Sunday, July 26, 2009

HSCT 2009 July 26th

Here's a picture post of Howe Sound Crest Trail run that Nicola, Tom Skinner, Meredith Cale, Adam Way, Glenn Pace and I did today.

Tom, Nicola and myself made a quick side trip to the top of the West Lion as well.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Running outside my boundaries!!! :)

This year has been another year of goals based around running. After a long winter of training, I had a disappointing run at my first race of the season back in March at Way to Cool 50km. With that said, the rest of my season has been really satisfying. The fact is, I have put more quality training in then in any other year, which has given me the confidence to let myself run a little outside my old preconceived boundaries.

Comfortably Numb is a 25km race in Whistler that my store has sponsored since its conception 5 years ago. This years version was my break through race. I ran within myself for sure but I had gained confidence from my experiences at Miwok 100 that allowed me to mentally push myself to run more of the uphill terrain then ever before and at a pace where I wasn't sure exactly what would happen. I nailed my nutrition on this run, which has given me the confidence to know that I can go to other races and run well. This year at Comfortably Numb, I ran with confidence, which lead me to a 12 minute PB. I knew that I was ready to go push at Knee Knacker because the very next day I went out for my last long run before tapering for Knee Knacker, and I felt awesome.

And that brings us to yesterdays race, the 2009 running of the Knee Knacker 50km.
I assure you, I have learned from my mistakes at Way to Cool. This year I did a lot of mental and written prep both in regards to split times and 1,2,3 goals. I also used a crew (my wonderful sister and girlfriend) and gave them a very detailed outline of my race plan(This was a main reason for my success.)

I was pretty lonely getting up on Saturday morning because my running pal/ girlfriend, Nicola, was sidelined with a foot injury. I was glad that she listened to her body choosing to pass on this years run. She is a lucky girl, and has received some of the best medical advice/services with NSA employee response times.

Up I got. I did the regular toast and PB and chilled out getting my things ready. I had to wake up Nic to Sport shield my back before my run. My good friend Mark Grist and his lady Kristi live just up the street and had offered to drive me to the start. It was just before 5am when I heard the faint knock on the door. I quickly did those last minute things and was out the door after a good by kiss.

The start area has been changing yearly ever since the move from the old start. It wasn't really warm that morning so I was glad to have worn track pants and my NSA Jacket. I greeted many smiling faces as I looked for the ones that mean a little something special to wish them all a grand adventure. I was fairly focused but relaxed and I passed the time chatting with different friends, sharing in some great conversations. The final words were said by Kelsey, and at this point she past the mic to Enzo and we approached the start line. With only 2 minutes or so to go, I got the urge to pee. I ran up the hill to the right not really out of view at all and executed a quick tinkle. I ran back over quickly and we were off.

I wasn't really sure what to expect of the day, except that I was going to work fairly hard getting up and into Cypress and see where I was. I felt fine working at the level I was and my nutrition seemed to be working. I had an interval watch on my wrist letting me know with regular beeps when to take a salt pill. Even though I was taking 4 salt pills an hour, I soon realized this would not be enough. And so it began...the salt pill popping addiction. I was with a man that I had followed at Comfortably Numb on much more runnable terrain. The 2 of us moved very well together but as the climb up Black began to steepen, my walking quickly overtook his and I past and caught several people. I quickly fell in behind Chris, a man that had run Miwok with me earlier in the year. His PB was 5:59 for KK and I was feeling really good running behind him. Once we got to the scrambling part of Eagle Bluff, I quickly got ahead, running straight up the rock face with confidence. I even walked a little towards the forest to let my HR recover a little before the next runnable section. I had learned on our one training run up Black this year that the section between the top of Eagle Bluff, through the mud pits, and up to Black Mountain is more runnable then I had thought. So with that in mind, I ran all of it, except for 3 short but steep climbs. I cruised through the first aid station. I chose to wear my Salomon Pack, which carries 2 L of water, for the first 1/4 of the race, ensuring I would have enough water to make it into Cypress. I cruised along the steepest downhills on course keeping everything in check. I knew from the moment I got my first view of the parking lot that I was there a lot quicker than I had expected. I only hoped my crew was there and ready to go cause I was a coming in hot.

