Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Get to Midway - Wasatch 100 - Mark

2015 was a year of redemption. I had to fix DNF's from 2014 at The BigHorn 50 and Wasatch. Earlier this year I picked up my BigHorn finish and as Wasatch approached I felt very confident that I would make the finish line there as well.

I have a 2012 Wasatch finish but heard that the second buckle is the hardest. It was! My training went well. I ate better and as such raced on race day at my lowest weight in 15 years. I prepped early by packing drop bags and figuring out logistics two weeks in advance. It helped me to rest and focus on the race.

Each race I run I write a note or two to myself on my arm. This year I wrote "GTM" which meant "Get To Midway". No matter what came up I was going to get to Midway. Little did I know how much I would need that note. 

My wife Sarah, daughter Riley, sister Suzy and niece Grace all drove me to the start line. It was fun and we kept the mood light. Once we arrived we saw QB, Kara and Jeff all of whom were running and all of whom I consider some of my best running friends. A quick check-in, a few pics and I was ret to go. 

I love the anti-climatic start of the Wasatch. A brief countdown, a shout of "GO" and hundreds of runners walk into a bottleneck like cattle. Once the bottleneck works out real running can occur. I ran with a great friend over to Fernwood. There is always a small group of cheerleaders at Fernwood. Even though you are only 3 ish miles into the race the support and cheers really help. 

I settled into the conga line for the first big climb. I started my shuffle and the good tunes seemed to carry me up the hill. I felt much better about this years first climb and found myself dance/hiking in some spots. 

As I started up Chin Scraper I put both ear buds in and decided to grip into the climb. As we were in the second to last switch back I looked up to see panicked runners waving there arms and yelling. I ripped out my music and heard them screaming "ROCK"!!! I looked up and saw a rock a little smaller than a bowling ball making its way down the hill right at me and one other runner in front of me. We both backed up about ten feet down the trail. Right as the rock was about to safely pass us, it kicked off the hill and missed us by about 2 feet. Heart now full on pumping. 

I popped the tunes back in and started to make the final approach to the top of Chin Scraper. About 50 yards from the top Drake's "Started From The Bottom Now We Here" came on shuffle. It was a perfect song to hit the top of the first big climb that day. Today will be special. 

I checked in and out of Francis in the exact same time from 2012. To the minute! Climbed well to Bountiful B - no ice. Made decent time to Sessions - no ice. Battled the heat and lost a lot of time from Sessions to Swallow- two ice cubes. Battled discouragement of lost time and heat into Big Mountain. 

Once in Big Mountain I was almost an hour off of 2012 pace and the race was eerily resembling 2014's DNF effort. GTM!! After some amazing support and cheers from my crew, I left with my pacer Christian Hampshire. We made decent time but I could tell the clock was still slipping on us. Half way to Alexander Springs we passed a runner who was laying down and puking his guts out. It looked like his pacer was on the phone calling for help. We asked if they were okay or needed anything and they said they were fine. The sound of his vomit made me want to vomit. So I did! Big time!! About ten feet beyond this poor guy I emptied my entire stomach! Puke and rally!! I felt so much better. Christian and I made great time all of the way to Alexander and eventually to Lambs picking up 15 minutes on 2012 pace. Rally started!!

At Lambs the crew fixed me up quick and new pacer Luke Larsen and I took to the trail. Luke lives in Bend, OR and flew in just to pace me. He and I have shared countless trail miles together. Almost every training run in 2012 was done together and we both finished the race. Luke in under 30 hours. When I would tell people that Luke would be pacing me, they would react like the Beatles were getting back together. Luke and I planned to not see each other prior to the race so our reunion on the course was more than sweet. This was the start of the most euphoric trail night of my life! 

Our strategy was to manage the always difficult Lamb's climb and push from there. We climbed Lambs well passing the one and only dude we saw. On our descent into Millcreek the passes started to pile up! We made it to Elbow and climbed the road well. Luke kept me on task. We shut off our headlamps and walked the road in utter darkness, viewing the stars only to switch on our lights when the sporadic car approached. 

