Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lake Mountain

Lake Mountain has been one of my favorite training runs for a few years now. It is the long mountain on the west side of Utah Lake with the radio towers on top. I run to the summit via Israel Canyon and love the route because there is a really nice 4X4 road all the way to the summit and it gets tracked out in the winter by a snowcat in order to service the towers, so there is usually a nice packed trail all the way to the to. I love it because it is 2700 feet of vertical climbing and most of it is runnable and you get 8.4 miles round trip.

In the last week I have run to the summit twice, first with Craig Lloyd and then yesterday with Van Horn, Craig, Jared Kennard and Eric Jeppson. We had a blast both times just talking and enjoying incredible early morning sunrises over Utah valley. Craig and I both agreed that this has to be added to our weekly routine during the winter.

Here is a video that Craig put together and it has some of our run to Lake Mountain from last week. It also has some running from the BST above City Creek Canyon which is also one of our favorite places to run.

Random Nov running

Grandeur Peak

A week ago I met Matt Williams and Matt Van Horn at the Grandeur Peak trailhead for an early morning climb to the summit of Grandeur Peak via the West Ridge. The plan was to complete the loop by going down into Church Fork, run the Pipeline and then back to the WR trailhead, which is one of my favorite training runs in the Wasatch. That was the plan until we encountered deep snow most of the way up which required us to break the trail on about 3/4 of the mountain with 2-3 feet of new snow. It was arduous at best and slowed us down a lot and we ended up taking a little over two hours to hit the summit, so the loop was out.

Even though we weren't able to do the whole loop we had a total blast and Van Horn shot a sweet video which I will post below. I haven't been wearing my gators since they were stolen out of my car at the Wire trailhead last year and in my morning fog while getting ready I put on short socks which ended up being a huge mistake. I had a lot of snow and ice buildup on my tights and some of the ice was rubbing on my ankles and heels and when I got back to the trailhead I saw blood on my socks. Are you frickin kidding me? So now I have these oozing sores on my heels and ankles and now a week later they aren't much better. There might be a silver lining in all of this because the wounds have forced me to wear a different shoe and the only shoes I have that don't rub on the sores are the Altra Lone Peaks. I wore the Lone Peaks on a trip up Lake Mountain and they were incredible! They are extremely comfy and have excellent traction as well. I think I will slowly start to mix them back into my shoe rotation.

Grandeur Peak video

Monday, November 12, 2012

October Training

I have really dialed back my training after Wasatch 100 to help my body recover and to give myself a break. I was doing 40-50 mountain mile weeks with about 10K vert before the race and since then I’ve been right about 25 per week. I am actually feeling really good right now, but I still have some nagging soreness in my left hamstring that has been bothering me since February. It only flares up when I am running fast on steep downhill slopes and it seems to be getting a little better, but I still feel it when I go fast.

Our fall weather has been pretty mellow and dry and I took full advantage getting out with our running crew. We were able to get in a lot of excellent trail miles over the last 6 weeks until the first major storm of the year hit over the weekend. Craig recently purchased a Sony action cam and we have been messing around with it over the last few weeks. He put together 3 videos from Mt. Wire, View Benchmark and Grandeur peak. These are the peaks that I climb the most because they are close to home/work and I can get up and down quickly.

Speaking of peaks last week I hit a milestone that I was pretty psyched about. I hit 100 peaks for the year in 2012. My original goal was 75 for the year, but I shattered that, so my stretch goal was 100 and it looks like I should be able to get to 110 without much of a problem. That also gives me 232 peaks in the last 3 years. I have seen some of the most incredible views, sunrises, sunsets, just about every wild animal you can think of and created some incredible memories with good friends. I can’t even describe how awesome it has been.

In case anyone is interested here are the 3 videos that Craig made:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wasatch 100 2012

September 7-8, 2012

I had the opportunity to run and finish the Wasatch 100 for the second year in a row over the weekend. In some ways I had a much better race than last year, but overall it was definitely more challenging for me this year. This course is so tough that you can't even believe it until you run it. I still can't believe people are dumb enough to do this, but it is also pretty incredible to complete it and I have to say it is awesome.

Matt Willianms had several of us over for a pre-race barbeque and then Craig Lloyd, Josh Greenwell and I stayed there over night because he lives so close to the start. I was awake about 2:45 am and couldn't go back to sleep, so I got up at 3:30 to get ready. I choked down about 900 calories (the Hostess fruit pie was money) and we made it to the start with plenty of time to chat with some other runners before the start of the race. The temps were cool, but it was definitely warmer than last year and I could tell that it was going to be a hot day which would end up making things pretty tough. I wanted to hang with Craig and Josh for as long as possible, but after a few minutes Craig took off and Josh and I settled into a decent pace that put us ahead of the really big pack. Over the next few miles we passed a several runners and found ourselves in a pretty good group power hiking up to Chinscraper. I think we stayed with the same core group all the way to the summit where we topped out in 2:17.

After we hit the Chinscraper summit we ran on the ridge tops for the next several miles. I really love this part of the course. You weave around high summits and hit the east and west sides of the ridge, which provides some pretty sweet views of Davis County to the west and Morgan to the east. I was still feeling pretty good and felt like I was right where I wanted to be. We hit Groben's corner (13.5) where we were able to fill up our bottles for the first time.  Josh said he wasn't feeling well and I know he wanted to push a faster pace, but I was happy to have him with me all the way to the Francis Peak aid station (mile 18.7). My legs were still feeling really fresh and we ran everything that we could and I thought held a pretty good pace. We hit the aid in 3:56 which was 21 minutes faster than I did it last year. We stopped to refill our water and quickly grab some food and we were back onto the trail. It started getting hot on the next section and I just tried to hang with Josh and push through. The steep hill up to Bountiful B is a killer and I was so happy to hit that aid station (mile 24). There was a runner down and I heard one of the aid station workers say we need to call 911. I kept thinking hydrate hydrate hydrate. We were only there for a few minutes. I ate some salted potatoes, cookies and had some Coke. We grabbed some gels and took off.

The next section was just a grind. It was getting hot and I was starting to feel some fatigue in my legs, but nothing serious at all. Again Josh and I stayed together and it was nice having him there to help me push when I wanted to hike. We ran everything that wasn't too steep and made decent time into Sessions aid (28.2) where we only took a few minutes to grab some food and refill our bottles. I was carrying a handheld bottle and 30 ounces in my hydration pack. It was working perfectly because I could barely feel the pack on. I had been drinking pretty well up to this point, but after Sessions I made the mistake of not drinking enough. It was now getting really hot and the steep hill climb out of Sessions is brutal. We grinded up that and then settled into a nice pace along the ridge to Swallow Rocks aid (34.9). I had only consumed about 20 ounces of water between the aid stations which was a huge mistake, but I was still feeling good, so I thought I was ok. At the aid I again downed some potatoes, cookies, Mountain Dew and we both carried a rootbeer popsicle out of the aid station. They told us we were in 56th and 57th place. I know Josh wanted to be moving faster, but we were right where I wanted to be.
                                          High five with Josh at Big Mountain
Photos by Lori Burlison

The run to Big Mountain was fun. I put on my ipod to get some energy and we grinded out the miles in pretty good time. Both of us were feeling good and with a little over a mile to go I noticed that I was getting a bit dehydrated. I had only consumed what was in my bottle and hadn't even touched what was in the hydration vest. I quickly took a few big gulps from the vest, but with Big Mt. (mile 39.4) coming up I forgot to keep drinking because I was so excited to see my crew there. I told myself to stay a bit longer at the aid to make sure I hydrated and cooled off because I knew the next section would be a killer. I hit Big Mountain almost two hours faster than last year, but I was down 3 pounds and my crew quickly put me in a chair and started asking what I needed. They brought me a tuna sandwich that I choked down and two cups of Coke. I sipped some Gatorade but it was too sweet and I only got a few gulps. Greg rubbed out my IT bands and my pacer Becky had a cool wet towel that she gave me for my neck. As awesome as my crew was they really rushed me out of the aid quicker than I would have liked and I didn't take the time I should have to get hydrated. My stomach went south and I told Becky I needed to walk to let it settle. Josh was with us, but within about a half mile he went ahead because I started to slow down. I ran into Kendall from the blog and we chatted for a minute before he took off and went on to run an impressive race.
                                                       My crew working me over

After about a mile I completely went into the tank of misery. I had zero energy, I couldn't push the pace and I felt like I was going to puke. I couldn't run and I could barely hike. Finally I sat down on a log and took a gel and an S-Cap. 3 groups passed and all asked if I was ok. I probably looked like death. What was going on? Just an hour ago I was running hard and strong. I got back up and slogged for about 20 more minutes and I finally went pee and when I saw that my pee was brown it hit me that I was severely dehydrated. Damn! Why wasn't I drinking more? Why didn't I spend more time hydrating at Big Mt? Stupid!!! We were now at the hottest part of the day on the hottest section of the course and I was in trouble and I knew it. Catching up was going to be tough. I started chugging my water and quickly drank the entire handheld. Becky was so good to me through this section even though I was a total mess. She kept giving me her cold water to drink and kept the towel around my neck wet and cool. My stomach was still a mess and I thought maybe a trip to into the bush would help, but as I stepped off the trail I got attacked by a yellow jacket that started stinging my left calf. Low point. The more I drank the better I felt, but my steam did not come back quickly at all. In fact through this entire 14 mile section I never had it. I was passed by dozens of runners. Demoralizing.

