Monday, December 9, 2013

Rest, relax, mend, repeat.

I wrote this 4 weeks ago and forgot to post. Oops...

It’s looking like this years trail season has come to an abrupt end. Nothing broken or twisted just the rise of a few tell tell feelings that I hope to head off before they turn into something I can’t walk or run away from.

Inner thigh – hip  tear from the beginning of the year seems to have set sail again and a nagging left foot problem that has been squawking louder and louder with every other run. Instead of my usual proven plan of “ignor-tion” I thought rest, relax, and mend. And just to make sure I got sick and came down with an ear infection to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid, like sign up for a half at St. Eds or 20 miles at Cougar Mt : /

Recapping this last year

Amazing – this year has opened up SO MUCH in perspective and falling in love with running again. Not just miles on the legs, but miles in the woods, through valleys, up mountains, across ravines, and rivers. Across that field of having to, to wanting to. Excited from the thought of what’s beyond the next ridge or meadow. Laughing out loud on screaming switchback down hills. Run, leap, pivot/swing, full gas, jump tight, bank, back to run…breathe. I love the downs - Peregrine diving towards earth.

Looking back on the races this year…

Squak Mt, first time my back crumpled from climbing, not after the first 1300’ in 2 mile stretch, but on the 2nd 800 ft mile climb. And the 1st time I fell trail running. BOOM, then silence. Mostly I remember the screaming downhill, the fog at the top, and thinking I lost the lead group, only to find out after that I was only about 30 seconds behind. Brutal, but can’t wait to dance with it again next year.

Chuckanut 30K – the first time I trained through a race. I had 34 miles on the week before the start which included a hill repeat 2 days before of 1200’ over 8 miles. The beauty of that course, amazing, a playground. Brutal climbs that I focused on like hill repeats. 2 minutes on, 1 minute rest/hike/walk, that lasted for 43 minutes!!! I learned never shelf what you think you can do. Hips tightened up and couldn’t run downhill for about a mile, painful, then it opened back up and I flew for the last 4ish long miles down to the finish. I pushed it so hard, hunting as many as I could find. 14th overall I think, tough, fun day.

Taylor Mt – I have a love/hate with Taylor Mt. This year the course won, I was hurting like no other race. Dehydration set in and I was out on fumes crossing the line. 

Grand Ridge – I love this race, the half course has it all, steep climbs, steeper downs, rocks, streams, tight tight switch backs roller coasting turns through the trees. FUCK YEAH! By far my best race start to finish. Trust the game plan. Let everyone go at the start, run your own race over the climbs, then full gas engage everything on the twisting 4 mile downhill. Fight back out of there until the last downhill to the finish and everything gets burned to the ground. I crossed the line leaving EVERYDAMNTHING on the field. Good day.

Volcanic 50K, St.Helens, I just laugh thinking back on this one. The website clearly said, “This should not be your 1st Ultra”. I was ready, but what the hell was I thinking? Have to do again in 2015 : ) 

And fun is what it all was -  and really what it comes down to. That constant mantra all season of – Fu*k this is cool. Gawd look at that. Holy Sh*t, hang on, this is SO –MUCH-FUN! Killing yourself up Si, Tiger, Cut Throat, Sqawk, etc…but damn it was like playing. Like seeing a new 2 story jungle gym on the play ground.

Training runs with the Girlie. New playgrounds just an hour from the house. A new community that’s excited to see others just try. Personal limiters raised, pushed aside, then raised again.

All year I’d say to myself, “It’s hard, that’s why it’s hard.” Running up Mt. Si comes to mind, but what fun. Looking across to Alley after some beast of a training run and knowing, yeah… that was sweet. That kicked the shit out of us, but that was sweet! 

I’d like to thank Seven Hills Running for keeping an ear open for all the questions I had about my 1st Ultra and trail running in general. Also, his crew at the store that always keeps it real and down to earth, even if they’ve just raced and won some 50k or 50 miler that morning. Great work there Phil!