We made a great stop at Upper Big Water which was the crime scene of 2014's DNF. We saw our friends Kara and Scotty here. This race is hard and we shared a special moment with them. It is the kind of moment that you only get 60 plus miles and 20 plus hours into a difficult mountain race. KJ and Scotty took off as Luke and I wrapped up our stop. 

On the climb to Dog we passed several other people and climbed well until right before the lake. We spent about a mile in a dark place but came to with some extra calories. My stomach was uneasy again. Luke pushed me to Deso. We continued to pass people. I don't pass people. I get passed. This was starting to get fun but I knew it was necessary if I wanted a shot at the the finish. 

Our neighborhood scout troop had hiked to camp at Deso so they could cheer runners on and see me come by. The scouts were asleep but the leaders welcomed us to the fire. My good friend Eric even changed batteries in my dying headlamp. Off we went. Luke and I climbed to Red Lovers and my stomach grew more and more uneasy. I began to dry heave. Luke asked me if I cod gag myself. "Never tried!" So now on the crest I gave my throat the two finger salute and violently puked my guts out AGAIN!! Everything gone. Puke and rally part 2. 

We ran well to Scott's passing several people along the way. Luke would holler out 19, 20, 21 as we passed people. Finally he said " this is stupid! I hate counting!! You have passed a lot of people!!!" 

After Scott's Luke said " I am gonna get you to Brighton by 7:00 AM" I was excited about this because that would mean that we would have made up all of my lost time and would be back on 2012 pace. A major moral victory. He pushed and I gave him what I had. As we made the turn to Brighton from the bottom of Guardsmen's I asked Luke what time it was. 
"Do you really want to know?" He replied "Please" 

What a night! We caught up, laughed, strategized, puked, passed loads of good runners and made up a grip of time!! Luke was a CHAMPION pacer.

The crew made sure I did not stay long at Brighton. John Peterson, pacer number 3, and I hit the final 25. We managed the climb to Point Supreme. I did struggle a bit. I was hoping I didn't push too hard through the night that I would have nothing left for the back 25. Only time would tell. 

Once over the climb we ran most of the way to Ant Knolls. It was already getting hot! I had lost time on 2012 pace. This was not going to be easy! We were going to have to battle every mile to the finish. We climbed the Grunt and ran into Pole Line playing leap frog with several runners. We made a good stop at Pole Line and it was nice to see some familiar faces aiding there. 

The descent to Pot Hollow took a second to find a rhythm but we eventually did. It was here that John told me we had no time buffer and that we would have to push to even make cut-off. Discouragement and doubt hit a record high! I know me. I know what I had left in the tank. I could not reconcile what I had left inside and what I had left in miles. We ran into Pot Hollow and made our way up the road climbing good overall. I took one break due to the heat but this climb went better than anticipated. 

We made our way to Stanton with the finish still in doubt. It was HOT!!! I kept eating ice, dousing myself with water and drinking all I could. It didn't help. Nothing did! The heat was was winning. We death marched to the top of the wall and used gravity to get us to Decker. 6 miles to go. Plenty of time to do it. Race still in doubt. Heat still winning and at this point unable to eat anything else.

We ran then walked then stumbled along the rail trail that NEVER ended!! Each corner only  exposed more trail. Please make this stop. FINALLY we saw my good friend Craig and then Camden, Cooper and Annie. Less than a mile. Race finally out of doubt. Here comes the emotion even though I had very little motion. The boys  looked relieved. Riley soon joined us and together we all crossed the finish line for the second time. 

My support crew is really second to none! It was so good to see and hug all of them. I could tell by the look on their faces that I did not look well. This one hurt!

In hindsight this finish might be the most meaningful. I had to battle all of the normal physical ailments that come with a 100 miler. I had to battle the heat. Twice!! I had to battle doubt for dang near 70 miles. GTM!!

