Thursday, December 17, 2015

2015 Malibu Canyon 50k Race Report

This happened to be a hard race report for me to write. I am physically, emotionally, and mentally tired. My Grandpa passed away the week of Xterra Trail World Championship. Instead of Hawaii, I ended up back in Chicago. Then, my flight from Chicago to LA was cancelled, due to a crack in the windshield, so I had a 24 hour layover in the Windy City. By the time I made it to CA, I was drained and didn’t know if I really wanted to race 50k.

My plan for Malibu Canyon 50k was pretty simple. Run the flats hard, don’t give up too much time while climbing, and bomb the downhill sections. I raced MC as my first ultra in 2014, so I was pretty familiar with the course. I felt that if I could hold the leaders to less than a 3 minute gap to the top of the 2nd climb (mile 23), I would have time to still run them down on the descents and flat section.

The first mile or so of the race is flat. Perfect. I got out quick and used the flat sections to put a gap between Dean and Mario. I remembered them from the previous year, and they are strong climbers. There was another dude a few meters in front of me, and he looked strong. I wasn’t sure if he was running the 25k or 50k, but I was afraid to ask. a bit over a mile into the race, right before the first water crossing I asked, “Are you doing the 25k or 50k?” Luckily he said he was running 25k, and then mumbled something about me going out quick for the 50k. Turns out he had just finished 3rd at Xterra Trail Worlds the previous weekend.

Going out quick? i know something about that. Last year I came through 25k around 1:52…3-4 minutes under the 25k course record and still had another lap to run. oops! I ended up finishing broken in 4:35…absolutely hating the 50k, but in love with the challenge. I was determined to not make the same mistake this year.

When the climbing started, I decided to back off the effort. I have had a few blowups from trying to climb too aggressive, so I used this time to focus on hydration and nutrition. I don’t run all of the climbs, I actually power hike a lot of it. I was having issues with both achilles going into the first climb, and I was seriously considering dropping out. I didn’t think I would be able to climb to the top of the canyon, let alone do a second loop. But, I thought about it, and convinced myself that if I could climb for a little less than 2 more miles, I would finally get to start descending and could drop out at 25k.

As I was climbing, I saw Dean gaining on me. I wasn’t sure that I could hold him off on loop 1, but I figured I may as well put some more energy into holding him off to get a bigger gap into loop 2. Somehow I made it to the top of the climb before him, and was able to start the descent — alone! My first 3 miles on the descent were 5:33, 5:53, and 5:53. Somewhere during the 5:53, I blew out my knee and tweked my IT Band. My worst nightmare. Luckily I had KT Tape on my ITB so I felt like I had some support, but definitely not enough. I was only 20k in, could I run for another 30k in pain?

I arrived that the 25k mark around 1:52. F**K!! Been there before. I knew it was going to be a rough second loop, but the bright side was my achilles were finally feeling better. About half a mile into my 2nd loop, I saw 2nd and 3rd coming up the stairs on loop 1. At that point I realized I had ~6 minutes on the chase pack. I had hoped to arrive at 25k <2 minutes behind the leaders, so to be up was great. At that point I realized I had a legit shot at possibly winning the race.

I pushed hard through the flat section, and pushed even harder trying to make it up the climb. I remember getting passed at mile 21.3 and 22.8 last year, but I made it to those marks without being passed. I looked back and still didn’t see anyone coming up behind me. I was relieved. There was just one more nasty climb, and then its downhill or flat. Leaving the aid station I looked back and still didn’t see anybody. Starting the climb to the climb to the descent I was scared. I knew these dudes are strong, and I was not going to be able to descend as quickly due to my knee.

The descent and flat section to the MASH aid station is kind of one big blur. I just tried to find the most direct route down the switchback and really had to hold back. I was super happy to finally get to flat land again. With 5k to go, I was just hoping there wasn’t a storm brewing behind me, but I wasn’t going to look back!

There is about a half mile section of road to finish the race. I made it up the stairs and onto the pavement and realized I was going o be a couple minutes under the course record. At that point I just told myself the faster I finished, the faster I could get off my legs. I crossed the finish line completely shattered and so alive. I was just so relieved to actually have things work out. I was 29 minutes faster this year compared to last year. This race has been in the back of my mind since crossing the finish line last year.

