03 December 2010

Thanksgiving and the Return to the Front Range

This Thanksgiving Meg and I made a roadtrip out to Wisconsin with my parents, sister, and her husband to visit relatives in the land of beer, cheese, and brats. However this time it was the land of desserts! Thanksgiving and other Holidays are the time of year when I run less and eat more- especially regarding foods that I rarely enjoy during the rest of the year. Here's a small smattering of the guilty pleasures I indulged in that led to the gaining of a solid 5 lbs of muscle:

Multiple Dairy Queen Buster Bars, Mint Oreo Blizzard, Lots o' Pumpkin Pie, Lots o' Lemon Meringue Pie, Lots o' Apple Spice Cake, Multiple Manderfields Bakery of Appleton Persian Doughnuts, 1 Coca-Cola with REAL sugar- no HFCS for this guy! Multiple Taco Bell bean burritos that fueled the drive, my favorite post race breakfast meal- Biscuits and Gravy topped with 3 scrambled eggs and Cholula! The list goes on...needless to say fun was had by all!

When I wasn't eating I'd get out for 6-10 miles most days and explore some of the county parks that have great Nordic terrain once the snow accumulates. On Turkey day morn the Burch clan headed out for the local Turkey Trot in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Coming into the race I wanted to run hard and have fun, not knowing at which mile my fast twitch muscle fibers might kick in. It had been awhile since the turnover has been running around 6 min/mile pace.

I started out conservative clocking the first mile in 6:20. The body felt good and I didn't feel any lactate build up so I began to pick up the pace. Around mile 2 I slipped into 3rd on an icy patch but managed to stay upright. For the next 1.5 miles the course was blanketed by a cush 1'' layer of snow atop a bike path. I passed 2nd during a descent out of the park around mile 3. The last two miles I continued to increase the pace and finished 2nd in 30:32. First place ran a strong 29:43. For my effort I won a 20 lb turkey to assist with my tryptophan induced food coma that would occur later that day.

Back at the house I went online to see the official results. My timing chip failed me! There was no indication that I started, finished, or was even at the race! How I love technology! Overall it was a fun time. I may even run a handful of shorter road races for 2011...can't believe I just said that! Most things go full circle in life...

Speaking of which, Meg and I are returning to Fort Collins for 2011! After we returned from Wisconsin we blitzkrieged to find housing and we move in January 1. Meg will start a grad program and I will continue the quest to find sustainable income and a "career." I will miss the Drums, Callahans, and Parrs of the world and the frequent summits of Signal. Upon my return I will be doing some recon work on my runs to find a lesser Signal in Fort Collins. This will probably be some obscure high point on one of the foothills ridges since I will be starting from the doorstep with a 2.5 mile paved warmup before hitting the dirt. Also looking forward to reconnecting with the Clarks, Hansons, Godings, and Joneses of the world. Enjoy your holiday season and here's to 2011!

09 November 2010

Ozark Trail 102...Consistent?



The legs met the brambles...pic taken after 3 days of healing!

Here's the short of it- 21:49:02, 4th. Solid 70 miles; slow 32 miles. Led for 73 of the first 74 miles.

Now the long of it- Overall a fun-filled road trip with my dad. We left for MO on Thursday and drove 825 miles to St. James. That night I put in my last run before the race- 4.2 miles on the hotel treadmill; felt good after 12+ hours of sitting. On Friday we did some recon work scouting out the various crew access points along the course. That afternoon we checked in at race headquarters and pitched the tent on the grounds of Bass River Resort. During the prerace meal I looked around and realized this had to be the first race in years where I did not know any of the runners or race staff...many of the inaugural finishers wished this years first timers "good luck" with a fair amount of sarcasm and chuckle in their voices. There were a number of stories of runners getting off course last year...just what I needed to hear after my experience in July. If there is anything I want from a race it is a well marked course.

Got into the sleeping bag around 8 PM. The overnight low was a brisk 20 degrees! Woke up at 3 AM promptly filled my bottle and grabbed a seat on the shuttle bus that would take us to the start. The bus got off course and we arrived at the start line 15 minutes before the 6 AM start. I got in the much needed "movement," shed my warm ups and got ready for the task at hand. Before the gun Ben Creehan introduced himself and I got a few more course related questions answered...the toughest part was to stay on track during the first 17. Two years ago there were 90 MPH winds that ripped through this section of forest. It basically looks like the area was bombed. The wind uprooted 100's of trees leaving behind root ball holes that were anywhere from 1-5 feet deep depending on the size of the tree. This area also had significant amounts of overgrowth due to an especially wet summer. Another race in the area earlier this year had to be rerouted because the overgrowth was impassable without brush cutters! We were told the area had been cleared...it had...and yet many "treats" awaited us. You gotta be tougher to run trails!

The other factor on this course was the LEAVES. I have never before run through so many millions of LEAVES! The trail was covered by 4+ inches of leaves. Since you couldn't see the trail floor each step had to be more conservative than usual. You didn't know if there was going to be roots, rocks, branches, small animals, or other obstacles to massage your feet and toes with each foot fall. After each foot plant I noticed I also had to lift my foot more than usual to clear any of the obstacles I couldn't see. This terrain shortened my stride and made it difficult to stride out and run confidently fast. Needless to say I hit the deck 3 or 4 times.

The race started in the predawn darkness and we began our trek on the Ozark Trail. I briefly chatted with Ben C and Kyle Gibbs in the opening mile. The pace was relaxed so I decided to take the lead. It felt awesome to run more than 6500 feet lower and breathe the thickly oxygenated air. This was the lowest race I have run- I think the high point was under 1500 ft. I got into a rhythm with the crunch crunch of every 2 dry leafed steps. It was neat to see how the trail resembled a dark corridor. Even though you couldn't see the trail it was visible to follow by the opening of the trees. After about 1:15 I turned off the headlamp. Soon after the leg shredding session with the infamous brambles began. My legs played a crucial role in clearing the trail for the runners behind me. By far it is the most cuts and scratches I've encountered on any stretch of trail or non-trail for that matter. At the Sutton Bluff Aid (17.6) Ben took the lead for the next mile as I took longer to fuel up.

I truly felt that this was the day I would run sub 20 or better for 100 miles. Legs felt great, breathing was relaxed- I believed it was coming together. Saw my dad for the first time at Brooks Creek (43.5) and motored on through. My 51 mile split at HWY DD was a comfortable 8:26. Things were going according to plan- I thought the CR of 18:38 was definitely within reach. At Martin Road (59.2) I was beginning to slow. No worries; still running solid. Coming into Hazel Creek (68.5) I continued the regression. Side note- this AS rocked! PoDog Vogler the AS Captain went above and beyond the call of duty. He ran a 1/2 mile back and asked me what I needed before I got into the AS. He took my instructions and empty bottle and sped back. I came into the AS with a full bottle awaiting and my fuel selection ready to go- thanks a ton! It was awesome! At this point I was sick of the sweet. Gels, Bloks, Coke, Cookies, I needed a reprieve. I turned a few heads as I put down a Miller Lite. Non-sweet, quick carbs, the change was great. I also got some beef jerky and soup before heading out.

A few miles later the headlamp came out. I was now running really slow but still running. My 70 mile curse was beginning to whisper in my ear. I had the feeling it was going to get ugly. Around mile 74 Ben C and pacer passed me up and looked strong- it looked like he could get the record. Coming into Machell Hollow AS (76.1) I was at 14 hours. Sub 20 was still more than possible...however the carnage hadn't begun. 26 miles to go...6 hours to do it...

By mile 81.5 (Berryman Campground AS) I knew there wasn't much run left in me. It was good to have the encouragement of my dad and AS people- I did my best to stay positive despite the fact the next 21 were going to be ultra slow! I fueled up on french toast, sparkling water and began the inevitable Death March.

At 88 (Billy's Branch AS) the temp began to drop into the mid 30's. Since I was hardly running it was tough to stay warm and I would "run" a bit to warm myself. At this station I stayed about 20 minutes to refuel and rewarm with grilled cheese, chicken noodle soup and hot chocolate. I needed to get my money's worth! Around mile 93 Kyle Gibbs and pacer passed me looking smooth. I somehow managed to "run" 88-95 in 1:30 and couldn't believe I had made it to the last AS at Henpeck Hollow so "quickly." 7 miles to go. One last pep talk from my crew of one. I was going to finish- I didn't drive 800+ miles for a DNF. My dad has also put in an A effort in crewing and race preparation for me...and there is honor in finishing...no matter the result.

The final 7 took me 2:13. Tommy Doias passed me around mile 96 running fast and strong as I hobbled along. I walked across the line in 21:49:02 and received my buckle from RD Paul Schoenlaub. Got it done. It was ugly.