I ran well into the aid station. I finally spotted Kath (my sister) and Nicola standing on the right. I had such tunnel vision coming into that aid station and besides those 2, Heather Macdonald is the only other person I remember seeing at that aid station. I quickly and I mean quickly, like without stopping handed off my unwanted bag and garbage and grabbed a new smaller camelbak and gels and kept going. I had seen Ellie Greenwood leaving the aid station as I ran in and I had passed another guy that was at the aid station on my way out. This next section in past races has been slow for me and it shouldn't be because the running is technical, something I'm good at. Me and the guy that I had passed at the aid station ran through this section together with Ellie in view about 100m or so up the trail. We chatted and I found out the he was from Connecticut, he was loving what he was seeing and I gave him some inside info as to the course ahead. We finally caught up to Ellie just towards the second to last climb before the cross country ski runs. I quickly chatted with her and followed in behind as we were coming up to one of the most runnable sections of the course. Other than the mud and technical nature of the running it is almost all slightly downhill into Hollyburn Lodge aid station and the top of "The Chute". Now during our training run through this area Nicola was much braver than Jurgen and myself by foraging through the mud with no hesitation while Jurgen and I tip toed around the edges, I warned her that I had heard stories of people having there shoes ripped off by the suction of the mud. Well guess what! Not only a minute down the ski run, I step right in a mud patch and to my surprise my heel came out of my shoe. I thought maybe I could just cram it forward and it would go back in but no. So then I put my finger down the back and tried to stretch the shoe to get in, but that didn't work either. I stopped wasting time and removed my gaiter and untied the shoe and put it back on a lot more securely. Both Connecticut and Ellie were long ahead again so I put my head down and worked hard to go try and catch them. I caught Connecticut but still couldn't reel in Ellie. I ran conservatively down "The Chute" as I was already a ways ahead of schedule and still holding up well. I never saw anyone down this whole section except for marshals at all the key points. I even stopped to go #2 and no one passed me. I came into Cleveland Dam in 2hr 44min, my best case goal was for 2hr 55min...WOW.

Again this was a crew trade place and again all went smoothly except dropping one gel on the way out of the dam. Again I saw Ellie leaving this aid station as I came in.

I quickly started up Nancy Green Way where I was able to see 3 people out in front. Ellie was one of them and the other 2 I had no idea. I ran until the road steepened then walked until it lessened, repeat. Just before the entrance to the Grind I passed one of the 3 that I had seen at the start of the only road section on the course. I got to the top of the first climb, well under what it takes me going a moderate pace. Last year just as I crested to the flatter terrain my hamstrings cramped and I was worried this may happen again. I was now over halfway into this event and I have taken somewhere around 25 salt pills and at least 5 of those have been since leaving Cleveland Dam 20 min before. As I crested the log I was hoping for a green light and all I got was yellow. My hammie's weren't cramping but they were not fully opening up. I walk a little and then started into an easy run, trying to stay focused. Ellie was just ahead of me again. I made up time on the last big climb. The technical nature was slowing her down enough that even in my so so-ness, I still kept her in reach. I followed her all the way down into the Mosquito creek aid station where I had my only glitch of the day. At the aid station is where I had told my crew to meet me. They weren't there, had they stayed at Cleveland to long and missed me? I couldn't risk not having a new bladder full of water, so I stopped and filled it. I quickly descended to Mosquito Creek to start the next climb of the day when I was pleasantly surprised to find my crew here. I wasn't exactly nice but I apologized later. I grabbed my new bag and gels and took off again. Quickly I reeled Ellie back in and just tried to pace off her up the climb. Once we got to St. Georges bench the trail flattened some and Ellie put that couple hundred meters back into me again. Oh well! I moved along this section in solitude, it is very familiar terrain and I subconsciously know where to go without really having to think about it. I self talked throughout the flatter sections along this portion and made myself keep up my intensity. Eventually I descended into Mountain Hwy Aid station and again ran into Ellie. The good thing was I wasn't stopping at all so off we went again me following in her footsteps until she pulled up to get something out of her bag and off I went. A strange sensation came over me, something I felt the rest of the day. When I have run in the past, I have never looked over my shoulder but having passed the women, that should be competing with my girlfriend Nicola(who is a more talented runner than me), I felt scared. It wasn't until partway down Varley Trail that I sensed something from behind and looked over my right shoulder only to see nothing. When I turned my head back forward I had actually just been passed on the left! Again its like I would let her get ahead by 100-200m and then I would be like go get her. We headed up Varley, across Pipeline Bridge, up to the 3/4 mark, finally reaching the Gazebo aid station. Having done several winter sessions of hill repeats on this small climb I thought, come race day I will run this hill. Well today wasn't going to be that race and I walked up.

