and we hiked up the final climb together, he again let me lead and Chris and Bob Combs were taking breaks behind us. The weather was moving in with lightening, high winds and rain, so I put my jacket on...all my really warm clothes were in the next aid station, Grouse Gulch.

Handies Peak up ahead
(Bill Geist photo)

Once we reached the summit of Handies, my fellow runners made sure that I would be alright and I told them to go on with their races and I'd be in the aid station as soon as I could get there. This is where the fun begins!

That bowl in the center with all the snow is American Basin
(Bill Geist photo)

The steep trail off of Handies
(Bill Geist photo)

The snowfields on the other side of Handies were crumbling from the rain and every time I stepped into a footstep, it broke loose on the downhill side of the hillside, causing me to fall and with the vertigo, keeping my balance was near impossible. I immediately turned my light on, even though it was still daylight, in case I did slip down one of the snowfields and could be rescued. I tried running down the loose dirt of the mountain, but was slipping and couldn't look down without the world spinning. The trail at the top was very steep and loose and all I could do was walk while my buds ran off down the trail. After several snowfields I was in the bowl that was the American Basin section and all the way to the top of Grouse-American was snow and most of it was walking alongside a hill at an angle with the snow breaking free with each footstep. The conditions were not good and getting worse. Next up was a flash of light and a boom right above my head. The flash caused the snow to light up brighter than I'd ever seen. There were three flashes and booms, followed by heavy hail.

What it felt like was above me

The clothing I had on was two thin nylon shirts, one long and one short sleeve, a pair of nylon shorts and my Marmot Precip jacket. The jacket was the only thing really keeping in any body heat, but the muscles were starting to clench into shivering and if I didn't move quicker would be shivering. I looked up and saw no lights, I looked back and saw a few a ways back, it was now dark. All I saw ahead of me was a steep snowfield that seemed to go up unending, but knowing the course, I knew that there was a top to this and it would be sooner than later. I was having trouble finding the course markers, but just walked up where I knew I needed to go....more flashes and booms, hail bouncing off my head and bare legs. I had my hood up, tied tightly to keep in some heat and walked up as hard as I could. I also put my aluminum Fenix flashlight inside my jacket sleeve with the front peaking out, worried about a lightening hit.

This is very similar to the snowfield we had to traverse

I soon reached the top and followed the course markers over the top and down the steep scree trail, luckily the vertigo wasn't bothering me right now. I saw a figure in the dark ahead walking down the trail with no light. I thought bear, but it was a runner I caught up to who hadn't gotten his light out yet, he did and followed me down the rocky trail. A couple of nasty snowfields to go down that had no footsteps anymore, so I stepped to the side of them and side stepped down to not slip, fall, get wet and cold. I was exhausted now...and the aid station couldn't come sooner. Once I got back on the trail, me and my now trail companion had two creek crossings that I knew would be raging with all this rain and melting snow. The first one wasn't bad, but the second one was just scary to look at. The water was roaring down the side of the mountain, hitting some boulders and flying up in the air right where we had to cross. I stopped to evaluate my choices and there was only one, right through the middle. I told my companion behind me that I was having vertigo issues and to watch to make sure I kept my footing. I stepped into the water, making sure I braced my foot against a boulder downstream in order to not slip and then jumped across with the water hitting me on my side, pushing me onto the trail, instead of down the waterfall. I looked back to make sure he made it across, I let him by and continued down the now switchbacks.

Yeah I still had some dizziness, the trail was moving not only underneath my feet, but also every now and then it would go sideways and I'd almost fall. WTF!

I got down to the road and into the aid station, they asked if I was alright, I mentioned the Vertigo and they had been waiting for me. Seems that when it was mentioned that a runner on Handies had vertigo, they were discussing a rescue down in Silverton, but the docs at the Grouse Gulch know me from all my years of running this and after talking with Chris Twiggs felt like I'd make it down safely.

I got in the tent, they insisted I lie down and asked what I thought. I mentioned that I was concerned about going down the Bear Creek trail (a shelf trail cut into the side of a cliff with a 400 foot drop to a river) in this condition and thought I should stop rather than put anyone in danger. They were hoping I'd agree to that decision.

