21 December 2011

Pullman Winter Ultra #1 - race report

Nearly 40 humans and a few dogs showed up for the first of two runs of the second annual Pullman Winter Ultra series. Some of us did the full 50k, others 25k or shorter. The weather was great for a December in Pullman -- sunny and temps in the upper-30's to low-40's.

The course is a simple 7.75-mile paved loop around Pullman. Four loops equals 50k. The course is extremely flat minus the double-pointed hill.

Sadie ran the 50k with me. She's seems to be fully recovered from last month's leg issues. She's done great on a couple 20+ mile runs the last couple weeks, so I thought she'd be ready for the 50k.  And she did great -- a little tired on the fourth lap, but so was I!  I ran about what I was expecting too. I probably could have gone a bit harder to beat my best 50k time (I missed it by about 5 minutes), but the goal wasn't to gas it on this run.  (results)

I'm actually feeling in very good shape right now. I think the break from racing as much as I was has allowed me to put in some better quality weekend runs. I think I can break 4hrs on this course if I really wanted to (and if the weather is not like we had at the first event last year.) But it would probably hurt a lot...so I'm not sure how bad I want to.  My main incentive right now is to not injure myself. Last winter I think I overtrained a bit with the growing excitement for my Atacama Crossing attempt and I ended up straining my achilles a couple weeks before that race. My excitement for Scotland is growing a little each day, and the more excited I get about running, the more I want to run, even on "rest" days.

Sadie with one mile to go.

In other news, I'm heading to Texas for the holidays, and I'll be running a marathon with my sister on New Year's Eve near Dallas. Should be fun.

And I received exciting news that in 2012 I'll be a part of the Brooks ID team for a fourth consecutive year.

Keep running!


06 December 2011

My "OMG I Can't Wait!" Race for 2012

I love to run. I love to travel.  And after I ran my first marathon in 2007, I thought it would be a great idea to incorporate the two by traveling to another country for a race each year. So far, so good.

In 2008, I visited spectacular Iceland for the Laugavegur Ultra.
In 2009, I traveled to South Africa to run the famous Comrades Marathon.
In 2010, I drove north to beautiful British Columbia for a low-key 50k in the North Vancouver mountains.
In 2011, I trekked south of the equator again to compete in the epic Atacama Crossing in Chile.

And if everything goes as planned, this summer I'm going to Scotland for the 96-mile West Highland Way Race! I submitted my application five weeks ago and just received confirmation that I've been accepted to participate. This race has been on my bucket list since I first created a race bucket list. I'm stoked.

It's nice to have an exciting event waiting for me on the calendar. I think it makes training so much more enjoyable when there's even a tab bit more motivation attached to my feet each time I step out on the trail. Not that I really need any extra motivation; I'm still riding the running-high I got back when I ran my first marathon in 2007. :)

Keep running!


29 November 2011

Winter Running in Snow and Mud and Dark

No racing lately (and not much blogging), but lots of running. Winter is coming fast, so this is the time of year when I try to sneak in as many trail and mountains runs as I can before there's too much snow to run on them.

I also discovered an exciting new trail in Asotin Creek Canyon that's only about an hour drive from me. Sadie and I plan to explore the canyon much more in the spring.

I had a nice holiday break in Salt Lake City and Boise, and despite eating more pie than was probably good for me (Who am I kidding? It was SO GOOD for me!) I was able to put some good miles in.

Sadie hurt her front left leg a few weeks ago - I think it was from chasing the tennis ball - so she got several days off and skipped three Saturday long runs with me. She hasn't limped for two weeks and seems to be doing fine after 50+ miles last week, so I think she's all healed up now. 

Next up on the schedule are the two Pullman Winter Ultra 50k's and a trip to Texas for the Christmas/New Year holiday that will include running a marathon with my sister on New Year's Eve.

Enjoy some photos from the past few weeks:

First snow on Moscow Mt.
Lower sections nice and clear still.