Here's an organized visual of the destruction:

51- 8:26
76- 14:00
102- 21:49

1st 51- 8:26
2nd 51-13:23

What can I say? I am CONSISTENT! In the 5 100's I have finished I have gotten my butt kicked in the second half of every one of them! All 5 including my PR have had VERY lopsided halves. They show a tale of two races. This distance continues to befuddle me. All I can do is improve, that is the positive and I'm resilient to a thorough butt kicking- I have experienced the lowest of lows... and returned!

Towards the end of each year I get very ambitious for planning the upcoming race year. This year was no exception. Before MO I was toying with giving the Grand Slam a go for 2011. Nope. This grasshopper needs extra wisdom, experience, and training for the 100 milers. Humbled once again. Mentally it seems so easy to put 4 100 milers on the schedule. After I finish one reality comes crashing back and I realign my thinking. With that said I am looking forward to Western States and Leadville for 2011. If I mention anymore please give me a gentle slap and say, "Patience grasshopper!"

Finally, a look at how the podium runners improved from last years times. Great job guys, thanks for tips on the course! BTW I ran all 102 miles clean. No getting off course on this one!

1st- Ben Creehan 19:32 (22:59, 2nd in 09)
2nd- Kyle Gibbs 20:52 (24:12, 6th in 09)
3rd- Tommy Doias 21:03 (25:39, 8th in 09)

26 October 2010

Of Famous Authors and Fictional Characters

As Pedatella aptly predicted I will be heading to Missouri for the Ozark Trail 100 on Nov. 6th. The race takes place in the Mark Twain National Forest and is a point to point run on the Ozark Trail featuring 12-15000 feet of climbing. In its inaugural year Jeff Browning took the crown in 18:38. My goal is to run sub 20 and anything faster will be extra gravy. 100's are still the mystery race for me...and it is a mystery I want to solve with each one I run. My PR for the distance at Leadville 09 of 20:51 encourages me that there are faster times to come. In less than two weeks I get to put myself to the test, this time with no pacers...

My dad and I are roadtripping to the race and he will captain the bare bones crew. It will be awesome to see him at various spots along the trail. This will be my first pacerless 100 and I'm looking forward to the added challenge to run Meltzer-style. With about 11 hours from sunrise to sunset this race will add a longer bout of night running compared to other 100's.

Since Steamboat I've had some solid training. I put a 22 day streak under my belt with 20 of those days being in the double digits (I'm not much of a streaker and this is a new record for me!) with a long run of 42 at the Grand Canyon R2R2R a few weeks ago. BTW...the Grand Canyon trip was a ton of fun! It was great to run with and spend some quality time with Doug, Duncan, Scott and our adventure seeking wives. It was a special night after the run eating food, drinking sparkling water, listening to Kir play the guitar and lounging around the campfire...This run also hit me with the realization of how small the Ultra community is as I ran into Eric Lee and JZ from the Fort Collins Trail Running Crew....small world! Clark, next time you'll have to make it happen!

This past week I also got signed up for Western States! I have officially entered and paid my $370. I guess it costs more to race in California...it is by far the most coin I've put down for a race...time to train hard and get my money's worth! Running the Ozark Trail 100 will be another race to build experience at this humbling distance. Each time I think about Missouri or read about the Mark Twain Nat'l Forest I daydream about the fictional characters of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn running the trails....until then...

20 October 2010

The Staple- Statistics & Signal Peak: 100 Summits!!!

Pics from #100






The Staple- Statistics & Signal Peak: 100 Summits atop the Source @ 9042 feet

Signal Peak was my introduction to running when Meg and I moved to Gunnison in the middle of January this year. As I explored the trails above Western State College I noticed a pyramidal point looming to the Northeast. I followed the ridge by eyesight and knew I had to run it. After a few more runs in and around the area I asked DC about this point.

He grinned and said, “Oh yes, that is Signal Peak!” The point had a name and was a semi-regular run for DC in previous years. Soon after we began to run it with more and more frequency. It was the beginning of February and the route had been hardpacked by some sort of ATV that substantially assisted with obtaining some of the winter summits.

Our runs would start at 6 AM and we would ascend with the rising sun in subzero temperatures. On one of these dry and cold mornings we had been updating each other with the latest news from the ultrarunning blogosphere. We had both recently read about Tony K and his quest to run Green Mtn in Boulder 100 times in the first 100 days of 2010. This sparked some thinking of our own to piggyback off of the idea and create or own type of ascent goal in the Gunnison Country.

Being a Libra I have a natural tendency to gravitate towards balance and moderation in my life; I was also coming off a bout of achilles tendonitis- I knew I wouldn’t be running Signal Peak day after day. Besides, I had just moved to Gunni and had tons of new trails and terrain to explore. Parr also gave me a list of 60 or so named runs in the Gunnison valley that I had to begin to tick off with him and other Gunni runners.

After more discussion DC and I set the goal of running Signal Peak at least 100 times in 2010. Two weeks ago DC notched his 100th summit to become the first person in the history of Gunnison County to run 100 Signals in a calendar year. The following is a compilation of the NUMBERS that have accumulated during my 100 summits which I completed on October 19th, 2010 to coincide with DC’s 28th B-Day. Happy Birthday Duncan; here’s to 200 in 2011...

Summits: 100 in 38 weeks = 2.6 summits a week

Miles: 1,195.7 = 11.957 miles per summit run

Vertical: 150,000 feet

Most summits in 1 week: 6 (twice) 9/6 thru 9/12, #’s 77-82, 9/27 thru 10/3, #’s 86-91

Most consecutive summits: 8 4/2 thru 4/9, #’s 20-27

Most Signal miles in 1 week: 82.7 9/6 thru 9/12, #’s 77-82

Shortest summit: 9.6 miles (multiple times)

Longest summit: 20 miles, 5/8, #39

Earliest Summit: 5:40 AM (multiple times due to 4:45 AM start time :)

Latest Summit: 8:50 PM, 5/29, #47

Yearly Progress:

#1- 2/5
#11- 2/25 SNOWSHOE SUMMIT
#25- 4/7
#50- 6/3
#75- 9/2
#92- 10/5 MY B-DAY
#100- 10/19 DC B-DAY

Monthly Summits:

Jan- 0
Feb- 11 #’s 1-11
Mar- 8 #’s 12-19
Apr- 15 #’s 20-34
May- 13 #’s 35-47
Jun- 14 #’s 48-61
Jul- 8 #’s 62-69
Aug- 5 #’s 70-74
Sep- 15 #’s 75-89
Oct- 11 #’s 90-100 (thru 10/19)

5 or more summits in 1 week:

2/15 thru 2/21, #’s 6-10 = 5
3/29 thru 4/4, #’s 18-22 = 5
4/5 thru 4/11, #’s 23-27 = 5
5/3 thru 5/9, #’s 35-39 = 5
9/6 thru 9/12, #’s 77-82 = 6
9/27 thru 10/3, #’s 86-91 = 6
10/4 thru 10/10, #’s 92-96 = 5

0 summit weeks :(

3/8 thru 3/14, Excuse: too much snow didn’t want to deal!
7/26 thru 8/1, Excuse: GM 100 Recovery
8/2 thru 8/8, Excuse: Left knee issues
8/16 thru 8/22, Excuse: Left knee issues
9/20 thru 9/26, Excuse: Easy week after Steamboat 50

Runners I’ve peaked with: (from most summit trips to least)

Duncan Callahan
Scott Drum
Tim Parr
Ben Dunn

Current counts: (As a group of 4 our goal is to hit 365 summits for 2010)

DC- 105
Burch- 100
Parr- 44
Drum- 24
Total: 273

In summation: Signal Peak represents consistency, strength, perseverance, and a yearly commitment to experience the Peak in all conditions throughout the 4 seasons the Gunnison Country will bring. Annual training goals assist in motivation through the tough training during the winter months.

With each day and each summit Signal is quietly gaining cult status here in Gunnison amongst other runners and athletes. If you come to town it is a must run...it should be your first! Rural legend has it that a WATCHMAN now observes all atop Signal Peak. Introduce yourself; the trip could blow your mind..........................................................

14 October 2010

Tis Grand!

Quick update...6 hours until the Grand Canyon R2R2R road trip begins! Can't wait to soak in some AZ sun with friends and family and then catch some inspiring views as we dip below the rim. This will be the second R2R2R trip for me- the first came in 2006 when Doug and I were ultra rookies and living the bachelor life as roommates. Now we've got some ultra experience and both married...how time flies! This year it will be the Callahan, Drum, Newton, and Burch families making the voyage with a possible Parr sighting sometime during the weekend. More to come upon return. Also, I am keeping the 2010 race season alive! I just registered for another 100 Miler! And lastly, the 100 Signal Summits for 2010 is just around the corner! What an epic year with more to come! I can't believe my morning runs have already dipped into the mid 20's! (and still rockin' the shorts!) Old Man Winter has begun to bring his cold to Gunnison!

29 September 2010

Steamboat 50: Fast Enough...

