Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Strava - Part 2 - Setup and Security

In my last post I mentioned some setup and security things that I do.

In general I don't worry too much about security, but I thought as I run more and people knowing exactly where I live probably wouldn't be the best thing in the world.

Under Settings -> Privacy you can set up a "hidden location" for both your office and your home.  This really just moves the start of your run out about half a mile from your house.  Nothing extensive but I guess better than nothing.

One sure way if you worry about this, and I would suggest some folks doing this is change the enhanced privacy mode to ON, within this same screen.  You can approve your followers and only approved people can see and download your activities.  Especially as you start to meet people on the trail and within clubs.

I would also suggest if you are uncomfortable with people knowing your habits to some degree (you always run at 6am from x parking lot), then you should change your setting to have people "request to follow".  That way you can pre-screen to some degree.

Now lets move on to a few more fun items;

Gear - Make sure you setup your shoes and your bikes here, you can retire them later but as you start going through shoes it sure does help to keep track of all of your gear and how many miles you have on them.  I wish I had started this earlier, because I have this pair of road shoes I have tried to replace but any new ones, just don't feel the same - damn you Nike for updating models all the time!

Email Notifications - so if you signed up and have joined any clubs, you probably start getting a few too many emails from strava, this is a great place to slow those down.  I used to like getting a daily digest, but I follow a few too many folks that I don't read it now :(

My Performance - again another place you should take a few minutes to setup as it helps all of the other data screens - your Max HR you can just calculate based off of your age.  There was a great article by Ann Trason in Ultrarunner Magazine - Ask Ann: Heart Rate Homework about getting your max heart rate.  Worth a read.
Pace Zones are a bit different and they kinda bug me - but it is what it is.  I ran a pretty good (for me) half marathon - a 1:46:00, so when it shows my pace information 99% of the time I am in endurance, and I guess that is what I am doing when I am in the hills trotting up the hill.  I just don't find that as useful.

Under my profile you can also setup your "social connections" Facebook, Twitter, Intstagram, etc..., I don't do a lot of sharing unless it is a race really that some folks are watching, but it is nice to be able to share.  The best one here is Instagram - Half the fun of our trail running is the view sometimes!  Going for a run in the hills and tossing it out on Instagram (create an account if you don't have one - it is free), it will automatically look for pictures taken during your activity and a 45 minute window.  If you are out in the middle of no place with no cell coverage, you can take pictures and just let them fail and have a few queue'd up when you do get to cell coverage.  Here is Strava's blog post on it -  One other note - you can disassociate a picture from an activity also - I noticed I had a picture of my daughter and I out for a walk because it was within the upload window you just click the button "unlink" the picture.

I think I hit all the high points - really nothing too earth shattering, just wanted to encourage more people to use it.  I think I will hit on some of the "hidden" features or just not well used features of Strava next.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tahoe 200 - Crewing and Pacing - Interesting Experience

I will publish this after John publishes his...

I don't remember how I volunteered to crew and pace John, but it was on some run at some point this past year.  We were probably running along and he said he was going to sign up and I said I would love to crew him and help pace a section or two.  He has been so incredibly helpful in getting me into this sport and keeping me going.  Why not!  A few days at Tahoe crewing, then pace him in for a bit, what could go wrong...

Excited to use my new whiteboard markers
After John finished his excellent run at the Hardrock 100 (his race report), we started talking about this in earnest.  Not really knowing what a crew chief, yes I had been promoted by this point, was to do.  I started looking at the maps and the runners manual.  Candice picked CalTopo for the maps, and she broke it up into aid stations and segments between all color coded.  Here is the map, it really helps visualize the course as a whole.  I was able to work with the creator of the site to get a larger 18x24 inch size that I had printed at Kinko's that we could use white board markers on.  It was fun to mark up at breakfast a few weeks before the race and decide when and where pacers were going to meet up and how we would coordinate some items.

Since we had a few pacers lined up at different times, I thought the best way to get folks to where they needed to be was to leap frog a bit.  They would park their car where they would finish pacing and I would meet them and drive them to the start of where they were pacing (on paper that looks good :) ).  After a bit of coordinating schedules and some other people to act as possible back up folks, we had our plan of attack.  John had also created a pacer chart so we had some idea of when he was going to be going through our pacing aid stations.  His times to hit the aid stations were labeled as Great, Good, and Oh Well.

John and I also went out to scout the course a bit.  We went to Lyons Creek Trail near Kyburz.  We ran up past Wrights Lake and then tested out John's handheld GPS.  The GPS worked out great, so good I actually bought one - a refurbished Garmin from Cabelas - the eTrex 20, I am sure glad I had it!  The course was pretty rugged!  A lot of places where even good marking might get you a bit turned around especially those coming through at night.  I heard the markings were great and I don't know how many people got off course but I think remarkably few for such a huge undertaking!

Cowboy down
Fast forward a bit I wanted to come up Thursday so I could attend the course overview meeting and then the mandatory briefing.

