more than ready

Over the years this blog has been mostly about my racing and training with some side notes of what’s going on in my “real” life. From a racing and training standpoint the last two years have consisted of a lot of ups and downs. I’ve had a quite a few fun, successful races, but I’ve also had a couple of stress fractures and got smashed by a car riding my bike. Fortunately my happiness and life does not revolve around my athletic endeavors.

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The past two years with maggie have been incredible and give me a ton to be thankful for. Ever since we’ve met things have moved pretty fast… and not forcefully. We’ve always just let everything happen and let things fall into place. it was clear early on that “this” was a forever type thing. from moving into together, getting a dog, which will go down as one of the best decisions either of us have ever made, and planning for the future we’ve always moved at our own pace.

it wasn’t long before we talked about having a kid(s) and a little over a year ago we decided to start going for it… but just like everything else with us we weren’t going to force it, or plan it. instead we just let it happen… and back in september, in big bear, the weekend we got engaged it happened. we’re having a kid and we couldn’t be more stoked. we thought it would have happened sooner… it didn’t… but we didn’t stress about it. we knew it would happen when the time was right.

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We didn’t know Maggie was pregnant until we got back from Flagstaff at the end of September…. which in hindsight the fact that the 100 miler Maggie was going to run was cancelled was a blessing in disguise. In the past couple of months we’ve told our family and some friends but we’re to the point now that we want to tell everybody. A lot of people have asked me if I’m nervous or if I’m ready for how it’s going to change our lives. At this point, after hoping all year this would happen, I’m not nervous and I’m just so stoked. there’s nothing i want more and I’m ready for the life changing and shift of focus in our lives. Trust me I don’t think it’s going to be easy but I love the life we have and incorporating a little grommet into it is just going to make that much better.

The North Face 50 miler is in about 2 weeks… and I’m ready.

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Lake Hodges 50k Race Report

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Well… this really wasn’t supposed to be a race report since I went into the race with no intention of racing. My plan was start out mellow, which I did, and then finish strong… which I did. I just managed to run quicker than I thought I would and snag the win doing so.

I didn’t taper at all for the race and had a solid week of running, riding, and strength work in my legs heading into the weekend. On Saturday Maggie and I did a mellow 2 hour ride and followed up with an easy 4 mile jog around the hood. Even though it was pretty big week and I was looking forward to running 50k on Sunday morning.

I started nice and mellow and felt good from the start. I was holding back and running about 8-10th place during the first mile. I was in 6th at the 4.5 mile aid station and about a 90″-2 min behind the leaders. Just cruising at high 6 min pace felt easy so i just rolled with that and never felt like i was pushing the pace. I even resisted the urge to chase as the top 5 rolled away from me.

I hit the 9 mile aid station still in 6th but was catching 4th and 5th (first woman) so i took my time at the aid to let them get away. I didn’t want to get caught up in racing. So I ate a gel at the aid station, filled my bottle, and retied my shorts. I rolled out of the aid and just got back to my pace. At about mile 11 I passed 5th and then caught 4th (first woman). I was still cruising high 6′s and not pushing. I went to go around as she was slowing down at bit through the sand sections. she stuck with me and we were running shoulder to shoulder so i took out my headphones and we chatted for a couple of miles… slowing down to low 7 pace. she’s the woman that won WIEM and it was good to just jog and talk.

We hit the aid station at the base of the raptor ridge climb at mile 13 and i just rolled through it while she stopped. I gave it a good effort up the climb and was feeling good (got the strava CR for the climb). 3/4 of the way up the climb i could see the leaders just reaching the top. I thought they’d be further ahead at that point. I was now in 4th alone and cruised the descent. That was the first time that winning the race crossed my mind… but I wasn’t going to lift my pace to do it. I caught 3rd at about 15 miles and then 2nd right before the turn around at 18.6 miles. I was still running “MY” pace and not surging or speeding up to catch up. I could see 1st place ahead of me going into the aid station.

out of the aid station 1st only had 45″ on me and I took my time getting to him. I got to him at mile 20 but i just sat on him. I hung about 10 yards back from miles 20-23. I didn’t want to lift my pace yet and he was setting a solid tempo. i noticed i was having to force myself to slow down on any small climb we’d hit to stay behind him. So I decided I’d go for it at mile 23 at the base of climb heading back over raptor ridge.
Shez Photography: Lake Hodges 50K/15K &emdash; markii0718

so that’s what i did. I made a strong move and hammered the climb getting a gap right away and it just kept growing (got the strava cr for that climb too). I filled up at the mile 24.5 aid station and then kept cruising. I was still finding high to mid 6 minute pace pretty easy and had the best energy I’ve had that late in a 50k. I had to make a quick “bathroom stop” at about 26.5 and i felt much better after. I stayed on it until I crossed the bridge at mile 30 and then just cruised to the finish still feeling awesome and looking forward to seeing Maggie and Ruby waiting for me.

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Paul put on another awesome race. It’s been rad to see his race grow over the past 3 years. There’s nothing better than being able to sleep in your own bed and have a killer race a short drive away. Thanks Paul!