My stomach had been fine all day but only 'just fine', not amazing. I made the decision to switch to coke from here on out. I had pre-warned my crew that I might want it at the Gazebo so they had it all ready. What more could you ask for. I grabbed a fresh camelbak, new salt pills and a hand held bottle full of coke. Off I went.

I had nearly 2 hours to get from here to the end to break 6 hours so I was pretty confident I was going to succeed at the first goal I had set out for the day. Was that good enough? I thought. Then I realized, that even if I was the same pace as last year I would get really close to being sub 5 hr 50mins. So I put my head down and started running. Quickly I closed the gap on Ellie again only to sprain the shit out of my left ankle on one of the least technical parts of the run. I had to walk for what seemed like forever but was probably only 2-3 minutes. I finally started to run again and it felt better after a little while. I hit the next climb and hoped to see Ellie but with no such luck. I thought my chances of catching her were over. I had worked hard going up this climb and continued to walk for a little once on the flats at the top. I cruised up across Lillooet Road and dropped down onto the Seymour without seeing anyone. Amazing how you can be running a race and run 50% of it alone. Coming out of the Seymour River, I seemed to get a second wind and realized that I was getting really close to the end. I was about an hour away. I focused on drinking the coke, taking salt pills, and drinking the rest of my water in my camelbak. I knew my crew was just up ahead at Hyannis aid station. Again, I quickly grabbed a new camelbak and a new bottle of coke. I refused the gels as I had 2 with me and I was planning on all my calories coming from the Coke now. I quickly headed back into the forest for the last major climb of the day, "The Seymour Grind". Its really not that bad but it can be depending what part of 'mind hell' your in. It is a steep, technical climb that uses lots of major muscles groups and this is what causes me to cramp; especially when I have to start running again. I focused in on salt pill consumption with water and made sure I was drinking the coke. I never saw Ellie going up the grind but I kept looking back to make sure that no one was coming to get me, either. Once at the top of the Grind, I looked at my watch and I had over 40 minutes to break 5 hr 50 min barrier. Bring it on. I had the chance to have possibly the best finish I ever could have imagined. I wanted to leave as much out there as I could. I still ran a little conservatively at first but then as I got closer to the finish I went harder. Because of the intensity, I lost track of time and was just hoping to be under 5 hrs 50 minutes. Then I saw it. The clock had just past 5 hr 37 min 0sec. I cruised across the finish line in 5hr37min10sec. HOLY COW!!!!

Yes, I'm happy! It is nearly 2am and I am wired writing this. I needed to get it all out so hopefully I can sleep now.

Nutrition Facts

9liters of water
1.5liters of coke
~60 thermolyte



First and for most, I want to thank Nicola for being a great training partner. As fit as I was this year, I know she had the fitness to do amazing things this year. She has the ability to set new standards for girls on this course. I would also like to thank her and my sister Kathleen for volunteering as my crew. They assisted me in something that I was so excited for them to take part in. Thanks.