A picture of him taking a selfie
The course meeting was interesting, finding out John was going to be going 15 to 18 miles at a time without an aid station and sometimes no streams to pull water out of.  It was going to be rough.  I don't know if John was as concerned about this as I was (he is the one nodding off in the briefing) :)

We got to sleep on time and slept in a bit since the start time wasn't going to be till 10am.  John had already dropped off his drop bags, I still have a hard time thinking about how he put those together.  He uses Victory drop bags - awesome set of bags he had an inventory list on the front of each bag that he referred to each time I saw him using it.  I need to pick up a few of these for my next ultra I think I am still partial to my pink barbie backpack because it sure is easy to find.  That would be my only suggestion for the Victory drop bags - different colors possibly.

Starting was pretty standard at an ultra - not the crowds of thousands but a great high energy and everyone ready to get started.  Since the start was up a ski slope (Homewood Resort), great place and very kind to host this event!  Everyone was laughing about running up the hill at the start of a 202 mile event.  Well there was at least one person  that did run up that first hill.  You will have to read through John's report on what happened to him.

Afterward Sean (he was pacing another runner) and I hiked the hill - it was no joke even at a good hiking pace :)  Pretty view of the lake and seeing the enormity of the task John was undertaking was inspiring.  Here is a quick video I made from the shore at Tahoe City.

I knew I wouldn't see him until 60 miles in so I went back to Tahoe City to try to get some rest and coordinate with the pacers (Peter Rabover, Karl Schnaitter, and Jeremy Johnson).  I was going to start detailing out my experience coordinating all of this "leap frogging", but suffice to say I think I drove about 9 to 10 hours trying to get people in the right spots then tried to get some sleep so I could get pick him up to start pacing early Sunday morning.  I wish I would have been able to grab more shut eye, it just didn't work out that way.

Some notable events before I started pacing;

Missing Peter by minutes at Armstrong before I had to meet John for his best case time which he nailed at Sierra at Tahoe.  He came in looking strong and Peter was able to get a ride down to Big Meadow to pace him from 80 to 90, so that worked out fine.  Peter did miss out on seeing a bear cub though.

Getting a call from John before he hit Tunnel Creek aid station saying he was lost and Jeremy I think trying to tell him that they were still on course.  I then had to call Amy and tell her.  I went to Tunnel Creek to see if I could catch him but they had just left 5 min before, so I decided to just go to Martis Peak aid station and try to sleep in the car.

Once they arrived John wanted to get an hour of sleep and then we would move out and I would pace him for the last 50 or so "Candice Miles" as we came to discuss our mileage between aid stations.  I know she measured it out with some extra sensitive GPS equipment, but whew it just seemed like we were a tad longer between stations.

I will break these thoughts up a bit between aid stations;

Martis Peak to Tahoe City - about 20 miles
This was a good section - we moved pretty well jogging the flats and downhills I think for the most part, we ran into some people that got a good picture of John running I hope but then they let us know that Ewan (the eventual winner) was moving great and had just checked in and out of Martis.  So we picked up the pace.  Markings were great we were moving in daylight, it was everything I had hoped pacing would be...  I was double checking my GPS but we saw a course marker when it made sense to see one.  We ran out of water and nutrition on this section though not long before we eventually came into Tahoe City and Jeremy was there to help out, I ran into the store there and got us a couple of water bottles because it was warm and we knew the next section could be awhile.  So it would be nice to have something other than our two bottles up front. I also looked to get a ping from some crew about when Ewan would enter and leave the aid station.

Tahoe City to Rideout - about 19 miles 
This section was a bit of everything - I used a crosswalk for the first time in an ultra.  We ran down a bike path, and then eventually came on the TRT again.  This section is kind of a blur, we knew Ewan was behind us, but we had kept moving good.  We were finally able to grab a cell signal so I sat down and looked at the times.  Sure enough we found out that Ewan was still hot on our tail.  We started up this long extended climb and got to the top, John said he saw Ewan and his pacer below and then all of a sudden they caught up and were blowing by us.  I felt destroyed that we couldn't keep them off our tail, but I felt like I was pushing John as hard as I could.  We eventually made it into Rideout and the promised last leg of this adventure.  

Rideout to Finish - about 16 miles
Rideout aid station was fun because Animal Athletics sponsored it, it was great to meet Yassine Diboun and his crew there.  This section was rough!!!  We got in about 6 miles of fairly flat terrain then it just started going up and it was these silly jeep trails that would go up then flatten and up and flatten again.  Unfortunately we weren't moving too fast, John's feet were hurting a bit and you can read his description of this part of the run but it was brutal for him.  This is when Victor Ballesteros passed us, he was moving great and I was very regretful that we didn't put John's poles in his pack.  Victor was super gracious in passing but it was still tough.  The last I knew though Sammy was just 15 minutes behind Victor at Tahoe City, so I was extremely worried that he might be off the podium soon.  We crested this peak finally and had to walk along the top the wind was blowing very hard and having the "mandatory kit" was good.  John used a few items and wrapped the mylar space blanket around his waist (he says kimono style, I should have gotten a picture because he was wearing a dress now :) ).  We got into a slight argument on our way down he thought I was cutting the course I kept pointing to the GPS saying we are on track and we eventually came across a flag.  I sure am glad we had the GPS, because while it was well marked you could easily space out at night.  John was also trying to convince me that he would feel better after laying down for a few minutes.  I was still worried about Sammy catching us - and I wasn't sure how he would do if he stopped and then we still had 4 miles left to go...  I think that might be a rough go of it getting moving again.  

