I was a competitive cyclist for years. In 2009, after racing in the Tour of Utah, I decided I had plateaued as a cyclist--I could continue to improve, but I wouldn't break through to a new level. So, I started looking for a new challenge.
I thought that challenge would be mountain biking, but I'm a terrible bike handler. I married Catherine in January 2010 and a couple of weeks later I entered the SLTC Winter Training Series with her. A couple of weeks after that I decided I'd like to run ultras, so I signed up for a couple of 50Ks to get started.
Those first races came and went, with varying results. I was looking forward to running more and possibly pushing into the longer distances, but I injured my knee in June 2010 and I've never been consistently healthy since.
I started law school in August 2010, which meant less time for training. In June 2011, Baby Elliott was born, which meant even less time for training. But she's worth it.
Baby Nora joined us in October 2013, with the same effect on training as Elliott (who, incidentally, is no longer a baby).
I (finally) finished school in April 2014 and now I'm an evil corporate lawyer in Salt Lake. I have no illusions that I'll ever get back into the shape that I once was, but I'm perfectly at peace with that. I still have many goals to accomplish and many years in which to do it.
New Balance MT100 Miles: 5.50
MT101 Miles: 99.10
New Balance RX507 Miles: 19.20
Mizuno Ronin Miles: 8.20
Adidas Adizero XT Miles: 18.00
Mon, May 02, 2011
My knee felt fine during Saturday's run, but it was acting up shortly after, so I've decided to spend this week primarily cross training. I'll plan on getting out for a longer trail run on Saturday (in St. George this week), and I hope to make a run up Grandeur Peak tomorrow morning, but otherwise it'll be more time on the stair stepper for me.
I'm also hoping to up the volume a bit past where it's been for the last few months. I think 75 minutes per day should be a good start, plus one longer workout on Wednesday and another on Saturday. Aerobically, that should be similar to about 10 miles per day, which for me I think is plenty. At least for now.
Which brings me to today. I have some externship training on campus from 9 to 5, but I wanted to see Catherinebefore she left for work, so I got up at 4:10 and did my 75 minutes. Fortunately, I have more time available as of Friday, so I was able to get to bed early enough last night that getting up early wasn't too bad.
At the gym, the Bin Laden story was everywhere on TV. I kind of expected it to be on Sports Center, too. I guess I'm surprised they got him, because by this point I kind of assumed they never would.
My schedule didn't end up allowing for a Grandeur Peak run this morning, but after a full day at the office, I decided I needed to hit the trails. When I left my house the sky was gray, the wind was howling and a little rain was starting to fall. I prepared for the worst and grabbed my gloves, my beanie and my jacket. But by the time I reached the trailhead the sky was blue and it was warm enough that I considered going shirtless. I ended up having a great little run to finish a busy day. And the best part is that two hours later my knee still doesn't hurt.
I was going to cross train tonight, but the weather was so nice that I just couldn't resist getting out for a run on the Draper trails. The good news is that my knee felt fine. The bad news is that my calves are killing me. This transition to a midfoot strike may take a while.
Speaking of which, I got some advice from Aaron K via email today, and it turns out I am supposed to stay off my heels even on the technical descents. So that's just one more thing I have to work on, and one more thing that makes my calves hurt. But I'll get it figured out.
Against my better judgment, I went for another run today. I got a late start, so I had to cut it very short, but I think that was a good thing, as I know my knee isn't quite ready for a full return to running. Still, it was nice to get out. I'll just take tomorrow off and let my knee recover, so I can maybe get a run in on Saturday.
As for today's route, I ran up Grove Creek to the top of the big switchback, then I went north on a trail I've never run. It was a great little trail, looks like it keeps going a long way, so now I need to get back there and explore further. West Timp is the gift that keeps on giving.
No miles today. My knee feels okay right now, but I'm afraid to push things so soon, so I decided to take a rest after three days on the trail. Instead of running, I got back to the gym to pump my guns, because I've been neglecting my meathead-itude since finals started. I could feel that, too. I'm not back to square one, but I have lost some ground over the last few weeks.
Anyways, to make up for the lack of an interesting report today, I've decided to share the following linguistic issue I've been puzzling over.