So for a few short weeks I’ll take it a bit easy, but 2014 and all the fun and excitement that that has in store will start to unfold all too soon. Today I even came home with another wall calendar for 2014 and a list that I’ve had with rough scribbles of dates and codes scrawled on it.  Better get started and get that thing loaded up, feel like I’m behind already ; )

See ya out there sometime…

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

And we danced...Volcanic 50K

And we danced, and we cried. And we laughed and had a really really really good time Take my hand, let's have a blast. And remember this moment for the rest of our lives…. - M&RL

This blog post shouldn’t scare you away from this race. It should be a MUST for anyone interested in seeing what’s in our own backyard. An amazing race that puts you in places that make you realize how very very small and lucky we are. Also, involuntarily yelling,  “Holy Sh!t this is SO damn COOL!” over and over again.

Of course the real race ALWAYS starts with the bathroom line. There in the early dark hours with bibs in hand pinning to our shorts with only 20 people ahead of us.  Looking good so far!

A little nervous at the start, but not any different from all the other trail races this year. AK and I were talking on the drive up about our prep for this race: Evergreen Trail Run Series (7 races), Chuckanut 30K, Mt. Si, 3 Summits, too many Grand Ridge runs of 16+ miles, 26.2 at Discovery, and the Cutthroat Classic.

Totally ready! Bring this shit ON!

AK and I have done plenty of races together, but this was the first endurance race that we’ve done together. I’ve done IM and she’s been at the finish, and she’s did an Chuckanut 50K and other marathons and I’ve been at the finish. This was the first time we’d both be in action. I was nervous for her, but knew that she’s a badass and can bring the fight when needed. But still, anything can happen on race day.
My big worry on the day was pulling an I.T. Band again. I feel lucky enough to get by on marathon’s, Chicago it went at mile 24, lucky enough to happen at the end, but still the pain made me want to throw up. And of course there was IMC 2010. I was hoping for a clean run, in the back of my mind I knew I didn’t have that fight in me this day. Some days you have that fire in you to scream F**k You at anything that gets thrown at you, but this morning I needed a clean run cuz I didn’t think I’d make it through if the fight came to me.

AK and I said “I love you, stay safe”

Photo by Alley Kloba
The gun went off, the Garmin was started and the 4 mile, 4000’ climb to the lava fields began.
I kept thinking of the first 4 miles as the swim part of Ironman: Slow, easy, calm. Slow, easy, calm.

Lots of people passed by, most sounded gassed, breathing heavy as we hit the first ridge and saw St. Helens glowing in the morning sunrise for the first time. Amazing
I power walked/hiked, ran some, mostly just kept it easy. Across the first lava field was hard in that you had to keep your eyes down and try to stay on course. I was terrible at this, kept telling people ‘follow at your own risk’. An older woman and I paired up pretty good and leap frogged each other back and forth. We were with a group of about 20 and finished off the lava alone having dropped the rest. And we did a bad job at crossing?!?! I ran with Mosley (her last name) for a while, she totally rocked!
Photo by Paul Nelson Photography

Photo by Alley Kloba
After that it was down to the trail running I’d been aching for. Rolling, single track with canyons and foothills just feet away. More mountains as a distant backdrop to that, still in the morning light and quiet. A few hundred feet descent into the first Aid Station (AS), then a 40 ft straight drop to the river crossing below then a rope to help climb/crawl out the other side. Very Bear Grylls-n’shit!

Photo by Alley Kloba
After that was the long long slog to the top for the next climb. I felt the stomach start to go and tried to nurse it a bit. However, with the sun and the constant climbing I could feel the turning of the stomach and couldn’t do much to stop it. At 3 hours in the stomach refused anything. It took 45 minutes to get a single Gu down the hatch. - Not good

Time is a funny thing in endurance races: Top of the hour, side of the hour, bottom of the hour, side of the hour, top of the hour.

I figured I’d try the stomach again and was surprised to see that 2 hours had passed since I stopped putting in any fuel. I don’t remember AS #2, but I was on the hunt for AS #3, I had to get there. Felt weak and head was swimming, the heat was eating into me and the stomach was NOT happy. The urge to dry heave mixed w/ a growling hungry stomach. I climbed into AS #3 and collapsed on the stream that was the only water source for the AS.
20.25 Miles / 6 Hours
photo by Alley Kloba
Just needed some time off the legs and time to regroup. I sat for 8 minutes, pouring water over myself and realizing this may be as far as I go. Then I realized, if I quit here: 5 mile hike down to Johnston Ridge, 40 mile drive to the hwy, 80 miles back to Marble Mt. Snowpark where the car is parked. Even worse, 5 mile hike down and AK, after running, would have to drive 120 miles to come get me….. full on zombie-walked out of the AS and just kept saying ‘walk, walk, walk’ - 4 miles to the next station.

