Wednesday, March 30, 2011


A few weeks ago I picked up my first sponsor and was super stoked. Most of the ultrarunning world knows of Drymax as the company is both highly active in the community as well as highly used. After exchanging a few emails with Bob, I received a box of about 15 pairs of socks, all different kinds, to test out. To be honest, I had no idea they even made so many different styles, and it took me a while to even get through running in them all. For example, they've got 3 separate styles for trail running alone!

I'd previously run in the traditional trail running version and the hyper thin running, so I knew I was getting into a product that I could believe in. After going through all of the test samples, I found that all the socks I ran in were meritable on their own, but that I definitely had a two favorites: the Running Mesh Lite, and the Trail Running Lite. The styles allow you to pick a certain sock for a specific type of run if you're into that kind of thing, and they've got cold weather socks and hot weather socks and everything in between (literally). I wore the Trail Run Max Protection during Way Too Cool and despite running through water/mud for 31 miles with a terrible shoe selection, I walked away with no blisters or any other foot issues.

Perhaps you're like me and you are wary of people who are sponsored saying, "I wear this, you should too!" Don't take it from me, there is a reason a large portion of the ultrarunning world uses Drymax, and it's because they work, period. While they are going to cost you some money, they're cheaper than a lot of other performance sock brands like Smartwool. The multiple styles allow people to find what they prefer, but I'd say, if you don't take it from me, talk to someone who wears a pair who is not sponsored (they won't be hard to find).

Monday, March 28, 2011

More of a plan

I made an executive decision to limit my weekly miles to 90 through roughly the end of April. Looking at my training I've been satisfied, but a bit concerned about the lack of true focus to any particular workout outside of the long run. I have been getting some great consistency and volume (for me) over the past 4 weeks and I feel like I'm ready to race now more so than I was going into Way Too Cool. The long runs I've done have left me with a growing sense of confidence about my base and endurance. This past Saturday, when I got back to the parking lot, I can honestly say that I felt fresh despite the fact that the rolling 7 days put me at 106 miles. It was as good as I've ever felt after running 31 miles, which I guess is a good sign. However, with my near term races both being 50K, I definitely have a need to start working some more quality into my week, and introduce some tempo work to get that going. I'm also planning to do some uphill repeats or tempo work as well, stuff I hope pays off come August. The plan I'm working on now will hopefully culminate with six 100+mi weeks leading into Leadville's taper. Cheyenne Canyon appears to be gaining more traction and looks like it will probably be a lot more competative than I initially thought due to them putting up $500 for the winner. I had the pleasure of meeting and running with Brendan this past Saturday and he'll be down there as well. I had to laugh a bit when he recounted essentially my feelings about the race when he signed up, basically that it was a nice new race, likely to be small and we could probably sneak away with a win. It appears now that it will be a good battle for the top spot.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Back in January I wrote that I would not be running Leadville this year. I have an admission, that's not really all that true.

When Rachel and I talked about Pb and the pending child we sort of came to the month buffer, basically if we were a month or closer to the due date, I would not run. When we found out about the new kiddo, we had (incorrectly) assumed that the due date would be early September when in actuality it was September 24th. When I wrote that last post, I was operating off the assumption, only finding out a week later that it wasn't true.

So, near the end of the open window I snagged a slot for Pb (not knowing it'd reopen again anyway) and I've been training as if I'll be there. There are some maybes here and there, and Rachel and I have some agreements in place in regards to me being there, but if all goes well, I'll be toeing the line come August.

I think I can run well at Pb, but I've also never run 100 miles, so it's been both exciting and scary at the same time. I'll likely glean as much from other more experienced ultrarunners as I can and show up with splits and a plan. When I finished Hellgate last year, I thought there was still some race left in me. I'm guessing that won't be the case here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Way Too Cool - Race Report

Driving to the start of Way Too Cool is a pretty cool endeavor in and of itself especially if you are an ultrarunner who is aware of all the history given Western States without having run the race. Seeing signs like "Forest Hill" on the way in have a way of tugging at you and getting you amped for a long day in the canyons.

As for the race it was really interesting to me. Certainly the largest I've ever been a part of with nearly 600 runners toeing the line. I wandered my way near the front, but making sure I wasn't on the heels of the big boys but rather near the likes of the top ladies. All of a sudden the entire field was sprinting down the road like the start of a local 5K and all I could think was, "holy shit this is stupid." Mile one is pavement and gradually downhill and the split came... 6:12... uh oh, I can't remember the last time I ran a low 6 minute mile (perhaps something to work on) and I'm a good 60 runners off the lead. So many WTF's in my mind, certainly all these guys (there weren't any ladies up there yet) were going to fade later on and I'd catch them.

So we're cruising onto the dirt now, sort of twisty turny, then the first stream crossing and I'm soaked from head to toe (should have done more homework on the race I guess). This first 8-9 mile section was pretty wet and muddy and I came close to going down more than a few times with my worn down Saucony Kinvaras. The pace was retarded still at 4 miles so I stop to take a leak and let some folks pass, look back down at my watch and I'm starting to split something a bit more palletable, like 7 flat, so I get back to it. We did some fun cross country style running through muddy bogs and more water then smooth single track and a short climb back to the start area. Waved to my Dad, Sis, and friends who were out at the race, made some noise and started cruising down to the river. The descent was fun, but would have been a lot more fun if I had chosen a better shoe for the race as I kept slipping in the mud.

