Here are a few thoughts on my blog about dealing with life's transitions while still training as a competitive ultrarunner!
Monday, August 30, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Some great performances this past weekend from Team Inov-8 athletes. Starting off with Gina Lucrezi racking up a huge win in 52:04 at the US 10k National Championships. Dwight Shuler (pictured) got a big win himself at the Tsali Challenge taking down the course record on his way to a first place podium finish in the male open race. Dwight now holds the CR for the open male and masters at the Tsali Challenge. Amy Lane was 1st female in 4:20:30 at the Green Lakes Endurance Run 50k. Amy was also 9th OA in what looked like a tight finish. Jeremy Ramsey kept the first place finishes rolling with his overall win at the Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness 50 mile in 7:39. Chad Denning and Aliza Lapierre secured a very nice 3rd OA (19:30:44) mixed team category at the Gore-Tex Transrockies 6 Day stage Race. Michele Hartwig got a nice PR of 27:45 at the Lean Horse Hundred and was 3rd AG finisher. Ben Nephew ran a very fast road 50k in 3:09, good enough for 12th OA at the World Trophy 50k Championships. Jim Johnson also ran a speedy 35:42 and was 2nd OA at the Race to the Top of Vermont, besting some stiff competition along the way.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
We'll get things started off this Friday night where Jeremy Ramsey will be racing the Cheat Mountain Moonshine Madness 50 miler. The race is a 50 mile loop near Beverly, WV starting at 9pm and has 6300' of climb. We also have a weekend with another USA National Trail Championship. This time in the 10k trail distance at the Continental Divide Trail Race near Laurel Springs, NC. This course is very tough and will challenge two of our best mountain runners on the team, Gina Lucrezi and Amber Moran. Both are predicted to be up front in the mix this Saturday. Dwight Shuler will be back at it again, this time at the Tsali Challenge here in WNC. The challenge is a 12 mile mountain bike, 3 mile paddle and a 5 mile trail run. Michele Hartwig will do battle at the Lean Horse 100 in Hot Springs, SD. Amy Lane will be at the Green Lakes Endurance Runs, racing the 50k distance this Sunday in Fayetteville, NY. On Sunday, Ben Nephew will be representing not only Team Inov-8 but the US at the World Trophy 50k Championships in Galway, Ireland. Also on Sunday Jim Johnson will be racing 4.3 miles at the Race To the Top of Vermont up Mt.Mansfield. Jim is the returning champion from last year.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
A long hot Summer of hit and miss racing kind of put a damper on my motivation. It seemed like no matter my fitness, my race results have been ordained by the temperature, I.E. meltdown madness. Nonetheless, I have had a few good results lately and that was enough of a spark to push me up to Fayetteville, WV for one of the coolest races of the year. Captain Thurmond's Challenge!
This is a very unusual and challenging race but one of my all time favorites. Check out my full race report here.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Last Thursday night Jim Johnson set a new 10k road PR of 31:53 at the Saunders 10k. Jim finished 2nd OA. Dwight Shuler secured enough points to clinch the NC State AG Championships title with one more race remaining. At the 6.2 mile- Race #3 in NC Xterra Trail Series, Dwight grabbed 5th OA in 42:01. Eric Charette raced to a speedy 2nd OA in 1:55:05 at the Squak Mountain Trail Half-Marathon. Amy Lane was 1st female (13:50) at the More & More Difficult 50k this past weekend, this included an unbelievable amount of climbing. The course went up 9 of New Hampshire's 4,000 footers plus another 4 peaks thrown in for good measure. At the Pikes Peak Ascent we had two stellar performances. Alex Nichols finished 5th OA in 2:20:57 and Peter Maksimow was 8th OA in 2:26:39. After Day 1 at the Transrockies Race, in the Open Mixed Division, Aliza Lapierre and Chad Denning are sitting in 2nd place OA!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Aliza and I arrived in Colorado on Tuesday, August 17th to begin preparation for the Transrockies Run that begins on Sunday, August 22nd. We both agreed that we should try and maximize what extra days we could muster before the big week. We have been abiding to our schedule pretty well so far. Here is what we have been up to:Tuesday was mostly a travel day but we felt since we both flew for five hours and then jumped in a vehicle for 3 hours we should really think about stretching our legs.
