Monday, September 25, 2017

The ways a day can go. Sun Mountain 50K - 5/20/17

Side note: I thought I posted this months ago. 
My bad...

"Ok, have fun and be careful. I'm going to swing this down as hard as possible. " 

When I think of the ways a day can go. Man, I usually laugh a bit, cause really who the hell knows. This isn't a big story about persevering over great heights etc etc. I get migraines often enough, and Sun Mt 50k happened to be the next random day that one landed on. 

I had one earlier in the week, so was kind of waiting for a flair up, and was just hoping it would pass on a few days, but not so much.

Leading into the race I had an odd feeling that I just chalked it up to taper, fatigue, burnout. I wasn't looking at this as a race or that I'd even finish. The last 50k left such a bad taste in my mouth that I stopped everything for 8 months. Mostly, or directly because I didn't drop from that race and like an asshole kept going to "prove something". This time, I had this relief that if the IT band went or anything body related failed, I could drop and not damage myself for the rest of summer like last year. 

The morning was amazing. About 51 and blue skies. I didn't want to run close to the front or in a pack and feel forced. Also, I really wanted to run with Alley for the first two miles, just another weekend run with the two of us "banging out some shit" (BOSS). 

I mention to her the day before: tomorrow you have nothing else to do but run. No clients to talk to, meetings, or schedules to manage, or sitting at your desk with your ass falling asleep. Just one thing. Run. 

At two miles I carried on with my pace and we said we'd see each other in a few. 

I know I've mentioned before but I fuck'n love downhills. Steep technical downhills. Running with a group of 8 when we hit the first major down and sweet beard of Zeus it's a technical mt. bike trail with massive banked turns. So. Much. Fun. 

About mile 6 I felt the start of the headache start, small dark ache behind the eyes. By mile 10 it was about a 5 out of 10, by mile 15 it was at a 7 and my neck had stiffened up. Blah blah blah. Yeah that all sucked, I'll fast forward cause really I wouldn't want to read about having a headache during a race. 

.....we pick up our story already in progress....

I had this great plan: I'd walk to where I waited for Alley when she raced here two years ago. A cool little out crop about mile 20. Sit there, rest, wait for the headache to ease then run with her if I could to the 25.5 aide station and decide to drop or not. Clear plan. Great! Not 2 minutes after said plan I hear,"Hey! What're U do'n here!?!?" 

There goes my plan  : )

New plan: hang on to Alley until mile 25.5

"Do what you need to do and I'll try and stay with you." I heard myself say. If she was in front I could focus on that and push the headache off to the side. In training sometimes I lead, and other days she's the strong one and leads. You never know what the day can bring. We rolled into 25.5 AS and I decided to stay on. A handful of pickles, some ginger ale, and another salt tab. What the hell am I doing to my body??? At this point I figured nothing mechanical was aching, like an IT band or hamstring so I figured. What the hell. 

With the words of,"only 6 more miles.", hanging in the air from the volunteer Alley and I laughed at each other as we both remembered we heard the same thing at Volcanic 50k, which took another three hours to finish after that was said there. 

Funny thing happened on the way to the coliseum.

As we climbed Patterson Mt. the pain in my head started to quickly go away. The climbing was steady and there was a breeze with a bit of shade cover. Up and over the ladder, to prove we weren't cows one last time, and then the final push to the turn around at the top. Holy shit what a climb, but I finally saw a woman come back that was just ahead of us. Phew! 

Sun Mountain 50K

Viewing the valley from the top, legs rested, and head feeling good I laughed looking around. Amazing. Got to spend half the day running with Alley, see her power up the hills and kept that steady pace to keep us just in front of the cut offs.

From the top of Patterson I told Alley- "Ok, have fun and be careful. I'm going to swing this down as hard as possible." 

Legs were under me, views were amazing, descent was on, target rich environment.

So much fun. Slightly technical, but highly runnable. I focus on long steps, grabbing as much ground as possible with each step. Floating, little efforts with tight hard pushes to keep up speed. I stopped once to ask a woman if she needed help as I could see that her IT band had pulled. The obvious lower leg drag that has so many times affected my race days. Made my stomach turn just seeing her. Also, reminded me that it could happen at any time, so I hit the gas again and shot down the trail. ( A later look on Strava had me listed as the second fastest on the day : ) I'll take that! )

Finally hit the road and figured it was about a mile to the finish. Garmin read, 28.9 but I had hit it on some branches earlier and it turned off for a few so I knew I was close. Kept telling myself, "it'll be 31, plan on that, don't think it'll be shorter." So I pushed an easy pace to make sure the bottom didn't fall out. 

Sun Mountain 50K

It's funny, I had no stress about the day. I told myself, if I drop I drop. Enjoy the day. Look around. Soak it in. 

Yeah, the day didn't fall as I would of like, but in a lot of ways it seemed to turn out better. I got to run with my Girl and enjoy the area a bit longer. Spent time watching some amazing people work the effort of the day. Great, great reminder to myself that I've surrounded myself with some pretty amazing people. So yeah, not a bad day ; )

Thursday, August 10, 2017

You know I'm back like I never left...

Whistler 70.3

You know I'm back like I never left 
Another sprint, another step
Another day, another breath
Been chasing dreams, but I never slept
I got a new attitude and a lease on life
And some peace of mind
- Macklemore

Was it really three years ago since my last triathlon? Holy crap! 