Windy Ridge

Leaving AS #3 you had to reckon with Windy Ridge. If I wasn’t in such a haze I might have thought: How? Too far gone to push over what was ahead. 800 ft in just under 2 miles. No shade, and  most of the trail was only about 8 inches at best for 20-30 yards at a time with a 150-200 ft drop to the left.

Photo by Alley Kloba
This tested my fairly new problem with heights. I’ve always loved being up as high as I could possibly climb or get in a building, but over the last 12 years that has, not so slowly, become a major problem? Causing an involuntary shut down and frozen feeling throughout the body. Just great for a race!

Getting to the top of Windy Ridge, you could look straight into the blast zone and new cone that’s been growing there. I looked back over the massive climb back down to the valley floor and saw someone w/ a pink top starting their way to the climb. ??? Could that be AK?
I laughed out loud and clapped. Seeing what could have been her put wind back in my sails. It was 2 miles of downs and flats to the next and last AS. No shade, but no climbing. I could handle 2 miles. I knew if I could make the AS I’d make the day.

Photo by Alley Kloba

The time cutoff was 4 o’clock for AS #4 –you’d be pulled from the course no questions asked.

Heading into AS #4 I waited until I was under the shade of the tent to finally look at my watch to see what time of day it was: 1:40pm. Safe.
Photo by Alley Kloba
Mile 24.4 / 7 hours

My thought was if I can make it to AS #4 I’d rest as long as I needed and easily make the last 8 mile push. I stayed there for 10 minutes, finally being able to take in some fuel: a cup of Roctane and a handful of Ruffles. The stomach let a little/enough in that I felt I was in good shape. As I left I spotted the same person in pink coming over the ridge about a mile or 2 away.

 I figured the course profile was all downhill after one last little climb of about 300ft and I’d finish up in about 1.5 hours at most.

The reality of the situation clearly opened up after the climb. The down hills were too steep and narrow to safely run on tired legs across sand and boulders that where sharp and loose. The canyons that they warned about that went on forever wasn’t the problem, it was that at max I could only go downhill at 17 min pace. Then climb, crawl, and scramble up at 23 min pace. Too quickly you do the math and figure at BEST you’re going to be out here for another 2.5 hours. That’s if everything goes well.
Photo by Alley Kloba
Finally reaching the forest and running on dirt trails again I was ecstatic to say the least. But only to have the trail dump back into the last lava field just over a mile long. I wasn’t ready for a fight today. 9.25 hours on my legs and I was done. My left I.T Band had that familiar sick ache as I crossed the last lava field that I'd been afraid of all day. I reached 30.5 miles at the end of the lava field FINALLY and a volunteer on course said it’s all open trail and service road to the finish line from here.

I sat on a stone stretching out my I.T. Band for 2 minutes wondering if I was going to see AK crossing the lava field just above me. Then I just decided it’s going to hurt. 16 minutes or 45 minutes. I crossed the last dried stream bed and hit the service road hard. Carried 8:15 minute pace and quickly caught the 3-4 people that went by when I was sitting on the stone. About 5 minutes into it, I.T. pulled, run light and hard don’t stop.

Garmin chirped 31 miles, one more to go.

 Pain is a funny thing, I don’t ever talk about it with friends because it sounds stupid and I always get the same response of “Why didn’t you just stop?” I don’t stop because I didn’t need to. It hurt, things hurt, it wasn’t broken, the damage wasn’t going to be long term and I wasn’t going to let something that I was afraid of win. Not after 32 miles. So you bite down, shed tears and focus on turn over, breathing, pace, being as relaxed as possible and ignore the fact that you feel like a rag doll with wolves tearing at your leg.

I thought, in a few hours AK and I will be sitting on the hotel bed watching tv laughing about what the hell we just did to ourselves. - it's funny, I could ignore the beating I was taking by focusing on the details of what'd we be eating and watching.