In Carbondale there is a great staple mountain bike area aptly named “Mushroom Rock” and we decided to strap on the Inov-8’s and head right up the main trail. Yes the altitude was like a brick wall right away. About half way up we both looked at each other as we both felt like we might be losing our lunch at any moment. Thank goodness we were able to keep it down and get the legs going again after a long day of travel. As the sun started to set we found the car and it was a great introduction to Colorado.
Wednesday we decided to go way up to Independence Pass and get on the Lost Man Loop. This day would take us up to 12,600 feet way above Scott Lake. We started off on great wide trails for about 3 miles, then decided to climb straight up the next reentrant and bushwhacked for the next 3 miles. We both had selected different Inov-8 models on this day. Aliza was wearing the Roclite 320’s and Chad went with the Roclite 295’s. We were both pleased with our choices as the outsoles gripped on all the surfaces we encountered and both model shoes provided plenty of protection on all the rock surfaces. All in all we climbed 5,000 feet on our second day in only 8 miles. We both commented that it was much easier to breathe than the first day, but it’s not hard to redline when going straight up a ridge. We descended back down to Carbondale for the night at 6,500 feet which really helped with sleeping.
Thursday had us moving up valley to Snowmass Village, but we were rudely interrupted by Mother Nature who decided to unleash holy hell on the Roaring Fork Valley. There were huge mudslides, high wind and hail just to name a few of the weather elements of the day. We kept our eye on the radar and absolutely nailed the window perfectly to get in our 12.5 mile traverse along the Government Trail from Snowmass Village to Aspen. When we left the car the temperature was in the mid 50’s. We both put on our 2XU calf guards to help keep warm and to ward off muscle soreness and fatigue. The trail was extremely greasy, but each of us stayed upright and we were both amazed at how well the mud was ripping off the tread of our shoes. At one point Chad commented “Wow we need mud flaps!” It only rained on us for approximately 30 minutes for the 2:15 we were out. The Government Trail allowed us to really open up our stride and get in some really fun Colorado running. We stayed in Snowmass Village at 7,900 feet for the evening, which allowed us to move up the altitude ladder gradually as far as sleeping.
We awoke on Friday to another amazing Colorado Bluebird day! We knew that we should get back up high but we also do not want to tax the legs to much as the race begins in only two days. We settled on an Aspen classic called “Cathedral Lake”. This trail would take us up to 11,600 feet and treat us to 3,000 feet of climbing. The beauty of this trail is that it is only 2.8 miles in length. It took us about 1:20 round trip, perfect for the day! Tomorrow we are traveling to Leadville @ 10,200 feet to go and cheer on some of our running friends that are embarking on the Leadville 100 which begins in the morning. The anticipation is already building and once we see our friends out there killing it tomorrow I am sure that the butterflies will be in full swing. Please send us the gift of swift foot for the next week.
Catch you in a week,
Aliza & Chad
Devil’s Path 2010
I managed to fit in a day of running the Devil’s Path in the Catskill Mountains during a recent wedding trip to NY. Since I grew up in the Adirondacks, I’ve never had too much respect for the Catskills. The Escarpment is a very tough trail race, but it’s not as imposing as hiking some of the steep 4000 footers in the Adirondacks. I recently read some articles claiming that a 24 mile hike over 6 mountains in the Catskills was the toughest hike in the East, and I became interested in giving it a run. I asked the RD of the Escarpment, Dick Vincent, if the trail was really as rough as claimed, and he confirmed that it is extremely rugged. With 8-9k of climbing, it definitely looked like a long day of work. I tried to get some local runners to accompany me on the trip, but everyone was headed for other races. As this was a point to point endeavor, I thought I might be out of luck, but Dick’s friend Liz Levine agreed to transport me from the finish to the start. The fastest known time on the course is 7:25 from earlier this year, run by ADK88 on a very warm day.
