Monday, June 21, 2010

2010 Lake City 50 - San Juan Solstice 50 Miler

i got what i came for.

the san juan solstice 50 miler (formerly lake city 50) takes place in the same mtns and terrain as the venerable hardrock 100. i aspired to be accepted to this race one day (so far 0 for 3 attempts). the sjs50 is widely considered a "mini-hardrock" at just 1/2 the distance. the race is 50 miles of san juan mountains with 13,000 feet of vertical gain. it features an amazing(ly hard!) extended portion on the continental divide, above13,000 ft.  i've never run that high before.

this race was on the calendar as a training race, a C race.  leaving my belongings in storage in salt lake city i headed to moab where i stayed with montrail's wonderkid dakota jones(pictured below).  we quickly realized we were doing the same trip which included the san juan solstice 50 miler and some fun in colorado on our way to denver.  from denver we were both flying to pace/crew at the western states 100 miler.  i'll have to write another blog on the colorado eurovan adventure with young money.  it's been a blast, but for now i'll stick to the san juan solstice 50 race report.

since arriving in the colorado mountains i'd been suffering from fatigue.  i was tired all the time.  i took this as a sign that i was acclimatizing.  "we were now at real altitude" i thought, and my body just needs time to get used to it.  the research shows that you get stronger every day you are at altitude.  that is contrary to the belief that you can show up the day of the race and "trick your body" into running well.  i'm aware of no reasearch to back this notion up (please provide if you are).  either way i had 3 days to get situated, and it was clear that wouldn't be enough time.  my body has never spent any time this high.  lake city, colorado is at 8,700 ft and i was more tired and asthmatic than normal.

5am the gun goes off and we run up mill creek from the park in lake city.  it's kinda dark.  i'm in the front pack with darcy africa (who won the women's race), dakota, scott jamie and ryan burch are right in front of us with gary grellin pulling off the front.

the race features two 4,000 foot climbs right off the bat. the first climb sucked.  i mean i have never felt this weak, this bad.  i could not breath.  i was being passed by everyone and their cousins.  i counted two women and likely 30 other people in front of me at the 1st aid station about 1hr and 3,000ft into the first 4,000ft climb.  my spirits were low.  i thought about dropping out for a moment.  then snapped out of it.  that was ego talking.  i thought, "i'll come back tomorrow and finish the portion of the race i didn't do today".  but that was one of the stupidest thoughts i've ever had in a race.  i was here, afterall, to train.  if i just kept running i'd have the best, supported training run of my life.. with full aid stations!  the ass kicking i was getting was exactly why i signed up.  it's just sometimes hard to embrace that.  once at the saddle, the views were amazing.  that was all i needed to turn the attitude around.  i started to just enjoy being out there, knowing it would be my hardest training session of the year thus far.

on the way down i passed almost all the runners that had passed me on the climb.  i was probably in 6th place now and feeling much better.  the second climb started up a dirt road and i ran that with dave phillips, who had won the race the year before.  my climbing ability was non existent, so as it started up the second 4,000ft climb he slowly pulled away.  two more runners caught me on that climb.  by the time we had reached the continental divide at 13,300ft i had caught back up to having them all in sight.  the four of us then had fun race  and passing and pushing each other on the continental divide.

from there i raced pretty well, conservative, or ah... scared really, until i could smell the finishline.  i was pleasantly surprised with my downhill ability.  charging down into slumgullion aid station i passed a couple more of the guys i had been battling with.  in the end i accomplished my goal of finishing under 10 hours and it was hands down the best training session i've had since returning from injury. almost immediately after i finished my lungs became inflamed and i had a lot of trouble breathing.  hard effort in the high country will do that i suppose.

darcy africa ran a great race and won the women's race in 10hr 13min.  the real highlight of the race however was young money running 14mins off (the altitude mutant) matt carpenter's record of 7hr 59min.  this kid has some serious talent... amazing run dakota!  congrats. 

2010 San Juan Solstice 50 Mile Results
here is a cool video that vicky from montrail put together. the 1st shot is dakota flying thru an aid station. wow.

