Sunday, May 31, 2009

May Training Summary

In the month of May I ran:

37 times and logged 433 Miles
Longest Run - 52 miles
Shortest Run - 4 miles
Max HR in training - 174
Min Resting HR - 34 (May 30th)

Total miles for first five months of 2009: 1712
Monthly average: 342

Goal for June; stay healthy, run hard through June 12th and then trust the training and ride the wave through Squaw, Auburn, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton. Kissing that rock will be sweet!

Friday, May 29, 2009


It's four weeks until the Big Dance so it's time for another poll for the men's race. (See the sidebar for a new poll.)

It's been an interesting lead-up this year. We have injuries (Anton Krupicka, Jon Olsen, Jorge Pacheco, and Max King), we have some great tune-up performances (Jasper Halekas, Gary Robbins, and Eric Grossman), we have the old standby's finding their form (Hal Koerner, Graham Cooper, Erik Skaden, and Scott Jurek) and we have the new guys (Scott Wolfe, Mike Wolfe, Dan Olmstead, and a whole bunch of others.

So, take a look at the poll on the right and pick your top-5.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wrapping my mind around The Double

I have been grappling with the reality of running the WS/HRH Double in less than two months. Part of me says I'm crazy while another part is psyched. If nothing else, I'll get a fun family vacation out of it and see some amazing places in the process!

Anyway, the challenge for me over these next few weeks is training for both events at the same time. My typical WS build-up includes long runs in the heat with moderate altitude and more running than walking. I try to find places to run that mirror the conditions of The Course and mentally prepare myself for the feelings I will inevitably have on the run up Bath Road, the 20 minutes into Cal 2 and the climb up from Highway 49. Interestingly, this approach has worked pretty well over the years and I seem to be on track today based on my training. I've even gotten over my "sweat hump." (For those who care, my "sweat hump" is the point in the year when I can tell my body is holding onto sodium. I determine this through the highly scientific method of licking my arm after a 30 minute sauna session. If the saltiness doesn't sting my tongue, I'm over the "sweat hump." That just happened this morning!)

Back to The Double. The different thing now is, at the same time I am preparing for the familiarity of WS, I am also looking into the mystery world of Oscar's, Handies, Virginius, American Basin, and the rest. It's a tricky dance. With the snow quickly melting in the High Country here in Idaho I am now able to get up to 10,000 ft and in the next two weeks should be able to get up to 12,000 a couple times. I won't be getting past that until I get out to Silverton around July 4th and I hope that that will be enough.

Thus, the plan at this point is to try to run 10 times a week for the next three weeks. Five runs per week will be WS training (heat, rolling hills, hard, runnable trails, etc...) and the other five runs will be HRH training (big elevation, power hiking, altitude, gnarly trails, etc..). It's certainly a new experience for me but one for which I am oddly excited. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Five questions before the Dance

1. How many miles did you run last week?

2. Who's injured going into the last four weeks of training?

3. Who's going to turn some heads at the dance?

4. Will it be hot, snowy, or both?

5. Have you done your trail work?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What Aid Station Are You Looking Forward to at WS?

That’s easy, Devil’s Thumb…

The name alone conjures up images of pain and suffering. Located at Mile 47 of the Western States Course, the Devil’s Thumb Aid Station sits in the middle of what many people consider the crux of the race, The Canyons.

When you arrive at Devil’s Thumb it is hot; brutally, mercilessly, unfairly hot. You have just completed an 1800-foot climb in 2 miles from the Swinging Bridge across Deadwood Creek. The heavily advertised 37 switchbacks do nothing to soften the blow of the intensity of the climb. Legs burn, salt stings the eyes, the stomach rumbles. A couple sections of the climb are hands-on-your-knees steep.

