Friday, December 6, 2013

A blog post about nothing or something like that


You would think I would have lots to say as I have not posted in forever but even so this is pretty much my  blog equivalent to a Seinfeld episode. I figured that it was time to get back at it anyway. Its not like there is not much to write in fact the current state of this blog reminds me of our return flight from NYC. Just like the hour we spent at LaGuardia waiting in the airplane conga line to take off  I have about 10 posts in various stages of completion. Hopefully I will be able to shove them out the door and into the world in quick and short order.

In the meantime this is week 8 of marathon training and so far so good. No injuries and lots of good strong workouts. Whats that? Didn't I mention I am training for a February marathon? Guess that infos in one of those not yet released blog posts. More to come on that later for now here is Novembers training numbers. Mileage was a bit low after running 500km in October but I ended up losing a week to a bad cold which cost me a few hard workouts as well.


Runs - 21
Quality runs - 6
Long runs -4
Total time - 35:14:22
Distance - 226.57 miles or 364.9km


The one other big deal this week is that its that time of year again. Its time for the Western States lottery. That means what I run next year as far as big races go will get decided fairly quickly once the lottery verdict is in. This is the fourth year in a row for me and I am not holding my breath even with 4 tickets in the lottery. Looks like that gives me about a 25% chance of getting my name pulled but given my  0 for 14 lottery losing streak I am pessimistic. Okay I am always pessimistic but even more than usual. I will stay glued to my computer WS live feed tomorrow like a little kid waiting for his Daddy to come home after he went out for a pack of smokes. Hope springs eternal .... Yadda Yadda



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Leadville 100 Race Report 2013

If you know me you know that I am usually very rarely at a lost for words but after everything that went on at the Leadville 100 this year I find it hard to know what to say. I feel amazingly conflicted over the event but positive about my actual run even though I DNFed. Confused? Yeah me too.

If you have read my blog in the past you know I am also rarely critical except about my own running but this time there is just no way around it. I promised when I started writing this blog I would be honest about what goes on out there in my running world and so I will be. I have decided that I will do this in two posts in an attempt to keep some separation between my own run and the actual race / event. Here is part 1 which is my actual race report on my run. Part 2 about the overall event will follow shortly.

Leadville 100 race report
I can honestly say I don't think I have ever been more prepared for a race in my life. Its been a year of training, plotting and planning my revenge after DNFing at Leadville last year. The good news is I know the course, am healthy, well trained and have a great crew. The bad news is that there is still no oxygen on Hopes Pass and no mountains in Toronto to train on. I also dont have any pacers but heck from past experience all they do is eat all your food and make fun of your snail like death shuffle pace anyway.

I arrive in Leadville in a long black hearse also know as the rental car on Friday morning for medical with Kim and JD. I blame JD for me being here as it was his plan to return after last year that convinced me to sign up. He takes no ownership over my registration and at one point a few months ago even tries to tell me that we are both adults. Now thats hilarious!

At medical/weigh-in I find out that I am fatter than I expected and then head into the Leadville store to buy some running crap. No danger in that because I feel great and am definitely going to finish this year. I mean I feel really good for a fat guy that cant seem to breath and already has a headache from the altitude. We settle on Pizza and beer for dinner. Its the perfect fat guy food and I really need a drink but when the beer shows up its 3.2%. Yummy thats some really tasty beer flavoured water. Apparently the low alcohol content of beer bought in Leadville restaurants have something to do with tourists and altitude. You can get the real deal at building with the big sign that says Liquor but we figure our water beer is good enough.

We head back to the hotel to get a couple of hours of sleep then its back downtown for the 4AM race start. Is it just me or is this race corral really crowded this year?

Start line to Mayqueen (13.5 miles)
Last year I started out too slow and ended up getting caught up in traffic so this year the plan was to make sure that didn't happen. JD and I ran the first 5 miles of road / dirt road at a good pace but still made sure to not be too fast. I have to say I was feeling really good. Okay I know I had 95 miles to go but I felt great. We kept the pace solid as we hit the early part of the trail and I chatted with a couple of guys from Chicago for the next hour or so. Just before we came into the Boat Ramp at 7.5 miles I looked back along the lake. There was a line of headlamps extending back around the lake for a very long way. Man there was a lot of people on the trail.