I’m not afraid to race on courses with a lot of climbing, I just know that my strength is not in the hills. 2015 has been a year of exploring and challenges, but I have been learning so much. I still am not sure how I managed to win a 50 miler and 50k in less than a month, but I am extremely grateful and excited. I have such an awesome support crew and I am glad that I have been able to race well for them.


Hydration - 30oz water
Nutrition - 5 Maple Bacon VFuel
Electrolytes - 5 Salt Stick
UltraSpire 1L Hydration Vest
Hoka Challenger
Darn Tough Socks
Colorundies/LRCo Singlet

Also, it was great to meet Seth, Paul, and Alex. We’ve been following each other in Instagram for over a year, and it was great to finally put a face with a profile. I am definitely going to need to do some more CA training when I get settled back into Vegas. Also, Alex ran a big 50k PR on that nasty course! Also, thanks to Rylan and Nikki for letting me stay with them. It's always fun to catch up with old college teammates/friends.

So what is next? I am not sure. I will be back in IL for the holidays, and then it is kind of up in the air. I have considered running Austin 3M Half Marathon, or Carlsbad Half Marathon, or a fun trail race in January. I would like to get in a road marathon, trail 50 mile, and a 10k on the track this spring also. Should be fun.

Thanks for reading and have a great holiday season.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tunnel Hill 50 Mile Pre Pace

The last couple months have been full of racing, training, and moving. I seem embrace change and handle it well, but I would definitely say there has been a lot going on.

The plan was to come to Las Vegas and spend my last four weeks heading into the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 7. I had a few different sea level options, but Vegas was the best deal. After a summer of training at 10,200ft, I really just felt like my leg speed was a little behind where it needs to be for Indianapolis. The idea of warm weather and endless training options was nice. I really enjoyed the week I spent here earlier this year -- training in Valley of Fire, Lake Mead, Red Rock Canyon, Bootleg Canyon, and Death Valley. After being here for a few weeks, I have decided that I am going to stay until May, before returning to CO. This opens up quite a few racing opportunities for the earlier months in the year. CA, AZ, and UT are all a short drive, and have many great races.

So, here we are a couple days after Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, and I was a DNS. I really wanted to race, but I just did not feel my leg speed was where it needed to be. I felt stuck. But, the good news is I am racing the Tunnel Hill 50 Mile this weekend. I didn’t have the gears I needed for the marathon, but the strength and fitness is there to use it on a flat/fast 50 miler. I am pretty excited to be racing this weekend. They are offering $500 for a new course record, so I am going for it. The current record is 6:20.

Here is what I will be using for this race this weekend.

-Raspberry Buzz Tailwind
-Salt Tab
-Maple Bacon VFuel

-Ultraspire 1L Hydration Pack
-Colorado Buff
-Brooks t7, and possibly Hoka Clifton
-Darn Tough UltraLite
-Light Gloves
        -Hand warmers (maybe)
-KT Tape
-Garmin 310XT
-ColoRundies and Leadville Outdoors Singlet

Drop bags
-Candy (Snickers, peach rings, and Skittles)
-extra socks
-A shot of Fireball
-KT Tape
-probably a beer of some sort

-Be aggressive the first 25, but controlled
-Miles 26-39 are a slight uphill. Pay attention to hydration/nutrition during this stretch
-Open it up the last 11 miles. If feeling good, pick up pace — If not, just get it done

This is only my second attempt at racing 50 miles, so I still have plenty to learn. I really am not sure how my body is going to react while racing a flat, sea level 50 miler. Racing a flat even is quite a bit different than Silver Rush (10,200 ft up to 12,000ft, with 7,000ft of elevation gain). In the mountains, you can get away with power hiking some of the steeper uphill sections. On flat races like this, it’s all running, and it’s just you against the clock.

I can’t wait.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

June 2015 Training Update

We are now looking at a little less than six weeks until the Leadville Trail 100. I am still working on the Leadville Trail Marathon race report, but I wanted to throw in a training update. It is not that I cannot write the race report, but I keep learning/figuring out new things about the race, so I have more information to add. This will be the past four weeks. I will include total mileage, long run distance, and my favorite workout of the week (doesn't necessarily mean intervals).