I'm in St. George visiting my
grandparents with Catherine and my brother, Sean. We got into town
last night sometime after 11:00, and we weren't in bed until sometime
after midnight, so this morning's “early” start wasn't until
about 7:00. I drove out to Hurricane and parked at the trailhead up
on the mesa. From there I ran about 4.5 miles up the highway toward
Polygamyville and Gooseberry Mesa and then picked up the JEM trail. I
stopped there for a few minutes to shed some weight (if you know what
I mean), eat a gel, and sign the trail register.
The JEM trail is a gem, in my opinion.
I've ridden it on my mountain bike several times, but today was my
first time running it. The trail rolls and swoops through the desert,
a gradual descent almost the entire way with a few short climbs and
some steep drop-offs along the way. Because the sun was low in the
sky, the temperature was fantastic and I ran with my shirt off for
about an hour.
After five miles, the Hurricane Rim
trail intersects the JEM trail. This trail connects the JEM trail to
the parking lot where I left my car, about seven miles away.
Hurricane Ridge is a different beast. Although it's no mountain,
there are a couple of small but sustained climbs, and a lot more rocks and
technical sections along the way. My brother and I rode the trail
last year at Thanksgiving, and I crashed three times and broke my
saddle, thanks to my dismal bike-handling skills.
Anyways, it was here that the wheels
started coming off today, too, so to speak. First, I saw a sign with
what looked like a picture of a snake on it, and it made me start
worrying about snakes. I freaking hate snakes. Also, the sun had
started to come out, and although it was only in the mid-80s, it was
much hotter than anything I've run in this year. On some of the later
climbs, I started to feel dizzy and nauseous, and I had to walk a few
short stretches—pretty lame, given the relatively mellow nature of
Anyway, I made it back to the car
without incident, other than almost not being able to find my keys,
which I had hidden a little too well along the cliff. I ended up
finishing just under 17 miles in 2:15. Sadly, my longest run since
the Buffalo Run, and my second longest run of the year. I could have
run the Gould's Rim trail rather than the highway up to the JEM
trail, but I'm glad I decided not to. Given the heat, I would have
needed to start earlier than I did, and I don't think my leg would
have enjoyed the extra three miles.
Speaking of my leg—I wouldn't say my
knee hurt, but I felt enough twinges to know it wasn't happy.
Seventeen miles is probably about five too many right now, and I
expect I'll be pretty sore this evening. I've swallowed a handful of
ibuprofen preemptively, and I'll ice the knee a little later.
Hopefully it won't keep me from running next week.
By the way, the Grandeur Peak Fun Run
is next week. If you're in Salt Lake next week and you run mountains, you won't want to miss this one.
Not much to say about today. I didn't take any ibuprofen this morning, and throughout the day I could tell that my knee is still sore from Saturday. Not bad, but definitely not good. So I decided to cross train tonight--one hour on the stair stepper--but I started with a mile on the treadmill in my flats. Even if my knee hurts, I think it's important to keep the pressure on my calves so they can adapt to the forefoot thing.
Another relatively uneventful day at the gym. I started with a mile on the treadmill before switching over to the stairs for some threshold work. I ended up cutting the stair workout short by about seven minutes because I felt pretty trashed, but otherwise things were fine.
After a few days of rest my knee seems to feel fine, so tomorrow I'll do what I can to set myself back. Grandeur Peak west face at 5:30 tomorrow evening with my brother and possibly the Samurai. Anyone who's interested is welcome to join us.
I don't know what it is about that mountain, but I just can't get enough of it. Actually I do know what it is--it's steep. So, so steep.
Anyway, I ran with the Samurai tonight, and my brother came along for the ride, too. He's never done anything like that before, and I'm pretty sure he won't be able to walk tomorrow. But he loved it, and he'll be back. Unfortunately, the Samurai had to get home in time for his kid's soccer game, so we turned around at what he calls the "first summit" (also known as "not the summit"), about a quarter mile short of the actual summit, but that's where the snow line was so it was fine with me. I think we were on pace to hit the summit in the low to mid 50s if we hadn't stopped. Not fast, but not slow. And I was yapping away the whole way up, so I know the effort was reasonably relaxed.