At the Alexander Ridge aid (47.4) Becky got me some ice water, a peanut butter sandwich and some cookies. I drank a lot and then I noticed Josh sitting in a chair and not looking very good. He looked totally wrecked and was having some major issues, but after a few minutes he got up and hiked out. It helped inspire me to get out of the chair and get moving. There is a long climb in a grassy meadow out of the aid station and last year I ran about half of it, but this year I walked every step. The heat was brutal. I was wrecked. I just grinded every step and at the top where at the connector trail I had to stop to sit on a rock for a minute to keep from puking. From that point on I slowly came back and started feeling better. We were now out of the sun which made a huge difference and I had been drinking constantly. Becky was amazing through this entire section. She talked the whole time to keep my mind off of the grind and she helped me out so much. Without her I would have been toast out there. The last few miles we picked up a decent running pace and ran it into Lambs Canyon aid 8 pounds down. Wow!
                                              Me and Becky trying to stay cool

My crew quickly went to work getting me food and fluids. I drank a lot and took a lot of time getting refreshed. My second pacer Seth Wold was anxious to get me moving, but I needed to make sure I took enough time to cool off and get my body back into the game and it worked. As soon as we hit the Lambs Canyon road I felt better. We actually ran some of the hills and when we got to the trail up to Bear Pass I felt great and we really pushed it up to the pass, passing at least 10 runners. At the top I still felt great so we ran strong all the way down to Elbow Fork. Just before we hit the road we had to put on our headlamps because it was now dark. Seth was incredible. He kept track of what I was eating and drinking and would tell me when I needed to drink, take salt or a gel. He also pushed me to run up several hills that I probably would have hiked if I had been by myself. On the way up Millcreek Canyon we were pushing it up the road when I saw some eyes peering at us just off the road. I said hey check out those eyes and we both put our headlamps on a large cougar that was checking us out. Seth went for his camera, but before we could get the picture the cat took off back into the brush. Awesome!

We got into the Upper Big Water aid (61.6) feeling good. Seth got me some soup and Coke and I put on some warm clothes. It was cold! He got me back up and moving and we pushed and slogged to Desolation Lake. Seth kept pushing me to run and it really helped. I was now feeling great again and things were definitely looking up. At Desolation Lake aid (66.9) we stopped to grab more soup and I downed a hot chocolate as well. There were several runners stopped there including some that were laying down by the fire. I remember it being brutally cold going out of this aid station and I didn't warm back up unitl I hit the Wasatch Crest. From there we got into a running pace again and ran a good portion to Scott Hill aid (70.7) where I went into the tent for more soup and tried to get warm. Seth got me moving out of there which was smart. It was so cold leaving the tent and again I shivered for several minutes until I warmed back up.
                                         Me and Seth coming into Brighton

This year I was actually able to run a good section of the road down to Brighton where last year I had to hike it because of my feet. Brighton was also really cold and I decided I was going to put on all of my warm clothes. We got into the lodge and I was actually up 4 pounds. Seth had done an amazing job making sure I ate, drank, took salt and pushed myself. It was the perfect balance and I am so grateful he was there. In the lodge I was greeted by Kelli and my crew who were so good to me. They took care of me and made sure I ate and drank and Greg gave my IT bands another rub. I had to put on more glide (sorry eveyone in the bathroom) and I took off my shoes for the first time to shake out the rocks and sand. My good friend Rob would be pacing me to the finish and I was happy to have him with me.
                                                    At Brighton aid stop

Going out into the cold was hard and I seemed to have lost some steam hiking up to Catherine Pass. My climbing legs were gone. On the descent down into Ant Knolls it became apparent that my toes were not happy with all of the descent and they were on fire just like last year. I was wishing I had my poles and I knew it was going to be a grind to the finish. I also noticed some pain in my right calf and with each descent the pain got worse to the point where running became very painful. We were so slow and finally hit Any Knolls where I wanted some breakfast, but they weren't serving it for 50 more minutes. I would have to wait until Poll Line to get my pancakes, sausage and Coke. The steep climb out of Ant Knolls was hard, but it felt much better than descending. After the climb we tried to get into a running pace again on the flatter sections, but I could only shuffle along because my calf was now cramping pretty bad. Every time I ran Rob would encourage me and keep reminding me of the under 30 hour finish that I wanted. At that point though I didn't care. The pain in my toes and calf was much greater than the desire to go under 30 hours.

At Poll Line I did get my breakfast and just like last year I fell asleep in the chair. Rob had to get me up and moving again and the next 4-5 miles were very hard and painful. What a grind. Rock Springs aid seemed much further than last year and when we finally made it I just wanted to keep moving, so I filled my bottle, grabbed two gels and we left. The next section is one of the most difficult of the entire course. With 'The Dive', 'The plunge' and 'Irv's Torture chamber' I was definitely worried about my feet and legs and for good reason. It was just plain hard and painful. After several minutes Rob made me laugh with "I'm tired of diving and plunging". Rob made me laugh a lot even though I was hurting and it was really good having him there. Irv's Torture Chamber was indeed torture and it was a major slog to Pot Bottom (93.1) where we stopped and I ate a banana, cookies and some Red Vines.

The last 7 miles were really hard and I was glad to have Rob there to push me along and make me laugh. The rocky road was once again a miserable run and with my hurting toes it was downright brutal. I lost count of how many times my big toes banged into a rock ,which would send a shooting pain up my leg. When we finally hit the single track I knew that the finish was close and I really picked up my pace. I was now running faster than I had in the last 12 hours and I kept it up all the way to the finish, running every step of the last two miles. I think the adrenaline kicked in because I couldn't feel the pain in my calf and toes until after the finish. Finishing was just as sweet the second time around. My wife, kids, mom and dad were there along with several of my running friends. Awesome! What an experience. I'm still trying to process all of it. I know I will do Wasatch again, but I think it is time to try a 100 miler with a little less elevation change and one where I won't lose both of my big toe nails (yep they are gone again).Thanks to eveyone that helped me in some way. I appreciate all of your support. To my pacers and crew I could not have done it without you and especially thanks to Kristina for putting up with all of my craziness.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Utah Triple Crown (Highest 3 peaks in Utah):

I attempted the TC for the first time back in 2003 when a reporter for the Deseret News that I knew from the Highpointers website invited me to go and attempt to climb the highest 3 peaks in Utah in one day and I invited Craig Lloyd to join us as well. We made the attempt from an advanced base camp at Dollar Lake. After hiking in to Dollar and making camp we woke up early the next morning to make the attempt. We made decent time up to the summit of Kings, but I was hit with a pretty severe case of altitude sickness that required me to barf several times just off the trail. The last time I was on all fours extricating the last remnants of stomach acid into the bush while the D-news reporter looked on in horror. Needless to say I didn't complete the route. Craig and a photographer from the D-News continued on and finished it off and the D-News did a two page spread on the hike that they coined the "Triple Crown". It was pretty cool even though I didn't make it and I knew I wanted to go back again to make an attempt at some point.