To all the others that raced and reached their personal goals congrats. I stayed at the finish line as long as I could handle. I hope all that got a beer came by for one and if not next year then for sure.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Climbing within a 3min commute and 15min approach

Since I started climbing at the age of 15, gasoline prices have soared. I remember when a trip to Squamish was only $7. Now it is closer to $13. This has forced me over the last bunch of years to explore climbing areas closer to home, urban climbing as some might say. The North Shore of Vancouver is loaded with climbable rock. Maybe it is a little mossy because of the rain forests that cover them. But once it becomes an established area known among the local scene the spot is good to go.

Here is the list of my local known climbing areas:

Lighthouse Park, Cypress Falls, Klouchman Park, Quarry Rock, Lynn Loop Boulders, Sully's Hangout, Lynn Creek Boulders, Seniors Center, Arbutus Grove, Crown Mountain.

Known, very quietly, on the local scene for the last couple of years was word of a climbing crag with a good variety of sport routes in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. This just happens to be my backyard and a spot that I run in all the time. So last fall on a dreary day, I was off to run Lynn Loop when it flashed on me that I should go see if I can find it from what I had heard in the local climbing gym. So off I swacked, knowing it was off too my right somewhere. Eventually I stumbled upon a trail, which ascend steeply until you just change aspects a little and the angle eased, and this great grey monster stares down on you through the trees from above.

The first time I viewed the crag I was impressed. Their happened to be two climbers climbing that day although they did not seem to be having too much fun as they were struggling with the damp conditions. I said my hellos, took a quick run back and forth along the base looking at all the routes that had been made and knew as soon as the sun of summer was back next year I would be climbing here.

While it is the start of summer now and I have been up to this location 4 times and it has been some of the most fun that I've had climbing. I meet a guy today that had a topo which I cant wait to get my hands on, the area is called

Sully's Hangout.

Crag left to right so far looks like this. Routes I have climbed that I know the names of will be labeled otherwise just by my grade estimates, "?" for routes unknown to me as of yet. I will fill in the "?" as I go.

5.8, ?, ?, Little Lulu 5.9, 3M 5.9, Lubo 5.11a, The Constant Gardner 5.11b/c, project, project, Speed Dial #8 5.11a, Shaking out the Lettuce 5.10D, Special K 5.11b/c, Hindu 2 Routes Var. 5.11b, Hindu 2 Routes 5.10d, My One Muscle 5.11a, Get Bent 5.11c, Wingman 5.11b, The Challenger project, Moss Pit 5.9/10a, Dynamic Duo 5.10b, French Connection 5.10d or 5.11a, Trekking to India 5.11b, In the Bubble 5.12b, Killer Bees project.

BIG thanks to Oliver for making me get up there and go climb. Also to my regular crew Nic, Ryan and G.

The topo is now available on search Sully's Hangout

Sunday, May 3, 2009

California May 2009 - My First 100km - Miwok 100km

Well, it's all over, and I'm lying in bed this morning not wanting to get up.

I had a goal of running sub-11 hours for my first 100 km trail race, and I succeeded. I knew before I even started that no matter how well I did, it was going to leave me feeling a lot older than the 31 years I turned today.

Nicola and I had applied to Miwok back in December and found out that we had gotten in while we were on our trip to Costa Rica in January. I was already a couple months into my base training for this year's running goal of completing my first 100 miles, and now I've run 20 km closer to this goal in one push than ever before. For the first time, I can really visualize completing that goal with the success that I feel this morning.

I know that for all of my races that I have done greater in distance than 50 km I have had the best crew that anyone could ask for. Over the last four years my family has supported my eccentric goal of ultra-running by making a family camping excursion to where ever the race is that I choose. This has included my parents and sisters with brother-in laws as well as kids in tow! It's pretty cool to be running for 5 hours and turn a corner in the middle of nowhere and have your own personal cheering section with 10 people that mean the world to you. Miwok was a little different as it is in the middle of the spring and a lot farther away than my other races, and yet, I still got a yes from my parents who flew in from Winnipeg to come crew me and Nic. They were amazing.

The race started at 5:40 am on Saturday May 2nd. It was pitch black when we arrived at the start/ check in area at Rodeo Lagoon. The sound of pounding waves gave away the presence of the ocean. We stood in line to check in before returning to the comfort of the car for a reprieve from the weather. I knew that no warm up was going to be necessary for this one as that's what I figured the first 30-40 km were for.

