Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Big to Small" 3 peaks in a day.

"Big to small" (Mt. Olympus, Grandeur Peak, Mt. Wire) with Matt Van Horn

About a year ago Matt and I talked about doing this climb/hike/run which would give us 3 summits and about 10,500 feet of elevation gain. We thought it was a really cool idea, but it took us a year to get to it. We decided to do Oly first because it is the most difficult and we could get it done while we were still fresh. That was a great idea.

We parked our car about .5 from the trailhead in a neighborhood and we did that at every peak. After our trailhead break-in last week we were both a bit paranoid about leaving the vehicles at the trailheads. I think we ended up starting around 6:30. It was very cold, but we knew that once we got moving it wouldn't be bad, but I was worried that it was going to be bitter on the summit. Once we reached the trailhead we both felt great and within the first mile we stopped so Matt could shed some clothes. We hiked most of the way up because Oly is steep, but we did run where we could. There was snow/ice on the trail for the last 2500 feet, so I put my micro-spikes on and they seemed to help a lot.

From the saddle you have a nice rock scramble through a steep chute that leads you up to the summit block and we were expecting a lot of snow and ice, but surprisingly there wasn't much and it was nice because we moved up it quickly. There was some snow/ice to deal with just below the summit which required us to take it a little slower, but we did manage to reach the summit in under 2:00 which surprised both of us because we didn't feel like we were pushing it at all. Matt beat me up by about 4 minutes. After a few minutes on top we both put in our headphones so we could blast down and when we entered the chute I was surprised to see a huge sheep dog running fast on the rocks. After another look I realized it was a large mountain goat and there were 5-6 others within 20 yards. Awesome! We stopped to watch them and it was pretty amazing to see them maneuver around on the rocks with precision so quickly. I lingered for about 5 minutes and then we took a few photos and then cruised down.
The descent was tricky. There is a lot of snow and ice on some steep technical trail and you have to take it slow. I slipped several times, but luckily didn't fall. With about a mile to go Matt pushed ahead and I stopped to take a gel and remove my spikes. The run down was fun and I was feeling great. Matt beat me back and met me on the road so that we could go get #2.

After a break to get some food we parked in the neighborhood next to the Grandeur trailhead and I changed some clothes and put on some different shoes. It was nice getting warm in the car and I really didn't want to get out, but we finally got moving up the trail to get our second peak of the day. The climb up Grandeur was slow. We both felt good, but we both lacked a little steam and it showed in our ascent time of 1:30. There was some annoying snow below the summit that we had to navigate, but for the most part the trail was in pretty good shape. On top I took a gel and we took in the views for a few minutes and then I convinced Matt to run the switchbacks instead of bombing it straight down on the east side. We had decided to do the longer loop into Church Fork which would add about 7 extra miles, but we wanted the miles and to make it more challenging.

The run down to Church Fork was much more difficult than I had anticipated. I left my spikes in the car and that was a mistake. It was very icy and snow covered almost all the way to the Pipeline trail. I slipped a few times and even went down twice, nothing serious, but enough to make me go much slower than I would have liked. On the plus side it was absolutely beautiful and I was thankful to be there enjoying the trails. Matt was waiting for me at the Pipeline where we picked up a decent running pace considering our legs were now pretty tired. The sun was out and it was actually quite warm and we could see the dirty dark cloud hovering in the valley below and it was nice being above it. At Rattlesnale Gulch we went down and again I was expecting more snow here, but it was pretty clear. Matt got ahead of me and on one switchback I turned the corner and was shocked to see him wearing only one glove. Haha! The Millcreek Flasher?? So funny.

We had a nice pace running out of the canyon and I was happy I could run a 7:30 pace 16 miles in with all of that vert on our legs and still feel great. The only negative was when we hit the inversion as we entered back into the valley. It was noticeably a lot colder and the air wasn't as fresh. We kept up a solid pace all the way to Foothill, but when we hit the hills my legs were definitely protesting. We slogged back to the cars and quickly made our way to Wire. We parked about .4 from the trailhead and both of us were feeling pretty tired, but excited to bag #3.
The slog up Wire was actually quite fun even though I felt kind of crappy. Matt was joking all the way up and we chatted and laughed. About half way up I really started feeling bonky and I realized I had not been keeping up with my energy or salt like I should have been so I downed a Gu and an S-Cap and after about 20 minutes I felt much better. One guy passed us going up and looked very pleased with himself. Little did he know that we were 20 miles in with about 8K+ of elevation on our legs. We were both ok watching him move up ahead. At the last saddle Matt moved ahead of me and actually started running near the top and he kept the run all the way across the ridge to the summit. Awesome! My legs were totally wrecked at that point and it was inspiring to see. I picked up my pace, but only slightly. I joined Matt at the summit where we celebrated a little and enjoyed the views of our third summit of the day.

The run down was tough. My legs and hips were sore and I was so ready to be done. I was slow, but ran just about the whole way down. Matt got ahead of me again and I finally joined him at the trailhead where we ran back to the cars together. We did it. Almost 23 miles and just under 11K vert for the day. 3 summits, a lot of laughs and an incredible time outdoors on the trails.
Now we will have to think about Matt's aspirations to bag Oly, Twins and Lone Peak in a day.

November 2011 training

I really dialed down my miles in November for a few reasons. First, I hurt my back while lifting weights and it took me 2-3 weeks for that to calm down and I also wanted to rest my legs and get fully recovered from the big runs in September and October. I did continue to run and climb peaks weekly, but didn't do anything major all month. The run that I enjoyed the most was probably a run to the summit of Lake Mountain with Davy Crockett, Seth Wold, Dan Varga and Matt Van Horn. What a group! Some running legends and some very fast marathon runners.

Lake Mountain report. November 23, 2011:

We had a really fun morning on Lake Mountain. It was cold at the start (6:00 am) but we warmed up fast. We had a really good time just chatting away for the first mile and then Dan and Matt pushed the pace a bit and opened up a lead. After a while Dan ran back down to us and then stayed with us the rest of the way up.

The road is snow covered for the last two miles, but there was a nice track all the way to the saddle. From there we had to slog up a few inches up to the summit. matt tagged the summit first with the rest of us a few minutes behind. We got up there just in time to see one of the best sunrises of the year so far. Dan and Crockett went down via the ridge trail and Seth and I went to find Matt and we saw him climbing the peak to the west (the high point). Matt is a peak bagger at heart. I love it.

The run down was a lot of fun. I didn't want to go too fast because my hammies were a bit tight, so I took it easy until Seth and Matt caught up and then we all ran together. We caught Crockett and Dan just before the car and we all ran back together. It was the perfect way to start my morning.

Pony Express 50 pacing.

October 21st, 2011:

Matt Van Horn and I have been climbing mountains together for almost 5 years. In 2009 we started trying to do a peak per week together before work and we both motivated each other and made it happen. In 2010 we kept this up and climbed multiple peaks together. I really ramped up my running and training and by the end of the year he started to join me on some of my runs as well. In 2011 we have run or climbed together 1-2 times per week and we did several long adventure runs as well. I was really excited when he decided to put in for his first 50 mile race and told him that I would be out there to help in any way that I could. We decided that I would help him crew for half of the race and then pace him the second half.

Pacing/crewing MatthewVH at the Pony Express 50. I had an incredible time pacing Matt on his first ultra marathon. I got to the start about 40 minutes early and had a fun time chatting with Matt, Matt Williams, Jim Kern, Scott and Kelli Stephensen, Josh Greenwell, Steve Heath, Seth Wold and others. I would be crewing for at least the first 15 miles with Matt's dad and then pacing for the last half of the race. Matt and Seth went out fast and when we drove by at the 2 mile point they already had a pretty good lead on everyone else. I was worried that he was going out too fast and after a brief talk from the car he seemed to be feeling good, but I was still a little concerned.

The next 20 miles were a lot of fun. I brought Matt's dad up to speed on what he would need and where everything was and how he would probably want it. We would meet Matt about every 4 miles and make sure he had everything that he needed. Not only was Matt running strong and smooth, but we got into a good routine so he didn't have to slow down much while we gave him hydration and fuel. I thought about jumping out to run at Simpson Springs, but Matt was still looking strong and I didn't want to break his rhythm and there would be plenty of miles left to help pace. Britta Hanel was starting to catch up and was probably only about 1/4 of a mile back when we approached Simpson, but Matt ran the hill strong and put a little more distance on her. We wouldn't see her again for almost 30 more miles. Things were going so well that I started to think that maybe I would just help crew, but I knew that the long straight stretch would be a grind, so I wanted to help take Matt's mind off of it because I thought he would probably start to get fatigued, so I decided to get out to run at mile 21.