Back in July of this year I went back to the Uintas with Craig and Josh to try the Triple Crown again. Davy Crockett upped the TC ante back in 2008 when he did the whole thing from the trailhead and back in one day which doubles the miles and Craig was going after the speed record that he had set back in 2010 which had been broken by some local elite ultra runners in 2011. Jun was a little faster than we were and after summiting Gilbert we were thwarted by a storm that was moving in just as we were getting to Gunsight Pass, while Craig was at the base of Kings and was able to continue on to bag South Kings as well and get down before the storm rolled through. He went on to set a new speed record of 8:29 which is an incredible time for that route.

After our debacle in July Jsh and I swore we would never go back to attempt the TC again because neither one of us wanted to climb Gilbert Peak. While Gilbert is the 3rd highest mountain in Utah and has a pretty decent view everything else about it pretty much sucks, but after a few weeks of licking our wounds we both wanted to get back up there and finish it off, so we decided to add Gilbert and South Kings on when we did the Quest for Kings marathon.

We drove to the Henry's Fork trailhead with Craig and Matt Williams and as always had a really great time laughing, eating greasy food and this time buying a cowboy hat in Mountain View, Wyoming. Craig offered to wear it on the entire trip if someone bought it. Matt obliged and Craig good to his word wore the sexy thang all the way to the top of Kings Peak and back. Gotta love it.

We arrived at the trailhead and met some other guys that would be running the race in the morning and after setting up our tent we all hung out by the fire cracking jokes, laughing and participating in various other forms of tomfoolery. I slept ok in the tent nestled in between Josh and Craig for the first 3-4 hours even though our tent smelled like the Great Salt Lake on a windy day, but at around 2:00 am a few dudes woke me up while they were getting ready to start their hike of Kings- LOUD! After that it rained and I just couldn't sleep because I kept thinking about the weather and hoping it would clear up. I really didn't want to run in the rain. At 4:00 the alarm went off and Josh and I got dressed and went to the van to eat breakfast and get our gear ready. It literally rained until we opened the door of the van to start our run and then it stopped. It was cold, but not too bad with the cloud cover.

At the gate we started our watches and settled into a nice trot up the trail. It was muddy and wet and there were a lot of puddles to deal with and in the dark it was tough to get into a fast pace on that trail. It is a rocky nightmare. We got into a good groove though and slowly busted out the first 5 miles to Elk Horn crossing where we stopped to take a quick break to stash our headlamps and take a gel. Now that it was getting light we were able to move well and we got into a good pace that we were able to keep up all the way through the Henry's Fork basin. It was a beautiful morning and we just chatted away and enjoyed the run. Just past Dollar Lake we ran into 3 bull moose... or would that me meese?? They were right on the trail getting a drink from a spring that was flowing pretty well and they were startled by us. We stopped and just let them move on making sure not to look threatening in any way. Awesome.

We skipped the switchbacks up to Gunsight Pass and instead went straight up through the rocks while we both took another gel. At the pass we saw a family of hikers and said hello and then kept moving to the Gunsight plateau where we passed another group of hikers that were going up too high on the flank of Gunsight Peak. They saw us and eventually started working their way down. Over the plateau and then we started making our way over the tundra to the trail where we found a nice flowing spring and we stopped and had a great drink and Josh filled up his bottles. We ran/hiked to Anderson Pass and both of us were feeling good so we knocked out the 900 feet up to the summit pretty quickly topping out in 3:56. Not bad considering we were about 20 minutes slower to Elk Horn than we were back in July. This was my 10th time on top of Kings Peak.

We took a few pictures and didn't stay long as we continued to traverse the ridge and began to drop down to the saddle between Kings and South Kings. Almost immediately it became apparent that the rocks were much less stable the further away we were from the well-traveled Kings Peak. Just about every other rock was wobbly or would slide and our progress slowed a lot. Saying it was quite tedious would be an understatement. It sucked. Once we went over the saddle and started going back up our speed picked up some and we were able to slog our way over the false summit (curse you false summit) and finally up to the summit of South Kings Peak, the second highest peak in Utah. It was pretty cool being up there and we took a few more pics and then headed back down. More wobble, slide, roll, jump... awwww shite! Rocks!!!

Back at the saddle between the two Kings peaks I was telling Josh a story of some sort and trying to get him to laugh (which was successful) but at the climax of the story I wasn't quite paying attention to my footing and I slipped on some loose rocks and went down hard. I landed on the same hip that I fell on during our night run a few weeks back and I also really banged up my leg. It hurt a lot, but no serious damage so I just needed to get up and keep moving. We made good time back up to the summit of Kings and we started running into some of the guys we had met from the night before. A couple of the dudes offered us food and they were really cool. Just below the summit we ran into Cowboy Craig and Matt. It was good seeing them and we had hoped that we would be able to run part of the route with them and we all met up back at Anderson Pass where the 'crew' was once again reunited. I downed a bean n cheese burrito at the pass and after joking and laughing with some hikers we ran back down on the trail to the spring where we had filled up earlier and all of us took a few minutes to replenish our water.

It was fun running/slogging back over the plateau with the fellas and we were all feeling really good and we made good time. Back at Gunsight Pass Craig and Matt stopped to talk to some other runners and Josh and I kept going down, but after a few minutes they easily caught back up just as we got back onto the trail. We all got into a solid running pace and it was fun because I felt great and my legs were feeling strong. We quickly came up to the chute that would take Josh and I up to Gilbert, so we parted with the other guys and started our traverse over to the chute. Josh stopped for a quick break at the base of the chute and I continued up at a slow pace so that he could catch me and after a few minutes he caught me and then put a good distance between us as well. Our overall time was around 7:45 at this point and we still had a shot to put up a respectable number. I was still feeling pretty good, but obviously Jsh was feeling stronger.

There is a spring that flows through the chute and it was gushing. When we had come through back in July it was a mere trickle, so we were surprised that it was flowing so well, but we took advantage and filled up our bottles and I took 4-5 big gulps right off the rock of the cold fresh water. It was pretty awesome. At the top of the chute we got blasted by the wind and it never let up again while we were on the mountain and as we made our way up the Gilbert plateau it seemed to suck the energy right out of me. I hate this mountain! I knew we had the Triple Crown in the bag because the weather was holding and I knew getting to the top wouldn't be a problem, but as we climbed higher and higher I lost my juice. The wind was so annoying and I cursed the mountain several times. Not only was it annoying but it was cold. Josh got ahead of me and a few times he stopped to wait, but there was no reprieve from the wind, so he had to keep moving and he beat me to the summit by at least 10 minutes. As I crested the final apex I just had about 40 yards of boulders to hop across and I was happy for the first time on Gilbert. On the summit Josh and I congratulated each other and there was an older couple up there as well, which seemed odd because it is just such a desolate place. Completing the triple felt pretty awesome, but now we needed to get back to the car which was about 10 miles away.

Getting off of the mountain was horrible. Gilbert Peak is a massive pile of boulders that move and wobble. There really isn't anything redeeming about the place except for the fact that it is the 3rd highest peak in Utah and since I am a peak bagger at heart I am able to glean something positive out of it. I was getting low on energy and I probably should have eaten something on the summit but I just wanted to get down. What I was really hoping is that we could find some kind of a wind break to stop for a minute to get out of the wind, but there isn't much of anything coming down, so eventually I just told Jsh I needed to take a minute to eat a Snickers. I felt my energy coming back some, but the wind just kept decking me in the face. I felt puch drunk. That mountain is a psychological mind screw, especially after the long day that we had put in.

We took the ridge above Dollar Lake down and then just went straight down the steep mountainside that dropped us just above the lake. It was so nice to be out of the wind, but the thought of running out wasn't a good one. I was pretty darn wrecked. We made our way on a game trail and eventually picked up a trail that took us back to the main trail where we were finally able to get back into a running pace. We ran well back to Elk Horn, but we were super slow. We stopped to pick up our gear and I took another gel and some salt.

The last 5.4 miles from Elk Horn to the trailhead are always the worst. I told Josh that if hell exists for me it will be running this 5.4 mile stretch for eternity. The 5 miles ended up being ok other than the fact that I was wrecked. I think running at high altitude takes more out of me than almost anything. I just lose my steam. We did put a few good stretches of running in and even ran some big hills, but we were slow. I'm sure Josh would have finished this 2-3 hours faster if he didn't have to wait for me, but he was awesome and never complained that I was slow. We finally rounded the last bend and could see the gate at the trailhead. Heaven. Now we actually had completed the Triple Crown. 9 years after my first attempt and it felt great to finally finish it. That terrain is just plain harsh. With the altitude and massive endless piles of unstable rocks it is very difficult to move quickly through this terrain. The time Craig did last month is incredible and I don't think anyone will beat it for a long time. One thing is certain for me: I will never do this route again. If Gilbert wasn't involved there would be a sliver of a chance, but since it is there is no way. I'm done. Another cool thing to note: This trip helped me to complete two goals for the year. First, the Triple Crown and second, these three summits were #73, 74 and 75 for the year so I hit my goal of 75 peaks for the year.

