Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March 2009 Training Summary

In the month of March I ran:

29 times and logged 297 Miles
Longest Run - 42 miles
Shortest Run - 3 miles
Max HR in training - 178
Min Resting HR - 36 (Mar 21st)

Total miles for first three months of 2009: 915

Friday, March 27, 2009

Grand Canyon R2R2R Report

I tagged the kiosk at the South Kaibab Trailhead at 9:00AM sharp on Tuesday morning and began my journey across the Grand Canyon. The first 15 minutes were cold and choppy. The trail was pretty chewed up and the wind was strong on the ridges. However, after passing through Cedar Ridge the temperature warmed and the wind died down. What a great day to be alive!

I was running with two handheld bottles filled with sportsdrink., had four portions of drink powder, and 10 gels in my pockets. Assuming all went well this would be enough. I was hoping to make the journey out and back in 8 hours but, in the moment, I was just happy to be out on the trail enjoying the sunshine and savoring the incredible environment of the Grand Canyon.

Passing from the red rock outcroppings in the middle of the descent to the darker gray and black rock walls of the inner canyon schist I saw, for the first time, the suspension bridge across the Colorado River. A few minutes later I was across. I had made the descent in one-hour flat. Not great, but solid. I pushed on through the sandy bottomlands next to the river and began the slow, gradual climb up to the North Rim. The few hikers I saw in the area around Phantom Ranch looked at me with a combination of confusion and curiosity. I was having fun.

This next section turned out to be my favorite of the day. The climb through the box canyon formed by Bright Angel Creek is smooth and runnable. Gaining 1800 feet between the river and the Cottonwood Campground over 7 miles, this section makes the climb feel easy. Of course, after getting through the campground in 2:20, the real heart of the ascent to the North Rim begins in earnest. Over the next 7 miles I would gain 4000 feet and go from the desert to the mountains.

I topped off my bottles at Roaring Springs and set about climbing steadily to the rim. My goal was to powerhike the steepest sections and run whenever I could without draining any extra energy. I imagined myself at Mile 40 of a 100 miler during this stretch and it helped me keep things strong but controlled. I tagged the North Rim kiosk in 3:58 and quickly turned around for the descent. After a quick stop to top off my bottles at Roaring Springs again I made it back to Cottonwood Campground in 5:00 flat.

By this time I was starting to feel tired but the temperatures were cooperating and my feet felt fine. In addition, my quads felt surprisingly good given all the early-season descending. I decided to cruise the level stretch down to Bright Angel Campground in the hope that I might feel rested enough to make a solid attempt at 8 hours over the last climb up South Kaibab. I hit the Campground in 5:59, topped off my bottles, sucked down two gels, and jogged over to the bridge crossing the Colorado for the second time in 6:05. I had two full bottles and three gels for the climb. It was time to get to work.

The climb up South Kaibab is relentless and at this point in the day I must admit it was tough to run some of the steeper sections. I resolved to just run everything I could and push hard to strongly hike the steeper sections. Surprisingly, up until this time, I had only passed one mule train the entire day and I encountered my second and last one shortly before reaching Skeleton Point. After getting past the mules (I probably only lost a minute, at the most, here) I had 3 miles and 2400 feet to go. Checking my watch I saw I had less than an hour to do it. I had been running for 7:03.

I ran everything I could from here but about a mile from the rim I realized 8 hours was not in the cards. I ran as much as I could until hitting Jacob’s Ladder and as I ran past the sign that said “DO NOT ATTEMPT TO HIKE TO THE RIVER AND BACK IN ONE DAY!” I chuckled and checked my watch. 8 hours flat.

I powerhiked up the last few hundred feet to the rim and tagged the kiosk in 8:11.
Sitting down in the dirt, I drained my bottles and smiled. 11 minutes short of my goal was not enough to discourage me. It had been an extraordinary day in the Canyon. Next March I’ll try to get those 11 minutes back.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

R2R2R - Quick stats

Ran R2R2R on Tuesday. Great day. Took South Kaibab both ways. Here's the data:

Trailhead to River - 1:00
River to Cottonwood CG - 2:20
Cotton Wood CG to North Rim Kiosk - 3:58
North Rim Kiosk to Cottonwood CG - 5:00
Cottonwood CG to River - 6:03
River to Trailhead - 8:11

Not exactly Mackey or Krupicka but good enough for me. I'll post a detailed report this weekend.

Friday, March 20, 2009

WTC Report - 2009

Way Too Cool was great! I was a bit bummed that I was unable to join the post-race festivities at the G'Town Hotel but the race itself was great and provided the expected pre-season fitness test.

I started out, as usual, way too fast and paid for it later. After a few miles I settled into a nice pace with good friends Craig Thornley and Jeff Riley and we cruised into the Highway 49 crossing at :53. I felt good and we kept it steady to ALT 1. Running that section of trail always makes me think of WS three months hence and it was nice to run along with friends chatting and watching the miles drift by. It was also good to run fast on dirt rather than snow and packed ice!