After a few miles I could tell he was slowing a bit, but he still looked pretty good and was in second place without anyone even close to threatening at that point. He hit the marathon in 3:42 and was still feeling and looking strong. We passed Smooth and I chatted with her for a few minutes. She looked great and was all smiles. The approach to Dugway Pass starts to get steep and it was here that we noticed a guy in an orange shirt moving well about 1/4 of a mile back. We started to limit our time at our aid stops and we pushed it pretty hard up the hills. Both of us put on our ipods to see if that would help. We held him off for about 4-5 miles, but on the steepest section climbing to the pass he was only about 100 yards back. I ran ahead to the crew car to get Matt some water and a bagel so he wouldn't have to stop. We did make pretty good time on the climb, but the orange shirt guy kept coming. At the top of the pass Matt let out a primal scream and I told him we needed to bomb it down the other side. His dad was there with some Coke and after a quick drink we started running down. I tried to push the pace, but I could tell he was getting fatigued and for good reason, he was almost 40 miles in and had been pushing it pretty hard the whole time. I tried to tell Matt not to worry about the other runners. I could tell it was bothering him when he got passed, which is good, but at the same time I didn't want it to demoralize him. He was running an incredible race.

Orange shirt guy finally passed us about a half mile down on the other side of the pass. He was a really nice guy that eventually finished in 2nd place and he looked strong. We grinded out a few more miles and I was surprised to see Davy just ahead. I figured he was either having an off day or that he had to deal with some race issues. We finally passed him about mile 42 while he took a rest stop and within a half mile I could see Britta moving in on us again. She was looking strong and fresh and passed us running about an 8:00 min mile pace. We were both shocked at how good she looked. Matt's wife and kids showed up and I think it was a real boost for him. I think they came at the perfect time because I noticed an extra bounce in his step and his energy seemed to be picked up as well.

The last 5 miles were very hard. My legs/hips/IT bands had become very fatigued and my energy was also down. I realized that I had not been paying enough attention to my own energy, so I tried to cram in as much food and salt as I could, but I was losing my appetite. The usual jokes weren't as funny as they normally are and it was just plain tough. Matt continued to grind away and never complained about anything. The .75 out and back at the finish it the worst part of the whole race. About half way down I stopped to pee and Matt got out in front and there was no way I was going to catch him, so I didn't go all the way to the turnaround spot and I was ok with that. Running in the last half mile was actually fun. We were joking and laughing and the last .2 Matt picked it up a lot and ran hard and fast into the finish. I wouldn't have expected anything less. His time was 8:30 and he took 4th place, pretty incredible for his first ultra. His wife, kids and dad were there to greet him and it was amazing to see. I am just glad that I was able to experience a part of it with him. I'll never forget the experience.

October training

October 2011 was not a normal training month for me. After running the St. George marathon on the first day of the month my legs were pretty wrecked because I had not yet fully recovered from Wasatch 100 and the marathon just killed them. I took it pretty easy the next few weeks and just did some easy maintenance runs. I did do a really fun run on the 15th with Craig, Matt W. and Matt V. to the summit of Grandeur and then down Church Fork to the Pipeline trail, out the canyon and then back to the trailhead. This has become one of my favorite training runs and I do it about once per month. Here is the report:

I met the guys at 7:00 am at the west ridge trailhead. Well, I met Craig and Matt W, but Matt Van Schitzel (Van Horn) was nowhere to be found. His car was there so we speculated about where he was and after about 10 minutes we decided to start and he came running down the trail. Dealing with a case of insomnia he decided to get up early and do a lap to the summit and then meet us for round two. Awesome.

It was pretty windy to start and after about 10 minutes it was calm and warm as we made our way up the ridge. Craig went out a little faster and I spent most of the time on the way up with Williams with MattV not far behind. We reached the summit in 1:11 and took a break to snap some pics and I had a gel. Craig had to go back down because of time constraints, but we continued on down the Church Fork trail to the Pipeline. The fall colors are at a peak right now and the trail was absolutely unreal. Stunning views in every direction. We ran the Pipeline at a pretty casual pace and at Rattlesnake Gulch Matt and I decided to go down to the canyon road instead of up and over the saddle following the Grandeur Fun Run trail. MattVS looked a little disappointed that we weren't going up. Come on Matt, you already had almost 7K in elevation gain on the day. He is definitely a vert whore (one of the reasons I love the guy).
The run down Rattlesnake was fast and fun, but unfortunately we didn't see the Millcreek flasher to the dismay of everyone. We ran down the canyon road and then back to our car at a pretty decent pace. It was an incredible morning.

St. George marathon

St. George marathon. October 1st, 2011:

Signing up for this marathon 3 weeks after the Wasatch 100 was probably not the smartest thing I have ever done, but I was really excited to go down to St. George to run this race. I love the atmosphere and it is always fun to see and chat with other runners. I stayed with my friends Rob Bladen and Cody Haycock the night before at Cody's condo and I didn't get much sleep. We were up at 4:20 and out the door at 5:00. Rob had a hook up with a friend that is a volunteer and he gave us a ride up to the start. It was nice not to have to go wait for the bus. We got there 45 min before the start and we looked for the shortest POP line we could find which was pretty far from the start. By time we got out the gun went off. We hoped to be as close to the start as we could, but we ended up being 6 minutes behind the gun in a huge crowd that was not moving fast.

The first few miles were frustrating because we were stuck in the massive crowd that was not moving fast. This cost us at least a few minutes of time trying to move around and we actually ran a lot of the first two miles off the road in the dirt trying to get through. We passed Smooth and Toby and said hello at some point in there. :) After a few miles it thinned out just enough that we were finally able to pass much easier and we spent the next few miles at about a 7:15 pace passing several runners. We were laughing and joking the whole time and having a lot of fun. I decided to carry my handheld water bottle, so that I could stay hydrated and I am glad I had it. I also noticed an annoying stitch in my side that would dog me for at least 10 more miles.
At mile 5 I took a gel and the temps still seemed really good to me and we kept up the 7:00-7:20 pace to Veyo. So far I was feeling really good, but going up the hill Cody asked me for an S-Cap, so I got one for all three of us and then while I was putting them back into the pocket on my bottle the guys put a small distance on me. I tried to catch them going up the hill, but they picked up their pace and I wasn't able to keep up. At the top of the hill I picked up my pace to try and keep up but I never saw them again. I turned on my ipod and ran alone the rest of the way.

At about mile 10 I noticed that my legs were very fatigued. Not only were they tired, but they hurt a lot. This is not normal for me 10 miles into a run and I knew it was going to be a total grind the rest of the way. I had been hoping to run a 3:30, but I started to think that maybe it wouldn't happen for me. I made up my mind that I was going to run as hard as I could no matter what and see what happened.

I loved having my handheld bottle. It allowed me to run through every aid station and I never stopped to walk once the whole race. I would just take off the lid and then grab 2-3 cups of water to dump in at each aid station. Sometimes it was frustrating because the small cups would only be about 1/3 full, but usually I could get what I needed without slowing down too much. Last year I wasted so much time walking through the aid stations to drink. I also think it helped me to be better hydrated, although my stomach was sloshing quite a bit and it was annoying.
From about mile 15 on my legs hurt really bad. They have never ached like that during a run before. I kept noticing my pace getting worse and each time I really had to push to keep it down. It was tough. The worst part is by mile 18 after most of the hills my legs were so wrecked that I couldn't push the downhills at all. I don't think this marathon is easy at all.

When we finally started to make our way out of the canyon I was relieved that this was almost over, but at the same time I was dreading the last 3-4 miles. Luckily the heat never bothered me the whole race. I have been running in much hotter temps all summer so I never felt like it was bad. I knew my 3:30 wasn't possible, but I still wanted to give it everything I had and I am happy with the way I finished. I kept a solid pace in the 8's the last 3 miles. I didn't enjoy anything about the last 3 and I think they are as tough as any miles I have ever run. I wanted the race to be over. I just wanted to be done and I kept thinking I am never doing this race again. Ever.