Check out this video made by Matt Williams:
It has been almost a month since my last post- lame! I usually post a few times per week on my training blog, so it is hard to get over here and post because I just don't have any time, but I do like to keep a log of my fun training runs, races and other random thoughts that I sometimes don't post on the other blog.

Considering how busy life has been over the last month I feel pretty good about where my training is going into Wasatch 100 in less than a month. Wasatch has been my focus all year and everything else is just part of the build up. Last year at Wasatch was an incredible experience, but this year will be different. There were so many unknowns last year and just getting that first 100 under my belt and having that experience gives me quite a lot of confidence going in this year. Last year I was jut a wreck about the whole thing, so I think I can actually put together a pretty solid race this year. My goal is to go under 30 hours and if I do that I will be thrilled.

Recently my training has been a lot of View Benchmark... and a lot more of View Benchmark. While not the coolest peak in the Wasatch by any means, it has become the perfect training run for me. It is close to my home and on my way to work, so I can be at the trail in 15 minutes and done with the run in less than 90 minutes. And what do I get in those 90 minutes? Almost 8 miles of solid trail running on a nicely graded trail that is 100% runnable. 1600+ feet of vert and some of the best views in the Wasatch, plus if you know when to hit the trail you rarely see a soul, just the way I like it. Don't get me wrong, I would love to be cruising up the Pfeifferhorn and Lone Peak and other Wasatch peaks, but I just don't have time with my job and family to do that right now. For now VB has become my treadmill and I haven't grown tired of it yet.

I did hit Timpanogos for the second time this year with Craig a few weeks back and we had one of the best runs of the year. I love that mountain. Here is a brief TR:

Mount Timpanogos with Craig:
One of the best runs of the year so far. I met Craig at Kohlers in Alpine at 5:30 am. The Timpanookee trailhead was packed, so we had to park 1/4 of a mile below the TH. We had a nice jog up to the TH where we saw probably 100 people getting ready to hike up the mountain. We were quickly running up the trail and lucky for us there wasn't a lot of people on the lower mountain, but as we got higher we started passing several groups. It was fun picking them off and making good time up the trail.
Just before the upper basin we ran into Davy Crockett who was coming down from his first summit of the year and looked pretty good. We said hi and it was good seeing him back in the mountains after recovering from injury. In the upper basin we passed several more groups and Craig kicked it into high gear. I pushed up to the saddle and he was now about 5 minutes ahead of me. We got a ton of comments from hikers on the way up and down. From the saddle I tried to push it hard and I felt really strong on that section. It was fun actually seeing it because the last 3 times I have been up there it was in the dark. On the final push I really picked up my pace and hit the top in 2:02 which is a PR, but I really only pushed the last half, as we took our time on the first few miles chatting and taking pictures, so I know I can do it faster.

We chatted with a few people up top that were surprised to see how fast we had made it up and also we talked to a few girls that also ran to the top. After a few pics and signing the register we took off.  Craig pushed the pace a lot and I ran with the girls and another guy (who did Wasatch 100 in 2010) back to the saddle where Jun was chatting with some folks. I was feeling really good, so I just cruised down the trail. Again more comments from hikers asking how fast we went up and telling us we were amazing bla bla. It was kind of fun though. My legs felt really fresh, so I pushed the pace a lot more than I ever have on this trail. It helped that we were doing it in the light and I felt a lot more comfortable, but I was just feeling good.

We probably passed at least 150 hikers on the mountain and several that we had passed on our way up. That was really the only thing that slowed us down out there. With a few miles to go Jun said I could go under 3:15 so I was pushing for that, but didn't quite make it. 3:15:15 total time. It felt good and we had a blast. I love that mountain.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Triple Crown attempt with Craig Lloyd and Josh:

Congrats to Craig for setting a new fastest known time on the TC posting an 8:29. Josh and I were there to complete the TC as well, but we were not going after the FKT with Jun. I went to sleep the night before at midnight and was up at 2:30 am to meet Jun at 3:15. I was hoping the lack of sleep wouldn't come back to bite me later in the day. We picked up Josh and then had a fun ride to the Henry's Fork trailhead laughing and joking most of the way. We saw an incredible lightning storm just before Ft. Bridger and then it rained hard for a few minutes and I was nervous about the conditions in the Uintas.

We pulled into the trailhead at 6:00 am. It was cool and there were a lot of cars there. We got all of our gear together and we were standing at the gate about 15 minutes later ready to go. After a few pics we all started our watches and settled into a nice 10:00 min mile pace. You might think that sounds easy but I can assure you it isn't. At 9500 feet running a 10:00 min pace feels like sub 8 and to make things more challenging the trail is one of the more technical that we run on. It is full of rocks large and small and it is very hard to stay off of them and after a few hours I'm always beyond annoyed at all of the rocks. After about 2 miles Craig slowly started pulling away. I wanted to stay with him, but my heart rate was already up pretty high and I didn't want to push it too hard, so I backed it off a bit and Josh and I ran together to Elk Horn crossing (mile 5.3) where we stopped to take a quick break and cross the stream.

We pushed a slow pace into the Henry's Fork meadow and Craig was already out of sight. It was a beautiful morning and we had the entire place to ourselves. This really is one of my favorite places in Utah with high peaks, wild flowers, trees and a stream running right through the heart of the meadow. It was pretty awesome. At Dollar Lake we saw a few campers and they seemed surprised to see us running. We went around the Lake and tried to find the best route up the ridge to the Gilbert plateau. It was basically straight up the mountain and we just got right to it. Hard! The next two hours were by far the most difficult of the day for me. We were now over 11,000 feet and would be climbing to 13,400 in some of the most difficult terrain in the Uintas. After humping the ridge and gaining the plateau it is basically a massive rock pile with uneven tundra all the way to the top. Slow. We ran where we could, but it wasn't much. We were both feeling the altitude and it just seems to suck the energy right out of you. Slow progress.

We finally ran into Craig coming down off of Gilbert. He was moving well. We chatted for a few minutes and then he took off for the chute on the western spur and we got back to the massive pile of boulders that we had to negotiate to the top. I finally started feeling a little better a few minutes before the summit and Josh was surprised that we were actually there. The summit of Gilbert really is isn't all that great. It is just a really big pile of flat rocks with a little rock shelter right at the top. We stopped for a break and snapped a few pics and then started the tedious slog back down to the chute that would take us back into the Henry's Fork meadow. It seemed to go on forever and both of us ran out of water. Luckily when we found the chute there was a spring flowing in the rocks and we took another break to fill our water and cool off. It was awesome.

We made good time down the chute, although both of us tweaked/banged our ankles on the rocks and a few curse words were said for sure. At the bottom we stopped again to dump sand from our shoes and I ate a bean and cheese burrito. The first half of it tasted amazing, but toward the end my tummy started to protest. Back on the trail and back into a running pace to Gunsight Pass. We stopped just below the pass so Josh could fill one of his bottles in the spring there and it wasn't running very well. We noticed that there was a large black cloud now over Gilbert and moving south toward East Gunsight and also the pass. I was a little worried and as we made our way up the switchbacks it only got larger and darker. Uh oh. Just below the pass Boooom. Rumble. Thunder. Shiiiit! We stopped to assess the situation. We figured we would wait a few minutes to see if this would burn off, but the clouds continued to build and we heard a few more shots of thunder. After about 20 minutes we both realized we were probably done. I did not want to get caught up on the plateau or on the Kings summit ridge in a storm. That would be terrifying. We waited another 25 minutes and finally decided we were done. Well, that blows. We were both feeling solid and would have made it for sure, so we were pretty bummed. We hiked back down off the switchbacks to get our legs back and then slowly ran back to Dollar Lake.