The Bear Creek trail
Not a good place to be dizzy

So my race was over....another Hardrock failure. What does it take to get through this run? I did all the training that I knew I needed to do in the past 6 months (averaging well over 50MPW), I was living at 8100' and regularly going above 10, 11 and 12,000' in training with Deb. My weekly training in Albuquerque in the 90's had me heat trained, but that I didn't need this year, I never felt hot at all. I was hoping that Deb stopped at Sherman so that she wouldn't have to go through what I just went through on Handies...turns out she was right on the other side of the mountain coming up, going through her own struggles with the weather, along with Joe Prusaitis, Greg Loomis, Marty Fritzhand and Rick Pearcy, who got really hypothermic.

Once done I was able to get a ride into town by Chris Twiggs' parents along with Jeff Heasley, there was a lot of shivering in the heated jeep. Thanks for that ride!

Now I look ahead to next year...should I try again? Initial thoughts say no, but that always changes in time. I'm thinking I can always enter and if I don't get in, the decision is made for me, if I do get in I then have 6 months to decide.

I'm now in the process of recovery....42 miles at Hardrock takes more out of me than most completed 100's. That was 42 miles in 16 hours! 16 hours of climbing and descending, battling the cold hail and rain and fighting with the spins. I'm also going to have this vertigo checked out, because if it continues, Hardrock will not be attempted again...it's just too dangerous and I'm putting others at risk if I had to be rescued.
I've been running Hardrock since 2000 in one form or another and these were the worst conditions I have ever seen. One of the officials said they were the worst conditions since 1997.
Several people have asked if I am disappointed, but really neither of us are because Hardrock isn't about the race....it's about the 2 weeks spent with our Hardrock family doing the course marking, marching in the parade, watching the fireworks. I could not have asked for a better vacation. Besides, what a great training run for the Bear! :-)

So in three weeks Deb and I are running the Speedgoat 50K and in 9 weeks, the Bear 100. Deb's running Wasatch in 7 weeks.
Our forests in NM are closed, so there will be no trail training until those open again and that won't happen until the monsoons come. We may occasionally go up to Colorado to do some long runs, it's only a 4 hour drive.

So that's it, Hardrock is history. The weather caused 60 runners to drop from the race, the officials feel lucky that they had no casualties and could easily have had some if the field of Hardrock weren't so well accomplished in running mountain in all kinds of weather, this is one of the reasons for the strict qualifications.

I did take some pictures until the vertigo got worse after Burrows road and those can be seen here:
If you back up to my album you can view the photos I took during course marking and also some videos of the fireworks on July 4th from the Avon Hotel back porch. Great memories :-)
For complete results go here:

For shoes I wore my LaSportiva Crosslite 2.0's. They had good grip, but the comfort went away after about 20 miles. I was going to wear the more cushioned LaSportiva Quantums, but the wave sole would not have worked on the snow.
For fuel I started with some EFS Liquid Shot, which I used to compliment the food I was eating. That and my chocolate Soymilk that I put in all my drop bags. I need to eat more during these events, but just can't or I'll get sick so I'm always on the edge of bonking.
Socks were Drymax Trail Lite, I love these socks.
Nathan 2 bottle waist pack
Fenix LD20 handheld was my light with a Petzl Tikka plus as a backup.

As for Deb she was recovering from a truck accident from back in December and was having some issues still, but felt ready to give it a go. The weather is what knocked her out, not the injuries. I think the weather knocked out the majority of the 60 runners who did not make it to the finish.

See you on the trails!

Monday, June 20, 2011

San Juan Solstice 50 mile....year of the alternate course

Yeah...alternate course. Many of us were thinking...easier, not going up over 13,000 feet, less snow, most likely personal bests on this "easier" course. Well, it was anything but! The consensus of most runners, including David Coblentz, who has run this 10 times, that this alternate route was for sure more difficult. Look at the profile above.

David Coblentz, Brian Crone and Tom Stockton from Los Alamos, NM.