Major thanks to crew and pacers who did so much to help. I could not have done it without you. 


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

2015 Speedgoat 50K

This last weekend at the Speedgoat 50K was  euphoric! It marked the first attempt at an ultra for my wife Sarah and the day that all three of my kids officially became members of the ultra community. Other highlights were my 5 nephews along with our good friend Rodney Sager toeing the starting line.

We woke up at 4:00 AM got the last few things together and made the short drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon. I love living at the mouth of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. The accessibility is second to none. As we drove I could tell that Sarah was excited and nervous. She was struggling to wrap her head around what was about to go down. 

We entered Entry 1 at Snowbird ski resort. Welcome to SUFFERFEST! We went through check in, affixed Sarah's bib and began the hour wait until the start. We stood in the midst of ultra rock stars and legends. Sage Canady, two time defending Speedgoat champ, Jenn Shelton, George Grygar, Roch Horton, Jared Campbell and the Speedgoat himself, Karl Meltzer. My nephews or as we have started calling them, "The Nephews" rolled in and got checked in as well. A few pictures and a countdown later and the race was underway. 

Riley had left a few moments earlier with Mike Place and crew to begin aiding at the the Mineral Basin aid station. Runners will pass through that aid station twice. I knew that Riley would do well there and was excited to see how she liked it. 

Cam, Coop and I took the tram to Hidden Peak. This was our first crew spot. We had our work cut out for us as we would effectively be crewing 7 runners. It was chilly but comfortable on the peak. Before long the runners began to stream into the AS lead by Sage Canady who ran strong the entire way. It was a sight to behold. 

Justin, Rodney, John John, Brad, Michael and Jason all came through in that order. Each made good stops and wasted little time getting back on the course and on to Mineral 1. As time passed Camden got antsy. He wanted to see his Mom and make sure she was good. He asked me if he could pace her to Mineral. I thought it a good idea and may be a lift for her. She made her way in and looked great. She had a small cramp in her hammy but a quick fix of Deep Blue had her feeling good. Cam and her took off and looked strong as they descended. 

Coop and I packed up the crew pack and made our way down to the Tunnel AS. That was our next crew spot and a critical part of the race as this is where the runners had to be prior to 3:20 PM in order to make the time cut. 

Situated above the tunnel was a ridge where we could sit and view a large portion of the course. Coop and I set up camp, broke out the binoculars and watched the carnage from afar. Not long after we arrived did Sage come barreling through. He was 25 minutes in front of second place and within 30 seconds of the course record.

The other runners were spread out and we cheered on each one of them. By this time Camden had joined Riley in Mineral and picked up Duties as an AS volunteer. The nephews came by in order. All were happy to have the Baldy climb in the rear view but it had rendered them nearly speechless. My nephew Jason would have to drop at Mineral due to some issues with his knee.

Time was running out and there was still no sign of Sarah. I kept glassing the single track trail that appeared out of the trees. This trail connected Pacific Mine to Mineral 2. Soon I saw the familiar gait  of my wife. I yelled "run Sarah!!" hoping that the echoes would carry my cheer to her. I knew the chances that she heard me were low. I tried calling her phone with no luck. I tried again and then again. Finally she answered. I told her that she was cutting it close and would need to run as hard as she could in order to make cut-off. She pushed! I called Camden and said "mom is close. Go get her! Push her! She HAS to make cut-off!" I watched through my binoculars as Cam ran out of the AS. I watched as Sarah dug deep. I watched the gap from Cam to Sarah close. I watched him reach her, pat her on the back and I watched both of them run their way to Mineral 2. Sarah cut it close but ultimately passed through the AS.

From here on out, Sarah was in a fight. The Mountain was not an easy opponent and she knew it. She called me. She was crying. Crying in a way that I have never heard from her before. It was deep emotion. This race and the climb she was engaged in had stripped her of any walls. Knowing that time had run out on her, I agreed to meet her on the trail and accompany her to the tunnel aid station. She gave all that she had! I was proud and impressed with her quality of effort.