It was 5:35 when the parade of racers followed the RD down to the beach for the start of this epic journey. Given the darkness, it was hard to tell who anyone was. Nic and I still hadn't seen Jurgen so I started calling his name. Eventually, out of the crowd he came running towards us we shared hugs and best wishes and let Nic disappear to the front of the pack knowing that we would see her again on the out and back part of this race. Jurgen and I started off together as we have done in other races before.

Quickly the race began, and because of our position in the pack and the fact that the race goes into near single track in 300 ft, the racers all bottlenecked and we nearly stood still for a minute before we started a slow plod up the first of many hills to come. Shortly after this the course heads onto a two to three mile uphill road section. Jurgen and I started chatting and slowly working our way up the hills. At points I was working harder than I wanted to so I would just say, "we need to slow down a little" and we would. On this climb we saw something that you don't see everyday. As we cruised along this flatter spot a couple of deers that were obviously startled by all of the runners bolted across the road and one of them slipped, fell on its side, hopped back up and hit a telephone pole before getting it right and heading up the meadows above the road with its other friends. Crazy!!! Just as we crested the top of the climb, the fog lifted and the sky had now lightened enough to give us a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We turned onto a fire road and began the descent to the Bunker aid station. My fast estimate time to arrive here was 1 hr and I was bang on and feeling pretty good. I had warmed up nicely over the first hour and a bit, and removed my vest which I kept in my NSA jersey back pocket along with my toque. I had gotten on my nutrition plan early with a salt pill every 15 minutes and a gel every 20. Jurgen didn't need to stop at this station as he was carrying enough with him so he continued through while I filled my camelbak bladder back up. I was back in behind him only falling 10 seconds or so back which also proved to me that my methods were not going to be slowing me down much over the day.

Jurgen continued ahead for the next 15 minutes or so and in my head it played on me a little as I tried to catch up, but each time I pushed my HR climbed a little too high for this point in this long run so I just settled in until the next real climb started. This was where I closed the gap quickly and joined Jurgen and Hozumi who also is from Vancouver. We chatted and climbed up this next section, keeping each other on the route as several trails crossed our path and we needed to keep our heads up for the pink Montrail flagging that marked the way. As we continued to climb, the fire roads became more exposed to the elements, and I quickly threw my vest back on. This section was a combination of easy downhills with flats and small uphills, most of which I power-hiked. As we hit the plateau and began to drop into the Tennessee aid station, Jurgen and I started passing all kinds of runners on the descent. I quickly came into the aid station and was greeted by my Mom and Dad and they had my stuff all ready to go, passing me my other Camelbak, switching out gel wrappers for new full ones as well as a new course description and salt pills. I got to Tennessee Valley about 10 minutes slower than I had predicted but was still feeling good and wasn't worried.

Off to Muir Beach aid station I headed alone. Jurgen had to stop in at the outhouse for a #2 and I was running my own race so that would be the last I saw of him for the next four hours. The route out of Tennessee Valley headed out on a flat road that lead into another big uphill grunt, but finally, there was a reward at the top. An amazing view of the California coast laid in front of my eyes. The fog lifted enough to see the crashing waves and rocky shoreline all dotted by the beautiful colors of spring flowers. If this is all I was going to get to see this day it was well worth it. I soon passed a sign that said 1.7 miles to Muir Beach and the next aid station. I cruised along the rolling coast before eventually beginning the descent into Muir Beach. About 400m away from the aid station, I was greeted by my parents cheering, this was not a camelbak switch stop for me so I quickly said my hello's and asked about Nic and continued towards the aid station. As I cruised towards it on the nice flat trail I was greeted my Jurgen's wife and son, Ben. I let her know that Jurgie should be just behind me as I left him at the last aid station while he went to the washroom. I quickly ran into the aid station with my bladder open and ready to fill, I was in and out very quickly and on my way up the big climb of the day to Pan Toll.

