Sunday, November 29, 2009

Moab 50K

The Moab 50K course is one of the most scenic I have ever run. The race takes place just outside of Moab, Utah. The area lacks forests altogether, but makes up for it with canyons, cliffs, rocks, sand, cactus and some brush ... and spectacular views that force you to pause and wonder what it's all about.

I met up with Scott Kruis and Nok, and their friend Laura from Wyoming, on race morning. Scott and I did the 50K, Nok and Laura did the 10 miler. The race also offers up a 20 miler. We lucked out with the weather ... no rain and a nice cool day.

The race was relatively hard, with two tough climbs of 1,000' each ... that second one only a few kilometres from the finish. Much of the course was technical, more of a scramble, but it was really well marked. There were some sandy stretches that made me glad I had gaiters. In a few areas, ropes and ladders were provided to help get up and down rock faces. I'd rank the race as tougher than the Mac but maybe a bit easier than Orcas.

Moab might be the most dangerous race I've ever done. Lots of places to get hurt if you're not careful. At one point two runners ahead of me missed a turn off of a cliff face ... by the time they had realized their mistake the ledge they were on was just a sliver and they were slipping off of it. They were just able to inch their way back without slipping off completely. It made for some scary moments.

After my troubles at McKenzie and Bizz Johnson I decided to run this race with the goal of finishing in good shape. I wasn't worried about time ... I rarely checked my watch, and when I did it was usually just to check on altitude. I kept a moderate pace the whole way, walked the two big climbs, took my time at aid stations, and didn't scrimp on gels or salt. That approach paid off. No hip or calf trouble. I finished the race feeling good in 6:08. I was really happy with the way things went. Scott finished in 7:45ish, getting the sub-8 he wanted. Nok and Laura finished their 10 miles in fine form too.

This was a neat and different kind of race. The volunteers were great. The race director (and much of his crew) is from Quebec ... he is an enthusiastic fella and did a great job.

Some pictures by Scott and Nok:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

McKenzie 50K: Bonkarama

Well, this was a rough one.

There was a good contingent from Corvallis and area, including Guy, Scott L, Scott K, Todd, Mike, Mikio, Gerhard, Will and Jason. Good to see them all again.

My goal was to come in under 4:45, trying to get a 50K PR. I started out slow, real slow. The first part of the course was fairly technical … winding round a bunch of lava roc. At the turn-around, at the first aid station, most of the Corvallis crew was ahead of me ... good to see friendly faces passing by. As I passed Guy, he held up his hands … they were full of blood from a nasty fall. Ouch.

I kept an easy pace until about 12K … my average pace at that point was 6:20 min/km. I decided to ramp things up a bit. I would have to work now if I wanted to get that down to 5:42 .. … the average pace I would need to break 4:45. So, I cranked it up. My calf was complaining, right from the get go actually. But the pain was not getting worse, which I thought was a good thing. Other than that I was feeling good. I started to pass folks.

Things were going well until about 40K. Then in the space of a kilometre or so, the wheels came off the cart. My calf seized up, my stomach started with the hee-bee-gee-bees and I just ran out of juice. At this point, it was a struggle to run at all, even though the course was very easy from here on in. I had to take walking breaks, even on level ground. Nasty business. Haven’t felt this bad since SOB last year. People I had passed earlier on were now passing me. Arggg … I hate when that happens. It’s funny … I did STORMY just last month … 50 miles on a much tougher course … and I felt way better at the end of that than I did right now. It’s all about pace I guess.

I managed to catch up to Guy. His hands were a bloody, dirty mess from that initial and subsequent falls. Skin hanging off. But he was still going. We trudged along together for a while, each of us whining about our respective misery. With a few klicks to go I pulled away from him, albeit it real slowly. The death march continued. My GPS said about 2 klicks to go when I came up to this guy who said 60 yards to the finish! What a pleasant surprise. I managed to fire things up a bit and actually ran across the finish line. Finished in 5:11. I turned around to find that Guy was right behind me … just a few seconds or so back. Had the course been much longer, he would have passed me.

