02 July 2014

Black Hills 100 Mile: Keep it Real Like Chill

The Start

This was by far my best 100 mile performance to date. The missing pieces from previous hundreds found their places and made the run through the Black Hills of South Dakota quite enjoyable. Sure, my 2011 Leadville showcases a time 23 minutes faster but it pales in comparison to the composure and execution that played out only a few days ago. I'm understanding this distance in a whole new light and its exciting. Quite honestly I was a slow learner at 100's. It took me ten to write the epiphany laced report you're reading today. And the learning is elementary. Let me break it down for you with Burch's guide to a successful 100:

1. Keep it Real Like Chill (say this and actually follow through with it, seriously)
2. Run your own race (say this and actually follow through with it, really)
3. Execute your race day nutrition plan (say this and actually follow through with it, for the real)
4. Stay composed
5. Pee on your leg
6. Avoid getting sprayed by skunks
7. Embrace any conditions you may get. It was extremely muddy! Like Fruita 2014 muddy.

Ur bike on mud

The evening before the race the Fort Collins Contingent was discussing race strategy around the dinner table. My plan, to keep it real like chill. I was going to keep the heart rate super low for the duration of the race. No unnecessary spikes from starting too fast, trying to power through a ridiculous climb, and so on. At the most basic level it is easier to sustain a moderate heart rate over a long distance and it is easier to take in calories during lower intensity. Mentally I told myself I was going out at training run pace. I was hiking some of the first hills within the first two miles of the race. I'm learning you have to be really disciplined to go out slow and it makes up so much time later in the race. At mile 17 I was 7 minutes back of the leaders.

Runners talk about running their own race but few actually do it once the gun goes off. I made the decision the night before to do my thing, all day, no matter what was going on around me. I was going to put my theory to the test; if I focused solely on my race I would have a better outcome than getting sucked into the race and letting others dictate pace/effort. Only until the last Aid Station at mile 94 did I ask how much of a lead I had. I purposely went without a pacer (until the final 6) to keep it simple and not let outside thought influence my run (for good or bad). Here's how it played out on paper after I passed Chris R. for the lead around mile 31: Mile 50= +11, Mile 83= +42, Finish= +45. 25 Mile Splits: 1st 25- 4:15, 10:12/mi, 2nd 25- 4:16, 10:14/mi, 3rd 25- 4:43, 11:19/mi, 4th 25- 5:44, 13:45/mi. Definitely room for improvement, I'd like to get my first and second 50 mile splits within an hour or less of one another. Running by headlamp for the last 4 hours and cumulative fatigue were the biggest time sucks during the final 25.

Nutrtionally I have never been better in a 100. Constant energy all day. No highs, no lows, and I stuck to my plan. I put down approximately 40 of these. Here's what I like about VFuel compared to other gels: 1.The consistency is more liquidy and easier to get down. 2.Each packet has a gram of fat so you're getting more than just sugar as fuel. 3.Just the right amount of caffeine for me, 10mg per packet. Kept me alert not shaky. So over the course of my race I got at least 40 grams of fat and a stable 400mg of caffeine. The routine was scheduled. Every 30 minutes I took two large sips of Fudge Brownie from the gel flask (approx. 1 gel every 30 min.)I did this 37 times. Whenever I needed it I took an extra sip or two. I supplemented with cups of Coke and water at Aid Stations. The first half of the race I drank Nuun and then switched to plain water the second half as it seemed to unsettle my belly enough to warrant a change. At mile 71 I tried a bite of sweet potato but couldn't do it. Chewing felt foreign and there was no way I could have swallowed it down so I spit it out. Stay the course! Amazingly I never got tired of Fudge Brownie. For whatever reason I can't do fruit flavored gels anymore so chocolate is my go to!