Higher sections much snowier.

Sadie loves snow more than any dog or human
I've ever seen in my life!

Enjoying first tracks on a Saturday morning mountain run.

Bighorns on my first trip down to the Asotin Creak canyon trail.

First impression. Not bad. I expect to put some
good miles on this trail next year.
(You can see snow at the top of the canyon.)

Ripping down the canyon.
(photo courtesy of my buddy Aaron Whiteman.)

Beautiful weather at the trailhead. It's deceptively winter though;
only a few miles in and a thousand feet gain there is snow covering the trail.

This is how dark it is when I get off work now.

My new favorite trainers for the off-trail days: Brooks Pure Flow.
Two huge thumbs up.

What's winter without a seasonal porter?
Palouse Falls Polar Porter is tasty.

Q: What's the first thing you do after hours of
driving to get to your dad's place in Utah?
A: Give him a hug and say hi.
Q: What's the second thing you do?
A: Take Sadie for a run below the Wasatch Mts.

Early-morning visit to the mountains.

Wasatch mountain running.

Wasatch mountain running.

Looks like I'm not the biggest cat on the mountain.

Pure Mud.

And I was trying to avoid the mud puddles.

With dad in the mountains. Hard to beat this.

Dad pointing to his favorite trails.

Keep running!


01 November 2011

Autumn Warming

The colors have turned and the air has chilled and the miles keep ticking away. 

I love running.

11 October 2011

Mt. Spokane 50k - race report

I had a great time at the first annual Mt. Spokane 50k put on by Rainshadow Running. Great trails, spectacular views, and really good fall weather. It was cold at the start, but it's been way colder (and snowier) on this same weekend in previous years, so I wasn't complaining...much.

The course started off with a little climb and some awesome sections of xc-skiing trails. Nice and gently rolling. Ran into a friend who took the early start. And then a plunge down the mountain.

I ran the first 17 or so miles with another Scott (we carpooled up together). He pushed my pace early on a little more than I had probably planned to push it, but it was good for me. :)  The trails just didn't want us to go any slower they we were going. (And I was geeking out about my new shoes, so I had a little extra bit of adrenaline early on.)

It seems the more beautiful a course is, the more deceptively challenging it can be. When the views are photo-worthy and the trails are welcoming and the colors are spanning the entire spectrum, it's easy to get lost in the moment(s), but by mile 20 I got hit with a not-so-gentle reminder in my legs that I've been running and climbing for a few hours.

The summit of Mt. Spokane was the highpoint of the course, but from the starting line it didn't look like it was going to be that tough of a climb. But if you look at the elevation profile below, you can see that there was a bit of descending before we got to climb up to the top, and that it gets a tad steep near the top. My legs felt pretty strong most of the day, and even on the really steep stuff I felt I was able to keep a decent power-hike pace.

Did I mention the views were awesome? I bring a camera on just about every run I go on, no matter how short or far (never know what awesome photo-op there might be), but this was one of those runs where I was particularly glad to have my camera. Sometimes a race isn't so important that it's not worth stopping for a couple minutes to take some photos. :)

I eventually finished too. 5th place overall -- results.

Enjoy some images from Mt. Spokane:

Mt. Spokane 50k elevation profile.

Gathering at the start. Mt. Spokane in the background.

This view greeted us at the top of our first climb.

Top of first climb too. The clouds were amazing all day.

Cruising with the other Scott about 8 miles in.
(Photo by Candice Burt)

Some sweet single-track.

More juicy trail.

Some rocky bits too.

Brooks' new Pure Grit. This is their new lightweight trail shoe.
Love them.

From the summit of Mt. Spokane.

View coming down the summit.

Looking back up to the summit and the beautiful wildflowers.

Finished in 5:23:21.

Where's my beer?

Sadie didn't get to run this one, but
she wasn't mad at me for too long.

My calendar is quiet for the rest of the year. I'll probably throw in a few more local races when they come up. And I'm going to try to get to the mountains with Sadie as much as I can before the snow hits hard.