So … I'm glad this one is over. However, the McKenzie course is really nice, and I hope to get back for some fun running some time. Marilyn and the dogs would like it too. The best part of the day was that Guy finished … this was his first ultra. I was real happy for him. And Scott L managed the PR he was hoping for, winning a wager with Gaby and some beer in the process. I think everyone else did real well too. And while we were doing this, John and Ken were on their way to conquering Wasatch, with the help of pacers Gaby, Dave and Sander. Yup, a good weekend for Corvallis trail runners.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

On STORMY, coming home, Mary's Peak, Waldo

A busy two weeks.

Two Saturdays ago ran the STORMY 50 mile ultra out of Squamish BC (Squamish Test Of Running Mettle, Ya!). A nice run. Did it in 9:05. Better than I was expecting. Placed 13th overall. No big issues, but one of my right quads was complaining near the end.

Two days after that, Java and I returned home to Corvallis. For the first time in four months, saw the sun set over Mary's Peak. The pack is back together.

Two days after that, ran Bald Hill/Mulkey Ridge with Guy and Gaby. So good to run with them again.

One day after that the Corvallis crew had a nice 'welcome home' run for me up Dimple hill. Too sweet.

Two days after that, the crew ran Mary's Peak. It was beautiful up there.

One week after that, I worked the Twins Peak aid station at Where's Waldo. What a great crew. Lots of fun!

It is SO good to be back.

Working Twins Peak station

Twins Peak babes

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nice tail

I ran the 5 Peaks Mount Seymour 12K race yesterday. A very, very technical course on the side of Mount Seymour. Total climb was about 2100'. A very popular race. There were about 200 runners doing the 12, and probably as many doing the 6K. Both groups started together, so it was hard to know who you were competing against. They sent us out in waves which further complicated that.

I've not been training at altitude and could tell. The lungs had a hard time keeping up with what the legs were calling for. I was passed several times along the way. I lack the agility it takes to move quickly across this kind of trail ... and I'm too chicken to risk spraining an ankle.

The last couple of kilometres I spent trying to keep up with a gal who was very good at navigating the terrain. I was pushing hard while trying not to stumble. The trail opened up in the last few hundred metres before the finish. I just managed to pass her and heard her say 'Nice tail'. Made my day.

I finished in 1:17, placing 36 overall. The best time was an amazing 0:56 ... how someone can move that fast over trail like that I'll never know.

Afterward went for a grind to the top of Mount Seymour (4600'). Beautiful views of the mountains and coast. Then went to the Endowment Lands for an easy 20K. All in all, a good running day.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Corvallis Crew on Iris Meadow

Got these pics from Gaby today of the crew on Iris Meadow. Sweet.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pacific Spirit 10K Trail

Well, this is my first race since getting back to Canada. A 10K race through the Endowment Lands. The course was relatively flat, not too technical. I've run most of it many times in training since getting here, so knew what to expect. There were a lot of runners, so they staggered the start. Good thing, otherwise, it would have been crowded on parts of the course. I felt good and strong the whole way. No problems at all. I finished in 42:28 ... not as fast as I'd hoped, but good enough for 4th overall. I didn't get chicked ... a sure sign that I'm not in Oregon anymore :(

Today was the Mac. I really miss the Corvallis crew.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Way Too Cool 50K

Ran the Way Too Cool 50K down in Cool, California this past weekend. This was my first ultra in California. Traveled with Gaby and Dave. Had a blast ... it was a lot of fun. We drove down Friday, raced Saturday, drove back Sunday.

There was a big turn out for this race ... 400+ runners. The weather was great. Not too hot or cold. No rain during the race. The course was mostly single track, about 3,600' of climb in total. There was a mile or two of road at the start, which was good for getting runners sorted out before hitting the trail. A few minor stream crossings. There were two pretty big climbs, and several smaller ones, that required walking. Some of the downhills were very technical ... and hard on the quads. I took one tumble ... nothing serious. I was doing okay until about 40K when I started running out of gas. The last few klicks were a struggle. Finished in about 5:20 ... I was targeting 5 hours, but I think I went out too fast. Will have to pace myself better. Gaby did real well, finishing in 4:40ish, third in her age class. Dave finished shortly after me. Scott and Nok were there too, as was Meghan who also did really well.