We eventually made it down and could see the finish and of course, the course has a few switchbacks, he made it.  I broke off and ran down so I could get a picture or two of him finishing. 

To sum all of this up - I had initially told my wife, that after seeing John go through this I would never want to do this.  I think time has passed and now I am really excited to toss my name in the hat maybe not next year but soon!  John was great, it was an extremely hard race but he raced it.  I think he might do a few things differently next time.  I am excited to see him try this again.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Strava - Part 1 - What and Why?

Executive Summary: Strava is great for social networking in running, very easy to use and has an iPhone app.  Get out there and create an account then be friends with me :)

In my post yesterday - Veloviewer Usage got me to wonder how many are using Strava  in general and what it is good for, I thought I would share my own experience with it and why / how I started using it.

When I first started running I used Nike Plus because I had some friends and family on it and also it worked on my iPhone, etc...  It did some nice summarizing of data but nothing too impressive.  It did speak a bit to my competitive nature by showing a leader board on miles per week / month.

After the first few months I started playing around with a lot of different tools and that caused me to use an app on my cell called iSmoothRun  (great app and I would still use it but I invested in a Garmin) - it was able to record the run and then upload to all different services.  I used that and signed up for Strava.

As most of you that use Strava know, it is super easy to get sucked into the segments (I will go through that stuff in a bit), and leader boards on a weekly basis.  I think that is around the same time as I met the guy that holds then (May 2013) and still holds most of the Quicksilver KoMs. Now enough history - I started doing my distance running - maybe not very fast but at least further with the help of John and all the friends I have met through Quicksilver Running Club or on Strava.

Why should you get on Strava?  Even if you aren't planning on running long distances or fast, it is motivating to be able to find some routes that you run often and notice the segments that are on your route and work on improving your rankings.  Segments are just like they sound, they are portions of your overall run that have their own leaderboard.  And that drives some competition just internally I think it is neat to go back to run some segments hard and try to climb the leaderboard (knowing at least full well for me I won't get the top place but I can improve at the very least).  (They have hiking / biking / walking / workout / etc... as well)

Here is an example of a run.

A couple of things you can see here obviously - The run overall - Distance / "Moving time" / Pace / Suffer Score (heart rate calculations - I didn't feel like it was that extreme)  

Then under it is elevation (amount of climb) / calculated calorie expenditure / elapsed time (note the 8 min gap - I got lost and had to look at a map on my phone :) ).

You can see the map and the "splits (just mile increments)" and the elevation profile below (seeing where I stopped for a bit to look at the trail markers first time I ran there)..

I have also linked my instagram account to my run so it will pick up any pictures I take and their location (see the little picture on the map).  You can also "kudo" people on their runs as well as comment on them.  Great for a social drive by.

On the next couple of screens (you can click the items under overview on the left hand side);
  • Pace Analysis - look of the elevation profile and fastest and slowest times you did.
  • Pace Distribution- See how much time you spent in various zones based on your top speed - In my opinion less useful since my fastest I used a half marathon on the road, this has nothing to do with how fast I hit the trails.
  • Heart Rate - How much time you spent in various zones that you see some of the more serious runners use (e.g. Zone 2 or z2 is tempo pace / z5 is Anaerobic).

I think the fun part is the segments though;

You will see a list of the segments and you can mouse over them to see which segment is which on your run (it will highlight them blue and also show on the elevation profile to the right).  If you click on them they will show a quick view of the leaderboard and where you stand on it;

As you can see above - I am currently 20 out of 52 people that have run that segment and I would have to run it over 8 minutes faster to get the Course Record (CR) (that isn't happening).  If you start clicking the buttons under you can see the whole leaderboard and your efforts (a good example here is I have done quicksilver now for over a year some of those segments I have attempted 30 or 40 times).  You can compare you against others I will show below because this is a relatively new feature that shows in real time if you both started that segment, graphically where would you be as that run played out.  As you can see I stopped it about 13 minutes into the run and the was 3:43 ahead of me on the map and going about 2 minutes a mile faster than I was...  (sigh)

So much to explore in this tool let alone Veloviewer.  My bottom line as I finish showing this and I will write something up more about joining a club or making friends, also adding some level of security (home zone / locked profile), is just sign up and start using it.  They have a great iPhone app that my friend Scott Dunlap reviewed recently here, and you can download all your runs if you ever want to put them into some other running ecosystem.  Here is my profile so you can add me as a friend as well - Jeff's Strava Profile.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Veloviewer Usage

As I was putting up my new blog, I was linking to everything that I have been using lately.  Veloviewer is one thing that I don't think a lot of people use, while they may use Strava, Veloviewer for me even though I haven't been running for very long sure keeps me excited about how my training is going.

