Tuesday, September 29, 2009

5 minute mile

My good friend and fellow M10'er Criag Thornley laid it out there a few weeks ago and I am taking the bait. On November 12th I am going to try to run 4:59.0 for a mile. Sounds stupid? Indeed.

Until then I'll be significantly decreasing my mileage in an attempt to increase my speed (as if I have any). Any advice, other than the obvious, would be greatly appreciated. And, in case you care, the fastest mile I've ever run was 5:12 when I was 20 years old (I am now a sad and decrepit 42).


PS -- In the "keeping score at home"department, however this whole fiasco turns out I am still leading LB by 4 hours in the 10-year bet. Don't ever forget (even if his wife loves him more than mine does:)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A few random comments...

Ran the Baldy Hill Climb on Saturday. 1.86 miles and 3200 ft of climb. Finished 15th in 47:12. That's 25 something a mile. Hardrock stuff, for sure. And, I managed to improve my time from last year by a whopping 32 seconds.

Geoff Roes gets my vote for Ultrarunner of the Year. Three races, three course records. I hope he can get to Squaw in June. The dude can walk the walk.

And, a follow up on my post about 100's. I must say I apologize for offending people with my remarks about the 100 mile distance. Truly, I meant it as a joke and probably should have put a :) after it. I know that the guys who go all out at the 50k's, 50 milers and 100k's are truly outstanding athletes. In fact, it's likely that they are much better athletically than the 100 mile guys. It's just that I am, as Tim said, biased toward the events I tend to do well in and those are 100 milers.

So, here's my next poll. See the sidebar to vote for the best sub-100 mile run this year by a male (so far).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dr. Dave Terry -- RIP

The first time I met Dave Terry was at the Finish Line of the WS100 in 2001. I had just finished my first Western States and I was toast. Dave was there hanging out cheering people on and he came up to me as I was slumped in a chair, grabbed my shoulder and said, simply, "Good run, dude. Pretty tough out there, huh?"

Then, three years later at Western States I felt like Dave was leading the entire state of Oregon on an assault to beat me. I managed to hold him off and after he crossed the finish line he found me and said, once again, "Good run, dude. It was tough out there"

Fast forward to 2006: The "hot year" at Western States. After all of the usual pre-race hype we finally got off the starting line and began the climb up Squaw. I found myself stride for stride with Dave and thought it was a good time for conversation. It went something like this:

"So Dave, you think the heat's going to make this a rough day?" I said.
"Dude, this is going to be a classic! Mark my words, a classic!"

And, of course, he was right.

Then, a few months later, I found myself stumbling out of Lamb's Canyon at my first Wasatch. After about five minutes Dave and his pacer, Scott McCoubrey, caught up to me and my pacer Leland Barker. Dave and Scott were bantering on about this and that while Leland was trying to help me through a particularly pukey part of my day. As we made our way onto the singletrack Dave sidled up to me, took off his headphones and said, "Dude, it'll get easier after this. Do this climb with me and then you can take off." I'll never forget it. A few hours later I finished my first Wasatch and Dave finished his 9th (with his 10th to come the following year). His words of encouragment still echo in my head from time to time.

In 2007, Dave finished his 10th Western States in perfect, laid-back style and then pledged to give back to the race by volunteering as a medical volunteer for the next few years. He did that, for the first time, this past June. That, too, I will never forget.

After my finish around midnight this past year I hung around the medical tent taking in the scene and begging Dave for an IV (he didn't give me one saying I wasn't messed up enough:). Shortly before 1AM Krissy Moehl finished and needed a bit of medical help. After a couple minutes of treatment she had some sort of a spell and Dave was right there to respond. He jumped into action and cared for Krissy like she was his own sister. When the ambulance guys came to sweep Krissy away Dave assured them she was OK in his care and that he had everything under control. Needless to say, the ambulance guys left and Krissy was better 30 minutes later.

The next morning, with problems of my own, I went over to the medical tent to talk to John Vonhof about my trashed feet. It was 11AM and it was pretty hot. I looked up and there was Dave, still working medical, still in his running stuff, still working to put runners back together a day and half after he had last slept.

In his last appearance at Western States Dave Terry gave himself completely to the people and the sport he loved. He gave from his head and from his heart. He gave and gave and gave until nobody else needed him to give. Then, as he probably always did, he sidled off into the sunset with the Grateful Dead blaring and the memory of another great day on the trails behind him.

Ultrarunning brings together extraordinary people in extraordinary ways. The people who have chosen to find a path in this sport are truly the heart and soul of every event, workout and training run. When you decide to make running 100 miles through the mountains your hobby you tend to become more than just a person, you become part of something bigger than yourself and your actions speak louder than your words. Dave Terry was a man whose actions always spoke louder than his words and I, for one, will miss him.

Wherever you are, Dave, I hope your trails are rocky and rutted and the hills are all steep. Just the way you like them!

With Love,


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Best 100 Miler of the Year so far - Male Division

The results are in and Geoff Roes' Wasatch was the resounding winner. Karl and Hal with their performances at HRH and WS respectively showed that the "old guard" is not completely dead but clearly, Geoff's methodical dismantling of the WF Course Record turned heads.

I am not sure if there is another 100 miler on the fall schedule that will result in a better performance but I am curious about what the readers of this blog think about the sub-100 mile performances so far this year and how they compare to Geoff's run. A few that come immediately to mind are Erik's Waldo, Anton's White River and Max's American River. And, I am sure there are others. Of course, all this begs the question, does anyone even care about any distance under 100 miles anymore?