As the title implies my run at the 4th Annual Run Rabbit Run Steamboat 50 was just that- fast enough. Going into the race I did not set a time goal because of the knee issue and lack of usual training going into the race. The goal was to try and nab one of the spots to run at Western States next year. Goal accomplished!

Friday morning before the race I did an easy 3 mile shakeout jog. My knee hurt. It hurt more on this simple run than all of my previous runs in the last 10 days! Needless to say I was a bit worried wondering how Saturday might pan out. Not much confidence going into the race. Here's the kicker- the knee was not an issue! Sometimes I do not understand how the body can suddenly turn 180 and give me something to work with come race day. 50 miles...running...no knee problems...I said RUNNING 50 MILES!...I don't get it but am thankful for it.

The race started out very quietly. A group of five separated from the rest of the pack on the initial 10K 3500 ft. climb to the top of the ski hill. Myself, Roes, Fanselow, Bowman, and Jeremy Duncan quietly climbed. It seemed way too serious for me so I broke the ice... can't remember what I said to who but everyone began to chat with each other. At first we were all individuals working on our own power up the hill. Once the talk began it seemed like we moved as a team and it made the climb much more fun and enjoyable. All of a sudden we were at the top.

Roes and I went quickly through the aid station and hit the downhill singletrack. I hadn't felt the knee so I gave it its first test of the day. I bombed past Roes (did I just say that! :) around 6.5 miles and ran free for the first time since 07/04/2010. It felt great to open it up on the winding rocky ribbon of trail. This is one of my favorite feelings while running: effortless and fast through beautiful terrain.

I held the lead until shortly after the AS at mile 22. This is where my lack of usual training just decided to smack me in the face. At mile 22 you begin a 3 mile climb to the base of the Rabbit Ears and then make the turn back home. Within 1/2 mile of this climb my legs went to LEAD! Roes stayed consistent and gapped me by about 20 seconds. Shortly thereafter Fanselow effortlessly slid by. I continued my uphill march and hit the turnaround shockingly 1 minute faster than last years effort.
From mile 22-50 I was one gear McGee. No power. No explosiveness. No surges. Plain old one gear McGee. I kept wondering how many people were going to float by me during the second half. The legs were LEAD. I only had hope that I was moving fast enough. At 37 I was 6 minutes off my split from the previous year. Apparently Roes had only a 30 second cushion on Fanselow at this point...and then opened it up to put about 9 minutes on him in the final 13...crazy! At 44 I was 9 minutes off last year. With 6 to go it was Western States or bust... I chose to run the final miles smooth. I had no intention of aggravating the knee unless I absolutely had to. The strategy was simple: run it smooth, after each switchback look uphill for other runners, repeat, run like hell if you get a visual! To amuse myself I would throw up the "west coast" hand signal Tupac Shakur style as a reminder of what I was running for. For some reason this cracked me up numerous times...I almost "threw it up" as I crossed the finishline...but no one there would have understood my inside joke....I may have forgot to mention...the bulk of my youth was spent growing up in Greeley...thus the wide spectrum of music I have listened to.

Fred Abramowitz and the race committee do a wonderful job with this race! It is rare to find an RD who goes above and beyond to keep the race winners returning each year. A comped entry and 2 night stay in a ResortQuest condo is huge! I am truly grateful. Just another perk to run hard...Geoff, you are in for a treat, congrats out there on a day when you weren't 100%

Congrats to the Professor, Scott Drum! Scott did amazing at his first 50 at age 40. 6th overall...sub 8:15 AWESOME! He's got the ULTRA itch now!

The postrace was another treat. So good to refuel and meet a ton of wonderful people! Awesome to see the support of Jenna's family and friends who are such a huge part of this race. Her legacy continues through the lives she has touched!

Finally, a few random tidbits...

I love the polarity of caloric consumption pre and post race. Pre Race: 1 banana, 1 granola bar. During race: 5 gels, 2-4 cups of coke at most AS. Post race: 10 pieces of pizza, 2 beers, 2 cans carbonated water, 1 liter iced tea, 1 odwalla, 1 cookie...

You know you are a dirtbag UltraRunner when...the condo you stay in for the race has more square footage than your current residence.

You know you are a dirtbag UltraRunner when... breakfast, lunch, and dinner is what you consume at Aid stations and the post race party.

You know you are a dirtbag UltraRunner when...you are finishing this post outside of the public library after it has closed because you can still get the signal.

13 September 2010

Rockin' Da 'Boat!!!

The Run Rabbit Run Steamboat 50 is this Saturday! It should be a good one- I'll give it what I got. The knee is at 85% and holding-good enough to race on. I'm testing out the Burch 3 week training plan on this one. The 5 weeks after GM were 4,18,0,19, and 31 miles...just trying to run somewhat pain free. The last two have been 68 and 82 leaving this week to add a few miles before the race.

Last weekend I able to check off Kit Carson and Challenger Pt #'s 44-45 on my 14ers list with the Professor (Scott Drum). It was a solid 14 mile 5 hr outing with over 6000 ft of climbing in the first 8 miles. The last two miles to the summit were at a 27% grade! Needless to say it was a run/hike workout consisting of 10 miles running and 4 hiking/scrambling to the summits. Another beautiful day in the CO Mtns.

This past weekend I was able to get in a 15 and 17 miler on different routes up Signal Peak bringing my total to 82 for the year...18 minimum to go! The 17 miler was the longest run since GM 100.

What does all this mean? And I'm optimistic :)

* I will not be overtrained come race day
* I will be pulling out the Experience and Defending Champ from my deck of cards
* After seeing Scott Jaime's blog a few weeks ago I decided to grow out the beard- 6.5 weeks growth should equal at least 13 minutes faster than last year.
* I'm predicting Roes for the W at 6:57!
* It will be a battle for the remaining auto entry into States! ...I really hope the knee lets me run free...!

Finally, look out for the Professor as he makes his 50 mile debut at 40 years young. He should be in the mix with Fanselow and Belshaw for the Masters Title!
It will be fun

PS Finally, Remember Jenna Gruben-Morrill this day as she was the Heart and Soul of RRR coordinating volunteers and so much more! Take a moment to reflect before your runs/races on Saturday to send out some positive energy to Jenna, those close to her, and the people that are close to your life. See you in da Boat!

23 August 2010

Time off... and CONGRATS!

Currently I've been taking some time off. I've been dealing with a left knee issue that has been plaguing me at different pain amounts since the Leadville marathon. It was low enough pain to pace at Hardrock and have a decent performance at Grand Mesa. Since the 100 I've ran 6-7 times topping out with a 12 miler. I've been compensating with my right leg and can definitely feel the herky jerky imbalance. Thankfully I can bike and hike (mostly pain free) so Meg and I have been ticking off more 14ers together which has been a fun substitute to inspire me when I'm in the non-running phase. Obviously I was in no place to race at Pikes Peak which was a huge bummer as I was excited to let it fly downhill for 13 miles...downhill hurts the most right now!

With the weekend open Meg and I climbed San Luis peak and then drove to Leadville to watch and encourage our friends who were racing. It was a blast to watch the race unfold over the last 30 miles.

HUGE CONGRATS to Duncan Callahan! He continued the Gunnison winning streak over the past 3 years at Leadville and had a PR to boot! At Mayqueen he had the most intense game face on ever- it was epic! Well deserved- he puts in the time and miles as well as anyone.

HUGE CONGRATS to Dylan Bowman! He showed up to his first 100 miler and killed it! Awesome job! Watch out for him as he is a young gun that has been improving with each race. Look for him next at the Steamboat 50.

HUGE CONGRATS to one of my best friends Doug Newton who had a huge 2 hour PR! This came after he was one of the few inaugural finishers at the epic Swan Crest 100 only 3 weeks ago! Great job homey!

With that said I'm really hoping to be healthy for Steamboat. I simply want to be at the start line not thinking about my knee. It is shaping up to be quite the race with Roes, Bowman, Fanselow, and others getting in the mix! Keep on keepin' on....

04 August 2010

My Grand Mesa Adventure...Part Two

After leaving Anderson Lake AS and having a new race goal Duncan and I made our way to Carson Lake. This was the first segment in which we busted out the headlamps. DC had an ULTRA powerful prototype from Black Diamond that was awesome! It definitely helped having two lights to find the way in the darkness. The race used pieces of aluminum with 3M reflective tape attached to the metal. These worked awesome...when they were standing up on the poles that were pushed into the ground. There were times when we would light up 3 or 4 at a time and then it would turn into the big black void where we would have to run and scan in different directions before lighting another one up. At one point we were running cross country through vegetation that was up to our waists! This part of the race was surely my HIGH for the day. All I remember is laughing hysterically with Duncan about who knows what for what seemed like an hour. It was one of the most memorable moments of running in 2010- just having a blast!!! As we approached the AS I heard music. I told DC that this would be the AS where I could obtain and empty my cold carbonated unsweet drink!
As we rolled in they asked the prerequisite, "What do you need?" After answering, the AS crew looked a little hesitant. Then, Andrew appeared and handed me just what I needed. In less than a minute I drank the most refreshing cold carbonated unsweet beverage ever! I think it shocked everyone their including my wife, and AC/DC! The great part of it all is that when you are in a calorie deficit your body just soaks it all up without any of the side effects. It hit the spot!