When I finally made the last turn and saw the finish I was a little demoralized because it looked so much farther than I had remembered it from last year. I did pick up my pace and just grinded to the finish. When I stopped the pain in my legs was severe. I somehow made it over to the grass where I crashed behind two girls and rolled around in pain for about 10 minutes. Then I heard someone say "Hey Kelli, how did you do?" and I looked up to see I had been lying right behind Kelli Stephenson and another blogger (can't remember her name). Kelli was so nice and went and got me two Diet Coke's and offered to go get me whatever I wanted. What a life saver!!! Thanks Kelli! Not only were my legs really hurting, but now my stomach was feeling sick and the Coke really helped to settle it. I could not have walked over there myself. After about 30 minutes I could finally stand, but it really hurt. My legs didn't even hurt this much after Wasatch 100.

I did PR by 10 minutes, but I can't say that I am happy with that at all. I know I can run faster and that is frustrating, but I can't blame anyone but myself for the lack of marathon training that I have done this year. I did have a great time though and got to see a lot of bloggers. Congrats to everyone for finishing. Congrats to Rad who was sicker than a dog and still gutted out a finish. I really am not sure if I like the SGM. I'll have to think about it for a while.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wasatch 100 mile endurance run

Sep 9th and 10th, 2011:

The Wasatch 100 has been a goal of mine for a long time. Even before I started running I had a few friends that had run it and I always thought one day I would like to be in good enough shape to do it. After having a very good running year in 2010 and making a lot of progress I felt like I was getting closer to my goal, although I knew I wasn't ready yet. I decided to put in for Wasatch and if I got in I would train as hard as I could to get ready by race day in September. When they announced the results of the lottery in February I was both excited and extremely worried. Having previously done several long adventure days in the mountains I knew that Wasatch would be a killer and I wasn't ready, but I would do everything possible to get there by race day.
I put a training plan in place and over the next 7 months I did just about everything I wanted to do. I increased my weekly mileage by 15-20 miles and more importantly increased the difficulty of the miles I was running. I tried to do a minimum of 5k feet of weekly elevation gain and do as much mountain running as I could fit into my schedule. Tough mountain miles, more miles and a monthly 30+ mile run. I did have an achilles injury that slowed me down a lot in June, but I was able to keep running and for the most part get over it. I also wanted to run as much of the course as possible before race day and I was able to run over 60 miles of the course. This was great training for me, but it also scared the hell out of me because I started to see just how tough this course is.

The night before the race I was a nervous wreck. Even though I had trained hard I knew this race would be a killer and I just didn't know how my body would perform. I had never run over 50 miles before and the elevation gain/loss in this race is more than double anything I had ever done in a day. I was worried and my friends could tell. Matt Williams invited several guys that were either running or pacing over for a pre-race BBQ and then Davy Crockett and I would be staying there because he lives only a few miles from the start. It was really fun hanging out and chatting with everyone and hearing war stories and talking about the course, but I was really nervous. I only got about 2 hours of sleep and at 3:30 am I woke up and started getting ready.

Matt drove us to the start where we met Aaron Kennard, Matt Van Horn, Steve Young and his pacer. The weather was perfect. We chatted and took a few pictures and after nervously waiting for about 25 minutes the countdown started and we were off. I was wearing my hydration vest and carried 5 gels and 55 ounces of water. The first mile was really crowded although you could pass it was tough. I did move ahead of quite a few slower runners and I was feeling pretty good except for a small stitch in my side. The trail becomes a single track and this made it more difficult to pass. I was getting stuck behind big groups that were content to run at a slow pace. Eventually I was able to get ahead of a lot of the slower runners and settled in with a good group about my speed around mile 3. We seemed to stay together for the next several miles as we climbed up the steep trail to the Chinscraper summit. I spent the next hour or so mentally preparing myself for what was to come as I steadily grinded my way up the mountain. The group I was with didn't talk much and at about mile 7 I finally turned on my ipod. The higher we got the more the wind was blowing and I was worried that it would be bad up on the ridge tops.
When we passed Cool Springs a few from our group stopped to fill their bottles, but I still had plenty of water so I kept going. I was feeling really good and the climb up to the top of the Chinscraper was a lot of fun. I reached the top with about 4-5 other runners. The views are impressive, but I didn't take much time to enjoy them and got into a nice steady running pace across the mountain slope. I was now running with a guy from Pasadena California and we chatted for the next few miles until the trail crested the ridge again where we got blasted with the wind. For the next few miles you run along and around the ridge top and the wind pounded us pretty good. I was really hoping that it wouldn't be like this all day or it would have been miserable. I also noticed some dark clouds moving in from the west and thought it could be a sign of thunderstorms later in the afternoon and it made me nervous.

At around mile 12 I was surprised to pass Crockett. He was just off the trail and making some kind of gear adjustment. I said Hi and kept going. He passed me around Grobbens Corner where I stopped to fill up my water and then we ran near each other for the next mile as we passed Francis Peak and then ran the road down to the Francis Peak aid station at mile 18.7. I really opened it up running down the road and my pace was in the 7's for about 3 miles and it felt good to push things a little. I arrived at the aid station feeling good, but I wanted to make sure I was hydrated and had plenty of energy. I also had several things I needed to take care of. I drank a Cytomax that I had in my drop bag, put on sunscreen and my sunglasses, wiped off my face and ate some salted potatoes, a few fig newtons, some fritos and then took a bunch of grapes that I could eat as I walked. It wasn't a quick stop, but I wanted to stay energized. One of the volunteers filled up my hydration pack for me and I was a little worried about it getting sealed up, but I forgot to check it and it ended up leaking and took me a few minutes to stop and fix it about a mile down the trail.

I walked for a few minutes while I finished the grapes and then I slowly got back into a running pace. My stomach was now a bit upset because I had eaten a lot and I wasn't in a good groove at all. I grinded away for the next few miles running alone. I never did feel great, so I didn't try to push things. I came to the place where Matt Rick, Matt V. and I had been lost about a month ago and I knew right where to go this time, although there were nice flags to follow unlike the day we were there. I crossed the river and from here the trail climbs about a thousand feet up to the Bountiful B aid station. I started getting hot and the trail was atrocious. It was very overgrown and it seemed muggy and I started to feel sick. I was hot and sweating a lot and lost my mojo. I just tried to keep going and was hopeful that I would get my energy back. I immediately took an S-Cap and a gel and tried to drink as much water as I could. I think about 7-8 runners passed me here and it was really demoralizing. It was the first time the thought that I might not finish entered my head. I quickly sent it away and just tried to grind.

I have never been so happy to see an aid station as I was to see the Bountiful B. I got a slight boost of energy and as I got closer and I could see my good friend Matt Van Horn waiting for me and giving me some encouragement. It was great to see him and it instantly lifted my spirits. He grabbed me some salty potatoes and a Gu brew and after a few minutes of chatting he wished me luck and I was back on the trail. That really helped me a lot and my mood was looking up. About 10 seconds out of the aid station I just about threw up and it took me a minute or two to keep it down while I walked up the trail. I met a guy from Alaska who was also doing his first 100 and we chatted and ran together for about the next 30 minutes. There was a construction project on the dirt road that we were running and there were 4-5 construction trucks that passed us kicking up a lot of dust. There were a few other runners that we passed and talked with and I started feeling much better and got into a pretty good running pace again.

I ran into the Sessions Lift off aid station (mile 28.2) and a volunteer asked if she could fill my water up and I was apprehensive about this the rest of the race, but I just made sure to check it every time. I gave her my pack and then grabbed a PB&J and some more potatoes. A friend of mine Jeremy S. came into the aid station and we chatted for a few minutes and then decided to get going together. Going out of the aid is a pretty tough climb and we tried to keep a decent pace up the hill while we talked. After about 15 minutes he found another gear and pushed it ahead and I was again by myself for a while. He went on to finish in just over 27 hours. Amazing! It is about 6 miles to the next aid station. The trails were steep and tough, but some of the most incredible I have ever been on. Running on the back side of Grandview Peak was incredible. I ran with another group of 3-4 guys for a few miles and it was definitely better than running alone. It started to get really hot and I just tried to focus on drinking and taking salt and making sure I was on top of taking gels. The next 3-4 miles were really hot and draining.