I’m so stoked with the effort on Sunday and what a difference starting out mellow makes at the end of a race. Who knew?.. well Maggie knew.. she’s been telling me that for quite a while now but I’ve been too stubborn to listen! It’s by the far the best I’ve felt at the end of a 50k. I’ve never been able to close like that. It was good lesson heading into The North Face 50 and going forward… and it’s much more fun to be in hunting mode than running off the front.

i ran this race (same course) in 2012 in 3:47 and I was crushed the last 6-8 miles and gave it everything. this year I finished in 3:41 holding back and felt like I could have run another 18 miles. I am really happy with the consistency of my splits. The only miles that were much over 7 min pace were on the climbs and when I had to make bathroom pit stops. I’ll take it. I wasn’t sore Monday morning and have been able to roll back into to training so even though I went a bit faster than I anticipated on Sunday I know it wasn’t a full on effort.

After some internal deliberation and after talking with Maggie I am going to bag the SJT 50k this weekend. I just don’t feel like getting up mega early on Saturday to get in a “training” run. I love to sleep. I also don’t think I need another 30 mile run this week. It seems like what I’m doing is working and I’m going to stick with it and err on the side of being conservative with my build up to The North Face 50.

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Maggie and I celebrated 2 years on Sunday as well. She’s incredible.

 

Finding the Time

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Recovery from WIEM was nice and quick and I’m back at it. The North Face 50 Mile championshps in San Francisco is my next goal race but it won’t be the next time I’m racing. I’ll actually be “racing” quite a bit in the next few weeks as training and to get my body ready to run a hard 50 miles. More on those races in a minute.

Maggie is in full on off season mode and taking the entire month of October of from running and then she’s going to ease back into it. She’s smart. Unfortunately that means I’m a bit on my own to train. Don’t get me wrong I have plenty of friends and people I could get out with but it’s hard to fit into my life/work schedule. Running and racing is definitely a big part of my life but my world does not revolve around it and there’s no way I want it to. I love to run and ride my bike but I don’t want to put it first in line when it comes to everything else in my life. I’ve lived that way before and it’s not fun or satisfying.

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Maggie and I typically get up at 5am monday through friday and get whatever workout we’re going to do for the day done before work and then if I’m going to do a strength workout I do it at lunch. I loathe afternoon workouts and pretty much avoid them as much as I can. After working all day the last thing I really want to do is go home and train… so I seldom do it. Sure some times an easy jog after work is great and hitting yoga is relaxing. Both of those things are usually done with Maggie and don’t really feel like training. After work I would rather just hang out with Maggie and Ruby, have a beer, and relax rather mustering the motivation to workout. I don’t force anything these days.

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Also by the time the weekend comes around the last thing I want to do is train the days away… again… I’ve done it in the past and it wasn’t worth it. After a busy week of work my weekends are about having fun, maximizing time with Maggie, and hanging out with the pup as much as possible. That’s why it’s great to be able to get into the mountains for longs days with Maggie and go for runs with Ruby. It doesn’t feel like training and we are spending incredible times together.

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So now with 50 miler in less than 7 weeks and maggie not running I need to figure out how get in the miles around everything I want/like to do. The weekdays are easy. Alarm at 5, coffee, run/ride, go to work. I’ll admit it… my motivation wanes a bit when I am heading out alone on the weekends. I still love to get out and run for sure but logging the big days that I need for a 50 miler is tough for due to the fact I don’t want to spend all weekend training. Maggie supports me 100%… and actually how much she supports me blows me away… but I still don’t want to spend too much time chasing “selfish” goals. On Sunday’s the timing of everything pretty much revolves around what time the Charger’s game is on. The bolts games take priority over running and riding… and pretty much everything else.

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I feel I have the best balance of life, work, and training than I ever have. It all comes pretty easy. So for the next six and a half weeks I need to buckle down and get to work if I want to have a successful race at North Face… and by successful I mean giving all I got on the day and hoping the last 20 miles aren’t a death march. To make it a bit easier to get in the big days I am going to jump into some races in the next few weeks and use them as long training days much like the Stagecoach 55k was in Flagstaff last month. It set me up well for Whoo’s in El Morro. For the first time in my life I was able to run a race in a controlled manner ensuring it wouldn’t smash me. I definitely could have run the the next day. I did something similar back in 2012 getting ready for the same North Face 50 miler, which was my first 50 miler. I ran WIEM 50k, the Lake Hodges 50k, and R2R2R on consecutive weekends.

I will be racing the next three weekends in a row:

  • 10/26 – Lake Hodges 50k
  • 11/1 – San Juan Trail 50k
  • 11/8 – 6 Hour of Temecula (mtb race)

I am planning on running both 50k’s at just a long run effort with a goal to run the last hour or so a bit harder… only if I’m feeling good. The 6 hours of Temcula is going to fun. I love mountain bike racing in the fall and it will be a good, long day of suffering. 6 hours on the mountain bike is no joke.

I’m feeling really good right now with a bit of increase in mileage and hoping I can keep rolling and staying injury free. Time will tell.

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It’s that time of year. Mlb post season, NFL, and fresh hop IPA’s.

Whoo’s in El Morro 50k Race Report

Sunday was a fun day of running. The field that Molly put together for the men’s field at the fall edition of the Whoo’s in El Morro 50k was the fastest, and deepest that I’ve competed against in socal. The chance to get to race against guys like that is why I like to race… it’s also awesome that all the guys are good dudes off the race course as well. Sure it makes getting the win or earning a spot on the podium that much harder but those things aren’t why I race. If I just wanted to chalk up wins I would just cherry pick and run races that weren’t that competitive. I would rather race guys like I did on Sunday and get 10th than earn a shallow victory in a race where nobody showed up.