Thus, arriving at Devil’s Thumb, gives me a sense of relief, hope, and possibly even joy. If I have been smart up until this point and followed my race plan I will have arrived at The Thumb with food in my belly and a bit of spring in my step. As much as I have hated the 35-minute (or so) climb up to the aid station I now know that ahead of me lies 40 minutes of the sweetest downhill on the course, the descent into El Dorado Canyon. A quick Coke, S! cap and gel will send me trundling down the hill.

Furthermore, the people who work the aid station at Devil’s Thumb understand suffering. They have literally seen it all and are well prepared with cold drinks, salty foods, and cheerful attitudes. Even better, for the past two years members of the Western States Board have been at The Thumb when I’ve arrived and have given me some great energy. In 2006 it was Shannon Weil who gave me a hug and told me I looked great while in 2007 it was the compassionate Tim Tweitmeyer who said, simply, “Hey three names, what are doing so far back?” Needless to say, Devil’s Thumb is a place to get into and get out of. Fast.

I remember getting there in 2005 with three other guys and thinking that it was pretty late in the race to be running in a pack of four but as I waited for the scale with Richtman, Kerby, and Kulak I felt the brotherhood of the trail in all its glory. Then, I proceeded to run away from those three guys.

In 2006, I arrived at the Thumb with my mentor and good buddy Tom Nielsen. In the insane heat of that year Tom and I had resolved to run The Canyons together. Sharing an ice-cold Coke at The Thumb gave us the energy and the attitude to persevere together.

And, in 2007, I found myself again at the Thumb feeling great. I was in about 14th place at the time but something about the way I felt that day in that place told me I could do better. 10 hours later I ended up in 4th place propelled off the Thumb by the pull of the trail and the carnage that lay ahead.

Who knows what 2009 will bring? All I know is, I’ll be smiling when I pull in to the Thumb!

This is the 4th installment of the 2009 Western States Synchroblog Project. See what aid stations my other synchrobloggers are most looking forward to reaching.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ice Cream Sandwich - 2009 Edition

This run, designed by Tim Tweitmeyer, is best done 8 weeks before the Dance. The logistics are simple: Drive down Todd Valley Rd. to the trail that leads to Cal 2. Run to Cal 2. Start your watch and run 25 miles up the Course to the Swinging Bridge. Turn around. Run back. When you get to Cal 2 stop your watch and walk back to the car. 11 hours, 52 miles, pure joy.

This year we started with five people, finished with six but only four did the entire run and only two officially completed it (Tweit's rule is you must run Foresthill to Cal 2 in 75 minutes for the workout to count. And, you can't puke). Anyway, it basically is divided into three sections (and only the last one matters!). The first section is the run up to the Swinging Bridge. We did this in 5 hours. The second section is from the Swinging Bridge back to Foresthill. Here, things got interesting. First, Jeff hiked the Thumb in 29:45. I was happy to 31 it. Then I cleared El Dorado in 1:24 (41 down and 43 up) Not exactly fast but since the trail was basically a stream and my shoes weighed about 10 pounds I'll take it. Then we 65'd Volcano and I was able to run Bath Rd.

The stupidest thing of the day was when we ate the Ice Cream Sandwiches and drank the soda at Foresthill. Then Meghan took off to get us our 75 to Cal 2. Craig had been fired and he was hurt anyway so it was Meghan's deal. Needless to say, Ms. US National 100K Team 71'd it and was napping by the time I got there. The highlight of the whole day for me was the last 15 minutes of the run. Here's that story:

After Cal 1 I was hurting. Meghan had dropped me and nobody was behind to save me. I labored up Mackey hill to the flats and on about the 6th roller (it's the one that's always really hot on race day) I heard Craig come up behind me. Sweet! He asked me how I was doing and I grunted a reply. He said we were right on the 75 bubble and we rolled. We got to Cal 2 in 74:15 hootin' and hollerin'. I was psyched, so was Craig.

For me, it was the best 15 minutes of running this season and it got me a step closer to my WS Goal. Thanks Craig. For helping me out I'll cut 10 mins off the 10 year bet! Time for bed.