Staying composed is self explanatory. You know you're going to be running for a long time so enjoy it. Keep it simple. Be efficient in and out of Aid Stations. My longest stop was about 5 minutes at 71 when I tried the sweet potato. This was my "low" of the race and it wasn't close to any of the depths I've experienced at other 100's. Race rationally, not emotionally. Pedatella is a great example of a runner who logically puts his plan in place and then executes it despite the "race" going on around him.

During 100's and other ultras you find ways to save time and keep moving forward. One of these tricks is peeing on the move. During the race I peed 4 times. It's always good to time it and pee when you're going uphill. That is the textbook way to do it. However, around mile 81 I had to go during a downhill segment. Let's just say it is much harder to pee going downhill, especially on tired legs. I hit more of my leg than the ground. 80+ miles in and I'm laughing hysterically by myself somewhere on the Centennial Trail with a wet right leg. The beauty of this story is that around mile 83 you get to cross Elk Creek a total of 5 times and each crossing was at least knee deep. Justification.

It must have been that time of the night. The skunks came out shortly after mile 90. I really did not want to tell the story about getting sprayed 10 miles from the finish line. With each encounter the odds were getting stacked against me. The first one grabbed my attention. "That's a skunk!?" Pepe 1 ran down the trail in front of me for 10 seconds, tail lifted to the heavens before taking a sharp right into the brush. "Please don't spray, please don't spray," as I passed. Pepe 2 emerged 20 minutes later with a bigger tail and less timidity. I followed him down the trail for at least 30 seconds before he darted left behind a tree. "Please don't spray, PLEASE DON'T SPRAY!"

Pepe 3 was just that. 3 times larger than Pepe 2 with a tail flick that could put even the best under hypnosis. I was succumbing to its powers. Feeling sleepy and moving slower down the trail as he mockingly waved that tail in front of me for the next mile. "Don't give in," I told myself. Suddenly, I caught a toe which snapped me out of it. However, I was hurtling toward the massive skunk in front of me. "PLEASE DON'T SPRAY, PLEASE DON'T SPRAY!!!" This erratic movement alarmed Pepe 3 enough and he deliberately jumped off the trail and disappeared. I had survived three skunks. Unscathed and unsprayed.

I arrived at the last Aid Station. 5.7 miles to go and 1:15 to break 19 hours. 13:09 pace is no big deal unless its the last miles of a 100. I knew it would be close! Thankfully I had K-Rob to pace me home and keep me honest. I couldn't have done it without her. The miles cruised by as we caught up in detail about our day. She had been crewing me all day as well but the depth of our exchange at Aid Stations boiled down to, "New gel flask, Nuun tab, feeling pretty good, see you in a few hours!" Fun to get updates on WS and hear about all the people she met and friends she made at all the Crew Stops. With 1.3 miles to go we hit the bikepath! Time to crush it, like a boss! In my mind I was cruising at 6:30 pace towards the finish line lights surrounding Woodle Field. My momentary daydream was obliterated when she said, "Great job, you're doing 9:30's!" Boom! Reality came back. Soon enough I couldn't have asked for a better reality as I crossed the line in 18:58:23. It's almost 1AM in Sturgis, Sunday morning, walking impaired, completely sober, and I couldn't be happier.


Happily tired.

1.Burch 2.Rubesch 3.Bradford

I mounted this on the F-150 today, like Boss Hogg!

PS- This is a great community based ultra event. It's a medium difficulty 100 (16K climbing, rolling terrain, very little flat, 97% single/doubletrack, 3400-5450 approx. altitude). Excellent crew access, 7.5 miles longest stretch b/t AS. Well organized. The biggest variable for DNF's is the weather. They've had massive thunderstorms, heat, cold nights, and super muddy conditions through the race history. Come prepared for it all, nearly half the field dropped this year primarily due to the mud. A big thanks to Chris, Ryan and all the volunteers!