The clouds only got darker and there were several booms of thunder. It also started to rain and it would rain off and on the rest of the way back. We took our time and stopped several times to take shelter under trees from the rain. Back at Elk Horn crossing it was wet and there were several groups of hikers that all seemed rather impressed that we were running. A few of them asked us what we were doing and couldn't believe it. The run back from Elk Horn to the trailhead is and always will be the worst 5 miles of running anywhere. By then your feet and legs are trashed and the rocks are everywhere and the trail goes on forever!!! It is hell. We passed everal groups of hikers that were on their way back to the trailhead and one guy called us "showoffs", so naturally we picked up our pace and powered up a large hill. We kept it up for a few more minutes passing another group before we stopped for a quick break.

With just under two miles to go Craig finally caught up to us and he looked fresh and was moving well. We ran with him for a while but neither of us were in the mood to push the pace at all, so we backed it off again and he pulled away. At the finish Craig looked amazingly good and it was pretty awesome that he got back the FKT. We were bummed that we didn't get the Triple Crown, but I still had one of the most fun days of the year running with Josh in an incredible place. The thought of returning to do Gilbert again is not a pleasant one, so I'm not sure if I will ever attempt the TC again. It has to be the worst mountain I have ever climbed. For only doing 25 miles I was pretty wrecked. This terrain and the altitude beat you up like nothing else. It is unreal. I feel like I just ran 50 miles. Congrats again to Craig. What he did out there is pretty incredible. I'll post up some pics later.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wasatch Ridge Running:

This last Friday I ran to the summit of Timpanogos with Craig and Matt Williams. We left at 9pm and hit the summit in 2:08 which is a pretty decent time considering we weren't pushing it too hard. It was awesome up there. That was my 53rd peak of the year so far and I am on pace to shatter my goal of 75 peaks for the year and I should easily pass last year’s total of 78.

Last Thursday the crew (Craig Josh and Mark) met at 4:30 am to do a fun ridge run above Snowbird. It was a total blast.

Sugarloaf, Baldy, Hidden, AF Twins and Red stack peaks with Craig Josh and Mark:

I think this was the best pre-work run of the year so far. Up at 3:30 to meet the guys at the LCC park n ride at 4:30. We took two cars and left one at Snowbird and then jumped into Craig's and drove to the lower Albion Basin road where we parked and started. As soon as we got out of the car we could smell smoke and it was pretty thick for the first few miles. I felt like I was back at the Ritz dance club smoking cloves circa 1990. My stomach felt like crap and we were all moving slow. At the Catherine Pass trailhead I stopped for a quick break and that seemed to help my stomach, but it didn't settle completely for about an hour. We slogged up to the top of the Apline ridge where we were greeted by the standard wind slap in the face. A few more minutes and we topped out on the first summit of the day (Sugarloaf).

After a quick break we ran the ridge over to Baldy where we stopped again and had a break. I downed a gel and then we ran over to Hidden Peak. I love this ridge! It is one of the most scenic places in the Wasatch. At the top of Hidden Peak we could see the next objective, the two summits of American Fork Twin peaks, the high point in Salt Lake County. The ridge over to AF Twins is a bit sketchy with some scrambling and Jsh decided to head down the road while we continued on the ridge.

I really loved the scrambling across the ridge, but it did slow us down a lot while we negotiated a few precarious spots. Incredible! I'll post some pictures later. After the spicy section it is a scramble up some loose rock and boulders to the top of the east twin. Another sweet view and out 4th peak over 11K for the day. Does it get any better? We ran over and tagged the west twin and then negotiated the ridge over to Red Stack Peak where we took another break.

The descent off of Red Stack is horrendous! Steep, boulders and nothing resembling a trail. It sucked, but after that we picked up the dirt road above the Gad Valley lift and ran it in back to Snowbird. Awesome!
Wahsatch Steeplechase:

The Wahsatch Steeplechase has to be one of the most unique race courses in the state of Utah. It is steep, rugged and challenging and I was really excited to run it. The race starts in Memory Grove and climbs 7.5 miles with over 4,000 ft. of elevation to the summit of Little Black Mountain. From there it is a wicked downhill on some steep technical trails to City Creek Canyon below and then back to Memory Grove. I arrived at the start, got checked in and then hung out for about 30 minutes trying to get loose. It was already warm and I was glad I had on my hydration vest. I chatted with Dan Gardiner for a few minutes while we waited for the gun and I knew he was going to have a great race. My goal was to go under 3 hours, but I knew I would have to run a perfect race to do it and with the warm temps I was getting worried.

My goal was to keep a strong pace all the way to the summit and then really push it on the back half if I was feeling good. I went out pretty fast at the start, but there was a large group that went out really fast and I hung back a bit knowing that there were plenty of steep tough miles ahead. Within a mile I was already passing guys that were walking that had gone out too fast. After about a mile the crowds thinned out some and for the next 2-3 miles I was running with the same group. I was feeling really good so far and really enjoying the run. I didn't hike at all until the first aid station at the bottom of the Pipeline hill where I took a gel and S-cap as I hiked up the steep slope. At the top I picked up a solid run and held it most of the way to the base of Little Black Mountain. During this section I passed 7-8 runners, but I was also passed by a few dudes that were running pretty fast. I wondered if they could keep up the pace.

At the base of Little Black the trail becomes extremely steep and it is almost a necessity to settle into a hike. I was in a group with about 5 other guys and we just pushed it up about as fast as we could hike, but about 3/4 of the way up I passed 3 of them on a very steep slope. As we crested the ridge I got back into a run and was surprised to see so many people still hiking. The ridge is not an easy run. It is craggy with a lot of rocks and I passed a few more guys on my way to the 'climbing' section. Jun told me that in order to go under 3 hours I would have to be on the summit in 1:45 and as I reached the downclimbing sections just off the summit I was right there at 1:45.

There are two pretty steep down climbs that require the use of both hands and feet and the race website rates them at 5.4, but I would say they are solid 4th class, but not too bad. When I got to the first of these two down climbs there was a small queue of people backed up because a girl was frozen on the climb and wouldn't move. One of the guys behind her started to coach her down and a race volunteer was there trying to help her with her foot placements down below, but she just wouldn't go. It was so frustrating as the minutes clicked by and I couldn't do anything but stand there. Finally she made it down, but then proceeded to not move out of the way and ran to the next down climb where she got stuck again. When it was my turn I quickly found a foot and hand hold and jumped down within a few seconds, but I realized I was going to be stuck again and had to wait for a few more minutes again as the she tried to get down the second climb. Luckily it wasn't as long as the first, but she still didn't step aside and allow anyone to pass, so I made a slightly sketchy move to get around her as she was still blocking the path on the ridge and moving slow. I can understand that she wasn't comfortable on the terrain and don't have a problem with that, but she should have stepped aside after the first downclimb to allow the 10ish runners to go by that had been waiting for her.

The rest of the ridge is fairly technical, so I took it easy, but still passed 4-5 runners on my way down to Smugglers Gap. I pushed it faster than I normally would on a training run, but still didn't get out of control or move too fast because there were a lot of rocks and roots and the trail was steep going down to Smugglers. At SG aid I pulled off my hydration vest as I ran up to the table and quickly opened up my bladder to get some water. The volunteers said I couldn't take too much, so I had them put in about 15 ounces and I hurried to get my vest back on and started the run down on the Smugglers Gap trail. I was now alone for the first time during the race and I ran for at least a mile by myself. Again I ran faster than I normally would have, but still stayed in control because the trail is a bit sketchy in places.

After about a mile I saw 3-4 runners ahead and within a few minutes I had passed them. I don't usually pass anyone going downhill, but I was feeling really good. At the bottom there was another aid station and I drank a cup of water and one of Nuun and grabbed a gel as I started to run down the canyon. As I took the gel a pretty fast runner passed me, but I was running a 7:20 pace and didn't want to push it under 7, so I just tried to keep that pace and knew I could do it for the 5+ miles to the finish. My hamstring has been bothering me for the last 4 months and it felt pretty good until this last section. It was pretty sore and my legs were feeling it from the climb up to Little Black, but it never got too bad.