May 31-June 6
*64 miles (7 runs)
17 mile long run
Favorite workout: Fish Hatchery wasn't pretty, but it was fun.
I had to walk during a 5k for the first time in my life. I had only been back at altitude for a few days and wanted to run well on the trails. However, I was well over that red line during the first 3/4 of a mile and ended up walking a nice uphill section of the course. Welcome back to Leadville!

 June 7-13
*64 miles (7 runs)
18 mile long run
Favorite workout: 2x[10x400m on :60 recovery]
This week was the second Leadville Running Company group run of the summer. Josh Arthur was there for the VFuel demo, and stuck around for the workout. We had a nice turnout and a fun group.

June 14-20
*73.2 miles (6 runs)
20 and 26 mile long run
Favorite workout: Leadville Trail Marathon
I did not have a great showing at the marathon, but it was a much needed learning experience. I will post more about that in my next blog. I also took a spot into the Leadville 100, so that was exciting. I cannot say I had plans to run a 100 this year, but it should be interesting.

June 21-27
*55.5 miles (6 runs)
No long run
This was my first "down week" in a while, and it was much needed. But really, the main difference was just the lack of long run. I just focused on getting in some easy trail miles.

June 28-July 4
*84 miles (7 runs)18 mile long run
Favorite workout: Tuesday in Boulder with the HTS crew. I ran my fastest altitude mile, so that was exciting.
This week was the highest mileage week of my life. It beat my previous high of 82 miles from 2009. This time I actually feel healthy and happy.

What have I learned?
Since training for the 100, I have learned that it really is the small details that make a big difference. I now pay way more attention to daily hydration, foam rolling, eating soon after workouts, sleeping, and stretching. So far I have been able to stay healthy through the stretch of higher mileage, and hope to continue the streak.

What's new?
The job at Leadville Outdoors/Leadville Running Company has been going well. I get to work with a really fun group of people, and have a very flexible schedule. Being able to walk to work is great! I can run in the morning, work during the day, and then have a few hours of sunlight after work.

 Also, I went to Montana for the first time over the 4th of July. Billings was flat and hot. It was fun though.
I am starting to put my crew/pacers together for the Leadville 100, so I will be introducing them over the next few blog posts.

Thanks for reading. Happy Training!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

May 2015

am a little behind on race reports, so I am going to do 3 short summaries.

Gregory Invite 10k
32:09 - 7th
My PR going into this 10k was 32:44 from 2013. We weren't really sure what my legs speed and sea level fitness we're going into this race. We figured if I could run 32:40, it would be a good start to the season.

The best part about racing at NCC on a Thursday night, is that the races are under the lights and the weather is usually pretty good. However, this year it started raining about 800m into the race...but hey, rain is better than snow!

The race was pretty uneventful. I got out quick, settled in, and ran. I think I may have not been aggressive enough through the middle section because nothing really hurt and I was able to close my last 400m in 68 seconds.

Starved Rock Country Half Marathon
1:14:39 - 1st
Sleeping in your own bed and racing in your hometown is awesome...90% humidity is not. You never know what you're going to get in Illinois in May. Unfortunately this year it was 70s and humid.

Going into the race I had wanted to run 5:29/mile to end up in the 1:11:xx range.i knew it was warm and humid, but I still said I was going to go for it. I made it through the first 4 miles on pace, and then the wheels started to fall off. I was sweating way more than I should have been. I got to the half way point still on pace for a high 1:12ish finish. The course is out and back. The way back was nice because I could use the energy from the other runners try and get to the finish line quicker...even if it wasn't going to be a PR.

It was fun crossing the finish line in first. A lot of family members, friends, and neighbors were there so it's always fun to win at home.

Fish Hatchery 5k
21:31 - 2nd
I had been back at altitude for a week and decided to race a trail 5k in Leadville. Probably not the best idea, but it was fun. I'm not going to lie, I had to walk a couple of the uphill wasn't pretty. But hey, I got to show off our Leadville Running Company jerseys, and they look pretty sweet!

And here are a few more pictures from the May adventures.
Illinois Canyon

Deer Park shenanigans

More park fun

Back in CO!