06 June 2014

Dirty Thirty: Detoured

Start 1 of 2 for me. Pic: Chris Gerber

"I don't usually go off course, but when I do it's for at least 11 miles." The Most Interesting Man in the World whispered these fine words into my ear as I prepared to start the Golden Gate Dirty Thirty 50K for a second time last Saturday. How in the heck did I run 11 miles to find myself back at the Start/Finish area approximately 1:45 into the race? Well, let me tell you.

***DISCLAIMER*** I ran this race in 2012. Which means I should know where the heck to go. However, I did go off course that year as well!

It must have been the zero dark thirty wakeup. At 3:10AM I got the body vertical. By 3:29AM I departed in the Fifty for the meandering trails of Golden Gate State Park. Driving up the tight twisting Golden Gate Canyon Road I almost hit him. Sasquatch lumbered across the road looking as tired as I felt. He must have slept terribly too. I felt sad for the hermetic beast who has eluded countless hunters and scientists for the past 100 years. As the brakes locked down and tires screeched I made eye contact with the living legend. Deep turquoise pools set beneath a furrowed brow looked inside of me. This was going to be a day to remember.

As a tribute to my sighting I donned my PI turquoise singlet and boarded the shuttle bus for the final miles to the race start. No one believed my story as I zealously described what I had witnessed 30 minutes earlier. I was frustrated and upset. Why doesn't the world believe in Bigfoot? As I applied the sunscreen and waited in line for the john I mulled over what I must do. Prove it. Race be damned I had a new mission.

I lined up for the start like I've done dozens of times. Game on. It was the Search for Sasquatch. The race started and we were off. No sign of him yet. I stayed close to the front to make sure I had a perfect vantage point if anything were to happen. As we approached the creek I saw them. Truly remarkable. Twenty four inch footprints perfectly cast into the thick mud. I was on course and hot on his trail. Approaching the first aid station I was in third. As I got closer all I saw was wide eyes and pale faces. The volunteers simply pointed. I knew they had seen him. Chasing down a sasquatch is not an easy task so I made sure to fill my bottle and grab a few extra gels. I continued on and then veered left at the post. 4th and 5th came with me. They must have seen him too and knew this quest was much more important than their finishing place in a race.

There he was! I could believe it because I saw all the evidence. The prints in the mud. The tuft of hair in the post. If I quickened my pace I would catch him in a few minutes. I was committed. With each step I grew closer. In my excitement I had separated from 4th and 5th and was on my own in this journey. The gap was shrinking. I began to panic. What would I do once I caught up to The Bigfoot!? He could totally crush me. Let's crunch the numbers: 68 inches, 145 pounds vs. 108 inches, 503 pounds. Why didn't I think of that earlier? As with most Sasquatch Searchers I got caught up in the chase. It's a fever that spreads like wildfire in your thinking. Rational thought gets chucked aside and replaced with youthful abandon that lives simply in the present moment.

I came back to my senses and hit the brakes. Bigfoot stood 10 feet in front of me. I took a deep breath, regained my composure, and soaked in what I saw. The mythical creature leaned against a tree and began to speak,

"I am you. Find meaning in your journey. Sometimes it will be clear, you should continue. Sometimes it will be unknown, you should continue. Sometimes you will want to quit, you should continue. Sometimes you will make mistakes, sometimes you will be on cloud nine. Sometimes you will fall, sometimes it will be routine. You should continue. I am you. You should continue."

08 May 2014

QR III 50 Mile Men's Preview

This Saturday will see the third running of the Quad Rock 50 Miler held in beautiful Lory State and Horsetooth Mountain Parks. Here's a sneak peak at the Men's Field:

Returning Top Ten Finishers from 2013

2nd- Paul Hamilton: He's my pick for the title this year. In February he ran a blistering sub 4 hour finish to place 2nd at Moab's Red Hot. If he falters it will be due to lack of experience in the 50M distance as this will be his second attempt.