After Liz made sure I had my car key and my food and drink, I started out from the eastern trailhead in the parking lot at the end of Prediger Rd. This was my first big run with my Garmin 205, which I guess is the only quasi-proof of my trip. It’s hard to decide how to describe a run that covered so much terrain, and I’m sure I’ve already forgotten many details, but I’ll try to cover the major events with references to my GPS data. In comparison to other reports and listed mileages, it seems as though my Garmin underestimated the mileage, but it gives a general idea of my progress. In general, the Devil’s path runs east to west over Indian Head, Twin, Sugarloaf, Plateau, Hunter, and Westkill mountains.
1.7 miles 18:27
This first section had a runable 400’ climb, and then short descent to the start of Indian Head Mountain. Although it was only in the 60’s, my shirt only lasted a mile or so, and I wasn’t really used to the weight of my hipsack. I took a hard right to get back onto singletrack, and clearly realized that the climbing was about to start.
3.7 miles 52:18
I finally hit the summit of Indian Head. I think the posted mileage is 4.2 from the trailhead. My plan on the climbs was to run anything less than about 15%, and hike anything steeper. I was a bit nervous about going too hard on the early climbs, so I played it conservative, which wasn’t that hard, as you have to take your time on some of the vertical chutes where I was looking for the ropes. There are no ropes; you just have to do your best with the roots that drape down. My GPS data show extended sections of 40% on this climb, with a short section of 100% at one point. Welcome to the Devil’s Path, my two legged friends!
4.0 miles 58:04
I remember that the sign at the bottom of the plunge off Indian Head read 0.4 to the summit, so my Garmin is consistently short compared to the posted mileage. This was one dirty descent. The grade was a consistent 25-35%, which is not really runable, especially on broken, shattered stones. It was so loose, I was kicking up dinner plate sized rocks that landed on my downhill leg. In comparison, the downhills at Escarpment are much cleaner and can be run much harder. 0.4 miles in 6 minutes downhill; I wasn’t really going much faster than on the climb!
4.4 miles 1:06:32
The descent of Indian is immediately followed by the ascent of Twin. I reached the first lower summit in about 8 minutes of mostly hiking. Running wasn’t much of an option.
5.0 miles 1:14:08
After a quick down and up, I reached the real summit of Twin, and then the trail heads straight off the side of the mountain. Since all the summits on this trail are tree covered, you don’t even get a nice break of running across summit rocks. It’s just non-stop roots and rocks. I don’t know who cut this trail, but he must have been drunk, or…
5.5 miles 1:25:57
I guess this is supposed to be one of the easier descents on the trail. OK. 800’ in a half mile, that’s not bad. More extremely loose footing, but you get breaks when you suddenly get to a six foot ledge. Fortunately, I was able to slow down enough to keep from launching myself into the pines. The poor footing does tend to save the quads from the pounding that would get on a more tame descent, but they get plenty of work just keeping you upright. I knew I had a 1000’ climb up Sugarloaf over one mile. This is getting to feel like a pattern.
6.5 miles 1:46:06
More hiking up steep terrain on Sugarloaf. I wasn’t really sure how I was progressing at this point, but did realize that this was a bit more than Escarpment + a few miles. The mix of hiking and running is nice on such long trails. I passed by a few Korean hikers on this section. One of them was periodically letting out some sort of rebel yell. I’ve never witnessed such a display, but appreciated his effort, and felt his pain.
7.5 miles 2:02:01
Right after negotiating some tough ledges off the summit, it looked like I was going to be able to hammer down the base of Plateau. The trail then started to switchback a few times, which is odd, and then stopped at a 30’ cliff. I thought I was off trail, but I was wrong. The trail went right down the cliff. Once again, there were a few very key tree roots, and some rather long reaches for someone who is only 5’5”. There wasn’t much time to relax, as there were several more high ledges following the cliff o’ death. I avoided taking any swan dives off the mountain, and was looking forward to the climb up Hunter Mountain, where I could relax.
