San Tan 50K - February 4th, 2012
Am I even wearing shorts here??
My first "race" since the Cascade Crest 100 last August...I've been running but haven't raced anything since then. With this race being the only race I've ever dropped from I didn't want to miss it and going into it I felt really strong, fast and ready to "race" a 50K versus simply finishing through a dismal last ten miles suffering to the end. Jay had me convinced to shoot for a 4:30 finish despite never beating 5:36 in a dozen previous 50k's...so that's what we went for.
That's a 4:37 min/mile pace photo...that's called "proper pacing."
Three ten mile laps make up the course with a steep out and back on each one totaling 4,300 feet of climbing total. We shot for a goal of 90 minutes per lap and after one lap we were 3 minutes ahead of pace. Wearing the Minimus 110's for the first time for a run over 20 miles (see: stupid) the second lap was less fun and my feet really started to feel the pounding after 15 miles. Luckily I had my La Sportiva C-Lite 2.0's ready at the start of lap 3 and I told Jay to go ahead as I changed my shoes. I was still on pace going into lap 3 but running solo I struggled to maintain a 8 minute mile pace and was soon passed by Paulette (this is the last time she passes me I swear...ok, I can't back that up. She's fast) and then Chris Fall from Tucson. Getting passed when you're feeling down always sucks, drags you down but at the same time brings me back from feeling like garbage because I got so pissed Chris passed me I picked it up going into the last climb. My feet and calves were trashed from the 110's (extremely regrettable choice) going down the last two hills but I got a boost seeing Jay and the others on both the out and backs and knew that I was assured at least my place in the top ten and finished the mile strong, albeit cramping so bad I nearly collapsed at the finish.
Is that a Mogollon Monster 100 Shirt? Yes...yes it is.
In the end I finished in 4:54, a personal best in the 50K by 42 full minutes. I guess I could be disappointed by missing my "goal" by 24 and really struggling the last lap but it's still a good improvement and gives me at least an idea of where I stood and stand before Mesquite Canyon.
The event itself was a lot of fun, much more fun than last year when I was sick. I really like the course itself and realize more and more how much I love out and back courses and seeing other racers on the course while you are running. Often, especially on one big loop courses, you see the same 3-10 runners the entire race as you all switch positions. With a course like San Tan I saw every single person (almost) the first couple laps and knowing many of them it made it so fun to cheer each on and hear them cheer us on. I don't think I will miss this race again, it's a classic to me.
It was also fun to meet Jerry Armstrong from Boulder, CO who contacted me on Dailymile.com and asked for a ride to the race. I picked him up and got to hang with him pre-race and he went on to run really strong and capture 3rd place as he passed Jay & I on lap 2. Great runner, puts out some cool video's and always fun meeting fellow runners from other areas. He wrote a great race report on is blog here: http://www.jerryarmstrong.blogspot.com/2012/02/san-tan-scramble-50k-race-report.html
Grand Canyon- Tanner Trail Route - February 11th, 2012
Tanner Trail...you have to look hard to see the guys...
I was really excited for this one. Four times I've been down in the Grand Canyon, all four times running or hiking the R2R2R trails. While that is an incredible trip each and every time I was excited to see a different part of the Canyon. I had this opportunity when a few WMRC members invited me along for a 30 mile route that was to take about 10 hours...I didn't need to hear another word. I was in.
Colorado River along the Escalante Trail
Andrew Heard, Art Bourque and John Pearce started out with me on the Tanner Trail head on the eastern edge of the Canyon. The trail was steep, icy and covered in snow at the top and it switch backed its way all the way down until the Colorado River came into view. Writing about the Grand Canyon is hard for me, it takes someone with real writing talent to be able to fully encapsulate what really "is" a run in the Canyon. The walls pull you in, the Canyon goes from narrow and claustrophobic to massive and belittling. You lose control of what you previously thought you had control of. You become a part of it.