I had already told myself that if I was feeling good this was somewhere that I should be able to make up some time on the course because of the 1600 ft of elevation gain to get to Pan Toll. The initial section cruised along Hwy 1 where my parents passed me on route to Nic and the Pan Toll aid station. I was feeling good and caught up to a cute lady that was moving very well. I just tucked in behind her and let her pull me along this flat section. She eventually slowed to eat a gel, and I passed her just before the start of the main climb about two miles into this leg. I quickly started passing people as I began this climb. I was just walking, but it was the perfect logging road grade that runners really seem to struggle walking on and for some reason I just eat it up. I fell in behind this one lady that was moving well and running much more of this climb than I was willing to. Even with her bursts of running, I would quickly catch her every time she would switch from a run to walk as the terrain steepened. We both spotted a bird in the big redwoods to our right; she quickly identified the bird and told me it was a rare wood pecker; I was in awe. Eventually I passed her and moved on catching three more people before the top of this climb. As it flattened out towards the top, I was running with this very tall man that had been in this area before on a 50 miler that exists on some of these same trails. He told me that we were only about a 1/4 mile away from the aid station. I was happy that was it. The climb wasn't that bad at all and the next section was a big net downhill. Yahoo! As I came into Pan Toll my parents quickly greeted me and had all my stuff laid out. I was possibly planning on changing my shoes at this point, so my parents had everything laid out perfectly. I had made my decision to change shoes at Tennessee as my right pinky was already a little irritated at that point. I was in and out of that pit stop in about 3 minutes with new outer socks, new shoes, a re-filled camelbak with gels and salt pills and a new route description. Off I headed for Bolina's Ridge aid station.

This next part was the only true out and back section on the course. For every step you make in one direction, you know you need to make on the return back. It played on my mind. Initially the running was engaging and technical in a covered forest, with creek crossings and everything. But eventually, this ended and opened up into to this unforgiving open meadow type terrain. The trail was no wider than a foot and the grass grew so tall that it covered your view of much of it. I moved along this section fairly well, catching people throughout and not getting passed. This plays well on the mind. The weather in this section was less than desirable and I felt for many of the people around me that were just in short sleeves and/or tank tops. I had on a fresh warm toque, arm warmers, gloves and vest. I eventually fell in behind this guy on the descent into Bolina's Ridge. He was from the Bay area and had done this race and others on these trails before. He told me that we were about 10-15 minutes out of Bolina's and that was a good thing to me as my camelbak was getting low on water. I quickly took a couple of salt pills with my final amounts of water and decided not to take any more gels till I get more water. By falling in behind this guy I was working fairly easily and felt good and not worried about my situation. I finally heard the crowd at the aid station and went past knowing that H2O was just about in my grasp.

This was a point that I learned one of my lessons for the day. In the future, when I run out of water, I need to stay at the aid station and take my gel while drinking their water.

What happened was that I quickly filled my bladder and headed out thinking that I would be at the next aid station relatively quickly, but again I had been deceived by the course altitude profile and the terrain over the next section required much more running than the downhill line on the profile had represented in my head. This was definitely the lowest point in my run and it wasn't even really that bad, as I knew at some point the leaders were going to be running back against me and that I would see Nicola. I continued to move along this section at an all right pace and better than those that were around me. I only caught people and wasn't caught by any others. When Nic and I finally crossed paths we were all alone on this nice logging road in this beautiful place. We embraced and smooched and wished each other well as we continued in our different directions. Nic let me know that the big descent is just ahead and at the bottom of it is the turn around. I put both headphones back in took a salt pill and a gel and began down the long steep downhill. Great music came through my buds, and I sang loudly as I descended, passing lots of runners heading back up the hill, some both running and walking. Eventually, I came to the race officials checking numbers and then 100 m further was greeted by my parents at Randall aid station which marked the turn around point of the out and back section. Forty km left I thought!!