At about mile 12 a girl and guy caught up to me and the 3 of us paced together all the way to the finish. We took turns leading, but we stayed together most of the way back. It was really good to have someone to help push the pace because my legs were really feeling wrecked the last few miles and it was getting hot. I ran out of water with about 3 miles to go and the only thing I drank was a small cup of water at the last aid station. My two new friends didn't stop, so I had to pick it up a bit to catch back up. When we were on the canyon road we were running a solid 7:20 pace, but when we got back onto the trail it was tougher to keep that up and we went over an 8:00 pace for the first time since getting off of the Smugglers trail.

With about a mile to go I was feeling really good, so I picked up the pace and dropped my two pacing friends. I had been passed by a couple of guys and I was trying to finish strong. I ran a high 6, low 7 pace to the finish passing one more guy about 100 meters from the end. I finished in 3:05 which was 5 minutes slower than I had hoped, but I was happy with my race because I pushed it as hard as I could have and felt like I ran the best race that I had in me. I maybe could have pushed it harder on the way up, but I might have blown up on the way down. I guess I need more experience with knowing just how much I can push in these races, but I do know that I gave a solid effort and I am happy with the result. I have no idea what place I came in because I haven't seen the results yet. This is an incredible race and I hope to do it again next year.

June Training:

June was a decent training month for me. I am still trying to overcome some tendonitis in my left hamstring and because it is still nagging I have had to dial back my training more than I would have liked, but the good news is that seems to be working and I can tell that it is finally getting better. With just over two months to go until the Wasatch 100 I really need to amp up my miles and get in some good long training runs over the next two months. Hopefully my hammy will cooperate.

I was finally able to get some sweet Wasatch elevation in June tagging 7 11kers and doing some really fun runs/scrambles/climbs. Probably the best adventure of the month was climbing the South Ridge of Mt. Superior with Matt Van Horn and Craig Lloyd.

Mt. Superior South Ridge with Craig and MattVS:

I was up at 3:30 am to climb Mt. Superior via the South Ridge. The S. Ridge is one of the best mountaineering scrambles in the Wasatch and this would be my second time climbing Superior on this route. The route is very prominent from Snowbird and Alta ski resorts and it starts off with some nice scrambling followed by several exposed knife edges and ends with a loose scramble over a pile of rocks at the summit of Superior. If you don't like heights this is not the route for you. It is very exposed and requires several dodgy moves, but there are ample hand holds and as long as you take your time with route finding it never gets too bad (that is relative).

We started just before 5:00 am at Snowbird and it was cold (35ish) and I forgot my gloves. Ahh Shite! We crossed the street and bushwhacked our way up to the lower ridge where there are several ledges to work your way up. The first several hundred feet aren't too bad, but there are a lot of loose rocks and you have to take care and make sure of your hand and feet placements. I was a bit behind the other guys most of the day and the downside was they kicked off some rocks. Craig knocked off a few that I heard coming and I ducked below a bigger rock and could hear them flying down right next to me. Nothing serious. After about 5 pictures with my camera I realized that I didn't have the memory card (shit again) so I would have to take pics with my iphone. Not good.

After about 40 minutes the fun really began as the ridge turns into a knife edge and the scrambling becomes much tougher and a lot scarier. There is plenty of exposure on both sides and I just tried to have good hand and foot placements as I made my way across. About half way up there is a sign dedicated to Hartman Rector, a man that lost his life climbing on this ridge several years back. It is a good reminder of the seriousness of the terrain. I spent most of the morning trying to catch up to the guys and they were nice enough to wait. The serious scrambling went for about an hour although it seemed like we had been on it for hours. There are 2-3 really scary sections and for the first time in a long time I heard Jun say "That is scary" and he said it a few times. He doesn't say that often.

After working our way around the crux section it is a scramble over some very loose rocks up to the summit. The guys got ahead again and they made it to the top and went over to tag Monte Cristo while they waited for me. We all arrived back at Superior at about the same time and I realized I was out of water and my energy was really low, so I took a gel. We took the East ridge back and it is not one of my favorite places in the Wasatch. It is steep and very loose and you have to take it easy with all of the slippery rocks. I hate it, but there aren't many options up there. Again the guys got ahead and waited for me up on a small peak just above Cardiff Pass.

At the pass I emptied several rocks out of my shoes and then we ran all the way back down to the canyon road. Again they got ahead of me, but I wasn't going to run fast with all of the rocks on that trail. The trail ends right at Alta ski resort so I ran the canyon road back to Snowbird. The guys were out of sight by now and just before I reached the parking area they came to pick me up. What an awesome day and experience. The South Ridge is challenging and scary, but it is incredible to work your way up that thing and finish it off. I give it 5 stars. Back down at the LCC park n ride Matt and I both had a dirtbag shower and got ready for work laughing the whole time. It was a perfect morning.

Matt put together a sweet video of our climb. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Zion traverse- Pacing Craig Lloyd on his Zion double with Craig, Matt Williams, MattVH and Josh Greenwell:

The Zion traverse is a 48 mile run across Zion National Park and it has become a popular destination in the last few years for ultra runners that want to test their skills in some of the most scenic and difficult terrain in Utah. Last year our crew attempted the traverse, but we were forced to bail out after about 20 miles due to heavy rain and snow. This year we got our revenge and there was a twist- Craig would be doing the first ever double traverse. There are several things that make this run challenging. There is significant elevation gain and the climbs are steep and tough. Of the 48 miles I would say at least half of them are on technical trails. Some are rocky and rugged and there is several miles of beach sand that is almost impossible to run in. There are also several rivers and streams to cross as well.

We spent the night in Cedar City in a quaint little place with character... ok really it was a dive, but we weren't there for 5 star amenities we were there to tackle the traverse and a positive- I got to share a bed with MattVH. I enjoyed it. I actually slept better than I thought I would, but I still only got about 5 hours of sleep and since I had been traveling for work all week I didn't have a lot of sleep in the bank, but that didn't matter, once the alarm went off my adrenaline kicked in and I knew I would be fine.

Craig, MattW and Josh started at the Kolob (west) entrance at just after 6:00 am on Friday. MattVH and I would drive the car around to the Hop Valley trailhead where we would meet them at mile 13. After getting gas and a bite to eat we were at the trailhead about 25 minutes before Jun showed up. We ran down the trail a few hundred yards to see if we could see them and soon Craig approached looking strong. I took his camera to snap a few pictures and while trying to run, turnaround and get a good picture at the same time I tripped into a pile of soft sand and also a cactus. I got sand in the camera and it was out of commission for the rest of the trip. Craig filled his bottles and ate some food and after about 15 minutes there was no sign of the others, so he asked Matt to gear up and run with him and after a few minutes Matt was ready and they took off. I waited and waited and after almost an hour after Craig arrived MattW showed up looking trashed. He has been dealing with the flu all week and he just didn't have any energy. He was shocked that Josh hadn't arrived and he said that he had been behind both guys, so we started thinking that he probably missed the Hop Valley turn and after talking with a few other groups that had been on the trail we confirmed that.

We talked with a park ranger about an hour later and he gave us the number to call for dispatch in case we needed to call out SAR. We were pretty confident that Josh would be ok, but we had no idea where he was. About two hours after Craig had left some horsewomen showed up with a horse trailer and we talked to them and they told us they would look for Josh and we gave them my cell number. At 11:30 I was all geared up to run in to look for Josh and Matt was going to leave and go meet the other guys at the Grotto as they would be expecting us there around 1:00 with supplies. Just as I was about to leave one of the horse ladies called me to let us know they had come across Josh and he should be there soon. I decided to run out and meet him and run him in. He indeed had missed the Hop Valley trail and spent a few hours trying to find the right trail. He ended up with 26 miles and he was pretty sure he was done. We were relieved to have him back.

We went to the Grotto to meet the guys and I kept my running clothes on and prepared to go in case something happened to MattVH. When Craig arrived he looked terrible. He was dehydrated and it was about as bad as I have seen him look. He laid down and we went to work getting him food, water and taking care of a small blister on his foot. After a long rest he limped into the bathroom with his head down and looking pretty bad. About 5 minutes later he appeared with a smile and a new bounce in his step. He was back. Matt VH arrived about 10 minutes after Craig and he was feeling good, so I wouldn't have to start running until the east entrance at mile 48.

After the guys left we made our way over to the east entrance where the trail was closed and there was a sign that said: Trail closed for prescribed burn. WTH? We were trying to figure out what to do and a ranger showed up to remove the sign and told us that they were postponing it indefinitely because of dry conditions- Whew! We then waited for well over an hour for the guys to show up. They both looked pretty good. Matt was done and Craig took a few minutes to eat, drink and rest and then we started together on his second traverse.