I found out Sunday morning that the late edition to the field that Jon told me about was Tim Tollefson. The only reason I knew who he was is because my good friend Mario had recently posted an article about him after he won the 50k National Championships while taking down Max King’s course record. Now I love racing against the best but I’m also pretty realistic about my own running ability. I know I’m not afraid to go out hard and suffer but I don’t have near the speed/talent of guys like Tim… but that also doesn’t mean I’m just going to sit back and not see how close I can stay to them… because people do crack and blow up. After warming up a bit before the race I told maggie I was either going to end up on the podium or 30th…. meaning i was just going to go for it.

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so I toed the line with all the fast dudes and was ready to rip. I didn’t dial back my training as much as I had for the Noble Canyon 50k but i felt rested and ready to dig deep. the gun went off and Immediately Tim was off the front which increased everybody’s pace. I knew he was on another level so I was more concerned with all the guys around me. Chris Kollar (recently moved to LA from montana.. another mega fast dude) were side by side and Igor went ahead trying to chase Tim. We were running fast considering we had to run 30 more miles on the day (well fast for me at least. first mile in 6:03 w/ 130ft of gain).

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when we hit the first climb just past a mile I was on Chris’ hip, igor was ahead, and tim was already pulling away. i was kind of surprised the other guys in the race were holding back and we were gapping them. I expected a full on pack racing together at least for the first half of the race. half way up the climb we caught igor and I tried to encourage him to come with us but he didn’t. He probably couldn’t understand me because I was breathing so hard. I was already in the box! At that point I knew the pace at which Chris was climbing was bit too hot for me but I decided I was going to just do my best to stay with him so I could get away from everybody else.

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As we crested the climb he had a ~10 second gap on me but I was able to bring him back on the descent. About 3 miles in Chris and i started chatting, a cool dude for sure. at around 4 miles, right before we hit the single track, I told him good luck and that I was going to back off a bit. I couldn’t see anybody behind us and I didn’t want to explode so early. He ended up getting about 30 seconds on me in the next ~6 miles. I could still see him around every corner and on the climbs but I wasn’t closing the gap.

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Photo: Billy Yang

at mile 11 I climbed back up to the fireroad and hit the out and back to the 12 mile aid station. I was feeling pretty rough. I saw tim and he was about ~5 minutes ahead of me, and then I saw chris who just under a minute ahead. I hit the 12 mile aid station and got another bottle from maggie and told her that it could get ugly. I left and was still feeling a bit smashed from running a really hard first 12 miles but had to put my game face on. It was an out and back so I knew I would see how far the guys were behind me and wanted to look strong as I passed.

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On the out and back I saw everybody coming. Jesse was first and I had about 3 minutes on him, 4 on Jon, 5 on Igor and 6 on Chris (Price). I started to feel a bit better as I hit the 15 mile turnaround. It was another out and back so I’d get to see everyone again. Tim was still way off the front and Chris K. had probably put some more time into me but everybody told me it was about a minute or two to him. After heading back up the climb I saw Jesse and now had about 4 minutes and my gaps on everybody else were growing as well. I was starting to feel better but Jesse definitely had me nervous. I was still within his and Jon’s striking distance… and they are two dudes that I knew would battle until the end.

Heading back to the 18 mile aid station I definitely started to feel better. I got another bottle from Maggie and once again had a chance to check the gaps. I was feeling better at 18 miles than I was at 12. I now had 5 minutes on Jesse and Chris K. was probably around 2 minutes ahead of me. At that point I knew closing on Chris probably wasn’t going to happen unless he totally blew. My concern now was holding off Jesse and Jon.

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I just continued to run steady on the climbs and flats and roll the descents. I hit the mile 22 aid station and couldn’t see anybody ahead or behind me. I drank some coke and bombed the descent. I immediately got a side stitch and started to hit a rough patch. I worked on getting rid of the side stitch and just moving forward. I knew i would have to have a pretty big blow up to give up 3rd place but I kept looking over my shoulder expecting to see a charging Jesse. I never start a race with any kind of mantra or anything but some times they come to me in races. On the final steep climb i just kept saying “strong and steady” in my head. I wasn’t moving fast but I was moving.

I got to the last aid station at mile 26 and was feeling better. I drank some more coke, poured water over my head, and got back on it. I was able to finish at nice clip and just sneak in under 3:40. Super stoked to be able to hang on to 3rd place in that field.

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Tim (3:25) and Chris (3:34) finished 1 & 2 and are honestly out of my league when it comes to speed. I’ll take finishing behind them and holding off everybody else any day.

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Photo: Billy Yang

I’m very happy with how the race played out and that I was able to stay on the gas long enough to get 3rd. I love having Maggie out there cheering and crewing for me. It always gives me a boost when I see her out on the course.

The next race I’m really focusing on is The North Face 50 on 12/6. I was able to get into the “elite” field so it will another chance to take a beat down from a bunch of fast dudes… and there’s going to be a lot of them.

