Tuesday, June 28, 2011

From PDX with Love

It's been a little while since my trip to Portland, but I haven't stopped thinking about what a great time I had there.

Directly after flying in, Bobby picked me up and we headed out to a place that he was super excited to check out. The place was called McMenamins and it was AWESOME. It seems like an old retreat hotel and compound that was transformed into a brewery! And they have golf! We played 20 holes of the par 3 course with some phenomenal beer... Nothing like the beer girl selling bombers of kick ass IPA instead of Bud light.

From here we went back to the casa de Dettmer to meet up with Natalie and prepare for our night out. After much catching up we headed out to eat at a place called Pok Pok for some Thai food and found we had some time as they were on a long wait. No problem, and we took a stroll through an awesome Portland neighborhood and sat down for drinks and appetizers at the Whiskey Lounge. While out on our stroll I may have made a few comments about how many Asians there were in Portland (I had imbibed in a bit too much to drink so my volume control and filter had left me...). It was similar to how I felt moving to Denver, just with the white people (my hometown of Salinas, CA is filled with Mexicans like me so I had just assumed other places were like mine). I believe the population of Asians is generally higher in the PNW than other places in the US, which makes for some great cultural delights such as...

Pok Pok. It could have been that we had waited for a while, but I was really impressed with the food. It was AMAZING. Natalie had been stoked to try it, and usually when something is talked up, it disappoints. Not this one. I can't remember a better Thai meal, ever.

We had great conversations all day, it was just a delight to see my great friends again after far too long. We talked and hung out until it was LATE, and then headed off to catch a few hours of sleep before the race.

Race day.

After the race, we headed back to the house to clean up as I was a muddy mess, and then slipped off to downtown Portland for food and beers at Deschutes Brewpub. More great conversation and crazy good food. I had two meals and then had to order some extra sweet potato fries! But, before long it was time to head home. While I was excited to see my wife and son, I wished I had even more time to hang out with my great friends. To Bobby and Natalie, thank you so much for picking me up, touring me around, and being such excellent and exciting people. Hopefully we'll see you soon!

Monday, June 27, 2011

This past weekend...

Good eats in Pb...

Heading to Fish...

Xavier just a little excited about cutthroat trout...

Ready to run...

Checking up on WS100 and chuckin' rocks...

Happy kiddo...

Block 1

I have to say, that training for a 100 mile race is perhaps the most mentally perplexing thing I've taken a stab at in terms of my athletic career. Nobody seems to have a set idea, and more so than any other distance, the routes taken vary wildly. Success cannot be guaranteed, and it seems that fitness only gets you through half of the race. I have attempted to mash together some techniques from others, and gone with the idea of basically running as much as I can when I can with a concerted effort to try and reduce the amount of time I spend away from my family. I've done a decent job with that, and here are the last four weeks:

5/30-6/5 - 101mi LR of 26/17 Sat/Sun
Spent the focus of vertical and time on feet, both long days on Mt. Falcon.

6/6-6/12 - 103mi LR of 26 Sat
Tried to keep the volume without going crazy to stay "fresh" for Bighorn. LR was Stone Horse Trail/Bear Creek Lake/Matthews/Winters lollipop.

6/13-6/19 - 100mi LR of 33 Sat
Bighorn race. Was able to run hard downhill, really hard. Struggled with the moderate climbs, luckily there were few. Incredibly sore after the 6500' of downhill.

6/20-6/26 - 101mi LR of 17/14 Sat/Sun
Concerted effort to back off and try and recover while maintaining volume. Took it "easy" this weekend with slow runs. Altitude Sat starting at 6th and Harrison down the boulevard around the road to MQ with Xavier in the stroller (damn tough uphill at 10K), then finished off solo around to Matchless.

Last week was a tough one coming off of the race, perhaps even tougher than racing on heavy legs because I ran myself into the red a good bit more than I had planned at Bighorn. I got it done however, and my plan for those last four weeks was accomplished. I ran a ton, raced without a break, and recovered. I certainly feel the fatigue, but I think it is getting better. I have a big week in store vertically and at altitude as I'll be a bachelor for a week while Rachel and Xavier go on vacation to California. No use sitting around the house by myself, so I'll try to maximize the training as best I can. I'm hatching a plan in my head, but it's pretty broad and I'm leaving lots of grey area. I'm trying to focus on being able to handle the rough patches, the times when I know I'll want to drop. Good stuff in the Roes video, and I think he's right on. Anyone can run hard when they feel good, I need to focus on managing the damage. I won't rehash my ideas for time, but I will run as I feel fit. I will take what the day gives me, but I will also try to put myself in a position to run to my potential. I can only control so much, but I hope to do those things well and adapt.

On to block 2.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bighorn 50K

Like all good race weekends this one started with me realizing I forgot a multitude of things like my watch, sunscreen, and the bag I'd drop my pre-race gear in. That's not a big deal, but I like using my watch to fuel on regular intervals. In any case, I decided on a race strategy that might get me the win: take it out extremely hard, try to bring the other contenders with me and put everyone in the hurt box so that it became a suffer fest. I knew that the last 11 miles were 6 down and 5 flat so I liked my chances if I could get there and still be in the mix. Secretly I hoped to build a huge lead and be able to coast in. On to the race...

Race morning, I drove myself to the park in Dayton, did some work in the port-o-jon and hopped on the last bus. For some reason nobody wanted to sit next to me (maybe because I was wearing jeans and a jacket?) so I enjoyed my space and chatted with folks across the isle (good Laramie folk Perry-Silent Trails RD, and Brian). Arriving at the start I stripped down to my shorts and t-shirt banking on the day warming up which was a good decision overall, but I was freezing waiting there. I apparently did not understand that the course had changed yet again as they were able to gain access to Dry Fork, and after a quick run down of where we were headed I was good to go. Line up, bang, and we're off.

The new alternate course was 7 out, 7 back, 19 in. Wyoming math shows that to be 50K, or 33 miles, your choice. I took it out hard down the hill, really hard, too hard. Typically, I have difficulty making sure I can keep my heart rate up on the downs, but not this time, I was full tilt boogie and without a watch I can only guess that it was low 5's. After the initial drop, we hit crazy mud and stream crossings on rolling climbs to the turnaround (a man in a chair on the side of the trail with a flag). On the way back, I learned that my lead was not really that big, maybe a minute and I was not working well on the climbs. Flats and downs were fine, but the climbing was dreadful and I could feel the mileage accrued in my legs early. Not a great sign, but I dug in and kept plugging along.

Lots of folks on the way back were really kind and encouraging with words and I hope I didn't seem too off putting, but I was working hard and it was tough to make any additional efforts. Couple of GU's on the way back, and on the grinder climb back to Dry Fork Alex from Park City came right up behind me to about 10 feet and I thought for the first time, maybe I won't pull this one down after all. Quickly, I tried to push that out of my head. We hit Dry Fork essentially together, and while he grabbed supplies, I powered through. We had another good bit of climbing on an easy dirt road and I rallied and built up my lead again. Near the top, we're on some sort of off trail rocky meadow climb and I can see him a few hundred meters back and put in another surge on the flattish descent. This seemed to work a bit better.

At this point we're on a mix of 4x4 "road" and off trail marsh, most of which was either mud, or under a few inches of water. It was wild, but I was having a great time playing in the mountains. This is what I signed up for. I kept heading down the ridge to an aid station with 12 to go and just after that I nearly killed my race with a wrong turn, but I quickly realized my error, crossed the river and started what I call "that climb". It's short, but steep. No real trail for the first half and it was muddy and slick. Like trying to go up Oil Can road in Forest Park. I had to dig deep here and I chanced a glance back about 3/4 of the way up the climb. Just 100 meters back was a runner gaining on me (found out later it was Don Demetriades). Crap. On the top of the climb, I knew that I was winning, and that this was where I needed to be. I wanted to have a big lead and just take it in, but I had no choice.

At this point, I'd love to say that I remember the wonderful scenery, but instead I found a downhill pace I'll call "hospital pace." If you fall, you go to the hospital. Again, without a watch, I have no real idea how fast it was, but I put 14 minutes on Don in these 6 miles. I have to think it was sub-6. In all reality, I was out of control running down here, laser focused to the extremely rocky and steep trail. I didn't dare look back or anywhere else, all I could do was keep pushing the pace. Sections of trail were loose rocks, others weaving through trees and mud, but mostly it just steep. I blasted through the aid near the bottom, grabbed water with 5 to go and hit the dirt country road that leads to the finish. A volunteer yelled something like, "you better break blah blah 45," which I thought meant 4:45. I kept thinking, there's no way I'm not faster than that, but maybe she said 3:45, which wasn't going to happen in a million years. In any case, I just had to stay motivated and run these last flat miles hard. I can't say for sure what the splits were here, but I chanced some glances back and didn't see anyone which let me ease off the pace. I got doused by the water tanker spraying the road which was awesome, and then there was this angel girl with not quite frozen otter pops. I wanted to stop and hug her, it was the best thing ever, cold liquid sugar...

Rounding the last turn and into the park, I took a longing glace at the Crazy Woman Saloon, but resisted and made my way to the finish. I eased up as my family ran over to the finish, and tried to get Xavier to run with me but he was dizzy and a bit sick from an over extended time on the merry-go-round. Had I known my time, I may have ran hard through the finish without stopping, but I had no thoughts of a CR and I didn't even know what time it was. I settled for a kiss and a hug and walked across the finish line.

I was initially told that my time was 4:08:20 and that I had set a CR, in fact 3 or 4 volunteers congratulated me on the CR. A bit later I found out that we started 3 minutes past 8:00 and that my official time was 4:05:20, a PR. As I logged into my computer this morning, I did some checking after remembering something about the CR being faster, and it seems that I was just shy of it. Regardless, this was my first win at an ultra event, a PR, and one hell of a time.

**edit** After some kind words from Mr. Ricks, I'm claiming the snow course CR! He pointed out, and it is true, that no one has run faster on that course!

I learned a lot about myself, about being able to feel beaten and dig past it and dip into a more primal energy store. When I got caught, both times, I was initially super bummed, but was able to think rationally, and devise a strategy to push even harder. For the win, I received a free pair of Maui Jim sunnies, and one huge rock!

That thing is heavy!

With the conditions on course (crazy mud and water), I wore my Inov-8 X-talons with Drymax Hyperthin running socks. I expected that my feet would be wet all day, so a crazy thin sock that held zero water and a grippy shoe were key, that strategy paid big dividends. My feet are perfect. My quads, however, are feeling some big time soreness! Rocked my theaidstation.com shirt (thanks Jeremy), and was comfortable all day.

My best friend rocked the 50 mile event, finished 7th, ripped an hour and a half off his PR and "rocked" it as well!

Gunner rockin' it.

I can't thank the race staff and volunteers enough, this race was crazy well put together. There were literally HUNDREDS of volunteers and everything went smoothly, the course was marked great, and the awards were fantastic (I got a sweet vest with the race embroidered on it). As others before me have stated, the Bighorns are really special, and not many folks get to see them. You can tell that the trail is seldom used outside of the race for human travel, and that is a shame. This place is a gem. Both Dayton and Sheridan were beautiful, set right up next to the mountains.

I need to thank the Larson family (Gunner's Grandparents) for such a great time and hospitality. It was a family reunion of sorts with Aunts and Uncles, cousins, and the Mexicans from Denver! The night of the race, we moseyed on down to the local park for ice cream and it was glorious. I can't say this about many races, but I know for sure I'll be back to this one!

Post race "recovery"

4 weeks 'til Silver Rush... 9 weeks 'til Pb... The fun is just beginning!

Xavier riding the Raptor at Sanford's in Casper

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What taper?