The East Rim trail in Zion is probably the most scenic trail I have ever run on and once again it didn't disappoint. Craig and I chatted away the whole time. We got into a really good groove, running all of the flats and downhills and power hiking the hills, although we did run up several of the rollers and Craig looked strong. We stopped to fill up some water at the spring around mile 5 and saw a large wild turkey run across the trail. Awesome. The run down to the Weepig Rock trail was incredible and just as cool as I remember it from the year before. I tried to take a lot of pictures and Craig was looking good running all of the downhills strong.

Down in the canyon we got into a good running pace and took it into the Grotto where we were surprised to see that the guys were not there yet, so we sat down for a rest and after about 15 minutes we started to get worried. We could not go any further because the guys had our warm gear for the night and I needed more food and gels. After 17 minutes they finally showed up on the bus and had some much needed supplies. We were surprised to learn that MattVH had decided to climb Angel's Landing and he was probably on his way back down. After downing a sandwich, chips, cookies and some Pepsi I was ready to go. I also put on my tights and long sleeve shirts because I had become chilled waiting for the guys to show up. After about 5 minutes of hiking I realized I was too hot and probably shouldn't have put on the tights.

Just after starting up the Angels Landing trail we ran into MattVH who had just gone up to the summit and was now on his way down. He's an animal! Most people would be crashed out in the back of the van after running 35 miles, but not Matt. He can't pass up the chance to tag a cool summit. I love it. Craig pushed a hard fast pace all the way up and he looked really strong. It seemed like we were moving up as fast as we did last year and Craig had an additional 48 miles on his legs. Awesome. The next several miles of the trail are mostly uphill and the climbs are relentless. We pushed a really good pace for several miles, but eventually Craig started having some tummy issues and that was the only thing that could slow him down. At one point he laid down on the trail and I told him to take a couple of minutes to rest. I knew he was feeling like shite because I have never seen him lay down during a run. I knew he needed it. After a few minutes he got up and both of us agreed that he would just take it easy, but as long as he was moving forward it would be better than laying down. After about 10 minutes he was able to shake it off and he was back. About that same time I started to feel quite sick. I could easily have puked, but I tried really hard to keep it in because I new I would need the calories later in the night. At mile 17 for me and 65 for Jun we stopped at a spring to fill up our water and I put in 60 ounces. I thought for sure that would be enough because it was now pretty cool and we wouldn't see the sun for several hours.

Just after the spring stop I told Craig I needed to stop, so I sat down on a log and tried not to puke. I was sitting there shivering and feeling like total crap and I was thinking this is hell. Finally I decided that I just needed to get up and get moving, so we walked for a few minutes and then I started to run. I figured I would be feeling crappy whether I was running or walking, so I might as well be running. Luckily after about 5-10 minutes my stomach came around and I felt great the rest of the night. We think that eating the big dinner and then pushing all of the hills just didn't sit well with either of our stomachs.

The next 10 miles on the West Rim trail seemed to go on forever. We would run all of the flats and downhills and then hike up the steep stuff. We were both moving well and we chatted away most of the time. It was a real grind though and the miles weren't easy. At one point we came around and we could see the lights from St. George way in the distance. It was cool and reminded me of our remote condition. Speaking of remote other than seeing a few people at the Grotto and two groups on the Angel's Landing trail we hadn't seen another soul on the trail. How incredible is that?

Eventually we came to the end of the West Rim trail and we stopped to take a break. I had two gels left and about 20 ounces of water and I knew I would run out of both going the next 9 miles to the crew car at the Hop Valley trailhead. I had a gel and we took a few minutes to rest and then we were back at it moving toward the connector trail. This was one of my favorite sections because it was slightly downhill for a few miles and we got into a really good groove, but eventually the trail became really rocky and annoying and it slowed us down a lot. We had to walk in several places where there were just too many rocks and we were stumbling every few steps.

We got on the connector trail and Craig did an excellent job of keeping us on it. He was still moving very well and I was amazed at how good he looked with so many miles on his legs. We didn't talk much on this section. I think we were both so ready for a break and it was a total grind the last two miles. This section is tough. We had to go 23 miles between crew stops and I was now out of water and gels and feeling like I needed both. After what seemed like an eternity we came onto the road and it was a short run to the trailhead where the guys (minus MattVH) were waitng for us to take care of us. We both sat down and MattW and Josh took care of everything for us. They got our packs ready and got us food and drinks and took care of us. They were great. MattVH had left several hours earlier with his remaining 13 miles for the traverse. He thought we would catch up to him and he thought we would make it in a lot sooner.

After a pretty long stop we put on our warmest clothes and took off on the final 13 miles to complete our traverse. The first few miles of the Hop Valley trail are tough. It is basically like trying to run in soft beach sand. It fills your shoes and makes it almost impossible to run. I had to stop and dump sand out of my shoes countless times during the traverse, but it is particularly bad on this section. Eventually we came out into one of the prettiest meadows I have ever seen. We had to cross the creek several times and there was no way to keep from getting your feet wet. After a few crossings we noticed someone a few hundred yards ahead in the meadow wandering around. I thought it was another runner coming from the west entrance because I could see the hydration vest. As we got closer I noticed that it was MattVH. WT?? He had become lost in the middle of the night, got confused and thought he was on the wrong trail. He had been wandering around for hours and was very happy to see us. He looked really tired. I was starting to wonder what else could go wrong before we completed this thing. Matt was happy to join us and we continued on making a few more creek crossings and eventually making our way to the trail junction.

We had to cross the stream here and then we were on the final stretch of trail that would take us up to Lee's Pass and the finish. We stayed together for a few miles, but as soon as the trail turned north Craig put it into a gear that we couldn't match and I watched as he moved ahead and there wasn't anything I could do about it. I tried to stay with him, but I just didn't have the legs. Wow. I also dropped Matt about the same time. The next three miles were just hell. HELL! The worst part was me thinking I was closer to the pass than I really was, so around every bend I kept thinking I would see the cars. I wanted to be done and it seemed like the last few miles went on forever. The last one was particularly bad, probably the longest most cruel mile of my life. I was starving and kept thinking about burgers, fries, pizza and donuts. Oh man! I wanted so much to be DONE. I finally heard the boys yelling at me and it gave me a bit of a boost and I kicked it into the finish. What an amazing run. The views along the entire trail are some of the best I have ever seen. The pictures just don't do it justice. Congrats to Craig for finishing a double, he is in amazing shape right now and he should have an excellent Wasatch 100.

April training:

April was a horrible training month for me. The day before we ran the "Wedge" in February I ran up Lake Mountain with my friend Nate Greenwood. We had a solid day and I pushed it pretty hard, but on the way down I felt some tightness in my hamstring. It was tight and sore the rest of the day and I thought about bailing out on the Wedge run, but I just couldn't do it because I wanted to run with the boys down there. On the Wedge run it was tight almost from the start, but it didn't start hurting until about 5 miles in and from there it got progressively worse until I took some Ibuprofen around mile 20. The Ibuprofen really helped and I was able to run it in strong, but my hammy has been bothering me ever since. In March I ran 31 miles on Antelope Island and then paced Matt 28 on the Buffalo run, so that didn't help it, but it never seemed to get worse. I did take it easy for a few weeks in April and it seemed to help it a lot, but it still hasn't gone away.

At the beginning of the year I made a goal to run at least one ultra (over 31 miles) distance every month for the entire year. I just wasn't able to pull it off in April, so I'll have to make up for it by doing two in one month at some point. I have also switched back to running in the Brooks Cascadia. While I really like the Altra Lone Peak, I did notice that I was injured in some fashion almost the entire time that I was wearing them (lower back and hammy). While it might not be related, I had to go back to Brooks to see if that would help. So far I have been really happy with the switch, although I could go back to the Lone Peak at some point because I think it is an awesome shoe.
March 24, 2012- Pacing Matt Van Horn on the Buffalo Run 100:

I had an incredible experience pacing Matt on his first 100. I met Matt Williams  out there about 8:00 pm on Friday. We had to get out there early because they closed the gate to the island at 8:00 pm. On a hunch we decided to check the aid station near the fence (about mile 44ish) and remarkably Matt was just coming up to the road when we got out of the car. We walked with him for about a half mile and had a good chat. Then we went over the the campground a few miles away to cheer him on again. After that we went back to the start/finish to wait for him to come in. We got to chat with several runners and crews and eventually Matt came in looking good.

