Monday, June 28, 2010

Trying to get back in the groove

Well, needless to say, the Bighorn 50 mile was pretty rough. Ultimately though, it was a training run and although I didn't get 50 miles in as planned, I did cover 34, which is a sizeable chunk. Still, I wanted to put Bighorn behind me and get right back in to training this week. Unfortunately, this damn cold I've been fighting since right after Deadwood just would not let fact, after Bighorn it got even worse. I finally decided that I likely had a sinus infection (after a few days of blowing a seemingly never ending supply of bright yellow snot out of my nose) and went to the doctor on Thursday and got some antibiotics. Too little too late, though, and I ended up basically writing this week off as a recovery week and hoping things will improve in the coming week.

Monday - Scheduled rest day. Feeling a little sore from Bighorn, especially my quads, but not too bad.

Tuesday - 9 miles. First post-Bighorn run and it went surprisingly well. Really well, in fact. Maybe there is hope for a quick recovery?

Wednesday - 8.2 miles. Maybe not. Much more of a struggle than the day before. Just felt sluggish overall. I know this's the same way I felt for a good month after the Lean Horse 50 last year.

Thursday - 7 miles. Well, since I felt slow and sluggish on Wednesday, I may as well just run up a mountain in the afternoon when it's 80 degrees with 50% humidity. With a raging sinus infection. Brilliant! I had absolutely no energy on the climbs, but I made it to the summit of Lookout with a generous helping of power hiking thrown in. Good heat training, I guess.

Friday - 6 miles. Just a slow recovery jog around town. Felt alright.

Saturday - 12.3 miles. Met up with my friend Ryan to run the Centennial Trail from Dalton Lake to Elk Cr. The idea was to park a car at each end and then decide once we got to Elk Cr. if we wanted to run back for 24+ miles or call it a day. This section of trail is awesome. Nice single track, awesome views, nice mix of uphills and downhills and a total of 5 creek crossings. Unfortunately, my energy level was not awesome at all. My legs felt alright, but I had absolutely no energy on the uphills and we did a lot of power hiking. It didn't help that the humidity was atrocious, had to be over 90% (we ran up into fog at one point). The downhills felt much better, but I just was not in to it mentally and decided I was done when we got to Elk Cr. Felt kinda bad, because I'm sure Ryan would've pushed on and done the full 24. It was obvious by then that I would just have to write this week off as recovery and hope things improve next week if I take it relatively easy (i.e., no long run this weekend).

Sunday - 10.2 miles. Shannon rocked out an awesome 21 miler in the morning, so I didn't start my run until about 3:00 PM. By then it was pretty warm (low 80s) but there was a decent breeze, so at least there was some cooling effect. Felt reasonably decent, considering and got in some more heat training if nothing else.

Total - 52.7 miles

Actually, 52 miles is right on what my "easy" weeks are under my Lean Horse plan, so even though I didn't get a long run in, I did get some okay mileage. I was obviously hoping for more, but it is what it is. As of this week, I am officially registered for the Lean Horse 100, so now I'm feeling the extreme need to get in some good high mileage weekends, and this week certainly did not include that. Hopefully, by taking it relatively easy I'll be able to get back into ultra training mode this weekend. Ryan and I are planning another long run on the Centennial this weekend (probably close to 30) and I fully intend on finishing the damn thing this time.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bighorn DNF: A Day of Firsts

Apparently, there really is a first time for everything. Up until yesterday, I had never DNFed a race before. Thirteen marathons, two 50Ks, one 50 miler and numerous shorter races and I’d finished them all and, honestly, a DNF was the furthest thing from my mind when the Bighorn 50 started yesterday morning. I was sure I was going to finish, it was just a matter of how long it would take. I figured that no matter how bad my legs started to feel, I would be able to push through like I had done in other races before. As it turns out, it wasn’t my legs that failed me. It was my stomach, which was something I didn’t expect. Up until yesterday I had also never puked while running, whether in training or in a race. That changed too and directly led to the breaking of my non-DNF streak. In a nutshell, I finished 34 miles of the Bighorn 50 yesterday. It took me 9:15 to cover that distance. To put that in perspective, I ran the Lean Horse 50 mile last year in 9:32. I also ran the Bighorn 50K last year, just two miles shorter than the distance I covered yesterday, in 5:46. It was a rough day, to say the least. For the gory details, read on…

