Red Hot 55km 2011

The Moab Red Hot 55km proved to be an awesome experience with a deep field, and served as a fantastic way to kick off the race season. Annie and I rolled down there on Friday afternoon, grabbed some ‘salad bar dinner’ at City Market and retreated to our camp-site under the gathering darkness and impending rain/snow mix. We had borrowed two ‘super thick’ sleeping pads from friends which greatly elevated our comfort level throughout the night, and camping by the race start allowed us to be less than a 3-minute jog from the start-line. Throughout the night we were awakened numerous times by the sound of our rain-fly and tarp flapping in the high winds and when we finally awoke in the morning, it was to a gentle sprinkle of rain, strong winds, a temperamental stove, but a relaxed ‘frame-of-mind.’ Cold coffee was not ideal but surprisingly not ‘the-end-of-the-world,” and combined with some regular yogurt, granola, and a smidgen of fruit, provided a satisfying breakfast. We headed down to the start as the rain picked up a little more and I quickly found Tim Parr who had also camped at the start line with a few friends. We jogged together, talked about the weather, swapped out our race t-shirts, and awaited the start of the race.

Start. I’m in center looking for my wife!

As Chris yelled “GO!” we bolted off the line and I was slightly stunned to be in a race field again with so many people but soon settled into the comfortable pace up the first mile-long-ish climb. There was a small amount of friendly chatter between the front-runners and it was great to be in the peloton with Dakota Jones, Ryan Burch, Tim Parr, Dylan Bowman, and others. At the top of the climb and the beginning of a long downhill section, the pace ratcheted up quickly, and I was no longer a factor in this race. I just could not run as fast as those guys on the downhill. Not even close. My legs felt stiff and tight and ‘decidedly’ not free. I settled in and was shocked with so many guys ahead of me and numerous others coming by me as we made our way to mile 5 and 6. All I could do was run my own race and try not to have too much of a mental letdown from sitting in 15th or 16th place. Stunned indeed, but the main mission remained; to get in a long, hard effort.

The course winds its way up to a rim with some technical running where I felt very comfortable. Here I also noticed that I was running fast on the uphills… a good bit faster than the group of guys I was around, but they were even with me on the flats and faster than me on the downs. I did have the feeling that it could end up being a long day, but kept plowing ahead. My mind was doing okay and generally I was excited to be running in the desert again despite the heavy winds and light rain. I love running in this area and was happy to be doing it again. I kept plugging along until the mile 17 aid station (approximately 2:12 into the race for me) and I noticed I was beginning to feel a fair bit better. The course rolls along for another mile or two and at mile 20 it again begins to get technical and steep. At this point, climbing up to the top of another rim, I felt the switch flip on. My legs began to feel much more free and springy, my mind felt substantially more focused, and my lungs opened up to where my breathing became non-existent. I also stopped coughing at this point which was plaguing me every 5 minutes or so in the first half of the race. (Lifestyle cough from Nordic skiing).

Stud Dakota Jones Finishing in 1st with a 4:02!

Around this time too, I began to pick off several of the 55k guys ahead of me… they just kept coming back, which undoubtedly helped my brain. The group I had been running with was no longer breathing down my neck, numerous targets kept appearing, and we were also now merged with the 33km racers, who now also became targets. I was feeling very good at this point as the steep and technical terrain kept coming. My nutrition felt perfect (I consumed maybe 250 – 300 calories total during the race) and my electrolyte and hydration levels were solid. (Greatly aided by the cloud-cover, rain, and wind). I did not really know what place I was in, but I knew I had moved up substantially as I climbed past the last aid station and into the last 5 mile section of the race. I would be lying if I said I was feeling perfect, but, I kept the hammer down as I descended the last two miles or so to the finish line with a time of 4:32. (8:00 minute/mile pace exactly for the 34 mile race). My legs did tighten back up over the last two miles, but it did feel good to be moving quickly. Turns out I finished in 5th place behind a blazing Dakota Jones in 1st, Tim Parr in 2nd, Ryan Burch in 3rd, and a strong Dylan Bowman in 4th. There is no doubt these guys destroyed me (Dakota in 4:02, Parr in 4:06, Burch in 4:10, Bowman in 4:15) but I was pleased for the most part with the race and how decent I felt at the finish line. 