Once at the tunnel, a dutiful attendant asked Sarah for her bib. It felt cold. I get it but it felt cold. We took the lift to the start/finish to cheer on some friends and the remainder of the nephews.

I knew Sarah was bummed but I also sensed a bit of pride for digging deep and giving her all. Perhaps I felt my own pride for her. She did all that she could and gave all that she had. I couldn't have been more proud. 

The finish line is always a good time. Over time I have made some great friends in this sport. I watched many of them finish. I chatted with others. The Speedgoat  brings out the best in people.

Throughout the day Cooper had been inspired by the Thatcher boys. They were 17 and 14 respectively. They are the sons of Bryce Thatcher founder/owner of Ultraspire. As the day went on Cooper was more inspired. He asked several times if I thought he was capable to run this race next year. I do think he is! I will support him in every way that I can.

The day finally wound down and we piled in the Prius and made our way home. The car ride was spent with each of us sharing our stories from the day. Riley and Camden had a great time volunteering and have already committed to do it again next year. My guess is Sarah will be back. I'll crew. Coop? He'll be running!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Battle at Bighorn 2015 - Mark

The BigHorn had stumped me twice! During both of my previous attempts I didn't feel bad but rather slow. Before I could make it to the Dry Fork aid station, situated at mile 34.5, time had run out and I had missed the cut-off. The long drive down the hill back to the park in Dayton, WY was painful and discouraging. Time, money and training all wasted! 

This year Bighorn weekend fell on Father's Day. I was hesitant to sign up but in the end I had to get the Bighorn monkey of my back. This was such a runnable, finishable race. I just had not quite got it figured out. The plan was to take the entire family. Enjoy Sheridan and Dayton, WY and maybe even visit Martin's Cove. As the race got closer, Sarah and I decided to try and save some money by sending me without the family. 

My friend QB was running the 100 and was taking his daughter Kara to pace him. Our other friend Jeff was pacing his good friend Craig Stahl in the 100. With all of those people headed to the same location we decided to all carpool and share rooms. This greatly cut cost and put my mind at ease a bit more than it had been.

We left the Wednesday night prior to the race and traveled to Riverton, WY where we stayed in a cheap Motel 6 straight out of the 70s. Thursday we made our way into Sheridan. The drive was not as bad as I remember and I was able to get some good sleep while we drove. I took a neck pillow that was a life saver. I likely will never leave that home for a road trip again.

Once in Sheridan, we did the 100 mile packet pick-up and drop bag prep and delivery. We shopped and ate and enjoyed some tunes and refreshment at the Mint Bar. Main Street Sheridan is one of my favorite places. That night they had a street fair complete with food trucks and live music. I ate and listened. It was my kind of night. 

Friday was all about getting the 100 milers on the course and all of my final preparations made. We traveled to Dayton and ultimately to Tongue River Road where the 100 started. We watched and cheered them on their way. As soon as they left I felt like it was now my time to focus on my race and get this done. Kara and Jeff and I went to eat lunch at a TGI Fridays type restaurant. I ordered a steak and sweet potato fries. It could not have been a better meal! The steak was great but the sweet potato fries were heavenly!! They had dusted them with powdered sugar and included a cinnamon honey butter dipping cup. Kara and I both declared this as the only time to simply eat butter.

I prepped and delivered my drop bags and went to be early. Kara and Jeff left to go attend to their pacing duties. I had the hotel room to myself and really got a pretty good nights sleep. 

I woke up at 3:00 AM and got ready. I took my time maybe a bit too much. I ended up having to rush to catch the 4:00 AM bus in Dayton. I got on the bus as the doors closed and took the long bus ride up to the Jaws trailhead and the start of the race. At the start line I took a bathroom break, huddled by the fire and chatted with a few new friends. 