The whole round trip was 1:06:25 for 3.7 miles and 2800 feet of vertical at a blazing 17:48 per mile.
Afterward, Catherine was on her way to the gym, so I went with her and ran an easy 20 minutes on the treadmill in my flats to shake out my legs, strengthen my calves, and pad my mileage.
As expected, my legs are trashed after yesterday's run. But not cripple-trashed, so I enjoy the feeling.
I just ran a few easy miles with Tigger at the track today. I ran the first three in my flats, and the last two in my Ronins. The extra cushion felt super nice, and I picked up the pace by about 30 seconds per mile with out even thinking about it.
By the way, the Grandeur Peak Fun Run has been postponed till next Saturday. You should still plan to be there.
I wanted to get in a short, easy trail run this morning, so I planned a little lollipop loop starting from Grove Creek and doubling through Battle Creek. But the little stream you have to hop across before running south from Grove Creek has become more like a river. I looked around, but I couldn't find any way past it other than through it, and I was in no mood to get wet. So I headed north on a little trail that joined up with a dirt road that brought me back to the parking lot at the end of a two mile loop.If I don't mess my knee up today, I may get to do a long run tomorrow, so I just ran two laps and then called it a day. Not great, but not bad, either. Super slow, though. My legs are still sore from Grandeur.
I'm shocked at how sore I've been since running Grandeur on Wednesday. I honestly didn't expect it to be so bad. Yet here I am three days later and it still hurts to walk. Weird.
A few weeks ago, my cousin in law, a mountain biker turning trail runner, told me that Lambert Park over in Alpine a good place to go when you want to ride dirt but you don't want to climb mountains. That sounded like just the thing for my trashed quads, and since I had been meaning to check out the park for a while anyway, I decided that today was the day.
Basically, the park is a huge network of constantly intersecting trails (take a look at the map to get a better idea). So, I just picked a trailhead and got busy. I spent quite a bit of time trying to decide which way to go, but after an hour or so I felt like I had a pretty decent idea of the place although there are still a ton of trails I need to check out. It's a good thing the park is only 7 miles from the house. And apparently the trails are runnable year round. (For the record, the trails I ran on include Rodeo, Lambert's Luge, Poppy, Middle, Spring, Middle Spring, Ziggy, Zag, and ZPC. I may have forgotten some, but I think that's it.)
I forgot my Garmin, and I wasn't wearing a watch, so I have no idea what my run looked like. But I was away from my car for two hours. Even with all my stops and wrong turns, I think I can still safely credit myself with 12 miles.
Three easy miles on the road before work, wearing the flats to keep strengthening my legs. Now that I think about it, almost everything I've done for the last little bit has been in the gym or on the trail. This was my first road run in quite a while, and it felt pretty good, except for the freezing wind from then north.
Anyways, my right ankle has been hurting since Saturday. It's pretty much the same thing that happened to my left ankle a while back when I went out and ran ten miles with new stride, only it's not as bad this time. I was going to run a few miles more this evening, but I decided against it in hopes that my ankle will feel better tomorrow and even better on Wednesday so I can run Grandeur again--I've got a new weapon I'm itching to use.
It seems like I'm perpetually broken down these days. But on the plus side, my knee doesn't seem to be bothering me. I hope that my body will adjust over the next few weeks so I can get back to training as usual.
When we left Salt Lake, I was disappointed to have to leave Grandeur Peak behind. Fortunately, it turns out there is a Utah County equivalent in the direct route up Big Baldy from Dry Canyon. Although I can't confirm it yet (because I forgot to charge my Garmin), it climbs a bit more than 3000 feet over 2.5-3 miles, depending on which website you look at. I can confirm that the trail is freaking steep. My brother checked it out a couple of days ago and said it was a lot like Grandeur, and he's right. Once you leave Dry Canyon and hit the Big Bald trail proper, it's relentless and brutal. Or brutally relentless. I can't wait to spend time on it this summer.
