Saturday, June 25, 2011

Slacker Half-Marathon and Mt. Sherman (14,036)

Mt. Sherman Hiking Route

Wow.  What a day.   My time is nearly over here in Colorado, so I decided to make the most of it today.  This morning I headed into the mountains to run a fun half-marathon.  The race is affectionately called the "Slacker Half-Marathon" because the course is almost entirely flat or downhill.  The catch, however, is that the race still starts at 10,000 feet.  In my mind, this sort of "cancels-out" the downhill factor.  I knew from my Pocono Marathon, that I should be able to at least run a 1:35 Half.  Today, I had told myself to run comfortably fast, while still going easy on the right big-toe.  I have been training a little less than I'd hoped (because of the toe) while here in CO...but all at altitude.
     This morning, at 8:00 am, over 1000 runners started at the Loveland Ski Area and headed 13.1 miles down bike the path and frontage road to the small town of Georgetown.  It was fast...wooo was fast.  I burned my way down the bike path and onto the frontage road passing people left and right.  Heart-rate ....psshhh...whatever.   I was winging it.  When I got to town with less than a mile to go, I ran out of gas and fought my way to the finish.  I crossed the line in just over 1 hour 30 minutes.  This equates to a 6:54 pace and a new Half-Marathon PR.  Nevermind the fact that it took me a good 30 seconds just to break free of the mob at the start line too and actually get moving.   Overall I finished 41 out of 1190 runners.  35th for Men, and 11th for 30-34 Age.

Here are the Official Results (select Half-Marathon from drop down):

Place: 41 out of 1190
Time:  1:30:12 (6:54 pace)
VO2max: 50.4!  (First time over 50!)

My favourite part of the results is that all but two people that finished before me live in Colorado.  Woo hoo...representin' the low-landers!

Slacker Half Marathon Course

Race Photo 1

Race Photo 2

Anyhoo.  On to the real fun story of the day.  When I popped out to the highway after the race, I had the option of driving back to Denver, or heading West and making something up.  After a quick peek on, I decided to head towards the town of Fairplay and attempt another 14er.  This time:  Mt. Sherman.  I made my way up the gnarly and rugged jeep road to the trail head and started the 6.5 mile round-trip hike.  The total elevation gain was just a little over 2000 feet, so it wasn't too bad, but there was a little snow to deal with.  From the summit, I could see across to the town of Leadville and could pick out the Leadville 100 course.  Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive were booming on the skyline.  Below are some shots from the hike.  It was a blast, and now I have yet another 14er in the books.

Nearing the Summit

Walking to the finish

Celebrating at the Summit (Mt. Massive in the background)

View from the summit

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mt. Bierstadt (14,065) on Father's Day

Well....I bagged another 14'er today.  Today was Nate's last day out here in Colorado with me (Nate is the Penn State undergrad who came out to help in the ice lab for a week), so we decided another 14'er was in order.  Yesterday while I was running up Mt. Evans, Nate was hiking up Mt. Quandary with some friends. We both came away with some crazy stories.   Today, we opted for a more slow-paced, moderate, enjoyable 14'er --- hence, Mt. Bierstadt.  Probably one of the easiest 14'ers to hike, the trailhead is only about 90 minutes from Denver.  We headed out at 5:30 am with another friend of mine from town and started hiking about 7:00 am.  It was an absolutely beautiful day to do this hike.  The trail eases its way up the mountain and only gets slightly tricky at the very top (but still very easy).  We took our time and made  a morning out of it.  I took lots of pictures, enjoyed the views, and made the summit about 9:00.   The weather at the top was perfect and I enjoyed some time with my thoughts up there.  It's been almost 6 years since the loss of my dad, but I still think of him every day.   At 14,000 feet, I almost felt like I was a little closer to him today.  So Happy Father's Day dad, you are still missed dearly.

Officially now, I have hiked three of Colorado's 14ers:  Mt. Evans (ran up it yesterday), Mt. Bierstadt, and San Luis Peak (While on the Colorado Trail).  Only about 50 to go....

Here are some more pics from today:

A Rough Sketch of the Trail

Looking up at the Summit

At the Summit

View of Mt. Evans from Bierstadt Summit

Looking down at the Sawtooth 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mt. Evans Ascent (14.6 Miler) - Short Race Report

At the start.  Very cold, and the snow was just starting to fall.