MattW went out with him to pace and I hung out in the tent helping other runners that came in. Eventually a friend of Craig and MattW (Tyler) came in looking like crap. He is 18 and this was his first 100. He couldn't keep anything down and had been puking and was dehydrated and cold. His Mom and supporters told him that 50 miles was good enough and they started to tell him to quit. I went over to offer some advice and tried to be positive with him. I spent the next hour with the aid station doctor talking with Tyler and his family. I told him to warm up, get some food and water down and try to get moving. Two of his friends showed up and offered to pace him the rest of the way. I thought he was going to give it another shot and I wished him luck and then went to my car to catch a little sleep. I found out later that Tyler never got back out and DNFd. I am sure it was a great learning experience for him.

I tried sleeping in the back of my car, but it was tough and I was restless. I finally dozed after about 45 minutes and I was able to get about 90 minutes of rest before Matt knocked on my window about 2:30 am. I got dressed and drove over to our meeting spot (the short out and back on the east side of the island). I waited for about 15 minutes and they finally showed up. Matt was still looking good, but I could tell he was tired and he said he needed to walk for a bit because his stomach was unsettled. For the next 11 miles we would walk for a few minutes and then run for a few. A couple of times we kept the pace going for about a half mile and before the Frary aid we actually ran for about 3/4 of a mile without stopping. We laughed a lot. I tried to joke around as much as possible and even though Matt was feeling like shite we were having a blast.

We tried to keep the aid stops as short as possible. We would try to get Matt everything he needed and then kept moving. We hit the ranch aid just before sunrise and Matt was getting cold, so he put on some warm clothes and I rubbed out his legs. We had the two aid station workers laughing pretty hard. So far we had not been passed by any runners, but about 10 minutes after we left the ranch we saw the first runner and he was looking strong. Matt started to bonk a bit over the next 5 miles and for good reason. He was over 85 miles in and had been awake for 24 hours. I tried to get him to run as much as possible and eventually the guy that we passed came into view. He obviously didn't spend much time at the ranch. I kept telling Matt they were coming, hoping it would motivate him to move faster, but I could tell he was just wrecked. He did pick up the pace just enough to stay ahead of the other runner to the Frary aid station. We stopped there and ate pancakes, sausage and Coke. Mmmmm. After a brief rest we got moving again. The sun was up and it was definitely getting warmer. About a half mile out of the aid and we could hear and see the runners high on the hill for the other races. There wasn't anybody within a mile of us, but I still tried to keep Matt moving fast. We joked and laughed some more and the next 5 miles actually seemed to go by pretty quick, at least for me, but I am sure Matt would disagree.

The 50 mile runners started coming into view and they looked fast and fresh. We saw Bryce and he was looking strong. I think he finished 7th in the 50. Awesome! There is a nice little hill after the fence line aid station and we grabbed some food and walked the hill. I could tell that Matt was really feeling it here. An older guy passed us and he was moving well. After you get to the top of the hill you make your way over to Buffalo Point. It seemed like Matt was really having a hard time and I just tried to stay positive and make him laugh. For the most part it worked.

At the campground aid (mile 96) we saw Matt's mom and Dad and I could tell that it lifted his spirits a lot, but I think he was looking forward to seeing his wife and boys. Going around the point was slow. I took in the incredible views that I didn't get to look at too much a few weeks ago because I was trying to keep up with Craig and Matt W. What an amazing part of the island. As we rounded the point I tried to keep pushing Matt as much as I could, but he was very fatigued. Eventually we saw a runner coming from behind and he was looking strong. He was closing the gap quick and I told Matt we needed to beat him in. The next 2-3 miles to the finish were the most exciting of the whole race. After prodding Matt for a few minutes he came to life and started to run. It was a 12 min pace and soon became 11. A few more minutes and we saw the 10's for the first time in hours. I would yell out our pace every time we broke another minute barrier.

The other runner seemed to be gaining for about a mile, but eventually our pace was strong enough that he wasn't making up any ground, but I didn't tell Matt that. I told Matt he was still coming and looked strong. It was fun to see Matt pushing it so hard at mile 99. We came to a pretty decent hill with less than a mile to go and I told Matt to hike it strong and he did and we ran hard on the dirt road back to the finish. I finally told Matt the hill killed the other runner and I could see the relief on his face and we both knew he wasn't going to get passed. One more quick walk break to catch his breath and then we ran it into the finish. We passed Eric Jeppson who had just finished the 25K and said hi and then Matt's wife and kids were there with posters to welcome him in. It was pretty awesome and I am just happy I got to experience part of it. Congrats to Matt for finishing his first 100 in under 24 hours (23:20).

March 9, 2012- Antelope Island 50K with Craig Lloyd, Matt Williams and Josh Greenwell

I had the most enjoyable run out on Antelope Island with the crew. We started at White Rock Bay and our goal was to run the 25K course with the out and back added on for 19 miles and from there see how much time we had and hopefully get in a 50K. It was a touch cool at the start, but we were all wearing shorts and it was almost perfect weather for running. It was really fun for the first 5 miles just chatting with the fellas and running at a nice easy pace. Everyone pushed it up the hill to the Elephant Head aid area and I dropped to a power hike to save my legs. From there we dropped into the valley and we spread out for the first time. Jun took the lead and I tried to keep pace while Dors and Jsh were just behind. We were all running about a 7:30 pace and it felt easy.

Climbing out of the valley on the switchbacks was really fun and we were all moving well. We all ran the entire way up and that was the first time I have ever run that section without hiking. At the top I stopped to pee and Dors and Jsh never came, so I went back to see what was up and Jsh was cramping, so we slowed for a bit so he could stretch it out. There was a bit of mud and snow over the next half mile, but nothing to slow us much. It was really the only place we encountered any mud all day. Back at Elephant Head Jsh decided to go back to the car because of his cramps and sore ankle and we continued with the out and back to Elephant Head. On the run out I stopped to pick up an S-Cap and the other guys got a little bit ahead and I just tried to keep up. It was really fun and the views are incredible. At the turnaround I was still a little behind the guys and they slowly put some distance on me and I would be running by myself all the way back to the car.

My hamstring that has been bothering me started getting tight and I slowed down. After the Elephant Head aid area you run down a pretty steep hill and at the bottom I stopped to take some Ibuprofen. I was able to get back into a pretty solid pace, but the other guys were about a half mile ahead. I just cranked up my tunes and had a nice run back to the car. After a few more miles my hammy seemed to be getting a little better, but it was still tight. I made it to the cars (mile 19) about 8 minutes after Jun and Dors and I had to hurry and cram some food in as fast as I could. French toast, sausage, V8 and Pepsi. Mmmmmm. We left the aid stop and ran west around Buffalo Point. My legs were a bit stiff at first, but they slowly came around and felt a lot better.

Jun pushed a pretty solid pace and I really enjoyed the views going around the point. Incredible! The views all day were unreal, but I really enjoyed this area as I had never been over there before. When we came around to the north side we picked up the road and ran over to Buffalo Bay. Jun kept a solid pace and again put some distance on us. Matt wasn't far behind, but they dropped me a little there. We picked up the trail that goes south to the Ranch and ran that back to the fence where we turned and headed west again in the direction of the cars.

We hiked up the steeper hill there for a few minutes and hit our 26.2 point. At the top we decided to go to the top of Buffalo Point or I should say Jun decided that. Dors and I were looking up there and thinking it was really far and high up, but we thought we could give it a shot. The run on the road over to the point was awesome. We were all feeling great and we had a very solid pace. To get to the trail to the point you have to run up a very steep road and all three of us were strong all the way to the top. I kept running when we got to the trailhead and tried to catch Jun who was ahead. We ran about 3/4 of the trail all the way to the summit. Awesome! We were all feeling great. We hung out on top for a while and took some pics.

The run down was fun. We kept a strong pace all the way and even pushed it at times. When were were coming close to the cars we decided to take the longer route to get a full 31 miles for an ultra distance. When we got back to the parking lot I had to run zig zags and some circles to finally hit exactly 31, which I hit at the car door. What an incredible day with great friends. It was one of the best runs I have ever had. 5:28 minutes total time.