Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tentative Race Plans 2011, Sponsors

New sponsor.. as many people already know, I am officially running for Hoka One One footwear. Yeah they look funny, they are super light, (8.5 ounces for the Bondi B shoe, which I just got ahold of in my size), fast, and make your recovery easy, whether during a run or if you want to be able to train hard the next day. Has two of the Hardrock Course records by Diana Finkel and Karl Meltzer. (Due to some shipping issues I didnt race in them at Bandera.)

I also am running for Clif Bar, who I used to race for a few years ago and I am happy to be back on board. Best grassroots fuel company around.

I was with Protech sunscreen for five years, but I am so sad that they are discontinuing their line. If you wonder why my skin looks good for an old guy, Geoff, now you know. They are liquidating their products so if you would like to buy a few tubes of their stuff at half price, I can tell you how to order.. just post in the comments section if you are interested and I will post ordering info.

Still looking for an apparel sponsor...

Races 2011..
So I went ahead and accepted the Western States entry from my Bandera 100K win. I reckoned that it was better to have the opportunity if I do decide to finally race it. I have a boatload of schoolwork this spring and summer, so it may even come down to the week before the race if I do indeed decide to show up. If I do show, it sure won't be coming out of any sauna and heat training; I've had poor results from that in the past and it hasnt gotten me over the hump in heat training. Ginger on the other hand is an herb with which I will experiment in my training. I also may check the forecast the week before and if the high is over 90 degrees then I may change my mind. Call it fickle..

I am also confirmed for Miwok 100k as of now. I love that race. It seems that at least couple guys are gunning for my course record 7:51, so I want to defend, or at least work an aid station his year.

I am also switching over from the CCC (the "juniors'" race) to the full-blown UTMB 100. Go big or go home I reckon. I better get my weight down from 165 to 155 by then to even come close to the 120 lb scrappers.

Other races I am considering substituting include.. WTC, Chuckanut, Nueces 50 mile. This will be a very heavy spring of racing to make up for what will likely be a tepid 2011 fall race season. The North Face 50 may happen but I think I will be too busy and tired then anyway. I have to study hard this year so race plans will likely change.

There are also some super cool snowshoe races this winter in Colorado, like the Screaming Snowman at Eldora. If you want some real winter fun, come up and run this 10k.. you won't regret it. Also, the Beaver Creek snowshoe series is awesome too. The great thing about snowshoe racing is that it is hard as heck, especially in the Colorado powder, but when you are done, every workout you do the week after feels like a cake walk.

Snowshoe fanatics feel free to plug your favorite snowshoe race, if you are into that kind of thing.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

UROY follow-up

In hindsight my post regarding UROY wasn’t very substantial, but an off the cuff bit of a post on my part. My comments regarding the process could have been easily clarified in an email format and research instead of blogging. In regards to the process, what I have subsequently learned from Ultrarunner magazine is the below.

Anonymity in UROY/Performance of the Year voters: this was done in response to huge of amounts of lobbying to the known voters as some point in the past. Given this fact, I find it understandable that the voters are anonymous, as ultrarunners are extremely dedicated and loyal to their sport and have strong opinions. It takes tenacity, grit, and passion to run over 26.2 miles, and even more tenacity to run over 100 miles. I suggest there be a format by which the UR public can at least put comments forth that will be read by UROY/PROY voters prior to their votes being cast. Maybe a comment form, not a discussion forum, would help this.

I singled out Max King based on misinformation. I was told a running partner that he only did two ultras in 2010, which was incorrect. I should have done my homework and found that he actually was 1st at the Flagline 50k, 1st at the Hagg Lake 50K, 2nd at Way Too Cool, 3rd at the American River 50. 2nd and 3rd at WTC and AR 50 are surely notable, and possibly the wins at Hagg Lake and Flagline. He deserved the votes he got. (He also rocked the subultra scene, on the US Mountain Running Team and at Mountain Running Worlds. and won the Xterra Trail Running Championship.)

Ultrarunner residency. It turns out that indeed if a runner is from overseas and lives in the US then they are okay for UROY/Performance voting. Kind of a gray area here that should be addressed; could Anna Frost and Miguel Heras been in the voting if they’d lived in North America for a month?

Posting of Bandera 100k results. Turns out UR was just behind in website posting due to the deluge of UROY stuff.

TNF 50 Endurance Challenge. I still think this run unjustifiably doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

Anyway, I had a great time at Outdoor Retailer, got schooled on Karl’s Luge course with a bunch of fun people, and my $#1 hurts.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Heading to Outdoor Retailer, Ultrarunner of the Year thing

Not much of a post here.. Just letting you know that I will be at the best outdoor gear and social hang out in Salt Lake, Outdoor Retailer, something to rival even the weekly meetings at the Mormon Temple in downtown Salt Lake City. I will be working at the Hoka One One booth for the three days there, but also plan on going on a run with the Montrail guys Thursday evening, luging (pronounced, 'loo-jing') with Meltzer on Friday night, and catching up with lots of friends while getting paid.