Not sure where to really begin with this short race report.  I have been nursing a very sore toe lately, but had also already signed up to run the Mt. Evans Ascent.  I have been going very easy this past week so that my toe can heal (assuming it's not actually broken).  I told myself that I would take a stab at the race if the toe was pain-free last night.   Signing up for such an event, in of itself, was a pretty idiotic thing to do for someone that was coming to Colorado from what basically amounts to sea level. Throw the toe-factor in though, and it's really idiotic.  Last night, I had no pain in my toe after babying it for basically three days.  I had already decided that if I did try to "run" the race, it would just be a scenic 14.6 mile fun run...NOT A RACE.  Looking at previous years results, the fastest runners average, maybe, 8 minute miles.  I was aiming more for 11-12s considering the course.

So about the course.
You start at 10,600 and finish at about 14,100.  It's all on paved road, but it is also ALL climb.  Quite simply, you go up...for 14.6 miles.

High altitude does weird things to the human body.  It affects everyone differently.  After years of hiking in high mountains, and running at Leadville...I haven't been able to quite nail down how, specifically, it affects me.  I know I perform at a lower level, and that it DOES affect me....just not sure how.   Today I think I finally nailed it down.  I have had a week in Denver, so I am acclimatized to a slightly higher elevation that in PA, but not much.  Running up to about 12,500ft I generally do ok.  It's when I get near 13,000 that it begins to really hit me.   I monitored myself today to try to understand just what altitude does to me.  At Leadville two years ago, I noticed I was stopping to break a lot and I didn't know if it was because I was exhausted, or because of the altitude.  I watched people all around me today getting hit with different altitude symptoms.  Some people simply couldn't breathe and were gasping for air.  Others, had dizziness symptoms.  I heard a few people talk about their headaches, and I even watched one person after 13 miles simply collapse (as if she'd run 100 miles).   Here's what I noted for myself today:

My heart-rate was not affected much.  I ran slower than usual, but my heart-rate was just about I guess it had to work a little harder.  I never got dizzy, headaches, or bloody noses.  I never had a problem breathing and even a mile from the finish was breathing slowly and calmly.  My problem is simply energy.  For the first 11-12 miles I ran, albeit slowly, but I ran.  I kept a good pace and watched as others around me had to stop constantly for walk breaks.  When I got to mile 12 (~13,000 feet), is when I truly began to notice it.  Trying to run, or even walk, I felt like I was at mile 88 of a 100 miler.  That completely spent, utterly exhausted feeling that you get after burning all of your energy and working all day at a race.  I walked a good portion of the last two miles (due in large part to the insane winds - more on that in a bit), and it felt like I had been running for 50 miles.  Perhaps I need to breathe harder and faster to bring in more O's, but doing my usual routine at 14,000 feet puts me in what I call the "Mile 25 of a Marathon" position.  It's really hard to explain, but if you can recall a very taxing race where you were close to the finish and felt like you could collapse at any's sort of like that, only more artificial.  By the time I drove back to Denver, I felt absolutely fine again.

Quick note on the weather:  It was INSANE.  At the start it was in the 40's and snowing lightly.  A man got on a loud speaker before the start to tell us that he'd just driven down from the summit where the winds were gusting and the temps were below 20F.  I had planned ahead and packed a couple of layers, gloves, and a hat.  I was glad I did.  There were people standing at the start with singlets on and shorts.  I had three shirts, a hat, and gloves.  The first 7-8 miles weren't too bad.  Cold, but ok.  The second half was brutal though...gusting winds easily over 50mph, right in the face.  You'd literally be running in place or get pushed to the side of the road.  It made it almost impossible to even try to jog slowly.  Walking was actually faster.  My lips, fingers, and ears all went numb, and let's not forget I work in a freezer and in Antarctica.  Needless to say, it was a wee bit chilly.

Overall, mission accomplished.  I jogged slowly, chatted with volunteers, and only walked a bit after mile 12.  It still took me 3 hours though.  3 hours to go 14.6 miles seems ridiculously slow, especially considering I ran the Pocono Marathon in 3:21, but it wasn't a race for me.  I stopped to take pictures, and enjoyed the most amazing scenery on any run I've ever done...except for maybe the Leadville 100.