A short distance past the Boat Ramp you are into single track trail. Last year I really got hung up here as the number of runners created a slow moving conga line. At first it looked like it might be the same thing again as things slowed down but after passing a couple of slower runners the trail opened up some with everyone right in front of me running a good pace. As it got light out I glanced behind me but no JD. I figured he would catch up soon enough.

I cruised into Mayqueen in 2:24 which was 4 minutes faster then planned. It was going great and I was stoked as I crossed the timing mat and stepped into unbelievable chaos. The aid station area was a zoo. It was nuts last year but this was bedlam. Both sides of the paved roadway crammed with people that were pressing in on the runners. I kept going along the gauntlet looking for Kim until finally getting to the end and the main road. No Kim, good grief. I turned and headed back towards the aid station watching for her but realizing that I was probably going to have to just hit my drop bag instead. Finally I saw her (she still didnt see me).

Kim felt so bad when she saw me coming from the wrong direction and that she had missed me. I made sure she knew that I didn't blame her. It was nuts there. She said other crew kept pushing their way in front of her and then standing there making it hard to see anything. I swapped hydration vests and headed back onto the course. My 1 minute stop ended up being 5 but I was still 10 minutes ahead of last year.

Mayqueen to Outward Bound (Fish Hatchery) 23.5 miles
A very short run on the road and we are back on the trail. This is one of my favourite parts of the course. I cruise along the single track trail still in great spirits and am quickly out of the wood and onto the road along Hagermans Pass. Its a pretty big climb but the terrain is not difficult and the views are spectacular. We cross under the powerlines and I know that its almost all down hill from here. The couple of miles of running down the powerlines is great fun but I know enough to keep it reigned in. There is a great oppurtunity to damage the quads here so running downhill stupid is not a good plan. Just before the bottom I catch up to the guys from Chicago and chat a little more.

The course at the bottom of powerlines where we hit the road seems different to me from last year. There was no announced course change here, maybe I am just remembering it wrong which sometimes happens. I ponder this for the next mile of road as we make our way to Fish Hatchery.

This is a big change for the race. The aid station is no longer at the Hatchery which you now run past and go further up the road for about a quarter mile. I check my split as I pass it to compared to last year. I am 3 minutes slower than last year for the section but still 5 minutes ahead of my planned pace. I arrive at Outward Bound soon enough.

Outward Bound to Treeline
The aid station is a joke. It is complete and total disaster. Anything I write here will totally fail to convey just how amazing awful, disorganized and dangerous it was. Kim sees me just before the turn off the road and into the aid station. I might not have even know where to turn without her pointing it out to me. There are cars parked all along the road and people everywhere but even worse there are cars leaving the aid station "parking" right next to the timing mats. To leave these cars then have to pass right through the line of departing runners coming out of the aid station. Honestly I think that its a miracle that nobody was injured or killed here.

I drop my hydration pack and pick up my bottle for the short run to Treeline. Kim asks me if I want to take my other handheld but I say no. Its only 4 miles to treeline where I will meet her and switch back to the pack. This turns out to be a very big mistake on my part.

I leave the aid station having to dodge cars just to get out onto the road and then its a couple of miles pavement until you hit jeep road. The first mile is scary as the traffic coming and going from the aid station is heavy and we are running with traffic so you cant really see the cars coming up on you. I run this section really well and glide into the crew area at treeline.

Treeline is not an aid station but is a crew access point and that means there is no race aid here. Something very strange is going on. There is very little crew here. Last year the field was packed with cars and people but not this year. Have I missed the Rapture? Has the zombie Apocalypse started without me? I hope not I have big plans for that one and I left my machete at home. I arrive at the spot I am suppose to meet Kim. We actually picked an exact spot because it was so crowded last year. Is that a tumble weed rolling by? Kim is not here and its not hard to tell because the place we are suppose to meet is nearly empty.

I dont need to consult with Stephen Hawking to know that the aid station mess at Outward has caused her to miss me. Now I have got a big problem of my own making. I am running with a single bottle instead of my pack and that is just not going to cut it. I should have enough water to get to Halfpipe but just barely. Oh did I forget to mention that its around 10 AM and is starting to get hot. Looks like my timing is perfect.