The Swallow Rocks aid station was definitely a sight for sore eyes. I was a bit dehydrated and I ended up taking quite a lot of time there eating and drinking and making sure I was energized. I ate a lot and drank 3-4 cups of Gu brew. I was feeling much better and I took a root beer popsicle as I walked out of the aid station. It tasted amazing. I quickly found my running groove again and the next several miles I kicked it into gear. I found a really good pace and I was even running the hills. I passed several people and my mood really imporoved and I noticed a smile back on my face. I was also getting excited because the next aid stop I would get to see my crew and get to have a pacer the rest of the way.

As I descended into the Big Mountain aid (mile 39) I noticed that my toe nails were starting to get slightly sore. I was a little worried about it and decided to change my shoes at Big Mountin. About a half mile away I could hear the cowbell and I really got excited. When I finally came around the bend and could see the aid station below I was extremely happy. I ran into the aid and the crowd was cheering and I saw Matt Ricks and gave him a five. I was rushed to a scale and my pack was taken off and my crew (my wife, friend Kerri Wintle, my friend Greg and his wife Amy Nicholsen) started to hover around me and ask me questions. I hadn't lost a pound which was great news. My crew got me over to a chair and started to go to work. It was a bit confusing, but eventually they got me some food and more Cytomax and then my crew chief Greg gave me an incredible leg massage. It was great to see my wife there and she gave me some encouragement. After fixing me up I gave my wife a kiss and thanked te crew and then it was back to the trail. My pacer, Kerri was shivering and cold and I thought it was a great sign. When I was up here to run this section a month ago it was hot and I knew that we were getting lucky with the weather. Kerri is a good friend of my wife. She is a very fast marathon runner and I was excited to have someone with me. We started off hiking up the semi-steep grade and I was feeling really good. My spirits were high and I wasn't hurting anywhere.

Kerri and I had a great time. We laughed and joked and chatted and the miles just started clicking by. When we reached the summit of Bald Mountain we stopped to snap a few pics. From here the trail gets really rocky as you run down the ridge. We passed a few runners and had a very good pace going, although we took it easy on the steep descents. We met a guy from Boston that we chatted with for a few minutes and in what seemed like no time we were coming into the Alexander Ridge aid station. They were having a beach party there and it was a fun atmosphere. I ate a PBJ sandwich, more potatoes, some chips and a brownie. I was feeling really good. We laughed and joked with the volunteers and then headed out on the grassy Rogers trail. The trail slowly climbs for a few miles and we would run wherever it wasn't too steep and then hike the steeper sections. Again the miles flew by while Kerri and I chatted and joked and laughed. I was feeling very strong and fresh.

We had passed a few runners on our way up to the junction and so far nobody had passed us at all while we had moved by quite a few runners. We were now alone and we would be all the way into Lambs Canyon. For a few minutes we thought we were off the trail, but eventually we saw some flagging and knew we were where we needed to be. After a small bushwhack we were out on the trail up to the Lambs aid (mile 53) and we ran strong up the hill and got some good cheers from the crowd. My next pacer, Craig Lloyd was there to meet me and he took off my pack and hustled me over to the weigh in where I came in exactly the same as Big Mt.

My crew went to work grabbing me food and drinks and helping me change my shoes into the Hokas. It would be dark soon, so I got a headlamp and a long sleeve shirt and after a few minutes Craig and I were checking me out of the station and heading up Lambs Canyon. I was feeling really good and we had a good fast hiking pace up the hill with an occasional run when it wasn't too steep. We passed a few runners and set our sights on another group just ahead. I was feeling very good to have Craig pacing me all the way to the finish. Not only had he run every step of the last 47, but I trust his judgment more than anyone, so I new I was in good hands. We passed the next group at the Lambs trail and then climbing up the 1500 feet to Bear Bottom Pass we passed several more runners. I was feeling strong and we were having a great time. At the pass we settled into a run all the way down to Millcreek Canyon where we passed a few more groups of runners.

The climb up the Millcreek Canyon road was actually a lot of fun. Many runners talk about how they hate this section, but Craig and I were laughing and joking most of the way up. It was definitely getting colder and Craig would remind me to take a gel and an S-Cap and he seemed to always be on top of when I had my last one and when I needed to take them. Our crew passed us about 10 minutes before Upper Big Water (they had been eating Italian food down in the valley) and I was excited to see them again.

At Upper Big Water my crew sat me in a chair, put a blanket on me and started feeding me sandwiches and chicken soup. I was still feeling really good and strong and nothing was hurting at all, so I only had to focus on eating and staying hydrated. I got to talk to Dusty Haycock who is a friend and as finished Wasatch a few times. He gave me some advice and after a few minutes Craig was ready to get moving. I put on an extra long sleeve shirt and some gloves and we headed up the Upper Big Water trail to Dog Lake. Craig and I were still having a great time telling stories and laughing. It was definitely getting colder, but once we got moving it didn't feel bad at all.

We made it to Dog Lake and it was just amazing to see in the middle of the night. The descent to the trail junction was painful on my toes and I knew that at some point I was going to have to take care of them, but the next few miles would be up hill or flat so it wouldn't be a worry. The climb up to Desolation Lake was memorable. It was tough and I was getting tired, but I had Craig tell me as many inappropriate stories as he could and he obliged me with some pretty good ones. It really helped to make the time go by and soon we were making our way into the Desolation aid station (66.9) where there were several runners that were looking terrible, including the runner from Boston that Kerri and I had met earlier below Bald Mt. Craig and I were joking and laughing with the aid station volunteers and I ate some soup and Craig fed me a PBJ because my hands were full to the delight of the station workers. Everyone laughed about that. The guy from Boston left and the aid station volunteers asked us to keep our eye on him because he wasn't doing well. We didn't want to stay there long, so we were right behind him. Craig had given me strict instructions that I couldn't sit by the fire and that I shouldn't get near it. The rest of the way he would give me instructions before every aid station, telling me what I could or couldn't do and how long we could stay etc. I really appreciated this.

On the climb up to the crest we passed a few more runners including the guy from Boston and when we topped out on the Crest trail there were a few runners there with us that we quickly passed as well. I'm not sure what happened but all of the sudden I was feeling really good and strong and I just started running at a pretty decent pace. For the next few miles we passed more runners and most of them were hiking the rolling hills, while Craig and I were running them. I was feeling so good and had one of those runners high moments. With the moon and stars out and just being there in that moment was awesome. We ran into the Scott Hill aid station (70.7) and I was feeling pretty good. I sat down on a chair and they brought me some chicken soup while Craig took care of getting me some gels and filling up my water. I think I sat there too long because I got very cold and I kind of lost my mojo.

The descent down to Brighton was just tough. It is downhill the whole way and with each step my toe nails would hurt more and more. I tried to run but the pain was pretty sharp, so I stuck with a fast hike, well, I'm not sure how fast we were really going, but for being 70+ miles in it seemed fast. The 5 mile descent was tough and I was really happy to limp into the Brighton lodge so my crew could give me some TLC. I have to admit I was pretty out of it. I was just getting exhausted. I weighed in 4 lbs heavier than Lambs which seemed odd. My crew got me a hot sandwich, a hashbrown, half a grilled cheese and some Gu brew. I decided to change my socks and also get into my tights because it was really getting cold out there. I also had them get my trekking poles to help me on the descents because of my toes. Amy was so sweet and took care of my feet, putting some mole-skin on my toes. I also got to chat with Matt Ricks and Bryce for a few minutes. It was good seeing them. We took a long stop and it definitely helped a lot, but it was very hard to get out that door into the cold knowing I had to go 25 more miles.

We were moving slow up to the pass and several runners passed me. It was a little demoralizing, but Craig stayed very positive the whole time and that helped a lot. I was starting to drag and I really slowed down. The downhills were even worse because of my toes and the descent into the Ant Knolls aid station (80.2) was hell on my feet. I was slow. We got to the aid and Craig told me not to sit by the fire. I had a breakfast of sausage, hashbrowns and Coke. Yeah! I was pretty tired, but Craig got me moving again and the steep hill climb out of the aid station might be the steepest climb on the course. It is tough and it was definitely a grind. We could hear the bugle from the aid every few minutes and it made us laugh. At the top of the climb the sun started to come up. Wow! The views in every direction were pretty darn good. Even though I was feeling pretty hammered I still tried to enjoy the occasional view.