After Sun Mountain 50K in May I wanted to take some much needed time off from schedule and training. Training and schedule. Walking the dogs was the only scheduled training for two weeks. 

Race morning: headphones in with the biggest grin on my face listening to “Glorious” from Macklemore over and over. No fear. No nerves. Just this feeling of Some MF’n Fun is going to be had today!

Training wasn’t great for this race. I had some outstanding injuries from swimming that showed up like clockwork after 20 minutes in the pool or OWS every time. The ongoing saga with the bike and hip was a hassle not cleared up until just weeks before race day. 

Being injured going into training camp I was on the fence about my excitement level of doing the race and my level of endurance. Feeling severely under trained I just didn’t want to have a meltdown or extravagant shitshow happen. So slow and easy, and ignore that voice in my head of saying, “You should be up there, riding with them, pacing with them, blah blah blah..”. I wasn’t and I couldn’t. I was at peace with that and that really set the stage or mindset for the rest of training.

The major take away from training camp was that I was able to run off the bike with no hip pain. My bike fitter - Erik at Velolopez had me which out crankarms for shorter ones and put me in a more aggressive position. For the first time I felt like I could apply power into the bike rather than pushing it in front of the bike. More of a running feel, than a walking up stair steps that are just a bit too tall. The hip pain during and after the bike has really been the reason for staying off the bike the last 2-3 years. During camp I had no pain from either ride and at the time I just ignored it and figured it would come eventually. 

Side note - The run at training camp: fakus! 

At the swim start I had three things rolling through my head.
  • The swim is the swim. Get out in 40 minutes or your shoulder will fall apart.
  • There are fun places on the bike today, you just need to ride out to them.
  • Everything on the run.

Got into the swim line for the rolling start and found myself standing next to Tom Lee of all people. I love the randomness of it! 

Rolling start was great, found some feet and did no effort for the first 20 minutes. A bit more effort on the way back just to keep up with the waves from the wind and take advantage of the extra speed. Heading around the last buoy I swam wide right about 6 feet as to not get crowded with the 4 people I was swimming with, the left turn put us swimming parallel to the waves about 75 yards from shore. In that half second of making the turn I went from swimming with four people to about two dozen. 

The wave I had been lifted on had stood up a group just in front of me. “OH, SHIT!” flashed through me and as soon as I hit the water I started swimming full gas to get away from the group and get through this section as soon as possible. I slapped down hard on the water at least every other stroke, but tried to swim as fast and as close to the water as possible. Swam until I hit the shore passing lots of others walking from about 50 feet out. 

I burned a lot of matches in that last 5 minutes. My heart rate was so high and I didn’t want to bring that on the bike with me so I got ready to go then looking at my watch I made myself sit in the chairs for two solid minutes. Reminding myself that this day wasn’t about the swim or the bike. I wanted sub-2 on the run. 

Our run during training camp was one full loop of the course in about 90 degree heat on tired legs. I took it out steady then pushed the pace staying at 8:10 pace +- 5 seconds. That run put that feeling of ‘This is what I want, this is what I want to give.’ This is where my race starts and the mental fight I’ve been training and looking for. 

Goose racked up
Goose ready to roll!
Rolling out on the bike, man what a feeling! I remember three years ago getting on the bike and within 2 minutes the shoulder screaming at me and knowing it was going to be a long hurtful day. This year however, I saw Alley as I rolled out and everything was feeling great.

Fun was priority #1 on the bike, layup and enjoy, I figured I’d give up 10 minutes on the bike staying around 75% perceived effort until the turn around back into town. That’s where I felt the real fun and effort could start. I love climbing. Climbing on the bike is just about the most humbling thing ever. Swing up to a group, work through, look for the next group on the road, make a surge to cover the gap and work through that group. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

I have this thing I enjoy doing. I’ll admit it’s kind of an asshole move. But not really. I hate seeing people draft and I hate seeing people (guys) speed up just to not letting others (women) pass. Seriously, if your ego is that fragile that you can’t let someone (a woman) who’s in better shape than you pass?!?!? Whatevs….lame! 

So if I see this happen, like I did and I see the guy crack from trying to not let the woman pass I’ll speed up and yell ‘on your left’ going by at a much faster pace. I usually hear the swears, and grumbling, but not over my laughing. I on the other hand, love being passed on climbs, mostly because I love watching different styles and how different people settle into a climb. Anyways...

The last climb just past Green Lake I dropped a chain after grabbing and going through a group. I overreacted for about a minute, yelling at myself to slow down and don’t try and catch them again, then calmed down. It was super fun racing back through Whistler Village. I could hear Phil and Paul commentating: “He’s taking a bit of risk going around the course just knowing he’s going to get that little bit of respite in T2” I can’t remember ever being in a race and feeling that much control over effort on the bike. Legs. Felt. Amazing! 

Off the bike (Goose) I saw Alley and yelled over to her, “I remember ALL of this!” 
In 2014 I lost 25-30 minutes of memory  between T2 and mile 3 of the run.

In the morning I was listening to Glorious by Macklemore, as soon as I hit the run I had: “Hey! I'ma keep running. Cause a winner don't quit on themselves!” playing over and over in my head from Beyonce. Just heard the song for the first time about three weeks ago. 