My training and racing are going very well right now but I’m going to switch things up a bit. In both of the 50k’s I’ve raced in the past month my legs really started to feel it after 20 miles. I know that’s a normal thing but it’s been a bit more than when I’ve run 50k’s in the past. I’m pretty sure that’s from the lower volume running (~45 mpw) I’ve been doing. I am going to add just a bit more running in between now and North Face so hopefully the last 20 miles won’t be a complete death march. Nothing really gets your legs ready for the pounding of ultra running more than just running… and running a lot.

Molly’s race is awesome. It’s grown so much over the course of the past couple of years and I hope it keeps getting bigger and bringing faster guys and girls out to race. We’re pretty lucky in SoCal to have a bunch of great races and race directors.

 

 

 

 

Heading Back to WIEM

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Back in October of 2012 I raced the Whoo’s in El Morro 50k. It was my third ultra after doing the Endure the Bear 50k that September and Holcomb Valley 33 miler in June. So the ultra thing was still very new to me and my motivation was sparked by a trip to southern Utah to pace Slater at the Zion 100. Since then I think I’ve learned a lot but am still always learning. I by no means have this ultra thing figured out… not even close.  I think I’ve found a good balance to my training these days, and it’s actually more of like what I was doing back in 2012. A good mix of running, riding, and strength.

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I signed up for Whoo’s in El Morro that year a couple of days before the race. I was already signed up for the Lake Hodges 50k the following weekend. Kevin told me that if I raced WIEM he’d jump into Hodges. Done. The days before the race I was doing a wireless site survey for a hospital out in El Centro and it was exhausting. Long days on my feet. I remember getting back to my place at 8pm on Friday night after making the long drive back and just wanting to bag the race. If it weren’t for the fact that Kevin was picking me up and driving the next morning I would have for sure have bagged it.

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I’m thankful everyday that I didn’t bag that race and it’s not because I won the race or the set the course record (which has now been smashed by Chris Vargo and Jesse Haynes) it’s because that’s the day I met Maggie.

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She won the women’s race we talked for a bit after the race. Luckily Michelle Barton ran the race as well and took a bunch of photos as she always, awesomely does. She tagged Maggie and I in them on Facebook and that’s how I found out Maggie lived just down the coast from me. I really couldn’t believe that I had never met her because we had quite a few mutual friends.

The following Friday, on our first of many awkward dates, we had our first beer together. She ordered a Sculpin and when the waitress asked her if she wanted a 16 or 20 ounce she didn’t hesitate saying she wanted the 20oz… we were off to a good start! It’s hard to believe that was only 2 years ago and how much good has filled my life since she came into it. If it wasn’t for Molly’s awesome race or Michelle Barton just being awesome we may never have met.

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maggie ripping last year… damn… i’m a lucky dude!

Last year Maggie raced and won and I’m heading back this Sunday to give it another go. Like I mentioned in my last post… the field is stacked and it’s going to make for some awesome racing. I’m predicting some fireworks and explosions. Nothing gets me more stoked to race than the thought of toeing the line with a bunch of guys that can pound me into the dirt.

Sunday will be the kind of opportunity where I get to see what I’m really made of. I am looking forward to running in a pack of fast dudes and seeing how the race plays out and how i react when I’m about to get dropped or when somebody makes a move. It will be a totally different kind of race for me than how Noble Canyon played out where I was off the front from start to finish. I have no idea how the race will play out but I am really looking forward to the challenge, digging deep, and going to the well in an attempt to claim a spot on the podium.

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I feel great and have had some fun, good runs and rides the past couple of weeks. I am not going dial it back as much as I did for Noble as I think I was a bit flat but I will for sure be ready to let it rip.

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Flagstaff

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We left last Wednesday night for Flagstaff. The purpose of the trip was for Maggie to run the Stagecoach 100 miler which started in Flagstaff and finished at the Grand Canyon. We got to Flagstaff midday on Thursday and went for a jog on the trails behind the house we rented. The we hit flagstaff to do some exploring and try some of the local beers.

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Lumberyard Flagstaff IPA

On Friday I met up with Vargo and he took me on a super fun loop. the trails were rad… winding singletrack through woods and all between 7-8500 ft.

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Friday night some killer thunderstorms started to roll in and the forecast called for a lot more severe storms overnight and all day Saturday. Not good.

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Mother Road Roadside Grapefruit Pale Ale. The best beer I had in Flag… and more grapefruity than Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin.

We woke up Saturday morning to heavy rain, wind, thunder, and lightning. We got to the race start right around 7 to find out they had cancelled the race. Driving to the race I had a bad feeling this would happen. Maggie was for sure bummed and frustrated but I have no doubts that Ian (race director) made the right call. The course is very exposed and the conditions saturday were gnarly. the mongollon monster 100 was going on saturday just a bit south as well. they started but then had to stop the race when the storms got too bad which, in my opinion, is worse.

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making the best of a rainy day

Ian salvaged the weekend by putting on a 55k on sunday which would cover the first ~34 miles of the course. I decided to jump in and run it because I was supposed to pace maggie for 33 miles in the race, wanted a long run, and what better way to explore the trails than a supported 34 mile run on some of flagstaff’s best trails.