The 3 miles to Pole Line Pass were a grind and I was happy to get there. Craig got me more breakfast (pancake, eggs and Coke) and I actually fell asleep while eating, so he got me up and moving again. I fell asleep with the plate of breakfast in one hand and the Coke in the other without spilling anything. The next aid was Rock Springs (mile 87) which was 4 miles away. The scenery on this section is unreal and Craig would point out a peak or a lake and I would take a few seconds to look and think wow this is incredible up here. I would love to be up there when I was feeling fresh without hurting toes. I wasn't enjoying it as much as I normally would be. I was still able to run some, but not anything downhill. The flats and uphill were ok, but anything that went down would really hurt my toes and I tried not to complain too much about it, but it was definitely bothering me.

There were a few really tough hills to cover and eventually Rock Springs came into view and I was relieved. We stopped to eat and get more water as it was really heating up now that the sun was up. I had been dreading the next section for the last few hours because I knew that it was going to be a killer. A lot of runners complain about the "Dive" and the "Plunge" which are really steep loose sections and I knew that it would be pretty bad with my toes and I was right. The descents were painful, but the worst part is I was really slow and that was irritating as we started getting passed by more runners. I started to think that I was going to come into last place at the rate I was going and I tried to pick it up where I could, but it was tough.

The next few miles were hard. I was feeling wrecked and I just wanted the race to be over. I didn't say much and just grinded away step after step and tried to stay positive. I just wanted to get to the Pot Bottom aid station because I figured I had it in the bag if I could get there and it was such a relief to see it. I just wanted to be done, so I grabbed a drink and a banana and finished them off as quickly as possible and was on my way. Craig was still eating and told me he would catch up and it didn't take him long to do that. The next two miles are a steady climb on a dirt road and my feet actually welcomed the uphill. Jun prepared me well for what was coming up on every section and he told me exactly what was coming our way and I was dreading it. 3 miles of descent on a loose rocky road. It wasn't great, but at that point all I could think about was that I was actually going to make it. I was going to finish the Wasatch 100 and even the painful toes couldn't keep my mood from looking up. A few more runners passed me because I couldn't go fast and that was frustrating because I still had some juice left in my legs and I could have really gone a lot faster if my toes weren't on fire.

After the loose road we were on a nice single track trail that drops you out right by the golf course. I was really getting excited to see my family and friends and as soon as we hit the paved road I could see my girls ahead waiting to run in the last .7 with me. Craig ran ahead to get some pictures and video of the finish and running in with my kids was awesome. They all kept telling me good job and way to go and you're awesome. It was fun. As I turned into the Homestead I could hear the crowd and the cowbells and I started to feel the emotion of everything. All of the training and all of the work and I was actually going to do it. It was an incredible feeling. I crossed the finish line with my girls and there were several friends and family there as well and I was overwhelmed with emotion. I finished, but I couldn't have done it without my incredible crew and awesome pacers. They were amazing and could not have been better. It was fun to hang out with family and good friends after the race. Bryce, Matt Williams and Matt Van Horn were there to offer me congratulations and hang out with us. It was pretty cool. My feet are wrecked. I have a few nasty blisters, but other than that I feel very good and am already thinking about putting in for the race next year. This is a phenomenal race and I don't have anything negative to say about it... well, maybe about some of the crappy, loose, steep trail on the last 25...

Here is a link to some pictures from the race:

Here is a link to a video that craig put together:

New half marathon PR.

Hobble Creek Half marathon. August 20th, 2011:

I met Adam and Julie at 5:00 am and they drove me to the bus pick up where we ran into a few of their friends. We were dropped off a full hour before the race started. It was cold, but not too bad. After the POP lines got too big I used the woods and was shocked with what I saw. Haha!

I don't have much experience with racing this distance and I have done zero speed work this year, so I wasn't really sure how I would do or what my strategy would be. I decided to just run as fast as I could without getting my heart rate up too high. Just find a comfy quick pace and see what happens. That pace happened to be between 7:20 and 7:40 most of the race. I did go into the 6's on the down hills, but never pushed. Another goal I had was to never let my pace go into the 8's and I was very successful with that one even on the hills. I really had a great time running this race. I never felt fatigued and I just enjoyed watching and chatting with other runners along the way.

At about mile 11 there are a few hills and I loved powering up them and passing quite a few runners. The last two miles I passed 25-30 people and I think the only person that passed me was Julie's husband Adam. He was moving well. The last mile I picked it up running in the 6's and even sub 6 at the end. I definitely had much more in the tank when I finished and I think I could have gone faster, but I did not want to bonk and flame out with a few miles left, so I think I did the right think by not pushing too hard.

Kings Peak for the 9th time.

August 13th 2011:

With Matt Van Horn and Josh Greenwell:

We intended to attempt a double of Kings Peak, but there were a lot of issues that slowed our progress and in the end did us in. Our first mistake was starting without any sleep around 10:45 Friday night. We all felt really good and it seemed like a good plan, but this would come back to bite us a few hours later. The other problem we had was running at night slowed us down a lot. The first 5 miles on the trail were almost 30 minutes slower than I had done them last year. This trail is very technical with a lot of rocks that have to be avoided and it is just plain hard to run in the dark on it.

Crockett was also going for a double and had started a little over 5 hours before us, so we wondered what time we would run into him and we finally did in the meadow by the big mud bog. He gave us a warning about some solid ice just below Gunsight Pass and told us it was warmer up higher, which we were happy to hear because the meadow was freezing. We didn't feel it until we would stop and then you would instantly be cold. The temps were in the 30's and none of us are used to that right now.

We ran most of the way to Gunsight Pass and from there it was hiking up the switchbacks. We were all feeling the altitude at this point. I had run most of this section last year, but just wasn't feeling it. The cool thing was with the full moon we all turned off our headlamps and hiked by the light of the moon. It was pretty awesome. After Gunsight we took the shortcut up to the plateau, making sure to avoid the icy snow Crockett had warned us about. Somehow I stayed on a rough trail all the way up, which has never happened before. Usually I get into the boulders and have to scramble through this section. Once on top I could see the other guys ahead and they were going higher up on the plateau, but it is only a little more elevation to gain.

I wore my Hoka Bondis and this proved to be a mistake, as the stability of these shoes on rocky terrain is horrible. Well, the Kings trail is littered with rocks and there are several loose boulders that have to be navigated through. This slowed me down so much and was very frustrating. Everytime we would get into the boulders my pace would slow like a snail as the other guys would get ahead and would have to wait for me to catch up. I think I tweaked my ankle at least 10 times and had a few really close calls where I almost completely turned it. Every time this would happen I would yell HOKAS! and Josh would giggle.

We got to Anderson Pass a full hour behind my time from last year. I was frustrated about that and this is about where the altitude started to hit all of us. Matt had a headache, jsh was feeling a bit dizzy and I started to get nauseated. This might have been my slowest trip from Anderson to the summit. Navigating the boulders in the dark in my Hokas while not feeling well just didn't make it speedy. If you haven't been there before, Anderson Pass to the summit is just a large pile of loose boulders. Jsh stayed with me and we slowly made our way up. Matt pushed on ahead. This was an experience that I will always remember. We were the only people on the mountain in the dark and it was very impressive. You could see the lights from distant cities at least 50 miles away and all of the surrounding peaks were lit up by the moon. The moon was so bright that I could even see a lot of our route through Henry's Fork and I was able to point out to Josh where we had started.

The higher we went the worse I felt. I have had this feeling many times. In my 9 trips to Kings I have had altitude sickness almost every time. In recent years I have been able to mitigate this by taking Diamox, which is a medication that helps your body make red blood cells at a faster rate and helps eliminate the symptoms of AMS (Accute mountain sickness). I have taken this drug many times and it has always helped. This trip I made a few mistakes. First, I only took one dose before we started and usually I would take 2-3. Second, I noticed that the medication had expired and I could tell that it wasn't as potent as it has been in years past.
I had no energy and was feeling nauseated, but I just kept plugging away. I'm sure I was dreadfully slow, but I just wanted to get to the top and get back down. Matt passed us a few minutes from the top coming down. He was cold and still had a headache. Jsh went on ahead and reached the summit a few minutes before me. As always it is a great feeling getting to the highest peak in Utah. This was a different experience because it was in the middle of the night. I'm sure not many people have done it this way. We snapped a few shots and I wanted to get down. I wanted to throw up, but I kept trying to hold it in. About 20 yards below the summit I couldn't hold it in any longer. I just started throwing up. I got down on a rock and spent about a minute heaving everything out of my stomach. Now I started to really get worried because I just lost all of the energy and water that I would need. If I couldn't replace it I would be screwed because I still had to get off the mountain.