Garmin chirped at 33 miles

Nothing but forest ahead. I said out loud, ‘It’s 34 miles, I can’t do that.” – I never knew the exact mileage and had heard 32,33, & 34 miles throughout the day.

I started to try and stop. If you’ve ever run with a blown I.T. Band you have no control over your leg, from about mid-hip to your ankle. You kick the bottom of your leg forward with your thigh sending lightning rods from hip to ankle and across the knee, and hope like hell that your foot lands in a way that you can basically pole vault over to the good leg.

 At 33 miles I knew I couldn’t run one more mile to the finish, then to the right of the trail about 20 yards down I saw a line of parked cars and tents………………PPPPHHHHH AAAAWWWW KKKKK…….

Finish time: 9:58 and change

I crossed the line and was seated and looked after by a great volunteer, who brought me food and water. All I could say was, "Food, water, not cold." The people that were cold were being laid out with IV's behind the chairs. Then she lead me to my car after about 5 minutes.

As I got to the car I turned as people clapped for another finisher and I saw a person in pink cross the line. I told my volunteer, “I think my wife just finished”. She rushed off and sure enough 2 minutes later she brought AK around the corner. I yelled to her, “It WAS you that was behind me!”

This course was beautiful and wounded beyond words: Beautiful Destruction. It’s amazing that over 30 years later anything could grow back there again. I had a GoPro and wanted to use it during, but decided against because I felt I had to show respect to my 1st ultra-race and focus on finishing. Same thing with taking pictures, I just couldn’t take my phone out and take pictures like at Cutthroat and other races.

My mantras throughout the day:
Calm, slow, easy.
Wait for the window to open. Breathe. Don’t Panic.
Walk everything first, run when you can.

10+ years ago on our 1st trip to St. Helens
Not sure if I’d ever do this event again, I’d love to think so. The first time AK and I ever went to St. Helens we were in a constant bliss of ‘what’s around the next trail, what’s over that ridge, how can we make it over to that area’. Sort of a fantasy land of trails and sights. Even after 10 hours on course, I still felt a bit of that, minus the lava fields. So yeah, maybe again sometime.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chuckanut 30K, or 19 miles of up



Sunday morning was calm and easy. We had scheduled this race as a supported training run so there was no pre-race nervousness the night before like with most races. Driving there was quick and easy, a friend doing the 12k offered to drive so I knew I just had to make it to the car and I’d be good in the morning.

I had a short run Saturday and the legs felt good, a little tired, but no issues. I had 34 miles for the week already and was determined not to rest for this race as I wanted to truly use it for training. Plus, 19 miles on tired legs is something I should be able to draw on over the next year or so.

Run goal was to not go too deep and run easy. Nothing above 80% effort.

At the start I tucked in the back with Alley because we both didn’t want to get caught up in the early race excitement and end up over doing it too early, with 900ft in the first two miles that would be pretty easy to do. I stayed with my group until mile 1 then slowly paced away from them, I was loosely the last person in the bigger group up ahead breaking away.

I ran easy in the back until we hit the top of mile 2 then wanted to enjoy the downhill within reason. I past about 10 people within the first minute of the down section and started to run easy with lots of speed carrying into the switchbacks. It still surprises me how fast you can gap people on the downhills. I could see 2 people about 10 seconds ahead and was gaining quickly on them. On the switchbacks I could see a guy in an orange shirt gaining on me and I yelled out something stupid like ‘YEAH, WORK THAT SHIT!’ I love running the downs, but I really love watching someone run the downs.

I was staying on 6:10 pace and this guy was full out flying behind me. LOVE IT!

He caught me just as I caught the 2 in front of me and about 3 seconds later we hit the 3 mile climb. Orange guy started the climb aggressively and I never saw him again. I started the climb and did 2 minutes on, one minute off. I kept telling myself it’s just like hill repeats, pace, it’s a training run. I ignored the people around me and just concentrated on my watch. 36 minutes to climb that beast, fukkas! I could of watched an episode of Friends in that time.