I made the trip to Sheridan, WY, which is about 20 miles from the finish line in Dayton and serves as the race headquarters, with two friends, Jerry and Ryan, who were both running the 30K. Actually, Ryan was not only running the 30K, but is the defending champion and went back this year hoping to set a new course record (he ended up defending his title, but coming up 2 minutes short of the record). Ryan is also an occasional training partner for the Lean Horse 100, which will the first attempt at 100 miles for both of us. Needless to say, when we run together the pace is much easier for him than it is for me, but what doesn’t kill me only makes me stronger, right?

Based on my time in the Bighorn 50K last year (5:46) and past results of other runners I recognized, I came to the conclusion that I would likely finish in a fairly broad window between 10 and 12 hours. I made myself a pace chart showing what time of day I would need to be at each aid station for a 10, 11 or 12 hour finish. Sub-10 seemed highly unlikely given that Ryan had run a 9:56 a couple of years ago and I know he is significantly faster than I am, but he contended that he made a lot of rookie mistakes that day and shuffled most of the last 10+ miles, so I left sub-10 as “perfect day” goal with the more realistic expectation of 10.5 to 11 hours barring any major setbacks. In hindsight, that was highly optimistic. Even if I hadn’t started puking, I doubt I would have finished in under 11 hours. It would have been much closer to 12; the Bighorn course is just flat out tough.

The 50 mile race starts at 6:00, but since the start line is 60 miles from Dayton and I had to ride a bus from even further away in Sheridan, I was up a the ungodly hour of 2:15 to get ready and be on the bus by 3:15. I did manage to doze most of the ride up there. The bus dropped us off at the Porcupine Ranger Station at 5:40 and I immediately got into the porta-potty line and stood in the cold (lower 40s), where I would remain until 5:57 when I finally made it to the front and took care of some business just before the race started. After the singing of the national anthem, we were off.

Porcupine to Footbridge (Start to mile 18)
This first 18 mile stretch is big net downhill, but there are a few short ups along the way. Shortly after leaving the ranger station, the course takes to the Little Horn Trail and follows it down the Little Bighorn Canyon passing through a few small aid stations before arriving at Footbridge, the first major aid station and drop bag location. Although I have been utilizing a run/walk ratio of 10 minutes to 2 minutes during my long training runs, I decided that I would run, albeit slowly, the majority, if not all, of this stretch to take advantage of the downhill, realizing that I would be doing a fair amount of power hiking on the uphill sections later in the race. This stretch of trail is absolutely beautiful, or at least the scenery I took in when I dared to take my eyes off the trail for a couple of seconds were. But, despite the downhill, the running was far from easy. It struck me early on that even the “easy” sections of Bighorn are hard. Early on there was significant snow on the trail and in fact part of the course was rerouted to avoid the worst of it. At one point, I misstepped and ended up knee deep in a snow bank. Where there wasn’t snow, there was mud and lots of it. When there wasn’t snow or mud, more often than not there were rocks. And to add to the challenge, there was a crossing of a raging, snow-melt bloated creek. It wasn’t very wide, but the water reached up to my thighs, and I’m 6’3”. And it was moving fast….one wrong step and you could easily be knocked down by the current.

Despite all that, I was feeling pretty good when I arrived at Footbridge, right on about 11 hour pace. I had been drinking water and fueling with Perpetuem, which I’ve been doing for all my long runs, and refilled both at the aid station. I also changed out of my soaked, mud-caked shoes and socks and put on a dry set I had in my drop bag. I was probably in the aid station for less than five minutes, although I didn’t really keep track.