I am going to pull a few descriptions from their website with some of my own commentary (from the perspective a newbie runner);

First things first go to your screen should show something along these lines;

Pretty self explanatory now - click the button that says "Connect with STRAVA" - it may take you to another screen within Strava to allow the connection.  Just say yes.

You will then come to a page to import all of your activities into the veloviewer database;

Click the button to "get everything" (this may take a long time depending on how many it needs to grab)

Now you can start exploring.

I would rather not screenshot every page but just give you an idea of all of the different tabs - you can see in the previous picture there are tabs along the top;

  • Summary - as it says a real good summary of what you have been doing along with some graphs.  I mostly run but I have a few rides that skew the graphs a bit so I will just click on runs that gives me a great year over year view of my progress.  On the graphs you can click buttons as well that give you elevation or distance.  That is what really made my day - I only have about 2.5 years of data so far and it is interesting and easy to see when I made my transition from running on the roads to running on the trails my elevation starts to go through the roof, this year alone I have already exceeded all of my climb from last year :) So much to explore on just the summary page, I would just suggest you look around.
  • Challenges - kinda neat but just a summary screen of all of the challenges you signed up for in Strava and where you are on those.
  • Activities - If you just want to see runs or rides you can click the pull down next to config and select either.  Some Filters that are interesting that are predefined - Another neat item is the map and chart buttons on the side. You will notice the button on the bottom you can export this to CSV (Comma-Separated Values) so you can easily import into any spreadsheet application.
  • Segments - Now this is Strava's bread and butter - so so neat, you really just have to play around here because you can see your position then you can also see how far you are behind the leader (maybe find some segments to go out and snipe :) ).  A lot of ways to sort and explore, this is where I play around the most I think.
  • Wheel - Just another visual way to look at your activities and climbs! Fun to click on different parts of the wheel.
  • Signature Image - I have played around here but never needed a signature so just something for you that might want to show off that way :)
  • Rivals - If you run with someone a lot and do the same segments, they will show up as a rival.  and you can view their data. Some of these people I will never beat but I have one or two of the CR's and that makes me happy enough :)

  • Update - Now we are full circle - this is the same screen that you loaded all of your runs.  I go in and update about once a week maybe once ever couple of weeks when I have a long conference call and can just spend some time looking at the data figuring out my next run :)

That is it - just a fun view of Strava for those of you that use it, this makes it even more useful.  He has a few other tools out there.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Time to get serious

Well I just finished helping my friend / ultra mentor finish his run around Lake Tahoe - the Tahoe 200. I don't know now if I helped or hurt his chances. He was in a great position but then I may have pushed him to keep going when an hours worth of rest might have helped him reset and hold his position better. I keep second guessing my strategy and I am sure he is as well.

What does this have to do with the title of this post. Well nothing really. Just while I was working with him on this run / hike for 20 hours or so, I had some time to think about my own running work to date. Pretty unimpressive really. I have done pretty well in running with how fast I have jumped to longer distances, but all in all I am below average in speed and endurance. I need to get serious.  

In talking to him while we were hiking up some crazy hills, I mentioned that I have some goals. He told me that for those goals, I would need to loose this extra weight. I have added some since Bryce and the injury. Even with Bryce I should have been a few pounds lighter. 

I think another thing that will help is adding to this blog on a regular basis. My running progress or setbacks. I also buy and use enough items that I could review things from my point of view. I might also do some fun reviews about random things like movies, gadgets and miscellaneous things. 

That is all. More to come hopefully :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bryce Canyon 100

So happy yet so disappointed

At mile 94 or so I was so pissed off I was ready to sit down and just wait for my knee to start  feeling better.  The forth or fifth person in the last three miles had just passed me asking if I was ok as I waved them on. I wasn't going to quit of course but I was trying to figure out how to be positive and it was extremely hard, when something bad happens early in a race I have just taken some time and corrected.  I have never really had anything hurt so bad late in a race all alone. Probably won't be the last time so I had best do a better job next time. Let me start a little earlier, just wanted to throw in some dramatic flair as I was happy with 85% of this race. 

I wish I could start somewhere near the beginning, I can't really remember why I wanted to run 100 miles. I think part of it is I don't like going to races and doing the hardest part of it (e.g. doing a 50k at a 50k / 100k event), just something about how I have wired myself recently (yes I have a problem).  Another reason is I really admire the folks that can do this and I wanted to try, I am still nowhere in my friends league, they are more accomplished runners but I am going to get better at this come hell or high water, having a 100 mile under my belt now gives me a better appreciation for the highs and lows and what to take care of or what works for me. I know every race is different, but it is a start. 