I run this section to Halfpipe really well but I am forced to carefully ration my water instead of just drinking which worries me. I arrive at the aid station and take a couple of minutes to rehydrate a bit before heading back out.

Halfpipe to Twin Lakes
This section is 8.5 miles of mostly awesome running. I am good as far as gels go but water will be an issue. Luckily there is a water only station at 5.5 miles so I might be okay. Why the heck didnt I take that extra handheld with me? For the next 5 miles this thought gnaws at my brain like the larva from a Ceti eel (hows that for an obscure reference kids).

I somehow manage to run out of water just before the water station but refill there. Still I am off my nutrition and hydration slightly which is not good for me (see pasts posts involving all my mid race exorcist impressions). The next 3 miles are beautiful single track and then lots of downhill which carry me into Twin Lakes.

Twin Lakes to Winfield
I arrive at Twin Lakes 12 minutes ahead of schedule wondering just how that happened. The aid station is crowded but somewhat normal and organized. Kim sees me right away and guides me to our crew area. She tells me it took her over an hour to get out of Fish Hatchery and drive the 3 miles to treeline. She also tells me that JD was about an hour behind me at that point. I feel good and still strong but am a little worried. I take some extra time to try and hydrate plus I lose some time "using the facilities". Still I am out of the aid station and headed towards the Pass well ahead of last years time.

I promised myself while relaxing on the couch in my living room that I would run the entire field swamp section to the bottom of the pass. Man that seemed so easy a thing to do while I was surfing the sofa but not so easy in real life. The field is hot and EVERYONE is walking it. I run, walk, run, walk. My lack of discipline here is disturbing but the oxygen deprivation makes it all seem just fine.

I soon start the long climb up Hopes Pass. I get passed by the guys from Chicago again but keep a decent rhythm and keep moving. I have never used poles before but find they help me a fair bit. Everyone is struggling here, well everyone expect the elite guys that are passing us going back down towards Twin Lakes. Just before we hit the switchbacks Scott Jurek flies by. I begin to think about taking up bowling or maybe lawn darts. There are no 3.5 mile hills in bowling and your table has a little cup holder for your beer. That sounds just about perfect.

It takes forever to get to Hopeless aid station. I seem to remember the course all wrong as there is a great deal more running above the switchbacks and not one but 3 fields. Guess the no O2 at 12,000ft really does affect you. I grab a coke at Hopeless and have them add some water to my pack. I would rather not stop but worry I might run out of water on the back side of the Pass like I did last year. I also hear some of the aid station people talking about having to recycle cups as they are running out. Given less than 20 runners have passed me going inbound this is not a good thing.

Out of the aid station I make the last half mile climb and am soon on top of the pass. I pause briefly to soak in the scenery. Okay maybe I was just trying to catch my breath but it was still awesome. The back side is steep but a good 2 miles of downhill which I run pretty fast. The poles worked great allowing me to open it up without busting up my quads or falling. Unfortunately there are many runners coming back up the Pass and the trail is narrow. That means a lot of stopping and starting trying to let people pass.

Once out of the downhill its 3 miles across the Colorado trail and then down into Winfield. I am slow along this section and it seems to have a lot of climbing. I also begin to feel the first signs of stomach trouble which is a very bad sign for me.

Getting into Winfield is an absolute joke. Cars block the way and there is hardly enough room to get by them just to get into the aid station. I see Kim and give her my pack and poles. She tells me I have to turn around and go back in through the chute to weigh in. I totally didn't see the chute due to the F@$#ing cars. I weigh in 7 pds light while last year I was only 2 lbs down. This only confirms what I already suspected, I am dehydrated and my nutrition is messed up.

I know I cant stay here long but try to rebuild a little as I am an hour ahead of the cutoff. I go to grab some Cokes at the aid station but all they have is Diet Coke. I find this stunningly ridiculous. Why the heck would you have something with zero sugar and calories at an Ultra Aid station. I mean its not like anyone needs to get calories in them after running 13 hours.

I head back out and by the time I am on the Colorado Trail again my stomach is freaking out. I run this next 3 miles at a quick pace mainly because I have to if I want to have any chance of making over the pass in a decent time. I see JD sitting on a rock along this section and he looks tired. By the time I hit the bottom of the climb back up the pass I am in big trouble.