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My plan for the day was to just cruise and not get caught up in the race. I was feeling really good for it just being a week after the Noble Canyon 50k but all I wanted was a fun long run. I cruised through the killer single track with Vargo for the first 20 miles before he called it a day. Then i just put in my ipod and ran steady to the finish line. the course was rad and I had a lot of fun. I was kind of proud of myself for sticking to my decision not to race… something I’ve been incapable in the past. Just running the distance, spending a lot more time than usual at the aid stations, and chatting with Vargo for 20 miles was a lot of fun and didn’t beat me up.

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Maggie won the women’s race and finished 6th overall. Post race they had good beer and killer pulled pork… always a plus. Flagstaff was rad and we had a great time. I want to get back there and do some more exploring. Thanks Ian and Emily for putting on a killer event and making the most out of the weekend.

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It’s now Friday and I’m feeling great. I wasn’t sore at all after Sunday which is a good sign that my effort was pretty spot on. Originally I was only going to “run” Whoo’s in El Morro and not “race” it since I knew I would be recovering from Noble Canyon and Pacing Maggie at Stagecoach. With my faster then ever recovery from Noble Canyon and getting in an awesome weekend of training in Flagstaff due to the race being cancelled I am now looking forward to really racing.

The reason I’m looking forward to racing, other than it being a super fun race Molly puts on, is that the field that’s going to be there. A lot of fast dudes have already registered and I’m sure there will more on the start line come next Sunday. I can’t wait.

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Noble Canyon 50k Race Report

Last Saturday was a fun day of racing and hanging out after the race. For the most part the race was a success for me and gives me confidence that my plan of lower running mileage, higher riding mileage, and hitting it hard in the gym is working well for me. I did have some rough patches in the race but that was due to an uncooperative gut. My legs were strong and my endurance wasn’t lacking.

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Since early June when I started back running I haven’t run a single step in anything other than Hokas. That’s another thing that’s working that I don’t plan on changing.

I dialed back my training last week leading up to the race but kept the structure the same. I’m a firm believer in keeping the body moving the week of the race and giving it what it’s used to. Race week looked like this:

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: AM Easy 60 min jog around the hood with Maggie, PM Yoga
  • Wednesday: AM 1:25 road ride, Lunch mellow, light strength session. basically stretching/ROM stuff
  • Thursday: AM 50 min hilly run with some pick ups, PM Massage
  • Friday: AM 1:00 easy road ride
  • Saturday: Noble Canyon 50k

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I definitely felt rested and ready to rip on the starting line saturday morning. I could already kind of tell my gut was off a bit before the race but didn’t give it too much thought. Nothing I could have done about it.

The race started and my plan was to go out hard all the way up the climb to Penny Pines (~12 miles). I took the lead right off the line and only Neil really came with me. Not really what I expected. I thought I would have had a few other guys with me. I don’t know if it’s from bike racing or what but I love the one on one and group dynamics of racing. Feeling each other out, listening to your competitors breathing, and deciding when to make a move. On Saturday I decided since nobody really wanted to come with me to make a move early. About a half mile in on the road Neil was running on my shoulder and we were running mid to low 6 minute pace. It felt really comfortable to me and I could hear Neil breathing a bit harder than I was so I revved it up a bit hoping he would give up trying to stay with me and that’s just what he did.

I was already all alone when I hit the Noble Canyon trail head. I kept the pace steady and was having fun. I took the first sip from my EFS liquid shot flask at 30 minutes as planned and it seemed to just sit in my gut. Soon enough my gut was rumbling and I knew a pit stop was in my future. I decided to try hold off until I got done with the climb and through the penny pines aid station. I kept sipping on my flask every 30 minutes even though I wasn’t sure any of it was getting absorbed.

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on the indian creek trail climbing back to Noble Canyon. Thanks for the photo, cheers, and splits robert.

I saw Maggie at Penny Pines and got a bottle… and a kiss.. and was on my way. About half mile later it was finally time for my pit stop. A minute later I was on my way feeling lighter and much better. I kept rolling, drinking, and sipping on my flask. After the out and back at Pioneer mail (mile ~17) I saw Maggie again. She told me that I had an 8 minute lead at 12 miles. I picked up another bottle of Skratch and another flask of EFS. Up until that point I hadn’t take anything from an aid stations.

The next section from Pioneer Mail on the Indian Creek trail was fun but my gut continued to not be happy and the sweetness of the EFS liquid shot was getting to me. My gut was in knots again. Around mile 21 I saw Robert who told me I had a lead of at least 14 minutes. The news that I was that far in the lead and my gut being jacked kinda crushed my will to keep hammering as hard as I was.

At mile ~22 I hit the Big Tree Aid station where Angela Shartel and Scott Mills were working. It’s always awesome to see them out on course. I filled my bottle, got some high fives, and took down a big cup of coke. I bolted out of the aid station and tried to run fast on the descent. At that point my stomach felt worse than it had all day. Typically when my stomach is off, or late in any race, coke is my go to and up until Saturday has always done the trick. About a mile after I left that aid station, in mid stride, I threw up everything that was in my gut… and then again about a mile later. It was awesome… kind of. My gut immediately felt better but I had a good idea of what was bound to happen.

