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.