Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ultrarunner of the Year -- Nominations

Well, ultra fans, it's that time of year again and this year I thought I'd do something a little different. Before posting the polls for UROY and POY I thought it would be interesting to take nominations and then create the polls out of those nominees. So, here's the deal:

Please comment on the blog with nominations in the following categories:

Male and Female Ultrarunner of the Year
Male and Female Masters' (40 yrs-old and older) Ultrarunner of the Year
Male and Female Performance of the year

I will tally the nominations and get going with the polls on New Year's Day.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Year in Review

I was lying peacefully on a cot at the Highway 49 crossing at Western States when my phone rang…

“Hey, LB, it’s AJW, what’s going on.” It was my friend AJW. Ugh.
“I’m, um, resting on a cot here at Highway 49,” I responded feebly.
“What the hell, dude, I finished an hour ago. Get off your butt and get over here.”
“Um, Ticer is refusing to run with me. He thinks I’m a risk for the race.”
“OK, well, I’ll find someone here who can hike in with you. You need to finish this thing.”

And, with that, AJW hung up and went to sleep. What followed at the Placer High School Track that night was, from my understanding, a virtual cluster attempting to find me a way to the Finish.

You see, AJW and I are both totally obsessed with Western States, and this year, in particular, we were really psyched for the race. However, something really bad happened to me between Brown’s Bar and Highway 49 that relegated me to the now infamous cot. I am not sure what happened but I never want it to happen again. And, AJW has reminded me of "the cot" about once a week since that great day.

Earlier in the week AJW and I had enjoyed a great pre-race psych-up staying together at the Squaw Valley Lodge and enjoying the hype as we prepared for each of our 7th running of the WS100. That said, everyone knows AJW doesn’t do anything halfway and, of course, he showed up at The Dance with his entire loud and annoying family as well as two cases of Sierra Nevada. The Jiz certainly has his priorities straight! But, with that sideshow, sleeping and resting for the race is all but impossible. In fact, reflecting on the weekend, I am pretty sure the reason I ended up on the cot at Highway 49 was all AJW’s fault. Next year, I’ll know better!

Up until Western States my year in running had gone really well. In February I actually beat Meghan Arbogast in a race and cracked the top-10 in the Truffle Shuffle 4 Mile. A week later I once again cracked the top-10 at the Pemberton 50K in Arizona and I even went sub-4 hours (my 3:59 was only four minutes slower than AJW’s best time on the course). After that, however, things began to go downhill. At Chuckanut I finished 43rd and Meghan smoked my ass. Then, at the Pear Blossom 10 miler, I failed to come in under the one-hour barrier for the first time in something like 35 years. This all, of course, was a harbinger of the disaster at Western States in June.

When I licked my wounds and looked back to what might have gone wrong at Western States five things stood out:

1. I made the mistake of riding in the Cool Mountain Bike Race in March and got crushed.
2. Instead of running the Way Too Cool 50K (incidentally the last ultramarathon race in which I beat AJW) I decided to volunteer. Stupid mistake.
3. I wandered around the mountains throughout the winter as a ski patrol guy rather than training (I did win a bunch of awards for this effort and that made me feel like a giver) but I think I underestimated the impact of this activity on my fitness.
4. I got my Ham Radio License (whatever that is:) and continued to serve the sport as the Race Director of the Where’s Waldo 100K, the toughest 100K race in the Universe.
5. In spite of doing hours and hours of trailwork and volunteering at Ultras, I got a year older.

So, with all this done, I was resolved to have a successful 2nd half to my season. And, I did. In the Cascade Cream Puff 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race I finished in 11:45 and spent absolutely zero minutes on cots. In addition, I only lost to Alan “Quads of Steel” Abbs by 19 minutes. It cost me $1000 to GOATS but it was worth every penny. In this stretch I also ran three 5K races and beat Meghan twice. At the McKenzie River 50K in September I finished 11th and I actually let Meghan beat me. That felt good.

After that, it was time to put everything into training for the Hayward Field Mile on November 23rd. You see, if there was one race I knew I could beat AJW at it was the one-mile run.

When the day arrived I was ready. I knew it would hurt but I knew I could win. You see, everyone knows, quite simply, AJW is not a fast man. And, three things were in my favor:

First, he’s fat.

Second, he has no idea how to train.

Third, when he gets caught up in the moment, he can be downright stupid.