Footbridge to Dry Fork (Mile 18 to 34)
The first major uphill of the course comes right after Footbridge and it’s a doozy. Appropriately dubbed “The Wall”, the trail scales a seemingly never ending hillside that takes you out of the canyon and back up onto the plateau above (all told, it’s approximately 2000 feet of elevation gain in about 2 miles). At the top of The Wall is the Bear Camp aid station, which is accessible only by horseback (or by running, obviously). After Bear Camp, the trail levels out some for 7 miles into Cow Camp. One of the more cruel sections is between the Cow Camp and Dry Fork aid stations; you can see the tent and vehicles at Dry Fork on top of the ridge from what seems like 100 miles away and there’s a seemingly never ending slope between you and them. Dry Fork is another big aid station and the 2nd (and last) drop bag location.

After leaving Footbridge, I felt awesome. Having dry socks and shoes felt great and I cruised a short section of trail before The Wall started and then began power hiking up. This feeling wouldn’t last long though. Appropriately, I hit the wall on The Wall. And I hit it hard. As I hiked, I started to feel my stomach start to turn. My hiking pace slowed more and more, but the feeling kept growing. Eventually, I pulled off to the side of the trail, found a secluded spot in the bushes and took care of #2, hoping that would relieve things. It didn’t. I resumed hiking and the feeling of nausea just kept worsening. Eventually, I decided the only way to relieve it was to actually throw up, so I purposely pushed the hiking pace a little faster and in no time I was spewing what seemed like gallons and gallons of water and Perpetuem into the shrubbery. It really is truly amazing how much fluid the human stomach can hold. After that was over, my stomach did feel better, but my legs and entire body in general felt weak, kinda like how you feel when you’ve got the flu. I kept walking, extremely slowly, up the seemingly vertical never ending slope. By that time, a DNF was seeming like the likely end to my day, but the question was, where could I do it? Bear Camp was too remote and unless I was seriously injured, I had no interest in being packed out on a horse.

I did stop at Bear Camp and sat for several minutes while sipping on some chicken broth and water. Eventually, I pulled myself up and set off for Cow Camp, which was 7 miles away but at least was on a four wheel drive road accessible by ATVs. That was a long 7 miles, let me tell ya. I think it took over 2 hours to cover it, considering I was traveling at 20+ minute pace because my body still felt weak. But then, magically, just as I crested a hill and could see Cow Camp about a quarter of a mile away, I started to feel better and ran most of the remaining stretch to the aid station. When I got there, I was very unsure what to do. Thirty minutes before, I had been sure I was going to drop at Cow Camp and I told the aid station captain I was thinking about it. He encouraged me to sit down and drink for awhile, which I did. By this time, it was past 1:30 and the cut-off at the next aid station was 4:00. If I moved as slowly along the 6 miles between Cow Camp and Dry Fork as I had along the stretch between Bear Camp and Cow Camp, it was likely that I would miss the cutoff. But, I decided I didn’t want to be hauled out on an ATV either, so I refilled my hydration pack and handheld and told the aid station captain I was going to see how things went and reevaluate at Dry Fork.

After I left Cow Camp, I caught a second wind and I caught it hard, like a surfer catching the ultimate wave. Immediately after leaving the aid station, I realized that I felt really good….better than I had felt since before Footbridge. So, I started running the downhills and power hiking the uphills and was “flying” along at 12:00 pace or better (there were a lot of uphills to be hiked). I started passing several people who had passed me during my rough stretch and one guy even commented as a I flew by that I had made a miraculous recovery. I was feeling great for a couple of miles and suddenly the world seemed a little sunnier again. I started doing the math in my head and thought that if I could continue like this I would easily beat the cut-off at Dry Fork and be able to finish the race in the 13 hour range. Not what I expected, but pretty damn good considering the dire circumstances I had been in not 20 minutes before. And then, just as quickly as it had come, my second wind was gone. I was reduced to walking again, and walking slowly at that as I felt the contents of my stomach start to revolt. Once again, everyone who I had just passed, passed me again and although they offered words of encouragement and told me I’d make it through, I knew then that my day was done as soon as I got to Dry Fork. Reality began to set in as I hiked the hill up to Dry Fork. I hadn’t taken in any “real” calories since before Footbridge, and I had thrown most of those up. All I’d been able to stomach since then was a small cup of chicken broth and a few pieces of cantaloupe, neither of which have much caloric value. I had been drinking quite a bit of water and Heed, but the way my stomach was feeling, that wasn’t going to remain with me much longer. I actually stopped 4 or 5 times in the last mile to Dry Fork and started heaving, but nothing came up. I could not imagine attempting to cover another 18 miles, including another big climb (“The Haul”), feeling like this and possibly not being able to keep down any calories or fluids to keep me going. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I arrived at the aid station.