Today I got a late start. That, combined with the fact that I was traveling slow (more hiking than running) and the fact that the trails were muddy or covered in snow or both meant that I didn't make it to the summit. In fact, I stopped a few hundred feet short of the false summit, because I had lost the trail under a few inches of fresh snow and because I was already afraid of the sketchy conditions on the descent and the possibility of running out of light. So I turned around. But it was a good hike, and I'm glad to have discovered a new route that I plan to use extensively this summer.
If you're reading this, you've probably noticed that the weather has been unseasonably crappy around here. Because of that, the Samurai suggested that Grandeur might be a bit too muddy today, so instead my brother and I met him a little farther south for a run on Mount Olympus.
I'd never seen the trail before, and I feel like I've been missing out. It's steep and technical and runnable, at least for the two miles or so that we ran today. I hear it gets much steeper for the second half.
Everyone was taking it easy today, so we hiked a short portion down low, but after that I settled into a groove and cruised up the mountain at a nice steady pace. The rain had slowed into a drizzle, so the moisture was more of a benefit than a burden, and the trails were wet but not sloppy.
The run down was equally casual, and that was fine with me. My calf is still hurting, so perhaps even that was too much. At least I had fun, though. Also, I almost hit the deck near the bottom, but instead of crashing I pulled out what may have been the best save of my career. Wild stuff.
I got out late for my run at Lambert Park tonight. I hope that I can blame the low light (I ran teh last half by the light of my headlamp) and the mud (it rained all day and it was still raining when I ran) for my slow pace, because otherwise I'm just out of shape. Still, it was a good run and a nice way to end the day.
Grandeur Peak Fun Run (9.2 Miles) 02:04:30, Place overall: 8
First things first: the Grandeur Fun Run is not really fun. And yet I'm sure I'll be back next year. And the next year. And probably as many more years as I'm living in Utah and running.
Before the race I had to deal with three gear decisions: tights or no tights, MT101s or Adizero XTs, and water or poles. I chose tights, MT101s, and poles. Right, wrong, and undecided.
I was in second place right from the start and by the time we hit the real climb I was in the lead. This worried me, because I was hoping to play it safe on the initial climb (last year I went out way too hard, as I often do, and blew up before the summit), and I didn't think that would involve me taking the lead. I was right to be worried, and by about halfway up the climb I was redlining and fading fast. It took about another quarter mile for anyone to pass me, but when I got caught I got caught by three runners.
Shortly after they passed me we hit the snow. This slowed me down a ton, because although there was a well-established trail of footprints through the shin-deep snow, the footprints must have belonged to midgets, and I just couldn't make them fit my stride. Plus, my poles had become essentially useless as they sank into the snow with each step. I decided to break them down right then.
I hit the summit in about 54 minutes with another runner about ten steps behind me. (For reference, my PR up the west face is in the high 40s, and although the snow slowed me down today, it didn't slow me down that much. I'm just nowhere near top form). Because of all the snow, the trail of the summit was buried and the course instead plunged straight down a snowy spine. I thought "no way" and told the guy behind me that he'd better go ahead unless he wanted to get stuck behind me. He bombed down the spine while I slipped, crawled, and picked my way down after him.
I continued creeping along the snowy ridge like the wimp I am, and it didn't take long for my friend Jon and another runner to fly past me. (Anyone who's run in MT101s knows that their traction is a joke, and they were clearly the wrong choice for the day.) But soon the snow ended and I was back on them almost immediately. I flew past Jon behind the other runner, and I stayed on his heels until we hit the bottom of the descent, when he suddenly jumped off the trail (I think there was something in his shoe).
There was an aid station at the bottom, but all they had were jugs of water for refilling bottles. No cups. I was thirsty, but there was nothing I could do without wasting time, so I continued along the Pipeline trail wishing I had brought a handheld rather than my poles. I settled into a 6:40ish groove and was right on the runner ahead of me almost immediately, but it only lasted for about half a mile. I was quickly reminded that I have not run much this year and that very little of what I have done has been on flat terrain. For the rest of the Pipeline, 7:30 was the best I could manage, and the the gap between myself and the guy in front stayed pretty constant.