I told Alley I needed to ease into the run so our plan was that she’d be at the 5K mark at 30 minutes into my run. No sooner. If I missed her there I might not see her until the finish. So slow and easy, drink, eat, shake out the legs. 

5K - 29:45 high five and gotta go - BOOM! 

Now I had 10 miles to cover at 9 minute pace. Ran comfortable at about 8:35 pace, with the heat I stopped and walked through the aid station, seemed a needless risk to not worry about the heat. One rookie move, was that I forgot to put a hat in my run bag, so I ended up carrying a buff through the swim and bike just to have for the run : ) ….it’s been 3 years. 

The run was everything I wanted and waited for, I was passing people at a really fast rate and even slowed down 15 seconds per mile thinking I shouldn’t be passing people so easily. But I had fresh legs and my pace was 8:45 and I wanted this. At the turn around I saw Kirsten just behind me and got a huge lift, emotionally it was what I needed at that point. About five minutes later I felt the pangs of my IT Band start to pull, down the leg across the knee, makes me want to throw up. 

Even though I haven’t had IT problems for over a year I wore a waist belt that was just for holding a IT strap that I brought just in case. I stopped running, calmly put the strap on, jogged a bit, adjusted then took off running again. The strap dulls the pain by half and gives me some control of my leg. My thought was, FUCK YOU! “I'ma keep running. Cause a winner don't quit on themselves!” Today is my day!

I knew I could count on my legs. At least 2-3x a week I would find that that was a mantra that rolled through my head: Let your legs get you out of trouble.

I finished with just over a minute to spare on getting my sub-2 on the run. My one and only real goal of the day. All trained up and on a flat course I can pull a 1:31 stand alone half marathon. I’m at peace with that not being this day.

From start to finish I never bought into the dark places that a mind can take you: You’re not trained enough, you’re not fast enough, you’re not an athlete. Why are you doing this? When the IT band pulled it wasn’t the usual fear of having to walk 4-5 miles and my race being over, it was this feeling of background noise. I never had the feeling like I was going to have to stop running. 

Over this training year my attitude on my endurance changed, for the better.  My levels and goals for myself are nowhere etched in stone. I bring the day I want and don’t lie to myself. If I’m not at a level where someone remembers me being at that’s on them. I’m pretty much at peace with it. I want more day with the feeling of “Some MF’n Fun is going to be had today!”

Thanks to the TN family for support and being out there. Also to Alley, how in a day of spectathleting she put in 13.5 miles running around course supporting and checking in on race peeps. And to my brother who followed me around Green Lake in his kayak after I injured my arm so I’d have the confidence to get back out there swimming again. Such a great group of inspiring friends. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Crystal Mountain Marathon

Slow down, slow down, slow down. I only got faster by slowing down.

By faster I mean not dying or struggling towards the last few miles of my long runs. I don't think I'm an endurance athlete. I don't have the gift of enjoying the easy cruise, on the bike or on foot. 25K to 20 miles is my favorite distance. I love nothing better than pushing 10k effort for up to a 30k race.

Training the last few months for Crystal Mt. I've had to force myself to GO SLOW. Really slow. Again, I'm not fast to begin with, but adjustments needed to be made in order to finish.

I heard Adam H. say at a discussion at Seven Hills Running Store that "if you wouldn't do it at mile 95, why would you do it at mile 5?".

 Damn good question!

Since then I've had that rolling around in my head like a giant ass bowling ball. My effort needs to be level. Needs to be tamed. Needs to be under control. I learned from earlier trail races this year and last year that I can give up huge chunks of time on climbs, because I can catch most on the downs.

In runner terms: I can push marathon pace on the ups and hit 5k speed on the downs.

Running downhill means pushing the effort out and forcing gravity. (5k-10k effort). I get upset with myself when I feel I'm running downhill "too pedestrian". To the point that I often yell out loud at myself, "What the Fuck are you doing!". However, the last few long runs I've realized that slowing down altogether both uphill and downhill helps in the final few miles. (I know – Shocker!)
I’ve been keeping it fun, quick pace on the downs, not pushing just an easy flow and never to the point where I feel  winded, tired, or end up paying for it later.

 Taking this approach into the race on Saturday I never really felt like it was a race.

 My goals for the day:

1. Aid Station #1 (mile 3) in an hour. More would be too slow, less would be too fast

2. Make adjustments early, within minutes, not hours (as usual)

3. Stop and use the Aid Stations to fully restock and reevaluate the day

4. Reach Aid Station #4 (mile 21) with my legs under me

5. ############### Hidden goal

Morning started off great. Had my Bear Crew supporting me and hoping to see them at a few aid stations. Saw lots of friends and familiar faces that I was really glad to see.  Going to make for a great day!
Matt, Tif, Levi, Penny. Photo by Alley

 The 1st 3 mile climb bites off about 3000ft. When the race started I was in the back and just started a quick fast-ish hike. I was 3rd from the end as everyone else shot off. About a mile later, still fast hiking I easily passed about 25 people. The sun came out about half way up and really warmed things up. I pulled off and vented as much as possible not to overheat and sweat too much. In my mind I compared the first 3 miles to the swim in an ironman. I needed to finish it feeling like I’d just warmed up and was ready for the day start. Reaching the top I glance at my watch about 20 yards from the aid station and it read 59:58. Cool.