We sang the national anthem, had a race countdown until the siren sounded and the race was underway. I took my place in the single track conga line and ran well across the upper flats of the course. I had made a race plan for this years race. I felt like I could make up some time in the first 18 miles. My goal rather than to ease in would be to start fast and try and hang on. I wanted to be into Foot Bridge by 10:00 AM with a stretch goal of 9:30 AM. Once the conga broke up I took my chance and went for it. I in and outed the first two aid stations. I felt strong and that strength caused me to push harder. At the third aid station I topped of with water and ate a bit of food. I was slow leaving the station but quickly remembered the goal and began to push again. I entered Foot Bridge AS, mile 18, at 9:40 AM or 3:40 elapsed time.

I had a good stop at FB and loaded up with a bag of fruit and started my climb up the dreaded "Wall". I ate as I went. It felt good to refuel! Once the fruit was gone I was able to settle into a steady pace up and over the mountain. My race strategy for the wall was to simply manage the climb. I did just that. As I was about 3/4 through the 3 mile climb, I ran into QB and Kara who were 70ish miles into QB's 100 attempt. It was a joyous exchange but QB kept me on task and told me to go get my finish. The mud at the top of the wall was the worst it has been in all three years of me running in this race. I navigated through and hit the Elk Camp AS. 

This AS has a natural spring and some of the best drinking water on the planet. I sat on a log and drank 4 full cups of water while the AS attendants filled my pack. I walked out of Elk Camp ahead of pace and feeling relatively good. After a short walk I decided to try a light jog. The jog felt good enough that I decided to push the pace again. There was a lady running strong in a pink hat. I said to myself, "stick with pink hat". I settled in about 20 yards behind her and kept step for step all of the way to Cow Camp. Time was looking good! The next AS was Dry Fork where the cut-off had taken me both years prior. 

After a brief stop at the Cow Camp AS, in which I drank a full can of Pepsi, I was on my way to beat the cut. The more that I realized that I was going to make it the more energy I had. I passed a bunch of people and climbed hard to the AS. Knowing that I was going to make it my mind drifted to my wife. For some reason I began to convince myself that she would be at the AS. I got lost in thought of our reunion. It made me quite emotional. I soon realized that this would not be the case but being lost in that thought helped me in a variety of ways. Finally, at the top of the climb, I was into Dry Fork! This had been an AS that I had missed by 10 combined minutes over the last two years. Now I was in an hour early. I quickly changed shoes, drank another Pepsi, ate a hot soup during the heat of the day, grabbed a bag of fruit and left Dry Fork! 

I ate and climbed relieved that I had a least made it passed my nemesis. Once I crested the short climb. I started in on the downhill. I felt strong and passed a few more people. I jumped off the road and into the single track. It was beautiful! Then in mid stride I cramped! I cramped hard!! I immediately began a straight leg walk. I quickly pounded several salt tabs and drank a lot of water. I was able to get the cramping down enough to ease back in to a light jog. I entered the lower sheep creek AS, ate a banana, applied some deep blue to my tired muscles and left feeling much better.

The next section offered a VERY stout climb. It was relatively short but very steep. I felt good going up but once I summited the hill I kind of just wanted to be done. Even though the next 5 mile section was downhill it was difficult for me. The trail was narrow and paralleled a barb wire fence. My quads were on fire! Out of the necessity of gravity I lightly ran down the hill. I entered the AS at the bottom of the hill and was told that there was two miles to the final AS and only 5 miles to the finish. 

After each AS I felt rejuvenated and was able to run pretty well. This last stop, coupled with the strong desire to get to the finish, kept me moving well. I in and outed the last AS and moved down the long dirt road into Dayton. As I ran, Jeff can bopping down the road to run me in. We ran/walked for the next  3 miles. I asked Jeff to run into the park to film the finish so I could share it with my family. 