The Toe:
Didn't cause me any discomfort during the run, but is a little pissed off post-run.  D'oh!  I'm going to baby it again tonight and hope that it's just a little tender.  I tried to go very easy on it during the run.

So that's it.  It was a fun, albeit cold and windy, day.  The scenery was amazing, and I got to participate in the "Highest Road Race in the United States".  Cool. 

(Official times and pics will be up on the event's website some time later)

Echo Lake before the snow clouds rolled in this morning

Couple of "Unofficial" Action shots:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Freezing in Denver

So.  Things are progressing here at the National Ice Core Lab in Denver.  I have spent my first week playing with ice from the WAIS Divide core.  It's weird to see pieces of the ice core that I labeled down in Antarctica sitting in front of me with my own handwriting on them.  Mostly my time here will be grunt work, but with some occasional science fun.  I am working the station where we cut and bag all of the ice samples used in the gas analysis labs across the US.  Researchers looking at carbon dioxide, methane, krypton, and various other gas concentrations from different times in the past 60,000 years will be getting some of the ice that I've help to cut and prepare.  It's very rewarding to see the ice go through the entire process.  I was there when it was drilled and helped to catalogue it in the field, and now I get to cut it up into small pieces for different labs across the country.  There are real and tangible data in my hands.  Actual information about our climate's past is stored in these very pieces of ancient ice.  Cool stuff.

When I have time, I'm also trying to assist with more bubble and thin sections as part of my upcoming PhD.  I'm looking at very thin pieces of ice to see how the crystals, or "grains", change with depth.  I'm also hoping to see how the location of bubbles and the boundaries of those grains change with depth.  In other words, I'm doing a lot of work with imaging and image manipulation so that I can take an ice thin-section picture like this:

And turn it into images like these:

Saturday I am scheduled to make an attempt at running up the 14.5 mile Mt. Evans road.  It will be ridiculously difficult but I will take a stab at it anyway.  Why Not?  On Sunday, I'm hoping to do a 11 mile loop hike that will take me up two 14'ers (one of which also being Evans).  Normally I would be super excited about all of this...especially since the Finger Lakes 50 and Vermont 100 are coming up!


I am finding myself more and more worried lately about a possible serious injury.  Two weeks ago I ran the Rothrock Race.  At some point during the race, I bashed my right big toe into a rock and when it sent a terrible shooting pain up my foot.  It stung bad for about 30 seconds and eventually subsided to a bearable level.  After the race I went home and iced it up good.  For the rest of that week I ran moderately low miles and the foot hurt, but seemed like it was getting better.  On Friday evening it seemed like I was doing ok and would be ok for the Laurel 50k.  The following day, I ran the entire Laurel 50k with very little toe pain and figured it was all but healed.  After the 50k, I took nearly three full days off to let me foot rest and during that time I took advil and iced.  The last two days however, it has started hurting again.  When I look at my foot, sometimes it seems like it's a little swollen, and other times I can't tell.  Some times, I walk around and feel little or no pain and can flex the toe any direction fine...other times it aches and hurts when I move it certain ways.    My biggest concern is that I have a small stress fracture somewhere in the toe.

What is most important to me is that I run Vermont again this summer.  If it truly is a small stress fracture of some kind, I would need to stay off of it basically from now until Vermont.  This would certainly put me out of peak running shape for the race, but would allow to at least run it.  Of course this would mean I miss finger lakes and whatever else.  Unfortunately, I'm in a position being in Denver, that I can't really get an x-ray until I get back (being on University health care).   Like I said, for the most part it doesn't hurt, which has me thinking positive...but it's really hard to say without getting the x-ray for sure.  So not sure what to do.  I haven't run now for three days and have been resting it a lot.   My plan for now is to at least show up Saturday morning.  If I start the race and my toe causes me any discomfort at all, I'm going to drop to be safe.  It's not like I was planning on running very fast anyway...likely a very slow jog.   I will think positive thoughts and hope that it's just bruised and/or aggravated.