Took my time at the AS, talked with Earl and got on my way. – Time - 9:00 in, 9:04 out. Perfect!

I ran easy across the ridge taking in the views and smiling SO damn big. Minor headache. I hit the next section, which can mostly be described as extreme downhill and couldn’t wait to test myself on it. Without hesitating I jumped over the ledge and bounded down to the scree field that laid below the initial drop.

I love me descending a good scree field : ) too much fun!

The climb back out of there was a little rough, but short. Once back on the ridge trail, mile 4.5ish I’d guess, the trail is just plain iconic northwest trail running at its finest. The 5 mile descent was the  most amazing section leading into AS#2. I grabbed up two more people passing without much effort and telling myself, “You’re not racing, just stay steady. We’re not trying to catch anyone.” The last person I caught up to was a woman that was moving quickly on the downhill. She kept looking behind her so I rolled in about 10ft behind her and yelled out that I wasn’t looking to pass, was just going to eat and that I’d give her room. I backed off about 30ft, broke into my Trailbutter (Mmmmm) drank some more fluids, rested about 30 seconds then called out “On your left”. It always amazes me the closing speed on downhills. Up and around her and enjoyed the last mile and a half by myself.

Photo by Alley
Outside of AS#2 I saw my Bear Crew: Alley, Matt, Tif, Penny, and Levi. I ran straight to Penny, I knew if I ran past she’d drag whoever was holding her. I did a full change of shirt, pullover, arm warmers, gloves, and hat. I was doing a good job at controlling heat, but my clothes were all soaked through. Hit up the AS for a restock of fluids and off I went. - Time 10:00 in, 10:06 out. Perfect!

Legs, mind and body felt great leaving the AS. Seeing my peeps was great. About 3 minutes after the AS a tough climb sucked some of that away. Then a long uncomfortable downhill stretch on a service road was really hard to run without feeling jarring. I ran with a guy for about a mile then told him I needed to lay off, I slowed up but the grade on the road eased up at the same time making it possible to run the downhill with really no effort. So I laughed as I past him, not 1 minute later saying, “The knees decided not to lay off”.

That descent led into a climb about half a mile below AS #3. Not the hardest climb, but outside of the first 3 miles, the longest so far. I got through AS 3, refueled, talked with a friend Erin, who was working the AS and started out feeling pretty good for mile 14.5.

Somewhere in the back of my mind this next climb is still going on. I’m leaning against some branches so I don’t fall backwards back down to the bottom.

This section is the teeth of the day.

Mile 14.28 elevation – 3148ft

Mile 18.27 elevation – 6152ft

No fucking around.

I saw 3 people throwing up along it. 2 people sitting down with that gone look on their face. It’s a four mile climb that I was a bit naive about. I got out the top of it at four hours race time and found a piece of ground and sat my ass down for 4 minutes. Trying not to lose focus and trying to deal with this headache that started to come to life. Changing out of my wet tank top, gloves, buff, and hat. The only dry thing I had left was a dry wind vest. Oops. Headache growing.

Splits for miles 15-18:

15           23:29.6  1.00      

16           32:39.7  1.00      

17           30:11.1  1.00      

18           20:03.0  1.00      

I got up and started and easy jog at best, head started to pound a bit, was able to ignore. Then about 5 minutes later I heard a loud buzzing noise and looked around just as my right arm lit up. I grabbed my arm and ran as hard as I could for about half a mile to the edge of the ridge. Reserve energy out the window. I stared at the mist pouring into the valley below as it started to lightly rain. Head was pounding and all I could hear was  my heartbeat way too load in my ears.

About mile 18.5.

New game plan. Make it to AS#4(Mile 21) as fast as possible. Run with my hands squeezing my head. Cold, wet, and only having a wind vest on, not the wisest choice throwing my jacket to Matt back at AS#2 cause the sun was out. Bad move. I figured back along the ridge to AS#4 and I could rest and get warm there.

Then the arrow pointed down. -awww shit......

Again, my bad for not knowing the course. We had to take the course the same way we went out on. Which meant back up through the scree field, clawing our way up to the ridge. So what I thought would take about 30 minutes back to the AS ended up being just over an hour.

Climbing up the scree field I couldn’t ignore my head anymore and yelled at myself for signing up for one of these things again. I wanted to drop, wanted to quit, wanted to be warm. Just wanted my head to stop pounding. I can usually set any discomfort aside in my head and focus on turnover, breathing, form, anything, but not this time my head just hurt so much. I reached the top, passing Glenn and ran mostly because I was freezing and needed to get to the AS.
Photo by Glenn Tachiyama 

I saw Alley and ran to her, I couldn't look at anyone because I knew I would just completely fall apart. I was trying not to cry, but think I did a really bad job at hiding it. I sat down, Matt and Tif helped me get some warm clothes on and Alley fished out some ibuprofen for my headache.

Photo by Alley
Heading to the AS a runner caught up with me and was right next to me as I talked with the B Crew. A woman directing runners to the AS yelled out "Runners! AS to your right." I laughed out loud as I putting my hand on the guy next to me and said, "She must be talking to us?". Running seemed like something that happened way earlier in the day. We got to the AS and Earl once again got me refueled and restocked. I took my time.