Although it was only 3:15, 45 minutes ahead of the cut-off, my goose was cooked. A volunteer asked I needed my water filled and I said no, I was done. A nice medical lady directed me to a chair and told me to sit and relax for a bit, which I was more than happy to do. She asked if I really wanted to drop and I immediately said yes before I could talk myself out of it. I told her my sad tale and she immediately asked me for my bib and asked if I needed a ride down to Dayton. As luck would have it, there was a lady who was crewing for her husband who was in the aid station at the same time. She was just getting ready to leave and graciously offered to give my muddy, sweaty butt a ride. Sadly, I don’t even remember her name, although I do remember her dog’s name (Samson). That isn’t the first time I’ve done that. He was a cool dog. And he had a cool owner too.

So that’s my tale. I have no idea what caused my sickness. I will say though, that even this morning, the day after the race, while I was eating breakfast I started to feel a little off again. I’ve been battling a cold for almost two weeks now. Maybe the bug caught up to me when I stressed my body at Bighorn? Maybe the altitude (we started at almost 9000 feet) played a part? It wasn’t heat related, because it was only in the 60s. I didn’t commit one of the cardinal sins of running and try something new on race day; everything I consumed was stuff that I’ve used regularly in training. So I really have no solid answers. The only thing to do is move on. At least I got a 9+ hour long, 34 mile training run out of the deal.

From here, I’m fairly certain I’m still going to attempt the Lean Horse 100 in August. In fact, one of the friends I traveled with this weekend, Jerry, is the director of Lean Horse and as we were riding home he asked if I wanted him to sign me up. As I was puking in the bushes earlier in the day, I was 100% certain that the answer to that question was “no”, but of course that’s probably not the best time to be making decisions on such matters. So I told Jerry yes and today I’m even more certain of that. What doesn’t kill ya only makes ya stronger, right? Not to mention that Lean Horse is a MUCH easier course than Bighorn.

I’d be lying I guess if I said I wasn’t disappointed in yesterday’s result, but I am glad I pushed on as long as I did. If I had dropped earlier, I think I would’ve doubted the decision. But by the time I reached Dry Fork I KNEW that I was done; there was no longer any doubt in my mind. The only thing left to do is move on, go tackle Lean Horse and then come back next year for some revenge on Bighorn.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bighorn Preview

Here's a combination map/elevation profile for what I've got ahead of me on Saturday:

As you can see, we start a ways up, well over 8,000 ft., but then run downhill for the first 17 miles, with what looks like a pretty wicked downhill from mile 8 to 17. Then, it's 17 miles of uphill to Dry Fork, a little more uphill after that and then down into Dayton. I ran the stretch from Cow Camp to Dayton as part of the 50K last year, so I'm at least familiar with part of the course. I know that downhill from Horse Creek Ridge down into the Tongue River Canyon is a quad tenderizer and this year I get the added bonus of doing it after having already done that first steep downhill from Spring Marsh to Footbridge. I have a feeling I won't be walking down any stairs without liberal use of the hand rails for a few days after this thing is over. Oh, and let's not forget The Wall and The Haul. I have yet to experience The Wall, but I remember standing at the base of The Haul last year and wondering where in the hell the ski lift was. The Wall looks to be twice as long and even more steep. Suffice it to say, I'll be doing some power hiking along those sections....or possibly some power crawling, depending on how the day is going.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I guess under normal circumstances, this past week would have been used to recover from the Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon and taper for the upcoming Bighorn 50 mile. But there's nothing normal about ultra training and, in the spirit of using both of those races as training runs for Lean Horse, it ended up being just another week. Well, just another week with a massive head cold. In June. Which sucks. I had been developing a cough prior to Deadwood, but it really only affected me after I ran, when I would start coughing uncontrollably for a few minutes. In fact, right after finishing the marathon last Sunday, I started coughing so hard I was practically dry heaving. The next day, it went from a cough to a full on head cold, with snot-filled sinuses and massive sinus pressure. I swear I must have blown 10 pounds of snot outta my nose last week. Nice visual, huh? Fortunately, the one time during the day when I really felt pretty good was while I was running. I felt pretty miserable the rest of the week, but at least I got all my runs in. And, as it turns out, I paced Deadwood just right, because I was able to jump right back into training without skipping a beat. Definitely my fastest ever recovery from a marathon.

Monday - Rest. Just my regular Monday rest day. My legs felt a little sore, but not too bad. Certainly not on par with what I usually feel like the day after a marathon.

Tuesday - 9 miles. This would be the test. And I passed. Legs felt a little tight when I started out, but loosened up nicely and ran a really solid 9 miles. In fact, my overall pace was faster than my Deadwood pace.

Wednesday - 10 miles. Another solid run.

Thursday - 4.7 miles total, including the 3.7 mile Dino Hill Trail Race. Dino Hill is the 3rd race in the Black Hills Trail Series and is different in that it's held on a weekday evening rather than a weekend morning. The reason for that is the Summer Nights Festival, which is held every Thursday in Rapid City throughout the summer. So, the idea is to run the race on Dino Hill and then head down to Summer Nights for a free beer. Early in the day, I was wondering if the race would even go down since thunderstorms started popping early in the afternoon and running on top of a hill is pretty much the last place I want to be when lightning is in the area. But, the storms tapered off before the race started, so it was just nice and humid. I felt alright during most of the race, although the course was pretty difficult....probably the most difficult trail race so far with almost constant ups and downs, which makes it hard to get into a good rhythm. My legs did feel kind of heavy and I couldn't push as hard as I know I can, but I still ended up with my best placing so far, 8th overall and 4th in my age group. Even though I didn't feel that bad during the race, as soon as it was over I felt horrible. My legs felt like jello and my gut felt like there was an alien inside trying to gnaw its way out. Not pleasant.

Friday - 8 miles. Still felt kinda crappy, both with sinus pressure and the angry stomach. I seriously considered not running at all, but forced myself to at least give it a try and, amazingly, I actually felt much better while running and finished the 8 miles with no problems.

Saturday - 14.1 miles. It's been awhile since I put together back to back longish runs, so I figured I better get back into it. My legs didn't feel all that great to start out, but the further I ran, the better they felt and the last few miles were actually the best.

Sunday - 26.2 miles. Another week, another marathon. Not officially this time, though. I had planned on 25 miles, but if you're gonna go 25, what's another 1.2? I paced this one like I would an ultra run, 10 minutes running with 2 minutes walking and felt pretty fine the entire way. This makes at least a marathon distance long run in 4 of the last 5 weeks (40, 26.2, 20, 26.2 and 26.2) and, with Bighorn coming up this next weekend, I'll practically get two marathons for the price of one.

Total - 72 miles

So, it turned out to be neither a recovery week or a taper week, which is just fine with me. I'll probably take it a little easier this week to get rested up for my 52 mile jaunt through the Bighorns on Saturday, but I'm trying as much as possible to treat Bighorn as a training run, just as I did Deadwood. A really, really long training run.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Deadwood-Mickelson Race Report

The Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon is the closest thing I have to a hometown marathon. I live about 25 miles north of Deadwood, so this is the one and only marathon where I can sleep in my own bed the night before and be home in time for lunch afterward. That alone would probably motivate me to run this race. The fact that it’s a really well organized event on an absolutely spectacular course is just frosting on the cake.