We hit ALT in 2 hours and it seemed a tad slow. Not sure why but it was. It seemed like the pace was frantic up front and we were content to simply dawdle along. Craig took the lead here as we began the ALT loop and I thought an hour might be a good time. We ended up doing it in 1:01 but that was fine. The downhill legs were solid but my climbing felt crappy. Obviously, I have work to do!

After ALT 2 I took the lead and we had a long train of people for this last 10 mile section. I love this part because there are people going both ways and it's fun saying hi to people and enjoying a day on the WS trail. I was feeling pretty tired after crossing the bridge at Brown's Bar so I just walked up the road toward the climb up Goat Hill. Craig and I chatted about our age and the pace of the race and then settled into a power hike up Goat. It was here that Graham Cooper passed us and got my juices flowing again. After topping out I tried to keep in in range but to no avail. Graham had, once again, paced it perfectly, and he finished four minutes ahead of me.

My time of 4:31 was good enough for 54th place. A couple post-race beers with Craig, Graham and Erik topped off a wonderful day.

What the race revealed for me (aside from the need to do some serious climbing in the next few months) was the impact of the growth trail running on some of the sport's great events. It seems that faster and faster runners are gravitating toward the ultra distances and that is creating tremendous competition in the sport. It seems most obvious in the 50K and 50 Mile races but I imagine it is only a matter of time until we see more of these speedsters moving up to the 100's. From my vantage point it's good for the sport but, man, it sure makes me feel old.

I'll write again in a few days with my report from the Grand Canyon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Olmstead will win...
Karl will show he's got his legs back after the Long Green Tunnel...
Some road marathon guy will surprise us...
Skaden will run strong and hard...
Cooper will sandbag...
Jaime will strip off his bridesmaid's dress...
Richtman will break the 50 and over record...
Meghan will beat Bev (and me!)...
Oregon will have another day in the sun...
Julie will be smiling at the end of the day...
I will be providing $500 to the local economy of Georgetown, CA...
Call it my stimulus package!

I love March in NoCal!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blast from the past!

Just got my March UR and saw Ben Hian's name at the top of the Calico finishers list. Does that name ring a bell?

Multiple times AC winner
Holder of countless SoCal Ultra Course Records, still
Original Montrail poster boy

Man, it's great to see Ben back in the game! Wish he was coming to Cool...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Apologies for the lame posting over the past couple weeks. Lots of travel coupled with a particularly stressful stretch at work has pushed running and blogging to the back burner. That said, let me start this post with two book recommendations:

"Made to Stick" by Dan and Chip Heath
"Reality Check" by Guy Kawasaki

I heard both of these guys speak last week and they are far more than your typical corporate consultant, junket guys. Especially in these times, their messages resonate loudly and can move the needle in whatever line of work you're in. Check out their books if you have a chance.

And, there is much going on in the Ultrarunning world:

Julie Fingar, new Race Director of the Way Too Cool 50K and a good friend of mine, has taken some heat for changing the race course for her race so that it actually measures 50K. I know there are Old School traditionalists out there, but when was the last time someone you know was criticized for doing something they actually said they were doing? Julie looked at the race course that measured 29.8 miles and said, "How can I call this a 50K race? It's just not right." So, she added a few miles to make it 50K and took heat for changing the rules. People can think what they want but from my perspective, if someone does something that is right and honest than they should be respected for that. I learned long ago that I would much rather be respected than liked and Julie has learned that same lesson this week. And, I look forward to the extra miles as it makes my entry fee seem a bit more realistic!

Out East Michael Wardian ripped another blazing 50K and Kami Semick kept her anti-aging program intact at Caumsett. It'll be fun to see how all that plays out at Western States in June and, funny that Western States came up on this blog, it hardly ever does, but it's getting closer by the day and deserves a bit of mention.

I wonder what people are thinking? What they are doing? Who's on the way up? Who's on the way down?

For me, I am feeling solid. Not great, but solid. By this time in my cycle I think most of the hay's in the barn but there's some fine tuning to go. I know I won't have sub-16 speed come June (never have) but perhaps sub 16:30 if all goes well. If a couple mistakes are made, if nutrition issues arise, if the exuberance of The Morning is too much for some people, if some guy sets a torrid early pace or if conditions require brains over genetics I could find my way closer to the front than I might expect.

But still, today, my "first tier worry list" looks like this:


My "second tier worry list" is much, much longer. But the guys who get me out the door at 4AM on a snowy Tuesday morning, the guys who make me think "Why am I doing this?" the guys who make me love this sport so much, are the guys on this list.

Let's get after it!


PS -- For those still paying attention after all this drivel let me comment a bit on my training. I know I said above that most of the "hay's in the barn". I know that might strike some of you as presumptuous and perhaps, even, stupid. However, I take solace and comfort in the work of the great Nordic Skiers from Scandanavia who often base their training in four-year cycles (I wonder why they do that?). These guys know how to build and they know how to peak. In addition, they know what it takes to experience success in a particular event on a particular day. So, this is all to say, to all you procrastinators out there, if you wanted to do well at Western States 2009, I hope you've done the work.