8.5 miles 2:28:21
The ascent up Plateau is a grind. I tried to eat a Cliff Bar about halfway up, but I wasn’t really hungry for solid food, and it took me a while to finish it. I was getting most of my calories from a combination of Coke and Gatorade, and still had plenty of left until I reached route 214.
10.3 miles 2:46:41
The ridge across Plateau is over 2 miles long in total, and I was able to open up my stride on parts of it. Only about half of the ridge is what I would call fast running, as the first half has plenty of intertwined tree roots that induce constant adjustments of your stride. I think I managed to get down to 6 minute mile pace at some point, but that didn’t last very long. I had some route finding issues at the end of the ridge, but I didn’t lose much time.
11.3 miles 3:01:44
Another 1200’ drop finally gets me to route 214. Some sort sections were somewhat runable, but there were also plenty of small ledges and more extended sections of talus. At one point, I thought I was getting close to the halfway point in Stony Clove, and then spotted the road, which was still only a tiny ribbon through the trees.
13.1 miles 3:37:23
I took a few minutes to refill my bottles at the base of Hunter, and then was off on the second, and supposedly easier half of the Devil’s Path. The first half the climb had several steep sections that I hiked, but the trail became less steep towards the top, and I ran most of the upper half, even a few sections that I probably should have hiked. The Devil’s Path doesn’t cross the summit of Hunter, so I only got within about 500 ft. of the top and then started the long traverse around the shoulder of the mountain.
15.7 miles 4:09:08
My only slips of the day were along the side of Hunter, when my foot broke through the side of the narrow singletrack. You know a traverse is steep when you slip, and when you catch yourself, your head is level with the trail. There wasn’t much risk of falling far due to the dense forest, at least in most spots. The descent off Hunter had a number of runable sections with good footing, but it also had some very overgrown sections that hid large holes and algae covered stones. It seemed to go longer than expected, but I’m not sure why I had any specific expectations, since I had never been on the trail. Now I just had to get up and down Westkill
18.0 miles 4:45:15
I ran most of the way up Westkill. While the plan was to try and run harder in the second half, I didn’t really think I was going to be conservative enough early on, so the climb was a bit of a surprise. It also helped that the trail was relatively wide, and the footing was pretty good, with solid rocks and few roots. As I neared the top, I could tell my quads were ready to call it a day. This was the only summit that is clearly marked; it has a large cairn in the middle of the trees.
22.4 miles 5:35:32
The initial descent off West Kill is a great section of trail. I started to think that I could finish with a time of around 5:25 based on my speed off the top, but then I ran into more rocks, ledges, and plenty of roots. There is also a 100’ climb with about 2.5 miles to go that just sucked the life out of me. My quads felt betrayed, as I had told them we were done with climbing, and they forced me to hike up the small ledges. I think I got to the final trail sign with 1.5 miles to go at about 5:20, and it obvious that I would be substantially slower than 5:25. I guess the Devil was a little annoyed that I had good weather and had managed to avoid spilling any blood on the trail, so he threw in some stinging nettles. The nettles in this last section were absolutely horrible. I was covered in salt and sweat from head to toe, and the combination of sweat and stinging nettles made me want to tear my skin off. I almost had to stop to scratch my legs. I had the impression from the other trip reports that I might be able to run 6-7 minute pace on this section, but footing and my fatigue would not allow it. I cruised the last downhill and suddenly was at our Forester, which was the only car in the lot on Spruceton Road. I’m not really surprised at the short GPS distance (most reports have the trail around 24-25 miles), as I noticed my Garmin was losing reception occasionally. It’s too bad the Devil threw the blanket over all the views on the route, but the cool damp weather was appreciated on all the climbs.