I was kind of running with two guys up that thing, but dropped them on the last qtr mile or so before the 1st aid station. I stayed at a steady strong pace (not race pace) and looked back after 2 minutes and there was no one.

I was happily in no mans land

I didn’t stop at the aid station and started on what turned out to be my favorite part of the course. Rock scrambles, tight single track turns, 2-4 ft drops, bounding from stone to stone. Running on the ridge, to the left the hill fell away pretty quickly through heavy forest, while on the right there was a stone wall about 4-6 ft high. Every once in a while the wall would open up to a large flat stone and I could just catch a glimpse of the view to the right. After the second time seeing an opening I told myself, ‘this is a training run STOP and look!’ So on the 3rd one I rounded a corner and ran up a 4 foot stone slab to the top to see the view………..HOLY SHIT!
I think I saw a monkey raising a baby lion up over it's head? Could of been the sweat in my eyes!?!

I could see about 3 valleys rolling into one another and a mountain range behind them catching the amazing yellow cast of morning light. This side of the ridge was a cliff wall that just fell straight down. I stood there for about a minute just drinking it all in. Then someone ran by. Oh. That’s right, in the middle of a race, but so glad I stopped.

I caught up with the guy that went by, who was wearing a Lake Stevens 70.3 visor, and followed him until we hit the down and he let me go by. That was the last I saw of him. I still couldn’t believe what a beautiful course we were getting to run on. By the bottom of that hill I could feel my hips starting to tighten up and then after the endless 3rd climb I couldn’t really get a good rhythm on the downs.

I’ve noticed lately that the Run Gods giveth and taketh, just as easy one way, as the other.

By mile 12-13 my hips were pretty tight and the downhill before the last climb was killing me. I felt like I was being pushed down the hill and just barely had time to get me feet under me before falling forward. This has happened a few times before, comes on so quickly, maybe over the course of 3-4 minutes? It was a wide open easy down that I should have been able to fly down, instead I was painfully scratching out 10 minute miles. Ugh….

Finally I hit the aid station at 14.4, which was the base of the famed “Chinscraper”. *queue claps of thunder and a bwhahahahaha……

I walked (hiked) the whole thing : ) that shit was steep. Reach out in front of you and grab a tree root steep.

On the hike up I stepped up oddly on a root with my right leg and my inner thigh freaked out and spiked with pain. Hmmmm, this could be bad!?! I stopped for a minute and started walking and then started to laugh a bit because I wasn’t moving too much slower than before. So my plan was to ignore it and shuffle along for a bit. By the time I hit the top, 30 minutes later, the leg was fine and I felt oddly rested. Whatever.

So this was a training run and not a race. My mental rules were as follows:

1.       No racing

2.       No effort above 80% perceived

3.       No going “all in”at any point

4.       Let people pass and go by without contest

5.       AND NO FK’N RACING!


However : ) when I hit the start of the 4 mile downhill to the finish (dropping 1440’), the hips were open for business again. I tested a bit then just gave the legs the “free to fly” green light - (Run Gods Giveth)

Breathing was rested, legs were doing little work, heart rate was way down. Light, easy, fun.

I past 4 people in the last 3 mile stretch, but wasn’t trying to catch them. I just kept saying to myself ‘have fun, run easy, enjoy this’


Last 4 mile splits: 7:12, 7:02, 7:08, 7:35

Finished in 3:38, 20th overall

6500’ of elevation gain


The course was the middle part of the Chuckanut 50k that Alley ran a few years ago as her first ultra. Running through some of the single track, rock scramble, hand over hand climbing portions of the course ( the best parts) I couldn’t imagine doing it covered in 3’ of snow and frozen mud like she had. I had a huge sense of pride and ultra understanding of what a Badass Alley is. Overall it was a fan-freakin-tastic great day out on the trails. A must run for anyone interested in trail running.


And my pre-race goals were met. I never felt like I was racing, I didn’t care who past me or who I past. I was just out for a long run on a great sunny day.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Remember not to panic…

Saturday was the 5th race in the Evergreen Trail Run series and I had trained pretty specific for the 10 mile trail race at Soaring Eagle. I got there with Alley, right on time, about 45 minutes before, parked, made our long way to the start and heard from a friend that the start time had been pushed back to 9:45. Cool, so instead of heading out for my warm up run right away I waited 15 extra minutes and then took off. The last thing I told Alley was “I have my phone on me, text me if you need to”.