I find a rock and sit for a few minutes contemplating what to do as I stare at tiny chunks of chewed up roma noodles that are now adorning my shoe tops. I do the math and know there is no way for me to rebuild while making the climb. It will be a long puke filled trek up the mountain. I have done the vomit dance many times and kept going but I am really worried about the dehydration and also that I will be so slow that I am going to have a cut off issue. I have gotten sick at exactly the wrong spot in the race. After some  contemplation I decide I dont want to risk getting stuck on the pass. My race is done.

This ended up being a really tough day for me and really I don't think I will run this race again. Kim says she will NEVER crew here again unless she has at least 2 other people with her. JD dropped at Winfield and said he is never coming back. My DNF is on me, everything has to go right for me to have a chance to finish this race due to how the altitude messes with me. It didn't but thats how it goes sometimes. That said Lifetime Fitness has really messed this thing up. Stay tuned for part 2.



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Looking for Leadville Pacers and sweet new gadget


So much for keeping up with my regular postings. Looks like I have become about as reliable as the Postal Service. Checks in the mail, honest. I have unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately depending on your view point) fallen way behind on my race reports. Will try to play catch up in the next few weeks to give you even more internet content that you can and should ignore.

Hey before you actually start that ignoring thing its that time again. Its time to crank up the final 8 weeks of training in an attempt to get ready to run 100 miles at Leadville. You would think that I might have learned my lesson last year. Man you couldn't be more wrong. Have you not read this blog before? I almost never learn my lesson and if I do I soon forget. Thats one character trait you really need to run Ultras, the ability to totally forget just how horrible it sometimes gets. You call it horrible, we call it "having fun". Also someone told me that there will be way more oxygen at the top of Hopes Pass this year and I am choosing to believe them.

After a two week break to let my injured foot recover from Sulphur Springs I have built the mileage back up to an acceptable 125km a week level so time to start more race specific training. Not much I can do about altitude here in Toronto so the next 6 weeks will see lots of stair climbing, hill repeats and back to back long runs including 50k runs at Creemore and Limberlost. I will also be picking up trekking poles next week in time to get a bit of practice before Leadville. I plan on using them on the Pass and maybe inbound on the Powerline. They should really help because last year when I couldn't breath I had to lean forward hands on my knees. This year I can just use the poles to hold me up and its easier than caring a chair.

Pacers???
Okay so in all seriousness I am looking for a couple of pacers this year. There is little doubt that I will be running just ahead of the cutoffs again this year. Thats just a sucky high altitude fact of life for someone like me. Having someone to mule and help pull me / push me along might be the difference between finishing or curling up in a ball at the side of the trail.

If you happen to live in CO or are going to be in CO on Aug 18-19th and are interested in pacing leave me a message.

B-Day Gift
Last weekend was my birthday and I got a huge surprise from my wife. She bought me a Suunto Abit to replace my ancient Garmin which was just about dead. Holy crap a GPS that will actually last as long as a 100 mile race. Will be taking it out for a test run this week once I figure out how to set the thing up.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hyner View Challenge 50k - race report

elevation chart of 25k, 50k about 7000ft of climb

A little over a week ago Kim and I headed down to Pennsylvania to run the Hyner View Challenge. I decided to run 50k while Kim stuck to the 25k option. I was really looking forward to being able to hit the trails for 6 or 7 hours of tough long climbs and descents on challenging technical trail. All I can say is "Wow" this race did not disappoint at all. I would call it a little hidden gem but with 1200 people in the 25k I guess only I was in the dark. Still the 50k race was very small with about 130 runners.

We drove down on Friday and hooked up with a couple of other Ontario runners at the hotel before picking up our race kits. The kits were great, awesome shirt (no advertising), socks and all kinds of editable goodies. We also got a good look at a few of the hills. I pointed out to Kim the little viewing area way up at the top of the hill that we would be climbing. Holy crap it looked like a hard climb but luckily that doesn't come until you are at least 2 miles into the race.

Saturday morning all of us headed to the start line where we got ready and met up with Carlos see his report here. Weather was okay but cold so it was gloves and tights for this one. The 50k started before the 25k so I said goodbye to Kim and we were soon off and running.