Five miles to go. My goal was to have legs at the last AS to be able to work the last 5 miles.

 I’ve had my head hurt the last few times I’ve been running up above 6000ft. I kept thinking, the sooner I get down the sooner the pressure will let up. 

I left the AS and skipped a few times to see how the hips felt. Something I started doing a few years ago. Pretty good. Broke into an east run and felt fine. The descent is aggrieve to say the least. You lose about 600ft in the 1.5 miles, 2300ft overall in those last 5 miles with about 500ft of gain. And it’s a somewhat technical descent based on speed. Very rocky and narrow. Within the first half mile of the descent I knew I had my legs under me. 

If I could maintain I wanted to hit the last five miles in an hour. Legs felt great and as I came down the head felt better. I passed 2 people before the 1st lake, then another at Bear Gap. There was a small climb to the PCT and I could see 3 people up, and had to be calm, no energy on the climb, but I knew it was short. Hit the top as I just caught two of the three guys I saw before, said,”Fellas, see you guys at the bottom.” and bolted.

I knew that point at the PCT sign was about 2 miles to the finish and free of anymore up hills. I kept saying over and over. “In 15 minutes this will be over, in 15 this will be over. Enjoy.” I passed up 2 more people, pace was 7:25-8:45, crossed the little bridge and I knew the finish was close. Down the service road, then onto a little rocky trail that I wasn’t expecting. Which was great cause it cut down straight instead of looping out farther on the service road. Then the light at the end of the tunnel, the hard right at the end of the tree line straight down to the finish. I had my legs still and opened my stride and kept hard through the wicked little descent.

Photo by Alley 

Man was I glad to be done, and what a HELL of a last 5 miles. My personal hidden goal was to actually race the last 5 miles, not just survive. I feel like I left it all out on the course for the last 5 and am happy with how the day went. Barring the headache, everything pretty much fell into place.

Time: 6:42
Last 5 miles 1:01 with a 8:40, 7:10, split on the last 2 miles : )

Thanks to my Bear Crew who were amazing and really got me through one of the roughest points of an event that I’ve been in. Well, at least that I can remember : ) and to Seven Hills Running Store for ALWAYS understanding and helping out with any and everything!

Until next time…..

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dodged a hot mess of a day

Sun Mountain 25K – 

Hell of a weekend. Man was that some fun! If you ever want to humble yourself, in two ways,  go plant yourself on course surrounded by sweeping vistas of mountains and valleys. I think too many people forget how small they are in the scheme of things. Next sit there in the shade as 100’s of people pass by in 80 degree weather running in the direct sun. Nothing but deep respect for those racing the 50M/50K on Saturday.

Alley ran the 50K and I couldn’t have been prouder of how she handled her day in the heat. As well as our friends and housemates MCM and Kay!

To say the least I was a bit worried about the heat for my race on Sunday. I haven’t done well in the heat for the last few years and Saturday I was sweating in the shade. Ugh. I kept drinking and eating as much as possible, but man that can get tiring throughout the day.

All in all, worth the risk to be out supporting friends on Saturday. plus I got to go on Moose Trail!

Sunday morning
10am race start sounds great, but man not if you wake up at 5:45. My stomach wasn’t feeling right all morning from the time I woke up. Had the usual breakfast no surprises there and dinner wasn’t an issue the night before. Finally rolled out to the start about 8:50, but stomach still not on board. It had been raining hard through the early morning so the worry of being too hot during the race wasn’t a factor. About 42 degrees at race start. I headed out for a quick few miles before the start to get the body ready. I felt tight and my left foot was aching a bit, I climbed a bit and turned back to see how the knees felt on the downhill and all systems felt ok, barring the stomach.

I was laughing with Alley before the start because I had Shakey Graves “Built to roam” in my head:
Sit back and watch me go, 
Bored and lazy. 
Watch me go; 
Just passing through. 
Follow me beyond the mountains. 
Go howl at the ol' big moon. 

It sounds like something a snail would use as a race theme song. But none the less it was stuck in my head.

The start was fast, or should have been. 

The group of 8 or so people in front of me pushed back instead of forward. Odd, it was cool to see the people from the sides funnel in front of us. I usually never worry about bad starts, I feel like it keeps me from running too fast at the begin and sorts out a mile or 2 down the trail.

We hit the lake and I was with a good group of about 8 people. Roughly 8 minute pace. I knew at mile 2 a 2 mile climb would start, after that another 4ish mile climb, so I backed off a bit only pushing at a comfortable pace. On the climb I did intervals of 45 seconds run, 15 seconds power hiking. Easy run on anything that wasn't up.

I was sweating  badly and my stomach felt like I was running with a watermelon under my shirt. The climb twisted up through some outlooks that only revealed cloud cover over the nearby mountains and foothills. Still awe inspiring, and the banks of mist and fog we ran through was much needed.

Surprisingly enough I was actually running when I glanced over and saw Glen as the trail went through amazing hillsides of wild flowers. At least it felt like running  : )

Some short flat(ish) ridge lines had the group of 5 of us at 6:50 pace. I was having trouble with the asthma but didn’t want to reach for my inhaler. I know, but sometimes the little movements seem like a huge effort. At this point my left IT band started to pull and pinch a bit. Rounded a sharp corner and someone yelled, “aid station qtr mile up.” What a grunt up to the AS, about mile 8.6.  The group of 5 turned to 3, turn to 2. From there it was just over a mile to the downhill. *tongue licking lips, tail wagging on high. However, the service road was in bad shape from the rain, the sides were too soft with mud and the middle was hard and really hurt my left side.