The trip down was slow. We finally got back to Anderson Pass and I was feeling a little better, but I was shaky. I knew I needed calories, but the thought of eating made me sick. Finally we stopped and I took a gel and an S-Cap. They stayed down. We made our way across the Anderson basin to the plateau where we finaly met back up with Matt. On our way up the plateau I started feeling really sick again. When we got to the top I felt like I was going to puke again, so I layed down right on the side of the mountain. I closed my eyes and started to drift in and out of sleep. I thought I was having a conversation with Matt, but I was really in a dream like state. finally the guys got cold and as the sun started to rise they told me to get moving. I got up and felt a little better, but still didn't have much energy. I just kept moving.
Just before Gunsight Pass it started to get light and I could see Davy coming over the pass to us. I just about had a serious fall just below the icy snow field after I slipped on some solid black ice that I couldn't see. I almost took a serious tumble down the steep slope. I was able to grab a small bush and stop my fall. I greeted Davy and he looked tired, but I am sure I looked worse. I told him he was going to be the first to do a double and it seemed to perk him up. We wished each other well and I actually ran a few steps back to Gunsight Pass. I was feeling a touch better.
Below Gunsight we stopped at the spring to fill our water. I was out. I had started with 70 ounces (probably about 40 went out with my puke below the summit). I also took some shot blocks, but almost puked after two, so I didn't push my luck. I did however feel a lot better and I actually started running again. I was surprised how good I felt. After about a mile we ran into the first group of hikers heading to the summit and they were surprised to see us. They were also surprised we had already been to the top.

The run out went surprisingly well. My legs felt fresh and as I re-gained my energy I could run faster. I was still slow, but I kept a good pace most of the way back to Elk Horn crossing. I was able to get a few gels in me and it seemed to help. From Elk Horn to the finish I still felt pretty good, but I did get a stomach cramp that nagged me most of the way. We kept looking for the Quest for Kings runners because we knew that they would be passing us. We had already passed 3 early starters. With about two miles left Aaron K. and Faceless Ghost came cruising up the trail with another runner I didn't recognize. They were moving fast.

The last few miles were hard, but I actually felt pretty good. My legs were not sore. More than anything I was tired. We stopped and talked to Kim who was also doing Q4K for a few minutes and Matt ran ahead finishing about 5 minutes before us. We finished in 10:27 which was a full two hours slower than my time from last year. All of us felt like we could do another lap, but we knew it would be brutal and slow. We would have had to do it very fast because of time commitments, so we decided it wasn't going to happen. I took a brief nap in the front seat of my car and then we decided to go home.

Even though we didn't get the double I had a great time. We had a lot of laughs and got to do something very few people will ever do. If we ever try a double again we will get some sleep and start early in the a.m. which will allow us to do both summits during the daylight hours. Doing the technical portion in the dark was just really tedious and slow. I learned a lot on this run. I was happy that I was able to rebound and run out the last 10 miles. Jsh and Matt were both very strong and it was good to be out there with them. Now I want to go back and try it again.
Also congrats to Aaron Kennard for winning the Q4K marathon with an incredible 4:47 time and congrats to Crockett who finished the first ever double of Kings.

Wasatch 100 training runs

I did 4 training runs on the Wasatch 100 course to get ready for the race in July and August. Here are the reports from those runs:

From the race start to Baer Canyon (17.5 miles) July 27th 2011:

With Matt Williams and Matt Van Horn. What an adventure. My alarm went off at two-fitty am this morning. It was tough downing 500 cals that early. I met MattW and MattV at W's house and after dropping off my car at the Baer Canyon trailhead Matt drove us over to the start of the Wasatch 100. I want to run as much of the course as I can before the race and this would be my first time on that trail.

The first 5 miles aren't too bad. A few hills, but you can run the whole way. It was light by time we hit mile 5 and from there is gets really steep. A few miles later the trail became really overgrown and it slowed us down a lot. Busting up over 4K in elevation to the Chinscraper was a lot of fun. The views were much better than I thought they would be. What an incredible place. About mile 10 we stopped at a spring to talk with an older guy and fill up our bottles. The water was cold and good.

Just below the Chinscraper summit I got into some loose rock and I started to slide, so I reached up to grab a hand hold on a rock and it popped off and hit me right in the knee causing a nasty puncture that was bleeding profusely. It wasn't big, but it was really deep. I put 3 band-aids on it and it didn't help at all. The blood just kept coming. Another band-aid, some moleskin and a bunch of tissue paper and about 20 minutes and it finally stopped. What a pain. The guys had to wait for me and it was cold up there with a lot of wind. The worst part is that I was so slow after that because I was afraid of ripping off the bandage with all of the overgrowth on the trail and after the Chinscraper it only got worse.

After about two miles the bandage got ripped off my a branch and I had to stop and put another band-aid and another piece of moleskin on to cover it up. The next few miles were pretty incredible. The views are amazing. Peaks, meadows and valleys below. Wow! We made it to the summit of another peak (Peak 9,401?) and bypassed a few others. On one we crossed a snowfield that was a pain and I used a rock as an ice axe.

At mile 13.7 we took the Baer Canyon trail back down to the valley. This was by far the worst part of the day. That trail was so overgrown I couldn't believe it. Someone yelled "We've got Bush" and we certainly did. Bushwhack! It was a steep motha too. Busting out of that canyon was slow. Eventually my bandage was ripped off again and I had to take it so slow because I didn't have anything to cover the wound, so I was way over-cautious. We had to make a few stream crossings, but nothing eventful the rest of the way. it was a killer workout. Just about 18 miles with 6K elevation gain. It was really tough, but we all had a lot of fun. I am totally psyched for the race. I'll post up some pics of my bloody knee.

From Bountiful B aid to Francis Peak aid and back. July 30th 2011:

The plan: Run part of the Wasatch 100 course (Bountiful B aid to Francis Peak and back) with Matt Ricks and MattVS. We thought it would be about 14 miles. What happened: We got to the BB aid station about 5:30 and started our run up toward Centerville Peak. We didn't see the trail we were supposed to be on, but we figured we could eventually get on Skyline Drive and make our way to Francis Peak and then get on the right trail on the way back. Twinkies and I summitted Centerville Peak just as the sun was rising. It was pretty awesome. We then hit a few bumps on the ridge and then bushwhacked over to Skyline where we ran to the summit of Bountiful Peak and we couls see our route. We ran down the road at a quick 6:45 to 7:00 pace for just about 3 miles. The last half mile to the Francis Peak aid station was pretty steep so it slowed us down, but we still ran most of the way up. We stopped at the aid station for a few minutes and then headed back on the W100 trail. After about 3 miles the trail crosses a stream and then starts the climb back to the BB aid station. Because the trail was so overgrown and since we didn't know where it was we missed it. We thought we made a wrong turn and then we spent the next two hours running every trail and fork in the area. Nothing made sense and we would always start to go in the wrong direction, so we would end up turning back to try something else. It was horrible, but the silver lining is that it might be the most beautiful area in the Wasatch. There were lush green meadows with wild flowers and the view of the mountains to the west. So cool! Eventually, VD called his wife and she read the directions to him from the W100 website and he quickly figured out our mistake. We had been right the first time. We just had to go back and cross the river about 30 yards from where we were and there was the trail. It was totally overgrown and was a bushwhack for about a half mile. Eventually it got better, but it is a steep climb back up to the BB aid station. We were pretty tired when we finished. We had planned on about 14, but ended up with almost 20 and quite an adventure. I'm very happy that I was able to run most of the first 23 miles of the course this week. It is pretty tough for sure. Those are not easy trails. I am totally psyched though. The views are unreal.