As I drove out Spruceton Road, I realized how crazy it is to have such a wild place so close to New York City. The valleys in this part of the Catskills are incredibly steep, as I learned over and over and over. When you drive through them, the ridges don’t tower like the Rockies or Alps, but they are so steep that it seems you are surrounded by a one dimensional vertical backdrop of trees. It’s surreal. On a sunny summer day, the houses on Spruceton Rd. probably only see a few hours of sunlight!
I wore my Oroc 280’s on the run, and they worked great. The flexibility and traction was ideal on the uphills, but I might have been happier with more shoe, perhaps the 310’s or 319’s, on the rugged descents. No blisters or hot spots at all, although I should mention that I was able to keep my feet dry the entire run due to the hot and dry summer we have had. Dragging wet shoes up those climbs would have certainly added to my finish time.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Jim Johnson gets things started off once again this week on a Thursday night where he will race at the Saunders 10k in Rye Harbor, NH. Eric Charette will be racing the Squak Mountain Trail Half Marathon in beautiful Issaquah, WA. There is also a 50k race option but the half-marathon has a substantial 3650 feet of elevation gain. Speaking of climbing, this Saturday is the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. Alex Nichols and Peter Maksimow will be tackling the ascent with 7815' of vertical gain. Amy Lane will be doing some climbing of her own, to the tune of 13,400' over 32 miles at the More & More Difficult 50k in the White Mountains of NH. On Sunday, Dwight Shuler will be at race #3 in the Xterra NC Trail Series. This 6.2 miler is at Colonel Francis Beatty Park Trails outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Also on Sunday Jim Johnson will be at the Mt. Toby Trail Run. A 14 mile out and back trail race to the top of Mt. Toby near Sunderland, MA. Lastly on Sunday, Chad Denning and Aliza Lapierre will team up to start the Gore-Tex Transrockies Race. From August 22nd -27th, up to 200 teams will traverse 113 miles of the Colorado Rockies in this fully supported stage race.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Ok - the kicker here is not so much that they won the race, as these Inov-8 wearing yogis have been upping their game this last year, with podium finishes in 7 of their last 7 races, but who they had to beat to win this time. Dart-Nuun/SportMulti, one of Adventure Racing's best established teams (two times national champion) came with a strong team roster including female phenom Jen Segger, powerhouse Sean Clancy, and their venerable capitain, hardman Cyril. Both teams had a great race, but in the end, YogaSlackers crossed after 26 hours and 1 minute on non-stop action, a mere 30 minutes ahead of Dart-Nuun.
The team captain Jason credits their x-talon 212 shoes as the best race shoes ever invented, with diminutive powerhouse Chelsey (she wears women's 5 and Inov-8 only makes down to women's 6 in the x-talon) chiming in - "when do I get my pair?" Inov-8 is due to realease the children's version of the xtalon later this year. With those on her feet, who knows what the team will be capable of.
You'll see the trio next at Nationals in October!
Jim Johnson started his long weekend off on the right track by placing 4th OA in a speedy 15:08 at the Cigna 5k last Thursday evening. On Saturday Jim raced at the New England 10k Road Championships / Bridge of Flowers and got 15th OA in 33:30 on a slow, hilly course. Teammates Kevin Tilton was 40th OA (35:04) and Abby Mahoney was 11 OA female (40:33). Then on Sunday Jim raced on tired legs at the Savoy Mountain Trail Race (22.2 miles) and grabbed 3rd OA in 2:52:32 despite running faster than last year when he won. Speaking of speedy, Amber Moran raced at the Main Street 1 Mile Race in Waynesville, NC on Friday night and won the female title with a time of 4:44. Lastly Team Granite got 3rd OA at the Untamed New England Adventure Race.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Grant Sisler racing with AR Nav Supplies and INOV-8Almost there... Well, not exactly, but at this point, it's close enough to know that there's nothing I can really do at this point to change things. 30 days until the first of the four-100 milers that I'm going to try to do.