If Pipeline lit the fuse, the climb up the game trail blew me up. I felt awful, and I pretty much gave up on life right there. To add insult to injury, I lost the trail almost immediately. (In fact, I stayed on the trail last year during the race, and I have yet to replicate the feat, despite many attempts to do so.) I crawled and scrambled up through the brush, and when I finally hit the ridge (after .25 miles and 550 feet, according to my Garmin), I could tell I was nowhere near the trail. So, I looked around and saw Jon and another runner run past a course marking a couple hundred feet below me on the ridge. Crap.
I scrambled down the ridge and got back on course, but by then it was pretty much over. I made it down the steep, technical descent of the ridge and limped back to the start on the final miles of singletrack, taking a major digger with less than a quarter mile to go.
In short, today was not my day. But I am glad I went, even if I was ten minutes slower than last year. (I'm not sure how I placed, so I'll update once results are posted.)
My pride still required that I hit at least 30 miles for the week, so in the evening my brother and I met at the Dray Canyon trailhead for a run/hike/crawl up the Big Baldy direct route. We ran at a leisurely pace up the Dry Canyon trail, hiking the steepest parts, and after a mile we turned onto the actual Big Baldy trail and set into a steady hike. By the time we were a quarter mile from the summit ridge, the combination of mud and a thin layer of snow made the trail so slick that we were forced to crawl until the snow got deep enough for us to post-hole our way (with bloody shins) to the lightning rod on the false summit.We were running out of daylight, so we turned around there. After a very slick and sketchy descent off the top we were able to make decent time on the run back to the car.
I had my Garmin tonight, so I can give a better picture of what the Big Baldy trail is about. According to Connect, it was about 2200 vertical feet from the Dry Canyon trail to the false summit in just one mile. Take that, Grandeur.
Anyways, 13.5 miles and about 7000 feet makes for a pretty good Saturday.
This just might be my highest weekday mileage of the year.
Saturday's race was a reminder of just how much I've slowed down since last year, so I've decided to get back to adding short doubles to my schedule on top of my usual runs. So, this morning I was out before breakfast for a quick 3 miles or so in the flats.
After the rain finally stopped I got out for a run up Grove Creek to Indian Springs. The snow is all gone to that point, but the upper trails are downright boggy. Word to the wise--drainage is the most important feature in a trail shoe for the Wasatch this summer. Followed closely by traction in the mud.
My run back down was very slow, in part because it was getting dark and I didn't want to fall off a cliff, and in part because my right knee hurt. It's amazing how afraid of running I've become after a year of continual knee trouble. Of course, this time the problem could be as simple as the puncture wound on the side of my kneecap after Saturday's run.
In other news, Catherine and I went in for our last ultrasound this morning. Baby is doing fine, and we should meet her within the next few weeks. We're into the endgame now.
I got out for a quick run out of Dry Canyon with Sean (my brother) and Aaron (Catherine's cousin's husband). Aaron lives only a few minutes from the trailhead and he's been a mountain biker for years, so he was able to show Sean and I a few new trails. We headed up Dry Canyon to Trail 51, which we took north a short way before running some trails I'd never seen before that eventually brought us back to the BST. From there Sean headed back to the cars while Aaron and I checked out yet another new (to me) trail to pad our mileage a bit.
AM: A couple of miles in the XC flats just because.
PM: I thought of getting out to log some vert, but I decided to get some easier trail miles instead and headed over to the Draper network. Up Hog('s?) Hollow, down Ghost Falls, up Clark's Trail. There were a few other connector trails in there, but that's pretty much the gist of my route.
I felt pretty good today, except my calves are still protesting the forefoot strike on the descents. Also, on my way up Clark's I passed a group of boy scouts coming down. The kid in front called up to the rest of the troop to warn them that a "jogger" was coming. I must be slow.
Not much to say about tonight's run. We were behind schedule and I didn't feel well, so instead of hiking Big Baldy I ran barefoot in the grass for 30 minutes while Catherine was at her pregnant yoga class.
So, I forgot my Garmin again today, but after looking at GPS files from other runs I'm pretty sure today's route was something like 9.5 miles. I'll call it 9 just to be safe. Of course, that makes it worse when I say that I think it took about 2:30 of actual run time. Sure, I climbed more than 4,000 feet, but I was still very, very slow.