Art lead us along the Escalante Trail all morning, dipping down to the Colorado to refill bottles, then seemingly back halfway up the Rim towards what for miles looks like a dead end straight into the walls of the cliffs. Running along the ridge, the Colorado a thousand feet straight below, you look up ahead trying to see where the trail possible could be going. Not until you reach the cliff wall do you realize that it does in fact scale the cliff all along its edge, precariously close to the edge, drawing up the details of your life insurance policy you hope to God you kept paying.
Boucher Point starts the downhill towards the Colorado one more time before entering Seventy Five Mile Canyon. Art describes a story when he was 33 and on this route alone, in 105 degrees, and completely lost. Having already passed a dozen spider trails off into the unknown, unmarked, I can see how easily someone can be led astray. Art takes us up the canyon and right away we climb above what becomes this majestic canyon, twenty feet wide but fifty feet tall, taller with each step deeper up the canyon. Art purposely leads us up the trail past the real turnoff, a scree trail down into the depths of the slot canyon, nothing remotely resembling a trail but more of an avalanche zone. No human rightly would have left a worn path for that. Nobody.
Art leads us down the precipice, down climbing our way down the hundred feet to the canyon bottom, an ant among the giant walls. Running down this dry riverbed, the walls tight around us, hovering high above us. It was like nothing I'd seen before and it would only truly be the beginning.
Andrew stirring up the spirits in an Anazazi ruin.
The trail continued it's steep ascents and descents, rock climbs up Fifty Foot wall, passed along the Colorado several more times providing for ice cold foot baths along the way. Continually the trail would wander random directions, running in random directions to go in the direction we needed to travel. We took the Grandview Trail out of the Canyon that day, a 4,000+ foot climb up the Rim that went on for a couple runnable miles before turning into a staircase leading straight up the chute, a leg burning, energy sapping assault on some of the steepest, most aggressive trails I've experienced. Art hammered the climb like it was his last climb of his life, absolutely crushing Andrew and I, leaving me sapped for the last three miles and 3,000 feet of climbing. Up to that point I felt great, strong and capable. That quickly turned into weak, wobbly, possibly the next victim in a Grand Canyon fall to his death. The trail narrowed, the elevation climbed and in turn the terrain became ice, snow and rocks covered with ice and snow. Climbing up the pace went from a reasonable 20min/mile to the dreaded 30min/mile to a few minutes later...58. Never...I'm using the word "never" here...have I ever wanted to just plain sit. Sit down. In the snow. And just lay there. My legs didn't hurt. My feet were fine. Everything was fine. There was simply nothing left in the tank. I was so tired, the trail so slick with ice, every imprint of a shoe with Yaktraks on it I wanted to scream. Wouldn't those be convenient right now...
I've been in this mindset before and never stopped but plodded along until I found a good section of untouched snow. With Andrew behind me a bit below I knew he would be struggling just as much in this snow with the footing being so slick and wrote, "This Blows!! :)" in the snow. Just writing it made me laugh thinking of Andrew coming up the trail and seeing that. I headed up the cliff, found a seat on a tree branch and regrouped. Put down my last gel, put a long sleeve back on, gloves and hat now that we were back in the upper elevations and waited for Andrew to come on through. He wasn't far behind and within a couple minutes he was there and we pushed our way to the top where Art was waiting for us with a big smile on his face, standing among the tourists there for a view of the big "Hole in the Ground."
John would come on through about 45 minutes later on his own. He had taken a wrong trail, back tracked, found the trail but spent a few nerve racking moments working through the fear of being lost in the Canyon. A veteran of the area he ultimately made it out, with a story, but made it out.
Two weeks later I'm still thinking about this route, the Canyon and the great time I had with Art, John and Andrew. It's never just another run up there, it always have me leaving thinking grander thoughts, bigger dreams and totally blown away and waiting for the next adventure there.
Grandpa Jim's 50K - February 18th, 2012
Jay on the 8B...still complaining about his knee. "I don't care if the bone is through the skin. We have 28 more miles to go. Eat a gu or something..."