3rd- Ryan Burch: In February he shocked the PNW by racing Orcas Island 50K in a Broncos shirt the day before Superbowl Sunday. His second place showing was a bad omen as the Broncos followed suit the next day. In March he was 6th at Salida, 4 minutes slower than his 2013 finish time. He's put in 6 quality track workouts on Tuesday evenings chasing J-Lid and Ruth around the oval. He's got the home team behind him on this one!

5th- Jim Rebenack: No results to report in 2014. He finished 2nd at the inaugural QR. He'll be ready to roll.

6th- Jason Koop: 2014 has seen him 9th at Red Hot, 8th at Salida, and 2nd at the Zion 100. Two weeks after Zion he threw down a sub 2:40 BOSTON! That's what I call recovery. He's another repeat QR finisher taking the bronze in 2012.

8th- Mike Hinterberg: 25th at Salida this year. He's looking forward to returning to his former backyard trails and improving on last year.

9th- Bryan Williams: No results to report in 2014. He's put in some training miles on the course this year and will be building up for Western States in June.

QR Newbies

Jared Hazen: This TEENAGER crushed it at RR100 in February blitzing a sub 14 hour finish and earning a spot at Western States. In 2013 he won the Oil Creek 100. It's safe to say that Dakota has inspired a new wave of ultra-runners younger than himself.

Zeke Tiernan: A strong 5th place at Red Hot in February. With a new addition to his family he has been busier than ever. Hopefully all the miles chasing the kids will propel the CU All-American to a top finish.

Jon Anderson: He's registered for QR every year. Hopefully 2014 will see his first start and finish at the race!

Lewis Price: The FC local ran a solid 4th at Antelope Island 50K in March. He will be looking to avenge a tough go at Collegiate Peaks 50M from last week.

Corey Hanson: Bellvue's Best will be starting his 2014 campaign this Saturday. He's been training undercover this year with unsubstantiated sightings arriving daily on the Wildlife Camera Roll verified by Park Ranger M. Boyts. He is out there...

Jason Ostrom: The FC Birmingham local is a dark horse. Don't let his most current 2008 Ultrasignup finish fool you. He's been training on these trails regularly and looks to silence any naysaying from RD Clark.

Patrick McGlade: 7th at Salida. I outkicked him for 6th. He's on the radar now.

Honorable Mention

Bryan "BG" Goding: His last finish was QR25 in 2012. He'll be dusting off the shoes for this one and parking the bike on Saturday. I've seen him training at Maxwell and Centennial Dr...on the bike. He knows these trails and might surprise a few.

15 January 2014

2013 in Review / 2014 Schedule and Thoughts

Another year in the books! 2013 looked different than most as I was in TX four months completing Firefighter Academy with the Guard. Here's the numerical visual:

Jan- 368.7 miles, 0 days off, 11.9 daily avg
Feb- 277.5 miles, 3 days off, 9.9 daily avg
Mar- 371.9 miles, 1 day off, 12.0 daily avg
1st Q- 1018.1 miles, 4 days off, 11.3 daily avg
Notes: The year started off great with a PR at Moab (5th time at race) and a solid race at Salida.

Apr- 253.4 miles, 10 days off, 8.4 daily avg
May- 96.7 miles, 24 days off, 3.1 daily avg
Jun- 78.3 miles, 13 days off, 2.6 daily avg
2nd Q- 428.4 miles, 47 days off, 4.7 daily avg
Notes: Experienced some fatigue and sickness at Lake Sonoma resulting in a sub par performance. Rebounded at Quad Rock despite lingering fatigue. Left for TX on May 22 which kicked off my inspirational running options of the: track, treadmill, or flat pavement on Goodfellow AFB. The miles = my motivation during this time.