Pics by Scott and Nok

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Orcas Island 50K

Ran the Orcas 50K last Saturday. Orcas Island is a neat little island in the San Juan's, Washington State. This was an awesome trip. Marilyn came too and we traveled with Gaby and Guy. Had a blast. Ken, Dennis and Clem were also there.

The course was the toughest 50K I've done so far. I think about 7,000' of climb. Took me 6 hours, 44 minutes. Finished about mid-pack. Ken and Dennis did very well ... I think they finished in something like 6:22. Gaby and Guy did the 25K and both finished very well too. Gaby finished 8th, Guy finished 17th ... awesome. I was under-prepared for this. I really struggled up the two big climbs. My hamstrings were sore right from the start ... too much stretching in the days before the race. The worst climb was up the power line trail. This thing ran pretty much perpendicular to the contours. At some points it was steep enough to need all fours. But the downhill from this was a nice, gradual descent through some beautiful rain forest. The climb up Mount Constitution was slow and agonizing but worth it too ... beautiful views of Mount Baker. It was great to see Clem there ... he was manning the aid station. I was freezing up top there ... could have used an extra layer. I was dripping blood from a finger I cut in a tumble ... they kindly patched me up ... it was a really small cut, but blood was getting on everything. There was some snow we had to run through as well. I also ran out of water on the way up, but that was my fault ... there was a water jug at the start of the climb, but I ignored it.

Some pics are posted here. Ken has posted some nice pics too.

Marilyn fell in love with the island. Wants to move there. I wouldn't mind.

Saw lots of neat stuff, but I think the best was the pod of killer whales we saw on the ferry ride back to the mainland. Awesome.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

24 Easy Pieces

Nice, easy, slow, solo 24K today. Two times around Bald Hill and the ridge. 2.5 hours. Took Java for piece, then Kiira. It's a joy to run with them, 'cause I can see how much they like it. Kiira found a big wonking stick that she carried all the way back home. It must have weighed half as much as her. What a pistol.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Taper Time

Last long run before Orcas yesterday. Guy and I covered some 38K in 4.75 hours. Including breaks, we were on our feet 5.5 hours. Good solid day. Ran into Linda, Dave, Scott and Peter on our way up to McCullough Peak. Parted company there. We went on to Alien, Shave & A Haircut, to Dimple Hill, Dan's, Horse. Ran into Gaby going down Dan's trail. Then back into the maze. Got lost. The GPS and map helped us sort things out. Up Lovely Rita, New Missing Link, then back down Extendo. A good time.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

LR #3

Great long run yesterday with Guy. We started up Extendo to the top of McCullough Peak. Down Shave & A Haircut, to Dimple Hill, down Dan's, up Horse, then back the way we came, pretty much. Total distance was 34 km. The GPS said 9,200' feet of climb, but it over estimates climb by at least a factor of 2, so we'll call it 4,600'. On our feet for 4:15 hours. Not feeling too badly today.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

LR # 2

Awesome long run yesterday in the Mac Forest. Big crew for this one. Gaby, Linda and I started early ... 7:00 ... doing the Nettleton loop .... still dark enough for headlamps. We got back to the Saddle at 8:00 to find about 10 folks waiting for us and ready to rock. Up Nettleton to Powerderhouse to Peavy and thereabouts. Then back to the Saddle. Gaby and Meghan set a hardy pace that I had trouble matching. I ran another piece with Ken ... up to Dimple Hill and back. 38K total in 3:40. I was completely drained ... definitely a good one. Maybe I'll be ready for the 50K at Orcas after all.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

First Long Run of 2009

Decent long run yesterday up Bald Hill and the ridge. Big crew for this one, including Guy, Gaby, Dave, Linda, Meghan, Sue and a couple of gals I don't think I've met before ... Nancy and Sarah (?). My stomach was causing me some grief. Still I managed 32K ... did a last rep solo after everyone parted company. It was a real mud-fest, especially on the east trail off the hill. Not sure I'll be ready for the full 50K at Orcas Island ... might just do the 25K.

Today M, Beth and I drove up as far as we could up Mary's Peak. The road was treacherous & I had visions of slipping off and rolling on down to where no-one would ever find us. That didn't happen. We did a good hike ... but the snow never got deep enough for snow shoeing. The girls had a blast. Looking forward to a trip to Hoodoo.