I decided to not try to take any more EFS and at mile 25 took my “emergency” gel. I forced a double latte powergel down and luckily it stayed down. It wasn’t enough. By the time I saw Steve at the mile 28 aid station I was feeling pretty bonky. I stopped for minute and tried to drink some coke and and water but neither were going down very easily. In retrospect I should have stayed there another minute and tried to slam a couple more cups of coke.

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From the aid station to the finished it was a sufferfest… the most I’ve suffered in quite some time…. and not the fun, running as hard as I can, kind of suffering. It was the “when the hell is this climb going to be over with”, “shit… I just want to walk” kind of suffering. I felt like i was crawling the last few miles and was stoked to reach the finish line in 4:03 and get the win.

After I crossed the line I was in a bad way. Every muscle in both my legs felt like they were going to cramp… and I NEVER cramp. Luckily Maggie was right there to walk me to a chair in the shade. All I wanted was a coke and they didn’t have any. Steve saved me. He made a quick run to the store and brought back a bunch of cokes. 40oz of water with NUUN, a can of coke, some time laying in the grass, and I was starting to come around.

It was fun to hang out for a bit, watch a bunch of people finish, and talk with everybody. I still wasn’t feeling awesome so we hit the road but made sure to stop at Alpine on the way home. No matter how bad I felt I wasn’t going all the way out to east county and not getting some of the best beer on the planet. I picked up a growler of Hoppy Birthday and my two (pre-ordered) bottles of Exponential Hoppiness.

So overall it was an awesome day and it was rad to have maggie out there crewing for me. I believe the gut issues were a one off. I use the same stuff for nutrition all the time. EFS liquid shot flasks and skartch labs in 2 of my 4 bottles. It’s always worked in the past so I am not putting too much thought into changing anything up in that regard.

It’s now tuesday and all the soreness is pretty much gone but I’m still pretty tired. we’re heading for flagstaff tomorrow evening and Maggie is racing the Stagecoach 100 on Saturday. I can’t wait to get out there, check out the mountains of flagstaff, and pace her Saturday night.

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Hoppy Birthday. Even better while watching the bolts dominate the bills.

a different approach

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The Noble Canyon 50k is this weekend and I can’t wait. A few weeks ago I posted about my “well rounded” training plan and wrote “I am not training specifically for any one race right now”. I’m not sure that came out right. There are definitely races that I want to run fast at but my training isn’t built around a single one. Instead it’s just been about getting super fit. To be ready for the races I want to do well at I am just dialing it back leading up. The Bulldog 25k and the Endure the Bear 30k were fun training races for me and I didn’t rest heading into them. Noble Canyon is one I want to nail.

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The build up to this race has been quite a bit different than how I started the year. I started the year with 100% focus on running with the Orflamme 50k, PCT 50 Miler, and the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 on my radar. Unfortunately I only got to the start line of one of those races… Oriflamme. I was fit and had a great race but shortly after I was down and out with a frustrating injury. What I thought was just gnarly shin splint ended up being a tibial stress fracture. Lame.

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Baldy

From the start of the year through Oriflamme I was running a lot. Typically about 6 days a week and the one day I wasn’t running I’d usually go for an easy spin on my bike. I was also doing a lot of workouts and harder running. It was fun for sure but it started wearing on me a bit. After not following a specific training plan since 2011 I thought it would be fun and also help me get back some speed. I definitely put down some good workouts and was getting faster but it was burning me out mentally, and apparently physically as well. So after letting my shin heal and getting back to training in early June I decided on a different approach.

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doin’ work at Nakoa

I basically had this skeleton schedule and for most part my weeks looked like this for past 12+ weeks:

  • Mon: Rest Day
  • Tues: Am 60-75 min run with Maggie, Pm Yoga
  • Weds: Am 1.5-2 hour hilly mtb, Lunch strength session at NaKoa (agility & high intensity)
  • Thurs: 60-75 min hilly run, Pm occasional easy 30 min jog with Maggie (only and handful of times)
  • Friday: Am easy 60-90 min spin, lunch strength session on my own (heavy)
  • Sat: Long, mellow run in the mtns.
  • Sun: 2-3 ride & 30 min run or 60-90 min easy run

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It was pretty simple and really easy for me to pull off with my work and life schedule. Taking monday’s off from running or riding each week was awesome and something I rarely have done in the past. Full days of rest didn’t used come regularly but as I’m getting older and still going for it pretty hard the day off helps a lot.  It also let me get extra sleep on monday mornings and took my typically fast recovery to another level.

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I tried to reduce the days of back to back running, ride my mountain bike a lot, work really hard in the gym, and just do the kind of running that’s fun for me. Like I’ve mentioned before the only “hard” running I’ve done in the past 10 weeks has been unstructured and 100% uphill or in races. No intervals, no hill repeats, no tempo, nothing… but it’s been working. What else I found with running a bit less is that running never felt like a grind. Holding myself back and not running as much had me even more stoked to get out there door on running days than I usually am. The weekend runs in the mountains were some of the most fun I’ve ever had running. Maggie and I have done so many awesome runs this summer. We’ve run all over tahoe, mammoth, baldy, san jacinto, east county san diego, and the santa ana mountains Those days had nothing to do with training. I never worried about how they would pay off come race day or how fast or slow were were going. It was just all about just being outside, up high, having fun, and exploring with maggie.