Thanks for reading. Happy training and racing!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Race Report: Xterra Lake Las Vegas 21k

Xterra Lake Las Vegas is awesome. If you want a hot, fast, challenging, fun race...go to Vegas! There really isn't anything too technical about the course, it is mostly hard packed rocks/sand, with a couple loose sandy spots. There were a few longer climbs, some short and steep climbs, and steep descents. Oh, and a lot of sun!

I really don't have any complains/regrets about my race or race experience. I flew into Vegas on Wednesday night and my friend Kendal picked me up. For the next couple days, all I had to run was run, eat, sleep, and relax.

Race morning was pretty easy. It was just a short 20 minute drive to the race site. Check in was quick and easy, and I was ready to go.

The mini cannon went off. There was already a pack of 5-7 that had separated from the field in the first 400m with one guy leading. In the first mile we were down to a chase group of 4 with one guy extending his lead out front.

I wasn't wearing my Garmin, so I had no idea what pace I was running. The goal was just to get from start to finish as quick as possible. I found myself going back in forth with 2-5 on the up hill and downhill and finally in 4th with about 1000m left in the first loop. I bridged the gap and tried to use the group for a min. As one of the guys went to grab water, I made the decision to skip that aid station and try to put a gap on him before starting the climbing on the second loop. It seemed to be working, but unfortunately he caught me on one of the steeper climbs. I was in 4th.

With about 3 miles left, another guy passed putting me in 5th. At that point the sun was baking me enough that I was just hoping to finish. I could still clearly see 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, but I knew it would be hard to catch them.

I ended up finishing 5th in 1:24:34 and a big trail half marathon PR. I don't know that I could have put together much better of a race. Living at 10,200ft is great, and I *should* have altitude on my side, but I was not fully ready for the Vegas heat. The only thing I would do different next time is wear a visor to keep the sun off of my face.

Other than racing, I got to actually see things in Vegas this time. Fremont Street, Vegas the Show, different casinos, good food, Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. I also decided that since it was still snowing in Leadville, I would stay in Vegas a few extra days. Fortunately it was cheap to switch my flight, so the decision to stay in the sun was pretty easy.

I also got to train in the heat for a few more days. I even had a crew van on one of my longer runs - how exciting! I think the crew was having fun while watching me back in the sun.

Here are more pictures from the week.

Valley of Fire State Park

The Riveria won't be there next time!

I won! (One can wish)


Leaving Vegas :(

Thanks for reading. Happy training!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Xterra Lake Las Vegas Pre-Race

Training has been interesting. I had a good four week stretch, then it caught up with me with about a week left in the ski season. I took a few extra shifts at work and I found myself putting in fifty hour "weeks" in four days. There are only so many nights you can get four to five hours of sleep before it catches up with you. I still managed to put in 30-40 mile weeks (I am a very low mileage runner) so my mileage really didn't suffer.

I would say that my first real race of the season is on Sunday -- Xterra Lake Las Vegas Trail 21k. This is a good chance to test trail fitness and see how my body reacts going from 10,200ft to 5400ft to 1800ft. But, the most important thing is to have fun.

As many of you know, I started being coached by Brad Hudson of Hudson Training Systems in April. So far I have been happy and challenge with the workouts. I realized I really didn't know that much about training at 10,200ft, but I still want to get fast! The great thing about ski season being over is I now have more options to come down for his group speed workout. I am starting to lose some leg speed by doing most of my training in Leadville, so it is nice to go down to Boulder have a quick group to train with.

My friend Anthony asked me how training has changed since moving to 10,200ft. I think there are a few big changes. The first change is that pace is slower on everything. You can put forth the same effort, but still be running slower than Boulder or sea level. That can start to mess with your mind and make you wonder if you're slow, lacking fitness, or if it is just the altitude. The second biggest change is there is always snow on the ground. The cushioning from the snow is nice, but that also slows you down. Just another thing to factor into the workout. And, the third thing is that to do speed work, you need to find something downhill. You learn to become good at downhill running.

I had a quick trip to California in late March, and this is probably my favorite picture from the trip.

College friends also came to visit in March. Running at 10,200ft is fun... Right, Ross and Ben? Vegas pic.