Hope you're all enjoying the Equinox season!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Getting it done late

One of the things that makes 100 mile races so much different than shorter ultramarathons is what it takes to get the job done late in the race. In every 100 miler you get to that place where you need to dig deep and decide if you have what it takes. Usually, this point is represented by a particular aid station after which you know it's "Game On." At Western States it's the River Crossing, at Leadville it's the Fish Hatchery, at Hardrock it's Telluride going CCW and Sherman going CW, and, at Wasatch, it's Brighton. And Brighton eats runners for dinner!

I had the privilege of pacing my friend and training partner Hank Dart at Wasatch on Friday. He finished in 25:34 and ran a great race. That said, he had his moment of truth on the way out of Brighton. Feeling pukey from the stop and a bit disoriented by the altitude, Hank struggled out of there. Three people passed us and the wheels were getting pretty loose. Fortunately, Hank rallied and managed to get into the Homestead about 7 hours after leaving Brighton. It was a great effort and one which I will always remember.

And, I can only imagine what was going through Geoff Roes' head as he left Brighton several hours before Hank and I did. With the greatest 100 mile runner in the country chasing him I am sure he knew he had to keep the hammer down. And, keep the hamer down he did! Yes, the Course Record is super impressive but, to me, what is even more impressive than that, is the sub-5 hour split Geoff ran from Brighton to the Finish. That is, without a doubt, getting it done late.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

Labor Day has always marked the end of summer for me. Even though school has started by now for just about everyone across the country, this holiday always closes the book on summer in my house.

And, for me, it's been quite a summer of running. Three 100 mile races in 8 weeks (18:46 at WS, 28:09 at HR, and 19:49 at LT) and some great times with family and friends.

A few of the ups and downs from the summer:

Down: I was disappointed with my trashed feet at WS which I think cost me about 45 minutes on the downhills from Last Chance to the Finish.

Up: I was pleased and surprised to hold off the surging Victor Ballesteros in the last mile of WS. I don't think I've ever run Robie to the Finish quite that fast. Also, it was good to open up a four-hour lead on Craig Thornley in the 10-year bet. We have four years left:)

Down: I was bummed that I couldn't reel in Scott Jaime on the climb up to Grant-Swamp Pass at HR. After he summited the pass he simply disappeared and I was forced to take whatever I could get.

Up: I was absolutely ecstatic (and uncharacterstically emotional) upon finishing my first Hardrock 100. I hope they let me come back next year because I think I can get a little more out of myself there if given the chance.

Down: I was angry that my stomach betrayed me at Leadville. While the YouTube video is great, I think I could've taken care of myself a bit better and been closer to 19 hours than I was.

Up: I was downright giddy about my split from May Queen to the Finish. It wasn't exactly Duncan Callahan like (he did it in two hours in 2008!) but it showed me that I could still reel 'em in after a long summer on the trails.

Now, it's off to a bit of hibernation to gear up for next year. That is, after I pace Hank Dart to his first Wasatch finish on Friday night.

Happy Autumn, everyone!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Angeles Crest

As the news out of Southern California continues to get worse and worse I find myself deeply saddened. Indeed, wildfires are a fact of life in the American West and the Angeles Crest National Forest has been miraculously spared for the past 40 years, until the last few days. Now, it appears, the luck of the Karma Squirrels has run out.

It is brutal. Painful. Devastating. News of firefighters evacuated from Chilao, flames engulfing Cloudburst, inferno-like heat approaching Shortcut, and the threat to those wonderful, quirky, Deliverance-like cabins on the run-in to Chantry just break my heart. Never mind the cancellation of this year's AC race, this fire is likely to profoundly effect the future of one of the most unique and expansive urban/forest interfaces in the world. And, in the process, potentially end a generation of ultrarunning history in a few days.

For me, I must admit, this whole thing is intensely, deeply personal. And, therefore, much more painful.

AC was my first 100 miler in 2000. I have run it four times. It was the first race where I felt the thrill of being in the hunt. Both being the hunter and being the hunted. It's where I first left my guts on the trail and where I first learned what it took to get it done. In fact, it's the race that taught me about Acute Renal Failure!

From the beautiful expanses of the high ridge running down from Baden-Powell (and the deliciously sweet water from the Little Jimmy Spring:) to the slightly pungeant taste of the air when you transition over to the "city" after Newcomb Saddle, this course has it all. As one of the pure, point-to-point courses in ultrarunning it is a true standard that has stood the test of time. Now, that all hangs in the balance. Maybe, O'Brien's record will stand forever.

For me, above all else, the AC course is where I learned to run. It's where I went to school. It's where I got my first taste of what has today become an inextricable part of who I am. That, ultimately, is why this fire feels, to me, like it might feel to have your childhood home destroyed.

In the late-'90's when I was finding my way into this sport I discovered the AC course and the group of guys who called it home. From my mentor Tommy Nielsen and his band of Bad Rats (Ben Hian, Tracy Moore, Jeff Hines, Al Valverde, Scott Mills, et al...) to the warm hearted souls of Guillermo Medina and Jorge Pacheco, to the laugh-a-minute world of Larry Gassan and Andy Roth, the AC course and its training runs made me who I am as a runner. Add to that the hard work and devotion of long-time AC race directors Hal Winton and Ken Hamada and you have a mix of people you won't find anywhere else. And now, that brotherhood of the trail is threatened and may well be already dead.

As the flames climbed their way up Mt Wilson this past weekend I thought rather viscerally about the miles I had logged on the AC course over the years. What they have taught me and who they have given to me. In the end, that is enough, I hope. However, it doesn't make the tragedy any easier to swallow and as a result of that, tonight, I must say, I am very, very sad.

Here's hoping everyone stays safe and somehow there's a happy ending in all this.