Keep running!


05 October 2011

Local Trail Running Race Reports for September

I've had a fun September competing in some local trail races.

Sept 11 - 
Moscow Mountain Madness is becoming a local trail race legend. Beautiful trails with some nice ups and downs. This year they changed it to a half-marathon (previously a 12-miler) and included more single-track. I liked most of the changes. The big negative change was that they didn't allow dogs this year, so Sadie had to watch from the sidelines. (This is understandable as the race gets bigger...but it sure was nice being able to run with her before.)

If ever there's a "hometown" race, this is it for me. The course follows trails that I've run with Sadie hundreds of times. I know where the rocks are, I know where the roots are, I know the best spots to stop and take a photo.

It was a good day to be on the trails. Hot (near 90 degrees), but still a good day. I'm usually pretty conservative on the climbs because I want to save something to rip the downhills, but I pushed it a little more than usual on the first big 1,500' climb. I came off the climb  probably somewhere in 15th place or so.

I had a short low-moment around mile 7 or 8 where my legs felt dead, but that only lasted a bit. When we hit the 5 mile descent I was feeling good and started picking off a few people.  I ended up finishing in 10th place overall with a time of 1:49:38.  I thought a time like that would have placed higher, but there was some stout competition this year at the front of the pack.

Elevation Profile of Moscow Mountain Madness
On the course about 3 miles in.

Shortly after crossing the finish line.

Sept 17 -
The Puffer Butte Huff and Puff Trail Run is a low-key, relatively new 5-mile trail race at Fields Springs State Park.  I hadn't run these trails before so I thought it would be nice to go down and check them out.

And dogs were allowed. :)

Turns out the Lewis-Clark State College cross-country team (ranked 10th nationally in their division...I just looked it up) came out in full-force to use this race as a "training run."

At the gun, the men's team sprinted (literally) out of the gates to attack the mile-long climb. Sadie and I watched them zoom away up the windy dirt road.

Not that I was trying to race the cross-country guys or anything (insert smiley face), but I think I was motivated to push it a bit faster than I normally would on my climbs. So I pushed my pace even though they were all already out of sight.  Near the top of the climb I could see a bunch of the road ahead and the main pack had broken into a few smaller packs and there were a couple stragglers falling behind.  Again, I wasn't trying to "race" them, but I definitely wanted to see if I could at least catch the stragglers. :)

I pushed it on the post-climb descent and started gaining on the two stragglers. I passed both of them by the end of the descent and we turned onto the final three miles of the course that was pretty flat with a couple rolling sections and only one super-short climb/descent.

I put a little time on the two stragglers and with about a mile to go I had caught up with another. He looked back and seemed surprised to see an old guy with a dog gaining on him.  That seemed to fire him up, because he picked it up an extra gear and pulled away from me pretty effortlessly. Ah, to have young legs again. (/sniffle)

I finished in 30:03 and was sucking a lot of air. 12 of the cross-country kids beat me, but I ended up finishing ahead of two of them. Surprisingly, and a bit embarrassingly, I was officially awarded the overall winner's ribbon at the award ceremony. I guess they weren't eligible for awards because of restrictions and regulations they have on what they can officially compete in.  And since I was the first non-cross-country person to cross the finish line, I got the ribbon. I almost didn't go up to accept it when they called my name because it felt funny knowing that 12 people crossed the finish line ahead of me.

Besides that awkwardness, it was a lot of fun. Sadie was first-overall dog once again. I think she's only been beaten by another dog in two races ever -- one time was my fault for being slower than the other guy, the other time was her fault for waiting until mile 2.5 of a 5k to take a potty break. :)

Cruising some downhill single-track with Sadie.
Huff and Puff 5-mile trail run.

Sept 24 -
This was the first - and maybe only - Wild Moose Chase Trail 25k. It was put on up at Mt. Spokane as a fundraiser for an Eastern Washington University doctoral program group.  It was a huge success, so I hope to see it continued by future members of this group in the years to come.