The first mile was on road and then it was into nice single track for a mile or two. I felt good and clipped along at an okay pace. I could have gone faster but one side of the trail dropped off almost straight down into the river 100 feet below so some caution was in order. I figured its cold out and I didn't bring my swimsuit so no need to go down there.


Everything was moving along well when we hit the first major climb. I cant complain as I knew this would be the first of 4 big climbs on the 25k route and that didn't include what  I would find on the other 25k loop that I was running. The hills were actually the reason I picked this race. They all have names and everyone knows that when hills have names they need to be respected, or hated, or something like that. The first climb was up "Humble Hill" and it was tough. My calves were on fire by the time I made it up the 2 mile climb. I would say the view was worth it but I was too busy sucking wind or too scared to look over the edge to enjoy it. I am still not sure which one it was.



Soon after it was about a mile of steep downhill. Okay so I had a plan for this race. I would power up the climbs and take it easy on the downhills so that I didn't destroy my quads. Sounds great when you put that plan together sitting on your couch but in reality standing at the top of steep technical downhills  not really doable.  Who was the moron that put that plan together? It was clear going slow (breaking) or going fast were both going to pound the quads so I went fast, at least while I could.

By mile 5 we were into the "flat". Oh good a new brand new wrinkle as the trail made its way along a creek bed and by along I mean in a creek bed. It was technical and crossed the stream many, many times. Sometimes you could rock jump but mostly you just got wet but hey I needed to clean the mud off my shoes anyway.

Right around 8 miles we left the 25k route and headed onto the other section for the bonus 25k. Some nice flat running and then we were climbing again up "Sledgehammer" for a 1000 ft. climb over just 1 mile. Some more flat running, the weather warmed up and I was feeling good. There was another big downhill and then something happened. Not sure what it was but it was something.

First the sun disappeared as I made my way up the second long creek bed of the day. Is it snowing? What the heck! Then it was into the creek, out of the creek, run 50 meters and back into the creek. Repeat for the next few miles. Don't they know that I already cleaned off my shoes in the last  creek? Good thing this was the exact moment that my legs abandoned me. Way to go legs, thanks for coming out. Next stop was dark and brooding land. The only good thing about this is that I have been here many times. I think I must have purchased a time share in miseryville since I just keep on coming back there every spring. I also know that if you push through you can come out of it pretty quickly so I cling to this idea. Even when I fall while going uphill and bash both my knees into a giant rock I cling to the hope.

I am soon at the aid station at 18 miles and starting to feel decent again. I am slowing down but have started to  actually enjoy the trail again.  At mile 21 we are back headed down the "Sledgehammer" which is totally runnable unless of course your quads are toast which mine are so I take a controlled descent here until I am right back onto the 25k course where we left it.

More creek running but in an added twist its all going up hill. Just when you think you have seen it all the RD throws another sinister twist at you. I am really starting to like this guy, is that sad or what? Another big downhill, its long its technical, its single track and its got a fair number of back of the pack 25k runners making their way to the finish. At first I am thinking crap this is going to make it harder but I could not be more wrong. The 25k people were amazing, they watched for the 50kers and quickly moved out of the way as soon as they saw you. Man people at this race are really nice.

Finally it's onto the last big climb which is actually 2 climbs. First you make your way up a number of switchbacks  for a good mile or so and just when you think you are almost done you hit SOB hill. It's name is very well deserved although it's only about 400 meters long it goes almost straight up, hands were required at a number of points in time.

climbing up SOB

Looking back at SOB

I was gased after this but you get rewarded with some nice runnable fire roads before being plunged into your last downhill. It was so long and technical with a nice drop off down to the creek below that I must have been running it slower then the flats I had just come off of. I was just not going to trust my trashed legs at this point. Finally after well over a mile we were back onto the road and headed for the finish line. The flat road was quite welcome at that point but a tease as just before we hit the finish it was back into the trail for one more steep hill climb to the end. I heard lots of swearing here and it wasn't even coming from me. Nice of the RD to throw in one more gottcha just for fun.

Finished in 7:17:22 a little slower then I had hoped for (7 hours) but given the workout I was happy with it. Kim ran a good race as well considering she has never run on a course this technical before so it was a good tune up for Bear Mountain. Finish line food was some of the best I have had at any race. BBQ chicken, hotdogs, potato salad, baked beans, pizza and lots of local micro brewery beer.