I quickly grabbed my new camelbak and fuel, threw a spare shell into the bag as well for the return weather I did not to imagine being any nicer. I also grabbed my handheld bottle as I had nearly run out of water just getting to the Randall aid station and it was a net 800 Ft downhill. I was out and headed back up the hill quickly. I settled right into a good uphill hiking pace. Several runners went past me on the way down to the turn around. Two were a couple that I knew from home but had forgotten that they were doing this race and then finally was passed by Jurgen. I could see right away that he wasn't in a great place and the first words out of my mouth were, " just stay positive". We quickly wished each other well and headed off in opposite directions for now. I got to the top of the climb and felt great. Their was a steady stream of people coming towards me as I retraced my steps back to Bolina's aid station. I moved well along this section and ran much of it, except for the biggest of the hills. I passed several people along this section and it just kept me feeling better than ever before.

I soon hit Bolina's and was 10 minutes ahead of my fastest estimate for this section, sweet. I filled my bottle and bladder and headed out into the elements, Pan Toll, and the final 20 km. I was pretty much alone for this section. I would see people in front, catch them and pass them quickly, sharing a minimal exchange with most as we were all suffering in this spot. The wind was blowing straight into out faces on the return versus into our backs on the way out, and the rain had intensified. It reminded me of days of ski touring in a strong wind with lots of snow transport going on. It stung, the rain that is. Because of the wind, the rain was blowing sideways and right into my squinted eyes. I knew that if I just kept moving, eventually I would get back to the protection of the forested section just outside Pan Toll. I pushed at a steady pace and continued to pass people. I started to need to pee a lot over the last 2 hours and so I was needing to stop almost twice an hour to pee. But it can't be a bad thing I thought, my pee was clear so that meant I was well hydrated right? A couple of times I would pass someone and then need to stop a minute later to pee and they would pass me, but then I would get right back on their heels and make the move again.

Eventually, I got to the Pan Toll aid station and was greeted by my mom again. She was a little bit away from the aid station watching for me. She ran ahead to ready what I would need. This was when I realized that my crew had gained a member. Nicola was standing there in her shorts with her big black puffy jacket on. I asked why she was there and she said that her hip flexors were seized. I asked if she had had a lot of salt pills and water to which she answered, "yes". I told her that we would continue together. She seemed like I was the spark that she needed and was quickly looking around to get things ready to come with me. Again, I was in need of changing my shoes and socks so I sat and began my own process. Before I was done tying both shoes she had tried to run a little and decided that she didn't want to go on. I still pushed her but knew the final decision was essentially hers. She made it and sent me on my way.

At first I felt sad leaving, but then, excited as I realized that I was on target to run sub 11 hours. I quickly passed some people that had re passed me as I changed shoes and tried to get Nic to come with me. I felt great and this section was a long downhill return of most of what the biggest climb of the day had consisted of. I knew that several runners get lost in this section every year because of a hard left turn, but this year there was no way to miss it as chalk lined the ground and pointed the right direction. Again, the race went up, not steeply, but consistently. I fell into walking Peter mode and continued walking although I'm sure that I could have run easily. The main reason I didn't run was because the two ladies behind me that were jogging the whole thing weren't making a bit of distance on me as I continued to walk. Eventually the trail flattened and then headed downhill to the Hwy 1 aid station. I had switched the water in my hand held to coke at Pan Toll and was now taking less gels and relying on the straight sugar to get me home. As I left Hwy 1, I knew that I had about 12 km to the finish and the taste was getting sweeter.

The course followed more fire roads along this section, and they varied for the first while from slight uphill to flat. The winds on the western exposure of these roads were still intense. I decided to pace myself off of this bigger guy that I literally drafted off of to make it easier for me. Eventually, he began to walk when I still wanted to run, and I pushed ahead. This section was all out in the open and was on logging road styles of trails considering the inclement weather, there were many people out. I knew the finish was getting close so I still just kept pushing. From about two miles out of Tennessee Valley, I could see the aid station, and I began the long descent down to it. I continued to feel pretty good although the quads were definitely getting sore. I was still able to run downhill well and passed a couple of runners again on this downhill. Once I reached the bottom of it, I had to climb just slightly for about one km to gain the aid station. I talked to myself through this section and just kept a steady running pace. This particular aid station is around all day, as you travel through it twice, once on the way out and six km from the finish. I didn't want to jump the gun on the finish line, so I stopped and had the best volunteers tell me leave your stuff, tell me what you want and will run it up to you. So I handed over the handheld for more coke and the camelbak to get filled one last time. I was excited to be heading into the final stage.