My plan for the Hayward Mile was to stay on AJW's heels for the first 809 meters and then put the hammer down. Which is precisely what I did. Quite simply, I ran the Perfect Race. In the end I beat him by a second (5:06 to 5:07) but it felt, to me, more like an hour. With that victory I can now go into the 2011 season with a renewed sense of confidence and a bolstered sense of self-esteem and, SkyDaddy willing, I think I can finally cut into AJW’s 8 hour lead in the 10-year bet.

And, oh yeah, I am sick of being known as the “guy with the blog.” Let’s get after it in 2011!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Weekend in Park City

I just returned from a three-day weekend in Park City, UT. My son Carson had a ski race there and we had the opportunity to stay with good friend Bryon Powell and his girlfriend, Meghan Hicks.

While the ski racing was fine, the highlight of the weekend was catching up with Bryon, getting a few runs in, and generally enjoying the mountains in winter.

A few highlights:

A killer run in dumping snow on Sunday during which we were dodging snowplows and finding our way up to 9000 feet.

The descent off the aforementioned run.

Two great dinners at the Wasatch Brew Pub.

Watching on DVD the entire first season of the all-time greatest TV show, "Northern Exposure."

A sneak preview at a whole bunch of new shoes that Bryon, Mr. Irunfar, has in his "shoe closet."

The choice of about 12 different types of traction devices.

Staying up late talking and prognosticating about the future of ultramarathon running, who will win Ultrarunner of the Year, whether WS should require a 100 mile prerequisite and a whole host of other topics.

I have said it before and I'll say it again, the best thing about our sport is the relationships we establish along the way. This past weekend in Park City reminded me of that once again.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Over the past six months I have been preparing to transition to a new job in a new place. After five years in Sun Valley my family and I have decided to move on after the Community School graduation in June. For those of you who know me, of course, this will come as no surprise as since I graduated from college 21 years ago I have lived in Philadelphia, Phoenix, Oakland and Sun Valley. I am thrilled that our new opportunity will take us to Charlottesville, VA where I have been appointed Head of School at Tandem Friends School. It is a wonderful opportunity in a very special place and, in many ways, represents a homecoming of sorts for my wife and I as we began our educational careers at Penn Charter, the oldest Quaker school in the country.

What does this mean for my running?

Well, Charlottesville has a wonderfully vibrant running community. Two specialty running shops, Ragged Mountain Running and the Charlottesville Running Company, fuel the running scene and the surrounding countryside is filled with beautiful places to run (and, they don't have seven months of winter there:) Furthermore, there are a bunch of fast runners who reside in and around C'Ville and the UVa Cross-Country team is pretty darn good!

As far as racing, I plan to continue my long-distance love affair with Western States as long as they'll keep letting me come to the race and readers of this blog should be reminded that one of the former Course Record holders at Western States is a Virginian, none other than Mike Morton. His 2:09 split from Foresthill to the River is still one of the all-time great splits. I will also continue to find my way west in the summer to toil in the San Juans, the Rockies, the Sierras and the Cascades. But, I will also be able to enjoy some new places and some special races like Masanutten, Mountain Masochist, JFK, Bull Run and many others. It will be a fun and exciting change.

So, anybody out there with running tips about the area or if you're from there and you'd like to hook up please let me know. depending on how the lottery Gods treat me in February we'll be rolling into C'Ville around the first of July unless Hardrock beckons and then it'll be around the 15th.

I hope you're all enjoying your training. Just a little more than six months to go:)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Western States Coaching

Over the past few years I have taken on a few running coaching clients here and there who have been interested in getting a bit faster or, more often, going a bit longer. The relationships have been very informal, primarily conducted over email, and really fun for me. In the past year or so several people have asked me if I would be interested in conducting more specific coaching sessions for people training for and running Western States. Given the fact that I have run the race seven times and have spent countless hours on the course these folks have suggested that there might be interest out there in such a product.

So, this post is to ask the readers of this blog what you think. I would like to outline customized six-month training plans designed for each runner based on abilities, past results, mileage, etc...that I would gather through a brief questionnaire. Then, these plans would begin on or around January 1st and would, of course, culminate at the Big Dance. If there is sufficient interest I'd also like to conduct two on-course clinics; one on and around the weekend of the American River 50 (April 9th) and the other during the Memorial Day Weekend Training Camp. In addition, I would, of course be available for email and phone consultations throughout the training cycle.

If you are interested in this or if you know someone who might be please contact me via email at: