Monday, April 22, 2013

The Grand Canyon

Thursday afternoon, as I sat staring at my computer screen, I simply couldn't focus.  I needed to get going, I needed to head west.  The weather notwithstanding, I was just so incredibly excited to go see the Grand Canyon for the first time, and to truly experience it.  We surly accomplished that.  Immediately upon arrival, we stopped to check out the views, then after checking in at the hotel we came back for sunset and beers.  Amazing.

3 of 5. Me, Donnie, and Todd.  Photo: Jeremiah Greif

Excited? Yeah.  Photo: Jeremiah Greif

Starting to sink in.  Photo: Jeremiah Greif
That alarm came early and we fumbled about getting ready for a long day in the ditch.  Greg's lady kindly shuttled us from the Bright Angel Trailhead to the South Kaibab and we took some photos and started running down the trail with shouts of joy and stupid grins plastered on our faces.

Down, down, down.  Photo: Todd Gangelhoff
We stopped at nearly every overlook without asking, but with all of us muttering some variation of "holy shit, man."  This is why...
Really? Really.  Photo: Todd Gangelhoff
The long way down seemed surreal, each new cliff face a new canyon and a new sight.  A short hold up with some mules could not derail our giddiness and before long we'd reached the Colorado.

Greg.  Photo: Todd Gangelhoff
Once we'd topped off water at Phantom Ranch, we began the flattish trail up towards Cottonwood Campground and I was instantly dropped by Todd and Donnie, who were blazing away, but slightly ahead of Jeremiah and Greg.  I nearly ran into the river a few times while staring up at the canyon walls.  The temps were ideal while my legs were already toast!  Perhaps the 45 miler last weekend was a bit of an excessive treat prior to a GC trip...
Jeremiah and I.  Photo: Todd Gangelhoff
In any case, I was passed by Jerimiah somewhere before CCG and I began lugging my way up the North Kaibab Trail.  Just below the ranger quarters, TK came up behind me and we said hi briefly and I could instantly tell he was gunning for Dakota's FKT as he was motoring.
My favorite stretch of trail, on the ridge, South Kaibab Trail.  Photo: Todd Gangelhoff
Somewhere before the overlook TK came flying back down, shortly followed by Todd and Tressa from Boulder.  All three were absolutely hammering the down, and I was content to know that I was nearing the top.  Up there, I met Jeremiah and Donnie, and we decided to head back down quickly since we were all nearly out of water.
Mmmmmm.  Photo: Jeremiah Greif
While I love downhills more than most,  my already hammered quads were barking at another 5K of drop!  Eventually we made it back down to CCG as it was really starting to heat up.  We spent a good chunk of time cooling off and picking up some more water.  From there we ran a solid pace back to Phantom Ranch where we were all pretty damn dehydrated and we lamented between ourselves while sucking down some Lemony Lemonade.
Canyons inside of canyons.  Photo: Jeremiah Greif
Only one thing left, about 10 miles and five thousand plus feet of vert!  I found myself in the middle of the group, isolated in an odd state of soreness and decent motor.  Lots of power hiking and a bit of running and I was making solid time until about 3 or 4 to go when I was out of water and feeling like I was about to puke all over the Chinese tourists that littered the trail.  I sat down in the shade to collect myself and serendipitously ran into Jay from the Springs.  He offered me a bar, which I declined, but got up to hike with him.  Turns out, Jay is the greatest pacer in the history of mankind and I nearly forgot just how terrible I felt!  After grabbing some water, we chatted life and plans while drinking in the last of the views from the Bright Angel Trail.  As I got to the last 1/4 mile I jogged up to the top and collapsed next to Todd and Jeremiah.

What do you do to top that? Crush some smothered burritos, multiple orders of tacos, the scraps of Donnie's meal, and a shot of Patron!  This was definitely the highlight of my year so far, and I cannot wait to go back!  In all, I was out there for 10 hours and 44 minutes, a distinctively pedestrian time, but a damn good time.  One day I'll go back and take a crack at running it fast, but it was so enjoyable to just go and spend a day tooling around one of the most incredible places this world has to offer.  If ever there was a reason to be an ultrarunner, this was it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cedro Peak 2013

As I sit and type this, I've got some memories planted firmly in my flesh.  Saturday was just "one of those days" for me.  From the off I had all kinds of blinking lights in the cockpit.  "Man, my legs are dead." "Well, good thing I forgot to charge my headlamp, I can't see a damn thing."  Four of us were together from the start, and we bumbled through the first 10 miles at a leisurely pace.  My body was fine, my breathing was fine, but just no go in the sticks.  As disconcerting as it was, I knew that the goal was larger, keep working, keep plugging through, that's the goal.

Coming off Cedro Peak on the way out (somewhere around 12 miles) I found myself hurtling towards the ground face first with no hands in front.  My body made an executive decision to attempt to take the fall with my left shoulder, and I was left to assess the damage.  I quickly got up, and the adrenaline seemed to hold everything together, no broken bones, no excessive bleeding, good to go.

I ran essentially with or near Jacob Lawrence(eventual winner) until aid 5.  Essentially he kept plugging at a solid pace, and I began to have some more issues.  I took 2 tylenol around 4 hours, which ended up causing some  kidney dysfunction.  Coupled with some slight dehydration, I had some issues with dark urine and pressure, so I essentially shut down the last 14 miles and jogged/hiked back to the finish.  I knew that Jacob was gone, and that I had a lot of other things this summer to do, so I wasn't keen to make a bad day worse by charging through the warning signs.  I don't know much about it, but I do know that the cases where people get in trouble are where they continue to push hard for long periods of time after these (or, likely worse) symptoms.

I ended up finishing in 7:46, good enough for second, but a long way from my targeted goal.  Sometimes, you have to play the cards you're dealt.  Once I was done, I started the process of flushing my system.  Between the time I finished and the time I'd arrived I took down somewhere in the range of 200 oz of water and Gatorade.  I've been peeing clear ever since I got home and haven't had any associated discomfort, so I'm confident that I avoided any lingering issue.  In fact, Sunday was my first day off in about 2 months.

Of course, a big congrats to Jacob (we've raced a couple times now), who ran a smart, steady race and seemingly held a consistent effort all the way through.  Also, Kim King (new RD) and her crew put on a great race.  Well organized, some neat swag, great aid stations, well marked and honest course.

What's next for me? Grand Canyon in 5 days!  Recover and execute.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


I love the sentiment.  Looking forward to some time in the ditch.

35 from ARC'TERYX on Vimeo.

Some awesome background to the video.

Monday, April 1, 2013

March 2013

March was a pretty solid month for me, even if the long run efforts left something to be desired.  I was happy with my race at Salida given that I knocked off almost 20 minutes from 2012.  I know I've got time in me for that race, especially since I essentially ran the same race to the halfway point both years.  The shorter races definitely take a different mindset that I simply haven't mastered, and the ability to go hard from the off.

In terms of pure training, I was happy with my totals.  I hit my goal of 350 miles and 60K of vert (369.24 +60,054) and it wraps up my biggest month of vertical ever.  In April I've set my sights on pushing out the miles to 400 and the vert to 65K.  We'll see about that, but I've got a few big runs coming up to test me for sure.  First up is the Cedro Peark 45M in 2 weeks and R2R2R the following week.  I want to crank it at Cedro and hang on for the next weekend.  Hopefully I'll be able to keep the wheels turning into May and be able to race solidly at Quad Rock before tapering for Bighorn.

Lastly, there's a fun video put together from the Orcas Island 50K back in February.  I'm in it a handful of times, but you can follow a few tired strides of mine about 3:20 in or so.  Definitely worth a watch, really shows some of the beauty of the island.

Orcas Island 50k - 2013 from Project Talaria on Vimeo.