At the finish with buddy Ryan Burch. (3rd in 4:10)

The recovery started right away with a serving of First Endurance Ultragen, a bit of food and water, and a pleasant hour with the guys. I will fondly remember hanging out with Burch, Jones, Parr, Bowman and others at the finish line. We also were able to chat with Darcy Africa, Krissy Moehl, the legend Roch Horton, Erik Storheim, and Bryon Powell from iRunFar.com. Annie and I both stated as we pulled away that we are grateful to know such a tremendous group of people in this ultra-running community. Great job all. Looking forward to many more races this season. Feeling fit, fresh, and charged up for the spring time. Here’s to a great end of February and beginning of spring for all.

Live well. Train well. DC

Status Report. Pre-’Red Hot’ 50km

Hello world. Fortunate to be heading down to Moab this upcoming weekend for the Moab Red Hot 50km. The Red Hot was my first ever ultra event way back in February of 2007 and it is safe to say that the great experience from this race helped me continue on into the world of ultra-running with all of the great experiences since. Tremendously excited to be heading back for the third time after taking the past two winters off from this event. As far as race-ready fitness goes? Truthfully I am not sure where I stand, but the challenge of being on an ‘ultra’ start line again will be fantastic. Over the past three weeks I have been able to compete in a few cross-country ski races which has amped my mind up for competition. There is just something different about head-to-head competition which brings out a little more effort and passion in each of us. Other benefits of heading to Moab? Annie and I will get to spend the weekend together without distractions… always good. Also, I love the area surrounding Moab… a very inspiring place from which I always come back refreshed with a bit more perspective on life. Stoked for it. Race well. Live well. DC.

The rugged and ‘empty’ views allow my mind to open up a bit. The ‘vastness’ is astounding. 
There is a hint of ‘barrenness’ to the area surrounding Moab. 
The combination of ‘juniper-ish’ vegetation and red rock formations is staggering. 
Large Rock Formations are awe-inspiring. I feel fresh and awakened after being in this desert area.
Many fond memories of running and biking during spring break in Moab while in college. 
Stoked to get my feet dirty and dusty for the first time in several months. 

Ultra Trail Mount Fuji Video

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5RtVeFaMKQ]

I am greatly looking forward to heading to Japan this spring to compete in this gigantic ultra event which sold out in four hours. (That’s the rumor I hear anyway). This will serve as a tremendous opportunity to compete in my first international competition and I must pass along a very large ‘Thank you’ to Vasque for putting this trip together for me.

As I plug ahead into late winter and spring, my training will be focused on performing well in this event, The Ultra Trail Mount Fuji, and also at the Hardrock 100 in July. These two events will serve as the cornerstones of my summer race season. Currently, it is negative 30 degrees fahrenheit in Gunnison, and as such, I have elected to postone my run until the middle of the morning. Call me a wimp, its okay. Hope the training is going well for everyone. Keep at it. Live well. Keep it in perspective. DC

Update

It is official; I will be running the 2011 Hardrock 100. There is an absolutely loaded field racing this year and I look forward to being pushed, pulled, and challenged at high altitudes with some of the best in the sport. Hardrock will of course be the hardest race I have yet to compete in. Getting truly excited thinking about it. I will also be racing in the North Face 100 Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji in Japan in May. With these two 100 milers as the cornerstone of my season, the rest of the schedule is almost in place.

Training for the week of 1/31/11 – 2/6/11 was pretty solid. I topped out with my 2 longer runs at 16 miles of steady running. While picking up another snowy Signal Peak summit I noticed my strength has increased drastically since January 1. There is no doubt my fitness is growing with the miles, the strength training, and the ski racing. I managed to jump into the Alley Loop 42km Ski Marathon on my home course in Crested Butte this weekend and had a strong day. We had a long train skiing together for much of the race trying to catch the un-catchable Brian Smith of Gunnison and I forgot how much I love the feeling of being completely maxed out and still trying to put death moves on the other racers while attempting to respond to theirs’. The teams that I work with definitely posted stellar results in the various distances from the 1.5km to the 42km. Tremendous.