I met with my friend / mentor / coach John Burton at the beginning of the year to go over the race / training schedule leading up to this because this was my "A" race. I wanted a pretty first 100, in retrospect that probably wasn't the best strategy, I have a history of bad first ultra distance picks though, nothing ever super easy.  SOB 50k race in Ashland Oregon last July being my first ultra wasn't easy starting at 6500 feet (I thought it was going to start at Ashland - lesson learned), then North Face 50m in Marin 10,000 feet of climb and soooo cold all day. None of these are the hardest in their class but they sure don't seem like a beginners courses.  This 100 falls right in line, starting at 8500 feet with 19,000 feet or so of climb not the hardest, but not a good starter 100 (if there is such a thing).

Here are some of the pictures that made me think this was a good idea :). Beautiful course!

Picture of course - credit to Ultra Adventures facebook sitePicture of course - credit to Ultra Adventures facebook site
Picture of course - credit to Ultra Adventures facebook sitePicture of course - credit to Ultra Adventures facebook site
Not of course but we saw this on a hike the next day and it looked a lot like some of the outlooks we saw during the runNot of course but we saw this on a hike the next day and it looked a lot like some of the outlooks we saw during the run

Once I decided then we started to work around a family vacation with it, I mention it to Dana and he and the family were in as well.  It was going to be great fun, we could do some hiking and sightseeing in both Zion and Bryce so we rented a house between both of them. 

Training (both races and weekly running) went well no significant injuries or issues. Since this is my first ultra year, it has been exciting getting personal bests (PBs) every time I did a race, I know this can't continue too much longer, so enjoy it while it lasts. My biggest 3 weeks before Bryce I combined to do 240 miles with over 45k of climbing, I felt pretty good about this, I know it isn't as much as some veteran racers put in but my goal was finishing so "better undertrained than injured." (jb quote to me)

Taper weeks are pretty interesting, hard to slow your training after running so much for the previous weeks. We started our road trip to Utah getting there about 4 days before the race, exactly the wrong time according veteran ultra runners, but no choice.  We went on a few hikes crazy beautiful at Zion and Bryce!  Here are a few more pictures;

Packet pickup went well, I also dropped off my drop bags hoping I got things right. I made 6 drop bags, 3 larger ones for the last 3 aid stations (except one at 45/55), and 3 baggies with just bare bones supplies for the first / last aid stations.  I was able to deliver the drop bag stuff that Satchin had given me, we chatted for a bit and hopefully able to meet at the start.  I went to bed early and was able to get some sleep (rare, but I hadn't been sleeping well a few nights before), Dana got up early with me the morning of the race and we made the drive to the start. 

There was a lot of milling around the fire barrels, I have decided that ultra runners are the nicest folks ever except when jockeying for a spot in front of a fire pit :) This is when Sachin and I met up trying to stay warm in front of a fire barrel.  Sachin had been beating up Mission Peak hard to get ready for this.  The 50 milers and 100 milers started at 6am so a few minutes before we milled over to the start and started out running together. He was great to remind me to slow down at the beginning.  I wanted to slow the first 50 miles quite a bit, since the altitude at the start was 8500 and went from 7500 to 9000 or so and this was my first race at this altitude I was shooting for 12 hours (2 hours slower than my 50 mile pace). 

The first couple of miles were dirt roads, then we got into single track and a conga line. This is when I lost Sachin, he got stuck behind some folks. This trail led us to "Thunder Mountain" and the first of many times I wish I had my camera (followed by relief I didn't because that would have slowed me down even more).  People stepped off the path to take pictures and I sure didn't blame them. 

It was quite a ways to the first aid station, 10 miles in but I was able to just fill water and grab something and go. At this point and most of the way through the race I did well with nutrition, gu and honey stingers with random aid station food. I did water only with some tailwind at the beginning and end to get some calories in. I did take salt tabs as needed - this was a first I hadn't noticed cramping in a race before. 

Besides some great views the first half of the race went well, I made it to the 50 mile mark in 12:03, I sat down and got my light long sleeve shirt and a little headlamp in case I need it before my mile 60 drop bag (main drop bag).  I also grabbed an extra belt bottle ( I never ended up needing it but nice to have.). By this time I had met another runner and we decided since our pace was similar (he had me playing lead blocker most of the time), if we could we would run through the night together. 