That's it for now.  Loving the mountains and Colorado.  It's weird to be freezing my butt of in a -24C lab while it's nice and hot outside....but such is the life of an ice-core scientist :-D

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When in Rome, er...Colorado

I love big, snowy, thin-air-at-the-top, mountains.  A lot.  Within 4 hours of arriving in Denver, I was already on top of Mt. Evans at over 14,200 feet.  I couldn't wait to stand on the summit just like in '08 and see the glorious Rocky Mountains around me.  Officially, I'm here in Colorado for school.  For 2+ weeks I will be standing in a cold freezer cutting and working with ice core samples.  When I'm not in the lab though, I will be playing as much as possible in the nearby wonderland of awe.  I simply love it here.  Even when it's 97 degrees outside, it's a dry heat, and feels cooler than a humid 75 back East.   Similar to the feeling I get when I traipse around New Zealand, I simply feel at home here (although not quite as much as in New Zealand).

Some Running:
Since I'm here, I figure I should probably do a couple of crazy runs...just because I can....but also to prep myself for the Finger Lakes 50 when I return and simply to keep my fitness level up to speed.  Before I left, on a complete "whatever" whim,  I signed up for the Mt. Evans Ascent.  I mean...if I'm going to be crazy, I might as well go full out bat shit crazy right?   So why not run a 14 mile race that STARTS at 10,600 feet and ends at 14,200 with the entire course being a long climb?  It's not like I just came from sea level or anything.  Should be fun!  And think, I can tell people that I ran in "America's Highest Road Race".   *grin*.   In all likelihood I'll be lucky to walk most of it...but we'll see.  I also put my name in for a downhill half-marathon the following weekend that starts in the Loveland Ski Area.  I read that the after race party and food is tops in the country!  How could I not sign up, right?   I mean, it's all downhill?  Easy Peasy.  Yeah yeah...I  know.  Here's the deal:  I need to put in some long runs on the weekends anyway...why not have some fun with it?  These races weren't expensive, and I love seeing amazing scenery while I'm out there and to try new and challenging things.  If I don't keep pushing and challenging myself, I won't truly be living.  The last thing I want is to get into that day-in-day-out rut again that I talked about in a previous post.  I want to keep that "feeling" alive inside of me.  That "feeling" I get when I know I'm running in a crazy race, doing something ridiculous....just to see if I can.  Or that "feeling" I get when thru-hiking the PCT, or breaking the tape at Leadville. 

Long story short, I've been in Colorado for all of 2 days and I'm already loving the mountains.  I try to make the most of the opportunities that I am this is my only time through this life of mine.  Why not seize every possible moment that might bring me a sliver of happiness?  When elderly people are interviewed late in life, they inevitably talk about how they regretted not taking more risks in their youth, and seeing more of the world.  Doing more adventurous things.  I don't want to be one of those people when I'm old.

So....let's run up Mt. Evans.  What do you say?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Laurel Highlands 50k - Race Report

Ok first off.  What an absolutely beautiful course I had the privilege of running today.  I was very worried that I would be in a lot of trouble during this race as my right big toe was still very tender from the Rothrock Challenge last weekend.  That race may have only been 19 miles, but it was some of the most brutal 19 miles I've ever run.  My legs were also still recovering.   Regardless, I told myself that I wanted to do my best today, and most importantly....have fun.  I have been wanting to see the Laurel Highlands Trail for a while and so this was my perfect chance.  Weather was in the high 70's but the humidity was a bit rough.  I set a loose goal of finishing in under 7 hours, but wasn't going to push it.   Again...just have fun.   Add to that the fact that the first 8 miles had basically all of the climbs of the course, and I did not want to burn out my fuel early.   

So.  The quick recap.  I drove down early in the morning to beautiful Ohiopyle, picked up my number and lined up at 8:00 am with about 70 other runners.  We set off to an audible "GO!" and I was off.  I opted for an almost identical setup as the one I went with for the Rothrock with two major changes.  I went with my beefier Brooks Cascadias as opposed to the minimalist New Balance MT101's.  Anything to give that toe some extra protection.  Also, I carried a secondary handheld bottle as the aid stations were a bit far apart (and the humidity high).'

The Start
I'm in here somewhere....