I hope training/racing is going well for y'all, and good luck to those getting ready to race.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March 1-7, 2015

I feel old. I turned 25 on Saturday. After reading many articles about "the aging athlete" and "speed training as you age" or... Okay, so maybe I'm not quite there yet, and I guess the only real difference now is that I am in the 25-29AG...and car insurance goes down. Wootwoo! I spent my birthday watching a weekend of ski joring. If you don't know what that is, look it up on YouTube.
I'm so mature ^

Anyway, I had somebody ask, "What did mono and the setback with injury teach you? Do you think you came out of both having learned something important?"
This is was a difficult question for me since I tend to be a pretty stubborn person. The biggest thing I learned from mono (and probably injury too) is that recovery is important. I knew recovering from mono would be a long process, but I'm not sure I actually understood how long.
The bone bruise (foot) came from a bad step, followed by 12 miles of pounding. I had already finished 13 miles, but still had 12 to go. Looking back on it, should I have been running 25 miles only 3 weeks after being cleared to run again? But, like I said a few weeks ago, I wanted to go down to FL on my 25th birthday and lay down a solid 50 miler. I do not regret that I didn't get to race, but I definitely think I next time I will make a better choice.
Also, living and training at altitude requires much more recovery. I have a feeling that by living a 10,200ft and still getting over mono, recovery is going to be a huge factor for me. If I want to have any chance at a successful late spring, summer, or fall, then I need to pay attention now.
The other takeaway is that good shoes are key. I realized that I had over 800 miles on my Brooks Ghosts when I injured myself. Normally I am ~400 miles per pair of shoes before I get new shoes. A weakened body + old shoes probably was not the best mix. Right now I am running in the Hoka Clifton and they have been wonderful in getting me back out there.

Workout #1: 1x3, 1x2 @ MP
Warm up, 3 miles at marathon pace, 1 mile easy, 2 miles at marathon pace, cool down. I was going to try 2x3, but the wind and ice broke me down. I still had 5 miles of quality for the day, so it's not like I had a bad workout.
Workout #2 - 3x[2:1/1:2] Fartlek
The purpose of this workout was just to get the legs out and moving fast. The hard sections were hard and the easy was easy. We also filmed part of this workout. There is a short clip of it on IG, and a longer video will be coming later.

Total ~35 miles for the week.

Thanks for reading. Let me know if you have any questions. Happy training!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

February 15-28, 2015

I had somebody ask me what race I think I have the best chance of running to my peak fitness in 2015. I think there are 2 sides to this question - road and trail. I wasn't exactly sure how to answer this since I will be doing more trail stuff early, and road stuff later. So, here are my two picks.

My road pick is the Indinapolis Monumental Marathon in November. I have only heard great things about this race, and there are always some fast times. Flat course, cool weather, and a good mix of competition should make for an exciting race. Also, with the race being in November, it gives me time to build upon spring/summer/fall fitness. The one downside to a November race is I will have been racing all spring, summer, and fall -- will that leave me flat in Novmeber, or ready to PR.

I had a hard time picking a trail race. So many things can come into play -- elevation gain, temperature, humidity, technicality of the course, etc. It will be my first 50 miler, but I think Silver Rush 50 is my best chance of racing at peak fitness. Why would I say a 50M at 10,200ft? I live at 10,200ft and can train on the course, so that is a plus. I will also be racing the trail marathon a month before, so there will hopefully be a fitness bump from that. I am really not sure how my body will react to racing that length, but I think that will be my best chance.

Training Update

Feb 15-21
I was finally able to start running again thanks to acupuncture, and the Hoka Clifton. I was shocked at how cushioned and light they are. Nothing too exciting, 20 miles of running and 9k of swimming.

Feb 22-28
I took a quick trip down to NM hoping to find warmer weather and less snow... Unfortunately I found snow and cold. Oh well.

The 2 main workouts of the week were:
A) 1x3mile at Marathon Effort
B) 10x:60/:60 fartlek

I'm not really sure how pace/effort for a marathon feel at 10,000ft compared to sea level, so this will be a leaving period. Either way, the workouts went well, and I was pleased with the week. ~30 miles.

Have a great week, y'all. Happy training!