Jul- 90.8 miles, 14 days off, 2.9 daily avg
Aug- 70.1 miles, 17 days off, 2.2 daily avg
Sep- 108.3 miles, 16 days off, 3.6 daily avg
3rd Q- 269.2 miles, 47 days off, 2.9 daily avg
Notes: Returned to CO and civilian life on Sep 18. Ran Towers Sep 19. In one 3.4 mile, 1700 ft.ascent I gained more vert in :36 min than I did during 4 months in TX. The body rebelled returning to regular running. Super tight calves, twingey hamstrings, and other hitches in the giddy up started the comeback on a slower than anticipated return.

Oct- 234.8 miles, 7 days off, 7.5 daily avg
Nov- 202.2 miles, 11 days off, 6.7 daily avg
Dec- 225.9 miles, 6 days off, 7.3 daily avg
4th Q- 662.9 miles, 24 days off, 7.2 daily avg
Notes: With 2 weeks of running under my belt I ran a decent race at Bluesky given the circumstances. Decided to race my way into shape having a blast in the snow at Silent Trails the weekend after. Enjoyed getting back on the horse at Lory and Horsetooth. Capped off the year running under some cloudless NV skies and enjoying some logging trails next to Lake Tahoe.

Totals: 2378.6 miles, 369:53 run time, 122 days off, 6.5 daily avg, 46ish miles/wk avg.

Summits: Horsetooth- 37, Arthur's- 24, Aggie- 21, Towers- 6, Round- 1, Bobcat- 1, Greyrock- 1, Lone Tree- 1, Middle Bald Mtn- 1

Memorable Moments: Watching the Ultra Community come together and fund a trip for Bill Dooper to spectate at the 2014 Western States 100. This was the first thing that came to mind and I'll leave it at that.

2014 Schedule

Feb- Orcas Island 50K
Mar- Salida Marathon
May- Quad Rock 50M
Jun/Jul- TBD- Black Hills 100? Speedgoat?
Aug- Telluride Mtn Run or Pikes Peak Marathon
Sep- Run Rabbit Run 100M

Thoughts: I'm looking forward to getting in consistent training this year and improving my 100 mile game. A few notable changes for the year: I've been doing two-a-days every day. This surprised Clarkie's ears when I made my intentions known. In the past I have not been a big fan. Life is all about perspective. So here's the goal- Run at least 3000 miles for the year and walk the dog at least 500. Run and walk each day. Yup, walking the dog is now part of my official training plan. My mornings start with a 2 mile tempo at 3 MPH, it's epic! The mitochondrial proliferation during this time is through the roof. During an average week I'll put in 14-15. During high volume I hope to hit 18-20. Bailey Monster is stretching his paws in anticipation as I write this. Game. On. GRRR.

Diet: Over the past few months I've been transitioning to a high fat, lower carb eating plan and have gone 98% gluten free. After learning more and picking up tips from OOJ, FastEd, and K-Rob it has been a quality process of deconstructing a lot of the food beliefs I had built up in my life. I like the idea of a consistent fuel burn vs. the ups and downs of insulin response with carbs. I like the idea of eating nutrient dense food vs less useful calories that are more abundant in grains. I like the idea of less inflammation in my body. I've noticed more satiation eating a high fat/smaller portion meal vs. eating a low fat/larger portion meal. I've noticed improved joint health which I think is simply having more healthy oils in my diet and a decreased inflammatory response from a number of foods. These are a few of the insights/experiences I had while experimenting with this method. I'm also intrigued to see how it affects my overall racing and training throughout the year especially at the 100 mile distance.

Breakfast then: A huge bowl of my oatmeal blend. Breakfast now: 4 eggs fried in coconut oil, topped with half an avocado and salsa. Lunch then: A huge PBJ, banana, granola bar, and other fruit. Lunch now: A huge hearty salad with tons of colorful veggies, avo, nuts, and seeds. Apple slices dunked in almond butter. That's the gist. I'll spare the details. Here's to a happy and healthy 2014 with positive change.

BTW...Look out for J-Rob coming out from under the radar. The Seven Hills Silent Assassin is on the Warpath...