Unfortunately, I missed out on DMTM the first two years I lived here because I had to go back to Montana that same weekend, first to move the rest of my family out here and then for a sister-in-law’s graduation. So, although this is my fifth June in South Dakota, it was only my third year running one of the DMTM events. Two years ago, I ran the full marathon as a training run before my BQ effort in Missoula five weeks later. That training run ended up being a 3:36:55. Last year, I ran the half marathon instead in the hopes of breaking my extremely stale, nearly two-year old PR and going sub-1:30 in the process. That mission was accomplished as I ran a 1:28:17. This year it was back to the full, which would again serve as a training run but this time for the Bighorn 50 coming up in two weeks and, ultimately, for the Lean Horse 100 at the end of August.

My short history of using the full for training runs and the half for a PR effort makes total sense if you’re familiar with the DMTM course. Almost the entire route, save for a little over a mile at the start of the marathon, is on the Mickelson Trail, which is a rails-to-trails project spanning the Black Hills for 109 miles from north to south. This is really a “trail marathon” in name only. The Mickelson is really more of a glorified dirt road with very gentle, but long, grades. There are no single-track, rocks, roots, stream crossings, or near vertical slopes to speak of. It’s a great running venue, but lends itself to faster times than a typical trail marathon might. Having said that, though, the full marathon course isn’t necessarily a fast one. From mile one through about 13.5, it’s an almost constant, albeit gradual, uphill. At times, you can barely even tell you’re going up and at others it’s more noticeable. It’s not enough to grind you into the ground, but it does slow you down some. After topping out, the route heads downhill for the majority of the second half, save for a mile stretch of very gradual uphill from about 19-20. It’s definitely a course begging to be negative split as long as you don’t go too crazy in the first half. The half marathon course, on the other hand, is lightning fast. It starts at the halfway point of the marathon, so after a brief, gentle uphill you drop down for most of the rest of the way.

This was my lucky 13th marathon overall and would be my first since Missoula in July of last year, so I was kind of itching to lace em up and go. Consequently, I was worried about letting the excitement of the moment get the best of me and pushing too hard. Based on my experience at DMTM two years ago, I figured a finish time in the 3:30-3:45 range would be reasonable and would likely allow me to continue on with my ultra training just as I would after any other long run. In the spirit of ultra training, I decided to try and make sure I wouldn’t run too fast at DMTM by logging a solid 10 miler the day before. I then drove down to Deadwood and worked at the marathon expo handing out bibs for 5 hours before going to run the last 2K of the Kids Marathon with my son and then heading back home for my daughter’s 5th birthday party. Exactly the kind of day you would want to avoid at all costs if you were running a goal marathon the next day, but I tried my hardest to think of DMTM as a long run and not a race.

My wife, who ran the half marathon, and I were up bright and early to drive to Deadwood and hop on the buses to our respective start lines. I felt pretty relaxed and my legs felt surprisingly good considering the long day they’d endured on Saturday. We arrived at the start line in Rochford (population 5, give or take) with plenty of time to spare and thankfully, unlike the last two years, it wasn’t totally freezing ass cold outside, so it was actually kind of pleasant hanging out and talking with a few other people I knew who were running the marathon. Just before 8:00 we were herded onto the road and in short time were off for Deadwood.

Since I’m such a totally awesome and thoughtful husband, I gave my Garmin to my wife for the day since she had a more tangible goal in mind. Ironically, the first marathon I ever ran with the Garmin was DMTM two years ago and this would be the first time I had run any race without it since then. To be honest, I felt a little naked and vulnerable not knowing what my pace was at any given time. I mean, I did have my Timex Ironman watch on so I could see where I was at each mile marker, but it didn’t help that the mile markers were almost certainly off in a few places. I’ve been running long enough to know the difference between 7:29 and 9:05 pace, and I can guarantee that I was alternating between the two on consecutive miles. So, take these splits with a grain of salt.