Yes...this is my third 50K in three weekends. Just the way it panned out on the schedule and I didn't want to skip any of the three. Grandpa Jim's 50K runs through my backyard, literally, and covers some serious climbing along the way so I wanted to make it, donate some money to the cause and see how it goes.
Atop of Squaw Peak, Jay complaining about his compound fracture. Cry baby.
I could go into a full on race report here but this post is long enough already isn't it? I agree. I'm taking the lazy way out. So go read Jay Danek's race report, we ran the whole thing together and finished in 6:32 tied for 2nd place. If there is such a thing as "placing" in a somewhat unofficial race. Either way I count it and it continues my domination at Fat Ass races that don't count with very few runners in it. Yeah, I'm really good at those kinds of races. Borderline elite really. (see: 1st Place at Tom's Thumb 50K, 5 total entrants. Still wondering when La Sportiva is going to start sending my free shoes...)
Sean, Jay and I at the Dreamy Draw aid stop halfway through.
Jay coming down North Mountain after we got our fix of radiation.
So in the end...three 50K's in three weekends netted 93 miles, 21,000+ feet of climbing and 21 hours of running. In between each week I ran a whopping 50 miles in the other 18 days...I'm getting dangerously close to a full sponsorship from WalMart or Wendy's. It's a battle right now, really just the paperwork that needs to be worked out at this point. If nothing else I should earn some kind of special shirt for "Laziest Training Program in Ultrarunning." The week leading into Grandpa Jim's 50K? Two miles pushing a stroller.
Eat that Anton.
Top of Shaw Butte. We started that morning on the other side of the far peak that morning. True story.
Next up...Mesquite Canyon 50k on March 11th. I'm going for a 4:30, I don't care if that's 66 minutes faster than I've ever done it.
Limits are for cowards.
Phantom Injuries be Damned...
It has been a while since I was in a taper period saving up before a race. Sadly, nothing much as really changed. The Phantom Injury is still present, real, and a compelling reason for self doubt and fear.
From my first ultra at Mountain Mist 50K in 2010 where I had a tragic, "Get up from the office chair" knee injury, to the hip "injury" I sustained two days before flying to Seattle for my first hundred caused by that ever daunting walk up a flight of stairs to the bedroom. It happens every time. The mind is playing tricks on you. Trying to make you believe you can't make it. You WON'T make it. It's your internal back of the mind saying, "Here's your excuse. Use it. Embrace it. You can fail now."
So today while sitting at my office plugging away and I lose all the feeling in my left leg, from the hip down I was mildly concerned. Certainly since its never happened before. Just kept going numb, tingly. I asked a coworker if I was having a heart attack. Knowing me and that 94% of all comments are filled with some level of humor and/or sarcasm it was blown off in a flurry of "That's what you get for running so much!" comments.
I returned to my office to continue my heart attack.
In a continuation of our corporate fitness challenge at work we had to run a 1 mile trip around the neighborhood to test our standing heart rate recovery. It is a simple test of determining how quickly your heart rate can come down in one minute following high intensity exercise. The goal of sorts would be a drop of 40 beats per minute. So wearing a heart rate monitor we took off to start the mile.
I made it fifteen feet before I realized there was something amiss with my left foot.
Apparently I shattered it somewhere and didn't realize it.
Holy shit what's wrong now?!
Why does my ankle feel like someone slammed a board off it? I know, I'll just run faster.
Half ran the entire way. Still an inexplicable "injury." Doesn't hurt now. Don't know what the heck happened...I can only blame voodoo mind tricks on Dustin Hoffman.
Have you seen Sphere? I felt like at the end of the run I was going to get clobbered by a giant squid, and Dustin Hoffman was going to be standing at the finish line recording my time.
He's making me think I'm hurt when I'm not. He's playing with my mind.
I'm going to win Dustin.
I know it's not real.