From Carson Lake to Flowing Park miles 80-87 ish I ran great. It surprised me how well I was running this deep into a 100 miler. Was it due to my new fueling strategy? After a quick stop at Flowing Park we headed off the earth descending the Drop Off Trail. The name says it all. This descent required more of a walk because of the gradient, rocky terrain, and darkness. At the bottom I began to hit my race LOW. For the past hour I couldn't drink, couldn't eat, and began to feel like junk. Its funny how lack of calories, water,and electrolyte imbalances can wreck havoc on your mind and emotions. I turned into Negative Nancy! Duncan was a trooper to put up with me the last 12 ish miles. I knew I needed to stay positive...yet everything around me was difficult, uncomfortable, and exaggerated. I would kick the crap out of a rock and wonder if my big toe nail was still attached. Then I would catch a toe and introduce myself to the earth horizontally. All the while angrily yelling the FUN word. For some reason it made me feel better to say it, like I was winning the battle each time I got up and kept moving. In a nutshell it was an UGLY finish.
I kept thinking I was going to get passed at any moment- I was crawling!

With a mile to go I knew DC and I had done it. We trotted in the last 400M and crossed the finish line with RD Phil, Annie, and my wife cheering next to a small fire. Minutes thereafter RD Phil asked if DC and I wanted to toast with a cold carbonated unsweet beverage. It was just before 5AM...what do you think we did?

03 August 2010

My Grand Mesa Adventure...Finally!

Let me start off by saying that the GM 100 is a MUCH harder course than Pbville. On paper it deceives you- only 11,000 ft of climbing over 100 miles. Coming into the race I wanted to go sub 20 hours and realistically felt that 17 or 18 something was within reach given the course profile and stats. Boy was I wrong! I was hoping that this race would be my break out 100 miler and put a fast time under my belt and gain more needed experience at this humbling distance.

Since the Pbville marathon my body has been going downhill...metaphorically. After the race I acquired a tweak in my left knee that doesn't hurt enough to stop running yet always reminds me that I'm slightly favoring it. The dull ache of pain that doesn't allow me to run free... Pacing at Hardrock was awesome! And those 28 miles obviously didn't help the knee situation. So going into GM I was slightly beat up! I took advantage of the taper and only ran 27 miles before the Long Haul. I really hoped the knee would hold... it did... and I am still beat up...I'm hoping to arrive at Pikes HEALTHY even if I'm not as fit as I'd like; I just want to run free!

Back to the race. GM starts out with an 11 mile loop of the Crag Crest trail! This section is money! On the lower sections there is soft pine needle cushioned single track that ascends to the aptly named Crag Crest which is rocky, narrow, and drops off steeply to both sides...fun ridge running, Hardrockesque.

After the loop you follow a rocky forest service road to the aid at Granby Lakes. For the first 37 miles I got to run with Jon Allen and Zeke Tiernan who were racing the 50 miler. Granby lakes was the first place we stopped and grouped together to debate our direction of travel. After a few minutes we were back on course. The forest service road continues into the aid at Flowing Park, mile 22. Here I got to see my fabulous crew: AC/DC! Duncan trotted with me a few moments and gave me the encouraging pep talk...my legs had been aching the WHOLE day...after a while the ache just turned somewhat numb and the pain sensation subsided enough to where I didn't think too much about it.

Leaving Flowing Park you then do a 15 mile loop to return for the second time at Flowing Park mile 37. This section is relatively flat which runs near the edge of the mesa. Great views looking off the Mesa! Half way through the loop you stop for aid at Indian Point. A HUGE thank you to the women who rode 7 miles on horseback with TONS of water to stock this stop! A much needed oasis to say the least.

Upon returning to Flowing Park the 50 milers head out via the drop off trail for their last 13. The 100 milers continue to Carson Lake. This is where I got off course for the first time significantly and lost about 20 minutes. Leaving the aid station I was told to follow the dam and then take a hard left. After taking the hard left I ran about 5 minutes w/o seeing a marker so I then returned to the dam where I ran back and forth across the dam a few times trying to see possible routes/markers. A family of cowboys were driving a head of cattle near my 1st exploration point. I then ran over and asked where to find Carson Lake. The 11 year old wrangler told me to follow the road another half mile and then turn left. I was back in the game!

After the aid at Carson Lake it is an 8.5 mile descent into the inferno known as Kannah Creek. You drop 4500 ft and arrive in the sweltering heat of 6200? ft. They told me it was 97 degrees at Kannah! The descent was hot yet fun. Parts of the singletrack are super narrow with vegetation engulfing you. At times I felt like I was in the jungle. I intentionally stocked up on food and water. Kannah was the 50 mile point, I arrived in 8:40 approximately.

GM is the tale of two races. The first 50 was MUCH easier than the second. I knew this going into the race but didn't fully comprehend it until later :) So the second 50 miles begins with a 5.5 mile 4500 ft climb back to the top of the mesa. This section nearly took me 2 hours. I ran out of water 30 minutes before I reached the top...and I was NURSING my two bottles, I could have easily drank 5 no problem! At the top I was relieved to see Duncan and knew I would have company for the remaining 45-55 miles! After drinking about 48 oz of water and balancing the electrolytes we trotted down the paved section to lands end road aid station. Here I put down some big cals and we trotted down the forest road to Anderson Lake.

From Anderson Lake to Mesa Lake I ran like a champ getting in the groove on some sweet downhill forested singletrack! It felt awesome to stride out and feel like I was running again. From Mesa lake we plugged on and somehow missed our turn back to Anderson Lake. Duncan and I ended up on the highway! When in doubt go higher... we then followed the ascending highway. We debated on whether to try to find the missed turn or go cross country style. With this error we probably added 2 miles or so. We then struck out cross country style, without a compass we shot a human bearing and said " I think the lake is this way" and pointed our arms in the general direction. Holy cow! Within about 1/2 mile we intersected our missed turn. Back to Anderson lake the route was cross country and the sun was beginning to set. Night navigation had to be tricky for anyone going through here in the dark.

At Anderson Lake the AS personnel told us to wait a few minutes. Apparently at the time no one was manning the Carson Lake Aid station which was our next destination and they were thinking of possibly ending the race. After refueling we got confirmation to continue! The race was back on! At this point I was sick of drinking water and sugary drinks. My new goal in the race was to obtain and empty something cold, carbonated, and unsweet. The chase was on!

To be continued...

08 July 2010

Quick update...

Heading out to Hardrock tomorrow with Senor Clark to pace Pedatella! I'm definitely excited to return and see more of the course that I missed out on from last year. 100 milers are Pedatellas best distance...keep an eye on him! I'm pacing from Ouray to Sherman and then Clark takes him home!

Next week I'll get my act together and post stories from SJS and Pbville Marathon...takes a little extra with no ISP!

Getting pumped for the 1st Annual Grand Mesa 100 on July 24! Hoping to finish somewhere in the teens...could be 19...some friends think 16...100's are still a mystery to me but the pieces are coming together with each one I do. The mindset is great...I am pumped to run 100! Last year was a different story...Grand Mesa is 76% singletrack and it will be all new terrain for me in an area of the state that I have yet to explore. Here's to new adventures!

12 June 2010

Since Jemez...Lake City on the Horizon

Well, the last few weeks have flown by! As I look back at Jemez I couldn't have asked for a better race. I brought the "A" game, Sr. Clark brought the "A+" game. I had a ball bombing the descents- I feel like a kid in a candy store when the angle steepens and the terrain is technical. Nothing more fun than thin singletrack for 50 miles. Jemez was also the fizzled end to the Burch vs. Clark race series for 2010 with Clark sweeping it 3-0. Dinner is on me! I had hoped this would have gone the distance with us battling it out to the final race... Pikes Peak will be the "goose egg prevention race" as I hope to catch up during the downhill second half."

The following weekend Meg and I did Aid Station work at the 3rd annual Sage Burner 50K. Despite not running I felt the effects of standing in the sun for a solid 8 hours! Congrats to Parr and DC for solid performances on a hot and sunny day. Meg and I also had a great Friday night hosting Bill Dooper at our humble abode. Bill is one of ultra runnings biggest fans and such an inspiration. At 75 years young he is still putting on the action suit and gettin' after it! Congrats to Bill on another finish at the Sage Burner 25K. Age is a number, it's all about your perception of what you can and cannot do at a given age...to an extent.