I hadn't done any trail running up on Mt. Spokane before, so I was excited to see the trails. I'm doing the Mt. Spokane 50k this weekend, so I figured this 25k would be a good preview of the mountain.

Big bonus points for this race for allowing dogs! Sadie loves to lace 'em up as much as the rest of us.

There was a pretty big crowd at the start, so my game plan was - because I was running with Sadie on a leash - to start at an easy pace near the mid-back just to see how everyone sorted themselves out. So we stuck back for a couple miles. Whenever the trail widened up enough for a safe with-dog pass then Sadie and I would just ahead a couple runners at a time. We did this for about three or four miles. Then the course left the single-track and moved onto a long and winding dirt service road. With the wider road I could let Sadie off the leash without worrying about her tripping up anyone on the single-track. That's when we were able to pick up the pace quite a bit, and within half a mile or so we passed several others.

Then I didn't see anyone for the most part of a long, three-mile climb. There was an aid-station at the top and I stopped to get Sadie some water. As usual, I run the climbs pretty conservatively in hope of having something in the tank for strong descents. Same here. We hit a long descent on a dirt road and I was really able to crank up the pace. I passed a couple guys, and then around mile nine I finally reached my friend Doug who'd rode up with me. He said something like, "There's only three people ahead of us." Cool. I knew we had one big climb left (up to the top of one of the ski resort's chairlifts), but that the race finished with descent from there.

Right about then we hit the climb. And it was a good one. One of those where you're glad there's a chairlift to get you to the top. Within a few hundred meters of climbing I caught up with the guy in third place. He was looking back a lot and had a slight limp. But seeing me gave him a bit of motivation and he pushed ahead of me by about a minute. Doug had caught up with me again and I was back in fifth place, but I knew there's been some downhill before the finish line, so I stayed back at my conservative climbing pace.

There was a short downhill after the first section of the climb and I passed both of them to move up to third place. Near the end of this descent there was a small stream that I stopped at to let Sadie lay down in, and I was passed up again. The last aid station was at the bottom of the last steep climb (see elevation profile below), and from there we could see the chairlift. I went through about ten seconds back of the third place guy, but pushed it on the bottom of the climb and caught up with him. We hit finished the big climb together, and I was feeling confident that my legs were strong enough to put some time on him on the last mile's downhill.

I pushed ahead of him near the top of the climb, stopped to take a picture at the top, then took off down the single-track. Sadie was cruising too. It's motivating watching her run on trails. She's so excited that it's hard not to be happy and excited yourself.

I felt I was going at a pretty good clip that last mile, but knowing that I was in third place I found myself peeking back a couple times just to make sure the next guy wasn't sneaking up on me. But he wasn't, and I crossed the finish line in third place with a time of 2:10:26 (results). Turned out I put about five minutes on him in that last mile+.  Another top-place finish for Sadie in the dog-division. :)

Wild Moose Chase Trail 25k elevation profile.

Warming up with Sadie.

Sadie excited to finally start running.
Climbing below the chairlift.

3rd-place guy just in front of me near the top of the final climb.
Sadie up ahead of him in the shadows.

Start of the downhill single-track at the end.
Great time of year for wild flowers on Mt. Spokane.
Crossing the finish line with Sadie.
(She surged ahead at the last moment to beat me by a nose.)

1st place age-group = jar of honey. Sweet!

Sept 27 -
September 27th also saw the end of the super-fun, first-annual, Kamiak Loop Trail Series.  We started it in late-Spring and ran every other week on the super-tough Kamiak Loop (within the first mile there's nearly 1,000ft of cumulative climbing). It was a 2.25 mile course formatted in a time trials style.

Hopefully this will become a trail running fixture in the area for years to come too.

Kamiak Loop Trail Series elevation profile.

Flying down the ridge-line side of the Kamiak Loop trail.

Keep running!