The training has finally started to go well, but I'm way behind where I wish I would be. The Sonoma 50 on March 27th (which turned into the Sonoma 12 due to a calf injury) really, really put me behind the 8-ball. Up until then I was knocking out a comfortable 50km every weekend and was feeling good. The shooting pain in my calf that made me pull out of the race put an end to that, and a 6 week rest/recover program by Dr. Callister gradually got me back and ready to go. The Silver State 50 miler on May 15th gave me back some confidence as I felt good and could have run a lot further at the end, but still, a lot can go wrong in the last 50 miles of a race, I was only half way there!
Now, it's really just about getting as strong as I can mentally and physically. I really don't think that I can do a ton to improve my endurance in 5 weeks, but I do think that there's a lot I can do to mess things up. The key will be to remember that it's a lot easier to try and do to much and really screw things up then to do to little. I'd rather be under-trained and healthy, then hurt!
I just got in my shipment of Inov-8 shoes and gaiters. I figure that even if I don't run another step between now and then, 400 miles on a pair of shoes in rough rugged terrain is a lot to handle, might as well have a backup! The gaiters are a no brainer, I'm not even sure why I ran without them before. They weigh nothing, are easy to get on/off and they keep rocks out of my shoes!
This weekend is going to be a weekend to see the course. They have training runs up on the course and it will be 30 miles on Saturday, 20 miles on Sunday, and 20 miles on Monday. I think I'm just going to run the 30 and the 20 so I can avoid the drive back on Monday of Memorial Day from Tahoe. Plus, if I make it 80 miles, I've got a feeling that from that point on, the excitement of the finish line can pull me through (adrenaline can last for 6 hours right???) AR Nav Supplies will be watching all Grants progress from home on our iPad Case protected iPad. This will be a fun Grand Slam to attempt to follow.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Jim Johnson will have a very busy week as he pulls off a triple header of racing action. Starting Thursday evening Jim will race the largest road race in NH and probably NE, at the Cigna 5k in Manchester. On Saturday Jim will be at the USATF-New England 10k road Championship at Bridge of Flowers 10k in Shelburne Falls, MA. Kevin Tilton will be joining him for that one as well. Then on Sunday, Jim will keep increasing the distance this time at the Savoy Mountain Trail Race (22.2 miles) in Florida, MA. Jim has won this race 2 years in a row.
Coming fresh of the heels of their big win at the US Rogaine Championships in NY. Team Granite will be up against some tough competition this week/weekend at the Untamed New England Adventure Race from August 12-15th.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Escarpment 30k 2010
As I note in my Inov-8 team profile, Escarpment is my favorite race. It’s not the hardest thing to complete, but it’s one of the hardest races to get right. This year, my training and racing have been going well for the past few months, and I felt that I was in shape to run a fast time. In the past, I’ve run under 2:50 a couple of times, but recently I’ve been closer to 3 hours. While we’ve had some rough weather conditions over the past few years, some of my runs were lacking due to insufficient training. You definitely need decent weather to run a fast time at Escarpment, and I was encouraged when race day dawned nice and cool.
I usually don’t know much about the field prior to the race, as I’m not as familiar with some of the New York and Pennsylvania runners. This year, Dick Vincent, the RD, told me that Jesse Johnson was coming from PA to win the race. Jesse is fast trail runner, but we’ve never raced, and he had never been to Escarpment, so I didn’t know what to expect. I thought about modifying my race plan to try and ensure I’d get a 10th win, but I’ve found that running your own race is the best way to compete. With a nice cool day, my plan was to run pretty hard from the gun and see how close I could get to my course record splits from 2004.
As we lined up for the start, I noticed a fit looking guy who stated that he was from CA, and I thought that’s a long way to come for a trail race. I usually don’t head to CA unless I’m planning to run pretty fast, and he was lining up near the front. I also spotted Dave Vona, who just about ran me into the ground at a very intense mountain race a few years ago in VT. It’s a long story, but after that race I have a lot of respect for Dave’s mountain running abilities. Dave also ran a 2:31 marathon last fall, and has a couple of recent 3rd place finishes at Escarpment.