Live the Dream Guys
Skurka in Alaska
http://andrewskurka.com/2012/how-i-make-a-living-as-an-adventurer/ People always say, "I wish I could do that" when they see someone else doing what they wish they could do for a living. Whether its a professional baseball player, National Geographic photographer, musician, or a professional adventurer. Andrew Skurka has gone out and done it and he's doing it now. He's a professional adventurer. I've been following Andrew for a couple years now as we're the same age and he's doing what I would LOVE to be doing. To do what Skurka is doing takes a lot of sacrifice in life and some that I'm not willing to take. So I'll remain happy doing what I'm doing and sit back and live a bit vicariously through him and the Anthony Culpeppers of the world as they take on these incredible journeys. They've earned it. It's not easy. Just read the article Skurka wrote about how he does it (linked above.)
Back to Reality...Sort of...
In holding true to my original plan to keep this website/blog from being anything but what all the other runner's blogs are here's a continuation of my oddities and some that I found on the internet. I have a soft spot for the beauty of a time lapse film, the process behind it, the music along with it. So I always look for them on the internet and then I click on the "Related Video's" and then I enter the downward spiral into the internet Labyrinth. Surprisingly not all are about running or ultrarunning or trail running. I think there are some you might really enjoy. If not, well...it's my website so I can do what I want. :)
Patagonia - An Obsession Relived
I've been mildly obsessed with Patagonia for the last 5-6 years. I had an opportunity in my life to make the leap and take my career in hotels to another country, single and with a chance to work abroad. I searched exclusively at first in Patagonia/Argentina/Chile as I've just always been intrigued by the area, the culture, the people. The movie "Motorcycle Diaries" didn't help much as I watched that over and over again with a 7' map of South America dominating my bedroom wall...constantly dreaming of the day I'd take the big move...
It never worked out that I would move to Patagonia. I took a promotion a couple months later in Arizona, met my wife shortly thereafter and I'd not change a thing from what I have now. Yet, I still have a picture of the Torres del Paine mountains overlooking Hotel Explora, my dream hotel in Patagonia, taped to my inside of my notebook I carry around all day at work. I just keep re-taping it to new notebooks every year. It's worn, battered, torn, and even faded. I just can't let it go.
One day. I'll be there.
Until then I settle for YouTube and Vimeo fixes of the area. I'll have my own videos soon...
Sh*T Ultrarunners Say
Shit Ultrarunners Say has been all over the internet this week. It's pretty dang funny, I've watched it five times now and it just gets funnier. Not sure how enjoyable if you don't run but just know watching it that...well....pretty much every one of those happens on a daily long run. Great stuff!
This must have taken FOREVER to complete. It's just incredible. Both in scope but the sheer beauty of Yosemite. Wow.
Get Up to Get Down Trailer
This guy has been all over the country thru hiking and certainly applies to the above mention of guys that just go out and do what they always dreamed of. This video is a trailer to a longer movie he's working on about the Great Enchantment Trail, a 700 mile long trek through Arizona and up through New Mexico. Starts in Phoenix and ends in New Mexico going through southern AZ and western NM. Starts in the Superstition Wilderness as you can spot Weaver's Needle right off the bat!
Possibly my favorite video of ALL TIME
This video would have been totally different with another song but what a great choice! It's so interesting to see the backgrounds in each shot, even if only for a second in the time lapse but the pauses...they really grab a hold of you, make you pause and really pay attention. It's incredible really and the ending really takes a full grip on you, or at least it did me. I love it. Super creative.
He has no legs. Stop making Excuses.
More proof that nothing can stop you from doing what you always wanted to do. Yes, sounds cliche, but in the world of, "I used to be able to do that when I was your age" and the excuses that come with everyday life it's always great to see people kicking that crap to the curb and going for it anyway.
The guy that made this video was 17. Incredible.
The GoPro has been around for a little while now so a lot of people know what they are. Still though, many do not and always ask me what kind of camera I have. So for those not familiar with this little piece of technological genius...here's their promotional video. Which..is...amazing!
Alberta - It's like Alaska...but not another 2,000 miles north
File this under: Yes Please! Can you imagine what the running trails are like up there?!!!!!