Old man ailments list:
IT Band pulling, left foot cramping severely, stomach not happy, sweating profusely, hips aching. 

From the profile I needed about half a mile to the downhill, but this damn service road was NEVER going to end. Finally I saw the person in front of me by about 40-50 yards pull off the road and heard a loud. 

“FUCK! Ugh JAMESSSS!” I knew, as Alley put it before, that was the sound of the Rainshadow Effect. The service road was steep, but the trail off the road was crazy steep.

Finally I hit the downhill, about 1.5 miles, but the hips wouldn’t give it up. Both hips a bit frozen from the 9 miles of climbing. I skipped a bit at the beginning to sort of jumpstart the hips, has worked in the past. And slowly they came around, about a minute in. I could see the group, 4 about 20 seconds up, and wanted to catch and be past them before too long.

"As fast as a body can drop" - Adam Hewey

Downhill and closing speed amazes me, the whole gravity thing. I love it. 

First person about 10 yards in front, technical footing, I bound and jump into the pull of gravity. Like hauling ass on a snowboard, or what I image downhill skiing would be like. Pulling the legs up towards you to drop faster. I have to remember to breathe. Before I say on your left I’m by him. Two more about 15 yards up, I’m coming in hot and yell on your left. It’s a game, the best game ever. The two yell out as I pass, “Yeah, get it!” I know there’s one more up here, spot her and pass as she laughs and yells, ”Where the hell did you come from?!?!”. I run out of decent just as I spot 3 more runners (rabbits).

A sudden uphill puts the game at bay for a few then it opens again. This time on a descending service road. Not my fav, but I can still gain on others. Pushing 6:25 pace, trying not to blow up.  I run small stretches with my eyes closed, repeating “let the legs work, rest the heart” and feel my pulse calm. I catch two of the three. As I pass the woman I’d been chasing for the last 3 miles, strong woman, I tell her “stay in it, under a mile.” I struggle to decide whether to lay up at the top of the little false flat, then hear horns and cheers from the woods just in front of us. I bolt through the sharp left turn and suddenly realize it’s the little area I took my morning warmup run on.  I bit of a downhill so I went all in ignoring the voice in my head yelling to stop and play it safe. Crossed the road and was happy as hell to see the finish line, high fiving James as I crossed the line. Phew! 

2:16:47 45th Place

Shoes: Merrell - Allout Peaks -----Thanks again Phil! 7Hills
Vest: Ultimate Direction-SJ
Fuel: GU- Macchiato Carmel / Clif Shot Blox / Trail Butter / Nuun

Not my most ideal race. I had fun moments in it, but the stomach thing to start the day and the IT and foot cramping during. I felt I lost a minute or 2 on the road section due to stopping and stretching the IT. The foot cramp, it hurt, but I knew it was just a cramp. It wasn’t going to break or anything.

I can’t stress enough how looking around when things started to hurt and repeating, “Look at what you get to run through. This place is amazing. Be thankful you get to hurt in a place like this.” I ‘am proud that I didn’t give up throughout the race at any point, even thou I kept lining up my reasons to stop and have a great pity party. I saw too many people the day before pull themselves through way worse conditions to do that.

Next up is Deception Pass and Taylor Mt Half before Crystal Mountain Marathon.
Hope to see a few of you out there! –Bill

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: Rest, recover, recharge...

Hell of a year. So many races this year, so much sharing with friends. From early trail races: Bridle trails, Orcas island, Fragrance Lake, Lord Hill, and Squak. To Ironman Whistler, Kirkland, Grand Ridge, and Seattle Half. What a fun and well rounded year this has been. Again, it's really the friends you surround yourself with that gets you through ALL the miles and hours, both during training and racing.

Thinking of the highlights and memory flashes from this past year a few that jump out.

  1. Rolling through the downhill at Orcas Island 25K: "Holy Sh*t this is amazing, this is amazing. So lucky, so lucky"on repeat through my mind.
  2. Flying down from Fragrance Lake through the switchbacks. Falling then catching the 3 people that went by. SO. MUCH. FUN.
  3. Climbing 4.5 miles up at the Gorge in the rain and hail then bolting back down to the bottom to see Alley finish her Gorge Waterfalls 50K.
  4. Trying to catch Joey during training on the Whistler bike course and yelling to myself, and the local bears, "That's Joey MotherFu*ck'n Compton up there!" I was out of my mind on the bike in the heat. Good times, good times.
  5. Flashes from IMC that seem to of gone by in about 2 minutes. Mostly seeing Alley on mile 8 of the run and having her pull me back from a full blown meltdown. 
  6. Spending the day running at Deception Pass with Alley and the Bears. Beautiful day running trails in the sun.
  7. Going full gas during the Kirkland Tri up Juanita 2x and pulling a 20 minute run. I love and missed the hunt of a short race.
  8. Running Kendall Kat Walk with Alley, one of the best days out running this year!
  9. Catching and yelling out loud to Ryan during Grand Ridge half, "WOO, NOW the fun begins!" As we passed group after group on the downhill.
  10. Hellish 100 miler with Joey that every right turn was a brutal climb. 