The warm up run felt great, legs were rested, I hit the 10 minute mark and turned around. I was heading back and decided to add in a sharp hill climb to the right and figured I’d work the legs and would have plenty of time to recover on the mile back to the start. The climb was pretty hard, but short to the top where the road ended at the golf course. I hit the stop sign and then started on the downhill. I’m about 15 seconds into the downhill and I hear a text alarm through my headphones. At the bottom of the hill I read the all caps text – “EARL WAS WRONG!!! THE 10 MILE JUST STARTED!!! – crap….super crap! Crap crap…


I had the feeling like I missed the last BART train out of the city, like I slept through my last final in college, like I wasted 3 hard ass weeks of training.


I was bolting back to the start when I just said to myself, ‘enough, slow down, don’t panic, it is what it is. Let’s get back and see what the options are.’


I finally made it to our car, which meant that I was about .25 mile away, cuz we parked WAY down the road. I rounded up to the parking lot and saw a large group waiting so knew that it was the 5 mile that had been pushed back. I asked when the 10 milers took off and they said about 8 minutes ago. – UGH


Then I asked if I could switch from the 10 to the 5 and the woman said, “Sure, you can still race the 10 if you don’t care about your time.” Ugh again, I had to be that a hole that said ‘yes my time matters’. Boo…


I was bummed, but didn’t panic I had 4 minutes before the 5 mile started. I had a plan for the 10 mile and had been training at 10 mile pace, with a strategy of when to lay up and when to push the pace. The 5 mile?


After the last 5 mile race I knew I didn’t want to do another 5 mile race. Too hard of a pace for what I’d been training for, too hard of a pace to enjoy the race. Too hard of a race not to want to throw up at some point.


The course was downhill for the first mile so I knew that lots of people would be running harder than then should be. My plan was to hold a conservative pace until ¾ of a mile then push to get into the first group on the single track, where passing would be really hard to do. As planned, at about the ¾ mark lots of people started to die off the hard pace and I easily pushed to the front before entering the woods. I went from 30th to 9th in about 2 minutes.


Once in the single track it only took about 2-3 minutes to realize that I was redlining and had to slow down a bit. I let 1 person by, a really sharp 14 year old, I paced with him for the majority of the run through the woods. I was feeling ragged, and felt like I couldn’t get my legs under me to get a decent pace on. However, Soaring Eagle is twisty as hell with lots of roots. The 2 people in front would gap me on the short flats, but I’d get back to about 5 feet of them through all the twists and roots. I kept saying to myself “we’re going” meaning we’re going to redline until we blow up. Don’t loose them. I felt uncomfortable through the majority of the race, WHICH is why I didn’t want to run the 5 mile.


We hit the last uphill and by my guess I was somewhere between 9th and 12th. I knew if I could focus on one pace I might be able to reel the two up front back in. Within about 2 minutes I pulled one in, but as I did another guy caught us from behind. The 14 year old had gapped us by about 30 yards, but had started to walk, giving us 3 a bit of hope of catching him. I went with the guy that passed as he came around and stayed about 2 feet behind him. Which was tricky with all the mud, but I figured he was going to take the cleanest route so I just better focus on leg turnover. Although, really just wanting to hold on to his shirt so he could pull me up the hill.


I kept thinking to myself, ‘I feel like shit, this shouldn’t be this hard.’ I thought I was better trained than this! I was finally shoulder to shoulder with the guy as we climbed and grinded up the hill back to the finish. I glanced at my Garmin. “6:50”


I laughed out a bit and thought, that’s why you’re hurting, DUMBASS! You’re not under trained, you’re just pushing the shit out of it. We finally got within sight of the finish line and the guy I was trying to stay with bolted, I was just trying to keep pace and stay strong on the uphill finish. I had a real fear of losing 30-45 seconds in the last 30 yards, but it was only about 3 seconds.


Not my best feeling race, but I knew I had to go all in on the shorter race in order to stay high in the standings for the series. Not panicking, at the beginning when I showed up late for the 10 mile was key. Telling myself, don’t waste energy worrying about what happened, just get ready for what’s next. Don’t think I would have had that calm sense 3-4 years ago. I probably wouldn’t have run or charged off trying to bridge an 8 minute gap.