I started to think it might be crowded at the front. I started about as hard as I dared to with 5000’ of climbing ahead of me, and was surprised that no one went with me. Dave wasn’t far behind as we passed by his cheering section of grizzly looking dudes with full beards waving axes and yelling. Really big axes, like Paul Bunyan. By about a half mile in, I had a 10 second lead on Dave, who looked strong on the initial gradual climb up the switchbacks. I seemed to slowly pull away as we made our way up Windham peak, and I felt as though I was making good time. I reached the peak in about 33 minutes, and while I was hoping for 32 minutes, it was more humid that I had thought, as I was soaked with sweat. I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and began the first big descent. I had decided to go with the Oroc 280’s which had worked well at Greylock, and they generated a lot of confidence on the downhills. The only thing that held me back was the thorn bushes covering the trail. For the last several years, the first half of the course has been pretty overgrown, and this seems to slow everyone down as we try to figure out where our feet are landing. You really can’t even see the trail at times.
While I felt like I was running fast, my splits indicated that I was off course record pace. I thought I might be able to make it up in the second half of the race, and tried not to overreact early in the race. My legs were a little heavy as I clawed my way up the 1100’ climb over 0.9 miles up Blackhead, and thought that maybe hiking with Gavin in his pack the day before the race might not have been such a good idea. I was about 4 minutes behind course record pace at the top of Blackhead, but my legs felt good enough to really push the steep descent off the summit.
Somehow, I lost another 5 minutes on the next 2.8 mile section that drops 1400’. Looking back on my record splits, I’m not sure how I did that section in 21 minutes in 2004. I was definitely feeling tired, and the climb up Stoppel made it clear that I just didn’t have it on the uphills. I was fully aware of losing 2 minutes on this climb, but still thought I had a shot at a mid 2:50 as I reached the aid station in 2:24. Despite running last year’s race with wet shoes that felt like they weighed 5 lbs each due to the incredible amount of water on the course, I managed to finish the last 4.4 miles in 32 minutes, which is as fast as I’ve ever run that section.
The first part of the descent went well, but as it flattened out after about a mile, my legs started to fade. With about 2.5 miles left, my right hamstring started to tighten, which actually happens quite often towards the end of Escarpment to some degree. Usually it is a temporary issue due to repeatedly jumping off 4-6’ ledges on this section, but both hamstrings started to go this year. Between my hamstring issues and the fact that I knew I was going to have a hard time breaking 3:00 on a day that seemed fast, I was truly worried that I was getting caught. Peter Keeney almost ran me down the first year I ran Escarpment, and I always think about that when I struggle towards the end. I’m just glad I now have a good sense of where the finish is, because the last couple miles at Escarpment always seem to go on forever. I ran fast when my legs allowed, and tried not to aggravate my exhausted hamstrings on the some climbs.
The best part of the race was coming through the last tunnel of trees and hearing Steph, her parents, Gavin and his cousin Miles yelling for me at the finish. This is the first time that Gavin has been cheering for me at the finish when I came in; he’s usually off playing somewhere. I heard a loud, “GO DADDA” even before I could see anyone at the finish. I got big hugs from everyone, and after grabbing a couple sodas, we all made our way to North Lake, where I spent a half hour playing with Gavin and Miles in the water until I was on the verge of hypothermia. My time of 2:58:59 was disappointing, but many runners seemed to have a slow day. I was the only runner to crack 3:10, as Dave Vona came in about 12 minutes after me, and Jesse Johnson was third with a 3:15. Stanislav Trufanov had a very strong race to almost nab 3rd with a 3:16.
After getting some lunch and dry clothes, I headed back over the finish for to set up my Inov-8 table and talk shoes, which I manage to be able to do no matter how tired I am! I usually don’t hang around the finish much at Escarpment, and it was nice catching up with a lot runners I don’t regularly see at New England trail races. It was a special bonus to get introduced to George Hirsch by Dick Vincent. George founded The Runner magazine, which eventually merged with Runners World, where he is now Publisher Emeritus. He was also involved in the founding of the New York City Marathon and has had a substantial impact on the development of distance running in the U.S. over the last 40 years. George had run over to the finish to say hello to Dick and watch the finish, and we had a good time talking about the race and running in general.