Since Jemez the training has been solid. It took almost a full week to get all of the 12000 ft of descent soreness out of the legs. I took Sun after the race off. I tried to run Mon, shuffled a few steps and knew it wasn't going to happen. Ridiculously sore. Got on the bike and then resumed the running on Tues. After a 60 mile "recovery week" I had my biggest week of mileage to date when a hit 111 the week after. Thinking of Lake City has got me amped! I love the quote on Jaime's blog from Bowerman that says "No one can coach desire" or something to that effect. I've felt that desire even with a small schedule change at work that had me rising at 4:30 to be running by 4:45AM this past week. There isn't a better M-F morning run from my door than Signal Peak. This last week also marked my 50th Signal Summit. Duncan and I have a goal to each summit at least 100 times for the year.

Our quality sessions have also been solid. Two weeks ago had an awesome unstructured speed session where I would run 100 yard sprints in the infield, jog 100 yards and repeat until pretty tired. Felt awesome to run it barefoot, brought me back to my ultimate frisbee playing days. This past Wed night Scott, Tim, DC, Rickey and I got on the track for four mile repeats followed by 4 by 200M zooms and then some barefooting to cool down. It was a crazy day as a Gunnison local joined our workout and became the quintessential minimalist. This speedster ran only with shoes and socks and clocked the fastest naked mile at the Western State track with a blazing 5:18! Needless to say I was a little shocked as a bare butt cruised by me during my third repeat...

Lake City is next weekend! This is my favorite race and it is a yearly testpiece to gauge my mountain running fitness. Jemez showed me that I can go under 9 at Lake City if the day is right. It will be fast with Jaime, Dakota and a few others that have the potential of going under 9! Here's how my times have looked at Jemez and Lake City:

2007 Lake City 10:26
2008 Lake City 9:45, Jemez 9:45
2009 Lake City 9:45, Jemez 9:13
2010 Lake City- goal sub 9! Jemez 8:31

Looking forward to it!

15 May 2010

Black Canyon Ascent and the Return of Mr. Parr!!!

First off I want to send a BIG THANK YOU to RD Scott Shine, the San Juan Mtn Runners, Black Canyon Nat'l Park, and the Montrose Community Foundation for their collaboration in putting together a fun and family oriented event in the BEAUTIFUL Black Canyon of the Gunnison! It is a rare gift to be able to put on a race in a Nat'l Park and I'm grateful for the partnership that has been established over the past 3 decades to make this race come to life.

2010 marked the 35th running of this classic 6 mile road race which boasts over 2000 ft of climbing as you ascend to the canyon's rim after starting at the Hwy 50 and Hwy 347 Junction. It was a fun ride as I carpooled with Liz and Scott Drum down to the race. After checking in we headed out for an easy 20 min warmup jog and saw "someone" warming up quite fast as we were returning to the starting area. Once we got closer we knew it had to be Timmy Parr. He had the bounce in his step as we extended our warm up and cajoled with each other for a few more minutes. Tim's past two races have not been run in Timmyesque style and I predicted he was due for a win and possible CR. Today was his redemption race!

At 8AM the "gun" went off. Tim looked forward and floated through the course with ease. A local Montrose runner tried to hang with him...briefly, followed by Masters legend Bernie Boettcher, US Mtn Running Team Member Brandy Erholtz, myself and Scott. It was amusing to find the pace I needed to run hard yet not blow up on a short uphill race. I settled in behind Brandy figuring she was running a good pace to gauge myself on. Initially my strategy was to break the race in thirds; with each third being slightly faster than the previous. Needless to say I chucked the strategy out the window and simply ran by intuitive feel. Coming into the race I figured I would run around 45 min or so- 7:30 pace going uphill.

At mile 4 AS I began to feel the strength from my training of running Signal Peak most M-F mornings which gives me about 1500 ft of vertical to the summit from my front door. At this point I passed Brandy and tried to calculate if I could reel in the local Montrose runner sitting in 3rd who began to sense my presence and began looking over his shoulder every few minutes. I also instinctively knew that Scott had also past Brandy and was not far behind me...the last 2 were going to be a shoot-out!

I picked it up and slowly gained on 3rd. However, it was not enough as he had enough in the tank to also have a strong finish. With 1/4 mile to go I looked back to check the status on Scott who was about 10 seconds back. Nothing to do but put the head down and charge to the finish! It's always fun to sprint into the finish no matter what the distance- that line always brings a smile to my face. Here's the "rough" results:

1. Timmy Parr- 41:10? About one minute behind Simon Gutierrez CR of 40:09
2. Bernie Boettcher- 43:30 ish...another SOLID peformance by the most consistent masters runner in the State of CO week in week out for races marathon and under.
3. Local Montrose runner- 45:0x. What I love about CO races is that there are so many great athletes that can show up under the radar and just crush it!
4. RWB- 45:40...right in line with my prediction...next time I race here I gotta go sub 45!
5. Dr. Drum- 45:50 ish...in August he turns 40...look out for him to claim many a Masters win!
6. Brandy Erholtz- 46?

Gunnison runners claim spots 1, 4, and 5! I'm truly thankful to run with Scott, Tim, and Duncan on a regular basis. Our training together motivates each of us to do more than we could alone. I could not have asked for better training partners and more importantly friends when Megan and I made the move in mid January. Here's to Gunnison Endurance!

After the race Scott, Timmy, and I ran a few cool down miles on one of the rim trails that had truly inspiring views of the canyon! Simply dramatic! The post race was first class with delicious breakfast burritos and healthy refueling options graciously provided by Natural Grocers. It is always a treat to run races that partner with sustainable causes and healthy living companies and practices. A mini theme of the day was my prediction accuracy...
1. Tim Parr would win and come close to the CR- yes!
2. RWB would run around :45 min- yes!
3. Scott Drum would win a pair of shoes at the raffle- heck yes!

As I forgot the camera once again I leave you with a parting shot of the "functional award" that was taken upon returning to la casa de burch...BTW functional awards are so much more appreciated by me than the ones that collect the dust...



I forgot to mention...next Sat. will be epic at Jemez! I'm really want Karl and Sr. Clark to be at full health for this one. It's going to be a burner with Dakota, Nick Lewis, and a number of dark horses to spice up the mix! I cannot wait, 50 miles of adventurous terrain with lots of climbing and FUN technical downhill sections! Besides, my back is up against the wall. I need the A game to continue the race series with Sr. Clark! If I beat him the drama will ascend at Pikes. If I go down 0-3 I'll be treating him and the fam to dinner in Los Alamos most likely....:) Until then I'll be watching Rocky movies and jammin out to Eye of the Tiger!

10 May 2010

CP 25 RECAP/BLACK CANYON ASCENT/RANDOM

CP 25 RECAP

After the Fruita 50 I wanted to put in a solid effort at CP. The question was, at what distance? 50 milers are my favorite distance to race. With that said I want to have my best 50M performances at Jemez and Lake City. Thus I chose to run the 25M at CP. After consulting with DC, TP, and Dr. Drum I realized the benefits of running the shorter race to benefit me at my next two 50's. It would give me a mental and physical break from the 50M distance as I've already raced two this year. Mentally going into the race it was much easier knowing all I had to do was run hard for 3 hrs and change. Physically, the recovery was much shorter than it would be from the 50. I felt like my 3 weeks of training after CP before Jemez would be stronger than racing the 50 at CP, recovering, and then getting back to full training. Dr. Scott called it my "25M tempo run." It was good to switch gears for the shorter distance and get some positive turnover.

The race was super fun. Matt Turnbull and I leapfrogged for the first 18M. At mile 18 AS the course begins to drop significantly. Knowing downhill running is my strength I let it go and was able to get the W. I was pleased with the effort. I wanted to see if I could run sub 3- I believe only Justin Ricks (CR 2:57) and Bernie Boettcher have gone under 3 on the new course which began in 2004. I ran 3:05- it will be fun to race here again and begin to widdle away at my current time.

The post race was awesome! It was so fun to be a race spectator- I hardly ever get this chance to hang out and wait for the long race to finish. Bill Dooper and I had some great conversation as the 50M unfolded. Henshaw ran his 25M split in 3:17; I told Bill he would set the CR in 6:45. My prediction was close as he stormed through the line in 6:52. Great to catch-up with former Fort Collins training friends Bryan G and Corey H. This year has been great to watch the new crop of ultrarunners that will impact the sport in big ways. I've been thoroughly impressed with Dakota Jones and Andy Henshaw. Keep an eye out for Marco Peinado and Dylan Bowman as these two are learning and improving with each race. These young guns are also great people to chat with and get to know.

BLACK CANYON ASCENT!

This Saturday I really will be changing gears as I run the 6M Black Canyon Ascent. This is a classic western slope race that has seen some solid runners toe the line. I am stepping outside the comfort of running ultras and giving it a go at this sprint distance! I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of octane is in the tank as I will be running much harder than I'm used to. Tim Parr, Scott Drum and I will represent the Gunnison contingent...Duncan got a little intimidated when he saw my quads at the track last week...) Was it the frightening color or the muscle? It will be a hard effort with over 2000 ft of climbing, a great tuneup before things heat up at Jemez...I'm getting pumped up!