Big Mountain to Lambs. August 5th with Craig Lloyd and Josh Greenwell. 14 miles:

Wasatch 100 course from Big Mountain to Lambs with Craig and Josh. BUSHWHACK! I wanted to do this section of the course during the heat of the day because most people that have run Wasatch say it is the hottest section and many runners DNF after doing it. It was definitely hot out there. The trail was very overgrown in several places which slowed us down some. Jun and jsh were strong all day and I spent most of the run trying to catch them. I really enjoyed the run until we hit the Alexander flat aid station area. From there it was brutally hot and the last half mile we got into one of the most heinous bushwhacks I have ever done. This section is pretty tough, but I really enjoyed everything but the overgrowth. My legs are scratched and raw.

Lambs to Brighton with Craig Lloyd and Adam Hall on August 24th 2011:

We met at 4:15 am at the BCC PNR and after dropping off cars at Brighton we had an incident with some longboarders that had crashed coming down the canyon. Two young guys that were both bloody and dazed. One of them looked much worse than the other and kept complaining that he was going to die. We drove them to the 7-11 at the mouth of the canyon where they called some friends to come take them to the hospital. They were not wearing any protective gear and didn't have headlamps. Dumb! They are lucky to be alive.

We started at the Lambs Canyon aid area for the Wasatch 100. None of us had run this section of the course and it was really fun. After 1.6 miles up Lambs we took the trail on the right that would take us up and over the pass to Millcreek canyon. The sun came up about half way up the climb and it was beautiful in there. It was a touch overgrown, but not too bad. At the pass we had a good solid run down to the canyon road at Elbow Fork and then we all grabbed a quick snack while we headed up the canyon to Upper Big Water. We ran most of the canyon road and only hiked the steepest sections.

The trail from Upper Big Water to Dog Lake is very pretty and in great shape. We hiked most of the steeper sections and ran where we could. After Dog Lake we knew we had to get some water, so we hit the spring just below the trail junction to Desolation Lake. We all filled up our water and I got into some stinging nettle, which bothered me for about the next hour. The trail up to Desolation is steep and tough. We were all feeling it at this point. We were not moving fast.
We reached the crest and decided to bag Desolation Peak. Why not? On the summit we took a few peak jumping photos and then headed back to the trail. From there we ran most of the way back to the base of Scott Hill. Jun got ahead and was waiting for us. We stopped there and took a break and Adam and I decided we were going to climb Scott Hill and Jun had to get back, so he took off while we took a few minutes to eat some real food (granola bar, Powerbar, Fritos).
From this point on it seemed like Adam and I were climbing up. We went up Scott Hill and then after dropping down and losing some elevation we had to climb back up to the ridge to Guardsman Pass. From here we were off the W100 course and decided to climb as many peaks as we could on the Brighton ridge run. Adam was out of water, so we would have to bum some off of hikers if we wanted to do anything serious because it was very hot. We did find a few nice hikers that let us have some water, but the steep climb up to peak 10,420 and Clayton Peak was taking a lot out of us. The sun was beating down most of the time and it was a tough climb with 20+ miles and several thousand feet of elevation already on our legs. We really slowed down a lot. When we reached the summit of Clayton I ran out of water and Adam had about 16 ounces left, so we knew that we were done. That would barely get both of us back to the car and if we didn't see anyone with water we would be screwed if we tried to go further, so we decided to call it a day. We made our way back to the saddle and then ran the road back to the car that was parked in the Brighton parking lot.

We finished with 4 peaks, 8311 feet of elevation gain and just under 24 miles. I also got to run about 20 more miles of the W100 course. I really can't imagine a race course being any tougher than this one. It's coming quick.

Alpine Loop run- 43.3 miles

July 4th 2011

With my wife being out of town for the week I wanted to take the opportunity to get in a long run, but I was nervous about my recent achilles issues, so I wanted something that wasn't technical and wouldn't have too much elevation, but at the same time I did want to test it out to see where I am. After a lot of thought running the Alpine Loop seemed like a really good idea, but where to start? I figured why not start at my house. It would give me the miles I was looking for and add a little extra spice to the challenge. I asked my FRB and FB friends if anyone wanted to run with me and luckily Adam Hall was in.

We met at my house a little after 3:00 am and were running in perfect temps. There were very few cars out on the roads and it was a lot of fun. We didn't want to burn ourselves out, so we ran at an easy 9:00 pace and had some really good conversation and the miles were just clicking by. It took about 50 minutes to get to the canyon and we both turned on our headlamps. The river was running high and it was really cool to run up in the dark. We didn't see the first car for a few miles and we didn't see many cars at all until we were almost to the top of the loop.
I stopped at the Timpanogos cave parking lot (mile 7.6) to refill my water and take a gel while Adam hiked up and had a snack. It took me a few minutes to catch back up to him and then we got back into a nice comfortable run. We were not pushing the pace at all and when I would check my watch we were anywhere from 10-11:30 on the uphill climb. Eventually the climb starts to get steeper and we decided to hike the steepest parts to save our legs. I did feel some slight tightness in my achilles, but it didn't last long.

The sun started coming up as we hiked the steeper sections and about a mile from the top we had a moose on the side of the road that didn't want to move. As we got closer we made some noise, but it didn't seem to want to budge until a car drove by and spooked it. The mosquitoes were a slight pain, but we had applied deet, so they never became much of an issue. The views on this run were absolutely incredible and the last few miles climbing to the top of the loop are about as good as it gets with some stunning vistas, including some really great views of Timpanogos. I showed Adam some of the climbing routes on the mountain and we stopped a few times just to take in the sights.

We were really happy to reach the top of the loop because we knew it would be all downhill or flat from there. We had well over 3K of climbing so far and my legs were ready for a change. It took about a half mile to get used to the faster downhill running, but eventually we were in a groove and loving it. From the Cascade Springs turn off to Sundance was some of the best running I have ever done. The views on this road are unreal. It was as green as anything I have ever seen in Utah. I love this loop in the fall, but it is also pretty amazing right now as well. After a few miles of running through the lush green aspen forest you start to get the views of Timp again and we were both just giddy. I was smiling and loving every minute. This was probably the best part of the run for me. Our pace kept creeping into the 7's and I kept trying to slow Adam down so we could save our legs. It was tough because that road is the perfect place to open it up. We also passed a few runners coming uphill toward us and we gave them fives and it was fun to see them smile and get excited too.

We stopped at a campground just before Aspen Grove (about mile 21) to refill our water and I took a gel. It was the fourth one I had taken and I also took an S-cap. From Aspen Grove to Sundance we started to see a lot more cars, so we had to really be careful. We cruised at an easy 8:30 pace most of the way out of the canyon, but occasionally Adam would pace us into the 6's or 7's and I would remind him to slow down.

When we reached Provo Canyon we stopped to take another break. I was really hungry, so I downed a Snickers bar and a gel, but it didn't seem like enough. The next few miles I could tell that I needed more energy. I was hoping to make it to the gas station at the mouth of the canyon to refuel, but my energy levels were definitely low for a few miles.

We stopped again at Bridal Veil falls (mile 27) to take a few pictures and I was still craving salty foods. I took another S-cap and over the next few miles kept thinking about what I wanted to eat when we got out of the canyon. About mile 29 we had a guy pass us and I could tell Adam didn't like it at all and then a few minutes later a few girls started to pass us and Adam picked up the speed, so I came along and pretty soon we were running in the 7's. :) It actually was good because before that our pace had slipped into the 10's, so the last few miles going out of the canyon we kept just under a 9 pace.

There is a gas station at the mouth of the canyon and we stopped to refuel. I really wanted some salty potatoes, but my choices were pre-made sandwiches, cold hot dogs or a burrito. I settled on a chimichanga and a Reeses cup with a large Coke. The first few bites of the Chimmy were sooo good and I was moaning with delight, but after about half of it was gone it started to taste like... well, a gas station burrito. I was about 3/4 of the way through it and it started making me sick. I told Adam that was the best and worst burrito I had ever eaten and that made him laugh.
We walked for a couple of minutes after the rest stop to get our legs going again and it was tough when we started running again, especially with several ounces of Coke and chimmy sloshing around in my tummy. The next 5-6 miles were tough. The perfect weather we had up to that point was gone. It was hot, humid and the sun was now out for the first time beating on us. We would get stopped at red lights at times and we both hated that because that meant we had to stop running and get started again, which was tough on sore legs.