The Oroc 280’s held up well throughout the race, and my feet were in perfect shape after the race. The traction was the best out of any shoe I’ve raced in.
I usually neglect to thank the volunteers at Escarpment, which is an especially unappreciative thing to do. The volunteers have to hike in the water up to three miles to reach the course, and even manage to lug multiple gallons up to the top of Blackhead at almost 4000’. Over the last 11 years they have been very supportive of me personally, and at this point I sometimes think of them as my own crew when I run through stations alone. I raise my cup of Gatorade to you, the Escarpment volunteer corps! Thanks for 11 years of painful fun!
Monday, August 9, 2010
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
As the Summer temps continue to sizzle across the country, we still have athletes out there battling the elements. First off Jim Johnson and Ben Nephew will be toeing the line at the Dam Trail Race, an 11.5 Miler in Oxford, MA. This race has 2 distances (also a 5 miler) on a rolling course covering a variety of terrain in the Army Corps of Engineers Flood Control Project. Eric Charette will be at the Lake Antoine Classic 15km in Iron Mountain, MI. This course is mostly flat on well groomed trails, there is also a 5 mile road option. Dwight Shuler will be back at one of his favorite venues, the Captain Thurmonds Challenge in Fayetteville, WV. The Captain Thurmond's Challenge consists of 28.5 miles of the most extreme whitewater, mountain biking and running in the state. Dwight has posted an overall win here in 2008 and 2nd place overall last year.
I'm now in Zinal preparing for my 2nd biggest race of the summer, Sierre-Zinal. Known as one of the most famous and historic mountain races. I was able to accomplish another of my bucket list items in visiting the Hotel Weisshorn. This hotel is notorious to all runners who have competed in the Sierre-Zinal race. This is the point where the course starts to drop pretty hard and also a point in the course where you have literally tore through all of your glycogen stores, and many are hanging on at this point awaiting the dangerous descent ahead. All of the greats have at least attempted the race once or twice. I got a chance to see the course, and what I have concluded, it will be the hardest race I have done to date. The competition coming this year make the race even more of a challenge. A mixture of veterans of the course, European and National Champions coming from all over the world and many who have won the race in the past! Its obvious I'm excited to put myself in this field of runners, take a gamble, play my hand and see what I come out with. The course has some very STEEP drops and also ascents, the final descent is gravity defying and I'm 100% certain many will fall and I have even prepared to take a spill as I'm sure with wet conditions almost everyone in the field will take a spill, one can only pray that its a small one that won't inhibit your race.
|Finish line on the Grande Dixence Dam|
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
All in all, it has been a great season for the YogaSlackers so far. 6 races, 6 podiums. This includes four 1st place finishes and two 2nd's. Former national champions - DART/Nuun/SportMulti has been the only team this season to best the slackers.
But the trio (Jason, Daniel, and Chelsey) is excited to have stiff competition and will meet the DART team again in 10 days at the GoldRush AR.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Another stellar weekend of race results from the team against some stacked fields. Heading things off, Todd Braje (photo by Scott Dunlap) blistered the Burning River 100 Mile course in 15:29:24 and can now be called the US 100 Mile Trail National Champion. Scott Dunlap had a strong race as well and took 9th OA in 18:12:17. At the White River 50 mile/USATF Championships, Yassine Diboun had a great effort grabbing 5th OA in a speedy 7:05:57. At the USA 15k Trail National Championships, Gina Lucrezi ran a super effort for 2nd OA female in 1:00:40. At the Xterra NC Tsali Recreation Races, Amber Moran not only won the female title but also took the overall win for the 4.5 mile race in 30:06. Dwight Shuler was 8th OA in the 11 mile race in 1:22:32. Great job everyone!