1 – 7:53 Don’t know if this was off or not, but much faster than I want to be going.

2 – 7:29 Almost certainly too short.

3 – 9:05 Yup, it was. Ran briefly with a guy I know, Phil, who was running his first marathon and hoping to

break 4 hours. He ended up with a 3:55. Nice job, Phil!

4 – 8:54 Stopped here to take a leak.

5 – 8:32

6 –9:27 Uh….what? Had to be long, which means the last one must’ve been short.

7 – 8:49 More reasonable. Started running and talking with two other guys. One of them is also

running his first marathon, hoping for sub-4.

8 – 8:48

9 – 8:37

10 – 8:38 Left the two guys behind. The first timer ended up with a 3:49.

11 – 8:10 Seems a little too fast for an uphill mile.

12 – 8:20

13 – 8:31

14 – 8:32

15 – 8:16 On the downhill now and actually expected a faster split.

16 – 8:15

17 – 8:28 Went through a little rough patch for the next few miles.

18 – 8:26

19 – 8:27

20 – 8:39 This mile was mostly uphill again.

21 – 8:08 The uphill is followed by a fairly steep, but short downhill.

22 – 7:51 A more gradual downhill now and I’m starting to feel pretty good.

23 – 8:35 Inexplicably slow.

24 – 7:51 Feeling REALLY good now. Guess I might as well push a little.

25 – 7:25 Effortless. And I’m passing a lot of people.

26 – 7:17 Starting to feel some strain, but my legs feel pretty good, I’m passing people and I’m almost


26.2 – 1:23 (6:55 pace)

Chip time – 3:38:58

1st half split – 1:52:17

2nd half split – 1:46:41

38th out of 326 overall

8th out of 34 in my AG

So, basically, just how I planned it. I really didn’t think I’d have that much energy at the end after all the time I spent on my feet the day before, but it was there so I decided to take advantage of it. It’s not every day you can run the last three miles of a marathon the fastest and still feel good at the finish. A look through the results shows that I passed 20 marathoners in the 2nd half and got passed once, by a guy who blew by me in the final mile, so he must’ve been doing sub-7 pace. And, more importantly, as I sit here the next morning my legs don’t feel any worse off than they typically do after a long run. Mission accomplished. Next up, the Bighorn 50 in 12 short days…

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Racing fool

It just dawned on me that by the time the Bighorn 50 is done in a couple of weeks, I will have run 5 races in a 4 week span:

May 23 - Alkali Cr.
May 30 - Fat Tire
June 6 - Deadwood-Mickelson
June 10 - Dino Hill
June 19 - Bighorn

A grand total of about 93.2 miles of racing. This isn't necessarily problematic, just a higher volume of racing than I think I've ever done before. Of course, it's not like I'm going for a PR at Deadwood and a "fast" time at Bighorn. Both of those are intended to be long training runs (in the case of Bighorn, really long). Now I'm just wondering what the hell I'm going to do between Bighorn and the Missoula Marathon on July 11th....I'm going to feel lost!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ups and downs

I guess that title pretty well describes most trail runs. You run up. You run down. Repeat. As I've said before on here, it also describes my running in general. I typically have a couple of weeks where I feel great followed by a couple where I feel not so great. Sometimes, it's a day to day thing too. It's amazing how great you can feel one day and how horrible you can feel the next. Such are the mysteries of running, I guess. In any case, that's kind of how this past week was. More on that later.

It occurred to me early in the week that if I ran a 26.2 mile (or longer) long run this weekend it would make for 4 weeks in a row that I ran at least a marathon (40 miles two weeks ago, 26.2 last week, another 26.2 this week and then Deadwood-Mickelson next weekend). I heavily considered doing it just for shits and giggles, but the running gods conspired against me. More on that later too.

Monday - No running, played basketball and managed not to re-tweak my touchy left calf. Small victories.