I can't say enough about how great this race was. Every aspect was 5 stars. No doubt we will be returning to run this one again in the years to come.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston sorrow, Hyner View Trail 50k this weekend


Boston Marathon
Not a lot I can say here. Its often hard to understand or believe that there are people out there in the world that are this sick and twisted. Like most distance runners I had a lot of friends running Boston. They all were lucky enough to escape being physically injured although some saw things that they will surely never forget. Our hearts go out to those that were injured and their families. I can't image just how awful this is for them.

On the same note what is the main stream medias problem? How about you guys try to report actual facts instead of speculating and then calling those musings factual information. From constantly reporting on more bombs found right after the event to today saying an arrest had been made when it hadn't. Really guys? Really? How hard is it to actually get facts before reporting something as reality. We used to have a word for that. It was called journalism.


Hyner View Trail 50k
We are headed down to  Pennsylvania this weekend to run Hyner View. Kim is running the 25k and I am doing 50. Not really racing it as much as using it as a nice hard long run. Trails look really great with the 50k having 6600 ft of climb. The 25k also has a whopping 4226 ft of climb. Seems like a perfect way to open up the spring season.




This is a race almost didn't happen for me. The registration closed a month before the race and I totally missed this fact while I was considering running the race. I knew I really wanted to do it but was waiting for my injury issue to clear up before registering.

I actually left a message on the site expressing my disappointment at not noticing this and then I got a huge surprise. The RD, Craig Fleming, reopened the 50k registration for an extra week. That allowed both myself and Carlos Vicens to sign up. So a big thank you to the Race Director on this one.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Krissy Moehl talk monday night talk at the Patagonia store

On monday Kim and I headed downtown to take in the talk being given by Ultra Marathoner Krissy Moehl. Great event all around. We got some free endurance swag on top of getting to hear an amazing runner talk about her experiences in the sport. It was also really great to talk with lots of people that we haven't seen since the trail season ended last fall.

On Tuesday morning Chris Henderson and I headed back down to the Patagonia store to join in the fun run. It was a small but fun group and great weather.

Krissy Moehl speaking in Toronto

fun run tuesday morning


running with April & Melanie Boultbee and Krissy Moehl



Monday, April 1, 2013

Breaking up is hard to do, March stats, Injury update


Dear Elliptical,
I am breaking up with you.
A few months ago we started hanging out together and at first things when great. I was relieved to be able to spend time with you having been abandoned by my ability to run. Truth is running had kept me really busy and on the days I had gone to the gym I hadn't even noticed you there sitting along the back wall. I came, I did weights, I headed home, not even noticing you were there.

After being hurt by running I was sad, lonely and desperate. Yes I said it, desperate! Thats when I saw you at the back of the room. Often you were alone, occasionally someone would engage you but they never stayed long. Once we got together I spent hours a day on you, pounding away with reckless abandon. At first it was fun. You were new and different and I got what I needed out of you. I was temporarily satisfied. Unfortunately that did not last. 




I have been plotting to move on. It can't be helped elliptical. You are just boring, really uninspiring and boring. It's the same thing every day, you sit in the corner and never want to go anywhere else or do anything different. In the last few weeks our every day get togethers began to become every 2 days and then 3 days. Even when we did see each other I began to stay for as little time as possible. I got to be honest here. I began to loath you. I dreaded the thought of having to drag my ass out to the gym to see you. I couldn't wait to be rid of you. Frankly you suck, BIG TIME.

Well its official, we are done. I have gone back to my first love and have no intention of ever having anything to do with you again. I am going back to just ignoring you when I see you at the gym. Yes its true I was just using you until I could get back to my first love. Hasta La Vista baby.

Injury Update
No problems so far. I got a strong week of running in last week with no hip pain. Currently I am ramping the mileage back up. Maybe this thing is finally behind me. Not planning another injury update in my future posts (I hope).


March Training
Here are my March training totals. Finally it includes some running.

Running - 12 workouts - 15hrs 51 min    103.7 miles or 166.9km
Weight Training - 24 workouts -  28hrs 20 mins
Elliptical - 24 workouts - 28hrs 20 min
Cycle - 3 workouts - 1hrs 50 min
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