The race went pretty much as planned for me eventually....but I sortof got pulled into an early quick pace for a couple of reasons. One, as we ran through the streets of Lake City heading to the trails, I noticed I was breathing quite hard at this elevation of 8800+ feet, not what I was expecting after having lived at 8100' for the past 5 months, but running along with Bogie I was charged, felt great and ready to roll. We powered up the first climb and once was able to, I dieseled up ahead of many, with a complaining Bogie all the way to the top ;-). Then after we crested the first climb and started to run down, I saw a bunch of chatting runners coming out of the woods to my upper right and I could see that the course markers were clearly going down through a field to the left. Immediately after merging with these runners, I got sucked into their pace and saw Charles Corfield directly in front of me. We started to talk (Charles would normally already be well ahead of me) and I learned that they went off course for about a half mile. Once at the bottom of a way too fast downhill, I stepped aside and saw Tom Stockton fly by me, too. Poor Tom got sucked into the herd that went off course, too. Then as we were running down another hill, we all almost went off again, until Tom caught the right turn into the woods and up a small hill. We all ran into the mile 11 aid station together.

Christine Coblentz and Marge Stockton were a lot of help during the day
They took this photo of me
Me showing my new Wasatch Speedgoat skin

Next section was possibly the most difficult of the race. It was an 11 mile loop that started with a steep 4 mile  climb from below 9000' to above 12,000'. I was climbing up with a great group of runners and made several new friends as we talked and chugged up the climb. At the top the climb seemed to double in steepness for the final 100 yards to the point that traction was difficult! But we were rewarded with a wonderful ridge run that led to a much too fast 4.5 mile downhill on a dirt jeep road. At the bottom of his downhill run was where I decided that things were going just a little too fast with Hardrock less than 3 weeks away. Time to back off and back off is what I did, all the way to what felt like a Hardrock pace. Walk anything that resembled an uphill, jog and walk any flat sections and jog easily down the hills. This decision was made after coming into the mile 22 aid station feeling a little fried with legs starting to feel it, much too early for that!

Running across a snowfield near the 12,000+' summit

Awesome ridge running up high, this was the highlight of the day

Annette up ahead, 7 time finisher!

From there we entered the section we all dreaded, the road section around Lake San Christobal. What made that section enjoyable was the awesome views all the way around the lake. What made it bad was all the vehicles going by and kicking up the dust. Most of this section, which must have been around 7 miles long, I just got into a rhythm of walking/running until it was over. While walking one of the uphill long stretches, Scott Eppleman of Texas came flying by us. He had gone off course for about 2 miles and was now trying to get back to where he should have been in the field.

Lake San Christobal with Sunshine and Redcloud in the distance

This was the river we were running alongside, it was rough and fast
Glad we didn't have to cross the rivers this year!

At the end of this road stretch, we had a small aid station where I sat down and dumped some rocks out of my shoes. I needed this short break because this was climb #3, which rivaled #2 in that it was long, steep and went up over 12,000 feet. The early fast pace was starting to take it's toll and my tummy wasn't feeling too good all of a sudden, so I took 2 electrolyte caps with some water and ate a package of Honey Stinger chews. Most of the day I had been consuming First Endurance EFS Liquid Shot, but didn't think I was going to get any more of that down, so had to try different things now. The climb didn't seem as bad as the last one after mile 11, but man it was long...and as we neared the top and got on the Colorado Trail, I was starting to hurt from the altitude, getting a headache and breathing real hard. The headache was mild, but close to the one I got up on Santa Fe Baldy (12,600+') last weekend. Guess I'm still not acclimated with only 5 months under my belt of living and training at altitude.

Up around 12K for the 2nd time, this time around 30 miles or so

Some of the views up here, which were incredible

Breathtaking country

We reached the Divide aid station at around mile 35 and I sat down and had some soup for the first time. Good Ramen noodles, washed that down with a cup of Coke and headed out. I was there for maybe 5 minutes only, I don't like spending much time in aid stations, it can be your undoing. I headed out and remembering this section from when I ran this in 2007, it's a long time up high on a rutted jeep road. It wasn't a fun stretch, but the reward at the end of it is a general downhill to the finish.

The road to Slumgullion, it went on and on...

There was another small aid station before we reached the start of the downhill and I just grabbed a couple of cups of Coke and kept going. Before I was at the start of the downhill I heard a call out behind me and looked back to see Jody, my Wasatch Speedgoat teammate coming towards me. At this point Jody should be well ahead of me, so I knew something had gone wrong and sure enough, like many, she went off course. I will add here that the course was well marked, more of us did not go off course than did. It's easy to just follow the runners in front of you, especially when you're starting to feel tired and I'll bet this is what happened to these runners who went off. Jody and I hung out for a bit, as we began the rocky downhill, but I told her to go on because I needed to back off for Hardrock, can't even pound the downhills like I usually do. She went on and I didn't see her again until back at the house after the race. She finished about 15 minutes ahead of me.