The Ultra Runner of the Year results came out. Not too much to add to the winners; Geoff and Tracey are spot on. Congrats you two. For my part, I didn't expect to get many votes as I didn't start racing ultras until Firetrails 50 this past fall. However, there were some guys ahead of me who barely raced ultras, like Max King, who got some votes. I guess if you are sponsored by Montrail and that alone will score you some props, or maybe the mystery panel of UROY voters will vote for runners from their region instead of voting for national-caliber results?

I really don't care too much, but makes me wonder how their whole process works. I also noticed that Brit Ellie Greenwood made the voting, but isn't this a North American kind of tabulation? (or at least US and Canada.. Mexico doesn't seem to have many runners or events these days) Then how come Miguel Heras from Spain didn't get a vote for his NF 50 finals win?

Speaking of which, why the heck don't UROY voters give any props to the North Face 50 Endurance Challenge ? Having run tons of 50's, this was BY FAR the most competitive on US soil ever, as far as I know. The fact that UROY voters ignore this race entirely shows a flawed system. Here are my guesses why it gets no love: 1) Too late in the year to get recognition; 2) The tradionalist UROY voters don't like NF prize money that they think could sully the sport, 3) The North Face is the sponsor, and maybe there are unstated battles between shoe (or apparel) sponsors; 4) A European and a Kiwi won the finals event, and their performances don't count. I truly wonder how many of the UROY voters attended TNF event.. guess I will never know because their ID's are a mystery.

Whatever though... Ultrarunning voting has never loved that race and at this rate never will. (Interestingly, the UR website did post the results, so the problem is the UROY voters and not necessarily the mag.)

Interestingly , I won the Bandera 100K over a week ago, and the gang at Ultrarunning seem to be ignoring the result, as it didn't pop up on their website as a result worthy of posting. They got Josh Cox up there for his awesome run, the Hellgate, and HURT, but not my solid course record at Bandera 100K. I don't toot my horn muc , but I really can't figure this one out. Hmmm.. Opinions? Maybe it's me..

Anyway, maybe I'll see you at OR! Cheers..

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bandera 100K race report

Podium: RD Joe Prusaitis, Dave James, me in my Hoka One Ones, Jason Bryant. Photo off Dave J's camera

I had been uncertain what races to run in 2011, and had thought Bandera 100K would fit nicely into an extended winter of racing. The fact that it was lately named a US Track and Field trail championship, as there would be good competition, likely excellent trails, and maybe a bit of prize money all contributed to the decision to head down. In the weeks before the race Geoff Roes had said he’d be racing Bandera..another added bonus to run against the best. 5 weeks out from December’s TNF 50 is a bit closely spaced for, but thought this was enough time to be mostly recovered.

Geoff and I traveled flew down to San Antonio to share costs and company, the drove into the cowboy town of Bandera. Before the pre race dinner we ran for 30 minutes in the outskirts of rural Bandera to get the jet sluggishness out, then hit the low-key pasta and packet pick up. Camping out made for a fun change of pace, sleeping under the stars and waking right at the race start.

Course-wise, the first section and last section of the two 50K loops are mostly loose rocks and technical, while the middle 3/5 of the race is mostly fast and pleasantly runnable, with intermittent technical sections and mild climbs. I’d biked across Texas years ago on a solo US bike tour, and remembered some areas like this, but I didn’t remember the many small scrubby hills unique to hill country. These hills are loose and rocky, with some kind of cactusy saw grass that regularly scratched the thighs. I actually love this stuff, as it is a pleasure to divert the mind from the 62 + mile distance. That’s the key to surviving ultras for me: live in the moment by enjoying the terrain, nature, and the adventure of competition.

Geoff and I had talked about a hopeful a low-key first 50K, but at the start line were Chikara Omine and Dave James, both of whom like to go out fast. When the gun went off at 7:30, Dave and Chikara and two other guys went out on silly 10K road pace, while Geoff and I hung back, not that we were planning on running together but rather we pace similarly. About 2 miles into the hills we passed Chikara, who was limping from a sprained ankle. Turns out he would drop shortly after. Another unknown guy who went out with the rabbits must have taken a wrong turn as he just disappeared in the first couple miles… hope he was found!