This year ended with an unexpected rest that was much needed. I was feeling a bit tired and some aches never seemed to go away, so after the Seattle half I called it a day on 2014 and pulled out of a few races. I should of called it after Grand Ridge, but managed to talk myself into Seattle. Which magically the message was loud and clear during Seattle. Sometimes the body just knows better. I told a friend that I just wanted to run and not train or be tied to any race date.

I needed to take time off of my left foot, but couldn't with Orcas Island coming up. And if I did take time off to recover I wouldn't be ready for Orcas. Which you just can't screw with a course like Orcas. It's beautiful and amazing, but it'll kick your ass. So I dropped both Orcas and Bridle trails from my schedule. Which after looking at the would-be schedule for 2015 I think the 6 weeks of rest will be a great way to recharge.

The running when I feel like it will be a huge recharge for the mind as well. When you want to go along, and not have to go, regardless. It's a huge relief.

I was hitting some burnout from a season that started just about a year ago. 

Last week I jumped along with the Seven Hills Running Shop up Tiger Mt from Uphill Running's store. I knew it would be as hard as I wanted to make it, said "Don't wait for me" about a dozen times, but it was great. I enjoyed the climb, said I wasn't there to push myself to myself. Also, told myself 'you have no endurance for this, so just enjoy it.' I was last up, but only by a few minutes. I can live with runs like that for a few. I can be honest with myself and know where my level lives.

So with some time off and the 2015 schedule becoming clearer and clearer by the day, I'm excited to rest up then dig in for another round.

This next year's on the trails mostly, half's up to maybe one 50K, but mostly looking for some adventures to jump off to with Alley and the bears.

Fewer bibs, more exploring ; )

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Got it half right at least?

Sunday was the Seattle half marathon and it was a reminder, sadly always right around the middle of
the race, that I realized, or was reminded again, you can't ask for more than you put in. Sure there's some percentage of race day magic, but really there should be no surprise to ones self when you cross the finish line.

I had plenty of reason going into Sunday to be cautious (and maybe not run): rolled my ankle 2 weeks ago, bottom of left foot hurt w/ any run over 4 miles, sick 10 of the last 14 days, oh and I kind of pulled the plug on running 2 weeks ago after Grand Ridge trail half.

On the bright side I kept telling (lying to) myself, "GR was your long run with 2 weeks of tapper, you didn't really have GR in you (I did) and you did great, GR was really really tough (it was) so this will be easy (Hmmm)."

Once the early excitement of being in a race on a crazy cold beautiful morning has worn off...

There's that point in the race when the group you're running with, in the 2nd half of a race, stays on pace and slowly moves away. The point where it shows without hiding anything what you've put in. That's the point I usually tell myself that those are the people that have trained, the ones ready for these last miles.

It does two things during these moments:

One it's humbling, the feel of, 'I should be running up there', quickly followed by, 'I should stay trained to run up there', etc. Nothing worse than knowing you could be in with a group if you'd just done the work.That you get to enjoy the day having fun beating on yourself, rather than just suffering through the beating.

Two, how do I get back there and do I start by taking a bit of a rest?

Looking back at the last few weeks it has been all the little things getting missed that sort of take its toll. Stopped doing core workouts, stopped strength training, stopped stretching, stopped doing recovery runs. On and on and on. Getting sick didn't help, but I didn't feel that it was the biggest part.

I often tell people trying to get back into it that at least they've been there before and know what level of work it takes to get back. I enjoy the work, enjoy the pay off, enjoy staying up with the groups that I feel I should be running with, or get to run with. I've never taken running for granted, too many injuries over the last few years to ever assume anything.

That fire gets lit on days like that also, to jump back in the fray, but also some lines get redrawn. I think the best way to get back there is through plenty of rest up front and letting a few bothering injuries take care of themselves. After that getting back to what's fun and keeping it simple. Really simple.

Looking to 2015 I've cut back on the races that I'll be doing. I wanted to do roughly 11 races, all trail. Not a huge amount, but thinking it over the last few days and wanting to get the most out of the races I do enter I'm thinking I'll cut it down to just 5. Plus one long adventure that I want to work on for next summer. 

The priority in 2015 is leaving more time for just getting out and running in the mountain with the Girlie and the bears. Some long trips just knocking through the woods and enjoying what the Cascades and Olympics have to offer. 

No bibs, just a run vest, a pair of mutts and a woman crazier than I am. Cuz really, that's what I love!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Even a bad day can be a great day.

Lead up to race day was amazing! Whistler is one hell of a place to throw a race party. We got up to town on Thursday and of course zip-lined about 2 hours after arrival. Thought, better do it sooner, than later. I’m a touch scared of heights, so why the hell not. Let the adventures begin!
OH Crap, no turning back now!

Zip lining was crazy fun by the way. Only had a death grip on one gate that was hanging about 150ft from the forest floor. A bit hard to let go : )

I was calm and never really nervous the days leading up. Maybe it was because it was my 3rd one or maybe because I still didn’t think I was actually going to be doing another IM.

Hmmm, either way.