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A good sign that I’m fitter right now than I’ve been in some time was my run last Thursday at Mt Woodson. It’s a good local climb that I’ve run quite a bit and it’s a good test. There’s a Strava segment (Lake Poway Boat Ramp to Mt Woodson) for the climb and I had the 4th best time up the climb. Before I go any further… I know not everybody uses Strava and the CR’s/KOM’s aren’t necessarily the fastest time anybody has ever run that segment. Some fast local guys had run that segment faster than me so chasing the CR was good motivation to knock out one more hard effort before Noble.

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I set my previous best time about a year ago at the end of last august after we got back form leadville. i thought I was in good shape and went 36:57 for the climb and it was basically everything I had. When I ran it last Thursday I went 34:32. Almost two and a half minutes faster and getting the CR by 35 seconds. I was stoked with effort and know I could clock a faster time. I blew by the turn at about 1.8 miles in and lost just over a minute before getting back on the right trail. I think something in the 33′s is doable.

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the time on my watch is actually for a little before and after the actual segment

 

I’ve had a couple of good shorter races but I guess the question is how this will this all work out on Saturday when I have to run 30+ miles.

For comparison’s sake below is the 10 weeks before the Oriflamme 50k back in the spring and the past 10 weeks leading up to Noble Canyon.

week of – run miles (climbing) ,ride miles (climbing)

10 Weeks leading up to the Oriflamme 50k (4.5.2014)

  1. 1/20 – 52 (559) ,24 (1204)
  2. 1/27 – 49 (5490) , 24 (1230) (Xterra Mission Gorge 15k)
  3. 2/3 – 56 (4808), 18 (610)
  4. 2/10 – 61 (6969), 23 (1214) (Baz 21k)
  5. 2/17 – 68 (4798), 24 (1207)
  6. 2/24 – 76.5 (8707), 23.5 (1211)
  7. 3/3 – 50 (1300), 0 – MA/VA vacation/rest week
  8. 3/10 – 75 (7139), 45 (1923)
  9. 3/17 – 74 (8745), 48 (2142)
  10. 3/24 – 67 (5570), 78 (3045) (got my new road bike!)
  • Weekly avg: run 63/5408 miles/climbing, ride 31/1378 miles/climbing
  • 6786 avg feet of climbing per week combined
  • Avg 85 feet of climbing per mile running
  • Avg 44 feet of climbing per mile riding

10 Weeks leading up to the Noble Canyon 50k (9.20.2014)

  1. 7/7 – 33 (4561), 120 (11244)
  2. 7/14 – 47 (9228), 77 (6650) (tahoe & mammoth)
  3. 7/21 – 42 (6136), 70 (5820)
  4. 7/28 – 53 (9604), 48 (3976)
  5. 8/4 – 49 (11083), 77 (6516)
  6. 8/11 – 46 (5626), 42 (3596)
  7. 8/18 – 40 (5981), 85 (5023) (bulldog)
  8. 8/25 – 46 (8688), 102 (7703)
  9. 9/1 – 53 (7345), 60 (4528) (Big Bear/ETB)
  10. 9/8 – 34 (5342, 90 (5929)
  • Weekly avg: run 44/7349 miles/climbing, ride 77/6100 miles/climbing
  • 13449 avg feet of climbing per week combined
  • avg 167 feet of climbing per mile running
  • avg 80 feet of climbing per mile riding

Definitely some geeky numbers and I know just running and riding volume doesn’t tell the whole story. I knew I was running less, riding more, and doing more climbing so I just wanted to see how much. The really focused strength work, more rest, amount of fun I’m having, and good beer also have a lot to do with how good I’m feeling these days. I’m really interested to see how this all plays out on Saturday. Of course there are more factors than just the training that go into having a successful, fast race but I think I’ve got a handle on most of those variables. I’ve raced enough 50k’s that I have my nutrition dialed. I’ve run the entire course and as for pacing… that’s the easy part… gut myself. I’m just really looking forward to having fun, running extremely hard, and getting to bang elbows with bunch of friends and fast runners… and of course the post race beers.

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first beer i had watching the bolts take it to the seagulls

 

seek and enjoy

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last weekend we were up in big bear and for the most part it was a typical, awesome weekend for us. we ran, we raced, we hiked in the mountains with ruby, we drank good beer, but most importantly this happened:

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after racing saturday morning we headed out for a hike with ruby up to Castle Rock. after some exploring and route finding we found our way to quiet, killer little rock formation. a perfect spot to relax and have beer… and to ask Maggie to marry me.

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Ruby looking very much like a wolf.

My life has been filled with all kinds of ups and downs, good decision, bad decisions, and mistakes… but I wouldn’t change a thing. I have no regrets. Sure there are things I could have done differently and situations I could have avoided but if I wouldn’t have lived the life I have and I probably would have never met Maggie when I did… and the thought of that scares the shit out of me. Life has never been so simple, easy, and awesome. I’ve definitely reached an all-time level of happiness… and it just keeps getting better.

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Hands down asking maggie to marry me, and her saying yes, was the highlight of the trip but we also raced Saturday morning. It was the third year in a row I’ve run one the Endure the Bear trail races. In 2012 I ran the 50k and the last two years I’ve run the 30k. The course is rad, the vibe is laidback, and it’s just a good time.

