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.
Sat, May 21, 2011
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.
Adidas Adizero XT Miles: 4.00
MT101 Miles: 9.20
From Jon on Sun, May 22, 2011 at 08:51:21 from 18.104.22.168
"Fun Run" indeed. Sounds like a learning adventure, with some fun mixed in. Nice work.
From jun on Sun, May 22, 2011 at 12:52:21 from 22.214.171.124
Punish yourself much? Wow, great report. Here are a couple of follow-up thoughts:
1. If you ever actually stayed 'on course' during a race I'd be sad and disappointed.
2. Taking a digger with a quarter mile left is a bit shameful, but it at least shows your determination to finish strong. So you get respect for that.
3. Did our outing on trail 51 a while back not beat your shins up enough for you to not repeat it?
Hahaha, I really wish I could have been there. I would have been much slower, but it would also have been much more fun then taking the last 3 days off for work and kids.
From Faceless Ghost on Mon, May 23, 2011 at 00:33:06 from 126.96.36.199
Jon was carrying a camera on his pole during the race and made a pretty sweet little video of the whole thing. I've embedded it in the post above. As if it wasn't already long and busy enough.
From jun on Mon, May 23, 2011 at 00:41:23 from 188.8.131.52
Great video, loved it.
From Scott Wesemann on Mon, May 23, 2011 at 12:58:07 from 184.108.40.206
I was bummed I couldn't make it this year. For blowing up you still had a really fast time. Sucks you took a 'digger' but it's a cool pic :)
I actually liked the video.
Way to finish off the day strong with BB. That is a tough day. Nice.
From Dragonvulture on Mon, May 23, 2011 at 16:50:27 from 220.127.116.11
Looks like a blast. I was hoping to do this this year, but schedules did not match up very good. Maybe next year. How you looking for Squaw in 2 weeks?
From Faceless Ghost on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 00:22:14 from 18.104.22.168
DV -- I decided to defer my registration till next year, mostly because of my knee and my lack of training. And given the amount of snow up there right now, I'm not regretting my decision.
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