All in all it was an odd day, but still got to see old friends, meet some new ones, and run down and cheer for Alley racing the 10 miler after I finished. And lesson learned: I’m responsible for getting myself to the start line, not hearing it from someone else. Totally my bad.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Holding on to the tail of a bull

“Steady. Easy. Pace. Breathe.” ***Garmin reads – 10:20 minute miles

In the back of my mind past my mantra I keep saying over and over, don’t blow up, find the easiest route, this will only last a few more minutes. Listen to how quite it is, DON”T RUN UP THIS! - This is the new plan for the up hills.

After hitting the top, the new plan is to recover on the flats, so 8-9 minute pace max. Run relaxed and get your breath back, drink a little and control your breathing. Do not push hard! Relax.

Then the DOWN: It’s gravity. It’s swinging through the switchbacks like water. It’s everything you love about this sport. It’s big glittery presents on Christmas morning. It’s a freaking blast!

From the waist down legs are in a fast turn over, but ready to hesitate in mid-air if needed, ready to leap when needed. Eyes are looking for routes, DO NOT 2nd guessing just stick with the 1st choice, keep your arms high for balance and keep those eyes scanning, and DO NOT try to stop tight. Short bursts of hard, hard running. Holding on to the tail of a bull, a very pissed off bull. One that you're daring yourself not to let go of.

Remember you can run up the sides of trails just as well as on the path, key in tight switch backs, running 3ft high around a turn works well, but you can’t hesitate. Grab trees, roots or rocks (anything) to turn on a dime. Use the rollers to lift and jump over the crests of most slopes, roots, mud puddles and any and everything else. Remember you’re traveling at 6:03 pace, if you hit something/someone it’s going to HURT!

And breathe

If you see a long sweeping descent , widen stride to cover as much ground per step, almost breaking into a skip, don’t try and slow down, bound more and try and not slap your feet down. – cuz that bugs the crap out of me. On a descent like this calm down and let your heart rate drop. “I’m not really doing any work” goes through my head at times like this, but make sure you’re maximizing your pace. And keep your feet and eyes moving. And remember, this is fun!

I’ve been really working on pre-race warm ups for the trail races. A solid 2 miles at 10 minute pace, then about 2 minutes of the “grapevine” exercise, I think that’s the name of it. Nutrition during the race is still a moving target that I haven’t been able to nail down. The effort of trail running spikes the guttural efforts way more than my road running does, so I feel hungrier? Weaker? A bit washed out? All the above? Then the body gets moving along just fine after a few miles.

The last race at Dash Point I was dead on my feet at the 2 mile mark, argh! Didn’t go out too fast, was running pretty conservative, but the legs were just so heavy. I just told myself, don’t panic, slow down and enjoy the sun through the tree’s. Let it come back to you. After about 3 minutes the legs felt 100% better and I caught back up with the pack in front of me, moved through, then caught the pack ahead of them that I was running with. Again, sticking to the race plan: Rest on the flats – maintain on the hills – past everyone on the downs : )

I think I rushed the warm-up and didn’t get the full 2 miles in, my bad, I know better.

I’ve had a few great runs over at St. Eds and feel more and more solid on the downs. This last time it felt a bit on the verge of out of control, but staying confident on balance and not 2nd guessing the route along with giving into the speed seems to be key. The climbs or up hills I just have to make sure I’m not putting too much effort into. Walking vs Hiking vs Running: Whichever keeps the body from blowing up. Also, I’ve been paying close attention to recovery after a big climb and what the legs feel like 10-20-30 minutes after a big effort. Learning not to panic, just breathe and keep moving.

Tomorrow is Squak Mountain 12K, I’m thinking this will be a great test of patience. Rolling at first, then a two mile climb with 1200 ft of gain, ugh. The goal is to make it to the 5.5 mark where we’ll drop 1400ft in 2.2 miles. I’m thinking that’s where the race starts : ) but I have to be able to let people go early and not worry about keeping up with them. Should be a blast nad it might snow : ) fun fun!!