I started at Dry Canyon and headed north on the BST. I could tell almost right away that something was off. My legs felt fine, other than the persistent soreness in my calves that I've gotten used to, but my lungs were not there. As in I felt winded even as I ran the gradual grade out of the parking lot. Plus, I had a bit of a headache that made it hard to focus. Things only got worse, and by the time I hit Battle Creek I was hiking pretty much everything. And by everything I don't mean just the super steep parts.
It's kind of weird, because I felt strong and had some great runs early in the week. Then again, I felt pretty off yesterday and on Thursday, although I didn't think much of it then. Maybe it's allergies. Maybe I've come down with something. Maybe I need to eat a little more. Whatever the reason for my struggles, I decided early in the run just to relax and deal with it. Hiking may not be as good as running, but it will do more to get ready for Speedgoat than doing nothing.
Anyway, back to the run. When I left Battle Creek for Trail 51, things got muddy. Ridiculously muddy. Dragon Vulture mentioned the mud in his report from the Timp Trail Marathon last week, but I had no idea that it was this bad. At one point I took a step and sunk into the mud up to my shins. I just started laughing and kept plodding along, postholing my way through the mud to the top of the hill.
Near the top I came across another runner coming the other way. We chatted for a bit, and then I started the gradual descent into Dry Canyon. There was no more mud here, but the trail was chewed up from people and horses coming through when there was mud. Normally I would have flown down this descent. Today my head wasn't in it, and I was pretty slow.
When I got to Dry Canyon, I thought I should return to the car and call it a day, but instead I headed up the canyon and soon found myself turning onto the Big Baldy trail. I ended up hiking all the way to the lightning rod at the false summit. Unlike last week, there was almost no snow or mud on the trail, so I think I was faster today despite feeling trashed. Of course, I don't think it's possible to do that trail without feeling trashed. I mentioned last week that it's about 2200 feet over one mile, and after today I'm pretty sure that about 1500 of them are in the last half mile.
Anyways, from the top it was time to call it a day. I crashed twice on the descent (running on those little rocks can be like running on ball bearings), but both times were at low speeds and I was up and running without skipping a beat.
Out for a "run" up Grandeur Peak this morning. I hit snow after a mile, and shortly after that I was trudging through 6-8 inches of powder. I wasn't the first person up that way, so I was able to follow a trail through the snow until just past two miles, when the footprints disappeared. By then I was up to my knees in the snow, so I decided not to break a trail the rest of the way to the summit.
Obviously, my plan to run the loop was out, so I turned around and headed back down. Snow, slush, mud, and slippery rocks made for a slow, sketchy first mile of the descent.
For those of you who may be running the Squaw 50 next week, here's what the Wasatch looks like at 8,000 feet. Have fun at 10,000 :)
Because my run this morning was shorter than planned, I decided to get out for a quick couple of miles this evening. All I did was check out a little loop of the Dry Canyon BST. After that I ran 6 repeats up the big stairs at the bottom of Dry Canyon (about .05 miles and 50 feet). I can tell that my knee does not like running around downhill switchbacks.
I was too tired to get up for a quick run this morning, which was probably not a bad thing since I've been feelings all kinds of trouble in my right knee lately. Not an injury--yet--but it feels like I'm on the cusp.
After missing my morning run, I thought I'd play it safe and cross train at the gym tonight, but the weather convinced me otherwise, and I ran the out and back up Grove Creek to Indian Springs. Absolutely stunning. If you haven't been there this year, go now. The best part is that despite the storm this weekend, the trail is in better condition than it was last week.
My knee hurt early in the climb, and it was acting up enough at the top that I decided not to extend the run into a loop through Battle Creek. But on the way down all trouble went away, and as of now it feels pretty good. I'm sure the soreness will come back in a bit, but for now I feel encouraged.
Anyways, I've been thinking of new routes in the area, and I think I have one for Saturday if my knee and the weather hold. Jun, I'm telling you--do what you can to un-busyify your schedule for a few hours on Saturday. You won't want to miss this one.