Launching into the rest of the winter. Here’s to chasing goals and learning to live well. Train well too. DC.

February 1, 2011

I am astonished that it is already February of 2011. Time moves quickly when you are having fun and working with the head down. The past couple of months have been tremendous. Throughout the fall Tim Parr and I scaled Signal Peak dozens of more times, each putting in 70-90 miles per week as we ran for the pure joy of it. I did not have any races on the calendar after September but I just kept running and the fall of 2010 was by far my best autumn of running to date. I felt positive, fit, healthy, and excited every day. As fall turned to winter and ski season began, the running reduced considerably (by plan) as I began to work more hours, travel more, and run 11 ski team practices per week. Obviously I am super fortunate to have a job that allows me to stay fit as I work. The Nordic season has been tremendous and the teams I work with have produced many tremendous results, inside-jokes, and moments of hilarity. There is a palpable energy amongst all these athletes. With this change in schedule, I had been running between 50 and 60 miles per week throughout December and early January. Combine that amount of running with numerous strength training sessions, ski sessions, and eating very well, and it is clear I have held my fitness well. The past 3 weeks have been ramped up for me in terms of running mileage as I am now hitting over 80 miles per week again and combined with the aforementioned skiing and strength training; I am fit. My weight is down, my diet is mostly clean, and my running feels efficient while the skiing feels powerful. Still getting annihilated by a few kids I coach (14-15 year olds), but, my confidence in my fitness is bursting right now. As I move on into the last 6 weeks of ski-race season, I intend to keep my mileage in the 80 – 90 mile per week range, while eating well, sleeping well, and moving forward into the spring. My race planning and scheduling for the 2011 running season is almost complete and I will provide a 2011 preview post at some point in the next two weeks. Until then, you can check out my proposed schedule in the right hand side-bar column of this blog. With that said, the hankering for dirt, warmth, and true single-track is strong. Very strong. Live well. Train well. DC

Buckskin Pass single-track on the world class ‘Tour of the Bells Loop’ between Crested Butte, CO and Aspen, CO. Parr, Drum and I ran this 30 miler last year. It is on the schedule for 2011. This area is rugged, remote, and provides fantastic scenery and trails. Do it.

Parr and I ran the Anthracite Loop two summers ago, on Drum’s wedding day. Here is another view that runs through my mind daily as I pound pavement or slip and slide through the snow right now. I ache for that hazy summer view of the mountains. Dirt single-track will feel so good. Feel it? I do.

A distorted view of a basin by ‘The Castles’ above Gunnison, CO and up the Ohio Creek Valley. This is another must do run. Perfect Single-Track in places with good vertical. All runnable. These mountains are inspiring. This pic was from another run that Parr and I did together. Parr and I have run a lot of miles.

A view of Mt Massive in the summertime. Leadville is deep-rooted in my personal running history. I love it there. A significant chance I’ll be heading back there this year. Not definite yet, but, I cannot imagine a running season without doing Leadville. Call me ‘stuck in my ways’, but, I love Leadville.

‘Gunsight Pass’ above Crested Butte. This is a fairly gradual jeep/dirt road which can be used to get high pretty fast. Parr and I ran this at the start of many runs a few times last summer. Nothing like climbing higher on a beautiful day. Inspiring. We’ll be hitting this up numerous times in 2011.

Hope Pass is a great run. Single track is wonderful. Nothing like getting over 12,000′. Mt. Hope is up a ridge from the pass itself and is on my ‘must-do’ list for 2011. No doubt I’ll drag Parr with me. Actually, he will likely be the one dragging me.

I find myself longing for the heat. Shirt off, thirsty, dusty. Of course, by the end of summer, I find myself longing for the cold of winter. This shot is taken from mile 74 at the Leadville 100 in 2009. It was hot. Heat is one of my greatest struggles and challenges as a runner, and precisely the reason why I want to get better at it. Here’s to day-dreaming about the heat. How many others will be at Leadville? I know many elites will be in Europe. Tim Parr is looking for another Leadville victory.