Mark and I left the aid station and I was still jogging what I could and power walking where I couldn't all the hills mostly. I felt better than I have at the end of any other 50 miler so far. Slowing down by 2 hours really helped. We had some steep downhills then a few nice gentle ones that kept things moving well. Rolled into the next aid station quickly and left. About at this point I noticed my hot spot on my left big toe. This would make or break things I thought. I didn't know what to do, should I ignore it and let it run it's course? Or should I stop at 60 aid station and take care of it. My partner has done Wasatch 10 times, so I bugged him about it a bit. He thought if we did want to take care of it we would pop it and tape it, or depending on how bad just ignore it. He had the stuff to do so...  As we rolled into 60 I decided to run with it. It didn't hurt too bad and we were just about to go into the night so I hoped slowing down would help a bit. (Maybe a piss poor decision)

We grabbed some headlamps and warmer clothes and headed out into the twilight. This part had a few miles of fire roads and we easily jogged a bit of it just keeping moving. Nothing really eventful happened thorough this section, we did pass the Koerner's at some point here and would play leap frog with them for awhile. I was having a hard time eating real food at aid stations so I was using my baggies of tailwind and gels to keep the calories up.  

I felt ok going at night I wish I would have pushed it a bit more, I need to work on that for the next. I didn't jog / trot as much as I could and I think I could have. Around mile 78 or so we hit some big descents (bouldering) and some hard climbs, I just put my head down and climbed.

After we came out of that section we it some flats and I was getting a bit dizzy running so I decided that I would take this aid station and sit for 5 to 7 minutes eat something and sit by the fire. As it turned out this was a fun aid station, Hal and Carly were here sitting for a bit, so we were able or chat.  After getting some potatoes and bacon (great aid station food).  It was hard to leave the fire, but Mark and I stood up and started down the path. It started getting light so that was a good pick me up. I tried to get Mark to head out without me so he could make his goals. After awhile I had to remove jackets and get settled for the last push about 15 some odd miles or so, I took my time and told Mark I would try to catch up...

I think I almost caught him at the 90 mile aid station but just missed. So I went through my stuff and donated any gels I didn't need to the aid station. Then had a wonderful combination of eggs and bacon. :). Asked the aid station people if they could send Dana a text, at this point I thought I could make 28:15 or so, I was able to ask one of the aid station person to send Dana a text. 

Leaving  this aid station with just 10 miles to go, I was feeling good only a small couple of climbs to go. About a mile from the aid station my leg started to hurt badly right around the knee it couldn't even walk the flats...  This was very maddening, but only having 9 miles or so to go (no watch so I couldn't even figure out exactly how far), climbing up to thunder mountain was tough but I just wanted to keep moving. I started getting passed by people, and at about mile 94 is when I hit a bit of a low, I had been limping / walking for 3 miles and had another 6 to go and getting passed. 

Finally got to the road leading into the finish, 2.3 miles left, after about a mile I could see the finish.  I kept looking back to see if anybody was going to pass me at the end. I saw someone about 500 yards from the finish and found out I it was about a ten to noon I pulled it together so I could still finish under 30 hours.

That is it in a nutshell (a large nutshell) - I visited with a few folks, I got to chat with Hal and Carly Koerner - I threatened Tim Olson if he passed me again (after the third time), I was going to tackle him :)  Saw some beautiful sites, a great first 100 miler and now I can start working harder with some time goals.  I learned a lot for sure, and that brings me to the next section...
Post race - I can't put weight on my right leg :)Post race - I can't put weight on my right leg :)

What I did right

  • Drop bags - I had one main drop bag and then just used a couple of back packs and then baggies at the smaller aid stations
  • Aid Station Management - This one always makes me happy - I spent very very little time in aid stations - except when I was feeling a bit dizzy in the middle of the night
  • Shoes - Nike Wildhorse worked well I dropped down to a size 11 and I didn't feel the pain in my feet (except the blister) like I did at Lake Sonoma
  • Nutrition - I feel like I did well here - I was trying to stay on a schedule of gels every 30 minutes then grab something solid at aid stations - I forgot a baggie to bring so I could grab some food for later but I think for the most part it worked out
  • Glasses - I normally wouldn't call this out but I love my new glasses for running - they are photochromic and I wore them the entire time - Julbo Trail version and at night they were practically clear so I didn't need to take them off
  • Handhelds - I used two handhelds the entire time - I don't know if this was good or bad so I am putting it in the good category it worked I drank pretty well
  • Insoles - This makes shoes better for me - I scrunch my toes when I run and over time that rubs the regular stock insoles wrong so adding "SOLE" insoles really helped they don't move and formed to my feet well
  • Salt - I took salt tablets on as needed basis vs. a schedule and that worked great
  • First 50 miles - I couldn't have done that any better if I wanted too I slowed way down from my 50 mile pace and got to and left the turn around in good spirits

What I could do better next time

  • Night time "running" - I just got lazy I was pulling someone along and I didn't have anybody to push so I just walked fast or trotted - I think there was some more runnable stuff that I could have done better with at night.
  • Blister management - I had never really gotten a blister before so now I know
  • Better emergency drugs - I am wondering if I brought something stronger than advil if I could have gotten through my knee pain issue (maybe horse tranquilizer)
  • Maybe drink more - The blister could have been caused a bit by dehydration as well so I will need to watch that
  • Change socks / body glide - I will do that for TRT to take care of blisters better!