(descending to the river)
The miles 12-17ish are the most boring of the race, but you can make good time and take in the canyon a bit because it's a gravel road along the river. Here we hit the 15 mile mark and I told myself to just keep the effort steady and solid all the way back in. That was the plan, though I was a good 15-30 minutes ahead of my scheduled arrival. All day so far the legs were holding up, tired, sort of sputtering, but strong, and I knew they would hold well through the latter half. I made it up a tough 1/4 mile grunter which I thought was the start of the climb back out of the river, but it was a false start and then the climb was over. I thought it was supposed to be a tough climb out of the river, but I pretty well made it through without notice and I just kept chugging along and eating a gel every 20 minutes. I was a bit crampy for the miles between 20-29 but I forgot to bring my salt and it was hotter than I expected, but it wasn't a game changer, I was just a bit uncomfy. I kept cruising for the most part but goat hill really kicked my ass. I was rather cocky coming up to it given the climb out of the river being not much to talk about but I had to walk it, and it was a nasty bee-yatch. Luckily it was short and we got to run some nice rolling singletrack for a while coming out.

The miles leading into the Hwy 49 crossing were tough on me because they wanted to be hammered, just like the first mile, but I couldn't turn the gear. I just didn't have the speed to push it, so I took in the views and some company with Hozumi Nakai who'd been playing leapfrog with me the last few miles. Got to see the crew again at mile 29!

(Hozumi and I mile 29.5)
We crossed Hwy 49 and Hozumi made a move but I couldn't respond, just didn't have the get up to get after it. But I grunted my way up to the finish line and crossed in 4:08:41 (full results).

In the end it was quite a bit faster than I had intended on going, but I don't feel all that different than after a standard long run. I have big expectations for myself this year and I think this effort was right in line with what I'm looking for. I knew myself going in, and pretty well did what I came to do, I ran hard but never overdid it. I think I have come along way, proof of that is the fact that this was a 50K PR by an hour and ten minutes. I don't think I'll ever be able to say that again!
Post race I met and chatted with Jacob Rydman (yet again another impressive run in his 2nd ultra) and Joelle Vaught (yet another win, both over all the women and me!). After downing a couple cokes I had to hit the road and start our trek back down to Spreckels, not before hitting up In-N-Out though... I'm ready to keep it going, both body and mind are back in the grind!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The real reverse taper

275 miles in 22 days with 0 days off. That's what I'll have going into Way Too Cool.

Part of the reason for this is that I made a concious effort to tie all of my workouts towards Cheyenne Canyon in April and that means no time for rest right now. Then I've got some other plans that need base miles to build upon and I think I'm heading in the right direction. I feel good actually, my body has responded to the 90+ miles remarkably well and though I'm feeling leg tired (just fatigue, not really soreness even), I have still been able to go out and keep a solid day by day workout going. My plan for the year (training wise) has sort of come about from a compiling a bunch of ideas and insight from others who have had success and tailoring it for me. Not that I have any experience with training plans, but I don't really have any other option at the moment.

I know Way Too Cool is too fast for me, meaning, I'm not ready to gun it and run flat fast miles. I am ready to grind out some miles toward the end though, and for that I'm excited. No sub 4 time for me, I think that if I end up sub 4:15 it was probably a mistake and I ran too hard. Right now a loose goal is 4:25 or 4:30. Enough to get the blood pumping, but not too much to need any kind of structured recovery. Who knows, I'm just stoked to run, and a bit nervous. I really like the jittery pre-race feeling that the first race of the year brings. We fly out tomorrow, so I'll catch you on my way back home. Post race, I have some Central Coast singletrack waiting outside of my Parent's front door (perhaps I'll get a sunrise over the coast from Mt. Toro).

Thanks to the guys who keep throwing the good advice my way, I know especially on this type of course I need to smart early on, but hearing it from someone else helps make the point. I often have irrational thoughts about killing this race, but my smarts keep telling me how stupid that would be. Race smart, race hard, but know that this is the beginning, not the end.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February by the numbers

I hadn't seen February as a particularly good month as I thought about it in my head, but the numbers were better than I thought. 280 miles on a short month, and dead on my loose number goal of 10 miles a day average for the year.

Two days off is a really good start to the training block. I felt like I really lulled there in the middle of February, but the combination of being sick, the family sick, and class all had me backed up and tired. The stretch of the last 10 days or so has been particularly good, with a solid mix of hills and strength training in there. I feel it in my legs when I wake up, and I feel it for sure on the run for a while, but I'm beginning to also get that feeling of hitting 15 miles and starting to feel good again. To me this means I've been doing some things right, but also that it will be a while longer before I'm truly ready to go.

This year I've tried to add a purpose to my training and get in a long slow build up so that I can enter a period of sharpening 8 weeks before my goal event and show up ready. Most everything else will be secondary, and I'll likely not take much of a taper going into CC50K or Big Horn, but there are always ways to make it work. I feel good right now, and my confidence (though perhaps misguided) is coming along. I think I'll write up something about how that can affect my training/racing in a very real way. Funny thing is the more you think about it the more you hear it all around you, I even listened to a Radiolab podcast that essentially confirmed what I had going on in my head, but I'll link that into a real post on the subject of confidence and it's role in my running.

Now I'm 1 week 4 days from Way Too Cool and getting stoked!