June has been my largest and most consistent month of training so far (and we're just halfway done). I feel quite fit actually, and I've been amazed how my body feels like it is not only absorbing the mileage, but actually thriving on it. There have been times over the last two weeks that I have been getting an urge to turn the screws during my daily runs and let loose, but I want to get a few more weeks of build before I work on that. So, 16 days, 255 miles. Headin' up north in the morning for some time in the mountains. Life is good is it not?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bighorn Thoughts

We are now four days out from the Bighorn trail races and I'm counting the hours until the fun begins. With insane snow levels in the Bighorn mountains (something like 350% of normal), the new courses have been laid out. As I had presumed, the 50K course remains relatively unchanged, with only the opening miles changed. I'm happy with that, though it eliminates a small climb which is compensated with what appears to be a slightly longer course. Since it's never been run, I can't say with certainty how long it will be, but I'm guessing it'll be roughly 33 miles. As KJ would say, "more kilometers, more fun."

Physically, each day is a new day, and I'm learning to deal with general fatigue. With my mileage really beginning to pick up, I need to focus on getting more sleep (easier now that I have finished up my last class of the spring and have some more time this summer). I also want to try to focus on eating better, not that I eat poorly, I actually eat quite well thanks to my wife who is an excellent cook. Still, I need to snack better, and be sure to take in calories directly post run. I'm generally pretty good about it, but I need to make more of an effort to make sure I don't miss it as I don't have the opportunity to just relax and take a week off.

As for the actual race this weekend, I'm cautiously optimistic. The course seems to play to my strength as a downhiller, and with the sloppy conditions, it *should* mean that the speedsters should not be able to really put leg turnover into the mix. That leaves the less talented, less mentally stable folks like myself who love the unpredictability of running downhill as fast as possible with unsure footing. The last race I really had a good amount of this (despite PDX's short mudslide) was Hellgate's opening bombers. I had a great time running with Karl during those descents and I plan to take the same "devil may care" attitude here. Competition wise, there are a few guys to catch my eye after running through the list, but you never really know. The 50K has generally been a pretty slow race, but last year's 2nd place finisher JD Warren will be back for another shot.

We'll be heading up Friday morning, Gunner in tow (he's racing the 50M), and staying at his grandparent's place (cabin if the road is clear, house if not). Really looking forward to spending some time with them as they are some of my favorite people in the world, Scandinavian hospitality! Won't have internet for a while while there, but I'll hope to send a picture or two from my phone from the Crazy Woman saloon. I've heard from some guy who finished the Rocky Mountain Slam that a trip to Dayton without a visit to the Crazy Woman is incomplete. Anyway, loose goal is top 3, just so I can retain my "elite" status...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Invite to the Butte...

Lake House in Evergreen tonight at 5:30 if you're interested. Gonna run up this:

Photo: JP

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My bugs have friends

So, as I've posted earlier, I've dealt for a few months with giardia. Monday, I learned that yes, in fact, giardia was definitely there. However, what I had not expected was that those little bastards made friends: Blastocystis Hominis. It's effects are not that different from the Giardia and since I've gone rounds with flagyl (with some success), I'll be heading onto another round of antibiotics which hopefully does the trick for good.

The flagyl has helped for sure, but I'm still not 100% so to speak and I would really like to be as I have just really entered into the meat and potatoes of Leadville prep. Here goes nothing...

Oh, and BigHorn seems like it will for sure be using an alternate course to some extent due to snow pack well beyond what even we have here in the high mountains. Not sure if this affects me on the "weeny" course, but we'll see.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The last few weeks...

White Ranch



Mexican Poolside

Friday, June 3, 2011

May in review

354 miles makes for a decent month, steady and solid, I've never put up 3 months like the last 3 months and I feel strong. Actually, much better as of this writing as the meds I'm on have been working well. There were some periods of tough sledding, but I hope I can attribute that to the bugs. Got in another race, a pretty good one and felt stong at the finish which was a continued good sign for me. These next two months are the big ones for me, hoping to 95+ mile weeks and more vert/altitude.

Big Horn should be interesting, depending on snow melt, it looks like we may be forced onto an alternate course.

Also, something is messed up with my blogger account and I can only comment on blogs where the comment screen is on a separate page like mine. Any blog where you just type it in and hit submit it won't let me chose my google profile or submit, frustrating. Sorry if this is one of your blogs, I've tried to post comments but I end up frustrated and give up.