Huge thanks to everyone that helped my - I was able to do this in just over 2 years of starting to put my running shoes on, and under a year of my first ultra.  

First and foremost my wife and kids - I am getting better at balance, but they keep putting up with me
John and Amy Burton - I would have still attempted this without them but I would have never have finished or even been close
The Hanson Clan - It was great going on a fun vacation with them and they were so nice after the race in getting me back to 100% 
Quicksilver Running Club - again I could have attempted this but without the mutual support and well wishes I can't imagine I would have finished
Dan Burton - He calls himself the "slow Burton" but he is great to run with and has been there helping me every step of the way
And everyone, I could have kept calling people out but I just don't have the patience (and my conference call is ending and I want to wrap this up), so many people have given me great advice and helped motivate me. Thank you!

And a week later I am feeling okAnd a week later I am feeling ok

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lake Sonoma 50 mile - two year anniversary of running

I think I am going to start with the punch line this time - I had a great run for me 10:08:40, this was a 30 minute PR on an arguably harder course than the 50 mile North Face run in Marin in December. This month is my two year anniversary of running, I took my first run out the door for about 3.4 miles at over a 13:30 pace Apr 2012. My first ultra was in July 2013 at the SOB in Ashland (there was a timed one a couple of weeks earlier but I signed up last min and barely made it 28 miles in 6 hours). So when/if you read later in this report about me being disappointed with any part of my run just ignore me :)

Now if you are bored you can read on;

I picked this race because I wasn't really interested in running American River, a bit too flat and I had heard a bit too paved (I think that is a concern from the past as the course as changed a bit.). We had plenty of our ultra team running it and I would have been bringing up the rear so they didn't need me for points. I signed up and was put on the waitlist pretty high at like 15 so I was sure I would get in.

Since this was a "B" race (one step above a training run race), I didn't train or do any extended taper. I really just wanted a pretty race that I could do before Bryce that would hopefully give me some confidence going into that run.

Melanie and the kids came up with me and we stayed at the Hilton in Santa Rosa their only lodging requirement is that it have a nice pool. It sure did we had a great time in the pool and then a "pre-race dinner" with Tim, Teresa, Danielle, and Zac.  

The next morning the wake up call was pretty early at 4am, I got everyone in the car and we headed out. We grabbed a person on the way up, since he was looking for a ride. Side note - he is from Bend, Dave Town he did really well under 9 hours. 

We got there without incident and picked up bibs, I ran into a few team mates at the start, Sachin, Claire, And Marc. I also was in the porta potty line with Chris Vargo, one of Nike's trail elite team we chatted for a bit. He was hoping to get his Western States entry here for winning or placing. Unfortunately when I caught the rest of the Nike team later I found out he had a knee / IT band issue and had to drop. 

To back up a bit, I was a bit excited and naive I had initially printed out a pace chart that showed a 10 hour finish. Luckily John set me straight since his finish was 10:10 a couple of years ago, he explained this wouldn't be as easy as NFEC since it was pretty "relentless" up and down the whole time with three large climbs. Nothing was ever too flat for too long.  I revised my pace chart for a 10:45 finish then in pencil I put a 10:10 finish. Then I promptly forgot/dropped in the hotel room. Pace Chart with penciled in numbers for a 10:10 PacePace Chart with penciled in numbers for a 10:10 Pace

We started out at first light at 6:30, down about 2.5 miles of paved roads, this separates us out a bit before we hit single and double track.  This sure was a pretty run, as you can see by some of the pictures. I was also extremely lucky with the weather it started out foggy and didn't get warm and sunny till much later in the race.  

I really started out conservative at a 10:36 pace for the first 11 miles, it is hard to go slower at the beginning of a race, I probably would have benefited from a bit slower, I will as the middle third if the race I couldn't be happier with I think I averaged around an 11:30 pace for the next 19 miles I was cruising well. Trying to manage my aid station time. This is when I would yo-yo past people since I hate spending any time there. My worst aid station was the turn when I put on my headset to start listening to music on the way back. My cord was tangled and I probably spent 4 min at that one :(  So all in all I would guess about 15 minutes in the aid stations - maybe slightly more - that is the difference between where I finished and a sub 10 hour finish.

On a side note Greg Lanctot and Dan Decker were manning the Wulfow aid station - it was great to see some friendly faces, they also had someone else working and I can't remember her name but she was able to dig up some advil for my hip.  So a lifesaver on the way out, but I didn't see her there on the way back so I didn't ask.  Greg got a few pictures of me but this one is my favorite of the whole race - I have my super serious face on as Brian and I were leaving the aid station on the way back.

I tried to remember to take some pictures when I could, some turned out ok others not so much - if I bring a camera again I need a better pocket for it I think.  Here are a few of the better ones...