I ran around the corner and into the park and had the joy of an ultra finish rush over me. I was so pumped to get this done. I crossed the line in 13:52. I shared hugs with Jeff, Ann English, Missy Berkel and Craig Stahl. Later QB and Kara would join in on the celebration. QB was cut for time at Dry Fork. If there is anybody that knows about that cut it is I. 

I ate a burger and a dog at the park and slowly made my way to the car. I didn't sleep well that night but felt great on the ride home. I was overjoyed to pull in the driveway and see that my daughter Riley had affixed, to the house,  a banner that said "Happy Father's Day Bighorn Finisher!" 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Searching for Redemption - Mark

A week away from redemption at the BigHorn. This is not a difficult race. It just has been difficult for me. 
Year one was a great day. I felt good most of the time. I took pictures, chilled, had fun, got caught up in it all and missed the cut-off. Year two, I didn't feel too bad other than I had some intestinal issues early. I pushed as hard as I could but again, I missed cut-off! Both times at mile 35 and within minutes. The ride back from Dry Fork has been long!

This year I feel stronger, lighter and most importantly, more determined! I leave on Wednesday to head back up the long road to Sheridan. It is a fun and great trip! Beautiful! The BigHorns are special!! I am excited.

I have a few tweaks to the approach this year. Rule # 1 is keep eating!! Rule # 2 is smile and focus on the good. Rule # 3 is DGUB! (Don't give up boy)

I will be shooting for the Foot Bridge aid station in 3 1/2 hours. That is really quick but I feel like it is doable. I will manage the wall and pace to Dry Fork. One I get through Dry Fork I plan to jump up and down and ride the momentum and adrenaline to the finish. 

I will be wearing bib number 669. Anything with a nine in it is good luck for me. 9 is my favorite number. The way I see it is that those sixes represent my upside down attempts at BigHorn. The 9 will represent my finish this year.

March 2015 Recap - Mark

Here is my recap of what was a very fun month on the face trails of the Wasatch. I refer to them as face trails as they are on the west face of the Wasatch Front. These trails are very accessible and get baked by the sun. It makes these trails great for spring running. 

These trails are extremely engaging to me this time of year. Some of them are quite technical and require me to get quick feet. I feel sharper after a fast (for me) descent of say, Mt. Olympus. I spent the majority of my March schedule on Mt. Olympus with a few variations here and there. 

I paced QB and Jeff Stowell at the Buffalo run. This is a 100 mile race held entirely on Antelope Island. It is a good kick-off for the Salt Lake City Ultra Running community. In all I logged 28 miles that day between pacing them both and running back and forth between them. Sarah joined me for this and also picked up some QB pacing miles. She was great! We had fun in our little tent, eating a meal in our camp chairs and just being with each other.

It was a great night and day. I started pacing QB around 1:00 AM and we journeyed through the night for about 6 hours and just shy of 20 miles. QB is an amazing man that almost every runner knows and loves. I feel like most runners would say that QB is their best trail buddy. The truth is that he is. He brings smiles everywhere he goes.

QB was 50 miles into his race and it was in the wee hours of the morning. I was tired from a long days work with a full night of pacing duties ahead of me. Our walls came down and we shared "our stories" with one another. I love the raw vulnerability that long miles and short sleep brings out in us. I feel closer to QB after I shared some deeply personal things that night. We connected. He ran strong! It was euphoric. 

Pacing is my jam and I remain committed to my long term plans of eventually getting a Hard Rock finish and then becoming a career pacer never to run a hundred again. If you read this and are ever in need of a pacer shout me a holla.

Some other highlights from March were an introduction to the BoSho above Draper. I ran this with Sarah and Matt Farness who I met at Wasatch Powder House. He is the manager there and has taken great care of me. We ran strong and the prospect of a new trail was invigorating. I since have run it one more time. If ran as an out and back, the turn offers a view of the LDS Draper Temple. 