Overall, this first 5.5 mile section was fun as it was time to suss out the legs and body and see how things were flowing, and the running was non-painful. By the first aid station, Nachos, I felt good but knew the pace was too fast to be sustainable and wanted to reel it in a bit, and Geoff mentioned he felt the same way. We both knew Dave was going too fast for his abilities and would pay on the second lap, and I knew it was too fast to keep an even 50K split for anyone out there. But knowing that Geoff was incredibly strong these days, I thought I should stay with Geoff and it felt right anyway.

The first 25 miles of the race was somewhat uneventful overall, but what was different for me this race versus other race though was the variety of foods I ate. I didn’t keep count in the whole race but easily ate 10 Clif shots/other gel types, 1.5 whole PBJ, Pringles, cheesits, two oreos, about 2.5 bananas, pretzels, about a half liter of Coke-type product, about 25 oz of water between each aid station mixed with little Heed drink. I did get a stomach cramp for about 5 minutes from the 2 oreos, probably from the lipids. I also took 7-8 S Caps, 2 E caps, and 10 x 200 mg Ibuprofen. This is an amazing variety of junk food that would even cramp up an elephant, but for some reason my instincts were correct and my stomach and fuel levels were mostly stable throughout. I also drank a ton of water between miles 42 to 45, and was able to rehydrate the last third of the race.

Anyway, things were still fast towards mile 27 when Dave James seemed to be letting up on his eager pace, and to my surprise Geoff told me he was feeling nauseous. When you are racing Geoff Roes and he says he feels crappy, if that doesn’t put a fire under your ass, nothing will. I was feeling pretty good at that point, and when Geoff slowed his pace, then stopped to pick up a gel he fumbled, I decided to pass him and Dave and keep our same pace.

Out of the Last Chance aid station (where I took a microsip of an aid station volunteer’s beer, just for the heck of it) I felt great going up the Cairns climb, and then the Boyles Bump climb, which are decent 400 foot climbs with technical footing. On the 50K midway back at the start/finish, I noted 3:43 on my watch, knowing it was way too fast to run a negative split and knew I would be paying a price for it soon. See my splits and you can tell how foolish we three were running.

On the way back out, I saw Geoff coming down off Boyles with Dave J right behind and knew I had about a seven minute lead. The rest of the 2nd loop was the game of wondering if Geoff was going to rebound and didn’t want to let up the pace, while I was sure that Dave James wouldn’t catch me and thought he may have dropped out. I went through about three lulls in the pace until the finish of the loop, and for two of these lulls I found that the aid station soda sugar was the key to pep me up, instead of the long chain carbohydrates in gels. I had originally planned on fueling the race with primarily Clif shot gels, and maybe a 2-3 bananas and a quarter of a PBJ. For some reason Coke and the other food was the key this time around.

I did end up seeing Geoff again, not on the trails but at the last two aid stations, as it turned out he had dropped out just after I saw him at the start of the second loop. Geoff is such a cool guy that he even supports his competitors when he drops out. He came out to the easily accessible Cross Roads and Last Chance aid stations and ran a bit with me. I spent a 30 seconds too long at Last Chance as I just felt plain tired at that point. But I actually gained energy in the last 4.5 miles and ended up finishing feeling quite strong, like I could go another lap if need be. But somehow the finish line corral lured me in and I ended it at a 100K in 8:17 and a course record by an hour.

Dave James came in second about 20 minutes back, so he held together a reasonable second loop. Third was Jason Bryant from NC. For the women’s race I really had no clue what was going on, but the winner was local Liza Howard, followed by Pam Smith, and Megan Arboghast.

It was pleasant bonus to win my fourth USATF national title and run on some excellent Texas trails in a new area. Joe Prusaitis did a bang up job in hosting, and I would recommend this race to anyone considering. Also, Bandera 100K being part of the Montrail cup, I won a slot into Western States, which I am intrigued to accept. But at this point though I don’t want to pay $370 I won’t use.

Splits. Here you can see how NOT to run a race; the times differences between splits from aid station to aid station and between the first and second half of the race (51 minute difference) is astounding. I need to trust those pacing instincts and reel it in!

Overall I think this course is a tad longer than the measured 100K.

0 Lodge start

43:23 Nachos 5.6 (Miles)

36:39 Chapas 11 M

37:26 Cross Roads 17 M

40:18 Cross Roads 22 M

28:53 Last Chance 26

36:21 Lodge turnaround 50K/31 miles= 3:43:03

46:11 Nachos 36.6 M

44:47 Chapas 42 M

45:13 Cross Roads 1 48 M

46:59 Cross Roads 2 53 M

41:07 Last Chance 57 M

49:44 Lodge finish 100K/62.14 M 8:17:08 (2nd half split 4:34:05.. 51:02 difference in laps)

Last thing.. I am looking for a new apparel sponsor if anyone is game!