I pushed a little at the beginning to get up front before the course pinched off to a trail, as I knew it started with a "walking climb".   Similar to what I did at Rothrock.  At about a half-mile in, the single track started....and was it wonderful.  The first 6 miles had 2 roller-coaster style ups-and-downs, which I conservatively walked and ran.  At 6 the biggest climb of the course started and worked its way up almost 2000 feet to mile 8.  (see elevation profile from previous post).  After mile 8 though, almost the entire course was run-able.  I was glad I saved energy at the beginning, because I was able to run nearly the entire remaining 23 miles.  The trail beneath my feat was spectacular, the views gorgeous, and rocks...manageable.  This course ranks right up with the Vermont 50 as one of my absolute East Coast favourites now...a true hidden gem.  I was like a giddy school kid running down the trail...and was having a blast!  Mission accomplished.  I ran with several good folks and kept it together for nearly the entirety of the race.  The aid stations were well stocked and the volunteers fantastic.  At about mile 29 I finally started feeling the effects of 20+ miles under my feet, added to an insane 30k last weekend, added to about 5 hours of sleep...and I crashed hard.  I grimaced and fought my way through the last two miles though and when I crossed the finish I was absolutely shocked by my final time and place:

Time: 5 hrs 54 minutes.  (PR for 50k)
Place: 9th Overall, 7th Men

Granted there were only 70 or so runners, but I have never finished in the top 10 in an ultra....ever (Except for the New England Funeral Run 50 - But there was only like 10 runners).  Needless to say, I am very pleased with the day.  Beautiful trail, great road trip, awesome volunteers, friendly runners, and a great finish.  

Good day.  Fun Day.

Flight 93 Memorial side-trip:
On the drive back I made a short detour to Shanksville, PA to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial.  It's not officially finished until this September, but I got to see the site regardless.  To look upon the small patch of grass where the plane actually crashed and where all those people lost their lives.....was quite sobering.

Some Action Shots from Today:
Coming into Aid Station 1
Plugging along near Aid Station 2 
Mmmmmm....Stocking Up
Coming in to the Finish
Some Shots from Ohiopyle:
Mmmm....More Waterfalls!
Three Barns Perched on this Bucolic Pasture
 Flight 93 Memorial:
View of the grassy spot where the plane hit
National Memorial
Equipment and Nutrition Stats:

Hydration:  Nathan X-Trainer 1 Bottle Mutation Belt, 1 handheld amphipod, Gatorade and additional water at aid stations.

Salts:  Four Endurolyte tabs

Nutrition:  Four Honey Stinger Gels, 1 Nathan PB packet, ~5-6 fresh dates, Honey Stinger Peanut Butter/Chocolate Bar, Cookies and other snacks at aid stations

Clothing:  Icebreaker Merino 150 shirt, Patagonia Nine Trails shorts, Headsweats cap, Darn tough wool 1/4 socks.

Shoes:  Brooks Cascadia 5's

Additional:  Polar RS100 heart-rate monitor, Sportslick gel, and mild DEET repellent (for ticks)
Calories Burned ~5000, max HR:178 bpm avg HR: 154 bpm

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

GoLite Jam - First Generation!

Golite Jam - First Generation (2006)

After almost 5 years of looking, I have finally gotten my hands on a "new", first-generation, golite jam pack (I say "new", but it is actually slightly used from 2006).  Back in 2007 when I was preparing for my AT thru-hike, I had decided on what pack I wanted to use.  After days of research and reviews, I decided on a GoLite Jam.  Two weeks later, when I went to order it, golite had phased in the newer model: the Jam2.  I figured it was the same pack so I just bought it not thinking too much of it.  Ever since that day, I had alway wished that I had ordered my pack two weeks earlier and gotten that first generation pack.  It was a simpler design, lighter weight, and overall better look.  Since then, golite has changed the design twice more and each time increased the weight.  The original Jam was about 1 pound.  The newest release is about 2 pounds. don't get me wrong about the Jam2.  I still have it and I still love it.  It has over 6000 miles on it.  I used it for my AT thruhike, my CT thruhike, my tramps around New Zealand, and a good portion of my PCT thruhike.  It is a great pack and has been very good to me.  With that said though, there's always been a part of me that wished I had that older version.  

Every now and then I peeked in on ebay, or hiker forums to see if any old jams ever popped up.  Every once in a while one would surface, but it was always really beat up, or not the right size.  Last week, a medium, green, like-new pack showed up online and I was able to snag it up.  It came today, and it looks brand new.  Absolutely no signs of use.  I can't wait to test it out this Vermont perhaps?  (hint hint)

Might finally be time to retire the Jam2....