RANDOM

The Gunnison crew has finally started our track workouts the past two weeks. These have been a blast! My favorite is the 200M ZOOMS that we run to finish each workout- these are basically 100M at 75% with the last 100M being at 95-100% max sprint...I'm feeling a little like Usain Bolt's slower adopted brother! Duncan and Scott lit up the track last week as we ran 12 400's with 45 sec recovery between each effort. Duncan ran a 62! for his last lap...look out for him as he focuses on the 100M this year. I am super stoked to see what happens for him at Bighorn.

Last week I also received an email from Matt Carpenter informing me of my competitive entry into PPM! This was great news to hear as I expected to get an answer sometime in late July. Clark, are you confirmed? I have really enjoyed running at new races this year and am especially excited for this classic colorado mountain test of fitness. As of late my energy levels have been solid as I've ran 90+ mile weeks 3 of the past 4 weeks-this is my first year running consistently more than 70 miles/week and the body is responding wonderfully to the higher workload. It always cracks me up when I begin to think I'm running a lot and I ask DC what he ran for the week...soon when I say 90 he'll say 180! It's still hard for me to wrap my mind around weeks above 140-impressive! This past weekend I ran a 20M and 21M. This was solid...now imagine running that 7 days/week with some of those days being longer....Duncan likes running...

Last but certainly not least...

My wife Megan is currently climbing Mt. Rainier! It has been awesome to see her following her dreams/goals in the mountaineering realm. She runs long to train with solid finishes the past few weeks at Fruita and CP! Climb hard, be safe, I love you!

08 May 2010

Pics from CP 25 and 50 Miler


Henshaw finishing in CR style!


Andy and I - All smiles after a fun day in the BV hills!


Megan finishing strong in the 25- Another solid "training race" as she prepares for Mt. Rainier!


Megan and Ed Turner- Bright eyed and bushy tailed in the CO sunshine- did they really just run 25?


Bryan Goding and Marco Peinado- their finish times suggest they ran that close to each other all day!


Marco Peinado- 5th place, 7:35:32...and he didn't eat anything the last 25 miles!


Mr. Consistency himself- Bryan Goding-6th place, 7:38:02, charging home!


2009 Leadville Leadman Corey Hanson floats to another stout finish


Tim Hoppin- improving with each race he runs. Tim hit the jackpot and won a raffle entry into Western States! He will be joining a strong Colorado contingent of contenders at the Big Dance! I will be rooting for Krupicka, Clark, Henshaw, Hoppin, and all the other Colorado runners who toe the line at the "Boston of Ultras"

21 April 2010

Blister of Megan Burch and Haircut: Version 2010




Fruita 50: Pictures and Tidbits










3 of the top 4 fastest times in the 7 yr. history of the race were ran last Saturday despite the heat!

Fruita 50: Dakota Dazzles in the Desert!

Fruita 50: Dakota Dazzles in the Desert!

What were you doing when you were 19? I bet it wasn’t winning 50 mile races in course record style. Dakota Jones ran an exceptional race last Saturday to claim his first ultra- marathon victory. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed. The progress he has made in less than one year on the scene cannot be beat.

I met the teenage phenom last February at Moab’s Red Hot 50K where he placed in the top 5. During May he ran the Jemez 50 in New Mexico, finishing his first 50 mile race in 2nd place; at only 18 years young! Last December he was 14th at the North Face Endurance Challenge; probably the most competitive 50M in the country.

In 2010 he improved at Red Hot finishing 3rd and bettering his time. This past Saturday he knocked it out of the park! We ran together between miles 10-13 ish. As I encouraged him to move past he mentioned that he was probably going out to fast...I think I got sandbagged :) ! As Clark and I filled bottles at 13 aid he ran through and never looked back. End of story. The young man looked incredibly strong on the climbs. Clark and I discussed that he would either blow up or set the course record. Dakota chose the course record- establishing a new one by over 10 minutes.

For 19 years old Dakota has a level head that will lead him to future success in the sport. He is a gracious winner and exhibits a humble positive attitude with those he interacts with. I look forward to racing him at both Jemez and Lake City in the next few months. I will stick out my neck and pick him to win at Jemez next month. Boys and girls, look out for Dakota Jones!

Shifting gears...Senor Clark has backed me into the corner. I am down 0-2 in our best of 5 race series. He bludgeoned me by almost 6 minutes! Another strong performance by my friend from across the pond. I have a month to lick my wounds and bring out the x-factor at Jemez. He still hasn’t seen all my strategery (is that a real word).

Time to shift again...The Fruita 50 represents the beginning of my ultra-career. 5 years ago this race was the birthplace where I went beyond 26.2 for the first time. After finishing I was convinced it would be my first and only ultra...My hipocrisy knows no bounds as I ran my 2nd 50M in the Tetons that September. This cycle repeats itself annually as I swear I will never run another 100. Guess what I’m doing July 24th? Fruita also has been an annual benchmark to monitor my improvement from year to year:
2006: 11:02
2007: 9:07
2008: 8:22
2009: SNOW- Couldn’t make it to the race!
2010: 7:37

As I bring it all together I look back at what I was doing when I was 19. During this part of my life I was all about seeing how strong I could get. 6 days a week I lifted weights for 1.5-2 hours at a time. For recovery I would blend up a protein shake or eat a can of tuna straight out of the can. At my peak I weighed 175. Picture me now with a surplus of 30-35 lbs of muscle spread throughout my body- I know it’s hard! I could bench 275 and squat 400 eight times. Wow have times changed! My legs were so thick that my thighs rubbed together when I walked. I didn’t even know what ultras were...and if I did I would say, “Why would you want to do that!!?” I hated running. At the time all I knew of it was in the punishment form. And that’s another story...Now it is pure love.

31 March 2010

Leor Pantilat and His Encore Performance in Utah!

Usually the fastest runner in a race gets the victory. This was not so for the 2010 Antelope Island Buffalo Run. As we saw two weeks ago, Geoff Roes missed a turn at Way Too Cool and Leor Pantilat took advantage of the blunder and received the "win."
This past Saturday I played the role of Leor while Scott Jaime played the role of Geoff.

Going into the race my goals were to set a new 50M PR and go after Pedatella's 6:43 course record. The race started leisurely as Scott, Erik, and a few others caught up with each other. I was waiting for a rabbit to take off to start the racing but it didn't happen so I steadily increased the pace to get a little separation. Scott followed and I figured we'd be dueling it out all day with Storheim not far back. Scott and I were within seconds through the first 18M. Around mile 10 my right shoe lace came untied; I chose not to stop and tie because the way we were racing those seconds could have proved crucial late in the race. A few miles later I could feel the inevitable crap on deck. I absolutely hate having bowel movements during a race and it was not subsiding. Luckily, a few miles later there was a port o john on the course. Scott ran through while I heartily downloaded the remaining 6" of my footlong sub from the previous evenings feed. I exited the throne and began chasing down Scott when I saw him looking back at me with hands in the air. There was no signage but we were apparently supposed to turn around once we got to the toilet. We both lost around 5 minutes with Scott running an extra mile or so looking for clues.

Once the mistake was corrected we got back on the trail and had to focus once again at the task at hand. Scott opened up a 30-60 second lead for the remainding 99% of the race. At the 44M AS I felt nauseous and thought I would be dealing with yet another type of bodily fluid voiding. Thankfully Mr. Upchuck said,"I just wanna chill!" I then drank two cups of Coke, walked about 20 steps and prepared for the final 6M. At 47 I got a visual of Scott after losing it during my time at the AS. At this point the trail became technical and I was having a blast dancing through the rocky trail. During the dance party I noticed that the gap was shrinking between Scott and I. I gave it my all and knew I was running out of real estate. With less than .5 mile to go Scott ran past the flour arrows that led to the finish and headed towards the coned arrows which directed the mornings parking. He then looked back as I pointed and turned down the correct path. From here I ran like a 5th grade boy who just stole some candy from the supermarket. It was fun to find the extra gear at the very end of the race. I then crossed the finish line like Leor with Scott about 1 min. back. It was amazing that we ran within a minute of each other for the whole race!
It is not the way I want to win a race and this is the second time it has happened to me. Overall I accomplished both of my goals: 6:31 New 50M PR and a new course record. I honestly felt bad for Scott- it had to be heartbreaking! It was great to chat with him after the race and he graciously gave me a "coke." I feel indebted to him because of my thievery and will present him with some "cokes from Gunnison" when we see each other at Lake City- it should be epic!

After the awards ceremony I made it a full day ultra: Run 6.5 hours, drive 7.5 hours home- arriving to my wife, friends, a shower, and my own bed, PRICELESS! I kept the trend going the next morning and cooked up the Famous Burch Waffle Breakfast for the four of us. Needless to say the recovery was rather quick because of the flatter course. Jim Skaggs puts on a great event: the race was well organized and the Buffalo Stew is a tasty postrace feed. Now I have 3 weeks until I do it all over again at Fruita! Running is fun!