Downhill StretchDownhill Stretch

Pretty view of the LakePretty view of the Lake

Cruising long side the trailsCruising long side the trails

I think up to this point, just looking at my Strava / Veloviewer data - for the first 30 miles it looks like my average pace was around 11:15.  I can't complain about that at all, that put me past the three big climbs and back into the rollers.  The next 7 or 8 miles were actually much slower at around 12:30 or so.  I was trying to keep on top of everything (my nutrition and hydration).  I was starting to look forward to any river crossings as I really wanted to cool down because at that point it was starting to get hot.

Sachin and Brian and I ran a bit together so that was nice, they are both newer to running ultras over the past year - they both beat me handily at this race but it was fun running with them when I could.  I should have made them take a picture with me I was just too serious for my own good. I will figure out the camera thing because if nothing else I want to have some good memories of these races!

I think / feel like the wheels sort of came off in the last 11 or 12 miles - my pace here shows 14:25 (again I think based on some of the data, I could be reading this wrong - but it felt much slower for sure).  I believe it was a combination of a few things; my hip that had been bothering me a bit really started to act up - this is something I need to address somehow, my shoes suddenly felt much bigger, on the downhills my toes were ramming into the front of the shoe and it hurt - I found that I had (still have) a very large blister on the bottom of my left foot but that doesn't account for my toe ramming.  I think I am going to try to go down one half size for the wildhorse. 

I think this is a good point to do what John said I should at the end of a race;

What went well; 

  • Handhelds - I had two handhelds and I think that was the right strategy for this race I never felt like I was going to run out of water so I wasn't rationing it like I am apt to do and shouldn't do.

  • Nutrition / Tailwind - I think this went well - I consumed 18 GU's one every 30 minutes.  I had 300 calories of tailwind in my two bottles at the beginning of the run because that is when I mentally have a a problem of eating GU (I am feeling great the first hour or two of a race :) )  I also had one 200 calorie pack of tailwind for the turn to just add some calories.  I consumed / choked down at least 1 PB&J over the various aid stations.  Total Calories consumed for sure was 2300 + 200 for the PB&J.

  • Race belt - This was outstanding to hold everything I needed without feeling like I was carrying too much - UltrAspire Quantum - ordered after I saw the review on Trail and Ultra Running -

  • Shoes - this is going to show up in both categories - the Nike Wildhorse drains very well for all the river crossings a few steps later no water at all

  • Music - I saved music for just the return trip in one ear that worked nicely- No drop bags - I felt pretty good about this decision - didn't really need anything so less time in aid stations

  • Aid Station - overall, I was pretty happy with my time management here - I played yo-yo with quite a few people that stayed too long
What went bad;

  • Shoes - Boy my toes took a pounding as I mentioned toward the end of the race, downhills I could barely run and that was disappointing

  • GU-Brew - I was trying to put some pep in my step at one of the aid stations so I asked for a half and half in one of my bottles - half GU-Brew and half water - I am so glad I got the other just water that stuff immediately just made my stomach hurt a bit, I choked down a bit more than I would have liked because it was a ways between that aid station and the next but yuck not for me

  • Hip Pain Management - hopefully this is just a one off thing I need to address this, I took two 12 hour ibuprofen before the race and then about 12 miles in I took a couple of advils.  I probably should have carried some with me it would have made the last 10 or 12 maybe a bit better?
At the end of the race I messed up and told Melanie my best case time would be 10 hours 30 minutes so she was even 15 minutes earlier than that and they still missed me finish.  Her Uncle Tim came up also and we had a good time wandering around the finish line while I tried to eat something and get my goodies.  They brought my box of Samoa Girl Scout cookies, so I ate a couple of those and then offered Brian and his family as well as the Nike Trail team some since we were all sitting close.  They gave me a new Nike Trail shirt so that was neat.  

Well I think I am done babbling about this race now I may add somethings as they come to me later but all in all I am pretty happy (can you hear the disappointment in my voice though :) ), I wish I could have finished stronger, I feel a 9:45 here isn't out of reach.  

I feel much much more confident going into Bryce 100, I need to keep up the training (after taking it a bit slow this week), but John has gotten me into a real good place that I honestly couldn't have imagined 2 years ago, hell even a year ago I was still 3 months out from my first ultra (not counting the last minute signup I did for the 6 hour that I barely squeaked 28 miles on).  So my official "ultra career" is just 9 months old and my running career is just 2 years, just have to keep moving forward :)

As always I have a ton of people that have gotten me running and keep me running :) I have mentioned a few of them here but really a shout out to John for all the continued advice and saving me from myself, as well as his wife Amy always up for a run to listen to me babble on and taking me for some new trails.  My wife for putting up with me which as anybody that knows me and is reading this is no small task.  She said I looked better at the end of this 50m than the last one so I get to keep running. :)  Dan who keeps me motivated and really started me on this.  My sister who's excitement for running really is infectious. All my friends in the Quicksilver Running Club who let me wear the shirt even though I am definitely pulling up the rear in my age/gender.  

A few links mentioned above;

VeloViewer - - Just to be extra insane about the data