Jam2 on the AT

Jam2 on the CT

Jam2 in New Zealand

Jam2 before the PCT

On a running note, the legs are finally working again and I've been out jogging very easily the past two days.  I'm honestly more worried about the toe.  I really must have stubbed it hard as it is still bruised and every once in a while sends a nice sharp pain up my foot while running.  Think I will take it very easy tomorrow and friday and re-evaluate friday night.  Been icing everything though and taking a few advil. No matter what happens, I'm still looking forward to seeing the Laurel Highlands trail...even if I'm not running it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Laurel Highlands Ultra (50k) - Preview?

Definition:  Idiotic - Running a 50k (Laurel Highlands Ultra) one week after running a grueling 30k trail run (Rothrock Challenge).

Yes.  I am in fact, kind of an idiot.  I sit here on Tuesday afternoon, still notably sore from this past weekend, wondering how I'm going to finish a 50k this upcoming weekend...and if shouldn't maybe just take a DNS.  The 50k was originally on my list....the 30k was not.  So it's my own dumb fault for "on a whim", going out to race a ridiculous course like Rothrock a week before a scheduled 50k.  *sigh*.   Kind of torn on what to do here.

I think I am going to take the following approach:

I have always wanted to see this part of PA.  The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and is supposed to be quite lovely.  The course is noted as being tough, but after this past weekend, I'll probably laugh at it.   It is becoming harder and harder for me to just "have fun" at a race.  I've gotten to the level, both physically and experientially, that I want to race during "races".  With that said however, I MUST keep in my my future summer goals here (Vermont 100 etc).  I am making a promise to myself that if I am to run this weekend, it must be as a training run....not a race.  I need to be easy and conservative and NOT think about placing.  I instead will focus on the beauty of the trail, and tackle this event as a scenic "walk/run in the woods".

Of course this all assumes I am even moderately healed by Saturday.  I'm still notably sore and walking funny from Rothrock.  The toe is still a bit tender as well.  Like I said:  Idiot.  But, if I wasn't doing something crazy and ridiculous, I wouldn't be me right?

At any rate,

It was one year ago today that I stood atop Mt. Whitney gazing out upon the beautiful, yet snowy, Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.  One of the greatest days during my PCT thru-hike (which was incidentally followed up by one of my worst)...and one that I will always remember.

6-7-10 - Highest point in the lower 48
hike on!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Rothrock Challenge (30k) - Short Race Report

Official Race Photo (I did buy this one)

Holy crapballs batman, what a ridiculous trail race.  I've done many a race in my day, ranging from 5k's to mountain 100 milers (Leadville).  This was without question the most technical and idiotic course I've ever run.  The only places I've gone through worse were on my Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hikes.   As far as a review, I'll keep it pretty simple.  First some stats.  I had a pretty good day, for a moderately conservative run.  I finished 29th out of 299 runners with a time of 3:43 (12 min/miles).   I could have gone a little faster/harder, but didn't want to push too hard as the Laurel Highlands 50k is this coming weekend.  The overall and mens winner, a local State College native, scorched the course in just under 2:38.  The women's winner was another local animal, Meira Minard, who finished in 3:18.   The weather....perfect.  Partly cloudy, mid-70's, good stuff.   My strategy was very simple for this race: Be comptetive, run solidly, but don't push it.  Also, I told myself to push a little at the start in order to get out into a decent position.  The course pinches off to a tight single track after about a mile and it makes passing a bit difficult.  I wanted to get up front so that I didn't get to far back during the slow climbs.

I'm not going to spend too much time going over course details.  The bottom line is this.  There were effing rocks everywhere, and not a lot of flat sections. Most of the rocks were littered all along the trail and just big enough where they made trying to find good footing almost impossible.  In a few places (i.e. Shingletown), there were insane boulder scrambles both up and down.  In a couple of spots they had ropes set up to help get down was that steep.  Almost all of the climbs were too steep to run (at least for me), and some of the descents were so steep I had to walk/shuffle them to prevent wiping out.  It really was that ridiculous.  I rolled my ankle more than once, and stubbed my right big toe pretty hard (it's still a bit bruised today).   