20 March 2010

Grand Mesa 100!

After a few weeks of going back and forth on what July race(s) to run I've finally come to a decision. Many of you won't believe it but I am once again going to run a 100 miler. I am getting psyched to run the 1st Annual Grand Mesa 100 out of Cedaredge, CO. What prompted me to go for this race: 1. The course is 76.5 miles of trail, 20 miles of FS Road, and a scant 3.5 of pavement. 2. I have yet to explore this area of CO up close and personal- I am excited to run all around the Grand Mesa!
3. The average elevation of the course is 9,200 ft. with roughly 85% being above 10K and a high pt. of 11,200. 4. Compared to Hard Rock or Leadville this can be the course you can set a PR on a challenging CO mountainous 100 Miler. 5. 14 Aid Stations
6. Complimenting the 100 miler are the 50 and 37 mile options. Great for friends and family who want to join in on the festivities! 7. The race is held July 24-25, a beautiful time in the CO mtns. 8. Generous 33 hour cutoff. 9. As a grassroots race the early entry costs only $120.00! Only $150. after April 10th- it would be hard to find a better deal for 100 miles. 10. A new course=running blind-always great to run brand new terrain! So, if you still need to plan out July races- give this one a go!

In other news...Next Saturday I'm heading out to Utah for the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50 Miler. This will be a new 50 for me. One of the goals is to set a new 50 mile PR and go for Pedatella's CR. Look for Scott Jaime and Erik Storheim to be running up front-should be a good one, it will signal the beginning of many 50 milers for me in the next 3 months...On your mark...get set...go!

15 March 2010

Salida 2010...Ain't Nuthin' but a Hounddog!

Wow, it is good to be racing healthy once again! First I need to give credit where it is due- strong work by Parr, Henshaw, and Clark- it was fun watching the battle for second as I ever so slightly gained ground on third. Well done gentlemen!
The drive to the race was peaceful. The frost on the trees glimmered in the early morning sun as twinkling diamonds while Meg and I cruised through the meandering and 3 degree cold sections of Hwy 50. I remember telling her that today I get to do my favorite thing- running hard through the mountains in a variety of terrain and conditions with a lot of fun people. I am so grateful for this; we shared some time for Jenna and had her close to our hearts on this day. Remember what you have...
The check in brought a lot of smiles seeing friends from the running community- Bill Dooper the best fan of ultrarunning greeted Meg and I with a huge hug! As I prepared for the race my action suit for the day made me chuckle. A few weeks ago Brooks sent me the 2010 Race Uniform which included a neon green singlet and black shorts with neon green sides. I held the shorts up in the air, "These are short shorts!" You guessed it- I had to give them a try-I felt like the total roadie with the side split shorts and too much man thigh...So the benefits-1. Light as a feather, felt like I was running in nuthin'! 2. They had the vital hip pockets for storing GU's. 3. "What is that guy wearing?! obnoxious factor. Cons- holy cow did my upper leg get sunburned! The sunburn pattern is awesome with all the unburned speckles where the mud hit the back of the legs...ok too much info- onto the race.
The race started fast...I settled into a comfortable pace with Marco P as the rabbits ran for their lives. It took me awhile to start feeling the flow- the first 45 minutes consisted of a lot of spitting, farmer blowing, clearing the throat, productive coughing, and other upper respiratory delights as I recovered from some early week sinus fun. After passing through the half marathon turn around aid station the volunteers let me know I was in 6th. Thus beginning my run as the hungry hound. I was like a locomotive all day-gaining momentum as the race chugged along. At the turn in Turret I was 6th with 5th entering the aid 10 sec. ahead of me. I quickly filled the bottle, downed a GU and set off for rabbit #5. I could see that rabbit #5 was fading as I passed him on the opening climb out of Turret. On the crest of this hill I witnessed Marco P take a HARD fall on the ice-with adrenaline in his voice he said he was good...unfortunately the fall had some adverse affects and he wisely called it a day. A few miles down the road Kate L told me that the guy in front of me (Andy) was walking. Extra motivation to hunt rabbit #4. At the 17.2 turn I got a visual of Nick and Dan V ascending the snow packed road with Andy about a minute behind. It was going to be a race! From the turn I began to consistently gain ground on rabbits 2-4. Around mile 20 I saw a flash of red through the trees. Unexpectedly rabbit #4 had changed from Andy to Dan V. I moved passed knowing that 4th was secure and giving it my best to track down rabbits #3 and #2. With about 4 miles to go I caught some more visuals in and out of the trees as I descended. They were pushing each other so hard for the 2 spot that the ground I was gaining felt only like a few seconds on each minute. As I came out of the technical and onto the "groomed" trail above Tenderfoot I saw that Andy had made a small gap on Nick. In the last few miles I pushed the downs trying to remotely see if I could give Nick a scare. Once we hit the flat by the railroad tracks I knew Nick the Quick would safely make it to the comfort of his rabbit hole. Nonetheless I charged in to keep the margin of his victory small- somewhere between 30-40 seconds (the official results are off). Saturday the hound went home hungry...Overall I felt strong throughout the race, gaining steam with each mile. The strength is there- time to fine tune it with some structured speed/hard effort sessions. A beautiful day to race- lots of sun, mud, snow, and fun!

1. Tim Parr 3:13:xx
2. Andy Henshaw 3:18:xx
3. Nick Clark 3:19:xx
4. RWB 3:19:36 (my watch)

Another solid outing; Gunnison runners took 3 of the top 6 spots with Keri Nelson winning the women's division.
2010 Tale of the Tape Race Series: Nick the Quick wins Round 1 by a hare! It's shaping up to be a good one! Nick, I'll round up and spot you 1 minute for your win in our margin of victory times.
Ryan's Excuse: "I did a VO2 max on Tuesday and I know that the effort cost me at LEAST two minutes on race day!"

In other news: On Tuesday I met with Dr. Scott Drum of Western State to do my first of a few VO2 max tests in the High Altitude Performance Lab at Western. I learned that it takes approx. 4-8 months to fully acclimate to 7700 ft. Gunnison altitude also decreases VO2 by 10-15% compared to sea level and decreases max heart rate and many other factors.
Results: 58.7 VO2 max- Parr has one of the highest tested at this facility at 69 ml/kg/min!
Max HR: 180
HR at Rest: 43
Wt: 143.5
Ht: 5'8''
Later this year we are also going to test lactate threshold and economy. These 3 factors along with genetics play a huge part in ones running ability. It is fun to be a lab rat for these tests! BTW the weather in Gunnison is awesome today- above 40-heat wave! Get out and run!

08 March 2010

Ode to Salida

Alright ladies and gents, the 5th Annual Run Through Time Marathon is this Saturday! This is also my 5th year at this race. I have some Salida ties and it has become a tradition with the run and celebrating St. Patty's Day with fam and friends. Let's take a quick look at who will be charging for a podium spot:

Tim Parr- last year's champ, 'nuf said.
Me- last year's runner up and '08 champ in the snow when Tim, Duncan, and Pedatella missed the crucial turn...I broke trail and left half the blood from my shins in the crusty snow so everyone else would know where to go...
Nick the Quick Clark- bronze medal last year, looking to improve so the smack talk can begin :)
Nick the Genius Pedatella- 4th last year, consistent, watch for a late surge!
Marco Peinado- the darkhorse this year. Met him after a debut bronze at the Steamboat 50- he may thrive on the shorter distance, I think he ran at Metro State.
Doug C. Newton- his downhill is improving, look out for him if there is mega snow/slop conditions!
Since there is no runners list- this is what I could compile from out in computer land. Hopefully there will be some surprise entries that spice it up!

In the half: A shout out to the ladies- watch out for Carly, Kir, and Meg as the trifecta are working together for Carly's first half! Jeremy R is using the half as a tune up before the Grand Traverse! Let's get it done!!!

03 March 2010

LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!

A few weeks ago my friend from across the pond thought that him and I should add a little spice to our 2010 races by instituting our own race series. In an attempt to fuel his ultra competitive spirit I humorously agreed. Ladies and gentlemen I would now like to present the 2010 Tale of the Tape Race Series: FLYIN' RYAN B VS. NICK THE QUICK C

The Challenger

Spotlight on Nick the Quick C

Height: 5'9''
Weight: 140-150
Age: 35
Birthplace: Canterbury, United Kingdom
Bicep Circumference: Large
Shoe Size: 9.5
Preferred Shoe: Pearl Izumi Peak XC
Running Strength: And I quote, "Leaving Burch in my dust!"
In his corner: Dazzling Dana and Muhammad Ali-stair

PR's

26.2- 2:43 (Dublin, 09)
50K- 6:02 (HMI, 07)
50M- 7:03 (CP, 09)
100M- 21:30 (Bighorn, 09)

The Champ

Spotlight on Flyin' Ryan B

Height: 5'8''
Weight: 145
Age: 30
Birthplace: Colorado Springs, CO USA
Bicep Circumference: 13'' (Larger than Nick's)
Shoe Size: 10
Preferred Shoe: Brooks Cascadia
Running Strength: Technical downhill
In his corner: Merciless Megan and Studley Dudley

PR's

26.2- 2:44 (Colorado, 09)
50K- 4:05 (Bluesky, 09)
50M- 7:00 (Silver Rush, 09)
100M- 20:51 (LT, 09)

Now for our racing history...

