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Posts Tagged ‘running’

For the first weekend in November, Tara and I traveled a slow and snowy I-70 out to Utah for some warm days in the desert. Our main goal was Saturday’s Moab Trail Marathon, of which I was facing up to my actual fitness level and moving to the half marathon course and Tara would be running the 5k for the 3rd year straight. I hadn’t run much for the week before the race, so my body should have been well rested, but I wasn’t feeling super strong going into the event. My “A” goal was to have a fun and enjoyable race.

So I guess it was good that I started in wave 3 of 5 and spent the first 4 uphill miles jogging well within my comfort zone, passing other runners who went out way too fast and generally settling in to my form and pace. Full race GPS track right here. Toward the later half of the Pritchett Canyon climb I started to pass more and more runners, especially on some of the steeper scrambling sections of rock. For the slight downhill into the first aid station from miles 4-5.5 I took it easy and ran with one or two others and chatted. A quick swig of sports drink and I started semi-hard on the rolling terrain that followed, passing quite a few runners, including one sporting a I believe in The Blerch tee.

Sometime between miles 6-9 I got frustrated with the number of runners I was having to pass on semi-technical trails until I remembered that I was the main problem, starting in wave 3 (which may have made sense for a half-marathon effort, but didn’t for my quicker half pace). I will say this course is beautiful, but technical enough that I didn’t get to look around and enjoy the scenery.

Coming into the 9.6 mile aid station I ran into Chris and Brad who were out looking for me and found themselves helping an injured runner descend some steep cliff bands. With their cheering I took another hit of sports drink, then turned right on the half course for a bit of a road climb that I ran semi-hard.

Our next bit of trail had us passing some mountain bikers (on a technical downhill that they were walking their bikes), then in and out of the Kane Creek (cold and mid-thigh deep in spots on me). With only a couple miles to go I was getting into full competition mode, the constant passing of other runners fueling my speed. The creek definitely slowed everyone down (it’s hard running on completely numb feet!), but as we moved out of the creek for the final road and last trail sections I started to push my pace even faster. I also got a little spiteful, picking out runners ahead and passing them for minor reasons (“he’s wearing tights, can’t let him beat me”, “that guy with the hipster ‘stash is getting passed”). Not entirely proud of this behavior, or the two ladies who I sprinted past in the last 50 meters, but the 2:13:16 time felt good for this technical and hilly of a course. This was also the US Trail Half Marathon National Championship, which I guess means my 138th place finish sorta means I’m the 138th best trail half marathoner in the country (if you can believe that). Full results right here.

Other than the cold creek crossings, this was a wonderful course. I’d certainly consider heading back next year and seeing if I can’t compete at the full marathon distance.

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Tara and I volunteered to help crew and pace Chris at his first 100 mile ultramarathon, the Leadville 100. The race started at 4am from the town of Leadville, an event we missed as we were still sleeping in another mountain town over the divide then. We easily found the Pipeline crew access point (2 miles north of the Half Pipe aid station – no crew allowed there) and met Brad and others crewing for Chris and soon our runner showed up.

He was in and out pretty quickly and our group packed up to head to the 40 mile point of the race at the town of Twin Lakes. There we setup on the edge of town with the gear we could haul to the site from a mile or so out of town, which was the closest we could park.

Chris came in looking good prior to the big climb up and over Hope Pass to the halfway point of the race.

He was a little disappointed that we didn’t have any of his pre-cooked tortellini for him saying “But I always eat tortellini when I climb over passes.”

Prepped with various non-tortellini foods, Skratch labs drink mix, clean socks and freshly bandaged blisters he headed out in good spirits.

Pacers are allowed for the second half of this race and Brad had already selected the soul-crushing climb back over Hope Pass from 50-60 miles to pace. Now that we were all gathered I organized the other pacers for the remaining 40 miles – Kristoffer, Tara, myself, Erin, and Michelle. Since I hadn’t really run in nearly 2 months since severely spraining my ankle I was hoping to get off with a small segment to pace. Due to the way schedules shook out, I ended up with the 10 mile leg between Outward Bound and May Queen aid stations that would involve a 2,000 foot climb up Powerline to Sugarloaf Pass. At least coming 3/4ths of the way into the race I figured Chris wouldn’t be moving too fast.

Brad, Tara and I quickly left Twin Lakes to drive around to Winfield not realizing what a traffic mess the roads around Winfield would be. With 2.5 miles still to drive to the aid station it was looking like we’d never get there in time to meet and pace Chris. So Brad and I loaded up a couple backpacks with food (including tortellini this time), clothes and water, plus Brad’s own gear to pace, and set out on a forced march up the dirt road. Tara eventually parked the car off the road and hiked in to join us as well. Chris came in looking a little worn out but Brad’s company soon brought him around and he passed many people going up Hope Pass on the return trip and threatened to outrun Brad. Tara and I scored a ride back down the 2.5 miles of road to our car then drove around to Twin Lakes, ate a bit of dinner and were soon surprised by an early arrival of Chris and a worn out Brad. Kristoffer took over pacing for the next 12 miles and the rest of us scattered to Pipeline or other more comfortable places to nap through the night.

At Pipeline I concentrated on eating and staying hydrated knowing my pacing leg was coming up and tried to catch a little sleep in the field as runners came through to meet their crews. Chris arrived feeling sluggish (the downhills were hurting him by now) and dehydrated. Tara had the next 3.5 miles to pace and force liquids on him while I drove ahead to Outward Bound and got ready to “run”.

Tara had done her job well and Chris had consumed 20 oz or so of water in the hour jog and hike to Outward Bound. There we put him in a chair with his legs up, got him to drink some broth and eat a bit of real food while he started to come around a bit more. In fact, by the time we left the aid station he was fairly chatty and I was able to keep up a conversation on ultras and other adventures as we motored up the steep and sandy Powerline trail to Sugarloaf Pass. Chris was able to eat and drink through this segment and even run some of the flats and gentle downhills on the way into May Queen. There Erin took over pacing and Tara and I fought to get out of the mess of a parking situation and tired crew members. We barely located and reached the Tabor boat ramp by the time Chris hiked the 6 miles there to give him his last opportunity to switch layers and access his gear. Michelle took him the final 6 miles into town for a ~28.5 hour 100 miler. As much as Tara and I would have loved to be there at the finish, we were simply too exhausted after pacing all night and found an empty gravel parking lot to throw some sleeping bags down and sleep for 3 hours as dawn arrived.

Chris’s performance was inspiring and motivating – I’d be lying if there wasn’t an ember in me now burning to train for another ultra next year.

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Despite late-December’s whirlwind of travel and family functions, Tara and I managed to burn off a few holiday calories here and there. Before Christmas we stopped at the Breckenridge Nordic Center for a session of skate skiing with my brother Kyle. Later, across the country in Maryland we’d get out for pre- and post-Christmas runs.

While on the east coast, we also visited the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. Photography was only allowed outside, so I can’t show you some of the cool things we saw within the walls.

Back in Colorado we again went skate skiing, this time at the Eldora Nordic Center.

Later that night I went out with a group to visit the Denver Zoo and their ZooLights display.

Happy New Year!

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