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Last year I won the 30k and it was my first race back since my crash. I worked really hard had a good day and was pushed by Matt (now the race director) and a couple of others. It took all I had at that time. Coming into the race this year I was excited to see how’d I’d go compared to last year and to get another good effort before the Noble Canyon 50k on 9/20.

On the starting line I was feeling pretty lethargic from the last few weeks of training and with smaller field I was trying to motivate myself to run hard. The race started and up the first, mellow climb on the road Maggie and I were running together and already off the front. After a mile i decided to get to work. I ran steady up the first climb and then let it rip on the Skyline trail. The Skyline trail is one of my favorite stretches of trail anywhere so I was just having fun. My mind was wandering a lot and mostly about what I was going to do later that day.

By the time I came off the Skyline trail I was way off the front. I kept running hard through 10 miles and then put it in cruise control and just had fun. I got the win and ran 6+ minutes faster than last year. Last year I was on the rivet the whole race and pushing it as hard as I could. This year was the opposite. I ran very controlled and averaged 7:33 pace for the almost 20 miles, 3,000 ft of climbing, and all at between 6,700 and 7,800 ft of elevation. For sure a good sign heading into Noble Canyon.

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Maggie got the win and finished 2nd overall… also much faster than last year. I can’t wait to head to Flagstaff in a couple of weeks and watch her take on the Stagecoach 100.

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You gotta love a race that gives 12 packs of good beer for prizes.

I woke up Sunday morning and wasn’t sore at all from the Saturday race which was another good sign. After Bulldog a couple of weeks ago my quads were thrashed. We took ruby on a long morning walk around town, got some coffee, and then headed to Gray’s Peak for another run before heading home. Gray’s Peak is rad and run we do every time we’re up there. Such a rad trail and killer views.

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the weekend couldn’t have been any better.

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Bulldog 25k Race Report

A good friend of mine always used to talk about “putting your hand in the fire” in reference to not being afraid to get in the mix and go to your limit in a race or training session. You see it all the time… athlete’s that are in good shape, talented, and have the ability, but are afraid or hesitant to get in the mix, put it all out there, hang on for dear life, and suffer on race day.

lyrics of one of my favorite rise against songs about the same thing, Satellite:

“You can’t feel the heat until you hold your hand over the flame
You have to cross the line just to remember where it lays
You won’t know your worth now, son, until you take a hit
And you won’t find the beat until you lose yourself in it

 

You can’t fill your cup until you empty all it has
You can’t understand what lays aheadIf you don’t understand the past
You’ll never learn to fly now
‘Til you’re standing at the cliff
And you can’t truly love until you’ve given up on it”

 


For me the that feeling is what it’s all about. It’s the reason I always get nervous on the start line. It’s not because I’m worried about how I’m going to do or how the race is going to go it’s because I know I’m about to willingly put myself in a lot of discomfort (putting my hand in the fire). Saturday I got a chance, after many months and another injury, to get back out there and get to that place and feel the “heat”.

Like i wrote about in my last post my training has been going really well with more of an overall balance. I was looking forward to racing to see just where I was race fitness-wise. The only hard running i have been doing has been uphill. That lets me work hard and minimize impact and overstriding. I don’t worry about pace. I just make sure I’m properly hurting on the climbs. I haven’t done any structured workouts either. I’ve just been trying to better my times on all my local climbs and chase some Strava CR’s. Maggie and I were talking on our run last tuesday about I probably hadn’t run a sub 7 mile since racing Oriflamme back in April. So Saturday was truly a test of how my new, sustainable method of training, would translate into racing. I didn’t rest at all going into the race. Monday through Friday leading up to the saturday race was just liked all the past weeks. 2 runs, 2 rides, and 2 hard strength sessions.

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The race went very well. There were quite a few quick dudes on the start line ready to rip. Straight away I was in a 5 man/1 woman pack. Some cross country kids (college & HS) were leading the charge and I was just sitting in. We went through the  first mile in 6:15 and it felt good, not hard at all, and it was by far the fastest mile I have run since racing oriflamme.

we hit the first little climb and 4 of the guys surged and got a little gap on me. i was thinking “shit they’re either going to smash me or crack”. I kept running my pace and a minute later they all came back to me and I took the lead. they were breathing really hard so I surged over the top and rolled the short descent opening up a gap. then it was on to the single track before the bulldog climb. i rolled it figuring my technical skills were better then theirs. by time i hit the start of the climb at 3 miles i couldn’t see anybody behind me.

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making my move

i ran steady up the climb and then had a solid lead. i unleashed it on the descent and was hitting sub 5 min pace at times (probably why my quads felt like they hand knives stuck in them for two days after the race). the race was pretty much over at that point. I ran steady/hard the rest of the way but didn’t kill myself.

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It was a really fun and good day. I’m always stoked to get a win but more than anything it was just good to feel everything (good and bad) that goes along with racing.

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Maggie was the first woman and 4th overall in the 50k and set a new course record. She worked hard for that one. I saw her come through the last aid station and she was suffering but she kept her head down and got the course record by 30 seconds!

maggie

As we often do we celebrated that night at Priority Public House with some awesome beers and killer food.

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Up next is the Endure the Bear 30k on 9/6, and then the race I’m really looking forward to, the Noble Canyon 50k on 9/20. I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing as it seems to be working.

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morning miles with the wolfpack