My left shoulder got damaged a few weeks before, so I knew the swim was going to be a big question mark. And for some reason I was ok with that. The bike was the bike and I was worried about the flat out and back in the middle of the course, but I figured it would work out. And the run, I was ready for the run, wanted the run, couldn’t wait for the run.

I couldn’t get over the feeling of happiness when I got around friends. Alley and I  rode up with Nick, Matt and Tif and had a great time. Felt way more like vacation than heading to a race. When I saw Josh, Joey, Ryan, Aimee, or anyone from the team I’d feel like it was Christmas morning and everyone had new toys to play with.

Race Morning...

Woke up about 2 minutes before the alarm went off, this is going to be a long day. Up, dressed, eat, out the door. Alley and Tif dropped Matt and I at the buses and the nerves were still at bay. 
There’s nothing like the morning light on a swim start. Snow peak mountains all around, amazing.

Race Start –

Swim was brutal, no need to sugar coat or over dramatize it. Should of given boxing gloves to everyone before. Shoulder started hurting with about a mile to go. Got out of the water and felt like I’d put in as little effort as possible, but my shoulder ached  more than I had anticipated. Felt like I spent an hour in T1, but it was only about 7 minutes.

Whistler was an amazing arena for an IM. The town/city absorbed the race and even had areas that didn’t even know the race was going on. There is everything to do that you could imagine.

The course, especially the bike is phenomenal, a true test for a well-rounded bike rider.  I had my moments on the bike, and man were they sweet. I love climbing and this course had plenty. The pain in my shoulder never went away and ached everytime I went into areo postion. 

I cracked after the last climb to Green Lake at about 105 miles in.

The heat finally had its way with me and my head  was swimming for the last 6 miles. I couldn’t lose any heat and finally the stomach and the head went south right when I first saw the lake heading back into town. I was out of water and my sports drink was hot, hot, hot. 

My Bear Crew

I remember looking at my tires over and over again, thinking that I had flatted both and that's why I was moving so slow. I had one rider about 50 yards in front of me and none behind and kept thinking – I’m the last one on course, how long have I been out here. How did this happen? This kept repeating over and over in my head.

T2 was a bit of a blur. I had lost a contact so needed to drop in another one and that was the last thing I remember until mile 4ish. 

(After the race Alley showed me pics of stopping and posing with her right after T2 and I still don’t remember any of that.)

Dazed and confused
 I was hot and couldn’t get rid of the heat. I kept telling myself don’t talk to anyone you don’t make any sense. You’ll get pulled from the race. 1st aid station was 8 cups over the head, ice down the shorts and one water in the body. Still couldn’t talk and could only walk. At mile 3 (one hour in) I gave up was crying and was starting to looking for someone to give my bib to, I thought if I could just get my bib off and hand it to someone I could get out of the heat. My head was on fire, but my shoulders and legs were freezing. I knew that was far from good, and just over the line from just having a bad day.

Alley really appeared out of nowhere and I could see the concern on her face. I wasn’t aware of much, but seeing her face I think scared me the most. I quickly remembered Teresa saying when you see your support crew out there you DO NOT show them your distress! They have 1 maybe 2 seconds to see you after standing for hours to see you.

I wanted to drop, but in an instant you remember all the nights in the basement, early swim starts, time and sacrifices both you and your loved one has made over the last year. Hearing myself reassure Alley that I was going to be ok, I quickly believed I wasn’t lying. The head and the stomach were gone, but the legs could go.

New game plan….Walk as much of the 1st lap as possible, then run and depend on your legs for the 2nd lap. 

I told Alley after I couldn't comprehend that the laps were 13 miles each. Just that the 2nd lap would be shorter, because I'd be running more. Hopefully.

Photo by Bri Leahy
2nd lap started and everything started to turn. 

Lack of nutrition was catching up, but the legs and stomach actually felt like running. 

3x's I had other runners tell me to stay on them. Just move your legs and follow my numbers. Stay on my hip and ignore everything else. Amazing how everyone looks out for each other.

My nutrition for the run:
30+ cups of water
8 cups of coke = to about one coke can
1 Ruffle potato chip
1 Gu – which took a mile to suck down

Going into this Ironman I felt like it was my last one and I soaked it all in. The training is long hard hours away from family and friends. It’s never about the day, it’s about the 8 months leading up to the day. 

The day, there is nothing like the day of. 

Support crews, yours and others. Athletes, teammates, pushing you on to have your best day while they fight their our battles. It’s a long long day and too many things happen to remember. I felt like I was fortunate to turn the day around after pretty much a full blown meltdown. 

At one point on the 2nd lap I sat down on a water cooler and had this conversation with myself after getting started again: Just four more miles. Four more miles and we’re done. We’re not an endurance athlete we just have to quit thinking we are. After these four we’ll never do this again….but I can run, no one else is running, I can run. I love this.

Would never have finished this one without my Girl.

I don’t know if I need to go back to Whistler for the Ironman again, but I also know I don’t have to say now or ever that I won’t ever again.  On Wednesday after the race Alley asked if it was too soon to start thinking about how I might have done if I’d had “my” day out there. I laughed and we talked about how just 15 minutes too long on the bike cooked the rest of the day. And “How next time” slipped into the conversation several times without either of us questioning it : ) 
Just because you knock a man down dosen't mean you got him beat - Ray L.