Perhaps my favorite run of March came on Oly. I climbed a little bit above the second stream. From the first stream and beyond the trail was covered in a mash potato like snow. My descent was chaotic. I was grabbing trees, sliding, bumping, skiing and doing all that I could to stay upright. I passed a few hikers with poles and spikes gently working their way down. One of the hikers yelled out "your gonna kill yourself running like that". I thought if he only knew that I am a back-of-the-packer. It was a riot. I wanted to hike up and do it again but was pressed for time.

All in all March was one of my favorite trail months ever. I stayed very committed to eating right and working out. All in all I lost another 5 pounds during the month taking my total for the year to 14. I logged just over 80 miles with a fair amount of vert. I PRd Mt. Olympus to the first stream and back 4 different times. I felt good on all but one run. I can only pray that the rest of the year feels this good.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

2014 Review - 2015 Preview (Mark)

2014 proved to be a difficult year for me on the trails. I felt strong most of the year but ended the year without an Ultra finish in 2 attempts. I learned/re-learned a lot and am excited about 2015.

My first DNF of the year was at the BigHorn 50 miler in Sheridan, WY. I felt good all day but missed the time cut-off at mile 35 by 11 minutes. I missed this cut in 2013 as well. I have missed it twice by a combined 17 minutes. I love the Bighorns and will be back and WILL finish.

My second DNF was at the Wasatch 100. I missed the time cut-off at Upper Big Water (Mile 62). While my official DNF status was "timed out", I was in bad shape. I had been battling a sore hip all day, couldn't stay awake and was in general emotionally exhausted. Earlier that week my father-in-law Victor Nielsen passed away. My race status was in question until the Monday before the race when funeral plans were solidified. I had many guests at my house the week leading up to the race and was unable to get the sleep that I needed.

In addition to all of the aforementioned contributing factors, I was broken hearted. I had spent the week watching my wife mourn her father and my kids missing their Grandpa. I had my own emotions to sort through. In some respects I felt guilty/selfish for wanting to run. I decided to run but never felt right physically or emotionally.

I also feel like I trained somewhat incorrectly. In 2012 when I DID finish the Wasatch I had spent so much of my training focused on vert. Climb, climb and climb some more was my motto. In 2014 I did a lot of long runs but lacked focus on the vert. I felt that lack of focus particularly on the climb to the Bountiful B. I struggled mightily!

In the end 2014 was discouraging from a results perspective but proved to be a great year for learning running and life lessons. I had some great pacing duties and spent my summer in the Wasatch Mountains. A great SUCCESS!!

2015 is going to be an epic year! I already feel great about my training and my race agenda has me excited and optimistic. The first win of the year was getting into the Wasatch 100 via lottery for a third time. I so badly wanted to get in and to hear my name called was a true victory!

My race schedule is as follows;

- Antelope Canyon 20K : I ran this in February with my 12 year old son Cooper. Race report soon to follow.
- BoSho Marathon (April)
- Big Horn 50 (June) I am calling this "The Stand at BigHorn"
- El Vaquero Loco 50K (August)
- Wasatch 100 (September) "Round 3"

In addition to these races, I will have some great pacing/crewing duties. I will pace Jeff Stowell at Western States. I am most excited to crew my wife Sarah at the SpeedGoat 50K. This is an incredibly tough race and will be her first ultra.

Here is to a new amazing year of running in the mountains.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Concussions and BoSho

The last two weeks have been mildly turbulent in life and on the trail. For no good reason at all I have been in a foul mood. I am unable to muster much positivity and have had to really push myself to get up and get going.


I visited my chiropractor to get adjusted after the ski crash. After a detailed account she was sure that I was concussed. She mentioned that the pink substance that had drained from my nose was indeed spinal fluid. I have had no headaches but am consistent with other symptoms of a concussion. Mood swings, trouble sleeping, dizziness are all things that I have experienced more than usual in the last two weeks. I am not convinced that I have or had a concussion but it would explain a lot as to my training.