Jody coming up from behind

At the bottom of the hill is the Slumgullion aid station at mile 40. Here I again sat down and had a cup of Ramen, followed by a couple of cups of Coke. I then asked to have Coke in one of my bottles to help fuel these final 10 miles because there were no more gels going into this tummy! What I forgot was to get ice in the bottle, warm Coke = yuck! But I did sip it to keep the stream of calories coming in because coming up was difficult climb #4!

Controlled mayhem at Slumgullion, mile 40.
Jerry Gray, RD in the gray cap and red shirt observing

Once leaving the aid station, it goes downhill for a bit which I couldn't run much of because my bottle of Coke kept popping open and spraying sticky sugar on me. At the bottom of the hill you have a somewhat difficult stream crossing and several areas where you had to go across some dirt hills, not on the top, but on the side. I was hoping there'd be no cramps, because it would be disaster here. At the side of the dirt hill I came upon a woman who had no idea what to do, so I scrambled across it pushing against some trees to keep from falling down the side of the hill into the woods and said "There you go, that's how you do it!" She wasn't impressed ;-)

After that the climb began through a beautiful stand of Aspens and I just had no climbing left. I was barely moving, but kept putting once step in front of the other. One guy slowly went by me and mentioned that he was going full throttle, but then I noticed I was gaining on him. It was comical because here we are yo-yo-ing back and forth and we were probably moving at 1 mph ;-)

The Aspens took my mind off of how lousy I felt during this climb

Near the top of the climb I heard Bogie behind me. Bogie and I had started together, but when I had to stop to make a pit stop early after the first climb, I lost him and figured I wouldn't see him again, but guess what? He went off course and was now catching this slow slug. He asked what my plans were and I told him #1 priority was to not get hurt or too beat up for Hardrock and he asked if he could join me, so we did our easy walking jogging thing talking all the way about many different things.

Bogie at Vicker's aid, mile 46

This sign at Vicker's was good to finally see

We soon came to the final aid station, Vicker's at mile 46, got some ice in my bottle of now half gone Coke and moved on. Time to get this thing done! 

Goodbye to the views
Hello to Lake City !

First sighting of Lake City since 5am...

I remembered this section from 2007 as being a pleasant rolling downhill until the last bit of trail, which is really rocky and easily a place you can get injured if you try to slam it. In 2007 I did fly down it and ran hard through town, but this year I was being very careful, so just jogged down the trail with Bogie in tow...once we hit the road into town we ran a  little harder, but then once we reached the paved road that is ever so slightly uphill, we walked. I saw a guy jog by us that looked like he was in my age group, was tempted to go after him but laziness took over and I really just didn't care at this point. Turns out he took 3rd in my age group of 55-59, so I could have easily had a small slice of tree if I wanted it ;-)

Bogie and I crossed the finish line together in 13:34, two minutes faster than I ran it in 2007 when I did finish 3rd in this same age group. This was done with several handicaps...a more difficult route, less time living at altitude (5 months vs a year in '07) and having gone out too fast, which usually crushes me in a race. So all in all good and I'm on track for somewhere around 40 hours at Hardrock. It's a common known thing that you generally triple your SJS50 time to get an approximation of your Hardrock time.

Awards ceremony the next morning is always a good time

Yesterday I really felt lousy, my stomach was messed up and my legs felt really beat up, but last night I had a steak, some ice cream and a couple of Guinness and all is well today. My legs feel a lot better and I'm ready for the big dance. The highlight of the weekend was getting a text from Deb on the drive home that I got into Hardrock. Happy Father's Day it was! :-)

Up next!!

Shoes: La Sportiva Crosslites (feet felt beat up a little after the run, but are fine today)
Fuel: 4 flasks of 1st Endurance EFS Liquid Shot, one pkg of Honey Stinger chews, maybe about 5 electrolyte caps (not enough), several cups of Ramen and lots of Coke.

To see the rest of my pictures go here: 

Results will eventually be posted here:

So now it's on to Hardrock! Until next time...