About mile 37 we stopped at a Chevron to refill our water and drink some Gatorade. I noticed that almost everyone was staring at us and we were greasy, salty and I'm pretty sure downright rank. I apologized to one lady that was standing by me and she politely said it's ok. Haha. We stunk!!!

The last 6 miles were hard. I definitely prefer running in the mountains to running on city streets and when you are getting close to 40 miles it is even worse, but we just kept pushing and grinding and the miles just seemed to go by. We both felt relatively good, and my energy was up (thanks to the chimmy). About mile 41 we turned back onto the Alpine Hwy and stated the climb back up to my neighborhood. There is a nice big hill by the cemetery that we had to deal with. Adam ran the steepest part, while I hiked and it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The last mile wasn't so bad. We just had a nice and easy pace and ran it all the way to the finish. It took us 8:41 and it was an incredible experience. It is the most miles I have ever run on pavement and I am not sure that I want to repeat that. It would have been nice if there had been some trails mixed in, but I can't complain. It was an amazing run

July 2011 training

July was one of my best months of training ever. I had 6 runs over 13 miles and several more over 10. My long run of the month and longest to date for the year was a 43.5 mile run on the Alpine Loop on July 4th with Adam Hall. . I did do long runs on the Wasatch 100 course and I was able to get in a lot of good tough runs with a lot of climbing. My achilles injury was not healed, but getting better every week. I just made sure to ice it after my bigger runs and always wore my heel inserts. My Wasatch 100 training is right where I want it to be.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June training

On May 28th I had a really fun run up Lake Mountain with Matt Van Horn. it was my 33rd peak of the year and we had a really great time. I love that run. Then on the 31st Matt and I ran Lake Mountain again, this time with Craig and we really pushed the pace. Craig and I ran almost the whole way to the top, hiking only the very steepest section near the top. We made it to the summit in just over an hour and Matt wasn't far behind. On both of these runs I really pushed the pace on the downhill, running between a 6:30-6:40 pace the whole way down. It was a lot of fun, but on the second trip my legs were very sore and I could really feel it on that run. I wasn't thinking much about it after we finished because I felt pretty good, but I went into work and found out I would be playing 18 holes of golf in just a few hours. Well, I felt good playing until about hole 15 where I noticed a pain in my achilles tendon on my left side. It got progressively worse, and at the end of the round I was limping.

Basically I have been injured all month. The first week after the injury I took it pretty easy, although I did go climb Mt. Wire 3 days later just to test it out and although it felt good during the run, it was really sore a few minutes after I stopped. I decided I better take the next week off of running which I did. I still did the elliptical and the bike at the gym, but I didn't run for a whole week.

On Sat Jun 11th I finally ran for the first time doing 3 easy miles at the gym. everything seemed to feel fine, so the next day I tested it out with an 8 mile run followed by a 15 mile run up Provo Canyon a few days later. I found that when I was running on flat terrain it felt ok and didn't make the pain worse, so I have continued to run on it, but I haven't climbed any peaks since doing Mt. Wire on June 3rd.

I saw the doctor last week and he put me on a steroid which seemed to help some. So far it has improved a lot and there isn't a lot of pain in the tendon, but I can tell that it is weak and not 100% so I have decided not to push it at all. Last Saturday I did do another 15 miler and everything felt good, so I have decided to do my long run for the month this weekend. I am looking to do between 30-40 miles, so hopefully everything will go well.

This has been a very frustrating month for me. I know that Wasatch is coming up really quick, and I have to train and stay in shape or I will be obliterated by that race, however if I push it too hard I could end up not even being able to do it at all if I am still hurt. It is a very tough position to be in and I don't like it.

Zion Traverse attempt

May was a really good training month for me. I was able to complete several solid trail runs with a lot of elevation gain. The long run of the month was a sweet run in Zion National Park. We were attempting to complete the entire Zion train (East entrance to West entrance), which is about 50 miles, but we got pounded by the weaher and had to change our plans...

Zion traverse attempt with Craig Lloyd, Matt Williams and Josh Greenwell. May 18, 2011. (about 30 miles total).

We failed to complete the entire Zion traverse yesterday, but what we got instead might be the most incredible run I have ever done. The weather forecast looked terrible, but we were hoping to get lucky like we did on Stansbury Island last month. Worst case scenario we would run the East Rim trail, get wet and bail from there and we were all ok with that.

We set up camp just outside of the park for a very restless night of sleep. It rained most of the night and I had failed to properly secure my rain fly, so it was flapping all night long. Annoying. My hips and back did not like the hard ground either, but I felt pretty good when we broke camp and headed for the east entrance of the park. The weather looked like it might not get too bad. There were a lot of clouds and we even had a brief shower on the way to the park, but nothing serious. When we started it was cool, but it looked like the storm might hold off for a while.

The East Rim trail is amazing. The miles were flying by and the views were constantly impressive. We settled into an easy pace as we made the climb to the rim. We were all just enjoying the run, talking, laughing and taking pictures. It was almost like Christmas morning, as each bend brought a new and exciting view for us to take in. I was having a blast! We took our time to check out several canyons and the steep drops off of the trail.

About an hour in it started to snow on us, but only last a few minutes. For the most part on this section the weather was great. The last 4 miles of the East rim are the most impressive and I don't think you can find a more scenic trail anywhere. The steep canyons and sheer cliffs are spectacular and you wind around and down the walls on trails that have been carved into the side of the cliffs. Unreal. Eventually, we made our way into a very tight canyon with very high sheer walls on both sides. Stunning. Around the bend and Zion Canyon opens up to you and the trail down to Weeping Rock is magical. It was trail running heaven and we were all soaking it in, laughing, yelling and smiling.

At Weeping Rock we ran down the canyon road to the Grotto, where we met my nephews that had been waiting for us. I took some Cytomax, and we all used the restroom there. Just as we were about to leave it started to rain and the weather only got worse from there. We ran across the street and started our climb up the West Rim trail (Angels Landing Trail). It is very steep and gains a few thousand feet very fast. We only ran a small portion of this because it is just so steep. We had a good hiking pace, but after about 20 minutes Jun and I broke out the garbage bags to keep the rain off. Dorsimus was having some stomach issues and slowed a bit, but he kept pushing hard and we passed several tourists on their way up to Angels Landing.

When we got to the Scout Overlook near Angels Landing the weather had not improved, but we decided to keep pushing up. The trail was wet and we were mostly hiking the steep slopes up to the West Rim. It was gorgeous. All of the rain had caused several water falls to start spilling over the cliff faces and it was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.

At about mile 17 we had to climb a really steep slope and we were just getting pounded with snow. It was cold and whenever we would stop for a few seconds we would get chilled. We stopped at a spring so Matt could get some water and it was snowing hard. We were all quite cold and my fingers were numb. At that point it things got ugly. The trail turned into a mud bog, the weather showed no signs of improving, we were going slow and we still had 30 more miles. Jun thought it might be a good idea to turn around and after talking and thinking about it we all came to the same conclusion. It would have taken us considerably longer to finish the traverse, we were already wet and cold and we were one broken ankle or accident away from someone getting hypothermia. Not to mention it was just nasty. It was an easy decision.

There was some initial disappointment when we turned around, but after a few minutes we were running again and my numb hands and toes started to warm back up. Our spirits picked up and we were having fun again. We took a break to drink some fresh rain water spilling off of one of the cliffs and then we had a really fun (although wet) run back down to Angels Landing. We had planned on climbing it, but the weather actually got worse and it was raining hard and the wind had picked up as well, so we took a break in some rocks that had a nice roof shelter and we decided it was just too nasty. I am a peak bagger and rarely miss an opportunity to grab a summit and we were very close to tagging Angels Landing, but I had no interest in going up that thing in those conditions.

After the break we ran all the way back down to the Grotto. The trail was really wet and full of tourists. I got a little behind the other three as I just tried to take it easy. Jun was setting a pretty face past all the way down. There was so much water coming off of the cliffs that we actually had to run right through a waterfall. It was pretty cool.

Back at the Grotto we decided to run back down the canyon to the visitors center to get in a few more miles. My legs did not like the pavement as much as the trails, but the views were stunning. We were all in good spirits and even though we didn't complete the traverse we had an

amazing time. I would say that there is no trail anywhere that can top these views. I was awe the entire day and I can't wait to go back and finish it off.