Last Saturday I decided to shoot for 15 BoSho miles. The shoreline is so great this time of year and offers a great variety of terrain. I started my run at Hogle Zoo heading North. I felt great for the first 5 miles. I was running a 7.5 mile out and back and really had to dig deep in the last 2.5 miles of the out. I stopped and walked a few times and while walking convinced myself that my heart is not in it yet. Maybe it wasn't.


A turn around on an out and back is always a great refreshment. As I turned around I started to find my stride again. Running strong down Dry Creek. I slugged through the mileage from Dry Creek to Red Butte. It was at Red Butte that I ran into Jeff Stowell and QB. Seeing them lifted my spirits and we were all able to finish strong. Jeff had some chocolate milks in his cooler that he shared. They chased all my blues away.


Tuesday night I played on Grandeur for a bit and had my first great spill of the season. I bloodied up my leg good!


Saturday was the BoSho Marathon. The BSM is a great bandit event in SLC. The ultra community all meets up for a run of 26.2. The entry fee is whatever you would like to contribute to the aid station. The aid station is placed at mile 9 and you also catch it at mile 21.


My plans for this years BSM were to see how it goes. My fitness is not where I want it and my head/heart are still in training as well. If I could get 18 miles minimum I would be happy.


I ran the first 6 miles with Matt Bennett, my boss from work. He is a strong athlete and ran a great race. I felt really good through the first four miles. I felt stronger in the climbs than I did on anything runnable. The climb up Dry Creek was good and I was even able to pass three people on the Unkle Effer climb. I ran walked down to the 8.5 mile mark. I got more and more light headed. I decided to lay down for a minute. I laid in the grass for about 5 minutes and felt much better. I made my way into the aid station with the plan of putting myself back together working in my mind.


While in the aid station I had a coke, cookie and three handfuls of potato chips. The nice aid station worker accidentally doused my pack with water while filling my pack. Everything was wet. I left feeling like I was going to have to dig deep for the next few hours. No matter what tactic I tried I could not get my head right. There was not a positive thought in there.


I ran well down into City Creek and began my climb up toward North Salt Lake. I love me some good switchbacks and felt pretty good in the climbs. As was the entire day the climbs were not my issue.


At the 12.5 mile mark I was met by an amazing lookout point. I decided to take advantage of it and sat down and enjoyed the view for a few moments. This is why I like to do all of this.


I stood back up and began to weigh my options. I had been shooting for a sub 7 hour finish. As I stood right now I was about right on pace for that calculating about a minute per mile fade. I knew what was ahead and I knew what was behind. The previous year I had run out of water at the top of the Meridian climb and had to limp back to the aid station that they were packing up. I had barely caught them in time to fill up my water.  Thinking of that I decided to turn around and head back. I had calculated that my total mileage on the day would be 20 ish miles.


I descended the switchbacks and made my way back down into City Creek. The climb out of City Creek was my best of the day. Some of the leaders were coming back through and I was able to hold serve with them in the climb. I recognize that they had 6 miles on me but I climbed it well.


I re-entered the aid station and had another Coke and a handful of chips. I realized that eating those chips was the first food I had eaten in almost an hour and a half. That was a huge mistake. I have to figure out my nutrition. Nothing sounded even remotely edible.


For the first time of the day the climb out of the aid station hurt. I fought my way all of the way back up to the main shoreline trail. I ran into QB and Kara and they saved my bacon. They made a Mark sandwich, Kara in front pacing, me in the middle and , QB pushing from the back. We ran to the top of Dry Creek. I thanked them for their help and let them go so they could bomb the descent of Dry Creek. I shuffled my way down hill. I have now been going for three hours on only a coke and some chips. As I climbed out of Dry Creek I saw QB and Kara only a few hundred yards ahead. They saw me and waited for me to join them. The three of us ran the last 1 mile to the finish line.


My day ended up being 20.5 miles in just over 6 hours. It was a long good day. I struggled mightily. It was a great wake up call on how far I need to go to get this done this year. I am more aware than ever that I need to get my race nutrition figured out. I will be experimenting a lot over the next few weeks.