I felt pretty good all day.  Never super tired, but perhaps a little dehydrated.  I ran most of the day with 4th and 5th place womens' finishers: Caitlin and Annette (who both ran great races).  I experimented a little with nutrition during this race.  Instead of Hammer gels, I went with a combination of Stinger Honey gels and Nathan's Peanut Butter Packets.   I also nibbled on some dates, kept my salts up, and tried to drink less gatorade.  It seemed to work great as I finished strong and wasn't too tired.  The only thing I forgot was the gummy bears (doh!).  Heart-rate averaged in the high 150's, so just barely still in the aerobic range.  In the end, I do think I ran it a bit hard as I'm more sore today than I had expected.

The atmosphere for this race was fantastic.  Great people, good support, awesome aid stations, and AMAZING post-race food and goodies.  There was even a beer truck!  I didn't stay too long at the end though, and I'm not sure if I got a finisher award (a rock mounted on a piece of wood - seriously), but I had an absolute blast doing this race.  So glad I decided on a whim to take a stab at it.  The only big mistake I made was not wearing my more sturdy/hefty trail runners.  I went with my more minimalist shoes and my feet paid the price.  Banged up a bit, but otherwise ok.  Anyhoo, that's about it.  As soon as some pics are posted, I'll try to put them up here.  (The pics below are from Bryon Powell's blog)

Bryon Powell ( posted a blurb about the race too:  Bryon's Recap

Race leaders climbing the infamous "Shingletown Climb" (Photo: Bryon Powell)

Typical trail-tread

Equipment and Nutrition Stats:

Hydration:  Nathan X-Trainer 1 Bottle Mutation Belt, Gatorade and additional water at aid stations.

Salts: Two Endurolyte tabs

Nutrition:  Two Honey Stinger Gels, 1 Nathan PB packet, ~5-6 fresh dates, and a handful of pretzels at aid station 4.  I also had a Honey Stinger "waffle" but didn't eat it.

Clothing:  Icebreaker Merino 150 shirt, Patagonia Nine Trails shorts, Headsweats cap, Darn tough wool 1/4 socks.

Shoes:  New Balance MT101's

Additional:  Polar RS100 heart-rate monitor, Sportslick gel, and mild DEET repellent (for ticks)
Calories Burned ~3200, max HR:178 bpm

Evil Granola Bars!
....oh and on a completely unrelated side note, I ran the entire race with a sizable hole in one of my teeth.  Now that's hardcore!   No...but seriously, friday afternoon a piece of one of my molars literally broke off while eating a granola bar.  Not a filling...but an actual piece of my tooth.  The good news was it was on a tooth that my dentist said he wanted to put a crown on soon anyway.  So not only was I walking like a sore trail runner this morning, but I got to have a Novocain needle jammed into my cheek at 8:00 am.  Talk about some wonderful post-race recovery...ahhh, good times.  Incidentally, this tooth chipped on the exact same type of granola bar that I lost a filling on while thru-hiking the PCT last summer.   I have decided as much as I love them, they will no longer be a part of my cuisine.   So beware of these evil tooth-killing bars!  *shakes angry grandpa fist*

Some more race photos (probably won't buy these)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rothrock Trail Challenge 30k - Race Preview

The time has come, where my shoes shall meet the trail once again.  This coming weekend I have my first of many official trail races this summer.  Starting early Saturday morning, I will be heading out for an 18+ mile jaunt through the rough and rocky Rothrock State Forest here in State College.  The race: The Rothrock Trail Challenge 30k.  While I will be "racing" this event, I will also force myself to be moderately conservative, as next weekend, I have my first ultra of the season:  The Laurel Highlands 50k.  So in a sense, The Rothrock is a beefed up training run, much like the Finger Lakes 50m will be for the Vermont 100. 

Since finishing the Pocono Marathon 2+ weeks ago, I have maintained a rather aggressive training schedule, with the hopes of going into this season's trail races ready to give them a run for their money (no pun intended).   Last week I topped out at 56 miles for the week.  This week I will be instituting a very small taper towards the end of the week, but still hope to get in a fair amount of miles.  I'm trying not to think too far ahead, but I do have my eyes looking a little bit ahead to next week's 50k.

Nothing like starting off with bang.  The Rothrock 30k is aggressive.   The course is littered with notorious PA rocks and has a hell of an elevation profile.  30k may not be an official "ultra", but this race will assuredly kick my ass regardless.  Here are some pics from the event's website:

...and the elevation profile