From Tennessee to the finish, it was about 2 miles uphill, with another 2 miles down. This sounded good to me. So, after having the volunteers catch back up to me, I quickly began the next ascent. I could see two guys not far ahead of me up the hill, as well as another two further ahead. I quickly caught up to the two guys and realized that the one in front was a pacer. I fell into their rhythm for a little while before finally hitting a small downhill and passing them as I came into what looked like the steepest climb of the day. I could now see the other pair towards what I thought was the top of the last climb of the day. Before it rolled out into a downhill I had caught the two of them. I turned right and headed down an old roadway following the pink flagging. From this point I could see Rodeo Lagoon and knew that I was nearly there. I continued my descent on this road before the markers finally threw me onto a sweet, fun, technical trail, and I continued down towards the finish. As I reached the next logging road below the trail, I headed uphill one last time. In my mind I thinking, "why go up when you can just keep going down and get to the same place?" the other voice talked louder and got me to the top of which I now know to be the last climb. Finally, I saw a sign that said, “walk" and knew that from there it was all downhill. I didn't open it up too much; just kept 'er going. Eventually the tents of the finish came into view and the sounds of the spectators cheering became louder and louder. I knew that I was going to reach my goal and the emotions at this point all welled up inside. It was great to see Nic and my parents at the finish line. I did what I always do when I finish a long race like this; I just keep moving because the thought of finally stopping just doesn't seem right. So I walked and Nic came with me I was so emotional both for myself and for her, who I knew must have been disappointed. We chatted and I returned to the finish area after a couple of minutes. I quickly got my endurox from my Dad and sat for the first time of the day knowing that I was done.

We all sat around the finish for several hours cheering on finishers and chatting with the people that our paths had crossed over the day. I wanted to wait for Jurgen to finish and so that is what we did, we sat, chatted and waited. The day was finally over for us when he crossed the line a couple hours later.

Thanks to my training partner and girlfriend for her tremendous support over the months leading up to this race. It was an amazing adventure to share with her. I can't wait to crew her down there next year. I would also like to thank my parents who flew in to support the both of us. Their help was indispensable. They have always supported me in my sports, and I love them both for it.

There are many reasons that I succeeded on this day, but the main one that made it easier for me was the planning that I had put into it. My nutrition, for the first time in several years, was dialed, and I had no cramping or stomach issues. This was surprising given the fact that I ate about 31 gels, took over 90 salt pills, drank over 14 liters of water and survived the end with 1.5 liters of coke. My race plan worked, and I'm stoked to be done. Onto the next goal I guess, TransRockies.
Oh and by the way the 20000 feet of elevation change that they talk of for this race is wrong. My watch clocked it all in at around 27000ft. WOW!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

California March 2009 Way to Cool and Jtree Camp

A picture and brief story of my latest excursion. This was my 9th trip into California in the last 12 years and my 5th just to go to Joshua Tree National Monument.

It must be my favorite home away from home.

Nic keeping nutrition simple while we drive.

American races are just a little bigger show.

For a brief race description it was my fastest 50km so far in a time of 4:58.33 but I really didnt race a great race. Starting off a little fast paid its toll later on as did running out of water between aid stations because of a bad race plan. Lesson 1 and 2 learned and on to the next one.

JTree National Park an amazing playground and home base for us as we partook in a Level 1 coaching certification course over the first 3 days of our time in the park leaving us little extra time but we did still manage to get climbing and running over these days and once all was said and done with the course we got for some more climbing and adventuring run/hikes.

Like always a great trip with my travel companion. Love ya

What makes me tick

Short and sweet this first entry will be.


Its the sensation I get when I push my limits, I explore new realms, where my views of whats possible, get to expand.

The below pics will share some of the raw forms of where those sensations are currently being drawn from.