Tuesday - 9 miles. Felt absolutely effortless, the awesome cruise control feeling you get that is the reason why I run (it's my definition of the elusive "runner's high"). I felt like I should probably pull back and slow down, but I just couldn't.

Wednesday - 10.2 miles. Not nearly as effortless. No runner's high today. It didn't feel bad, mind you, but I actually had to try (God forbid).

Thursday - 6 miles. HOT. What the hell? Is it summer all of a sudden? It actually wasn't THAT hot, maybe mid-70s, but the humidity was much higher than is typical around here and the combination of the two wasn't cool (no pun intended). I had planned on 8 but settled on just 6 soon after I started but then I actually ended up running into a slight breeze on the way back and probably could've done 8 fairly easily, but whatever.

Friday - 20 miles. Another hot and sticky day, so I headed up into the Hills in the hopes of cooler, dryer conditions and, maybe, a trail marathon. Turns out, it was a little cooler and noticeably less humid in the high country, but the 26.2 miler was not in the cards. I ran three separate trail loops - the Old Baldy, Rimrock and Little Spearfish trails - and right from the beginning, my legs felt horrible. Not painful, just like they were totally sapped of energy. I was able to chug along, running the flats and downhills and hiking the uphills (of which there were many) and eventually arrived back at my car after 20 miles and called it good. Another 6.2 miles did not sound appealing, or seem really necessary, at that point.

Saturday - 9.1 miles. Didn't feet as good as Tuesday, but much better than Friday, so I guess that's something. I actually only planned on running 8 but misjudged my loop and ended up with a bonus mile. Oh well.

Sunday - 5.5 miles total, including the 3.4 mile Fat Tire Trail Challenge. Fat Tire is the 2nd race in the Black Hills Trail Series and is held in conjunction with the Fat Tire Festival of mountain biking in Rapid City. The trail race is held on M Hill in Rapid City, which is spiderwebbed with a series of great running/biking trails. I had no idea how my legs would feel, but it turns out they felt pretty good....similar to last week at Alkali Cr, which was also just a couple of days after a long run. The race itself went uphill for the first 2+ miles before dropping down the other side of the hill. And when I say "dropping" I mean it. The downhill route took us down Dirk's Draw, which is normally closed to runners/hikers and features steep pitches and several jumps that were built into the trail for the crazy ass downhill mountain bikers (you couldn't pay me to ride a bike down that thing). It was a fine line between hammering the downhill and skidding off trail on one of the many tight switchbacks. Heading up the hill, I was outside the top 10 for much of the way but towards the top started picking off a few runners. Just before cresting the ridge, I got passed by one guy who pulled away on the downhill. About halfway down the downhill another guy passed me and I didn't have the downhill skills to keep him in range. I thought I was fairly secure in my position at that point, but as we drew nearer to the bottom, and the finish, I noticed that two other guys were closing in. The last 0.4 or so was as much of a dead sprint as I could manage without wiping out. I could hear people cheering below as others were finishing, but I couldn't see the finish yet and I knew the two behind me were getting closer and closer. Finally, I came around a switchback and saw one final straight stretch to the finish and managed to outsprint my two pursuers and finish 2 seconds ahead of them. If the race would've been much longer, I would've been screwed. Ended up 9th overall and 5th in my division.

Total - 59.8 miles

So, coming up this weekend is the Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon, my first marathon since Missoula last July. I've run the full once before, two years ago, and the half last year. My strategy this year will be similar to the other time I ran the full: take it easy and don't kill myself. Last time, the full was a training run before another, ultimately successful, BQ attempt in Missoula. This time, it's a training run for the Bighorn 50 mile, which is in turn a training run for the Lean Horse 100. Since Bighorn is just 13 days after Deadwood, I don't planning on setting any land speed records this weekend. Two years ago I ran a 3:36:55 at Deadwood. That time, or even slower, would work just fine for me this year. If I'm unable to jump right back into training come next Tuesday (after my usual rest day on Monday), then I've effed up. Stay tuned...