Montrail Rockridges
Teko Mini Crew Socks
Rudy Project Ekynox Sunglasses
nuun Electrolytes
Clif Shots

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pocatello 50 Miler 2010 - Run or Die

if you stopped running, you would die. i couldn't feel my hands, or my arms. the t-shirt i had on was soaked from the rain down low. i can't remember a time when i was this cold, and i've gotten frost bite on my toes backcountry skiing before. i have been in similar, and frankly much worse weather conditions. but in those instances i was wearing more than just a t-shirt!

ok rewind to friday, which was like an ultra family reunion at the sign in for the pocatello 50 miler. jared and ryan put on such a great race the year before that pretty much every runner i knew for 1,000 mile radius was there to run either the relay or the 50 miler.  that included my good buddy and fellow montrailian sean meissner.

the race started at 6am. it was in the 30s and kind of threatening to rain at that point. i had my jacket but handed it off to my lovely assistant linda barton one minute before the start. not a smart move. the start was as expected.. nuun ultrarunner luke nelson blasted off the front, joe grant following him with a few of the relay runners in the mix as well. i was content to keep them in sight for a while.

had you asked me before the race i would have said that scott jamie, joe grant, luke nelson where going to battle, with nuun ultrarunner karl meltzer pulling away for the win as it got more technical. as i got up and started to get ready karl emerged from his truck and said he wasn't running today. his ribs hurt too much. probably the best decision he could have made.

back to the race... by my math i came through the first aid station 1-2 minutes behind luke, joe and scott. i could see them just up ahead of me, i was in 4th overall. i was well within my ability, not pushing any anaerobic numbers on the heart rate and feeling very confident. as we got to the first climb i noticed the carcass i had heard jared and luke joke about. it acted as a sort of confidence marker. i was in fact off course the second i looked down slope at the carcasss, rather than up slope at the markers going up the bushwhack section of the course. i ran out the trail that along the river for a few minutes. i started to think about what luke said "if you don't see a marker in like 100 feet you are going the wrong way". realizing i might have gone the wrong way but convincing myself i hadn't see a red marker indicating that i was off course. eventually i freaked and ran back cursing as i went anaerobic to get back on track. looking at my watch i had wasted about 8-9mins.

i could see jumpin jay aldous up ahead of me (one of the talented runners & bloggers on the MRC site). i focused on power hiking the bushwack and caught up to him. pulling away from the others below. we hit the false summit and continued up. i remember what roch had told me and followed the barely visible streamers to the left, then to the road where i picked the pace up a bit. jay told me later he had to "regroup" at the top. i ran alone on the road and missed a right hand turn that dropped you down to the 17 mile aid station. i ran a bit more vert then started to drop down following the main road. i came to a gate with no flags on it and knew i was off course... again! back on track i then passed trevor and then jay again.  i ran into the aid with station with ajw and host of others hot on our tails.

the aid station wasn't very good for me. i had told jay "i'm not going anywhere without my jacket", knowing the last climbe as another 1,000 ft higher than the first one. there were loads of people blocking the aid station when i ran in. i started to go the wrong way. i got a bottle and a thrive ball and headed out. problem was i had no fuel, no jacket and no thought process and hadn't dropped my trash. total shit show really.

after running uphill for a minute i realized i had no fuel. i ran back to the aid station and grabbed gels from the table feeling pretty stupid. on the climb i realized the extreme cold had sapped a bit more energy from me than expected. even though i had eaten as planned, i was bonking. maybe it was the extra urgency i ran trying to make up lost time, who knows.  having not grabbed any nuun i was now onto my emergency electrolyte pills. of course i dropped them in the mud. i then decided to walk a bit and get my head straight. a few friends passed me at this point. one was jay who said "you didn't grab your jacket!". at this point i was too far to go back for it.

the next climb i tried to recover a bit. in the process i got passed by a couple runners. i was still in a t-shirt! so i was focused on regrouping and getting ready for the last and biggest climb of the day. as the aid station approached and the terrain flattened out i started to feel good. down into the 2nd major aid station i passed a couple of runners. this is where the race ended however. jared and ryan had some unprepared folks getting hypothermic on the ridge. jared actually esported a couple of people off who he thought "wouldn't have made it". wow. really with the storm it was almost impossible to follow the course markings. jared is such a bad ass that he wouldn't have cancelled the race if he didn't absolutely have to. i was disappointed but i understood.

as i write this a whole week and a half later my forearms and thumbs are still a bit numb. the nerves have not returned to feeling "normal" after being frozen during the race.

all in all a great experience and a great training session. i had a side bet with sean meissner.  i think he needs a porn mustache to go with his pink vest, but it looks like we'll have to wait until next year to settle the score (if none of that makes sense click here).