2007 Leadville 26.2- Nick=4:16, Ryan=4:31, Margin of victory=Nick+15 min.
Ryan's Excuse: "We didn't even know each other then!"

2008 Steamboat 50- Ryan=8:31, Nick=8:42, Margin of victory=Ryan+11 min.
Nick's Excuse: "It was my first 50 miler!"

2008 Bluesky 26.2- Ryan=3:30, Nick=3:47, Margin of victory=Ryan+17 min.
Nick's Excuse: "I was still recovering from the Steamboat 50!"

2009 Salida 26.2- Ryan=3:11, Nick=3:24, Margin of victory=Ryan+13 min.
Nick's Excuse: "I slept in my car and froze all night, the body finally warmed up after I finished!"

2009 Pilot Hill 25K Classic- Nick=1:45, Ryan=1:47, Margin of victory=Nick+2 min.
Ryan's Excuse: "I decided to do this race less than 24 hours before it started, and it was so short!

Totals: Ryan=3 wins, Nick=2 wins. Total Margin of Victory (all races combined)- Ryan=+24 min.

Now for the 2010 Head to Head Schedule...

1. Salida 26.2
2. Fruita 50M
3. Jemez 50M
4. *Speedgoat 50K- Ryan still needs to figure out his July race schedule*
5. Pikes Peak 26.2

The winner of the Tale of the Tape 2010 Race Series will receive an all expense paid dinner for him and his spouse graciously paid by the runner-up. In the event that Ryan does not run Speedgoat and there is a 2-2 tie the winner will be crowned following the next head to head race.

And now America, cast your vote by typing "1" for Ryan or "2" for Nick at either Ryan's or Nick's blog: http:www.irunmountains.blogspot.com

Let the games (and talk) begin!

Studley Dudley the English Bulldog

22 February 2010

Running with the Champs...Untethered

Photo: Rob O'Dea


The picture above from the LT 100 start line in August ironically foreshadowed my current running situation here in February. It has been a fun ride training with Duncan and Tim these past few weeks. It still boggles my mind when I think of the talent I get to train with in a 3 mile radius from my front door. If I run east Duncan's home is less than a half mile warm-up. If I head west Tim's place is an easy 2.5 miles. I've always been thankful in the places I've lived and the training partners I've had that make the runs SO MUCH MORE FUN! Fort Collins was superb with Clark, Goding, and Hanson. Greeley was sweet with Doug Bell and the rest of the interval crew. Now it is surreal. The proximity alone is crazy to ponder. The positivity from these two has inspired me to go after the dream more intensely. I'm hoping we can align our schedules at least once this year and go for an all Gunnison podium sweep. To say the least, the last 8 days have been wonderful! The achilles issue subsided early last week and I've been excitedly running pain free for the first time in a few months. I've got my first solid block of training in:

2/14: 18 w/ Parr
2/15-2/19: 5 summits of Signal Peak, various routes, 2 with DC, 1 with Parr
2/20: 20 w/Parr
2/21: 13
Total: 8 days, 115 miles
Today: ? w/ Parr

The body has been responding awesome. I often joke that my only 100 mile weeks come when I run a 100 mile race. I look forward to 2010 and listening to the body as it handles a larger workload of 70-100 miles a week. One of my mantra's for this new year is...At least 10 a day for 2010. Simple and straightforward. My training has been building up to this over the past few years. Compared to the guys at the top I've been an ultra slacker when it comes to mileage :) Last year I was just shy of 2500 for the year with almost no running in November and December. I still feel like my best running is yet to come and I'm optimistic in the process and progression as another "experiment of one."

2010 Proposed Schedule

March: Salida 26.2
March: Antelope Island 50M (currently on the fence)
April: Fruita 50M
May: Collegiate Peaks 50M (Fruita recovery dependent)
May: Jemez 50M
June: Lake City 50M
July: TBD- North Fork 50M and Speedgoat 50K or Grand Mesa 50 or 100
Aug: Pikes Peak 26.2
Sept: Breck Crest? Imogene?
Sept. Steamboat 50M
Oct.-Dec: TBD


Another day at the office

16 February 2010

Moab's Red Hot 2010 Report: More pics

Before the race

Jeremy and Megan looking strong in the 33K



















Dakota Jones and Doug Newton near the finish of the 50K+
Dakota was 3rd overall









Doug enjoying a well deserved post race meal


A few shout outs:

Congrats to CB runner Ben Dunn on a solid time in the 50K+
Congrats to Jared and the soon to be Mindy Campbell on their engagement!

Moab's Red Hot 2010 Report: Where to begin

It is my second time in the Gunnison Public Library today to write up this past weekend's events. During my first I received the following email from Steamboat 50 RD Fred Abramowitz that instantly changed the contents of this post:

On Saturday, February 13, Jenna Gruben, the heart and soul of our Run, Rabbit, Run, our tireless and selfless volunteer coordinator, a dedicated Steamboat Springs community volunteer and organizer, a woman loved by all fortunate enough to have known her, and our two-time our defending champ, died tragically in an automobile accident, returning home from doing what she loved - running a trail race. She and Matt Morrill had been married 6 months. She was 32.

Matt asked that information concerning services be forwarded to all.

Services will be held on Wednesday, February 17, at 10:15 am. at:

Temple Emanuel
51 Grape St.
Denver, CO.

There will be a service in the Temple followed by a burial procession. Immediately after, ALL are invited to Cheri's (Jenna's mother) home. Her address is:

Cheri Stanton
8250 S. Albion Street
Centennial, CO 80122

There has been discussion regarding a memorial service in Steamboat, but I don’t have those details at this time.

Donations can be made to the following organizations in Jenna’s name:

Humble Ranch Education & Therapy Center
P.O. Box 776290
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477

Yampa Valley Autism Program
P.O. Box 771824
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477


Megan and I met Jenna at the inaugural Steamboat 50 in 2007. It was always fun to catch up with her when our race schedules crossed paths. She always wore a smile and was an upbeat, welcoming individual who was easy to laugh with. My last memory of her was after Saturday's race. She told Megan and I about her honeymoon to Nepal and adventures with husband Matt. Jenna beamed. Earlier in the day I hiked up 2 miles from the finish to cheer on runners as they closed in on the day's journey. I cheered Jenna as she ran past; smile on her face and holding her hands in the air for me to see exclaiming with jubilation, "I just ate it!" Despite the fall Jenna ran past filled with joy; crossing the finish line of the 33k race in 4th place. Another outstanding finish! Not only did Jenna race well she gave back to the ultrarunning community even more in her service at the Steamboat 50. She will be missed. Megan and I send our condolences to her husband Matt, her family, and all others who have been impacted by her life. As a small tribute Megan and I will be wearing the name Jenna on our race shirts at each race this year to honor her life.


Jenna and Matt celebrate her victorious finish at the 2009 Steamboat 50 Courtesy: Steamboat Pilot

Last Saturday in Moab

09 February 2010

Darkness to Light = Gratitude

The achilles is coming along slowly but surely. I have been so grateful to run mostly pain free this past week; it has given me hope to test its mettle more and more. Training in Gunnison has been better than expected. Initially I was a bit reluctant to see how the body would handle much more cold than I'm accustomed to. Needless to say it hasn't been an issue. I know it's going to be cold and I prepare by wearing more layers than I ever have. It cracks me up when Duncan is so non-chalant when telling me he got some earlobe frostbite on one of our morning runs. Mental note- Gunnison toughens you up without you realizing it.

After a few days on the flat streets I tested the AT on some trail. In the past 5 days I've ran Signal Peak 3 times. This will be a bread and butter run, see: http://www.duncancallahanrunning.com. It has been great to start these runs at dark'O'thirty (6AM) and rise with the sun as we crest the peak. Beautiful alpenglow towards CB lit the sky in a warming pink hue this AM as Duncan, Ben, and I took in the 360 views. Life is good. It has been symbolic running in the early morning darkness and ascending up into the new morning light. It has paralleled the achilles improvement and feels like I'm moving out of my injured winter with a healthy spring on the horizon. My new goal is to be out amongst them at Salida in mid march. This will be a much needed fitness benchmark before the 50 milers begin.

This weekend brings forth Moab's Red Hot 50K+. Check out http://www.irunmountains.blogspot.com for some race predictions. I will be sitting this one out as I continue to heal. However, I will be volunteering at the race; parking cars as everyone arrives. Looking forward to the weekend. I will also be cheerleading as my wife is representing at the 33K race along with a bunch of friends who are doing either race. Good luck to all!